Why was it “Too hard for George Smith?”

The influence of individual differences. Affordances and developing perception-action coupling


Winters in Llanberis (North Wales) can feel a bit like living in Mordor. Steep mountains hide the weak winter sun and the scars left by the slate quarries add to a landscape of stark desolation. So, like many of the local climbers, my winter evenings were often spent at the Beacon Climbing Centre in the bright, vibrant and social space of their indoor walls.

One evening at the Beacon, I bumped into an old friend and university colleague. While we chatted, he asked what boulder problem I was working on. I happily showed him a very balancy, slightly crouched traverse, with small holds. My friend had a go and was very disheartened when he could not pull onto the first move. He laughed. Then said that it was so frustrating that despite being able to climb multiple grades harder than I could on any rock or ice outside, there was no chance that he would ever be able to do this particular boulder problem. He was a mountain guide and very proficient rock climber, but for him, this was a rare visit to the wall and he was there to lead climb with an old friend. He concluded that he was too tall to squish into the space and not flexible enough to make the moves.

Then he told me a great story. He asked if I remembered Crooky (Martin Crook) from our time at university. Of course, who forgets Crooky? Well, Crooky climbed a lot with his friend Big George (Smith). Although both brilliant climbers, Crooky would often spend ages working routes, then George would have a go and cruise them. Because George was so tall, he could reach extra holds and often miss out crux moves. Then, in 1994, Crooky put up a short route with sketchy gear (now a popular high-ball boulder problem). The route, on Craig Fawr in North Wales, is described as simply ‘a striking finger crack,’ but is in fact, a very thin, striking finger crack. So thin, that when Big George first tried it, he couldn’t fit his fingers in it. As a jest, a mutual friend of theirs called Jim Perrin then persuaded a gleeful Crooky to name the climb ‘Too hard for George Smith!’

My friend said the story highlighted how much climbing was influenced by the movement opportunities made possible (afforded) by different physical attributes, like height, strength and flexibility. Routes, he told me, present different opportunities (affordances) to different people. He couldn’t do my boulder problem because he was not flexible enough, and too tall. However, I was not entirely convinced. It was a good story, but not the whole story. Of course, our physical attributes are very influential, but how often are they as absolute as the case of George’s big fingers? A lifetime of guiding and climbing risky routes with high consequences develops very different awareness to affordances (perception-action coupling) than working boulder problems in a warm, bright and safe indoor wall. And my friend did not boulder, he never had.

In part 2, we described working a boulder problem as practice that necessitates spending a lot of time in the ‘ugly zone’ of developing movement patterns. Trying, failing, exploring, failing again, until the rock becomes intimately known. Adam Ondra, commenting on his training schedule (in July 2018), said: “Training for climbing should most of all consist of climbing itself… In bouldering, it is the freest as it is simply about figuring out the craziest moves, learning new movement patterns, sometimes with a training partner as well.”

In traditional climbing, this is not the case. The affordances are very different, leading to a different style of practice. Serious consequences and high levels of risk mean that the development of perception-action coupling is more about the wider perceptual field and decision making, rather than pulling ‘crazy moves.’ Reading subtle nuances in the weather, rock and ice features, environmental stability, gear placements, and analysing cumulative risk. Each move is only made once, not explored, pushed to fail, or repeated.


Sea cliff part 2 BS climbing
Nathaniel Fuller controlling the fear on the the lead at West Cape Howe, Western Australia. © Dane Ehm Photography


Practice in this environment leads to the development of different perception-action coupling, hence my inability to climb as skilfully on trad routes. Outside, I was not as experienced or skilful as him. When leading I was very happy, comfortable being in control, confident in my attunement to the wider environment and making decisions in complex situations. But seconding was another matter altogether. After some early bad experiences, I could get stuck trying to make simple moves on relatively easy grades, due to an irrational lack of confidence in someone else’s leading. This changed my ability to perceive and utilise the affordances normally available to me. I decided that just as I could become more skilled at trad climbing by practising in higher anxiety contexts, it would have been possible for my friend to climb my boulder problem. He just needed to spend some time loosening up his knees, being out-of-balance, slightly crouched and trying crazy moves. And Big George? Well, apparently, he still hasn’t climbed ‘Too hard for George Smith.’ So I guess some individual constraints just can‘t be overcome…


Opportunities for exploring solutions

 What does this mean to us as instructors and coaches? Adventure sports are outcome orientated (you try to ski, bike, paddle or climb your line successfully), rather than form, like gymnastics or figure skating (although the outcome is still very important).

