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Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 215-429-7273
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Fax: 267-354-6992 
petecerruti@yahoo.com
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Peter Cerruti

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Real Estate Deal Breakers

July 12, 2013 6:52 am

Home sellers in today's market should know that plenty of buyers with good credit are simply being cautious. Though this tends to keep sales down, in most areas it’s still a buyer’s market and people can afford to be picky.

"Most buyers in this market will try to re-negotiate based on the findings of their home inspection. If the seller is unwilling to make repairs or lower the price, they walk away," says Kathleen Kuhn, president and CEO of HouseMaster. “More and more home sellers are getting a pre-listing home inspection that helps identify potential deal-breaking issues before the house is listed on the market,” Kuhn continues.

"This way, sellers can fix problems and worry less about a buyer walking away later in the deal process."

According to Kuhn, the following are "The Fearsome Four" when it comes to real estate deals:

Roofing Concerns: A new homeowner does not want the expense of roof replacement shortly after closing. Many sellers believe that if their roof is not leaking, it is in acceptable condition. However, underlying issues can exist.

Electrical Problems: Some panel models were discontinued and might even pose a fire hazard. Although they are straightforward to replace, the potential fire risk can be scary for prospective buyers.

Structural Issues: Fortunately, major structural issues are the least common defect found in homes, but when they do occur, they can be costly to repair. Note that a professional home inspector won’t assess the extent of repairs needed when these conditions are found. Structural engineers and other professionals should be consulted to get specifics on the scope of repairs needed.

Synthetic Stucco or Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS): Overall EIFS can be effective, economical alternatives to traditional stucco. Unfortunately, installation issues often lead to trapped moisture behind the siding, causing mold and extensive deterioration. In many cases the siding has to be replaced, often with a different type of siding that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Sellers lose some advantage when they are caught off guard by issues, including minor ones. Sellers can use tools like pre-listing home inspections and repair records to show that they are conscientious and have taken appropriate steps to sell responsibly and competitively.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Clean Up with These Helpful Kitchen Tips

July 12, 2013 6:52 am

(Family Features)--So much of life happens in the kitchen – from hurried morning breakfasts to after-school snacks with the kids – it’s likely to be the most travelled room of the home.

Unfortunately, all this activity in one room can cause many messes and much required upkeep. By following a few simple steps, you can keep this important space tidy, clean and smelling great.

Here are some simple tips to keep your kitchen clean and inviting:

Add Some Citrus
Does your garbage disposal have an uninviting stench? Here’s one simple solution – use orange or lemon peels to freshen the drain or disposal. Simply run cool water from your faucet, turn on the disposal, throw in the peels and take in the fresh citrus scent. This is a perfect way to use old fruit that is no longer good enough to eat.

Make Dishes Sparkle
Dirty plates, pots, pans, glasses and utensils pile up quickly in busy kitchens. Get dishes sparkling clean with a dish liquid that leaves your hands feeling soft. In a recent survey conducted by Kelton, 33 percent of those who wash dishes by hand said their skin is usually dry afterwards.

Keep Up With Countertops
The kitchen countertop is the easiest place to collect a mess so it’s important to keep it tidy. Because so many countertops are made with fine woods, stones and other specialty materials, it is important to know what cleaning products you can use on them so they keep their beautiful appearance. In general, avoid abrasive cleaners and never use steel wool or other harsh brushes which can scratch the surface. Invest in protectors such as trivets for hot cookware, or trays for oil bottles and other cooking items that keep permanent residence on countertop space.

Love Your Oven
Ovens are often the most neglected appliance in the kitchen. Open them up to find baked-on spills, burnt-on food, as well as splatters covering the exterior. Be sure you’re giving your oven the maintenance it needs by cleaning it at least once each season. Whether you’re using a homemade cleaning concoction or a heavy-duty store-bought brand, it is important to scour every nook and cranny. Also, give attention to the range top and ensure all extra food debris has been removed and cleaned.

