11.04.2008

The balancing act continues


Evening attire preferred.
Dancing shoes required.
Mask is optional.

10.31.2008

The Kiss


the hum and flutter
the joy and stutter

I-love-you


love and glisten
stop and listen

I. need. you

Heart, beat faster
Mouth, press closer

I, want, you

10.30.2008

Your candy or your ankle


Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Even Super Heroes Make Mistakes


Super Dog accidentally wore his cape to the office party.

There goes another secret identity down the drain.

10.20.2008

On the job


I'm working.

But in my heart I'm sleeping.

10.19.2008

The Other Side


I know it’s dark
Not quite what you expected
But it’s beautiful
No?

Yes, he breathed
in my ear, soft
and slow
It is
beautiful

I let the trace
of a smile tease
my lips, tease him
too.
You see it?

He nodded, enchanted.
A world away, on the
other side of
the black and
white

page

In a quiet room, roaring with
the music of staccato
words. He was
reading

My book
My heart
My soul

And he swore that
it was
his. I let the
trace of a smile tease
his lips

Black and white, wrong
and right, day and
night

Dark and light
On the other side
Of the black and
White

Page

10.18.2008

The one thing I don't like about Southern California in the winter


The crows.

They sit outside my window and torment me. On purpose. They know I'm trying to write. They know they're irritating. They know all the other birds are cuter and nicer and sing better songs.

And still, there they are. Cawing up the skies with incessant chatter.

Dark feathered vermin.

"You can't write. Ha ha. Caaaw. You'll never finish that book. Haaaa ha caaw caaaaaw."

I think the Son of Sam was listening to crows before that dog came along.

10.17.2008

Music


Do you hear it?
Music. Driving me
To my knees, with the breeze
Holy spirit, holy song
Calling me, soaring free.
I want to stretch my
Wings, silver bright, water tight,
Want to fly through sun and
Rain, joy and pain.
Do you hear it, do you, do
you
hear it on your knees?
Forehead to the floor
Knocking on the door
Of heaven.
Music. Driving me.
Do you hear it?

10.16.2008

Page 99


Outside the wind shivers and blisters.
Rips through the leaves, tears down walls inside me.

Page 99

Why is it always page 99, why don’t I push through the barrier? Silken skin like a womb. I want to soar through.

Not for me, not today, I want more.

Much more. Can taste it, on the back of my tongue. Sweet and thick, rich as blood. Bite on the skin, piercing my way into the womb of words.

Go ahead.

Let everybody else fight their way out. I’m gonna win this battle on the inside.

Where I belong.

10.15.2008

10.13.2008

Photo Finish: The Big Event

The Fantasy Fiction Tour is over. All the authors are home (I think). The event at Calvary Chapel Refuge went extremely well. I got caught up in hosting the event, so I didn't get all the photos that I wanted. Somehow I completely missed getting pictures of Donita K. Paul and Jonathon Rogers. And I really wish that I could have gotten a photo of all eight of them when they were on stage for the question and answer session.

But for now, here is a photo essay of the evening . . .

Christopher Hopper (The Lion Vrie) and L.B. Graham (The Binding of the Blade) stand outside the sanctuary. Chris was posing for the camera because it took me nearly half an hour to figure out how to take a picture. Arrgghh.


The event began with Jennifer and Christopher Hopper leading worship. Beautiful music and beautiful couple!


L.B. Graham spoke on "God's Faithfulness" earlier in the evening. Here he visits with fans during the book signing.


Rebecca Luella Miller and Sharon Hinck (the Restorer series) during the book signing. Becky helps run the CSSF blog tour and hosts the popular site, A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She also helped throughout the event.


Bryan Davis (Dragons in our Midst) and Wayne Thomas Batson (The Door Within trilogy) discuss all things literary with their fans. Bryan delivered a powerful message titled "Why Fantasy" and Wayne performed an excellent dramatic reading.


Eric Reinhold (Ryan Watters and the King's Sword) and fans. Eric spoke on "God's Timing."


Sharon Hinck and me. I have to confess, she is a talented lady with a heart of gold. Truly. Her message titled, "How to be a Hero" made me cry.


Andrea Verde and Jeremy Clendening--faithful workers that helped pull this event together. And, oh, that's me in the middle.


Me and Jeannie Kleker--another wonderful volunteer that helped throughout the event.


Here we have an optical illusion--it looks like Wayne just chopped off someone's head. But, in fact, everyone left with all their body parts intact. Thank goodness. Can't read a book without a head.

10.11.2008

It's always something


Anatidaephobia — the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.

10.10.2008

The Big Day

Today's the Day. Eight fantasy fiction authors are going to descend upon Huntington Beach with a shout and a song.

Music by Christopher and Jennifer Hopper.

Dramatic readings.

Powerful messages.

Laughter. Lots of laughter.

Maybe some swordplay.

Wayne Thomas Batson, Eric Reinhold, Bryan Davis, L.B. Graham, Sharon Hinck, Donita K. Paul, Jonathon Rogers and Christopher Hopper.

7:00 p.m.
Calvary Chapel Refuge
7800 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, California

If you can't make it because you live in Kansas, there is still hope.
You might be able to see it live on the Internet.
Visit the Fantasy Fiction Tour Web site, and remember that this is taking place on the West Coast. Pacific Time out here in the land of sunshine.

The land of aliens, like me, who love sci-fi and fantasy.

10.07.2008

They're on TV

Here is a TV interview with Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper where they discuss this year's Fantasy Fiction Tour.

10.05.2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour


The countdown has begun. Five days. Five.

The West Coast Fantasy Fiction Tour--featuring eight authors--will swing by Huntington Beach on Friday, October 10.

The event will include Christian authors, Sharon Hinck, Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, Christopher Hopper, Eric Reinhold, Jonathon Rogers, Donita K. Paul and L.B. Graham.

Friday, October 10
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Calvary Chapel Refuge
7800 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, California 92647

Of course, I'm going to be there too. In all of my alien glory.

10.04.2008

Havah: A Review


It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a book as much as the one I just finished reading.

