Friday, 29 March 2013

The Hypnotist

I almost called this post “Hypnotism Is Rubbish”.
Many years ago I saw a hypnotist live at a Butlins Holiday Camp in Minehead. I was about 16 years old.
I sat in the audience astounded at the antics of the poor victims of this hypnotist, who invited members of the audience onto the stage and, after a little bit of jiggery pokery (he spoke to each of them in almost silent tones, rendering them all “in a trance”), told each of them what they were going to do when he gave them a signal.
One guy was convinced that everybody else in the room had a very disturbing smell that made him feel sick.
Another guy could only speak utter gibberish. The woman next to him was the only person in the entire world who understood the gibberish he spoke and could translate it for our benefit.
Another guy believed he was Tarzan and, on cue, he would run to the stage wherever he was and bang his chest and scream in the greatest Johnny Weissmuller fashion – just like this:

I laughed at their antics but didn’t believe a word of it.
Many years later in the United States, I saw a show where another hypnotist made a young guy think he was Michael Jackson, and a young woman believe she was Madonna. I believed this even less because the two people concerned were rampant extroverts, keen to show off their singing talents; each managed a fairly good impersonation of the artist they were “forced” to portray.
My cynicism told me that they had planned just to be up on stage and show off to anybody who was willing to watch and believe.
I left that show in America utterly convinced that hypnotism, like the so-called ability to communicate with the dead, was an utter farce, a sham – in other words complete rubbish.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago, and I was having a discussion about hypnotism with Mrs PM, who has a mind that is much more open to this kind of thing than mine. I was a total sceptic and argued that hypnotism was totally fake, based solely on my experience of people using it as entertainment.
My argument was that the kind of people who are willing to volunteer to go on stage to be humiliated by a hypnotist are more likely to be outgoing and gregarious enough to love the attention and the laughs generated by their antics on stage.
Mrs PM agreed – well kind of – but then started talking about the real benefits of using hypnotherapy to persuade people to change their ways; not in an overtly and spontaneous way like the victims of a hypnotic entertainer – but in a gradual way by appealing to your inner self.
Of course, I dismissed this and forgot about it - until recently.
I am fascinated by a British entertainer called Derren Brown who seems to be able to achieve unbelievable feats of mind reading and magic with a fair amount of hypnotism to assist his showmanship.
Some of his amazing feats have involved putting people into trances and convincing them that something is happening, when in fact it isn’t. And while I am not fully convinced, I’ve pushed the cynic within me aside and done a little investigation and this has coincided with another little experiment I have been conducting, an experiment to find ways of helping me relax more.
Since almost being overwhelmed by stress many years ago, I have tried to eliminate as much pressure and stress from my life as I can.  I read somewhere that listening to soothing, mellow or relaxing music can help and I’ve noticed that quite a few work colleagues listen to music while they are working.
It seems that listening to classical music or mellow chillout songs can actually help to combat stress. Purely for research purposes, I created a playlist on my iPod which I call Chillout, which is full of peaceful and calming tunes such as:

