Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

…Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, but he cannot see a thing face down between the rails…

Alive-001

Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, signs of the slave revolution he had himself worked endlessly to create. But he cannot see a thing face down between the rails, thanking his glorious God for divine deliverance from decapitating disaster.Locomotive      

“He lives! Sweet Mary, Mother of God. Jacob is alive!” the Bleakers cannot contain their cartwheeling joy.

Cheers and tears erupt together. Adversity makes for strong glue.

“What’s all the commotion?” asks the blacksmith, who has been toting Grandma Lettie for three miles now, unaware of the theatrical crossing of the Little River. “Did you beat the train?” What a loaded question that is. Almost, he is told.

Hugging and such stops with one more reason to rejoice,  Lettie Golden has made the crossing, alive no less. ‘But what of Jacques Francoise?’ they ask the smithy.

He heard the hounds out of Sumter and he is leading them a merry chase. Right now I believe he is headed downstream, maybe wetting a line for some trout he calls, “Big Bertha”.

Fort Sumter3-001“Oh and the refreshment lady at mile 3 probably made it to the house up the tracks before the dogs came out, says she’ll get the juicy story at the next meeting.”

A recovering Jacob Haley assesses their status while he listens out of the other ear. It is another mile and a half to State Road 268 and does not want a lucky guess by Jefferson Smythwick interfering with this covert coup. Freedom seems assured. Secrecy must follow.

“Poor Mrs. Ferrell is waiting at mile five, wondering in God’s name what happening. For all she knows, we aren’t going to show, seeing we are nearly an hour behind schedule. She is eager and the doubt will eat her alive.”

Bleaker Brothers-001“We will run ahead and give her the good news!” offer the ever energetic Bleakers, never more than a heartbeat apart.

“She will be thrilled with our triumphs!” Jacob guesses, forgetting that she had recruited husband John. His freight truck will transport the group and their family home will shelter the Campbell family until things settle down in Gadsden County.

“We’d better get going folks. An eastbound freight train is due near dawn and we need to finish up before light.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #47


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Big Better Building Part II – WIF Engineering Feats

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Incredible Modern

Engineering Achievements

Humanity likes nothing more than building insanely large and complicated structures, except maybe reading about large and complicated structures built by other people. Today, we’re going to do the latter. While the ancient people had some amazing engineering achievements, we’ve all seen an article or six about the pyramids and the Great Wall of China. As such, let’s focus on the amazing achievements of relatively modern engineering, such as…

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #31

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #31

… James Ferrell would rather study schoolwork than dance with adolescent debutantes who ‘have all the sense that God gave the Dodo bird’, as he puts it…

Silly Girls

By the grace of God, and a little luck, August 21 does arrive as scheduled.

The entire day is dedicated to preparing for the Cotillion, which includes the making of Grandma Ferrell’s special punch, whose secret ingredient is rumored to be the state of Georgia’s best XXX hoochinoo. The thirty gallon stainless steel milk can mixture should go a long way to assure a good time will be had by all, should they sample even one innocent glassful.

Juicing the fresh Florida oranges, peaches and grapefruit was the hardest part of the process, but that was done two fermenting months ago. The carbonated ginger ale and phos-ferrates are added just this day, as volume fillers; so sweet and so lethal.

Primping occupies the remaining three hours, most importantly to the females. However, the annual struggle with James Ferrell to get in the proper spirit, disappoints all in the family, though shocking none. He is actually a girl magnet, which may explain his reticence, because he would rather study for the upcoming school year than dance than dance with adolescent debutantes who ‘have all the sense that God gave the Dodo bird’, as he puts it.

This year, his 16th, resistance to his suit of clothes seems curiously mild, not the chest thumping bravado that may disguise changes that show signs of his coming of age.

  Martha Ferrell reminds her son but once. “Miracles never cease to amaze,” she tells Agnes, who is clinching the corset that shrinks the woman’s waist by two full inches.

