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Fifty five meters… At first it was hard to picture in my mind exactly what that would look like: A 20 story building? Fifty of my 4th graders stacked on top of each other? The minimum-height snappa toss for zpriest not to call low? It seemed unreal to me that I would find myself standing on a ledge that high with nothing between me and the ground below but a cord I could wrap one hand around, but there I was, over 175 feet above Gapyeong river, shivering in the icy wind.

Wait – let’s back up a bit. So last weekend I decided to get a crew together for a trip to Seoul. Megan had finally arrived in Korea and I wanted to show her the city and introduce her to my new friends, and the biggest bungee tower happened to be an hour away from downtown. We all met up Saturday and partied in Hongdae knowing that it might be one of our last nights alive – free drinks for foreigners supplied the liquid courage to solidify our plan: Sunday we would wake up early and head for Gapyeong, the only currently open (and the highest) bungee tower in Korea.

A little worse for the wear the next day, we hit the bus station and made our way to the proving grounds. I can honestly say I was never nervous until a moment where I started looking at the buildings rising up around the station and imagining my toes hanging off the edge. Luckily, that only lasted until we saw the tower itself and the people jumping off it – 55 meters tall and built like a crane, the tower rises over a riverbed and literally  sways slightly in the wind. We had to wait for a big group ahead of us before getting our $30 tickets and getting ready. Megan didn’t feel reassured by the sight of Koreans plummeting off the platform, so she opted out and took the role of camera-woman, but Ryan and I and six other friends met at the base of the platform for our “safety instructions.”

I could not tell you a SINGLE thing the instructor said – it was all in mumble-y Korean so we mostly relied on hand gestures and luck to survive. Ryan was next to me when we were putting our harnesses on, and his shoulder straps wouldn’t connect in the back. He shed one layer of jacket and then another so that he was only wearing a t-shirt in the chilliest of beans, but the buckle wasn’t quite closing. The instructor said “sorry, no jumpuh, ok?” and patted Lernier on the back, but I felt like he wasn’t trying hard enough. I said “are you serious?” and yanked the straps together til the buckle clipped, and everyone was good to go…if a little sketched out…

I finally ascended to the top of the platform in a rickety yellow box that held a couple people at a time…it was me, one of the TaLK teachers, and two Korean girls on the verge of tears. I was still feeling good at that point…and then I got out of the ‘vator and looked over the edge.

Things to NOT do when bungee jumping:

A) don’t be gigantic, or don’t wear jackets, and

B) don’t look over edges.

I immediately experienced a split second where I thought, “WHAT THE HEY AM I DOING I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS”, but luckily it passed quickly and I was able to function enough to walk over to the jump point. The two Korean girls were first, so I gave them a “Highting!” for encouragement. Koreans are always yelling that, which confused me for quite a while. They actually mean “fighting!” but can’t pronounce the F sound, so they just pretend it isn’t there. Even knowing what they’re attempting to say doesn’t make too much sense, but at least now you know why I’ll be yelling it before snappa tosses when I return.

After they plunged, I walked to my doom. The operator attached the cord to my back and told me to put my arms out, and started counting down from five. By the time I realized he were counting down it was too soon to jump so I said “WAIT, start over” and got ready to go. This time, I launched from the platform and hurdled towards the ground. It felt like FOREVER before I felt the cord pulling me back, back, and up into the air again. I barely remember yelling but in the video I’m going totally crazy…the rush was unbelievable, unlike anything else I can remember doing, especially the first moment after your feet leave the edge and you realize there’s no going back.

After the bungee settles a little bit, this old man in the most ghetto dingy rows over and pulls you down into the boat. Megan described it this way: if you remember the game MASH that little kids play, the worst future job choice was always trash man or janitor, but it should be this boat guy. Seriously the quality of this boat took all credibility away from the whole operation.

Somehow, every single one of us who got as far as the top of the platform managed to make the jump…maybe because the elevator ride down was too humiliating a prospect. If you’ve never tried it, GO! Bungee jumping in Korea was a huge highlight of my trip and I can’t wait to go again. Check out the vid at the bottom of the post!

