Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Patched Multicultural Faces In Toronto

These patched faces of children, on a signal box across the road from the AGO, was a piece of street art I passed every day on the way to work in Toronto, and loved!  I actually thought it was a once off, but towards the end of my Summer I saw a few more of these multicultural faces around.

The patches, bringing together so many cultures into the one face, is such a true outlook of the mix of people, faces and cultures that Toronto has to share.  One of the comparisons people make it that this aspect of the city is very much like Melbourne, which is so true.

Such a symbol of togetherness, acceptable, and the future!  They just seem to come together so well.  Great art pieces!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Basics Ingredients

With The Basics on hiatus while Wally does his Gotye thing across the globe, and Kris is finishing off some work in Kenya for the Red Cross, the announcement of a show at the Northcote Social Club in October caught our eye - billed as a solo for Kris Schroeder.

Soon Tim Heath was added to the list for the show, and some review of Wally's schedule proposed a slim possibility of a full reunion.

Nevertheless, the show was soon billed as a gig to promote the release of previously unreleased tracks, on a disc called Ingredients.

I met up with Mary and Nicole, and we had dinner out in the bar before the show, and could hear the first band of the night deliver their set.  We chatted briefly with Kris out here, as he was preparing for the show.

The next band was Mustard Courage, and we made it into the bandroom for this four piece bluegrass act.  And they were great! Totally had the crowd engaged, despite being of a genre nobody had expected from this night, and their chatty stage presence.

Their sound was impressive and catchy, and who doesn't love a band with a bango!  They gave us an awesome cover of Kiss From A Rose.

With the curtain closed between the acts, there were whispers around the room about the presence of Wally, but of course when all was revealed it was Kris and Tim who filled the stage.

They joked about how they talked about staying sober for the show, given that they did not have Wally to pick up the slack, and also confessed that they had had to re-learn some of the songs for tonight to cover his parts.

The set included some long time favourites, mostly off Keep Your Friends Close, like Home Again, Keep The Door Open, and Fear Of Failure.  They played some tracks from the to-be-released Ingredients, of which a couple we had heard live before, but some not. Tim donned the 'wedding cake' accordion, as he described it, for a couple of songs, because he said they needed to mix it up a bit without the drums, and then gave is his Rain cover.

With Kris checking his phone a couple of times during the set, he then pulled down the screen at the front of the stage, and projected a skype call with Wally, from New York City.  As with most skype calls though, there was the usual hellos back and forth, and then the sound dropped in and out....luckily Wally had recorded his section of Just Hold On.  With the delay, the degree of difficult was increased, but the boys here in Northcote managed to pull it off, and it felt like the band was all back together.

Taking requests for the final songs, Tim gave us a rousing Have Love, Will Travel.  It was so great to hear these songs live again, after such a break.  Kris talked about how the funds from this night will help the establishment of a music class within the project he is working on in Kenya, once he returns from this R & R break.

The Basics are also releasing a "best of" in response to Gotye's massive success this year, to introduce his worldwide fans to the expanse of tracks from his rock band.  So, hopefully we will get more of the three Basics together again, soon!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Australian War Memorial

Friday night in Canberra I finally got to visit the Australian War Memorial, a place I have been very keen to see for many years.  Our Welcome function was held here for the Human Brochure weekend, and we got a glimpse into this iconic and very moving site to honour those who have served and been lost in war for Australia.

We arrived as the sun was out, and the moon featured above the sandstone building.  From the front steps, we could see the roads leading to Parliament House, and to the side a statue to remind us of the Samson and his Donkey story from Gallipoli.

Our groups gathered and took in the building, before being invited inside.  We were able to explore the commemorative courtyard, take in the mass of names and poppies along the Roll of Honour, and also experience the Hall of Memory.

Such a beautiful place, with the reflecting pool taking in the balconies above.  Walking along the Wall of Honour, the sheer number of names was incomprehensible, and was a solemn mark of remembrance for all battles Australian soldiers have been been involved in and lost their lives.

At the end of the commemorative courtyard was the stunning Hall of Memory, with the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Solider, representing all who have given their lives for our nation.

The Hall features stained glass windows, and mosaic pieces, each with significant wartime significance to the our servicemen and women.

