EV Passed Sales Tipping Point and EV Charging Coming to Biggest Truck/Travel Stop Chain

 

 Couple of big items in the recent news about electric vehicles (EVs) means I’ve got to stop procrastinating on several posts about EVs, specifically EV charging. Most EV owners charge at home, overnight while sleeping. The sore subject of EV charging for renters and home owners without off-street parking is …

Missouri Primary Four Weeks Away on August 2, 2022

 

 Seven states, including Missouri, will hold primary elections on Tuesday August 2, 2022 — just four weeks from today. My goal in this post is to make you aware  of all items on your ballot, not just the high-profile U.S. Senate race. St. Louis City (election website): First, with redistricting …

Potential North-South & County Light Rail Line Should Include ‘Green Track’

 

 No, I don’t want the rails to be painted green. Instead I want the space between the rails to be green with vegetation, where possible. Why? Aesthetics, cooler temperatures, management of stormwater runoff, etc. Green track isn’t limited to only historic lines, it’s increasingly common in Europe with some limited …

Baer Plaza Now More A Dishonor Than An Honor, 25th Anniversary of Dedication Quickly Approaching

 

 I never met Robert J. Baer, but I see the plaza named for him all the time. Baer Plaza, across Broadway from The Dome (map), was named in his honor a little more than 20 years before his death in 2017. The 25th anniversary of the dedication is just 7 …

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EV Passed Sales Tipping Point and EV Charging Coming to Biggest Truck/Travel Stop Chain

July 19, 2022 Electric Vehicles (EVs/BEVs), Featured, Transportation Comments Off on EV Passed Sales Tipping Point and EV Charging Coming to Biggest Truck/Travel Stop Chain
 

Couple of big items in the recent news about electric vehicles (EVs) means I’ve got to stop procrastinating on several posts about EVs, specifically EV charging. Most EV owners charge at home, overnight while sleeping. The sore subject of EV charging for renters and home owners without off-street parking is for a future post.

Today is the first of a couple of posts on driving an EV between metropolitan areas. As stated above, a couple of things are changing regarding EVs:

The U.S. is the latest country to pass what’s become a critical EV tipping point: 5 per cent of new car sales powered only by electricity. This threshold signals the start of mass EV adoption, the period when technological preferences rapidly flip, according to the analysis.

For the past six months, the U.S. joined Europe and China — collectively the three largest car markets — in moving beyond the 5 per cent tipping point. If the U.S. follows the trend established by 18 countries that came before it, a quarter of new car sales could be electric by the end of 2025. That would be a year or two ahead of most major forecasts. (Financial Post)

I know 5% isn’t much, but Merriam-Webster defines a tipping point as “the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.” EV adoption will now pick up, it’s no longer just early adopters.

Again, most EVs are charged at home, or sometimes at work. It is when you want to travel outside your metropolitan area that you need to think about using a public charger. Like EV sales, charger networks are quickly growing, though still small.

Tesla superchargers on the outer edges of the South County Center parking lot. Near I-55 & I-255/270. December 2020
Tesla superchargers behind the Brentwood Target, near I-64/I-170. November 2021
Tesla Suprechargers in a sporting goods store parking lot in Springfield IL, near I-72 & I-55. March 2022

Electrify America is one of the leading charging networks, with the more connections at speeds of 150-350kW than any other charging network. It’s a subsidiary of Volkswagen, part of their settlement for the dieselgate scandal.

As part of a consent decree reached with United States officials in 2016, Volkswagen agreed to numerous actions, with US$2 billion in total, to promote electric vehicle use over 10 years to atone for the additional air pollution it caused. One aspect of the program was a pledge to establish a public electric vehicle charging network.

The Electrify America brand was unveiled in January 2017, along with its first phase of station buildout. Its first station opened in May 2018, in Chicopee, Massachusetts. In 2022, Siemens became its first external investor with a minority shareholder stake and a seat on the board. (Wikipedia)

Most of the Electrify America (EA) chargers I’ve seen are located in Walmart Parking lots, which are spacious and often near interstate highways. All non-Tesla EVs can use their chargers without an adapter. Thus, many non-Volkswagen EV manufacturers have embraced the network. Examples include Ford, Hyundai, and EV-only VinFast.

