Recommended Read: How to Beat FOMA (Fear of Missing Alcohol)

Recommended Read: Ruby Warrington's How to Beat FOMA (Fear of Missing Alcohol)
Photo by Moss.

As soon as I saw the term FOMA (Fear of Missing Alcohol) in the headline for this Refinery 19 article by Ruby Warrington, I knew I needed to check it out.

I have been aware for some time that when I'm in a situation where alcohol is plentiful - especially if it's free - it's really hard for me to pass up on it, even if my original intention was to lay off, and I have had trouble pinpointing the reason.

I have, after all, often gone to parties, abstained from drinking, and had a great time (my entire youth consisted of doing this). I used to really enjoy doing a "No Fun November" where I avoided drinking, and sometimes sugar, for the whole month. I would come home, clear-headed, buzzing from the fun of hanging out with my friends, knowing that I wouldn't be groggy or hung over the next day, full of joy.

(Oh dear, I essentially just wrote that I was "high on life", didn't I? Sorry. But also, it's true.)

These days, as soon as the person next to me orders a drink or sidles up to the bar cart, I unthinkingly do the same. It's a default conformity that I have to really consciously push against if I don't want to do it.

I have never quite been able to pinpoint the feeling I have in these situations. Sure "fitting in" might be a part of it, but what I feel in the moment isn't any sense of peer pressure or desire to conform. Thanks to Ruby Warrington's reframing, I now recognize the feeling: it is FOMO, but for alcohol. It's FOMA.

(When it comes to the free alcohol, it's also FOMD, Fear of Missing Deals, which brings my Mennonite thriftiness into an awkward interplay with the consumption of a traditionally-avoided substance.)

Her main point is to exercise some mindfulness around our FOMA and kneejerk desire to drink. Are we trying to fit in? Relax? Have "fun"? Ease a socially awkward situation? Find some courage? Celebrate? Recapture a gloriously fun past experience? Take the edge off a rough day? Forget life for a while?

What, exactly, do we think we are going to miss out on by missing out on alcohol?

Then, for the truly curious, we get to explore what happens when we slow down that decision-making process from an instant, "I'll have one, too!" to an actual conscious choice.

Warrington's article is an excerpt from her book about going completely sober, so her overall perspective is clearly about abstaining altogether. If that's a good idea for you, go for it. Otherwise, I think it's useful enough to approach our lives knowing why we are making the choices we make, experiencing alternatives, and not being too regimented about things.

If you want to drink as a part of your celebration, why the heck shouldn't you? It can be really dang fun. Just like it can be really dang fun to go to a party and come home completely sober.

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Inspiration! Roundup: Drawing Illnesses, Plates You Could Eat Off, Defining Problems, and More!

A roundup of inspirational things including art by Kazuhito Takadoi, Betsy Walton, and quotes by Seth Godin
This Week's "I want to go to there": Just some casual hangs with some normal pals.
Photo by Jimmy Fermin.

Drawing Illness

I love love love it when I hear about someone stepping outside of established practice and trying some new perspective. A study recently asked patients to draw their illnesses, giving doctors new insight into how they see their disease. What a brilliant idea! Not only could it be a useful one to understand our own perspectives on our own problems (draw your loneliness), but also to understand a loved one's experience.

Eat Off This

I would love a life filled with dishes like the ones created by Becca Jane Koehler.

Defining Problems

According to Seth Godin, "If there is no solution, then it’s not a problem. It’s a regrettable situation. It’s a boundary condition. It’s something you’ll need to live with."

I am pondering this definition and its implications, and I do appreciate it so.

Sweet Grass

Kazuhito Takadoi makes some pretty incredible scultptural art out of dried grass and washi paper.


Robyn Price Pierre's new book Fathers is a simple series of photos of black fathers being caring and involved in their children's lives. From a couch cuddle to a ziplining adventure, the range is pretty wide in the types of situations included. The goal of the book is to provide tangible and heart-warming examples of black men as fathers who a there, as a counter to the overall narrative in our society of absent black fathers.

