If there was a better name for a historical review of the year, I’ve yet to hear it! I may have to trademark it.
This post is kinda about my New Year Resolutions, except I do them a little differently.
For me, grand goals for the year don’t work very well. It’s too much pressure. Plus there’s a disconnect between the big goals and my everyday behaviour.
Instead, it’s easier for me to focus on “Just for Today” (credit: Narcotics Anonymous). Rather than setting grand goals for the year, I want to pay attention to the little things I do each day. Over time, small changes can produce powerful results, like compound interest in a savings account.
My main goal for 2020 is to continue to improve myself, one step at a time, embracing a gentle model of two steps forward, one step back.
A key component will be to continue increasing my awareness – I want to notice when I’m acting out of alignment with my best self.
I’m really grateful to Sandra Walsh. It was thanks to her coaching that I realised how important self-awareness would be for my future.
Jordan Peterson explains this process beautifully:
I’m not a fan of Dr Peterson’s phrasing here though… “Stop saying things that make you weak“
That phrase may work for him personally – he’s quite a tough mofo even if he sounds like Kermit the frog – but it doesn’t feel right for me.
For me, it’s better to say something like, “Speak and act in alignment with my core values: Truth, Courage, Love and Humility.“
What about you? What’s the best way for you to phrase this idea when speaking to yourself?
My goals for 2020
There are a few things I’d like to do more of in 2020, and a few I’d like to do less of.
I’d like to do more of:
Being self-aware – monitoring my own thoughts and behaviour (as in the above video)
Being more present (mindful) in everyday life
Meditate most days
Exercise most days of the week
Set aside more time each day for reading books
Having a little more structure in my day so I get the most important stuff done first
I’d like to do less of:
Overeating, especially late at night
Getting caught in dopamine feedback loops (e.g. YouTube wormholes)
Staying up so late at night that it makes the next day much more difficult
I’d love to hear your own thoughts about 2020. What would you like to achieve for yourself? What are your thoughts on New Years Resolutions?
Are you feeling a little grumpy as we near Christmas? Or is it just me?
To be fair, it could just be me.
It’s been 6 weeks since I stopped taking my anti-depressants cold turkey (I’m sure there’s a joke about Christmas leftovers here somewhere). And I’m definitely more irritable.
Though I’d much rather be irritable than depressed.
Actually, I’ve had consistently good moods: literally 6 solid weeks of 4/5 or 5/5 days (as measured by the excellent Pixels app by Teo Vogel).
I can’t remember the last time I had 6 weeks of solid good moods. Over the last few years, it’s been rare for me to go more than 2 or 3 weeks without a few days of depression in which I struggle to get out of bed or have enough motivation to do anything at all.
I’m definitely feeling more irritable than usual, but not so much that it has a significant impact on my happiness levels or general satisfaction with life. Phew!
Many Reasons to be Grumpy
At this time of year in particular, there are plenty of reasons to be feeling grumpy.
There’s the stress of preparing for the big day – buying and wrapping presents, tidying the house (if you’re having guests over), trying to make sure you’ve got all those extra little jobs sorted out in time.
And then there’s incompetent delivery companies… yes, I’m looking at YOU, Hermes UK. You’ve managed to lose a parcel which contained a little boy’s Christmas present, despite the fact it was sent two weeks ago.
Yes, it was insured, but that’s not the point, is it. This present can’t easily be replaced. And by now it’s certainly too late.
You had ONE job, Hermes. ONE.
So yeah, there are a 1001 things to do and even more reasons I could use to justify why I’m a bit irritable and grumpy.
But that’s not how I want to feel.
And so I remind myself of a few things which help to return me to a place of calm.
I remember that there are people sleeping on the streets this Christmas, so I should consider myself lucky that I can even afford to send presents.
I remember that although it’s difficult to totally avoid all of life’s little irritations, I can choose how I respond to them.
I can choose to stew on those annoyances, obsessively ruminating on all the reasons I’m justified in feeling angry.
Trust me, I’m an expert at making mountains out of molehills. That’s a big part of why I ended up with clinical depression.
If I continue down that path, pretty soon I’ll have backed myself into a corner, filled with rage. I’ll be a dark, angry, depressed mess, just in time for Santa.
