What’s Dan Done?

I’ll admit it, my vision and attentive care for this blog have faltered.

I’ve been so busy tending to the new website, I haven’t been sharing the personal side of things over here. I don’t know what the future holds for us here on The New Dialogue, but I will give you the scoop – and it’s a good one – on what’s been making me wish I could stuff a few more hours into each new day.

Pencil and Paper in a Virtual World

Friends, family and followers – my ever more dextrous fingers have been wearing my keyboard thin over these past few weeks. There are a few factors behind this frantic foolishness.

Website Reviews

When I first conceived of The Parrington Review, I didn’t actually see web review as something either relevant or important to my plan for a reviews-based website. I was going to write about films and literature, you see – almost just a professional extension of The New Dialogue. I was going to tell you what I thought about my favorite (and least favorite) books and movies.

I haven’t abandoned that aspect of my new project, you know; it’s certainly taken a back seat, though, with the sudden and radical emergence of my website reviews. I’ve gotten involved with a number of neat groups and resources on LinkedIn in the past month and a half, see, and I figured something out pretty quick: everyone with an online professional life seems to have a website showcasing their value to the online world.

It’s a great concept, building a home for your online working presence. You pay an acceptable fee for the power to represent yourself, your work and your ambitions in any way you see fit. You create a doorway to the world: one that you can open as wide as you like, and through which the virtual community can visit and do business with you.

Everyone wants to share their corner of the web. What I found in many cases, unfortunately, was this: while many voices are raised across the internet in an effort to draw some much needed attention to themselves, few of us take the time to listen. The internet is a big mouth with tiny little ears.

As a longtime lover of all things technological, and as someone with an intuitive grasp of user experience and web interface, I soon saw that there was a small way in which I might make a difference – all while building a reputation for myself that would reflect my values and priorities.

I started to ask people for their website addresses, promising to give my feedback in exchange for their willingness to share. People began to open up, and then the process picked up momentum. Soon I was swamped with requests for website review – not as an expert, but as a peer and an average user.

Now here we are. I’ve written over 30,000 words in website reviews, and have even kicked off a paid service for more advanced versions of the basic review. I have a business partner who takes care of the technical side of evaluation, and I cover content, aesthetic and navigation. It’s a lot of fun, and it feels good to help make my part of the web just a little bit better.

Content and Copywriting

As a natural extension of my love for writing and getting involved in the projects of those around me, I have also been offering a wide scope of user- and internet-friendly writing services.

I write in quite an array of contexts, from blogs to web pages to corporate communications. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with a new set of data and a way of presenting my client’s business or subject matter in a way that appeals to their audience; I enjoy getting to know each new audience, and figuring out what they need from me as the communicator.

https://parrington.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=300&action=edit&message=10Following are a few of the very diverse situations in which I am currently writing.

(1) AtContent

These digital content distribution experts from Russia were my very first formal client. Their business is in enabling authors and producers of other content to extend the reach of their audience and influence. They accomplish this by means of a system that grants commissions to those who successfully share other folks’ content across the web. It’s pretty neat tech stuff, and I’ve enjoyed working with them so far.

Check out their Features, FAQ and About pages to see some of my work with them. I wrote those pages entirely! I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see the first of my professionally produced content appear on the website.

(2) Baldrige Resource Library

My second venue was a referral from my friend Brian Loebig of Loebig Ink. It doesn’t pay me a dime, but writing for a blog belonging to this prestigious national award organisation has provided me with widened distribution and visibility for my work. Brian, another gentleman and I write reviews and summaries on quality improvement articles for business applications.

Sound dry? Well, it’s not nearly as bad as you might think. In fact, Aura seems to genuinely enjoy proofreading my posts for this site. Here are my two favorites, in case you want to have a look:

Around the Bend: Eight Factors That Will Change Our World and A Global Social Responsibility Standard.

(3) Eye Spy Electronics

Dave Rogers, my client at Eye Spy, runs a security camera and alarm sales, installation and service business in St. Louis, Missouri. He’s one heck of a pleasant guy to work for, and pours a lot into his work. Dave has asked me to rewrite all the content on his site, which I’ve been doing page by page. I’m expanding my fairly raw web development skills through this process, as well.

