Pal-e-i-e-i-o

**This post was written in January**

So I’ve started eating paleo, a.k.a. the caveman diet (for a challenge with my crossfit gym – do it all month, like Whole 30). I think I actually wrote about that once before (I write on here so little, it’s hard to keep track… *slap on wrist, shrug, sigh*). Pictures for delicious recipes I think were promised…

More like deconstructed meatloaf...

More like deconstructed meatloaf… The sweet potato-beef thing

Pumpkin pancakes with mango applesauce. No syrup? You make due

Pumpkin pancakes with mango applesauce. No syrup? You make due

I like to try to be artsy with ingredients...

I like to try to be artsy with ingredients…

And this past week I made way more. It’s rather difficult to eat paleo when you don’t take the time to prepare your own food. Let’s face it, this world is not fit for healthy, natural eating. Weird when you think about it, which I try not to, that this paleo business is actually how humans used to eat, before the introduction and glorification of on-the-go heart attack sacks, chocolate-covered bacon or donuts as burger buns (not to mention the simple adoption of agriculture, rapid crop development and hormone implementation). Don’t tell me Wisconsin is alone in this eat-now-die-way-quicker endeavor?

Anywho, this week we actually spent an entire night dedicated to cooking (and eating at the counter while doing so) so we wouldn’t have to scrounge at our service industry jobs (family/employee meal of pasta with butter sauce, fries, rice, breaded chicken… the list goes on. I appreciate a free meal, but not at the expense of winning this contest). We made coconut shrimp, chicken soup, turkey meatloaf, mini quiches (crustless muffin-looking creations). The night before we tried indulging our sweet teeth the paleo way by making brownies and apple cinnamon muffins (no pics of these ūüė¶ sorry).

Again, ingredients are fascinating, aren't they?

Oh, hello Slap Chop, didn’t realize you’d be making it to dinner. Thanks for all your help

I’m going to be honest, I’m not great with adding media into posts… so sorry that this sucks.

I didn't actually cook them together, cook the pineapple, take it out, then shrimp

I didn’t actually cook them together. Cook the pineapple, take it out, then the shrimp

For the shrimp, we bought raw with the shells on, pealed and de-pooped them, dipped them in beaten eggs, then a coconut flour – coconut flake mixture. “Frying” them in coconut oil, make sure the pan is hot enough or they will not be crisp, they will be sort of mushy, but still tasty. Importance of texture rests in your own mouth. Before we cooked the shrimp, though, we sauteed onion, garlic and pineapple, which we spooned over the shrimp. Holy shit. It was good.

Tastes like chicken noodle. Mind blown

Tastes like chicken noodle. Mind blown

I also made a super simple soup, literally just sauteed garlic, onion and diced up carrot, poured a box (four cups, I think) of chicken stock and two cups water in to boil, then threw in torn-up rotisserie chicken, sliced shitake mushrooms, chopped celery and spinach (fresh, uncut). Seasoned with garlic salt and pepper. Boom.

There's even a little cherry tomato surprise in the middle

There’s even a little cherry tomato surprise in the middle

Mini quiches were even easier. I beat five eggs (I think… all that really matters is enough egg to fill however many you want to make), threw in spinach and mushrooms, mixed it, and poured it into a greased (Pam’ed) muffin pan. You can literally put whatever you want in them.

Look at that moisture!

Look at that moisture!

The coup de gras really was the (subbed turkey) meatloaf and BBQ sauce. Brad followed the recipe to-the-“t,” which I never do, and it turned out wonderful (p.s. anyone interested in or already doing paleo, this site is amazeballs – so much so I used that douchey term to describe its excellence). I wouldn’t have bothered to cook the bacon, dice it up and throw it in with the meat mixture, but he did, and I’m glad. I might not have put bacon slices on top, but those pork strips added/secured so much moisture it was like eating dulche de leche (moist milk cake), but with meat. I was wary of all the spices in the sauce, cinnamon, allspice (and we didn’t use apple butter or cloves, and had tomato sauce instead of paste), but it was actually really fantastic.

