China and the Middle Ground

This week, our East Asia History reading group, which meets once a quarter, had the fortune of discussing Richard White's The Middle Ground with Professor White himself. The purpose of this book was to write the history of Native Americans and Empire in the pays d’en haut, the area around the Great Lakes, from the years 1650-1815, a region Professor White has termed the Middle Ground. Professor White presents the Middle Ground both as a spatial and theoretical construct. It is both the area where Europeans and Indians coexisted and created a new cultural space, and also a theoretical term meant to point to the process with which Indians and Whites mutually accommodated each other, constructed together a mutually comprehensible world. He traces through 2 centuries the creation and destruction of this process, and the ways in which alliances, wars, trade and empire affected the ability of Indians and Whites to maintain a status quo. He also complicates the traditional narrative of empire. A narrative of the conquerer and the conquered obscures the complexities of the relationships between and among Indians and Whites, and while violence was present, the middle ground appeared and “depended on the inability of both sides to gain their ends through force.” The Middle Ground, he points out, is not a pretty place. He has often been called an apologist for colonialism because he pointed out the compromises and concessions each side had to make. This, however, is obviously not the case; the Middle Ground was created out of destruction and violence, the description of which was nauseating.

The reason we decided to read the book is because the concept of the Middle Ground can be used in other contexts; it has been cited numerous times in books about border regions in China, specifically Yunnan, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Qinghai. Once I started reading the book, an exhaustive 500+ pages of Native American history, I became confused as to the extent to which his theory could be applied. Were all colonies Middle Grounds? Does it work outside borderland situations? Does it even work outside of the pays d'en haut?

Our discussion with Professor White helped to clear up a lot of the confusion. He told us that, despite the fact that he did not want to be the "judge in the court of the Middle Ground," he did think that both the physical space and the process did have some distinguishing characteristics. First of all, it needs to be a situation in which the two opposing groups could not overwhelm one another by force. At the same time, it needed to be a situation in which both sides needed the other. Finally, there needed to be a set of institutions in place to sustain this balance of power. In the pays d'en haut, this included Jesuit priests, a system of posts, a gift giving system in place, etc. Professor White pointed out that it is these institutions which distinguished other parts of the Americas from the pays d'en haut; they were not a Middle Ground, simply areas of cross cultural contact.

Professor White stressed that the one way in which the Middle Ground did not work in later colonial situations is that if one side has the overwhelming power to dictate, there was not a Middle Ground. He stated that the French and British did not break local power and rule, in fact, the didn't rule much of anything. This description rules out a lot of European empires. The Middle Ground is also not, as Professor White claimed, a place where everyone came together and loved each other. Nor is it another term for cultural compromise. Misunderstandings actually played a large role in the creation of the Middle Ground. What he meant by this was that each group tried to argue with one another based upon their understanding of the other sides' cultural premises. As an example from his book, he shows how Indians tried to make arguments with the French based upon their understanding of Christianity, and at the same time, the French attempted to spread Christianity by using terms they extracted from local religious practice.

The Middle Ground is also historically contingent; it, like all things, has a starting point and an end point. There are many reasons the Middle Ground of the pays d'en haut came to an end, mainly because the Americans of the frontier no longer needed Indians. He also brought up an interesting argument which he mentioned slightly at the end of his book, which is that ethnography and anthropology helped to erase the Middle Ground. These studies, which for the first time introduced race, created a group of "others" that could not be dealt with in an equal level (this is not to say the French did not see the Indians as "others"; but the otherness came from the fact that they were not Christian, it had nothing to do with race). The example he gave to us was the issue of marriage. In the pays d'en haut, temporary marriages were quite common. Once the marriage came to an end, the father mattered little; the woman would simply take her child, half French and half Indian, back to her village. The issue of race, or difference, was not important. In fact, towards the end of the 18th century, identity was a matter of personal choice; no one could be said to be completely French or Indian. This changed in the 19th century, when these Indian women were told by their villagers to leave their husbands and their mixed children behind because they were not pure "Indian." This was done in the name of tradition, when really it was a quite radical statement. In this way, as professor White claimed, when Middle Grounds disappear, they become black holes, sucking everything into themselves, including historical memory.

