Tag Archives: Linner

Letter N #AtoZChallenge

Continuing the memoir encyclopedia theme with Letter N…

Napster

Remember Napster? I certainly do. Back in the late 90’s, Napster was my gateway to free music. This was a time before I realized the ramifications of copyright infringement. I’ve since grown up and now pay for music I listen to, but back then, I was blissfully ignorant.

At the time, we had one computer in our house, a slow desktop PC located in my parents’ bedroom that could be used sparingly. I’d sit down and dial up the internet to get started. That familiar deeee-dooooo-deeeee screech that kids nowadays will never know signaled that I was on my way to connecting to the interwebs. Using Napster, I’d search for the songs I wanted, and then download them. A few hours later, I’d be able to listen to the fruits of my labor. Sadly, most of the time the song was either poor quality or not the full length song, which meant I had to do it all over. Again, another frustration this generation will never understand.

Once I had all the songs I wanted, I’d burn a CD of my favorites, much like I used to make mixed tapes. Then, with careful penmanship, I’d label the CD with a title such as “Chill Music” or “Party Jams” and play them in my Mustang as I cruised around town with the windows down. Ahhhh, the good ole days!

Nicknames

Nicknames are a big thing in my life, which is surprising since I didn’t have a nickname as a kid. Well, that’s not true. I guess I sorta had a nickname when I was little. My mom told me that when I was 3 or 4, I used to introduce myself as NuNu Kesler whenever anyone asked me my name. My mom would correct me, slightly embarrassed that I told a stranger that was my name, but I was adamant that my name was NuNu. I have no idea where I got NuNu from Jennifer, but I was a weird kid, so there’s no telling.

Growing up as Jennifer, a common and very popular name, I’d often get called Jenny by people who didn’t know me. They quickly figured out that I despised being called Jenny, and it didn’t happen anymore. As an adult, it’s happened a few times, but I just ignore it and they get the idea that I hate it. I’m just not a Jenny. Often people will call me Jenn. While it isn’t my favorite, it doesn’t bother me. The only thing I ask is that it’s spelled with two n’s. I know…I told you, I’m weird.

Back in seventh grade, I had the pleasure of meeting the quirky, energetic, and fun-loving Lisa Day. Lisa was the queen of nicknames and anyone who knew her had at least one out-of-the-ordinary name. Her nickname for herself was Liter D. Her mom was Mutey and her brother was Feeney. I was named Fer-fer when she cleverly decided to use the second part of my name, but later she shortened it to Ferf. I enjoyed it and gladly answered to my new name.

Beginning sometime in high school, people started calling me Kesler, my last name. I have no idea how it happens, but in many different circumstances and circles of people, someone will start calling me Kesler and it then becomes a thing. I’ve always introduced myself as Jennifer, but somehow it usually morphs into Kesler or some variation of my last name, such as Kes-Kes, JKes, Kes, or just JK. I love my last name, so it’s a nickname I don’t mind.

Shaggers has given me a very unusual nickname, opting to only use the middle of my name. To her, Jeezy, and baby Marlowe I am Ennif (pronounced en-ee-f). I’m not sure when this nickname started, but it’s stuck for a while. I’m pretty sure only Shags could get away with calling me this.

I’ve also had a few other nicknames throughout my life bestowed upon me. At Sonic, I was called Goatalo, a name given to me by my boss Brice for some unknown reason. He even printed a name tag with it, something that was difficult to explain to customers when I delivered their food. At iD Tech camp, where we all go by nicknames, I was Sweet T, on account of the fact that I was from Texas (the T) and I love sweet tea. That was a pretty sweet nickname. Once I became a principal in China and became my friends’ boss, they’d tease me by calling me Bosslady, a name that drove me crazy! I don’t know why I let it bug me, but I used to get so mad at them for calling me that. At some point, it stopped bothering me, and I accepted it. As a parting gift, I got the coolest present from Donna, a pair of knee-high socks with BOSS on one and LADY on the other. They were perfect!

