Musing, Rants

Self Help

imagesI like to listen to books on audio and podcasts while I workout and do mundane chores.  It helps pass the time and I generally gain some knowledge or it gets the gears turning in my head and thus inspires a blog.  Here lately, I’ve noticed many of the podcasts I’m listening to have a self-help quotient to them.  I don’t think they are aiming to do that, I think it just happens organically.  Now that I think of it, I’ve noticed a bump in the self-help phenomenon everywhere – Facebook posts, Youtube channels, even just text conversations with friends about the latest self-help book.  It’s worse than New Year’s resolutions. It seems everyone is on a kick to make themselves into a better version of themselves.

I have nothing against bettering oneself.  One must do a certain amount of bettering oneself just to sustain – like eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise.  But, as of late, it seems like nothing is good enough.  It almost seems like we are encouraged to find something wrong and fix it.  This isn’t just our looks – that has been going on for generations. I see it more and more with personality traits and behavior.  There seems to be a desire to slap a label on everything and everybody and then once the problem is labeled it must be addressed.

For example, if someone had demanding parents which turned that person into a super overachiever that person is them somehow flawed. When did being a Type A perfectionist become flawed and how is that a problem?  Let’s say a person happens to be the last born in the family and a natural entertainer.  Why is it now a bad thing to be a natural born entertainer or a pleaser or a fixer?  One podcast I listen to is a husband and wife team. The husband in this duo has a medical condition – ADHD.  I love listening to him because I also have ADHD. It’s like I’m listening to myself only with a deep voice. The duo recently had some family therapist on the show telling the man how despite years of learning coping mechanisms so that he can better function in the “normal non ADHD world” he is still broken and he needs to change.  It was taking every ounce of self-control I had not to start yelling out loud back to the podcast.  Why does he need to change?  I understand how hard it is to keep one’s shit together with ADHD. I understand how life with a perfectionist can be hard to live with.  I get that being around the entertainer can be exhausting for those who just want to chill. But, having those traits do not make a person broken or in need of change.  If a person is happy with themselves and a functioning member of society why do they need to change in order to make others happy?  Where would our world be without the innovators, the free thinkers, and the overachievers? In today’s spirit of inclusion, why can’t we embrace that some people have certain strengths and weaknesses that others don’t possess? I can’t help but wonder if this is the modern version of the search for the meaning of life or is this our way of evolving?  Are we so interested in making everyone the same that if you aren’t the same you must be broken?

Photo Credit: Lifted off the internet. No copyright infringement intended. Blood/turnip. I’m broke and do this for free. Don’t sue me just ask me to take it down if it’s yours.

 

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Musing, Rants

Why Is This News?

300px-Barnum's_animals_examplesWhen one looks back at the discoveries and advances we as a society has made in the past 100, 50 or even 20 years, it quite literally boggles the mind. And, then I see articles like the two I’m going to talk about today and I’m left wondering if all hope for the future is lost. Have we really devolved so quickly?

The first one comes from the Today Show (link here) but can be found at all manner of sources.  Apparently, the Nabisco corporation felt the need to change the picture on the front of animal crackers to reflect the animals roaming freely instead of behind bars. Why are we hearing about this and how is this news?  It’s not. It’s just cookies and it’s just a packing change. Let’s face it packaging changes every five seconds for most products – every couple of years at least. This is not important.  It’s not even real animals. And, yet this change comes apparently because PETA had to make a giant federal case about the issue and pretend to be offended about the poor drawn animals behind bars on the box of Nabisco’s Animal Crackers.  Are you freaking kidding me?  This dear reader is fake news because it’s not really news at all. We shouldn’t have to hear about this. We should all just roll up into the Walmart, reach for a box of Animal Crackers and say to ourselves, “Hum, they changed the package.” No need for a PSA. No need for a Today show article. No need for any hoopla whatsoever. It’s just freakin’ cookies, people.