At this point we should ask, how applicable are these theories to China? Some of us in our group pointed out that these theories are very helpful in describing situations in borderlands, where neither the central Chinese government nor other bordering empires had any control over the local population. The situation in China, however, is much more complicated. The 司土 system in areas such as Qinghai and Tibet created a system of local warlords which administered these regions. In some of these regions, the local imperial appointed warlords had much more power than others, so the use of Middle Ground is contingent on a case-by-case basis. There were some areas in which local leaders ruled in succession for generations, and others where power was determined by the ability to mediate and communicate, thus creating a Middle Ground.

Another issue that distinguishes the system in China from other contenders for the Middle Ground is the fact that there was no real clear starting or ending point like there was in the pays d'en haut. These groups on the frontiers of China had been interacting for centuries, and there was no clear starting point that would help us trace the creation of this Middle Ground (if there was, perhaps the Song or even the Han dynasty). Nevertheless, framing the trade and relations in these areas within a Middle Ground framework it seems would be useful for analysis.

I admit, when I first went into this discussion, I was hoping to see how this concept would apply in a colonial setting; after discussing the book with Professor White, it seems that the Middle Ground does not work in the later British empire, specifically Hong Kong. When the British first gained control of Hong Kong, they set out to create a population of successful Chinese they could subsequently rule. The situation was not an inability on either side to rule the other through force; it was simply that the Chinese businessmen in Hong Kong cooperated with the colonial government so that force was unnecessary. The authority between empires, Qing and British, may have been fuzzy at some points, but it was more an argument of semantics; Hong Kong was conceded to Britain as spoils of war, and there was no question on the ground who held authority. This was the case for much of the later empires. Similarly, as professor White pointed out, ethnography and anthropology made the Middle Ground impossible, and these techniques for distinguishing the "other" was central to later colonial politics.

I do think, however, that Professor White's description of cultural misunderstandings could be helpful in understanding the interactions between the British and Chinese in Hong Kong. I feel like I see this a lot today. Hong Kong is rife with food, activities, and trends that they consider "Western" when we would not. While I do not know of any historical examples (though perhaps a reexamination of the creation of the Tung Wah hospital with this theory in mind might bear new fruit), I do think that taking this framework of "cultural misunderstandings" could shed new light on the ways in which British and locals interacted within the colonies.


Well, I'm not Amy Adams, but... (aka, and now for something completely different...)

I realize I normally use this blog to pontificate upon research-related brilliance, but (now this may come as a shock to some of you readers) I am brilliant in other ways. Among my many talents (including my ability to be incredibly modest) I'm a pretty good cook...and I'm always up for a challenge. So for a recent dinner party, I felt the need to practice so I could one day perfect the zenith of Italian ridiculousness: the timpano.

My dad made said timpano for Christmas this year, and it was a two day affair. After recovering from the food induced pleasure-coma, I did some searching of my own. Other bloggers have embarked on such an adventure, however their interest was spurred by a Stanley Tucci movie called "The Big Night," in which two Italian-American brothers open a restaurant (and then I think they close it? I didn't see the movie), and the grand finale to their ostentatious feast was none other than the timpano. The timpano is a dome of homemade dough filled with just about every Italian food you could think of: meatballs, pasta, sauce, salami, eggs, cheese, etc. See pictures below.

So it was a "big night," if you will, for Stanford history grad students. We had a first-year party last quarter, and I cooked dessert: a barrage of pies thrown together in a last minute tornado that nearly destroyed my kitchen (in the end, it merely covered my kitchen in chocolate). This time, I was appointed as one of two hosts, and the timpano felt like the perfect experiment. I used my dad's recipe (I'll post the recipe in full at the end) but I made some last minute adjustments.

The first major challenge was finding a pan. I should have listened more carefully to my dad when he told me that a stainless steel mixing bowl would work out just fine; instead I spent more time than necessary on the internet trying to find bowls that might work, and deciding whether or not to simply order the timpano bowl from the Kolorful Kitchen website, which had reasonably priced products but ridiculous costs for shipping. Finally I stormed into Sur la Table in a frenzy, telling the saleslady "Ok, I need a bowl, it needs to be between 6-8 quarts, it needs to be domed shape, and it needs to go in the oven." The very kind lady pointed me to (ironically) a stainless steel mixing bowl, 20% off. And all that time I spent on the internet...

