Friday, January 22, 2016


Hello fellow travelers. 

Today is the first day of my winter break - 3 weeks of blissful, work-free sloth. Going to head off to California on Monday to see my sister and then my mom.  I'm looking forward to stuffing my face with real Mexican food and other western goodies I can't find here in Taiwan.  Then, of course, there is the grocery store/Walmart experience, which is always a highlight.  As many of my expat friends know, there's nothing quite so over-whelming as walking into an American supermarket after being abroad for a few years. Most of the time, I simply wander the aisles slavering over the sheer variety of stuff available.  Favorite places in the store: the deli and the cereal aisle!

Anyway, it'll be a good trip.  I'm planning on renting a car this time and driving from San Francisco to my mom's house in Crescent City.  I haven't done a good road trip in years, and I'm looking forward to the drive.  It's been a long time since I've had a car. I got a small taste of driving when Ian and I were in Guam, and I've been thinking about it a lot since. The only thing I hope for is that the rental car has a way for me to plug in my iPod.  No way do I want to drive that far listening only to the radio - shiver!

The How-low-can-you-go Limbo

Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump. Rumors of a Trump/Palin ticket circulate.  It's the end of the world.

Feelin' The Bern!

I admit it. I am very skeptical of Bernie Sanders' chances at pulling off a victory in the upcoming election, but I am attracted to much of what he has to say. There is a problem with some of the math when it comes to how he is going to fund many of his domestic proposals, especially with a Congress that is guaranteed to be hostile to most everything he wants to do. That said, if all the people who say they want to vote for Sanders actually vote for him, he may have a fighting chance.

New Music

Psychedelic Stoner goodness from Australia:  Hobo Magic


Friday, January 1, 2016

Mellowing in the New Year

Partying like I'm Wilford Brimley

The year has come in with a whisper. Rebecca and I spent a pleasant evening soaking in a hot spring. We got home just in time to watch the New Years Eve count down, and then we went to bed.  I didn't mind in the least. It would seem that the Road Warrior years have finally come to an end.

Resolutions have been made.  The perennial favorites - lose weight and get better organized - made the list of course. Getting back in the pool is one that needs to happen.  I was very busy this semester and got behind, which made me feel that I didn't have the time to swim (I can only use the school pool at lunch time, which I used to try and catch up...unsuccessfully I might add).  I actually miss it quite a bit, so that is, of the three, the most likely to happen. I may try to get some yoga or something done in the evening with Rebecca, but it's hard.  We both have brutal commutes to and from work, so it's really hard to find the energy after two hours on one bus or another.  Half the time it's difficult even to decide what to have for dinner.

The getting organized thing is going to be a struggle as it has been my entire life. I find that I get  distra...SQUIRREL!!

Umm...Where was I? Oh yeah.  Getting organized.  I asked Rebecca to find me a desk calendar, the big kind that lay on the desk.  It may help if I can write things down and have them staring me in the face every day.  The little organizer books are useless to me. I write stuff in them and then leave the damn thing at home or lose it. I think the last time I moved, I threw away five or six datebooks with entries on the first page and then...nothing. Why don't you use your phone or get a tablet, you may ask.  For that, well...Oooh look!  Facebook!

Ahem...Uh...yeah...Getting organized...ahem.  Anyway, you get the picture.  Nuff sed.

Learning that Niceness Never Pays (or the Blind Leading the Stupid) 

One of my 10th grade Lit students learned a tough lesson this past week. Over the course on the 2nd term, all the students have had to write essays on the stories we've been reading.  My student, who I will call Fric, is  a good kid and very diligent.  He always has his assignments done on time and has a generally good attitude in class.  His friend, whom I'll call Frac, asked Fric if he could look at his (Fric's) essays to get an idea of what to write about.  As it turns out, Frac is an idiot. Frac took Fric's essays (three in total) and handed them in to his teacher, Mrs. Wu, as his own work. Now, none of this would have come to light had not Frac, in a moment of pure, unadulterated stupidity, handed in the last essay of the term without changing the names on the essay. In other words, Frac handed in an essay that had Fric's name still on it.  Frac had not changed a single, solitary thing.  To make matters worse, Frac, when confronted with this issue, was unconcerned and attitudinal.

