Monday, 31 July 2017

Thought: Keep the funnel wide

Venture capitalists keep their funnel of acquisition wide because they want to gain insight into new industry trends, existing inefficiencies and those who might become the dominant players in the future.

How could we use this in the non-profit sector?

One idea is to keep the funnel for activism and advocacy as wide as possible to maximise the chances of finding supporters and volunteers who want to be involved more deeply later.

Mini-review: The Secret Life of Pets

Stunning looking film which asks an original question: what do our pets get up to while we are away at work? Unfortunately,  after a series of highly inventive vignettes - the main answer is yet another buddies who hate each go on a journey of self discovery storyline.

There simply isn't the character development or depth to make you care too much about the leads and there are some bizarre shifts in some of the others which would be unacceptable in a live action feature with humans rather than talking cartoon animals. Nor is the script as witty as it should be.

More interesting is the group of anti-human dispossessed pets although the psychotic bunny (a nice twist on a certain 80s thriller) is overused.

Overall, it's a fun view that looks gorgeous, but one that failed to tip me over into fully investing in the characters.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Mini-review: Death Race

Modern remake of fun Corman classic which has more than a few nods to Mad Max. It's adequate, but lacks the depth of world building and humour which would have made this truly worthwhile.

 I did like the video game like approach to powering up the cars weapons.  As is normal for these kinds of films, the action scenes are edited to near incoherence in an attempt to inject additional energy.

Sadly, the copy I bought came with two straight to video sequels featuring almost none of the original characters.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Mini-review: Total Recall

The lingering impressions you are left of Schwarzenegger after reading his lengthy biography are threefold. They are: he has an outrageous sense of fun coupled with an incredible work ethic and fiscal prudence. Together they make for an inspirational read.

Things that surprised me were his early focus on developing business savvy and ensuring his financial independence before embarking on a career in acting, his clear application of life lessons to the adjacent possible and his egoless willingness to absorb learning from others.

Some key learnings:
  1. Arnold used his funny name, weird accent and huge size as assets to help him stand out in Hollywood.
  2. The significance of his visual (huge biceps) over intellectual credibility when working with young disabled boys in an exercise programme. 
  3. Redefining his vision of what fitness looked like when prepping for an early movie role. He needed to drop tens of pounds because he looked too big on camera, and so he looked in the mirror and imagined himself as no longer fit for the new niche he wanted to operate in. 
  4. When someone says "No." You hear "Yes," hug them and say, "Thank you for believing in me."
  5. Bringing a beginner's mind to a decision. In Schwarzenegger's view its better to take a decision and "always wander in like a puppy" than get paralysed with too much information and not. 
  6. The importance of repetition. The book contains a photo of a short speech Arnold made to the UN. There are fifty-five marks grouped in blocks of five written in pencil at the top. That's how many times he practiced it. 
With one exception, he does tend to gloss over some of the more controversial aspects of his life, but if you were feeling charitable you might say that's because he seems to be someone who prefers to look forward rather than dwell on the past.  He is also one of those rare examples of a republican who is genuine socially liberal in their outlook.

Finally, just in case you hadn't picked them up along the way, the book finishes with a chapter on Arnold's rules which summarises the most important things he's learned in his life.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Mini-review: Little Orphant Annie

Early Colleen Moore feature which has been lovingly restored by film restoration specialist, Eric Grayson. The film is highly variable in picture quality, but that's hardly surprising given the various and often poor quality elements that it is originated from. It's paired with a new and sympathetic piano soundtrack.  The blu-ray looks about as good as it is ever likely to look given the film's age and origins.

Annie is made an orphan when little more than a babe, and she likes to terrify other children in the orphanage with stories about witches and goblins. Eventually, she comes of age and is sent away to live with her resentful uncle and aunt. They immediately put her to work and regularly berate her for failing to complete her heavy manual tasks quickly enough.

A hand from a nearby farm eventually steps in - and becomes her knight in shiny armour. Literally at one point!

It's a film with a lot of charm. I like early silent films because they often have a lot of creativity and it's possible to see they were still working out the conventions and grammar of the medium. For example, I liked the intertitles which included the name of the character and the actor playing them just before they appeared on screen.

