Available on Amazon – Beyond the Picket Fence


Rules, traditions of the past, and assumptions… all have been swept away by rapid social change. Instead of freeing people this has left us stressed, confused, unprepared, and unable to navigate different environments and situations that can be more than just hostile. Environments outside suburbia can become dangerous — especially for teens and young adults.

Arrests, violence, and rapes often befall young people when they go ‘out to party.’ Originally this book was — literally — about how not to get killed while outside suburbia and in places where it is easy to cross unspoken lines. Yet the best meaning prohibitions usually fall on deaf ears. This book takes a different approach. We’re not telling young people, “Don’t go.” We know they’ll go. Instead we’ll them what they need to look out for when they wander outside their home’s picket fence. We’ll help them stay out of jail or the emergency room.

At the same time, this book is about a whole lot more…

To the young reader:
Giving you the knowledge to remain safe is still the primary purpose of this book. But it grew beyond just that. It turned into a primer on how to read unspoken rules in environments, recognize what is important in different places, and how not to shoot yourself in the foot in the adult world. There are many ways to destroy your education, career, and relationships when you don’t understand local rules.

This book isn’t a list of do’s, don’ts, and platitudes from times past. It’s about deep structures that underlie both spoken and unspoken rules. Mostly it’s about how to figure them out before you get into trouble by breaking them. When we talk about how to get along in foreign countries, we also show you how to get along here at home. Due to ‘normalcy bias,’ seeing the different rules at home is actually a lot harder. These rules also can change after just walking through a door, crossing an imaginary line, signing a piece of paper, or not knowing exactly whom you’re talking to. It’s a frustrating and confusing mess, but you have to figure out how it works. This book will help you do that.

To parents:
This book isn’t just useful when you send a son or daughter off to college. It’s for you and the kids still at home. Life has taught you some things are very important and others less so. Often this knowledge is subconscious — including why doing something is a good idea or a really bad one. It’s difficult and frustrating to try to consciously explain something you know subconsciously to young people — especially the ‘why.’ Again, this book makes it easier.

To those who have an abusive and dysfunctional background:
Have you ever felt there was a ‘rulebook’ given to everyone else but you? This book will help you figure out those rules.


You are on your way to work. The traffic is light, which is good as you stand a fair chance of showing up late. As you take your car around a turn, it shudders with the thud of impact. Shocked out of your haven’t-had-any-coffee blues, you glance in the rear view mirror. A shiny Jetta is at your heels, bumper to bumper. With a sigh, you ease your ride over to the curb and get out, walking quickly up to the other vehicle; you want to get this taken care of and fast.

The other driver opens her door and steps out; it’s a woman in her early twenties, slender and short. At your approach, she shrinks back. Her eyes widen, her hand darting into her purse. “What the hell is her problem?” flashes through your mind as you smother an annoyed grimace. You didn’t have time to shave that morning, but you aren’t exactly a Neanderthal. Anyway, she’s the one at fault here.

Nervousness peeks around your irritation and stops you in your tracks. The young woman’s hand rummages in her purse, her eyes full of fear…

As the saying goes, shit happens.