Welcome, CNN Viewers

You’re gonna want to check out the comments policy before you try to join the conversation. Short version: I don’t publish comments from people who are promoting weight loss, insulting me, or insulting fat people in general. Don’t waste your time. 

If you’re interested in more of my thoughts on United’s policy, you can go here for the expletive-laden version and here for the relatively clean one.  (Note that “clean” relative to how I usually write around here is, uh, still not that clean.)

Regular readers who missed the segment, we should have video of it sometime in the next day or two. Meanwhile, here’s a pic my friend Jo took of her TV:

kateoncnn

That was the purple dress, despite how blue it looks! And I’m really not digging how it coordinates with the cami in this lighting, but whatever. I had 110 lbs. of make-up and hairspray on, so hopefully, people were distracted by that.

Also, I would be psyched that Jo caught me with a total “bish, plz” face on, except I’m slightly afraid I was making it the whole time.  I’m waiting to see the video as much as everyone else. Eep!

Oh, last thing…  About 5 minutes after I finished, I got this:

Your arguments were ridiculous and you just made a fool of yourself.
Mike

Hey, thanks for writing, Mike! It’s so great to know that there are strangers who care enough to let me know they think I’m a fool. Because there is totally nothing foolish about taking the time to send a drive-by insult to a stranger from the teevee. That is the behavior of a reasonable, intelligent, all-around awesome person, right there. I have so much to learn from you!

77 thoughts on “Welcome, CNN Viewers

  1. You look lovely here, and I love the “bish plz” look. I can’t wait to see the video, I’m sure it was great.

  2. As I was watching the segment, it struck me how entertaining it would be if the CNN newsroom got a 17-inch seat with hard metal sides (with no give, in other words) and made all the anchors try it out to see how well they fit. I would guess an awful lot of them don’t fit as well as they think they do, but don’t notice it because they either fly first class or fly with other people they know and generally have the armrests up.

  3. I thought you did great, Kate. Of course it’s a shame the segment was too short for any real discussion. But you got in some good points.

  4. PetulantRumblings posted a YouTube of Kate on CNN:

    I thought you looked gorgeous Kate. The people who call in in defense of asking fat people to pay more, were outrageous.

    That mom who said if she needs to pay for another seat for her 25 pound son, it’s not much to ask a fat person pays for another seat. I’m feeling like, “Fine, put the kid in the overhead compartment then!”, jokingly of course.

  5. I rarely post but I am coming out of hiding to say ‘rock on!’ My husband and I excitedly waited for your appearance – I must admit waiting for your segment was a challenge because the reporting was so annoying on CNN. It did afford me an opportunity to school my husband in the headless fatty phenomenon. He caught on quickly as they showed about 100,00 of them– okay mild hyperbole but still…) but then TA DA! There you were in all your glory. I was thrilled to see you bravely facing our country on national TV. You were unwavering and strong and I loved it at the end when you told the anchor that the compromise is essentially for the the airlines to not be assholes (translation :)) I will admit to having sympathy heart palpitations for you.

    It was an inspiration to see you and hear you standing up for this.
    Also, I LOVE that you maintained your essential Kate Harding-ness…that was a treat. Lastly, I didn’t even NOTICE what color you were wearing, just how awesome you were! My husband on the other hand did note…Hey! She decided to go with the purple. I thought that was funny.

  6. Your arguments were ridiculous? How about the mom who tried to compare her child to people’s love handles? The kid is a separate person and needs a separate seat, no matter how little they weight, to fly safely. It’s absolutely nothing like someone having wide hips or long legs…

  7. This was fantastic, brava. :) Thanks to Jackie for posting the YouTube! Kate, your points were well-made, you didn’t look nervous, you looked serious-yet-friendly.

  8. 1. Kate omg you look so pretty!

    2. Nice work hitting the talking points. You sounded well-informed, intelligent, and reasonable and I am really proud to have you as a spokesperson.

    3. Haha you said “butt.”

  9. Oh yes, I wanted to comment that the argument about an extra fare for a 25-lb child was absurd. Plus, the headless fatty shots before your segment were as bad as they come. It’s a myth that only morbidly obese people are going to be affected by this (most of the headless fatties were morbidly obese, though of course it’s hard to tell for sure). To skew this as only affecting a small percentage of the “hugely fat” population is a lie. As many of us showed in your F United thread, you don’t have to be “huge fat” at all to not be able to put the arm rest down comfortably, depending on the plane. In theory, a tall enough, pear-shaped enough slightly overweight woman could have this problem.

