Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's Getting Hot in Here

Basically, Taiwan is hot and wet. Typical summer highs are 95F/35C with a heat index of 104F/40C. The weather reports here are interesting because it’s common to just report a high and low. No ‘current’ conditions are reported, and in particular, relative humidity and heat index are foreign. The students here had never heard of a ‘feels like’ temperature. It’s an interesting cultural difference. Certainly, the lack of weather variation here makes the actual conditions less informative. And at some point, I’d rather just not know how extremely hot it is outside.

In contrast, Americans have access to hourly forecasts down to the ZIP code complete with temperature, ‘effective’ temperature, chance of precipitation, dew point, humidity, and wind conditions. further reports a UV index, the air pressure, and visibility. The extent of our Doppler radar and satellite is also daunting.

Americans are picked on because we have the “world revolves around me” mentality. [Though I fail to see how one could get this impression because the evidence presented above indicates we can at most be criticized for having the world revolve around our respective ZIP code.] In the case of weather, we’re just living the information age to its fullest. I’m curious about ‘the world’ around me. If the technology is available, why shouldn’t I have access to it? I shouldn’t have to justify my entitlement, but here it is anyway: In the old days, people would stick their heads out the window. Today, with so many office buildings switching to fixed windows, it becomes clear the need for accurate electronic reporting.


National Chaio Tung University

An update from Taiwan is long past overdue. I have settled in an apartment adjacent to National Chaio Tung University. It has a great view. (Code for: I’m on the top/5th floor, and there’s no elevator.) Jason, who worked with my lab at Duke for a year, has recently graduated. He has been attending to some errands the past couple weeks and is off to serve his military training requirement next week. He has introduced me to his lab, and they have been incredibly helpful showing me the basics for life at NCTU. In the past couple weeks, I’ve wandered around our campus here and visited downtown. Inspired by the success of Harry Potter night and the SIT farewell party, the crew met up for an evening of KTV (karaoke) last weekend. It was much fun. In the coming weeks I will explore other areas of Taiwan. I also have booked a flight to visit Japan August 3-7.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

I’ll continue the book and movie review theme with a combination. A short while ago, I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The motivation was primarily due to a friend’s reference to Elizabeth Bennet going clear over my head. I can only give this novel my highest praise. Its characters are quite extensive and were challenging (for me) to keep straight, but it was completely worth the time spent.

The clever book contains great wit and humor. The characters and their experiences are fundamentally timeless, a quality many find analogous to Shakespeare’s work. In a very impressing way, the elegant title becomes more and more fitting as the story builds. I’d recommend without reservations.

I also had the chance to watch the BBC version of the movie. It was quite lengthy but followed the book extremely well. It was almost like the movie version of a play. I expect anyone’s opinion of the book would mirror this movie version identically.

While literature is most definitely not my profession, engineers must critically analyze and make connections. So, I can relate to the field, but I’m just not as familiar with the surroundings.

In my effort to be ‘educated’ I strive to make and understand other people’s literary jokes and references. Luckily, people don’t usually expect much out of an engineer. How’s that for Pride and Prejudice?

Labels: ,

It's Not About the Truth

I just finished reading my (autographed) copy of the It’s Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered. It’s a long, but accurate subtitle. Don Yaeger’s book is an easy read, and, written with former coach Mike Pressler, provides an extremely interesting view of the case. Even after peeling away the layer of bias presented in the book, you still get a feeling for how outrageous the case was. The reading level was basic and the clichés plentiful, but in many respects this parallels the media’s coverage of the incident/rape/scandal. I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend the book signing in Durham and am happy to show my support for the team.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Last night a group of us went to see the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (aka Harry Potter 5). This was my first Potter experience. The movie took a while to get going, and condensing the 2 hour 18 minute saga to a 100 minute version would have been appreciated. Overall, the movie was definitely entertaining with its special effects. Elements of mythology and ideologies created a complexity appealing to all ages. I agree with the current Rotten Tomatoes rating, 74% fresh.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Photos from Taiwan

Photos taken during my first week in Taiwan with the Summer Program in Taiwan (SIT) staff and other participants from the United States and Canada.

Taiwan Orientation 2007 (SIT)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

SIT Rocks

My first week in Taiwan was great. A dozen college students prepared a wonderful orientation for the approximately 20 American and Canadian students studying here for the summer. We spent the past week getting to know Taiwan and have formed great friendships in the process. Collectively, the staff spoke English very well and communication was quite smooth overall. Some expressions sounded foreign but made complete sense. Especially amusing for me, we were asked to "upload the bus with our luggage". There were also the typical language differences between Team Canada and Team USA. You should know exactly what I'm talk 'about'.

There are so many interesting aspects of life here to compare and contrast. On the bus, as one of the students shared his engagement video you heard identically initial reactions from each group of girls that was watching. (Conversations quickly diverged.) The spoken language and characters are basically all foreign, but some English bands are scattered. The orientation's SIT 2007 photo share is still being developed, but I will try to create a photo essay as things become available. Here's a photo I took at the farewell party at the end of the orientation.


Sunday, July 01, 2007


This is my first post from Taiwan! A few hours ago my plane landed at Taipei's Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport (TPE). My flight plan took me from RDU to LAX (Boeing 737-800) and then LAX to TPE (Boeing 747-400). I was pleasantly surprised at my comfort level for the second (13 hour+) leg. The Delta flight operated by China Airlines Flight 007 had personal on-demand video screens for all. (Q really hooked us up.) Also, the food was excellent.

I left on Friday evening and arrived Sunday morning at about 6 am local time. With the 12 hour time difference, 'jet-lag' comes to mind. However, I don't feel like the time is 'wrong', I'm more clueless about the feeling of what time it is. ("You're not thinking fourth dimentionally" -Dr. Emmett Brown )

And so begins my 8 week overseas adventure. I look forward to continuing the updates as I explore the culture. One thing is certain. The Far East is far out.