solarbird: (korra-excited)

Well, it’s 2015, and I’m writing this as the fireworks are still going off around me and downtown; I didn’t go, I’ve been too busy working on all the tune parts for the live Bone Walker release party/concert at Conflikt at the end of the month.

It’s hard work, too. I have a little secret that isn’t very secret: I am not a natural tunes player, and, this being the trad album, there’re a lot of tunes in it. They were by far the most difficult part of the album, and they’ll be the most difficult thing to perform live, and even though I’ll be kind of miked down a bit on mandolin, I still need to get it right.

Seriously, though; rhythm parts: 10 minutes to learn. Melody on flute: maybe 20. Sung parts: 10-15 minutes, and I’ll make new parts. Tunes: weeks. No idea why. It’s such an outlier that Anna has incorporated it into the Free Court universe, in the background, as part of the way magic works; traditional Irish tunes and the Sidhe magics don’t get along, and that’s on purpose.

But I’ll manage, I always do.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Space Needle is currently fireworking Newfoundland colours. I’m not even making that up. Newfoundland Liberation Army, represent.

I’ve seen people say that 2014 flew by; not for me. For me it felt kind of endless; 2013 seems so long ago. 2014 certainly had some personal lows; two more rounds of eye surgery, including – hopefully – the last one; way too much hanging out at home (recovering) and studio (recording). But it had highs, too – the most successful nwcMUSIC to date, actually finishing the Bone Walker project (preorder OK!) and y’know what, I’m going to say it again:

Korrasami is canon and nothing hurts.

No, seriously, see… here’s yet another level of it. There’s this longstanding trope of having queer couples who end up dead, or in tragedy. I mean, sure, mostly we don’t exist, but if we do: tragedy or death. Not cake or death; tragedy or death. We get one or the other, and sometimes both. Mercedes Lackey did it, for example; big three-book queer love story; one ends up dead, and gets reincarnated (without memories), so he can fall back in love with the survivor… who then dies. Tragedy and death twice in one trilogy! It’s amazing.

Similarly, as much as I love Revolutionary Girl Utena, it did it too, more or less. Maybe Utena still exists; maybe Anthy will find Utena; we don’t know. (In the manga, she doesn’t, but the anime is different in many ways.) At the time, I was really angry about it, because it hit that same trope after teasing us with better; even though she’s not dead (or so it’s implied), they’re still ending apart, as stories say you must, if you’re queer.

Elfquest, too. Dart’s boyfriend Shushen? Introduced and dead in two issues. Boom.

Basically, as a rule, queers don’t get to go off into the sunset together, in fiction. That’s historically not for us. For us: tragedy and/or separation, often through death.

Until now.

I can’t overstate how much that changes the world. It may not seem like much to people who are used to having it. But in a desert, even a teacup’s worth becomes an ocean of water. And for that, I can forgive a lot about 2014.

We face 2015 with a whole new world. Gear up, everybody – let’s see what it brings.

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solarbird: (molly-braceforimpact)

someone’s gonna wanna swear at me later
it might just be me

someone’s gonna wanna swear at me later
i can’t disagree

this is the kind of crap we’ve all seen before
the kind of hack that we all know I abhor

someone’s gonna wanna swear at me later
might as well be me!

friends don’t let supervillains design+build late at night with alcohol
this is why supervillains have minions instead

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solarbird: (gypsy mst3k)

We’re watching the extended Desolation of Smaug tonight at the Lair.

Thorin to Bilbo, wild-eyed: Did you find the Arkenstone? Did you find it?!
Minion Anna, as Bilbo: Uh, Thorin… are you wearing your crazypants?
Minion Paul, as Thorin: I have more than one pair!
Solarbird, as Thorin: …and I’m wearing them all.

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solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)

I may have spent my Sunday off – my first day off in like three weeks – debugging UNIVAC Star Trek game code that was ported to TRS-80 Level II BASIC some decades ago. That may be a thing that happened.

(Well, I found some bugs. No, I did. One crashing! That doesn’t happen anymore. Also, now if you enter your name wrong, instead of hanging, it names you Captain Dunsel. It seemed appropriate.)

Here, have a copy of the audiocassette. Or a printout, if you’d prefer that. 16K required.

Did you know Level II BASIC’s built-in programme editor was based heavily on TECO? I feel a bit like Scarf Doctor stumbling across Shemp Doctor’s TARDIS console room and tin whistle. Or maybe it’s kind of like I spent Sunday afternoon flossing out my brain. For SCIENCE! Or something.

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solarbird: (fox do want)

I decided I liked how the LEDs looked where they were in the photo from yesterday, so here’s how I made a more permanent version using 100 year old knobs from knob-and-tube wiring!

The turns are knobs, pulled out of a 1911 house. The supports between long horizontal sections are foam core. To show a bunch of the colours, I decided to try panorama mode on the phone while the LEDs were in colour-cycle mode. It kinda worked, but really does more “look where Apple takes its samples” than describe how it looks in person. Still, it’s kind of cool:

And here’s what it looks like with the baffles put back into place. Only, not actually rainbowy all at once like this, it’s cycling through each of these colours as I pan the camera. Still, you can see how the shelf underlighting section works:

Finally, here’s a still shot, with only one colour, in this case GREEN! It’s actually greener in person than this, but my cell phone amps that up to white because it does and I can’t stop it.

People asked in comments yesterday how much power it draws. Well, it depends upon the mode. The green above is drawing about 10 watts. It draws as little as 5 watts while on, and 1.2 watts when “off” but listening for remote. At full brightness white, it draws nearly 40 watts. The colour-cycles draw anywhere from 18 to 38 watts, so that probably averages around 28.

Make sure if you do this that you’ve got a power supply capable of handling that 40 watts, and test it – the supposed 52-watt Radio Shack 12V power supply I had on hand blew out in 10 minutes! Badly done again, Admiral Shack! This one seems better, despite being rated for less.

I definitely want to order more of these, they are awesome. And they really do set a nice mood. If they blow up, I’ll be sure to post about that, too. :D

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solarbird: (korra-excited)

I may already be addicted to these. I want more of them. SO MANY MORE OF THEM.


Redwall


Bluewall

They also do normal colours like radioactive green, daylight, warm light, and OH GOD I LOVE THESE THINGS HOW CAN I PUT THEM EVERYWHERE?

They’re pretty bright, too. I am not disappointed on that front.

I’ve got this strip colour cycling now (fade/slow transition) but it can be set to specific colours and and yeah these are awesome. They’re like $16 for five metre lengths with controller but without power supply. I have plenty of power supplies sitting around, so that’s just fine by me.

Honestly right now I just want to put them everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

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solarbird: (Lecturing)

Solarbird pokes at Scrabble tiles. I can spell ENERMAT.
Solarbird says, “Which sounds like it should be a word. From, idk, SF. In the 40s.”
GrendelFish says, “Sounds like part of the Cyberman lifecycle”
Solarbird says, “Or what they’d consider a cute corner cafe, really.”
GrendelFish . o O ( You see, Tegan, if a Cyberman doesn’t return to the Enermat at least once a week, their power source becomes dangerously unstable. )
Solarbird giggles at GrendelFish.
Solarbird says, “So the first warning of a Cyberman invasion isn’t the stompy, but the sudden appearance of Enermat franchise stories on every street corner.”
GrendelFish grins.
Solarbird says, “Coffee and battery recharge.”
Solarbird . o O ( and of course ‘Enermat’ in Cyberman language is actually pronounced ‘starbucks’ )
GrendelFish says, “it’s like how classic Daleks had to wait for civilizations to invent the equivalent of the ADA before invading.”
Solarbird [to GrendelFish]: Which means it’s amazing they ever invaded England at
all.
GrendelFish [to Solarbird]: Why do you think they had to keep doing it?
Solarbird says, “oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh”

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solarbird: (music)

I can’t be the only person out there who looks at these shipping balloons and thinks, “y’know, with the right incendiary or biotoxin, these things could be hilarious,” right?

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solarbird: (pindar-most-unpleasant)

JFC shelves come with a lot of packaging. I was expecting a flatpack, not a box the size of a coffin.


Seriously, look at this.


AAAAAAAAH WHAT IS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH


GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF


OH SHIT IT’S FIGURED OUT DOORS WE’RE ALL DEAD


Goddamn, good thing I’m handy with scissors!


Y’know, that really was an undue amount of danger for shelving.

I will not be leaving positive feedback about that, let me tell you.

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solarbird: (cake)

I had a brief but hilarious conversation with the fill-in massage therapist today.

Solarbird: We were talking about why I needed not to be face down throughout the session, because my sinuses will get cranky and I’ll have a headache all day, and I mentioned allergy shots having done me a lot of good.
Solarbird: And he asked what was in them, and I said, “Well, allergens, actually, it’s an exposure technique, they aren’t actually entirely sure how it works…” and he started going off about “Yeah, like homeopathy.”
Solarbird: Now right there, I started laughing…
Solarbird: “Okay, you will get absolutely nowhere with homeopathy with me.”
Fill-In Massage Therapist (FIMT): “As in you don’t respond well, or…”
Solarbird: “As in it doesn’t work.”
FIMT: “But it’s the same thing.”
Solarbird: “No, the allergen is actually present in allergy shots.”
FIMT: “So it is in…”
Solarbird: <laughs> “No it’s not.”
FIMT: “Okay, but the essense is…”
Solarbird: <laughs more> “No, it’s not.”
FIMT: “…you sure have a lot of opinions for somebody who didn’t use their biology.”
Solarbird: “Yes! Yes, I do! Also, possibly degraded social skills from being four months at home. But I was a researcher in genetics. I have papers. They were published!
Solarbird: “Water memory? No.

And then we started talking about folk music instead.

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solarbird: (korra-excited)

Amongst the news that got somewhat overlooked during the petition-to-SFWA flap of the last two weeks:

  • The two-CD-long Destiny came out, with my first voice acting role, and,

Along the way, I fixed another guitar – I keep repairing instruments I don’t even know how to play XD – and a cool toy appeared! If you have a new enough browser, go play with it, it’s fun.

Finally, this is legitimately hilarious (h/t to Ben Deschamps):

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solarbird: (shego-rule?-you?)

It’s not my personal style, so I haven’t visited it myself – The Underminer and I have… non-compliementary work ethe – but if you’re in the market for a well-appointed lair in the high desert, you could do far worse. Have a couple of sample pictures; the rest are at the link.


Hardened exterior and high vantage point
 

Interior design follows traditional mole-machine thematics

ht jwz

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solarbird: (made her from parts)

Stickmaker: I’m a little worried. There’s a patch of ice at the far end of my front walk which I can’t scrape off and which isn’t melting. (In fact, as the temps drop it’s growing.) I piled snow at the end of the walk and then went though the yard to where the walk is safe. Hope that’s warning enough.
Anna: Dump some kitty litter out there if you have to.
Anna: Do you not have any rock salt?
Stickmaker: Kitty litter is all in use by the kitties. No rock salt.
Anna: Well I got nothin’, then.
Solarbird: you have gasoline, you have matches, i don’t see the problem here
Anna: I might suggest that when you go out again, get some rock salt. ;)
Anna: Or something otherwise appropriate for dealing with ice on your walk
Solarbird: like gasoline
Solarbird . o O ( foomp )
Solarbird: ok maybe charcoal?
Stickmaker: …That’s what I’m afraid of. :-)
Solarbird: you’re afraid of charcoal?
Solarbird: that’s just weird.
Solarbird: what did charcoal do to you?
Solarbird: or do you fear its revenge?
Solarbird: for all the things you’ve done to it?
Solarbird . o O ( so much burning )
Stickmaker: No, the ‘Fwoomph!’
Solarbird: wait so no you fear sound effects.
Solarbird: FOOMOHPH
Solarbird: scary!

