Jun 1

When batteries die…

No rain this morning, which meant I was able to run. Did 2.7 miles, however the battery on my mp3 player died at about 1.2 miles. Bah.

I actually don’t listen to music very often. Don’t get me wrong–I like music and appreciate it, but for me it’s a distraction, which means I almost never play it if I’m involved in something that requires a lot of thought. I almost never listen to talk radio while driving, and I seldom listen to music while writing. (Yes, I’m one of those people who turns the radio down/off when I’m looking for an address.) I don’t process auditory input very well–a learning disability which went undiagnosed for pretty much my entire life. (Hey, guess what! “Try harder” doesn’t work!) In fact I probably would’ve never figured it out if I had not decided to become a cop. By pure happenstance, the way that we were required to write/take/format/reformat our notes was the right way for auditory input to actually make it into the “remember me” section of my brain. I graduated at the top of my Academy class, but even then I didn’t make the connection to a learning disability until I talked to someone who has a diagnosed auditory input disorder. I remember clearly thinking, “Holy crap. That’s me!!!” I would pay attention in class, take what I thought were sufficient notes (it was the same level of note-taking that everyone else was doing,) understand the material perfectly during lecture, and then later when I went back to study, I would have no idea how to do the work. If I tried to write more quickly and take more detailed notes, I’d miss things in lecture because I just couldn’t write fast enough and listen. So, I discovered that I could do the average amount of work and get an average grade, or I could totally kill myself and bust my ass and I could get a barely slightly better than average grade. Guess which path I decided to take? It also didn’t help to have teachers/counselors/everyone telling me that I was just being lazy and wasn’t applying myself and wasn’t working up to my potential. Hear that often enough and you eventually just come to accept it. (Would you tell a dyslexic that they could read if they would just try harder?)

However, in all fairness to teachers/counselors/everyone, there wasn’t as much awareness of learning disabilities 30 years ago. There was certainly not the same sort of screening and acceptance. Back when I was in school, only dumb kids had learning disabilities. But even though I have no intention of returning to school, I’m glad I figured it out. It makes me feel like not quite so much of a failure for not “living up to my potential.” And, more importantly, I have the awareness to watch out for it in my daughter.

Okay, I had not really intended for this to end up as a post about my auditory input disorder. :) Anyway, I listen to music when I run because it is distracting, and it distracts me from how much running sucks. :P

So, after my mp3 player died, I instead tried to force my brain into thinking about writing-related stuff. I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the world of publishing as a business, because I know that it’s not enough to just write well. You have to treat writing like you would a career, and you have to know how the industry works. I know that it’s far better to receive a modest advance (for a first book) and have a modest print run and a decent sell-through, than it is to have a large advance that does not earn out and a high print run with a poor sell-through. A print run of 20,000 with 10,000 sales is a 50% sell-through. A print run of 100,000 with 10,000 sales is a 10% sell-through. It’s all about the numbers, which means the second scenario will pretty much tank your career and make the publishing house less than willing to invest more money in you.

I also invested $20 a month and subscribed to Publisher’s Marketplace, which gave me the ability to see all of the deals that have been made in the world of publishing. This is fantastic information, and I think that anyone who is trying or about to try to sell a book needs to invest in a subscription for a few months. Not only can you find out what kind of books are hot right now, but you can also see what kind of deal it is (one book or multi-book), who the agent is, who the editor is, and you can get a ballpark of what the advance is. (It breaks it down into Nice-1k to 49k, Very Nice-50k to 99k, Good-100k to 250k, Significant-251k to 499k, and Major-500k +)

I did a search on all sf/f deals, and noticed that the very large majority of authors get “Nice” deals. A very very small smattering of very well established sf/f authors get Major or Significant deals. Of those authors who had “Very Nice” or “Good” deals, pretty much all of them had been writing and selling for close to a decade, and had a backlist of at least five titles.

It was a healthy dose of reality. No, I haven’t sold a book yet, or even found an agent, but now when it happens I’ll go into the process with appropriate expectations and an understanding of what is expected of a writer beyond words on the page.

Okay, more later.

