Utterly Meaningless » 2004 » June

    Filed on June 30, 2004 at 3:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    I’ve been getting strange spams for a while now. Here’s the latest:

    what time

    backboard autosuggestible electronic antic condone quell chaplin blind trompe
    brusque combatted filthy blown bremen dunk
    automaton celibacy abolition eke inhibitory hobbyhorse

    No links. No attachments. Does anyone have an idea what they are trying to accomplish?


    Filed on at 3:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    You’d have to have young kids to understand the title.

    I have 6 G-mail invites. Anyone interested?


    Filed on at 3:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    No heft in this political novice.

    An Overland Park Republican’s ties to a conservative group opposing government support of education has become a dividing issue in the 24th District state representative race.

    Political newcomer Ray Parker, a 53-year-old computer technician, signed a proclamation on the Alliance for the Separation of School & State’s Web site, www.honested.com. The proclamation states: “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”

    Parker is one of 213 Kansans who have signed the proclamation.

    Parker said when he signed the proclamation a few years ago he was protesting the federal government’s involvement in education, not the state’s. He said he supports the state’s role in education and, if elected, would vote to increase education financing without raising taxes.

    …O’Malley sent out a newsletter late last week, informing residents of Parker’s connection to the alliance. In the newsletter, O’Malley said, “I strongly disagree with my opponent and the alliance.”

    In an interview, he added: “I think that is such an extreme organization. I am quite shocked anyone running for public office in northeast Johnson County would even associate themselves with such an organization.”

    Well, there go my political aspirations.


    Filed on at 12:49 pm under by dcobranchi

    New Jersey has become the first state in the nation to offer “free” tuition at its community colleges to any student who graduates in the top 20 percent of her class. No mention of homeschoolers in this Inquirer article nor this official website. I’ve written to the governor for clarification.


    Filed on at 7:02 am under by dcobranchi

    Chris O’Donnell found a WaPo column on homeschooling. Their education writer wants feedback from homeschoolers and home educators. It’s a pretty fair column, but he needs a bit of an education. To his great credit, he readily admits it.


    Filed on June 29, 2004 at 10:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    Another teacher has been charged with having sex with an underage student. This one is particularly depraved:

    The boy told detectives that Lafave told him that her months-old marriage was in trouble and that she was attracted to him because having sex with him was not allowed.

    …In Marion County, authorities say Lafave had sex with the student in the back of her sport utility vehicle while the cousin drove them around the Ocala area.

    She might soon be suspended without pay.


    Filed on at 4:27 pm under by dcobranchi



    Filed on at 12:40 pm under by dcobranchi



    Filed on at 11:34 am under by dcobranchi

    The Wilmington News-Journal today profiles Accelerated Reader which several local g-schools are using to good effect. I looked around on the AR website but didn’t see any mention of homeschooling. I’m trying to track it down.

    UPDATE: No go.

    Thank you for your inquiry regarding the Accelerated Reader Home School
    Program. Unfortunately, at this time we no longer offer the Accelerated
    Reader Home School Program or home school products to customers that do not
    already own a preexisting Home School Kit. After thoroughly surveying our
    home school customers, we found that the program did not appropriately meet
    our customers’ individual needs. Consequently, we have decided to
    discontinue this program and its products.

    Please feel free to contact us if you have further questions or concerns.

    Kathleen Schneider
    Customer Assistance Representative


    Filed on at 11:10 am under by dcobranchi

    Actually, it’s the NAACP, and some of their recommendations for how to handle Florida’s failing schools border are either pipe dreams or nightmares:

    To the parents of students who received letters informing you that you may transfer your child from one of the failing schools, do not transfer them. Leave them there and monitor your child, the teachers and the administration. [Sure. In five or ten years they might improve. Of course, that’ll be too late for your kids.]

    …If any of these schools (schools with an F grade) receive another F grade, the [school system] should take immediate steps to transfer all national board-certified teachers to these schools. [Can’t do it. Seniority rules would prevent that from ever happening]

    …Provide extensive professional development for all school personnel. The training must include sensitivity training and the infusion of African-American history into the curriculum. [Sensitivity training for the teachers? And how exactly is that supposed to ehlp kids who can’t read at grade level?]

