Yep…Neil finally got off his recliner and worked on processing photos from our last trip…so I can *finally* update ya’ll on that trip.

Quick hurricane recovery catchup first though.

Power continues to come back in the area…but recovery is essentially in two different categories. There’s the ‘we can fix this pretty easy’ category and based on reports we see on the news most of these people should be back by the middle of next week or so. Then there’s the ‘there is no infrastructure left or there are no habitable homes and businesses in the area’ category (like the barrier islands…in those cases the poles and wires are all down and the substations are damaged or destroyed. Power companies keep some spare parts for all of that of course…but they don’t have enough to rebuild 50% of the substations or replace 50% of the poles immediately…and you can’t run down to Home Depot and get those things. They’ll be shipped in from other states or the people who make the components but that will be a longer term fix and those areas are basically uninhabitable anyway currently.

Water is up though all of Lee County but we’re still under boil water notice…that means you can shower but anything you’re eating off of or using water for cooking needs to be boiled first…this is more of a pain in the butt than an actual problem.

Sewer is up but not all lift stations are fully back up…so we’re still being asked to minimize sewage usage and only do laundry as necessary.

Groceries and gas are available…not everywhere yet but there’s enough stores open that feeding yourself is pretty easy…we went to Publix the other day and it was reasonably crowded but not packed and register lines were short to non existent…but then they had more registers open than normal. Food supplies on the shelves were pretty good…some were sold out but plenty of toilet paper, bread, and bottled water on them and that’s what usually runs out first in the panic buying phase.

Here at Casa de Gunther…we’re basically back to normal…power, water and sewer all working and we have plenty of food, wine, and chocolate. Removal of our dead tree is on the schedule of the landscaping folks so that just leaves the lanai screens and we’ll be a bit before that happens I think. The only drawback to that delay is we can’t open up our lanai doors for breeze but there’s two large windows adjacent to them that we can open so we’re about 80% on the breeze availability scale. We can grill and cook outside if we want and Date Nite is on for this evening as eateries are coming back online with the power restoration.

Ok…back to our previous trip.

We left here 2 weeks ago yesterday and headed up to Daytona Beach for the semi-annual Ladies of Elks convention. That’s mostly meetings for Connie but there was a dinner on Friday we had tickets to and the delegates reception on Saturday that she was also invited to with Neil as her +1. He however…didn’t have much to do so he planned a trip on Friday out to Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island NWR again…about 40 miles away. He originally had a trip over to a Lake on the schedule for Saturday morning but that is ab out 80 miles away and the other side of Orlando so he decided to punt that one rather than deal with the traffic…which meant he got to sleep in on Saturday a little later.

We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel right on the beach.

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It was pretty nice and the convention rate even covered the $15 a day parking fee at the self park lot across the street. 

The dinner Friday night was OK but not outstanding…pretty much what you expect from most banquet dinners. They both had the beef short ribs which were better than expected but the mashed taters and gravy were just OK. Desert was chocolate cake which was also pretty good…so I’ll reverse my previous ruling and call it a better than average banquet dinner.

Saturday evening came and we headed down to the Hospitality Suite area for cocktail hour before the delegate reception. When Connie got into the elevator one of her high heels got stuck in the crack between the elevator and the floor and she landed on one knee…and worse than that spilled her wine. There was a bellman in the elevator who helped catch her and along with Neil got her back up…he said it was only wine so no worries. She was then…naturally…embarrassed and unhappy so they sat down on a couch for a bit waiting on the reception to start.

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As you can see from the photo…she’s less than fully happy at this point. Neil stuck his ‘formal hat’ (i.e., what he wears in lieu of his baseball caps when they’re not appropriate) on her and told her it actually looked pretty good on her…she wasn’t convinced but on further review he still thinks it looks good on her.

