Thursday, April 30, 2009

Money Out, and More Money Out.

With an appointment for scheduled maintenance on the car for today I took the entire day off. Figuring it would be wise to get it out of the way before the tourist season begins. Since it's a rather long drive - more than I usually drive, anyway - so I loaded the CD changer and hit the road. The appointment was at 8 am, and the dealership is about 30 miles away, so I relaxed setting the cruise control and listening to a few discs on the way.

The maintenance took an hour longer than usual, because they needed to do an alignment as the tires were beginning to 'feather' on the outer edges. Otherwise the tires, and everything else is in perfect condition. The alignment bumped up the charges to over $300.00 but I figured with all the road work and other obstructions experienced over the past 2 years, it was worth it. This was the 15K mile assessment - checking wear on everything, including the health of all fluids; tire wear, etc. - and the vehicle passed with flying colours.

So with a slight whimper, I paid the bill and headed back to the beach to run a few errands, then back to the apartment for some rest.

All that changed about 10 miles down the road when the CD player, attempting to change from disc 5 to disc 6, stopped completely and reverted to the radio. Puzzled, I hit the CD play button again to be greeted with an "error 3" message and immediately pulled off the road to investigate. Scanning the owners manual I discovered that error 3 meant that there was an internal mechanical problem which also meant that the discs could not be ejected from the changer. Great! Just GREAT!!!

Getting back to town I drove to the dealership of the friend who sold me the car. He came out and tried to figure out what, if anything, he could decipher.

Verdict: a visit to an Auto Audio guru he knows, and off I went. Said guru assessed the situation and said that he was surprised that the unit lasted as long as it had. Options were, 1.) remove the unit and send to a licensed Toyota repair specialist, which would take 2 weeks for an evaluation and disc removal with the clock ticking at $300.00 or, 2.) replace the unit with a new single disc player, but with iPod and USB ports which he could install for about $200.00. I chose the latter. It took about an hour after I chose the right unit for my simple needs and I was on my way again with new and better sound.

I skipped the errands and drove directly to the apartment; reevaluated these decisions (second guess myself) and had some lunch. By this time is was after 2 pm and I had only toast before setting out this morning. I didn't hyperventilate, but had serious concerns about having done the right thing. I did. No doubt about it. Music is a important part of my life and I couldn't bear listening to the jabber and BS on commercial music stations.

Having spent a little over $500.00 of someone else's money I will be spending my days off in relative seclusion for the next 2 or 3 months, which is fine because the tourist season begins in May and I will (hopefully) be working my butt off all summer. Please, G*d!

More later.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NC Rep. Calls Matthew Shepard Hate Crime "A Hoax"

Glue sniffing, illiterate Congresswoman makes a dumb-ass statement about the already debunked story linked to Matthew's murder. This crap continues to sicken and anger me, and as I get older I find less and less patience for this kind of stupidity and wanton blissful ignorance.

First, there's this:

Summary: On April 29, 2009, in a speech on the House floor, Rep. Virginia Foxx claimed that Matthew Shepard's death was merely the result of a robbery gone bad. While his killers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson did rob him, they also admitted that they were well aware of his sexual orientation and pretended they were gay to lure him away from the bar he was in at the time. The most striking feature of the case, of course, is that during the course of a normal, simple robbery, the victim is not generally beaten, tied to a post, and left for dead.

And this:

Rep. Foxx: "The bill was named after a very unfortunate incident that happened, where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's, it's really a hoax, that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."[House Floor Speech, 4/29/09]

All the evidence clearly indicates that this was a vicious hate crime, not a robbery gone bad.

Shepard's Killers Lured Him "Out Of A Bar By Saying They Were Gay." According to the New York Times: "According to the local police and prosecutors, the two men lured Mr. Shepard out of a bar by saying they were gay. Then, the Laramie police say, the pair kidnapped Mr. Shepard, pistol-whipped him with a .357 Magnum, and left him tied to a ranch fence for 18 hours until a passing bicyclist spotted Mr. Shepard, who was unconscious." [New York Times, 10/12/98]

OK Rep. Sally Kern should enjoy the company of Ms Foxx. I could spit nails right now. Read the rest for yourself at Media Matters for America.

Clearly, I am waaaaaaaaaay over stressed these days.

And so it goes.

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Trials by Fire - The Sequel.

The past 5 days have been evil, chaotic, trying, and most stressful.

The first headache was induced by yet another mistake made by the hospital followed by threats from the Emergency Association insisting on payment in full. Literally hours spent on the phone with people insisting they never sent letters and statements that I was reading back to them verbatim. Still nothing is settled and I've had to send copies of everything they're denying to have sent.

The next involved my previous life and I am too tired to go into detail - maybe someday - but not now.

Most recently, my place of business was robbed at gun point (I was not there, thank G*d) but the losses are immense and we've all been shaken to the core. We were interviewed by detectives and state troopers; the surveillance video has been on TV; stills from that video have appeared in newspapers in 5 states, and the story also ran on local radio far too many times. Phones have been ringing with customers and friends checking in to make sure we are all OK. We're not, OK? I am sure we were aware that this could happen given the state of the economy, but when it becomes a reality we are never ready for it.

The past two days were spent cleaning up the dust used for fingerprinting which, seems to be everywhere and that is no easy chore. Yesterday the owner arrived to work up a complete inventory of what is left and what was taken. It was a calm, but tense 11 hours and in the end the missing inventory list was huge - worth over a half million was gone - and we all just sat and looked at one another in stunned silence. It was over. Now it is solely in the hands of the owner and the insurance company, but the store won't be open for another day or two as we regain some sense of composure.

