FI or bust; FBeyer.

Where are you and where are you going?
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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by cmonkey » Tue May 29, 2018 2:58 pm

For the cat issue, spread citrus peels around. Cats HATE citrus.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:36 am

This is Water:
I paraphrase:
If all you care about is freedom, you will end up feeling trapped.
I've come across the idea expressed in this video several times over the last couple of years. To some extent it ties in with Stoicism, but to a greater extent it ties in with Buddhism. In order to live: kill yourself.

If you can't use your intellect to do so then use your education and develop some plasticity of thought.
Plasticity is paramount if you ever:
  • want to get out of whatever hole you find yourself in.
  • find yourself in the same situation over and over again, and you want that behavior to change.
  • discover that certain fears are starting to take over your life.
  • need a constructive outcome from an argument or negotiation.
  • want to change as a person.
  • want a fulfilling existence.
You have become your ego, and that needs to die in order to free up the rest of you.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by Hobbes » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:22 pm

Beg pardon good sir!
So I dutifully perused your journal for references to your book, and, after trying the forum search function (didn't go well, despite several search queries) and searching each page in your journal individually for 'book,' I was only able to locate references to how long it is. And that it's being written. And that it has something to do with learning, and possibly something about coaching people. Or not. I also learned that you read _a lot_ of books all at once!

So: your book? I'd be interested to hear what it is about, and, when it's ready, how one would go about procuring a copy?

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:35 am

I think the FI community is myopically focused on 'saving money' rather than spending money right. There is a tendency to focus on money, rather than what people have done with their lives in order to live closer to their ideals. People think FI is about money, when it is really a matter of lifestyle engineering. So therefore, I wanted to write a book that deals with the good life, and how to find it, and in particular show how to live A Good Life without spending more money on it than you should.

The idea is to first explain the psychological biases that keep us from doing a lot of the things that we instinctively know we should, but we are afraid of for various reasons. And also expand on certain other ideas that are useful when you want to Get More for Less. Then I want to provide the reader with a long list of things to do/try/experiment with in order to gauge their own agency, competency and to experience those various psychological biases in a completely safe (but admittedly sometimes also weird) environment.

The overarching theme is the idea of spending right, not spending less, and what is right for everyone of us is completely unique. Therefore it is imperative that people learn what 'enough' means to them, so that they can be free to follow their dreams in the safest, most productive manner possible. That requires some experimentation and I'll try to propose a framework for doing so.

Financial independence is mentioned in a separate section, but it is not the main focus of the book. The book is rather akin to Your Money or Your Life, actually, except I suggest a playground of things to experiment with, in order to experientially dial in to one's personal needs. EREs will recognize a lot of ideas from Jacob's book, but overall it is meant to be much more accessible to the layman.
In terms of frugality it IS rather extreme, once you start applying it, but I never mention a specific spending level, or set artificial boundaries on expenses. I'll have to trust that the reader will know the right level for that, over time. My hope is that the extreme levels of frugality will start to sneak up on people so they 'discover' how little you can really live on, rather than set it as a goal at the onset (like some tend to do with ERE where the current 'goal' seems to be 7000$ per year.)

Furthermore, the book is built like a toolkit, so the topics are separate and can be applied independently of each other. That way the reader can mix and match. That also means the books gets rather long, even though you might only need a subset of the information in it.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by Hobbes » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:11 pm

I like moving the implicit focus from gathering money to lifestyle engineering, paired with experimentally determining the level of spending that is just right to support those lifestyle goals for the individual. The former strategy always reminded me of Smaug from the Hobbit, in the sense of being a coiled serpent guarding your wealth-pile from any would-be spending (even if that spending could be justified).
But you mention 'living the good life': out of curiosity, what do you mean by that? Said differently, what does that look like to you?

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by ThisDinosaur » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:50 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:35 am
So therefore, I wanted to write a book that deals with the good life, and how to find it, and in particular show how to live A Good Life without spending more money on it than you should.
How far along are you in writing this book? The idea reminds me of an article on Less Wrong. Assuming the science there is legit, you could apply a leveraged Pareto principle technique to optimizing happiness obtained for effort expended. This sort of book should be heavy with inspirational sounding quotes that can be used in promotional materials.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:30 am

ThisDinosaur wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:50 pm
... This sort of book should be heavy with inspirational sounding quotes that can be used in promotional materials.
Which is pretty much what it is currently. So I'm glad you pointed that out!

