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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Rick's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, February 18th, 2017
10:28 pm
Review Recap For February 15-18, 2017
Finished up something of a long week, with the Kiddo staying late for activities three out of the five days. He's now done with track practice. His track meet is next week. Swimming continues on Tuesdays, but this week coming up looks to be a bit more relaxed, although I will be buried deep in organizing visa paperwork for China.

I managed to get back to reading some comics in the last few days, and also finished up another childrens chapter book with the Kiddo. It may be a while before my next review of an adult book, as I'm currently reading Michener's The Source, which is over 900 pages!

On Comic A Day

One Year in Indiana #0: Kurt Dinse's minicomic tale of an epic beer run.

Viper Comics Presents: Kid Houdini and the Silver Dollar Misfits: From Free Comic Book Day 2008, this book features two different "kid detective" teams.

On Goodreads

Crusher the Creeping Terror by Adam Blade: Book number 7 in Adam Blade's Seaquest (AKA Deep Dive) series.

Also This Week

I'm supporting the fundraising for the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) and their SPACE Prizes. The fundraising drive has officially ended, but if you're interested in attending the show, it will be March 25-26, 2016, in Columbus OH USA. It's one of my favorite conventions, featuring nothing but small press comics that you often won't find anywhere else. Even better, admission is free! Information can be found here.

Upcoming

Plans are in the works for our departure from Vietnam. Looks like we'll be flying back to Boston on the 16th or 17th of June. Not sure yet when we'll be heading to Shanghai, but it will be sometime in late July. Once we have those dates set, we'll start to figure out what we'll be doing during our time in the US.

In the meantime, we're still hoping to get in one more trip while we're in Southeast Asia. The tentative plan is to visit Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay in northern Vietnam. I also have at least one more event with Model United Nations, the SaiMUN conference here in Ho Chi Minh City in March.

Current Mood: Rested
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
8:49 am
Review Recap For February 6-14, 2017
This past weekend was the AISMUN Model United Nations Conference, hosted by my school, American International School of Vietnam. My photos from the event are here.

I'm getting back into the day-job routine while working on paperwork for the move the Shanghai. Not much as far as comics read in the past week, but I did post a couple of book reviews.

On Goodreads

Never Let Me (The Complete Melissa Allen Trilogy) by Jennifer Brozek. Young adult SF/horror compilation.

Hurry Up Houdini by Mary Pope Osborne: Number 50 in the Magic Tree House series.

Also This Week

I'm supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren's reelection campaign. She was warned. She was given an explanation. And yet, she persisted.

Upcoming

Tentative trip to northern Vietnam in early April. Heading back to the US in late June, then to Shanghai in late July.

Current Mood: Busy
Monday, February 6th, 2017
12:21 am
Review Recap for January 31 - February 5, 2017

Now that we've answered the question of where we'll be next year, it's time to focus on finishing up this school year and getting ready for the move.

Today is the last day of Tet Break, and it's back to the day job tomorrow. We didn't travel on this break. The plan was to work on the job search as much as possible. Fortunately that got resolved early in the break, so we were able to enjoy some of the Tet festivities here in Saigon.

I also did some reading and wrote a few reviews.

On Goodreads

The Lies of Locke Lamora: A crime novel set in an epic fantasy city by Scott Lynch.

On Comic A Day

Project Superpowers: The Death-Defying Devil: Free Comic Book Day Special Edition: A freebie from Dynamite Entertainment's superhero universe, featuring the Golden-Age version of Daredevil (here called the Devil).

Savage Dragon #148 Free Comic Book Day Edition: A team-up with Savage Dragon and (by odd coincidence, since I pulled these two comics out of the stack randomly) the Golden-Age version of Daredevil!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules: The second book in Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid series.

Also This Week

I'm supporting author Elizabeth Donald by preordering her new short story collection, Moonlight Sonata. If you like short horror fiction, give this a look. I read one of Donald's previous collections and it is fun and creepy!

Upcoming

Model United Conference this weekend. This is our "home" event at American International School here in Ho Chi Minh City. It's grown each year we've run it, and we're looking forward to a good event this time around.

In April, we have tentative plans for a trip to northern Vietnam. We head back to the US in late June, and then to Shanghai in late July.

Current Mood: rested
Monday, January 30th, 2017
8:24 pm
Review Recap For January 23-30, 2017

Well, the uncertainty of the last few months has finally come to an end. I am very happy to report that I have signed a contract for a new job for the next school year, in one of the biggest and fastest-growing cities on the planet!

We will be moving to Shanghai, China!

