Sunday, 29 May 2011
Who Do You Friend?

I don't having a lot of 'friends' on Facebook. In the days of Friendster, sure, but now, I actually want to add people who I actually interact with.

Just as I'm typing this out, I'm considering going on another un-friend spree (there have been several) and deleting people I don't know or don't interact with. The thing is, while going through my list of 'friends', it has occurred to me that I have so many different relationships with people that it is hard to say who to delete who not to.

Take for example people from high school. There are friends who I'm very close to and interact with a lot, then there are friends whom I treasure yet do not interact with that much, there are people who I still consider friends, and then there are the acquaintances and (presumably) juniors from the prefectorial board. I did consider deleting the last one, but then it dawned on me that I wouldn't want a senior I've added to delete me, either.

So after that I realised that there really needs to be a clear line as to who I delete and who I don't, so for now I'm keeping it as it is until I've figured it out. As you probably know, it's a fine line that's not easily identifiable.

Facebook is definitely one of the ways in which I've noticed a change in myself; I've become much less active on it, preferring to keep some things private, and also because I like to think that I have a fulfilling life offline. I also don't see the need of wishing everyone 'happy birthday' unless I'm very close with them; nor do I see the need to ask people how they're doing because most of the time I don't really care if they're fine or not.

Photo from Easter trip. That's how strong the wind was (I never let my hair go messy outdoors)

Seems very cold-hearted, I know, but I do find it all very superficial. Did you know that if we count all our friends in real life, it only amounts to about 150 at the most? I really don't even see why we would want to add someone as a friend on Facebook even if you've spoken to the person once; it doesn't mean that you'll be striking up a friendship soon.

Heck, I've even met people who've added me (and I thought they did so because they knew me, coz I know them) but later found out that they don't remember me (and I have a good memory, I know who I add and who adds me).

I currently have 400 friends on Facebook. But the ones that I honestly interact with are very few. Less than 100 I would say. Perhaps even less than 50. I know one thing's for sure, though- when I do have an inkling of what determines who I keep as friends on Facebook I will begin deleting friends. It doesn't mean that I don't care about the relationship, it's just that I don't see a relationship to begin with that counts as friendship. Maybe someone would like to create a social network for acquaintances?

What about you? What do you think are criteria for friending people on Facebook?

There's an interesting article, 'The Art of the Unfriend' that's pretty interesting that talks about unfriending people on Facebook. Have a read, let me know what you think!
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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

I know I should be updating by now, but I'm currently swamped with work. It's the last official week of uni (I still have an assignment and an exam in a few weeks) so I should have more time to blog soon.

In the meantime, more trailers!

1. Abduction

2. Trust

3. The Conspirator

P.S. To those of you who haven't figured it out yet and are bored by my trailers posts, this is just my way of jotting down movies that are interesting that I might want to watch in the future.

P.S.2. This has got to be the fastest post published in this blog's history. Gotta get back to work!
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Saturday, 21 May 2011
As Promised, Easter Trip Days 3 & 4

Okay sorry for the long delay! Anyway on the third day we left really early, around 8 in the morning, as Wilson's Promontory is pretty far away.

On the way, we made an unplanned detour at a farm, and had a light breakfast there and saw some farm animals (some cows are huge, by the way- as tall as me, I think). There was also this machine for milking cows which we saw, but didn't have a chance to witness the milking because it only takes place in the evenings.

Dwarf horse

I tried to fend off sleepiness on the road, but failed and so by the time I woke up, we were at this place called Sandy Point and were trying to find out cottage. You see, we had rented an entire cottage (it's really small, just two rooms) at that place, which was about 20 minutes by car away from Wilson's Prom. And as its name suggests, Sandy Point is a beach town.

Finally, we found the extremely cosy and homey Seagull's Cottage, put our things down, and went to the main street where there were a couple of shops, including a 'general store' selling most of the things you might need, from video rentals to groceries. We bought some groceries as we planned to have our own BBQ that night. So after going back once again to put the things in the cottage we finally made the journey to Wilson's Prom. It's a national park that was closed because of the recent floods, and had only reopened for Easter.

