We make holes in teeth!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pee Wee's Big Adventure

The weekend is coming fast which I should be happy about but to be honest I want nothing to do with it. On Saturday we're going down to South Jersey for a 4th of July picnic and staying over until Sunday. We'll leave the house around 9:00 Saturday and get home maybe noon Sunday. Given that it's the summer it will take roughly 2 hours of driving to get to his house.

The first hurdle is getting Julia there. She doesn't much like the car though she has gotten better in the past few weeks. Still, the longest she's ever been in the car has been an hour, and that was filled with some blood curdling scream time in there. In general she won't sleep in the car these days though we're hoping for the best.

The drive there will be broken up into a pair of one hour trips around a one hour stop where she can get some lead out. Same deal both Saturday and Sunday. In between getting there and leaving will be the struggle to keep her out of trouble. Vinny's kids are 5 and 7 (or 4 and 6 I don't know) and the house is no longer safe for 14 month old kids. No gates, no locks on cabinets, open cellar doors, various breakable items, open fire pits, snakes, poison, and so on.

Saturday will more or less be following her around to make sure she doesn't get in too much trouble and wrestling various things away from her that she shouldn't have, like wine glasses, steak knives, and crystal meth. In between I will drink more beer than I should and inhale the occasional hamburger or 3. The main respite will be when she naps followed by when she goes to bed for the night, more than likely around 10:00 with all the excitement. This child does not like to sleep.

After that I will probably zone out, drink a beer, eat a sausage, drink another beer, and go to bed. The next morning will be the struggle to return home. I see it as an absolutely monumental task. We'll get to see Vinny and Bridgette and their kids as well as Cliffy and Melissa and their kids. And all the kids around will help because Julia absolutely loves watching other children. But you know how that goes. One bunch of children run down the basement steps and one 14 month old Tornado tries to follow. Hilarity ensues.

Nat says it's not going to be as bad as I think and hey, let's hope she's right. But nothing in my experience as a dad suggests it will be. Every single time we've been in the car for over 30 minutes she gets cranky and eventually yells about it. Every single time we're at a house that's not child proof I end up exhausted after an hour.

This is the answer to the question, Why don't people with kids go out as much as they used to? Sure, you *can* do anything but it's tiring, exhausting. If you have a choice you either stay at home or go to people's houses who have children. Of course this idea went to hell last weekend when we went to one of the play group's houses. Their twins don't walk yet so the house isn't bomb proof. Ensue killer headache by the end of that visit.

Since I need to get my ride in (or I'll melt) I'll wake up at 5:00 and get in a quick 2+ hours before we go tomorrow. The plan is to do another 2 hours when we get home Sunday but I might have to go right for the vodka at that point. No doubt I roll into next Monday thoroughly exhausted before the work shit hits the fan. There is, however, an outside chance I can take Monday off. We shall see.

But hey, I have the 4th of July off. Oh wait, we're going to my parents that day, an hour away. Check please!

Well then at least you have the following Saturday? Oh, but no! One of the play group kids is having a first birthday party that I'm being guilted into going to. The invitation says, "Your presence is present enough." Yeah my ass. There goes another $30 we can't afford to spend. On the bright side there's a race up at Stewart that Sunday so I'm pretty sure I'm going to do that.

Friday. Work is so fucking nuts that my boss walked out the door at 9:00 am yesterday and isn't coming back until Monday because he was so pissed he almost quit. Another guy in our group managed to inflict the raging ire of a 350 pound high-strung coworker. We had to have a group meeting to talk it out. I think Oprah made an appearance at one point. Then we had a raised voice meeting with one of the vendors for an hour.

The "incident" guy in our group is going to work from home tomorrow because I don't think he can handle it. Our boss is losing his mind. And we're supposed to be putting 2 products into production tomorrow, the first 2 in this whole mega conversion project. Oh and the Operations director has been MIA this week. Fair bet the department VP bails early as well, if he even shows up. Nobody here but us monkeys. Maybe we should shut the shop down. Out to lunch, seeking bananas.

Is this a bike blog? You'd never know it. I set the alarm for 5:00 again this morning because my plan was to ride every day from Tuesday through Sunday. This week is all low-volume which is why it's not hard to pull off. Hopefully I can get some good rolling before and after Pee Wee's Big Adventure to make my post-sick week a valid hold week. Right now it's a slow slide but we didn't hit the weekend yet.