    …Have schools develop individual instructional plans for each student at or below Level 2. [Terrific. Then they all fall into the SpEd morass.

    …Implement and enforce parental involvement programs to strengthen parent accountability. [I’m pretty sure the schools don’t have the power to enforce anything that has to do with the parents.]

    …Strengthen the partnership with the City of Jacksonville to improve and enrich neighborhoods, such as parks, recreational facilities, shopping, eateries and cultural events. [Better restaurants=better schools. Whodathunkit?]

    …Work with the ministerial organizations to help local churches that do not have a reading program and/or tutorial program for children, establish at least a reading program. [It sounds like they want to force the churches to do this. That’s a no-no.]

    …Work with the local media to encourage and inform parents about what to do to help their children get a quality education. [Finally, a sensible recommendation! H&OES isn’t local media, but I’ll throw my two cents in. Parents, ignore all of the NAACP’s suggestions, especially the first. Run, don’t walk your kids to the best school they can get in. You have no obligation to fix the schools. The only one you “owe” is your children an opportunity. Seize it while you can.]


    Filed on at 6:03 am under by dcobranchi

    Just a bit more about the Florida starvation case. Homeschooling appears like it will be on trial, too.

    [Barbara Bennett-Woodhouse, director of the Center on Children and Families at the University of Florida’s Frederick G. Levin College of Law] said she’s written about the aspect of home schooling as it relates to child abuse cases and thinks it is a dangerous precedent. It’s not that home schooling is bad, she said, it’s just that abuse is easier to hide in those situations.
    She has written papers on a number of court cases where children are taken out of school because they are, in fact, abused.

    OK, y’all, we have a problem. At the very least, it’s a PR nightmare that these cases crop up on a regular basis. At worst, the bureaucrats may be correct that homeschooling “enables” those predisposed to abuse their kids to hide it (for a while, at least). Either way, I think the homeschooling community is going to have to do something. Otherwise, we may see continued legislative calls for increased regulation. Those are battles we can certainly win. I’d just rather not have to fight them at all.

    Of course, saying the community may need to respond is a whole lot easier than coming up with a rational response. We certainly don’t want (and won’t stand for) nanny-state educrats looking over our shoulders at every turn in an effort to “Gotcha!” us. Likewise, NJ’s idea for mandatory health “inspections” (i.e., annual physicals with results reported to the state) is right out.


    UPDATE: I’ve corrected the typo in the title. Thanks, Tim.


    Filed on June 28, 2004 at 6:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    Educrats in Illinois gave away a brand new (donated) car to a student who had perfect attendance. All students from seven schools who had perfect attendance for a quarter were eligible. Geez! In my day we got a gold star on our report card.


    Filed on at 11:54 am under by dcobranchi

    All you really need to read is the headline:

    2003-04 school year was deadliest in decade


    Filed on at 11:47 am under by dcobranchi

    A cyber school wants to expand from its base in western PA into eastern OH.

    This fall, the 3,000-pupil Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School plans to set up shop in East Liverpool, three miles from the school’s headquarters in Midland, Pa.

    “To us, the state line has always been kind of a man-made boundary,” said Nick Trombetta, the cyberschool’s chief administrator and superintendent of the Midland school district.

    Judging by this map, he may be right.


    Filed on at 6:40 am under by dcobranchi

    Somehow I doubt this retired teacher will be welcome at the NEA union hall anytime soon.


    Filed on at 6:37 am under by dcobranchi

    WARNING! Boring technical post ahead.

    I’m not quite sure what to make of this. McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, maker of ADHD-drug Concerta, has requested the DEA to reduce Concerta’s classification from Schedule II to Schedule III. Ritalin, which contains the exact same AI as Concerta, would remain on Schedule II.


    Filed on June 27, 2004 at 8:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    Educrats caved and granted valedictorian Tiffany Schley her diploma.


    Filed on at 8:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    Gracie in her new backyard

    I’ve been quoted as dissing kitty blogs. Well, what goes around, comes around. Fire away.

