Category Archives: Special School

Where did our traffic come from?

Local_of_traffic_2016-01_1104

Just for your information this is where our traffic in January 2016 came from as far as country goes.  I would suppose that reflects where the Autistic cases are combined with the availability of Internet access.  As you can see we get a good amount of traffic even though Google sends us virtually no traffic.

Treating Fragile X Syndrome Symptoms By Boosting Natural Marijuana-Like Brain Chemicals

Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Anxiety / Stress;  Psychology / Psychiatry
Article Date: 27 Sep 2012 – 0:00 PDT Current ratings for:
Treating Fragile X Syndrome Symptoms By Boosting Natural Marijuana-Like Brain Chemicals
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American and European scientists have found that increasing natural marijuana-like chemicals in the brain can help correct behavioral issues related to fragile X syndrome, the most common known genetic cause of autism.

The work indicates potential treatments for anxiety and cognitive defects in people with this condition. Results appear online in Nature Communications.

Daniele Piomelli of UC Irvine and Olivier Manzoni of INSERM, the French national research agency, led the study, which identified compounds that inhibit enzymes blocking endocannabinoid transmitters called 2-AG in the striatum and cortex regions of the brain.

These transmitters allow for the efficient transport of electrical signals at synapses, structures through which information passes between neurons. In fragile X syndrome, regional synapse communication is severely limited, giving rise to certain cognitive and behavioral problems.

Fragile X syndrome is caused by a mutation of the FMR1 gene on the X chromosome. People born with it are mentally disabled; generally experience crawling, walking and language delays; tend to avoid eye contact; may be hyperactive or impulsive; and have such notable physical characteristics as an elongated face, flat feet and large ears.

The researchers stress that their findings, while promising, do not point to a cure for the condition.

“What we hope is to one day increase the ability of people with fragile X syndrome to socialize and engage in normal cognitive functions,” said Piomelli, a UCI professor of anatomy & neurobiology and the Louise Turner Arnold Chair in the Neurosciences.

The study involved mice genetically altered with FMR1 mutations that exhibited symptoms of fragile X syndrome. Treated with novel compounds that correct 2-AG protein signaling in brain cells, these mice showed dramatic behavioral improvements in maze tests measuring anxiety and open-space acceptance.

While other work has focused on pharmacological treatments for behavioral issues associated with fragile X syndrome, Piomelli noted that this is the first to identify the role endocannabinoids play in the neurobiology of the condition.

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. Kwang-Mook Jung and Nicholas DiPatrizio of UCI; Marja Sepers, Olivier Lassalle, Daniela Neuhofer, Henry Martin, Melanie Ginger and Andreas Frick of INSERM; and Christopher Henstridge and Istvan Katona of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences contributed to the study, which received support from INSERM and the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant number DA-012447).
University of California – Irvine Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

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The Distinguished Frankencat

I have this super awesome cat named Denali. She is awesome. SUPER awesome.

This is her:

OH MY GOD, LOOK AT HER. SUPER AWESOME, RIGHT?

She was my sister’s cat until my sister moved in with the woman whom she would eventually marry and who is deathly (I’m not kidding about that. Really. DEATHLY.) allergic to cats. Denali lost the power struggle between human love and cat love. It probably worked out for the best for my sister.

It definitely worked out best for me, because I got Denali.

Denali is persnickety. She ONLY liked my sister for a long time. Then she ONLY liked me. Now she likes Alex too. Although we still laugh about the night that Alex was sleeping because it was 3 am and Denali, who sleeps on my pillow above my head, freaked out for absolutely no reason and started attacking Alex’s head.

This is only made funnier by the fact that Denali is a polydactyl cat, meaning she has a ton of extra toes on each foot, making her gigantic paw attacks even more deadly.

Denali, however, does NOT care for the children. I should repeat that. DENALI DOES NOT CARE FOR THE CHILDREN.

She used to hang out under our bunk beds and if I asked my kids to crawl under there to pick up toys, they would start sobbing about how they were afraid of Denali. She made her feelings about kids known.

