My New Daily Routine

Usual art supply suspects: Tombow ABT, Sakura Pigma

For the month of July, my daily routine wasn’t that filled up. I still worked about 8 hours a day, but it was nothing to write home about. Now, for the month of August and probably for the rest of the year, I’ll be following this routine, which includes 35 hours/week of teaching, 10-15 hours/week on writing, 10-20 hours/week on my business, Asterisk*Cycles.

The trick in surviving grueling routines and long days are power naps as well as little pockets of goodness, which are easily wasted if you aren’t careful.

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Traffic Signs: Better Late Than Never!

Traffic signs are a problem in Taiwan

Why? Because people don’t tend to follow them. This photo was taken in the MRT.

Scooter Culture

There’s one thing that you quickly learn while living in Asia, it’s a scooter-based culture. After a while, you see that car drivers, lorry drivers, and taxi drivers all drive like scooters. It’s one of the most absurd things that I noticed. While I’m sure that there are plenty of good drivers in Taiwan, I’m just impressed at how badly some of them drive. It’s just obscene.

In the last two weeks alone, I’ve seen about 5 scooter-based accidents. It’s quite horrific to see. My last accident was last summer and I ended up somersaulting over the hood of a Mercedez-Benz, whose driver had cut me off, from oncoming traffice: he was a kid coming from the opposite side and crossed the double line, meaning that I had nowhere else to go but over his hood. Luckily, I had my motorcycle jacket, helmet, and thick gloves on. I quickly learned that being sweaty is the price to pay for being safe.

I have never sustained an injury while driving my scooter in the last 4 years. I have been in one accident and a few scrapes and falls, but since I wear a reinforced motorcycle jacket, it just rolls off. I also wear thick jeans and hiking boots.

While I do admit that I drive fast, as fast as possible sometimes, I am quite safe. I stay away from the taxi drivers, buses, and slower scooter drivers by staying ahead. There’s always some drivers who are faster than I am and I never try to keep up with them. I always stay at my speed and weave my way through traffic.

Since I drive as fast as I can, it’s probably good that I only have a 125cc scooter. Ideally, I’d upgrade to a PGO 200cc or a Kymco Ego 250cc, or even a real 500-600cc motorcycle, but since I’ll only be staying 1 or 2 more years here, it’s a waste of money.

There’s an art at staying safe while driving fast. The trick is not to drive too fast, especially in heavy traffic.

Taiwan Land of the Four Eyes

My new Gucci eyeglasses

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I stopped at the usual optometrist store. I bought the cleaning solution, AO Sept, that I use for my disposable lenses. I use the liquid every day, since I take out my contacts every night, ―sometimes I only wear them for a few hours. It fizzes and bubbles the accumulated proteins away, letting me easily use a disposable Acuvue daily for a few months. I didn’t take this route lightly. Johnson & Johnson was sued by people in the US because their daily products were the same as their monthly disposable contact lenses. The only difference was that you pay a lot more for the monthly ones.

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Taiwanese Bureaucracies & Dragon Age

Dragon slayer via Mugley


I’ve got issues with bureaucracies. In the past, a few years ago, it actually made me quite angry. I’m not like that anymore, but it just gets frustrating. Today, the plan was simple. Pick up my health check, get some documents from NTNU and go to the NIA office. This was what I was told to do. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was informed that I didn’t have the measles antigen, so I would need to be vaccinated. $20 and half an hour later, it was done. The woman from whom I had to pick up the health check realized that a part of my health check wasn’t done. She wanted me to come back next week. I saw no deal. I came to the hospital on the 17th to get it done. I was only here for a pick up. Now she wanted me to wait even longer?

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Parks Are Filled With Siberian Huskies

Female Siberian husky, exactly like the one I found today


Today was somewhat laid-back. I took my dog for a walk and suddenly, I came upon a beautiful Siberian husky with clear blue eyes. He was docile and playful, and his leash was still on him. He followed us around a bit and Spike quite liked him. I looked around for an owner, but none materialized. This dog was not fixed, but seemed to have been well taken care of. I couldn’t see any sores, scars, or marks on him. He was also extremely friendly.

I took his leash and not knowing exactly what to do, took him with me. I tried dropping him off at a friend’s place. They had four dogs before, two of them huskies, but now they have only 3. I thought that they could do something, but they weren’t home. Chad’s girlfriend Kate is Taiwanese and knows the area well, so she’d be able to phone people around to find out who his owner was.

