An American makes plans to move to Taiwan.


Youtube VS LiveVideo



Which do you think runs better?

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Dance Competition

Dance Masters Show - Spring Dance Competition.

Follow the link to see the video- my friend Queenie and her friends dance together as 'Ice Queen' in a Dance Competition in Taichung in front of 新光三越 (shin kuan san yue) Department Store.

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New Photos - Flickr

Here are some samples:

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I guess I already knew it, but recently I really noticed how crazy I am for nostalgia! Recently it was announced that Street Fighter 4 is coming out this year in arcades. Let me tell you why this means a lot to me. When I was a little kid I used to go over to my friend Michael's house. I remember many times he would play the NES or SNES and I would just sit there watching and drawing. One of the games I loved to watch was Street Fighter 2.

I would draw all the characters and when I went home I would imagine stories about them and their super special skills they used to fight. Over the years there have been many remakes, and a few proper SF games, but this is only the 4th numbered sequel. I spent almost a whole day looking at the artwork from the games. I love to see how different artists render the same characters. I have one of the games that feature the characters from SF2 (Capcom VS SNK 2) It came out around 2000 when I was still in high school. I was never a great SF player but I can beat a newbie pretty easily at least. I can't wait for SF4, and I think the new 3D artwork really follows the series roots. I really have to say that Street Fighter 2 was one of the things that got me interested in art in the first place. It drove me to imagine, pay attention to anatomy, action poses, and just to sketch over and over.

Another game I just re-discovered is Twisted Metal 2. It's a really original game I think. Basically you drive a car that comes complete with missiles and guns. It's like a destruction derby, you are going around the world to different locations trashing the competators. The plot tells us that the world is in Chaos. A man with god like abilities is in control of the world. His name is Calypso and he has promised that whoever wins this destruction derby will receive one wish, whatever they desire. There are many characters to chose from with many different goals.

Many of the ending movies show Calypso granting their wishes, and in a Twilight Zone like twist, the wishes aren't granted quite the way they expected. As for the game play, its really accessible for beginners but there is also a lot of room to grow and improve your skill, similar to Street Fighter. If you learn the timing and all the special moves you can really learn to play well and a beginner has no chance to beat you.

My friends who weren't really into the rock and roll, crazy post apocalyptic future thing, or driving games in general, still got into it. Even my dad and I played the co-op mode many times, it was really fun that I could share that game with so many friends. They made a handful of crappy sequels and rip-offs, but Twisted Metal 2 was best. I popped it in yesterday and found that even though the graphics suck now and the speed is a little slower, with some strange glitches, its still really fun and challenging. They just made a sequel for the PSP and are porting it to PS2, for a bargain price of $20 US I think I might have to pick it up. The graphics are not really that great compared to other PS2 games, but compared to the PS1 original is MUCH better, and being able to see further into the distance is pretty important.

Anyway - I really love to remember the times playing these games, and the sense of imagination I put into them. As a kid, these games were really special to me, maybe like books were for past generations. You may think 'oh its sad kids today don't read' but i think these games gave me some other useful skills, drawing, plot analysis, a sense for motion design, interface design, many things are there to study if you are interested in it as I am.

I might as well mention this as well, there is a guy who does video reviews of old and classic video games, but only the bad ones, its really fun to hear him rip into games I've played, but also ones that I didn't because I can relate to spending money on a game and finding out that it sucks. He is the 'angry videogame nerd' and you can see his videos on and
Really great stuff. So - maybe those of you who read this can let me know what things do you get nostalgic for?

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I bought a blank hat and wrote on it with some markers and stuff, I think its pretty cool...

Here you can see another view:

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Teaching English in Taiwan

I have been Teaching for a little while now so I have a few comments I can make.

First of all, every class is different, not just the age level, or the level of book they are in, but also just the class dynamic. Most classes energy focus around 1 or 2 students and depending on how those poplular/class clown/stand out kids act, the rest will follow. Some classes are slow and you will feel they are brain dead, other classes are high energy, sometimes good, sometimes bad. As a teacher you need to learn to adjust to their style, which is really hard.

For example I have one class where I can drill vocabulary in games, the students listen, and they enjoy the games, they make an effort to talk to each other in English when they know the words they want to say. I have another class at the same level who are pretty bad. They are too aggressive when playing games, and mean spirited, sore losers to boot. They also constantly speak Chinese, including foul language in Taiwanese and Chinese. Nothing much I can do about that, because this is a buxiban, a cram school. I can't send them to the principle, I can't kick them out, or really punish them in any way so the only way I can motivate them to listen is with rewards. Some people will tell you that this is a good system, but really, sometimes punishment is called for I believe.

