Cooking, cleaning and compliments

Thanksgiving is a time in my memory that takes me back to the days of splendidly set tables, endless rows of holiday delights and friends and family gathered with their heads bowed thanking God for his blessings upon our homes.

I can still smell the turkey turning a golden brown, the sage that flavored the cornbread dressing baked from scratch, or the tempting urge to run my fingers through the icing of that double layered coconut cake. Read more

Upon the shoulders of greatness

I have spent some of my most recent months asking my distant relatives for help in honoring our ancestors through the restoration or placement of tombstones of generations past.
It is a small act that we can share to recognize decades of work, tears, blood, and hopes and dreams given by those who preceded our existence. In many cases, we can divide it up at $10 to $20 each to make the costs light upon us all. The price of a meal can sometimes set in stone the gift of life that we were shared by a previous generation. Stones do not have to be fancy, just a simple marker with names and dates.
While some of our family lines were well to do and had the means to mark their passing, in many cases, they scraped out a meager existence on a farm and often found themselves at times of death without the means to buy a store-bought stone. So, a rock or wooden cross was used to mark the grave.
Sometimes their remains were buried in church graveyard, community cemeteries, family cemeteries or simply in the soil where they poured their adult life and strength. I can think of one of my great, great grandparents buried on their farm, which I am told, now rest underneath a building. I never knew just where they were buried and sadly no one alive really would at this point.
No matter where their earthly remains are, their plots still need care, though often its been generations since their names crossed anyone’s lips. There are church, private and public cemetery committees struggling each year to pay thousands to mow and weed eat cemeteries. Have you donated to those? The cemetery for your parents, grandparents or even ancestors further back.
Right now, I am working on restoration or tombstone projects on my great, great grandparents both of my paternal grandmother and grandfather. I hoped to do these since I was a youth beginning to build my genealogy. I am closing in on raising the funds and hope to have these complete soon.
Sadly, in one case, the passage of time has lost the official cemetery plots, so the stone with the direction of the cemetery committee will be in the section of the cemetery where many of our family and their contemporaries were interred. Had it been done when I was little, there were still family members who could physically point to their plots, but they are lost to time.
Our family is blessed that some of our ancestors resting places are cared for by state or national park staff in some areas of the country where our folks were uniquely intertwined with America’s regional or national history.
The key thought I want to share is think of how you want to be remembered? You are working to make a difference oftentimes for your children and grandchildren. Your parents and grandparents did the same as theirs did before them. Each generation has hopes and dreams for those that follow. We stand on the shoulders of generations of men and women who through the centuries contributed to us being here. Learning their names, visiting their graves or places they were in life helps us connect with the lifeforce they passed to us. When we find their past presence is disappearing, we should join with other descendants and help to see it remains.

Take off the gloves and put on the mitts

The election season is finally over once again, barring any post-count legal maneuverings by either side.
It is now time for all candidates on every tier of government to take off the boxing gloves, shake hands and come out fighting for the American people rather than against each other.
I have often wondered what miracles could be accomplished if candidates took those millions they use to travel around the country via bus and plane, creating a presence on television, radio, newspaper and Internet while smiling, waving, shaking hands and kissing babies, to accomplish something needed in our country like improving some roads and bridges.
Of course, this is a dream that will never be realized. In the early days of our country, people were simply elected on the merit of what was written about them in newspapers and through word of mouth.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most Americans to even get to see a candidate let alone a president.
We had candidates such as Washington, Jefferson, Adams and countless others who traveled as far as the horse and buggy or ship or boat might carry them.
When trains came along, candidates would stump largely only where the rails could carry them. The classic speech from the rear of a caboose is a wonderful early political image.
Today, however, candidates are in our face almost every minute trying to get our attention to get behind their agenda.
It is safe to say that more money has probably been spent in some races than ever before. What could be done with that? What if it was put in Social Security? What if it was used to help our military families? Instead, it pads the coffers of every advertising concern on earth. At least that helps to pay the salaries of folks like me, who pound away on the computer to try to shed light on the news and encourage with uplifting words. I guess that is one benefit that I do appreciate.
Now that it is all over and the gloves are off, candidates could instead put on their mitts. Let’s have all the candidates — winners and losers — form baseball teams and gather in the largest stadium in the country and face off one final time for the enjoyment of the people. It could be shown on pay-per-view, and the money raised from the event could go toward helping pay down the national debt.
That would at least be more entertaining than the last many months have been.
This would be a tremendous way for candidates to help relieve the tension placed on families across the country.
If baseball isn’t the answer, they could don oven mitts and the competition could be a bake-off. With the popularity of the Food Network these days, I bet even that would work. Maybe they could all volunteer to serve us our as our cooks for Thanksgiving.
Then after the games are over, hopefully, they can all shakes hands, and the winners and losers can work together to make our country a better place to live.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful.

A little Goober each day is a must

As we watch television classics, there are many character actors that have made their marks and found niches that have allowed them to keep in front of the American public for years and years.

One of those actors was introduced to the American television family in the 1960s.

Initially, like so many actors – George Lindsey rode onto the screen playing a bad sort opposite the heroes of the little screen westerns on shows like “Gunsmoke” with James Arness, Ken Curtis and the rest of the gang. He returned to that series in six seasons playing various roles. I remember watching him as a colorful mountain trapper with a mean streak a mile long on that show.

He also appeared on “The Rifleman” with Chuck Connors.

He came to the big screen in the film “Ensign Pulver” as “Lindstrom” in the film starring Burl Ives, Walter Matthau and Robert Walker, Jr. My friend Larry Hagman was also part of that cast.

When reviewing the Alabamian’s career, it seems it took off about 1964. Of course, that is the year that he took on the role that would make him a household name – as “Goober Pyle” on “The Andy Griffith Show”

That role endeared him to tens of millions of Americans and fans around the world.

He portrayed it there through the end of “Mayberry R.F.D.” in 1971, and also made an appearance on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” After the networks cut down and show with a tree in it in the early 1970s, George took “Goober” to the rows of Kornfield County as part of the cast “Hee Haw” where he remained for more than twenty years. He even did a show in the late 1970s called “Goober and the Trucker’s Paradise.”

Despite the fact that America knew him as “Goober,” George continued special appearances on numerous shows appearing in a variety of roles from “Love, American Style,” “Fantasy Island,” “ChiPS,” Claude Akins’ “Movin’ On’” and Alan Alda’s “M*A*S*H.”

His role as “Captain Roy Dupree” on “M*A*S*H” still stands out in my memory. His depiction was larger than life and he stood out among that mega cast of characters.

He added his voice to many animated characters beginning with his work in “Aristocats” in 1970 to “Starszinger” series most recently in 2011.

I had only one opportunity to see George in passing in my TV and country music career, but his talents have entertained me throughout my lifetime. I know that he has given tirelessly to help others with the notoriety his career garnered.

He has given us so much comfort and healing of our hearts by lifting our spirits, our hopes and even our desires to do more for our fellow man. I know he would want me to tell you “Goober says ‘hey’” and I am sure glad that he did.

The choices we make touch other lives

In life we are constantly faced with choices. We are blessed or cursed with the gift of free will, depending on your perspective.

From the smallest detail of “Do you want fries with that?” to “Do you take this woman to be your wife?” in America, we have endless choices.

People can choose to work hard and by doing so achieve great success and accumulate wealth. Some choose to dedicate their energies to benefiting humanity.

Each choice we make sets us upon a path. Even the simplest thing like having one extra cup of coffee in the morning could change your schedule enough to prevent you from being involved in an auto accident.

As I look back on my choices, there are some I would like to change in spite of the fact I do not know what path changing them would have brought. Nevertheless, I cannot change them; I only have the power over what lies ahead, not behind. I can only try to learn from those past choices.

Using my television exposure as a podium, I have spent much of my life speaking to youth about living a successful drug-free life. My work yielded the attention of the National Drug Abuse Resistance Education Officer’s Association. Consequently, they made me an honorary D.A.R.E. officer. I have encouraged thousands across the country to make the choice not to use drugs. I do not know if any made that choice. I can only hope that at least one did.

