Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Socialized" Medicine is NOT Evil

I woke up yesterday and my left eye itched horribly. I figured something must've got in my eye while I was sleeping. I went to the bathroom and did my best to get it out. I washed it out and rubbed it to no avail. It was driving me crazy. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking that it would go away if I was patient...it didn't.

I went to work moaning and groaning the whole way. After my first class, I decided that I needed to see a doctor. Luckily there is an eye doctor on the 3rd floor of the building I work in. I headed down there and within about 15 minutes I was being examined. Dr. Dennis, the ophthalmologist, thoroughly examined my eye and said that I scratched it in my sleep. He even took the time to sketch out the damage to my eye on a piece of paper. Perhaps I hit the wrong part of the pillow? Not sure. The doc was very thorough and his English was near-perfect. Later in the appointment I found out that he had studied for a while at Duke University...bingo!

He said that I needed to avoid long-term exposure to reading and my computer for the next few days and he also gave me two types of eye-drops; one for dryness and the other to fight any infection. I was very satisfied with the whole process and left there feeling relieved.

A walk in appointment at 7:30 in the evening.
Wait-time of about 15 minutes.
Comprehensive exam.
Two medical assistants to help with the paperwork.
Two separate medications.

How much money did all this cost me?
$4.56 American

Enough said.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bush, Lincoln and Fox News

Is there any doubt that The Fox News Channel is a shill for the Republican party? If there still is any doubt, check this out. Not only are they defending the idiot currently in the Oval Office, the "reporters" at Fox need a history lesson.

I tell you what — he thinks about Lincoln and the tough times that he had during the Civil War. 600,000 dead. The country essentially hated him when he was leaving office. -quote courtesy of thinkprogress.org

Did Lincoln "leave office"? Wasn't there an incident at Ford's Theater that made it a bit difficult for Abe to continue his presidency? He had been re-elected shortly before the assassination.

Watch the following video for confirmation of this mess:

How shockingly stupid and, as the host of the video puts it, embarrassing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Airfare Victory

I knew that if I was persistent I would score a reasonable price for non-stop round-trip tickets to L.A. I have spent the past month or so scanning the various sites and can now claim mission accomplished. Despite the rising fuel costs and the across-the-board fare increases, I managed to get two tickets on Malaysia Air for only NT$45,000 (about $1400 American).

That is substantially less than their competitor's rates. I really wanted to take Singapore Airlines, but they wanted NT$70,000 for the same flight. Actually, the Malaysia Air ticket is better because it gets us into LAX an hour earlier. This is crucial because we have to go through immigration purgatory. The tickets I purchased give us about 3 and a half hours in L.A. before we connect that evening to Vegas. I think that should be enough time to collect our bags and convince the immigration officer that we are not hardened criminals trying to pull a fast one of "the man". I have had miserable experiences at LAX before and that was traveling alone as a U.S. citizen. I gotta be prepared for absolute insanity this time...ugh.

It's time to start putting together an agenda for the trip. We are going for a long time, about 30 days. I plan on taking her to many of the places that are important to me and introducing her to the people that I love. I think it is gonna be great.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Gold

I got two packages in the mail this past week. Both of them were from my Mom and both of them were chock full of Reese's Cups!!

I couldn't have been happier if the packages were stuffed with money...lol. As many of you out there know, I am a chocoholic and Reese's are my favorite form of chocolate delivery. We have many of the same candies here that are available in the States but not Reese's. I have been meaning to write a pointed letter to the Hershey Company about this...lol.

On a more serious note, Mom sent these to me in order to help me quit smoking. The peanut butter cups are meant to take the place of nicotine. It's been a struggle. Mom is a great motivator and I will do my best to conquer the beast.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy 33rd Carrie!

My good friend and coworker, Carrie, is celebrating her birthday this week. Many of you know her from her excellent blog, My Several Worlds. She is a top-notch blogger, teacher and friend. We began teaching together about 18 months ago; her desk was next to mine in the office.

Our teaching styles are very different yet we have managed to learn quite a bit from each other. When you work side-by-side with someone, you get to know them pretty well. Carrie's commitment to her classes is admirable. Her ability to manage her time and maintain an organized game-plan are the work qualities that impress me most. I am sorely lacking in both those areas!...lol. Her kids dig her big time. She has quite a fan base throughout the school. She is also waaaaaaay better than me at managing office politics. Perhaps that is why I am persistently in the dog house with management? Carrie has managed to make it through the countless disagreements with the leadership unscathed...not me!