The inside of the cottage- look at all the books! I could sit there all day enjoying myself. 

But we made another detour to this town called Yanakie, where we bought some supplies that we'd forgotten we'd need for the BBQ. There were only two shops there, a petrol station and another general store. It was actually really fun and exciting being in rural Australia. It was on the way to Wilson's Prom.

During the bus ride 

The beach

Here I'd suggest that everyone go to a national park, because it was awesome! We wanted to go to this place called Tidal River, and had to park our car at a makeshift carpark (with mobile toilets, too) and take a shuttle bus uphill (the road was damaged see, so for safety reasons they just asked everyone to take the bus). The 20 minute trip was just filled with breathtaking views of nature.

What greeted us at the top was a camping site, and a beach! Very odd combination, I know. But basically that place is where you would go to if you planned to camp out at Wilson's Prom.

The beach, again 

Caused by the floods?

The view of the beach was stunning, too! It was in the middle of nowhere, uphill even, and suddenly there's a beach! It was extremely unexpected. There were quite a number of people there enjoying the sunshine. We stayed for quite some time, took some photos, and finally waited for the bus to go back down as it was evening already.

On the way back, the bus driver actually stopped at one point to let us down to take photos. He was a very funny man and could definitely be a tour guide as well. When we finally reached the car it was getting dark already, and when we got back it was completely dark and getting cold. So what do you expect a couple of cold (or maybe just me), tired and hungry people do? We had an indoor BBQ (thank goodness the BBQ set was electrical). Food was quite good considering the limited resources we had.

On the bus ride back

That night was spend just chilling around, enjoying the fireplace, some TV, some board games, before calling it a night. I for one camped out at the living hall because that was the only place with heating. For me, sleeping on the floor for a night in a heated room was preferable to a bed in a cold room.

The next morning, after having some light breakfast and packing up, we stopped at Yanakie's general store again to get some food for lunch, then headed to Wilson's Prom again.

We started by going for a nature walk. The first stop was this beautiful swampy area (not as swampy as rainforests back home, however) that was on low tide. The view was simply amazing- the rocks, the sea, the trees, and... jellyfish. Yes, jellyfish. A lot of them. They were beached, and hence couldn't go anywhere. You can even see their brains and all!

And seeing that it was the sea, it was extremely windy. You can actually hear the sound of the wind!

Then, we wanted to go uphill again. This time we wanted to walk up to this observatory peak, where we could enjoy the view and have our lunch. When we reached there, we found that that place was closed, although we could go further up to another peak. Since we were already there, we went for it.

 Not at the top yet!

Now, that's the view from the peak! 

I was hungry, and thirsty, and had to spur myself to get to the top, but it was completely worth it. We had to trek such a long way uphill that it seemed to take forever; many times I thought we had reached but as it turned out, it was just a bend and we had to continue. But when we finally reached the top, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was breathtaking, jaw-dropping, stunning, amazing, and many other things.

We had our sandwiches, some chips and just sat there enjoying the breeze and the view. Then, another group came up with a guide, and that guide said that this is the only place in the world where you can see two seas / oceans at once- Pacific and Southern.

One of the seas, taken before I reached the top

The other sea

After staying for perhaps 45 minutes at the top we headed down. Not surprisingly, after having some food the journey down seemed much shorter.

Anyway, by the time we sat back down in the car we were simply exhausted, and didn't want to go to any place requiring us to trek anymore, so we went to this lake.

Here, upon arriving, an old couple greeted us and the husband said that he had spotted a brown snake sunning itself. Apparently, brown snakes are the most venomous type of snake in the world, and had he not have experience he probably would not have spotted it. His wife took a photo, and was very close to aggravating the snake. He told us that since it was hot, the snake would be slower so we would still have a chance to outrun it., What I thought at that time was 'yeah, that's reassuring, thanks' (sarcasm if you didn't recognise it).

So we made slow and quiet progress to the end of the path, keeping an eye out. But the man came back after us, saying he'll show us where it is. When we reached there, which was much closer to the entrance than I'd thought, guess what?

The snake wasn't there.

