I just got done watching season three of True Detective on HBO, and I have to say it was a big disappointment. I thought the writing and the direction were pretty weak. Direction because a guy like Mahershala Ali, who just won his second Oscar comes off like a third rate community theater actor trying to act like an old man (the make-up however was first rate), not very convincing to me, and if it was to the director, then he should look for another job.

Stephen Dorff as Detective Roland West, on the other hand was great. He pulled off the old cynical depressed alcoholic with great charm. I guess it’s harder to act like a doddering old man on the brink of full-blown Alzheimer’s than just an angry old fool. I even liked the scene where he goes into a biker bar looking to get his ass kicked, his dialogue was so sharp (the woolly mammoth you’re fucking) that he had to be ad-libbing, because the writers were so lazy they stole actual dialogue from other movies.

In the final episode’s last scene Carmen Ejogo, Mareshala Ali’s love interest in the series walks into the VFW post bar where his Detective Wayne Hays character is drinking his depression away and approaches him. When he asks her without looking up what war she fought in (you’re not supposed to be in a VFW bar unless you qualify as a veteran of war) she retorts:

“I don’t let people talk to me that way, few women and no men at all…”

I sat up straight when I heard that, it’s a rip off of a line from Charley Varrick.

Charley Varrick is a Don Siegel crime thriller from 1973 if you don’t know it, and it happens to be one of my favorite movies. I’ve seen it many times, first when it was released in theaters and then on TV whenever I came across it on late night re-runs. Sometimes I would catch the whole movie and sometimes somewhere in the middle, but I always watch to the end.

The main adversaries are Walter Matthau, a bank robber and stunt pilot, and Joe Don Baker, and enforcer for some kind of Southwestern Crime syndicate. I’m not going to relate the whole movie, but if you like crime movies like me, it’s a must see- especially the last scene where Charley shows why he is “The last of the independents.”

Here’s Molly!

Early on Baker’s character, a hit man called “Molly,” is asked to repossess a car from a black man. It’s a brand new Cadillac the man has defaulted on. It’s to be his transportation during his pursuit of the bank robber Varrick, who has inadvertently stolen $765,118 of the mob’s money from some tiny bank in New Mexico.

As he walks up to the car key in hand, the unnamed debtor reaches for Molly’s arm and says,

“You pink punk ass you…” And Molly quickly swings around and punches the guy in the face, knocking him down. As he continues to the car, unlocking it, he says, “There are few men that speak to me in that tone, few Caucasians, and no Negros at all…”

Now if that’s not a practically verbatim rip-off of dialogue, I don’t know what is. Maybe the writer loves the John Reese novel, since I’ve never read it I don’t know if that bit of dialogue is in it. Most likely the screenwriter (Howard Rodman) put that in. But it’s a great line, the whole script crackles with great lines.

So here I add T.S. Elliot’s take on plagiarism:

One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

To me it’s most certainly defacement.

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I was in Whole Foods yesterday picking up stuff for the holiday and looked for my mandatory supply of green unripe avocados. Nothing todo with Thanksgiving, but avocados are a staple in our home and I buy them every time I visit Whole Foods, Fairway, or Trader Joes. There’s a Mexican grocery on Broadway that I will buy from if they are unripe.

Through years of experience I know that in order to get a good avocado you have to buy it green and let it ripen at home. This takes a little bit of forethought and planning, but the results are worth it. Getting an already ripe avocado means you run the risk of opening a fruit full of black spoiled spots. These are bruises, caused by food workers in the stores that don’t give a shit and dump the avocados into bins like a sack of rocks. Then come the customers, who think they can determine the softness of an avocado by squeezing it. I have news for you- the best test to see if an avocado is ripe is the color. If it’s black or dark reddish, it’s ripe. If it’s bright green, it’s hard and unripe- not ready to eat.

But people stand there and squeeze them and bruise them and then toss them back into the bin, like a rock further damaging them for the next unsuspecting person. Those people should be beaten with a hard avocado in a sock. Or better yet, a rock.

