Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Previous weeks writing

This is all the previous weeks writings from Sagablog which I wanted to archive here just for recording purposes. Clink the link in the last post to see the writings on sagablog, properly formated with pictures etc...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Satan Babies
AN IMPORTANT NOTICEIf you wish to give birth to the Son of Satan on the 6\6\6 next year this weekend is your last chance to concieve.
*hums the theme to The Omen and drinks another beer
posted by Adam at 10:35 PM 1 comments

Rag Doll
From wikipedia
In computer game engines, ragdoll physics are a replacement for traditional static death animations. Early computer games, going as far back as computer graphics themselves, used hand-created death sequences for characters. This had the advantage of low CPU usage as all a dying character had to do was choose from a pre-set finite number of animations.
As computers increased in power, it became possible to do limited real-time physical simulations. A ragdoll is therefore a collection of multiple rigid bodies (each of which is ordinarily tied to a bone in the graphics engine's skeletal animation system) tied together by a system of constraints that restrict how the bones may move relative to each other.
The term ragdoll comes from the fact that the articulated systems, due to the limits of the solvers used, tend to have little or zero joint/skeletal muscle stiffness, leading to a character collapsing much like a paper ragdoll.
See a basic demonstration of ragdolling here. Hours of fun. Especially if you’re drunk. Grab the model mid flight and you can make him dance too.
posted by Adam at 4:36 PM 0 comments

'Nuva day 'nuva dollar
Yesterday was hard work returning to my apartment to find it littered with puppy raising objects yet to have no puppy to utilize them.
Today has been the first time I have ever had a senior student at a junior high break into tears during a warm up game. I was playing the criss cross game, again (chiefly because I don’t need to explain it anymore). It was one of those retardedly shy quiet girls who, through no fault of my own as I hadn’t been manipulating the game, was left as the last one standing. Now what I believe made her cry was the fact that the class was laughing at the last few people standing, regardless of who they were. I served her up an easy “Do you like Ice Cream?” question and she burst into tears and sat down.
Now initially I felt bad about this, as most people would, but as the class progressed I realized it had very little to do with me, or the game, which has worked hundreds of times before without producing this result. It was the classmates laughing at her and her own, totally intractable shyness that produced her outburst. She had picked up to her normal, quiet, eyes down and hide from the foreigner at all costs, mannerisms.
Sometimes I get tired of trying to coax the tinniest amount of English language out of the most introverted of Japanese teenagers. I discussed the matter with my Irish colleague on return to my desk and she expressed the following opinions which seem to be true and made me feel better also.
All she had to do was blurt out three, not four, not five, god forbid six or seven, but three, very basic, words of a language she had been studying for 3 years. You can’t constantly keep these kids wrapped up in the little ball of protective cotton wool that allows them to maintain a totally introverted set of behaviors. Eventually, you have to take some kind of stand and find your own voice. You have to be presented with the opportunities at some stage and take a swing otherwise some of these kids will spend their whole lives as quiet, mouse like, recluses.
It’s not like I was asking for an opinion on analyzing whether or not consideration has been provided to each party in a dispute over an issue of contract law, I just asked her if she liked ice cream. I wasn’t asking her to strip in front of the class was I?
It reminded me of an incident last year when I encountered a whole class room of fifteen year olds who were still so depressed and upset by one of their class mates moving to a different school the week before you’d have thought he’d died rather than moved house. I spent a whole period giving every once of goodness I possessed and got no response, at all, ever. So as we are leaving my team teacher explained to me about the student having left and its resulting class room apathy. The halls resounded with my cry of
‘THAT’S ABSOLUTLEY PATHETIC!” as by this stage I was quite frustrated. The teacher was shocked.
“Why do you say that?” she implored. I explained to her my opinion that these were fifteen year olds. They weren’t young kids anymore. I told her that at this stage they should be given a boot up the arse to get them moving again. They need to start to grow up now. Your friend moved away, boo hoo, life’s not fair have a cry when it happens then get the fuck over it. These kids were about to burst into tears a week later. It was ridiculous. Stop molly coddling them and present them with a few facts about the world outside school without covering it in cartoon animals and pastel backgrounds. The JTE of course did not disagree with me or offer much in the way of a counter opinion.
