Monday, December 3, 2007

Bats at Night...

The mentioned bats were in the hands of the Japanese and Korean national baseball teams. They played last night at the Taichung Intercontinental Stadium. What a blast. Great game and atmosphere. The raucous Asian fans really make for a fun time compared with their staid US counterparts. Love the organized cheering color coordinated garb and all that. The energy at the night game was great on a par with the play on the field. Inevitably Japan one but the Korean team was pretty much in the game the whole time. One of the best sports contests I've seen in a while and certainly one of the better live ones I've witnessed. I hope both Japan and Korea make it into the Olympics because I think they'll add to the level of play there.

Taichung's stadium is really cool and sitting above home plate in the upper tier was great for viewing all parts of stadium and the sporadic lights of DaKeng Mountain in the background. We even spotted a couple of brightly lit flower cars that pulled up outside the stadium. Our neighbors were imbibing freely(some Japanese guys) drinking ShaoShing Wine and the ubiquitous Asahi Super Dry one of the tournament sponsors.

All in all it was night well spent. My son was living it up. Score this one-Win/Win.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Twin Peaks

Chris & Lara Pawluk
Well this weekend was great for mountain fun. On Sat. I was expecting to just relax around town because my family was going with a group to Shitou on Sun. so I didn't plan any big activities. Later on Sat. I returned a call to my friend(he had called the night before when I was kind of half-sleeping). He asked me if I'd like to go to his cabin with him. This was the 3rd time he asked me since a group of us went the first time. I mistakenly answered in Taiwanese "Gwa boying" meaning I'm not free, instead of saying "Gwa ooying." So I quickly switched to my stronger Mandarin skills to rectify my error. Shortly we were off. This time we got a much earlier start, so the beautiful fall lighting on this clear day could really be enjoyed. After arriving in the town Juolan (below thew mountain his cabin is on) we did a little shopping in some small grocery store. The old lady running it was very friendly and my friend Mr. Shao went about getting his noodles, veggies, and some meat for our impending cookout.

I loved the quaintness and warmth of this little mountain town. It caused me to reflect back on my youth in the Catskill Mountains of lower NY State. I love Taichung but it is so nice to get away from the city and noise and polluted air.

We got to the cabin and were greeted by his brood of chickens and lone cat. The weather was perfect, the air was sweet and you could hear the stream from the valley below. He got about getting the cabin opened and the ingredients for lunch organized. I sensed he wasn't that proficient of a cook so I stepped in doing my best Keith Floyd impersonation and got busy with the knife and cutting board. It was a blast cooking outdoors in this relaxed and natural environment. After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon kicking back and drinking tea.

I look forward to more outings like this. Maybe even with our sons who are friendly too.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Double-chicken epiphany

kian esquire
Recently I was fortunate to enjoy two different chicken meals that were both delicious and great value. One expected and one a surprise. The expected on was the Chicken Roll sandwich at Costco which is kind of like a burrito or roti but with the addition of cheese ands some sauce on the inside. This lovely treat is only NT$69 which is a hair over $2. My son enjoyed the hot dog and coke but managed to get a sample of mine. He said he'll go for the beef roll next time which Costco calls bulgogi-the Korean name for barbecued meat.

The surprise meal came from a Roti stand that opened at the SungJu night market here in Beitun. My wife snagged 3 for only NT$100($3) or NT$40 for one. Man I'm so happy about the roti. I love Indian food and there is some decent stuff around just kind of pricey and a ways from my house. So big props to my wife Anne(for this and a million other things :) ). Gonna track down those Indian guys myself and find out where else they sell.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tales of Costco,Q-Tips and muffins...

OK finally Costco opened its doors here in Taichung after being on island for over 10 years at those uncivilized northern and southern locales(yes a joke, but I do have special love for central Taiwan). It was utter madness when Kevin(my son) and I visited a long with 4 friends from Australia last Sat. Taichung's Finest were out in force helping direct traffic. I know Taichung Mayor Jason Hu has been trying to get Costco to open here for some time. I thought it quite interesting that the subterranean parking ramps were lacking escalators. What you say?

