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Life of Colleen: December 2008

Posts This Month
·· Wardrobe analysis, 2009
·· NCIS Gibbs rules
·· I, ah, don't care for the hat
·· Dr. Hauschka shampoo review: Nasturtium and Lemon, part 2
·· Mederma review, part 1
·· Sundance Catalog sale
·· More sentimental journeying
·· U2 used to be good!
·· Dr. Hauschka shampoo review: Macadamia and Orange (part 2)
·· Shoe randomness
·· A page from my past
·· Quintessential English white guy music
·· Yadda yadda
·· Some touches of Jamaica

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Wardrobe analysis, 2009
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-31 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

As we roll up the sidewalks on 2008, I'd like to write a post about wardrobes.

I've almost concluded developing mine...I'm afraid I'm not a very good impulse shopper. I actually dislike shopping. But it's that dislike that makes me want to buy higher quality clothing (whilst trying to avoid higher quality prices). To state the obvious, cheap stuff falls apart, and then you're stuck shopping all over again.

This wardrobe development has been a puzzle to me, and once the puzzle is solved, you want a different puzzle. I went through something similar before, to fathom the universe of beauty products. It is next to infinite, but there always comes a point when you have solved the puzzle and that's it.

I believe this runs contrary to how women are supposed to think. We are supposed to spend our entire lives shopping. However well that might be for retail, I feel it actually makes you a lousy shopper; if you're simply going to replace something after a year or two, why scrutinize the process? Why discern?

My goal has been to develop a working wardrobe that will last roughly five to ten years. I can't afford the twenty-year wardrobe, in terms of the items and of the care they would require. But I can afford the five- to ten-year one. And for the same money, or way more, it would be just as easy to buy a one- to two-year wardrobe--and still have nothing to wear in the morning.

Only time will tell if I've done this right, but I can admit I've been pretty pleased with my collection. I like my clothes. I'm still experimenting (and bombing) with what goes with what, but I feel my clothes are...practical...without looking, ah, masculine.

I actually don't want to look masculine, I find it annoying. Not if anyone else wants to look masculine, I just find the concept of a programmer having to look masculine incredibly annoying. Yet men's clothes are more practical, which, being a programmer, I find attractive. I suppose I've wanted to capture the practical aspect of men's clothing...and men's shopping style, where they're willing to drop more money, if the quality is there, in order to not have to shop too often...without having to look masculine.

It's not as easy as it sounds. Some items, like women's shoes, are by definition either impractical or ugly. The construction is so. It's either that or wear totally masculine shoes. I was drawn to Cydwoqs on the premise that Cydwoq makes shoes you can walk in, without the dreaded look of "comfort shoes." (Oh well, there's always Ebay.)

It's 10:10 in the evening, and I feel this is an auspicious time to conclude this meandering post and usher in the new year.

Thanks for reading!


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NCIS Gibbs rules
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-30 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

NCIS S04E11 Part 5 "Driven" (spoiler, if you haven't seen it)

I've recently gotten into this show, and I like it. For one thing, in one of the episodes, a pivotal piece of evidence contained computer code. The man accused of writing the code stated he didn't write it, and if they would look at it, they would see he didn't write that code. Correct: no two people write code the same way. (You'd have to watch the episode in full to grasp the motive for the crime, but it's also pretty universal.)

The main character of the show is Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon. From imdb.com:

Periodically Gibbs mentions a rule. In Season 3 episode, Switch, Gibbs tells Ziva there are about 50 rules.

Here are the ones we know so far:

Rule #1: Never let suspects stay together. From episode Yankee White (season 1)

Rule #1: Never screw (over) your partner. From episode Blowback (season 4)

Rule #2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene. From episode Yankee White (season 1)

Rule #3: Don't believe what you're told. Double check. From episode Yankee White (season 1)

Rule #3: Never be unreachable. From episode Deception (season 3)

Rule #4: If you have a secret, the best thing is to keep it to yourself. The second-best is to tell one other person if you must. There is no third-best. From episode Blowback (season 4)

Rule #7: Always be specific when you lie. From episode Reveille (season 1)

Rule #8: Never take anything for granted. From episode Probie (season 3)

Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife. From episode One Shot, One Kill (season 1), Missing (season 1) and Probie (season 3)

Rule #12: Never date a coworker. From episode Enigma (season 1) and Minimum Security (season 1)

Rule #15: Always work as a team. From episode Leap of Faith (season 5)

Rule #18: It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. From episode Silver War (season 3)

Rule #22: Never, ever bother Gibbs in interrogation. From episode Smoked (season 4)

Rule #23: Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live. From episode Forced Entry (season 2)

Another one of Gibbs' rules which is used more often than the others, but without a number, is "Never say you're sorry, it's a sign of weakness." According to DiNozzo, another rule is "Never date a woman who eats more than you."