    This doesn’t just effect the small population of very fat people (thus making it seem more acceptable to the general population). This effects a far greater percentage – from the size chart calculations in the previous thread I’d submit a low-ball estimate of a full 30% of women being in danger of being singled out by this kind of policy.

  10. You were articulate, on-target and kept reinforcing the important point of how the airline is trying to shift blame for its inability to provide satisfactory service to all its customers onto its fat patrons — in short, you were great! I knew you were the right person to recommend :)

  11. Your arguments were ridiculous? How about the mom who tried to compare her child to people’s love handles? The kid is a separate person and needs a separate seat, no matter how little they weight, to fly safely. It’s absolutely nothing like someone having wide hips or long legs…

    This.

    And, as the mother of a child who is rapidly approaching 25lbs, I’m seriously confused as to why this mother would want to NOT have a seat for her child — I flew with this one on my lap at Christmas (then 18 lbs.) and my knees ACHED after just a short flight. It was Not Fun for all concerned.

    But all the phone calls were hateful and inane:

    1) I’ve been fat, I’ve been thin… it’s unfair when I can’t be comfortable!
    2) I’m claustrophobic!
    3) I have to pay for an extra seat for my child!

    I mean. Really. I’m supposed to be responsible for that dude being claustrophobic and flying coach anyway?

    And, y’all, I was uncomfortable in coach when I was a skinny teen, ’cause I’m made of leg, yo. The seats just need to be bigger because people are bigger (they’re taller now, too, which account for some of that 25-lb gain over the last 40 years the interviewer brought up).

  12. In theory, a tall enough, pear-shaped enough slightly overweight woman could have this problem.

    Yep. Were I pear-shaped, I’d have this problem. As it is, my ‘obese’ apple-shaped self just barely squeezes in.

  13. If I have to pay two fairs because of my fat belleh, then I want my fat belleh to have its own rights in other situation – that means I get two votes in every election, twice as much health coverage, twice as much wage/hour, etc. If my fat is going to be considered a WHOLE OTHER PERSON, than I think it’s time that other person had some clout.

    Well done, Kate!

  14. Kate, you were awesome! Also, the only smart part of the whole damn report!

    If anything, the outcome of the 25-lb child argument is the opposite of what that caller said. If a 25-lb child has to pay the same fare as adults, then clearly the fare does not have anything to do with how much room you take up, period.

  15. Jo, right! I get a little claustrophobic on planes, and it makes no difference if the person sitting next to me is fat or a little kid. Any person that close in such a confined space is using up my air (or that’s how it feels), and it has the same effect. Planes are claustrophobia-inducing, period!

  16. Cripes… I try to avoid thinking about the whole airlines-out-to-get-fat-people-yes-really-they-are-out-to-get-us thing, but now that it’s back on my mind, I’ve got to point out that my most uncomfortable flying experiences have all been because of average sized people taking up more than their share of space, spreading out their arms and legs, and crowding into my seat. Wait… correction… average sized MEN, who have no sense that they are not at home on their sofa. Where’s my compensation? Why were these dudes not charged for the portion of my seat space they took up? HUH?

  17. It’s a myth that only morbidly obese people are going to be affected by this (most of the headless fatties were morbidly obese, though of course it’s hard to tell for sure). To skew this as only affecting a small percentage of the “hugely fat” population is a lie.

    Very true. I think a lot of people, when considering a fat person, have a mental tipping point. When someone is at or above a certain very large size, the instinctive reaction is to be irritated that this person is trying to do anything in public. And when they’re below that size, the reaction is, “oh, but they’re not fat.”

    So this leads to two simultaneous sets of problems. When a “fat” person is affected by the United policy, people don’t care, because the person shouldn’t be trying to be like normal people. When a “not that fat” person is affected by the United policy, people don’t care, because they don’t believe the person is really being affected at all.

    I wish we could have a BMI Project-style set of pictures of people who are uncomfortable in airplane seats. “Ellie cannot buckle the seatbelt without a lot of straining and praying.” “David has 22% more leg than the average man and cannot find anywhere to put it.”

