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A Car Story

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by Russ H, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    MJ- I'm posting this under general business b/c this had such an extraordinary effect on how I ran my business (and life). If you think it's too far off topic, please, feel free to move it to another more suitable forum. :) -Russ

    A Car Story

    When I was in my 20s, I lusted after the Lamborghini Countach (hey, it was the 1980s).

    Sure, I loved the lines of the Ferrari 308 (and watched Magnum PI drive it around Hawaii every week), but when it came right down to it, I just flat out *loved* looking at the Countach. To me, it was like a space ship with four wheels.

    So, being the enterprising and creative soul that I am (and modest, too ;) ), I mapped out a plan to own a Countach. I could work more hours (I was in sales), and put away enough $$ to buy a Countach in just a few years--- provided I scrimped, saved, ate Top Ramen, and lived in a house trailer.

    Since I was eating Top Ramen and living in a house trailer at the time, thinking this way was no big stretch for me. :smug2:

    As I began my quest for the Countach, I'd dream about how cool I'd look, how much fun I'd have driving it, and the engineer/accountant side of me worked on the numbers, including a budget for things like tires and service, 'cause there was no use in having this car if I couldn't afford to *drive* it!

    I would fantasize about driving around in the car, a hot lady sitting next to me, and everyone we passed looking on with envy. I loved this dream. As I thought more about all of the great times I would have in the car, I started to think about gas, good roads, and great weather (all necessary for my optimal enjoyment of the Countach).

    Then something strange happened: I started to question just why-- or more precisely--*what* it was about the Countach that was so attractive to me. Was it the speed? The handling? It's ability to draw members of the opposite sex like moths to a flame?

    The more I thought about this, the less I knew the answer.

    To determine what my real motivation was, I'd imagine having the Countach, but remove *part* of the dream, and see if it still had the same "hubba-hubba" factor for me.

    At first, I imagined what having the car would be like, but not being able to drive it (needing a good mechanic, or bad roads, or snow, or . . .). This was a deal-breaker. I told myself that I wanted the car purely for the enjoyment of owning it and driving it.

    So I imagined my next scenario: Owning the Countach, free and clear, with perfect weather, perfect roads, and perfect driving conditions. I could drive anywhere I wanted, with a perfectly reliable car, and get all the gas I wanted (hey, it's a dream, remember?).

    This dream was fun, but it was boring. Where were all the people, ogling my car?

    I could have all of those great, perfect driving things, but I would be the only person left in the world. There would be no hot mama on the seat next to me. No drooling bystanders. No kids looking on with slack-jawed awe. Just me. . . and my car, driving wherever we wanted.

    Any you know what happened when I imagined this version of driver's nirvana?

    Much of my interest in the Countach evaporated.

    < POOF! >

    I no longer wanted the car.

    At all.

    This was a shock to me.

    I mean, here I had thought I was buying this exotic sports car to drive. But when I imagined doing just that---with no one else around to see it (or me)-- much of the thrill was gone.

    What did that mean?

    As I thought more and more about this over the next few days, I realized that my lust for the car had little to do with driving. But it had lots to do with what other people thought of me as the owner. Buying the Countach was my ticket to status, respect, and sexy ladies. Never mind that I was living in a trailer eating Ramen noodles. I had a Countach!

    Once I realized that my love for the Countach was based more on what others would think of me, the Countach lost much of its appeal. It seemed silly to work so hard, and devote my entire life, to buying and driving something because of what others would think of me.

    That realization has changed my life.

    Now, whenever I want something, I ask myself: "Would I still want this if I were the last guy on earth? What if there was no one else around to see me and this new toy?"

    It's surprising how many times my desire for the new doodad diminshes-- or even vanishes-- when I ask myself these questions.

    So what started with a shiny new $150,000 car has extended to my entire life: Where I live, what I eat, what I drive, and the people I hang out with (*especially* the people I hang out with).

    Sometimes the best gift you can give yourself is the realization that you don't need something.

    That you already have what you need, and want.

    That's been my key to happiness.

    And success. It allows me to focus my energies and goals on business and wealth-building, instead of impressing others.

    -Russ H.

    Update (22 years later):

    I no longer live in a trailer (was doing that and the Ramen to save money for investing).

    Last month, my least expensive house was appraised at $650,000. I have 3 others, worth 1.2, 2.5, and 3.75 million. All are money-earners except the house I live in.

    I still love cars. I own 3 classic convertibles, a MBZ, and an old 4X4 I love, plus a newer truck and '06 convertible. Paid cash for all of 'em.

