12/29/2009 08:28:00 pm

Lizzie and the Zombies

Posted by Tom French |

Pride Prejudice And Zombies.jpg

I finished listening to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies today. I've been listening to the audio book as I work.

I think this is the ideal way to read the classics. First you don't have to read them, second you get all the goodness of the classics, third you have zombies. What more could you want in your literature education?

For those of you who don't know the book, it's Pride and Prejudice the classic novel, with zombies inserted. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy are both accomplished zombie hunters. And every now and again the zombies pop up in the book and a bit of zombie slaying goes on. But aside from that the plot and much of the original text is unchanged.

So it was good fun. I'm sure some people will feel that this makes a mockery of Austin and her work. But I'm inclined to feel like it's just a tribute. Or perhaps making something good even better. To be perfectly honest, I was more interested in how Darcy and Lizzy would get together and what would happen to Jane and Bingley then I was enjoying the zombie fights. But the zombie fights were cool. As were Lizzy's duel with ninjas. Sweet.

They're going to make a film of it with Natalie Portman. I hope they get Danny Boyle to direct it. He'd be awesome.

Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that Pride and Prejudice is a much better romance book to be reading than, say, Twilight. As far as I can tell (and I have read a bit of the original) it's funny, well written, and neither Lizzy nor Mr Darcy are perfect in any way. That's three things Twilight doesn't have.

But perhaps best of all is when you add the zombies, because there is little that can't be improved by the addition of zombies (except perhaps I am Legend).

12/28/2009 12:31:00 am

Church Going

Posted by Tom French |

You can tell it's a public holiday tomorrow, I went to the cinema tonight and it was full of Christians there for some post-Church filmic fun.

How did I know they were Christians? It was their Holy Spirit aura, their non-offensive hair cuts, and their "Two Salty" t-shirts. That, and I know 1 in every 10 Christians in Hornsby.

12/27/2009 11:54:00 pm

Three Times Once a Year

Posted by Tom French |

Christmas Picnic.jpg

I do enjoy Christmas. It was good this year. I think I enjoy it more again now that I've moved past the stage of needing to get awesome presents. And I've moved past the stage of it needing to be the most exciting day of the year. These days Christmas is a good chance to hang out with friends and family and get a bit of loot on the side.

And it was a pretty good year for loot.

Perhaps the most exciting present this year was that I'm getting new shoes. New shoes shouldn't be that exciting, but this is my current daily foot wear:

Old Shoes.jpg

So you can understand why I'm excited that I'll soon be trotting around in a new pair. Preferably shoes with magical powers.

I also got money, t-shirts, a cd, a subscription to Time magazine, and a bunch of DVDs (which I bought with the money I got).

But probably the highlight was getting to see a bunch of people I love.

Christmas Eve was dinner with the Fam, Grandpa, Valentina and Auntie Lys. Christmas Day we went to Cremorne Point for a picnic with a many people who aren't my blood family but but are some of my favourite people in the world. Boxing Day was in the Gong with all the cousins from Dad's side of the family. It's pretty special packing all these important people into three days of Christmas.

Perhaps it was most special though remembering that Jesus is with us. I know that's the sort of thing I should be saying, but it is special. God came to us, to live like us and with us. And not only that, he grew up to be someone amazing and to do something universe changing, all out of love. In my book that's gotta be worth celebrating by hanging out with the people you love and getting new shoes.

Christmas Fun.jpg

Photo evidence that Christmas is fun. (Thank you iPhone)

12/24/2009 11:31:00 pm

Emmanuel

Posted by Tom French |

I've been thinking a little bit about how Christmas is often a time of year that many people get lonely, yet it's exactly the time of year that reminds us that God has not left us alone.

12/23/2009 10:59:00 pm

Nothing is Any Good if Other People Like It

Posted by Tom French |

I was sitting on a roof today, painting, minding my own business, when I thought to myself, "What's the time?". I was hungry for lunch. I pulled out my phone and it was off. "Odd," I thought, "I had plenty of battery left." I pressed the power button. My phone vibrated, it was a text message from my friend Chris. It said "Are you free this afternoon? Please say yes".

Then the text message faded before my eyes. And with that, my trusty old Nokia was dead.

