Oh, The Places I'll Go

Saturday, January 31, 2009

New bars are opening in D.C.! And I like to drink! And... not a single one of them is nearby because I live in a neighborhood full of dog walkers, stroller pushers & elderly folks.

Don't get me wrong, I adore my little neighborhood. But in terms of going out, I'm still living the small-town mindset, frequenting the same two or three bars that are in my comfort zone -- you know, like the one that's two blocks steps from my office or 15 steps from my apartment. And it's not just bars: It's everything. I don't like venturing too far from home, which my bestie Becca will testify to - she lived in the U Street corridor for an entire year, & I NEVER came to see her!

One of my goals for 2009 was/is to be more adventurous in terms of taking advantage of the city I'm lucky enough to be living in. I've already been here a year & a half, and I don't know how long I'll be here - at some point, I plan to head back to the Midwest, & when I do, I don't want to look back on my D.C. time & wish I'd been more exploratory.

So I'm finally putting to paper (to blog?) a list of places to go & things to do that's been building in my brain for quite awhile now. All you DCists -- got any suggestions for me? Here we go:

Food & drink:
  • Ben's Chili Bowl: A D.C. icon with massively long lines every night
  • Ben's Next Door: Soul food at the newly opened joint next door to iconic Ben's Chili Bowl, featuring head chef Rock Harper of "Hell's Kitchen" fame
  • Casa Oaxaca: Every time I pass this little Mexican place I want to drop what I'm doing to try it out.
  • Chi-Cha Lounge: I don't even know what Andean food is, but I think this place has hookah, which I'm very down with.
  • 18th & U Duplex Diner: An American diner-style, which hopefully means waffles!
  • Indique: I've been pretty resistant to trying Indian food thus far but really want to try this place, which I pass every day.
  • Inti: Peruvian! Do I like Peruvian?
  • Jaleo: Spanish tapas
  • La Tasca: More Spanish tapas, which I don't even know if I like
  • Mama Ayesha's: I pass this little Middle Eastern place on the bus all the time, & it just looks really cool.
  • Meskerem: Ethiopian, which I'm prooobbably not going to like
  • Mixtec
  • Oyamel: I hope this place is better than the crap Mexican places I've tried here so far.
  • Pasta Mia: I haven't found a good Italian place in the city yet, although I suppose I haven't looked very hard.
  • Plum Blossom: Because Asian-fusion is my newest fave
  • Tom-Tom: Cute little TexMex place
  • Zaytinya: More tapas - Greek/Mediterranean this time
For fun:
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Where There's Gold, There's a Golddigger

Friday, January 30, 2009

Like many other, including This is Mayjah & @kinsington, I found myself getting a little riled up over yesterday's New York Times article about Dating a Banker Anonymous, a group of Manhattan socialites-turned-regular-folk who get together to sip cocktails, look pretty & whine about the many ways the economic downturn depression has ruined their lush lifestyles.

The "DABA Girls," as they call themselves on their blog, have been both hailed & hated... & I bet you can tell which side of the fence I've fallen on. In at least one way, though, I sort of feel bad for them -- these ladies are "suffering" through an economically-induced lifestyle change that they're totally unprepared for & unaccustomed to, as the rest of are, which is difficult no matter the scale. But the difference between them & us? The biggest difference isn't that they're still practically rolling in money in comparison to the rest of the country; the difference is that they're going through it alone. Clearly these women (who are proud to meet "free from the scrutiny of feminists") pride themselves on the incredible accomplishment of dating/marrying up, affectionately known to the rest of the world as golddigging -- & clearly the economy has caused it to backfire on them. I feel bad for them for being unable to see that "for richer of for poorer" puts just as much emphasis on the latter as it does on the former & that true love knows no economic hardships, even when it means sacrificing $200 dinners. (Yeah, I'm still a little idealistic, so sue me.)

In my frustration, I took it upon myself to visit the DABA Girls' site today, where I left the following comment, which doesn't even address the feminist or golddigging aspect of my annoyance. And while I assure you that I don't typically troll the Web for blogs to flame, this time I just couldn't help it. And I think I made my point in a fairly classy, eloquent way, if I may say so myself (OK, maybe excepting the first & last lines).

I hope no one's paying you ladies for your book -- none of you deserve a dime for your money-grubbing, woe-is-me ways. "I didn't sign up for this"? Neither did the rest of the country, sweetheart, & most of us have been hit a heckuva lot harder than not being able to afford Christian Laboutins or tropical vacations anymore. We're the people who work not just 9-to-5s but 8-to-11s to make ends meet for ourselves & our husbands & our kids. Educated, hard-working people who did more with our lives than just marry up & look pretty.