The next I can’t believe I am seeing this comes from a feature story I saw on Texas news station. However, a quick google search trying to find the link for said story yielded similar stories in Chicago and other cities and are being carried on nationwide outlets like CNBC and The Guardian.  So what was this feature story about? Apparently, not only can you hire a tutor for math and sports for your child but also for video games, specifically Fortnite.  I find this more outrageous than the animal crackers thing. While there’s no doubt computers and augmented reality is rapidly becoming a day to day thing, I don’t for one second think getting my kid a tutor for video games is going to help with anything of substance. Coding classes, design and technical skills and the like will certainly help my children down the road.  But, the ability to kick, username gamer4life’s ass in a game is not doing anything but line the pockets of the tutor. But, God bless that tutor for putting their shingle out there and offering their services. I guess there really is an idiot born every day.

Okay all joking aside, its these sort of stories that really have me questioning what this world is coming to and why are we hearing about this stuff. A million years ago, I was a Communications major with an emphasis on Journalism. I took courses on how to write a story that engages the public, media ethics and the history of journalism. It was drilled into our heads that we were the voice of the people. We were not only reporting the news of the day but reporting the important and influential issues of the time.  We were discouraged against sensationalism and the trivial. We are the informers.  Oh, a feel-good piece is always welcome but keep it just that – feel good drivel.  How in the hell are Animal Crackers and Fortnite tutors important or influential?  Someone, please enlighten me. Maybe this is why I changed my major from a Journalism emphasis to a general Communications degree.  I always thought it was because the head of that department was a mean old asshole and I didn’t want to deal with him. Maybe the Universe knew if I had pursued true journalism this is where we’d end up – talking about video game tutors and packaging for a cookie.  And, that I would end up quitting my job to write a blog (for free) focusing on topics that interest me and hopefully my readers. Now I understand, it was all apart of a bigger plan. (Cue Circle of Life from Lion King)

Photo Credit – I just googled animal crackers and tried to find a picture without a logo. This was it. No copyright infringement – blood/turnip, you know the drill. I’m broke and I write this blog for free. If this is your photo let me know and I’ll give you credit.

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Irony, Rants

Staw Poll

drink colorful color tube

I have to laugh at the various media outlets these days.  It seems like every couple of weeks there is a new contrived emergency that all of us need to drop everything and be outraged about.  This month’s emergency happens to be straws, more specifically, how plastic straws are ruining our environment.  This emergency de jour recently came at me not only through news outlets and social media but also live and in person.

Last weekend, I was at Lowes getting a part for my sprinkler system.  I put the muddy broken piece in a plastic grocery bag, a bag that I had already used at least twice I might add.  While looking for the part I needed, a clerk came up to offer help. After locating the replacement part, the clerk asked if I’d like to throw away the old part and pulled out a trash can from under a computer terminal. I said sure. The part was plastic, just like the bag it was in. I was going take it home and chuck it in my recycling cart but he was offering so why not. As soon as I threw the whole thing in the trash the man said, “You know that’s killing the earth, those bags and plastic straws  They wind up in a huge plastic ball island of trash floating in the ocean.”  I just rolled my eyes and walked away without a thank you for his help. I know that was bad manners but I was really just biting my tongue.  I really wanted to fire back at him.  I wanted to ask him to tell how are all these bags and straws ending up in the ocean. Are there people separating the straws and plastic bags from the various trash and recycling places, loading them up onto barges and hauling them off to the ocean? Do these straws and bags leap out of our trash cans and swim to the ocean much like turtles hatching from eggs on the shore? Has he personally seen this plastic floating island in the sea?  Furthermore, what about other plastic items? Are they part of this giant floating plastic bag and drinking straw island?

Yes, I am being a little salty and snarky. I freely admit it. It burns me up that the mysterious ‘they’ who drums up these contrived emergencies love to pick and choose their target.  Why is the current target drinking straws?  Why not all plastic in general? Here’s a bigger ‘why’.  Why hasn’t this mythical ‘they’ started targeting Keurig K-cup pods? Think about it about it, since becoming the must have Christmas gift of 2012, almost everyone has a Keurig machine or at least has used one.  They are everywhere.  Almost every waiting room from the doctor’s office to the oil change place has a Keurig machine. Many office buildings have them on each floor.  Almost every hotel has a Keurig machine in every guestroom. Have you ever seen anything other than a trash (not recycling) can for these pods?  Go to the coffee aisle in any supermarket, Target or Walmart and try to find a bag of coffee.  The choices for bag coffee are minuscule compared to the selection of Keurig K-cups.  A metric ton of these things must be getting manufactured and used annually and they are all made of plastic. Yes, K-cups can be recycled but to do it correctly it’s kind of a pain in the ass. You ‘should’ tear off the foil, wash out the grounds, then put the plastic pod in the recycle bin. How many people actually do that? What happens to those pods that don’t get the prewash and are just chucked in the recycle bin?  Do they wind up on that giant island of floating plastic? I haven’t a clue.  My guess is the reason you haven’t heard about how awful these things are for the environment is that no one wants to screw with the convenience of their coffee service.