    Can’t wait to get home and watch the video, Kate!

  18. What’s frustrating about the airline seat debate is that the point at which one no longer fits comfortably into the seat is not conveyed by the images which accompany the articles. Not that it would be an acceptable policy if it only affected the morbidly obese, but the perception created by the articles and images doesn’t accurately reflect that the seats are just too damned small. The seats seem to be designed for a business traveler who is slight, able-bodied, 5’8” and about 150 pounds. They are designing seats for people who do not exist.

  19. 3. Haha you said “butt.”

    That’s what I said! I texted Kate right after the interview to say “you said ‘butt’ on CNN.”

  20. my most uncomfortable flying experiences have all been because of average sized people taking up more than their share of space, spreading out their arms and legs, and crowding into my seat. Wait… correction… average sized MEN, who have no sense that they are not at home on their sofa. Where’s my compensation?

    Exactly, O.C. On the return flight at Christmas (with baby + huz) the man in front of us (who had an empty seat next to him) sat with his chair reclined back so that I (and, at times, baby) didn’t have even the pittance of room we’re supposed to get on a plane. When the baby (expectedly) started crying, this dude ostentatiously put his hands over his ears and made a big show of how we were making him uncomfortable. Huh. A little noise vs. not having room to breastfeed a normally happy baby? Dude entitlement, for sure.

    I wish we could have a BMI Project-style set of pictures of people who are uncomfortable in airplane seats. “Ellie cannot buckle the seatbelt without a lot of straining and praying.” “David has 22% more leg than the average man and cannot find anywhere to put it.”

    I’d volunteer for such a project, and include photos of myself when I was a skinny-minny too.

  21. I would also donate to this worthy cause.

    Also, is it wrong that I’m surprised commentor Mike used the correct spelling of “your”?

  22. I don’t know Dana, those proportions you mentioned are near mine and I feel pretty damned uncomfortable on planes. I’m also probably more annoying to sit next to than most because I feel the need to cross and uncross my legs every five seconds because the seats are so uncomfortable. Luckily it’s always my husband next to me getting kicked in the knees.

    The 25 pound kid is probably the real target demographic for those seats, yet the only one able to vocalize what everyone else is feeling.

  23. How much do I have to give you for you to say “giant invisible wang”?

    I WILL DO THAT FOR FREE. Actually, half intended to in this one, too. Well, not “wang” (or “schlong”), but I did have a plan that if we got into the list of OTHER types of people who don’t fit in the seats “The guy who flies with his legs spread apart to air out his giant phantom penis” was definitely going to be on the list, with precisely no credit to A Sarah, who I think originated “giant phantom schlong.”

  24. Also, is it wrong that I’m surprised commentor Mike used the correct spelling of “your”?

    JR, he probably typed “you’re” at first, then worried that those extra two characters would make his comment look fat.

    People are always telling me that my prose has such a pretty face. Oh, if it would only lose some of that grammar!

  25. Ellie, I understand now! And he didn’t shorten it all the way to “ur” because that would be anorexic!

  26. All this “phantom schlong” discussion is tempting me to slut-shame the next dude who presumes to take up more than his share of the universe.

    Because they do it All The Time.

  27. Guys, I have a serious problem. I think there might be someone in the wide, wide world named Mike who isn’t persuaded by the exact same things I’m persuaded by. I don’t know what to do about this, but I had to freak out about this immediately, because I don’t have much else going on in my life. Oh, wait, I do… family, friends, giving conference presentations, writing my dissertation, being the best amateur baker most people have ever met. Yeah never mind, sorry. I’m good.

  28. They are designing seats for people who do not exist.

    Well, of course we EXIST, but that’s not the point. 1) It’s uncomfortable for people who even DO fit into the seats, because they are horrible seats, and 2) it doesn’t change how unjust the situation is.

    Ha, I wish you had had a chance to say that, Kate. I would have laughed really hard.

  29. OH CRAP. Hey, sorry, but in my comment there just before volcanista’s, I just wanted to say that I was mocking the reaction that Mike seemed to be expecting. Not mocking the fact that people here are paying him attention. I just realized that it could sound like the second, but I meant the first.

  30. What’s frustrating about the airline seat debate is that the point at which one no longer fits comfortably into the seat is not conveyed by the images which accompany the articles.