Another good test is to press on the little nib where it was cut off from the vine. If it comes off easily, the avocado is ripe and ready to eat. If it takes work to flick it off or doesn’t come off at all, the avocado is not ready to eat.

A good detail of the nib:

If the avocado is mushy or dented, it’s ready for the compost heap. Or the trash, depending on your sustainability quotient.

Now that we got that out of the way, my pet peeves, ignorant shoppers and uncaring food workers, I’ll get to the meat of the matter.

I looked at the bins where Whole Foods usually keeps their avocados, and there were mangoes or something else there instead. I searched the entire produce section and no avocados at all, not even the small ones they sell bagged up. I was desperate enough to get one of those, but those weren’t present either. I finally asked one of the workers, and he said, “There’s a protest in Mexico.”

            “So no avocados?” I asked.

            “Nope.” Answered the young produce worker.

When I got home I turned on my computer and typed in“avocado protest in Mexico.” And there it was. Growers in the state of Michoacán were setting up roadblocks to prevent avocados from leaving. It was about money and other states trying to pass off their avocados as Michoacán- grown.Apparently the ones from Michoacán are the best Hass avocados in the world.

I texted my wife Danusia and said if she saw any avocados anywhere to snap them up, as we were down to half a large avocado.

She later told me there were none to be found anywhere, and I braced myself for avocado-less salads for the duration.

Today I went to Fairway for our fresh young turkey (less expensive then Whole Foods) and went straight to the avocado bin, and, there were avocados! Joy! Thank you lord! Saved!

I even sent this text to my wife:

So it seems the avocado crisis is averted, at least for now-of course prices will be higher but the alternative is to do without avocados entirely. So I will pay.

I went to my local store this afternoon, a Finefare on Broadway and 161st Street. They had Florida avocados for 99¢, but the Mexican avocados were $3.49 each. Last time I was at this store they were$2 each. But I think the farmers in Michoacán deserve to get a fair price for their crop, so I’ll pay it and like it.

And I breathe a sigh of relief the avocado crisis is over.

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I saw Twyla Tharp today for the second time ever and it was wonderful. The first time was in 1973, and I believe it was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. My live-in girlfriend at the time was in the theater program at Pratt Institute and got student tickets to a lot of things, but the thing I found interesting, at least more interesting than seeing Oklahoma! At the Met was going to see Twyla Tharp. That I’d even heard of her is a testament to her talent and popularity, or maybe it was just the haircut. She certainly was an interesting looking woman, even in 1973. I said hell yes, I’ll go with you.

What we saw that night was Deuce Coupe- a piece Twyla had choreographed to the music of the Beach Boys. I knew nothing of modern dance then and know precious little now but I have to say I was blown away then and blown away today.

My wife Danusia is a big Pina Bausch fan and I’ve gone with her to see two Pina Bausch performances, both at BAM by the way, and though beautiful and entertaining, quite amazing in its own way- they didn’t blow me away the way Twyla Tharp does.

I saw the ad in the paper a couple of months ago, and I’ve always wanted to see Twyla Tharp dance again. I figured she’s pretty old now but I was sure she must still be in great shape. I told Danusia and she said yes, we should go and got tickets.

And last week she realized she was going to Maine to do aSoundBites performance today. Bummer. I tired to sell the ticket, actually I would have given it away, but my Facebook invitation to an extra ticket got no takers.Then there was the question of where were the tickets.

“You have to pick them up at the box office, under Will Call.” That got my anxiety going. Will they believe I was Danusia’s husband? Would they believe I was Danusia? Ask for I.D.? I already had an inkling of a notion to sell the extra ticket to a complete stranger.

The woman at the box office gave me no problem. I spelt the name right, and when she asked me to sign I scribbled something illegible and got the tickets. I glanced outside to see if anyone was asking “tickets? Extra tickets?” Like at a rock concert, but there was no one. I figured I could at least put my coat on the empty seat, reserve it for Danusia’s spirit.

The show started on time, surprisingly. Twyla came out all dressed in white to wild applause. Well at least I applauded wildly.