I also write two articles per week on his company blog. I can’t express just how much I’ve learned through preparatory research about home securitytechnology! Here are my two most recent contributions:

Understanding the Security Camera and Part II.

(4) Criminal Thinking

Brian Loebig, who I mentioned above, has a past career in criminal rehabilitation. One of his major projects, particularly since leaving that field, has been the establishment of a website full of resources for those who still work it. Brian has created a great deal of material for instructional applications, and now he is converting a lot of it into web-friendly formats and expressions.

My role is as editor for new articles on the Criminal Thinking Deterred blog. Brian essentially passes me old instructional material, and I rewrite it in a more conversational style. It’s fun work – and again, I’m learning something new every time I prepare one of these articles.

Here are a couple more links for you to check out: Misguided Sentiments and Anger Unmanaged.

What’s Next for The Parrington Review?

Expect to see a lot of growth and change on my site over the next year. It’s only been up a month, and in that time the business has grown to what I’m sharing with you now.

In the near future, I intend to bring into play a reviews service for self- and e-published authors. The freebie aspect of this new feature is going to be modelled loosely on the website reviews service – a free option for anyone to take advantage of, with featured articles on great independant work.

We’re also considering having some of these same authors write their own reviews of given ebooks, providing them with the opportunity to have their voices heard on a platform of our provision. It’s just an idea, and we’ll have to see where it goes.

I do also want to get the film reviews rolling out with a little more regularity, if at all possible. I love film almost as much as I reel in books, and it would be satisfying to get some of that personal content out onto the site. It can be difficult to write content for my own site, however, when I’m so busy writing it for others.

What About The New Dialogue?

I’m not abandoning you, faithful readers! I may not be posting as often on this blog, but I will be here from time to time. When my schedule permits, I’d love to share with you the daily experiences, small victories and defeats, that come with this lifestyle. I have more stories to tell about friends and family, loved ones and special places. We’ll get there.

Did you guys get a chance to read Kieran and Emery‘s personal blogs? Each of them started one a couple weeks back, and they’re very proud of the result so far. Drop by, take a look, and leave a comment – these boys live and breathe for comments🙂

That’s all for now, everyone. I’ll be back as soon as I can – I promise! In the meantime, hang out with me over at The Parrington Review, and join me as I continue to pursue my adventure in online work.

We’ve got a lot more ground to cover, folks, and I look forward to every step of it.

We’re Live.

We're Live BannerThe Parrington Review is open for business!

Have a look at my new site – it’s a day old now. Thanks to those who came by yesterday for the grand opening – it was a wild success, with over three hundred and fifty visits in twelve hours. If this is the way things are going to be, we’re going to have a blast over the next while. Lots of great content coming your way, even if the first while is a little chaotic.

It’s my hope that as things normalise to some degree, we can pick up the pace again here on The New Dialogue as well.

In the meantime, cruise on over to the new digs and tell me what you think!

Cheers, Dan

Nearly there!

Internet banner

Hi everyone!

For those of you who wondered about what was happening – or more appropriately, not happening – on the 25th, this should bring you up to speed.

The 25th – this past Tuesday – was meant to be the release date for my new web, film and literature review site, The Parrington Review. The process of getting that website up and running has been what’s kept this blog from being active for the past two weeks, and promises to continue to slow things down for almost another week yet.

My new projected release date is Tuesday, October 2nd. I was offered a major technical upgrade free of charge by my ever big-hearted uncle Doug Bowker, so of course I took him up on it; unfortunately, getting my hands on the new stuff and implementing it has created a bit of a delay. My apologies!


I won’t say too much about it here, but when things do get underway, I’ll be very excited to share the work of several talented and innovative web writers and developers with you. Over on LinkedIn, I’ve developed something I call the Featured Five – from the many free web reviews I perform there, every so often I select five to be spotlighted on The Parrington Review.

Those five will be featured on a regular basis when the new site comes out. The best of the independent web awaits!


