21 August, 2020

Not much to report from Mazatlán! Hot. Humid. Occasional rain. It’s summer!

On my last walk I noticed that the green vbike bicycles were gone from the malecón. Not sure if the Mayor made good his statement that he was going to get rid of them, or if they’re just off being serviced/???. Will have to keep an eye out and keep updated! You would think he’d want them – they’re expanding the bicycle lane on the Avenida del Mar. More proof that government doesn’t always make sense, no matter what country you’re in!

My gas ran out faster than normal, but I’ve been expecting it for a couple of weeks. When I got up this morning there was a Gaspasa truck parked at the corner and I *almost* ran down and bought a new cylinder. I should have because when I went to cook dinner there was nada! Only took them a half hour to arrive after I called so I’m back in business AND have cooked and eaten dinner! Just a little side note – if you live on anything but the ground floor as I do, please be sure to tip your gas delivery person. I have 35 steps to my apartment and there’s a few with an overhang that people two inches taller than I am bump their head into. Those cylinders are heavy, and even more so when you have to duck to avoid smashing your head and the tank! I usually round the bill up to the next hundred pesos and then throw another hundred in. Gets them a torta and a beer and the extra five/six bucks is well worth it to me.

I’m in week five of a diet. There was a time that I was almost 60 lbs. heavier than I am now, and I’d already shaved over 50 of it off a few years back. I’d told myself that my new weight was fine, but I was still experiencing the occasional thighs rubbing together just from walking, shoulders jiggling when using stairs, and extra belly padding. It’s been a good 17 years since I’ve been below 140 lbs. but I’m there again – and only have three more pounds to go to hit my goal of 135! The news reports about Covid-19 have been saying that being overweight is a big risk factor, and that also prompted me to go on the wagon again.

If you’re overweight and would like the one diet proven time and time again to work, here it is … Eat fewer calories than you burn. Ok, yes, that’s a little simple. First you need to calculate your ‘resting metabolic rate’. This is the amount of calories that you burn just by being alive. There are several websites that will calculate this number for you. Once you have that number, subtract 500. That gives you the number of calories you can eat in a day to lose a pound of fat in a week. It’s always shockingly low. Then you need to track the calories of EVERY single thing you put into your mouth. You don’t turn this in to anyone, it’s private – so don’t cheat. Weigh yourself once a week, on the same day and keep track. If you don’t lose, or if you’re losing more it means your resting metabolic rate calculation was off – make an adjustment to your daily calorie allowance and keep going. As you progress you’re going to be needing less calories a day to stay alive, so you’ll have to drop your daily calorie allowance every once in a while.

You want a low and slow weight loss as this allows you to get a good understanding of calories in food and modifies your eating behavior. For example, broccoli is under 10 calories an ounce. Beans are surprisingly high in calories. Oil is crazy high – it really pays to use a spray oil to minimize the amount you need to cook.

Ok, off my weight loss soapbox! Have a good weekend and take a little time to enjoy the … videos of Mazatlán you find on YouTube!

YouTube video by Mazatleco.com

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8 August, 2020

Just a short post for those who aren’t in Mazatlán, but wish they were!

From my walk yesterday. I was almost out of both mushroom soy sauce and gochujang so a trip to Toyo was in order. If you haven’t been, Toyo is on the last block of Benito Juarez, right before it ends at the Avenida del Mar. While they don’t have all foods Asian, they have a decent selection. So, if you are in need of some rice wine vinegar, or the aforementioned mushroom soy sauce, hit them up!

It was over 90 f. yesterday, but there was a really nice breeze along the malecon between Playa del Norte and Olas Altas. Very few people until I hit the clavadistas – where one of them was jumping! Here are a few pictures …

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4 August, 2020

Today’s topic: ‘Safety in Mazatlán’. In my experience, this could also be titled, ‘Safety in México’. This seems to be the number one question of people thinking of visiting or moving here. I avoid it because there is NO place that’s totally safe. The city you currently live in isn’t totally safe – you just know what areas to avoid to minimize your risk. That should be the question people ask, but never is. So, here are some of the safety issues in Mazatlán that you should be aware of and be on the watch for when you visit. I’m assuming you aren’t in the drug trade, so we can skip the whole cartel thing and just cover things that will affect you!

The first pervasive safety issue doesn’t usually affect me at all. I’m 5′ 4″ tall – a typical height around here. Taller people would be well warned to always be on the lookout for low hanging air conditioner cages! Hard to see from a distance, and cause nasty head injuries! These mainly affect those who like to walk while using their phone. Owch! Shorter people should still be on the lookout for them though – there’s a rare low-straggler!