As for the muffins and brownies, the latter were revolting. My 11-year-old nephew said he no longer trusts to eat anything I will ever make again. They were raunch. Perhaps it was the straight cocoa powder, no sugar combo… The muffins were f*king good. You genuinely don’t need any added sweetener with the almond flour and apples. So good, not to mention the texture of regular muffins, so these were winners all around.

Even though this whole paleo enterprise is time-consuming, I’m thinking those cave people were onto something. Ever seen a chubby statue of a neanderthal? Those mofos were tight. Sexy prehistoric bod, here I come…

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Dear Paleo, Why don’t you include chocolate?

When I walked into the house today, something punched me right in the nose. The overwhelming aroma of gingerbread. Although I didn’t find it right away (turns out my sister puts our large candles in those warmers that turn them to hot wax… plugged in all day… with a zoo of unruly four-legged beasts wandering the house all alone…), I enjoyed it. I bought that candle because I love the way it smells. I love the way gingerbread tastes – not tart, really, but sort of spicy and sweet, like a tamer version of that tea whose name I can’t remember. I love it. And yet, I hate it now because it sure isn’t making paleo period week any easier.

Allow me to explain. I started the Paleo Challenge because I am a regular member at my friend’s crossfit gym and they do it every year. I in no way, shape or form need to lose weight, but I could use a little help in the lean muscle/energy/tummy/clear-skin-before-30-please-God categories. And I made my dude sign up, too. He’s lost four pounds in less than a week. Not too shabby, caveman diet.

So Paleo, to those like myself who had no clue what it meant (or how to pronounce it, for that matter), is basically cutting back to the basic necessities of the body. Meat, fish, veggies, fruit (not too much), nuts (not too much) and oils (pretty much just olive and coconut). The list of “cans” is much simpler than the list of “can’ts.” I was very sad to learn that.

On the bright side, the cravings for sweets and cheese and pasta have subsided. For me, and for the most part, although anti-baby, angsty period monster is a rather large chocolate enthusiast. You won’t win this time, bitch. And I’ve been cooking. Quite a bit, actually. I’ve made a sweet potato ground beef casserole crock pot thing, stuffed peppers, pumpkin pancakes, bread (ew, needs something wet, like the real milk, whiskey and chocolate I’ve been missing). *Down monster!*

>>side notes about: The pancakes, I didn’t have pumpkin spice, so I added 1/4 c canned pumpkin – so necessary for moisture! Also, no honey on my challenge, so we dipped them in unsweetened peach applesauce – which they didn’t even really need! And also, 3 eggs = 3/4 c egg whites. Why waste the good stuff? The casserole, ours was not a beautiful, neatly layered lasagna so much as a mush, but pretty yummy, nonetheless.

I will add photos of what a lamen’s attempt at Paleo looks like when I can figure out how to get them from Dropbox onto here…

Happy eating ūüôā

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There’s actually nothing “mini” about 13.1 miles…

I ran my fourth half marathon. Two last year, two this year (and a half half, six wee miles, wearing a bib that wasn’t mine – sorry Rock N’ Sole). I’ve got my first full in about a month (oh, country theme, I cannot wait), so it goes without saying that’s what I’ve been focusing on.

I was bummed about this race, though. My PR, from the Door County Half this past May, is 1:56:33. I was hoping to pound that time into the ground with my increased endurance and overall awesomeness (since I’d already logged my 19-miler the week before). Such was not the case. 1:57:42.

I know it’s still a good time, and I know I should be pleased that I kept it under two hours, especially since I started way slower than I usually do in races. My running buddy, Nicky, has the pace watch, but she didn’t run the Brewers Half. And my other buddy, Ali, who ran it with me, doesn’t have a pace watch, and neither do I. So we started with the 2:10 group, not realizing that meant 10-minute miles. Not thinking we wanted to finish with an average pace of about 8:30 miles. Which meant hauling some serious ass to try to catch up to where we needed to be to get the time we wanted.

It was less than pleasant. But not impossible. In the past I struggled to keep up with my running cohorts after mile six, not necessarily because they are in better shape than me, but maybe because they’re more adept at running, built better for it, wanted it more. Who knows? In the past we started out faster, maybe too fast, and maybe that’s why I wound up lagging behind (no more than a few minutes, but still, every single second in a race counts). This time was too easy, and I think we knew it. By the time we hit mile five there was no real sense of fatigue, so I knew we were in target-time trouble.