I started listening to this playlist at a volume just loud enough to eliminate the noise around me but quiet enough for my conscious mind to still be able to function.
I found myself able to work and effectively shut out the world around me such as the background noise in the office, the constant clatter of keyboards and my work colleagues discussing problems, solutions and generally chatting to one another about all and sundry.
It worked but it seemed to work at a subconscious level and, while I was aware that beautiful and relaxing music was playing in my ears, I found, bizarrely, that I was becoming slightly more productive and definitely more relaxed.
And I have continued listening to music as I work. I find that if I need to really concentrate then I have to do so without music; nevertheless, mundane tasks become much easier to tolerate with soothing music in the background.
Taking this a stage further, I also listen to the same playlist in bed sometimes in order to totally relax and drift off to sleep.
It works.
What has this got to do with hypnosis?
Well I read that hypnosis, like soothing music, works on a subconscious level. Your subconscious mind is the driving force behind most of your behaviour and in order to change that behaviour, somebody needs to appeal to your subconscious mind and persuade it to react differently.
A good example I read about discussed phobias. I am terrified of spiders. It is a stupid irrational fear that is driven by my subconscious mind in order to protect me from these evil eight-legged arachnids.
In theory, hypnotherapy could help me to overcome this fear by persuading my subconscious mind that spiders are mostly harmless creatures that cannot hurt me, ergo there is no need to far them. In order to do this, a hypnotist would strip away the influence of my conscious mind by putting me into a trance and suggesting to my subconscious mind that I should not fear spiders.
In my case, he would have to remind me that I don’t live in Australia, where the spiders could actually harm me.
I have actually pursued this further, dear reader, by downloading a free application on my smartphone that has several free hypnosis mp3 tracks.
And I have listened to them.
I think they work.
The tracks I have tried are simply relaxation techniques. The hypnotist speaks very slowly in a really deep and soothing voice, with a barely perceptible musical soundtrack, telling me to slowly close my eyes, breathe deeply and drift off into a trance.
I lay in bed at the end of a hard day and listened to the Deep Relaxation track. I was aware of what the hypnotist was saying but I genuinely found myself lost in thought, almost dreaming. I could still hear his voice yet it seemed like I was floating away in a sea of calm. I saw myself on a beach watching the sun set as waves lapped at my feet. All thought of work and stress dissipated, as instructed by the calming voice.
I fell asleep.
And every time I have tried it, I have fallen asleep and woken up feeling extremely relaxed.
I have concluded therefore that perhaps there is something in this hypnotism fad. I have yet to try anything that would actually involve a lifestyle change, like eliminating my fear of heights, for example (mainly because I am a cheapskate and don’t want to pay money for a hypnotist to tell my subconscious mind that I will not fall from a great height) but my scepticism is waning.
I can, at least for the moment, tell you that hypnotism is not rubbish – or at least it doesn’t seem to be rubbish – yet!
I plan to continue my research (within the constraints of not actually paying anybody any cash) and keep you posted.
Perhaps one day I will be able to climb to the top of the Burj Khalifa, just like Tom Cruise did, and scream:
And then, for some inexplicable reason, I will rip off my shirt, bang my chest and scream “ME TARZAN; YOU JANE; HIM BOY!!!” in my best Johnny Weissmuller voice.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Five Years and Counting ...

