RE/MAX 440
Peter Patkos
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-327-7491
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Fax: 267-354-6879 
peterpatkos@remax440.com
Peter Patkos

My Blog

Helping Consumers Reduce Sodium Intake

January 10, 2013 4:04 am

Most Americans consume way too much sodium, with salt (sodium chloride) being the most common form. That can be a serious health hazard, because excess sodium consumption contributes to the development and escalation of high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.

Research shows that Americans consume, on average, about 3,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium every day. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a reduction of sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg daily.

Those age 51 and older, and people of any age who are African-American or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should further reduce sodium intake to 1,500 mg daily. This amount meets your essential need for sodium. These populations comprise about half the U.S. population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that children and adolescents consume about the same amount of sodium as adults and also risk developing high blood pressure. The researchers found that kids who consumed the most sodium faced double the risk of having high blood pressure, compared to those who took in less sodium. For overweight or obese children, the risk was more than triple.

“There has been a common misconception that sodium intake is just a concern for people with high blood pressure,” says Jessica Leighton, Ph.D., MPH, senior advisor for science in the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. “But it’s a health risk for all people, including children, as the CDC report shows.”

FDA is working on a number of fronts to help consumers manage their sodium intake.

Seeking a Gradual Reduction

FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are collaborating to identify ways that sodium can be reduced in foods sold in the nation’s marketplaces and restaurants.

“Approximately 75 percent of the total sodium intake for most individuals comes not from people adding salt to their food but from packaged and restaurant foods,” says Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “That makes it very difficult for consumers to reduce their sodium intake with the foods currently available to them in the marketplace.”
What’s a Consumer to Do?

When shopping for food, consumers can read food labels and choose foods that are lower in sodium.

The Nutrition Facts Label on food and beverage packages lists the “Percent Daily Value (%DV)” of sodium in one serving of a food, based on 2,400 mg per day. The %DV tells you whether a food contributes a little or a lot to your total daily diet. Foods providing 5%DV or less of sodium per serving are considered low in sodium and foods providing 20%DV or more of sodium per serving are considered high. But remember, all of the nutrition information on the label is based upon one serving of the food and many packaged foods have more than one serving.

It is recommended that consumers not exceed 100 percent of the daily value for sodium and those advised to limit intake to 1,500 mg per day should aim for about 65 percent of the daily value. Consumers can also be aware of the sources of sodium in their diet. In a report issued in February 2012, CDC identified these 10 foods as the greatest sources of sodium:

-breads and rolls
-luncheon meat, such as deli ham or turkey
-pizza
-poultry, fresh and processed—(Much of the raw chicken bought from a store has been injected with a sodium solution.)
-soups
-cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
-cheese, natural and processed
-pasta dishes
-meat dishes, such as meat loaf with gravy
-savory snack foods, such as potato chips, pretzels and popcorn

To help consumers put the Dietary Guidelines into action, including recommendations regarding sodium, personalized tools and resources are also available at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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12 Tips to be Energy Efficient Each Month of 2013

January 10, 2013 4:04 am

Start 2013 off right! Make a plan to be energy efficient every month of the year with these 12 energy-saving tips.

January: Replace old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home with energy-efficient lighting – like new CFLs, halogen incandescents or LEDs – to save between $50 and $100 a year in energy costs.

February: February can be a weather-weary month to commute, so partner up with two friends at least twice a week to carpool and save $144 each on yearly gas charges.

March: With spring just around the corner, get ready to open up your home to new, efficient windows. Replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can save you up to $1000 annually.

April: This April Fools, outsmart the energy vampires in your home by unplugging what you're not using. Use a smart power strip for automatic savings.

May: In honor of EE Global 2013, share one of the other tips with an international friend, family member, or associate to help save energy worldwide.

June: For the summer driving season, avoid speeding, rapid acceleration, and rapid breaking to lower gas mileage by 33 percent (at highway speeds). Drivers can save up to 240 gallons of gasoline, or nearly $1000, by driving sensibly on the highway.

