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Fall 2017 Course Schedule | Tuesday

 Click here to view a PDF version of the Fall 2017 Course Catalog. 

To view the course schedule, click on each day of the week.

Fall 2017 courses will begin the week of September 25 and run through the week of December 4, with a break the week of November 20. There will be no courses on Columbus Day, Monday, October 9. For the Fall 2017 schedule, click here.

If needed, make up classes will be held December 11-14.

Please be sure to click on the name of the course to read the description before signing up.





Time Class

Period 1
9:30 a.m. to 10:55 a.m.

Laughter on Film: Classic Screen Comedies
Irwin Silver
*This class will run during course periods 1&2

"All Power to the Soviets!" Russian History Between the 1905 and 1989 Revolutions  
Kelsey Davis

Architecture: Learning to Look
Lawrence & Caroline Schwirian
5 Week Course - September 26 - October 24

Five Stories in Five Weeks: A Short Course on Writing Short Fiction
Betsy Campbell
5 Week Course - October 31 - December 5

“All Blood Runs Red”: World War I Fiction from the Battlefield and the Home Front  
Kathryn Bloom

Period 2
11:10 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.

Laughter on Film: Classic Screen Comedies
Irwin Silver
*This class will run during course periods 1&2

Nevertheless She Persisted: Remarkable Women in Western Art  
Suzanne Art

Our Energy Future
Carl Lazarus
5 Week Course - September 26 - October 24

Reflections on the Meaning of World War II
Walter Carter
5 Week Course - October 31 - December 5

The Dead Don’t Lie: Forensic Anthropology for Amateurs  
Diane Markowitz
5 Week Course - September 26 - October 24

Steel- The Metal That Made America Great
Rick Gander
5 Week Course - October 31 - December 5

12:35 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Lunch, Learning, and Social Life

Period 3
2:10 p.m. to 3:35 p.m.

The Aeneid
Len Aberbach

A Poet and a Mathematician Walk into a Bar: Shakespeare and Infinity
Onur Toker

The Forgotten War: Korea in History and Memory
Matthew D. Linton

FILM1-10-Tue1  Laughter on Film: Classic Screen Comedies 

Leader  –  Irwin Silver

Tuesday – Course Period 1&2 – 9:30 am to 12:35 pm

          (Note: This class will run during course periods 1 & 2)

Description      Poet Maya Angelou once said “I don’t trust anyone who doesn't laugh.” Hollywood has produced many films that are designed to make people both laugh and think. In this course, we will watch and discuss films chosen from several comic genres. The films we will watch are timeless and feature lineups of the greatest talent in film history, including directors Mike Nichols, Mel Brooks, Billy Wilder and Stanley Kubrick, along with actors Gene Wilder, Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Eva Marie Saint, Carl Reiner, Alan Arkin, Robin Williams, Marisa Tomei, Peter Sellers, and the great Jimmy Cagney. The movies we view and discuss will  present different genres of comedy such as parody, romance, and slapstick. Featured films include The Producers, The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming, The Birdcage, A Fish Called Wanda, Trading Places, Dr. Strangelove, and The Graduate. Join us for a ten-week respite from the daily headlines because, to quote Robert Frost, “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”  Each class will run for two consecutive class periods

Readings     The SGL will forward readings and YouTube videos via email.

Preparation Time  Approximately one hour per week

Biography     Irwin Silver received a bachelor of science degree from Northeastern University, where he later served as an adjunct professor. He spent 46 years in the investment industry with a national firm, retiring as a First Vice President-Investments. Irwin has devoted much time as a volunteer for charitable organizations and political campaigns. In his younger days, he was an avid skier.

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H&G4-10-Tue1  "All Power to the Soviets!" Russian History Between the 1905 and 1989 Revolutions        

Leader  –  Kelsey Davis

Tuesday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

Description     This course will survey the history of twentieth-century Russia, from the 1905 Revolution to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It will cover ten major topics in Soviet and post-Soviet history, and will incorporate historical and literary texts and visual media (film, propaganda posters, etc.) into lectures and class discussion. The course objective is to better understand modern-day Russia by studying the country's history and culture. Therefore, the course will be guided by the following questions: a) what can Russia's recent history teach us about its present, and b) how have American interpretations of Soviet history clouded our perceptions of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation? This course is discussion and lecture based. This is a new course but it will incorporate some lecture and reading material from the Spring 2017 course. 

Readings    Course packet, to be distributed by instructor

Gregory L. Freeze, Russia: A History, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-0199560417 (many used and new copies available on Amazon - $5-$20 respectively)

Preparation Time     Average 100 pages per week (combination of textbook and literature in course packet). Approx. four hours. 

