Friday, March 31, 2006

tick, tock

While the media are berating the ever-decreasing birthrate in the Western world, my book club (well, 3 of its 7 members) is doing more than its share to boost statistics. This morning B1 sent out an e-mail to the girls, informing us that thanks to hormone treatment she managed to get pregnant (again) in January after many frustrating months of trying in vain and is now expecting twins. That will be the second set of twins for the Book of the Month Club and what with S1's second child to be born any day minute now there will be 8 candidates for BoMC-the-next-generation. Wow. Being not only child-less, but very much childish too, I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that mercifully the score is still 4:3 (non-Mums vs. "statistical deviants").

Lunch-break purchases: A scent for TD (my granny asked me to get him something for his birthday which was 2 weeks ago and it took him a while to make his mind up) and a t-shirt for the 4 (?) -months-old boy of friends we're visiting tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

dick on a rocky reef

On our second night in Rome, the three of us dined at a restaurant in close proximity to our hotel, Le 2 Colonne .We neglected to inform staff that we were "amici di Sergio", though. See, shortly after checking in at our hotel on Friday afternoon, we went for a coffee at the bar round the corner of Le 2 Colonne and the waiter - Sergio, obviously - presented us with their business card, instructing us to tell the waiter that we were his friends. We had no intention to go there originally but after walking around all day dinner in our neighbourhood seemed like a good idea.

In a temporary spell of madness, I said "si!" when we were offered a German menu. Well, the waiter (Sergio's cousin, twice removed, probably) explained in surprisingly good German that HE wasn't to blame for the poor translation. We soon found out just how bad it was. In fact, the dishes were hardly recognisable. Number 52, "Schwanz alla vaccinara" particularly piqued our interest. I case you don't know German, "Schwanz" means "tail" but is also very widely used for a distinctive (expandable) part of the male body. Unless Lorena Bobbitt has been headhunted by Le Due Colonne, we found it a rather unlikely dish.

x-rated menue (onemorehandbag)

Item o5, "spaghetti with rocky reef" was also quite intriguing. Although sex organs and rocky reefs seemed like a unique experience we did not feel quite that adventurous and settled for pasta and risotto instead...

pasta on the rocks (onemorehandbag)

Lunch-break purchases: I only went food-shopping and - feeling very optimistic - took my 2 down coats to the dry cleaners. Fingers crossed I won't need them anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

on marathons and iron bladders

Although the Rome marathon officially took place last Sunday, the Mermaid, Coco and I did our own little walkathon on Saturday already. In order to illustrate the route, TD made a little map so I can gloat some more: Roman walkathon (onemorehandbag) It's amazing our feet immediately recovered (well, mine did at least) and I'm pretty much fit to walk the same distance again, provided I have the same nice company and the occasional shop windows to keep me entertained.

As the Mermaid pointed out in her comment on yesterday's post I forgot to mention the Toilet Conspiracy. For some reason, all the toilets we tried (mind you, we were customers of the bars or cafés in question so it can't just have been some attempt by staff to prevent off-the-streets tourist from taking an unauthorised leak) were blocked by some male employee, wildly gesticulating with toilet brush and detergent in hand and telling the Mermaid whom we usually sent out on a reconnaissance mission "è bagnato" (i.e. "the floor's wet"). "È bagnato!" became the leitmotif of our weekend and explained why I preferred to seek out the comparative comfort of McDonald's (the first branch to open in Italy in the 1980s, by the way) on Piazza di Spagna. Twice. Needless to say, the toilets at Termini railway station and at the check-in area of Fiumicino airport were also closed for cleaning when we wanted to visit them. Do Italians have iron bladders, I wonder, or was it just a bad coincidence?
I don't know if it was the Toilet Conspiracy that prompted the Mermaid to come out with a philosophical "You know, in the old days, it used to be enough to just be blonde in Italy." "We're obviously getting old", Coco helpfully reminded her.

