Posted by: jockmackenzie | November 21, 2013

The Gift of the Magi

 

imagesimages-1 PB100069

This blog entry offers the text of another classic short story (with thanks to Project Gutenberg), a sample of “Court” questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, and a plot outline of the story. The pictures above are one other critical element in assisting students in their understanding of the story.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?”

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice– what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims–just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

I have cheated a bit on the example below and offered only possible questions – not answers.

“Court” Questions from “The Gift of the Magi”

Create questions and suggest answers.  (See the front side for assistance.)

1. Knowledge (2)

Where did the Dillingham’s live?

Define “parsimony.”

2.Comprehension (2)

Explain what “combs” are.

Describe Jim’s personality.

3.  Application (2)

Use the term “mendicancy” in a new sentence.

Show the court how a fob chain works.

4.  Analysis (2)

Distinguish between the appearance of Jim’s name on the mailbox from prosperous times to hard times.

Outline the events of the story from the point Jim got home.

5.  Synthesis (1)

How could this story be made more modern?

6.  Evaluation (1

Rate this story according to its importance to readers at Christmas time.

I. Introduction:



A. Setting:


1. Time: Past X Present Future


2. Specific time: the day before Christmas


3. Place: a furnished flat (apartment)


4. Mood (Atmosphere): sadness, despair


B. Characters:

Name
Physical Description Character Traits

Della, Mrs. James Dillingham Young
beautiful hair, slender thrifty, emotional, loving

Jim, Mr. James Dillingham Young thin, 22-years-old kind, thoughtful, wise


C. Antecedent Action: times had been very tough, Jim and Della had only two prized possessions – Jim’s gold watch and Della’s beautiful hair

II. Initial Incident:



A. Type(s) of conflict: Man versus Himself


B. Problem (in question form): Will Della find a suitable Christmas gift for Jim?


C. 1st event that shows the problem: Della is crying as she worries about only having $1.87 to buy Jim a gift.

III. Rising Action:

– the  events which begin after the Initial Incident that make us wonder about the answer to the problem.
G – Della looks in the mirror and gets an ideaG – Della rushes out to sell her hair and gets $20G – Della finds the perfect gift, a platinum chain for Jim’s watchG – Della curls her hair so Jim won’t be too disappointedB – when Jim arrives home and looks at Della, he is speechlessG – Jim recovers from the shock and hugs DellaG – Jim reassures Della that he doesn’t think any the less of herG – Jim has a present for Della, two expensive hair combs she had worshiped for some time

G – Della gives Jim the watch chain

IV. Climax

Jim tells Della he sold his watch to buy the combs. Della realizes she has beautiful combs and no hair; Jim has a wonderful chain but no watch.

V. Epilogue/Resolution

Jim is not upset and says they should put their presents away for awhile. The reader is reminded that, like the magi who gave gifts to Baby Jesus, the greatest and wisest gift is the gift of sacrificing one’s own needs for the love of someone else.
Posted by: jockmackenzie | November 20, 2013

Writers in Schools Program

I was excited and pleased to learn that I’ve been accepted as part of the Canadian Authors Association “Writers in Schools Program.” A record number (34) Alberta writers are available to speak to schools about their writing. The application deadline is December 16. 

Here’s my info followed by a list of all of the writers followed by a link to the WISP program:

Jock Mackenzie – Red Deer
BIOGRAPHY
Jock Mackenzie was a language arts teacher and administrator in the Red Deer Public SchoolDistrict for 31 years. Since retiring he has been writing and speaking at teacher conventions and
conferences.

In February 2007, he published his first book titled Essay Writing: Teaching the Basics from the round Up (Pembroke Publishing). Jock’s second teacher reference book (yet to be published) is titled Poetry and Song. As well as educational writing, Jock has written an adult crime drama Dealing With Dymans. It too awaits publication. Most recently, he has turned his attention to writing magazine articles.

