Harrington Group Blog

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The twinkling lights, the scent of freshly baked cookies, and the joyous laughter of loved ones – the holiday season is undoubtedly a magical time. However, it's no secret that December can also bring its fair share of stress. From gift shopping to holiday party planning, the pressure to create the perfect festive atmosphere can be overwhelming. Navigating the holiday stress requires a mindful approach and a commitment to self-care. Here are some tips to help you relax and truly enjoy the beauty of December.

1. Prioritize Self-Care: In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, it's crucial to prioritize self-care. Schedule moments of tranquility for yourself, whether it's a quiet cup of tea by the fireplace or a brisk winter walk. Taking time to recharge will help you face the season's demands with a clear mind and a rejuvenated spirit.

2. Set Realistic Expectations: It's easy to get caught up in the idea of the "perfect" holiday, complete with flawlessly wrapped presents and Instagram-worthy decorations. However, setting realistic expectations is key to reducing stress. Remember that perfection is unattainable, and the true magic of the season lies in the joy of spending time with loved ones, not in achieving a flawless celebration.

3. Plan and Prioritize: Create a realistic plan for the month, taking into account your commitments and responsibilities. Prioritize tasks and events, focusing on what truly matters to you. A well-thought-out plan can help you stay organized, manage your time effectively, and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

4. Embrace Simplicity: In the age of extravagant holiday displays and elaborate celebrations, there's beauty in simplicity. Consider scaling back on decorations, simplifying your holiday menu, or opting for meaningful, thoughtful gifts rather than extravagant ones. Embracing simplicity not only eases the logistical burden but also allows you to savor the essence of the season without unnecessary stress.

5. Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude:  Amidst the chaos, take moments to practice mindfulness and gratitude. Reflect on the positive aspects of the holiday season and express gratitude for the people and experiences that bring you joy. Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help ground you in the present moment, fostering a sense of calm and resilience in the face of holiday stress.

As December unfolds, remember that the true spirit of the holidays lies in connection, love, and joy. By prioritizing self-care, setting realistic expectations, planning thoughtfully, embracing simplicity, and practicing mindfulness, you can navigate the holiday stress and create a December filled with relaxation and cherished moments.
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Here at Harrington Group, we see ourselves as a family unit. We each play our own role and we come together as a strong team. This week, we are spotlighting our managing partner, Sean Cain.

Sean came to California from New Jersey at the age of 13. He and his 3 siblings were raised by a single mother, instilling in Sean an energetic work ethic, a healthy ambition, and a strong commitment to family from an early age.

This work ethic came into play as he put himself through a California State University to earn a degree. Soon after, he began working for the United Way in San Bernardino, California and then earned his CPA license at Harrington Group. Sean joined the company in 1996 and was invited into partnership at the age of 33 by his mentor and firm namesake, Joe Harrington. After joined the company, Sean has never looked back. His steadfast belief in the firm’s core values of “knowledge, service and respect” has catapulted him into a position of value to all of the clients who receive his service.

Sean is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). He is also a proud member of the Pasadena Rotary Club, where he serves on a number of committees and was selected as the incoming treasurer for 2014/2015.

In addition to Sean’s professional commitments, he is a devoted husband and father. With two sons, family days are spent camping in the desert, zooming through sand dunes or some other weekend adventure. Luckily, Sean’s love of cars and motorcycles is shared by his boys and sanctioned (most of the time) by his lovely wife.

Sean is proud to work exclusively for the nonprofit sector and for clients who serve their communities every day. Sean’s expertise in auditing and consulting works in concert with his passion for service to those who do for others.
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Stay Spooktacularly Safe this Halloween with These Tips

Halloween is an enchanting time of year, filled with costumes, candy, and spooky decorations. While the holiday is all about fun and frights, safety should always be a top priority, especially for children and families. To ensure you have a ghoulishly good time this Halloween, here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind.

1) Plan Your Route: If you're taking your little goblins trick-or-treating, plan your route in advance. Stick to well-lit areas and familiar neighborhoods. Make sure your kids are aware of the route and emphasize the importance of staying together. For older children who may be going out with friends, establish a curfew and know where they'll be.

2) Choose Costumes Wisely: While creative costumes are the highlight of Halloween, safety should never be sacrificed for style. Make sure costumes are flame-resistant and fit appropriately to prevent tripping. Use reflective tape or add glow-in-the-dark elements to make costumes more visible, especially when it gets dark. Masks should have good visibility, but if they don't, consider face paint as a safer alternative.

3) Candy Inspection: Teach children not to eat any candy until it has been inspected at home. Look for any signs of tampering, such as broken wrappers or unusual shapes. If in doubt, it's best to discard the candy. In the age of food allergies, also be vigilant about checking for allergens in the candy and consider allergy-friendly treats for those who may need them.

4) Stay Well-Lit: Carve your pumpkins with care, and use battery-powered LED lights instead of candles. Not only are they safer, but they also come in various colors and styles to add an eerie ambiance to your Halloween decor. Ensure your property is well-lit, too, to avoid any potential hazards for trick-or-treaters.

5) Travel in Groups: Encourage children to trick-or-treat in groups rather than alone. There's safety in numbers, and it's more fun when you're with friends. Adults should accompany younger children, and older kids should have a designated meeting place and time to ensure everyone returns home safely.

In the midst of all the Halloween excitement, these safety tips can help ensure that the only scares you encounter are the ones you willingly signed up for. By planning your route, choosing costumes carefully, inspecting candy, staying well-lit, and traveling in groups, you can enjoy a spooktacular Halloween filled with cherished memories and worry-free fun. So, go ahead and embrace the magic of the season, but do it with a mindful eye on safety, making this Halloween an enchanting experience for all.
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Embracing Autumn in Oakland: Five Must-Do Activities This Fall

As the days grow shorter and the leaves turn brilliant shades of red and gold, Oakland, California, comes alive with the magic of autumn. From scenic parks to cultural festivals, this vibrant city offers a plethora of activities to make the most of the fall season. Here are five must-do activities to enjoy in Oakland this autumn.

1. Hike in the Oakland Hills Fall is the perfect time to explore the natural beauty of the Oakland Hills. Head to Redwood Regional Park or Joaquin Miller Park, where the cool weather and changing foliage create an idyllic setting for hiking. You'll be surrounded by towering redwoods and colorful leaves, making it an ideal season for nature lovers and photographers.

2. Oakland Art Murmur Don't miss the Oakland Art Murmur, a monthly event where art galleries and studios in the Uptown and KONO (Koreatown Northgate) neighborhoods open their doors to the public. Stroll through the vibrant streets and appreciate local art, from paintings to sculptures. This event usually takes place on the first Friday of each month and is a fantastic way to connect with the local arts scene.

3. Harvest Festivals Oakland's fall season comes with a rich bounty of harvest festivals. Visit the Oakland Autumn Moon Festival to celebrate the Asian harvest season with cultural performances and delicious food. Additionally, the annual Oaktoberfest in the Dimond District offers a taste of Bavarian culture, complete with craft beer, music, and family-friendly activities.

4. Oakland's Lake Merritt Lake Merritt is a gem that shines even brighter in the fall. Take a leisurely walk or rent a pedal boat to enjoy the serenity of the lake while surrounded by the changing colors of the season. The Lakeside Park Garden Center is a great spot to witness the fall foliage, making it a perfect location for picnics and photos.

5. Dia de los Muertos Celebration Embrace the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos at the annual celebration held at the Oakland Museum of California. This colorful event pays homage to the deceased with elaborate altars, art, and music. It's a unique and vibrant way to learn about and participate in this cultural observance.

In conclusion, Oakland's fall season offers an abundance of activities for everyone to enjoy. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, art lover, or someone who relishes cultural celebrations, there's something for you in this vibrant city. As the leaves fall and the air turns crisp, make the most of autumn in Oakland by exploring these fantastic activities and embracing the unique beauty of the season.