Biography   Kelsey Davis is a PhD student in History at Brandeis University, specializing in Russian religious history. She received her master's degree in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Columbia University in 2015. In 2012, she graduated from Texas A&M University-Kingsville with  bachelor's degrees in History and Literature. Her dissertation will research Russian religious communities in Harbin (current capital of the Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China) in the early twentieth century.

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ART3-5a-Tue1  Architecture: Learning to Look   

Leaders  –  Lawrence & Caroline Schwirian

Tuesday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

         5 Week Course - September 26 - October 24

Description      In the first century BCE Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio identified three elements for a well- designed building: firmitas, utilitas and venustas or firmness, commodity and delight. Frank Lloyd Wright said “the mother art is architecture; without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our civilization.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “I think of architecture as frozen music.” Winston Churchill said “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” There are as many definitions of architecture as there are architects, poet/playwrights and statesmen. We will discuss in class how a number of noted architects have tried to articulate the essence of architecture and how their buildings reflect their design intent. We will review how architecture is similar to or different from other art forms and we will look at a number of buildings in the Boston area and discuss why they are considered by architects to be worthy of note. Classes will be interactive discussions based primarily on the previous week’s homework, which will consist primarily of videos from PBS and YouTube or assigned digital photos. For the last week of class participants will be encouraged to email photos to the SGL of their most favorite and least favorite building which will then be discussed during the final class.

Readings    Limited reading assignments will be available online.

Preparation Time     1 to 1-½ hrs. per week, primarily of videos and digital photos.

Biography     Lawrence and Caroline Schwirian met in architecture school at Case Western Reserve.  As licensed architects for over forty years, they have worked for a number of prestigious architectural firms in the Boston area including The Architects Collaborative, SOM, Stubbins, Don Hisaka, Sasaki, Shepley Bulfinch and Goody Clancy.  Larry has taught at Boston Architectural College, Wentworth Institute and New England School of Art and Design.  They live in an architect designed house dating from 1849 and spearheaded the effort to create the Auburndale Local Historic District in Newton. They have given many talks on the history of Auburndale as well as walking tours and are involved with historic preservation.  Now semi-retired, their firm, Caroline and Lawrence Schwirian Architects, provides consulting, and design for small commercial and residential work.  Having worked primarily on the more technical side of architecture, they look forward to helping others to better understand the essence of architecture.

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WRI1-5b-Tue1  Five Stories in Five Weeks: A Short Course on Writing Short Fiction

Leader  –  Betsy Campbell

Tuesday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

         5 Week Course - October 31 - December 5

Description    The current popularity of very short or “flash fiction” proves that a good story doesn’t have to be long. The challenge of short fiction is to tell a complete story that has a beginning, a middle and an end in a very few words. In this class we will write short pieces (about 500 words) and use our imaginations to turn events we have experienced, observed, or heard about into fiction. As fiction writers we are free to modify facts, change details, invent action or create characters while shaping the material into a story that entertains or enlightens the reader. Writing prompts will be chosen by the SGL to focus on specific elements of narrative writing such as point of view, dialogue, or characterization. Group members will read their pieces in class every week and provide feedback for one another in a supportive atmosphere. At the end of our semester each participant will have experienced the challenge and fun of creating five very short stories in a very short time.

Readings    There is no text for the course. SGL will provide relevant handouts.

Preparation Time    A piece of writing of about 500 words is expected each week.

Biography   Betsy Campbell has always enjoyed writing and working with aspiring writers of all ages. She began her teaching career as a high school English teacher and later spent twenty-five years teaching Kindergarten and First Grade. She has led writing classes at BOLLI since 2014. She has taken numerous writing courses, attended conferences, and led teachers’ workshops on writing. She has published stories and articles in The Boston Globe, The Vineyard Gazette, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine and Storyteller Magazine. One of her stories was included in the anthology Final Fenway Fiction. Betsy has a B.A. from Brown University, an M.A.T. from The Harvard Graduate School of Eduction and an M.A. from Lesley University.

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LIT12-10-Tue1  “All Blood Runs Red”: World War I Fiction from the Battlefield and the Home Front        

Leader  –  Kathryn Bloom

Tuesday – Course Period 1 – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

Description     “All blood runs red” was the phrase written on the side of the WWI plane flown by Eugene Bullard, the first black combat pilot.  President Woodrow Wilson described it as “the war to end all wars”, but we know now that World War I was the first in a century of increasingly bloody global conflicts. In this course, we will look at how fiction writers wrote about the war and its immediate aftermath.  We will discuss the various perspectives of men serving on the front lines, women who volunteered as nurses, home front attitudes, and the experience of men of color who returned from combat to a racially intolerant country. While most of the writers we will study are American, we begin with the war as seen from the perspective of a German soldier, Erich Maria Remarque’s gripping All Quiet on the Western Front. Participants will be asked to read two novels and selections from a short-story collection. The class will be conducted as open-ended, shared-inquiry discussions.

