Anything, But … You Know

Okay, so it’s actually a federal holiday weekend here where I am–the US of A–and with any luck, when you see this, we’ll still all be alive and well and not doing horrible things. I think that’s enough to convey my point, right?

So, anyway, whilst going through email, etc., I found this article about librarians!

Here’s a snippet of that:

Many librarians make a difference in what could be considered matters of life and death: connecting a patron to health information needed to make treatment decisions, or to social services that provide food and housing, or offering a teen in need the right book at the right time. Some get the opportunity to make such a difference on a larger scale.

In response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) need for timely, accurate, and searchable material about COVID-19, Elaine R. Hicks—research, education, and public health librarian at Tulane University in New Orleans—pulled together an ad hoc organization she named the Librarian Reserve Corps (LRC). Among those who answered her call for volunteers were Stacy Brody, reference and instruction librarian at the George Washington University (GWU) School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD; and Sara Loree, medical librarian at St. Luke’s Health System, Boise, ID, both of whom soon stepped up to serve as the project’s co-leads.

Since then, LRC has vetted, indexed, and helped disseminate tens of thousands of health resources about the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus. Because of their work to organize and streamline information so badly needed by medical and health professionals, humanitarian organizations, researchers, and the public at a critical time in history, Hicks, Brody, and Loree have been named LJ’s 2021 Librarians of the Year, sponsored by Baker and Taylor.

Damn! Aren’t librarians awesome?

But, wait! There’s more! Here you can find family-friendly digital escape rooms.

Here’s what you’ll find:

Escape rooms are a popular group activity and a fun way to interact with family and friends. As we continue to socially distance, digital escape rooms offer a safe way to enjoy this gaming format. There are a variety of formats featuring creative uses of technology that make for both interesting and accessible games.

We have rounded up some interesting digital escape rooms, including some family-friendly options, featuring well-known characters and incorporating beloved video games. Most of the featured rooms are free, though some require a fee, and others require you to sign up ahead of time.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not at all sure that this “librarian” could begin to provide that level of service.

PS: Like no one in D.C. ever said. As if anyone could get excited about reading the Mueller Report.

PPS: We’re better off without Trump on Twitter–worse off with big tech in charge. Ahem!

PPPS: It ain’t over until the fat man sings!

PPPPS: And since it is a holiday! I mean, why not? 🙂

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The Continuing Series of Journal Entries

Me outside my house in the 1990s (or 80s?)

Hi there! 🙂 Back with another journal entry. This one’s short. Guess I was exhausted the nights I wrote them. Good practice for having dystonia, eh? 🙂

And here’s the previous entry.

Friday, January 26, 1997 (12:40 a.m.)

The wind’s whistling outside, meaning the cold is coming. Again.

I’m up to Chapter 25, and I’ve hit a “block” of some sort, but I’ll break through.

I guess I have to face the fact that I’m too much of a coward to be a freelance journalist.

I don’t want to believe that, but I haven’t done anything to prove otherwise.

I should really go to bed. But Penny [our cat] gets on my lap, and I just can’t move after that. Well, I just have to.

I need to think more positively about my situation. Quit worrying. I always worry too much. And where does it get me?

So take steps already. What can it hurt? If you really want to write, then do it.

Wednesday, January 29, 1997 (11:54 p.m.)

We are so lucky so far. We’ve had a little snow, but the latest storm is supposed to miss us, and with any luck, they’ll continue to do so.

The job search plods on. I just got a letter from the FCC, saying that I’m under consideration and they’ll keep me apprised of developments. Whoa, Nellie! Now and then, these “flat letters” turn out not to be rejections, which is nice.

I’d write more, but I want to finish part of War and Peace and go to bed.

PS: Could I possibly beat myself up more? 🙂

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The Sunday Paper: Chapter 1

Hello! 🙂 Surprised to see this here? Well, I hadn’t actually planned to blog this, but then I thought why the fuck not what do I have to lose it’s a free country, right? 🙂

So, here are the headlines of interest I found while reading The Washington Post, Sunday edition.


