Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes on Lent, Harry Potter, and Tiny Humans

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

Prepare yourself. Lent is coming.

The hip thing to do this year is to remind everyone that Lent is coming. Now I’ve memed it, so it’s extra cool.

Check your Mass times now. Remember that Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, although it is good to go to Mass that day. (I like to call it a holy day of non-obligation. Also try to figure out how many daily reflection emails you signed up for and pare them down. (That last one might be a reminder just for me.)

My Ash Wednesday pet peeve: if you want ashes, get them in Mass, and do not leave early. Then you have to repent for leaving early. That’s not a good way to start the season. You’re supposed to repent of the sins you already committed, not work on new ones.

— 2 —

I have found it extremely helpful over these many years observing Lent to treat it less like a marathon and more like a restart to ordinary (or New Year’s) resolutions. Lent is not supposed to be an epic quest to sustain one sacrifice “from ashes to Easter.” It’s okay if you fail along the way or even change what you’re doing. Just don’t give up.

Thus, I suggest you test out your Lenten fasting, almsgiving, and/or prayer early. Today’s a good day. If you’re going to pray the Morning Offering every day, pray it right now. It might not be morning as you read this, but ever is better than never. By Wednesday, you’ll be well on your way to making it a habit to be practiced during Lent and for life… or you will have chosen something different.

Kendra’s post is the best I’ve ever seen for Lenten sacrifice suggestions. There has to be something on that list you can actually do and should probably be doing anyway. (The thought of leaving dirty dishes out overnight makes me shudder. Get flies once and you’ll never do it again.) Become a better person during Lent.

Get holy or die tryin'.

Word.
(Button and other items available from CatholicToTheMax.com.

— 3 —

So what am I doing for Lent? I’m not telling. I’ve been working on it for a long time, though, and I am tired of taking it to Confession, so this is it.

Additional pet peeve: When did it become cool to say, “Actually, instead of giving up something, you should take up something,” with a snooty voice and everything? This is a faith of both/and. You are not less holy if you give up chocolate. If you want to give up chocolate, do it, and don’t let anyone make you feel like it’s not good enough. Something is always better than nothing.

If you feel like giving up chocolate is not good enough, then pick something more challenging. But don’t be bullied into it.

— 4 —

I think it was actually that 66 Outside-the-Box Lenten Sacrifices post that made me realize I should probably be reading Kendra’s blog regularly. I admire the ladies of the Catholic blogosphere who can keep it real, preach the Truth, and be effortlessly humorous.

So I saw her Harry Potter post. Yes, please! I knew she was a fan, as are her oldest two kids, and I’m pretty sure she’s written a Harry Potter apologia before, but I think her recent post about why Catholics and other Christians can still love Harry Potter despite all the magic is marvelous.

Key points:

  • Yes, evil is real. So is Satan. We should avoid evil and Satan. The books have no references to Satan or the devil at all, and they come down pretty heavily against evil and in favor of good.
  • Everyone who has magical powers in Harry Potter was born that way. No one can get those powers if they don’t already have them. Nobody makes a deal with the devil, worships him, or calls upon him in order to do magic.
  • Catholicism condemns magic specifically for its ability to convince people to follow false gods or invoke powers from an unidentified source. Harry & Co. don’t seem to have any gods or religion at all.
  • J.K. Rowling is a Christian (Presbyterian, specifically) and has said she intended every Christian reference and theme in the books. They’re impossible to miss.

I think her defense is spot-on. Christians love supernatural powers—the ones that come from God (e.g. answers to prayer, miraculous healings, raising the dead, and salvation). Not everything supernatural is bad. Kendra did a great job partly because she’s a great writer but also because “all magic is evil, thus Harry Potter is evil” is a specific topic to discuss. She paid attention on Thesis Statement Day in English class; I can tell.

— 5 —

I got to hold three babies on Sunday. It was glorious! Here is a photo of me with Joseph. I am looking at the camera enough for both of us.

babyphotobombwithJoseph

So much cuddling. I also have enough joy for both of us.

I got baby photobombed by the other two tiny humans. Kat is on the right, and the very top of Lily’s head is on the left.