The Plastic Mancunian blog is now five years old. 
I wrote my first post way back in March 2008 and it seems like only yesterday.
To celebrate this milestone, I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts and feelings about why I started blogging in the first place and how The Plastic Mancunian has evolved over the years, together with some of the ups and downs.
Many years ago, in the early 1990s, I found myself looking for a new hobby. At the time I was reading a truly terrible and extremely geeky book. I won’t tell you what it is for fear of being ridiculed. However, that particular book sowed a seed that has germinated and is still thriving.
The book was truly awful and as I read it, two thoughts raced through my head:
      (a)    Why I am I reading this utter crap?
      (b)   I can write better than this.
As a result of that awful book, I started writing. At first I had no direction; I was a rudderless ship drifting on a vast ocean in search of a literary land mass. There was none to be found.
I thought I wanted to write fiction and began to write short stories and first chapters of novels.
And they were rubbish.
I realised that writing was truly difficult and requires a lot of thought and patience. It was also extremely time consuming, and my inner perfectionist lambasted me for poor writing style, bad plotlines and overly ambitious ideas that would result in huge complicated stories.
My head was full of ideas but capturing them, wrestling them to the ground and turning them into something that people would enjoy proved to be something I simply couldn’t do.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed trying.
I found myself putting pen to paper and writing utter drivel. I locked away the perfectionist and started to write about the thoughts in my head. It was almost like a diary – but not quite.
And I enjoyed it, despite my flaws.
In 1999, Mrs PM and I travelled to China for two weeks and this gave me the impetus to step up a gear. I decided to have a go at writing a travelogue.
I bought a notebook and , as we travelled around that fascinating country, I made copious notes about our experiences and upon our return, I sat down at the computer and turned those notes into a diary of the trip.
And while it is really a load of old rubbish, it took me to the next level. Mrs PM particularly enjoyed it because it gave her an insight into the way I felt, my thought processes and my interpretation of events that happened to us.
In 2005, to celebrate Mrs PM’s mother’s 60th birthday, we travelled to Australia. Mrs PM’s mum had never been to Australia – and neither had we. I thought it would be a good idea to record this once in a lifetime journey in another travelogue, so that I could present it to her as a birthday gift, a record of our trip Down Under.
The China Chronicles was gritty and amateurish; what became The Oz Chronicles was a more personal, light-hearted and amusing diary of our time in Australia.
Mrs PM’s mum accepted the gift with, I thought, a dismissive wave of her hand. She assumed that it was just a record of pictures and captions.
When she read it, she was amazed. It served as a memento of what proved to be one of her favourite holidays, complete with detailed memories from each day and my own weird and wonderful interpretation of events.
She loved it. I might actually post it as a new blog some day.
I found myself writing more but needed an outlet. The only person who read my “work” was me – and occasionally Mrs PM.
“Why don’t you post some of your writing on the web and get other people to tell you what they think?” said Mrs PM.
“I’m too scared,” I said. “What if they think its rubbish?”
“Does it matter?” she replied. “If you enjoy doing it, and you want feedback, just do it.”
I didn’t really know what to write about. I knew that I wasn’t going to write a novel (at least not yet), but if I basically just offered my thoughts about the world around me, some people might – just might – be vaguely interested.
I started The Plastic Mancunian in March 2008 with a post about football.
And since that day I have written 452 posts about a wide range of nonsense. There have been times when I have struggled to think of things to write and others when I have had so much to say that I can barely get the words out quickly enough.
The thought of giving up has occasionally crossed my mind, particularly when I have been inflicted by a particularly bad bout of writers block. When such a thought traverses my mind, I simply sit down, clear my mind and look at my little note book of ideas.
I am delighted to say that the world is such a delightfully strange place that there is always inspiration from somewhere. Besides, life is quite capable of throwing enough weirdness in my direction to keep me entertained enough to scribble down my thoughts about it.
What is most surprising, however, is that people actually read it.
And even better – people offer their thoughts and opinions.
I love that.
Of course, the other thing that I love about blogging is reading the thoughts of other people. I have connected with quite a few people thanks to The Plastic Mancunian over the past five years and that is probably the most rewarding experience of all.
While my ambition is to write a book and get it published, I know in my own heart that while I still have a career that such a task will prove too time consuming to achieve, at least until I retire.
Besides, I’m not a good writer.
I am now quite content to just pour out drivel once or twice a week and post it on this blog, knowing that people may read it. I don’t care whether people hate what I write but I love the thought that some people may smile at the weird gobbledygook I transmit into cyber space.
If I can make one person smile, that makes me happy.
To be honest, I think I would continue to write even if I had no readers whatsoever. I find it therapeutic and, in a small way, it satisfies the creativity within me.
Furthermore, I may claim that I haven’t written a book yet, but in five years I have managed to put together so many posts that I could in fact print off several “books” of posts.
As well as that, it’s been eight years since I wrote a travelogue, and I aim to rectify that by writing another one for our trip to Japan in May. Not sure what I’ll call it yet (maybe The Nihon Chronicles - I'm so imaginative aren't I?).
And perhaps I may even create another blog for it.
Finally, I’d just like to thank those of you who regularly come back to read the nonsense that I write, particularly those who add comments.
I love that.
If you are a lurker who feels too shy to comment on my inane balderdash, please feel free to share your thoughts.
I don’t bite and I have a thick skin.
I certainly plan to continue the blog – The Plastic Mancunian is still going strong.
Here’s to the next five years.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Vodka? I Asked For Water!

“Dave, we need you to go to Moscow.”
I swallowed hard.
“Moscow? Can somebody else go?”
“Yes – A can go with you.”
“That’s not what I meant…”
It was with some trepidation that I decided to agree to visit Russia for the first time way back in the early 2000s. My judgement was coloured by images from spy films during Cold War Soviet Union. 
I dug deep and agreed to go as my curiosity got the better of me. I wasn’t based in Moscow itself but in a town some 35km outside the city. It was summer and I imagined that it would be a cold oppressive place with miserable people. 
I was wrong. 
That first two week trip opened my eyes in many ways. First of all, the weather was glorious, with temperatures in the mid 30’s and wall to wall sunshine. While working in a small place wasn’t ideal, my work colleague, A, and I had the weekend off and asked if we could move to Moscow for the weekend to explore. The answer was a resounding “Yes”.
A was very excited because he was taking lessons in Russian and wanted to practice his new talent. 
After work, on Friday night, one of our Russian colleagues gave us a lift into the centre of Moscow. We stayed in the Hotel Ukraina, a magnificent 5 star hotel, which is one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters, a 29 story 1000 room hotel.
When I stood outside, my jaw dropped in both shock and admiration. Here is the hotel:

Outside, there was a beer tent so after we had checked in, we opted to sit outside in the warm sunshine enjoying a beer. Previous visitors from work had recommended a Mexican restaurant to us, so we got changed and set off to try to find the place for our evening meal. 
This was when I discovered that I had a problem. I could not read Cyrillic, and everything everywhere was written in that alphabet. If I had been on my own I would have been totally and utterly lost. Thankfully my colleague, A, was happy to do all of the reading and translation. 
I followed him around the city like a lost sheep.
One of the first things that struck me was the Moscow Metro system. Some of the stations were and are magnificently ornate and spectacular. Don’t take my word for it – judge for yourself.

Later, we found the Mexican restaurant, which was more like a bar and music venue. Enjoying rock music, several beers, a fine Mexican meal and even a shot or two of tequila provided by a waitress wearing a bullet belt of shot glasses and a holster with bottles of tequila where the guns should be, we left slightly the worst for wear. 
Alcohol had lowered my inhibitions enough for me to ask for water from a Russian street vendor in the native tongue, being careful to say voda (water) instead of vodka (vodka).
When we arrived back at the hotel, I arrived back at my room to find the phone ringing. Thinking it was Mrs PM, I picked it up and said “Hiya babe,”. 
After all, who else would be ringing me at this time of night?
I was greeted with a very sexy Russian voice.
“Hello! Would you like a Russian woman for sex?”
Even in my inebriated state, I was suddenly terrified. 
“No no no no no,” I yelled. 
“Maybe later?” 
“!” I said.
The next morning, A advised me to spend half an hour learning the Cyrillic alphabet. It proved to be one of the most important bits of advice I have ever received. It was like somebody had wiped condensation from my eyeballs. It was like somebody had opened a door and shown me the light. 
I was suddenly able to read Moscow Metro station names and, more importantly, be able to understand them. 
For the remainder of the weekend, I became a pure tourist and visited Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral and even the Kremlin itself, where I had a minor disagreement with a Kremlin guard about whether I should take my bag in or not. 
Sadly that was my only trip in the summer. 
My other two trips were in the middle of winter in temperatures of -20 to -25 degrees Celsius. The snow was piled high on the sides of the roads and it was so cold that the liquid snot running from my cold, blue nose was turning to ice. 
Worse still, I was on my own without A or anybody else to help me.
Rather than being totally bored, I opted to catch a local train to the centre of Moscow and explore by myself. I was able to use Moscow Metro and find my way around the city and I even found the Mexican restaurant again, where I sat with Billy Nomates listening to music and enjoying Mexican food.
Mrs PM came out for the final weekend and I managed to persuade my boss to allow us to stay in the Hotel Ukraina again, this time in the middle of a dark cold winter. 
As I checked in, I found myself standing next to a famous person; Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of Pulp. Instead of shaking his hand and having a quick chat, I found myself gawking at him like an absolute arse.
He was in Moscow as a DJ at a local night club. 
Mrs PM was certainly impressed that I could find my way around the city. One of my Russian colleagues had arranged for Mrs PM to picked up from Sheremetyevo Airport and taken to the hotel by taxi. The taxi driver gave Mrs PM his number and told her that should we require his services, we should just call. 
I was sceptical but Mrs PM overruled me. On her second day, the driver took us to a very posh and authentic Russian restaurant, complete with musical entertainment in the form of two very attractive young ladies playing harp and violin. The food was superb and relatively cheap for such a wonderful place. 
Our taxi driver took us on an impromptu tour of the city before we retired for the night.
I have been to Moscow three times, twice in winter and once in summer. Contrary to my initial image of the city, I found it to be a wonderful place, full of friendly people, albeit some rather stern and bureaucratic law enforcement officers who stopped me in the street, demanding to see my passport. 
I took a river cruise, saw a magnificent ice sculpture and saw the drunkest man I have ever seen, ordering half a bottle of vodka while staggering around with a bag full of bottles of beer. 
Working there was a chore (working in most places is a chore to be fair) but strolling around the city in the summer, buying beer from a stand in the park, admiring the wonderful architecture, marvelling at the Metro stations and visiting the Kremlin is something that anybody should consider doing.
Just don’t be perturbed when a Russian prostitute asks for sex and make sure that you remember that water is voda and not vodka.
Here are some more photos ( I apologise for the quality – it was before I bought my first digital camera).

