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Rate the IL Hotel!–Durham edition

It’s time once again for America’s fastest growing sensation, the game which never is disturbed when the sign’s on the door……


RATE THE IL HOTEL!


And here’s your host of Rate the IL Hotel….Jason Benetti!


Well, thank you Charlie, and it’s good to be back with all of our viewers.  We’d especially like to say hello to our departing sponsor, the folks at Tyler’s Tap Room in Durham.  They were a positive influence on the program for at least one day, but now will be withdrawing because of a lack of funding.  Their air conditioning is out and all of the cash in the till is going toward a new unit.  Thanks, Tyler’s, for your partnership, your 90-degree restaurant and, most of all, your garlic fries. 


On to the game and today’s competitor……


The Durham Marriott!


Situated on beautiful Foster Street, the Durham Marriott has housed the Chiefs and other IL riff-raff in my two years along for the ride.  I’ll list the pluses and minuses of the hotel and, as always, assign an arbitrary score between 0 and 50 issued by our panel of judge.


Positives:


  1. 1) Location.  The Marriott is about a three-block walk from Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP).  Near the park, you’ll find a cavalcade of restaurants which serve dishes ranging from pizza, Cuban food and standard sports bar fare.  And, just in case you forgot which state you’d been traveling in, these restaurants are located inside something called the American Tobacco Historic District.   It is labeled such a name because the restaurants and shops are all operating out of former tobacco warehouses.  A journey to the website of ye olde historic district generates some sad news.  Seems as though the annual duck race inside the historic district was scrubbed this year.   Had there been a 2010 event, you might have purchased a corporate armada for a cool thousand dollars.  http://www.americantobaccohistoricdistrict.com/news/ducks.asp
  2. 2) Posh rooms.  The motif is summerish with oranges and golds ruling the décor day.  I almost feel as though I’m living inside a lava lamp.  That would be a neat existence–except for the whole scorched-by-molten-liquid thing.
  3. 3) Needless amenities.   There’s a hairdryer in my closet.  Were they expecting Betty Rizzo?

Negatives:


  1. 1) Internet.  An old story with a new twist.  I arrived at the hotel around 10:30 PM on Thursday night after watching the Bulls douse the Clippers.  I entered my sixth-floor room and opened my computer to find a wireless single which was less than desirable.  By that, I mean dial-up quickness.  So, I called the front desk–as I am prone to do–to ask about fixing the signal.  The woman indicated that there had been no noted problems on the floor.  She then gave me a phone number for the technicians who service the internet.  Despite my lack of interest in speaking to them, I rang the techs.  **Aside:  If the hotel advertises free wireless and the wireless does not work, the customer should not be the one responsible for the service call**

After waiting idly for five minutes, I realized that the problem may not be a broken router, but my location.  So, I grabbed my computer, walked onto the elevator and popped off at floor two.  I promptly fired up my laptop and found the signal to be speedy.  So, I called the front desk and asked for a change of venue.  It is clear that the Durham Marriott, eight floors tall, has too few wireless routers.  Let’s pass the hat.

  1. 2) Missing pieces.  Last summer, the hotel had a huge jug of lemon-infused water sitting on an oval table just off the elevator bank.  That jug no longer exists.  I may be a snob, but the hotel loses points for this refreshing giveth and taketh routine.
  2. 3) TV shortage.  While I applaud the purchase of flatscreen TVs, I was aghast at the channel selection.  Specifically, the lack of Nickelodeon and TV Land.  I grew up with old timey television.  I enjoy watching Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke while going to bed.  Sadly, now, the channels I mentioned no longer play those shows.  Believing that the suits might revert back to their old format and that Murray Slaughter or Rob Petrie will appear, though, I go to bed watching Nickelodeon and TV Land.  I was unable to keep hope alive.  This saddens me tremendously.

Final score:  39   

Tune in next time for the Norfolk edition…..coming soon to a blog near you…..

Chiefs and Bulls tonight at 7:05.  Back home tomorrow for Scott Olsen and Jason Marquis back-to-back rehab assignments.

Follow us on Twitter @ChiefsRadio.  I demand that you do so.


Rate the IL Hotel!–Buffalo edition

It’s time now for the game show which replaces your shampoo every time you read:

Rate the IL Hotel!