— 6 —

I think I might have seen an improv show when I was in college. I was definitely into seeing a cappella groups. Regardless of whether it was my first improv show ever, I went to see my friend Katie’s current show on Saturday at the Hideout Theatre. It’s called Wanderlust, so every show is about travel. She was one of the featured performers in the story of old college buddies road-tripping from the Midwest to Disney World. I was impressed with their ability to build the story as they went and to portray so many emotions.

If you’re in town, I recommend it. Katie won’t be featured anymore, but the show runs through February.

— 7 —

I also went to confession on Saturday. I only had to wait about 30 minutes instead of the usual hour. Small victories!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on 7 in 7, Empty Confessionals, and GTD

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

Wow! This makes six posts in six days, and it was actually one per day. That might be a new record. This reminds me of when I used to aim for streaks of consecutive days going to Mass back in college. (I think I managed 13 once when Fr. Kyle celebrated a one-off Mass on a Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Catholic Student Center chapel.) Booking Through Thursday gave me a boost toward 7 in 7 yesterday, but so did making a public, shared commitment.

7in7_llwib

I have been loving Christina’s posts this week. Her writing style is so different from mine that I can’t quite describe it. It’s lyrical. It’s full of emotion. It’s peaceful. Just read her post about the qualities she loves most in her fiancé, and you’ll see what I mean.

— 2 —

Would any of you, dear readers with blog, like do a 7 in 7 challenge with me? I already have a nibble on the line from my delightful hostess, Anna. I haven’t mentioned her much because she hasn’t been blogging much, but she just did a whole overhaul with a great redesign, and I think a good challenge will encourage her to keep going. Look how well it’s worked for me these past few months!

— 3 —

I think this is one of my favorite priest tweets ever.

— 4 —

Now I have even more motivation to finally finish my YNAB love story. In addition to getting Buffered last week, my friend Gabby used my referral/discount link to purchase her own copy! YNAB evangelization is the best (after the regular Jesus-focused kind).

If you’re on the fence, I encourage you to at least download the trial version from YouNeedABudget.com. It’s full-featured and free for 34 days. Have you ever heard of a free trial that long? I hadn’t, either, and that’s one of the reasons I decided to try it. I purchased it on Day 32, after saving in YNAB to buy YNAB.

A little birdie told me that if you need a longer trial, you can just ask YNAB Support to extend yours. And if you decide to buy it, you can use my link above to save $6 (full disclosure: also getting $6 for me in the process).

— 5 —

I started writing a blog post about my experience with Getting Things Done and Wunderlist. I thought it would be a relatively short one, but it turned into a monster. It’s strange not to talk about it here, though, especially as hard as I’ve been pushing YNAB, but it just takes time to explain fully. Stay posted; that is coming in at least two parts (maybe three).

— 6 —

In the meantime, here’s a TEDx talk of David Allen, creator of GTD, explaining the philosophy. I’ve been GTD-ing for about six months, and I still learned a lot by watching it.

— 7 —

It was a quiet week, so that’s all I have for this round. I will just say that if you haven’t been reading Super Swell Times, you should be. Elizabeth has been blogging almost daily for a whole year now, and her sense of humor will absolutely brighten your day.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on the Texas Rally for Life, Being Singled Out, and True Gender Equality

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

This was a quiet week but nonetheless a good one. Our kitchen light fixture started to die unexpectedly a week and a half ago, so we’ve been cooking with ambient light from the dining room, eat-in area, and oven hood. There is nothing quite like dicing onions in the dark, let me tell you. Living on the wild side!

Our landlord sent an electrician to install a whole new fixture on Wednesday. It’s very pretty, but I’m still getting used to the brightness. I had to replace the bulb in my bedroom last week, too, so I am literally walking in a whole new light.

— 2 —

I went with some married friends to the Texas Rally for Life on Saturday. It was good, in the sense that I wish it was unnecessary but I’m committed until that happens. Pro-life marches and rallies are the only political activism I ever do. It took a solid year for me to work up the courage to at least try it, and that was back in DC, where the March for Life requires taking public transportation, is held on January 22 (frequently a weekday), and promises cold and wet weather. Yet I march.

