Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Suburban Mom's Response to Arne Duncan and Common Core

Hi, Internet!  Remember me? I used to blog ALL the time until 4 kids and a career in photography overwhelmed me.

But I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack!  (Lucky you, right?)

I don't have a lot of time these days and I try to keep my head down and just... you know... raise my kids and do my job and love my husband and all that stuff.  But boy, oh boy, you want to get me spun up, ask me about Common Core.

Again, I haven't said much publicly about even that.  But I'm about to because United States Secretary of Education called me out on my opposition to his beloved educational standards.

And here's what I've got to say:

So.  Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education wants to tell us that middle class white moms are stirring the pot and causing an unwarranted fuss on Facebook because their kids are no longer "super student" smart based on the new, more rigorous (I just threw up in my mouth) academic standards under the Common Core curriculum.  Here's a good summary of what he had to say and his reaction to the rising stink emanating from the pile of shit he stepped in:

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/arne-duncan-common-core-comment-99987.html

Text from his original speech in Richmond, VA is quoted here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/18/duncan-criticism-white-moms_n_4298275.html

Here - here are links to SEVERAL (and I could go on all fucking day, watch me go, bitches.  I'm a fucking suburban mom with Internet - a foe worthy of the nightmares of every Washington agenda-pusher since Al Gore invented that shit) non-MCWM academics opposing - staunchly - Common Core:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/eight-problems-with-common-core-standards/2012/08/21/821b300a-e4e7-11e1-8f62-58260e3940a0_blog.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/
http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/a-republic-of-republics-how-common-core-undermines-state-and-local-autonomy-over-k-12-education/
And, how about this one, from Catholic educators.  It was actually linked in the Politico article I mentioned above.

http://files.meetup.com/1387375/Letter%20to%20Catholic%20Bishops%20on%20the%20Common%20Core%20F.pdf
But let's talk about whether or not it's just MCWM's upset about Common Core and whether or not it has anything to do with our kids under preforming.

When Catholics - who have educated a fucking mind-blowing percentage of the modern fucking world and who are responsible for upteen thousands of schools across the country and world - are saying that this fucking curriculum is bullshit, someone had better fucking take notice.  And let me tell you what - no one is going to confuse one of those Catholic college professors with a lowly, crazy, soap-opera-laden useless middle class white mom.  It isn't just us dismissible white moms who are pissed that Junior didn't get his normal high score on a math test.

Fuck you Arne, you insensitive puppet-whore.  Your pet project is a bunch of garbage and it's going to go down in flames now that you've pissed off suburbia.

THIS - THIS is my problem: "In his remarks Friday, Duncan suggested selling the Common Core by reminding parents that their children are not just competing against their neighbors, but against “India, China, Singapore and South Korea” for jobs in the global economy." 

 No, you assclown.  No, the standards are NOT going to set us up to compete.  Not when kids in those nations are completing Calculus in high school but your pet standards preclude that from being possible.  No, Arne, you fucking douche, Common Core is not going to set us up to compete on a global level.  Why?  Why not?  The kids who DO compete globally with intelligence and education were doing fine before.  They were.  You, me, our peers, the Ivy Leaguers, the Stanford Alum, MIT, etc. - there are plenty of bright, intelligent young Americans. There have been, there will be.  What we need is MORE of them.  Common Core is not doing anything to foster MORE advanced math and science students.  It's not taking kids who are on the edge and bumping them up into the next level of achievement.  It's not rooting through the school systems and seeking out the kids that need just a little motivation and additional work and boosting them up to realize their potential.

No.  No, in fact, what Common Core does is MAKE EVERYONE THE SAME.  It doesn't make everyone the same at that upper level of academic performance - it makes everyone mediocre.  It stifles the kids that WOULD excel.  It takes the children who have a passion and vigor and it stuffs them into a corner to wait for their peers to answer a fucking math problem with a fucking essay.  While our competitors in Asia are laughing and building calculators to staple to kids hands in 5th grade so they can function for another 7 years before Community College says, "meh, just get it close enough - this computer we bought from China will get you the rest of the way."