Friday, 15 March 2013

Pay It Forward? No Chance!

A few years ago, I was on a long haul flight to Hong Kong and watched a movie called Pay It Forward starring Haley Joel Osment (the kid from The Sixth Sense). It was a mushy tear-jerker that I didn’t really enjoy at all.

Having said that, I quite liked the idea behind the film, the basic philosophy, if you like. When somebody does a favour for you, don’t return the favour; instead pay the favour forward by helping three other people instead.

I have been thinking about this a lot in the last two weeks while driving in Oman.

When I arrived in Muscat, I had a choice: either I get a taxi to and from work every day or I drive. Having been to the United Arab Emirates last year, and seen how inconsiderate drivers can be there, and having heard that in Oman they are just as bad, I opted to travel around by taxi instead.

I arrived with a colleague who doesn’t mind driving and during that first week of our trip he was happy to take on the Omani drivers. Every day he offered me the keys to the car and every day I declined.

Why did I refuse, I hear you asking. Three reasons:

(1) Drivers in Oman are at least as bad as drivers in the UAE.

(2) In Oman they drive on the wrong side of the road (the right side as opposed to the left).

(3) Muscat is a maze.

Sadly, that colleague has now returned to the UK and left me with a hire car. My manager asked me if I wanted to take over driving for my final two weeks. I decided to take my chances with taxis.

But that is a problem too. The place I am working is a construction site and it is not easy to get a taxi back to the hotel. Worse, taxi drivers here, while very nice people, are very keen to, shall we say, take advantage of foreigners. The trick is to barter with them before they set off and agree a price. I am not a fan of bartering.

At the hotel, I jumped into a taxi and told him where I wanted to go.

“10 Rials, he said.

 “Last week it cost me 8 Rials,” I said.

“10 Rials,” he persisted.

“8 Rials,” I argued.



And so it went on for a good five minutes until finally he said “OK – 8 Rials”.

When I got to work, I paid him and boasted to my work colleagues about battering the taxi driver  down to 8 Rials.

“From your hotel it should only be 7 Rials,” one of the guys said.

Now I know that the company will pay for the cab, but that annoyed me. And I really didn’t fancy having to go through the rigmarole of bartering for every taxi ride for the next two weeks.

After careful consideration, I reluctantly told my manager that I would drive. It would be more convenient and I could come and go as I pleased without arguing with taxi drivers.

Sadly, however, Muscat is a maze to me and with the inconsiderate drivers and the struggle to make sure that I do not inadvertently career head first into oncoming traffic by driving on the wrong side of the road, I have had a lot of fun negotiating the route to and from work.

After a week of this I have a well established route – not the best route but a route that works for me.

It has not been without pain though.

Three times I have taken the wrong turn and found myself heading in totally the wrong direction, thanks to the maze of Muscat. My colleagues who have driven have told me that it is impossible to get lost in Muscat. Believe me – it is very easy to get lost in Muscat.

What has made it more difficult is the inconsideration of other drivers. To them, the road is theirs and they can do with it what they like. There is absolutely no way that they will pause to let another car out. Worse still, there is no way they will slow down to let you leave a motorway at your required exit.

A day or two ago, I was driving along the motorway, searching for my exit and I spotted it just a little bit too late. In the UK I would have slowed down and indicated and most other drivers would have flashed to let me in.

Not in Muscat.

I started to indicate and edge over but just behind me in the lane was a huge truck that simply refused to budge. In fact, rather than slow down slightly to let me in, he sped up started honking his horn (a favourite pastime here in Muscat). The car behind the truck also refused to budge and I ended up being forced to stay on the motorway.

In the UK I would have succumbed to road rage.

In Muscat road rage was vanquished by fear.

I had no idea where to go. I had no idea where I was.

What the phaarrrkkkk do I do now?” I screamed to myself.