So while you're drinking cocktails together, do you know what the rest of us are doing? We're skipping meals - whole days of meals - to pay our heating bills. We're moving back in with our parents, or we're moving into our cars. We're selling everything we've ever owned or loved or cherished on eBay & Etsy & Craigslist just to buy a month's worth of groceries for our kids. We're walking miles to work in snow & rain because we can't cough up the cash to put gas in our cars.

And we're not getting New York Times coverage for it. We're not wearing heels or sipping mojitos or getting massages while we do it. We are suffering - REAL suffering - in silence & in seriousness. Enjoy that next martini, ladies, & maybe, just maybe for a second, think about what one single martini could pay for for some of the rest of us out here. And then think about shutting your whiny, prissy, pampered mouths.
How do YOU feel about this story & these women? Do you feel bad for them? Or am I the jerky one for leaving such a comment?

Call me crazy, but this is the one time I'd much prefer single & broke to taken & wealthy.
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It's Tough Being a Vegetarian These Days...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Funniest & most absurd conversation I've heard today (or in many days, for that matter), overheard at the Dupont Circle Firehook Bakery:

Firehook customer: "What kind of soups do you have today?"

Firehook employee: "Chicken & sausage gumbo, chicken basil & roasted butternut squash"

Customer: "Hmm... between chicken sausage gumbo & chicken basil, which one's better? Which should I get?"

Employee: "Well, I think the chicken basil is vegetarian, so if you want meat, go for the other one. It's hearty."

Customer: "Ohh, OK, good call. I definitely want meat. I'll go with the chicken sausage gumbo."
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Cloudy With a Chance of a Snow Day

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Okay, to be fair, it was snowing this morning – now, it’s just drizzling a wintry mix of hail, sleet & other icy miscellany. But there’s snow on the ground – real, honest-to-goodness snow covering the streets & sidewalks & trees & lampposts & subway grates. This is the first legitimate snow I’ve experienced since moving down South nearly a year & a half ago, & boy, is this a much-heralded change in precipitation. And because I hail from the ’burbs of the Buckeye State (where lake-effect snow regularly blows in anywhere from a few inches to a couple of feet of the fluffy stuff), the inch or so the District received today is a little wussy but a lot welcome.

Unfortunately, I've somehow misplaced the Napoleon Dynamite-style black plastic boots I owned in college (who loses boots? and how?), which is probably OK because, as I said, they'd never get much use here. That means, though, that I was today forced to wear my more-than-moderately embarrassing faux Uggs, which no self-respecting woman should feel adult donning. Still, even my humiliating footwear couldn’t dampen my spirits when I took to the outdoors today – everything feels more alive in new snow. It's a new perspective.

And there’s a potential bonus! Because the District is somewhat under-equipped to deal with what little ice & snow it does occasionally receive, word on the street is that office closings are neither unusual nor unexpected in weather like tonight’s. And although I like my job & all, I can’t say I’d be too bummed to spend a random Wednesday working from home in my pajamas & my purple boot slippers.

Rain, rain, don’t go away yet…
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All My Single Ladies

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I found this incredibly depressing D.C. statistic today: "According to recent Census Bureau data, the District has the lowest ratio of single men to single women in the nation." The Washington Post piece I found it from is pretty funny (the transcript of a Q&A session with a D.C. dating guru) but needless to say, this morbid statistic definitely makes me sincerely doubt my mom's already-questionable October claim that DC is the best city in the nation for singles. Perhaps it only referred to single males?

Unfortunately, a Google search for "dating in DC," done solely for the purposes of this blog post & not because I've turned to Google to play matchmaker for me, turns up such awesome single specimens as this guy, formerly the owner of a blog called "DC Bachelor," who Obamicon'd himself with the phrase "Pickup Expert." Yeah, sometimes I'm glad to be flyin' solo.

Yeesh. Maybe I should get a couple of cats or something.

(To be fair, I went on a pseudo-date last night, & it went well. And he's nice. And single. So I shouldn't complain. But, you know, I will anyway. Carry on!)

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"I Won."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Call me childish, but I refuse to take my campaign sign down until this dude does. Damn U-shaped apartment complex - this is what I open my window to every morning.

But like our new President said the other day...
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Hyped on Hope, Part II: My Inauguration Story

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I wasn’t going to go. It wasn’t because I don’t love Barack Obama & Joe Biden because God knows I do -- & so does anyone who’s ever met me or read this blog. But as I mentioned last week, I wasn’t digging the idea of hanging out in Arctic temps with a couple million of my closest friends. Friends who have no idea how to maneuver the District. Friends who stand on the left side of escalators, who are constantly lost & standing in the middle of the sidewalk, who are excited & exhausted & obnoxious all at once.

