The Key Point

Keys. They get us into places while keeping others out; that's the general idea, anyway. And as we get more responsibilities and more entrusted in our lives, we get more places we're allowed into ... hence, more keys.

At this point, I have three completely different sets of keys, each consisting of several themselves:

House: keytag (RFID tag), outside door, inside door, mailbox.
Scooter: scooter ignition, U-lock (for back wheel), discbrake lock (for front), garage remote.
Work: alarm tag (RFID tag), main entrydoor, office-side entry, lab-side lock.

10 keys. I mean, that's a lot of keys, and a lot of them aren't those skinny little metal ones, either. Some have big honkin' black rubber handle parts, which makes them (1) as thick as three regular keys, and (2) not lie flat against each other on the keyring.

It's getting overwhelming to have to carry around all these keys with me. After all, I like to travel light, and I'm not a janitor! What to do? Help!

Real Pee

[We haven't touched on this topic for a while, and I know you miss it.]

I'm not sure how to explain this one. Here goes.

Sometimes I stand at the urinal and when I start peeing, it feels ... less real. Like, the difference between kind of peeing, and really peeing.

And sometimes I just get that thought of,

"What if this is just a dream that I'm peeing, but in real life, I'm actually wetting my bed? Hmm ... should I stop?"

Yeah, I'm weird like that. What. Get off my back already: it's Friday.

Hi, I'm Ben

In California, I had somehow earned myself a reputation amongst my closest friends for being like this.

"Hi, I'm Ben. Wanna be my girlfriend?"

You see, since 1993 -- when I was 19 -- I have been officially single for 8 months. Total. And I've been through 4 relationships in those 12 years. I guess I can safely say that for nearly all my adult life, I've been in "boyfriend mode".

Once I found someone I got along with and found romantic attraction for (and who reciprocated), I just always jumped right into the relationship. To me, I didn't see the point of dating someone unless I could see a future for more with them, and if I could, I didn't see the point of wasting time about it. This got me into a fair bit of trouble too, because I had a tough time controlling the speed and intensity with which the comfort in the relationship progressed. Most notably, a lot of my girlfriends suffered when I started realizing that I actually needed more space than I had let myself get closed into; it meant I had to pull back and retreat from the relationship I had already committed into. It meant hurting them, and hurting me a lot.

But not this time.

This time I've vowed to keep myself at a distance, and keep everything rather casual and relaxed, until I'm sure I'm ready to be more serious about the relationship. This is a very mental effort, fighting against my natural instincts and against the comfort in being with someone. And it hurts like the dickens to hurt someone else this way when I pull back, but (in my view) it's necessary.

I have to do this for me. I need to spend a little time taking it easy, finding myself, clearing this all up, be living for myself for a while. And then I can start to devote myself fully into a relationship with someone and treat her the way she deserves. I've at least learned that much from all my past failed experiences.

New Entry

shutchobitchassup: shət'-chō-bĭ'-chăs-əp. (pronounciation key)
v. intr.

1. to stop speaking; silence.
2. to cease creating verbal noises immediately.
3. to zip it.
4. shhh, with force.

[ derived from Old English, shut thou up, from Ebonics, bitch ass. ]


"damn you! i expect u to fly yo' bitch'ass over here"

"she schooled ya, huh, 'playa'!"

Just doing my little bit to enrich your education.

Waste Not

At KT's housewarming some time ago in Foster City, the two of us stole away for a short while for one of our deep-into-the-heart-of-me talks. And then, she said something that touched me.

"You're too good to waste, Ben."

Wow, too good to waste. And I had been feeling like I'd wasted a lot of my life not knowing who I was, being in relationships that went nowhere, and trying generally to keep a low profile and low-risk. And I was contemplating jostling up my life by skipping continents.

She told me to take that risk and stop living the "safe life", taking the safe paths. After all, what's to fear?

It's true: my "baseline" for life isn't that bad. If all else fails, I just end up retreating to Canada and living the quiet life with a small house in the 'burbs, white picket fence, gorgeous sunsets, and great food from international chefs all 'round. And if I lose one relationship, can I not find another? In the process of, I learn a lot more about myself. A lot more.