Air Conditioner Cage
Air conditioner cage – Head injury waiting to happen to tall people!

Not the best example, but this shows the lack of sidewalk height regulations! Little Step, Big Step, Slanted Driveway, Another Step! Thought step aerobics was a thing of the past? Not in México! Sometimes the differences are very small, and those that don’t pay very close attention quickly find themselves with a fairly expensive ride to the hospital to set a broken bone. Please believe me when I say this is a TOP FIVE cause of injury to tourists here.

Sidewalk Height
Sidewalk Height

People seem to think that the sidewalks are theirs to ‘improve’ as they see fit – even if the improvements prevent people from using the sidewalk! Sometimes it’s the CITY doing the improvements!

Utility access covers are rarely flush with the sidewalk, and are typically made from 1/4″ thick (or less) cement. Many have foot shaped holes in them, so in addition to tripping on them, you have to be careful not to fall through one! I just avoid stepping on them at all.

Utility Access
Utility Access

Then there are the cracks, wet sidewalks, and utility pole support wires – which, like air conditioner cages, are very difficult to see … but these will bite you someplace a tad lower than your head! Especially debilitating for guys – and embarrassing for either sex when walked into in public! And water on the sidewalk – each homeowner pretty much decides what materials are going to be used for the sidewalk in front of their home. Some have pretty, shiny, tiles – that are slippery as crap when wet. And wet means water was on it sometime in the last week!

And last, because we were just speaking of crap …. there’s the animal waste! While this will only ruin a pair of shoes and probably not cause you injury, it is a sidewalk hazard one has to look out for!

Animal Waste
Animal Waste

That wraps up the episode on Safety in Mazatlán! Please, be aware when you’re walking! Don’t scan ahead more than 1/4 block. Those pole support wires are REALLY hard to see in the sun, and tiny differences in sidewalk height will give you unwanted memories of your time here! When you see water on the sidewalk tell yourself it’s going to be slippery! And now nod your head because you know why so many people walk in the streets!

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3 August, 2020

I’m sharing a Facebook post by Sinaloa en Linea because, unfortunately, it accurately depicts the current situation with people wearing masks and social distancing. If you look at the pictures closely, you’ll notice many people WITH masks, aren’t wearing them; or they aren’t wearing them properly. Yep. There’s a reason why México is right behind the USA and Brazil.

The New Normal by Sinaloa en Linea

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17 July, 2020

The second kitchen store is a block away, almost at the corner of Azueta and Zaragoza. It’s more kitchen-ie, but many of their products are plastic. They had a variety of tortilla presses in various sizes and had metal, plastic, and wood. Termites would love the wood, so that was a no. Metal only came in JUMBO size, and a strange oval shape (someone tell me what that’s for!). So plastic it is! 140 pesos/$7 usd. More than I think a plastic tortilla press is worth, but I’ll be quiet. I also bought four small ceramic ramekins for the same price.

Then I walked the block to El Pechugón Mazatlán! A half chicken and order of potatoes were $80 pesos/$4 usd. Take another year off my life expectancy!

I figured I’d already been bad, so I walked to the Suaves – Malvavisco Cubierto de Coco. CEA factory and bought a bag of malvaviscos de coco (coconut marshmallows). I’m not a huge marshmallow fan, but these are REALLY good, and when you can get them fresh from the factory – well … 22 pesos/$1.10 usd well spent.

While I did walk past Marisqueria El Changuirongo and avoided the temptation of a liter of ceviche, I was waylaid by the Panadería Don Ramon. Two empanadas de piña waved to me from the display window and I gave in to temptation! 18 pesos/$0.90 usd for the two. Cheaper than the beach vendors!

So now I’m home, wet from neck to waist from sweating in the heat (not from the brief rain). One empanada gone, as is a drumstick and wing from the chicken. Whoever made the chicken today put extra seasonings on it. It is extremely tasty. Remember, if you’re in Mazatlán El Pechugon delivers! I don’t know about their locations in other cities – you’ll have to check (there are a couple of them in Puerto Vallarta. I know some of you also go there, so heads up!).

Ok, time for a little rest before I study for my weekly iTalki (https://www.italki.com/i/6HEbGG?hl=en-us) Spanish lesson. Didn’t seem to find time for it all week! I might just fess up to not studying and ask for a q & a session.

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15 July, 2020

I can state without doubt, that Summer has fully bloomed in Mazatlán. Usually I can tell by the start of the rainy season, but it’s only rained three times and just long enough each time to flood one or two streets briefly.