Abigail Smythwick is going to be there.” Agnes knows the reason for her brother’s sudden cooperation. She is the daughter of Jefferson Smythwick, born in her father’s sixth decade to the silence of her mother’s dying heart (during childbirth).


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #31


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #30

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #30

… Princess  Olla holds up the Paris creation against her body, not about to let on that she herself has spent time wearing it…

Cotillion dress

That same Friday night, in the less contentious environs of Tallahassee, society’s’ finest prepare for tomorrow and the anticipated Summer Cotillion. It unofficially marks the average annual easing of the “lazy days”, as the sun mercifully starts to drop from its zenith overhead. Shadows begin to lengthen and the dogs come out from under their back porches.

Martha Ferrell prepares for the event by unpacking her favorite gown, first checking for damage from last year’s gala, i.e. footprints on the hem from ballroom challenged partners, or traces of champagne and hors d’oeuvre or third most likely culprit, moth-eaten holes. Lastly, and most important of all, the issue of whether her almost five gallons fits into this three gallon (satin) container.

“What do you think, Agnes?” She does an awkward pirouette in the dress, tailored for her six years ago; a present honoring her fortieth year.

“Maybe we could let out the sleeves some. It looks tight above the elbows.”

“Yes I think you are right.” She confirms the mirror’s reflecting truth, without vain regret.

Agnes is wearing a gown that her mother wore the year before she was born. She has matured at an scary rate, nearly… no definitely surpassing mom’s womanhood; filling in the spaces and providing the kind of cleavage that may well cause the hormone levels of men aged twelve to infinity to rise measurably.

“My, haven’t you blossomed, my dear. Girls are developing faster every year, it seems,” Martha concludes correctly.

Two generations of “real” women are joined by an admirer of both.

“Why Nessie, I remember your mamma when she wore that dress, her first Cotillion I reckon. So beautiful and so graceful,” He muses, then reconsidering, “But you better wait some years before you become a mother. If you weren’t my daughter, I would guess you for a twenty year old college girl.  You are saving yourself, aren’t you?”

“Oh, Daddy,” Agnes (Nessie) blushes, which rhyme with messy, a nickname, as well as her bedroom comportment, “of course I am. You don’t allow me to have suitors!”

Cotillion dress“All right, point well stated.” She is behind many of her peers and he knows it. “It’s just that you look so grown up.” John turns his attention to his wife. “And as for you my dearest, forget about altering your dress.” He peeks around the corner, into the hall to motion to Olla. “I think this one will assure of being belle of the ball.”

  Olla displays the Paris creation, this time merely holding it up against her body, not about to let it be known that it was her own very skin which spent time as Martha’s surrogate mannequin.

The new owner rushes to it, stroking the rose colored satin, admiring the Parisian lace and trying not to shed tears of joy.

The incredible irony of the moment is lost on the ignorant.

  • “Oh mother, you must try it on straight away,” encourages Agnes.
  •  Before she obliges, Martha turns to say, “John Ferrell, life with you is one big surprise.”
  •  John Ferrell is telling himself, ‘Wheeewww, I’m sure glad she will never know the truth’.
  •  Princess Olla/Laura Bell mutters, “Surprises ain’t always good ones, Miss Martha,” under her breath.

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #30


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #29

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #29

…The action we are contemplating could go a long way to eliminating the need for vigilante raids, in the name of freedom…

Rescue-001

Pres. Jacob Haley of the GCASS group ends the social section of their meeting, gavel-less style.

“However, the Pensacola & East Railroad cuts through the backside of the plantation. It also crosses State Road 268 and there will be a full moon the night of 5 October. These are real positives.

          “And negatives? One of us must infiltrate Sumter the day before, the 4th, to prepare the old lady and the children, for the five mile escape route.

 “And there will be one of us stationed at each of the three mile of track, until road 268, where a LOVE  ICE truck will take it from there, for the final leg to Quincy. We figure no one will suspect an ice truck.” Smythwick has been known to line the pockets of certain unnamed constabulary, enabling to keep his “employees” on the property.