Anyway the alarm rang at 5:00 and I hit snooze then I just turned it off and slept until 6:20. Hey sometimes you gotta go with your bad self and baby, I am bad right now!

I roasted some coffee and played with the wheel a bit. It's pretty well in true now and I did a token job trying to clean it. It rotates well though at the very end of the spin it seems to stop a little too abruptly which tells me either there's too much grease (less likely) or the races are not 100% (more likely). Compared to the front wheel though it's like butter. I'm also not totally comfortable with the small amount of play they tell you to leave in it. They say it disappears when you clamp it down. We'll see.

My retreat in packing on weight has gone well this week which is good. Dropped from a weekly average of 193 last week to 191.57 today. Of course this is still bloated from the 188.43 before I got sick so a little bit to go still and this weekend is going to do what to that? Also went from feeling miserable on the bike Tuesday to having a great ride Thursday. So all in all things look fine. I just need to keep a holding pattern through the next 10 days then I can overthink how I'm going to ramp up for the 24 and what intermediate races I'm going to do.

Well I'm rolling into work now so the work craziness is just about to yield to my weekend craziness. Hope everyone has a good weekend. If the bike is your thing hopefully you get some quality miles in. Either way be safe and watch the drinking and driving thing. This is a bad weekend for that kinda stuff.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's Coming Back

Work is crushing me like a vice lately which can be both a good and bad thing. Good because the day goes fast and bad because my days are long when I have to stay late. I believe Wednesday marked the final end of my being sick. Colds linger now because as soon as I feel slightly better I push myself. I think that's OK for the most part. Who can afford to wait until they feel 100% to get back on the horse?

Today was another spin in the current fog engulfing New Jersey. This weather is oppressive. It doesn't usually last that long but when it's here it sucks. For the second day in a row I was swimming on the bike, sweating profusely at 5:30 in the morning. The subway stations are like steam chambers.

I wanted to bite off a bit more than yesterday so I set my alarm for 5:00 then hit snooze and then proceeded to sit on the couch after I did finally get up then went in the basement and adjusted the hub I'm working on then took out the recycle bin. By the time I got rolling it was 5:35 so my time limit was 1:10. I decided to just go out 512 for 30 minutes and turn around.

On the hub, the races are a hair buggy so it's not going to spin like butter. Getting it *juuuuuuust* right is always a pain in the ass but if you're not going to do that then why bother? Even Zinn says in The Book that he never gets it right on the first try. Too tight and it grinds. Too loose and, well, it's too loose. I don't think the hub is trash-worthy which is why I kept it. It's just a Shimano 105 series so I can probably find one on Ebay for $20 or even less if I take a risk on a used one. But that's a pretty big risk, say 50/50 on getting a winner.

Back to the bike. When I got out there I was feeling pretty good so I jumped off 512 and cut around the side/back of Allen road on a connecting street I had never ridden before. It was only a mile or so but it was a really gorgeous road. From there on it felt an even better ride. I climbed Allen then headed back home, opting to go through the Millington Gorge instead of the usual up and over the hill. Ended up with a 1:02 ride time.

I think I was lethargic getting on the bike today because the prospect of riding 60 minutes of swamp or 512 is boring. There's not a lot you can do with 60 minutes so it's hard to get excited about that kind of ride. Today's ride was nice. Perhaps I just need to be more creative. Somehow I've got it in my head that if I go out for any less than 90 minutes I'm wasting my time. I think too much.

One of my old Rutgers football buddies, FatCat, commented yesterday:

"Norm, I actually read your blog regularly but mostly because you are a good writer and I get my exercise vicariously through you. That's about all I have to add as my bike is rusting away in the shed right now. Oh, and you're G... never mind."

Hmmm, I wonder what he was going to say. Great? Garfield? Grandiloquent? No matter, I'm just happy to hear you still read. I figure you were one of the guys I killed with the bike topics. I would understand if that were the case. Even my wife stopped reading which is expected. She used to read when I talked about non-bike stuff. But then who has time to read when you're chasing around a kid announcing DADADADADADAD all day? She sees a picture of herself and yells, "DADA!"

