Friday, December 07, 2007

Stir-fried Wikipedia?

There must be something to this - two different Chinese menus offering up Wikipedia? I've heard of a hunger for knowledge, but I always assumed it was just a metaphor...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I want to cry

I remember when I could buy a Canadian dollar for 20 New Taiwan dollars. I want to cry.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Baby Got Back

Baby Got Back

Rainy days, warm hearts.

Our life is pretty unexciting. I'm working hard - harder than I'd like, perhaps, but we get to have some pretty good times together too - times that count as among the happiest in my life so far (and I've had a pretty happy life!)

We discovered tonight that Trudi perked up and started dancing/clapping/vocalizing whenever the closing theme for the TV show "Las Vegas" was playing. Las Vegas, btw, is a pretty vacuous TV drama we rented about the daily workings of a casino. Not recommended unless you're in vegetable mode. Anyway, as I was saying, we noticed that Trudi quite liked the closing credits of the show. Probably she was just happy that it was over! At any rate, we hit the review button on the DVD player, and recorded Trudi's reaction to the theme over and over. She's funny.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Trudi's favorite song

Trudi loves this song - she sits on my lap at the computer and claps her hands. The singer is Jack Johnson, and the song is from his 2006 album; Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George.

Who's to say
What's impossible
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks reflections fade
But in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There's no stoppin' curiosity

I wanna turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's song
I don't want this feeling to go away

Who's to say
I can't do everything
Well I can try
And as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren't always just what they seem

I wanna turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's song
This world keeps spinning and there's no time to waste
Will it all keep spinning and spinning round and round and

Upside down
Who's to say whats impossible and can't be found
I don't want this feeling to go away

Please Don't go away
is this how it's supposed to be

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trudi on the sofa

She's getting stronger every day - she'll be walking in no time, I'm sure!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Trudi on the balcony

Trudi likes the view from our balcony!

US to Leave UN, Join International House of Pancakes

NEW YORK. Frustrated by high dues and a coalition of anti-American interests, the United States today announced that it would resign from the United Nations and instead align itself with the International House of Pancakes, a competing organization.

"We just got the bill for the third quarter, and it's outrageous," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the current U.S. ambassador to the UN. "There's an assessment for renovations to the indoor pool, and charges for three grilled cheese sandwiches that I know I didn't order."

Of course Taiwan wouldn't be allowed in - they'd have to go to Big Boy or Denny's with a handful of third-world nations, who would expect Taiwan to pick up the tab.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Can China Host the Olympics Without Murdering Thousands?

Chinese Authorities Execute 10 Million Recalled Toys

The Onion

Chinese Authorities Execute 10 Million Recalled Toys

BEIJING—So far, 9 to 10 million faulty toys have been kicked, shocked, hanged, pounded with nails, had their ears severed and eyes gouged out, and then shot.

Canadian Dollar

Insulted Screwdriver Set

I had no idea screwdrivers had feelings!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Godwin's Law

I forget where I first saw this, but I enjoy this comic strip: xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. (BTW - in case you're not familiar with it, click here for an explanation of Godwin's Law.)

Basic Instructions
is also pretty good. Thanks Karl!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Niggar King

Niggar King
Originally uploaded by Poagao
This store in Zhongli was originally called "Nigger King" and changed their name to this after a visit from the police (notice the "A" is slightly different). Now they're considering changing it again (maybe "Nagger King" is next?)

BTW, the Chinese name translates as "King of the Black People".

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A drink before retiring...

A drink before bedtime is something I've really come to enjoy. Lately, I've had the pleasure of getting to know two new favourites - Murphy's Irish Stout and Laphroaig Scotch Whisky. Murphy's is a smooth, creamy ale with hints of chocolate and coffee, and goes down like mother's milk. I'm not a huge fan of dark beers, usually, and I've never liked Guiness, but Murphy's is great, and you can get it at 7-elevens around Taiwan, so it's easy to pick up. I've been told by British friends that Murphy's is an old ladies drink in the UK, but whatever. I like it fine.