The acting is naturalistic and, for the time, the special effects are astounding (even foreshadowing films like Wizard of Oz on occasion). As befits the era, there is also a dog that does tricks. Finally, the film is bookended by the original poet upon whose work the film is based on (again a novel idea during this period).

Thought: Not too bad...

My non-native English speaking wife regularly challenges me on my use of the phrase, "Not bad".  "So it's good then...?", she'll immediately come back with.  "Not exactly...", I'll explain and then fail to.

She sees it as another example of the bafflingly impreciseness of the English language and by extension, its people.

So I was surprised to discover the tendency to do this is an ancient rhetorical device that goes back at least as far as Cicero, and it also has a word to describe it. Litotes.

Further, it is not just me that uses it. Our politicians are regularly at it.  For example, Ed Miliband when describing the Conservative government as making things worse chose the phrase "Not by accident" rather than the considerably blunter "On purpose".  One phrase slips into your subconscious  thought like a furtive dagger under the ribcage while the other is more like a broadsword to the neck.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Mini-review: Life

Taut sci-fi horror based on the first encounter with life from Mars which borrows more than a little from Alien and The Quatermass Experiment.

But if you're making a movie about a nasty alien in a confined space, there are only so many ways it can go I guess.

On the plus side, the characters are sympathetic enough that I ended up rooting for them, some of the space station CGI looks outstanding, there's a few novel moments of horror and the monster is well realised. Reynolds' cynical tech stands out in particular with a Deadpool in space style performance.

 Finally, tip of the hat for making some effort to recognise the science behind putting a suit on for an EVA. 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Mini-review: A Cure for Wellness

Horror fantasy set in a Swiss spa clinic for the extremely wealthy. The underlying premise of a Shangri-La gone bad is an intriguing one, and it's delivered with style and atmosphere in a fantastic location.

Shame then, that the twists and ultimate conclusion are all rather obvious and derivative. I can't say I was a fan of the muted palette. But I did enjoy the Masque of the Red Death reference.

Overall, a weird little film. The ending is hardly subtle, but it doesn't spoon feed you with exposition which will either frustrate or please you.


Friday, 21 July 2017

Mini-review: Pay it Forward

Moving, but occasionally mawkish, drama featuring Osment, Spacey and Hunt based on the Pay it forward movement i.e. instead  of returning a favour, do someone else in need one instead.  I find placing such an obligation on the receiver problematic personally, as I feel gifts are not really gifts if they come with any strings attached.

All leads excel in their respective roles. The aching loneliness of Spacey's character comes off in him waves, while the slow transformation of Hunt's provides more obvious momentum. Unusually, given  Osment's youth this is not a coming of age movie - and his consistent portrayal anchors the movie's events.

Thought: Radical responsibility

Through a quirk of organisational fate, I have two pastoral managers. It's an interesting dynamic as they share their responsibility. One week I'll get the  more empathic one, the next the more challenging one.

Yesterday, it was my appraisal and I had a rare chance to see them both in action at the same time.  They were a good double act - and I could see how fluidly and seamlessly they work together.

Anyhow, the more challenging one reminded me of something I'd come across through Tim Ferriss' interview with Jocko Willink - a former Navy Seal.  It's called Radical responsibility, or alternatively - if I remember correctly - Extreme Ownership.

The idea goes like this.

Don't blame others for failure. We are all want to do this on occasion, or even by default. My heart sinks when I find myself instantly responding in a way which does this.

Instead, assume responsibility for everything, everywhere. The ultimate aim is to empower you to reflect and figure how you could have fixed things.

An example. Instead of blaming the thunderstorm that wasn't forecast for ruining your picnic, work out what you could have done differently. In this case, maybe erect a shelter or had an alternative activity ready to go after the first distance rumble.

My manager talked about his experience of coming across the concept after a tough situation.

"I read it, and...", they said.
"...instantly hurled the book across the room?", I offered hopefully while miming the throw.
"No. It was like Mea Culpa. It was right".

And it was. Mea Culpa indeed.  Radical responsibility, a radical way of reframing a situation to learn from it.  They did finish by pulling back slightly, and saying the truth might be somewhere in the middle between complete ownership and blaming others or the situation.