I also had a unique teaching experience yesterday when I went to my elementary school classes. I had a classroom of 20 or so 7 to 8 year olds in front of me. The class was one of those blessed events where the homeroom teacher blatantly refuses to help in any way, shape, or form in the running of the class. He marked some papers at the back of the classroom. He cleaned the fish tank. He left the room on occasions to go and do something else. This made it mostly impossible for me to explain any activity at all.
These days when I find myself in a situation where a classroom of children is getting rapidly out on control I just take the ‘fuck it’ approach and let the kids do what they want. It’s a lot less stressful than trying to take control of the situation and convince kids to do a game that you can’t fully explain in their own language. I mean, English in this class went out the window completely. Not just learning it, but exposing the kids to English in general as I had to pull all my Japanese out the bag just to get by. We played the punch Adam in the nuts game, the hide in the closet game, the jump on the foreigner game and the dangle children by their legs out the window game. I’m not kidding, one kid ass jabbed me hard so I whipped him up off his feet and dangled him head first out the window. He loved it.
Tomorrow there will be a general election in New Zealand. The race is looking tight. The main centre right wing party in New Zealand, National, has over the past few years cannibalized the smaller, even more right wing parties that used to support it, absorbing their popular support and rallying behind a new, stronger, more confident leadership. Don Brash, the man at the helm who is running for the title of Prime Minister, is an ex central banker with an eye for Yankees. His is strongly in favor of ditching New Zealand’s long held and nationally defining stance against nuclear powered vessels and nuclear weapons in general. A National led coalition government will possibly try and drop New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance in favor of strengthened defensive ties and trading privileges with the United States. In short he may sell our nation out to the Neo-Conservative imperialist war machine quicker than a fox fucks a rabbit if he commands a majority coalition in Parliament.
It is direction time again in Aotearoa. Personally I don’t want my country to throw the towel in and start taking advice from a foreign administration ostensibly headed by the chimp that let 3000 of his own citizens get murdered on his watch, played the guitar while thousands more drowned and is unable to string a coherent sentence together to save his life.
If you are a New Zealand citizen and you haven’t voted yet you have until 4pm Japan time tomorrow to fax your vote in.
It’s important. People in some parts of the world, are prepared to die, have died and are dying to try and obtain the right to vote in a free and fair election. So many of those who are in possession of the ability to vote choose to ignore and neglect that most basic of civil duties that allows you for the briefest of times to make stand and clearly state which direction you think your own country should head in. New Zealand has a voting population of less than four million people; in a demographic of that size the only vote wasted is that which isn’t cast.
Fingers crossed for tomorrow.
posted by Adam at 3:51 PM 0 comments
Thursday, September 15, 2005

Puppies are very nice indeed
I decided that feeding HomeStarRunner would require some utensils. The family mart was bereft of baby supplies. I was considering purchasing a small genki drink, ripping the top of a rubber glove and fashioning a bottle from the two when I glanced over the toy section. Thank you Sanrio Corporation. A Hello Kitty nurse play set, with an eyedropper and a squeeze bottle. Was there ever a more Japanese puppy?
HomeStarRunner settled down after being fed again at about 10:30. She then slept all the way through until about 3 am, when it was time for some more food, then again at 5, and then again at 6. The 6am feeding required another bath. The bath this time was great. She calmed down and relaxed as I placed her into the water. She stretched her legs out, had a big yawn and was asleep soundly again before I had finished toweling her down. Which is a delicate task when you’re dealing with a small puppy.
This morning I had to employ my old jellybean jar to transport her to school. I cut a hole in the top for some airflow, put her little blue blanket in the jar and dropped her in the top. She curled up into her blanket and snoozed during the bike ride to school, which was painstakingly slow. Picture a gaijin, with huge white knees poking out of his shorts, wearing aviator glasses, sporting horrible sunburn and clutching a plastic jar with a small snoring puppy biking through the rice fields of Saga.
Our story ended happily just a few minutes ago. My Kyoto Sensei has just taken all 6, now rather frisky, puppies out to his friend in Takeo, who is a dog breeder and definitely will have the experience and facilities to give these pups a better start in life than just being discarded on a rubbish heap.
Puppies rule.