A couple of months ago, I was presented with a bottle of 30 year old Scotch whisky from the Laphroaig Distillery on the Isle of Islay, Scotland by a friend departing Taiwan. This is maybe the most interesting Scotch I've ever tasted. It has a strong flavour, very peaty, and a little pungent. From their website: The aroma, on pouring the 30 year old, gives an initial burst of sherry, the full profound depth and roundness of sweet fruit then becomes apparent followed by a tantalising hint of Islay peat. On tasting, all the traditional Laphroaig personality comes through, allied with a succulent, heavy roundness that belies the massive depth and power of this outstanding and unique single malt. Some consider it the finest of all Islay single malts. I still think Glenmorangie, finished in sherry or port wine casks, is my overall favorite, because it's an "easier" Scotch, but when I drink the Laphroaig, I tend to get lost in thought a little more, and that's a nice feeling.

Slainte Mhath!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Trudi & Gustav

Trudi & Gustav, originally uploaded by Maoman.

When Trudi is snacking in her chair, Gustav is never far away, which is great, as it means our floors are always spotless!

Standing Happy

Standing Happy, originally uploaded by Maoman.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Trudi can say "Da-da"

This is from last month already, but I just got around to putting it up now.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The eleventh hour

The 11th Hour is a new documentary from Leonardo DiCaprio about the state of humanity and the world. I don't know if this documentary is any good, but I'll watch it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How to do a typhoon weekend right.

Friday: Waited for the nanny to come to our house to take care of snookums. Went to work, only to find out that there wouldn't be any. Yay! And because our schools semester is tied to the calendar, and not to the number of classes taught, typhoon days are considered "acts of God" and don't need to be made up/refunded. Figuring that Saturday would also be a vacation, we left a message on the school's machine saying that the school was closed for the weekend.

Knowing that the nanny was at home with the baby, V and I decided to make a night of it. We had a lovely meal with wine at Carnegie's, running into a number of the usual suspects there. My steak was fantastic, and I really enjoyed the house red. We also bought a truckload of takeaway Indian curry dishes from Carnegie's, and V ordered a pasta/pesto/seafood dish to eat the next day. After dinner, we went to Warner Village, shared some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, bought some donuts for the nanny and her husband (to alleviate our guilt), and a couple of donuts to enjoy while we watched a movie (The Bourne Ultimatum). It was our first movie since our daughter was born last December, so we enjoyed it. The theatre was quite empty, and there were no annoying people using cell phones during the movie, so my aggravation levels were at an all time low.

Saturday: The wind was howling, but we went for a walk on the lobby level of Lotus Hill - lots of wind, but thanks to covered pathways, no rain or flying debris. Trudi and Gustav particularly enjoyed themselves. Then we went to Costco, which was very uncrowded. We bought some essentials, and then headed home for a nap. We heated up the Carnegie's takeaway we had bought the evening before, had a fabulous curry feast of, watched some more TV, and then I taught my wife to play Risk. She enjoyed it, even though she lost. (I'm an old hand at Risk, and show beginners no mercy.) We played into the wee hours and then hit the sack.

Sunday: Today woke up late, made a pot of fresh coffee, French toast with a dollop of sour cream, fresh raspberries and maple syrup, and some Costco bacon there is none finer).

This afternoon, took the dog out for a walk, and shaved and showered. Best weekend I've had in years!

Ferry from Quathiaski Cove to Campbell River

Getting on the ferry to from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay

Heriot Bay Marina

Heriot Bay Afternoon

Aroma Cafe on Quadra Island

Strolling on the dock of Camp Homewood

Island Evenings in Canada

Kerry and Colleen's Place in Campbell River, British Columbia

Vanessa and I had a lovely dinner at Kerry and Colleen's house in Campbell River. We were sorry that we only had the one evening together!

Trudi strikes back against the papa-razzi!

This was on the ferry to Campbell River from Quadra Island.

Heriot Bay Inn

V and I enjoyed a supper of fish and chips at the Heriot Bay Inn.

Evening ferry from Campbell River, BC to Quadra Island

As soon as we boarded the ferry, I could hear the bagpipes. With camera in hand, I went to investigate...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Home again...