Once the reception started we grabbed some food and a complimentary cocktail and sat down with a couple of friends. The hostess of the reception is the new state president of the Ladies of Elks…and every year the president picks a couple of colors and a symbol to represent her time in office…in this case the colors (for the outgoing president) were fuchsia and yellow…hence the reason she picked this dress for the reception. The incoming symbol was a rocket ship…which as you’ll see in a minute was quite apropos.

Shortly after we sat down to munch on the terrace overlooking the beach…Neil spotted a fire in the sky to the south.

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Yep…it’s a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch at about a minute and 15 seconds after launch (he’s watched a lot of these recently)…at that point it’s going about 3,000 miles per hour at an altitude of 100,000 feet or so and climbing on the first stage booster. We asked…well Connie did anyway…the incoming president if she arranged this just for us, she said no but would take credit for it anyway.

Connie got another shot…this one is zoomed in more and about 15 or 20 seconds after the one above so it’s probably getting on towards 7,000 mph and 200,000 feet, by this point it was almost due east of us and maybe 30 miles or so offshore.

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Shortly after that…a couple things that happen in quick succession about 2:15 after launch. First stage engine cutoff, stage separation and ignition of the second stage followed shortly by ejection of the two fairing halves that cover the payload…about 15 or 20 seconds for all of that to happen. She got a shot of that too.

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Looking at the above shot you can see the cutoff location of the booster just at center as the rocket travels to the left…then the exhaust of the second stage after it ignited. At the far left of the exhaust trail you can see…starting from the4 front…the second stage engine exhaust, the two really faint dots immediately to it’s right are the fairing halves, and the single brighter dot right of them is the booster as it starts to orient itself for recovery on the drone ship off of Jacksonville. The booster coasts up to about 65 miles high before starting back down and does a first reentry burn to slow its from 7,000 mph or so down to about 5,500 then air drag slows it most of the rest of the way down as it reenters the atmosphere’s denser sections. Then about 20 seconds before landing it fires one engine (out of 9) again to bring it from about 300 mph at 4,000 feet or so to a landing on the drone ship…it’s then returned to report and after a brief maintenance period it’s used again. This is what makes a SpaceX launch so much cheaper (about $150 million less the payload) than anything else that is launched…the Atlas rockets that the ULA uses are ab out $300 million less payload or the $2.5 billion or so (less payload) that the SLS or Space Launch System being developed by NASA costs. The SLS is the Artemis you see on the news which uses a single tank like the space shuttle did plus a solid booster on each side with all the payload atop the fuel tank. Cost and reusability are the reason for SpaceX’s cheaper cost per launch and for the 40th or so launch they’ve had this year with a 55 by the end of the year…in fact they’ve launched 2 in the last 3 days and have another one scheduled for this evening.

The fairing, 2nd stage, and booster are kinda hard to see in the shot above so here’s a better crop…sorry all of these are such low resolution but they’re all iPhone shots and are fairly well zoomed in…and phones are excellent for a lot of images but telephoto lenses they’re not. You and see the 2nd stage at left better…the two fairing half dots one over the other just in the middle, and the booster at the right…all clustered towards the left hand end of the exhaust plume.

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That was the excitement for the evening though. We finished the reception and a good time was had by all…and Connie was in a better mood afterwards.

OK…shifting back one day to Friday morning…they got up at about 0530 and Neil left just about 0600 so that he would be at the wildlife drive just about for 0712 sunrise which is when it opens. He stopped by a Krispy Kreme donut place they had spotted on the way into Daytona Beach and grabbed himself a pair of glazed donuts…the Hot light was on which means the donuts are still hot from frying and a hot Krispy Kreme glazed is guaranteed the best donut you’ve ever eaten in your life…war, soft, and very light compared to most glazed donuts…something about the way they make the batter I guess. He got a cup of coffee as well and poured it in his travel mug which he had previously charged with creamer and headed on down the road. He arrived right on time and set off on the drive.

Right away…wildlife started showing up…first up was this Little Blue Heron.

