Profundity in newsprint

Tuesday, June 17. 2008
Though I regret making my first post in ages nothing but a direct quote, this was too good. From The Guardian:

In the era of CCTV, memory storage, eternal emails and Gordon Bell, we can all preserve our every asinine thought, meaningless utterance and minor accomplishment. That is why it is so important that the real achievements of history's greats be well preserved and presented, and as accessible as possible.


Ain't it the truth.

Extreme of consciousness

Sunday, December 2. 2007
…and there goes the regular update schedule. Kerouac Cat is dead. The guy from the morgue is here but he ducked outside for a cigarette and I’m taking the chance to write the true cause of death on the certificate: Coronary failure caused by chronic psoriasis. Nova collapsed, Normal Mailer died and John got the boot, and not a peep from the Cat.

My apartment is a disaster. My landlord finally fulfilled his threat to waterproof the apartment below which (in which his brother resides) despite ignoring my requests to fix the water leakage problem in my apartment. I realise this is nepotism and there’s not a lot you can do about it. The jackhammers last about two and a half days. The house was full out of my stuff from outside and concrete dust. We can’t use outside because it’s so dirty. The dog has to stay inside because it’s such a disaster, and now it’s been dragging on for two weeks. The first weekend we went away to Kending in the hope that we’d miss some of the construction – and instead no one fucking came, because “it was raining”. Bullshit. Taipei actually had good weather while we were away.

After we got back it did actually start to get nasty with two weeks of on-off, mostly on, horrible rain. Then even after it did fine up no one came because it “had to dry” Well fuck. Get up there with and dry it then.

I spent this weekend in Hualian practising with Charles and Jason. It was awesome, despite having a wicked cold. I asked the landlord on Friday (incidentally, a beautifully fine day) if anyone would come and he said Saturday. Lo and behold, no one fucking came.

Why do the fuckers with the jackhammers always come on time? Why do the motherfuckers who finish the job seem to live on permanent holiday because of rain?

Hualian was brilliant. We hung out practising, then went to the hot springs Saturday night. We stayed the night there in Japanese-style tatami rooms with futons for an incredible NT350, which includes the spring. I’m writing this on the train back to Taipei, in between my neighbours gabbing to me, and watching the beautiful scenery of the East Coast. Fuck, I could totally move out here. The bleached white desolateness of the place is inspiring.

Coming down was something else. Charles and I couldn’t get a ticket on the train and ended up getting lucky, obtaining seats on a shuttle bus which was so busy they’d actually put an extra service on.

Wednesday night we had Sichuan at Kiki’s. I’d already got the feeling on the cold’s onset, but we still had a great time. Originally it was supposed to be Peter and Kayla and us, but I kept inviting people and Charles, my neighbour Agan and Jeremy and Patty all came. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to come by all those people in the same room.

Thursday I was pretty sick.

Kending was a blast. I’d taken Monday off so we could stay a little longer and avoid a rushed trip and the crowds. The weather was not quite as hot as I’d hoped; the water was a little cold, as I’d predicted; but it was still fine for going to the beach. We flew down, which is definitely the way to go. Although it turns out the service to Hengchun airport is very limited, the fact that you can go from Songshan Airport in Taipei and be on the beach in Kending in less that two hours is worth knowing. In fact, it seems that Hengchun exists solely to service the two commercial flights – one in, one out – plus the odd helicopter charter and I imagine some freight flights. At any rate, flying in fairly cheap, and beats the Insomniac Express overnight bus, as well as flying to Kaohsiung and taking a bus from there (the bus from Kaohsiung takes over two hours. More on that later).

We caught the bus into Kending and found a hotel on the strip. Hindsight reveals that at this time of year, it is possible to get some pretty good deals on packages at some fancy hotels, with a little preplanning. Our hotel was basic but nice and we got a large room with two double beds and a balcony for NT1200. We rented a scooter next door and went down and hit the beach, though not before a nap which meant that we got there just a little too late. Still, the water was good, the beach not empty but not crowded.

In the evening, we wandered the markets which set up at dark. We had a drink at Warung Didi’s before deciding to visit another place to see a band. It turned out the band had already finished but another would be playing later upstairs and there was a sexy revue-type show we could watch. For NT350 each we got two beers a piece as well as the show (one girl, not bad; one not so good; one guy very funny) and then the band upstairs afterwards.