Somewhere in all that mishugass a package arrived at the Post Office. It was a gift from my wish list and just what I needed to be reminded that the outside world was still there and that someone cared. Thank you Peter, I really needed that long distance hug and reminder that I still have a new job to celebrate and a new keyboard to save my cramped hands. Bless you my friend. Your gift arrived at the moment I needed a slap to sanity. I hope you are looking forward to your trip to the states, that you have a safe journey, and more fun than you could ever hope for. You deserve it.

I know all this will pass. I am grateful that I have learned a few tools that kept me from crashing and burning as these things toppled me for days. After cleaning up the store as much as possible Monday afternoon, I met a couple of friends for an early dinner in town. That outing, the friendship, and especially the laughter helped me get through the tense, hellish hours of Tuesday. I slept little last night.

Today gives me a break from all of the above as I head back to the new job and the community I love here at the beach.

I hope this isn't too much information and that it makes some sense upon reading.

And so it goes.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter Switches from GOP to Democratic Party

Uh-huh.

OK, a show of hands here, class.

Who believes this little story?

If you do, please go home and wish for a pony.

Who believes that Specter is a sleezy Republican who would sell his mother's gold teeth to be re-elected?

If you believe this story, please go to the head of the class when you stop laughing.

That is all.

Jeez, they're just a laugh a minute these days, aren't they!

More later.
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Trailer - OUTRAGE

Well, here it is. I have heard that the film opens sometime next month, but not likely to open here anytime soon, if ever.

More later.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Some Tex-ass Statistics

The land of Rick Perry, Tom Delay, Ted Nugent, and Chuck Norris - that would be Tex-ass, folks - has suddenly decided that secession would not be a good idea at present. What will swine flu and all, Perry has already asked for aid and vaccine from the CDC, and rightly so.

But I was wondering how all those years under Republican rule has worked out for the lone star state and I found some interesting stats over at Juan's Rants. Here's what he writes:

My home state has so much to show for all of these years of republican control. Who would have ever thought that they could make Mississippi a step up?

1) 49th in teacher pay

2) 1st in the percentage of people over 25 without a high school diploma

3) 41st in high school graduation rate

4) 46th in SAT scores
5) 1st in percentage of uninsured children

6) 1st in percentage of population uninsured

7) 1st in percentage of non-elderly uninsured

8) 3rd in percentage of people living below the poverty level

9) 49th in average Women Infant and Children benefit payments

10) 1st in teenage birth rate

11) 50th in average credit scores for loan applicants

12) 1st in air pollution emissions

13) 1st in volume of volatile organic compounds released into the air

14) 1st in amount of toxic chemicals released into water

15) 1st in amount of recognized cancer-causing carcinogens released into air

16) 1st in amount of carbon dioxide emissions

17) 50th in homeowners' insurance affordability

18) 50th in percentage of voting age population that votes

19) 1st in annual number of executions
20) 1st in number of retarded presidents sent to DC
But, you gotta hand it to Tex-ass. It takes real genius to f**k up a state that big, that much. My guess is that #'s 3 and 18 make up the 50% of Republicans who want to secede. Not too bright and not voters. Makes perfect sense to me.

Jeez, the stoopid...it burns.

Pay Juan a visit. His stuff is pretty funny and on the mark. And where he gets some of those images, well, lets just say don't go drinking anything near your keyboard when you visit.

More later.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Outrage! The Documentary Coming Soon.

A searing indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who actively campaign against the LGBT community, OUTRAGE boldly reveals the hidden lives of some of our nation’s most powerful policymakers, detailing the harm they've inflicted on millions of Americans, and the media’s complicity in keeping their secrets.
Let's see if it is one of those "coming soon" films in your (and my) area.

Click the image to embiggen.

And so it goes.

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A Near Perfect Weekend

And well deserved, I might add.

It’s been a quiet, peaceful, and oddly productive weekend here. The warm weather and bright sun have certainly lifted everyone’s spirits – mine included – had a long conversation with a best friend that lasted for almost 2 hours (phone calls are more fun than swapping emails) and am now about to do some cooking. Topping the list, a Chicken Jambalaya and a huge Creole to be frozen in individual containers for future dinners.

Have neither listened to, nor watched news programming since Friday, and aside from the swine flu rapidly spreading around the world, including the US, I'm reasonably certain that the same old stories are being covered over and over with new pundits offering their 'expertise' and analysis and all.

There are two interesting documentary films being released in the near future. One, "Food, Inc" (the trailer is posted below) about the secrecy behind food processing and how it is already impacting our lives. The second, "Outrage" focuses on the closeted politicians (mostly Republican) who campaign against equal rights for the LGBT community; the hypocrisy in mainstream media who are complicit in keeping their secrets. I've not been able to find a trailer for this one yet, but I'll keep hunting. It's playing at Film Fests across the US this month and next.

There are a few whale-related documentaries on tonight, so that's my Sunday evening's entertainment.

I hope your weekend has been so blessed, as well.

Cooking Time!

More later.
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Trailer - Food, Inc.

A friend sent a link to this trailer found on YouTube and it makes me want to eat seasonal and local now more than ever. Check it out. You may decide to do the same.

Scary, huh?

I'm heading out to the farmer's market this afternoon.

More later.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Katrina, van Heerden, Army Corps of Engineers, and LSU.

If you need a little background it's HERE.

The saga continues - an in depth report and analysis at Down With Tyranny. This is a sample:
The most lucid and simple thing I have ever heard about Katrina: “The tragedy of Katrina happened because people in power made a decision that other people were going to die.”