I am happy that our work relationship has translated into a friendship outside of the office. Catherine and I have had some wonderful times with Carrie and her soon-to-be husband, John. They are good people. This coming year is gonna be a big one for them and I wish them lots of luck.

Congratulations Carrie.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Starting the Visa Process

Today, Catherine and I completed the first step towards getting her a Visitor's Visa to the U.S., the application.

The paperwork itself is pretty simple, just a couple pages. The standard passport info along with her relevant activities while here in Taiwan. They also require a brief explanation of your reasons for wanting to visit the States...nothing terribly perplexing.

We completed the entire application online in about 20 minutes and scheduled an appointment at the consulate immediately after submitting the form.

Ya just can't beat doing this kind of thing electronically. No racing mindlessly around the city to find the office only to wait in line for half a day. A half an hour of clicking and typing was all it took.

The American Institute in Taiwan's website is an easy one to navigate.

Our next step is to pay for the Visa, it's not cheap. Taiwan residents pay NT$4,300(130 U.S.). Catherine is not Taiwanese so she has to pay an additional NT$1,000(33 U.S.) to cover the costs of processing her paperwork and mailing it from Burma/Myanmar. I am going to the post office tomorrow morning to pay. You have to bring the receipt of payment with you to your interview.

Before getting a Visa, you have to have a face-to-face interview with an official at the American Institute in Taiwan. I don't anticipate having any problems in the interview. Perhaps being a Burmese citizen is not ideal? Also, he/she may inquire about our relationship. These are questions that Cath and I will discuss prior to the meeting. If all goes well, we will get a stamp of approval from the officer and eagerly await the arrival of her Visa.

One aspect of this that I find astonishing is the amount of time you have to wait for an interview. We submitted the application today and the earliest date we could set for an interview is February 15!! This is a bit unsettling because her Visa is probably going to take about a month to process. The website states that citizens of countries other than Taiwan should expect 3 or 4 weeks processing time because they have to retrieve some certifications from their home country. Normally the Visa is processed in a matter of a few days. If the Visa takes 4 weeks to process, it will be awfully close to our scheduled departure, March 26th.

Wish us luck!

Monday, January 07, 2008

I Am Legend

Catherine & I went to the movies last night. We headed out to our favorite theater in the Xinyi district of the city. After watching a few trailers on the internet, I Am Legend was an easy choice.

The movie was really good for the most part. Will Smith and Sam the dog were very good, an excellent duo. Smith continues to impress me when he plays dramatic roles. The comedic stuff he does is good but I think he shines when given a more serious role. Sam the dog was lights-out a hit. I couldn't help but want to take him home with me.

The post-apocalyptic New York City setting was artistically stunning. This set the stage for some gripping suspense and anxiety. The director successfully pulls you in with chilling elements of fright and sadness.

My one beef with I Am Legend is the ending. It seemed to wrap up far too quickly. As the credits began to roll, I looked at Catherine and said, "huh?". I couldn't believe that they managed to draw me in so successfully and then conclude the battle in a matter of 15 minutes. Seems to me there were lots of loose elements that could have been explored.

Overall, a fun movie that I highly recommend. I Am Legend is an excellent thrill ride.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Change-Making Numbers

Here is a tally of the votes from the Iowa Caucuses in a way I haven't seen before. These numbers come via The Group News Blog. They added up the total votes, Republican and Democrat, and portrayed it as a head-to-head battle between all candidates from both parties. Granted it's only 356,000 people, but it is an interesting sample of what we may be seeing in the near-future.

Obama 24.5%
Edwards 20.5%
Clinton 19.8%
Huckabee 11.4%

These percentages are of the total vote in Iowa, across party lines. Looks like the first dagger in the heart of the Republican party. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress come November.

My gut tells me it's gonna be an Edwards/Obama White House. I think both these guys are terrific, but not sure Obama has the experience necessary to lead the ticket. These two men would be a welcomed change to the mess we currently have. Hillary is an incredibly strong woman with great leadership qualities, but I think she is too divisive. Her name hearkens back to many of the imaginary scandals of the Bill Clinton years and that just might be enough to cost the progressives this election.