So what's the problem? My biggest fight is in battling my own habits and routines. Moving countries and then settling back in while insisting on the same lifestyle. I have an opportunity to live a very different life; that's too good to waste.


So, shE calls me on my Vonage. There's some empty smalltalk to begin with, kind of strained conversation. It's 6am, heR time, and shE can't sleep. Then it comes out, why shE called: shE wants to make sure that we're both moving on.

And shE said shE's getting close to one of heR friends who has liked heR for a long time (even before I got together with heR). I know him. He's a nice guy, and it seems he's genuine. So I'm happy for heR, and we wish each other a good life.

"... and that, my friend, is what they call closure."
                  - Rachel Green

Out All Day at In-n-Out

I could spend all day watching and studying the process at In-n-Out Burger. I just really enjoy watching and learning their procedures, and figuring out the efficiency with which they run their system. After all, how else but with such a fine, well-tuned machine could you run a fast-food joint that has no freezers nor microwaves in the place??

What Are Your Intentions, Son?

I think we established (back in an old blog post) that dating is about the intention. But I guess we left some scenarios open, because we still have some questions to answer. For instance ...

A: "so, let's say, you go out for coffee with a girl... the original intent was NOT to go on a 'date', but just for a friendly cup of java... but then, you hit it off and things are really good... so good that you want to see her again ..."
B: "... then the NEXT one is a date. But the first one isn't."
A: "yeah?"
B: "Yeah, you can't backdate (no pun intended)."

(I suppose we could just be making up the rules as we go along.) What do you think? How would you justify intention of a could-be-date?

Soaking Wet

Wow, my first typhoon in Taiwan in recent years, and I'm learning lots already.

- When riding in the typhoon, crosswinds can move you sideways one or two scooter widths, so it's important to not cut in front of taxis.
- Rain plus strong winds make for little bullets of water shooting at you and your scooter passenger.
- People will, against their better judgement, still try to fight the winds with their $3 umbrellas ... the inevitable result of which is one very wet person and one broken umbrella.
- The winds and rains come in cycles, and the quiet cycle usually after you've decided to stop into a restaurant to wait it out.
- The umbrella business is unusually good around this time. Only morons like me will still refuse to buy one, preferring to wait and find "a better one" another day when I feel like umbrella shopping.
- Instant noodles sell off the shelves at the local supermarket. And tofu sells out too.
- Umbrella or no, your shoes will get soaked to the bone. And you can too, in under 10 seconds.
- Cockroaches come out to escape drowning in the depths of the streets and sewers where they normally hide. This often brings about screams and shivers from pedestrians. (I am one such pedestrian.)
- A power outage puts you in the dark, and though you can light candles throughout the place, you still end up with no Internet connection at home. 20 minutes of this can drive you nuts, but thank goodness for mobile phones and battery power.
- The thin yellow plastic bags that are disposable raincoats are certainly insufficient against these elements.
- It's a good idea to buy some bottled water regardless of the water filters you have in your house, because the water quality will go to craps pretty fast.
- The winds against your apartment window can be loud and scary, and can wake you up at 3:30 in the morning. (Hence this post right now.)
- Some people will still insist on going out to the movies or KTV in this weather.

So Monday is a typhoon holiday announced by the government, but I still have to work. Will try to work from home, and then see what happens with the weather.

Fragrant Flatulence

I just remembered something. When you fart in public, there are two major concerns -- sound and smell -- and you hope nobody notices either. So one way is to press your butt against something, and hope both sound and smell get muffled by the materials on its way out.

But a word of warning. If you're sitting on a couch or seat and hoping that the cushion will do this job for you, here's a physics lesson: matter doesn't just disappear. What I'm saying is, that fart is still around. Try this: pick up your cushion, hug it, and give it a good loving squeeze afterwards. Minutes later, even. It'll all come back to ya in a jiffy. Hours of amusement for the whole family.

The Skinny on Skinny

I noticed that with girls here, there's skinny and then there's skinny.