So uhhhh, describing that took longer than I thought, so I’ll keep the rest of this short. Having Megan here and traveling around Korea without any responsibilities and the ability to do anything we wanted was easily one of the best times of my whole adult life. Everyone in Hapcheon had finally gotten used to seeing this white boy walking around, but the stares came back with a vengeance when Megan and her luggage (honestly not sure which was attracting more stares) came off the bus for the first time. Best thing in her suitcase? Miniature white Christmas tree, complete with ornaments, to decorate my room…did not see that one coming. She did such a good job adapting to the time change, new food, and different culture that I know we’ll definitely be doing more traveling in the future.

Now I just have to survive the next four and a half weeks of school, no breaks, and start getting ready to go home to calllliiiiiforrrrrniaaaa. Keep me posted on your new years plans – looks like I’ll be in norcal, but who knows? BTW – if you want to see Lernier on koryanbrian again, start harrassing him too – he’s probably got another post or two up his sleeves.

PREVIEW OF NEXT WEEKEND: Thanksgiving feast (seriously stoked), daytime snappa at the rocknroll bar (counting down the minutes), and trying to finish this pile of Pepero (thanks Niedermeyer).

Here’s my vid, and then Ryan’s… but, um, turn down the volume when you’re watching his…



Check Check 1 2 3

So I was looking around our blog stats area today, and there’s a little section that tells me when people find my blog through Google, and also what they searched for to find it. Most of the time, it’s pretty simple – “koryanbrian blog” or “korean talk scholars”, but sometimes it’s a little more interesting…a while ago someone found an entry about Busan by typing in “nude men korean bath house” – I spent a couple minutes trying to remember which of my friends is of the asian persuasion, but couldn’t come up with anything definite…

ANYWAYS, the point is that today I saw that someone had found an old post by searching “club NB2 seoul” in Google. I wanted to know how easy it was to actually find Ko-Ryan Brian out there in the internets, so I searched for it too…and there it was, page 2 of results, a post from MONTHS ago. I clicked it and started reading, imagining it from the perspective of a random person who would never meet me…a few minutes in, I stopped and thought, “Damn…these Ko-Ryan Brian people are pretty good!” It made me wish I had kept writing more than sparse summaries of what I had done each weekend.

So, here I am, checking whether or not the fountain still flows. It’s good timing, too, because there’s an essay contest coming up and I want to win the 500,000 won. Hopefully 2 years as an English major and 1 year as a freelance essay writer 😉 will be enough experience to dominate.

Today is halfway through my trip here. Sometimes it feels like I just got here, and I’m laughing about how fast the time has slipped past. Other times, it’s more like I’ve been abroad forever. That happens when I think about my life before I came here, and how different it was. Things like being able to watch a television and know what was happening, or having a cell phone that I could use whenever I wanted, or being able to order food from a text menu. It’s easy to imagine why people who come to these places without deep roots where they left end up staying so much longer than they thought…your old life just doesn’t seem real anymore.

But then you snap out of it, and you’re back to counting days on the calendar posted on your wall.

WARNING: I’m about to be cute…so Megan finally gets here in about a month. You can bet that’s marked pretty visibly on my calendar. It’s unreal that I’ve been in a long distance relationship for this long and now she’s almost here…I keep coming up with different ways to count down to her arrival – oh, 28 days? Easy! Wait, isn’t that exactly 4 weeks? Ha! come to think of it, that’s only 20 school days…child’s play! But then again, Thursdays don’t even really count because all I have then is Kindercare…16 days! No matter how I chop the distance up, though, it’s still the same. I guess after two and a half months, 28 days isn’t so bad. When all this is done, though, you can bet I’m going to be writing Skype a thank you letter for keeping me sane.

I guess by this point, we can pretty much put to rest the hope that you’ll once again be laughing hysterically the whole way through the blog post…sorry guys, the occasional wry smile is all you’re gonna get tonight. But considering that this is practice for an essay contest, some degree of restraint was to be expected, right? …Right?


Keba, your replacement is literally a midget…but he’s really smart! Plus he’ll be easy for the minions to carry. Can’t wait to post the vid of the finished project…This version might even have higher production values – my school is literally ordering space uniforms and alien costumes for the kids.