But on Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to attend the EMILY’s List luncheon courtesy of a colleague who had extra tickets. I sat in a sea of hundreds of feminists, listening to impassioned, pro-choice, Democratic speeches from some of the country’s most powerful women – North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, newly elected Senators Kay Hagan & Jean Shaheen, homeland security secretary designee Janet Napolitano, labor secretary designee Hilda Solis and, finally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And being in a room with such powerful, positive & perseverant women talking about the future of our country – & the incredible changes we faced, two days before Barack Obama’s inauguration – I realized there was no way I could NOT attend Tuesday’s ceremony.

So I stayed with a friend Monday night, slept on her floor in a camping sleeping bag that made me feel a lot like a mummy, & we woke up around 7:30 to bundle up in layers – for me, this meant two pairs of tights (which I reasoned was like wearing one pair of pants) under jeans, with a tank top, a long-sleeved shirt, a hoodie & my Obama tee on top, plus a peacoat. I threw the bare essentials (debit card, keys, cell, Carmex & camera) in my pockets, scarfed a granola bar & headed out into the cold for our 2+ mile walk.

It seemed fine for the first couple of blocks, but as we reached the Farragut area, we found ourselves walking with a steady stream of Mall-goers. Realizing we were flair-free, we scavenged for Obama buttons & assailed the first street vendors we found. And then, miraculously, we were on the Mall, watching the sun rise over the Washington Monument. We snapped some photos, chose a Jumbotron & settled in for the long haul.

To my surprise, I never experienced what my friend Sarah calls “The Moment.” There was no tangible culmination, no big build-up to the moment I was sure was coming after months of support & campaigning & hoping & praying & watching & waiting. There was no floodgate of tears, no uncontrollable sobbing, no apex to the day. But there were millions of people – people as far as I could see both forward & backward – watching history as it occurred. And what I think is most powerful is that normally when people say that, normally when we “witness history,” it’s something negative – it’s watching JFK get shot or seeing the towers fall. The most amazing part, to me, was being present for positive history in the making – for a day in time that undoubtedly changed the course of this country for the better. And if there was never “The Moment,” it’s only because this positive change has been so long coming – because our country is so desperate & disparate that we could not help but trade an eager climax for a sigh of relief.

So, yes. I watched history happen. I was a part of history. Those photos of 1.8 million people crowing the National Mall? I’m there somewhere, in my borrowed Princeton gloves & my ear-flap hat with the turkeys on it, standing between the Washington Monument & the first Jumbtotron. I’m there somewhere, shifting my weight to keep my feet warm & trying to see around the tall guy in front of me, singing “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye” to George W. Bush & trying to start “Yes, we can!” chants. I’m there with my head bowed during Rev. Rick Warren’s only mildly offensive invocation & later, with my head held high as President Obama put his hand on Lincoln’s Bible & took that fumbled oath. I’m there somewhere, with all those people & all that hope – and who needs “The Moment” when the whole day holds so much significance?

PS: Photos are
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Hyped on Hope: Inauguration 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I feel like I've been skiing or sledding all day: windburn & dried out & somehow exhilarated & exhausted at the same time. I'll blog it later, I think, because it's 11:26 now, & my body hates me, & if I don't crash soon, I'm probably going to keel over. In the meantime, though, I've posted a few of my favorite pictures from today, January 20th, 2009, the inauguration day of President Barack Hussein Obama & Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr, a day for the history books. You can find my Flickr stream (or at least what I could upload onto it for free) here, & I'll give you the whole rundown tomorrowish.

Suffice it to say, today was a day I'll not soon forget. What will you tell YOUR grandkids?

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Obamicon'd, for a Change

Monday, January 19, 2009


See you on the Mall tomorrow.
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Had a Bad Day, Takin' One Down

Friday, January 16, 2009

If today had gone any worse, I'd be writing the sequel to my favorite book of all time, "Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." Nothing major happened, but it was one of those days where every little bad occurrence made me say "WTF?" and the sum of them all was one really sheisty Friday.
  • I woke up with the same headache I'd had for 24 hours (& continue to have, FYI). It couldn't hurt worse if someone were punching me directly in the forehead every 20 minutes or so.

  • The heating pipe in my bathroom is SO HOT that the condensation it creates on my ceiling literally turns my bathroom into a rainforest. I can't go in there to brush my teeth without an umbrella.

  • WMATA gave me some waaaay incorrect info that I didn't bother to corroborate, so I took the Metro all the way out to Braddock Road in VA when all I needed to do was hope on over to Mt. Vernon -- I went literally half an hour out of my way as a result of my own poor directional skills.