We’re also going to be having a look at a handful of films from the past few years, and a number of older gems as well. This is all stuff I loved. Here are just a few:

Blue Valentine – Inception – Avatar – District 9 – Sherlock Holmes

No Country for Old Men  Aliens  Taxi Driver – Lost Highway

Dr. Strangelove – Blade Runner (of course!) – Natural Born Killers

Unforgiven – Jacob’s Ladder – The Princess Bride – The Godfather


There is the odd film I despise enough to write about, as well. Sorry to those devotees who find the following offensive:

The Expendables – Watchmen – Gran Torino – Synechdoche, New York

Aliens vs Predator: Requiem Timecop – Highlander – Poison Ivy

Pet Sematary – Close Encounters of the Third Kind


Many films fall somewhere in between, naturally enough – and many such will be given their due! See if you can find your own favorite among these:

Limitless – The Hangover – 127 Hours – Machete – True Grit – 9

Inglourious Basterds – WALL-E Naked Lunch – Jurassic Park

Boys Don’t Cry – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Trainspotting

Escape from New York 12 Monkeys – Wild At Heart – Rush


We’re literate, too, over on The Parrington Review. I’ll be covering a number of my own favorite reads:

The Waste Land and Other Poems – The Doors of Perception

One Hundred Years of Solitude – A Fan’s Notes Watership Down

The Beautiful and Damned – The Once and Future King

The Writings of St. Paul The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer Crash


I hope you’ve found something on the list that appeals – there’s a lot more than this, too. As always, I’m open to hearing any sort of suggestion you want to throw at me. The Parrington Review is for you, after all, as much as I’m going to be having a blast producing it.

Cross your fingers for me as I continue to dabble in the dark arts of web development! I’ll try faithfully to keep you posted.

A Moment’s Pause

Stack of papers banner

Hey there, faithful readers!

Just a word of warning from yours truly: as I gear up for September 25th’s release of The Parrington Review, things are going to be slower here at The New Dialogue. Just one of the little inconveniences of life.

A few things to look forward to, even if their arrival is delayed:

(1) Between Dreams, Pt. 2. This is the final installment to my hitchhiking saga. We’ll have a look at a few of the strange and wonderful rides I took South of the border, and the various helpful or terrifying strangers I met while on the lam. Catch up, in the meantime, by reading Going West and Between Dreams [Pt. 1].

(2) Aura’s guest post. She’s a busy girl with school these days – way to go, honey! – but I’m going to try to coerce her into sharing her side of the story. She’s always got a lot to say, but doesn’t necessarily slow down long enough to say it. I’m pretty excited about this one.

(3) More fiction! As per Tom’s request, I’m going to post at least one work of my own fiction at some point over the next while. It’s all on paper – now to edit it so that it’s actually worth reading.

(4) University of Toronto: Revelations. This one is Aaron’s request, and it’s high time I bit the bullet and let you know what REALLY happened with all my dad’s hard earned tuition money. Eek.

So don’t go too far, folks. There’s a lot more coming. My priority is to make sure that the new site gets an awesome grand opening – then we’ll see things normalise again around here, even if at a more sedate pace.

In other news, check out AtContent, who have me in their employ as of this month. See if you can find my smiling Canadian face amidst my many Russian peers there. I’m writing their website content, bit by bit, and enjoying every minute of it. This is the first time I truly feel as though my job is aligned with my passion for words.

TIme for me to get moving. Lots to do today. Third week of classes for Aura and Kieran, second for Emery. And I have a lot of work ahead of me!

See you in a few days.

Cheers, Dan

Growing Up, Pt. 2

[Part one is here.]

I may have started out as a wee fellow, but as the years went by, I moved on up the food chain. I became a pre-teen, then a teen. I got things like insecurity, hormones and a driver’s license. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though.

I had a paper route that defined much of my after-school experience for a couple years. Those were the years when my dad sat at home every day with a few beers, waiting for me to return with the collection money. Wait- sorry, that’s the plan I have for my boys. Only with them I think I’m going to go for modelling. They’re really quite striking lads.

The whole thing could take me up to a couple of hours. I got to know a lot of my neighbors this way, and really enjoyed doing so. People seem to like their newspaper carrier- or at least, they seemed to like me. I think one of the reasons for that was my passivity when it came to collections. Every week, on Friday, I collected mandatory delivery fees. Only with me, they were more like subjective delivery fees: subjective as to how much I was actually paid, and subjective as to whether they ever got paid at all.

