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My kid taught me something yesterday. Determination trumps it all.

Chris Nationals 2008 005From the time he was 8 years old, my son Chris had been pursing a dream to be a professional athlete and play in the NHL and he put everything he had into it.  His dream took him places with leadership roles on teams in the WSHL, the BCHL, and the EJHL.  By the age of 20, he had competed in 5 USA Hockey Junior National Championship Tournaments and was talking to colleges about next steps. Then, at the end of 2009, something was not right.  He lost 75 lbs in three months (not a good thing for someone with hardly any body fat to begin with) and landed in the hospital.   The doctors diagnosed him with Crohn’s Disease and told him to take it easy and give himself a chance to recover.

He recovered alright, but he did not take it easy.  He was determined to succeed.  He hit the gym and the ice.  By spring of 2010 he was back.  In prime condition, he had his first a minor league pro try out.  He blew  the scouts and the coaches away.  But not the front office.  To them a player with Crohn’s was too much of a business risk. “Yes, there are NHL players  who have successfully played the game after getting the disease,” he was told, “but they were not going to sign one on as a rookie.”

Not long after that, he made a decision. As a certified personal trainer, he had helped others for several years.  He would focus on that as a business and find a sport that would allow him to use his skills and talents to succeed and reach his goals while completing his college education in Criminal Justice at the University of Phoenix.    Not willing to set his pro sport dreams aside, he shifted his focus to a new competitive sport.  Cross Fit.  He began to train and learn everything he needed to learn about this new sport.  On January 15th he entered his first Cross Fit Competition, The Hammer of AZ in the Achilles event. Take a look.

 

Less than one year after being told that his Crohn’s Disease made him too much of a business risk for professional hockey–Chris enters his first Cross Fit Competition and places 12th in the Achilles Competition at The Hammer of AZ. The event involved running 400 meters and then lifting 135 pounds as many times as you can in a total of 4 minutes. Then repeat the process three more times.

Video at YouTube.com – Chris at Cross Fit – The Hammer of AZ

The Next Goal

Now it’s back to business and training.  He’s determined to succeed, compete., and win.

He’ll get there.  He’s determined.

And his Dad, brother and I will be there to cheer him on to victory again.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story. Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

Note:  The sport of cross fit is catching on with people  of all ages.  Not everyone needs to be an “Achilles”.  You might enjoy learning more in this video.

 

A short video on the sport of Cross Fit

YouTube.com: What Is Cross Fit? Full video by CrossFit by Overload

One of my favorite books for graduation day or any day is the classic poem from
Dr. Seuss – Oh, the places you’ll go.

It starts like this:Product Details

Congratulations!
Today is your day,
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

This Thursday my youngest son, Nicholas graduates from Desert Vista High School. That day is his day!

But, as I look forward, he’ll have many days.  He’s smart and he’s funny. He’s kind and he makes a great friend.  The choices he’ll make will be good ones –  at least a mother can hope. 🙂

Graduation’s are bitter sweet – for Mom and Dad – the days of nagging about homework and setting week night curfews are over.

For the Graduate – it’s a day of celebration – and perhaps some trepidation too.  Never again will life be so ordered or structured – as much as our kids may complain – there is a safety in the structure of our school days that once it is gone does not come back again.

Our kids have so many choices today. They have many challenges too.  As parents we can set boundaries and examples, but eventually the ultimate choices are theirs.

Success – however we define it, or they do, comes from trial and error and a bit of luck.  As adults we’ve learned those lessons.  And as graduates, so will they.

But at the end of the day, just as at the end of the classic poem, a positive outlook and attitude makes all the difference.  So, to again quote Dr. Seuss…

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed!)
KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Alenn O’Shea
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!

Nick and Beau 2006 MrThunder1 nick and girls Chris and Nick Clowning Around Nick and Dad Nick Walker-2009

We’re Proud of you Nicholas!

Congratulations on your High School Graduation

Love, Mom

The full text of Oh, the places you’ll go is available on line.  Buy it here on Amazon – it’s a great map for whatever direction you choose to go.

I can’t take credit for the list below.  It’s from one of those emails that people who care about you send to bring you a smile.

This one came from my Mother-in-Law, Sandy Walker, by way of my sister-in-law, Tracy Gorecki. 

When you first become a mother – it’s exciting and new – but the real impact is when you look at it years later as your children are growing and then are grown…when they marry and have their children of their own, and so on, and so on.

My Mom, Betsy,  and Chris’s Mom, Sandy, both got married in August of 1959 AND both of them went on to raise five kids.