Later in the day Terren added:

"Hey Norm, feeling better thanks, although a weekend in the city probably dragged things out longer than necessary. I've been running, not biking, and haven't been out in a week now, which sucks. Cher got sick too, worse than me. Livy thankfully was spared, but her molars are coming in now, which is great fun. Good luck with your bike repair. I'm looking for a decent bike shop as I need some substantial repairs on my MB, but at this point sounds like you'd struggle to recommend one."

Funny our daughter seems to shrug it off too. She actually got me sick and then got over it a few days later while I lived in my little beat down box for a week. Sucks that Cheryl also got sick but at least the little one was spared. Teeth are fun. Julia now has 8, only 12 more to go until they start dropping like flies. Funny expression since I've never seen a fly drop out of the air. I guess it's more socially acceptable than "Drop like a fat lady's bombers."

As for your bike let me take a look at it first. I'm sure I can save you some scratch on some basic details like your drive train and truing up your wheels and so on - the basic junk that shops will ring you up for. If there's anything I can't find the time for I can tell you specifically what to ask for at the shop. But since you have one of those Old Skool bikes without suspension there's not a lot of complexity there. More than likely your whole drivetrain is worn but if it's all worn together you can get away leaving it like it is, especially since its not a bike you ride 5 times a week. You can probably get away with a new chain, rear cassette, and maybe middle front ring for $100 or less.

There's a guy I ride with who lives out your way so I will ask him where he goes. But you know how I feel about bike shops right now so be warned. I called my most local shop a week ago and asked how much the bearing job would cost. They replied, "I don't know." How can you not fucking know? Absurd. At least my regular shop was able to quote me $45.

Later in the evening Steve commented not once but twice! First about my comments/turmoil post:

"great post, norm. kind of like listener appreciation day when the deejay plays the listener requests..."

Thanks! But more importantly thanks for the comments. If nobody read this thing then I'll never keep it up. It's great to have an audience even if they do collectively think you're Garfield. Or is it Grandiloquent?

Then he commented on yesterday's post:

"norm, i thought the rule of thumb was to hyphenate when using a compound modifier. keep up the the good work, my most-excellent blogger."

Not sure that the rules are to be honest. So I could go like blue-green and I would be much more hip than if I were to use turquoise or teal? Or perhaps I could throw out turquoise-teal in my meetings today and see the overwhelmed expressions on everyone's faces? Hmmm, seems a little racy to me. Maybe I'll just use purple and throw them all for a loop.

OK, time to strap on the meat helmet and jump into the work fire. Enjoy your Thursday.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cancel That Order

Yesterday I placed an order for a case of industrial strength Turmoil (TM), imported fresh-direct from the Middle East. After this morning's ride I'm going to cancel that order. Dropped the seat, made sure it was centered, and everything back to normal. While it might be early yet to proclaim victory there seems to be a 1-to-1 correlation between a higher saddle and various aches and pains.

Speaking of "fresh-direct" why do we seem to need to make up new words, slaughter old words, and hyphenate 2 ordinary words in an effort to make more of an impact? Frankly I find it fresh-annoying. I don't know who used the expression "fresh-direct" but I hope they go under soon. Whatever happened to "Choosy Moms Choose Jiff" or "Hamburger helper helps your hamburger make a great meal."?

Ok maybe that's a bit verbose. What about the directness of the Kool-Aid slogan? Oooooooooooh Yeeeeeeeeah!!! Good stuff, which is probably why our generation's teeth are all rotten now.

I was worried yesterday I might have tendinitis but after reading the pedantic wikipedia entry on it I was pretty sure it was not. Tendinitis sounds awful. After a search for "bike tendon pain" turned up a few pages on bike fit, I gave up worrying about it and decided to play it out this morning and see how it went.

I looked at the races of the hub I'm rebuilding again this morning and it seems I may have been a bit quick to judge it perfectly fine. The non-drive side is good but the drive side is questionable. I'm not sure if it's pitted out or if a thin layer of caked grease is on part of it. This is apparently common so I'll need to try and clean it up better to see if it comes off. I don't want to buy a new hub because if I do I'm going to want to spend the money on a good one, like a Shimano ultegra or, dare I say, Chris King. Then of course I absolutely need (read: not really) new spokes because the ones on there now are pretty heavy duty. Pick 2: light, strong, cheap. Mine are strong and cheap. Light and strong is the replacement direction.

