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SandDune Reads in 2017 - Part 3

This is a continuation of the topic SandDune Reads in 2017 - Part 2.

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Edited: Apr 10, 4:47am Top

Welcome everyone to my third thread of 2017, and to my sixth year doing the 75 Book Challenge. I'm a 56 year old accountant and, after spending most of my career in the City of London, I'm now the Finance Manager of a local charity which provides support to children and adults with learning disabilities. I've recently returned to full-time work after a number of years working part-time, so unfortunately I don't have as much time for LT as I used to. I live about thirty miles north of London with my husband (aka Mr SandDune), who is Assistant Principal at a local secondary school, and our 17 year old son (aka J), who attends the same school. There's also our 5 year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Daisy, and 13 year old cat Sweep, who have an uneasy relationship in which Sweep permanently has the upper hand. I'm originally from Wales rather than England, so I do have an interest in all things Welsh (although I can't speak the language - at least only a few words) and I tend to get huffy if people call me English rather than Welsh! I read mainly literary fiction, classics, science-fiction and fantasy and tend to avoid horror, detective fiction, chick-lit and thrillers. I belong to a RL book group which has been going since 2000, and I also try to keep up with some of the challenges going on on LT, with varying degrees of success.

All my family are avid readers, although Mr SandDune doesn't get time to read as much as he would like. J has inherited a love of reading science-fiction and fantasy from me and a love of reading history from Mr SandDune so our books are increasingly shared. I read hardbacks, paperbacks, on kindle and listen to audio books particularly when driving or walking the dog. Apart from reading I love travelling, eating out, and going to the theatre. Over the last few years I've been doing a part-time English Literature degree with the Open University, and this year I'm on my final course: English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen.

For this year's illustrations I've gone back to a general theme of dogs in art. This month's picture is by Andrea Mantegna (1431- 1506) and is a detail from the Camera degli Sposi in Mantua.

Edited: Apr 10, 4:11am Top

Reading Plans for 2017:

Real Life Reading Group:
I usually do read most of my RL Reading Group choices unless I can't make the meeting date.

February: My Struggle: A Death in the FamilyKarl Ove Knausgard
March: All of these People: A Memoir Fergal Keane
April: The House by the Dvina Eugenie Fraser
May: The Miniaturist Jessie Burton
June: Nutshell: A Novel Ian McEwan
August: no meeting

Open University Reading:
These are for my OU course English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen. There's some poetry as well but that's provided in the course text books:

Persausion Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Gullivers Travels Jonathan Swift
The Confessions Jean-Jaques Rousseau
Tartuffe Moliere
TheTurkish Embassy Letters Lady Montagu Wortley
The Country Wife William Wycherley
Arabian Nights Entertainments

British Author Challenge:
Last year I managed four books out of a total of twelve. I hope to do better this year.

January: Elizabeth Bowen The Last September
February: Mary Stewart The Crystal Cave
March: Nell Dunn Up the Junction
April: Bruce Chatwin
May: Maria Edgeworth Castle Rackrent
June: Georgette Heyer
July: D.E. Stevenson
August: Winifred Holtby
September: Cynan Jones The Dig
October: Jo Walton
November: Carol Ann Duffy
December: Neil Gaiman

Booker Prize Shortlist:
My RL Reading Group is meeting to discuss the 2016 Booker Shortlist in March. I've already read Hot Milk so five more to go:

The Sellout Paul Beatty
All that Man Is David Szalay
Eileen Ottessa Moshfegh
Do not Say We Have Nothing Madeleine Thien
His Bloody Project Graeme MacRae Burnet

ANZAC Bingo 2x12
I doubt very much if I'll get around to reading more than a handful of these but I've enjoyed planning out titles to meet the challenge:

1: Read a book about conflict or war The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
2: Read a book with more than 500 pgs The Luminaries Eleanor Catton
3: Read an Aussie crime novel True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey
4: Read a book using word play in the title Tirra Lirra by the River Jessica Anderson
5: Read a book about exploration or a journey The Hut Builder Laurence Fearnley
6: Read a book that's been longlisted for the International DUBLIN Literary Award The World Without Us Mireille Juchau
7: Read a book that's part of a series Plumb Maurice Gee
8: Read a memoir/biography (can be fiction) To the Island Janet Frame
9: Read a book written under a pen name The Getting of Wisdom Henry Handel Richardson
10: Read a book with a musical plot The Chimes Anna Smaill
11: Read a book with water featured in title/cover Mister Pip Loyd Jones
12: Read a book with an immigrant protagonist The Secret River Kate Grenville