There was an elevator but the long sloping ramps(2 per level) were just concrete. The store must have saved major bucks by eliminating the large escalators needed to cover the B1-3 levels. They'll also save enormously on electricity which is fine because that makes them slightly more environmentally friendly and we get more opportunity to burn up the extra calories we pick up when indulging in some of Costco's goodies. Floors 1(Optical dept. and Snack Bar) and 2 (main store level) both have escalators.

Can't tell you how happy I am again now that we have proper Q-Tip brand cotton swabs again. Silly I know, but after torturing myself with inferior Japanese imports or domestic varieties I can proclaim with authority big difference in comfort, safety and utility with the Q-Tips. So even though I had to dip into son's college fund to buy the 4 pack...

My buying habits have changed some what since I first came to Taiwan and also since Costco first opened here. Many things I would have bought without question previously, ground beef, frozen lasagna, ravioli,etc. I refrain from buying now. Some because I prefer to make it fresh myself in more manageable portion sizes and many of the items available at other Taiwan stores are adequate and can be purchased as needed without carrying Costco's inventory for them while they carry your cash.

That being said, Kevin and I did buy some of the things that we consider must haves like the bagels, muffins and big blocks of cheese. The staff is really friendly and service oriented. My card expired and needed to be reprocessed after I had already selected my goods and gone through the line. Some young lady named Amy was very helpful in English with whole process although she admonished me for "making her" speak English when she found out my Chinese is quite adequate. I smiled and told her, "Hey Costco is an American chain and this was excellent practice for her. I also pointed out how she shined in this case."

Look forward to being able to shoot by there when ever and pick up needed items and grazing at the reasonably priced snack bar. Kevin and I did major damage to 18" NT$300 pizza we took to nearby park.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Things I love about Taiwan...

Well first and foremost Oolong Tea(high mountain of course). In this case enjoying some given to me by new business friend Mr. Wang. He purchased from trip to SongBoLin in the lovely NanTou county. First time drinking this variety and I must say I'm enjoying it in ways I have the AliShan variety which had been my standard. last weekend was great for getting out and about and doing some video while I was. Visited the in-laws in Yunlin and some friends in LuoDong. Gotta say I love the mountains.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

TCB, driving and videoing

Sometimes my business can be fun. Case in point-about 2 weeks ago I had to drive down to TouLiou from Taichung and see a factory. I noticed on the way down that there was a tunnel that goes from the #3 Freeway to Yuan Lin close to my 2nd stop in HuaTan. Had good conversations with both factories and got some great footage which I later published here as "Road". Please check it out.

I almost forgot-the most pleasant part of the trip was coming back from HuaTan I drove 74 Jya extension through the back of BaGua Mountain. That was pretty! Who ever knew?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

OK Twist my arm...

Gonna be going back to Sun Moon Lake this weekend (one of my favorite scenic spots in Taiwan). Will be camping there with my friends and believe it or not, have never camped out in Taiwan in my almost 20 years here. Kevin (my son) is looking forward to this as well.

Update:1st Blogger ate this post(or so I thought). In fact we got biggest typhoon through here in some time. So our trip was canceled. Oh well in fact our condo was rained in in 3 rooms. If you are unfamiliar with strong typhoon rains they don't fall(not vertically anyway) they move horizontally in sheets.

Was a shut in for only 2 days but could feel the cabin fever coming on... Typhoon eve was spent over dinner with an old business associate. We discussed plans to cooperate on production of auto parts so please keep driving those cars...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Scootered to Fengyuan

Yesterday Kevin and I came into office to do some computer stuff. I wanted to head out to Fengyaun and maybe shoot some video stuff and grab some edible goodies by Miao Dong(Temple East side) Fengyuan's iconic landmark. Well no good shots to be had but we came a cross a real treasure of a find( and had some good father and son time). There is a stuffed baked potato stand behind the main food alley. Whoo-talk about serendipity of the gastronomic kind.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Teacher's Day...

Well this one was totally off my radar. Been busy on trying to get more business together here to do my part on helping Taiwan's economy(mine too of course-:)), but I digress. To all of the teachers out there in Greater China and elsewhere thanks for the hard work and dedication.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Go figure...

