Sunday December 31st, 2006

I thought it only appropriate to blog on the last day of 2006. I managed to sleep until 10:30 this morning and found myself awakening to the sound of rain. The clouds are starting to clear now ... I am able to see the mountains out my window.

I found myself at C.K.S. Memorial Hall last night as our dance teacher had a performance there. Most of the staff from my school were in attendance. It was a very unique performance.

This morning started with some good friends, french toast, berries, bacon, champagne and orange juice. I have to be ready to go out tonight by about 6:30pm. The night will be full with lots of things, so I hope the rain stays away.

The night's activities will include going to my friend's student's house, heading to long time friend Petey V's ... after that ... who knows. Taipei 101, the tallest standing building in the world for the moment, will be having fireworks at midnight. I was told an estimated 4 million are expected ... ugh.

I hope to have my camera to take some shots of the fireworks and the nonsense surrounding! Should make for interesting scenery if every person were to be holding an umbrella.

I think it's time for an afternoon nap with the kitties ...

I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year's celebration. I suppose my night will be well over before some of you even begin! All the best for 2007!

Friday December 29th, 2006

Last night, I finished watching the first season of LOST. What a great show! I know I am quite behind the rest of the world, but being in Asia without a TV can put one at a disadvantage. The season finale has sucked me in, leaving me with a feeling of wanting to know more. I am going to get season two on the go immediately!

I am glad it's Friday ... after today, I have three whole days off. With Tuesday being a two hour work day, it's kind of like a mini holiday. Not sure what I'll do to bring in the New Year as of yet ... I always find the night to be highly overrated.

My Chinese class this morning went not so well. After a very restless sleep, 630 came awfully early. We started chapter 15 today and I recall that this is the point where I started to feel a bit confused by the grammar. I can feel it happening again, so I'm a little discouraged at the moment. I suppose the options are to keep plugging away or to quit. Since I'm not much of a quitter, plugging away it will have to be.

The clock shows 930 ... the day looks cold ... it's time to think about getting myself to the gym. I hope it's a fast day ... come on weekend!

Wednesday December 27th, 2006

Things have been very hectic over the past few days ... I've not found myself at home much. The holidays were busy and great! The party on Saturday went well ... about 20 people came throughout the night ... a ton of food was brought along with Christmas cheer.

Christmas eve morning started with another breakfast party ... breakfast consisted of french toast and crepes and berries and sausage and bacon. It was very yummy! I spent the afternoon cleaning up around the house. The evening was spent at a friend's cocktail party. It was great fun with more great food and some festive drinks!

Christmas arrived and brought with it the sun and some heat. Another brunch of yummy goodness was made but this time with an added treat ... champagne and orange juice! I, unfortunately, had to work in the afternoon but the day went fast.

Christmas dinner was spent at my friend's co-worker's house, here in Shui Lien. Again, more great food was to be had ... I rolled myself home.

Boxing day was an easy day as I only had one two hour class. I took the day and night to get caught up with some things that I've been putting off due to being busy over the past while. I am currently trying to catch up on my Chinese writing homework. I am about two chapters behind.

That being said ... it's time to get myself to the gym as I still want to put in another hour of writing today. The sun is shining but it feels a bit chilly out there. Three more days of work until a three-day weekend ... I am looking forward to it!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday December 23rd, 2006

One couldn't have asked for a nicer day ... the sun is bright and the sky is blue. The wind brings crisp air that couldn't be more festive.

My birthday has been pretty spectacular so far ... it started last night at midnight with some new sexy tall stemmed wine glasses and a glass or two of spectacular wine! The day will bring a few more festive events as will tomorrow and the day following that.

Yesterday, fun was had by all at CKids. We had a teacher gift exchange and the classes were to each perform a song. Saturn Class sang Pokemon by Bob Rivers ... we won the prize for being the most creative. Neptune Class sang the classic Jingle Bells by Frank Sinatra ... it was quite cute and they found themselves with the prize for being the most energetic ... my classes fared out well seeing as though there were three prizes to be won and we collected two. If I can get my hands on some video, I'll see if I can't post it.

My open house is tonight and there are goodies galore in the kitchen ... guacamole, desert nut breads, cheese, cheese and more cheese ... chocolates and candies with still more to buy today. My racks are filled with wine ... the night should be good.

I best get on some things ... time will slip away fast today... it's already after 11 ... I hope everyone has a great holiday season!

Happy Ho! Ho!

Thursday December 21st, 2006



Winter has arrived ... it's a chilly one today. The weather is showing 11- 16 ... brrr. I have rugby practice in a half hour and I'm a little undecided as to what I should be wearing. Winter is reminding me, once again, that I need to move to a warmer country. I said that last year and alas, another year gone ... perhaps by next winter I'll find myself in the tropics.

Last night I found myself bundled in a turtleneck, a heavy sweater, a Columbia vest, a hat, pants and socks ... too much clothes for one person to wear all at the same time, really. I vote for tanks and shorts each and every day.

I haven't been home most of the weekend ... I think my cats have, perhaps, taken some crazy pills since I've been gone. I suppose they are crazy with excitement having me back in the house. They haven't quite realized that I'll be out of here in about 15 minutes.

Homemade curry is on the menu tonight ... something hot and spicy to warm up. The skies are blue and the sun is out, but I know the windows are showing deceit. In looking at the clock, I best be on my way.

Saturday December 16th, 2006

With the day comes lots and lots of rain. I have some things to do in the city this afternoon ... it's not overly encouraging to want to get out there. I have three hours of hoping it'll stop by the time I have to leave.

Last night CKids Kindergarten had their Christmas concert. It was quite cute. Myself and some of the other teachers were required to do a dragon dance for the show. We didn't practice much and I'm not sure how we fared out. I suppose, in time, the video will tell.

