RIP Christina Grimmie

Source: https://twitter.com/TheRealGrimmie/status/304665885187121153

Wise words from a young talent gone far too soon.  I must admit I didn’t follow Christina’s every move these past few years, but I did check in on her from time to time.  She is one of the first Youtubers I ever watched; once you hear her voice, you never forget it.  I was so happy for her when she blossomed from beloved Youtuber to 3rd place contestant on The Voice.  She deserved every success that God blessed her with.  Her death affected me in a way I did not expect, but I will save those feelings for another time.  I want this post to focus on Christina and the impression she left on her family, friends, & fans.  Let us not forget that she loved Jesus.  It is hard for those of us on earth to understand why it was her time to leave, but she is much happier now singing in Heaven.

Source: https://twitter.com/TheRealGrimmie/status/634445596179337216

To Christina’s family, friends, & fans: My heart and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

– Lauren Michele <3

Follow the link to hear Christina’s beautiful voice: RIP Christina Grimmie

 

2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Mount, Jane. Ideal Bookshelf 753: Shakespeare. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. https://www.idealbookshelf.com/collections/prints/products/ideal-bookshelf-753-shakespeare.

Mount, Jane. Ideal Bookshelf 753: Shakespeare. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016. https://www.idealbookshelf.com/collections/prints/products/ideal-bookshelf-753-shakespeare.

The time has come for a second update on my 2016 Reading challenge progress.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take some time to read my first two blog posts:

• 2016 Reading Challenge

• 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

If you’re subscribed to my Youtube channel, you may have already seen my update #2 video.  However, I filmed almost two weeks ago, and I’ve finished a few more books since then.  Let’s jump right in and chat about books.

* * * SPOILERS AHEAD * * *

Buckle your seat belts because I have some notes about this trilogy.  I was a HUGE Hilary Duff fan back in the day so when I found out she had written a book series, I was all in and ready to read it.  The basic premise is as follows:

The main character Clea is an only child and a photojournalist.  Her mom is a politician, and her dad was a doctor.  He disappeared while out of the country and was pronounced dead.  Clea believes he is still alive but keeps quiet around her mom who is trying to move on.  After a photo assignment, Clea discovers a male being in every single one of her photos.  He’s not immediately visible, but he is always there.  Following a series of conversations and events, she finds out that her dad and his employee Ben, who is also Clea’s friend, were researching the elixir of life.  During that process, they discovered that Clea had a “guardian angel” of sorts, a soulmate who is tied to her.  Hundreds of years ago, Sage, Clea, & Ben were all alive.  Clea was the love of Sage’s life, and Ben was his friend.  Unintentionally, Ben betrayed Sage by speaking openly about the protectors of the elixir of life, a group Sage belonged to.  His confidants brutally murdered the group and Clea who happened to be present despite not being a member.  They kidnapped Sage and gave him the elixir of life followed by torture to make sure it worked.  He eventually got away but found himself trapped in a vicious cycle.  He cannot die therefore he has lived many lives in each of which his friend Ben betrays him and his girlfriend Clea dies.  The reincarnations of Ben and Clea always have different names and appearances, but the series of unfortunate events is always the same.  In the present, their main mission is breaking the cycle.  On top of that, they have to protect Sage from two groups of people.  The elixir keeping him alive runs through his veins instead of blood.  One group wants his blood to make them immortal, and the other group wants to kill him and break their family curse of dying before 30.

That synopsis is informative about the first and second book, but there is a lot more to the story.  I read the first book and was instantly hooked.  I liked the plot because it was different from anything I had ever read before.  Sage and Clea’s relationship is “Insta-Love”, a term that describes relationships in which a boy and girl fall for each other at a quick, ridiculous pace.  I know why that is annoying, but in this case, it didn’t annoy me… yet.  The sequel kept me interested in the story, but it felt different, which I liked; it didn’t feel like “Elixir” in a different cover.  The third book is where the story crashed and burned.  I had expectations and was thoroughly disappointed.