The guy from the show actually came up and struck up a conversation with us. An interesting guy, for sure. It seemed he made more money a month than I do for his routine. I lost a little interest in talking to him though because the band, A-Team (from Taizhong, I think) totally put sneaker to the backside. They were really hot – amazing vocals and super tight rhythm.

The next day was all on the beach – we headed over to the softer, whiter and more secluded sands of Baisha, where I managed to get very burned. After an above average lunch at Bossa Nova on the strip at Nanwan (South Bay) we finished the afternoon on the beach there.

By early evening a fierce wind had sprung up. We visited the small natural gas fires at Chuhuo. It was an amazing natural phenomenon unfortunately cheapened by people selling popcorn and other junk there, then fools cooking said popcorn in the fires there, and more fools letting off fireworks. Natural gas escapes from the ground there, and comes up through stones. I assume that it is ignited by humans as I doubt the fire continues to burn in heavy rain but nonetheless it is amazing, particularly as you can ignite certain small divots in the ground, as one small boy showed us.

We stopped in at the famous steamed bun place I’d read about in the in-flight magazine. We’d gone past it on the way to Chuhuo and as predicted by the magazine, there was a long line of people there. However, on the way back there was no one as it was near closing time. Unfortunately for us the cheese buns, as well as most of the other kinds, had sold out, but we were still able to enjoy their regular buns – which were justified in their reputation. While we were eating there, Sun, the guy from the show in the club, drove by and stopped. Small place. The boss of the bun place ended up giving me a free one before we left. Seemed he had developed a lot of the flavours to lure foreigners in.

We ate pig’s knuckle on the way back. Taiwanese-style pork knuckle, although delicious, for me will always be third after German and Korean varieties.

By now, the wind was pretty severe, and Warung Didi’s was pretty empty. It was also Sunday night. After a drink and some chicken, we left for an early-ish night.

We woke up early the next day and after a quick breakfast and coffee, we went down the beach for a final hurrah. At that time of the money it was almost deserted, and the Caesar Hotel bar had not yet started blasting music. The water was cool, flat, crystal and most inviting. We swam for two hours before heading back to pack, check out, but as we left the beach we got a call – the strong wind meant our DC8-Dash flight out of Hengchun had been cancelled. We were instructed to go to the airport were they would give us tickets for a bus to Kaohsiung, where we could catch a flight back to Taipei.

As I mentioned, the bus ride to Kaohsiung takes more than two hours. Having paid the extra for a flight to Hengchun I was a little disappointed that I would still end up spending more than three hours getting home instead of one. Although the airline staff in Kaohsiung managed to get us on a competitor’s flight as soon as we got there, outside of this they were a little less helpful. Not the best way to end our long weekend but better than the bus all the way I suppose.

As I write this the scenery speeds by in between tunnels and you cannot help but be amazed by the crazy diversity of this place. One minute it might be a green river, the next it’s mountains and lonely, windswept beach with lapis lazuli water. Then you might be looking at newly developed houses in the middle of nowhere, or some salty, forgotten fishing village. Or maybe abandoned houses, rooves caved in and decaying. Next it might rice fields and farms or it might be some factory. Beauty and ugliness change in the flick of an eye. Old and new, mundane and ridiculous all sit juxtaposed as the cinematography of the railway line follows the winding steel north.

I need more space to think.

Ten ten

Wednesday, October 10. 2007
Happy Birthday Taiwan. If China hasn't blocked this page yet, now is probably a good time to start. I bet the public holidays there are woeful compared to here.

PS I celebrated by staying out till five the night before having a drunk argument with someone who should've known better about defending Taiwan. I woke up hungover and went bowling (not my choice of activity). I had a puke in the mens room there, then went over to Charles's place and had a delicious dinner of stuff left over from his barbecue on the weekend.

The Hard Sell

Friday, September 28. 2007
Funnily enough, I was talking about KC coming to Taiwan this afternoon as well. I told Dinna you can't make someone do what they don't want to do. So there will be no hard sell to get Kerouac to stay. I will not give tours extemporizing the virtues of the city. I will not aid him in going through the paper work or browsing website for jobs. There will be no pathetic, impassioned pleadings, except perhaps if I get blind drunk, and I will recant on those the day after. No, there is no grand plan to get the man to stay.

