MY HEROS and FRIENDS


HEROS OF MINE, MAY ALL REST IN PEACE

YOUR MARKS ON THIS WORLD

ARE WELL NOTED




SENATOR JOHN McCAIN

 THE PASSING OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN

1936-2018


A Naval Aviator, Warrior, Statesman, Congressman and Senator,

family man, patriot and hero, obstinate, fearless, a fighter for the

people,  the United States, and a man who loved his country first...

thats how I will remember him.

Whenever America was in a fight during his long lifetime, John McCain was in the thick of it.  McCain, who has died at the age of 81, was a naval bomber pilot, prisoner of war, conservative maverick, giant of the Senate, twice-defeated presidential candidate and an abrasive American hero with a twinkle in his eye.

The political world reacts to Sen. John McCain’s death, The Arizonan warrior politician, who survived plane crashes, several bouts of skin cancer and brushes with political oblivion, often seemed to be perpetually waging a race against time and his own mortality while striving to ensure that his five-and-a-half years as a Vietnam prisoner of war did not stand as the defining experience of his life.

He spent his last few months out of the public eye in his adopted home state of Arizona, reflecting on the meaning of his life and accepting visits from a stream of friends and old political combatants.  In a memoir published in May, McCain wrote that he hated to leave the world, but had no complaints.

"It's been quite a ride. I've known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make peace," McCain wrote. "I've lived very well and I've been deprived of all comforts. I've been as lonely as a person can be and I've enjoyed the company of heroes. I've suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation.

"I MADE A SMALL PLACE FOR MYSELF IN THE STORY OF AMERICA AND THE HISTORY OF MY TIMES."

McCain had not been in Washington since December, leaving a vacuum in the corridors of the Senate and the television news studios he roamed for decades.   In recent months, he was not completely quiet, however, blasting President Donald Trump in a series of tweets and statements that showed that while he was ailing he had lost none of his appetite for the political fight.

Trump breaks silence on McCain, tweeting his ‘deepest sympathies and respect’   No thanks... The Arizona Senator repeatedly made clear that he saw Trump and his America First ideology as a departure from the values and traditions of global leadership that he saw epitomized in the United States.

McCain had been planning his funeral services over the last year and his family made clear that Trump is not invited, a position that has not changed, two family friends said Saturday.  Instead he sent Mike Pense, the Excuser and Chief for Trump.


One thought:  I keep thinking, and I can’t chase it from my mind...  A remark by President Trump, a known fraud, narcissistic,  misogamist, draft dodger, money launderer for the Russians, Fake news distributor, and liar... Trump said, “I like people that weren’t captured.”  

Someone should have said,  “ If you as a draft dodger and coward didn’t serve, it only proves your comment proves what a coward you really are and so are most of your associates”

It was an insult to all those who served their country.  The only mistake was electing someone so unworthy of the position.

So to all of you in the GOP base and Evangelicals blinded by a false faith,  I suppose you prefer a coward, creep, draft dodger, thief, narcissistic, misogamist, liar and bigot... to a tortured vet,  I have only one message for you... 

You need some real help...serious mental help for supporting a scumbag.  The SIOUX Indians said,  
“ Which is worse the liar or those who tell the tales and support the liar” ....   

And if you look in the mirror and you are a supporter, guilty, your position is clear, explain that to God one day... or maybe the guy in the other place will listen. You are an embarrassment to your own faith and might wind up sitting next to Mike Pense, another loser who tells the lies of the liar.





MY THOUGHTS 

Someone said on CNN, “ Anthony Bourdain admitted his own shortcomings in a way other men were afraid to”.  He didn’t want credit for it, he just wanted to be better.  Spot on. I loved and looked forward to his shows, he brought forth a unique style, through passion and love, through frank communication, an understanding and brilliant simple showcasing of what others have contributed to this world through customs, traditions and necessity using food as a medium.

His observational brilliance was as diverse as his culinary skills especially when he showcased an American City I had visited several times and he brought to life a side of that city somehow I missed.  Even the controversial shows like Lao, and Viet Nam which I am quite familiar with, as the real thing, right on the bullseye having worked with some of those people.


