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New Diet for Missy Kat!

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

So I made the decision to start making Missy’s food myself. At first, I thought “Eh, no big deal, I’ll whip up some chicken and rice and that’ll do it!” Um. NO. Fortunately for Missy, I had sense enough to do some research and I found out that felines, being obligate carnivores, cannot live on chicken meat and rice. Like, at all. The rice especially is horrible for cats. Too bad other pet owners don’t do their homework and starve their cats with a diet like this. :( [I am looking at YOU cat hoarder JH who doesn’t get your cats fixed or vaccinated and feeds chicken breast and rice. You should be reported for animal abuse.]

Amongst other things, I learned that the feline diet should consist of 80% protein, 10% fat and 10% carbs (at most). Cats in the wild do not eat carbs at all. Cats are completely unlike dogs when it comes to diet. Despite what the pet food industry insists, cats should not eat kibble alone (which I’ve known for a long time), or really at all. Kibble has way too much filler in the form of carbs. And despite what the pet food industry pushes, cats do NOT eat sweet potatoes, peas, beans or any sort of grain. Just because it sounds tasty to us does not mean it’s appropriate for our cats. Dogs? Sure. Feed them whatever. They are omnivores and scavengers in the wild. Cats are not dogs.

As I started to read and learn about the feline diet, I started a cart at vitacost.com with the supplements I’d need to make Missy’s food. It was complicated to decipher the various recipes and I didn’t want to buy a grinder to grind the meat with bones to make the raw food. I’m not even sure Missy would eat a totally raw diet. So I kept reading and reading and I came upon TCFeline.com. This site is a treasure trove for understanding the feline diet and learning to make a homemade food that is balanced. They also link to sellers of the premix for plain ground meat (without bones). AND the mix was the same cost as all the supplements I had in my cart. The 17oz bag is $53 plus s/h and makes about 8-10 batches of 2#. That’s a lot of food! Plus I don’t have to worry about measuring calcium and getting the calcium/phosphorus ratio right or any of that. This mix mimics the nutrients found in rodents, which is the primary food source of a wild cat. ALSO, this premix can be used in a cooked diet as easily as a raw one. Which is what I’m doing. I get 2# of ground meat (I used chicken and turkey for this first batch, next will be chicken and lamb) and I cook it at low temp like this recipe suggests.

Missy’s kidney numbers have started to creep up, which is the reason I started looking into CKD dietary needs in the first place. I was surprised to find out that the standard low protein diet for cats with renal issues is actually NOT what you should do at all. There is a good study that was done to prove that low protein diets made no difference in cats with kidney disease. Knowing what I do about the feline diet, I am not surprised by this. While phosphorus is an issue, protein is not. More about chronic kidney disease in the older cat.

I also got an herbal supplement for Missy in addition to her new improved homemade food: Kidney Support Gold from PetWellbeing.com

Her new diet was started Sep 25 2015. Her Urea Nitrogen was 35 at this time. I’ll update this post with her new numbers in a few months. Hopefully, I’ll see improvement.


‘Tis the Season

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

…for Fear and Loathing™. It’s autumn and my BIG birthday looms. Meh. I usually get a little melancholy this time of year and this year is no different.

I don’t have any big complaints, really. My family – or lack thereof – has been bothering me. I’ve been completely disowned, apparently, and although I’m better off without those people, it still bugs me that somehow I’m always the bad guy. It’s not fair and not true. It’s true that I do think they are militantly ignorant and act like uneducated hillbillies. I’ve got tons of proof of that. That does not mean I feel that I am “better” than they are, it means that I choose to live my life differently and I will not stop living my life as an intelligent, in control, educated adult to appease them. I don’t want to be like them, that doesn’t mean I am a bad person.

They choose to believe that I’m just a bad person who hates them and that’s that. Well, ok, but that’s not the truth.

I cannot do anything for them. I can’t make them get better Drs. I can’t make them take better care of themselves. I can’t make them do what’s necessary to get the care they need. I can’t make my brother listen. I can’t make any of them listen. As I’ve said, my parents could be dead for all I know. Since the big fight with my brother months ago, I’ve not heard a peep.

