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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Pluto 2015Greetings, fellow Earthlings! ๐Ÿ™‚

You might have heard yesterday that history was made, especially for us here in the United States, as a NASA spacecraft successfully passed through Pluto’s solar system and was able to take some neat photos of the planet. The U.S. is the first nation to have reached Pluto (although no one has actually landed on it – yet), and we have now reached and photographed every planet in our system. Yay!

While we have a cool picture of Pluto to admire for now, it will take about 16 months for measurements of the dwarf planet to be transmitted back to us. A few days ago, however, it has been determined that the planet is “somewhat larger than many prior estimates,” according to a mission update that was issued earlier this week.

In the meantime, we humans are having a bit too much fun with the photo shot of Pluto. Here are a few of my favorites!

Pretty much. *_*

Pretty much. *_*

Look! It's Pluto's big ol' noggin! :D

Look! It’s Pluto’s big ol’ noggin! ๐Ÿ˜€

D'awwwwwwwww! I love this one the most, I think.

D’awwwwwwwww! I love this one the most, I think.

Oh, geez. I just. I just can't even. PLUTO, C'MON! Stop making me cry! :'(

Oh, geez. I just. I just can’t even. PLUTO, C’MON! Stop making me cry! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

I thought that, in light of this excitement, it would be fun to share a few fun facts about Pluto. Read up on this strange little rock here!

*Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February 18, 1930 – he was only 24 years old!

*Pluto was classified as a planet in the same year that it was discovered, but it was demoted to a dwarf planet. In order to be a planet, one must do 3 of the following: orbit the sun, be more or less rounded, and “clear the neighborhood” around the orbit. Pluto does the first two, but it crosses Neptune’s orbit and those of some other objects in the Kuiper belt, which NASA frowns upon for planet-obtaining status. :/

*Think that astronomers named the planet Pluto? Nope! Many people sent in cool suggestions for names such as Cronus, Persephone, Erebus, Atlas, and Prometheus, but 11-year-old Venetia Burney, who suggested Pluto, won out. She said that it should be named Pluto because it’s so dark and far away, much like the Roman god of the underworld. The planet was officially called Pluto on May 1, 1930, thanks to Venetia!

*Pluto has 4 known moons as of yet!
-Charon: the ferryman of Hades
-Nix: the Greek goddess of night and darkness
-Hydra: the 9-headed serpent who guards Hades
-S/2011 P1: Someone didn’t get very creative here. NASA, I am disappoint. -_-

*Speaking of moons, Charon, the largest of Pluto’s moons, appears to stand still in Pluto’s sky because they’re constantly orbiting each other. In fact, the same sides of Pluto and Charon always face each other. So you could say that they’re having an eternal dance together (or an eternal staring contest!).

*It takes about 8 minutes for sunlight to reach us here on Earth. It takes 5 HOURS for that to happen on Pluto! :O

*Pluto takes FOREVER to orbit around the sun. We’re talking 248 Earth years here! C’mon, you slowpoke, you!

*Pluto is the only known dwarf planet with an atmosphere! However, that atmosphere is very thin and would be toxic for us humans to breathe. Boo. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

*Tired of feeling bloated all the time? Just visit Pluto! A person who weighs, say, 100 pounds on Earth would weigh the least on Pluto than any other planet at 6.7 pounds. It’s just, well, you probably won’t be able to breathe. Priorities, right?

*Pluto is a goofball. For reals. It doesn’t just spin in the opposite direction as Earth (that would be called a retrograde rotation) – it also rotates on its side. That means that it has extreme seasonal variation! At its solstices, 25% of its surface is in permanent daylight and another 25% is shrouded in permanent darkness. Let’s take a moment and be thankful that we experience so many great seasons here on earth. ๐Ÿ™‚

I know that science says that Pluto is a dwarf planet now, but Pluto will always be a planet in my heart! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I lurve you, Plutooooo!

