Deal or Bad Deal

“I have an idea for a music game board. Can you help me make it?” The request came from an award-winning songwriter, and we were aspiring video game creators.  “We’ll split the profit 50/50.” We agreed.  We would turn his idea into a working game.  In turn he would sell the game to schools and libraries- he had a network of educators and songwriters worth a million.

6 years later, unfortunate events sent us into separate ways, leaving us to create our own networks, sell our own games, and make our own way.  But we were ok, because we were confident that we had found a good deal with The Game Crafter.

Now, 4 years beyond our parting, we finally admit to ourselves: a game with a $40 retail value being sold for $70 dollars is not a good deal.  $30 overpriced: some may overlook $10, or maybe even $15 over if the game is impressive enough. But $30 is too much to ask anyone for.  A game with a price tag above $50 needs to have bells and whistles to be worth all the money: ornate and involved, original pieces and amazing little details that The Game Crafter doesn’t offer.

We thought about selling the game at Amazon. We could make use of their warehouses, buy in bulk, and save the high retail price by selling the game directly to keep the prices low.  But for all the work that we put into the game, selling the game at $40 just to get $3.67 doesn’t feel like a very good deal.  Once split between us, that’s just about $1.80 per game that’s sold.  That won’t support Autumn Angel Art as individuals, much less Bookworm Games as a business.  And that doesn’t even count the cost -no matter how low- of using Amazon’s facilities to store our products in their warehouses and take advantage of their “Amazon fulfilled” marketplace sales.

We thought about using Kickstarter, but ultimately we’re story writers and game creators.  We produce entertainment for people to enjoy.  Kickstarter needs more than just a product, it needs exposure and extra attention to draw potential customers to it and it needs incentive that will hook the viewers and make them want to spend their money.  We need financing for advertising and we need other products for the incentives.

We also thought about downsizing to another project to produce on The Game Crafter, to sell it and make some money so that we can invest in another manufacturer.  But after a lot of work, the truth dawned: our downscaled product would face the same challenges as the larger product. (It also discouraged us to find that our ‘downsized’ product would cost more than our original project would have; we had worked VERY hard on making the first game as cheap as we could possibly get it.)

The truth is, if we want to make an impressive game that’s worth it’s cost, we cannot produce it with The Game Crafter.  There is no “shortcut” to selling a good card game.  It seems we’ll have to take the long road: do our research, choose the best game manufacturer, and save the money we need to publish any game that we make.

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Digital Can’t Replace Natural, You Just Have to See

Bernie Sanders, the well-known American politician, said yesterday on his Facebook post, “Let me be clear. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity…” Whether you believe him and the well-respected science that says our world is changing and it is the fault of technology and humanity, truth is, a climate still exists outside today, in most areas of the world, which we can enjoy. And can we, in good conscience, go too long a period without enjoying the nature God has made?

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.” Romans 1:20 (AMP)

I’ve felt stressed lately and decided to do, what I call, a social media fast. No internet. No Facebook. Not for entertainment, not for research, zilch! Constantly I search online about historical events, culture, written articles, science, religion and more, and I love to keep up with the latest even in media, actors, and politics, but on the social media fast I don’t even allow myself to do that. “I am blessed to have a home library, I have a cabinet full of old movies and games, I have a backyard, I have a life outside the digital,” I told myself. I even have “faith in the unseen” to pray and ponder on.

I have to remind myself – I remind you, too – Your hopes, your dreams, those you love are not bound to the digital. God exists in the natural. Love exists in the natural. You just have to experience nature to know.

A few weeks ago, I think someone’s prayer for me was answered when I was in my backyard garden. I have been sad a lot – an undertone of sadness glooms my life, if I let it – but when I went outside and enjoyed the fresh cool air, the sunlight, and the greenery, my spirits were lifted. It was not an accidental lifting of the spirits. It was purposeful.

