adrian is rad


America is (or seems to be) . . .

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:55 pm

dark, quiet, sparsely populated, wasteful, English-speaking, diverse, casual, expensive

filled with…
people who drive everywhere, giant cars, giant portions of food, giant supermarkets, giant stores, giant napkins, whites, blacks, latinos/as, smiling people


“you will…”: preconceptions

Filed under: — adrian @ 2:53 pm

People said a lot of things before I came.

“With how long you’re there, you’ll be pretty good at the language by the time you come back.”
After quite a bit of effort, I have mastered a couple dozen words.

“There are a lot of scooters.”
Yes. They are everywhere.

“It’s really polluted there.”
Some days I think so and others it’s quite nice. It’s certainly much better than Zhuhai, Bangkok or Jakarta. There are some smoggy days and then there are some days I’m pretty sure are just overcast. (And others with a blue sky.) Overcast isn’t usually in a Californian’s vocabulary so there could have been some confusion with that.

“The people there are really nice.”
People are pretty-to-very friendly overall. I did find some things that I saw pretty frequently inconsiderate, like some of the driving maneuvers, or walking patterns on sidewalks.

“You’ll be great.”
I’d rate my performance as “fair” or “good” at best.

“The girls will love you there.”
I have found no evidence of this.

“You’ll meet a girl.”/ “You’ll come back with a girlfriend.”
See above.

“You’ll be tall there.”
I may be a bit above average but not any amount that I notice constantly.

“You’ll love it there.”
It took a while but I grew to like it. I don’t love it, certainly.

“Everything is cheap there.”
Sometimes. Food is cheap. Brand name electronics isn’t (generic stuff is). Clothing is cheap. Housing isn’t.

various preconceptions about it being unsafe/ corrupt
It’s really safe. Very safe–most parts of Taipei that I was in felt safer than San Francisco. It’s also pretty law-abiding and not (obviously, at least) corrupt.


walter lewin

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:15 pm

This NY Times article reminded me how much I love Walter Lewin. I loved his classes and I remember a lot of the examples and demonstrations they talk about in the article.

My good friend gumbeaux did his PhD with Lewin so I’ve been getting odd and hilarious Lewin stories on the side for a few years as well.


Filed under: — adrian @ 7:22 am

I’m back in the ol US of A. The flight was surprisingly smooth and went by relatively quickly. It’s yet to be seen how I’m doing with jet lag but early signs are promising.

More later!


these sheets

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:42 am

These blazing white sheets will see me on them for only 8 hours more.



Filed under: — adrian @ 6:11 am

Surprise of the day: I may be missing things–this is entirely possible–but it appears that my two to-be-checked bags are in the following states: 1) slightly below weight, at capacity. 2) well below weight and approximately as much space left as I have things left to put in. Tomorrow night I’ll finish packing it (save my alarm clock, tooth brush, deodorant) and make sure, but this might be okay.



Filed under: — adrian @ 11:22 pm

I spent last weekend in Jinmen (historical and common English names: Kinmen or Quemoy).

The history here is important: it was historically fairly isolated but also had some rich residents that had traveled to SE Asia. Basically this produced some of the best examples of classical Fujianese architecture and South-east Asian Colonial architecture, patterned after British colonial houses in Singapore and Malaysia but with Chinese influence as well.

On the other hand, it was the front line, literally, for the war between Chinese capitalists (the Nationalists, the Republic of China) and communists (the People’s Republic of China), for many years, with it situated 2km from Mainland. It was bombed, invaded, shelled with propaganda fliers for over two decades.

So it ends up being a really interesting place–old buildings, old buildings in a semi-Western style, bombed out buildings, fields of sorghum with spike-topped anti-parachute landing spikes, beautiful beaches with anti-amphibious landing spikes, military bases, fishing vessels, and quaint villages.

I found it very interesting and photogenic. I took a lot of photos but they’re all on film, so I’ll scan them when I back in the U.S.

It was easily the hardest place I’ve been this trip or this year–possibly even ever–in terms of getting around and not knowing the language. (Scratch that–Tanzania in 2004 would have been harder but I had a friend that spoke KiSwahili.) It started out fine–all the announcements at the airports and on the flight were also in English, despite the fact that I appeared to be the only westerner at either the airport or on the plane. But then I was picked up at the airport by someone who didn’t speak English (identifying each other by the other person with the cell phone up to their ear looking very confused), and brought to a scooter rental shop that didn’t speak any English. It wasn’t until I got to my guesthouse that someone spoke some English. For dinner at a seafood restaurant, I ordered “fish” because that was all that was mutually understood. It ended up being steamed and in a sauce and marginally undercooked. I ate it; I didn’t have the ability to complain. In the end, I saw things I wanted to see; I ate food; I was able to get there and return; I didn’t die. I consider it a success.

Perhaps seeing that I was in a little over my head, a couple people did some really nice things for me (not to get into the overly sappy I-love-everyone blogosphere realm). I went to a restaurant the first day for lunch that served Kinmen’s signature handmade noodles. All the tables were taken so I was just hovering near the entrance. I indicated to the woman working the food area that I wanted one of what she was making, so when she pointed to one bowl on a tray and brought it to a table, I followed her. Turns out I had just invited myself to sit at someone else’s table. (That’s fine in Asia from what I’ve found–in fact this table already had two groups–two guys and an older woman at it.) When I got my food, one of the two guys pushed over the spicey sauce: “good.” I added some. When they got some fried chicken, squid and tofu, he added while making a circling motion with his hand “together.” So I had a few pieces. When they paid, the proprietress gave me an odd look. Turns out the guy paid for my lunch.

The next day, I wasn’t sure how to get back to the scooter rental shop, so the other guest at the guest house let me follow them there. They hadn’t been planning to go out; they got in their car solely to show me how to get to the shop and then they headed back to the guest house.


not to say that it’s not a valid English dialect

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:54 pm

I was in a store the other day and ended up talking to a guy from Bradford North England (which, he said, is know for three things, two of which are Indian food and riots). Accents from Bradford, are apparently quite heavy–I could understand him but not without a bit of effort on my part.

It turns out this guy has been teaching English in Taiwan for 7.5 years. Anyone else see a problem with teaching an accent that’s not very well understood by many English speakers?


Poem, in four lines

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:53 pm

I just wrote a poem:

I was all excited because I saw I’d gotten an email
but it was from me
the one I just sent

lady with her hand over her nose and mouth on the street

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:24 pm

This is how much that will help filter out exhaust or really anything at all: 0.

Oddest bus stop name

Filed under: — adrian @ 5:00 pm

The R3 has a bus stop name called

Keelung River Second Term Housing Project I

There are also Keelung River Second Term Housing Project II and Keelung River Second Term Housing Project III.


it’s a bit odd

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:51 pm

when people you know turn up in google news:

Most of the pressure seems to be on Pandit however.

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