Listening to: Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers

On Friday night Kevin and I joined some friends for a concert at Bimbo’s in San Francisco.
We live less than a half mile from it, and for months
Kevin has been talking about how ridiculous it is
that we live within walking distance of a pretty decent music venue,
and yet we rarely actually go to concerts
(before me, Kevin used to see music almost every weekend).

So when Kevin saw that Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers were playing,
he was stoked.

I was very unfamiliar with Nicki Bluhm, as well as the rest of the band
(which includes her husband Tim Bluhm of Mother Hips fame).
Plus, Kevin and I don’t always agree on music…
I prefer singer songwriter “coffee house” type music,
whereas Kevin likes jam bands.

I do not like jam bands.

So, I didn’t exactly have the highest of expectations.

But I was wrong. She was fantastic.

I was completely blown away.

She IS a singer songwriter! Not jam band-like in the slightest!

See for yourself:


I also love love love this cover of “Danny’s Song.”
(her original music is really good, too.)

Kevin was in his element.
He ran into about 10 people he knew,
and kept telling me how we need to see more live music
because it makes his soul come alive.

Something that makes your soul come alive?
Well, you can’t really argue against that.

Have you ever heard of Nicki Bluhm?

MargaretMarch 12, 2013 - 6:41 am

Just listened to both of these songs- they are so good. We live pretty close to a music venue and I just never even think about it as a place to go, but I love live music so much- really need to do it more often!

Michelle LimMarch 12, 2013 - 7:47 am

Yes, I love her! I’ve seen this video so many times since Verner showed it to me awhile ago. I didn’t know they actually did concerts! That’s awesome.
And you guys are awesome for liking it too.
Man oh MAN are we going to have the best time in SF, or what?!

Julie / BoundMarch 12, 2013 - 11:23 am

Whyyyyy am I at work where I can’t listen to this? I’m with Kevin on the “makes your soul come alive” part. LOVE live music.
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LeeLeeMarch 12, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Wow, I haven’t heard of this artist, but after hearing the songs, she sounds great. I’m definitely going to check out more of her work.

StephanieMarch 13, 2013 - 9:14 am

I have never heard of her but that cover is awesome. I think it’s even more impressive that they’re playing while driving. So much better than any car singing I have ever been a part of. :)
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SerenaMarch 13, 2013 - 10:03 am

@Stephanie – She has a whole “van series” which is just amazing. It’s what she became famous for, I think. So good!

KellyMarch 15, 2013 - 12:49 pm

Oh my Gosh…my fiance is IN LOVE with this girl!! He would be so jealous. I’ve had to watch ALL her videos online. haha. :) Hopefully he won’t leave me for her ;)

Travel Lust: My Guide to Oahu, Hawaii

Okay friends, I know you’re all just dying to hear about my Hawaiian vacation! (and yes, that was sarcasm for those of you that might have thought I was serious.) But hey, I’m dying to share it, so let’s begin!

The reason behind this trip was for our friends Hemant and Cathie’s wedding. We were so excited and happy for them, but we were especially happy that their wedding was in Hawaii. It “forced” us to plan a vacation to a place we have both been wanting to go. Years ago (as in high school) I went to Kauai and Maui, but I had never been to Oahu. Kevin has never been to Hawaii at all. We were both extremely excited, but for some reason, probably because I’ve heard that Oahu isn’t as great as some of the other islands, I suppose you could say I had lowered expectations. Because of that, I was completely (and pleasantly) surprised by how much I absolutely loved it there. Kevin and I pretty much drove around the whole island, and each part was unique and gorgeous, and the natural beauty literally took your breath away. Basically 90% of  movies or TV shows that are filmed in Hawaii are filmed in Oahu, so obviously the place is stunning. The lush green mountain ranges to the awe-inspiring coastlines to the shrimp trucks on the side of the road… I loved it all.


