Month: January 2005 (Page 1 of 2)

Six Month Checkup

I stayed home, as I had a relapse of my cold last night, but the numbers for M’s doctor visit were:
18 pounds, 8 ounces. 90th percentile.
Head size was 90th percentile. Look at the big brain on M!
25 inches and change, 25th percentile. I still don’t trust the height measurement. She really feels like she’s lengthened out a lot since November.

 

D’s Dirty Dozen

Crazy week, with half of last week’s dozen picking up losses. Complicating matters, some of those same teams had notable wins to balance the losses. Thank goodness I know what I’m doing and can make sense of all of this for you.
12) Michigan State. Will cracking my poll jinx them for their battle with Illinois Tuesday? Quietly playing some very good ball.
11) Oklahoma State. A brief drop, as I think they’ll be fine.
10) Oklahoma. Only here because they beat OSU and per my rules, they win the tie-breaker. A real downer to lay an egg in Ames after their performance last Monday.
9) Duke. I told you they weren’t that good. How about another loss so I can drop them even further?
8) Syracuse. Looked absolutely awesome in the first five minutes at Pittsburgh. I don’t know what happened after that.
7) Louisville. Another team that’s benefited from a loss. On fire since the Kentucky game.
6) Wake Forest. Even though it took overtime, the loss to Georgia Tech doesn’t look so good considering Tech’s circling of the tank over the last three weeks.
5) Kentucky. The SEC is horrible, so if Kentucky picks up more than one loss the rest of the season, we’ll know they’re not very good.
4) Boston College. Eagerly awaiting the games with Syracuse and UConn to see if they’re the real deal. Why do college basketball writers dust off the same tired “Can they go undefeated??” stories each January? Didn’t we go through this, oh, 12 months ago with St. Joe’s and Stanford?
3) Kansas. The alarm clock was answered, with authority. I hope it wasn’t just a case of hitting the snooze button.
2) North Carolina. Safe to say they rebounded from their loss to Wake. It was delightful to see Mr. Williams screaming at his walk-ons when UNC was up 40 Saturday. Yes, the move to Chapel Hill has really mellowed the little redneck. That’s going to do wonders for his starters’ psyche if they find themselves trailing someone in March (See Billy Thomas, 1995-98).
1) Illinois. About the only team I haven’t jinxed yet. Got through Wisconsin ok; Michigan State is the last true threat on their schedule. Some of my St. Louis friends might know the answer to this question: does Illinois have an arch rival in conference? Mizzou is obviously a huge rival, but that’s non-con and the football game is only played periodically. My best guess would be Iowa, but most people I know who spent time in Iowa City made it sound as though Hawkeye fans focused their Big 10 attentions on Michigan. Northwestern ain’t it, because Illinois has been waxing them for 80 years or so. Indiana has at least two other rivals more important than the Illini. Strange that schools like Kansas and Oklahoma have two arch rivals that are in conference, and Illinois has none. Interesting only to me?

 

Big 12 Notes (Mostly Kansas-Texas)

An afternoon with the daughter, a remote, and ESPN FullCourt. Good things can happen on a day like this. Unfortunately, I was working on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep so I napped throughout the day Saturday.

I tried to watch the Nebraska-Texas Tech game. Damn near put me into a coma, though. Why will Bobby Knight sell space on his ugly ass sweaters but not let 19 year old kids put their names on the backs of their jerseys? I know, I know, college is about the name on the front of the jersey, but I don’t think it’s player names on the back of the jersey that has caused the game to deteriorate.

I watched almost the entire second half of the Oklahoma-Iowa State game. Thank goodness Hilton Magic reared its ugly head and stopped the OU juggernaut. They were getting scary and KU needs the Sooners to pick up a couple losses so if OU wins their match-up in Norman Kelvin can’t try to claim the conference title somehow. (OSU could win the league and I think Kelvin would find a way to spin in that OU were the real champs if they beat KU next month. Kind of like how he always claimed they were the real champs when they won the conference tournament but finished second or third in the league.)
Stinson and Blalock can be so much fun to watch. Of course, Stinson is 29, so he should be better than everyone else.
Wayne Morgan has really showed me something this year on the fashion tip. Three piece suit against KU. Blazer and turtle-necked sweater last week. Straight suit and tie yesterday. He’s shown more fashion diversity in a week than Crazy Larry Eustachy did in his 4-5 years in Ames.
A large win for the most disappointing team in the conference so far (0-5 start for a team some thought could slip into fourth place?!?!).

