December 2005

 

 

Home-made candy for the Holidays!

Want home-made candy for the holidays--the kind you wished your mom had made?

Order some hand-made candy from Kimar!

She makes Vanilla Cream Caramels, Chocolate Caramels, Butter Pecan Toffee, Peanut Brittle, Pecan Brittle, Pistachio Brittle, Cashew Brittle, Macadamia Brittle, and Chocolate Peppermint Bark and White Chocolate Bark. 1 lb bags are $13.00 and 1/2 lb bags are $7.00. She hand wraps and beautifully packages the candy herself. (Personally, I love the Vanilla Cream Caramels--they're REALLY good!)

Perhaps you'd like some of her Biscotti? Kimar makes White Chocolate Macadamia, Chocolate Pecan, and Triple Ginger Biscotti. They are $8.00 a bag. And her Sweet-Hot Cocktail Pecans are $10.00 a bag.

Order early, she already has orders for fifty pounds worth!

Her email is scenic@uclink.berkeley.edu

 

 

 

12/1/05

"Changes to Berkeley's landmark status" reports Martin Snapp of the West County Times. "That old building: Is it a 'structure of merit' or is it a landmark? The distinction may seem fine, but Berkeley's planning commission has been unhappy with what it considers the Landmarks Preservation Commission's overuse for years of the designation."

And, Martin Snapp reports, "Berkeley mayor proposes solution to 'landmark' debate--Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates unveiled a compromise proposal on Tuesday to resolve the ongoing impasse between two city commissions over Berkeley's Landmarks Preservation Ordinance."

I've noticed a couple more American flags flying in Potter Creek in the last few days.

 

 

12/2/05

Power went out on this power-block yesterday afternoon for a couple of three hours. After about ten minutes and with a sense that it'd be out for a while, I fired up my Coleman generator--had lights, heat, filtered-air, and a working computer for the duration. PG&E restored power around 4:00 PM. "A fuse" said the lineman as he prepared to climb the poll between 2741 and 2743 8th.

So, . . . it went out because a-PG&E's service is old and inadequate. b-Users are overloading the service. c-Both of the above--it's the same thing. d-None of the above--electricity doen't like storms.

 

"Artisans' holiday sale continues over weekend" writes Fred Dodsworth of the East Bay Daily. "Approximately 1,000 people showed up for Open Studios' first weekend at West Berkeley's Sawtooth Building at Eighth Street and Dwight Way, according to event originator Susan Brooks."

"Chez Panisse at 35" appreciates John Birdsall of the West County Times. "It's the first of a fixed four-course menu on a recent evening in the ground-floor restaurant at Chez Panisse: a little scrappy-looking salad of arugula leaves you can't get from the bulk bin at Whole Foods, mixed with slabs of sauteed porcini mushroom as warm and softly cartilaginous as pieces of ear lobe. Tucked beside them, slices of cured foie gras look immodestly pink and shiny on bits of crisp toast -- they recede like curls of butter on the tongue."

 

"Sheriff appoints his son to key anti-terrorism post" reports Jaxon Van Derbeken of the San Franciso Chronicle. "Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer has appointed his son to a federally funded post in the Sheriff's Department to prepare for and handle terrorist attacks. Larry Plummer, 56, a retired Mountain View police captain who had been working at Cisco Systems Inc., is scheduled to start Monday at his $111,674-a-year job, which is paid for by the Department of Homeland Security."

When Larry Plummer was with Berkeley PD he used to eat at the Buttercup and at the Navonne's across the street. I got to know him as we shared an interest in cars--I still remember his '55 Chevy. After he left Berkeley PD for Mountain View I lost touch, but I'm glad to hear that he's working for his dad.