Sleep Best Places to Stay in Oahu

Our friends that live in Hawaii suggested that we stay in Kailua as opposed to Waikiki and I am soooooo glad that we listened to them. Waikiki and Honolulu are great, but they are completely different from the rest of the island. Kailua is this small residential area where mostly locals live. It’s where Obama stays when he visits. It’s where Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly lived while filming LOST. It’s reputed to have the best beaches on the island. There are no hotels in the area, but there are plenty of house rentals, and they are cheap! Kevin and I stayed at this studio through Airbnb and we couldn’t get over how cheap it was. It was a mere two-minute walk to the beach, a 15 minute walk to town, and it had a deck with views of the mountains. The unit itself was a little outdated, but for the price, we were more than satisfied. (Also, the owner of the house is also the founder of the old band Spyro Gyra, a fact that means absolutely nothing to me, but made Kevin very excited).

From my (limited) experience, most of the hotels on the island are huge resorts. Waikiki is full of them. We didn’t stay there, but some of our friends stayed at the Trump International Hotel and loved it. The wedding itself was held on the west side of the island at Ko Olina Resort, and it was stunning. I’ve also heard amazing things about Turtle Bay Resort on the north side of the island. If big resorts are your thing, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of those. There are also some awesome boutique hotels in the area, like Hotel Renew and Aqua Lotus, which tend to be more my style.


Eat Where to Eat in Oahu

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love food. Kevin and I plan full vacations around where we will be eating, so I was very very very excited to spend my days eating fresh seafood and drinking fancy cocktails. But…  and I really hate to say this… I was not that impressed with the food. I’m sure there are some amazing places to eat, we just didn’t eat at any of them. We ate at all the places recommended to us, and trust me, I did A LOT of research prior to going (yelp is my bff), but nothing was that great. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that we live in San Francisco. We are used to a really high standard when it comes to eating out, and the food we ate in Oahu just paled in comparison.

However, it wasn’t all a total bust. The Grove in Kailua was very good, and the Shrimp Trucks in the north shore provided us with the best shrimp of our life. I’m serious. I’ve never had shrimp that good. Ever. It’s worth a trip to the North Shore for the shrimp trucks alone. We ate at Hono’s, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.

Drink Bars in Oahu

I only went to a handful of bars so I’m no expert, but the bar I saw Daniel Dae Kim (aka JIN!!!) at was the REAL a Gastropub in Honolulu, and hey, if it’s good enough for Jin, it’s good enough for me! Also, they had candied bacon which they served in little cups. I mean… bacon candy. They win. After the wedding, I had an absolute blast at Ohana Karaoke in Kailua, where I befriended another wedding guest that looked EXACTLY like Kristen Stewart (and who I am pretty sure now thinks I am a lesbian due to me telling her over and over and over again how pretty she was, and saying “it’s like I’m hanging out with Bella!” numerous times), and sang awkward spice girls karaoke with. “I tell ya what I want, what I really really want…” I’m sure what the bar wanted was for us to shut up, but oh well. Jessica, Oahu local, also told me to check out barefoot bar in Waikiki, but unfortunately my husband and I never made it over there. We also had some drinks at Buzz’s Lanakai, which was great but less beachy than we had expected. However, the best “bar” we went to was the Sandbar in Kaneohe bay, which leads me into…


Do Things to Do in Oahu

Hands down one of the most fun things we did was spend an afternoon at the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar. Basically, you get an a boat and drive about two miles into the ocean, where suddenly, a sandbar appears, and you hang out, in water, eating and drinking in the sun, in the middle of the ocean, all day long. It was suuuuuuuper windy when we went and because of that a little cold, but we still had a blast. This was organized for us through our friends, but if you google “kaneohe bay sandbar tour” you can find a lot of tours/activities that can get you there. Also, bring a sweatshirt. I did not bring a sweatshirt to Hawaii, so I ended up buying one at the salvation army on the way there for $6.99. It smelled like old people but it did its job, and I ended up wearing it more than I thought I would throughout the weekend.