Here’s your host….Jason Benetti!!!!

Thanks Alan Kalter….appreciate you all tuning in for the program.  I have bad news…..we are not one of the top 30 most recognizable things with an exclamation mark according to this sporcle quiz:

http://www.sporcle.com/games/PumpkinBomb/ipouredmyheartandsoulintothisquiz

Dear Mr. PumpkinBomb,

We are not less popular than “Anvil!  The story of Anvil”.  Any band named “Anvil” which has minted records called “Forged in Fire” and “Strength of Steel” does not deserve a documentary.  We feel we should be included in your sporcle quiz.  Please see the attached petition signatures (listed as “comments”).

Sincerely,

RtILH!

We encourage our readers to comment on this post in order to force our inclusion in the succeeding punctuation-driven quiz.

Despite such discouraging exclusion, we press on with this week’s contestant:

The Adam’s Mark Buffalo!

Nestled on Church Street in resplendent waterfront Buffalo, the Adam’s Mark has been the home of the traveling Chiefs for years.  

As a reminder, here’s how we play.  I will list the pros and cons of the hotel, then arbitrarily assign a final total between 0 and 50 to the hotel.

Convention of the week:

Thumbnail image for CAHC.jpg

Nothing gets you rousted out of bed and downstairs at eight like the thought of swapping binder stories.  COLAD.

Pros:

1) Breakfast bonanza.  For $12.50, you get:

Fruit salad, bacon, sausage, eggs, cereal, an omelet, pancakes, french toast, waffles, coffee and juice.

It’s open until 11.  Go.  Enjoy.  Tasty.  See, it’s so good that it’s turned me into a blithering one-word-sentence imbecile.

2) Novelty.  You ever read the Agatha Christie novel “And Then There Were None”?  A group of people goes to an island and, chapter-by-chapter, they bite the dust–each in a novel way.  The Adam’s Mark chain previously was comprised of 30 branches.  Now, there is one.  In Buffalo.  Here’s an incomprehensive glance at the fates of the other Adam’s Marks:

Philadelphia:  Torn down.  Photos here  

Kansas City:  Became a Clarion, then a Sheraton, now a Holiday Inn.  Pick one.

Charlotte:  Now The Blake Hotel.

Indianapolis:  The last one to go…..transformed into a Wyndham.

Adam’s Mark, sadly, seems to be rather similar to Rich Kotite’s mark on the NFL.

3) Proximity to park.  The hotel is about a ten minute walk to the ballpark.  Not bad at all–especially when it’s nice out.

Cons:

1) Thin walls.  We must have been in the section blocked off for the Julliard students.  Across the hall and to the right was a person strumming Spanish guitar tunes for the balance of an evening.  Then, on day three, a woman next to ol’ Andres Segovia warbled scales for at least 45 consecutive minutes.  Don’t travel if you need to do things like that.  Or, alternatively, stay with someone who can tolerate you.  

2) Bath soap.  The in-room bathroom’s amenities included “Green Tea-Willow Bath Soap.”  Conveniently, those two items–when combined–must interact in a way that allow them to make us spotless.  I don’t know about you, but I imagine dousing myself with green tea would make me sticky, not morning-fresh.  In addition, covering my person in willow leaves would make me prickly and odd, not clean.

This got me thinking.  What if other drink-tree combinations, unknowingly to us, could generate germ-killing properties.  Like:

Yoohoo-Redwood (A powerful, chocolatey aroma fills the air….)

Five Alive-Spruce (Citrus and evergreen conspire to provide a rejuvenatingly wondrous sense of self….)

Capri Sun-Birch (With a tiny hole for a straw, just in case….)

The possibilities are endless.

3) Parking/elevators.  Just off the main circle of the hotel sits a parking booth and a black-and-yellow arm.  They each guard the indoor-outdoor parking lot at the Adam’s Mark Buffalo. This lot is both for hotel guests and regular citizens.  The non-guests, though, must pay to park. 