First, there's skinny. This is the natural skinny that many Taiwanese girls enjoy. It's some kind of metabolic overdrive that's built into their genetics so they can eat whatever they please and do whatever junk they like to their bodies, and nothing will change their figure. They don't have to work at it at all, and never give it a second thought. (Girls who want to be skinny but do not have this kind of skinny, hate girls who do; it's a well-documented scientific fact.)

Then there's skinny. This is the skinny that didn't come naturally; it came through primping and prepping. These girls work hard to be skinny, and have to keep at it. They may not be the type to just balloon up to Big Berthas, but they have a certain body shape they like to keep, so they pay attention.

In my view, the former skinny doesn't look as toned, mainly because they don't have to exercise to get that thin. And because the muscles don't get used -- I mean really used, not just to hold up a mobile phone to the ear -- that skinny also doesn't have the "healthy glow" of the latter skinny. The girls in the second group usually display better posture and when they move, you can be sure their body is actually under their control ... as opposed to skinny 1, where it seems like they might be on the edge of falling all the time.

I much prefer the latter. Much prefer.

Oh, I lied. There's skinny, a third one, an exaggerated first skinny, where you can practically count all the ribs ... even when she's wearing a sweater. I won't even go there because, well damn, that's kind of nasty.

The Blogs We Love

Thanks for dropping by; nice to see you here. My question to you today is, what blogs do you read on a regular basis? Which are your favourites, and why? And what do you consider a "regular basis"? This is not an ego search to see if mine comes up in your list (though I hope it does).

[ Oh yeah, and for those of you who have blogs, could you please get RSS on it so my newsreader can pick it up instead of me trying to load your whole blog page before seeing that you haven't even bothered updating it since forever?? Thanks. ]

Life's a Beach

Things I learned this weekend at the beach.

- Ocean saltwater is nasty tasting, and no matter how long you're in the water, you can't get accustomed to its intrusive taste.
- Sand can sear your feet to a beautiful golden brown, with or without oil.
- There are some freakishly skinny people who apparently don't need space for their internal organs. These are the same people who favour Speedos.
- Even girls who are in great shape will find something to complain about their bodies. This will be met with scorn and "shut up" from the other girls.
- Ocean water makes people have boogers. It's okay, it just happens.
- Damn, I am white. As in, I look like I belong in computer camp or science camp or something.
- Floating around on a bodyboard waiting for a wave during a completely waveless day isn't half bad anyhow.
- People actually like iced tea that's been diluted with 2 parts water, a concoction I whipped up originally just for me.
- Sand gets everywhere. And days later, I will still be finding sand lodged in interesting and altogether uncomfortable places.
- Girls freely compliment each others' breasts. Somehow, it's not quite as acceptable for a guy to do it, though.
- Summer heat and a cooler full of Smirnoff Ice and Taiwan Beer makes the day go by just great. But damn that marketing, maybe it could have been just slightly better if we had some Coronas. With lime.
- SPF30 applied throughout the day still leaves opportunity for the sun to burn me to a crisp.

Life's a beach, but then you have to work the next day.


All my friends in Vancouver are either married, planning theirs, or ready to plan it. I remember, a year or two ago, that there was one day when a bunch of us guys looked around the room at a party of close friends. And we realized that it was just us left single: Hougee, Mike, and me.

We jokingly called ourselves the "leftovers", and though it was good for a chuckle, I think it struck a chord in us a little bit. It did in me, at least. Anyway, now Mike is about to be gone, and Hougee's got himself a serious girlfriend.

So it's just me now: last man standing.


I nearly pissed myself laughing at this video yesterday (during work). But maybe it's only funny if you're Asian and you've seen the Asian Squat in action. Still funny.

Okay, I'll post something more meaningful later.


Watched my first movie in Taiwan last night: Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Surprisingly entertaining, but it was a bit of a cheesy ending. Quick arms workout, then MOS Burger, and a movie. Not a bad weeknight, especially after having done nearly nothing at work the whole day, because I was sick. (I'm still sick. Coughed up 4 lungs and counting.)