Havah: the story of Eve by Tosca Lee. I’m not even sure where to begin. Here—I loved it. I devoured it. From the moment I cracked the spine and started to read, I was compelled to finish. Not many books command me to read them, tell me to stop working, stay up late, and sacrifice my entire Saturday so that I might spend a few more moments seated before the hearth of someone else’s tale.

Havah required that I hear her story.

The book never felt like a piece of fiction to me. It was as if, finally, the veil had been lifted and I could hear the beginning verses of Genesis told in Eve’s voice. As if we crouched together before a flickering fire, the night wind at our backs, and like a beloved friend, she told me all of her secrets, from the beginning to the end.

Tosca has created a masterpiece in Havah.

Chapter one begins with the birth of Havah (Eve) in the Garden. With a poetic voice, Tosca tells the tale of the first woman, her relationship with “the adam” and her desire to know the One that Is. Havah frolics in a perfect world, where the river sounds like music and the air is stained with the fragrance of pomegranate and plum. Her dearest friends are a lioness, Levia, and a fallow deer, Adah, and it is through these relationships that we later see the bitter contrast between life in the Garden and life after the Fall.

Because, of course, Havah has yet one more friend—a serpent. More beautiful than any of the other animals, it dwells on an island, always near a tree that bears forbidden fruit.

If you think this is a story you’ve heard before, you’re wrong. No one has ever told this tale with such lush detail. As much as I have contemplated Eve and her life in the Garden—and I have—I never saw it this way. Havah is both heartbreaking and stunningly beautiful.

Tosca’s voice, so unique and fluid in rhythm, reminds me at times of Sue Monk Kidd or Janet Fitch. But the spiritual quality of this book elevates it to another plateau.

This is exactly the type of story, book, and author that I have been waiting to see emerge in CBA. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to get lost in another world, anyone who would like to experience the Book of Genesis in a fresh way, or anyone looking for a story that is beautiful and compelling from beginning to end.

10.03.2008

Shhhhhh. I'm reading

Just so you know that I am NOT asleep at the wheel. I just got three books that I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for.

As soon as I read them, I plan to write reviews of each. Oh, and I'll post them here.

"What books?" you ask on the other side of the computer screen.

Havah by Tosca Lee, Shade by John Olson, and Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley.

Fiction Friday: Write about 8.


“The fascination may go away, Mrs. Lee. And then again, it might not.”

“Fascination? Doctor, I can’t even believe you are using that word!”

“Well, we’ve run a full diagnostic. Your daughter isn’t autistic, and there are no signs of obsessive-compulsive behavior—”

“And so that’s it?”

I could hear the voices in the background, a bland pattern of words that interrupted my own thought process from time to time, their words occasionally slowing me down from my healing reverie…

Eight dogs running down the alley, eight cats yowling at midnight—

“Will she need to be—” My mother struggled with the word, “—institutionalized?”

Eight fluffy clouds in a denim blue sky. Eight questions that all begin with why.

“No, I don’t think so.” Big man in a really big white coat. Looking down at me.

Eight days in a week—I wish!—eight freckles on her cheek—and a tear.

Mother crying. Big man sighing.

Eight. Eight. Eight. Can’t be late. Eight minutes, eight hours, eight songs, eight notes. Eight reasons, eight rivers, eight brownies, eight boats. Eight grinches, eight buildings, eight cars, eight goats—

She glanced down at me, mother of mine, sweet giver of life. Took my hand, led me out of the office, into tepid New York streets where more clatter and noise drove me deeper into my mantra.

Mother, dear Jennifer 8. Lee, held my hand as she signaled for a cab.

Eight. 8. Eight. 8.

Don’t be late, don’t skate.

Don’t be mad, Jennifer 8.

10.01.2008

More proof I'm a real girl

I haven't posted for awhile and just saw this quiz over at Julie Carobini's site.

It was such a cool quiz, I just had to play!




Your Autumn Test Results



You are a playful, spirited person. You have a limitless imagination and amazing creative talents.



When you're happiest, you are outgoing and expressive . You love celebrations, and you enjoy showing off a little.



You tend to be afraid of change. You are never ready for things to be different.



You find love to be the most comforting thing in the world. You feel at peace when you're with your loved ones.



Your ideal day is active and full. You like to keep busy with your favorite things, and you appreciate a routine.



You tend to live in the moment. You enjoy whatever is going on, and you don't obsess over the past or future.

9.25.2008

Quote for the Day

"You can't copy anybody and end with anything. If you copy, it means you're working without any real feeling."
Billie Holiday

Gone


He was a whisper on the world. Blink and he was gone. Footprints and fingerprints erased. Memories so few, tossed into a book of photos that no one wants to see.

She cries in the corner at night. When no one is listening, when the wind blows. Sometimes she hears his voice on the wind, calling her name.

His ancestors disappeared. Father, mother, brother. In an instant the entire family was dust on the Midwestern prairie. Forever gone. Forever mourned.

And then.

Forgotten.

In a book of photos that no one wants to see.

9.22.2008

The Danger of Multi-tasking

If you'd like to see how multi-tasking can lead to dual identities, then check out the recent interview over at Where the Map Ends.

Jeff Gerke is interviewing himself.

Sounds like something an alien would do. Or a publisher.

2008 ACFW Book of the Year Winners

Below is the list of winners from the recent ACFW Conference. Congratulations to all! And a special cyber hug to pals, Sharon Hinck and Camy Tang! Way to go, girls!