The actual material is not too hard to teach, the books are good in general, although some days you don't have too much to work with. The tests are easy so any student who has been paying attention should pass. It's rare for a student to fail because the school wants to keep pushing the kids along to the next level. I think thats how my bad class got so high, just got passed along.

Most lessons go like this: First we have a spelling test, maybe 6 - 12 words. THis takes about 10 - 20 mins depending on the class. Next I have the kids open their books and we go over the written material, the different books can vary greatly on how much material is presented. After this, with younger groups we use flash cards to drill vocab, older kids we need to read or play a game that allows them to write, or speak, or in some way identify new sentence structures or vocabulary. Younger groups also need to work in a phonics book and a printing book as well.

It's much easier to make games out of flash cards than it is to do something with writing or speaking, but those are also more valuable sometimes. I can talk more about games in a future post. So generally the teaching is going well and I am enjoying it. The week goes by quickly and I fell happy after teaching my good classes, and after the bad ones, just relieved, haha!

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Crime in Videogames

Grand Theft Auto 4 is coming out soon. Everyone is in a big huff. It still has killing, sex, and now even drunk driving (although in the past games there were missions with driving while on speed.) I think that games are a form of expression, a form of art, and they should not be limited in any way that other forms of media aren't.

I think Rockstar (the game developer behind GTA4) can put whatever they want in the game but they need to stress 2 things. This game is Rated M, that is the equivalent of a movie being rated R. If a kid gets a hold of it, it's the parent's responsibility to know and control the situation how they see fit. Some people say "well how can they control what games they play?"
Well, the store isn't allowed to sell the game to kids under 17, and if they play it at a friends house, the parent will probably hear about it, kids aren't that good at keeping secrets. Its the same as sniffing glue or doing drugs, parents have to pay attention!

The second issue is that GTA is a criminal simulator. This game is all about giving you a glimpse into things we should NEVER do. We should never commit a massacre with a AK-47, drive drunk, or steal airplanes from a US aircraft carrier! We all know its bad, but that's why we think its funny to play it in a game! GAMES ARE NOT ONLY FOR KIDS! How many times do we need to tell the public! In GTA4 we can pretend about doing these wild things, the same as we played cops and robbers as children. There are many many games that let you play as a good guy, but here we can be the bad guy and it's a nice change of pace. The only people who are influenced by these things are psychos who are bound to be influenced by anything. Before it was games, it was Rock N' Roll music, and before that, Books! BOOKS! I mean, now we act like books are some special form of media, there are tons of books about sex and violence and whatever.

To take it even further, you know what book probably caused the most people in the world to be killed - well I'm going to guess the Bible.

So lay off the video games, its just for fun. If you want to have a crusade against them then just remember the REAL crusades, and try to think if you want to ban the bible, the koran, and every other holy book as well!

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Adjusting some more.

Everything is going well. Adjusting to teaching, getting used to the weather, and food. Things are going well. I've been meeting new friends, finding what I have in common with others, and I am still planning how to do my Taiwan Dreamin' show. I have been a little busy/lazy and I need to work on the intro some more.

Teacher Craig gave me this cool photo of a Door he found in Lu-Gang. Supposed to look like a temple door - but hm... those don't look like Chinese gods to me!

I hope I can get a scooter soon. I need some more advice and a Taiwanese friend to go with me for bargaining and such things. I am still thinking about getting a new scooter, but if I found a nicer used one I guess that is also good.

My Chinese is improving slowly but surely, learning from my friends. I am still waiting for Super Smash Bros to arrive, excited about that. I watched a really cool anime yesterday called Paprika, with Grant. It's made by mad-house and seems very similar in theme to their TV series, Paranoia Agent.

Well I should stop playing on the internet and try to get some work done!

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I got my ARC now - Alien Resident Card. I was really lucky, the owner of my school basically went through the whole process for me, but it's mainly because I don't have a scooter.

So now I have an ARC I can try to buy a proper and legal scooter. I can also do other things with the ARC. SO yeah, it's good.

I have been meeting new people recently and it's been fun. A lot of people are interested to try the Wii here at my house. Sylvia is sending me Super Smash Bros from the USA - THANKS SO MUCH! So I can play that here with my friends, wish I can play with my USA friends too!

KC and Joanna playing Wii Boxing.

I went to a 24-hours-open Hot Pot place, that was cool. Tonight I will go out with friends to eat again. I will post some more things soon about the school.

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A Few Updates.

I am learning new Chinese words everyday, some are more useful than others. I have also found that I am learning many words that other foreigners are not taught in school, mainly because I talk with more Taiwanese than they do. It seems many foreigners here have few Taiwanese friends and tend to stick to themselves. It's not all that surprising really because the Taiwanese make it kind of hard to interact with them, even with each other, in addition to their many stereotypes.