In other news, American Express gave me a credit card here in Taiwan, yay! And even without a guarantor, which is rare, because I'm considered a foreigner here (and higher-risk of running off or something). Limit's a little high for my taste -- I like to keep it low on purpose -- but it's nice not to depend on cash -on-hand all the time. Most importantly, of course, it rounds out my collection of Amex cards: Amex Costco (USA), Amex Blue (Canada), Amex Gold (Taiwan).

And I'm still sitting here patiently waiting for my Amex Black Card invitation. Any day now.


I have internet. Oh, the glory!

So now I have 4 software updates to install, 2 months of emails to download, and 5 or 6 photo albums to upload. Great.

And I need a big-ass powerstrip to house my networking hardware so that I can surf from the comfort of the toilet, and then IM with my friends, my location unbeknownst to them.

Sweaty McSweaterson

As the weather gets increasingly warmer -- despite us passing the longest day of the year -- I think there's something I should tell you.

I sweat. A lot.

Not a ton, but not like average Taiwanese girls either (which is practically none at all). And as I spend more time here, I start to notice that sweating isn't just sweating; we all tend to sweat in different places.

Me, I'm a nose-sweater. The first beads usually find themselves on the bottom half of my nose -- and by bottom half, I mean the bulbous part, not the underside where the nostrils are happily shaded from sweltering sunshine. Runner-up in the sweat race is my upper lip, and my forehead rounds up the gold-silver-bronze finish.

I figured I had myself figured out: no sweat, I know my sweating habits. But just last weekend, I discovered that I have a third outwardly-visible sweat zone: the outside of my forearms. And really, it's just on the lower half (the thinner part that is nearer the hand). Dunno why I never noticed it before.

Okay, now you.

Chock Full

Weekend was fun. Interesting fun. Here's a rather dry-in-comparison recap:

I started it off with a quick trip to the gym Friday evening -- gotta vent off the work frustrations -- and then a visit to Brass Monkey for their Canada Day celebration. Mostly a bunch of white people (and us) celebrating the birthday of our home nation. Even a poorly-organized boatrace by people who were already half boozed up. Fun to watch, though.

Saturday was another workout, and BodyCombat class. This is only the second time I've ever attended one of these Taebo-style aerobic classes, probably because I don't like losing that much fluid in an hour. Surprisingly (to me), I was able to keep up with the aerobic part; it was just the coordination part that kept getting the best of me.

Dinner at the newly-opened Macaroni Grill (which was alright) -- they apparently source their ingredients from exactly the same suppliers as the USA chain locations do, but they've limited the menu selection. Of course, you can't go to Macaroni Grill without ordering the Leaning Bellini. :-) (Milestone's and Cactus Club bellinis are better, though, in my opinion.)

Nighttime was clubbing at M.I.N.T. which was awesome fun. Haven't gone dancing in a long time, and (though the music and mixing were poor-to-okay) it was a welcome change in my normal boring life routine. Drinking to a slight buzz helped that along nicely.

Sunday was largely with family; gave my dad-side relatives a tour of my home, then lunch in a nearby restaurant, and a tour of my office afterwards. Nice to get together with family every so often, and to play with our niece. Then dinner and a breezy scooter ride home ... before falling asleep on the sofa with the TV on.

This is quickly becoming the usual way that I fall asleep now. Not a particularly good sign.


After a scarring failed attempt some weeks ago, I tried again; this time, with 620km of treacherous Taipei traffic experience under my belt.

My first run this morning had me smooth and straight, but too fast by a fraction of a second. My second (and final) try had me sailing through a lot slower, crossing over the end line of that stage just over the 7 seconds. So I figure the trick for me -- and I learned this through driving on the streets day after day -- is to give yourself a nice headstart, and burst the gas to get a bit of speed before you enter the stage. Then the gyro effects of the bike take over, the mysterious phenomenon where the bike kind of keeps itself balanced. [Note to self to look up how this actually works.] Then I just let the bike cruise and slow down, and gas a bit to get over the stage exit bump.

So, long story short, I guess you can't have one without the other. I am now fearless (of getting dinged $12,000 NTD for driving without a registered license). Look out, world!