Halfmoon's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:16 am

@RealPerson, this kind of comment makes me want to run off and write the next installment. :D I really have no desire to publish a book, though. This forum feels like such a perfect little world in which to tell my story without making it into a job requiring marketing, editing and dealing with the likes of Amazon. Also, it's really about the feedback and hearing bits of other people's experiences or thoughts that keeps me motivated. A book wouldn't be interactive enough for me.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:26 am

@Alexa, thank you! I certainly intend to keep it coming, because I'm approaching my favorite part of our life story. Speaking of life stories: DH and I are celebrating today the 37th anniversary of our first and only date (also known as the day before we moved in together). 8-)

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Eureka
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Eureka » Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:25 am

Happy anniversary, well done!

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:37 pm

Thanks, Eureka! We celebrated by going for a long walk, taking our dog to the off-leash park (so much fun to watch him play with other dogs), then having a great dinner at home with a glass of wine. This is what old ERE people do for fun. :roll:

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:45 pm

THE RETIREMENT YEARS

FREEDOM!!

Our last day of employment (not to be confused with work, which was perpetually self-imposed hard time ;)) was July 4, 1992. This seemed fitting, and it also allowed us to watch spectacular fireworks from the restaurant’s roof in between waiting on customers. It was one of the better evenings we spent in that place. The restaurant management wanted to have some sort of token celebration, which we vetoed. Fellow employees urged us to come back and visit. DH said, “You will never see us again.” He spoke the truth.

We drove to our new home the following week, old Chevy truck loaded down with yet more stuff. I remember thinking that we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies. *

*Millenials: Google this. It’s an important cultural relic. :)

The rest of the summer/fall was a race to insulate the house and complete the inside sheathing so we weren’t freezing or breathing evil chemicals all winter; meanwhile, we lived in our small travel trailer. Every exterior wall and roof rafter was lined with Fiberglas. We also insulated the upstairs floor joists and all interior walls to reduce noise transmission and isolate heating zones. The insulation was covered on the interior side with plastic Visqueen and OSB, which we painted to reduce emissions (except those from the paint, of course). Same for the floor and ceiling, which brings up a memorable moment:

The hardest interior sheathing tasks were the ceilings, for obvious reasons. Holding a 4’x8’ sheet of OSB overhead while DH screwed each corner to the ceiling joists wasn’t my idea of a good time, and the results prompted more than one Marital Discussion.

One of those discussions escalated when we were installing ceiling sheets in the living room. The long-term plan was to cover them with pine boards (the wall sheathing would be covered with cedar), but I knew from experience that the painted OSB might be our ceiling surface for many years while we focused on new projects. After we screwed on one of the 4’x8’ ceiling sheets and stood back to assess, I saw that it was installed off square by about ¼”. For me, a ¼” gap was as bad as a foot. I voiced my concerns.

DH thought I was being ridiculous, I thought he was being inflexible, and words ensued. DH stomped out of the house into the woods in one direction; I went the other. Sometimes it’s good to have 40 acres of separation.

When I cooled down, I went back to the house and found that DH had unscrewed the OSB sheet and screwed it back square (not an easy task working alone overhead). I thanked him effusively, and he said: “I just don’t want you sitting here when I’m dead, looking up at the ceiling and thinking: ‘That son of a bitch.’:lol:

When the first snowfall hit in October, we moved into the house. We finally had to surrender and cut a hole in the roof for our chimney, which is traumatic when you’ve lived in a (different) house with a leaky roof. We installed both stoves, but we hadn’t had any spare time that summer and fall to stockpile firewood. We ended up hauling wood in with a sled all winter. Hey; as they say, heating with wood warms you twice.

Thus began the next stage of our life.

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bryan
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by bryan » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:05 am

Exciting! Such a funny relationship you two have. At least from your perspective it is :D

> *Millenials: Google this. It’s an important cultural relic. :)

There was a 90s film adaptation that was on TV occasionally. Does that count? :)

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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:47 pm

Why sheath interior with OSB, rather than sheetrock? I mean, other than weight. I know you got a great deal on OSB, but wouldn't sheetrock still have been cheaper?