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Followed shortly but this Tricolor Heron…I wouldn’t have put this one in since it was sort of hiding behind some reeds…but it’s the beginning of this sequence where one of his friends/competitors/whatever decided that it wanted to be where the first one was.

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He then turned to the right…and although this is a not a great shot overall since it’s completely behind him…Neil likes the symmetry between the bird and the reflection.

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Another Tricolor and then a Little Blue a little farther along.

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And another Tricolor…guess he had an itch he needed to scratch.

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He stopped at the parking area and got a couple of nice sunrise shots…these are about 20 minutes after sunrise. All of these were taken within about 5 minutes or so but he varied the focal length and the processing a bit to get some different looks…the last one is the most true to the morning one but he likes the other interpretations as well.

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Leaving the parking area he spotted a couple of Reddish Egrets off to the west. They were hunting but not in the usual manner for a Reddish. Usually they spread their wings to provide some shade that attracts the fish…it makes them look like they’re dancing and you’ve seen some of his shots of that behavior before. Here’s what that behavior looks like.

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Not this pair though…they’re hunting much more like a Great Blue or Great Egret does. Neil thinks it’s because of the low light just after sunrise so there’s no way for it to cast the normal shadow so it reverts to a different hunting style temporarily.

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This one isn’t using the normal feeding behavior…it’s just scratching an itch.

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Stopping at the second parking area where the bathrooms are…he spotted a Green Heron just about 10 feet away off of the path. Pay carefully notice to the obvious fact that Green Herons are pretty short necked for wading birds…they’re almost always seen looking like this…but jus’ hold on a sec’.

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After leaving the parking area he spotted this Great Egret…unfortunately back lit but it is what it is…and he got a little feather glow around the edges.

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So…a sec is up…and here’s another Green Heron…different individual but same species. This sequence took about 2 seconds to happen…thank goodness for 12 frames per second on his Nikon Z9 body so he could pick the climactic moments in the breakfast grab.

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Hmmm…Green Herons actually have pretty long necks but they keep them retracted most of the time but the length makes this strike sequence to catch prey a lot easier. Neil couldn’t tell if it was successful or not but it flew off right after this and a Tricolor Heron took over the spot…so it must have been a prime buffet location I reckon as this was about 4 or 5 feet to the left of where the Green Heron left from.

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He left that spot and drove around the corner. Stopped the car and started to get out to look at something to see if was anything.

Pro Tip…when stopping the car on the road through the swamp and you’re about 2 feet max above water level and the driver’s door is about 3 feet from the water…always, always, always…look before you open the door.

He didn’t do that…and when he popped the door open and put his foot out there was this tremendous splash right next to his driver’s door…twas a gator and based on the splash size it was probably 7 or 8 feet long…he probably scared the crap out of it because it certainly scared the crap out of him. 

Finally…a bit down the road he spotted this Moorhen.

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That left about 3 miles or so on the drive…but the sun was now well up…the golden hour light was gone…and there wasn’t anything to see in those miles because there never is on that part of the drive. He’s not sure if there’s never anything there or if it’s just a matter that it’s 90 minutes or so after sunrise and they’ve all eaten and gone to roost for the day…but he’s never been willing to pass up opportunities on the early part of the drive on the off chance that he’ll find something later on…bird in hand ya know as they say.

He finished up the last of the drive and headed back to the hotel for shower, lunch, and nap before the dinner on Friday evening.

In between all of the Ladies of Elks stuff we observed that Ian was heading up across the west end of Cuba and as of Sunday morning it was aimed at the coast north of Cedar Key but almost every update moved the landfall prediction east and south…so we decided to punt the trip to Tuscaloosa for an organ symphony concert, NC to visit friends Bill and Linda, VA to see Alex and the kids, and NJ for Connie’s 50th high school reunion…and instead head home to put the hurricane shutters up…and the rest of the storm I’ve already reported on.

Interesting things found on the net.

