Friday, December 26, 2008


as a child i was confident i could tell the difference between a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
in which the peanut butter and jam had been spread onto opposite sides of the bread and one where they had been spread onto the same side. you see it just doesn't taste as good if you spread them onto the same side.


How do you do it?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Get Ready

The Thundercat Race inspired me to plan my own alleycat.
Get ready for:

Taipei's first epic alleycat. Come join us in March for the "Journey to the West" alleycat. SunYuKong, XuanZang, ZhuBaJie and ShaWuJing must travel from Changan, "The City of Perpetual Peace" to "Vulture Peak" to gather the "Three Collections of Buddhist Scripture" and bring them back to the homeland. All while traveling through deep gorges and tall mountains, all inhabited by flesh-eating demons.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thundercat Race. Taipei's First Alleycat.

Last Saturday I finally got my bike together! Still working on a name, suggestions welcomed.

It was just in time for Taipei's first ever alleycat, the Thundercat Race or 霹靂貓街頭單車賽.

Started in Ximen at a little after 10. I'm pretty sure close to 200 people came. There were some great bikes and some great riders. Oh and a crazy old man came up to me before the race and said "TWO WIFE!" and then walked away. Every minute for the next 15 minutes he would come back and sing something at me and then say "sorry" and walk away.

The checkpoints
National Taiwan University Main Gate
ZHONGXIAO FUXING Sogo Department Store
Xinyi Mitsukoshi Village Chanel Store.

Here's some pictures (most of which I didn't take)

bikes before the race:

Here comes the crazy again... quick look away:


the finish line:

only the finest. the finish line was in front of the Xinyi Mitsukoshi Chanel store:

blue line, the winners route. red line, my route... oops

Time to ride home:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don't worry, I'm fine now.

+ + =

Location#1: Jingmei Night Market
Time: A few weeks ago
Location#2: Cardinal Tien Hospital Emergency Room
Time: A few hours later

The food was damn good.

The food poisoning was bad.

But my Taiwan National Health Insurance got me full emergency room service (Shots, IV, X-Rays and meds) all for about USD $17. Next day I was feeling much better.

Two Dreams

April 28th 2008.

I started working at Mugi Japanese Restaurant again. It had been four years since I’d been into the restaurant. I just walked in and started working like nothing had changed. They are advertising a new sushi roll “fake cream cheese and crab” roll. Many customers ask what the deal was with fake cream cheese.
“it’s a mayonnaise based substitute for those who are sensitive to dairy.”

I go to a table to take some kids’ order and they say “we’d like a few minutes to…”
And motion towards several sticks of incense they’d lit.
“I’m sorry but you can’t burn incense in here.”
“but we always do this before a meal.”
“It will set off the smoke alarms, then the sprinkler system. They’re so sensitive they even go off if we blow out all of the candles at once. We have to do it one at a time.” The kids grumble and put out their incense.

Now I’m playing in a big time soccer game. Red team against blue team. I’m on the blue team. Red team has nice fancy uniforms. We are mix and matched with whatever blue clothing we could find. I am wearing my big blue fuzzy bathrobe, no shirt. We win.

After the game I remember an old black dude in a square top hat and African fusion leisure suit approached to inform me he had won an auction to get a ride home in my classic car.

On the way out they frisk us. I shout, “woo!” when the woman touches my legs and chest.
“do you always wear this robe?”
“it’s comfortable and I can sit on it too.”
I think about how glad I am I didn’t get rid of the robe.

I dream that I wake up, remembering I DID get rid of the robe. I notice blue fuzz on my skin and think “weird…” and wake up for real this time.

December 3rd, 2008.

In a train station bathroom somewhere in Taipei I noticed a group of Japanese, (men and women) packing a couple of babies into a large roller suitcase. The babies didn’t seem to be upset but it still disturbed me. I decided I had a responsibility to say something so I said to them in Japanese そんなことしてひどくない? (isn’t that a little cruel?)

The people said to me “not at all”… it was then that I noticed that the suitcase had a big mesh window-like air vent thing. Similar to that of the roller bag dog carriers I’ve seen… I apologized to the people saying, “hmm, I didn’t notice the vent… interesting thing you’ve go there. I guess It’s pretty convenient…”

Later that morning I was on a bus heading to work, I was on my way to teach a class at the airport, I think. Somehow I accidentally got off the bus way too early. Realizing my mistake waved for the next bus coming down the road… except it was more of a shuttle van. Inside were the Japanese people with the baby suitcases. “oh hi.”

The woman next to me asked me some questions and we discovered we were all going to the airport. I figured that splitting the shuttle ride with 7 people wouldn’t cost much more than bus fare to the airport, and it would get me there a lot faster, which I needed since I mistakenly got off the bus too early.

We stopped to take a break at Taipei station and I got out with one of the women from the shuttle, she was about to ask me a question when someone from my office came running up to me and said “飛機場找你,非常非常得找你” (The airport is looking for you! Really really looking for you!).