That wasn't the only useful insight from this year's appraisal, but it was certainly one of the more memorable and shareable ones.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Mini-review: Calling Major Tom

The Martian meets northern kitchen sink drama in this quirky tale of family, friendship, loss and ultimately hope. In many ways, it feels like a typically British response to an epic story of individual heroism like The Martian - smaller scale, more community centric,  lower budget and with added fart jokes.

Some of it feels quite cinematic. For example, the slow reveal of Major Tom's ultimate location early on which starts off feeling familiar with fantastical elements gradually materialising.

Even minor characters are well drawn, and nearly of them go on some kind of journey which adds to the satisfaction and sense of loss when I finally reached the end of the book.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Mini-review: Legends and Myths from Wales - North Wales

Another short read at only around 60 pages, Watkins has produced an accessible and well written guide to some of the area's iconic stories, most of which I was unfamiliar with.

There's something delightfully fairytale about the style of writing which means that some of these would make for good bedside reading to children.

Some tales, however, deal with darker themes like rape so you may need to preview each one to decide on its suitability.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Mini-review: How to live: A user's guide

Johns' succinct self-published guide was originally meant for his teenage daughter on her eighteenth birthday. It contains his accumulated wisdom on the topic of life and how to live it.  It's straightforwardly written and touches on most of the major topics you'd expect it to:
  • How to live a fulfilled life
  • How to deal with other people
  • How to manage yourself
  • What it means to be human
I've read a few books on how to lead a worthwhile life, and this is as good as many of them. I picked up the following new ideas:
  • Anyone can be a mentor. Even if you never speak to them as you can simply try to emulate what they do.
  • Changing probabilities into days, weeks and years. So one in a thousand becomes roughly once every three years. Good for assessing risk. 
  • Never believe in something 100% to avoid being cheated, becoming too dogmatic etc. 
I wonder how this was received by his daughter.

Personally, I think I would have greatly appreciated such a guide as I was starting out in life - even if I didn't necessarily decide to follow all of it. 

Mini-review: The Little Book of Hygge

This book is an investigation into the Danish concept of hygge which doesn't have a direct translation into English - and hence a book length explanation.

The Danes are a curious people as they get some of the gloomiest weather in Europe, and yet somehow manage to be one of the happiest. How is this? The author makes a strong case for hygge being directly related to their improved levels of happiness (although other factors such as a strong and well funded welfare state may help to provide a ceiling on unhappiness levels).

Hygge seems to be wrapped up in a sense of the cosy nostalgic relaxed feeling you get when either physically hugged and metaphysically hugged (whether by doing something together with a small group of friends, eating familiar comfort food which you've slowly prepared, and/or being physical spaces that help you tap into these feelings).

There is also balance to it. For Christmas to be hygge - it is OK for it to be a rush in the lead up to it (anti-hygge) and can actually enhance it through the contrast. I liked this as it taps into something a friend once said about buying a house. You don't do it very often so treat it like an adventure rather a mountain of obstacles and stress.

There are also some amusingly quirky tips in the book. To decorate in a hygge style - one must think like a Viking squirrel, bring the forest inside and furnish the room accordingly! Then add plenty of cushions, blankets and candle-like lighting.

Another key hygge insight is that it works well for introverted people. It's a non-draining way of socialising due to its focus on small groups (optimum is 3-4 people), low stimuli and general feeling of cosiness to ensure it remains relaxing.

Lastly, I appreciated the Happy Money style tip for getting the most out of future and past trips. Anticipate future ones by experiencing it from afar in your own home e.g. if you're going to Spain, watch Spanish movies, eat tapas, has flash cards on plates etc. You can also relive previous ones in the same way.

In summary, this was a joyful comforting read which certainly made me think about how I could create more opportunities for hygge in my own life.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Mini-review: The Circle

Spookily dystopian sci-fi based in an internet company with its tendrils into every part of our lives.

Unfortunately, a near A list cast fails to lift this made for Netflix production up beyond fairly pedestrian techno-thriller.  Part of the problem is that it is already dated and the questions being asked are just too simplistic and shallow as are the relationships portrayed within it.

Overall, I felt like I'd watched a feature length episode of Black Mirror with less satirical and creative bite. Shame as there is a good film or two in this topic.

