vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

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vexed87
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:10 am

August Update

OK, so my update is long overdue, I've been extremely busy so forgive me!

So, kind of a big life milestone achieved, I married SO, who is now DW! :D

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DW and I honeymooned in the USA, we hit up Vegas, Hawaii and San Francisco. Here's some of my favourite snaps.

Sunrise view from 55th floor, Vegas:
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Ferry to Alcatraz, San Fran:
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Chinatown, SF:
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T-Rex Pen @ Jurrasic Park :lol: (Kuaui Island)
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As you can imagine, this trip cost us a few pennies, but as DW says, the memories are for life and I genuinely enjoyed every minute, at least we are not in a penny of debt after the wedding/honeymoon unlike most of DWs peers! My only regret was not hiring a fixie to ride around SF, but DW wouldn't have been able to keep up so we did the whole tourist bus thing instead, at least we got to see the whole city.

In other news, with the wedding and all related expenses out of the way we are turning our attention to house hunting. I had almost forgot how much of a headache house hunting is. We have no firm ideas about where we want to live exactly, but it has to be within cycling distance of my work, I've tried to dissuade DW from somewhere too rural. I think I could push myself to 30 mile round trip, but that house would have to be something special. Ideally I want less than 10 miles from our two nearest cities. I work in one, DW the other. It's working well so far, we are about 8 miles from my work and 6 from DW's place of work. Looking at some of the houses we are going for. I'm glad that DW is being realistic about keeping mortgage payments down, but we are probably sill looking at 18-20% of combined income on mortgage payments. House prices are crazy here in the UK, just glad I'm not in London.

My vegetable garden was all but wiped out by the time I returned from our 3 week trip, my potatoes have caught early blight, most of my salad plants have bolted and my dad ran a strimmer past the unmanaged weeds and destroying what was left in the process. :evil: I cannot wait to have my own space to garden. Just about all that was left was some spring onions which I have been enjoying this week.

I finally also started contributing to my Stocks and Shares ISA. It's not much, but I'm saving 25% of towards retirement at this stage, I'll ramp this back up to 60% once we have the house down payment sorted. Quite exciting to see my capital gains post brexit.

I stopped tracking expenses some time before the wedding, simply because it was becoming more of a hinderance than a useful measure. I'll probably be back to tracking my NW gains and expense ratios at some point soon, maybe from September, but the sudden drops from wedding/impending house purchase are slightly disheartening, probably why I dont feel like sharing graphs this month. Come back when I have some good news ;)

And finally, meet my new fixed speed bike/toy. I picked this up from some guy moving out of the area, 2/3 off retail sticker price, only a few months old. I spotted it on gumtree after toying with the idea of building my own, but as it purpose built and such a bargain, I had to have it. Admittedly, I haven't ridden a fixed gear off the track before, it's slightly disconcerting to not be able to stop pedaling/coast when heading downhill or attempting to stop at speed! I have really enjoyed the challenge of riding this on the local hills, there are a lot of hills around here and pretty steep too. I think riding this regularly will really increase my fitness and eliminate lots of frustration with mechanical issues, who knows. It may become my main steed. It's my new favourite for sure.

Image

OK, I need to keep my wallet closed for now and focus on accumulating once more!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by jennypenny » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:49 am

Your wedding photo is lovely! Congratulations!

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vexed87
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:54 am

Thank you JP :)

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cmonkey
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:18 am

Good looking couple! Congrats.

vraxxos
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vraxxos » Sun Aug 21, 2016 3:14 pm

Congrats! Getting married was the second best decision I ever made (children was the first).

George the original one
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by George the original one » Sun Aug 21, 2016 3:44 pm

What a model couple!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Noedig » Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:28 pm

Hey Vexed, nice to see another UK blogger. Congratulations on settling down.

Having discovered ERE a couple of years back and gone through a stage of extreme enthusiasm for the idea myself, I have settled down into a position where I am more content to spend money the money I have, it's just that my criteria have changed to rule out spending on consumer crap and buying things when cheaper equivalents exist. Hence, bulk buys, home cooking, ebay/gumtree, UK holidays & cheap citibreaks, and an old workhorse diesel car.

