Sunday, December 25, 2005

Perry is on Easy Street!

A few days ago, I got an email from my best buddy Perry. I think he may have got the best Christmas present he could imagine. As many of you know, he has been an Associate Professor at UNLV and doing some substitute teaching in the local school district in Las Vegas. As long as I have known Perry, he had his heart set on teaching at the University level. Well, after a few months of substituting in the grade schools in LV, he had a change of heart. He put his efforts into landing a full-time position teaching little ones. Since he didn't have traditional teaching credentials, he had to be creative. Long story short, he managed to befriend the right folks and recently landed a job as a full time teacher in the Clark County School District. I am so proud of him. He is going to be the best teacher in the district...those kids are going to be taught by someone with far superior skills than the average teacher.

Congrats Perry!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas is Coming and Alleycats

Christmas is a week from today. It's kinda odd here...this isn't a Christian nation, so Christmas is nothing more than a marketing blitz. For instance, outside of the Taipei 101 building there is a "Christmas" display. It's a Christmas tree with children running around it while a dragon is wrapping itself around the Colleen (my best gal pal), said it looked like Santa Claus meets King Arthur. The Christmas tree outside of a local department store is decorated with discount coupons from the

We have decided to have a quiet celebration with some good food and egg nog. Probably just a few folks over, nothing fancy.

Last night, Colleen & I went to Alleycat's for dinner. Alleycat's is an insanely good Italian restaurant. The pizza is as good as any I've had in the States. We had a great dinner. Afterwards, we were planning on going to "Snake Alley", a world-famous night market. At the market, they kill snakes, drain the blood, and folks drink it!! It's supposed to be good for you...I'm a bit skeptical. Anyhow, as we were walking down the street, a young taiwanese guy grabbed us and invited us into this wine bar to celebrate his birthday. It was too funny. There must have been about 40 people there drinking like fish. Vincent, the birthday boy, said that it was 500 NT$ per person for all you can drink. That's a decent deal because 500 Taiwan dollars is about $17 American. Prior to going into the bar, Colleen & I had split a bottle of red wine, so we were already pretty loopy...there was no way we were going to turn down this invitation. It turned out to be a lot of fun. As most of you know, I'm not much of a drinker. I woke up with a RAGING headache this morning.

It was great to get to spend the evening with Colleen. She is a great woman, crazy, but nonetheless, great.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Pig Catapult

What a wonderful surprise! I got a package in the mail last night...and yes, I did open a few off the wrapped pieces inside...I couldn't resist! Thanks Mom, Jill & Jayne. You are the greatest.

Mom decided to include a few fancy toothbrushes instead of chocolate, why doesn't that surprise me??? The DVD is sooooooooo cool, I've been dying to see it and it's everything I thought it would be. Since I emailed Jayne about getting it for me, I'm going to assume she is the one who found it...thanks a ton! The "pig catapult" has Jill written all over it. Who else could possibly know that I'd enjoy such a silly thing? Jill, you've out-done yourself! The pics of the cats are a hit at the hostel, they provide some context to my crazy cat stories. I haven't opened the other two packages yet, I guess I could wait until Christmas day for any further unwrapping.

I can't express how great it felt to see that box with my name on it. Getting stuff from home is priceless.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Ballad of Hollis Brown

I've decided to post the lyrics to The Ballad of Hollis Brown by Bob Dylan because it's intense and I find myself listening to it over and over again frequently. This song isn't necessarily out of the ordinary for Bob, his entire collection is poetry.

Hollis Brown
He lived on the outside of town
With his wife and five children
And his cabin brokin' down.

You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don't know how to smile.

Your baby's eyes look crazy
They're a-tuggin' at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why
With every breath you breathe.

The rats have got your flour
Bad blood it got your mare
If there's anyone that knows
Is there anyone that cares ?

You prayed to the Lord above
Oh please send you a friend
Your empty pocket tell you
That you ain't a-got no friend.

Your babies are crying louder now
It's pounding on your brain
Your wife's screams are stabbin' you
Like the dirty drivin' rain.

Your grass is turning black
There's no water in your well
Your spent your last lone dollar
On seven shotgun shels.

Way out in the wilderness
A cold coyote calls
Your eyes fix on the shortgun
That's hangin' on the wall.

Your brain is a-bleedin'
And your legs can't seem to stand
Your eyes fix on the shortgun
That you're holdin' in your hand.

There's seven breezes a-blowin'
All around the cabin door
Seven shots ring out
Like the ocean's pounding roar.

There's seven people dead
On a south Dakota farm
Somewhere in the distance
There's seven new people born.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Group Living is for the Birds

Alright, I've GOT to get an apartment soon. This whole group living situation is a bit much. Most of the folks I've met here have been great, but I've had enough of being friendly for the sake of politeness crap. As most of you know, I'm not a morning person. Folks here are far too talkative in the a.m.. If getting an apartment will give me peace in the morning, I've gotta do it. Also, the couple who own the hostel are pretty screwed up and I am too close to the drama. They are messed up and I don't need to be involved. There have been a few great places I've checked out, but I wasn't quick enough on the draw and lost them. I think I need to be a bit more decisive.

The bosses at work have decided to treat all of the foriegn teachers to a Christmas lunch...we're all heading out to a nice restaurant this week. I guess that's a pretty cool gesture considering Christmas holds no meaning in this country. They have also found it in their hearts to give us the 26th off. The big holiday is at the end of January, Chinese New Year. I get a week off paid for that little number. I probably won't do much because EVERY Taiwanese person travels during that week and it's a massive log-jam on the roads/trains/busses/planes, not to mention the prices for travel skyrocket during that week.

Gonna check out King Kong this weekend. Peter Jackson is a great filmmaker, I'm sure it's going to be terrific.

I have been keeping an eye on the weather back home, not pretty. I gotta say, I'm not missing the snow. Its cold here, but not THAT cold. It usually doesn't dip below 50. The wind and rain can be tough, but it's not too bad.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

One Freaking Huge Building

In the newspaper this week there was an article about Taipei 101 (the world's tallest building, which is about a mile from where I am sitting). As I have noted before, there are a lot of earthquakes here. Since I got here there have been at least 5 or 6. Well, a few local geologists are speculating that Taipei 101 may be partially at fault. The building was constructed on an ancient fault line and it weighs 700,000 tons! The scientists believe that the massive amount of weight concentrated on the fault line may be a contributing factor in the tremors. They noted that prior to the building of the behemoth, there were only a few minor quakes a year. Now, we have a few a month. Thankfully just small quakes. The last major quake was in 1999, it killed 2000 people in Taipei. What a freaky theory...a building instigating disasters.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


We have a new tenant in the Hostel. I'm thinking she's probably the smallest visitor that they have ever had here. She is a teeny-tiny little kitten. One of the folks staying here found here in an alley, she couldn't have been more than about 4 weeks old when she arrived...too young to be away from her mother. She has been with us for about a week now. I named her Matilda. We have been bottle-feeding her, it's a group effort. She is adorable. Pet care here is sorely lacking, vets are few and far between. We're just gonna give her the best care we can and go with it, she seems happy.

Pics of Matilda should be on here by the end of the week.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping

No luck finding a Palm Pilot. In a way, I'm glad, I don't need to spend the money. I think they are difficult to find because the technology is kind of old, by Taiwanese standards. Taiwan is on the cutting edge of electronics and Palm Pilots are far from that edge.