With the status of “guest” comes the ability to take one’s car in and out.  I was ignorant to the fact, though, that this privilege must be granted.  Through the first two nights of our stay, the gate was up and access was free to everyone.  On day three, though, a man in a blue polo shirt inhabited the parking booth.  He asked us if we had a “red card.”  Because neither me nor Mike had recently executed an illegal slide tackle, we did not.  We, evidently, were supposed to have received a parking pass from the front desk.  Alternatively, we showed the man a room key which–barely–was enough to get us through.  Unnecessarily, the man mimed the swipe of the card we’d act out later at a nearby machine.  That machine already contained a drawing of the card going into the slot.  I fully expect that this man will be waving at cars bypassing “no left turn” signs next time we’re in Buffalo.

In other Adam’s Mark transportation news, the four elevators at the hotel are creakier than the floorboards at the haunted mansion.  In addition, they all seem to constantly be at the top floor.  They are not as slow, though, as some people believe.

On our last day, we came upon a couple waiting for an eighth-floor elevator.  As we approached, the woman said to the man, “These things take forever.”  Wanting to help the damsel in distress, I pushed the down button.  Elevators, contrary to popular belief, are not psychic.  Psychic Elevators, however, is still up for grabs as a really rockin’ band name.

Final total:  38.  Good rooms, great breakfast.  Would have been a 40 had we not forgotten our room keys one night, asked for new ones at the front desk and been given the keys without an ID check.  Nobody feels safe when dealing with a Dennis Green hotel clerk (They are who we thought they were).

Thanks for playing, Adam’s Mark.  Hope you never make it on this list.

Game time is 7:05 tonight.  Airtime is 6:30 on AM 620 locally or online at www.sportsradio620.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @ChiefsRadio.
Hope to have you along.
Jason

Rate the IL Hotel!–SWB edition

Live from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, it’s time once again for Rate the IL Hotel!


Here’s your host of Rate the IL Hotel!…..the only guest who demands a room on the 13th floor….Jason Benetti!


Thanks for the warm welcome everyone, good to be back with you.  Well, maybe not you.  Most of you.  This time around, our contestant is:


The Radisson Lackawanna Station!


Yes, this lovely stopping point used to be more of a going point.  Travelers from faraway places like King of Prussia used to linger inside this current hotel for the eastbound 5:26.   The train station was renowned for being a source of creativity for husbands in explaining to their wives why they needed to stay overnight at the dye shop again.


 Pros:


  1. Internet which works.  Huge point-booster.  Shouldn’t be, but is.  If hotels in America would spend less time infusing almonds into bath soap and more time making sure that the wireless internet was functional, we’d all be much happier as a race.  Editor’s note–Hilariously, this blog is delayed in posting because the ballpark internet did not work.
  2. The lunch buffet.  Scranton, once a regional powerhouse, has–as many cities–been hit by the recession.   Finding a place to eat near the hotel is not a simple task.  The saving grace here is that the in-hotel food is spectacular.  For $12.50 (and a bit less with a coupon the team’s given on day one), I gorged myself on a well-appointed salad, chili, BBQ beef, pasta, mashed potatoes, fruit salad (with watermelon pieces) and carrot cake.   While it is not generally deemed socially acceptable/desirable to nosh where you nod off (see Round, Ground), this historic locale is the exception.
  3. The overall theme.  I don’t go to many Planet Hollywood restaurants.  If I wanted to sift through movie history, I’d click around imdb.com for a while….or buy a Jean Claude Van Damme box set.  In addition, I tend to frown upon Hard Rock Cafes, Rainforest Cafes and any establishment where part of the cost of placing an armchair or a bandana behind Plexiglas is defrayed to the customer.  That said, I appreciate the feel of the Radisson.  Immediately upon entry, the high ceilings, old-timey bulbed chandeliers and general glow of the location make the guest realize that this ain’t your typical roadside respite.  Just outside the elevator doors on each floor sits a monumental wooden bench where a waiting passenger might have sat.  With the abundance of hotels a baseball traveler sees, something novel is nice.  