As a cycle commuter for thirty years my advice is, have a spare bike for those days when the main one is out of commission. Forgive me if this is dealt with somewhere in your blog, I just have sympathy after I read your "had a bad day" post including the chain down the drain. Special congrats for ditching the car lease, I know that's old news but was a striking marks of a change of course in your life for the better.

I think that a lot of the appeal of ERE to those on this board, is that of control: as INTJ people for the most part, we need to have control.

What I mean is, that fixing things, laying down food for disasters, the feeling of financial security - ERE becomes a rationale for doing what we really wanted to do anyway, a kind of defence-in-depth from the world. My opinion now is that that tendency has to actually be held in check so I don't go to ground and neglect human relationships, or throw time and energy at cost-ineffective tasks unless there's a really good reason (like, finding out if fixing a washing machine is cost-effective!). I'm all for saving the planet and I always try to fix things before ditching them, but sometimes quality goods are so cheap, it just makes no economic sense. If you've spare energy to tinker though, kudos to you.

Congrats on buying an old Mac BTW, after haunting ebay I did same myself, would not swap my Imac 24 for anything. Use it mostly as a PC tho.

Good luck with the journey, and well done for starting a couple of decades younger than I did!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Viktor K » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:57 am

Hey Vexxed, just caught up on your journal. It's a great read! A lot of stuff I can relate to here! My SO is the "NF" mindset as opposed to yours "SF", but I have the same challenges with getting her on board for stuff! Wishing you luck and congratulations on tying the knot! Keep keeping us posted please! :)

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vexed87
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:21 am

Thanks all for the lovely comments!
Noedig wrote:As a cycle commuter for thirty years my advice is, have a spare bike for those days when the main one is out of commission....
Not sure if I ever mentioned it in this thread, I probably have elsewhere, but I started out commuting on my Mum's old MTB but the frame was too small and weighs as much as a tank. It was not fun to ride on a 16 mile commute, a proper back-up has been on the cards for some time, but I was waiting for the right bike to present itself, hopefully it just did :)
Noedig wrote:I just have sympathy after I read your "had a bad day" post including the chain down the drain. Special congrats for ditching the car lease, I know that's old news but was a striking marks of a change of course in your life for the better.
Ah that was a bad day but I can look back and laugh now. :lol: Thanks, getting rid of the car was a major turning point for me. Quite symbolic. I don't know what happened, but ERE just clicked for me around about then. I think overcoming the cognitive dissonance that comes with car ownership and wanting to save the earth while saving money really helped spur on lots more positive change at home.
Noedig wrote:I think that a lot of the appeal of ERE to those on this board, is that of control: as INTJ people for the most part, we need to have control.
What I mean is, that fixing things, laying down food for disasters, the feeling of financial security - ERE becomes a rationale for doing what we really wanted to do anyway, a kind of defence-in-depth from the world. My opinion now is that that tendency has to actually be held in check so I don't go to ground and neglect human relationships...
This is something I really need to work on myself, luckily DW is very patient with me, thankfully she sees a lot of the sense in what I am saying and doing, but helps me strike a balance, particularly by encouraging me not to bring it up the pro's of ERE with everyone I meet for the first time, thus avoiding scaring them away and failing to build new relationships. I've calmed myself down a lot in the last 12 months, but there's still some way to go! :)

@Viktor, glad others are getting something out of it and my life isn't too mundane :D

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by FBeyer » Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:02 am

vexed87 wrote:...
And finally, meet my new fixed speed bike/toy. I picked this up from some guy moving out of the area, 2/3 off retail sticker price, only a few months old. I spotted it on gumtree after toying with the idea of building my own, but as it purpose built and such a bargain, I had to have it. Admittedly, I haven't ridden a fixed gear off the track before, it's slightly disconcerting to not be able to stop pedaling/coast when heading downhill or attempting to stop at speed! I have really enjoyed the challenge of riding this on the local hills, there are a lot of hills around here and pretty steep too. I think riding this regularly will really increase my fitness and eliminate lots of frustration with mechanical issues, who knows. It may become my main steed. It's my new favourite for sure.
Image
...
HA! The single-speed corruption spreads!
I'd never ride a fixed gear, but I have a hard time imagining that I'd ride something that wasn't a single speed ever again. Mechanical issues are long gone with a single speed. Taking the back wheel off and on again is usually a hassle with gears and whatnot; no more!

