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So, we hosted the dreaded boys’ sleepover this past weekend and it was one for the record books.  We’d hosted one last year where they were probably in bed by 1 AM.  Evidently, at another house, the parents let the kids stay up until 4Am, so a new benchmark was set.  This time around, the kids all had in their mind that they had to exceed this prior record for sleepovers amongst their peers.  I was unaware of this until about 2AM when they were wired and jumping around with no intention of going to sleep.  Here’s what our night consisted of:

  • Arrive 8PM
  • Play with toys, Legos, Wii and talk until 9:30PM
  • Watched Avengers (with them) on the big screen projector in the basement until midnight
  • Snacks along the way
  • Some more Wii until 12:30 AM, into bed
  • 1:00 AM – lights off
  • 1:30 AM – warnings to go to sleep
  • 2:00 AM – pleading with them to go to sleep
  • 2:30 AM – yelling at them to go to sleep
  • 3:00 AM -final threat that I’m separating them all and they’re not coming back
  • 3:30 AM – finally fell asleep
  • 7:30 AM – our youngest daughter up.  GREAT!

Needless to say, it wasn’t a very productive Sunday.  I still got a job in somehow.  But I’m wondering if this is now par for the course that kids think they’re always going to stay up until all hours when there’s a sleepover.  It pretty much wrecks them for the next day, as well as the parents.  I don’t recall staying up that late when I was a kid.  But now I sound like an old fart myself.

What’s Been Your Experience? 

Boys Ranged in Ages from 7-9.

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After a few years off from weddings once all our highschool and college friends were married, we hit a new spate of weddings this past year with second marriages and our neighbors’ kids getting married.  So, as a dad who will inevitably be attending my own kids’ weddings in the future, I had some random musings on the one we just attended and weddings in general:

  • Who Pays?  This is a point of stress for us, even while our kids are still in elementary school!  We weren’t aware of any financial issues for this particular wedding, but the one before it on my inlaws’ side had some issues.  Evidently, the groom’s parents had initially agreed to kick in some money for the wedding and then when time came to settle up, they had a change of heart.  This is such a sensitive and confusing topic.  On one hand, tradition used to hold that the bride’s parents paid for the wedding.  That seems a bit outdated and one-sided these days, so it isn’t always the case any more.  In the case of my wife and I, we paid for the wedding completely ourselves, but each set of parents gave a nice gift (ON the wedding day) which helped offset our costs.  But we didn’t get into any pre-wedding bickering over finances and who pays.  We now wonder, with 2 sons and 1 daughter, will our sons end up marrying into a family where they expect equal funding from bride and groom, and then when our daughter gets married, it’s expected that by tradition we pay?  We could kind of get the bill on al 3 in a worse case scenario.  Ideally, we’d have our kids handle it the same way we did – kids pay, parents give a generous gift.  But kind of like college, first cars, first home and so many other things these days, kids don’t seem capable of affording things that prior generations did.  Inflation, lack of high paying jobs at graduation, etc.  So, who knows; I’d like to think money will be the furthest thing from everyone’s mind on the special day.

 

  • Religious Ceremony?  Everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs; I just happen to have a rather minority opinion on creationism, religious beliefs, etc.  Let’s just say I’m a scientist and a very objective person.  So, much of what I hear from the pulpit just sounds so implausible, sexist and 17th century to me that it’s tough to take seriously.  So, at this weekend’s wedding, the religious leader of some sort (not sure what he was exactly) was talking (literally, not figuratively) about how woman was borne of Adam’s rib bone and all that good stuff (the original Adam and Eve story) and he closed with her giving him children and helping him be “the man the Lord meant him to be”.  There was no mention of, well, her becoming the woman she could be and to me, it seemed a bit premature to start pushing kids on someone on their wedding day.  Heck, give them some breathing room to enjoy a few years together first!  Anyway, it made me think back to how a Catholic priest said some pretty rude and outrageous stuff on our wedding day and how we then gave me a dirty look when I “only” tipped him $50 because I was pissed.  Personally, I think some of the real preachy and overly religious ceremonies only detract from a wedding celebration and don’t enhance it.  I’ve personally enjoyed the speeches that are more fun and inspirational in nature as opposed to pushing a religious agenda.  What my kids decide will be up to them, but I certainly won’t push for a religious opening of any sort.