The day before the dinner party, I made the marinara and meatballs, making the meatballs smaller than normal. Step 1, accomplished. :) I also prepared all the ingredients, including the salami, provolone cheese, 20 eggs (yes, 20 eggs. Did I mention that timpano is Italian for cardiac arrest?), romano cheese, 2 pounds of rigatoni, and other important ingredients I already had on hand.

The next afternoon, after a major exam and dance class, I ran to meet a classmate who lent me a rolling pin (another important thing I needed that I didn't think of until the last minute), and then spent nearly 2 hours transferring ingredients, cooking utensils, plates, the kitchen sink, etc. to my co-host Andy's apartment, an apartment in the brand new graduate housing, complete with 2 fridges, a dishwasher, and 5 times as much space that I have in my kitchen.

Then began the work. I started by chopping up the salami and cheese into small pieces while cooking the hardboiled eggs. The recipe called for block provolone, but I couldn't find any so I had to use slices. I also stuck in some asiago cheese, since I had some on hand. I then began to cook the rigatoni (it is important that the rigatoni be super al denti, since it still cooks more in the oven) while making the dough. The recipe said I should use a mixing bowl with a dough hook to mix the flour, eggs, olive oil and water, but what graduate student has such a fancy accoutrement? So I kneaded it by hand. For awhile, I began to be quite worried that the dough was coming out funny; it seemed far too sticky. But the more I mixed it, the more it came out ok. I did end up having to add a little bit of extra flour including the flour I used to roll it out to 1/16 of an inch. This was probably the most exhausting part of the whole process.

Then came the second major panic. I only bought 2 pounds of rigatoni, thinking that already sounded ridiculous enough. But the more I thought about it, the more I became concerned that the 2 pounds wouldn't be enough (the recipe called for 3, and said to use a 6 quart bowl, while mine was 8). So I began asking Andy's roommates for any pasta they had on hand just in case. Very quickly the third panic followed: it seemed I did not make enough sauce. This problem, however, I very quickly solved. I had read a series of recipes for this crazy dish online, one more complicated than the next (one called for 4 different homemade sauces and meatballs using 3 types of meat! Yikes!). But many of them called for at least two types of sauces: one layer of pasta with meat sauce and another with a layer of beschamel. This seemed not only creative and delicious, but an easy solution to my lack of bolognese sauce. So I whipped together a beschamel based upon Mario Batalli's recipe, a white sauce with the complex ingredients list of butter, flour, and milk. I also added a shallot (which I had on hand) salt and some cloves (the recipe called for nutmeg, but I didn't have any).

Finally, the dough was rolled, the eggs were cooled, the sauces were complete, the ingredients chopped, and my feet were screaming in pain and I was covered in flour: it was time to throw it all together. I generously (and by generous, I mean dripping) greased the pan with some melted butter and olive oil, and then draped the dough over the bowl, pressing gently to mold it to shape.

I started with a layer of rigatoni with beschamel, followed by salami and provolone. My friend watched with fascination as I heaped handfuls (using both hands) of salami and cheese into the bowl, wiping the grease from my hands onto my skirt. I giggled and looked up and said "you know, this is almost gross..." He laughed and told me I probably shouldn't sell it with that line at the party.

I then topped the cheese and salami with pieces of chopped hardboiled eggs (there were 12 in all, though I didn't end up using them all), neatly arranged meatballs, and a few ladlefulls of bolognese. I then began with the second layer of pasta (this time mixed with red sauce) when I yelled out "damnit, forgot the romano!" So that layer was slightly out of place. The layers then repeated: salami and cheese, eggs, meatballs, sauce, and romano cheese. To my relief, 2 pounds was more than enough rigatoni, I ended up eating the leftover pasta with sauce all weekend. As I was pouring the final touches, four beaten raw eggs, onto the top, Andy commented "this isn't even a dish, this is a science experiment. It's like, 'what else can we fit in here?'" I laughed again as I folded the excess dough over the top, cut the edges, and got it ready to go into the oven.

