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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #373

Finally, a Little Rain

Our current dry streak ended this morning at fifty-two straight days without rain. According to the official rain gauge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a slight amount of rain arrived overnight, although, looking out at our driveway here in Olympia, I question whether us Olympians received even a meager amount last night.

Fifty-two straight days may not seem like a lot to some of you, but for those of us up here in the soggy, perpetually-gray northwest corner of the U.S., it is unheard of, or at least it was unheard of until 2017, when we had fifty-five straight days without rain.

The experts say that 2021 will be the hottest summer on record for our area. Last summer was the hottest until this summer.

Times they are a’changin’.

I hope this finds you all well and hydrated. Let’s find out what’s on the minds of some of our writing members this morning.

The Mail Room

The Mail Room

Universal Themes

From Mr. Happy: “Well, I wasn't going to ask this but now that I read: "Do you think that most great novels touch upon universal themes or great truths either directly or indirectly?" I will post the question I asked my father some days ago, even though I have a feeling I know the answer, or You might answer the same thing my father answered.

He was talking about a novel written by some Chinese author. He was telling me that it is an amazing novel which I should read. He told me that the author wrote about wars in China's history, famine, personal struggles of people living there and that's where I stopped him.

"All novels, stories, movies, have the same thing no matter what country, or people they come from: some person is having an affair, some person steals from another person, some person kills another person, some person is terminally ill, or thinks he/she/it is, etc. It's all conflict and it's all the same when You break it down to little bits. Don't You get bored of this? Why read about struggles in China when You already read Dostoevsky and the struggles of Russian people? There is nothing different in the struggle. It's all the same."

Yes, Mr. Happy, I think that all novels touch upon universal themes or great truths and yes, in my humble opinion, all novels are about conflict. It it’s not a novel with obvious conflict, like a war, then it is inner conflict, like whether to love a troubled man, or whether to leave your wife, or any other emotional conflicts humans face each day.

In fact, I would love to have someone tell me about a novel which does not have conflict. I can’t think of one.

There is even conflict in this peaceful scene

There is even conflict in this peaceful scene

Tell Your Story, or Tell a Story

From Greg: “Bill - I have a question that has been nagging me, making me want to ask it of an accomplished writer such as yourself. When we write, when you write, not just for this, but for all writing you do: do you want to tell your story or do you want to tell a story? Is there some combination of both? Is there a different way altogether to look at it?”

It's an interesting question, Greg, and I’ve wrestled a bit with it from time to time.

For me, with most of my novels, I would say it leans 90% towards telling a story. The remaining 10% is usually some aspect of my life, or my personality, or my beliefs. Mind you, I can’t speak for other writers, but I suspect it is almost impossible to completely separate the writer from the story.

Ignore what I just said when talking about my second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias.” That novel was probably more 75% my story and 25% a story.

Anyway, writing is personal for me, and I really can’t imagine writing a novel without sprinkling in a part of me along the way.

Republishing Articles Anew

From Rodric: “I suppose that is another question for the mailbag. Is it okay to republish old articles anew? I plan to do it for the ones that get no hits but have good info because of their age.”

Is it okay, Rodric? Of course! I think it’s a good idea. And, to my knowledge, HP encourages that you do so. Refreshing an online article is always a good approach if you are trying to increase views and win at the Google game. Add some new links, add a table or a poll or some new pics, sprinkle in some new keywords along the way.

Scroll to Continue

What can it hurt? As long as you don’t detract from the quality of the writing, I say it’s a great idea if viewership is one of your main goals.

Thinking About the Old Days of Hp

From Maria: “I’ve only been around HP for two years, but I’ve heard stories about what it was like early on, and it sounds like a much more enjoyable site ten years ago. I was wondering about your thoughts on that.”

Hi, Maria! Thanks for the question. It’s a sure sign that I’m becoming “long in the tooth” when people start asking me what it was like in the old days. LOL

Yes, for me, HP was a much more enjoyable place ten years ago. I had some very good friends on HP ten years ago, people who would email me, separate from HP, to ask about my life and my family. We interacted quite often with each other. I’ve even heard stories of HP conventions, and hundreds of HP writers getting together to meet each other in person.

I can also say, without hesitation, that the HP staff was a lot friendlier ten years ago, much more interactive with the writers. They went out of their way, back then, to make HP writers feel welcomed and valued. I do not see that happening today.