Totally dead.

Dead as Mozart.

I realised without a phone, life gets difficult to organise.

So I went up to the shops tonight to get a new phone. I was tossing up between a new contract or buying the cheapest crappy phone outright. I decided to go with whatever option would give me the most cash right then. I had presents to buy.

As it turns out I could have got a phone outright for $39. But I could get on a new plan and pay nothing right now. So I signed up to a $1400+, 24-month plan, to save $39 tonight. If that's not good economics, I don't know what is.

The phone I got is an iPhone. It's pretty depressing. I was hoping to avoid the iPhone, but it seems it's pull is unavoidable. Steve Jobs seduced me like a busty, adulterous, Jewess, calling to me in the twilight.

My main issue is that everyone has an iPhone. I want to be unique. I want a cool phone that no-one else has. I want my old, crappy phone back which could do nothing except make calls and text but had the retro cool of an old man on a school bus*.

But who am I kidding? I'm a slave to pragmatism. The iPhone was the cheapest, good phone option. At least, cheapest, good phone that didn't mean I'd have to learn a whole new way of using a phone. So now I have an iPhone, and you can all judge me because I'm a conformist, just like you. That's right, you, you're probably reading this on your iPhone right now.

Anyway, I am now enjoying playing with it. And really enjoying updating my contacts in Google and having them automatically updated on my phone, that's way cool. I'm sure I'll get over my depression soon if this Google-Apple marriage keeps the magic going.

However if I'm friends with you, and we have known each other for less than 12 years, or you've changed numbers in the past 12 years, chances are I don't have your phone number. Many phone numbers didn't make the jump from old, dead phone, to new, hip phone. So I'd love it if you could email me your phone number an I'll update you in Google, which will update my phone and I'll praise God for synchronisation.

Actually while you're at it, send me the number of any friends we have in common. Or any friends we should have in common. Or any busty, Jewesses you think I might like to meet.

Now I should go to bed. I have to wake up early in the morning and regret selling my soul to Optus once again.

*That's a fun, friendly, old man, not a creepy, dirty, old man. My phone was never creepy.

12/22/2009 10:49:00 pm

Battle Studies

Posted by Tom French |

I did some Christmas shopping. Managed to buy myself John Mayer's new album. There are three people not getting Christmas presents now, but sometimes we all need to make sacrifices don't we? Bloody whingers.

I love John Mayer.

I'm just about to set fire to everything I see
I want you so bad I'll go back on the things I believe
- Edge of Desire

12/18/2009 05:57:00 pm

Land Ho

Posted by Tom French |

Sailing.jpg

I'm home from the camp of sailing goodness.

I'm not really much of sailor. I went sailing once as a young lad* and remember there was a bed on board the boat. And that's my entire sailing experience.

As you also know I was a little ill equipped for sailing adventures before leaving having no hat that attached to my clothes, no woollen jumper and no rashie. However Valentina did kindly offer me this hat, and I visited K-Mart before leaving for camp and bought myself a rashie which I intend on using approximately zero more times in my life.

I was also a little perplexed how I was going to get to camp as I had a wedding to go to on Saturday morning (which was lovely thank-you-very-much, but I missed lunch, damn it) meaning that I would miss the first few hours of camp, and all the lifts to camp.

But Ryan kindly drove me to camp so we could bond as the kilometres drifted past as we lazily made our way an hour up the Central Coast. Then he drove home alone. He's a good friend Ryan. As is Lesley who lent out her car again for the trip.

So I arrived at camp feeling happy to have solved a few of my issues and a little apprehensive as to what camp with a bunch of unknowns would be like and what my lack of sailing skills would do to my camp enjoyment.

But as it happens both turned out fine. The people on the camp were lovely, campers and leaders, and I didn't die while sailing once.

Admittedly I only sailed twice, and both were on the most stable boat of the fleet. I spent another day on the rescue boat filming for the camp video guy. It was a windy day so I just spent most of the time filming capsized boats and injured campers.