Indeed, the chess board is that simple, but the pieces have complex stories.

As a simple boy from Louisiana now spending a little time in the Big Apple, I have found that one way to explain the convoluted mess of Hurricane Katrina to people is to compare some of its features to 9/11.

Both of these events were life-changing for many people, they both created many casualties, they both involved a massive clean-up effort, and they both were completely predictable by anyone who knew anything about intelligence management, communication science, and had half a brain in their head.

They both were, to use the language of Max Bazerman, a “predictable surprise”-- a type of event that is empirically predictable, but psychologically unacceptable to predict. In other words, something that happens because of the human tendency to avoid making a decision that involves incurring significant cost in the present in exchange for the mitigation of theoretically catastrophic cost in the future. You could pay now, but maybe you’ll get lucky and things will just stay the same (Wall Street, anyone?)

It is here that the similarities between 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina end. Hurricane Katrina obviously did not receive the same level of coordinated response as 9/11. More importantly, 9/11 did not take place in Louisiana, a place that is as wonderful and charming as it is backwards and corrupt. At this moment, I am scared for my friends and family in New Orleans and South Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina was The Event for many people because it was like watching a nightmare in slow motion. At this moment I know that it will happen again. It is as predictable as algebra and inevitable as gravity.

Because Louisiana State University has fired Dr. Ivor van Heerden, a research scientist who has criticized the Army Corps of Engineers and their role in the construction of the levees, I worry that the state itself and New Orleans in particular are headed in direction that will make the re-flooding of New Orleans another predictable surprise, again.

Was Louisiana State University professor Dr. van Heerden fired from his position because he dared to criticize the engineering skills of the Army Corps of Engineers? Is LSU worried about their funding from the Feds so much that they are willing to throw out the truth along with their dignity and responsibility towards the citizens of Louisiana? Does this criticism of the ACE put LSU in a position where they have to fire van Heerden because they are dependent on Federal grant money to keep up the status quo? Probably. The facts of the case seem to answer all of these questions in the affirmative.

A message from Mr. [Michael] Ruffner, the vice chancellor for communications [at LSU], to Dr. van Heerden after their meeting stated that the university wanted to be in on helping with the recovery of Louisiana, "not in pointing blame.” In an interview Mr. Ruffner said Dr. van Heerden's training in environmental management did not qualify him to comment on engineering matters. "We don't see him as a viable source to be discussing the engineering aspect of the levees," he said. "I have an advanced degree in communications, but that doesn't qualify me to comment on the New York Philharmonic."

This type of dangerous and infantile argument is repeatedly leveled, both officially and unofficially, against van Heerden and in general anybody who speaks about the Gov’s FUBAR before, during, and after Katrina. Now, despite the dozens of issues with this situation, here’s where things really start to go down the toilet for LSU, because this is the point where LSU officials, true to their style, begin to depart from any semblance of reality. What has to be made clear is that van Heerden has a PhD in marine science. Apparently, Ruffner doesn’t understand that levees that hold back water from drowning cities occasionally have interaction with substances called “water” and “soil,” topics which are covered in monastic detail by marine scientists. In fact, van Heerden is an expert on geotechnical soil issues that pertain to foundational failures. Or, to parse it down a bit for the Ruffner crowd, van Heerden knows a lot about dirt that goes under stuff, stuff like levees. Ruffner admits that he isn’t qualified to conduct the Philharmonic, but omitted in his reasoning is the fact that he isn’t qualified to speak about geotechnical soil issues either. But, his job is to be the chief spin-minister of LSU, so this is to be expected.

(snip)

If you’re from Louisiana, this might not be a surprise for you. Because all of Louisiana’s oil platforms are more 3 miles off our coast, the Federal Government receives all of the oil and gas royalties produced by those facilities, unlike states like Texas and Wyoming that get to keep the money. Louisiana produces between 20 and 25% of all of the oil and natural gas in this country, and so obviously if we got to keep that money, I would not be writing this because the levees would have been made out of gold-reinforced concrete topped with diamonds and therefore still standing. But, because the Feds get all the cash, universities like LSU are almost totally reliant upon them to ration out money, and the Army Corps of Engineers is practically forced to build everything on the cheap. All of this begs the question of who is really at fault-- I would say that the ACE has some responsibility here, but it is really the Feds that want van Heerden to shut up. If everyone woke up to the idea that Louisiana would be the richest state in the Union if we kept our own petro-royalities, the Feds might lose their infinite piggy bank. If people realized that if we had that money we could build levees that would last a thousand years, then the Feds couldn’t keep Louisiana on a leash to maintain its golden goose status. The ACE is not the ultimate problem, the Fed’s greed is, and the ACE is only an agent of that greed.
I know very few people who remain interested in what happened to NOLA and what continues to be washed over, but this piece is comprehensive and can be understood by anyone - with half a brain.

Read it all at DWT.

More later.

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Steny Hoyer Suddenly Concerned about Wiretapping..

...of members of Congress. Does he have something to hide?

Where was his 'concern' while the rest of us were the subjects of the same thing? I suppose the privacy of some is more important than others. Steny is a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) and shouldn't be leader of the house. A clue to why he is may be found in this story. Coincidence?
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday he had “great concern” over news reports that Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) was wiretapped during a federal probe into Israeli agents, and he vowed to personally look into whether there should be an investigation into wiretapping of Members of Congress.

“The stories that I’ve read give me great concern. I’m going to be in the process personally of finding out more about it and then, with the Speaker, determining what action, if any, needs to be taken,” Hoyer said Wednesday during a meeting with reporters.