So many of my old friends have dropped off of this site, for a number of reasons. Some have died (RIP Mary Craig), and some have just become disillusioned with the direction HP has taken. Of course, I still see many of them on social media, but it’s just not the same as it once was, and I find that sad in an odd way.

And there was a lot more money made on HP ten years ago, no doubt about that fact.

Looking for better days on HP

Looking for better days on HP

The Rain, the Park, and Other Things

Remember that old song? The Cowsills? Anyone?

Showing my age once again. Anyway, more heat coming next week for us pampered Northwesterners. I’m not going to go so far as to wish for a drenching rain, because I’m afraid once it starts here it won’t stop, but a stray shower would be nice. The wildfires are a very real threat for those of us in the western states, and the only thing that’s going to stop them from happening, in the short term, is a good dousing from Mother Nature. So cross your fingers for us.

I hope you have a great week. I’ll be working on outside projects, and also working on two short stories, “The Chameleon” and “1963.” Hopefully I’ll finish those in a week or so, and then, hopefully, I will return to the two novels I’m working on. So much to do, so little time.

Sending hugs of friendship and comfort to our HP friend Misbah.

If you have questions for the Mailbag, include them in the comments below, or email them to me at

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 18, 2021:

Thank you Venkatachari M. I'm happy I bring smiles to your cheek. Blessings to you always, my friend.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on August 18, 2021:

Bill, my friend. I enjoy going through your mailbags and always learning some new facts as well as enjoying your replies to the questions with smiles on my cheek. A wonderful job.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 11, 2021:

Too hot to write, Heidi, so I'll stop. Stay cool and I'll write more next week when it's cooled down a bit.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 11, 2021:

Thank you Vidya! I seem to be running late on those short stories, but I'll get them out soon. Blessings to you always.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on August 10, 2021:

Late again. Glad you're getting some rain. We've gotten a little with the storms, but still need some. Hot and muggy Chicago summer.

Don't have much to add. Take care and I'll get back in my regular Mailbag Mode one of these days!

VIDYA D SAGAR on August 10, 2021:

Interesting mailbag, Bill. I had the same doubts regarding republishing my old articles. Thanks for your advise on it. Looking forward to your short stories. All the best for your new novels. Have a great day.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 10, 2021:

A happy week to you, Bill. I don't think you are THAT long in the tooth. I've been here 7 years and can hardly believe I've hit that milestone myself. I guess I have a question for then. Do you think it is of any benefit for someone to join now? If it was so much better for HP in the "old days" is it even worth it anymore? I know I for one appreciate the community and the encouragement even if I don't make money like I used to. Plus, I have things to say that I can't really say otherwise. HP does give me a platform for that. Is it worth it? Shall I take my writing elsewhere? Am I just spitting into the wind?



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Happy Tuesday to you, Rosina! Thank you for your well-wishes. We just have to stay cool through this weekend and then things should improve for us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Stay cool, Linda! September is right around the corner, and it has to cool off soon, right?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Gully washer, Flourish? I haven't heard that term in a long time. I miss gully washers. We used to have them often here, but no longer.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Thank you Jo! That is kind of you to say. HP has been a lifeline for me over the years, and I cherish the friendships made.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

They are for sure, Miebakagh, and they can't get here soon enough, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

I hope that too, Mary, because this week is going to be miserable once again. My goodness, bring on the Fall. I'm more than ready!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Thank you Brenda! I'm glad I gave you something of interest to read while those tires were installed. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

I completely agree with you, Bill! This is not the region of my youth, not by a longshot. This is becoming a very hot place to live during the summer, and it will only get worse. And the wildfires....good golly, what a mess we've caused!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Thank you Miebakagh! 90 straight days without rain? I can't imagine that happening here, but then I couldn't imagine 55 until it happened a couple years ago.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Mr. Happy, that's pretty cool that you went and met some Hubbers. I've only met two, both of whom live in this area. I envy you, a bit, that you met those two. me that year has always represented the end of innocence for the U.S. It's a personal observation, based on absolutely no quantitative data. lol

Have a great week, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Rodric, you are too kind, but thank you. Congratulations to your daughter for that college scholarship. That is so cool. I'm sure you are a proud dad.

I give back that which was freely given to me on HP ten years ago. To me, that's what community is all about. Thank you for being a part of my community.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Thank you Pamela! Rain every afternoon? I knew that about your area. It seems like such a foreign concept, even for our area, an area known for moisture. Well, enjoy it. We will be back to 100 this weekend, darn it!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

MizB, the changes in climate are very hard to ignore, I'm afraid. Just taking my lifetime, and how climate has changed in seventy years, it does not bode well for our children children.

