Childhood ROI

Some time ago, I watched an episode of Mythbusters where one guy's skill came in really handy; a skill that clearly he had picked up as a child. He proudly proclaimed the success as "fruits of a misspent youth". That got me to thinking ... we all have some parts of our youth that were misspent or misguided. But do we have examples of how those misspent pasts have come back to become helpful in later years?

One Ring to All Them Rules

Everyone has heard that quintessential rule of engagement: the ring should cost around two months' salary. I believe this was cleverly started by the diamond industry, because even though Americans seem to insist on three months, a lot of historical folklore has been rooted in the one-month-salary "rule". I'm sure the diamond industry did a fair amount of research before settling on two months as the "right price" that increases their overall revenue without getting too much resistance from the none-so-willing proposers. Even then, there's no mention of whether this is gross salary, salary after taxes, or even net disposable income.

But that's neither here nor there; we can't change societal expectations with this one post. What's more interesting are the new rules of engagement that people have set for themselves about said pricing. I recall a rather entertaining conversation with one of my ex-roommates (as most all conversations with her are).

Her rule: $10,000. Hard minimum. USD. No reliance on the poor guy's salary. If he didn't love her enough to get her a nice ring, there was no point in marrying him.

My reaction: that's rather materialistic and smells vaguely of gold-digger aroma. What happened to sizing up a person by the measure of their character, rather than the thickness of their wallet? What happened to falling in love and not mattering what the ring was like, as long as there was love?

Her progress: she since adjusted her measure of acceptance requirements to "3 months". Except, this was only to be then thrown out of whack again by The Bachelor and whatever crazy company-sponsored ring it was that they had.

I suppose this was a rather long-winded way to ask ... what is/was/would be your personal limits (upper and/or lower) on an engagement ring?

[ No, this is not any kind of hint on my personal life. It's just a topic for discussion. ]

Family Resemblance

Yes. My siblings and I, we do look alike. You're definitely not the first person today to bring it up, let alone this year, and certainly we're into triple digits in this lifetime. Heck, there was one night last week where we had to endure it for every new person we met -- it was like sitting infront of a semi-automatic oh-my-god-you-guys-look-so-alike machine gun.

Yes. The strong genetic trait goes through the three of us, but obviously my brother and I share it a lot more than my sister does; thank goodness for her sake. A friend once chatted with my brother for several minutes before realizing it wasn't me he was talking to. My dad can't tell us apart on the phone.

The most recent happened last night, as we scootered up to the juice stand to fill my bro up with vitamin C. We gave our orders and the lady looked at us.

"Are you twins?"

Oh, man, not again. But we have this down now; we just smiled and shook our heads. I think the lady took this a little harshly, as if it showed failure on her character that she had guessed wrong. So she made an attempt at redeeming some of her self-esteem.
"You're at least brothers, right?"

Sure, why not, let's give her that much and get on with it. We nodded and confirmed for her, and she seemed once again pleased with herself. Perhaps we gave new meaning to her life, or perhaps we had just taken part in her amusement for the moment. Either way, she continued to serve up our drinks with a new sense of purpose.

Please, people, stop staring and continue as you were. Nothing to see here.

Dangerously Close

So ... I took Tickle's Gender Indentity Test. And it told me, in somewhat of a mocking manner, if you can imagine a webpage mocking you silently through the written word, that:

"Ben, you are 49% feminine."

In large, bright, bold letters. Some two paragraphs later, I suppose the page felt a little guilty of what it had said. It tried to redeem itself by saying that I was still 51% masculine. But the damage had already been done: I'm dangerously close to being metro.

I shut down the browser window and wept quietly to myself. Some minutes later, Tickle sent me an email as a peace offering.
"Ben, Tickle can tell that you have a balanced gender focus. People who have both strong masculine and strong feminine qualities tend to get things done and are good with people."

So ... me and Tickle, we're cool now.

Poo Poo Platter

How often do you poo?