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I, ah, don't care for the hat
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-29 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

claudia schulz hat
image courtesy claudiaschulz.com

...but what killer photography. Actually makes you want to buy the hat. :D


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Dr. Hauschka shampoo review: Nasturtium and Lemon, part 2
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-28 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

dr. hauschka nasturtium and lemon shampoo

See Dr. Hauschka shampoo review: Nasturtium and Lemon, part 1

I see this was initially reviewed October 30 of this year--one great thing about blogging is you don't have to remember anything, you just have to know how to look it up. :D

I started out using this more or less regularly, then began using it daily, on my scalp. On the rest of my hair, I alternate other shampoos, such as Avalon Organics Lavender or Lemon.

Pretty much, it's gotten rid of my long-term itchy scalp. Before I came across this, I had read many posts and some articles about itchy scalp, and not one recommended this shampoo. The typical recommendation was Nizoral or tea tree oil shampoo. I tried the latter, never got around to trying the former, but over the long term I can't say it worked.

I've become a great fan of German skincare. It's not the cheapest stuff, but it is affordable, particularly when used judiciously. It's not luxe, but it works. You have to stick with it...which again makes sense (I'm suspicious of skincare which works immediately, miraculously, because it tends to be too harsh used over the long run).

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Mederma review, part 1
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-26 at 10:21 PM (Pacific)


I've been using this since the beginning of December. The short version is I was in a boating accident late November, while in Jamaica. Something hit me on the head, and the gash required nine stitches. It was a nice straight gash (according to the doctor who did the stitches) and I felt rather fortunate, could have been a lot worse...anyhow, I started using Mederma a couple of days after the stitches were removed.

Though it's a bit difficult for me to say whether this stuff works, in the sense I never bothered treating a scar before--since this was on my face, I thought I should try fading it--and it's been only four weeks of the recommended eight--still I feel it's working. The shallower part of the scar is nice and soft. The deeper end still feels a bit thick and hard, but again it's early in the game.

Mederma is basically onion extract along with botanical extracts and perfume (so you don't smell like an onion). You are to massage a thin layer into the scar three to four times per day for eight weeks, for new scars (old scars requiring three to six months of the same treatment). It's over the counter, and Costco carries it at some discount.

Mederma is the tiniest bit oily when you're applying it, but when it's dry, it's perfectly smooth. No need to worry your hair will get stuck in it, et cetera. I did a little Net research on scars beforehand; apparently at least part of the mechanism is the massage itself. The idea is, scars form when your skin is cut deeply enough so that collagen comes to the surface. What you're doing is trying to break down the collagen.

Hence the onion extract, in a base which holds the extract onto the scar. It really sounds like marinating meat in onion juice. Which stands to reason.

I'll post again after the full eight weeks, if not sooner.

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Sundance Catalog sale
posted by Colleen Shirazi at 8:29 PM (Pacific)

Sundance Catalog

I slogged out to Corte Madera today, along with all the other intrepid post-holiday recession-istas. It was difficult even finding a parking space that wasn't a spit-fit. For parallel parking I actually don't mind jacking the car into the spot, but for lot parking, my worst nightmare is some bastard flinging open his door and dinging mine.

It was well worth it, since the Sundance b & m store had the same markdowns as the site. Sundance is as bad as Jjill in that items don't always resemble their Internet or catalog photos. For example, I saw some of these:

sundance catalog toasty tweed sweater

...which I'd been semi-lusting over for quite some time. Machine washable, plus no wool (unfortunately, anything woollen attracts clothes moths around here). Not horribly expensive either. Yet in person, I was a bit underwhelmed, even over the red model above. The color was not saturated enough; when you want a red sweater, it's gotta be red.

However, the skirt:

sundance catalog nightfall cargo skirt

...was $30, down from $95. I had been pondering this skirt for a while. You can't lose with a black skirt (it comes in green as well as espresso brown, but I couldn't find the green in the store). A black skirt goes with everything; every top or sweater you ever owned or will ever own. I have a black cotton voile skirt I wear every week...the bugger is that it gets wrinkled, being voile, and I generally don't repeat the same skirt in the same week anyway. So I've been turning over the concept of two black skirts in my mind, for months.

A possible solution would be a black suede or leather skirt, which tends to look fresh no matter how badly you treat it, but that's a bit more formal-looking than I want for my workplace.

Another way is the prosaic black wool pencil skirt, but I wanted something different. I don't have a suit workplace, so again it would veer to the overly formal, and would require drycleaning to boot.

And the thing has pockets. How I crave pockets. Why do men's jackets have inner pockets, and ours don't? Don't hand me the crap that we carry purses. There's still no logic why our jackets can't have inner pockets.

I was afraid the skirt would be too short--on the model it's almost a mini--but factoring in the "model height skirt factor," it was a decent length on me. And the velveteen was quite warm, thick and cushy.

I was going to hit up Jjill afterward, but it seemed a bit redundant; what I'd wanted was a machine washable black skirt, and I got it for $30 at Sundance.

My solitary complaint was the Sundance store didn't have enough shoes and boots on hand. They did have these:

calleen cordero ballet flats

Calleen Cordero's studded ballet flats, handmade in the U.S., for a reasonable $159.99. These looked even nicer in person. There were sundry Frye boots and shoes, other boots, other shoes, but they needed more shoes. Where else are you going to buy shoes, outside of specialty shoe shops? The shoes at Nordstrom and Macy's are horrible, I don't even bother.

Happy holidays and thanks for reading!

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More sentimental journeying
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-24 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Billy Joel - Only The Good Die Young

Come out Virginia, don't let me wait
You Catholic girls start much too late
But sooner or later it comes down to fate
I might as well be the one

Well they showed you a statue, told you to pray
They built you a temple and locked you away
But they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done
Only the good die young
That's what I said
Only the good die young

You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd
We ain't too pretty, we ain't too proud
We might be laughing a bit too loud
But that never hurt no one

So come on Virginia show me a sign
Send up a signal I'll throw you a line
The stained glass curtain you're hiding behind
Never lets in the sun
Darling only the good die young
I tell ya only the good die young

You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
You got a brand new soul
And a cross of gold
But Virginia they didn't give you quite enough information
You didn't count on me
When you were counting on your rosary

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun
You know that only the good die young
Only the good die young

You said your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation
She never cared for me
But did she ever say a prayer for me?

Come out come out come out Virginia don't let me wait
You Catholic girls start much too late
Sooner or later it comes down to fate
I might as well be the one
You know that only the good die young
I tell you baby
You know that only the good die young
Only the good die young

They actually played this on our G-d fearing radio back in the 70's. Of course all the Catholics got it right away. sighs You won't hear it now, but not only because of the lyrics. Joel disappeared from our Clear-Channelled airwaves along with all the other working-class-style singers.

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U2 used to be good!
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-23 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

U2 - Another Time, Another Place

Finally found an embeddable U2 video. And just when I was going to write something nice about them.

U2 were once an excellent band, and I played this record, their first, countless times. This particular song evokes a beach in North Carolina I used to drive to. Unlike Virginia Beach, Virginia, or Norfolk's Ocean View, the North Carolinian beach was obscure and only the locals went there. It was fantastic, in the literal sense, because I've always been in love with the sea.

There were little tubular waves; you could see sunlight through their green-blue translucence. I used to just sit there and read a book. No one bothered me.

Bright morning lights
Wipe the sleep from another day's eye
Turn away from the wall
And there's nothing at all
Being naked and afraid
In the open space of my bed
I'll be with you now
I'll be with you now
I'll be with you now
We lie on a cloud
We lie

Just as I am
I awoke with a tear on my tongue
I awoke with a feeling of never before
In my sleep I discover the one
But she ran with the morning sun

I'll be with you now
I'll be with you now
I'll be with you now

We lie on a cloud
We lie
Another time, another place
We lie
Another child has lost the race
We lie
Another time, another place
We lie
Your time, your place

We lie
Another time, another place
We lie
Another child has lost the race

(something in German, I think)

We lie
Another time, another place
We lie
Your time, your place

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Dr. Hauschka shampoo review: Macadamia and Orange (part 2)
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-16 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

dr. hauschka macadamia and orange shampoo

See Dr. Hauschka shampoo review: Macadamia and Orange (part 1)

I've utterly ditched the concept of using this on my hair...which is naturally oily, and colored at home (ergo, dry ends). This shampoo is far too moisturizing, even for the ends of my hair.

Unlike Hauschka's oily-skin skincare--also abundantly emollient--Macadamia and... does not work, at least on me. I just get oily hair.

That doesn't mean I've tossed it, by any means, as it makes a great moisturizing additive to my shower gel. The shampoo doesn't lather sufficiently to use alone for this purpose, but shaking in a few drops on top of my usual gel has been hydrating for wintery-parched skin. Its scent is rich and somehow almost ambery, for being comprised of oranges and nuts.

I can't claim I'd purchase this for use as a shower gel addition, since it makes more sense to, ah, just buy a shower gel. It's a nice-enough product though, and I have to speculate whether it would work sublimely for super dry hair.

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Shoe randomness
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-14 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

'Tis the season, with the bad drivers to prove it so. :) The thing is to drive more carefully now; the traffic is going to suck. I always get the thousand-year-old dude pulling in front of me (why? does it say "thousand-year-old-dude merge here" in front of my car?) and it's like...just accept it.

I got out to Rabat Shoes in Berkeley today to check out the shoes! I still haven't bought shoes. I've decided that's what I want for Christmas (we tend to give each other cash in my household). It was lovely seeing the Cydwoqs, but the selection is too limited. The atmosphere is nice, but I just need to see more Cydwoqs. They had the "Handel" boot there:

cydwoq handel boot

In person, it doesn't appear quite as funky, but the design is a skosh too un-conservative for what I have in mind. It's next to ideal as a casual boot. Even though they didn't have my size on hand (which is a peeve I have with them...with shoes in this price range, you need to try on your size, not have them bring it in from another store)--the shoe part was a bit too large--the boot upper fit like a dream. I'd forgotten but I had boots like that when I was a kid: snug-fitting with a zipper on the inside.

Handel wasn't a tall boot, nor was it a "shootie," but rather something in between. Which again could be ideal; warmer than a shootie, yet not as potentially sweaty as a tall boot, should the weather change mid-day.

I'm hoping to make it out to Bulo Shoes in the City tomorrow. At least on their site, they seem to have more choices.

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A page from my past
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-12 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Grace Jones - 'Pull Up To The Bumper' on Later (HQ)

I swear to G-d, I'm not a pervert. (First Inner Circle's "Sweat," now this...) But I love this song.

"Listening to music" is now as much a visual experience as aural, but that was not true in 1981 when this record was released. So imagine for a moment, this cold, almost harsh-sounding female voice (the above live version is quite a bit softer), wrapped sinuously around that central guitar hook, above a marriage of driving beat and bass. Still sounds fresh, even with its underlying tail-end of disco.

John Lennon - Gimme Some Truth

John Lennon wasn't exactly extolled in 1970's Norfolk, Virginia. Only a handful of his songs made it to mainstream radio. This obviously wasn't one of them. I heard it the first time when I bought the record--it's on Imagine--and fell instantly in love. George Harrison plays lead guitar.

Yoko Ono - Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him

The highly underrated Yoko Ono. I feel the real reason people threw so much crap at her...besides she was a female intellectual, people found her intimidating, hey it's always easy to blame the broad for everything anyway...was simply a matter of timing.

In the 1960's and 70's, World War II was ever present...nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever been as funny to me as The Producers, which I saw on tv sometime in the early 70's...it was like...they're laughing about this thing? Ono was Japanese in a bad time to be Japanese.

Play this song; you'll be hooked.

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Quintessential English white guy music
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-10 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

The Kinks - Definite Maybe

Yay! Someone finally put up this song. And the lyrics (from Dave Emlen's Unofficial Kinks Web Site):

Got a letter through the post that says I don't exist.
Apparently the new computer thinks I won't be missed.
We need more facts, perhaps you would find out and forward them.
There's no proof or trace or date or place or where or when.
Central Information's got no news today (no news today).
Is there a change in my position?
No decision, no decision.

All I ever get is a definite maybe.

Head office thinks I'm dead,
But I'm not even ill.
How do I get attention,
Tell me who I have to kill.
Is there a change in my condition?
Not today.
The answer comes with repetition,
No decision, no decision.

'Round and 'round the circle goes,
Stood in line but the counter was closed.
And when I ask who is responsible,
Nobody knows, "Try one of those."

All I want is a yes or a no,
(All he wants is a yes or a no).
But all I ever get is a definite maybe.
Tried to make my life a misery,
But they don't want to know,
They don't want to know,
They don't want to know.

And all I ever get is a definite maybe.
No decision, no decision.

Surely there must be a way to open all the doors,
And wade through all the petty bureaucratic little laws.
Frustration everywhere I turn, I just get more and more.
Everyone's got problems and they've heard all mine before.

Oh, I'm tired of making endless calls.
(Somebody help this poor man.)
Banging my head against the wall.
I walk along an endless corridor,
Then I knock on the door, then I realize
That I've been there before.
No one here can hear my case.
So all I ever get is a definite maybe.
When they say, "no news today, get back in the queue,"
What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?
No decision, no decision.
No decision.
All I ever get (no decision) is a definite maybe (no decision).

Lloyd Cole, 'Perfect Blue', 1985

Cole wasn't the best singer (sorry), but he was hard to beat in terms of lyric-writing. Which, after all, is the strength of the English. They wrote the freakin' manual. :D

Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing (High quality)

Surprise! But I don't think anyone can do better English white guy music than Chrissie Hynde (and her band of actual Englishmen). There were other videos for this tune, but, like any rabid Pretenders fan, I'm a bit sentimental toward the original line-up.

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Yadda yadda
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-08 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Joan Armatrading - Me Myself I

Sorry about the plethora of musical videos, paired with an utter dearth of content. I haven't had much time to blog in a while.

I had to post that one anyway as I'd completely forgotten about the song, though not about Armatrading. My friend back home was heavily into her (as I was into Chrissie Hynde), but it's hard to resist lyrics such as these:

I sit here by myself
And you know I love it
You know I don't want someone
To come pay a visit

I wanna be by myself
I came in this world alone
Me myself I

I want to go to China
And to see Japan
I'd like to sail the oceans
Before the seas run dry

I wanna go by myself
I've just room enough for one
Me myself I

I wanna be a big shot
And have ninety cars
I wanna have a boyfriend
And a girl for laughs

But only on Saturdays
Six days to be alone
With just me myself I
Me myself and I
Just me myself I

Don't want to be the bad guy
Don't want to make a soul cry
It's not that I love myself
I just don't want company
Except me myself I
Me myself and I
Just me myself I

I sit here by myself
And you know I love it
You know I don't want someone
To come pay a visit

I wanna be by myself
I came in this world alone
Me myself I
Me myself I
Me myself and I
Just me myself I

Once I stumbled across this on Youtube, I recalled the song blazing out from the radio (yes, we had "radios" back then), and the idea of a woman standing up and saying she wanted to be alone was (and is) quite radical. I suppose a Greta Garbo comes along every few decades or so. :D

So, what have I been up to, beauty- and fashion-wise. Not much. I replaced my MAC Blot pressed powder, after months of parsimoniously chasing the ring o' powder left in the compact. It lasts a surprisingly long time that way, assuming you don't want a lot of powder at once. I've long fallen out of love with MAC, but you can't beat MAC Blot pressed with a stick; nothing like it anywhere.

Also repurchased Dr. Hauschka Nasturtium and Lemon shampoo. I'd brought my first bottle to Jamaica, where I needed to wash my hair twice per day--I'm picky about having clean hair in the morning, and you have to shower off the salt water in the evening before you dress up and eat dinner. Nasturtium and... did very well there.

Its claim to calm itchy scalp is valid, with consistent use. In fact I use Nasturtium and... on the top of my head, and some other shampoo on the rest of my hair. That way I get neither bored nor buildup, and it cuts the cost some.

Other than that, I've been doing more recession-ista shopping. Even as the prices of things you have to buy skyrocket, the prices of things you could probably live without have dropped dramatically. It's well to stock up; you don't need to bring out everything at once.

Joan Armatrading: Ma-Me-O-Beach (04/19/1980)

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Some touches of Jamaica
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-06 at 5:40 PM (Pacific)

Inner Circle - Sweat (A La La La La Long)

Okay, it's a bit raunchy, yet also kind of touching and romantic. I love how part of the video appears slapped together, as if they'd gone to one of the resorts and just asked people there to dance in the ocean behind them. Yet the cafe scenes are carefully composed, down to the band tapping percussion on coffee cups. And then there are the luminous Jamaican beauties. A perfect video.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Safe European Home

Perhaps a slightly less favorable impression of Jamaica ("I'd stay and be a tourist, but I can't take the gunplay"). I had Give 'em Enough Rope on an 8-track, believe it or not, back in the day.

Grace Jones - My Jamaican Guy

I always kind of dug Grace Jones. Thinking back on it, she did everything "wrong," which is why...I dug her. Instead of being pressured into lightness and whiteness, she played up her beautiful dark skin, making it appear literally black. She neither grew nor straightened her hair, but cut it in a sharp masculine flat-top. (I'm fairly sure this predated the flat-top trend for black hair.) She didn't do the delicate femininity of the era, but rather made herself masculine, intimidating even, at times, yet she was all sweet girl inside, as evidenced by this tribute to her Jamaican guy.

This song was famously sampled by LL Cool J by the way.

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