Muy importante: You should be riding at a somewhat high cadence to avoid trashing your knees. In time you'll figure out the proper gain ratio.

Congratulations on the marriage!

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vexed87
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:54 am

@Fbeyer, I really enjoy riding it, sadly I haven't had as many chances as I would like as there's a couple of issues... the bar tape I bought kept coming off in heavy rain we have here, I think the adhesive has perished. I'll need to source some double-sided tape to keep it in place. Secondly, the gear ratio is way too challenging for the local hills, I thought my fitness would explode exponentially within a few weeks but it appears I'm about as fit as I can get! :lol: A few weeks after riding 2 or 3 times a day I was getting really terrible low back pain and it wasn't getting any easier. I think I was putting way too much strain on my back spinning up those hills. A larger cassette on the back is definitely in order. I think it's got a 16T cassette on there right now, whereas I'd be better off with at least a 18T cassette, maybe even a 20T! I'm shelving that project for now though as winter is approaching. I'll have a new commute route on the horizon with lots of unlit path, I just picked up a cheap shimano dynamo hub and need to buy a new rim and lights and get on with a wheel build so a few large but fun expenses coming up in the transport category :).

October Update:

Big news this month, DW and I have put an offer on a house which has been accepted, we are going through the motions now with the mortgage lender, solicitors and building surveyors. I had heard the process was expensive, sheesh, I wasn't mentally prepared for the ridiculous fees charged! The whole thing could fall apart at any moment too, and we'd lose close to 3 months expenses paid out already! All being well, contracts will be exchanged around Christmas. Luckily for us the house is vacant so there is no chain. It's a 3 bedroom detached victorian house. It's a bit of a project but definitely liveable in the short term. But a project we'll both enjoy. Neither of us have taken anything like this on, so cmonkey, we may be calling you for advice on insulating and dry walling ;)

We are moving about 10 minutes drive away from our current location to a sleepy Yorkshire village. We'll both have slightly longer commutes which is ERE blasphemy, I know, I know! But that the only downside as far as I'm concerned. For me it's still bikeable at 10.5 miles each way, only 3 miles further than I am right now. 6 of those miles are on dedicated country cycle pathways with no cars in sight, hence the lack of street lighting and need for new dynamo setup. There's also public transport to the two nearby cities which we currently lack and a train station 2.4 miles away. The nearest supermarket is less than 3 miles away, there's local pubs, convenience stores and businesses. Our walkscore jumps from 6 to 47... so in that respects it's a step in the right direction! I'll also finally have my own garden space, and a home with working fireplaces in 4 rooms. A dream come true, so long as we exchange contracts.

Financials are not great as you might imagine, I've been saving for the best part of 2 years for this moment, so my net worth is taking a serious hit in the coming weeks, I'm not even going to share it :oops: , but on the plus side, my regular expenses have been super low as I have had to remain extra disciplined about spending to ensure we can cashflow the various fees without eating into our deposit. By the way, if anyone is wondering why I wasn't minted in my previous net worth graphs with deposit savings, I've kept cash savings for the house separate, not sure if I mentioned that. Savings rates into the coming months will probably remain well below 50% as we're going to need to decorate and furnish every room, and we'll need boring stuff like new guttering, garage doors, kitchen and new white goods.

I'm pretty excited to get in and start the renovation work, can't wait to see what the coming year brings.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:18 am

I do hope some pics are forthcoming*....DW and I are both in love with British Victorians. :) In fact, I am planning on building what I would consider a Victorian/British garden of sorts once I am done with this renovation. Fully furnished with greenhouses, cold frames, brick walls and paths, arbors, etc... Think Longmeadow. ;)

My only piece of advice would be to not do as much as I have done all in one go! While we have gotten it 'out of the way' it has made life much more stressful in the short run. Feel free to PM me for anything, however.