I also love giving people nicknames, and have bestowed many a nickname to my friends. I recently wrote about Linner and how I gave her the nickname. She hated it when I first started calling her Linner, but I wore her down eventually. Haha 😂 My dear friend Michelle is mostly called Michelle, but when I want to irritate or tease her, she’s Shelly. She won’t acknowledge it, but I know she hears me. My mom has an unusual first name, and when combined with her middle name, it’s so distinct and country-sounding. Her name is Telva Lou. Recently, Michelle and I were jamming out to my 90’s playlist when Mambo No. 5 came on. As you know, the singer of this catchy tune is none other than one-hit-wonder Lou Bega. In a stroke of genius, I decided to call my mom Telva Lou Bega (you have to say it really fast to get the full effect). Laughing hysterically at my new nickname for her, I called my mom to tell her, and you know what? She ignored me! It’s like she didn’t hear me. But, no, she heard me alright. I repeatedly called her that at least five times in that conversation, but she didn’t acknowledge it at all. She’s been ignoring my ridiculousness my whole life, so I guess she has plenty of practice. Anyway, it’s my new nickname for her, and I throw it into a text or conversation every once in a while. I’ll wear her down like all the others…just give it time.

My long-time friend named Jennifer was quickly given a nickname, mainly to differentiate us. Having a friend with the same name can get confusing, you know. She’s Beeners, based on her last name (well, her maiden name) Beene. Beeners is such a cool cat. She’s into unicorns and fairies and loves cats. Her positive outlook on life is refreshing and she’s soooo passionate about the things and people she loves. We’ve drifted apart some with the distance between us, but when we do catch up, it’s like nothing’s changed. She’s one of my people, and I love her.

Nicole

I can’t think of my adolescence without thinking of Nicole. Nicole and I were best friends from the fifth grade, when I met her mom at Heritage Park, the sidewalk park in my neighborhood just opposite Nicole’s house. Her mom said, “I bet you and my daughter would get along. You should meet her.” Well, she was absolutely right! Nicole and I were inseparable and spent nearly every day together in some way, either at one another’s houses or chatting on the phone for hours. Dude, we are a combo when it comes to talking…neither one of us can shut up! haha

We had so many sleepovers (mainly at her house) that we became intertwined in each other’s families. Her mom and dad would discipline me just like they would her when I stepped out of line, and vice versa with my parents. To look at us, Nicole and I were opposites. She was slender, with dark hair and blue eyes, while I was more curvy with blonde hair and green eyes. I remember wishing we wore the same size because a) I wanted to be thinner and b) she had the cutest clothes!

Growing up with Nicole through my formative years was the best! We relied on one another when we had friend troubles (girls can be really mean in middle and high school!) or boy troubles (one of us was always talking about a crush we had on someone and discussing the best way to get him to like us back). Being able to trust someone completely and know they have your back is rare, but we had that. This isn’t to say we never fought…we were teenage girls after all, but we never stayed mad at one another very long. She was like the sister I never had, and I loved her…still do, in fact.

After high school, we drifted apart, our lives going in different directions, but we’ve always loved one another. We used to catch up every once in a while when I happened to be in town and ran into her or her sister, but over the past few years, we’ve kept in regular contact and hang out any time I’m back in town and talk on the phone or text when I’m away. It’s interesting how it worked out and life brought us back into one another’s lives. I’m glad it happened. Nicole is my family.

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Nicole and me this past summer…I wish I had a picture of us when we were younger, but they’re all in albums at my parents’ house in Texas.

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Letter L #AtoZChallenge

Loving this challenge…Letter L memoir encyclopedia entries for your reading pleasure…

Linner

One my best friends in the whole world is Linner. Her full name is Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner. Kidding…she hates when I call her that. Her real name is Linnea, but due to an unfortunate typo on her school email, where they typed Linner instead of Linnea, she was stuck with the nickname. I bet she wishes she hadn’t complained to me about that. At first, she used to get sooooo mad when I called her Linner. But I’m not a quitter! I kept calling her that until she finally relented and accepted her fate. The Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner part came about because it rhymes and it’s hilarious…especially because she’s a vegetarian! hahaha

Anyway, I don’t know what I’d do without Linner in my life. She and I have been through a lot together and have supported one another through some of the toughest things in life. She accepts me for me, and I do the same for her. She can frequently be heard saying, “Oh, Jennifer…” in regards to one of my crazy stories or quirks that present themselves. Examples include when I get into yet another accident, when I make her take 27 selfies on the Bund with random strangers, or when I have to go to a specific restaurant for a specific food, even when it’s out of the way.