Ceiling work sucks. Kudos for getting in and getting it done.

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:38 pm

@bryan, we do laugh a lot together. Sometimes it takes a little time, but we eventually laugh. :D We spend pretty much all of our time together, and we both have strong opinions, so there's lots of opportunity for discussion. I'm a perfectionist leaning toward OCD, and DH likes to git 'er done. We usually meet in the middle.
bryan wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:05 am

There was a 90s film adaptation that was on TV occasionally. Does that count? :)
No, that does not count (she says sternly). You must expose yourself to the classics.
Riggerjack wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:47 pm
Why sheath interior with OSB, rather than sheetrock? I mean, other than weight. I know you got a great deal on OSB, but wouldn't sheetrock still have been cheaper?
I don't know if sheetrock would have been cheaper back then, but we detested the stuff. Anything you could punch a hole through with a random elbow didn't pass the fortress test. Also: we planned to put cedar boards on the walls, and sheetrock would require us to hit the studs every time. Granted that sheetrock provides some fire resistance, but that would be pretty irrelevant in the end. When a forest fire came very close to our property one year, a DNR crew came by to see what they could do to create a defensible space. The crew leader looked around at our full woodshed, propane and diesel tanks, building materials stacked under the house, trees right up to the windows..."You have a lot of combustibles" he said. "Oh, yes" I replied. "We're all about the combustibles."

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FBeyer
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by FBeyer » Sat Apr 08, 2017 2:20 am

halfmoon wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:37 pm
Thanks, Eureka! We celebrated by going for a long walk, taking our dog to the off-leash park (so much fun to watch him play with other dogs), then having a great dinner at home with a glass of wine. This is what old ERE people do for fun. :roll:
Fun is the mindset you bring, not the activities you do.

I have never read anything in my life that made me want to get on a plane and meet the author as much as this journal.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:42 am

What a wonderful compliment, FBeyer! :D

If I ever met anyone in this community, I would want to hear all of their stories. I'm hoping that people will be inspired by my experiences to relate some of their own right here. Since this is my journal, I get to make the rules. :mrgreen: I demand that you tell me about a time you and your SO disagreed about something and how it turned out. (*stomps foot impatiently*)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:46 pm

THE RETIREMENT YEARS

*Just hang in there; we're working our way up to better photos, but that would not be now. :roll:

CLEANING THE LAND:

As previously mentioned, our new property was logged a couple of years before we bought it. A local woman who was active in disputing poor logging practices took this photo of the place before we knew her, and it was pretty representative of what was left on most of the land. The former owners hadn’t wanted to pay for cleanup after the logging, which undoubtedly contributed to the low selling price.

Image

The happy exceptions were some large fir and larch that the former owners had planned to harvest for a future log home, a strip along the state-owned access road that had been left largely untouched, and the big old Ponderosa pine that were considered unmarketable at the time.
One of our self-appointed missions was to clean the land so native vegetation and young trees could flourish (and also to make it pretty, of course). This was something like buying a mansion that has been used as a crackhouse and trying to restore it to its former glory. :cry:

We started around the house and worked outward. Armed with chainsaw, combustibles, gloves and hay forks for the smaller stuff, we literally climbed into the worst part of each slash-covered plot and cut a hole big enough plant ourselves and our tools. We began there to cut and pile everything for burning, working outward until we’d established a safe zone around the burn pile. Then began the fun. We would light the fire, drag a couple of lawn chairs at a safe distance, and collapse in self-satisfied exhaustion by the flames.

After a long day of this, we’d get thirsty and go back to the house to fetch a little wine mixed with a lot of diet pop (Refined Palates-R-Us) and sit back down to congratulate ourselves on an epic achievement. That would last until the fire burned down a bit, at which point one of us would jump up and start throwing a “few” sticks on the pile. Pretty soon, we’d both be hauling logs and branches into the flames until we collapsed in exhaustion again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The rottweiler looks pretty satisfied with the day's efforts, but the weimaraner is thinking there's some slacking going on.