I thought this year’s speakers were much better than last year’s. I missed having Governor Abbott there, but I had no idea his daughter was adopted or that his wife has credentials for days. Abby Johnson always does a great job speaking, not in the least due to her incredible witness. It is literally incredible: her stories are terrible, but they are both true and factual. Bishop Joe gave the invocation, as he did last year. He once again managed to offer a prayer that nailed the tricky middle ground between being overtly Catholic, firmly Christian, or vaguely God-directed. I’ve tried that myself; it’s hard. I also really enjoyed the closing prayer offered by a Baptist minister. I found myself really getting into it, which is unusual. Charismatic prayer is not usually my thing, but I’ve had bigger surprises.

I decided not to make or carry a sign. I am my sign. Even if you don’t speak to me at all, you can see that I’m young and black (or at least brown). That’s the only sign I need. I march for black women who are pro-life but fear speaking up about it. I march for young women who feel like they would betray second-wave feminism if they didn’t at least tacitly support “choice.” I march for people who can’t, who won’t, or who don’t yet. And I intend to keep marching until I can’t or don’t have to.

— 3 —

One thing in particular did concern me about the Rally for Life, though. It wasn’t just that it’s effectively just the Christian Rally for Babies & Moms. That’s an issue for another day. It was the counter-protesters.

In the years I went to the March for Life in DC, it became almost a game to try to spot the counter-protesters and confirm that theirs would be the only photos to show up in the news. Every year, there were maybe 100 pro-choice protesters. I only knew that because they were inevitably photographed by the Washington Post at an angle that made their group look much larger. I never actually saw them in person, though. I was buried in the throng of literal thousands of pro-life people filling up South Capitol Street.

Here, last weekend, I gave my usual response to our pro-choice counter-protesters: I ignored them. It’s not hard to ignore a few dozen people. What really left me confused was the small counter-protest rally my friends and I passed on the north side of the Capitol building as we headed home. Don’t get me wrong: they have absolutely as much right to hold a permitted protest rally as pro-life marchers do. The problem is that I didn’t know they would be there. Granted, gathering 100 people and a sound system to match doesn’t take much. We used to do that for Ash Wednesday on campus every year at my old job. But I did some research when I got home, and I still have no idea who was in charge. Did the Texas Alliance for Life know about it? Is this going to become an annual thing until we’re battling for audio space?

If they were trying to leave me unsettled, that worked, honestly. But I’ll be back next year.

— 4 —

Last Friday, I went to dinner with some friends. It was the birthday of my former roommate’s husband. (He’s my friend, too.) I’ve missed small group dinners since our young adult group disbanded, and I don’t get to see the birthday boy and wife much, so I gratefully accepted the invitation.

The weird part came when I realized who else would be attending. My former roommate, her husband, and six of the other attendees comprise couples married in the last 19 months. My (male) friend Sam and I were literally the only unmarried people among the ten of us. Somehow, we manage to split up men and women when we gather in Catholic groups (which is not conducive to getting the single people married), so I wound up having dinner with four recently-married women.

Naturally, the conversation turned to my love life. I’m not opposed to my friends keeping me on their lists, but I still felt awkward being singled out like that. (Pardon the pun.) It was as though the group suddenly took on the mission to Get Lindsay Married. I don’t usually get that kind of pressure, not even from well-intentioned friends. It was not pleasant. Of course I want to get married, but talking about it openly and often is a recent development. Am I alone in this?

— 5 —

All these restive feelings have been balanced out by Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies. Seriously, they’re fantastic, and you should listen. I get sad thinking about how I’m eventually going to catch up and then have to wait a week between homilies, like a caveman. Until then, I am tweeting quotations as I go.

Check out that favorite!

— 6 —

I can’t stop thinking about a particular Verily magazine article, on the real meaning of feminism and equality, since I read it. The author expresses an opinion I have long since held, but she does so eloquently and personally. Here’s the excerpt that made me realize I’d found a kindred spirit:

There is something about the way that we discuss gender equality that unsettles me. Take me, for example:

I majored in economics in college because I like it and I’m good at it. I took an economics class in high school and found that my mind clicked into the subject in a way that it did not click into others. Majoring in it seemed to me like the next logical step. When I announced my decision, however, my peers and mentors encouraged and applauded me with an urgency that confused me.
“Only 15 percent of economists are female,” they exclaimed.