Debut Author
Sushi for One? (Camy Tang) – Zondervan, Sue Brower

Contemporary Novella
Finally Home (Deborah Raney) – Barbour Publishing, Susan Downs

Historical Novella
Love Notes in Love Letters Anthology (Mary Davis) – Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany

Lits
Splitting Harriet (Tamara Leigh) – Multnomah Books, Julee Schwarzburg

Long Contemporary
Within This Circle (Deborah Raney) – Steeple Hill Books, Krista Stroever

Long Historical
Veil of Fire (Marlo Schalesky) RiverOak, editors Jeff Dunn/Jon Woodhams
Where Willows Grow (Kim Vogel Sawyer) Bethany House, editor Charlene Patterson

Mystery
Your Chariot Awaits (Lorena McCourtney) – Thomas Nelson, Amanda Bostic

Short Contemporary
The Heart of Grace (Linda Goodnight) – Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Allison Lyons

Short Contemporary Suspense
Caught Redhanded (Gayle Roper) – Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense, Krista Stroever

Short Historical
Canteen Dreams (Cara Putman) & Golden Days (Mary Connealy)
–Barbour/Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons

Speculative
The Restorer’s Son (Sharon Hinck) – NavPress, Reagan Reed

Suspense
Black Ice (Linda Hall) – WaterBrook Press, Traci DePree

Women’s Fiction
Remember to Forget (Deborah Raney) – Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, Philis Boultinghouse

Young Adult
In Between (Jenny B. Jones) — NavPress, Jamie Chavez

9.19.2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour

Question: What do the following authors have in common?

Wayne Thomas Batson, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, Bryan Davis, Donita K. Paul, Eric Reinhold, L.B. Graham, and Jonathon Rogers.

This may seem like an easy answer.

They all write Christian fantasy fiction, you say.

Well, yes, you got that right. They do. In fact, between them, they’ve written 37 fantasy novels. They’ve written about other worlds, alternate realities, talking dragons and more. They’ve written ground-breaking stories in one of today’s fastest growing genres.

But, wait. There’s more.

This group of eight authors will be touring the West Coast from Oct. 4-12.

Below is a list of events that will be taking place in the Los Angeles area. And note, blog readers, the last event on this list will take place at my church. I’m helping to set up this event, so you’ll be hearing more about it as we draw nearer.

If you like reading or writing fantasy fiction, then these events are just what the Alien Doctor ordered. In fact, aliens from alternate universes are going to be jealous when they find out that THE HUMANS IN CHARGE decided to hold all this stuff on earth. And on the West Coast, no less.

Bring your tin foil. There are sure to be repercussions.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9th
St. Genevieve High School
9:00am - 11:00am
13967 Roscoe Blvd
Panorama City, CA 91402
(818) 894-6417
www.valiantspirit.com

Bethany Christian School
1:00pm - 2:30pm
Attn: Amber Ryan
93 N Baldwin Ave, Ste B,
Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Phone is 626-355-3527 ext 1652

Valley Book & Bible
5:00pm – 7:00pm
6502 Van Nuys Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91401
Toll Free: 800-421-8906

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10th
Village Christian Schools
8:50am - 1:00pm
8930 Village Ave.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
(818) 767-8382
Co-hosted by Barnes & Noble Burbank Store
818-558-1383

West Covina Christian School
2:00pm - 4:00pm
763 N. Sunset Ave.W
West Covina, CA 91730
626-962-7089
Co-hosted by Barnes & Noble Glendora Store
909-592-2968

Calvary Chapel Huntington Beach
7:00pm - 9:00pm
7800 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(714) 891-9495

9.18.2008

The New Kid On the Blog Block

She's sweet. She's sassy. And, oh yeah. She's also me.

My other blog. So cool. All about publishing. All about life in the tsunami lane.

Check it out.

Publishing Tsunami.


Tips on riding the literary waves. Without wiping out.

9.15.2008

The Shadow of the Almighty


This is the best example of Psalm 91 that I've seen in a long time.

9.06.2008

Shhh . . . they're watching


I love being stalked by a Googlebot.

Don't you?

Music Video of the Week: Morphine


Morphine. I just discovered this band--I'm know. I'm a bit late.

But I'm in love.

9.01.2008

On the Richter Scale


Nice use of color and contrast. Theme and storyline, definitely a 10. Overall composition, excellent.

Ouch factor: a raging 10.0 on the Richter Scale.

No reason at all


It was just cute. That's why.

The cell phone you gotta get


The debate over which cell phone offers the best service came to a screeching halt today when ePhone revealed its latest update.

Once the glowing orb is grafted onto your vocal cords—a process that ePhone promises is quick and painless—you'll be able to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

And that includes Pluto. Even if it isn't really a planet.

We come in peace


"We come in peace," Sir Argyle Bluefeather claimed during a recent CNN interview. With fingers poised in the V for Victory sign, our sources believe that Bluefeather plans to enter the presidential race as an independent.

His platform?

Something to do with lifting the ban on illegal aliens.

8.29.2008

Top Ten Reasons to Watch Battlestar Galactica


These are the reasons for last year's show, but they still apply!

8.26.2008

inside


Did you know he’s been courting me for what, like a year now? He’s been watching me from all those secret places. The ones we’re not supposed to know about, but honey, we know. All of us know. That’s why we do the stuff we do.

It’s all for the hidden cameras.

Jenny, she’s been acting up for weeks now, trying to get him to look at her. But I can tell all the mirrors is pointed right at me. Can feel ‘em, even at night, when the dark sky presses against the barred windows.

What he gonna do, that’s what I ask. He gonna come in here, in front of all his ladies and say that he wants me? I don’t think so.

It’s all a big show. A game. Like all the others. Like the ones we used to play on the street, back when I was free.


Baby, that was a long time ago, but I can still taste the city air. Sharp. Strong. I can still see the glitter of my own blade, the one that got me out of more jams than I can count. That was the first thing he took, you know. You thought it was my heart, didn’t ya? You thought he made me fall in love with him, then lured me back here to this high-rise trap in the sky.

But I was the one breaking hearts, don’t ya know. Back on the street. He didn’t catch nobody but she really wanted to get caught. And that includes me. I wanted inside. Here where it’s warm and safe. Yeah, there’s bars on the doors and windows. I ain’t blind, not yet. I see ‘em, sure enough. But there’s food on the table too, and something to take the sharp edge off the night. Something that helps me sleep.


Couldn’t sleep outside.

Couldn’t close my eyes knowing what was out there in the shadows.

Sometimes I stand at the window, when all the others are asleep, and I stare out into the black streets. Trying to see if it’s still there. If it’s still looking for me.