  • I spent 3.5 hours at the ticket pickup area for my bosses' inauguration tickets only to discover that no tickets were, in fact, available for me to pick up. Everything about this 3.5-hour period was, as you can imagine, fairly absurd.

  • The girl in line in front of at Firehook me bought the last of the butternut squash soup, which was supposed to be my morning-redeeming lunch. Unfortunately, my debit card botched the register system as I tried to purchase tuna salad, so I waited 15 minutes while the manager tried to sort it out.

  • My boss asked me to try again to get his tickets on Sunday. Please refer to earlier post when I said I planned to lock myself in my apartment this weekend to avoid A) all tourists and B) all public transportation. Clearly this is not happening.

  • The Firehook by my apartment was also out of butternut squash soup, which was supposed to be my day-redeeming dinner.

  • I came home to discover that I'd left the window open all day after I'd originally opened it to fix my morning condensation problem. Ahhh, my bad day comes full circle. It's now approximately 25 degrees in my living space.
I guess some days are like this, even in Australia the District. Excuse me while I go drink this case of Yuengling alone.
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Brave New Girl

Thursday, January 15, 2009

1 comment
Good news! Not even 10 minutes after I blogged about fearing inaugural week(end), my boss IMed me to ask if I could do him a favor tomorrow. I joked, "As long as it doesn't require braving the cold."

Alas, tomorrow morning I'll be trekking out to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to pick up a couple extra tickets to inauguration for the bossman. If I get hypothermia along the way, my dying wish will be to ask the paramedics to call him & say, "She told you so."

Inaugural week(end) begins!
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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Inauguration

As Inauguration Day approaches, I've developed an overwhelming sense of paranoia & anxiety. I'm not exactly what you'd call a "people person," at least in terms of large swarms of people. Being in groups that are too large make me feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience, & not in a good way.

"The experts," whomever they may be, have predicted that as many as 4 million people could swarm the District for the day Mr. Obama Goes to Washington. And even though the Secret Service has deemed that estimate a bit high, even a couple million is too many millions for me. I'm heard rumors that cell phone towers will crash & sewers are going to back up, both unprepared for such an influx, so I'm prepared to live like it's Y2K here. I even bought groceries & a jug of water today.

As anxious & nauseated as I am, though, it's exciting to watch the whole city prepare for what I've only half-jokingly been calling "the dawn of a new era." Local bars & restaurants are decked out in full-scale red, white & blue with signs to welcome tourists. It can be assumed that any guy carrying a tux bag is holding an invitation to some swanky inaugural ball. And every 20th word out of everyone in the city's mouth is "inauguration" or "Tuesday" or "Obama" or "ball" or "Oh, my God, I can't believe the Metro is going to be so overburdened that I'll have to actually walk places" or something else equally anticipatory.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still spending all weekend as cooped up as possible - but that doesn't mean it's not very, very cool.


An employee at Yanni's, the Greek taverna nearby, affixes flag-patterned stars to the restaurant door:

A cardboard cutout of our Pres-to-be chills in the lobby of Bubbles, a local hair salon:

And my favorite - the Firehook Bakery down the road displays dozens Obama-iced sugar cookies in anticipation of the Big Day:
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Objects in Mirror are Creepier than they Appear

I think this bumper sticker speaks for itself.

OK, OK, that's not true, because some of you are going to construe this as me being anti-choice, which I am vehemently NOT. What I meant was... this bumper sticker is uber-creepy. This is NOT a face you want emblazoned on your bumper, man of God or not. And actually, come to think of it, I don't know that this is the best way to honor/respect a man of God, anyway. You get in a little fender bender & the Pope's forehead is the first thing to go.
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The Boots with the Fur!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How could I forget to post this photo?! While meandering around Capitol Hill last weekend with Rebecca, my out-of-town visitor from the Big Apple, we spotted this woman prancing around town donning duds that signified Arctic weather conditions.

Oh, I'm sorry, you can't see it? Let me zoom in for you:

I have so many questions. Like: Do you think her friends are embarrassed to be seen out in public with her? Do you think PETA activists keel over dead as she passes them? Do you think those boots shed? How many animals do you think went into the making of this outfit? And where the hell is she a native of? I mean, it was chilly out, sure - but, like, 35-degreesish chilly, not subzero chilly. Whence came this yeti???
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Good Thing I'm Always Late to Work

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leave it to me to sleep through a bomb scare.