How Jan. 6 became a day of historic ugliness in America.

Battling America’s ‘dirty secret’.


Will free speech survive the digital age?


Thousands lose jobs as companies flourish.

Blocked in U.S. by China’s WeChat. (print headline)

Chinese censorship invades the U.S. via WeChat. (online headline)

Arts & Style

A revealing trip down the Sunset Strip.

In the arts, a new labor movement.

In Hopper’s Paris, a preview of quarantine.


What does climate change look like? Twelve photographers force us to confront reality.


Paddling through a painterly landscape.

More time away means more effort to prepare.


Filmmaker behind ‘Seven Up’ documentary had eclectic Hollywood career.

Sunday Magazine

Voices from the aisles.

I hear ya, Gene. 🙂

PS: That’s not actually a photo of me reading the paper. A shocker, I know. 🙂

Finally, here’s a Sunday song. I was looking for Blondie’s version of “Sunday Girl” and stumbled across this!

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And Even More Stuff From My Old Journal

A really old photo of my office. (I swear I’m cleaning it up.)

And we’re back! With yet another entry from my old writing journal. Okay, it’s a writing journal, not a drawing journal. Although, I might have doodled in it. Maybe.

And here’s the previous entry.

Writing this blog lately has been a bit like living Memento! 🙂 Except I’m not trying to kill anyone.

Friday, January 3, 1997

Happy new year. Happy new month. Happy days are here again.

I’m up to Chapter 21 in my book. I can’t believe it.

I’m not employed. Social Security is taking their sweet-ass time. While I look for attorney work, I’m seriously considering other career options.

As my book grows closer to being a finished draft, I know that I need something else. Maybe now is the time to get into the other writing. I mean, I’m a good writer. I can do this stuff. Now, can I get paid to do it?

Well, why not? Lesser individuals than I have done it.

The temp job ended after exactly 3 weeks. I may get another assignment this month. We’ll see.

Other matters: I’m an attorney-coach for the mock trial team at Howard High School. This group is smart and interested, but not quite as focused as the one last year. Connie and I are going to have to put our heads together on this. The first competition will be 2/10. Not much time.

Thursday, January 16, 1997

We had another meeting with the mock trial kids today. Connie and I never put our heads together, but she took charge, which was A-OK with me.

I got word from Simpson about possible hot job prospects at HCFA [Health Care Financing Administration]. I keep telling myself not to get too excited, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this one. But it won’t work out, so why worry? Right? Forget about it!

I’m signing up for a beginner’s computer course in February—Introduction to MS-DOS. If all else fails, maybe I’ll start a computer consulting business.

I’m up to Chapter 23 in the book, and I intend to finish in 30 chapters. I have ideas for revisions and, in fact, I’m thinking of ideas for a second book.

The weather has turned bum-fuck cold, beyond all reason. I look forward to moving to some dreary place, where the weather’s warm all the time.

PS: Um … computer consulting would have been … different … maybe … 🙂

PPS: All those references to chapters. Those are from the book that ended up being the fourth in the Sam McRae mysteries. So far. Time is weird, isn’t it? 🙂

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Let’s Party Like It’s 1990-Something!

I’ve never heard a version of “Wonderwall” quite like this one before! 🙂

It’s simply too good not to share!

Apparently, the Mike Flowers Pops, aka MFP, The Pops or The Mike Flowers Pops Orchestra, were an “easy listening” band. I’m not sure “easy” is the word I’d use to describe listening to them, though.

I do concur with Lou Reed, who said, “That is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard in my life.”

You can read more about Mike Flowers Pops (or Music for Pleasure or whatever) by clicking here.

Thanks, Paul, for yet another interesting music video! 🙂

PS: Happy new year, happy holidays, and enjoy yourself! Here’s another awesome video!

Thanks, Paul. Where do you come up with this stuff? 🙂

PPS: Dave Barry’s Year in Review 2020! Always good for a laugh. And they didn’t even delete the Amazon references this time! 🙂

And even though this is funny:

“In business news, Amazon (founded by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos) pays $237 billion in cash to acquire Four Seasons Total Landscaping.”

