Friday, December 19, 2008

Let The Sunshine In

This is an outstanding video podcast of my favorite singer, Mike Doughty. He, along with his band, is playing live in/at a radio station. The first and the last songs are particularly enjoyable. Please take a few minutes and watch it, it's good stuff.

p.s. I do intend to get back to regular blogging in the near future...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hell YES!

The Kids Have Spoken!

I couldn't resist doing this in class yesterday. My kindergarten class got into the spirit of the election. They did a terrific job.

From left to right: Claire, Jason, Benson (seated), Monica, Me, Stella, Wanda. These kids are a incredible. They inspire me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Vet Who Didn't Vet

This is seriously funny, kinda sad, but funny nonetheless.

What a tragic chapter in the history of the U.S.

Sarah Palin is going to disappear from the radar in the next few days. I am willing to bet that she'll have a difficult time holding on to her governorship in 2010.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My Electoral Prediction

Here is the way I see the electoral college going on Tuesday. My beloved home state, Ohio, has lots of kooks in the southern part of the state so it's gonna be close. Cleveland and the surrounding areas are Obama country, not so much Cinci.


>2008 Election Contest: Pick Your President - Predict the winner of the 2008 presidential election.

Popular vote: Obama 51% McCain 46% Other 3%

FL & PA will go to Barack. This will mean the election should be called rather early in the evening. I would love to see IN, MO and GA go blue, but NC will suffice. A blue NC will make Jesse Helms roll over in his grave...good stuff.

I am closely watching the Franken/Coleman race in MN. I would love to see Al in the Senate.

Other projections:
Post-election Senate make-up: 58 Dems, 40 Reps, 2 Others
Post-election House make-up: 256 Dems, 179 Reps

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bushman's Blogtoberfest!

Last Saturday was the second installment of M.J.'s blogger get-together. It's always fun to see the authors of my favorite blogs in the flesh. Catherine and I are honored to be included in the group. M.J. (The New Hampshire Bushman), is the guy who put it all together and the party was a hit!

Had to start out the photo run with Michael and Catherine. We both enjoy spending time with Michael. He is a very cool guy and encourage all of you to check out his outstanding blog, The View from Taiwan.

Andres, purveyor of Andres in Taiwan, and his wife thankfully brought along Olivia. She is so adorable. Catherine had fun entertaining the little cutie.

The food at the party was awesome! We are hoping to make a trip back down to Hukou for some killer Thai food...I will be calling soon M.J.!

Catherine and Carrie, the architect of My Several Worlds, chatting and noshing. Carrie and her fiance' John have been great friends of ours since their arrival here in Taiwan. Cath & I value their friendship and we wish them lots of luck with their upcoming trip home to get married. Click over to Carrie's site for details, it's crazy!

We were treated to some serious singing courtesy of Carrie and M.J.. Sitting towards the rear end of the table is Todd, scribe of The Daily Bubble Tea, and his soon-to-be wife, Cathy. We had the pleasure of riding the train back to Taipei with them. They are a cute couple. Their wedding day is quickly approaching. Check out Todd's blog for some stunning photos.

The man with the plan. M.J. pulled off another great shindig. Thanks pal.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Afternoon in Sijhih

I'm back...I love this blogging stuff, just been uninspired lately. Catherine & I have decided to get back into the day-trip mode. We are going to make a concerted effort to make Sundays our day to explore. The weather has been just about perfect lately and we are ready to take advantage of it.

Here we go...

One of Catherine's co-workers suggested that we check out a place called Sijhih, it's about 30 minutes outside Taipei City. Her co-worker is a member of hiking club and highly recommended the mountain trails just outside of the city. We set off at about 1p.m., anticipating a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

We stepped off the train and Catherine went to work trying to figure out how and where to catch the proper bus to take us to the hiking/temple area.

Sadly, the bus driver told us that we were too late in the day to take on the serious trails but he would take us to the temple area. This is the starting point of most of the trails. We could mosey around the area and enjoy the scenery. It would have to suffice since we got such a late start.

Outside the temple the kids had these nifty little motor-driven animal thingies.