Well, we're back in Taiwan again. Vanessa and I had taken some of our buxiban students to summer camp in British Columbia, and done a bit of touring with them as well. We had a great time, and took hundreds of pictures. Here's a video of jellyfish that I took at the Vancouver Aquarium:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Trudi loves Gustav

Trudi loves Gustav
Originally uploaded by Maoman
These two love being next to each other. Trudi can't keep her hands off Gustav, and Gustav always sits very, very still, except for his tail, which thumps madly.

I know some people are concerned that we'd let Trudi so close to such a big dog, but we never leave them unattended, and we also trust Gustav completely. He only has love for Trudi, and the only thing we have to watch out for is his bulk. He is a big dog, and even though he is extra careful around Trudi, we make sure he doesn't move around too much.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!, originally uploaded by Maoman.

"Not only am I cute, I'm Canadian, too!"

This was Trudi's first Canada Day!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cars from China? No thanks!

There's been a lot of buzz in the past about China's car market, and how they were going to dominate the industry. Based on the crash test below, it appears that Germany doesn't have much to worry about just yet!

In German crash test, China's Brilliance BS6 sedan fails miserably

China's Brilliance BS6 is a recent entry into the European market, positioned as a premium-style import sedan at a budget price. Well, after seeing the videos of the car undergoing crash testing using Euro NCAP guidelines at the ADAC (Germany's AAA, essentially) test center, one thing's certain: buyers get what they pay for. The BS6, as currently constructed, appears to be a complete piece of crap. The horrifying 40 mph offset frontal crash test video shows damage that can be described as catastrophic at best. The A-pillar collapses and folds up like a cheap suitcase, forcing the driver's door to pop largely out of its frame, while the lower portion of the car buckles like it's made of recycled pop cans. We wouldn't want to be the driver's legs...or any other part of him for that matter. To open the mangled door afterwards, the ADAC techs needed to use a huge crowbar to get it to budge. ADAC notes that the pedals intruded a foot and a half (32 cm) into the driver's space, while the IP moved in almost 8 inches (20 cm). Needless to say, the BS6 failed the test, garnering just 1 star.

The side-impact video's no picnic, either, as the driver's upper body takes the impact so hard, the injuries sustained would likely prove fatal. For all the crowing about Chinese cars and how they're an inevitability, if this is the kind of safety that they'll bring with them, have fun finding buyers. Back in April, Brilliance's head honcho said that this very model, the BS6, would be imported to the US either later this year or in 2008. You know what? Keep it.

After seeing the car's stellar crash performance in Deutschland, we wouldn't be caught dead in one. The good news for Europeans is that this disastrous test result might be enough to halt sales. That's what happened after the Jiangling Motors' Landwind SUV failed the same test in even more spectacular fashion in late 2005 (see the video below and listen to the ADAC guys crack up after they see the Landwind result in that second link).

Until Chinese automakers get very serious about making and exporting cars that meet commonly-accepted occupant protection standards, the idea of them having any impact whatsoever in the safety-conscious United States market is laughable.

Up, up, and away!

Up up and Away, originally uploaded by Maoman.

Trudi loves the thrill of being lifted up high - she giggles and claps her hands together. It's fun to watch.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


After we play with Gustav, I use the lint roller to remove dog hair from Trudi's clothes. Of course this tickles, and she giggles nonstop. She's soooo cute!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Third Grade Class Photo

Third Grade Class Photo
Originally uploaded by Maoman.
I dug this out of the bottom of a drawer yesterday. Cedarbrae Public School in Waterloo, Ontario sure seems a long way away.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Originally uploaded by Maoman.
Why suck your thumb when you can suck your toe?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Trudi Pets Gustav

Trudi and Gustav are bonding nicely! (You can hear Gustav's tail thumping loudly in the background.) Today was Mother's Day, and since I was sick, we spent the day at home.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

First Day of the Summer at the Lotus Hill Swimming Pool!

Ticklish Trudi

Trudi likes being tickled. Apologies for the darkness - I (obviously) used the wrong setting.

Don't believe your eyes!

If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color, pink. If you stare at the black + in the center, the moving dot turns to green. Now, concentrate on the black + in the center of the picture. After a short period of time, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see a green dot rotating if you're lucky! It's amazing how our brain works.