This is just sad even funnier! 🙂

Let’s see … $33.2 million divided by [insert ungodly number of KDP Select Authors] + [algorithmic weirdness some factor or other] = $0.004644 per page read (I think).

Wow! Sign me up! Not.

PPPS: Man, things I find on the Internet! 🙂

Thank you, Phil Shapiro!

PPPPS: I get the last word. 🙂

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How to Tell an Amazing Story Every Time

Here’s a video I ran across on YouTube that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about plotting a novel or screenplay.

In less than six minutes, you can save yourselves  hundreds of dollars a bundle in overpriced courses that say the same things, over and over, on this subject! 🙂

And here’s a free writing course given by the late Warren Murphy! Comes with a money back guarantee!

You’re welcome! 🙂

PS: Avoid these cliches which nearly every movie I’ve seen uses in one way or another. 🙂

PPS: Happy holidays! Is it too late to air grievances? 🙂

PPPS: Call me a traditionalist, but …!

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More Shit I Wrote Before

Me outside my house in the 1990s (or 80s?)

Another part of the journal I kept before I finished my first novel and after I closed my law office.

Here’s the previous part!

Saturday, September 6, 1996

I’m watching (sort of) the end of the game in which Eddie Murray hit his 500th career home run. The enjoyment of that moment was only slightly dulled by my reading a somewhat cerebral book about a very cerebral man at the moment the historic event took place.

The book is In Search of J.D. Salinger, a bio of Salinger and description of how the author researched and constructed the bio. A great, very readable description of JDS and the biographer’s craft.

This is one of many books I’ve gotten into recently. I’ve been jumping around between “H” is for Homicide, The Art of Fiction (John Gardner), and (most recently) Rum Punch (Elmore Leonard).

I’ve been in a “funk” of sorts about my writing. I feel unwilling to continue what I’ve written up to now in my mystery, but despite my desire to go back and rewrite everything, I don’t want to do that either. Rick tells me to just keep writing, no matter how much the stuff before sucks. Probably from a practical standpoint, wise advice.

I started a short story about a group of kids seeking an interview with J.D. Salinger. I may as well finish it. I think it may have promise.

Saturday, September 7, 1996 [sic]

My den is a mess.

I guess it’s time to clean it up. Organize. Quit being such a slackard. Or is it slacker?

Didn’t write today. Went shopping. Now have new hiking boots. Good thing.

I’m watching Bloomberg Information News. It’s weird. A kind of visual and audio onslaught of diverse information.

The weather in San Diego looks pleasant. 78° at 10:25 PDT.

You know, I don’t have a thing to say, and I think it’s time for bed.

Much Later …

Monday, December 9, 1996

Much has changed. I have a temp job with a grassroots lobbying group in DC, [name omitted]. Very interesting.

I have, of course, been commuting by train. Was having coffee at Union Station and saw crazy homeless woman dancing near the table next to mine. Kept laughing and yelling “Merry Christmas” and “You’re all crazy. We’re all crazy.” I’ll buy that.

No word from Social Security.

I heard Craig got a computer job with Towson State. Good for him.

Missed the cookie party this year. Went to Sisters In Crime, which was really good.

Still working on story. More slowly, but still at it.

PS: And speaking audio-visual onslaughts. Look where we are today. 🙂

PPS: It’s slacker, of course! Dumbass.

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You Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Computer and Screenwriting Software

Talk about “show, don’t tell”. 🙂

Screenwriting from Iowa

Often times writers get into debates about which computers and screenwriting software are best. And others complain about the expense of computers and screenwriting software. (Though there are some pretty darn cheap computers these days—as in laptops cheaper than Xbox video game consoles— and screenwriting software that’s free.) But it’s worth pointing out some some writers—Oscar-winning screenwriters—still write with a pen and paper. Name one? Spike Lee.

“I don’t type.”
—Spike Lee

Name another one? This guy…

“I can’t write poetry on a computer, man.”
—Quentin Tarantino

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Road Trip! (Part Two)

Rolling, rolling, rolling! 🙂

Like I said in the previous part, the above photo was taken ages ago on a completely different trip. It’s an on-the-road photo and I own the rights, okay? 🙂

So here’s Part Two!

