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Proud Californians

By Peter P follow Peter P   2006 Apr 18, 4:29am 17,046 views   329 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    

We are all proud Californians. Let's talk about things that we ought to be very proud of.

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290   Randy H   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:16pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I attended a hollowed out HS in a farm town in BF, Ohio. I was a college prep kid, and took all whopping two AP courses that were offered. I was a stellar student and heavily involved in various extracurricular activities, often in a leadership role.

I applied to a lot of schools, including MIT, CASE, and two Ivys. I was accepted by all those but one Ivy, which shocked the hell out of me and more so my parents who knew there was no way in hell we could swing it (and I didn't have full command of my debt options, being that our counselor at school only knew about vocational school stuff since very few went to college at all). I was only rejected by one other school, a small state school in Ohio which markets itself far beyond its value (they told me I had insufficient non academic credentials).

291   OO   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:21pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


did you apply for financial aid and tuition waivers, I know of someone who got 80% of his tuition covered by the school, not loans, a grant. We international students didn't have that option, had to pay through our nose even at the public schools. A friend of mine went to Berkeley for undergrad, paid $18,000 a year as an international student.

292   OO   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:29pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


first of all, you are looking backwards, Nobel prize is typically granted to someone for his achievement 20+ years ago.

Second, most of my friends with brilliant kids do a lot of heavy-lifting themselves, the ivy-trained dual-PhD parents are home schooling half the time on a much more advanced curriculum they brought along from home countries.

If you look around the good public school district, they are all relatively affluent areas with highly educated parents. So it's not the public school that is doing the job, it is the parents. Until we are ok with leaving someone behind and advancing at the pace of the best 20% of the class, I am not for wasting more money on the public school system.

293   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:30pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


You wuz robbed! I had plenty of friends whose parents didn't pay for a cent of their college education. Pricy private education is very doable, as long as your parents were poor.

294   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:36pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Randy, very similar to my story, I was a poor rural kid in a rural High School. I got into CalTech, Cornell, Harvey Mudd and UC Berkeley, but not into Stanford, dunno why.

CalTech basically offered me a full ride, since they are so weathly, the offered to pay the part of my financial aid not covered by Pell and Cal Grants. But this was back in 1982, when the government was willing to pay more of your education.

I failed out though and blew that chance, so I went into the Army and did a stint as a medic to get the GI funds for education, which I spent at UC Berkeley.

I did all my own research on getting scholarships, grants, etc though since I knew my counselor was not too sharp at my high school. Very few of us went off to college and those that did mostly went to Chico State.

295   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:38pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


SF schools, like all big urban schools, are messed up by urban politics. It might be okay if your daughter turns out to be very bright and get into a good magnet school. Otherwise, she's probably better in private school or public school in a good school district.

296   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:41pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Thanks for illustrating why the going to Nowheresville school is not really a great option. These schools do such a poor job of college prep, so that even if you get into a big name school, you're not ready to compete academically in the first year.

297   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:44pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

It used to be poor kids can go into the military and climb up that way. BushCo's war really messed up that option.

298   Randy H   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 4:51pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I was robbed, and probably didn't maximize the financial options available. Actually, MIT tried to convince me to continue the process my admissions rep called me a couple of times telling me we could make this work somehow.

My parents were against it, so that was probably the real reason. Try telling parents who are thrilled that you're just going to college at all, and would have been quite content with a local community college and an Associates degree, that you want to go to MIT. Keep in mind, these were Midwestern parents with Midwestern humility. They also weren't poor enough to get any grants. This was during the teeth of the Reagan 80s, after they revised the income calculation to include the value of farm land and other "non wealth" factors. My wife also grew up in Ohio, and she was bona fide poor. But, since they were poor farmers, she didn't qualify for a cent of government grant money.

299   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 5:01pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Yeah, I was totally unprepared for CalTech. Part of it was just my own immaturity, going off to college at 17, but a big part of it was that there was nothing really academically demanding at this rural high school. I took the best honors classes (there were no AP classes), starred in the High School play, went to All State Band playing the French Horn, was President of the Chess Club, etc and worked part time but I was completely used to getting As with no homework.

As you can imagine, CalTech was quite a shock. Before you knew it I was a half quarter behind and there is no catching up in that place.

Plus there were no girls, but that is a different story....

300   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 5:03pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


You could have legally separated yourself from your parents. Looking back, loans back then would not be so crushing considering the improved earning potential

Oh well, it didn't matter that much in the long run. You stilled turned out to be a whip smart Mill Valley MBA :P

301   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 5:04pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Should have gone to Harvey Mudd, right next door to an all girls school :P

302   Randy H   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 5:12pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

LOL, thanks astrid.

There was a look-back (at least then), so legally separating from your parents didn't help for 3 years, if I remember correctly. A lot of farm kids who wanted to go to college did this and worked for a couple years under the table until they could get loans. My problem was that my mother owned a share in an "estate", which owned mainly my deceased grandfather's land. But it was non-liquid, and no one was willing or smart enough to take out a loan against it. My mom didn't, and still doesn't, even understand what an interest rate is (yet she just took a big HELOC, despite my protestations).

Oh hell, it's all bygones now. On with life and off to bed. At least I did end up going to a school with tons of girls ;)

303   Girgl   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 5:17pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Jimbo says:
Girgl, I think you overestimate the quality of education overseas, or at the very least the importance of secondary education. Our colleges are still the best in the world and how can that be if they start with the world’s worst High School students? I just don’t buy the standard line that the American educational system is so bad. We still generate the most Nobel Prizes, the best scientists, the most clever engineers and on and on to the point where our economy is still the envy of the world.

I agree that U.S. colleges are the best in the world. I also did not want to state that CA high school students are the worst in the world. They're just as smart, if not smarter, than kids in other places.

However, I will stand by my statement that they're 1-2 years behind everybody else, simply because they're not asked to learn as much. Also, they _have to_ miss out on learning whole subjects of quite useful stuff because classes are just not offered due to lack of funding.

In essence, they're leaving high school knowing less about the world than kids in other places who have gone through the same number of years of schooling.

It may not matter all that much when they specialize themselves in college and won't need World History, Physics or French anymore, but it may help them understand the world better on a day-to-day basis.

I hear that it's not always been that way. Friends who grew up in CA and have their kids in local high schools today tell me that both the academic level and the choice in classes has diminished a lot since they went to school.

I am sure our high schools could do better, especially here in California where we have been starving secondary education for decades. By some measures, California schools are 40th or worse in the nation. But we still end up generating a tremendous number of great college graduates. My guess is that we are doing a poor job with many and very good job with a few. We should spend more resources on our public schools.

I fear that throwing more money at the existing, broken system might not help much. It's just going to make it worse by cementing the bullshit into place.
Have you been to a public school board meeting? I have been at a few, and IMHO, the pieces of the puzzle come together quite neatly.

304   OO   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 5:25pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


there is nothing to regret, you've done very well for youself coming from a rural background, and because of that, you seem to have an incredibly grounded perspective about the world, which is very precious. After your first job, nobody gives a damn about which school you go to.

Just make sure when it comes to your kids, grab every single penny of grant and financial aid available out there, ok?

305   Jimbo   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 5:36pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

No, I have never been to a school board meeting.

I do know firsthand that education was better in the Rocky Mountains in the late 70s though and it is probably more true today.

My parents were divorcing, so I bounced between Wyoming, Montana and California schools and I was always a year or so ahead when going to California schools and then scrambling to catch up when I was back in Wyoming schools. It must be worse today.

I do remember being amazed at how many more counselors, vice principals, nurses, etc, there were at California schools. In Wyoming there is just a bunch of teachers, one principal and maybe a secretary. In California, there is always a whole building full of administrators, so you might have a point.

But California schools were better back in the 70s when we spent more money on them, even with all the waste. I am sure we could spend our money more efficiently, but even so, money helps. My aunt is a principal at a grade school in Riverside and when she gave me a tour of the school, I was kind of amazed at how meagre the accomidations for the teachers were, how old the books were and in general how little it looked like they spent on everything.

306   Peter P   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 6:06pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

New thread: Housing futures

307   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 6:28pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

“the top 10% are our leaders for the future”

hmm, very functionalist point of view - doesn't take into account the behaviour patterns of the establishment elite, who try to pass on their privileges to their offspring regardless of actual merit or ability. one study by hans eysenck showed a 'regression to the mean' of IQ when he studied intelligent men in management and their children (in other words the children were less intelligent), but i don't think he accounted for the IQ of the women they married, conducting the study in the 60s. i don't think they considered that women had intelligence or an IQ back then, or it was too tiny to be measurable...