For the record, I don’t think it’s stupid to encourage more environmentally friendly options. By all means, encourage, but don’t mandate and hey, random store employee, don’t judge.  If there is this island of plastic floating around in the ocean you can be sure we (Americans) aren’t the only one who contributed to it.  And, while we’re at it, mysterious ‘they’ don’t create an emergency over one specific thing – educate. Lastly, let me state I don’t own a Keurig because all I see is waste and expense and I drink entirely too much coffee. I would go bankrupt buying those stupid plastic pods. But, hey if you own a Keurig, drink up. You do you.

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Musing, Random, Rants

Breaking Up

img_1016I’m a lot of things but a quitter isn’t usually one of them.  I rarely broke up with anyone back in my dating years.  It took me forever to break up with Ikea.  I loved Ikea but Ikea didn’t love me back.  I adored all of the cheap, cool things with weird names. I didn’t mind you could get lost in the parking lot, nevermind the store itself.  I didn’t even mind putting everything together with that crazy little hex key wrench and cam locks.  Actually, I’m really good at it.  But, I had one too many instances of being stuck in the store trying to wrangle some impossibly heavy box only to come home and find a broken piece.  Then there was the whole return process.  After standing in line for 45 minutes I find out I can only get a replacement piece if they happen to have one in the back. Or, I would have to stand in another line to get a refund or I could just wait and just keep coming back in hopes they would have said piece because there is no way to order online and they won’t call you to let you know the piece is in.   It was after one of those instances I said, “Ikea, I’m breaking up with you. We are done.” And, I haven’t been back since.  Unfortunately, I fear another store is about to get the same treatment, Target.

I have to say my break up with Target has been a long time coming.  About five years ago they changed the cut of their Merona chino shorts. These were the best shorts ever. They fit so good and came in every color. They were just perfect. They were just the right length and didn’t ride up or do weird things – like I said perfect.  After the change, I was able to limp along with the ones I still had and found a few pairs at Goodwill.  So, that crisis was averted for a few years but alas all of my old pairs are worn out.  Now, I’m on the endless hunt for cute shorts that fit. Then came the whole gender and bathrooms thing. Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about who was in my bathroom all I ask is that you courtesy flush and don’t ask for a square.  When all that blew up I just wished my local Target would clean the bathroom and stock tissue. I even went as far as telling the service desk, “I don’t care who you let in the bathrooms just please stock toilet paper.”  The poor girl behind the counter looked thunderstruck.  Still, I gave Target a pass because they always had cute things. Let’s face it, Target rocks for Halloween and Christmas decorations. But, in the past few years, I just cannot get over the changes.  In trying to make themselves seem more edgy and hippy and distinguish themselves as different from other discount retailers (cough Walmart), Target has missed the mark.  Their store makeovers are horrible. You can’t find a thing. They’re laid out weird. They don’t even look like Target.  And, everyone knows all that remodeling means higher prices.

And, while we are at it lets discuss fashion. Target used to be my go-to for clothing and shoes. They had cute basics that were good quality for a fair price.  I never went into that store without buying something to wear.  Now, everything looks like grandma’s curtains. All those floral patterns, dusty pinks, and mustard yellows have me thinking it’s 1993.  Where are the acid washed jean overalls and tight rolled pants?  Honestly, who is in charge of buying?  It’s horrible. Okay, let’s play devil’s advocate and say this is the height of fashion and I’m just out of touch. That is entirely possible and plausible but nothing fits!!  I mean nothing.  Everything is ill-fitting and the fabric is paper thin.  I don’t know who Target is using as a clothing form but they must be some sort of mutant.  I know it’s not just me.  I have heard others say this too.  And, sizing, forget about it.  They are just suggestions.  My daughter and I went shopping a few weeks ago and came out with kids size large and ladies size medium all for her.  Those are two very different sizes. I went in today looking for basic solid t-shirts for myself and to check out the new Disney offerings.  The medium, large and extra large were all the same width but got longer as you went up a size. That is insane. The damn thing looked like a sausage casing no matter what size I tried on.  It just got longer. A medium should be smaller all over compared to a large or extra large not just longer.