Here is where I encountered mistake number 1. I was on a bit of a time crunch: the timpano needed to bake for an hour and a half, and then sit for at LEAST an hour and a half. The party started at 7 (although we probably wouldn't eat until later, no one seems to be on time for anything anymore) and it was 4:15 as I went to put it in the oven; seemed like perfect timing. I opened the oven and said relatively non-chalantly, "Andy, can I have some oven mitts, I need to take one of these racks out of the oven." He exclaimed that we couldn't do that while it was still hot, and I began to panic: there went my perfect timing. I quickly shut the oven off and opened the door to began cooling the oven down, and then we tried to take the rack out just to see what would happen. Turned out the rack wasn't heavy at all, and it was a quick process. So I stuck the timpano in the oven, turned the time to an hour, and began to clean and help Andy prepare his butternut squash ravioli.

The timer rang an hour later and my heart filled with panic as I opened the door to the oven: I had forgotten to turn the oven back on. I moaned, turned the oven on to a slightly higher heat, and mentally kicked myself. I put the oven to 370 instead of 350, and baked it for 45 minutes instead of an hour, thinking that it had at least been in a hot oven for 15 minutes as it cooled. After 45 minutes, I put tin foil on top to keep the top layer from burning, and left it in the oven for an extra 10 minutes (so a total of 85 minutes). I had no more time to be mad at my own stupidity. Andy and I quickly whipped together homemade ravioli, cleaned his apartment, and made ourselves look presentable. At 6:40, I took the timpano out of the oven, and let it cool. By 7:30, most people had arrived, and it was time to try flipping it over. I had seen my dad do it with two hands, but I struggled to even carry the massive bowl filled with food; I had no idea how I was going to flip it upsidedown. But with the help of a nearby friend, we flipped it over onto a cookie sheet, and to my complete and utter delight, it came right out of the bowl, perfectly golden and beautifully shaped (not a crumb stuck to the bowl. I guess I greased it well enough!)

I wanted to postpone dinner as much as I could so I could let the timpano continue to cool, but by 8:10, people were ready to eat. So I held my breath, closed my eyes, and began to cut into it. I cut a hole around the center to try and maintain a point of stability, and then I cut the first piece. And then came my second squeal of joy for the night: it came out beautifully, all layers in tact.

The timpano had to feed a lot of people, so after the first beautiful piece I couldn't continue to serve full pieces: not enough to go around! But most people did get to see the inside (see picture), and those who wanted a nicely shaped piece got the half shaped by the pan rather than the messier pieces I cut.

The response, if I do say so myself, seemed pretty positive. Some of my favorite quotes of the evening were: "Wow, everything you could possibly crave is in this thing! 'I feel like pasta...' well there it is! 'How about some salami?' it's there! 'Hardboiled eggs?' in there too!" And "Um, Gina, could you cook for us every night?" By the time I stopped cutting it and sat down to eat myself (not only the timpano but also Korean braised ribs, butternut squash ravioli in a brown butter sauce, and some awesome salad) there was still a pretty big chunk left. But that quickly disappeared; Andy's roommates, all healthy male law students, stood around the remains and finished it off pretty quickly. I am glad it was so popular, but I kind of wish I had a piece right now, writing all of it out.

I guess the only question that remains is, how will I top myself now?

Here are the various recipes:

I made my grandmother's sauce and meatballs, with my own kind of touches. I would double this, I wish I had had more sauce on the side.

One piece of some kind of pork, or Italian Sausage (just for flavor)
4 cloves of crushed garlic
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 cans of tomato paste
Dried oregano, parsley, and basil to taste.
Salt and sugar to taste (ok, I just do this by flavor. I'm sure that somewhere you could find real measurements, but I've never used them)

Sautee garlic and brown pork in oil. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, and then fill each can of tomato paste with water and add. Mix and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs (see below) and spices. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, making sure that you stir occasionally to keep from sticking.