You should have seen me one year ago. I was depressed as fuck. I refused to actually run during the Christmas Day Park Run. Instead, I walked it, stubborn as Mary’s mule.
I hastily deleted the photos taken by the official race photographer. I’m surprised my miserable face hadn’t cracked his lens!
I can choose just to Let It Go (credit: Frozen). I can choose not to let those irritations get to me.
I can acknowledge the feeling of irritation in my mind. I can notice the tension in my body. And I can just… breathe it all out.
Ahhh, peace. Now that’s how I want to feel this Christmas.
And If All Else Fails…
… just get drunk and start a violent altercation with the nearest bystander.
There are a few different directions in which I’m thinking of moving forward with this blog and other creative projects.
CODENAME: Project Diary
I still want a place where I can talk about stuff from my own life in a pretty unfiltered way. Selfishly, it’s a kind of therapy for me, plus my experiences can sometimes be helpful for other people.
I’d want to cover mental health, depression, personal development, and the ongoing exploration of a meaningful life.
I also want somewhere where I can be fully open and honest about my recovery from addiction. Not everyone I’m close to know the full extent of my recent drug problems. And for that reason, this Diary Project would need to remain at least semi-anonymous.
CODENAME: Show Me Da Money
I’m also really keen to explore various ways in which to make money online. I’ve been trying my hand at matched betting recently and have been successful.
I also want to review various products and services, providing my honest reviews. I’ll include affiliate links so I can earn some commission.
Really, I’d like this money-making project to be totally separate from Project Diary. I want to be able to share my product reviews on Facebook without fear that my father-in-law will find out about my drug misadventures and hunt me down with a shotgun.
Another core design goal for me: I want to be different from all the existing 10-billion websites trying to sell people stuff.
Sure, I will stick closely to my guiding principles of Truth, Honesty and Humility. I will never sell trash to people just to make a fast buck.
But being an honest salesperson isn’t particularly a unique angle. I need some other way to differentiate myself. Some clever branding trick which helps me stand out. I’ll keep mulling this over.
CODENAME: Don’t Kill Yourself
I’d also like to do something around suicide prevention. An old friend of mine killed herself around a month ago. And I’ve already lost far too many people to suicide in my lifetime. I want to do something more to help, but I really don’t know what.
I feel impotent on this matter.
It’s such an important topic, and yet, if I’m honest, there are plenty of other things in my life which feel more important right now. I feel awful for being so selfish, but it’s the truth.
I have one good friend who I feel is very vulnerable at the moment. His moods have been swinging wildly in recently months. He’s come close to suicide several times. I’m helping him by using my Samaritans listening training to try to be there for him. Really, giving him my time, attention and empathy – it doesn’t feel to me like I’m doing very much, though I’m sure my friend is grateful for my help and understanding.
Maybe that’s enough? Just being there for people in my life? I don’t know.
I’ll keep mulling over this one.
CODENAME: No-one Likes My Music
I’m perhaps a little unusual in that I’m in my 40s and I’m still just as passionate about new music as I was in my 20s. There’s tonnes of dance music and electronica which are a vitally important part of my life.
Music literally keeps me sane and keeps me alive. I listen to Spotify for several hours every single day.
Ironically, virtually no-one else seems to like the same music as me, which makes me feel a bit sad.
I want to do something creative in which I celebrate the music that’s important to me… But without annoying my friends with different music tastes.
When I share music on Facebook, I’m lucky if I get a single “Like”. It’s demoralising… and I don’t want to annoy my friends with stuff they don’t care about.
I’ll keep thinking about these different creative endeavours and how I might best progress them.
There’s lots about the Buddhist tradition which makes sense to me. It’s helped make my life more peaceful and enjoyable.
But there’s still lots which I’m unsure about or don’t fully understand.
For example, they say that there’s no such thing as “you”… as in, there’s nothing definite that we can call “you” that’s separate from the rest of the world.
When most Westerners first hear that idea, it sounds pretty weird.
Most of us have a very definite idea of who we are. To us, it seems that we’re totally independent from outside influences. We like to think of ourselves as clear-minded, rational thinkers.
And yet, we’re really not. We get influenced by outside factors all the time, without noticing it.
You don’t need to be an expert like Derren Brown to get away with manipulating people… all you need to do is simply exist!