After we cleaned up, we headed to Jogoya Restaurant. It is a Japanese buffet ... unbelievable place. I, unfortuatenly, forgot my camera. All you can eat sashimi and seafood ... dumplings and hot pot ... desserts and lots of fruit ... so, so yummy!

I've decided to open my house up for some holiday cheer next Saturday evening. I suppose that means I should put some decorations up around the place. Another thing on my list of things to do this week ... it's going to be a busy one.

The rain isn't letting up ... it's just after noon and the time ticks. Off to the gym ...

Monday December 11th, 2006

I thought it best to put down some words today as it's been a few. The weekend was busy with lots of friends and yummy goodness ... the holidays have arrived! The time now is 6:52am and I am waiting upon my Chinese teacher and some tea. I may talk to my teacher and change these early morning classes to the evenings, if he's available. When you don't get to bed until 1am, 630am comes a little too early.

The gym is closed today and the skies are turning blue. Should be a good day for a hike. I will have four hours off between my Chinese class and the start of my work day. Here's to finding a new hiking spot so I can get my camera in use.

Saturday, the day was spent over at Vernon and Sharon's. They invited ten or so people over to enjoy two turkeys. Dinner was fantastic!

I still haven't made any solid decisions as to whether or not I will host a party on the 23rd. The nights are filling up, so I best make a decision in the next day or so or else the night may not be mine! Either way, I suppose there will be fun to be had somewhere if not at my own.

As promised ... a photo of my blonde hair.

The phone rings. And with that, I'm out ... 我的中文老師到了 ...

Thursday December 7th, 2006

The sun has decided to come out in full force today ... it's beaming in the windows and it feels so good on my skin. Skies are blue and the weather says it's going to be 21 - 28 ... might be a good day to put my plant outside!

Today is going to be fairly busy for me ... I have a private, language exchange and then my regular classes. Today we have a rehearsal at our kindergarten. Next Friday night the kindergarten will be having a Christmas concert as they do every year. This year we are required to be there as we are going to be performing a dragon dance. It should be interesting.

After the concert, our work will be taking us out for a Christmas party ... I hear it's to a fancy all you can eat seafood restaurant ... should be yummy! The next few weeks are going to be all about good food ... suppose it's that time of year! Love it!

Unfortunately I won't have time to hit the gym before my private today, perhaps I'll go tonight after work. I am meeting my LE partner for Thai food today ... my tummy is grumbling just thinking about it!

Shower time ... I have some Chinese writing homework to do before the day starts!

Tuesday December 5th, 2006

This morning involved staying in bed until just after nine. I awoke at 8am to grey clouds and lots of rain ... I decided it best to sleep for awhile longer. The cats were close and warm ... the heater was on. I didn't have anywhere to be until early afternoon.

With the early afternoon came the sun. Today, I found myself at Costco ... I managed to come home with a few goodies.

Festivities start this weekend with Vernon leaving for his one month vacation home to Australia. A few turkeys on the bbq will be a great way to celebrate an early Christmas.

I received an email from Brother J today. He and Spring are safe and sound, and perhaps being snowed on, in Victoria. It seems they've found a place to sublet already. Best of luck to you both ... I'm very excited for you!

The night has turned back to being rainy. That being said ... it might be a good night to retire early. The day will be busy tomorrow as will the one after that and the one after that.

Glad the hump day is almost upon us.

Monday December 4th, 2006

I'm afraid winter has arrived. The rain has started and the weather says highs of 23, lows of 15 ... brrr. Yesterday involved bringing out my heaters and wearing gloves on my scooter.

The weekend was busy but was mostly spent indoors. I did make it to the city on Saturday. I got my hair cut and coloured ... I am blonde again. At the moment, it must glow in the dark. I'll see if I can't get a photo and post it.

From now until Christmas things will be busy. My weekends are filling up with this and that. I am thinking of hosting a party on the 23rd at my place. As Christmas falls on a Monday, I will find myself with afternoon classes.

Levi is lying on a third of my keyboard making it very difficult to type. I know ... I should probably just push her off, but she'll come back ... again and again, purring louder with each return.

I am waiting for a load of laundry to finish before I hit the gym. Chinese class went well this morning ... we are halfway through chapter 10. These 7am - 9am classes are killing me ... I'm not used to getting up that early. These days, the nights are late as are the mornings ... perfect for this kind of weather.

I've started doing some research into cameras. I may take an extra month so that I can put more money into a nicer one. It'll be worth it. I suppose it will also depend on whether or not my camera holds out for the holidays.

And the washer goes ding ... the clothes are never going to dry. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after that!

Wednesday November 29th, 2006

The sun has decided to join us today, I think. The weather says it's to be 25 - 29 ... though it feels a bit chilly out there. Winter is certainly arriving. This is my second winter with the cats and I've noticed their fur has become quite thick over the past few weeks. Last year, they lost a lot of hair awfully fast when summer arrived. I thought perhaps someone came in and shaved around their ears while I wasn't home. It's interesting stuff.

My turkey soup gathering was a great success. It seemed everyone was quite happy with the turnout as we all had two or more bowls. Vernon will be going to Australia for one month on the 13th, so we will be having a turkey dinner on his last weekend here. I am hoping he'll agree to give me the remains so that I can try another turkey soup. Perhaps a good way to stay warm and healthy over the winter.

This week has been a bit of a quiet one for me. With Doug being away on his honeymoon and my Chinese teacher cancelling our Wednesday evening class, it's left my schedule quite open. It's been a nice change. I've been getting into Lost in the evenings ... just finished watching season 1, episode 11. Each episode leaves me with a feeling of suspense ... it's great stuff!