THAT'S what Common Core does.  What it does is ensure that when we compete with our neighbors to the East, we lose.  Common Core is turning America's youth into a legion of future drones.  Won't it be ironic when our grandchildren are working in sweat shops to make shoes for the Chinese?  Sure, we'll have won those jobs in the global economic competition - go us.  Yay.

Common Core may be great for the lowest of the low - to pull them up to mediocrity.  But that's not what American freedom is for.  Our nation wasn't founded on the principal that "everyone is entitled to equal mediocrity no matter the cost".  That's fucking horse shit.  A balanced system should BOTH provide for opportunities for the least fortunate and the least academically motivated students AND afford those who are already talented and driven to excel without squashing one and impeding the other.

Common Core misses the boat and suffocates progress.  It equalizes the masses to a nice, fat, round, happy medium (at best).

Read that letter from the Catholic educators to the bishops.  Go on.  I'll wait.  In fact, I'll link it again:  http://files.meetup.com/1387375/Letter%20to%20Catholic%20Bishops%20on%20the%20Common%20Core%20F.pdf

(I should be working.  I should be emptying the dishwasher.  But I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes SLAMMING the keys on the keyboard instead.  Because I am utterly furious beyond imagination.)

It doesn't stop, my fury and frustration, at absurd math standards or even with the new emphasis on literature as a practical application of technical manuals etc.  It keeps going - to the idea that science standards are being rolled out.  HISTORY is being reworked by an organization.  The very fabric of our culture - the very basis upon which we found our worldview and the only hope we have of moving forward as a society are going to be taught to impressionable children in the voice of a small organization with a fiscal and political motive!  That's utterly unacceptable!  You don't have to be a MCWM to see the fallacy in that - the DANGER!  (I don't use exclamation points often in serious writing.  Pay close attention to the fact that I used TWO in a row.)

"...The same  financial inducements, political pressure, and misguided reforming zeal that rushed those  standards towards acceptance will conspire to make acceptance of the history and science  standards equally speedy – and unreflective and unfortunate.  These new standards will very likely lower expectations for students, just as the Common Core math and English standards have done. More important, however, is the likelihood that they will promote the prevailing philosophical orthodoxies in those disciplines. In science, the new standards are likely to take for granted, and inculcate students into a materialist metaphysics that is incompatible with, the spiritual realities –soul, conceptual thought, values, free choice,God– which Catholic faith presupposes. We fear, too, that the history standards will promote the easy moral relativism, tinged with a pervasive anti-religious bias, that is commonplace in collegiate history departments today."
Perfect.  That's just what we need.  Moral relativism, anti-religious bias, materialist metaphysics incompatible with God?

OUR NATION WAS FOUNDED WITH AND ON MORALS, RELIGION AND FAITH IN GOD.

To move forward as a civilization without historically-rooted, faith-based ethics is nothing short of a nightmarish disaster.  The ever-popular "zombie apocalypse" is coming, but it's not in the form of flesh-eating undead monsters.  It's in the form of mindless automatons running rampant in the world, unable to think or feel or decide anything of any magnitude for themselves.

I shudder to think how a History text book would read written by a private institution commissioned by the Democratic party - or any party, for that matter.  History needs to be unbiased so our future can be free.

I cannot imagine how science will change when children are no longer in awe of it.  Will knowing what E equals not be something we give a shit about?  Will a short sentence about why we care about E and what it is "the same as"  be sufficient?  (Written, of course, in broken, non-phonetic sentences full of misspelling and of course, printed, not scripted in cursive.)

Oh honey.  Oh, Arne.  You aren't saying, my dear, that MCWM's are the problem.  We aren't the opposition to Common Core.  Academia opposed Common Core.  History opposes Common Core.  WE SHOULD ALL OPPOSE COMMON CORE.

YOUR problem with us - the legion of stay-at-home-Internet-connected middle class white mothers - is that we disseminate information.  We are the ones who find the letters from Catholic educators and we are the ones who find the research and put that information into the hands and minds of other MCWM's and their families.  We blog, we write, we speak, we whisper and we are the force with which you must reckon because behind YOU, Arne Duncan, behind all the other so-called "movers and shakers" in the American political arena, is a middle-class white mom.  You know how ardently your mother fought for your education to make sure you would have the opportunity to rise from the ranks of Chicago suburbia and become the *awesomely powerful* Secretary of Education.  And you know that we will fight for our children too.