More 100's here this weekend. Sigh!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Thank you Greg! The projects are progressing. I don't do them as quickly as I once did, but my races are won by this old turtle more often than not. I just keep plugging away at them, finish them whenever, and move on to the next one. They keep me out of trouble, for the most part. lol Take care my friend. Here comes the heat!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2021:

Linda, I am just cringing thinking of the upcoming heatwave. Thankfully it will only be three or four days at most, but still, come on, enough is enough, right???

Rosina S Khan on August 09, 2021:

Sorry about the drought, Bill. Hope you get rain showers soon. It was hot here too but we had the rain finally and it is possible to cope. I don't want more heat either.

Great questions and answers. Loved this edition of the mailbag as well.

Happy Tuesday to you! Hope everything finds you well.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 09, 2021:

Once again, I've experienced the same weather as you. The rain was nice, but the forecast says that the heat will soon return. I'm not looking forward to it!

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 09, 2021:

We sure had a gully washer this weekend. I love the rain. As for plots, I have read that it all boils down to one of various types of conflict in plots: conflict with self, conflict with others, etc. etc.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 09, 2021:

I have been around HubPages for a number of years but have never been nearly as active as you and many others here. Unlike most people who interact here, I think I like the new HubPages better. It just seems to be a little more professional to me. I never got into the social interaction very much. But I like, and would really, really miss, the link that you provide to the old HubPages.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 09, 2021:

The rains are a blessimg.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 09, 2021:

I can’t imagine 52 days without rain. It’s so hot here in Toronto right now that I am heading up north and have a dip the moment I arrive. We have had good rain though last week. Can’t complain. Hope you have good rain soon.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 09, 2021:


So glad you got that trace of rain, but it sounds like you could use a bit more.

I have been going back through some if my work & updating it too.

Thanks for your article kept me company while getting a couple of tires installed.

Take care.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 09, 2021:

Hi Bill. Hard to believe that I’ve been here for almost 10 years. We’ve certainly seen a lot of changes over the years and a lot of people come and go here. Guess we either roll with the changes or get out of the way.

I remember when a trip to the Pacific Northwest in the summer meant beautiful weather with temps from 75 to 80, no humidity, an occasional day of rain, no wildfire smoke, just gorgeous weather. Something has changes and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Have a great week Bill.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 09, 2021:

Bill, no rains for 27 straight days? That's awful! Contrast that for 90 straight days here in Nigeria in the early 1980's which is terrible! Right from the beginning of this year, we have rains every week. Exception is the previous last week. Your answers to the questions are great. Thanks.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 09, 2021:

"The experts say that 2021 will be the hottest summer on record for our area." - It is really hot here too. This week will be the hottest yet this year. It is not going under 104F (that's 40C for You Americans lol - You should all learn it).

"Yes, for me, HP was a much more enjoyable place ten years ago." - Yes, it is strange how things changed. People would talk more back then. I mean, I went to Florida to meet Mrs. Lynda Martin whom I had only known from her articles here. Then, I went to the Isle of Man and met Mr. Spirit Whisperer to whom I still talk to quite often but he dropped off of here too. Meh ... what can You do? "Chop wood and carry water."

"1963." - As an outsider to your life but privileged in knowing bits and pieces of it from your writing, I have to ask: what is it with "1963", You mention it a lot in your writings? Or, I see it a lot.

1963 February "The Beatles record their debut album Please Please Me in a single day at the Abbey Road Studios in London."

1963 March "March 18 – Gideon v. Wainwright: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that state courts are required to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who cannot afford to pay their own attorneys."

1963 "May 23 – Fidel Castro visits the Soviet Union." - Interesting times this 1963 lol

Thank You for the answers to the questions, as always.


P.S. That Cowsills song feels pretty 1960ish. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

Hey Alyssa! I'm happy to hear you had a good vacation. Sometimes those stay-at-home vacations are the best. Sure sounds like yours was.

Happy Monday my rested friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

That is too funny, Mary! How did she know where they lived? lol Thanks for the laugh. Maybe in two weeks we'll see some rain, but I doubt it. :(

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

Of course I will remember, you Misbah. I remember quality human beings, and you are one of them. Be well my friend. I'm sending you a hug of friendship.

Blessings and love always

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

Thank you Peggy! No relief in sight for the drought or the wildfires. Poor California is really suffering right now, but any of these states could burn rapidly, as dry as it is. One strike of lightning is all it takes, or one careless human being.