There really is no green dot, and the pink ones really don't disappear. This should be proof enough, we don't always see what we think we see.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I just finished watching Spielberg's 2005 film, Munich. Political thriller, action movie, tense drama, emotional confusion, this movie's got it all. I have to admit, I've never thought much about how Israel responded to the Munich Massacre, but this movie was very thought-provoking. The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards, but somehow didn't get even one. I guess I'm not that surprised - I don't think it has mainstream appeal. I recommend it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Doonesbury & Republican Family Values

Loved today's Doonesbury. Here's hoping for a landslide defeat of the Republicans in 2008!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pop Violinist

My brother Jer sent me the link to this video. Check it out - I don't know who the guy is, but he's got talent, that's for sure.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gustav Riverswimmer

Just discovered two videos of Gustav playing a bit of whitewater "fetch" a couple of summers ago at our favourite campground in Neiwan. What a cool dog he is!

Friday, April 06, 2007

An Onion Classic

I saw this link on Karl's blog. Good stuff!

Im Prepared To Give My Life For This Or Any Country

The Onion

I'm Prepared To Give My Life For This Or Any Country

As a true patriot, I would gladly die in battle defending my homeland. I love my country more than my own life. But I would also be more than...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Trudi and her mobile

Mom and Dad got this mobile for Trudi - it plays Bach, Beethoven and Mozart!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Three months old today!

It's hard to believe that Trudi is already three months old! Although it seems like she just got here, I can't imagine life without her.

Vanessa and I know so many Taiwanese couples that farm their kids out to the grandparents or even the babysitter's for the *entire week*. How can they stand to be away from their kids for so long? I miss my daughter after an absence of a few hours.

I love spending time with Trudi. In the bathtub she's so relaxed and calm - I love the way she gazes at me as I wash her. Despite the fact that she can't speak, and that she is still an infant, I think we're getting to know each other in a very profound way. Does this feeling ever go away?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dress sparks outrage in Thailand

In Thailand, actress Chotiros "Amy" Suriyawong is in hot water over a slinky black dress she wore to Thailand's equivalent of the Oscars last week. She has since been axed from her latest movie project and ordered by her university to perform community service and will spend two weeks reading to the blind to make up for her fashion faux pas.

Amy was caught up in a 'morality drive' based on traditional Buddhist values launched by the military government that seized power in Thailand last fall.

I don't know what the big deal is - I think she looks fine. Real fine!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Taiwan Diqu

Taiwan Diqu
Originally uploaded by Maoman.
Warren H, a friend based in Shanghai, saw these Taiwan goods for sale in Shanghai. Politics even enters the grocery store, because Taiwan is referred to as "Taiwan Region" and the flag of the People's Republic is shown with it. Wishful thinking on the part of the PRC!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Monday Bath

Trudi loves bathtime!

Indian Food at The Spice Shop

Vanessa and I had a very nice dinner Sunday night at The Spice Shop on Anhe Road. The food was good, the ambience very nice, and the price wasn't too bad. The Spice Shop's address is Dunhua South ROad, Section 2, Lane 65, Alley 53, No.2. Their telephone number is (02) 2704-2537.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Sleeping like babies...

Vanessa took this picture the other morning. Trudi sleeps very well when she's snuggled next to V or me. Last night she had her longest sleep yet - 4 hours!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

"We Don't Need No Education"

At least not if Education Minister Du Zhengsheng (杜正勝) is leading the way. As the Taipei Times reports:
Du proved unpopular as head of the Ministry of Education from the start with the pan-blue camp, ruffling their feathers in 2004 with his proposal that Taiwan maps be rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise in schools nationwide.

With the country's north no longer on top, Du argued, students could appreciate Taiwan from a fresher, "fairer" angle.
He's also been compared to George Bush for his apparent lack of literacy, which is a pretty glaring flaw in an education minister. He's been criticized in the past for dismissing Chinese idioms, a rich part of Chinese literary culture, as something which "makes one's brain rusty" and is not something to be included in a modern Chinese education. This may or may not be true (I suspect it isn't), but his gaffe over the weekend shows what an ignoramus really is.
Last week, Du defended his ministry's listing of the phrase "three little pigs" in its online classical idioms dictionary, insisting that the saying - apparently from the Western fairy tale by the same name - was indeed a classical Chinese idiom.