The second time I went sailing all the boats had a race around the lake. My boat was chock full with 11 people, competing with other boats who had around 5 or less people (except one which was the same as ours with 12 people although they were almost entirely year 7 kids who we all know about are about a 3rd of the bulk of a normal sized human). On my boat, Noah's Ark, there was Tom (the captain), Tom (the speaker) and 9 of the girls. It was like sailing with people smugglers. In an attempt to lighten our boat for the race we devised a cunning scheme, to throw the children overboard, and the speaker too, and then send our boat off to race with a lightweight crew off five.

So just before the race began, we slipped quietly into the water like Navy SEALs. Sadly the other people smuggler boat noticed and threw many of their children overboard too. Soon there were more bodies in the water than boats.

Still the plan seemed to be working. Noah's Ark was in second place for the first lap. Soon race officials turned up though and told us that we'd have to join our boat as it came around for the second and final lap due to safety requirements. When Noah's Ark came around all 6 of us who were in the water hauled ourselves back into the boat in less than a minute, Noah's Ark kept going and we managed to maintain second place. It was a magnificent piece of seamanship, a rapid boarding of which even Somalian pirates would be proud.

We ended up coming in second but being disqualified because we had dumped our crew. I'm told that in official racing rules a boat must finish a race with the same number of crew that it crosses the start line with. We finished with an extra six. Had the race officials not told us to join our boat I think we could have mounted a good argument for holding on to second place. But The Man doesn't like innovation and so we were kicked out because we broke convention.

If all sailing races involved jumping overboard on a 36°C day and just hanging around in the water, I reckon I could do the sailing gig. But sadly, I think most racing teams aren't looking for people to join their crew just to jump overboard at the start line.

Perhaps my favourite activity was helping people get out of the water into the rescue boat and Noah's Ark. I think I liked it because it was a role that made you feel a little like you were rescuing people. You'd either pull them up by monkey grip or by gabbing them by the strap on the back of their life jacket and hauling them into the boat. The latter option was the most preferable because it felt more like rescue work probably due to the utilitarian nature of the boat entry and it's reliance entirely on my hauling power. Seeing as I spent the rest of the time sitting on the boat being rather useless it was good to be needed a little bit.

Apart from all my aquatic adventures, the camp was still good fun. The campers were friendly and well behaved as were the leaders. My talks seemed to go well. References to my talks regularly popped up during other parts of the camp, so I at least knew that people were paying attention. One popular line was "I'm angry enough to die", though my particular favourite were the multiple references to my "lady friends", perhaps only because I feel it's important to propagate the myth that I'm a player.

Aside from that there were a number of people who indicated they wanted to become Christians, so you can't complain about that. (Well I'm sure many people could, but no good Evangelical can, and that's what I am.)

I did notice once again that relationship building in free time on camps is not in my skill set. Free time tends to mean that I go and read my book or have a sleep. I think it's the introvert in me coming out. Being faced with unstructured hanging out where you need to go and just relate to people you don't know all that well, kinda scares me. Books and sleeping on the other hand are personal favourites of mine.

All up, I did have a good camp. I used to dream about being a camp speaker, back in the old days. I used to think camp speaking was like the pinnacle of preaching, because you were good enough to get asked to do five talks in a row and you were a little bit of a celebrity to 50 young people for a week. Having achieved this particular, low-end dream, it's not really like that. But it is certainly a privilege, very enjoyable, and I love the chance to hang out with a whole bunch of excellent young people. Plus I love getting free food for a week.

I reckon I'll keep doing camps as long as I keep getting asked though I'm not sure if I'll sail again any time soon, though I'll practice my hauling skills just in case.

*I need to stop using the phrase "young lad" around teenagers because they think I'm talking about when I was younger and I had a rat's tail, a bum bag, short shorts, and Nike cap put badly on my head.

Photo by: Januz Leszczynski

12/12/2009 08:54:00 am

Hat

Posted by Tom French |

I'm about to head out on a camp for a week. It's a sailing camp. I was waiting to get an email to tell me what I needed to bring. Turns out I got it two weeks ago. Oops. And now there are things I need which I don't have, like a rashy that goes to my elbows, and a woolen jumper, and a hat that attaches to my clothes. I don't even know what sort of hat attaches to clothes. A hat is clothes as far as I'm concerned, so I guess as long as I classify my hat as clothing it'll always be attached to my clothes.

