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My year of not complaining

Posted Thursday into House keeping by John Birmingham

I had some thinky time while I was travelling. Getting ten thousand klicks away from your daily routine is good for that. Apart from filing a couple of columns, I didn’t work. Every time my thoughts strayed to work, I lured them away with contemplation of chicken and beer.
It cleared my head.
One of the first things I resolved to do was spend a lot less time on the Hell Sites of Twitter and Farcebuck, and more time here. There’s no escaping the Hell Sites. I do a lot of business there. But there is a cost, a heavy fucking cost to being there.
That led me to my second resolution. If I was going to spool up the engines on the Burger again, I didn’t want to simply repeat here at length, that which I was doing there.
Bitching and moaning, basically.
Ninety percent of everything online is bitching and moaning now. The rest is cat and dog videos, adverts inserted into cat and dog videos, and shameless self promotion.
But mostly bitching and moaning.
It’s not just human nature. The platforms have tweaked their software to preference ugliness because like the tabloid editors of yore they have learned that ugliness sells. If it bleeds it leads, as we used to say in the fish wrapping business.
Or to update the model, it if enrages it engages.
I’ve had enough. We’ve all had enough.
I can’t change a damn thing by putting on a happy face, and to be honest, it’s not appropriate given the accelerating collapse of our civilisation and ecosystem. So I’ll still be raging over there.
But here I want some peace and quiet. So for the next 12 months I’m going to try a new approach to blogging. Niceness. Gentle humour. Good vibes.
In service of this new beginning I’m going to run some of my favourite and most gently written pieces from my old private column, Alien Side Boob.
Starting with the piece above.
How To Cook the Perfect Steak.

7 Responses to ‘My year of not complaining’

insomniac mumbles...

Posted Thursday
I'm not on social media so I don't really know how ugly it is. I do have a Guardian presence though, and while there is some ugly, there is much dumbness, mainly from the gubbermunt troll army. That can be depressing, especially if I haven't had my Vegemite for a few days. On the other hand there are many not dumb peeps concerned about where this country is headed, and their comments are most welcome.

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andrew ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
I don't do the social medias as such either, but I imagine that it probably isn't any better than the comments sections on news sites and some blogs. Not the high signal-to-noise ones like yours of course.

Used to be that whinging in public would get you shunned. "Don't feed the trolls" seemed to mostly work, on usenet for a while. Perhaps its time has come again?

I particularly like the approach of David Byrne's blog "Reasons to be cheerful". It's not always good, but I think that it's heading in a useful direction.

There's a lovely piece on "How to do nothing: resisting the attention economy" that I read last month. Perhaps it would help:

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted Thursday
This is a good link. Thanks.

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted Thursday
Good luck, let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Remember the advice from The Meaning of Life movie
"I've had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we've come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts.
One. People are not wearing enough hats.
Two. Matter is energy.
In the universe, there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source, which act upon a person's soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio, as orthodox Christianity teaches. It has to be brought into existence, by a process of guided self- observation. However, this is rarely achieved, owing to man's unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.

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Rob mutters...

Posted Thursday
Its the sameness that bugs me. (and the lack of humour) Everyone wants everything to be exactly like everything else. Every new video is a copy of a copy of a copy. Copies sell, and then everyone wants their new creation to look like the last cool thing. 10 minutes on tiktok and you can just see these poor kids all trying to emulate the last faddish thing, to capture exactly the same appeal of that thing.

And the Karens & Sharons all commenting 'exactly' & 'this' on the endless parades of tedious positivity memes, love yourself first posts, 'my husband left me because of ptsd not because I'm a totally annoying miserable asshole' statements.

Mind you that's all not too gentle or nice I'll try harder in the new year JB.

Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
A friend of mine was constantly posting those passive-aggressive meme things. Another friend of his replied to one saying "I've noticed you've had a few of these up here lately. Is everything okay? Give me a call if you want to talk."