Hoyer’s remarks come as Harman continues to fight allegations — which first appeared in Congressional Quarterly on Sunday — that she was wiretapped in 2005 during conversations with a suspected Israeli agent. The report alleged that the veteran California lawmaker agreed to seek leniency for two accused spies in return for help in lobbying Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the Intelligence Committee chairmanship.
Harman, who was passed over by Pelosi for the gavel in 2006, was the ranking member on Intelligence at the time of the alleged wiretapped conversations.
More HERE.

And more later.

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Days of Remembrance

President Obama at the Capital:
"Today, and every day, we have an opportunity, as well as an obligation, to confront these scourges -- to fight the impulse to turn the channel when we see images that disturb us, or wrap ourselves in the false comfort that others' sufferings are not our own," Obama said. "Instead, we have the opportunity to make a habit of empathy; to recognize ourselves in each other; to commit ourselves to resisting injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take."

(snip)

"To this day, there are those who insist the Holocaust never happened - who perpetrate every form of intolerance — racism, antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more — hatred that degrades its victim and diminishes us all. Today, and every day we have an opportunity, as well as an obligation to confront these scourges. To fight the impulse to turn the channel when we see images that disturb us, or wrap ourselves in the false comforts that others' sufferings are not our own... Emphasis mine.

WaPo has this.

The YouTube is here.

More later.
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Corporate Caturday

More later.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A husband's death shows how important marriage is and how accepted same-sex marriage is today

This letter was sent to Americablog by the surviving husband. It made me cry because so of my many friends were treated with anything but respect in the past. Here's just a snippet:
On March 24, I came home after work and found my husband, Peter Dubuque, dead from an unexpected accident. We have been together almost fifteen years and, because we live in Massachusetts, married for four-and-a-half years. In the aftermath of unexpected death, the surviving spouse faces a jumble of legal responsibilities, emotional reactions, and practical considerations. At 42, I never expected to have to plan a memorial service for the 39-year-old love of my life. I am very fortunate to have a strong national and local network of love and support from friends and family. These past few weeks would have been impossible without them.

In 2004 in Massachusetts (as there had been previously in Vermont when it legislated civil unions), opponents of marriage equality predicted social disaster. The destruction of our social fabric never materialized, of course; each argument was merely an rhetorical arrow in a quiver of hateful obstructions. What was surprising, however, is how marriage equality in Massachusetts has quickly blended into the social landscape. Despite a few feeble and ineffectual protests from the extreme right, it has become a non-issue here.

Just how far marriage equality has become a regular component of society here has been made clear to me while interacting with people I didn't know. What was once unheard of is now commonplace and, frankly, ordinary.

In 1994, I was arrested, handcuffed, and spent the night in jail for dancing with another man in suburban Chicago. (Not kissing, not even touching : just dancing.) But on March 24, 2009, the EMTs, police officers, and detectives on the accident scene were extremely professional, respectful, and courteous.

Shortly after Vermont legalized civil unions, debated raged whether newspapers across the country would accept or refuse to acknowledge such partnerships; now many more highly visible newspapers routinely do. The gracious funeral home operators treated me the same as they would any grieving spouse.
Read it all HERE.

We cannot give in to the hatemongers and bigots.

And so it goes.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random Thoughts


Dick Cheney has been on TV more in the past eight weeks than he was in the past eight years. And one has to wonder why his opinion is suddenly relevant?

Right wing pundits are sticking to the same tired old talking points but they are louder and more shrill, hoping if they repeat the same trash louder they may get our attention. They are so 2006!

Adverts featuring African Americans are on the rise - single males, single females, women and children, families, and even pitches to the elderly are filling the airwaves. I wonder why that is...

Things that make you go, hmmmmmmmmmm.

And so it goes.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Of Tea Parties and Teabagging...

You'd think they would at least ask, but noooooooo.

More later.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Civil Suit Over Katrina Begins

And it's about time. Today's New York Times:

NEW ORLEANS — A groundbreaking civil suit begins in federal court here today to consider claims by property owners that the Army Corps of Engineers amplified the destructive effects of Hurricane Katrina by building a poorly designed navigation channel adjacent to the city.

The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a 76-mile-long channel known locally as MR-GO and pronounced “Mister Go,” was completed in 1968 and created a straight shot to the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans. The suit claims that the channel was flawed in its design, construction, and operation, and that those flaws intensified the flood damage to the eastern parts of New Orleans and St. Bernard parish.

If they win, the plaintiffs — a local newscaster, Norman Robinson, and five other people whose homes or businesses were destroyed by the 2005 storm — could pave the way for more than 400,000 other plaintiffs who have also filed claims against the government over Katrina’s destruction.

The government has historically enjoyed strong legal protection against lawsuits related to collapsing levees. The Flood Control Act of 1928 bars suits against the United States for damages resulting from floods or flood waters, and in January 2008 Federal District Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. ruled that the corps was immune in a different lawsuit related directly to the levee and floodwall failures during Katrina in the city’s major drainage canals.

This case, however, is different, because MR-GO is a navigation canal, not a flood control project. In March, Judge Duval allowed the suit to go forward, over repeated efforts by the Department of Justice to get him to dismiss it, based largely on a a 1971 case, Graci v. United States, that found there is no immunity for flooding caused by a federal project unrelated to flood control.

The Graci decision did warn that the lack of immunity still left a “heavy burden” on plaintiffs to prove that the government was negligent in building its projects, and that this negligence, not a hurricane, was the cause of the damage.

The government will argue that Hurricane Katrina would have devastated the region whether or not the channel had ever been dug. The government’s filings in today’s case state that the plaintiffs’ rationale for federal liability are based on “misguided and internally inconsistent arguments.”

