In my less-than-good moments, I am somewhat of a jerk.  (I was going to put something else, but want to keep this rated PG).  Take, for example, last Friday.  I was scheduled to get an MRI on my left shoulder, which got injured in a minor auto accident.  Since I generally follow a rule of “On time is late,” I arrived a few minutes early.

Which is funny, because I have had appointments at medical facilities before.  The most consistent thing is how off-schedule they tend to run.  For them, it seems, the “On Time is Late” rule is actually, “On Time is–not us.”  Whatever.  A minor inconvenience and a first-world problem.

My check-in time was 2 pm, and the procedure was scheduled for 230.  Fine.  In medical terms that means my check in is at 2 pm, and my procedure sometime after 3.  However, Friday was meant to be a special day.

As the day got on, I started not feeling terribly well.  Nothing big, just sort of icky.  Went to the MRI anyway.  As I sat waiting, every once in a while the lights would flicker, followed by a huge clanking.  Since I have had an MRI before, I guessed the noise and lights were the  machine probing someone else.  However, interspersed with the loud noise and the flickering lights was a sound light a huge cat coughing up a fur ball.

In the next room, I could hear voices asking someone if he felt OK.  Apparently he did.  This went on for several minutes.  The hacking, the questions, the answer.  A mini game of Groundhog’s Day.  With a lot of phlegm.

At about 245 (early-late!), I got called to the second waiting room.  Because it makes us feel better to be moved from one spot to the other to do the exact same thing–wait.  Whatever.  Minor progress, I guess.

The nice young woman who took me back explained that I would be changing into a gown.  I asked her how long this part of the waiting was, because the first part was such a blast, and she said, “I have no idea, honestly.  We’re really far behind.”  She then said I could wait while she found out how long it would be.  I told her I would not be putting on the gown at this particular time, which gave her some pause.  “Yeah.  That’s smart.  I wouldn’t either.”  She paused again, because the man was coughing.  Again.  “He just got over pneumonia.”

She left.  I stayed.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

The good news is that I was now into close proximity to this gentleman.  Some of the personnel kept asking him, “Are you sure you’re OK?  You sure?  Really?”  Because, as you know, you have to be still in the MRI thingy or it doesn’t work.  Coughing does not still make.

I heard a crunching, chewing noise around the coughing.  The gentlemen said, “No (hack), this cough drop they gave me is really good.  Really good.  Did the trick.”  Yep, sure did, as evidenced by your only coughing five times in a row instead of ten.

The woman who had been attending to me came back into my little closet. Yes, I stayed in the closet where the gowns were, because there wasn’t anybody in there working whatever he was working out of his throat.  And there was a bench-drawer thing.  Deal with it.  Anyway, she looked at me with now-tired eyes and said, “Well.  It’s gonna be a while.  There are a few people ahead of you (a few!  yay!).  And, well, we can’t find the doctor.”

Huh.  That’s a new one.

“Would you like to reschedule?”  No, no, thank you. I would rather sit and wait by someone who is “just” over pneumonia (whose gown is not closed in the back, but nice boxer shorts), when I am really starting to not feel well, and this is going to be probably another hour before I go in to a machine with very tight walls and, because I am a bit claustrophobic my brain tells me I am trapped in it.  No, no.  I think we are good here.

Then, it hits me what ungracious and un-called-for thoughts I have been having.  I realize how much negative energy I know I projected.  That these woman might have had a long day as well, and that even if my afternoon was inconvenienced, I don’t have to be an ass.

So, I take a breath, and say, “Sure.  That would be great.  Thank you for all your help.”

Here are some takeaways from that experience:

  • I forgot what grace and mercy look like, and that I could have had and shown more
  • I am a pain for all things medical (see first point above)
  • If restaurants ran their operations like many medical facilities, they would close
  • I am a pain
  • I could have prayed for that man’s healing, for the people working there, and for my own patience











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One of the books I’m currently reading is, “The Champion’s Comeback” by Jim Afremow, a sports psychologist. One of the takeaways for me is, “Refuse to be outworked or outhustled.”  This resonates with me.  My team and I talk a lot about this during training sessions, how we need to refuse to settle for less than a championship effort.

