Sunday in Taipei

March 13, 2016 · 0 comments

Today is Sunday.  It’s 10:35am in Taipei (9:35pm in NYC).  I’ve been out of bed for a little over an hour, though my alarm first went off at 7.  Before my 8ish hours of sleep, I spent about 20 hours traveling here from the other side of the world.  Because of the international date line, that 20 hours was actually a day and a half in calendar terms (I get the time back on the way home, when the 20 hour trip is only half a day).

I had this niggling suspicion at the back of my head/neck (but also sort of in my chest) that I’d forgotten something.  I won’t get into all that’s involved with that intuition – it’s saved me quite a few times, but also made me miserable as well – but suffice to say that it was correct (as it usually is).  I packed three suits, but only one dress shirt.  So today I will be walking around the Zhongshan district of Taipei looking for a white button-down oxford shirt or two.  Maybe I’ll go to the malls in Xinyi too.  I can probably get by on a single oxford shirt for the week (especially since I quit smoking), but it’s going to be a busy week and a single spill on my shirt will be disastrous.

I’m sitting on the third floor of a little Starbucks around the corner of my hotel.  (I’m staying at the Hotel Royal Taipei this year, instead of the Ambassador.)  I’m at one end of a 10-person table, which has four girls doing homework at the other end and some lady on her laptop kitty-corner from me.  No one is sitting at the head or foot (thank goodness).  I’m having a latte (partly because I’m embarrassed by the potential irony/stereotype involved in ordering an ‘Americano’ and partly because I don’t fucking like ‘Americano’ coffee anyway) because they don’t actually serve (percolated) coffee at Starbucks here in Taiwan.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed about how Taiwanese culture differs from American culture is that the concept of fast food and ordering from the menu seem to be foreign.  People don’t like saying “I’ll have the chicken francaise” or “I’ll have a #4” here – there’s always this back-and-forth with the waiter or counter person about what’s good at this establishment and what do you recommend and can I get it with this but without that and put it all on one of those big square plates (not the round one it normally comes on).  Maybe everyone just gets forced into their cookie cutter shapes in school and at work that the restaurant is the only place where they can express a preference or opinion.  Or maybe it’s just a culture of finicky pricks who don’t understand that the whole point behind standardization of menus is so that the line moves quickly and nobody has to wait for too long.

Google Now says that the weather for this week is going to be in the mid-60s, with rain scattered here and there.  I’m hoping it’s not consistently overcast and that there are at least periods where the sun is out (it was out this morning as I lay dozing between alarms).  Adjusting to the time change is so much easier when actual sunlight is involved.  The temperature is a little chilly for a land in the tropics, so the natives are all bundled up in down jackets and hats, while I’m walking around in nylon hiking pants and a 260-weight wool hoody.  Makes me feel good because normally I’m the one who’s cold when everyone else is comfortable.

Ok, so it’s just about 11 (when the department store supposedly opens) and I’m just about done with my latte, so I’ll say goodbye for now, dear reader.  If I don’t pick this back up later today, I hope your day has been and continues to be a wonderful one.

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EWR to NRT 160311

March 13, 2016 · 0 comments

I was hoping The Force Awakens would be one of the movies available on the flight.  It was.  A disappointment.

I mean, obviously there are going to be another couple of movies, but damn.  It just wasn’t very good.  imho.

Not very many other new movies available on the flight.  There are a couple; can’t remember their names right now.  Not sure if I want to watch something else (read: something less disappointing) or if I want to finish up the last 5% of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

It’s 5:25 right now – take-off was 11:45, I think – and there are 8 hours and 17 minutes left in this – the big – leg of the trip.  Hopefully I’m not repeating myself, but my normal habit on this trip has been to stay awake for pretty much the entire 14 hour leg from Newark to Tokyo (plus the 4 hour layover), and then basically fall promptly asleep once on the Tokyo-to-Taipei plane (usually missing the meal).  Not sure if I want to do that this time or not.

Bridge of Spies (Tom Hanks movie) will probably be pretty good.  I think the other guy just won the Oscar for best supporting actor.  Haven’t seen a Bill Murray movie in a while; maybe Rock the Kasbah will be worthwhile.

I should really send a note to United that (a) it would be nice to have some sort of “back” button to get out of the movie detail and back to the main list, without having to tap down and then left 16 times, and (b) it would be nice to have some sort of “add to queue” button, where I could skim through the movies once and add the ones I’m interested to a list (as opposed to clicking through every goddamned movie every time I want to find a new one).

I like Daniel Craig as James Bond, and I’m considering watching Spectre, but I may have seen it already.  Can’t tell until I start it because unfortunately they kind of all have the same feel.  Just watched part of the trailer; guess I haven’t seen it.  Watched Skyfall last time, so maybe that one will be worthwhile.

Ooh The Big Short.  That one is right up my alley.  Or The Martian.  Ok book, though I highly doubt we’ll see anything else come from that author (no offense buddy, but you’re just not that talented – which is not to say at all that I begrudge you your fame: I know you worked really hard on that book).

I haven’t seen Avatar since it was just out in 3D.  Maybe a good cry when the girl hooks up to the panther-alien would be good for me.  Haven’t seen Man of Steel since it was in the theaters either – that might be a good one to see, especially as the Batman/Superman movie should be out pretty soon.  Yeah.  Maybe I’ll watch that one.


Ok I’m most of the way through Man of Steel right now.  Makes me want to do a lot of pushups and brush my teeth a bunch of times.  Anyway, if I remember from the trailer, Batman v Superman (or whatever they’re calling it) basically starts right after the end of this one:  Bruce Wayne gets all pissed off that Superman was more or less the cause of a bunch of cities/towns being destroyed and people killed.  His thought is that there needs to be some sort of check on Superman; that we can’t let people with superpowers just run around and do whatever they want.

Isn’t that the same basic premise as the upcoming Captain America: Civil War?  Stuff gets destroyed and people get killed, so the authorities start calling for superhero registration or something?  Tony Stark is all for it, but Captain America says no way, and they fight, with different superheroes taking different sides.  I think that’s how it goes.

Anyway, interesting motif; and interesting that two movies coming out right around the same time should have such similar premises.  I think.  Unless you count all the romantic comedies coming out all the time.

Whatever, back to the movie for me.


Well, that was enjoyable (again).  I definitely need to do more pushups.  Time to figure out what to do with the 5 hours 21 minutes left in the flight.  The clock on my Fitbit says it’s 8:30 now, which means Valerie put Oscar to bed about an hour and a half ago, and Henry’s either been asleep for the last 30 minutes or he’s finagled a way to get mommy to let him stay up a little longer.  Sleep well, boys.  I miss you already.  Miss you too, babe.

For a while I was scared of these trips.  Nervous about who I’d see and what I’d say.  Then I looked forward to them.  Well, more that I looked forward to the uninterrupted 14 hours in the plane, where there really isn’t much to do but watch movies and read books.  Now I kind of wish I didn’t have to go to the other side of the world every year.  I’d much rather be in my house, winding down from the day by watching some TV with my wife while the kids are asleep upstairs.  I miss being able to hug and kiss them goodnight.  Oh well, gotta do the next right thing, which is visit with clients and prospects on the other side of the world and try to drum up some business for the coming season.

I’m much more relaxed about the business side of these trips nowadays.  Through hard work, I’ve become an expert in my field (boring as that field might be), so I can be of help to people who can benefit from my knowledge and experience.  And if some of the people I meet don’t want to hire me and get that benefit, that’s fine with me.  Some will, some won’t; I’ll do the best I can to help the ones who do.

I haven’t been doing a very good job on my water consumption today.  I’ve only had about 1.5 liters, when normally I’d’ve had at least 3 by this point.

Huh.  The Big Short was pretty fricken fantastic.  I already had a pretty good idea what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis, but definitely picked up more details than I previously had.

Only an hour  41 left on this plane.  Then it’s a 4 hour layover in Tokyo, a 4 hour flight to Taipei, and a 40 minute cab ride to the hotel.  Flight lands in Taipei at 10pm local time, so hopefully I’ll be in bed by midnight.  My Fitbit says it’s midnight now.  I suck at time zone math.  My math tells me that that means I have about 11 hours left to go, which doesn’t seem right, though I guess it is because 4 hour layover + 4 hour flight = 8 hours.  Add the 1.5 hours left in this flight and the hour or so to get my bags and ride in the cab and that’s pretty close to 11.  So I’m really only about halfway through the trip.  Damn.