Spent the day with Kelly yesterday. We went up North to Danshui. Danshui is the northernmost part of Taipei, about a stones throw from the ocean. We decided to peruse the market there. What a blast. We spent about 4 hours going in and out of the stores/stands up there. I managed to pick up a nice winter coat for about $25. I also found a few things for work. Kelly needed to get some Christmas gifts to take back to Canada with her, she is going home for about 2 weeks for the holidays. The prices at the markets are incredible...she got nice gifts for her family and spent a total of about $40 American.

The weather turned cold yesterday. It must be about 45 degrees today.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

How Henry Goes To The Post Office

Last night I taught a class that reinforced my desire to keep teaching. I came out of that class so pumped up. A large class (29 kids), I had one hour to teach them "How does Henry go to the post office?" Answer: "Henry goes to the post office by bike". "Where does Henry go by bike?" Answer: "Henry goes to the post office by bike". "Who goes to the post office by bike?" Answer: "Henry goes to the post office by bike". There were about 10 other similiar scenarios that I used...other people, taxi, train, park, Canada, etc. This may not seem like rocket science, but to kids with little or no English ability, it's a tough lesson. Well, I rocked! These kids took to this lesson like it was the latest video By the end of the hour, they were able to pose the questions to me. I simply said one word, i.e. taxi, and they would respond "How does Tony go to the shopping center?". It was so great to see such excitement. These kids were eating this stuff up. About 15 minutes after the class ended, the Chinese teacher approached me and told me that a few of the students had just told her how much they enjoyed having me teach them...what more can a person ask for?????????????

As a result of my success last night, I am considering going to the electronics market and buying a Palm They are pretty darn cheap here, and I've always wanted one.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

3 Months Down...

I've come to the end of my 3rd month at work. Everything is progressing nicely. I hate to beat a dead horse, but this teaching gig is sweet. I truly love my job. Every day brings new challenges and victories. For instance, today I helped a little girl prepare for an upcoming English language competition. Every year the city of Taipei brings together the best and the brightest from all of the big English schools and judges them according to their language skills. This particular girl is representing my school in the primary school level. She is as cute as can be. I helped her shore up her pronunciation and delivery, it was too fun. She is reciting a passage named "I like summer".

As I mentioned before, I recently bought a cell phone. Wow, it's really cool and very cheap here. I can't get enough of the text message thing.

Stay tuned for some pictures in the near future...hope to download them sometime this week.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving came and went, and I didn't even realize odd. I hope everyone back home had a nice holiday. Christmas is just around the corner. It's gonna be strange to be so far away while the family celebrates.

Pizza Heaven!

I went out with my buddy Scott last night. We had a great time. I finally ate at "Alleycat's", an amazing Italian restaurant. The pizza was as good as any I've had in the States. After dinner, we headed over to the electronics night market. I bought my very first cell phone! I think I got a pretty good's a Benq phone, brand new for NT$2500, which is about $75 American. It doesn't have a camera, but it's a nice flip-style phone. Cell phones here are cheap and everyone has one. It's important for me to have one for work and to make apartment hunting easier. I saw a million cool electronic gadgets that I'd kill to have at the market...not gonna fall victim to all those enticing vendors. After the electronics market, we headed across to the clothing/food night market. This place goes on for miles, it's incredible. I managed to pick up a great jacket (about $30 American) and some rip-off Calvin Klein cologne for about $5 American. This market is mind-boggling, wall-to-wall people for miles. The bargains are great. You can find anything. We had a killer time, I think I'll be back to search for more bargains in the near future.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This is winter?

Rain, rain, and more rain. I guess we've officially started the winter season here. It's been cool & raining for the past 4 days. It's not nearly as cold as back in Ohio, but still quite chilly. This weekend I am going to have to head out to a night market and buy a fleece. I didn't pack enough cold-weather clothing. Nights can be a bit cold because there's no such thing as central heat here, folks have to buy small space heaters for the winter. It doesn't make much sense to have a furnace here since it's cold for a very short time.

Work is steady. With each day I feel more and more comfortable. One silly thing did happen this past week. My schedule is Mon through Fri 3pm to 9pm and Sat mornings for a few hours. Essentially, I have to have 35 hours a week. These hours are a combination of teaching hours, office hours, and testing periods. Well, last Saturday I had a bunch of stuff I had to get done outside of work. I left work after a few hours because I had accomplished what they asked me to do. When I got to work Monday I caught hell from the boss because I only put in about 2.5 hours Saturday and a total of 34 hours last hour short. I thought this was a bit petty, but Carol (the boss) was not happy. Whatever. She said I should have stayed and found some busy-work to do...yeah. This type of thing is typical of bosses here, they love to nitpick their employees about the littlest things. I'm over

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Always the Bridesmaid...

Well, life is funny, in a sick sorta way. Kelly invited me over to her place tonight. We originally planned to go out to eat and go to a night market but she is battling yet another cold. Anyhow, I went out today and bought her a really cool bamboo plant for her new place. Tonight was the night I had planned on having the "talk". The one about where the relationship was headed...

After I got there and gave her the cool plant, she showed me around the place. Nice apartment. Everything was going great until she showed me her room. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was the picture of, what I assume was, her boyfriend in Canada, on her bookshelf. Oh, and the other one pasted on her wall next to her bed...ugh. Needless to say, I was a bit deflated.

After witnessing the pics, I decided that I would back off and not rock the boat. UGH, this sucks. Always the bridesmaid, never the

Life is funny, in a sick sorta way.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tough Week

Tough week. Scott, one of my co-workers, was sick. I had to pick up a few of his classes on top of an already tough schedule. Teaching 3 or 4 hours a day may not sound like much, but when those 3 or 4 hours are broken down into 3 or 4 completely different classes, it's a challenge. Tonight I taught first graders how to tell time, fourth graders time related statistics (60 seconds in a minute, 7 days in a week, etc.), and a bunch of fifth graders the past-perfect tense. Planning for 3 completely different classes that all run back-to-back can be tough. They pay me well for my time, so I shouldn't complain. No matter how trying the job can seem sometimes, I forget about the stress once I get in front of the kids...they are incredible.

Possible Visit From Kevin?

I just got an email from my cousin Kevin. He is currently a grad student studying in Hawaii (yikes, sounds rough, eh?? He is considering coming to visit this goofy island. Unfortunately, his vacation time falls at the worst possible time. The week he wants to come and visit coincides with the departure of two of my co-workers. Brent & Chris have both decided to go back to Canada. I can't blame them, they have been here a long time. Brent has been here for about 8 years, and Chris about 3.

Therefore, I am going to be out of my mind when that time comes...I'm gonna have to help train the new teachers and cover the classes that Brent & Chris normally teach.

I am not sure that Kevin would enjoy spending more than a few days here anyhow. It's not the most exciting vacation spot. I advised him to put together a trip that included a day or two in Taiwan and perhaps visits to Malaysia, Hong Kong, and/or Vietnam. Most folks I meet here seem to think that is the best plan of action.

Monday, November 14, 2005


the pics below are of the Chaing Kai-Shek memorial. It is in Taipei, about 10 minutes from where I live. For more details, check out the entry below the pics.


a coi pond located inside the memorial.
one of the buildings erected in honor of Chaing Kai-Shek.
this building is at the entrance. the design is incredible, so ornate.


this is the entrance to the memorial, that's Kelly on the left, she loves to take pics.
Me and Kel. Check out my hair, it's frightening.
The stutue of Chiang Kai-Shek is inside this building, it's really cool.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Haircut From Hell

hello all, life in Asia is good. Work has been going great and my social life is taking shape. I spent the day with Kelly. We went out to eat at a fabulous Mexican place and then visited the Chaing Kai-Shek memorial.