Image

We didn’t always burn the piles; some of them we saved for wildlife habitat. We had the utter joy one early spring of watching a family of baby weasels tearing around like...um...crazed weasels :) in a brush pile right outside our kitchen window.

An unanticipated benefit of being on the north slope of our mountainside was abundant groundwater that promoted regeneration. The areas we’d cleared became lush with pine grass, shrubs and seedlings. The gold-needled trees in the photo below are larch in the fall. The photo was taken in the mid-90’s; the land has regenerated incredibly since then and is quite beautiful.

Image

saving-10-years
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by saving-10-years » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:08 am

Ahhh. The space to do crazy things. I have been sorting through my mountain of fleeces* from past years and consigning the ones which are really not going to be good enough to the incinerator. DH has had a small fire going outside for 6 days so far - he sorting out some of the really waste stuff from the barns at last. But although we have huddled around and admired our little little bonfire we don't have that view of yours and the weather here currently discourages lying on the ground.

*The fleece in question was free - I am now more discerning about what I spin and so several past 'gifts' have gone up in smoke here - others being graded to gift or sell and many into veggie beds to provide compost and improve moisture retention.

More stories. Re, picture quality, that all makes this tale seem more of its time so I quite like your Instamatic moments.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:07 am

saving-10-years wrote:
Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:08 am
I have been sorting through my mountain of fleeces* from past years and consigning the ones which are really not going to be good enough to the incinerator.
Wow; I'll bet the lanolin helps them burn nicely. If I had a mountain of fleeces here in western WA, it would soon be a mountain of moths. We have to keep all of our wool clothing in a cedar chest, and I have two beautiful Pendleton blankets that never see the light of day because they'll attract moths.* I've bought a few cashmere sweaters at yard sales for $1, but I always hold them up to the light first and look for holes.

Using the fleece for compost/mulch is brilliant!

Thanks for the reassurance re old photos. :) I cringe every time I post them.

* Doesn't mean I'll ever get rid of the blankets. I'm like the women who keep their jewels in a safe and wear fakes.

saving-10-years
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by saving-10-years » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:37 pm

Keeping those beautiful blankets in store until you are safely within a moth free zone is a great idea. I marvel at how moths here (not many and taking measures) will ignore the grotty serviceable woolens and the washed fleece (only ever found them in one so far) and hone in on cashmere- my only two items of cashmere and not bought for $1 (although admittedly not full price either). I am helping a friend sort our her yarn and fibre stash). She has a forty years start on me in collecting this stuff and there is a lot of it. And a whole load of moths having the time of their lives. Its teaching me the wisdom of not hoarding good stuff to use later. Use it now or sell it on! (Or make sure its in VERY SAFE storage).

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bryan
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by bryan » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:20 pm

latest pics inspired me to have another look for crappy lots (urban or more forested) within biking distance to some social nexus.. cheapest in the Bay Area is $250k for a decent (dangerous and run-down but close to things) location. I found another that may be in the path of progress (but far from public transit) for $75k but it looks like you have to submit building plans else pay ever increasing fees. Did some searches for a few other cities and New Orleans still looks promising (watch out for flooding though..). My home town had one lot for $10k I forwarded to my Dad to convince him to buy it (seems like a steal to me, great school district and home prices bottom out at $200k) for either a small/tiny house or urban farm (he's already run out of sunny space at his own home.. a lot of his front yard is a food garden w/ bee hives and he's waiting for the dog to die to get chickens for the backyard) or something. The lot next to it is a garden, at least as of last google street view.

@halfmoon, did you already mention how much the land cost, or how much it is worth now? I've day-dreamed about doing stuff like this in Oregon but ultimately I can't see myself being too far from a real city. Maybe if it were a seasonal thing..