This just in from this morning…apparently banning gasoline powered cars and natural gas and all the other dumb ass laws I talked about last time (or maybe the time before…whatevers)…out in the PRC they’ve also banned parking spaces

Yep…parking spaces…according to another new law cities, counties, or towns are prohibited from requiring developers to provide a minimum number of parking spots for any new construction…but only if the building is within a half mile of a transit station or bus line…or in other words just about everywhere that’s not out in the country. I guess that promoting mass transit is a good idea in theory…and it is for trains or subways but taking the bus (or buses) to work and back would easily turn a half hour to 45 minutes each way commute into 2-3 hours and nobody is going to want to do that instead of drive. Besides…since they’ve banned gasoline powered cars and expect everybody to buy a Tesla…where are those people supposed to park? But…it’s the PRC…and you can never, ever accuse them of thinking before acting because making a politically correct policy decision without researching the facts is way more important than actually governing the place in any manner that makes sense.

So…last time we talked about Jerk, Snap, Crackle, and Pop…so today we’re going to talk about a Shake…and well…this wasn’t actually found on the net, Neil learned it from his days dealing with nuclear power and nuclear weapons in his days in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club driving submarines.

Ya need a brief discussion about nuclear weapons first though. They contain either uranium or plutonium and that material is generally shaped into a sphere and surrounded with high explosives. The explosives are set off at exactly the same time so that the bang compresses the fissile material equally toward the center…and at the same time the force of the explosives starts moving outward toward the casing of the bomb…with about a quarter or maybe half inch between the explosives and the inner side of the case. But remember…physics happens way, way, way faster than shock waves do. Shortly after the bang goes off the uranium or plutonium reaches critical mass and the fissioning process starts. Each fission produces additional neutrons which go on to cause more fissions…and the time between each fission cycle in the chain reaction is about 10 to the minus 17 power seconds. When you do the math…it turns that in about 30 nanoseconds the entire fission process is complete…and all of the energy of the explosion has been produced already but the bomb case is still intact because in 30 nanoseconds (10 to the minus ninth seconds) the shock wave from the high explosive has only traveled about about 0.007 millimeters or the thickness of a couple sheets of paper. See…told ya that physics happened really fast. 

Now a lot of this energy is gamma rays and neutrons and other radiation types so the casing of the bomb actually gets broken and/or vaporized by the light speed radiation rather than by the excruciatingly slow (compared to the speed of light) speed of the shock wave from the high explosive.

The physicists who figured all of this out decided to have a little fun…so they invented a unit of time called a Shake…and defined it as 10 nanoseconds. When asked years later why they did this…one of them replied that it was so when somebody asked them how long the ‘nuclear part’ of the bang took they could say it only took “Three Shakes of a lamb’s tail”.

BTW, the pressure at the center of the uranium or plutonium sphere (which is normally hollow) approaches 100 million degrees and the pressure is about 1 million million million PSI…so if this was a hydrogen or fusion bomb then just before the high explosive goes off some Deuterium and Tritium (which are hydrogen isotopes) gets injected into the hollow center and the really high pressure and temperature causes those to fuse into helium…and the fusion process is about as much faster than the fission process as fission is compared to high explosives…again physics happens really fast.

In summary…the high explosive in the bomb is probably 100 pounds maximum…no idea really but it isn’t much In a fission only bomb like was used during WWII…all of the energy comes from fission. But in a hydrogen or fusion bomb…just as the high explosive is used to compress the plutonium so it will fission the heat from the fission is used to compress and heat the hydrogen enough to make it fuse. And there’s generally some lithium surrounding the sphere (or pit as they call it) to enhance both fission and fusion output…the total output of a fusion bomb is about 90% or more due to fusion and only a small amount from fission.

This is what a hummingbird’s nest and eggs look like.


If only there was a product that might help in this situation.