Cons:

  1. Specters (not Arlen).  The hotel is allegedly haunted.  I say allegedly not to invite the ghosts to make a believer out of me next time.  There are stories of players seeing children whose heads spin 360 degrees.  There are stories of players answering the door, being asked by a snazzily-dressed man if their room is OK, then calling the front desk, describing the man and being told that nobody who works at the hotel fits such a description.  One Chiefs player told me last time that he didn’t believe his roommate was in when he arrived.  The player was then startled to see a blinking blue light in the corner of the room along with a voice.  It was the roommate on his cell phone.  The place can make even the strongest unhinged.  
  2. First floor massage person.  Walk past the front desk toward the elevator and do your best to ignore the door adjacent to the reception area.  Inside that entryway resides a man or woman whose sole job is to outdo Fran Drescher in annoyance and top Superfan Mark in Buffalo in the persistence column.  Typically, there is a person soliciting massages as you walk by.  Not solicitation in the we’re-affiliated-with-the-airline-so-take-our-credit-card way.  The person chats you up about whatever’s on his or her mind–the weather, the bag you’re carrying, Elian Gonzalez, whatever.  Then, with all of the subtlety of a cattle stampede, the person asks if you’d like a massage.  Not until you quit the soft sell, Rubdown.  
  3. Railroad rules.  During the early years of American transit, the U.S. government banded together some like-minded people who enjoyed things like cabooses and coal and formed the Interstate Commerce Commission.  Its job was to lay ground rules for the American mass transit systems predominantly when being used for shipping products or product inputs.  When formulating these policies, the ICC failed to stipulate that trains should not be able to pass directly beside hotel room windows.   This lack of diligence continues to debilitate Northeast Pennsylvania sleepers to this day.  Boy, I thought the railroad industry was dying.  Not so, says the 7:46 delivery of tungsten Friday morning.


Overall rating:  38.  Great food inside along with internet which blends into the stay because of its high-speededness.  I could do without the possible undead, the probable backrub blitz and the guaranteed chug-a-chug wake up.


Until next time,


JB

Rate the IL Hotel!–Rochester edition

Good afternoon from Alliance Bank Stadium and thanks for joining us.  Coming up next, Rate the IL Hotel!  But first, the pick six:

4…
8…
15…
16…
23….and the super ball…..
42!
Congratulations to the winner, whoever you are!  It’s your lucky day!
Now, it’s time for the game show where the mint is always under the pillow, Rate the IL Hotel!  Here’s your host, Jason Benetti!
Thank you, thank you.  Hopefully we’ve got a winner in store for you after the poor performance by the Comfort Inn Pawtucket last week.  Today’s hotel:
The Rochester Plaza!
Remember the rules:  I’ll give you the positives and negatives of the hotel, then assign it an arbitrary point value between 0 and 50.
They Said It:  “Standard crash pad that provides a riverfront view and within walking distance of two IL staples:  Dinosaur BBQ and the sandwich store next door.  Horrible room coffee provisions but the shop downstairs makes up for it if you can get there early.”
              –Ben Wagner, play-by-play announcer, Buffalo Bisons.
Pros:
1) Coffee shop and restaurant in the lobby.  Totally underrated amenities, as Ben alluded to.  A hot libation in the morning with minimal travel cost can gussy up a dreary day real fine.  And, if the food at the ballpark for players, coaches and radio types wasn’t enough, the ability to grab a meal close by postgame is a treat.  By that time, the last thing anyone needs is a 15-minute walk to the sports bar.
2)  The beds.  Very fluffy.  
3) The ballroom.  Only because it draws such upstanding, well-connected groups as the New York Association of Hostage Negotiators.
NYAHN.jpg
Cons:
1) The internet….again.  Hotels should watch more game tape.  If they did, they’d realize that molasses web-browsing can really ding performance on this program.  Rochester’s Plaza has two wireless internet connections:  rocplaza and rocplaza73.  In order to do anything of substance, one must alternate between networks.  Early returns on either network are decent, but–like a trip to the beach with an open wound on your leg–the longer you surf, the worse it gets.
2) The coffee shop;s hot chocolate.  Milk and water.  Don’t do it.
3) “Pardon our dust.”  That’s the sign which was posted near the elevators upon our arrival.  It stated that renovations were in progress on floors three, four and five.  Being in 417, I got to see (and hear) this close-up.  Two men were redoing the wallpaper in the maze-like hallway outside the room.  While I was in the shower on Friday, it sounded as though the hammer was coming through the wall.  Josh Whitesell told me that a staple gun (which rhythmically clicked three times, stopped and started again) woke him up around 8 A.M.  I certainly applaud the self-improvement by the hotel.  The major issue is that, by renovating floors three, four and five simultaneously, the seven-floor hotel is affecting about half its guest rooms at once.  The sign really should read:  “Pardon our dust.  A plurality of rooms will allow for normal sleep during your stay.”
4) The name of the hotel.  When I first stayed in the hotel back in ’05, it was called the “Crown Plaza Rochester.”  Since then, it has dropped the franchise and re-named itself the “Rochester Plaza.”  Creative.  This sleight of appellation makes me think of this website (http://www.notfoolinganybody.com)
which chronicles buildings which were once restaurants and now are, not so subtly, other things.  My personal favorite is the IHOP-turned-auto dealership.
Rating:  9.
Tough break, Rochester “Plaza.”  See you in August.
Shoot me an email at jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com.  Love to hear from you.
Chiefs and Mud Hens tonight at 7.  Join us, won’t you?
Jason

Rate The IL Hotel!–Pawtucket Edition

It’s time again for the world’s fastest growing sensation…..now shown in 42 separate languages in 13 countries….

Rate the IL Hotel!

And here’s your host…..the man who is always not to be disturbed……Jason Benetti!

Well, thank you Johnny Gilbert.  Glad to be along again for Rate the IL Hotel!–the game which should not be placed next to a cell phone because it may be demagnetized.

During game play, we will list the pros and cons of a Triple-A hotel.  Ultimately, that hotel will be assigned a score of 0 to 50.

This week:

The Comfort Inn and Suites on George Street in Pawtucket, Rhode Island!

They Said It:

“In the Words of Elaine Benes:  I am speechless.  I am without speech.”

           –Unnamed International League traveler, when asked about the Comfort Inn in Pawtucket.

Pros:

1) It’s close to the ballpark.  It takes about five minutes to drive to McCoy.

2) I have never been mugged at this hotel.

Cons:

1) The internet is brutal.  Couzens realized as we entered the hotel that he had previously stayed here when moving his sister in to college about a decade ago.  I believe the hotel still uses the same wireless provider now as then.  The room I’m writing this from–112–is located across from the lobby.  The wireless signal is as strong as Waterworld was at the box office.  I have inquired at the front desk multiple times and received these responses:

“There is a major problem that is being fixed.”
“The signal is great sometimes and sucks other times.”
“Have you called Fusion (the service provider)?”
“The signal is just slow.  Have you tried coming into the lobby?”

AKA:  We still utilize Prodigy.

2) The business center.  I went to the business center on day two here and found a black computer with a clean desktop attached to a LaserJet printer.  Perfect to print a few pages of notes on.  I clicked on Internet Explorer.  This action opened a Microsoft Word Install Wizard.  That’s like going to Burger King and leaving with a dining room set and a seesaw.  Not exactly the proper result.

3) The attached restaurant.  The Ground Round–with streetside entrance to both food and slumber–is an IL legend.  Its free popcorn (which has as accurate of a birthdate as Rolando Arrojo) tantalizes guests with its salty, alluring nature.  The Ground Round’s mind-enveloping game of skill–keno–befuddles locals and world travelers alike.  And, its vast menu satiates those with cravings for Tex-Mex, chicken, clam chowder and chicken.  Alright, let’s be honest.  The Ground Round filed for bankruptcy six years ago, yet somehow there’s still a franchise in Pawtucket.  It’s Cheers without Norm, Carla, Sam, Coach, a dartboard, a pool table, Frasier, Lilith, Cliff Clavin and the atmosphere.

4) The hallways.  Evidently that there smoking ban doesn’t cover corridors, does it Massachusetts?

5) The shower.  Good water pressure.  No spatial concerns.  The issue is the margin of error with the temperature.  Move the dial a tick to the right…..scalded.  Shift it slightly back to the left…..popsicle.  What’s baffling is this:  The full range of the unit is about three revolutions.  So, why, dear shower doohickey-maker, does one amoeba-sized movement take me from 0 to 100?

Rating: 3.

It has beds and a bathroom.  And pillows (shaped like cubes).

Game time is 12:05 tomorrow.  Talk to you then.

Jason

.

Rate the IL Hotel!–Hyatt Regency Columbus edition

Coming up, an all new Hogan’s Heroes…..find out what the boys from Stalag 13 are up to this afternoon…..then, on the news at 5 o’clock, one pitcher’s journey from San Diego State to Central New York…..a touching, compelling story that you’ve never, ever heard….. 


