Monday, February 13, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Groupon UK: Doh!

Meh new hair do'

I love Groupon! Who doesn't? I bought my first UK Groupon for a haircut last October and it has taken until last week for me to get in gear and use it.
First things first: when using a Groupon you must present it at the time of use. Well, that was my first mistake. We don't have a printer at home, so I went to the library to print out my Groupon along with a bunch of other documents. About a quarter of the way into my walk to the Salon I had a "DOH" moment; I printed out everything BUT the Groupon! How am I going to get a free haircut!? I can't pay for it! Paying full price for most things makes me want to cringe. I figured I could ask the Salon to use their computer to pull up the Groupon. Problem solved!
 "Oh no, we don't have internet", says the bottle blond behind the desk. Ok...what to do. I was early for my appointment anyway, so I thought I'd walk around the neighborhood to find an internet cafe- no such luck. There were a ton of letting agencies on the same street, so i channeled all my Amazing Race confidence, took a deep breath and walked inside what I thought was the most promising of the agencies. "Hi, I have a strange request, can I use your computer to print out my Groupon"?  "Sorry, but our internet is actually down at the moment", says the guy beside me. Shoot! The young girl behind the desk spoke up, "I think my computer is working, come and try it". Awsome! I was able to get my print out and was still on time for my appointment. I kid you not when I say that I was thinking, "what would I do if I was on the Amazing Race?" I know that some people don't even think twice about just asking for something, but not me. I'm shy. I didn't even like going into a new Sunday school class with my older brother when visiting my grandparent's church. My brother and I were shy enough that my dad would have to walk Chad and I into the class.
From now on I will channel my Amazing Race spirit when I need to be ballsy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another year, another city

Since our almost 4 years of marriage (wow, really!) we have lived in numerous cities and countries.
Year 1, 2008-2009
Hyattsville, Maryland

Year 2, 2009-2010
Brookland, Washington, DC

Year 3. 2010-2011
Hsinchu, Taiwan

Year 4, 2011-2012
Armley, Leeds, England

...and year 5 is to be determined since we only plan to be in England for the duration of Steve's studies-- about 1 year or so.

This has been an exciting year so far and an experience I'll never forget. I've learned and am learning so much...but more on that later. I've just been thinking of where we've been since I'll be celebrating another birthday, in another country, in another city. Here's to 28. Be good to me.

"He's got a dirty nappy!"

This is the beginning of a story where I wish Dexter was not my dog. He was a complete embarrassment. This video is right before we left to go outside.


Dexter and I were hanging out in the living room, me surfing the Internet, faithful pup standing at the window watching all the activity on the street below. He was getting really excited and wanted to go outside (it was about time for a "pee run" anyway). Off we go down the two flights of stairs to the little green patch of grass beside the parking lot. A little boy (7 y/o?) and some other children were hanging out the window playing around and they soon started shouting to Dexter and asking me questions. Dexter does his thing while the little boy steps out the door. He calls to Dexter and Dex immediately changes direction and runs full speed towards the boy who's holding some white mystery ball in his hand. I start to walk over to try to keep this kid from being knocked over, but Dexter is all over the boy and jumps and snatches the white balled-up mystery from his hand. "He's got a dirty nappy!", runny-nose boy says. Oh. No....No! No! No! Nooooooo! Little boy, "I'll catch him!". Right. Good luck with that, kid. They run in circles for a bit till all the humans are fed up and walk away. "Hey! Wait! Don't forget me guys!" Dexter wants to come with us and drops the dirty nappy. Ewe. All the kids are leaving and I am the one left to pick up all the mess, luckily I had a bag for doo-doo...just didn't think it'd be baby doo.  Disgusting Dexter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Le sigh

** this is an ancient post that's been sitting in the drafts folder since about June- eep! Thought I'd post it and then follow with more recent happenings, since life has changed dramatically since June. I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that I am a terrible blogger. Not only do I not have sponsers like all the cool blogs, I don't even post once a month! Sorry, I suck. Let's get you updated on Taiwan life, shall we.Back in Feburary I was longing for the warmth of summer, and man is it here! It's hot, hot, hot and I feel like I live in a layer of slick sweat. Poor Dexter is just plain miserable most of the time, but he is still his silly, happy self. What has been a saving grace so far is the pool in the basement of our apt. building. I wish I could take Dexter to the pool and just throw him in, but Steve doesn't think we should sneak him down. I mean, why not! Dogs in Taiwan go everywhere: the grocery store, restaurants, 7-11, and the movie theater (no, I'm not kidding)!
Last Monday was the beginning of Wimbledon and that makes me pretty happy. I love tennis, and although I play terribly I love to watch it. Of course I'm rooting for the Williams' sister and am hoping the Andy Roddick will keep it together. I'm over Federer, he's great and all, but let someone new into the final.
What else...Work is still the same. I get through the days and the weeks go pretty fast. Not much happening on that front. I hope to be around more on this blog. I want to remember our time here in Taiwan.

**yes, the picture is sideways, guess people don't need to edit things on iPads. Enjoy Dexter contemplating life--sideways.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Well, sitting here in my cold apartment, with the dog snoozing in the chair next to me
and Leah off tutoring, I thought this would be a finally put an update up. School has
come to an end and work is pretty much done until after Chinese New Years,
so I have that odd feeling that I have SOMETHING I need to be doing...but I don't.

I didn't realize it had been so long since we had written an update. So many things have happened. We have only been here for 4 and 5 months, respectively, but it feels like so much longer. We have had so many obstacles to overcome, and they seem to come one after the other. I don't think we understood what "culture shock" really was, and at times, when my frustrations boil over, I still don't chalk it up to culture shock. It's an often prayer of mine that I don't lump together all Taiwanese together when I get frustrated with things here, but it is usually what I do anyway. Culture shock invades every aspect of life, and I will expound a bit deeper as I try to sum up our life since our last post.

Taiwan has been playing some serious havoc on our immune systems. I spent most of November sick, and two of those weeks in bed. After a week with the flu, which I never-ever get, I spent a week struggling through school only to wake up on a Sunday with the worst sore throat I have ever had. This then turned into the worst sinus infection I have ever had. And I am a man who has had a rather storied history with sinus infections. They are like some dirty tramp that comes through town each year between Fall and Winter, sneaks into my widow at night, steals my innocence, and leaves me with her dirty sickness. But, it seems the Taiwanese tramp has been around the block a few more times, because this sinus infection knocked me on my ass for a week straight. It took another 2 weeks for me to completely get rid of it. (I wrote this part earlier, and since I have gotten two more really bad sinus infections),

So, being as I was sick for almost 3 weeks straight with two distinct sets of symptoms, I decided to head the doctor to rule out the SARS or the Yellow Fever or a strange Asian cockroach hadn't laid eggs in my head. The doctor office is quite different here. You are usually in the office with several other patients at the same time, unless you need something super personal attended to. So as I sat in the chair, with several local standing around me, the doctor asks the usual questions about my symptoms; sore throat, hurts to breathe, chest congestion, nasal congestion. He nods, and pull out two 8 inch wooden sticks with swabs at the end. He dips them in some orange antiseptic and makes a motion as if he is going to shove them up my nose. I back up into the chair as far as I can, and make a protesting notion with my hands. The doc just looks at me and says "It'll be OK" and crams both stick up my nose. Involuntarily I took a couple half hearted swings at him, and instantly had tears streaming down my face. This was to the boisterous delight of the locals standing around me. For 3 minutes, I had these sticks 8 inches up my nose, scrapping the front of my brain as my eyes involuntarily streamed with tears. The nurse gave me a box of tissues with a look that said "I can get you a skirt and training bra, too".

So, culture shock is not what I expected it to be at all. I guess I'm not quite sure what I thought it would be, but my constant frustrations never point me to the fact that I am in a very very different culture. I always lose my temper in traffic. I cannot get over the disregard for personal space. I have a bad habit of tearing down Taiwanese for what seems to be silly cultural actions; wearing masks, the giant fake glasses, short shorts with nylons, hypocritical trash issues (the lady downstairs will ream you for failing to separate your trash correctly, but every receipt you get is literally a book), their shyness, and most of all, their intrinsic, unstoppable need to "save face" (mianzi, look it up). This last part permeates EVERYTHING, such as getting an answer at work as to how a project should proceed (if no one answers you, no one answers you wrong) or getting a 500 word email from a classmate telling you to "eat your own shit" for pointing out flaws in their presentation.

This last point leads me to my next bit of news. We have decided that we will limit our Taiwan experience to 1 year, and move to the next year to finish school. It was a tough decision, but MCU is just not an institution I wish to be my future on. Besides the above mentioned problem, which manifested itself in other ways, like students refusing to speak or participate in group discussions or seminars, leaving 4 or 5 of us to carry every class (this did get slightly better towards the end), major plagiarism issues not being adequately addressed, a really skewed grading system, and a few teachers who just refused to teach because they "hate lecturing", I just really questioned where my degree would lead me. I can't say it was all bad, I had a couple professors that were very engaged, and a few classmates I learned a lot from; but in general the whole system was paralyzed by a fear of failure. So, we will either be at The U of Leeds in Leeds, England or The U of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland next year. For the time being, we are going to work our butts off, study Mandarin, and, hopefully, move to a beach town for our last month before we leave. I have plans of a grand vacation leading to the UK, and I really want to take a long trip through China and make a handful of stops in the US. We shall see, though.

We finally made it to Taipei for a night of fun. We saw the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, which is one of the more stunning things I have seen here (front gate):

After words we saw a trio of old school hip-hop DJ's at a small club. Good stuff. I have been listening to nothing but J-Dilla beats since then:

Hopefully we won't be so stingy with our updating in the future. Much love from the Far East.