October 22, 2015

B@tTaiwan Podcast #2: The Expat Is Us Edition https://soundcloud.com/phatbatt/episode-02-the-expat-is-us

The response to Episode 1 was enough of a reinforcement that I got to work on #2 The Expat is Us  right away. Thanks for your suggestions and encouraging words.

"Got to work right away" is not in the least an overstatement...I got distracted, about a week into it.

This time, though I learned a bunch of new things about recording. I've started working with Abelton Live and a Novation Launchpad to produce music-ish sounds. I also cheated and used a couple loops straight from the Garageband catalogue.

Interviewing Michael Turton is a blast because he knows everything about Taiwan and things kind of go on autopilot. This is a sin I paid for later when editing. I think something got missed out. Still very much a learning experience on this end.

Since the first show, I've really been blown away by the number of people who have been kind enough to reach out and tell me what they liked, and for the people who took the time to offer constructive criticism. That helped; keep it coming!


The View From Taiwan: michaelturton.blogspot.com

October 01, 2015

B@Cast Podcast Episode 01--"The I Have No Idea What I'm Doing" Edition

EPISDOE 1: I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

I got one in the can! I got one in the can! Hawt Dawg!

This is the one where I started in Garageband and did a music bed, then decided that that was too easy and shifted over to Adobe Audition and thought that was pretty cool,  but it took a good four weeks to discover that I oughta just go back to Garageband and finish the podcast and learn Audition when I need to learn Audition.

So I came back to Garageband where I can spend my time that I'm not standing in front of a class talking on a Thursday, to sit behind a microphone and continue talking.  I'm sure that there are worse uses of my free time.

I'm looking for anybody with an interesting to tell. I've got some ideas, you've got some ideas. Let me hear your ideas. Tweet me!

And, if you manage to hear this in the next 24 hours or so, make sure that you head out to Red Room Taipei to hear the short stories!

Show Notes:

RED ROOM TAIPEI: www.redroomtaipei.com

ROUND TABLE READ ALOUD: http://redroomtaipei.com/a-round-table-readaloud-2-oct-2015/

Contact Me:

Twitter: @phatbatt

August 12, 2015

No, I Don't Blog, Do I?

Well, I think Facebook has just made me lazy. Writing takes a bit of time. Tweeting takes about as much time as it does thought, especially when re-tweeting. Most of the writing I've done in the last 8 years has been on one or the other. Or it's been in the form of lesson plans or final exams.

I haven't written because I haven't seen the point, beyond the pleasure of putting one word next to another, and the way I've been living my life for the last little bit hasn't offered the opportunity for simple pleasures.

There are so many excuses to not write. Busy. Mundane.

I've got to convince myself that there are more reasons to write than there are to not write. Uhh....I like it. Writing is gouda.

Cheese or not, it's what I like to do. But why blog? I could write and be happy in my Day One journal, right? No. That's not enough. Gotta see my name in lights. And what better place to show that I'm an individual being than the Internets?

Time to Crank Up the Old Content Mill

I think it's safe to assume that most people who used to read this blog have stopped, given up hope of ever seeing anything here again. That certainly frees me up to try something new.  Watch this space.

You still watching? I have no earthly idea what I'm doing, but as school is about to start, I might as well find something to distract myself from "important matters." To that end, I've purchased a bitchin' USB microphone called The Blue Yeti. I like it I like it I like it. It's also given me the opportunity to get back to work on figuring out Garage Band. I'm way behind the curve on this. I've had it for at least five years now and haven't produced any major hit records.

Pat Flynn's Podcast Tutorials have thus far been super helpful as has the excellent website PodcastAnswerMan.

I should take a moment and thank Brian Hartenstein for drinking too much with me and having brain diarrheas over many nights as we we talked about who to interview and what to talk about and this, that, and the other. He's a great guy. Buy his book.   Or just steal a copy from his classroom. He'll never miss it.

Ok, let me get back to work. Just, y'know. Keep an eye on this space.