That was the end of the posts. I'd like to think I'd do the same and treat these annoyances with a positive response.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted Thursday
i took a 45 odd day break from twitter myself. It was on the back of seeing some person tweet "if you have to log off from twitter you are doing it wrong". It incensed me, then made me think "why the eff do i care?" - closed it down completely and logged off (but went back in just to refresh the login before the 30 day cutoff). Went back after the much needed rest. Everyone was still there drawing out the same old type of jokes, making comments about shit that suddenly did not make any sense (or more to the point I didn't care about). It was weird - so i posted my bird shots recording the species that visit my place and commented less myself. The only thing i could relate it to was one new years eve myself and the better half had no plans, turns out no invites to parties (everyone was away that year), first year in our new place, so decided we'd wander down to the fireworks in the harbour. But what to do till midnight? Ahh we'll go watch the new Lord of the Rings movie, that went for four hours or something - good waste of time not requiring us to spend too much. It was daylight and normal when we went in. When we came out we thought it was the apocalypse. Normally I get a bit disoriented after sitting in a movie in the dark and you emerge blinking in the sunlight. But this was different. It was just after dusk. Everyone had turned into drunk zombies - it was frigging 9 oclock for gods sake. People vomiting in the gutter, agro guys trying to punch you out, girls collapsing in a heap. We had decided to walk up to the harbour but as we got closer it got worse. A total bin fire. We reached circular quay and just kept going - got on the train and went home . . . . and figured we could see the tiny explosions from our balcony anyway. So, twitter is a bit like that . . . . i may jump on that train yet to get out of the bin fire.

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I have logged out of Twitter

Posted May 3 into House keeping by John Birmingham

Like, literally. I haven't deactivated or deleted my account. I simply logged out. I did delete the app from my phone (and wrote about it) last year, but I found myself sliding back to the toxic bird's nest via Safari. So I tried to delete Safari.

Not possible.

I looked for site blocking options. Not possible on iOS.

So instead I've logged out, hoping that the simple speed bump of having to log back in will prevent me from mindlessly scrolling my time line, especially during the election. It is almost entirely shit. And toxic political shit at that.

I have books to write. I don't have time for shit. I do have reason to turn the fire hose of Twitter traffic on at Blunty or even here sometimes, but I know I can just login to do that. Then log back out.

Oddly enough, I feel zero compunction to browse Facebook. But I logged out there too on general principles.

7 Responses to ‘I have logged out of Twitter’

Barnesm mutters...

Posted May 3
Well I think Twiter and facebook are a little poorer for your absence but it sounds like it was the right choice for you.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted May 5
Twitter is like bad fast food. Facebook is good fast food. Both have little to no nutritional value, both come with more fat & salt than you need in a month, but at least Facebook tastes good like the Colonel's hot&spicy.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted May 6
I would say the opposite! although maybe bad fast food and worse. I'm not really sure why i'm bothering with twitder either. The interesting articles are getting further and further apart. I hear more and more people doing the JB thing. Rats/sinking ship and all that. (not that i'm saying JB is a rat . . . just a bit smarter than the rest of us)

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted May 6
I still enjoy dropping in every now and then, but I've become really concerned about mindless scrolling and time suckage.

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Bondiboy66 asserts...

Posted May 7
I'll admit to being a bit of a FB tragic (useful for not only time wastage but family connections and clubs/sports stuff)....but I have not ever had any truck with Twunter.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted May 7
And as for that Whatsapp thingy, or snapchat and instragram...I think I reached my technical dotage with Facebook.

My employer wants us all to be using Teams to communicate with each other. There are no words for this feeling.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted May 9
Not an FB devotee. Stopped regularly using twitter last year.occasionally I'll look at it now and then and a few times a year post pics of country pubs when I'm on a drunkytour. and abuse people.BB King once sang;

"The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away."

Yeah, the fun of Tweeterville seems to have left the building.

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Posted February 5 into House keeping by John Birmingham

Quite a few peeps have emailed and messaged me directly about being unable to comment. I’m aware the comment fuction is wobbly and will probably get some renovation work done on it in the next few weeks, depending on cost. But I’m also looking at a site overhaul and don’t want to burn money on work which I then throw away in a month or so.

4 Responses to ‘Comments’

HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted February 5
Sheeez. If I can make it work then those that are somewhat disenfranchised with the functionality might want to reconsider their positions.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted February 5
Mine did a double post a couple of days ago but i was working off the mobile.

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she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 5
Perhaps the site has become sentient and is moderating your readers comments based on its definition of the commentee's status as a favourite? If this is the case I welcome our AI overlords, please don't kill me :D

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Naut puts forth...

Posted February 5
All my comments are appearing with less wit and cutting insight than they had when I typed them.

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Free martinis

Posted February 1 into House keeping by John Birmingham

The post below is an extract from The Seven Stages of Drinking Martinis, the anthology I collected over two years of writing Alien Side Boob. But specifically the non ranty, non political bits. Looking back, they're my favourites.

Because I've grown so weary and sick in my soul of social media, I'm making a real effort to pour the energy I would've spent composing tweets or drooling thru Facebook (not a typo) into slowly renovating the ol' blog here.

I like the idea of a quiet clubhouse where I can retreat from the madness of the online world. And I gotta feeling I might not be alone. So although I've published Martinis as a book—Kindle exclusive for now, so its free for KU readers—I'll be running a piece here every now and then. Partly to pimp the book, but mostly to warm up the joint.

I get so little joy from Twitter anymore. And I've pretty much always hated Facebook. Opening those sites and apps feels like compuslive self abuse, and not the good kind.

So pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink and get cozy. But observe the one and only house rule. Be awesome to each other.

11 Responses to ‘Free martinis’

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted February 1
Good to see you Mr Birmingham, things have been awfully dull around here... Now you're on this, I hope we are going to see some gratuitous sex and violence.

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted February 1
Never Say Never Again.

Excellent film.

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Leftarc mutters...

Posted February 1
Good to see you back in the saddle JB.
Whilst I enjoy a short, pithy snark as much as the next person, watching you dismember a topic or person limb by limb (sorry, watched Kill Bill this morning) in the long form is something to savour.

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted February 1
I fkn SECOND BARNES'S FKN MOTION. I for one find the OTHER fkn worlds out there to be all of the above and somewhat more. Actually, a FKN LOT FKN MORE to be honest! And when I say that, I mean, full of the unwashed, tree huggin, lets slap somebody within an inch for a small comment, lets get angry and protest, lets not fk about, buut be PC and fear to tread ANYFKNWHERE!

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted February 1
Hazzuh! Normal service has been resumed.

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted February 1
Um, when you mention the house rule, is that with the same " intent" as the house rule at the former CBG Smack Down, octagon that was eighty versions of pure fkn awesome? Just trying to qualify what ya sayin.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 1
We all know the rules don't apply to you.

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tqft would have you know...

Posted February 1
In a fit of efficiency a few weeks back I added the burger to the list of startup sites.
I could add it to my rss feed script but that almost guarantees not being read.

To ditch twitter or not, I don't know. If I had a life outside of work I might.

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jason mumbles...

Posted February 1
I may be missing something here. Exactly where do i get the free martini. It's 5 o'clock on a Friday so a casual libation would be appreciated.

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Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 1
Hell, I might have to resurrect The Pondering Tree.

Then again, I might want to work on some new fiction first.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 1
Yes, you might.

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Shorter of breath and one year closer to death

Posted December 31, 2018 into House keeping by John Birmingham

So that's good! Another year survived here at the end of our collapsing civilisation. Not everything survived, however. I pulled the plug on Alien Side Boob last night, something I'd been intending to wind down gently over the next week or two. But Gumroad does not do gentle. As soon as I hit the button to turn off the subscriptions, it nuked the entire thing.

Oh well... I guess I got there a little quicker than I imagined.

For anyone paying attention, you can get the collection of kinder, gentler (and to be honest... funnier) Monday columns on the Beast of Bezos for free right now. But not for long.

It's here.

One of the reasons I pulled up stumps at the Boob is that after a three pretty hard years I'm starting to get the wind in my sails again. I have a bunch of projects underway, some of them not at all the sort of thing I've previously earned my quids from. (And some, like WW 3.1, exactly that sort of thing). I want to get this year right and part of that means saying no to some shit so I can bring all my guns to bear on the main targets.