But first, time for America’s fastest growing sensation….Rate the IL Hotel!  Now, let’s check in with our host with the most (subjectively, of course), Jason Benetti!


Alright, folks, you know how it works.  I’ll detail the pros and cons of the IL hotel in question.  Then, I’ll arbitrarily assign a point score from 0 to 50 to the hotel.


First, let’s flash back to last week’s contestant….

The Park Inn Toledo.  Score: 12.  Shoddy web-surfing dooms duck-in-room-obsessed housekeeping staff to 25th percentile.


This week’s contestant:  The Hyatt Regency, Downtown Columbus.


They said it:  “Without question, one of the finest we stay in.  When you couple its proximity to the ballpark with the ability to walk to the local establishments in the arena district, it’s one of the best!  Too, the fact that it’s a couple miles from the finest university in America makes It all the better.”

-Matt Andrews, Voice of the Louisville Bats, unabashed Buckeye partisan and exclamation mark abuser.


Pros:


  1. First impression.  As we walked into the spacious, neo-contemporary lobby, the not-so-faint sound of screaming emanated from the “Big Bar” on the 2nd floor.  It sounded as though there was a party of 200 upstairs, all laughing and howling at once.  After completing a nighttime bus ride through Ohio, there’s nothing more uplifting than life happening for others.  It makes you, embattled baseball traveler, want to keep your eyes open for a little longer.
  2. The internet.  The Park Inn should take wi-fi lessons from the Hyatt.  The thing is meteorically fast.  Al Cowlings-in-a-Bronco fast.  A white Bronco.  Yeah, that fast.
  3. Room size & view:  To crib a line from one of our traveling party, I could have played football in my room.  There was enough space for 20 of my suitcases beyond the foot of my bed.  Something about openness in a room makes the place seem more inviting.  Also, the landscape directly outside of my 17th-floor window included quite the maze of Columbus highways.  That was fun to look at for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Food radius.  Within short walking distance:  Gordon Biersch, Buca di Beppo, Starbucks, Boston’s Pizza and Ted’s Montana Grill, among others.  That’s four-game-set heaven.

Cons: 

  1. Fragrances.  While ginger on my snaps, in my ale and on Gilligan’s Island are all encouraged, ginger in my shampoo is frowned upon.  Why do hotels feel the need to transform their guests into metrosexual Spago chefs?  Editor’s note:  The prior term may be redundant.  
  2. There’s no such thing as a free web.  The internet at the Hyatt costs $9.99 a night.  I doubt I’d be as cranky about this had I not seen a local company’s self-serving commercial which extolled its own virtues for furnishing the community with complimentary internet.  Where were you when I was traveling, 21st Century Robin Hood?  
  3. Room service.  After Monday’s 6:35 PM game, I was hungry.  I also was busy.  With the quick turnaround to Tuesday’s 11:35 AM first pitch, I had some homework to do in a short window.  So, my solution was delivered food.  I opened the guidebook on the desk in the room to the tab marked “Room Service.”  The cover page displayed a picture of some pretty little waffles with berries on top.  This looked tasty.  There’s a reason waffles were featured.  The menu consisted of three categories:  breakfast, alcohol and snack food.  The third category struck me as what I was looking for…..until I noted that one of the signature items was a 70-dollar cheeseboard which allegedly served 20 or 30 people.  Imagining the entire roster of the Columbus Clippers gnawing on a wedge of brie the size of the oatmeal crème pie from Honey I Shrunk the Kids, I went to bed smiling and hungry.
  4. Fits and starts.  The beds, once again, suffered from a lack of fitted sheets.  For tall baseball-types, this, I’ve been told, makes for a rough night of sleep.  

Score:  45.  If they hand me 30 bucks for the internet and a late-night burger next year, they’ll get a 48 or better.


Thanks for joining us for Rate the IL Hotel!  As always, contestants not chosen will receive a Rate the IL Hotel! jean jacket.  Wear it in the fall, winter, spring or summer.  It’s truly a garment for all seasons.


Chiefs open an eight-game homestand Thursday at 7 P.M. against the Gwinnett Braves….talk to you then.


Jason

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