The new job is on a similar calendar to my current gig, so that means that we'll be visiting the US from late June until we head to China in late July.

Up until then, we'll be trying to make the most of our remaining time in Vietnam. We just celebrated Tet, and welcomed the Year of the Rooster, and I've got the rest of this week off from work. I've been getting things reorganized now that I'm out of job search mode, and I've had time to write some new reviews.

On Goodreads

How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell: The amusing book that was the (admittedly loose) basis for the hit film.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: The classic English romance. I read a lovely Grosset & Dunlap illustrated hardcover edition.

Manak: The Silent Predator by Adam Blade: My favorite of the Adam Blade books that I've read with the Kiddo so far.

On Comic A Day

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #14: From Marvel's Unmasked storyline in 2007.

Fantasy Theater #18: Featuring two adventures of Lady Spectra & Sparky.

Also This Week

The fundraiser I was supporting this week has ended, so I'm going to repost links to fundraisers for two people battling cancer that could still use more support.

Sabrina Chick, a friend of a family member of mine.

Duane Nelson, the husband of a friend.

Upcoming

I have a big backlog of photos to process and upload from recent travels as well as Tet festivities around Ho Chi Minh City.

In early April, we're looking at a possible trip to Sapa/Hanoi/Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam.

We leave for about a month in the US in late June, and then on to Shanghai in late July! No travel plans beyond that, but as of right now, my expectation is that most traveling we do in the 2017-2018 school year will probably be within China. It's a big country with a lot to see!



Current Mood: Excited
Sunday, January 22nd, 2017
11:20 am
And after two weeks of day-job work, I find myself one vacation once again. This is our Tet break. No travel plans, although we'll visit the Tet festivities happening around Saigon. Mostly focusing on job search and writing/editing over these two weeks, with some time devoted to cleaning/organizing, and getting some day-job prep work done. I have two scheduled interviews so far during these two weeks, and one more being arranged.

Expect more output from me in terms of book and comic reviews over the next two weeks as well.

For now, I have a couple of new reviews.

On Comic A Day

Fisso's World In Cambodia: Living in a Kingdom of Wonders: Collection of cartoons I bought on our recent trip to Cambodia.

Blackest Night #0: The Free Comic Book Day intro for 2009's huge DC Universe crossover event.

Wish Me Luck: A minicomic from Boston Comics Roundtable.

Also This Week

I'm supporting three people battling cancer.

Sabrina Chick, a friend of a family member of mine.

Duane Nelson, the husband of a friend.

Friend and longtime SF convention attendee, Hugh Casey, who has a benefit convention being held next Sunday (Jan 29) in Philadelphia PA USA to fundraise for his expenses.

Upcoming

Tet happenings around Ho Chi Minh City over the next two weeks. We're also looking into the possibility of a trip to northern Vietnam in early April.

Current Mood: productive
Saturday, January 21st, 2017
9:38 am
To Know Who Needs Help...

I know it's past the season for Christmas songs, but I am thinking today (while I avoid the political) of a line by Trans Siberian Orchestra:

"To know who needs help, you need only just ask."

My mom would have been 70 yesterday. She had her life cut short by cancer, and most of us know someone who they have lost or someone who is suffering from this disease now.

So, right now, three people that either I know or whose loved ones I am friends or family with, are in their own battles with cancer.

My mom was fortunate enough to have excellent health insurance through the union she'd been a member of for many years. She got the best care in available in the world. Many others are not so fortunate. So I'm contributing small donations to fundraising efforts for these three individuals.

Here are the three appeals I am donating to.

For Sabrina Chick, a friend of a family member of mine.

For Duane Nelson, the husband of a friend.

For friend and longtime SF convention attendee, Hugh Casey, who has a benefit convention being held next Sunday (Jan 29) in Philadelphia PA USA to fundraise for his expenses.

I would urge those with the funds to help out somehow, to do the same. For one of these three people, for someone else you know who is in their own battle with cancer, or for a stranger whose fundraising appeal you've found out about.

To know who needs help, you need only just ask.



Current Mood: hopeful
Saturday, January 14th, 2017
11:45 pm
Review Recap For December 25 2016 To January 14 2017

Most of late December and early January was spent traveling.

We had an overland trip to Cambodia to finish up 2016, and then immediately started 2017 by adding a new countries to our list of nations visited with our trip to Bangkok, Thailand. I was there for the International Schools Services Job Fair, and got 8 interviews, but have not yet received a job offer. Several places I interviewed with are still considering candidates, so I may still hear from them, and I've had another interview over Skype since the fair.

