Ethnographic & User Data

Epigenetic Consequences of War

Mitosis

World War Z is upon us, and it behooves us to consider its consequences carefully. We all understand that deprivations and stresses of war leave scars on the survivors, physical and psychological. Bullet wounds, starvation and malnutrition, exposure and lack of sleep, physical exhaustion and lack of hygiene are but the most obvious horrors of war. And so are the psychological effects of watching loved ones suffer and die, living with uncertainty and constant threat, the fear, the everpresent anxiety, and complete powerlessness over one’s circumstances can cause as much physical damage as a bullet. And, of course, causing harm to another human, killing another being is a brutal assault on one’s soul and not something the perpetrator is likely to ever get over. All the endless wars that we have been fighting all over the world taught just how punishing these conflicts are on civilians and soldiers alike. No wonder we have a suicide epidemic among our veterans. The war for them is not over when they come home… But now consider what wars do to the next generation — not the survivors themselves, but to those who are born to them after the conflict is over. Again, the…

Women, Sex, and Plotlines

Epic header

I had this idea for writing a post about mothers and their children, but then I’ve decided that I’m too close to that subject at the moment and moved on to writing about sex. Sex sells, right? So here it goes: women, sex, and plotlines. Per statistica.com, 84% of romance readers are women. Obviously, that’s not a big surprise. I remember listening to a woman who was rhapsodizing about ebooks because she no longer needed to make covers to hide the fact she was reading romances on her subway rides to work. Ebooks hide lots of unique reading preferences behind their bland consumer electronics facades. And what people say they read and what they actually buy is quite revealing. The most popular answer to what genre you like to read is mystery/crime/thriller. And yet romance/erotica is by far the most profitable category at $1.44 billion, while crime/mystery came a distant second at $728.2 million. You’d be shocked, shocked to learn that people lie about what they love to read (or do). And while we are focusing a bit on statistics, here’s an interesting tidbit: engineers did research on what kinds of search relating to sex do women do as opposed…

We are all immigrants in the land of COVID

A masked American family in 1918

I think human souls are tied to the land that bore them, shaped by it, created to fit the terrain, the weather, the language, the culture of the motherland. When transplanted into a new land, forced or otherwise, souls need to conform. They get broken somehow, edges filed away, bones cracked, empty spaces are hidden or forgotten. That’s why it is easier for kids to abandon their old homelands and immigrate to a new homeland — their souls are still flexible. Adults never truly adapt, they are forever broken, torn away from their motherland. And people who leave their birthplaces when they are somewhere in the middle — not quite adults not really children — become strange misfits. On the outside, they look like they belong, but scratch below the surface and there are surprising gaps and unexpected breaks in their psyche. America is the land of broken souls. “First-generation” or “foreign-born” comprise as much as 13% of all Americans (per 2013 census), more than one in ten! In many ways, immigrants are the most vulnerable population — these are the people who will never quite fit into the fabric of their new homes, they will forever remain tied to…

Ice Music

Coding Peter Suddenly Paris 2 Covers

I wish I had heard of Siberian Ice Drummers or the use of Lake Baikal ice as a musical instrument when I wrote the second book in the “Many Worlds, One Life” series: “Coding Peter”! If I had, it would have been featured prominently in my story. Alas, some discoveries come too late…but at least they come! Take a listen:

Fantastical Halloween

Books are good for the Soul

We are quickly falling into Fall. Warm sweaters, blankets, and books. But why bother with books when there is so much other entertainment around? Netflicks, HBOs, Amazons of the world are eager to grab hold of our eyeballs and never let go. It’s great for their bottom line. In 2017, the American Time Use Survey (Bureau of Labor Statistics) said that according to their survey, the number of Americans who read for pleasure had dropped by 30% since 2003. Who has the time, right? I hear that a lot too. “I’d read, but I have kids…I commute…I work long hours…I read at work…” There are many excuses. The one that most people don’t typically mention is that it is much easier to plump on a couch and watch something on TV or to simply play on one’s cell phone (for those who no longer own a TV). But reading is an active activity, while watching videos is passive. Cognitively, that makes a huge difference. Consider a piano. About 100 years ago, most households in America (middle class) had a piano in their parlor. Everyone learned to play a little bit. People could read music and play it off a sheet.…

Forty Years of Cultural Dissonance

Pastrami Sandwich

This May was the fortieth anniversary of my family’s arrival in America. We came as refugees. My husband and I celebrated this momentous event (this marks over two-thirds of my life here) by visiting the Tenement Museum in downtown New York City. The biggest takeaway was the strong sense of “strangers in a strange land” mentality. People arrived not knowing the language or customs, not having a place to sleep or an ability to source work. It was scary. It took a very strong impetus to leave all that one knew and understood behind, to leave family and friends, to leave familiar food and places…to leave behind the mother tongue. (Did you know that the word “cow” is not under K in a dictionary? How are people supposed to find words when they don’t even start with the letter that they sound? Back then, I ended up drawing a cow in the middle of a sentence to finish my homework.) Without a language in common, it is very difficult to forge social ties. It is the main reason people “bunch up” by their cultural heritage into neighborhoods like “Little Italy,” “China Town,” “Little Russia,” “Jewishberg,” “Japantown,” “La Pequeña Habana,” “Little…

Not So Random Musings

Paper Birds

I’m overdue for an update. Usually, I have ideas and themes all worked out (and ebook giveaways all set), but this time it’s different. I still have books to give out, but the main theme of this “sharing” eludes me. So I’m going to write about a few issues that I found interesting in my last month of reading, editing, and watching the news. Reading Last year, I finally bit the bullet and started reading Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” series. I’m on book 11 now… Robert Jordan (this is a pen name of James Oliver Rigney Jr.) began writing the first book in these series, “The Eye of The World” in 1984 and only published it 1990. Considering just how popular and influential these series were/are, it gives hope for writers like me… I love the world created in these books. It’s very complex and deep (and wide). But I kept finding similarities to other fantasy series I’ve read. Of course, there’s the homage to Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series. But I expected that — those were really the founding high fantasy series that gave birth to all the rest. But there was also more than a…