Archive for August, 2008

Bad day…

Droids

玉山很漂亮!

Well, another month has passed during my stay in Taiwan. My school semester ended this week and I have two weeks off before the next semester. The course that I’ve chosen will be more intense, so I hope I haven’t bit off more than I can chew.

In the meantime, since my girlfriend also has no school next week, we’ll be traveling to some remote locations here in Taiwan, starting with Orchid Island, which is one of the furthest islands from China, making it the least Chinese influenced aboriginal tribe in Taiwan.

I also just returned from a mountain hike up in Jade Mountain. One of the girls I met here is also into photography, and when she found out that I also did photography, she included me with a group of people to visit Jade Mountain. Visiting the mountain is regulated: you have to submit your group to a lottery to obtain a permit to visit the mountain. In our case, we went with a tour guide. We left Friday night to one of the lodges at the bottom of the mountain. Saturday morning we made our 6 hour trek up to the lodging right below the peak of the mountain. The beginning of the day was quite pleasant, but it started to pour rain as I reached the lodging.

At 3am on Sunday morning, we made our ascension to the peak of the mountain, which took less than 2 hours. Since there’s no available light, we had head flashlights to guide us through. The peak is 3952 ft above sea level (which is higher than Mt Fuji surprisingly), and was about 5 degrees Celsius. I had no problems with the temperature, but the wind chill was pretty nasty. Man, being there felt so surreal. I’ve seen many a sunrises during my photo excursions, but nothing like this. When you look out at the distance, you see the stars in the darkness of the sky with the mountains hidden in shadow. You only have a thin, unbroken horizontal highlight splitting the sky and mountains. The closest feeling I could describe is being in space.

space

After arriving back in Taipei, the next morning, I could not believe how my legs felt. My calves were so tight that I could barely manage any stairs. I think it was a combination of lack of sleep and the 30 pound gear I was carrying on my back. But, it was all worth it. I’m just not going to be climbing any mountains any time soon.

Look!  No muscles!

Hopefully my next post will include details about my trip around Taiwan during my school break.

I <3 great ads

EA’s response to the Youtube post above (which seems to be legit considering the titles of his other videos).

Rad!

Pax 2008 Wallpaper

Our “convention” is coming up in 2 weeks, so what’s the best way to kick out another promotional blog post without seeming to obvious about it?  Why by mocking our only real competition

mocking our only real competition
of course.  The sad part is that they really aren’t kidding.

Guess who came into town…

For all you old Wildstormers…

Where were you E?!

ac_lounge_sm.jpg

The Passing of Kings

 kings.jpg

One of the Kings of Comedy and arguably the King of R&B.

Two voices of originality and creativy in the din of pre-packaged hacks, silenced…

Gentlemen, thank you. You will be missed.

The Book — or lack thereof

Just a quick update about my book, Telling Stories With Color:

It’s on hiatus.

I’ve gone through several drafts now of each chapter, and seriously? It’s been getting worse and worse. It was supposed to go to press on September 10 — and I might have been able to hit that deadline, and might have even liked the work I did, if I had no other distractions and could concentrate solely on the book for the next five weeks. Since that’s clearly not an option with my work schedule, I finally came clean with Virgin and said, “I can’t do this. I’m unhappy with the direction the book’s going in; I’m unhappy with the lack of support; I’m very unhappy with how little time I can spend on it to make it right. I’m willing to pull the plug on it entirely at this point.” So the editor (Charlie Beckerman, who’s awesome to work with) calmed me down and said he’d talk with the EIC and the CEO. The EIC and CEO both decided that my book is kind of a rogue project (they’ve never published a ‘textbook’ before), and they need to concentrate their marketing and publishing efforts on their core comics for the time being, so it’s perfectly fine if we put my rogue book aside for now and come back to it later.

This doesn’t mean that it’s not being published. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be published by Virgin, but it’s too soon to address that yet. If in six months they decide that they don’t want to do the book, I have the freedom to take everything but the images and republish elsewhere. Pretty sweet.
I’m hoping that, after Secret Invasion is done, I can carve out some time to go back to the writing phase with a clear head and no pressure, and really make the book what it needs to be — less of a “how-to” and more of a “why”. The how-to’s have already been done, and done well; besides, no one needs a whole chapter on calibrating your monitor. (Well, some people do need that, but it can be a sidebar, not a whole chapter.) I need to concentrate on WHY colors do what they do, and if there’s any how-to to discuss, it’s how to choose a smart color scheme or how to determine a light source. That kind of thing.

