Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

September 3, 2014

Cambridge Discovery Day Historical Tours – Saturday, Sept 20, 2014

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:15 pm

Cambridge Discovery Day Historical Tours – Saturday, Sept 20

Enjoy a variety of free historical tours and events on Cambridge Discovery Day Saturday, Sept 20, from 9:30am–7pm. For tour descriptions, view the list below or visit, choose some tours and meet guides at the starting locations. All tours and events will take place rain or shine! For more information, contact Cambridge Historical Commission at 617-349-4683 (weekdays) or Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site at 617-876-4491 (weekends).

Pearl StreetA Pearl of a Street (9:30-11am)
Meet at Pearl Street entrance of Central Square Branch Library, 45 Pearl St., Cambridge
Explore the neighborhood of upper Pearl Street and discover Mr. Valentine’s workers’ cottages, the rowhouses built by Mr. Squires and the site of an old soap factory. Led by Kit Rawlins, Cambridge Historical Commission.  Questions? 617-349-4683 or

Free Tours of The Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters
Longfellow House(10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm)
Meet in the Visitor’s Center, Longfellow House, 105 Brattle St., Cambridge
In the winter of 1775-1776, this was the headquarters of General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Continental Army. From here, Washington directed the Siege of Boston and began to train and discipline the militias gathered in Cambridge. He entertained notable visitors, including Benjamin Franklin and Benedict Arnold. From 1837-1882, the house was a warm and welcoming place, the home of the poet, scholar and professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family. It was a favorite gathering place for philosophers and artists, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julia Ward Howe, James Russell Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Readings from poems, letters and diaries enliven the tours. Led by National Park Service Rangers. Questions? 617-876-4491

Stories of The Port: Between Kendall and Central (10-11:30am)
Kendall-CentralMeet at Jill Brown-Rhone Park, 900 Main St., junction of Columbia and Main streets and Mass. Ave.
Explore this neighborhood rich in ethnic and cultural diversity, public art and political history through the stories told by lifelong residents, immigrants and activists. See the mural on Portland Street celebrating Area 4; discover Clement Morgan and the park that bears his name; and delve into controversial projects, including urban renewal and the Inner Belt. The tour will end at Toscanini’s for coffee, ice cream and conversation. Led by Sarah Boyer, Oral Historian, Cambridge Historical Commission. Questions? 617-349-6171 or

“Have You Milked The Cows Today?” (11:30am–12:30pm)
Milk CowsMeet on brick apron to right of the Mass. Ave. door of First Parish Unitarian Church, Zero Church St. Look for the bright red rug! For Children Ages 4-12. (Must be accompanied by a responsible adult).
Mistress Elizabeth, an 18th century living history character from Charlestown-Beyond-the-Neck, is the widow of Captain Elias de la Rue and a sometime schoolteacher and lives in the summer of 1773. Mistress Elizabeth will teach attendees how to write their name with a quill pen, card and spin wool, and read the abecedarium from a hornbook. Join us in singing songs and dancing country dances, too! Materials will be provided. Questions? 781-646-3013 or

The Longfellow House Presents the Dead Writers Showcase (12-3pm)
Dead WritersMeet in the garden at Longfellow House-Washington’s HQ National Historic Site, 105 Brattle St.
Join this modern literary salon featuring living history performers portraying 19th Century American writers. Drop in at any time to chat informally with the authors, who will offer brief readings from their works throughout the afternoon. You may meet Richard Henry Dana Jr. (Daniel Berger-Jones), Margaret Fuller (Jessa Piaia), Nathaniel Hawthorn (Rob Velella), Julia Ward Howe (Libby Franck), Washington Irving (John Dennis Anderson), Harriet Beecher Stowe (Susan Lenoe) and Henry David Thoreau (Richard Smith). [Writers attending may change.] Questions? Call 617-876-4491

Streets & Squares of Cambridge: A Walk In Mount Auburn Cemetery (1-2:30pm)
Mt. Auburn CemeteryMeet at front gate of Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn St.
Have you ever wondered for whom the streets and squares of Cambridge are named? This tour will introduce you to the honored namesakes, including Zachariah Porter, Joseph Buckingham, Jared Sparks, Morrill Wyman, John Appleton, the Rindge family and many others. Their ideas and contributions — from the Porterhouse steak to the founding of Mount Auburn Hospital — helped create our culture and our city. Led by Carol Harper, volunteer docent. Questions? 617-607-1980 or or

