• Resumé Dates or No Dates? and Are There REALLY Jobs for Seniors on the Horizon or Is That Just a Mirage??

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    Today, a trusted friend and HR Guru, sat me down, drilled into my brain via my eyeballs and said: “Take those dates off your resumé!”

    I immediately started stuttering, “But, but isn’t that deceitful? Or, at the very least dissembling? And won’t that be a shock when I waltz my 60+ year-old self into the interview?”

    The Guru answered, “You know we HR folk are not as dumb as some people like to think we are. We can tell how long you’ve been working by simply reading your work history, experience and accomplishments. Clearly, you’re not just fresh out of college.”

    “That being said,” she continued, “in today’s job market we are inundated with resumés for each job we post. Hence, we are desperately seeking ways to winnow them down to a reasonable number. Sadly, your dates might prove an easy fix. Not that any self-respecting hiring manager would ever admit age bias but…”

    “On the other hand, if you have a brilliant, innovative working resumé – with no dates to shut us off at the first pass – by the time we finish reading and realize you are most probably a bit long in the tooth we really don’t see it as a barrier.”

    *************

    Now to those jobs on the horizon… US News and World Report actually published an article this week, titled Retired Workers Will Be Wooed to Return [to Work] by Philip Moeller.

    Wooed to Return??? Perhaps, it’s been so long since I’ve been wooed that I no longer grasp the meaning of the word, but I do question the veracity of this prediction. Then, too, I do not like to think myself a skeptic, so please read this bit of sunshine and let us know what you think.

  • Singing Your Heart Out at 80 and Kicking Your Heels Up at 106!

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    Janey Cutler is living proof that you’re never too old to dream a dream!

    “Britain’s Got Talent” had a rare treat this past Saturday night when 80 year-old Janey Cutler sang Edith Piaf’s ‘No Regrets’ (‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien‘) from La Vie en Rose. She, like last year’s unexpected BGT star Susan Boyle, hails from Glasgow, Scotland – something in the water perhaps?

    YouTube Preview Image

    Although the 80 year-old was physically tremulous and had to be helped onto the BGT stage, there was nothing shaky about this chantreuse’s voice. Her deep, mezzo-soprano was powerful and passionate, and the audience rose en masse to give her a standing ovation almost as soon as Janey Cutler began to sing.

    When asked where she’d been all these years, she replied, ‘oh you know, me wee pubs and clubs’. The judges including Simon gave Janey Cutler ‘3000 and three yeses’ so she’s on to the next round. No doubt she will be singing before the Queen, who is, of course, also an octogenarian!

    Janey and Queen Elizabeth, however, are wee whippersnappers compared to Doris Eaton Travis, the last surviving Ziegfeld Girl, who died this Tuesday.

    Archival Photo: Doris Eaton Travis as a Ziegfeld Girl.

    In her NY Times obituary, Douglas Martin writes, “From 1907 to 1931, beneath towering, glittering, feathered headdresses, the Ziegfeld Girls floated across grand Broadway stages in lavish pageants known as the Ziegfeld Follies, often to the wistful tune that Irving Berlin wrote just for them: ‘A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody.‘ They were former waitresses, farmers’ daughters and office workers who had dreampt of becoming part of Florenz Ziegfeld’s own grand dream of ‘glorifying the American girl.’”

    Just a few weeks ago, she was back on 42nd Street kicking up her 106 year-old heels for her annual appearance at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS annual benefit.

    Doris Eaton Travis never stopped dancing; indeed, she had No Regrets!

    Mrs. Travis in 2009. Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

  • Betty White: Stereotype-Buster or Panderer? Who Really Won the Evening: SNL, Betty White or Facebook?

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    Did any one else see the great triple paradox between Betty White, the 88-year-old “golden girl,” and her Mother’s Day Eve hosting of that “mother-of-all-Saturday-Night-Live episodes,” and her put-down of the gallant white Facebook horse she rode in on???