The trial is expected to take four weeks. In his opening comments today, Judge Duval, who is hearing the case without a jury, called it “a significant case” and “the first real trial” about Katrina, the levees and the role of the federal government. He referred to the thousands of pages of depositions and expert testimony, saying “the word ‘voluminous’ doesn’t quite do it.”

The thrust of the case, he said in his opening comments, was “a question of causation” about whether the canal caused damage separate from the levee failures, and, if so, whether the government has valid legal defenses.

The canal has been controversial from the start; critics had long called it a “hurricane highway” and warned it would help carry storm surges into the city.
As you all know, it did just that. Keep the folks involved in this lawsuit in your thoughts and prayers. They have suffered great harm and can rise again, if there is any justice.

The rest is HERE.

And so it goes.

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Gay Marriage Earned Victory

This was published on Easter - best Easter egg evah - from an unlikely outlet...The New York Post. Yes, Murdoch's trash rag. Amazing.

Uh-oh. Now gays really, legitimately, democratically and completely non-sneakily have won the right to marry, in Vermont. Next thing you know gays preparing to wed will be everywhere, threatening our way of life by picking out china patterns in Bloomingdale's and bickering about where to seat Uncle Floyd at the reception.

News stories about the Vermont decision implicitly recognize that this one really counts, by emphasizing the fact that this is the first state to approve gay marriage through a legislature rather than impose it from the bench, where judges pretend the right has been there all along without previously being detected. Vermont has made the change the proper way, and it ought to be congratulated.

Those who chafe at the decision -- and the passage of Prop. 8 in California, which Obama carried by 24 points, suggests that the opposition is hardly limited to Republicans -- should reexamine their arguments.

Does the Bible forbid gay relationships? Maybe. But if God didn't want there to be gay people, He shouldn't have made them. Who seriously believes that being gay is any more of a choice than being black?

Besides, not even the most fervent Christian would want to live in a Biblocracy. Covet your neighbor's wife, or even his kitchen appliances, and go to jail? If that were government policy, how many informers would it need on the payroll to monitor the neighbors' comments about saucy Serena (or her Sub-Zero?) Does God's idea of civilization look like East Berlin in 1981?

The Bible is about you and your soul, and if you think your neighbor is going to hell you can't stop him. And if you think gay relationships are immoral, surely it's the physical act that bothers you, not the signing of licenses, not the public vows of love and fidelity, not the matching tuxedos. Not the smiling faces. Yet few will make the case for police investigations of what people do between the sheets.

"Same-sex marriage," wrote Maggie Gallagher in National Review, "asks religious Americans," by which she means Christian Americans, "to surrender a core belief -- not only Leviticus (disapproval of gay sexual acts), but Genesis (the idea that God himself made man as male and female and commanded men and women to come together in a special way to image the fruitfulness of God)." But Christians are surrendering nothing. They remain free to disapprove of homosexuality just as they remain free to disapprove of their neighbor's alcoholism or adultery or bad taste in lawn ornaments. They also remain free to move to a country that enforces religious views.
Read it all HERE.

More later.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Falsettos/Falsettoland

Combination of two of my favourite off-Broadway shows that, when combined, barely made it a little over a year on Broadway. As you will see the cast is perfectly wonderful. Here's a medley from the Tony Awards performance.

That's it for me today. Hope the rest of your weekend is great.

And so it goes.
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Random Thoughts

Teabagging is all the rage with the wingnuts. Who knew?

Rush is slapping himself upside the head in an attempt to simulate torture. Why not the real thing?

McCain campaign manager says GOP should support gay marriage. An Epiphany.

The crew of the Maersk Alabama are union members; GOP surprised they did their job. Don't tell anyone.

Chavez and Obama shake hands; no smell of sulphur detected. You never know.

The GOP is the party of ideas. All bad ones.

Sarah Palin thinks she's running for President. She's not running Alaska very well.

Fox News defends the Bush Administration's use of torture. Surprised?

Having received the recipe for the official cocktail of New Orleans from Galatoire's via a friend, I am going to attempt making a Sazerac on my own. I ought to have enough courage to play mixologist in about 2 hours.

More later.

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Not so Happy in Texas

I really don't think Gov. Rick Perry has thought this through, but he had the small crowd riveted with his rhetoric and, um, makeup:

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax "tea party" Wednesday with his stance against the federal government and for states' rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"

An animated Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall -- one of three tea parties he was attending across the state -- that officials in Washington have abandoned the country's founding principles of limited government. He said the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending and debt.

Perry repeated his running theme that Texas' economy is in relatively good shape compared with other states and with the "federal budget mess." Many in the crowd held signs deriding President Barack Obama and the $786 billion federal economic stimulus package.

Perry called his supporters patriots. Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

Maybe, just maybe, Perry hasn't figured out that should Tex-ass secede, that would likely give the Democrats in Congress a filibuster-proof majority. Maybe someone should tell him to be careful what he wishes for. Then again, maybe not.

Read the whole thing HERE.

More later.

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That Was The Week That Was

Not many folks will remember the TV show, but believe me, it's true in this case. Today is my first day off in over a week. And look, someone found the rainbow's end! (Click to embiggen.)

Worked three days at job #1, and trained three in a row at the new job where a lot more goes into making it work than previously thought. There's a science to everything involved. I continue to be coached, while learning the logic and common sense behind every decision that must be made. A far cry from when I worked a similar job in New York when I was 22 years old - that would be 40 years ago - when there was little responsibility surrounding the post.

Well, I have nothing if not common sense, so it's only a matter of time and experience before I get a good handle on things.