So, that’s the haps. I will have a book out on the shelves one day, but it’ll bear very little resemblance to the current version.

我很忙,可是不錯.

Well, a little more than a month has passed since I’ve been in Taiwan. So far, so good.

My Chinese studies has been going well. My class at Shida consists of 8 students in total, including me. There are two Koreans, one Japanese girl, three Vietnamese, and one Mongolian. I’ve been hanging out with the two Koreans and Japanese girl, which is an interesting dynamic. The Korean girl and the Japanese girl doesn’t speak much English, so whenever the Korean girl (YunJung) mentions something, the Korean guy (Alex) will translate it to me in English, then I relay that to the Japanese girl (Masako) in Japanese. It’s actually getting to the point where we’re having an easier time conversing in Chinese. Writing, reading, and speaking Chinese hasn’t been too bad for me, but listening still kicks my ass. Besides those classmates, the Vietnamese dudes are some of the most awful students that I’ve ever met. Alex dubbed them The Three Stooges, and I pointed out who Moe, Larry, and Curly were. They’re always late to class, talking amongst themselves during class, look over each others test, and have the most horrible pronunciations. Oh, and they’re always trying to mack on the two girls in our class. I really have to give those two girls credit, I’ve witnessed so many times students studying abroad who only hang out with people of their own nationality, but those two girls don’t feel comfortable associating with their own kind.

classmate

I felt the class at Shida was way too slow for me, so I decided to sign up for another school at TLI. This class is in the afternoon, after my morning class at Shida, and is one on one with the teacher. This class is definitely way more intense, maybe a little too intense for me. At some point, I was debating whether to continue studying at Shida or not. I finally decided to stay at the same school for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons was my teacher at Shida. She mentioned to me that she also felt that the class was way too slow for me, and highly suggested that I and the Japanese girl (we’re the two top students in our class) go to the intensive course for the next quarter. The biggest hurdle is that we have to make up for the lesson chapters that our class will not cover. Our current class only covers from lesson 1-6, but the next intensive course starts after lesson 10. Fortunately, my class at TLI has already covered much of the material in lessons 7-10. So my teacher at Shida has been spending a little extra time with us to get us properly prepared. The other main reason to stay at Shida is my visa. My visa was issued under Shida’s name, and if I change schools, then I have to go through the hassle of getting my visa reissued. The last reason is cost. I heard of another school that was more focused on studying, but was much more expensive. I’ve always felt it’s not what the school can do for you, but what YOU can do with that school.

Okay, that’s about it for my academics. I’m finally settling down here. The room I initially stayed in was tiny and had no windows, which pretty much describes a jail cell. The only benefit was that it was free because the parents of one of my friends (Angela) here own several rooms in a building that they live across from and let me stay for free, but I knew I eventually had to find my own place, especially since my friend was flying back to the UK to continue her studies. I finally moved into my new place last week. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than the other places that I’ve checked out. What I like is that the room is quite spacious, clean, has a window, fairly cheap, has a free washer on the roof, and close to my school. What I don’t like is that there’s a building just 6 feet away from my window, so I get no real sunlight, there’s no fridge, the internet is slow, and kind of far from the girl I’m currently seeing. But under the circumstances, I really can’t complain. I’m going to start exercising and today I’m going to check out one of the parks in my area. The landlady has been quite nice and has helped me get things that I need for my place. I also finally have my own mobile phone. It was too much trouble to get a contract, so I’m using a prepaid card.

squeeze!

Every Sunday I’ve been teaching swing dance lessons at one of the bars in downtown Taipei. It’s something that I didn’t volunteer for, but I felt obligated because Angela recently left and was the one who was teaching the swing lessons. On the plus side, it’s a great way to meet other Taiwanese people. On the other side, I’m no longer interested in swing dancing, I’m not paid, and I feel the people who’s been showing up are more interested in dating than dancing. I’ll probably keep doing this for another month, before I try to gracefully bow out.

dance

I haven’t really done any photo excursions since I’ve been here. The most major shooting that I’ve done was for a fashion show that one of my friends (Stella) had free tickets for. I’ll be posting those pics on my Flickr soon. Otherwise, I’m planning to visit one of the tallest mountains here in Taiwan.

fashion

Okay, that’s it from me! Hope that wasn’t too boring of a read.

金東旭