PRESENTATIONS AND WORKSHOPS
In his sessions, Jock Mackenzie shares many proven activities he has used and fine-tuned. Sessions are well-paced, practical, product-oriented, student-friendly, and humorous. All sessions are interactive and can be tailored to meet specific needs.

Essay Writing. The skills required to write an essay are the same skills required to write a speech, to prepare a persuasive argument, to explain an idea – and on the list goes. Help your students write more effective essays by “acting out” an essay – and more.

The Plot Thickens. Learn how to plan a story using the 3I-RACER plot outline. Play the Fortunately-Unfortunately game. Sequence ideas using cartoons – with and without dialogue bubbles. Learn to be a better storywriter – and a storyteller.

Poetry and Song. Teach skills and add excitement to this unit by taking a new approach. Write new words to old songs. Learn new methods for working with rhythm and rhyme, syllabication, figurative language, recitation, and compressed thought. Be a poet – and know it.

Pre-writing to Celebrating. Engage student interest and add reality to the writing process. Through a clearer understanding of the writing process as well as creative activities that involve students at each step, learn how to improve your writing program.

Presentation area: Red Deer and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 4-6, Junior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students; auditorium up to 100 students

Further information:
Websites: jockmackenzie.wordpress.com

All of the presenters:

Meet the Writers of the 2014 Writers In School Program

Edmonton and area
Lisa Anderson – Sherwood Park
Alison Clarke – Edmonton
M. Jennie Frost – Edmonton
Joan Marie Galat – Spruce Grove
Joyce Harries – Edmonton
Alison Hughes –Edmonton
Shelley A. Leedahl – Edmonton
Kath MacLean – Edmonton
Kenna McKinnon – Edmonton
Alison Neuman – Edmonton
Diane Robitelle – Edmonton
Jennifer Snow – Edmonton

Northern Alberta
Karen Bass – Hythe
Charmaine Hammond – Plamandon
Sue Farrell Holler – Grande Prairie
Audrey Shield – Barrhead

Central Alberta
Jock Mackenzie – Red Deer
Blaine Newton – Red Deer
Maxine Spence – Didsbury

Calgary and area
Maureen Bush – Calgary
Susan Forest – Calgary
Jacqueline Guest – Bragg Creek
Janet Gurtler – Calgary
Susanne Heaton – Calgary
Faye Reineberg Holt – Calgary
Kristin Kraus – Calgary
Hector Larrazabal – Calgary
Maureen Magee – Calgary
Deborah Fannie Miller – Calgary
Lorna Schultz Nicholson – Calgary
Mike Plested – Calgary
Lea Storry – Calgary
Emily Ursuliak – Calgary

Southern Alberta
Halli Lilburn – Rosemary

For more information, go to http://www.canauthorsalberta.ca/writers-in-schools

Posted by: jockmackenzie | October 19, 2013

YIMBY READS – for Facebook and Twitter

This is a test. I have recently added my blog files to Facebook and Twitter and want to see if this works. Joe Luddite Inc.

YIMBY stands for Yes, In My Back Yard. While teaching seven and eight-year olds at Reading College (a summer program for students reading below grade level), I discovered many don’t have books in their homes. My kids had bookshelves filled with books. Hmmmmm?

I went to Karen Vanderwater, principal at Mattie McCullough Elementary, and asked her if she thought her students might donate their gently-used books to students right here in Red Deer who were less fortunate. It would be a program to solve a problem in our own back yard. Mattie 1

Jock and Mattie girls

Since that first conversation, the students at Mattie have donated over 2000 books. Several other schools are now on board. Money for labels and banker boxes was donated by Dan Murdoch of Doormasters, a local firm with an interest in helping the community. High school art teacher, Carrie Waldo, used the remnants of her paints in June (and the assistance of two of her classes on the last day) to decorate the boxes.