 

"Black Muslim Bakery has had a long and checkered history" report Meredith May, and Jim Herron Zamora of the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

 

12/4/05

I was working on a story late last night and like a scene from a B movie fell asleep with my head on the desk. I was sleeping lightly when I heard the car door slam. Down here at 1:00AM that's trouble more often than not. As I was waking up I heard the loud voices of a man a woman arguing out in front--mostly a man talking trash. I figure
yelling is alright and their problem, but when I heard the sounds of pushing and shoving and her pleading, I did something stupid. I opened the top of the Dutch-door and in my lowest, angry-voice yelled "What's going on out here?" "We talkin'!" came back a little surprised. "Talk down the street man, you woke me up!" I yelled "an be cool!" The car door slammed again and the car sped away. I closed the door top and went back to my desk. It was time for a glass of wine, it's cold out here in the shop with the heat off.

 

I'd like to thank Morgan for being a more than good neighbor.

Wells Fargo's west- Berkeley business office has a new manager. Denise left for a position in the city.

Pete reports over an inch of rain down here toward the end of the week.

 

"How neighbors see Muslim group--Some perceive Bey's legacy of progressive action overcome by factionalism and recent violence" report Jim Herron Zamora and Meredith May of the San Francisco Chronicle. "In the late '60s, Your Black Muslim Bakery was one of the few businesses that took a chance on a blighted North Oakland neighborhood, offering jobs to ex-cons, fixing run-down storefronts and feeding the hungry. "

"Flew the Co-op--The quiet rebirth of a co-op on UC Berkeley's south side"
writes Sam Whiting of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Hillegass-Parker co-op has wide marble steps at the entry, perfect for the stoop sitting that is incumbent upon all college students in Berkeley. But the residents aren't allowed to hang around in front, and it is Lauren MacKinnon's job to enforce it. Tough duty, that, for a mild-mannered graduate student of ethics. "

 

 

12/7/05

Geralyn emails about her Sweetie

"Aloha kakou!

I just wanted to let you know the the Northern California Luthiers Association just opened its exhibit, 'Where do guitars come from?', at the Berkeley Arts Commission's windows on Addison St., across from the Berkeley Rep.

It's an educational and informational exhibit on the making of guitars. Since Peter's involved, there's also a delightful section on the 'ukulele. A braguinha and a rajao, predecessors of the uke, are also on display.

The show ends on 15 Jan 06. I hope you all get a chance to see it!

Mele Kalikimake, Hau'oli Makahiki hou to all!
Geralyn Ke'olani Hurney
www.pohakuukulele.com"

 

The silos at the former asphalt company on 9th and Ashby have been razed!

 

"Drayage Building Struggle Ends With Sale" reports Richard Brenneman of our Planet. "The long-running saga of the Drayage is nearing an end with the sale of the West Berkeley building to the development firm Hudson McDonald expected to clear some time next month."

 

Tonight our City Council will consider naming our Old City Hall for Maudelle Shirek.

 

My thoughts for the day.

"Gimmie an old Lefty or Righty any day--you never no where those damn Liberals stand!"

You don't hav'ta be Freak or even a Geek to want a park in Potter Creek

 

 

 

 

A Richmond Ramblers M. C. reader sent this holiday recipe.

"This is a wonderful recipe, and it's just in time for the Holidays. Enjoy!

With the holidays coming, here's a fruit cake recipe that will help
take the stress out of this normally stressful time.

Ingredients:
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups dried fruit
1 tsp. salt
1 cup brown sugar
3 ounces lemon juice
1 cup of nuts
vodka

First, sample the vodka to check for freshness. Take a large bowl.
Check the vodka again to be sure it is of the highest quality.

Repeat.

Turn on the electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter in a large fluffy
bowl.
Add water, eggs and 1 tsp. sugar and beat again.

Make surr the vodca is still OK. Cry another tup. Turn off mixers.
Chuck in the cup of dried fruitt or something.
Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit gets struck on the beaterers, pry it loose with a
drewscriver.

Sample the vodka to check for tonsistancity. Next, sniff 2 cups of
salt. Or . . . Who cares? Check the vodka. Now sniff the lemon juice
and strain nuts.
Add one Table.

Spoon.
Of sugar. Whatever.
Grease the oven.
Turn the cake ttin 350 degrees.
Don't forget to beat off the turner.
Whip the bowl out the window.
Check the vidka again.

Ah, . . . forget it. Nobody likes fruitcake anyway."