So, I have just had it with you, Target.  It pains me to say it but Target run, we are SO done.  We are breaking up.  If you can get over your middle age crazy and find your way back to your old self I might take you back but as it stands now we are over.

P.S. – The photo credit goes to me. I snapped that picture in my Target’s parking lot. Looks nice, doesn’t it?  Don’t let it fool you. It’s a shit show in there.

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Rants

Consequences

I didn’t really want to write this piece but if it weren’t this time it will be another, so I’m just going to lay it out there.  A few months ago, after the Parkland, FL shooting, I wrote a piece about mental illness in our country.  I firmly believe poor mental health identification and treatment is one of the MANY reasons we are experiencing so many more mass shootings. I said many in all caps because I don’t believe it’s the only reason.  Much like any other complex problem, it’s a multi headed hydra.  There is no one cause and no one solution.  Talking heads are quick to point the finger at the weapon but personally, I believe it’s a people problem more so than any other factor.  More specifically, we are raising our children without real boundaries or real consequences which produces entitled individuals that believe they are above the rules.

It could be later but it seems like since the mid to late 1980s, children started being raised on a steady diet of yes with a side of self esteem building awards for existing.  Telling a child no, setting boundaries and physical punishment was deemed wrong. Those late 80s  children are now raising their own children on the same diet if not to a greater extent. Children are to be kept safe in a bubble without fear or exposure to real life situations.  Consequences are almost a foreign concept. Safety is the top priority – no skinned knees or goose eggs on the head allowed. And yet, children must have the opportunity to try every sport, instrument, and organized activity their little hearts desire.  After all, you may have given birth to the next Einstein. You can’t stifle their creativity. One only needs to have the dream and the will forget talent and aptitude. And, don’t worry, even if you suck at whatever you try you’ll get a trophy just for showing up.  While all these new safety measures and never-ending encouraging opportunities are framed as progress, is it really progress?  Have we taken away the natural consequences of poor judgment?  Have we erased all manner of teachable moments and real world problem solving?  Have we offered our children so many possibilities and opportunities that they are drowning in choice? Are we setting them up for failure because they are stretched too thin with no coping mechanisms? It certainly feels like it.

Volunteering heavily in elementary schools for the last 6 years has been an eye opener.  So many of these kids cop the “you aren’t the boss of me” attitude when you ask them to do something as simple as line up. Kids 30 years ago wouldn’t dream of acting like that to a teacher or parent for fear of getting called out (shamed) or getting a spanking.  Kids 30+ years ago had a healthy fear of authority and knew there would be consequences if they didn’t abide by the rules. Granted everyone knew a bad apple but even the bad apples had a vague idea of how far they could push the envelope.  But, lets not just dump on kids. Adults are just as bad.  We speed in school zones. We park in handicapped spots. We jump line in amusement parks and a myriad of other seemingly inconsequential infractions.  We are in a hurry.  We are important. We don’t need to abide by those petty rules.  The ‘Golden Rule’ has been forgotten and we know the consequences of our actions are palatable.