May 30

Change of morning plans

It’s 5:30 AM, and I’ve been awake since about 4:30 AM. This was intentional; on mornings that I go running I get up that early so that I have time to run and still get myself and everyone else ready and out the door in time for work/daycare etc. I’m a morning person, though, so it’s not as heinous as you might think.

But no running this morning. I woke up, brushed my teeth (I would hate to get hit by a car or something while running and have the EMTs be unable to get close to me because of morning-breath funk), wrestled my way into the 10th level sports bra that is required to hold Things in place, and went out to get the paper. And heard the thunder and saw the not-so-distant lightning.

Crap. I went back inside, pulled up the weather website (how the HELL did we survive before the internet??) and saw that an extremely impressive line of thunderstorms was marching its way toward my abode. I don’t mind running in the rain, but running in thunder and lightning is another issue entirely.

Bah. I did about 20 minutes on the stationary bike instead, but it’s just not the same. I probably should have done more than 20 minutes, but I just get so booooored on the bike.

In other news, the crush at work is getting more reasonable. Things are starting to fall into place and even though there’s no way to make the June 1st deadline that our director has set (BellSouth will only move SO fast, and IBM took FOREVER to ship our server), everything should be good to go by mid June at the latest. (Crossing fingers!) And, on the writing front, I’ve started keeping a notebook in my purse for when I get a cool idea for the book(s). I had what I thought was book 2 totally outlined out and the first few chapters written, and then I got another cooler idea and realized that book 2 would work better as book 3 and my new cool idea could be book 2 and the rough outline that I had for the original book 3 can just be book 4…

Holy crap I hope this thing sells..LOL

(Side note: It is SERIOUSLY thundering and lightning right now. I’m very glad I didn’t decide to chance it, since right about now I would probably be two miles away from my car. Yes, I have to drive elsewhere to go running, because my subdivision is merely two dorky cul-de-sacs. Fortunately, the subdivision right down the road is frickin’ perfect, so I park in the back and run over there. And no, I don’t run far–usually between 2.5 and 3 miles. And “run” is a strong word for the 11 minute/mile pace that I maintain. But I do keep moving, and there is nothing like running to keep the fat off. Oh yeah, and that darn “eating right” stuff too.)


I took Anna over to my sister’s house on Memorial Day to swim and hang out. My sister sent her husband and kids off to Universal Studios, and thus has a week of Quiet House.

Lucky Bitch.

Anna adores her “TeeTah” (she’s called my sister that since she was a baby, and it just stuck) and loves swimming in Teetah’s pool as well. However, before we went swimming we went over to her neighbor’s house to pick blackberries. The blackberries are everywhere this year, most likely because so many trees came down during Katrina and thus there’s less shade. In half an hour we picked a couple of pints, and I could have easily stayed out all day picking, thorns or no. I really like blackberries, but more than that, I love picking them. It’s a challenge, getting to the best berries through all of the thorny vines, and it also really takes me back to some pleasant memories from my childhood. I didn’t have an easy childhood–I was that person in class who got picked on by everyone else. I could never fit in, didn’t belong to any groups, and had few if any friends. In defense I buried myself in solitary activities such as reading and writing. But I also loved outdoor stuff like fishing, and wandering through the woods and exploring. (Yes, any modern day parent who allowed their 12 year old girl to go wandering off for hours on end would be brought up on charges, but it was a different time and a different place. It makes me sad that Anna won’t have that same ability/chance to just go and wander and see what cool stuff is out there.)

And in the summer, it was blackberrying. If you found a good patch of vines you could pick it all day, and that come back the next day and find that the red ones had ripened overnight. I would return home dirty, tired, and covered in scratches from head to toe, but with a generous bucket of blackberries.

We have blackberries behind our house now. Nowhere near as much as my sister’s neighbor, but enough for me to go a few yards back there and worm my way through the thorns to steal the berries away. I come back inside with my arms and legs scratched and a big tub of berries, knowing that tomorrow there’ll be a new batch to conquer. I think that blackberrying is a rite of childhood around here, and it makes me smile when I see grownups pushing their way through the thorns to get berries that can just as easily be bought cheaply at the store, picking memories of a simpler time.