    Ayup. I’m 5’9″ with 68″ hips, and even though I can (uncomfortably) get the armrest down, my SHOULDERS are wider than the full width of a coach seat, which of course upsets whoever is next to me.

    And, yes, I’m a WOMAN who generally does not wear shoulder pads. Men with broad shoulders have it worse.

  31. Very true. I think a lot of people, when considering a fat person, have a mental tipping point. When someone is at or above a certain very large size, the instinctive reaction is to be irritated that this person is trying to do anything in public. And when they’re below that size, the reaction is, “oh, but they’re not fat.”

    This is spot on. I’ve been saying ever since I got into FA that society’s perception of fat is seriously flawed. Of course, shows depicting supersized people as bedridden hogs who can’t stop eating doesn’t help either. Not all of us deathfat people are like that, and even if we all were, that still doesn’t give anyone the right to judge.

    I’ve never ridden on a plane, but I weigh slightly less than living400lbs, and I’m sure not only would I fit uncomfortably in a coach seat, I’d probably get those “oh dear God no, I hope she isn’t sitting next to me” looks while boarding. And I also don’t wear shoulder pads, but I have the shoulders of an NFL linebacker.

    Airlines need to face reality. Stop making the seats that only toddlers could fit in, and realize that “passengers of size” doesn’t just mean that 300 lb. woman or man who wants to fly.

  32. The 25 lb child thing has also got me mystified. If there were a crash, it’s not like someone’s socially unacceptable fat would instantly detach from her or his body, go somersaulting down the aisle, and smack into the bulkhead. You know, like an unrestrained child would.

  33. I’m not sure many people fit particularly comfortably into airline seats, fat or not. I’m 5’8″ and a size 16/18, and airline seats are the only seats I sit in where my hips touch the arm rests. I can get them down comfortably, but my hips are definitely touching the sides. It doesn’t happen in movie theater seats, in restaurant seats with arms, in desks in the classrooms where I’ve taught. Airline seats are smaller than other seats, and far less comfortable. Not to mention that, while I’m taller than the average woman, I’m not all that tall, and I have NO leg room in airline seats. If the person in front of me puts their seat back down, I’m extremely uncomfortable.

    I was looking last time I flew, and I didn’t see a whole lot of people who had much wiggle room between their hips and the armrests.

  34. No, really, it’s not just toddlers or invisible people who are thin enough for the seats. The disappearing of thin people doesn’t help this argument. The seats are crap, they are inaccessible for a huge part of the population, and it’s unacceptable. My existence doesn’t change that fact.

  35. loriersea, airplane seats seem to cause my back pain to flare up much faster than any other kind of seat out there – even my cheap car seats, which aren’t great. They are both narrower and so un-ergonomic it’s not even funny. I’m also only 5’3″ and still need to stretch out my legs once in a while to keep them from hurting like whoa, which means that if I have a carry-on under my seat I also want more leg room. It’s bad all around.

  36. I’m not saying that NOBODY fits, just that most people I saw on the plane were not enjoying a nice roomy seat. I would say that even adults who aren’t officially obese, or even officially overweight, can have a tight squeeze in airline seats, because they are quite narrow. People who don’t normally find themselves squeezing into seats do often find themselves squeezing into airline seats. I’ve flown next to people who, while not thin, would also not be viewed as fat, who didn’t have much if any extra room in their seats.

    My point isn’t that thin people don’t exist: I know a number of petite individuals who I’m sure would find airline seats more than roomy enough for them. But, airline seats are narrow enough that it’s not just very large people, or even just fat people, who are uncomfortable in them. If airline seats really were nice and roomy, then less people would complain about the fat person sitting next to them, because they’d have enough extra room in their own seat that it wouldn’t bother them.

    I guess I’m just responding to the “Airline seats used to be perfectly fine but now are too small because people got so fat!” argument the CNN anchor seemed to be implying. Even if airline seats are indeed the same size they were in 1960, I’m guessing that 1) flights are more crammed than they were in 1960 and 2) many people in 1960 were pretty darn uncomfortable in them, too.

  37. I find parents who think of their children as part of themselves terrifying.

    While I agree in theory, when you have a baby or toddler who is nursing, being held by you most of the day, and may be sleeping in your bed, it can be difficult to really think of them as being separate, autonomous individuals.