Our evening featured welcomes from the Memorial, and the Australian Capital Tourism who had brought us all here to see what Canberra has to offer visitors.

We were then invited to walk through the Orientation Gallery, out into the Aircraft Hall.  It was clear there was so much to access on a normal visit to the Memorial, and this wander was a taste of the rich volume of wartime history collected here in the one place.

The Aircraft Hall featured many of the planes used in the World War I conflict, which was just mind-boggling to see, given the standards of plane travel today.

Here, we were treated to a film produced by Peter Jackson, and then offered talks of the various features of this area of the Memorial.

Seeing just a portion of the Memorial like this just affirmed my long held desire to be here for an ANZAC Day Dawn Service.

It has also made me realise that I will need to allow plenty of time to take it all in properly, because there is so much to take in, and so many sections to visit to get the full wartime history on display.

This post is part of the #humanbrochure weekend to showcase Canberra as a destination, which I attended as a Plus One, with Carly Findlay.  We were part of the Food and Wine Stream, in the Australian Capital Territory Tourism initiative. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Degustation Lunch at Capital Wines

Being on the Foodies stream of the Human Brochure weekend, I thought I MUST share with you the delicious and beautiful six course lunch we had today, at Grazing.  Here, in Gundaroo Capital Wines Epicurean Centre delivered each dish with their recommended wine from the Canberra region.

The top is the Cream of Tomato Soup, with Hobbit Farm goat cheese toast.  Next was Snowy Mountain Rainbow Trout....drooling yet?

How pretty is the beetroot tortellini with kangaroo tail, above. Pretty and pink!  And delicious - I think this was my favourite.

Next was the Bungendore Smoked Lamb Cutlets, and then we were served Local Free Range Pork Belly Sliders.

Topped off with a Brulee Tart...what a sensational birthday lunch!  A serendipitous occurrence to be here for it, and oh so lovely!

This post is part of the #humanbrochure weekend to showcase Canberra as a destination, which I attended as a Plus One, with Carly Findlay.  We were part of the Food and Wine Stream, in the Australian Capital Territory Tourism initiative. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The East Hotel, Canberra

Carly and I traveled up to Canberra this morning, for our weekend away to Canberra, and were soon whisked away upon arrival to the newly opened East Hotel.

Walking into the highly stylised lobby, we were greeted and checked into our room.  We took some time to take in the lobby, which has a graphic wall showing photos of indigenous figures and faces, and other imposing pictures, which ties in the local area's history with the new, modern feel of this hotel.

The feel of a reading room to one side, the lobby also have Apple Macs ready for use - always great to have access when away from home!  Wifi in the room has been tops thus far, also.

We delighted when we reached our suite, with the gorgeous chairs, lamps, and the space - such great space!  Our room has a balcony, kitchen, full laundry, and a bathroom with all the frosted-glass fittings. Impressive!

Everything is new, and thought out, and just fits with the beautiful theme of the space.

After taking a walk around the local area before the weekend began, we found a strip of shops with boutiques and cafes (with a great cheese platter!), and then reached the shore of Lake Burley Griffin, before we wandered back past Manuka Oval.  This hotel is very close for any footy fans when there are matches here!

We finished our day with drinks downstairs at the Ox Eatery, which was a relaxed bar with a good range of beers, gin and whiskey and a cider on tap.  It was great to chat with other people sharing this weekend with us, here in Canberra.

This post is part of the #humanbrochure weekend to showcase Canberra as a destination, which I attended as a Plus One, with Carly Findlay.  We were part of the Food and Wine Stream, in the Australian Capital Territory Tourism initiative. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Temple in a Village in Kampong Cham

This is one of my favourite photos from my time in Cambodia. Taken in a village in Kampong Cham, when I was visiting one of the staff I was working with's home. I went for a wander in the morning, and checked out this temple.  The main feature of the living, working village, it's reflection is so tranquil and beautiful.

This post is part of a series marking 10 years since I travelled to Cambodia to work as a volunteer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Arch and the Pavilion

The sights of Ballarat are just everyday views for me, having grown up here.  But coming back after some travel, my eye is more appreciative of many of the pretty things my home town has to offer.

