Eve's Essays II
Adoption: A Temporary or Permanent Human Action?
American Corn Bread or Russian Mamaliga
Turning The Fortune Wheel, or How to Solve Problems
Uniting a Family by Making Siberian Pelmeni
Keep Alaska Free of Trash: Save Our Planet
Preparing for a New Member of the Family:
How to Make People Ready for Adopting a Pet
Free online sources to learn or brush up English.
Eve's Essays (a previous course at the UAF)
Short Essays for Human Relations course
A New Course at the UAF
My course Academic Writing is over. I earned one more "A." Writing essays gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings putting them into English words. And here they are. ^top of the page^
Adoption: A Temporary or Permanent Human Action?
An old Russian parable says.
One family had a father, a mother, a child, and a very old man who was someone's father but the parents forgot whose because the man was so old. Old man's hands were weak and shaking; he could not eat without spilling his soup on the table cloth or breaking a dropped plate. Therefore, the old man ate from an old dog's wooden bowl sitting on the floor in a dark corner. One day when the child was carving something from a piece of firewood, mother asked, "What are you making my sonny?" "I am carving two bowls for you and my father for when you both turn old like this old man."
The mother began to cry.
In the future adults would not cry in if they think carefully about how their children learn from them. The Random House College Dictionary defines, "… [adopt] to accept into or act in accordance with (principle)" (19). Children will adopt the adult's attitude of the outside world and their relationships in their own families. Adoption has many meanings and this action is like a two-way street.
When defining adoption, which is correct-a real life situation or dictionary? Dictionaries accumulate the knowledge of many generations and scientists, so they should reflect real life. They do so, but people use words without taking their real meaning as a way to act.
Preparing my eleven-year-old child to adopt a pet from the Borough Animal Shelter, I tried to explain the meaning of the word "adoption". I wanted him to understand that adoption is permanent and will affect his and his pet's lives for many years ahead. To corroborate my words, I referred to respectable sources. First I opened my son's Webster's Elementary Dictionary which says: "[adopt] to take (a child of other parents) as one's own" (7).
Since adoption in my mind is permanent, I wanted my child to assume that meaning, which is to take care of and be responsible for somebody or something.
I tried to explain to my son that adopting a new pet had long-term consequences and was just as permanent as adopting a child. However, my child said that the dictionary is correct and I am wrong, adoption only applies to humans. Nevertheless, when he signed the document at the Fairbanks Animal Shelter, I pointed to the title of the document-"Adoption Contract." I found evidence to prove that his adoption of a pet was as serious as when his new father adopted him as his child. Our loving preteen wanted to argue that the meaning was the same, so my point was not enough for him.
Knowing that modern youngsters trust Internet sources more than publications or their parents' words, I went to the Internet. Online multi-source dictionary Dictionary.com of Lexico Publishing Group, LLC explained that adoption means "1. To take into one's family through legal means ..." Yes, following the description and our wish, we chose the pet for our family, completed adoption paperwork making the process legal, and took the pet into our home as part of our family.
However, the Contract did not have any statements that we must keep our pet forever. For instance, Paragraph 3 of the agreement says "... If this animal does not work out for any reason, I will return it to the Animal Shelter. Returns ... refunds ...," to which my son immediately pointed out as one more argument on his side. In the Dictionary.com my son found an additional phrase explaining adoption: "2. ... as, the adoption of persons into hospitals or monasteries, or of one society into another." That meant the word adoption can sometimes refer to a temporary action of the act of joining a group, not a family. I again pointed to the name the document "Adoption Contract" and established my arguments with my next source. The Random House College Dictionary defines adoption to include: "to choose or take as one's own ... " (19). We chose the dog and took her as our own pet. Furthermore, Dictionary.com added a strong argument that calmed down our debate: "[adoption is] ... the giving to any one the name and place and privileges of a son who is not a son by birth."
My son did not oppose the idea of pet adoption. In contrast, he chose one dog from dozens of unwanted, homeless animals waiting for adoption in the local pound. We took a dog and a cat into our family as accepted members of the family and believe he feels responsible for their joy of life and health. Our child shares my opinion about family's responsibility for the animals we adopted. He also shares my opinion that agrees with the dictionaries: if we brought the animal into our family, the pet shares space in our home and enjoys the privilege of being a member of our family.
Being a human means humanity towards animals by understanding the differences between human beings and animals and acting as they need care and comfort. Animals are able to feel a human's love. Adopting them, our family gives our pets love and educates them to the level they need to behave properly. Adopting a pet does not mean only providing it with a place to live, food to eat, and a roof over its head. Many families adopt cute little puppies and kittens, but as soon as they grow out of the "cute" stage, the family forgets to love and care for them as members of the family. Our family does not see a conflict between the dictionary explanations of the word "adoption" and how we realize the act of adoption for a child or a pet.
Even though an eleven-year-old child understands the meaning of the word "adoption" and shares the responsibility for the adopted pets, I found an opposite attitude among adults. I reviewed the written comments accompanying animals who were turned back to the Fairbanks Animal Shelter. I was shocked with the number of animals coming into the Shelter with, in many cases, no serious reasons for their return. Even the online Encyclopedia Britannica says that adoption is "... so widely recognized that it can be characterized as an almost worldwide institution with historical roots traceable into antiquity." I understand the phrase not only in its straight meaning but also how people use the word and concept without thinking.
No one encyclopedia or dictionary used the word "adoption" with regards to domestic animals. Why? People domesticated them, brought them into their homes, and treated them like members of their family. They have adopted them. I am sure that encyclopedias and dictionaries are correct. When adopting a child, people understand that they are responsible for the child at least until he or she comes of age. Why not apply the word "adoption" to animals? I think the degradation of morals and ethics by some human beings allows people to use the word without taking responsibility for their contracts with living, breathing animals. Those without moral responsibility should be ready to eat from their wooden bowls in dark corners when they grow old.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2004. 2 Feb. 2004 [http://www.britannica.com]. Path: Search; All Britannica.com; Adoption.
Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Dictionary.com. 2004. 2 Feb. 2004 [http://dictionary.reference.com]. Path: Search; Adoption.