Ok, adopted Korean family #1 is here for help with some translating, so I’m cutting this one off. Much love from across the Pacific.


ps – any TaLK scholars reading this…don’t know if you’re aware, but I definitely wasn’t – 1 bottle soj = 540 calories hahaha


Another super-quick week in Korea – I think the weekend traveling makes the time fly here, but it feels like it’s been no time at all since the last update.  So, where to start? My room is new and better in every aspect – remember my school gave me 500 to furnish it? I finally have a chair, so I’m using the desk for my computer for the first time since I got here. No more laptop-on-the-chest-as-I-recline-in-bed maneuver…I’m pretty sure the irradiation I’ve subjected my torso to over the past month is enough to grow extra body parts or develop some superpowers, but only time will tell.  I also have desktop speakers, a new microphone, and a rug that’s incredibly soft…It was delivered to my school and all the kids were petting it and making cat noises, which actually sound the same as American cats.


Korean animals make really different sounds than American ones (obviously they SOUND the same, but how humans mimic them changes). Here’s a few that I’ve heard or learned…

Dogs: Mong mong mong! (I asked kids which sounded MORE like a dog, mong mong or roof roof, and they literally think Fido is mong-ing…not sure I agree)

Cats: Yeong (sounds pretty similar when you do it right, actually)

Cows: uuuuumooooooo

Birds: Jek jek!

Pigs: Kkool, kkool (I didn’t believe this one, but I looked it up and it’s true despite the fact that it has no relation to reality)

ANYWAYS, the last thing I got was a camera, which is AWESOME to have again. I never really took advantage of the camera I used to have in America, but here it’s really useful. So, here are some pictures from the weekend…

Basically, we spent Friday in Jinju, a mid-sized city on a river, which has a faaaatttyyyy festival once a year where they make huge cloth-and-wire sculptures that float on the lake, and are lit up at night from the inside. We checked those out in the rain, and spent the night at our buddy’s apartment playing drinking games and being lame. The next day was a different story…we went to Busan (remember, the huge city on the coast) and played til 430 in the morning. We checked out the film festival, met up with a TON of friends we hadn’t seen in forever, saw a Korean street band (they were playing a tango-esque cover of the James Bond theme song when we noticed them), drank on the beach late at night, saw fireworks, and hit up the westerners’ bar in Haeundae…it was a great time, but on to the evidence:

Jinju street on the way to the Lantern Festival

Panorama pic of the whole Nam river from the temple pavilion

Another view

Pano shot of the rest of the night in Jinju...sorry you look like a mutant Taka, I'm not perfect at this yet haha

Mural in the morning...recreating the awkwardly-spaced rooftop pic from before

I bought these fake shoes and found the real ones in Busan for comparison...my polo-rider kind of looks like a giraffe...

Dinner at Breeze Burns in Busan - uuuber overpriced (Pisaaaah) but dank as heyyyyllll

Little bit of beerpong at the foreigners' bar! Check out Amy - she's wearing a headset cam recording the whole game for a fast motion vid later

Chillin with a few pitchers at the Rock&Roll bar

Fireworks on the beach..."EXPECTO PATRONUS!!!"

Davidenko basically pressured the Kimbap restaurant owner into giving him this helmet at 3am...she probably agreed he needed it

I really like this one...view from the bathhouse on the 6th floor of Hotel Homers...stoked to stay here when Megan visits

post-weekend smoothies at the beach in Gwangalli

Now back to real life…school this week will be about family, and I’m planning on having the kids come to school dressed as a family member besides themselves and have each other guess..can’t wait to see a crowd of 11 year old grandmas and grandpas. As for now, it’s time to get ready for taekwondo, but I’ll be posting plenty of pics in the future.


The First Jacket – September 27th, 2010

Wow, it’s been a while since the last post – thanks everyone who hassled me because I don’t want to fall behind…I solemnly swear that I’ll never lapse like this again.

Ok, so…where to start? So much has happened since my run up and down Thirsty Horse Mountain that I’m just going to bullet out some highlights of the past week…here we gooooo!

  • Our Adopted Korean Family Index (AKFI) jumped by 300% over the past 9 days, as an astounding 2 new families decided to take Ryan, Angela, and myself as their own children. One of these is an artsy-fartsy couple who like to rip on the wine sold in Hapcheon and their daughter Hilary, who has torn up the English competitions (more on these later) for the past 5 years…whether the judges know that she spent 5 years living in NYC is still unknown…
  • The other family is Master Yu, his wife, and son Harry Potter. Why “Master” Yu? Because he’s a grand master of Tae Kwon Do with a seventh degree black belt, and he’s been training since before I was born. He’s personally sparred against Chuck Norris and destroyed him, and now he’s training all of us an hour a day, Monday through Friday, for free, in exchange for helping HIS son dominate the English competition. He routinely laughs at Ryan’s and my complete lack of flexibility and doesn’t seem to believe that I can only touch my shins.
  • English competitions? Imagine if your kid spent an hour every day memorizing a speech in Korean, perfecting the pronunciation and delivery, to give to a panel of judges months later. These people are OBSESSED and stop at nothing to win. Harry P’s speech is about Superman, and his biggest issue recently changed from being the word real (“I feer rike chuperman ees my LEAR friend”) to the “th” sound. We’re working on it.
  • We spent another weekend in the big city – this time it was Daegu, which is to Busan what Sac is to SF, but still probably bigger than either of those. We went out and met up with Jackie Chan around 7:30pm, and piled into a motel bed around 4:30am…it was a long night but a great one. You wanna know how many times we went to Mcdonaldu’s? Let’s just say that Ryan now calls it McDonaldudu.

Non-UCD readers:

  • I bought a guitar! Music shops are the same everywhere in the world – guitars are marked up about 20% of what they’ll sell for if you just stare unblinkingly at the owner for a minute and tell them you have cash.
  • I met a monk at the most famous Buddhist temple in Korea (and maybe Asia), called Haeinsa. His name was Jason and he lived in America for 9 years, where he got a degree in marketing and was pretty successful. He’d just bought his first car (Mustang convertible) when he got in a gnarly accident and almost died…after recovering, he gave up all his worldly possessions, shaved his head, and became a monk. It was sick to talk to him for an hour about what it’s like to be one of them. In case you have any fantasies about doing that yourself, you should know that the first 2 years are like one long pledge quarter, except exchanges with the girl temples are totally lame.
  • I’m getting a camera! It’s by far the most important reason why I’ll be posting wayyy more often now. Basically, my province is giving me 500k to “settle in” my apartment…2 months after I got to Korea. So everything I still needed (a chair, new bed set, a rug, and some bumpin speaks) came out to only half that. My mentor teacher Big Pete helped me sneak the camera order in with the rest, so be on the lookout for some HD vids comin at ya. (BTW – people reading in Korea, if you didn’t know, gmarket.com is the amazon.com of this country…so leet)

Anyway, this week went by super quick – 9 more to go (of school, at least…most like 11 til I come home)! Basically, I realized that my time here = one quarter at Davis, so I feel like it’s going to go by quickly. The people who told me that I’d feel like I barely got settled here before I left are probably going to be right. On one hand, I’ll definitely be a little bummed when the experience is over – so many new experiences and friends I might never see again – but I know I’m gonna be SO stoked to come back to Cali. Either way, I’m not thinking about it now…too much to think about otherwise. This weekend, we’re having a BBQ and soccer match in Boseong. I’m so stoked for a laid-back low key weekend with some friends, and hopefully some legit dogs and burgers (not getting my hopes up toooo much tho).

NEXT UP: posting vids of my kids so you can see school! Ryan and I also made a short stop-motion tribute to Dream Girl that we’ll hopefully have up soon too.

As my Korean schoolchildren now say every time they go anywhere…


Pachuca Sunset

Hey everybody! Or maybe just the three or four of you who still check this after a week of nothing new – either way, we’re rewarding you with videos, pictures, and saucy tales for sticking around.

Ryan already covered our weekend trip to Busan, so I’ll spare you any redundancy and just bullet out the sickest parts:

– The beach in Busan (Gwangalli) reminded me of San Francisco SO much…the suspension bridge going out over the water was awesome to see…now if only I could find a beach that looked like one in SOCAL I’ll be money in the bank.

– We met up with some other TaLK scholars who I hadn’t realllly made much of an effort to befriend before…little did I know that a man named Dustin from Kansas U and I had something incredible in common. Sitting down at dinner one of the nights, I casually mentioned how leet a snappa game would be. His eyes lit up and I knew from that moment on we would be brothers. He played that venerable sport in college, but they call it “snap-on” and don’t drink on overthrows, along with a few other variations. You can imagine how stoked the girls were as Ryan, Dustin and I passed the 45 minute  mark still ranting about how awesome snappa is.

– Yes, we all hung out nude.

– I had my first legitimately hammered night in Korea on Angela’s birthday…David and I snuck some Soju into the bar we went to and were promptly told we couldn’t bring our own bottles in. So, the stealth option having been thrown out the window, we proceeded to brute force and finished what was left. Best part of the night was when the bar played that Cee-Lo song I’ve been obsessing over and making many of you listen to for the past  couple weeks…how did it already make it to Korea? (PS – apparently the radio edit is “Forget You”…doesn’t quite pack the same heat anymore)

Anyways, that was Busan. We’ve been in Hapcheon the rest of the week/weekend and plenty has happened. I taught the kids how to sportscast by making them memorize the commentary to Landon Donovan’s world cup goal against Algeria (video coming soon!), went to an eleven year old’s birthday party, and finally made it to the top of Kalmalsan – Thirsty Horse Mountain. Check out some pics:

The stepping stone bridge and beginning of the trail

Looking back on the first stretch

Jungle Jim

Welcome to the jungle...

SO MANY STAIRS…this is about halfway up, or at apprx. 11,000 feet elevation

I took the trail on the right...I was still fresh and thought I was close to the top...HA

The top is in sight...check it out, those trees are the same ones as right...

I took this one on the way back down...they light up the trail at night

This is basically saying that anyone who makes past the 10k stairs, mudslides, mosquitos, and mountain pigs is about to be rewarded with a view of their tiny town

Still rocking the short shorts

And here’s a vid so you can really see what it looked like up there (and then I run you back to my house):

Photostitch of the view of Hapcheon:

In the ciiityyyyy, city of Hapcheon

Busan Forghany

Author: Ryan

Ok Ok…

Last weekend was our first trip out of our rural hometown of Hapcheon.  For Angela’s birthday we all went to Busan which is the 2nd largest metropolitan city in Korea.  Busan was easily top 3 places I have ever been to.  Very similar to Seoul only one giant difference: the Pacific Ocean.

So we arrive in Busan on a Friday night after a two hour bus ride.  A ride filled with extremely windy roads and brutal motion sickness.  It was already pretty late, so the first night was just spent moderately excessively (does that make sense) drinking and catching up with friends who we hadn’t seen in a couple weeks.  About six of us stayed at a fellow TaLK scholars small, very uncomfortable abode…but you can’t complain with free night stays.

The next day we went to this enormous eleven story mall called Lotte.  After sorting through many breakfast options we finally decided to eat bagels and cream cheese compliments of Krispy Kremes.  We made our decision just in time to enjoy these embarrassing homosexual Russian acrobats jump on a trampoline for a Korean audience that watched in such amazement you would think they just saw Pi Kappa Alpha’s Arrowjam performance.  The mall was also equipped with a GNC.  Blood was quickly flooding to my privates with the mere thought of the possibility of protein powder reuniting with my lips but was quickly given pelotas azules as I discovered that a gallon of generic protein cost $180.  The Korean employees didn’t know how to react to a giant white man bawling crying on the ground of their store.   Probably the only other thing worth noting of the mall excursion was the men on stilts.  Koreans lined up for days just to be able to get a balloon animal or high five their stilted brethren.  I thought it was funny because they were about 6 inches taller than me.

After the mall we headed out to Gwangalli to play a pick up game of volleyball with some white people we found on the sands of South Korea.  We randomly ended up being placed on the same team as an ’08 Aggie alumni…the world gets smaller everyday.  After a couple games we decided to rinse off in the ocean water.  If you were curious, the other side of the Pacific Ocean is much warmer but has absolutely no waves.  Koreans couldn’t believe that people were so casually swimming in the ocean and even began forming large crowds to watch us.  I, unfortunately, forgot my boards in California so I was forced to swim in my boxers.  After attempting to body surf a half foot wave, I came out of the 2 foot deep water without realizing that my entire arse was exposed to the friendly beach patrons.  Our foreign fans didn’t know how to react to the full moon at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Little did I know however, that my ass wasn’t the only thing these Koreans were going to see that day…

After the beach we desperately needed to bathe.  The house we were staying at was about a 45 minute subway mission away so we made the obvious choice of going to a nearby, public Korean bath house called a Jimjilbang.

