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.