Below the level of our conscious awareness, all of us are constantly accepting outside influence from the world, and we’re influencing others too, whether we want to or not.
So, it seems the Buddhists were right. You know the bulletproof glass which we imagine separates our sense of self from the outside world… it’s actually more like a flimsy fishing net… with massive holes and tears in it.
A Gigantic Industry
Don’t believe me? Still think you’re independent from the world?
Do you know how much the advertising industry is worth?
“In 2016, global advertising sales reached $493 billion.”
I guess those advertisers are doing something right, to be worth so much.
Think you’re immune to advertising? Well, companies and political parties wouldn’t spend so much money on advertising if it didn’t work.
Consider how most advertising functions… it’s not trying to convince you to buy things using reasoned arguments… it (often) works at the level of your emotions and unconscious desires… so you don’t even notice it!
Look, I get it: it can feel a bit scary to think that we’re so easily influenced by outside forces. But, as far as I can tell, it’s true.
I’ve heard this quote attributed to several famous people. It feels true to me.
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So choose wisely.”
You’re not the same as you were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even just 1.
In lots of subtle ways (and some not so subtle), over the years you’ve unconsciously adopted some of the beliefs, attitudes and even mannerisms of the people around you.
I definitely think I’ve become more like my wife since we started dating nearly 20 years ago. Fortunately for me, that’s a very good thing: she’s kind, honest, caring… and probably the most well-organised person I know.
Recently I’ve developed a (slightly nerdy) love for ticking things off To Do lists… I’d say that’s at least partly due to my wife’s influence – and it makes me a better and more productive person.
The Power of Media
One of the most frightening ways in which we unconsciously accept influence is from the media we consume: TV, radio, websites, newspapers etc.
Again, we all like to think that we’re independent thinkers. We believe that we carefully consider facts and form reasoned opinions.
But in reality we’re incredibly susceptible to influence from sources which we consider authoritative – for example our favourite daily newspaper.
It sounds unbelievable, but we’re also highly susceptible to accepting opinions if we hear them over and over again, even if they’re untrue.
That’s why successful politicians repeat the same catchy slogans over and over. They know that eventually, some of those key phrases will lodge inside our brains and start influencing us.
I know, I know, I sound like I’m part of the tinfoil hat brigade, right?
After all, I’m a self-confessed drug addict who has made plenty of mistakes in his life. So what the fuck do I know?
Well, I happen to enjoy running experiments on myself, especially if I think they might lead to improvements in my happiness and general satisfaction with life.
And for a few years now I’ve been consciously limiting my exposure to advertising and mainstream media.
I very rarely watch TV or listen to commercial radio
I don’t read any daily newspaper – they all have their own sets of biases.
I avoid the news as much as possible, mainly because I found it contributed to my depression.
I have an Ad Blocker installed on my web browser.
I avoid social media “influencers” like the plague.
Well, it’s hard to say! How can I be truly independent and objective about myself?!
But here’s what I believe to be true about the changes I’ve seen in myself since I tried to limit my exposure to mainstream media and advertising.
I get less angry
Mainstream media seems to be in perpetual outrage these days – it grabs people’s attention. By avoiding all those shouty, indignant people, I found myself becoming calmer.
I’m more open to learning from people with opposing points of view
Ideological echo chambers are dangerous precisely because it’s really difficult to know when you’re in one!
Instead of making assumptions and convincing myself I’m right, I try to ask other people questions. It takes a little more effort, but it’s definitely worthwhile to practice curiosity.
I’m kinder and more caring
It’s easier for me to empathise with others, even if they have annoyed me!
I’m less tribal
Who do you identify with? What kind of people do you feel are like you?
Maybe it’s people from your town. Maybe it’s those with the same skin colour as you.
Maybe it’s people who vote the same way you do.
Sadly, when we identify strongly with any particular group, it makes us less amenable to the people who are outside that group.
So, nowadays I keep reminding myself:
“We have far more in common with each other than our differences. We need unity, not further division”
Bollinger, R. (2019)
That’s not just a phrase I parrot to myself, I genuinely try to live that way.
Of course, I’m only human. I’m very far from perfect (as my wife can attest!)
I make mistakes all the time.
I aim for virtues such as Courage, Love, Truth and Humility, but the reality is that I fall short constantly.