December 16, 2013

Tag, Wallzit

Nice clean wall, meet Thick black marker.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Dasyue Road,Situn District,Taiwan

June 04, 2013

The Shakes

Early Sunday afternoon we were preparing to leave Xitou Forest after a nice long walk in the woods. We had spent the night in the lodge and were a little sore and ready to make the 90-minute drive back to Taichung and begin another week of work. The kids were in the backseat and the doors were closed, but Maggie hadn't put the key in the ignition yet.

Suddenly, I felt like I was six years old again and my brother Peter was standing on the rear bumper of the family Chevrolet station wagon, bouncing it up and down on the springs. Wondering how the hell Franklin could be making the car shake so violently from the inside of the car, I turned my head to the right to look back at him.

Before I turned all the way around, I saw that the writing on the mini-bus next to us was rolling up and down with at least six inches of amplitude. About this time I became aware of the sound of the bedrock below us growling more persistently as the shaking increased in intensity.

I looked at Maggie. No one had to say "earthquake." We looked around. The hotel in front of us was about 20 meters away behind a stand of bamboo and pine trees. If there had been some place to run, we might have, but the car seemed to be our best protection against falling wood so we waited it out.

The sound of an insistent and continuing crash reached us inside the car. I looked towards the entrance of the park expecting to see a hotel fall across the pavement, but it never happened, and I realized it must have been a landslide. It sounded distant.

It only lasted about 30 seconds, but the shaking seemed to go on for much longer as all the quarks in my being regained their equilibrium leaving me with a strange uneasiness that lasted for several minutes. I stepped out of the car, wobbling slightly on steady ground, and looked around the parking lot at all the other wobbly people looking at me.

There were no shouts, no panic, just a brief reprieve from business as usual. I walked to an information booth and tried to ask if there had been any major damage, but the girls just smiled and said, "We're okay." When I turned to go back to the car, I scanned the ridge line just below the clouds and saw that the mountain face had slid off leaving a triangle of cleanly shaven rock with some traces of dust lingering in the wind.

Our car joined the line of cars from parts unknown deeper in the mountains headed to other parts unknown further down or out of the mountains. The first place we came to was the township of Lugu. I had hoped a cup of coffee from the local 7-11 might calm my nerves a bit, but when I got to the door, I saw that it was blocked by shipping crates and that the whole store smelled like it had been on a bender. There was a pile of chocolate on the floor and the back wall was shore to a sea of beer. 7-11 was closed. Never in my life have I seen such a thing. Never will I forget. I've lived through 13 typhoon seasons and never has nature closed down 7-11. 6.3-6.6 degrees of magnitude will do that.

The roads were packed and movement was sporadic. There were no signs of any major structural damage as far as I could see, but there were several boulders the size of basketballs along the sides of the roads and chunks of branches being knocked about by car tires.

Further down the mountain, there were more convenience stores in cleanup mode, in fact whole communities, it seemed, were out sweeping up debris. Tea shops, souvenir stands, and furniture stores were all still standing with no visible damage to their structures, but inside, the damage was obvious and costly. Bookshelves, and display cases lay at odd angles with contents spilled out upon the floor. Small mountains of broken porcelain stood outside some places, and man-sized pieces of treated red cypress formed a ruck inside others.

When I saw the first ambulance, I told myself that it could be a coincidence; there have been ambulances in the mountains before. The second ambulance was almost as easily brushed off, but eventually, when nine of them had come and gone, I realized that some people emerged from the afternoon with more than wobbly knees to speak of. By the side of the road, amongst a pile of broken pots and planters, an elderly woman was having her head attended to by a young man. In a lodge in the town where I'd drunk a beer the evening before, a man lay dying of a head wound.

This isn't the largest Taiwan in living memory for much of the population. I arrived a few months later than the 7.6 temblor that struck the same area as the one yesterday. I am perfectly happy to have not experienced a 7+ quake, and these smaller ones are more than enough to begin a new round of "So-when-ya-comin'-home" questions from the family in hurricane-, wildfire-, and tornado-prone parts of the US.