Of course, I have been home for a couple of days while I float between Ballarat and Melbourne, housesitting and staying back at Mum's, working on university essays and then attending classes back in Melbourne.

These two photos were taken (on different days), on walks from home to Lake Wendouree.

The Arch of Victory was stunning as the sun was setting behind it, catching the light.  This was the very arch that we found was mentioned in a visual display at the more famous, international Arc de Triomphe.

The colours of the Botanical Gardens caught my eye on a lap around the lake.  So pretty, and vibrant! If this was anywhere else in the world, I may have been wowed by this kind of display - although I am not always taken by gardens in a big way.  Still, the blooms and Statuary Pavilion are pretty impressive at this time of year.

I guess it takes time away to fully appreciate home! Although just for a visit, now and then!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Best (and Free) View of Washington DC

One of the travel tips I read before heading to Washington DC was that the best view was to be found at the Old Post Office. That advice was spot on!

The building itself is gorgeous, and ornate, and just a short walk from the White House.  Walking in under the arches, the inside Pavilion is just as beautiful.  A cavernous center point, with the entrance to the Clock Tour and the view downstairs.  This basement level is reached via a beautiful staircase, and hosts a mini-food court of treats....for after the climb!

Selena and I joined the short line to go up to the observation level of the Clock Tour, and were soon ushered into the elevator for the ride up to the top.  Even the view riding up was impressive, with glass walled elevators giving us a bird's eye of the Pavilion below.

Reaching the end of the elevator ride, there was another short elevator, or the stairs, to reach the observation level.  This takes you past the bell room of the tower, with mammoth bells a little older than me, ready to ring out over DC.  These bells were actually made in the UK, and sport the words "Wisdom", Courage" and Love" along their belt - and are the Bells of Congress, one of the largest sets of musically tuned ringing bells in North America.

But it was the view we were there for, and upon arrival at the open air observation level, it was clear why this was a recommendation.  A full view of the Mall laid out in front of us, as well as the White House and the buildings of George Washington University.

In the other direction, you have a view straight up Pennsylvania Avenue, to Capitol Hill.

Looking back on these photos now, I get a sense of how much we walked over those 2 days, exploring the Washington Mall, and we didn't even venture into any of the museums along the way!  The view from the top of the Old Post Office gives you a good lay of the land, and let's you get a visual map of the major sights, ready for your wander on foot.  And it's free!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Melbourne Laneway Beauty

This green and silver beauty is down along Croft Alley in the city, and I spotted her when I was on the hunt for baby elephants around the city. Snapping her was irresistible, as I am sure she won't last long in the ever changing canvas of this laneway.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Macaron Making Madness

My sisters have been baking a batch of blue-coloured macarons this weekend, whilst I have been toiling away at an essay.  Being at Mum's, we are in the same room with our very different endeavours, and I have been able to eavesdrop on the steps.

Jessie and Katie have done this before, for a friend's wedding.  These macarons were the bomboniere - chocolate, hazelnut and raspberry white chocolate.  So brown, cream and pink were the end product, displayed in a cute clear box for the guests to take home.  So pretty, and everyone was massively impressed.

This time, they are doing it all again for another friend's wedding.  This weekend, they were testing the oven at home in Ballarat, and also the blue dye and the use of stewed blueberries within the middle of the macaron. All preparation for the main bake in a couple of weeks time.

It's quite the production!

As I have been reading up on logic models, the girls were talking about "fold this in" and "work it and pipe it".

While I have been looking at the difference between normative need and perceived need, they were saying things like "then we get to lick the bowl!" and then "the nips I am not too concerned about" once the shells were poured and they were fussing about the tips.

The end product, as they envisaged, has a blueberry nestled in the centre of the butter-cream filling, meaning that you get a little surprise when you bite into the crispy shell and through the meringue.

Although after this batch, the girls had been brainstorming other ideas, and then whipped up a bowl of mascarpone filling to achieve of more lighter, white goo to surround the surprise blueberry.  It's all trial and error, they tell me!

We now have a ton of macarons in the fridge, and a container has been boxed for the bride-to-be to sample, and another has gone out to my aunties when the girls went out for afternoon tea.  There have also been many little morsels consumed, all in the name of research for the project, of course!