Topped off yesterday with a wonderful gift from G*d - my friend Elizabeth come down for a few days and wanted to have dinner together. Before meeting at Dos Locos, she had a hair appointment, and since her birthday is next week, treated herself to a Thai massage (which she insists I must have, as well). By the time we were seated she was relaxed and energized, we had crab legs and our signature Sapphire Martini, laughed a lot, talked about serious stuff a bit, totally enjoying the company we were in for two hours. A real love fest. All in all, a fantastic ending to a hectic week.

She reminded me of how far I've come in the past three years since losing everything in the break up and was astounded that I have taken on a job that is out of my comfort zone, but something at which I will be very good. From her mouth to G*d's ear.

BTW, Dos Locos is also the site of the new job.

Today will be a quiet one. Cooking, music, NPR, a walk, and reading my fave blogs are the order of the day.

Tomorrow it starts all over again but I can look forward to two days off next week. Whatever will I do with myself with two whole days to myself? We'll think of something, for sure.

Today life is good and I feel blessed.

More later.
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Call Center Caturday

Truth is just truth. You can't have opinions about truth. - P.D.Q. Bach

From HERE, of course.

More later.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Teabagging Day!


"If you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all around
the country," says NBC's David Shuster, "you’re going to need
a Dick Armey."

Enuf said.

More later.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Will He Make it Through Summer?

As unbelievable as it may seem, even to myself, I made it through the first 9 days of working two jobs. Two TOTALLY different jobs. And...my next day off is 4 days away. Yes, Saturday.

The first few days at the new job were harrowing (to be expected), because aside from the details of the position, I wasn't prepared for standing in one place for the better part of 5 hours, but by Sunday I hit my stride and began to feel more comfortable - and the ability to move around more.

I won't get rich off either job, but I like them both for different reasons. The old one is familiar and I love the people I've worked with for 12 years. They were my life line during the breakup and supported me in so many ways. The new one takes me back into the community - back to the world of the living - after two years of self imposed exile following the end of the previous life. Amazingly, those from that life seem more uncomfortable seeing me than I could possibly imagine. Shock is evident as they freeze up when I give each a hug. WTF?

Working on Easter turned out to be a lovely and satisfying experience. I am sure it was due to the positive energy exchanged. As I headed back to the apartment after work I felt filled with energy offered by others that I accepted. I slept well Sunday night. Being totally exhausted helped, for sure.

That I have not addressed the nature of the new job is no accident. I will reveal that info if I make it through these first few weeks. I don't want to jinx it (or as we say in New Orleans, "put a gris-gris on it") and jeopardize the whole thing.

If I make it through the summer, I will have put a big dent in the debt owed to the hospital and ER from last November. I hate having debts hanging over my head, so I hope to pay off most of the ER bill and at least a third of the doctor's bill.

May my words enter the ears of G*d.

More later.

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LSU to Fire Hurricane Researcher

I suppose there is no place at the University for anyone who speaks out about the lack of preparation prior to Katrina. Amazing!
Louisiana State University has removed Ivor van Heerden, an outspoken hurricane researcher, from his post as deputy director of the university’s hurricane center and has told him that his contract as an untenured research professor will not be renewed when it ends next year, according to The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans newspaper.

Mr. van Heerden said the university would not tell him why he was being let go, and a university spokeswoman told the newspaper that she could not comment on personnel decisions. But Mr. van Heerden has been a frequent critic of the Army Corps of Engineers since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005, and may be called to testify against the Corps of Engineers when a suit brought by flooding victims goes to trial later this month.

In the wake of the hurricane, Mr. van Heerden was appointed to lead a state investigation into the failure of the levee system around New Orleans. In November of that year, The Times-Picayune said, two assistant chancellors told Mr. van Heerden “to stop talking to the press, because it threatened the university’s ability to get research dollars from the federal government.” Another university official said later that Mr. van Heerden, who was not trained as an engineer, should not have been commenting about civil-engineering topics.

The year before Katrina struck, Mr. van Heerden predicted in an interview with PBS that a Category 3 hurricane could have “the potential for extremely high casualties” in New Orleans, and that the city, once flooded, would remain so for “months and months and months.” —Lawrence Biemiller
More later.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

More later if I survive this day at work.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stupid News: Tea Baggin' and a Bow

CNN and Fox Noise are all over the really important issues facing the American people. Of course, you know what these stories are, don’t you?

Why it’s all about “tea bagging” or President Obama’s bow to the Saudi King while in London.

Yes folks, the likes of Wolf Blitzer (who should be taken behind the barn and bitch-slapped) and practically all the morons at Fox are obsessed with this bow thingy. Continuous coverage of that incident (playing the bit of tape over and over and over and over…and how Obama has demeaned this country. They're saying this with a straight face after 8 years of GWB?

Really? Let’s see…hm, what happened when, following the 9/11 attacks, George Bush (G*d, I hate typing that name) flew the entire bin Laden family out of the country while the American public remained grounded. Nothing! Absolutely NOTHING!!! No coverage of that little incident until the details appeared in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 did the so-called liberal mainstream media reluctantly begin investigating. Something that ought to have been exposed immediately after the attacks; not two years later.

No one was even curious that a single government approved jet was making stops in various states, much like an international Greyhound bus service picking up the clan, then spiriting them out of harm’s way. No one reported on the coordinated effort to execute the plan quietly and quickly.

And let’s not forget that GW kissed and held hands with prince Bandar Bush whenever he visited. No outrage there, either. WTF?

Now, the conservatives with their tea parties are going to tea bag the White House and many members of Congress. Well, it's clear that Larry (wide stance) Craig and David (diapers) Vitter are already drooling. However, one has to ask the hard question here: Does the ultra wingnut crowd even know what “tea bagging” is? After all, how can the White House be tea bagged when it ain’t got no testicles. I’m just askin’ is all.


Oh, and if you don't know the difference between tea-bagging a man and a woman, just leave a comment and I will explain - with graphics.


The stoopid, it burns!


More later? Maybe.


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New Job - Old Body

I worked seven days this week. On Tuesday I began training for (at) my new part time job and I'm only now getting beyond the leg and back pain from being on my feet all day. Thank G*d for support shoes; they may not look great, but they sure do the job.

Since fracturing my lower back last November, I haven't had any problem taking long walks; it's the standing in one spot that is the killer. It feels as if gravity is pulling me towards the floor. The first two nights I awoke in the middle of the night with leg cramps and lower back pain.

Thursday I was at the other job which offers the ability to sit most of the day until a customer walks in. That break with the addition of Quinine tablets and tonic water helped the cramping a great deal.

I trained a bit longer shift Friday but experienced little pain, probably due to the quinine coupled with more walking and less standing around in my appointed spot. I slept like a baby last night and didn't wake until 7 am - unheard of for me.

This is my first day off and I am relishing the quiet, resting, and doing a bit of bulk cooking because next week will be another 6 day work week. I train again tomorrow (the first time I've worked on Easter in 20 years) then work three days at the other job and training for another three. I pray those days aren't back-to-back, but...

Of nearly 20 applications over the past three months, this is the only business to call back. Possibly, this was a good thing. I like the people I will be working with, who are taking time to train me well, and seem supportive. The bosses are tough task masters, but in a good way. After all, their reputation is at stake, so I'm learning the right way - not the quick way - to get the job right. I think I can handle that.
So far, so good.

The image above is a reference to the 'old' part of this story. This is the Atlantic Sands Motel circa. 1965 when I used to visit Rehoboth Beach. The Sands is still here, though vastly larger and a very popular place for tourists to stay today Click the image to embiggen.

And so it goes.
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Gay Pirates?

How Long Could You Last On A Gay Pirate Ship?


Arrrgghhh! Who knew?

more later.
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Cross Caturday

No, not that kind of cross - the grumpy kind.

It's been pouring rain almost all night and it's just turned torrential on us. I'm grateful to have this one day to myself (I work on Easter, something I've not had to do in 20 years) to rest up, regroup, and recharge. I also plan to make a pork loin roast smeared with garlic, fresh rosemary, and olive oil cooked in broth and white wine.
But that's for later.

More later, maybe.
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

This Video Made My Day

It's been a very busy, hectic week - what with the new PT job training and all - so this is all I've got tonight. It made me laugh outloud. I love this kind of street theatre drive-by thing and if you look at all the happy faces, well, I believe we need more of this kind of thing. I'll post about all the news in my life this weekend, but for now I have to get through one more day of training tomorrow, hoping that my back and legs are up to the challenge...Whoa! That didn't come out right.

In any event, until then, enjoy this video. It was shot in the train station at Antrepen, Belgium.

That's all folks!

And so it goes.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Iowa Won't Go Backwards on Marriage Rights.

Without the support of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, efforts to amend the Iowa Constitution can not move forward in the Senate.

Below is the text of Senator Gronstal's response to Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton on April 6, 2009, the first day the Senate met after the unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to allow same sex couples to marry.

Here's the transcript.
One of my daughters was in the workplace one day, and her particular workplace at that moment in time, there were a whole bunch of conservative, older men. And those guys were talking about gay marriage. They were talking about discussions going on across the country.

Any my daughter Kate, after listening for about 20 minutes, said to them: You guys don't understand. You've already lost. My generation doesnt care.

I think I learned something from my daughter that day, when she said that. And Ive talked with other people about it and that's what I see, Senator McKinley. I see a bunch of people that merely want to profess their love for each other, and want state law to recognize that.

Is that so wrong? I dont think thats so wrong. As a matter of fact, last Friday night, I hugged my wife. You know Ive been married for 37 years. I hugged my wife. I felt like our love was just a little more meaningful last Friday night because thousands of other Iowa citizens could hug each other and have the state recognize their love for each other.

No, Senator McKinley, I will not co-sponsor a leadership bill with you.
We need more brave legislators like this one. Thank you and good night.

That's all I've got. Tired beyond belief.

And so it goes.
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Scenes from a Real (Scary) America

I suppose we can thank the wingnut radio, TV, and print knuckle draggers who are convinced that their guns will be confiscated at any minute for this weekend weapon fest. This following slaughters in PA, NY, GA, and KY.

Machine Guns!!! This is scary:
I spent Saturday at the bi-annual Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot, right outside of Louisville, Ky. Gun enthusiasts of all stripes were there — from the National Rifle Association and sportsmen to militia members to white supremacists and Obama birthers. Here’s a collection of choice photos from the show (after the jump):
Whenever I wonder where this paranoia comes from I think of the past eight years of Bush/Cheney and their fear mongering.

I need to take a shower after all this. Ewww!

Please G*d, keep President Obama and his family safe.

And so it goes.
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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Extreme Sheepherding

OK, take a bazillion strings of LEDs, some very talented dogs, a huge flock of sheep (wearing those LEDs) a bunch of very bored kiwi shepherds with video camera and tripod and other high tech gizmos and turn them loose and let their imaginations go wild.

This is so cool. Just remember that all the lights you see are worn by the sheep; all the glory for the tableau goes to those fantastic dogs. Enjoy.


Wasn't that fun?