* * * SPOILERS AHEAD * * *

It’s cute to think of Sage and Clea as soulmates, but their relationship isn’t as perfect as it seems.  The circumstances seem like smooth sailing for a short period of time, but chaos is never far behind.  In the third book, new events cause Sage to be violent.  Clea keeps getting hurt emotionally and physically, but she stands by him determined to fix his problem.  I don’t disagree with that, but I do disagree with the decision to let them live happily ever after.  Sad endings are hard to deal with, but they can benefit a story or series.  In this case, the death of Clea or Sage would have been more believable.  One of their first predicaments was the cycle of Ben’s betrayal and Clea’s death.  If Clea had died following Ben’s betrayal in the third book, it would have completed another cycle except this time Sage is no longer immortal, and he will eventually die.  Another thing that irritates me is the fact that Clea’s dad is rarely mentioned after the first book.  His story is never resolved, and I am left with many questions.  I know that disappearances are often unresolved, but he discovered Sage and the elixir of life.  Readers deserved closure considering he was so important to the story.

FINALLY!!!  I’ve been waiting to read The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings for years.  It is dangerous for a reader to build up expectations, but I am glad to say this time my excitement was justified.  I want to save my final thoughts for after I finish LOTR, but… I LOVED The Hobbit.  No complaints!!

This series is a blast from the past!  I’m thoroughly enjoying the books, even at 22 years of age.  My final thoughts will be shared after I finish the series.

• These are the books I’m currently reading:

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

“The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Vile Village” by Lemony Snicket

• After 4 months, this is what my list looks like:

Published This Year – “Land of Silence” by Tessa Afshar | “A Spy’s Devotion” by Melanie Dickerson

✔️ Finish in a Day – “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum

✔️ Meaning to Read – “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien | “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien | “Zoo” by Michael Ledwidge & James Patterson | The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian – “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket | “The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins

Should Have Read in School – “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” by Lew Wallace

Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF – “As Sure As The Dawn” by Francine Rivers

Published Before You Were Born – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote

Banned at Some Point – “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

✔️ Previously Abandoned – “Elixir” series by Hilary Duff

Own But Never Read – “First Light” by Bodie & Brocke Thoene

Intimidates You – “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

✔️ Already Read at Least Once – “Sisters of the Quilt” series by Cindy Woodsmall | “River of Time” series by Lisa T. Bergren

*Note: I put checkmarks by categories in which I have already completed one book.  Everything else after the first title is extra.

It is not too late to join in on the fun.  Here is the source of this challenge: http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2016-reading-challenge/

Happy reading!! 📚

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Disney Pin Collecting & Trading

*Note: I am a newbie so feel free to correct me if the need presents itself.  I don’t want to give people false information.  Please & thank you!

Hello hello hello!!  It feels like forever since I’ve written a post, but in reality it’s only been 9 days.  I am back with a very interesting subject to discuss.  Ever since my first trip to a Disney park in 2002, I have been a Disney pin collector.  I buy at least one pin to commemorate each of my visits.  I was aware that other people were collectors like me because so many pins are available to the public.  However, I didn’t know there was another large part of the Disney pin world: Disney Pin Trading.  I’ve seen cast members with pin lanyards, but I assumed those were for show.  I didn’t realize people could bring pins into the park and trade with cast members.  There are also numerous pin boards (boards with pins) located around Disney parks.  There is a limit per board and cast member, usually 1-2 pins, and any pin can be traded regardless of the value of the pin being acquired.  What do I mean by that?  Pins have different values based on characteristics such as release occasion and rarity.  For example, when trading with a fellow trader, exchanging a Mickey Mouse rack pin for a Hunchback of Notre Dame pin with an LE of 300 would be ridiculous and unfair to the person receiving the Mickey pin.  It is fun to trade outside of Disney parks, but many people prefer trading inside because no rules apply regarding value.  You can buy an inexpensive set of pins and potentially trade for a limited edition pin.  What a deal!  Cast members and the majority of traders do their best to keep the pin flow pure, but fake pins have unfortunately made their way into the mix.  I will go into more detail about fake pins later in the post.  Now let’s go over some important pin trading terms.

• Artist Proof Pin (AP) – A high quality pin made during the manufacturing process as a test run.

• Fantasy Pin – An unofficial pin made in the likeness of a Disney character or scene, usually something that is not available in the official circle of Disney pins.  Disney is not associated with fantasy pins, and these pins are not allowed to be traded within the parks.

• Limited Edition Pin – A pin that was made in one and only one batch.  An LE of 300 means only 300 pins exist.  An LE of 1500 means only 1500 exist.  And so on…

• Limited Release Pin – A pin that is available for a limited period of time.

• Pre Production Pin (PP) – A pin made during the creation process to test design.  These pins may differ from the final version.

• ProPin – Disney pins made in Germany.  They usually have gunmetal gray backs whereas most American pins have gold or silver backs.

• Rack Pin – An open edition pin sold on the racks of Disney stores.  They are neither limited edition nor limited release.

• Scrapper – A pin that is fake.

This vocabulary list is by no means extensive, but it is enough to get you started.  Now let’s look at some procedures for identifying scrappers.

1.  Scrappers are made at low prices so the paint is low quality.  The colors should be vibrant and true to the characters.  Any color that looks dull and/or odd may indicate that the pin is fake.

2.  The text, no matter how small, should be legible.

3.  Most of the time, there is one or two prongs on the post that keep the pin from spinning.

4.  Official pins have a stamp of the pin trading logo on the back.  The stamp is often faked so look at the sunburst, the border around the stamp made up of triangles.  A fake sunburst has sharp lines, and a real stamp has soft edges.  The only exceptions are pins sold at locations outside of Disney parks such as the Soda Fountain in Los Angeles; those pins have the logo of their respective store.

5.  Disney pins are made of metal so they should be thick and heavy.

6.  The pattern on the back of pins is called a waffle pattern.  There are different variations; the ones I know of are ice cream cones, Mickey Mouse heads, and sorcerer hats.  The pattern should go off the edge of the pin; there should be no border around it.

7.  Pins should have a glossy finish.  If a pin lacks shine, it could be fake.

8.  Pins should never have rough edges.

9.  If the paint job has defects, your pin might be fake.  This is not a surefire method because older pins could have been mishandled or dropped.  But, keep in mind that Disney wouldn’t sell new pins that show sloppy craftsmanship.

10.  PinPics.com is a database full of Disney pin pictures and information.  The numbers and images provided are helpful for identifying authentic pins and scrappers.

Scrappers have evolved therefore one method is not enough to tell if a pin is fake or not.  It is better to do an exhaustive investigation and use every method you know of.  Another way to fight against the scrapper business is not being a part of it.  It is frustrating to buy or trade for scrappers, but don’t turn around and sell or use them for trade.  Help yourself and your fellow collectors and traders by keeping them out of circulation.

Here are some other links that might interest you:

• The Disney Pin Tag by ImSarahSnitch, the video that introduced me to pin trading:

• Everything Disney Pins, the company that fueled my love for Disney pins

Youtube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/DisneyPinsFacebook

Website – http://everything-disney-pins.com

• eBay is a good source for pins, but make sure you do your research.  Many pins on eBay are fake so check the seller reviews and product photos.  On top of that, be aware that any purchase is a gamble.  I would like to take this time to address eBay sellers.  If you are vigilant in inspecting pins and feel confident in your status as a legitimate Disney pin vendor, PLEASE provide more than one photo of the pins you are selling.  Images from different angles would make your customers feel more comfortable making a purchase.

http://www.ebay.com

• Pin Pics

http://www.pinpics.com/index1.php

• I made a Youtube video about collecting & trading Disney pins.  Give it a like & subscribe to support my channel.  Please & thank you!

To those of you interested in Disney pins, I hope this post was helpful.  I have a couple more Disney pin posts headed your way in the next few weeks so stay tuned.  Now I send you off into the pin world.  Go forth and collect/trade with valor & honor readers! ;)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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The 88th Academy Awards | Part 1

Welcome to the winners’ circle!  I am going to list each of the categories and their respective victors.  Part 2 will be available tonight on my art blog; it will feature my favorite looks from the red carpet.  First, I want to congratulate Chris Rock.  Hosts make or break award shows.  I rarely tune in because I lose interest quickly, but thanks to Mr. Rock I thoroughly enjoyed the Oscars this year.  Two thumbs up! 👍 👍

* * * Note: Videos of all the acceptance speeches will be posted in this article as soon as I can find good quality versions.