I miss HomeStarRunner
posted by Adam at 9:18 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Puppies love listening to Isan
The person from Takeo was unable to make a pick up tonight, so I decided to play the puppies cute card to their own benefit and take them into the staff room. Kyoto sensei has agreed to take them to Takeo tomorrow, requiring them to be looked after for one night.
The other teachers fawned all over them and they were split up into groups and taken home to be cared for overnight by various teachers. I have one with me now. I will call her HomeStarRunner and she is now resting nicely after having her first bath. She did not enjoy her first bath and protested mightily, however, she is much cleaner now. I did find her in a garbage pit after all. She has been fed three times this evening and when she makes a noise now I just stroke her back and she quiets down as she doesn’t appear interested in any more milk for now. I feed her by dipping my finger in milk. Then for her part she tries to inhale my finger. Then she burps a bit and goes back to sleep. I expect I will spend a good portion of this evening comforting a scared puppy who misses her littermates and cries a lot.
That’s okay though, she had a pretty rough start.
posted by Adam at 8:14 PM 0 comments

I decided to bike out around the coast and get some photos this afternoon for something to do instead of just sitting here doing nothing. I biked out and took some nice photo’s.
As I was heading back to school I was pushing my bike up a steep river embankment. Now all around here there are farms, and the farmers have piles of rubbish they collect as they go about their days in the fields. Every so often they burn these piles of rubbish. As I head over the edge I see one of these big piles of crap.
There is a tiny little squeak coming out of the pile. I park up and head over. Looking into the pile of old Styrofoam containers, empty sake bottles and half eaten lunches I find six, new born, abandoned puppies. They’re so young they still have umbilical cords and their eyes haven’t opened. A couple weren’t moving and I didn’t know how long they had been there.
I raced back to school and grabbed some plastic bags, raced back to the pit and pulled them out of the garbage one by one. I had to wade in through spiders and bush to get the last little one that was making the noise that led me to his brothers and sisters. Three male, three female. They cried in my backpack all the way back to school.
They are now sitting in the office, where, apparently, someone from an animal shelter in Takeo will come to get them. I am sticking around until I find out for sure they are safe.
posted by Adam at 4:03 PM 1 comments

The Doldrums
Ancient mariners spoke of cursed regions of the seas. These were places where no winds blew. Where heat rose from the very ocean and where ships could drift for months at a time, the crew slowly dying of thirst and starvation while their ship drifted aimlessly like graduate student searching for research funding.
The doldrums are an equatorial belt of calms, slightly north of the equator. At this point on the earths surface large amounts of solar radiation cause the land and ocean ro become intensely hot. This heating results in the rising of warm, moist air; low air pressure; cloudiness; high humidity; light, variable winds; and various forms of severe weather, such as thunderstorms and squalls. Hurricanes originate in this region.
The doldrums are also noted for calms, periods when the winds disappear, trapping sailing vessels for days or weeks. Time would slip past slowly, like a mildly disabled bear that has just raided a large supply of rum.
The doldrums, oh my friends and relations, is where you find me this morning. My arms are sticking to my desk as I try to type. I am watching the clock tick by. Teachers are moving out to supervise yet another round of tests. I am sitting at my station, sweltering in the heat. It won’t be long now until we move into the cooler part of autumn. Soon it will begin to be cooler in the evenings, then by the time the balloon festival rolls around a jacket will be a compulsory piece of evening attire.
My cell phone just received an email.
This provoked a wave of laughter around the staff room. What the fuck is so amusing about my phone in particular? This room is permeated every day with about 50 different annoying, cute ring tones. We get everything from obscure Japanese opera to Numa Numa. What is so absofuckingloutely incredible about my phone receiving an email?!
Jesus wept! Look at that foreigner! He must be able to work a piece of Japanese technology! I thought they just used hollow drums made of sticks, feces smearing and smoke signals to communicate in New Zealand! Do Maori people live with everyone else in New Zealand? Do you have schools and bridges too? How strange that a stylized cartoon bee is a symbol of New Zealand!
This coming from the people who live in the land where the cartoon animal is the king of advertising.
Sometimes, when it’s hot and I have no real work to do all day, I get so fed up of being constantly novel out here in the inaka. You’d think after a year it would wear off wouldn’t you? It’s the days like this where people become amazed at the fact I eat a small salad for lunch everyday that get to me a little bit and provoke outbursts like the one above. Sometimes the comparative anonymity that living in a large Japanese city would provide sounds nice.