We also managed some sightseeing in Bangkok, and there will be pictures and reviews from both trips coming soon.

Not many new reviews since the last recap, as we've been busy with travel and recovery-from-travel.

On Goodreads

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: Atwood's dystopian classic.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling: I read this fairy tale collection from the Harry Potter universe to the Kiddo.

On Comic A Day

Fisso's World in Cambodia: Living in a Kingdom of Wonders by Sophie Lizeray: A collection of cartoons that I bought in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Also reviewed on Goodreads).

Also This Week

I'm supporting the Alzheimers Association's efforts to combat a disease that has affected my family among so many others.

I am also supporting the efforts to raise money in support of SCAdian Duane Nelson's medical treatment and expenses.

Over on Comic A Day, I posted two more quick entries today: A 2016 recap, and a quick look at a couple of Thai language graphic novels I picked up in Bangkok.

Upcoming

I've added a goal of reviewing 150 comics in 2017 to my other goals for the year.

No immediate travel plans on the horizon. We are hoping to get to the north of Vietnam in the Spring, but nothing definite has been planned. At the moment, we're planning to stay in Saigon during the Tet break, but we might possibly book a last-minute trip somewhere if finances work out.



Current Mood: hopeful
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
4:58 pm
Happy New Year!

Welcome 2017!

We spent New Year's Eve in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and got a nice view of the Phnom Penh fireworks from the rooftop garden of the hotel we were staying in.

2017 begins with uncertainty. I didn't sign a contract with my current day job, so we're moving on at the end of the school year. I was hoping to have some definite news on the job front by now, but I've had two verbal offers that fell through for various reasons, so off I go to the job fair in Bangkok, Thailand this week. We'll see if I have something by the end of the weekend. Either way, I'm looking forward to my first time in Thailand.

Looking Back At 2016

Traveling: We traveled to Phu Quoc Island and Vung Tau (twice!) in Vietnam. I also had two trips to Cambodia: One work trip to Phnom Penh, and the vacation trip to Phnom Penh and Kep that we just got back from. We went to Singapore in the Fall, the one new country we added to our list in 2016. We had our trip home to the US in the Summer, including the annual father/son road trip, which took myself and the Kiddo to Ithaca NY. Other places we visited in the US included Newark NJ, New York City, Rhode Island, New Hampshire (including a family event on Hampton Beach). I went back to the US for a few days in November for less happy reasons when my Grandmother passed away.

Writing: This was a slow year, writing-wise, but I did achieve my goals of 1) writing 50,000 words as part of Nanowrimo, and 2) writing a complete story for Nanowrimo.

Reviews: I've kept up pretty well with reviews in 2016, reviewing over 50 books on goodreads, as well as posting my ongoing comic reviews on my comic blog, dailycomicreview.blogspot.com.

Reading: It's been a good year for reading. For the second year in a row, I beat my 50-book goal on Goodreads. My last book read in 2016 was Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which seemed an appropriate end to the year's reading. My complete recap of the year's reading on Goodreads is here. My five favorite books read in 2016 (not in a specific order) were:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
A Short Ride in the Jungle by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent
Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter
Finding George Orwell In Burma by Emma Larkin
Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Movies: I'm not as much of a movie buff as they typical nerd, so I only tend to see a few per year. The 2016 releases that I got to see were (with my one-word assessment):

The Jungle Book (Good)
Captain America: Civil War (Excellent)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Meh)
Ghostbusters (Good)
Independence Day: Resurgence (Awful)
Star Trek Beyond (Good)
Doctor Strange (Good)
Moana (Excellent)
Arrival (Excellent)
Rogue One (Excellent)

2016 In Pictures

Here are some collages I put together of pictures I took in 2016. First of all, a set of highlights of the four countries that we spent time in during 2016.

Vietnam

USA

Singapore

Cambodia

And I also put together a set of wildlife collages by country.

Vietnam Wildlife

USA Wildlife

Singapore Wildlife

Cambodia Wildlife

Here's the Kiddo's suitcase at the end of 2016. More flags hopefully coming soon!

And finally, here's a collage of my favorite 9 pictures that I took in 2016.

Looking Ahead: Resolutions for 2017

Secure employment! Outside of the US if possible. I'd love for our overseas adventures to continue.

Edit! Edit the Nano novel. Edit the previous novel I was working on.

Play more boardgames. I fell out of the habit of this in the second half of 2016. Need to do more tabletop gaming.

Read 55 books. Having made the goal of 50 for two years in a row, I'm upping the challenge slightly. My 2017 Goodreads challenge is here.