Agents of Change: Polity & Politics in Cambridge Churches (1-2:30pm)
Agents of ChangeMeet at the information kiosk, Harvard Square.
Diversity of religious and political affiliations have been issues in Cambridge since Harvard’s first president became a Baptist and was asked to resign. Visit historic church sites; learn about the impact on New England of England’s Civil War of 1640 (the other civil war: Roundheads vs Royalists); and discuss how issues between Cambridge and Boston clergy foreshadowed and influenced events leading up to the Revolution. Sing a tune from the Bay Psalm Book at the site where it was published, join in a rousing political song or two at the Blue Anchor Tavern site, and listen to poetry by colonial writers. Handout included. Your guide, Mistress Elizabeth, is an 18th Century living history character from Charlestown-Beyond-the-Neck. The widow of Captain Elias de la Rue and a sometime schoolteacher, Mistress Elizabeth lives in the summer of 1773, just six months before the Boston Tea Party and a little less than two years before events at Lexington and Concord. Questions? 781-646-3013 or

Fresh Pond Places: A History Walkabout (1-3pm)
Fresh PondMeet at Ranger Station (door under the clock tower facing pond), 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
A walk from the Water Treatment Plant to Black’s Nook passes through thousands of years of history, from Fresh Pond’s glacial past, through the days of private land ownership, to the booming international ice trade of the 19th century. Learn about the role of the railroad, view areas where ice houses stood, and discover the origins of place names. Program will be inside it it’s raining. Registration REQUIRED by Sept. 13. Wear comfy shoes! Led by Chief Ranger Jean Rogers Black’s Nook. Questions?

The Old Burying Ground: Epitaphs, Elegies & Encomiums (3-4:15pm)
Old Burying GroundMeet at the Old Burying Ground gate next to Christ Church, Zero Garden St.
Examine the work of early colonial carvers; discuss the stones and the information they convey about important figures in the Cambridge community; and study how institutionalized colonial slavery affected burial sites, stones and commemorative texts in the years just prior to the American Revolution. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. No touching or rubbing of stones is permitted in the grounds; photography and drawing are fine! Handout included. Led by Mistress Elizabeth. Questions? 781-646-3013 or

The Women of Tory Row (3-4:30pm)
Women of Tory RowMeet at the Tory Row marker, corner of Brattle and Mason streets
In the 1760s, the estates along the King’s Highway to Watertown formed Cambridge’s richest and most elegant neighborhood. The American Revolution turned that world upside-down. This tour explores the lives of the women who managed households along modern Brattle Street, from the tumult in 1774 that drove away the neighborhood’s leading families, through the early republic. The women to be discussed include widows both wealthy and impoverished, wives who went into exile both happily and reluctantly, a formerly enslaved housekeeper and a German noblewoman captured with her husband at Saratoga. Led by J. L. Bell, historian. Questions?

The Writers of Cambridge Cemetery (5:30-7pm)
WritersMeet at Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave., outside the cemetery office.
Not all of our famous writers are interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Join this twilight stroll through Cambridge Cemetery and visit the final resting places of some of the 19th Century’s most important literary figures, including William Dean Howells and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Led by Rob Velella, literary historian. The cemetery is a short walk from the 71/73 bus stop at Mount Auburn St. and Coolidge Ave. Parking is available at the cemetery. Questions?

Cambridge Discovery Day is sponsored by the Historic Cambridge Collaborative:
Cambridge Historical Commission – 617-349-4683 or
Cambridge Historical Society – 617-547-4252  or
Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery – 617-547-7105 or
Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site – 617-876-4491 or
Cambridge Public Library/Archives & Special Collections –

This program was funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

August 29, 2014

A Vehicular Revamping

Filed under: Cambridge,cycling,MIT,schools,transportation — Sharanya Srinivasan @ 5:22 pm

Anyone who has traversed up the bulbous convexity of a steep hill has made the sweaty decision that bicycles should come equipped with an alternative power source that does not involve leg muscles. Luckily the recent development of the e-bike, an electric bicycle that comes with a rechargeable battery-powered motor, has addressed this serious transportation concern. According to a 2014 report in The New York Times, e-bike sales are “surging” in Europe, with “250,000 e-bikes on the road in Switzerland and bike sales rising by over 9 percent in Netherlands”. Numerous start-ups in the Cambridge and Boston areas are looking to emulate the success of e-bike sales abroad, by engineering products that significantly reduce the physical exertion of riders while enabling an easy crossover from standard bikes to electric.

