Recent Goings On … Books!!

I’ve been sitting on my thoughts over the last little while. Two things i try to avoid, discussion of Religion and politics. The world has so much going on, that I have opinions about, that sometimes, I think to myself, “why bother?”

As a Citizen of the United States, I received my ballot by mail, some time ago. The Dade County Supervisor of Elections is very diligent in making sure all of our ballots arrive with plenty of time, to be sent back in time for the latest election. I filled my ballot out and sent it back a while ago, and got an email confirming that it had been received in Miami.

We did not get the results we all wanted. But that is the nature of the beast, I guess. Too many red voters down south. We watched the returns until the Canadian National News came on, then we went to bed.

It is a very good thing that so many WOMEN won seats in the government last night. That is very gratifying for sure. We are very proud of all the women, and the first two Muslim women to be voted into seats, for the first time in history.

Ilhan Omar, 37, is one of two Democrats to become the first Muslim-American women to enter Congress. She won a House seat in Minnesota.

Born in Somalia, Ms Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war in 1991. She arrived in the US as a teenager after spending four years at a refugee camp in Kenya.

She is also the first Somali-American member of Congress.

Ms Omar will be joined in Congress by Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim woman who won a House seat in Michigan. The 42-year-old is also the first Palestinian-American congresswoman.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, is the youngest woman ever to win a seat in Congress.

The 29-year-old, a Bronx native from a Puerto Rican family, overcame a top Democrat to become her party’s nominee for a House seat in New York.

BOOKS AND STUFF …

One of my lady readers suggested that I would enjoy Yuval Noah Harrari’s books, Sapiens and Homo Deus. Yuval is a PHD in history. In reading his bio, there are a few letters behind his name.

A while back, one of my friends suggested to me that I read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. that was a FANTASTIC BOOK ! I love Jared’s voice. I love the way he writes books, and the way he explains his methods and the ways he sees the world, based on his own personal experience.

Jared’s Book, Guns, Germs and Steel, tells the history of the world from the point of 13,000 years ago. He explains all the minutia of the different factors that go into human survival, over the eons. But so much more, Jared discusses the particulars of the land, the axes of that land, whether it is a North South or East West axes, that either makes or breaks each civilization.

Jared goes into great detail. Detail that Yuval does not share with his readers. However he tells stories of those early peoples and how they survived through story telling academically. I found Yuval’s stories great and all, but he lacked the precision data and storytelling that Jared gave us in Guns, Germs and Steel. Yuval writes as an academic, and that’s how I took his book, by the book. He did not engage me as a reader in the story of how the earth populated and grew over the eons.

Jared gives a captivating explanation in great detail of where we came from, how we got here, and how the world became the world it is today, through exhaustive details of every aspect of civilization, which I found captivating and enlightening.

The stories of the first people’s, something that is crucial in Canadian society, I attended a Native Blanket Exercise not long after completing Jared’s book, and through his eyes, while sitting in the First Nations exercise, I knew the story historically, because I read Jared’s book, it made the whole experience for me a much deeper experience as a whole.

Yuval did not share stories like Jared’s. Which sets both books apart in story and scope of subject matter. I do not discount Yuval as a writer of history based on his credentials. But he is an academic, where Jared is a scientist and anthropologist and a student of the world, because he has traveled this world in great detail. That shows in Jared’s books, including Collapse, which I am reading at the moment.

Academics are pigeonholed as writers, because they approach their work as an academic. Which tend to be dry and cold to some, reading an academic treatise rather than a book of exploration and wonder.

Yuval did not capture my imagination enough, and by the end of the book, I wanted to get to the end of the book, soon! However, Yuval has perks in his storytelling. His stories differ from Jared, in scope and academic precision.

Both are great writers, Yuval as a PHD in history, so you could not question his sources or information he provided. I moved from enjoyment reading, into reading a PHD thesis on the history of the world. Written by an academic.

Yuval does have his writing perks as I said …

One very noticeable way in which Yuval writes, is that of his choice of language and who he uses to make points along the way. Most writers will write with a bent towards a neutral voice when telling stories. It is usually the male character who appears in storytelling.

Yuval, turns that around throughout Sapiens … I noticed this little turn right away, and took note that he carried his characters throughout his book.

Yuval always notates a woman when telling his stories.

Instead of always seeing His, or He or male representatives, Yuval uses the Female identifier She and Her. His attention to this very little detail, becomes a very big detail in this book. I found it very interesting that he used this format in his writing.

These two books, Guns Germs and Steel, and Sapiens, are similar.

Yuval being a PHD in History, I read his book as an academic. Having degrees in Religion and Theology myself. In retrospect, I enjoyed Guns, Germs and Steel much more.

Yuval’s storytelling was really good. But I found his stories glossed over many things that Jared spoke about as important. Where Yuval’s stories are academic in reach, and factually correct, I wanted more out of his text.

The only reason I finished the book, was that I had committed to reading it because one of my women who read this blog suggested it to me. So I wanted to do it proper justice.

If I had to choose who I would read again, hands down it is Jared Diamond. With that said, I bought two more Diamond Books…

Collapse … How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and
The World Until Yesterday … What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies.

I’m really enjoying Collapse.

Once again, Jared’s voice is fantastic. I love the way he writes and the detail he goes into about every subject he writes about so well. He not only uses his scientific work, but work of other scientists and writers, to shed facets of light on subjects that can be rather dark and/or unknown. 

I also picked up a book called Children of God, written by Lars Petter Sveen.

This book is a story about the child and adolescent Jesus. I’m always on the look out for Jesus books. I have read several really good book, one by Reza Aslan, was a fantastic book about Jesus.

Stories about the child or adolescent Jesus do not exist, because there are no stories written about him, during his young life. Every book that is written has to employ side literature, scripture or old papyrus scrolls that still exist in modern days.

Anne Rice took a stab at this topic a while back. So I also have all of her books in my library.

DARKNESS in MONTREAL

It is very dark in Montreal right now. With the clocks going back an hour, by 5 p.m. it is so dark, you’d think it was really 10 p.m. at night.

They tell us SNOW and a lot of it is coming, soon … Upwards of 15 cm will hit the ground come next week. Right now, it has been raining incessantly, for days and nights. It is a bit nippy out. And it will only get colder when the snows finally appear.

I’ve bought some new cold weather gear, gloves and a pair of warm boots. I’ve been updating my wardrobe for a while now. My reason when shopping is that if I buy it, it has to be able to be worn all four seasons and not just in warm weather.

My Hockey under gear warm layer works very well. Last winter I went to a professional hockey shop here in the city, and purchased thermal under gear that I wear as a base layer, along with special base layer clothing.

Some of my favorite clothing makers have great base layer and warm weather gear for both men and women.

Much more to come, stay tuned.

Thanks for the book recommendations.

If you are going to read any books, JARED DIAMOND should be at the top of your read list.


Guns Germs and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered, how did we get here? Where did we come from?  Why here and Why now? Why are some countries rich, and others poor? Why do human live where they live today, and where did the first peoples come from?

Being an avid reader poses challenges now and then. Picking up a substantive book, and reading it from cover to cover, requires time, treasure and commitment. I have several substantial books in my “read” library stack. It took me quite a while to consume Guns, Germs and Steel. Not only does this book require time and treasure, it demands of its reader, patience, understanding, and a desire to learn; something that I found, was enlightening and educational.

Jared Diamond begins some 13,000 years ago, when the world was first populated with hunter gatherers. The continents were finding their places, ice ages, came and went. And early humans, as archeologists have studied began to populate the earth. When oceans were shallower, and land bridges existed, in several locations on the earth, people moved here and there.