Here in Taichung this year we've had 3 typhoons com into the area on fairly direct course with predictions of some major action on the least one, but all small potatoes. Now Wipha comes through with tail way up by Taipei and brings some real gusts and dumps a bunch of rain on us. Just goes to show you that typhoons are as predictable as the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 911

I guess I'll reflect here since I was in Taiwan when 911 occurred. First thing is wishing the families and friends of those lost in 911 are doing better with their pain. I was sitting in friend's restaurant that night when another friend's cell phone rang. He was being informed of The WTC 1st tower being hit. Some bad jokes were made. Surely this whole thing was just a bad joke but... Then the TV was turned on over the bar-the images of horror, devastation and loss were all there. Then my phone rang. An incredulous wife calling to tell me the very place we'd been to on a family trip earlier that year had been attacked. The WTC that I could see daily from my Brooklyn home was soon to be no more. An icon leveled to dust.

All I can say-let's honor the lost by working harder for peace and understanding between each other and by cherishing our loved ones.

Friday, September 7, 2007

1:50 Something wake-up...

Yikes-last night we got shaken awake by 6.6 scale earthquake here in Taiwan. I was shaken awake and not wanting to get up in the hope that my son was still sleeping. Our condo is on the 10th floor and part of a massive multi-building structure that is all joined together. So picture a giant spring and we're doing the "Twist" but only horizontally. This caused me to reflect on how I was overseas on a business trip when my wife and son got a much bigger fright from "921" earthquake back in '99. Fortunately, was able to go back to sleep after an hour of reading.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Favorite time of year

We are entering my favorite time of year here in La Isla Formosa. The cooler drier weather agrees with me and serves to remind me that Moon Festival is not far off. I love that holiday for it's social appeal. Friends and family getting together around the barbecue grill with good conversation and maybe some grog to ply it along.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Geek Enabling In Computer Alley

Taken in Taichung's Computer Alley-geek porn palace or choice to so many. Paul and Martha happy guests and video stars. Taichung's Moshang provided the excellent remix tune for the background. Fun was had by all-several rubber chickens were sacrificed, and yes they were made in China. xD

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sharing Taiwan with friends

Had a nice time sharing some of my favorite Central Taiwan locations and people with Paul and Martha. In particular I was pleased to introduce them to Lin Hsi Hsiung a really talented painter friend from Lukang. Mr. Lin is so centered has a real gentle aura, and is very friendly and hospitable with the Oolong Tea. We got to watch him effortlessly paint the gift boxes for the hand-painted fans Paul and Martha purchased-amazing.

Paul shot some footage and hope to post soon. Check out some of his amazing bird/nature photos here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Finally Taichung gets a Costco

I can't tell you how happy I was when I arrived at my office this morning and noticed a Costco DM sticking out of the mailbox opening. I knew what that meant. We let our membership cards expire over a year ago because it was never that cost effective driving up to Taipei or down to Kaohsiung just to shop at Costco. Not to mention how much we'd overbuy to justify the expense of the trip.

It always bothered me how Taichung gets the short shrift of the central government here. Are they just pissed off that they have to live in Taipei with it's lousy weather and sour-pussedpeople there? As one who used to live there and goes to overseas locales more than Taipei, now we have one less reason to go there.

Hope the people of Taichung appreciate the benefit of Costco on certain types of merchandise: imported meats, vitamins, western-style food products, etc. Now if they'd only work on the landscaping and fit and finish of the new baseball stadium here....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lost spoiler alert?

Well here in Taiwan was the season finale for Season 3 of Lost last night. I have been sitting here most of the day thinking about it on and off trying to decide whether I liked the way they concluded or not. Then it dawned on me-yes I do. I can conclude that because it left me kind of unsure. Anytime a movie or TV show can do that to me is a good sign.

Example-I watched the showing of Inside Man the other day on HBO. I like Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, etc. The end of the movie left me very meh. Nothing to think about. No deep, "what was that?" but rather a disgusted, "What was that?"

Nice that this season of Lost has attracted my son's viewing as well. So we graduated from flashbacks to flash forwards. OK-I'll leave it at that and not spoil. hate when that happens to me. Nice to see some quality TV programming in day and age where it is so far and few between.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Living vicariously...remembering

I mentioned previously that some friends will be coming over from the States and the time is almost here. I was on the phone(can''t believe I said that-in fact Skype with video) with Paul and getting excited for him. I took advantage of the Net and prepped him with multimedia links on where we'd be going and in what order. The web makes it much easier for someone to mentally prepare due to it's virtual nature. I'm getting excited for my friends because all the places I'll be taking them and Asia and Taiwan are totally new to them. Having Moo Shu Pork from the local take-out joint in Tyson Corners not nearly as far down the rabbit hole as coming here in person.

So Lukang, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung Jade Market(old one by the park), Confucius temple, Computer Alley(they're geeks), NOVA, Sun Moon Lake, Luku, Sanyi and Sheng Shin get ready for us. Hopefully will be rockin' my new video camera during visit. Hoping recent rains haven't done too much damage in any of these areas and that we can keep in the sunshine mode for a while. Don't know about the rest of you Taiwan long-term residents but Typhoon season is a drain on me.

This one for free-I remember one time way back when the McDonalds by Taichung Park ran out of french fries during teh early AM hours when the pub crawlers are about. That totally messed with my head, like Lukang food stands being out of oysters or cow tongue pastries. Ninja what??

Thursday, August 16, 2007

China keeps making the news

These last few months there have been successive news stories on China product quality and safety regarding poor construction or wrong materials (harmful in some cases) being added as cost cutting measures or due to negligence.

In my almost 20 years in Taiwan, I've seen similar scenarios. More earlier on, less as of late fortunately. Most of the production we do is fairly technically oriented and doesn't merit going to China or uses proprietary materials we compound here. I've encountered just about every different situation you can imagine involving colleagues in house and suppliers outside.

I would really encourage buyers that deal in technical or industrial components and products to consider Taiwan over China and achieve greater peace of mind. China's quality awareness level and ability will rise over time. Taiwan's proficiency did as well and therefore is an excellent source for supplying sophisticated photonics, optics, and technical electronics.

Kudos to Terry Gou (郭台銘) for recent WSJ article on Foxconn here. While they have most assembly and many components done in China, they are still producing a lot here and adding to Taiwan's continued role in high tech design. Alas, still no IPhone love here in Taiwan but I'm dreaming on my Nokia 95.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Asian Variations

My buddy Moshang/Jean Marais has just released a nice compilation of remixes he's done. It's called Asian Variations and is available for free legal download under Creative Commons license. Please download it and if you enjoy it kindly tell your friends to download as well. Jean lives here in Taichung and is available for interview if you have interest. Here is link to most recent interview/music podcast I did with Jean.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Virtual supports the actual

Trébol Azul
I have bunches of web (virtual friends) from all over the globe. Some I have met (very few) and some I'll be meeting soon like Paul and Martha here. Last night had the privilege of meeting Michael Turton and his family. Yes, that Michael-the dean of Taiwan English language bloggers. Good time and good food. We'll be continuing this conversation.

The morale of the story-virtual is great, the Net is a great connectivity platform. It's the personal connections/conversations that count the most.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gotta love that Twitter

The other day I got an add request from some guy named Robert. Funny thing is his name kind of rings a bell. Another Twitter friend Susan had asked him about storm(typhoon) in Japan and did he know of impact on Taiwan... Turns out Robert is doing similar thing to what I'm doing in Taiwan but in Japan. Independent business man with passion for new media and now new friend. My Twitter is here, please feel free to add me.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Composite exposure through conversation

François @
If you read heading and scratched your head, please allow me to explain. I came to Taiwan with no direct manufacturing experience or knowledge of what were composite(carbon fiber, fiberglass, kevlar-based etc.) products. For that matter many of the brand name quality products made in Taiwan totally missed my radar. Hold on-I need to clarify. The products didn't miss my radar the fact that they were made in Taiwan did. Prior to coming to Taiwan and working for a US-owned sporting goods factory I never noticed the fine print on all the fishing rods, golf shafts, tennis rackets, bicycles,etc. The Made-in-Taiwan was a real eye opener to me and caused me to think differently towards Taiwan products and capabilities and what was the nationality of a branded-product. I'm digressing here and promise to get back to brand nationality at a later post.