Electrify America EV chargers in the parking lot of a Walmart in Springfield IL, near I-55 & I-72.. March 2022

General Motors is going a different direction, one that will dramatically increase the number of direct current (DC) chargers nationally:

GM and Pilot Company are employing EVgo, which, with over 850 locations, is the most extensive fast-charging network in the country. EVgo will install, operate, and maintain GM and Pilot Company’s charging network through its eXtend program, with the first wave of chargers expected to be operational by 2023. Along with the EVgo logo, the chargers will be branded with both the Pilot Flying J logo and GM’s charging brand, Ultium Charge 360. (Car and Driver)

This is a smart move by GM, Pilot, and EVgo. Why? General Motors wants to become the leading seller of EVs in North America, while Volkswagen Group (VW, Audi, Porsche, and others) wants to be the worldwide leader. VW’s Electrify America and Electrify Canada networks are part of their strategy for dominance.  So it makes sense GM would want to be a part of a competing charging network.

Pilot/Flying J is among the  biggest chain of travel/truck stops, with 550 “locations in 44 states and six Canadian provinces.” Fuel sales drive sales of food, drinks. They clearly recognize the need to diversify so they can also attract travelers in EVs. The EVgo network has been around a while, in St. Louis you’ll see their chargers at Commerce Bank locations — not convenient to interstate travelers. This deal gives EVgo access to large travel center real estate very close to interstate exists, something it very much needed.

Locating chargers at facilities open 24 hours a day give users a chance to use the restroom, get a bite/beverage, etc. Very different from current chargers, including Tesla’s extensive supercharger network.

Adding EV charging  to 500+ existing travel centers isn’t going to be cheap, but this is a part of GM’s $750 million dollar investment in EV charging infrastructure. A major investor in Pilot is Berkshire Hathaways (Warren Buffet). Other travel centers/stops like Oklahoma City-based Love’s will likely quickly form similar partnerships.

50kW chargers at Wally’s in Fenton, near I-44. April 2022.

You might be thinking about non-semi centers like Buc-ee’s and the new copycat Wally’s, the latter with a location along I-44 in Fenton MO.  Well, the well-known Buc-ee’s chain partnered with Tesla to bring their supercharger network to its locations in numerous southern states. Tesla will eventually open their network to non-Tesla EVs. Where does that leave the two locations of Wally’s and frankly most of EVgo’s network?

In the slow lane.

Let me explain what I mean by slow lane. Let’s suppose you get a new 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 with its very fast 800 volt architecture and want to take a road trip.  The 6-figure Porsche Tycan is the best-known example of an EV with 800v architecture, the Hyundai & cousin Kia EV6 are the lowest priced EVs sold in North America with very fast 800v architecture.

If you stop at a charger with a rate of 150kW-350kW your stop will be considerably shorter than had you stopped at a 50kW charger.

Going from 15% to 66% on 150kW+ would require just 15 minutes of charging time.

On the other hand, at 50kW going from 30% to 100% would require 70 minutes.  To be fair as batteries get toward 100% the rate of charging does slow.

Additionally Wally’s two locations doesn’t use one of the major charging networks, or accept major credit cards. Instead you have to download another app onto your smartphone, add funds to that app, then use the app to charge your EV. Just downloading, setting up, and funding a new app would require more than the 15 minutes spent charging at Electrify America.

The followup to this post will be on the subject of planning a road trip in a variety of EVs, comparing route planning apps, charging networks, and technology.

No, we’ve not bought an EV.  I’ve just finally gotten somewhat of a handle on the topic.

— Steve Patterson

Missouri Primary Four Weeks Away on August 2, 2022

July 5, 2022 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Missouri Primary Four Weeks Away on August 2, 2022
 

Seven states, including Missouri, will hold primary elections on Tuesday August 2, 2022 — just four weeks from today. My goal in this post is to make you aware  of all items on your ballot, not just the high-profile U.S. Senate race.

St. Louis City (election website):

First, with redistricting and ward reduction from 28 to 14 it’s very likely you’re ward and precinct numbers are different than they were on the previous election. I’ve been in the 5th for a decade, now it’s the 14th!