Kelly is a blast, she is bright, fun and pretty darn cute...the tri-fecta. Time spent with her is always fun. When we first started spending time together she mentioned that she had a boyfriend back in Canada. That was a few months back and she hasn't mentioned him since...I am a bit perplexed. I really dig spending time with her and I'm afraid if I attempt to take it any further she'll freak out and our relationship will come to a grinding halt. At the same time, I am losing my mind. If I don't express my feelings about her, I'm gonna lose it. This is the question that has boggled the minds of many a man...what the heck do I do???? I value our time so much, she is adorable.

Yesterday, I got the haircut from HELL. I had the owner of the hostel write down exactly what I wanted so I could take the paper in with me to the barber shop. I figured that way there wouldn't be any communication issues. When I got there I handed the paper to the guy and he dismissed it and said he knew how I wanted my haircut...ugh. He butchered it, as you can see in one of the above looks like I am greying...zoinks!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm Legal!

I'm going to pick up my A.R.C. today. It's my official work permit. As of today, I am an official resident of Taiwan with a legal work permit, crazy eh?

Today is also payday, time to go out and finally buy a cell phone. I think I am the last person on Earth without a cell phone. My boss keeps stressing the importance of having one so they can get ahold of me...I'm thinking that's all the more reason not to have

Kelly and I are going shopping this weekend at one of the night markets. The last time we went neither one of us had any money, so this time should be a bit more fun. She kept commenting about how many great deals there are and how she can't wait until she has money to buy them. That time has come, it's time to put our hard-earned money to good use! I'm going to look for a couple of long-sleeved shirts for the coming cold weather. The cold weather is not here yet, it's about 80 degrees here at 10a.m..

Kelly is great. She inspires me to get off my lazy butt and enjoy this crazy city. We try to do something fun every weekend. She recently moved into a new apartment in one of the coolest parts of the city...we plan on exploring the area around her place, there's lots to do over there.

This past week was interesting at work. Both Brent and Chris told the boss they planned on leaving in the next 6 months...ugh. These are the two guys that I rely so heavily upon. Brent has been there for 8 years and Chris has 3 years at Gram. It's going to be intense when they leave. I'm gonna do a quick jump up the seniority ladder. I think I'll be in a nice position to dictate my pay and working hours...we'll see. By the time they leave I should be pretty awesome at my job and the transition shouldn't be too tough.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Batman Begins

It's Saturday night and I'm exhausted. I've been fighting a bit of a cold and work is mentally draining. I LOVE the work, but by the end of the week I'm pretty burnt. Steve and Graeme are here and we're watching Batman Begins. What a cool movie, I'm impressed. We were going to go check out a microbrewery in town, but I'm too tired. Instead, we are hanging here and drinking a few cold ones.

Life here is really not much different from life in the U.S.. I have access to pretty much anything I need and many things are less expensive. One aspect of life here that is better is the women. The average woman here is considerably more attractive than in the States. My journey to work every day is like attending a beauty Being a pasty white guy garners a lot of interesting looks from the fairer sex. Taiwanese consider white skin very appealing. They hide from the sun in order to prevent any darkening of their skin. It'll be a perfectly sunny day and folks walk down the sidewalks with umbrellas. So, my super-duper white skin is quite the hit.

Two very interesting Malaysian girls just left today. They were here on vacation for 5 days. We had a blast. They were too fun. We exchanged e-mail addresses and they invited me to come and visit them in Kuala Lumpur...they would be my tour guides in what they tell me is an amazing country. I gotta put that on my agenda.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


My job. It's pretty hard to sum up. I think it's probably the most rewarding and hysterical thing I've ever done. Don't get me wrong, my time in Honduras changed my life and made me a better person. This experience has allowed me to utilize my skills in a much more stable environment. I know I made an impact in Honduras, it was just a lot less tangible than the work I am doing here. Everyday I feel like I've done something positive and uplifting in my current job.

Every class I teach is the result of one of the Chinese teachers requesting assistance with a particular lesson. They find an opening in my schedule and write in a description of what they want me to teach. For example, today I taught a level 9 class their key words for unit 4 in their text. The Chinese teacher (Queenie) sat in the back of the class and observed. One thing I do like is after every class I get immediate feedback from the Chinese teacher in the form of a review sheet. They grade me on my preparation, class management and a few other things. I think it's great because it keeps me on track and keeps me in the know as far as my progress is concerned. Sometimes it's a bit frustrating, but most of the time it's empowering. After todays class Queenie (the Chinese teacher, one of the most attractive women I've ever seen), told me I did really well and was impressed with my progress. I've had a few really bad performances in her classes, so today was a big victory.

I went out to dinner with Kelly tonight. We went to "Ruby Tuesday's" and had some Americanized food. It was tasty and a nice break from the standard vittles here in the Republic of China. We had fun. Both of us have been fighting sicknesses so it was nice to get out. She has had a head cold/cough for about a month...very frustrating. She looked as cute as ever, head cold and all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Train Wreck

Sorry for the delay in posting...long, busy week.

Work has been very time consuming. My workload is much heavier now that I seem to be getting the hang of this thing. My prep time is substantial. It's a lot tougher to prepare for a one-hour session that thought it would be. Lately I've been doing 2 or 3 a night.

Tonight is our Halloween party. Since I am the "low man on the totem pole", I have to wear a costume and act like an idiot in front of the kids for about 3 hours tonight. It should be fun and a nice break from my classes.

I thought I found the perfect apartment the other day. Before I had a chance to tell the guy that I wanted it, someone else snatched it out from under me...ugh. The demand for apartments here is incredible. Ads for nice apartments rarely last for more than a day or two.

There was a train wreck yeaterday. A train derailed about an hour south of the city. It really screwed up the schedule. As a result, I was late for work. No worries, about half of the staff takes the same train so it screwed everyone up. The trains here are notoriously unstable. According to the local newspaper, there have been 8 accidents since June. About 2 hours after this latest incident the head of the agency that regulates the trains resigned. He took the blame for the atrocious record.

It's been raining virtually every day. The hot season is over. It's been remarkably cool here this month. It would be perfect except for the constant rain. I regret not bringing a fleece with me. Clothes here are pretty expensive.

I have to pick up my resident visa and work permit on Friday. Once I do that, I am official, legal resident of The Republic of China!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dubya is an Idiot

On a completely unrelated topic, I'm sad I'm not in the U.S. to witness the unraveling of the Bush Administration. Thankfully I've been able to keep up via BBC News and the local English language newspaper. The recent poll numbers are remarkably low. I like to think of myself as pretty knowledgable about politics, I've never seen such a lack of respect for the man in the Oval Office. I read today that only 2% of African Americans approve of the job Dubya has is insane.

Perhaps this is a wake up call for the U.S.? It's time for a major shift in our approach to governing. We need to stop this preoccupation with warfare, paranoia, and religious postering. Someone much smarter than me once said "a society is only as strong as it's weakest members"...paraphrasing. Let's get off of our lazy butts and work on strengthening education, job-training, and making sure all Americans are earning living-wages. These past 5 years have been cold. Regardless of how you feel about Bill Clinton (I'm not his biggest fan), it always felt like there was some compassion coming from the White House during his years.