No matter how you try to influence others, the ultimate choice lies with them. With that choice also lies consequences. When you make a choice that effects you, your family or even others you do not know, it is up to you to take responsibility for what that choice brings.

Many times people try to shift the blame if things are not going as they planned. I think we pick up this behavior as a child. It is the old “He did it” approach to avoid punishment. I do not know about you but that never worked for me. It only made the punishment worse.

Last week I attended a teen/parent forum at the Colonnade that included a discussion from both parents and teens on the issue of parents making choices for their children that affect other children. Choices such as providing alcohol for teen parties or even adults turning a blind eye to drug use by not being vigilant supervisors, as they should.

Some parents may say “I’d rather have them doing it where I can keep an eye on them,” but when other children are involved I imagine their parents might like to have a say and an eye involved in the situation as well. At least that is what the parents at the forum said.

Each choice we make, in some way, affects someone else — sometimes people we do not even know, such as that driver who might be injured by a teenage drunk driver coming from a supervised party where alcohol was served.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not focusing on these parents exclusively. The teenagers admit that even if parents are not providing, some of them will find a way to get alcohol themselves from older siblings, buying it themselves at establishments which do not card them or by sneaking it from a parent when they are not watching.

Unfortunately, these teenage actions expand to various types of drugs, including prescription pills out of medicine cabinets as well.

No matter what choice you make, they are your choices. You ultimately have to live with what results from them. So if you are making a life-changing choice, become informed about what may happen depending on which path your choice leads you.

Even if it turns out to be the wrong choice, at least you did not go down that path with blinders on.

Living in a Coffee World and Beau Weevils

It’s always a pleasure to see old friends succeed in their efforts.

One of my favorite comedians is Tim Lovelace and I have had the honor to share the stage and make thousands laugh.

He is having an amazing run with his project Living in a Coffee World. It has consistently stayed in the top 10 on Billboard’s chart for comedy albums, is currently sitting at number seven and shows no sign of slowing down.

“Tim makes the extra effort to ensure his comedy is appropriate for all ages,” said Nate Goble, StowTown Records producer and co-owner. “To be consistently in the Top 10 Billboard Comedy Album chart among such comedic greats as Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan is fantastic. We are proud of Living in a Coffee World.”

Tim said he was excited about the success.

“I appreciate the team behind this Billboard Top 10 longevity; StowTown Records owners Wayne Haun, Ernie Haase, Landon Beene and Nate Goble, along with their incredible staff and the staff at Sony/Provident, have made this an incredible journey,” he said. “I have enjoyed taking the Coffee World Tour around the country this past year, and am hooking up my caffeine IV drip so that I can extend the tour into 2019.”

Living in a Coffee World is distributed exclusively by Sony/Provident and is available at retail and digital outlets worldwide. To learn more visit,

I was privileged to attend the National Quartet Convention at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. It was an amazing opportunity to visit with the top talents of Southern Gospel music while catching many of them perform on stage.

The Southern Gospel Music Association inducted its 2018 class of Hall of Fame members at the event. They included Ann Downing, the late Tracy Stuffle of the Perrys, Mark Trammell, and the late Norman Wilson of the Primitive Quartet.  To learn more, visit

Another old friend – Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Daniels is aiming for his latest studio album, Beau Weevils – Songs in the Key of E, set for release on Friday, October 26.

The new ten-track album features lead vocals, guitar and fiddle by Daniels, James Stroud on drums and percussion, Billy Crain on guitar, and Charlie Hayward on bass.

Beau Weevils – Songs in the Key of E is the culmination of a long held desire of James Stroud and myself to do a project together,” says Daniels. “We had worked together, with James in the capacity of producer, which had resulted in some of our most successful albums for The Charlie Daniels Band, but James is one of the finest and most soulful drummers in the business and I figured we could get together, musician to musician, and come up with something special. We just needed a vehicle in the form of songs that would fit the bill.”

Pre-sale album orders are available now at

Cousin Will and the telephone

One of my readers wrote in and asked for a bit of humor, so I decided to share these comedy routines below.

Remember all they asked for was a bit!