City voters have two propositions on their ballots:

PROPOSITION S
Shall The Board of Education of the City of St. Louis borrow money in the amount of One Hundred Sixty Million Dollars ($160,000,000) for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, renovating, repairing, improving, furnishing and equipping school sites, buildings and related facilities in the District, including but not limited to (1) removing lead paint, fencing and other hazardous materials at affected schools, (2) upgrading mechanical systems to include replacement of outdated or obsolete equipment, temperature controls, and duct cleaning to increase ventilation, (3) upgrading building infrastructure by replacing roofs, tuck-pointing, waterproofing and window replacements, (4) improving security systems to increase student safety by installing fire alarm systems and replacing interior and exterior doors, (5) upgrading technology to modernize classrooms and improve academic performance, (6) improving building conditions by renovating restrooms and other ADA improvements, and (7) increasing learning opportunities by creating outdoor learning spaces and making improvements to playgrounds and athletic fields and facilities, and issue general obligation bonds for the payment thereof?

If this proposition is approved, the adjusted debt service levy of the school district is estimated to remain unchanged at the current rate of $0.6211 per one hundred dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property.

YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION
NO – AGAINST THE PROPOSITION 

And…

PROPOSITION F
Shall Section 24 of Article IV of the City’s Charter be changed to increase the maximum fine for violations of City ordinances regarding preservation and protection of environmental conditions for preventing harm to the health, safety, and comfort of City residents or harm to private or public property such as unauthorized dumping of waste or debris on private or public property, prohibited refuse, waste tire disposal, and the like from $500.00 to $1,000.00?

YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION
NO – AGAINST THE PROPOSITION

The only contested citywide county office in the primary is two candidates running for Recorder of Deeds on the Green Party. Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian ballots all have only one candidate each for Collector of Revenue, License Collector, and Recorder of Deeds.

However, voters in the current 21st ward will also vote to select an alderperson to fill the vacant seat. Four candidates are running: Laura Keys (D), Joann Dyson Williams (I),  Melinda L. Long (I), and Ebony Moore (I). See official list of candidates here.

St. Louis County (election website)

St. Louis County has three propositions on their ballots: A, M, and V  — see the full language linked on the county ballot page, here. You can also enter your address for your specific ballot.

Missouri (Secretary of State election website)

There are no statewide propositions on our August primary ballot, but there will be quite a few on our general election ballot in November.

Elections for the state house and state Auditor are pretty boring, most in the St. Louis area unchallenged. Republican voters will need to select one of two candidates for state auditor.

In Missouri’s first congressional district it’s more interesting. Three republicans want the GOP nomination. On the democratic ballot incumbent Cori Bush has four primary opponents! (Cori has my vote)

The big race in Missouri this year is to fill the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring senator Roy Blunt (R). Anytime you have an open seat with no incumbent a lot of candidates toss their hats into the ring.

The republican ballot has 21 candidates, yes 21! Many of dropped out or been disqualified, but still. Former governor Eric “RINO hunter” Greitens is currently leading in the polls.

The democratic ballot has 11 hopefuls that want to flip the seat from red to blue. I’m actually Facebook friends with one of the 11, but I’m not sure how I’ll vote — I’ve got to decide before my absentee ballot arrives. Lucas Kunce is the most likely democratic nominee.

It’s very likely the Republican and Democratic nominees will face at least one independent challenger in November. One potential outcome is a conservative-minded independent splitting the vote, helping the democratic nominee get elected.

Further reading:

Ballotpedia.org

League of Women Voters of St. Louis

The primary is Tuesday August 2, 2022.

— Steve Patterson

Potential North-South & County Light Rail Line Should Include ‘Green Track’

June 30, 2022 Environment, Featured, North City, Planning & Design, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on Potential North-South & County Light Rail Line Should Include ‘Green Track’
 

No, I don’t want the rails to be painted green. Instead I want the space between the rails to be green with vegetation, where possible.

Why? Aesthetics, cooler temperatures, management of stormwater runoff, etc.