Let me just add one more thing: my daily round was extra special because I had a big old crush on one of my customers. Well, I guess it’d be more accurate to call her the daughter of one of my customers- the real customer, her dad, I was vaguely terrified of. These things go hand in hand.

Whenever I came by her house, I would look up to see if she was in her window. Sometimes she was, and she would wave at me. That turned me into a little puddle of Dan every time. I felt as though all the inky fingers and unpaid fees in the world were worth it for that wave. Occasionally she even talked to me. To what extent I sounded like a bumbling idiot in my responses, we will not go into detail. One February I even snuck a valentine into her paper, hoping she would find it. I expect she did. In any case, a friend of hers emailed me soon afterwards and I denied everything.

In that line of thought, I once got a call from a girl who I went to class with in grade five or six. As I recall, she had with her another girl from my class- and naturally, this other girl was the one who I had a crush on. Girls know these things, I don’t know how. I guess it may have been the way I blushed like crazy every time she looked in my direction.

The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, Daniel, It’s Sam!”

“Hi, Sam.”


“So, Jenny’s here with me…”

“Oh! That’s neat.” Dan’s mind becomes more frozen than ever as he contemplates the reality of being one person and a telephone away from Jenny.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m just… watching Alice in Wonderland. It’s on TV.” A this point the conversation becomes a little strained.

“Cool… are you watching it with anybody?” Because that’s what girls like to know. Naturally.

“Yeah, my… mom.” There sure are a lot of ellipses in this conversation, aren’t there?

“Uh, cool. Well, did you want to talk to Jenny?”

“Looks like the commercials are almost over. I’d better get back to the movie.”

“Oh… alright. Well, have fun watching the movie!”

“Thanks! Bye!” And in desperation, I hang up the phone.

Boy, were those some stellar years for dealing with the fairer sex. I would say that they were, in fact, more than fair with me, considering the way I dealt with them. Which is to say, not at all well.

I was a big league babysitter not too long after the paper route days, too. All around the neighborhood, I was the go-to guy for childcare, at least until my sister came onto the scene. The bitterness I held in my heart over her usurpation lasted for years. Maybe I exaggerate. In any case, these were golden days for me. I’ve always loved being with kids. It probably says something or other about my undeveloped personality, but it does remain true. It’s stood me in good stead in recent years.

I babysat, more than anyone, the two little gals who lived in the same house as Rupert. For several years they were the darlings of my heart, although I certainly didn’t have the words to say so. We horsed around playing Pokemon, or watched movies, or went to the park. I believe I had as good a time as they did. And there were several other families who meant a lot to me as well, as well as a few who terrified me.

Through all this babysitting stuff I feel as though I was able to share the sweetness of childhood that much longer. My peers were one thing, and I had my share of older folks at church, but my affection always lay most strongly with the small ones in my life.

I guess it all makes sense. Through many of my years as a young adult, I struggled to part ways from my inner child. I felt, in some respects, as though I were doing a rotten job of growing up. I looked at my friends and I thought, “Man, they’re so much more mature than me.” Maybe they were. But it was in finally embracing that child within that I found my feet- both in the ability to decide what I wanted, and in acting upon it. Instead of languishing in self-consciousness and indecisive thought, I learned to disconnect from my over-analytical mind when it came time to act and interact. Not that we- my child and I- don’t still get separated sometimes.

You know, I’m still growing up- but it’s a lot easier to chuckle about old foolishness than to look in the mirror and let out a belly laugh. So wait a few years, and I’ll tell you about all the ridiculous things I’ve done lately. Until then, do continue to take me seriously.

A Library of Babel

I’m going to make an educated guess.

What education qualifies you to make this guess, you ask? Well, I don’t really know, but let me have my fun.

I sure don’t want to presume anything about you, but I’d guess that you – like me – have sometimes wondered, “What’s the point? Why am I here? And what am I supposed to do about it?”

Not a bad guess, right?

We’re not going to crack that case today. It’s my personal conviction that those most certain that they’ve solved the riddle of existence are those farthest from the truth – if there is one. I’m what is usually called an agnostic. I’m also very much a skeptic – in Christian tradition, I relate most closely with Thomas. Show me the holes in your hands and I’ll hear you out.