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Credit given to Brawl In The Family

Credit given to Brawl In The Family

For as long as I’ve known, Nintendo and its many fun games have been a huge part of my life. From receiving my very first system when I was a little kid for Christmas (the SNES – had to share it with my big brother) to the endless tournaments and Smash Brothers battles with my friends after college, Nintendo had shaped my childhood and has given me the best friends I could ever ask for.

To say that I was sad to hear that Satoru Iwata had passed away this weekend is an understatement. I’ll admit, though – I don’t know a lot about the behind-the-scenes of Nintendo; I just play the games. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not appreciative of all the hard work, creativity, and ingenuity that Nintendo and its many wonderful people possess. I learned, though, that many of the games I grew up with were thanks, in one way or another, to Iwata-san. Hearing that the person who had his hands in many different games I love had died shook me, my husband, and my many gaming friends.

Last night, I started thinking about all the games that Iwata-san touched and the memories I have because of those games. Here are some of my favorite games/memories:

Not sure who the artist is, but this is an amazing work of art. Totally teared up seeing this!

Not sure who the artist is, but this is an amazing work of art. Totally teared up seeing this!

EarthBound (SNES) – I remember seeing this nifty game in Best Buy a loooong time ago – back when it was in a huge box, came with a player’s guide, and was only $5. It looked so neat that my mom decided to buy one copy for me and one for my two cousins to play. I mean, c’mon, you could walk around all these different towns on this big quest with your friends (whom you could name!!), eat take-out pizza, and fight quirky baddies. What’s not to love? I fell hard in love with that game, even as a kid, and it’s still one of my top favorites, hands down. From Onett to Magicant and everything in between, there isn’t anything about this game that I don’t love. In fact, I wind up pulling out the ol’ SNES copy and playing it once a year or so.

Kirby (several platforms) – I know Iwata-san didn’t create Kirby, but he sure was a backer of him and helped create several games featuring the adorable pink puffball, including Kirby’s Dreamland. My personal favorite was and probably still is Kirby Super Star. I just had so much fun jumping around, flying, turning into other cute little characters after you would eat different baddies, and kicking King Dedede’s big ol’ booty! Kirby is simply adorable, and I’m so glad that these games were made!

Again, I don't know who the artist is, but I love this work of art!Pokรฉmon (Game Boy and DS/3DS, etc.) – Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a Pokรฉfanatic, and I have been for many years. Heck, I used to get totally made fun of for it back in junior high when it first came out (okay, and high school, too). I will say – and this makes me kind of a pathetic Pokรฉfanatic – I don’t know all the “new” Pokรฉmon, but I still know quite a few and have many favorites (Jolteon, Arcanine, Raichu, and Houndoom top the list for me!). In fact, my husband and I like Pokรฉmon so much that we wound up buying Heart Gold and Soul Silver for each other as wedding presents (he got Heart Gold, by the way :P).

Mario Kart Double Dash (GC) – You want to hear something lame? DO YOU?! HUH!?!? Well, here it is! There was at least a summer if not an entire year that I would play through Double Dash at least once a day back when I was in college. I’d sit down on my bed, turn on my GameCube, throw on some Genesis, and race, race, race! Needless to say, I totally p’wned everyone that dared to challenge me at the game. >=) Who is my go-to duo, you ask? Baby Mario/Luigi and Paratroopa. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC) – I am a HUGE Zelda fan, but I think my favorite one has to be Twilight Princess. It was an absolutely excellent game with lots of great challenges, boss fights, character development, and so much more. I mean, I loved the game so much that I named my adorable little beagle Midna, after all! ๐Ÿ™‚ Weirdly enough, back in college when I was first playing this game, I started becoming more and more curious about wolves because of Wolf Link. That was the start of my current wolf obsession (which has taken on a life of its own as I volunteer and sometimes write about the Endangered Wolf Center!).

I'm currently obsessed with this game, and this drawing makes me feel all the feels. If you know who created this, please let me know, and I'd be happy to give credit where credit is due.

I’m currently obsessed with this game, and this drawing makes me feel all the feels.