 

 

There are many artists and crafts people in Potter Creek. They are now having open studios. Check them out. Then buy something!

Our firehouse -- B.F.D. Fire Station 1 -- collects gifts for children during these Holidays. The firehouse is at 2442 8th Street and you can drop off gifts there anytime. You might also drop off something for our firemen and firewomen.

 

Some years ago, my friend Takane Eshima gave me a copy of the book Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor. The author is ex-Oakland Tribune reporter/photographer, Robert B. Stinnett. The book's thesis is that it wasn't the Japanese who were sneaky about Pearl Harbor, it was us. Although his case that FDR knowingly let Pearl Harbor happen in order to get America into war is not fully made, it seems clear Roosevelt finessed us into World War II.

 

 

 

 

12/9/05

Architect, Jim Novosel emails about his 2817 8th Street project

Without too much architectural, planning language bs, I want to outline to you why I feel this project should be supported from a neighborhood perspective. It mostly goes to size and style, i.e., the project's size is reasonable and significantly less than what the zoning rules would allow, and the building looks like it belongs in the neighborhood.

Consider:

1. The project is only 4 units whereas 6 units could be built.
2. The project is 6,228 square feet of building whereas nearly 11,000
square feet could be built. The zoning rules would allow a developer to
construct a project that could have 1 1/2 times the square footage of
its land size, where as our project is only .85 of its land size.
3. The project is two stories in the front and rear, and three only in
its center. A full 3 stories could be constructed across the property.
4. The style of the buildings fit the neighborhood's scale and is
"friendly" to the historic look of adjacent homes. Our front unit has an
entry door and living room on the street level that faces the
neighborhood similar to the older adjacent residences. The recent
projects at 8th and Pardee, though well designed in the "high
architecture" style, are closed off and have little street connection to
the existing neighborhood context.

To think that in most Berkeley developments, the zoning envelopment is being pushed by developers to have bigger and denser projects than would be allowed by the zoning rules. Here, the Potter Creek Neighborhood is
looking at a housing project in reverse of that trend.

Thank you, Jim Novosel. 510.420.1484

 

Rick Auerbach by Ron Penndorf

 

 

 

Geralyn Hurney's photo of the Northern California Luthiers Association exhibit

The Northern California Luthiers Association has opened its exhibit, 'Where do guitars come from?', at the Berkeley Arts Commission's windows on Addison St., across from the Berkeley Rep. It's an educational and informational exhibit on the making of guitars. There's also a delightful section on the 'ukulele. A braguinha and a rajao, predecessors of the uke, are also on display.

The show ends on 15 Jan 06. CHECK IT OUT!

 

 

I'm told that Scharffen Berger is now installing new equipment and planning new product--thanks to Hershey capital.

 

One of the Buttercup favorites in the '70s, were Granny Fenster cookies. Thought to be from a relative of mine, in fact, their recipe was found by manager, Mary Guenther in a 1940s Wisconsin Gas and Electric Cook Book--the Gas Company's. Further confusing their origin, during one of the first bakes, Haley, unknown to me, taped a large handwritten sign to my back reading GRANNY FENSTER

Granny Fenster Cookies

pre heat oven to 375

1 cup Butter (2 sticks)
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Raspberry Jam, Dickinson's seedless (sometimes strawberry is used)
2 cups fairly finely chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks and vanilla. Gradually add flour and salt until blended. refrigerate 1 hr.
Shape into 1" balls, roll in beaten egg whites (left over from the yolks used in cookies), then roll in chopped pecans. Place on lightly oiled cookie sheet, (I use parchment paper, you can use nonstick spray also) about 2" apart, gently make indentation.
Bake 5 minutes, remove from oven, you may need to press the indentation again, fill with jam and bake another 10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen

 

"Berkeley refuses to close Derby street for ballfield" reports Martin Snapp of the West County Times."The Berkeley school board struck out in its attempt to persuade the City Council to close Derby Street in order to build a new baseball diamond for the high school."