I remember as a child ( I just turned 75) one of the books I received as a gift and cherished the most was ‘  The Seven Wonders of the World’.  If nothing else it taught me or exposed me to the beauty and diversity of the blue green globe we share and live on with others.   His style, of storytelling brought me back to the excitement of visiting and seeing places and cultures just as I had done flipping the pages of that book.

He made the show not about himself but of those who were his friends and guests.   His culinary skills were blessed with an internal database of the one of two commonalities shared throughout the world and yet as diverse as the world can be.  Music and food are common denominators, they are the bridge builders of humanities and sharing with others.  I think the entire world was a canvas for him, and he painted places and showcased others so they may be appreciated. 

He will be truly missed as in this day and age of greed and self indulgent hypocrites, liars, uncertainty, insecurity, hate, isolation and popularism, negativism, and prejudice brought forth by people it seems with no passion or love.  He was a light on when parts of the night were darkest.  He brought forth good and the Lord was pleased...  


CNN - 07/13/2018
Anthony Bourdain and the program he hosted on CNN were honored Thursday with multiple Emmy nominations, a little more than one month after his death.  Bourdain, who died June 8, was honored with two nominations, while his show, "Parts Unknown," earned six nominations overall. The show's digital extension, "Explore Parts Unknown," also scored a nomination. 

Bourdain is nominated in the outstanding informational series or special category for his part as host and executive producer of the program. He also earned an individual nomination for outstanding writing for a nonfiction program. 

Additionally, "Parts Unknown" was nominated for its sound mixing, sound and picture editing and cinematography. 

On the series, Bourdain would travel to all corners of the Earth in search of delicious meals, enlightening conversations with the locals and a deeper understanding of wherever he happened to be visiting that week.   It was his skills for finding the latter that earned the series praise and multiple awards, including five Emmys and a Peabody Award.

Bourdain, 61, died by suicide while working in France on an episode of "Parts Unknown."  After his death, Bourdain's close friend, fellow chef and frequent "Parts Unknown" travel companion Eric Ripert remembered Bourdain as "one of the great storytellers who connected with so many.”The Emmy Awards will be given out on September 17.




CONVERSATION A LOST SOCIAL ORDER 


am an avid movie fan especially, good movies with a message, and the Last Samurai with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe brought something to bear in both quality and message.   There are tremendous story lines in most Samurai movies.  The first Samurai movies date back to the fifties in black and white and these movies do have a following.  

In the 14th -17th century, Samurai or Bushi were the members of the elite military class and trained to serve the landowners and Lords in feudal Japan.  Their fate was sealed unless they liked being farmers.  

Samurai were supposed to lead their lives according to the ethic code of bushido (“The way of the warrior").  Strongly Confucian  in nature, bushido stressed concepts such as loyalty to one's master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behavior.

In the movie the Samurai leader Katsumoto thanks Tom Cruise, his captive prisoner after a long battle.  During the winter, the two start a conversation  and gradually get to know each other.

They had more in common than either had thought,

The two mortal enemies after leaving the field of combat find they seek the same things in life even after a years captivity, and they become friends and eventually allies.  Katsumoto thanks Cruise for his “Interesting Conversations”.   


WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR “ INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS”?
We don't talk anymore. We are impersonal, we text, we twit, we communicate in savage tongues and burped words.  We have aliases and fake mail accounts to hide our faces.   Most of which we do is useless or worthless conversation. It reflects in our society, our children's education, and creates false empires.

My close friend and neighbor Jim Wise passed away last year, I volunteered to speak and eulogize him at his funeral and this movie story came to me… I was a nervous and confident at the same time, since Jewish people normally spend little time in Catholic Churches but I was welcomed by Fr. Pat who didn’t even question what I was about to say.  

He seemed to know me, “You were Jim’s friend",  I wondered if Jim had ever mentioned me. Toward the end of the proper funeral service, and mass, the Priest called me to the pulpit.  I took out my notes, laid them on the lectern and never looked at them, the words came easy to me... after, Jim’s wife told me the Priest had on occasion fell asleep during the boring moments, she told me , he never even blinked, he was Jim’s friend also and words have meanings...


EULOGY FOR JIM WISE
TO THE PARISHIONERS AND FRIENDS OF JAMES WISE - St. JEROME’S CATHOLIC CHURCH  2013

It is both with great sadness and celebration that I stand in front of you today in this House of Worship to remember the life of my good friend Jim Wise.  We spent many, many hours together.  

