Archive for the 'travelogue' Category

Scooter Commuting Vista

Scooter Lights

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Taipei, on the bottom of Fuxing North Road. I was stopped at a light and waiting for it to change. It was nearing to the end of the count. As usual, more and more scooters and cars tried to get through before the lights changed to red. This was on a Saturday, so traffic was somewhat light compared to the rush hour. The light changed, and I was ready to go, when I saw that more scooters were trying to get through. Some of them thought that they could go through the light, but obviously couldn’t. Traffic started moving, and one girl was driving too fast for her own good. She tried to turn away from the traffic, but hit another scooter. Then she hit the pavement. She was wearing a helmet, but it wasn’t a full face helmet. Luckily she wasn’t going too fast. I left to run my errands.

Stuff like that happens all of the time in Taipei. People aren’t careful enough when riding their scooters and rarely wear enough protection. These things go fast. My new scooter reaches 110 kph, pretty quickly.

Living in Taiwan 5 Years Later

Lotus Lake, Kaoshiung

Many people ask me if I love Taiwan. I don’t. However, there are good and bad things about living in Asia.

First and foremost, we paid off all of our debts. Both my wife and I went back to school fulltime and continued working fulltime, something that wasn’t possible in the US/Canada. We’ve since amassed more debt since we bought a duplex in Illinois (it’s a fixer-upper).

I wouldn’t want to do anything but teach in Taiwan, because schedules can be quite hectic in the corporate sector. I’m not interested in that. Neither was I ever interested in going back into programming and web design for a Taiwanese company.

Continue reading ‘Living in Taiwan 5 Years Later’

June 13 to 19 2011

Beginning of clear days

I had some excess photos this week, so I’m posting them here. It was good week, somewhat busy and wet, as usual. Next week is the last week of school, but I’m immediately starting a paid math research project with my advisor, which is kind of cool. We’ll be exploring Sobolev spaces and the elasticity of some equations, numerically modeled in MATLAB.

Continue reading ‘June 13 to 19 2011′

Three Cackling Birds

Old World Babbler

On a Monday morning, I was greeted by three cackling birds, sitting on my balcony. I heard them as soon as I woke up. Waking up is strange. It’s like when you emerge out of water. The sounds and sights are all muffled and blurred. You make your way back into reality. Slowly, the world comes back and you start hearing things again. I noticed that I start hearing things first before seeing them, because my eyes are usually closed.

One of them had a cockroach in his mouth, which he quickly dropped, because he was quite excited. They all were. He tried to get it back, but it had fallen down to the ground floor. I like on the 4th. They were all cackling along, to each other and at me. My pets were looking at them strangely, especially my cat Yoda. She didn’t like them and wanted to pounce on them. She started making the strangest sounds.

The birds continued cackling while I continued with my morning routine. When I went out to walk the dog, they flew to another balcony, and promptly came back to cackle some more. They were still on my balcony when I left for work. They stayed in our courtyard for a few hours. They must have been someone’s pet birds. Maybe they had escaped. Their wings weren’t clipped.

Their cackling was quite loud, not melodic, and they seemed to be having a jolly old time. Spike wasn’t too bothered, but the cat definitely wanted to hunt them down. While it seemed quite harmless, it made me feel somewhat weary for most of the week. I’m not superstitious, but it was strange waking up that way. It was also eerie the way that they stayed at my window for so long. For some reason, I imagined them outside the frosted glass of my bedroom window, which is on the other side of the apartment. I’m not sure about this, but it could have just been the loudness of their cackling.

I was on edge, but nothing happened. It was just another random encounter of life.

Six Snarling Stray Dogs

Six snarling stray dogs came at me and Spike this afternoon while I was walking Spike. They went for Spike, who was pleasantly going about his business at the park. They acted like a hunting pack and were growling, snarling, and snapping. When I saw them approach and surround my Frenchie Spike, who was off leash, I ran at them, shouting and swearing loudly, using my umbrella to scare them.

And scare them I did. They ran off, almost as quickly as they appeared. I pursued them until they were gone. Umbrellas work well with strays, who are usually scared of them and run away. Most strays are scaredy cats; they’ve grown used to men harming them, so they stay away from people who make noise and have umbrellas or sticks.

I realized I hadn’t been afraid and I’d be damned if some ruthless strays would hurt my Frenchie. Spike didn’t move during the exchange. He’s a dominant dog, but he knew that he was outnumbered. They didn’t hurt him either. One of them snapped at his neck and jowls, but I started my charge before they drew blood. Maybe I should have yelled ‘Sparta’.

The Persians

On my way home from school on Thursday, after having filled up Die Rote Zora with 98 octane, I saw a girl holding her Persian cat. It was partly orange and had big green eyes. It barely moved in her arms. I was at a red light. The cat got too heavy for the girl, who was about 10, and she gave it to her mommy. They crossed the street and I’ll probably never see them again.