Our Christmas trees are up at school and talks of activities are in the works. It's hard to believe it's that time of year again. Just when I was finally getting used to writing 2006 on the board, I'll have to soon start remembering that it's 2007. I don't know what I'll do for the new year. My thought is that I'll have to work on the first as it is a Monday.

Well, a sushi lunch is in order today so I best sign off and get ready. After a great cardio workout this am, I am starving! Mmmm ... sashimi.

Sunday November 26th, 2006

American thanksgiving was a busy day. Our school luncheon went well ... I think all the teachers enjoyed the feast. I managed to have two plates myself. After my two plates, I was invited to another feast that evening for a friend's work party. I wasn't sure where I was going to put it, but I accepted the invitation anyway.

My second turkey dinner for the day was much better than the first. The party was held in the late evening at a restaurant in Taipei called Cosmopolitan's. Yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread, turkey, pumpkin pie, ice cream, wine ... it was all there. Needless to say, I had to roll myself into the taxi home.

And the luck continues as I was left with the remains from our school turkey lunch ... I made turkey soup this weekend. I will have a few friends by the house tonight to help share in the yummy goodness. I'm off to rugby now.

Not to rub it in or anything, but just so you know ... see the date above? I am in shorts and a tank with all my windows open ... the weather says highs of 29 today ... oh yeah! I'm feeling a tan coming on.

An American Thanksgiving

I am thankful as I was able to celebrate Canadian thanksgiving last month. Today, we will be celebrating American thanksgiving at school. Two turkey dinners down and hopefully one or two more to go with Christmas coming up. Spoiled!

I spent the night preparing mashed potatoes, carrots and green beans for the sixteen of us that will be enjoying the feast today. I am hungry just thinking about it. The turkey, I believe, is being ordered in hot from Costco. Hopefully it will be good. I was at Costco on Sunday with a friend and I noticed they had a whole freezer full of turkeys ... seems there won't be any trouble getting our hands on one for Christmas.

My mom seemed to think that my last post was a bit negative ... that wasn't my intention at all. All I meant was that 2006 has been a great year ... 2007 has the potential to be better than great! I guess it's true that things get better with age!

I've got to get myself to school early today as I'm the one bringing most of the food. I'll bring my finicky camera and see how it holds up. Some days I get great shots while other days I get big blurs of nothing. A new camera will be in my possession soon. I am waiting for my monthly pay in December, then camera shopping here I come! Anyone want to shoot some suggestions my way?

Grumble, grumble ... got to get.

Monday November 20th, 2006

As I sit down to write, I find all I can do is stare at the screen. So much to say, yet nothing I wish to share. In a very short time, my life has become something it's not been for some time. I look forward to the end of 2006 ... I welcome 2007 with hopes of good things to come.

I'll start with work, as that is where a good chunk of my week's hours lay. Or would that be lie? I imagine one never really dissects their own language until they are asked to teach it. A long time back, one of my language exchange partners asked me about the differences between lie and lay. I couldn't really figure it out myself so I decided it best to check into it. If one were to be curious:

Lay means "to place something down." It is something you do to something else. It is a transitive verb.

Lie means "to recline" or "be placed." It does not act on anything or anyone else. It is an intransitive verb.

The reason lay and lie are confusing is their past tenses. The past tense of lay is laid. The past tense of lie is lay.

The past participle of lie is lain. The past participle of lay is like the past tense, laid.

Layed is a misspelling and does not exist. Use laid.

How is that for confusion?

In speaking with my father today, it seems he is willing to help me with my studies. I've been toying with the idea of hiring my Chinese teacher on for another two hours a week. He expressed a great interest in helping me to pay for the class, so I am thrilled. I can't say thank you enough, Dad!

I know more than anything my father wants me closer to home ... somewhere in Canada, at least. I am thankful for his offer as this tells me that he, perhaps, understands and even stands by my decision of where I am today. I know I can only benefit amazing things from my experiences here and it's nice to see that he may be seeing that as well.

My Chinese teacher has time for an extra class, so starting next week we will have class on Wednesday nights, after work. Doug and I have agreed to trying to meet one night a week. I am going to park my scooter at the closest MRT station and I will take the train down to Taipei Main Station. I think we will spend a longer time studying for one night as we are both going to have to travel a bit of distance to get to one another.

His wedding was great. I asked a friend of mine to go and of course we were the only two foreigners there. It seemed that a few were curious as to why we were there. I was called up on a stage ... which I'm terrified of ... to speak into a microphone ... which I'm also terrified of ... to speak to a room full of Mandarin speakers. I spoke a few sentences of Chinese and one or two in English. Doug ... when I see you on Tuesday, you're in trouble!

Sunday, some of the day was spent up in 大溪 (da shi). It was great to get out of the city. The ocean was packed with surfers. You gotta love that it's the end of November and people still have the ability to be in the ocean. I think about the ocean in Canada in the middle of August and it reminds me of why I'm living in a warmer place.

I think tonight is going to be an early one for me. I have most of the day off tomorrow and my thought is that the weather won't be too cooperative. Either way, I don't really mind ... rain will bring a nice excuse to stay indoors.

Thursday November 16th, 2006

Almost Friday, once again ... the week has gone by rather quick. I found myself wandering home today with this big unremovable grin. Could be that tomorrow is Friday ... perhaps it's something bigger than that.

My language exchange partner will be getting married this Saturday. The wedding is at noon and I'm hoping my camera will hold out for some good shots. This will be my third Taiwanese wedding. The other two were foreign friends marrying Taiwanese girls, so I imagine this one will prove to be a bit different. I'm not sure what I'm going to wear ... I may find myself shopping tomorrow night.