Due to packing restraints (well, let’s be honest, and general laziness), Kevin and I didn’t pack any hiking shoes. So… we didn’t go on any hikes. However, lots of other people did, and we wish we did, so learn from our mistakes and bring some hiking shoes. There are so many beautiful hikes in the area… Lanikai Pillboxes HikeDiamond HeadMoanalua Falls… the list goes on and on. Since we couldn’t hike but still wanted to see some great views, we drove to the Nuuanu Pali Lookout and it was incredible. Totally worth a half hour of your day.

But let me tell you, it was WINDY. Very very windy.

Also, beware of flying bees.

I did not particularly care for that information.

As I mentioned above, the North Shore is worth going to for the shrimp trucks alone, but it’s also where the hugest waves are. We only saw some 15 foot waves, but based on when you go, the waves can get up to 40 feet high! Craziness! On our way there, we stopped at Byodo-In Temple which was stunning. It’s a replica of a 900 year old temple in Japan, and was built in 1968 in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. As mentioned in my other post, it’s also where a lot of scenes between Jin and Sun in LOST were shot. But that aside, it’s gorgeous and worth checking out.

Our last day was a little overcast and windy, so instead of lounging on the beach (and thus fighting sand in our face), we went to Kualoa Ranch. It’s a private property so you have to buy a pass or tour to enter it, but it’s worth it. It’s gorgeous. All those jungle valley scenes you see in LOST? They were shot there. So, needless to say, it excited me.

One thing we didn’t do was stop by Laniakea Beach in the North Shore and see the giant turtles. I learned about this after we had already gone to the North Shore, so it just didn’t happen for us. But if we go back, I’ll definitely want to stop by.


Lastly, I know a lot of people out there consider a luau a must-do when visiting Hawaii. Kevin and I are not a lot of people, so this wasn’t a priority to us, but I heard that the Luau at Paradise Cove in Ko Olina is one of the best.

Getting Around Oahu Car Rental

If you want to do any sort of exploring at all, you need to rent a car. Kevin and I were told by friends that we didn’t need to rent a car because we could walk to the beach and town, and take taxis when we needed to. That ended up not being the case. Unless you are staying in Waikiki with no plans of going anywhere else, you need a car. Because we didn’t plan ahead, we ended up renting a car once we got there for an exorbitant price, but it was so worth it. We would have felt so trapped without one. So plan ahead, and rent a car. Taxis are available but they are not the most reliant, and they are super expensive, and hard to come by at night. We waited for almost an hour for a taxi that never came, and ended up getting a ride back to our house with some strangers that, once in the car, we realized were absolutely hammered. Fortunately, we made it home safe and sound, but, that said, DO NOT LET DRUNK PEOPLE DRIVE YOU HOME. We were lucky. If you are going out and drinking, leave the car at home, suck it up and organize a taxi in advance. Eco cab in Honolulu is reliable, you just have to plan ahead.

And because this post wouldn’t be complete without at least one picture of the wedding, which is, after all, why we went to Hawaii in the first place, enjoy this eye candy of the beautiful bride and groom.

Congrats Hemant and Cathie! We were so honored to be part of this day.

Have you ever been to Oahu? Let me know if you have recommendations!

KevinMarch 8, 2013 - 8:20 am

Sypro Gyra yes, BUT also you forgot to mention he played drums on stage with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock! (the continuation of @spillerena’s musical education continues)…

StephanieMarch 8, 2013 - 9:44 am

I totally forgot about those awesome shrimp trucks!! I kinda want to go back just to eat at those trucks.
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Julie / BoundMarch 8, 2013 - 10:40 am

What a great recap! The sandbar in particular looks incredible, I’d definitely check that out if I ever land in Oahu. (Also: we had the same food experience in Hawaii. Everything’s just really heavy!)
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MoMarch 8, 2013 - 12:02 pm

Yay for destination weddings “making” you go to cool places! Unfortunately, the “destination” weddings I’ve been to are Kansas City, St. Louis and Dayton, OH. Booooo!

That sand bar trip looks awesome. I wanna go!

BrendaMarch 11, 2013 - 5:31 am

Next time try Boots & Kimos for breakfast/brunch and/or Cinnamon’s Restaurant! They’re both located in the Kaneohe/Kailua area. I hope you got to try some ono (delicious) Hawaiian food too. Also, if you’re a fan of sweet potato pie, Ani’s Bake Shop in Honolulu, makes a mean Okinawan Sweet Potato Haupia (coconut) pie on a macadamia nut crust. It is HANDS DOWN pure heaven in your mouth!

Kayla @ Sealed With a KayMarch 11, 2013 - 7:39 am

Great guide and photos! Looks like you guys had an awesome trip!
Kayla @ Sealed With a Kay recently posted…Hi remember me? I used to blog here :)

MeganMarch 28, 2013 - 8:21 am

I wish i could find a blog that posted such an awesome personal guide like this about the Big Island- which is where i’m headed in May. But i still thought i would reach out to see where you found your adorable and affordable studio rental? Maybe you know of some good sites to start my research? Thank you! Love your blog so much btw! :)

Happy Birthday To Me! | SpillerenaDecember 12, 2013 - 9:45 am

[…] Thanks to weddings and 30th birthday celebrations, I was able to travel an insane amount, from Hawaii to Austin to Las Vegas to Oregon and all over […]

I got LOST in Hawaii

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here on my blog, but I am a bonified LOST fanatic. Huge. The hugest. I love it so much that a few months ago, I re-watched all six seasons. And it was awesome. The fact that I’m only slightly embarrassed by the fact that I’ve spent close to 100 hours of my life re-watching something I’ve already seen is a clear testament of my undying love and dedication of this show.

After a lovely wedding welcome party on Friday night, a lot of the guests went to some random bar in Honolulu. It was fun, as bars are wont to be, but it had been a long day and I was getting tired.
I was ready to leave.

Suddenly, Kevin came up to me and exclaimed “JIN IS HERE!”

Those words were like drugs to me.
Any and all fatigue went away instantly.

It needs to be noted that I’m not exactly good at playing it cool.
I get starstruck incredibly easy…
D-list celebrities make me excited.

So to have my beloved Jin, an A-list celebrity in my book, within arms reach of me?!?
I just couldn’t believe it.
People kept telling me to just go up and ask for a picture,
but he was deep in conversation and I thought it would be rude.

So instead, I became super creepy and proceeded to walk by the table he was sitting at multiple times, pretending to go to the bathroom. Then I just stood in the corner for awhile, and pretended to look at my phone while really looking at him.

Eventually it was time to go, and as soon as I left the bar, I tweeted that I JUST SAW JIN!
and because I was a little drunk, I also tagged him in it.

What happened next was magical.

Daniel Dae Kim
(AKA JIN!!!)
replied to my tweet.

The simple “no problem. :)” sent me into a wave of euphoria. I squealed with such delight that you would have thought Channing Tatum had just taken his clothes off for me.
It made my whole day.

Let’s be honest…
it’s pretty much the highlight of my 2013 thus far.

Sad but true.

Anyway, being such a big LOST fan, I wanted to go to all the LOST spots… the survivors’ beach, the others camp, the dharma housing, Hurley’s golf course… I wanted to see it all!

But… this was Kevin’s vacation too, and while he loves LOST, he does not share my complete and utter obsession. Plus, I too wanted to enjoy my vacation and not spend hours driving around looking for random locations of a show that ended three years ago. So we decided to do what we wanted to do, go where we wanted to go, and if a LOST location happened to fall along the way, we would make a pit stop and check it out.

And without even meaning to, I had quite the LOST experience….

Here I am pretending to be Kate hiding from the smoke monster in the banyan trees.
Except I look much less scared.
(or maybe I’m pretending to be Claire because clearly that dress makes me look pregnant.)