    And while I tend to eat out a lot (part of why I moved to the Napa Valley), I still do love those ramen noodles! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  2. andviv
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    andviv Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Russ, this is a great post. I just hope it does not become in a "my car is better than yours" or "I love cars" thread, as it happened before.

    Something similar happened to me with some of my "dreams". For example, while in college my dream was to be CEO of a big company, having a company car and driver, and all the perks related to it. The real reason for that dream was the impact that used to had in me the business magazines covers with pics of people like Dell, Coca Cola, HP, GE CEOs. When I started thinking quietly about it I came to realize I wanted it so I could be admired and famous for leading a big company, not because I really wanted to enjoy the lifestyle they could had. At the end of the day, most of the CEOs are just high-paid employees, and my real admiration is for the entrepreneurs that created the businesses.

    Later in life I got introduced in REI and my focus changed, but I still deeply admire the entrepreneurs that create big companies practically out of thin air.

    Again, great post!!!
     
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  3. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Thanks, Andviv.

    I hope this doesn't turn into an "I love cars" thread either.

    I'm hoping that this thread sparks some inner reflection and contemplation-- asking "why do I want this, really?".

    Because the answer to that question has allowed me to focus on what truly IS important.

    -Russ H.
     
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  4. AroundTheWorld
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    AroundTheWorld Be in the Moment Speedway Pass

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    Material World

    As our lives become more comfortable, there seems to be a shift in our thinking.... suddenly the "wants" become the "needs" and new "wants" fill in the void that was left.

    I loved your story, Russ because it is really about looking at your values, priciples, and motivators. If you can strip it down to that and trash all that fluff you thought was important - you are left with your "true path" or "calling."
     
  5. AJGlobal
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    AJGlobal Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Great story. I too always dreamed of owning the Lambo when I was a kid which probably why I have one now. I did it for the reason of fulfilling a dream and fell in love with cars in general along the way. The one thing I never stop doing or have stopped doing however along the way was to think that I already have what I want, I know already have what I need. For me personally if I ever start to think that I have everything I want then my motivation factor seems to fade away. I'm a firm believer of being able to see what I want in your mind and then believing in it 100%. Anything I've ever though about alongs those lines with that much passion has always ended in giving me exactly what I wanted, no matter what it is, tangible or not tangible. Of course yo have to work for it and it can be a process that is as quick as thinking about it and having it happen with a few days, or it could take a few year......ultimatly we are the ones who put the time constraints on when we will recieve what we want.
     
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  6. SuperVixen
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    SuperVixen PARKED

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    I live in San Francisco. There is a lot of money here. One thing I learned about money and cars prior to my current job in exotic cars sales, is that many people with lots of money, don't look the part. At least out here. I dated a guy who had a 10 million dollar home on Atherton Avenue in Atherton in 2002. He drove a Saab 9-3, wore Reeboks, and dressed almost like a bum. If you saw him on the street you wouldn't think, that guy has money. But he did. He had lots of nice comforts in life, but aside from his house and gadgets, he wasn't flashy. Sometimes it's nice to be understated and realize that our toys are not what give us value. It's nice to be able to afford them, yet not be impulsive and buy them. I wish I wasn't so car driven.
     
  7. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I really believe that about most of the ultra-rich. Outside of my 1 flashy car (and my home) you'd never guess that I was doing pretty good. I don't shave, I don't wear Nordstrom's clothes, I don't have a $50K watch, and I still shop at the same places I shopped at 10 years ago. My daily driver car is an 06 Toyota Truck.

    Yes, I still even go to the Savers store (Thrift shop, 2nd hand store) to buy t-shirts and workout clothes that I can trash - of course, I don't pull into the parking lot with a Lamborghini as that would cause a disruption in the space-time-continuum.

    Living rich to me is having the ability to choose. I can choose to buy a $400K car. I can choose to buy a $50K watch. I can choose to fly privately versus sitting in the economy class. I love having the choice. However having vs doing are two different things.

    As for the car, years ago I would have agreed that my purchase of it was to say "I did it" or "nah nah nah" to other people.

    However, nowadays -- I get pure pleasure from driving AND desire to be AWAY from people. I don't take my car out on Friday or Saturday nite as its too much of a drama queen -- questions, pictures, idiots trying to race -- its like being famous. I take my car out early in the morning when no one is around. I don't want to be seen. I want to enjoy my driving experience ALONE when no one is around. In fact, I can say that "other people" have eroded my driving pleasure because they are such pains-in-the-asses to be in traffic.

    I get the full driving pleasure/experience out of my car when I can drive it alone, on a street with no other cars. I prefer to be in a vacuum. So Russ, I think what you say is true for most people -- but having driven "obnoxious" cars for so long, that motive, at least for me, has disappeared.