I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. And I’m sorry if this post gives that impression.
I’m just trying to do what I feel is right.
And I guess that’s one of the core goals of Buddhism… and most other religions and spiritual principles.
So – your broken fishing net – pay attention to how you use it. Please.
It never fails to amaze me – the power of self-limiting beliefs.
When I was at school, my art teacher harshly criticised my (admittedly poor) painting skills in front of the whole class. From that point, I was convinced I was useless at art and I didn’t even attempt it.
But at some point in my mid-twenties, I started accepting that I actually have quite a creative streak in me. It’s just that I’d been telling myself I wasn’t creative for years.
Another (false) thing I believed from a very early age was that I was useless at any practical tasks – anything that required my hands. I gave up trying with woodworking or anything close to it, far preferring to stick to more academic and cerebral subjects like I.T.
As an adult, I’ve gradually overturned those (false) self-limiting beliefs about my practical abilities. It’s taken a long time, but my confidence at tackling DIY jobs has steadily increased.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much an amateur. And my skill level isn’t very high. But I feel proud of myself for having the courage to tackle jobs which are way out of my comfort zone.
My DIY Accomplishments
In the last decade, I’ve:
tiled our kitchen;
painted the walls and ceiling in almost every room of the house;
oiled our wooden worktops to a beautiful shine;
used a circular saw to cut wood;
repaired our hole-ridden driveway with fresh concrete;
varnished our wooden staircase;
replaced the silicone sealant in our shower;
become comfortable using builder’s caulk, wood filler and polyfilla;
used a big noisy (rented) belt sander on the original floorboards in our lounge.
repaired a tricky leaky tap in the kitchen which had rusted solid inside and refused to budge
In the last few weeks, I’ve taught myself how to repair the plaster ceiling in our master bedroom after I accidentally poked my finger through it when our roof was leaking. The repair job isn’t perfect, but the ceiling does look better than ever before (it’s a very old house).
I’ve always been a bit scared of power tools. But recently I bought myself a “random orbital sander” and have been busy sanding every uneven surface in the house.
The Final Fear…
But there was one power tool which I still had an irrational fear of… the drill.
There have been plenty of odd jobs around our house which have been piling up over the years because I was too scared to use a drill. We even got a handyman in once just to mount a key rack in our kitchen, which required a grand total of two drill holes and about 5 minutes work.
Last week, I finally popped my drilling cherry.
I hesitantly drilled into the walls, hoping I didn’t encounter any electrical wires. Then I confidently tapped rawl plugs into the newly-drilled holes and wall-mounted surround sound speakers in our lounge.
They look and sound great, if I do say so myself.
In the last decade I’d say I’ve gone from being completely useless at DIY to actually being a moderately competent amateur.
It makes me feel proud of myself. And my wife is pretty pleased with the home improvements too.
What about you? What fears have you overcome in your own life?
P.S. Big thanks to my Dad – he’s been super supportive and helped me with many DIY tasks. He even bought me my first ever toolbag a few years ago, which is now full to the brim with various DIY tools. Love you, Dad!
There’s some truly excellent personal development advice in 12 Steps programs. I feel this advice applies to everyone, not just those in recovery from addiction.
The Very Best…
Here’s a great example of the very best advice in Narcotics Anonymous. As you read this quote, I’d encourage you to see the ways in which it applies to your own life:
“There are days when some of us wallow in self-pity. It’s easy to do. We may have expectations about how our lives should be, expectations that aren’t always met. Maybe we’ve tried unsuccessfully to control someone, or we think our circumstances should be different. Perhaps we’ve compared ourselves with others and found ourselves lacking. The more we try to make our life conform to our expectations, the more uncomfortable we feel. Self-pity can arise from living in our expectations instead of in the world as it actually is.
When the world doesn’t measure up to our expectations, it’s often our expectations that need adjusting, not the world. We can start by comparing our lives today with the way they used to be, developing gratitude for our current circumstances. We can extend this exercise in gratitude by counting the good things in our lives, becoming thankful that the world does not conform to our expectations but exceeds them. And if we further cultivate gratitude and acceptance, what we can expect in the future is more growth, more happiness, and more peace of mind.
We’ve been given much in our lives; improving ourselves has paid off. Acceptance of our lives, just for today, frees us from our self-pity.