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solarbird: from display at PAX 2011 (ook)

…eyes all dilated:

Solarbird sings: I can’t focus, I can’t focus, I can’t focus…
Minion Paul sings: It’s time to throw the knives!

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solarbird: (music)

Solarbird: I ordered a metal aluminium NO Solicitors sign for the bottom of the driveway. $27.
Solarbird: Because we just got another one and do not want
Solarbird: And it has a stake and I imagine that if it’s at the bottom of the driveway and they see that sign and look up the climb to our front door they’ll go, “…yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah… okay.”
Taliesin: They’re climing all the way up there just to bug a known supervillan?
Solarbird: I just had to disintegate another one!
Anna nodnods re: sign. Good.
Anna: (And yeah, disintegrating solicitors, while fun, DOES distract from disintegrating MORE annoying targets!)
Solarbird: Plus it drains the capacitor and then I have to recharge it.
Taliesin grins.
Solarbird: and it’s a BIG capacitor.
Anna nods wisely.
Taliesin: So that’s what that annoying whine I’m hearing is?
Solarbird: Are you kidding? Hell no. Silent. You think I want that kind of noise pollution near my studio? I’m this close >< to using the magfield generator to move airplanes out of my sky. I’m not adding to the problem!
Anna Hee
Solarbird . o O ( and since they’re all aluminium and composites these days, that means I have to move it by moving the _people_… )
Anna stage whispers to Tal, “I’ve had to remind her to NOT use the heat ray on the neighbors.”
Solarbird LIES
Anna: (Most of whom are ooooooooooooold, it’d be like shooting fish in a barrel)
Solarbird: okay that much is true but it was not _me_ who wanted to liquify the people in the 80s house down the street after _somebody_ locked themselves out and _they_ wouldn’t let her use their phone.
Anna: Now see THAT would have been justifiable disintegration!
Anna: It is not justifiable to disintegrate your neighbors over hedge wankery XD
Solarbird: No, that is the BEST time. I would be a neighbourhood … hero.
Solarbird: Okay you have a point.
Anna: If however you choose to use the ray on the HEDGE…
Anna | *ZORCH* THERE! PROBLEM SOLVED!
Solarbird: Nah, that’s just taking a side at that point. I’d have to take out the hedge AND the trees AND the rockery. And I like trees, mostly.
Solarbird: _Mostly_.
Solarbird: Some of those guys along the north property line? Total fuckers.
Solarbird: But in general, they’re a good lot.
Anna: That’s TRUE.

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solarbird: (mandolin-and-flutes)

Seen on Twitter: if 2013 was a battle for you, then take heart: it’s dead, and you’re still alive. Show 2014 the corpse of 2013, as a warning.

That’s right: it’s time for the year-in-review post!


New stage costume in progress, for GeekGirlCon

My 2013 was pretty good, most of the year. Actually, until October, it was really good. Honestly, it didn’t feel like I did all that much, but I’m looking at it, and thinking I must’ve been busier than I remember!

I did my first zouk solo on stage (and came away with a funny story), appeared on someone else’s album for the first time (as well as recording more than half of it), put out several episodes of a Geekmusic Podcast, appeared on The Cosmic Ray Show, played in Victoria, rebuilt this website, and toured briefly – eight shows – with Leannan Sidhe.