Speaking of the railway station - we committed the stupidity of not leaving our luggage at the hotel (a mere 10 mins walk from the station) as we thought it would be more convenient to deposit them in a locker at the station. Hah, bloody hah! The lockers were closed for security reasons and the queue to the manned left luggage was about 2 kilometres long. A cool new shopping arcade and lots of snack-bars are certainly an asset but what use are they if you have to sit around with your legs crossed because the one toilet is temporarily closed and you have to watch your luggage anyway, not knowing how many hours you have to stand in line to get rid of it? Ah, well.
Today, there won't be any lunch-break-purchases other than food because I'm meeting my cousin, Chiquita for lunch before she's off to Lyon for 3 months.

Monday, March 27, 2006

veni, vidi...

guided tour (onemorehandbag) I'm back from my weekend in Rome with the girls. We had a great time and decided to go travelling together again soon. As you know I've known the Mermaid forever and love her to bits and my other travelling companion, known merely as C. until now but who will be known as"Coco" (the Mermaid told her about my blog and she requested to be renamed) is such a sweet-natured, soft-spoken cutie you can't but get on well with. In short - we made the perfect trio.

When we arrived on Friday afternoon, we were greeted by rain and not exactly Mediterranean temperatures. After we had checked into our suite (no, really) at Hotel Commore and were done taking silly pictures of each other sprawled on the flowery bed-spreads with flowery wallpaper as a backdrop, we went for a walk, then hopped on the metro and got off at Piazza di Spagna for a bit of window-shopping. We eventually ended up in a funny little trattoria with an interesting decoration scheme. As we were waiting for our pasta to arrive there was a strange sound, like a blender straining to crush ice-cubes. The Mermaid got up to find the source of the racket and reported that a huge parrot was perched on a table, daintily nibbling on peanuts. On my way to the toilet (where there was another heap of peanuts, by the way) I took a photo of him in his technicolour plumage. After a little digestive walk we wouldn't have minded taking the metro back as it was raining only to find out that in the capital city of Italy the last subway is at 9. Yep. N-I-N-E p.m. Needless to say our walk got a bit longer than intitially planned.

Walking actually featured pretty prominently and it was just as well that all three of us actually prefer walking to public transport when on vacation, not out of stinginess, but because you get to see so much more. Those among you who have been to Rome before (it was my 4th visit, by the way) and can vaguely remember the distances between the sights, please at least raise your eyebrows in disbelief when I tell you Saturday's route: From our hotel (pretty much opposite Santa Maria Maggiore, near Roma Termini railway station) we first visited the church and the nearby UPIM department store, then went back to our hotel to get rid of our shopping bags. Off we went to: Forum Romanum - the Collosseum - Circus Maxiums - la Bocca della Verità - the Trastevere district (lunch-stop) - St.Peter's/the Vatican - Castel Sant'Angelo - Piazza Navona- the Pantheon- the Trevi Fountain - the Spanish Steps and back to the hotel. Not bad, eh?

pazza per la piazza (onemorehandbag)
There was a looong queue on St. Peter's Square so we didn't make it into the cathedral this time.

compri me!(onemorehandbag)Lots of bags (and shoes) were calling out to be bought but I exercised extreme restraint for a change. Well, as regards the shoes - after all that walking around in my sneakers I did not want to kill a poor shop assistant with the deadly fumes emanating from my socks...

I still haven't managed to get rid of my viscious cold which has now reached its cough stage. I'm barking like a rabid dog. Minus the foam around the mouth, I hasten to add.

Roman purchases: A summery jacket (in fuchsia pink), a bra ("nude-look-goes-flowery") with matching undies, a belt (brown with bronze sequins), a glass (?) ring (as can be seen on the first photo) for 30 cents from a Chinese shop near our hotel, a turquoise bracelet with the first letter of my actual name, tights (fishnet, what else) and socks, a tie for TD (Rome is definitely tie-paradise) and another one for favourite-male-colleague (FMC, not to be confused with FCN...), magazines (one with a free t-shirt, the other one with free knickers), chocolates and biscuits.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