    The media is exclaiming about Betty’s stunning performance on SNL. RTT News, the Global Financial News wire proclaimed: “Betty White’s appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend was a hit with viewers. The NBC comedy series recorded its best overnight ratings in 18 months on Saturday. The show picked up an 8.8 share, according to Nielsen, making the episode the highest rated since November 1, 2008, when Ben Affleck hosted and Senator John McCain was a special guest.”

    While the NY Times “Arts Beat” blogger, Dave Itzkoff loudly proclaimed, ” All it took to reinvigorate a 35-year-old comedy show was the presence of an 88-year-old woman,” he also noted towards the end of his blog in a much quieter tone:

    “If you watched carefully, you might have noticed that many of Saturday’s skits were simply new variations on recurring “SNL” bits like “MacGruber” or its “Lawrence Welk Show” parody. …And if you really want to get picayune about it, most of Ms. White’s jokes boiled down to some version of her (a) saying something totally inappropriate for her age, or (b) making some kind of subtle — or blatant — sexual innuendo. But really, who cares, when so many of them worked?”

    This begs the question: did they really work or were some folks just dazzled by someone whom they thought was beating the “old woman stereotype” or in awe that SNL finally offered an old lady the role of host?

    My reaction is that Betty White was just fighting one stereotype with another and not too successfully at that.  I had a truly “feisty” grandmother and she never once pandered to deliver something “totally inappropriate for her age” or subtle or otherwise “sexual innuendo.” Betty White delivered what she or the folks at SNL wanted her to deliver, and I call that pandering not stereotype-busting.

    Robert Bianco, USA Today, also sensed something was askew as he wrote: “Betty White’s ‘SNL’ stint: Less than Golden.” …Perhaps no show could have lived up to expectations created for this week’s Saturday Night Live by the Facebook campaign that got Betty White her first hosting job after a 35-year wait… Yet in the end, Saturday’s over-hyped NBC broadcast mostly served to explain why SNL seemed so reluctant to bring White on board. Clearly, they didn’t know what to do with her. …So they had her make some blue jokes, bear the brunt of multiple “isn’t she old” jokes, and pump for the upcoming MacGruber movie — and then make a few more blue jokes. …None of this was White’s fault, who once again proved that she is both a pro and an extremely good sport. What laughs there were, outside of Weekend Update, were pretty much provided by her and her alone, and that’s not something you can say about every host. She just deserved better. And after a 35 year wait, so did we.”

    The final – for now – element of the paradox is: why did Betty skewer the horse (Facebook) she rode in on. My feisty grandmother taught me to never insult your host, but right out of the box, Betty did when she called Facebook a “waste of time.” Had she forgotten that she was finally offered the top SNL spot after her fans launched a hugely successful grassroots Facebook campaign.

    As the Christian Science Monitor noted, “In January, David Matthews, of San Antonio, launched the Facebook page “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” after Ms. White appeared in a popular 2010 Super Bowl ad for Snickers candy. By mid-March, several hundred thousand Facebookers had signed on to Matthew’s petition, and it was announced that the former Golden Girl would be hosting a special Mother’s Day episode on May 8.”

    How was Facebook a waste of Betty’s time: for the SNL invitation and for whatever her professional future – thanks to Facebook – now holds?

    It makes me wonder what other issues might be resolved through the power of a Facebook campaign!

    One more thought:  When I read in today’s Washington Post, Adam Bernstein’s tribute to Lena Horne, who died Sunday at age 92, I was reminded of her 1942, ground-breaking contract with MGM in which it was writ that she would “never have to play a maid.” Perhaps, Betty White’s next contract – be it with SNL or another – should stipulate that she “never has to ‘play’ at being an old woman!”

  • Color Your Way to Success: Learn What Colors Reveal About You and The Organization Where You Think You’d Like to Work

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    I’ve just been studying David McCandless’ amazingly informative “Infographic of the Day: What Colors Mean Across 10 Cultures,” in an article by Cliff Kuang, published in Fast Company Magazine online, Apr 26, 2010.