Oh well, it's part of the job isn't it? Deep breath and focus on something else.
You don't think our paychecks are just merely remuneration for the services we provide in our working hours do you? Whats your thoughts on the matter? Where does your professional employment end in this country and your personal life begin in terms of the dictates it places on your everyday behaviours?
Personally, I consider that there is a certain percentage of my wage that is devoted to compensating for the kind of frustration that can build up when you live in a society as traditional, for lack of a better word, as society in Saga can be. There certainly is a gap between pay thresh hold and actual job responsibility that I fear will vastly skew my perception of any employment contracts I glance over in the future. Imagine glancing over a contract and looking at a large list of position responsibilities and saying something like,
What do you mean I won't have days where I am paid to sit around and read about UFO's on the internet all day?
crazy world huh? I suppose that in a society where teachers occupy a certain social status its to be expected that you have to alter you lifestyle to match in with what is viewed as being socially normal behavior for a teacher to exhibit.
Thats not to say you have to meet those expectations.
And that is where the fun lies.
I have been pretending to be busy experimenting with DVD backup software this morning. Moving my region 4 DVD of The Wall by Pink Floyd over onto a new region free DVD using the software I posted a link to on sagaJET the other week. It’s really working well. It has taken a couple of hours to analyze the DVD and encode it again, but I have it on the highest quality settings and it hasn’t been sucking down too many system resources, so my laptop has been running along nicely while it’s been working in the background.
Yes, maybe after lunch something interesting will happen, but for now, the bat has descended and test time inactivity has commenced. Yesterday was really busy, and I felt I had a good productive day, I was useful and won a few minor victories. I need to hang on to that today, as this posting fits exactly into the description emblazoned at the top of the website like a stamp of confirmation that some aspects of this system of employment we are involved in need a bit of change. Time to motivate and make some English posters or an English board or something to do with English.
Oh, that software works well, just put my new DVD in the drive and it runs perfectly. The world is mine.....
posted by Adam at 11:15 AM 0 comments
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pointless Celebrity
I've just been reading on Xinhua that apparently Victoria and David Beckham have been voted the U.K.'s first and second most pointless celebrities respectivley. But can anyone inform me who Jordan and Abi Titmuss are?http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-09/13/content_3482366.htmTitmuss.......I just want to giggle like a school girl. This article begs a personal response, so allow me to present my own personal list of top ten pointless celebrities.1. Princess Diana...........shes dead.2. Kelly Osborne............her father should have bitten her head off and raised the bat as his own. Then she would be dead.3. Ice Cube.....................worst screen acting ever in XXX 2. Gangsta is dead.4. Paul W. Anderson......for killing many promising movie franchises dead.5. Paris Hilton............. ..If she was dead, would her personality suffer?6. John Paul II...............dead popes society.7. Pat Tillman............. ..Suckered in by media machine and dead in Iraq. Stupid Jock.8. Starscream..................Killed dead by Galvatron.9. XZhibit......................He will be dead and can't spell his own name.10. Courneay Love.............Dead soon. Don't worry. Gave Gen-X their Nancy.