Some might say I’m paranoid, or that I just think I’m all that and way more. But I know what’s true. There was something out there, hunting me down. And the same goes on in here, only now the one that caught me is watching. He’s trying to figure out what the outside monster was wanting.

And, believe me, I ain’t gonna tell him.

I got my own secrets and they ain’t for sharing.

why


I write to know that I’m alive
I run to know that I can walk
I scream to know that I can breathe

If I only I could slow down
Peace would follow
For sure, for sure

I sing to remember that I believe
I pray to see the face of the Divine
I dig with fists closed
I fight with eyes blinded

I fall
on
my
knees

And I write
to know that . . .

8.24.2008

Free to speak, free to listen, free to choose


This video explains the purpose behind Pastor Eddie's Gadfly Project.

For those of you who don't already know, Pastor Eddie surrendered to the Chinese Police in Tienanmen Square. You can listen to the audio file at the Exodus8one site.

8.18.2008

Government approved protests denied

"Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, a private group based in New York, said he and other rights advocates had been skeptical that China would fulfill its pledge to allow greater free speech during the Olympic Games. Still, he said, the International Olympic Committee should be held accountable for not pressing China on the issue. 'The I.O.C. seems oblivious to the fact that they’re holding the Games in a repressive environment,' he said."

Quote from the on-line article, "Would-Be Protesters Detained in China," in the New York Times.

8.11.2008

Should we care what happens in China?

During China's bid for the Olympics in 2001, Beijing Olympic official Liu Jingmin stated that the Olympic Games are "an opportunity to foster democracy, improve human rights and integrate China with the rest of the world."[1] This pledge was in keeping with the principle of advancing "a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity," as put forth in the Olympic Charter.[2] In spite of these promises and other international human rights obligations, however, the Chinese authorities

* Have displaced an estimated 1.5 million Beijing residents in preparation for the Olympic Games[3]

* Continue to target human rights activists by imprisoning them, preventing them from leaving or returning to Beijing, and keeping them under tight police surveillance.[4]

* Remain the world's leading jailer of journalists for the eighth consecutive year, with at least 29 journalists in prison in 2007[5]

These actions fundamentally undermine the spirit of the Olympics. As Hu Jia and Teng Biao wrote in their article "The Real Situation in Pre-Olympics China," "If there is no dignity or human rights, then there can be no real Olympics," and "for anyone who wishes to avoid a disgraceful Olympics, knowing the truth is the first step."

NOTES:

1. "Incorporating Responsibility 2008: About the Issue: Olympics and the Rule of Law," February 2008, http://www.ir2008.org/02/issue.php.

2. Olympic Charter, http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_122.pdf.

3. Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Press release: "China's Olympic dream displaces 1.5 million people: The IOC and the Chinese Government have continuously failed to take responsibility for mass housing rights violations," July 16, 2008, http://www.cohre.org/media.

4. Human Rights in China, "Human Rights Situation in China Worsens as Bush Calls for a More Open Society," August 07, 2008, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/68117.

5. Committee to Protect Journalists, "CPJ: One in 6 journalists held without charge," http://cpj.org/Briefings/2007/imprisoned_07/imprisoned_07.html.

INFORMATION QUOTED FROM THE IR2008 SITE.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE IR2008 SITE.

8.10.2008

Human Rights and the Olympics

"When you come to the Olympic Games in Beijing, you will see skyscrapers, spacious streets, modern stadiums and enthusiastic people.

You will see the truth, but not the whole truth, just as you only see the tip of an iceberg.

You may not know that the flowers, smiles, harmony and prosperity are built on a base of grievances, tears, imprisonment, torture and blood."

—Hu Jia and Teng Biao,
"The Real Situation in Pre-Olympics China (奥运前的中国真相),"
China Rights Forum, No.4, 2007

Quote from the IR2008 website

Australian Prime Minister discusses human rights in China

The Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, discussed the issue of human rights in China recently. An article by Mary-Anne Toy in Beijing can be read here.

A quote from the article:
"As someone who's looked at the history of human rights in China, it's always been two steps forward, one step back," Mr Rudd said when asked if China had fulfilled its promise, made in 2001 when it was awarded the 2008 Games, to improve human rights.

Bush speaks out on human rights in China

According to a recent AFP article, "US President George W. Bush on Saturday expressed "deep concerns" about freedom and human rights in China, during his visit to attend the Beijing Olympic Games."

A quote in the article, made by President Bush:
"During my time here, I'm expressing America's deep concerns about freedom and human rights in China," he said. "This trip has reaffirmed my belief that men and women who aspire to speak their conscience and worship their God are no threat to the future of China."

You can read the entire article here.

The History of Abuse in China

This video details the history of abuse that has taken place in China and uses photos and a couple of video clips to illustrate the injustices. These are merely a handful of photos that have come out of China in recent years.

What you will see is here is what happens to Christians--and people of other faiths--who worship “underground.” This is what happens to many of the churches that don’t register with the Three-Self Church in China.



To learn more about what is going on in China visit this site.

To learn what you can do, visit this site.

You don't have to get involved. That is your freedom. But you may want to consider the following poem written by the German Pastor Martin Niemöller, about the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime.

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

8.08.2008

Everyday you write your own story

As a writer, I understand. Everyday you write your own story. You go to the store, water the plants, eat breakfast (paragraph one). You go to work, answer e-mails, pay your bills (paragraph two).

You talk to your friends. You drive home. You eat dinner.

When the rest of the city is dark and quiet, you say your prayers and go to bed.

And then, sometime in the middle of the night, a group of men break into your house. They drag you away, torture you, and eventually throw you into prison. Wait, let’s change that last phrase. They “re-educate you.” For years. Without trial.

All because of that God you were praying to before you went to bed.

Everyday you write your own story.

Today I choose to write mine.

Today I choose to write to President Bush and President HU Jintao of The Peoples Republic of China. Today I choose to ask, politely and with respect, for the freedom of my brothers and sisters in China. I ask that they encourage the National Peoples Congress to ratify the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

I ask because I have the freedom to pray before I go to bed. And I think everyone should have that right.