She hangs out upstairs all day and only comes down after the kids go to bed. If a child gets within, say, about three feet of her, she starts hissing. Every once in a while, a kid will wander into the room after their bedtime, catching Denali with her proverbial pants down. Sometimes, if Alex or I has her on one of our laps, we’ll let them pet her, because she is less likely to strike at them if we are holding her.

An angrier cat you have never seen when that happens. She flattens her little ears and manages to look more put out than you’d think would be possible considering she is incapable of frowning.

All of this information about Denali is to preface the fact that she had, like, a ping pong ball-sized cancerous tumor that I found a couple of weeks ago and she had surgery Monday to have it removed.

My kids are totally flipped out about it. Sam says he’s never going to touch her again. (From inside Denali’s head: “I should have done this YEARS ago!”) I think they heard us explain surgery and fixated on the “cut her open” bit. In their minds, I believe that they think that her incision site is at risk of popping open at any time for the rest of her life.

Kind of like a real life, furry piñata. Only instead of candy, there is blood and organs.

This is why I have to hide the cat from them until her fur grows back, because they will not do well if they run into Denali 2.0: Frankencat.

Denali: “Why must you humiliate me on the interwebz?”

I’m happy to report that she seems to be doing well. We napped for a long time together this afternoon. Her presence made me feel like I was being a good cat mom instead of a loser who can’t keep her eyes open for more than three hours at a stretch. The dog slept with us too. But she is legitimately a layabout.

I might have to help her recuperate tomorrow also. It depends how tired I am.

Cross your fingers that her recovery is smooth and that her cancer is gone.

*****

Also, over at White Knuckle Parenting this week, I wrote about the constant running narrative about good manners that I force my kids to listen to in public. If I have to say, “Look out for people!” fewer than 15 times a day, it is likely that we haven’t left the house.

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An Emotional Evening in Stimeyland

Tonight was back-to-school night at Jack’s school. This is the third back-to-school night I’ve been to in a week. It has been a little hectic. Also, at back-to-school night for 5th graders in the highly gifted program (Sam, yesterday), the evident goal is to make all the parents FREAK THE FUCK OUT over applying to highly gifted middle schools.

Mission accomplished.

But this isn’t that post. This is about Jack’s back-to-school night, which was cool. Half of his class showed up, so there were three of us in the room. I also got to see the lava lamp by the teacher’s desk that Jack is obsessed with.

But this isn’t that post either. This is about the instrumental music meeting that took place before the class meeting. Kids have the option of playing an instrument in 4th grade. I was kind of dreading Jack wanting to play an instrument because I was imagining epic battles during practice time.

I asked him though if he wanted to play an instrument though, because he gets to choose if he wants to play an instrument. He said he didn’t want to. But then he came home a few days later with a sheet on which was written and circled, “DRUMS.”

Because of course.

I spent a little while mourning my quiet house and then I started to get excited. And Jack was excited. And I was excited that Jack was excited. And I figured that this is something he might actually like to practice. Because that kid LOVES drums. I have a photo of him with every single street performer drumming on buckets that we have ever passed.

I showed up for the instrumental music meeting tonight all excited to learn what kind of drum we had to procure for practice. What I learned instead was the philosophy behind not offering drums as an instrumental music option in elementary school, which is weird, because it was an adult who wrote “DRUMS” on his page and circled it.

I went to the hallway and texted Alex to tell him that Jack couldn’t take drums and then I stared at my phone a little more, trying to pretend that I wasn’t broken up.

Because Jack was excited about something that would take extra work and he still wanted to do it. I don’t give a shit if elementary schools don’t want to offer drums. But don’t write down “DRUMS” and then tell the autistic kid he can’t play them. I was already dreading the conversation with him. I imagined it was going to involve across the board disappointment.

Then a nice lady who turned out to be the art teacher saw me looking sad and said, “Are you okay?”

And….

Then she took me to see the (non-instrumental) music teacher who gave me a tissue and I cried even harder, because they were SO nice to me. And they both listened to me and told me they’d met Jack and the music teacher told me how Jack had played the African drums in music and was totally into them and how she could totally see that music is important to him and this all made me cry even more and then she told me about the percussion class they hold once a week before school starting in October.