Sunday, August 25, 1996

I may as well do this while I can. I think my days of freedom are numbered. I hope I will keep my promise to myself and continue writing.

Boston—a really cool place. Actually, it was hot, temperature-wise. We stayed at a Comfort Inn in Dedham. The humidity was up and stayed up throughout our day and a half visit.

Our first night, we attended a game at Fenway Park. What a place! Very old, very green, very small seats. There’s a kind of intimacy in a ballpark like that, where you’re sitting cheek-to-cheek, front-to-back, with everyone. The Sox played Toronto and won. We took the train and connected with the subway, which is a lot like Washington’s, only bigger and cheaper. They have “color” lines, such as the Green Line, but it splits out into letters—the “A” Line, the “B” Line, etc.

After our excursion in for the game, we felt confident riding in the next day. A little bit of walking around, and I felt like I knew the place. Boston is an interesting collection of the very old and very new. You see a lot of old churches. The old North Church, of course, goes back to the Revolutionary War. It’s incredible to think about how much history is there. Of course, there’s a lot of history around here, too. But there is something about Boston. It’s a city that’s very proud of its history and the variety of events that have taken place there.

We did a guided tour that took us around the city and, literally, into the Charles River. We saw the Public Garden (which I had always thought was the Boston Common—that’s actually next door), where the swan boats operate. I remember, every time my Dad took us to Boston, I always wanted to go on the swan boats.

We had lunch at the Prudential Center (a mall, basically) and later in the day, went up to the top of the Prudential building. During lunch, we saw the catcher for Toronto, Charlie O’Brien. We said hi to him and talked to him for a while and like idiots, forgot to get his autograph.

The next day, we drove straight home. It was a great trip. I forgot to mention that during the drive from Bar Harbor to Boston, we stopped to buy a new lawn ornament, like the duck with the rotating wings. Except this one’s a puffin. We have him perched on a metal pole in the backyard.

The second interview with EPA went well. I’m supposed to hear something in maybe two weeks. It looks like I’ll be working (if all goes well) in the Financial Operations Division for Ray S. I called SSA. Andy Y was on vacation last week and still is this week. I left a message.

I’m up to chapter 14 of my book, but I decided to do some rewriting of the early chapters. I’d like to condense the plot and pick up the pace earlier.

I’m learning a lot from reading The Art of Fiction by John Gardner. Actually, he articulates his book some of the concepts I’ve picked up intuitively, in the struggle to write my story. It’s kind of reassuring to read his book—like an affirmation.

Me in Ocean City, MD, sometime in the 90s (I think).

Wednesday, August 28, 1996

We’re in OC. We’ll be here for the next two days, then leave Saturday morning.

Yesterday, I spoke to Karen. She had read my story so far and really enjoyed it. (“You like it! You really like it!” I should have said.) She believed some of Sam’s pain connected with Linda’s death needed to be explained—the shock, denial, etc. that go with the loss of someone close. That’s a very good point, and I’ll have to keep it in mind as I rewrite.

I don’t feel like I can read enough. I was talking with Rick’s mother about J.D. Salinger. She said that Salinger (who is, of course, a recluse) refuses to grant interviews and that his kids will not allow interviews, either. Apparently, a group of college kids made a bet about who could get an interview with Salinger. They went to the town where he lives in Connecticut. Somehow, they found him. I guess they went to some place he’s been known to go and waited for him, maybe. Anyhow, only one of them, a young woman, actually had the nerve to approach him. He spoke to her for 10 minutes. When she rejoined the group, she told them she’d been sworn to secrecy about most of the conversation. The one thing he told her specifically to tell everyone was: “Read, read, read”. It’s an intriguing story. Somehow, it suggests a good short story—a hypothetical conversation with J.D. Salinger. That would be interesting.

Before I go to bed, I’ll have to take one last walk onto the back porch. I love the solitude.

Thursday, August 29, 1996

I guess I ought to try to work on the story as much as possible. So now what?