I am happy to see so many of Jim’s, friends, neighbors and relatives attending.  And I know that many of you traveled a long way to be here, and I truly believe Jim would be incredibly appreciative to see you.  He is looking down as we speak and... he knows you are here.

Almost nine years ago Jim interviewed me and my late wife Dolly when we applied to live at Country Club Condominiums. A simple one-hour screening interview turned into many hours, and many additional conversations with “the Mayor of Building Three” as he was well known by continued for years.

I believe one of the members of the Home Owners Association gave him that nickname after he served almost three terms on the HOA board.  He took an active interest in serving and knew just about everything that was going on at the condos.   He always had a word or something to talk about whether at the communal mailbox, or when he was tinkering in his garage.   When we had problems in the building, he was there, contributing his advise and problem solving.

After I lost my wife, almost six years ago, I still made a full pot of coffee every morning as I had done for decades.  I admit to being a coffee ritual, addict.   And it became a shared ritual, a morning a cup of “Jo” with JIM and continue our conversations on a daily basis. It was the 8:30 O’ clock coffee break, I start my day at 5:30 AM, unofficial but just like the Euro trains, he was always on time.  

Why waste good fresh coffee?  I had plenty and he liked coffee.  He also had a sweet tooth and liked the French Vanilla Bean, two spoons of NesQuick Chocolate and a splash of Irish Mist flavoring. It was his favorite pick-me-up and elixir.  Today they bottle it and sell it with a five-hour guarantee.  It was Jim’s pick me up, he was old school, and in a way like me.

Many days, we had breakfast together.  He was my test bed for cooking, like “Mike-ee” in that commercial, he’d try anything I made. He liked my cooking and we had a lot of fun and a couple laughs together.  

With the onset of his Macular Degeneration, he was losing his vision, and combined with other pertinent health issues, he began losing his sight more rapidly.    I could see the importance of our time we spent together,  I was his sight keeping him in touch with the world.  His expression, “So what’s the latest news or gossip?”  

I said, “We better go to the paper, ain’t nothing going on here“.  We went through the paper together, I read he listened, and we talked about everything from football to politics, and we both agreed, college football is better and many politicians are closely related to crooks sharing the same DNA.

When he didn’t or couldn’t show, I called to see if he was OK.  He saw his world dimming but he still wanted to know what was going on.  This was his time, he knew it, and then a movie made me think .

I must digress for a moment…A movie starring Tom Cruise (played Captain Algren) and Ben Watanabe (played Katsumoto) was called “The  Last Samurai” did well at the box office. It was the story of an American military advisor hired to do away with the Samurai rebels who were resisting the overtaking of Japan by greedy Western influence in the late 1800’s.

Our hero was wounded and captured by the rebel Samurai Warlord. After being held for almost a year, and gradually through “Intelligent Conversations” they shared their thoughts and feelings about life and situations.  They got to know and like, respect and be honest with each other.  Getting to know his captor’s culture, he embraces the Samurai Code.  He had realized the Samurai were the good guys in this story.  It started with simple conversation over a cup of tea and they became friends.
Somehow it connected. 

Where are we today, we do not converse, we technically communicate. Our electronic conversation is cold blooded, limited to texting, voice mails, twits and tweets. Some written by those who are real nit-twits and can’t spell and would be better off speaking to each other. I invented a new word, what do you call it when two nit-twits talk to each other?  Twitillation!

Just look at our position in the world in education, namely Math and Science (education wise) which has sunk to new lows. In fact being 17th and 25th, in the world is nothing to brag about.  It shows in the communication. Some messages I get are so cryptic, you would think they were done on a WWII German Enigma machine that baffled the famed British code-breakers.  I have no clue as to what some things mean or are supposed to mean.

Jim’s Legacy was Intelligent Conversation…he never twitted, tweeted or even got on the computer but he could converse and have an intelligent conversation about what was around him and it grew smaller with his vision loss.

Losing someone you respected is never easy, but when their life is taken away so rapidly, it is that much more difficult. There are many un-filled questions I would throw at him if he were here today. I will miss my friend and I hope that these words will help alleviate some of the grief we are are all feeling today.