Here are some of the different ways we talk about this:

Refuse to be outworked

Refuse to be outhustled

Refuse to take training for granted

Refuse to settle

Refuse to deny yourself the pleasure of hard work

Refuse to have professional talent and amateur effort

Of course, pretty words and phrases aren’t enough.  Elite athletes need to have effective effort, with a growth mindset.  They need smart planning and training, and the guts to look and feel stupid while putting in those “smart hours” as they are learning and growing.  Elite athletes need to “want it” more than their coaches, parents, spouses, fans, and teammates.

Championship athletes refuse to be outworked.  They refuse to be outhustled.  They come to believe and own this.

Do you have a championship mindset?  What do you refuse to do that hinders your performance?







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Sometimes I wonder about “The Universe.”  I joke that if indeed the universe is both infinite and is infinitely expanding in all directions, then I must indeed be the center of it.  Yesterday, I had the thought, if the universe is infinite (as we understand that term), and if it is still expanding, then maybe we are never and always at its center.

This, of course, led me to think about the Infinite God.

If God is perfect in His holiness, and complete in Himself (meaning that He is in perfect harmony in and of Himself, in perfect relationship as a Triune God), then it could be reasoned that my sin of resentment or hate towards my enemy has the same weight as the sins committed by murderers, rapists, and terrorists.  He is so holy that in comparison to that Perfect Holiness, any and every sin has the same weight, and therefore can be forgiven to the truly repentant.

I have a hard time getting my head around this.  My freshman year of college, I had a roommate for a few months who was really on fire for Jesus.  He did not preach or attempt to convert, and would engage in conversation when invited.  I got supremely angry at him one day.

We were in the dorm room, talking about our faith walks.  I’m not sure how we got on the topic, but we started talking about sin and forgiveness.  I remember asking him something like, “You mean to tell me that if Adolf Hitler asked for forgiveness, and really meant it, that he would be forgiven?”  My roommate laughed delightedly, and said, “Yes!  Isn’t that great!?”

No, no it was not.  I was fuming.  How could someone so vile, so evil, who had knowingly committed such atrocities be forgiven?  How?  Because God’s goodness vanquishes evil.  Because He put “death in its grave.”

Sometimes, I still view acts of sin and rebellion like they’re objects that are put in a container.  The container is only so big, and can only hold so much.  Once it’s full, you’re done.  No more.  No passing Go, no collecting any reward in Heaven.  You are too far-gone for even the God of the universe.

I think this about my own behavior sometimes.  This is something I am working out with God.  I still struggle with knowing that I fall short of His glory, and He still welcomes me and calls me His son.  That my sin is not put in a container that will get so full that God will reject me.

Recently, a good friend of mine gave me a CD to listen to.  Good thing my car has a CD player.  In it, the preacher says that God does not deal with our past.  Our sin is dead in Jesus.  He deals with our future self, the one who has been forgiven and is made perfect in Him.  What we need to focus on is His righteousness in our lives.

Now, I get that there needs to be accountability.  No question.  For today, for Ash Wednesday, I am going to remember God’s perfect goodness on my life.  That He sent His son, who already paid the price for fools like me.  Who am I to deny God’s love and forgiveness for me?

Yes, there must be repentance.  Yes.  And, the God I believe in has enough grace, love, mercy, and power to forgive those who truly seek it.  We cannot behave ourselves into righteousness.  That being said:

Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation.

Forgiveness does not equal tolerance.

Forgiveness does not equal permission.

Forgiveness does not equal justification.

Forgiveness often means freedom for the one forgiving.  Forgiveness must be an active part of our spiritual DNA, because the Jesus of the Bible always forgave those who repented.  He sought the unclean, the unworthy, the broken.  He sought me.  And you.  He still is here for us.

Some of you will probably want to respond to this post with comments that are political in nature, or with verses (certainly from the Old Testament) that show God as vengeful and a just (meaning angry) God.  That’s not the person I know in Christ.  I would encourage you to engage in some meta-analysis as to why you would feel compelled to do so.  Is it born out of true righteousness, or self-righteousness?