Everyday you write your own story. What will you write today?

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States

His Excellency President HU Jintao
People’s Republic of China
The State Council General Office
Yongneixijie
Beijing 100017

Exodus8one: Links to press

Human rights are an issue here.

A village is arrested.

An American pastor protests peacefully


What Christianity Today has to say.

Four protesters detained


Two Britons are deported for protests

What the Washington Post has to say

Gadfly on NBC4 Los Angeles


Online Videos by Veoh.com

This was aired on Thursday August 07, 2008. It features key people who are in support of "The Gadly Project" and details how the church Hacienda Christian Fellowship has Gadflys full support. Visit Exodus8one and let your voices be heard when you still have time.

Gadfly reveals project strategy to David Aikman, former Time correspondent


Online Videos by Veoh.com

Eddie Romero, aka "Gadfly" speaks to David Aikman, former Time correspondent from Beijing and Author of "Jesus In Beijing" about the project strategy in February 2008, Washington D.C.

Gadfly on NBC4 Los Angeleshttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif


Online Videos by Veoh.com

This was aired on Friday August 08, 2008 at 5:00AM. It features key people who are in support of "The Gadly Project" and details how the church Hacienda Christian Fellowship has Gadflys full support. Visit Exodus8one and let your voices be heard when you still have time.

More about the Gadfly Project

Below is an embedded video of the press conference that was held on Wednesday August 6, 2008 for The Gadfly project which unfolded in Beijing China on August 5. In this event he brought attention to the plight of Chinese People of all faiths and also highlighted the increasing human rights deficiencies in China. He achieved this protest by creating artistic graffiti murals on the walls of two hotel rooms. He also made 2 effigies to illustrate those who have been effectively silenced by the Peoples Republic of China. Visit Exodus8one as he is still on the loose in China.


Online Videos by Veoh.com

8.07.2008

For those who have no voice

The Gadfly Project is underway!

A voice for the voiceless, Exodus8one, has finally been revealed. Those who of you who know anything about this may have been waiting and praying for years for this series of events--like me. Or this may be the first time you are learning about some of the things that have been happening in China.

Of course, not all is revealed yet. But you can see the beginnings here.

And one of the videos is here.

Already some of the links to the above video have been disappearing. So you might want to view it soon.

8.05.2008

Read these books or you'll never see your puppy again


Becky over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction tagged me for a meme. We'll see if I'm up to the task. I'm so blog-rusty that I don't even have any blog-friends. Sigh.

I may be breaking the rules, because one of my picks is from ABA.

HERE ARE THE RULES (I THINK)
I’m going to list five MUST Read novels and five Keep Your Eyes on These novels, then tag five bloggers who I’m asking to post my list on their site. They may then add one book to each list but must also subtract one book. Finally they should tag five other bloggers, link here at Alien Dream, and comment to this post so visitors here know to check out how they may have changed the list.

My additions are in bold. Hee hee.

Five MUST Reads:
Demon: a Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress)
Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer (WaterBrook)
To Dance in the Desert by Kathleen Popa (Cook Communications)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress)
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge (Tor)

Five Keep Your Eyes On These:
Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (WaterBrook)
Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook)
The Hunted by Mike Dellosso (Realms)
The Legend of the FireFish by George Bryan Polivka (Harvest House)

AND I'M GOING TO ADD THIS:
FIVE BOOKS TO LOOK FOR SOON:

Shade by John Olson (B&H)
Field of Blood by Eric Wilson (Thomas Nelson)
Conspiracy in Kiev by Noel Hynd (Zondervan)
Stepping into Sunlight by Sharon Hinck (Bethany)
Hero, Second Class by Mitchell Bonds (Marcher Lord Press)

The bloggers I’m asking to post the lists (and make one book-for-book change to each list if they wish):
Rachel
Mark Goodyear
Mike Dellosso
Sharon Hinck

7.25.2008

Black on White


Sing and think about what comes next. Words touch page and worlds begin. The start of something lovely. The death of something awful. It all starts with a series of black and white, a trail, rabbits hop. Not obedient. They disobey. Run their own way, burrow through soft brown dirt, cast a mist of clay into the air.

Flow.

Go with it. Let the dream roll over your mind. Let the words take you away to somewhere else. Not here. Never here. Must escape. Would pay any price to get away, to be free.

To be. Black on white.

Clear and precise. Not like life. Red and flesh and bone. All put into rhythm and song, made pretty so someone will stop. And look. Read. Become the story. Become the character. Wear his flesh, turn around, look in the mirror.

Smile.

Stay.

In the black and white world of words. Longer and then longer still. Put the world on hold. Forget to eat, to sleep, to work. Let the phone ring, the door knock, the bills pile up. Cut the contacts with outside. Crawl inside where it’s oh so . . .

Safe.

7.14.2008

Off the Menu . . . temporarily


Temporarily off the menu, dogs squeeze inside cages as trucks transport them near Beijing, China. Apparently both cats and dogs will be taken off the menu during the upcoming Olympics.

I'm sorry, but this is really upsetting to me.

7.10.2008

Fiction FIRST Excerpt: A Mile in my Flipflops by Melody Carlson



It is July FIRST, time for the FIRST Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and her latest book's FIRST chapter!




The feature author is:



and her book:

A Mile in My Flip-Flops

WaterBrook Press (June 17, 2008)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

In sixth grade, Melody Carlson helped start a school newspaper called The BuccaNews (her schoolís mascot was a Buccaneer...arrr!). As editor of this paper, she wrote most of the material herself, creating goofy phony bylines to hide the fact that the school newspaper was mostly a "one man" show.

Visit Melody's website to see all of her wonderful and various book titles.

Don't miss her latest teen fiction, Stealing Bradford (Carter House Girls, Book 2).


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 17, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1400073146

ISBN-13: 978-1400073146

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Iím not the kind of girl who wants anyone to feel sorry for her.

So after my fiancÈ jilted me less than four weeks before our wedding date, and since the invitations had already been sent, my only recourse was to lie low and wait for everyone to simply forget.