Superpedestrian, a Cambridge-based enterprise, creates a novel design for the e-bike called the Copenhagen Wheel. This technology involves no necessary hardware to install other than the wheel itself, and therefore fits on most standard bicycles. The wheel’s motor is operated by a lithium battery which manipulates the torque on the bike’s back wheel to propel the vehicle 20 mph via power assist. And the best part? The speed settings for the Copenhagen Wheel can be controlled by a smartphone app. Superpedestrian, born from a collaboration between MIT’s SENSEable City Lab and the City of Copenhagen, plans to release its first consumer models by the end of the year.

Evelo, another Cambridge-based company, was established a few years ago and advertises the “electrifying power” of its bicycles. Evelo bikes are equipped with Intelligent Pedal Assistance, which provides 3 options of riding with a mid-drive motor system. Further e-bike expansion is around the corner – Craigslist posts shared by the Boston Cyclists Union have hinted that another electric bike venue will be coming soon to Boston.

Undoubtedly, these e-bike businesses are looking to capitalize on the relatively strong biker culture that already exists in Cambridge, a demographic that spans college students maniacally racing to class, leisurely weekend cyclists, and daily commuters pedaling to offices. Thus far, e-bikes have garnered attention in the US as a transportation option for the elderly and people with limited mobility. However, The New York Times states that e-bikes still represent a “niche” in the US. For e-bikes to experience commercial success in Cambridge and elsewhere in the US, these start-ups need to reach a broad target market and encourage standard bike users to transition to the electric version.

The state of Massachusetts also has specific restrictions on motorized bicycles, that limit the speed of e-bikes to 25 mph and prohibit their usage on major highways or roadways where standard bicycles are not allowed. Another “speedbump” to e-bike sales might be price; the Copenhagen Wheel is priced at 799 dollars, and various Evelo models land at 2000 dollars. Certainly, there is fairness behind the upmarket price tag on e-bikes (remember the smartphone app?), but it is up to electric bike companies to market this rationale appealingly to consumers.

Regardless, for those cyclists who find pedaling to be tiresome and an exercise in redundancy…you now have your solution!

August 20, 2014

Cambridge Challenges Somerville to the Ice Bucket

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 2:42 pm


L to R: Joe Amaroso, Mayor David Maher, City Manager Richard Rossi, School Superintendent Jeff Young

Not shown: School Committee members Fred Fantini, Mervan Osborne, Kathleen Kelly, and Patty Nolan; and City Councillors Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Nadeem Mazen, and Dennis Carlone

Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi, along with members of the City Council, School Committee, and City Staff, participated in an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on August 20, 2104. The challenge was dedicated to current City employees who are battling this disease and to those employees who have lost their fight. Over 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.

So many people in all walks of life are being faced with this terrible disease,” stated Cambridge Mayor David Maher, “just last week we lost a long time Cambridge School employee and friend, Jurina Vellucci, to ALS. Knowing how many people are suffering from ALS, we felt compelled to participate in a large scale way to help create awareness and to contribute to research for a cure.”

Ms. Vellucci was an employee at the King Open School (and the former Harrington School) who lost her four year battle with ALS.

“I would do this challenge as many times as necessary if the awareness raised by this campaign could help find a cure,” said City Manager Richard Rossi.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

The ice and buckets were generously donated by Acme Ice on Kirkland St. in Cambridge.

To learn more about ALS visit:

Aug 20 Boston Globe Update:
ALS Association Donations Top $31 Million Thanks to Ice Bucket Challenge

August 19, 2014

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 79 and 80 with Terry Smith

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:50 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 79 with Terry Smith (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 19, 2014 at 5:30pm. Robert Winters was the host (Susana’s on vacation). [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 80 with Terry Smith (Part 2)

This episode broadcast on Aug 19, 2014 at 6:00pm. Robert Winters was the host (Susana’s on vacation). [On YouTube]

August 16, 2014

2013 Cambridge City Council Campaign Finance Receipts (Jan 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014)

2013 Cambridge City Council Campaign Finance Receipts (Jan 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014)

Cambridge %
union/PAC %
Real Estate %
Benzan, Dennis$25,891.00$55,161.0046.9%3.3%0.5%$2,000 overpayment subtracted
Carlone, Dennis$34,796.00$41,650.0083.5%0.6%0.5%$16,000 from candidate
Cheung, Leland$21,366.00$51,385.3741.6%6.4%20.2%$2 from candidate
House, Janneke$12,177.24$14,811.7382.2%0.2%5.1%$6867.24 from candidate; $1132.76 reimbursed
Kelley, Craig$10,591.00$11,441.0092.6%0%3.5%$25 from candidate
Lee, James$1,800.00$1,975.0091.1%0%0%$1,800 from candidate
Leslie, Logan$20,520.00$24,007.5385.5%4.2%0%$13,100 from candidate
Maher, David$28,260.00$50,653.6855.8%6.6%22.4%-
Mazen, Nadeem$10,706.96$41,058.4326.1%2.7%0%includes $1750 in-kind, $3000 loan from candidate
McGovern, Marc$28764.80$58,228.1349.4%9.3%29.5%$1903.58 from previous campaign
Mello, Gary$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%$500 from candidate
Mirza, Mushtaque$17,786.00$19,983.0089.0%0%0%$17,000 loan; $16793.84 apparently forgiven
Moree, Gregg J. $2,400.00$2,400.00100.0%0%0%$2,400 from candidate not itemized
Peden, Ron$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%$500 from candidate not itemized
Phillips, Lesley$500.00$500.00100.0%0%0%-
Reeves, Ken$14,343.88$67,362.9321.3%9.3%25.0%Campaign headquarters greatly underreported; accounting unclear
Seidel, Sam$15,362.00$22,245.8269.1%1.1%0.9%$4,001 from candidate
Simmons, Denise$16,125.00$35,222.0245.8%14.1%20.3%-
Smith, Jefferson$20,040.00$39,440.0050.8%6.0%0%$17,220 from candidate; confused accounting
Toomey, Tim$15,969.43$41,083.7738.9%13.6%22.1%-
vanBeuzekom, Minka $22,512.00$31,757.7070.9%1.3%3.0%$7,500 from candidate
Vasquez, Luis$1,375.00$2,410.9657.0%0%0%-
von Hoffmann, Kristen$6,351.33$17,166.4537.0%0%1.7%$1,750 loan; $1640.33 in-kind forgiven
Williamson, James-----no reported receipts
Yarden, Elie-----no reported receipts

Note: Receipts include candidate loans which can greatly increase the percentage from Cambridge. Fees are included and reduce total receipts. Percentages for unions/PACS and identifiable real estate interests (RE) are shown. The total receipts in the first graph below includes all receipts reported by the bank. Bank receipts in some cases do not match the reported itemized receipts. All figures taken from Mass. Office of Campaign & Political Finance (OCPF) reports.

Two candidates in particular, Nadeem Mazen and Jefferson Smith, have financial reports that are especially difficult to decipher due to their liberal use of credit cards which resulted in some expenses being counted twice. I corrected the data as much as I could, but both campaigns could have used a competent treasurer.

Additional information, including expenditures, may be found at

These figures will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Total Itemized Receipts – 2013 (through Dec 14)

Cambridge Percentage
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Cambridge – 2013 (through Dec 14, minimum $2000)

Cambridge Receipts from Others
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Cambridge w/o Candidate Loans

Percent Real Estage
Percentage of Itemized Receipts from Real Estate/Developers – 2013 (through Dec 14, minimum $5000)

Campaign Finance – 2013 Cambridge City Council candidates

Filed under: 2013 Election,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 5:15 pm

The campaign finance reports are continuing to tell a story about which candidates made serious runs for a seat on the Cambridge City Council in 2013, how costly their campaigns were, and how effective their expenditures proved to be. Here are the figures from January 2013 through the latest (July 31, 2014) reports:

#1 Votes
Benzan, Dennis16-Jan-1331-Jul-14$0.00$57019.84$56829.83$190.011302$43.65$2000 refunded donation subtracted
Carlone, Dennis1-Aug-1331-Jul-14$0.00$42330.05$41727.29$602.761151$36.25includes late $10,000 candidate loan (Dec 2013)
Cheung, Leland1-Jan-1315-Jan-14$7016.78$50586.80$37041.34$20562.242392$15.49$800 overpayment deducted; now running for Lt. Gov.
House, Janneke1-Jun-1331-Jan-14$0.00$13518.97$13538.95-$19.98411$32.94$1132.76 reimbursed candidate loan subtracted
Kelley, Craig1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$5262.08$11461.80$4820.65$2903.231093$4.41$9,000 candidate loan reimbursement subtracted
Lee, James1-Aug-1315-Nov-13$0.00$1207.42$1207.42$0.0092$13.12$1,149.64 loan reimbursed subtracted
Leslie, Logan16-Jan-1331-Jul-14$0.00$26274.52$24831.40$1443.12505$49.17
Maher, David1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$19131.76$50678.68$68425.33$1385.111460$46.87
Mazen, Nadeem1-May-1331-Jul-14$0.00$45255.44$46854.70-$1599.26984$47.62$100 refunded donation subtracted; cost of school bus and parking costs not in any reports; account overdrawn; horrible accounting
McGovern, Marc16-Feb-1331-Jul-14$0.00$61640.86$49776.17$11864.691189$41.86$1,903.58 School Committee balance included in receipts
Mello, Gary1-Aug-1315-Dec-13$0.00$549.99$549.99$0.00107$5.14
Mirza, Mushtaque16-Aug-1331-Jan-14$0.00$20083.00$20083.00$0.00284$70.71
Moree, Gregg J. 1-Feb-1315-Jan-14$0.00$3850.00$3896.46-$46.4638$102.54account overdrawn
Peden, Ron2-Aug-1329-Aug-13$0.00$500.00$500.00$0.0050no depository reports
Phillips, Lesley16-Aug-1315-May-14$0.00$3994.50$3994.50$0.0083$48.13$1267.31 from previous campaign account not recorded, $500 loan subtracted
Reeves, Ken1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$16034.27$56540.07$68962.93$3611.41932$73.99Only $1,000 campaign hdqtrs. rent to 3MJ Realty recorded
Seidel, Sam1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$253.96$22247.60$22260.40$241.16700$31.80
Simmons, Denise1-Jan-1331-Jul-14
Smith, Jefferson1-May-1331-Jul-14$0.00$41369.46$41412.12-$42.66579$71.52account overdrawn; credit card debt apparently being paid down
Toomey, Tim1-Jan-1331-Dec-13$6035.62$41083.77$36840.00$8779.391459$25.25$1500 loan reimbursement subtracted from expenses, balance.
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1-Jan-1331-Jul-14$5201.71$32285.19$33722.01$3764.89874$38.58$8,007.68 bank transfer included in expenditures
Vasquez, Luis16-May-1315-Jun-14$0.00$2387.33$2387.33$0.00264$9.04
von Hoffmann, Kristen16-Feb-1331-Dec-13$0.00$16919.17$16919.17$0.00421$40.19$109.67 reimbursed loan subtracted
Williamson, James1-Jan-1331-Dec-13$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0074no reports on record
Yarden, Elie2-Aug-1331-Dec-13$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00102no reports on record

The table can be sorted by category in ascending or descending order by clicking on the category name in the top row.

The Dollars Per Vote information will continue to rise as outstanding bills are paid. In addition, some reimbursed candidate loans have been subtracted in order to give a more accurate picture of actual expenses.

Two candidates in particular, Nadeem Mazen and Jefferson Smith, have financial reports that are especially difficult to decipher due to their liberal use of credit cards which resulted in some expenses being counted twice. I corrected the data as much as I could, but both campaigns could have used a competent treasurer.

All 2013 Campaign Finance Report Summaries (PDF) – last updated August 16, 2014

You can also look up these periodic reports yourself at the OCPF website.

This post and the table will be updated periodically.

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2013

August 14, 2014

Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi Accept ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 4:37 pm

City Council and School Committee Members will Participate in Group Challenge

ALS ChallengeOn Wednesday, August 20, at 2:00pm, Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher, along with Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan and other members of the Cambridge City Council, will participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. The event will occur on Cambridge City Hall lawn. “So many people in all walks of life are being faced with this terrible disease,” stated Cambridge Mayor David Maher, “just last week we lost a long time Cambridge School employee and friend, Jurina Vellucci, to ALS. Knowing how many people are suffering from ALS, we felt compelled to participate in a large scale way to help create awareness and to contribute to research for a cure.”

Ms. Vellucci was an employee at the King Open School (and the former Harrington School) who lost her four year battle with ALS last week.

Joining them will be several Cambridge School Committee members, City Manager Richard C. Rossi, several city department heads and City Hall staff.

Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan and Councilor Marc McGovern were recently challenged by former Cambridge City Councilor and Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie Decker. The Mayor’s office seized the opportunity to make it a group challenge on the lawn at City Hall, and to help create awareness of ALS. The Cambridge contingent will be challenging another local city to do the same.

The ice and buckets will be generously donated by Acme Ice on Kirkland St. in Cambridge. Eric Law, owner of Acme Ice can be reached at 781-420-1332.

For additional information, please contact Alanna Mallon in Mayor David Maher’s Office at 617-349-4327 or email

August 5, 2014

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 77 and 78 with Patty Nolan

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 8:54 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 77 with Patty Nolan (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 78 with Patty Nolan (Part 2)

This episode broadcast on Aug 5, 2014 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

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