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Posted in Life, Uncategorized, world taekwondo academy



Most mornings I wake up with part of a song in my head.  For several months, it was a song by the band Chicago, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.”  I can’t stand that song, and I don’t like the band.  Peter Cetera’s voice, to me, has the same effect as scraping a knife on a glass.  Sorry, Chicago fans.  Incidentally, by typing that paragraph, I got that darn song in my head again.  Ugh.

The past few days, however, I have had “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.  Now this band, I like.  One of my favorites in the 80’s, and I still like that particular song. Still, a weird and curious way to wake up.

I’m sure there is an explanation for this, getting songs stuck in our heads over an extended period of time, that is probably interesting on several levels and that, at this point, I don’t really care to research.  You can do that and get back to me.  For now, I’m going to call this “looping,” because it seems to fit and because this is my blog.

We have chatter going on in our heads constantly.  One of the most difficult things to do is to quiet that noise.  A lot of that noise is fairly benign, and fairly quiet.  We might notice them, but not give too much attention to them.  Fine.

From time to time, however, there are thoughts and ideas looping in our heads that aren’t so benign.  They tell us we aren’t worthy, that when we make mistakes those total the sum of our being, or other, more insidious thoughts.  What is one to do when those songs keep looping?

Tell a trusted friend.  They will speak the truth to you about who you really are.

Combat the lies with truth.  If the song that is stuck in your head says, “You’re horrible,” replace it with something like, “I am a child of God.  I am chosen and worthy.  I am a wonderful creation.”

Get help.  The song won’t stop?  Is it disrupting your life?  Get help.  If you break your leg, I would hope you would get professional help.  It’s the same with our mental health.  Sometimes we need to get help.  There is no shame in that.  See a minister, social worker, counselor—someone who is outside of your inner circle who can give you objective advice and counsel.

As for songs that get stuck in your head, think about something else.  I was listening to a podcast several months ago, when the guest was telling about a time when he spoke with Bode Miller, the US Olympic Downhill Ski champion.  When he told Miller about a song he had stuck in his head, Miller looked at him and said, “Think about something else.”  That’s a pretty good mental exercise, actually.  I did that a few minutes ago with that Chicago song, and it worked.  Mostly.

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In the early 1990’s, when I was a young teacher, I had the opportunity to be the assistant coach for a school district’s varsity debate team.  The kids I was primarily responsible for debated in the Lincoln-Douglas style, as opposed to the Policy Debate style.  It was a lot of fun seeing really smart, hard-working teenagers do hard research, write cogent speeches, and then engage in vigorous debates.

The kids were rgiven a topic or policy question, and then had to research both for and against the resolution.  Moreover, they had to be prepared at any time to effectively, passionately, and efficiently defend both sides.  In essence, they prepared to vehemently and intelligently disagree with themselves.

Disagreement within organizations can be healthy.  A lot of people in those organizations either shy away from the conflict of disagreement, or have not yet learned how to disagree in an effective and healthy manner.  Furthermore, many “bosses” still get threatened if one of their employees disagrees with them.

That’s unfortunate.  It can be effectively argued that if everyone believed the same things, or if organizations were exclusively filled with “yes people,” not a lot of real progress would be made.  There are many positives of disagreement and debate, however.

Healthy disagreement:

  • Exposes biases and assumptions.  Part of this has to do with metacognition and “meta-listening.”  Metacognition challenges us to think about our own thinking.  If we carry this further, such as during a disagreement, we can start to think about why we have come to certain conclusions.  Meta listening is the act of listening beyond the words, to get to the meanings behind them.  When we pay careful attention to our thoughts and language, and when we deeply listen to others, we are able to challenge our thinking and gain knowledge and wisdom.
  • Sharpens iron: As we engage in the act of debate or disagreement, and we articulate our views and are challenged on them, we have the opportunity to present those views in a more refined, intelligent manner.  We become more skilled the more skilled we become.
  • Clears the air: Done safely and constructively, disagreements often lead to understanding.  Rather than believing something about someone without engaging them, dialoguing and disagreeing over an issue allows both sides to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • Provides catharsis: If we have an issue that is bothering us, and we keep it to ourselves, we tend to perseverate in thinking about it. Since our minds are powerful, the longer we allow that issue to fester, the larger it becomes to us, and the more upset we become.  Have a structured conversation with someone about it provides the opportunity to put our concerns on the table and refresh our thinking.
  • Draws people together.  This might seem counter-intuitive.  However, taking an active role in listening to others, asking questions of them, and then providing our own viewpoints can be an intimate experience.  When we are able to really dial in to what people are saying, and inviting them to do the same with us, the more we expose of ourselves.

Certainly, this list is neither exhaustive nor is it complete.  It would be great to leave comments on your ideas.

*photo credit:

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Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Life, mental health, neuroscience, Uncategorized


One of our fears, perhaps the biggest fear, is if we open up, even a little bit, others will see the what’s really inside us.  They will see that we are often broken, wounded, and hurting.  Not all of the time, and certainly to various degrees, but still.  We don’t want to expose our mess.

That’s understandable.  And a bit unfortunate.  We’re all a bit of a mess.  So what.

I’m having a bit of a time writing this post.  I guess I want to be sensitive to where people are, how they are, and not to take lightly how hard life often is.  And then there are a lot of people who have real mental illnesses, with real implications.   People in your neighborhood, your workplace, your school, your home.  Yourself, maybe.

So, I’m struggling.  Because if I wasn’t so concerned about you “feeling bad” after reading this, I would write, “Just open up.  Just a little.  Just the tiniest of bit.  Make that decision that you want to let in light, to let in love, to begin healing and laughing and loving again.  Just crack the armor, just a little.  The light will find its way, it will fill you up, you’ll see the real you, the one created beautifully, wonderfully, and purposely.”

Again, if I wasn’t so concerned, to others I would say, “It’s OK.   You are much loved, and it’s OK.  For today–for today–you are doing OK.  You woke up in a safe place and ate well, you had clothes on your back and shoes on your feet.”

It’s been two weeks since I started this post. I don’t really want to write it, I don’t think.  Or finish it.  Yet, here it is.  So, here’s the challenge for us: How much are we willing to be vulnerable?  To let the light touch our dark places?  To expose ourselves to others?

Not that when others ask us, just to be courteous, how we’re doing, we will respond with the absolute truth.  Or, we could.  See what happens.  Might be interesting.


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Posted in brains, Uncategorized


OK, so I was going to have the title of this post be “Ice, Ice, Baby,” so that those of us who are of a certain age would have the song by that same title be stuck in our heads for a while.  But, since the titles of my posts are only one word, there it is.

Anyway.  I was driving on Interstate 94 Wednesday, and the road conditions were less than great.  We have had a lot of winter precipitation lately, in the forms of freezing rain and snow.  The Minnesota Department of Transportation is actually really efficient about clearing the roads, especially the major ones.  Of course, it’s not perfect, and apparently there are more snowflakes than snowplows, so the battle is long and arduous.

AND, many drivers are cautious.  Which is good.  My commute that morning was about 20 miles, and I didn’t see any vehicles in the ditches.  Which is somewhat unusual.  The Interstate wasn’t terribly full of ice and snow, so I was a bit frustrated that the top speed most of the way was 35 MPH.

My frustration certainly is more of a reflection of my impatience than it is of the other drivers.  Mostly.  Again, no vehicles in the ditches.  And, it gave me time to think.  About ice and about life.  Because that’s how my brain works.

Have you ever walked across ice in “dress” shoes?  The kind of shoes that have little to no traction on the soles?  It’s more like a cautious shuffle than a walk.  One misplaced step, and you’re off your feet and on your backside.  Funny on You Tube, not so much when a tailbone gets cracked.

My initial reaction to all of this was that I need to write a post about how people are often too cautious in life.  That we often act as though we are walking across ice, waiting to slip and fall at any moment.  I think this is accurate a lot of the time, for a lot of us.  That we are overly cautious, like those drivers were.  Like we are afraid to fall on the ice.

There is more to it than that, of course, and different angles to view.  One of those is that if we run all heater-skelter into situations, we likely will fall.  We will do so because we didn’t consider the costs, and we ran into something we didn’t fully understand.  There are times to be cautious, to test and take little steps.  To drive slowly.

Yes, I see what I did.  I was going to post this two days ago, just about the being overly cautious, and that we need to get over ourselves.  And, I didn’t.  I walked slowly across the ice, taking my time, not ending up in the ditch.

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Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Life, Martial Arts, mental health, Uncategorized


Many of the athletes I work with are at or near the elite level.  They have spent years developing their craft, so that they can be world-class.  Because of this, many of them do not need me to set their expectations.  They already do this, and are motivated towards those goals.

What these higher-level athletes often need is to release the anxiety of those expectations.  To gain a healthy balance of hard training, mental toughness, and rest and recovery.  Sometimes, they need to be dialed back a bit, because of the tremendous pressure they put on themselves.

When coaching, I make a concerted effort to not focus too much on high-level tournaments, such as the US Open, the National Taekwondo Championships, and the US Team Trials.  The athletes are perfectly aware of the stakes involved, know who their competition is, and what the difference between winning and losing is.  They don’t need reminders of this.

Remember the movie, “Hoosiers”?  Great film.  A bunch of underdog farm kids go to the state basketball tournament in Indiana, after a bit of a Cinderella season.  When they arrived at the venue, the coach had one of the players measure the height of the hoop and the distance from the foul line to the free-throw line.

What did the team discover?  The hoop is the same height wherever you play, and the court is the same dimensions.  The venue mattered less than how they performed.  Since then had been practicing consistently all season long, they just needed to do what they knew how to do.

Certainly, it’s not always easy to get our minds clear, especially when what we are about to do holds tremendous value to us.  And, we need to practice doing exactly that.  Train in a manner that allows us to perform with anyone, at any time, in any place.

As a “house divided cannot stand,” a mind divided cannot process, and a body divided cannot perform at high levels.  We need to have our thoughts focused, letting our training take over, so that our bodies can do what they need to do.

Take the professional golfer.  A four-foot putt on a critical hole in a major tournament is said to be more difficult to sink than a forty-foot putt on the same green in the same tournament.  Why?  Because the pressure of sinking that forty-foot putt is less than the four-footer.  Her being relaxed because her expectations have shifted allows her body to go through the mechanics of the proper set up, execution, and finish of the putt.

Having an inner conversation of, “Don’t miss!  Don’t miss!  Don’t hit it left!  Everyone’s watching!” is detrimental.  Replace the thoughts of how big and intimidating something  with a different dialogue.  “Easy.  Breathe.  Nice and light.”  Whatever works for you.

We are working on developing keys for the athletes to use during high-stakes events.  We are developing a fairly strict pre-performance routine, with precise things they are required to do.  We work with them to put phrases in their minds during practice, so that they are not saying things to themselves that are self-defeating .  An example of this is, “Breathe.  Relax, shoot.  I’ve done this, I know this, I’ve got this.”

We also spend some time on being still.  Being mindful.  Letting thoughts just go over us, pass by, and disappear. We are going to have thoughts in our heads, because we are created as intelligent beings.  Being nervous and “amped up” intensifies and complicates our inner dialogues.  Sometimes, fighting against these thoughts causes us to pay more attention to them.  So, we can acknowledge the thought, let it go over us, and then let it go.

The biggest takeaway from this is that there are times when we just need let stuff go, so that we make room for “good things” to happen.  To release, to shift focus and expectations.  Look for posts in the future about how to actively shift and release!


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Posted in brains, Martial Arts, mental health, st. michael-albertville, Uncategorized, world taekwondo academy


I don’t enjoy a lot of TV programs.  I want to, and there seem to be a lot of shows that many people enjoy.  I have done searches on the Internet for “Best New TV shows” or “Best Shows of 2016,” and watched a few of the top-rated ones.  Yeah, they mostly suck.

I recently finished re-watching “The West Wing” and “Justified.”  I was a bit sad when I completed the full seasons, because I know how I am, and I know what I like, and it’s not what’s on right now.  I actually don’t much care, because getting involved in TV takes a lot of time, or more than I am willing to invest.  Plus, I get tired and fall asleep.

Recently, I started to watch “The Selection.”  It’s a “reality” show about a group of civilians who go through special forces-ish training.  There’s apparently no monetary prize for completing the program.  In one of the episodes, the participants were challenged to do 1000 sit-ups with one of the instructors.  I know, right?

They did it, though.  1000 darn sit-ups.  Most of them completed it without stopping.  It took a while, I guess.  Thankfully, the producers didn’t show them doing every single one, because, well…boring.

It got me thinking, though.  If they can do it, so can my team.  So, I was all set Monday night to have my team do 1000 sit ups and 1000 push ups.  But, being that it’s winter, and Minnesota, and stupid outside right now, we had weather.  The roads were treacherous and icy.  So, no practice.

But.  I had classes the next few days.  So, I told my classes–kids and adults–that we would be doing 1000 sit ups and 1000 push ups.  Having spent significant time with my students, I know what they are capable of.  Most of them are capable of doing upwards of 50-100 without stopping.  We’ve done that before.

Some of the students got frustrated after doing 15 or 20.  There was moaning and groaning, frustrated sighs, and half-hearted effort.  Some of the other students just shut their mouths and got busy.  It was hard to tell if they were in pain, if they were enjoying it, or what exactly was going on.  They just did it.

We had a discussion after classes.  I asked why so many complained, or quit.  “We can’t do 1000 push ups and sit ups, Sir!”  “Huh.  How do you know?  Have you ever tried it before?  No.  So how do you know?”

Could most of them do all 1000 of both?  Probably not.  I couldn’t (I know, because I tried.  Got close on the sit ups.  Didn’t break 150 on the push ups without stopping). But why not try anyway?  Nobody broke the 4-minute mile before it was broken.  Then it was easy.  Kids do that in high school.

Our limitations are often set by our fears and failures.  We think, “There’s no way.  There’s just no way.”  So we quit before we ever get going.  We let the momentum of the past disrupt and define the trajectory of our futures.  It’s time we develop the habit of try and do.

1000 push ups?  1000 sit ups?  Not today.  But soon.  Very soon.

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Posted in Fitness, Life, mental health, neuroscience, st. michael-albertville, Uncategorized, world taekwondo academy


There have been quite a few social media posts about 2016, and how bad of a year it was.  Phrases such as, “2016! Worst year ever!”  and “2016!  Be done already!” pretty popular right now.

Part of me gets it.  A lot has happened between November and today that is helping to shape our memories of 2016.

And, the sun still rises and sets on all of us, whether we like it or not.  So, part of me really wants to say, “Yep.  A lot of crappy things happened in 2016.  They did in 2015, 2014, and on down the years.  Get over it.”  And, I know it’s not that simple.

It’s winter now.  Time for much of creation to go to sleep.  To rest up.  To take some time and go a bit into ourselves, reflect on what has transpired these past several months.  It’s winter, and it’s cold and dark and sometimes discouraging, and it’s  time to get ready.

There’s work to be done.  Spring is on its way, and there is work to be done.  By you.  There are lives to touch, relationships to build, causes to support.  There is a world hungry for real people to activate real change.  And it’s on you.

Worst year ever?  No idea.  Not even sure what the metric for that would be.  I know that today my life is pretty good.  I have a family who loves me, a God who is good, and a purpose for getting up every day.




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Posted in Business, Coaching, Life, Martial Arts, mental health, Uncategorized, world taekwondo academy
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Resistance band training! Ms Lily and Mr Daniel showing some foam roll drills they learned from Master Wissbroecker.  Great leaders! #team Thank you, Ms Hommer!  It's a pen!  And, it lights up!  Whoo-Hoo! Took a couple hours to read Peak Poomsae's training reflections.  A lot of good feedback from them, and I'm impressed (and not surprised) how articulate they are regarding their training needs and performance. 
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