Sunday, November 29

How to send letters to me!

Finally! And it was written above my door the whole time (in Chinese, of course). I didn't know where to look. Here's my address:

Simon Braunstein
210-1 Wunsin Rd, Floor 9, F-2
Gushan District, Kaohsiung County
Taiwan 804

Thursday, November 26

Old shoes and new raquets.

The following news is highly classified, and should be repeated as many times as possible, because there is no point in it being classified. Pictures will accompany this post shortly.

1. I am now trading English lessons for ping pong lessons with a teacher at my school--yesterday was my first lesson. My teacher told me that his English name is Federer. I am training to play the principal again next week. I have developed something of a fierce forehand,I think.

2. I am going to thanksgiving dinner tonight! I was up last night at 1 AM making mashed potatoes. I'll rush home to make the stuffing today. It's going to be at the apartment of my new friend Mitsuru. We're running friends, as of this week. I know you were sad that I wasn't planning on celebrating, Mom, and apparently someone got the psychic message and invited me.

3. I made an apple pie last night, to give to the people at work...share the Thanksgivin'. It's a comforting feeling to be able to bake here...even though it took a heck of a lot of time getting the ingredients together for the first time. It's not that they're hard to find, really...although spices are challenging. It's more that everything is packaged differently, and in a different place than it normally is.

And now for the video game thought of the bleedin' day:

Who remembers Super Metroid? Who played it over and over again, with a fervent passion, besides me and my 12-year-old friends? Who can name what makes it so special? Is it the atmosphere? At this point, I'm inclined to think so. That's because I recently invested in an XBox 360 to play a game that was supposedly inspired by it. It's called Shadow Complex. See the resemblance in gameplay?

I won't lie--Shadow Complex was most of the reason I bought the XBox. Quality platformers are so few and far between these days--and I was psyched to support a guy who clearly had his dogmatic video-game-loving head on straight. But as I played it, I was non-plussed. Yes, it was beautiful. Yes, it was fun to play. But it lacked something. That something, I think, is atmosphere. Super Metroid establishes a kind of "alone in space" feeling very well, and achieves with a minimal story line what Shadow complex only manages to bungle by trying to be contemporary and political. It's unfortunate, because the visual design elements in Shadow Complex clearly were on par with Super Metroid, even considering that it's coming out 20 years later.

Ah, le sigh.


Mandarin Character of the Friggin' Day:

= Meat.

Add onto any animal, and it means the meat that the animal gives. So goat meat is . Chicken (the animal) is 鸡. But the meat of the chicken is 鸡. Get it?

Monday, November 16


I have a kitty! This is what she looks like.

Her name is Macaroni. She's awesome. We have conversations. I know more Chinese than she does, although she is a local. She can only say "mao," which is the Chinese word for "cat". There are few things I can promise in this world, but I can promise there will be more pictures of her doing ridiculous things. When I go to bed, she lays down next to me (until she gets up in the middle of the night and OPENS DRAWERS (no joke). It's pretty funny.

I got her from a service called "BARK" in Taiwan, which stands for....something Animal Rescue Kaohsiung. I don't know about the B. But basically they pay for her food and bring it to me, and they provided any equipment I need for her。

In other news, the principal of the school has challenged me to a ping pong match, this wednesday at 3 PM。 People are telling me I should lose on purpose.

In any case, I'm going to a birthday party tonight, and all is well.

Here's a link to a video of the concert I went to at the concert in which Lee's wife, Lily, was singing. There was some pretty wacky/ awesome stuff going on there. About half of the concert was lip-synced. With fabulous outfits, of course. Oh! And there should be a short video of walking around at my school. Be forwarned, though, both files are about 27 mb's.

Czech it! I am outta hea.

Thursday, November 12

From the new homestead.

Here are some photos of the new apartment. Video, possibly, when I get it more settled and have a higher bandwidth. But this is a sneak peak (mostly at my mess).

Ahh! Off to teach.


Wednesday, November 11

Adorable moments in government employment.

So, today, I walked into the Dean's office during lunch today, at 1:00 PM (Lunch on Wednesdays is half of the entire day, from 12-4). About 10 adults work in that office. And wouldn't you know? Every single person in the office was sleeping, head on desk. One of them woke up and asked me, smiling, what I wanted. I asked if Nina, the Dean, was around. She pointed to the dean's office, a door in the back of the room, and said she was sleeping. She said she would wake up in twenty minutes. I just smiled.

Ahhh, it's just terrible here. I might be forced to take up cartooning again.

Tuesday, November 10

Simon--1. Real Estate Agents--0.

Simon Braunstein and his wagon of exciting news comes to town today. I apologize for my extreme exuberance.