Talks of American thanksgiving dinners and even Christmas are in the works. I am trying to decide if I want to put up a tree again this year. Last year it was great, but I couldn't keep the cats out of it. It was knocked over a few times by you know who ... she's got the same attitude as the little engine that could.

Tomorrow should bring somewhat of an easy day. I hope with the easiness comes the sun and some blue skies. Today was a hot day ... I could hardly bring myself to wear more than shorts and a tee. Fingers crossed for much of the same on the weekend.

A wet Levi is sitting in my lap. The cats were playing around in the washroom while I was taking a bath ... needless to say, it's all fun and games until one of them falls in!

Chinese class is going to come bright and early. With a bit of homework left to do, I best sign off for the night.

Monday November 13th, 2006

I'm not sure what to write about tonight. This is the first time in some time that I find myself with spare time. I've not been taking any photos as of late, so I don't have much to play around with on the computer. I'm kind of bored with TV and movies. I did watch Season One, Episode One of LOST. It certainly sparked an interest, however, the content may be a bit heavy for my liking. I'm really into keeping things simple these days.

Chinese class is coming along ... I am thinking about crunching some numbers to see if I can't hire him on for one more day a week. I don't know what his time is like ... I suppose I'd have to check on that as well. As he has picked up a new job, we have changed our class time. We'll still have classes on Monday and Friday, but we are meeting from 7am - 9am. I didn't make it to bed until almost 2am last night ... 6:45 came awfully early.

I have most of the day off tomorrow. The gym was closed today, so I was able to get some things done around here ... that means a free day tomorrow. I am hoping the weather cooperates as I'd love to get out for a hike. Maybe hit somewhere new so that I can get my camera working again. It must think I've forgotten about it.

I drove past CKids Kindergarten today and they have their Christmas tree up already ... I couldn't believe it ... a Christmas tree. I know it's getting on to be that time of year ... but when you cruise by on your scooter in shorts and a tee ... it hardly seems the time for Christmas.

Christmas falls on a Monday this year, which means I'll be at school for the day. My birthday falls on a Saturday, which means I should probably have a party at mine. I don't know if I'll do the same as last year as Vernon (the man with the big BBQ) will be going back to OZ for the holidays. It'll be a weird Christmas without my bro and without him as he is kinda like a bro.

Some of the best news I've heard all week is that Brother J is moving to Victoria. I am thrilled that him and Spring have decided to get out of the hammer. I don't imagine there is much opportunity there for people of our age and having just spent a week or so in Victoria ... I think it to be a wise decision. Victoria is a stunningly beautiful place.

Best of luck on the move and the drive down ... all I have to say is, nice one, guys! Nice one!

One Fish, Two Fish ...

It feels as though 2006 began only moments ago, yet here we are eleven days into November. The weather in Taiwan has been fantastic. We are probably experiencing our last heat wave before the rain and cold. It's been shorts and tank top type weather, which I've been loving. I think I may even be sporting a bit of a tan.

I've been tutoring this girl, Angel, for about half a year. Her and I are the same age and my wish is that I was better able to communicate with her. We get by during classes ... I teach her some English and she always teaches me a bit of Chinese. She seems like a very cool girl, but of course, communication is limited.

The grammar book we are using would be that of a first level. We have been learning about countable and uncountable nouns ... we are learning words like a, an, some, much and many. One of the cartoon photos in the book is of a swimmer ... he is in a restaurant and he is having some fish and a water. On the swimmer's plate sits one whole fish. Her sentence reads the following:

He has a fish.

Now, this to me sounds as though he has a fish, in a fishbowl, as a pet. Now, imagine her level of English and my level of Chinese and me trying to explain to her that when we are in a restaurant ordering food, we never say a fish as we are never really served the whole fish. Of course, she tries to explain that in Taiwan you get one fish. This is true ... eyes and everything ... apparently the head and brain of the fish are a speciality ... some will actually play paper, scissor, stone to see who gets to eat it. I haven't brought myself to try it as of yet.

It, once again, makes me consider our language and think about the complexities it offers. I had to introduce measure words to her like slice and piece and whole which is almost a whole other lesson in itself. Too funny!

We are reviewing countable and uncountable nouns and measure words in my Chinese class right now, so timing couldn't work out more perfect. It allows me a chance to test my Chinese during an English class.

Tonight I will be heading to 淡水 (dan shui) ... meaning fresh water. Apparently there are some cafes and restaurants along the water. A friend is playing with a jazz band, so it should be a good night. For now, I think I may grab the two cats and head back to bed for a little R & R.

If I had the ability to create a world of my own, everyday would be a Saturday! I am working on ...

Monday November 6th, 2006

Monday arrived too quickly, once again. The weekend was busy. It started off with a welcoming party for the new teachers at my school. The school decided to take us to KTV. It is said that outside of Japan, Taiwan is known to have the largest number of Karaoke clubs, aka KTV. These clubs, some of them being unbelievably extravagant, consist of floors and floors of private rooms for people to rent. Each room has a big screen TV, it's own high-tech karaoke machine, couches and tables and chairs and a bathroom. Food and drink orders can be placed via an in-room telephone.

Saturday morning was spent drinking lots of water because I drank too much beer the night before. I had lots of errands to run during the day and a bbq to attend Saturday night. The bbq was fantastic ... lamb chops and ribeyes from Costco ... mashed potatoes, salad and ... pumpkin pie. Yum! It was another late night or would that be early morning?!

Sunday I felt tired. I'm not used to going out on Friday and Saturday night. I had my second rugby practice Sunday afternoon and it was great. I still find the game to be a little confusing, but I suppose it will all come together quick enough.

Luckily, a lot of food was leftover from Saturday's bbq. A few of us got an invite back for some more yummy goodness. Another night of good eats!