Adventure sports require a mixture of balance and coordination, with an ability to ‘read’ the environment. This resonates with the way that Sam practised his climbing in part 2, Adam Ondra’s training descriptions, and the experiences of the elite performers in part 1. Both Aled and JD described the opportunities for movement (or affordances) that their respective environments were offering them. Affordances that, to me, were totally alien and did not exist!

Using Newell’s (1986) model, we can describe learning as developing the ability to organize various body parts (i.e. neurons, muscles and joints), in coordination with each other (known as co-coordinative structures, or coordination patterns), and in response to opportunities for movement (affordances), that seem possible from perceptual information picked up from the environment. In other words, this describes the development of perception-action coupling. That elusive ‘feel!’ Instead of assuming an internal focus of attention, we focus on the person-task-environment interaction and allow our movement system to self-organise. Improving this interaction requires developing a keen attunement to affordances, through lots of exploration. There is no single ‘correct’ way to solve perception-action problems. We bring our own set of individual opportunities and constraints to each situation, and these continue to evolve through time (e.g. as new information becomes available, as we move, become increasingly tired, or nervous).


Girls can do powerful moves BS climbing
Karina White showing that girls can climb powerful routes on F*ck the Law (25), Kalbarri, Western Australia. © Dane Ehm Photography


In dynamic environments, no two performance movements or decisions are likely to be identical. This repetition (of outcome) without repetition (of movements), is achieved by practising in a way that encourages problem-solving and movement variability. Extensive practice, by experimenting with lots of movement solutions in realistic environments, increases the development of perception-action coupling. Some of which may be completely implicit and sub-conscious. This is the ability to ‘read’ the environment and respond appropriately. As a result, practising ‘trying to repeat perfect technique’ will not develop perception-action coupling!

For improving perception-action coupling, we need to focus on two key aspects:

  1. Developing the self-organising adaptive coordination patterns needed for our particular sport;
  2. Developing an ability to identify and use relevant perceptual information in the performance environment.


Representative Learning Design

So, this is the important bit. The two parts of skilled performance need to be learnt together – perception and action! As humans, we have evolved to learn (and adapt) movement patterns within an environment; not to learn a movement pattern first, then try to impose it onto the environment after.

In summary, we learn to move skilfully by developing coordination patterns that are linked to perceptual information in the environment. This perception-action coupling requires a focus on all relevant information (e.g. visual, auditory, haptic [touch and pressure], kinaesthetic) that can inform movement options. We each have, and continue to develop our own unique movement options. These are constrained by a mixture of our physical attributes, what we perceive, what we think we can do, and what we want to achieve. When we focus on achieving a goal, and the relevant perceptual information, our movement patterns ‘self-organise’ within the real-time constraints presented at that moment.

To learn adaptive skills, like those required in adventure sports, we need to explore lots of movement solutions, in an environment that is real (i.e. authentic with regards to the perceptual information available). This includes ‘affective’ or emotional states and stresses that are likely to be experienced during a performance. To develop full-body coordination, we need to practice in a way that preserves full-body movement. This is referred to as a ‘Representative Learning Design’ or RLD. In part 4, we’re going to pull the first 3 parts of this series together, exploring how we become attuned to information that is relevant to us, and how to structure practice in a way that defines appropriately sized (and representative) ‘search spaces’ for exploring movement solutions and decision making.


This article was written by Marianne and Sam Davies.

Acknowledgements: There are so many people we spend time talking to and discussing ideas, both within academia and practitioners in the field. The conversations, the research, edits, re-edits and proofreads are all such an important part of the process. We would especially like to say thank you to Martin Crook for taking the time to talk through and corroborate my friend’s story, and to Greg Spencer for his proofreading and suggestions.

Learning in the ugly zone: the importance of play and exploration.

The Ugly Zone

Finding the zone of optimal learning

While watching and listening to skilled performers I have noticed that they all seem to be happy, even passionate, about operating at a level where they are at the edge of their ability. They make mistakes, explore options, try new things and then push a little harder to see what happens. I’ve watched gymnasts, climbers, skaters, and paddlers spend hours, days and even months fervidly working certain moves and problems.