Consequently, I became a recluse. If I wasnít at work, teaching a delightful class of five-year-olds, who couldnít care less about my shattered love life, I could be found holed up in my apartment, escaping all unnecessary interaction with ìsympatheticî friends.

And that is how I became addicted to HGTV and ice cream. Okay, that probably calls for some explanation. HGTV stands for Home and Garden TV, a network that runs 24/7 and is what I consider the highest form of comfort TV. It is habit forming, albeit slightly mind numbing. And ice cream obviously needs no explanation.

Other than the fact that my dad, bless his heart, had seven quart-sized cartons of Ben & Jerryís delivered to my apartment the day after Collin dumped me. Appropriately enough, dear old Dad (who knows me better than anyone on the planet) selected a flavor called Chocolate Therapy, a product worthy of its name and just as addictive as HGTV.

But now, eighteen months and twenty-two pounds later, I seem to be in a rut. And apparently Iím not the only one who thinks so.

ìCome on, Gretchen,î urges my best friend, Holly, from her end of the phone line. ìJust come with usñplease!î

ìRightÖ,î I mutter as I lick my spoon and dip it back into a freshly opened carton of Chunky Monkeyñalso appropriately named, but letís not go there. Anyway, not only had I moved on to new ice cream flavors, but I also had given up using bowls. ìLike I want to tag along with the newlyweds. Thanks, but no thanks.î

ìLike I keep telling you, weíre not newlyweds anymore,î she insists. ìWeíve been married three months now.î

ìYeahÖwellÖî

ìAnd itís Cinco de Mayo,î she persists, using that little girl voice that I first heard when we became best friends back in third grade. ìWe always go together.î

I consider this. I want to point out that Holly and I used to always go to the Cinco de Mayo celebration togetherñas in past tense. And despite her pity for me, or perhaps itís just some sort of misplaced guilt because sheís married and I am not, I think the days of hanging with my best friend are pretty much over now. The image of Holly and Justin, both good looking enough to be models, strolling around holding hands with frumpy, dumpy me tagging along behind them like their poor, single, reject friend just doesnít work for me.

ìThanks anyway,î I tell her. ìBut Iím kind of busy today.î

ìSo what are you doing then?î I hear the challenge in her voice, like she thinks I donít have anything to do on a Saturday.

I slump back into the sofa and look over to the muted TV, which is tuned, of course, to HGTV, where my favorite show, House Flippers, is about to begin, and I donít want to miss a minute of it. ìIím, uhÖIíve got lesson plans to do,î I say quickly. This is actually true, although I donít usually do them until Sunday evening.

She snickers. ìYeah, thatís a good one, Gretch. Iíll bet youíre vegging out in front of HGTV with a carton of Chocolate Fudge Brownie.î

ìWrong.î Okay, Holly is only partially wrong. Fortunately, I havenít told her about my latest flavor.

ìCome on,î she tries again. ìItíll be fun. You can bring Riley along. Heíd probably like to stretch his legs.î

I glance over to where my usually hyper, chocolate Lab mixed breed is snoozing on his LL Bean doggy bed with a chewed-up and slightly soggy Cole Haan loafer tucked under his muzzle. ìRileyís napping,î I say. ìHe doesnít want to be disturbed.î

ìLike he wouldnít want to go out and get some fresh air and sunshine?î

ìWe already had our walk today."

Holly laughs. ìYou mean that little shuffle you do over to the itty bitty park across the street from your apartment complex? Whatís that take? Like seven and a half minutes for the whole round trip? Thatís not enough exercise for a growing dog like Riley.î

ìI threw a ball for him to chase.î

ìSo thereís nothing I can do or say to change your mind?î House Flippers is just starting. ìNope,î I say, trying to end this conversation. ìBut thanks for thinking of me.î

ìWant me to bring you back an empanada?î

ìSure,î I say quickly. ìYou guys have fun!î Then I hang up and, taking the TV off mute, I lean back into the soft chenille sofa and lose myself while watching a hapless couple from Florida renovate a seriously run-down split-level into something they hope to sell for a profit. Unfortunately, neither of them is terribly clever when it comes to remodeling basics. And their taste in interior design is sadly lacking too. The womanís favorite color is rose, which she uses liberally throughout the house, and she actually thinks that buyers will appreciate the dated brown tiles and bathroom fixtures in the powder room. By the time the show ends, not only is the house still on the market despite the reduced price and open house, but the coupleís marriage seems to be in real trouble as well.

ìToo bad,î I say out loud as I mute the TV for commercials. Rileyís head jerks up, and he looks at me with expectant eyes.

ìYou just keep being a good boy,î I tell him in a soothing tone. Hopefully, heíll stretch out this midday nap a bit longer. Because once Riley starts moving, my tiny apartment seems to shrink, first by inches and then by feet.

My hope for an elongated nap crumbles when his tail begins to beat rhythmically on the floor, almost like a warningñthump, thump, thumpñand the next thing I know, heís up and prowling around the cluttered living room. Riley isnít even full grown yet, and heís already way too much dog for my apartment. Holly warned me that his breed needed room to romp and play. She tried to talk me into a little dog, like a Yorkie or Chihuahua, but I had fallen for those liquid amber eyesÖand did I mention that heís part chocolate Lab? Since when have I been able to resist chocolate? Besides, he reminded me of a cuddly brown teddy bear. But I hardly considered the fact that he would get bigger.

After he climbed into my lap that day, licking my face and smelling of puppy breath and other things that I knew could be shampooed away, there was no way I could leave him behind at the Humane Society. I already knew that heíd been rejected as a Christmas present. Some dimwitted father had gotten him for toddler twins without consulting Mommy first. Even so, Holly tried to convince me that a good-looking puppy like that would quickly find another home.

But it was too late. I knew Riley was meant for me, and that was that. And I had grandiose ideas of taking him for long walks on the beach. ìHeíll help me get in shape,î I assured Holly. Sheíd long since given up on me going to the fitness club with her, so I think she bought into the whole exercise theory. She also bought Riley his LL Bean deluxe doggy bed, which I could barely wedge into my already crowded apartment and now takes up most of the dining area, even though itís partially tucked beneath a gorgeous craftsman-style Ethan Allen dining room set. Although itís hard to tell that itís gorgeous since itís pushed up against a wall and covered with boxes of Pottery Barn kitchen items that wonít fit into my limited cabinet space.