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Creating an Inclusive Nonprofit: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Organizational Culture

In the world of nonprofits, making a real impact goes hand in hand with fostering an inclusive organizational culture. While many nonprofits are dedicated to addressing societal inequalities, it's equally important to ensure that their own house is in order. Creating an inclusive nonprofit that values diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) isn't just a moral imperative; it's essential for driving positive change effectively.

1. Embrace Diversity at Every Level: To build an inclusive nonprofit, the first step is to embrace diversity in all its forms. This means not only hiring a diverse team but also promoting an environment where diverse perspectives are respected and valued. Consider implementing blind recruitment processes to mitigate unconscious biases, and actively seek candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. Encourage employees and volunteers to bring their authentic selves to work, fostering an atmosphere of belonging and acceptance.

2. Prioritize Equity: Equity is a fundamental pillar of DEI. It's about recognizing that different individuals require different levels of support to thrive. In a nonprofit context, this might mean tailoring your programs to meet the unique needs of the communities you serve, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach. Ensure that your policies and practices are equitable, addressing disparities in hiring, pay, and advancement opportunities.

3. Inclusion as a Way of Life: Inclusion isn't a checkbox; it's an ongoing commitment. It means creating spaces where all voices are heard and valued. Encourage open dialogue and provide training for staff and volunteers to understand the nuances of DEI. Recognize that fostering inclusion requires continuous learning and adaptation. Be prepared to address issues as they arise, and develop a clear process for reporting and handling discrimination or bias.

4. Measure and Celebrate Progress: Finally, creating an inclusive nonprofit means setting measurable goals and holding yourself accountable. Regularly assess your organization's DEI efforts through surveys, feedback sessions, and data analysis. Recognize and celebrate successes, both small and large. Share your progress with your stakeholders, demonstrating your commitment to transparency and continuous improvement.

In conclusion, creating an inclusive nonprofit is not just a one-time initiative but an ongoing commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organization. By embracing diversity, prioritizing equity, making inclusion a way of life, and measuring your progress, nonprofits can create a stronger, more impactful, and sustainable future for themselves and the communities they serve.
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How to Create a Fall Garden: Planting and Maintenance Tips

As the vibrant hues of summer start to fade, it's time to shift our attention to the beauty of a fall garden. With the right planning and care, your garden can continue to flourish and delight the senses well into the autumn months. In this blog, we'll explore some essential tips for creating and maintaining a thriving fall garden.

1. Choose the Right Plants:

Selecting the right plants is crucial for a successful fall garden. Opt for species that thrive in cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours. Classic choices include chrysanthemums, asters, and ornamental grasses, which burst into a kaleidoscope of colors during fall. Additionally, consider planting cold-hardy vegetables like kale, lettuce, and carrots, which can withstand the chill and even improve in flavor as temperatures drop.

2. Timing Is Key:

Timing is everything in gardening, and the same holds true for your fall garden. Begin your preparations in late summer, allowing ample time for plants to establish strong roots before winter. Some gardeners even start earlier by sowing seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings when the time is right. Consult a local gardening calendar or your local agricultural extension office to determine the best planting dates for your region.

3. Soil Preparation:

Healthy soil is the foundation of any successful garden. Before planting, ensure your soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. You can incorporate compost or aged manure to improve soil structure. Mulch is also your friend during fall, helping to conserve moisture and maintain soil temperatures. Be sure to water your garden adequately, as plants often require more moisture during this season.

4. Maintenance Matters:

Once your fall garden is in full swing, proper maintenance is essential. Regularly deadhead spent flowers to encourage new growth and remove any diseased or damaged foliage to prevent the spread of diseases. As the temperatures continue to drop, keep an eye on frost forecasts and protect your more delicate plants with frost cloths or row covers.