    "Colours in Cultures," by David McCandless

    “The chart encompasses 10 different cultures, and 62 emotions (!!!). The cultures are represented by concentric rings, and the emotions are represented by slices of the circle. Thus, if you want to understand about Japanese color sensibilities, you read around the graph. And if you want to learn what colors mean “danger” across cultures, you just read vertically, down section 15.”

    Kuang says, “Colors are probably the most obvious way that design varies across cultures … But the funny thing is that for most designers and companies, those color sensibilities often don’t rise past ‘Red is lucky in China; blue is soothing in the West.’ That’s naive.”

    Consider, for example that # 66, Personal Power is represented by purple in Western /American cultures; yellow in Hindi; and green in Native American.

    # 77, Success = red in Native American, Chinese, Asian and South American; and green in African cultures.

    # 46, Intelligence = blue in Western/American; white in Hindi and black in Asian.

    This is not to say that you have to wear certain colors, but you need to be aware of what they represent to the organizations where you are trying to present yourself as the best candidate.  Do you wish to leave the impression that you are powerful, or maybe intelligence is key to who you are and what you can contribute?

    In the same light, be aware of the colors the organization has chosen to represent itself. Is it a cool calm blue, a peaceful green or a powerful, highly energetic red/orange environment?

    It’s not that your colors have to coordinate with the organization’s decor but they should not clash. Would your calm, introspective demeanor thrive in hot pink?

    Most important: be authentic. Do not dress in flamboyant, flashy colors if your brightest hue is traditionally moss green. Be true to yourself and your colors – that is always the best path to long-term success!

  • Ingenuity Is Essential: Could Tech Tools Have Helped Hansel and Gretel?

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    Would text messages have been more effective than their trail of breadcrumbs? Not really. Sure the birds gobbled up their tasty breadcrumbs, but their cell phone’s battery could have died just as easily or, deep in the forest as they were, they could have lost their signal. Far better to rely on your own ingenuity than any ancillary tools…

    Abandoned by their parents and lost in the woods, Hansel and Gretel soon learned they had to draw on their own resources to survive. Today, many of us have been abandoned by our employers – hopefully not as perniciously as the old woodcutter but still leaving us alone in the “bleak forest” of the job market wilderness.

    Arthur Rackham

    Several parallel lessons for today’s job seekers jump right off the pages of this cautionary fairytale.

    First, of course, don’t trust your parents – or more to the point, don’t trust that your current job is going to be there forever. Even if everything seems peachy in your office, external elements (for H&G it was the wicked step-mother) can quickly turn your life upside-down.

    Second, don’t be mislead by gingerbread houses. Some jobs may look luscious from the outside but once inside you may find you’re the tasty morsel.

    Third, while you may – in your desperation to secure any job – have been lured into the wrong situation, you can still escape.

    Gretel, pretending thermal ignorance, cleverly tricks the witch into popping her own head into the over to test the heat. Whereupon, Gretel shoves the witch all the way in and seals the oven door.

    Gretel then frees Hansel from the cage where the witch had kept him while he “fattened up,” and together they cavort about in joy.

    Alas, the story then begins to fall apart as a “little luck in the form of a white duck” escorts them safely home, where they discover their nasty stepmother has conveniently died.  Then, too, their instant forgiveness of their irresponsible father seems more than a bit of a stretch, but that’s fodder for a whole other story.

    In a more positive light, let’s reflect back on how Gretel’s ingenuity caused the witch’s demise…

    The good news is that such ingenuity is not only the provenance of youth or limited to fairytales. Last week, the NY Times published Tara Parker-Pope’s very reassuring interview with Barbara Strauch about her new book, “The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind.”

    Strauch defines the new middle age as 40-65, and she says research has shown that during this time, “if we’re relatively healthy our brains may have a few issues, but on balance they’re better than ever during that period.” In fact, during this period, “the new modern middle age, we’re better at all sorts of things than we were at 20.”

    When Parker-Pope asks, “what kinds of things does a middle-aged brain do better than a younger brain?” Strauch replies, “Inductive reasoning and problem solving — the logical use of your brain and actually getting to solutions. We get the gist of an argument better. We’re better at sizing up a situation and reaching a creative solution. They found social expertise peaks in middle age. That’s basically sorting out the world: are you a good guy or a bad guy?”