Then we took off. And although I don’t know exactly how fast we were going, I do know that we overtook the 2:05 pacer, with our sights still set on the 2:00 pacer (whom we didn’t find until right at the end). My legs were independent of my body by mile 12. I wanted to slow down, wanted to stop, wanted to barf, but I didn’t. Ali makes it look so easy, you can never tell if she’s tired (which she probably isn’t. Bitch). So I tried my damndest to keep up with her. I wasn’t going to lose her. Not this time.

The wind turned in on us as we turned into the parking lot. An array of unpleasantries entered my mind and numerous guttural sounds escaped my throat. I was pissed. Nothing irritates me more than wind on race day. We had suffered a 30-minute start delay thanks to an early morning thunderstorm, I had had to send my boyfriend back home after dropping us off in the rain to fetch my ipod and some extra layers, my ipod was dying. And now wind? At the very end? Were we being tested? Punished? Was Mother Nature playing games? If I wasn’t concerned with time, or the general appeal of public, human decency, I would have stopped right there and had the full blown hissy fit I was concealing so well under my breath as I prayed to everything holy it would just. end. already. Sometimes the weather’s a real C U Next Tuesday.

It inevitably did end, and we didn’t face plant, didn’t poop our pants, didn’t break anything, didn’t hurt ourselves or anybody else, didn’t collapse. I’d say, disappointing time and all, it was a success. Minus the shit weather, slow start and rain delay…

The route was good – we ran around the Harley Davidson Museum’s parking lot, down through Miller Valley, high fived some sausages along the way, enjoyed some live tunes here and there, finished it strong running on the field of Miller Park (well, foul ball territory, but holy crap, is that what it’s like to be on the field, cheered on by so many people?!). Then got a free, frosty beer we justly enjoyed. In the security and warmth of the car.

Our spectator, my amazing and supportive bf (who gets up at 5am for every race without complaint, drives us, fetches things we need last minute, runs, yes, runs, from point A to point B just to make sure he can wave to us and catch a photo opp, and tells me how awesome I am each and every time I finish) held his head high as he trudged who-knows-how-many miles to see us three times throughout the race. I am so thankful for him.

Ali’s hubs couldn’t make it/didn’t want to come. When we talked about it over our 20-miler yesterday (ah!), Ali told Nicky and I how upset she gets that her husband isn’t always as supportive as she’d like. The three of us agreed that most people don’t really get the magnitude of running. The training, the stress, the fatigue, the hours and hours and hours spent researching, working out, running. It’s not just another hobby, not just another way to improve your body or blow off steam. It’s a commitment. It takes immense dedication and discipline to set a goal (such as a half or full marathon, or even a 5k) and see to it you succeed. High fives all around to any and everyone who has ever run anything. Ever. For real. You rock.

So, we had a good time at this race. And that’s all that really matters. And we will for sure have fun at the next. Cowboy hats and cowbells, here we come.

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I want to go to there

I’m looking into Grad School (not sure if that needs to be capitalized, but it’s pretty major, so big letters, you are welcome in this post). And not just any Grad School, Northwestern University’s Medill – Journalism Master’s Program, a.k.a. the best journalism school in the country, a.k.a. my academic equivalent to a wet dream. I would give anything to go there (and may have to, because I’m not totally sure how (un)qualified I am to get in…). I wanted to get my Bachelor’s there, but didn’t bother applying because of finances and the just-mentioned doubt of admission.

The way that it seems to work is: you go there, you get a job. Anywhere. Period. So the carrot dangling in my face is looking pretty tasty after the seven-year fast I’ve self inflicted since finishing my undergrad. ¬†And they are going to wonder about that (I know because I asked). Why Medill (and that question warrants a big ole ‘DUH!’), but, more scarily, why NOW? And the answer to that question is much more complex…

