Tuesday, May 31, 2005


P5290012, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Our day trip to Yingge. Yingge is close to Taipei and has a lot of interesting arts and crafts.

2005 TBA Champions

2005 TBA Champions
2005 TBA Champions, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Few team members missing, but this is the bulk of the 2005 TBA championship team. Picture taken at a nearby Thai restaurant for our victory lunch.

From left to right (back): Ieta, Jonathan, Dieu, Me, and Kevin.
From left to right (front) Gary, Alan (captain), and James.
Notable missing: Steve Q.

134, 36, 4

Tamshui Golf Course
Tamshui Golf Course, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Here's a picture of the Tamshui golf course where our Trend Micro company golf club played yesterday. It was the first time I've played on a "real course". I shot 134, my handicap is now 36, and I shot 4 on hole 5 which just happened to be par 4 :).

Goals: 120 (par), 100 (birdie)...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Yang Ming Shan-2005.05

P5220002, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Just a few pics from our short day trip to Yang Ming Shan (Mt. Yang Ming). It takes about an hour to get to Yang Ming Shan from our home depending on traffic. Today traffic was relatively light probably because during the afternoon it was around 30 degrees. However, on the mountain there was a nice breeze which kept things bearable.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Recent pics of Anna

P5210051, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Just uploaded some recent pics of Anna at the home.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Microsoft Web Seminar Archive

Is here.

Like other things offered free on the Internet, some useful nuggets buried amidst self-promotion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Commencement address from unemployed...

Here's a commencement address from Carly Fiorina to the graduating class of the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.

The line I like best from the address is:

"Living life defined by your own sense of possibility, not by others notions of limitations, is the path to success."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rain, rain, rain... 2001 flood flashbacks

Recently it has been heavily raining in Taipei. Whenever there's heavy rain I think about the floods in 2001 and the impact to Kate's family. Here's an email I sent describing the events in September of 2001:

It's been almost two weeks since northern Taiwan experienced the worst flood it has ever seen in over a hundred years. Over 80 people died, and nearly 200 were injured or missing. Major sections of the subway in Taipei are expected to be shut down for at least six months. On the news we saw parts of northern Taiwan where peoples' homes were washed away, sometimes with the occupants still inside.

For us, it started Sunday night around 8:00 PM and the rain was pouring outside when the news first announced that people living in most northern parts Taiwan, including Taipei, would have Monday off. This isn't all that uncommon during a big typhoon, but it doesn't happen very often either; when the city shuts down for a day that's a lot of lost productivity for an economy that can't afford too many lost productivity days. Since I could sleep in the next day, I thought "why not stay up a little later." I watched CNN, called friends in Canada, and then surfed the net. It was past three in the morning when I went to bed. Kate's parent's bookstore, which is located in the basement of a building, didn't even enter my thoughts. I went to sleep thinking about what we could do with Griffon cooped up inside all day. Meanwhile, the rain continued to pour...

After it felt like I had just closed my eyes, I was woken up by the sound of a ringing phone; the alarm clock read 7:30 AM. I knew it had to be one of Kate's relatives calling at this time and sure enough it was Kate's dad. He asked for Kate and I was more than happy to pass the phone to her. After Kate hung up the phone, she told me her parents were at their bookstore and told me to immediately go over with their uncle. I threw on some clothes, and walked across the street where the uncle lives. As I went outside the rain was still pouring. I jumped into the uncle's SUV (lots of clearance and big tires) and after some initial confusion at the parents-in-law's, I grabbed a hose (the word for pipe and hose is the same in Chinese) and we were on our way.

As we headed along Roosevelt Rd. besides the fact there was still a lot of rain and no traffic, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We turned right on Xinsheng S. Rd and as we passed Hoping E. Rd everything still looked normal. We continued up Xinsheng with Da-an park on our right side, and suddenly the road was so flooded there was no way we could make it to the next major intersecting road (Xin Yi). There were already a couple adventurous/dumb drivers who had went for it, but were now sitting in their stalled vehicles.

We took a left; a quick right and drove for awhile, and then turned right again. The small street that now lay ahead of us would lead us very close to Kate's parent's bookstore. However, on both sides of the street, handlebars of scooters broke the surface of the water, while people walked by, waist-deep in water. My uncle-in-law looked at me and said he didn't think we could make it. I told him we could walk, but then he decided to go for it. He scrunched his lip, gripped the steering wheel firmly, and pressed the gas pedal. We slowly plowed ahead and at the deepest part, water splashed over the hood. After a very long time, we made it to an elevated section of the road and soon arrived at the bookstore.