Here is the Byodo-in temple, where Jin and Sun got engaged!

I do believe that is Hurley’s golf course!

And because I just couldn’t help myself..

OMG it’s totally like I’m one of them!!!

And there you have my LOST Hawaii experience.

More (real) details on Hawaii to come tomorrow.

Any of you as crazy as I am when it comes to LOST?

JessicaMarch 6, 2013 - 7:05 am

I love Lost too! One summer I watched all the seasons- the final year it was on TV! I should really go back and rewatch.
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MichelleMarch 6, 2013 - 7:54 am

Okay. Hold the phone. Did I just WRITE this post??!?!?!?
I swear to you. I am so effing obsessed with Lost. This show is what got me and Verner through all of our Marathon training. We would go run a bajillion iles and then lay in bed for hours, watching lost episodes.
I cried my eyes out when I saw the episode where Jin and Sun died together.
I just….I just love this post so much woman.
You are amazing and I’m so jealous that you got to see all of these places!!!

Can we please have another Lost marathon when we officially meet in SF? K thanks.


nancy @ adore to adornMarch 6, 2013 - 8:36 am

haha…OMG I love this.
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StephanieMarch 6, 2013 - 9:10 am

Shut the front door. I’m OBSESSED with Lost. It’s one of my all-time fave TV shows (though I’m still torn on how I feel about that finale…) and I rewatched the whole thing with the fiance a few months ago, then got his mom and sister to watch it too. At one point, you could go on a Lost tour of Hawaii which is/was a guided tour of all the main shooting spots on the island (kind of like the Sex and the City tour in NYC). Also, Jin is one of my fave characters so I’m totally jealous of your run-in. :)
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MoMarch 6, 2013 - 9:19 am

Being that I also obsessed with LOST, I take exception to you calling ddk a “d-list celebrity” – come on now!! And also, it’s early in 2013, so OF COURSE it’s ok that this was your highlight. You’re pretty much bff’s with a LOST star now. That’s how’d I tell it anyway…

SerenaMarch 6, 2013 - 9:37 am

@Mo – Ah, that’s not what I meant! DDM is an A-list celebrity! I just edited my post to avoid any confusion… I mean, since we are twitter besties and all, I’m sure he’ll be reading my blog. I don’t want to hurt feelings or anything! :)

jeanMarch 6, 2013 - 9:58 am

oh em gee love it! i would have totally gone on the LOST tour with you! i was obsessed with the show too. all the hidden clues, the meanings, the numbers. i would geek out on dharma initiative blogs.

i love that daniel dae kim tweeted back! he’s a good lookin’ asian man and you know i’m not into asian dudes. he seems like he’d be really nice, no?

JessMarch 6, 2013 - 12:13 pm

I have to admit I have never actually watched LOST (I hear it’s amazing, but I know how it ends which is preventing me from wanting to start watching it!) but as a general TV addict, I can appreciate how insanely cool this is!

Some Snapshots Blog

KerryMarch 6, 2013 - 9:55 pm!!! Can’t stop LOLing.

MargaretMarch 7, 2013 - 7:04 am

AH! This is awesome- I would have been exactly the same; staring creepily from afar. And with all this Lost talk, I really want to go back and watch it all again. Such an awesome show.

What to do in Oahu | SpillerenaMarch 8, 2013 - 8:11 am

[...] in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. As mentioned in my other post, it’s also where a lot of scenes between Jin and Sun in LOST were shot. But that aside, [...]

My Husband, the CLEAR Enthusiast

Remember a few months ago when I wrote about how excited Kevin was to use his clear membership?

Probably not, but the gist is that with his clear membership, he gets to whiz past airport security,
while everyone else, INCLUDING ME, stands in line waiting.

And waiting.
And waiting some more.

For the past few months, whenever we have traveled together,
he goes directly to the very front of the security line, bypassing literally everyone,
while I stand in line like a lowly commoner
(but you better believe I make him take all my luggage).