May 23


There’s been a lack of it in my life lately. For some reason I’ve been waking up at 2:30 darn near every morning, and then I have a tremendous amount of difficulty getting back to sleep. I don’t know if anything in particular is waking me up, but I think I can’t get back to sleep because by that time I’ve had just enough sleep for my mind to start working again, so I end up thinking about all the things I need to do and I just can’t get settled again. And by that time it’s too late to take anything to help me get back to sleep. Ugh.

The workload at the day job continues to ramp up, and it’s going to stay that way for at least two more months. I’m in charge of anything to do with computers, networks, and telephone systems, and since we’re starting from absolute scratch, it’s been a complicated [expletive deleted] process. Complicated by the fact that IBM has been taking their sweetass time sending us our server. Also complicated by the fact that when you’re a governmental agency there are a zillion hoops to jump through when it comes to purchasing.

However, I’ve somehow managed to squeeze out some free hours here and there , and am well into the rough draft of book two, and have book three half-ass outlined. I sure as hell hope this thing sells, because I can see numerous books beyond those and I think this could be a really fun series. C’mon, a homicide detective who can summon demons. What more could you ask for?

Unfortunately, with all of these projects going on, the one area of my life that has suffered has been my workouts. I’ve regained a few pounds (arrrrgh!) so this morning I took advantage of my inability to sleep and got out of bed at 4:30 to go run. Now I just wish I was the kind of person who loses their appetite when stressed. Me, I stuff my damn face. Bah.

Aug 5

Her mother’s daughter!

Anna makes muscles.

Jul 26

Beer and mud

Actually, mud then beer. Last Sunday Jack and I decided to partake in an exercise in insanity known as the
Great Spillway Classic Trail Run

. This is the second largest trail run in the country, and the largest one that is on an actual trail. (The larger run is just through corn fields in Iowa.)

One of the warning on the race signup site is, “Do not wear new shoes!” This is probably because the race is known to be muddy.

Okay, it’s not just known to be muddy… they revel in the muddiness. They pray for rain, and encourage people to dive into puddles along the way. There’s actually a prize for the muddiest finisher.

Jack and I had no real desire to go for the “muddiest” prize; we were just wanting to run a nice fun interesting race and then drink the free beer and eat the free food at the end. It’s a 3 mile race–a distance we can both do easily. My youngest step-daughter, Ashley, had come along to watch Anna while we raced, and we told her that we’d probably finish at a nice slow sedate pace of 45 minutes, since surely we’d be a lot slower running through a difficult trail. Plus, there were close to 900 racers, which always slows things down as well.

Our lack of experience in trail runs betrayed us. The first mile of the course was nice and easy along the top of the levee. It was a typical race along there with runners nicely spaced out and room for people to run side by side, sometimes even four or five across. Then it went down into the swamp. And it became this insane single file chase. Yes, it was possible to pass people, but it wasn’t easy unless they’d stopped to walk and could step off of the trail. Which meant that Jack and I ended up running a lot faster than we’d really expected, simply to keep up with the pace of everyone else in our section of the race. (We are both very pokey runners, i.e. we typically run an 11 minute mile or so.) There really wasn’t as much mud as we’d been led to believe (which we later discovered was a major disappointment to the race administrators) however, the up and down and around and under and over of the trail was ridiculously tiring, added to the effort of maintaining a decent pace so that you could stay ahead of the runners breathing down your neck. About 2 miles in I remember thinking, “Okay… in theory this is cool.. but in practice this SUCKS!”

But we both finished, and our final time was 36 minutes for a 3 mile run, which meant that we’d really booked it through most of the trail section. And the next day we were both soooooooooooore!

Here’s a pic of us before the race:

before the race

Here’s a typical Anna expression.

Anna is not too pleased that her parents have run off

And here we are finishing up the race:
Me finishing

Jack finishing

Here’s the two of us after we’ve gone through the firehose-shower to clean off the mud:

And here I am recovering with Anna and a nice healthy hot dog.