ìThis place is way too small for us,î I say to Riley as I shove the half-full ice cream carton back into the freezer. As if to confirm this, his wagging tail whacks an oversized dried arrangement in a large bronze vase, sending seedpods, leaves, and twigs flying across the carpet and adding to the general atmosphere of chaos and confusion.

My decorating style? Contemporary clutter with a little eclectic disorder thrown in for special effect. Although, to be fair, thatís not the real me. Iím sure the real me could make a real place look like a million bucks. That is, if I had a real placeÖor a million bucks.

I let out a long sigh as I stand amid my clutter and survey my crowded apartment. Itís been like this for almost two years now.

Overly filled with all the stuff I purchased shortly after Collin proposed to me more than two years ago. Using my meager teacherís salary and skimpy savings, I started planning the interior dÈcor for our new home. I couldnít wait to put it all together after the wedding.

ìHave you ever heard of wedding presents?î Holly asked me when she first realized what I was doing.

ìOf course,î I assured her. ìBut I canít expect the guests to provide everything for our home. I figured I might as well get started myself. Look at this great set of espresso cups that I got at Crate & Barrel last weekend for thirty percent off.î

ìWell, at least you have good taste,î she admitted as she stooped to admire a hand-tied wool area rug Iíd just gotten on sale. Of course, she gasped when she saw the price tag still on it. ìExpensive taste too!î

ìItíll last a lifetime,î I assured her, just like the Karastan salesman had assured me. Of course, as it turned out, my entire relationship with Collin didnít even last two years. Now Iím stuck with a rug thatís too big to fit in this crummy little one-bedroom apartmentñthe same apartment Iíd given Mr. Yamamoto notice on two months before my wedding. It was so humiliating to have to beg to keep it after the wedding was cancelled, but I didnít know what else to do.

And now, a year and a half later, Iím still here. Stuck. Itís like everyone else has moved on with their lives except me. It wouldnít be so bad if I had enough room to make myself at home or enough room for Riley to wag his tail without causing mass destructionÖor enough room to simply breathe. Maybe I should rent a storage unit for all this stuff. Or maybe I should move myself into a storage unit since it would probably be bigger than this apartment.

As I pick up Rileyís newest mess, I decide the bottom line is that I need to make a decision. Get rid of some thingsñwhether by storage, a yard sale, or charityñor else get more space. I vote for more space. Not that I can afford more space. Iím already strapped as it is.

Kindergarten teachers donít make a whole lot. I feel like Iíve created a prison for myself. What used to be a convenient hideout now feels like a trap, and these thin walls seem to be closing in on me daily. Feeling hopeless, I flop back onto the couch and ponder my limited options. Then I consider forgetting the whole thing and escaping back into HGTV, which might call for some more ice cream.

But thatís when I look down and notice my thighs spreading out like two very large slabs of ham. Very pale ham, I might add as I tug at my snug shorts to help cover what I donít want to see, but itís not working. I stare at my flabby legs in horror. When did this happen?

I stand up now, trying to erase that frightening image of enormous, white thunder thighs. I pace around my apartment a bit before I finally go and stand in front of an oversized mirror thatís leaning against the wall near the front door. This is a beautiful mirror I got half price at World Market, but it belongs in a large home, possibly over a fireplace or in a lovely foyer. And it will probably be broken by Rileyís antics if it remains against this wall much longer.

But instead of admiring the heavy bronze frame of the mirror like I usually do, I actually look into the mirror and am slightly stunned at what I see. Who is that frumpy girl? And who let her into my apartment? I actually used to think I was sort of good looking. Not a babe, mind you, but okay. Today I see a faded girl with disappointed eyes.

Some people, probably encouraged by Holly, a long-legged dazzling brunette, used to say I resembled Nicole Kidman. Although they probably were thinking of when Nicole was heavier and I was lighter. Now itís a pretty big stretch to see any similarities. To add insult to injury, Nicole has already hit the big ìfour o,î whereas I am only thirty-two. Her forties might be yesterdayís twenties, but my thirties look more like someone elseís fifties. And I used to take better care of myself. Okay, I was never thin, but I did eat right and got exercise from jogging and rollerblading. Compared to now, I was in great shape. And my long strawberry blond hair, which I thought was my best asset, was usually wavy and fresh looking, although you wouldnít know that now. Itís unwashed and pulled tightly into a shabby-looking ponytail, which accentuates my pudgy face and pale skin. Even my freckles have faded. It doesnít help matters that my worn T-shirt (with a peeling logo that proclaims ìMy Teacher Gets an A+î) is saggy and baggy, and my Old Navy khaki shorts, as Iíve just observed, are too tight, and my rubber flip-flops look like they belong on a homeless personñalthough I could easily be mistaken for one if I was pushing a shopping cart down the street.

Then, in the midst of this pathetic personal inventory, my focus shifts to all the junk thatís piled behind meñthe boxes, the myriad of stuff lining the short, narrow hallway and even spilling into the open door of my tiny bedroom, which can barely contain the queensize bed and bronze bedframe still in the packing box behind it. If it wasnít so depressing, it would almost be funny. I just shake my head. And then I notice Riley standing strangely still behind me and looking almost as confused as I feel. With his head slightly cocked to one side, he watches me curiously, as if he, too, is afraid to move. This is nuts. Totally certifiable. A girl, or even a dog, could seriously lose it living like this. Or maybe I already have. They say youíre always the last to know that youíve lost your marbles.

ìItís time for a change,î I announce to Riley. He wags his tail happily now, as if he wholeheartedly agrees. Or maybe he simply thinks Iím offering to take him on a nice, long walk. ìWe need a real house,î I continue, gathering steam now. ìAnd we need a real yard for you to run and play in.î Of course, this only excites him more.