 

  • Open Bar – I have to say, the DJ, the food and the drinks make or break a wedding.  In the case of my wife and I, since we were paying and we were young (the first of all our friends and family of our generation to get married), we ended up having open beer/wine, but people had to buy their own mixed drinks.  We had heard all these horror stories from our parents about open bars costing the bride and groom thousands and thousands of dollars at the end of the night.  We thought having alcohol supplied in some manner was a suitable compromise.  I drank beer this whole past wedding (since my wife was sick and agreed to drive – score!) so it made no difference to me; but I did notice most other people were slamming down the mixed drinks.  So, I wonder what sort of impact having free mixed drinks has on the “fun” to be had at a wedding.

What Are Your Thoughts on Weddings, Finances and Ceremonies as a Parent or Parent-to-be?

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Here’s What All The 47% Talk Is About

by MyDadBlog on September 25, 2012

in Criticism

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk in the presidential election cycle about 47% of Americans that don’t pay federal taxes.  Most recently, Republican candidate Romney was secretly recorded where he highlighted this number of Americans that don’t pay federal taxes and that they are likely to vote Democratic and rely on the government.  Without getting into politics directly here, I thought I’d just share some objective facts about what he is referring to, the different taxes people pay in the US and how it might influence your opinion in future tax policy decisions and voting.

  • The 47% – It is true that in recent years, an increasing number of Americans do not have a federal tax liability at the end of the year.  While they may have been paying taxes out of their paycheck throughout the year, come refund time, the deductions and credits afforded to them through the tax code are high enough that they offset any taxes paid and get a full refund.  47% is about half the country; in prior years the number was lower, but the trend is increasing.  There are various reasons for this ranging from higher unemployment to an aging population to recently enacted tax provisions allowing deductions and credits.  The mix of these various factors seems to push the number up each year.  One oft-cited argument against why this is a bit misleading is that Americans pay all sorts of other taxes.  This is true, and for people that don’t have a high income, the share of their income going to these taxes is quite high!  For instance, if you’re making $30,000/yr but paying $10,000 a year in all the other types of taxes below, that’s a full third of your income, whereas a millionaire might only be paying a much smaller portion of their income, even if they spend $50,000 on taxes.
  • Payroll Taxes – This is a fixed tax that comes out of your paycheck and is paid by both the employer and employee.  The payroll tax goes to fund Social Security payments, so in theory, you’re just paying into a system that will pay you back in retirement.  It’s tough to argue that these taxes benefit someone else since it’s supposed to be net neutral and you should get out what you put in based on a calculation on how much you made during your career.
  • State and Local Taxes – Most people end up paying state taxes based on their income and don’t get the same credits and deductions that the federal income system allows.  So, people that make less money end up spending a higher portion of their payroll on state and local taxes.  These taxes pay for everything from local roads to schools.
  • Sales Taxes – State sales taxes are based on your consumption, so again, since people that don’t make as much money still need to buy gas, pay cable bills and other expenses that have a sales tax, they end up spending a higher portion of their income than rich people on taxes.

In all, the main reason fewer people are paying the federal income tax is not necessarily their fault; it’s just the way the tax system is structured and reflects the greater number of people without high paying jobs.  If the jobs situation were to improve and the government peeled back some deductions and credits, that number of Americans paying the federal income tax would increase.

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Are Piano Lessons Worth It?

by MyDadBlog on August 14, 2012

in Music

We’ve been paying for piano lessons for our oldest son for 2 years now.  We’ll probably continue to do so at least through middle school.  By the time he reaches high school, he’ll probably be inundated with sports, hobbies, girls or perhaps take up a new instrument like guitar.  Many people don’t bother with music for their children, and focus solely on sports or scholastics, but there’s plenty of evidence out there that starting to learn music at an early age develops certain regions of the brain that are helpful later in life for spatial recognition and other science/math-related studies.

Aside from potential early development, you also learn about math and most importantly, discipline.  Each week, the piano teacher expects him to have practiced a certain number of pages and master a piece to a certain level, which is akin to homework, writing papers and doing projects that he’ll have to contend with later in his academic career.  I’ve also personally enjoyed doing the lessons with him.  I used to play guitar as a teenager so I have a pretty good grasp of music and was able to pick piano up pretty quickly myself with a couple basic lessons alongside my son when he first started.  Now, somewhat comically, for his recitals, the teacher insists I do a duet with him up on the stage each year.  While I feel kind of goofy, my son really enjoys it and it’s something we do together.

As far as pricing, we end up paying $20 per lesson which is pretty cheap considering my parents used to pay $25 a lesson 20 years ago when I was playing guitar.  I drive him to the teacher and she’s a retired school teacher so I presume she’s doing it cash under the table.  Anyway, not everyone has the same outlet, so for instance, if you’re in the market for chicago piano lessons, there are plenty of options to choose from, but given that it’s a large city, expect to pay a bit more; we’re in a lower cost suburb in PA.  Regardless, in the grand scheme of things, from both a scholastic and discipline standpoint, I think piano lessons are well worth it.  Check out pianolessonsinchicago.com for more details.

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Money Lessons for Kids

May 14, 2012

I’m a firm believer that there’s a strong correlation between the behavior of adults based on the habits and behaviors of their parents during their formative years.  This applies to everything from work either and scholastics to respect for others and interests.  So, why wouldn’t it apply to money?  That being said, I can at […]

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Is Holding Your Child Back a Year for Kindergarten Start a Crime?

March 21, 2012

I was pretty annoyed by a recent 60 minutes “expose” on what they call redshirting, which evidently, refers to starting your child in Kindergarten a year later than they would normally be eligible.  They paint a portrait of these helicopter parents who are altering the flow of the timing of their child’s education to give […]

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Pinewood Derby Design Tips and Tricks

January 16, 2012

This weekend was the annual pinewood derby race with the kids for Adventure Guides.  Lucky me, I have another car to build for my son for cub scouts in the coming weeks since he insists on doing both.  Anyway, this was the third year with Adventure Guides and our cars have been pretty bad in […]

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Teaching Kids Animal Cruelty For Christmas

September 27, 2011

This summer, we finally gave in and let our son get a hermit crab at the shore while on vacation.  Each year, we found some excuse to disallow based on his age, his behavior or otherwise.  This year, he’s grown more mature and responsible and was a great kid during vacation, so we said fine.  […]

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A Scary Bout With Meningitis

August 13, 2011

Our 7 year old was finally released from the hospital today after a bout with viral meningitis.  There are stark differences between the bacterial type and viral one.  Bacterial is more rare but often deadly.  The viral type can be caused by any number of initial viral infections.  So, today when his spinal tap revealed […]

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Summer holiday survival tips

July 29, 2011

Summer is here and the kids are out of school. As a parent, you may be wondering just what you are going to do! Instead of struggling with a loan calculator, trying to figure out just how you are going to pay for the summer holidays and all the activities around you, consider doing some […]

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The real cost of education

July 16, 2011

With college tuition rising every year, it’s a good idea to begin saving for your child’s educational future while he or she is still young. The sooner you begin saving, the less you’ll have to pay out of pocket when the big day arrives and the less debt your child will accumulate by way of […]

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What’s Up with the Fireworks ALWAYS Starting Late?

July 10, 2011

So, we went to two different fireworks shows this year.  One was in our hometown and then this weekend, our friends in another state had us out for their town’s fireworks.  I’m used to fireworks starting late, as nobody can ever seem to get it together, but this year in North Jersey was outrageous.  The […]

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Get your home ready for winter

July 1, 2011

Preparing your home for the winter months is vital if you plan on saving money on energy costs. Before the chill hits, take the time this fall to winterize your house for the snowy season ahead. First of all, keep those gutters clean. Gutters tend to collect debris during the fall, so make sure you […]

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ARE YOU PREPARED FOR RETIREMENT?

June 21, 2011

It is amazing how many people say that retirement crept up on them! One minute you are busy developing a career and raising a family and then the next minute, it seems you are able to retire. Where did the time go and how are you going to cope without a regular paycheck? Now is […]

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THE BEST WAY TO PAY FOR YOUR HOLIDAY

June 3, 2011

The prospect of the annual vacation isn’t always as restful as the break itself, with concerns about saving, budgeting and paying for the holiday that your family wants. The trick, as with everything, is to plan in advance. In the same way that Christmas should be saved for during the preceding year, annual vacations should […]

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Birthdays on a budget

May 16, 2011

Birthdays can be pricey at the best of times, If you’re throwing a child’s birthday party, you don’t want to break the bank, so first, check out the cost of any shopping using a price comparison site such as Moneysupermarket. Deciding on which games are to be at the party is a good place to […]