 

 

12/13/05

Andrew and Kerstin's Party

 

From Da Boss' December report

Mayor Bates Launches Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Effort
I led the successful effort at the Alameda County Conference of Mayors to create a regional greenhouse gas reduction plan last month. The effort, which is being done in partnership with KyotoUSA and the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), will guide city efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses and provide a model for other regions to follow.

Work Continues on Revisions to City's Landmark Ordinance
After four years of discussion at the Landmarks Commission and another year at the Planning Commission, the City Council is now discussing revisions to the City's landmarks ordinance in an effort to bring it into compliance with state law and address other concerns. I recently submitted a preliminary proposal to bridge the differences between the Planning Commission and Landmarks Commission proposals. The Council will take up the discussion again in January and has tentatively scheduled a public hearing for February.

Update on Derby Street Playing Fields
For years the community has been discussing the development of multi-use playing fields and a regulation size baseball field on the School District's property at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Derby Street. This has been a volatile and complicated issue involving neighbors, sports field users, the Farmers Market and two jurisdictions - the School District and the City. I support a phased approach to developing playing fields. For the first phase, the School District has already completed design and costing for a multi-purpose field for soccer, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey and a practice infield for baseball. This scenario does not require closing Derby Street and BUSD has sufficient funds in the current construction budget to begin. For the second phase, I have recommended the district examine closing Derby Street to allow a full regulation baseball diamond. The City Council unanimously forwarded this recommendation to the school district.

 

Our Old City Hall will be re-named in Ms. Maudelle Shirek's honor.

 

"Shadi Christmas sculptures to reappear in El Cerrito" writes Martin Snapp of the West County Times. "El Cerrito's most cherished holiday tradition will receive its annual unveiling Tuesday when the Shadi sculptures return to their traditional spot at the corner of Moeser and Seaview. Firefighters from the El Cerrito Fire Department will begin hauling them up the hill at 8:30 a.m., and everything should be in place by noon."

 

 

12/15/05

Sweet potatoes are not yams. A sweet potato and a yam are two completely different plant species. True yams were brought to this country from Africa and are not grown in the United States on a commercial basis. Their flesh is white and not sweet at all. Occasionally a well-stocked Latin market may have a few yams, but generally they are difficult to locate. Louisiana and East Texas growers like to call their product yams in order to distinguish their potatoes from those grown in the north, a marketing technique that is confusing. And some canned sweet potatoes may be labeled yams, further complicating the issue.

SWEET POTATO PIE
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 cup cooked sweet potato
2 eggs
1 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust, chilled
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and nutmeg in mixer bowl. Add the half-and-half, sweet potato, eggs and butter, one at a time, beating on medium speed about 30 seconds after each ingredient is added. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until filling is firm on the sides and just barely shakes in the middle. Cool on a wire rack. The pie may be served warm or cold and yields 8 servings.

 

Certainly not a sweet potato

but a sweetie--Milo is 1 year old

 

 

"West Berkeley's Silent Majority Wants a Grocery Store" writes Christine Staples in Our Planet. "Welcome to my neighborhood. We live in the block just east of San Pablo Avenue. We describe each other's houses based on their "S.P. Factor"-N. and her husband and 2-year-old, they're as close as you can be to San Pablo, so they have the highest S.P. factor. They mostly deal with the hookers. L. and her husband and 2-year-old live up the block, where the issue is more the drug dealers and the midnight 'donuts.' Me, I live in the middle of the block with my husband and 5-year-old; I call about domestic violence and gunshots. The east side of San Pablo is the 'tony"' side; one block to the west is where things really get exciting."

My neighborhod Potter Creek, is according to Ms Staples "where things really get exciting." I ABSOLUTELY agree, AND many of my neighbors want a grocery store.

 

"BERKELEY--Theft of disabled children's customized bikes discovered. Nonprofit's entire fleet of 30 vanished from storeroom" reports Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Dozens of disabled kids lost an exhilarating link to freedom -- and a hallmark of childhood -- when thieves stole about 30 of their specially-crafted bicycles from a locked storage room in Berkeley. The bicycles, which were owned by a Berkeley nonprofit called Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program, were snatched from the north end of Aquatic Park, where the children often rode with their able-bodied families and friends."