Anyway, I need to sort this out. And go to a wedding. And go on camp. Sometimes my lack of preparation hinders my performance as a world class person.

Where's my PA?

12/10/2009 03:14:00 pm

Soul in the City Promo

Posted by Tom French |

So I worked on a video a little while ago for Soul Survivor to promote next year's Soul in the City. It's finally made to the Tube. And this is it:



This is one of three versions of the same video I made. The other two should be on the Soul Survivor Channel. They're pretty much the same but with Geldo saying different things in the middle, and a little bit of different footage over the top.

If you're wondering, I shot about a third of the footage, and I edited the video and made it look pretty (in youthy kinda way).

If this video doesn't go viral and get 30,000 people to Soul in the City, I don't know what will.

12/09/2009 09:37:00 pm

Lying

Posted by Tom French |

At Bible Study lately I've been running a series of studies on The Sermon on the Mount. I've been really enjoying it.

I love the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus just kicks arse. It's like he says, "You think you're good? Your good ain't good enough. I'll show you what good is." There's a lifetime of work just in the Beatitudes. If you take Jesus seriously and the Sermon on the Mount doesn't change your life then you probably don't take Jesus seriously.

Anyway, this week was on loving your enemies, last week was on this passage:

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. - Matt 5:33-37

Before I prepared the study on this passage I didn't expect it to be that big a deal for me. I figured, "I'm pretty good at commitment. I do what I say I'm going to do." But alas my pride was misplaced.

As it turned out I went with the line of living with integrity. Letting your words be truthful. There are no layers of truth. You can't make something more truthful by swearing on the Bible, and less truthful by swearing on your shoe. Truth is truth is truth, and Jesus calls us to be people of truth all the time.

If I were to just give a cursory assessment of my life I'd reckon I was a pretty truthful guy. I never tell big lies. When I say things it's almost always truthful, or at least a part of it. And there-in lies the problem. While it's rare that I tell outright lies, I do regularly not tell people the whole truth. I don't want people to think badly of me. And I don't want to let people down. So when people ask me questions and I think they won't find the answer satisfactory I will regularly tell a version of the truth which I think is most palatable.

For instance say someone asks me to write an article for the the church bulletin (as would happen in the past) and I say "Yes". So I go away, think about it a little bit, open a word document, write two sentences, don't like them, can't think of anything else, and then move on to something else.

A few days later they need the article. So they say "Tom do you have the article ready for me?"

The truth is "No" or "No, I haven't written it yet."

But I say "No, but it's getting there. I've been writing it and thinking about it, I just need to get it properly finished. When do you need it by?"

So it's technically true. But I've given them a false impression and then distracted them by being really proactive and asking for a deadline. Hopefully they go away thinking "Gosh, Tom is a hard worker, and it he's really reliable, he'll get it done when I need it." When really they should be thinking "Tom is such a slacker."

And when they asked me to write the silly thing I should have asked for the deadline then so that I could just slack off till it's due because that's what I would have done anyway. And when they ask for it, I can say "No, but you don't need it till tomorrow do you?"

Sometimes I'll tell some misleading version of the truth to make me feel ok about not lying and them feel ok because I'm a good guy, when I really should just be saying "Sorry, I'm crap."

Anyway, I've been working hard since I did the Bible Study to tell the whole truth. I haven't succeeded all the time but I've been better at it. And I'm certainly aware that I'm crapper than I think I am.

Sorry.

12/09/2009 09:02:00 pm

In the Chute

Posted by Tom French |

I've been away at In the Chute a conference with The Geneva Push these past few days. It was good.

If you want to know what happened at the conference Mikey Lynch has blogged the whole thing. I shall not bother with the recap, because it all seems to be there and by the look of the time stamps it was all blogged live.

I think the idea was that we all did a lot of networking with other godly, young men. I met one guy who I had sustained conversation with. But show me a room full of people standing around talking, and I'm not going to network with anyone, the introvert will win every time.

Last night after the night session I was faced with exactly that. Then I remembered that there is a cinema just down the road from the conference centre. So with glee (the emotion not the show) in my step, I went down to the cinema to watch a film. Sadly I was twenty minutes late. So I just went for a walk and listened to Damien Rice, it was special.