But the early hours of the daily ice run should mask its surreptitious companion purpose.

So far, Haley has dominated the meeting, doing much of the research on their possible mission, mainly because he is the lone black in the raid contingent. He is the most likely candidate to take on the highest risk.

Every mission seems to spotlight a different leader. Herbert Love planted the seed this time, the inspirational forerunner. In the past, other ventures have been precipitated by those most greatly been affected by witnessed injustices. There are many of these in the course of living in a segregated environment.

“Jacob has done a great job with the plan, even to the point of volunteering to go undercover. So I would like to propose that we accept it as presented. A show of hands please… unanimous? Good. We have 45 days to hand out assignments. There is a sign-up sheet at the end of the table for those who want to be part of the action.

“And remember, as always, we are not to discuss this or any other rescue with anyone, period.” Love exhorts the room.

Jacob Haley has one closing thought, “The action we are contemplating could go a long way to eliminating the need for vigilante raids, in the name of freedom. We are acting above the law, but Jefferson Smythwick’s influence will be severely damaged if he loses his best people.”

Quincy Reporter-001The publisher of The Quincy Reporter, Harv Pearson will see to it that Smythwick will not become a sympathetic figure, only pathetic. “You can be sure that my paper will make the Campbell escape the headline story. And every paper in the Panhandle and north will get the story as well. We will refresh the slave issue, make it the topic of the day from Texas to Maryland, the Texas Rangers to Grover Cleveland.

“Let’s put an end to neo-slavery for good!”

‘Yes!’, ‘Amen!’, ‘You bet!’, ‘Slavers be damned!’, are among the shouts of acclamation, robust reaction to Pearson’s inspiring impromptu speech.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #29


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Engineering HOF – WIF Into History

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History’s Greatest

Engineering Achievements

The history of civilization is replete with examples of humanity improving the world in which it lives. Through ingenuity, imagination, and hard work, humanity has spanned rivers, built roads, erected cities, and created the infrastructure to connect them. Some projects took centuries to complete; others were finished with alacrity, driven by immediate needs. Many were treated with derision by contemporaries who considered the vision of their proponents’ to be delusional. Some — the Panama Canal being one example of many — were completed only after a spectacular and expensive failure during earlier attempts. Still others were spurred by the competition between nations and empires

Spectacular feats of engineering preceded the term engineer. The master builders and visionaries evolved over the centuries from mathematicians (spontaneously, it would seem) across the globe. The Great Wall in China, the pyramids of the Maya and Aztec cultures, the cities of the ancient world all were accomplished by engineering, though the builders and designers were unaware that they were engineers. Over the centuries, engineering accomplishments were directed at the worship of gods and heroes, the improvement of societal life, and to simply celebrate the spirit of humanity. Here are 10 of the greatest engineering achievements in history.

10. The Roman Water Distribution System

Three centuries before the beginning of the Common Era the Roman Republic, later the Empire, distributed water throughout its dominions using a system of canals, pipes, reservoirs, standing tanks, and aqueducts. Entirely through the use of gravity the Romans distributed fresh water to cities and towns, as well as to mines and farms. Some of the aqueducts still stand, architectural marvels built by laborers under the supervision of surveyors and master builders. By the end of the third century the city of Rome was serviced by eleven separate water conduits distributing water throughout the city, and in the case of the wealthier citizens directly into their homes. Poorer residents resorted to public wells and baths.

The empire was serviced with water systems as well, operated by both local governments and the state. Natural springs were the preferred sources of water. Easements were established by law on either side of the conduit’s pathway. The waterways were liberally supplied with inspection points – which would today be called manholes – and the water was routinely inspected for purity. Lead pipes were used in some sections, though the use of ceramic piping was preferred, and sections of the aqueducts which were of concrete were lined with brick, to prevent erosion and to help filter the water. The system was so well designed and built that there are sections still in use for the distribution of fresh water nearly 20 centuries after they were built.

