Sunday, December 30, 2007


Sorry this is so late, but I've been working a pretty full schedule this past week and haven't gotten around to updating this thing until now.

It was good to see many of you Wyszynskis over the Skype video chat last week, and it was very kind of those of you who sent me e-mails, or gifts or cards, or who called me. It's really comforting knowing that all off you are thinking of me.

I had an interesting Christmas here. Never before have I had a sunny, warm day on December 25th, but I rather enjoyed it. Luke and I heard about a Catholic mass here in Linko from one of our neighbors at a Christmas potluck we had last Sunday night. We went looking for it after we got off of work on Monday night, but it was so rainy and cold that we decided it wan't the best idea to be riding our scooters around in that muck after dark. We decided to get into a taxi and head into Taipei to attend the English vigil mass at Holy Family in Da'an.

It was a nice service with priests from Nigeria, India, and Taiwan giving the various parts of the mass, and there were many Filipinos, Africans, European, and Latin Americans in attendance.

The next day, we didn't have any plans of our own for the day we took off work, so after opening our presents fro home we went with some friends to a barbecue in Taipei. Most of the people there were South African, and so the day passed in a mixture of English and Afrikaans, with much wine and laughter and really good food.

Luke and I kept discussing how it didn't feel at all like Christmas without the snow, Christmas trees, and close friends and family, but it was still a fun day, and a worthy way to spend Christmas given the myriad of other places we could have been.

I hope you all had a happy and joyful Christmas as well.

Christmas 2007

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Countdown

Christmas Time has come into full effect. Hess Linko had its Kindergarten Christmas parents' day on Saturday, and I really enjoyed seeing and talking to the whole Wyszynski clan via live tele-satellite-internet-video-web-chat2.0. It looks like you all had a great time, and I wish I could have been there.

We don't have any plans just yet. I think Luke and I will head into Taipei after work on Monday and go to the English vigil mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Da'an. On Christmas day, we're taking a day off of work, and most likely going into Taipei again for a nice mid-day dinner with some friends. Expect photos.

Just in time for Christmas Vigil Mass, Luke got a new polo shirt from a nearby night market. I got him to model it for a photo.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It is foggy today.

I woke up this morning and was surprised when I looked out the window to find that Linko was gone. It just wasn't there. I could barely see the apartments across the street, and the whole scene looked like something out of the spooky Silent Hill games on Playstation. I shot some quick photos on my way in to school.

My glasses got all foggy too.

Share any cool fog photos you have in the comments!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

China doesn't like its products to be copied, Rest of world rolls its eyes

I saw this article online today and it made me chuckle.

BEIJING (Reuters) - Supposedly ancient Chinese terracotta warriors on show at a German museum are fakes, China confirmed Thursday, condemning the organizers for cheating the public.

The Hamburg Museum of Ethnology has offered refunds to about 10,000 visitors who have already viewed the "Power in Death" exhibition since it opened on November 25 as police probed the authenticity of the warriors.

The display of eight clay warrior figures, two horses and 60 smaller objects has remained open, with a sign stating that its authenticity was in dispute.

The cultural heritage administration in Shaanxi province, home to the 2,000-year-old clay army, said it had been "outraged" because it had not sent any original terracotta warriors to Germany recently.

Oh, boo hoo. So someone in Germany didn't do their homework, and the Chinese are upset because people are paying to see terracotta soldiers that aren't authentic.

The hypocrisy here is staggering. China, perhaps the world's worst offender when it comes to breaking copyright laws and respecting patents, is accusing another nation of ripping off its ancient artwork. Western film and music companies, clothing designers, electronics manufacturers, and countless other industries are losing millions a day to Chinese copycats, and they are raising a stink over eight statues that may or may not be fake.

I hope bloggers in China can see past this blatant attempt at anti-Western propaganda and expose their readers to the truth. Probably not, though.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Last Weekend

Here are some photos from last weekend. I had a good time. No plans for this weekend. Anyone in Taiwan reading this should let me know what's happening. I'd like to stay in Taipei, but I could be persuaded to travel (Kaohsiung, Taijung.)

Luke and his new friend

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Do you know the way to Taipei?

Uncle Robert just left this morning, and after a long and boring day of training at headquarters, I can tell you about our weekend.

I picked him up from a practically deserted airport on Saturday afternoon, and after getting him unpacked in Linko, we headed into Taipei to visit the notorious snake alley. We met a friend of mine in the station, and she helped us around the city. Unfortunately none of us knew what to do or where to go, and so after visiting the snake merchants (and not being too impressed) we went looking for something to eat. After wandering for a while, we found ourselves at SOGO department store, eating a pretty good Taiwanese dinner.

We met some other English teachers at a bar, and came home at a reasonable hour. The next day we went to Beitou, an area of the city renown for its hot springs. We took a few hours and soaked in the hot sulfur water before coming back to Linkou. Luke and I had our Chinese lesson, and we went for a teppanyaki dinner. No photos just yet, but here are some videos on YouTube that other people made that are pretty close to what we did.

MRT (the description says an earthquake happens during the clip):

SOGO has women in the elevator to push the buttons for you. Classsssssy.:

Beitou hot springs (Hell Valley):

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chinese Lessons

After a few months of slacking, I finally started taking Mandarin lessons last month. Luke and I get a private tutor once a week to come and teach us the basics of the language.

We're picking up some everyday vocabulary, and we're beginning to learn BoPoMoFo, a method for writing the sounds of Mandarin phonetically. So far, we haven't learned enough to express ourselves as well as we'd like, but we are making a lot of progress. I can ask simple questions like "What is this?" "How much does this cost?" "What is your name/age/phone number?" and "I don't understand." In other words, I speak about as much Chinese as my most basic classes speak English.

It is nice even knowing a little, and I am excited about learning, but I definitely have a long way to go. I will hopefully be getting a Chinese name soon, so I'll be sure to share that once I decide what it will be.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I'll keep this brief because it hurts to type.

I wrecked my chopper. I was out driving yesterday afternoon with Luke, Melanie, and Jerry, and I didn't brake hard enough making a downhill turn on a mountain road and my scooter slid off the road. Fortunately, I fell off the scooter before it crashed into a wall, unfortunately I missed the soft berm and skidded along the pavement.

I skinned my left hand pretty badly, and my right elbow and knee. I may have a mild sprain to my left shoulder, and the bridge of my nose has a couple scratches from my helmet visor hitting me.

After I stood up, I felt to make sure I was all still there. My jacket was ripped to shreds, and my jeans had a couple of new holes, but the damage to my body was thankfully non life threatening. I realized I couldn't move my left arm up to unbuckle my helmet, and that scared me. After putting in a lot of effort, I finally raised my arm and felt a triumphant pop as my arm righted itself back into its socket. Success!

Of course, I took some photos after the wreck:

Minutes before the crash, we stop to take in a view and strategize.

The scene of the crash.

I still had a sense of humor, and I was still standing.

(click to supersize)

After the crash, the rest of the group came back and we assessed the damage. My Yamaha Fuzzy 125 is in roughly the same banged up shape it was in before the accident, and my injuries didn't look too severe.

We got back on our steeds and drove slowly back to Linko, where Melanie helped clean the gravel out of my wounds and put some antiseptic and iodine on them. Thanks Mel!

I spent the rest of the day self medicating with Taiwan Beer and amoxicillin.

The lesson I learned: Be extra cautious driving on any road, but most of all on steep gradients and sharp turns. Also, always wear a helmet. Always.

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