    (I promise not to make a habit of this.)


    Filed on at 7:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    the law is an ass.

    From an article on truancy in California:

    It’s the law. Minors must attend school — be it traditional schooling, home schooling or alternative education. The law says minors must be making academic progress. Parents, in partnership with the schools, have the responsibility to enforce it.

    And, how, exactly, does the law enforce academic progress?


    Filed on at 5:51 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m off to Richmond to pick up the pup. Back tonight.


    Filed on at 5:36 am under by dcobranchi

    Here’s one from today’s News-Journal:

    Testing only hurts children in the end

    Here is another horror story of the incompetency of the No Child Left Behind law. My daughter is an honor roll student, graduated from 8th grade in the top seventh of her class, and has to attend summer school because she did not pass the DSTP math. How fair is this. Not only is this outrageous it is an absolute disgrace. It is saying strong and hard to these kids that they don’t care what you do all year as long as you pass this test.

    Congress needs to look at these statistics long and hard and change this law before it does drastic damage to our children. Not only does it effect them now but each parent then has to sign a form saying their child can be put in a slow class in high school for the next two years.
    If they don’t the child is retained in their present grade. My child is not slow. Please check the statistics on the eighth grade statewide tests and train your teachers. They are not teaching these children what it is they need to know to pass this test. It is our children who are suffering from this. We need to stop this ridiculous testing.

    Karen Thomas, Newark

    I highlight this letter to once again point out that NCLB does not require high-stakes testing. In fact, the law disses the concept. Congress has no power (excepting that which they steal) to make the states do anything regarding education, including high-stakes testing.


    Filed on June 26, 2004 at 7:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    HEM has a terrific article in their May-June issue chronicling just how often cyber-charters (and similar programs) are confused with homeschooling. One to bookmark.

    OT: PHHHH!!!!!

    Filed on at 4:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    Well that stinks. I just signed up to receive the MLB All access “broadcasts” so I could watch the Yankees games. But, all MLB games are blacked out due to Fox’s contract. Does that mean every Saturday day game for the whole season? What good is it, then?


    Filed on at 1:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    that Jesus was a Republican.

    That’s what this column that Izzy found says, anyway.


    Filed on at 12:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    Some New Hampshirites(?) are not exactly happy that the Free Staters are coming.

    “Their strategy is to essentially set up sleeper cells that will over time be activated,” he said of the Free State Project, which aims to bring 20,000 liberty-minded people to New Hampshire in the next five years.

    The Free Staters are taking it all in stride, though.

    Free State Project members arriving at the banquet walked by the painted signs, smiling and greeting the protesters.

    “Good job of using free speech, excellent,” said one Free Stater.


    Filed on at 12:46 pm under by dcobranchi

    When are educrats going to concentrate on educating kids and forget about all this other crap?

    Virginia education and health officials are considering several measures aimed at helping children be trim and fit, including issuing fitness report cards for students and setting nutritional standards for food available at schools, including in vending machines.

    The draft recommendations, released this week by a joint committee of the state’s Board of Education and Board of Health, represent the latest attempt to keep closer tabs not only on what students eat but also on how they exercise and how often. That scrutiny might not thrill children, but health experts say there is too much at stake not to act.

    Oh, wait. Since they’ve proven they can’t perform their primary function, this is the only way to justify their paychecks. Never mind.


    Filed on at 12:35 pm under by dcobranchi

    More competition is coming to the college market.

    For-profit University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest private university with an enrollment that includes 500 students at two Pittsburgh-area locations, wants to start competing for students as young as 18.

    The school, until now, has accepted only working adults in their 20s. But spokeswoman Ayla Dickey said demand exists among younger students, and though the plan is preliminary, Phoenix wants to begin enrolling them in parts of the country within a few months.

    …But Phoenix has gained a large clientele nationwide, including students who say more choice is better. Phoenix has 213,000 students, about half of them learning online, and operates in 30 states plus Puerto Rico and Canada.

    …Phoenix has thrived by tossing aside the typical notion of college. When it enters a metropolitan area, it’s not looking to build a sprawling, leafy campus, but rather goes for leasable office space, usually near major highways.