9. The Cathedral of Hagia Sophia

Built as a Christian church and later converted to an Islamic mosque, the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia is today a museum, and an iconic image of Turkey. Originally constructed in the sixth century it has survived rioting, looting by conquerors, earthquakes, fires, and the ravages of time. Built chiefly of masonry, it is easily recognized by its corner minarets and its massive dome. Built and rebuilt many times over the years, it remains a symbol of Byzantine architecture, and for over 1,000 years Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world. Its design was revolutionary in its day.

The huge dome is set upon a square base, supported by four triangle shaped pendentives in the square’s corners. The pendentives carry the weight of the dome and direct it downwards, rather than outwards as the shape of the dome would otherwise dictate. Though the dome collapsed on more than one occasion, and was modified during rebuilding to include ribs which help distribute its weight to the supporting walls, each rebuilding strengthened it and improved the overall structure of the building. Hagia Sophia is a museum of both the Christian and Islamic faiths, as well as the Byzantine Empire and the Crusades. It remains one of the largest masonry buildings in the world in the 21st century.

8. The Leshan Buddha

Carved from a single stone and completed in the early ninth century, the Great Buddha of Leshan stands over 230 feet tall, with a breadth across the shoulders of 92 feet. It is the tallest statue of Buddha to be found in the world, carved from the sandstone of a cliff overlooking the junction of the Min and Dadu Rivers in Sichuan. Ordinarily sandstone would be easily eroded by the rainwater which has fallen on the statue over the centuries. That it hasn’t is a tribute to the ingenious engineering which controls the flow of water through and behind the statue, which has served to protect it since its completion circa 803 CE.

The Leshan Buddha includes over 1,000 coiled hair buns, of stone, which are placed on the statue’s head. They were designed to collect rainwater, and to route it to a system of drains and drainpipes which allow the water to flow through the statue’s head and arms, draining out the back, behind the stone clothes and away from the statue, protecting it from the effects of erosion. The system was installed as part of the original carving. Originally protected by a wooden shelter which was destroyed by the Mongols, the statue has stood exposed to the elements for seven centuries, with its drainage system protecting it from erosion. Today the greatest threat to the statue is the heavily polluted air of the region, a factor its designers could not have anticipated.

7. The Erie Canal

Between the Hudson River and Lake Erie land elevation increases by about 600 feet. Canal locks of the day (1800) could raise or lower boats about 12 feet, which meant that at least 50 locks would be required to build a canal which linked the Hudson with the Great Lakes. President Thomas Jefferson called the project “…little short of madness.” New York’s governor, Dewitt Clinton, disagreed and supported the project, which led to its detractors calling the canal “Dewitt’s Ditch” and other, less mild pejoratives. Clinton pursued the project fervently, overseeing the creation of a 360 mile long waterway across upstate New York, which linked the upper Midwest to New York City. The cities of Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio, thrived once the canal was completed, in 1825.

The engineering demands of the canal included the removal of earth using animal power, water power (using aqueducts to redirect water flow), and gunpowder to blast through limestone. None of the canal’s planners and builders were professional engineers, instead they were mathematics instructors, judges, and amateur surveyors who learned as they went. Labor was provided by increased immigration, mostly from Ireland and the German provinces. When it was completed in 1825 the canal was considered an engineering masterpiece, one of the longest canals in the world. The Erie Canal’s heyday was relatively short, due to the development of the railroads, but it led to the growth of the port of New York, and spurred the building of competing canals in other Eastern states.

6. The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge was originally envisioned by John Roebling, who had built suspension bridges of shorter spans across the Ohio River and at other locations. The project in Brooklyn and Manhattan led to an accident which cost Roebling his life, and the engineering challenges passed to his son, Washington Roebling. Washington was stricken with the bends early in the construction, and was forced to supervise the project from his Manhattan apartment. The engineering challenges were difficult; wooden caissons were sunk to the bottom of the East River, with men inside them to excavate the river bottom until the caissons reached bedrock. In the case of the east tower supporting the bridge, they never did. The tower rests on sand to this day.

It took 14 years to complete the project, from 1869 -1883. Often described as a suspension bridge, the structure is in reality a hybrid suspension/cable stayed bridge, with the load of the span transferred by wire cables to the towers, and thence to the bedrock on the Brooklyn side, and the sand over the bedrock on the Manhattan side. In the 21st century it carries six lanes of traffic as well as bicycles and pedestrians, though it no longer accommodates rail traffic, nor commercial vehicles. It was considered the engineering masterpiece of the world at the time of its completion, spanning nearly six thousand feet, and linking the formerly separate cities of Brooklyn and New York.

5. The Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel built the iconic symbol of Paris – indeed of all of France – to serve as the gateway to the 1889 World’s Fair. Contrary to popular belief, Eiffel did not design the tower, instead purchasing the patent rights to the design from engineers within his employ. He then signed a contract for the construction of the tower acting as himself, rather than as his company, and later set up another company to handle the management of the tower and the income derived from it. The design of the tower was controversial from the outset, with artists and engineers complaining of its lack of aesthetic value. It was said that French writer Guy de Maupassant ate at the restaurant in the tower after its completion because it was the only place in Paris from which the tower could not be seen.

The ironwork was delivered to the site with holes for connecting bolts pre-drilled, and as they were installed the tower was brought into proper alignment through the use of hydraulic jacks installed near the four feet of the structure. Creeper cranes climbed the legs of the tower to erect each succeeding level. The tower was declared complete in March 1889, at the time the tallest man-made structure in the world. It reached the height of 1,063 feet and remains the tallest structure in Paris. The tower was to have been dismantled in 1909, under the terms of the original contract, but its usefulness as a radio transmitter gained it a longer lease on life. By the end of the twentieth century the idea of dismantling the tower was unthinkable.

4. The Panama Canal

The 51-mile long cut across the Isthmus of Panama was a dream for many decades prior to the French beginning its construction in 1881. During the building of America’s Transcontinental Railroad, equipment for use in the Sierras was shipped from the east coast of the United States to Panama, transferred across the Isthmus, and then shipped to California. Engineers for years studied the building of a canal before the French attempted to complete one, but the engineering difficulties combined with the climate and politics to thwart their efforts after more than two decades. The United States stepped in where the French failed, and completed the canal in 1914, after another ten years of work.

The canal is actually two canals, connected on either end with an artificial lake, Lake Gatun, located 85 feet above sea level. Locks on the two canals raise or lower ships to or from the level of the lake, allowing them to traverse from Atlantic to Pacific, or vice versa. The canal allows ships to transfer from one ocean to the other in just under twelve hours. It was the engineering decision to abandon the sea level canal design favored by the French and instead create Lake Gatun through the building of Gatun Dam (then the largest dam in the world) and install locks to raise and lower ships which allowed the Americans to succeed in completing the dam, which changed shipping lanes and inter-ocean traffic forever.

3. The Channel Tunnel

For centuries the British Isles remained unconnected to the European continent, a situation which many Britons favored as critical to their national security. Numerous proposals for a tunnel beneath the channel were put forth, but opposition within England and France prevented any serious efforts. Attempts to build tunnels for automobile traffic were started and stopped in the mid-to-late 20th century. Finally, in the late 1980s, after the usual political and professional maneuvering among governments, businesses, and financiers, work on the tunnels for high speed rail trains got underway, already bearing the nickname by which it is best known today, the Chunnel.

The tunnel was built from both sides, using massive tunnel boring machines – TBMS – to approach each other. The machines bore through what is mostly chalk, though the varying geology of the French shore created some difficulties. Both the French and English used the removed spoil for land reclamation projects. The tunnels were lined with both cast iron and reinforced concrete. When completed, the tunnel provided electrical power to the trains running through it via overhead lines. The tunnel opened in 1994, and today allows for a trip from London to Paris in just over two hours. The tunnel also allows for freight traffic delivering goods manufactured throughout Europe to be imported to Britain, and British goods to find markets on the continent.