Super Smash Brothers franchise – Oh, my gosh. So many great memories. SO MANY. From beating everyone up with the hammer to Bowser-ciding (or Kirby-ciding) people and constantly shocking opponents with Pikachu’s electrical shocks, this game has been a source of great laughter for my friends and me. One time, my friends and I frustrated our typically jovial and benign friend Aaron so much at Smash that he took off his shoe and chucked it across the room on campus, which subsequently (and accidentally) hit the plug and shut the game off. Needless to say, he was absolutely horrified, and we were stunned (at first) and then started laughing ourselves silly. We still will never let him live it down. >=)

There are so many other games that I love – these are just the ones I could think of off the bat. I’m not too sure what’s in store for the future of Nintendo, but I’m sure things will be okay, and I’m definitely grateful to have so many fantastic games be made and released. From everything I’ve read, it sounded like Iwata-san was dedicated to making games that would bring joy to people’s lives, and I really think that he has succeeded. If you’re still stunned by the news and aren’t sure what to do, try not to be too sad. I really doubt he would want to see us gamers like that. Instead, pick up a few of your favorite games, old or new, and pop them in the system for old time’s sakes. Play a game that totally delights you and makes you happy, no matter how crappy your day might be. Heck, have a friendly little tournament and invite your closest buddies over to play! I don’t personally know, but I like to think that Iwata-san would want it this way.

This happened this morning - a rainbow over Nintendo's headquarters in Kyoto. It's like Iwata-san has his very own Rainbow Road taking him up to Heaven! I bet he has plenty of red shells and bananas with him. :)

This happened this morning – a rainbow over Nintendo’s headquarters in Kyoto. It’s like Iwata-san has his very own Rainbow Road taking him up to Heaven! I bet he has plenty of red shells and bananas with him. ๐Ÿ™‚

So once again, thank you so much, Iwata-san, for all of your hard work and dedication. These games have given me some fantastic moments in my life – they’ve helped me escape from some of my problems, even if for a few minutes, and they’ve helped me find the most wonderful friends that any girl could ask for. I hope that your spirit is at rest and that you are enjoying Heaven.

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If you know me, you know that I hate summer. It’s my least favorite season of all. I don’t like being hot, and I hate being chased by inquisitive, brave insects (especially those doggone wasps!). Don’t get me wrong, I love having longer periods of light, but I really just hate the hot, sticky days of summer and all those mosquitoes just waiting to bite my poor body.

Instead of grumping the whole time through summer, I try to see the positives. Summer is the time when I can hang out with my friends in a local park while my husband plays onstage with the town’s municipal band. It’s great dress-wearing weather, and I have more ability to walk outside, especially once the sun starts going down (and not freeze, that is).

Music is a super important facet of my life. Oftentimes, songs will evoke certain imagery in my head (and I try to draw them out) or the reverse will happen – an event that occurred while that song or band was playing will imprint itself on the song, and it will always have an association with that song. That’s happened quite a bit, even in the summer.

With that, here are the best 25 summertime songs for me (arranged alphabetically by title):

“A” – Barenaked Ladies: Simple, simplistic, witty, and fun. This song makes me think of driving on roads surrounded by cornfields with the windows down, for some reason.

Always” – The Boxer Rebellion: This band is actually a pretty new find for me, so I’m probably going to associate a lot of their stuff with late spring/early summer (that tends to happen to me, really!). “Always” is a speedy little song that is just perfect for jet-setting out on the interstate with no true destination in mind.

Behind the Lines/Duchess” – Genesis: Okay, this is actually two songs, but for me, they’re inseparable. I actually remember the date I bought Duke – July 16, 2003, just one day before my nephew’s birth. I buried my head in my headsets the night before, listening to these first 2 songs while reading my first volume of Yu-Gi-Oh! I took my portable CD player with me when my parents drove me to the hospital, waiting for my nephew to be born. I can’t NOT think of that kid without hearing these songs, especially “Duchess” – that song was playing when we were told he arrived. Aside from that, “Behind The Lines” is the perfect song for a beautiful, sunny summer day, and “Duchess” encapsulates the rainy, stormy summer days that grace us in June and July.