    “Good Guys and Bad Guys” – Good Jobs and Bad Jobs.” Sounds like we still have the mettle and ingenuity to avoid the gingerbread, identify the witch and nip her culinary aspirations in the bud. And that’s without a “lucky white duck!”

  • Thanks Be To Shakespeare: Those Telling Details in the Story Behind Your Resumé Really Do Matter

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    Renown scholar, Harold Bloom, in his book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, declared, “before Shakespeare, there was characterization; after Shakespeare, there was character, men and women with highly individual personalities.”

    “Our highly individual personalities” are what set us apart in today’s highly competitive job market.  Those individual details transform the nitty gritty skills and experience data in our resumés into a living picture of who we are and what motivates us.  With so many highly qualified (skills and experience) candidates applying for so few positions, it is more important than ever to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the pack.

    We need to stop dreading the “interview” and look at it as a real opportunity to breathe some life into our experience. That being said, particularly if you have a lot of experience, the interview is not a moment to ramble through your work history. Remember: less is more! Your details need to focus on specific experience that is strategically related to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a job that involves creating networks of people and organizations which can be leveraged to collectively address a need, you should be prepared to share stories about the ways in which you have brought parties together, engaged and motivated them to act, and what results were achieved. Be brief and succinct but provide details that “tell” how you made it happen. You could describe how you identified key players and any challenges you faced bringing traditionally non-team players to the table. Hopefully, this involves gentle persuasion and not knocking heads together. Anyone can knock heads together, gentle persuasion where everyone feels part of a win-win solution is an art. And don’t be afraid to include a little humor. The person with whom you are interviewing wants to be assured you are committed but also that you do not consider work a forced march.

    Listen to the ways in which you describe yourself. Are they relevant to the job at hand? Ask yourself if this sounds like a person with whom you would like to work? As you share your stories, your values, energy and enthusiasm will rise to the surface. These are not things you can manufacture. Greek characters were shaped and driven by their circumstances. Our personalities reflect choices we have made and provide a blueprint for choices we will make in the future. Those choices add meaning to our work and make our contributions meaningful – a compelling asset.

  • Actions Speak Louder than Words: “Kill Your To-Do List!”

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    Fellow blogger, Leo Babauta, suggests a actionable alternative to the traditional, mind-numbing, guilt inducing “To-Do” list by which many of us function.

    Art Courtesy of: www.smalldotsandbeautyspots.com

    Leo writes,

    “Most people reading this will have a to-do program, or a paper list or text file, listing not only projects and tasks but separate lists for home and work and possibly half a dozen different contexts.

    Those who don’t have a to-do list probably feel they should, because they’re swamped and feeling overwhelmed.

    I’m here to suggest: kill your to-do list.

    It sucks up your time, and drains your motivation. Those who have to-do lists usually manage them constantly, or if they don’t they fall into disuse and get dusty and become worthless, while the person who’s fallen behind in maintaining the list feels constantly guilty. For those who keep up with the lists, they spend a lot of time on the lists they could be spending … doing something important.

    And what of these lists? They’re long, you never get to the end of them, and half the time the tasks on the list never get done. While it feels good to check items off the list, it feels horrible having items that never get checked off. This is all useless spending of mental energy, because none of it gets you anywhere.

    The only thing that matters is the actual doing.

    So what’s a better system?

    The One Thing System

    Here’s what I do, and highly recommend to anyone willing to break free of the to-do list:

    1.  I wake up in the morning, and decide what One Thing I’m excited about.

    2.  Then I focus on doing that, pushing everything else aside, clearing distractions, and allowing myself to get caught up in the moment.

    But … but …

    Read Leo’s complete post at www.zenhabits.net

  • You Are What You Tweet! How to Mine and Mind Your “Twittersphere.”

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    Yes, those pithy 140 character manifestos are the heart of the matter, but those whom you choose to follow and those who choose to follow you are of equal import.  Each component constitutes your brand, so you need to think before you tweet.