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5 FRUGAL FAMILY DAYS OUT FOR EASTER

April 13, 2011

After tightening your belt for a frugal Mother’s Day, the last thing you needed was the Easter holidays coming along to relieve you of any money that you may have saved. But that’s exactly what has happened and there’s a giant, egg-bearing bunny on it’s way to empty your wallet. The worse news though is […]

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5 TOP TIPS FOR A FRUGAL MOTHER’S DAY

March 29, 2011

Mother’s Day is almost upon us and unless your kids are of an employable age – or you’ve had them working a paper round since they could walk – then the likelihood is that the present-buying responsibility will fall on your shoulders. And if money is tight this year, as it is for many of […]

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Interview With A Stay-At-Home Dad

March 15, 2011

Traditionally, the man of the household is seen as the wage-earner, or ‘breadwinner’. The woman chooses to stay at home raising the kids and generally keeping the home running. In modern times, a reversal of these roles is common, but how do men really feel when they find themselves doing the ‘woman’s work’? Let’s find […]

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Warning: Our 1yo Got into RX Medication and So Can Yours

March 6, 2011

This isn’t the type of thing a parent normally wants to publicize on the internet, but given the circumstances and how “protected” we thought we were from this type of event, I would be remiss to NOT highlight what happened to us and how it can happen to you too. The other day, my wife […]

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Are Chinese Moms “Superior”? Clearly NOT

January 13, 2011

After reading an article that I wished would just go away, it didn’t, so I figured I’d contribute to the dialogue with my observations and assessments.  First, Amy Chua, a fame-hungry professor pushing a book published her account of why Chinese Moms Are Superior at the Wall Street Journal.  I guess they were going for […]

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Cub Scouts vs. Adventure Guides (We’re Doing Both!?)

December 4, 2010

Last year, I wrote this Adventure Guides review (a huge two thumbs up).  For a few reasons, this year, we’ve opted to sign up our six year old with Cub Scouts as well.  At least in our neck of the woods, the two organizations are noticeably different, both worthwhile though.  We are cautious about overburdening […]

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3 Crazy Things Parents Worry About

September 9, 2010

I recall reading the Freakonomics section outlining the statistically unfounded fear of handguns over swimming pools since the press sensationalizes gunshot deaths much more so than swimming pool deaths, even though the latter is much more prevalent, and thinking about all the other seemingly misplaced worries that parents have.  In today’s news cycle where every […]

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3 Ways We’re Cutting Costs Raising Kids

August 6, 2010

With the economy in the tank and the cost of raising a child to age 18 standing at over $200,000 according the latest government studies, along the way, we’ve been seeking out each and every opportunity to cut costs in a reasonable manner while still enjoying a lifestyle we enjoy. We have two boys and […]

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The Most Memorable Moments with Your Kids – Here are Mine

July 22, 2010

It’s odd how the brain works.  I only tend to recall a select few memories from childhood and they’re not the ones you’d think.  Disney World? No. Hitting my First Home Run?  No.  Oddly, some of them revolve around negative events even though I had an incredibly positive childhood comparatively speaking.  I’ve read that this […]

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Firefly Party for Fun Summer Outing

June 29, 2010

My wife came across some different cool ideas for kids’ summer parties and thought the Firefly theme would be fun.  Since school’s out, she wanted to do something fun for the kids and parents from our Kindergartner’s class.  So, she sent out some invites for a firefly party. Firefly Party Basics Wear Pajamas – This […]

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Report: Suncscreens – Some Work, Some Don’t, Some are Outright Dangerous

June 1, 2010

It’s that time of year again where you’ll need to start lathering up the kids and avoid those nasty sunburns and ward off cancer risk years into the future.  The problem is, you may not be getting what you paid for – and you may actually be harming your children in the process.  While I […]

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Huge Numbers of Students Taking ADHD Drugs to Improve Test Scores – Is that Cheating?