Hermitting aside, I did enjoy the conference. It was led by good, godly men, and I was encouraged and equipped to build the kingdom. That's a pretty happy outcome.

12/09/2009 07:50:00 pm

Where the Wild Things Are

Posted by Tom French |

where_the_wild_things_are.jpg

On Sunday Lesley and I went to see Where the Wild Things Are.

I was rather excited about this movie. Mainly because I get excited about Spike Jonze. And I figured Spike Jonze making a film about wild things for kids. That's pretty good.

The film had been delayed for about a year I think. The rumour was that the film was too scary for kids so Warner Bros. wanted the film to be reworked. I don't know if that's true, but a scary kids movie is a good idea.

The thing was though, this isn't really a kid's film. While the book maybe for kids, this film is very grown up. The themes are grown up, the concepts are pretty grown up, the photography is pretty grown up and the direction is pretty grown up. There are often periods of silence. The humour is scarce and when it's there it's pretty adult. This is a kid's film for adults. The film seems to re-examine childhood to portray it not as this great adventure, but as a time of loneliness, rage and fear. A time characterised by the impotence of being small and ignored. The adventure that Max goes through is not really the great, escapist adventure of Mary Poppins or The Wizard of Oz, but a realisation that even when Max escapes, his fantasy world is even more dysfunctional than his real world. Even the utopia where he is king is invaded by insecurity. In both the book and the film the solution is not to escape the world, but to face the relationships that are hard, but are actually underpinned by love.

In the film Max, the main character, runs away from his home, where he feels ignored and unloved by his family, and escapes to world full of wild creatures. These creatures are full of life, dangerous, fun. Max first meets these big, hairy creatures when Carol (played by James Gandolfini from The Sopranos) is smashing up their houses in a rage after he is left by his girlfriend KW. Max barrels in and sides with Carol only to find that he nearly gets himself eaten for taking the wrong side. Only by lying and saying he's a king does he save his life. He then sets out to transform the group to make an ideal community for himself. But things don't work the way Max would like. The wild things are too dysfunctional, too controlled by jealousies and fear to create the community the Max dreams of and things fall apart.

The film is rather depressing in its bleak representation of community. It's a community with little love and what love there is is compromised by fear. The whole time, even when Max is at his happiest, there is the underlying tension that's bred by Max's lies and the danger of wild animals whose natural dispositions seem not towards creation but destruction.

This isn't really a kids film.

But I did like the film very much. I loved having giant, furry animals to tell an adult's story. I loved the design, the photography. The wild things looked flawless, the music was superb. And I liked that this was a film of hope. And a film about engagement. A film that pushes us to see that problems don't get solved by retreating from the world but entering into relationships. We can't build forts to keep the out people we don't like, we build homes where we live in a real pile, with all the messiness and connection that brings with it.

12/07/2009 12:07:00 pm

Conf

Posted by Tom French |

I'm off on a 3 Day Conference now. It should be full of conservative Bible teaching and good, manly, Christian bonding. I expect only to have this retreat of reformed orthodoxy broken when I pop back to Hornsby this evening to run Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount. Good times.

12/04/2009 12:48:00 am

World Leaders in the Workplace

Posted by Tom French |

I spent the last few days at work ushering for a man who just happens to be the exiled leader of a small, oppressed country and a leader of a major world religion. I cannot say more than that just in case you figure out who it was.

Anyway this guy, who we'll call Willy, gave three days of lectures. 2 days were about his religion, and one day was about the future of the world. I was rather excited about seeing Willy because he's regarded as one of the great world leaders for peace and love. Like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr and the like. I was hoping to learn more about Willy's religion and perhaps get inspired a little to spread a bit more peace and love around.

Sadly, Willy was kinda dull. He was a cute, old man, who had an adorable laugh. But for the first two days he seemed to just sit on stage and waffle in his broken English about whatever came to mind. It wasn't offensive at all, but it was like going to visit a nice old man for tea with 5,000 other people. I don't think he'd prepared any thing to say, he just said stuff.

For three quarters of the time he spoke in his native language, doing commentary about commentaries on his faith. It was excruciatingly boring. I would race to open the door for patrons whenever they looked like they were going to leave the arena just to give me something to do.

