Sandusky, Ohio – July 2018 – Festival of Sail

Over the years we have had the opportunity to see a few ‘Tall Ships’ festivals, which is an event we always look forward to. This year they had a stop in Sandusky.

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Sandusky is the home of Cedar Point amusement park, as well as a departure point to the Lake Erie Islands.

One of this years event was the ‘World’s Largest Duck’, which dwarfed the island ferry boat.

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This festival had 5 ships: U.S Brig Niagara, Schooner Madeline, Appledore IV, S/V Denis Sullivan and the Nettie G. Howard.

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The Niagara is the largest, with an impressive main mast and crows nest.

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While all of the ships had professional pilots, much of the staff were high school students on a 4-5 week learning adventure.

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These ships always have an amazing number of ropes.

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The device below is not a table, it is basically used for leverage pulling heavy sails up and down.

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We had purchased a 90 minute ‘sailing’ on the Nettie Howard.

As we waited to board we were amused as one of the trainee crew members struggled to grab one of the ropes.

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Just before we left we were serenaded by an acapella group.

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Once on board the crew pulled up a couple of the sails.

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While others neatly stacked the ropes.

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Our exit from the dock gave a great view of the Niagara.

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The sails were impressive from the bottom.

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One of the professional crew had started out a few years ago as a volunteer, and liked it so much he has made it a career.

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Constant training occurred during our sail.

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Our 90 minute sailing was slow, we never even made it out of Sandusky Bay, but did have a nice view of Cedar Point.

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Before you knew it we were nearing the dock and the sails came down.

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And they threw the ropes to the dock hands to tie us up.

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Bucyrus, Ohio – July 2018 – Time Warp Travel for Gas Stations Continued

Another weekend of travel has allowed us to check out not 1 or 2 restored gas stations, but 3. Two of the stations are in the same small Ohio town of Bucyrus.

First up is a Sinclair Station.

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This station is next door to a repair shop owned by Carl. We stopped by at 7 AM on a Saturday morning and Carl was just opening his business up for the morning, and invited us in. Carl has a large collection of auto related items – so much in fact that the TV show American Pickers once paid him a visit.

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Just outside of town is a small restored Marathon station called ‘Mom and Pops’. We saw someone walking out of the driveway as we drove up and asked him it if the station was his. He replied no – but yelled at ‘Bob’ who was outside the house next door if it was ok if we took some photos. Bob yelled back ‘ yep thats what it is there for’.

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In the early days the stations were tiny little buildings, unless they did service.

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This station was well restored.

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As our weekend continued we found ourselves back in Plymouth, Indiana for a stop for dinner. We have previously visited this Mobil station, but in the rain. This gave us a chance to get some photos in better weather.

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And the time warp gas station travel continued.

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On our way home from Pittsburgh we stopped in Steubenville at a auto repair shop that is actually a fully restored Sohio station.

When John Rockefeller had grown Standard Oil to be a monopoly the government forced them to break up – as a result there were a number of Standard Oil companies in different states (not a full list):

Standard Oil of New Jersey – Esso, which became Exxon

Standard Oil of New York – Socony, which became Mobil

Standard Oil of California – Socal, which became Chevron

Standard Oil of Indiana – Stanolind, which became Amoco

Standard Oil of Ohio – Sohio. In the 1980s BP bought Sohio and converted all the stations to BP.

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There are many people who are collectors of ‘petroliana’, old gas station items. Barry Robb must have been one of those people. According to their website Barry was an assistant manager of a former owner, and he took over the station in 1986, operating it as a BP station.

In 2011 their agreement with BP ran out. They restored the look of the original Sohio station, and continued in business as a repair shop only (as well as a museum).

As a side note Sunset and Wilshire looks nothing like the one in California, but still a nice neighborhood.

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Out front is a collection of pumps from various eras.

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While inside (it was closed this day – photos taken through the glass) is a collection of smaller items.

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Interestingly next door is a modern gas station/mini mart.

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After checking out my photos I realized that we have recently came across 3 fully restored stations, and all 3 times we had the same car with us.

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This spectacular Shell station is in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

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Today it serves as a tourist information center.

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Shaped like a giant scallop shell, it is the last of a handful that a local oil company owner had built in the 1930s.

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Another restored gas station – another shot with the GTI in it. This one is a Mobil station in Plymouth, Indiana.

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To add to their atmosphere they have a restored police car in the parking lot.

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Much like the Sohio station in Steubenville their interior has a collection of smalls for Mobil.