May 3, 2010

I saw an intriguing 60 minutes segment this week outlining the huge numbers of students (and professionals surprisingly) that are wantonly taking ADHD drugs in college for everything from studying and test-taking to pulling all-nighters and writing otherwise boring papers.  I was struck by both the striking proportion of students who admit to this practice […]

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Tricking Your Children into Eating Healthy

April 9, 2010

I’ll be the first to admit that neither I or my children have perfect diets.  We practice “everything in moderation” as opposed to the extreme rigidity of some of our friends where everything has to be 100% organic, absolutely no processed foods, nothing in a box, no additives, no fun stuff like ice cream, etc.  […]

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The Cruel Tricks we Play on Our Children

March 17, 2010

This morning, we played one of the myriad pranks on our children that play out year round until they will eventually figure us out.  For St. Patrick’s Day, we set some Leprechaun traps (see last year’s elaborate Leprechaun Trap) and of course, they failed.  This morning, the kids came downstairs to find all kinds of […]

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Adventure Guides is Just Right for This Dad

March 9, 2010

Since our 5 year old son is our first, he’s our experiment.  We try out all kinds of activities, sports, shows, hobbies and more at least once and if it works, we stick with it.  So far, we’re sticking with piano, T-Ball and soccer.  Not so sure about basketball and some of the other things […]

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Rainy Day? Cool Things for Dads to do to Avoid Boredom

January 24, 2010

When Mom’s out for the day and it’s raining out, boredom can ensue.  Today, the wife took our daughter to a baby shower for the day, so I had the two boys.  Confronted with a lousy forecast and the novelty of new Christmas toys long gone (sad, isn’t it?), I started thinking about some neat […]

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Today’s Kids are Confronted with Rampant Consumerism

January 13, 2010

I’ve been both amused and disturbed when my 5 year old quotes me an infomercial outlining the benefits of the giant cupcake maker, the magic doorsweep or the snuggie.  On one hand, it’s funny what an easy sell he is and how enthusiastic he is about a piece of crap made in China that falls […]

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Napping Nazis – Can we Relax a Little About Nap Time?

January 4, 2010

Is it me or are some parents (usually moms dictate these terms) overly rigid with their kids’ napping schedules?  I don’t mean to knock moms trying to do right by their kids, because I realize that some kids are completely off the wall if they miss their nap for the day or something, but there […]

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A Truly Priceless Gift for Your Child – DIY 1st Year Baby Video

November 27, 2009

With our kids off from school today, my wife put on a movie for the boys (5 and 3), but it wasn’t Disney and it wasn’t the usual cartoon fair.  She put one of the 1-year birthday videos I made for each sons just prior to their first birthday.  Even after seeing it several times, […]

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The Striking Beni Ourain Rug

June 5, 2016

Today, rug collectors prize the beautiful natural rugs so carefully hand crafted by the tribal peoples of Morocco, North Africa. These exquisite Berber rugs have established a new standard for elegant interior floor coverings. The striking Beni Ourain pieces in particular often hold a treasured place within elegant home and office decors. Unique Rugs The Moroccan […]

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April 9, 2013

Whether it’s the growing popularity of ‘Movember’ (the month-long charity moustache growing event) or just a well timed and fashionable return to the 1970s that’s responsible, moustaches are finally trendy again. While upper lip hair was out of the limelight, moustaches gained something of a reputation but hipsters across the world are determined to wipe clean […]

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Turkish delight: Origins of the sofa revealed

April 3, 2013

There’s a line in an episode of The Simpsons where Mr Burns asks: ‘From the mightiest pharaoh to the lowliest peasant, who doesn’t enjoy a good sit?’ It’s funny because it’s true. Everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, enjoys taking a load off now and then. Sitting literally is the […]

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The Fatherhood

March 19, 2013

I thought it would be fitting to share my thoughts on The Fatherhood given this is a dad blog and all!  I couldn’t help but laugh at all the parallels in this video compared to my life as a dad.  The video opens with mum putting the kids in the back seat for dad to […]

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Memorable Activities for the Kids at the Shore

September 9, 2012

This past week we were at the shore on our annual trip and we always like to break up the routine of staying on the beach all day with some memorable activities for the kids. In years past, we’ve gone to the Cape May Zoo, rented family bikes to ride around, went dolphin-seeing on a […]

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Dancing Ain’t Just for Girls – Take it From Me

September 7, 2012

Contrary to popular belief amongst a lot of guys my age, dancing can be quite rewarding and is very much mainstream for boys these days. I would know. My 6 year old is Mr. Hip-Hop around the house. It’s pretty funny; I don’t know where he gets it from, but he’s real into whatever hot […]

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