posted by Adam at 12:10 PM 0 comments

Wandering tribes of puppy eating bats
Tuesday morning has no animal associated with it at all. It is simply Tuesday morning, reliable, regular and calm. There is no post weekend euphoria that is slowly worn away in a school were kids are disciplined for sometimes what I consider to be the most retarded and unnecessary misdemeanors. It’s just a Tuesday.I thought last weeks typhoon was distinctly disappointing. Although majestically slow, Nabi just failed to impress me as much as Songda did last year. True, Songda did rip a tree behind my apartment in half and this year that tree is, well, just not there to be ripped in half again, but Nabi just seemed to be a bit of a let down. I was looking forward to a good storm. I like storms. They’re dramatic. Like me, I’m often dramatic. I can’t help it. It’s the way I’ve always been. It can be particularly hard to switch off at times. It’s what makes me a decent (and decently impoverished at times) actor.So far I’ve worked my way through a large pile of marking today. Oh the sense of raw and unexaggerated accomplishment that flowed through my veins as I placed the last cross on the stack of worksheets in front of me. It was tantamount to the feeling I’m sure Moses may have had if he did indeed part the red sea. Except with less fish and Hebrew pilgrims.I left my Hebrew pilgrims at home this morning. What do you do with your lost tribes when you’re at school?I still don’t consider myself to be a teacher in the fullest sense of the word. I have no formal training to teach young people, I can’t read or write the majority of the language so working can often be slightly limited because of this. However, I think more points should be awarded in grading to students who display more creative and interesting answers. I think it highlights that not only do they grasp the concepts they are practicing; they are comfortable to manipulate them in more abstract terms than the exercise allows for. Today for example I was marking a worksheet. On the worksheet are two cartoon pictures of a city. One is fifty years in the past and the other is in the present. Using the patterns of there is and there was, along with the associated correct grammar and syntax, the students have to create 10 statements about the town, such asThere was a school in this town fifty years ago.One girl in particular drew little brackets linking two of her statements together. In the first statement she observed that,There were some trees in this town fifty years ago.With the second cartoon displaying a distinct lack of trees in the city, instead focusing more on convenience stores and tall buildings she then observed that,There aren’t any rainbows in this town now.I wanted to give her more than two marks for these sentences. It was just a good observation and comment not only on the worksheet, the grim realities of the distinct lack of rainbows in the day’s English routine, but also on encroaching urbanization and the degradation of the environment.I have stood accused in the past of being able to read too much into things.The rest of the day after this will be taken up with back to back classes until the late afternoon. I prefer to be busy during the school day if at all possible. Tomorrow there are tests running all day, no classes, nothing to do. The day looms over the horizon like a fat bloated bat, gorged on the flesh of dead puppies. Or any other kind of creature that, if feasted upon, by a horrible bat, would provide you, dear reader, with an appropriately visceral response to the description of my anticipation of approaching uselessness.Also trying to publish this post from a Japanese computer is hard as all the buttons are in fucking heathen squiggle language.
posted by Adam at 10:21 AM 3 comments
Monday, September 12, 2005

Rhinocerotidae execting child and not feeling chuffed about it either
Good morning my fellow lackeys of his Imperial Majesty. Being this is the Monday of the 12th of September 2005 I suppose I am now in control of the literary direction of this page for the next week.
Monday sneakily crept into my consciousness this morning, heavy, hot and grey. Like an angry pregnant Rhinoceros. The Rhino battered gently on the wall of my house, as gently as any expectant Rhino is able to accomplish, which is to say, not really very gently at all, especially as this Rhino tends to sound like all of my wonderful neighbors starting their cars and departing for work on the gravel outside the window behind which I rest my often weary head. I have considered moving my sleeping attire away from the window, however, a part of me suspects my neighbors will only just start their engines at a greater volume and drive away more aggressively.
However, this morning I was able to ward off this vicious, obscene denizen of the working week by setting off my flare of self righteousness. You see, yesterday, I attended the traditional outdoor enforcement of rigorous and painful group orientated activities that comprise the layout of a Sports Day Festival, or Undokai, at one of my Junior High Schools. This gave unto me a coveted day off this morning and that rarest and sweetest of gifts, the self righteous Monday morning sleep in. I set off the flare, placed my Qantas airways blindfold over my eyes and listened to the sound of the Rhinoceros bellowing angrily as she scampered away over the plains to give birth to her cumbersome workload upon some other poor teacher like a heaving mess of warm red meat. I drifted off to sleep, content. Did the Rhinoceros visit you this morning? It was my fault. I am not sorry.
This sleep in lasted only until about 9:30 when I peered out from behind my blindfold, surveyed my apartment and decided that the heaving garbage bags, the quite tastefully flung clothes, compact disks and the odd collection of dishes were distorting the perfect balance of my slumber like little demons that lurk on the edge of consciousness, poking at you with offensively dirty little forks. I arose, triumphant and manly, veritably shining with vigor, like a beam of hope for the nations, from my three extra hours of sleeping to be reminded of one very obvious physical reality.