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Bluegrass music comes together to honor its best

The International Bluegrass Music Association hosted its annual week-long celebration of the genre in Raleigh recently.
Thousands poured into the city’s clubs, venues and hotels to see countless concerts by established artists such as David Davis and the Warrior River Boys of Alabama, hopefuls such as the Baker Family of Missouri, and Rebekah Long of Nashville, who desire to expand their career success into national and international strides.

I visited with Davis in his band’s booth (
“It’s been an amazing week,” Davis said, who is riding high on the success of his latest Rounder release “Didn’t He Ramble : Songs of Charlie Poole.” “We have met with fans, event promoters, disc jockeys and all types of media folks. It’s like a musical family reunion with old friends and new ones.”

I ran across Trustin Baker, the 2018 Grand Master Fiddler Champion, in the hallway of the Marriott. He had traveled from Missouri to perform with his family (  He actually joined in a jam session playing a tune with my fiddle.
Rebekah Long told me she was having a great time at the event appearing on numerous showcases with her band with her producer Donna Ulisse in tow. Long’s recent CDs include “Run Away” and “Here I Am” (
Awards were handed out highlighting the greatest successes of the past year. Some of the winners include: Balsam Range as  entertainer of the year; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver as vocal group; The Travelin’ McCourys as instrumental group; Buddy Melton as male vocalist; Brooke Aldridge as female vocalist; Sierra Hull as mandolin player; Molly Tuttle as guitar player; Michael Cleveland as fiddle player; The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys as emerging artist; Becky Buller brought home gospel recorded performance with “Speakin’ to That Mountain;” “Swept Away” with Missy Raines, Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Hull and Tuttle won recorded event.

Hall of Fame inductees included Ricky Skaggs, Paul Williams and Tom T. and Dixie Hall.
I applaud these additions to the hall. All have contributed amazingly to the genre!

I was privileged to return to direct a portion of the awards welcoming multi-Grammy winner Jerry Douglas to host the Distinguished Achievement Awards and several special awards. The IBMA’s second highest honor went to Curtis McPeake, Walter Saunders, Chris Thile, Christopher Howard-Williams, and George Gruhn. My old friend Jerry Salley was awarded as bluegrass songwriter of the year.

Learn more about the music and the organization at

A sweeping success

Performing on the road has its great moments and even a few that are less great. Needless to say there are often things to laugh at along the way.

One of my devoted readers said that I have been too serious of late and needed to spread some cheer so here is one of my favorite experiences along the way. Maybe it will bring you a smile.

I was introduced to a large hall of about 1,000 folks gathered to see our show. We were in the midst of singing “Little Girl of Mine in Tennessee” when a older feller about six foot tall in tattered blue coveralls and carrying a broom sweeps his way across the stage in front of the band, facing the band, all the time paying no mind to the crowd behind him or the band in front of him.

His slightly slumped appearance, along with his total disregard for his surroundings and his intense concentration on his task, began to draw some scattered giggles from the audience.

I imagined many were wondering what I or he would do next.
As I realized he was not just passing through but had decided to set up housekeeping in front of us, I stopped the tune and said, “Excuse me, were trying to do a show here,” and the feller replied “A show?”

He turned slowly towards the audience and waved as he smiled from ear to ear, saying “Hello, hello,” not hardly missing anyone as he greeted the crowd.