He LOVES his clear membership.
When we travel he talks about it  ALL. THE. TIME.

Well, apparently they love him, too….

Meet my husband, the CLEAR Spokesperson:

(If the video isn’t working, click here and scroll down to watch the first video)

While I was waiting in the security line on our way to Hawaii,
he sped past me and apparently had himself a little video shoot.

(I love how he specifically points out that his wife is stuck in line.)

Anyway, this was a very stupid little post,
but we both laughed hysterically when we saw it,
so I knew I had to share it here.

Happy Tuesday friends!

Do you have CLEAR in your city?

ritaMarch 5, 2013 - 2:59 pm

ha! we are eagerly awaiting clear in MSP b/c it seems like everywhere else we fly to has it! i’ll be a total nerd about it like kevin!
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JessicaMarch 5, 2013 - 6:18 pm

Well at least he mentioned you, right?! Ugh, love it!
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AmberMarch 5, 2013 - 7:59 pm

This is hilarious!! I love that he got a video while you were stuck waiting! too funny
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LaurenMarch 6, 2013 - 7:51 am

Omg! I am on the bus but I can’t wait to get to my office to watch this video!! Haha!

StephanieMarch 6, 2013 - 9:15 am

I love it! Your husband is a star.

MoMarch 6, 2013 - 9:20 am

So you’re saying this is in SFO??? I’m totally signing up right now! (or seeing what that entails at least)

Back to Reality

I’m on my way back to California after a glorious five days in Hawaii.
I’m not ready to leave. Not at all.
I’m hoping to accidentally miss my flight and get stuck here.
Just kidding.
(not really.)

We have had an amazing time, and Oahu has claimed a spot in my heart.
I’ve truly fallen in love with this little spot of the world.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I do.
It’s a wonderful island, full of history and culture
and natural beauty that leaves you breathless.

It’s been such a wonderful mini-adventure.
Exactly the soul restoration Kevin and I needed.
(and our friends’ wedding was incredible).

I plan on sharing more of my trip soon,
(because man oh man do I have some stories!)
but in the meantime, here’s a quick glimpse of my trip,
courtesy of my iPhone:

It’s a good life in these parts.

Hawaii living, you’re pretty awesome.

Have you ever been to Hawaii?

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nancy @ adore to adornMarch 4, 2013 - 7:46 am

absolutely envious of your trip! hehe. Welcome back but I totally understand your desire to not want to come back! Love the scenic shots…and the one of your hair being whipped around. =D
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AliceMarch 4, 2013 - 7:56 am

I am ridiculously jealous of this. I sitting on my hands so I don’t accidentally book myself a holiday in Hawaii!! x
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MoMarch 4, 2013 - 7:58 am

Hawaii is just amazing. I’ve only been to the big island and Maui, but I can’t wait to go back and check out the other islands!

Have a great trip home!

Julie / BoundMarch 4, 2013 - 10:34 am

We went on our honeymoon! To Maui, though. I absolutely loved it. I’ve never seen water/beaches/anything like that. So glad you had fun, and can’t wait to hear all about it!
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StephanieMarch 4, 2013 - 12:20 pm

I’ve only been to Hawaii twice but one of those times was for 3 months on Oahu (my cousin was living there at the time) so I feel like I know it pretty well. We went to the big island a couple years ago but I’m dying to go back and explore Maui and Kauai. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!!
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BrendaMarch 4, 2013 - 12:47 pm

Hi Serena!

I’m actually from Oahu and now live on the mainland as we locals call it. I miss home soooo much and am glad you loved your stay. Next time you visit the Aloha state, I recommend visiting the outer islands as well such as Maui or Kauai.

JessMarch 4, 2013 - 8:40 pm

I have never been, but omigosh do I ever want to now! Can`t wait to hear more about it :-)

Some Snapshots Blog

KellyMarch 6, 2013 - 12:42 pm

Beautiful!! I’m totally jealous :) That one shot of the hills (mountains?) looks right out of “Lost”.
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