308   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 6:37pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

interestingly, when American exchange students come to Sydney to study for a semester, a lot of them complain they are getting Cs when they were getting As in their college courses back home, and that the workload is much harder.

Further, I spoke to a guy recently who is in his late 40s or early 50s, who runs his own medical equipment servicing business, who did his college degree in America years ago, somewhere in NY - he says the courses back then were still easier, and that he couldn't get any recognition for his qualification in Australia.

however, i doubt whether the intelligence spectrum is much different across the countries, the participation rate in university is relatively low here, and the (conservative) govt actually wants to make it lower - they think people should be learning a trade and getting a job rather than doing a 'useless' degree that doesn't vocationally equip them for anything much. i expect attending caltech or MIT etc would be every bit as difficult or more so than a science degree in australia, and uni is what you make of it to some extent. i wouldn't congratulate myself on producing loads of gifted scientists and engineers, etc given a population of 280 million with a technically oriented society which values higher education - it's fairly automatic. the scots produced a bizarrely high number of engineers and scinetists etc when you consider their small population and appalling weather ;)

309   Different Sean   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 6:52pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

But then, she is a un-reconstituted Trotskyite. (Maybe I should introduce her to Different Sean, drive him crazy with her notions, and turn him into a Libertarian…)

i've heard it all before, heh... if you're not a trotskyite in your 20s, you've got no heart, and if you're not a libertarian capitalist free market fundamentalist apologist schweinhund by your 30s, you've got no brain... apparently...

310   Garth Farkley   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 19, 8:53pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

And the number one reason to be pround of California is....

311   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 1:24am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Engineering is a fairly class free occupation. Anyone could go into it and travel the world if they were capable enough. The Scots probably just studied it to escape the appalling weather.

312   Randy H   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 2:29am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Do you know if they're still planning on closing the Corte Madera Lyce'e?

Do you happen to know a couple who live in Half Moon Bay/El Granada with two sons at Lyce'e SF? You'd know him if you met him; quite an eccentric, but a great friend of mine.

313   Randy H   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 2:54am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


We were strongly considering Lyce'e in CM. My friend has been selling Lyce'e over FAS. I'd love to hear your perspective. We're not so concerned about IB (but it would be nice), but more early language immersion and international perspective (call it helping him hedge the future).

Our first choice were the German American schools (he's been learning German & English since day 1), but since we moved to Marin they are too far to be practical.

Brief soapbox: it is a tragedy that the public schools don't touch language until well past a child's prime developmental language opportunity stage. I have never, for the life of me, understood this.

314   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 4:24am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

SFWoman and SQT,

Are there any Japanese American schools around the BA and if so, any thoughts about them? This is purely hypothetical (since I still have serious reservations about having kids), but I figure if I have any I'd teach them Mandarin, and if they're forced to learn Kanji, they might as well learn Japanese.

315   Randy H   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 4:58am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


One more practical question: is it at all realistic to put a child into either French school without a fluent French speaking parent (my wife only speaks at a moderate level)? My friend at Lyce'e said there were some parents there like that, but they are definitely the "out" crowd. More importantly, I want to be able to provide a lot of homework support, which I cannot do in French.

316   Randy H   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 5:41am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Thanks for everything :)

317   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 6:21am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Thanks! :)

318   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 6:34am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

P.S. -- the Chinese American school does look very interesting. It's a pity they don't seem to offer other languages. Your FAIS sounds much better.

319   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 8:02am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


I really appreciate this discussion about kids and languages. Languages and social skills are indeed the most important things to teach young children, and both are sadly neglected even in the best public school systems.

I'll have to outsource any European language learning though, I'm a very poor language scholar. I'm very lucky that Chinese is a foreign language here.

320   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 8:08am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


You've still got Eton to hang over their heads. Tell them about the overcast weather and no proximity to beaches. Talk up the appalling English cooking. That should get them to eat faster. :P

321   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 9:33am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Last week, I was talking to a Latin teacher who decided to pick up Chinese in mid life. He was very enthusiastic and I'm sure he has a natural affinity for languages (he also speaks Hebrew, Greek, French, and maybe something else), but it was very hard for me to follow his Chinese.

The very adept languist can probably pick up the nuances if they live in China for a little while (I've heard a few Americans speak nearly flawless tonal Mandarin), but it's probably just very hard.

I notice that a lot of Chinese here, especially those who arrived as kids, speak a flat sounding Chinese. For kids who were born here, their Chinese often seems no better (no more tonal) than the Caucasians, even though their parents start sending them to Chinese school at 5 or 6.