The time has not come.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

February 20, 2013

Thinking of it as a Gift

I've really got no idea what I'm doing, but this is, as they say, familiar territory for me.

I don't know whether teaching is an art or a science. I hope it's both and that it's ok if I mix in a little more of one than the other. If not, I've been doing it wrong since 1998.

An incredibly interesting semester seems to be upon us. For the first time in a long time, there appear to be fewer restrictions on what & how to teach.

I am fortunate to be working in a school with a new campus and equipment that was in sight of cutting edge when the purchase orders were approved for it last year. I'm also lucky enough to have at least several students out of over 100 that are motivated to learn and to create.

Like any other school in Taiwan, there are communication problems, misunderstandings, and extended periods of mind-numbing annoyance.  There is a certain equilibrium between students that have changed my hair color from what it looks like on my ID photo to what it looks like on my head, and the students who snooker me into thinking that ok, perhaps I can do this teaching thing for just one more year.

I need to work out which set is more detrimental to my well-being.

February 15, 2013

Happy Year of the Snake

I Get Knocked Down...And I Get Up Again
 In Japan, this guy is called Darumasan. He's shaped like a weeble, in that he wobbles, but he don't fall down. The Darumasan toy that the Japanese have is a little smaller than this one, which was about four feet high, but like its American counterpart, he falls down and doesn't get back up.

Actually, when we say "eenie, meenie, miney, moe" the Japanese say, "Darumasan ga korounda" which means, Mr Daruma falls down, but he gets back up. There's a lesson in perseverance to be had.

This particular Darumasan was waiting in the downstairs lobby of the American Institute in Taiwan's Kaohshiung branch office where we went a few weeks back to get my daughter's passport sorted out. I asked the guard what this guy was called in Chinese, and he wasn't too sure. He guessed that it was DaMo.  I'm not too sure.

Gods Visiting a Local Shrine for the Holiday.
At the Lunar New Year, it's time for the gods to go back to heaven to have a big dinner party. I asked my relatives if it was kind of like the year-end Wei-ya that our company has before the holiday, and I assume that I wasn't too far off-base which is close enough for me. So the gods have been working hard all year granting wishes to all the folks who want their businesses to grow and whatnot; hard work, need a break, as do we. Their year-end party is a mother of a blow out, that lasts for ... well, what is time to the gods? It goes on for a while by our standards. All around the world, people send snacks to heaven via the incense network.  Below is a collection of dishes for the potluck of the patriarchs ( a term I choose for its alliterative quality, not because I have any idea what I'm talking about.)
It doesn't matter what the dishes are, but the gods have to have 12 of them. 

Food is all well and good, but we like to have a little walking around money, and so do the gods. God money comes in all denominations, and is often budgeted strictly for clothes or certain kinds of food.
This is called Shou-shen. It's money used to grease the wheels in heaven and attract blessings. 
This is for kids. When kids have a problem, this is what the gods are given to bless the young-uns. 
Money to burn.
Da Jia Gong Xi
The statuary gets red envelopes, too. 
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January 25, 2013

Quality Is Coming

Not now. But it's coming.

July 26, 2012

What Else Can I Do But Sit and Watch

I got one of those emails the other day. You know the kind I mean. 18 point font, lots of exclamation points, multi-colored text. And, unfortunately, the sender hasn't realized the function of the BCC window in his email composer, so the entire CC list of 83 email addresses was before me. If I were a nefarious individual, which I claim not to be, I might try to do something nefarious with such a long CC list.

Is this short enough to quote here?

Attorney General Holder says,
Guess they were not happy with the poll results the first time, so USA today is running another one...Vote now...
Attorney General Eric Holder, has already said this is one of his major issues. He does not believe the 2nd Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms. This takes literally 2 clicks to complete. Please vote on this gun issue question with USA Today. Then pass the link on to all the pro-gun folks you know. Hopefully the results will be published later this month.
Here's what you need to do:
First - vote.
Second- Send it to other folks,
               then we will see if the results get published.
Click to vote:


Sure, why not. In my email, the font is HUGE, and I swear there are five different colors. I voted, and the pro-gun-control folks were taking a shellacking, 98%-2.

