13 April 2015

APR: Week Two

Finding a decent slice in Taipei is hard, especially when you’re coming from New York. There’s rumors that a place called Little New York Pizzeria is pretty good, but I’ve yet to make the trek up there. One of my classmates was on a Taipei pizza hunt for awhile but gave up after tasting too many subpar selections. My general attitude toward Western food here is “no thanks.” I’m living in a land of cheap Chinese food, why am I going for expensive, underwhelming, other food? Plus the taste profiles tend to be all wrong. You should have seen this schwarma I tried out the other day. Wrongness. The bagels at Good Cho are pretty delicious though I must say, after just trying two.

On Monday my friend invited me to a photography exhibit on the ninth floor of a department store in Xinyi. It was this guy, Kazuyoshi Nomachi's National Geographic-esque photos from his travels following around pilgrims through India, Tibet, Africa, and Saudi Arabia. Pretty, and eye-catching, but the exhibits outside featuring paintings made from trash were more interesting. Still, you can’t argue with free.

Plus, I dropped my friend off afterwards for her date with A-mei, the Madonna of Taiwan. A-mei is an an indigenous Taiwanese pop star that came out during my high school years and she’s the one pop star that every Chinese-American probably knows. She was in the midst of a ten show run at Taipei Arena and her fans outside hummed with anticipation and excited energy. My friend’s friend was going three nights in a row. Talk about a pilgrimage.

We discovered beer pong. Or rather, a bar in Taipei that has a beer pong room downstairs. I’ve only played beer pong once, during house boating two years ago. I sucked then and I still suck now. In the U.S. beer pong is synonymous with frat parties but remove the douchebags and it’s really quite fun!

Also, I’ve noticed that explaining American culture to foreigners is pretty easy if they’re well versed in movies. “Frats” are easily explained by referencing Animal House or Old School, etc. The difficulty is in the details, such as trying to explain the various uses of “bro” and which are good versus bad. It’s harder to break down what makes “bro (culture)” idiotic as contrasted to indicating closeness through the use of the term. I, for one, have never called anyone “bro” in my life. In related news, I have never won a game of beer pong in my life.

After beer pong, we were all so hopped up on drinking mass quantities of beer that we waltzed out to Elektro and had a smashing great time on a Wednesday night — for the first time in awhile. Elektro has definitely shown itself to be superior to Myst in every sense. Better music, better crowds, better ambiance. And now better memories.

On Thursday, I headed to the airport to pick up my cousin and escort her to Taichung. My aunt and other cousin had arrived earlier that morning and were in Taichung already. Also arriving with my cousin was my brand new iPhone 6+ and iPad Mini. So yes, there were ulterior motives in my sudden trip to Taichung, but there were other non-tech related reasons too. Like going to see my uncle and great aunt, whom I haven’t seen since my first trip back here, last September. Plus it felt like a good weekend to get away and do nothing.

And do nothing was exactly what I did from Thursday until Sunday. While my aunt and cousins spent their time running around looking at wedding stuff — my cousin just got engaged and wanted a qipao — I just stayed up all night setting up my new iStuff and being tech productive. I literally didn’t even leave my uncle’s house all weekend as I would wake up when everyone got home and then stay up all alone through the night, tip tapping away. It was wonderful!

Oh, yeah, my iPhone 5 needed replacing because the rear camera broke (apparently a common issue) and not having it was messing up my life. Cue the melodrama. No Snapchats, no taking photos for my moblog, no way to take quickie reminder photos of things. Basically I just borrowed friends' phones all the time to snap photos and then had to bug them about sending them over for me. I contemplated living without a camera phone but in the end I just couldn't do it. I mean, without Snapchat who am I? How will my friends actually know what I’m doing? Will they forget me if I'm not transmitting ten six seconds of my life at a time?

The iPad Mini -- not that much bigger than the gigantic iPhone 6+ -- was sort of a luxury but my laptop was getting way too heavy and I was sick of carrying it around. That sucker is almost six years old and while I should probably upgrade, the thought of going iPad and best external keyboard was very enticing. "It's so light, it's so portable, I'd be so gadgety!" (Plus, I have a running list of iOS games that are only available on iPad. Hello Hearthstone and Magic 2015...)

My friend Barry, super author and Mac-ophile, has a series of posts about his various writing setups. “For the Tech of It” includes hardware and software breakdowns and since Barry is very prolific, I can’t help but be a more dedicated writer with his setup, right?... Oh, also! Barry and his wife, Morgan, who also works in publishing, now have a podcast! Go check out Writing in Real Life (WiRL). I love when friends start podcasts, it feels like I can still keep up with them, however one-sided the conversation might be.

I would also love to detail my weekend struggles with upgrading to Apple's new Photos app and trying to figure out why my iPhoto wasn't exporting, but I wouldn't want your excitement level to combust. Plus, a full-on podcast episode with AMR is long overdue about our (theoretical) solutions to photo bloat and efficient organization. Oh yeah, my podcast is here, but half the links are broken and new episodes are intermittent at best. Please come and be a guest?