Linner and I met when I moved to China. We moved at the same time, and became fast friends. She and I have traveled together a fair bit, having been to KL and KK, Malaysia, Seoul, South Korea, and Bangkok and Ao Nang, Thailand. We’ve also spent an inordinate amount of time together when I lived in Shangers. Now that I’m moving back to Asia for a while, I’m sure more Linner time will happen…it better!

I love Linner and firmly believe she is one the best people on this earth. 🙂

Lip Syncing

I absolutely love lip syncing! Maybe it’s because I hate watching people cringe during karaoke when my singing voice is subpar. Maybe it’s because I can act completely silly and over the top. Maybe it’s that I secretly wanted to be a performer. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of it! If my favorite song comes on while I’m shopping with a friend, I’ll bust out a full-on performance right then and there, inevitably making them laugh while they look around to see who’s watching. Why other people get embarrassed when I’m the one lip syncing, I’ll never know.

When Jimmy Fallon came out with his lip sync battles, I couldn’t contain my excitement! I’ve watched them all at least once, but I’ve viewed most of them a number of times. My favorites are Joseph Gordon Levitt, John Krasinski, Stephen Merchant, Emma Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, and Melissa McCarthy. Of course, Jimmy kills it every time, too.

My love affair with lip sync seeped into my work at RBIS/HQIS in China. I got in the habit of showing short videos as an introduction to our staff meetings, and while most were educational or inspirational, I would occasionally throw in a funny one. One day I put on Jimmy’s lip sync battle with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Stephen Merchant. It brought down the house! The teachers had tears in their eyes from laughing so hard. From there, an idea was born. I issued a lip sync challenge for the staff Christmas party, where individuals or groups of people could volunteer to perform live or show a video of a pre-recorded lip sync. That staff party was the most fun we had had in a long while! People you wouldn’t imagine having the guts to get up there did. The songs ranged from uber popular pop ballads to obscure songs you’d rarely heard of before.

My song of choice was the then-current viral hit, What the Fox Say? I had to do it. Everyone knew I was obsessed with that song, plus it annoyed everyone, so it was a perfect song choice. Modesty aside, I killed it. Like, for real…it was a pretty epic performance. What made it so awesome was when two of the shyest teachers at the school ran up to the stage right after the song began and became my impromptu back-up dancers. The coolest thing is that neither one knew the other was going to do it (I didn’t either for that matter), and they hadn’t even practiced before, but accounts from the audience said that they were completely in sync with one another and their movements enhanced the song. Like I said, it was epic. I wish I had a video to show you…scratch that, I don’t know that I could handle watching it.

We continued the lip sync thing for a while at school, with teams of people making funny videos to show at staff meetings and live lip sync performances becoming a staple at staff parties. When we went through a particularly tough time at school with our campus moving to a new location, the leadership team made a hilarious video to lift our staff’s spirits. We enjoyed hamming it up, and the staff loved it as well.

Logan Cole

Logan Cole, my nephew, is a never-ending ball of energy! Where he gets the energy to run and play and wrestle without stopping, I’ll never know. I guess all kids are like that though…hard to keep up with. Logan, or Bubby as he’s called, is stunningly adorable. He makes the cutest faces and is extremely photogenic. He makes me laugh incessantly with his crazy antics (see picture below for an example). How could you not laugh at that?

As much of an energetic goofball he is, he also has a sweet, gentle side. He and his sister, Randi, have such a loving relationship. He adores and looks up to her. They can frequently be caught giving each other hugs and encouraging one another. This isn’t to say they never fight…they’re kids…but it’s a rare occasion when they do.

