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.