So how did conversation get me involved in composite product manufacturing? Well it started with a trip to Lukang while I was still living in Taipei. That was one of my first trips way outside of Taipei into the Taiwan countryside. I got to Lukang and toured around checking out all the temples, basket makers, temple lantern and paper fan makers,etc. I loved the place and was happy to get away from the stress of Taipei even for a couple of days. On the way back some guy parked his car, got out and said,"ahh, people." I understood knowing he meant other English speaking westerners. Turns out he didn't speak any Chinese or Taiwanese and certainly didn't read any either.

I showed him around, found out he was the GM of the above mentioned sporting goods factory and got a ride up to Taichung with him. Seemed that old traditional style Taiwanese houses with 3 sides and a courtyard was our contact point. I mentioned I loved them and he countered with, "well if you come work for us, we have one on the factory grounds in Tantzu." We continued our conversation over dinner parted company and stayed in touch. Within 6o days I moved down to Taichung and began my experience with composite fiber production and production control.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Another typhoon bites the dust

Not complaining here by any means. Fortunately Pabuk was of minor consequence. Not much wind here in Taichung and some needed rain. The sun set last night was splendid, of course I didn't have my camera handy... Don't want to be overly gleeful here, still plenty of typhoon season left. No joy in having water and food supplies disrupted. It was fun doing podcast with actual typhoon sounds a couple of years back though here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Salty Fruit, TP on table etc.

Foreshadowing: The China Airlines stewardess on my flight over to Taiwan, was very friendly and attentive. Strangely, my request for ice-water produced "ice-less" warm water. When I asked her why she replied, "cold water is not good for you. Warm water is much better."

The first time someone in the office bought fruit I was real excited to have some. I picked up a piece of watermelon, put it in my mouth and tasted the sweet flesh with a strange salty taste as well. I was quite surprised and asked my colleague what was up with that-she smiled and replied, 'salt brings out the sweetness of the fruit and it's better that way."

I remember being quite surprised when one of my colleagues would belch like clockwork every morning after he ate his breakfast at his seat. Strangely I was the only one that would look up.

One of the local eateries near the office, a simple noodle stand would have rolls of toilet paper on top of each table for diners to wipe their hands and mouths with.

So what is my point? The initial shock and dismay was due to 2 cultures colliding. Neither right, and neither wrong but just different in numerous ways. I still love cold water especially during summer time but also drink much more hot tea and soups.I still prefer the fruit without salt but can eat it with, if no other choice. If I do belch out loud (if being the key word) in the presence of a westerner, I quickly excuse myself. Initially, the rolls of tissue or what we call toilet paper seemed really wrong on the table, but it is paper and does work.

Monday, August 6, 2007

No Problem...

Photo byamalthya

First business memory in Taiwan. I was working for the trading company introduced to me by some business friends from OH. While meeting with prospective client from Singapore I answered one of his queries, "no problem." He then asked me how long I've been living in Taiwan. I told him for about 1 month. He then shook his head and said to me, "Every time a Taiwanese person tells me "no problem" I begin to worry."

Tagline explananation

"Making Sense for Cents"-while I don't literally work for pennies, I am very happy to consider any project where enough of "them" are involved. Making sense is what I do in the broadest sense of my work-of the customer's design or objectives, of manufacturing partners capabilities and assessment of task at hand, etc.

Purpose for Blog

Photo by Furyk

  • Made up of distinct components; compound.
  • Mathematics. Having factors; factorable.
  • A structure or an entity made up of distinct components. See synonyms at mixture.
  • A complex material, such as wood or fiberglass, in which two or more distinct, structurally complementary substances, especially metals, ceramics, glasses, and polymers, combine to produce structural or functional properties not present in any individual component.
In essence my life for the last 20 years. Compounding everything I learned and experienced in the US before coming here with what I learned in Taiwan particularly via culture, manufacturing (much with composites as fate would have it),etc.

I would expect that I'll be reflecting/commenting here mostly on cultural/business observations derived from my experience.