    There are no dormitories and no athletic teams. Phoenix has an online library. Instead of tenured faculty, it employs mostly part-time professionals, or “practitioner faculty.”

    Wonder of wonders- traditional colleges aren’t welcoming the competition.

    An official with one Pittsburgh university, when told about Phoenix’s plan, suggested the result would be needless duplication of programs.

    “Really, we find this surprising,” said Ginny Frizzi, a spokeswoman for Point Park University. “Given that Western Pennsylvania is already covered by so many colleges offering so many programs, there are already a lot of options for traditional age students.”

    We’ll see if they lobby the legislature for some speed bumps to keep Phoenix out.


    Filed on at 12:24 pm under by dcobranchi

    A NYC g-school student blasted her school during her valedictory address. The educrats weren’t happy.

    The valedictorian of a Brooklyn high school was escorted out of the building and denied her diploma yesterday because she trashed the school in a scorching graduation speech.

    The school says it won’t give Tiffany Schley her sheepskin until she says she’s sorry – but the 17-year-old is unrepentant.

    I think this probably falls under the First Amendment. Someone call the ACLU.


    Filed on at 12:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    …to our family.

    We’re getting one of these pups tomorrow. I’ll post a photo when I can.


    Filed on June 25, 2004 at 7:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    Yes, the kids are obnoxious. But, this bus driver has a bit of an ego problem:

    A black school bus driver filed a complaint with authorities after seeing two children dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and carrying a cross at one of her stops.

    “…I don’t think this is funny,” she said. “I’m an employee for the public school system. I shouldn’t have to deal with this.”


    Filed on at 6:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a nice piece profiling a 13-year-old homeschooler who is studying Bach at Harvard’s Extension School.


    Filed on at 9:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Esta M. Rapoport
    61 Cowdin Circle
    Chappaqua, New York 10514

    Cell Phone-914-629-4225
    E-mail: Erapoport1@aol.com

    June 4, 2004

    To Whom It May Concern,

    I am a doctoral student at the Boston University School of Education in the department of Special Education. I am doing a pilot study this summer as a precursor to my dissertation. The title of my pilot study as well as my dissertation is: “Parents’ Engagements in the Social Skills Training of their Homeschooled Children who have Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder-Inattentive Type and Comorbid Social Phobia”. I am looking for parents who homeschool their children who fit into this diagnostic criteria. I realize that I may have to travel in order to locate and research this specific population. Please advise me if you know any families who fit the parameters of my research and would be willing to participate. Brian Ray has informed me that I may suggest to anyone interested in my study to talk to him about it. Thank you very much.


    Esta M. Rapoport


    Filed on at 7:30 am under by dcobranchi

    A MA school is targeting homeschoolers (among others) in order to bring them back into the fold.

    The marketing plan is meant to offset this problem, which has helped lead about 15 percent of the village’s families with elementary-age children to send them elsewhere for schooling.

    …The marking plan features four primary events on which the school community will focus: a Halloween festival, a skating party, a fishing derby, and a pie auction. The respective tentative dates are Oct. 29 and Jan. 28, April 16, and June 6 next year.

    Each of the events will be heavily promoted and publicized, and postcards will be sent home with children in pre-schools, home schools, and private schools.

    The day the local schools contact my family is the day we go sub rosa.


    Filed on at 3:01 am under by dcobranchi

    Parents, teachers, and other educrats rallied in Dover for more money for education. During the budget crisis schools took a $7M hit and they want their (our) money back, now that the state is at least solvent.

    “We did our part at a time of fiscal restraint,” said George Stone, superintendent of the Delmar School District. “It just doesn’t make sense to penalize our children by asking our schools to operate with less.”

    One problem, though. The budget already calls for a $70M increase in school spending. That’s 8.6 percent! And they want still more?! I hope voters punish the Republican legislators who demagogued on this issue come November. Not likely, if this parent is any indication:

    Seaford parent Susan Michel attended because she is concerned about the quality of the education her children are receiving.

