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Eating Good in the Neighborhood (or not)

Published May 3, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

Ah, the cultivation of food. What would we be without it?

I don’t even want to think about it. Please don’t make me. *Whimpers in corner, clutching coffee* My Preciousss. It is minesss. Mines by rightses! *pets*

Ahem. Right. Where was I?

Agriculture is a huge part of society, because you know, it deals with food and how we get it. In fact, I would say it is the most important part of civilization.

There are many theories as to why we started to grow delicious food crops, which is likely due to our inherent laziness*, but I’m not going to get into that. I’m not even going to talk about the cultural, environmental, and societal impacts agriculture has had on us. I’m going to talk about how it pertains to you. Or more specifically your book. Or even more specifically, your characters.

In every fictional society, whether one set in Ancient Egypt or a futuristic colony on Pluto, your characters need to eat. And the food they eat will vary depending on where (and when) they are. For instance, in your futuristic Plutonian colony, why do they eat the foods they do? Why does one crop grow better than another? Is it the mineral and PH make-up of the soil, the accessibility of water, the hardiness of the plant? Have they been genetically modified to survive in the alien environment?

Not only that, but how do they cultivate their food? Is it in above ground greenhouses with special glass to absorb the weak sunlight, or are they underground with artificial lamps? Why did they choose to do it one way over the other. Weather, environment, and technology play a huge role in deciding these questions.

If you are writing historical fiction, you should consider not only what they had, but what they didn’t have. If your story takes place during the Tang Dynasty, obviously your characters will not be eating chocolate, because you know, they didn’t have it. Also, chocolate was originally a drink served frothy and delicious. MMM, chocolate…

Anyways, food. It’s important. And so isn’t how your characters get it.

*Purely unscientific assumption

 

I is for India

Published April 19, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

Buddha

India has a long and vibrant history. I could probably write a post every day for a year and not cover everything. It is the birthplace of four major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. India is also one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with the Indus River Valley being the birthplace of the Indo-European cultures.

Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion in the world, stretching back over 5000 years, and has over a million gods, some of which have many incarnations.

Statue of Avatar Krishna

An avatar is an incarnation of a god; most often the god Vishnu. Avatars descend to earth to bring Dharma, or righteousness back to the earth. Two of the most popular avatars are Krishna and Rama. Both were avatars of the god Vishnu.

Karma is the belief that every action has a reaction. It is believed that your actions in this life will affect the actions in the next. I am vastly understating this, but that is the basic concept.

Ganesha is the most widely worshiped god in Hinduism. He is often depicted with an elephant head  and four arms. One of the legends behind his appearance says that the god Shiva beheaded Ganesha when he came between him and the goddess Parvati, and replaced it with that of an elephant.

Kali is the goddess of time and change. She is also considered “The Redeemer of the Universe”. She is most often depicted as violent and bloodthirsty. She is also largely depicted as a demon slayer. Other, more recent accounts see her as  more benevolent sort of  ‘mother goddess’.

The Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum by the emperor Shah Jahan for his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. Her death had caused him so much grief (she died in giving birth to their 14th! child) that he wanted to create something beautiful in her memory.

Once again, I am posting a John Green video, this one about Buddha and Ashoka the Great.

Books for reading challenges:

Fantasy                                                                                                        Sci-fi

Due to Technical Difficulties…

Published April 10, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

I am taking a reluctant break from the A to Z challenge.

However, once I’m up and running again, I do plan on continuing the posts. Mostly because I enjoy doing them (and all the research). Who knows, maybe I’ll add more cultures?

The Month of October is Brought to You By Monsters

Published September 30, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

Is it just me, or does the vampire look like batman?

There are some exciting things going on in my life. First, I found a job in Boston! Yay! I’m all moved out of my 4th floor apartment, and strangely, I feel as though I’ve just climbed Everest. Weird.

On to October. I planned to do a whole series of posts on monsters in October, so I was really excited when Sommer announced Monster Fest, which you should check out because there are some really awesome entrants.

I’ve broken down each week by the top four monster costume choices (at least in my opinion): zombies, vampires, ghosts, and witches respectively (I know, I’m weird), and the 5th week, which is when Halloween is, will be about horror in general plus some randomness thrown in for excitement. I have a bunch of YA Recommends planned, plus you’ll be subjected to lists of my favorites, and the highly biased defensive measures to ward off each creature. They’ll be more, but I don’t want to give away any more spoilers.

Also, in regards to Banned Book Week, I popped open The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and serendipitously found a lovely little note from a previous reader.  It’s kinda perfect for Banned Book Week actually, so I’m going to share it with you.

Dear Reader, I hope you love this book and enjoy it as much as I have. Cherish. Be grateful about who you are and what you have…

I hope a book changes your life this week. Scratch that, I hope a book changes your life every week.

Learning to Share

Published September 8, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

I’m back, even though I don’t really want to be. Vermont was beautiful, as always. Except for the rain. It rained on my stargazing party. *shakes fist at sky*

I don’t really have much to say, except I was reading through my 3rd grade book (it is an actual bound book) of class assignments, and came across my New Years Resolution, and it was so funny, I decided to share it with you. So, without further ado, my 1995 New Years Resolution:

Learn to like my brother. Also, learn to share with him.

Also, it seems I was quite conceited. Apparently I fancied myself quite the storyteller, even though at that age I didn’t quite get the concept of periods.

Oh, 9 year old me.

Traveling Across Space, Time, and State Lines

Published September 2, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

It’s Labor Day weekend, which means I’ll be in Vermont eating delicious food and relaxing. I love going up there this time of year. The weather is cooler (yet still warm), there are no bugs, and the leaves have already started to turn. One of my favorite things to do is sit around the campfire at night roasting marshmallows for s’mores and staring up at the stars. I also like to go to the fair and eat all the fatty fair food, but stargazing is more of a romantic image (so I’ll leave you with that).

Speaking of favorite things, I am of the opinion that there needs to be more time travely books.

I often think about the past and wonder at the secrets it holds. What overlooked events have yet to make themselves known, what truths are lurking behind the stories we know. Our account is a fairly biased one, what with dictators rewriting the history books while in exile, pharaohs erasing their predecessors from history, not to mention the bias of the ones recording the events. Still, our history is magnificent, fascinating, horrific, mind-blowing, and completely and unimaginably awesome. If there were such things t-squares and protractors during the time of the Egyptians, I would be writing to you from the moon*.

Given the Key to the TARDIS, my first priority of business would be to visit the Library of Alexandria. Second, would be to watch the building of the Giza pyramids. Then I would hop on over to the other side of the ice age for a little visit to see how things are going, then maybe hang with favorite historical figure or two.

You would think that with all my fantasizing about the distant past, I would neglect the future, but I don’t. If time travel existed, I would be one of the first ones to line up to get my front row seat at the end of the Universe (best show on earth… er, I mean, Space!). Also on my itinerary would be: the death of the sun, and around 2-3,000 years into the future. We better have flying cars by then. Better yet, we better be able to fly by then (come on, evolution, catch up to our brains already!)

I’ll leave you with my new favorite quote: Books are like the TARDIS, they are bigger on the inside.

Given the choice, where would you go?

*I don’t actually believe this. Maybe I do. I haven’t made up my mind yet. More research is to be done.