My sugar-fuelled essay is well on it's way, as I curse my lack of attention in lectures and weekly readings, all with the knowledge that there are plenty of macaron treats for a study break around.

I think that they could be doing this as a little business, because the end product at the table of a wedding as the little take-home, is so cute and delicious - a lovely addition to a special day.

The girls have certainly spoiled my view of many other macarons, given how good these and the past batches have been.  Considering I only tasted macarons for the first time in February, hearing the planning, and taste testing for the girls has made me critical of the many average ones out there!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

I have been following the work of Jessie Taylor, young Melbourne lawyer, since reading about how she came upon the situation of bringing a 14 year old Afghani foster son into her home and life.  Such an incredible and inspiring  story and single act in this horrid time of political turmoil by her!

As part of that journey that had her meet that young man, she had ventured over to Indonesia with the idea of filming the story behind what makes people boat people.  To examine the stories, and find out why people would take such a risk as to board an unseaworthy vessel and attempt to get to Australian land.  The hows, whys and experiences.

The result is the award winning Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea.  I attended a screening earlier this month through Melbourne University Refugee Action Collective at the University of Melbourne.  Jessie attended, and answered questions at the end, which added to the experience of seeing this documentary.

The film starts with Jessie getting to Indonesia, and visiting some people in detention.  Hearing and filming their stories.  And from here, many people contact her, to tell their stories.  So many heart-breaking and unbelievably scary and unfathomable things that have happened to these people, and their journeys to get to here. (Photo credit)

We also get a sense of the legal situation - many of these people and families who have made their way to Indonesia to flee such horrid things in their homeland have actually been granted refugee status by the UNHCR.  Many of them are awaiting an interview for this determination. All of them are being detained in the most awful of conditions, for years and years, with no end in sight, and certainly no communication from the UN about how much longer they will have to wait.

The frustration, the unknown, the burden of the risk they have already taken to get this far, is what pushed a few to seek alternative methods to get to Australia.  The promised land.  The "lucky country".  A country that has had a "stop the boats" policy beating the newspaper headlines for 12 years.

The descriptions of the boat journey from Indonesia to Australian waters is harrowing, and the footage of a boat wrestling to come to shore is so unsettling.

The UNHCR process, and the lack of Australian processes where there could be such an easy solution to help these people and indeed "stop the boats", gets a brutal and honest portrayal - only 35-50 people per year actually get from this hopeless situation and are granted the gift of resettlement - their basic human right. The alternative is clear - rather than waiting for some of these people to survive the journey across the sea, our government could just move to speed up the processing steps from the detention sites in Indonesia.

It's the individual stories that touch you.  Tear at your heart, and make you cry.  The families are the hardest stories to take in, but also the young man who has seen his siblings killed in front of him in his home country, sent this far by the urging of his parents, for a glimmer of hope of safety and life.  His voice and story stay with you.

The closing frames of this documentary are the most powerful.  You have to see this.

The film has not gained rights to be screened in Australia.  Because of it's funding, namely a portion from Amnesty International, networks who may ordinarily show such hard hitting, and real film, have shied away.  Jessie has been unable to get it listed in any of the film festivals here in Australia.  And yet several festivals worldwide have screened it, and awarded it Best Documentary at the 2012 European Independent Film Festival and an Accolade Award from the Honolulu Film Festival, to name a few.

To see this film, a crowdfunding effort has been started, with one more week of the campaign until the deadline for an attempt to have it screened all around the country closes.  There are several options to help it be screened in your area, but at the very least, buy a ticket to a possible screening in your area - and hopefully Jessie will get the funds through this process to allow you to see it, too.  And above all, this may reach some people who need to see it, to adjust their views of the refugee issue to a more humane and rights based outlook, and change the way this country votes on such an important humanitarian issue.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sihanoukville Memories

With the death this week of King Father Norodom Sihanouk, I am taking a walk down memory lane to those weekends we spend in Sihanoukville during our time in Cambodia.

This beachside province is named after the now late King, and back in the time we were living in Phnom Penh, had the best road in Cambodia leading down to it.  I went a couple of times for an escape, and took the bus each time.