I'm taking a couple of weeks to chill and reset before the year spins up again, which I'm taking to mean Jan 16 when I launch Alicia Wanstall-Burke's Blood of Heirs at Avid Reader in West End. I finished it the other day. Really fucking impressive bit of work. I find myself in the unsual position of tapping my toes impatiently waiting for the next in the series.

Don't you fucking hate it when authors do that to you?

8 Responses to ‘Shorter of breath and one year closer to death’

jl puts forth...

Posted December 31
Totally agree on the Blood of Heirs thing- awaiting Alicia's next installment. Re: ASB. It was good while it lasted, and it was pretty darn good. Happy New Year to everyone at the 'Burger!

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted January 2
Ugh, authors taking their sweet time about releasing the next in a series are the WORST. Oops, did I type that out loud?

Blood of Heirs is in my To Be Read list, which is growing horrifyingly long. Looking forward to getting stuck into it after I finish the novel of Alice Isn't Dead.

Happy New Year good Burgerers!

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 2
i got no where near enough reading done in my break (zero) but i do have a shiny new lens for my camera to occupy me. I spent Chrissy doing that australian of all australian things - putting up a trampoline in 35 plus degree heat. Bugger that. Then i went back to work today sat down at my desk and realised i'd left the laptop at home. Not all bad as i could log in and tap at the keyboard looking at trees etc instead of working on my inner fluorescent glow.

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Bangar reckons...

Posted January 3
The waiting is part of the joy of reading the new stuff, just don't do a Martin

Brother PorkChop asserts...

Posted January 4
No, it's not part of the joy at all. There no joy in waiting for the next installment. The joy is in getting it, and settling in for the read. The only joy in waiting is when I make a nice coffee, maybe a piece of Christmas fruitcake or shortbread immediately before I put the barricades up to read. If there was joy in waiting, we'd all be in raptures by now waiting for George to finish.

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 4
I wish I could insert a Meryl Streep applauding at the Oscars gif into this comment to illustrate how strongly I agree with your statement :)

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Oldy mumbles...

Posted January 7
Happy New Year, JB. Can't wait to see what 2019 brings, and especially WW 3.1 (no pressure).

And moar End of the World!

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Brother PorkChop would have you know...

Posted January 10
JB, thanks for the freebie!! Still reading it but getting funny looks in the lunch room with the laughs it is generating.

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Burger not so lite

Posted September 17, 2018 into House keeping by John Birmingham

At some point in the last year or two a couple of discs at the base of my spine began to fuse together. It happens. I wanted to keep up my jujitsu training and, even more importantly, I didn't want to stop doing exercise altogether. There were days when that felt like a real possibility. As the discs grew together, they trapped a couple of nerves between them causing some exciting side effects that felt at times as though one side of my body was on fire.
Anyway this is a long, roundabout way of fessing up that I really stacked on the weight. It was only partly down to physical incapacity. I did a lot of comfort eating after my dad passed away, too. I think I probably wrote about this at end of last year, when the ladies were about to take off for a couple of weeks overseas and I had plans to get to the gym every day.
I managed that. And I lost about 4 kilos. Huzzah for me. But the disc issue never really went away, and I had a couple of months off the mat and out of the gym with illness and more injury at the start of the year.
The weight came crashing back.
It's currently sitting at just over 94 kg. And that is down 2 kg from my peak.
I feel like I'm getting it back under control, however. It's the same old secret formula, exercise more/eat less; especially baked goods and red wine.
The big difference however is my back. I've been using sort of torture rack that I bought online to stretch it out at least four or five times every day, and that's made a big difference. I also got some massage done directly over the affected discs a short while ago and that was amazing. It gave me about two weeks without any pain at all. So I'll definitely be doing that again.
Unfortunately I got the massage on the beach up at Noosa and I can't be driving back and forth to use those guys again.