Maybe a chart would help.

[The rest of this journal entry is a description that reveals spoilers about Deep Six, the fourth book in the Sam McRae mystery series. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the story.]

PS: That video was made in 2018. 🙂 Remember when solitude was fun?

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Road Trip! (Part One)

Rolling, rolling, rolling! 🙂

Actually, the above photo was taken on a completely different trip years after I originally wrote this. But we’re traveling, right? 🙂

The previous part of the journal is here.

Friday, August 9, 1996

It’s actually Saturday morning, but hey, who’s counting?

We got back yesterday from an incredible 8-day road trip through New England. I wish I’d kept a daily journal, because I know I won’t remember everything now.

Last Thursday, Aug. 1, we drove up to Cooperstown, NY. It’s a nice drive, scenic even. The terrain gets hillier as you go, until your driving along the edge of the Poconos and the Catskills.

I had been driving since we stopped for lunch in Binghamton. Rick got confused and sent me off in the wrong direction after we hit Cooperstown. After driving almost 10 to 15 minutes in the wrong direction, it finally occurred to me that we should turn around. Rick wrested the controls from me, at that point, and never relinquished them thereafter, claiming that I drove “slower than old people fuck.” At least I can read a map.

After we finally got to the motel and checked in, we went back to Cooperstown and found the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rick entered grudgingly, only to find himself enjoying it as we went through. It was amazing. The second floor had a thorough review of the history of the game—its development, lore, major players, etc.—with exhibits. It was like Ken Burns’ Baseball summarized as a museum exhibit. There were exhibits on baseball in movies, baseball journalism, women in baseball, the Negro Leagues, different ballparks, uniforms, baseball cards, and baseball songs. There was an umpire exhibit. There was an exhibit about each existing team, what its former names (if any) were, retired numbers, etc., etc. it was really amazing.

Cooperstown is an interesting place. It obviously revolves around the game of baseball, because the game’s influence is everywhere. We ate dinner at the Doubleday Cafe. Baseball knickknacks are sold everywhere. There’s Doubleday Field, where games are occasionally played. Even the McDonald’s in Cooperstown has workers in baseball uniforms and pictures of boy and girl baseball players on the restroom doors.

Our motel was outside Cooperstown, on Lake Otsego. We didn’t really get to enjoy Upstate New York much. We only spent one night. The motel had been rated 2-diamond, but deserved less. The faucets were screwed up on the sink and bath, and Rick and I kept getting alternately frozen and scalded as we took our shower. We did walk down to the lake’s edge that evening. It was a nice peaceful view of lake and surrounding hills, though we got a bit bitten by bugs. A prelude to what was to come while camping, as it turned out.

The next morning, we left for New Hampshire, hopeful that the good weather would hold out. It did. More tomorrow.

O’s lost tonight in the 10th. Arrghh! To Chicago—they need to beat those guys.

Monday, August 12, 1996

The story continues.

When we left Cooperstown, after breakfast at the aforementioned McDonald’s, we hit the interstate going north, then U.S. 4, which took us through Vermont into New Hampshire. The terrain was hilly, with lots of trees, especially birch and pine. The weather continued to be good. The good weather seemed to clear a path before us as we traveled. We followed the river on the Vermont-New Hampshire border for a while, before crossing into New Hampshire.

We hit a few small towns on the way to the campground. Littleton was the biggest of the small towns. It was among many of the small, quaint New England towns we would see. They really are very quaint. They invariably have a Main Street lined with restaurants and bookstores and knickknacks shops and so forth, with names like The Plucky Duck and The Pepper Mill. We went through Littleton, then Bethlehem, where the Bethlehem High School was having a reunion. The campground was just outside of Twin Mountain, or “Twin Peaks”, as I liked to call it.

We had chicken for dinner the first night, each took some time to cook, due to the immense difficulties we were having lighting the fire. We also made soggy Rice A Roni on the camping stove.

Our site was great. Each site was separated by lots of trees. Initially, we had chosen #32, but it was small and a lot of tree roots ran through it. We ended up changing to #33, which was bigger and flatter. Our first night in the tent went well.