And yes, even though it was insane and at times it sucked we will still most likely do it again next year. :)

Jul 7

I can’t do squat

I had grand intentions of going running yesterday morning, and even set my alarm clock for my usual 4:50am (which is how early I have to get up on the days I run in order to have enough time to run and then get ready for work and actually get there on time.) However, I missed the crucial step of turning the alarm ON and thus slept in until the positively decadent hour of 5:30 am. However, I think this was a sign that some Greater Being was looking out for me, because the workout last night turned somewhat brutal near the end, almost as if our kind and gentle coach was perhaps making up for the missed workout this week. Lots and lots of back exercises, then “light and fast” deadlifts–of which mine were neither light nor fast. Then we were going to go outside and do sled pulls, but it had been raining, and sled pulls (or truck pushes) are almost impossible on wet surface because you just can’t get any footing. So, instead we went into the aerobics room and did these horrific things called squat jumps across the room and back. Several times. We finally got chased out of the room by a karate class, so we went back over to the squat rack area and did in-place squat jumps, first with no weight, then with the 45lb bar on our backs–3 sets of 20. I think that’s the closest I’ve ever come to the Puke Point since I started training with Jesse. Ugh.

But I can’t argue with the results. I’m still steadily dropping pounds, and have finally broken through that darn 160 barrier that had been giving me fits for so long. Probably helps that I got good about my eating and overall diet again. And I’m running longer distances as well (4.7 miles on Tuesday!), and adding a few sets of intervals on the evenings that Jack puts Anna to bed. I have just a little over five weeks until San Diego! I’m also determined to get down below 148 by the next time I compete (end of September) so that I can be in a lower weight class.

I also discovered a way-cool website that helps you determine the mileage of a running course. You just drag your cursor over your course on the map and it tells you how far it is. Way easier than driving it, and it’s really convenient for planning out your running ahead of time.

Jun 6

Various catch up

Time is starting to tick down for the great grand and glorious trip to San Diego for the Writers of the Future workshop/awards ceremony. (Okay, so it’s ~ten weeks away.) A recent shopping expedition with my sister scored a dress that I think is going to work out pretty darn awesomely–even more awesome since it was marked down from $180 to $19.99. This, of course, means that I can spend more on accessories! (Actually, it means that it will be slightly more affordable for Jack to bring along two of his daughters for the weekend, but I’m still allowed to fantasize about really purty shoes.)


The Lose The Ass plan is also continuing to come along nicely, thanks to Kellum and his hardcore training. I’m running 2-3 miles 3-4 times a week in the mornings, and then I’m training with Jesse’s Krewe about four times a week. The workouts are hard and intense and are just what I need. It’s a somewhat different style of training from what I’ve always done. See, I started lifting weights for the first time when I was 18 years old and a freshman in college, when my very first boyfriend took me into the weight room at the school gym and showed me the basics of how to lift weights. I still remember the surprise and awe when I first felt the little bump of flesh that was the wee beginnings of a developed bicep. From that moment I was hooked and did my best to learn everything there was to know about training and bodybuilding. Unfortunately, this was in the mid-eighties, and there were shockingly few women who lifted weights, and fewer who did any sort of serious bodybuilding. Moreover, very little was known about nutrition and protein and carbs, and the supplements and protein powders that were available back then were very expensive and tasted like dried shit.

Over the past couple of decades I’ve maintained my love of weight training, though at time my love of eating and sitting on my ass has been greater. However, all of that weight training was of the bodybuilding/bodyshaping style, where the exercises are performed with the goal of building and defining various muscle groups.

The powerlifting style is a completely different animal. Whereas the bodybuilding builds muscle and in the process generally builds strength, the powerlifting builds strength and performance, and in the process generally builds muscle. Like last night, the main emphasis was on back. In a bodybuilding workout that would consist of lat pulldowns, seated rows, bent rows, and variations on those themes with 3 to 4 sets of 8-12 reps each. In a powerlifting workout the exercises are similar, but the emphasis is on the improvement of overall strength and the refinement of powerlifting moves. Last night we started with 5 sets of 10 of T-bar rows, then moved on to about 5 sets of 5 of rack pulls (which are basically deadlifts, but are done in a power rack with the bar set about knee level.) Oddly, I found the rack pulls to be a lot harder than regular from-the-floor deadlifts. I’d naively thought that getting that headstart of ~18″ would make it easier for me to pull the big weights (185lbs… hahaha), but instead I encountered the humiliation of straining red-faced and not budging the bar at all. :P I finally managed to drag the damn bar up three times with passable form, and only then was allowed to drop the weight to something that I could pull for 5 reps (165.. woo!) After the rack pulls, we then did 5×10 of knee-to-shoulder snatches (not sure if that is the correct term for what we were doing.) A bodybuilder would be doing these with the intent of isolating the shoulders and traps, with no body movement other than the arms. We were using basically our entire body to move the bar, with the goal of improving our deadlift and overall upper body strength.