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Back At School

It’s good to be back at school. I missed most of last week because I was teaching 30 hours. I didn’t miss much³, but I felt terrible. In the future, I won’t want to miss any school at all. My classmates were actually worried about me, which was kind of nice.

I ran some errands.

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Measure Theory and Disposable Teachers

Wheeden and Zygmunds book
Wheeden and Zygmund's book


I’ve been working hard this week at learning more about measure theory. It’s a really interesting research subject and there are quite a few things that I didn’t know about it. In class, we are currently seeing the Lebesgue measure and topics. I’ve read up on the Borel, Haar, Radon, and Daniell measures.

I’ve got quite a few books in this area, including Paul Halmos’ Measure Theory¹ that I got for $6. The Measure and Integral² book that is used in my real analysis class is finally available. I have it photocopied, but I’d rather buy it. It’s a bit more expensive, but not that much. It’s $46. Einstein has it for $69.

The real analysis professor spends 3hrs a week copying that book onto the blackboard. It’s really strange. He doesn’t give any further examples and quite a few of my classmates abandoned the class after the first week.

As I mentioned before, the classes are what you make of them. At my level, having a great professor doesn’t really matter, unless he’s my thesis adviser. I’m actually lucky that 2 out of my 3 profs are good. Since I am going to specialize in analysis, probably abstract analysis and topology, the real analysis class is fundamental to my mathematical development, as it introduces all sorts of concepts that were probably not seen at an undergraduate level. We’ve started the Lebesgue integral and I hadn’t seen it before.

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Failing At Buying Class Books

I tried and failed at trying to get Complex Variables by Berenstein & Gay in Springer Verlag today. I didn’t really know where to go and none of the places I went to had any books. I should have just gone back to the one that my classmate showed me.

I checked online and the original hardcover of this book retails for about $100. I wonder how much it will cost here. I’ve learned that counter fitting is rife in the universities, as students are pretty poor. They can’t pay for books. Usually, they will borrow the book from a library, drop it off at a copy shop and have them copy it as well as bind it. The results are good but I prefer buying originals, as I see these books as reference for later things.

The other side of this is that there are actually real looking counterfeit books that are available here. They have been printed here and are extremely cheap. I paid $13 for Principles of Mathematical Analysis by Walter Rudin. It’s a counterfeit book, but looks pretty good. I don’t mind that. The other was is actually an original from Springer Verlag. It’s Topology by Klaus Jänich. I paid $22 for this one.

The bad part was that none of those books were actually class books. Oh well, I was looking for Measure and Integral by Wheeden and Zygmund and Real and Complex Analysis by Rudin.

While I was at ESLite, I saw Dan Brown’s latest book, The Lost Symbol. At the last moment, before leaving the library, I bought it. It was only $20. I almost bought Day Watch by Sergey Lukyanenko and Vladimir Vasilyev. I saw Twilight Watch right beside it, but then I decided that I still had to read Night Watch again before starting out on those books.

I also struck out on getting Kafka on the Shore by Murakami and more Palahniuk novels. I could spend hours in book stores and art supply stores.

For some reason, I escaped the rain. I have been using my scooter as a locker. It’s much more convenient to put my motorcycle jacket in my scooter. However, it’s already packed to the rafters with my rain gear, that I absolutely need, and an umbrella. I’ve gotten tired of always getting wet. Strangely enough, if I compact it enough, the jacket fits in pretty snugly into the compartment.

Spending Time Offline

The Reality Dysfunction cover painting, part 1 of 3 of Nights Dawn
The Reality Dysfunction cover painting, part 1 of 3 of Night's Dawn

Over the last few days, I’ve spent more and more time offline. I really like it. I’ve been reading a lot and spending time with my wife.

I don’t like being constantly tethered to the internet. That’s one of the reasons why I no longer use GTalk or Y! Pager. I don’t want to waste more time online. It’s also why I don’t really check on Facebook anymore. I barely log in once every few weeks.

I’ve been reading The Naked God, the last book of Peter F. Hamilton in the Night’s Dawn trilogy. I’ve already read the trilogy. I’m just reading it again. After I finished The Temporal Void, I wanted to read his other work again. In between substituting, I’ve been getting all of the paperwork ready for the start of school. I’m actually registered for 3 1-year classes plus a colloquium. There’s a basic Mandarin class that I want to register for as well. It’s only 4 hours a week but it gives you access to two hours of private tutoring for free. I tried registering for that today, but I’ll have to go by school again tomorrow to finish that up.

It was nice having about two days off. I didn’t have to write anything either. School starts next week. It’s going to be interesting.