I don't apologize for being a bleeding-heart liberal. I can't imagine believing otherwise. Let's see, we've spent about $100 billion on the war in Iraq. I'm thinking that money could've been put to better use rebuilding the crumbling inner-city schools across the country, or spent on an initiative to retrain the millions of Americans losing their jobs every day.

Call me crazy, but I think the U.S. needs a change of direction.


The next few pics are of the hostel I am staying at. This is a portion of the living room/common area.
A look inside a multi-person room. I have a smaller room with just one regular bed. I can't imagine sleeping on a bunk-bed for more than one night.
More of the living room. Many a night is spent watching movies. It's fun, usually about 5 of us glued to the tube.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Searching for Residency

I am going to get my residents visa tomorrow. It's kinda crazy to think that I am going to be an official resident of The Republic of China. Unfortunately, it costs about $5000 Taiwan Dollars (about $150 American), to be a resident. I guess that's life in the big city.

It looks like Kelly & I are going to resume our adventures this weekend. She has been pretty sick for the past few weeks. She indicated she wants to get something to eat Saturday night and perhaps visit one of the crazy night markets. We'll see.

The weather is beginning to change here, it's getting colder at night. When I say colder, I mean around 50 degrees...not THAT cold. As a result, I've developed a bit of a sore throat/plugged ear/swollen gland thing. You don't want to be teacher with a any kind of virus because kids are like little germ's tough to get better in that environment.

No luck on the apartment search. I'm being very choosey so it's gonna take a while. No biggee, I'm comfortable where I am.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

My Mother, The Pilot

Had another earthquake last night. Since I arrived here there has been a quake about every 5 or 6 days...crazy, eh? Last night's was intense. It lasted for about 20 seconds, the whole building was swaying. I've gotta believe a big one is coming. I hope I'm here to experience it.

Life here has been interesting, to say the least. I went out to get some food today at a local market. It's remarkable how machine-like this city runs. While walking to the market I had to dodge countless crazy drivers and scooter-driving madmen. The traffic is outrageous, but at the same time I have yet to witness an accident.

I'm sad I can't be back home to cheer on mom in her adventures in the cockpit. In case any of you don't know, my mom is currently getting her pilot's license. I think it's a great idea, what a cool accomplishment. If any of you have an occasion to speak with my mom, be sure to wish her luck with the flying stuff.

Looks like I may be teaching a composition class soon. The school is considering starting a comp class for adults and I am in a good position to teach it...we'll see. I can picture Perry reading this and rolling his eyes. My abilities are pretty shoddy compared to his, EVERYONE'S skills are lacking when held up against Perry's writting savvy.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Turning Up The Silly Meter

All is better in David's land. The last few days at work have been kinda hairy. I've been terribly stressed out since I bombed in front of my boss. Quick recap, my boss popped into my class a few days ago and I was a bumbling mess. Today, she decided to watch me again and I kicked butt. The class was great and she was very impressed, as was the Chinese teacher. The Chinese teacher said she was confident the kids had a great time and learned a lot while doing it...what a great feeling. These last few days have forced me to re-examine my methods/style. Essentially, I loosened up a lot and decided to turn up the silly meter.

The time is flying here. It's hard to believe I've been here for about 2 months! It feels more like 2 weeks.

I was sitting at my desk tonight and Cindy (the adorable little girl in the picture I posted last week) came up to me smiling ear-to-ear. She said hello and handed me the most incredible picture that she made for me. I couldn't believe it. Brent, her regular foriegn teacher, moaned and complained because she has never made a picture for him...I've apparently made an impression on the little one. It was yet another warm and fuzzy moment at my job. I can't imagine a more uplifting experience. I told Cindy that I would take the picture home and put in on my refrigerator, she thought that was too funny.

Welp, off to bed. I've got an early day tomorrow.


these girls are my students. they are all excellent students. silly as can be, but very attentive in the classroom.
the train station at work. i took this after work while waiting for the train.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Paul Hackett is The Man

I am now an official resident of The Republic of China! I got my resident visa papers yesterday. All that's left for me to do is head down to the police station to get my employment card. What a relief, my visitors visa was about to run out.

My next mission is finding a place to live. Work has been pretty intense so I haven't had much time to look for a place to live. Also, the hostel is so convenient that I haven't felt any sense of urgency. We'll see.

Kelly has been sick for the past week so we haven't done a whole lot of touristy stuff. She emailed me yesterday about going out this weekend. Looks like we may be going to check out some neat places. A report and some pictures will follow.

I hope everyone out there is supporting Paul Hackett. He is a Iraq veteran running for a Congressional seat in Ohio. A good man looking to make a difference, an excellent alternative to the existing lunatics that are currently in control of our government.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Laying An Egg For The Boss

Not the best day at work...

I had to teach a class tonight for Caroline, the senior chinese teacher, they call her "the hammer". I was a bit nervous because she has been teaching there for about 8 years and knows EVERYTHING! I walked into the room and the director of the school was sitting in the back. So I had to teach in front of the hammer and my boss...zoinks! I blew it. I was horrible. I looked like a bumbling idiot. The director (my boss) was less than impressed. Her review of my performance was pretty disheartening. It's gonna take time for me to regain her respect...I'm gonna feel like a complete idiot around her. I know I'm better than my performance tonight...ugh.

Monday, October 10, 2005

10-10 Day & Ruby Tuesdays

It's 10-10 day! (as in 10th month, 10th day) Not sure what the heck it means...I get a paid day off, that's never a bad thing. I think it's an independence day type of thing. There is a big parade later, I'm gonna head down there if it stops raining.

Scott & I went to "Ruby Tuesdays" last night. We originally planned on going to the movies but it was too crowded. My meal, baked lasagna, was incredible. It was my first taste of cheese in about a month. Taiwanese people don't eat cheese. Needless to say, my stomach is in shock. It tasted great, but I'm paying dearly for

Tomorrow is pay day! My first paycheck. It's time for me to seriously start looking for an apartment. I'm not too anxious to spend the money. Most apartments cost about $1000 american to get into, that includes first & last months rent plus deposit. Doesn't sound like much, but it's a tough decision to make.

I'm working on uploading some more pics...hope everyone stays tuned in!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Pictures! (Ohio)

A few pictures from home. Home is Ohio. About a million miles from

This, of course, is the one-and-only Baby. Taking a quick break from wreaking havoc on the neighborhood.

Gracie. What a cutie-pie. She is the daughter that Jill so desperately needed to have in her Far too much testosterone in the Conrad house.

My mom's house. Landscaping compliments of moi. Mom can usually be found just inside the top, right window working her magic.
T-Bone. The old man. He has been with me for about 12 years. A truly great animal. Still kicking at about 15 years old. The prettiest coat I've ever seen on a cat.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wrastlin On The Train

It's true. Asian people are gentle & polite, except when it comes to trains/subways. I take the train to work every day. At about 2:35p.m., Taipei Main Train Station, Platform 3 turns into the Chinese version of the "running of the bulls". A Taiwanese person would run over their own mother if they thought it would get them a good seat on a train. Generally, train etiquette says that you let the folks departing from the train get safely out of the train before stepping into the car...not gonna happen here. Once those train doors open, it's every man for himself! It's hysterical. Little old ladies knocking over anyone who dares to impede their progress. It doesn't matter that the particular car they are getting on is virtually empty, they are hell-bent on getting a seat. You'd think that godzilla was chasing them and safety lies somewhere on that bench seat!