Merriam-Webster. Webster's Elementary Dictionary. Lexington, MA: Ginn and Company, 1982: 7.
Stein, Jess, ed. The Random House College Dictionary. Revised Edition. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1980: 19. ^top of the page^
American Corn Bread or Russian Mamaliga
Our life is unpredictable and keeps ties that may make closer generations and nations. When a small family event happened in my life, I could not guess how far it would go. The story started in WWII when I could not imagine its ending in 2003. This small story made my Russian parents and their childhood in Kazakhstan closer to America and my American husband. This simple story of my family warms my heart.
Many times I heard about Mamaliga from my parents. They described the term as a rare delicacy for children during the World War II. Mamaliga was always mentioned when they talked about their childhood. Their childhood was a tragic time of war filled with sad memories of orphans in a cruel world. When they were ages twelve to fourteen, they remember best those occasional times when they were not hungry or scared. The word "Mamaliga" always lit my parents' faces with a smile.
I asked my mother why she never cooked Mamaliga. She said that she could not find corn meal in a grocery store for many years. I wanted to try this desirable dish, so I made corn meal from corn with a small grinder in December 1999. My father became excited and impatient while I was grinding the corn grains. He could not wait for dinner time.
No other dinners in our family were as ceremonious as our dinner with Mamaliga. My parents looked at me making the corn meal as if I were a wizard. The dinner was special because of the special dish. My Mom and Dad had repeated the story and the recipe of Mamaliga many times. Then, when all ingredients were on the kitchen counter, my Mom began her solemn performance. My father could not wait to try the Mamaliga. He had the table set a long time before dinner was ready. Setting the table was so unusual for my father! He could not sit still in the dining room, so he was banished from the kitchen for interfering there.
Soon the dinner was ready. I brought in a skillet of bacon to the table before the main dish, but father did not look at his favorite bacon. Instead, he kept eyes on the door, waiting. He really looked like a child-impatient, excited, and sitting in the room. With shining eyes he concentrated his attention on the sounds from the kitchen. He was excited expecting a meeting with his hungry childhood's dream-a piece of Mamaliga.
Then Mom came in with the steaming dish. The aroma of hot corn filled the room. I will never forget the look on my father's face when he brought the first piece to his mouth-his closed eyes and the desire on his face. We ate in silence. I did not want to start our usual dinner-chat, so I let my parents stay engrossed in their meeting with old memories that the old dish had brought to them.
I asked my parents, "How do you find the taste of Mamaliga?" They said that the Mamaliga of their childhood was tastier. Even though the dish had been prepared without butter or bacon, the meal had not been cooked well, or the corn was rotten, in their long-term memory thought that food was the best. Yes, when people are hungry everything that is out of reach seems tastier to them. I asked them, "Was it better because you were hungry?" I think their hunger for food made their memory so strong. Memory keeps emotions, coloring them much brighter than in reality. Although I was living not in a torn to pieces by war country, but in modern and prosperous Russia, sadly, I too knew the meaning of being hungry for days. I was able to understand my parents very well. The dinner made us closer to each other, even though my parents did not know about my thoughts, nor why I tried to hide my tears while leaving the dining table. The dinner with Mamaliga went to my heart and left a notch in my memory.
When I told the story to my American husband, he smiled and said that he wanted to surprise my parents. On a summer morning in July 2003, Bruce cooked a packaged American dish in my mother's kitchen in Kazakhstan. He used a mix that he had brought from America. My parents did not understand the English text on the box, but they were very surprised when the taste of the American dish reminded them of something that they knew from their childhood. Trying the pie-looking dish that was served with honey and butter, my mother cried, "This is Russian Mamaliga!" But Bruce answered with a laugh, "No, this is American corn bread."
My parents were born in different countries. My mother was born in the Ukraine. I know that the word "Mamaliga" is not Ukrainian nor Polish nor Austrian nor Hungarian where my mother's ancestors came from so long ago. The dish is not from Russian nor Kazakh countries where my mother's orphanage was evacuated from the Nazis' attacks on the Ukraine. I did not find the word "Mamaliga" in the Belarusian language, my father's native tongue. War time sent my father from Belarus through Finland, Russia, Georgia, and on to Kazakhstan. Everywhere my parents traveled, they heard the word and dreamed about Mamaliga.
No one of the enumerated nations have the dish as their national cuisine. I know the word came to Russia from Western countries as people ran from the Nazi army as it moved further and further to the east. Bringing new words to their languages and new recipes to their cuisines the refuges shared food with each other. As the train from mother's orphanage went through agonizing war fires and lands under the Nazis' cruel bombings, the railroad rows were filled with bloody rivers everywhere and hungry orphans thrusting their emaciated arms out of the broken windows and holes as they begged for food. When my parents told the stories, I could see the bloody roads and disheveled trains escaping to the east and women running along the railroad tracks and crying something in their language to the train windows. Children remembered only the words that named a food that usually came through the windows. Thrown to them in a sorrowful way by unknown women, my parents knew the word "Mamaliga" all too well.
I found the roots of Mamaliga in Romania: "Indian corn is the chief grain; corn meal mush, the famous "mamaliga," is the national dish of the Romanian peasant, as it was of the American Indian and the early New Englanders," writes Charles Upson Clark, a student of University of Washington. "In Italy, Mamaliga is called Polenta. It is especially popular on the North of Italy. Mamaliga from a corn flour is a Venetian dish," adds Sims Brannon, a student from Los Angeles.
Mamaliga in Romania, Moldavia, Ukraine, Russia, and Italy is now the favorite childhood dish of my parents called corn bread and grits, depending on the recipe, in my new country. I have moved 11,000 miles away from my native land and my parents, but I still can feel and taste the flavor of my Motherland, which is the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and Austria by my mothers ancestors, Belarus by my father's, Kazakhstan by my birth place, and Russia by the place of my residence for many years. I always remember how close people are by culture, cuisine, religion, and traditions. Even though many lands and oceans lay between America and my native country, people who speak different languages still can find so much in common. Finding something in common is as simple as sharing a bread of ground corn.
Brannon, Sims, Los Angeles. In Italy Online. "Polenta: A Food For Every Day." 2004. 15 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.initaly.com/regions/friuli/sims.htm].