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:31 pm

saving-10-years wrote:
Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:37 pm
Its teaching me the wisdom of not hoarding good stuff to use later. Use it now or sell it on! (Or make sure its in VERY SAFE storage).
Not hoarding?? :shock: One of those Pendleton blankets cost me $3 at a yard sale! How can I not hoard it? :D

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:09 pm

bryan wrote:
Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:20 pm
latest pics inspired me to have another look for crappy lots (urban or more forested) within biking distance to some social nexus...

@halfmoon, did you already mention how much the land cost, or how much it is worth now? I've day-dreamed about doing stuff like this in Oregon but ultimately I can't see myself being too far from a real city. Maybe if it were a seasonal thing..
@bryan, distance to a social nexus is key along with employment opportunities (obviously related), climate and a number of other factors. The 40 acres cost us $18,000. Building the house was another $12,000 for a total cost of $30,000...excluding the subsequently-built structures and our own years of self-imposed 'free' labor. Actually, it's hard to decide if our labor was a cost or an asset (Jacob? need help here) because we gained strength, knowledge, satisfaction and self confidence with everything we did.

Your second question is timely; we're finally facing the need to sell the property because we can't keep up with it any more. What is it worth now? Obviously, the worth to us is immeasurable. We viewed the isolation and heavy snowfall as positive factors when we lived there, but our standards were unique. Determining what it will sell for is another matter entirely.

I'm pretty sure there would be more opportunities for cheap land in Oregon than the Bay Area, but insanely good deals are probably hard to find anywhere. Investors, flippers and RE agents are pretty tuned in to every opportunity. DH was showing me an ad for "cheap" real estate ($2k/acre) in Tennessee, so I googled the state minimum wage just for fun: $7.25/hour. Makes that real estate look a little less cheap. :(

*Edited to correct the addition of $18,000 and $12,000. I originally came up with $20,000, which is just embarrassing for an accountant. :oops:
Last edited by halfmoon on Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bryan
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by bryan » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:02 pm

I guess it's important as ever before to find deals before they hit the market.. and conversely to get what you are selling marketed!

My dad got back to me today about the $10k lot. Mostly positive and he will look into it further. However, from the conversation it sounded like he wants me to buy it. Not a bad idea but I assumed he would.. I suspect he wants me to plant some type of roots back home, even if it just means more frequent visits?

Good luck with the sell. Are y'all just going to be moving back west (did you sell the western WA property)? Sorry if I am skipping ahead in the book :P

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:25 pm

bryan wrote:
Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:02 pm
Good luck with the sell. Are y'all just going to be moving back west (did you sell the western WA property)?
We never sold the western WA property, and we actually moved back here "temporarily" in 2002...still here. Accepting the reality that we would never return full time to our mountain home took years of emotional adjustment. We enjoy it now. Quality medical care is critical; the ability to grow things is a bonus; good ethnic food is priceless. :D

Where is the lot (near your dad) that you're considering?

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bryan
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by bryan » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:04 pm

A nice suburb in Alabama where I grew up. The lot is in the "less desirable" (only historically.. race lines.. it's close to a lot of good stuff) part of town which doesn't matter at all (well it matters for the fact that the prices there will be multiples of what they are today after a few years, trends-willing). I could see that part of town being for folks my age (tiny houses, shotguns, bicycling, etc) starting families and being priced out of the $350k++ homes in the same school district. I'll probably buy it or make sure my dad buys it...

But AL is a lot different than the Bay Area :) I am reminded every time I visit..

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:17 am

@bryan, the lot could be a good investment from your description.

Have you looked at comparable properties in the same part of town? Are there a lot of vacant lots for sale? How about houses? Are sales brisk or slow? What are the property taxes? Is city sewer/water either available or already in? If already in, what's the monthly bill? If not, what's the hookup cost?

Gentrification is a good bet as long as there's employment and sustainable growth in the area. Is it a place that can attract people your age? Keep in mind the reasons that you don't want to live there.