 

 

12/20/05

Pete reports 2.9 inches of rain Saturday/Sunday morning and 1.4inches Sunday/Monday morning.

 

The former APOC "tin-shed" has an "spilled" asphalt product all along its west side at ground-level and running down into the ground.

 

"Strong job growth in the East Bay" reports George Avalos of the West County Times.

 

  "It's hard to imagine a worthier cause than the Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program in Berkeley. For almost three decades, BORP has provided recreation activities for a population that previously had been left out -- the disabled" writes Martin Snapp of the West County Times. Read the full story here.

 

12/24/05

Pete's Potter Creek rain totals.

Tuesday/Wednesday morning, .9 inch; Wednesday/Thursday morning.4 inch; Thursday/Friday morning 1 inch. This week since Sunday, we've had about 7 inches. My belief is that the water table is now at the surface--the many small sink holes in our Potter Creek surface streets are allowing the water to drain directly into the soil instead of running off into our sewers.

 

Advance Heli Welders on 8th and Pardee, one of Potter Creeks oldest manufactures, is moving out at the end of January 2006--the property to then be sold. Figures between 2 million and 3 million are heard. Marvin sold his 2700 St building to Elizabeth Grossman, a Potter Creek business person. The asking price was just over $700,000. And Kava is reported to have paid $650,000 for the lot and its structures in the 2800 block of 8th Street just north of Hustead's. We definitely ain't in Kansas anymore.

 

Judi Quan emails that Cost Plus has a 20% off sale on People's Tea.

 

Our Rick Auerbach has a photo-feature in the 2006 Audubon Water's Edge calender. The February photo is his Makena Beach, Hawaii shot. He has allowed me to scan it for my January 2006 graphic. Rick also will allow me to scan and upload his a-pair-of-hummingbird-chicks photo--a marvelous effort.

And our activist Rick is also now being paid for his WEBIAC work--a tireless effort.

While talking with Rick the other night I reminded myself that I haven't posted anything From My Log for a month and a half--lots of stuff comin' up!

 

Deborah Byrd reports in the West County Times "Berkeley artisans turn out to showcase wares--Telegraph Avenue's holiday street fair is a regular seasonal event that celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year. Not even rainy weather can discourage people from coming out to sample the wares at a plethora of craft and arts booths. Every year, the city closes Telegraph Avenue to traffic. The area between Dwight and Bancroft becomes the scene of a vibrant street f It's a chance for the distinctive Berkeley neighborhood to show off its attractions. Craft sellers who are regulars on Telegraph turn out for the yearly event, but many other artists make an appearance just once a year for the event. The fair will continue today and Saturday. The hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m."

Rick will be selling his beautiful photos there--CHECK IT OUT!

 

"ZAB Gives Green Light To San Pablo Ave. Condos" reports Richard Brenneman of Our Planet. "After years of wrangling, heated neighborhood opposition and repeated design revisions, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) cleared the way Monday for a five-story condominium complex at 2700 San Pablo Ave."

 

So Da Boss invented the Transit Village, eh? Hell, if I could invent The Collectible LP, I guess His Honor could have invented the Transit Village. Read Our Planet Richard Brenneman's version here.

 

 

12/25/05

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

 

 

 "Thoroughfare becomes hip place to hang out" reports Dorothy Vriend of the West County Times about Our Ave.
"For many, San Pablo Avenue has long been thought of as a street full of auto body shops and grocery stores with bars on the windows. But a transformation is under way along a stretch of the busy thoroughfare. You can now eat upscale on San Pablo, listen to opera on a Sunday or buy expensive lighting fixtures for your home renovation there." Great photo of Arturo in the newspaper version!

 

"Bay Area feels housing 'pause'" writes Rick Jurgens of the West County Times. "A nationwide slowdown in the sales of new houses sent a ripple through a Bay Area housing market already made skittish by rising interest rates and concerns about the sustainability of recent double-digit annual rates of appreciation."