In conclusion, creating a stunning fall garden is a rewarding endeavor that allows you to savor the beauty of nature's transition. With careful plant selection, timing, soil preparation, and maintenance, you can enjoy a vibrant and thriving garden throughout the autumn months. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to embrace the magic of fall in your very own garden paradise.
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Empowering Local Communities: Nonprofit Initiatives for Social Development

In a world characterized by rapid globalization and technological advancements, it's crucial not to overlook the significance of local communities. These communities are the backbone of societies, and their development plays a pivotal role in overall societal progress. Amidst the challenges and changes, nonprofit organizations have emerged as powerful catalysts for empowering local communities and fostering social development.

Understanding the Power of Local Communities Local communities are the heart and soul of any society. They encompass a diverse array of people who share common geographical locations, cultural values, and often face similar challenges. These challenges can range from limited access to education and healthcare, inadequate infrastructure, unemployment, to environmental issues. Addressing these concerns requires a localized approach that understands the unique dynamics of each community.

The Role of Nonprofits in Social Development Nonprofit organizations, also known as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), have proven to be instrumental in driving social change at the grassroots level. Unlike for-profit entities, nonprofits are driven by a mission to create a positive impact on society rather than pursuing financial gains. This makes them well-suited to address the multifaceted needs of local communities.

Nonprofits contribute to social development in various ways:

1. Targeted Interventions:  Nonprofits specialize in identifying the specific needs of a community through rigorous research and assessments. This enables them to design interventions that directly address the community's challenges, ensuring maximum impact.

2. Capacity Building: Empowerment is not just about providing immediate aid; it's about building the capacity of communities to sustainably improve their own lives. Nonprofits often organize workshops, training programs, and skill development initiatives that equip community members with the tools they need to thrive.

3. Advocacy & Awareness: Nonprofits serve as advocates for marginalized communities, raising awareness about their rights and needs. They work to influence policy changes at local and even national levels, promoting more inclusive and equitable development.

4. Collaborative Networks: Effective nonprofits collaborate with other organizations, government agencies, and private sector entities to pool resources, knowledge, and expertise. These partnerships amplify the impact of initiatives and lead to holistic community development.

5. Long-Term Vision: Nonprofits are committed to sustainable change. They focus on long-term outcomes rather than quick fixes, striving to create lasting improvements that outlive the duration of their projects.

Inspiring Examples of Nonprofit Initiatives: Numerous nonprofit initiatives have left a lasting imprint on local communities worldwide. Some notable examples include:

1. Microfinance Programs: Organizations like Grameen Bank have empowered local entrepreneurs by providing microloans, allowing them to start small businesses and break the cycle of poverty.

2. Education Outreach: Room to Read and Pratham Foundation have tirelessly worked to enhance literacy rates in various countries, building schools, providing books, and creating educational resources for underprivileged children.

3. Healthcare Access: Partners in Health (PIH) has transformed healthcare in impoverished areas, delivering medical services, building clinics, and training local healthcare workers.

4. Environmental Conservation: The Green Belt Movement, founded by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, has empowered Kenyan women to plant millions of trees, combat deforestation, and improve environmental sustainability.

5. Women's Empowerment: Kudumbashree in India has focused on women's empowerment through self-help groups, skill training, and income-generation activities, fostering gender equality and community development.

The Way Forward

As we navigate an increasingly complex world, the role of nonprofits in empowering local communities for social development remains indispensable. These organizations bridge gaps, create opportunities, and empower individuals to be agents of change in their own communities. However, for their efforts to be truly transformative, collaboration between nonprofits, governments, businesses, and local communities is essential. By working together, we can ensure that every community has the chance to flourish and contribute to the broader tapestry of societal progress.
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5 Essential Tips for a Successful School Year

As a parent, student, or teacher, the beginning of a new school year marks a fresh start, brimming with opportunities for growth and achievement. To make the most out of this academic journey, it's essential to set yourself up for success from day one. Whether your little one is entering a new grade level or you yourself are embarking on a new educational adventure, here are five indispensable tips to ensure you have a fantastic school year.

1. Set Clear Goals: The foundation of a successful school year begins with clear goals. Take some time to reflect on what you want to accomplish academically and personally. Whether it's improving your grades, joining a club, or learning a new skill, setting specific, achievable goals can help you stay motivated and focused throughout the year. Break down your goals into smaller milestones, creating a roadmap that guides you towards success.