Because let's face it, the hard sell is on his shoulders, and it is to make me leave.

Announcement

Sunday, August 5. 2007
The House of the Dragon is pleased to announce the 2007 Xiao Gou Summer Tour of Taiwan. That's right, my little brother will be here on Tuesday 7 Aug through to 22 August. We've got a full schedule planned (sort of). If you're in Taipei, or nearby, email or call me to hang out and down beers. We're heading to Penghu next Sunday, and after that we'll probably head south or east (relative to Taipei of course).

Man, I'm stoked about this.

Up yours, Canon

Saturday, August 4. 2007
So today I finally bought a set of jeweler's screwdrivers small enough to take my video camera apart. About 40 screws later, I was finally able to get at the record switch. It was a sealed unit, not meant to be serviced. I tried to track down the part online. Of course I couldn't find it. Fuck it. I pried the switch open. Inside, the delicate electrodes were obviously a little dirty. I abraded them a little, reassemblem and reinstalled the switch. At this stage, the camera was still in (connected) pieces, like some kind of dissected animal. I connected the power and put it a tapel. Well, it still turned on... then success! The record button works again! I reassembled everything (somehow managed to get all the right screws back in) and powered it up again... still good. Canon in Taiwan would've charge me four grand for that. That made it all the more satisfying. Fuck you, useless Canon Taiwan.

後悔 - The NT$11 000 Coffee Break

Thursday, August 2. 2007
On Tuesday, I made the biggest mistake of my year.

Just before I got on my bike to visit Dinna on my lunch break, Cankun called me to tell me that the second fried memory module had been replaced and I could come pick it up. This was good thing to happen No. 1.

As I rode along Zhongxiao East Rd I heard the sky rumble. I looked up at the looming storm clouds and wished I'd taken the MRT. I was going to get rained on when I rode back.

Approaching the intersection of Fuxing South Rd, the light turned orange. No one hear brakes for orange lights, and not when we're almost at the line.

Except for the idiot in a van in front of me.

BAM! I slammed into the left rear corner of his stupid, stupid car. I was still standing up. My bike was on its side. I had tried to get through the gap but it had been closed by the car in the left lane. I looked at my bike. Then I think I kicked it, swung at some cars. I should've kicked his stupid car, or maybe his stupid face. He got out of the car. He was tallish, fat, 40 with glass and chewing betelnut. Another, blonde guy appeared. I assumed he had heard the noise and wanted to stick his nose in it. It started to rain.

The fat fuck came over and started looking at his car. "You'll have to pay me," he said. What! Pay you! Why did you slam your brakes on?

He mumbled something in pathetic English about safe distances. I realised he had a point. I was fucking at fault in this. It turned out the blonde guy had actually had his bumper scratched by the fat guy. Shit. This could get complicated. Fortunately, he wasn't concerned.

I argued the toss with the fat fuck during which he kept threatening to call the cops.

Blondie said he had a friend who could help. The left rear taillight was smashed, the pillar and a small part of the rear glass was scratched, and the bumper was broken. The scratch on the pillar is nothing, I said, that's easy to fix. I was ignoring the scratch on the glass. Fuck that, I am not going to be up for a whole new sheet of glass. Blondie called his friend and told me the light would cost about 3K to fix, the bumper about 4K. "Don't worry it, should be less than 10 thousand," he said reassuringly. "Do you need me anymore?" he asked the fat fuck. Fatty waved him off. "Don't give him a hard time," Blondie said, indicating me. "Yeah," replied Fatty. Which of course, he then proceeded to do. He then called (presumably) the Ford Dealership and asked them what it would cost. 3000 for the light, 4000 for the bumper, 3500 for the pillar. Eleven point five K.

Actually, I've got a friend who can help you fix this, I said.

He wasn't interested, the chiselling bastard. He kept going on about calling the cops and hassling me about my license. Eventually I caved in. We agreed to move the cars.