Clark, Charles Upson, University of Washington. Electronic Text Archive. "Bessarabia: Russia and Roumania on the Black Sea." Chapter II, "Bessarabian Products". 2003. 15 Feb. 2004 [ http://depts.washington.edu/cartah/text_archive/clark/bc_2.shtml].
Olga, firstname.lastname@example.org. Parenting and Parenthood Information-Parenthood.com. "Moldavian Cornmeal Mush MAMALIGA." 2004. 15 Feb. 2004 [ http://parenthood.com/recipe_display.html?ID=18835]. ^top of the page^
Turning The Fortune Wheel, or How to Solve Problems
"Everybody makes mistakes," say people while trying to find an excuse for their mistakes or faults. No one is insured from making mistakes, but turning mistakes into a workable solution is better. So, is a mistake a problem?
How do mistakes that are made by scientists, physicians, or engineers turn out? Charlotte Foltz Jones wrote the book, Mistakes That Worked, in which she discusses "mistakes" that people made in cooking, medicine, toys, and everyday items where people decided to put those mistakes to good use. Those mistakes became famous discoveries, which is the best solution for them.
One of the most famous "mistakes" is the microwave. Frequently used in kitchens all around the world, the microwave oven was a by-product of another technology. Washington ProFile, an international Washington, D.C. based, Russian language news agency, explains how during a radar-related research project around 1946, Dr. Percy L. Spencer, a self-taught engineer with the Raytheon Corporation, discovered microelectronic waves by noticing something very unusual. "He had stopped for a moment in front of a magnetron, the power tube that drives a radar set, and found that a chocolate bar in his pocket had begun to melt," notes the Washington ProFile. Today, Percy Spencer's radar boxes melt chocolate and pop popcorn in millions of homes around the world. Thus, a mistake became a solution for a faster way to cook.
The Washington ProFile also tells, in Russian, a story about the inventor of Coca-Cola, Dr. John S. Pemberton. "In 1886, Dr. Pemberton sold his nerve tonic, stimulant, and headache remedy called "Pemberton's French Wine Coca" for only five cents per glass at a pharmacy in Atlanta." One day a salesman accidentally added carbonated water instead of plain water in a glass with the tonic syrup. The tonic with sparkling water became popular. Now, Coca-Cola is sold in 200 countries. According to the Washington ProFile, "Dr. Pemberton sold his secret formula for $1,750." The Coca-Cola Company turned his discovery into annual sales in excess of $15 billion. Another problematic mistake became a lucrative business by accident.
It is a well known fact that in 1928 scientist Alexander Fleming made a mistake by leaving one of his samples of pathogenic bacteria staphylococcus in an open window. A mold fungus (penicillin) infected the sample. Fleming studied the sample under a microscope and noticed that the mold destroyed the bacteria. The Washington ProFile adds: "The importance of Fleming's discovery became clear only in 1940 when scientists around the world began research on a new type of medicine-antibiotics. Nowadays, antibiotics are widely used in medicine; they make up 15% of all medicines sold in the world."
Widely used in each office around the world, Post-it Notes are a result of a failed laboratory experiment. Here is an English translation of the story of Post-it Notes from my favorite online source, Washington ProFile. In 1968, an employee of the 3M research laboratory tried to improve the quality of sticky scotch tape. He produced a dense glue that was not absorbed in the stuck-together surfaces. The product was completely useless for the manufacture of adhesive tape. Four years later, the unsuccessful researcher's colleague, who sang in a church chorus in his spare time, became angry because he was kept losing bookmarks in his psalm book. Then he remembered the glue that could fix paper bookmarks without damaging the pages of the book. In 1980, Post-it Notes were issued for sale.
Siamese twins are mistakes of Mother Nature. Nature's mistakes bring to these people difficulties and problems in their everyday existence. However, some Siamese twins became famous and used nature's mistake to their fortune. Nicolay Nepomnyaschiy, a Russian journalist and the author of many articles and books about the unknown, researched Siamese twins. He writes about the conjoined twin-brothers Giacomo and Giovanni Tocci, who are a very good example of how to turn fortune's wheel to one's benefit even if one's body is not normal.
Nepomnyaschiy writes that "the brothers Tocci were born in Italy in 1877." They were one body below their sixth rib and two bodies above. The first part of their childhood was unhappy because they were orphans. Then a rich man took the brothers under his protection. The brothers received a good education; they spoke French, German, and Spanish. They were artistic and had writing talents. The brothers Tocci inspired Mark Twain's, Those Extraordinary Twins. Giacomo and Giovanni traveled with a circus all over Europe. Soon they became popular and well paid circus actors receiving $1,000 for each performance! "The wealthy brothers retired in a huge country house behind a high fence in Venice where they hid from the curious eyes of onlookers. Brothers Tocci lived happily for 63 years; they died in 1940," explained Nepomnyaschiy.
Throughout the ages, man has put nature's problems to a good use. Nicolay Nepomnyaschiy writes about Pasqual Pinon, a two-headed man.
Pasqual Pinon was a Mexican refugee who followed General Pershing out of Mexico in the beginning of twentieth century when Pancho Villa's raiders forced Pinon's family off their farm. He lived for almost 50 years, and in all those years, he thanked God for his second head. Pinon was proud of himself, did not hesitate because of his parasitic head, earned good money, and enjoyed a bachelor's life. Pinon quite justified the saying, "One head is good, but two of them are better." Anyone may turn the fortune wheel to his or her side and declare a mistake the solution to a problem.
"Born in September 1961 in Pennsylvania, twin-sisters, Lori and Reba (Dori) Schappell were conjoined at their heads. The sisters were not confused by their unusual connection. They solved their problems on a regular basis living comfortably and independently with a normal person's life pleasures. Lori and Reba Schappell became popular, and the sisters have been featured on numerous TV shows. Reba has a musical career and received an L.A. Music Award in 1997 for best new country artist. She recorded her songs on studio CDs and plans performances around the country. Lori, of course, will accompany her," writes Nicolay Nepomnyaschiy. Many normal people take pity on themselves and whine about their unfortunate lives. Lori and Reba Schappell would become good examples and teachers for those giving up too soon who let their problems defeat them.