She started talking about this new project, Minimalism and me. The first part of the show was Twyla standing at a lectern while explaining early works performed by her wonderful dancers. They are Matthew Dibble, Ron Todorowski, Reed Takersley, Kara Chan, Kellie Drobnick, and Mary Beth Hansohn. I didn’t remember all that, I’d be a terrible reporter; I copied that from my program. But they were all such wonderful dancers I would be seriously in not mentioning them.

Twyla talked about the first piece, Tank Drive as a female dancer came out and held a position for the whole three minutes plus of Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”

A woman who can mix a tank drive with the song Downtown is surely someone special, a person in sync with the ultimate in hip sophistication.

Which is why I was blown away in 1973 when I watched her and her company perform ballet top the music of the beach Boys.

Mistakenly I thought I had seen Eight Jelly Rolls when I saw that show, I almost said to the young woman sitting next to me “I saw this in 1973.” But then I realized Jelly Roll Morton ain’t the Beach Boys.

After the first part of the show, which was basically a primer on Twyla Tarp’s repertoire and early career, she did not dance. But she was very smart and clever, and I laughed a lot. The dancing was superb, involving a group of extras mixed in with the company of six to replicate some past glories.

As she announced the intermission she said they’d be back with the Eight Jelly Rolls and a special surprise from “now.”

The Eight Jelly Rolls were wonderful, I mean I’ve always loved and appreciated Bob Fosse, the extent of what I know a choreographer to be but the moves I saw today were nothing short of breathtaking.

So when Twyla came out for the last piece, the “from now,” I did almost lose my breath.

I certainly had to fight back tears as Twyla demonstrated that at the age of 77 she can still bust a move. When it was done I shot out of my seat- there had to be a standing ovation for this genius and if it was only going to me so be it. But just about everyone stood, and the applause lasted a good five minutes.

As I left the Joyce Theater after sitting in the second row center for a performance that brought tears to my eyes I knew I was going to have to write about it. Thanks for getting me to write again, Twyla. And for being such a talented human being.

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aluminum bar

I awoke this morning to the sound of raindrops pattering on the bedroom air conditioner. The patter was punctuated by distant rumbles of thunder. The bedroom was still pretty dark at almost 8, which is why I hadn’t woken up yet.
I’m usually up at dawn, as soon as the first light hits the bedroom windows. So I was given an extra hour or two by the rain. Since I had nothing to do this morning, it was OK.
I love the sound of the rain on the AC; it’s really soothing. But some people hate it. It drives them nuts.
Sometimes I get calls about it, and I go and glue a thick piece of foam rubber on top of the AC to dampen the noise.
One client called about that- but it wasn’t the rain, it was a recalcitrant AC two floors above her that let a constant drop-drop-drop fall on her AC, and I have to say it was pretty annoying. It was so loud a drip I needed to double up on the foam pad.
When I worked as a handyman on the Upper West Side my cheap boss used to use cut up pieces of discarded carpeting for the same thing, we’d cut out holes for the ventilation vanes and then use silicone to secure the carpet remnant to the top of the AC. Of course the carpet in time unraveled and worse smelled like wet carpeting, so if you want to dampen the sound I recommend the foam rubber pads.
I don’t use the pads; both my wife Danusia and I like the sound of the rain. And we live on the top floor so we don’t have any other ACs dripping on ours.
I do however use an aluminum L bar to hold the AC in the window, I take off the bracket that’s screwed on top of the AC and replace it with the L bracket cut to the width of the window. Guaranteed to keep your AC from falling out the window.
Then I use Plexi glass cut to size to fill in the open areas and silicone them in. Watertight, and more importantly airtight, and cuts down on outside noise considerably.

I’ve seen people use cardboard, even shoeboxes. There’s someone across the courtyard from us with an old K-Swiss shoebox keeping out the world. The of course there’s the shitty plastic accordions that come with your new AC, neither water nor sound proof. You get quite a draft through them in the winter if you are the type of person that leaves the AC in the window year round.


This thing is like a sieve.