Pre-Katrina you could see natural green track in New Orleans LA, April 2004

Green track isn’t limited to only historic lines, it’s increasingly common in Europe with some limited use in North America.

Over more than 6 (six) decades Green Tracks are popular through out Europe in dense urban areas. They are a fantastic tool to mitigate stormwater issues, to reduce noise and certainly to beautify their integration. Green light rail tracks demonstrate environmental responsibility and they value their customers by making things nice, green and beautiful. Today there are over 500 miles of Green light-rail tracks in Europe.

The living green layers within and around the tracks reduces the noiseand absorbs stormwater. Thus, reducing combined sewer overflow. Modern track systems are typically Ballastless Tracks or Slab Track systems. Basically, a traditional elastic combination of ties/sleepers and ballast is replaced by a rigid construction of concrete or asphalt. Because such systems are ideal for greenery, it is even possible to create additional stormwater retention and detention from surrounding impervious areas with the system.

Already, in 1995 Green Roof Technology filed patents for greening systems on Ballastless Track systems. Currently there are around 300 miles of green tracks in Germany alone. As a result, these tracks eliminate at least 150,000 gallons of water per years from entering the combined sewer system.

In North America, Baltimore started with some experimental Green Light-rail Tracks in 2011 insisting on Sedum mats. The testing was less promising because Sedum mono-cultures are not a good choice for most green light-rail track system. Unfortunately the advice from Green Roof Technology using a smart mixtures of grasses, herbs and wildflowers was not heard. Some call it learning by doing – well – they just don’t do it. (Green Roof Technology).

Typically rails are supported by ballasts, treated wood or concrete pieces set into the ground perpendicular to the rail. Our original 1993 light rail line used wood ballast, the 2006 Shrewsbury extension (aka Blue) line was constructed with longer-lasting concrete ballasts.

Our current lines are Red & Blue so naturally I’d like this new line to be the Green Line. Green track for the Green Line!

It can’t be everywhere, but in many places it can be. A lot of the new line would be in the center of Natural Bridge, which recently went through a quick traffic calming project that reduced vehicle travel lanes to one per direction. Adjacent to Fairgrounds Park the center is green — would be greener if not on top of asphalt.

Looking east toward Grand
Looking west from the same location.

I think the green looks nice, helps keep the area slightly cooler.

While we’re on the subject of alternatives to impervious concrete, another would be water — yes, wet track! Rail going through a fountain…

Not sure if or where this might work, but I think it’s very interesting. Perhaps on Jefferson near the stop near Olive or Market? Guests in new hotels could look down from their rooms and see transit & water converge.

I’d just like us to consider something other than boring ordinary impervious paving.

— Steve Patterson

Baer Plaza Now More A Dishonor Than An Honor, 25th Anniversary of Dedication Quickly Approaching

June 25, 2022 Downtown, Featured, Parks Comments Off on Baer Plaza Now More A Dishonor Than An Honor, 25th Anniversary of Dedication Quickly Approaching
 

I never met Robert J. Baer, but I see the plaza named for him all the time. Baer Plaza, across Broadway from The Dome (map), was named in his honor a little more than 20 years before his death in 2017.

Every year annuals are placed around the marker, at the base of the flag poles. This spot, visible when driving by on Broadway, always looks nice.
The large lawn area is always very attractive.

The 25th anniversary of the dedication is just 7 weeks from today, on Saturday August 13, 2022. I think it calls for recognition…and a little effort beforehand to improve the condition.

Improve condition? It looks nice, right?

First, read more about the man the plaza is named to honor.

 Mr. Baer retired in 2002 as president and chief operating officer of UniGroup, and its operating subsidiaries, which include household goods transportation companies United Van Lines, LLC and Mayflower Transit, LLC. He was a past chairman of the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District and a past president of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, in addition to serving twice in area mass transit leadership positions. In the 1990s, he chaired the agency responsible for coordinating the expansion to America’s Center which included the domed stadium. Mr. Baer was born and raised in south St. Louis. He attended St. Francis de Sales High School, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Beginning his career working for the City of St. Louis Division of Recreation in 1957, he served as deputy director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Human Development Corporation from 1964 to 1970. He was then employed for four years as chief of staff for Lawrence K. Roos, the County Executive of St. Louis County. In 1974, he was named executive director of Bi-State Development (which now operates the Metro public transportation system), a position he held for three years.

