Pearl River Drama: A Memoir

PRD_cover

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQQIA26

 

I have now completed my memoirs, in eBook form.

You may be familiar with the Dating in China blogs already, but there’s more to the story…

I have decided to edit them, and put them out there as an eMemoir of sorts on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Press.

Yet, this is not just a simple copy-paste and proofread for typos. Since this version isn’t all out there online for free, I have written more to the story. Certain personal, more graphic details. Certain things left unsaid that would be unbecoming on a public forum.

Not to mention further chapter continuing where the blog left off, and an epilogue.

If you’ve enjoyed my writings this past year, you may enjoy taking a look. And if you’d like to write a review on Amazon yourself, I will happily forward you a copy!

Even if you only have fond memories of reading the previously-blogged edition and prefer to leave it at that, it would be very considerate if you shared some thoughts. Positive or negative, tell the world what you think. Link above.

Thanks very much to all you readers out there!

 

 

— —

When one nerdy, young American moved from California to China in the autumn of 2008, he had no idea what was coming. He knew there would be an adventure and it would have its challenges, but he didn’t know it could get that bad.

From the deserts of Black Rock City, Nevada, to the towering metropolis of Hong Kong, this memoir takes our humble writer all across the globe in search of love. Well, maybe not always searching for love, but in search for something.

It starts on a psychedelic trip in Burning Man, and continues in the “overnight city” of Shenzhen. That’s in the Pearl River Delta, among the densest megacities on Earth. In breakup after breakup, one lonely expat struggles to understand the Chinese mystique. Featuring an ensemble cast of international girls, he had many experiences and leaned a few lessons along the way. The story continues to further exotic locations: Beijing, Canton, Bangkok, Manila, Ohio, the ruins of Cambodia, and Seattle.

Once or twice, he may have even found love. And lost it. Hearts were broken. Minds were mended. All in a haze of romance encounters, online dating, and travel.

This is his story. Complete with travel photos, and quotations from “Seinfeld” and Mo Yan.

DATING IN CHINA

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DATING IN CHINA


(Table of Contents)

Firstly, from 2008 on:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

GUANGZHOU YEAR
In the city… the city of Canton…

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/
the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

 

2012

Back to Shenzhen
In which I return to this town that somehow suits me

Emma
I begin the online game~

Jeanie
I have a girlfriend! I really did!

Yuki
I must admit, things got a tad gross.
Hope this wasn’t the beginning of a certain pattern…

 

2013: Epic Clusterfuck Year

Not Dating in America (and Hong Kong, and Canada)
2012 comes and goes and the world doesn’t end,
Meanwhile a bad start as I embark upon a year of drama bullshit

The Stalker
In which I make a foul choice which ends up following me around all year.
Dark times. No fun.

Carmen
I meet someone cool and travel to the Philippines
A brief positive note, albeit all too brief

Sonia – Jing – Amelia
POF, a site, met some peoples from differing lands, times are had,
and then I quit online dating forever more

The Very End
And I do mean it, the very very end.
I reflect and I consider and now it is time to move forward–

Shenzhen Daily

SZ Daily
Occasionally I write (and edit) for the local English-language newspaper of Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Daily. All very official. The only English daily in South China…

It’s not much in the realm of hardcore investigative journalism, but some fun lite reads herein. Here are a few humble lite posts worth resharing:

Hong Kong ASSEMBLING Art Exhibition Features Shenzhen-based Artists

Shenzhen-Based Artist Wins Award in Hong Kong

Interview/Restaurant Review: Canadian Opens Vegan Restaurant

Book Review: Good Chinese Wife

Book Review: No City for Slow Men

Film Review: The Wind Rises

Futian District: A Holiday at Lianhua Hill

Interview: American Expat to Run Marathon in Australia

Interview: Expat Cycles to India for Good Cause

Interview: American Starting Local Volunteer Group

Editorial: Kimmel’s Apology Merits Acceptance

Restaurant Review: Vegetarian Oasis

DATING IN CHINA – MY GUANGZHOU YEAR

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Canton Tower
I was there, man

 

 

Previously: DATING IN CHINA – MEGAPOST 1
Covering the years 2008 – 2011

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

 

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

Dating – China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

Stayin’ upbeat

Continue reading

DATING IN CHINA – MEGAPOST 1

And now for your reading enjoyment. In case you missed it before. Allow me to lay it all out.