July: Make sure your AC equipment is in top running order, since cooling puts the greatest stress on your summer energy bills.

August: Plug energy leaks with weather stripping and caulking, and be sure your house is properly insulated to save up to 20 percent on energy bills.

September: If you and your kids are out at school and work, install a programmable thermostat – or even a smart thermostat – to lower your home's temperature while it's empty. This can reduce energy bills by up to 10 percent.

October: To save energy at your own dinner table, replace an old fridge with an ENERGY STAR model to save up to $200 each year.

November: Keep the temperature of your water heater at 120 degrees, and insulate the hot water storage tank to save money on heating costs.

December: You made so many energy-saving changes this year, give yourself the gift of a home energy assessment to see how much more energy you can save next year!

Source: Alliance to Save Energy

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Cleaning Made Simple

January 9, 2013 4:02 am

(Family Features) Giving your home a good cleaning doesn’t have to be a big chore. You can make the whole house look and feel fresher by focusing on a few key areas.

Floors
Even if you vacuum regularly, floors and carpets could use a deep down cleaning now and then.
• For carpeted areas — Start by vacuuming as usual, to pick up surface debris. Move as much furniture out of the room as possible. If you don’t want to rent a carpet cleaner, you can use a handheld electric spot scrubber to remove stains.
• For hardwood or vinyl tile areas — Vacuum as usual. Remove as much furniture as possible. Use a steam mop to clean and sanitize the floor.
• For other tiled areas — If your tile is natural stone, treat stains based on type. If the stain is calcium based, from grout buildup, mineral deposits or hard water, use a pH balanced cleaner for stone.

Bathroom

Freshen up the bathroom with these simple cleaning tricks.
• Take care of the tub by scrubbing with baking soda on a clean, damp sponge. Rinse, then wipe dry. You can clean and deodorize your vinyl shower curtain by giving it the same treatment.
• If you have stone, granite or marble surfaces, use a cleaner made specifically for those materials. Some general purpose cleaners may contain acids, bleach or ammonia that could break down the sealer on natural stone, making the surface more likely to stain.

Kitchen
Take care of those areas that might not get daily attention.
• Empty the refrigerator and remove the shelves and bins, giving them a good cleaning with a solution of 1/4 cup multi-surface cleaner and one gallon of warm water. Rinse and dry thoroughly before putting them back.
• To sanitize washable hard, nonporous surfaces such as granite, without damaging them, use a spray specifically for natural stone. Spray until thoroughly wet and leave it for one minute. Wipe with a clean cloth or let air dry — do not rinse.
• Use a duster with a long handle to clean in higher areas, such as the tops of cabinets, ceiling corners, vents and recessed lighting fixtures.

Appliances
They take up a lot of real estate in the home — make sure they’re clean, too.
• If your washing machine does not have a specific washer cleaning cycle, add liquid chlorine bleach to the dispenser and run a normal cycle with hot water.
• Check the drain area of your dishwasher and remove any bits of food or small items. Place a bowl, right side up, in the top rack and fill it with one cup of white vinegar. With nothing else inside, run the dishwasher on its shortest cycle to remove soap scum and hard water buildup.
• Don’t forget the outside of your appliances. For light cleaning, dilute 1/4 cup multi-purpose cleaner in a gallon of warm water. Wipe your washer, dryer and refrigerator clean. For tougher cleaning, use some full-strength multi-purpose cleaner directly on a sponge. Rinse surfaces thoroughly with plain water afterwards. Regular cleaners can leave residue on stainless steel surfaces, however, so use a steel cleaning product that will clean now and resist fingerprints and grease later on.

Source: DuPont

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Always Tired? You May Have Sleep Apnea

January 9, 2013 4:02 am

Your spouse says your snoring is driving her nuts. You wake up feeling unrested and irritable. You nod off at the computer—or worse, at the wheel.

