Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Praise of Hatshepsut


Every so often I like to praise blog that I’ve been following for sometime and one that is exceptional in some way or another. Today, I’d like to give some good kudos to Stephanie Thornton’s blog, Hatshepsut. If you haven’t seen her awesome blog, join the hundreds of other users who follow her frequent posts and intriguing articles every week.

Centered around her own writing endeavors, particularly regarding the famous Hatshepsut of ancient Egypt (if you don’t know who she is, try Wikipedia…trust me you won’t be disappointed) Stephanie’s blog encompasses everything from authorial interests to great contests to just plain fun. A few weeks back she hosted a great contest where fellow bloggers posted haikus on their favorite characters or just things that interested them in general. All in all it was a great success and a spectacular way to see other’s work and get in touch with fellow writers everywhere.  

What I find particularly refreshing about Stephanie’s Hatshepsut blog is her mix of quirky topics combined with some genuinely interesting blog posts. But, like I often say, don’t take my word for it. Check out her site for yourself at, and see what you’ve been missing! Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reading Aloud

Thank God it’s Friday! In my efforts to send you all into the weekend with some happy thoughts I thought I’d bring up a great little pastime that my wife and I have engaged in over the last few weeks. Good old fashioned…reading out loud.

We’ve chosen The Hobbit for our fireside evenings where we each take turns reading aloud to each other from a chapter or so of the book each night. It’s such a different experience compared to reading a book quietly to yourself alone and it’s a great way to relive one of your favorite books that you may have already read and reread many times over. It’s also a great way to experience a story as a group and not just as an individual.

So, my suggestion to all of you this weekend is to find some valued peers, maybe a loved one, maybe a family member, or maybe even a friend or two and all decide on a favorite book you’d like to read aloud to one another. If you’ve got the right setting and some comfort food or tea nearby that’s always a nice added touch. With the season of fall recently begun and many cold winter nights after that on their way, it’s a pastime worth trying, and who knows, it maybe just the adventure you’ve been looking for! Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

San Bruno Fire


Today, I write about the sad events of September 9 where a gas main exploded in a quiet neighborhood in my town, San Bruno, California, creating a disastrous fire that at one point literally rose over 1,000 feet into the air. I’ve taken a while in writing this as my wife and I were actually away on vacation when this tragedy occurred, and although our home and families are alright, many of our neighbors up the hill have suffered the worst. In this typical suburb south of San Francisco several people have died, dozens of homes were destroyed outright, and many other properties badly damaged. Needless to say, this tragedy strikes people on many levels, both personally and financially and we need your help. 

The local community has rallied with people volunteering, making donations, and offering all kinds of support. Three of those who died in the fire came from our local parish, and St. Robert’s Church not only acted as a relief area for survivors, but has also started their own fund for the victims of the fire. In addition, people have offered their time and aid at the local Red Cross chapter, helping at the temporary shelters and even giving blood.

Even if you do not live nearby and you would like to help, both the Salvation Army and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation have set up separate funds for those affected by this disaster. Several local companies have donated money, like Google who provided $50,000 to the Red Cross and is matching any employees’ donations as well. You-Tube (owned by Google) is actually headquartered in San Bruno. In addition, there are numerous other ways to help the survivors and families here. People have even started garage sales with all of the proceeds going to burn victims. It is difficult to convey the destruction of this fire as the damaged neighborhood has been cordoned off from the public for the time being. However, I have posted two images from Google Earth below to give you a better concept of what has happened. The first image is of the neighborhood before the blast and the second one after. Even if you cannot donate time and money to this worthy cause, your prayers are also most welcome. Thank you.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back from Greece!


Alright, so some of you may have wondered why I haven’t blogged for the past two weeks. Well, my wife and I took some much needed vacation time and backpacked through Greece. In a word it was…awesome!

We started in Athens and hit up all the big sights like the Acropolis and the museums before taking a daytrip to the ancient oracle at Delphi. After that we started island hopping via ferries across the sparkling Aegean Sea. I have never seen such perfectly blue water and it felt great to swim in it. Beneath clear blue skies and a searing sun we traversed islands such as Paros, Santorini, and Crete. We hiked through the ruins of Knossos and Phaestos, ate such delicacies as goat (trust me, in Crete the goat is to die for), drank plenty of raki (Greek moonshine), and hiked the breathtaking, but treacherous Samaria Gorge down to the Libyan Sea. All in all, a trip of high adventure.

But we also managed to relax plenty as well, thank God. For my fellow book-lovers out there, I can’t emphasize enough how trekking through Greece was like stepping into a storybook. Places like Athens and Thebes that I had read about in epic mythology or tragedy plays actually exist today, and picturesque towns like Hania on the west coast of Crete look like they came straight out of a renaissance painting with their Venetian ramparts and harbor-side pensions. Don’t listen to all the media garble about Greece in the news right now. Trust me, if you love adventurous hikes, relaxing beaches, and the summer sunshine, book a flight for Greece now. Getting there is the toughest part, but once you’ve done the flight you can hop from one island to another on a shoestring budget and still live like a king. Now, that I’m back to the grind here at home you can look forward to regular updates on my blog once again. Thanks everyone for your patience during my two week hiatus.   

Friday, September 3, 2010

Haiku and Hiatus


Hey all, today I have two topics to post about. The first regards Stephanie Thorton’s haiku contest, which requires participants to post their haikus on their blogs. Secondly, I will be taking a little break from blogging for the next week or two, I’ll explain later. But fear not! I’ll be very much ready to roll with upcoming events on my blog, such as my continued saga with trying to get literary agents to say “yes” to my novel as well as other writing and book related themes.

So have a good weekend and tune back in to my blog in another week or two. In the meantime, here are two of my haikus for the contest. I’m not big on following rules to the letter, but these poems are haiku enough for me. Tread lightly, I’m much more novelist now rather than poet, but it’s been fun trying nonetheless.

Autumnal woodlands
Champagne tree tops and wine stains
Upon the bone moon 

Sunshine on a pond
Like tree rings, wet reflections
Drift over the water

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Green Apple Books


This last weekend, after checking out the awesomeness of the Impressionists exhibit at San Francisco’s De Young museum, I tromped over to the Richmond District and enjoyed a great independent bookstore known as Green Apple Books. If you haven’t been, it’s a must when you’re in the west side of the city. With independent bookstores all around the country struggling to survive, I make sure to patronize any of these establishments when I find them near my home.  

Aside from an awesome collection of new and old books, this store has a great layout. I term it the “labyrinth” as its winding stairways and multi-levels have rooms that allow you to enter and exit in different combinations, truly enabling you to get “lost” in the world of books. In addition, the store’s colorful staff read books with a passion and can give you great advice on any genre. Many of their books upfront feature favorites of the shop-keeps’ with handwritten reviews on their picks of the week. I myself grabbed a copy of Döblin’s work, a German novelist I’ve never read before, recommended by the staff there.

In addition, this crowded part of town features some great restaurants, particularly Asian themes varying form Vietnamese to Chinese to Burmese to Thai and every kind of fusion in between. I recommend Burma Superstar, just down the street, where their combination plates of Burmese and Thai food will please just about any palette. Parking in the area can get pretty crazy, but just keep your meter fed (a quarter only buys you 8 minutes). Otherwise, trust me it’s a good way to spend a Saturday with friends and fellow book enthusiasts alike. So go check it out, and let me know what you think.