Then we finished the whole workout off by going outside and pushing a pickup truck around the parking lot (and up a slight grade.. talk about Kick Your Ass!) (Some days, instead of pushing large vehicles, we drag weighted sleds back and forth the length of the building.) I’m always completely exhausted after a workout and the next day I’m always sore (though, strangely, my lower back issues have essentially disappeared since I started doing heavy deadlifts.) I figure that in another couple of months I’m going to be able to bust concrete with my ass. (Which, of course, has always been a goal of mine :) )


And, lastly, the other day I was skimming through a powerlifting message board, and in the “off topic” area I saw a thread titled “Good Sci-Fi books?” Curious as to what would be considered a “good Sci-Fi book” by powerlifters, I clicked on the thread.

I was amazed and gratified to see the following books recommended (these are cut and pasted from various posts):

More of the Dune series

The Illustrated Man - Bradbury

On the Beach - Nevil Shute

Neuromancer- William Gibson

Tau Zero - Poul Anderson

Something by Philip K. Dick (can’t decide)

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick (Bladerunner is based on it)

I Am Legend by (someone I can’t remember)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Aasimov

Iain Banks also has some good books.

The Book of the New Sun (a series by Gene Wolfe) is awesome, but very, very strange.

And so on… for the complete thread, check here. It’s a pretty impressive and literary set of recommendations. Heck, there were even recs for some of China Mieville’s books, and I can barely get through those!

Just goes to further demolish the stereotype of weightlifters/powerlifters as being dumb meatheads

May 17

Phase II of the Lose The Ass plan

I’ve decided to shake things up a bit and give the powerlifting-style training a go, at least for a few months. I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut with my regular bodybuilding-style workouts, and since I enjoyed the bench meet tremendously, and also since I’ve been sagging a bit in my motivation to really push myself in my workouts, I spoke to Jesse Kellum about training with his krewe.

His response was extremely encouraging and supportive, and almost felt like a “well, of course you’re going to train with us” kind of thing. (And I may have been reading way too much into his response, but considering that I have never seen any women training with the powerlifting group, it was heartening. It was also quite different from the response I got from him several months ago when I was first starting to lose the weight and I was feeling him out about powerlifting training. He basically said that he trained his women’s group in the morning and that his evening group was the “dudes”–giving me the unspoken impression that the evening crowd was for the “serious” lifters. And, nothing against the women in his morning group, but those are women who are looking to “get in shape”, not build quality muscle and gain significant strength. I can get in shape on my own, just fine. And I did… which is perhaps why he started being more open to me. Which is cool… I can totally understand having to prove myself.)

And the cool thing is that the instant I “officially” joined the group, I was treated as one of the guys. Yeah, the weights might be lighter, but I’m pushed just as hard as the others. And, to be honest, I had a lot of doubts about working out with a trainer and even more about working out with a group. The closest I’ve ever come to having a trainer was when I worked out with Kelly, and that was more having a workout partner who happened to be a trainer. I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to handle having someone else structure my workouts, wasn’t sure I’d be comfortable giving up that control. I’ve been lifting weights for 22 years, and even though I’ve had some long breaks in that time and have allowed my weight to creep up to uncomfortable levels a few times, I still know a helluva lot about training and dieting. I’m not some fucking newbie who doesn’t know where her deltoid is. And there’ve been a couple of guys in the gym who’ve given me some good advice about powerlifting, but at the same time have acted like, “Well, she doesn’t know powerlifting, which means she doesn’t know dick.” (I swear, the next time [certain powerlifter] rolls his eyes when I say something about training or dieting, I’ll knock his fucking head off and I don’t care if he IS three times my size.) I may not know much about powerlifting as far as the lifts and competition, but I DO know training.

But after a week of workouts with Jesse, I feel pretty cool about the whole thing. He’s never been the least bit disparaging, and in fact has made some really nice comments about the progress I’ve made this year. And, the training has been a great kick in the ass–which is exactly what I wanted. It’s definitely a whole different animal when someone else is telling you what to do. We all go through our lazy moments and when the only person motivating you is yourself, it’s way too easy to slack off and back off.