Now while some people might be relieved, my panic level went up a few notches. What if it's keeping an eye on us, waiting to inject its deadly venom (a human will die in half an hour)? In the end, we reached the end of the road, saw the lake, took some pictures, and left.

 The lake

See the dark area at the top of the photo where trees from both sides meet? That was the path in which the snake was spotted, and which we had to go through to get back to the car

By that time, we had had enough of trails. So we decided to make one last stop at a town called Foster. Now this is a proper town- it had at least an entire row (and on both sides of the road, too!) of shops. Feeling hungry, we bought some fried chicken (which tasted heavenly) and consumed it in a park. After that, the driver went back to the car for a nap while the rest of us explored the town a bit.

That was painted on a wall

After another half hour or so, we reckoned we'd covered the entire town, and so went back to the car, and began the journey back to Melbourne. I must say, I actually enjoyed Wilson's Prom a lot. Just getting away from tall buildings and the city for a bit seemed refreshing, and it didn't hurt that the scenery was worth every dollar spent.

So that's that. My Easter trip.
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Wednesday, 18 May 2011
More Trailers

I am kinda sad that most TV shows have ended their seasons. Now I don't get to enjoy them any more until the new season (if there is one) begins.

Anyway, here are another 3 movie trailers!

1. Cowboys and Aliens

2. The Help

3. Dolphin Tale

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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Yes, I know, I've made a few minor changes to my blog's appearance. The most glaring will be the CBox. I did this for two reasons. The first, being that rarely anyone comments anymore.

The second relates to what this post is about: my past entries. I was going through my previous posts, and realised that I remember some people commenting on it, except that it was on the CBox and not the post itself so the comment's pretty much gone. If you know me, you'll know that I can be very sentimental, and I definitely would like to have those comments stored.

I also took the liberty of organising most of my posts according to labels. 'My life' would be mostly about updates on my life, or on insights that I've come to realise, or things like that that's personal. 'Thoughts' would be my opinion on a topic. 'Reviews' would be movie reviews, 'abroad' would be my thoughts and experiences on living overseas, and the rest are self explanatory.

While sorting out those entries, I definitely got a little nostalgic.

I was reminded of old high school trips, full of laughter and being crazy and letting loose, a time when my friends brought out my true self, when I could be wild (in my way) and be happy.

I was reminded of fearless times when the supernatural was not really feared, but not respected, either. But that of course, changed when I found out that it was a true story.

Just to brag to those of you who don't know, I was elected Treasurer twice, in the morning and afternoon sessions. I'm pretty sure not many have done it, and it is an achievement I'm extremely proud of. You may think it's trivial because it happened back in high school, but let me assure you it's not. 

I was reminded of the time when I 'retired' from the prefectorial board and found that I missed the times when I could skip classes and lead a hectic life in school, instead of the aimless ones normal students have.

I was reminded of my best birthday ever, when a couple of close friends took time away from their exam preparations to celebrate my 17th.

I was reminded of a tiring but extremely fun trip to Genting with friends, in which we crammed into two small hotel rooms in First World Hotel, and made the place look like a drug addict's hideout (no seriously, it looked like one- we had pills everywhere. Pills for minor ailments, mind you).

Err... dodgy much? 

Those were fond high school memories, and I would love to relive them.

Then, college came.

I was reminded of a tiring weeklong orientation.

I was reminded of the time when I watched an impressive 7 movies in 4 weeks.  That was when I realised that I became a movie buff.

I was reminded of a trip to a friend's hometown in Kuching.

Then there's the day I got my SPM results.

But all too soon, it all came to an end when I completed my Foundation year. I made some amazing friends, and learned a lot not just about our country and its people, but in so many others things as well. The social sciences had opened my eyes to the big world out there.

I was reminded, also, of the most amazing holiday I've had with friends. After a year of growing slightly distant due to college, we got back together, and spent the limited time we have left together. It was, truly, our last moment of innocence, our last moment of being children and carefree, our last moment together, before we spread our wings and flew in our own separate directions.

Then, I arrived in Australia. Had one of the worst years of my life, but also one in which I grew the most. I would say even that last year was a year of self discovery. From it all, I emerged a stronger and better person. Upon coming home, I found myself changed , and summed it up in a poem I learned in high school.