The next day, we drove around mainly through Franconia Notch State Park. We saw the Old Man of the Mountain and the Basin. The latter was formed by glaciers. It was an indentation—a deep indentation—in the rock beside a stream. The water from the stream would flow into it and swirl around. It was supposed to be 15 feet deep. We also rode a tram up Mt. Cannon and walked to the observation tower on the summit.

The campground had a hayride and “make your own sundae”. I did the latter. Someone took #32. A family with two sons and a dog named Coco. I know this, because at 1:20 AM, Rick and I were awakened by Coco’s owner, who called the dog’s name repeatedly and slammed the door of his van several times.

More later on the trip. Today, Connie R, Connie S, Pat S, and I met with school officials about the Mock Trial program.

Saturday, August 16, 1996

More on the trip. We drove the back roads of Maine—primarily U.S. Route 4—to get to Bar Harbor. The campground was very different than the one in New Hampshire. Most of the campsites were on the perimeter of a large, grassy area. We were able to get a spot with a little bit of space defined by trees, providing a small, sheltered area. Some of the campsites didn’t even have that much shelter. The one next to us was just an open, grassy area with trees in back. The couple camping near us had a cocoon-shaped pup tent sitting out on the grass. I was amazed that two people could fit in it.

The next day, we drove around Acadia. Our first stop was Cadillac Mountain. It had a spectacular view of Bar Harbor and the area surrounding the peak. Then, we continued on the Park Loop Road and drove along the shoreline. Now, that was truly spectacular. The rocky shore was reminiscent of the California coast. We stopped at one spot that had a great view of the rocks and a buoy with the bell that rang occasionally in the distance. It was very peaceful.

We drove into Bar Harbor and spent some time there. It’s a tourist-y town, full of gift shops and restaurants. A lot of lobster. I wish now we’d had some decent lobster while we were there. We were amused to see that it was sold at McDonald’s. Naturally, we had to try it and they didn’t give you a whole lot. It was nothing like the picture. But we had our opportunities. The road to Bar Harbor was lined with “lobster pounds”, as they called them. Maybe next time. We settled for an Acadia calendar, a “Maine woodsman’s weatherstick” (it points up in fair weather, down in foul), and some blueberry jam for me, Nancy & Jane. Blueberries are a big product de Maine (along with lobster).

I forgot to mention that we were awakened our first morning in “Bah Hahbah” by the cawing of crows. It might not have been so bad if that nice little shelter of trees weren’t also their favorite gathering spot. They would caw, and a group across the grounds would caw, and it would just go back and forth like that. And it was 6:30 AM.

The next morning, they didn’t seem as bad. They didn’t caw as much or there weren’t as many. We had to get up early anyway. We were on our way to Boston.

The night before, I did laundry at the camp laundromat. That’s the nice thing about camping at these facilities. We had showers, too. In New Hampshire, they were in the bathroom, nothing more than a curtained off dressing area with a shower separated by another curtain. In Maine, it was a private, separate dressing area and shower, coin-operated. I also noticed that the Maine campground had religious services on Sunday.

All finish the trip in my next entry.

I got a call from EPA—It’s second interview time! I’m meeting with Scott F, formerly of OE (Office of Enforcement), now Deputy GC for OGC. Looks like a shoe-in. I left a message at SSA about the second interview, but I haven’t heard back. Don’t know what that’s all about.

If I do go back to EPA, which seems likely, I may as well forget about bar association activities. I’ll barely have enough time to write and do a little gardening, if I remember correctly. I’ve got to recognize my priorities, and my limitations.

Shadow had another lump removed. Flavia took out a lot of stuff—scar tissue and everything. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, Rick and I are going on a picnic with Karen and her two daughters. Karen, since I last saw her, has discovered Judaism apparently, and told me she will be observing the Sabbath, which apparently involves not using the phone or driving a car. Okay. I asked Ellen, who is Jewish, about this, and she’d never heard of anything like that. Interesting.

PS: Well, actually, now I know! 🙂

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