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 Down to Business, Aleksandra Petrova
Lara Brennan
 Posted: Sep 30 2017, 08:48 AM
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Stranger
Jen


Lara considered herself a good business woman, at least when it came to getting a good bargain on some decent pot, but it turns out bakeries are much harder to run than a simple drug deal. It was the whole people aspect, really. She just didn’t understand them. Sure, she understood her serious expression could be intimidating, but she wasn’t about to smile needlessly. Her smiles were saved for special occasions. In fact, she wasn’t sure she’d smiled a single time out of anything other than politeness since she got to Lochland unless it was at her cat Ginger doing something stupid like getting himself stuck in a cereal box. That was special indeed.

Because of her smile deficiency, she’d noticed some kids seemed to be either scared or intimidated by her. She of course then started hanging out in the kitchen or her office for a couple of hours after the local school was out to avoid scaring off any of the kids. That’s one reason why Graz was hired as a cashier. She was much a much less intimidating face to buy sweets from. Still though, she needed other ways to keep customers coming. Ways that weren’t illegal or too inconvenient.

She’d ended up studying the Java Star to look for such methods, but couldn’t quite piece things together. The products were good of course, but so were the ones at the bakery though they might taste different from each other. So clearly their success wasn’t simply due to the quality…

Lara had nothing better to do when she wasn’t needed at the bakery, so she just sat at the Java Star to make observations for hours that day, occasionally standing up to buy a thing just so they wouldn’t think she was mooching off the free wifi. She sat alone at a table for two, typing away on her iPad with a cookie that sat on a napkin next to it, and a cup of tea. What was she typing? It usually varied from a spreadsheet for the bakery’s income and expenses to some smutty Korrasami fanfic that she’d never post anywhere. Thankfully, today was the former rather than the latter.

((Outfit))
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Aleksandra Petrova
 Posted: Oct 1 2017, 12:23 AM
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Aleks had come in later than usual today since she’d had some Skype business meetings with the other managers from the other shops around the nation. She preferred to do those at home instead of at work but she had something she had to take care of at the shop and Waylen had some after school activities he had signed up for so she was free for a while. So when she arrived at her shop she smiled looking around at everyone greeting the regulars as well as some new faces as she headed toward her office.

As soon as she walked into her office she was slightly confused when the manager followed her in. “I know you don’t mind people being here all day but there’s a woman that has been her for quite awhile. I just wanted to give you a heads up. She’s the one with the laptop.”the female said and Aleks tilted her head and pulled up her cameras that were more of a safety precaution then anything. She smiled seeing the woman her manager told her about. ”Oh don’t worry. I can guarantee she isn’t here to cause trouble. Have you had your break yet?” Aleks wasn’t surprised when her manager shook her head. This particular manager preferred later breaks so Aleks tended to make her take breaks because typically she forgot. ”Go ahead and take your break. I can handle it for a while.”she told her and was met with a nod and an exiting manager.

Grabbing her apron from her hook she wrapped it around her waist and headed out her door. Walking out to the counter she looked around and smiled at her baristas. She asked what the woman was having and smiled before making the tea in the new mugs for the month of October and headed over with a tray. ”Hi. You’re a new face around here. You own the bakery right?”she asked with a sweet smile as she put the mug of tea in front of the woman. Aleks preferred talking to the new faces first and this was a fellow business owner. She just wanted to be polite though she had a feeling her managers thought otherwise.

{Outfit}

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Lara Brennan
 Posted: Oct 2 2017, 09:32 PM
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Stranger
Jen


Lara definitely wasn’t up to trouble. She wasn’t above sabotaging a business whose owner she didn’t like, but she didn’t see the Java Seat as competition. They were two different business and though they had some menu items in common, each had their own taste so no one was really taking business from the other as far as she knew. Besides, judging from what she’d heard about Aleks, she actually had an admiration for this owner. She seemed to run a business so well even by doing things that puzzled the hell out of Lara.

Not only did the menu state that they gave out free stuff, but she’d seen it happen with her own eyes in the past few hours. It really puzzled Lara how one could make business by giving away their stuff so easily, but she supposed she was too new to this to understand. She was no stranger to giving out free stuff either. If employees didn’t everything home by the end of the day, she’d give those leftovers to a local soup kitchen or something. It was more out of convenience than the kindness of her heart though. It would have to be composted if not and she didn’t like serving day-old treats or wasting food regardless of how much of it was left.

As she saw Aleks approaching, she watched her with a mix of curiosity and panic. Great. She was getting kicked out, right? That was so unnecessary. It’s not like she was hogging that much space up. Even in her table for two she kept things neatly on her side of the table, but she wasn’t one to argue over such things and was prepared to pack up her iPad until a new mug of tea was placed in front of her half-empty one.

“Yes. You need me to leave?” Lara asked, assuming this was either the most polite or passive-aggressive method of kicking someone else she’d ever seen. The passive-aggressive thing was simply because the menu stated they gave free stuff to who they saw fit. So, what? Did they think she was too poor to afford another cup of tea or something? Or was Lara just being paranoid? Probably the second option.

“I was just getting some work done.” And spying on the Java Star’s business practices.
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Aleksandra Petrova
 Posted: Oct 2 2017, 11:49 PM
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Aleks wasn’t new to people questioning her business methods. In fact when she first open she had quite a few people think she was lying about the free items. A lot of employees had even questioned her kindness. She would just smile and explain that everyone needed something to make them smile. There wasn’t enough kindness in the world today and so she gave things away to see the smiles, to hear the giggles of a child instead of tears. Aleks loved making people smile and if that meant giving something away for free weather it was a cookie or a free tea or coffee. She would be more than willing to share her good fortune. She could afford to. She even gave anything left to employees if they wanted or before closing she’d give them to someone for free in a box to go. Just to make them smile. It always made her day to make someone else’s day 10xs better.

’Yes. You need me to leave?’ Smiling and shaking her head, ”Hardly. I just wanted to come over and say hi. Introduce myself.”she said looking at her as she held the tray. She had only kicked out one person since opening her shop and that was because he had been drunk and was causing problems and knocking things over and being destructive. Aleks had forced him out of the door and locked the door to protect those inside her shop and called the police. It had luckily been the only time that had ever happened and she hadn’t doing it. She didn’t like making people feel unwelcome. She promised herself this would be a place for everyone no matter who they were, what they believed, and where they worked, even if it was a coffee shop like hers. She didn’t care as long as they weren’t a threat to her customers and employees.

”Oh please. By all means. I don’t mind. Do all the work you need.”she said softly smiling at her. If she needed, Aleks would even leave her to her work. She didn’t want to be a bother to the woman. She just wanted to be friendly.

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Lara Brennan
 Posted: Oct 3 2017, 10:34 AM
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Stranger
Jen


Lara on the other hand was constantly kicking customers out. There hadn’t been a lot of trouble from selling drugs out of the bakery, but sometimes some sketchy people would come in clearly looking for trouble. They’d come in only to be invited to Lara’s office. No one knew what exactly happened behind her office door, but what they knew is a few minutes later the sketchy person would come out with their head hung low and an emptiness in their eyes. She was pretty good at scaring people off.

Most customers were good though. Usually groups of college girls wanting a safer transaction and edibles that actually tasted good. She didn’t sell to the teenagers of course…unless they provided an ID. Hey, who was she to question whether it was real or not? She was sure there was a perfectly valid reason for why the white guy handing an ID would’ve been Asian at the time of taking the picture.

”Hardly. I just wanted to come over and say hi. Introduce myself.” Lara could appreciate that as she’d been wanting to meet Aleks anyway. There was probably so much she could learn from her as a new business owner. “Oh, hi. My name’s Lara.” That was her best attempt at conversation. She wasn’t exactly experienced it and it might’ve showed. Not that there was any indication she was nervous or anything, but simply a very reserved person.

”I was just about done with my work anyway, but it’s nice here. I might hang out for a bit.” It was nice back at the office of her bakery too, but she had to show her employees some trust at some point. She only hoped they kept running things as smoothly as she liked. She’d be back after a while and there would be hell to pay if not. And by hell to pay she meant some very stern warnings and intimidating stares. What? She may look mean at times but she’s no dictator.
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Aleksandra Petrova
 Posted: Oct 7 2017, 11:23 PM
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Everyone had different business practices and every business was judged by those practices. Aleks hated it because she’d had people say she was way too nice and that she shouldn’t just hand things out. She’d had people complain about PDA before and though she doesn’t want anyone full on making out or anything in her shop because of the children she didn’t mind a little peck or something so simple. Aleks smiled hearing her introduce herself. ”Pleasure to meet you,Lara. I’m Aleks. Welcome to my little shop, Java Star.”she said smiling at her. Aleks didn’t want to be too much of a bother and if she was busy she didn’t want to be a bother.