But there is a spinal massage specialist in my local neighbourhood, so I'm gonna give them a try.
One of the odd problems I've had is that the back stretcher is so effective that after a couple of days of using it I feel fine... and I forget to use it.
You can see where that's going.
So now, I've made the back-stretching sessions part of my work day. When I finish a pomordoro sesh (I'm routinely working 50 minute intervals now), I do a three minute spinal reset.
It seems to work.
I'd happily recommended this thing below for anyone with the same problem as me—fusing of the lower discs. But I don't think it's much good for problems further up the column. It's called a True Back.

16 Responses to ‘Burger not so lite’

Rob ducks in to say...

Posted September 17, 2018
10 kilos down... 15 to go. I'm down to 107 kgs now. 2 day fasts per week. well its about 2500 kilojoules 2 out of 7 days. The rest of the week is just normal eating but you tend not to over do it as you're just not as hungry as you were carbing it up 7 days a week,

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted September 17, 2018
I suffer from gout and one of the side effects of the meds appeared to assist weight loss so I got down to 106 from 119 but now I'm back close to 115, and suffering again. I am so slack with lunch and I'm overindulging which doesn't help. I'm hoping enforced working from home for most of the week associated with an office move and refit at the end of this year will encourage me to eat better, and less, and provide time for exercise because I won't be commuting for 4 hours each day. My goal is to get into 2 figures.
On the back thing, my father suffered for years until getting some sort of electric massage pad that sits on a chair, and using it every day, and it made things a lot better.
I have a couple of bulging disks and the exercises are mainly related to improving core strength. Some of the stretches are in the opposite direction to your device as well.

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Leftarc asserts...

Posted September 18, 2018
What's the point of a gold plated hovercraft if you can't park it on the beach whilst getting your massage?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 18, 2018
You make a strong case.

NBlob reckons...

Posted September 29, 2018
We had Sea Shepard's Steve Irwin parked in Laguna Bay recently. If those dreadlocked ferals are allowed, surely uber authors are.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted September 18, 2018
Must be that time of year when thoughts turn to wearing less. I'd just done a mammoth 45 days without alcohol passing my lips then broke the seal by attending oktoberfest in Redfern on the weekend. Hoo boy what a way to break a drought. Was complaining to my mates there that clothes are starting to get tight. The days off the alcohol didn't drop weight because i found myself eating more . . and exercise had stopped over that time because my usual allotment was taken up each morning stirring a broken septic tank to stop it backing up (so the girls and the wife could have showers and use a toilet). I guess it helped with upper body strength : ) Tank getting fixed tomorrow and dogs are thanking me for the extra attention again. It feels good to get back into it though.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 18, 2018
But I hate it.

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted September 20, 2018

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Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted September 19, 2018
Hows it work? I'm interested as I have a protruding disk in lower back from more than 20 years ago. Neuro at the time took an xray and said to come back in next Friday and he'd "snip it off." Frightened the shit out of me with that blase approach to my spine. Second opinion said to manage it cos after the 1st snip, the second step is fusing 2 together and then its a shitty slope to continuous pain and discomfort. I've managed it with occasional stupidity causing temporary immobilisation and considerable pain but over all its good.
Weight wise I am at 86KG, down from 92 but I cannot budge it any further. I like food too much, and red wine.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2018
I can't vouch fr how it will work for you, but it gives me a lot of relief WHEN i remember to use it regularly. Which reminds me...

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted September 20, 2018
I've got an inversion table, but the thing to be aware of is they can induce a heart attack from the weight of the lower organs pushing on the heart.

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DarrenBloomfield puts forth...

Posted September 25, 2018
What is the name/brand of the back stretcher thingy? it is exactly what I need!

And, to chip in, brag, under the guise of showing support - I'm down 10Kgs since April. More (required) to go.

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted September 25, 2018
mm well what can i say. Down to 80 kgs and been there for about 8 months I guess. FKN HOVERING THERE LIKE A MUTHA FKR GOD THAT I AM!!!!

Dave W asserts...

Posted September 26, 2018
I am in awe of the machine that is Havock.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 26, 2018
I know, right!?! Science tells us that perpetual motion machines are impossible, and yet this one seems capable of pumping out an infinite stream of bullshit!

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