These are common signs that you may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder that—left untreated—can take its toll on the body and mind. Untreated OSA has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, work-related accidents and depression. According to the American Sleep Association, OSA affects more than 12 million Americans.

What is Sleep Apnea?

The Greek word "apnea" literally means "without breath." With sleep apnea, your breathing pauses multiple times during sleep. The pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and can occur 30 times or more an hour. Sometimes when you start breathing again, you make a loud snort or choking sound.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses. The less common form, central sleep apnea, happens if the area of your brain that controls breathing doesn't send the correct signals to your breathing muscles.

According to Eric Mann, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of FDA's Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices, you may be unaware of these events since they happen while you're sleeping. Because you partially wake up when your breathing pauses, your sleep is interrupted, and you often feel tired and irritable the next day.

Maria Jison, M.D., a medical officer in FDA's Anesthesiology and Respiratory Devices branch, says, "Sleep apnea is often under-recognized by patients, who may attribute their chronic tiredness to various other factors in their busy lives. They don't even think to mention day-to-day fatigue when they see a physician."

Sleep apnea is almost twice as common in men as it is in women. Other risk factors include:

• Being overweight, as extra fat tissue around the neck makes it harder to keep the airway open
• Being over age 40
• Smoking
• Having a family history of sleep apnea
• Having a nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies or sinus problem

Children also get sleep apnea, most commonly between ages 3 and 6. The most common cause is enlarged tonsils and adenoids in the upper airway.

Getting Treatment
The first line of defense can be behavioral. Weight loss may go a long way toward improving OSA. It may also help to stop using alcohol or medicines that make you sleepy, because they can make it harder for you to breathe. Some people with mild OSA find it helpful to sleep on their sides instead of their backs, Jison says.

The second and most common treatment is a CPAP machine. CPAPs use mild air pressure to keep your airways open. They have three main parts:

• A mask that fits over your nose or nose and mouth, with straps to hold it in place.
• A tube that connects the mask to the machine's motor.
• A motor that blows air into the tube.

Mary Weick-Brady, M.S., R.N., senior policy analyst at FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), says manufacturers are improving and refining CPAPs to make them easier and more comfortable to use. "They're getting smaller, more portable, and quieter," she says. The hoses are easier to extend and retract and less intrusive to the person using the device. But, Brady adds, CPAPs are only effective if you use them properly every night. That means making sure you have a correct fit, keeping the equipment clean, and working with your physician or respiratory therapist to make sure the air flow settings are correct.

CPAP devices can have unpleasant side effects, such as a dry or stuffy nose, irritated skin from the mask and straps, and headaches. "It takes patience, perseverance and a willingness to work with your physician or respiratory therapist," Brady says.

There are no drugs that are approved by the FDA to treat sleep apnea.

Ronald Farkas, M.D., Ph.D., at FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation, says that doctors sometimes prescribe drugs that promote wakefulness such as Provigil and Nuvigil for patients suffering from the daytime sleepiness caused by sleep apnea—but that these drugs do not treat the nighttime breathing problem.

Moreover, Farkas recommends that if you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are taking other medications, you should let your doctor know what those medications are. "A number of drugs can actually make sleep apnea worse, including many for insomnia, anxiety or severe pain," he says.

Source: FDA

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Fix That Foundation: Spending Some Now Can Save Thousands Later

January 9, 2013 4:02 am

Most homeowners have a long list of things to get done around the house. However, very few are more important than making sure the residence foundation is in good shape and not threatened by issues that are easy to fix.

After the purchase of the house itself, one of the biggest expenses, especially in terms of out-of-pocket costs the homeowners may incur, is foundation repairs. Taking a pro-active approach to caring for the residence's foundation is economical, and the pay-off can be tremendous.

1. Homeowners should check the drainage around their residence by making sure gutters and spouts drain away from the foundation.

2. Plumbing leaks under the house foundation are not uncommon. The homeowner can have a plumbing pressure test done to make sure there are no leaks under the slab.

3. The ground moisture around the home's perimeter should remain as constant as possible. A periodical use of a sprinkler system and soaker hoses in the summer time is recommended, but can also be done in the winter time if the weather is dry.

If homeowners are pressed for time, they can contact any reputable foundation repair company to have an inspection conducted inside and outside the house. Most of the solutions are affordable and extremely important to the well-being of the structure.

Source: www.premierfoundationrepair.com

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Important Tips for Seeking Senior Housing

January 8, 2013 4:02 am

People are living longer today. The century-long expansion in the world’s population that is 65 and older is the product of dramatic advances in medical science and healthy lifestyles. Currently, 13 percent of the U.S. population is 65 and older, up from 4 percent in 1900. As Baby Boomers turn 65 in higher and higher annual numbers, it is estimated that one in five Americans will be over age 65 and about 5 percent over 85. All this calls for growing care and services for the elderly population and pre-planning for lifestyles in the future.

The senior housing industry has been growing dramatically over the last 15 years as many adult children are now in the workforce and unable to provide the attention to their parents’ needs, whether physical or social. There are a number of things to be considered when choosing lifestyle alternatives.

-Location. Keeping your parents close to home should not be the number one consideration. Although it is important that the community be convenient for family and friends to visit, being close to amenities they need and trust will make their senior living experience rewarding and more fulfilling.

-Type of community. Visiting to make sure the current residents have similar interests, backgrounds and values will allow for a more enriching life in the golden years. Many communities invite prospective residents to tour their community and enjoy lunch with the community, which is a wonderful way to ascertain if the culture is a fit. Many communities offer a weekend stay to experience more fully what the community has to offer.

-Staff. Is the staff appropriately dressed, personable and outgoing? Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner? Does the staff call residents by name and interact warmly? The answers to these questions will determine quite a bit toward whether the community is right for your loved one.

-Medical needs. Does the community have on-site medical supervision? If not, is there an agency that is associated with the community that can help when needed?

Finding and choosing a housing option for an aging loved one can be a difficult process. Be sure to keep seniors' needs as your top priority in order to find a community that properly suits them.

Source: Alternatives for Seniors

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Keep Those Resolutions Intact Using Travel as Your Inspiration

January 8, 2013 4:02 am

Ok, we admit it: resolutions are really hard to keep. Each new year we create a list of things to start doing and come February, most are out the window. Whether you're looking to lose weight, learn something new or just find that happy balance, there are ways to help make those resolutions stick. If you love to travel, use it as an incentive and pair some popular resolutions with destinations that will help you keep those promises.

Resolution: Eat healthier food.
Destination: Tokyo, Japan. This is a country with high life expectancy and low levels of obesity. Not surprising considering the local cuisine is also low in cholesterol and packed with nutrition. In Japan, the presentation is equally important, so expect dishes so beautiful you'll relish every bite. For a foodie, this culinary experience is a life-changer.

Resolution: Learn a new language.
Destination: Barcelona, Spain. While there are more languages to learn than we could possibly imagine, learning Spanish is a great investment simply because of its popularity in North America. As one of the most spoken languages in the world, this is a helpful skill for any global traveler. Head to this romantic city, bask in the sunshine and exercise your hola's!

Resolution: Spend more time with family and friends.
Destination: Ontario, Canada. It can be hard to wrangle together all your loved ones at once, so staying semi-close may be the best route to take. Winter or summer is ideal because of the range of activities from canoeing to snowshoeing, but you could easily spend a few days getting cozy by the fireplace with some board games and movies too.

Resolution: Quit smoking or drinking.
Destination: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. As of last year, this country now has one of the strictest smoking regulations in the world. This makes it more difficult for lighting up, but helpful for those looking to kick their habits. If your vice was in liquid form, forget the bourbon and get your buzz by being active instead. When you're surrounded by rainforest and ocean, there is no shortage of exciting things to see and explore and you'll be so busy you won't notice that you haven't indulged.