I was in one of the local McDonald's the other day and saw something pretty cool. Let me preface this by saying that Taiwanese businesses stress customer service, it's impressive. This particular McD's is always busy. In order to alleviate the perpetual lines at the counter, employees venture into the crowd and take orders using Palm Pilots that have a wireless hookup to the monitors in the kitchen. What a great idea. By the time you get to the front of the line, your order is bagged up and waiting for you. After you place your order from the employee they give you a tag with a number, show it when you reach the counter, and you get your food. That's ingenuity!

Work is gliding along nicely. I'm getting more & more comfortable. There have been a few rough spots, but nothing I can't remedy with time. One of the primary areas I struggle with is adjusting my teaching style to the particular level I am teaching that day. You can't teach 8 year olds in the same way you teach a bunch of 14 years olds. It's not a huge problem, but something I need to work on.

I'm still in mourning over my beloved Indians. What a wild ride. They were great this season and I think they have a bright future...GO TRIBE!

Monday, October 03, 2005

My Typical Day

A look at my typical day at work

2:20p.m. Leave the hostel
2:25 Arrive at the train station
2:27 Buy my ticket (19 NT Dollars, about 60 cents american) & a newspaper (15 NT Dollarsabout 45 cents american)
2:34 Catch a train going South
2:55 Arrive in Shulin (the suburb where I work)
2:56 Buy an iced tea at the 7-11 store
3:00 Get to office & clock in
3:00 - 5:00 Prepare for the evenings classes, chat with my co-workers, play with the kids, eat dinner.
5:00 - 9:00 Teach a few classes, give a test, or grade papers. I rarely will teach for more than 2 hours a night. Oral tests (seems like I am the official test administrator at the school) often take about 1.5 hours. On nights when I have a test to give, I may only teach for one hour, or not at all. It seems like about 2 or 3 nights a week I have to do the test thing.
9:11 My train departs for home
9:40 Usually arrive home at about this time.

It's a pretty good set-up. It allows me to get things done during the day. Eventually, I hope to find some private tutoring work in the daytime. I can make a lot of money tax-free tutoring. Also, in a few months, I am thinking about enrolling in some Chinese classes. It's a great skill.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


The Sun Yet-Sen Memorial (The Father of Taiwan), with Taipei 101 in the background (the tallest building in the world).
The crazy secretaries at the school. They are probably the hardest workers there. Nothing would get accomplished without them.
This is a view from the balcony of my place. Not exactly the prettiest city I've ever seen...


This is the entrance to my office. Notice the insane amount of bicycles and scooters.

A shot from my desk. This is the main entrance to the school.

Cindy, the silliest 2nd grader you'll ever meet. Her English is incredible. We have lots of fun.

A temple in the northern part of the city. This type of temple is very common all over the city, it's incredibly ornate. The architecture is impressive.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

The cast of characters that passes through this Hostel is mind-boggling. I've been here for 38 days, and it seems like I've met about 38,000 different types of people.

They range from a Canadian guy with less-than-honorable intentions to a group of Malaysian girls going to college in London on vacation. Perhaps the most intriguing actor has been the Italian guy with his Chinese wife. He is about 50 years old and she is about 30. He treats her like garbage. She rarely comes out of the room, as if she is being held prisoner. He seems to fit the stereotype of the overbearing, rude Euro with little regard for women. Most of the time he is so caustic that his appearance in the "living room" of the hostel is reason enough to go read a book in my room. He can clear a room faster than someone yelling fire in a crowded

I have managed to make some good friends while here. Graeme, a South African here to teach is a great guy. He got here the day before I did and has essentially followed the same route as me. I'm still not sure I want my child to learn English from a guy with such a crazy accent and tendency to drop the occasional Afrikaaner word in his daily speak? Scott, Steve and the other Scott are cool guys too. Three Americans here trying their luck on the island. The first Scott is here studying Chinese at the university. 6 hours a day of nothing but Chinese is killing him, and he just started last Steve & the other Scott are here to teach. Having them here has been a real stress reliever. It's nice to know that I can come home and vent my frustrations to these guys and they'll understand because they are dealing with this craziness too.

Lately I've been having the craziest dreams. I'm not sure if it's the diet, my work, or the insanely uncomfortable bed? The dreams range from deep-sea adventures to being part of a group of cannibals (don't ask about the cannibal thing, it's too bizarre to explain). Needless to say, I've awoke many a night babbling wildly.

Yesterday was "Teacher's Day". It's a day set aside to honor teachers. My boss gave each of the teachers a really cool insulated thermos with our names engraved on them. I had about 50 kids approach me with their good wishes. Several parents brought in flowers and candy for us, it was interesting.

I need to wish my sister Jill a belated Happy Birthday! I'm such a stiff, I forgot about her birthday. She is so important to me and I feel like such a jerk for forgetting to call her. I love you Jill.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Thoughts Early On

Teaching In Taiwan -- an attempt to sum up my thoughts thus far regarding my work.

Coming to a foreign country and being paid to speak your native language is pretty amazing. It's funny that I am a commodity simply because I speak English. I can't imagine having an easier time qualifying for a good job with pretty good pay.

This experience (I've been at it for about a month now) has forced me to utilize some skills that I wasn't sure I had.

I've discovered that I am much more assertive than I thought. My ability to grab and hold the attention of 20 eight year olds is astonishing...a little silliness can go a long way.

This job requires a fair amount of creativity. Last week, I had about 30 minutes to prepare for a class. I had to come up with enough material to fill an hour of class time. I nailed it. A big part of teaching Taiwanese children is game-playing. They spend all day in their regular schools, so we try to make learning English fun. In an hour we'll play a few games that involve the kids running around or competing for prizes. Thus far, I've managed to come up with some good stuff with the help of my co-workers.

The children are incredible. Their commitment is mind-boggling. Most of them come to English school directly from their regular school. I don't think I could've handled such a work-load at their age. They manage to have an awful lot of fun while excelling at such a difficult task. The pressure they are under from their parents and the schools is insane. They use their time at English school to blow some steam and it's great. I want them to want to come to see "Teacher David" because he can help them learn and have fun at the same time. It's a shame we only have them until they enter high school. The kids here, when they reach high school, attend classes from 8a.m. to 9p.m.!!!!!!!! Yes, thats 13 hours a day.

The respect I get from I get from my co-workers is invaluable. Rarely a day passes without a compliment from one of them. They all think I have a excellent delivery and they think my intonation/speaking skills are amazing...I can't stand to hear my own Last week I was asked by one of the senior Chinese teachers to record a series of taped readings so that she could use them in her class. She said that I should be on radio or TV because my voice is what non-English speakers want to sound like as their learning the language. All this praise is making me a bit

Finally, I think the best thing about this job is what I am accomplishing. Knowing that each day I am help people achieve a skill that is truly valuable. There is something incredibly empowering about teaching. It is such a rush. Whenever I feel a bit lost, I try to remember that what I am doing is important and the parents are placing a lot of trust in me. They are entrusting their children to me...scary thought, eh?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dropping The Kids Off At The Pool & Corporal Punishment

Unfortunately, I had to call off work today. I HATE doing it, but my stomach was in knots. Everytime I stood up for any amount of time, the nausea was intense. I went to the doctor yesterday. His theory was I had a bad reaction to something I ate and it caused my bowels to go haywire...ugh. He examined me and said my bowels were working too hard...I'm praying this doesn't lead into I.B.S.. He gave me some medication and I'm feeling better tonight. One visit to the doctor (who spoke English perfectly), a ton of pills, and the bill was only about $15 american. Once again showing how screwed up the US health care system is.