“Do you mind, these people paid a lot of money to see our show,” I said.
He walked over to me at the mike and looked out in the audience.
“These people paid money to see you?” he asked.
“Yes, they did,” I said.
“Miracles never cease,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said, before realizing what had passed. “Heyyyy.”
“I use to play in a band, a big band. We worked all over New York, Chicago,” he said.
“Really what did you call your band?” I asked.
“The broom boys,” he replied.
“The broom boys,” I said
“Yeah, we really cleaned up,” he said.
“Did you sing with that group?” I asked. He said, “Yes.”
“Would you like to sing with us?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve got so every time I sing I cry,” he said.
“Then why do you sing?” I asked.
“So I can cry,” he said.
“Why do you cry?” I asked.
“Cause I can’t sing,” he said.
“Do you think I could join your band?” he asked.
“Well I don’t know. All these boys had to go through an interview,” I said.
“I can do that,” he said.
I agreed and started by asking, “What’s your name?”
“I was named after my Ma and Pa,” he said.
“Alright, what was their name?” I said.
“Pa was Ferdinand and Ma was Liza,” he said.
“So, what did they name you?” I asked.
“Ferdiliza,” he said.
“Where were you born?” I asked.
“Kentucky,” he replied.
“What part?” I asked.
“All of me. You didn’t think I came in pieces did you?” he said.
“Why did you leave Kentucky?” I asked.
“Couldn’t bring it with me,” he said.
“Where do you live now?” I asked.
“I live with a friend,” he said.
“Where does you friend live,” I asked.
“He lives with me,” he said.
“Where do you both live?” I asked.
“We live together,” he said.
“Where were your forefathers born?” I asked.
“My what?” he asked.
“Your forefathers. Where were they born?” I asked.
“I ain’t got but one father,” he said.
“Everybody has forefathers,” I said. “Mine came from Scotland, Germany and England.”
“Well if I got four fathers, three of them ain’t never been home,” he said.
“So do I get the job?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t know let me think on it,” I told him.
“OK, but don’t hurt yourself,” he replied.
“Hey, that’s no way to talk to someone if you want a job,” I said.
“Your right, I better get back to work,” he said.
I stopped him and asked one more question.
“When you say things like that, doesn’t a still small voice tell you you’re doing something wrong?”
“No, its usually a big loud voice. Have you met my wife?” he said.
“In the future I hope you are more careful about where you try to clean up,” I told him.
“Oh, I will be next time. I’ll bring a bigger broom,” he commented as he glided off stage.

Comedy has always been a key part of performing in live shows: the antics of clowns in circuses; the banter and quips of comics in medicine shows and vaudeville; to the jokes we hear offered in sitcoms today. Country comedians are a special breed; I am honored to in my life played both the comedian and the straight man roles of the comedy team with many funny people. There is nothing funnier than two people working off each other’s comedic timing in front of an audience. I put together this comedy routine originally for the talented comedic actor Sonny Shroyer. I hope that a couple of the lines brought you a smile. © 1992 Peach Picked Publishing. Used by permission.

Grand Master Fiddler Championship crowns 2018 master

I have been honored for many years to serve as the celebrity host of the Grand Master Fiddle Championship, now held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
I have watched had the honor of watching a new generation of fiddlers come of age as I have watched from the wings or the podium. One such young fiddle from Birch Tree, Mo. has competed for several years, each year becoming a little better. Three times he came in second to other fiddlers but this year he advanced taking the top position becoming the Grand Master Fiddler. His name is Trustin Baker. Trustin took home $1,200 in cash, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of D’Addario, a Grand Master Fiddler plaque, and will appear on the Grand Ole Opry in 2019. He also won the Charlie Bush Traditional Fiddler Performance Award presented in honor of late director Charlie Bush.

Grand Master Fiddler Champion Trustin Baker (second from left) of Birch Tree, Mo. of receives his award, from left, GMFC Director Ed Carnes, GMFC Host Keith Bilbrey, GMFC Host Randall Franks, and GMFC Director Howard Harris. (GMFC Photo: Michelle Mize)

