Tidbits of Inspiration: Home Sweet Clan Home

I’d never heard of the Tulou of China before, but now that I have, I can’t help but find them fascinating.

If you are like me, and had never heard of them before, allow me to summarize.  A tulou is a type of communal housing: a large structure housing an entire clan of people.  It’s built around a central courtyard, facing inward, with earthen walls facing outward to defend against raiders and enemies. They are designed as concentric rings (circular or square) and rise up to four stories on the outside. But the description doesn’t do it justice. You need to see it to understand why reading about them inspired me:

A Tulou in Fujian

A Tulou in Fujian, by Fon Zhou (CC-BY-NC)

Another Tulou

A Tulou in Fujian, by ryanocerosk (CC-BY-NC-SA)

 

One more picture of a tulou

A Tulou in Fujian, by ksquare77 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

You begin to see why I found the idea of the tulou inspiring?  Click on the photos to go to a  “Fotopedia” page with a slideshow of more images of tulous.  There’s something oddly romantic about these archaic dwellings that housed entire clans, centered as they often were around altars to the ancestors.  There’s definitely something inspiring if you enjoy fantasy or historical fiction and period romance.  The place just screams with story.

Writing Projects and the Secrecy Thereof

It’s been a slow month for updates around these parts, lately.  It was now a month ago when I first heaved-ho for farther shores on my recent class trip, and I’ve only covered the first few days of the trip in blogging about it…  Certainly, various factors have conspired to keep me away from the keyboard of late, insofar as my blog is concerned.  Among these, of course, are the usual suspects (which are even more usual and suspect than usual): work, school, et al.  But I would be remiss in pinning all of the blame on these (even if it ought to be the majority of it… ahh, lunch-hours spent happily blogging away, how do I miss thee).  The truth of it is, even what little writing time I have had has largely been spent working on something else.

That is, I have had a “Secret Project”.

This being a writer’s blog, my mentioning of a “secret project” will immediately lead you to the conclusion that I have been writing something, but do not feel at liberty to discuss the details as yet because they have not been finalized.  That may be somewhat true-ish.  At this point, it’s done (and I can no longer claim it as an excuse), but I have chosen not to reveal everything at this time. 

But, as writers’ secret projects go, in the grander scheme of things, you may find this one a bit underwhelming.  It’s significant to me, because it means I’ve been writing, and except for this blog, I don’t often have time to do that.  And it’s significant for me for other reasons, as well. 

Suffice to say, however, that in the fullness of time all will be revealed – but for now, though I’m done writing it, I have a “Secret Project”.  Hurrah!

Istanbul & Athens Trip Part 2: Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night

Actually, I wouldn’t have any idea if it was a moonlit night – the cloud cover was too thick – but I did try Turkish Delight late one evening.  There are, thankfully, varieties that don’t involve nuts or coconut – two ingredients I generally avoid as I am not terribly fond of them.  After all, as the saying goes, when in Rome… And, for that matter, Istanbul was once a capital of the Roman Empire.

One of the fun things about visiting a foreign country is learning and immersing yourself in another culture and another language.  Sadly, I learned very little about the Turkish language itself – I was surrounded most of the time by English-speakers (my fellow classmates) and many signs were easily readable or interpretable by English-speakers or included English translations.  But, I did want to learn, at least, how to pronounce Turkish. Continue reading

Painting the Town Yellow

I guess it’s that time of year.  I usually associate the mass quantities of yellow dust with Fall, when the Pines make a mess of the world.  But yesterday I woke up to find my car dusted with yellow pollen.

I guess it’s just springtime.

That might explain why Dear Wife and I have spent the past couple weekends working in our garden, planting new flowers.  B.T. thought it was great… and he made his own mess of things while he watched us work.

Istanbul & Athens Trip Part 1: Epic Quest in Istanbul

Domes & Minarets

You know you're in Istanbul when you see the domes and minarets... You know it's the off-season when you see the gray, gray skies...

The MBA program I’m in requires of its students that “your feet touch foreign soil” before you graduate, except under extenuating circumstances.  It’s perhaps a little odd for an evening program, whose students mostly have full-time jobs, when the same school does not have the same requirement of its full-time MBA students (whose only regular daytime commitment is generally to their education), but there you go.  Except for the added expense (and the necessary time-off from work) I don’t mind the requirement.  I enjoy the opportunity to travel. 