Megapost of my personal dating memoirs, covering the time span of August, 2008 to February, 2011

Links, from the beginning:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

Continue reading

Book Review: The Tibetan Affair

tibetan affair book cover

http://www.amazon.com/The-Tibetan-Affair-Three-stories-ebook/dp/B00JTI91WM

The Tibetan Affair by Wang Xiao Hui is a novella which also includes two short stories. An interesting look into the world of Chinese journalists and the conflicts in Tibet, the main novella offers a readers an opportunity a window to observe this little-known scene.

The introduction comes slowly at first, opening with the personal lives and drama of the Beijing TV crew before they head to Tibet. There are interesting anecdotes along the way, such as the issue of altitude sicknesses and various vices.

Mainly the story centers around Mickey, who is bored of his wife and loves a younger coworker. Trouble comes when they do get to Tibet, from rocks thrown at trains to sexual tension in the hotel room.

Largely a critique of both the reactionary Chinese government and the hypocritical, submissive media, the journalists interview the police who expound on their obviously ridiculous views about foreigners the CIA and the Dalai Lama… Then conversations start to get more cynical, with takes on selling out your own country. The truth comes out and there is a bit of real journalism, but in a certain self-serving way.

But that’s just a backdrop to the romantic plot, which is the meat of the story. The sex scenes are quite steamy. Dreams are a constant theme as well; sexual dreams, dreams of jealousy, and strange nightmares. The plot patiently develops until the romantic plot overlaps with the journalism plot, and then they literally *climax* into a tragic ending.

It’s all too brief, and sometimes the story could have used more action and more character development. There are interesting vignettes and intriguing descriptions, but just not enough going on. The Tibetan Affair is very much worth a read, but it would have been a stronger story with simply more going on.

Continue reading

SZ Daily: American expat to run marathon in Australia

running sanfran 2

 

http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2014-05/26/content_2886947.htm

DEE FULLER, a 33-year-old American from Erie, Pennsylvania, is one of Shenzhen’s most athletic and charitable expats. She is a fitness instructor and a bicycle enthusiast as well, bypassing rush hour crowds on public transport and instead biking everywhere, sometimes from as far as Luohu train station to Sea World in Shekou. Now she has made the decision to utilize her athletic prowess by running the Big Red Run marathon in Australia, which raises money to fund programs that help combat type 1 diabetes.

A long-term expat, Fuller’s been in China for a full decade. After majoring in Chinese culture and psychology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., she first worked at a school in the states. Then, when the dean heard about her educational background in Chinese culture, which includes her thesis on Li Bai and Song Dynasty (960-1279) poetry — she was invited to teach in Beijing.

“I was in Beijing for 17 months,” said Fuller. “Then I was in Guangzhou for six-and-a-half years before ending up in Shenzhen.”

Although she studied the culture, she didn’t have any language skills upon arrival. Today she is fluent, but it took a lot of work. “When I first arrived, my Chinese students asked questions and I didn’t know how to communicate the answers,” Fuller explained. “I decided I wanted to understand more, and I immersed myself in Chinese. I mainly read children’s books.”

Six years ago, she decided to expand on her experiences by becoming a fitness instructor. “Spinning was my first class, and then I started to get involved in yoga and Pilates.”

Fuller also became a certified coach for the New Zealand company Les Mills. “I’m now a certified nutritionist. I have ISSA certificate.”

With Les Mills, she helps train Chinese instructors who will later teach international customers. Sometimes that means teaching the Western cultural perspective in addition to fitness techniques. “There is culture behind dance. From Latin beat to pop ballet, EDM to disco — it’s very important to know the culture behind it.”

“On May 29th, I’m doing an event at Tavern sports bar in Shekou to raise money for type 1 diabetes awareness,” continued Fuller. “There will be a raffle, lucky draw, and more.”

In July, she plans to go all the way to Australia to participate in the Big Red Run marathon, an intense 6-day marathon covering 250 kilometers that brings together volunteers from all over the world and raises funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“I want to get back to being involved in charity work. I used to donate my time in America with the Salvation Army and the Special Olympics. Since I moved to China I haven’t had as many opportunities. This is a chance to do something I love for a bigger purpose outside of me,” Fuller said, “It just feels good when you do it.”

More information can be found on the Big Ren Run website, bigredrun.com.au.

Intro to Dating in China

I think I’m old enough at this point to begin considering my memoirs.

How about a series focusing on that ever-fascinating subject: girls?