Dodo/Lurker” – Genesis: I was obsessed with this song for probably half a decade, so much so that I desperately tried to write out the parts of the band so my high school band could play it in concert before I graduated. I didn’t succeed – I only got to the trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and a little bit of flute, and that was it. Still, this song makes me think about driving through town with the windows down with me blaring it and singing out the lyrics as loud as possible!

Effington” – Ben Folds: My husband and I have a fun little tradition – every time we pass Effingham, Illinois, we play this song. We don’t go by there very often, but it’s fun every time we do! Also, I don’t particularly want to live, die, or be buried in Effingham, just so you know. ๐Ÿ˜›

Feeling That Way” – Journey: There are a lot of Journey songs that evoke thoughts and memories of summer, but this one does it for me every time. It’s fun, energetic, and light-hearted, and it’s also my favorite Journey song, so it takes the cake!

I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” – Genesis: Peter Gabriel-era fans, rejoice! This one made the mark! There’s just something about this song that makes me think about the oppressive summer heat of July and August and doing whatever goofy thing you can to take your mind off the heat. (Also, the reason that Gabriel-era Genesis doesn’t pop up here much is because I associate a lot of those albums with winter! I love both eras of the group unconditionally. ^_^)

If You Love Me” – Steven Page: My best friend James (he’s the guy who helped me get this blog started) put Steven Page’s solo album on at work a few summers ago in June. Once I heard this song come on, I was hooked! There’s just something about this song that makes me happy. It’s energetic and fun, and it just makes me want to get up and dance whenever I hear it, no matter how crappy my day is! ๐Ÿ™‚

Keep It Dark” – Simon Collins: I discovered Simon’s music in the summer of 2007 and haven’t looked back. This song, a remake of an old Genesis song from 1982, is powerful, driving, and fierce, and I LOVE it! (By the way, he’s the son of Phil Collins, and he’s AWESOME! Check out his stuff!)

Me & Sarah Jane” – Genesis: Perfect for a drive during the summer nights or on a rainy summer day. There’s just something about it!

No Reply At All” – Genesis: There’s a reason that there’s quite a few Genesis songs on here (and from mostly 2 albums). One summer night in 2002, I was sitting in my room playing Yoshi’s Island on the SNES with the radio on. Then this song came on, and I remember thinking, “Hey, I like this! Sounds like Phil Collins…” And the announcer said it was from Genesis. I had liked Genesis as a kid but was only familiar with Invisible Touch and We Can’t Dance. This was the night I started getting into the band on my own and really delving deeply into different albums!

Out On the Playa” – Simon Collins: Found this gem back in the summer of ’07! It just has a fun beachy vibe to it. Heck, even the word “beach” comes up in the title (Playa is Spanish for “beach”)!

Paradise” – Coldplay: I’m not really a fan of Coldplay, but I like this song! It takes me back to the time I visited the Upper Peninsula and drove through Paradise, MI (and saw my first peek of Lake Superior up close and personal!). It just makes me want to go north whenever I hear it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pickerel Lake” – Sufjan Stevens: A fun, breezy-feeling tune! Okay, the lyrics might not be very fun, but the music sounds very carefree!

Portugal” – Walk The Moon: Not my favorite Walk The Moon song (I like “Work This Body” and “Tightrope” best, thank you very much), but this song definitely sounds like it was just made for a hot night on the town in the summer! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!” – Sufjan Stevens: I know a lot of people rave about “Chicago,” and rightfully so. It’s a gorgeous song! But many forget about another beautiful song – this one, which was loosely based off one of Sufjan’s experiences at camp when he was a kid. It just makes me think of standing in a field of prairie grass in the late afternoon in Northern Illinois. And because I’m terrified of wasps, I try really hard not to think about it and focus on the music instead. ๐Ÿ™‚ (By the way, the live renditions of this song are out of this world and full of hilarious banter and stories. Check out my favorite here!)

