In Which the Gecko Barks About Books

A Cub Scout Reading and Writing Merit Badge. I was never a scout -- or a Weblo *snigger* -- but if I was, I would have had this badge.A Life Less Ordinary? Check. But It’s Books and Writing That Float My Boat

I suppose I have lead a life less ordinary – not a fantastic life, or one worthy of particular note, no — not the stuff of books. But I’ve taken roads less traveled that have taken me far away from my MidWestern, suburban American roots. Such is the life of a journalist with a penchant for wanderlust, I suppose.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, when left to my own devices, two of the things I like to do are read books and write about books, which one can do anywhere. Perhaps I should have minored in journalism and majored in English back in college — fewer reporter’s notebooks and more books.

But then it’s journalism that set me on those Bobby Frost paths less traveled (a metaphor I’ve employed befor). I sometimes wonder if it was my experiences as a journalist that gave me wanderlust, or was it an inherently restless nature that was subsequently fed/exacerbated by writing gigs? I suspect the latter. Maybe it was a book that I read as an impressionable child.

*cough* Tolkien *cough*

In any event I do know – unless we assume the depressing idea of fate and predestination – that were it not for my travel experiences as a journalist — namely a month spent in China — I doubt I would have ever pursued a career in teaching ESL as a means of living abroad. Whether that continues to develop into some sort of second career, or not, remains to be seen. But if it does, it will always be an offshoot of my first career in a very direct way.

I need to find a faux pen and ink drawing of a keyboard; I think that would be a more apt symbol than ye olde feathered quill and ink. But I suppose it’s irrelevant at this point; I do what I do. And lately, in my free time, as the quadriceps tendon snafu settles down, that’s been reading and writing (but no arithmetic) — reading books and writing about books.

I don’t want to repeat myself too much though; let it suffice to say that Barking Book Reviews has gotten a lot of attention from me as of late; most recently it was to review the latest from one of my favorites: The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, by Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Consequently, Barking Book Reviews has been getting some interesting attention from without, which you can read about on my quote-unquote professional site.

As I note there, where will it lead, if anywhere? And to what end? I don’t know. But here’s to hoping it continues to be unexpected and a bit out of the ordinary.

Is Someone Trying to Tell Me Something?

So, since I recently became an economic statistic, I’ve been updating ye olde resume and clip file, in preparation for seeking gainful employment. While I have a current gig at GPS Maniac, I only get a chunk of the advertising revenue from that; I draw no monthly salary. So until such time as that happens, i.e, the advertising reps at sister pub and former employer GPS World sell some ads on the Maniac, I need to pay some bills and feed myself.

I was looking for some clips from my trip to [tag]China[/tag] on behalf of E-News back in 2005 today when I came across the blog I kept as part of that project. I had thought that this was long gone. I have a PDF of the entire microsite that housed the blog, and my stories filed from China, among other things involved with this China trip project, but had thought Reed Business had taken down the blog long ago, along with the microsite. But the blog is still there, tucked into a dusty little corner of EDN (Electronic Design News, the pub that eventually absorbed what was left of Electronic News Online when Reed pulled the plug).

This was a relief, because I wasn’t looking forward to editing more than 1,000 pages in the PDF file I made from the microsite once upon a time and making it presentable. Anyway, you can read more about the China/Silicon Road project here, and read some of the stories and blog entries produced from my memorable month in the midst of this 5,000-year-old culture, if you are so inclined.

This seemed a bit coincidental, as I had just been talking on the phone previously with a former colleague; among other things we had talked about was my eventual return to China — as this is a frequent topic with me, anyway — and her son, who used to teach English at a university in Kunming, in central China, for some years. Naturally I’ve been thinking about pursuing a career in [tag]TEFL[/tag] — teaching English as a foreign language — ever since I came back from China.

Didn’t give it much thought though, until I was at the gym tonight, doing run/walk intervals on the treadmill (because I’m in such sad shape these days I can’t even run 30 minutes on the treadmill). What do I stumble across on the vast wasteland of the idiot box on my machine (it’s one of those kinds of gyms) but an episode of Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations, in which he travels to China, dining on duck in Beijing and hot pot in Chengdu, among other Chinese culinary delicacies. God, it about killed me. Between reading my old clips and watching this show, it all came back to me; I think if I had the money right now I’d be on a plane to China tonight, and I would fly straight through to Chengdu, the capital of Szechuan province and the best damn food in the world.

I have to admit, [tag]Anthony Bourdain[/tag], given the constraints of a one-hour television program, did China and its cuisine justice, I thought. And I couldn’t help but think, as I drove home from the gym, that someone is trying to tell me something. …

Chicago Style and Big Red

Two completely unrelated things.

One: Welcome back, Big Red. Haven’t seen heard you in awhile.  Still not clear on the indoor voice concept, I see hear. Someday you’ll get the attention you need, I hope, for all our ears’ sakes. And as for your choice of Halloween garb, God, it literally killed me to keep my mouth shut. But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to ever register on your radar screen as anything more than background clutter.

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Two. *In best gravelly Charleton-Heston-Planet-of-the-Apes voice* Damn you [tag]Chicago Style Manual[/tag]! Damn you all to Hell!

*resuming normal voice* Actually I have nothing against the Chicago Style; style is often nothing but a matter of arbitrary choice, but a necessary one for the sake of consistency across a publication. It is just that every pub I’ve ever wrote and/or edited for, until now, used AP Style. Damn, it sure is hard to get used to after two decades of AP Style … [tag]serial commas[/tag] … argh.

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P.S. Not sure why I bothered to Technorati tag serial commas. Surely no one would ever blog abut serial commas but journalism nerds, and we’re a fairly rare breed, in these Internet End Times.

Post P.S. How cool is WordPress that it knows the < in the above text is supposed to be just that, and not a code tag? I thought I was going to have to code that by hand, but I previewed it and viola! I should have upgraded a long time ago.