I guess it’s the not knowing that sucks.

Whatever. I can’t change them and they don’t want my input. I guess they can just sit in that house until they die. ::shrug::

Nick has been feeling bad again, so that’s probably part of my melancholy, too. I’m worried about him. We are pretty sure he has Lyme Disease. I bought a kit from IGenEx to get his blood tested for Lyme with the Western Blot method (the only accurate one, $500) and we are hoping that crazy Dr Erramilli will be onboard for the test and for longterm treatment. There are few Lyme literate Drs in the US and pretty much NONE in the SE US. I hope Erramilli will be willing to go on this journey with us. ::fingers crossed::

I’m just trying to stay positive until my birthday passes. I’ve got Heather coming in town in a few weeks, so that will hopefully be a diversion. I do need to start looking around for a tattoo shop to do our tattoos. They are going to be great!

Well, that’s enough of my whingeing. I’ll post a separate post about Missy Kat’s new diet.

Smoky Pimento Mac & Cheese

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

I had this dish at a pricey restaurant downtown and decided I could replicate it at home, so I did. It’s just mac & cheese, but made with smoked gouda (I found some with BACON!!) and white cheddar. I used roasted red pepper from the jar rather than pimento.

Smoky Pimento Mac and Cheese

Smoky Pimento Mac and Cheese

Smoky Pimento Mac & Cheese
2 Tbl Butter
1 big Tbl flour
3 oz shredded white cheddar (about half a cup)
4 oz shredded smoked gouda, with bacon if you can find it (about 3/4 cup)
1 (1/2 pepper) roasted red pepper from a jar, diced
2/3 – 3/4 cup half n half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1.5 cup dry pasta, cooked al dente in salty water. Hold pasta in the water. I used Kroger brand cavatappi rigate pasta, which is a large corkscrew style that is ribbed for your pleasure. You could use elbows or penne if you like.

Melt butter over med heat then add flour and stir for a couple minutes. Add the cheeses, pepper and paprika and stir until it gets all melty. Add in 2/3 cup half n half, stirring. You’ll probably need more, I did. You want this sauce thick, but loose enough to coat the pasta but not be sticky. When you get the consistency right, check salt and pepper. It should be a little saltier than you think it should be because the pasta will soak up the salt. Scoop out the pasta with a slotted spoon or spider and allow a bit of water to stay on it – this will make your sauce perfect. Check seasoning after you stir in pasta. Serve while warm.

Dinner on the Grill!

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

We were sitting on the deck last night and heard a transformer blow, then another. No power! I live in a 60s era house with an all electric kitchen (that I DESPISE), so this meant: no dinner. I had already done all the mise en place, so all I needed was heat to assemble the dish… To the gas grill! The dish turned out perfectly, I’m happy to say and the recipe is pretty awesome, so I’ll share it with you! No grill required, but it is pretty fun. Apologies for the quickie phone pix!

Carne Picada with rice and beans!

Carne Picada with rice and beans!

Spicy Carne Picada

1 pack (about 1#) of carne picada, which is beef that is barely ground and chunky. Kroger has it occasionally. Or you can use large grind beef – usually labeled chili beef.
1 Tbl cumin
1 Tbl ancho chile powder
1 Tbl chipotle powder (less if you don’t like spicy)
1 tsp dry mustard powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbl garlic paste (find at Indian store)
2 Tbl olive oil
half a small can of tomato sauce
1 bell pepper, large dice
1 onion, large dice
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Tomato Rice
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup chicken stock
.5 cup water
1 tsp salt
half a small can of tomato sauce

Black Beans
2 cans seasoned black beans, drained
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbl minced onion
1 clove minced garlic (or use 1 Tbl garlic paste)
Slice one green onion for garnish.

Break up the carne in a large bowl and add in all the spices and oil. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Prep the veg.

Rinse the basmati rice three times to remove the excess starch. You can skip this, but you’ll have fairly sticky rice if you do. Put rice, stock, water and seasonings into a 2 qt pan then bring to boil, reduce to simmer. It takes about 15 mins for basmati rice to cook. Follow package instructions. Spicy yellow rice is awesome with this, too.