This summer, both families had 50th  anniversary parties – just look at what these two Mom’s started…

Sandy Walker started this… with a bit of help from George.

walkers

Betsy Koerber started this …with a bit of help from Richard.

koerbers 2009

Now on to The List.  According to the email it came from the mouths of second grade school children.  Here’s what they had to say about their Moms…

Why did God make mothers?

  1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
  2. Mostly to clean the house.
  3. To help us out when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

  1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
  2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
  3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts

What ingredients are mothers made of?

  1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
  2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think. 

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

  1. We’re related. 
  2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?

  1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff. 
  2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy. 
  3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

  1. His last name. 
  2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer? 
  3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores. 

Why did your mom marry your dad?

  1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot. 
  2. She got too old to do anything else with him. 
  3. My grandma says that Mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

Who’s the boss at your house?

  1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goof ball. 
  2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed. 
  3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What’s the difference between moms & dads?

  1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work. 
  2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them. 
  3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend’s. 
  4. Moms have magic; they make you feel better without medicine. 

What does your mom do in her spare time? 

  1. Mothers don’t do spare time. 
  2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long. 

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

  1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery. 
  2. Diet. You know her hair. I’d diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be? 

  1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that. 
  2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me. 
  3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

So are you laughing?

To my Moms (Betsy and Sandy) and to Moms everywhere – thanks for what you do and for making the biggest impact of all.

Thanks for stopping by for a Little Life Story.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

j0422849Thanksgiving Day is almost here, and already our home is filled with the scents of Thanksgiving. 

We are surrounded by the traditional scents that come to mind, homemade breads baking in the oven,  pumpkin and apple pies cooling on the counter, and on the big day – the scent of a huge turkey roasting to perfection.  

But, not discounting the insatiable appetites of my house full of men, Thanksgiving is about more than just food.  You can learn more about the history of Thanksgiving here courtesy of History.com.

Thanksgiving is the day we thank our creator, our family, and our friends for the life that we have and the gifts we have received.  It’s about giving thanks to those that have helped us, have shared with us, and have worked with us throughout the year.

That first Thanksgiving, as the legend goes, was a day of giving thanks  by the Pilgrims for not only the harvest but also each other and to the Native Americans who had helped them survive through harsh and dangerous times.  It was a time of celebrating what they have, not bemoaning what they did not.  It was a celebration of plenty in conditions that many of us today would never see as cause for celebration.  Yet celebrate they did and gave thanks for their faith, their  friends, and their neighbors showing appreciation to the people who had labored beside them and sharing in the the fruits of their labors.

The year 2009 will not go down in the record books for many as a year of plenty.  Many can point to things that went wrong from the financial system failures, to job losses, home losses, Federal deficits, healthcare battles, and other challenges that this year has brought.  But perhaps, for just one day, we can put those things aside and focus on the wonderful things, the gifts we have received, and the people we have worked with to help make our world better and who have helped us to survive a challenging year. 

Here’s my list.  I already know it is incomplete – but at least it’s a start… I’m thankful

  • for my husband Chris – he loves me when I am at my most unlovable, believes in me always, celebrates my triumphs, dries my tears,  and shares a life that we have worked together to build.  After all, what would life be without someone special to share it with?
  • for my sons  – they always make me proud of the the men they have become (even though I still nag them for leaving their stuff around the house and other little things. After all,  I’m their Mom – I’m entitled!)
  • to my parents – for teaching me about faith, for sharing their values, for always being there with love, a shoulder and an ear, and for being a living example I can follow.
  • to friends that live in my own back yard and that are scattered across the country and around the world – for sharing ideas, for collaborating to make my sometimes crazy ideas and projects turn into wonderful realities, for offering to lend a hand whether it’s on for a quest, a business venture, a community project, a offer of help when my son was sick and far from home, or just something fun – like #BeOriginal on Twitter.
  • to you, for taking a minute out of your day to read a bit of what I have to say.

You see Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings, no matter what they may be, and to tell people that they matter, that we appreciate them, that who they are and what they do matters.

So this Thanksgiving week, for my husband and my sons, the house will be filled with the scents of Thanksgiving.  I’ve even thought of a way that you can share some too.  Each year, at Thanksgiving time, I bake loaves of Pumpkin Bread.  And, when I do, Thanksgiving scents fill the air.  So, if you would like to share in that, here is the recipe.  It’s not much to show my appreciation, but it’s a little gift from me to you that will fill your home with wonderful aromas – guaranteed.

Thanks for stopping by – and to all a very happy Thanksgiving!