This may be the third time I've gotten such an email from this older relative of mine, and each warning is just as preposterous as the one previous. Normally what I do, is I check Snopes.com for the history of the story, and then email everyone on the CC list back, and entreat them not to take such foolishness to heart.

But this gun control discussion, needs to open up. It needs to be a dialogue. We need to find common ground and hold it. So, I wrote back.

Can anyone give me some context for the alleged stance of Eric Holder towards your right to have a gun to protect your castle? Any video, or links to his comments on the matter. As much as I would like to take the original poster's word for it, I have no idea who the gentleman is and you know what Mom said about accepting shiny (or large multi-colored font-laden) things from strangers.

Also, I'd expect the results of this sort of poll to be somewhat skewed as gun rights supporters are the ones who are actively passing this around. I'm also pretty sure that USA Today does not have as wide a readership as one my suspect, but no matter.

I hope you get to keep your guns. I would hate to see on the news what would happen if the police/army attempted to go house to house and pry them out of your cold dead hands. Besides, apart from the time a teenager, pointed a loaded shotgun in my face, I'm sure most gun owners teach their kids to handle weapons responsibly, and the occasional 4 year old that takes one to school and blows away a classmate is just acceptable to ensure our wider freedoms.  I think the guy I knew in college who shot off his Glock in the middle of town, pointing just over the tree line knew what he was doing, because he'd had military training...driving tanks. But I digress. We've made our bed, let's get comfortable in it.

There are tons of stories on the net about people who have interfered with robberies, burglaries, home invasions, attempted rapes, etc. and shot the suspect dead. I know this because it's easy to find these stories on the net. It's just as easy to find stories about kids who take guns to school, or who are accidentally killed by firearms. These two kinds of sites are separated by some great divide where neither side appears to care much what they other one says. Our nation is so polarized and isolated that I think the chances of us getting together and making progress with a national dialogue is impossible because we've accepted the demonization of anyone who believes differently from us. 

I know gun people. I am not one. The ones I know who are irresponsible are by far in the minority. The sample size, however, is extremely limited as I live in Taiwan, where citizens don't have the right to purchase guns. (I've digressed before, I reserve the right to do again...there are stories of soldiers serving their compulsory military service standing on guard duty who have shot each other with their M-16's because they haven't been taught gun safety. The problem got so bad, that the bases stopped equipping guards with ammunition. Gangsters then drove up to the bases and stole the weapons from the hapless guards. There's a lesson for someone in there somewhere.) None of the gun people I know have cases of AK47's in their basements, or have purchased 100 round drum magazines. I think this is because for personal safety, these are not convenient tools for the job of getting the stranger off of your front porch. 

Surely there must be some people, though, in this Cc: list that consider themselves to be ProLife and who pray and struggle every day with knitted brow for an answer to end to deaths of innocents. To stand for something so noble is to be applauded. As the gun industry is almost entirely unregulated, aren't firearms providers just as culpable as abortion providers? 

I voted in the survey, btw. My side is taking a beating. 

Peace and Love to you all,

So I waited to see what might happen. I was immediately inundated with emails!

Apparently, someone's address book isn't up to date, and I got a lot of "there's no such address" replies from robots.

The next day, however, I got a living breathing person to reply. She works for an insurance company and asked me to take her off her  mailing list. Swing and a miss, for dialogue.

The next response was from Caroline H. who suggested the wording of the USAToday poll may have helped to slant the results. She suggested the question be "SHOULD the 2nd Amendment give citizens to right to bear arms?" instead of "does" and she would be hesitant to say yes. Baseball metaphors, while All-American and therefore Good, will not play out very well here because I'm either going to strike out, or get a piece of something. I'm not looking to knock anything out of the park here. If we're going to have a national dialogue, we're going to have to stop arguing and start listening to what the other side's concerns are.