Anyway, thank you for your friendship. I'm glad I joined HP when I did so I could be part of the good old days on this site.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

I like that analogy, John, about being an actor while writing Poems from the Porch. That's a perfect description, my friend, and you do it so very well.

Happy Monday my friend, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

Good morning Chitrangada Sharan. Sadly, the rain we did receive was barely enough to get the pavement wet. It did nothing for our drought, but it was nice while it lasted, with more heat coming this week and weekend. Bring on the Fall!!!!

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on August 09, 2021:

I saw when you posted the Mailbag and determined to read it after reading my Scriptures this morning. I found this Mailbag almost spiritual for some reason, and I don't know why. Thanks for answering my question. I had my kids read one of my articles from four years ago for my Woza Moya series. It really made me feel good because my kids don't take an interest in my writing at all. It makes me want to go through and redo all of my old stuff just to get them to read through it if they will.

One of my girls is going off to college in two weeks. She has a full academic scholarship for which I am so grateful since we cannot afford to send her to a university on our own. I have two master degrees and my health is such that I cannot use them for what I wanted to use them.

I can write on HubPages. This forum has been my link to life when no other place has. I realize that. I look at your life and thank God that you are who you are and that you reach out to others, even if just a little bit, a hi. No question this week, just gratitude.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

You are a keeper, Sha! I consider you on my short list of good friends, remarkable since we've never met, but you are important to me. Hugs my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

Manatita, to answer your least questions first, Paula simply got fed up with HP and left. Eric, he's a mystery, although I suspect his health is failing. I may be wrong about that, and I hope I am.

More brutal weather in site for us this week, I'm afraid. Time to get the air conditioner back into the window. We will need it.

Take care my friend and, as always, blessings to you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2021:

Dora, I'm afraid those days are gone with HP. It's now all about the incomes from ads. I only stay because of you and others who are important to me.

Alyssa from Ohio on August 09, 2021:

Wow, 52 days without rain? I hope you all enjoyed getting out! We're coming off almost two weeks of vacation over here. Just a fun, stay-at-home, sleep in kinda deal. It was lovely! I've got two more days of that haha! Fantastic mailbag this week, Bill! Have a good one!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 09, 2021:

I'm glad to comment before the article is posted by Hubpages. I am also an old-timer. I recently received an email that stated is was by 12 year anniversary. I agree with all you said about the 'old days'. I don't think anyone writer here for the money. LOL!

I'm glad you got a little rain as the weather looks like it will be very hot for you this week. It rains about every afternoon here, which is typical for this time of year.

The mailbag had an interesting mix of questions today, and your answers were great as usual.

I periodically update my articles. Since most of them are on medical topics I always have to do a bit of research to update them accurately. I can't imagine writing fiction and not including a bit of your own experience.

Have a great week, Bill!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 09, 2021:

Somehow I made it early today, Bill. About Mr. Happy's question, I believe that all of us put ourselves into our writing. It wouldn't really be "our writing" if we didn't, now would it? I miss those golden oldie days of a few years ago, too. Much more interaction between writers.

Did you see the latest climate report just released today. That is troubling. It makes me glad that I'm not a youngster, and I feel sorry for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I worry about what's in store for them

We're praying for rain here in the Little Rock area, too, all except Sherwood, that is. Last week a tiny (in area) deluge hit them with 2 in. in one hour and they had flash flooding. I hope you and I both get some needed rain this week. Have a good rest of the week, my friend.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 09, 2021:

Bill - thanks for answering my question, thank also for taking on all the other questions. I suspected you’d go that route or similar with your answer, seems like “it depends” sums it up. I appreciate your candor about HP in the old days. Hell, I think it was better just a year ago. It fell precipitously when Samantha departed, telling us there’d been a decision to return ability to comment on the discover and niche side of things.

We had clouds and wind and threat of rain yesterday, but saw nary a drop. Still, it felt like fall over here in our eastern corner of the PNW. We are posturing for return of the Heat Dome in coming days…going to work outside today because we won’t be able to due to the extreme heat in just a short time.

Thanks again for sage advice, counsel and just general wisdom, Bill. It’s always a great way to start the week. Good luck on all your projects, too. Hope they come out just the way you’d like.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 09, 2021:

Good morning Bill. I don't think we can ever totally remove ourselves from a story. How can your writing be authentic if you have no knowledge of the subject or have never had that experience?

I'm not looking forward to the weather of this week. Anything above 75 is too much for this old gal.