Thought: To make something popular...

From a recent a16z podcast on Addiction v Popularity in the Age of Virality.

To make something popular, you have to take something familiar and make it feel new, or take something new and make it feel familiar.

This could explain the popularity of sequels, reboots etc. But a TV show could also be seen as a film with lots of sequels.

Lastly, Spotify found that their discover something new feature only worked if it included some familiar songs/artists. If they removed them, take up crashed.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Mini-review: War Machine

Mildly amusing satire on the leadership of the war in Afghanistan. Pitt plays the cigar chomping general (who for health reasons doesn't actually smoke) put in charge of leading the coalition forces against an insurgency which effectively gets stronger with every enemy combatant and civilian killed.

Competently made and passes the time well enough but there's nothing here we haven't seen or heard before.  Perhaps if the humour had been darker, it might have been more successful.

As it is, it's a film that left me sad, weary and feeling like I'd watched a bit of a mess that had outstayed its welcome by the end. Not unlike the situation in Afghanistan actually so maybe job done on reflection.

Mini-review: The Richest Man in Babylon

Entertaining series of parables on the theme of prudence and wealth set in ancient Babylon written in the early part of the twentieth century.

Good advice for the financial novice who is open to the storytelling format - teens or recent graduates would probably get most from it, but I think it would be a rare example who would actually pick up such a book.

Much of the advice is common sense, and I admit has served me well:
  • Save some of your earnings
  • Invest it wisely
  • Don't waste money on trinkets
  • Pay down your debt asap
  • Build your own capacity to earn
and reading that back it seems rather trite, but it is charmingly delivered. 

Those of a cynical mind may also read them in a different light once you know who originally distributed the pamphlets that the book is derived from (banks & insurance companies).  Indeed, it is hard not to suppress a hollow laugh from time to time.

Thought: The position of F*** You

Obviously swearing so those with sensitive ears should turn away now, but an FU fund is highly recommended for just the reasons Goodman's character succinctly describes.  It doesn't have to be quite as high as he mentions either. Even a few months worth of expenses gives you more options than most.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Mini-review: In Time

Stylish retro-modern thriller set in a world where time is literally money - and the amount of time people is in direct proportion to their lifespan. As with Niccol's previous films,  it's a thoughtfully constructed and plausible world he's created - especially in light of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and other block chain technologies. In this case, however, the ideas feel slightly underserved by their filmic vehicle - especially when compared with GATTACA.

Timberlake gives an able performance as a time poor(!) man from the ghetto who happens upon a huge amount of time. Seyfried doesn't have very much to do, but is capable enough.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Thought: Pattern recognition in researching a new topic

I was appraising one of my colleague yesterday, and they said something interesting on the approach they'd taken to tackle a new topic.

They and another colleague had gone out to talk to peers in search of patterns in how they'd approached the topic, but hadn't found any and figured out they'd have to experiment.

In some ways, this should be standard operating procedure - but it was the phrase they used of "searching for patterns" which I liked as it very much taps into Kurzweil's view of the mind - we are all advanced pattern recognisers - as outlined in his book, How to Create a Mind: The secret of human thought revealed.

The mind as pattern recogniser is a controversial theory with possibly little evidence so far. But I recall finding his explanation of the grief response to the loss of a loved one, both reassuring and moving.

Thought: Practice under adverse conditions and building confidence

In his recent podcast, Tim Ferriss outlines his approach to building both confidence and practising for  exams and events like his Ted talk.

On confidence, his approach is very much like Susan Jeffers - you will never be confident, you can only gain confidence through taking action on the thing you fear e.g. if you want to be confident in public speaking, you need to practice public speaking.

He also had some surprising things to say about exam preparation. Practice under adverse conditions. His reasoning goes like this. If the outcome is important to you, then there's a good chance you'd have the jitters, won't sleep well the night before etc.  So practice with this in mind and try to simulate those conditions which you are likely to encounter.

Asking for help as a tool for surfacing FAQs

Recently, I was asked to help put together a poster exhibition around a new way of visualising our organisational strategy and business plan - and make sure it was available in our regional/national offices as well as our London one within a couple of days.

I started asking around for help in each regional/national office - and got the usual enthusiastic "Yes, I would love to help with this" responses...