What have I been doing the last seven years. you ask? I ask myself that, too, all too often recently. The more rapidly I catapult towards 30, the more reflection (and inevitable disappointment) I am faced with. Let’s look back… I graduated in December of 2005. Following that I wrote freelance for a local crunchy publication and loved it – learned all kinds of cool stuff about international farming organizations, alternative medicine, sperm banks (I jumped on that assignment, believe you me, and it is not like anything you see in the movies. Go figure!). I did a season’s review of Dancing With the Stars (thanks to my more affluent journalistic friend who works now for Glamour). Most recently I was accepted to write for a sports website and wrote a smashing review regarding a baseball player I neither know too much, nor care too much (he’s not a Brewer), about. And there’s this stellar blog that I pour so much of my time and effort into… (*cringe*)

So why the hemming and hawing? Why wait until now? Quite simply, I am no longer qualified to do anything. My degree focused solely on the writing aspect of journalism, with no dips into any of the other jars – marketing, PR, advertising, broadcast… the list really does go on and on. And Medill offers all of it, specialized and fast-paced. You get to sample all the flavors, create your own delicious, super smart sundae and come out a seasoned professional that real media institutions actually want to hire. So there’s that. And then there are the emotional, personal, no-one’s-problem-or-fault-but-my-own reasons.

I wanted to move away after school. Got close a time or two. Quit my then-serving job thinking I would pack up my shit and follow my dream of spreading news and awareness and importance to others. So I lived at home to save up, didn’t want to get involved in a lease of any sort that would hinder my get-up-and-go opportunity. Eventually I moved out on my own, near home, and started the process of learning that my education essentially meant nothing anymore.

At this point I couldn’t (didn’t want to) be too far from home for one very special, most important reason that I will inevitably have to divulge to the not-necessary-but-in-your-case-you-probably-should-have-one interview to explain the seven-year-gap in my educational resume and why I never really, truly pursued anything until now. And now, I have no choice but this. And, luckily, this is what I truly want.

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What can you say?

So I volunteer, nothing new there. Still plugging away at Horizon, ONG and the Humane Society. I’m adding a youth running club to the list this summer – pretty excited about it. I really enjoy spending my time with others, for others… if only I could do it all the time. And get paid. Defeats the purpose, I know, but still…

Today touched me as a volunteer in a way I’ve been waiting for. I act as a “greeter” at Horizon, a.k.a. desk sitter, coffee maker, smiling welcomer. I’m not trained to interact directly with patients (too heavy for me yet), but I do get some decent one-on-one time with their loved ones. I am the first face they see, after all.

Today I spent a few moments chatting with a friend of a woman who’s been in hospice for about two months – near an eternity in hospice time. I love¬†coming in week to week and finding the same name(s) on the board. I root for them to continue living, even though I know it can’t be too much longer. I said “hello” as she passed my desk, went through the usual “how are you today” (what else do you say?), and she paused in such a way that suggested she wanted someone to talk to. Dying is enough of a bitch for the person going through it, let alone those who have to sit back and watch, acting strong and supportive, all the while screaming inside for someone to do something to stop it all from happening.

She told me about her relationship with Carol, how they had worked together long ago, lost touch, then reunited and have grown closer since. She explained how often she comes to visit, how strong Carol has been, how she would describe her lunch to Carol today, even though she’s beyond the ability to eat, even as she slips away, knowing she can still hear and understand and feel (she even brought Carol some popcorn to smell, since she had been craving it recently). She told me how she’s been¬†holding out hope that Carol will be all right, knowing all the while that hope is futile (shit, sometimes hope is all we have to hold on to, you know?).

We talked about how important it is to be a presence in their finals days (weeks, months, if you’re lucky), how much they must appreciate the visits and support¬†and love they receive on a regular basis. How there really is no preparation to deal with the loss of someone so loved, even¬†though every day that goes by is heavy with anticipation. How you never necessarily think one person can mean so much to you.

This woman is strong, even as she struggles to let go. She’s there for her friend in her time of greatest need. In this business, there’s nothing more you can ask for.

Then a man came in looking for the belongings left¬†behind¬†in his¬†father’s¬†room last week (I only come¬†in on Mondays, and only saw his name on the board once, so he wasn’t here very long). There was a lamp and two bags of things, so I walked with¬†him down to his car. He asked about our grief counceling¬†services, I didn’t want to pry. In his car was a beautiful 11-year-old husky, his friend through all this, he said. Animals are¬†phenomenal companions when suffering, and I was struck with sadness and hope (ah, hope) that this¬†old dog would last long¬†enough for this man be all right,¬†without suffering¬†the added loss of¬†his faithful friend.