"For example, if I saw a student slacking off, I could say to him, `Don't be like the oldest of the three little pigs.' You see, that's an idiom," Du reportedly said.

Incidentally, in the fairy tale The Three Little Pigs, the oldest pig character outsmarts a villainous wolf by being hardworking.

Du's allegedly iffy grasp of idioms prompted pan-blue lawmakers to cook up their own "idiom" last week: "To pull a Du Zhengsheng," referring to verbal gaffes exposing one's ignorance.
And to make matters worse for the embattled education minister, the media reported that his son was seen partying with scantily-clad escort girls in a hostess bar, a violation of servicemen conduct codes.

I have no problem that a young soldier was out sowing his wild oats - that's what young soldiers do, but the public reaction was interesting. While watching some TV interviews with members of the public, I noticed that many people placed the blame on Du's son's moral failings on a faulty education system. "They just don't teach proper values in the schools anymore!" was the recurring theme, which to me is a funny thing to say. I don't want the school system here to teach my kid values. That job belongs to Vanessa and me. In fact, I think in the future I'll have to make a point of telling any of Trudi's teachers to please not teach her any values - she's being home-schooled in that department. She certainly won't be any worse off than her Taiwanese peers.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Independence? No. Reunification? Ummmm.

So the Taipei Times is reporting that Ma Yingjiu (馬英九) is saying "no" to Taiwan Independence. Big whoop. That's an easy thing to say here - almost everyone, after all, is afraid of the consequences of a full-out conflict with China. However, just saying "no" to something isn't enough, in my view. He's got to say what he stands for, and run on it. I'm talking vision beyond the political landscape of 2007. How about vision for the political landscape of 2017, or even 2012? Of course Ma's party, the Kuomintang, was founded on the concept of One China - the full name is the Zhongguo Guomindang (中國國民黨), which translates as The Nationalist Party of China - but if Ma is really serious about reunification, let's hear how he thinks, or hopes, that might work. I'd like to hear him express his dream to Joe Taiwan about how he'd like to establish a system that would have people in Taiwan under the rule of a Beijing president, even a democratic one. Of course he couldn't - it would be political suicide. Just one more politician with no courage and no convictions.

Us and Them

Friday, January 26, 2007

Baby Blogger

I have to apologize to anyone who's reading this blog and not expecting or wanting the goo-goo ga-ga videos and pics. For better or worse, that's my life right now, and it's a good way to keep the family in the loop with Trudi. Now that that's out of the way, here's another video!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Home Videos

For Christmas, Jer and Janice gave Trudi a blanket and cap that Janice had knitten herself, and a Sony DSC-T10 digital for Vanessa and me. Anyway the gifts arrived a couple of days ago, so we're very happy. Yay! Here's the camera:

Here's Trudi with her gifts:

And here's a couple of videos we took with the camera:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Life with Trudi

Every day there's something new. Today, she learned about pain. We took her to the hospital for her Hepatitis B shot, and she cried in a way I had never heard before. What was really sad to watch was her face when this new sensation that was pain registered with her. Up to now, the worst she's known is the discomfort of a dirty diaper, or the hunger pangs that precede her being fed. Today, however, she got stabbed with a tiny piece of metal, and learned what it feels like to hurt. As a father, of course I know this is no big deal, and that inoculations and vaccinations are good for her, but hearing my daughter cry in pain also touched on some other pretty primitive instincts in me. God help the person that ever maliciously inflicts pain on my daughter, because I will not be in a gentle mood.

After we got back from the hospital, she was a little fussy, and V was tired, so I held her for a couple of hours while V got some sleep. She likes my voice, I think, because she doesn't cry when I sing to her. She'll gaze at my face for hours and hours, and scans my face and my eyes all the time. It's pretty cool.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

World's Best Baby?

I just love this kid. She makes me happy just thinking about her. I love the way the top of her head smells, I love the way her eyes scan my face when I sing to her, and I love the way her fingers clutch at my nose and ears when I hold her close.