sniffle, sniffle & arrivederci

I'm still in the throes of the killer bug - perfect excuse to skip the Slo(w)-course last night, ahem - and will probably bring my clogged sinuses to near-combustion on the flight to Rome tomorrow morning. I've already told the Mermaid she should count on C. for nocturnal bar-hopping as yours truly is more likely to be tucked into the hotel bed with a giornale at 10 p.m. in her present state. Then again, a girly weekend (never mind that I'll probably loose my voice for good after a 48hr-gossipping-session) and Italian shoe shops have been known to work wonders for my health. More on Monday.
Lunch-break purchases: I had a date with the Pampered Princess and checked out some "lifestyle" shops. A green bunny-shaped candle was begging to be taken home and I decided not to upset it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Johannes, a very nice and eloquent young man whom I originally met in a professional capacity (on one of those rare days when I was pretending to do *work*) has decided to add a blog in German to the two Japanese (!) ones he already has, the swot. So, let's see if he can keep up the good work and let's put a bit of pressure on him by making his efforts semi-public among the 2.5 returning visitors of this blog:

That's all for me today as my cold is gradually clogging up my sinuses and my capacity to think straight.
Lunch-break purchase: Aspirin ;-(

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

travel bug

parispics(onemorehandbag)Somehow, Paris seems to have a detrimental effect on my health. Last year, when I was there for a weekend in February, I caught the mother of all colds at Charles-de-Gaulle airport when the airconditioning was on at full blast instead of the heating. This time, it must have been one of the endless queues for an exhibition or the Eiffel Tower where we waited outside in not exactly mild and spring-like temperatures that did me in or I must have caught some nasty virus or other. In any case, I started getting a decidedly uncomfortable feeling in my throat on the RER to the airport on Sunday and by the time we were seated on our plane at last (let me tell you, you are being punished for booking a cheap flight by flying from hard-to-reach Terminal 3, which is obviously the one reserved for stingy loosers...) I was convinced I'd swallowed a bulk pack of razor blades. Mercifully, I've already progressed to the runny-nose-phase today so it's obviously just your common cold which I successfully managed to avoid all winter. Ah, well. Must get fit for my girly weekend (with the Mermaid and her colleague, C.) in Rome.

Now. Paris. We had a great time in spite of the rather inclement weather and as it was TD's first visit, we did lots of touristy things, like taking the elevator (myself, I'd have preferred the stairs but decided to let the birthday boy have his way) up the Eiffel Tower. Surprisingly, I did not buy much, apart from some bits and pieces at Habitat, one of my favourite shops, lots of chocolate (see photo. By the way, I do realise the photo is rather small but I chickened out from posting a larger version as it is indeed me you can see in front of the pyramid) and souvenirs for the girls at the office. I could easily have bought all the handbags on the accessories floor of Galeries Lafayette - drool, drool - but then decided to be good for a change and wait for shoportunities in Rome. I have a feeling a pair (at least) of shoes will find its way into my suitcase this weekend.

We lived in my friend Frida's studio in the Marais, which was not only very snug and conveniently located for sight-seeing, but also within walking distance of their - very nice - flat proper. It was so lovely to see them all and I was touched when the boys (aged 3 and 5) were so obviously thrilled to see us they came running to give us a hug. It's not that often you have that effect on people, now is it? Our friends went out of their way to provide us with an "all-inclusive" package by making dinner for us twice and even baking a cake for TD's birthday on Sunday. While I get on well with all my friends' husbands, there are few of them I like in their own right and Frida's husband, let's call him the Prototype, because he's such a model supportive husband, is one of them. It was in fact him who baked the cake for TD, just to give you an idea of his prototypicality (does this word exist???).
Like London, Paris is one of those cities I could visit every year and never get bored. Well, in the case of London, I actually do visit every year. Mind you, I would not want to live there permanently, having realised the quality of living is infinitely better in Vienna. Paris, however, could be worth a little "foreign affair" although having been told how much Frida and the Prototype are paying for their flat I'd want to either get a French millionaire with it or find some seriously well-paid job there. Which is so not going to happen. Neither of it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

au revoir

Just a quickie to annouce 3 days without posting (did I just hear a loud sigh or relief???). TD and I are off to Paris later today and won't be back until late on Sunday night. I hope you duly envy me. Expect to be tortured with lots of boring holiday pics next week.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

blondeness taking over...

