Aargh !


OK so here's the deal, I do not have any inspiration to write about anything. In between being super busy at work and the little time I have left for life, I am just not inclined to write. And I have lots of things I want to write about. Remember my hype about the "People Series" thing that I got so excited about? Well I still want to do it and I have a list of people to research about, but I just can't get myself to sit down and do it ! I have no idea what is wrong with me from that point of view. Thing is when I get home all I want to do is eat something quick, shower and settle in bed with a book, oh yes I am overly obsessed with reading right now and wish I could just stay at home and read ! That of course is impossible. Which brings me to my next complaint.. I have lost all interest in cooking, I can't believe it ! My poor food blog, I haven't had anything to add to it in ages, which is why I have decided to take it down for now. And yes that means I'm back to eating microwave junk and take-out food. Ugh. But then I'm perfectly happy to do that, as long as I can get my ass to bed early and spend a good couple of hours reading. At the moment Shelfari has been my addiction, who knew interacting with other people about books could be so much fun? Oh and addicting. I have never had the opportunity to have discussions about books with anyone, ever since high school when we had to read books which we then discussed in class, but this is different, you can choose which books to read and heck you can even make suggestions, what more could you want. So now you know the reason behind my lack of posting. I am however pleased that I have been keeping up with my book blog, so far, and I have no plans whatsoever to drop it, like say the food blog. Still I have not been writing reviews as soon as I finish a book, but that's OK because I actually feel like I want to do it, and it's not because I keep putting it off and make up excuses to make myself feel better.

This is what, the fourth or fifth time that my blog has gone into an unexpected hiatus? Some people have been blogging for years, and they have dutifully done so without going blank for periods of times, but that apparently doesn't seem possible for me. You would think I have some problem with commitment, seeing how I get excited about it and then a couple of weeks down the line all the excitement has died down, until the next spurt. I wish I could understand this part of me !

Let's just hope that in the coming days I will get my motivation to blog back, and until then I will just continue to read, read and read. I even have lists of books to read, except the problem is my TO READ list keeps growing and growing much more than I can read. My lists include, the 100 Classic Books List, 1001 Books to read before you die, the Complete Stephen King Books list, and I can't forget about my Wishlist on Shelfari which at the moment has another 15 books, and the books I own which I have still to read. Aaaa why are there so many books in the world !!

Barcelona !


I have been back for two days but dang I haven't had time to do anything. The few days I spent in Barcelona were great ! Thanks to the nice people at the reseller where I was doing training, I managed to see some places because when I told them it was my first time in Barcelona they really wanted to show me around. That was a major plus. Barcelona is known as the city of Gaudi, and rightly so since there are so many of his architectures. There is so much to see, I only wish I had more time ! I have to say that from the the [few] cities that I have been to in Europe, Barcelona is the one I liked the most so far and I attribute that to the fact that its a modern city but at the same time intertwined with rich cultural heritage.

I'm in the process of uploading pics to Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/apolskis/sets/72157613783347783/, still got a long way to go though to filter all the pics I took. This is my favorite picture of the bunch, taken from Poble Espanyol, which is an outdoors museum representing different locations in Spain.

As usual after every business trip, I have been super busy at work but it should tone down from next week. I'm really looking forward to that so I can get back on track with everything, including my blogs.

Vlad Dracula

The first installment of the People Series is about Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler because of his chosen way of killing people by impalement or simply Dracula. My interest to find out more about him was stemmed when I was looking for ideas of what books to read next and came across Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula". I have heard before that the character of Dracula was based on a real personality and I was curious to find out if this was true and if so who was this person. What I found out was not what I expected.


Vlad Dracula, a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Tepes (Tse-pesh), or Vlad III, was born in the citadel of Sighisoara, Transylvania, in 1431. Transylvania, Moldovia and Wallachia are today joined together as Romania. His father, Vlad II, was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a secret fraternity sworn to to uphold Christianity and defend the empire against the Ottoman Turks. It is said that at age five, young Vlad also become a member of the Order of the Dragon. Undoubtedly Vlad III is most commonly known for inspiring the character of Dracula in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel with the same name.

Vlad Dracula's Names

"Drac" is the Romanian word for dragon and "ul" is the definitive article and thus Vlad III's father came to be known as Vlad Dracul, or Vlad the dragon. The added "a" means the son of, so essentially Vlad III was known throughout his life as Vlad Dracula, the son of the dragon.

The word Tepes stands for impaler in Romanian, this name originated after his death and it came from Vlad Dracula's preferred method of execution, impalement.

Vlad III has also been referred to as simply Dracula in a number of documents of his time, including the Transylvanian Saxon pamphlets and "The Annals of Jan Dlugosz".