As I walked back into the building, tears snuck out ever so gently. This is heavy, overwhelming, emotionally abrasive stuff. It was a struggle my first few weeks, watching the names on the board change, plastering on a smile for the¬†people who are here for one reason. I know how they feel, I know what they are going through, I know no matter how many nice¬†people pass them by with a smile or a hug, that person in¬†that bed down the hall is still going to die. It’s hard for me, on this side of the desk, that I now get to come and go for a different reason, and they are stuck in limbo until their loved one is released. But they will be okay.¬†We all will. One can only hope.

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Writing for an hour… give or take some time

Today I woke up and the first thing that popped into my mind was, “Must write for an hour today.” Of course it wasn’t as zombie sounding as it sounds, like “Need brains,” or anything, but my own conviction did startle me nonetheless.

So, what to write about for an hour? I thought about breaking down all my thoughts into coherent, categorized, separate posts, but the rambling that’s about to partake should be pretty interesting. It takes me back to the days in middle school (high school?) when creative writing exercises consisted of putting pen to paper and writing any and everything that came to mind. No stopping. Even if you end up writing “um, I don’t know what to write” over and over, it was encouraged. Your brain can’t be free if you don’t set it free… Something like that. So today, I am paying homage to the educational institution that molded me into the mediocre, not quite successful simp that I am today (over 10 years later).

Keeping the ball rolling… My sister, older, the one I live with in our childhood home, wanted to put our 18.5-year-old cat down this past weekend. The thought’s been growing like a fungus in her mind for months – he’s incontinent, you see. Which is disgusting and unfortunate, and it’s literally like living with a 120-year-old man, except this one can jump on the counter and often nuzzles your neck before letting his bowels loose on the favorite sweater you left on the floor. Now that the weather’s nice enough for grave digging (we bury our animals in our backyard), she was ready for euthanasia.

My hesitance stems mostly from the facts that a. he’s been around for almost 2/3 of my life b. he’s the last remaining of the original trio (we had a kitten, Topaz, before Onyx, his sister, Dancer, and Stubbs, but she died after being spayed – Feline AIDS) and c. no one likes to put an animal down. The girls’ deaths (Stubbs’ and Dancer’s), one a surprise, the other a medical necessity, were not easy. But I digress…

We took Onyx to the vet on Saturday and my sister let the tech know I wasn’t quite ready, were there any other options? After putting up a hissing fight against the vet, it was clear he wasn’t ready to go. She gave him a shot for his arthritis and prescribed pills for his overactive thyroid (both causes for the geriatric to piss wherever it was comfortable and convenient). Now he lives in the sunroom with two litter boxes, puppy pads, food and water, sunshine, couches and television. Although he’s confined, I think he appreciates that slightly more than sleeping under the tree in the backyard.

I recently watched the movie In Time. It was okay. I won’t complain. Anything featuring Justin Timberlake topless is enough to keep me enthralled for at least the time his nipples are onscreen. It was a sort of jumbled, I felt like there wasn’t a ton of explanation or follow through on some things, but overall it was something to watch. The concept, though, that was interesting.

You pay in time. There is no currency, just time. Everyone stops aging at 25 (not too shabby, I’m already three years past and wouldn’t mind a little rewind), and gets a year after. It’s up to you to earn more, to keep living. Your clock, your wallet, your lifespan, is displayed in neon green on your forearm for all to watch the countdown with you. You know exactly how much time you have, down to the second. You can give/take time from others with a simple touch, pay for goods, get paid, live in a constant state of anxiety in how you will survive another day. Their society is split into time zones, classes, if you will, based on the access to time. Obviously those in the “ghetto, ” time zone 7, struggle and live day-to-day, while those in time zone 1 are seemingly immortal. Tolls are paid along the way, ranging in price from days to months.