Put the drained black beans in a pan and add seasonings. Heat up over medium heat and simmer until onions and garlic are cooked. About 10 mins.

Heat a large skillet over med hi heat and saute the onions, peppers and garlic for about 5-7 mins in olive oil. When they soften, push to the sides and add beef. Saute beef and veg until beef is cooked, about 10 mins. You can drain this if there is a lot of fat.

To serve:
In a large bowl, put rice and beans side by side and add beef on top. Garnish with green onion and enjoy!

Cooking on the grill!

Cooking on the grill!

Veg and meat!

Veg and meat!

Spicy Figgy Jam

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

It’s fig season! I love this recipe! I’ve made it a couple of times with great success. Enjoy!

Spicy Figgy Jam

Spicy Figgy Jam

Spicy Figgy Jam

2 pt figs, chopped (yield about 6 cups) I cut into quarters because I like big chunks. You can go smaller if you like.
4 cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper (another 1/4 tsp if you really want to taste it!)
1 Tbl pectin

Put everything but pectin in a large dutch oven and bring to boil for about 15 minutes stirring every few minutes. Mixture should be thick. Pull off heat and add pectin (just some extra insurance that it sets properly). Prepare pint jars, lids and rings. Fill jars with about 1/2″ head room. Process in boiling bath for 10 minutes. Yield: about 3 pints **You can make this and keep it in the fridge if you don’t want to do the full canning process.**

Angela’s Biscuits and Gravy

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

I use the standard biscuit recipe on the White Lily bag, slightly modified, but my gravy recipe is unusual so I figured I’d post it for y’all.

White Lily Recipe
My version, due to my never having Crisco or buttermilk on hand:

Angela’s Southern Biscuits
2 cups White Lily SR flour (The BRAND is important here, for those living outside of the South. FIND White Lily. Trust me.)
1/4 cup butter [half a stick], cold, cut into cubes (I never keep shortening.)
about 2/3 cup half n half w/ 1 Tbl white vinegar in it as a homemade buttermilk substitute (I never keep buttermilk on hand.)

Preheat oven to 450F (I have never cooked them at 500F!) Cut in the fat with a dough cutter until flour and fat are about pea sized. Add in the milk in thirds – you may or may not use all of it, it depends on the weather. [I used about a half cup today since the humidity is 100%.] Stir dough together with a spatula just until it’s combined. You want it pretty wet and sticky. Don’t overmix. Plop on a well floured surface then generously flour the top of the dough. Turn dough over to make sure it’s not sticking (use more flour if you need to) then pat into a disk at least 1″ thick. Use a cutter or a glass and cut out biscuits. Place biscuits on an ungreased sheet pan – I do not like mine to touch, but if you do, fine. I’m not the boss of you. Bake on middle rack for about 12-15 mins depending on your thickness. They should be golden on top.
This recipe makes about 8 – 10 biscuits.

Southern Gravy for Biscuits
This recipe has evolved due to my never having milk on hand, only half n half, which makes gravy THICK. I also sometimes run out of bacon fat, so I use schmaltz (chicken fat) or both, which is fantastic. Duck fat would be awesome as well. The choice of fat is pretty flexible, actually, as long as you use the right amount. You can do this with pancetta, bacon, sausage or no meat at all.

Angela’s Southern Gravy
1 Tbl bacon fat
1 Tbl schmaltz
1-2 Tbl cubed pancetta
2 Tbl flour (AP or SR, doesn’t matter)
3/4 cup half n half
1/2-2/3 cup chicken stock

Put the fats and pancetta in a nonstick skillet on med heat. When the pancetta has rendered (about 5 mins), turn up the heat to med hi and add flour. Stir flour into fat until smooth and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in half n half and stir until smooth. This will be thick! Add in about 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp black pepper. Start adding chicken stock until the gravy is the consistency you want. I like mine thick for biscuits! When you get the consistency you want, kill the heat and check your seasoning – it should be a little salty if you’re using it on biscuits. Use immediately, gravy does not hold well.

Add in some homemade figgy jam and you’ve got Sunday breakfast! Bon Appétit!

Musings on Pets

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

I think pets are on my mind because I had dead pet dreams last night (horrible ones about Missy) and I worked on the Friends of Dekalb Animals website this morning. I’ve bitched about this issue before, but it bears repeating. And this is about NO ONE in particular. I’ve had this exact convo with MANY crazy cat ladies and/or pet hoarders. True facts.

It disturbs me when people who can’t take care of themselves have pets. Typically, not one or two, but a HERD of pets. They take in every stray. They foster. They have so many pets that it’s borderline hoarding. I assume they do this because they have a shitty life and pets make them feel better or something. I don’t know. All I know is: if you can’t take care of yourself, then why would you even entertain the notion of taking care of pets? Pets are expensive! It’s also relevant to note that people who do this type of thing typically do NOT take care of the pets in even the most basic ways (spay/neuter for instance) and the problem becomes exponential.

A conversation with one of these people (it’s women, always women) usually goes like this:

Me: How many pets do you have?
Hoarder: Well, I only have 3 cats and a dog, but I foster 25 cats and 10 dogs. ::happily::
Me: How do you afford to take care of all those pets? (Knowing that this person is broke as shit.)
Hoarder: It’s hard! I barely have money to feed myself, but I manage. A few of the cats are pregnant and several dogs need heartworm meds, but they are all doing OK, well, except for Fred, who really needs to see the vet. And Olly, who stopped eating a week ago. Oh and I think Shadrick has worms again…
Me: Really? Aren’t your pets fixed? Don’t you get them vaccinated?
Hoarder: Uh, no, I can’t afford to get them fixed or go to the vet. If I only had the money to… ::drifts off into a wistful haze of IF ONLY::
Me: Well, don’t you see that having unfixed pets will just make this issue worse? And don’t you think you should help the sick ones?
Hoarder: Ummm, well, yeah, I guess so… ::now looking uncomfortable:: But I have to HELP ALL OF THE POOR HOMELESS PETS! ::getting indignant::
Me: Hmm. Well, I appreciate your generous heart, but you really need to get these animals fixed, medicated and adopted out.
Hoarder: ::goes into a long explanation of why that can’t happen:: Blah, blah, animal control is evil, blah, it’s better than the shelter, blah, blah, blah.
Me: Oh! Look at the time! I really need to get going! Nice talking to you! ::runs away before I start expressing my real opinion and/or punch the crazy person in the face::

This has happened to me SO MANY times!! And every single time I’ve met someone like this, they also admit to dumping pets at shelters when their roommates/parents/big foot tells them that they can’t have pets. Probably because people who can’t afford to take care of themselves are also moving a lot and having to depend on others for shelter since they are broke motherfuckers.

Look, it’s simple. If you can’t feed/clothe/shelter YOURSELF, then it’s a pretty good bet that you can’t take care of a pet. ANY pet. Well, maybe a betta fish. And it’s also a pretty good bet that you will do more harm than good by taking on tons of pets and then not caring for them properly and dumping them when you can’t take them to your next couch surf location.

A simple guide to deciding whether you should have a dog or cat:
– Are you so broke you can’t buy food at times?
– Are you dependent on other people for shelter? (ie: Are you NOT on the lease? Are you living with your parents? Can someone tell you to dump your pets and you must comply?)
If you answered YES to either or both of these, then NO YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE A PET! AT ALL. NOT ONE.

It’s that simple. Having a herd of unfixed cats and dogs that you “rescued” from the street is no better than leaving them on the street. That is a fact. It is also a fact that you can’t save them all. Another fact is that by “fostering” a herd of unfixed, unvaccinated, neglected animals is actually making a bad situation worse. For every unwanted kitten YOU allow to be born, there are 100 being euthanised.

If these people (women, let’s just say women) really loved animals as much as they claim to, then they’d stop compounding the problem of unfixed pets breeding continuously, which is the DIRECT CAUSE of millions of pets being destroyed in this country every year. They’d FIND a no kill shelter to come get the animals. They’d FIND a way to actually help the animals rather than perpetuate the problem.

And it goes without saying that homeless people with pets make me apoplectic with rage. You’re HOMELESS? Why, YES, by all means drag a dog or cat around with you. Seems legit.

Really, this is just another BE RESPONSIBLE post. I have lots of them. It’s a shame that this theme keeps coming up so often, isn’t it?

Mixed Fruit Galette

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve been slowly bringing more baked goods into my repertoire. I can make a good madeleine and now I can make a pretty good galette! I use a mix of blueberries and peaches and/or nectarines. The best part is the short dough crust! You’ll need parchment paper for this recipe. It will stick like crazy if you don’t use parchment. Trust me.

Blueberry Peach Galette

Blueberry Peach Galette

1/3 cup almond flour (or grind up some blanched almonds)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl A/P flour
1/2 cup S/R flour (you can use all A/P flour, I just like the crispness I get with a mix)
1.5 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick butter, cold, cut in pieces
1/4 – 1/2 cup ice water (depends on the weather!)

half a pint of blueberries (check for stems!)
2 peaches or nectarines (or one of each), peeled, pitted, halved and sliced 1/4 inch
juice of half a lemon
1 Tbl cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar

Dough Filler
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbl almond flour
2 Tbl A/P flour

Glaze: Apricot preserves (or plum)

Method for dough:
Put first 5 ingredients into a large bowl and mix. Cut in butter with a dough cutter. (OR put into food processor and process for 5-10 seconds just until it comes together.) Butter should be pea sized. Pour in half the water and work in with a spatula. (OR process for a few seconds.) Keep adding water until the dough just barely holds together and you still see the butter chunks. Some days it will be 1/4 cup, some days it will be 1/2 cup. It depends on how humid it is.
Turn out on a floured surface and pat into a 6″ flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 mins – or you can do this a day ahead.
While the dough is chilling, put fruit, lemon juice, cornstarch and sugar into a bowl and stir. Let it sit until the dough is ready.

Mix together the dough filler ingredients. Put 3 Tbl preserves in a small bowl and add just a splash of water to loosen it up enough to spoon on.
When the dough is ready, unwrap and place on a floured surface. Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out dough to about 12″ diameter, 1/4 inch thick – don’t make it too thin or it’ll leak even worse. Also, this is a rustic type pie, so the dough shouldn’t be perfect. Move the dough to a sheet pan wrapped in foil and topped with parchment paper. This galette will leak and you don’t want it to stick. USE PARCHMENT PAPER!! Put the dough filler on the crust stopping about 2″ from the edge.
Pour the fruit filling into the center of the crust. Fold up the edges of the dough to create a rustic pie. Spoon half the apricot preserves glaze along the edges of the crust and over the filling. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 40-45 minutes at 375F or until crust is nicely browned. There will be leakage, it’s ok.

While galette is hot, spoon the rest of the preserves on the crust and fruit, then sprinkle with sugar again. Use a spatula to loosen the pie and remove any burnt leakage. Move carefully to a plate for serving.

Serve at room temperature.

Old Lady Supplements

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve suffered insomnia for over a decade and now I get to add hot flashes to it. Yay. I’ve tried many supplements without success (SEE note at the end!!), but I have finally dialed in a good combo of supplements to beat back the evil hot flashes. What I take specific to hot flashes have an * next to them:

1 multi vitamin (just a cheap one like Centrum or the Kroger one)
1 B complex (you need LOTS of B as you age!)
*1 Selenium 200mcg (hot flash relief)
2 Turmeric 450mg (for inflammation of joints and carpal tunnel, I’ve had very good results!)
*1 E 100mg – 400mg (finishing the 100 then going to 400; works with selenium)

*Plus these tinctures for old lady crap:
1 dropper 2x/day chasteberry (aka vitex)
.5 dropper 2x/day black cohosh (full dropper if you’re not on hormones)
.5 dropper 2-4x/day motherwort (also helps with insomnia)
Yes they taste like ASS, just get a gulp of water, tilt your head back and put in a dropper then gulp. You won’t taste it too much.