  38. Aaaaand I just finished your comment, sorry, I jumped the gun! I also agree with the last paragraph of your comment there. The seats are 1) smaller and people are 2) taller and [slightly] fatter. If we weren’t so lazy with our better nutrition we wouldn’t be having this problem!!

  39. I read your blog religiously yet I rarely comment. I first would like to say that this blog has completely changed not only how I view myself (5’6″ 230lbs) but how I see the world and their reactions to me and other fat people. Secondly,despite my reservations, I clicked the link to Anderson Coopers page and read through the comments about United’s policy. I decided to post a long winded response which I felt was needed, I feel so much lighter now! lol You guys are the best at what you do and Kate, you looked amazing during the interview! : )

  40. You looked great and I loved your hair! You also did I great job of disrupting her narrative and staying on message. I do wish they gave you more time to get into the meat of the argument, a tough thing to do in 3 1/2 minutes.

  41. Oh and when she called you “Katie” at the end of the segment and I saw your Laser Eyes and Smile Over Gritting Teeth So As Not To Vomit, yeah, I had a great chuckle.

    Also you rocked. Woo Kate!

  42. PURPLE DRESS AWESOME. Matches ur eyez.

    ALSO AWESOME HAIR.

    CALM ARTICULATENESS AND ABILITY TO STAY ON MESSAGE ALSO AWESOME.

    (Also awesome *BISH PLZ* face inserted in relevant moments. Relevant moments, you know who you are. *collapses giggling*)

  43. Also, would someone please explain to me just why giant phantom penises need so damn much air?

    Bzzzzzt.

    I’m sorry, you’re going to need to file your inquiry with the Ground Transportation Crew, who are only here on alternate Thursdays. I’m terribly afraid Patriarchy Patrol has only permitted us to hear statements on Air Travel today.

    Thanks for playing!
    [Killian Voice] WHO LOVES YOU AND WHO DO YOU LOVE???

  44. That’s what I said! I texted Kate right after the interview to say “you said ‘butt’ on CNN.”</blockquote?

    inorite??? :D

  45. First time commenter: Kate I just wanted to say how fabulous I think you were!

    And as to airline seats–I’m 5’4″, weigh …I think about 150lbs and wear a size 6-8 US, and I, too, am grossly uncomfortable–my feet don’t comfortably touch the ground, so I get terrible back pain even from shortish flights. The airlines need to do something about the seats to make them fit more bodies, period, and I am in complete agreement that this discriminatory pricing practice is completely unacceptable (I also wish I could get them to understand that a bowel disease means I need adequate restroom access, and therefore an aisle seat is a necessity, not a request for me). *sigh*.

  46. Guys, I have a serious problem. I think there might be someone in the wide, wide world named Mike who isn’t persuaded by the exact same things I’m persuaded by. I don’t know what to do about this, but I had to freak out about this immediately, because I don’t have much else going on in my life.

    A Sarah, I have the same problem! See, I was going to wash my dark jeans and stripey shirt to wear tomorrow. But then I started to worry — what if the outfit is ridiculous and I make a fool of myself? Can you put me in touch with Mike? I need to knoooooow!

  47. I’m flying out on a mini vacation on Friday, and I hope I get to sit by Mike. :D! I’m gonna talk to him about Jesus, and maybe gun control.

  48. I have been trying for the past couple of days to figure out how to articulate this in a manner that will make people think I’m cool, but it hasn’t been really working, so I’ll just say it straight out.

    In an industry where dudes sexually assault other paying passengers and, routinely, nothing is done about it, it’s ridiculous that the concern is about someone’s fat accidentally touching me omg.

  49. Richelle, this thought of yours:
    The 25 lb child thing has also got me mystified. If there were a crash, it’s not like someone’s socially unacceptable fat would instantly detach from her or his body, go somersaulting down the aisle, and smack into the bulkhead. You know, like an unrestrained child would.
    In fact, sitting next to a fat person might actually be safer than sitting next to a not-fat person. I don’t usually think of myself as a human airbag, but if viewing me as such means less hate coming my way, I could probably stand it.

  50. I’m going to vote tomorrow. How do I contact Mike so he can tell me who to vote for? I don’t want to make a fool of myself by voting for the wrong party.