Historical Background

In 1431 Vlad Dracul (Vlad Dracula's father) was named the military governor of Transylania by King Sigismund. Vlad Dracul was not satisfied with being a mere governor and so he made a plan to seize Wallachia from Alexandru I. In 1436 his plan succeeded and after killing Alexandru he became the prince of Wallachia. During his reign Vlad Dracul tried to remain neutral between his powerful neighbors, the Hungarians and the Turks. In 1442 the Turks invaded Transylvania and were defeated but John Hunyadi of Hungary forced Vlad Dracul to flee with his family. Essentially Vlad Dracul betrayed the Order of the Dragon and in 1443 he regained the Wallachia throne once again with the support of the Turks. To assure his faith to the Sultan, Vlad Dracul sent his two younger sons, Vlad Dracula and Radu, to Adrianople as hostages to insure that he will not plan to strike against the Turks.

In 1447, John Hunyadi orchestrated a coup to assassinate Vlad Dracul because of his pro-Turkish policy which Hunyadi, having devoted his life to fight the Ottoman Empire did not approve of. Upon receiving the news of Vlad Dracul's death, the Turks released Vlad III but Radu decided to stay behind. With the help of Pasha Mustafa Hassan's Turkish cavalry, Vlad Dracula seized the Wallachian throne at the age of seventeen for a brief period of time. Only two months later, Hunyadi forced Vlad Dracula to surrender his throne and flee to his cousin, the prince of Moldovia.

In 1456, Vlad Dracula invaded Wallachia and defeated Vladislav II. Thus he became prince of Wallachia, his native land, where he instituted his strict policies, stood up against the Turks and thus began his reign of terror by impalement.

The Reign of Vlad Dracula

Vlad Dracula's reign of terror began almost as soon as he gained the throne. Early on in his reign he had a feast for all the boyars and their families to celebrate Easter. During the feast he had all the nobles arrested and those who where old an weak were impaled on the spot while those who were healthy were condemned to slavery and put to work on the rebuilding of his Poenari Castle on the Arges river. According to records the slaves labored until their clothes fell off from wear and then they were forced to continue working naked with most of them dying in the process.

One day Vlad Dracula wanted to cleanse his Kingdom from the people he considered lazy, who suffered from an illness or disability or were simply impoverished. He announced that nobody will suffer from hunger in his Kingdom and invited all the poor and unfortunate souls to a banquet. When his guests were all fed, and not to mention drunk, Vlad asked everyone how they would like not to feel hunger ever again and not to have to worry about anything. The crowd's reply was enthusiastic so he ordered his men to board up the hall and then set it on fire. Nobody escaped alive from this ordeal.

Rumours exist that Vlad Dracula also ate the flesh and drank the blood of his enemies, as well as held dinner parties next to people that has just been impaled. Vlad felt proud of his work and anyone who showed dislike when looking at the corpses soon suffered the same fate. He liked to arrange the stakes in various geometric patterns, most commonly in a ring of concentric circles in the outskirts of his target city. The length of the spear indicated the rank of the victim and the corpses were left to decay for months. Apart from impalement, Vlad also had people decapitated, skinned alive, burnt, dismembered, had their eyes gouged out and sometimes just physically disfigured.

No one dared break Vlad Dracula's laws for fear of being punished or killed. He especially enjoyed torturing and killing women, maidens who have lost their virginity, unchaste widows and women committing adultery. Such women were punished by cutting off their breasts, mutilating their sexual organs and impaled on red hot stakes.

The End

Although Vlad Dracula was a feasome enemy, in 1462 finally the Turks succeeded in forcing him to flee to Transylvania. Not wanting to leave anything for the Turks, Vlad destroyed his Kingdom by burning every village to the ground and poisoning the wells. In Transylvania Vlad met King Matthias Corvinus, but the King had heard of Vlad's inhuman ways and he had him imprisoned in the Hungarian capital of Visegrad. As time passed, Vlad was allowed to come and go as he pleased as long as he reported to King Matthias.

For nine years, while Vlad Dracula was in King Matthia's custody, Vlad's brother Radu occupied the throne of Wallachia. When Radu lost favor with the boyars and King Matthias, the latter and Prince Stefan Bathory of Transylvania joined forces with Vlad and after months of attacks he returned to Wallachia to occupy the throne. The boyars, knowing the possible pitfalls of Vlad's reign opened to the idea of Basarab's return, thus Vlad found himself in a precarious situation where his army was undermanned and left with only a few thousand men to combat the Sultan's ever growing army. The battle was difficult but Vlad Dracula fought against overwhelming odds a refused to accept defeat, but eventually they would meet their doom. Vlad Dracula is thought to have been killed during battle near Bucharest in December 1476, and it is claimed that he was accidentally struck by one of his own men. Ultimately the Turks decapitated Vlad's body and his head was sent to Constantinople to be displayed on a stake as proof that Vlad the Impaler was dead.

Sources and further reading:






Yep once again I have decided to change the layout. It's crazy how when I make the layout I like it, and in a couple of months, weeks or even days I start hating it. This is what now, the third layout change? I think it has a lot to do with getting fed up of seeing the same thing over and over again, after a while I need something fresh. In the coming days I will change the layout for the other two blogs too, you know so everything is in sync.