There has been criticism of the book for simply trying to replace one myth with another: of the ever-present, loving father of young children. Honestly, even if it's true that even the best dads screw up sometimes, I am here for a counter-narrative of constant presence and love.

Betsy Walton

Betsy Walton's work really caught my fancy.

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Don't Ask Why Before You Ask If

 Don't ask why before you ask if about any social issue
Photo by Ken Treloar.

A friend of mine posted this Quora Q&A on Facebook, and I was quite taken with it.

The question: How did society shift so abruptly to a politically correct culture? Everyone was saying whatever they wanted and no one would bat an eye, but now everything's a micro-aggression?

The answer comes from a man named Peter Kruger, who starts by referencing a saying, "don't ask why before you ask if."

I've never heard this saying before, and a quick google search brings up only one other hit: another social justice-related Quora conversation. So I don't know where it started, but I think it should pick up and spread like wildfire.

Don't ask why before you ask if.

Every time we ask ourselves, as we humans are wont to do, why society is like this, why all people are like that, why some particular group of people does this, let that be a cue to first toss out that why and insert an IF! Then we can ask ourselves IF society really is like this, IF all people really are like that, and IF some particular group of people really do this.

Then, of course, we've got to give that "if" a chance. We are asking 'why' because we have seen or experienced something that bothers us, it could be easy to immediately say that YES, yes, our statement is, indeed true. After all, we wouldn't be asking why everyone gets offended so easily if we didn't see everyone getting offended so easily.

To really give our if a chance, we've got to grab that old devil's advocate hat (a hat so beloved by so many): what are the assumptions embedded in our question? Is there counter-evidence? Could we be misreading the situation? What would someone who disagrees with us say? Are there people who will have different experiences?

For the example of the Quora question, the assumptions are that society has shifted, that everyone used to be able to say whatever they wanted, that nobody would bat an eye when things were said, and that now everything is a microaggression.

The response agrees that society has shifted and disagrees that everyone used to say whatever they wanted and that nobody batted an eye.

That's where it gets interesting.

So wherever it came from, let's all try to ask if before we ask why. (Or, more realistically, to ask why, be bothered by it, then remember we are supposed to ask if first, try to reconsider, struggle to do so, and then maybe get better at seeing different perspectives.)

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Cute! Roundup: You Won't Believe Where This Kitty Fits & Sits, a Monkey Gets a Warm Welcome, and More!

I was trying to do one of those cute, styled shoots that all the fancy Instagrammers do with my book... The main reason it didn't work is that I'm not very good at it, but let's just say it was Gertie's fault.

A roundup of cute things, including a drawing of an inari fox, a cat in a wine glass, a baby lion, and more!


This inari fox isn't real, but it's dang cute!

Sometimes "if I fits, I sits" leads to some wildly confusing scenarios.

Little baby lion coming through! (Maybe it's going to be a mighty king?)

The warmest welcome home for this lil' monkey!

A woman in a park feeding squirrels from a marionette replica of herself.

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Singalong! Roundup: Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

If you ever want to get really aggressive with your partying, how about a song about people partying so hard their heads are rolling all over the dance floor?

by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Off with your head
Dance ’til you’re dead
Heads will roll
Heads will roll
Heads will roll
On the floor

Glitter on the wet streets
Silver over everything
The river's all wet
You’re all chrome

Dripping with alchemy
Shiver, stop shivering
The glitter’s all wet
You’re all chrome

The men cry out, the girls cry out
The men cry out, the girls cry out
The men cry out, oh no

The men cry out, the girls cry out
The men cry out, the girls cry out
The men cry out, oh no

Ohhh, ahhhh
Ohhh, ahhhh

Off, off with your head
Dance, dance ’til you’re dead
Heads will roll
Heads will roll
Heads will roll
On the floor

Looking glass
Take the past
Shut your eyes
Mirror lies
Looking glass
Take the past
Shut your eyes
Mirror lies

Glitter on the wet streets
Silver over everything
The glitter’s all wet
You’re all chrome
You’re all chrome

Ohhh, ahhhh
Ohhh, ahhhh

Off, off, off with your head
Dance, dance, dance ’til you’re dead
Off, off, off with your head
Dance, dance, dance ’til you’re dead
Off, off, off with your head
Dance, dance, dance ’til you’re dead
Off, off, off with your head
Dance, dance, dance ’til you’re dead

Off, off, off with your head
Dance, dance, dance ’til you’re dead
Off, off, off with your head
Dance, dance, dance ’til you’re dead

Photo by Rockland. CC.

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Learning! Roundup: #AllTheFeels, Bumble Bees Get Sleepy, Rapper Vocabularies, and More!

Photo by Jon Tyson.


If you're feeling #allthefeels, you'll do much better to give specific names to your emotions. Another round of research, this time a study looking at people in the wild, wild world of Twitter, confirms that labelling your feelings explicitly helps reduce their power over you.

Bumble Bees Are Sleepy Parents, Too

When bumble bees have to take care of babies, they also become sleep-deprived. For them, it's because they nap half as much as they normally would.

Crows Can Figure Everything Out

It's becoming more and more obvious that crows are eerily clever. New research shows that these little creatures can judge the weight of something by watching it sway (or stay still) in the wind.

Rapper Vocabularies

This is fun! Someone created an interactive chart that shows the vocabulary size of different rappers. You can even sort it to show only members of the Wu Tang Clan. The top vocabularies go to Aesop Rock and Busdriver - two rappers I have never heard of (but that's not really a surprise).

Hubble Gender Bias Solved

The Hubble Space Telescope used to have a big gender problem: women were rarely granted access to use it. Until now! All they had to do was make the request system anonymous, and thus gender blind, and then BAM! Gender equity.

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The Past Two Weeks in Church: Rhythms of Life, Finding Yourself, and Loving Others

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.

I think that church can teach things that are beneficial to everyone, whether or not we believe in church-related things.

(I forgot to write about the church stuff last week, so I'm just going to smash it all together.)

The past two weeks in church, we talked about a rhythm of life.

What is a rhythm of life? In this definition, it's an intentional arrangement of spiritual practices, attitudes, and relationships, put together in order to "regularly and routinely make [oneself] available to God's work of transformation in [one's] life." (Ruth Hailey Barton.

I love the concept of a rhythm of life as a spiritual (or, for that matter, non-spiritual) practice that could be accessible to anyone. What do you want to regularly and routinely make yourself available to? What attitudes, postures, or desires do you want your life to center around? What could you put into place in your life that would, like a trellis, guide you in that direction?

(This is related to a psychological term I hadn't heard of before: your "personal emotional program" which is your personal theory or practise of living and regulating yourself. How you see yourself and how you want to be seen. Apparently, this is talked about in the book The Incredible Gift of Being Yourself.)

The past two weeks in church, we talked about finding yourself.

What's the best way to find yourself? By intentionally going out and seeking it, or by seeking something else? Maybe something bigger/greater than you? This reminds me of the concept for creatives of not waiting for inspiration but starting to work and knowing that the inspiration will come.

Here's a fun fact: at one point in the Evangelical church's history in America, if you were going to join you had to sign a document saying that you were committing yourself to fight for the abolition of slavery. There was a direction, purpose, and outward-focused service to being an Evangelical Christian. Perhaps it was in that fight that some people found themselves. (And oh, yes. We should mourn for how things have changed.)

The past two weeks in church, we talked about loving other people.

It can be hard, right? Because loving other people involves other people.

Duke Kwon said, "It is impossible to love someone you disagree with when you secretly believe they need Jesus more than you." Replace Jesus with whatever fits your worldview (mercy or self-awareness, perhaps) and we are now implicated. Or at least, I know I am.

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No More BUTS!

Instead of saying but, say and!

When I was in university, my then-boyfriend's aunt told me that the word "but" was a tool of the patriarchy.