This time I had to rely on my second trick – the ability to shower comfortably, before 11 am, without touching the hot water knob. I think perhaps it’s time that I can safely shut the hot water tank down for a few months – my tinaco is heating up quite nicely just by the early morning sun!

I made a run to the mercado Pino Suarez today. I was totally out of chicken/beef/pork, and the determining factor – coffee! I drink Marino, which reminds me a lot of Folgers. Strangely a 1 kg can of their ‘Tueste Especial’ is 30 pesos cheaper than the regular roast. There were many more people out and about than previously. Most everyone had masks on. The mercado still has one entrance and one exit available. Sanitizer was squirted in my hand as I entered – but the guy with the temperature gun wasn’t there today. Tomorrow will be the supermercado for a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, and some eggs. And since I have a couple kilo’s of masa from my inattention to labels a few trips ago, I need to pop over to the fun kitchen shop and pick up a tortilla press.

For those that haven’t been to the fun kitchen shop, make your way to the corner of Luis Zuñiga and Azueta. Here’s a Google Map link: https://www.google.com/maps/@23.2059037,-106.4204388,3a,75y,81.06h,83.48t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6rdwPnHZKGCqLcPHNYGbOQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656. The one showing on Google Maps has some talavera style items that are MUCH cheaper than what you’ll find at Shark’s Dean in the Gold Zone. I found the prices to be comparable to prices in Tonála. There’s also another shop almost next door that has a variety of kitchen items as well.

If you’re there a little after noon, you can go a couple of stores down and get some tasty chicken to go from Pechugon! Google Maps is from 2014 so they don’t show on the map, but they’re right there at the corner. Make sure you get some of the potatoes that they cook in the dripping chicken fat! And be like me and don’t tell your diet about it!

And for those that aren’t in Mazatlán and are in need of a little shot in the arm – here’s a video from Sinaloa En Linea …

Carpe Olivera
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7 July, 2020

Since I made a post about Mazatlán today, I’m going to slide this one in quietly since it’s not about Mazatlán …

I just saw a post on MexicoNewsDaily.com about El Chepe restarting operations on 17 July. If you haven’t ridden El Chepe I highly urge you to consider the trip. I rode the train a few years ago and had a blast. It’s the only remaining passenger train in México. Here’s the article: https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/coronavirus/copper-canyon-train-el-chepe-resumes-operations-july-17/

For those who don’t know, México has a canyon system that’s FOUR times bigger than the USA’s Grand Canyon – Copper Canyon/Las Barrancas del Cobre. They also have a passenger train, El Chepe, that runs from Chihuahua to Los Mochis, and makes several stops along the way – Divisadero, where you can experience the best part of Copper Canyon, is one place you have to stay at least overnight.

When I took the train, I started in Chihuahua and made my first stop in Creel. Beautiful area with several locations containing strange rock formations. I highly recommend a trip to the valley of the monks – it’s amazing. There are also two waterfalls. I saw the smaller of the two, Cascada Cusárare. Next time I’m going to see the big one, Cascada de Basaseachi!

My second stop was in Divisadero where I stayed in the Hotel Divisadero Barrancas on the rim of the canyon. There are two that I know of on the rim, the other being the Hotel Mirador Posada Barranca. Next time I’m going with the Mirador as I hear they have better food that you can get at any time (and they’re a Balderrama hotel). Hotel Divisadero Barrancas has set meal times and NOTHING in between! You will want to stay at least one full day to experience the adventure park. They have a 7 line zip-line that they claim is collectively the longest in the world. They also have a single sit-down zip line event, a rock climbing/hiking event, and a gondola you can ride. Single tickets are available, or you can purchase a do-it-all pass. The restaurant in the park has a glass floor so you can see the hikers in the canyon below! Zip lines were my favorite part. My second favorite thing was the food available where the train stops – stalls are set up and food is served when the trains arrive – the types of gorditas are varied, and all of them good! My stay here was two nights/three days – so I was there over a full day, and my executive class train ticket lined up with it’s every-other-day operation.

My third stop was in El Fuerte. I stayed at the Hotel Posada del Hidalgo – it touts itself as the home of El Zorro, and they’re supposed to have a nightly Zorro show, but weren’t doing it when I was there. I really enjoyed the hotel – it’s a beautiful property, but be VERY careful if you come up the steep entry that’s EXTREMELY slippery. Better to go around the corner and come in from their side entrance.

My last stop on El Chepe was in Los Mochis, where I grabbed a couple of hours sleep and then caught the bus down to Mazatlán. I wish I’d stayed in Los Mochis for a few days – maybe next time! The trip to Mazatlán was very uneventful, so plan on a nap or reading a book.