Students are able to fill this requirement in one of two ways: they can do an international class during one of the regularly-scheduled study-abroad courses, or they can participate in the annual “International Colloquium”.  Each graduating class selects its own Colloquium destination (within certain guidelines) and this year we chose a combined two-city itinerary in Turkey and Greece.  And so, a few weeks ago now, my bags packed I hopped on a plane that took me half-a-world away to my first stop in the city of Istanbul, a city with ancient roots rich in history. Continue reading

Happy St. Patty’s Day

I hope you have a wonderful Wearin’ O’ the Green.  You know what they say:  Éirinn go Brách!

It was a year ago, today, that I posted the second of my travelogues about a trip in Ireland my Dear Wife and I took – the second being about what I learned of the Irish language from our time there.  That post is still one of the most popular posts on my blog.  (Which reminds me, I haven’t updated my “Popular Posts” page in ages; I’ll have to get around to that soon.)  Hardly a day goes by when I don’t get at least one search hit on that page.  I guess people are interested in learning more about Irish Gaelic.  So am I…

Now I promise to put up more about my more recent trip soon.  I’ve been working on some posts, but they’re not quite ready.  Soon, my friends.  Soon.

Planning for Pantsers

Two weeks ago, as I wrapped up my series of posts on writing Mythopoeia, I mentioned that it would be useful, if you want to produce a work of mythopoeia as the bedrock of your speculative fiction novel, to employ a “planning” method for writing.  Whereas, of course, this can be difficult for someone who’s a “pantser” – someone who writes by the seat of their pants, otherwise known as a discovery writer.

I’m mostly a planner, myself, but betimes I am also occassionaly a pantser.  Meaning, I think writing style is more of a continuum than a binary either/or proposition.  There are times when one methodology is preferrable over the other, I think, but neither is inherently better or worse in general.  I, for instance, will tend to “pants” it when working on shorter-length fiction.  But for those who hover closer to the pantser side of the Force more often than not, treading into the world of planning can seem… shall we say… daunting at times? Continue reading

Tidbits of Inspiration: Real Life Superheroes

This.

Is.

Awesome.

How many times, as a kid, did I fantasize about doing just what these guys are doing?  I cannot even count.  I even drew images of the costume I would wear.

I lack the martial arts training, though.  Also, my parents didn’t die tragically when I was younger.

Batten Down the Hatches

It’s been a crazy week around these parts, which accounts for the lack of any posts of substance.  The first few days back State-side, of course, I was suffering from jet-lag as I re-adjusted to life in the Eastern Time Zone.  It wasn’t that hard, but I got very tired very early in the evening.

Add to that coming back from a week away from work meaning that I was swamped with plenty to do, there, too.

And I expect it to be a busy weekend, as well.  But I’ve got some of those pictures, as promised, waiting in the wings.  I just need a little wiggle-room in the timescape to get them uploaded.

Where Have I Been?

Some of you may have noticed last week my complete lack of response to comments  to posts here (there were quite a few), and wondered what may have been up.  It’s even possible some few of you were worried.

Well, the following almost sums up what became of me during the week.

Yes, well, that only tells part of the story – but it’s the only part with a snazzy song sung by They Might Be Giants  and a Tiny Toons music video to go with it.  Alternately, the following could serve as an illustration of  the latter leg of my trip:

That’s right: I spent last week first in the city of Istanbul and then in that cradle of Greek Mythology (of which Clash of the Titans is something of a bastardized kin), in Athens.  It was an awesome trip.

This was part of the MBA program that I’m wrapping up this semester – the last requirement that I need to fulfill, excepting the class I’m in right now.  The school calls it an “International Colloquium”, and the goal is to learn about real business as it happens in an international context (in this case Turkey and Greece).  Which meant I spent a good amount of time there in company and agency visits learning about the business and investment climates.  But there was no shortage of site-seeing, either.  I’ll have a few pictures up later this week (my camera died upon arrival in Athens, so I’ll be waiting for a few classmates to post some pictures from that leg, but I’ll share a few gems from Istanbul momentarily).  Expect a write-up of the experience later this week or early next…