Please allow me to introduce this new blog category: Dating in China

After years and years of commitment issues, the stories have stacked up. The innocent, the naïve, the loved, the forgettable, and the mistakes. I could tell a few stories. Of the young, the old; the crazies, the addicts; the rich, the poor. Memories I will keep forever. Some were so breathtaking, others settling. Nice. Mean. Smart. Never stupid. And the one psycho who eternally holds a place in my heart.

Well. I’ve never really been one to high-five with the bros over my conquests. I’ve sincerely kept most of this to myself for greater part of my life. Now simply seems like the right time to put it all out there.

Still, I must admit this will get rather self-indulgent. Deal with it. I have made the decision to embrace my inner narcissist, and why not?

I do worry this may be pandering. I have always had goals of literary merit, but this is sure to be pure emo gossipyness. On the other hand, I try to take the writing process seriously and perhaps it’s good for the soul to share. I shall do my best to go over this subject matter in an intriguing and mature fashion. And people out there may even enjoy the read.

The names have been changed to protect the guilty as they say. Obviously.
Continue reading

Book Review: The Exact Unknown

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Isham Cook is quite the blogger. The mysterious Beijing-based writer has completed a new book of blogs reformatted as literary short tales entitled “The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China,” a follow-up to 2012’s novel “Lust & Philosophy.” Full of grotesque universal truths, strange depictions of Eastern modernity, and the proverbial expats caught in the middle, the book can be flawed in sections but is always a compelling read.

In the introduction Cook explains to readers that he doesn’t want to write about the exotic, tragic China so popularized by fifth generation art films of the 80s and 90s. But rather, as the title states, it’s about modern China. He also clarifies why he uses the term ‘tale’ instead of short story, in order to have a broader outlook covering all aspects of writing from the semi-autobiographical to straight fiction.

The book is erotic, funny, and sometimes profound. Sexuality is a central theme, but doesn’t always take itself too seriously. Even the most philosophical elements are never dry or academic, but with just the right amount of absurdity to entertain as well as enlighten.

“The Persistent” is first, jumping us right into the subject of dating in China. The tale concerns an obsessive woman who won’t go away, and the narrator describes more than a few of his own experiences with Chinese women. The stalkers, the 30-somethings, the virgins. The line “foreign men in this country do tend to attract the psychos of the female population” sums up well what much of these tales are about.  As does a subsequent sentence, issuing no judgments: “This is not necessarily a bad thing.” That’s a bit of the point, wild things happen in China and that’s the reason to be there.

The namesake “The Exact Unknown” concerns seduction via vodka massage, the Surveillance State, a plot about blackmailing over a video which may or may not exist, and in a literally-anticlimactic ending it concludes with no sex. It could almost enter the realm of Philip K. Dick over the speculations upon reality, but ends too prematurely for that kind of depth.

“iProstitution” is one of the funniest pieces, ostensibly about the selling of one’s body for Apple products but really more about sexual frustration in general. “A Little Accident” is refreshingly not about foreigners at all, an original short story just concerning Chinese characters. Again portraying reality as ambiguous, it concerns an elderly man who may or may not be cheating a young woman (and/or doctors cheating her) and the subject of Chinese Medicine which may or may not work at all.

“Good Teacher, Bad Teacher” takes the oft-used campus setting as far as it can go, with an intense Western teacher expounding upon philosophy and culminates in mysterious naked yoga massage advanced courses. There is the unresolved mystery of “Paradox,” whereas an interesting premise is set up with mysterious nude pictures of students emerging yet in the end there is never is a true explanation, no resolution.

“The Curious Benefits of Neurosis” is about various massages, some of which get quite graphic. And hilarious at the same time! The first-person narratives are often the strongest, and (so one assumes) the closest to autobiography.

Some tales like not much of narratives at all. “The Mean and the Angry” is not so much a story as a description of various Beijing subway archetypes. At times it seems as insider knowledge of Beijing is required, and if a reader is not familiar with greater Middle Kingdom tropes then the whole thing may be hard to follow. Still, the audience is sure to mostly consist of expats.

“Let the Sunshine In” is among the best, a truly engaging work of drug literature about a naïve Chinese student’s first LSD experience. Very vivid descriptions of a bathroom setting, which tends to be a terrifying and confusing place when having a bad psychedelic trip. Not to mention the chronological distortions at play.