Many of today's great inventions appeared because of simple accidents. The best known story is about Christopher Columbus who was looking for new trade routes to Asia but instead discovered America. People put his mistake to good use or I would not be here to write this essay. A problem is solved if it is put to good use and if it brings dividends. Nobody knows how an unexpected event, mistake, or failure will change into a desirable or successful result. Thoughtful people may turn failure into fortune, which is the best way to solve problems.
Jones, Charlotte Foltz. Mistakes That Worked. New York, NY: Random House Children's Books, 1994.
Nepomnyaschiy, Nicolay. World Electronic Library-Books in Electronic Variant. "People-phenomenon." Chapter II: "Siamese Twins." Trans. Eve Campbell. 08 Apr. 2003. 7 Mar. 2004 [http://www.universalinternetlibrary.ru/book/nepomnysh/5.shtml].
Washington ProFile. "Mistakes That Became Discoveries." Trans. by Eve. 17 Oct. 2003. 5 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.washprofile.org]. ^top of the page^
Uniting a Family by Making Siberian Pelmeni
Since old times, the words "Siberia, winter, cold, and pelmeni" are synonyms for Siberians. Pelmeni (poached pastries with meat filling) were brought to Siberia in the Middle Ages and became a favorite meal of every Russian family.
When the frost sets in, in October in Siberia, pelmeni are made in quantities running into the thousands. Low winter temperatures keep pelmeni solid frozen without losing their flavor and nutritious qualities. Freezing gives them a special flavor. The meat rolled up in a dough and mixed with spices is less attractive for wild animals ravaging Siberians' stores. Frozen pelmeni are also traditional in the northern regions of Russia. There is no guessing what will be served to an unexpected guest in the winter.
However, pelmeni are more than just a common dish and part of the national cuisine. Pelmeni are a symbol of family togetherness during the long, dark, and cold Siberian winter evenings. They are made by the whole family. Making pelmeni is a uniting family ritual where everyone from children to elders is involved. In old times, men minced meat in a wooden trough; now they grind the meat while women knead the dough. Children roll out the dough and after that everyone in the family makes the pelmeni.
In my childhood, I loved to bake small circles of dough on the hot top of our coal stove. The room was filled with the aroma of fresh bread and homemade "cookies" were tastier than any others. All of our family gathered around the kitchen table. We talked, joked, and laughed making the pelmeni. I still like to secretly put a big button or a slice of garlic or a silver coin inside of one of the pelmeni as a good luck token. Adults and children alike laugh and hunt for the pelmen' ("pelmen'" is singular from plural "pelmeni") with the lucky filling. Good luck also comes to the person who gets a bay leaf in his or her bowl with pelmeni broth, everyone wishes to get one. Cats and dogs are allowed to catch ingredients that drop on the floor, they enjoy the evenings too. I love the evenings because of their peacefulness and joyfulness. Pelmini is "the most convenient, spirit-warming, and filling dish on a cold winter's day," says Cheryl Adams Rychkova, an American woman married to a Russian man. Pelmeni are a favorite dish in our Alaskan Russian-American family too.
Rychkova describes a conception of pelmeni: "Pelmeni consist of dough and filling. The dough traditionally is made of flour, milk, one egg, and salt." RusCuisine.com gives ingredients for pelmeni in following proportions: "flour - 2 cups; water or milk - 1 cup; 3 eggs; vegetable oil - 1 tablespoon; salt - ? teaspoon." Form a medium firmness elastic dough out of flour, eggs, liquid, and oil. Unfortunately, I still cannot find a correct proportion for a good elastic dough with American flour. Place the dough aside covering it with piece of cloth. You can have a rest or help your man while he is working on the filling. Children will be happy to place their fingers into flour or the pieces of dough you give them to play with.
Any kind of meat works for the filling. After tasting traditional Siberian pelmeni, try to change meat filling to fish or chicken or vegetables. Remember, the meat filling will be tastier and juicier if you will add at least 30% pork. Alaskan moose meat is a good filling for pelmeni, but moose meat needs fat pork, about 40-50%. To make moose filling tasty and more flavorful, add black pepper, garlic, onion, seasoning. For the amount of dough made from 2 cups of flour, you will need about a pound of meat filling. Grind or mince the meat finely. It is better to add 1 onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic into the grinder while the meat is grinding. Mix ground or minced meat with your hands in a large mixing bowl adding salt and pepper.
Now it is the time for all of your family to join into the work and have fun. Take some dough and make a long roll of "sausage". Divide the roll into small pieces. Roll each piece into a thin circle with a rolling pin. Fill each round with about 1 teaspoon of the meat filling, fold into half-moons. Pinch edges together and connect the opposite sides. Children usually enjoy the process of creating the half-moons, then pinching them into the "suns".
Rychkova notes: "Very few people who participate will be content to only make pelmeni. Everyone wants a taste! So, some do not need to be frozen." Our family of three makes about two hundred pelmeni. Forty of them are cooked and eaten immediately and the remaining pelmeni are placed on cookie sheets to freeze. Then we keep the pelmeni frozen in Ziploc bags.
To cook pelmeni, boil an large amount of water to prevent the pelmeni from sticking to each other. Add salt. Carefully drop the pelmeni into the boiling water. Don't forget to stir them from time to time. Boil for 20-25 minutes. Add 2-3 bay leaves. Serve (with or without broth) while hot with chopped greens of your choice (parsley, cilantro, dill, green onions) and black or red pepper, sour cream, butter, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, sour cream, or "azhigga" (a kind of Russian salsa)," adds Rychkova.
As a snack, Pelmini is a Russian version of fast food, but a healthy and tasty kind of fast food. You can buy them in shops. There are many to choose from in Russia; in fact, they can't compare to our delicious home-made version.
For many generations, making pelmeni has been a fun activity for Russian families. The habit of doing something together is a good way to build a family ritual and teach children family togetherness. Our Russian-American family now has two traditions-baking Christmas cookies and making Pelmeni.