If he were here now at this podium, he would tell us to cheer up, smile and remember all of the great memories we can all share with each other, positive thoughts.  Even though Jim may be gone, his memory will live on in some of us. I appreciated your friendship, Jim, I appreciated the “Intelligent Conversation”.  

Everyone should start their day and share their world with others and a cup of coffee is a really good place to start.  He drank out of this cup in my hand for many years.  This is Jim’s cup, the one he always used.  It says on it “Friends are the flowers of the heart”.   It is now for his beloved Geraldine to have it.

And with that I say sleep well, rest and speak well my friend, I know you are in a good place…and as entertaining as ever… Even when God spoke to Moses, Moses knew he had partaken of a good conversation, now it is your turn Jim, and mention my name to him....



I USED TO LIVE IN MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA

AND KEPT A PROMISE FORTY YEARS LATER

I once lived in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Years later, almost forty, I had made a promise to return to Montego Bay to see friends.  Montego Bay, the capital of St. James Parish on Jamaica’s north coast, is a major cruise ship port with numerous beach resorts and golf courses outside its commercial core  at popular beaches include Doctor’s Cave Beach and Walter Fletcher Beach. There’s snorkeling and diving at coral reefs in the protected waters of Montego Bay Marine Park.

You will definitely want to egress the ship and pay a visit to Montego Bay, a lively city famous for its gorgeous beaches, historic plantations and friendly island charm and the Montego Bay City Centre. Here, you can find a wide range of duty-free shops, where you can buy everything from premium liquor to brand-name jewelry and watches.

Two attractions near Montego Bay serve it’s agricultural history. At the Rose Hall Great House, you can take a tour of an authentic sugar plantation dating back to the eighteenth century,  the sugar-growing process as well as Annie Palmer, the fabled “White Witch” that lived there.


MY WORK INVOLVED OPENING RENTAL CAR LOCATIONS

I lived in Montego Bay for two years in the early eighties as part of a rental car program we initiated for most of the islands featuring custom made dune buggy’s from California.  They were way ahead of their time, Jamaica was just starting to develop and we could only rent to the cruise ship customers and the airline passengers.

After two years and a lot of problems, Jamaica did not allow money to leave the country, no VW parts in Jamaica, insurance in a country with the highest death rate per accident in the world, the worst roads and problems with higher than kite drivers.   

In other words, if you went off the cliff, hit another car or met a hauler, most likely you went to the morgue instead of the hospital.   Left side cars as in England, takes getting used to, really poor single lane roads, with no markings, high tonnage Aluminum haulers, driving way too fast and not being familiar with the vehicle.  

The corporation decided to pull out of Jamaica and a few other islands, the program had set it sights on. Today, it’s different, the cruise lines have money and influence and  the ships tours take care of dune buggy rentals but forty years ago it was too big a risk till the big boys at the cruise lines took over. 

Money makes things happy and cruise ships are the income in Jamaica for many.  Their main export is bauxite, that stuff that is raw aluminum.  Next is sugar then tourism and finally rum.

FORFILL A PROMISE
But I lived at the Casa Blanca a lovely hotel, and met some really nice friends, locals I became close with and spent some time diving with and really seeing the cockpit country whom I went back to see on this trip after close to forty years.  When I returned to the states, and I made a promise to my friends whom I spent enjoyable times with during my tenure running our car rental business.

Two of my friends, Shackat Dalley a very good scuba diver and gracious friend, owns a dive service in Montego and his mother the Honorable Hazel Dally, a store keeper, owner of a bed and a small hotel, knew me back in the early eighties when I first arrived there.  I knew no one other than my employees, all Jamaican, most from Montego Bay.   In weeks I had a lot of friends and got to see a lot more than most tourists.  

My guys were incredibly talented,  learning how to do all repairs like body work and engines, better than our US guys.  The shop lift was four guys lifting a dune buggy and placing it on four crates.  

MY FRIENDS
Shackat’s mother,  the Hon Hazel Dalley had a unique gift shop right on the main drag in Montego bay.  Many Presidents stopped say hello, so did Fidel Castro.  She was a gracious and lovely lady and totally wrapped in the tourism for her island.   And when I learned there was a cruise that had a stop in Montego Bay.   We booked it quick. I had made a promise one day I would come back to see them.