I've heard that you should be pooing once a day, but until recently, I wasn't really. I'm not sure that -- now that my "daily chores" are actually daily -- that my health is necessarily any better because of it. Though, back in university, I did have one friend who, to our dismay, announced that he once had not poo'd for several days straight, and it wasn't until (apparently) the sixth day or so that he'd dropped his deuce. (You can imagine that it was hard to get back to studying after that comment.) I think we can all agree that six days is definitely not healthy. But probably an amazingly satisfying drop.

So my question remains:

How often do you poo?

(I know you have something to say about this. Everyone does. It's okay. You're amongst friends here; we won't open laugh in your face. Now go on, say it.)


The Atkins Diet -- or the South Beach Diet or any of those low-carb lifestyles -- would single-handedly destroy the food industry in Taiwan, if it were ever to catch on here. It won't, of course, because you soon realize that to support a decently healthy diet here that isn't high on useless high-glycemic carbs, you just doubled or tripled your food expense.

That, plus the fact that Gold's Gym charges $40 USD per month for a membership. And that's on a one-year signed contract. With a student discount. And they only have one location in all of Taiwan. I mean, yes, it's a damned nice one with tons of Cybex and free weight machines, but still. $40 USD per month for a society that generally makes half of what North Americans do??

It's a wonder these people aren't all fat and/or dead already.

(I know, I know, I'm trying to keep an open mind. I did have a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato yesterday, where they charged me another $10NTD/$0.30USD for the whipped cream. WTF?)

An Isolated Case

I've been reduced now to using my computer offline most of the time in this apartment, and then connecting sporadically. As I told some friends over email, my (stolen) net connection here is spotty at best, and the signal is only available when I'm standing by the window in a contorted fashion reminiscent of getting cell reception in the 1980's.

My brother and I came to the following observation today: a computer without an internet connection is just about useless, and certainly very very little fun. Hopefully, this is only for the time being. I'm suffering Internet withdrawal symptoms already.

A-Do Run Run Run, A-Do Run Run

Things I learrned this morning:

  • People stare at you when you jog in Taiwan. Like you're nuts or something.

  • Breathing car fumes and other smog-like substances is not healthy when you really need the air.

  • Running faster just means you'll get lost in the area faster.

  • Every breath smells like something different; it's like a Kinder surprise.

  • Having immediate access to the alley carts serving food during your run is a major motivation-sucker.

  • Running in the rain makes your clothes stink after, and warrants a full laundering.

  • My patella tendon can't take much jogging. Apparently, this is true regardless of continent.

Perhaps I'll stick to the elliptical machine inside a nice local gym instead.

Hair Care

Neat thing I discovered: a little bit of skin lotion/moisturizer will substitute nicely if you forget to pack hair sculpting lotion.

What Language on the Tin?

Oh oh oh, I have a question: are all pilots and air traffic controllers required to have a decent command of English? That is, around the world, do all those people speak English, or maybe English and the local language?

I think it's important that those people speak a "standardized" language so that if you had to communicate with anyone, you could. But my concern is that in case of emergencies, we naturally revert to our mother tongue -- which means, international flights introduce the possibility of having a communication breakdown as people start freaking out and speaking their native languages.

So ... does that mean that pilots should ideally speak (fluently) both English and the language(s) of the departure and arrival airports, then? I suppose that makes it tougher to find qualified tin pushers and pilots.

A Slight Glow

I don't know what it is. But whenever we chat, a smile makes its way across my face and works itself through my mood. Can't help it.

Just Kicking It

Turns out a friend (let's call him L) messaged another friend (C) something that sparked the following:

C: L just IM'd me "u'r a cutie"
Me: Do not pick up the soap.
C: if i drop my wallet, I'm kicking it home.

I could just visualize him kicking his wallet down the street, the way us kids could kick that same rock on the way home from school. This was the funniest damned thing I've heard for a long time.

Going Paperless

Perusing some of my older archives, I have realized that the quality of my posts has steadily declined in wittiness. I vow to improve this. Back to the drawing board!

Damn this digital world. I can't even find a notepad around here. What's up with that?