Resolution: Get more exercise.
Destination: Amsterdam, Netherlands. This country is one of the most bicycle-friendly places to be with loads of bicycle lanes and a flat landscape. No surprise then that bicycling is one of the most popular methods of transport. So ditch the taxi, rent a bicycle and tour the city on two wheels. With so much to see, you'll barely notice the extra effort and your physique will reap the rewards...just leave the clogs behind.

Resolution: Figure out the finances.
Destination: Zurich, Switzerland. While the country is often associated with skiing, chocolate, cheese and watches, its largest city is famous around the world for the high quality of life and its sheltering financial sector. A trip here can inspire you to work hard to attain life's luxuries, and if that doesn't pan out you can always open one of their famous bank accounts!

Resolution: Better manage stress.
Destination: Mumbai, India. In this spiritual country, the ancient practice of yoga is very popular and although it continues to gain momentum all around the world, with a visit to Mumbai you can get closer to where it all started. Plan a trip to The Yoga Institute, which is the oldest organized center of yoga in the world, and open yourself up to new experiences and a more relaxed state of mind. Namaste.

Regardless of your resolution, there is a destination that'll help support your goals. You're working hard, so it's important to give yourself a little something to look forward to. Resolve to start planning that 2013 trip now!

Source: Hotels.com

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Americans Continue to Expect Growth in Home Prices

January 8, 2013 4:02 am

Consumer confidence in the housing sector grew last month, marked by continued positive attitudes toward home price, rental price, and mortgage rate expectations, according to Fannie Mae’s December National Housing Survey results. The growing belief held by Americans that these housing indicators will climb in 2013 may inspire a boost in home purchase activity during the coming months. However, while consumers seem confident that housing activity is on the rise, their outlook toward the economy and personal finances appears to have resumed a more unsettled trend following a show of optimism in November.

"The highest share of consumers in the survey’s two-and-a-half-year history expects home prices to increase in the next 12 months. This view is consistent with Fannie Mae's expectation that home prices will rise going forward on a national basis. Combined with consumers’ growing mortgage rate and rental price increase expectations, the positive home price outlook could incentivize those waiting on the sidelines of the housing market to buy a home sooner rather than later and thus support continued housing acceleration,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae.

Survey Highlights:

Homeownership and Renting

• The average 12-month home price change expectation jumped to 2.6 percent, the highest level since the survey’s inception in 2010.
• At 43 percent, the share that believes home prices will go up in the next 12 months reached the highest level recorded, up 6 percentage points over November.
• The percentage that thinks mortgage rates will go up continued to rise, increasing by 2 percentage points to 43 percent, the highest level since August 2011.
• Twenty-one percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell, a 2 percentage point decrease from last month’s record high, but a 10 percentage point increase year over year.
• At 4.4 percent, the average 12-month rental price expectation hit the highest level since the survey’s inception, up 0.4 percent over last month.

Source: Fannie Mae

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Windows for Sustainable Homes

January 7, 2013 4:02 am

Windows are one of the most important features of a home. They contribute to exterior curb appeal, let in light, provide a view and enhance interior ambiance. However, older windows are notorious for losing heat, causing drafts, allowing in noise and having condensation problems throughout the winter. Fortunately, whether you are replacing existing windows or considering window options for a new home, you have the choice of many features that can save on your heating and air-conditioning bills while keeping your home more comfortable.

Frame material and window type are often among the first considerations when choosing new windows. Window frames are typically wood, vinyl or fiberglass and each has a range of benefits. Some hollow core frames contain foam insulation to boost energy performance. The way a window opens also affects its energy performance. Fixed windows - ones that do not open - can have the best energy performance as they have no moving parts that leak air. Casement windows that open and close like doors can be closed and firmly latched providing a relatively airtight seal.