All this happened last Tuesday.  I wasn't going to see Fric again until after the long weekend, so I figured I should talk to him and tell him about the mountain that was about to fall on his head.  I asked one of Fric's classmates that, if he saw Fric, to have him come see me .  Fric shows up in my classroom, and I asked him straight out if he new the trouble he was in. Fric was quite surprised by this, so I explained the situation. As it turns out, not only had Frac told Mrs. WU that Fric had given him the essays, but had not decided to tell his "friend" that he'd been busted. Plagiarism and cheating are taken very seriously at Kang Chiao, and the person who aides and abets the cheater is considered equally guilty.  Poor Fric had been thrown under the bus by his buddy without a second thought. 

I am going to go to bat for Fric, because a) I think he really did think his friend was just going to look over his papers, b) the thought of having his parents called into school and getting a 0 on all his papers practically brought this kid to tears (in my experience in 17 years teaching in Asia, these kids are notoriously bad liars, and I believe Fric's anxiety in this case was not feigned), and c) Fric's a good kid learning a tough lesson. I'm not saying Fric shouldn't be punished, he should be, but i would like to soften the blow at least a little.

New Music

Here is a nice little Psychedelic Blues Rock band from Oklahoma City that I recently discovered: Them Hounds

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I read the news today. sigh.

I am Christian, Muslim, Jewish. I am ALL religion, and I HATE you! You should DIE because you don't genuflect before my idea of God. You should DIE because my moral code is superior to yours!

I am a Patriot, and I HATE you! You should DIE because you don't love and worship my country as much as I do. You should DIE because you come to my country and do not act as I think you should.

I am white, black, brown, and yellow, and I HATE you! You should DIE because you are DIFFERENT than me and that FRIGHTENS me!

I am a Politician, and I HATE you! You should DIE because you do not believe in the utopia my corporate overlords wish for you!

I am HUMAN!  Hear me HATE!

By Motorhead

I am the one, Orgasmatron, the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore

I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit
I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet
I rob you and I slaughter you, your downfall is my gain
And still you play the sycophant and revel in my pain
And all my promises are lies, all my love is hate
I am the politician and I decide your fate

I march before a martyred world, an army for the fight
I speak of great heroic days, of victory and might
I hold a banner drenched in blood, I urge you to be brave
I lead you to your destiny, I lead you to your grave
Your bones will build my palace, your eyes will stud my crown
For I am Mars, the God of war and I will cut you down

Friday, November 27, 2015

Wow! Wasn't sure this thing was still here.

Well hello,

I have decided to shovel the dust off the old blog and see if I can't find some inspiration. It's been over a year since I last posted.  Things are going quite well.  I have a good job.  Rebecca and I are getting along swimmingly, and the weather finally got cool enough, so I'm not sweating my butt off every time I breathe. Can't complain at all.

I'm going to kick off the renewal with a tale of dreams.

For the past 10 years or so, I have had this recurring nightmare that involves mostly unseen evil of a powerful nature, and more often than not wakes me up with a shout and gasping for breath.  There was a particularly dark point when I was in Korea, where I literally thought I might be going insane. I would wake up not knowing whether what happened in the dream was real or not. There was a slip in reality that frightened me quite badly.

The source of the evil in the dreams was a children's book which always reminded me of Eric Carle's, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Most of the time, I could never get near the book because the evil emanating from it was too powerful. Over the years, I was able to touch the book about four of five times and able to open it twice. The first time I got to open the book - you have to understand that, in the dream, this was a monstrous struggle - I saw the number 2, and on the second time, there was the number 7.  I have no idea what it means other than this nightmare has been with me for a long, long time, and the struggle is difficult and terrifying every time.

Last night, the dream returned. This time was different because the details are much sharper than they have been in the past.  Whereas before, I could never quite tell where I was, this time I was very distinctly in a classroom in a fairly large school building. The book was on a lone desk in the middle of the class. I was actually able to walk right up to the book, and everything was kosher until I opened it. When I lifted the cover, a violent blast of energy threw me back across the room. I got up, and struggled forward to the book as if I was leaning into a full force gale. I pushed and pushed forward.  I finally made it to the desk.  The book was opened to the page with the 2 on it. Holding onto the desk for dear life, I was able to reach up and tear the page out of the book.  There was a great whoosh as the room expanded outward, stretching like a room in a cartoon and then snapping back into place.  The classroom had transformed into a gymnasium with folded up bleachers and twin sets of red, pad-locked, double-doors.  There was a great crash at the doors as two maniacal janitor figures tried to break into the gym.  As they snarled and pushed and stretched through the doors, things got sketchy and I woke up.