2. Burj Khalifa

The world’s tallest structure as of 2019, Burj Khalifa is a mixed use skyscraper in Dubai, which was completed in 2009. The building was designed by the same Chicago firm which designed the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in that city, and uses the same engineering principle of bundled tubes at its core to support the building’s weight. The tubular design allowed for substantially less steel to be used in construction, with most of the building being reinforced concrete. Its spire alone, which is mostly decorative, would qualify it as the 11th tallest structure in Europe were it erected on the continent.

The building has an outdoor swimming pool located on the 76th floor, with another on the 43rd floor. A 300 room hotel is located within the building, as well as corporate offices and private apartments. For those of a hardy constitution, 2,909 steps connect the ground floor with the 160th. The observation deck is located on the 124th floor. The surrounding park, known as Burj Khalifa Park, is landscaped with desert plants which are kept hydrated using water collected by the building’s cooling system, which itself relies on the cooler air of the upper portion of the building to decrease the temperatures of the lower portion of the structure.

1. The Apollo Space Program

It remains one of the signature engineering achievements in the history of the human race. No other program has delivered human beings to an environment other than their home planet and returned them safely to earth. Americans not only walked on the surface of the moon, they drove on it, using a battery driven vehicle designed for the purpose, capable of carrying two astronauts and greatly increasing the area which the lunar explorers could cover. It was carried to the moon within the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) and used for the final three moon missions in the early 1970s. In 2003, the National Academy of Engineers called the program the “…greatest engineering team effort in American history.”

The Apollo program led to significant advances in the development of integrated circuitry, contributed to the growing cause of environmentalism, and over 20% of the world’s population watched on television when astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first human footprints on the lunar surface. NASA claimed spin-offs from the space program in the areas of freeze-dried foods, emergency reflective blankets, hand-held portable vacuum cleaners, and more than 2,000 other areas. LASIK surgery is a direct descendant of the technology developed to dock with vehicles in space, first performed as part of the Gemini program, in which astronauts learned the techniques required of Apollo.


Engineering HOF –

WIF Into History

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #25

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #25

…The Campbell family are victims of a cruel anomaly; for all intents and purposes, they are still slaves…

The opposite is true for Northern blacks, as well as some in the South, where their freedom is more of a paper reality. True equality with the white majority may be more than a century away.

One interested outside observer of this world that seems heartlessly frozen in time, is Herbert Love, a dairy owner among other things, who has never kept slaves, even when it was legal. Anyone will tell you that he is the antithesis of Jefferson Smythwick. He is as sympathetic and benevolent, as the old slaver is callous and maniacal.

But because of his non-confrontational nature, Love has left his philosophical rival alone…

…Until now.

   Unbeknownst to Smythwick, the lord of Fort Sumter South, the overseer in chargeLove Dairies2-001 of the Campbell’s has been allowing Willy to pick up some rare wrapping leaves from Cuba at nearby Midway’s rail docks. On some of those days, young Alfrey comes with his father. Seven year olds have limited functional use on a plantation, so he is not missed. These missions do not go unnoticed by others… specifically Herbert Love.

His milk and milk byproducts are emerging as a marketable commodity, with the aid of the ice produced in his ice plant. Milk must be kept at 38 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure freshness, a feat heretofore not seriously attempted in this arid climate. It is his habit to make sure his 20 gallon cans of white nectar are properly transferred to his very own, specially designed railroad cars. When it is a humid 90 degrees outside, his methods of refrigeration are critical.

It is here at the train station, that the Quincy businessman and newly elected mayor, meets and gets to know Willy and Alfrey (Campbell), on their only common ground. He has told his wife, who has bore him no children, as well as many of his friends, that he would like to deliver Willy and his house to true freedom.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Opposites (the worm should not be smiling)

Episode #25


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