2. Prioritize Time Management: With classes, homework, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments, time management becomes your best friend. Create a weekly schedule that allocates time for studying, relaxation, and social activities. Stick to your schedule as closely as possible to avoid last-minute cramming and overwhelming stress. Learning to manage your time effectively not only enhances your academic performance but also grants you more freedom to explore your passions.

3. Stay Organized: Organization is the key to maintaining a balanced and stress-free school year. Invest in a planner or digital tool to keep track of assignments, projects, and important dates. Keep your study space tidy and clutter-free, ensuring you can focus on your work without unnecessary distractions. Staying organized minimizes the chances of forgetting assignments, allows for better planning, and helps you maintain a sense of control over your academic responsibilities.

4. Embrace Learning Strategies: Every student learns differently, so it's important to discover which study techniques work best for you. Experiment with various methods, such as active recall, spaced repetition, and visual aids, to determine what helps you grasp and retain information most effectively. Don't hesitate to ask teachers, peers, or online resources for advice on effective study strategies – the more tools you have in your learning toolkit, the more confident and capable you'll feel.

5. Maintain a Growth Mindset: Challenges and setbacks are a natural part of any academic journey. Instead of viewing them as obstacles, embrace a growth mindset. Understand that failures are opportunities for learning and improvement. When you encounter difficulties, approach them with a positive attitude and a willingness to persevere. Remember, every successful individual faced hardships on their path to achievement; what sets them apart is their determination to learn from their experiences and keep pushing forward.

A great school year is within your reach when you arm yourself with these essential tips. Setting clear goals, managing your time effectively, staying organized, adopting effective learning strategies, and maintaining a growth mindset are all key ingredients for academic success. By incorporating these principles into your routine, you'll not only excel academically but also create a foundation for personal growth that extends far beyond the classroom. Embrace the challenges and opportunities this school year brings, and make it a year of achievement, growth, and unforgettable experiences.

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How Nonprofits Can Inspire Action through Compelling Narratives

In the world of nonprofits, where the competition for attention and resources is fierce, the ability to tell compelling stories is an invaluable skill. Storytelling has a unique power to captivate hearts and minds, evoking emotions and inspiring action. In this blog, we will explore the art of storytelling and how nonprofits can harness its potential to make a lasting impact.

Connecting on an Emotional Level: One of the key strengths of storytelling is its ability to create an emotional connection with the audience. Nonprofits can leverage this power by sharing personal stories of individuals whose lives have been transformed through their work. By highlighting the challenges they faced, the journey they undertook, and the positive outcomes achieved, nonprofits can effectively engage donors, volunteers, and supporters, inspiring them to take action.

The Hero's Journey: The hero's journey is a powerful storytelling framework that nonprofits can adopt to create impactful narratives. By casting their beneficiaries or the communities they serve as heroes, nonprofits can take the audience on a transformative journey. This narrative structure involves introducing the hero, presenting the obstacles they face, and ultimately showcasing their triumph over adversity. By positioning their work as a catalyst for change, nonprofits can inspire others to join them on this journey and contribute to their cause.

Making Complex Issues Accessible: Many nonprofits tackle complex social or environmental issues that can be challenging for the general public to fully grasp. Storytelling provides a way to simplify and humanize these issues, making them relatable and understandable. Through narratives that focus on individual experiences, nonprofits can break down complex problems into personal stories that resonate with the audience. This approach helps create empathy and encourages people to engage with the cause.

Visual and Multimedia Storytelling: In today's digital age, nonprofits have a wide array of tools at their disposal to tell their stories. Visual and multimedia storytelling, such as videos, photos, and infographics, can enhance the impact of narratives by creating a more immersive and memorable experience. Nonprofits can leverage these mediums to showcase their work, highlight the stories of their beneficiaries, and convey their mission in a visually compelling and emotionally engaging way.