I've been learning a lot about how things work here. For instance, I was speaking with one of the Chinese teachers at my school yesterday, she was explaining how the teachers in the state schools still use corporal punishment. She has a friend who teachers 4th graders, this friend whacks children on a regular basis, on their hands. The bench-mark for test grades is 85%. For every percentage point the child is below that mark, they get 10 whacks on the back of the hands...kid gets an 80%, he/she gets 50 lashes. What a crime!

I had another ride on a scooter yesterday (to the doctor's office). It was a blast. I am seriously considering getting one. Riding one here is like being in a crazy video

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Worlds Largest Bamboo Shoot

I finally made it over to Taipei 101. It's the tallest building in the world. Wow, it's mind-boggling!! The first 5 floors are a mall, the rest are offices. It has 101 functioning floors with office space. One of the most intimidating things I've ever encountered. It's so high they have a counter-balancing giant ball at the top to safe-guard it against earthquakes. When the Earth shakes, the ball keeps the building from leaning, I guess. I live about 4 miles from it, yet when you look at it from my balcony, it looks like it's down the street.

Anyhow, they have a wonderful store there that imports foods from all over. I picked up some peanut butter, jelly, townhouse crackers, kiwi fruit, and some other's great to know I can get things I need there. It's not cheap, but worth it for the comfort food.

Work is rolling along nicely. It is getting easier to stand up in front of the kids. I've got a great group of folks there that support me. At first, I was pretty nervous. Now it feels like I've been doing it for years. There are a couple of little girls that have latched on to me. They are Cindy (2nd grade), and Christine (4th grade), they are in the same class because Cindy is exceptionally bright. In fact, they are in a class with children much older than them because they are great students. They make my days so much brighter. They hang around my desk and giggle all the time. They couldn't be any cuter.

Still not feeling 100%. I'm beginning to believe I may just have to live here with constant stomach discomfort. I took some Immodium the other day, that was a mistake. That drug is way too harsh. I'm going to make some adjustments to my diet this week, we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Battle With My Bladder

These last few days I have been fighting some stomach issues. I'm afraid I may have drank some less-than-clean water. We'll see how I feel in the next few days. I think I may see if I can find some Pepto today at the local drugstore.

I taught a great class yesterday. 23 six year olds. It was a bit intimidating at first, but once I got started it went well. They were really excited to learn and play the games that I had planned. I hope that every class is that receptive...fat

This weekend Kelly & I are going to Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world. It's about 10 minutes from my place. They have a HUGE mall on the 2nd floor with lots of western food...yippee! I'm hoping to pick up some groceries such as peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate, etc..

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hospitals and Cold Sweats

I finally made my way over to the hospital yesterday. In order to get a work visa you have to get a physical. It wasn't as traumatic as I had anticipated. They checked my eyes, weight, blood pressure, took some blood, and did a chest x-ray. Other than a bit of nausua after the blood test, it went smoothly. The place was packed. While waiting in line, I met a young woman from Canada. Her name is Allison. We exchanged phone numbers and are going to go out sometime in the near future. She and I had a lot of fun at the hospital. Neither one of us was crazy about the blood test. It was nice to have someone to freak out with while waiting in line...the blood test area was like an assembly line, not the most comfy set-up. Allison is cool, I hope we can see each other again soon. What is the deal with Canadian women??? Every one that I've met here has been incredible...

I taught my first class yesterday. It was my first time going solo. 18 kids hanging on my every word...yikes. Up until yesterday I had only monitored classes or taken part in class as a co-teacher. Being in charge was much more intense. I don't think it went as well as I had hoped. I was a bit nervous and don't think I was as centered as I should've been. I only had about an hour to prepare, so I'm chalking up my lackluster performance to anxiety...they changed my schedule that day. I think if I had known a day in advance, I would've done much better. I'm probably being too hard on myself, I'll have plenty of opportunities to hone my skills.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Mecca of Night Markets

Another typhoon has come and gone. It's remarkable how well this city functions in spite of the crazy storms. The rain does a wonderful job of clearing the air, making everything fresh again.

Last night, Kelly and I went to the "Shilin" night market. We had a lot of fun. The markets are amazing here. There are about 500 stands selling everything from fresh squid to fake Gucci hand bags. We were there for about 3 hours and still aren't sure we saw everything. Kelly was freaking out at the prices for women's clothing. She vows to return once she gets her first

Kelly is a great girl. She and I enjoy spending time together. We didn't think we were going to be able to do anything today because of the storm. The storm died off last night, she called me today and invited up to her place. We hung around her neighborhood and had some fun. She works days and I work nights throughout the week so weekends are the only time we have to spend together. I'm not sure where this is going, but it's going to be tough to remain simply friends...i'm very attracted to her...

I have to go to the hospital tomorrow. In order to get a resident visa you have to pass several medical tests, shouldn't be a problem. It can't be any tougher than the Peace Corps medical insanity. Speaking of Peace Corps, I recently found out that my buddy Nelson had to end his PC service early. It's a shame because he is a great guy who, i'm sure, was doing lots of good stuff. Good luck Nelson and keep in touch.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The House Was A-Rockin

Last Thursday I survived a typhoon with 120 mph winds. Yesterday we had an earthquake! The news said it registered at 6.1 on the Richter Scale. What the heck is going on here??? What's next, a plague of locusts??? I think I've stepped into natural disaster central. The quake was intense. I was sitting at this computer and it felt like I was on a raft in the ocean. As if a wave passed under the floor. It's a really freaky feeling because I'm on the 10th floor of this building.

Aunt Janet recently emailed me with some good questions. Let's see if I can address them.

*The typhoon has passed. I think there were 3 fatalities in all of Taiwan. These folks are well prepared for disasters.
*My job is going great. I work with some excellent people. They are allowing me to ease my way into the job. This past week I've been observing a lot of classes. This week my thing is oral testing. All the teachers are allowing me to take charge on test days. I won't have a set class to teach. In this school the Chinese teacher is the primary teacher. My job is to come into each of the various classes once a week and teach a particular lesson. It's a different approach, and I like it. It should prove to be a challenge.
*Overall life here is good. There are many things that dumbfound me, but that's to be expected. With each day I become more comfortable. I don't anticipate having a problem getting into a good groove.

This Saturday Kelly & I are going to one of the night-markets. Probably "snake alley". They call it that because there are several stands set up where one can drink snake blood and/or eat snake. It's supposed to be a pretty crazy place. I'll let you know.

Monday, September 05, 2005


I had my first bout with shall we say "bathroom issues" today. It's probably because of all the mysterious food that I've been eating. Eating has been a constant struggle. I've managed to find a few great places. Looks like I may have to be a bit more careful in the future.

Yesterday I finally met up with Kelly. We first made contact via email while we were both still living in North America (she is Canadian). She just arrived in Taiwan after spending a few weeks in Europe. She is here to teach too. We had fun. She has a bubbly personality and is a cutie. Looks like I may have found a good partner for some adventures here.

I resume my teaching tomorrow. It's going great. The school is run very efficiently. I wasn't sure what was in store when I got here, it's exceeded my expectations. It looks like a good portion of my work is going to be with the newer/lower level kids. That's okay because the lesson plans for the lower levels are much simpler. It'll allow me to ease into the job.