After musing about "spiritual spammers" yesterday, I accidentally became a spammer of sorts myself today by sending the Austrian Embassy in Macedonia a huge photo showing TD, myself and another guest at a friend's wedding last May along with attachments of a more official nature...
I don't have a scanner at my desk so I asked a colleague to scan two documents for me. While the scanner was plugged in I thought she might as well scan a photo for me (it's one of those rare pictures where I actually like myself and find I look remotely humanoid) which she did. As I did not necessarily want the other gentleman on the photo, we cut him off and she said she'd send me both the original and the modified versions. Well, the e-mail arrived with 2 documents having no title, just "scan" and a number and a third one, called "TDandMe". Before forwarding the attachments to the Embassy in Skopje I duly deleted the latter, assuming the documents to be saved in separate files. Ten minutes later, my boss comes to my room with a huge grin, thanking me for sending the mal bcc to her but "there was no need to include a photo, even if it was a very nice one". One attachment contained both documents, the other the original photo. Ooops. I immediately sent out a second e-mail to explain.

Needless to say, this slip-up has been a source of great mirth for my colleagues and resulted in idle discussions whether I had already become the pin-up de jour of the diplomatic corps. The colleague who scanned the picture for me went into photoshop-overdrive and produced a postcard with blurred edges and balloons, writing "who wants me?" under my picture. Ah well, as long as it keeps the girls entertained and prevents them from falling asleep at their desks...
Lunch-break purchases: A guidebook for Paris as I seem to have misplaced (or lent to someone I can't remember) my old one.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Spam of the Month

Every morning when I open my work e-mail, dozens of junk mails are waiting for me, usually offering me x-rated films, drugs without prescription, larger penises and things in Japanese I am probably better off not understanding anyway. Needless to say, I usually just add them to the blocked-senders-list and delete them. Yesterday, however, a mail with the subject "Gouranga" piqued my interest and, having made sure there were no evil attachments that could potentially make my computer self-destruct within 2 seconds, I opened it. This is what it said:

Call out Gouranga be happy...
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga
That which brings the highest happiness!

The sender was someone called "Neateye". A bit of googling confirmed that Mr. (?) Neateye really only seemed to have the best of intentions and wanted me to join the ranks of shiny happy people. I mean, who wants a penis-enlargement when you can get free Gouranga? And who actually spends hours at their computer spamming people with such messages without trying to sell anything to them? The mind boggles.

Lunch-break-purchases: Only groceries.

Monday, March 13, 2006

a woman possessed...

what a charmin lady (onemorehandbag)The hazy photo you can see here was not taken by some CCTV and no, I did not attempt to nonchalantly shoplift a 16-roll-pack of my favourite brand of toilet paper. TD took it with his mobile phone as he always teases me about my loo-paper-obsession. You see, I feel physical discomfort when my generous stack of blue toilet paper has dwindled down to one or two rolls. I have experienced one loo-paper-crisis (not brought on by me, I hasten to add, but by grossly negligent flatmates whose turn it was to buy it) too many in my student days to ever want to relive that panicky motorway-toilet feeling at home. Like a survivor of wartime hardship I have vowed to buy cheap sandpaper no more and let no one dictate me how much paper to stock up on. And this is also where my above-average environmental friendliness (I even tear out the little plastic windows of envelopes before I put them into the paper bin) deserts me as I cannot bring myself to buy the grey and itchy recycled variety. Anally retentive? So not me.

Lunch-break purchases: Had run out of my favourite moisturiser and therefore went to the Body Shop to get a jar of White Musk extra rich body cream. While there, I also grabbed a pack of tea trea oil facial blotting tissues and am now gloriously shine-free.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

if I didn't have a calendar tell me spring was less than a fortnight away, this weather could sure have fooled me. View from my living-room window, 08:37 this morning. (Never mind what I am doing up this early on a Sunday):

Thursday, March 09, 2006

balls, the follow-up

horseballs(onemorehandbag) Remember when I mused about what chocolate balls named after a famous breed of horses would taste like? Well, now I know. Last Saturday I bought a box of them to take to Paris with me as as joke for the friends we're visiting next weekend (Mozartkugeln alone for exiled Austrians are getting a bit boring, in Mozart Year particularly) and 10 loose ones to try and share with the Viennese chocoholics-HQ. A single one actually satisfied my curiosity once and for all. No morsel of dark chocolate in sight, only sickeningly sweet marzipan, covered in even sweeter white chocolate with a hint of - yep, you guessed it, nauseatingly sweet nougat. Hm, perhaps the name is apt, after all. No competition for our jubilee-boy, W. A. Mozart's balls anyway.