Nodding she understood about being almost done with her work. She smiled at the compliment and nodded. ”Thank you. You can hang out for as long as you need or want to. I don’t mind.”she said smiling at the woman in front of her. She could understand stepping away from the shop for awhile. Not only to give the employees a break from the boss but to show that you trust them as well as just needing a change of scenery. Aleks hand to admit that was always nice and she’d done it a few times in the past. Mostly when she had full coverage and wasn’t needed at all in the shop.

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Lara Brennan
 Posted: Oct 9 2017, 09:58 PM
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Stranger
Jen


”Pleasure to meet you,Lara. I’m Aleks. Welcome to my little shop, Java Star.” “Little?That’s an understatement,” Lara sort of blurted without thinking. Well, she hoped Aleks didn’t think that came off as rude, but if she did Lara couldn’t really apologize. That would make it seem like it really was rude when in reality she hadn’t meant it like that. She liked to own up to her small blunders instead and move on from the topic. “I’ve just heard it’s pretty successful. It has multiple locations, right?” She hadn’t actually heard so much as read up on it.

Aleks wouldn’t notice this since they’d been talking for like, a few minutes minutes, but this was very talkative for Lara, mainly because she actually wanted to get advice from Aleks. She wasn’t one to ask for questions directly, but she’d hope the other would be willing to carry most of the conversation, otherwise Lara would be at a loss for words. Communication was clearly not her strong suit.

”Thank you. You can hang out for as long as you need or want to. I don’t mind.” She definitely would do so, at least for a little bit. Lara was very much paranoid about what could be going on in the shop. One employee had already messed up an order, accidentally giving away pot brownies to someone who hadn’t ordered them. It hadn’t happened again as far as she knew, but plenty of other things could go wrong, and she still hadn’t fired that one troublesome employee who could potentially be the cause of said disaster. It was unlikely since crazy things didn’t usually happen at the shop, but still. She’d certainly go back to the bakery before closing.
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Aleksandra Petrova
 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 12:58 AM
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Hearing Lara she laughed lightly and nodded with a bright smile. ”I suppose it’s not so little anymore.”she said looking around her second home. She was proud of what she had built this place into and it was a second child to her. She had done so much in such a short time that she wasn’t expecting it. Glancing back to Lara she nodded, ”7 locations all together. This is technically the second shop. I had opened the first in Louisiana but the flood pushed me out of my location and Lochland welcomed me with open arms.”she said smiling at the memories from her original shop. She missed it sometimes and she had reopened it first when she received the benefactor and rehired whoever wished to return.

Sitting down in the seat across from Lara she held the tray in her lap and smiled at Lara. ”How do you like owning the bakery? It must be interesting smelling all those delicious baked goods all the time.”Aleks asked smiling. She’d heard the rumors of what was being sold out of the bakery and she really didn’t care. It was Lara’s choice of business. It honestly didn’t matter to Aleks one way or another. It was Lara’s preference and that was none of Aleks’ business. But she had walked by the bakery so many times and loved the smells that poured out from the door. It had inspired so many of her smell goods in fact. Aleks loved talking business with another business owner.

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Lara Brennan
 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 09:31 AM
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Stranger
Jen


”I suppose it’s not so little anymore.”

”7 locations all together. This is technically the second shop. I had opened the first in Louisiana but the flood pushed me out of my location and Lochland welcomed me with open arms.”


“That’s interesting.” Not so much the 7 locations, that Lara already knew, but how Aleks jumped back from a disaster like that. “How’d you get the idea to open the shop in the first place?”

Lara didn’t have as much a sense of pride for the bakery yet as Aleks did with her shop. She enjoyed working there, of course, and it was nice to have a routine, a place to be every day, but it was hard for her to get attached like that. She’d still leave at a moment’s notice if she had to, even if it meant leaving the place she’s working so hard on.

”How do you like owning the bakery? It must be interesting smelling all those delicious baked goods all the time.” Well, it smelled great most of the time, but not all of the time, not always in that one time a week where the edibles were baking. She covered that stuff in foil while it was still hot so it wouldn’t get the employees high, but sometimes a faint smell still escaped them. Luckily, no cop happened to walk past the store in those cases, but she wasn’t sure it was strong enough to be picked up by most anyway, and she might have to start baking them herself at night when no one was around, just as a precaution.