RusCuisine.com. Authentic Russian recipes, Cuisine and Cooking. "Pelmeni recipes at RusCuisine.com" 2004. 23 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.ruscuisine.com/cooking-recipes/?search=pelmeny&search_type=like&Search.x=27&Search.y=4].
Russian Winter Store. "RWStore: pelmeni with free photos." 15 Jul. 2001. 24 Mar. 2004 [ http://rwstore.50megs.com/vodka/pelmeny.html].
Rychkova, Cheryl Adams. Suite101.com. "Classic Russian Cuisine: The temptations of pelmeni." 15 Jan. 2004. 22 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/7870/105689].
Rychkova, Cheryl Adams. RusCuisine.com. "The temptations of pelmeni." 03 Mar. 2004. 22 Mar. 2004 [ http://ruscuisine.com/articles/?article=34]. ^top of the page^
Keep Alaska Free of Trash: Save Our Planet
Earth is our home. Pictures of Earth taken by spaceships are beautiful. Are not they? But what is there around our beautiful planet on the picture found on Web site of the White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)? There is a "Beehive Earth Map of Orbiting Debris." David Baker, a specialist at WSTF, comments: "The man-made debris or space junk consists mainly of fragmented rocket bodies and spacecraft parts created by 40 years of space exploration."
Only 40 years of space discovery and so much trash! That impresses me, especially when I think about my present home-Alaska-how much garbage have people produced for two hundred years in Alaska? Trash more than a hundred years old is an archeological treasure, modern trash is just trash. If it is difficult to think globally, let's think locally. If no one will place a dumpster inside his home or even near the house, why do we produce tons of waste and litter without blinking an eye? The reason for thinking right now about it is to save the environment for our offspring.
Henry Friedman, Environmental Engineer of CH2M Hill, Inc., and participant in the "Trash to Treasure III Conference" held in Anchorage in October 1997, points out: "The problem we face in Alaska with the massive amount of products/packaging we import vs. what happens to these materials at the end of their "usefulness". Once products arrive at various remote sites in Alaska, there is no burial of waste materials possible where permafrost prevails, so burning is the norm." Another participant of the Conference, Paul Relis, Member in the California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento, CA, reported: "Significant waste stream composition: 15% to 38% yard waste, 32 % paper, 6 % plastics, glass decline, and metals stable" ("Trash to Treasure").
Amanda Bohman, a staff writer for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, writes about perceptible increased amounts of post-Christmas garbage: "The company [University Refuse] dumped 421,560 pounds-almost 211 tons-of trash into the landfill on Friday [December 26]. That is about 5 pounds for every man, woman and child in the borough, and that's not even including the volume of trash within Fairbanks city limits, which is dealt with by the city Public Works Department. Numbers from the city could not be obtained". Further Amanda Bohman notes: "Normally, the company hauls 45 to 50 tons of trash a day and as much as 60 tons on Sundays" (B1).
Thus, humans' holidays are the worst days for Mother-Nature!
Jon Gleason, manager of University Refuse, reports: "There's an increase of food garbage because of Christmas dinners, but the majority of it is Christmas wrapping" (qtd. in Bohman B1). How many trees are killed to produce wrapping paper for its one-minute-long life! Recycled paper is a good source to manufacture new paper-goods; however, not in Alaska. Only one way of use for the paper is found-fuel pellets at Eielson AFB.
Every time when you are going to have a party, think not only about how much fun and how many dishes your guests will have but also think about how much trash will go to the local dumpster and think about what kind of trash you will generate. Think! Food trays, cups, meat packages, fruit and vegetable packaging at supermarkets, coffee containers, building construction and literally thousands of common household Styrofoam products thrown into a trash can and then to the nearest dumpster "will be sitting in our landfill 500 years from now" (Hoelle). Will an archeologist of the thirtieth century be satisfied with his find? I do not think so. Minimize your use and purchase of Styrofoam plates and cups because Polystyrene foam is completely non-biodegradable and is not currently recyclable.
"Americans use more than 25,000,000,000 polystyrene cups each year," point out the Solid Waste Services in their "Guide to Recycling in Anchorage." "Polystyrene, or Styrofoam cannot be land-filled or burned under Alaskan law," declares Chemical Market Reporter. Are you against the law? "Use a reusable cup instead." continues the Guide to Recycling in Anchorage. "Take a couple minutes extra and eat in instead of getting Styrofoam containers. Use paper or dissolvable packing 'peanuts' instead of Styrofoam" (Solid Waste Services).
The Northern Alaska Environmental Center asserts that the Fairbanks North Star Borough collects paper, aluminum, and hazardous materials such as batteries and household chemicals. "The paper is pelletized and burned as fuel at Eielson Air Force Base, while aluminum and other metals, which have higher market values, are sold for reuse" ("Local Issues").
In fact, as Amanda Bohman's article shows, there is much work to be done by the North Star Borough administration; "Borough Assemblyman Guy Sattley said that 'the borough has previously examined accepting paper at transfer stations for recycling'" (qtd. in Bohman B3). "He isn't sure why it's not done," comments Amanda Bohman. Pat Abney, Anchorage Municipality Assembly Member, asserts: "Trash is a resource and future basis for businesses and jobs [in Alaska]" ("Trash to Treasure"). However, the Northern Alaska Environmental Center notes that, "Obstacles to implementing glass and plastic recycling include the lack of local markets for these materials, and the prohibitive expense of transporting them down to Anchorage or beyond … The Borough lacks collection points for recyclables, other than the landfill itself. This lack severely hampers citizen participation" ("Local Issues"). Let's put the Borough to work!
I collect numerous boxes and bags of recyclable goods around my house but it is a huge problem to find a place where I can deposit it for recycling. Some good news came from the Northern Alaska Environmental Center: "Fairbanksans now have the opportunity to dispose of their glass somewhere other than the borough landfill or on our littered roadsides. Thanks to the generous assistance of Lynden Transport and the University of Alaska. Drop off glass in specially marked collection bins in the Taku parking lot at UAF-conveniently located across from the Farmer's Loop West Transfer Station" ("Glass Recycling"). Thank you, UAF and Lynden Transport, I have the address and now the problem is to find about three hours to drop off the glass I have collected for years. The place is on the other side of the city and is not as convenient as the transfer station would be, but as the saying goes: "Something is better than nothing."