Meatball recipe (again, I do a lot of this according to flavor, and I don't know the exact measurements):
1 lb. ground beef
4 slices of bread, soaked in water
2-3 eggs (I just mix it until it is slimy, sometimes that is two or three eggs)
1/2 cup of grated cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Chopped parsley to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Take the water soaked bread and ring out excess water (should be an interesting sensation!) Mix all the ingredients together, mixture should be pretty slimy. Coat the bottom of a sautee pan with olive oil, and cook one or two to make sure that it is to your liking. Then, make the meatballs (pretty small for the timpano) and brown them in olive oil, set aside. Then, once your sauce is cooking, add the partially cooked meatballs.

Beschamel sauce (courtesy of Mario Batalli):
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.

**My personal touch: I added a shallot while cooking the butter and flour, and I added cloves. Tasted pretty good!

And below is a copy of the basic recipe for a Timpano. If you click on the picture, it will become bigger so it is readable.


Am I a colonizer?

In my Colonialism and Collaboration class, we recently discussed Albert Memmi's Colonizer and the Colonized. Our class decided that, while he may have a lot to offer discussions of colonialism, there are some real problems with his work.

But I'm not going to discuss right now the various inconsistencies and generalizations of Memmi's work, but rather, one topic that made me think about my own experiences in China, my role as a Chinese scholar, and then finally, why I think his theory is problematic. He claims that a person from a colonial power living in a colony has no choice but to be a colonizer as there is always an implicit hierarchy, even if the colonizer is perhaps less wealthy or has less social capital than the colonized with whom he interacts. This immediately brought me back to my time in China. I am guessing that when I lived in China, I lived on a lower-middle class income (by Shanghai's standards, mind you, not by all of China's standards). Yet I often found myself implicitly being treated as though I had more money, that I was wealthier, and that socially, I was higher up on the hierarchy. People were much kinder to me, showed me more respect, than I think they would an average person, and assumed that I had much more money than I did. There were other smaller, institutionalized symbols of this hierarchy, such as nice apartment buildings that would only accept foreigners who looked like foreigners, free gifts and better service at restaurants, etc. More than anything, however, I recognized the special treatment I received, even though I was by no means really a special person in any way.

Now, I realize there are a series of differences here. China is not a colony, technically it never was. I am not and could not be a colonizer, even by his loose definitions. And I was not in China for economic opportunity, certainly I was not there to be exploitative. But just from the subtlety of my interactions with others, I felt a certain hierarchy. If I were to take my experiences as any kind of proof or lack thereof of Memmi's theory, I do think there is an area where his argument falls apart. He makes the assumption that because people treated colonizers with this hierarchy that this hierarchy was either a product of an internalized hierarchy on the part of the colonizer or ultimately caused an internalized hierarchy. I can speak for myself to say that this was not true, I often felt the opposite, if any kind of hierarchy materialized in my mental framework. While I cannot in any way speak for actual colonizers, I do believe it is presumptuous to assume that just because a hierarchy materializes in a peoples' treatment of the other does not mean that that other has necessarily internalized that hierarchy and placed themselves above others.

But then again, I could be wrong. Like I said, I'm not a colonizer.


Putting Denver on the China map!

I'm not normally in the business of stealing, but this picture was just too cool to pass up posting on my own blog (and I am providing a reference for this picture...I think it's fair, Chinabeat has pulled stuff from my blog). This commemorative stamp was issued in 1942, in Denver, where Sun Yat Sen, in 1911, read in the Denver Post in his room at the Brown Palace of the revolution he was supposedly leading (I've even made a pilgrimage...who would have though Denver would make it on the map of modern Chinese history?). Leaders comparing themselves to historic figures is nothing new, it's quite common. But this is a comparison I would not have expected to find. The Chinabeat article does a fantastic job of analyzing this strange tendency of Chinese leaders to compare themselves with Lincoln (currently a common comparison for policy in Tibet); I won't repeat it. But what an awesome picture!

Chinese nationalism in Hong Kong...?

Scholars who write about early 20th century Hong Kong seem to be fascinated with nationalism in Hong Kong. A few examples include John Carroll, Jung-Fang Tsai, and Ming K. Chan, to name a few. These three scholars in particular all write about protests in the early 20th century in Hong Kong. Chan was one of the first to write labor history in southern China, so his approach to Chinese nationalism in Hong Kong is more reserved (simply because he does not draw as large a distinction; his focus is on the Pearl River Delta). John Carroll's Edge of Empires talks about the growth of Hong Kong due to contributions Chinese businessmen and collaborators.