Chris Piper had an interesting comment when KU played ISU regarding players who face eligibility questions at the semester break. He said that generally was something coaches only had to worry about with freshmen and juco transfers. That makes it even more amazing that PJ Tucker couldn’t pass six stinking hours last fall. I figured with all the money Texas has, he probably has a Rhodes Scholar candidate to tutor him for each class. He just might be dumb enough to declare for the draft this spring. If LaMarcus Aldridge is out for the season, I think that means he comes back next year. Kid was just getting used to the college game and starting to blossom. And that Daniel Gibson kid is good. A half step slower than TJ Ford, but already a better shooter.

I, of course, watched all the ESPN Gameday coverage from Lawrence very closely. Digger Fucking Phelps had to piss me off from the start, talking about how Notre Dame won the Midwest regional that was played in Lawrence in ’79 as something that made Allen Fieldhouse special. “That was something that was very important to the Notre Dame program.” Nonsense, outside ending UCLA’s winning streak, it’s the only thing of worth you did in your coaching career. It was important to you more than the school. That’s why you mentioned it, jackass. And other than you, no one mentions that when talking about great moments at Phog Allen.

As for the Kansas-Texas game, I expected KU to win. They’re better than Texas, Texas has had a rough couple of weeks, and the game was in Lawrence. However, I expected Texas to make the game very ugly and hang around until late. I’m quite pleased that I was wrong. That was the best, most complete performance by KU this year. They hit a couple outside shots early to loosen up the zone. Then Wayne Simien got hot, forcing UT out of the zone. They played outstanding defense the entire night. Other than a three minute lull in the first half, the intensity was there from start to finish. Best of all, they smacked Texas in the mouth early and made Texas blink. That’s not something that happens to Rick Barnes’ teams very often. It’s too early to say whether the past week has been a true turning of the corner for KU, or if they’re just playing to the level of their competition. Saturday night was certainly promising, though.

Perhaps only coincidental, but Saturday Bill Self stuck with a nine man rotation until the game was out of reach. I’ve been a little frustrated by his substitution patterns, and am glad he seems to have reigned things in significantly. When CJ Giles is healthy, I think he’ll take Moulaye Niang’s place in the rotation. Russ Robinson may be stuck on the bench as long as Jeff Hawkins continues to play like someone other than Jeff Hawkins. I wonder if the rotation will go to ten players if Alex Galindo can get healthy again. Another shooter would be nice. Anyway, I wonder if having more of a set substitution pattern helped the team relax and find themselves.

Seeing the Horns Down sign is always good.

Favorite shirt seen at the game; a group of coeds with shirts saying “Keith Makes ‘Em Sweat”. Bringing the old to the new, and the new to the old!

Being the big fan of Rick Barnes that I am, I loved how he was loathe to give any praise to Allen Fieldhouse when Andy Katz interviewed him. I half expected him to snap, “You don’t lose to a building, you lose to a team.” Perhaps he would have said that if asked after the game rather than before.

I forgot to save the link, but Jerome Solomon in the Houston Chronicle had a run down of Big 12 arenas this week. (Best fans: Kansas. Worst fans: Colorado.) He listed Gallagher-Iba as the loudest arena in the league. I, for one, can’t believe that. I know several people who either went to OSU or are from Stillwater, and they are all some of the most laid back, soft-spoken people I’ve ever met. (For my non-KC readers, this is a sarcastic exaggeration that is the complete opposite of the truth. I love my OSU friends, but Jesus they’re loud! They’re proud of it, too, so no harm in sharing.)

I only got to see the first half of the OSU-CU game Saturday, so not much to say about that one. Kind of hard to believe OSU hadn’t won in Boulder in nine years, although their opportunities to do so have been cut in half since the poachers from Texas took over.

