East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Deep Map

prayryearthFor a number of reasons, too long to discuss here, I’ve been thinking about a book I read some twenty-odd years ago.
And for a change, I can’t find it in my boxes.
It is called PrairyErth (A Deep Map), and was written by William Least Heat-Moon.
I mentioned Heath-Moon in the past, because he is the author of Blue Highways, one of the best travel books I ever read – a book that actually caused me to start again reading travel books after a decade spent away from that genre.

Now, in retrospective, while at the time it left me perplexed (also due to the translation, I think) PrairyErth is sort of growing on me.
In particular I like the idea of deep map that’s at the core of the book. Continue reading

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Setting up a reading group

This might be the first post in a series…

Something’s moving, and I’ve been asked to set up a reading group.
The original idea was to have me do a writing workshop, but then it was judged too complicated, and therefore they fell back on a reading group I could set up for the local administration. For free, because there is no money for culture is the local mantra.
And despite my current dire financial straits, I thought, why not?

reading group

After all, I love books, I like talking about books, I like meeting people… as long as they provide me with a place to do it, it’s not a chore, for me, it’s fun.
And who knows, might be the start of something for which money can be found.

So, I put down a quick note about what you need to set up a reding club.
It’s a very bare-bones, personal recipe, something I improvised – based on my experience – to keep my contact hooked and try to actually get the thing on the road instead of just keep discussing the possibility. Continue reading

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Like Outer Mongolia

middleton-extremes-on-the-silk-roadIt took me a while (…) but I’m finally getting into Nick Middleton’s Extremes along the Silk Road.
I’m kicking myself for having waited so long, as the book is turning out to be a lot of fun, and filled with information and nicely-observed detail.

Middleton’s a good writer – to the point and amusing, very British in his approach to the idea of crossing the Gobi Desert as part of his exploration of the Silk Road.

And there’s a point where I had to stop and pause for a moment.

Early in his adventure, Middleton is spending some time as a guest in a local family’s ger, the round yurt typical of Mongolian nomads, and he observes how the daily routines and the lifestyle of these people has not changed in generations.

And I thought, well, neither has it changed hereabouts. Continue reading


Back in the game?

Two firsts, tonight.
First first, after a long delay and lots of experiments and failed attempts, I’m running my first online gaming session – using Google Hangouts and my shaky connection.

This is very important to me – ever since I moved in this God-forgotten village in the hills of dreary Astigianistan, my regular gaming schedule has been disrupted and, later, canceled.


One can’t drive 80 km to play three hours, and then drive 80 km back once a week.
Apart from the stress and the fatigue – and the short gaming time – the costs in terms of fuel are insane1.

So, will my connection hold and allow me to game online with my friends in Turin?
I really hope so2. Continue reading