This was, by far, one of my favorite excursions. If you’re on your way to or from Mazatlán, take a week and give yourself an experience you won’t soon forget. If you want to save a couple of bucks, do what I did and fly into El Paso then take a bus to Chihuahua (or bus from Chihuahua to El Paso and fly from there).

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7 July, 2020

I walked and didn’t ride the bus. I was one of three passengers in a boat with a capacity of 18. The beach was empty for over an hour. There was only one other table at Lety’s, that arrived at 11:15 and sat downwind of me. I was the only passenger on the boat back. I walked home from the embarcadero. The only people I came nearer than 6 feet from were Philippe and Ramon at Lety’s, the cashier at the embarcadero, the guy collecting tickets when I returned, the cashier at the fruteria where I stopped for some jalapeños, and the cashier at Abarrotes Sanchez where I bought a toni-col. All of them were wearing masks, as was I. I sanitized my hands after touching anything that wasn’t me or mine! I’m pretty confident that all of the precautions I could have taken were taken.

It was an amazing day at Stone Island! I arrived at the embarcadero playa sur at 9:15. Fifteen minutes later I was at Restaurante Lety’s, but they hadn’t started setting up yet, so I kept walking for another half hour. When I returned, Ramon took my order for a cerveza and some guacamole. Five minutes later I was good to go!

88 f. (31 c.) degrees and so humid mist was coming off the ocean – at 10:00 am! But there was a steady breeze that made it feel just right. Or maybe it was the Bohemia Oscura? In any event, my sole ownership of the beach lasted for almost an hour and a half! Tide was coming in slowly, and was almost up to the restaurant. I think if I’d stayed another couple of hours it might have reached my table! It was a much needed escape from the last four months of confinement to my apartment! If they keep the beaches open I’m going to have to do this on a regular basis.

By the time I left at noon there were a few dozen people on the beach. Beach vendors had been selling for about half an hour. Banana boats and boogie boards were set and ready to rent. All the vendors were wearing masks. The two boats that passed me on my way back to the embarcadero had some people in them – I’m going to say that if you have a covid-19 concern, go early and leave early like I did. I think another hour would have found the beach plenty full of people. Nothing like a normal year, but still – plenty of people. And no one wears a mask while they’re in the water or while they’re eating – keep that in mind too.

Restaurante Lety’s on Stone Island

14,000 steps walked so far today! And a two hour siesta was needed to offset the walking, and perhaps the cerveza! The top of my tan is a little more pink as well – hopefully I’ll be able to get back to my light beige glow and banish the blinding white! I think I’ll have to keep working on it!

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1 July, 2020

Mazatlán, at least for the moment, is back open to tourism. This doesn’t seem to have worked well in the USA, so I’m not too confident it’s going to be good here either. For the moment though, things are open with a few restrictions (masks/social distancing).

I received another email from the US State Department about voting. I’m reposting the information here for those interested …

July 4th Voting Message

Celebrate democracy this 4th of July by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections!

Registering to Vote and submitting a ballot is fast, easy, and can be done from anywhere in the world! Follow a few simple steps to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections:

1. Register to vote: Start by confirming your voter registration with your state. Some states require absentee voters to register annually, so you may need to re-register. Go to FVAP.gov to connect to your state’s voter portal to register to vote, request a ballot, and more.

2. Request Your Ballot: Most states provide the option to request ballots through their state election portals, which you can easily access via FVAP.gov. You can also choose to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which we recommend you do each year, or each time you move, in order to ensure you are registered and receive a ballot. The completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives), including primaries and special elections, during the calendar year in which it is submitted. FPCA forms that are correctly filled out and include a signature and date are accepted by all local election officials in every U.S. state and territory. FVAP’s easy online assistant can assist you with completing the FPCA.

Whether you request your ballot through your state’s portal or the FPCA, we encourage you to select the option to receive your ballot electronically (by email, internet download, or fax) when available. This is the fastest way to get your ballot and ensures you have it in time to return a completed form before your state’s deadline.

3. Receive and Complete Your Ballot: States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office, and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. Most states allow you to confirm your ballot delivery online.

4. Return Your Completed, Signed Ballot: Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically. If your state requires you to return paper-voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you can do so through international mail, professional courier service, or through the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico using the instructions below.

Researching the Candidates and Issues: Go to the FVAP links page for helpful resources to aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain online. You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, or search the internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts. FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook (@DODFVAP), Twitter (@FVAP), and Instagram (@fvapgov).

