Twitter from Taipei

With the recent craze being all about uber-short updates in the third person (a la facebook status and twitter), I thought I would give said format a try. You know me: always pushing the blogging limits. (Oh, and click on the little pictures to get big pictures.)
Wren could get used to dumplings for breakfast. (Sunday 8:32 am)
Wren is pround of his public transportation skillz, esp. when he doesn't speak the language. (Sunday 9:49 am)
Wren realizes too late that a weekend is a bad time to visit the National Palace Museum. (Sunday 10:52 am)
Wren is grateful for the numerous and amazingly calming parks throughout Taipei. (Sunday 11:28 am)
Wren is afraid that the discovery of a $0.12 dumpling place could lead to a nasty addiction. (Sunday 12:18 pm)
Wren is a sucker for engineering marvels*. (Sunday 1:55 pm)
Wren wishes he had fog/smog/haze penetrating vision (but at least isn't afraid of heights). (Sunday 2:12 pm)
Wren's legs are tired from a heck of a lot of walking*. (Sunday 5:45 pm)
Wren is stoked to be going shrimping! (Sunday 6:29 pm)
Wren caught one. (Sunday 8:14 pm)
Wren is one satisfied hosteller*. (Sunday 11:03 pm)

Monday February 23 2009File under: travel, Taiwan

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A Taiwanese Wedding

While it has been said before, I want to add my heartiest congratulations to Bob and Nicole, and wish them many many years of happiness together. They were married (Taiwanese style) last night here in Taipei and I had the honor of attending.

Never been to a traditional Taiwanese wedding? It is different. Disco lights, constume changes (3 for the bride), an M.C., not a word of english (except the occasional "Bob" dropped here and there), and food that I was glad I couldn't identify. (A local woman at our table tried to convince us we were eating pig ankle and chicken butt. I believed her.)* There were replacements for the traditions I'm familiar with (throwing the boquet became this ribbon tying affair that involved all the single ladies) and then traditions that were far above my western head.

And while I might not have understood it all, I was grateful to be there to witness and support Bob and Nicole in their union.
Saturday February 21 2009File under: travel, Taiwan

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That First Step

For me, the hardest part of travel isn't the language barrier, the uncertainity of where I will sleep that night, or overcoming fear of the unknown (although none of these things is particularly easy). The hardest part is the first step; walking out the door with everything I need, hoping that I've taken care of everything that needs my attention, hoping that I'm not getting myself in over my head, questioning if this is what I should be doing, trusting that it will all be okay. Once that first step is taken, my doubts and fears almost fade away, because I know whether I forgot to pack something, forgot to do something, gotten in over my head or whatever, there is nothing I can do about it now.

So I've completed the hardest part (not without hestitation, etc.). I'm here in Taipei. And the first half-day of romaing did away with what lingering doubts and fears there may have been. There is just so much neat stuff to see: Scoot Scoot's relatives, delicious new treats, and culture, culture, culture.
Thursday February 19 2009File under: travel, Taiwan

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Grenada Slideshow

One of the best things to do when returning from a trip is to review photos. For me, it helps me recapture a bit of the adventure and wonder when it is usually quite needed. (Post-vacation blues is no laughing matter). I went back and forth on whether to do a slideshow set to music or a captioned, proceed-at-your-own-pace slideshow. Since I am too lazy to write clever* captions and all the fancy javascript to go along with the latter option, I opted for the former. I hope you like it.

Many thanks to Maggie for letting me pull from her photos in addition to mine. Any really good photo was probably taken by her. Oh, and Sean, the star wipe at the end is just for you. Oh2, and I used Vimeo instead of YouTube this time because YouTube didn't like that I was using copyrighted music for the soundtrack. Alas.
Wednesday January 14 2009File under: video, travel

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Racing the Waters

Of the 5 legs of this most recent journey, 4 of them have been effected by mostly weather-related delays. I guess that is part of winter travel. Luckily none of them were catastrophic and one or two of them were even for the best. This last leg, however, was by far the most adventurous.

After spending a great 4 days in Portland thanks to friends new and old, I decided it was time to make my way home*. I looked forward to the train ride as a time to wind down and reflect on my trip and how incredible it was*. The weather gods, however, decided that my time on a train was not meant to be. Mud slides between Seattle and Portland had all but canceled all trains out of Portland for the next 3 days. Luckily, my travel mate and I are the unruffle-able types and took it as a adventure.

We found a friend who graciously let us borrow his vehicle* and we set off northward. The top of the hour newscast, followed by calls from concerned friends and family, alerted us to what might be our next hurdle: floods were expected to close I-5, and soon. After a discussion of whether to turn back and possible contingency plans, we pressed on. Freeway off ramps were closed as we raced by because everything below the level of the freeway was underwater. We saw police and highway workers getting ready to close down the last open land route between Portland and Seattle. As we looked in the rear-view mirror after passing the worst of it, a call came on the phone announcing that the freeway is now closed. We were among the last 100 cars to get through.

While the rest of the ride wasn't totally stress-free (heavy rains and dangerous puddles made for a bit of a white knuckle experience), we were glad when we crossed onto Fidalgo Island safely. Now as I listen to news of road closures, evacuation notices, and river stages I think about 1) the awesome power of Mother Nature 2) that it is good to be reminded that, despite what we want to think, we are still at the mercy of our environment 3) how glad I am to live in a place where the perennial disasters (fire, flood, drought, etc.) have so far avoided and 4) how glad I am to be home safe and sound.
Thursday January 8 2009File under: travel

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Communal Meals

The first thing I'm told when I walk in Andrew's door in Portland is "We've got dinner plans". Not being one to eschew meal plans, I dumped my bags and headed back out into the [relatively] cold northwest weather. Dinner was homemade tamales with lots of extras at a friend's house. Many people gathered together to cook, chat, eat, flirt, and discuss the finer points of converting a client-side database to be server-based. The following two meals the next day were much the same way: food gets cooked, friends descend, fun ensues.

Yes, these Portland dwellers do it right*. The idea of coming together for a shared meal is one that warms me to the core. Good people combined with good food: I'm afraid that's a hard one to beat.
Tuesday January 6 2009File under: travel, food

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Recognize This House

Do you recognize this house? Here is another view. Not right off? How about if you removed the bushes? Replaced the gravelled front yard with grass? Painted it pinkish yellow? Added a nerdy yet do-goody neighbor? Does it ring a visual bell now? (Here is a visualization). Still not seeing it? Here is your final hint.

Back in 1997(ish), a house was built using T.V.'s the Simpson's home as a model. The house was then given away in some crazy promotion. I vaguely remember hearing about the contest back then. Well, on this most recent visit to the Las Vegas area, I sought it out and took my typically nerdy picture. With the change in landscape, paint color, etc. it is hardly worth being a destination in itself, but since I was just out cruising around, it was a good way to kill the time. Plus, it complements my last Las Vegas Simpsons experience well*.
Sunday January 4 2009File under: travel

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Freemont Street Experience

One thing you might not think of when thinking about Las Vegas is free shows. Sure there are pricey cirque d' soleil shows, fancy showgirls shows, and once-in-a-lifetime Bette Midler shows, but there is lots of free entertainment too, if you know where to look: the water show at the Bellagio, the pirate show at Treasure Island, the circus shows at Circus Circus, the animatronic Zeus show at Cesaer's Palace, etc. While each of them have their charm, my vote for best free show in Vegas is the Freemont Street Experience.

Freemont Street in downtown* Vegas is a pedistrian mall with older (yet not unfancy) casinos lining it. Covering about 3 blocks of the mall is a giant dome* which, in the evenings, turns into a giant screen displaying what I can only describe as a crazy music video collage. We saw Don McClean's American Pie and one with the music of Queen. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, I suggest checking it out. It'll make you feel better about all that money you lost at the roulette wheel.
Friday January 2 2009File under: travel

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New Years Eve in Las Vegas

New Year's Eve in Las Vegas: People everywhere. Streets blocked off. More booze than usual. More lights than usual. Motorcycle stunts. Police keeping tabs on everything. Families gathered to revel together. Fireworks from everywhich direction. All in all, energy abounding: electric, chemical, and human.

Or so I heard. I was in bed by 9:30 and hardly stirred when the fireworks went off right outside my hotel. Jet lag coupled with cruisers lag* left me one tired cookie. (Sleeping through the big moment also means I'm up to 11 years on my no kiss at midnight streak. Yes, ladies, that is a challenge.)

Anyway, to each of you I send you my hopes for the best possible 2009 ever.
Thursday January 1 2009File under: travel

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Juggling n Travelling

A good traveler knows how to pack light. I think I am pretty good about it*. But one thing I've included in my international travel bag of late is four dube airflite juggling clubs. (For those who don't know, juggling clubs aren't small.) But for the joy they bring me and the opportunities they provide, they are totally worth it.

First, juggling is a great way to past time on the beach, or a park, or a train station, or anywhere you've got time to kill. But beach juggling is the best. Also, it is a great way to meet locals. They'll see you carrying your clubs around and ask for an impromptu show and then share a smile*. Or sometimes it is a little different connection. Juggling builds bridges. Finally, you never know when a little entertainment will be called for. At the Boxing Day Jam Session, I took along my clubs and gave the gathered cruisers a bit of a show. Good times.

Yep, I break a few packing rules by dragging my juggling equipment along, but it is totally worth it.

(P.S. This whole post is just an elaborate excuse to post this picture of Joya trying to imitate me by balancing a club on her head. So cute!)
Monday December 29 2008File under: travel, juggling

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