Exciting event #1: I may have chosen an apartment. It is on Bo-ai 2nd road and Wunsin. Yes, it's a little closer to town than I'd like. Yes, it's a ten minute scooter ride to the train station. Yes, it has a loft and Japanese wood paneling everywhere, and a balcony, and is right next to a park, and costs approx. $360 US a month. Yes, it's a doorman building. Yes, it comes with leather furniture, a small balcony, a mostly complete kitchen, a washing machine, and a hot tub with whirlpool jets. No, I have not taken any pictures. Yes, I have drawn some blueprints in MS paint. Oh, and before you ask, yes, it does have cute stairs going up into the loft that look like they belong on a ship. And an office. Did I mention the office? Did I mention the wall-mounted speakers that may or may not work? The whole place is awesome. I'll take pictures for ya'll tomorrow, as I'm going to stay there tomorrow night just to try it out, before I go all in for it. And I found it on my own, basically. So no agent fee. My landlady is a nice woman named Sonica who speaks little English. Oh, heavens, no, that could never get complicated.

Exciting event #2: I shall own a cat by Sunday. A neutered and vaccinated animal that was rescued goes for 60 bucks or so, here. The woman with the apartment says she's okay with the cat, as long as I agree to pay for anything the cat damages. So let's be CAREFUL, okay, cats of the universe?

Exciting event #3: This Sunday, I go running with some of my co-workers, just before I get a cat. Yay!


筷子 kaitze
Do you see what I see? Two characters? The first one has two little star thingies on top. Those represent bamboo. The bottom two little symbols mean "fast". The second character, the big one that looks like a scepter with a line going through it, means "son". Could it be? Is this the chinese character for...alpine skis?
It's the character for chopsticks.


It is considered rude to stab things with your chopsticks. Girls often cover their mouths if they speak while eating. I haven't seen men do it I am forced to believe it is something girls are expected to do, or something.


Half of the KTVs here (KTV = Karaoke Television, bars with karaoke in them) are just covers for strip clubs, where, I am told, pretty much everything except actual sexual penetration takes place. Strip clubs here are, apparently, a lot different than they are in the US. I would like to emphasize that this is what I was TOLD, and not what I saw, nor is it what I intend to experience. I learned more than this from conversation, and I'll tell you more if you really want to know, but you'll have to catch me in a less public venue.


didn't come out here
to rough it
we came to smooth it.
things are rough
in town.

Sunday, November 8

On different kinds of people you meet.

Sometimes you meet people who do more things than you. They start businesses and invest. They have two and a half full-time jobs. They are interested in you getting involved in their new projects. They have many different hobbies, and they seem to be good at all of them. Sometimes these people are kind, and other times they are cocky. Sometimes you want to be around them. Other times you want to be them. They claim that, really, they have no job. That they don't work, because they love their work.

Sometimes, you're happy just being you. And you wonder what they're all rushing around for. Who needs 50% share in an organic restaurant, anyway? But then you go home. And you get on your tiny computer. And you wonder why you're not rushing around. What else is there, really?

You decide not to worry about it. Clearly, you cannot be happy yourself if you are trying to be other person's version of happy. Meanwhile they're out there, flirting, making friends, designing exciting new sushi dishes for their organic restaurants, collaboratively writing business and lesson plans, finding popular Micheal Jackson songs to convert and play on the acoustic guitar, and doing unusual things that people will want to ask them about, especially at parties.

They are getting material for the fantastic, revealing novel about life and work that they never intend to write. Your novel is about sitting in front of a screen, and pushing certain keys at certain times. Your novel is about the girl at the lotto stand, who gave you about fifteen hints about how much she liked eating dinner, wink wink, but you just didn't feel like asking her out. After all, it's Sunday, she's got bad hair, and you have work in the morning.

You worry that you might have been one of these people at one time, but that you no longer are capable of the same things as they are. Of being superfunctional. Or worse, that you were never capable of being so vibrant, so excited, so involved. They have a list of things to do. You have only a list of things on your list. Life doesn't always feel like this, but it does sometimes.

Thursday, November 5


There are the latest photos. Some of the city, some of the apartment I'm thinking of living in, one of my favorite courtyard of the school. It's a pretty fabulous location.

Everything is just fine! Getting along. Got paid today, wot? Got an envelope full of cash. How unusual, says I?


In the search for ourselves,
we drove ourselves to peaces.

If I learned anything,
it's that there is no right person,
just right people.
You find one, you put work in,
and you make it work.
Then a peice of someone doesn't fit,
and you reach for the scissors.

Or you might not, depending on how badly
you want it