    Twitter offers a unique opportunity to promote your brand and your expertise but it is not just a one way street. Well it could be, but to use such a vast social media network just to promote yourself is a huge underutilization of the tool. Twitter is also a listening device and information filter. You can find the latest research and the response to that research. You can identify trends and position yourself vis à vis that intelligence accordingly. By focusing your tweets you can become an area issue expert – a thought leader – and connect with a highly targeted group that is directly relevant to your interests. These connections can be invaluable sources for new ideas and alternative, out-of-the-box ways of thinking.

    Again, the beauty of Twitter is that you’re not just telling the world you are an expert. By tweeting in an authentic and transparent manner, people will take note and begin to follow you. They will find you, and Twitter is good about alerting you as to who is on your trail. I know because Twitter keeps emailing me about people who are following this blog. Even more, Twitter let’s you review your “follower’s” profile. Then you can decide if you want to be followed by that individual. If not, you can block them or, if you think you’re being spammed, alert Twitter and the powers behind the Tweets will investigate.

    Once you have okay’d a follower, it’s easy to follow them in turn. However, I would caution against this until you are sure that they add something positive, credible and equally authentic to your network.

    This is not a popularity contest where the Tweeter with the most followers wins. Remember, your Twitter network is very transparent and you will quickly lose credibility if it’s perceived you’re just racking up numbers and not monitoring content quality.

    In the same way, don’t you start following any dog’s body under the sun. Make sure there is value added there for both you and your followers.

    Last, but far from least Tweet. You need to contribute to the dialog. You have an opportunity to demonstrate your unique insights . If you provide valuable content, and share links to interesting,  on-topic articles and blog posts you will gain influential followers. If your Twitter “followers” find your content useful and insightful, they may re-tweet you, broadening your network and reinforcing your position as a thought leader.

    You, too, should re-tweet. What you choose to re-tweet indicates what you find interesting or provocative and becomes part of your brand. Plus, it signifies that you are aware that you do not know everything and are open to learning more. Other Tweeters like to be recognized for their expertise also – and the more you share the more people will be willing to share with you.

    The ‘twittersphere’ can be a rich medium if you cultivate it with care.

  • For Editing Out Loud!

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    Write, Edit, Print, Proofread, Squint, Read Aloud and Then Have Your Computer Read Your Magnum Opus Back To You!

    I’ve just discovered a new way to analyze the compositions (cover letters, business proposals, thank-you notes, stories and the odd bit of poetry) I create on my computer. I was familiar with all the time-tested functions: editing for content clarity; printing to assess narrative flow; proofreading to eradicate typos, misspelling, and punctuation errors; squinting at the printed document to check spacing and alignment; and reading aloud to determine if it sounds compelling.

    I’ve always been fortunate to have friends willing via email “attachment land” to back-up my editing, proofreading and squinting skills with their own ruthless critique of my writing. The “Read Aloud” component, however, has always been illusive. Reading my own writing aloud is tricky because my mind will assume words are there when I haven’t actually typed them or it races ahead since, after multiple revisions, I almost know the document by heart.

    My writing life changed when one of my editing gurus introduced me to “Alex.” Alex is just one of the many voices you can choose to read any text in your computer out loud to you. Once you know about Alex and his friends, it’s very easy to set up the “Read Aloud” feature on your computer. At least, it’s truly straightforward on my Mac. I’ll walk the uninitiated through the process here, and invite any PC users to please let us know how it can be done on your computers.

    First step: Click on the Apple in the Top Menu Bar and select “System Preferences.”

    In your System Preferences folder, select the microphone “Speech” Icon in the fourth column down :

    In the Speech dialog box, select “Text to Speech.” Then choose your “System Voice.” I chose “Andy” but there are a number of other male and female voices ready to read to you.

    I chose “Normal” “Speaking Rate but you can slow it down if you want to listen even more carefully. “Fast” may be okay if you want to speed read, but I cannot edit in speed read mode.

    The last and final set-up step for the purpose of this exercise is to Check the “Speak selected text…” box and “Set Key.” I kept the key stroke simple: Command S (for speak to me.)