“We need more female economists,” they would say, “We need more women pursuing quantitative subjects.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the encouragement. I was happy that my success in economics was regarded as a necessity by my professors, advisers, counselors, and friends. But it was their collective reasoning that disturbed me. My interest and ability did not necessitate my success, according to them—my gender did. They seemed to think that because roughly half of the world’s people are women, so too roughly half of the world’s economists ought to be women. The ratio of women to men in the field is lopsided and thus, unacceptable.

It only gets better from there. Her reasoning is on point, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. Check it out at Verily, and subscribe to their daily emails while you’re there. It’s one of the best items in my inbox.

— 7 —

One last tweet. I haven’t yet shared the rest of my love story with my budget, but it’s coming. Trust me. I did have a huge financial accomplishment this week, though:

In a nutshell, this means that I am now one month ahead on all my monthly expenses, including savings. I feel excited, a bit dumbfounded, and joyful. More soon. In the meantime, visit YouNeedABudget.com (referral/discount link) and start your journey to freedom.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Not Getting Hit By a Car, My Credit Report, Or Ignorance

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

My neighbor almost ran me over yesterday.

We have central mail delivery units in my neighborhood: those big banks of mailboxes instead of the kind that go on your curb or on the house. Mine is pretty close to my house, so I usually park in my driveway and walk down there to get the mail. There’s a small street to cross, and there isn’t much traffic, but I live on the main vein into the neighborhood, so I always keep my eyes peeled for cars that aren’t expecting pedestrians. As my mother always says, if you step off the curb in front of a car doing 80 because “you have the right of way,” it’s your own fault that you get hit.

This wasn’t my fault, though.

It was dark when I got home yesterday, but the rain had slowed to a sprinkle, so I took my chances and went for the mail. My next-door neighbor (who I’ve met in the daytime and like just fine) was going for his mail, too, walking about ten seconds ahead of me. My across-the-street neighbor had pulled over next to the mailboxes, on the wrong side of the street, to get his mail, so he was climbing back into his pickup truck just as I set out. I kept an eye on the truck. I always stay vigilant. Maybe the other car didn’t signal, or you had the right of way, but if you get hit, your car’s going in the shop, too.

And if you get mowed down on foot, you’ll be in the hospital.

The truck-driving neighbor got back into his truck, and I saw his reverse lights come on. I thought, “Is he seriously going to back his truck all the way to his house?” The truck started moving, so, yes. I kept my eyes on him. He was going way too fast: too fast for a neighborhood street, too fast for after dark, and too fast in reverse. I had already started to cross the street at the corner when he started backing up, and my fast mental physics made me realize that, since he probably wasn’t looking, he was probably going to hit me.

diagramofmynearmiss

I drew a picture for you visual-spatial types. Click for full size.

I picked up my pace and half-speed-walked, half-skipped onto the curb. The truck driver, still in reverse, whipped around the corner backwards and stopped on a dime. I could hear the music from his truck, so it’s possible that his window was open, but I decided not to turn around. I heard him pull toward his house, this time forwards and (coincidentally?) on the right side of the street. I just kept walking.

After I got my mail, I went back to my house.

— 2 —

Stories like that make me so angry, even when they don’t happen to me. It only takes a moment or an inch for a near-miss to become a news story. What if I hadn’t looked half a block down the street I wasn’t crossing? What if I expected him to follow traffic laws? What if I had been walking a tiny bit slower (which is possible, because I walk pretty fast)? What if I hadn’t picked up my pace enough? What if I had been a child?

It’s a sad state when I have to guard myself that much against the foolish actions of other people. And now I really don’t like that neighbor.

— 3 —

Today is the last day to vote (hopefully for me) in the Sheenazing Awards! Click the photo of Venerable Fulton Sheen below for Bonnie’s blog post, which includes a link to the ballot and a list of other fantastic bloggers. I apologize now for the bloat in your preferred RSS reader and/or email inbox.