This latest shooting in Santa Fe, TX has thrown into sharp relief the result of a childhood without boundaries.  The shooter kid seemed normal enough.  He was a decent student, had friends, went to church, had been active in sports.  All the standard boxes were ticked off for a well-rounded childhood. Yet, he had a crush on a girl who repeatedly told him no.  She finally had a bellyful of his pestering and called him out in public.  How many of us have and would do the same?  In today’s world, some would call his repeated unwanted attention bullying or sexual harassment.  In the past, this would have happened and the boy would have gotten pissed for being called out but would have moved on. He might have tried to spread a rumor about her or tried to date her friend as a dig. That is normal teenage vengeance. And, if it got out of hand, someone would have put him in his place – someone at the school, a parent or sibling.  But today? Nope, he decided to gun down her and anyone else he didn’t like in cold blood. Who the hell does that? People who are mental and/or haven’t had enough boundaries.  These kids know they are doing wrong. They just don’t care because they have never had to fear authority or consequences and they know their parents will make excuses for them.  In fact, an interview just surfaced where the little punk’s dad claimed his son was actually a victim and he was just retaliating.  Yep, it’s really easy to see where this kid got his logic. Instead of owning that his child screwed up he tried to spin the situation. Nice try slick but we aren’t buying your brand of crazy.

Parenting is hard. It’s the hardest, most thankless job in the world.  You can try your best and still end up a menace to society. But, the foundation for that menace starts at home.  I firmly believe all this blowing of sunshine up these children’s asses and being their friend instead of the enforcer is ruining them. At a minimum, this type of parenting is making kids somewhat socially dysfunctional.  At worst, it’s creating killers. I’m no sociologist. I have no scientific proof about anything I’ve said here today, although, I would pay a few dollars to get some studies funded on this topic. In the meantime, we as a society have to regain our common sense.  We need to put on our big picture glasses and see what we are doing to our children and correct the situation before it gets worse.

 

 

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Rants, Weird

DMV Hell

IMG_1031.jpgI feel sorry for people who work at the DMV.  I don’t know a soul who likes going to that place.  The take a number and wait, cramped molded plastic chairs, no ventilation, fill out this form in triplicate, hellhole is just every adult’s worse nightmare. If you’re reading this and you work for the DMV, you have my condolences.  Just know that you are liked only slightly more than people who work for the IRS.  Hey, there’s always a silver lining.  Now, on with today’s story.  I currently live in Texas.  I have done so off and on since 2002.  Texas has a rule that your drivers’ license is good for 6 years and can be renewed by mail another 6 years if you don’t have any changes. Because we moved to another section of state last year, I had to get a new license.  Heaven help me.

So, I got all my necessary paperwork together, did my hair and makeup to where I thought I looked halfway cute (more on that later) and mentally prepared myself for the ordeal.  I get to the office and was asked if I had a reservation. Ummm, no.  Apparently, there is now an online check-in. If you do it the old-fashioned way like I did (just showing up) you have to wait in the hall for a chair to vacate.  Apparently, you can’t stand around in there anymore.  I didn’t see anything in my letter about an online check-in.  It was hell just trying to figure out where my local DMV was located.  So I wait in the hall like a scolded child for about 15 minutes watching others with reservations walk inside.  When I was allowed in, I was given a number so I could wait some more.  An hour later, I’m sitting in front of this poor guy who looked like he would rather be having a root canal and a prostate exam at the same time. Bless him, IMG_1033.jpghe was nice enough.  When it came time to take my picture it was just awful.  He graciously took it twice and both times it was just abysmal. I don’t think it would have bothered me so bad to get such a bad picture had my old one not been so good. I really got lucky that day.  I texted the hubs to complain about my new picture (see photo to the left).  I have these big crazy eyes, fake smile and for the life of me, I swear my face is starting to melt off my bones. I’m getting jowly. What the hell? I’m too young for this.

As if that’s not enough, the State of Texas gives you a temporary paper license.  Yes, you read that right, a paper license. I got my first temporary paper license way back in 2002.  I had just moved here from South Carolina. I did all the things, got my picture taken, and instead of getting a brand new, shiny, plastic license at the end of the exercise, I was given a piece of paper with my info on it that looked like something I could make at home with my own computer and printer.  There was no raised state seal or colored ink. There was no fanciness to it at all. Seriously, it was like a Cracker Jack prize.  When I asked (complained) to the lady behind the counter she looked at me like I had lost my mind.  I told her, “Lady, I just moved here from South Carolina.  A state that ranks lowest in education among other things and they issued me a valid drivers license on the spot.  Texas is arguably the best state in the country and y’all give me this homemade looking thing?  I think the State of Texas is spending too much on (then governor) Rick Perry’s designer boot collection and not enough on the DMV.”  As I was delivering my rant, I noticed the Highway patrolman inching my way.  I just knew I was going to be arrested or deported from the state for questioning the almighty Rick Perry’s spending habits.  Thankfully, I was able to leave without incident.  So, today, when the dude handed me my new homemade license I just shook my head. I couldn’t believe in 16 years, Texas has progressed to facial recognition software and a thumb scanner but still gives out homemade licenses.  Let’s hope in 12 more years or whenever we move again, I get a better picture and no temporary paper copy.