“I like it, gives me a sense of purpose," she nodded, “and it does smell really nice.” Again, most of the time.
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Aleksandra Petrova
 Posted: Oct 13 2017, 02:25 AM
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Scratching her cheek she blushed and smiled then thought back to the days she had been pregnant and working at a coffee shop. ”Well in truth I started working at a small coffee shop in Louisiana when I was pregnant with my son. I worked my way up the ranks and became manager of the shop. Well After working there for 3 years they announced they were closing the doors. I offered to buy it and they gave me a great price. So we closed and updated everything and changed the name and reopened. So I guess when I started I never planned on opening my own shop but they were getting older and wanted to retire. So I just asked and they loved it.”she said thinking back to her first days as owner of the shop. It hadn’t been easy but before they closed the doors they had allowed her to do everything so she would understand what she was getting herself into. Aleks had enjoyed it more than she ever thought possible.

Honestly talking about the first days in her own shop was something she didn’t do often but she loved talking about it. They were amazing days and though it wasn’t easy with having a little Waylen running around she had somehow managed it and she also had some great neighbors and staff that adored watching the little boy while she worked. Hearing her talk about her shop made her smile and she nodded. ”What made you want to buy the bakery? I mean it’s a lot to take on. Although most things like that aren’t easy to take on. Mine surely wasn’t but still.”she said curiously smiling at the woman sitting across from her. Aleks hoped she wasn’t bothering the woman. She hated feeling like a bother.

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Lara Brennan
 Posted: Oct 16 2017, 09:53 AM
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Stranger
Jen


After listening to Aleks talk about what led her to open the shop, Lara hummed.

”What made you want to buy the bakery? I mean it’s a lot to take on. Although most things like that aren’t easy to take on. Mine surely wasn’t but still.” It was definitely more work than Lara thought it would be, but to tell the truth, it wasn’t the hardest thing she’d gone through. It was a level of stress that she liked.

“I was job hunting and saw that it was up for sale about a week after moving here, figured it was the best kind of job for me.”
She didn’t like being told what to do or not having tasks that felt at least somewhat meaningful. A job where all she did was wash dishes and take orders simply wasn’t for her, and she didn’t have a resume with her, just money and a solid business plan. She’d wash dishes if that was all she could find, of course, but luckily, it didn’t get to that point.

“I guess I wasn’t planning on buying the bakery either, but I decided to keep the name and didn’t do much remodeling since it looked fine and I was more looking forward to updating the menu.” Though she was new to Lochland, she’d figured that it being a small town, the bakery was pretty well known and some people would have a problem with a newcomer making drastic changes to a local business that had been standing for over a decade.

“Making the menu is more fun for me anyway, you know?” She assumed Aleks might be able to relate to that statement. Deciding what to sell and how to decorate them was so relaxing, especially when it came to seasonal menus. That meant playing with colors and plenty of cute decorations.
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Aleksandra Petrova
 Posted: Oct 17 2017, 12:14 AM
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Sitting patiently she smiled waiting as she allowed Lara the time to think about her answer. She could understand that it wasn’t a question business owners got so often but Aleks had been asked enough to have some kind of a reply prepared. It was something she was use to. She got it mostly about her book but her shop got it a few times. It was an annual question she would get not that she cared about it much. It was just another question she was asked. ’I was job hunting and saw that it was up for sale.’ It was a completely reasonable reply and a lot of people liked being their own boss. Aleks had been alright with having a boss but she just hadn’t wanted the amazing place to close.

”I understand. If it wasn’t due to another having a very similar name I wouldn’t have changed it but I wanted to avoid later problems. Plus it was such an old building it was in major need of an upgrade. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done much. But I agree about making the menu.”she said smiling as she picked up the hand menu sitting on the table. Aleks loved designing them month to month. You were able to be so creative and make it however you wanted and such. It was so much fun.

Smiling up at the woman sitting across from her she smiled and nodded. ”My son likes to help me with mine. I let him ‘design’ one and then I’ll do one. He loves art so it helps him get creative. This month I took most of his design but its fun making it however you want. Get the artist vibes rolling with the menus and they can come out pretty amazing.”she said setting the menu back down on the table. It was one of her favorite monthly things to do for the shop besides the drink of the month. Aleks loved creating something new that so many people enjoyed. It was another way to make people happy and it made her happy as well.

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Lara Brennan
 Posted: Oct 21 2017, 05:26 PM
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”My son likes to help me with mine. I let him ‘design’ one and then I’ll do one. He loves art so it helps him get creative. This month I took most of his design but its fun making it however you want. Get the artist vibes rolling with the menus and they can come out pretty amazing.”

Kids. Why did everyone have those? Lara supposed they could be cute sometimes, and maybe a coffee shop was a good place to raise them, but still, kids. They just seemed like so much work. She wasn’t about to say that to a mother though. Everyone chose their own path in life and she was sure some people found it fulfilling and whatnot.

