Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My links

Some of you may have noticed that I have a few more "Li'l B" blog pages in my favorites on Facebook. A few weeks ago I got bored during the hours stuck in a tin can and decided to explore the web and get a jump on my writing career. Most of you know I plan to be a proffessional novelist when I can switch jobs. I realized that being oncall 24/7 for systemproblems left me with a lot of free time. Why wait for three years to enter the writing community and get friends that know the industry? That in mind I started a few more blogs and have more plans. With all this going on I figured it would be nice to tell you all about my different sites.

Li'l B's Ramblings is this blog. (obviously :) ) It is designed to tell my family and friends (the ones who know me from my life before the writing) about what is going on in my life, where I visit, and what I do with my various hobbies.

Li'l B's Writing Journey is a blog for writers by a writer. Though it may talk about publishing industry news or internet marketing news or facts, it is more designed to help improve story writer's latest works. I'm currently writing a series on how to create characters, things to keep in mind about their past. My next series will be about things to think about while world building for sci-fi writers.

Li'l B's Reviews for Writers is my newest blog and doesn't have a post yet. I'm planning to review things like the books to improve my writing that I read anyway and to analyze movies I feel useful to writers for whatever purpose. Again, this is a blog based for writers by a writer. It is also my main "moneymaker". I'm looking into internet marketing and plan to test out different ideas on this site whereas my travel blog won't have advertising (at least for now) and Writing Journey is based more towards facts than advertising money.

SC's Discoveries is a story I need to restart. It was an idea for a writing outlet before I did enough research to really make a writing home anywhere. It was also meant to be like a blog with me coming up with a weeks worth of blogs at a time and not really thinking beyond that. I have since realized that way is horrible for writing a good story. Without knowing where I want each character to end up, it's kind of hard to write a coherent story. Now I'm trying to figure out a rough but more detailed outline for the story before continuing. Unfortunately I get distracted easily and am having trouble just sitting down and doing the work.

My profile on Writing.com is a more up-to-date place for my writings. I currently have two short stories up there and am working on two more right now. These stories are what I believe is called "flash fiction" which means really short and often written in a very short time. My current idea is to keep all my stories under or around two thousand words, which is only about two pages typed at size twelve font. Many of my stories right now are background for characters that will meet for a book or series on a space station. I plan to have background stories on about twenty characters and keep in mind each of their stories throughout the work or series. It sounds like a challenge but those are fun and a writer is always looking to grow. However, I still have little more than a few characters and a few random ideas for the story so it's a while off still. However, I'm always loking for feedback so feel free to stop by and let me know what you think.

That's all I have up for now. Soon I plan to put up a profile on Squidoo.com that I'll keep up to date as well as starting a jewelry line/site for my jewelry line which I'm thinking of naming LRuth Designs. However, that site is a while off. I need to finish the two projects I'm currently working on and my focus is more on my writing than on my beading. One of my New Years Resolutions (or close enough) was to send a book out to publishers by the end of the year. I'm done with the first draft and realized I now need to completely rewrite it. Iforgot to show the main character has emotions!! Stupid me, oh well, it goes with the learning part of writing. Anyways, I adjusted the plan to having the rewrite and another draft done by New Years and send out the query letter by the end of January. The general rule for writing a a query letter is not to send it out until your work is perfect but the examples say that just getting a reply can take months. By then I'll have had at least another month to do another draft and see how it is.
Well, that's all for now. Feel free to stop by anywhere and let me know what you think. For now this is Li'l B signing off and hoping you all a lovely week.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A different type of barbeque

The next time I went out in town in Korea was with my coworkers. One of them had found a nice authentic Korean barbeque place and he insisted we go there every time we get here. Unlike the place in International Market, this one we sat on the floor on pillows and cooked our own meat on an actual grill instead of on a platter on a grill. Also at this store the vegetables were on the side, as were the sauces, instead of getting cooked with the meat and boiling off the sauce. They brought out hot coals to cook the meat over and leaves (basil and lettuce) to make a wrap out of the cooked meat and any sides we may want. The meat were pork and steak while the sides were rice, soup, kimchi, kimchi cakes, radish slices, sprouts, various sauces, and a few other things I really didn’t use with the meat. It was awesome by itself.
After we finished the meal half of us headed back with a side trip to ice cream and the other half went to International Market for Krispy Crème donuts. After donuts L and I went to the DVD store. She was looking for another CD and I was just looking while she shopped. The American CDs were a rather well represented although I listen to country and it’s not as popular overseas. I wound up buying two old movies and a new one for about ten dollars all together. Not bad considering that The Three Faces of Eve has been on my list to watch for a while. It’s the only movie I know of based around a girl with multipersonality disorder and it earned an Oscar for best actress. Other than that, I really haven’t done anything interesting in Korea yet. So this is Li’l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely day.

Korea version 2 part 1

My first day in Korea was marked by fog. We couldn’t pull in because of the fog so we wound up sitting out in the sea for hours waiting to be able to see anything. I left with a friend, I’ll call her L, mid-morning and we went to what we call International Market. (I’m not sure what the real name is but that term fits.) The place is one of the typical places we can get buses to so whenever we stop here the market is an awesome place to get anything from designer clothes to vendor clothes sold in street stands to cheap jewelry to expensive jewelry to household goods to lighting fixtures. We got to the market by 11 and decided lunch was first on the menu so we found a Korean barbeque place. Now that probably brings to mind the sauce many Americans put on their grilling and call “bbq”. Not so with the Korean style. Korean barbeque is really food brought to the table uncooked and put on a stovetop put in the table. Many Koreans cook the food themselves but the restaurant we went to wouldn’t let us cook ours. They monitored the time and came back to stir our dish of meat, bean sprouts, and tofu pieces until they decided it was okay for us to start eating the dish. (That may have had something to do with the fact that we had a small squid uncut cooking under there to begin with. After it had cooked some they cut the squid into bite sized pieces and mixed it in to cook with the rest.) The food was good (the squid a little chewy but good) although I did learn something about the sauce. The longer it sits on the heated pan, the more liquid evaporates therefore turning a moderately spicy dish into an eye watering dish. (Mental note to self: stirring can be bad after letting it sit a while.) After we got done eating we went wandering around the market some. She was looking for clothes and a specific CD of a Korean band and I was looking at clothes, jewelry, souvenirs… Unfortunately the gloomy day didn’t help our mood. Neither of us were quite in the mood to buy anything. After about an hour of mindless wandering we finally walked to a Lotte Center which is like the Dias in Japan: a large department store that is more like a mall with all the separate designers having separate areas to sell things in. L figured it would be a good place to find a CD store or clothes she may like. Yeah, didn’t happen. There were no CDs or DVDs and the clothes were too expensive. ($130 for a pair of Levis? Not quite my cup of tea.) We wandered up six floors of the place before giving up and deciding to take the train to another Lotte Center this one was connected to a Lotte Hotel with a casino inside. After wandering for about an hour in the Center (she bought a jacket and I got a shake so we were happier) I commented that I’d never been to a casino. We were barely halfway through the afternoon so we went to the casino. It was small and barely occupied. Two of the four poker tables were being played, the roulette tables were closed, and only five to eight of the maybe forty slots were in use. There is a reason for that as it’s illegal for Koreans to gamble. The only reason they allow the casino is attached to an international hotel for tourists. I spent maybe twenty dollars and won at least half that back and lost it again before we left after another hour.
However, L got the directions to a CD store in walking distance and we headed out. We walked in to a book store thinking that was it. Nope, just a few levels of Korean books. We walked out the store on the second floor…right across from an art store. Yeah, we both got lost in there. She found special pens for drawing cartoons and bought them. She explained in the US they get bought for about $10 a pen, in the store they sold for about $4. Not bad. She bought 24. Combined with notebooks, cool Asian papers, lots of stickers and a few random things, she spent about $200 there. I managed to find thick gauge wire in black, green, and blue that I bought. Eventually I’ll make them into awesome chain maille jewelry or wire wrapped pendants. I’ve been keeping my eyes out for good gauge colored wire and decided to buy a lot since on thick gauges you get less length. Combined with some notebooks to organize my writings and stuff needed to organize study for work, my stuff came out to under fifty bucks. Much more conservative than my friend’s. However, the stuff she got was much less expensive there and she was happy with all her buys. (I’ve seen some of her art by her new pens and they do look pretty cool. Now if only I could draw beyond stick figures…) After that we went downstairs and she bought her CD and I found a set of ten female Disney movies for about twelve dollars so we left the building happy.
By then it was almost supper time so we decided to call it a day and went to Mr. Pizza for supper. Their motto is “Mr. Pizza Love for Women.” I know that because she had been saying that phase all week in her cute Korean voice. Luckily she didn’t say it so much that it lost the humor so going there for super was good. The point of that store is Korean pizza. That means corn on most of the pizzas which wasn’t too odd. The sweet potato filling instead of cheese in the crust was odd but not bad. We got a 4 in1 pizza that had their main four pizzas mixed on one pizza, two pieces per type. I must say that though it definitely wasn’t American, the meal was still pretty good.
All in all we had a good day out in Korea and I’m glad I went out. Until next time, this is Li’l B signing out and wishing you all a lovely week.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My thoughts on Manila

What do I think of Manila? It is definitely dirtier than the US or Japan, it looks a lot more gritty with more littering. Also there are a number of people who were really thin, especially in the inner city. However, my idea or a poor country was obviously created by those “sponsor a kid” commercials I used to see on television. Seeing a kid in the neighborhood H4H set up walking around with an IPod and hearing a number of radios in that community surprised me, as did the fact that all the people who got houses in the community were expected to pay back the $3000 dollars it took to build the houses in three years. Granted, that’s still really cheap and easily done in a few months by most families in the US, but it changed my view of a “poor” country some. I’m glad the kids there all have clothes to wear and food to eat, mostly (there was a comment made that some people can only afford one meal a day in some places in the Philippines). It just changed my view of a poor country from a super-poor country to a moderately poor country. That whole “dollar a day” thing wouldn’t have been much good for the kids of the community we worked in, though maybe in more rural communities. Oh well, I guess that’s why we travel to these countries: to see what life really is like instead of believing what the television tells us.
I apologize if these posts weren’t as interesting as usual. The days I was out I would much rather have been sleeping so I didn’t get to excited or adventurist while out. I guess I would recommend visiting Manila as long as you have a friend that can get you around safely and ignore the litter on the streets and the poor architecture lining most streets of family shops and homes. The city is designed for tourism and there are many interesting shops and amusements around the city.
That's all for this trip so this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely week.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My last day in Manila

The second full day started much the same as the first with me not willing to get out of bed. However, I had set up a tour for the day, the second one I’d been on since getting on this ship, and couldn’t stay in bed. We met on the pier about 8:30 am and got in a truck, three people from the ship and me. The tour guide said it was too early for the museums to be open so had we eaten breakfast? We all had so we stopped at Starbuck’s for a snack and then went to an ATM. After that one of the girls wanted to see the Church of San Augustine so that was next. Apparently the church is one of three Basque churches in the Philippines and is on an endangered church list because the neighborhood can no longer maintain it. Most of the church, minus the sanctuary of course, is now a museum of Catholic history in the Philippines. It was interesting, although I’m not Catholic so I thought there was too much of it and the paintings were obviously not done by Western painters. However, the ceiling of the sanctuary was amazing. I took a few pictures to put up later but the ceiling looks like it’s intricately carved. The amazing part is that it is pure painting and shading to give that impression. Well done paint job. The next place we went was Fort Santiago. It was once the entrance point of the Walled City, or their old capital. At one point the capital was a large walled triangle with Fort Santiago as the seaside point. Now the area is a number of buildings in various states of disrepair. I took pictures but it was hot and I chose to sit in the shade rather than explore too much. After the fort we crossed the street to a store that sold native crafts and jewelry. Apparently pearls are very common here and rather inexpensive. After the store we got back in the truck and went to the Oceanarium for lunch and a trip through the aquarium. I had a spaghetti with chicken on top but the sauce was a native green thing, kind of spicy but not really hot and watermelon juice (hm, heaven). It was a good meal although maybe I should have gotten an appetizer like my companions. After that was the trip through the exhibits which were cool. I was starting to tire and after being at the aquarium under Mall of America and the aquarium at Monterey, this one wasn’t amazing, although the shark tank was cool.
Our last stop was the Mall of Asia. The type of stores were similar to Mall of America, as in designer names and more expensive than usual, but it was nice. The mall has a theater with about six or seven screens, an ice rink about the size of one at a park back home, and an open air center for concerts of such. I was there during a competition for martial arts involving sticks and only the one person, not an opponent. Interesting but not in my mood and with my lack of knowledge. One thing I should mention is that at least a fourth of the mall is outdoors. I ate at a popular fast food place called Chowking which served a mix of Chinese food and Filipino food. I had a mix plate that was rather good. When we were dropped off the tour guide gave us a balut to try and the others opted out so I got to try one. A balut is a chicken or duck egg fertilized and let to grow for a few days before being boiled. Luckily my egg hadn’t formed the fetus yet but the white stuff was definitely harder than the usual egg. Um, yeah, not trying that again.
That's all for today, come back tomorrow for my impressions of Manila. Until then: this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

First full day in Manila

One of the first things I should mention when starting this day was one of the first things my friends told me: traffic rules in the Philippines are mere suggestions. People merge left and right with no signals, they make lanes wherever there’s room, despite the street markings, and motorcycles and what they call tricycles travel between cars as if they are always seen, darting here and darting there. Because of this the coordinators decided we needed protection so the two buses, one for our group and one for a group of Filipinos, were sandwiched between a squad car in front and a SWAT car in back as well as a few cars from the Embassy since they had set it up. On the way I took a number of pictures of the poor conditions: the shacks the people live in, a pile if trash that almost looks like the recycle bin somewhere, people on bikes, people in jeepayes, some pictures of their tricycles, an interesting picture of a billboard for corned tuna… I’ll put those up soon as we hit home port again. Jeepayes are cars that lo k kinda like pickups but have a cover with open sides and benches inside. They seem to serve as the main city buses here, traveling a specified route but without marked stops anywhere. Thy see, to be privately owned as each one is decorated differently though many are merely “decorated” with brand names and advertisements. The tricycles are pedal bikes or motor bikes connected to a seat with a cover that rolled next to it. The tricycles seem to be the poor man’s taxis as there are actual car taxis around too.
I guess the project is actually a community H4H has basically built from the squatters up to actual cement homes. Apparently landowners get annoyed at squatters (people who live and work the land but don’t pay rents or such) when the land is doing bad and they need more land so they kick the squatters off. The H4H group in Manila got a large donation of land from a church and decided to build a community for those squatters. By the time we got there, over a hundred houses had been built in over twenty years by H4H and other houses had probably been built by the inhabitants. It was a nice community even if it was really poor. Most of the houses were one story and maybe ten by ten or fifteen by fifteen for an entire family. The project we were to work on was the daycare/preschool for the community. Some of the guys worked on shoveling rocks into the mixer while others passed the buckets of cement up to the second floor to lay it out and the rest of us painted black metal pieces red. It was an interesting morning. Did you know Tagalog is the main language of Manila (behind English) but that it’s not quite the main native language? If I understood the guy right, each province has its own dialect that is basically a different language. I hadn’t known that. Anyways, they brought lunch for us all and it was donated by McDonalds, the main pizza place in the area, and KFC as well as we were given samples of strawberry Oreos. (for the record, the Oreos were not disgusting. The strawberry filling was rather tasty and the cookie was the regular Oreo cookie, but they were not good mixed.) The food was delicious but I had been hoping for local cuisine. Oh well, it was what it was. Unfortunately I had two cups of soda. I had meant to only have one but didn’t want to be rude a decline another. Yeah, hot day, burning sun, and I always have trouble getting enough water. The soda was not a good idea. When I went back to painting it was to dizziness every time I straightened up. Luckily I only had two more pieces to paint to we got o sit down (the painters) and watch while the community kids finished a game. Then the other painters joined a game until it started raining and we dashed to the community center to avoid the downpour. Fortunately for the community the rain held off until a few minutes after the cement layers had finished so everything that was supposed to get done that day got done.
We ran for the community center as the guy in charge from our ship had a plaque to give the community members. Yeah, big group, small area, everyone talking over the pelting rain on the metal roof, people trying to get my email and while away the time talking. Forcing smiles gets really annoying after a while. Eventually I realized the bus was open and a few people were already in there so I made a dash. Hmm, silence, or at least order. Not long after that we headed out and made it back in time for me to get chow, do some work, and do my laundry.
Well, that's all for the second day so I'll sign out now and wish you all a lovely day until tomorrow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My first night in the Phillipines

Okay, first day out:
Actually it was the night. We pulled in and the week had been stressful and the day chaotic. I had planned a night to rest and reboot. Instead my friend decided she wanted to go out and asked me. In all honesty, I just wanted to sleep, I was really dragging. However, I said yes and we went to a mall called Glorietta Mall. It turned out to be five separate buildings in one area. Section one was the cheapest, it had the movie theater and fast food places as well as the cheaper boutiques and the Asian version of Snyders. There I picked up three different packs of American candy (Gobstoppers, Pixie Sticks, and Runts) that should last me a while. They are excellent ways to stay awake, much like chewing gum but my jaws complain when I chew too much gum. We also found a store called Tickles that was just a random collage of useful or amusing things. My friend bought a lighter that looks like a light bulb (and glows too) as well as a lighter nearly six inches tall. I picked up a screwdriver with seven different tips and looked at a case with a fork, a spoon, and chopsticks you twist together so four pieces make two. It was an interesting store. We travelled through all but one of the buildings and wound up having Bubba Gump for supper. I know I’ve complained about going overseas and eating American food but when we saw Bubba Gump on the menu we didn’t really look at anything else. Sometimes good old American food just hits the spot. However, if you want food from every nationality to choose from, go to Glorietta mall. I saw a lot of Italian places, a number of local chains, and Bubba Gump was next to a “modern Filipino” restaurant and across from an Arabic/Persian/Indian place. Quite a lot for diversity. However, we were barely done with supper about 7 pm when I apologized but told her I was done for the night. I needed to get to bed so I could get up regular time to work on the Habitat for Humanity project I had signed up for the next day. We wound up waiting for the bus for about a half hour in which it was raining. The thing about many of these island countries is that it rains without warning and rains hard. We were lucky that the hotel behind the bus stop had a covered entrance so we stood there. We still didn’t get back until about 8:30 and then decided to take a quick look through the venders set up on the pier for us. Neither of us planned to buy anything. However, she got a house in a bottle and I bought a mother of pearl heart pendant and a large amber pendant for about twenty dollars together. Not a bad deal.
Well, that was my first experience in Manila, Philippines and this is me signing off and wishing you all a lovely night.