SheenazingNominee2015

— 4 —

If you’re into personal finance at all, now is a great time to pull a free copy of your credit report. The federal government requires all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to provide you with one free copy of your credit report each year. Each agency takes requests separately, though, so you can adopt my strategy and get one now, one in May, and one in October, or you can get all three right now.

The site to use is AnnualCreditReport.com. There are other sites with similar names that are not operated by the federal government or not free. This one is legit. You will have to provide your SSN and answer a few tough questions about your credit history. That makes sure it’s you. They’re so detailed that I actually had to look up the answer to one of the questions.

Also note that a credit report and a credit score are two different things. Your report shows all your credit cards (open and closed), all your loans (open and closed), mortgages, hard inquiries, etc. If anything is missing or incorrect, you have the right to contact the credit reporting agency to fix it. Your score, on the other hand, is a magical, mysterious number that I am almost convinced is produced out of thin air by dragons. (Can you tell I’m enjoying having fantasy back in my life?) If you have any tips on keeping track of that for free, I’m all ears.

— 5 —

When I went to request my credit report, I was so glad to see that AnnualCreditReport.com was finally redesigned. I planned last fall to start requesting my credit report quarterly. I wasn’t planning on getting any new credit, so I figured I could wait. I did go visit the site, though, and it was so sad. The design was stuck in 2005. It did not look authentic at all, but it was.

It is long past time to acknowledge that good website design is essential for 21st century business, and as with most things, if you want the good stuff, you will have to pay accordingly. Just do it.

— 6 —

I finally took down my Christmas tree and mini-Nativity scene on the 13th. Part of my delay was a desire to keep the Christmas spirit alive through the whole liturgical season. Part was laziness. Part was having a fake tree. (Would we have the Annual Christmas Tree Fight if fake trees didn’t exist?)

I’m torn over my cards, though. I don’t use the top of that bookshelf for much. It makes me feel so happy and loved to still have them up, although it is annoying to walk by too fast and have several topple over in the backdraft.

Maybe I need a prayer ritual like the Whitaker Family’s. It seems such a shame to go back to my boring, bare bookshelf (well, it has knickknacks), but Christmas is definitely over. Lent is less than one month away. Can I use them for Lent somehow? Any ideas?

— 7 —

usccb-9daysforlife

Today is my favorite day of 9 Days for Life so far. The intercession is “for an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.” I have half a mind to make a sign for the March for Life tomorrow that says, “Criminals have human dignity and the right to life, too. Please don’t kill them, Governor Abbot!” I have never been a fan of rally signs, though. You always get tired of them before it’s over. I’ll think about it.

I also enjoyed today’s act of reparation. I chose to use “Read about a Church teaching you don’t understand in the Catechism” as my motivation to read The Battle of Prayer, which Fr. Mike Schmitz recommended in his homily seven years ago but I heard in the podcast archives last week. It was enlightening. In such a short space, it covers spiritual drought, distraction, acedia (laziness), and our inclination to ask for a response to our petitions but not to our praise or thanksgiving. It’s good stuff.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Twitter, Water, and Churchy Things

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Twitter is the best way to have actual (Internet) contact with actual (Catholic) celebrities? I would have joined sooner.

Look, Fr. Mike Schmitz responded to my dejected tweet about his podcast not working!

Then, when I got my latest review copy from Ave Maria Press, I tweeted about it and got this enthusiastic response from Dawn Eden!

Dawn reached out to me through my blog after I reviewed the original edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. It turns out that she went to school with my old friend Fr. Leo (who I knew before he was a priest). She was my initial connection to Ave Maria Press, and I’ve had a great relationship with the publisher and the author since.

The world is so small.

— 2 —

My mom has a habit of giving us odd gifts at Christmastime. This year, in addition to a flower-print hammer/screwdriver combo, she gave me this unique Zipster Zebra water bottle.

