Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Beers of the Week

I'm going to drink each and every one of these that I can...hopefully without having to share ;)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

An Amazing Bird Formation

I believe the link on Yahoo! indicated that this was a flock of Starlings. I just find it remarkable how they move around like some kind of amalgam jellyfish! Nature is just wild!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Peer Gynt in Wonderland

As the result of our recent trip to Australia (more on that later), Melanie and I decided to pursue our renewed interest in attending symphony orchestra performances by checking into what sort of concerts were available here in Taiwan.

It was thus that we went over to the National Concert Hall here in Taipei on April 5, 2008 to see what we had expected to be a traditional interpretation of Peer Gynt. That was our first mistake.

For those of you that may not be familiar with Peer Gynt, odds are that while you might not know why this name should sound familiar to you, there is a very good chance that you know many of the songs from this symphony. Especially for those of you who grew up watching the old Warner Brothers cartoons (like Bugs Bunny, etc.), songs such as Morning Mood and In The Hall Of The Mountain King will most certainly ring a bell within the first few bars.

In preparation for this concert, both Melanie and I did a little bit of research online to learn more about the story. The idea of an anti-hero and trolls and belly dancers was all very intriguing, so we were both full of anticipation.

Anyway, getting back to our experience here in Taipei...

To start it all off, we (I) began to suspect that the evening would not go as planned when, as we approached the concert hall, we noticed a distinctly high concentration of children being accompanied by their parents. Melanie later admitted after the show that she had an inkling of what we were in for when, after she had just purchased the tickets from the box office (where, she insists I add, Chinese was exclusively written and spoken), she noticed the word "Choreographer" in the credits of an advertisement as she was heading back home.

For me, I would have to say that things were more clear when we went in and saw that it was pretty much mostly children, running and screaming through the aisles, jumping up and down on the chairs, and staring at the two of us like we were fresh off the mothership in Roswell ("Look, Ma! Foreigners!!!"). Everything crystallized when the MC came out dressed like a giant red rhinoceros beetle.

I will spare you the details of what I was personally subjected to for the next two hours; however, I will offer a brief stream-of-consciousness rant in an attempt to capture the gestalt of the whole experience.

Kids. Ballet with distinctly Chinese movement forms. Butterflies, Beetles, and Bees. Crazy MC in a Rhinoceros beetle outfit. Absolutely intended for an audience of small children. Moral message at the end that combined a commentary between filial piety and the importance of not being an arrogant braggart with little regard for the concerns of others.

The MC did a great job of engaging the kids and explaining the message. Great approach to getting kids involved in different forms of storytelling, the theater and the symphony. Not so great when you're all dressed up for a night of "Serious Music", as the Hungarians would say.

It was surreal watching wings and antennae fall off. Initially tried blocking out the dancers, but the sounds of their footfalls during their leaps and prances ruined any possibility of success there.

So, there you have it. Our night of culture. Next time, perhaps we (Melanie) will do a little (lot) more research before we do something similar. In hindsight, it was a fun and surreal and enjoyable and educational experience that was definitely worth doing once.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I had a fantastically surreal conversation with one of my colleagues recently.

Just to properly paint the picture here, he is a well educated engineer, currently living with his nuclear family in Shanghai. However, he hails from a village far, far away from Shanghai - both in geography and urbanity - and he often makes me smile with his (at least for me) unique stories and perspectives.

So, my colleague was visiting out Taiwan office from his China office on a business trip, just before Chinese New Year. The team took him out for a nice dinner on one of those nights, and we had an interesting evening of conversation covering topics ranging from travel during Chinese New Year (you've heard the stories) to political party associations (turns out he's a card carrying member of the party) to the US election, etc.

Somehow, and I think this might have been over the third or fourth glass of plum wine, the conversation took a distinctly surreal left turn.

My colleague made the assertion that people that have, at some point in their lives, ridden a dog like a horse will find that it will rain on their wedding day.

That's right - riding a dog will make it rain when you get married.

Dog riding = rain on wedding day

It sounded (and continued to sound) like crazy talk, but then when we went around the table to try and disprove this theory, we soon discovered a direct 1-to-1 correlation. Those of us (that's right - I said "us" - I was 8 years old, so back off) that had ridden a dog at some point in our lives did have rain on our wedding days, and those that had not found the air dry when they uttered their I Do's.

I have since asked several people the two questions that just don't seem to go together, and have continued to come up against the fact that the correlation has remained defiantly present and unimpeachable. It's not even that the people that I have asked have exclusively stayed off the backs of dogs - you would really be surprised how many people have tried it when they were young.

So, in an effort to gather more data in a scientific manner, I have decided to put this survey to you (my audience of 2) to see if you can help me shed any further light on this topic...

RESOLVED: Riding dogs is tantamount to doing a rain dance.

Please use the voting feature on the side-bar to help me to either prove or disprove this theory. Feel free to encourage any other folks you might know to also fill out this survey, and feel free to leave any comments or anecdotes that might help us figure this crazy situation out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

If You Can't Laugh At Yourself...

I always appreciate it when people have a good sense of humor. This video was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, and it really cracked me up.