Logo - Doormasters

YIMBY box 1

YIMBY boxes

YIMBY template

Many of the books collected from Mattie McCullough Elementary went to the K to 8 classes at G.H.Dawe School. In response, Mrs. Gwen Dawes-Harker’s Leadership class organized a YIMBY project of their own and collected over 1500 books.m

Dawe Challenge

Dawe carrying

Dawe kids at truck

A keen eye will note that the Dawe students aren’t using the decorative boxes. Well, not all stories follow an easy to tell timeline.

Some of the books made their way to Normandeau School and were, in part, given away to parents and kids who attended a special parent night. Shown here is librarian Amber Martin at the Take A Book Home table.

Amber at Normandeau

Yet another Leadership class has joined the project. Shown below is VP Sean Grainger of Glendale Science School (K – 8) and his group of enthusiastic students.

Glendale students

And just recently, a load like this went to Westpark Elementary School.

Truck load of books

The journey continues . . . and it could take place in your town. No franchise fee, no fuss, no muss, just the desire to say, “YES, in my back yard”  will see that once-read books get read again and again and . . .

Posted by: jockmackenzie | October 18, 2013

YIMBY Reads

YIMBY stands for Yes, In My Back Yard. While teaching seven and eight-year olds at Reading College (a summer program for students reading below grade level), I discovered many don’t have books in their homes. My kids had bookshelves filled with books. Hmmmmm? 

I went to Karen Vanderwater, principal at Mattie McCullough Elementary, and asked her if she thought her students might donate their gently-used books to students right here in Red Deer who were less fortunate. It would be a program to solve a problem in our own back yard. Mattie 1

Jock and Mattie girls

Since that first conversation, the students at Mattie have donated over 2000 books. Several other schools are now on board. Money for labels and banker boxes was donated by Dan Murdoch of Doormasters, a local firm with an interest in helping the community. High school art teacher, Carrie Waldo, used the remnants of her paints in June (and the assistance of two of her classes on the last day) to decorate the boxes.

Logo - Doormasters

YIMBY box 1

YIMBY boxes

YIMBY template

Many of the books collected from Mattie McCullough Elementary went to the K to 8 classes at G.H.Dawe School. In response, Mrs. Gwen Dawes-Harker’s Leadership class organized a YIMBY project of their own and collected over 1500 books.m

Dawe Challenge

Dawe carrying

Dawe kids at truck

A keen eye will note that the Dawe students aren’t using the decorative boxes. Well, not all stories follow an easy to tell timeline.

Some of the books made their way to Normandeau School and were, in part, given away to parents and kids who attended a special parent night. Shown here is librarian Amber Martin at the Take A Book Home table.

Amber at Normandeau

Yet another Leadership class has joined the project. Shown below is VP Sean Grainger of Glendale Science School (K – 8) and his group of enthusiastic students.

Glendale students

And just recently, a load like this went to Westpark Elementary School. 

Truck load of books

The journey continues . . . and it could take place in your town. No franchise fee, no fuss, no muss, just the desire to say, “YES, in my back yard”  will see that once-read books get read again and again and . . .

Posted by: jockmackenzie | September 4, 2013

A Weighty Subject

It’s been far too long since I posted anything here so . . .  I’m back. Reading College 2013 was another fantastic adventure but I will save that specific topic for another post.

While at Red Deer College, I made a number of new connections. Susan Martin emailed me to say, “We thought this guide would be a fun way to remind college students that there are plenty of simple ways to maintain their health and fitness: http://www.thebestcolleges.org/the-best-regimen-for-college-fitness/.” Here’s a a taste of what’s on the link:

Red Deer College

Posted by: jockmackenzie | June 5, 2012

The Magnificent Seven – the Reading College team

Preparation for Reading College has taken precedence over most everything else so no new posts for the blog until after RC.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | April 26, 2012

Reading – little kids and bigger kids

This post contains a logo, a little kids reading survey, and a middle school survey. Your input is requested.

As mentioned in my post of March 6 2012, I will act as the Teacher Supervisior or Program Co-ordinator or Grand Poobah (haven’t come up with the right moniker just yet) for a month-long program in July for 30 emerging readers who will have finished Grade Two. Sadly, they will have completed Grade Two but won’t be reading at grade level. That’s the role of Reading College.