Yesterday I fell into the trap of ‘It’s overcast so I don’t need to put any sunscreen on’. This was distinctly unwise and resulted in the band of nearly purple skin that runs around my neck like the kind of markings Amazonian poison frogs have to warn other animals of their toxin. I feel secure in the fact that if I choose to bask on some rock or leaf during the course of the day, the only creatures that will bother me will want to carefully rub their arrows over my skin to collect venom to kill monkeys with. Monkeys are today’s evil creature, so I am happy to oblige if anyone needs any neurotoxin. You will have to come to me though, because, horrible monkeys aside, it only took three minutes outdoors in the early morning heat, moving my heaving garbage bags and their dubiously potent contents, to convince myself and my newly acquired tropical markings that today will be spent exclusively in doors sheltering from the vengeful wrath of the sun god.
Sports festivals. Jesus God almighty and his magical pixies I wish they would think up some other chant of encouragement rather than just “Ganbarre!” repeated over and over again to the point at which it losses all relativity and meaning. One of the highlights of the day was Aine Flynn’s example of the total failure of the Japanese national to grasp the concept of sarcasm. Aine arrives, dressed completely in Blue, to support the blue team.
Non-descript Japanese Teacher Slave Drone: What team are you supporting today Aine?
Aine: Red.
Three hours pass like frozen treacle through an eye dropper
A: Ganbarre blue! Ganbarre blue!
N-dJTSD: Aine! Why are you cheering for blue?
Sports festivals. At least the majority of the kids have a good time, which is the main thing. Sometimes I wonder though, is it actually possible for anyone to enjoy traditional Japanese marching? I was told at one sports festival it was very important not to make the students smile during the formal marching as it was not allowed.
One aspect of Saga I often find cloying are the vast amounts of rules and customs that must be adhered to. I suppose its part of the continuing process of cultural adjustment that you experience when you move from one culture that is predominantly focused on individuality, like the kind I lived in previously in Wellington, to one where the concept of the group is more primary to the social fabric that you find yourself tangled in. I have been trying to incorporate the ideals of Japanese society into my own life a bit more, but this often meets with limited success. Why I like living in Japan is that it removes me from my own societal rules or customs, and places me in a society where to a certain extent I am always viewed as an outsider, and not really expected or sometimes even not allowed to take part in cultural practices to the same level as most members of the society. This is extremely liberating. Sometimes. Sometimes it’s a pain in the arse.
Sports festivals. There are lots of things I enjoy about Japan. Soccer games, beer vending machines, the acceptance of geek lifestyle, okonomiyaki. Many many things there are that I enjoy about Japan. It just so happens that my first posting to this page is the day after one of the things I am really not so much a fan of.
Sports Festivals. May is a good time to have them. I had one in May. It’s not 30 degrees in the shade in May. It was fun. I spent most of the day either playing soccer with my students and their younger siblings or narrating the races over the P.A. system in an Australian horse racing commentary voice. I was also given one of the school cameras and charged with taking photographs, some of which were actually used in official school publications. I was expected to eat lunch with the staff and was told of the enkai two weeks in advance. I had jobs to do and felt like a useful member of staff. Yesterday I had all the responsibility of, to pinch a phrase from Tim Cooke, ‘A dyslexic kitten’.
This stems from the vast differences I encounter between the two Junior High schools I work at. At the smaller high school I have a lot more responsibility and a lot more interaction with the students. The other teachers all talk to me. I am at this school three and a half days a week, so this makes sense. The other school I am at for only a day and a half, and because the majority of public holidays fall on Mondays and Fridays, along with any other interruptions that piss around with the all important schedule, I am much less of a regular face there. Sometimes I even have to press teachers to get them to teach with me. I often feel, well, weird, at the larger school and have never really settled in at all. I can’t even use the bathroom at the large school. There are no western style commodes. I have a nice torso, but my legs are shot. Not flexible at all. Japanese style bathroom facilities are all but useless to me. Bathrooms aside, there is just something about the larger school that often doesn’t sit right with me. This is doubtless a combination of actual influence from the school and also my own personality. Maybe it will get better this year.
The point is that my working week starts with Monday morning’s at the larger, not so cool, school. I am now 25, and I still have to get up on Monday morning and go to school, and we’ll talk about institutionalization later on in the week maybe, but not only is it school, it is also work. We all have work and school, together, on a Monday morning. Piss biscuits.
Which is why I was so happy to get rid of that Rhino this morning. Stupid animal. It’s lunch time now. Hotdogs and Beer!
posted by Adam at 12:00 PM 0 comments


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