I'm also one of those old-timers on HP and miss the comments, the interaction, and the friendship and support of the editors. {{Sigh}}.

Mary Wickison from USA on August 09, 2021:

An interesting mix as always. I remember the Cowsills as my sister was a huge fan. Once on a family trip to Southern California, my sister wanted us to drive by their house. I've no idea how she knew where it was. That was before the internet.

I hope you guys get some rain soon.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on August 09, 2021:

Thanks a lot for this lovely mailbag, Mr. Bill. Greg's question is intriguing. As always, your responses to everyone are wise. I am not an old hubber, so I have no idea about HP's past, but it appears that those times were great.

Thanks a lot for remembering me. Sir, Your kind of friendship is an answer to my prayers; I'm grateful to have such a wonderful friend like you.

God Bless you and your family. Ameen!

Sending lots of Love to you and your family

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 09, 2021:

As one of the "old-timers" here on HP, the old days were great. I attended one of those early conventions here in Houston. It was fun meeting fellow HP writers in person. Robin Edmondson was one of the people presenting that meeting.

Mary Craig and I had become friends and conversed with one another outside of HP. She was a special lady! It is possible to make friends here whether we ever meet in person, or not.

I hope that you and others in the western regions of our country get much-needed drenching rains to squelch those raging fires. It is so scary what is happening due to climate change! We have been getting lots of rain in our area.

Thanks for the Cowsills video. That is a throwback to earlier times and memories.

Enjoy your week, and stay safe in your neck of the woods.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 09, 2021:

I hope you do start getting a little more rain to keep those wildfires at bay…I hate what is happening in Greece, and elsewhere e.g. Germany there has been terrible flooding. It seems we have to take our turn, but there is little doubt climate change is real.

Yes, I think there is always a little bit of an author in everything they write, although with my poetry I sometimes feel a bit like an actor, especially with Poems from the Porch, as I am often asked to write about things I have never experienced and trying to make it convincing to the reader.

Yes, I too miss the old days of HP and those who have left and the more personal interaction of staff. Have a great week, Bill.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 09, 2021:

Hello Bill!

Happy Monday, and a wonderful week ahead.

Good to know, that finally it rained, in your area.

I liked all the questions and your answers. But, the one which really touched me, was about HubPages, few years back. I completely agree with your observations. Those were much more happier times, as compared to now. Sadly, many writers have left, due to the their dissatisfaction.

Thank you for sharing another wonderful mailbag.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 09, 2021:

Bill, I agree with your assessment of HP ten years ago. HP staff were more motivating and supportive of the writers back then. Today, you rarely hear from them and there are no incentives (contests, challenges, etc.) thrown out to the writers.

There was also more interaction and comradery amongst the authors. I understand why so many of our friends have dropped out. There seems to only be a few of us left. Fortunately, I've made life-long friends through my years here on HP. I'm in constant contact with several of the writers we no longer hear from. I cherish those friendship. And you're one of those life-long friends, Bill!

manatita44 from london on August 09, 2021:

Scary! First thing I heard on the Radio, is that the current trend in climate change, was predicted in the 90's. Actually, as I write to you, it has just come on the news again. They say that modern scientific instruments are much more accurate, and they predict the worse. Yet they say that we can change it. Interesting!

Tell Mr Happy that we have to go through it, just like you did as a young man, to get where you are right now. We cannot have life without conflict/struggle. Since we are all souls, then it is the same for all, East and West, just different garments ... flavourings.

Yet there's hope. I read so much as a kid! I was finished by 11 years old! Now if I read a novel, it is a real struggle. Outside of books with longing for God, my soul struggles to take the others. But it is a stage I had to get to, it's not automatic.

It is impossible, as you know, to separate the writer from the story. Creative Writing is the light or voice of the soul, expressing itself in tons of ways! The Kindergarten child at 5 or 6 years old, likes only a certain kind of T.V, while the Uni Professor is totally different.

Point is, we can only relate to life as we experience it. One man talks about the sweetness of mangoes, another embodies the sweetness, as he has tasted it.

I'm a little sad about HP too, and Mary, God bless her in heaven. A very worthy soul! What happened to Paula? (PFER), or something like that. Eric? The comments section was 100% better.

I support you gesture of goodwill to Misbah too. More Love to you and family, Bro.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 09, 2021:

Good Morning, Bill. Sorry about your drought. We've been getting some of the rain. Great answers, as usual. Great questions too. You're right about the good ole days. I remember hearing of fun conventions. T'would be great to meet some HP friends in person.

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