“I can’t hardly believe it,” Baker told me after receiving the title. “It’s been a contest I have wanted to win ever since I started playing the fiddle.”
Among his winning tunes in this competition were “Grey Eagle,” “Gardenia Waltz” and “Black and White Rag.”
“I think maybe I am becoming more consistent with my playing,” he said. “I am looking forward to playing the Grand Ole Opry.”
The two-day 47th annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship is the nation’s premier championship event held on Sept. 1 and 2, 2018.
I am honored to walk in the footsteps of former celebrity hosts Porter Wagoner and Roy Acuff continuing the tradition of the Grand Ole Opry’s fiddle event now coordinated by the founder’s son Howard Harris and fiddler Ed Carnes and a non-profit board.
“It seems with every passing year we surpass the previous one with the level of talented fiddlers who participate and the amazing enthusiasts who fill the seats,” said Howard Harris, GMFC President. “Fiddlers came from coast to coast to add to the legacy of fiddling at our event. The amazing skills shown brought hours of applause and cheers from the audience and yielded some tough decisions for our judges.”
The Grand Master Fiddler Championship, Inc. is a Tennessee non-profit and a U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, formed to educate about and perpetuate fiddling as an art form and cultural treasure.
Fiddlers competed for over $15,000 in prizes.
In honor of its founder, the organization presented the Dr. Perry F. Harris Award to Dr. Robert “Roby” Cogswell, retired Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program Director and guitarist.
WSM All Nighter’s Marcia Campbell and Keith Bilbrey of “Larry’s Country Diner” and “Huckabee” joined me in co-hosting the event.
The other top winners included in descending order: Ridge Roberts of Granbury, Texas; Andrew Lin of Lexington, Ky.; Billy Contreras of Nashville. Tenn.; Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tenn.; Matthew Lin of Lexington, Ky.; Wes Westmoreland of Temple, Texas; Joel Whittinghill of Bowling Green, Ky.; Mari Black of Cambridge, Mass.; Karissa Nugent of Fort Worth, Texas; Mark Ralph of Whitesville, Ky.; Kerry Varble of Salem, Ohio; Benjamin Lin of Lexington, Ky.; Bill Jones of Covington, Ga.; Jason Andrew of Whitewright, Texas; Noemi Turner of Otis Orchards, Wash.; Cody Stadelmaier of Fort Collins, Colo.; Blakeley Burger of Louisville, Ky.; and Josiah Colle of Batesville, Ark.
The Grand Master Traditional Champion is Tyler Andal of Nashville, Tenn. who won $300, a $500 gift certificate

Tyler Andal won the Grand Master Traditional Fiddler Championship at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Sept. 1. From left, GMFC Celebrity Host Randall Franks, GMFC Director Ed Carnes, Andal, and GMFC Director Howard Harris. (GMFC photo)

courtesy of D’Addario, a Grand Master Fiddler plaque.
Andal, who has been playing 18 years, said it is one of his favorite competitions and divisions. He said the most impactful tune that he presented was “Lost Child.”
“It’s really exciting to me to get to play with people that know what is going on,” he said.
“It’s a lot of fun to do it with friends like Mr. Rob Pearcy that back you up in the competition and make some groovy dance music.”
Other winners in descending order are Giri Peters of Nashville, Tenn.; Tessa Dillon of St. Albans, W.V.; Clelia Stefanini of Nashville, Tenn.; Henry Barnes of Washington Court House, Ohio; Andrew Magill of Asheville, N.C.; and Hillary Klug of Shelbyville, Tenn.
The Grand Master Youth Champion is Leah Bowen of Sparks, Nev.
She won $300, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of D’Addario, and a Grand Master Fiddler plaque. She has been playing for four years. Her winning tunes included the Tennessee Wagoner and Rose of Avenmore Waltz and Black and White Rag.
“It’s not really about the winning,” she said. “Winning is great, but it’s about being with the people and the guitarists.:

GMFC Directors Ed Carnes (left) and Howard Harris (right) presents Grand Master Youth Champion Leah Bowen of Sparks, Nev. (Photo: Randall Franks)

Other winners in descending order are Miles Quale of Alameda, Calif.; Emilie Miller of Otis Orchards, Wash.; David Lin of Lexington, Ky. Teo Quale of Alameda, Calif., Jane Eby of Whitehouse, Ohio; Kate Ward of Kuttawa, Ky., Devon Waite of Goodlettsville, Tenn.; Christiana Nugent of Fort Worth, Texas; and Nathan Pedneault of Fort Worth, Texas.
Winning guitar accompanists are Drew Miller of Otis Orchards, Wash., Rob Pearcy of Smyrna, Tenn.; Jonathan Trawick of Portland, Ore.; Elijah Baker of Birch Tree, Mo.; Jim Reina of Conroe, Texas; and Todd Varble of Salem, Ohio. Miller who took first, won $200 and a certificate.
As a fiddler since the age of eight, whose instrument has taken me places I could never imagine the music it played would open doors from coast to coast, from backstages to board rooms allowing me to become known around the world. It is exciting for me to see their youthful dreams coming to fruition and watch the dream grow even bigger for their futures. I am honored to be watching  these talents from the wings!
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