While Willy was talking I looked around the arena at his devotees and 10% of them in the afternoon sessions would have been asleep, and 50% looked totally bored.

Today Willy gave a public lecture which was a bit more interesting because he spoke in English the whole time and answered questions from the audience. When he answered questions he'd answer it from the view point of a believer and a non-believer.

For instance he was asked "Why do good things happen to bad people?"

His answer was "From a theistic viewpoint, God knows. From a Buddhist view point, karma. From a non-believer's view point, it's a mystery. Next question."

It felt a little odd for me that he could be so flexible with truth. As far as I can tell it's totally impossible for all three viewpoints to be right at the same time. I reckon it's a little insulting to all viewpoints to present them as just as equally valid as each other. It seems rather patronising, like "Ok, you believe that, it's good for you, so good for you. You just find your answers and I'll find mine and we'll all be happy." Which is just totally dismissive as if your view doesn't matter at all. As a Christian, I'd rather Willy said "Christianity is wrong and my view point is right and this is why." Because then at lease he's engaging with the faith, rather than just dismissing it to the realm of harmless self-fulfilment.

Anyway Willy's main point in the end seemed to be "If possible, help others, and at the very least, harm no-one." Which is very nice. And if all Willie's followers stuck to that the world would be a nicer, or at very least, a much more harmless place.

When he said that people went "Mmm" and then stood up and gave Willy a standing ovation (it was also the end), as if Willy had just given some new, amazing wisdom. I can't help but think, if that's the best these people have heard, they need to do more reading. It sounds rather weak to me. "Do good, or at very least, don't be bad" sounds like Google's "Don't be evil." Maybe I'm being a little spoiled, but Jesus said much more radically world changing things that that, Gandhi did too. I reckon most of my friends and family have too.

It also surprised me that you can get 5,000 people to come and hear one of the least dynamic world leaders around. I reckon Willy was probably more boring to listen to than Rudd (though a lot cuter than Rudd, no one wants to pinch Rudd's cheeks). When a Christian speaker comes they have to be pretty good at communicating to draw a crowd of 5,000 people. But Christian speakers have to draw a crowd with their communication abilities, Willy I think draws a crowd with his office and the fact that many believe Willy is the reincarnation of the Willy before him, who is the Willy before him, and so on going back many Willies into the past. Willy gets love not because of anything he's done, but by an identity given to him without his choosing, the Christian speaker on the other hand gets love purely on the basis of the quality of their work. Ironic, perhaps?

Anyway, all that said, I'm happy to have seen Willy. I can't see him being a bad influence on the world. He's certainly spreading peace and love around, Like the lBeatle but with less drugs and swooning girls. And if he keeps putting people to sleep, that'll be good for their health too. He also has a great laugh. I'd be happy to have him as an adoptive Grandpa any day. Along with Gandalf. Then I could have three great Grandpas. That'd be pretty awesome.

12/02/2009 11:45:00 pm

Biff

Posted by Tom French |

After work today I headed over to the Matt and Beck's to visit their just-left-school Bible Study group, and then watch the boxing. I think really I was there to watch the boxing and the Bible Study was a support act. I tend to watch all the boxing I watch with Matt. I did enjoy seeing some of the guys from the old church again.

So after Bible Study Matt, Tim, Sam, Henry and I headed down to the Pub to watch the fight between Danny Green and Roy Jones Jnr.

We found a spot standing in the the doorway of the Sports Bar. It was pretty full.

As the fight started I got excited about seeing a good 12 rounds of boxing. I turned to Sam about a minute into the fight and said "They won't do anything much in the first round, they'll just feel each other out." Because I'm grown up and knowledgeable about things like boxing.

And then a minute later Green had won on a TKO. I was rather stunned. It was a amazing. I was expecting Jones to win and Green to put up a good fight. But Green just went in and demolished him. It was rather surreal. I felt a bit sorry for Jones.

We had been planning on going in to Acer to watch the fight. But as Matt said, it's a good thing we didn't. As good as it would have been to see that, I reckon you would have wanted the under card to have been pretty good make up for the short 2 minutes and 2 seconds of the title fight.

But I'm pretty happy I watched that fight. I like boxing.

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