This is not a giant can of soda. Or Four Loko. It's my new water bottle. #truestory #thanksmom

A photo posted by Lindsay Wilcox (@whatlindsayloves) on

I forgot to add something for scale. Sorry! It’s about the size of an Arizona Iced Tea… or a Four Loko. It’s sparked some interesting conversations around the office, believe me. The best result, though, is that this bottle alone has helped me drink more water. It’s the opacity. Since I can’t see how much is left, and the double walls add more weight than I’m used to, I often find myself sadly facing an empty bottle. Then I get more water and I’m happy again. Who knew changing my tool was the key to healthy hydration?

— 3 —

I mentioned in the February part of my year in review that my diocese is developing a pastoral plan. After the SurveyMonkey and the listening sessions, they presented to the steering committee. (I’m no fool; I know they have listened but will make all the decisions. I feel the same way about this that I feel about the pastoral survey before last fall’s synod: I’m glad they asked at all!)

I’ve been trying to recap the survey results since they came out in May. The report should be released in about six weeks, so this seems like as good a time as any.

It’s a happy PDF, I must say. The respondents were 20% under age 30, almost 75% have at least one college degree, 87% go to Mass every week, and just over 50% say their faith is the most important thing in their life, all of which is fantastic (and, full disclosure: include me). Priests identify preparing people to witness (i.e. actively evangelize) as something to emphasize. Most of the news is really good news. Good job, Austin!

— 4 —

I was surprised and delighted to see that the pastoral plan survey identified preparing to witness as a potential area of emphasis for parishes. I absolutely agree.

I was in a FOCUS Bible study when I was in undergrad. They didn’t have the apologetics study yet, but we did talk about preparing a witness, a.k.a. giving your testimony. It’s not a common habit among Catholics—although we do love conversion stories—but ask evangelicals for their testimony and brace yourself for the passion!

A testimony/witness is the story of how you became a Christian (or a Catholic in particular), when you met Jesus, or how you came back. The mechanics of preparing a testimony is too much for one Quick Take, but I will say that when I started preparing mine, it not only enriched my faith, it built my confidence. I can explain how I came to faith in less than 30 seconds (the elevator pitch) or less than 5 minutes (the “tell me your story”). I’m still polishing my 30-minute pitch.

Do you have a testimony? If you have an elevator pitch, please share it in the comments!

— 5 —

<a href=”href=”http://9daysforlife.com”>usccb-9daysforlife

Tomorrow (Saturday) begins the Nine Days for Life novena sponsored by the USCCB. Sign up by email, join the Facebook event, or download the app to receive a prayer, reflection, and act of reparation for the days surrounding the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s well-written, actually doable for regular people, and not just anti-abortion (despite what the image says).

That last part is one of my pet peeves about the pro-life movement. We’ve made great strides toward showing love for and tangibly helping women and couples instead of just their babies. Now we need to also remember prisoners in danger of execution; people who are elderly, ill, or have a disability who face coercion to euthanasia; and all people who don’t feel genuinely loved simply because they exist. You shouldn’t have to earn the respect of others to stay alive.

It’s not the March Against Abortion; it’s the March for Life.

— 6 —

I didn’t do much this week, at least not in terms of calendar events. Spirit & Truth started up again on Monday. It was so good to see everyone, to hear them share their blessings, and to be with Jesus.

I went out for social hour afterwards, so I stayed out past my bedtime. That’s a literal bedtime; I have a phone/calendar alarm for it, and it went off when I took out my phone to record paying my check in the YNAB app. Staying up and out so late meant I was drained the next day, so I skipped the bigger happy hour I’d planned to attend.

I waver right on the line between introversion and extroversion. Sometimes my introvert side pops out. My Monday-to-Tuesday shuffle showed that it was out in full force this week. To recover, I stayed in and started watching my way through Merlin on Hulu.

— 7 —

I use my work IT guy to help manage my personal computing life. He emails us to alert us to Microsoft’s Update Tuesday. I use that as the reminder to do my computer maintenance and cleaning at home. I cleared off my computer desktop on impulse tonight, and I feel so free! I only have two icons: the Recycle Bin and the drop converter for PrimoPDF. Ahh.

(I highly recommend PrimoPDF, by the way. It’s free and works like Adobe Acrobat to convert documents to PDF. I use it all the time to “print” from the Internet.)

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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