Skilled performers seem to delight in engaging at the edges of their ability; trying, failing, trying again, failing again. Like children playing, they are exploring while they are practising: intently focussed, moving and perceiving, making decisions and problem-solving. All the time they are building on what is necessary for skill development in the context in which they are operating. Their internal dialogue is more “I wonder what will happen if…?” rather than “I must try and do it like this.”


In this article, I develop concepts for understanding what is going on when performers develop their skills through play and exploration. When what they have done in the past starts to break down and they find new solutions beginning to emerge. I look at how grasping the value of performance instability and making mistakes allows us to get beyond traditional ideas of linear progression. This then leads to a way of talking about what happens to skill when we increase the challenge – and to a tool to help us plan and structure our practice.


Embracing the ugly!

We know skill development takes place in doing (in the perception-action workspace) and is not a reflection of what performance may look like at the end of a practice session. Sessions that involve lots of effort and look ugly usually lead to good retention of the learning and transfer to other contexts. Sessions, where performance looks great and effortless at the end, will often result in poor retention and transfer. This is well known and well researched in theories of learning (i.e. the contextual interference-effect). However, this concept is still a challenge to both performers and coaches who have been conditioned to value sessions where the coach gives all the answers and the performance looks much improved at the end.


I have spent a lot of time thinking about what a non-linear learning curve might look like. Humans are complex systems and there are so many variables and so many interactions that it can be hard to identify and make sense of the patterns in the complexity. By incorporating all of the nuanced complexity into one dimension of ‘overall challenge‘ we end up with a pattern (a learning curve) that can help us to design learning environments.


Overall challenge contains all of the constraints that are present and influential to a particular performance situation (individual, task and environmental). Some of these constraints we can influence and change, and some we can’t. Challenge is not just about task complexity and skill level. The overall challenge includes things such as physiological and psychological arousal, perceived support, confidence, resilience, fatigue, speed, power output, consequence, environment and risk.


Dynamics Learning (ugly) Curve (Davies and Davies, 2019)

The dynamics challenge-performance learning curve, adapted from Davies and Davies (2019) is an ecological dynamics model of optimal challenge for learning. It is based on the self-organising properties of movement dynamics (e.g. Kelso, 1984) the ‘cusp catastrophe model’ (Thom, 1923; Hardy & Fazey, 1987) the ‘challenge point framework’ (Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004) and Dave Alred’s (2015) concept of the ‘ugly zone’.


In our model, ‘overall challenge’ is represented by the x-axis. The y-axis represents ‘performance outcome’ and the curve represents the performance solution (for example; a movement or decision-making pattern).


Entering the ugly zone

Now we have a model and curve that reflects our understanding of what we see and which fits with how skill development is understood by everyone from skilled athletes to researchers working within the ecological dynamics theoretical framework. Most importantly, it starts with the idea that when we increase the challenge by changing things we can control, performance starts to become unstable (ugly). This is where learning and performance development gains are made.


To destabilise movement coordination patterns we can adjust things like the required level of balance and agility (for example faster water or a less stable craft for a kayaker or surfer; or a smaller, higher beam for a gymnast to balance on). Other ways we can introduce instability include the increase of speed, power output, movement complexity, consequence or fatigue (for pretty much any sports).  A more unusual example would be setting speed or power levels that sit at a movement transition point (for example trotting a horse slowly enough that a walk or piaffe gait [jigging on the spot, to the uninitiated] compete as possible movement patterns for the horse).


If improved decision making and adaptability is the goal of your session, you could set practice tasks where there is more than one possible option for the performer. This would include such things like setting distances that lend themselves to a variety of throwing or kicking solutions, or changing rules, consequences, space and boundaries.


What is important is that changes in patterns of movement, decision-making, perceiving and thinking come from practising at a level where current patterns become destabilised (the ‘metastable state’) developing perception-action coupling in context. Here, all of the necessary elements for performance will eventually be developed (including things like strength, postural tone, perceptual acuity, etc.), allowing new patterns to self-organise and emerge.