I have no idea what happened to the book or the page that I was able to tear out.  But I do know that when I woke up, I felt as if some corner has been turned in my subconscious.  I'm not sure the war is over, but a battle has been won.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Traveling, Typhoons, and other mundane reasons for living!

Howdy folks.  It's been a while since I traveled the dusty halls of blog land. Things are...well...things.  The exciting/terrifying/eagerly anticipated (which may be the same thing as exciting, but what the hell) thing that is going on, is that on Friday, I will start my new job. I will not start teaching on Friday because these folks are very serious.  I will start a month long orientation to prepare me to teach for Kang Chiao International School.  This, my friends, is a real job.  I haven't had one of these in a long time.  Now, while I am looking forward to the challenge, I am also thinking to myself, "Holy crap! I'm actually going to have to do some work!"  Talley Ho! and what not!

Last week, Rebecca and I joined her co-workers on a company sponsored trip to the eastern coast Taiwan cities of Hualien and Taitung. There were about 40 odd folks on the trip from the two branches of Rebecca's company including employees and their families or friends. Now, I've never actually been on one of these scripted tours where you are at the mercy of the schedule, which led to my being a tad grumpy the first day because things were moving faster than I would have preferred.  Rebecca however, put and end to that by telling me to suck it up and go with the flow. Me, being the dutiful husband...cough...gasp...did what I was told and ended up having a good time over all.  I knew I loved that woman for some reason.  Anyway, we toured part of Toroko National Park that Rebecca and I hadn't been to before (see previous post). The Baiyang Waterfall Trail is a winding trail through a deep gorge marked by a number of tunnels blasted through the cliffs that ultimately leads to an underground waterfall that you can stand if you wish.  I wasn't so interested in the waterfall, but there were a number of places where the water in the river at the bottom of the gorge pooled in such an inviting way that I really wanted to go in. Unfortunately, sheer drops of 50-100 or more feet generally discouraged this. It's beautiful country regardless, and if you ever travel to Taiwan, it is well worth the visit.

The next day, we headed off to a clam museum. I opted to wander around outside since the whole thing was in Chinese, and I really don't like clams that much. One of the things that you could do, was jump in a pond and dig for clams. Once you got the clams, then you could bring them to the little restaurant area, where they would cook 'em up for you and you could have a feast.  Fortunately for me, many of Rebecca's co-workers are beer drinkers, so while they ate their clams, I got to drink beer. This is always a good thing. After the clam thing, we all got on the bus, and the tour guide broke out the karaoke machine. Now, I was not aware of this (although the clues have been there now that I think about it), but my wife is a karaoke queen. She even has a pretty decent voice.  The bottom line is, Rebecca LOVES karaoke (we were on a Noraebus, for my Korean friends, lol). I did my duty and sang a couple of songs, but the fact that it was the middle of the day, and I wasn't blind drunk, my singing voice was not at it's best. We finally arrived at the hotel - all the hotels were very nice - but this one was kind of like Disneyland.  It had a swimming pool, a bar, game rooms with billiards and table tennis among other things, and live music (I often want to ask the guys that play in these hotel cover bands what they do for "real" music, but a gig is a gig I suppose. After going for a swim in the pool, Rebecca and I met some of her co-workers and proceeded to down three cases of beer in one of the rooms. Now Rebecca is not what you would call a drinker by any means, and in truth, she does not approve of my predilection for the the sweet, delectable, barley and hops beverage.  However, she is a good sport and only gave me a couple of sideways glances.

Too be continued (with photos)...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What happened America?

I don't understand my country anymore.  A country built by immigrants that now hates immigrants.  A country that claims to respect the individual freedoms of all its citizens but truly only respects the rights of those citizens who can pay for them.  A country that believes in liberty, freedom of speech and freedom of religion but only as long as it is the RIGHT kind of speech or the RIGHT kind of religion. A country that spends trillions of dollars to send young men and women to fight and die in stupid, useless wars yet can't find the cash to properly care for those young men and women when they come home crippled and maimed.  A country that says, "Hey. You're poor? FUCK you!  A country built on compromise and intellectual ideas that now seems to believe that compromise is a dirty word and that ideas and intelligence are some sort of cancer. A country that will will get all gussied up this coming weekend to celebrate the independence of a nation that no longer knows who or what it is.

That makes me sad.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Morning

Well, it's a lazy Sunday morning.  I'm having my coffee, watching baseball, and doing some laundry. The real decision to be made is whether to start studying for the Chinese test I have tomorrow or take a nap ... zzzzzzzzzzzz ...