Every other day:
1 D 1000iu
1 cal/mag 500mg/250mg
1 L lysine 500mg (immune system and calcium absorption)
1 evening primrose oil cap ~500mg (for inflammation and arthritis)

Yes, I take about 8-10 pills a day plus the tinctures. Yes, it is a PITA. But it is working! Get a big ass 2wk pill thingie and put all the various things in it for 2 wks then you just grab and go in the morning!

My insomnia solution that mostly works is the following: one naproxen, one OTC sleep aid (doxylamine succinate, NOT diphenhydramine, which revs me up) and one valerian cap. I’ve also used Sleep Assure (Nature’s Plus) but the melatonin can often backfire and I’ve used Deep Sleep (Herbs Etc., I’d rec the liquid over the caplets.). Here is a Slate article about various sleep aids. Speaking of melatonin, I’ve preached about this, but no one listens: DO NOT USE LARGE DOSES OF MELATONIN FOR INSOMNIA. Anything more than 3mg is a HIGH dose and will likely backfire on you. Melatonin is a sleep regulator, NOT a sleep aid. Read this article and stop using melatonin the wrong way!

Warning about Dong Quai for Old Lady issues: I got a supplement that had dong quai in it and it turned ON the hot flashes, like ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT hot flashes. After doing some research, I found out that in some women, dong quai is very bad for hot flashes. YUP, I can confirm this. Not everyone, mind you, just some. So be careful about taking that if you’re old.

Welcome to Zweeko!

Originally published at Misangela.com. Please leave any comments there.

We are done with WiredTree. You are reading this from our new server at zweeko.com in the UK!

I’m really shocked at the behaviour of WiredTree, our host for about four years. When our sites (this one in particular) started getting hammered by ddos and wp attacks, they did LITERALLY NOTHING about it. They blamed us for the constant outages and basically had the attitude of “it sucks to be you”.

All they could recommend was that we buy more RAM or upgrade our plan: WHICH WE DID. We moved to a more robust SSD plan that cost $15 more than the other plan we were on ($40 -> $55). Today I wake up to a notice about the sites being down (third time THIS WEEK) and they jacked the billing up to $59 without notice.

Really, WiredTree? REALLY? Wow. It’s become a clear pattern that hosting companies are great for about four years, then they get too big to care. I’ve consistently had to find a new host every 4-5 years for this exact reason: support goes to shit. I expect the same from Zweeko and that is OK. I just have to deal with moving every 4-5 years. Whatever.

So a coupla weeks ago I was kvetching on Twitter about the shitty service we were getting from WiredTree, when I got a message from Sal at Zweeko.com. He enquired about what was going on and offered to bail us out of WiredTree. After much discussion, we decided that we’d give them a go. Sal even called me from London to chat about what they could offer us and that they’d do all the grunt work of moving the sites. As we were chatting, he told me that he and his staff were “having a laugh” about how shitty WiredTree is being to us and that sealed the deal for me. You know what? WiredTree IS being shitty to us. They offer no protection from ddos or wp attacks. There are plenty of server side firewalls available, but they can’t be bothered. Sal uses CloudFlare to protect the servers from attacks and doesn’t even charge extra for it – it’s included in the $70/mo hosting package. WiredTree did suggest that maybe WE should look into CloudFlare for our server, but they can’t be bothered. Assholes.

So the upshot is that we are in the process of moving to Zweeko and WiredTree can suck it. I doubt they’ll even refund the jacked up fee they just charged me and I don’t really give a shit. KEEP IT. Clearly you need it worse than I do (maybe use it for some better support people?). Assholes.

I’m raising the hosting rate for Rob and he’s cool with the more robust protection we’re getting from Zweeko. We’ll have plenty of protection from various attacks and we’re adding SSL for $18/yr for further protection. WiredTree wanted $60 for an SSL certificate. Assholes.

This site will be having outages starting today and over the weekend. See ya on the flip side! I’m HERE! Yay!


Blinky doll

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