When I walked through her door, after close to forty years, she recognized me, remembered my name and we spent a pleasant hour together before the call to board the ship came.  

SAD NEWS:
The pictures were taken on this cruise.   It was April, she passed on in December.  She was a Philanthropist and businesswoman.   The 89-year-old woman, affectionately known as ‘ Aunt Haze’, died peacefully at her Sunset Boulevard home in Montego Bay, St James today. A half year later I got the sad news....

Her niece, Lorna Cheong, said Dalley “ Went out like an angel", after being ill for the last three months, showing signs of recuperating, then deteriorating last week.  Her death has been described as a deep loss by several members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, who had accepted her as a member of their family. She was a Justice of the Peace and just about everyone in  Montego bay knew her.  She will be missed dearly.

The justice of the peace, who was conferred with the Order of Distinction for her work in tourism, was tagged a comprehensive lover of every policeman and woman by Superintendent of Police Paul Stanton, who knew her for more than 20 years.

"It’s a deep loss. She was the cream of the crop, when you talk about good corporate citizen, she epitomized that, and she boasted the highest level of integrity,” said Stanton, adding that Dalley gave unconditionally.  The businesswoman operated the Dalley’s Variety Store on Gloucester Avenue for more than 50 years.

She did much for the people of Montego Bay and Jamaica and will be remembered...



Roza ROBOTA and SAM SPITZER

921, Ciechanów – 5 Jan 1945

NOTE: Much of this technical, dates and times information was gleaned from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and most importantly the story came by my personal contact and interview with Sam Spitzer, my nephews grandfather in law and my relatives during a trip to Australia.

The family pictures at the Roza Robota gate were taken with Sam Spitzer and my brother Cye Jacobson. Cye's son is married to Sams granddaughter, friends called him "Poppy".  

I had the rare opportunity to spend quality time with Sam Spitzer and learn of this story, his incredible life of survival and involvement.  I realized how really important  their lives had been, unselfishly and totally devoted to saving others during the most of horrific times.

There were things he disclosed in the too few hours we spent together that went beyond any kind of conduct normal humans are capable of.  From the depths of depravity and torture to the courage of those who fought back, it has a scope too wide to imagine.

It was one of the most remarkable conversations I have ever had. I learned things about the resistance movement during WWII that didn't show on the History channel. I also learned more about the camps and the relentless brutality and inhumanity exhibited there.


ROSA ROBOTA
(Referred to, variants of spelling in other sources as Rojza, Rozia, or Rosa), was the leader and one of four women hanged in the Auschwitz concentration camp for their role in the Sonderkommando revolt of 7 October 1944.

Born in Ciechanów, Poland, to a middle-class family, Roza had one brother and one sister. She was a member of Hashomer Hatzair Zionist-socialist youth movement, and joined that movement's underground upon the Nazi occupation. Roza often used her Hebrew name, "Shoshanah."

She was transported to Auschwitz in 1942, and was sent to Auschwitz-II, the adjacent Birkenau labor camp for women, where she was involved in the underground dissemination of news among the prisoners. 

No one else from her family in Europe is known to have survived. She worked in the clothing depot at the Birkenau Effektenlager adjacent to Crematorium III of Birkenau, where the bodies of gas chamber victims were burned. She had been recruited by men of the underground whom she knew from her hometown, to smuggle "schwartzpulver", a rapidly burning compound collected by women in the "Weichsel" munitions factory, transferring it to a Sonderkommando surnamed Wróbel,who was also active in the resistance. 

This "schwartzpulver" was used to manufacture primitive grenades and possibly to help blow up the crematorium during the Sonderkommando revolt. In her work she was assisted by Hadassa Zlotnicka and AsirGodel Zilber, both also from Ciechanów, whom Robota apparently enlisted in the resistance. 

Together with a few other women who worked in the Nazi factory's "pulverraum," they were able to obtain, hide, and turn over to the men of the underground no more than one to three teaspoons of the "schwartzpulver" compound per day, and not every day. The Sonderkommando blew up Crematorium III on 6 October 1944.