Monday night, Kansas-Missouri battle #1. Although they are Internet based, and thus highly dubious, rumors abound that a big KU win could mean Melvin Watkins will be coaching Missouri next weekend. I’ve heard John Calipari’s name mentioned as a possible replacement next year. I’m not sure why he would even be on the list. Sure, he won at UMass, but he got them put on probation in the process, and they had to vacate their Final Four appearance in ’95. He sucked in the NBA. His record has been mixed at best in Memphis. He can coach a little, but I’m not sure a program that will be looking to dramatically improve its image would ignore his many issues to get Cal on the sidelines. Plus, he spent a couple years at KU with Larry Brown, so he’s been soiled!

 

Rolling Over

I try to keep these updates high on the descriptive and low on the boastful. However, I must tell you, my daughter is the most delightful baby the world has ever seen. I say that despite the fact we’re in full teething mode and we’re battling fits of tears and anger with Motrin and Little Teethers gel. In between bouts with gum pain, M. is as funny as I can imagine a kid her age being. She picked up a new sound while we were away. Put a glob of spit on the back of your tongue, then hiss like a cat. Only it’s fun hissing, not angry hissing. You’re not mad at anyone. She makes this noise about 75% of the time she’s awake now, and if you do it back at her, she squeezes her eyes shut and giggles.

Really, everything makes her laugh. I was making dinner the other day and she just watched me from her swing (which she can now reach out, grab the frame, and stop). Each time I looked at her, she laughed. Walk up the stairs holding her, she laughs. Carry her under a light, she looks up at it and laughs. Give her a large, red Dixie cup and she laughs and plays with it. Feed her (like today), and she laughs and tries to grab the spoon before you can get it to her mouth. Put her in the tub, she kicks her legs like she’s a maniac and laughs. As I said, delightful.

The big milestone this week has been rolling over. She rolled from front to back at six weeks, which was a little early. She did that for about a month, then stopped cold when she reached the age where she should be doing that. We tried and tried to get her to keep doing rolling, but she would just lay on her belly looking at us. Finally, around Christmas, she started going front to back again. We hadn’t seen her make any effort to do the hard roll, from back to front before this week. I’ve seen other babies struggle with the whole arm tuck thing for weeks. Tuesday night, M. was in her crib watching her mobile. She kept rolling to her side and grabbing the bumper, so I pulled her to the opposite side of the crib just to see how far she could roll. Boom, rolls completely over like she’s been doing it for months. I called S. in, flipped M. over to her back again, and she immediately rolls to her belly. “Had you seen this?” I asked S.. “No!” Neither had grandma who watched her while we were away. Not sure if she had been practicing at night when we couldn’t see her, but now she’s a pro. We put her on the floor to play with toys and she’ll do 3-4 rolls in a row and end up halfway across the room. Kid’s getting dangerous; we’ll have to start pinning her in.

The girl has learned how to sleep, too. I think it helped that grandma would put her to bed at 8:00-8:30 every night last week. But now, we can put her down at early as 8:00 and she’ll sleep until 7-7:30. Even better, she’s taking at least one long nap each day in her crib. She was willing to sleep 90-120 minutes during the day in the past, but she generally had to be laying on one of us to do it. Getting a full night of sleep (Illness allowing, of course) and having time during the day to do things rocks! Now teething is going to screw everything up, of course.

Monday is her six month check-up, so I’ll have updated height and weight numbers then, but it’s obvious she’s growing like a weed. S. cleaned out all the clothes that don’t fit her anymore, and we put so many outfits into storage that it suddenly looks like she doesn’t have anything to wear. She’s definitely longer and not as chunky as she was at her last check-up in November.

Finally, she had a very telling moment Wednesday night. I was watching the Pacers-Celtics game, which featured my men Paul Pierce and Jermaine O’Neal. I’ve kept quiet about this, but JO has replaced The Truth as my favorite NBA player. Each time there was a close up of Jermaine on Wednesday, M. laughed. When they showed Paul, she didn’t react at all. Kid’s in tune with what her daddy is thinking. Hopefully I can teach her fun anti-Texas and Missouri things over the next couple KU games.

(Funny aside, a former co-worker who went to Mizzou, as did her husband, taught their daughter to say “BOOO KU” at something crazy like 15 months. They’d bring her to work, send her to my cube, she’d yell that at me, then laugh. I had to admit that was pretty impressive. I worry about the things the children of a few of my friends will say.)

Of Pigskins And Whatnot

Some tidbits from the weekend:

I’m not sure what that was that went on in the KU-Villanova game. I do know this: that game will be looked back at as the turning point for this KU team. They’re either going to take it as a wake-up call, start performing more consistently and get past whatever off-court issues might exist within the team. Or that’s going to be the moment we look back at and say, “They were never really that good because they never recovered from that game.” I’m really hoping it’s just a matter of the team reading its preseason hype and/or thinking about the NBA too much, which can be corrected. The much vaunted toughness us KU fans were so excited about after the Georgia Tech and Kentucky games was certainly no where to be found Saturday.

Why do the haters continue to hate the Patriots? I just don’t get it. I think you can make a legitimate argument for picking the Colts last week, no matter what Bill Simmons says. In theory the Colts’ offensive scheme was the perfect way to attack the Patriots’ defense. Their collapse was predictable, though. I don’t understand how anyone outside Pittsburgh thought the Steelers had a realistic chance Sunday. A rookie quarterback who’s been in the tank for a month is really going to be effective against one of the most innovative defenses in the game? Come on. The mythology of the Patriots has probably gone a little too far, but they are a fascinating team to watch. How many teams out there with two rings still play as though they have something to prove in each game? Analysts rightly dismiss comparisons to the 49ers beyond the Brady-Montana angle, but I do think the Patriots’ coaching staff is the best combination of innovation and sheer good coaching since the Bill Walsh era ‘Niners.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a casual watcher of football. I make my predictions based on hunches and observation more than any in-depth knowledge of the game. That said, does Jim Nantz know the first thing about football? Each time I listen to him broadcast a game, I wonder if he really understands anything about the game.

Am I the only one who thinks everyone on Pittsburgh’s defense is on steroids? It’s not their size that concerns me, it’s the out-of-control emotions even when down 21. Rage much?

As an old school Cowboys fan, I despise the Philadelphia Eagles. I hate them more than the Redskins and Giants put together. Between that and my admiration for the Patriots (helped by being a regular reader of Mr. Simmons and my brother-in-law who’s at BU giving me more interest in watching them), I think you know where my rooting interests lie next week.

RE:Johnny Carson, like a lot of kids I grew up watching Johnny when I was at my grandparents’ homes. In the days before rural cable, that was really the only late night option when visiting the sticks of western Kansas. They always thought he was funny, so I guess I did too. When I reached high school and really got into Letterman and then Arsenio, I turned my back on Johnny. He was old, out of touch, a square. In recent years, as our circle of friends has developed an appreciation for the Sinatra lounge scene, I started to wish TVLand or NBC would show old Tonight Shows. I could do without the Rich Little appearances, but there was a ton of good comedy in those shows. In turbulent times, there was always a warm, safe, comforting feel to Johnny’s show. I think Leno sucks, Letterman lost his fastball years ago, and can’t stay up to watch Conan. To say that Johnny was the master is to state the obvious. It’s too bad his style will never work on TV again. We could use a little Johnny Carson in the world today. Rest in peace.

A note for Cheers fans: The Thanksgiving Orphans should air on TV Land sometime in the next two days, unless they skip it. They’re in the middle of season five right now. Tan ‘N Wash was on last night.

D’s Dirty Dozen

A lot happened in the two weeks since my last update. Hopefully I’m keeping everything straight.

12) Arizona. Little known fact: I’ve always kind of been in love with Arizona, going back to 1988 when they were in the Final Four in Kansas City. Us kids from the plains always pine for the girls who have tans year-round.
11) Louisville. Pounding people. Just pounding them.
10) Oklahoma. Even without Texas’ troubles, they’re playing well enough to be a conference title contender.
9) Kentucky. Getting Crawford back could be a lesson for the entire team on how to sacrifice for the collective good.
8) Kansas. Ugh. I won’t overreact yet. We’ll see how they do this week.
7) Boston College. Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’. It isn’t just any team that can beat Villanova.
6) Oklahoma State. They got screwed having to play Texas in PJ Tucker’s last game before he became ineligible. Therefore, I take away only a half point for the loss. Good for the rest of the Big 12, though.
5) Duke. I just don’t think they’re that good, and the praise for them is over-the-top even by Duke sycophant standards. I forget where I read it, but some hoops blogger said, “Oh wow, Coach K has a team that starts five McDonald’s All-Americans. Yeah, it’s AMAZING they’re playing so well.” How true. Still, no one else deserves this spot now.
4) North Carolina. They were due some humbling and got it from Wake a week back. Aiming for the first Duke game now.
3) Syracuse. There’s just something about this team I really like, even if they don’t always win pretty. Who in the country can guard Warrick?
2) Wake Forest. The big win over UNC last year confirmed their status as one of the elites.
1) Illinois. No change at the top. I bet Wake would like another crack at them now. The much ballyhooed Wisconsin trip is this week.

 

The Funniest Thing My Daughter Has Ever Done

I’m working on my vacation wrap-up, but that probably won’t get posted until tomorrow. However, there is this one M. story that demands immediate sharing. As I have mentioned in the past, she’s really into Hide and Go Seek with us. It starts just saying “Boo!” and tickling her, and eventually one of us is hiding behind a door or wall and then jumping out. That’s when she really gets her laugh going. Last Sunday, the morning we were leaving, she woke up at about 5:45. We tried giving her binky to her, turning on her crib aquarium, etc. but she wouldn’t dose back off. So we broke down and brought her to bed with us so we could try to get that last half-hour of sleep. She fidgeted and cried, so S. hoped out of bed to make her a bottle. I rolled over to put a hand on M. so she couldn’t work her way to the edge of the bed. I noticed she was looking towards the door, and I could see her little cheeks were puffed up. Even when you’re behind her, you can tell when she’s smiling because her cheeks are so big right now. I leaned over to see what she was smiling at . She was staring at the door, waiting for S. to jump out and say “Boo!” I guess. She lay there smiling, and eventually gave up on mom and just started laughing on her own. Killed me, I’m telling you! Being away from her wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be (Helped that we got zero frantic calls from Grandma and our one call home was greeted with no exceptional news) but the image that stuck with me over the five days was M. laying in the dark, laughing because she wanted to play games with her sleepy mom.

Big Plans

It’s going to be a busy weekend in La Casa de Blogger. Tomorrow, M. gets baptized for starters. All you anti-Papists out there can make your derisive comments now. Be sure to share them with my wife next time you see her. Sunday morning, S. and I depart for our first extended time away from the baby. We’re off to Rincon, Puerto Rico for five days. S’s neighbor from Kansas City, Jackie (who some of you know), is getting married on the beach 7:00 Monday evening. It’s a shorts mandatory wedding, which should be fun. We’re sharing a small house with another couple and there are supposed to be 30-40 people in total making the trip. Jackie’s circle of friends has more than its share of characters in it, so there promise to be many stories to share upon our return. I have no idea if I’ll have any Internet access while on the island, so this may be it until next Friday. Stay warm while I’m away!

A Couple Big 12 Notes

I tend to automatically subtract a week from all estimates of time injured players will miss. Schools tend to be conservative with estimates, and kids heal fast. Still, I was surprised Wayne Simien played 37 minutes last night. Probably more just it was Wayne and he has a history, more than anything else, and I assumed they would be exceptionally cautious with him.

Want to slow down Curtis Stinson? Put a bigger guard on him. It’s now worked twice this year.

There are a lot of reasons why all the NBA talk regarding JR Giddens is ridiculous. The fact he has no idea how to pass is probably the biggest one. If he panics being guarded by college players and continually throws the ball either to no one or to the other team, how is he going to handle being guarded by NBA players who are bigger, stronger, and faster than him (and smarter, too)? I’m glad Bill Self heard me yelling for him to sit JR’s ass down after his second straight airpass last night.

What a huge win for Texas A&M, not only for their program, but for the rest of the conference. I’ve thought Texas was a little overrated, and yes I know it was a rivalry game, but I did not expect them to get blown out in College Station last night (They were down by 20 at one point). At least in the short term, it’s now a two team race for the title.