Chinese class today was awesome. I am learning some great stuff. My new teacher has really been able to clarify things for me and grammatically, he has helped me to see things I've not been able to see as of yet. Seems there is still a chance of me becoming a Mandarin speaker.

My teacher will be assigning me writing homework as of next class. Each week I am to write a 300 word paper, trying to use all the new vocabulary. That's going to be tough, but I realize it needs to be done if I want to learn how to write.

That's all I got for now. I think it's time to relax and settle with a movie. I am looking foward to a long sleep this evening. I've had about 13 hours sleep since Thursday am and that just doesn't cut it!

Thursday November 2nd, 2006

Some days I am very aware of my surroundings, and on others, not so much. The past few days have been a constant reminder of living life in a world that isn't my own. Today I had a private tutor in the morning. As some drilling was going on in the building, we decided to take class to a coffee shop up the street.

During class, this older lady stops by the window of the coffee shop and starts banging her umbrella madly on the window. She is yelling and I am desperately trying to understand, but, of course, I can't make anything out. She was probably speaking Taiwanese.

I could see she was trying to express her anger towards me and it was only moments later before she entered the coffee shop and caused a bit of an ado. The only thing I could really understand was the waiter saying strange ... something ... go ... something ... strange. I'm sure she was there to express her dismay with me.

It was at that moment that I had to wonder why some are dealt better cards than others. I know she would never come to realize on her own that I've worked my tail off to get where I am today. That I have made sacrifices. Perhaps my idea of the definitions of working my tail off and sacrifice might not compare to hers.

I've come across this not too often, but often enough to realize what it's all about. It's unnerving sometimes. One never really knows what the other has the ability to do.

As always ... things in daily life remind me that I am in a world foreign to my own. Amazing things happen all the time. Today, for example, was the first time I wrote in Chinese on the whiteboard. I kind of did it to see how the kids would react. We were talking about Monarch butterflies and how they migrate during the cold season. We were talking of direction and one of my students didn't really get the whole North, East, South, West thing. I know how to write the characters for East and West so I gave it a go on the board. They were amazed!

As was I. And I continue to be ... everyday. I guess that's what keeps me here. Amazement and the beauty of it.

As we all know ... everyday always brings a bit of good with a bit of bad. My hope is that the angry lady found her bit of good somewhere along the way.

Wednesday November 1st, 2006

Where does the time go? It is starting to get cold. The evenings are going down to about 13 ... brrr. I had full flannels on last night. I'm thinking it's time to pull out the old comforter ... give it a wash and a go on my bed. The walls are starting to get cold again, as are the floors. I hate winter. My hope is that it doesn't get as cold as last year.

Halloween was fairly uneventful for me. I relaxed, did some errands, relaxed some more and then relaxed some more. I had one two hour class in the late afternoon and then I went to meet Doug for LE. I did get some disappointing news last night. Doug's company is moving even further away, so I don't think we are going to be able to meet anymore. We've had to change locations a few times over the past two years, but now ... we just don't think it's going to be possible. I'm a little sad as I'm not sure I'll be able to find another like him. He is getting married on November 18th and I will be going to his wedding ... it should be fun!

His company will move in another month or so, so we will have some time left. I'm not sure if I'll find another language partner right away. I may perhaps look for some more work as time runs fast around here and two years will come up quicker than I know. If I don't start motivating myself to move on, I could get lost in the great world of Taiwan forever!

Happy Halloween!

The weather isn't looking too promising today. I have most of the day off, although I do have some errands to run. The past few days have been busy. The party on the weekend was a blast ... I know I said some pics were to follow, but I didn't really take any. I'll see if I can't come up with something in the next few days.

Rugby on Sunday was great. Our coach is from South Africa and he brought an aerobics instructor for our warm up. We did lots of drill work which showed us how to pass the ball correctly. The rules of the game were explained within the drills and we were able to get a few games in. I've learned that one game of Rugby is 14 minutes long. There seems to be a lot of running involved so I assume that's why it's so short. I may try to download a game so that I can see what it's supposed to look like.

Most of us are new to the sport, so it's all a bit confusing at the moment. We are looking for a sponsor and we are going to have some uniforms made up. The coach thinks it will be the New Year before we are able to challenge another team, but that's okay. I hear there are teams all over Asia and if we are willing, we may travel to places like China or the Philippines to play a few on the weekend. We have called ourselves the Black Panthers.

My Chinese class is going very well ... my new teacher is coming to my house on Monday and Friday mornings. He has taught me some great things so far and has already helped me to have a better understanding. We are already on Chapter 5. My writing is improving more and more each day and I am finally starting to remember how to write a lot of them. It's a pretty cool thing.

And with that ... I'm out.

Saturday October 28th, 2006

I find it hard to believe that November is arriving in a few short days. Today is turning out to be alright, weatherwise. The sun is making great efforts to show ... both the cats are basking in it now.

I have a few errands to run today. Other than that, it should be fairly quiet. Tonight is Adam G's annual Halloween Party. It should be a blast ... two apartments, side by side, open to all! I will be going as a devilish vampire.

We had our halloween parade at school on Wednesday ... it was fun. I think the kids enjoyed it. I was able to download some Charlie Brown cartoons. The bundle came with all the holidays specials like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and even Valentine's Day. I will probably show the Halloween episode on Monday for the kids.

Must get out in that warm sun for some excerise. Hopefully some halloween photos will follow tomorrow. Boo!

Friday October 27th, 2006

Michael Kremko Photography

What I wouldn't do to be there right now ... relaxing on that beach. The weather is a bit crazy today. Some blue skies and a bright sun with rain coming down every which way. I've been up with Datsun most of the night as he's been sick to his stomach ... poor little guy. He did decide to throw up on my blanket ... hard to say whether or not it will dry today. The sun is strong, but the air is wet. Thank goodness for extra blankets.