In other news, I spent some time between movies typing out some notes for my meetings this week.  Mostly just background stuff on the companies I’m meeting.  My initial thought was to email it to the people from the other firm that I’m travelling with, though I’m kind of on the fence about that.  They haven’t been very communicative with me in the past couple of weeks and frankly I don’t know if I can or should trust them.  I know that’s kind of a shitty thing to say, and it makes me feel kind of shitty to say it, but it’s the truth.  Either way, typing out the notes was good for me to do: it gave me some ideas about things discuss and other things I’d like to research a little more before I go into the meetings.

The thing with the other firm is that we’re supposed to be partners in Taiwan.  Theoretically we don’t compete with each other and our services in fact complement each other.  We have a “marketing collaboration agreement” that basically says they give me access to a bunch of their data and I kick them back three grand for every Taiwanese client I sign.  I’m constantly wondering whether it’s a good/worthwhile deal for me.  Practically speaking, they haven’t done shit for me lately.  They consider Taiwan to be a “non-core market” or some shit like that, and haven’t really put much effort into selling there.  Also practically speaking, they do in fact compete with me on some service offerings.  But all they do is sell them – they don’t really have anyone to do the actual work.  It’s frustrating for me because it makes it hard for me to sell their services to a client – I don’t want my reputation damaged for recommending someone who can’t deliver.  So I don’t know if I want to give them my notes or not.  Given that they’ve never told me who their Taiwanese clients are (and believe me, I’ve asked them directly) or referred me one single piece of business, it’s hard to trust that they’re team players.

All that said, I should probably give them the notes, if only so I don’t look like an idiot vicariously if/when they make fools of themselves in front of my clients.

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EWR to NRT 11/27/2015 Part 3

November 28, 2015

Watched Fury Road and Mission: Impossible.  The former was pretty good: action-packed and starring Tom Hardy and the hot South African chick whose name I can’t believe I can’t remember right now.  Charlize Theron – that’s it.  Anyway, I like both of them, which made the movie easier to watch.  The latter of the two […]

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EWR to NRT 11/27/2015 Part 2

November 28, 2015

Time to destination: 4h 43m.  Well, I can certainly say that the shitty reviews Fantastic Four received were well-deserved.  Pretty fricken horrible; not many redeeming qualities at all.  Shame. The main reason I’m watching movies right now is because earlier I finished Frederik Pohl’s Gateway, which is the first book in the Heechee series.  It […]

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EWR to NRT 11/27/2015 Part 1

November 28, 2015

Off to Taiwan again for work.  Second trip this year.  The dude in the seat next to me is going to have a horrible hangover at some point.  Unless, of course, he just continues to drink.  He’s been drinking since he got on the plane.  Maybe had a couple of glasses of water, but it’s […]

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Word Count: 283

November 10, 2015

So it’s 3:24 in the PM on a Tuesday, and I’ve been basically dicking around on facebook and imgur all day (while keeping an eye on and generally ignoring the work inbox).  I have a relatively short to-do list in my Evernote, which consists of items that are specific, quick, easy, difficult, long-term, and/or vague. […]

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Another Post from Taiwan

March 14, 2015

No, I’m not turning this website into a travel blog, haha.  Arrived in Taipei last night and although I didn’t get up as early as I would have liked, I did manage to make it out of bed before breakfast stopped being served.  Today is Sunday and perforce (thankfully) a rest day for me.  I’m […]

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Nothing Special

January 12, 2015

You can skip this one, dear reader.  I don’t have anything particular to say today.  Slow day at work.  I’m not even getting anything personal done – just surfing the web for so long that my brain has turned to mush.  So I figure I’ll at least sit on my exercise ball and bang out […]

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Not Working

December 10, 2014

It’s just about 10am right now and I’m at home, which is really nice.  Because I didn’t really use my vacation/personal days all that much this year (and my firm has a “use them or lose them” policy for days off), I only need to work another three days this year:  next Monday and Tuesday, […]

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

December 9, 2014

On my Lift app, I’m a member of the group/habit #500WED (500 words every day).  I was going to start yesterday’s post with something along the lines of “more like #500WEOD (500 words every other day)” but I didn’t write 500 words yesterday.  Ah well c’est la vie. I’m finding that I’m kind of an […]

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