Didja ever wonder why Greenland looks so big on the map? It’s because the earth is round and most maps are produced using what is called a Mercator projection to put the round earth on a flat piece of paper. The Mercator projection means that as you go north from the equator the number of physical inches on a map that represent any given number of miles goes up. To illustrate this…each of the 3 circles on the map below are 500 miles in diameter. In actuality…Greenland is only about 4 times the size of the state of Texas. And now…ya’know.


Quick question…if you’re standing at the northernmost point in the country of Brazil…are you closer to the southernmost point of Brazil or to Canada. Almost everybody would say the southernmost point of Brazil…but then almost everybody would be wrong. It’s 4,279 kilometers to Canada and 4,393 kilometers to the south end of Brazil.



And finally…but I mighta used this one already…



About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
This entry was posted in Homebody, Photography, Travel, WIldlife, Ya Can't Fix Stupid. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finally!!

  1. Cat White says:

    I wrote the following to a friend (a very liberal person)who was trying to solicit my agreement on methods to stop climate change.She’s still speaking to me so that’s good. I’m sending this along to you really in response to a brief referral to climate change in another posting. I find it incredible that people ignore the fact that climate changes! Probably been going on since the earth cooled into a planet.

    I think human caused climate change is a ludicrous statement. Human influenced? It has to be. There’s probably enough sheer biological mass to influence things. Never mind the square miles of pavements, cities, roads. Forget the flatulent cows. Imagine what dinosaurs out out. As for forests turning into grasslands? It usually does. Or could go the other way. Both have happened on huge scales. Climate changes. It always has. It always will. The idea of halting it is grandiose and doomed to fail. And I think that is a very good thing.
    Generally, I let the whole discussion of global warming slide on by. But bear with me here please. I look at this from the viewpoint of geology, the history of the earth. Of course, climate changes, dammit. We have had many glacial periods and interglacial periods. Ten or twelve thousand years ago there was a mile of ice sitting on top of NH and running on south. Sea levels were way down. Florida was 350 miles wider than it is now. The undersea canyons off the east coast weren’t undersea. And geologically speaking, that is yesterday. NH is still having rebound earthquakes from the loss of all that weight. So here we are now, down one mile of ice. It’s floating around over that missing coastline. In most of the interglacial periods Florida was a string of islands if it was there at all. Hate to tell you this, but we haven’t even reached that point yet. People had nothing to do with the previous warmups and it had to get pretty damned warm for a long time to melt a mile of ice. It has been (possibly)up to 20 degrees warmer in previous interglacials than it is now. That’s a staggering amount. Picture the tropics in Canada. That happened.
    Don’t panic, it doesn’t mean it will get that warm this time around, but it could. Then again, we don’t have any idea what caused the Little Ice Age in Elizabethan times or the Maunder Minimum a little later. That could happen again too. Those were periods of terrible famine because of the sudden colder weather. Back in the 60s and 70s, those who knew these things were sure we were entering a new glacial age. Thank heaven they were wrong. But Dr. Enzmann, one of the smartest men, with the most wide ranging knowledge (3 PhDs, fluent in English, German and French, passable in Mandarin) I’ve ever known, thought the new Ice Age was unlikely, but commented that technically all it would take is one year of snows that did not melt in temperate zones and voila, a new Ice Age is upon us. Have I put you to sleep yet? Just stuff to think about.

    If people want to make the earth cleaner or at least less polluted. Great. But don’t bill it as climate control. The absolute worst thing we could do is succeed at stopping global warming and start global freezing. We don’t know diddly squat about what influences climate change. And a lot of changes seem to be self influencing. The perma frost thaws and Whoops! Methane leaks out and helps thaw more permafrost. That stuff makes CO2 look benign. Wonder if we could cap it and use that as a fuel*. Just guessing. But very seriously, I hope you aren’t burning me in effigy yet. Partly because of carbon emission, but mostly because I do believe we need to stop throwing bricks and bull shit, and really need to think of ways to adapt to the new world we will find ourselves and grandkids and several greats grandkids living in.