I fell really hard for Pacific Rim, and wrote a song about it for Jaegercon, recorded with help from fans tereshkova2001 and Kathryn Tewson, had fun at Clallam Bay Comicon and Virtual ComiCon and VCON and Harrison Hot Springs, got involved with fannish and gamer misogyny, including a fight with Penny Arcade’s Ben Kuchera on Twitter about something other than PAX, and performed a supervillain elfmetal operetta with Hello, the Future! and tereshkova2001 and Angela Highland and Amber Clark at GeekGirlCon, complete with a new stage costume (thanks to Leannan Sidhe for her help)…

…which is when things got annoying. Emergency eye surgery, rounds one and two. And Anna had to have major medical adventures of her own, which kept us both – aheh – homestuck for a couple of months.


Pan-Pacific Defence Corps

Also, we had Cat Pee Festival 2013, about which the less said, the better, but if you think that wasn’t a distraction, I have a bundle of WRONG for you.

None of that stopped me from doing my first voice acting during recovery, but damn, that was nasty. We had to miss Orycon and everything.

But then, at the end of the year? I got invited into the Mega-Music Download, which just made me go EEEEEEEEEEEEE because here I am surrounded by all these people who are better at this than me. so exciting I can’t believe I got included eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :D


Better than Me

And that doesn’t even talk about nwcMUSIC and the like, so… yeah. I’m not lying when I say I feel like I didn’t get much done this year. But then you stack it up in a list like that and I feel better about it.

Even if that damned soundtrack album got stalled out for a while. More recording is scheduled, at last, in January. There will be an album, goddammit. There will be.

As usual, there were a bunch of DIY highlights. I built a remote-control for Ardour, a remote-control ON AIR sign, made some retr0brite and de-yellowed some equipment; I identified the Lord Ruler of All Hard Drives while rebuilding and upgrading my digital audio workstation, modded the hell out of an old input switch to make a speaker-selector and warning device, made my DAW into a standing workstation, did some graphic design to make a nice, legal-size comp sheet to help in studio work (downloadable!), and found super-cheap but very effective ways to do speaker isolation and microphone cases.

Oh, plus, put together a buildout post for the Austin Microphones ribbon mic kit, and an even better buildout post for the pre-amp kit. I’ll be using this on that album.


Blinkinlights blinking!

So, yeah. It’s been a year. By most reasonable standards, it’s been a pretty big year. From a purely commercial standpoint, my two biggest download months are both this year, the second-largest being right now. (Downloads still pay-what-you-like, but not for much longer!)

But for all the everything, I don’t…

I don’t feel like I’ve been playing much, and not writing much, either. I did write some songs – not just Kaiju Meat – and even performed them out. But… yeah. Not so many.

I think that’s what’s missing; it’s been a year as much about engineering and talking than creating and playing. I think 2014 needs to be a kind of followup.

My tools are in pretty good shape, now – let’s get back to using them.


eta: Anna has posted an even longer, more detailed year-in-recap post of her own!

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solarbird: (shego-rule?-you?)

I swear to you, I am not reorienting the compass in this video. I’m keeping it as much at the same angle relative to the room walls as I can.

Whelp

there y’are

I guess the mistletoe is gonna explode again, too.

I know about metal effect on compasses, but this looks more like every piece of metal in my studio is magnetic now. Honestly – these mic stands are magnetic enough to use the compass to identify their poles. My shock mounts, too. And I think I can feel the magnetic attraction to my wire-cutters on some of them.

Is that normal? It doesn’t seem like it could be normal, because I don’t see how anyone could use high-gain preamps and cables. I remove the mic stands; no radio on the pre-amp. I bring one back: radio on the pre-amp. Magnetic induction, somehow.

I am officially at a loss.

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looking up

Nov. 15th, 2013 01:25 pm
solarbird: (korra-fruck-out)

I’m allowed to look up again, by which I mean horizontally and not at the ground.

It’s makin’ me dizzy

woah

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solarbird: (gaz)

Right about now last Tuesday is when they rolled me in for emergency eye surgery.

I can see over half my field of view in my right eye at this point. That’s actually pretty good, since it means we’re on an accelerating curve again – the maximum horizontal diameter of the bubble is shrinking now, rather than static. From top of eye down to focus centre, it’s pretty normal for me – nearsighted as all hell, but that’s normal. Then I have a band which moves around all the time because it’s the edge of the bubble, and then the bubble area.