Not one of the prettier temples I have seen. The color scheme was a tad bit frenetic for my tastes. A bizarre mix of staid statuesque figures and finger paintings.

Preparing to make a climb up to another temple. Cath looks as cute as a bug, as usual. What's the deal with my hair?

Pondering our next move...

My attempt to be creative. Didn't nail it, but it's kinda cool. If you look closely, you can see Catherine in the mirror.

Overlooking the city. A hazy day makes for some not-so-sexy photos.

The temple area was interesting but kinda boring. We high-tailed it out of there. On our way back to the train station we came across a nice little market.

This is Catherine's territory. She loves haggling with the vendors for her coveted vegetables. It's fun to watch her wheel and deal.

This little girl was mesmerized by the fish heads. She stood there for several minutes anticipating something...not sure if she expected them to talk or perhaps sing and dance?

What a cute little kid! His mom and dad were furiously prepping and selling while he surveyed the scene.

Couldn't resist snapping a shot of these little fellers...Yuck!

We had an enjoyable afternoon. It would've been more fun if we had hit the trails, but there's plenty of time for that in the next few months!

Next week, we are heading down to Hsinchu for the annual Blogger party. I am certain it will be a good time for all. Check back soon for all the gory details...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Teacher's Day Goodies

Today is Teacher's Day here in Taiwan. Yes, there is an official holiday to honor teachers and it's a wonderful gesture.

It was established in 1939 and coincides with the birthday of Confucius. Here is a excerpt on the topic from Wikipedia:

"The day honors teachers' virtues, pains, and also their contribution not only to their own students but also to the whole society. People often make use of the day to express their gratitude to their teachers, such as paying them a visit or sending them a card. This date was chosen to commemorate the birth of Confucius, believed to be the model master educator in ancient China."

My students & employer went above and beyond the call of duty this year. I received tons and tons of chocolate goodness from several of my students and a really cool thumb drive for my computer from the boss lady. The thumb drive, or USB drive, has my name on it...I like it!

It's always great to get stuff from the kids, it makes me feel like a million bucks. I love my job so the gifts are icing on the cake.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This Says It All

Wake up America! Palin is NOT the answer.

p.s. Eerie how much Tina Fey looks like Palin, eh?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cats, Dogs & Buckets

Rain, rain & more rain. We're coming to the end of the third day of non-stop rain. Last I heard we had over 10 inches on Saturday...crazy stuff. This is a brought to us by Typhoon Sinlaku, a nasty storm that has managed to sit off the coast of Taiwan and thoroughly drench Taipei.

Sinlaku has not been all that bad. The winds have not been too ferocious. I expected lots more.

The government here is seriously skittish about typhoons. As a result, we have enjoyed a three-day weekend. If there is a decent chance we could be in the path of the storm, they cancel all schools and complaints here!

You'd think I would have taken advantage of these past few days of no responsibilities...not so Catherine and I have managed to be as unproductive as is humanly possible. We have watched tons of TV and had our fair share of naps. I did manage to get some work done for my adult class, but I haven't been too motivated. I think I needed this time to decompress. The past 6 weeks at work have been grueling.

It's still coming down. I am gonna have to swim to work tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

3 Years and Counting

I have been crazy busy with work this past month so my social life has been M.I.A.. Therefore, blogging seemed silly since I doubt any of you out there care to hear about my struggles at work.

Catherine and I have a few excursions planned in the near future. Perhaps they will be blog-worthy? Not sure yet, but I will do my best to get back in the swing of this.

A few weeks back, I reached the three year mark of my time here in Taiwan. The time has really gone by so quickly. I am planning on writing some posts about my impressions of life in Taiwan, 3 years in.

We're going to Taichung this weekend so I hope to take lots of photos and fill you in on the details. Time to dust of the camera!

Catherine and I are working on all the marriage stuff, too. It's super confusing and I haven't had enough time to work on it lately. That's gonna change soon.

Also, I foresee some ranting about the US presidential election in the near future. I fear that the American public is getting hoodwinked by the republicans, again! That's just not acceptable.

Thanks for continuing to check out my silliness and please stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And the Nomination Goes to:

Mayor Quimby!