And thatís when he begins to run about the apartment like a possessed thing, bumping into boxes and furnishings until I finally open the sliding door and send him out to the tiny deck to calm himself.

After he settles down, I go and join him. Itís pretty hot out here, and I notice that the seedling sunflower plants, ones weíd started in the classroom and Iíd brought home to nurture along, are now hanging limp and lifeless, tortured by the hot afternoon sun that bakes this little patio. Just one more thing I hate about this place.

So much for my attempt at terrace gardening. Iíd seen a show on HGTV that inspired me to turn this little square of cement deck into a real oasis. But in reality itís simply a barren desert that will only get worse as the summer gets hotter. I feel like Iím on the verge of tears now. Itís hopeless.

This is all wrong. On so many levels. This is not where I was supposed to be at this stage of the game. This is not the life I had planned. I feel like Iíve been robbed or tricked or like someone ripped the rug out from under me. And sometimes in moments like this, I even resent God and question my faith in him. I wonder why he allows things like this to happen. Why does he let innocent people get hurt by the selfishness of others? It just doesnít make sense. And itís not fair.

Oh, Iíve tried to convince myself Iím over the fact that my ex fiancÈ, Collin Fairfield, was a total jerk. And I try not to blame him for being swept away when his high school sweetheart decided, after fifteen years of being apart, that she was truly in love with him. I heard that the revelation came to Selena at the same time she received our engraved wedding invitation, which I did not send to her. She wasnít even on my list.

And I actually believe that Iíve mostly forgiven CollinÖand that sneaky Selena too. And I wish them well, although I didnít attend their wedding last fall. A girl has to draw the line somewhere.

But all that aside, this is still so wrong. I do not belong in this stuffy little apartment thatís cluttered with my pretty household goods. I belong in a real house. A house with a white picket fence and a lawn and fruit trees in the backyard. And being single shouldnít mean that I donít get to have that. There must be some way I can afford a home.

Of course, Iím fully aware that real estate isnít cheap in El Ocaso. Itís on the news regularly. Our townís prices certainly arenít as outrageous as some of the suburbs around San Diego, but theyíre not exactly affordable on a teacherís salary. I try not to remember how much I had in my savings account back before I got engaged and got carried away with spending on my wedding and my home. That pretty much depleted what mightíve gone toward a small down payment on what probably wouldíve been a very small house. But, hey, even a small house would be better than this prison-cell apartment.

And thatís when it hits me. And itís so totally obvious I canít believe I didnít think of it sooner. I will become a house flipper! Just like the people on my favorite HGTV show, I will figure out a way to secure a short-term loan, purchase a fixer-upper house, and do the repairs and decorating myselfñwith my dadís expert help, of course!

And then, maybe as early as midsummer, I will sell this beautifully renovated house for enough profit to make a good-sized down payment on another house just for meÖand Riley. Even if the secondhouse is a fixer-upper too, I can take my time with it, making it just the way I want it. And itíll be so much better than where I live now.

Iím surprised I didnít come up with this idea months ago. Itís so totally simple. Totally perfect. And totally me!

ìWe are going house hunting,î I announce to Riley as I shove open the sliding door and march back inside the apartment. His whole body is wagging with doggy joy as I quickly exchange my too-tight shorts for jeans and then reach for his leather leash and my Dolce & Gabbana knockoff bagñthe one I bought to carry on my honeymoon, the honeymoon that never was. I avoid looking at my image in the big mirror as we make a hasty exit.

ìCome on, boy,î I say as I hook the leash to his collar at the top of the stairs. ìThis is going to be fun!î And since this outing is in the spirit of fun, I even put down the top on my VW Bug, something I havenít done in ages. Riley looks like heís died and gone to doggy heaven as he rides joyfully in the backseat, his ears flapping in the breeze. Who knows, maybe weíll find a house for sale on the beach.

Okay, itíd have to be a run-down, ramshackle sort of place that no one but me can see the hidden value in, but it could happen. And while I renovate my soon-to-be wonder house, Riley can be king of the beach. The possibilities seem limitless. And when I stop at the grocery store to pick up real-estate papers, I am impressed with how many listings there are. But I canít read and drive, so I decide to focus on driving. And since I know this town like the back of my hand, this should be easy.

But thanks to the Cinco de Mayo celebration, the downtown area is crowded, so I start my search on the south end of town, trying to avoid traffic jams. Iím aware that this area is a little pricey for me, but you never know. First, I pull over into a parking lot and read the fliers. I read about several houses for sale, but the prices are staggering.

Even more than I imagined. Also, based on the descriptions and photos, these houses already seem to be in great shape. No fixer-uppers here. Then I notice some condo units for sale, and I can imagine finding a run-down unit in need of a little TLC, but itís the same situation. According to the fliers, theyíre in tiptop, turnkey shapeñrecently remodeled with granite counters and cherry hardwood floors and new carpeting and prices so high I canít imagine doing anything that could push them a penny higher. My profit margin and spirits are steadily sinking. Maybe my idea to flip a house has already flopped. Just like the rest of my life.


Excerpted from A Mile in My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson Copyright © 2008 by Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


7.04.2008

Coldplay Clocks Video


Can you tell I love Coldplay?

One thing I love about this video is that it shows the crowds' reaction to the music. They all know the words and nod in time to the rhythm.

But there was a point in time when Chris Martin was just a guy, like anybody else. Back before he was famous. He was a guy with a dream. And lots of talent.

And today, his music blesses millions of people.

I love that aspect of art. Stick with it. Don't give up. God can use that talent you have. You might not all be as brilliant as the current superstar, but you still have the opportunity to use your talents to inspire those around you.

Besides, every superstar started out like a regular guy.

7.03.2008


My Thirteen Favorite Cancelled TV Shows By Merrie Destefano


1. Star Trek
2. Eureka
3. Journeyman
4. Lost in Space
5. Frasier
6. Seinfield
7. Babylon 5
8. News Radio
9. Studio 60
10. Sports Night
11. Firefly
12. Eyes
13. Battlestar Galactica (the current show: I know it's not canceled yet, but it will be! Boo hoo.)



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


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