Eleanor Oakley, Alaska Center for Appropriate Technology Board Member, invites us to: "… start a recycling program if you currently do not have one in your community. Look for ways to improve what you have. Encourage small businesses to start up using commodities from your waste stream. Educate and change attitudes. Do not call it 'wastes' but 'resources'" ("Trash to Treasure").
By recycling products, you are not only saving materials that would otherwise have to be mined and processed to make new items, you're saving the cost, energy, and pollution that goes into their production. In the long term, that means lower prices on products you use, as well as cleaner air and water and smaller landfills in our community.
The Northern Alaska Environmental Center worries about too much litter on the sides of our highways, "The Northern Center has adopted a 1.8-mile stretch of College Road as part of the local adopt-a-highway program, and we have cleanups at least three times each year" ("Local Issues"). Even though many people participate in spring cleanups but it does not solve the root problem of littering. When you leave a trash bag on the side of a road you are breaking the law and you pollute our beautiful home.
When throwing your trash into a dumpster, please remember that organic trash in Alaska does not compost. All your trash non-organic and organic will be laying on permafrost buried under a thin layer of soil almost forever. For future treasure hunters? Is a dirty and littered Alaska what our offspring deserve? It is not too late! We can keep Alaska cleaner!
Baker, David L. NASA White Sands Test Facility. "Orbital Debris and Micrometeoroids." 23 Sept. 2002. 27 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.wstf.nasa.gov/Hazard/Hyper/debris.htm].
Bohman, Amanda. "Holiday trash keeps transfer stations busy." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. 28 Dec. 2003: B1-3.
Chemical Market Reporter. "Arco Alaska Adopts PS Recycling." 11 Jan. 1999. 14 Apr. 2004 [ http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m0FVP/2_255/53570356/p1/article.jhtml].
Friedman, Henry, Paul Relis, Pat Abney, Eleanor Oakley. Can-O-Worms Alaska. "Trash to Treasure III Conference Report: Developing Regional Recycling Enterprise Zones." 3 Oct. 1997. 14 Apr. 2004 [ http://www.can-o-worms-alaska.net/proceedings.htm].
Hoelle, Jessica. "Dump extra baggage with these exercises." The Daily Bruin Online. 25Apr. 2000. 27 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/db/issues/00/04.25/view.hoelle.html].
Northern Alaska Environmental Center. "Glass Recycling at Last!" 5 Feb 2004. 27 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.northern.org/artman/publish/article_108.shtml].
---. "Local Issues." 2002. 27 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.northern.org/artman/publish/local.shtml]
Solid Waste Services. "Guide to recycling in Anchorage." 2002. 27 Mar. 2004 [ http://www.ci.anchorage.ak.us/sws/recycling.cfm]. ^top of the page^
Preparing for a New Member of the Family:
How to Make People Ready for Adopting a Pet
As we have counselors for the adoption of children, we also have to have counselors to help people learn how to adopt a pet without making a mistake. The wrong pet will emotionally distress our children, the animal, and us. The decision to adopt or to not adopt a pet for a family must be discussed with all members of the family. Everyone should understand his or her responsibility for the animal. Parents have to remember that adopting a pet is a life lesson for their children. If the adoption will not work, the family relationship might be damaged.
Is it too easy to adopt a cute pet in Fairbanks? Do other animal shelters require pre- and post-adoption counseling or have strategies that make adoption more successful, resulting in fewer animals being killed? It is possible to elevate public awareness, increase spaying and neutering, increase adoption rates, and reduce the need to euthanize animals.
Some Animal Shelters offer counseling services as a necessary part of adoption process. Orange County Animal Shelter rules state that: "During the adoption session, an adoption counselor will detail the responsibilities of the APS [Animal Protection Society] and yourself toward your pet and will answer any questions you may have about your new pet and the welcome home period" (qtd. in "Adoptions at the Orange County").
"Shelters like the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, Columbia County, NY, have strong policies and reserve the right to refuse people the animals they desire. A shelter, in contrast to pet stores, does not sell animals; it adopts them out to good homes. This is a way to build a more humane and civilized society," writes Elizabeth Hess, a journalist, an author of a heartbreaking book, Lost and Found, and an animal shelter volunteer for many years (5).
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter's report on "Number of Animals Returned to the Shelter" for 2003 and the previous year has two tables: "Animals Returned for Ownership Reasons" and "Animals Returned for Behavior Reasons." The statistics show that the "Ownership Reasons" represent four to five times more returns than pet behavior. This indicates that the main reason why people turn animals in to the Animal Shelter is that they were not ready to undertake the responsibility of caring for a pet.
People often assume that shelter animals have behavior problems, but the problem is almost always a bad human-pet match, not a bad animal. Most animals come to shelters because the owner had unrealistic expectations or had to move to a place that didn't allow pets. Before a future adopter visits any shelter, he, she, or all members of a family need to make a few decisions based on their living situation.
Pets add fun, companionship, and love to our lives, but they're also a big responsibility. Choosing to add a pet to a family is a very important decision. Sometimes, adopting a pet may be too much added responsibility if someone is experiencing other life-changes at the same time. Before adopting a pet, a prospective pet owner should find out more about his or her needs and ideals. The Animal Shelter should provide assistance in choosing an animal that is right for a new owner. Adopting a pet is a commitment that can last for 15 years or more. Everyone must remember-pets' lives depend on people; people's attitude is a testament to their humanity and inhumanity.
"Co-existing can be a largely arduous thing. It often takes compromise and understanding from all parties involved. But co-existing with an animal can require innovation, as well as compromise," emphasizes Jacque Lynn Schultz, Director, Special Projects of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Sciences. The new owner must be prepared to live "with shedding, retrieving, drooling and high activity for the next 10-15 years. Tolerate some damage to your furniture and floors until your new pet becomes accustomed to your home. Continue to accept responsibility for the pet despite inevitable life changes such as new babies, kids going off to school, moving or returning to work," adds the Cleveland County Humane Society.