Indigenous peoples worldwide don’t garner very much respect from the conquering peoples who overtook them. There were multiple indigenous communities worldwide, before the proverbial “white man” came and either infected them with disease, enslaved them to serve, relegated them to reserves or killed them outright in wars and conquests.

This book is methodical in its approach to humanity. And in pain staking detail we learn what peoples lived in prehistory. We learn where they lived to begin with and where they moved, on the earth as time progresses.

We learn how advances in food production, disasters of germs and disease, and the advancing industrial revolution, where guns and steel overpower those who did not have them.

We learn that in historical times, conquest and war, dispensed with entire groups of people. You did not only get the peoples who took up conquest, but the people who suffered because of it. The people who were here, before we got here, grew into some, successful communities. In the end, those vibrant indigenous communities were laid wasted by diseases brought by the conquerors, and the wars perpetuated in the names of Kings, Queens or Country.

As the continents were solidified, where people lived either assisted their success or advanced their demise. Where you lived, in relation to the latitude of your environs, either helped you, or harmed you. The success of peoples, farming, livestock, and growth all depended greatly, on where you sat, on the earth, in terms of latitude and longitude.

The spread of all things necessary for life, worked well, in areas with an expansive East – West axes. Those countries with North – South, axes, did not fare so well, the population and spread of food, animals and technology flourished in the Eurasian, East West Expanse of location.

There is a direct correlation between the location of a people, and the environment they found themselves in. From the Equator, reaching either North or South, temperate regions flourished. Guns, Germs and Steel tells the story of how the world became what it has.

Time, Distance, Location and the problems associated with location either helped peoples grow and succeed, or they took much longer to achieve certain benchmarks in their human existence. All things moving East – West grew faster than those things moving North – South.

Time is measured in hundreds of years,  The movement of people, goods, animals, and agriculture took TIME. And it seems that in pre-history, time is a very important component in the building of peoples, world wide.

Jared Diamond spins a very intricate web of story telling about Time, Talent, and Treasure. How the world built itself, learned how to govern itself, farm the land, produce food, and be able to store that food over Time, and then industrialize, are very important factors in human existence.

Guns, Germs and Steel is not a simple story, it is complex on many levels and explains the difficulty early peoples faced, in maintaining a home, finding food to eat, and learning the hard way, especially, “what not to eat.”

Every continent on the earth has a particular Origin Story. Every peoples who populate the earth, where ever that may be, also have complex Origin Stories. This very complex but wonderful study of humanity is one of the best books I have ever read, on the subject of just How We Got Here !

How each continent and how each people on each continent arrived where they did, and prospered to the level they are at today is studied exhaustively in this text. The Origins of People, Language, Customs and Lives and how all these things moved from one area of the world to other areas of the world is fascinating.

No stone is left un-turned by page 444 …

Pulitzer Prize books must contain certain factors that I always look for, IF a particular book has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Because I have read a handful of winners, that turned out to be real losers.

Guns, Germs and Steel is a Winner !!!

Read This Book !

We Went to the BEACH …

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It was a fabulous weekend in Ottawa. I love getting on a bus, and having someone else do the driving. I put on some tunes, or I hit a meeting in a pod cast, or I read. On the recommendation of a good friend, I had ordered a couple of books via Indigo last week. One of them, which I took to Ottawa this weekend was Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” It’s a history of the world kind of book. Very interesting, a little academic, but so far, I have enjoyed the read.

Friday night we hit the Royal Oak for dinner, after my arrival and I got a free dinner because the kitchen screwed up my order. Free Food gets my vote any day.

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Saturday we packed the car and drove into Gatineau on the other side of the river from Ottawa to a National Park, and Lac Philippe. It is a HUGE lake, park, picnic and BEACH park, with all kinds of water fun to be had. Canoes, paddle boards, and stuff like that.

This car was parked right near us, and I had to photograph it because it was cool. A Canadian Maple Leaf car …

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I haven’t been in a body of water, i.e. a beach, since I left Florida all those years ago. We have a pool in the building, but it is enclosed on the 20th floor. And I never use it. So going to the beach was a novel idea.

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The water was cool, and very welcoming for sure. We hung out in the lake all afternoon, and watched people frolicking in the water.

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After the beach we went to Carlo’s for dinner. It is a roadside retro, restaurant in an old bus, with the retro neon sign above, serving easy quick fare of poutine, burgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches. They have a picnic table area to sit and eat. It was quite good actually. Very enjoyable.

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We then drove over to Wakefield for desert. Wakefield is close to the park we were at, so we parked the car and browsed the little shops in town, and had some ice cream. They built a brand new boardwalk along the river.

It was a special occasion. Rafa crossed his six-year mark a few months ago, so we gave him his six year chip standing at the river walk. Wakefield is where they want to live in the future, so I thought it would be a good spot to mark an anniversary.

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Old train tracks run along the river walk, and there are portal signs along the way explaining the history of the village where ever an old house or building stands along the line. We found this push car on the tracks at the end of the line. The kicker had been disconnected from the push bar, so the little car would not move, but you could push it manually.

The sun had set as we hit the road. And on the highway, the “You have low fuel light came on, and we were running on fumes by the time we found a gas station, thanks to Google Maps … We came into Ottawa around 9:15, and thought we should hit Parliament Hill to see the Northern Lights, light show. So we parked the car at the lot and walked back to the Hill, and got prime seats for the show.

The Northern Lights show runs all summer. It is a multimedia light, laser and film presentation, that is illuminated right on the face of the Parliament building itself. It tells the story of Canada and all the history of our country. It was the second time we have seen this particular show.

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At the end of the presentation, they play O’ Canada.

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Everybody stands while we sing …

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

It was last summer that we first saw this show, and it was an emotional moment for me, standing on the Hill, with my best friend, both of us had become citizens, he, a year or so ago, and me, in 2003. I did not get pomp and circumstance when my papers came through, so standing on Parliament Hill, with my best friend, two new citizens of Canada, singing the National Anthem … Gets me every time.

When I get to the line .. God keep our land Glorious and Free …

My heart swells and tears fall from my eyes. It is like that whenever they play O’ Canada at the Olympics too.

It happened again on Saturday night, however, all three of us were sobbing by the end of the anthem. I think that is the most patriotic thing to do, is stand on the Hill, with your friends and family and sing the national anthem.

I get very emotional over that.

Sunday we slept in until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, had a brief but tasty brunch and I took the bus home to Montreal. Today it is miserably hot. Supposed to rain for he next 4 days. UGH.

We really need the rain.

More to come.

Intelligence Briefing January 6, 2017

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In the Book, Facts and Fears, written by James R. Clapper the entire last half of the book, deals with “The Election.” Last night, on The Last Word, news was broke, definitively, that President Trump, was given a Classified briefing by all the heads of the Intelligence Services, the FBI and others.

In reading the book, I learned about the basics of that conversation that was had with the then President Elect Trump, two weeks before his inauguration. James R. Clapper, James Comey and a host of other High profile Intelligence Officers sat in on that discussion with the then elect. James Clapper writes in detail of that specific conversation, but he does not discuss the top-secret information discussed.

It was after that top-secret discussion, that James Comey sat with then, President Elect, and discussed the infamous Steele Dossier. The most salacious details of smut, that was collected then disseminated through various media.

President Trump KNEW, every sordid detail of the Russian incursion of our election. He was told specifically what had taken place and by whom. And for the last year and a half, the President of the United States has been LYING, OBFUSCATING and REDIRECTING the truth to fit his own narrative.

On Monday, last, Trump sat with Vladimir Putin for 2 hours, and what they talked about is anyone’s guess. But if Congress has its way, the interpreter that was sitting in on that discussion. will be compelled to testify and tell us exactly, WHAT was discussed, and WHAT was agreed to by our president to Putin.

The President is a LIAR.
The President has participated in TREASON
The President needs to be IMPEACHED and REMOVED from OFFICE

Sooner than Later …

Books … Indigo Post !!!

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History of Violence is international bestselling French author Edouard Louis’s autobiographical novel about surviving a shocking sexual assault and coping with the post-traumatic stress disorder of its aftermath.

On Christmas Eve 2012, in Paris, the novelist Édouard Louis was raped and almost murdered by a man he had just met. This act of violence left Louis shattered; its aftermath made him a stranger to himself and sent him back to the village, the family, and the past he had sworn to leave behind.

A bestseller in France, History of Violence is a short nonfiction novel in the tradition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, but with the victim as its subject. Moving seamlessly and hypnotically between past and present, between Louis’s voice and the voice of an imagined narrator, History of Violence has the exactness of a police report and the searching, unflinching curiosity of memoir at its best. It records not only the casual racism and homophobia of French society but also their subtle effects on lovers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives. It represents a great step forward for a young writer whose acuity, skill, and depth are unmatched by any novelist of his generation, in French or English.

 

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The first-ever book to tell Nelson Mandela’s life through the eyes of the grandson who was raised by him, chronicling Ndaba Mandela’s life living with, and learning from, one of the greatest leaders and humanitarians the world has ever known.

To the rest of the world, Nelson Mandela was a giant: an anti-apartheid revolutionary, a world-renowned humanitarian, and South Africa’s first black president. To Ndaba Mandela, he was simply “Granddad.” In Going to the Mountain, Ndaba tells how he came to live with Mandela shortly after he turned eleven–having met each other only once, years before, when Mandela was imprisoned at Victor Verster Prison–and how the two of them slowly, cautiously built a relationship that would affect both their lives in extraordinary ways.

It wasn’t an easy transition. Mandela had high expectations for those around him, especially his family, and Ndaba chafed at the strict rules and exacting guidelines in his grandfather’s home. But at the same time–through overheard calls from foreign dignitaries as well as the Xhosa folk wisdom that his grandfather shared with him at every opportunity–Ndaba was learning how to be a man. On a scale both personal and epic, Ndaba’s extraordinary journey mirrors that of South Africa’s coming of age–from the segregated Soweto ghettos into which he was born to the privileged life in which he grew up and the turbulent yet exciting times in which he carries on his grandfather’s legacy.

Going to the Mountain is, in the end, a story about unlocking the power within each of us. It’s a cautionary tale about how a child’s life can go one way or the other, depending upon the intervention of a caring soul–and about the awesome power of love to serve as a catalyst for change.

Being Kind to Ourselves

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One of my friends said to me earlier that, “my God, the weeks are just flying by!” June is halfway gone, and July is right around the corner. Everybody who lives in the Province of Quebec, loathes the first week of July. Why is that, you ask?

Because July 1st is MOVING DAY in the Province of Quebec.

For those who are green, or think that they absolutely HAVE to MOVE every year, in the month of July … Are the bane of our existences. We’ve been in this same apartment for more than sixteen years, and every year it is the same story.

People have a need to change things up on a yearly basis. BUT, if you have PETS, your chances of finding another home to live in that accepts PETS grows ever slimmer, year by year, as landlords stipulate in their lease agreements that PETS are no longer allowed.

AND we see hundreds upon hundreds of pets left on the street, or dropped in a shelter, where they MAY or MAY NOT be adopted, and therefore end up euthanized later.

UGH !!!

I heard a lady friend ask us tonight if, “we take time to be kind to ourselves?” And I had to stop and think about that for a few moments. Among my things to do on a daily basis, do I take time for me? Sometimes I do not. I can find myself with busy things to do, like chores, or grocery shopping, and cleaning the apartment.

If time allows, whenever that is possible, I nap. Nothing pleases me more than having a couple of free hours to just crawl into bed and sleep. On my days off, we have a built-in nap period, between the hours of 5 and 9.

We don’t usually watch tv, during the day, or early in the evening. Things are pretty quiet around here, and we don’t usually turn the tv on before 9 at night. We like the quiet.

One of my guilty pleasures is reading. It is part of my daily ritual. Indigo Book sellers is my go to book source. This week I selected two titles that seemed appealing. Since I finished Kingpin a few days ago, I am working my way through “Causeway” by Linden MacIntyre. I’ve read every book he’s ever written.

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Here are the books that arrived today.

I love Greek Mythology stories. One of my favorites is the Odyssey. My best friend gave me a copy, when they moved from Montreal, and I have read it several times over. Circe, I’ve been looking at for the past few weeks, and it finally made my read list this week.

The other is the book written by James Clapper. I enjoy reading books written by people who work in high places, and seeing how things work behind the scenes. I had read James Comey’s book a few weeks ago, and it seems now with the I.G. Report, he wasn’t all that honest in his pursuit of justice and transparency.

This afternoon, I took a Metro ride into the village for some shopping and some photography. A part of our city history is being retired at the end of the Summer, so I had to get some photos of the decor that hangs above the Village every Summer.

You can check them out on my Instagram. Over there —> in the sidebar.

Last month I joined The Underwear of the Month Club. The Underwear Expert Club, is an account based site, that men can join, (if you want to join and want a discount, message me)… But you get to choose how many pairs you get every month, what style, color or print, and they send you (with FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING) each month, a box with assorted undies. This is the first time I’ve invested in fashionable and stylish undies.

This is a snapshot of what Montreal is doing right now.

The Summer festival season has begun. The International Jazz Festival, Just For Laughs, and many other music oriented festivals begin in the next few weeks, and the city will be buzzing for sure. If you have never been to Montreal, I highly suggest you take a weekend and come see what we have to offer.

Food, Fun, Museums, Music …

Summer is one of the best times to come visit.

I tend towards Fall myself. I don’t do crowds and crazy.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday: Books, Books and More

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During my trip to Ottawa last weekend, I finished reading James Comey, A Higher Loyalty, Truth, Lies and Leadership. The book is a fascinating look at Comey’s life, where he came from, how he got here, and his professional career in Justice.

I was reminded by my best friend that when someone writes a book about themselves, they usually write it, so that they look GOOD. James Comey, admits his faults, and his character defects from the get go. He is aware of his own shortcomings, and within the book, as he writes, keeps those issues front of mind, in his telling of stories.

James Comey is a man of truth, character, and dignity. He believes in the rule of law, and the need for specific distance from certain entities in the Government Cabal.

The President is NOT an honest man. He IS a Character … Right out of mafia speak. And President Trump has no dignity, and does not care about anyone else but his own bottom line.

I highly suggest that you READ JAMES COMEY …

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A few days ago, Ronan Farrow was on Rachel Maddow’s show and they were talking about his latest book out. War on Peace; The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence.

Ronan Farrow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Harvey Weinstein debacle. A Pulitzer Prize is a BIG AWARD. I plan my reading library around the esteemed Pulitzer Prize winners, every season.

I’ve just begun this read, this week. The writing, so far, is stellar.

This week will be very busy. Meetings are moving around the city, and others are closed for church Bazaars on the weekend, So this is a rare week off …

We have been shopping like mad women for suits, shoes, ties and pocket squares for our niece Melissa’s wedding this coming weekend. We are leaving on Via Rail on Friday Morning, from Montreal to Toronto, and the Go Train to Hamilton.

We will return on Sunday night.

New clothes have been arriving sporadically. My Odyn gear from New Zealand is on its way, and another piece I ordered from Sydney Australia will go out tomorrow. The good thing about buying in Australia is that the exchange between Canada and Australia is almost dollar for dollar. An even trade. So I am not paying exorbitant exchange rates.

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The third book I am working through is American Kingpin. The Epic Hunt for the Criminal mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton. Needless to say, I will have enough reading material for this epic train ride this weekend.

More to come.

Stay tuned…