“I’m on my way now, and I have plenty of time, what’s the problem?”
“You have western students in your class today, they speak English fluently but they’re just there to participate. It doesn’t matter how you treat them. You can treat them bad if you want. But we just wanted you to know they’d be there…”

and then I woke up.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This is where it's at. Since I arrived in Taiwan I've been overwhelmed by the dominance of French wines. There's plenty of good stuff to choose from... but it's all French. I was excited to find a place with a competitive Spanish selection. Tried a couple and found THIS:

It is damn good. Big and chewy with great dark fruit and just enough earthy tannins to balance the fruit and oak. I want to keep it all for myself so I'm not going to tell you where to buy it in Taipei... But if you live here and want to try it let me know and i'll share a bottle with you. *also available in Tempranillo and Monastrell

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm learning.

This is what's happened in the last month:

Betty's Birthday Party.

You can't take your bird on the bus.

I'm learning.

Still learning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't You Dare Say R.I.P.

Now that we're no longer sending telegrams via Morse Code or carving letters by hand into a granite headstone, I think it's time to drop an old bad habit. When someone moves on, please respect them enough not to abbreviate your final message.

The world's oldest blogger, Olive Riley, passed away on Saturday at 108 and her people decided to save eight letters worth of typing and just say R.I.P. You don't pay for blog space by the letter, but even if you did... would it really be so bad to spend the extra eight letters worth and give the departed the send off they deserve?

Rest In Peace Olive.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Silly Funny Happy Fun Land.

So anyone who's lived in a foreign country knows about the silly funny happy fun things you come across here's a few:

One of the main sources of this funtime are locals who don't get a lot of opportunities to encounter foreigners, so when the time comes they get excited and say every English word/phrase they know... for example...
Today three construction workers 75ft up a rickety scaffolding (without ropes, harnesses or any safety devices) stopped everything to shout "HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?! I LOVE YOU!" all this of course while waving and blowing kisses.

I've seen more Buddhist monks/nuns here than anywhere else I've been. They're all over town; on the metro, driving cars, window shopping at the Mitsukoshi Luxury Mall. My favorite nun-experience though was in my favorite neighborhood vegetarian restaurant... I found myself sitting behind a table of nuns... and then it happened... along came the loudest nun-fart i'd ever heard. Now i know this is the only nun-fart i've ever heard but i'm confident nothing will ever top it.

oh and i came across this billboard paid for the Taiwanese Army's Recruiting Center... I think it explains itself:

good times in fun fun happy sunshine toyland.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sad News.

I've spoken a few times about the great views from our apartment complex. While the view from all of our windows is the neighboring building the view from the balcony is pretty amazing. One of the views we often enjoyed was a man living in a rad but rundown rooftop apartment. He kept pigeons in a large cage on the roof of his rooftop. Most afternoons you could see him climbing out onto the roof to feed the birds. Tonight we heard a loud crash and ran to the balcony to see that his apartment had burst into flames. He stayed on the roof for quite some time throwing buckets of water onto the overwhelming fire while neighbors brought fire extinguishers. Eventually it was too much and everyone retreated. By the time fire department arrived the fire had spread to the lower floors as well as the neighboring buildings. The fire fighters did some very impressive work putting out the fire but the rooftop man's place was gone.

Please raise a glass to Mr. Pigeon tonight, I did.

You can see him on the roof here a few weeks ago.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The roof.

Our building has a shared space on the rooftop. Currently, the other tenants use it for drying laundry, growing two small potted plants and burning "ghost money."

but... look at the views from this place (pictured below), i'm buying a table and chairs and setting up camp

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Taipei seems to be the home of seemingly unforgiving modern structures of glass and stone standing, neighbor to relics of crumbling brick with jungle growing from their heart. In the middle of the city center, at the core of a seemingly unresting commercial neighborhood you can find the shell of a building overwhelmed by vines. I found the remains of a brick building in Jingmei, like a crab's shell on the beach, left behind by growth or death it stands with the branches growing through its broken windows the only life left inside.

also, more ruins from the jungle near Xingfu Amusement Park.

Building in Jingmei:

same building:

Temple ruins:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Xingfu Amusement Park

Yesterday in the jungle near home, came across the ruins of the Xingfu Amusement Park. I knew it was nearby, didn't realize it was this close. There's not much left now, but rumor has it Xingfu was the place to be in the 1980's

Monday, April 28, 2008

high rise living.

our apartment is on the 12th of 18 floors. yesterday morning the temple down below had some kind of festival celebration. it started at 7:00 am with a parade. drums and bells and firecrackers. oh and the electrified chinese violin. a good time was had by all. there were puppet shows and dancers and nobody watching any of it. it lasted all day.

at the top of the world:

our buildings behind mr. temple:


Our second choice for housing: