Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ave atque vale Seoul -- packing up and heading out

"The mind is burning, ideas are burning, mind-consciousness is burning ..." Buddhas at the National Museum of Korea

2013.03.31-IMG_1361The National Museum of Korea has an amazing collection of nearly complete Buddha statues in a number of different media. There is also a large collection of Buddha heads.

I was particularly struck by the display of the larger Buddhas. In a dramatically lit room, the Buddhas lined the walls, each in it's own island of light.

Also worth noting is the "Pensive Bodhisattva" sculpture. A National Treasure of Korea, it is a beautiful depiction of Siddhartha.

The title of this post is, of course, from the Buddha's "Fire Sermon":

"The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs." (Fire Sermon Text)

2013.03.31-IMG_1355 2013.03.31-IMG_1356 2013.03.31-IMG_1357 2013.03.31-IMG_1358 2013.03.31-IMG_1359 2013.03.31-IMG_1360

Starbucks #5, TimesSquare, Seoul

"Art Across America" at the National Museum of Korea

Decided to pass on this exhibit,  though I'm sure it's great!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good morning Seoul, looking a little yellow hazy today

First real hazy looking morning of the trip.

400,000 views on Flckr! Thanks gang of loyal viewers of food, airplanes, and randomness!

2013-03-30_23-03-02_658.jpgAnother click on the Flickr views meter ... just a few minutes ago, I hit 400,000 views on photos, photostream, etc.

Seems like just yesterday that I fell in love with Flickr.

Stay tuned for 500,000!

A visit to the Miryang (South Korea) City Museum

2013.03.29-IMG_1065Taking a side trip from a visit to Busan, I went (first via train and then via taxi) to Miryang, and specifically, the Miryang City Museum.

Located on a hill right outside the main part of the city of just over 100,000, the museum is still quite new. I had a few fears as our taxi pulled up to the building as no one was around. The museum was open, but after getting tickets (only 100,000 won for adults, about $9USD) and going inside, there was no one around. Granted, it was a Friday later morning, but still, not a soul to be seen, not even anyone at the gift shop.

2013.03.29-IMG_1077 Heading into the exhibits, they were all in Korean, but there was a brief English-language brochure that helped out. Heading to the paleontology halls was also good (dinos are universal!). On the second floor was an exhibit on Korean printing that had a hand's on activity that let you do block printing. There, suddenly appeared two more patrons, a mother and son.

The cafe was closed, so we looked around at a few other of the displays and then had a cab called by the gift shop attendant (who also appeared). Overall, a quite nice museum.

More photos from the visit.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Starbucks #4, near Yongdusan Park

"Korea" equals "Tripping Hazard"

2013.03.30-IMG_1212 It is perhaps merely a rumor, but it has been said, that "Korea" actualy means "Watch your step!".

Not since my visit to Sao Paulo, for which I recounted my near trip experiences,  have I been so vexed by tripping hazards!!!

The plethora of steps, and stair, and raised floors and broken stones and sidewalks, well, it's a trip!

My Vibram FiveFinger shoes are causing a sensation in South Korea, home of crazy pants fashion

2013.03.29-IMG_1011I've had odd looks and questions about my Vibram FiveFinger shoes in the past, but never like here in South Korea. The residents of Seoul and Busan, pretty fashion conscious places, keep eyeing my feet when I'm out and about in my toe shoes!


Korean Starbucks #3, outside Busan Station

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Korean Starbucks #2, Busan

QotD: " I have never known birds of different species to flock together. The very concept is unimaginable" The Birds

2013.03.28 The BirdsThis is the 50th anniversary of the release of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. The film was probably the very first Hitchcock film I ever saw and left f deep impression on me.

I'm not sure when I actually did see it. It was probably in a series of bits an pieces in the afternoon movie time ("Dialing for Dollars") in the afternoons after school.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents was also one of my favorite off hours shows (and the episode, "The Monkey's Paw" being a great producer of nightmares over the years!).

So, it was on this date, 28 March 1963, that The Birds was released, a "Tippi" Hedren of the hat to the cast of The Birds, Tippi herself, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, and Veronica Carthwright (and we won't get into the whole Hitchcock/Hedren controversies!).

Take Out Cocktails! A novel idea from the street vendors of Seoul

2013.03.27-IMG_0797Now here's a novel idea, "Take Out Cocktails". Why this even beats the famed establishments of New Orleans where you actually have to at least go up to a window to get a drink.

And, better than NOLa again, you weren't limited to Hurricanes and Hand grenades, as you can see from the picture below, it was a pretty well stocked bar!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Well, now, there's two, there's two trains running / Well, they ain't never, no, going my way

2013.03.26-IMG_0480 Of course this original is from Muddy Waters ... but this song stuck in my head after I saw these two Korail trains pass on my walk around Seoul .

Well, now, there's two, there's two trains running
Well, they ain't never, no, going my way
Well, now, one run at midnight and the other one,
Running just 'fore day,
It's running just 'fore day,
It's running just 'fore day
Oh Lord. sure 'nough they is
Oh well
Mm mm, ho ho ho, somebody help me, ho, with these blues
Well, now, she's the one I'm loving, she's the one
I do hate to lose,
I do hate to lose,
I do hate to lose
Oh Lord, sure 'nough I do
Oh well
I been crazy; yes, I been a fool, I been crazy, oh, all of my life
Well I done fell in love with a,
With another man's wife,
With another man's wife,
With another man's wife
Oh Lord, sure 'nough I done
Oh well
Lord, she's so long and tall, till she weep like a willow tree
Well, now, they say she's no good, but she's all right,
She's all right with me,
She's all right, she's all right,
She's all right, she's all right

Starbucks #1 in Seoul

That's my number one, near my hotel!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

N Seoul Tower

A visit to the Seoul Metropolitan Library

2013.03.24-IMG_0321 While in Seoul for vacation, I had the opportunity for a bus-man's holiday and stopped in at the fabulous (still fresh) new Seoul Metropolitan Library.

In a wonderfully restored former city hall (circa 1926), the facilities were marvelous. Of particular interest were some mysterious self check out machines that looked like microwave ovens. Never quite figured exactly how they worked.

2013.03.24-IMG_0276From the website:
The former City Hall, that used to be the center of city affairs, is now coming to citizens as a main library in Seoul. The library offers over 200,000 books, book shelves along 5m-high walls, Disability Collections, and Seoul Documents Collections. It also offers a comprehensive search tool to identify materials among 320 libraries in Seoul.
In addition, the library restored the outer wall, halls, and the main stairway of the former City Hall that had been built in 1926, symbolizing the historical heritage of Seoul. Seoul Library will be the “Information Hub of Seoul and Center of Libraries in Seoul” and “Representative Library in Seoul” that creates and implements programs for the libraries in Seoul.

2013.03.24-IMG_0317Nicely restored main entrance staircase:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Money, tickets, passport, check!

ReadyAnd away we go!

United 803: IAD to NRT

Some thoughts on trade publishing: Kelly Hand (@khwriter), and the virtuous circle (part II)

Kelly Hand's novel, The Au Pair Report is self-published and available on Amazon as well as SmashWords. Hand's novel, about the trials and tribulations of a Washington, DC au pair coordinator (with a dollop of dysfunctional family life thrown in) is a delightful book and a great read. It covers that area, a "little bit (two inches wide) of ivory" made famous by Jane Austen, but in this case it's not Austen's early 19th century England, but the gentrified/gentrifying areas of DC, Capitol Hill, and Upper Northwest. Narrated from perspective of the 30 something Liza Hart, au pair coordinator, mother of a toddler, and daughter of a bi-polar mother, there's some good insider stories of life in Washington as well as enough universal truths to make us all glad we are not au pairs with Host Families from Hell. 

Having met Hand at a party, I know that she had approached various publishers with The Au Pair Report with - sadly - no success and had turned to an option, self-publishing, that is both more respected and viable than in the past. Correction (See Hand's comment below). She had went directly to self-publishing after a previous project.

2008-07-06-dscn4792Now, Hand's charming novel is unlikely to give James Patterson (whose industrial style of writing was described in part I of this topic) a contest for the top of the charts, but is a strong entry in category of literary novel that, with the rare exception, ever strikes the fancy of a mass audience. I could easily find comparisons to (traditionally) published Washington authors Mary Kay Zuravleff (The Bowl is Already Broken and The Frequency of Souls) or Susan Richards Shreve (The Train Home). What made publishers turn down Hand's book? I'm sure there were many reasons, but by turning down this well-crafted book, the gate-keeping function of publishing was keeping a good book out of the hands of interested readers. 

What would a traditional publisher have offered Hand and Hugh Howey (discussed in Part I of this topic)? A few things come to mind:
  • Editing (well, certainly not needed in this case; my only quibble with Hand's work in the story editing was an overuse of pseudonyms for obviously real public figures that was just distracting)
  • Access to markets (certainly not the big non-bookstores; possibly the network of remaining independent bookstores; maybe Barnes and Noble); but then would the amount of print sales increase readership (and revenue for the author) in any significant ways?
  • Publicity (well, I doubt that a publisher would take out ads on the Washington Metro for Hand's book -- as they do for the Pattersons, Grishams, et al.); increasingly, publicity from publishers is just marketing to a pre-sold audience. Howey himself has fully taken advantage of social media and in creating his own publicity machine, builds excitement and audience for his work
And so, while we wait for the publishing industry to reboot, we can enjoy books such as written by Hand (pun intended).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Feeling extremely irrational today ... don't know why, oh wait, yes ...

2012.04.22-IMG_1689It's Pi day, March 14th ... π  3.141592653589793238462643383279 5028841971693993751058209749445923   0781640628620899862803482534211706 79821480865132823066470938446095505 822317253594081284811174502841027019 385211055596446229489549303819644288 1097566593344612847564823378678316527 120190914564856692346034861045432 ...

Here is Pi to the first million digits ... and as an added bonus, here's a fabulous video that Sky Vibes made for the Kate Bush song, "Pi":

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome to the UDC793 blog salon ... 100,000 views later ...

2010-01-17 19.10.43.jpgA big shoutout to all the Chinese and Russian spambots who helped me reach 100,000 views on UDC793!

Oh, and also to you loyal readers who loved seeing pictures and reading about of airplanes at gates, meetings of various kinds, Starbucks, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Digital Public Library of America.

The current UDC793's first post is from August 4, 2006 ("Piggy Park"), but that was from a merge with the now defunct "Martinus Scriblerous" and "UDC574".

The first post on the now official UDC793 was from February 2007, "2007.02 BHL Meeting". So now, just short of 1,900 posts later, the site is hitting 100,000 views. The top posts are an interesting mix. The top post, a report from a BioOne meeting, makes sense. Number 2 is satisfying, a post about Faulkner, but #3, "Baltimore Sunset", from a recent visit to Charm City, is curious -- obviously hitting some keywords there. DPLA and Panama posts help round out the top posts, along with "Dr Seuss Fish Cake" (which, if taken with the three other posts, here, here, and here, that feature the "Angy Fish" cake, would be in a comfortable second place), and oh, a slim post on the Denver Digital Library Federation (DLF) meeting is also there.

And those readers of the top 10 posts over time:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Some thoughts on trade publishing: @HughHowey, and the virtuous circle (part I)

UPDATE (2013.03.11:20:19):
I have to insist that you all read Hugh Howey's "How WOOL Got A Unique Publishing Deal" on the HuffPost. This article neatly ties up a couple of threads in this post.

A few weeks ago, I read article in the United Airlines Hemispheres magazine (January 2013) about author James Patterson. He's not someone on my radar screen, but it was a fascinating article that highlighted so much of what's wrong with publishing (writ large). Now, I have nothing against James Patterson, and in fact, see that he's taken honest advantage of many of the larger failures of the industry.

Some facts from the article:
  • 1 in every 17 hardcover books sold in the US is by Patterson (or written in conjunction with his team of partners)
  • current publishing contract is for 3 years, $150 million, and calls for 17 books
What I wonder is how much work the publishers but into those books. The Patterson brand has a huge (obviously) built in audience; his team of collaborators are most likely top-notch and don't need to avail themselves of what the Big 5.5 (I'm at 5.5 since I don't think that the Penguin/Random House merger has been mutually digested) call "editing". One thing they offer, I would guess is access to the markets where hardcovers are sold, namely, Walmart, Target, grocery stores and other brick and mortar non-book stores. Also, outlets for paperbacks (including all the previous, plus airports, the dwindling number of small chain bookstores, independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble (online and brick and mortar), and, of course, Amazon.

I'd like to contrast Patterson's story with that of the authors of a couple of books I recently read. 

The first may be known to many of you. Hugh C. Howey is the author of a number of books, adult fiction and young adult. Most prominently, he is the creator of the Wool series of science fiction novels. The first, Wool: Knitting, was self-published as a short story/novella. The response from readers -- for this fairly unknown author -- was so strong and positive that he created four more installments in the Wool series (gathered together as the Wool: Omnibus Edition) as well as a trilogy of prequels (The Shift series) and to be completed with the Dust series which is just getting underway).

2012.05.03-IMG_2043I myself discovered the series when my ever-cool colleague @Bathlander tweeted about Howey and Wool. For a small investment, $.99 on Amazon, I picked up the first installment, was quickly hooked and purchased the omnibus edition. Finishing up the prequel series (with the first volume of the third series to be in the next few months), I was stunned by Howey's inventive creation of an entire world (short view: sometime in the future, humanity seems to be reduced to a small population living underground in a 150 story silo -- or are they?).

Howey's command of language and characterization raises his work beyond the potboiler style many feel pigeonholes SciFi as a lesser genre. In all aspects, Howey and the Wool volumes are as literary and inventive a world and show as strong a command of the possibilities of language as an acknowledged "literary master" such as Margaret Atwood shows in her speculative fiction (for example, The Handmaid's Tale or the sublime Oryx and Crake) or the "big three" of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein or the brilliant, but sometimes dated/period work of Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick.

So, as a self-published author Howey has not only achieved success in the world of ebooks, but the Wool series has been picked up by Simon & Shuster for print distribution and thus he joins the small, but growing world of authors who have created their own success and then had that success validated by the publishing establishment.

A particularly interesting aspect of Howey's work is that the world he has created has inspired a cadre of "fan fiction" building on his work. "FanFic" can be a mixed bag (for anyone who's read it) ranging from good to awful. Howey encourages (as all smart and unthreatened writers should) his readers in this pursuit. Howey  however, has taken it to a new level. On a recent blog post, Howey recounts how on encountering "The Runner" by WJ Davies, he not only encouraged the Davies in his work, but, convinced of the quality, implored him to actually sell the work. I picked up "The Runner" also (while waiting for the third volume of the Shift series to appear) and I would concur with Howey's take on the quality of the work (but also note that it is not up to that of Howey's).

Now here is a truly virtuous circle that is an exemplum for the publishing industry for the 21st century. Author, reader, reader/author all benefiting both creatively, and, in this case (which is of course not typical), financially.


Continued it: