ma_vie_en_paris: (omgwtf)

Dear Washing Machine Manufacturer )

Dear Job-Search Wiki )

Dear Life, )


May. 15th, 2008 12:54 pm
ma_vie_en_paris: (Red Romana)
Note to self:

Unbaked cookies, even ones with oatmeal, are not heavy enough to force flat the silicone mat that you have kept rolled up in a drawer for several years.

In other words: The mat, if bigger than the cookie sheet you put it on, will almost certainly go back to its default, rolled shape, even with the cookie dough on it.


Jun. 30th, 2007 07:01 pm
ma_vie_en_paris: (misbehave)
ma_vie_en_paris: (Yatta!)
I should know better than to try and guess my answer in advance! I think I'm not disappointed, though.

Your Score: Micah Sanders

You scored 58 Idealism, 37 Nonconformity, 45 Nerdiness

Can we play Scrabble tonight?

Congratulations, you're Micah Sanders! You're good-natured, intelligent, perceptive, and naturally inclined toward technology. You're also quite innocent and loving. You've got a fondness for computers and Scrabble.

Your best quality: You're extremely perceptive
Your worst quality: You can be a little demanding at times

Link: The Heroes Personality Test written by freedomdegrees on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
ma_vie_en_paris: (Doctor!)
It is hot, so I have the fan on.

The fan blows air across my ear, which gives me a headache.

So I turn the fan off, which makes me hot.

Now I am hot AND I have a headache.

So I turn the fan on ...

In other news, idea maps are lots of fun. Doctor Who makes me happy. Family reunions, and being "the only person in the family who plays piano", not so much. Getting ready to write another chapter? Is 'trepidacious' a word? Cause if not, I call dibs.

Tag clouds? Wicked cool.
ma_vie_en_paris: (Ewan dream (with kitten!))
I'd like to go the airport, slap my credit card on the counter, and say, "Book me on the first flight out of here. I don't care where it's going." 

And do the same at the next airport, and the next, and the next, until my credit ran out.

I wonder how far I could get?
ma_vie_en_paris: (IQ)

Just finished watching another round of auditions on American Idol.  It's like America's greatest renewable resource*: there are always new, more horrible people auditioning and I am constantly surprised by just how awful they are. Plus, no one ever wants to admit that the reason they don't move on is because they suck.

No, instead they must blame the system, and the failed contestant gets all riled up because the judges on the show are, like, you know, JUDGING, and saying that they're bad and stuff, when the truth is the contestant is just a person, just like the judges are people and they have NO RESPECT for all the work that the contestant has done and TOTALLY THE JUDGES SHOULD JUST PASS THEM ON MERIT, BECAUSE COME ON, LOOK AT ME!!

Since when did the role of judge not include any actual judging?

Since never.

But on every version of the 'talent' show this is the constant lament of the truly awful contestant. OMG THE JUDGES JUDGED ME AND WHO SAID THEY COULD DO THAT?

Dude! You did when you signed the application form!

And I totally spotted perhaps the most entitled "So You Think You Can Dance" auditioner EVAH in the musical montage segment ... and as bad a dancer as he was, he was twenty times worse as a singer.

I can go to bed a happy woman.

*or crack. There are arguments to be made on both sides.

ma_vie_en_paris: (Ewan dream (with kitten!))
Such a crazy term! Teaching two classes, saying farewell to beloved kitty Zelda, welcoming a new little kitty into my life, watching my sister get ever bigger with "Mo" aka "Denise or Denephew"; parents moving house, sick friends, engaged friends, friends needing cat-sitting services, friends needing baby-sitting services ... this list could go on for hours.

ma_vie_en_paris: (omgwtf)
ma_vie_en_paris: (Holland)
I have received a few enquiring emails from friends wondering if my trip is over, as there's been nothing posted in the LJ for a few days. 

It's true! I am home. It just never ocurred to me that I should post about that, as it is probably the least interesting part of the trip, lol! 

And of course, there's always so much to do after two weeks away: laundry, mail, work and So You Think You Can Dance episodes to catch up on! Plus, now that I'm home I need to restart the dissertation countdown, and, of course, I have two courses to plan and prepare. 

Overall, though, I'm extremely glad we came home last Thursday and not this Thursday, even if our flight was delayed an hour on departure because Charles de Gaulle airport had only one runway open for take-off. (Oh, France! It's a good thing you have such delicious pastry!)

And now, off to see my sister, who is feeling kicks and has a baby pooch!

ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)

As always, Paris continues to surprise the unwary traveller with many new and unusual treats. For instance, for the past twenty minutes, Mom and I have been entertained by a brass band playing in the square of the St. Michel fountain, which we can see from our hotel room. Lovely, except that they bring more enthusiasm than proficiency to their performance (although I was particularly struck by their rendition of "I was made for lovin' you"). 

Our hotel is in the midst of quite a touristy area, which hasn't made for the most wonderful meals, and has made for some very crowded streets. But we are, as promised, in close proximity to everything, like Notre-Dame and the Louvre. In fact, the first night we arrived we walked around the cathedral and along the Seine.

Yesterday we went out to Saint-Denis, the burial place of French kings. It's apparently the first cathedral in the Gothic style in France and was really spectacular: it had beautiful stained glass, and the memorials to the kings (some covering their tombs, some simply monuments) were wonderful. We saw the tombs of Pepin the Short and his wife, Bertha Big-Foot. The tomb of Henri II and Catherine de Medici was also very beautiful. The atmosphere in the cathedral (during the first half-hour we were there, and before all the tourists came) was unbelievably still and peaceful. Then it was off for lunch and back into Paris, where Mom and I separated for the afternoon.

I went off down to the Mitterand site of the BN to renew my reader card (much busier than in February, although the renewal process was very simple), and then back up to the BN-Musique to see about copying out more of the partial scores I brought home last year (I was trying to save a few euros, but of course now I wish I had the whole thing). Alas, Paris has been suffering through a heatwave (now past) and ALL the paper in the ONE functioning microfilm copier was sticking. I made a grand total of 10 copies before the machine and the librarian both gave up the ghost. "Come back tomorrow," said the librarian "or perhaps Wednesday, and maybe the machine will be fixed by then." So back to the hotel I went, where I found Mom similarly disappointed: she had wanted to visit the Orsay, which was closed on Monday, as were most of the shops she wanted to visit (mostly antiques).

As if that weren't trouble enough, Mom's camera has been acting up (something is loose somewhere inside, so that it can't complete its warmup routine) and no one has been able to direct her to a shop which might be able to repair it. 

This led to much disappointment last night during our after-dark river cruise, during which I took five times as many pictures as usual to compensate for the fact that Mom couldn't take any. I think I might have about twenty or thirty pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night. But some of that can be explained by the fact that the Tower itself lit up in a spectacular display of sparkling lights just as our boat cruised by.

Today we explored the Garnier opera house (because the BN-Opera didn't have the stuff I wanted on microfilm either, so no copies from them!) and then I went back to the BN-Musique (where the machines were still not working). We passed by the Orsay but the line to get in was so big that as we were leaving another pair of women rounded the corner, saw the line, and started laughing almost in despair. 

Tomorrow we're going out to Fontainebleau (I hope). We hope to buy a train/bus/chateau admission package, but considering our average in Paris so far ... I think we had better be prepared with a backup plan! (Yay! Versailles!)

ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)
It seems like only yesterday that we arrived here in Warsaw, and now it is already time to leave. The conference has kept me incredibly busy, and I only managed a bit of sightseeing here and there. Our first night we explored a park across from the hotel which had a huge square:

The conference itself was a lot of fun:

In Poland!

Jul. 25th, 2006 09:18 am
ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)

Just a quick note to let everyone know that we are here safe and sound. We've had a bit of a nap, but I could definitely use more! Especially considering that Air France has apparently decided not to pay any airport docking fees this year! 

In Paris the plane parked opposite the terminal, so we had to take a bus all around the exterior of Charles de Gaulle airport (a trip we then repeated to get to our terminal for our flight to Poland). We found the gate for our Warsaw flight, went down the hallway, to a set of stairs, which we took down to ... another bus! That bus also went all around the exterior of the airport until we arrived at another set of stairs, which we climbed UP to our plane. 

Then when our plane landed in Warsaw, guess what? Yep, once again we parked OPPOSITE the terminal and took the bus in. We whizzed through Polish customs (I handed over my passport, the guy looked at it, stamped it, handed it back and shut off his light. Done for the day!), waited FOREVER for our luggage to come off the plane (hey, maybe it took a trip around the airport too!), found a taxi and off to the hotel. 

And soon it will be time for supper and then, bed again.

ma_vie_en_paris: (Holland)

Only four more days until I leave for Poland, and somehow it doesn't seem possible that I will manage to get all the things done on my list before I have to go! Errands to run, things to clean, things to wash, things to pack, things to print out and other things to photocopy ... Eep! 

Tomorrow I have to go and pick up my Polish money at the bank; today I got my new passport (and can someone explain why it costs more money to pick up the passport myself, rather than have it sent to me via registered mail?).

None of which explains why I am at the moment ensconced on the sofa, watching the results show of So You Think You Can Dance. But it's pretty comfortable, I must confess.

And I found a workable outline for my twentieth-century class. Plus a cool article in the New York Times on a hyper-modern composer.

So, overall, I'm not ready to be super stressed just yet.

There'll be plenty of time for that tomorrow!

ma_vie_en_paris: (omgwtf)
It's done! The chapter that took seven months is done!

Okay it's only the first draft, but don't rain on my parade, dammit!

Finally I can walk down the hallway past my advisor's office again. 

*does happy little dance of being done*
ma_vie_en_paris: (catnip)
And I'm pretty sure that no one is reading this anymore ...

But if you happen to stop by, leave me a comment?

I will be updating with new adventures in July, when I'm going to POLAND!

ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)
The surprises never stop coming here in France. I have found a McDonald’s with wireless in Lyon – only a few steps from my hotel, in fact! Yesterday I took the TGV from Paris to Lyon; it took about two hours and traveled through some very lovely countryside. At first everything was quite flat, then it became rather hilly, although never really mountainous, which was slightly disappointing.

Once we arrived in Lyon, I tried to find the tourist office that I was sure would be in the train station. After all, every other significant station I’ve been in (which is to say, Amsterdam and Paris) has had a tourist office. I wanted to see about a hotel; I thought it would probably be easier to get a room first thing, rather than wait until the evening to see if I needed to stay and if there were then anything available. But, guess what? No tourist office at the Lyon Part-Dieu train station! So I went instead to the first hotel I found – which had a decent weekend rate of 49 euros for a room with a private bath (shower only) and cable (1 English station, BBC World). They let me into the room right away – but the best part? The hotel is just across the street from the library!

So, of course, that’s where I went next; it took a bit of hunting to find the entrance to the library, and once I did, another surprise. When I had looked up the Lyon library on the internet, it looked like their hours were Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but in fact, it’s Tuesdays through Fridays and Saturdays. I could have come anytime this week! In addition to visiting the library, I needed to find the municipal archives for Lyon; I got the address and took the tram to Lyon’s other major train station, Perrache. Then I had to try to find the street. The map I have shows the street, but a lot of it is covered up with the list of transit lines that leave from the Perrache station. I took what I thought was the most direct way, and found the street, but not the number I was looking for. I needed 18 and the street appeared, on one side, to go only to 17. On the other side of the street? Was a prison. I stopped for directions, and had to go back to the train station and around the other side to find 18, which was actually right next to the train station and not difficult to find at all.

However, I do think it would make an entertaining task on the Amazing Race, since no one knew where the archives were.

I spent a few hours at the archives, squinting at microfilms and actual documents, then I hopped back on the tram and returned to the library. The tram itself travels through some beautiful areas of town, and gives you a glimpse of the really old section of town, which is up on a hill. I hope to get there this afternoon. They have a beautiful old cathedral there, and some Roman ruins, and in fact the entire area has been declared a Unesco world heritage site. (Another good reason for the Amazing Race to come here.)

My work at the library went reasonably well; I’m going back today to check a few more things (since I’m here anyway). Then I went for supper; there’s a giant (and I mean giant – almost as big as the Eaton Centre in Toronto) shopping mall also just across the street, and I wandered around there for a few hours. There are some stores that we also have at home: The Gap, The Body Shop, Timberland, and a store called “PierImport” which I’m pretty sure is Pier I. Then there are the French chains: Galleries Lafayette, a department store which had, in the housewares section, about 15 clerks all standing around in groups of 3 or 4 talking to each other; Darty, which sells electronics; Carrefour, which I think is a grocery store, although I didn’t go in. Stores I’ve seen many places which are rare at home include Sephora and L’Occitane en Provence. There’s also Etam (lingerie) which has a big wedding promotion on now, and Eras (shoes) which has had “L’affaire des enfers” on since I arrived a month ago. They appear to be a sort of French Payless. And then, of course, there were three or four “Le Brioche D’Oree” because you never want to be too far from a pain-au-chocolat.

Tomorrow I’ll be back in Paris, trying to finish off my cereal, milk, and juice before I come home. And I guess I’ll miss the Oscars, which show here tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., because I’m planning to head up to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre for my last afternoon in Paris.

A bientôt!
ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)
It’s hard to believe, but this may be my last posting from Paris. Thursday I’m going to make one last stop at the Opéra library, to check on one manuscript source and some orchestral parts that I haven’t really poked through yet. Once that’s done, I may head up to Montmartre for a few hours to check out Sacre Coeur; or I may buy my train tickets for Friday morning and try to buy some cheap English books for the flight home. Then Friday and Saturday I’ll be down in Lyon, checking into their scores, and Sunday it’s back to Paris, to pack, and possibly gallivant around for one last day (this may be my day for Montmartre, if I don’t make it tomorrow) and Monday it’s out to Charles de Gaulle and then back in Canada by about 10:00 p.m.

Or hopefully earlier.

The last few days here have been somewhat frustrating. First, it’s been cold – oh, not cold as we would acknowledge cold at home; it’s only been about -3 or so. But still, when you didn’t pack for that, it’s cold. I had to buy a hat on Monday because the wind was really getting to me.

Monday I went to the Archives nationales. This was frustrating because when I arrived, I was informed that all the spots in the reading room were full. In fact, reported the woman staffing the Acceuil, people arrived at 8:15 to get spots when the archives opened at 9:00. But what, I wondered, is the difference between waiting 45 minutes first thing in the morning, and waiting 45 minutes starting at 9:30, after you’ve had a lovely café crème? The difference is another 45 minutes, apparently. I didn’t get to go up to the Archives until nearly noon. When I did, I had to stuff my knapsack into a locker which was about 5 inches wide (not an easy proposition). Once in the Archives, I double-checked the numbers I’d written down in Canada.

Either we have a different catalogue in Canada, or else I wasn’t paying attention that day, because what I thought was there (and what I had numbers for) bore no resemblance to what was actually in their catalogue. Nevertheless, I ordered up what I thought might be useful, and then settled down to try to read early eighteenth-century French handwriting – never an easy proposition – in a room full of about 100 people also doing the same thing.

And then they started jackhammering outside. I am so lucky. Well, I tried my best, but between deciphering the handwriting, the mass of people, and the jackhammering, I just couldn’t find anything directly pertinent to my research. So after about five hours I gave up and came home. Despairing over being surrounded by French, I decided to go see “Constantine” at the movie theatre in English. I bought the paper, checked the theatre, trekked down – only to find this theatre was showing the French version, and the English version was showing down at the Les Halles shopping centre, another 30 minutes from where I was.

Trust the French to have one shopping mall in the city (which is so full of stores itself it’s like a giant mall) and to put it underground. I fought my way through the mall, found the cinema and then had to wait for an hour for the movie to start. Unlike Canadian theatres, in Paris they don’t let you in until just before the show starts. Then, just like in Canada, there’s about 25 minutes of trailers, during which people are still being seated. Then the movie starts, and COMPLETELY unlike Canada, everyone shushes everyone else and they watch the movie in silence. More or less.

Thank goodness I was there by myself; I would undoubtedly have been very offensive if I’d been there with anyone to talk too.

Tuesday I hopped back onto the Metro and went out to the Mitterand library. This is the big new building that opened back in the late 90s; all the books are up in 4 towers which had to be specially modified to prevent the books from roasting in the sun. Meanwhile all the researchers work below ground and should modify themselves to avoid freezing to death.

There was, of course, a line to get into the library, because they have to pretend to look inside your bag. Then you must check your bag, pulling out all your earthly goods and moving them into a transparent bag that the library supplies. Then, borrower’s card in hand (because you will be inserting it into turnstiles at every possible opportunity) you pass through what could be an airlock (a set of double-doors with space in between) but is really all part of the Mitterand’s quest to complete obliterate any sense of enjoyment you might have had about coming to the library. I took two giant escalators down to the researchers-only level, where I found someone to help me with the library – and here I had the shock of the day.

I have suddenly become incapable of understanding spoken French. I knew I wasn’t that great when I got here, but now, unless the speaker goes very slowly, or uses small words, I simply cannot tell what they’re saying – and as for replying! Forget it. But I finally understood what I had to do; I reserved a place in one of the reading rooms, found it, found out how to order up my stuff, ordered it, started looking at it; realized I’d left something at home that I needed; debated making a new copy from a microfiche that the Mitterand had; froze while I looked at the fiche; decided not to make the copy; ate some lunch, took the ricketiest modern elevator I’ve ever seen up to the Mitterand rare book room, looked at my books, finished, and then reversed my soul-killing journey up the two escalators and escaped back to my apartment.

On the positive side, today I went to Versailles, found an interestingly-marked-up pair of scores, toured the Chateau (although much of it was closed for renovation) and got asked out for coffee by one of the guards.

It does make you wonder what will happen tomorrow.

A bientôt!
ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)
Sundays are my free day, to thwack around Paris and do the tourist thing. Today I trekked down to the Musée d’Orsay, on the Left Bank, just past the Louvre. It was quite cold, so I took the Métro to the Concorde stop: this brought me back above ground just at the Place de la Concorde. Here, in the middle of what is likely a very busy roundabout on a weekday, the French have a column they ‘liberated’ from Luxor, Egypt. What a thing to see in the middle of this city – not that I’m not becoming used to seeing odd, monumental objects looming up out of nowhere – but this obelisk was meant to be surrounded by sand and sun, not a million little crazily-driven cars and crowds of tourists. Or snowflakes, as happened later this afternoon! The carving of the hieroglyphs is still very deep, after all these years, and it made me wonder what, if anything, the French government does to preserve outdoor monuments like this one.

Then I nipped across the bridge, and turned left to the Orsay. In its first incarnation, the Orsay was a train station, similar in appearance (I expect) to the Gare du Nord where I caught the Thalys to Holland. These stations were built, as least as far as the international high-speed service is concerned, rather like garages: the trains pull into the station, which is the terminus of the line, and you walk all the way down the train to your car, at first underneath the high glass roof, then under the open air (because they have NO doors here keeping out the outside). The Orsay also has the high glass roof, as well as lots of steel beams; the interior became a museum many years ago, and is reserved for art from after 1840 or so.

I purchased the audio tour, which I sometimes like to do, as you can learn something about the art you’re looking at. Mat and I got the tour when we went through the Mauritshaus in Den Haag, and it was really quite interesting. The Orsay tour was quite interesting as well, although it was a bit proscriptive, in that the disembodied voice suggested you visit the museum chronologically, starting at the bottom floor. And there was this unspoken assumption that of course you would listen to all the items in order. Which I totally can’t do, because in actual fact, although I enjoy art, there’s only so much I can take at any one go.

I was very diligent through the first floor; I listened to a good deal of the commentary, and heard a lot about the various Exhibitions from which artists were either excluded, which made their reputation, or included, which also made their reputation. There were some lovely pictures and sculptures down here, but the real highlight of the collection is the Impressionist galleries on the top floor. Here I saw some Monet, some Manet, some Renoir, some Van Gogh – and I was lucky enough to see something I liked in nearly every room. But, as usual, by then the museum was getting very crowded. And of course, by the time I got to the top floor, I was getting cranky, so I had to push through the crowd to get to the cafeteria to get something to eat; then I had to push my way back to the beginning of the floor. So once I had finished the top floor of the Orsay (which took me up to Gaugin) I was pretty much finished with art for the day. I worked my way back to the front, and did see a delightful sculpture of a polar bear. Sometimes when you see a piece of art, you appreciate it because you can see how much work went into its creation – the layers of paint, or the composition of straight lines and curves – and sometimes you appreciate it because you look at the artwork and can see that it is what it is: it shows “the thing and the whole of the thing.” And that’s what the polar bear sculpture was like: it was exactly like a polar bear, but at the same time it was a beautifully-done sculpture of a polar bear. Very cool.

After viewing the art, I always like to hit the museum store. I don’t know why I like the store almost as well as the museum –maybe it’s because there’s no way I can afford to buy anything that the museum has, but I can afford to buy reasonably-priced reproductions of things the museum has. Unfortunately, while the prints of the Renoir and Van Gogh pieces I liked were reasonably priced, they really were nothing like the actual painting. I guess that must be a difference of technique between Rigaut, who painted my favourite portrait of Louis XIV, and these later guys. What I thought would have been really cool for them to have would have been a key ring of the polar bear sculpture. Alas, the museum buyers didn’t feel the same way: they had a black bear sculpture by the same artist in key-ring format, but no polar bear.

Then I ambled through the Tuilleries gardens, wishing desperately that I had brought a hat to France, because it was quite cold. My next stop was WH Smith (I’m starting to look for something to read on the way home), but I still can’t bring myself to pay a minimum of 11 euros for a book that’s $11.99 at home. So, no book – and in frustration at the prices and the temperatures, I retreated back to my apartment, had a nap, and tried to warm up. Only one more Sunday here in Paris – shall I try to make it to the Arc de Triomphe, or to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre?

A bientôt!
ma_vie_en_paris: (Default)
This morning I went for my first outdoor run of 2005, and my first run in Paris. I chose to run along the canal that goes through my neighbourhood, the Canal St. Martin. Just at the rue du Faubourg du Temple (my street) the canal goes underground, so if I ran one way, I would be running alongside the water, and the other way, along some park. Unfortunately, the water way is paved with uneven cobblestones, so today I went along the park.

As I was running, I came upon a street market that was just getting itself set up: plants, flowers, fruit, meat, fish – everything the typical Parisian could want. They were right in my path, so I had to weave and dodge around the stalls and the piles of goods and the people stocking the stalls. It was very cool, in a Sidney-Bristow-evades-the-enemy kind of way!

Not too many people were out and about at 7 this morning, so that was another little bonus. Normally the streets are so crowded when I go places (because I’m always traveling in rush hour: 8-9 and 5-7), so it was very pleasant to have some space around me. There were a few people out with their dogs (as always!), and a few people also running – but they were chasing the bus. I did see one other runner as I was walking back to the apartment. I did go up along the water end of the canal (with the cobblestones) as part of my cool-down walk, and there was a girl running along the cement edge of the canal. It’s about two feet wide, so I suppose I could try that myself, but also being myself, I think I can pretty confidently say that’s one of the fastest ways I could devise to end up soaking wet, surpassed only by actually jumping right in to the canal.

Today I will be entering the actual, true Bibliothèque Nationale: I’m going into the imposing building on the rue de Richelieu to do research in the “Arts et Spectacles” library. Yesterday I ordered a huge pile of scores and spent the day comparing two version of my opera, until I realized I would soon run out of time and I could buy a microfilm of the version I don’t have for only 46 euros. Then I leafed quickly through my remaining scores, jumped onto the microfilm machine (the librarians let me load it myself now, lucky me!) and thought briefly about ordering up an autograph manuscript by Campra. But since it, too, was available on microfilm and I’d had bad luck yesterday getting originals instead of microfilms (they had all the aggressive librarians staffing the request desk yesterday), I decided I wouldn’t. Perhaps if there is some time next week, I’ll go back.

The librarian who worked yesterday afternoon was in fact the first librarian I’ve seen here in Paris who spent most of her time away from the desk. This was much to the irritation of her colleagues, who had to keep gesturing helplessly to people who came to offer their request slips up in the hopes that they would be rewarded with access to what they wanted. Then when she came back, there was much heated whispering over whether certain parts of the collection were “absolument incommunicable” or available only “en bobine.” I have noticed a certain tendency among French people to continue to argue a point past where I would attempt to argue, and I can’t say that I have noticed that it gets them any particular results – except perhaps irritation from the other party. Of course French, which we tend to think of as a romantic and beautiful language, is actually quite suited to heated discussions – or at least it seems from what I have observed.

A bientôt!
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