 Readings    All Quiet on the Western Front  Erich Maria Remarque (any edition)

Six Characters in Search of an Author  Luigi Pirandello  (any edition)

In addition, SGL will provide a packet of  selected short stories at cost

Preparation Time     About three hours per week

Biography   Kathryn Bloom is a doctoral student at Northeastern University, where she is completing a dissertation on the fiction of Edna Ferber and Fannie Hurst.  She has led courses at BOLLI in Jewish literature, Canadian literature and New Jersey literature.

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ART4-10-Tue2  Nevertheless She Persisted: Remarkable Women in Western Art        

Leader  –  Suzanne Art

Tuesday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm 

Description     Women have been creating works of art since earliest times: weaving, embroidering, illustrating manuscripts, even composing melodies. Those early artists bore a common name: anonymous. During the Renaissance, certain women gained access in artists’ studios to try their hands at painting in oils. Although they occupied an inferior status to their male counterparts, they proudly signed their paintings. This was the beginning of a quiet revolution: Despite the difficulties they encountered in training, travelling and selling their work, to say nothing of the discrimination imposed by the male-dominated art academies, many women artists gained recognition in their own times. Sadly, they were usually forgotten after they died. Few people wanted to acquire their paintings, unless, as often happened, they were attributed to male contemporaries! Happily, in recent years, curators and art historians, and feminists in general, have promoted the role of women in the arts. Nowadays, galleries and exhibits devoted to the likes of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun attract huge crowds. A recently discovered small painting by Baroque artist Artemisia Gentilischi sold for $2 million; a floral painting by Georgia O’Keefe went in 2014 for $45 million. Times are clearly changing for the ladies! This course will examine the lives and experiences of women artists from the Renaissance to the early 20th century – focusing upon the familiar as well as the not so familiar. There will be a combination of presentation and discussion. 

Readings    All assignments will be online. These will include short articles and biographies as well as videos about particular artists or paintings by curators and art historians.

Preparation Time     One should expect to spend an hour to an hour and a half each week in preparation for class.

Biography    Suzanne Art has always loved art and history. Her favorite pastime is “experiencing” the paintings in art museums. She has a BA in History, an MA in the French Language and Literature, and an MA in Teaching. She taught history for 16 years at a private school. During that time, she also wrote a series of twelve history books, a major feature of which is the study of art in a given culture. She has taught four courses at BOLLI: Painters of the Italian Renaissance, Three Giants of the Northern Renaissance, Let’s Go for Baroque, and From Frou-frou to Heroic: Painting in 18th and early 19th Century France.

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SCI2-5a-Tue2  Our Energy Future     

Leader  –  Carl Lazarus

Tuesday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

         5 Week Course - September 26 - October 24 

(An identical course will also be offered on Wednesdays, period 3 – during the second 5 weeks)


Description     Fossil fuels are responsible for the unparalleled improvement in the standard of living around the world since 1800.  In the last few decades China has been pulled out of poverty and India and other developing countries have made great progress.  Unfortunately, the world must kick its dependence on fossil fuels in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.  What are the prospects and problems of the various carbon-neutral energy sources?  Will we be able to have a world of abundance, or will it be one of scarcity?  This course will explore the concept of a “carbon budget” and how to use it wisely, and examine the known alternative energy sources: solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, biomass and geothermal.  We will look at the related issues of energy storage and a “smart” grid, both essential for using intermittent power sources such as wind and solar.  We’ll consider the advantages and disadvantages and the challenges, technical and economic.  Carbon capture and sequestration will also be examined, as a solution that has been proposed to permit continued use of fossil fuels without atmospheric release of CO2.  Classes will consist of a mixture of lecture and discussions.

Readings    Our Renewable Future by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley

There will also be some short online materials.

Preparation Time     About 40 pages per week from the text, plus occasional short online articles

Biography     Carl Lazarus studied chemistry at Yale and biochemistry at Brandeis, but subsequently studied computer science at MIT and made his career in information technology.  He wrote software and managed software development for the health care industry, and later managed various online services.  In retirement he has been reading avidly on climate issues and has recently been attending visiting scientist lectures at the MIT Energy Initiative.