Edited: Apr 10, 4:59am Top

This is where I am currently: at my sister's villa outside Paphos in Cyprus. Everyone else has gone out: J and Mr SandDune have gone out on a long walk with my brother-in-law, and my sister has gone to play bridge so I am just enjoying the sunshine.

I am currently being eyed up by one of my sister's cats to see if I have anything edible. I say my sister's cats - actually they are feral and don't belong to her at all - but her patio is clearly a favourite sunbathing spot for them. Apparently there are four in total, a mother (ginger unusually), two of her year old kittens and another cat, although usually we only see the mother and a tabby kitten. The mother is sociable enough to stroke, but the kitten is not, although it is comfortable with us being pretty close.

Apr 10, 4:50am Top

Happy new thread, Rhian! Your holiday spot looks lovely.

Apr 10, 6:22am Top

Happy new thread, Rhian!

Apr 10, 7:56am Top

>6 susanj67: >7 scaifea: Oh it is hard work at the moment. I have to make such difficult decisions. Shall I sit in the sun for a little bit or shall I sit in the chair under the olive tree. How do I cope!

Apr 10, 7:58am Top

Happy Monday, Rhian!

Edited: Apr 10, 11:39am Top

Here is the mother cat:

Apr 10, 9:05am Top

Happy new thread, Rhian!

Your holiday spot looks gorgeous. And the mother cat looks a bit like my cat, Leonard, only Leonard is a bit creamier, but he has darker ginger-y patches and those same pale blue eyes.

Apr 10, 9:30am Top

Enjoy your holiday Rhian. Happy new thread.

A green eyed cat, lovely. Such a delicate ginger colour she is.

Apr 10, 10:21am Top

Happy new one, Rhian! What a lovely decision to have to make - I would choose under the olive tree. And the mother cat is a gorgeous shade of ginger; I like how she is summing you up.

Apr 10, 11:21am Top

Happy new thread, Rhian! Your day and location sound perfect I look forward to more photos, descriptions, and mentions of the books you'll read.

Apr 10, 11:38am Top

Here is the (grown-up) kitten that we see most often.

Apr 10, 11:45am Top

>11 katiekrug: >12 Caroline_McElwee: >13 Crazymamie: >14 kidzdoc: Welcome everyone! I've spent three days being very lazy indeed. Tomorrow we are being a bit more active and are going to northern Cyprus for a couple of nights. Which is either marked as the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' or 'Area occupied by Turkish forces since 1974' depending on which map we are looking at.

Edited: Apr 10, 12:21pm Top

Look what I have found in our bedroom at my sister's house! My very own copies of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and Stig of the Dump from when I was small. Two of my all-time favourite books. These copies have probably gone through at least four of my sister's five children, and are now in use for the grandchildren.

Apr 10, 1:24pm Top

Happy new thread, Rhian, enjoy your vacation. I hope you have decided where to sit ;-)

Apr 10, 1:35pm Top

Love the cat and kitten pics! I also love the "vintage" book covers!

Apr 10, 2:51pm Top

>5 SandDune: So sorry to hear of your suffering! Looks fantastic - enjoy.

Apr 10, 3:00pm Top

Your holiday looks wonderful! Enjoy the rest, the relaxation, and the feline companions.

Apr 10, 3:08pm Top

Happy new thread, Rhian. Lovely photos. I love the books; I have very few of my childhood books. I was the oldest and my younger siblings were hard on them.

Apr 10, 3:52pm Top

Ooh, a warm & sunny holiday! How nice. I love the cats, too. We always enjoy meeting up with local cats & dogs when we travel. It helps us cope a little bit better with missing our own furry friends.

Apr 10, 5:22pm Top

Your vacation sounds wonderfully relaxing! Enjoy every bit of it, even the kitties. :-)

Apr 10, 5:24pm Top

Hi Rhian! Happy new thread and happy vacation.

I love the pictures of the feral kitties and the view from the patio.

I have a few books that I bought through Scholastic Book Services when I was in elementary school, but wish I had more of them. It must be nice to see your old friends.

Apr 10, 5:28pm Top

Happy new thread, Rhian.

>17 SandDune: Great find. I loved Stig of the Dump as a kid too.

Hope you continue to enjoy Cyprus. xx

Apr 10, 5:55pm Top

Happy New Thread, and happy about finding the books, and sounds like you are having a lovely vacation!

Apr 11, 3:12pm Top

Today we crossed over into Northern Cyprus: one of the strangest border crossings I have come across. The Greek side of the island acts very much as if the Turkish part does not exist, so no signposts at all as to where the border crossing might actually be! We had to assume that the road going straight ahead in the last Greek Cypriot town that we came to, and that had no signpost at all pointing in that direction, probably eventually went to the North. And then it's a pretty long way between leaving the Greek part and entering the Turkish part as you have to go through the buffer zone.

We will be staying in Kyrenia (or Girne in Turkish) for two nights and then heading back to my sister's.

Apr 11, 5:46pm Top

Happy New Thread, Rhian, and I'm glad you're having such a great vacation. When I was a young guy, we wanted to go to Cyprus, but there was too much Greek-Turkish tension at the time. The U.S. Embassy told us we could go there, but they couldn't promise they could get us back out. That scared us off.

Apr 11, 6:34pm Top

My boyfriend's father remembers his time in the Army in Cyprus very fondly, but also with some less fond moments as he was shot in the head during his time there! Off duty, and sat in a bar one evening. I've never asked for the full story. He has been back in the last 10 years and says it is amazingly different.

I hope you have a lovely time in the north. I'll be interested to hear your impressions of the differences between the two sides.

Apr 11, 6:39pm Top

>17 SandDune: I have never heard of either of those books. I feel deprived.

Apr 11, 11:41pm Top

Cyprus! That looks warm and sunny. I hope you enjoy!

Edited: Apr 12, 3:05am Top

This is where we went on the way to Kyrenia yesterday: St Hilarion Castle which is perched up on a crag outside the city. It's very difficult to do it justice in a photo. It's a very large castle, but because of its location and the way it's spread out it's not possible to get more than a very small amount of it in shot at any one time.

Apr 12, 6:23am Top

That looks lovely Rhian.

Apr 12, 6:42am Top

Wow, that looks amazing. What fabulous views.

Apr 12, 2:53pm Top

>18 FAMeulstee: >19 thornton37814: >20 Oberon: >21 lunacat: >23 lauralkeet: >24 rosalita: >25 karenmarie: >26 PaulCranswick: >27 ronincats: >32 Kassilem: >34 Caroline_McElwee: >35 lunacat: It isn't as warm and sunny as it should be unfortunately as the weather is apparently cold for the time of year. Yesterday and today were warm if you were in a sheltered spot and the sun was out, but there was a cold wind. It's fine for sightseeing, but certainly not hot enough for lying by the pool.

>30 lunacat: Wow, he was lucky to survive that. I looked up that nearly 400 British servicemen were killed in Cyprus before it became independent, followed by several thousand more Greek and Turkish Cypriots in 1974.There are clearly still major issues between the two sides.

The Turkish side definitely feels more 'foreign' than the rest of Cyprus does, probably mainly because there aren't such overwhelming amounts of British tourists. Everyone still drives on the left though, and while the Turkish Lira is the official currency everyone seems to take Euros, and pounds as well for that matter. It clearly hasn't seen the amount of development that southern Cyprus has seen, which in my opinion is a good thing: I can't help feeling that Cyprus as a whole would have benefited from much stronger planning regulations. One difference is that we were woken up at 6.00am this morning by the call to prayer from the mosque next door!

Apr 12, 9:02pm Top

Wow! Love the photos, Rhian.

When we drove to Gibraltar from Spain, we had a similar experience. We could actually see the rock, but there were no signs in Spain.

Apr 13, 4:30am Top

Yeah, he'd have been out there around 1959 I think? I don't know if he was shot specifically for being a serviceman, or who shot him. I should find out the details more but it's a slightly awkward topic to bring up!

He liked adventure though - he headed out to Israel in 1967 at the start of the Six Day War (I'm not sure why), missed it because his hitchhiking meant he travelled slowly, then decided to live in a Kibbutz for two years. He's not Jewish, just thought it would be interesting!

Fascinated to hear your thoughts on Turkish/Greek Cyprus. Sorry to hear the weather isn't warmer, but then it's often nice to have it a little cooler for sightseeing. Hope you have a wonderful time for your rest of your stay. Is there a big focus on Easter on the Greek side?

Apr 14, 8:41am Top

Happy vacation and congrats on your shiny new thread. It's more then twenty years ago when I was at Cyprus East coast.

Apr 14, 10:52am Top

Hope you have a great Easter weekend!

Apr 15, 5:22am Top

Hi Rhian, wishing you a wonderful Easter weekend.

Apr 16, 10:28pm Top

Happy new thread, Rhian. I am enjoying the holiday photos, I hope that you are having a good time in Cyprus.

Apr 20, 3:36pm Top

We're back from Cyprus and J and Mr SandDune and back at school. I thought I'd share this photo of the school that Mr SandDune took today. This isn't exactly his office (his is the next window along) but it's very close.

Apr 20, 3:38pm Top

>43 SandDune: Wow, that is a stunning Wisteria!

Apr 20, 5:06pm Top

>43 SandDune: Whoa! That is beautiful, Rhian.

Apr 20, 5:24pm Top

>43 SandDune: >44 FAMeulstee: >45 jnwelch: Trouble with wisteria is that it doesn't last very long but it is lovely while it lasts And that one does look so nice against the paler green plants.

Apr 21, 1:08am Top

>43 SandDune: Beautiful. We have some at our school, too but they aren't blooming yet.

Apr 21, 1:54am Top

Nice picture, Rhian. I love the look of wisteria.

Apr 21, 6:39am Top

>43 SandDune: Gorgeous!

Apr 21, 6:46am Top

Beautiful pictures all around! Love the pictures of both Cyprus and the wisteria.

Happy Friday, Rhian!

Apr 21, 4:29pm Top

Looks like a lovely holiday and a beautiful bit of greenery.

Apr 21, 7:03pm Top

I do like wisteria.

Good luck with the final bit of study Rhian.

Apr 23, 1:59am Top

Happy Sunday, Rhian.

Apr 23, 9:28am Top

Welcome back, Rhian. Great photo.

Apr 23, 2:47pm Top

Apologies to everyone for not getting back to them individually. I've been struggling to finish an essay as well as having a revision class all day Saturday. One may essay to go due in on 27th May, and then my degree course should be complete!

Apr 23, 3:41pm Top

> 43 SandDune - Wisteria so beautiful - does it need full sun?

Apr 23, 5:12pm Top

Best of luck with all your course work, Rhian.

Apr 24, 4:15pm Top

21. Evelina Frances Burney ***1/2

I started reading this as background reading to what Jane Austen herself would have read.

Evelina is a seventeen year old orphan who has been abandoned by her aristocratic father, who claimed that the marriage with her mother had never taken place. Brought up by the retired country clergyman who had raised her mother, Evelina has the chance to experience London society for the first time while visiting friends, and as befits a very inexperienced girl brought up in a very quiet part of the country, she makes many mistakes along the way. But her trip to London is extended when she encounters her grandmother Mme Duval, a rather vulgar (albeit rich) woman who has been living in France for most of her life, and has returned to England to discover her granddaughter.

It took me a little while to get into: Evelina is one of those perfectly good and perfectly beautiful heroines that were particularly popular in the eighteenth century which can be a little wearing. But in the end it did grow on me, particularly the sections with Evelina's rather downmarket relations the Branghtons. I also found it interesting to see the changes in society that took place between the time that Evelina was written and the time Jane Austen was writing: society is clearly on its way to the more subdued and respectable Victorian era by Jane Austen's time.

Edited: Apr 24, 5:02pm Top

22. The Long Tomorrow Leigh Brackett ***

A long lifetime ago a nuclear war devastated the Earth, and the remaining population in the US are reduced to pre-industrial technology. Only the oldest grandparent can remember when there were cars and televisions and electricity on tap. But there is no appetite to rebuild the past - society wants above all to avoid the horrors of civilisation once more descending into nuclear chaos. Settlements are forbidden to grow beyond the size of a very small town and scientific knowledge is prohibited. But two young cousins, Len and Esau, find an old radio and become obsessed with the idea of finding Bartortown, an almost mythical place where the wonders of the past are said to still exist.

This one started reasonably well, but had a very disappointing ending. And for a world that had supposedly been devastated by nuclear war there seemed to be remarkably little problems with radiation!

Apr 24, 5:05pm Top

Lovely photos, Rhian. A friend of mine is currently vacationing in Greece and intends to head to Cyprus next week. I'm all envious because all I have to look forward to this week are spreadsheets and reports at the office.

Edited: May 5, 9:28am Top

Hi Rhian! Just a quick hello - Thank you for sharing all the pictures.

May 6, 2:18pm Top

>55 SandDune: Good luck with that last essay and I am sure that a very good degree awaits.

Have a great weekend.

May 19, 8:52am Top

Your time in Cyprus sounds idyllic - must seem like a dream to you now, back at home.

I had much the same reaction to Evelina when I read it -- including surprise at the liveliness and that I liked it much better than I thought I would.

Does seem a bit odd that Brackett sidestepped the radiation issues!

May 19, 11:45am Top

Apologies to everyone for falling off the face of the world for the last few weeks. Since getting back from Cyprus I have been completely engrossed in writing my final essays for my OU degree. Which are now written and checked and submitted, and which I am very happy to see the back of! When I started this degree I was part-time but being full time for the last eighteen months has made it very hard work and I'm looking forward to having a bit of a rest. And it will give me more time to catch up with LT ...

May 19, 12:37pm Top

Oh, I get having to focus on school! Glad it's done and you're back.

May 19, 3:00pm Top

It's interesting to see you reviewing Evelina, as I've been listening to A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray, and Frances Burney is one of those talked about. I'd never heard of her before.

May 19, 5:07pm Top

>66 lunacat: oops, that just fell into my basket, thanks for the bullet, ouch!

>64 SandDune: congratulations on submitting your final essays Rhian. I hope you will have a bit of recovery time over the weekend.

May 19, 5:59pm Top

That must be a good feeling to have handed them all in! Hope you're enjoying some free time.

May 20, 1:09am Top

>64 SandDune: It must feel wonderful to have those essays done and dusted, Rhian. I can relate. I just finished a diploma program just over a year ago - 21 courses taken part time while working full time - what was I thinking? You think you will have scads of free time once all the courses are over but somehow it gets filled in with other stuff. Enjoy that feeling of being done while you can.

May 20, 3:18am Top

>65 drneutron: >67 Caroline_McElwee: >68 charl08: >69 Familyhistorian: I'm really looking forward to a weekend free of essay writing! We haven't got much on at all for the rest of the month but June will be busier as it's time for J to start looking at universities and we'll be going to open days at Bristol, Leeds and Manchester in June. We can do Bristol in a day, but I need to book some accommodation for the other two: Leeds is on the Friday and Manchester is on the Saturday so we can combine them into one trip. At the moment I thinking that I'll book Thursday and Friday night in Leeds and then go on to Manchester Saturday morning. Leeds is about four hours drive from us and Manchester maybe four and a half, and we'd need to leave at the crack of dawn to get him to his events on time if we left home on the Friday. In September, he wants to go and see Sheffield (my old university) and Edinburgh. Funnily, although Edinburgh is obviously much further away than the others, it's probably the easiest one for him to get to on his own. I've checked the prices of flights from our (very) local airport, and as long as he remembers to book flights well in advance it might well work out cheaper to fly to Edinburgh than get the train to Leeds or Manchester. And we're not ideally placed for travelling by train to anywhere other than London - it usually ends up being a very convoluted journey. It's me that's going to be doing the bulk of the driving around: J is allowed two days off school for university visits, but of course that doesn't apply to Mr SandDune.

May 20, 9:38am Top

>66 lunacat: I'm definitely going to be reading more of Frances Burney, and probably more from that period generally. Some of the course work was looking at what Jane Austen herself would have read, which I found really interesting. Who were the 21 women who were chosen for Jenni Murray's book? One of the books that we looked at was The Turkish Embassy Letters by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and she'd certainly be on my list of interesting women of the past. She was the one who traveled to Istanbul at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and then introduced (or at least tried to introduce) smallpox inoculation.

May 20, 2:39pm Top

>71 SandDune:

The list is:

Elizabeth I
Aphra Behn
Caroline Herschel
Fanny Burney (Frances Burney)
Mary Wollstonecraft
Jane Austen
Mary Somerville
Mary Seacole
Ada Lovelace
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Millicent Garrett Fawcett
Emmeline Pankhurst
Ethel Smyth
Constance Markievicz
Gwen John
Nancy Astor
Barbara Castle
Margaret Thatcher
Mary Quant
Nicola Sturgeon

May 20, 2:42pm Top

Congratulations on finishing your essays, Rhian.

Good luck with the college visits. Does J have any preferences right now?

>72 lunacat: Interesting list.

May 20, 5:04pm Top

>72 lunacat: I had to look up a few of those. Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Ethel Smyth didn't ring any bells at all: Constance Markievicz did sound familiar, but I couldn't have said why!

>73 BLBera: At the moment Leeds and Edinburgh are his favourite, but that may well have comething to do with the fact that he visited Leeds in January with a school event, and he liked Edinburgh when we visited a couple of years ago. I think Bristol is probably at the bottom of the list, but that may change. I think he's keen to go to a reasonable size city but London's a little bit too close to home and too familiar.

May 20, 7:59pm Top

Paul C's daughter is at Edinburgh, so he might be able to give you his impression of the school.

May 21, 9:23am Top

>75 drneutron: I think Paul's daughter is at Herriot-Watt University, which is also in Edinburgh but specialises in engineering and business and more technical things. After much agonising J is intending to do History (or History and Politics) so he's looking at the University of Edinburgh - which is obviously in the same place but a different institution.

May 21, 9:26am Top

Ah - hadn't picked up on which school. History and politics sounds good!

May 21, 1:38pm Top

>77 drneutron: Most of the larger U.K. cities have more than one university associated with them.

May 21, 2:07pm Top

Hi Rhian. I'm finally getting a chance to drop by (I may get all my initial LT visits done by mid-year). I'm sorry it's taken a while.

Congratulations on finishing your degree course; best of luck for the results. Gosh! Is J 17 already? I was thinking of him still as 12 years old. Doesn't time fly? What gorgeous photos (holiday and school) - you poor, poor things! ;0) Have fun with the university visits (you could mention to J that the advantages of being closer to home include easier access to home cooking and laundry).

May 21, 3:00pm Top

>79 humouress: To be honest the closest option to home would be for him to go to one of the London colleges but he'd want to live in (and to be honest I'd want him to, to get the most out of the experience) and the cost of living in London would be a lot more expensive. Apart from that the nearest would be Cambridge (he'd need exceptional grades - not impossible, but he'd need a lot of luck) or UEA (University of East Anglia) in Norwich, which is very much a campus university - not what he wants. All the ones he's chosen are good universities - they're all in the top 100 in global rankings. The only ones that would be near enough for laundry facilities (apart from Cambridge that is) are a lot further down the list. I think it's a good idea for him to chose somewhere a bit different from where we live and for him to experience living in a city for once, so I'm not pushing for him to look at places nearer to home.

May 21, 8:14pm Top

>80 SandDune: I know; the practical should outweigh the emotional. My boys will have choices here, when the time comes, but I'm assuming they'll go to universities overseas. (They'd better not be bringing laundry home if so - but going by their current behaviour, it wouldn't be surprising.)

Yesterday, 5:30am Top

Hi, Rhian.

J is 17? I still think of him as 3, (almost) falling asleep in his pudding in Barcelona. :-)

He's at an exciting time of life, trying to figure it all out. Our now-just-fine son was an idiot at that age (bad judgment). But he did know he wanted to code software, and he wasn't such an idiot in that realm.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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