Promises” – The Boxer Rebellion: From the first few measures, this song stole my heart. It has a lively, wind-swept feeling to it, and it just makes me think of running in the summertime evenings… which, I never run, but it just has a real carefree feeling to it all. Just drop your worries, make different promises, and run, run, run, run, run. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sleeping Bear, Sault Ste. Marie” – Sufjan Stevens: Okay, this might not be very fair because I visited these 2 beautiful places 3 summers ago. My husband and I totally blared both songs when we arrived at our destinations, and I will never forget the beautiful sand of Sleeping Bear and Traverse City beckoning me to come and stay a while, nor will I forget the fascinating locks of Sault Ste. Marie. I can’t wait to see those places again!

The entirety of Smallcreep’s Day by Mike Rutherford: For those not in the know, Mike Rutherford was the guitarist/bassist (depending on songs and personnel) for Genesis. He wrote an album called Smallcreep’s Day – a friend of mine sent it my way in the summer of 2008, when I was just started living on my own and was preparing my lesson plans for my first year of teaching. I drove to Springfield, my state’s capital, a lot that summer with this album blaring out of my car window, so hearing any of the songs on this album makes me think of that time in my life. ^_^

Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel: Want to hear a funny story? NO? Well, tough! When I was about 5, I heard this song come on the car radio when my mom and I were running errands around a neighboring town, and I really liked what I heard. The rhythm was fun and different for some reason (I would learn later that it’s in 7/4), and even though I had know idea what the guy was singing, I just loved it and waited for it to come on the radio all the time, which wasn’t too often, sadly. Fast forward to the summer before my sophomore year in college. I was a new Peter Gabriel fan and noticed people talking about how awesome “Solsbury Hill” is. I had never heard of it, so I was curious. I found it online (which was a miracle because this was just before the dawn of YouTube), and I was amazed to hear the song that I adored as a little kid! I immediately ordered it through Borders (*sigh* I miss you, Borders!) and played it in my car all the way back home. I also played it on repeat on my headsets throughout a good portion of the family vacation that summer, so there’s that! Cool, huh? No? Okay, I’ll be quiet. :/

Volcano” – Jupiter One: My buddy James showed me this group last summer, thinking I would like them. He was right! And really, c’mon, with a title called “Volcano,” how can you not think of summer and all things hot?

Watching the Northern Lights” – Barenaked Ladies: This is something I want to do someday. Go up to the Upper Peninsula (or Canada or Alaska), lie down on the ground at night, and watch the northern lights play across the sky. I hope I can do this for real someday!

The West Side” – Phil Collins: So once my mom and I embarked on a road trip to North Carolina to see my brother when I was around 12. When we were driving through West Virginia, Phil’s “Hello, I Must Be Going” album was on, so now I always associate the album, and this song especially, with summertime travels on the highway. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wonโ€™t Be Afraid” – The Cat Empire – I’m not really a fan of this band personally, but I do enjoy this song! It’s fun and breezy – I can kind of see myself chilling by a huge ocean with this song playing in the background.

Which songs remind you of summer? ๐Ÿ™‚

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Midna sitting next to my "Detroit Tigers" baseball plants. :)

Midna sitting next to my “Detroit Tigers” baseball plants. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today is my sweet beagle’s birthday! Midna is now 3 years old today – it’s hard to believe that she’s three already!

Midna was born in a puppy mill three years ago today along with countless other dogs, but luckily, she was rescued by Posh Puppies, a company in St. Louis that is dedicated to saving dogs and finding them “forever homes.” I saw a picture of Midna and her sister online and fell in immediate love, especially with Midna. Her sister, who was a “typical” color of beagle, was already adopted when my husband and I got there the day after I saw them online, which is a shame because I wanted to have “Zelda princess sisters,” haha. But it actually turned out for the best in the end – one beagle is tough as it is!

When we first met Midna, she was timid but loving. She lay on my lap and casually licked my hand as I pet her and held her. She also took to my husband, scooting closer to where he sat and onto his lap. Needless to say, we fell head-over-heels in love and had to adopt her that very day! Within an hour and some paper signing, Midna was finally ours to take home and love on!