The actions of John McCain in the past few days have left me dumbstruck. I have been genuinely trying to see the logic behind his nomination of Sarah Palin for the ain't there!

This all comes down to a total lack of respect for the process and the American people. How can you put someone a heartbeat (a 72 year old heartbeat that has been diagnosed with cancer 4 times) away from the leadership of the 300,000,000 people that is so unqualified???

Mrs. Palin didn't even have a passport until 2007!!!!! All the stuff regarding her family and ties to the "bridge to nowhere" are intriguing, this is downright frightening!

The possible Vice President of the United States has traveled abroad less than I have...scary stuff people.

I fear that we are getting fed the "average American that you'd want to have a beer with" crap again; much like we were in the early days of the dumbass in the White House.

We are electing a president. I don't want a "normal" person. I want an exceptional person with skills and a temperament suitable to the duties of leading the world.

Bottom line: your stance on abortion should not be the determinant factor when choosing a vice president.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Great News!

A heavy work-load and moving into a new apartment have seriously tapped my energy and desire to blog. I haven't been inspired to take many photos or document my adventures lately. That changed this past weekend.

Catherine got an email from a good friend back home. Attached to the message was a copy of the paperwork verifying her single status. Defying the odds, her friend managed to score the official document from the Burmese government that certifies she is eligible to marry here in Taiwan. The biggest hurdle to our future together is behind us...phew!!

The arrival of the paperwork has inspired Catherine to start thinking about the details of our wedding. We have already had a few less-than-fun discussions about wedding photos. The whole thing is a racket as far as I am concerned, but she is pretty excited about it. My mother told me many years ago that a wedding is the woman's day and don't question her decisions or motives if you want to have any peace...excellent advice. I am sure we will come to some sort of compromise,

Since we don't plan on having a reception/party, the honeymoon is what we are going to concentrate on. We need to come up with a really cool trip that isn't going to cost a fortune. Any ideas out there? I would appreciate any recommendations you folks might have for a romantic getaway on a budget.

Wish us luck with the remaining details/hurdles and stay tuned for updates on our progress.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Apartment

Working a lot and moving these past few weeks. These are the reasons why I haven't posted recently. I plan on putting up some pics of my new place and filling you in on the details soon. Not much else going on to speak of.

Will get back into this blogging thing this week, I promise!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Eddy's Cantina...Dining Heaven!

Saturday afternoon, Catherine & I headed up to Danshui to check out the much talked about new Mexican restaurant, Eddy's Cantina. Ed & Jo, the married couple that run the place, greeted us with smiles and were very friendly. They opened the restaurant about a week ago, so it was fun to talk about how it all took place. Jo explained that they managed to do pretty much everything themselves. By the look on her face I could tell it was hard work. It looks great. The atmosphere is pleasing and inviting.

The only thing that impressed me more than their hospitality was the quality of the food. The chicken burritos and quesadillas exceeded my expectations. I like to think that I know Mexican/Latin American food pretty well because of my time living in Honduras. Since returning from Honduras, I have found very few places that can compete with the stuff I ate while living down there, Eddy's is one of them.

I found myself, on more than one occasion, calling Ed over to our table to compliment him on the consistency/authenticity of what I was eating.
*The tortillas, which are hand-rolled, are spot-on. They seem to melt in your mouth.
*The chicken & rice mixture in the burrito defies description, especially when you splash it with sour cream and guacamole.
*The beans in the quesadilla had that earthy taste that I enjoyed while living in Central America.
*The tea and horchata complemented the meal.

I know I am gushing! It's just so great to find food of this caliber in Taipei. I can honestly say that this meal may be the best dining experience I have had in the 3 years I have lived here. Click here, or on the above images to visit their site.

Since it's about an hour away from my apartment, I plan on taking advantage of their delivery service. You can email the restaurant and they will deliver the food to your door for a nominal fee courtesy of 7/11. It comes to you frozen...just nuke in the microwave and enjoy. What a cool service for those of us on the south-side of Taipei.