You know what team intrigues me the most? Missouri. I expected them to be better than most people thought this year, primarily because I think Quin Snyder has better results with young teams than with teams full of upper classmen. But that’s a whole other post. The horrible start to the season, though, made me rethink things and wonder if they wouldn’t struggle to stay in the top six this year. They’ve really turned things around since the Illinois game, though. I saw a few minutes of their game in Stillwater Tuesday and was impressed with their poise and ability to score against a tough defensive team. I really like what I’ve seen of Marshall Brown (Great name, by the way. He should be playing at UTEP or someplace where they would turn him into an Old West gunslinger for marketing purposes). The key to the team, though, is Linas Kleiza. He might be the most difficult player in the league to guard. He’s a beast down low. He can light it up from outside. And he’s not just mobile, he’s incredibly fast for someone his size. He’s by no means unstoppable yet, but he is such a tough match-up that he’s going to open things up a lot for the rest of the team. I have visions of him drawing four defenders then making the pass at just the right time to a wide open Thomas Gardner or Jimmy McKinney. Quin has an outstanding young core of players, which should help him weather the recruiting restrictions he’s operating under this year. Like most young teams, they have a tendency to play to the level of their competition, which makes getting into the tournament a rather tall task. But given what Mizzou fans have gone through over the last year, at least there’s some serious hope for the future.

 

Your Baby Blog Update

What, no updates on the developments and tricks of M. in almost a month? I’ve got some serious catching up to do! Here goes.

Right before Christmas, she discovered the volume button on her voice. It was fun to listen to her yell at various volumes around the house just because she could. A little more embarrassing when she continually shrieked with glee at the people behind us at Christmas Eve Mass. At least they had kids too and understood. And they were instigating her by smiling anyway. Don’t they know you never smile at a happy baby?

One of M.’s favorite games is Hide and Seek with her mom. I hold her and S. hides, then pops out and says, “Boo!” After about three times M. is laughing hysterically.

I’ve lost track of how many laughs she has now. There’s a snort, a honk, a giggle, a gasp, and even a wry “I know you’re doing that just to make me laugh” laugh.

The whole grip ‘n grab thing has been perfected over the past month. If she sees something she wants, she gets it. This includes the newspaper or magazine you might be reading, the coffee canister as you fill the pot, or anything else that draws her interest. Sunday, while laying on her back, she reached back and above her head, found her binky laying there, and popped it into her mouth. All without actually seeing it. Pretty impressive! She also likes to grab handfuls of her mom’s hair, which isn’t a game of mutual joy.

If propped up against a cushion or her Boppy, she can sit up for 30-40 minutes at a time, watching the world around her and playing with any toys within reach.

Until the last three nights, she had been sleeping 7-9 hours straight each night. She might wake up once briefly, but putting her binky back into her mouth sent her right back to dreamland. She also wakes up slowly, most mornings. You can hear her getting her bearings, making progressively more noise, and eventually entertaining herself. When we go into her room to get her, her head pops up and she greets us with a big grin. Like her dad, if you give her some time to wake up, she’s cool. We have had three straight nights with wake-ups, though, so there could be some teeth in her near future.

The bathtub is one of her favorite spots. She laughs, coos, splashes, and chews on her rubber ducky while we wash her. At the end of the bath, we sit her up and let her splash for a few minutes. If you don’t want her carefully, she’ll lunge at the duck if it floats away and end up face first in the water. She always laughs when she does this, so I guess the kid is going to be a swimmer.

She’s developed her own little language. There are times, some when she’s interacting with someone else, some when she’s all alone, that she makes noises that definitely sound like someone who’s imitating speech patterns. It’s sweet as hell and impressive at the same time.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that she was able to roll from belly to back at a ridiculously early age (Six weeks) then mysteriously stopped doing it four weeks later. She still won’t roll over unless she’s pissed off about something, but when you stick her on her belly, she spazzes out and looks like she’s ready to swim 100 meters. I think this kid is going to skip rolling over and go straight to crawling.

In the realm of Watching Basketball With Daddy, she now gets a look of shock when I yell and looks at S. to see what’s going on. As long as S. claps and smiles at her, she’ll relax and giggle. When Michael Lee hit his three pointer against Kentucky Sunday, and daddy lost his mind, she just stared and grinned at me.

That’s kind of generic and bullet-point, but it should give you an idea of how she’s doing. She’s still super happy most of the time, which makes parenting easy. Also worth noting, for you baby poop fans, that she pooped on the couch while I was typing this. My cell phone rings, I see it says “Home” on the caller ID, so I just go straight to the basement without answering. S. was trying to hold M. in one hand, her dirty diaper in the other, and keep both from getting any more you-know-what smeared on the couch. M. just had a big smile no her face and laughed when she saw me. Silly kid.

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