I ended up coming off at the next junction and after driving around aimlessly for ten minutes, I found myself heading back towards work instead of the hotel. Luckily, I spotted a road that I recognised and managed to get back on track, arriving at the hotel about twenty minutes later than I had anticipated, all because this bozo wouldn’t do me a favour.

And this is where Pay It Forward comes in.

Unlike that arse of a truck driver, I have decided to slow down and allow other vehicles to pop into the space in front of me, thus showing Omani drivers what it is like to be an extremely considerate driver. If I am optimistic I figure that for every car I let in, the driver of that car will do the same for three other drivers at least.

And if my plan works, next time I come to Muscat (which is in April) I will arrive in a city where driving is a pure pleasure; a city where arseholes driving trucks that force innocent foreigners to miss their exit from the motorway will be no more; a city where even taxi drivers (who are a law unto themselves) will drive with due care and attention.

Sadly, looking out of the window of my hotel, which is on a busy main road, and seeing maniacs fighting for every square centimetre of space, I doubt it.

I have my work cut out.

I think it will be tougher than managing to watch the whole movie Pay It Forward without vomiting into a sick back or ranting at the sugary-coated treacle that is the plot.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Am I Hydrated?

So here I am in Muscat, Oman and I am going to talk about two of my favourite topics: 
Health and Safety and toilets.
I can hear you groaning – but bear with me.
On the work front I am having an extremely frustrating time. I won’t go into that now but I will tell you about the toilets at the office I am working at.
They are clean and fresh but adorned with laminated Health and Safety posters advising people about how to wash your hands and warning about the dangers of spreading germs. 
However, one of these posters has actually proved quite useful. Let me tell you why.
As you can probably imagine, Oman is a very hot country. At the moment it is quite bearable – a cool 28 °C – though earlier this week it crept up to 33 °C. I have heard a number of horror stories about exactly how hot it can get in the summer with temperatures reaching the dizzy heights of 45 to 50 °C. If that isn’t bad enough, Oman is also a very humid country which means the temperature and humidity combine to make life very unpleasant for locals and visitors alike.
All this means that we have the exact reverse of the UK when it comes to how to deal with the unpleasant weather.
In the UK, during winter, our cars are covered in frost and ice, so we start our cars, turn the heating up full blast and spend quite a few minutes de-icing the car. We then sometimes have to drive in gloves because the steering wheel is too cold.
Also, because it is cold and wet and miserable outside, we tend to stay indoors more in our lovely warm, heated and cosy homes. We rely heavily on our boilers, central heating and gas fires to keep us warm.
In Oman it is the complete opposite. In the summer, it is so hot outside that people rush out and start their cars, removing the heat deflectors from their windscreens and switching on their air conditioning up to full blast to turn their cars into mobile fridges. Sometimes the steering wheel is so hot that they have to wear gloves to drive until the car has cooled down.
Because it is so hot and humid outside, the people stay indoors in their cool and comfortable homes. They rely heavily on their air-conditioning to keep them cool.
I’ve heard stories about people walking for a few minutes outside and becoming absolutely drenched in sweat.
Which leads me back to the toilet poster.
Because it gets so hot and sweaty here, there is a very good chance of becoming dehydrated. The poster informs you that you must drink plenty of water and that you can tell exactly how dehydrated you are by the colour of your pee. And if you are not sure of that, there is a colour chart to show you.
Being a man it is easy to look down and see the hue of you urine. I would imagine that women have to wait until they have finished.
Once again, in order to bring this useful information to you, dear reader, I have risked humiliation and some very awkward questions to show you the colour chart. 
Yes – that’s right. I have taken my camera into the Gents once more and taken a photo of it. 
Here it is.

If you can’t read the catchy slogan – it says:
Healthy pee is 1 to 3. 4 to 8 you must hydrate.
And for once I find this useful because I am certainly not used to the temperatures.
Of course, the other posters that tell us exactly how to wash, lather and dry our hands are utterly ridiculous and an insult to those of us who have common sense.
I am here for a further two weeks and have to return again in April for another week. I just hope that I am not asked to come back when the temperature and humidity are unbearable. 
I don’t want to have to check the colour chart in every toilet I visit.
And I am sure you are curious about whether I am hydrated or not.
Yes I am – falling comfortably in the 1 to 3 range.
I’ll bet you’re relieved to hear that, aren’t you?