The Jimjilbang we went to is on the 6th floor of Hotel Homers, a hotel that overlooks the entire beach.  Once entering the bath house, you pay the man behind the counter $7 and he gives you a key that permits you access to two lockers.  One locker is for your shoes, the other is for all your clothes.  Once you put your stuff away and completely disrobe you walk down a little corridor and then enter the actual bath house.  As I continue to type this, I am going to close my eyes to most vividly describe what I saw.  About four steps in on your left side you notice about thirty Korean men ages 30 to about 50 sitting on small stools completely nude washing themselves with soaps and a detachable shower head in front of a mirror.  The shower stool stations are so close together, their knees are nearly touching the person next to them.  On the right side along the wall are about 15 normal, yet curtainless shower heads with a shelf containing shampoo, shaving cream, and a bar of soap.  Our friend Dave, Brian, and I took three adjacent shower heads and began showering as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring.  After the refreshing shower, we turned around to have our choice of relaxing in the “very hot,” “hot,” or “ocean water” small pool. We sat in the hot for awhile and reflected on how we could finally call ourselves friends.  After the pool sesh we went outside to the patio to find perfect temperature hot tubs that completely overlooked the Pacific Ocean and the Gwangan Bridge (see photo).  It was honestly one of the most invigorating experiences of my young adult life.  And to address the obvious question…the average Korean man’s pube length is about 9.5 inches long.  Locks of Love would have had a field day.

Imagine sitting back, staring at that sight from a 6th floor hotel patio, and reflecting on the fact that you are nude in Korea

After the tubs, we rinsed and hand toweled off.  The last perk of the shower house is the all you can use man scented lotions and palmade.  Needless to say we left with our chins held high, a new level of confidence, all while sporting our new comb overs and old man scent.

This is running a little long so I’ll just sum up some other things worth noting:

– Busan has more white people than Davis.  There are so many teachers living there that it was so easy to make friends.  I forgot the luxury of being able to eavesdrop on conversations.

– We went to a foreigners bar and got to play beer pong and flip cup.  I soulja boy’d with this sexy Korean girl.  It was fun trying to explain to her what the lyrics meant by pantomiming “super man dat hoe”

– Busan has lots of American food.  We ate hamburgers, fries, milkshakes, garlic bread, and this delicious pasta that was smothered in a Chicken Bacon sauce.  I still would have turned down all that food for some El Pollo Loco.

– We witnessed a Korean street fight between these two guys in their twenties over some girl…I was shouting things like “Left Down Circle” and “I’m holding R why isn’t he blocking?”

Korea for Dummies: Koreans do celebrate Christmas.  They decorate their Christmas trees and most of the children believe in Santa Claus.  Yes he is white.

Shout out to Megan Lerner.


My favorite 6th grader, Richie, had to memorize a speech for an English contest.  His paragraph was entitled “The Origin of the Universe.”  Part of it was to memorize all of the planets.  He was having trouble with one of them so I had him repeat it 100 times.

These are my 3rd and 4th graders playing the Number Relay Game.

p.s. We have made these great friends, Devin and Jessica, from the program and they are embarking on quite a unique concept.  They ingeniously came up with the idea to have the first ever Skype wedding!  However this will only happen if 1 million people join their facebook group.  These guys are honestly some of most amazing people I have ever met.  They didn’t even ask me to do this, they are just that great.  So please join and help spread the word.  Great Karma.


Something in the air

Short and Sweet

Children at play

Saw one of these bad boys chugging up the hill the other day, spewing smoke like it was on fire and perhaps seconds from leaving a smoking crater in the middle of the street. A lot of trucks are super old here, so I didn’t really think much of it until I asked someone what it was – apparently, after it rains, Koreans like to send trucks around oozing insecticide into the atmosphere. As much as I hate mosquitos (of any nation), doesn’t that seem like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer? At least I won’t have to worry about getting any mosquito bites in my lungs…

Maybe I’m just bitter because I can’t play kickball with the kids today because one of these contraptions just rattled by school…looks like it’s gonna be a word scramble kind of day.

Oh, and I’m FINALLY getting out of here! Busan this weekend! I hope my social skills haven’t totally degenerated over the past couple weeks! Stories to follow.

– Brian