What happens when we put the emergence, stabilisation, destabilisation and switching of patterns into a challenge-performance curve? It looks ugly! We get the Dynamics Learning Curve (Davies & Davies, 2019). In this learning curve, Davies and Davies have named the metastable state ‘the ugly zone’. This term was coined by Dr Dave Alred to describe the area just beyond your current ability, where you will try and fail, but try again with support, encouragement, reward, self-esteem and energy. As Dave Alred, beautifully describes in his book, The Pressure Principle,

Children throw themselves into their ugly zone while they are practically drowning in excitement (to play) and have no fear of failure“.


Building ugly zones

Sometimes we need to build an ugly zone to start with, especially if we are novices or have lost confidence or learnt to fear failure. This can be thought of as a resilience zone. Motivation, supportive relationships and learning environments are recognised as very influential and important. The same applies when we are learning to become a skilful coach. In order to understand how the individual, task and environmental constraints can be adjusted to create an optimal learning experience for different individuals, we coaches need to be able to explore and play in our own ugly zones of coaching practice.


A skilled coach will be able to adjust relevant constraints and move people around in their ugly zone. The old adage of ‘change one thing at a time’ does not hold in a non-linear system. Sometimes many elements will need to be adjusted to allow the successful scaling of one control parameter in a way that gives reliable outcomes for the learner at an appropriate level of challenge. For example, you may need to reduce things like consequence, speed and anxiety in order to increase task complexity. Like a big complicated, non-linear graphic equaliser.


Sam Davies embracing his ugly zone and skilfully reading the rock on KGB at Willyabrup in Western Australia. Photo by Siu On.


Making ugly zones work – search space and high validity learning 

Obviously, there is more to designing great practise than just randomly increasing and decreasing the challenge level. By identifying what is actually limiting our performance, practice sessions can be designed to be more effective. This may entail developing more adaptive movement patterns and decision making, or it could include anything from muscular strength, postural and tonus control, balance, coordination, perceptual acuity or confidence and motivation.


We will look at the concept of ‘search spaces’ and high validity learning environments in the next article: “Snow, Rabbits and Pooh Sticks.” As a coach, defining a search space for someone is a way of setting a challenge instead of giving them the answer you think they may need. Ideally, the challenge is at a level where it is like a good detective story, compelling them to dive into their ugly zone to solve the problem. This fits with Olly Logan’s concept of ‘providing handrails not handcuffs‘. A search space is created and adapted by setting appropriate practice tasks and providing information (for example, giving instructions, demonstrations, and feedback).


The following useful concepts will be explored in more detail:

Snow – when the search space includes incidental information that is easy to perceive and could be mistaken as relevant information (that contains affordances) for perception-action coupling (like mistaking a correlation for causation). This is more likely to happen when practice environments do not offer comparable perceptual cues to performance environments or when there is low practice variability.
Rabbits – when the ugly zone is filled up with things like unnecessary anxiety, stress, fatigue, social pressure and non-supportive environments. These can use up all the ‘play and exploration’ space leaving none for learning.
Pooh Sticking – when we manage to do something, but we don’t know what actually worked. Or we were not in control. This often happens when trying something too far outside of current ability and not being able to pick out the relevant affordances from the rest of the perceptual information. This is also likely to happen where there is a lack of effort, concentration or commitment.
Handrails – information that helps to highlight an aspect of the search space and provide an anchor for the skill we are trying to develop.
Handcuffs – information (usually technical templates) that constrains our learning, disrupts movement exploration and will get in the way of us developing long term adaptive expertise.


Understanding the ugly curve

So, in summary, if we want to change a movement pattern, a way of problem-solving, making decisions or perceiving we need to embrace ugly zones and become comfortable with instability and making mistakes. However, we also need to recognise when confidence and increased performance stability are needed. The ugly curve gives us a way of talking about what happens to skill when we increase the challenge. It highlights the range of the optimal levels of challenge to help us plan and structure our practice.

The ugly zone is the transition to new possibilities.  Learning happens when we play and explore in it with focus, effort and passion.


The Ugly Zone


Want to learn more? Look out for the next part by visiting our website https://dynamics-coaching.com/ or our blogs at https://dynamics-coaching.com/our-blog/

Please email for the list of references and recommended reading: marianne@dynamics-coaching.com

Marianne Davies, Sam Davies and Greg Spencer

About the Authors 

Marianne Davies; Marianne has been involved in coaching for over 25 years. She has worked mostly with adventure sports, as a coach, coach educator, QA/IV officer, and national trainer. Marianne was the Coaching Manager for Canoe Wales (Paddlesports NGB) for nearly eight years. She has an undergraduate degree in Sport Health & Physical Education, an MRes (distinction) in motivation and learning and is currently doing a PhD with Keith Davids developing models of skill acquisition in equestrian sports coaching. Marianne also runs Dynamics Coaching with her son, Sam.

Sam Davies; After Sam completed an undergraduate degree in geology and geophysics, he studied a Masters’ degree (MSc) in applied sports psychology, under the supervision of Professor Lew Hardy. He is now completing a PhD in human behaviour, creativity and the development of expertise in mineral exploration decision-making.

Greg Spencer has been involved in adventure sport and sports coaching since the 1980s and is Chair of British Canoeing’s Regional Development Team in Yorkshire and Humberside. He has a postgraduate research focus on human development in education and sports coaching and a background spanning from history and anthropology to critical theory and hermeneutics.

Copyright remains with the authors.

Developing Skill Part 2. The climbing version!

Information, autonomy and playing in the ‘ugly zone’. 


This article was written jointly by Marianne and Sam Davies.

Becoming Skilful

Like many parents, I owe so much of my learning to my son; Sam. The sheer intensity of my passion and love for him, and the resulting attention I paid to him and his experiences have taught me a lot. Watching him learning and exploring adventure sports was both terrifying and exhilarating. I tried to stop myself telling him to ‘be careful’ and I revelled in our shared experiences and his sheer joy and ability, despite him becoming more proficient than me at everything except horse riding, by the time he was just 18 years old.


Watching, questioning and practising

Despite growing up in Llanberis, Sam’s interest in climbing only started when he attended university at Imperial College London. Once he finished university in London, Sam started a masters’ degree in Bangor in Applied Sports Psychology and moved back to North Wales. Much time was then spent bouldering and climbing on the fabulous range of natural climbing venues for which North Wales is justifiably famous. This was supplemented by indoor climbing and regular trips away. Damp days were often spent bouldering in the shelter of the fiercely overhanging Parisella’s Cave in Llandudno.


Problems that were initially impossible to get off the ground would surrender to time, intently watching and exchanging beta with other climbers, experimentation, and deep deliberate practice. The intensity of practice was matched by the camaraderie of the groups of climbers. To me, as an occasional visitor, it reminded me of the days when a much younger Sam and his friends would spend hours and hours working skating moves on a rail set up in our garden.


One day Sam ventured down to the sea cliff of Lower Pen Trwyn (LPT) to try his hand at some of the sport routes. After warming up on an easier climb, he decided to try Night Glue. This classic F7a+ starts out with steep moves on good holds and then the cliff becomes less steep and the holds get smaller, finishing with a few thin moves to the lower off. He set off on-sight (not knowing the sequence, or having previously tried any of the moves) in the hope that the skills he had developed at Parisella’s would be sufficient to get him to the top.

Emma Tw pic 1
Emma Twyford defying gravity on The Big Bang (F9a) at Lower Pen Trwyn (LPT) on The Great Orme. Photo by John Bunney.


Although relatively easy, the steep moves at the beginning quickly began to tire his forearms. After the steep start, the headwall is only slightly overhanging, giving Sam a chance to rest on some moderately sized crimps. He then made his way up the overhanging face on small, meandering holds, moving fluidly, conserving his energy as much as possible. I stood at the bottom of the route with Rocio, watching (and belaying) intently.


On reaching the crux he couldn’t see how to climb past it to the top. With rapidly tiring forearms, he shouted down to Rocio to ask for advice. Rocio had climbed the route earlier that day and she had used a dynamic move to get past the crux by throwing for a crimp. Sam was not confident he could make such a move. Instead, he quickly opted for a different solution. Realising he could get a high foot and rock-over in the general direction of the hold that Rocio had described, he went for that, hoping that he would be able to inch his way up until he could reach the crimp.


Sam pulled through the crux and cruised to the top. He had a big grin on his face when he reached the ground. Although he’d been bouldering pretty hard at Parisella’s, this was his first flash (not on-sight, since Rocia had shouted up some advice) of a F7a+ sport climb. It was a good day.


What information was Sam using?

Sam had been confident of trying an on-sight ascent because of the time he had spent at Parisella’s. He was sure of his ability to read and understand the features of the rock. However, the limestone in Parisella’s is actually quite different to LPT, with the bouldering taking place on very steep ground and often using flat holds or even drilled pockets, whereas LPT is natural sea cliff limestone and is sharp and rugged with only small crimps and edges.