Yeah, right.  In my dreams.

What I mostly got was "No, but (sotto voce) possibly persuadable", "Ask this person instead", "I'm on holiday for six weeks..." and "Erm...what's this about anyway?"

Cereal box sketch of idea. Note FAQs 
hastily added in.
It was a bit disheartening until I remembered a recent Masters of Scale podcast dealing with pitching (Grit Happens). It reckoned each "No, but..."  response was an opportunity to learn more about your product's market fit. One woman related her 140+ plus rejections with notable pride.

Then I had a minor epiphany. I realised  my colleagues were actually helping me create a list of FAQs that the wider organisation was bound to ask including:
  1. What is this?
  2. What do I have to do?
  3. What about other offices?
  4. What about home workers?
  5. Can this be done in home, project or other teams?
  6. What is the deadline?
  7. Xxx is important, but not shown on it?
  8. What happens afterwards?
  9. What if I'm away or don't have time?
All of this was helpful in designing the final exhibition too.

Final version

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Mini-review: Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway

As the title suggests, this is a book which is perhaps out of sync with today's climate of safe spaces, avoidance of triggers etc.  Jeffers is a pulls no punches kind of authorial voice - and in doing so attempts to put you back in control of your life.

She expertly dissects fear and leaves it naked, whimpering and bleeding on the autopsy table to reveal that what we are all afraid of... Not being able to handle a situation.

Her five key truths offer some sign posts in dealing with it:
  • Everyone feels fear when doing something new. 
  • It'll never go away as long as you keep trying to grow.
  • The only way to get rid of a fear of doing something - is to do it. 
  • The only way to feel better - is to do it. 
  • Pushing through a fear is better than the alternative - i.e. being helpless. 
as she encourages readers not to chose victimhood, but to embrace yes in decision making and see the positives (learning) in even bad situations as well as focus on giving in the fullest meaning of the word.  All in all, a mixture of useful refresher and radically thought provoking in places.  If you are ready for some tough love, this is recommended.

Thought: What would you say to a friend?

I'm currently doing the Headspace meditation pack on kindness and Day 6's theme is "What would you say to a friend who raised the same negative thoughts as your own mind raises?"

The chances are, you'd be a lot kinder to your friend than you are to yourself. Why is that? 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Mini-review: Moonfleet

^Get a free copy^
Classic and hugely atmospheric smuggling and treasure hunting adventure set in Dorset. Fast paced and stylishly written with the only the occasional bit of archaic language to stumble over. In Trenchard and Block, Falkner has created an admirable hero and mentor who never ever give up despite their various follies and mistreatment at the hands of others.  For all the derring-do though, it's a sombre book and repeatedly returns to the theme of loss.

Only the ending feels a little pat and fairy tale, but is perfectly in keeping with similar stories of the era. To my mind, this gives Robert Louis Stevenson a serious run for his money in the boys own adventure stakes.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Mini-review: Birch water

I like to experiment with new tastes and have a not-often-achieved goal of trying something new food wise every week.

This week, I happened upon Birch water for 99p a 250ml bottle in Home Bargains. As an aside, Home Bargains is quite a good place to seek out new flavours as a surprising amount of remaindered and heavily discounted weird and wonderful food and drink turns up there.  I find something in amongst the cut price biscuits etc about once a month on average.

As for Birch water itself? It's water with an extremely subtle sweet taste and a slightly cloying one. The bottle is glass with a metal cap which is a plus point from a recycling point of view.

But I'm not sure I'll seek it out again...

Thought: Comic books as a Minimum Viable Products for films

A recent episode of Start up mentioned some of the story/series based licensing deals Gimlet are doing - and my ears pricked up at the suggestion that Marvel had essentially used their comic books as a low cost test bed for their characters before turning them into films.