    And Kate…you looked lovely. Those assholes who insult you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

  51. Well I heard something outrageous on the news this morning. Apparently there are airplane parking lots in the desert. Yup, just planes sitting there, doin’ nothing.

    So why all this nonsense about not enough seats, when they have freaking planes sitting in the Saraha or somewheres?! Well, they said, if they had more planes, the prices of the tickets would drop.

    Oh for $^#%^’s sake!

  52. Also, would someone please explain to me just why giant phantom penises need so damn much air?

    It’s cos their brains need to breathe.

    I, too, was completely mystified by the kid thing. Why exactly is it an ‘extra’ seat if there’s an actual whole human being sitting in it? Sigh… I can’t help thinking everything would be so much better for everyone if people would only remember that we are all human beings with human rights and obligations.

    And yeah, you were great :)

  53. Jackie, I’ve driven by the mothball fleet in the Mojave. It’s an eerie place … there you are, driving through miles and miles of miles and miles punctuated by creosote bushes and the occasional joshua tree, and suddenly OMG AIRPLANES. Parked in neat rows.

  54. when you have a baby or toddler who is nursing, being held by you most of the day, and may be sleeping in your bed, it can be difficult to really think of them as being separate, autonomous individuals.

    My two made it really obvious. (I’ve never bitten my own nipples for a laugh).

  55. The comments before you came on were absurd. My ass should pay for a second seat because you have to pay for a second seat for your kid? Seriously? I’ve never been driven nuts on a plane by a fat person, but screaming children can drive a full plane nuts by their lonesome. And really? Headless fatties? You did great, kept your cool, got in great points, and made it clear that the airlines are the assholes here.

    Also, I can’t get over how hot you are! I’ve never seen you in video format before, and WOW.

  56. (note: I’m not saying parents shouldn’t fly with their kids, but children are quite clearly individuals, and individuals capable of being annoying at that. Complaining that you have to pay for a seat for your kid rather than holding an unrestrained child in your lap, and then complaining that fat people only have to pay for one seat when they’re being all FAT AT YOU, is absurd. Children can be quite lovely and I’m sure your’s are angels)

  57. Yeah, I mean, whether kids are brats isn’t even the issue. Even if you were flying with an ACTUAL ANGEL, who was divinely benevolent and charitable and weighed only 25 pounds because zie was crafted from finest marzipan, it wouldn’t matter a goddamn bit because TWO PEOPLE ARE NOT ONE PERSON.

  58. If 25 lbs equals a person then I wonder why my cats can’t vote. I mean, if you put them both together, they’d make a person, right?

  59. Having no sense of humour is really hurting my ribs. Also, reminding me of the ode to a lump of green putty I found in my lungs one midspringtime morning.

    (IF borderline underweight person EQUALS my funny shape AND can’t fit widthways in airplane seats properly THEN charge them double because they’re fat. My daughters are so, so doomed).

    (Also, can we go back to arbitrary clothes sizing sometime soon? I had to buy a pair of trousers today and I tried two pairs on in the charity shop; the size n was too big so I tried the n+2, which fit).

  60. Way late to the party, but Kate, you were awesome and looked terrific. And I am LOLing at everybody who is interested in getting in touch with Mike so we can learn his opinion on various choices we are trying to make. I JUST NEED TO TALK TO MIKE!

  61. Er, I mean, on the video which I already viewed which is not the subject of this thread, because I am like 2 days behind. But in any case, I stand by all of the above.

  62. Also late to the party because, hey, I was on a business trip and had to fly back home that night. I thought you were great and wanted to say a huge THANKS for talking about this on CNN.

    I don’t fly much (I’d much rather be on the ground, thanks), but I have made 4 trips in the last 7 months where I had to fly. I always get an aisle seat because I know my shoulders and arms are wide and that way I, and my seat mate, are slightly more comfortable.

    But beyond crying babies, roaming children, 3 large people (incl me) wedged into less space than the front seats of my car, and drunken loudmouths, the worst thing about flying is the reclining seats. On every single flight, I ended up with some guy in front of me who has to put the seat back, which means I don’t have space to work on my puzzle book, set my drink, or watch the in-flight TV (all so I am kept distracted and don’t have a panic attack at every little bump). {I fly Frontier so I can have my own little DirectTV at my seat.}

    Talk about invading someone’s space!

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