To some degree, my Mandarin has flattened too because I speak Shanghai dialect with my parents and English with everyone else, so my Mandarin gets rusty. But I can pick up the nuances if I spend a week in Beijing or two weeks in Shanghai.

Good grief! English food = curry + Chinese takeout! I wonder how they'd receive the infamous fried Mars bars.

322   Joe Schmoe   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 10:07am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

SFWoman, Astrid,

My first professional job was in NYC's Chinatown. 99% of our clients were Chinese, and all of the office staff were Chinese too. More Chinese was spoken in our office than English. I made no effort to learn Chinese, I just overheard conversations held in Chinese day long.

One day when I was at an asylum hearing, the IJ asked my client a question. My client did not speak English, just Fujianese, so an interpreter was present to translate all of the questions and answers. When the IJ was doing the preliminary examination of my client (name, address, date of birth, etc.) I was sort of listening with one ear and thinking my the upcoming direct examination. The IJ asked a question, and the interpreter translated it, and I said, without thinking, "no, that's not right. The question was whether he had ever been convicted of a crime, not whether he had ever been arrested," or something like that. Somehow, I had picked up enough Chinese to understand what the interpreter and my client were saying to one another.

I was shocked because I had not realized that I understood Chinese until then. In the months that followed I started to pick up more and more. For example, one time our secertaries were discussing pop culture at lunch and I was able to follow the conversation. Toward the end I understood probably 70% of what was said.

I could not SPEAK the language to save my life, however. But I could understand it. It was like in those 50's westerns, where the cowboy points to native american colleague and "he doesn't speak English, but he understands it just fine," or something.

Sadly, I forgot all my Chinese almost instantly after moving away, I am sure I would have to start over from square one today. But I have no doubt that an adult could learn to understand Chinese. Maybe speaking it is another matter, I just don't know, but understanding it seems doable.

323   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 10:19am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Joe Schmoe,

I grew up with Chinese, so I just know, rather than know how. So it's interesting to hear it from another perspective. Perhaps your Chinese immersed office is the best way to learn Chinese. Did you notice any tonal differences between the secretaries?

324   OO   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 10:40am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Joe Schmoe,

what you understood was Mandarin or Cantonese? Quite different from each other.

325   Joe Schmoe   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 10:52am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Yes. Most of our cleints (and office staff) were poor people from Fuchzou province who were not well educated.

Our paralegal/office manager was a college graudate, however, and her Chinese sounded different. The INS-certified translator we usually used was a graduate of a US college, and his Chinese was different too. Just before I left a secretary who was also a college graduate came back from materntiy leave, and her Chinese really stood out, I could tell that her diction was flawless even though I didn't speak the language. Ironically, I had a hard time understanding her.

I could sort of tell how intelligent a client was by listening to him speak. But it wasn't a question of being articulate, it was tonal. I hope that makes sense, I don't know, but the smart ones just sounded different.

99.999% of our clients were economic refugees, people who wanted to come to the US to build a better life. At first I thought their motivations were strictly economic, although I didn't care becuase if I grew up in Fuzhou City I'd want to move to the US too, but I later learned that they really did value our political freedoms, they just didn't talk about that.

All of the clients just made up their stories of persecution, I could never convince them to tell the truth no matter how hard I tried, and I tried hard becuase I thought a couple of them might have credible claims, but no one would ever listen to me. It was almost funny; they'd claim to be Catholic, and at the aslyum hearing the INS trial attorney would ask questions like "have you ever been to church," (they'd say no), or "who is Jesus Christ" (I don't know), etc. At the beginning of the process I would always encourage the "Christians" to go to church, etc., but no one ever did. The women would all claim they had been forcibly sterilized, but the doctor would do an ultrasound during the medical exam which would reveal that there had been no tubal ligation, etc.

However, we did have a few legitimate asylym claimants. I could always tell who they were just by listening to them for a minute or two. They sounded different somehow. And again, it wasn't their mannerisms or confident air -- they sounded different. For example, a lot of our male clients of a certain age claimed to have been at Tienamen square or one of the related protests in other cities, but one time we got a guy who really had been there -- and he had pictures! At the hearing the INS trial attorney realzied that this guy was legit after questioning him for about two minutes and actually made an oral motion for judgment in the asylee's favor!