After a frantic phone call to Jeremy from Bikefarm, then one to Dinna, and more haggling with him, I handed him eleven thousand bucks. What a cunt. I suggested my friend again and he didn't want to know. He wanted to take it to Ford to get it fixed. Yeah right.

I walked away with a scratch on my thumb, a banged knee and elbow, and a seriously injured wallet.

My bike wouldn't start. It didn't seem to be getting any spark. I found a place to park it and caught the MRT to grab a coffee for 10 minutes with Dinna.

Later in the evening, when I had time, I rode my bicycle out to where the Kawasaki was and had a look at it. The clutch lever was bent and broken, the bars slightly bent on one side, the front right indicator light was snapped off and the timing cover and flange was smashed. Fuck. At least it wasn't leaking any oil from the case. Inside, the ignition pickup coil was bent out of shape. I pushed it to a nearby mechanic who managed to massage it back into place. Success! It started, and he refused to take any money. That was good thing number two.

I rode to Bikefarm and inspected the bike more. I assumed I would have to import a new side cover but Jeremy said I could have it welded up for a few hundred NT. Really, the damage was not that bad at all. Adding it all up, I might even be able to keep it all under a couple of thousand NT. That was good thing number three.

I had been saving that money for so long: I have resisted temptation to spend it on crap for my bike, or music stuff. And then, in the blink of an eye, I had to hand it over to some chiselling moron who was obviously out to get me as he refused to have it fixed on my terms. If I ever see you again, I will follow you and I will slash your tyres.

Fuck.

Not exactly new

Saturday, July 21. 2007
but this is one of the reasons I don't want to live in Australia (or much of the 'civilized world' for that matter).

Jus' fuckin' around

Friday, July 20. 2007
You may (or may not) have noticed that once again I've been fucking around with the skin here. As always, it's not perfect but it's an improvement (I would say).

I've also added links to RSS feed here - like you didn't have that already - but I've also added a link to the comment feed. Enjoy them in the RSS client of your choice. One of these days I might even get around to adding proper formatting to the damn things.

Square One

Friday, July 20. 2007
Here we are (again), back online (again) after another outage (again). My laptop decided to cook the less-than-two-months-old RAM module I had waited so long for. After a week or two of being back in a place where you barely have enough memory to run Firefox (memory pig!), MSN and edit a text document, I bit the bullet. Of course the problem was I'd just had RAM replaced; I didn't know how PNY would respond to having to replace it again so soon. And besides, two modules dying in 3 months? Unlikely. Maybe there was a problem with the motherboard.

I must admit that Asus have been pretty good about checking out and repairing my laptop, even after the warranty expired. They didn't charge me this time to look at the 2nd hand motherboard they installed for me a while back. However, this computer has had a lot of downtime, including the intermittent power system problem that plagued me (infuriatingly intermittently) for so long, even within the first year of owning the damn thing but only managed to get fixed (at my cost) after the warranty expired (hence the 2nd hand motherboard).

This time, the thing was there for nearly a week while they carried out their inspections. Finally I got a text that it was ready.

Of course, the tests turned up nothing, the computer worked fine without the RAM installed, fine with other RAM, but not with mine. Tell me something I didn't know. What I wanted to know was if there was some fault that was causing the RAM to die. No dice.

Fine.

Prior to picking up my computer, I finally took my old video camera to the Canon Taiwan Service center. The camera has had a broken record button since the end of Chinese New Year. All it requires is a new switch.

The guy looked at it and then took it to the repair engineers to examine. When he came back out, he told me because this is a model they didn't stock (I bought it in Japan about 5 years ago for god's sake) there would be a fee of some kind of NT1800. At this point I was expecting him to tell me that the switch would cost a few hundred NT and I would ok, that's expensive but if it gets me my camera back then fine.

Then he said it would cost a further NT2200 to replace the button. Four thousand NT to fix a button, I repeated. That wasn't really worth it, told him. I could buy a new one with a little more than that.

So I stuffed the camera back in my bag and lugged it home.

Later, I took my RAM module back to get replaced. Still waiting on that one.