Authenticity and Transparency: When telling stories, nonprofits must prioritize authenticity and transparency. People connect with genuine narratives that reflect real experiences and emotions. By being honest and transparent about their challenges, setbacks, and progress, nonprofits can build trust and credibility with their audience. Sharing both successes and failures can demonstrate a commitment to learning and improvement, making the storytelling even more powerful and relatable.

By crafting compelling narratives, nonprofits can connect with their audience on an emotional level, make complex issues accessible, and build a sense of shared purpose. Let your nonprofit's stories be heard, and let them ignite the passion and action needed to create a better world.

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Top Tips for Saving Money During the Summer Season

Summer is a season filled with sunshine, vacations, and fun, but it can also be a time when expenses tend to rise. From higher utility bills to vacations and outings, it's easy to see how summer spending can quickly add up. However, with some smart planning and a few simple strategies, you can enjoy the season while keeping your wallet happy. In this blog post, we'll explore some effective ways to save money during the summer time, allowing you to make the most of the season without breaking the bank.

1. Embrace the Great Outdoors:
One of the best aspects of summer is the opportunity to enjoy nature and outdoor activities. Instead of spending money on expensive indoor entertainment options, take advantage of free or low-cost outdoor activities. Go for a hike, have a picnic in the park, organize a beach day, or explore local trails. Not only will you save money on expensive attractions, but you'll also get some exercise and fresh air in the process.

2. Save on Energy Costs:
With the sweltering heat, keeping cool can become a major expense during the summer. To save money on energy bills, consider these tips:
- Use fans instead of air conditioning whenever possible.
- Close curtains and blinds during the hottest parts of the day to block out the sun.
- Optimize your thermostat settings by adjusting it slightly higher to reduce cooling costs.
- Take advantage of natural ventilation by opening windows during cooler evenings.

3. Plan Budget-Friendly Vacations:
Summer is synonymous with vacations, but that doesn't mean you have to break the bank to have a memorable time. Consider these budget-friendly vacation ideas:
- Opt for local destinations: Explore nearby cities or towns you've never visited before. You'll save on transportation costs and can often find great deals on accommodations.
- Plan a staycation: Take time off work and transform your home into a relaxing oasis. Explore your city, visit local attractions, or simply relax and catch up on your favorite books or movies.
- Consider camping: Camping is an affordable and fun option for nature lovers. Pitch a tent, build a campfire, and enjoy the great outdoors without spending a fortune.

4. Grow Your Own Food:
Summer is the perfect time to start a small garden. Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs can significantly reduce your grocery bill. Even if you don't have a backyard, you can grow herbs or small plants on a windowsill or balcony. Not only will you save money, but you'll also have the satisfaction of eating homegrown, fresh produce.

5. Host Frugal Summer Gatherings:
Summer often calls for socializing and get-togethers. Instead of going out to expensive restaurants or venues, host your own frugal gatherings. Organize potluck dinners or BBQs, where each guest brings a dish to share. Alternatively, take advantage of public spaces like parks or beaches, where you can host picnics or outdoor games for free.

6. Cut Back on Unnecessary Expenses:
Take a close look at your regular expenses and see where you can make cutbacks. For example:
- Reduce dining out: Instead of eating at restaurants, try cooking at home more often. Experiment with new summer recipes using fresh, seasonal ingredients.
- Limit unnecessary shopping: Avoid impulsive purchases and stick to items that you genuinely need. Consider renting or borrowing equipment or tools for occasional use instead of buying them outright.
- Save on transportation: Whenever possible, opt for biking, walking, or using public transportation instead of relying on your car. Not only will this save you money on fuel, but it's also better for the environment.

Saving money during the summer doesn't mean sacrificing fun or relaxation. By embracing outdoor activities, being mindful of your energy usage, planning budget-friendly vacations, growing your own food, hosting frugal gatherings, and cutting back on unnecessary expenses, you can enjoy the season while keeping your finances in check. Implement these tips and watch as your savings grow while you make the most of the sunny days ahead.
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