I hate being so far away from him. I miss out on the little things that happen every day. Seeing him only twice a year means he’s growing up way too quickly. But, I try to make the most of my time I do have with him. When he turned three, I started taking him out on dates, just like I do with his sister. Last time, he chose to go to Chucky Cheese (Tucky Teese as he says…soooo cute!), play with the train set at Barnes & Noble, and eat lunch. I wonder what he’ll want to do this summer. I love you Logan Cole! ❤

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Love

Love is sharing your last bite of pie, when you really wanted to eat it yourself. Love is truly listening to one another without distractions. Love is laughing at the stories he tells over and over even when they are no longer funny. Love is bringing dinner to a sick friend. Love is telling her she’s beautiful when she doesn’t see it herself. Love is a home-cooked meal. Love is giving that perfect gift that will make their face light up. Love is a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Love is being patient when he’s cranky. Love is butterflies in your stomach, a mix of excitement and nerves. Love is showing up when you say you will. Love is a goodnight text. Love is contentment in the silence. Love is a baby’s snuggles. Love is an ache in your chest. Love is sunshine on your face. Love is the feeling you get when you can’t imagine your life without this person in it. Love is color and light. Love is seeing goodness in someone else. Love is forgiving. Love is free.

Luxuries

I enjoy luxuries in life, as I’m sure most people do. Some of my favorite luxuries to indulge in include massages, mani/pedis, rich, chocolatey desserts, a maid who cleans my house, traveling to the far corners of the earth, English breakfast tea and a book on a lazy Saturday morning, facials, a day all to myself, and a gourmet meal. I’m very fortunate to lead a life where I can enjoy these luxuries and more on a regular basis.

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Spring Break Plans

I’m soooo excited for Spring Break!! Just another 8 days of work, and then I get a magical 12 days off! 🙂 Linner is coming for part of my break, and I’ll be doing a bit of solo travel, too. Today I finalized my plans and I’m really looking forward to it!

When Linner arrives, we’ll have a quick staycation in Bangkok. The plan is to visit the Floating Market (new to us both), stay in a posh hotel downtown with a rooftop pool, get massages, and eat yummy Thai food. All in all, my kinda thing.

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Linner and I will travel to Krabi, Thailand and stay in Ao Nang at a sweet resort not too far from the beach. I plan to lay by the pool (hopefully I can get in, too!), relax with a pina colada or a fresh juice, and read. We’d also like to explore Ao Nang beach. Again, I hope to take a dip. Ao Nang has beautiful beaches, with huge rocks and cliffs nearby. I’d like to take a boat ride one day.


Once Linner leaves, I’ll be solo traveling to Indonesia! After a quick stop-over in Jakarta, I’ll fly to Ubud, Bali, where I will be staying at a relaxing hotel near the city. It has a pool with lounge chairs, a spa, and a good restaurant. The best part is it only cost me $34 a night, including breakfast! There’s a free area shuttle, and if I’m mobile and able to walk around, I plan on exploring. If not, I’ll lounge by the pool, reading and writing. Either way, it’ll be a relaxing trip!


This is why I live abroad…trips like this are possible and affordable. 🙂

Year in Photos 2016

Sometimes pictures are better than words. They can tell more of a story, inviting the reader to infer their meaning, ask questions about their significance to the writer, and wonder what happened before and after the snapshot was taken. I’ve been telling a story of my year in photos for the past couple of years (click here for my year in photos for 2014 and 2015), and it is an exercise I enjoy, looking back through my year’s photos, deciding which ones to include and which ones are better left out. Without further adieu, here is my 2016 year in photos, in chronological order.

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A Year in Photos- 2015 #sol16 20 of 31

Last year, I wrote a post sharing my favorite photos from 2014. This was a really great way to reflect on my year, and to relive some of my favorite moments. So here goes 2015’s year in photos (in chronological order). I hope you enjoy! 🙂

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All photos copyright of Jennifer Kesler. Please do not use without permission.

Dinner with Linner- SOL #19

Last night, Linner (my nickname for her) and I headed out to Shook, a restaurant in the Swatch Hotel on the Bund, for a fancy Restaurant Week dinner. We both love fine dining, and when we can get it for a cheaper price, we love it even more!