Today, I took my bike to Banqiao to get the overdue bi-annual inspection done. I'd paid the fine a couple of weeks prior in Taipei. I didn't realise it but they actually had a photo of my bike in there computer, presumably taken when the registration details were "modified" by the previous owner. The bastard there spotted that I had swapped the handle bars and added a sissy bar. This would not do, and neither would the fact that I had a fine owed. But I paid that, and I have a receipt here to prove it. "No no, you need to change all this stuff back, and go to Taipei and ask why they didn't cancel that fine".

So I now figured I could rush home and change the bars and try to make it back out... but that would be no good without going to Taipei and getting the fine sorted out. So speed over to Taipei... and a conversation with the lady there tells me that the record won't be changed until I've had the inspection done. And these incompetents idiots tell me that I need to change my bars over.

So after all that, I wasted my Thursday afternoon running and around, and I'm back at Square One. The only difference is now I at least have my (crippled) computer back. Now to play the waiting game - either way I'm fucked. If I do get my RAM replaced again, then I have to wait and see if it's going to cook itself again, and if they tell me know, then I have to buy a new computer. Well maybe it's not all bad (except I can't afford it).

A note, hastily scrawled, and stuck on your door

Sunday, June 17. 2007
Tomorrow (well it's so late, today actually) I'm riding solo to Taichung. It's the first big ride on my new bike. Monday and Tuesday are public holidays, so it's two days, no computer. It would be more than two days if I didn't have to play a stupid, retarted gig tomorrow afternoon. I might've left today, tonight, or tomorrow morning. As it is, I'll probably get away about 7pm. If I'm lucky.

A guy is coming to pick up the new dog, Wangzi, to look after him till Tuesday. I'm taking a camera this time. I'll take photos and write it up. I promise.

So I'll see you then.

An unevented turn of expects

Wednesday, June 13. 2007
I'll be damned, it's almost like we're on a normal update schedule here.

I wish we were doing with this page. For the past half year KC has been determined to soar in his posts to the ethereal heights in his own muddy depths of dispair. I, on the other hand, have dragged it through the mundane days of my life. In all honestly, we're both faced with the same problem. We just deal with it in different ways. I know KC is worried about my 'gentrification', and rightly so. I am worried about him too. I unintentionally realised some time ago that KC doesn't realise he is the greatest player in his own life. It's not that he doesn't think he's the greatest player in his own life - far from it. It's just that he (and, for a long time, both of us) was always waiting for some force, like wind of the gods, to intervene and make stuff happen. Like so many others, he believes he's chosen and that it's a matter of time before the fates reveal it to the world.

He right; and he's wrong. He is chosen. He's chosen by himself (and by me). The hand of fate he's waiting for is nothing but his own.

I checked myself into the emergency room at 3am on Monday morning. I've never wanted so much to get out of my own head.

The pain was splitting, isolated in the left side, and the cause completely unknown. I'd done nothing, ate no food, drank no alcohol. The blood tests showed nothing but that I was normal. The first injection did nothing. I wanted to sleep, or escape, and I could have neither. An IV drip, a second, different injection, and about 30 later, the pain drifted away and so did I. I checked myself out just before 6am.

Exhausted, I didn't go to work that day. I slept, then did nothing in the afternoon. I watched the Last King of Scotland.

Thunderbolts and lightning

Tuesday, June 5. 2007
I'm sitting outside writing this, watching the typhoon rain pour down and the dark grey clouds flash with sheets of lighting. It's strange, after having my laptop virtually bolted to my desk for the longest time, the last few days I've wanted to take advantage of the wireless network I set up and use it around the house. Why the hell was I thinking about buying that Mac mini? Out here the breeze is cool and although the rain falls a few feet from my own feet, I'm dry.

How things change.

The day before my birthday, now more than a month ago, the extra RAM in my computer fried. After I finally worked out why my computer wouldn't booted (and what had probably caused all the crashes I'd been having in preceding months) I took the RAM back to where I bought it. Although I didn't have the receipt any more and I'd bought it over two years ago, a check on the manufacturer's website revealed it had a lifetime warranty. Unfortunately the guy there was anti-helpful, mumbling in such a way that I couldn't understand anything he was saying, although I did manage to glean that I would be expected to pay for some kind of shipping costs. Fine, I said, how about I just buy a new one?

"Oh, we don't have any."

Well what about if I go to the computer market?

"I doubt you'll find any, they don't make DDR RAM anymore. It's all been superceded."