Front and Finish®, an organization publishing a monthly magazine covering regional and national canine activities, comments: "One positive note is that the basic care of canines in the United States has improved over the last several decades. Although the dogs have not changed owner's increased attention has doubled dogs' average life span. In "kibble" genetics, nutrition, exercise, medical care, and copious amounts of love all serve to increase the life of your dog." Front and Finish® also offers to compare human's age with dog's.
Anyone thinking about adopting a pet should first refer to different sources of information about animals. Searching the Web before adopting a pet might be very useful for a prospective pet owner. Everyone in the family needs to be a part of the discussion. A new pet is worth discussing with everyone in the family circle, so each understands all aspects of having an animal as a new family member. Nonprofit organizations such as NetPets®, Inc. provide educational information about pets.
"Make the right choice!" insist Fairbanks Pet Pages. The Fairbanks Animal Shelter Web site tries to reach perspective adopters: "Please take time to think before you adopt! Study the different breeds and understand what goes into owning a pet. Remember puppies and kittens grow up! They are not born with manners: great pets are made, not born. Puppies, kittens, adult dogs and cats need to be taught. If you put the time and energy into your pet ... you will have a lifetime of love." Dumb Friends League/Humane Society of Denver Web site offers a quiz to help a potential animal owner decide if it is a good time for adopting a pet.
Dr. Becker, a veterinarian and an author of Healing power of pets, points out: "Six million unwanted companion animals are surrendered to shelters every year," (187). The Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) considers its goal as seeing companion animals remain in their homes as cherished family members. The Sacramento SPCA website educates people to prevent surrendering animals. However, these Web pages are visited rarely; people do not understand the necessity of being prepared to adopt a pet. Perhaps local animal shelters should have stricter policies preparing families to adopt a pet.
The Animal Shelter's statistics show that the more an animal bounces back to the shelter, the harder it is to send the pet out again. Animals returned to the shelter can sink into a depression making them less attractive to prospective owners. Many strays live in the animal shelter in better condition than when they are returned-dirty, sick, angry, or too shy. The percent of animals euthanized after being returned to the Fairbanks shelter is about 90%. Animals given up for the second or third time rarely survive. The Fairbanks Animal Shelter has a good practice of giving each new pet owner a bag of healthy pet food and a set of instructions with helpful information about raising a cat or a dog. The magazine New Parent Guide is given out at the shelter and has many useful tips for new adopters of cats and dogs. The only question is how to make people read all the information and to be responsible.
Basic changes in shelter policies and procedures can result in higher quality animal care, stronger outreach programs, and improved community relations. Perhaps each shelter should offer a questionnaire to each person applying for an adoption. The questions could make a person think before their emotion gets carried away and they adopt a cute young animal that they are not ready to properly care for. A questionnaire might prevent mistakes that cause animals' deaths after their return.
Some people may view euthanasia as an unpopular or nonhuman solution, but euthanasia is far the more humane choice when the quality of an animal life does not meet basic standards. Nationwide, shelter employees suffer from a collective depression. Who can blame them? Altogether, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), animal shelter workers euthanize more than thirty thousand animals each day in the US. It is an impossible, almost schizophrenic situation: Shelter workers spend half their time protecting animals and the other half killing them.
Shelters have to do a much better job of reaching out to their communities. They have to become more than animal adoption agencies and abortion or sterilization clinics. They have to become centers of humane education, teaching a broad curriculum of animal issues. If local animal shelters began no-kill concepts like the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.), it would increase adoptions and reduce surrenders. "It [the No-kill program] includes educational and counseling services, obedience training, grooming to enhance animals' adoption potential, and other programs and services designed to enhance the human/animal bond," writes organization Responsible Animal Owners of Tennessee.
Preventing unwanted animal births is both pet owners' and the animal-control agencies' responsibility. The STOP the Overpopulation of Pets, Inc. pays for spaying and neutering dogs and cats at Alaska's animal control centers. They also educate pet owners and potential pet owners about pet care, pet-related issues, training, pet overpopulation, and other concerns in order to better the lives of pet owners, pets, and the community. On the organization's Web site, STOP the Overpopulation of Pets, Inc. insists: "Please make the right, humane decision and get your pets spayed and neutered! Make an appointment today! Don't wait until it's too late... And more pets must die."
Volunteering at the Animal Shelter I have seen how many how people chose pets only on impulse instead of having the patience to make a responsible choice. Bob Christiansen, author of many books on animal welfare, discusses the cost of ownership for a dog, "a license, food, training, equipment, grooming supplies, toys and medical care that includes spay/neuter surgery is minimum $300 per year." Preparing for per ownership should include saving money towards future expenses and proper care including veterinary care, spaying or neutering, annual check ups, training a dog to be a good companion, kitty litter and other supplies. Saving money and preparations are a logical decision when it comes to parenthood but the same serious decision and preparation should be made before adopted pet comes home.
It can be expensive to keep animals, but a lack of money isn't the primary reason that people give up their dogs and cats. It's because they put such a low valuation on animals. In their release forms, people frequently give reasons for giving up their pets such as "moving." People can legally give up their pets, but the pervasive attitude that pets are disposable, like paper cups, has to change. Every time a family surrenders a pet, children are taught that living beings do not have any inherent value. Children learn that pets can be rejected when they become inconvenient.
Thousands of kittens and puppies, born in happy households, end up in shelters because their owners can't give them away. How can shelters be expected to place them all? According to Dan Morrison, an Executive Director of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority, on abc7.com: "The pet overpopulation problem in this country must be addressed if we are to slow down the pet euthanasia rate that shelters face" (qtd. in "Spay Day"). One of the best ways to limit pet over population is by spaying and neutering dogs and cats. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary offers good examples of how to help people reduce the population of pets. The Southeast Area Animal Control Authority hosted a four-day spay/neuter program so that pet owners could have their dogs or cats neutered at a significantly reduced rate.
Fairbanks Animal Shelter statistics also shows how many cats and dogs are given up when a newborn child comes into a family. "Expecting a Baby? You do NOT have to get rid of your cat! Pregnancy when you have a cat presents some challenges, but don't worry, none of them are even remotely insurmountable. You just need a little planning and know-how," repeats Gary Loewenthal, a dedicated animal advocate who hosted About Cats Forum and has written many articles for Web sites, magazines, and journals where he promotes raising cats naturally. Denver Dumb Friends League gives tips on how to help a family pet adjust to the arrival of a new baby that "is much like preparing a young child for the same event."