I have also decided that I will go ahead with my little project of learning about new things and getting to know more about some of the people which, in some way or another, left a mark on the world. For now I will be starting with the latter to see how things go, and mainly because I already have some ideas for it whilst I need to put more thought in the other. I will be calling it the People Series and I will be posting the first one in the next one or two days. I'm really looking forward to start this, I hope the excitement doesn't die down after the first few posts, as is the case most of time.

Updating my food blog has been a bit slow lately, but that's not because I lost interest in it, far from that, but simply because I haven't been cooking anything worth mentioning the last week. Frozen food and eating out has pretty much taken over my life, but I will try to make more effort to cook. That's not just to keep up with my blog either, it generally makes me feel better when I actually cook instead of heating food in the microwave, apart from being much more satisfying.

Knowledge is power


Some times I get this realization that there are so many things I don't know about, so much that I could learn, and when thinking about the vastness of it I start to get this feeling of anxiety, like I really need to do something about it. There are so many topics and areas, it's impossible to know everything, but I feel like I need to make more effort to learn new things outside the subjects I'm more familiar with. Science, history, economics, and so many more, but how do you go about it effectively?

While thinking about this I got an idea, two ideas actually. Number one is to make it a point that every week I will choose a random topic which I come across and do some research about it, then blog about it here. The blogging part is for motivation, and to make it more interesting. The second idea is along the same lines, but instead of a random topic I will choose a random famous person and get to know about him/her. Different people from all walks of life, people that in some way or another made an impact in their life. I already got some ideas of people I want to know more about. Again I will blog about it. This is still an idea and in the end I may or may not really do it, but right now it seems like it will really help to broaden my knowledge, about everything. Apart from that it will also help the blog, because usually I don't have a whole lot of things to talk about, and when I do most of the time I have a hard time saying much about it, so I end up not blogging about it. The thing is that I like the idea of blogging and I think it's fun when you have a topic to write about. My writing abilities are not too spectacular, but I would really like to improve that too. I admire people that can write so eloquently and express their feelings in such an articulate manner, if not even jealous of them.

I get so excited thinking up these little projects, even though not all materialize in the end, but I really want to try this out, and hopefully be able to keep up with it.

Such a beautiful horizon...


Yesterday I just learned that next month I will be going on a business trip to...Barcelona, Spain. I haven't been on a business trip since last September and I was sort of relieved that I didn't have to travel so much anymore. Especially when my business trips involved going to the UK every month just for three or four days. It was fun at first but after a while it became tiring so I was glad when this series of business trips came to an end. Now that it has been a while that I've been on a business trip I am excited about this, even more so because I have never been to Spain before. I will be staying there for five days and apart from the usual presentations and training for the reseller I am hoping that I will have some time to look around. You know there are lists like X places to visit before you die etc.? Well I want to see as much of Europe as possible before I die ! I am still way behind but these kind of business trips help too, heh.

I made a quick search about Barcelona and it looks like there are many interesting places to visit. Apparently there are a lot of buildings by "Catalonia's favorite son" Antonio Gaudi and from the pictures I've seen Gaudi's works are pretty awesome. One place I decided I'm going to have to visit is Parc Guell, I fell in love with it just by reading about it and seeing the pictures, so one way or another I am going to make time to go there. I'll have to check it out more and see which places I can visit while I'm there giving the time I have. If I ever have doubts about my job, something like this is what keeps me motivated. I love traveling, my dream is that one day, sometime in the not so near future, I will be able to take a couple of months off work and spend it traveling. That would definitely be the coolest thing I did in my life. However for now that's pretty much impossible, because apart from not having the funds to do that, it's impossible to take that much time off work. Ah well, but hey I can dream !

Until then I will have to satisfy with going on vacation, preferably to Europe, once a year, and going on business trips. Which is not so bad after all !

Reading 1001


I have always loved reading and unless I am going through a super busy time I read every day. Since joining Shelfari however I am realizing how much there is to read, and I want to read all books I see ! Being on that site gives me all this energy to read. For the first time in history I am reading two books at the same time, one book I'm reading when I'm at home and one through DailyLit when I manage to sneak some reading at work. In fact last Friday I stayed in for lunch hour since I had my homemade lunch and spent it reading.

I joined a group on Shelfari called '50 Book Challenge' where basically you set your own number of books you want to read throughout the year and keep a record of it. I set my goal to 20 books and if I kept at this I will be able to reach my goal with no problem, but who knows with me. Another group I joined is '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die'. Althought it would take me more than a lifetime to read 1001 books I think it's interesting and it's great to get ideas of what to read next from it. I have only read 12 books from the list so far so there's a lot for me to choose from. You can see the complete list of books at http://www.listology.com/content_show.cfm?content_id=22845.

I just wish I had more time to read, but there are so many things I want to do during the day that I don't have enough time to fit everything in ! Such a bummer. Some people read over 80 and some even over 100 books in a year, how do they manage that?? I wonder if you can have a full time job and still be able to do it, because even if all I did was work and read I don't think I could read so many books in a year.