Keep up with this blog and try to expand it and add more content. Keep up with my other social media.

Lastly, I've decided to make a serious attempt at a weekly donation, each week to a different cause I support.

Hope everyone reading this has a safe and happy 2017! Chuc mung nam moi 2017!



Current Mood: hopeful
Saturday, December 24th, 2016
10:40 pm
Review Recap For December 19-24, 2016

Christmas festivities are underway at the Silva household. We had a lovely traditional Christmas dinner tonight at Scott &amp; Jeremy's in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1.

Tomorrow we cook breakfast, open gifts, and head for Cambodia by bus!

Between finishing up with day-job stuff and Christmas shopping/wrapping, I did manage to write a couple of reviews this week.

On Goodreads

Trapped in the Overworld by Winter Morgan: An unofficial Minecraft tie-in novel that I read with the Kiddo.

On Comic A Day

Snakes: A horror minicomic by Benjamin Wright-Heuman from 2014.

Upcoming

Two trips coming up! We leave tomorrow for Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We spend one full day in Phnom Penh, then head to Kep, Cambodia for the rest of the week. New Year's Eve back in Phnom Penh, followed by the bus trip back to Ho Chi Minh City on New Year's Day.

A few days after that, we fly to Bangkok, Thailand, for about five days there.

I'm not bringing comics to read on our trips, so Comic A Day will not have much going on until January. In the meantime, though, keep an eye on @dandelionstudios on Instagram for lots of photo updates from our travels!



Current Mood: Festive
Sunday, December 18th, 2016
12:52 am
Review Recap For December 11-18, 2016

This was exam week at the day job, so things have been hectic. Today was also the second of two Saturdays in a row when I had to work (exam review last week, Model UN training session this week).

I am back to reviewing comics somewhat steadily, though not quite at the comic-a-day rate that my blog's title implies. For prose reading, I've started a couple of longer works which I will probably finish on the upcoming school vacation. In other reading news, my Year in Books on Goodreads is now available!

Here's what I reviewed this week.

On Comic A Day:

Jessica Jones #2: Second issue of the new series from Marvel Comics. This was the last of the small stack of comics I brought back from my short trip home in November.

Darth Vader #21: Also from Marvel, I bought this Star Wars comic for the fun cover variant!

Terminal Velocity Book 1: An autobiographical comic by indy cartoonist Barry Corbett that I picked up from him at Massive Comic Con in Worcester MA.

Upcoming

The two trips for Christmas break are now booked. First up, we'll be heading to Cambodia by bus: Two nights in Phnom Penh, then four nights in Kep, and then New Year's Eve in Phnom Penh before we head back to Saigon for two days.

Then it's off to Bangkok, Thailand. This was scheduled to be a business trip, but if circumstances work out in the next week or so, I am hoping it will be turned into a purely fun trip. Either way, I'm excited to see Bangkok for the first time.



Current Mood: Sleepy
Saturday, December 10th, 2016
10:50 pm
Review Recap For December 4-10, 2016

Another busy work week as we head into midterm exams. Only two reviews this week. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid book was actually crossposted to Comic A Day, as I consider it a graphic novel (and as usual, my book reviews on Goodreads are also crossposted to Amazon).

On Goodreads

Wake by Robert J Sawyer: The first book of Robert J. Sawyer's WWW trilogy of YA cyberpunk novels.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Greg Kinney: The Kiddo picked this one out, skipping all the way to #10 in this series.

Upcoming

Trip to Cambodia in December has been booked. We're leaving Christmas Day by bus from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We get one full day in Phnom Penh, then we head by Cambodian Postal Service Passenger Van (No, really! This is a thing!) to Kep, Cambodia, for four days. Back to Phnom Penh for New Year's eve, and back to Saigon on January 1.

It looks like we will then be turning around and heading to Bangkok, Thailand, a few days after that, so there should be lots of travel photos forthcoming!

Still working on plans for next school year, and possible travel plans for Tet break and for Spring of 2017, plus our trip back to the US in summer 2017.

Current Mood: Happy
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
11:59 pm
Review Recap for November 28 to December 3. 2016

This week was all about meeting goals.

I am officially a 2016 Nanowrimo winner! I made my goal with exactly 50,000 words, and also achieved my secondary goal which was to tell a complete story. In fact, as I got closer to the end, I realized that I could go with another slightly sillier goal, and managed to end my story such that word #49,000 was "THE" and word #50,000 was END. As you can see from the graph, I fell behind for most of the month, but managed to pull it together in the end. Synopsis and excerpt for my novel, The Lady of Three Faces, are here.

A few days after that, I achieved the goal of my 50-book reading challenge that I set for 2016 on Goodreads. You can see the list of books I read here.

My other goal has been to secure a new teaching position for the 2017-2018 school year. This seems early to the thinking about that, but most of the international teaching hiring for next school year is happening in the next month or two. I have made some good progress on this goal this week, and hope to have some news in the next few weeks.

I also got back to doing some reviewing.

On Comic A Day

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1: The first issue of the new Batgirl comic from DC.

Mockingbird #5: A fun, snarky tale from Marvel.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1: An all-ages crossover from DC and IDW.

On Goodreads

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress: A science fiction classic by Robert A Heinlein.

Coraline: A dark fairy tale by Neil Gaiman.

Also This Week

In addition to participating in Nanowrimo, I am donating in support of their programs for young writers. You can donate here.

Upcoming

The holiday season is fast approaching, and we're in the process of planning a trip to Phnom Penh and Kep, Cambodia. We're also looking at other destinations for our Tet break in January/February.



Current Mood: accomplished
Sunday, November 27th, 2016
1:17 am
Review Recap For November 21-27, 2016
I have spent the last week jetlagged following the trip home for Nana's funeral.

The actual trip went smoothly. I have managed to get the work done that I needed to do this week in spite of a few sleepy moment between classes.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at Master Cup, a local restaurant owned by Americans, which provided a traditional meal of Turkey and the standard fixins. They did a nice job with it. I also had a school Thanksgiving/Teachers Day party tonight, featuring a nice selection of Vietnamese appetizers. Earlier today I took the Kiddo to see Moana, which was excellent.

I have been working on Nanowrimo and doing some reading, but haven't had much chance to write reviews. Just one new one this week:

On Comic A Day

Jessica Jones #1: I did manage to stop in to Newbury Comics in Braintree MA during my trip home, and I bought five recent releases. This Marvel Comics book is the first of those that I've had a chance to read and review.

Also This Week

My Nanowrimo wordcount stands at a bit over 36,000 words. That means 14k to go in the next few days. It's going to take a push, but it's doable. Synopsis and excerpt are here.

Upcoming

Our plans for Christmas break are still up in the air. Thailand and Cambodia are the main destinations being considered. We've put Laos back on the list of possible places to visit for Tet break in January/February, but we're not sure if we can swing it money-wise. We have (very tentative) plans for Hanoi/Sapa/Ha Long Bay on our spring break. And we are job-searching for next school year. Right now most of our leads are in China.

Current Mood: jetlagged
Sunday, November 20th, 2016
3:52 pm
Review Recap For November 13-2, 2016
I'm writing this from Hingham MA, USA.

My Grandmother, Bella Silva, passed away earlier this week at the age of 92, and I was fortunate enough to be able to get the time off to travel home to celebrate her life with family. I'm flying back to Vietnam tomorrow.

This was a whirlwind trip, but I did get a chance  to connect with some friends in addition to attending the services and spending time with family. It's nice to come home, even if in circumstances that are not so happy.

With the sudden change in my schedule for the week, I haven't had much chance to do my reviews, although I did finish a book on the flight.

Here are my reviews since last check-in:

On Goodreads

Last Night A Superhero Saved My Life: Edited by Liese Mignogn, this collection of essays brings together writers from the worlds of comics and prose fiction to discuss the influence and mythology of superheroes on their lives.

On Comic A Day

The Chronicles of the Tal Nor Volume 1: A fantasy comic that I backed on Kickstarter.

Also This Week

I'm behind on Nanowrimo, but still hanging in there with 23,706 words right now. My novel now has summary and excerpt posted. Check it out here.

I'm supporting two causes this week. First is Playa Animal Rescue of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, which my Dad is involved in, and which is accepting donations in my Grandmother's memory.

The address for donations is

Playa Animal Rescue
20 Copperfield Ave.
North Easton MA 02356

I'm also helping out with a toy drive my cousin is organizing for

Here are the details from my cousin:

Please think about donating a toy (or gift card) to the kids that are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore this holiday season. We are consistently the largest Christmas donation to this location (the ONLY RMcD house in Maryland!) and the staff looks forward to it every year.

This year you can send your gifts UNWRAPPED as my elves are all old enough to help me. :) Please send these gifts **by Dec 10th**. If you are sending a wrapped gift, you have until December 16th. Have it labeled "boy" or "girl" and age. Please forward this to anyone looking to help make sick kids and their families smile during Christmas!

drop off/mail to:
The Weeda's
10301 Armory Ave Kensington MD 20895

Locals-there will also be a toy box at
Faith Preschool-
6810 Montrose Rd, Rockville
or
Wheaton Ice Rink
11717 Orebaugh Ave, Wheaton, MD 20902

Upcoming

Flying back to Vietnam tomorrow. Tentative plans for Cambodia and/or Thailand on winter break. Plans for next school year are also beginning to come together.

Current Mood: Grieving
Sunday, November 13th, 2016
12:10 am
Review Recap For November 6-12, 2016

This has been a busy week, with Nanowrimo in full swing, plus normal day job work, and now, the beginnings of a job search.

I did not sign a renewal of my contract, so I'm looking for a new position for the 2017-2018 school year. We're open to going just about anywhere on Earth, so it will be interesting to see where our next adventure takes us. As part of the process, the tentative trip to Bangkok during Winter Break will include an international schools job fair.

With everything going on this week, I did manage to write a few reviews.

On Goodreads

Prison Diary by Ho Chi Minh: This book of poetry was written by the Vietnamese leader when he was imprisoned in China in 1942. This edition contains the poems in three languages: Chinese (they were originally written in Chinese), Vietnamese, and English. This book was #47 in my goal of reading 50 books in 2016. Only 3 to go!

The Warrior Queens by Elka Ray: I usually don't do reviews of picture book I read aloud to the Kiddo. I keep track of them on a separate list on Goodreads and give them a rating, but not a written review. But I though this retelling of a Vietnamese legend by Elka Ray was interesting enough to warrant a short review.

On Comic A Day

Wolverine: Origins of an X-Man #1: Free Comic Book Day 2009: This is an all-ages Wolverine story by Marvel Comics, given out as a freebie for 2009's Free Comic Book Day.

On Tripadvisor

Balconitel Boutique Hotel: Where we stayed for the school trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Also This Week

In light of the US election, I am supporting the American Civil Liberties Union with a donation this week.

Nanowrimo wordcount stands at 13,182. My novel is called The Lady of Three Faces. It's a middle-grade steampunk fantasy. No synopsis or excerpt yet, but I should have them up on the novel page soon.

Upcoming

Plans are still up in the air for trips to Bangkok, Thailand, and Kep, Cambodia, during Winter Break.

Hoping to have a blog entry up for the school trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, soon.

Current Mood: down
Monday, November 7th, 2016
10:15 pm
On the Road: Singapore, October 2016

The trip to Singapore came about due to a medical consultation I had, following up on the injury I suffered when I crashed my motorbike last November. My doctor in Saigon had recommended I consult with an orthopedic surgeon in Singapore about possible reconstructive surgery on my shoulder.

Since I'd be traveling all the way there for just a short consultation, we decided to make a family vacation out of it and scheduled it for my school's Fall Break.

This would be our first time in Singapore. The flight was inexpensive from Ho Chi Minh City, but Singapore's hotels tend to be pricier than in some of the other cities we've traveled to in Southeast Asia. We settled on a place that was advertised as "no frills" with a hostel vibe called The Hangout @ Mt. Emily, on the edge of Singapore's Little India neighborhood. The hotel proved to be a good choice (my review is here).

We flew Tigerair, which is also no-frills, flying out on a Sunday morning, and traveling light with no checked baggage. We had an early breakfast at home, and then had sandwiches at Subway at Changi International Airport in Singapore after getting through immigration and customs.

Before heading out of the airport, we bought attraction tickets from a tourism booth at the airport, and also purchased three-day unlimited tourist subway/bus passes at the airport subway stations. Singapore has a lot of popular family attractions, including what is generally considered one of the best zoos in Asia, and a Universal Studios theme park. The Singapore Zoo is actually a complex consisting of three separate attractions, and we ended up getting tickets to two of them: the Night Safari and the River Safari.

We found the subway to be very user-friendly, not to mention clean and well maintained (which can basically be said for the whole city). Signs and videos on the trains warn of severe fines (and caning!) for breaking the rules, which include bans on eating, drinking, smoking, and durians!

After checking in to our hotel, we headed into Little India for dinner. The streets were lit with festive colors for Deepavali, and there were crowds of people celebrating the Indian festival. We had some delicious dosa at Aravind's Curry (review here), before heading to the subway and making our way to Singapore's waterfront and Gardens by the Bay.

Gardens by the Bay, a relatively new Singapore attraction is a massive park, located near the iconic Marina Bay Sands complex. They have a nightly lightshow at the Supertree Grove, which was a pretty amazing spectacle (and free!). We were so impressed with the Gardens by the Bay that we decided to return and check it out in broad daylight the next morning.