    “How can they maintain the quality if they don’t have the funds?” she asked.



    Filed on at 2:46 am under by dcobranchi

    Joe Biden quoted in Rolling Stone:

    I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the president asked me what I would do about resignations. I said, “Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not.” And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, “Mr. Vice President, I wouldn’t keep you if it weren’t constitutionally required.” I turned back to the president and said, “Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they’ve been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they’ve given you. That’s why I’d get rid of them, Mr. President — not just Abu Ghraib.” They said nothing. Just sat like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me.

    If true, the guy’s got some guts. If not, he still has guts for telling a huge whopper. No way of knowing, though. (via Ryan Cormier)


    Filed on June 24, 2004 at 6:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Steph at 1/16 is on a roll today. This post is a classic. We also get the odd looks when we’re out with all four of our kids (bookend boys, unlike Steph). And, yes, occasionally we get very dumb questions.


    Filed on at 3:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    According to this website, you can test homeschooling-related products in your home.

    Thank you for your interest in becoming a Product Tester for Homeschool.com. Our goal is for every family to receive at least one product to test. This is a new program and we don’t know whether we will have hundreds of families signup to become Testers — or tens-of-thousands. The Product Tester program is very win-win. Homeschoolers receive free products. Homeschooled kids get to know that their opinion counts. Parents like it that the kids have to write up the reviews. And educational companies get feedback on their products.

    Might be worth a shot.


    Filed on at 6:59 am under by dcobranchi

    As a shining symbol of democracy, the United States capital is not ordinarily a place where coronations occur. So news that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the eccentric and exceedingly wealthy Korean-born businessman, donned a crown in a Senate office building and declared himself the Messiah while members of Congress watched is causing a bit of a stir.

    One congressman, Representative Danny K. Davis, Democrat of Illinois, wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding one of two ornate gold crowns that were placed on the heads of Mr. Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, at the ceremony, which took place March 23 and capped a reception billed as a peace awards banquet.

    …”I remember the king and queen thing,” said Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, Republican of Maryland, “But we have the king and queen of the prom, the king and queen of 4-H, the Mardi Gras and all sorts of other things. I had no idea what he was king of.”

    …Mr. Cummings, however, said the invitation was similar to countless requests he receives to honor local constituents, in this case a black bishop in his district. Mr. Bartlett said he attended to support The Washington Times. “I’m a conservative,” he said. “I’m delighted that we have a middle-of-the-road paper in Washington.”

    Well, if Mr. Bartlett believes that the WashTimes is a middle-of-the-road paper, it’s easy to understand how he might have confused Moon’s coronation with Mardi Gras.

    The Times, of course, is owned by Moon’s Unification Church. Interestingly, so is UPI. That, I didn’t know.


    Filed on at 6:18 am under by dcobranchi

    We all like to trumpet the successes. Sometimes, though, a kid is better off in school. This appears to be one of them.


    Filed on at 6:05 am under by dcobranchi

    Newsday has a thought-provoking column on teen sex and the media. Sheryl McCarthy pretty much blames MTV for the sad state of affairs (although parents take a hit, too). Her point would have been better taken, though, without the racy Victoria’s Secret ad running down the right side of the column.


    Filed on at 1:30 am under by dcobranchi

    over at Brian’s blog.


    Filed on at 12:40 am under by dcobranchi

    WARNING: Some coarse content follows.

    Homeschooling rates a very brief mention in this commentary from the Sydney Star Observer. The article is interesting in that if Howard Stern read it over the airwaves, he’d be facing more fines. I guess things are a bit more laid back down under.


    Filed on June 23, 2004 at 7:53 pm under by dcobranchi

    Yesterday I predicted that Florida bureaucrats would try to pin their ineptitude on homeschooling. Sadly, I was right.

    On Tuesday, DCF said it would conduct a “full case review” and institute at least two policy changes.

    The agency will ask judges to ensure that foster children go to public or private schools, no longer allowing home-schooling. The girl in this case had been home schooled for two years by the couple who served as her caregivers.

    “Schools do provide a measure of protection,” said DCF district administrator Don Thomas.