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They also have a restored tow truck.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Bicycle Heaven

Another repeat visit that was totally worth it was a second trip to Bicycle Heaven, located on the North Side of Pittsburgh.

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When you collect a few thousands bicycles you also end up with nice collections of parts – the Schwin exhibit.

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In addition to the massive used bike inventory – they have some new ones that have unique designs.

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There are some nice miniatures along the counter.

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Small bike backed up by large banana seats.

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There are some true vintage bikes scattered about the collection.

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As you walk through you see huge piles of bike parts – need a tire?

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Perhaps a chain guard?

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This is known as the Groovy Cranky Panky Sprocket Room.

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There are a few non bikes features.

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A great old peddle airplane.

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Bikes high and low.

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An 1890 bike mixed in.

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Oreo bicycles – must be double stuffed Oreos.

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Bicycle Heaven is always worth a visit, or two.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Miniature Railroad and Village

The Miniature Railroad and Village located at the Carnegie Science Center has origins dating back 100 years. In 1919 Charles Bowdish created a holiday train display in his home in the small town of Brookville, Pennsylvania.

In 1954 it was moved to Buhl Planetarium where it resided until that closed, and moved to it’s current located at the science center in 1992.

The display features life and times in Western Pennsylvania between the 1880s and 1930s.

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IT’S GROUNDHOG DAY! The famed groundhog of Punxsutawney and his home on Gobblers Knob. Will it be an early spring?

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A steel mill. This one is a replica of one in Sharon, PA. Amazingly there are numerous movements of cranes, lifts and other features throughout.

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The lights of the ovens in the mill are illuminated.

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The roundhouse supports the trains that are running throughout the exhibit.

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Everything in the 83′ x 30′ display is hand made by the volunteers and staff. It is based on the ‘O’ scale, 1/4 inch = 1 foot.

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My personal favorite is Forbes Field, the baseball stadium from 1909-1970. Each ‘person’ is a painted Q tip.

The detail even includes a runner going head first into second base.

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The model features hundreds of actual Western Pennsylvania buildings, but not in any geographic detail. While Forbes Field is exact, there was no train running by the stadium – it was sitting in the middle of a neighborhood.

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For locals they can spend hours searching out the places they knew or grew up near.

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The day we were there a very nice young lady named Nicole offered to show us the back room where they make all of the buildings and accessories.

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They have many completed buildings, just not enough room to display them. As noted previously everything is hand made – no kits here.

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Some spare rail cars.

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The hilly terrain of Western PA is well represented.

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A streetcar that became a diner.

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Rodgers Field, located near Oakmont, was Pittsburgh first municipal airport. It operated from 1925-1935.

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The famed Frank Lloyd Wright home Fallingwater. Fortunately the real one does not overlook a steel mill.

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A small ‘patch town’ – coal mine town.

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The roller coaster at Luna Park. Opened in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1905, it was only around for a few years before closing.

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The trees and bushes are made from hydrangeas that are collected and dried. From there each one is hand made using a twisted copper wire for the trunk and limbs. Their goal is that no two trees are exactly alike.

After gluing they paint the tree for the 3 primary seasons, summer, fall and winter. Each tree can take up to 1 day to make, and there are hundreds of thousands of trees on display.

There are larger model train displays around, but this one is well worth the visit.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Art of the Brick Revisited

The art of Nathan Sawaya is so amazing we decided that even though we had previously seen the Art of the Brick exhibit in Cincinnati, we would check it out again since the exhibit was in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that much of the exhibit was the same, the opportunity to photograph a second time was more than enticing enough to go. In addition either I had forgotten many of them, or Nathan has added new ones in the last couple of years.

The exhibit still opens with a short video along with a presentation of a hand holding a single brick – keeping with the theme it starts with 1 brick.

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Many feature famed works of art including American Gothic. On this day I tried to vary the angles of the shots to give perspective to the brick work involved.

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A section called The Sculpture Garden.

We were there on a Sunday morning and the place was empty – in part I believe in the additional cost, $20 over the normal museum entrance fee. But it made for great photos without people in them.

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Tiki Man had interesting lighting for his close up.

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There were some smaller pieces on display as well.

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Ancient Egypt meets plastic bricks.

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Exhibit Name: The Human Condition

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The Lego people of the Human Condition.

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A swimmer (and a voyeur?)

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Note the amazing number of bricks to form the head.

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The Artist’s Studio. Everything, including the paintings in the background are made out of Lego’s.

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Through the Darkness.

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This piece is normally used in all of the advertising.