My specific strain of agnosticism, by the way, is labelled agnostic theism: I live in the presence of a God I believe in, but consider my belief essentially impossible to prove. I’m a Thomas who loves his God, but doesn’t expect to meet his Savior. Instead, I seek to know God in the details of experience on a daily basis, and also through exposing myself to a wide variety of stimuli. Over the years, I’ve taken a share of both pleasure and pain; I have found knowledge and comfort in the concrete world around me.

There was a time when I sought God in the Christian faith. It was the faith I was raised in, and came naturally. I hold no grudge, today – but neither do I trust the answers I found there. In my mind, every human system is fallible. I don’t hold any of them in contempt for being so. I simply can’t walk that way, myself.

I know, I know – it’s not a human system, say the Christian, the Muslim, the Hindu; the fundamental truth lies in the conveyed word of God, or gods. I say: every written tradition, or story passed on through generations, is the work of man. The only God I know is written in the wind, the earth, and the hearts of the people I love. This God may even have something to tell me through the good and evil that man does – but God is not written on a page, nor defined by the wagging of a tongue.


Imagine with me, for a moment, what our world would be like if it were one vast library. And not just our planet, but the entire universe. Imagine a library larger than our universe.

It would take all the space we know to exist – and more – to contain the library described by Jorge Luis Borges in his 1941 short story The Library of Babel. He writes about a library where people are born and live out their days – a library filled with 410-page books. The books contain every possible variation of 25 characters that could take place in their pages, and no two books are the same. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve been fascinated with the story since I first read it about five years ago. I’ve gathered a few things from it that are illustrative of the search for meaning in life.

(1) Much of what we experience in life is without greater meaning. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, or that my actions will resound down the corridors of time. I believe that life is meant to be lived for the time it lasts, and that I ought to be pursuing the fullest experience possible. When I die, do I transcend? Will we find one another in the afterlife? Do I become spirit, or am I given a new body and a fresh go of it here on Earth? I don’t know and, frankly, I don’t intend to find out for a while yet. In the meantime, I only want to seek happiness for myself and my loved ones.

(2) There is meaning in the details. Sometimes, I encounter something or someone that becomes very special to me. It’s not every day, but once in a while I find something that I want to hold on to. It’s my conviction that these special moments, places, things and people are worth nurturing – they have meaning and value in and of themselves. My idea of a life full of meaning and purpose is in the pursuit of my innermost goals, and in the promotion of life and love and wellbeing. I don’t need to look for a greater significance when I can find glory in the smile of a child.

(3) I construct my own destiny. All of us must pass on from this life eventually. Because I don’t know what lies on the other side of death, my destiny is all in the present. My fate engulfs me from moment to moment. I choose to build a path of meaning and significance within my own framework every day, and look for opportunities to enrich my experience with family, friends, work, and recreation. I try to honor the Golden Rule in any way I can: to do for those around me what I would have them do for me. I’m far from being a flawless example of the idea, but I know what I’m aiming for.


With Kierkegaard, I feel that to embrace without doubt is credulity, not faith. Faith is the belief in something that I know cannot be seen, touched, or proven – it is a deliberate choice to trust in the power of forces beyond my comprehension.

Do I believe myself king of my world? Certainly not. So who’s in charge? I don’t know – but I seek God’s hand in my life from day to day. And while I do that, I never forget that I’ve got two hands of my own.

September, 2011

One year ago today, I was an unmarried man. I was twenty-two, unofficial stepdad to two, and in the midst of James Clavell’s Shogun. We had lost Carol only two months earlier, and Aura was still recovering from surgery. Kieran was starting grade two.

I was still in a daze, that September. Winters had always been difficult for me, but that summer put all winters to shame. It was almost as though the universe was shouting at me: You may be getting better, but boy, do I have a lot to throw at you yet!

And yet, what I went through that summer was nothing next to what my sweet girl had to endure.

All was not so hard, though. One thing you learn with kids is that no matter how wild the sea of life becomes, they’ll keep on playing in the bilge water. No storm is bad enough to stir their confidence in Mommy and Daddy, although they may worry about those silly old fools in their own way.