How great is that? That might be even better than instrumental music drumming. They’re going to have a DRUM CIRCLE.

I managed to pull myself together in time for the full-fourth grade presentation at which they showed a slide that said, “Homework, participation, effort, and work study skills are not factored into grades,” followed by a list of tests and “informal observations” that ARE factored into grades.

I was more than pleased to see that homework thing, but the rest of that sentence was baffling to me. I guess you can’t have percussion class AND A’s (or B+’s) for effort all in one school.

Now, lest you think I hogged all of the emotional drama of the evening, you should know that a squirrel drowned in our swimming pool. Alex texted me a photo of the funeral.

Alex also texted me a photo of the squorpse, but I won’t subject you to that.*

This was all taking place at the same time as back-to-school night. See, we’re draining our pool right now and there’s only a few inches of water in it now, so there isn’t a cover on it. I’ve seen squirrels balancing on the edge of it, but I assumed that because squirrels can jump from one tiny branch to another tiny branch in a different tree that they wouldn’t fall into the swimming pool.

I was wrong.

The children fished the squirrel out with our pool net.

Related: We might need a new pool net.

Alex dug a grave, Quinn and Sam gathered flowers, and Alex presided over the funeral at which all four mourners said some words for the squirrel. (Jack: “Poor guy.” Quinn: “He was a good squirrel.”)

Rest in peace, wild squorpse.**

Welcome to Stimeyland, the home of many, many, MANY buried, deceased rodents, as well as a good number of tears. If we ever sell our house, we’re going to have to disclose that our yard is full of tiny, buried rodent skeletons.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better for everyone. Especially the squirrels.

* Squorpse: This term was originally coined by KC. I will probably never give her credit for it again. Tell everyone you know that I made it up.

** I totally invented the term “squorpse.”

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Collaboration, Q-ball Style

Without question, my favorite thing about sending my kids to school is their written work. You might already know this if you were around for the Things Come Out of My Brain series of 2010 and 2011 (Part I, Part II, Part III) as well as the many other worksheets I’ve photographed and made you look at.I’m about to do it again. Evidently “collaboration” is one of Quinn’s vocabulary words, which is kind of super awesome. What is even more awesome is his sentence/picture example of the word, which he hasn’t even turned in yet, but I had to take a photo in case it never came home.

This is good stuff, people. Pay attention.

“I’m going to pull your head out of the ground.”

See how those two dudes are collaborating on pulling that upside down guy out of the ground before the fireball crushes all of them?

Coming soon to a dictionary near you.

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My 3:30 A.M. Shitlist

I woke up in a really bad mood today. Mostly because I woke up at 3:30 am.

I know there are some of you out there who have kids who don’t sleep through the night or have other reasons why you don’t get a billion hours of sleep every night like I do, and, holy hell, I am sooo sorry, because, Jeebus, if I am woken up before 7:30 at the earliest, there be hell to pay.

The blame this morning was widespread and angrifying. 

My dog put her front paws on my bed, woke me up with her big, annoying dog face, and then immediately peed on the floor. It was at this point that I became aware of a beeping that sounded suspiciously like one of the fifteen million and six smoke detectors that exist in my house.

I think you can guess how it went from there. Three devices later, I finally found the one with the dead batteries. It was the carbon monoxide detector. 

Funny story: This one time my carbon monoxide detector went off and I didn’t know what to do, so I read the instructions on the detector itself, which said something to the effect of “surround with fresh air.” At this point, I went to the back sliding door, opened it, put my hand holding the detector outside, and waited for it to stop beeping. 

In retrospect, my actions may have been a sign of the carbon monoxide poisoning.

Anyway, back to this morning. It was 3:40 am. My dog had been outside, where she took a quick lap around a tree and came right back in (Because, you know, she’d already peed right next to my bed.) and I started to think about going back up to bed, where it would smell like dog pee and sound like Alex snoring—he has some sort of…illness…sinusitis…consumption? All I really know is that it makes him snore, which pisses me off.