I, as with most of you, am shocked at the situation down south. What a catastrophe. I hope they can get things back to some state of normalcy soon.

Of course the Indians (major league baseball team in Cleveland) are now playing better. I think my absence inspires Thankfully I can track them from here.

Still working on uploading pics...this computer is having issues.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Typhoon Days Part 1

I survived my first typhoon. Last night was insane. The winds were about 120mph and the rain was coming down sideways. I am living on the top floor of a 10 story building and I thought by this morning there might be only 9 The swirling winds made it feel like it must've felt being adrift on the ocean in the midst of a storm. When I went out to get breakfast this morning I felt like the guy in the movie "28 Days". I survived.

Today was supposed to be my first day on the job. The storm was so bad last night the government shut down all schools today. Oddly, by the time I was scheduled to work the weather had cleared up.

I've managed to find a great place to eat. It's in the shopping mall inside the subway tunnel. A group of ladies bake various types of breads with all kinds of good stuff inside. The breads are like homemade. Little by little the food situation is improving.

Yesterday morning I went out to get some bagels and coffee. While waiting for my order the young lady behind the counter looked at me and said: "you a very handsome man". Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback by this. I proceeded to play along until she told me she was 17 years old...ugh. I can't believe I am more than twice her age. Perhaps she could introduce me to her mother???? lol

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I'm legal! I got a job yesterday. It was remarkably easy. I went into the school a few days ago for an interview, it went well and the interviewer had me come back yesterday to give a demonstration of my skills. The demonstration was a mock class with a bunch of the teachers and the school manager acting the part of students while I took charge. I nailed it and the manager was very impressed. The guy that interviewed me said my demonstration was the best he'd seen in a long time...I've got skills!

The job itself sounds great. I'll be working from 3pm to 9pm M-F and 10am to 3pm on Sats.. The children are between the ages of 8 and 14. The parents pay a lot of money to send their kids there so discipline isn't as big an ordeal as it is in the U.S.. One interesting facet of the job is I'll have a native Chinese teacher with me in the room at all times. The Chinese teacher will be bilingual so as to act as a conduit between me and the kids. I like this idea because he or she can help bridge the gap between me and my students. I start on Thursday, wish me luck!

The heat here is oppressive. I went running around the city this past weekend and couldn't believe how overwhelming the weather was. I'm not sure if it's the heat or the pollution? The smog is crazy. Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world, is viewable from my balcony. At times it's so hazy that it the only thing you can see are the lights on the top...not good.

I have been trying to upload pictures onto this computer and it's not going well. The system is a bit dated and it doesn't look good. I'll probably have to go to an internet cafe to get it done.

I mentioned that I was going to the East Coast the other day...didn't happen. The trains are a bit spiratic on Sundays and we didn't want to risk getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Stay tuned for updates on my search for the perfect food and early impressions of teaching in Taiwan.

p.s. Jayne, tell Jordan I miss him a lot and hope he is enjoying the new school year. I don't have his email! can you send it to me??

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Deer Caught In The Headlights

A tad bit overwhelming...

I think that that phrase sums up my time here thus far. I've spent the past few days trying to acclimate myself to Taipei. Figuring out where to eat, navigating the subway/train system, and finding a job have been my primary objectives this past week.

Eating has been an hysterical experience. The combination of often eating things I can't recognize and not being able to communicate with the restaurant staff is too funny. Going into a place to eat knowing that you can't read the menu is such a helpless feeling. With each visit I seem to be picking up little things that make the next time a bit less of a hassle. Thankfully there are plenty of places that seem to be accustomed to the "deer caught in the headlights" American customer.

Friday I had my first experience with the train system. It is remarkably efficient. The Taiwanese government mercifully included English on most of the signs in the train station. I managed to take a train to a suburb of the city for a job interview. It went off without a hitch. The ride was about 25 minutes and cost me about 65 cents American. I love not having to drive. Mass transit is the key to survival in a big city.

My interview went snoothly. I think I may get this job. The guy that interviewed me wants me to come back Monday afternoon and give a demonstration of my skills in front of him and the rest of the staff. If that goes well I think I will get the job. The hours are excellent and the pay seems to be more than fair...we'll see.

Stay tuned for further news on the job-front.

Yesterday a bunch of us from the hostel managed to find a British-style pub here in town and watched the world-championship of Rugby. Having never seen a rugby match I was a bit skeptical. WOW was I wrong.
I think I may have found another way to waste my is a fascinating sport. New Zealand beat South Africa and it was a thriller.

Perhaps the best thing so far about Taipei has been this hostel. With each passing day it seems I meet a new group of great people from a different part of the planet. Yesterday I hung out with a guy from South Africa, 3 girls from Los Angeles, a couple from Switzerland, another couple from Canada, and a guy from Hong Kong. It is cool to talk about our lives from our different world-perspectives.

Gotta go, we are heading to the east coast today to explore some of Taiwan's natural treasures.

I plan on posting some pictures soon...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2a.m. Wake-Up Call

Battling insomnia...

It's almost 2a.m. and I just woke up. I can't seem to get my sleep pattern set. I figure it should work itself out in the next few days.

The food has been a challenge thus far. A group of us from the hostel went to a Japanese restaurant today. It was decent. Everything was fine until I nearly choked to death on piece of mystery I've yet to find something I truly like.

It looks like I may be staying at this hostel for quite awhile. The ideal location, cleanliness, cool folks and excellent management make it an easy decision.

I've already heard back from one school. I'm heading over there to talk to the manager in the next few days.

Gotta go, it's time to heat up some fried rice and watch some bad Chinese television

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

25,000 Pennies! & Chillin in L.A.

I have arrived! This past week has been crazy!

I spent 3 days in Las Vegas with Perry & Andrea prior to flying over here. It was great. I needed an opportunity to vist with them. As usual my time with them went by waaay to fast. It was a blast. I managed to win about $250 on a penny slot machine...amazing.

I flew into LAX on Saturday afternoon, that's when the insanity started. Anyone who has flown knows that you have to show the ticket counter person the credit card that you used to purchase the ticket. Well, i bought my ticket from LAX to Taiwan several months ago and since then my bank decided to issue new debit cards. I bought my ticket with the original card and the number changed...not good. They tell you to cut up the old card, I did. So i was in a bit of a pickle. The folks at the ticket counter made me rebuy my ticket on the spot...ugh. Thankfully it was only about $100 more than the other. The only remaining issue is to make sure that the airline properly refunds my money for the original ticket. It wouldn't be that big of a deal but dealing with the bank from overseas is a headache.

Not soon after that silly situation they announced that the plane was overbooked. They offered me $400 cash, a free hotel room, a $20 meal voucher, calling cards, and a pass to the airport V.I.P. lounge if I'd be willing to wait and go on the next flight, which was in 7 hours. Of course I took it. What a deal. I hung out in a very nice hotel for the afternoon and eventually made it back to the airport that night. The flight was uneventful, long, but uneventful.

I arrived in Taipei Monday morning at about 5am. What a crazy city. It's hot here. Thankfully the hostel is air conditioned. The hostel ("Taiwanmex Guest House") is great. A cool mix of folks from all over the planet. At only $13/night it's a steal. I am about 5 minutes from the subway and the main train station. It is about 4:30am local time as I am writing this...jet lag.

Time for me to attempt to get some sleep. I'm gonna do my best to keep this thing updated as often as I can.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Dubya & Re-Packing
check out the link above, it's great stuff.