In early June of 2011, Carol – Aura’s mother – had still been faring reasonably well. We had been warned that her time with us was nearing it’s end, but we’d been told that for two and a half years. Carol never lost hope, and continued to live upstairs in her own apartment. By mid June, she had taken a couple of nasty falls, and been checked in to the palliative care unit for around the clock assistance. It was a difficult decision, and we didn’t want it to be permanent – but we just couldn’t see a way for us to provide the care she needed at home. We will never forget the kindness and compassion shown us by the medical staff there.

On July 9, 2011, Carol left this world forever. Aura and I were there sleeping in her room that night; in the morning, she passed away. We held her hands and looked on, helpless to prevent the single greatest loss a child can face: the death of a parent.

Aura had had her hysterectomy only two weeks previously. At the time, we still thought all was going to be well, for the time being. Carol had arranged to stay with my mom for the summer, and they were both looking forward to it. I had encouraged Aura to go through with her much-needed surgery, pinting out that if not now, then when? A busy year was ahead of us. I would have eaten my words, later, if I could have.

In August, we went to my grandparents’ place in Quebec, seeking refuge from swollen emotion. Aura was in a state of ongoing shock. She slept and cried. I did what I could to be there for her, but what could I possibly do?

The boys had a wonderful summer. We had Kieran in camp, and Emery in daycare – he called it “school-park“, a conjunction of two things he understood better. Quebec was then, as it was this summer, a perfect getaway for all of us; and it was the first time Aura and the boys had been there at all. We made sweet memories.

August ended, and September began. Kieran was struggling deeply over the loss of his grandma – they had been so close. I had introduced Kieran to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s more kidfriendly films by that time, and he had introduced them to Carol. They spent many hours wtth my hero, cuddled up on Grandma’s couch. His suffering was deep.

Emery wasn’t phased. Too young to feel the loss, but old enough to care that we were hurting, he tended assiduously to his mom and brother. As much as Aura tried to keep her tears away from her kids, Emery always knew when Mommy needed a bright smile and a silly game.

I always tried to be the strong guy; she wasn’t my mother, after all, I reasoned. I needed to be there for my wife and boys, all of whom had lost more than me. But it was hard for me, too – harder than I realised.

Cancer is a terrible curse. I don’t believe it was cast by anyone, and I don’t believe anyone deserves it; nevertheless, seeing my mother-in-law being consumed with it made me want to lash out. Those last few months were full of anger, for me. Old anger resurfaced at a Creator I did not understand; fresh anger at the loss of a kind and giving soul. She was supposed to have been mine, too – part of the package I signed up for when I committed myself to her daughter.

Cancer took her away, and no one could restore her. September was a month when the theft was still very fresh, and out hearts were in turmoil.

But September was also a month of hope, and gladness.

Kieran was starting grade two. He had made so much progress, socially, the year before; we looked forward to another year of small victories – and we were not disapointed. Kieran continued to grow and mature, as a student, as a brother, as a son. He made us very proud – we will always love him, of course, but it’s thrilling to see a child excel.

Emery went to school-park a while longer, and then the funds began to dry up. This was just before Christmas. But you know, Emery took the change in stride – and we ended up having a lot of quality time with him at home. He was Aura’s ray of light in a dark place.

Last, but certainly not least, Aura and I were talking about marriage. We had discussed it all with Carol, earlier on – she’d been overjoyed. Some of the ladies at her Hospice group asked if we would consider having an earlier wedding right in palliative care, when Carol moved in, but everything was just so hectic. We knew, and Carol knew, that the timing wasn’t right, and the place wasn’t right. She was just so happy to know about our plans.

We debated getting married in the tiny public library down in my mom and dad’s neighborhood, but our guest list quickly became too large. I hold Aura responsible for that.

We ended up settling on the Baker’s Hill Banquet Centre, an unspectacular sight at the corner of Parkhill and Television roads. On the inside, though, it was beautiful – fit for the day we were starting to plan.

The process of organising for this concentration of joy was vital to our sanity over the next two months. Without the knowledge that something wonderful was in the works, I don’t see how Aura and I could have coped. We kept very busy, and it kept our friends and family busy with us. We were not alone – we were surrounded by love and light. And it never left our minds that somehow, Carol was looking on with approval.

That September was a focal point for so many radically conflicting forces. It astonishes me to think that we had the energy to pull through. There are some times that just seem to be overshadowed by things larger than yourself – and you just go along with that, for better or for worse.

Where were you in September, 2011?

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