Sunday, February 26, 2012

Apartment Found

I've been busy the past couple of weeks trying to find a suitable and affordable apartment in Macau. When I came for my job interview June, 2011, I was led to believe rents were not that expensive. But, the situation is not what I expected. Yes, there are plenty of jobs here in Macau and business is booming. But that also means there is great demand for housing as many people are moving here. So after looking at 3 bedroom apartments, and not finding anything that I felt reasonably priced, I decided a two-bedroom would have to make do. On Saturday morning I found one that had some nice features to it: good location, near shopping, the university, and bus stops, next to a wooded hill, fully furnished, and the back door opens to a private access rather large balcony that is on the roof of the building (even though it is on the ground floor, if you can imagine that. Hint: the building is built into a hill.) I paid the deposit on Saturday and will sign the lease for one year with the owner on Monday. Then I move in this week. I've found it convenient to live on the university campus, but look forward to having a larger place with a kitchen and all the amenities of a "home."

In other news, I've been following the "Jeremy Lin" story along with millions of others. Today I read a news article and discovered that Jeremy's father's hometown is in Beidou, Taiwan. That's a place in Taiwan that I know very well as it is located next to my wife's hometown. The town is famous for it's food stalls and "Beidou Bawan" (Bawan is Taiwanese for a kind of meatball.) Every time we go to Beidou we always buy our fair share of Bawan. Two years ago I got new glasses and contacts in a shop in Beidou. I can say with confidence that I know the town better than Jeremy Lin. The town's residents must be going crazy with the Jeremy Lin phenomenon!

Below and on this link you can see some of the famous foods in Beidou. Bawan is the dish in the center. Very delicious!!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Time Passes

It's been a busy week for me in Macau. I completed and turned in a document that has the "Methods" section for research activities I plan to carry out this year with support from a Univ of Macau grant. Then I learned that I had to turn in another form to recruit and advise PhD students. I finished that this week. On Friday, a potential student came to me and asked if I'd be her sponsor. So that was fast! Fortunately she is a journalist and teacher and does not need funding. That means I can supervise both her and one other funded student. I'm also preparing documents for my work permit, and my daughter's stay permit. And finally, I went to my first Cantonese language class on Wednesday. I've signed up for a 30 hour class that meets Monday and Wednesday evenings. My first impression is that the teacher is good and course materials helpful. I hope to gain a basic knowledge and then improve my speaking and listening ability on my own.

I'm preparing to run a full marathon in Taipei on March 18. Arrangements are now set and all I have to do is put in the necessary miles. Last Saturday I ran on the trails for 2 hours and 34 minutes. I knew that I had to run longer, and did this morning, running for 3 hours and 7 minutes. It's hard for me to know how far that is as most of the run is on trails. The terrain is uneven and there is a lot of up and down, so my average running speed is slower than it would be if I ran on roads. But I estimate that I covered at least 20 miles. (Trail running is physically more demanding than road running as you're using more lower leg muscles to maintain balance, in addition to the work of going up and down steep hills.) At the end, while I was tired, I didn't feel too bad. The final 20 minutes was on sidewalks and roads and I was able to pick up the pace and felt quite good. So I'm encouraged and am confident that I am in shape to complete the marathon, and hopefully run faster than I did last year in the Oklahoma City Marathon, going under 3 hours and 30 minutes. That's my goal.

Today is our anniversary. Donna and I were married 23 years ago, on a sunny day in Taichung, Taiwan. We've been together for every anniversary since, except for today. I miss her and the family. But it's only temporary. She's coming to see me in March and we'll celebrate then. Next year we'll be together here in Macau, with our daughter Pearl. Here's to many more years together!

I found these scanned copies of our wedding studio photos. We were so young and beautiful then!! Today we're still beautiful. But the beauty has gone from the outside to the inside.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Comment on Taiwan's recent Presidential Elections

I was watching the Presidential election in Taiwan with interest these past months. While my sympathies were with Tsai Ing-wen, I thought that Ma Ying-jeou would probably be re-elected. While he did not do all that he promised 4 years ago (what politician can claim that), and he seemed too close to China, my sense is that he did not do a bad job. Certainly the opening of direct flights with China, greater academic exchanges, tourism, etc., are positives. Taiwan's economy is very much connected with China and needs to be given space to grow in that way. Politically, however, the people of Taiwan are not interested in being ruled from Beijing. Most see themselves as "Taiwan Ren 台灣人" first, and some sort of cultural Chinese "Hua Ren 華人" second (or perhaps third). Taiwan does not see Beijing as the center, and I doubt that will change for this or the next generation. Tsai Ing-wen ran a great campaign and projected a professionalism and vision for Taiwan that was positive. Yet this did not seem to be her turn. She might win if she runs 4 years from now, but not this time.

The best explanation I've seen of the election results that focuses on the Taiwan-China, and to a lesser degree US-connection, is in this editorial by Yuriko Koike, Japan's former minister of defense and National Security Adviser. I'm biased in this assessment because it matches well with what I think. But this is right. I was in Taiwan when China shot missiles over Taiwan in 1996, and it was effective in bolstering Lee Teng-hui's support and pushing people away from China. Chen Shui-bian was also helped in his two successful campaigns by Beijing's objections. This time Beijing stayed quiet and the outcome was different. Let's hope this is good for Taiwan-China relations.