I do that with my living room AC, it’s too big to store during the winter. But with my double thick Plexi we’re as warm as toast.

steel pot
To the people who can’t stand the sound of rain patter on your AC, you’re lucky you never heard rain patter on the top of a steel army helmet. I have, when I was in the army, and it almost drove me nuts. But having wet hair is even worse so I put up with it.
I have no idea how it sounds on the new Kevlar helmets; those were just being tested when I got out in 1981. Probably a little softer, but I’m sure it’s still annoying.
Anyway, if you can’t stand the sound, go to the local hardware store and get the padding. Or you can call me; I can always use the work.
I hear it’s going to be hot next week.


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I rarely buy bread nowadays, not that I’m gluten-free by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just that at my age I’ve only to look at a piece of bread for it to add an inch or two to my waistline.
My wife Danusia loves bread too, and we favor dark bread, preferably whole wheat or something rustic. White bread, aside from having almost no taste at all has the texture of cotton balls.
Last week Danusia went to Fairway to do a little grocery shopping, and she lamented that at Fairway you can only buy whole loaves of bread, instead of a half or even a quarter loaf as you can at Whole Foods, which sells their bread by the pound.
So that was the thought that popped into my head today as I wandered the aisles of the Columbus Circle Whole Foods at 59th Street.
I was thinking about lunch, and lunch was going to involve my famous refried beans on tortillas and my own version of a harvest bowl when Danusia’s words intruded, and suddenly a chant popped into my head.
“Gotta get some wheat bread, gotta get some wheat bread.”
I felt like Ickey Woods in the Gieco commercial chanting about his cold cuts, but mercifully the chant did not reach my lips. I headed over to the bread aisle.
I found the bread I liked, a whole-wheat batard. I have no idea what a batard is, but it sounds French so it was pretentious enough for me. Besides, it’s only $4 a pound and I got half of a half loaf, enough to enjoy a few slices of bread without gaining five pounds. The nice woman behind the counter sliced it for me.
I went to pay, and when my number came up I went to register 23 where a young woman in her Whole Foods apron didn’t bother to look at me when I gave her a cheery hello. She just started ringing up my groceries.
As I transferred my items from my cart to the counter, all the while wondering why she hadn’t acknowledged my cheery hello without even the slightest of smiles I realized to my dismay that the price sticker the bread lady had put on my bread had stuck partway onto the plastic bag containing my lettuce.
I frantically tried peeling it off and succeeded only in ripping a bit of it off, the bit that said $3.30 on it. I started to panic, ready to show the offending piece to the scowling young woman, so she could note the proper price.

Bread 2
Then I remembered the bar code! That marvel of modern commerce, the UPC code. She would scan the code and it would be added to my bill. No worries.
I checked the bar code and it was flat and intact.
But when she tried to scan it, nothing happened. She swiped again with the same result. She put the bread aside, a look of further annoyance clouding her face.
She scanned everything else and then tried the bread again. Nothing. I was about to tell her about the piece that said $3.30 stuck to the lettuce bag when she angrily threw the bread into the shopping bag and pressed done on her register.
I handed her a fifty and waited for my change, and wondered if the bread had registered or not. My eyesight is bad enough I couldn’t read her screen.
She handed me my receipt, and I gave her a big smile and said, “thank you!”
The angry young woman did not return my smile or say you’re welcome; her eyes didn’t even meet mine. I hoped she could at least see my smile somewhere in her field of vision.
As I went up the escalator to street level I looked at my receipt. The bread wasn’t on there.
Who knows what happened to her this morning, maybe her boss yelled at her, her boyfriend ran away, her best friend wasn’t talking to her. It could have been the customer before me.
But it wasn’t me.
In the past I might have wondered if it was something I did or said, but I know I did my part and I didn’t get all bent out of shape about the way she behaved.
I hope she’s OK and has a better day tomorrow, and thanks for the free loaf of bread, by the way.