I didn't really understand that particular feminist notion at the time (to be honest, I am still not entirely on board). I have, however, come around to the idea that it's a great idea to avoid using that word as much as possible.

Here's the problem with "but": it often serves to completely devalue everything that came before it. It overwrites the first half of the sentence: "I know you are super stressed, but I need you to do this for me," or, "I know the planet is burning, but I like driving a beastly tow truck everywhere I go."

If your goal is to actually create a hierarchy and make it clear that some desires, priorities, needs, or opinions are more important than others, then by all means! But away! (This sounds judgey, but I don't mean it to be. Sometimes this kind of hierarchy is precisely what we want to communicate. Like when I say, "I used to hate avocados, but now I love them!" I am intentionally saying, "that past me who hated avocados was WRONG.")

There is, however, another way! A way where you can hold two ideas in tension and let them BOTH be valid! A way that invites dialogue about said tension! All you have to do is replace the "but" with "and"! POOF! Socratic tension achieved!

"I know you are stressed, and I need you to do this for me."

"I know the planet is burning, and I like driving a beastly tow truck everywhere I go."

Now it's like you are conversationally weighing two options, experiences, or priorities! One in each hand! Both are true! What should you do moving forward? Nobody knows! You get to TALK about it and have a world of possibilities and compromises open up, instead of steamrolling to get your way!

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Inspiration! Roundup: The Sweetest Sound, Cynics, Seeing Dick Run, and More!

A roundup of inspirational pictures, videos, and quotes, including the Armor Music Ministry and Robert Redford
This Week's "I want to go to there": The Moon!
(Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars, let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars...)
Photo by Guzman Barquin.

The Sweetest Sound

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook the other day and I have watched it MANY times since then. They sound INCREDIBLE. I was pretty heartbroken to discover that they don't have a Spotify profile.

“I have a very low regard for cynics. I think it's the beginning of dying.”
-Robert Redford

I wouldn't say I have a low regard for cynics, but it does make me pretty sad when someone gets to the point where they can't get excited about anything.

Rotating Faces

I am quite taken with Thomas Medicus' work that uses glass panes painted in a way that they show different faces on all four sides. Here's a video showing one-quarter rotation, but go see the rest of the faces.

See Dick Run

A woman named Claire goes for runs that will specifically look like dicks in her fitness-tracking app. Think whatever you will about someone drawing imaginary dicks everywhere she runs, let's all be inspired about the idea of making an everyday, and possibly torturous, activity a little more hilarious.

Octavi Serra

I love it when artists do little interventions in the public realm! The work of Octavi Serra is quite whimsical and fun, transforming public spaces into something a little more wild.

Succeeding Later in Life

I am always hungry for examples of people succeeding later in life. Take, for example, John Fenn, a scientist who, at the (by academic standards) dinosaur-age of 67 discovered/invented electrospray ionization - a breakthrough that changed his field. Read more about him and what factors lead to late-in-life success.

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How Much is Facebook Worth to You?

How much would you need to be paid to quit facebook?
Photo by Glen Carrie.

Here's an interesting question: how much would you need to get paid to quit Facebook for a year?

Researchers have found that college students demand an average of $2,000 to quit for a year, where non-students want half as much.

I am actually having a hard time answering this question. On one hand, we all know that Facebook is an evil corporation that monetizes our lives (TBH, I am not nearly as bothered as I should be that they make money off my comings and goings - I did hand them over, after all).

They fail constantly fail to protect our data or follow their own policies around security and privacy. More importantly (to me, again, although my priorities are probably mixed up), they host a platform that sucks up my time and attention, often making me feel more anxious, depressed, or just like I need to buy a million new "incredible" wares of Kickstarter.

So that's the bad part of Facebook.

Then there's the good: it's where almost all my friends are gathered. I actually like seeing the updates from their lives. I get a kick out of the funny things their kids say, their photos, and life events. I truly love scrolling through the wedding albums from acquaintances.