There was another response when I woke up from David S:
First I want to make it clear that I am a Life Member of the NRA (National Rifle Association}.
For those of you that are not aware of a piece of Horrific history, in 1938 +/- a year or so, Adolf Hitler has all civilians turn in their firearms.
This was quickly followed up by the Holocaust!
I strongly urge that we tell the "liberals" in Washington to keep their hands off our Second Amendment rights
It took only three emails from human beings before Godwin's Law was invoked. Still, David and I are on different sides of this vast ideological gap. And he WROTE to me. It could be that I'm taking this email as an attempt to open a dialogue in the same way that I think that the cute Barista at Starbucks is hitting on me. Whether or not, he's typing on autopilot, I wrote back to him this morning:

Dave, thank you so much for writing back to me.

You are absolutely right about Hitler. However, I think you may be drawing a comparison that is a bit of a leap. I don't think that you are directly comparing our leaders in Washington to Hitler, nor do I imagine that you feel that our men in uniform from the top down would stage a coup and attack civilians at large.

As an NRA member, you're obviously a gun owner. If you've ever made purchases online, I think there's an option where you can round up your total to the next dollar and donate to the NRA. I don't think the battle over gun control has anything to do with taking away your 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms, but more with the NRA's desire to maintain this crucial influx of donations. Call it the trickle up theory if you will.

If you look at the phrase in question, "Gun Control,"--yes, I've seen the bumper sticker about steady hands--there is nothing at all that leads me to believe that anyone wants to take away your right to have guns. But, we do need more controls on what can be purchased. 

There's a reason that you can drive a pickup truck down the street, but not a McLaren F1 race car. Those cars are not street legal. I could buy a Bugatti Veyron, with a top speed of over 250 miles an hour, but if I drove it that fast in the city, I would have troubles.  If I had the money, and new how to fly, I could buy a jet, but I can't buy an F-16. They are regulated. There are certain drugs that can be purchased, and certain ones that have not been approved for consumption by Americans. 

Cars must be registered with the government. Your marriage, your house, your business, maybe farm equipment? I don't know. Elevators must be registered and inspected. Public fountains that feature lighting, must pass government safety standards. Doctors, lawyers, HAIRDRESSERS have to be licensed by some form of government regulation.

Yet, the argument is that registering guns limits your freedom. The purpose of a gun is to kill. And the industry is so loosely regulated that there are millions of guns all over America in who knows whose hands?

Cat's out of the bag. The guns have spread through both legal and illegal channels. They're out there. And there doesn't seem to be anything we can do about it.

I understand that in Juneau, Alaska where there is a high percentage of concealed carriers that the crime rate is quite low. I've read those studies, and I do not believe as I once did that all guns were bad. I know that it's a sport, I know that people hunt with them, and that they need them for protection.

What I don't understand is the availability of semiautomatic assault rifles with high volume magazines. An assault rifle, by its name is not a defensive weapon. Does anyone need 100 rounds at their fingertips to do anything except shoot at a lot of .... people?

The reason that I'm worked up and writing about this now--and I thank you greatly for reading this far--is that NONE of the things that would have disallowed this guy in Colorado from making those purchases online. He had no criminal record, he had no documented history of mental illness like the guy at Virginia Tech. In a few weeks, this guy purchased 6000 rounds, body armor, and guns. Are these not signs that he was planning to do something? They were, but we would have no way of noticing them, because...why?

If he had been limited to a 12 round magazine, he still would have killed people. And we would still be saying "What a shame, what a shame." But the body count would not have been nearly so high.

Sorry for going on so long. Thank you for taking the time to read this far. If we can continue to have a discussion on this topic, I would feel honored.

Haven't heard back from him yet. But I would like to ask him or anyone, if assault weapons are acceptable products for sale to the general public, what about hand grenades? Landmines? I almost had a boss who owned a few Sherman tanks, but that was a little different. Where, indeed, do you draw the line?