Our first course was the Tomato Basil Bisque with Grilled Cheese “Soldiers.” Giggling as we ordered it, we talked about how we can’t understand why restaurants feel the need to make up names for food like that. They’re mini sandwiches, not soldiers. Just call it what it is. As far as the taste, the soup was really nice, but I personally make better grilled cheese.

Linner with her Espresso Martini…she’s brave drinking so much caffeine at night! Hope she was able to sleep when she got home. 😉

I opted for a Pina Colada, a girly drink where the alcohol taste is masked in sweet goodness. 🙂 Later, my drink would be the idea for a song I would sing whilst walking along the Bund. “Do you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?”…

Our main course was the Pan Roasted Snapper with Potato Puree, Blistered Tomatoes, Cucumber, Fresh Herbs, Ginger, and Tamarind Sauce. First thought was that the presentation was gorgeous. Second thought was what’s all this cilantro doing on my plate? I despise cilantro, and would have noticed that on the menu. Ahhh…it must be the fresh herbs. Luckily, it was just on the top, so I could easily pick it off. After that, the meal was really tasty, but on the smaller size portion-wise.

Our third course, always my favorite, was dessert. Linner had the Lemon Cheesecake with Maple Cranberry Compote, Toasted Walnuts, and Whipped Cream while I had the Coconut Lime Creme Brulee. My creme brulee was perfectly done, with that crispy sugary coating you have to hit just right with your spoon to get into the creamy custard beneath. We shared both, as we sipped our cocktails and shared stories.

Linner is one of those friends who will always be there for you. Whether we’re getting together to swap funny stories, laugh at the happenings of the week, and reminisce about the past, or we’re supporting one another through a tough time, she’s a sweet, loyal, dear friend.

Tonight’s conversation was light and fun, filled with stories. We remembered the time she got the nickname Linner, and how she hated it every time I called her that….until I was relentless and she gave in, accepting that, to me, she was no longer Linnea, but the less beautiful-sounding Linner. I playfully call her ‘Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner.’ Secretly, she loves it. We also recalled the time I changed her boyfriend’s name in her phone to ‘Dee my lover’…haha, she was so mad about that one because she couldn’t figure out how to change it back. It stuck until she finally was able to change it a few days later. We talked about the time in Seoul, on vacation together, when I realized that Linner was not to be messed with in the morning. Taking pictures of bed head is not her idea of fun…haha. I’ve realized that throughout our friendship, I pick on her, but she’s a good sport and we’re still friends. 🙂 She’s the nicer one of the two, for sure!

After I passed the fifth woman taking ‘glamour shots’ on the Bund, I decided to take some myself…haha! I love being in China…you can be completely silly and it’s no big deal! 🙂

My favorite selfie of the night…Linner with her serious face and me with my silly one! She’s definitely a friend for a lifetime. Love you Linner!! 🙂

Lost at Sea- SOL #19

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Adventure seems to follow me everywhere. What I mean by adventure is that crazy things that probably wouldn’t happen to most people, tend to happen to me. It’s a gift. 🙂 One such time was back during my first year in China, when Linnea and I took a trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Malaysia is known for good diving, so we decided to give it a go.

Linnea was a certified diver, but at the time, I was not. I had been on a 3-day diving excursion in Australia a few years prior, but those were guided discovery dives. Not having a ton of time to get my certification, I opted for the discovery dive again. Linnea, myself, and the guide were only ones diving, so I was pretty excited about the one-on-one attention I would get. Before we dove out in the ocean, we participated in some training in the shallow waters near the shore, things like breathing under water, clearing our mask, removing and locating our regulators, and reading the gauges that indicated how much air was left in the tank and how deep we were. During our training session, things started coming back to me. That unnatural feeling of breathing under the water when your brain tells you “this is wrong.” Remaining calm when your reg was out of your mouth and you couldn’t breathe. The stinging in your eyes when your mask filled with saltwater. I had listened to the directions. I had practiced the drills. I knew the underwater signals. I was ready.