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:51 am

Hobbes wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:11 pm
... out of curiosity, what do you mean by that? Said differently, what does that look like to you?
Missed this the first time around: Are you asking me what my personal Optimal Life looks like?

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by Hobbes » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:48 pm

That was my original intent. But also, as a follow on, is your personal optimal life what you argue for in the book? If not, what do you argue for?

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:06 pm

Sounds interesting. Will you send your readers out into the woods to see if they can live on nothing?

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:34 am

No, safe environment is the keyword here. It's all meant as experimentation that not only encourages a bit of introspection but also, hopefully, ends up showcasing (in an experiential rather than speculative manner) how 'deprivation' can willingly and consciously be incorporated into part of everyday living and most what it takes to mitigate the feeling of deprivation is a change of mindset.
It's not less, it's just different.
The whole idea of experimenting with deprivation is so alienating that I'm including an entire section of the book to show and tell the reader what the point is, and how to get the most of it.

It's all VERY benign, trust me, but since people are usually so averse to change I feel like these self-inflicted lessons have to come with a sea of caveats.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:10 am

Are you also going to suggest something like the opposite? For instance, after not owning a car for years, I am enjoying zipping around in one this summer. Also, whenever I don't own a television for a number of years, I find that I am even amused by the new commercials when I start watching again. IOW, are you going to offer suggestions in alignment with the notion that hedonistic adaptation is cyclical?

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:44 am

No I am not. I do address (unless it's still stuck in my mind rather than on paper) that a sense of fulfillment and a sense of comfort are often in opposition.

You are so far removed from the intended audience of the book it's not even funny. I do not 'trust' the average recipient of 'my message' to take the idea of toying with hedonic adaptation as anything but an invitation to keep scaling up. Once crazy people like you and I have our shit figured out, we can experiment with our own neurochemistry at will, because we have an experiential basis to fall back on before things get out of hand. Roughly speaking. The mechanism by which people like you and I function is obviously different but the end result is somewhat the same.

I'm trying to help people gauge their values, and their own agency towards making more from less, not from intermittent upscaling.

I do, however, think it's an amazing concept.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:00 am

July, August, September.

Right 'peeps. Get ready for a minddump. It's been three months, and my mind's been racing.

Internet Blackout
The family experimented with boredom during our summer holiday. My gf suggested we turned off the wifi, just to play around with a digital detox and I was all for it. I still brought my computer to the summer house so I could write, which I did rather a lot of, in spite on having no internet access.

I'm still battling information addiction. It feels like I have to structure my entire day around avoiding the computer or I'll end up on a YouTube/Wikipedia/stack exchange safari, and those have yet to give me true lasting sense of satisfaction. One day I had to take a day off from work because my latter days have been information dense and self-esteem deficient, so while the rest of the family was out I: started my day with a cup of coffe and then exercised. Then I spent some time enjoying cooking[1], picked up drawing again after a 10 year hiatus, played some guitar, meditated[2], researched the Shikoku[*] pilgrimage (more on that later), and took an hour long barefoot walk in the crazy-nice summer weather we've got going at the moment. I've also picked sugar snaps with my daughter and planted some parsley. So even in spite of structuring my days around not using the computer, I still wound up researching something that I don't need to know right now, ie the Shikoku pilgrimage. It's not a big loss because for once something good came of it, but still. Somehow I'm am rather addicted to information.

In a more general life perspective I am trying to focus more on Sitting, Walking, and Eating (with a capital S, W, and E respectively). In spite of sneering at people who've got their greasy little noses buried in their phones while they're zombiying down the street, I realize that I am prone to distraction myself. Not from phones, but from thinking, and planning. Although being a planner and forward looking person is lauded, I can tell that I need to keep my plans where they are: in the future, and keep my mind where I am: which is here, now. This is really a buddhist ideal, but I can tell that it appeals to me a lot: Put your daily actions on autopilot to make sure you go where you need to go, and keep your head where you are now. It's not some more-frugal-than-thou notion that dishes out the reward. I'm not trying to incorporate free 'entertainment' for the sake of free entertainment but for holistic reasons. Discovering the joy of sitting still, eating, and having functioning legs feels profound. The very worst that could happen is that I enjoy whatever is already available to me a little bit more than I used to. There is no reason not to learn MBCT if you ask me.

At some point in my life I want to walk the Shikoku Pilgrimage. 1200 km of walking in solitude in the less neon covered parts of Japan. Some of it is mountainous, most of it beautiful. I am thinking of ways to practice walking long stretches and naturally there are one million pilgrimage-like routes I could walk right outside my own backdoor (herp derp travel to the other side of the world, 'cause what you got available already isn't good enough for you). In fact, in spite of living in the suburbs of the nation's capital, there are shelters that are open to the public even a few kilometers away so I think my little family might go for a night of sleeping outside some time soon. I'm quite sure my daughter would love to fall asleep outside, and I'm quite sure I'd like to wake up next to a lake. So there: my research on a possibly taxing 'pilgrimage' dug up an opportunity to try something fun with the family. Anyways: Sitting, Eating, and Walking (as referenced above) is part of the reason why I want to try the pilgrimage. It's (almost literally) all there is to do for 1200 kms!

I found out that writers are not necessarily artsy-fartsy types. The most successful writers are actually planning types with racing minds. 'don't know 'bout you, but that seems to describe someone I spend a lot of time with.

I've outlined two novels I'd like to write to begin with, one in a complete universe I've built, the other as a standalone novel.

Well, complete universe is a bit much. In fact, I realized that the idea I had for a cyberpunk future has already been effectuated by the Chinese in the 70's. All the way down to the political fuckup that enables the creation of the particular setting and the God damned need for close fly-bys to the nearest airport. Naturally William Gibson has already written a book on that setting so.... Fuck me.

I think I'll go ahead anyway because I love the setting and the political tension in enables me to play with.

So as the elevator pitch: The Kowloon Walled City locked in a Isreal/Palestine like conflict with the surrounding wealthy parts of the city. It's a military-drone monitored Berlin wall, meets cyberpunk, meets the extreme effects of Universal Basic Income, meets a conglomerate-run city, meets a city-wide eco-anarcist uprising.

Imagine the Kowloon Walled City but 80 stories high and ten times larger. Massive riots -after the local city council decided to demolish the area- escalated to full on guerilla war between the residents of the area (called The Well) and the surrounding boroughs (called The Shards). After prolonged guerilla-terrorism and political pressure a demilitarized zone was estables around The Well and the inhabitants we're effectively put under a multi decade siege. The wealthy part of the city is split into the economies of those who live solely on drugs and VR entertainment which incidentally fits exactly within the limits of the UBI and those who skim the top off of all those who live like that. The poor city, The Well, lives like a ecologically minded urban area where any kind of waste is heavily frowned upon. Every southfacing skyscraper (at the edge of the area) has been refitted to a complete hydroponic lab, as has every roof surface. Buildings have been torn down in a jagged pattern around the south of The Well to increase the surface area, and the slummiest buildings towards the middle of The Well have been torn down giving the entire area a look very much like a thick walled well (and fuck me this is exactly what the Kowloon Walled City looked like.). ... ty-anarchy

I have a lot of cool stories I want to write about how The Well was born, how defectors from either side try to escape across the DMZ, how crime and corruption works in The Shards, and how the anarchy and ecology-mindedness works inside The Well.

So far my novel-centric writing revolves mainly around fleshing out characters and their ideosynchracies, shuffling events around and gluing them together in the two novels I'm planning right now. To train my actual writing craft I've begun to write a three paragraph story every day. A small evocative piece to get used to writing, and expressing ideas succinctly and effectively. Then I edit the piece after a few days and the immediate emotions of writing it has died down, allowing me to edit with a bit more clarity.

So far I've tried to boil down the most important scenes of the books down into three paragraph stories to get used to writing, as well as getting familiar with how the scene actually evolves within the setting. It's really funny to sit there and watch your own imagination take you places you never planned to begin with. It's almost meditative.

I'm keeping a small notebook with me at all times to write down ideas as soon as they strike me. It's amazing how well it works. The more ideas you write down the more ideas you get. In fact I just came up with an new idea for a novel just now.

Job hunting:
The third -and last- startup venture was shut down. It was fun, and apparently employers abso-freakin'-lutely love people who've been involved in startups. So all in all I'm really glad I did it. It was also a good post-stress litmus test to get me back on a working schedule with a lot of freedom. It enabled me to get a feel for how well my brain still works. It definitely feels re-wired, and only time will tell if I can find a way to make it work. So now I'm officially unemployed. I've been through hydroponic horticulture, robotics, business planning, deep neural networks, reinforcement learning, ISO certifications, and the EU data privacy shitshow that is probably the best competitive moat I will never be able to swim across... ever!

I'm getting plenty of leads and help from my network, so with a bit of luck I'll be calling myself Data Scientist before too long. It's been almost two years since the last time I solved an actual problem, so I'm naturally rather anxious to see how I stack up now. I know for a fact that I can learn a lot of disjoint stuff, the big question now is just whether I can learn fast enough, and without wearing myself down again. There are indications that stress and depression tend to stick, and so once you've really been down the rabbit hole, you're highly susceptible to relapse. Time will tell. Of course I'd prefer to skim the high wages of a skill so high in demand as Data Science, especially given how many stressful years of my life I've alrady put into the endeavour, but if the working environment is conducive to more suicidal ideation, I'll be doing something else with my life rather than planning how to end it. Sunk Cost Fallacy might actually kill me this time, so let's not do that again.

But now, I have millions of citizens of a futuristic South American city that are about to die to militarized smallpox and they're not going to die unless I make them. Toodles!

[*] That is the first time the word Shikoku has been used on the ERE forums. Also: no one has ever used the word portyanki. [**]
[**] Not until now, that is!

[1] Fried rice with soy and sesame oil. Soup made from arame seaweed, barley miso, and katsuobushi flakes. Rangiri carrots with strips of cabbage fried in ketjap manis, mirin, and plenty of salt, with raw slices of radish. Smoked mackarel, soft boiled egg and a tuna mousse made of sesame oil, ume furikake, salt, and helman's mayo finally adding some fried strips of indeterminate non-shiitake black-and-white mushroom.[1.1].

[1.1] Have you ever noticed that food tends to sound delicious if it takes a lot of words to describe it? In reality it was a fish flavoured round of brownish veggy/rice goop[1.2].

[1.2] Even my footnote's footnotes has footnotes. Isn't that cool?

[2] And by meditated I mean slept for 15 minutes on the floor until the singing bowl chime that marks the end of the guided meditation woke me up, whereafter I rolled over on the side and napped for another 15 minutes.

Smashter wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:20 pm
@Fbeyer -- the first 350? Is this going to be the War and Peace of frugality books? :P
I imagine it'll go to 400, then get edited back down to 350 so... Yeah. At least 350 pages.

Unless of course the phrase: The first 350 pages, means that you suspect there is going to be 350 pages more. That it of course not the intention.

How quickly can you teach and show the average Joe:
  • the whys of applied non-suffering frugality.
  • the psychological basis of living well.
  • how to practice and counteract learned helplessness
  • the answers to the most common complaints

without referring to financial independence, but always anchoring the exposition in personal well-being rather than as a matter of herp-derp-saving-rate-at-the-expense-of-well being?

If you wanted to write the go-to book, for getting your financial attitude and financial practices in order, how would you do it?

Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength needs 350 (almost A4) pages to describe the squat, standing press, bench press, clean, and deadlift. Why spend 350 pages on that when you can watch 20 minutes of YouTube videos and be done? Is he writing the War and Peace of barbell training? Is there a reason why Rippetoe gets people lifting properly and YouTube videos don't? I whole-heartedly believe that people need all the in-depth help they can get so I'm writing a toolkit, rather than a from-A-to-Z book so my (potential) future readers have a place to look when they want to expand their skills when it comes to getting what they need without shelling out more than they need. But the basics need to be in order, and the basics of frugality has nothing to with money. So... :D

Finally: This Markov state space diagram of the stock market looks like a uterus... ... _space.svg

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:07 am

  • September 20th, 11:42. Post on facebook that I'm looking for a job.
  • September 20th, 15:03. Get a call from a data engineer looking to build a team for a consultancy firm that has just expanded their operations to include Data Science.
  • October 2nd, 14:02. Start of first interview.
  • October 4th, 08:43. Receive email that I'm to be called in for a personality test and a technical interview.
The company has a completely transparent bonus structure so you can choose to game the system in any way you like to increase income; fine.
The company handles a wealth of different tasks; good!
The company is well-known for flexible working hours and self-imposed work load; perfect!
But my code is about as rusty as a haunted house's swing set and my impostor syndrome is flaring up like a bout of hemorrhoids.