Joan Koerber-Walker

pumpkin bread

 

scan0118

My Mother-In-Law is a witch and my Father-In-Law is a cowboy – or at least that’s what they were one long past Halloween when they came to visit and took my then little boys trick or treating.

Sandy and I went to the craft store to get goodies for costumes.  Pulled out my old Sears sewing machine and like magic created matching cowboy outfits for Grandpa and Christopher.

A little more magic and the smell of cookies filled the house – orange pumpkins and grinning ghosts fell prey to little fingers while Dad fitted the cooler of wine and beer for the grown ups  and a box for the collected candy into the kids’ little red wagon.  (It’s also a great back up plan  when little legs can’t walk another step.)scan0133

And as the sun began to set, off they went – a witch, a set of cowboys – six shooters in had, and Superman in the stroller while Dad followed behind with a wagon-load of beer and wine for thirsty grown ups and the camera – of course.

And me, I stayed back at the ranch, sitting in the cul-de-sac with some of the other Moms, passing out treats to hoards of tricksters – princesses, cowboys, hobos, and kings, as they made their journey from door to door.

There are lots of different theories about the exact origin of Halloween.  Howard Bennett, in this Special to The Washington Post article from has some insights as to Halloween’s History.scan0134

But however it evolved, and where ever it came from, Halloween is a time for fun, for sharing with friends and neighbors, and for the creating of memories.

So Trick or Treat – here’s wishing you and yours a safe and Happy Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.

Stay Tuned….

Joan Koerber-Walker

Welcome baby brotherIt’s not everyday your baby turns 18. 

But today, October 7th is that day for my son Nicholas.  I will never forget waking up early that morning and saying –  “Chris – it’s time…”

Or how excited a two-year old, Christopher, was to have a baby brother to play with. 

Little did we know that that little 7 Nick and Beau 2006pound 6 ounce bundle would grow to a GIANT of 6 foot 6, or that he would be such an awesome guy.

He top’s me by a foot!

Nick was always a standout among his friends.  By second grade he has as tall as his teacher – she was a petite 5 foot.  By fifth grade, he was the tallest person- not student – in his elementary school.  In Junior High, he played basketball for the team and by high school the coaches were drooling over his 6’6 300+ frame, but being a ‘gentle giant’ football was not for him.  He would rather tackle and roll around with his golden retriever Beau.

He’s smart

Now, as a senior at Desert Vista High School, he is loving Senior Life and is looking forward to college where he wants to study mechanical engineering.  He’s one of the lucky kids who aces all his tests – he even aced his reasoning tests on the SATs.  Now, if I could ONLY get him to do his HOMEWORK on the computer instead of playing World of Warcraft! ;0)

He’s funny

When he was little, the kids at camp called him “Louie” after comedian Louie Anderson, because he was always making them laugh.  He is often the guy goofing around and people are attracted to his happy ways and open smile.  At last year’s Mr. Thunder Competition, his rendition of I’m a Lumberjack had the crowd rolling on the floor laughing!

He’s a friend to all

MrThunder2 Whether he’s hanging out with the gang, helping the cheerleaders raise money by hamming it up on stage at Mr. Thunder, playing on his Dad’s softball team and bowling teams over at Keller Williams, or sitting down to chat with Mom, everyone loves Big Nick.

He’s extra special and he is 18 today.

Happy Birthday Nicholas – we are very proud of YOU! 

Love,  Mom and Dad

It was a hot and humid Delaware August Night in 1975.  My parents were entertaining that evening and the house and yard were all spruced up.  Dinner was in the oven.  The table was festively set with flowers, china and silver, while the kids were all gathered in the basement play room.  

devonshire-signDad had gone into the kitchen to get something and heard some strange hissing and popping noises.  Of course, his first thought was his teenagers were messing with the stereo downstairs in the basement.   When he opened the door, he heard lots of noise, but not the hissing and popping.  So he moved on across the family room to the garage.    When he opened that door – the hissing and popping exploded into a ROAR.  The house was on FIRE.

Slamming the door, he ran back to the basement and yelled down the stairs –

The house is on fire – GET OUT!

My brother Rick and I grabbed our brother and sisters.  We all rushed up the basement steps and out the back door.   Dad continued through the kitchen and dining room to the living room and with Mom got the guests out the front. 

By the time we all gathered in the neighbor’s yard across the street, in just a matter of minutes, the fire had spread across the entire first floor and smoke was pouring out of the upstairs windows.  

Everyone was out and safe – but the house was aflame. 

Our community, back then, had a volunteer fire department and they were there in minutes.  The firemen worked tirelessly to get the fire out – and when it was safe – even went in and ‘rescued’ by brothers’ pet gerbil.  Our house was a two story colonial made of brick on the first floor and it was still standing after the blaze was put out.  A fireman told my Mom that when he got to the dining room, the silver pitcher that had been filled with ice was boiling on the table like a tea pot.

Neighbors banded together to take in all five of us kids, to find us clothes to wear and to give my parents what they needed most – friendship and support.  Over thirty years later, even though my parent later moved far away, those neighbors are still some of my parents closest friends.

The Fire Marshall later determined that the cause of the fire was spontaneous combustion of the freshly cut grass that had been bagged and put in the garage over night so that it was not sitting out on the curb when our company came for the party.

State Farm was my parents’ insurance company and the agent was wonderful.  He and his team worked closely with my parents to get them what they needed, helping with temporary relocation to a rental home and helping to put our own home back together again.  We moved back in just before Christmas, 1975.

WHY am I sharing this story today?

2009 Fire Prevention Week (FPW) PostersOctober is National Fire Safety Month and you need to know that it can happen to you and it can happen that fast.

Make sure that your family has a fire escape plan and that your kids know what to do if some day they hear – The house is on fire – GET OUT!

Visit the Home Safety Council Website and review the tips on home fire prevention.   You can find fun training tools for parents and teachers to use at the National Fire Protection Association.

Talk to your insurance agent and make sure that you have the right level of coverage for your family’s needs. 

Hopefully, you will never hear “The house is on fire – GET OUT!”  but it’s always good to be prepared. 

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

As a girl, I loved Christmas, birthdays, and all of the special times when I got gifts.  But I dreaded what came next.  My Mom would make me sit down at the kitchen table, and in my ‘very best handwriting’, write my thank you notes.

“WHY” – I would whine.  “I want to play with my presents – NOT write dumb old letters!”

“Because” she’d always reply “when someone does something nice for you, you send a note to show that you appreciate it.  If you don’t – someday you may wake up and find that you don’t have to say thank you any more – because you won’t have anything to say thank you for!”

I have to admit, that today, as a ‘big girl’ my habit of sending thank you notes has gotten a bit sloppy, as has my handwriting.  But I really do try to say thank you when ever I can when people do something nice, deliver great service, share ideas, and help others.  (That’s right – you can even thank someone for doing something that was not for YOU.)

Sometimes it’s a phone call, or an email or a tweet.  I even have special note cards that are fun and creative that my friends Mike and Lisa at Affordable Image make up just for me every year.  Affordable Image’s tag line is “Old Fashioned Values with Today’s Technology”(TM) and you can tell that they mean it in the way they help their customers. 

I just wish my handwriting looked as good as their note cards.

But however you say it, what I have found is that when you thank someone for doing something little or doing something grand – it makes them feel good and YOU feel good too.  I remind my kids to say thank you – and I try to remind myself too.  You see,  you should never be too busy to say thank you.

It’s one thing that never goes out of style.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Author’s Note:  Some of the people I can not thank enough are the many leaders, sponsors, volunteers, and the hundreds of participants in the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences each year.  All of the conference proceeds go to support OTEF’s efforts in helping at-risk populations along the path to entrepreneurship.  It’s a great example of how a community can come together to help others and help themselves at the same time.  So if I have not said it recently – THANK YOU and I look forward to saying it again in person on November 12, 2009!

Joan Koerber-Walker
Chairman, The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation

Grandmas 100th Christmas The funny thing about parents, is one day they are taking care of you and before you know it, the tables can turn and you are taking care of them.

As time goes on, we are living longer.  In many cases, at the end of their lives, our parents come to depend on us in the same way that in the early part of ours we depended on them.

And that brings me to my story – about when my very independent Grandma – moved in with Mom and Dad.

Grandma was one of the lucky ones, her mind was as sharp as a tack.  It was just her body that couldn’t keep up. 

Time was catching up with her and we all shuddered each time we thought of her walking down two flights of stairs – to her basement garage – to get into her car and drive to church EVERY morning. 

Monday through Friday she lead the rosary at morning mass.  On Sunday at 9:30 mass, she stood at the entrance and greeted every family that walked in through ‘her door’ before she made her way to ‘her seat’  in same pew every week.  It did not matter that she lived in Michigan — where they had ice and snow.  She’d bundle herself up and out she’d go.

She took good care of her car – because her wheels were her independence.  She took good care of her teeth – because her smile was important. She took care of her money – because having lived through the depression – there was NO WAY she was going to run out.  And her clothes were always in the latest style.  She had more outfits that I do!

Then one snowy day it happened.  Grandma drove out to the mailbox to get her mail, and while turning the car around to go back to the garage, she dinged it.  Her mind was still sharp as can be, but her vision was starting to go.  And that was the end of that. 

So Grandma had to give up her car and move in with Mom and Dad.

My parents converted the two first-floor guest rooms and bath into Grandma’s suite – and moved in her own furniture and her big screen TV so she could feel at home while she watched the Tigers, and the Red Winds, and the Pistons,  Dad even broke down and got cable – so that Grandma could watch the Rosary and the mass every morning.    I’ll never forget the first time I came home for a  visit after Grandma moved in. 

It was 7AM (4 AM on my West Coast bio clock) when it started.  It was so loud that it woke me up from a sound sleep as I lay in the upstairs guest room. 

Moaning and droning, like a chorus of banshees had settled over the house!  I staggered over to my parents’ room – where I heard it again – in Stereo!

“What in God’s name is that!”  I mumbled.

“That” explained my Mom with a grin “is Grandma listening to the Rosary on TV.  She does not hear very well so she has the volume up loud.  And then it plays through the baby monitor that we have hooked up so that we can hear Grandma if she needs us in the night.  Did Sister Angelica wake you? …. We hear her EVERY morning.”

“Oh, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” I said under my breath.

“And all the saints too.” my Dad said with a chuckle.  “You get used to it.”

And so we all did. 

Life while taking care of Grandma was Euchre Games with the grand kids and Bridge with the adults.   It was discussions of politics and news – of what the Free Press had to say – and Jeopardy every night.

Grandma ate three healthy meals plus desserts – we did not call her the “Cookie Grandma” for nothing.  So sitting with her,  so did we.  I gained 10 pounds every time I went to visit.

There were times when taking care of Grandma was not an easy thing for my parents.  Just as when we were little, as Grandma became more frail, they could not leave her alone.  Yet she refused to have a companion come in.  “I do NOT need a babysitter.” she would explain.  I remember hearing the same refrain from my kids!  And she won the battle for a while, and Mom and Dad were trapped at  home.  That lasted until, one day, my Mom put her foot down. That’s a story for another day.

But for a visiting granddaughter, taking care of Grandma was always a joy.  It was long talks and visits.  Days of watching TV together and trying to beat the TV folks at Jeopardy.  Of course, since Grandma was of a different generation and catholic with a CAPITAL C, there were some things better left unsaid.  After all – she would not “put up with any of our shenanigans” as she was known to say.

All in all, everyone loved taking care of Grandma – at least most of the time.

We’re not taking care of Grandma any more. She passed away this January at the age of 99 just after celebrating her 100th Christmas.  I will never forget the look on my Dad’s face on the day of the funeral when he looked at me and said..

I miss my little buddy.

We’ve come full circle.  Now, she’s up there taking care of us again…  and there is nowhere we can hide.  She can see everything – and when we see her again – she’ll let us know EXACTLY what she thinks about all of our shenanigans.

Thanks for stopping by for a Little Life Story.  Stay  tuned…

I grew up as a Cosby kid to Fat Albert cartoons and watching Bill Cosby specials on T.V.  I even, in my later years would settle down, from time to time, and watch the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the Huxtable clan on The Bill Cosby show.  It was great when I saw a post from my friend Dr. Rus announcing that Bill Cosby would be awarded the Mark Twain Award for American Humor this October 26th.

But of all the things Dr. Cosby has ever created, for me, nothing tops the following piece telling the story of a Dad fixing breakfast for his kids.

 

Any Mom will tell you that there are times when you need a little help and you  are going to get it from your spouse – whether they like it or not!

Any Dad can tell you – that even when you do help – you may not get it right!

(Oh and by the way – switch around the Mom and the Dad in these two sentences – and they hold just as true!)

When our children are infants there are the late night feedings, teething, dirty diapers, and the constant need to pay attention attention.

As they get older there is the teamwork of balancing scheduled, teaching values, consistent discipline, and  the most dread chore of them all – HOMEWORK duty.

But through it all, the joy of parenting is in the doing and if you are lucky in doing it together.  There is no more important team than a Mom and a Dad. 

Because sooner than you know it, your little ones are grown and you are back on your own again.

Thanks for stopping by for a Little Life Story.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

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Welcome to Little Life Stories


What happens to us.
What is said to us.
What we experience.
These are thing things that shape our lives.

Here at Little Life Stories, I will share some of mine with you.

Just the stories. You get to draw your own take aways.

Want a little more?
Visit the links section to find my other much longer blogs and posts.

Thank you for stopping by for a little story.

Joan Koerber-Walker

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