Earthquake in Taiwan

There was another earthquake in Taipei this past Wednesday (Feb. 7). Actually it was in Hualian, down on Taiwan’s east coast. This is the second earthquake this month, the first being out near Okinawa. It was a 6.4 earthquake. On Facebook, I commented that, “Another Earthquake. I’m good, so no need to ask. Taiwan is moving, which is awesome. You usually have to pay extra for the vibrating bed.” I should not have said that, as I later found out several people (seven, I think) perished down there. Here is an article from the UK Guardian showing the devastation.

Darkest Hour

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch the new film, Darkest Hour. I have to say that this film surpassed all my expectations. First, it only highlighted how capable and talented an actor Gary Oldman has been throughout his career. He is always superb, but this may be the pinnacle against all other performances will be judged. His love and respect for Churchill shines through. As the Oscars approach, he would be my vote for best actor, even if the film does not win one for itself.

As for Churchill, this film only frames the reason he is the Lion of Britain. The fact that he was thrown out just after the war is only indicative of how idiotic the British people can sometimes act. The only quibble that I had with the film is about something I know little about, namely Churchill’s disposition before his war address to Parliament. Some, such as more knowledgeable commentators at Powerline (a conservative blog I read), have pointed out that this is nonsense and that it betrays Churchill’s memory. Others defend the piece despite their misgivings. Still, it is a great film and I recommend it.

My Nephew – US Marine Corps

My nephew, Ethan, took a giant step forward in his life. He has joined the United States Marine Corps and left for 13 weeks of Basic Training at Parris Island, South Carolina. I am really proud of him.

Since he was a young boy, he has wanted to join the Marines like his grandfather, Cy Wilson, did during the Vietnam War. There were some road bumps along the way, but he was able to overcome them. I am happy for him and proud of him. I know that he will make a great Marine.

Here is a picture of him with my brother at his swearing-in ceremony:

BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI) moving to Brill

I just read that BYU’s Middle Eastern Text Initiative will be published in the future by Brill. Previously, the publisher had been the University of Chicago Press. I liked UCP because their prices were reasonable. You could pick up works by Muslim and Christian thinkers for $25-30 apiece. Brill, because of their standing in the academic world and type of material they publish, rob you blind. It is not rare to see a book for $150-200.

So while I am hopeful, I think this will probably be a horrible decision for a customer that is not an academic library. Fail!

Story here.

FSOT 2017 – Result

So, today the result from the Personal Narrative Questions (PNQ) portion of the Foreign Service Officers Test process finally arrived. I have again, as I expected, received the dreaded, “We regret to inform you that your QEP-determined relative ranking in your career track is not high enough to continue your candidacy to the next step of the Foreign Service Officer selection process, the Oral Assessment.”

This is the third time I have been rejected from this stage out of four attempts. I probably will keep taking the test, because it is basically free ($5). Who knows, one day I may actually pass. My feelings were kind of meh. I knew that my success was a distant possibility and I have never focused my plans and dreams on this route anyway. I keep trying because it would be an interesting career and allow me to serve my country. That is it. So, life goes on. :-P

President Thomas S. Monson (1927-2018)

On January 3rd, the news came out that President Thomas S. Monson, the 16th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had passed away the day before. He was 90 years old and has now joined his wife, Sis. Frances Monson. He fathered 10 children and had many grandchildren as well. He was an Apostle of the Lord for over 50 years. had a great biography of the man and his life time of service. President Donald Trump sent a gracious notice here.

What I remember most about President Monson is gentle voice and numerous stories about service to those around him. He encouraged us, as members of the faith and as humans beings, to love those around us, even if we did not agree with them. Especially if we did not agree with them. With his passing, the work continues and goes on.

I can only say, as song goes, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” Welcome home, sir.

Happy 2018

Hmm, so 2017 is over. I have been sick for about the entire month of December with lung issues. It was a year of family loss as well to all of us. I can only hope the new year brings joy and happiness. Happy New Year!

Dinner Dates

My year ended with some cheer with dinner dates with some friends. On December 28th, my 妹妹 (little sister), Masako, visited from Tokyo. She was visiting with a friend and squeezed some time in for me. We had some traditional Taiwanese dishes at a restaurant near Dongmen station. She shared with me the delightful news that she is moving to Taipei in February and I shared with her the horrible news that I am moving back to Beijing for work in August. I was happy and disappointed at the same time. Here are some pictures:


Since the Church and Temple are near to Dongmen, we walked over and looked at it. It is quite beautiful in the afternoon and at dusk.

On December 30th, two friends from church, Jean-Francois and Vivian Morin, treated me to dinner. I enjoyed it immensely, although they had to put up with my poor social graces. I am trying to work on them, and did warn the Morins that I am practicing. I thank them for their tolerance with someone who is a bit of a bore.

Visit up a Mountain

On December 2, my friends from church, Rachel and Cassie, invited me on an outing. I tend to spend way too much time by myself so I decided to go. We were going up a mountain to a visiting area known for its local food stalls and great views.

One thing they said was that we would ride in a gondola. For some reason, I was thinking Venetian boat, rather than the one that takes you up in the air. I was extremely worried about it, because I am deathly afraid of heights. It actually turned out to be okay. Here is us on the gondola:

We also walked around and saw the mountain. Here is the a couple of shots of it and some local sausages I discovered. Taiwan has great sausages.