I'm at a crux.  I'm at a point where half of me wants desperately to take our children and shelter them and raise them quietly away from this abject lunacy.  The other half of me wants to fight.  Because 4 kids alone isn't enough to turn the tide of American decline into global indentured servitude.  I don't know what to do.

But I'm pissed.  As a MCWM, I'm pissed.

So there you go.  That's my reaction to Mr. Duncan's bullshit allegations that "to oppose Common Core is to oppose progress."  Well, to be sure, Common Core does represent progress... insofar as "progress" is a euphemism for the journey of our nation into little more than a modern gulag.

How about that?  How's that for a homecoming?  I missed blogging.  :-) I think I'll come back.  What do ya say? Will you have me?

Love ya!
-The Zookeeper

Friday, March 9, 2012

Relay For Life

Please help me out...

Help us ALL out.

Let's kick cancer's ass.

Right HERE

Join me - join my team or donate... $1.  $2.  $10.  It doesn't matter - big or small, if you can buy a latte, you can help.

Please.  I know a husband and a father of 2 young kiddos who will thank you when he makes it to his next birthday.  Because he will.  Because we all fight together.

And, if times are tight, maybe you can just lend your prayers.  Thank you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blogging and My Life

Let's face it: I've been largely absent from the blogging world for quite some time.  (I know - you're all in rehab and going through therapy because you miss me so much; I'm sorry!) 

I'd love to be able to tell you that it's because I'm just too cool for school or that I'm working on something really, really big.  I'd love to be able to keep up with this and balance everything perfectly...

BUT the truth of the matter is this: Folks, I'm getting my ass kicked. 

Dudes, it's a struggle.  It's a beautiful, exciting, rewarding struggle, but there is no way I'd be doing anyone any good if I pretended it wasn't a battle.  When we found out we were expecting a fourth kiddo last year, I shrugged and said, "Meh... what's another babe? I'm already out-numbered!"  But now, a year after that announcement, I'm facing the reality that it isn't just the 4 kids... It's life.  It is simply life as an adult with mind-boggling mounds of responsibility that sometimes makes me feel like I'm trying to run in quicksand. 

Ya know?  It's the living-within-a-Nazi-budget thing because we're carrying two mortgages right now... it's the four-kids-who-deserve-my-best thing... the having-a-small-business-to-run-and-grow thing... the being-a-good-wife-and-household-manager thing... All of those.  And more.  Let me back up and explain a little bit - not because I want sympathy or am trying to bitch, but because maybe it'll comfort some of you to know that no, not everyone's life is smooth-as-silk all the time:

We just got full-use of our basement back.  After 20 weeks of dealing with the mold/water intrusion, we finally got it back.  We lost easily a couple thousand dollars worth of stuff to mold, not to mention the lost time, wasted opportunities, etc.  But that's better - finally!  However, we found out in August that the gentlemen who were renting our other house (which we were unable to sell in 2008 - thank you, economy) were leaving.  So we had to instantly pare down our budget and, while we've always lived well within our means, it has meant attempting to feed our family on $100 a week.  That has translated to added hours of pouring through grocery-store circulars, writing menus, compiling lists and coupons and trying to weigh cost-savings against healthy eating choices.  It literally sucks up hours of my week... However, that also means that I buy whole chickens instead of boneless-skinless breasts and nearly double my prep work for one dinner.  Lunches include apple slices that I have to peel, slice and soak in lime-juice instead of purchasing ready-made bags of them.  And that's fine!  I'm doing what I have to for us!  But that certainly doesn't leave any time for blogging... especially when that budget excludes disposable diapers and you consider the amount of laundry that goes into have 3 kids in cloth diapers full-time... And, let's be serious: we all know how I feel about laundry.

Jack, Jordan and Addie are in preschool this year so twice a week I am committed to getting them there and home.  And I have MOPS, a moms group at my church and also Jack's baseball practices and games to travel to and from, but beyond that, I have to have snacks prepared and packed, cups ready, diaper changes to consider, etc.  It's just a lot.  I'm keeping my photography business at a comfortable level, but as we head into the fall, it will pick up quite a bit (which is good! I love my craft!) and it will constitute even less free time.  Additionally, I have a few things on the horizon that are community-service related that include using my business to generate some income for some charity work.  Again, all of this is stuff that I dearly love and am happy and excited to do, but it takes time.