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Even a simple bucket is very cool when made out of Legos.

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One great feature of the exhibit in Pittsburgh was a 2nd floor balcony where you could view many of the pieces from above.

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Tiki Man is hollow!

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The Human Condition being viewed by a human.

Art of the Brick is one of the best exhibits we have ever had the opportunity to view, and it was not disappointing the second time.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Views of the City

A weekend in Pittsburgh always gives us a chance to check out the sights – some familiar, some new.

First up – the historic Gulf Tower in the morning sun.

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The Strip District (the neighborhood got it’s name because it is a small ‘strip’ of land along the Allegheny River). Once industrial, then vacant, this area is going through a rebirth – including the refurbished Cork Factory – now apartments.

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A great ‘new-old’ sign on a building on Penn Avenue. In this part of the world ‘pop’ is what soda is known as.

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Artwork along the Allegheny. Note the houses on the high bluff across the river – Pittsburgh is a very hilly city.

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Instead of replacing the tracks they just filled them in with mulch to make a path.

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The view down Smallman Street towards downtown Pittsburgh.

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Our final stop in the Strip was a hipster flea market.

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The best views of the Point, Downtown and the Rivers are from West End Overlook.

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From here you get views of the entire valley.

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The pleasure boats were out on this Sunday morning.

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The bright morning sun made the photography challenging.

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A beautiful day for baseball.

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Where the give away for the the fans were fedora hats!

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Swissvale, PA – July 2018 – Rust Belt History and Art

The Monongahela Valley of Pennsylvania was once the center of steel production for not only the U.S., but the entire world. At one point 25% of all steel production in the world came from the Pittsburgh area. For a number of reasons though that industry has all but left the area.

Today many of them have been completely torn down and converted into a variety of uses including office parks and shopping areas.

A portion of one remains: The Carrie Furnaces. The first blast furnaces were built in this area in 1884, closing down in 1982.

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Today it serves as a National Historic Site, open for tours of the remaining furnaces (#6 and #7). Interestingly it is also used for weddings, as evidenced by the left over high heel shoe (left side of the sign).

It should be noted the facility is not restored at all, so whomever is wearing these heels to a wedding held here clearly planned poorly.

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The tallest of the furnaces rise to a height of 92′.

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The shop building is used to check people in to the tour, as well as the aforementioned weddings.

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The site is also used for various metal based artists. The pile of automobile rotors have nothing to do with the mill, although it is likely the steel for the rotors was produced in the Mon Valley.

The rotors are used to teach high school students how to weld and make metal based art.

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As we progressed through we found a number of pieces of ‘Rust Belt Art’.

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One of the first buildings we went in is the railroad car offloading facility. The large arms in the photo would pick up railroad cars full of coal or coke and tip them over the side into the holding bin.

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Deer were a recurring themes in the artwork. This painting is on the bottom of the railroad car offloading building.

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A large steam shovel bucket was brought in to add to the atmosphere.

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The area sat vacant for many years so the park has adopted a ‘controlled’ urban art approach, since much of it had been covered in graffiti anyway.

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A large retaining wall was covered in various paintings, including this one as a tribute to the steel workers.

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Another way back in the corner of the property was very impressive with the integration of the deer with images of the mill.

I was warned of significant poison ivy in the grass and weeds that went to this far corner, but came home no worse for wear, and with a great shot.

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This far corner also provided a nice overview of the remaining furnaces. The buildings that are left are just a fraction of what would’ve been there when the mill was running.

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The tour continued underneath where the coal and coke would moved into the mill from the holding building seen previously. On this day it was quiet and comfortable. For the mill workers this was a loud, dusty, dangerous place.

Our tour guide Doug pointed out that the average steel worker in the early 1900s lived only to their mid 40s, dying of accidents, black lung, or just over worked.

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The tours final stops were in the furnace itself (or rather the buildings that house the main blast furnaces).  Outside is another large sculpture.

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While inside is an amazing collection of massive old steel components that kept the blast furnaces running.

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For the workers this again was a hot, dirty, dangerous place to work. In the early 1900s most were recent immigrants from Italy, Slovakia, Poland and elsewhere in eastern Europe.

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To me the remains provide an awesome setting for photography.

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While virtually the entire place is as it was left, for some reason this crank is recently painted yellow.

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The tour ended in front of Carrie herself. An impressive structure, she was a critical component in the building of America and the World. The steel that came out of her built such impressive structures as the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our tour guide Doug did a great job mixing history, steel making process and personal anecdotes making the 2 hour tour quickly pass by.

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