I'm glad it's Friday ... the week has been busy. I had a meeting with my principal yesterday as one of my troubled students is, perhaps, leaving the school. I have to say, I'm not too sad to see him go but Mommy, of course, is blaming myself and my co-teacher for being bad teachers. My principal asked what it was that we can do to make things better. My only response to this was that the school and Mommy should have been paying attention from the start. I asked the school to fail him after level one and Mom promised to help him out and promised he'd try harder. Of course, he failed miserably. I asked the school to fail him after level two, but this would be an embarrassment to Mom so on to level three he went. Now that he's completely lost, it seems to be my fault. As per my earlier post, there are a lot of people in this country that shouldn't be allowed to mind animals ... there are also lots of people that shouldn't be allowed the pleasures of children. Most of them do not get the love that is required.

Levi has just pushed my Chinese homework off the table and onto the floor. I guess that means I best get back at it. My teacher will be here in about a half hour and I still have some writing to do. She's eating the paper ... what a BRAT!!!

Thursday October 26th, 2006

Words haven't been coming to me as of late ... I find myself wondering if, perhaps, I'm in a bit of a rut. Going back to a place that was home for so long always presents a bit of weirdness. Lots of comforts, yet hesitations.

Taiwan reminds me of why it is that I am living my life in a far away place. Two months in, however, I find the month to be a tad frustrating. Life on the other side always brings interesting and challenging things, but with that, sometimes, comes lack of understanding.

I love things here, don't get me wrong. It's just that, trying to understand the things that go on in a world that isn't quite your own can be hard.

Take yesterday morning, for instance. As I was out for a morning jog around the area, I ran into this lady. She had a silver plate type thing over her eye and she looked ... a little off. She was playing catch with a golden retriever. Catch consisted of throwing a ball down some stairs that led into a tennis court. After turning around for the jog back, I noticed that her dog was locked in the tennis court. The dog was crying and seemed somewhat unhappy. In seeing this and realizing that I would've been up and down the stairs five times already, I wondered if the lady, perhaps, might be deaf. I mean, one never knows, right?!

I jogged back over and this is how the convo went (in my horrible Chinese):

Me: 小姐, 你的狗不能出去.
Miss, your dog can't get out.

She: 知道, 知道
I know, I know.

Me: 門 ... 關了
door ... closed.

She ... in English ... I know, leave him, leave him.

Me: 牠不太高興
He's not too happy.

She: ... in English ... I know, leave him, leave him.

Me: left feeling angry and upset for the dog that has such a heartless owner.

That has only been one of the few annoying incidents going on this week. To get off annoyances ... life has been good. Sometimes I'm reminded of the amazing things living life on the other side has to offer ... sometimes I'm reminded of the tests of patience it requires.

My new Chinese teacher has been interesting. I think he's going to be a good teacher, but he is a bit out there. It could be intelligence, it could be something else ... hard to tell at this point. I've learned a few good things already, so we shall see. We are on class three tomorrow am.

I have joined a girl's touch rugby team. I don't know anything about the sport, but practices and games will be held on Sunday afternoons. Because I don't quite have enough to do during the week, I thought, why not squeeze one more thing in on the weekend. It may prove to be interesting ... or it may not. One must give it a try, however.

Life is too short to not try things out.

上 (shang4)

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word ... that word is up.

I saw this at a friend's place the other night. I've searched the net as to the owner ... I didn't really come up with anything to link it to. As I am (trying to be) a teacher of the English language, I find this very interesting.

Situations like this occur much too often in my life!

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election ... why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends. We use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver. We warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

This UP is confusing:

A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP ...

To be knowledgeable about the proper use of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, ... for now my time is UP, so ...

time to shut UP ...

Thursday October 19th, 2006

I am, once again, sitting down to write with nothing much to say. Things have been a bit busy on my end. The weather, however, has been fantastic. It's been in the high 20's to low 30's with sun and blue skies. The humidity is gone ... with the hot sun comes a decent breeze. I've been shutting my window at night which tells me the cold is coming.

Today we were talking about heating during one of my classes. I told my kids that it's kind of like air conditioning except it brings warm air. I told them I have a heater here, at home, so it can be used during the winter. They argued with me stating that it's not cold here in the winter.

It got down to 4 last year ... with no central heating, concrete walls and white tiled floors ... it gets cold. They seem to think otherwise. It's funny. In the summertime, you will see a foreigner, myself included, walking around wearing as little as one can get away with, soaked through with sweat. In that same moment, you will pass this little Taiwanese girl dressed in jeans and a tank with a black long sleeve and ... ?? ... not even a drip of sweat.

And the winters aren't cold?!?! Brrr ...

It's going to be an early night for me. I start Chinese lessons tomorrow. My new teacher will be here for a 9am class. I am very excited. I am also a bit nervous.

Tomorrow should be somewhat of a fast day. It will consist of Chinese class, lunch with a friend, my regular classes, then home. Having had to work last Saturday made this week out to seem long. I will be thankful for the two day weekend!

Monday October 16th, 2006

Wandering through a shop in St. Jacobs, ON, I stumbled upon a small section of cat things. A notepad that read, 'Dogs come when they are called. Cats take a message.' A ceramic plate saying, 'Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.' I had to giggle as I could relate.

I've done some research into the University of Macau. Although the internet states it's the second most densely populated place in the world, it doesn't seem to have a limitation as to how many animals one can bring into their country. The University is primarily a teaching University, but some other courses are available. Mandarin is a required course with Cantonese being optional. One year will run me about $5,000 CAN, not including living expenses. I will be looking into how internationally recognized it is. Their website states that they have established academic links with over 100 institutions around the world ... I think I will have to find out in greater detail what that means exactly. I wouldn't want to go back to North America showing a few years of nothing.