Two tales are written in play script formats are used, with “The Hickey” and the penultimate “Reset.” They read well as prose in of themselves. It’s hard to expect that anyone will ever act out the plays in real life, with the copious nudity and sex scenes and all; but it’s nice to imagine. “Reset” is the longest piece in the book, about sentient robotic sex toys. The tale is extremely philosophical, hard science fiction, and well-written social commentary/speculation on the future of China and all humanity’s sexual relationships.

The final story, “Injaculation” is written in the second person and mixes Taoist sexuality with hard scientific biological-psychedelic principles. There is a diverse range of writing styles, but same themes keep coming up…

The author clearly has a vivid imagination, and is talented at the craft of writing. Still, whether semi-autobiographical or not, it would be nice to not lean so often on the cliché of expat teacher in China. There are expats doing other things, and maybe more Chinese protagonists would be nice. While the setting is something that Cook is truly an expert on, and he really writes about it compellingly, it can get repetitive. Let’s hope Cook’s next book takes up more original territory. I for one am extremely anxious to read more.

Isham Cook’s blog can be seen at Ishamcook.com and the Exact Unknown is available on Amazon.com.

Expat demos part the second: Good Businessmen & Evil Businessmen

In our last section we went over the English teacher dilemma. Suffice to say, many are losers but not all. Now on to my personal classifications for those with real jobs. Again, forgive me for generalizing but it’s too much fun and isn’t that what we humans do…

 

Good Businessmen: Your average fellow who happens to work here. Maybe they’re interested in China and came on purpose and learn the language, but it’s also possible they were relocated here and make the most of it. Either way they aren’t the complainy type.

Long-term or short-term, they respect others and are citizens of the world and know how to conduct themselves with dignity. It’s no big deal to be in China, it’s simply a good place to work and live. The more ambitious ones start their own company, trading or whatever, and make good money and contribute to the world well enough.

I’ve particularly met a lot of cool Germans of this variety. Point is, they are quality people who work here and act like they would anywhere else in the world. These are expats worth networking with at parties, and most of all worth making friends with.

 

Evil Businessmen: Personally, I’d argue that the arrogant rich trader doesn’t get enough of a bad rap in the expat scene.

Some people might be easily impressed by such big spenders, but I just know there’s something off about them. They complain, they don’t want to learn the language, and deep down they seem hostile to it all behind their sales-trained smiles. Most of these guys aren’t even that rich, they’d be middle managers back home but abroad they think they are so damn big shit.

There is a tinge of racism and classism that one can sense as well. Sometimes it’s not about sensing at all, sometimes it’s blatant racism. Sexism too, more on that below.

This kind of expat has a privileged background and has come to this poor country to do whatever he wants. The locals are seen as merely the servant class meant to massage his feet (or elsewhere) and serve him food and work in his factory. Any friendships to be made are rather shallow and condescending.

Note this sort of expat never ever makes friends with Chinese males. But how very interested he is in local females. Here’s the sexist part– listen to the ol’ rant about how feminism has ruined the women back home, and he prefers uneducated Asians for their docile submissiveness as well as allowance for cheating. He might even be fine with outright paying for it and uncomfortably likes to tell you so, complete with details about his latest Southeast Asian business trip.

Let me just say it, there are a whole lot of these very old men with very young girls. Perhaps we’ve all had May-December romances in our past or present, mistakes to learn from or maybe a true love for the ages. It is kinda natural for girls to be attracted to mature men, and for men to like younger women. Yet, once you start getting into twenty-year gaps, upwards to thirty or forty, let us simply agree that is creepy and more than a tad undignified. I know way too much: the American in his forties in open relationship with teenager, the Brit in his sixties with a stream of twenty-something girls around him. Am I being ageist; are they supposed to be breaking down generational barriers or something? Come on. OK, moving on from that subject now.

There are all stripes out there. Nobody’s perfect and some may lean towards these general aspects without being that bad, some are more decent than others. But I’ve met some true sociopaths in this world, and they have a talent for masking their evil with material success. Watch out. I’m serious.

Call me bitter, but I never cared much for expats of that ilk.

 

That should about cover it. Am I on to something? Or am I being too harsh? I have left out plenty, but don’t you see someone you know? How about reflections of yourself? Let’s discuss.