I walked down the stairs and saw about a couple of centimeters of water on the floor. Kate's mom said they had already moved all the lower stock to higher places. I walked around the store searching for the source of the incoming water. May be if I found the source we could plug it somehow or divert it. After I finished walking around the store, I still hadn't seen where the water was coming in. I headed to the back of the store where they have a small office and as I turned the corner, I saw fountains of water gushing out of the far wall. There were at least three places the water was pouring in. Kate's younger brother was using an electric pump to pump water into the adjacent bathroom toilet. The plug was connected to a high wall socket, and half the cord was submersed in the water. As I told him how dangerous it was, I grabbed the cord and placed it high out of the water.

Back in the main part of the store, the water had noticeably risen in a relatively short time. I looked on the wall and fixed a point that was a few inches from the water surface. I started getting some boxes ready and after around five minutes, the water level had already surpassed the point. We started grabbing what stuff we could, lugged it to the stairs in the next door apartment building.

When the water level was approaching lower-calf level it suddenly struck me; the power was still on. I looked up and Kate's parents, her uncle, and her brother were all in the water. I told Kate's dad that this was a very dangerous situation and that he should turn off the power. He agreed and after flipping the breaker switch, the lights went out and some weak emergency lights and flashlights became our only light source. Meanwhile the water continued to rise...

At the top of the stairs the metal door had come down about half way and we had to squeeze to get under it. Kate's dad turned the power back on to raise the door. However, after the door was raised, the power was still left on. I said to Kate's dad, you have to turn the power off. He said to me it was really inconvenient because then you couldn't really see what you were packing. I didn't argue back or just turn the breaker off myself. Living in this society has changed me more than I had realized.

After awhile when I saw the water level approaching a socket in the wall, I said to her father, with what must have been a trace of panic in my voice, "Don't you believe me? It's really dangerous to leave the power on." He replied, "But we can't see anything." I told him, "Not being able to see is one thing, but this situation is really dangerous." By this time, the water level was no more than a few centimeters from the wall socket. When he relented and turned off the power, the water was a centimeter or two away from flowing into the two little holes of the outlet.

We frantically grabbed and hauled as much stuff as we could, but the water level was rising too fast. At one point, I was in the back office placing their phone, fax machine, and stereo on the highest shelf I could and as I was trying to leave, the door was difficult to open because of the water. It wasn't much longer before the water level was approaching waist-level and big magazine racks were starting to float around when Kate's parents told us to forget about it and just leave. One of the last things I grabbed was a bunch of scissors. We probably managed to get about one fifth of the stuff.

As we waited outside tired, dirty, and slightly numb, we watched helplessly as the water level continued to rise and then totally engulf the bookstore. It took just over an hour for the water to go from a couple of centimeters to past ceiling level. While we were all waiting around we saw fish swimming around in the street and then later another one swimming in the bookstore.

Considering what had happened that day, Kate's parents were holding up extremely well. Kate's mom was quite stoic, while her dad joked and laughed about it with neighbors. There were lots of people coming around to offer their condolences and share similar stories. A guy that lived in the apartment where all the stuff was currently sitting on the stairs, offered us a room to put things. A woman brought us food and water, and later some sandals for Kate's dad as he had lost his during the flood.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Getting old?

My mom forwarded me this... long, but worth it...

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 60's, 70's and early 80's probably shouldn't have survived, because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.

When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and Fluorescent 'spokey dokey's' on our wheels. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags - riding in the passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same. We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy juice with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and nobody
actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem!

We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we
were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.
We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no DVDs, no Internet chat rooms. We had friends - we went outside and found them!!!

We played elastics and rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt! We fell out of trees, got cut, and broke bones but there were no lawsuits. We had full on fist fights - but no prosecution followed from other parents.

We played chap-the-door-run-away and were actually afraid of the owners
catching us.

We walked to friends' homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school; we didn't rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of... They actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you're one of them. Congratulations! Pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow
as real kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good. For those of you who aren't old enough, thought you might like to read about us.

This my friends, is surprisingly frightening......and it might put a smile
on your face:

The majority of students in universities today were born in 1986........They are called youth.

They have never heard of 'We are the World, We are the Children', and the 'Uptown Girl' they know is by Westlife not Billy Joel. They have never heard of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Nena Cherry or Belinda Carlisle.