    Give it a test run by retrieving a document from your files. Hit Command A to select all the text you’d like to hear. Then, type Command S and “Alex” (or whomsoever’s personality you have chosen) will immediately begin to read aloud to you.

    Apologies to those who already know about this nifty tool but I thought it simply amazing and wanted to share with others who, like me, had no idea Alex was poised and ready to speak!

  • Be Resourceful: 10 Simple Tricks To Remembering Names

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    Here in Maine “resourcefulness” is a necessity and not just a positive attribute. Knowing, for example, that – due to our prolonged frost season –  it is unsafe to plant our gardens a moment before Memorial Day, some of us have created unique winter gardens from one of Maine’s most abundant natural resources: the stones, which thrive on our beaches year-round.

    Rachel's Winter Garden

    In a different but equally vital ode to resourcefulness, Helen Coster in  Forbes Magazine’s “Entrepreneurs” section, recently published a great top ten list of simple tricks to remembering names.

    As much as we Savvy Seniors tout the value of social media networking, we never minimize the benefit of face-to-face, in-person networking. The big risk, however, is that just as you connect with the person most vital to your life, your work or your future you draw a blank on his or her name. It happens to the best of us. The only aspect that could be age specific is that the older we get, the more names we hold in our mental database.

    Forbes presented the tips in a funky slide slow that’s a bit difficult to follow, so we’ve copied and pasted them here for your ease of reading and remembering. Our favorite – being as resourceful as we are – is #9, Speak Up.

    Thank you, Forbes!

    1. Plenty of business deals (and romantic rendezvous) have been foiled because someone failed to recall the right name at the right time. There are tricks to remembering names. Benjamin Levy, author of Remember Every Name Every Time, advocates the FACE method: “focus, ask, comment and employ.” Focus: Lock in on the person’s face. Ask: Inquire which version he prefers (“Is it Ted or Theodore?”). Comment: Say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head (“My college roommate’s name was Ted.”) Employ: Put the name to use–“Nice seeing you, Ted”–to drive it home.

    2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: The most surefire strategy is to repeat the person’s name–both in your head, and out loud–as soon as possible after you’ve been introduced. Occasionally use the person’s name in conversation. “Pleasure to meet you, Bob,” or “Bob, so good to see you.” Don’t overdo it, of course, but don’t worry that Bob will recoil, either. He’d rather you remember his name than not.

    3. Picture This: Turn someone’s name into an image that you can remember. When you meet Shirley, think of a Shirley temple. Don’t laugh – it works.

    4. Spell It Out: Another imagery-based tactic: Ask someone to spell out his or her name. If you can picture the letters in your mind, you’ll have a better chance of remembering the name. A derivation on that: Imagine the person’s name written across his forehead, like a billboard.

    5. Connect: Try to associate names with things people tell you about themselves (careers, hobbies) that will trigger the sound or association of the name in your mind. Fred likes to fish, Margarita runs a bar, you get the idea.

    6. Word Play: Let the words do the work for you. Mnemonic devices (Dale works in sales) work nicely, as does alliteration (Jim from Jersey).

    7. Lead the Way: If you know that your name will be hard to remember or pronounce, do other people a favor and help them out. They’ll return the favor – or, if you’re chatting with a Mike or a Bob, maybe they’ll make some big production out of their own common name, making it stick in your mind.

    8. Put Pen to Paper: It’s not enough to write down a person’s name as soon as possible after meeting them. Record the name in a “new contacts” file, and include when and where you met.

    9. Speak Up: Embarrassing as it seems, don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat his or her name. Start out with a compliment, such as “I’ve had so much fun talking with you, and I’ve completely forgotten your name.” If you realize you’ve blanked on a name a few seconds after introduction, just say “I’m sorry, I missed your name.”

    10. Prime the Pump: You spy a person, whose name you’ve forgotten, making her way toward you. What to do? If you’re speaking with someone you know, introduce them right off the bat. The newcomer will probably introduce herself on her own. Problem solved.

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