OTOH, my DIY confidence has now reached a new level that will extend the rest of my life. Not only on the house, but just with everything else. Whereas I had a pre and post marriage life, a pre and post ERE life, I also have a pre and post renovation life, as this event stands up there as 'life-changing' in terms of personal confidence in my ability to accomplish large goals.


Have fun! I remember moving into our first home together, its a very enjoyable time and one you will remember forever.

* maybe a caulking job :lol: ;)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by saving-10-years » Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:05 pm

Congrats on getting the offer accepted. Hope it all goes smoothly. Here is some advice which might prove helpful if problems crop up. This happened to us with our first house (Edwardian terraced that used to be a dentists and was in vegetation-on-roof bad repair.

If your mortgage provider asks for certain repairs (removing vegetation from roof and repointing were ones for us) then they will also likely ask you to provide information about costs of repairs.They will then hold back that amount from the agreed mortgage (even when said mortgage is not for the full amount of their valuation). This means that you are short some money and need that same amount to do the repairs. We quoted for all tasks that we could do ourselves as though we were doing them ourselves, so decorating, repointing, removing vegetation ... This meant that they kept back a much smaller amount and we could therefore afford to pay someone for pointing (which is very expensive because its almost all labour). Some friends who, unbeknownst to us, had tried to buy the same house were unable to do so because they supplied tradesmen-sized quotes for all the work and could not then finance the purchase (because of amount held back by mortgage company) as well as paying for the repairs.

Being ERE-types you should have more financial flex than that couple had, but its a frustrating loop to find yourself in. You can also show evidence that you have skills and experience to do the work. (Sorry if this is all obvious).

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:36 pm

@cmonkey, ah yes, I knew that caulking challenge would come back to haunt me. I have been putting it off, but can't do much longer as my father won't be best pleased if I leave his bathroom with moldy caulking! I've been getting on with woodworking though, so will have some of that to show off in next few weeks while, I'm doing it 100% hand tools and it's slow progress but lots of fun :)

@saving-10-years, great tips, I'm quietly confident that we got the house at a good price because the vendor was desperate to sell up. Hopefully major works that we know need doing won't eat into the property value much, we've also held back a few thousand for the very reasons you point out, but we'll definitely quote the work we can do ourselves at DIY rates, thanks for that!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Noedig » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:08 am

Good luck on completing your purchase : an old house in a sleepy country village, a dream for many and achievable it appears for you. Presumably what with the biking and growing your own veg and other idyll-facilitated pursuits, the ERE dream can be brought nearer once again.

BTW, IMHO is good time to get a mortgage in UK. Inflation will rise.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:45 am

Thanks Noedig, unfortunately the house isn't for us. The survey has come back and the house has major issues, possible rotting structural timbers due to extensive damp, significant issues with tree roots causing movement which makes the house uninsurable in the short term, the roof needs major repairs, including rebuilding of multiple chimney stacks and replacing of flashing and guttering and repointing of brickwork. It really is a beautiful house but it has been neglected to the point that it is beyond what we are prepared to take on and would no doubt turn into a money sink. I can cope with DIY but these issues require experts. We would be probably looking at spending 50k just to get the house up to a reasonable standard, we would be looking at a big fat negative return based on the current and potential valuation of the property.

We are taking the money lost survey and valuation fees on the chin and moving on. The surveyor told us that movement issues happen to only 1 in 100 houses so we are really quite unlucky. The annoying thing is the vendor knew about the movement issues as they have had corrective work done previously that they didn't highlight during our viewing, they knew these works had not resolved the issues as the have resurfaced since the failed intervention was undertaken.

The whole process is frustrating and expensive, and not made easier by vendors who conceal major issues! On the bright side, the surveyor reckons we can find better for our money in nearby areas. The search continues....

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by saving-10-years » Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:05 am

@vexed87 Sorry to hear this but well done in having a good survey. You might like to consider taking out mover protection insurance next time (we used SAGA when buying our rental and they offered this). What is it?
If, through no fault of your own, you are buying and the seller withdraws or accepts another offer, or if a search or survey shows something that prevents you from buying, we may refund you up to £1,850 in legal, survey and mortgage arrangement costs.