Lunch-break purchases: None as I escaped from the slush on the pavements and looming rooftop-avalanches to Café Central where I spent the greater part of my lunch-break with TD before I stocked up on rucola (the nice - and expensive - variety from MamG).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sometimes I ask myself why I don't just meet the girls at a café

Every Wednesday from 19:30 - 21:00 (which is far too late in the day for my attention span) for the last 2 1/2 years I have been pretending to "learn" Slovene with next to no success. In fact, I can not even order a meal in a restaurant without making at least 3 grammatical mistakes. On the other hand, I *know* (i.e. have scribbled down in my notebook) zillions of technical terms I will probably never need. Why is this, you might wonder and, more importantly, why does she still bother if it's such a futile activity?

For one thing I can't blame it on my teacher, a smart and impressively long-legged woman not much older than me, who's actually doing a great job and is very committed to trying to instill some feeling for her mother tongue into the 6 ladies sitting in front of her. She likes us and we like her. And pity her for having to put up with our obviously inborn resistance to remotely mastering the language.

It all started with me thinking, Let's learn a Slavic language. I was torn between Czech and Slovene and then opted for the latter because I simply had more affinity to it, coming from a region which not only is very close to the Slovenian border but which also has a considerable Slovene minority. When I grew up, bilingual schools and additional Slovene classes in "mixed" areas were a highly politically charged topic. Judging from the fact that the controversial head of the Carinthian government makes it his personal top priority to play hide-and-seek with bilingual signs it still very much is. I distinctly remember a heated discussion in the P.E. changing room when I was 12 or so and a classmate from Ferlach complained about her little sister being forced to learn Slovene at her primary school. Most of us tried to convince her that it would very much be to her sister's advantage if she learnt such a complicated (oooh, yes, little did I know!) language so early in life but she just stubbornly refused to see our point and said it was a disgrace that Austrians should be forced to learn the ugly languague of a people which should go back to Yugoslavia where it belonged. That classmate has since become a model and settled down in Portugal with her telenovela-star husband. I bet that in retrospect she wouldn't have minded some Portugese language classes at primary school. Ah, well.

Anyway, off I went to enrol in my Slovene class which in the first week had about 10 students, some of them, ta-dah! male even. Predictably enough, the men stopped coming after the second or so course when it transpired that learning this language wasn't going to be a piece of cake. Sissies! By the end of the first semester, we were down to two participants. Me, who hates giving up, especially when I paid for something, and U., a law student with loads of Croatian and Slovenian friends and the dream to work in Ljubljana after finishing her university degree. Although the minimum number of participants is actually 6, our teacher said she could get administration to agree to just 3 provided she managed to recruit another one of her regulars, a granny who had to give up some semesters ago when she had to undergo a complicated operation. At the beginning of the next semester, there not only were U. and said granny, R., but a new classmate, Novala, whom I liked instantly although I did find her somewhat scary and initially labelled her "German swot" when she told me on the subway home after our first session that she was so motivated after attending a summer course at Ljubljana uni that she vowed to speak Slovene fluently in 2 years and had taken to sticking post-its with the corresponding Slovene vocab to her furniture...

The next semester, we were joined by H., a very nice lady in her early 50s who has a Slovenian partner and the next one by E., a rather swotty and bossy lady in her late 50s whom H. hates but has learnt to put up with. The six of us are having great fun and always crack up laughing. We also seem to have a knack for scaring away any potential male students who never seem to return after the first session.

I am without a doubt the least motivated participant and very likely the one with the worst Slovene of all. On a good day, I can manage a pidgin Slogerman conversation like the one Novala so accurately illustrated here. Mind you, she was definitely embellishing my contribution and playing down her part. It's actually really funny: Everyone who knows me would agree that I'm the very definition of "talkative" and I do like to believe that I'm not entirely untalented when it comes to learning a foreign language with my very lazy approach (I was the only one at school who never wrote down English vocab and the only one at university who did not seem to own a big fat dictionary until her final year...) but in the 1.5 hrs. of my Slovene class I feel like a tongue-tied imbecile. That's why I like to call it the Slow course, you see.