I decided to sleep on the couch instead, which didn’t work out very well. If I wake up at 3:30, I have a hard time falling asleep, which is weird, because I can sleep at literally any other time of the day. I had just dozed off around 4:30, when the lights flipped on as Quinn wandered through on his way to take my spot in bed, as he is wont to do early in the morning.

So then I moved to Quinn’s bed because it is more comfortable than the couch, which was great. Right until Sam’s alarm clock went off at 6:30. He completely slept through it, but it woke me up in the next room. The problem is that I didn’t know how to turn it off, so I had to hit snooze and then when it went off nine minutes later, I had to do the whole thing all over again. He finally woke up when I was cursing and trying to pull the whole goddamn thing out of the wall.

Happily, there was no school today, so I could let my kids mill around me while I slept in a little bit this morning. 

But still I’m surly. This post turned out to be a long way to say what was originally supposed to be just this: I hate everything.

*****

But, do you know what I was looking forward to today? The premiere of Flummox and Friends! You guys, this show is awesome! My kids loved it. Jack is already scripting bits of it. Watch it, share it, script it, complete the survey on the Flummox website!

I wrote about it for Autism Unexpected. You can read my column about it or you can just watch the show. The show is better than my column. 

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Running

Oh, you guys. You may have noticed that my site is a little…wonky. I’m working some shit out. Bear with me. Hopefully I”ll be all up and running smoothly by the end of the weekend. Before that, though, I am running my first race in a decade tomorrow.

If you’ll be at the Kensington 8k tomorrow, say hi! You’ll recognize me based on my Stimeyland t-shirt and my number 238, which is actually a number that has been kind of following me since my freshman year of college.

Two three eight! Two three eight!

You’ll also know me because I’ll likely be in the very back of the pack of runners. And bright red. Wish me luck.

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Running, Weight & Zombies

Yesterday, two people told me—at two different times—that I looked like I had lost weight. I then took this information to Alex to confirm, which is always a sketchy proposition, because, really, what is he going to say? (He confirmed, with a specific about my ass.)

This is actually news to me because, although I have been running, I don’t weigh myself. I don’t weigh myself because, you know, ICK. No one wants to see that number. Also, it is incredibly demoralizing to follow it closely. Not to mention that the numbers don’t tell you the whole story of what your body is doing.

I don’t see the change in my body. Maybe this is because I have a negative self-image or because I have little to no ability to objectively look at myself. Maybe I’m just not spending enough time looking in a mirror. Maybe it’s just that I was wearing good clothes yesterday. Maybe my body is simply rearranging its current weight into a more pleasing configuration.

What is likely happening is that my fatty parts are shrinking and my muscly parts are growing.

See, while I don’t track my weight and I haven’t seen changes in the mirror, I HAVE noticed that I was able to semi-rapidly transport myself on foot from my house to Sam’s soccer game yesterday, a distance of nearly four miles. I HAVE noticed that I can now reliably go for a 3+ mile run in the evening with only a short walking interval in the middle.

(I have also noticed that it is much harder to run in the middle of the day—say, at a time when soccer games are played—when it is 90 degrees outside.)

I am running to lose weight, but also to get fit. I’m thrilled that people are seeing positive changes in me, but even more, I am proud that my body is so much stronger than it was a few months ago. Last spring, running for two minutes intervals on my treadmill was a killer. Now, I feel confident that I could run a 5k with no problem.

It would be a SLOW 5k, but I could do it.

I think that is cool.

Here’s the thing. I am a runner. I used to run daily. I loved it. I have always been a runner, even though I haven’t always run. I have gone long stretches, years even, without running, but never does my body feel better than when I run every day. I started up again last spring, in a largely on and off fashion.

I’m trying to be a lot more strict with myself about how often I run. I figure that success begets success, right? Tell me I look like I’ve lost weight and I will try to run to my kid’s soccer game later that day. Tell me I’m awesome for trying to run to my kid’s soccer game and I will get up the next morning and run a two and a half-plus mile loop before Alex even wakes up. Let me run a two and half-plus mile loop in the morning, and I’ll buy a grilled chicken wrap at the doughnut store for lunch instead of a doughnut.

Or three doughnuts each, if you’re my kids.

Also, I have to run more regularly because I was dumb enough to sign up for the Run For Your Lives race in late October. This is a 5k obstacle race that features people dressed up like zombies who try to catch you. The zombies will not care about my progress or the fact that I CAN run a 5k. They will just care that I can run a SLOW 5k.

I’m a little panicked about that. I spend most of my runs these days worrying about whether I will be faster than the zombies and also wondering if I will be facing shambling zombies or running zombies. It seems more sporting to have them be shamblers, but the zombie apocalypse has never been about sportsmanship.

To train, I’ve been running using the Zombies, Run app. It seems appropriate.

Part of my new, healthy regimen involves going to bed at 10 or 11 pm every night. I miss 1 am a lot. That 11pm to 2 am time was Stimey Time. BUT, I also feel a lot better about myself when I don’t nap for three hours during the day. Also, I run faster and feel less like I’m going to fall down when I’m less tired. That said, I’m off to bed. See you tomorrow—after my run. I might try to add a half mile to the loop I ran this morning.

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The Turtle

I’m not going to keep you in suspense about my 8k race.

(1) I finished.
(2) I ran the whole thing.
(3) I finished 621st out of 627 runners.

Oh, yes, I did.

In case you are wondering, I am the turtle referred to in the title up there. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it sure as hell finished it. I am really, really (really) proud of myself.

Check me out as I crossed the finish line:

Stimey crosses the finish line! Actually, this is me re-creating my crossing the finish line for my friend Barrie who was took this super flattering photo.

I had an amazing time. Alex took Jack to hockey and Quinn to gymnastics and I headed out to the race by myself. I was so happy though to have my own support team there to take care of me. My friend Lindsay was there with her kids to run the 2-mile fun run and they stayed for me. Amazing.

My friend Emily made a sign to cheer me on and she rooted for me from two different places on the race route. Phenomenal.

My friend Melissa decided to race too and she kicked some ass. I saw her run off in front of me at the start line. I didn’t see her again until the end. She’s my inspiration.

Lindsay and Melissa, each joined by her kids, ran me in the last stretch. It was really wonderful. Although I’m a little mad at Melissa’s daughter, however, for leaving me in her dust in the last meters before the finish line. Evidently, she is still claiming to have won the race. That’s her in that photo above. I think she might be wondering why *I* am having my photo taken when clearly *she* is the one who won.

Then there were the people who stayed on the race course long after the fast runners, medium runners, and slow runners went by to cheer on the stragglers. I got a little teary around mile four when I ran past, among others, a guy emphatically clapping for me on his porch. People are nice.

I also learned that if you are one of the laaaaaaast people across the finish line, everyone cheers really loud for you and your sticktoitiveness.

Support like that is even more awesome than 8-minute miles.

I mean, I assume. I wouldn’t know for sure. It’ll be a long time before I run an 8-minute mile.

An 8k is aaaaalllmost 5 miles and I ran it in about an hour and 12 minutes, which means I ran about fourteen-and-a-half minute miles, which sounds about right. The GPS on my phone thinks I ran farther and faster than I actually did, which makes me kind of love the GPS. I mean, it was awesome to hear in my headphones: “You have run one point zero miles at 13 minutes and four seconds per mile.” Once it got to five miles though, and I still had nearly a mile to go, I started to wonder about its accuracy.

Stimey's 5.71-mile 8k There are many funky things going on in this phone screenshot.

Let’s start at the top.

(1) 5.71 miles? That would make me awesome, but I don’t think I zigzagged along the racecourse enough to add a whole three-quarters of a mile to the route. I might need to invest in a better, non-iPhone-app GPS.

(2) Run/Jog: At least it didn’t peg my speed as “walk,” but way to twist the knife a little, Map My Run, with that, “Well, you’re not reeealllly running, are you now, Stimey?” dig.

(3) Again with the 5.71 miles. Yes. I know. You think I’m awesome, but you don’t have to lie to me twice.

(4) I started and stopped the app a little on the outside of my run, which added the extra time, but I DO appreciate the little gold trophy. Maybe they gave it to me because I ran so many damn miles. (5.71 of them.)