Hong Kong has given me eyes for a new place. If I start planning now, I'm sure within two years I could have enough to take a year off and get back into studies. With just over two years left on my contract here, timing should be perfect. I suppose an extra private or two might be in order.

Chinese University, I'm afraid, didn't make it into my schedule. I spent some time being disappointed and scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. In the process, I've discovered that Wen Hua, seems to me, to be a bit disorganzied. I tried to figure out the pros and cons of going to a classroom environment ... really dug into the idea of what it was that I was trying to gain. Wen Hua means ten hours of study each week with approximately seven hours travel time per week. I will lose one private tutor and my morning language exchange partner ... I've been seeing her for almost a year and a half now.

In saying that ... I've hired a private teacher. A bit more expensive? Yes. A bit less time of study? Yes. A bit more convenient? Absolutely. I can keep my private and my LE partner and the teacher will come to my home for study. Although it will be six hours less class time, it will also be seven less hours spent driving in the madness of Taiwan. I will try it out and see what progresses. That's all one can do, right?

My Chinese lesson starts on Friday. I am going to ask to start from Chapter one in book one. I think it might be good to get another perspective from the beginning, but this time doing all of it in spoken Chinese. I want to learn to write, so that's why I'm going a bit backwards here. I'm sure we'll be able to cruise through the first fifteen chapters ... after that ... hard to say. All I know is that I am excited!

The cats are starting to get a bit vocal ... I suppose it's time to go rough a bit of feathers around here ... they love the abuse!

澳門 - Macau

Five of us left for 澳門 Macau early Sunday morning. It was about a one hour ferry ride from HK. Now, what really baffles me is that HK and Macau are both in China, however, they are considered different countries. We had to go through immigration and change over our money. I guess it's four more stamps for my passport, although it's already full. I'm glad I have to get a new one in 2007 ... mine won't be able to take much more abuse.

The internet states that the total area of Macau is 25.4 square kilometres with a population of approximately 460,000 ... it also states that it is the second most densly populated area in the world. It didn't strike me as being overly busy, however.

It was a place of character and history. I wish I had allowed myself the two extra days, although turkey dinner yesterday was fantastic! There is an international University on the island ... it will be something that I will be looking into.

Five of us had about five hours to run around and see as much as we could. Two of us went up the Macau Tower. It was a pretty cool view, although the pics weren't so great with all the smog.

After that we hit one part of town with some old ruins and churchs. First stop was lunch, where plates and plates of yummy goodness were being served. We, once again, outdid ourselves. Small shops everywhere were selling dried meat, I think. The narrow streets had people standing in the middle of them every few feet holding a big square of it with scissors in the other hand offering to cut off a piece to try.

We spent the day walking around seeing the sights and stopping in the little shops to buy some specials here and there. The shopping was much cheaper than HK or Taiwan ... I managed to come home with a bag or two of goodies.

A new album has been posted. Check it out on the sidebar. I think I may finally be running short on things to talk about ... my fingers haven't been able to keep up the past few days!

Day 2 - 香港 ...

Our bus pulled into the city around noon on Saturday ... we were scheduled to stay at the Holiday Inn for the night. A big Ckids lunch was planned for us in the hotel ... we had enough time to check-in, drop off our bags and head to the restaurant. Lunch was unbelievable. Just when we thought we were done eating, a whole other meal would start to be served. The food just kept on coming.

We were served spring rolls, pork wrapped in something which probably doesn't have an English name. They served us dumplings and radish cakes and fish and shrimp and a few other things which are, in English, unbeknownst to me. After all of that, shark fin soup was served ... apparently a speciality. Now, one would think that after the soup was served the meal would be over, but nooo. They continued to bring water cress and eel and chicken and shrimp and noodles and fried rice. Dessert consisted of moon cakes and a mango pudding/jello/soup type thing and ice cream ... I mean, ugh. We all had to roll ourselves out of the restaurant from eating too much.

After lunch the group set off to do some shopping. I found things to be very expensive in HK, so I wasn't up for the malls. Morgan and I went to hang in a park or two to see what was around the downtown area. I couldn't believe the hoards of people ... everywhere. Trying to get a spare spot to sit in the park was next to impossible. I will never again say Taiwan is crowded. The day brought along all sorts of interesting characters.

After hanging around for the afternoon, we went to the MTR to hop the train to Victoria Peak. The tram ride up was great, the view ... spectacular. I've already posted a photo in an earlier post, so have a look around.

After The Peak, we took the MTR back to The Temple Street Market. It was there that we decided to stop for more food, because we didn't quite have enough for lunch.

As I can't seem to eat mullosks there wasn't much there for me to eat.

The four girls I was with ate and ate and ate ... they ordered snails and squid and clams and who knows what else ... I did ask, but they didn't know the English names. They did order dove which I tried ... it was quite tasty ... poor little bird.

After spending another two hours eating, we made our way through the market. I didn't buy anything, as most of it was quite similar to what we can get here in Taiwan and the the prices seemed to be about the about the same. We arrived back to the hotel around midnight and I fell asleep within minutes. I was scheduled to leave the hotel at 725am as some of us were catching a ferry into Macau. That is another story to follow shortly.

Hong Kong (香港) Disneyland

We arrived at Disney's Hollywood Hotel around 830am on Friday. I was travelling with a group of 20 or so ... needless to say, check-in took a bit of time. The hotel was quite neat as it had Disney stuff everywhere. The park opened at 10am and, luckily, our rooms were ready upon arrival.