Of the three, Tsai seems to be most concerned with Chinese nationalism in Hong Kong. According to his work, we see a strong Chinese nationalist movements among laborers in the 1913 boycott of the tram in Hong Kong, in solidarity and support of the 1911 revolution, and even earlier, in anti-foreign and anti-French protests in the late 1880s and early 1890s.

Reading these works, I'm slightly suspicious of the term "nationalism" here. Tsai defines nationalism as "a sense of collective identity with and loyalty to China as a sovereign nation-state.” The problem I see is that, while we certainly see cultural solidarity for reform and revolution in the mainland among Hong Kong Chinese, there is no discussion as to where Hong Kong fits in. The emotional fervor in Hong Kong both in support of mainland China and against foreign invaders never included a tangible place for Hong Kong. Hong Kong was placed in a nebulous space between empires, never fully belonging to either.

It could be the case that protesters and laborers in Hong Kong felt no need to define Hong Kong's place in China: it was already part of this newly imagined Chinese nation. There is, from the books I've read, no evidence to the contrary. The one person who spoke prolifically about Hong Kong, China, and colonialism was Sir Ho Kai Ho. An important Hong Kong businessman and Chinese reformer (a teacher of Sun Yat Sen) Ho argued ardently for republican reform in China, but cited as an example colonial Hong Kong. Carroll argues that Ho represents the complexity of identity in Hong Kong: being both loyal to a nation and loyal to a city.

But it seems to me that as much as Carroll tries to layer this sense of identity, there is a real schism here. How can Hong Kongers seem themselves as citizens of a separate nation when they live under colonial rule in a separate space? Space becomes a crucial issue here: where is the divide, and how does that divide correspond to internal and psychological borders of identity and place?

My personal opinion (based, currently, on no research of my own but only interpretations of secondary texts) that this support of the Chinese nation through protests and symbolic gestures has more in common with Chinese-American support for the Beijing Olympics a couple of years ago. Certainly there were strong emotional ties to a common identity, but was it nationalism? Would cultural solidarity be a more correct term?

This is something I would like to explore more. But this question keeps coming back into my mind. If this is nationalism, where did that sense of belonging to the Chinese nation go after 1949? Did it disappear? I would argue it holds little presence in the minds of Hong Kongers now. So what happened?

New quarter, new year, new research!

I've done it! I've survived a quarter of graduate school, relatively unscathed (my existential/career-based crises numbered in the single digits; I think that is success). Hopefully, I will take more time to blog this quarter, especially since I will be starting a research seminar on modern China this quarter that will run until June.

Also, happily, I've spun left and right and round and round and finally came to the conclusion that I should start to follow my heart (research-wise...perhaps follow my analytical mind would be a better phrase here?) I am fascinated, frightened, intrigued, excited, and pretty much in love with Hong Kong. I've always had a secret desire to do a People's History/Wang Zheng Women in the Chinese Enlightenment-esque book about 1980s Hong Kong Chinese and their identity struggles with the handover. Unfortunately, this idea is a.) inchoate; b.) already done by some people and c.) not really history yet.

But a class on South Asia made me ask a lot of questions about Hong Kong that actually pertain to history. What was going on in Hong Kong in the early 20th century? Were there anti foreign protests to match those in the mainland? Were there anti-colonial protests to match those in other British colonies? At what point did people in Hong Kong go from being citizens of the emperor to colonial subjects to citizens of China to citizens of the global economy? (Perhaps not all in that order). With all these questions bouncing around in my head, my adviser and I thought it would be fruitful for both of us if I did a historiographical survey of work on colonial Hong Kong. 40 pages later, I have a lot of new ideas, and I'm probably more confused now than I was before. But one thing is sure: I'm not putting this pull to Hong Kong in a drawer.

So this quarter, I want to explore these ideas and hopefully find some insight. I don't know if I have readers, but if I do, and you see something interesting that pertains to my research, please post a comment (or email me if you know me). I always appreciate ideas and directions.

Happy year of the tiger (raar!)