– Opening Monologue –

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144808155563319/

– This Year in Film –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m88THpMK590

🌟Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144973592213442/

🌟Best Actress – Brie Larson, “Room”

Best Animated Feature Film – “Inside Out”

Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki, “The Revenant”

Best Costume Design – Jenny Beavan, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

🌟Best Director – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “The Revenant”

Best Documentary Feature – “Amy”

Best Documentary Short Subject – “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”

Best Film Editing – Margaret Sixel, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Foreign Language Film – “Son of Saul”

Best Live Action Short Film – “Stutterer”

Best Makeup – Damien Martin, Elka Wardega, and Lesley Vanderwalt, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Original Music Score – Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144900588887409/

Best Original Screenplay – “Spotlight”

Best Original Song – Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith, “Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre”

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144835135560621/

* I congratulate Sam Smith on his win, but I was rooting for Lady Gaga.  What a powerful song!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNetwork/videos/1144912732219528/

🌟Best Picture – “Spotlight”

Best Production Design – Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Sound Editing – David White and Mark Mangini, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Sound Mixing – Ben Osmo, Chris Jenkins, and Gregg Rudloff, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

🌟Best Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

🌟Best Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Best Visual Effects – “Ex Machina”

Best Writing Adapted Screenplay – “The Big Short”

• Here are the trailers for all of the movies that won an award:

– A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk2OcKVu8qU

– Amy –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvmFr_OCLgU

– Bridge of Spies –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBBuzHrZBro

– Ex Machina –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyKqHOgMi4g

– Inside Out –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seMwpP0yeu4

– Mad Max: Fury Road –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEJnMQG9ev8

– Room –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Ci-pAL4eE

– Son of Saul –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6MJZnDV27U

– Spectre –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4UDNzXD3qA

– Spotlight –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwdCIpbTN5g

– Stutterer –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnlBGQUn0tM

– The Big Short –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgqG3ITMv1Q

– The Danish Girl –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d88APYIGkjk

– The Hateful Eight –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_UI1GzaWv0

– The Revenant –

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoebZZ8K5N0

There are three more things I want to highlight:

1.  C-3PO, R2-D2, & BB-8 made an appearance.  How cute was it seeing the droids all together on the stage?!  Dream come true for me! 💕

2.  Dave Grohl performed “Blackbird” during the In Memoriam presentation.   It was beautiful!  What else can I say??  The performance speaks for itself. 🎶🎶🎶

3.  I am sure Brie Larson doesn’t want any kind of special attention for her kind deed during one of the commercial breaks, but I think it deserves attention.  She stood up and hugged each and every one of the sexual assault survivors as they left the stage following the Lady Gaga performance.  That speaks volumes about who Miss Larson is as a person.

Source:  https://www.yahoo.com/celebrity/brie-larson-hugs-every-sexual-assault-survivor-052750529.html

Part 2 – The 88th Academy Awards | Part 2

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RIP Stalker

RIP Stalker (Source: http://radio.com/2014/09/03/we-hear-you-listening-a-playlist-for-stalker/)

My world has been shattered.  After months of “Will they?? Wont they?? Will they?? Wont they??”, CBS has officially cancelled “Stalker.”  I know that my opinion is bias, but I really do believe this is a mistake.  “Stalker” is one of the best shows that has come out in the past eight months.  Critics were unhappy with the blunt approach, but I appreciated it.  It may sound stupid, but horrifying storylines make me feel prepared for any dangerous scenario imaginable because they make me think.  “Stalker” was startling and unexpected, two adjectives that made it stand out.  It will be greatly missed by me and many other fans.  R.I.P. “Stalker.”

Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/cbs-cancels-vince-gilligans-battle-794524

Stay alert and safe readers!

– Lauren Michele <3

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Don’t Forget Me

Don't Forget Me

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. Jonathan Crombie, best known for his movie role as the beloved Gilbert Blythe, passed away on Wednesday, April 15, at the age 48; the cause was a brain hemorrhage. I grew up watching the Anne of Green Gables movies and dreaming of meeting and marrying my very own Gil. Me and my friends were so smitten with him that we had to designate an area specifically for freak outs; the “Jonathan Crombie Couch” will forever be a treasured memory of mine. I received an Anne of Green Gables music box for Valentine’s Day this year. At the time, the gift was thoughtful, but now it holds so much more meaning. God knew I would need a special reminder of Jonathan, my own personal piece of Gilbert. The following is a short statement given to the Canadian Press by Crombie’s Anne of Green Gables co-star Megan Follows:

“He was incredibly funny, Jonathan just had an amazing sense of humour,” she told The Canadian Press. “Truly I just remember at times just laughing so hard that you’d just be crying. He was so playful and silly and, as I said, really bright, so his humour was always informed with that, which made him even funnier.” Follows called Crombie a “sweetheart” and said a lot of the chemistry onscreen was natural during the filming of the movies. “He had that beautiful face. He was a lot of fun, he was very open so you just felt he was someone who really wanted to play and it really was a new experience for him,” she said, adding that the project was one of Crombie’s first. “We were all just in it to do the best that we could and we had a lot of fun.”  (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/04/19/jonathan-crombie-megan-follows_n_7095258.html)  I think it is safe to say Jonathan’s version of Gilbert was not far from his true nature: playful and endearing.