And if I get a new hub and new spokes, well how far behind is the new rim? Let's talk about something less expensive. Walter said:

"I was going to comment on Mondays entry, specifically about your seat and post issues, as this is what I was getting at during our pm's, but then I realized that you were referring to the roadie and not the stumpy, so I didn't respond. Anyway, here is your proof that I read, I feel like I'm at my therapist being forced to talk about my feelings...Keep up the good work, I'll chime in whenever I can."

Does this mean you're The Man Behind the Mask? You could have kept being anonymous I was just wondering if it was a mapmyride employee searching daily for "bike route toaster" and commenting to draw traffic. So much of what you see on the Internet is not what it seems you never really know. For instance, I'm a 12 foot tall Indonesian shoe cobbler.

Speaking of the Stumpy I got my bearings yesterday. Such a small package for such a large number of dollars. When I got home I asked my wife where it was, to which she replied, "I don't know on the floor somewhere she was playing with them." Still in the box of course but just about anything is free game for the Tornado, a nickname more apt every day. When she gets tired at night she doesn't get cranky, she runs around the house making war cries and generally undoing any organization we've managed to bring to the house in the last few hours. When she gets really out of her gourd she begins to whine, at which point one of us will say, "Are you ready for bed?" She will stop, stare blankly, then walk off to the bedroom by herself. Awesome stuff really, especially since she's only 14 months old.

I'm excited yet hesitant to do the bearing job. If it all works out I'll probably go and order another backup set to have on hand. It sucks to be hung like this for so long. The trick is that bearing cartridges like this don't just pop in and out. They fit very snugly so you need a press to get them in. Most of the DIY crowd use a home-rigged tool of a bolt, some washers, and some sockets to press it in. This is why I bought an extra bearing in the event I screw it up.

In any event thanks for commenting Walter. Some bloggers reply to the comments in the comment section of the post but I don't get enough traffic for that to be the case. So all brave commenting souls get personal attention here.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Feedback and Turmoil

I've been getting a lot (for me) of reader feedback lately which is super cool. I mean this blog has been around for like 2 years and all I ever got was spam. So to get real feedback is nice, as opposed to people pointing me to websites about penis growth. So today's post is about reader feedback, then some biking at the end.

Somehow Cliffy has started reading the site again. He and Woody were the only ones for a long, long time. I assumed they both stopped reading a while ago but it appears I was wrong.


Let's see you weigh your clothes before the ride, let them dry after the ride and weigh them again.

There are 2 problems with this. The first is that much of the water weight you lose comes out through your breath. The second is that I wear actual bike-specific clothing now which holds very little water. So most of what I sweat evaporates. The accepted method is to weigh yourself before and after then subtract all the water you drink on the ride. This will give your sweat rate though I don't know where to count the amount you pee.


what, no love for jake today? bah! post your four bridges ride will ya. i'm curious about your take on it (as i have been for oh, four months now) i'd like a different 40ish loop.

Hey you got mention, I told you to drop the parachute. Good to see that you decided to race the LMC after all. I'm still unsure of that race. I'm thinking some of the more exciting courses. Maybe one of the NY State ones and the Ringwood race almost for sure. Maybe LMC as well. Who knows my life moves in days now if not hours.

thanks for your take on north four bridges. i think there are two briges...but i won't figure that out 'til next week when i get up early and ride past your front door. :)

Well I'm glad you enjoyed the review. If you're really going to do that loop let me make some edits to it. There's a road I would swap out and I would cut the loop at Cross Road. Going to my house then back would be kinda silly. If you want I can make up a crs for you to load on your 305. It wasn't my favorite loop in total. Didn't really like the Chester stuff through town and the route 24 stuff is tolerable but obviously nothing great. But I really didn't want to make it a 50+ mile loop.


good to hear you are going to start crushing edges again! I am at about 95% and am backing into the biking thing tomorrow. The next week will be all steady road stuff. I am still taking prednisone, which shoots my resting heart rate up over 25 points. I am apprehensive about those effects, constantly moving in and out of the aerobic zone in the woods.