Oh, and we're raising four young kids.  Jack and Jordan are super active.  Addie has a speech-delay we are getting a treatment plan worked out for, and Peyton is exclusively breastfed with the appetite of a college football running back.   It is, at times, overwhelming.

Clearly this is just our normal.  It is not anything lamentable or regrettable, nor would I, for one hot second, assert that I have a difficult or bad life... Quite the opposite, in fact; I am happy and content and proud of where we are and I couldn't be more comfortable doing what we're doing with one another.

But it is because I love my life and am so happy with the decisions we've made and the paths we've walked that I find it impossible to put off any of my responsibilities in order to spend more time blogging.  Don't get me wrong - although I am content and blissful, I do spend some time every day struggling with frustration, stress, fear, uncertainty, doubt and anger.  (It would be entirely and freakishly unnatural if I did.)  And that fact is what this blog post is really about for me, and hopefully for you as well: it is for me to tell you that it's okay to feel the full spectrum of emotions - good as well as bad.  I just set about each day with the hope that if this is my last day on Earth, I may look back on it with no regrets.  That I might stand before the Lord proud of myself as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and child of the God... that I might only need to pray for thanksgiving and ask only for the strength to live the next day as the one before it, should I be given the gift of tomorrow.  More often than not, there is at least one role in which I do not perform the way I'd have wanted to.  More often than not, I find myself praying also for forgiveness for my shortcomings in at least one area of my life and begging for just one more chance to do better. 

Either way, the result is always me waking up resolved to glorify God and serve my family, friends and brothers and sisters to the best of my mortal ability.  Rarely does that include blogging, but as it does mean I need some time to myself - to vent, to connect, to reach out, I'm not giving up on blogging because I do love it so much.  It's just that I'm asking your forgiveness for not having a post up every couple of days so that I can focus on being the person I know I am and making myself better each day.  I guess it also means I'm asking for your support and maybe a prayer or two to help me in that journey.

Thanks for reading and for sticking with us through everything!  I promise I'll be my witty, funny self next time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Day in the Life...

I know everyone in the world has always wanted to know what goes on in my life in any given day... Well, stand by, folks, this shit is r-i-v-e-t-i-n-g.  For real.  I saw this on a blog I love and knew I had to try.  So here it is - a photographic journey through my day.  Hold on to your hats...

7:15 Up, coffee, breakfast.  Check e-mail, check banking, Pin some stuff, make sure my social network didn't implode overnight (discover one friend's baby finally sleeps through the night after 8 months, someone else went drinking, yet another loves Jesus so much it hurts - good; life is normal.) and compile my to-do list right beside my to-bitch-out list which includes several subcontractors, contractors and the like.


8:00 Peyton wakes up.  Gah!  Squee!  I love her!  Scoop her up and pat her a bit because I know she needs to burp and because it's the quietest part of the day and I can talk to her about my to-bitch-out list and not worry that she's going to repeat the bad words I'm sweetly whispering in her ear.  (Oh her hair smells so good and she's so squishy!)


8:01 Decide the smell and squishiness are too much to handle and commence my daily 5,004,369 kisses applied to various parts of her body... Nurse her for a bit and go back to cuddling and kissing.

8:20 Realize that although being lost in baby-cheek-induced bliss is lovely, reality bites hard if you ignore it for too long.  Decide to focus attention on dishwasher - I HATE emptying the dishwasher.  Sigh.  Grumble and groan and smooch Peyton some more.  Change diaper.  Realize she wants to play so I leave her on the floor with some toys and actually focus on the dishes... Real start-time of dishwasher emptying? Probably around 8:25.

8:25.30 Pat myself on back for having organized plastic containers!  (And see lunchboxes for school - get pumped!)  Also silently curse still-sleeping sweet babies for leaving their shorts and ball in the freaking kitchen... then silently chastise myself because I should have cleaned it up the night before.  Sigh.

8:26 Now in a cursing mood, stare at phone and decide to make some phone calls to start crossing people off my to-bitch-out list.  It goes poorly.


