Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kenting in January

My Chinese New Year break is rapidly winding down. I had a good time, but didn't do too much. One thing I did do was take a trip down to Kenting, on the South coast of Taiwan. Ariel, Luke, Mark and I took a bus down, and although the traffic kept us on the bus for hours, it was ultimately worth the trip.

We got off the bus across the street from our hotel. It was an older, well lived in place that none of us were impressed with, but we just dropped off our bags and went out. We walked down Kenting street in search of something to eat. Vendors line the busy street selling everything from seafood to ice cream to grilled corn and vegetables. We got a variety of stuff and some beers and went looking for the beach. We got there just before sunset, and I changed into my swim trunks and went swimming.

It was nice to be in the water, feeling the sand and surf and the last rays of sunlight. It's easy to forget sometimes how beautiful Taiwan is when I spend all my time in the city, so when I get to experience natural wonders like the ocean, it's refreshing to both body and mind.

We got another hour or so to spend on the beach the next day. As we rode home, we agreed that the trip's only flaw was that it was too short. We will definitely rturn soon.

I took many photos, which you can see here:

Kenting in January (1/2)

Kenting in January (2/2)

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Google Kills a Deer

As an avid Google Earth/ Google Maps user, I thought this was pretty interesting. Google has a feature called Street View that lets you find a street from above in Maps or Earth, and then-- if the data is available-- take a virtual ride down these streets using hundreds of digital photos taken by a van with cameras mounted on it that drives up and down streets in some areas.

This one apparently hit a small deer, and the photos of the accident were uploaded onto Google Maps.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Amazing Photos

I came across this list of amazing (non-Photoshopped) images. A few are NWS, but nothing too bad

My favorite is this Teenage Mutant Ninja Dog photo.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just a monk out for a stroll...

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Historic Day

I stayed up late to watch President Obama's inauguration. He wasn't sworn in until almost one in the morning here, but I caught it on CNN's website. I must say I was impressed with the turnout in Washington. It was a grand affair.

His speech was pretty moving as well. Maybe it's because I'm an American abroad, so I'm not used to seeing such a powerful display of patriotism for my home country. I especially liked these quotes:

And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

It's been tough traveling or living abroad as an American for the past several years. People who have a problem with the West often blame America, and people who blame America blame Bush and those who put him into office. I hope that Obama can renew the face of America for the world. Of course we will still need to be powerful or occasionally forceful, but I hope that we can also gain a reputation for being compassionate and progressive.

Another part of me wonders if Obama can really deliver all that he said yesterday. I think many people are so excited to have someone other than G.W. Bush in office that they think all of the problems and issues will be resolved and new ones won't crop up. "Hope" is a powerful word, and a good thing to have, but if it's squandered on hopless causes or leaders, then it can only end in disappointment.

What are your thoughts?

Also, check out this slide show. Like myself, countless American expatriates and people all over the world stopped what they were doing to watch the ceremony.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Internet Appliances

I've seen a few items on the net this week about networked appliances. One guy modified his washing machine to text his cell phone when a load is finished. Another article from Australia talks about refrigerators being connected to a peer-to-peer network (think BitTorrent) in order to manage power consumption on a large grid.

Computers being networked is no new thing, but it's interesting to think what can be accomplished by linking appliances together. You could preheat your oven from your mobile phone on the drive home so that you can pop dinner in and save time. Your refrigerator could send you text messages reminding you what you're low on so you can pick up whatever it is on the way home. You could even have your heating and cooling systems track the weather forecasts so that they could more accurately keep your house at optimal temperature. This isn't re-inventing any of these convenient, time saving inventions, but it is allowing them to be even more convenient and time saving by granting them access to lots and lots of available data.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Twitter anyone?

Is anyone else on twitter? It's basically a site that hosts ultra short blogs, text only. It's like facebook's status updates, but marginally more useful, since you can update and read other's pages via RSS or SMS updates. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Teacher Rips Off Boy's Face!

I saw this article in the news feeds today:

Chinese schoolboy has 52 stitches after attack from teacher
A primary-school student in central China had to have 52 stitches in his face after he was beaten by his teacher for not doing his homework.

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Last Updated: 2:44PM GMT 08 Jan 2009

Zheng Chaoqun, 10, is still being treated at a hospital in Henan province after his teacher tore away a strip of flesh. Zheng told a local newspaper, the Dayang News, that his assailant, 37-year-old Guo Yabin, had picked him up by his cheeks after he failed to hand in his work."She was very angry at the time," he said. "She ripped and tiwsted my cheeks with both her hands and then she lifted me off the ground."

The boy said he felt his face ripping off and fell back to his seat. "She still had my skin in her hands, and my face was bleeding. She looked anxious and sent me home," he said.
Doctors in the hospital sewed up a five inch wound. Zheng's father has reported the case to the police and is expected to press for damages.

But no action has yet been taken against Mrs Guo, a mother of two. The authorities said they, and the police, were still investigating the incident. However, graphic pictures of Zheng's injuries have circulated on the Chinese internet.
Mrs Guo's relatives have reportedly produced a hospital certificate to show the teacher is mentally unstable. "When she tore off his face, we were horrified," another student told the Dayang News.

The teacher got so pissed at this kid for not turning in his work, that she actually picked him up by the face. Some of my students here have told me their teacher hits them or their classmates with a ruler or something, which I find to be inappropriate and unjust (although sometimes tempting...,) but this is way out there.

And as if ripping his skin off isn't nasty enough, she had the nerve to send the kid home. What did she say to him? "Zhang! Get the herr out of this classroom! Stop bleeding all over the damn place! Come back when you finish your homework and put your face back in order!"

EDIT: Now with photo. Warning, not pretty. Scroll down,

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