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>Is it acceptable to use "self" as a local variable name (when it's not a 

Sure. There's nothing sacred about "self". The construct "function f:m()"
is sugar for "function f.m(self)", but that's all. If you prefer to use "this"
instead of "self" you can write your methods as ""function f.m(this)" and
still use f:m() when calling them.