When I left my apartment this morning for work, there were people crowded in the lobby & on the street, watching a gaggle of police cars, fire trucks & news crews run around outside our building. Apparently there was a car left out front with its hazards on for quite awhile, & the bomb squad was called in in case it was, you know, a car bomb or something. They even shut down a few blocks & the Cleveland Park Metro station -- Washington Post brief is here.

I'm reminded of the summer I interned in DC, when a red picnic cooler was left outside a nearby embassy. The bomb squad was called in, blocks were cordoned off & much time was spent assessing the situation. When the cooler was finally opened, it contained a few turkey sandwiches & a couple cans of Coca Cola. Somewhere, a tourist family - not to be confused with a terrorist family - was missing their lunchtime snack.

Just another reason I'm glad I'm not an early riser.
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KGB = Krazy Guy Blathering

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Today I had the whatever the opposite of "pleasure" is of riding the escalator in front of a perfectly normal-looking guy who was screaming, over and over, with only a few variations, "The goddamned government is paying into the goddamned welfare system! It's worse than the goddamned KGB! THE KGB, DO YOU HEAR ME???" I don't know if he just wanted the people around him to hear what he was saying (& how could I not, with him hollering right into my ear in an echoing tunnel?) or if he was actually yelling at the KGB, although that one seems a little less likely, I suppose. You never know though, right? The KGB can be tricky.

Now, let's be clear: I don't get scared by wackos too often anymore, having had my life threatened on the redline once (amongst other redline ridiculosity), but this guy was just out of control, and he made me more than a little nervous. I wouldn't use the word "scared," per se -- probably something closer to "annoyed as hell" -- but he was one of the most, um, interesting characters I've happened across in awhile.

Honestly, who yells aboutt he KGB these days?
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Happy Swearing In Day!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Today was what I like to call Swearing In Day (although that might be what other people call it, too, because, you know, it makes sense), when all members of the 111th Congress were sworn in (except for new Minnesota Senator Al Franken, whose victory was just announced yesterday & is unfortunately being contested yet again) (sighhh, give it up, Norm Coleman). Here's a synopsis:


Around 3:00 p.m., my coworkers (slash friends!) & I made our way to Capitol Hill, where parties galore were a'happenin' all about town in celebration of the opening of the start of the new Congress. Funny - most of the country, I think, doesn't even know it did; until I started working in the District, I had no idea it would have been celebration-worthy.

We hung out for a presentation of Jewish members. My favorite by far, was when Rep. Nita Lowey of New York called her friend, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, back up to the podium to joke with him about why she wouldn't vie for Hillary Clinton's Senatorial spot. After much back & forth, she hugged him & laughed, "This is the Nita & Ben Show!" Who knew politicians could be so darn cute & funny?

And at the end of the day as we exited Rayburn, I caught a great view of the Capitol Building, glowing slightly greenish in the rainy haze at twilight. My friend Ben once said, "I'll know I'm jaded when I walk by the Capitol and don't feel anything anymore. Until then, I get excited every time."

And that, my friends, says it all.
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A Postcard to the President-elect

Sunday, January 4, 2009

1 comment
While I appreciate BET's efforts on this one -- & while I certainly share their enthusiasm for Barack Obama's upcoming transition into the White House -- I somehow doubt our President-elect will be standing at my Cleveland Park busstop anytime soon. Perhaps the messaging on this one is a little much?

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Freaky Friday: The Flasher & the Fighter

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tonight I experienced a double-whammy of city livin'. While trying to convince a cranky security guard to let me into a locked building to deposit my (late) rent check, a man with very, very few teeth sidled up & yelled, "Me, too! I got rent!" The security guard ignored him, focusing on me & my fast-emerging teardrops, until he turned back to the man in shock & yelled, "Sir! ZIP UP YOUR FLY!" Against my better judgment, I did the unthinkable - I looked down. The man quickly followed the security guard's instructions & hurried away, but you get the picture -- I know I haven't been getting any action lately, but that was certainly not a welcome view.

Don't worry. The security guard dropped off my rent for me.

And after that, I headed into the Van Ness Metro station to make my way home for a fun-filled night of movie-watching. As I attempted to hustle past a group of people -- excuse me: of ESCALEFTERS -- to hurry into the station, one of the girls blocking my way passively refused to move, saying brusquely, "Read our sign!" Hers read "STOP THE MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS." I gave the sign a sideways glance, knowing full well that she was one of the "peace" protesters who'd just come from the hundreds-deep rally outside the Israeli Embassy. And as I tried to scoot past them & their signs in silence, she yelled something to the effect of, "Doesn't that mean anything to you? Are you just like every other American?" I slid past without saying a word.

Needless to say, by night's end I felt pretty violated on more than one level.
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