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H&G5-5b-Tue2  Reflections on the Meaning of World War II

Leader  –  Walter Carter

Tuesday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

         5 Week Course - October 31 - December 5 

Description     World War II, arguably the most important event of the 20th century, was an explosive collision of geopolitical, economic and social trends that dominated most of the first half of the century and shaped trends that dominated the second half and beyond.  The War overshadowed almost all other aspects of life around the globe at that time, but has faded in people’s minds in subsequent decades.  Interpretations of WWII as an historical event, as reflected in the scholarly and popular books and articles that have been written about it, are not uniform among authors and have changed over time.  To approach a descriptive and instructive definition of WWII, we will review its historical antecedents, its course during 1939-1945, and its aftermath.  We will look at such questions as: Was WWII ‘the good war’? Who started it? What was it about? Who were the winners and losers? Were all the winners ‘totally good’ and all the losers ‘totally bad’? Did the war and post-war actions solve all the problems that led to it?” The course will be comprised of SGL presentation and class discussion.  The material will be based largely on the writings of Gerhard L. Weinberg, supplemented by selected articles, reviews, and book excerpts by other authors. This course will combine SGL presentation and class discussion.


Readings   Weinberg, Gerhard: World War II: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford U Press, 2014, 130 pp., $7.65)

Handouts will be provided by the SGL.

Preparation Time     20-30 pages per week, except 80 pages in week 2.

Biography     Walter Carter earned a BA degree in history from Swarthmore College, then M.A. degrees in international relations at Tufts University and economics at the University of Rochester.  He retired from McGraw-Hill as an economic forecaster.  He is currently on the board of Normandy Allies, Inc., for whom he helped lead, for nearly 15 years, history-study tours of the D-Day landing area of WW II.  He is also a member of the American WWII Orphans Network.  His memoir about his father, No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love: A Son's Journey to Normandy, was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 2004.

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SCI3-5a-Tue2  The Dead Don’t Lie: Forensic Anthropology for Amateurs        

Leader  –  Diane Markowitz

Tuesday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

         5 Week Course - September 26 -October 24 

Description     It is widely known among forensic anthropologists that the dead don’t tell lies - but they do tell tales. In this 5-week course, we’ll learn how human skeletal remains can tell us who they were: their age and sex, their infirmities and the diseases from which they suffered. Ultimately, we’ll examine clues to when and how they died. Each of these (and other) subjects will comprise the topics of four classes. At the end of each class, we’ll examine a real case in which the clues we’ve studied have led to forensic evidence (evidence that can be presented in court). At the fifth meeting, the class will present their conclusions, based on several fictitious cases.

Readings    The SGL will distribute a packet of reading materials which will include book chapters and articles.  Notes and photographs used in presentations will be available on line.

Preparation Time     About 20 pages, one hour/week

Biography     Diane Markowitz practiced dentistry for 13 years, then studied for a PhD in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania which she received in 1995. She worked for 20 years at Rowan University, teaching physical anthropology, human biology, medical anthropology and forensic anthropology. She also taught New Jersey State Police how to distinguish human from animal bone. Her research concerned growth and obesity among children of migrant Latino agricultural workers. She retired in 2011 and is now professor emerita.

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H&G6-5b-Tue2  Steel- The Metal That Made America Great 

Leader  –  Rick Gander

Tuesday – Course Period 2 – 11:10 am to 12:35 pm

         5 Week Course - October 31 - December 5 

Description    Steel is the metal that built the modern world.  When the process for making steel was standardized 160 years ago, steel began to flow from furnaces in increasing amounts. It was used to build the factories, railroads, ships, skyscrapers, bridges and weapons that made America and other Great Powers more powerful.  Through our readings, videos, lectures and discussions, we will follow the growth and change in the modern steel industry from its mid-19th century birth through the present day.  We will study the industry's technologies, processes, markets, competitive environment and political influences.  We will address what has happened to the American steel industry since the 1980's and where it is heading today.

Readings   We will read from “Steel-From Mine to Mill, The Metal That Made America” by Brooke C. Stoddard available from Amazon in hardback (with many colorful illustrations) or Kindle format and articles sent as PDFs or weblinks.

Preparation Time  Up to 50 pages of reading

Biography     Rick Gander studied economics, politics and metallurgy at MIT and business at Wharton.  He worked as a plant metallurgist at Lukens Steel and in commercial research at Inland Steel, then as a consultant in steel, metals and mining at Arthur D. Little in Cambridge and Hatch Associates in Mississauga, Ontario.  He has visited and worked at numerous iron ore mines and steel plants in the US, Canada and 15 other countries.

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LIT5-10-Tue3  The Aeneid         

Leader  –  Len Aberbach

Tuesday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm 

Description    This course, the third in a three-semester sequence, will cover Virgil’s Aeneid. While enrollment in the first two courses is not a requirement, familiarity with The Iliad and The Odyssey is recommended. The Aeneid connects the Rome of Augustus to the distant mythic past of the devastated Troy through Aeneas, a Trojan prince, who is compelled by the Gods to leave the dying city and found a new people and nation. The Aeneid was immediately accepted as the foundation myth of Rome and the Roman people. We will be reading the epic very closely, focusing on the most important details and story lines as well as on a tantalizing array of issues that Virgil leaves us to puzzle over. I will be making continuous comparisons and references to The Iliad and The Odyssey, as Virgil in numerous ways is paying homage to Homer and his extraordinary epics. The value of reading these epics in sequence is that they build on one another and you will discover characters whose passions, flaws, nobility, and frailties exemplify a humanity that we can readily relate to today.

Whether you are completely new to The Aeneid or have read it in high school or college, your understanding and appreciation will be profoundly greater as a mature reader. Through our study of the poem we will explore the values and morals of the society, the complex relationships between men and their Gods, and the nature of interpersonal relationships in a world frequently dominated by war.

 Readings    The Aeneid – Robert Fagels Translation, Viking Press

                    ISBN 0-670-03803-2

      Available on Amazon both new and used

This translation is MANDATORY for the study group as study questions refer to lines from this translation.

Preparation Time    3-4 hours each week to read the assigned text and think about the study questions.

Biography   Leonard Aberbach has been a member of BOLLI almost since it began and has led a number of study groups on the great epics of western civilization. His interest in this area began after joining BOLLI and has little connection to his education and work experience which includes a PhD in chemical engineering and technology-based business general management. The classical epics satisfy his desire to lead courses in an area of interest that requires new focus, study and effort.

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LIT6-10-Tue3  A Poet and a Mathematician Walk into a Bar: Shakespeare and Infinity         

Leader  –  Onur Toker

Tuesday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Description    Mathematics and literature are often assumed to be diametrically opposed fields of human endeavor, but a certain fascination with the the idea of infinity infuses them both. In this course, we will look at how the idea of infinity in Shakespeare is fundamental to his understanding of both love and political power. We will explore ways in which the mathematics of infinity can help us understand the poetic power of Shakespeare, and how Shakespeare can help us come to grips with the dizzying mathematical notion of infinity. No prior knowledge of either Shakespeare or mathematics is required. Readings will be drawn primarily from the 20th century Argentine writer Jorges Luis Borges and the great 16th century English dramatist William Shakespeare. We will also be reading some very short pieces by the great 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson and the renowned late 18th century English poet William Blake.

Readings    Shakespeare, William. Anthony and Cleopatra.
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet.
Shakespeare, William. Troilus and Cressida.


Blake, William. Three Poems
Borges, Jorge Luis “Avatars of the Tortoise”.
Borges, Jorge Luis “The Library of Babel”
Borges, Jorge Luis “The Book of Sand”

Preparation Time   Weeks 1-3: 10 pages/week

Weeks 4-9: 40-45  pages/weekWeek 10: 5 pages

Biography    K. Onur Toker, a third-year doctoral student in the Brandeis English department, hails from Istanbul, Turkey. His research focuses on the relationship between mathematics, political science, and poetry in the Early Modern period. He has more than 10 years of teaching experience in the fields of International Relations and English Literature and Composition

H&G11-5b-Tues3 - The Forgotten War: Korea in History and Memory

Leader  –  Matthew D. Linton

Tuesday – Course Period 3 – 2:10 pm to 3:35 pm

Description   The Korean War is often called “the forgotten war” by historians. Nestled between the thrill of victory in World War II and the agony of retreat in Vietnam, the Korean War was different.  It tells no familiar story:  neither a tale of triumph over Hitler nor the story of the limits of American power in a Cold War context. This course will examine the causes of the Korean War, analyze the conflict itself, and investigate how the war has been remembered in the United States, China, and the Koreas. It will conclude with a discussion of how the Korean War has shaped current international relations. The course will be discussion-based with a few short lectures. Click here for more information.

Reading   Bruce Cumings, The Korean War: A History (New York City: Modern Library, 2011). ISBN: 978-0812978964.Handouts:

Preparation Time   1-2 hours per week (50-100 pages of reading).

Biography    Matthew D. Linton is an instructor in history at Brandeis University. As a doctoral candidate, he specializes in twentieth century American intellectual and political history. His research explores the relationship between academia and the national security state during World War II and the Cold War. His work has appeared in the Journal of American-East Asian Relations, and the Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives.

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