Also, it's a really easy place to make plans, have a group chat, get the hive mind to share its wisdom, host an event, or promote something (like, I don't know, a book you wrote).

Besides, I can (and do) hide people or ads that make me feel particularly unpleasant.

So how much money would it take for me to unplug?

Possibly, none. One day I might finally follow the path of so many others, decide that the trade isn't worth it, and unplug. Heck, it only took me about 10 years to decide to be a vegetarian once I became serious about the idea. Maybe 10 years of hemming and hawing before I become a non-Facebook user?

But if someone made a deal with me today, here's what I would take into account:

1) I would actually have to pay someone to do some Facebook things for me because I am using it to promote my book and connect with its audience, and that is real and important.

That means that, for me, there is an actual, hard cost to leaving. Let's say that costs me $400/month. Right there we have $4,800 for a year!

2) The soft cost of the extra time it would take me to keep up with people, make plans, and otherwise stay connected. I am going to estimate that it won't add too much extra time if you subtract the time spent scrolling through the newsfeed (although I don't think that happens too much on Facebook these days).

Still, let's say that it adds 4 hours/month and that my time is worth something more than $0. For now let's say $30/hour, which is $120/month or another $1,440 for the year.

So apparently, my grand total is $6,240.

I'm not going to lie, that is WAY HIGHER than I would have estimated off the top of my head.

What about you? How much is your Facebook account worth to you? Or maybe you would pay to get off it instead/

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Feeling Better: A Field Guide to Liking Yourself UNBOXING

I got my first author copy of my book, Feeling Better: A Field Guide to Liking Yourself in the mail! Obviously, I took an unboxing video for the 'gram.

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Cute! Roundup: A Baby is Tragically Denied a Burrito While a Bunny Goes for a Walk (and More!)

You can't see it, but this is what Gertie looks like when she has just caught some feathery toy-prey.

Also, she wanted to contribute to this blog post. She just walked across the keyboard and said, "jkumnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn"


This baby wants some BURRITO!

Just taking the bunny for a stroll.

This puppy and cat video tells a complex and deeply-layered story.

Now THIS is the 10-year challenge we've been waiting for.

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Learning! Roundup: We the Sheeple, Counting Bees, Ecological Tipping Points, Body Cams, and More!

A roundup of research from the past week, including the fact that people will pretty much do anything to conform, bees have four nerve cells and can count to exactly four, ecological tipping points, and body cam issues
Photo by Jørgen Håland

We the Sheeple

It turns out my high school punkish friends and I were right: we're all sheeple! A new study shows that adults will adopt almost any social norm, as long as they don't think they will meet someone who is hurt by it. We just want to be part of a group.


With only four nerve cells in their brains, bees are still capable of counting up to four. Maybe we are only capable of counting to the number of nerve cells we have?

Ecological Tipping Points

Unsurprisingly, there are elements to climate change that we haven't been taking seriously enough (and I'm not just talking about the fact that climate change exists and is a real threat that we need to do something about). One of those things is ecological tipping points and the interrelatedness of different ecological systems. Basically, we've got a domino effect looming that could be prettttty disastrous.

Helping Babies Feel Better

Many parents (and adults) will instinctively stroke a baby during a distressing, but necessary, event like a medical procedure. Well, now science has affirmed that this helps babies feel less pain. Hooray!

Fixing Photosynthesis

I am always super wary whenever people think we can improve mother nature. She is a perfect system! Except that, apparently, sometimes she's not? I don't know, there are always consequences to messing with nature, so we'll find out what the consequence is of this: there is apparently a flaw in photosynthesis where the enzyme that is supposed to grab CO2 sometimes grabs an oxygen molecule instead. If this is fixed, we could have lots more food.

Body Cams and Judgement

Here's a fun psychology thing: when people watch footage from body cams, they attribute less blame to the police officer than if they watch the same events on a dash cam. The effect may be thanks to the fact that we can't actually see the officer in the body cam footage, and so are less likely to attribute actions to then.