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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Thu Oct 04, 2018 7:52 am

October 4th, 14:32. Get a call from HR from another company who wants to see me for an interview.
Jeez. 'turns out that this whole I-rather-like-linear-algebra-and-computers things is working out for me.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by Dunkelheit » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:02 am

Dear FBeyer, I've read your journal all in one go and have to admit it is great, you are really GREAT! Maybe because I see myself closely related to you, with zillions of interests, sometimes anxious/depressed, some days unable to focus, beginning to study data science (any advice?) and many things more...

Did you get the job? Keep us informed! I loved reading about the "sitting and walking" philosophy, as well as your days at the start-up, what happened?

Hope to read some update soon. Good luck in your life!

pd: I can't wait for reading your "Optimal Life" book, man!

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by FBeyer » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:03 am

Thanks Dunkelheit, 'always nice to have fans. :D


FIRE is all over the Danish news, meanwhile the politicians are openly, and obviously, trying to figure out how to extend people's retirements into their eighties. The surge of level 1 FIRE noobs and their vocal nature about the topic makes me anxious about the political reaction to the movement. I fear that drastic measures will be made to ensure that FIRE becomes as difficult as possible here. The fallout from decades of economical mismanagement is being poured unto citizens at the moment and the current household-endorsed-fascism is prevalent enough that we can be painted as traitors to the system and punished for exiting the workforce. It's not the noobs that are the problem, but that the over arching feeling you get from the newcomers is that they hate the system and want nothing to do with it. That mental segregation is harmful in the long run. Even if you FIRE, you are still part of the system and you should act appropriately. You are not an island! We who aspire to FIRE should be ambassadors of goodwill, agency, sustainability, helpful conversation, and compassion. Buying an index fund and declaring the rest of the world inane is not only segregating, but harmful. We, as a movement, are not strong enough to resist the blowback if our abrasive numbers grow, but we will be if our numbers never become abrasive but liberating to society as a whole.

I really don't like the current turn of events in the news and I pray that it'll blow over soon.

I just hope that Bejders upcoming documentary will not fan the flames but shed light on the positive sides of the movement. The concept of FIRE seems too-far removed from the average citizen to spread in any other way but slowly and organically via experience and contact with people who are FIRE'd, not via the media.

There needs to be a more face-to-face like discussion, I feel, rather than a one-sided view.

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by just » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:28 am

I'm a Dane myself. Can you link to some of those news stories? I haven't noticed them, and overall I haven't noticed FIRE discussed much in the media (but I could be looking in the wrong places).

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Re: FI or bust; FBeyer.

Post by jacob » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:00 am

I suspect FBeyer gets "all his news from facebook" :lol: ... Nah, I haven't seen any headline/frontpage stuff. However, FIRE is definitely making the rounds in the "special interest" sections currently, i.e. morning TV, the random article, radioshows, etc. There's something new every other day and it's all aggregated by the Danish FIRE community.

WRT politicians I read a satirical onion-like article that the right would hate FIRE because early retirement would not contribute to the economic growth economy and the left would hate FIRE because living on less sends an unsympathetic signal to those who are struggling on their [higher] welfare income. It's funny, because it's true. I'm not superworried about politicians. They have limited targeting capability w/o stepping on someone's toes. If they hike capital taxes, rich people are going to complain (in any case, capital taxes are still lower than work income taxes). Even if they hike them to 100%, a FIRE person would still only need to work 25% as much because they need 75% less than the average consumer. One could imagine tying social services to one's assets in which case, welcome to the USA. It's not that bad. Or one could imagine requiring a 25 year work history to access certain government services (that's the situation I'm in wrt folkepension, fair enough) in which case I'll just pay my own way. The bigger dangers are direct capital taxes (e.g. 1%/year on savings over X ...) again this will hit rich people [with clout] far harder than FIRE people or head taxes (e.g. $X per year) ... but this will hit poor people far harder than FIRE people. Basically, I'm having a hard time coming up with something that will not cause more pain to more people than me/FIRE. Of course, just because I can't imagine it doesn't mean it's not possible.

Overall, though, there's very little you can do to a person who doesn't really need you, even if you're the government.

That said, we should certainly not be assholes to those who for one reason or another, self-imposed or not, are stuck working. I think some of my earlier stuff on the blog came across that way, so I understand that moderation can get lost in all the excitement.

What I do not think/like is the idea that "we should all keep this [FIRE] our little secret" so that the mean politicians don't come after our precious monies. Gollum, Gollum! There's still a lot of people who have never heard of these ideas but would very much like to do so.

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