One time we had this guy who had become sort of a conscientious objector while in the PLA; I was never able to prove that his story was legit, but I knew he was telling the truth. I won that case, thank God, becuase the judge made a really stupid ruling, and I won my appeal to the BIA and convinced the New York office to agree to a grant of asylum when it was was remanded. This client was just as afraid and inarticulate as all the others but somehow listening to him I knew he was telling the truth. That case was incrediby stressful, though, becuause I knew this guy was for real but had absolutely no evidence of it, and the client otherwise acted like, and was every bit as unhelpful as, the phonies. I coached him for days but the hearing was a disaster, he'd never look you in the eye while testifying, he was meek and hesitant, etc. Thank goodness I won the appeal and the INS dropped it in the end, I sort of had to call in a favor there but it worked out. It was scary as heck, though.

So yeah, there were huge tonal differneces between the secretaries and the clients. You could tell who was educated, who was intelligent, and who was truthful just by listening to people talk for a minute or two.

326   Joe Schmoe   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 10:58am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Well, it was a dialect called Fujianese, which I think is a variant of Mandarin, but I am not sure. Almost all of our clients were from the Fujian province, that is where most Chinese immigrants to NYC in the 90's came from. We did have a guy from northern China one time, and one the clients who actually was entitled to political asylum was a doctor from someplace else in China, a big city that I had never heard of, but everyone else was from Fujian province, usually the area around Fuzhou city.

I think Mandarin is the official language in the PRC, and when the INS sent a Mandarin interpreter to the hearings the clients could understand them but my impression from talking to people was that Fujianese is a pretty distinct dialect, they spoke about it as if it were another language entirely.

327   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 11:15am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Standard Mandarin is the dialect of the area around Beijing. Once you move away from that area, there's variations in what is considered Mandarin and also regional dialects. You're right about Fujianese, I can't understand Fujianese at all, that's totally different from Mandarin. Same with Cantonese, I can't understand that at all.

Usually, the more educated you are, the more standard your Mandarin. The education system is now set up so that all the urban dwellers in the coastal provinces can speak pretty good Mandarin, but I've been to Hunan and Sichuan, and their Mandarin is not quite as standard. Your clients were probably Fujianese peasants so their "Mandarin" would be pretty poor. (BTW, NYC seems to have a huge Fujianese population that causes a lot of problems within the Chinese community. The established Cantonese residents really resent them.)

I was brought up in Shanghai, everyone was taught in Mandarin from first grade. However, if you listen carefully, you can still tell that my Mandarin has less tongue curling than someone from Beijing. Shanghainese is just as hard to learn (if not harder) than other dialects, my mother's mother came with the Red Army from Shandong when she was 18, she still can't speak Shanghainese. (Or think in Shanghainese, she named my mother and her siblings names that sound very similar in Shanghainese, which results in a lot of confusion in my family.)

328   Joe Schmoe   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 11:30am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Thanks. You said what I was thinking, I didn't want to say "peasants," but that's what they were in terms of background. One time a INS in-house translator I knew, who was not from Fujian, admitted that he could only understand about half of what my clients said while testifying! That didn't phase him in the least, though, he kept on going to the hearings. I asked him if he at least accurately translated the judge's questions, and he said no, he just sort of paraphrased.

The system was like that. Sometimes no INS translator would be avaiable and they'd let us bring our own! Our secretaries would not even bother translating the question or the client's response, instead they'd simply tell the INS whatever they wanted to hear.

I really hope to pick up Chinese again later in life. There are a lot of Chinese people in my neighborhood now but they are from Taiwan and HK and I do not understand them at all, not one bit. It was nice to be on the same wavelength with people and my limited knowledge of Chinese really helped with that when I was living in NYC.

329   astrid   ignore (0)   2006 Apr 20, 12:06pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


"I didn’t want to say “peasants"

LOL! No need for PC here. The Chinese are some of the least PC people there are. There were (are?) a lot of Fujianese people trafficing rings and it created a terrible situation in the NYC community, with lots of gangs, violence, virtual slavery, and so on. They were probabably told to tell you about their "Catholicism" and whatever. 99% of it was phoney.

Taiwan "Mandarin" is pretty different from Mainland Mandarin. The difference would be at least as much as between a Southerner and a Yankee.

Chinese is a great language to pick up, if you can. Chinese people are always really impressed by white guys (and yeah, more often than not, it is a guy) who understands or can speak Chinese.

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