Part of the our job will be to determine a pre-  and post- attitude toward reading. To that end, our friends in Camrose who run Reading University at Augustana University  have suggested the following Garfield survey. Several of our classroom teachers who are sending students to our program have opined, “The survey is a bit long and somewhat redundant.” A similar writing survey is much longer.

I am including the Garfield survey here and would ask for reader comments: Which questions (if any) do you find redundant?

So that’s the “little kids'” survey. I would certainly appreciate any thoughts you have – please comment if you can.

And now for the “bigger kids.” I have a copy of the September 2003 issue of Voices from the Middle, A Publication of the National Council of Teachers of English and I refer to several of the articles when I am thinking about reading for the middle years. In an article by Mari Beth Bennett (From Practice to Preaching: Helping Content Area Teachers Teach Comprehension), she includes a survey that I think is worth sharing:

As with all of my posts, I intend all that I share to be of practical use to classroom teachers. I trust those whose ideas I pass along will appreciate the concept of creating a better world for today’s students.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | April 10, 2012

Classroom Management – Students working in groups

Everyone loves group work!

Recently, I had the pleasure of acting as a University Facilitator for four students in their final practicum at Red Deer College. As I watched each of these fledgling teachers interact with students, I was pleased to see them employing the tools of teaching in effective ways . . . but I did have my moments of concern.

On one occasion, the practicum student concluded the introduction to her lesson and announced the students would work in groups. All of the disasters of years past came flooding back – What if she allowed them to find their own partners and someone was left out? What if the students least likely to get anything done chose to work together? What if it took an interminable time to sort out the groups?

POOF! She pushed the upper left corner of her SMARTboard and the groupings appeared. She had predetermined the groups and all began well!

And now it’s time for my hint. My habit, as early in the school year as possible, was to create a list of twos and threes for each of my classes. I made pairs of students who I knew could work together. I then tried to switch things up and make threesomes who could work together – and not just the twosomes with an added partner. If possible, I made pairs of boys as well as pairs of girls, then I made pairs that were boy/girl combos. The threesomes were always mixed.

By having a list of twos and threes, I felt prepared for almost any eventuality. If I wanted foursomes, I simply joined two pairs, and for sixsomes, I joined two groups of three. 

Of course, there were occasions when I did allow students to choose their own groups. And on these occasions, there were times when someone was left out. I considered it a life lesson. Why was someone overlooked? We talked about it and dealt with it. I can remember saying, “It’s okay if you want to work in a small group – a group of one.”

P.S. If Classroom Management is an area of interest, see the previous entries under the titles:

Classroom Management: A Quiz, Classroom Management:Creating an Identity, Classroom Management: more than entertainment, Classroom Management:Learning Students’ Names #1, #2, #3, Classroom Management:Knowledge of Results (Code Names). There are also several entries under the titles Classroom Discipline and Classroom Rules.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | April 2, 2012

Teacher Reading – “Teaching Middle School Language Arts”

I met Anna J. Small Roseboro through the English Ning, a site used to share ideas. She kindly sent me a copy of her new book shown below. As you will see in the second photo, once I found my supply of sticky tabs, I was hardpressed not to put at least one on every page. That’s how good this book is! TMSLA is a gold mine of ideas. I encourage you to check it out.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 23, 2012

Sharing -sites to follow

The whole idea behind Teacher Man, Teacher Ms. is the sharing of ideas. To date, I have been sharing my ideas. On rare occasions, people who visit the site leave comments. On even rarer occasions, the people who have visited and who leave comments are fellow bloggers. Today I’d like to share the sites from two of these visitors. I encourage you to visit their sites and borrow the wonderful ideas they have to share . . . and, if the spirit strikes you, leave a comment.

Differentiation Daily has proven to have great ideas gleaned from a variety of sources. See http://www.differentiationdaily.com

I have recently come across this site but been impressed by what I’ve seen. Go to http://thatwritinglady.com

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