With our shared passion for sports psychology and skill acquisition, we talked through his climbing experience later that day. The bouldering had been useful for developing the strength needed to pull through the steep early section of the climb and for him to be comfortable standing on the small polished (i.e. slippy) limestone footholds at the Great Orme. But, Sam realised that he would not have been able to flash Night Glue if he hadn’t developed route reading skills and endurance from face climbs on rhyolite in the Llanberis Valley. Without his previous training on indoor sport climbs he would not have learnt to use, and develop the endurance required to recover on the small holds. Finally, the crux was overcome by a move which he’d perfected on the slate cliffs of the Dinorwic quarry, where he had become very good at high foot rock-overs on tiny edges.

Sam on slate
Sam Davies honing his skills on the slate climbing in the Dinorwic Quarries.


The extensive hours of climbing on limestone and in other environments had given Sam a deep and detailed understanding of the rock. It had also developed his understanding of his own climbing abilities and what features he could and could not use across a range of rock types. This had honed his ability to link the perceptual information available to him, to tactical decisions and movement outcomes, both consciously and unconsciously. He was learning to recognize the rock features and affordances.


So, what do we mean by the term affordances? This is a concept coined by the perceptual psychologist, James Gibson to explain how we individually make sense of the world around us in terms of what movement and actions we are offered (afforded) by the environment in which we find ourselves. For each of us, these are unique, but many basic ones are shared because we share many experiences. We are also, as a species, attuned to pick up the same perceptual information (more or less).  The features that most climbers use are very similar; the easiest and most obvious lines up the rock face and the most efficient ways to move through the features. These affordances are perceived directly and much of our movement requires no conscious control.


Some of these affordances are shared between the climbers, others are not. Climbing, watching, listening, sharing ideas with the other climbers with their different physiologies, strengths and levels of ability, had given Sam the opportunity to experience a hugely rich variety of movement solutions. Due to the difficulty of the bouldering at Parisella’s, time there is often an experience shared with many exceptional climbers. Sometimes watching the other climbers generated entirely new opportunities for Sam. It offered creative solutions that he had never even thought of, firing his imagination, inspiring, and offering new possibilities.

Caff on Strawberries
James McHaffie focusing intently on the fierce Strawberries (E6 6b), Tremadoc. Photo by Jethro Kiernan Photography


Working a boulder problem is a great example of highly motivated, highly autonomous, deep practice. It necessitates spending a lot of time in the ‘ugly zone’. Trying, failing, exploring, failing again, until the rock becomes intimately known. How it feels to touch, tiny features, the effects of small temperature and humidity changes, the afforded rhythm and musicality. When you can pause on a feature.  When you need to move through it. Timing the transfer of power from hold to momentum. The spontaneous jolt of sheer, systemic exhilaration when a move works and feels fluid. Both Aled and JD (in part 1) described worlds that they were tightly attuned to, and Sam’s description of his bouldering experiences made me think back to those conversations. Sam was becoming skilful through developing affordances; his ability to perceive the rock in great detail and use and interact with the features that he perceived.


On Night Glue, Sam had asked for beta from Rocio to allow him to reduce the amount of information available and make a quick decision (before he pumped out and fell off). However, the moves that Rocio had used to get past the crux were not available to Sam. He did not have the same skills or perception-action coupling to be able to capably mimic what she had done, but her advice did help to focus his efforts towards reaching a specific hold. And he was then able to adapt experience from another environment and rock type to develop a solution to the problem that he faced.


In this example, Sam was trying to climb a sport route on-sight. This required him to route read on-the-fly; taking in information and the affordances presented to him by the rock as he was climbing. His perception of these affordances and the solutions he was able to come up with were specific to his immediate physical abilities (including how pumped he was), but they were also limited by his imagination and existing repertoire of climbing moves.


The process of matching affordances to movement solutions is known as perception-action coupling. In the next instalment of the Developing Skill series, we will look into perception-action coupling in more detail.


Acknowledgements: There are so many people we spend time talking to and discussing ideas, both within academia and practitioners in the field. The conversations, the research, edits, re-edits and proofreads are all such an important part of the process. We would like to say thank you to Eric Brymer for his proofreading and suggestions.