It seems all too appropriate to mention some of my favorite Gilbert and Anne scenes from each movie. I have more than one in each film, but, for the sake of attention spans, I will keep the list short. In the first movie “Anne of Green Gables”, one of my favorite moments is the very last scene in which Gilbert sacrificially gives up the Avonlea school so that Anne can teach there and stay at home with Marilla. They exchange the following dialogue, recalling fondly what was originally an explosive and classic moment:

Anne: “Aren’t you worried? I’m liable to break another slate over your head.”                                                                                                     Gilbert: “I’m more worried I might break one over yours, carrots”

The scene starts at the 9:57 mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPREdzRRRlY

In “Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel”, one of my favorite moments is when Gil and Anne are FINALLY a couple, and they are standing on a bridge discussing their future:

Gilbert: “It’ll be three years before I finish medical school. Even then there won’t be any diamond sunbursts or marble halls”                     Anne: “I don’t want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls. I just want you.”

The scene starts at the 9:20 mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZW6eBrWH9w

In the third and final film “Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story”, my FAVORITE moment has to be, of course, the scene when Anne and Gil are reunited after her arduous search during World War I. Anne is on a stage with two friends singing for soldiers; they are singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, Gil and Anne’s wedding dance song. As she is scanning the crowd, Anne spots a familiar, beloved face. Running ensues as well as a heartwarming reunion. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8dc9kqaXBI

Quotes Source: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0040057/quotes

I want to give my condolences to all of Jonathan’s loved ones. My heart goes out to you, and you are in my prayers.

Jonathan: You embodied a classic book character, a portrayal that was truly a gift to the film industry. You will always be remembered and loved as Gil in the hearts of your fans. Rest in peace.

Don't Forget Me

The “Anne of Green Gables” family could never forget you!! <3 <3 <3

– Lauren Michele :)

” You know, every day I would pick a different memory of you and play it over and over and over again in my mind, until every hair, every freckle, every part of you was exactly as I remembered.” – Gilbert Blythe, “Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story”

Music Box: http://shopatsullivan.com/love-music-box.html

25 Times Gilbert Blythe From “Anne of Green Gables” Melted Your Heart: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/gilbert-blythe-forever#.nrVw65xlB

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Frozen Fitness

Frozen Fitness(Source: http://www.olivera.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/funny-pictures-winter-weight-loss-snowman.jpg)

If only losing weight was that easy!!  If you think I am about to give you an AMAZING workout routine based on a Disney movie about a queen with ice and snow powers, fear not!  Today we are discussing the struggles that accompany working out during winter.  I, like the majority of the world population, made a New Year’s resolution to exercise.  January was the easiest month, so far, to get through; I was motivated and determined.  February was an entirely different story.  My body suddenly decided to realize it is winter and go into hibernation mode.  I was tired all the time from the beautifully dreary weather, and preparing for a workout took extra time in order to overcome freezing temperatures and aching joints.  I hit a wall!  I saw results in January, but February was comparable to running up a hill of ice and expecting to reach the top.  My solution?  I kept going.  I know, I know,  That is a typical and boring answer, but it is the truth.  I got through February with the help of hot baths, layers of warm clothing, and stretching, and the accomplishment feels good.  It is too early to tell if March will be difficult, but I am finally starting to see results again so I am optimistic.  I know I am not the only one struggling with this issue so prepare for an extremely cheesy pep talk: We are in this together!!  You can do it!!  Next time you find yourself facing a workout whilst shivering uncontrollably, remember there are other people going through the same thing (in this case, me).  Don’t let the icicles win!!  Enough of this cheesy talk.  I am starting to annoy myself.  Enjoy the rest of your day readers!

“I believe in process.  I believe in four seasons.  I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming.  I believe that there’s a growing season.  And I think that you realize that in life, you grow.  You get better.”      – Steve Southerland

– Lauren Michele :)

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