For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam. AIDS has
existed since they were born. CD's have existed since they were born.

Michael Jackson has always been white. To them John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can't imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance. They believe that Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible are films from last year. They can never imagine life before computers.

They'll never have pretended to be the A Team, Red Hand Gang or the Famous
Five. They'll never have applied to be on Jim'll Fix It or Why Don't You.

They can't believe a black and white television ever existed. And they will
never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone.

Now let's check if we're getting old...

1. You understand what was written above and you smile.
2. You need to sleep more, usually until the afternoon, after a night out.
3. Your friends are getting married/already married.
4. You are always surprised to see small children playing comfortably with
5. When you see teenagers with mobile phones, you shake your head.
6. You remember watching Dirty Den in EastEnders the first time around.
7. You meet your friends from time to time, talking about the goodold days,
repeating again all the funny things you have experienced together.
8. Having read this mail, you are thinking of forwarding it to some
other friends because you think they will like it too... Yes, you're
getting old!!

Speed up Firefox

Here's an article describing how to speed up Firefox if you're using a broadband connection.

I did it and it does seems to be faster.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Business Week articles about Taiwan

Nice to see Taiwan getting press other than purely political.

Why Taiwan Matters. Business Week's latest international cover story.

A Creativity Lab for Taiwan. Story here.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Shimen Dam

Kate's aunt is visiting from Malaysia so yesterday we did a quick day trip to the Shimen Dam. Fun for me too, since I've also never been there. Took the Bei Er Gao and ran into lots of traffic along the way. Finally got to the gates, paid the NT$100 entrance fee and... waited... for Kate's other relatives to show up.

By that time it was lunch and we had a really forgetful meal at the only place that served vegetarian noodles (Kate's aunt is a hard-core vegetarian; even onions are a no-no). Also this was the only place that didn't advertise "live fish".

Easy to catch fish at nearby lake + hungry tourists = many "live fish" restaurants.

The Shimen dam area is nice place to walk around: green, fresh air, and nice scenery.


After walking around we drove to the nearby Fu tian hobby farm/petting zoo.


3 weddings in 2 weeks

well ok, actually 1 wedding and 2 engagement ceremonies, but they were all banquets and felt the same to me.

My favorite one was the wedding held yesterday at the Hyatt. Two ex-Trenders tying the not. Congrats Dave and Eleanor!!!


Me and the Eleanor (bride).


Polly (another ex-Trender) and Eleanor.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Let's hear it for hi-comm

Yesterday had a big pow-wow with the entire TW office. Chairman, CEO, Jenny... the whole family was there.

I rather like hi-comm meetings. It's a good way to catch up with what's going on with the overall company and see how we are doing compared with last year at the same time. Unlike usual it was held at the Westin Hotel on Nanjing E. Rd. Nice place.

Probably my favorite is award time. I was especially happy to see two awards handed out. One to my ex-big boss Amy for the company value change award. Way to go Amy! The other was for employee of the quarter. Good job Laverne.

At the end there's always a QA session for people to ask executives questions. Without fail, unless a foreigner primes the pump, the room quickly fills with silence. And usually a "friend" from HR will actively seek me out to get things going. This time I told her I was ignoring her, but then later felt guilty and ended up asking the CEO a question.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Roll Anna Roll!

It's official. Anna can roll over by herself.

After she's on her belly she starts doing the front crawl (kick, kick, kick...). She also kicks really well during her bath like Griffon used to do.

Actually both Kate and I have a theory about why both Griffon and Anna really like being in water. Theory is, both times Kate was pregnant she spent time swimming in the ocean (Griffon-Malaysia, Anna-Palau).

1 week down, 35 to 55 to go...

It's been a week yesterday since I applied for Anna's Canadian citizenship. Now the process takes 9 to 13 months. All applications are processed in Nova Scotia. Originally I thought I would wait until I went back this summer and send when I read on the Canadian Web site it would take 8 to 12 months, sigh...

CTO bytes:

Everyone needs to sign in and pass through metal detector

Receptionist very rude (seems other staff feel same way, I was encouraged by the consular to fill out a feedback form. Never seen one of those before).

Expect a long wait before seeing a consular. I arrived just before 1:30 (only available 1:30 to 4 for passport/citzenship stuff), grabbed number 19 and ended up waiting for almost an hour and a half. By myself no problem, but when holding a 5-month old it gets old fast.

Bring exact change for the fees.