8:36 Finished with the first half of my phone calls (I told you it went poorly), it's now time to tackle my arch-nemesis: The Sippy Cup Cabinet.  I hate it; it hates me.  I save sippy cups for last when I empty the dishwasher because I HATE it so, so much.



8:38 Realize that I've got a few more minutes of productivity going so I should go find something else to do so I go to the laundry room... EEK!


8:38.02 Promptly shut the laundry room door and back out slowly.

8:38.10 Check on Peyton. Yup! Still happy!  Aaaaw! Head back to laundry room (this is will power at it's finest, ladies and gentlemen) and at least get a load of laundry started in the washing machine.

8:40 Back in kitchen, survey mess left on counter and in sink that didn't fit in dishwasher the night before.  Ugh.  Gotta fix this.  I tell Peyton that I have to put the "yucky stuff away" and realize my vocabulary has taken a major hit since becoming a parent.

8:41 Nearly drop a knife on my toe when I hear "tee hee hee" and realize that Jack has escaped and at some point tip-toed into "his" chair and has been watching me for an unknown amount of time until his little 4-year-old brain couldn't handle it anymore and he let out a "tee hee hee" and alerted me to his presence.  Love the little fluffy-headed child. 

8:45 I hear the girls making noise so I wipe the counter off and survey the shiny cleanliness.  Ah.  A clean kitchen to start the day.  Bliss.  Time to go get the twins.

8:46 This is what I find - a jumble of toddler, blankets and stuffies.  Addie is always squinty and annoyed and Jordan is usually yammering some jibberish about how hungry she is.  I am always angry when I see them at 30 pounds each, over 2 years old, sharing this crib because I know it's got to be unsafe but I can't put them downstairs in their beds.  And then I grumble and groan about the nightmare that is going to be getting them to sleep in their beds.  Seriously, it's going to suck.

8:47 To ease my frustration, I scoop em up - Addie first but she wants to get down, then Jordan who wants to snug for a second.  I leave the room carrying Jordan to find Addie and get breakfast going, and I find that Addie has ALREADY gotten into the flip flops and is ready to accuse me of holding Jordan and not her.  Sigh.  It begins.

8:50 Both girls are in their seats ready for breakfast and Jack has joined them at the table.  And we have the first temper tantrum of the day.  When I present Addie her food (a cinnamon roll and some Crispix cereal with banana slices) it is apparently WRONG and she screams and swats the plate away with no less fury than if I had slapped down a pile of rat eyeballs covered in diarrhea gravy.  Okay.  I took the offensive plate away and she pounded the table. I gave it back and she screamed.  Nice.  Time to walk away.


8:51 Time to ponder the dinner question.  Open the freezer and see absolutely nothing of interest....
... including and especially the useless stockpile of milk that PB won't drink because she hates bottles.
8:52 Since the inside freezer offered no help, I decide to go check the chest freezer in the garage, but realize the fight to get to it is too much to deal with right now.  My garage is 18 kinds of a disaster since all the crap in it belongs in the basement but I'm trying to keep it out of the mold-zone.  Anger creeping back... oh, goodie, Addie is still bitching at me.  Sigh.

8:53 Give Addie her food back and her crying slows to sniffles.  Defeated, I sit down and open the laptop to distract myself while the kids eat.

8:54 Addie sullenly decides that the cinnamon roll and other goodies are acceptable after all and, with as much "addietude" as she can muster, begins eating.

8:56 Peyton lets out a gigantic fart and starts crying which means she pooped.  Diaper change time.  By the end of it, Addie and Jordan are yelling at one another about something and smacking their plates on the table. Augh.  It's going to be one of those days. 

9 am I finish snugging Peyton and get up to deal with the girls.  Roll my eyes and check my coffee cup.  Rats. 


9:01 Set up a new pot of coffee (which, sadly, I don't even find time to drink.  Sigh.  Win some and lose some.)

9:05 The girls are down and their diapers are changed, I put PB back in the Bumbo so she can "hang" with the big sibs and I start making my laundry-gathering rounds.


9:06 I check the office and realize I have lots of filing and paperwork to deal with.  I handle that like I  handled the laundry earlier... shut. the. door. 