    I get driving pleasure much like someone might get pleasure from hunting, or rollerblading.
     
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  8. ProInvestor
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    ProInvestor New Contributor

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    Ironically it seems the richer one get the less one wants to be noticed.....
     
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  9. AJGlobal
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    AJGlobal Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    This is true on some levels. It depends on what your motives are.
     
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  10. 8 SNAKE
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    8 SNAKE Contributor

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    Yes, people like Trump would be at the opposite end of this spectrum. The attention that they seek helps to drive their businesses because they've made themselves into brands.
     
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  11. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    AJ, MJ, and SuperV-

    Good points. My "Dream car" when I was in HS was a Porsche 924 (yeah, I know, small dreams ;) ). My best friend and I both loved the sleek looks (most aerodynamic production car at the time), and I liked the fact that it had a lot of VW/Audi in it (since my family had a VW bus that we'd traveled all over Europe in, and I just dig Vee-Dubs).

    I've loved cars my whole life.

    When I was in college, I had an old Buick (gas tank leaked and the alternator never worked). I remember coming out of my apt early, early one morning and seeing an incredible car parked in front, on the street. It was clearly a Porsche, but more muscular and sexier than the 924. I had heard rumors about this upgrade to the 924 (the 944), but did not know that it was available in the US yet (it wasn't-- but I'll get to that in a minute).

    As I walked around the car, I peeked inside, got down on my hands and knees and looked at the undercarriage, and just plain enjoyed circling the car, viewing it from all angles. It was red (what my friends called "arrest me red"), and the interior was tan.

    What a beauty!

    As I drove to work, I puzzled over how this car could be parked in front of my building.

    I should explain that, growing up in Detroit, it's easy to become a car nut. There are literally thousands of people who live in the area who are *very* into cars.

    When I came back home that day, it was gone. I saw it briefly the following day, and then it disappeared.

    I found out later that it was the car Porsche sent over for EPA testing. And since I lived in Ann Arbor (where Car & Driver mag was located at the time), once the EPA was done with a new model, the C&D folks would take it for a "first impressions" drive.

    How was I to know that one of the C&D staffers lived in my tiny apt building?

    I still remember that day.

    My first "cool" car (at least for me) was a 924 that needed work. I eventually sold it and got a 944 from one of my clients as partial payment for work I'd done for him.

    I spent a good deal of my time--and money--in cars, as a young adult. I just couldn't help it. Working on a car for me is like therapy-- it relaxes me, and lets me dream.

    Had I not had the "A-HA!" moment with the Countach, I'd probably own an exotic today.

    At the very least, I'd still be working on project cars.

    But here's the thing:

    My greatest joy from cars comes from driving them, alone or with a friend, on open roads. Four wheel drifting a small convertible is still a major joy for me.

    And as much as I absolutely *love* to work on them (interiors especially), I realized that this passion was taking me away from my primary focus (to get financially free).

    So I gave up working on cars.

    Still own a few. ;)

    But these I spend most of my waking hours (and some of my dream time) on making money.

    I do still take a drive with the top down. Relaxes me.

    -Russ H.
     
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  12. FT1
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    FT1 New Contributor

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    Were you a Pioneer or a River Rat?
    :D
     
  13. Sehcill
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    Sehcill Contributor

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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     
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  14. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    FT1-

    Went to HS on the east side of Dee-troit.

    (was a blue devil)

    Went to U of M (go blue!)

    Although I must confess to not being much of a spectator, sports wise.

    I prefer doing to watching someone else doing. :banana:

    -Russ H.
     
  15. Yankees338
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    Yankees338 Bronze Contributor

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    My brother currently goes to U of M! :cheers: :thumbsup:
     
  16. michael515
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    Great Post...

    It's surely wild when we get to the bottom of the "why" we do what we do...

    I've come to realize that my dream of making money is more about freedom than anything else. I don't care much about possessions and think cars are actually a pain in the a-- (I live in the snowy north US). Please, no offense to anyone here. To each his/her own.

    My thing is lifestyle - doing not having. I enjoy challenge, projects, unknown possibilities, etc. associated with work and have resolved that I'd work my entire life because I'd get bored otherwise.

    Then I'd get to asking - doing what??? Most times I came to the answer - not this :tdown:.. So that brings me to today. It's lifestyle for me. Maybe for all of us deep down huh?

    I don't mind "working" alot but it's gotta be something I like and setup in a way I want to conduct business. I think I have a tremendous aversion to the structure of a 9-5 with useless meetings, boring routines, and office politics - even if I could make a bunch of dough.

    Living in Thailand for a month, visiting Machu Pichu, or living in Spain for 3 months gets my wheels turning. Who knows, maybe I'm in an adventurous traveler stage in life. :banana:

    Great to hear some deeper reasons for seeking a life as an entrepreneur...