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Recommended Read: 8 Simple, Inexpensive Ways to Be a More Ethical Consumer in 2019

Recommended Read from Fast Company: 8 simple ways to be a more ethical consumer and how many times you need to reuse things before they are better
Photo by Guus Bagermans.

I don't know about you, but I just hate consumerism. Yet, since humans have to consume some things (like food), and our society is set up to drive us to consume as much as possible of everything else, I can't seem to help but be a part of the system.

If we're going to be a part of it, however, we can do it as ethically as possible! Who's with me?!!??!!!

Step one, of course, is resisting the urge and pressure to consume wherever possible by fixing old things instead of buying new ones or just not getting a new thing.

Step two is to try to do all the rest of our consuming in a way that doesn't kill both people and planet. Enter this Fast Company article on 8 simple, inexpensive ways to be a more ethical consumer in 2019.

They identify some of the main culprits in our lives (plastic soap bottles, paper towels, fast fashion, 2-day shipping, meat) and some easy, viable alternatives.

One thing they don't say, that I would like to point out, is that it feels really good to go out and do something like buying a bunch of glass pump bottles to replace all the plastic bottles in your home, however (HOWEVER!), your eco-footprint will not shrink unless you then also take the time and effort to go to your local package-free soap dispensary or buy bulk-sized pouches to refill these bottles when they empty. Every time!

Glass and other reusable alternatives actually take more energy and resources to produce than disposables, so they need to be reused quite a bit before they become more eco-friendly. (You'll get different estimates all over the place on how many times a glass, cloth, ceramic, or metal item needs to be used to be officially "better" than a disposable one, but it seems to range from 6 to hundreds depending on the item in question.)

This isn't to discourage you from doing it, of course, but to encourage you to be realistic about it. If you just pour a regular bottle of dish soap into your fancy glass pump bottle, all you've done is make your kitchen look nicer. A worthy endeavour, but not the one we are talking about right now.

Same goes if you decide, a year later, that you'd rather get a different style of glass pumps and throw out your old ones in favour of new.

So let's do these things, and let's think longer term about how we do them to make sure they are actually effective.

Goooooooo TEAM! YEAH!

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Feeling Better LAUNCH PARTY!

We're having a launch party for my book Feeling Better: A Field Guide to Liking Yourself!

The party will be held at Massy Books in Chinatown, there will be a reading, Q&A, refreshments, and general fun! Come hang! I would love to meet you!

Feeling Better Book Launch
Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7pm
Massy Books (229 E Georgia St)
FB Event Here

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Inspiration! Roundup: Your Heart, Embroidered Food, People Are Trees, Ace of Cups, and More!

A roundup of inspiring things, including the fact that your heart has loved you all along.
This Week's "I want to go to there": I wanna get cozy and stay there.
Photo by Matthew Henry.

Your Heart

“your heart has loved you from the beginning.”
— Nayyirah Waheed

Ooooh boy, that is a good one to remember. Our hearts have always loved us, they are always on our side. It's our dang heads that twist everything up.

Embroidered Food

I am fully taken with ipnot's embroidered 3D food. It is kind of blowing my mind.

People and Trees

When I go out into the woods, and I look at trees, I say, “Oh, look at that one, oh look at that one, oh how interesting!” I don’t ask why an Elm isn’t an Oak… I just appreciate them for what they are. Somehow it’s different when I get near humans, I somehow feel that it’s a whole different category, and I move into my judging mode, saying, “If that person was more like that person, things would be better.”
-Ram Dass

It's funny that seeing other people as trees might help me remember that they are whole people, all on their own.

Ace of Cups

These ladies are AWESOME! Ace of Cups toured in the 70s with bands like The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, but never managed to get an album together. UNTIL NOW!

Street Art Fest

Once a year, one street in India fills with hundreds of artists to showcase and sell their work. It's intended to give a platform to artists who otherwise can't access the gallery system, and it looks amazing.


I love moon phase art. It always makes me feel like mysteries are real and possibilities are endless.

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