9:06 When I see the pile of laundry in my bathroom, the full realization of how far behind on laundry I am hits me.  Sigh.  It's laundry day.  Scooping that pile up makes me realize how filthy our shower is.  Sigh.  It's also bathroom cleaning day.  So much for my to-do list.


At this point, I've totally lost track of time because I'm bouncing back and forth between the bathrooms, the kitchen to get snacks, the living room to play with the kids, etc.  I've also lost track of my camera.  At one point, I found it and snapped a photo of Jack playing Mario Kart for our Wii.

I also was demanded to read these books to Jordan.  She loves books.

But I had to wait to read to her because I looked over at Peyton who had determined that she was d-o-n-e sitting in the Bumbo and was now tired and hungry.  Nurse her and put her down for a nap.

11 something?  Jordan has waited patiently, so it's time to read some books!

3 books later... She is ready for some tickling and goofing around...

I LOVE to tickle Jordan!

Addie, meanwhile, is playing happily (for once!) and quietly with her Toy Story dolls.  Score!  Time to get a little more cleaning done and make lunch.

12:30 Lunch time! Peanut butter sandwiches and cheese cubes and peaches (none for Jack - they're "Guh-ROOOOS-uh")

12:45 Realize my contractors are STILL not here.  Annoyed.  I probably could have gone to the beach after all.  Very, very, angry.

12:46 Try to turn anger into something productive... check on laundry - dryer still going.  Good, I can put that off a bit longer.

12:47 Clean another toilet.

12:50 Take a minute for prayer and reflection.  In the bathroom.  It is what it is.

1 pm The contractors are here!  Follow them around pestering them for a bit while the kids finish lunch and watch some Super Why!... (And think to myself that I wish it was Curious George instead... The Man in the Yellow Hat is kinda hot.)

1:15 Get on the computer for a few minutes because I can hang out with the kiddos and spy on dudes at the same time. 

1:30 Peyton is up from her nap.  Nurse and cuddle time with her so I unleash the big kids and let them play for a bit before the twins need to go down for a nap.

1:40 The kids are playing nicely.  Love them! Then, I realize I haven't eaten lunch OR had my other cup of coffee.  Grrr. 

1:41 Iced coffee and the crusts off Jack's sandwich.  Sigh.  On a diet like this, how is it that I'm still reduced to wearing Spanx? Annoyed.


2 pm - Put girls down for nap and set Jack up with my lap top since Peyton is playing happily on the floor and I can get some stuff done.


2-4pm my day consists of cleaning supplies,

dishes,
and laundry, with lots of picking Peyton up, patting her back and singing, walking around, nursing, etc. along with putting out crayons for Jack, putting on movies for him and in general playing with both of them.  I didn't take many photos.  I didn't really have time.  And no one wants to see before & after shots of my bathroom. 

4:30 Peyton is finally sleeping in the swing, so I get to deal with cleaning the stuff out of our basement storage area.  (We had mold; mold grows in cardboard;  most of our stuff was stored in cardboard... ergo, I had to get rid of all the cardboard and put all our worldly belongings into 20+ plastic bins, checking all the items over for mold and cleaning/trashing/donating as necessary.  It was a joy - truly.)


5 pm The girls are awake.  Jordan was jumping for joy.  I love how happy and bubbly she is when she wakes up!

5:30 Husband comes home! Yay! (Although I love him to pieces and enjoy having him around immensely, I'm mostly glad he can help midget wrangle during their "witching hourS"!)
 

5:31-7pm-ish Cooking dinner, serving dinner, cleaning up from dinner... dishes in sink/dishwasher, etc.  Also no time to take photos.  Also finding it difficult to take photos with children hanging off legs.  Sigh.


7:10 Hand Peyton to Justin and head back to the basement to keep working.  Also take breaks to do the bedtime routines, clean up the mess upstairs and nurse Peyton... continue doing all of this until after 10:30 pm.

10:45 Time for Patron.

11pm Notice this mess is still outside when I'm locking up for the evening.  I choose to deal with this the way I deal with laundry: shut the door and figure I can deal with it later.  Bed sounds good. 

...bed sounds really good.
So.  That's a day in my life.  Super exciting, no?

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