Consider triple pane windows instead of the more conventional double panes. They tend to be more common in colder areas. Buy windows that use insulating spacers between the panes. Spacers provide an insulating air space between the glass panes in multi-pane windows. If your window has a conductive spacer, such as aluminum, the glass near the spacer will not only lose more heat during the winter, it will more likely have condensation problems that can lead to moisture damage on and around the window and mold growth. Fortunately, insulating spacers are readily available that can cut heat losses around the edge of the windows dramatically.

Beyond keeping the heat in during the winter and out during the summer, high performance energy efficient windows can also perform as solar collectors. By allowing solar energy from the sun into the house during the winter, windows can offset a large part of your home heating bill. The location and size of windows also affects the amount of solar gains your home can capture. More windows on the south side and fewer on the north is the general rule but too many south facing windows can overheat rooms - even in winter. If you are building a new home, consult with a designer knowledgeable in passive solar design strategies.

Even the most energy efficient windows can have their performance undermined by poor installation. In the past, it was common to find fiberglass stuffed into the gap between the window and the wall. However, compressed fiberglass is not a good insulator and air can still leak through it. Also, if it gets wet, it has a hard time drying out. Spray-in insulating foams can do a much better job of both insulating and air sealing around windows.

As windows are a long-term investment, it can make sense to buy windows with the highest thermal and solar heat gain performance you can afford. This will help protect you against rising home heating and cooling costs over time. Investing in good frames and hardware can also make sense because when, decades down the line, the window seals fail and fog up, you may be able to simply replace the glass units rather than the whole window assembly.

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

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Smart Substitutions

January 7, 2013 4:02 am

(Family Features) When you’re hungry and pressed for time, it’s tempting to swing through the drive-thru or order takeout. But while these seemingly convenient choices save you time, they might cost you in calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Here are some easy ways to make smart substitutions throughout the day that are also time-saving.

Breakfast: Eating breakfast starts your day off right and helps you control hunger.
-Save up to 300 calories by substituting a doughnut or danish with a small English muffin and a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter. You’ll also get the added benefit of protein, which gives you energy to start the day.

-Be mindful of what you add to your morning coffee. Your on-the-go 16-ounce latte could contain as much as 330 calories, 13 grams of fat and 40 grams of sugar, and could be costing you. Substitute with a 12-ounce cup of coffee with skim or soy milk, a pinch of cinnamon and a natural sweetener like honey.

Lunch: You can enjoy a satisfying, convenient and smart meal whether you’re at home, work or out to eat.
-If you can, avoid full-calorie pizzeria pizza and look for lower-fat, thin-crust pizza options. The blend of reduced fat cheeses with a zesty tomato sauce on a crispy-thin crust will give you 8 grams of whole grains and has 300 calories – compared to the 440 calories from the standard takeout slice.

-When you have to have that classic all-beef patty, less is more. Keep it simple and balanced with a whole grain bun, ketchup, lettuce and tomato. If you’re more adventurous, try turkey and veggie burgers for fewer calories and less saturated fat.

Snacks: Snacks can be part of a smart diet – you just have to enjoy the right kinds of snacks in moderation.
-If you’re hungry for something sweet, opt for a low-fat Greek yogurt sweetened with honey, which is much lower in calories than a milkshake, and offers probiotics.

-If you’re craving something salty, try a handful of lightly salted almonds, which are packed with protein and will help you feel satisfied so you won’t be tempted by chips or other salty snacks.

Dinner: Being smart about portion sizes as well as your entrée choices lets you stay on track and enjoy your evening meal.

-Divide up your entrée – either share it with your dining partner, or ask for a to-go box and put half of your food in the container as soon as it arrives. Not only do you get a more appropriate portion, but you also stretch your dining dollar into two meals instead of just one.

Source: www.eatyourbest.com.

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