 

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Motherhood/Parenting, Rants

The Wall of Idiocy

IMG_0896.jpgY’all, I realized the other day I’ve been writing about a lot of heavy stuff here lately. And, while I try to add humor to everything I put out there, I have to admit it seems here lately I’m only seeing the bitch worthy stuff.  I’ll try to be more positive in the future. Unfortunately, today’s blog is more of the same.  It was inspired by something I saw this weekend that both amazed and disgusted me.  You see that picture right there? It was taken by yours truly while sitting at a rolled ice cream shop. What is rolled ice cream you ask? Tell me more? I thought you’d never ask. It’s the coolest thing ever. It’s Asian in origin, sometimes called Korean rolled ice cream. Basically, the workers pour cold liquid ice cream mix onto a super cold stone, like 7 or 8 degrees cold, and they use spackle knives to mix it up and form it into rolls and serve it in a little container with toppings.  Think Cold Stone Creamery but instead of a blob of ice cream, it’s a roll of ice cream.  Now, back to my story.

So we are sitting there having rolled ice cream and this particular establishment encourages patrons to write stuff on sticky notes and put them on the wall.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you every third sticky note was a person asking for followers on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube or Snapchat – sometimes all four.  That’s right folks, perfect strangers putting their personal information out there for the whole world to see.  An ax murderer or child molester could be out there looking at this wall o’ stick notes and find 100 victims easy.  I know I sound like someone’s Great Aunt Tilly wringing my hands about safety.  But, honestly, it is not that hard to track down personal information on the internet.  Every mother and/or teenager over 14 practically has a black belt in internet research. When I saw this, I was incensed over the stupidity. Then, I was worried.  Finally, I was hit with disbelief.  How in the hell did we go from 18-year-olds joining up for a war they didn’t create to attention whores that eat Tide pods on camera.  I cannot understand this younger generation’s need for attention.  After all, it’s not like they haven’t received copious amounts of attention since birth. These kids have been showered with attention, told they were special, and given certificates and trophies at every turn for showing up, sitting nicely and being human.  You’d think with all this adoration they wouldn’t feel the need to ask random people they will never meet to join them on social media and follow every minute detail of their lives.  Look, I know I am making a broad sweeping generalized statement about today’s youth. I know this is just a small sampling but it worries me just the same.  What kind of society will these vapid, attention seeking kids produce?  I’m not even kidding when I say I don’t want my kids to pair up with one of these idiots and procreate.

In an effort to not raise attention whores, I used the wall of idiocy as a teachable moment.  I explained to my kids how insane it is to put your information out there like that. Think nothing of attracting wackos, there’s identity theft, people lifting your photos, online bullying, etc., etc. Hell, even me writing this blog, I refuse to say my exact city or even use names. (Whispers – I’m still trying to come up with a super awesome stage name, so stay tuned.) I reminded them that they do not need the adoration of a million subscribers or virtual friends to validate them. I reminded them that a solid relationship with family and a few really good friends that you can truly count on when shit hits the fan are more precious than any amount of fair-weather friends. Of course, I did the Mom thing where I said if I ever find out you’re pimping yourself out on sticky notes or any other ridiculousness like that I will hurt you and ground you for life. I also warned them of taking up with people who pimp themselves out like this because really do you want your picture and your personal business all over the internet for the world to see. My God, when I think about the crap that may still be floating around on the internet of me before kids. It makes me want to get a good stiff drink and plastic surgery to change my face. Let’s just say that Mardi Gras in the late 90s was no joke.  There may be pictures of me topless on Girls Gone Wild #975 but there isn’t a link to the photo on a sticky note wall in an ice cream shop.

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