 

After a survey-ride through much of Berkeley last night the San Pablo Park neighborhood gets my nomination for BEST holiday lights!

 

 

12/26/05

Pete's Potter Creek rain totals.

Saturday/Sunday morning.1 inch; Sunday/Monday morning 1.25 inches.

More information about our current weather conditions than is good for you can be found at www.wunderground.com

Jesse Hamlin of the San Francisco Chronicle writes "Bruce Jenkins is the only writer who could begin a book about his old man this way: 'Frank Sinatra once told me that he and my father were the two saddest men. I only knew the half of it. But then, everyone knew about Sinatra.' Jenkins, the graceful Chronicle sportswriter, knew little about the inner life and colorful past of his quiet, upbeat father, Gordon Jenkins, the late composer, arranger and conductor whose sweeping string arrangements for Sinatra, Judy Garland and other stellar singers are steeped in romantic despair and longing. The sportswriter never knew the source of that sadness -- or, for that matter, the joyously swinging music his father and mother made on live radio in the 1940s -- until he began researching his rich new book, 'Goodbye: In Search of Gordon Jenkins,' published by Berkeley's Frog Ltd." His full appreciation can be read here.

 

 

12/29/05

Wha'na change the direction of development in Potter Creek? Simple, change the zoning in the mixed-use area. Right now--correct me if I'm wrong--here you can develop a site to 150 percent of its area. In residential you can develop to 80 percent. It's a developers dream come true! Hell, I'm thinking of developing and, instinctively, I hate the sons-of-bitches--that is, until my head kicks and I realize that like any group there are good developers and bad.

 

Pete's Potter Creek rain total for Tuesday/Wednesday morning is .9 inch.

 

Yesterday, I needed sandbags so went to BFD Firehouse No. 1. They had them and loaded them. And sent me on my way. BIG points for the men at Firehouse No.1.

 

"Air quality district reaches settlement with Pacific Steel"
reports Alan Lopez of the West County Times. "Pacific Steel Casting of Berkeley has reached a settlement with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District over odorous emissions that have long been a source of complaint among nearby residents. As part of the settlement, Pacific Steel will be required to install a $2 million carbon filtration system on one of its three plants. In addition, the company will pay $17,500 in fines and develop an odor-management plan approved by the air district for the entire facility."

 

Pete Hurney, my ukulele making neighbor, should be WEBIAC's Poster Guy of 2005-6. In addition to making beautiful ukes for a living for quite a while, Pete has a state-of-the-art shop with tools and machinery some of which he's invented. (Dad was a prof at MIT. Something about the apple.) He also has a spray booth with an elaborate and efficient filter system, a sealed drying room, and a shop-wide, state-of-the-art system for vacuuming up and collecting sawdust--you won't find much dust or irritants of any kind around his facility. Just beautiful ukes. ALL MY OTHER manufacturing neighbors could learn A LOT from him. (And Pete's cute in an Irish sort of way.)

Checkout Pete's website at www.pohakuukulele.com

 

 

12/30/05

 

"Citizen groups fight over shoreline" reports Alan Lopez of the West County Times. "Brian Parker expected no more than 50 people to show up for the presentation on development at Golden Gate Fields. But about double that number came to the Dec. 1 meeting, most signing in as opponents of putting businesses and housing on what are now the Albany racetrack's northwest parking lots. "

 

Check out Meredith May's informative talk with Saleh Khalaf--the 9 year old Iraqi boy injured in an ordnance accident.

"Saleh lost an eye, his right hand, and most of the fingers on his left hand. His intestines were blown out; in the first weeks after the accident, his abdomen is held together by a surgical dressing. Chronicle reporter Meredith May and photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice covered Saleh's inspiring journey in a series called Operation Lion Heart, which won numerous awards, including the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. Just weeks after the surgery, Saleh felt well enough to visit The Chronicle and podcast with Meredith." The sfgate page is here. Meredith's podcast interview can be downloaded through the link toward the page-bottom.

 

 

12/31/05

Pete's Potter Creek rain guage showed 3.2 inches for Friday/Saturday morning.


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