Robota and three other women – Ala Gertner, Estusia Wajcblum, and Regina Safirsztajn – were arrested by the Gestapo and tortured in the infamous Bloc 23 but they refused to reveal the names of others who participated in the smuggling operation. 

They were hanged on 5 January 1945 – two women at the morning roll-call assembly, two others in the evening. Robota was 23 years old. According to some eyewitness accounts, she and her comrades shouted "Nekamah" ("Vengeance!"), or "Be Strong" to the assembled inmates before they died. Some say they shouted, "Chazak V'amatz" – "Be strong and have courage", the Biblical phrase that God uses to encourage Joshua after the death of Moses.

The Sonderkommando Revolt caused some 70 fatalities among the SS and kapos, and blew the roof off one crematorium, yet the Nazis knew the advancing Russian Army was very close to liberating the camp. It was clear to the Nazis that all evidence of the war-time atrocities had to be concealed, so the Germans attempted to destroy the other four crematoria themselves.


THE ROSA ROBOTA GATE
Roza Robota's memory lives on, in the naming of the Roza Robota Gates at Montefiore Randwick (Sydney, Australia). 

This initiative was made possible by Sam Spitzer, a resistance fighter during World War II and now a resident of Sydney.  He named the gates in honor of his war-time hero, Robota, and his late wife, Margaret. Spitzer’s sister was in Auschwitz with Robota.  At Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, a monument was built to honor Robota and the three other executed women. It stands in a prime location in the garden.


Samuel Spitzer (1922-2009)  “Poppy”
Excerpts from Rabbi Paul Jacobson, my nephew, eulogy for “Poppy”…  I remember pulling up alongside his apartment building.  He greeted me with a warm smile and a very strong handshake, introducing himself saying, “I am called Sam.”  And when I said, “Hello Sam.  My name is Paul, ” Lisa corrected me and said, “No, no, you don’t call him Sam.  You call him Poppy.  All of my friends always call him Poppy.”

I will say only that I learned early on that Poppy was a man of conviction, a crusader for what he thought was just and right.  The events of World War II were not history to Poppy; they were the moments of his life that scarred him, that tried his faith, and brought unspeakable anguish and torment to his soul and spirit. Try as he would throughout his long life, raging against and seeking to correct the injustices of the world, Poppy was never able to find healing for his wounds.

What we know about Poppy is that he was involved in the socialist underground movement, Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair.  When the political party was banned, he was thrown in prison for two years.  During his imprisonment, Poppy recounts that he benefited from the mentorship of Stefan Dubchek, Slovakian politician Alexander Dubcek’s father.  

In August 1944, the Slovak national uprising, organized by communists, discovered that he was Jewish and relocated him to a concentration holding camp.   

Before he was sent to the concentration camp, he escaped into the mountains.  Poppy managed to arrange papers identifying him as non-Jewish.  He fought during the final months of World War II until Czechoslovakia was liberated in April 1945.  

An enormous turning point in Sam’s life occurred in 1942 when he was arrested as a political prisoner by the Slovak government of the time. In jail he spent many lengthy spells in solitary confinement as well as being experimented on with radium treatment. 

But what he managed to gain in that time was a development of friendship and mentorship with some of the great political characters of the time. Alexander Dubcheck (former president of Czechoslovakia) and his friendship with Alexander’s father Stefan who was a mentor to him during those 2 years in jail.

On his release from jail it was uncovered that he was Jewish and therefore he was sent straight to the camps in Sered. Amazingly he and some other young men managed to escape. They joined with the partisans up in the mountains where he continued to fight until well after the war ended and word finally came to them that it was over. 

He would often describe to us the fear and loneliness he felt on the mountain, coming across countless frozen bodies of families many he had known in his childhood.  

After immigration to Australia, he was involved in sports, feared by politicians and vested in real estate, he became a very successful businessman. 

If there was a cause he believed in or an injustice he was aware of he was relentless, never ceasing till he found justice. He did not care what others thought of him as he challenged Rabbis, communal leaders and organizations standing up the rights of others, especially those killed in WWII who were no longer here to speak up for themselves.

When he was young, he learned to live in a tough world, it made him tough, 
and he never altered his principles, "Poppy" rest in peace, to this day 
I enjoyed our intelligent conversation...

AJ

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