        In 1977, Mr. Baer joined United Van Lines as vice president and general manager. He was named United’s president in 1982 and, in 1988, was appointed president and chief operating officer of UniGroup, a newly formed holding company with United its largest operating entity. During Mr. Baer’s 25 years with United and UniGroup, the enterprise grew into one of the largest transportation corporations in the United States with consolidated annual revenues of $2 billion. In 1995, UniGroup acquired a second household goods mover, Mayflower Transit of Carmel, Ind. Mr. Baer served as chief operating officer of United, Mayflower, and sister UniGroup companies Vanliner (Insurance) Group, Inc., Total Transportation Services, and UniGroup Worldwide, Inc.

        Following his retirement from UniGroup, Mr. Baer continued to serve UniGroup for several years as a member of the Vanliner board of directors. He also was on the boards of Stifel Financial Corp., U.S. Bank, and Drury Hotels.

        In addition to his UniGroup corporate responsibilities, Mr. Baer contributed his time and leadership abilities to a variety of community service organizations and agencies over a period of more than 20 years. From 1985 to 1989, he was president of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, overseeing the activities of the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department which included the construction of the first new police stations in decades. In 1990, he accepted the chairmanship of the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which was responsible for a $300 million expansion of the city’s convention center and construction of the domed stadium. A park on Broadway east of the dome was designated “Baer Plaza” in recognition of Mr. Baer’s role in the project.

        Mr. Baer was chairman of the board of trustees of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District from March 2003 until March 2005, and he remained on that board until April 2006. His previous experience leading Bi-State Development was instrumental in his appointment, in December 2007, as acting head of Metro Transit. The “temporary” job grew into a three-year assignment, concluding in 2010 after voter approval of a ballot proposition to ensure the ongoing financial sustainability of public transit in St. Louis.

      Among his other civic activities, Mr. Baer was founder of the Thomas Dunn Memorial Adult Education Program in the mid-1950s. He was an emeritus member of Civic Progress. He was the recipient of numerous awards for many achievements throughout his career. (Kutis Funeral Home)

Again, I never met him. I can’t speak to how he was personally, as a boss, as a civic leader.  I imagine getting the city, county, and state to work together to build a stadium in the hope of getting an expansion team takes a lot of skill.

Plaque denoting the dedication on August 13, 1997 — 7 weeks from today.

Even if an event doesn’t acknowledge the 25th anniversary, or Baer’s contributions, the plaza should be cleaned up.

The paved portion of the plaza is where most of the cleaning needs to happen. You can kinda see how the center is darker than the perimeter.
The paved center has several drains — but all have been clogged for years.
Another clogged drain, with plenty of caked dirt around each.
With the drains clogged a good rain turns the plaza into a shallow pond. June 2021. This means groups can’t plan to use this space for events in case it rains just prior.
At the base of the trees there’s a collection of twigs & small branches.
There’s also a few areas with more compostable material.

The biggest project is getting the drains cleared. This means hiring a company to provide this service. Once the drains are cleaned out, the entire circular plaza needs to be power washed. It’s all filthy and looks it. The concrete and bricks are in good condition, they just need a good cleaning. Again, this is a project to hire out, maybe the downtown Clean Team?

The sports commission that operates the Dome and this plaza recently came into a bit of money, I think unclogging drains and cleaning the hard materials would be a good investment. Especially since the XFL will be returning in 2023.

All the hard surfaces along Broadway north toward Cole Street also need cleaning. Additionally toward the north end a few tree wells need a little sprucing up.

This is the worst tree well. It needs more dirt to fill in the low areas (left) — there’s dirt in the ADA ramp on Cole @ 6th that might do the trick.

Some of these northern tree wells could benefit from more liriope & lillies, like the others.

That’s it: unclog a few drains, power wash all pervious materials, a little dirt and a few plants.  If not done before the anniversary, perhaps the anniversary date is the day for a big project with volunteers.

— Steve Patterson

Glad the Illinois Primary is Tuesday, June 28th

June 23, 2022 Featured, Metro East, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Glad the Illinois Primary is Tuesday, June 28th
 
The old Illinois capital building in downtown Springfield IL

I’ve lived in two states my entire life, Illinois isn’t one of them. But as a St. Louis Missouri resident for nearly 32 years I’ve seen plenty of Illinois campaign television advertisements. Of course, Illinois residents in the St. Louis metro area have seen more than their share of Missouri political ads.

The Illinois primary is Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

While there are many races on ballots in Illinois it is ads for two that are the ones we’ve all been seeing. A lot. Governor & 15th congressional district.

Let’s begin with the race for congress, both GOP candidates are incumbents!

U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller are running in the Republican primary for Illinois’ 15th Congressional District on June 28, 2022. This race is one of six U.S. House incumbent-vs.-incumbent primaries occurring in 2022 as a result of congressional redistricting after the 2020 census. (Ballotpedia)

Illinois lost one seat in congress as a result of population loss in the 2020 census, so two Republican colleagues are now in a bitter campaign against each other. Each is trying to paint themselves as the most pro-Trump and the other as being less conservative than themselves.

The head-to-head contest is an offshoot of new congressional boundaries drawn by state lawmakers in Springfield following the federal census and Illinois’ loss of one of its current 18 U.S. House seats. Miller’s home was narrowly drawn into a district with another Republican, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro, but she opted instead to challenge Davis. Members of Congress do not have to live in the district they represent. (Chicago Tribune)

The 15th is the most conservative district in Illinois, which means the democratic nominee won’t stand a chance. Either Davis or Miller will be out of office in January 2023, a week from now we should know who will be sworn in again and who will pack up their D.C. apartment.

In the Illinois race for governor the situation is very different. Democrat J. B. Pritzker is seeking a second term, he’ll easily win his primary. Half a dozen Republicans are running to become the GOP nominee to challenge Prizker in November.

Six candidates are running in the Republican primary for governor of Illinois on June 28, 2022. Darren Bailey and Richard Irvin have led the field in fundraising and media coverage.

Bailey is a farmer who serves in the Illinois State Senate. He was first elected to office in 2020. In his campaign ads, Bailey has highlighted his support for reducing taxes and government spending while serving in the state senate, his support for law enforcement, his support for Donald Trump (R), and his opposition to Governor J.B. Pritzker (D). A campaign ad said, “In Springfield, Darren stood up for working families and fought against every single tax increase. When Governor Pritzker tried to close Illinois, Darren sued him and won to keep our state open. Now, Darren is running for governor with a plan to cut our taxes, fund our police, and impose term limits on politicians.”[4]

Irvin is an attorney who has served as mayor of Aurora, Illinois since he was elected in 2017. Irvin’s campaign ads have highlighted his work as a prosecutor and his support for increasing police department budgets, his experience as a veteran, his opposition to J.B. Pritzker, and his economic record as mayor of Aurora. A campaign ad said, “Running our second-largest city, crime’s come down because the police budget has gone up. I hired more cops each year. We’ve recruited new companies […] and we’ve controlled spending, balanced budgets, so residents got property tax relief. My city is now stronger, safer, and full of opportunity. I want that for Illinois.” (Ballotpedia)

I’ve seen ads for only [two] three of the six. Like the 15th congressional district ads, the spots from the top two challengers have been vicious. I’ve also seen a few ads for Paul Schimpf. Nothing from the other three candidates. If Bailey loses either the primary or general he’ll no longer be in public office because his term as state senator ends. However, Irvin was just re-elected to a second term as Aurora’s mayor last year. If he doesn’t become governor he’ll still be mayor.

Past Illinois Democratic governors have been vulnerable at election time, but Prizker appears to be in a better position than his predecessors.

Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is seeking another 6-year term. I’ve not seen a single ad for the seven (7) Republicans on Tuesday’s primary ballot who want to go against her in November.

It’ll just be nice having a break from divisive political ads for a bit, though I know Missouri’s primary is only 5 weeks later, on August 2, 2022.

— Steve Patterson

 

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