As expats, sweating away in grimy Phnom Penh all week, the escape of Sihanoukville, and Serendipity Beach, was about the quiet, the beach and sun, and freedom.  To be honest, I don't recall being overly involved in the party scene down there during our visits - I remember getting up in the morning, heading to the deck chairs at the waters edge just along from our huts, and spending the day reading, eating, drinking, and having our toes painted by the women along the beach.

Each time I stayed in Sihanoukville, I stayed in these huts just on the beach.  There were only a handful of huts at that time, but a search for the same place just now finds a much bigger, more developed resort - still with some of the huts, by the looks. I am sure the whole town would be unrecognisable to us now.

The water was so warm, so much better for a non-swimmer like me than the chilly beaches at home. Languishing under umbrellas, having food and drinks come down to us from the row of beach restaurants - the only real decisions at which bar we would spend the day!

Such a great R and R treat for us, on each visit.

Vale King Norodom Sihanouk.  His was the face on the wall of every home and office I went into during my 6 months living and working in Cambodia.

This post is part of a series marking 10 years since I travelled to Cambodia to work as a volunteer.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Deep Heat in Ballarat

Alexander Gow arrived on stage with gold jacket on to deliver the most edgy set I have even seen of Oh Mercy.  This album has a different feel, and he seemed more relaxed and experimental on stage at Karova Lounge in Ballarat on the weekend.

Opening with the title track Deep Heat, at the end the song AG finished by turning his back to us, to show the words DEEP HEAT embroidered on the back! Ha!  Much more showy that I have ever seen him!

The show included big tracks from this third album, like My Man and Europa, before they started to mingle their back catalogue into the mix, albeit reworked to blend in with their new sound.

This included Keith Street, old favourite Broken Ears, and Stay Please Stay.

Drums was the liveliest of their new material among the crowd and on stage, with both support acts for the night, being Split Seconds and Millions, joining the band up on stage for it.

Stating that they would continue on and complete their encore without going off and coming back on again, AG and the band finished the night with State Trooper cover of Bruce Springsteen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever

The Imagine mosaic in Central Park, just a short stroll from the Dakota Towers where John Lennon lived and was shot, is such a powerful and peaceful part of the city.  A tribute to the man and his words.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Something For Kate

The new Something For Kate album, Leave Your Soul To Science is one I have not been able to stop playing since it's release - and was even better to see it played live.  I hadn't seen the full band live before, and that was finally rectified two weekends ago.

I had put a call out for a gig buddy as I was travelling back from Canada, upon reading the release of shows in Melbourne, and Katie jumped at the chance, and sorted tickets for us both.  We caught up with Narelle for pre-gig dinner at Mexicali Rose - which meant we got completely carried away and missed much of the support act.  Oops.

I had heard good things of Ben Salter, and we arrived into the band room at The Corner to catch his very last song.

We made our way through the crowd to a good position, and readied ourselves for the gig.  Katie was so excited to be out and about, and seeing a band she has loved since her teens.

Keeping us waiting a little, the members of Something For Kate eventually filled the stage, and opened with Eureka.  New tracks like This Economy and Survival Expert were interspersed with older tracks like Say Something.

The setlist continued to showcase the new album, which has an edgier, freer sound, with the album-opener Star-Crossed Citizens, before Deja Vu.

The rest of the band then left the stage, leaving Paul to his acoustic self - where he delivered the cover of Stop! by Sam Brown - which is stunning!  A sing-a-long moment, although often reluctant from the second sold-out night of this tour, in order to hear that voice pain over those lyrics.  He continued with the new Deep Sea Divers on his own, also.

The band returned for a song about the culture of inheritance, as Paul introduced The Kids Will Get The Money, before Cigarettes & Suitcases.

Paul was chatty, and the band seemed like they were enjoying playing live together again.  He told storied, and joked with the crowd that we were so polite and listening, rather than a raucous rock crowd - which he seemed undecided whether this was a good thing or not, but something characteristic of all SFK gig crowds.

Miracle Cure, with You Only Hide and Pinstripe ended the main set.

The encore consisted of the awesome World Party cover Ship Of Fools and the Electricity, with Powderfinger's Darren Middleton joining the band on stage.

The band finished the night, a close to 2 hour set, with the final track of the new album Begin, and left all music lovers in awe of the show they had just seen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Two of Canada's Big Things

My love of Aussie Big Things is clear, so whilst in Canada I was on the lookout for some similar spectacles of art and culture!  The Canadians do indeed have a truckload of them around the country, which would add to any epic roadtrip.  Alas, I only really came across two in my 3.5 months over there...

The Big Spider, called Maman and is the work of sculptor Louise Bourgeois, can be found stalking the forecourt of the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa.  She's pretty impressive!

I am not sure if I can really count this one, but it meets the criteria - it is roadside and it is bigger than the actual item it is depicting.  The Big Thimble is on a corner of the Fashion District in Toronto.  Along the footpath of this corner is a tape measure winding it's way around the street - which is the thing that caught my eye first at this junction.

Have you come across any in Canada?  Where and what were they (for my to do list for next time!)?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Henry Wagons And Napoleon

Last weekend was the last days of the Napoleon: Revolution To Empire at the National Gallery of Victoria - and to mark the occasion the Gallery was open all night on the Saturday night.  Always one for a novelty experience, Jessie and Heath and I planned to head along - and also enjoy the bonus music put on to wait out the discounted entry after midnight.

Upon driving into town, and scoring what I thought was a dream park, I had a police car screech in behind me.  I could see there was a booze bus set up ahead in the street I had parked, but didn't think anything of it until I got out and was faced with two officers.  I had pulled up short, they said, and so they wanted to do a drug screen right there in the middle of the street.  Sadly for the good cop, bad cop routine, I was too clean, after spending the day doing nothing but study - they didn't really believe that I was going to the Gallery at that hour - their loss!

I met Nicole and Mary inside, who had toured the exhibition already, and had a table stage-side in The Great Hall.  Jessie and Heath soon joined us too.

Henry Wagons has to be one of the funniest acts going around at the moment - his introduction to each song got a laugh every time, cos his such a funny guy!  Pairing his songs stories with a Napoleon theme he was showcasing his new solo album Expecting Company? 

Billed as a solo show, Henry got members of his band The Wagons up to help him out for songs, and then also The Nymphs for pairing vocals.  With songs and stories about Unwelcome Company and I'm In Love With Mary Magdalene, he enchanted and entertained the very full room.

Look at that roof - what a gorgeous space to play in!

After Henry we lingered to hear the start of the next act, with the intention of moving to the exhibit right on midnight.  But the voice and charisma of the lead of Hiatus Kaiyote had us, and much of the room, mesmorised.  

Once we finally dragged ourselves away from the tunes and entered the exhibit, we were stunned by how very full it was at this hour!  There was a crowd of people at every art and information piece in the first room.

The exhibit started by attempting to draw connections between Napoleon and Australia, through the early exploration of our land from European explorers, and the loose connection of the little commander of the Army and those early voyages to the other side of the world.

A wander through rooms plotted out young Napoleon's military career and rise to fame - with grand and pompous portraits in battle and in uniform.  His marriage to Josephine was also a dominant theme of the exhibit, and her interest in the flora and fauna of Australia kept this loose link going with France.

I started to skip over the panels of reading when Napoleon had his wife's daughter married off to his brother, and other complicated circles of relationships, but rejoined the information to check out the interiors of Malmasion and also the process of coronation and the glamour.  Only one gown has been preserved from the event, and was on display here.

The rise and fall of Napoleon was interesting, of which elements I was unaware of, or had daydreamed during these history lessons at school.  His dumping of Josephine because she did not give him an heir, and his new marriage, and then banishment from French society - all fascinating really.  The picture of the willow tree hanging over Napoleon's original gravesite on the island of St Helena, and the idea that people travelling on the seas to get to Australia stopped here and may have taken a cutting from this tree and then populated the south of Australia with it, was a lasting and lingering thought.  Which reminded me of my first visit to Paris, and seeing his now tomb now on his homeland.

As we left the NGV, and made our way home, I arrived just as the clocks changed automatically to new daylight savings time, making it a late one in the name of art, indeed!  Well worth it though!
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