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I like shopping at Whole Foods. It’s clean; they have a good variety of stuff that’s unheard of at the local Key Food or C-Town. I’ve been shopping there since the first store opened in Union Square in 2001.
I know people like to call it whole paycheck- it is expensive. But then again so is Key Food and C-Town, especially in the poorer neighborhoods like Hamilton Heights, where I live now. I compared the price of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oatmeal and it was actually a dollar more at the C-Town down the block than at Whole foods. The produce is just as expensive and it’s in pretty bad shape in my local store, so I’d rather go to Whole Foods, Fairway, or Trader Joe’s and carry my groceries on the bus or subway.
A note about Trader Joe’s prepackaged produce- it wilts fast so you’d better eat it right away. But at least Trader Joe’s packages their pre-packed mushrooms in cardboard rather than plastic like Whole Foods or Fairway. The mushrooms turn to mush if you leave them in the plastic for a day or two. I put them in paper bags when I get home and they’ll last a week.

Since Amazon bought Whole Foods it’s been a question of streamlining. All stores have been eliminating space, consolidating product, and eliminating products. I don’t know the rationale behind it, but last week they were installing new bins in the bulk products. They eliminated about 25% of the available bin space.
So one of my favorite things, a breakfast staple for me for many years is gone.
It was something called Chia Ginger Superfood crunch, a cereal.

ginger crunch

I mix it with steel cut oat groats and almonds and that’s my breakfast. Gives the cereal a little sweetness and makes it less bland. And now all I have left is an ounce or two in an old-fashioned cookie tin that I kept it in.
I did manage to find it online from a place called, for $16 a pound plus shipping. I thought the Whole Foods price of $11.99 a pound was outrageous but I liked it so I paid it. But I think I’m just going to give it up- not worth the price and bother to order it from
When Whole Foods first opened their Bowery store they had in-house made hummus. It was awesome. Further, they had the in-house Harissa hummus, even more awesome. They stopped making that about ten years ago and came out with smoother, slicker prepackaged Whole Foods hummus. And it don’t come in Harissa.


They have it in Jalapeño; it’s not bad, but it’s not Harissa.
Fairway used to sell the Sonny and Joe’s Supremely spicy hummus, then I think Sabra’s (which is more expensive) had something to say about it and they eliminated it. The Sonny and Joe’s was the closest thing to the Whole Foods Harissa humus so I wasn’t happy. There went another favorite thing.
Sonny and Joe’s do make the occasional appearance at select Fairway stores, and sometimes Gourmet Garage. A place I only go to in cases of extreme emergency.
I think what I miss the most that Whole Foods used to carry is the Little Lad’s herbal popcorn. It was great- not as much salt but still tasty, unlike plain popcorn.
I’m the guy who wishes they had 50% MORE salt than 50%less salt popcorn. But I’m blessed with the blood pressure of a nineteen-year old, according to a nurse friend of mine.

The closest thing to Little Lad’s is the Fairway popcorn, available in both salted and unsalted versions, though the salted popcorn sometimes is unsalted. My wife Danusia thinks they crew that puts the labels on or adds the salt must be smoking a lot of weed it’s so erratic.

fairway popcorn

I also found Little Lad’s online, for $9.99 for a 10 ounce bag plus $12.95 shipping. Of course that’s from eBay, another rip-off website.
Lastly, and toilet paper doesn’t count as a favorite thing, just a necessary thing- but something to expose Amazon about.
I used to trek across the Macomb’s dam bridge to Target to get toilet paper, $16 or so dollars for a 24- pack. But the last time I went it was $24 for a 24 pack. I read somewhere that it was cheaper to order toilet online, so I checked Amazon. A few months ago that was true, but when I decided to do it two weeks ago it seems that like it or not, Scott toilet tissue is a dollar plus per roll anyway you slice it. Unless, of course, and this is the new Amazon gimmick- you buy a subscription. Sign up now! Save money while we automatically send you a case of TP every month for as long as you live and automatically charge your credit card!
So I got the next cheapest thing- the Scott tube-free paper. To be tube free it has to be a little thicker, so I discovered a roll lasts about a day in our home. That’s the last time I buy that.
I think I’m going to look into artisan toilet paper making. I have done my own Harissa hummus, but it’s a pain in the ass.

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changing rooms


Exactly four years ago this month I was suspended from the job I’d held for seventeen years. It was actually three different jobs, porter, doorman, handyman then doorman again but all at the same place, 144 West 86th Street, in a building managed by the Rudin Management Company. I might have kept the job if I’d fought a little harder, there was a union involved, but I knew the guy I worked for, the guy that recommended to the management that I be fired had a personal grudge and wasn’t going to quit till he got rid of me so I decided to cut my losses and move on.
Not an easy decision- familiarity no matter how uncomfortable is hard to let go, fear of the unknown leads to many an unhappy life. What’s the saying? Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.
But how do you know the new devil won’t be a devil at all? Like they say in poker, you have to pay to see the cards.

144 2

So I paid, I took a walk. I wondered what would come next.
The first year wasn’t bad, I’d socked away enough Christmas money and savings I was pretty comfortable, plus I got six months of unemployment. And with what I had learned working in the building I started doing odd jobs for people. The rent was paid and I ate. I had to stop spending money on clothing I didn’t need anyway, and ate out less. We didn’t go on vacation that year.
The following year I did get a job of sorts- at a place I’ll call the doorknob factory. It was a high-end architectural hardware manufacturer, but in the end what they did was make doorknobs. Very expensive doorknobs, but a doorknob is a doorknob.
Just about all the other employees had engineering degrees; they were all young jock hipsters with the de rigueur three-day’s growth of beard and an apartment in Bushwick. I was hired on as a freelancer and paid less than half of what they got and lasted ten months before the bosses decided I didn’t quite fit in and let me go. When they hired me I had to sign some kind of non-disclosure agreement about writing about them, but that only meant as long as I worked for them. Besides, I’m not naming any names.
I imagine it was to protect the hoity-toity clients that can afford a three-hundred dollar doorknob but the only client of any note was a Lower East Side slumlord that went to jail for being a slumlord extraordinaire.


The view from the doorknob factory.

So since then, they let me go in September of 2016, I’ve been on my own. I applied for and got my meager pension from 32 BJ- less than $500 a month and that went directly for our ever-increasing rent. I did more and more odd jobs, and dug deeper and deeper into my savings the weeks the phone didn’t ring.
Besides painting people’s apartments for cheap I fixed toilets, repaired a vandalized metal sculpture for a friend, built a giant birdcage for another friend and yes, replaced doorknobs. Though what I did at the doorknob factory was more in the way of production than installation.

snow repair

The vandalized sculpture by Sal Romano.

I survived, but there were times when I spent most of my day binge watching TV shows (watched The Sopranos in its entirety again) and scrolling Facebook.
I did spend a lot of time in our community garden this summer, that was something positive, but thanks to my lovely wife Danusia I knew I needed something more permanent, more structure. So I started actively looking for work.


The giant birdcage.

A friend told me about Ziprecruiter, a job listing website. There were other websites, but Ziprecruiter was the only one that yielded any interviews. I interviewed for a handyman job at the new Fresh Direct distribution warehouse in the south Bronx. I interviewed for the same at a white glove maintenance company on the upper west side, and I thought I aced both interviews, but neither called back.
Someone who emailed back about a personal assistant job and said they were out of the country but were sending me a check with my “sign on bonus” almost scammed me. Yeah, right, here’s my routing number. Of course I reported it to Ziprecruiter.
I interviewed for a job as a house painter at same fancy hotel in midtown two weeks ago and I thought the interview went terrible. The first thing the guy asked was why I’d left the job at Rudin. Then he asked me to identify what kind of paint was on the door of the room we were in. All I could really tell him was what the finish was.
So I was surprised as hell when I got a phone call the next day from the very nice HR woman at the hotel telling me they wanted to hire me and was I willing to take a drug test.
Well, I’ve been waiting eighteen years for someone to ask me to take a drug test so I jumped at the chance.
She called last Monday to say I’d passed the test and I went on Wednesday to fill out all my paperwork for my new job. I’m starting tomorrow, so today’s my last day of freedom. I decided to write this post because one of the things that had gone by the wayside was the maintaining of this blog. I wrote a lot more when I had less time than when I had all the time in the world. Something about having nothing to do kind of drains me.
But if you are of a certain age and looking for work, don’t despair. If you are willing you will find work. If a guy like me, who just turned sixty-three last summer can get a new job, so can you. All it takes is some willingness.

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