And finally, that brings me here. Through all the ups and downs, all the happiness, all the obstacles, all the bittersweet memories, all the nostalgia, I am here.

And here lies the beauty of blogging- you look through them, and you find all the wonderful memories. You have a diary that you can reminisce, a journal of your childhood (depending on when you blogged, of course), a statement of your identity. There are many more past entries that I'd like to remind you of, but they won't fit into one entry.

While it is always good to think about the good old days, it should not hold you back from what lies ahead. Neither I nor you know what lies in the future, waiting for us, but I hope for the best.

And of course, I'll try to blog about it to read when I'm old.
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Saturday, 14 May 2011
In The Meantime...

I actually wanted to blog yesterday, but for some reason Blogger was down so there was nothing I could do about it.

Speaking of yesterday, I only realised that not only was it Friday the 13th, it's also the 13th of May. Such an... eventful day?

Anyway, the final part of my Easter trip is being put on hold, because I'm not in the mood to write it up yet, and I never like writing anything if I don't think it's gonna turn out the way I want it to be.

In the meantime, feast yourself on these 3 movie trailers (there are more trailers to come, I just don't want to post them all at once).

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

2. The Change Up (note, the rating says for mature audiences)

3. Jane Eyre

Finally, have a look at this article. I'm not sure if I shared this, but it's about the discovery of a human-ish fossil, but is neither human nor Neanderthal.

Have a good weekend!
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Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Good Deal?

The last few days, one of the issues making some big news over here is the striking of a deal between Australia and Malaysia concerning asylum seekers.

With Australia being a developed country in a region full of developing countries, they do have a huge problem with asylum seekers. So a few days back the Aussie PM announced a solution.

I kinda miss the familiarity of Adelaide... Of course, I get more familiar with Melbourne as each day passes

Under the arrangement, announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Canberra yesterday, up to 800 people who try to make their way to Australia by boat seeking asylum will instead be sent to Malaysia, and to the back of the processing queue.

In return, Australia will resettle 4000 people from Malaysia who have already received refugee status.

While I'm sure that the deal is not making news back home, it definitely is here. From reading news reports I am of the opinion that there are two main reactions to this. The first, is of criticism of the government for landing such an unfair deal, because this would mean that for every 1 refugee rejected, they have to take in 5 (the Aussie people were hoping for something better, like a 1 to 2 deal). And since our Malaysian high commissioner in Australia said that we want to have to power to select and reject refugees, there are concerns that we'll reject so many that Australia will end up taking all of these refugees anyway.

The second reason, is that apparently asylum seekers in Malaysia are mistreated.

A CROWD of men, women and children waited on the street in front of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' office in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The barred gate of the cage-like enclosure was kept locked by a burly guard. The crowd surged forward when it seemed more would be permitted inside the barriers.

Emotions can run high here. In 2004, an asylum-seeker set himself alight at the gates and died of his burns. Stateless, sometimes unemployed and often ill, the dispirited group at the gate was one small illustration of the appalling plight of refugees across Asia.

Rohingya man Abdul Gappoor from Burma belongs to one of the worst-treated minorities in the world, his people harried and oppressed and refused citizenship by even their own nation.
Mr Gappoor has been on the run for years. He and his wife, Zainab, lost two young children to illness in the process. He was arrested in Kuantan in Malaysia in 1992 and since then his life has been an unfolding tragedy.

"If I were deported, I would be imprisoned and killed by Burmese authorities," it said.

For Mr Gappoor, Australia would be a welcome change. "Life would be easier in Australia."

I find it amusing and annoying at the same time that the Australian media is painting our country as a cruel nation who does not care about human rights. I'm not sure about this, but I think these people are not seeking refuge in Malaysia, they're hoping to come to Australia, so for us to even give them a place to stay is already kind, I would argue. After all, this is not Malaysia's problem.

And while I agree that these people should not be beaten or starved, if it is true, that is- Australia isn't exactly guiltless, either.