First, I went outside to read my daily Bible reading. It was possibly the most tragic story in the entire Old Testament (Judges 19). I cried and grew angry at the injustice of a woman’s death, and read about how the whole nation of Israel went to war over her murderers’ heinous crime, as they tried to right the wrong. It reminded me of what is happening today in our world, with such a corrupt view on what is “natural” and “acceptable” and “free”. That made me very sad, but then my dog Trig dug a hole to serve as his recliner behind me, which got my mind on my surroundings. The sun was warm but the air cool, which in my opinion, is the most relaxing weather.

That’s when I started noticing the trees rustling, and the lush green garden.

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Patches of clover fill the grass, and who knew, bees pollinate even them?

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Common buckeyes like to light on the vibrant, orange lantana bush and feed there. Kat had a camera, so she captured everything we saw.

But two truly magical moments stood out to me as an “answered prayer” or else God strictly loving me.

The first “hug” was when a baby caterpillar was on my shoulder. I was standing underneath an ash tree that’s about three or four times my height, with its branches looming all around me, hanging around my shoulders, when suddenly a little green worm dropped onto my shoulder unexpectedly. Mom was using her shovel and pulling a plant out of the ground when I told her what happened. “Hey, there’s a caterpillar on me,” I said to her, and at the same time she showed me the baby bug on her own shirt. “It’s a baby lightning bug.” It made me feel good to see the new life all around.

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(Actually, I later found out it’s an ash sawfly larvae, before its head turns black. Looks like a caterpillar, doesn’t it? It is related to the birch sawfly larvae found in England.)

The second “hug” was more magical, more providential and less coincidental. Now I have a beautiful garden, but like I said, I hardly ever walk in it because I’m too digitally bound to my gadgets and computer, which is a habit I’m going to break after having found that enjoying nature is an anti-depressant, but that is beside the point. The reason why I know the Holy Spirit was with me during this incident is because a still peace inside showed me a cloud in the sky at just the right moment; I gazed heavenward and saw the only cloud in the sky move in front of the sun, shading it with an outline of pearl-white lining, and it sat still for at least 30 seconds, creating a grey atmosphere. Notice this moment, you’re being blessed. The peace lingered until I decided to go over to where Kat was taking pictures. We talked for a few moments as she captured more garden pictures. I almost forgot the feeling until the blessing came…

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“What’s that flittering around the lantana?” Mom asked after we came back over to the door, about to go back in. We debated whether it was a hummingbird, because it flitted and darted the way the little bird does, in a fast-wing-motion. Mom realized, “I think it’s a hummingbird moth!” I have never seen one of those before! After doing the research (so much for not online researching; I had to go online to find out the species) I found that it is a white-lined sphinx moth, found in Central Texas, known as a desert moth, which only comes out in cool moist air, usually dusk, although it was 3:00 PM. It doesn’t like direct heat because the wings overheat easily. It needs to drink a lot of fluid to stay hydrated. Wow… Amazing! I am convinced the only reason we witnessed the beautiful moth was because of the cloud that rested in front of the sun for 30 seconds, which created the perfect climate for the moth to make its rounds. Maybe some could say, especially the older generation, “You need to get out more…” because it could be a common occurrence, but really it was not. Mom was as amazed as I am, and she enjoys the garden much more than I do. It was God and love.

So if you find yourself doubting God, or feel sad from life’s letdowns, take a little time in the natural world. The unnatural shall not cloud the natural; digital desires cannot remove spiritual needs. We will continue to yearn for more in life no matter how distracted multi-tasking has us. And we will continue to need nature in order to create a better argument against the demons that so often plague our mind.

In conclusion, climate change does not have to scare us, neither does the injustices of the world have to cause us despair, because God is not only loving but He is just and will guide everything, even the drifting clouds and the rebirth of spring.

 

Pray With Me

This Easter our worship was a singing service. We sang songs and read a prayer written by Mr. Charles Spurgeon. It was an uplifting service, as singing services usually are.  (I always loved singings as a child, and still do.)  Here’s a summary of the prayer -in my own words of course- that we read, along with a verse or two of a few of the songs we sang.


“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10

Oh Lord God, we are humans and sometimes we forget that Your kingdom is more important than our cares and worries.  As much as we need Your help in overcoming our weaknesses, You want our undivided loyalty.  We stand on holy ground in Your presence. Help us to remember in reverence Your love for us, as You adopted us as Your people. Remind us to adore you; remind us to hold on fast to our faith in You.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!  All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth and sky and sea; Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

-“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty”  (verse 3) by Reginald Heber

Let us pray for the world, and let every person be touched with Your love (through the Holy Spirit). Jesus died a painful and terrible death (and then rose again!) so that we humans could be saved and adopted.  Father, open the hearts of the people in this world, so that they may see Your glory and may know Your love for them. Reach out to them so that they can feel Your care in their lives and give them hope.

He who gave His love to me, that I might from sin be free bids me share it today, “As I love you,” He has said “You must serve men in my stead, as you go on your way.”

While His love burns true and bright, we are walking in the light. He has shown us the road; we His glory must reflect lest our dimness and neglect keep some soul from its God.

-“The Love of God” (verses 3 & 4) by Laurene Highfield

Be with the church, Lord. Help us live up to our position: Christ’s bride.  Help us do what is expected of us. That is to bring Your message of love and salvation to the people around us, and to reveal the truths of the world. We need Your strength to stand against the forces of darkness as we work diligently; we need Your wisdom to know how to be at peace with the people here, but also the knowledge on how to shine Your goodness in the world to bring more people to salvation in Jesus’ name, under Your grace.  Give us courage to do the right thing.

We have heard the Macedonian call today, send the light!  And a golden off’ring at the cross we lay: send the light!

Let us pray that grace may ev’rywhere abound: send the light! And a Christ-like spirit ev’rywhere be found: send the light!

Send the light! The blessed gospel light; let it shine from shore to shore. Send the light! The blessed gospel light; let it shine forever more.

-“Send the Light” (verses 2 & 3, chorus) by Charles H. Gabriel

You, oh God, forgive us when we do any wrong. You overlook our ignorance and You fix our mistakes.  You turn ALL things into good things. You make miracles out of catastrophes. And what do You ask for in return? You ask for us to be kind to everyone, and to show Your love to not only our brothers and sister, but our neighbors too. We are called to introduce You to the world.  When people look at us, they need to see You.  Help Your people, God.  Help them live the way they should.

Somebody did a golden deed, proving himself a friend in need; Somebody sang a cheerful song, bright’ning the sky the whole day long: Was that somebody you? Was that somebody you?

Somebody filled the days with light, constantly chased away the night; Somebody’s work bore joy and peace, surely his life shall never cease: Was that somebody you? Was that somebody you?

-“Somebody Did a Golden Deed” (verses 1 & 3) by John R. Clements

And Lord, last of all, please help us. If we’re sick, or sad, or struggling.  Be with Your people who are battling temptations, because Satan wants to snatch our souls from Your grace.  Be also with Your people who are in danger, help them survive the persecution that they are facing.  Encourage Your people who are in need of encouragement, and strengthen those who are weak.  “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13)

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide; Secure whatever ill betide, a shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night; No fears alarm, no foes affright, a shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat; We’ll never leave our safe retreat, a shelter in the time of storm.

O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm.

-“Shelter in the Time of Storm”  (verses 1, 2, & 3, chorus) by Vernon J. Charlesworth

Lord, come quickly to deliver us from the evils of this world.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Holy Holy Holy: An Easter Story

Growing up, Easter would mean a week of sewing. As a kid, my mother would sew
Lacy and me each a new dress. I remember, Mom was sewing a pretty dress for me one year: it had a EasterDressespattern of green clovers and lady bugs.  Lacy had blue checkers with lady bugs, too. I was so proud of the material for my dress, and so eagerly I watched Mom sew it.  She told me, “Jesus washes away our sins.  The Bible tells us it’s like getting new clothes, clean and white and spotless.” Mom was my Bible Class teacher, so she always found daily applications to use as examples. She was a great Bible teacher.

From that day on, I decided that I wanted to learn how to sew, so that I could make new Easter dresses every year.  Mom taught me how, and sewing quickly became my new favorite hobby aside from writing.  I would always look forward to Easter, when I’d make new outfits for myself, for Lacy, and for Mom.  It was like Jesus, providing us with new spotless robes of holiness.

Today, Easter means more than new clothes.  Unfortunately, I haven’t sewn in years. And I don’t get new clothes very often.  But Jesus washes my sins away daily.  With Him as my Savior, my robes are spotless and white as snow.

I don’t have much to boast in this Easter, but as a Christian I’m not required to boast in anything but the blood-stained cross and the empty grave.  And that’s enough for me.  Thank you God! And thank you, Jesus.

Holy Holy Holy (hymn by Reginald Heber) 

Holy Holy Holy, all the saints adore Thee

Casting down their golden crowns around the crystal sea.

Cherubim and Seraphim falling down before Thee

Who wast, and art, and evermore shall be.

Tho’ the darkness hide Thee,

Tho’ the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,

Only Thou art holy

There is none beside Thee, perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee

Holy Holy Holy, Merciful and mighty!

God over all, and Blest eternally.

 

Live by the Spirit

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 (WEB)

This week’s Bible reading has been focused on the book of Judges, Ruth, and the start of 1 Samuel.  It’s amazing to see the Holy Spirit direct and empower God’s chosen people in the Old Testament.  There were especially 2 people who stood out to me as I read this week: Samson and boy Samuel. They were both raised from birth as Nazirites, and were supposed to be set aside for God’s purpose.

…A man or a woman might want to promise to belong to the Lord in a special way. This person will be called a Nazirite. Numbers 6:2 (ICB)

Nazirites had special rules that they had to follow.  As long as they followed the rules of the Nazirite promise, they would be filled with the Holy Spirit.  But if a rule was broken then they would become unclean and the Spirit of the Lord would leave them.

Like the Nazirites, Christians are also called to live in reverence to God’s laws. Every Christian has his or her own relationship with God, and not all Christians feel called to take a drastic Nazirite-like promise to dedicate their life to God. Even if they don’t take drastic measures to declare their faith, all Christians should at least create for themselves a standard to live by; one that allows a place in their hearts for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Once anointed by the Spirit, the Christian will be empowered with God’s truth. After truth is received, strive to walk in the life that you dedicated to God.  Don’t let yourself fall for temptation. If it’s too hard, then you may have to re-prioritize.  If just 1 glass of wine will lead to 2, then 3 and 4, maybe you should skip that first glass all together.

TRUST the Spirit to teach you what you need to know.

“but the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all the things which I have said to you.” John 14:26 (DARBY)

The Spirit is a witness.

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes forth from the Father, he shall bear witness concerning me;” John 15:26 (DARBY)

The Spirit convicts the world.

“When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment;” John 16:8 (WEB)

The Spirit speaks the words of God.

“However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.” John 16:13 (WEB)

The Spirit tells you what is true.

“I am in Christ, and I am telling you the truth. I do not lie. My feelings are ruled by the Holy Spirit, and they tell me that I am not lying.” Romans 9:1 (ICB)

Be FILLED with the Spirit.

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31 (DARBY)

The Spirit empowers you to succeed.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (WEB)

The Spirit guides you to God’s will.

“And the Spirit said to Philip, Approach and join this chariot.” Acts 8:29 (DARBY)

The Spirit calls you to do God’s work.

“As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.'” Acts 13:2 (WEB)

Be RECOGNIZED by the Spirit to receive God’s blessings as His children.

“And the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 (ICB)

The Spirit lives in you if you are Christian.

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.” Romans 8:9 (WEB)

The Spirit leads you into a relationship with God.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God.” Romans 8:14 (WEB)

If we are God’s children, then we will receive the blessings God has for us. We will receive these things from God together with Christ. But we must suffer as Christ suffered, and then we will have glory as Christ has glory. We have sufferings now. But the sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us. Everything that God made is waiting with excitement for the time when God will show the world who his children are. The whole world wants very much for that to happen. Romans 8:17-19 (ICB)

GROW in the Spirit and be COMFORTED.

“So the assemblies throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up. They were multiplied, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:31 (WEB)

The Spirit will help you and pray for you when you are weak.

“In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered.” Romans 8:26 (WEB)

The Spirit will speak to God on your behalf.

“God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way that God wants.” Romans 8:27 (ICB)

The Spirit provides hope in every circumstance.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (WEB)

RECEIVE GRACE and be FORGIVEN with the Spirit.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:2 (DARBY)

The Spirit restores life.

“If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:10-11 (WEB)

My brothers, I am sure that you are full of goodness. I know that you have all the knowledge you need and that you are able to teach each other. But I have written to you very openly about some things that I wanted you to remember. I did this because God gave me this special gift: to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the non-Jewish people. I served God by teaching his Good News, so that the non-Jewish people could be an offering that God would accept- an offering made holy by the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:14-16 (ICB)

Anointed with the Spirit

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 (WEB)

The morning began with a tornado warning. We awoke, immediately preparing for the worst: if a funnel cloud was spotted, we would rush to the safest place in our house- the master bathroom.  After preparing, we waited.

Wind whipped the tree branches, the inflatable man on the new pizzeria across the street blew over, rain and hail poured down and transformed the road into river rapids, but the storm passed without a real threat. We were safe, thank God.

The Holy Spirit is compared to a mighty storm in the book of Acts.  Jesus had told his apostles that they “will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5, ICB) They were all together, waiting for something to happen, when the Spirit suddenly came onto them like a storm.

Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting… They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under the sky. When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language.” Acts 2:2-6 (WEB)

If we look at the Old Testament, there are many stories of people who were anointed as God’s prophets or judges or kings and then received the Holy Spirit.

King Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the first king of Israel. “Samuel took a jar of olive oil. He poured the oil on Saul’s head.” Samuel 10:1 (ICB) Then Samuel told Saul that God wanted him to be the leader of His people.  He also told Saul that the Spirit of the Lord would come on Saul, giving him the power to prophesy and be changed into a new man. (1 Samuel 10:6) It really happened.

“When Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart. All these signs came true that day. When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, Saul met a group of prophets. The Spirit of God entered him. And he prophesied with the prophets.” Samuel 10:9-10 (ICB)

The story of King Saul has an important lesson for us. After many years of ruling and following God’s calling for him, the Lord told Saul to attack another nation and destroy everything that belongs to them. It would be considered an offering to the Lord. Saul did defeat the nation, but he kept the best sheep and cattle alive.

Saul’s disobedience caused God to reject him as king of Israel (1 Samuel 15: 11, 26-29), and then the Lord’s Spirit left Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). Saul was tormented when he lost the Spirit.  That’s because the Holy Spirit is mighty like a storm, but it is actually our security.

David, the son of Jesse, was the next anointed king of Israel.

“So Samuel took the container of olive oil. Then he poured oil on Jesse’s youngest son to appoint him in front of his brothers. From that day on, the Lord’s Spirit entered David with power.” 1 Samuel 16:13 (ICB)

David was anointed. He was chosen for God’s purpose. And David was a righteous choice; though he sinned, his heart was right with God, and the Lord’s Spirit never left him.

Isaiah prophesied of Jesus Christ receiving the Holy Spirit.  Isaiah 11:1-2 says “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall be fruitful; and the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.” (DARBY)

We are told that Jesus had “the power of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:14, ICB) after his baptism.

“He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21 (WEB)

Christians are anointed through baptism to become God’s people, and through our baptism, we can receive the Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel and might, knowledge, and the fear of God.  Once we have the Holy Spirit within us, we are called to be like Jesus: tell the good news of God’s kindness to all people, comfort those who are sad and with broken hearts, tell the captives of sin that they are set free, and warn everyone that God will punish all who refuse Him. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts. It is known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ that he sent through us. This letter is not written with ink,  but with the Spirit of the living God. It is not written on stone tablets. It is written on human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2,3 (ICB)