And so it goes.
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Palm Sunday

Mad Priest's thought for the day.

Just as you cannot understand what happened on Good Friday unless you understand what happened on Easter Sunday, you also cannot understand Good Friday unless you understand what happened on Palm Sunday.

The tragedy of the Messiah is not that he died but that he was given up to die.

Jesus was ultimately betrayed by the world and he needed God to rescue him. This is also the life experience of us all.

This is one way in which we know that Christ is one with us and we are one with Christ.
Just thought I'd share.

More later.
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Palins - The Laughs Just Keep Coming

Sarah's sister-in-law arrested:

Todd Palin’s half-sister was arrested Thursday after police say she broke into a Wasilla home for the second time this week to steal money.

Palin is the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin. He declined comment.

Diana Palin, 35, entered a home near Wasilla’s Multi-Use Sports Complex and attempted to steal cash from the owner’s bedroom, police said.

She also broke into the same house on Tuesday and stole $400, they said.

She was arrested Thursday morning on felony charges of first-degree burglary and misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and theft, police said. Friday morning, she remained jailed at Mat-Su Pretrial Facility in Palmer in lieu of $10,000 bail and court-approved third party custodian.

Diana and her husband, Scott McLean, live in a different neighborhood from the location of the home she is accused of burglarizing.

McLean said Friday he didn’t recognize the street where his wife was arrested and had no idea why she might do what police say she did. McLean described Diana Palin as a stay-at-home mom who takes good care of their two young children.

McLean said he got a call Thursday around 10:30 a.m. from police, asking him to come pick up their 4-year-old daughter, and has heard nothing since.

The original is HERE. Ah, good old family values.

More later.

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Cooking Caturday

Ultimately found all ingredients required for NOLA (and grandma's) Red Beans and rice recipe and today's the day. Traditionally a dinner for Mondays (wash day) the beans will be just right for that night after work.

No, I will not be using that crock pot.

More later.
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Friday, April 3, 2009

The Iowa Decision - In Brief

From Law Dork, unless you have the time and desire to read the entire transcript:
The Iowa motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain,” was noted by Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady in his unanimous opinion for the Court striking down Iowa’s ban on marriage between same-sex couples. Today, for the first time ever in this country, a state’s highest court spoke strongly and with one voice in support of marriage equality.

Moreover, the opinion subtly implies that this is as it should be and goes on the offense against cries of judicial activism:

As other Iowans have done in the past when faced with the enforcement of a law that prohibits them from engaging in an activity or achieving a status enjoyed by other Iowans, the twelve plaintiffs turned to the courts to challenge the statute.

Slip op., at 8. The Court smartly goes on to fully, simply and clearly explain exactly why this decision is nothing extraordinary:

The legislature, in carrying out its constitutional role to make public policy decisions, enacted a law that effectively excludes gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage. The executive branch of government, in carrying out its role to execute the law, enforced this statute through a county official who refused to issue marriage licenses to six same-sex couples. These Iowans, believing that the law is inconsistent with certain constitutional mandates, exercised their constitutional right to petition the courts for redress of their grievance. This court, consistent with its role to interpret the law and resolve disputes, now has the responsibility to determine if the law enacted by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch violates the Iowa Constitution.
Read the rest at the link above.

I am still pinching myself over this development. I mean, Iowa! This will take some time to sink in, to be sure.

And so it goes.
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Thank You, Iowa

Three down but so many left. Still, this is a good day.

More later
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To Be a "Gingrich Catholic"

OK class, what's wrong with this statement?
"Newt Gingrich: My third wife wants me to be a good Catholic."
Anybody? Man, I could go to so many places from here.

Here's something else - Newt is on Twitter writing things like this:
"It is sad to see notre dame invite president obama to give the commencement address Since his policies are so anti catholic values."
This idiot has been a convert to the Catholic faith, what, a month? Less? Let's see...Twice Divorced, working on his third marriage and he's talking about anti-catholic values. He left his first wife while she was in hospital suffering with cancer.

Like those Catholics always say... Oy!

Read Cenk's whole piece HERE.

More later.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oliphant on the Party of NO!

Enuf Said. Click the image to make biggen.

And so it goes.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

1939 British Poster Revived for Current Crisis

This is so British, stiff upper lip and all that, and I want the Tee shirt.

There is no fuss, no frills, no clever design or wordplay, just the crown of George VI on a red background and a five-word message: Keep Calm And Carry On.

It is a veritable stiff upper-lip of a poster and has been heralded the 'greatest motivational poster ever'. It hangs on walls everywhere from Buckingham Palace to the National Trust HQ, No10 to the officers' mess in Basra.

Its message pops up on mugs, mouse mats, tea towels, T-shirts (David Beckham reportedly has one), rugs and even the cover of a recent magazine for hedge fund managers.

Thanks to Stewart Manley, who co-owns a Northumberland bookshop with his wife Mary, it sells by the thousand every week, 70 years after it was commissioned by the Ministry of Information as a World War II propaganda tool.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that the scarlet missive never actually made it into circulation during the war.

In fact, despite seeming to be part of our historical furniture, it wasn't until 2000, when Stewart and Mary discovered one of only two perfect originals in a dusty box of second-hand books he'd bought at an auction, that this inspirational message started popping up on walls all over Britain.

'I found a little folded poster right at the bottom of a box of books that had been lying around for months in the back of the shop,' says Stewart, who is 60-something and cheery-looking, with big specs and an impressive grey beard.

'So I opened it out and thought: "Oh gosh! Isn't that wonderful and so British."

More pictures and the rest of the story HERE.

More later.

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