Mind you, it might help if I actually did a bit of revision every now and then or started doing the homework and yes, I'd have plenty of time for that at the office but, you know, somehow...I just never seem to get round to it. Ahem.

Lunch-break purchases: Only some special shampoo for leather gloves (!), a birthday card and some tacky Mozart-tissues as a joke for my friend in Paris (we're visiting her next weekend, yippeee!) today but yesterday I bought 2 more "basic" shirts, one black, one white at H&M...

Monday, March 06, 2006

weekend and aftermath therof

The weekend with L'Italiana was as great as I knew it would be. When we got home from the airport at midnight on Friday, we had a little midnight feast and were up talking until 2 a.m. That pretty much set the theme for the whole weekend: eating and talking loads. Interrupted by some "light" shopping. I did not feel too guilty about another h-a-n-d-b-a-g I bought (Hedgren on sale for a mere € 20. Come on girls, it would have been rude not to buy it) because l'Italiana bought 2. She also raided half the stock of the Turkish supermarket and got tonnes of Mozartkugeln and other lightweight stuff such as a teapot and 4 cups and the catalogue from the Schiele exhibition at the Albertina. There, we didn't bump into Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who made an unannounced suprise visit a couple of weeks ago (very inconspicuous in sunglasses on a snowy winter day...) but my uncle and favourite little cousin, chiquita. She immediately sniffed out the new bag and made me confess.
hedgrenbag(onemorehandbag)Unfortunately, all three of us must have cought the nasty gastric bug Amica's kids had as we were up all night vomiting. My complexion matches the new bag to an eerie degree...

There won't be any lunch-break purchases today as I'm going to drag my zombified self home at lunch-time. Coming to the office wasn't exactly a good idea.

Friday, March 03, 2006

girly weekend

Do you remember how disappointed I was in December when L'Italiana cancelled her visit at short notice? Well, today I'm positively delighted because I will be picking her up at the airport late tonight. I sent her an e-mail this morning, telling her to call me on my mobile once she's through customs and telling her that we are invited @ Amica's tomorrow afternoon. Her reply:

So tomorrow at 3.00 chez Amica…are we going to squeeze in some girlie shopping too??

What a question to ask me! I immediately replied:
Shopping? Well of course! You know me, shopaholic extraordinaire. See you at the airport tonight.

Lunch-break purchases: I went to Interio to buy some gifts for friends.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

lunch-break workout, the retailtherapist way

Today I was on a mission in my lunch-break which is exactly from 12:30-13:45 (and no, we don't have flexitime). I needed to dash to the Hello Kitty! store in the second district to spend the vouchers Amica gave me last Saturday in lieu of my birthday gift (a bag I already had) that she had taken back to the shop. Unfortunately, said shop has rather consumer-unfriendly opening hours, being from 13:00- 17:00.
I clocked out from Coma HQ at 12:32, hopped on the 1 tram, got off at Schwedenplatz, popped into the Ströck outlet to get a prosciutto panino, jumped into the U1, got off at Nestroyplatz, killed some time/bought some household stuff in the nearest DM and opened the door of the HK store at 13:00 on the dot. After thorough perusal of the merchandise I settled for a nice brown cotton shopping bag from an, ahem, relatively "grown-up" range and took the U1 back to Stephansplatz from where I walked back to Coma HQ at a leasurely pace, arriving at 13:35. Not bad, eh? I'd worked up a healthy appetite for my panino which I devoured once the flush on my cheeks had abated and I'd rid myself of my steaming coat and hat. Who needs a membership at the gym when you can work up a sweat and get to indulge in retail therapy in one go?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Three cheers for chiquita

Today I had a lunch-date with my favourite little cousin, known to commenters of this humble site as "chiquita". She was in London last weekend and brought me back something I've been lusting after ever since I smelt it on Amica, who got it as a birthday present from an Irish friend: Jo Malone's Lime Basil and Mandarine Cologne. Divine! Fresh! Not available in Austria! And not exactly a steal at £30.00/€45.00 for a tiny bottle but sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo worth the investment. I've been sniffing my wrists all afternoon. I so need some aromatherapy at Coma HQ, let me assure you...
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