Here are some snapshots from our visit:

The entrance. Finding the place is pretty simple. Exit the Danshui MRT and head left towards Jhongshan Rd. Walk up the hill for about 10 or 12 minutes and look for it on the right. You know you are close when you see a covered bridge.

Jo & Ed Gonzalez, the owners. They are working hard to keep it authentic. Ed spoke to me about doing his best to recreate the tastes he grew up with...I think they are off to a great start!

Taking a break from stuffing my face. In the foreground is the quesadilla. The cheese and beans were mouth-watering good.

About halfway through the burrito. Catherine ate a few chips, but I couldn't be bothered. The main dishes were all I was interested in.

The horchata (the drink on the right) was interesting. It is similar to a semilla de jicaro, a rice-based drink I tried while in Honduras. Eddy's concoction blended milk, rice and cinnamon. Catherine wasn't crazy about it, but I thought it was tasty.

In a nutshell, Eddy's Cantina es un restaurante fantástico!

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Bleak Outlook for College Grads in Taiwan

I came across an article a few weeks back that shocked me. I had no idea that pay-rates for college grads were so low.

Here is a link to the article in the China Post:
Pay for college graduate first job seekers drops

The figures in the article seem awfully low.

NT$26,000 a month for college grads, master's degrees about $31,000??? Wow, that seems crazy low. Average pay has dropped over 5% in the past year. The $26000 figure works out to be about US$5/hour for a forty-hour work week. I know that the cost of living in Taiwan is considerably lower than in the U.S., but this is ridiculous.

The report also states that unemployment among college grads is at an all-time high, 4.5%.

How can anyone with even a tenuous grasp on economics be satisfied with such a pittance?

Is the fear of unemployment so potent that young people will work for poverty-level wages?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Summer Staple

If it's summer and the sun is shining, then the tea is brewing. Sun tea is one of my favorite summertime must-haves. My mom seemingly always had a jar on the window sill soaking in the sun.

A month or two ago, I bought a 3 liter glass jar and a box of Lipton tea bags and decided to start brewing my own version of the caffeine-soaked goodness. It's been great. Catherine and I have enjoyed drinking the brew sans sugar and lemon. Just the natural tea without all the crap the store bought teas add. Here is a pic of the nearly finished product:

It's simple to make and mighty tasty! Just fill the glass jar with water (it must be glass because plastic makes it taste funny and doesn't do well in the sun), drop in 7 tea bags, sit it in the sun for about 3 hours and let nature do it's thing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin

One of the funniest comedians EVER died today. Carlin died of heart failure at a hospital in L.A., he was 71 years old.

I saw him perform in Las Vegas many years ago. He was freaking hysterical.

I will miss his acerbic wit.

Some of my favorites lines:

*Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
*If God dropped acid, would he see people?
*Whose cruel idea was it for the word “Lisp” to have a “S” in it?
*You have to stay in shape. My mother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now and we have no idea where she is.

Anyone else out there got any favorites from George?

McCain is in Trouble...

The new USA Today/Gallup poll has some revealing numbers. It's virtually a clean sweep for Obama. If the polls continue to swing towards Obama, this race could get seriously ugly. The Republican party has a long history of playing dirty pool and this game has just begun.

Here is the link to the entire article: USA Today


Percentage of respondents who view presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama favorably and unfavorably:


What respondents say would be the effect of Obama being black make on his effectiveness as president:

Make him more effective9%
Make no difference82%
Make him less effective8%

What respondents say would be the effect of McCain's age would make on his effectiveness as president:

Make him more effective11%
Make no difference65%
Make him less effective23%

What respondents say about the political views of McCain and Obama:

Too conservative40%9%
About right37%43%
Too liberal15%40%
No opinion8%8%

Which of the following characteristics and qualities respondents say apply more to Obama or more to McCain:

Understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives54%29%
Cares about the needs of people like you52%30%
Is independent in his thoughts and actions52%36%
Would stand up to special interests, including those aligned with his party48%34%
Would work well with both parties to get things done in Washington48%35%
Shares your values47%39%
Can manage the government effectively42%42%
Has a clear plan for solving the country's problems41%31%
Is a strong and decisive leader40%46%
Is honest and trustworthy39%35%