(5) A Burt’s Bees Facebook contest?! I should click that!

I had to scroll down and take a different screenshot for my next set of stats.

Stimey's race stats I know you’re bored. But if you let me get it all out today, then I won’t talk about it for the next six months.

I’m not sure at what point I was running nearly 18 miles an hour, but good for me! I think my 3:22 min/mi pace might put me in some record books too. Either I’m not smart enough to understand these stats, or I actually won the race and the reason I was running by myself was because I was so goddamned fast.

I’m going to go with the latter.

Frankly, even a 13 minute mile is pretty outlandish for me.

Okay. So thems the basics. Some other stuff happened too. Let’s see. Here are some of them:

• When I got a text from Alex 15 minutes before the race was too start I was all, “Awwww, he’s texting to wish me good luck!” But he was really texting me to find out if I knew the wifi password at the hockey rink. I eventually forgave him, but only because he toted the children around all morning and then rubbed my back later.

• When that racewalker passed me at the half-mile mark and I never saw her again, I started to realize that I run just about as fast as most people walk. In fact, my race friends (although I don’t think they knew that’s who they were) were two women, one who stayed mostly ahead of me and one who stayed mostly behind me, who were walk/running the race and stayed at just about the same pace as my steady shuffle.

• There was a short stretch of road near the midpoint turnaround where I actually saw other runners because we were running on the same road. I was excited to get to the turnaround and see how many people were behind me. Yes, a million people passed me and a million people started and stayed in front of me, but I was sure that I couldn’t possibly be the slowest runner to have registered for the race. I was right. There were…several racers behind me. Like, at least 10—as well as the truck that picks up collapsed runners and cones to reopen the streets. I felt a little bit like that truck was a vulture circling around me.

• Also, can we talk about water stations for a minute? I run with a water bottle, because it helps me to run, but I got a cup of water at both water stations because I don’t pass up anything that is free. My question is, can someone tell me how you’re supposed to drink from a cup when you’re running? Even if you’re running slowly? At the first table, I took the water and promptly spilled it all over myself. Then I tossed my cup on the ground with all the other cups and felt like a criminal for littering. I think throwing cups on the ground was the hardest part of my race. The only time I walked was at the second water station, when it took me about ten feet to drink my water. And then, because it was so late in the race, there was already a lady sweeping up the cups. So I had to basically throw my cup AT her, which made me feel not just like a criminal, but an asshole criminal.

• I am super awesome. I ran an 8k.

You just wait until next year, Kensington 8k. I’m coming for you. And next time, I’m going to be one of the first 600 people to finish.

*****

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The Lazy Woman’s Way to Blog

This whole going to bed near 10 pm is killing my blog. I write at midnight. It’s what I do. HOW DO YOU PEOPLE WRITE DURING THE DAY? IN THE LIGHT? WITHOUT WATCHING RERUNS OF TORCHWOOD ON NETFLIX?

Or that might be specific to me.

It is 9:24pm  and I am TIRED. This never used to happen to me. Fuck you, regular sleep schedule.

That said, I’ve only blogged…oh, dear lord, once? this week, so I found some more funny stuff from my kids to entertain you.

This first is a drawing by Jack from last year. I am under the impression that he thought school was hard work. Seriously. That little sketch (it is about an inch square) conveys more feeling than a billion words.

I should take this to IEP meetings.

Then there is Sam. At back to school night, I took a quick spin through his math classroom. On one wall, all the kids had written and illustrated rules. This was Sam’s:

This is a kid who needs to go on a bender.

Speaking of responsible people, next up I have Quinn’s definition and illustration of “responsible,” which is nothing like Sam. In fact, he took it in more of a “I was responsible for killing 16 people” kind of way instead of “I am responsible because I do my homework” kind of way.

“Some guy almost got squashed.”

I’m guessing that Quinn is the guy who is all, “Oops.”

Aaaand there you have volume two of “I’m going to let my kids blog for me this month.”

*****

Also, are your kids the worst? Because mine are. I have laid out eleven reasons why they are.

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