So, the group meets four times a week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Sat, for close to two hours per session. (I told Jesse right off the bat that most weekdays there’s be no way I could do the full two hours due to family and work commitments, and he was cool about that, though he did want me to try and work it so that I could stay the full time on Mondays–leg day–since it takes a lot longer to really work legs properly.) I started last Thursday, and since it was an incredibly pretty day, the majority of the workout was outside behind the gym.

We started out with taking turns pulling a weighted sled (90 lbs.) The length of the building. It’s a long building. We had to go down walking backwards, and come back going forwards, dragging this thing behind us. The first hundred feet or so weren’t too bad. The rest of it damn near kicked my ass. Walking backwards is also much much easier than going forward. I could barely drag it going forward, and I quickly discovered that if I stopped and lost momentum, I was fucked. Then, after we finished the sled drag, we had to do squats for ten reps. Deep. A helluva lot deeper than I have ever really done. (I’ve always been WAY lazy about going really deep in my squats–and I’m paying the price for it now, because I had to drop down to embarassingly light weights in order to do it right.) After the squats, we had to do situps. Then the whole cycle again. And again. And again.

I missed the Saturday workout due to Anna’s party, so then Monday it was legs again. Squats. Lots of ‘em. He had me going heavier on the weights, but still working on breaking my 22-year-old habit of not going deep enough. The dulcet tones of Jesse giving training advice still linger in my memories…

“Sit your ass back… sit back in the squat! Lower! Lift your chest! Stop looking at yourself in the mirror.. your hair’s pretty enough!”

Then last night was various upper-body stuff. Supersets of curls with laterals. More barbell curls. Smith machine military press. Finish it all off with a nice cleansing burnout of five sets of bench.

I’m thinking that I’m not going to have too much trouble losing these next 20 pounds before the Writers of the Future ceremony.

May 7

Movie Time!

I have discovered something exceedingly cool about my nifty little Canon Elph. Not only does it take movies as well as pictures, but it also has the capability to edit those movies on the camera–which saves me from having to wait until tomorrow to edit the clip of me and my final lift of 150 pounds.


I am in all of my benching glory.

May 7

Back from New Roads

I survived my first powerlifting competition, coming in second in my weight class and fourth overall! (Women’s division) I started out with a very tame 120 (a weight I KNEW I could press), then moved up to 135 (which is my raw max), and for my third and final lift I went for 150… and made it! (I have a great video of that lift that Jack took, but it’s going to have to wait until I can get to work and edit it for length.) I wore a bench shirt for the meet, but instead of using the super-duper one that is not yet broken in, I wore a very low-level “Blast” shirt that worked out perfectly.

Anyway, the meet itself was a heckuva lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of great people in the powerlifting community, got to see some incredibly strong men lift some incredibly heavy weights, and had the chance to see Jesse Kellum lift 800 pounds (at a bodyweight of 211. The man is Fucking Strong!)

I also (unfortunately) had the chance to see what happens when a powerlifter attempts a very heavy bench press when he has a stress fracture in his wrist. Everyone heard the snap, and the scream that followed. The weight rolled and the spotters managed to keep the 575 pounds from crushing the man, then he rolled off the bench and screamed again–an unbelievable sound born of the agony that only comes when a bone decides to see what the world is like on the outside of the skin. He was instantly surrounded by people with ice, splints, and towels, and fortunately a lot of paramedics, doctors, firefighters, and police do powerlifting. The meet was held up for about an hour as he was tended to and subsequently bundled off in an ambluance, and then the meet went on.

A few pictures:

This is me in my bench shirt. As you can see, it does lovely things for my boobs.

This is my second lift (135 pounds.)

This is the whole group from my gym. Yeah, I’m the only chick.

And, this is me with Jesse Kellum, the man who pressed 800 pounds. (Also, the one who talked me into competing in this meet.)

And, of course, I have to include an Anna Pic, since no entry is complete without one. I just have to say that Anna was amazingly good, especially considering how long the day was and how little there was for her to do. She only had one meltdown, and that was a short one.

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