“Must be nice to share that with your kid.” Lara couldn’t relate to parenthood at all, but she assumed it was nice. Maybe those were the bonding moments between Aleks and her son. Between Lara and her fathers, it had been one of them teaching her self-defense and the other coaching her middle school soccer team, which was cute in its own way. They seemed happy having kids, so it must not be such a bad thing.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a main source of inspiration. Sometimes painting does it. Mixing colors around helps me figure out a color palette. Other times I just look up some ideas online and build off of that.” This was probably the most pleasant conversation she’d had since coming to Lochland. It was a simple topic, business, and she wasn’t having much trouble figuring out what to say anymore. She liked Aleks and felt pretty comfortable talking to her so far. It was a totally stress-free situation.

“I’ve done sales before of…herbal products and such.” It sounded like she’d sold something like tea, but it had been and still was pot, and Aleks may pick up on that if she believed the rumors. “But owning my own legit business is a lot more than I expected.”
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Aleksandra Petrova
 Posted: Nov 11 2017, 08:27 AM
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Aleks smiled and nodded at the mention of sharing it with her son. She looked down at the table a moment, completely lost in memories. ”Yeah. He’s all I have so yeah. It is nice I have someone to share it with.”she said sitting there and staring at the table then shook from her thoughts and looked up at her. ”Sorry. Don’t mind me.”she said with a faint smile. Despite it being the truth didn’t mean everyone wanted to hear her loneliness. Tilting her head she listened to Lara and nodded understanding. A lot of people were the same. Though everyone had their own level of inspiration. As well as their own wells to get inspiration.

”I’m not extremely artsy but I understand. I go to a website that I found that has thousands of menu ideas and use them as my inspiration.”she explained smiling at the hidden gem she had found. It had been far too long since she had sat down and talked with anyone about business. Though their businesses weren’t exactly the same they did sell some similar things. Aleks was pleasantly surprised with the comfortable conversation. Not that she expected it to be a horrible conversation.

As she spoke of having worked in sales of herbal products, Aleks wondered if perhaps the rumors she had heard were true but decided to not judge off of such words. Perhaps people had heard wrong. She smiled at her and nodded, ”When I first received full ownership of the shop it was a bit of a shock to my system. But I’ve learned and grown from my past. Weather it was mistakes or otherwise. Sometimes owning a business can be trial by fire. Just without the fire.”she said smiling at her fellow business owner.

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Lara Brennan
 Posted: Dec 6 2017, 05:50 PM
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“Yeah. He’s all I have so yeah. It is nice I have someone to share it with.” Lara couldn’t relate. She had no friends or family in Lochland to share her success with, so she supposed her employees could be her family… Nah, not even. She had no interest in getting to a level beyond boss and employee. If she became their friend, she had a feeling they’d start taking it a bit too easily around the place, and she liked her workers to be as much of a hard-ass as her, which was hard to achieve if they weren’t at least a little bit afraid of her. That wasn’t difficult to achieve either since she’d found she managed to scare a lot of people by her facial expression alone.

”I’m not extremely artsy but I understand. I go to a website that I found that has thousands of menu ideas and use them as my inspiration.” “Like Pinterest?” She asked out of curiosity. “I use that sometimes, or Tumblr or something.” She hated both websites, or social media in general…but she had to admit it was a good way to find some creative ideas. It was definitely better than physically going to places like a baking competition to find it. Well, she should probably go to one sometime to self-promote, but the whole idea of socializing was too much.

”When I first received full ownership of the shop it was a bit of a shock to my system. But I’ve learned and grown from my past. Weather it was mistakes or otherwise. Sometimes owning a business can be trial by fire. Just without the fire.” Lara hadn’t learned much from her mistakes in the past. She ran away from home, then ran away from her boyfriend’s home, and now she was here. Not that she didn’t have good reason for the latter, but still, she often repeated the same things she’d done in her past such as that and selling weed when she damn well knew how risky it was to do it at a place like her bakery. Well, hopefully she’d learn from her mistakes with the business itself. Since it had barely anything to do with personal issues, she assumed she’d be successful at some point.

“Hm, well, I should get going, but I’d love to talk more sometime. I could really use some advice with my business,” she said honestly. Lara was alone in this, much like Aleks probably had been, so she’d be able to provide some useful tips once in a while. If only Lara could engage in conversation for longer periods of time, she would’ve been able to hear some of those tips right now. “Would you mind exchanging numbers?” She asked, feeling a bit of a panic come up inside her chest, though her face revealed none of it. It was a big step for her to ask something like this.
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