ALEX: How big do you think this line of business could be.
CHRIS: And in my mind it’s massive. Like in my mind it’s the thing that could turn Gimlet into a unicorn. And beyond because if you look at I mean there are many many many examples of multibillion dollar film and TV production companies and studios. There there aren’t any of the audio companies. And so I think you know there are precedents for this like you look at Marvel which was just a comic book company and you know it’s the same sort of model of originating characters and worlds and stories in a low-cost experimental format. Transitioning it to a higher investment higher return format.
ALEX: In other words, transitioning this character — me — in this world — the low-cost podcast environment you’re listening to right now — to this higher return format.
And it got me thinking, "How could charities massively scale up the income from their IP through licensing?" No immediate thoughts yet, but it's an interesting problem to consider.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Mini-review: Habit Stacking

Habit stacking is consists of a few ideas strung together to amplify their impact:
  • Find something small which can be routinely done (habit)to improve an aspect of your life ( health, spirituality, career, finance, leisure, relationship & organising!)
  • Attach it to an existing routine (like brushing your teeth) or trigger (when you feel down).
  • Add additional habits until you've built a stack over time.
It turns out that I've been doing this for a while already e.g. my morning routine when I'm at home tends to look something like this:
  • Wake up
  • Go to bathroom
  • Brush teeth
  • Make green tea
  • Feed the wormery with veg scraps
  • Do some washing up
  • Do some recycling
  • Stack fruit and veg by microwave (to ensure 5+ a day)
  • Drink tea
  • Do some yoga stretches
  • Do some kettle bell swings
  • Do 7 minute workout
And there is some rationale to it all. For example, I tend to be rather stiff in the morning and walking around the kitchen/garden completing a few tasks tends to loosen things up enough to contemplate the workout.  More generally, it takes much of the cognitive load away freeing up your mind to think about other things instead.

What was new to me in the book was:
  • Adding similar routines to other parts of the day e.g. lunchtime, end of work day and also using triggers e.g. particular emotions. 
  • Elephant habits. Similar to Tracey's Eat that frog approach where you break down an unappealing task into small sections. Making this a habit was new.
  • Broken windows. I had come across this in Gladwell's Tipping Point with regards to crime, but hadn't considered applying it to housekeeping. 
The book also encouraged to tackle a couple of things I've been meaning to do for a little while:
  • Set up a direct debit for council tax. 
  • Find an app to track all of my bank accounts/credit cards in one place. 
For the second of these, I used Money Dashboard rather than Mint as I'm based in the UK.  As an aside, I'm rather impressed with Money Dashboard so far and I like the ability to tag transactions in a particular way as well as create budgets for and track particular types of spending. For example, I tend to buy quite a few second hand blu-rays (often only paying a quid or so for them) for viewing on our projector and I wanted to just keep half an eye on my spending in this area.

Lastly, a word for Scott's personal writing style which made this a very easy and appealing read.


Friday, 7 July 2017

Mini-review: Ashes & Diamonds

Post-war Polish film which uses the journey a particular individual takes in terms of emotions, changing loyalties and priorities to tell in microcosm the country's own story. There's a number of memorable scenes which felt familiar from later Hollywood fare - even the blu-ray cover resembles the Schwarzenegger movie poster pose in Terminator 2.  Acting is also generally very good and aiming for realism, although feels little mannered at times.  Lastly, worth bearing in mind that the film assumes you are familiar with the context i.e. last day of the Second World War in Poland - which 70+ years later is unlikely. Reading the booklet enclosed with the blu-ray or relevant wikipedia entry may help increase your enjoyment from the film.

Who was inspired by who?

Mini-review: Beethoven

Harmless dog comedy has its moments (it's a rare appearance for Stanley Tucci's hair), but undemanding and uninvolving stuff overall. I don't think I'll be watching the other films unless some small people demand I do.

Mini-review: Calm Down!: Step-by-Step to a Calm, Relaxed, and Brilliant Family Dog

I don't have a dog, but I regularly encounter them while out running. Most are friendly, but there's a couple who are not so I have a vague interest in how to manage or even reform them.  This was a Kindle freebie so I thought I'd read it to get an insight into dog behaviour.

The key insights were:
  • Regular treats are great behavioural tools. Up to 1 every second or so for new behaviours. 
  • Let the dog discover the desired behaviour which results in a treat. 
  • Rewarding partial behaviour initially is OK. 
  • Use treats rather than punishment to reinforce the behaviours you want to see. 
It's probably not going to help with the causal encounters I have as I can't treat those dogs in  sustained way, but maybe it can be applied in another way. 

I also wonder if this can be applied to humans...