After dropping our bags in our rooms, we ran down to the free shuttle. It was a holiday weekend in HK, so we expected the park would be packed with people. We were wrong ... the park was empty. We never had to wait more than a few minutes to get on the rides, which was great! Space mountain was our first choice and I managed to ride it about another six times after that. It was the only coaster in the park.

Our first few hours were spent running about the park ... I mean, imagine 15 adults running through Disney ... too funny! We did manage to cover the whole park, hitting all of the rides and seeing most of the shows available. My favourite attraction was Mickey's PhilharMagic. It's a 3-D movie with interactive smells, water and blowing air ... a very cool thing!

Other attractions included a jungle river tour, adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Orbitron, parades and The Golden Mickeys to name a few. It didn't compare to the one in Flordia, but a great time was had by all.

Fireworks were set over the castle to end the night of fun. They were quite impressive. After the day, we all went back to the hotel for some pizza and a beer or two. Most of us could hardly keep our eyes open.

A full day had been planned for the following day, so it was early to bed for us. What a great experience it was as I'm sure I wouldn't ever want to afford to stay in Disney's hotel. The following morning, I awoke early to take advantage of the hot weather, the outdoor piano shaped pool and the water slide ... we had an 11am bus into HK where we would be staying the night.

Check out the new album on the right ...

Monday October 9th, 2006

All of a sudden I have so much to say, I can't even decide where to begin. I thought I kind of had an idea of what 香港 (Hong Kong) was going to be like before I got there ... upon my arrival, I realized I didn't really know that much.

Let's get a few facts on the go according to old faithful. HK has an area which is about 1,100 square kilometres ... it covers Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. Within, one will find themselves stumbling into 6.8 million people.

English is spoken very well almost everywhere you go. With signs in Traditional Chinese and English on every corner to guide the way ... one could hardly get lost. Now, if one could only get through all the people. It seems to me that HK builds up rather than out ... I suppose there isn't much room to go anywhere else but up. All of the city buses are double deckers. That should tell you something.

Tall forests of residential buildings stand all over the city. At the stoplights, I would find myself counting the stories. As the bus would pull away, I'd find myself at about 30 flights or so and sometimes that was just over halfway. I tried to get some photos, but it was next to impossible.

I didn't spend much time in the city ... with so much to do and so little time, I wasn't about to waste time shopping for stuff I don't really need.

I did take the tram up The Peak on Saturday evening. The sights were beautiful from way up there. My camera doesn't take great night photos, so it was hard to get a good shot. This gives you somewhat of an idea.

So ... this is the start of a few stories to come. New albums will be posted in the next day or so, I'm sure. Today is a holiday as is tomorrow. Eyes posted.

Friday October 6th, 2006

3:06am ... my ride is coming in about 20 mins ... it's awfully quiet at this time of the morning! I will be in Hong Kong for the next few days. Keep your eyes posted for stories and pics soon.

Wednesday October 4th, 2006

I've been trying to figure out how to change the skin on my video as right now on Mozilla it looks a bit tacky. I've been able to make some changes and it is starting to look how I'd like it to on IE, but not on Mozilla. It's a bit frustrating sometimes trying to make changes to a site ... especially when it looks alright on one browser but not alright on the other. It makes for a lot of fiddling ... as always, another work in progress.

Only two more sleeps until I find myself on a flight to Hong Kong. Friday is a holiday, as is Tuesday. The government has declared Monday a holiday as well which is awesome, although we are required to work on Saturday which isn't so awesome. I sometimes have to wonder why the people here think that time off always needs to be made up ... as if it's something that can be caught up on. I guess, financially, things will be the same and time is money ... but mostly ... money just can't compare to time.

I was really tempted to change my flight back from Hong Kong ... stay the extra two days. However, that would mean missing out on a turkey dinner with some friends. Hong Kong or turkey ... Hong Kong or turkey ... hmmm ... food always wins in my books!

And with that ... I sign off ... a movie before bed sounds like a good plan. I'm not having much luck finding ways on this thing tonight!

Does this work?

Here is a quick video clip of the changing of the guards at C.K.S. Memorial Hall. This video doesn't really do much justice to the whole presentation, which goes on for about 10 minutes, but it certainly does give you an idea. My camera doesn't capture sound, but the new camera I will be buying very soon will have that feature! I hope this works without a glitch.

Another Taste of Asia ...

Some new photos have been posted in the album titled above. My collection is slowly starting again ... slowly being the key word there. I think my camera is on the fritz ... it's taking an awful lot of blurry photos these days ... hmmm.

Check out the album on the sidebar if you find youself with some time!

Sunday October 1st, 2006

October already ... wow. It's been almost one year to the day that I started this thing ... it certainly has come a long way. It's gone in a direction I wouldn't have imagined it to ... it's taught me a lot of things and it continues to do so.

Today I found myself at 中正紀念堂, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The area is 240,000 square meters and it contains the National Concert Hall, the National Theatre and a memorial for the late president. I was able to catch the changing of the guards on video ... I will look into finding out how to post a video on my blog. It's a fairly cool thing to watch ... not sure that the video really captured the moment, however.

I had a potluck last night to welcome my new guest. It was great fun! Kathy will be staying with me for one month. She already has two job interviews next week, so hopefully something will work out. I think she enjoyed the city in all of it's craziness today.

Not much to write about these days ... I'm hoping my trip to HK will inspire me with some stories. I hear it's China's birthday so I'm sure it will inspire a lot more than that. And with that ... I sign off.

Friday September 29th, 2006

A big happy birthday to you, Mom ... all the way from Taiwan. I hope the day brings you many good things. I am sorry I won't be there to celebrate with you, however, Bill told me what he's giving you and just so you know, I bought one too ... I guess we'll be seeing each other a lot sooner than you'd think! I love you and miss you ... always!