Just for today: I will accept my life, gratefully, just as it is.”
Extract from a “Just For Today” email from Narcotics Anonymous. I’ve made some minor edits so this applies to non-addicts too.
Isn’t that quote simply amazing! Such good advice!
… And The Less Good
Unfortunately, there are some NA ideas I disagree strongly with. Here’s an example…
“Our recovery must come first. Job or no job, relationship or no relationship, we have to attend meetings, work the steps, call our sponsor, and be of service to God and others. These simple actions are what make it possible for us to have vacations, families, and bosses to worry about. Recovery is the foundation of our lives, making everything else possible.
Just for today: I will keep my priorities in order. Number One on the list is my recovery.“
Extract from a “Just For Today” email from Narcotics Anonymous.
The above may be true for most addicts, but I don’t believe it’s true for me.
This is one of the things I dislike the most about NA – it tries to lump together all addicts without making sufficient room for diversity.
Attending meetings, working the 12 steps, calling my sponsor, being of service to others… I can see the value in each of these activities.
However, I see them as merely useful, not essential.
There are other factors which help people stay clean. The NA way isn’t the only way for people to lead meaningful, productive lives. And yet, it claims that it is, which I find a little unsettling.
I’ve been having a great couple of weeks, but last night I could tell that the good times were coming to an end. I could feel the beginnings of sadness creeping in, stealing my energy. I reminded myself that my mood and energy levels tend to come in cycles – good for a while, but eventually I’ll crash, likes waves on a shore.
(Note: This is one of those posts where I’m just gonna start typing and we’ll see what happens., i.e. it’s rambling and unstructured, but I hope it makes sense. I’m feeling lots of emotion and my rational brain feels half asleep still.)
But maybe it’s all just a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe I’m doing voodoo on myself. Maybe when I think, “My happiness is coming to an end, I’m overdue a depressive slump,” – I’m actually telling my unconscious mind to make it happen, and so it does.
(Note 2: This tune perfectly captures my mood this morning. It’s Help Myself by HWLS.)
What happens when you change the story you narrate to yourself about your life? Well, I know from my own experiences and from those of many other people: your life can transform in the most remarkable of ways.
So, what would happen if I stopped telling myself to expect depression to hit soon because it’s overdue? And what alternative narrative would I put in its place?
I’m frustrated by my 12 Steps sponsor. He keeps badgering me to do the “suggested things”… attending meetings, daily phone calls with him, daily step-work, prayer and meditation, a daily mini-inventory…
I’ve been busy for the last couple of weeks doing DIY, cleaning and chores. For the most part, I’ve been loving it. It gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. Some of the tasks are things I’ve been meaning/wanting to do for a very long time, but somehow I just kept procrastinating.
It’s fair to say DIY has been my latest obsession. And addicts like me tend to be quite “all or nothing” people, meaning we find it hard to balance multiple responsibilities.
My sponsor insists it’s important that I phone him frequently and that I try to do at least a little step-work every day. But talking seems pointless when life has been going so well. And as for step-work, I prefer to do that in longer bursts where I force myself to sit down and concentrate on it for an extended period. Doing just 5 or 10 mins per day almost seems disrespectful.
Anyway, yesterday my frustration with my sponsor reached the point where I’d decided I’d had enough. Don’t worry, I’m not quitting the fellowship (again)… those fuckers are stuck with me for a while longer yet. But I am taking a break of a week or two from my sponsor.
I know he just wants the best for me, but it frustrates the hell out of me that he’s trying to apply a cookie cutter template to me: “Do, A, B and C or you risk relapsing on drugs and might even die.”
I really just want to say, “Fuck off, I know what I’m doing.”
I refuse to abdicate my intellectual prowess and succumb to dogma. I’m not a 12 Steps clone, I’m an individual. My personal history and current circumstances are pretty different from a junkie who used to shoot up heroin every day. My using was occasional and I could be abstinent for months at a time.
There are plenty of other differences between my life and the “generic addict” life as portrayed in 12 Steps literature. I do my best just to gloss over these differences. I try to “look for the similarities, not the differences”.
But I do still struggle with the 12 Steps “lump all addicts together” approach. Why does the 12 Steps insist on treating me exactly the same as every other addict? Why is there no scope for individuality, for customisation of one’s program of recovery?