Yeah I've been waiting to make the "I ride for a team" post and it will be titled I Crush Edges! Good luck with getting back on the bike. This has been another bitch of a cold for me. Monday at work was pretty good but a light headache permeates from time to time. So I'm also working back into it slowly. My CTL (long term training load) dropped like a brick in the last week, from 107 to 98. That sucks because it takes a lot of work to get it there.


Yea...yea...Switzerland....not Suisse.You make one tiny euro-elitist comment..and they are all over to hear you are feeling a bit better.I will try to enjoy the suffering of das climbs...hope you do too, you vertical addicted maniac.

Yeah better now but not best. I do have some absurd mania for climbing these days. I remember when I lived near Watchung Reservation I used to do a ton of climbing and it made me really strong at it, even at 190 pounds. I still don't feel I'm at a good climbing strength now even though I almost have to be compared to then. Anyway enjoy yourself out there.


You can also try plotting your routes on - Topo maps, auto routing (ie, follow roads), gps imports direct from device, as well as cue sheets!

You're not going to get much love with a name like that. But hey, if you want to be The Man Behind the Mask that's cool. About mapmyride, that's great but they took a major hit when I plotted out the big 50+ mile Califon route and tried to download it. It brought me to a registration page. Ouchy. Course gone and patience done. I closed the window. It was a fine interface but that pissed me off. Definition of User Unfriendly. I'll try again later after I register, unless it costs me money in which case I won't.

I gotta be honest that comment sounds like marketing. So if you really do read the blog you should comment again to convince me otherwise.

There are the recent comments. Outstanding! I enjoy it so keep 'em coming. On to biking.

Today's ride was garbage. I'll be honest I'm having a real hard time getting motivated right now. I'm still sick but only slightly, and not enough to make that much of a difference. The odd thing is that both before and after I felt great. But on the bike is shit right now.

I have a King Kong sized saddle sore which doesn't help. But I also still have that left knee/hamstring pain. When I was done with the ride I dropped the saddle back down and made sure it was centered. Hopefully that helps for tomorrow. If not, I really don't know what I'll do. Bridge to be crossed if/when encountered.

On motivation, well today's ride was just tempo in the swamp, 20 quick miles of pancake flat road except for the hill to get in and out. No ride link because the GPS buys me nothing on a ride like this so I left it home. This is a really boring ride and maybe that's part of the problem.

I may be dialing it down a little from here on in. I've built a good base thus far but like I said, motivation is hurting today. I may need to add a little extra sleep each day and cut a bit of ride time. Or maybe keep 2 hefty weekday rides and cut out the Wednesday.

My power also sucked ass this morning. But that may be due to low motivation, knee pain, and not eating anything before the ride. I'm looking to drop some more pounds now, or rather to drop some of the pounds I've put on in the last month. Everyone said it's real easy to gain weight in the high volume season and my average had creeped up from a low of 184 to 188 over the last few months. During my sick week it blew up to 193, 5 pounds in a single week. I've come down off that a bit but not a 5 pound drop. It never magically comes off like it goes on.

So I'm looking to back off my "performance eating" which means when I leave the house at 5:30 with nothing to eat and 100 calories of Heed I'm not going to ramp up to my expected power that well.

There's my season in turmoil. This should have been a post on its own but I'm all about SOC so there ya go.

Pulled apart the hubs last night and this morning and the races look great. No need to replace the hub. I may look to buy a good pair if I can find them on EBay over the next few months but if this overhaul works out there's probably not much need to. A light set of spokes would be nice but I'm not sure I want to pull the wheel apart for that.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Don't Call It A Comeback

I been here for years. Or months at least.

I love that LL Cool J song. Perry Farrell used to listen to that before he went out to perform live. It's always been one of my favorite "pump me up" songs. That and The Day the Niggaz Took Over by Dr. Dre. Talk about a song that really gets the blood flowing. Alternately, talk about a song that really makes you want to go out and pump someone full of lead.