Makes you think about time. How we spend it, how much is wasted. Now, the people in the movie are still people, so they need to sleep, but I don’t think the poor indulge quite like the poor in real life. In the movie, you literally work to live. If you don’t make time, you run out and die. In real life, the less fortunate (some, not all), often take advantage of the system in place and survive just fine, but they still suffer, everyone still suffers, save for the privileged few. Shit, I forgot to take the garbage out. I can’t wait for my package of a weighted hula hoop and Clarisonic Mia replacement heads today! The movie is a reflection of our society, capitalism, what little I really understand of it, is what I think. In the movie, they say several must die so a few can be immortal. Fucked up, but true in real life – everyone must be poor(ish) so that the rich can stay rich (Republican much?). My animals are strewn across the floor and couches, lying in the sun. I need to take the dogs for a walk before work. I’m excited to start reading The Help, I just finshed Schindler’s List, which was a great book. I’m nervous to watch the movie. AH! Mind wandering. I’m not quite done with my thoughts, but there’s more time. For now, my time is up. Perfect timing. Time is money. Time is love. Time is fleeting. Time heals. Hammer time.

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I love bacon. And I don’t drink diet soda

I recently started seeing/hearing all these ads for Dr. Pepper Ten. It’s for men. It has 10 “manly” calories, contains real sugar and somehow maintains all 23 secret ingredients that give the original, and diet, their unique, indescribable flavor. Men supposedly don’t like drinking diet soda, they don’t like the stigma attached to drinking a “lady” drink. Try telling that to all the bros I serve, catch checking themselves out at the gym and see ordering vodka diets while trying to pick me up (okay, so some of them are gay, but they are still men, are they not?).

I love Dr. Pepper ads.¬†What’s it taste like? A¬†satisfying diet soda that tastes like regular? Unbelievable!¬†Why, I’d sooner believe that mermen take turns spearing the Tooth Fairy on unicorns with their magical, dolphin-like penises. Dr. Pepper ads are funny. And the latest campaign is no different. Do people seriously believe that the creators of this ad really think that women will shy away from drinking it because it’s marketed towards men?

How well has that worked in the past? Let’s see… my little sister wears Old Spice¬†deodorant. Not even the least interesting men I know drink Dos Equis.¬†Keystone Light (light?! That’s not manly) is gross, but even I’ll drink it. No one really likes Miller Lite (again with the light? I thought men weren’t supposed to be into that. But I guess that’s the point of the ads in the first place, huh? We’re gonna make you think you need to like this shit), but I’ll take a man card for drinking my weight in them at baseball/football tailgates. I, like everyone else in the free world, love Snickers, regardless of hunger pangs (not to mention women particularly like them when they’re perioding. Whatcha think about that, Mars?).¬†Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Really?

I get a kick out of all the sexist machismo. I don’t take it seriously. But then I heard that one of the several reasons Dr. Pepper Ten isn’t for women is because “women don’t blog about bacon…” And that did it. ¬†So here you go, Dr. Pepper, I hope this makes you happy.

Reasons I love bacon:

  1. It’s delicious. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Everything is better with bacon. You can wrap other meat in it, not to mention water chestnuts (and let’s face it, no one would eat those crunchy bastards if you couldn’t drape them in delicious pork fat).
  3. You can deep fry it, poke it onto a stick and dip it in chocolate (I have never been so proud to be a Wisconsinite…).
  4. Even ice cream is better with bacon. For real.
  5. Pigs are smart, so eating them makes you smart, too.
  6. It is clinically proven to cure hangovers. Cheers.
  7. It has protein to make you strong, fat to make it delicious and an odor that would make even the most devout veghead slash a swine’s throat.
  8. Bacon can help you lose weight (over time and only if you don’t go overboard there, piggy). I know, mind blown.
  9. It has omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats AND vitamins A, C and E. All good things, I’m told.
  10. It’s good for your unborn baby. Sacrificing one life for another keeps the world in even rotation. If you don’t eat it, the world will end.
  11. God likes bacon. Trump card, y’all.

Back to the original subject… I hope Dr. Pepper keeps the ads coming. I get a kick out of them, and so do a lot of other people I know. And they must be doing something right when so many people are talking about them. Love them or hate them, they are right where they’re supposed to be: in your mouth and on your brain. But they better just keep it fun, keep it light, because I don’t drink diet soda, I love bacon, and I am, above all, a lady.

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