I think (without actually researching) that some of the southeast US is experiencing growth from retirees looking to move someplace cheap and warm. If the $350k homes in the same school district are predominantly owned by retirees, they'll vote to keep property taxes low at the expense of schools -- and they'll probably not be a gentrification force for your target neighborhood.

We know people who are planning to retire to S Carolina for the low property taxes, cheap new homes and warm winters. They're unwilling to consider non-white neighborhoods. No gentrification for them. :evil:

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bryan
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by bryan » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:42 pm

halfmoon wrote:
Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:17 am
move someplace cheap and warm
But not humid ;)

This specific town seems to be the preferred suburb of the city for millennials.. probably because back in high school we kicked so much ass in everything while still having a down to earth/grounded reputation and somewhat diverse student body. All the other suburbs have some light stigma/obvious downside. So it makes sense to me that everyone wants to raise their kids there.. Also, it is the closest suburb (of the same-tiered ones) to the city. Everyone seems to think the city is hopeless as far as schools go.. I'm not convinced, but if they are right then this suburb is a prime choice. Also it could some bias on my part since I grew up there and that's my social circle online or when I go home... but I do meet plenty of people that grew up in a competing suburb but now live or want to move to this one.

There's no doubt it's a good investment opportunity (assuming no horrible gotchas..). However, I'm ethically somewhat opposed to real estate investing. This situation I wouldn't feel bad about, however. I also don't want to waste my first-time home-buyer bonus perk, whatever that is.

The lot on zillow looks like a 1/2 lot size. Kind of weird.. The large corner lot next to it, I mentioned, is a garden so I will see if it is owned by the town or what.. Zestimates for small lot homes in that area are about $100k. Backyard neighbours (not in the neighbourhood) are $230k, which is about the low end for any home in the town.. The elementary school it is zoned for is also the best one in the town. Thanks for the tips. Waiting for my dad to make some inquiries. He's always on top of this sort of thing.

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:59 pm

bryan wrote:
Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:42 pm
halfmoon wrote:
Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:17 am
move someplace cheap and warm
But not humid ;)
Yeah; there's that humidity thing. And yet...retirees are flocking to the southeast. That low COL is pretty compelling, especially if you've never actually experienced a hot, humid summer.

I suspect that Zillow's values are often inaccurate. I base this on my obsession with local real estate (including our own), in which I compare Zillow values with listing/selling prices in a completely random and unscientific manner. Regarding the lot looking half-size: I would check with the county assessor's site. That's where reality lives. :D

It sounds as though you (and your dad) are thinking clearly. One caveat: I'd compare vacant lot values instead of home values, because there are too many variables in comparing the value of improvements. On the other hand, $10k is a pretty safe bet...unless the lot is unbuildable. Better check with the county planning department on that (so maybe two caveats).

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by George the original one » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:17 pm

halfmoon wrote:
Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:59 pm
I suspect that Zillow's values are often inaccurate.
If you rigorously pay attention to them, you'll see Zillow does annual or semi-annual corrections of their Zestimates. Usually about the time you tell yourself "Hey, Zillow is waaay off the mark now". Over the years, I've seen corrections of as much as 10% for property I've owned. Note that they also correct the price history to the new value, so unless you're watching weekly or monthly, you won't see the adjustment.

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:14 pm

@GeorgeTOO, I admittedly haven't rigorously tracked the trend in Zillow values. When I look ("look" probably doesn't convey my obsession level) at real estate listings in my target rental property area, I usually check out the value estimates on Zillow and Redfin. Zillow is consistently higher. Neither site seems to take into account micro factors (has the property been improved since the last sale; is the house trashed; what's the development potential). Maybe my expectations are too high for a free website. ;)

For example: I was looking at the listing for a lot with a house that explicitly was a tear-down. The listing specified that the parcel could no longer be used for a single family home, and to my great amusement the front door had a sign stating that the door was not included with the sale. :lol: I didn't feel that Zillow's estimate reflected this.

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