    Is there some DYS rulebook somewhere that tells them to point at the homeschoolers whenever they screw up?


    Filed on at 3:35 am under by dcobranchi

    Mrs. Who (Who?) has started a homeschool blog as of yesterday. Welcome to the blogosphere.


    Filed on at 3:04 am under by dcobranchi

    The Wilmington News-Journal goes all statist (again) in this editorial.

    It is a sad day when Delaware, the first state to ratify the Constitution, acquires the ignominious status as last in something important. But because of a handful of recalcitrant Democratic legislators in the General Assembly, we are now the only state without a .08 percent blood alcohol standard for drunken driving.

    Montana approved such legislation last month, leaving only Delaware out of compliance with federal highway safety standards.

    I don’t agree with the reasons that Delaware is last to cave in to the feds but I certainly applaud the result. The practice of the federal government taxing citizens is order to blackmail/bribe state legislatures is wrong and the ought to be forbidden. I hope that Delaware lives up to its nickname and rebels against this policy. Not likely, I’m sure, but I can dream.

    SHE’S 100% WRONG

    Filed on June 22, 2004 at 8:02 am under by dcobranchi

    I have no doubt that this Virginia columnist would have made a great home educator.

    One of the glorious benefits of living in this great republic is that we are free to rear our children as we see fit. We can teach them to be vegans, Wiccans or Marxists and there is nothing the government can – or should – do about it.

    Where we teach them should be left up to us, too.

    So unless Gov. Mark Warner can come up with something other than a bedrock belief that government knows best, he should step aside and allow parents to educate their children.

    Read the whole thing.


    Filed on at 7:54 am under by dcobranchi

    The details of this case are eerily reminiscent of the Collinswood debacle and it’s clone.

    A Department of Children and Families attorney told a judge Monday that a malnourished 10-year-old girl was “at risk of imminent death,” even as the agency said case workers routinely visited her home over the past four years.

    The girl weighed 29 pounds – as much as 60 pounds below normal for her age – when the agency pulled her from a Hernando County home last month after an abuse complaint. Authorities said she had sunken eyes, hollow cheeks and skin draped over her ribs.

    Her caregivers, 46-year-old Arthur Allain Jr. and his wife, Lori Allain, 47, each were charged Friday with aggravated child abuse and child neglect before being released on $10,000 bail.

    She and her half-brother, 14, had been living with “nonrelative caregivers,” the couple and their four biological sons.

    The Allains say the girl was malnourished when the state turned her over to them four years ago and that her claims of mistreatment are lies.

    …The girl, whom the Allains say they have been homeschooling the past two years, told investigators she had been locked in her room and was given a paintbucket to go to the bathroom.

    The family was under the supervision of Youth Services who seem (once again) to have completely dropped the ball. Dollars-to-donuts the bureaucrats try to misdirect attention to homeschooling. Ignore that man behind the curtain.

    180 DEGREES

    Filed on at 7:47 am under by dcobranchi

    This is an interesting comment from the mom of a young surfer.

    Carol Moore, Carissa’s mother, said “education is a priority.” She said they are not thinking about putting Carissa in a home-school program to help her surfing career.

    “She’s in a very good school now, and she keeps up with the academic work,” Carol said. “We don’t want to give that up. We’d like for her to graduate from Punahou before she does any (professional) surfing.”

    She sounds a bit defensive about her choice. That just goes to show how much homeschooling has become the default for world-class athletes.


    Filed on at 5:56 am under by dcobranchi

    More lawyers.

    Delaware State University President Allen L. Sessoms is exploring the idea of starting a law school in Dover.

    Sessoms said he was approached by local officials who said Delaware has one of the best court systems in the country and should have a law school to match. He did not name the officials.

    “…Law schools are very expensive,” he said, adding it could cost up to $50 million. “We would want to make sure we had the money in hand first.”


    Filed on at 5:31 am under by dcobranchi

    Kim Campbell very sweetly asked me to take a look at her “homeskool” blog. A self-described “perblog,” it’s quite good. Kim’s only been blogging a couple of weeks, but she’s already mastered the “art.”

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