Yes, I fucked my life up with drugs. But that doesn’t mean I need to submit myself wholeheartedly to a generic program and turn off my brain and ability to reason for myself.
Why can’t I take the bits and pieces of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) that I like, apply them to my life, and ignore the rest? That seems like the best approach.
I understand that for NA as an organisation to survive and thrive, it needs a certain amount of unity. If different people with different ideas are allowed to do their own thing, they risk splintering off into their own denomination. NA would risk becoming like Christian churches… 101 Dalmations (or 1 million and 1 denominations).
So… in NA, individuals are discouraged from doing their own reasoning and tailoring the generic program to suit their personality and their circumstances… and this is done for the sake of the survival of NA as a whole.
I suppose I can see the logic in that. But I’m (selfishly) putting my personal recovery as a higher priority than the survival of an organisation. Sure, I owe a debt of gratitude to 12 Steps, but my own recovery comes first.
Here’s what I know about successful organisations/companies… they adapt and evolve. They don’t stay the same. They constantly re-evaluate market conditions and develop their products and services accordingly.
Organisations which try too hard to stay the same, those ones tend to die. They become rigid fossils.
My fear is that NA is like that… too stuck in the past, too inflexible.
AND YET… I still feel I get enough benefit from NA that I can overlook all of its flaws and continue my membership. It’s just that there’s a lot I must turn a blind eye to.
Historically, I’ve always been a maverick. I’ve always wanted to do things my own way. I’ve attempted to influence and shape the organisations I’ve been a part of to fit with my own ethos, ethics and ideas of what’s right. Apparently this trait is quite common amongst addicts.
So: here’s my plan… I’m going to do NA my own way. But I’m not going to attempt to influence the shape or direction of the organisation. Not yet, anyway. There’s huge institutional inertia and scope for conflict if I try to change things.
I don’t want extra conflict in my life right now. I want to stay clean from drugs (in my own way), and rebuild my life into something meaningful.
That does mean I need a sponsor who can be flexible with me. I have a horrible suspicion my current sponsor doesn’t have the capability to be as flexible as I need him to be. I guess I need to have a chat with him face-to-face about this.
I had a horrible dream this morning…
[Warning:contains gory imagery which some people may find disturbing]
In my dream, I’d blacked out after a party involving copious quantities of drugs and alcohol. It was now morning and I was trying to piece my life back together,
I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t operate my phone properly. I desperately needed to talk with my wife, but I couldn’t work out how to get my phone to call her.
I’d relapsed… and not in a small way. I felt gutted that I’d ruined all my hard work in staying sober.
I’d been in charge of our 4 dogs while my wife was away. But I’d neglected them because I was too obsessed with getting wasted and partying. I’d let them out the house to roam the neighbourhood – anything could happen to them.
I found Seth, our second-oldest dog. He’s sweet, gentle, highly intelligent and avoids any kind of confrontation. I offered him a piece of ham, but he wouldn’t come towards me… I knew something was wrong.
Then I noticed that his eyes were rolling back. Something was very wrong. I got closer to his face and I noticed a large wound on his cheek – he’d been bitten by another dog. He looked like he was really suffering. I needed to get him to the vet immediately.
SHIT! How had I allowed this to happen? I desperately tried to get hold of my wife on my phone. I needed her to phone the vets and let them know we were on our way. But again, I couldn’t work out how to operate my phone properly – my mind was clouded by drugs and alcohol. Last night had been wild.
I spent a while wandering the streets, trying to work out how to get home. I was somewhere in London, lost. I accidentally got on the wrong train and became even more lost.
I managed to get hold of my wife on the phone. Apparently I’d been involved in some kind of public disorder last night and was being prosecuted and fined by the police. I couldn’t even remember where I’d been or what I’d done.
I saw Akira The Don (famous music producer / YouTuber) in my dream. He told me to get in touch with him, “about the thing”. I think he was talking about some music track we were working on together.
That’s about it. A horrible, stressful, depressing dream in which my life was falling apart.
Maybe the memory of that dream will help to keep me sober.
Maybe I should contact Akira the Don and see if he wants to collaborate with me in some way. I have zero music production skills, but… I don’t know his views on drink and drugs, but maybe it’s worth asking.
OK, rambling post over. What title shall I use? I know…