What! I know my computer is already a couple of years old, but seriously, you can't get the RAM anymore? I gave up, went home and checked online. Of course I found a ton of DDR RAM... then realised I need MicroDIMMs which are apparently quite hard to get.

In the meantime, the computer is practically totally useless. XP Pro doesn't let you do much with just 256 meg of RAM. God forbid you do anything intensive like edit images or video.

In the hope of at least being able to get an idea of their return policy, I took it back to another branch of CanKun. Success! The guy behind the desk was friendly and helpful. He took it and didn't ask me to pay for any shipping.

After the first couple of weeks waiting, with no communication, I went in and asked. Sorry, sorry, it's still at the factory, they're really busy right now but they're on it and it will be back soon. Fine. Call me when it's done, please.

Another week. I go in and say, where is it? It's been a month?

Still friendly and apologetic: "Oh I'm really sorry, I just got off the phone to the factory... it was a girl... I really wanted to tell her off but I dunno, she's a girl... she said that the offices had moved or something and everything was in chaos and I told her you'd been waiting so long so please hurry up."

Another week. Come on... this is ridiculous. "They called and said they're testing it, and it will be here in one to two weeks.

By this point, I figure another week or two isn't going to make a difference. In the time I'd been waiting I'd gotten so sick of crappy performace I actually got off my ass and backed everything up, reformatted and did a fresh install, only to find that really, by the time you add anti-virus, all the laptop software like battery monitors and whatnot, 256MB doesn't cut it, if if your registry is clean. I was sort of getting used to not being able to do anything because I didn't have the apps installed. I installed a program called FreeRAM XP Pro which is supposed to monitor RAM and "free" it periodically. Unfortunately it runs like suck with only 256MB available. When free RAM gets low it automatically tries to free it - and with 256 the process is painfully slow. About every 30 minutes your systems freezes while it frees - a major pain in the ass. Fuck this, it's time for a new computer, I thought. Time for that Mac mini.

Then yesterday, five weeks and two days after I put it in for inspection (and over six week since it actually died, and incidentally about three hours after I was telling my girlfriend about how I was planning to pay off the Mac over six months) I got a text about my RAM. I could pick it up.

As it happened I was close by. What happened? I asked.

"They replaced it with a new one."

Great.

"I'm really sorry about this. If you ever need your computer fixed, bring it in. We won't charge you."

Thanks for the offer, I thought, but if I ever need my computer fixed I'll need it in less that five weeks.

I spent yesterday night making as many tweaks to system services and background programs to extract the most speed before I put the RAM back in. I finally got it in tonight. The difference is amazing. Hell, even FreeRAM doesn't take forever to free up the RAM. Still haven't decided if I'll keep it, but for the time being it stays as I like to see how much RAM is free when I run various applications.

Next time: How Things Change.

Holy crap!

Sunday, May 6. 2007
Will someone please tell me this is not Omiya Station.

Another exit

Sunday, February 18. 2007
Happy New Year. As of today, it's the Year of the Swine. Chinese New Year means a week off - naturally, unpaid at my school. I'm heading down south on the bike again. This time the goal is a little less clear. Last year, Charles and I had a simple plan - to ride a circuit around the island of Taiwan. We got through it, with a few minor disasters on the way. I put Dinna and the 'xiong on the train yesterday.

As soon as Charles is ready, we'll be leaving today. Paul Cox, one of the co-owners of Bobwundaye is coming with us but I'm really not sure what he's got planned. We're aiming for Taichung/Zhanghua by the end of today, so I'll see Dinna and the dog. After that, Charles and I are hoping to make Kending on Monday. Charles is playing with Public Radio at the mysterious Mystery Land Festival on Tuesday. Personally I think getting to Kending from Taichung will be pretty testing on our bikes. After that, who knows? We had planned to go to Hualian and we still might, though I might just ride through and go over the cross island highway. Depends on Paul, I guess.

Korea was... interesting. It wasn't the best holiday I've had, but then it probably isn't the worst. I'll be doing a full writeup when I get back, which is my code for saying I'll never get round to it and grovel later.

This time, I'm planning to take lots of photos and video. I promise.

See you in a week. After I finish writing this, the computer is going off. Gasp.