Midna right after we adopted her and on her way home! :)

Midna right after we adopted her and on her way home! ๐Ÿ™‚

Since the time of her adoption, Midna has really grown into a fantastic little beagle with a vibrant personality. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that she’s a human trapped in a dog’s body and can understand every single thing that we say or that she hears (as she has timely groans of protest and such to whatever we’re saying). She loves to run, take cool walks, and go on car rides and tries to stalk birds, cats, and squirrels but never will bark at a dog or human. Her only reaction toward people is nothing but unabashed, unbridled happiness. Whenever my parents, my in-laws, or my friends come over to see us, Midna will whine like mad and sometimes howl with joy and give them a ton of kisses whenever she sees them, and eventually, she will wind up curling up and sleeping by that person on the couch or on the ground by them. She is very much a “people dog” and doesn’t care to be left alone, especially for a long time. When I’m home, it’s typical of her to go for a walk with me every day, try to play with me (and subsequently NEVER give up her toy, no matter how much I tug!), and curl up beside me on the couch while I read, play Nintendo, write, draw, or do anything else.

This dog is my best friend, and I know that I could never live without her. I’m so glad we got her almost 3 years ago and that she was rescued in the first place. Though she has been challenging at times, especially to potty train, she is an absolute joy to have around! I hope that she will live a long and happy life with us!

Happy 3rd birthday, beagle baby! ๐Ÿ˜€

(And yes, Midna is named after the Twilight Princess, Midna, in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – one of my favorite video games! Much like the character in the game, Midna is a pretty vociferous little pup. ;))

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Great White SharkI don’t know who took this (and apparently no one else does either), but this person is seriously awesome.

A coworker, who also loves sharks like I do, saw this photo and article and shared it with me, so I thought I would share it with you all!

I know if I saw this happen in front of me, I would be awe-struck and full of wonder. I would probably also faint and find out that I soiled myself. Just saying!

Check it all out here! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Thar she blows! (Photo by Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

Thar she blows! (Photo by Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

Sometimes the world needs something a little different or a little pick-me-up. Strangers having a bad day yearn for something to put a smile on their faces, to help them forget their worries – no matter how briefly.

I would love to see this happen more often somehow!

Conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman created a larger-than-life inflatable rubber ducky, which towers at 6 stories high, and let it set sail into Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor. How awesome is that?!

I didn’t realize until I read about it that this rubber ducky has traveled to 13 different cities in nine countries from places like Brazil to Australia since 2007. I think it’s continuing its journey around the world. I’d love to see it come by my neck of the woods, even if I have to drive to Chicago or Lake Michigan to see it happen (you won’t hear me complaining! ;))!

What do you think about this cool rubber ducky? I don’t know about you, but it definitely put a big ol’ smile on my face. ^_^

Say Hello to My Big Friend!

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Elias and Gabry seem to be all over each other!

Elias and Gabry seem to be all over each other!

I’m not a green thumb or garden nut by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like having houseplants around! They’re bright, cheery living things that produce clean oxygen and also give the room their in more life. I currently have 8 plants – Catcher, Annah, Elias, Gabrielle (Gabry for short), Millie, Robert the Plant, and African Violets #1 and #2 (I have to give them names yet) –ย  after having accidentally killed 3 cacti and a succulent last year (by giving them incorrect, water-retaining soil on accident – rest in peace, Vash, Knives, Meryl, and Rem! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ )

I have two plants whom I’m very fond of (and who sort of sparked my trying out houseplants again) – Purple Passion plant Elias and Queen Anne plant Gabry. They’re named after 2 of my favorite characters in the book series called The Forest of Hands and Teeth (the 2nd book, specifically), and these two characters wind up falling in love near the end.

Well… I sort of have to wonder if this is going on with my two plants. No matter what I do or what position I try to put them in, they always wind up “holding leaves” or touching each other somehow. I have to wonder… are my plants in love?! Maybe they’re just very frond of each other? A-hahahahahahaha…… Okay, I know I’m lame, sorry! v_v’

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