There are many things to eat but my Chinese makes me a little too frustrated and/or shy, at times, to get the food I want. I have to have photos to point to or be able to use my limited Chinese. I will be studying the menu that my Co-Worker gave me, with all the common items labeled in romanized Chinese and a translation.

Due to all my walking and eating less, and maybe a little more healthy, I seem to have lost a little fat and gained some muscle, not a huge change, but I can see it.

You may also be surprised to hear that in Taiwan you can't find much in the category of canned foods. You can get canned corn, and maybe canned beans or something, but that's it. If you want western style canned foods you need to go to a western style grocery. The French Carrefoure that I go to doesn't even have anything more than that.

I don't need to boil water for drinking, it's not expensive or difficult to buy a huge jug of water from the store. I have a kettle- but I never make tea, so water is just for drinking or instant noodles (pao mien) which I cook using a rice cooker.

Taichung has many night markets, I have been to two of them. One is near the university, Feng Chia, and it is very big and crowded, many college age people there. Another is near the
highschool, Yi Zhong. This place of course is smaller and has more HS kids, but you can still get many of the same items, people have told me that Yi Zhong is a little more expensive.

Taichung is also famous as a culture city with a few museums and many Tea Houses. I think it is the most famous city in Taiwan for traditional and unique tea houses, but since I don't really drink tea, I can't say that gets me too excited.

The weather is warm, hasn't really been cold for a few weeks now. I am getting more and more mosquitoes as well, and getting more crazy about making sure to squash them. Maybe I will need to buy an electric bug zapper or something. It's nice though, I think summer will be insane but at least the nights will be nice and warm. Also I think we all know that warm weather means girls wearing less clothes, and for a single guy, that's never a bad thing.

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I got my Resident Visa

Well I got my Passport back today from the office. I now have a resident visa! I guess that makes me an official ex-pat? Well I am glad about that, I will have my ARC in about a week I think! Really great! I hope I can buy a scooter after that! I am still debating on getting a new or used one. I hope I can get some more opinions. I hope I can live here for at least a few years and having a new reliable scooter seems like a good investment.

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Teacher Craig's Menu

Teacher Craig created this menu to help beginners to understand a few basic things on a normal local Taiwanese Menu. I'll post the photo now but I hope later I can get it in text format with the help of friends!

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Clubbin' + Confidence

I had a fun at the club last night. I met a few new people somehow, two girls I met both studied design and had also lived in Melbourne Australia, that was a funny coincidence. At first I kinda just stood around talking to a few people and looking around listening to music. Later I went in to dance with one of the girls. At first I didn't really know how to dance to the DJ mixes they had. I don't know the popular term now but I'd say it was more like 'Techno.' Anyways after a while I got into it and kinda danced TOO much, haha I was all worn out and needed to get get some water. It was fun. I guess I found I really like to dance, haha!

One thing that was nice was when I was dancing and I just didn't really care if I was dancing with anyone, just having people around me dancing was fun. I danced with a few friends and all that. I have started in the last year or so to have more confidence. I think I am a good looking guy, and to me I am, I don't really care if others agree because that's just what I think. Now I feel the same with dancing. In my opinion I was like one of the best dancers in the club, maybe its not true, maybe others will think I suck at it, but I don't care, I had fun and enjoyed it.

When I got home I lied in bed and stretched, then OW! My leg cramped up super bad, the muscle got really tight, I rubbed on it and finally it went back to normal, I guess I should have drank even MORE water. Its a little sore this morning but its ok. Well - it's still fun!

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Stereotypes again?

Nathan Miller, at bicycle-sidewalk, was asking me how things are going in Taiwan. I said it was fine but that some of the stereotypes were annoying me, he said;

"Well, living the expat' life can be very liberating. You are not surrounded by Americans, thus there is no need to live by the social norms, and you are not Taiwanese, as much as you try to follow the rules/social norms you will most likely always get a get out of jail free card because you are not Taiwanese, and not expected to play the part.
One thing, you are living in a place where you have no memories of the your past... which can be tough or again liberating...
it is all what you make it.
Don't sweat stereos - they only play loud music...never bite...."

Well I have to agree, in reality stereotypes are just something to move past, don't let them get in your way. Another thing I need to stop worrying about is other people's opinions on minor things. Like I am a little embarrassed to eat at McDonald's, I don't want others to think that's all I eat, but I guess it's pretty silly. I still like to eat a big-mac every once in a while.

Tonight I will do another stereotypical thing, going to the dance club! I had fun last time because I was with a group, but this time, just me and my friend Viki from Taipei. She is friends with the DJ, Gareth, from Swank DJ; Looks like it's going to be pretty cool, I hope I can get some photos or something. I asked some other people if they wanna come, like Phoebe, not sure if they are available. Well it should be fun either way, at the least I can enjoy watching the pro-dancer girls, haha! Wish me luck!

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