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%

Saturday, June 21, 2008 Ry Update

About 6 months ago, I opened an account on It's a micro-finance/micro-loan non-profit organization. You can get the details by checking out my original post at:

I was one of the lenders to a woman named Sok Ry in Cambodia. The money was disbursed in November, 2007, and was to be repaid in 18 monthly payments. Well, it looks like she is doing VERY well and has managed to pay off the loan in just 7 months!

As a result, I am going to take part in another loan. I encourage all of you to get involved. It's a wonderful way to give someone the boost that they need to succeed.

Here is a link to the page with the details of the recently completed loan:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Is It A Rug Or Carpet?

Last night, in my adult class, an interesting question was posed. What is the dividing line between a rug and carpet.

I have always believed that a rug is pretty much anything that isn't supposed to be tacked down to the floor. If you can roll it up, it's a rug. One of my students mentioned that he was watching a TV show that used the word carpet to describe what I would call an area rug. The show was produced in England. My conclusion is that British folks have a different definition of rug. In the U.S., it's a rug.

The British nomenclature has zillions of words that differ from those used in America. Perhaps this is just another example?

To sum it up, a rug is able to be rolled up and only covers a portion of the floor. Carpet generally is wall-to-wall and tacked down on its edges.

Help me out people! Am I leading these students in the wrong direction?

p.s. The use of "interesting question" earlier in the post is obviously only applicable in the world of English teaching. I realize that this isn't the Geneva Convention but, in my world, this is big stuff!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Anne's Graduation

Anne, one of the brightest students I have had the privilege to teach, graduated from high school this past week. She is a great kid and I am very proud of her. She attended Yung Ping High School, which is located near the Dingxi MRT station in an area of the city known as Yonghe.

She invited me to her graduation. Although the ceremony took place at 9 a.m., I agreed to come and cheer her on. You see, I usually don't function too well in morning but I knew it would mean a lot to Anne if I showed up. I managed to drag myself out of bed and make it to the MRT station at the time we agreed upon. The plan was to meet Amy, another former student of mine, and we would head over to the big show together. As I have come to learn over my many years, women and schedules just don't jive. Amy was, shall we say, VERY LATE! She climbed out of the bus about 40 minutes late with a cute smile on her face and seemingly endless apologies. I gritted my teeth and we set off.

The following are some of the photos from the school. After leaving the ceremony I walked around the campus and took some pics.

The auditorium was big and dark. Not a great atmosphere for shooting photos from a distance.

It was really difficult to get a tight shot of the action on the stage. My camera just ain't that powerful.

We were sitting miles away from the stage. A typical Taiwanese graduating class, thousands of students. I was happy to attend the ceremony even though I couldn't understand anything because it was entirely in Chinese. You can see that the balcony is virtually empty. This is because it was early on a Friday morning. How can they expect parents to come and enjoy this great moment on a work day?...very odd.

Amy and Anne with a friend in the standard pose mode.

Anne is a super kid. She is really excited about going to college. She is currently learning Japanese because the college program she is in requires it...yikes!

On the playground. Gym class in Taiwan must be awkward because Taiwanese people are certainly the most athletically challenged group on Earth!

Warming up for a performance. I would've snapped a few more but the teacher leading this group gave me a dirty look, so I moved on.

Wandering around and gazing in to the classrooms.

A little closer look at a class in session.

And really close. The teacher in action. About 40 kids in this class. This was a June morning, already getting hot at about 10:00 and no air conditioning. I can't imagine what it's like to sit in a crowded classroom throughout a good bit of the summer with nothing more than a breeze to circulate the air.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dragon Boat Festival 2008

Catherine & I headed over to Dajia Riverside Park for the annual Dragon Boat Festival (端午节). We took the MRT to the Yuanshan station and headed to a part of the city that we have yet to explore. The bus situation was a bit questionable so we jumped in a taxi and NT$100 later, we arrived at the park.

It was overcast and toasty warm early in the day. The photos below are evidence of the gray tones. It took us several minutes to get to the area where the races were taking place, a big park!

On our way to the festivities, we both agreed that we don't check out enough cultural activities in Taiwan and vowed to work to change that.

We had a great time and I hope you enjoy these photos of our day.

Ready to brave the muggy day at the park.

The celebration from a distance.

This is the dragon display at the entrance.

My sweetie pie.

I, reluctantly, posed for several photos. She is so photogenic. I, on the other hand, think photos do little more than accentuate my not-so-encouraging

Off to the races! The boats were pretty far from the shore so good shots were tough to get.

Watching the rowers and seeing how long a race lasts gave me an appreciation for the athleticism of the teams.

Most of the races were closely contested.

A victorious team returning to shore. The TV cameras were busily interviewing many of the participants.

A cool look at the intricacy of the boat design.

The female teams garnered a lot of excitement and attention from the media.

Not sure what belly dancing has to do with dragon boat racing, but they were nice to look at.

Another fun day with Catherine. It turned out to be a rain-soaked afternoon but we managed to see the sights regardless. Next year I plan on getting a better spot on the shoreline in order to capture the boats in action up close...stay tuned!

Goodbye & Good Luck 1424

Last week I had to say adios to class 1424, a group of exceptional kids that I had the privilege to teach for the past year. The class completed the entire program that we offer at my school. This group was great, they were fun each and every class period. I hope they continue to work on their English and have fond memories of their time with Teacher David.

Roger, Jack, Henry, Arthur, Me, Candy, Sandy and Cindy. These young people are destined for greatness.

Cindy's ear-to-ear smile was a constant in the class.

Candy & Sandy. Two very quiet and talented young ladies.

I can't express in words how much I enjoyed leading this class. If I could bottle their spirit and discipline, I would be a rich man.