This is an article about a protest that occurred in a Sydney refugee detention centre:

Negotiations to bring three detainees down from the roof of Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre have failed, as their protest goes into its ninth day.

Human rights' activist Dr Mohamed Al Jabiri said he had gone into the centre on Thursday afternoon to negotiate with authorities on behalf of the detainees, but a compromise could not be reached.

"They were insisting that first of all, these people have to come down from the roof, so I asked them if they can get immunity (from being charged)," Dr Al Jabiri told AAP.

"They said no, we cannot give a promise."

He said it appeared the protesters might be arrested if they came down and there would be no reconsideration of their visas.

And this is another article about another protest at a different detention centre.

Yesterday a small group of detainees were protesting in the grounds of the Christmas Island detention centre as the Immigration Department dealt with the aftermath of a rooftop protest at the centre last week.

Those protesters were on the roof for three days and nights and workers at the medical centre below have since complained of a strong smell of human faeces. 
Plans were under way for a worker to be lifted by crane in a cage to clean the excrement off.
"Appropriate occupational health and safety matters must be considered these are being addressed," a department spokesman said.

The spokesman described yesterday's protest as passive and the centre as "calm, currently".
The men wrote on sheets. One read: "We have been here for 530 days and we have been accepted as refugees for 160 days but until now it's not yet justice. How long do we need to wait for the conclusion of our cases???".

And this was something that happened in March.

Parts of the main Christmas Island detention centre burnt as protests by 250 asylum seekers turned violent last night.

Meanwhile, a 20 year old Afghan man has died overnight in the Scherger centre in Queensland. An immigration spokeswoman said the man was discovered in his bed by Serco staff and could not be revived. Police will investigate the death.

Australian Federal Police have taken over control of the Christmas Island detention centre, an immigration spokesman said.

The protesters had marched within the main detention centre grounds carrying two banners, one reading "Freedom", and then marched back inside the centre and sat down before dispersing about an hour later at 9.35pm, the department spokesman said.

About 280 detainees - not associated with the violence - had to be moved from the North West detention centre to a recreation hall and to Phosphate Hill for their safety during the violence, which lasted until just after midnight.

"Many detainees have moved away from the troublemakers," a department spokesman said.

I guess this is what media distortion that we learn in class is all about. When refugees are mistreated in Australia it is because they were troublemakers, but when it happens in a country like Malaysia (mind you, we don't have the best of reputations here) it is a violation of human rights.

Well, that kinda is like what Australia is doing too... further proof that Australia and America aren't that different? 

I bet nobody told the asylum seeker in Malaysia of his Christmas Island counterparts' ordeal.
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Friday, 6 May 2011
Easter Trip Day 2: Phillip Island

So the second day, we started earlier because we wanted to take a detour and Phillip Island is further away.

The detour is Frankston, this seaside town that has a sand sculpture exhibition. And of course, I'm not talking about sand castles, I'm talking about actual sculptures that require not only talent and creativity but also a lot of patience.

Those are some of the sculptures. The theme was Creepy Crawlies, if you're wondering why the artists sculpted bugs of all things. On the brochure I read that after the exhibition it is bulldozed. Yes, bulldozed. That's because the sand is some type of stronger sand that sticks together better.

After getting awed by the creativity of these sculptures we headed to Phillip Island. It's about 2 hours away from Melbourne, and I would say would be something like the equivalent of Langkawi? A getaway from the city (though that's not the case for Langkawi), an island on its own that's mostly for tourists. The first attraction we went was this smaller island called Churchill Island. The view was pretty awesome (at that time, the weather in Victoria was still sunny and not too cold), although the activities there (sheep shearing, horse riding, etc) was more suited for kids.

Next, we went to a koala conservation park. We saw a few koalas, watched one eat close up (they're really slow eaters, by the way) and then realised that there's nothing much other than that to see, so we moved on to our final destination of the day: the Penguin Parade!

It was at this beach where we would be able to see tiny penguins come to shore from who knows where they went, and move to their burrows. I only managed to see a few coming to shore (people were blocking me and they were so tiny and dark coloured and it was getting dark) but there were so many of them walking towards their burrows, it was so cute! They're probably only the length of the tip of your finger to your elbow.  And if say 10 of them walk together, but if they're from different burrows some will stop and just stand there and wait for their burrow mates to walk together.

And you know how penguins walk like. They were wet, they looked disoriented, and were so tiny, but were nonetheless cute. Unfortunately, I didn't snap any photos or videos because use of cameras is prohibited.

At Churchill Island

And that's it! It was completely dark by the time we left, once again we began the journey home to rest and to prepare for our first and only overnight trip. Overall, Phillip Island was pretty good. We didn't have enough time, though, so a possible trip next time could be an overnight one.

Just as a teaser, of all the three destinations I enjoyed the last one the most! There's jaw-dropping scenery (though it might look pretty normal to you, I don't have a DSLR),  a cosy cottage and... a 'town' that consists of two shops.
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Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Easter Trip Day 1: Castlemaine

I've decided to split my Easter trip into several different entries because right now I'm in a little bit of a rush.

Anyway, the first day we took a day trip to this town called Castlemaine that's about 2 hours away from Melbourne.

We rented a car from the city and self-drove all the way there.

Castlemaine I would say is a town that's very like the typical countryside town. It's unlike the city- there aren't many shops around, most people drive because public transport is non-existent, etc. You know what I mean, you just know when you're in the countryside. Just like back home you can tell when you're in Ipoh and when you're in KL.

Anyway, the first thing we did there was to go to the tourist information centre. Then, it was off in search of food! In the end there weren't many choices so we settled for fish & chips. I order just the fish and a dim sim (localised dim sum) which wasn't too bad, although some of the others who ordered things like spring rolls found it horrendous.

And as the fish & chips shop was a take-away one, we went to this park to have our lunch, just sitting on the ground. Here, you see seniors (one was even swearing at top speed), young families, couples, bikers all around enjoying the sunshine.

Then the touring started. First, we went to this historic home. Was pretty hard to find because I think all of us expected it to be a huge mansion located in the middle of nowhere (or at least something like that) but it turned out to be just a terraced-sized house (though it had its own piece of land) that's in a neighbourhood. And since we had to pay an entrance fee we decided to skip it and move on to the next one, a cemetery for children!

The cemetery itself wasn't too creepy actually; in fact, it looked extremely normal. As in, you wouldn't think it's a cemetery because it looks just like any other unattended grassland. Then you move closer and you see the rocks placed in different-sized ovals. Apparently, during the gold rush period many kids fell ill easily because of poor hygiene, and if and when they died they were buried there. I think I saw a tombstone with Chinese characters but it was so faded I couldn't be sure. But I didn't any pictures anyway.

Next up was a mining museum, sort of. It's like an open air museum as it was an actual mining site. There was a maze that was made of rocks, which we tried out.

There are two entrances and you have to try to get to the middle. Pretty interesting.

The rest... not so interesting. Except this.

(It means 'gold is here', by the way)

I guess the Chinese people went there in search of better opportunities (apparently there were a lot of Chinese people back then in Castlemaine). I'm guessing that the tombstone I saw earlier could after all have contained Chinese characters.

Next we went to this Water Wheel thing. I don't know what it is, or what it's used for, it was just a structure up in the hills (had to drive pretty deep inside). So we made a hasty exit and went to the alpaca farm.

Alpacas are something like llamas, I'm told. The owner showed us a baby alpaca (don't remember what they're called) that was just born a few hours ago, and it could walk!

We stayed there for awhile listening to her talk about the alpacas. Apparently they are very curious creatures and dislike dogs. Also they are very protective of their young. You can see from this picture that there's an adult alpaca. Well that's the mother, who follows her baby everywhere.

Overall I think Castlemaine just marketed itself well. They said sights to see include this children's cemetery and water wheel and being typical city folks we expected a lot, and it turned out to be... very normal. Luckily we only went for a day trip! But it is a good getaway for people who are tired of the city. On a side note: At least my network provider (a company with about less coverage than DiGi outside of cities) had reception there!

And then we were done for the day! We arrived back at Melbourne at around 730 I believe, and had dinner then headed home to rest and get ready for the next day.
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