Returning your FPCA or Ballot through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate: You can return your completed FPCA or signed ballot to the United States via the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  In order to mail election-related materials to the United States, you will need two envelopes.  Address the first envelope to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the mailing address below.  Address the second envelope to your local state election office and enclose your FPCA or ballot inside. The second envelope needs to be postage-paid or have sufficient U.S. postage to be delivered to your local election office from the U.S. sorting facility where it will be mailed.  Seal the second envelope, place it inside the first envelope, and mail the package to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It can take up to four weeks for election-related materials to reach their final destination in the United States.

You can download and print a U.S. postage-paid envelope from the FVAP website.

Mailing addresses for the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico:

    U.S. Embassy Mexico City
    American Citizen Services, Room 101
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Av. Paseo de la Reforma 305 
    Col. Cuauhtémoc, 06500
    Ciudad de Mexico 
    ACSMexicoCity@state.gov
    U.S. Consulate General Ciudad Juarez
    Voting Assistance Officer
    Paseo de la Victoria 3650
    Fracc. Partido Senecu, 32543
    Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua

    VoteCiudadJuarez@state.gov

    U.S. Consulate General Guadalajara
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Calle Progreso 175
    Col. Americana, 44160
    Guadalajara, Jalisco
    VoteGuadalajara@state.gov
    U.S. Consulate General Hermosillo
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Avenida Monterrey 141
    Col. Esqueda, 83000
    Hermosillo, Sonora
    VoteHermosillo@state.gov
    U.S. Consulate General Matamoros
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Calle Constitución No. 1
    Colonia Jardín, 87330
    Matamoros, Tamaulipas
    VoteMatamoros@state.gov
    U.S. Consulate General Merida
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Calle 60 No. 338-K x 29 y 31
    Col. Alcala Martin, 97050
    Merida, Yucatan

    VoteMerida@state.gov

    U.S. Consulate General Monterrey
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Ave. Alfonso Reyes 150
    Col. Valle del Poniente, 66196
    Santa Catarina, Nuevo León
    VoteMonterrey@state.gov
    U.S. Consulate General Nogales
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Calle San José s/n
    Fraccionamiento los Alamos, 84065
    Nogales, Sonora

    VoteNogales@state.gov

    U.S. Consulate General Nuevo Laredo
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Paseo Colon 1901
    Col. Madero, 88260
    Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
    VoteNuevoLaredo@state.gov
    U.S. Consulate General Tijuana
    Voting Assistance Officer 
    Paseo de las Culturas s/n
    Mesa de Otay, Delegación Centenario, 22425
    Tijuana, Baja California
    VoteTijuana@state.gov

Mission Mexico is operating with limited emergency services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are unable to accept your ballot in person at this time.

Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov. If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Mexico at +52 (55) 8526 2561 or via the e-mail addresses listed above.

Remember, your vote counts!

Assistance:

  • For Emergency Assistance for U.S. citizens in Mexico, call (55) 8526 2561 from Mexico or 1-844-528-6611 from the United States.
  • State Department – Consular Affairs: 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Follow the U.S. Embassy in Mexico on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Mexico.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergencies. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
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    23 June, 2020

    I am going to take a moment to post this. Just saw a post in a Mazatlán Facebook group that indicated the poster thinks that México is the size of Colorado.

    México is NOT the size of Colorado. It is also NOT in South America (saw that the other day too).

    Before the Méxican-American war, México was even bigger (see second diagram).

    México is NOT a third world nation, it is a Developing Market Economy.

    México has a canyon system FOUR TIMES BIGGER than the United State’s Grand Canyon (google barrancas del cobre/copper canyon).

    México has the largest city, by population, in North America – México City. Current population is around 22 million. Chapultapec Park is TWICE the size of New York’s Central Park.

    9% of the oil in the USA is imported from México. Top U.S. imports from Mexico in 2018 were:

    • Vehicles and parts. $93 B.
    • Electrical machinery and equipment. $70 B.
    • Machinery and mechanical appliances and parts. $66 B.
    • Optical or medical instruments and parts. $18 B.
    • Furniture, bedding and lighting. $10 B.
    • Plastics and plastic articles. $7 B.
    • Vegetables. $7 B.
    • Iron or steel articles. $6 B. The list goes on.

    Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there are many places that don’t have paved roads. Yes, some septic systems can’t handle toilet paper being flushed into them. But the people are extremely friendly, the country is absolutely beautiful, the beaches are spectacular, and the food is amazing.

    Again – BIGGER THAN COLORADO. Pass it along.

    Size of México compared to countries in Europe.
    Land owned by México before the Méxican-American war.
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