And I might as well put it out there: guess which demo(s) go for me…

Dear Whiney Spoiled Expat,

What is with this universal archetype of the complainy expat? I’m not saying life is all good here, its obviously not, but there seems to be some very common process of a westerner voluntarily coming to developing Asian countries and then proceeding to constantly complain. Let us analyze this phenomenon…

If we just call a spade a spade, can’t y’all admit that the good outweighs the bad! Just own it, laowai. There are advantages and disadvantages to everything, but being a westerner in big Chinese cities is quite obviously a good thing. So a few taxi drivers rip you off or you paid 12 yuan more for a knockoff bag, is that really so worthy of self-pity? You know you can afford it and have an infinitely nicer life than 99% of the local population. I contend that you just like to complain.

It is almost tantamount to celebrities expecting you to feel sorry for them due to all the hardships of their wealth and fame. In fact, that may be the universal human trait right there: to have so many things going for you and then still be unhappy. The more privileged and rich and the milking of their whiteness (and btw the more their job leaves them with freetime to troll the internet), the more these kind of expats like to complain about their sorry lot in life.

The logical conclusion begs this question: why don’t you just move? Are you spoiled people really that unable to control your own lives and live in a place that doesn’t warrant so much negativity? Just move somewhere better, ah-duh.

What do we learn from all your astute points? Are we going to learn anything and do anything about it, is this but therapeutic venting, or are you simply trying to make me us unhappy as you because you are a selfish asshole? I don’t want to hear any more sob stories about dirty villagers and stupid girls and incompetent work colleagues and bad shopping. At least balance it out a bit with the occasional slightly upbeat topics. Don’t you know how unoriginal you are?

That is not to say that rising China doesn’t have important problems that need to be addressed. I particularly enjoyed reading The China Price by Alexandra Harney and Under Mao’s Shadow by Phillip Pan for serious journalistic takes on current political and economic challenges. As for other more broader complaints about China as a whole, I wholeheartedly reject doom and gloom scenarios about the real estate bubble that’s going to lead to civil war that’s going to lead to Mad Max. Any day now. Wait up, any day now! I’m still waiting, been waiting for years. Might I call it the Glen Beck school of Sinology, these endless predictions that never ever come true. Be a tad more realistic and I might just pay attention to what you have to say m’kay 🙂

Of course, in my personal life I do have a few complaints of my own. I try to have some perspective, keep my observations at the very least 60/40 positive/negative. But if you want to know the truth, my number one complaint is being vegetarian in China. Its not their fault, they just don’t understand it, but man o man coming from California to here it is dang frustrating how nobody respects such a diet. Just last night I went to a classy Thai restaurant that you’d think knows better, I specifically asked for no chicken, and then they gave me chicken. This happens several times a month.

Still, forgive me for not constantly harping and harping about how sad it is. I have a simple philosophy for a low-stress life that has done me wonders, I get over it.

Well I’m going to go collect my 5 mao now.

Let’s discuss here, or follow along on my other blog…
http://www.shenzhenstuff.com/profiles/blogs/dear-whiney-spoiled-expats

Welcome to my blog, preliminary introductions ~

Well everyone, welcome to my blog. It’s been a while since I’ve been down this blogging path, but here I go again.

I am based in China. But I don’t want to have the typical expat China blog, all about “wow its so crazy here and I want to complain!” I may post some funny experiences from time to time, yet what I’m really interested in is sharing my writings.

I’ve lived here for five years. Primarily in Shenzhen, one year in Guangzhou but I like Shenzhen better so I moved back. This city is, by the way, a Special Economic Zone that was the leader of China’s rapid economic rise. It is in the tropical Southern province of Guangdong. Guangzhou is the capital, 3rd largest city and it turned out to be a bit too epic for me. For perspective on how immensely large these Asian megacities are, Shenzhen is bigger than New York and its not even the top ten here.

Shenzhen also borders Hong Kong, which is kinda sorta China but not really kinda sorta China. Don’t get me started on the pseudosovereignty issue, but suffice to say Hong Kong is a great bastion of freedom and I love it (but why don’t I live there?) and its a bit expensive there.

Even before moving here, I wrote fiction. I am a freelancer, and if you guess my main part-time job that pays the rent I’ll give you a prize. I do some English language journalism pieces on occasion, a google of my name and “Shenzhen” will show some that I’ve published, but those are not the most interesting things I’m interested in promoting. I’ll share some links from time to time.

A common question asked is “What brought you to China?” That story involves the Burning Man festival in 2008, maybe illicit substances, and that drunk conversation we’ve all had in which we vow to embark on some big project and then when sobriety comes we forget all about it. This time I stuck with it and came here. I liked the place, so I stayed.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for excerpts, links, and hopefully a good read or two.