    *And that was before the gas line methane leaks

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      You’re right…to some extent.

      Yes…climate changes all the time and over the last billions of years it has been both warmer and colder than it is now. There are a great deal of factors that cause these changes…and some of them are simply random variations. Add in changes in solar flux, changes in the composition of the atmosphere, volcanic eruptions, etc, etc…and trying to predict what will happen is just a pure crapshoot.

      It’s undeniable that the usage of fossil fuels and human population growth necessitating more food growth ever since the 1500s or so when the industrial revolution started likely has some effect as well…but separating the human influenced effect from the everything else that affects climate just isn’t possible.

      Moving on to the climate justice warriors…they seem to have some delusions.

      Starting with the IPCC…the UN organization that broadcasts most of the warnings…when the name of the organization is International Panel on Climate Change…well, they’ve got a mission in life because they are already firmly convinced that it’s real (which it is) and that it is totally 100% due to human factors (which is impossible to prove one way or the other, but their minds are made up already).

      We see all these graphs of what global temperature was over the past 500 million years and the climate warriors hold them up as settled science…but there are a couple of problems with that. First off…any true scientist knows that there is no such thing as settled science, just science as we understand it today. After all…airplanes, ships powered by other than steam, nuclear power, space flight, landing on the moon and a whole raft of other technological advances were simply impossible and would never happen…until they did. If the climate warriors talked about ’science as we currently understand it’ and were willing to hear contrary opinions then I would be a lot more interested in hearing them.

      On the graphs they trumpet…the very first ability to actually measure temperature was invented about 1803 or so…just about 200 years ago. Science has no way to determine the ‘average global temperature’ 300 million years ago…so they use ice cores from Antarctica and slice and dice them to ‘prove’ that what they say happened…actually happened. Their theories of what happened are theories, not established fact or proven science. Again…as long as they keep insisting that they and only they are right and demonize anybody that disagrees with them…they’re not worth listening to.

      And even if we were to assume that they are totally right…and that the only thing affecting climate is human deeds…what can possibly be done about it? The warriors demand that we shift totally (well, only in the US, the rest of the world can keep on burning coal, gas, and oil) to renewable sources…but don’t explain how we will get along when the wind isn’t blowing or when it’s nighttime…and one simply cannot legislate scientific progress. As of today…the only non carbon power source humanity has that can realistically help is nuclear power…and even some of the most ardent climate warriors agree with that but the majority of them simply shout the disbelievers down. And we see that China, India, and Brazil which are right up there with the highest carbon emitters…well, they’re exempt from doing anything about it. Even if the US reduced carbon emission to zero…which would result in the end of the country, collapse of the economy, and a whole bunch of other bad things…those countries would continue to do what they’re doing and the inevitable collapse of civilization would be extended by months at best.

      I’m perfectly willing to expand the usage of renewable and non carbon sources of energy…but we have to be smart about it. Killing our economy is simply stupid as anybody with a couple of functioning brain cells would acknowledge.

      Worst of all is that those on the left…aren’t any more interested in compromising or reasonable conversations than those on the far right. Most progressives are only interested in free speech they like, social causes they like, and similar…and to be fair the far right is pretty much the same. Me…Connie and I are center right and actually agree with some of the things that center left people want to do…but unfortunately the majority of our political leaders are elected by the fringes and not by the majority of people in the middle because both parties nominees are pretty much picked by the extremists who vote in the primaries. So we end up with elections that simply offer us two bad alternatives and we’re forced to vote for the least bad one instead of a good one. I’ve always said that in every election there should be 3 choices on the ballot…candidate 1, candidate 2, and ’none of the above’…and if none wins then there must be a new election and neither of those candidates can be on the ballot next time…maybe that way we could get some leadership that is interested in compromise/everybody gets a little of what they want/nobody gets all of what they want…instead of the current non leadership that consists of we must be against whatever the other side wants, we must demonize the other side, and my way or the highway.


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