    Cheers,

    Michael
     
  17. FT1
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    FT1 New Contributor

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    Ahh an eastsider... My wife grew up on the westside and graduated from U of M in the early 90's. I'm an E.M.U. Alum...
     
  18. nomadjanet
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    nomadjanet Contributor

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    Simply amazing how we need less when we have more.
    Wealth is the freedom to choose what you want when you want it and yet you want less how great is that?
    Anyway stuff is annoying spending money on travel is my indulgence.
     
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  19. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    bump.
     
  20. kimberland
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    kimberland Bronze Contributor

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    I had a more hands on life changing experience
    while I was in high school
    (I'm not as bright as Russ - don't think these things out before hand).

    I was involved in a start up of the student paper.
    My articles did so well,
    the local weekly newspaper hired me on
    to cover school events.
    That did so well,
    I got a column in a regional daily
    (covering local news especially town politics).

    With that, I got a headshot
    and my first (and hopefully last) brush with fame.

    Suddenly everyone in the region recognized me.
    They wanted to talk to me,
    a shy 16 year old.
    I'd go into the drugstore to buy tampons
    (embarrassing enough for a teenage)
    and people would crowd around me,
    asking if so and so really said such and such.

    Friends didn't want to talk to me
    in case I quoted them (I never did).
    They didn't want to hang out with me in public
    because their parents would find out
    exactly what they were doing.
    Other people would become my 'friend'
    and then get ticked because
    I didn't mention them in stories.

    I decided then and there
    that being famous was SO not what I wanted.

    Thankfully,
    writers don't get recognized.
    Even Stephen King boots around unnoticed.
     
  21. fanocks2003
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    fanocks2003 Banned

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    So many things we think we need, that we really don't want in the end.

    Personally, I don't have any trouble whatsoever with going with a bus. In Sweden we have very great buses. Comfortable buses too:). And if you want to celebrate, hire a limo for a night or two and have fun. Rest of the time, enjoy, no car mortgage or car expenses whatsoever. A good nights sleep is worth a lot. Low fixed expenses gives that luxury.

    If you wanna go with a Lamborghini, Ferrari etc find someone who has one and hire it for a day and get your itch fixed;). Seems less like a hassle. For me at least.

    I rather have temporary expenses than fixed ones. The fixed ones are those that make your life a living hell. Especially in times when your private economy is not that good (happens to all of us from time to time).
     
  22. msa1
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    Thats a great story and something that i'm trying to teach my kids. if I may, i'll tell one of my stories.


    Birthday Money.

    My kids always want to run to the toy store the day after their birthday to "buy something". I prefer they save the money but i'm not militant on the issue. When we were at the toy store I noticed my kids not running to something they had wanted for along time but instead just searching for "something" because they had the cash.

    This got me thinking back to when I was young.

    When I got birthday money we were always brought to the store to buy "something".
    We would get our toy, take it home, and (I guess) destroy it and move on.

    I cant remember one thing that I bought with birthday money, not one thing. I do however remember the little motor I bought for my lego kits.

    I worked for 1/2 a summer to save up for that motor and I have never forgotten about it.

    The moral to my kids is that if you really want something than go ahead (within reason) and buy it, but dont simply spend money cause you have it.

    My kids have on average $100/ year of their life in the bank, so I guess its sinking in.
     
  23. Colbehh
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    Colbehh New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I had a moment like that oddly enough not too long ago about the same thing.

    I was sitting there thinking, "Why do I like them so much?" I found out as well it was mostly for the attention (though, I do LOVE the sound of V10s and V12s).

    Myself, I think I'm much more of a Grand Touring type car kinda guy. I think that's why I love the BMW M6 so well :hl:
     
  24. Rawr
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    Rawr Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Bump.

    Russ, could you elaborate on "especially, people" part - as in "would I hang out with this person if there was no one else to see us hanging out" ? I find this at times, being around people who have status, but really aren't much joy to be around... it no fun.
     
  25. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Rawr,

    When it comes to family stuff, I hang out w/folks who don't care about my money. They care about being good parents and spending quality time w/their kids. We talk about parent stuff. And wine (hey, it's the wine country).

    When it comes to fun for me stuff, I hang out w/fellow successful businesspeople. They don't care about my money, either. They care about *their* money.

    Hanging out with peeps who care about *your* money is a sure-fire way to wake up one morning and find you don't have any money, anymore.

    The money friends all go away then.

    Given the thread about buying a car on the forums, I figured this would be a good time to bump this thread to the top.

    :banana:

    -Russ H.
     
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