I couldn't resist putting this image on my blog...too funny.

I've been busy tying up as many loose ends as I can before my departure. Putting the finishing touches on my mom's yard, making sure the bank knows that I will be using my debit card in Asia, saying my good-byes to friends, these types of things seem to be eating up much of my time. Not to mention the steady stream of visitors we've had for the past two weeks. Time is flying and I know I'm going to be a mess by next Wednesday.

There have been some good reports from folks I've met through the various web pages. A few of them have arrived in the past week or two and seem to be doing fine.

Last Night I, once again, repacked my big suitcase. No matter what I take out of the damn thing it still ways a ton...very frustrating. I hope the airline people are understanding. If not, I am screwed!

It looks like I may be checking out Kojen schools. Henry, one of the guys I have befriended, just started with them and he is having a good time. They are one of the bigger chain schools which means there are plenty of jobs to be had in their organization. My goal is to hit the ground running once I arrive. Need to take a job pretty quickly and get rolling.

It's a shame that I have to leave the U.S. at such an intense period. If I had another few weeks I'd be joining Cindy Sheehan down in Texas. She is doing a great thing. We need to shake things up and change this dangerous course our country is on.

I'm working on putting some pics in here. Perhaps a few of home and family. Not sure yet.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hostels & Yard Work

Currently trying to work out a place to stay in Taipei, temporarily. There are several nice hostels that range from $9 to $20 per night. I will probably have to spend the first month or so at a hostel, so this decision is pretty important. Factors include cost, location, and security. I should have my mind made up in the next week. I've made an internet pal who just recently arrived in Taipei. His name is Henry and he is Canadian. Thankfully he is keeping in touch with me via email.

I've been immersed in yard work this past week so I haven't had much time to think about Taiwan. Starting to do some things and see some folks for the last time. It's a strange feeling uprooting oneself and beginning a new thing. Mixed emotions. Gonna miss everyone a lot but I am convinced that this is the path I should take. When you leave your family it's never easy. The detachment that comes from being so far away is something I am certain I'll struggle with. Knowing that I won't be part of the birthday/holiday celebrations sucks. Even more so I won't be able to help when traumatic stuff happens. Everyone here cheering me on helps keep those thoughts buried deep.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Why Teach? & Peace Corps Thoughts

Some of you out there may be wondering why I chose to travel 9000 miles in order to pursue a teaching opportunity?

As I mentioned before, I am a former Peace Corps volunteer. I served in PC in Honduras. I was sent there to build/improve water systems. About 5 months into my time there I was injured. I separated my collar bone from my sternum...a very serious injury. As a result of the accident I wasn't able to do the water system work, it was far too physical. Frustrated by my inability to use my left arm, I decided to come up with work that wouldn't require me to risk further damaging my shoulder/arm. After talking with many folks in my village I decided to start some English classes.

I spent about a two weeks developing a curriculum and speaking with other volunteers who had experience teaching. I posted several fliers around town and about 15 people showed up eager to learn. The classes were a little rough at first, but as time went on they began to flow. I felt very comfortable and the community was quickly warming up to me.

I really hoped that the doctors in Honduras would be able to handle my condition...unfortunately they were pretty clueless. Three orthopedic surgeons in Honduras were unable to properly diagnose/treat the injury. Approximately 3 months into the classes I was finally pulled out of my site by Peace Corps and sent to Washington D.C. so the American doctors could check me out. It took just one appointment in D.C. to determine that my injury was much more severe than the docs had thought in Honduras. Peace Corps HQ in D.C. decided it was a bad idea to send me back to Honduras and that, sadly, ended my life in Peace Corps. Their justification for terminating my service was I could easily aggravate the trauma and the insurance risk was too high...sigh.

The English classes were an unwitting victim of my termination. I was really in a groove in my makeshift classroom. My desire to get back to that situation is one of the driving forces in my push to teach again. Taiwan is an excellent place to attempt to regain that groove.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mending Fences

I am building a fence today at my mom's house. These past few months I've been trying to get some things done at my mom's place. It's been a learning experience. Accomplishing things that I thought we beyond my abilities. I hope it's making mom happy and perhaps making it easier to sell the house in the future.

Just found out that we're going to be having lots of company in the near future. My sister Shelley and her kids are coming in about 2 weeks. Shelley is always fun to hang with and her kids are growing so fast. Rachel, her oldest, has always had an artistic streak in her, much like her father. Robbie is his mothers little boy, very caring. He seems to be very dedicated to mastering the piano...very exciting. The visit promises to be action-packed. Jeannie & Barry Zapol are coming into town at about the same time. They are family friends from waaaaaaay I believe their friendship pre-dates my existence. It'll be great to see them. They moved to Colorado and we haven't seen them in about 10 years or more. I foresee hours of catching up in the near future.

Tried to do some preliminary packing last night...ugh. It never goes as well as you think it will. Not terribly stressed out yet. I've gotta narrow down the wardrobe. I've already minimized the non-clothes junk, time to buckle down and let some of those t-shirts go...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Visa & Loralee

I got my visa yesterday. I can now enter the Republic of China anytime in the next year. For those of you who wondering, Taiwan is still officially part of China. It's a big mess and I'm not really sure what it all means. Taiwan is a much more progressive place than mainland China.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to have lunch with one of my good friends who was with me in Honduras. She came home for a few weeks to visit family & friends. Loralee has an infectious attitude/smile. You can't help but enjoy spending time with her. Visiting with her brought back many wonderful memories. I really miss being part of that great group down there. Lately I have been getting some encouraging emails from several folks in the group intimating that they might be interested in visiting me once they finish up in Honduras...that would be awesome.

I need to start thinking about packing for the move. This is going to be kinda tricky. When I packed for Honduras I felt like I had to take EVERYTHING because of the lack of resources there. That wasn't totally off-base. I think I may have gone a bit overboard but everything turned out fine. This trip is very different. Life in Taiwan, as far as availability of day-to-day resources is concerned, is light-years ahead of Honduras. For some crazy reason I am still a bit stressed out about packing effectively. Thus far my essentials include clothes, shoes, music, movies, and some teaching essentials.

For anyone interested in teaching in Taiwan, here are a few excellent sites:

These sites have helped me a ton.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Operation TESL


My name is David and I am about to embark on "operation tesl". In about a month I am moving to Taiwan to begin a career teaching English as a second language.

A horrible job market in the U.S. and a desire to travel have inspired me to make this move. I decided to move to Taiwan because of the huge demand for Americans, the excellent pay scale when compared to other countries, and the killer travel opportunities in the region.

The great number of Americans and Canadians currently living/working in Taiwan was a huge factor in deciding where to go. As many of you know, I am a former Peace Corps volunteer. Integrating into Honduran culture was a great challenge. Even with the excellent support system set up within Peace Corps, it was no picnic. I am anticipating an even tougher road in Taiwan. My thinking is surrounding myself with lots of other folks in the same boat as me will surely make things easier. Knowing that people going through the same stuff as me are just a stones throw away is comforting.

Taiwan is generally considered the gateway to the Orient. Its proximity to so many fascinating countries made my decision to go there much simpler. I am excited at the opportunity to check out such places as Tokyo, Bangkok, and Manila. These are just a few off the top of my head. There are many, many more. It is remarkably inexpensive to travel within the region.

As I said above, my departure is about a month away (August 20th, to be exact). STAY TUNED, this should be fun.