Source: www.palmolive.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Look for Signs of Early Aging to Combat Mid-life Crisis in Cats

July 9, 2013 6:26 pm

While humans age visibly throughout their lives, cats typically do not begin to show visible signs of aging until well into maturity. By the age of seven though, a cat enters its mid-life stage — a critical timeframe for preventing diseases to help a cat age gracefully.

"Different aged adult cats may essentially look the same on the outside, but around seven years old a lot of changes start happening that may not be noticeable," says Dr. Sara Ritzie, Veterinarian and Manager of Scientific Communications at Royal Canin Canada. "The differences between a young kitten and a one-year-old cat are obvious, but the invisible and subtle differences that occur as cats progress through adulthood are just as important. The mid-life stage starts much earlier than many people may expect."

Cats exhibit three very distinct levels of aging as they mature. Invisible symptoms of the slow aging process in cats actually begin as early as seven years old, as cells age and energy needs decrease. Accelerated visible symptoms begin to take shape during the mid-life stage and can include joint sensitivities and fur changes, such as dandruff, decreased grooming and greasy coat.

At the second stage of aging, kidney disease becomes more prevalent, affecting nearly 33 per cent of cats over 12 years old. At this stage other diseases start to manifest but may not be visible until much later in life, including cognitive disorders in 28 to 50 per cent of cats, and joint sensitivities that affect nearly 90 per cent of the cat population.

"It is critical to look at preventative options at the mid-life stage for cats to prevent these diseases and typical signs of aging from taking hold early," says Dr. Ritzie. "Like for humans, nutrition plays a key role in helping cats maintain a healthy lifestyle as they mature with the right combination of nutrients for each stage of life."

Look for a food formulation that provides specific nutrients for each stage of maturity:

• Vitamins E and C - Adult cats require antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C to protect against cell damage that occurs naturally due to environmental factors, injuries and illness, and day-to-day activities.

• Antioxidants - When a cat reaches age seven, antioxidant needs increase. Adding lutein and taurine provides a broader spectrum of protection against free-radical damage that can cause disease.

• Lycopene - Cats aged 12 and over exhibit the highest amount of free-radical production and benefit from potent antioxidant protection from super-nutrients like lycopene. Because kidney disease is so common in aging cats, a decreased phosphorous level is also important to help support renal function in older felines.

"These nutrients are important building blocks to help your cat age gracefully," says Dr. Ritzie.

Source: Royal Canin

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Consumer Mortgage Rate Expectations Spike

July 9, 2013 6:26 pm

Potential homebuyers may enter the purchase market sooner rather than later as more Americans expect mortgage rates and home prices to climb, according to results from Fannie Mae’s June 2013 National Housing Survey. The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up during the next 12 months jumped 11 percentage points to 57 percent, the highest level in the survey’s three-year history. Meanwhile, consumers’ home price expectations have stayed strong in the face of rising mortgage rates. The share of respondents who believe home prices will go up in the next year also hit a survey high of 57 percent, while those who say prices will go down stayed steady at 7 percent.

Although sentiment toward both the current home buying and selling environments retreated slightly, it remains near the survey highs of last month, with 72 percent saying it is a good time to buy and 36 percent saying it is a good time to sell.

“The spike in mortgage rate expectations this month seems to have had an impact on a number of the survey’s indicators and may increase housing activity in the near term by driving urgency to buy,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Consumers may recognize that today’s still favorable mortgage rates and homeownership affordability levels will recede over time. Given rising home and rental price expectations and improving personal financial attitudes, more prospective homebuyers may be deciding that now is the time to get off the fence.”

Among those surveyed, 56 percent say rental prices will go up during the next year – an 8 percentage point increase and the highest level since the survey’s inception – and the average 12-month rental price change expectation jumped 1.2 percent to 4.6 percent. Americans’ outlook on their personal finances also increased significantly in June. The share who expect their personal financial situation to improve during the next year climbed to 46 percent, the highest level since June 2010. The share who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago jumped 6 percentage points to a survey high 26 percent.