After a lovely morning in Gardens by the Bay, we went back to Little India to eat at one of Singapore's famous hawker centers. Basically a hawker center is a food court made up of what would probably be street food vendors in other cities.

Here are a few photos of hawker centers and hawker foods that we tried during the trip.


The hawker food is delicious, inexpensive, and comes in seemingly endless variety. A visitor to Singapore could be quite satisfied with nothing but hawker center food for their whole trip (although there are certainly plenty of traditional restaurants throughout the city).

That afternoon, I had my appointment, which I headed to alone. It also gave me the chance to check out Orchard Road, Singapore's high-end shopping district, which was fun to look around in, even if it was pretty much out of my price range. I did find the excellent Kinokuniya bookstore in one of the malls, and bought some locally published books for myself and did a bit of Christmas shopping.

The appointment went well (short version of the story: I'm not doing the surgery), but we had a bit of a communication mixup that evening, and we missed our plans to head to the Night Safari. Fortunately, the tickets I bought were not date-specific.

Our third day in Singapore began with a walking food tour of Singapore's Chinatown. Since moving overseas, we've gone on several food tours (in Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An Vietnam, Shanghai, and now Singapore), and every one has been awesome. This is a great way to see things you might have otherwise missed, and more importantly, to taste things you might have missed. In Singapore, we went with Betel Box Tours (my review), which proved to be excellent.

In addition to three stops for food, the tour took us inside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and then up to a highrise apartment tower to get a view of Chinatown from above.

When the tour finished, we made our way by subway and bus to the Singapore Zoo for the River Safari. The River Safari is a combination of zoo and aquarium focused on the world's river ecosystems. The Kiddo enjoyed this up-close-and-personal encounter with an Indian Gharial!

River Safari is also the home of the Singapore Zoo's two giant pandas.

This was a long day, and we finished up with a good meal at a Chinese restaurant, before heading back to the hotel.

On our last full day in Singapore, we still had the Night Safari tickets to use that evening. We spent the morning at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where we encountered a good-sized monitor lizard, and did a bit of birdwatching.

Then came the Night Safari, which was a really fascinating attraction: The world's only nighttime zoo consisting entirely of nocturnal animals.

We saw the Night Safari's fire show, followed by their Creatures of the Night show, then took a tram ride to see a variety of animals, stopping for more animal encounters in a series of walking trails.

My review of the Night Safari is here.

This was a fun ending to our visit to Singapore. Singapore is a very impressive, high-tech, well-organized city with lots to see and do. We felt like we barely scratched the surface, and we hope to head back there sometime in the near future.

For full sets of photos, see my Flickr albums. For my "best of" photos from by travels, add @dandelionstudios on Instagram. See you on the Road!

Current Mood: productive
Saturday, November 5th, 2016
7:07 pm
Review Recap for October 23 - November 5 2016

Two week recap this time around, on account of the school trip to Cambodia last weekend, and subsequent scramble to catch up on day-job work and other things.

The trip to the Model United Nations conference in Cambodia went smoothly. We didn't get time for sightseeing in Phnom Penh this time around, but the students all did well at the conference and had a good time.

Immediately following the trip was Halloween on Monday, with myself and the Kiddo sporting our Minecraft costumes one more time for school festivities followed by trick-or-treating organized by some of the teachers at one of the apartment complexes in District 7.

And immediately following Halloween was the start of Nanowrimo. I'm over 6000 words in on day 5, which is a little bit behind if I don't end up writing tonight, but I'm hoping to get in some wordcount before I head to bed.

Through all of that, I've gotten some reviews posted.

On Goodreads

Bangkok 8 by John Burdett: A crime novel set in Bangkok. This is the first in a series featuring Thai Royal Police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. I read the second book in this series, Bangkok Tatoo, before this one (review of that book is here), and liked it enough to go back and start the series from the beginning.

Finding George Orwell in Burma: Emma Larkin's book mixes travel, politics, and `literature as she retraces the travels of George Orwell, who served in colonial Burma in the 1920s. Larkin connects the politics of modern Myanmar with Orwell's 1984.

On Comic A Day

Bullet For My Valentine: Scream Aim Fire: The Comics: Comic interpretation of music by the hard rock band Bullet For My Valentine. This was a Record Store Day promo.

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #729: Reprints of classic Disney comics published in foreign magazines.

Rhino Ranger, First Edition: Published by Wild Rhino, this educational comic aimed at a young Vietnamese audience tackles the issue of rhino poaching and the black market for rhino products.

On Tripadvisor

The Real Singapore Tours: Our food tour in Singapore's Chinatown.

The Hangout @ Mt. Emily: The hotel we stayed at in Singapore.

Night Safari: The Singapore's Zoo's nighttime-only park dedicated entirely to nocturnal animals.

Aravind's Curry: A restaurant we ate at in Singapore's Little India.

Also This Week

I'm supporting Author Angelia Sparrow, who is having a special sale on her books and stories to raise money for needed car repairs.

Photos from the Cosplay Festival in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, are posted here.

Photos from last weekend's school trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, are posted here.

Upcoming

Nanowrimo all this month. The page for my novel, The Lady of Three Faces, is here (no synopsis or excerpt yet, but I'll get to them; too busy writing right now!). Feel free to add me as a writing buddy!

Traveling to Kep, Cambodia, and Bangkok Thailand in late December/early January. Still tentative, but looking likely. Hope to have it booked in the next few weeks.

Current Mood: productive
Sunday, October 23rd, 2016
12:02 am
Review Recap for October 16-22 2016

This was a shortened week of teaching, but a long week in general at the day job, as we had professional development meetings on Monday and then parent conferences Friday and Saturday.

In the meantime, Gynn has been putting in a big effort at helping myself and the Kiddo out with some Minecraft-themed Halloween costumes, which we will be taking for an early test-run at tomorrow's Cosplay Festival here in Ho Chi Minh City. Pictures forthcoming!

I also posted a few reviews this week.

On Goodreads

Leprechaun in Late Winter: Definitely the most complex of the Mary Pope Osborne Magic Tree House books that I've read with the Kiddo so far.

On Comic A Day

Uncle Scrooge Halloween Ashcan 2007: Some classic Disney comics, reprinted in a Halloween-themed freebie.

Sunday Comix Jams: A collection of jam-style comic strips from a Columbus OH based comic creators group.

Pictures from Singapore

I've posted all of the pictures from the Singapore trip on Flickr. I still need to do a trip recap blog entry here, but in the meantime, enjoy my photo albums:

Gardens by the Bay

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore Zoo's Night Safari and River Safari

Orchard Road

Singapore's Chinatown and Little India

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Upcoming

Cosplay Festival here in Saigon tomorrow.

School trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, next weekend, followed by Halloween activities back here in Saigon.

Nanowrimo in November!

Trip to Bangkok in early January is just about confirmed, and we're also looking at possibly making our way to coastal Cambodia around Christmas for a few days of enjoying beach/nature.

Current Mood: cheerful
Sunday, October 16th, 2016
9:39 am
Review Recap for October 9-15 2016
Our trip to Singapore was amazing! Full blog entry on that, plus photos to come. There are already some posted on Instagram, so check them out there.

Only a couple of reviews this week due to all the traveling.

On Comic A Day

Deathstroke #3 from DC Comics' Rebirth: I picked this issue up in Singapore.

On Goodreads

The Sorrow of War by Bao Minh: A riveting novel of the Vietnam War written by a North Vietnamese soldier.

Upcoming

Our plans for Christmas break are starting to take shape. It looks like we'll be traveling to Bangkok, Thailand, and possibly southern Cambodia around the beginning of 2017.

In the meantime, I have a school trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, coming up in about two weeks, and possibly the Cosplay Festival here in Ho Chi Minh City next Sunday.

Current Mood: Relaxed
Sunday, October 9th, 2016
2:09 am
Review Recap for October 3-8, 2016

I'm up late tonight prepping for tomorrow morning's trip to Singapore. Can't wait to see this city I've heard so much about!

In the meantime, here are my reviews from the past week.

On Comic A Day

A Taste of Insanity: A chapbook excerpt from K.T. Pinto's vampire novel, Celeste.

On Goodreads

Arax the Soul Stealer: Part of the Beastquest series by Adam Blade, which I read with the Kiddo. I wasn't a fan of this one.

Making the Difference: Differentiation in International Schools: Some day-job-related reading.

Buffalo Before Breakfast: From Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series. Another book I read with the Kiddo, and one I liked quite a bit better than the Adam Blade entry from earlier in the week.

Also This Week

I'm supporting Brendan Donovan and his participation in the Best Buddies Challenge, raising funds for Best Buddies programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Upcoming

I'll be in Singapore over the next five days. Follow me on Instagram for photos.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a school trip toward the end of the month, and tentatively looking at heading to Bangkok, Thailand in early January.



Current Mood: Eager
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