Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On My Way

I will be boarding the plane to the U.S. in about 6 hours. I am currently going a little crazy trying to make sure I have packed everything I need and am ready to go.

I plan on posting about my adventures while back home. I will do my best to chronicle my trip.

L.A., Las Vegas, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, here I come....lol.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

City Shots

Some photos I took recently while out and about in the city. The first 3 are from a political rally that took place near Catherine's work. The past few weeks there has been a constant stream of marches through the streets. I think it's great how involved the citizenry seems to be.

The following shots were taken while waiting for the subway. I think the second one illustrates the congestion in this city...it's overwhelming at times.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gazing Out My Window

This is part of the collection of photos I plan on taking home to show my family and friends. These are shots out the window of my office.

You can see the top of Taipei 101 on the left side of this one. It was the tallest building in the world until a few months ago.

This is the intersection of Jhongxiao East Rd. and Dunhua South Rd. A busy spot in the heart of the city.

I really enjoy working here because I am a stones throw from everything.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Snooping on My Students

I have never been a big fan of posed photos. I prefer to catch folks as they truly are, not mugging for the camera. The following are secretly shot pics of my students taken through the peephole in the door of their classroom. I think they capture the kids at their best.

Notice the opening in the door...

I think they turned out pretty cool. I know the students will spaz when they find out I took these without their permission. Oh well, I like 'em.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hello Motos

I snapped these on our way to do some shopping at a local electronics market. We were crossing a bridge over one of the main streets near Taipei Main Station. This is a pretty typical scene on the streets here.
Motorcycles/scooters are the preferred form of transport in this densely populated city. I think this is a cool shot. The red light was directly below me.

Taiwan has the highest percentage of moto/scooter ownership in the world.

I slid over to the other side of the bridge to catch the same group of riders speeding off.

It looks a bit chaotic, but the traffic in this town moves with remarkable efficiency.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Further Political Prognosticating

I never thought I'd say it, but the Clinton's need to exit stage left. This primary cycle is far too costly and very well could turn many excited voters off. I think that Obama has a real chance to turn the U.S. in the right direction. The "he's all rhetoric and not fit to be president" argument coming from Hillary's people is misguided. It's provided a lot of fodder for the republicans.

Mathematically, Hillary can't win the nomination without some trickery. The only way she could manage to pull it off is if she does something that will undermine the existing process. If that happens, the democrats are doomed. If this nomination is seen as tainted, there is little hope for retaking the presidency. Manipulating the scorecard will gut-shot many prospective voters in the general election, thus causing them to stay home.

This primary controversy will be put to bed come the last week of April or first week of May. May 6th is the North Carolina primary. John Edwards, former Senator from NC, will almost surely endorse one of the two in the weeks before the primary in his home state. This endorsement will be the tipping point. He will endorse Obama.

**Fearless Prediction**
Obama/Edwards 2008! I have stated in previous posts that I would have preferred an Edwards/Obama ticket, but this scenario is just fine by me.

Edwards would be an ideal compliment to Obama because he is a southerner, populist, and has excellent name recognition. The south has long been a solid voting block for the republicans. Perhaps Edwards could help minimize the losses down there. He is a champion of the working-class, an area that Obama has struggled with. His popularity is much stronger amongst white-collar voters. Finally, Edwards has done this before and people are familiar with his stances; he is no stranger to the campaign trail.

These two gentlemen are what America and the rest of the world needs.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ex-Pat Essential: Eddie at "Mix & Match"

As a resident of Taipei for about 3 years now, I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on life here. I have tried to assimilate as best I can, but there are still some things from home that I can't do without.

The following is the first installment in a series of posts examining many of the western-style creature comforts here in Taipei that make life a whole lot easier when you are far from home.

A few months after I arrived in Taiwan I went looking for a haircut. I was told that there are tons of places that will cut my hair for about $10-15 American. Sounded good to me so I started asking for referrals for places near where I was living. After a day or two I picked a spot. To make a long story short, the barber never touched a pair of scissors while I was in the chair. He assured me that he knew what western men liked and gave me a cut fit for the Marine Corps! The buzzing of the electric razor drowned out my sobbing...lol You can see photographic evidence here. After talking to many other ex-pats, I discovered that this kind of thing happens far too often in Taiwan.

After that fiasco, I decided that I would start doing a serious search for a good hair salon prior to getting my next cut. I surfed the various sites aimed at ex-pats here in Taiwan and came to the conclusion that The Mix & Match Hair Salon was the joint. I have since visited Eddie, the senior stylist at M & M, several times and have had nothing but great cuts!

Avoid the nightmare of a bad haircut and head over to see Eddie. You can get directions, pricing, etc. from his simple but effective website: www.readyeddiego.com Also, feel free to call him at 0932-322-843. His English is excellent because he worked as a stylist in London, England for about 10 years. His work is impeccable.

The following photos were taken on my last visit: (it was early on a weekday afternoon, so the place was empty...not the norm)

They wash your hair prior to the cut. This part of the process is quite a bit different than anything I have experienced in the U.S. Not only do they give you a thorough washing, it's accompanied by a trance inducing scalp massage!! I would kill to get one on a regular basis!

The main styling area. Again, this was a Tuesday afternoon, not prime-time. It wasn't difficult to get an appointment.

Eddie and your fearless host. OK, it's not difficult to cut my hair, but Eddie always makes it look great. He keeps telling me he wants to give me a new look, but I am a bit skittish.

Standing out in front of the entrance. You can see that the salon is directly across from the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station and the brand-spanking new Sogo Department Store. (It's about 1 minute from Fuxing MRT exit 1)

It's adjacent to the GNC store, notice the signage. Ya take the elevator to the third floor and the scissor magic begins!...lol

p.s. Tell Eddie, David sent you.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hope & The Easter Lilies

Hope, my boss, has been such a breath of fresh air at my office. She has a way of bringing out the best in those around her. One of those folks that leads by example. I truly enjoy working for her because I know that she appreciates my hard work and would go the extra mile for me if need be.

Her commitment and attention to detail are admirable. She has managed to transform what was a dull office space into an attractive, warm environment...thank you Hope!

The following is an example of her efforts. She is constantly adding small touches to our surroundings in order to spruce up the joint.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One for the "Huh?" File

This print was hanging above the urinal in my office. A couple weeks ago, the corner began to come unglued, I took it off the wall to fix it. I proceeded to take it to the lobby and mentioned to the secretaries that the frame was really heavy. They then told me that it was filled with water...hmmm. Yes, the frame is actually a fire safety device. In case of a fire, douse with the closest picture frame!

Notice the plastic-capped hole on the top of the frame. I guess that's where you put the water in.

Sorry for the poor photo quality on this one. This is the emergency tear-off thingy in case of a fire. During an emergency ya just rip the sticker off the back and smother the fire with a magical trickle of water...

One of the most bizarre things I have come across in a long time.