But since this is a bike oriented blog we'll say that these songs are good to listen to before you race XC. Another one would be Mountain Song by Jane's Addiction. The 1-2 punch of Summertime Rolls followed by Mountain Song is fantastic. No better song combination exists, IMO. Now there's a combo that makes you want to sit in a field with a bunch of beautiful souls, drinking in the warm sunshine, and simply be. Then when the second song comes on you can pump them all full of lead. Or, race your bike. Your choice.

By Friday afternoon I was really anxious to get on the bike. Sometime in the afternoon I realized I never took my last 2 doses of medicine and felt just peachy. It was then I decided to do the Four Bridges ride on Saturday and hope for the best to bang out the Califon loop Sunday. On the train ride home I listened to some Wilco (A Ghost is Born) and just really looked forward to the weekend. Good vibes going into it.

Well the day was beautiful but windy. I took it easy to start because I really had no idea what was in the tank. I'll give you 2 links to start. First the mtbnj assessment I did of Four Bridges for Jake. Then the standard motionbased ride link here.

Were there actually 4 bridges on the road? I can't say but I didn't remember 4. I remember maybe 2, at least 1. But then I was actually on North Four Bridges road for the climb. Nice area and I think all in all takes the second spot on my Hill Climb Project. Many more details in the mtbnj link.

A few other ride notes. My lungs were not ready for this. My legs felt pretty good though on the steepest climbs I had absolutely no top-top end at all. On the second half of the ride I was able to ride more aggressively and push the ride average from 15.2 to 16.6 but I don't know if that was the best idea since I had a headache for most of the rest of the day. We were at a neighbor's house and I hadn't taken any medicine when I first felt it coming on. By the time we got home it was a brutal headache and Advil did little to help at that point.

I do have minor allergies and last week was mostly a sinus thing so I think the combo triggered it all to come out again. Therefore I did the smart thing Sunday...and went for another ride. But I made it a long swamp loop, 23 miles, instead of the brutal Califon loop. Ride link here.

I raised my seat a hair (1/4 inch? 1/2 inch?) before Saturday's ride because last week it seemed maybe I was just a bit too low. It felt better but my left knee kept bugging me so I don't think that's the perfect height either. Feels pretty damn close though. I may have put the seat back a bit crooked because my left butt was hurting like hell by the end of Sunday's ride. The longer and harder you ride the more these minor details become apparent.

I also managed to finish up the old Rolf Vector wheels Sunday morning while the family slept. I didn't do any early morning riding either day because it's clear I'm not totally over being sick. This week is thus going to be my "hold" week to get back in the groove and so on. The benefit of that is that I get some guilt-free time to work on my bike in the basement, an area that's looking more and more like a bike shop every week.

The first thing I noticed about the Rolfs was before I even got on the bike. The bike shop had said years ago that my frame was bent, which explained why my tire was a mere millimeters from my chainstay. I took it at face value. Big mistake. When I put the rear Rolf in, it was dead fucking center. I had trued it as best I could. It still wobbled a hair and with a reduced spoke count it's harder to make the slightly bent rim completely true. Well much to my surprise it went in smoothly, dead center on the frame, and much better than the old wheel.

This is a different bike shop than I've gone to recently. So the question is, are any bike shops competent? When I put the wheel on the truing stand before work this morning, it was absurdly out of dish (uncentered). Wow, and wow. The fact of the matter is that you're never going to get the same attention to detail unless you do it yourself. And if you go to a high volume shop in the summer, chances are you're going to have a kid with no experience working on it.

Anyway, coming down the first hill on the new/old wheels I could immediately feel they had much less rolling resistance in the hub bearings. I'm going to repack the hubs I have but I tend to doubt they're going to be as high-quality as the Rolfs. Just as long as the Rolfs stay true after a few rides I'll probably keep them on there. We'll see but maybe I can find a nicer hub for the Mavic rims I have, which will be mandatory if the races are pitted out. Or maybe I'll look into a lighter/stronger spoke set. I'm sure the ones they put on are strong but heavy. But then if I'm going to take the wheel apart it begs the question if I should just build up a new wheel. OTOH if the Mavic rim is fine no sense tossing it since hubs and spokes are cheap. I could end up with 2 quality wheelsets for under $100. Can't beat that with a bat.

Tomorrow I'll tackle some of the comments which have been great. Long day at work today so I got to "sleep in" until 6:30. Might not get home until 8:00 tonight. Blah and blah.

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