If, through no fault of your own, you are selling and a search or survey shows something you didn't know about which means you cannot sell, or if your buyer pulls out and you cannot find another, we may refund you up to £720 in legal and marketing costs.
The rental property was the second that we offered on. The first one had the sale fall through because there was unclear title on the access to the garage/parking. Saga did not charge any legal fees and also refunded the cost of the survey, so although this was more expensive than other conveyancing options it was worth it. It made me realise that people can simply change their minds. If you paid for surveys and all the other stuff and were happy to go ahead and the seller withdrew you would have no recourse. Where couples are selling up as part of a divorce/separation this seems to me to be an unforseen that could happen (they could reconcile or simply not agree so as to annoy the one wishing to sell). The good news is that at least you are not needing to sell in order to buy. What a nightmare that is and one that as extreme-ish savers we, and perhaps you also, will always be spared. Better luck next time.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:06 am

When you say 'movement' are you talking about the foundation moving/bending out? We had our "bending" foundation repaired for 8K. It was not due to tree roots, though, but just settling soil around our block foundation.

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vexed87
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:57 am

@10-years, Thanks for the tips. Our conveyancing fee's are thankfully refundable if we don't move, however as search fees with local authority are not, the conveyancer will credit this back to us for the next property we buy, which is better than nothing. The survey and bank valuation fees are non refundable though.

@cmonkey, Regarding the movement, yes the foundations of the building are moving and the damage caused by this could become significant in the long run, but it's hard to estimate the exact cause and cost of a resolution without a structural engineer. But it's going to be pricey. Based on everything else that needs remedial action. We're ducking this one out.

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Wheel building

Post by vexed87 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 5:12 pm

House hunting has quietened down lately, it's on the back burner until new year as the market is quiet this time of year, not a great deal of new stuff coming on the market. I have a slightly different update this time as not a lot is happening on the home front and I continue to save 60% of income, but it's mostly going to my shared savings with DW for the house for now though.

I recently started a thread here on dynamo hub wheels. As I just turned 29, I decided to treat myself and take the plunge and build a dynamo hub wheel after pricing it all up. I worked out I could do it reasonably cheaply if I kept the price of the rim and hub to a minimum. My current factory built wheels are nearing the end of their useful life anyway. After doing my research on hubs, the elegantly named Shimano DH-3N72 came up the winner at a frugal £58 delivered, compared with the Schmidt SON Delux which was £185 delivered. £58 is not much more than an mid range hub, yet a bargain price compared with the high end SON model.

The trade off between the SON and DH-3N72 is a slightly more utilitarian appearance and hub doesn't come with the better sealed bearings which means it won't last as long without proper maintenance. This means cleaning and re-greasing the bearings when they get contaminated with road grime. A 5-10 minute job if you have the tools and know-how. Having maintained my own hubs before, this is no big deal.

In order to keep costs down, I had to opt for the 36 spoke version of the dynamo hub, which due to a sale was £20 less than the 32 spoke equivalent. For those that know anything about bicycle wheels, the rear wheel usually has more spokes than the front, or at very least the same number. The reason being that more force is exerted on rear wheel as you drive the bike, so having more spokes on the front means unnecessary extra strength required for the front relative to the rear. Starting from budget factory built road wheels (20 spokes on the front, 24 spokes on the rear), it would be particularly odd to have a 36 spoke wheel up front, keep the 24 spoked wheel on the rear. Also, these seemingly fancy low count spoked wheels typically become untrue after any bump in the road and they are poorly built in factories which contributes to early spoke fatigue which results in breakages after a few thousand miles.

Therefore I decided to replace both wheels on my road bike with 36 spoked wheels. At the end of the process it meant I have some quality hand built, sturdy and hopefully long lived wheels. Replacing both means I am able to match colours of the hubs and rims on front and back too as the silver hub would stand out on an otherwise all black bike. I'm not normally so anal, but I don't want to look silly now do I ;)

I booked the day off to work on this. The parts arrived last week.

Image

Image

Here's the finished product.

Image

I just took the bike out for a spin on a dark country lane and I'm really pleased with the amount of light this lamp throws out. So wheel building is another string to my growing DIY bow. A particularly rewarding one too, as these wheel would cost me £220 to buy new (pre-built), mine for a fraction of the cost. 8-)

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