I always like going to the vet’s because his place is always swarming with animals. He’s got a few nice cats, including a grey Persian, who loves to get a pet. They are usually all over the place and it’s quite entertaining to watch. It’s almost like cat reality TV.

My cat is like that from time to time, but she’s definitely got some annoying qualities. She gets very vocal, but at least with me home, she doesn’t wake me up during the night. She just loves getting attention, but she’s got a strange way of going about this.

2004 Yamaha Cygnus X 125cc

2004 Yamaha Cygnux X

I handed over Green Kelly last Thursday for the final tune-ups. She had started to grow on me over the last week, and except for a few tweaks here and there, she was fine.

The scooter shop owner handed over a 2004 Yamaha Cygnus 125cc as a loaner. I’m currently thinking about trading in Green Kelly for this scooter. When I first rode it, I was somewhat surprised. It’s got good early acceleration, but then it tapers off midway and only comes back in force once you hit max speed. This scooter weighs somewhat more than the Yamaha Forte, but it feels a lot stabler at mid to high speeds. It feels quite solid at higher speeds, and the bumps in the road seem less of an issue.

Continue reading ’2004 Yamaha Cygnus X 125cc’

Winnie & Spike

When I arrived at the dog park today, Winnie was there. Winnie is a young Frenchie bitch that behaves strangely around Spike. I was curious to see how she would react to him. Initially, they were fine together, albeit somewhat testy. Once Winnie’s owner started petting Spike, things went awry. Winnie started barking at Spike, furiously. My guess is that she was jealous and didn’t want Spike around, stealing her mistress’ affections.

She continued to bark and turn around Spike for a while. It was funny when it started out, because she kept at it, even when Spike chased her away. As a full blown male Frenchie, the dominant one of his litter, meaning that he was also the largest, Spike rarely backs down, unless it’s from significantly larger dogs. I’ve seen him cower only a few times, and that was when he was facing an adult Rottweiler.

After a while, it stopped being funny. I could see that Spike was getting weary. In fact, he got quickly tired and started walking home. That was definitely a first. He will usually indicate when he’s finished and ask me to go home, but this time, he started walking away. I went after him and put the leash on. We continued our walk and left Winnie in peace.

Spike is a pretty laid back dog. He’s very friendly to everyone, and has never bitten anyone either. He will defend himself though, even against larger dogs. None of the Frenchies that I have seen in Taiwan are breed standard. Their chests aren’t large enough, which makes me think that they have been interbred with Boston Terriers, but I’m not sure of this. None of them have papers from the AKC or CKC. Spike does, as a purebred championship French Bulldog.

Life at the Small Dog Park

I still take Spike out every day to the dog park. The membership has slightly altered over the last year. Most of the people who used to come don’t come together anymore. This is down to an annoying dog owner, who was referred to as a “hick” by another Taiwanese. It was implied that she was ignorant of a lot of things. I don’t see her anymore. The language encapsulated her hickness from me.

This means that most nights, Spike hangs out withe a bunch of playful Border Collies, who are quite nice dogs. There’s Star, who’s got a genetically cued herding instinct, and keeps circling other dogs in an effort to herd them. When it doesn’t go her way, she gets really annoyed.

Most nights, I take the time to visit the terrier club that meets every night. I’ve known them for a while and I’ve noticed that Spike, the old dog that he is, likes to interact with them more than with bigger dogs. When Spike was younger, he enjoyed playing around with the big dogs. The big dogs play rough. At around 7 years old, Spike likes it easier.

There is a small poodle named Ciao Pan who keeps porking any bitch that is his size. He is relentless and will screw her for hours if possible. There’s Cue Cue, who keeps wanting to play with an injured terrier. The owner keeps him in his arms, and Cue Cue as well as Ciao Pan keep jumping up on the owner, trying to get to the terrier. They are also relentless in this. It makes me laugh, and I don’t hide that. It’s definitely funny seeing a small fluffy white dog screwing another dog. The other terrier owners try to take their dogs away, but the poodle keeps at it.

Cultural Vista: The Young Rich Neighbor

There’s a young man from a family on the ground floor who used to drive a Honda CRV. It was slightly pimped out and new. Recently, he exchanged the CRV for a Mercedes-Benz C class with Brabus decals and wheels, as well as another Merc, a CLK. Both cars are from a few years ago. The man is in his twenties and I haven’t figured out what he does. His house is the Cat Factory. The man and his family are quite nice, always saying hello and responding to me.

I still wonder what he does.


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ranjitwithkinginbehand.jpgI'm Range, your host. On the menu, photos, art, stories, entertainment and reviews. Links, maths, education and social issues. I'm in Quebec (Canada) or Taiwan (R.O.C.). Follow me on Twitter.

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