Homeownership and Renting

• At 3.8 percent, the average 12-month home price change expectation fell slightly from last month’s survey high.
• The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months hit a survey high 57 percent, while those who say home prices will go down held steady at the survey low 7 percent.
• The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up increased 11 percentage points to 57 percent, the highest level since the survey’s inception.
• At 72 percent and 36 percent, respectively, the shares who say it is a good time to buy a house and who say it is a good time to sell a house both fell 4 percentage points from May’s survey highs.
• The average 12-month rental price expectation jumped to 4.6 percent, a 1.2 percent increase over last month.
• Increasing 8 percentage points from May and reaching a survey high, 56 percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months.
• Forty-seven percent of respondents think it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, a slight increase over last month.
• The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move decreased slightly to 65 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

• At 38 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track decreased 2 percentage points from May.
• The percentage of people who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12 months jumped to 46 percent, the highest level since June 2010.
• The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago rose 6 percentage points to a survey high 26 percent.
• The percentage of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago rose to 36 percent.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Poll Reveals Consumers Confused Over Purpose of a Budget

July 9, 2013 6:26 pm

A recent poll on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website revealed that 57 percent of respondents misunderstand the purpose of a budget, viewing it as a restriction on their spending, when in fact, just the opposite is true.

“A budget actually provides the structure through which a person can be in charge of his or her spending, directing the dollars to their best use,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “Spending should be a reflection of a person’s priorities, but without a plan, the priorities often get pushed aside in favor of the tyranny of the urgent.”

The reluctance to construct a budget suggests that people may be afraid to face the financial facts, choosing instead to allow the most pressing need or want of the moment to make the decision for them. Instead, the NFCC reminds consumers that a spending plan includes the following benefits:

• Creates a thoughtful awareness of spending
• Relieves financial stress
• Increases financial security
• Helps structure a plan for the future
• Allows planning for large purchases
• Assists in meeting financial goals
• Frees up money to designate for savings
• Uncovers money available to invest
• Allows preparation for emergencies
• Avoids late payments through scheduling timely payments
• Finds hidden money for debt repayment
• Potentially raises the credit score

Instead of being restrictive, a budget often creates more money due to smart spending choices. If financial freedom is the goal, a spending plan is the tool that starts the process.

“It’s a shame that budgeting has a negative connotation. Everyone needs a spending plan, but when times are tough, a budget is even more critical,” continued Cunningham. “When every penny counts, it’s important to count every penny.”

The first step to being in charge of your money is to track spending for at least one month. To get started, the NFCC offers a free budget worksheet which is available at http://www.nfcc.org/FinancialEducation/monthlyincome.cfm.

For professional help creating a customized budget, reach out to a trained and certified counselor at an NFCC Member Agency. To find the agency closest to you, call (800) 388-2227, or go online to www.DebtAdvice.org. For assistance in Español call (800) 682-9832.

The actual poll question and answer results are below:
I consider a monthly budget to be…
A. A restriction on how I choose to spend my money = 57%
B. A freedom allowing me to spend my money as I have chosen = 43%

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Top 10 Termite Mistakes

July 8, 2013 10:54 am

Termites. They're hungry. And to them, your house is food. Is there anything you can do to stop them? Can you make your home less appetizing? More than 100 termite experts say these are the top 10 mistakes homeowners make when it comes to termites:

Number 10: Repairing utilities on the property; disrupting the termite soil treatment. If your lawn gets dug up for plumbing, gas or electrical work, chances are good you've compromised your termite treatment if your home has been treated with a liquid termiticide.

Number 9: Piling excessive mulch around the home. Termites love mulch. Too much up against your home holds soil moisture and can be an easy food source for hungry termites.

"The mulch typically used around homes is often a soft wood-like pine, which is a great food source for termites," says Jonathan Schoppe of Dial Pest Control in Roseland, N.J. "I've personally seen termites foraging in and around the mulch just one inch deep. If the mulch is piled very high up on the foundation of a structure, it makes a natural bridge the termites can use to enter the structure."

Number 8: Digging around the home's foundation; disrupting a termite treatment. Liquid termite treatments around your foundation are effective only if left undisturbed. So if you dig around your house to plant a new rosebush, you might have opened a hole for termites to crawl through. If your home is protected by a baiting product such as the Sentricon® System, digging around your foundation isn't a concern as long as the stations stay in place.

Number 7: Leaving old tree stumps in the yard. Dead trees are desirable to termites ─ almost as desirable as your house. Stumps in your yard can serve as a launch pad for an attack on your home.

Number 6: Stacking firewood near the home. If you put firewood up against your house, you might as well also leave out a welcome mat for the termites. They can burrow into the woodpile and then right into your house.

Number 5: Using Do-it-Yourself (DIY) products to try to control termites themselves. Termite control is not like fixing a leaky faucet. Fail to do it right and you and your home will most likely pay the price. This is one time you should leave it to the professionals.

Number 4: Having untreated wooden materials next to the home. Yes, that new fence will keep Fido in your yard, but that untreated wood up against your house also may let termites in. It is best to use treated wood or vinyl fencing, or at least leave a gap between the fence and your home.

Number 3: Constructing additions to the home without expanding termite protection. If you've added a sunroom, expanded your kitchen or poured a new patio, that addition needs to be protected from termites, too. Don't offer up that beautiful new addition as a termite's next meal.

Number 2: Not fixing earth-to-ground structural contact. If a portion of your porch is touching soil, you're asking for termites. Soil + wood contact = termites.

And the No. 1 mistake homeowners make when it comes to termites is: Not getting a professional termite inspection. Termites are not easy to detect, and failing to do so can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Trained professional termite inspectors know termite behavior ─ where they like to hide, what their damage looks like, what they leave behind as evidence. You don't. Leave this one up to the professionals.

Source: Dow AgroSciences

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Secrets to a Foolproof Vacation

July 8, 2013 10:54 am

(Family Features)--Vacations should be filled with worry-free days and endless fun, whether you're zip-lining through the jungle or sunbathing on the beach. Navigating unknown territories, however, can cause unwarranted stress if you're not prepared. As you embark on your perfect getaway, consider these quick tips to ensure that it's a trip to remember, for the right reasons.

Stay Energized. Don't let the journey to your destination dampen the experience and start your dream trip on the wrong foot. Avoid fatigue caused by early flights and long drives by getting at least eight hours of sleep the night before your departure and don't succumb to stress-ridden packing procrastination. While traveling, easy access to sensible snacks, such as string cheese and nuts can keep your energy levels up. For long flights and hotel stays, consider sticking ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help combat distracting noises and bright lights that may detract from a restful sleep.

Stay Connected. Your smartphone, tablet and other portable devices keep you connected and make it easier to engage with the culture and exciting attractions that come with a new destination. Whether you're scouting the hottest restaurants, sourcing directions back to your hotel or keeping up with loved ones at home, being able to access your trusted devices is a must. Don't waste precious sightseeing time searching for outlets. Instead, recharge your devices on-the-go with a tool like the Motorola P4000 Universal Portable Power Pack. Such lightweight and slim devices fit easily into a pocket or purse. It provides up to two full phone charges, plus it's compatible with phones by all manufacturers.

Stay Organized. Avoid spending aimless time digging through your belongings looking for your favorite bathing suit, when you could be enjoying the waves and a beautiful sunset. To stay organized while living out of your luggage, consider investing in a suitcase or duffel bag with multiple zipped compartments designed to house small, hard-to-locate items. Clear toiletry bags are also convenient, and allow you to quickly find your everyday necessities while on the road.

Stay Focused on Fun. It's easy to run out of time when you're exploring a new place. Carve out time for your top priorities by making a pre-trip list of must-do activities. Utilize your hotel concierge, resort guide books and online trip planning websites to help create your perfect itinerary and ensure you get the chance to enjoy it all.

Regardless of your destination, with some planning and essential tools, your vacation will be everything you dreamed of and leave you yearning for your next journey.

Source: www.motorola.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Looking for a Greener Way to Clean your Pool?

July 8, 2013 10:54 am

(BPT) - There's no better way to enjoy the summer than by lounging by the pool. Unfortunately, this backyard family oasis requires regular maintenance throughout the summer that can include expensive and sometimes unhealthy chemicals. Have you ever wished there was an easier way you could clean your pool, that was also more eco-friendly?

Just as there are now "greener" choices for many consumer products, there are now some great alternatives for keeping your pool clean that are easier and actually help minimize chemicals and additives. Technology has come a long way, and consumers can now choose from a variety of affordable and more environmentally friendly ways to maintain their backyard pool.

But how do you choose the right one? Here are some of the best pool-cleaning options available today, along with their pluses and minuses:

Manual pole cleaning: For years this was the standard. Lots of sweat, a hose attached to the skimmer basket on one end, a long vacuum pole on the other and a lot of slow pushing as you try not to disturb the debris before you suck it up into the skimmer and filtration system. This method is cheap and "somewhat green" but involves a lot of effort, and it is not highly effective at reducing your chemical usage.

Suction side pool cleaning: The suction side method is similar to the mechanics of manual pole cleaning except that the cleaner is self-propelled in a random pattern by a suction hose attached to the skimmer system. A completely clean pool is not always achieved due to the random nature of the system.

The pluses: low cost and satisfactory results.
The minuses: the method lacks optimal pool floor and wall scrubbing and does minimal water mixing, leaving stagnant water areas that actually demand more chemicals to stay clean. Suction side cleaners also use more energy as they require your pool's filter pump to run during their cleaning cycle.

Pressure side pool cleaning: These units require an independent booster pump and water jet outlet found on some in-ground pools. Note: This is the only option not available for above-ground pools. Pressure cleaners are propelled by water and are often confused with robotic cleaners, but the differences are important. Pressure cleaners do a good job of cleaning but are costly to buy and run.

The pluses: cleaning capabilities and better water-mixing capabilities than suction side cleaners.
The minuses: pressure cleaners are costly to buy and operate and they use the most energy due to the added booster pump.

Robotic pool cleaning: Advances in robotic pool cleaners are transforming the pool-cleaning industry. Robotic technology has advanced, bringing the price in reach of almost all pool owners. Robotic units can scrub and vacuum pool floors, walls and the waterline and remove more and finer debris (down to two microns in size) to help keep your pool cleaner. Robotic units cost only about 5 cents per hour to run and they provide superior water mixing (up to 85 GPM), substantially reducing the amount of chemicals needed.

The pluses: Just plug the bot into the power supply, place the cleaner in the water and press a button.
The minuses: There are almost too many robotic cleaners to choose from and they are not all alike. One of the most innovative is Aquabot, made by the company that introduced the first robotic cleaner in 1982.

Keeping your pool sparkling clean doesn't have to mean long afternoons of work or extra unnecessary chemicals. Now that there are safer and easier cleaning methods, you'll be able to maintain and enjoy your backyard retreat, and take care of the environment at the same time.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Traveling With Pets

July 7, 2013 10:54 am

As more vacationers hit the road or fly the friendly skies with their four-legged friends, hospitality and tourism operators throughout the U.S. are increasingly catering to travelers with pets. But, there are still several important things they'll need to consider before packing their bags.

• Don't wait until the last minute to make travel arrangements: Planning ahead is the key to success when traveling with pets. Allow enough time (ideally, three-to-six months, at least) to make informed decisions about the best way to get there, where to stay, what to bring, and what to do. Try to avoid any stressful, last-minute surprises, which can really put a damper on the vacation.

• Ask the right questions: The term "pet-friendly" is often widely used in the tourism business, so asking the right questions is essential. Does the hotel or vacation rental company charge additional clean-up fees and deposits for pets? If traveling by air, what are the airline restrictions for pets? Also, when zeroing in on where to stay, ask about what pet-friendly beaches, restaurants, parks, etc. are nearby. Try to take the time to jot down questions in advance before asking them.

• Consult the Internet: Today, there are more options than ever before for consumers traveling with pets. However, more choices also means there are more decisions to make. The good news is that the web offers a plethora of information on all aspects of pet-friendly travel. A few good places to start are BringFido.com, FidoFriendly.com, and the AAA Pet Book.

• Pack smart: Traveling with pets and big, heavy baggage can not only be stressful, but expensive, as well, especially when traveling by air. At the same time, there are certain must-have items when traveling with pets, such as dog bowls, beds, pet food, toys, and crates. Find out in advance if the hotel or other accommodation comes equipped with these necessary things to help avoid over packing. One particular advantage to staying in a pet-friendly vacation home versus a hotel is that it is more likely to come equipped with beds, feeding supplies, etc. for pets.

• Take steps to help keep pets happy and relaxed: Before heading out for a long journey with pets, try to create an environment that will help soothe and relax them. Some travelers even find aromatherapy or essential oils in the crate, such as lavender, to be an effective way to put their pets at ease when confined to a small space.

Source: Luv San Diego Surf

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Five Tips for Effective Retirement Planning

July 7, 2013 10:54 am

Planning for retirement can be a time of great anticipation as well as great anxiety. And, given the current economic climate, many individuals have changed their plans for retirement by either pushing back their retirement date or have considered working part time during their retirement to supplement their fixed incomes.

According to Jim Cantrell, a certified financial planner and owner of Financial Strategies, Inc. in Brookfield, Wis., while some people close to retirement have changed their goals or approach, others simply don't know what to do.

He provides the following five tips to help create a solid financial plan for the future:
  • Know what you are going to do. If you have grandiose thoughts of spending months in exotic destinations, you will need to put a bit more into your retirement fund than if your goal is to do volunteer work and stay close to home. One of the best ways to ensure that your future plans are appropriate for you is to get involved in activities that are of interest before you retire. For example, if you plan to spend your time volunteering, consider giving a few hours a week before retirement to see if this will work with your future plans. Additionally, if relocation is part of your retirement goal, spend time vacationing in the areas you could potentially call your future home.
  • Know your benefits. It is important to talk to your organization's human resources department well before you plan to retire. Consider items such as health insurance, pension and stock options. Each of these things could have a big impact on your finances once you are retired.
  • Diversify your stock options. As you approach retirement, it is important to ensure that you do not have an over concentration of stock positions. Sometimes senior management and upper level executives have a lot of their portfolio tied up in their company; however, once they retire, they will not have the same level of control in the direction the company takes. Having all your eggs in one basket (or a lot of them) is never a good idea, this is why it is important to consider diversifying your investment portfolio.
  • Move to stable investments. As you approach retirement (approximately five to seven years prior), consider shifting your investment portfolio from a higher percentage of equities to less risky, fixed or stable investments. This will make your portfolio a much safer place to go and get your money when you need it.
  • Have a solid plan. How much will you need to put away to live the lifestyle you currently enjoy, or what things do you plan to cut out? Know what you currently have available and what you will need and put it all down in a solid and workable plan. One of the best ways to ensure that you have a solid plan is to meet with a certified financial planning practitioner (a fee-only advisor is recommended) to create a program that meets all your future needs.
Source: Financial Strategies, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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