That Itch

Between 6-9 months after moving to a new place, I get an itch to move again. I start feeling like things are getting too smooth, too mundane, too routine. And then I either have a reminiscent lingering for where I moved from, or I have that hankering to move somewhere new.

I think it's that time again.

I think it's the excitement of moving to a new abode and stirring up my life a bit. One thing is, I don't see moving as big a deal as a lot of other people do. maybe it's because I don't have as much stuff. Or maybe it's the ultimate cleanup opportunity (also known as my "keep-it-chuck-it" decision tree).

I also think it's this inability to settle with any one thing and stick with it. Perhaps a symptom of having adult ADD? Or maybe it's just this constant nagging in my head that my life should never be stagnant, that maybe I'm programmed somehow to never accept being happy where I am, but that I should always be working towards something.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm destined never to be satisfied with what I have. What a pathetic existence that would be.


I've been working pretty hard getting my photos uploaded to Flickr lately, catching up on having photos up so my friends (and others) can share in the views I've seen. Generally, I've noticed three trends in my pictures: people having fun (clubbing or whatever), scenery (vacation pictures), and close-ups of the food I make/eat.

But apparently, some people have taken a liking to some of my pictures: on one recent day, one of my photos made it in the top three of Flickr's Explore page! Several are also climbing up in view counts, which is fantastic validation from the photo-taking community!

Flickr is now my new Friendster. I've already been indirectly responsible for 5 or 6 of my friends joining; I should get a commission for it! (Of course, 10% commission times $0 per free account ... is ... carry the four ... um ...)

Anyway, just wanted to say that now I'm officially a Flickr whore.

Hair, Hair, Long Beautiful Hair

Okay, there's a topic on my mind that I think really merits an explanation and, if necessary, an open discussion. I had re-sent my photo albums link to several friends (they seem to keep losing it), and four of them all responded with the same immediate question:

"What happened to your hair??"

This is usually followed by the statement that I must have grown it longer, and now it's just flattened.

Let me explain again to you that I scooter around town. Just about everywhere. I hate waiting for the bus, and taxis are kind of expensive to/from the outskirts of town where I live. It pretty much takes 20 minutes to anywhere I need to get to, so that's 20 minutes of heat and compression with my helmet on my head. Think of it as a 20-minute perm for flattening my hair against my head. Just about everywhere I go.

So what's the point of really fixing my hair? No matter what I do with it, after a ride to my destination, it's got a fresh new flat-perm on it again! A while back, I guess I stopped bothering to do my hair. Now, I just try to keep the hair shorter so that the flattening isn't as obvious, or I bring a small canister of pomade or hair wax with me to do last-minute touch-ups.

Okay? That's why. Thanks for understanding.

It's all in the name

Okay, so a scooter is not the coolest of transportation modes. And it doesn't lend its rider the coolest of looks. But that doesn't mean we can't try to salvage some pride, right? Loosely transcribed, a conversation with my overly-supportive friend C:

b: I hate scootering in the rain.
c: that sounds so manly... "scootering"
b: I think it sounds better than "mopeding". Moped. Scooter. Moped. Scooter. Yeah.

So I've resorted now to calling it my bike or a scooter, but I avoid moped and vespa like the plague. Never mind that my Finnish friend (who actually had a motorbike in Finland) keeps correcting me that I don't actually have a bike. And I haven't yet gotten to naming my scooter yet, like my brother has, though I have considered calling it "my b!tch".


Question 21.

"Life is about waiting."

Give an example. 250 words maximum, 5 points.

The Last Word

I remember a posting from kev/null about conversation enders -- basically, the last thing said in a conversation that somehow cuts it from continuing -- and I recently came across this list.

I really only have one that I can think of at the moment: it's something a friend told me some 15 years ago on a bus in Montreal.

"Yeah, I had one too, but the wheels fell off."

It's most effective when it has zero relevance to whatever your topic was. And you have to say it nonchalantly and with an aire of,
"That's how it is, no way around it."

Then you watch as his reaction evolves from a look of uncomprehension, to utter confusion, to wonderment, and finally just giving up on you. Good wholesome fun!

Fireworks of the South, Sky Lanterns of the North

So this past Sunday (Feb 12), a couple of us headed to Pingsi / Pinghsi / Pingxi to play with sky lanterns (天燈) or Kung Ming lanterns (孔明燈) for the festival. Very fun.

Basically, on the 15th day of the lunar new year, tons of people make their way to this remote town to attend (on the jam-packed highway or the one railroad that gets there). The trains are literally packed with people, and angry words are often exchanged. You know, the typical

"Stop pushing!"
"I'm not pushing: it's the people behind me!"
"Stop! Pushing!"

Anyway, assuming they arrive safely, the people buy these cotton-paper lanterns, and write their wishes, prayers, and hopes on them, and release them into the night sky. The higher/further the lantern goes, the better chance of the heavens picking up on it, et cetera, et cetera.

You're supposed to not write selfish wishes on them, so that limits most prayers to things like world peace, business success, good health, happiness ... all the airy-fairy stuff. I wished for ...

And then I stuck a few wishes for toys anyway.) And you're also supposed to wish only for things that have a decent chance of happening, or else the weight of that wish will prevent your lantern from staying aloft.

It's fun to see all these warm glowing lanterns decorating the sky, but the funnest part is watching the ones that don't make it: they float up slowly, smack into a telephone pole (or eletrical wires) or just wobble around unstably in the wind, until they catch themselves on wire and crash-n-burn. Another pile of wishes gone up in flames. Basically, I cheered whenever an underdog lantern made it into the sky, and cheered also whenever a lantern didn't make it: win-win!

Too bad the pictures didn't really turn out.

I think next year, I'll try to make my own. But until then, I can still go watch the official 2006 Taipei Lantern Festival at a local memorial hall, which still has shows for the rest of this week.


I woke up today feeling pretty depressed. Had an eventful weekend, and not in a bad way, but this morning, I really really didn't feel happy. At all. And I don't even think it's just about work either. I think the next time this happens, I'm just going to take a personal day and disappear somewhere.

Vacations: Good or Bad?

Vacations: we love 'em. We get an itch, we plan them, look forward to them, and go on them. We have (generally) a great time, and then we come back, and after all that, we get to tell all our friends and family about them.

But the aftermath of coming back from vacation is pretty painful: that first day back at work, that unkempt apartment in which you left it, the pile of bills neglected for that week. But mostly, that depressing feeling that you're at work and no longer living the fantasy life of a vacationer.

Sure, vacations make you feel good and give you nice memories. But they sure can make you feel bad afterwards, sadder when you return to your normal routine life.

I am a Cambodia Expert Now

So after 8 days in the country, I can now answer a few questions with some confidence (and a ton of questions without any confidence whatsoever). Here are the common first ones asked by my online friends.

Why Cambodia?

Why not? I've always wanted to go there and see it, even though it wasn't super-high on my list. Truth is, by the time we all synchronized our schedules for time off work, the only tickets even available out of Taiwan to Southeast Asia were to Cambodia. So in some ways, we were destined to visit there.
What's in Cambodia?

34C temperatures in the dead of winter. A lot of poor people. Sandstone (and the dust of). And, of course, Angkor (more here, including Angkor Wat and others.
How's the pho?

Uh, pho?? There's no pho in Cambodia to speak of; that's Vietnam where the good pho is. To me, Cambodian food is an uninteresting mix of Thai and Indian. Not that the food isn't good -- I like Thai food, and I love Indian food -- but that there isn't a whole lot that is particularly unique to the region. With the exception of amok fish (one recipe here).
Is it cheap there?

Yup, stuff is cheap: meals for $1.50US, hotels for as low as $8 a night, etc. But I know it could be cheaper, because those are the tourist prices, and there's a major discrepancy between that and the local prices. And I hate feeling like I'm getting taken for a ride just because I'm a foreigner. For instance, we paid twice what we should have for a bus service between cities; it was cheap anyway, even at $6 a person, but I didn't like the idea of getting scammed.
Did you guys have fun?

Of course! We packed the first few days with Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Angkor -- including a few early mornings to watch the sunrise -- and then slowly started to tone down the energy level as we went down the week. At the end, we were generally all suffering from "temple burnout" and partook in foot massages instead. Eventually, I got tired of every brother and his mother trying to sell us "traditional Khmer" this, "traditional Khmer" that. Oh, and wandering local markets, bargaining for hours on end for that last $0.25US for the trinket -- "it's not the money, it's the principle"!
Did you take lots of photos? Are they up yet?

Yes and no, respectively. I think my "yes" also answers why I haven't uploaded yet.
Are Cambodian chicks hot?

Okay, nobody asked this (explicitly), but I'll just say that they're not really my style. Some are definitely pretty, though.

Okay, that's it for now. More insights later. But for now, Taiwan sure seems pretty clean in comparison.

Spirit of Christmas Past

After the holiday season is come and gone, my Christmas tree and decorations seem to stay up for a lot longer than they should.

My sister tells me you're supposed to take your Christmas stuff down by January 5, the end of Christmas. I can tell you right now, my decorations have never made it down by then: the climactic joy of Christmas comes and goes, and my tree remains as is in its fully adorned splendor. And this year, I only repacked the holiday goodness last weekend because we're already on the crest of the lunar new year.

So, how long do you keep yours up after the climax?

iPhoto Upgrade First, Picture Upload Second

I have some 950+ pictures from 8 days in Cambodia, not including the photos on my brother's and sister's cameras. But before I get to compiling, sorting, cropping, captioning, and uploading them ... I need to upgrade my iPhoto first. Ugh. So much work, but I'm sure it will be worth it in the end.

The End is Near

I am in Cambodia. Have been since last Friday, starting with a crazy morning flight (7am), and will be until this Friday evening. Sorry for not posting an Out-of-Blogger away message, but last week was just too busy, and this week was without time to sit around logged on.

Sohm toh!

(That means "sorry" in Khmer. Funny that I can say "thank you", "sorry", "three", and "too expensive" and a handful of other Khmer words/phrases, but "hello" is not amongst them.)

I will say that internet cafe access in Cambodia's cities is neither sparse nor expensive. I will also say that while on vacation this week, it has been surprisingly easy to switch off my mobile phone, abandon email, and I have had no urge to really spend any/much time online.

That means that for you, my faithful readers who have been wondering where I've fallen off the earth to, look for a post soon. I may have given up the net life for a week, but I'm looking to get addicted again!