If I look down I can see all the edges of the bubble in peripheral vision.

My eye still looks pretty damn scary tho’! It’s been one week…


…since I looked at you

…but if you compare it to two days after surgery, you can see it’s quite a bit less bloody overall.

Sadly, I have lost most of the macrovision. But I did use it a lot while I had it!

Follow-up appointment tomorrow; I don’t think that’ll change much. I am hoping they’ll let me stop sleeping only on my right side, tho’. I’m not sleeping well being immobile like that, and it’s catching up with me – I look kinda terrible. On the other hand, Anna and I got into a Scary Eye Fight on Tumblr last night. Everybody wins! Or loses. Depending. XD

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

“Emergency eye surgery.” Those are not happy words.

About a week and a half ago, I got a big floater in my right eye. I get floaters more often than most, but it’s never been a big thing, and it seemed to be breaking up on its own, like they do, so I ignored it through the GeekGirlCon show with the intent of going in to make sure it’s not the 3% of time that posterior vitreous detachment (harmless) leads to retina detachment (problematic) or tears (extremely problematic and can lead to blindness).

Monday morning it seemed to have got worse, and that was new, but I was making the appointment anyway, so I went in. Dr. Khan agreed from the symptoms that it was probably just ordinary stuff, but of course, the whole point of going down there is to get a look.

And yeah, it’s not. Dr. Khan transferred me immediately to a retinal specialist, who said it is PVD, but with an outright retinal rip, and I have two other spots in the same eye that are damaged, and very likely to lead to retinal rips. The damage in all cases is very old, and the sort caused by multiple head trauma events.

So I have emergency surgery tomorrow morning. They’d've done it today, but it wasn’t an option unless we moved to overnight at Swedish, and that’s actually pretty bad because they don’t have the specialised eye crews overnight, and we’re better off waiting ’till the morning. If all goes well, I’ll be fine – tho’ down a lot of money, despite coverage.

And that gets me to something I don’t talk about much. I don’t remember most of my childhood, mostly because of my broad-spectrum abuse history. Psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, multiple abusers. It’s all kinds of fun.

In the extremely unlikely event that you know anything about my past, which almost none of you do, I want to make a point here of exempting my last guardian, whose initials were E.E.. E.E. was the closest to a decent parental figure I ever had, and none of this, none of it, is on him. This was all before his time.

The others, tho’… yeah. I’m not going to name names, because hi, lawyers. There’s one in particular here – I’ll call him Mr. B.

Mr. B was fond of academic rigour, in particularly through pain, in more particular through punches to the head. I have a bunch of healed but fortunately minor skull fractures from his particular breed of rigour.

I hadn’t heard from Mr. B in decades, until – now that he’s old and sick – he started cyberstalking me a couple of years ago. I blocked his accounts but he made new ones, until went so far as to reply to one of his over-the-transom missives from a donated, throwaway account, saying that okay, I know what he wants; I want to know who my birth parents were and how Mr. B and his associate Ms. A got ahold of me. His price was being “welcomed back into my life,” which is happening never, thanks.

So I can keep that out of my life just fine, thanks. And with the help of a therapist, I’ve managed to keep Mr. B and Ms. A out of my head, a lot of the time. (Ms. A has had the decency to disown me outright. Not fond of the queer, you see. Simplifies things, sometimes, doesn’t it?)

But apparently old blows can still cause physical harm, even today. I thought Mr. B had had his last shot at me, but apparently not. One more blast from the past, eh, Mr. B?

We’re going to fix that, tomorrow. With lasers.

It’ll leave me with limited vision for a couple of weeks, but hopefully will only really knock me down for a couple of days. So maybe I won’t be around for a bit.

Or maybe I’ll liveblog from the operating room. Who can tell?

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