The large investment in time will pay off in a pet that fits harmoniously into its new home. Joining a basic obedience-training class is the fastest and most effective way to train any dog. Older dogs can be taught effectively too. "The elements of raising a well-behaved pet are the same as those that should be used to discipline children. Pets, like children, flourish on routine," writes veterinarian Marty Becker (104).
Animals are not responsible for people's predicament. Moreover, they are counting on people to find them and take them home. Who comes first, difficult dogs or difficult owners? One of the first indications than a dog might be in trouble is a troublesome owner. There are several notorious individuals in the community who return animals to the shelter after the animal is in rough shape. Only the dogs seem to get rehabilitated. Their owners remain unchanged.
The attitude towards an animal is a test of how a person evaluates someone's life and respects other people. Irresponsible or cruel pet owners must get community and enforcement agency attention. Elizabeth Hess, an author of Lost and Found, writes: "The links between animal and child abuse are obvious. The American Humane Association … runs seminars to train humane officers to recognize signs of abuse and report children who are in danger. Some states, in an attempt to amplify the relationship between animal and child abuse, have made it mandatory for humane officers to report suspected [animal] abusers … Thus, our attitude toward animals is not just about animals. The real test of people's "humanity" may be the way people treat the nonhuman others with which we share our planet and our homes" (52-53).
Why do people want dogs at all? Cats are easier to keep; dogs require more care. Dogs are not as demanding as children, but close to it. Actually, children are the ones who usually ask for a dog. When getting a pet for a child, adults must understand clearly that the pet is also their responsibility, not just their child's! If your child wants a dog, but you do not-do not get one!
Domestic animals can help make their owner's lives longer and healthier. Too many people give up their pets because the owner gets sick. In fact, many modern doctors prescribe a companion animal along with medications. Dr. Becker, writes in his book, The ealing power of pets, about studies over the last 20 years showing that "pets can prevent, detect, help treat, and in some cases cure a variety of maladies" (17).
A pet-owner connection is beneficial, if there is a bond between the owner and his pet that is based on a right choice. "If people had the right pet for their needs, this world would be a happier, healthier place" (103). Helping people learn to choose the right pet is a worthy goal for every animal shelter and dedicated to animal rights organizations.
abc7.com: news. "Spay Day USA, Fix Your Pet." 10 Feb. 2004. 15 Feb. 2004 [ http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/news/021004_nw_spay_day_usa.html].
Animal Protection Society. Department of Computer Science, UNC-Chapel Hill. "Adoptions at the Orange County Animal Shelter." 21 Apr. 2003. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://firebird.cs.unc.edu/~hedlund/comp145/homes/AnimalShelterDog/site/adoptprocedure].
Becker, Marty, Dr., Danelle Morton. The healing power of pets: harnessing the amazing ability of pets to make and keep people happy and healthy. New York, New York: Hyperion, 2002: 17-187.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. "No More Homeless Pets Campaign." 2004. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.bestfriends.org/nmhp/nmhp-home.htm].
Christiansen, Bob. The Humane Community of America. "12 Things to Consider When Preparing For a Pet." 2001. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.saveourstrays.com/preparing.htm].
Cleveland County Humane Society. "Questions to Ask Yourself before Adopting..." 2004. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://clevelandcountyhumanesociety.org/pages/questions.htm].
Denver Dumb Friends League, Humane Society of the United States. The Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Preparing Your Pet for Baby's Arrival." 2004. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.sspca.org/pdfs/NewBaby.pdf].
---. "Is This The Best Time To Adopt A Pet?" 2000. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.ddfl.org/behavior/besttime.htm].
Fairbanks Pet Pages (nonofficial Website of the Fairbanks Animal Shelter). 2003. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://fairbankspetpages.homestead.com/welcome.html].
Front and Finish®. Front and Finish The Dog Trainer's News. "How Old Are You In Dog Years?" 2004. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.frontandfinish.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/FrontAndFinish.woa/2/wo/iFzOQbkpv5NjEjbMU9YsAg/0.1.8.12.5].
Hess, Elizabeth. Lost and found. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1998: 5-53.
Loewenthal, Gary. About, Inc. About Cats - All About our Feline Companions. Human Pregnancy, Babies, and Your Cat. "If You are Expecting You CAN Keep Your Cat During Pregnancy." 2004. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://cats.about.com/cs/catmanagement101/a/humanpregnancy.htm].
Responsible Animal Owners of Tennessee. Shelter Project Directors. "No-Kill Shelter Project." 27 March 2004. 1 Apr. 2004 [ http://www.raot.org/shelter/no_kill_shelter.htm].
Schultz, Jacque Lynn and Dr. Stephen Zawistowski. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Prepare Your Home." 2004. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=adopt_preparehome].
Smith, F. LaGard, commentary. The Daily Bible®. New International Version. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1984
STOP the Overpopulation of Pets, Inc. "Spaying and Neutering Information." 2003. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.alaskastop.org/spayingandneuteringinformation.html].
The Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Humane Education. "Surrendering Your Pet." 2004. 14 Feb. 2004 [ http://www.sspca.org/Surrender.html]. ^top of the page^
Eve's Essays (a previous course at the UAF)
Short Essays for Human Relations course
Free online sources to learn or brush up English
ESLgold provides hundreds of pages of free English teaching and learning materials for both students and teachers.
www.wordskills.com Test your level of English here.
Mary Earp - Assistant Professor/Developmental English and my teacher at UAF created the Web site Sentence Tools for English Classes.
Mary Ellen Guffey Books Support.
Diana Hacker's handbooks are popular because they work as references that students can and do use on their own(You need the Shockwave plug-in to run the exercises. Click to "Download Shockwave," it is free).
University of Ottawa Hypergrammar and English writing resources.
Capital Community College The Guide to Grammar and Writing.
Murdoch University A Guide to Writing Essays.
Purdue's Online Writing Lab.
More free English language on-line learning and test practice resources are collected on this page, (comments to them are in Russian language).
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