The boat took us out to a deeper part of the water, far from the coast and, sitting on the side of the dinghy, we tumbled into the water, ready to explore. The first thing we noticed was the murky water. Bummer! How were we supposed to see everything when we couldn’t see more than 3 feet in front of us? I guessed that the recent daily rains had stirred up all the sand and muck from the bottom of the ocean. Regardless, we kept going. As we dove deeper and deeper into the depths of the ocean, I was constantly aware of where the guide and Linnea were in relation to me. Linnea was swimming a few feet above me, while our guide was next to me. Once we reached our final depth of 14 meters, we slowed down, taking in the coral landscape in front of us. Every 30 seconds to a minute, I took stock of my diving buddies, making sure I was keeping up with the more experienced divers. Something caught my eye. A clownfish! I had found Nemo! Stopping for half a minute to take a mental image of this beautiful creature in its natural environment, I was in awe.

Following my brief distraction, I swam ahead, checking the locations of Linnea and the guide. Uh oh! I can’t find them! Swimming in a circle, darting my eyes up, down, and all around, I realize I’ve lost them. Crap! Don’t panic, Jennifer. The worst thing you can do 14 meters underneath the ocean is panic. Constantly turning in circles, looking for any sign of them, my mind replayed the directions the guide gave us. When the air gauge reads 50, it’s time to go up, or else you might run out of air. When you go up, you have to go slow because of the pressure. Safety stop at 5 meters, where you wait for 3 minutes before you go to the water’s surface. But what do you do if you get lost? As I racked my brain, I realized he didn’t tell us. As someone with an insanely accurate memory, if he had told us what to do, I know I would have remembered it. Think…think…what would I tell my students if they got lost on a field trip? ‘Stay put! I will find you!’ Two people looking for each other isn’t productive. It was decided. I would just stay put and wait until they came to find me. They would come to find me. Right?

Doing my best to distract myself from the thought that I am 14 meters under the ocean, in another country, as a non-certified diver, in murky waters, alone, I look at the fish and coral around me. Despite my efforts, the scenery is just not as cool as it was a minute ago. Steadily looking at the gauges, I become more and more weary as the little dial marches toward 50. I decide to make a plan. If the needle reaches 50 before I’m found, I have to ascend. I know how to read the depth gauge. I’ll just stop at 5 meters, and since I don’t have a watch, I’ll count to 180, and then safely swim to the water’s surface. Time ticked by. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Swimming in circles, on the lookout for someone, anyone, I noticed the needle touch the 50. Time to go up. Just then, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I’ve been found! Turning around, I come face to face with an angry guide. I get the “What the hell are you doing?” shrug. Me? What am I doing? “I’ve been waiting on you!” I gesture back. Pointing toward the surface, the guide indicates that it’s time to ascend.

Following the safety measures, we reach the surface. Breaking through the water, I am greeted by Linnea’s face, a face that is scared, worried, and unsure. “Where were you? What happened? I was really worried!”

Our guide, clearly annoyed with me, asks me why I didn’t come up once I was lost. “I didn’t know I was supposed to come up. I just thought you guys would find me,” I replied, quite annoyed that he’s mad at the girl who is doing a discovery dive, supposedly under his careful watch.

“I told you, if you get separated, wait 1 minute, then come up to the surface.”

“No, you never told us that. I would have remembered that!”

“Yes I did. You just weren’t listening.”

“Linnea, did he say that?”

“No, he didn’t. I just know from my diving certification course,” she informed me. No apology was given by the dive instructor for his lack of instructions.

At that point, we load the boat, headed back to shore, a bit more shaken up than when we left. Linnea had been so worried about me. Apparently I was lost at sea for about 8 minutes. Now 8 minutes isn’t that long when you’re driving, reading a book, or watching a TV show, but 8 minutes alone, at the bottom of the ocean feels like forever. I felt really bad for Linnea. I knew I was safe. I knew they were together, and therefore safe, but she didn’t know what had happened to me. She thought she’d have to go back to RBIS and tell everyone she lost Jennifer at the bottom of the ocean. She thought she’d have to call my parents, and tell them I was lost, or worse. I can’t imagine what she was going through.

See what I mean? Adventure finds me. Even though it was scary, it was an adventure, and it makes for a good story, don’t you think?

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