Leaving Taiwan

Leaving Taiwan was in some ways a great thing, yet in others terrible. I made many great friends at the Taipei Ward – Bishop Weddle and his family, Bros. Frost, Sevey, Linton, Pendleton & their families. the ladies and gentlemen of the single adults. Jean-Francois & Vivian Morin and the Sheffers in particular. Love those guys. Except when Jamison Sheffer brings up football…dude doesn’t know what he is talking about. I will also miss the senior missionary couples who took me under their wing, in particular the Funks and the Browns. All great people, far too many to name here. <3 I also got to spend more time with my meimei (little sister), Masako, as she arrived in Taiwan in February for work. I loved spending time with her.

I met a lot of wonderful people and yet it feels like a great waste as well. I spent so much time being ill that I was not able to accomplish the purpose of my time in that beautiful country. I was too sick to study or work, so I saw my savings draining away to the point that I knew I had to go back to work. I did not get to spend time visiting the island and getting to know the people as I wanted. I spent most of my time lying in bed, hoping that my illness would pass. I have weak lungs and Taipei’s combination of wet & cold winters conspired to bring me low. I became ill around the beginning of December, with what I thought was the flu, something that should have dissipated after a week or two. Unfortunately, it proved more tenacious and stayed with me for over five months. Like a idiot, I avoided going to the doctor (medical care is cheaper in Asia) because I don’t like going to the doctor. It flared up repeatedly and still to this day lays me low.

Yes, leaving Taiwan has caused me to fill emotionally split. I have not felt such homesickness before, except for my first time abroad. Without my work or studies to occupy my time, I came near to climbing the walls of my tiny bedroom. Yet, I enjoyed the little moments spent with friends or teaching a class at church. I am split, true, but am really happy to go home.

Jordan Peterson @ The Queen’s University in Ontario

I became a fan of Jordan Peterson around last year as I starting watching some of his Youtube videos. Peterson, if you are not aware, is a Canadian professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. He has become in the last two years a champion of free speech against the onslaught of post-modernist rhetoric (especially in the corruption of language) used by progressive activists, particularly on university campuses. I caught a recent Youtube video posted just over a week ago and was again heartened by the message of hope and civility that he shares.

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.

October FSOT

On October 5, I once again tried the Foreign Service Officer Test, which is the first step in a long process of gaining employment with the US State Department. Although I have friends in government work, I have never placed all my hopes and dreams on passing, since a large number of people are competing for relatively few positions. So, that night I made my way to the Pearson Vue testing site in Taipei, as the only available slot was at 5:00 p.m. I was already extremely tired before the three hour test began, so let me just say that I should have opted for another time even if I missed class.

I thought the test was going well until I hit the situational judgement section. This recently replaced the biographic questionnaire, although both use the metric of gauging similar responses. Last time, I just answered consistently, if not entirely truthfully. This time I was flummoxed. The final essay question is really what threw me for a loop. I looked at the question about a living wage and started writing about guaranteed basic income. About 2 & 1/2 minutes left, I noticed what it was actually asking. I typed faster than I had ever typed in my life. What a disaster, as I thought I was finished.

Well, today I received the results: I passed. I seriously think the grader on that essay was smoking something. Here are the comparisons with my last test in July 2015:

Biographic Questionnaire: 57.78
English Expression: 59.67
Job Knowledge: 56.43
Multiple Choice Total: 173.88
Essay Score: 8

Situational Judgement: 46.2
English Expression: 53.21
Job Knowledge: 58.32
Multiple Choice Total: 157.73
Essay Score: 6

So, as you can see, I did poorly in comparison. My job knowledge improved, which saved me. English went down quite a bit, which I typically blame on living abroad. I often joke that my English is going, with nothing unfortunately replacing it. I will be reduced to grunting soon. The situational judgement score tanked, as I thought it would. My essay passed by the skin of my teeth. Altogether, I was just lucky someone was merciful out there.

Next step is the Personal Narrative Questions (PNQs), which I have never passed. I hate this section, as you have to write about yourself. As many friends have told me, do not be afraid to “embellish” a little, or a lot.

Update: Nov. 17: Finished and sent off the PNQs. Thanks to my friend Michael for his help and guidance. I would not have done as well as I did without his critiques.


Sleep Apnea

For several years, I have known that I have sleep apnea or at least suspected that I did. My mother had it and my eldest brother has it as well. My brother said that I should get tested and start using a cpap machine when I sleep. He had several times where he fell asleep during work, which is never good for a man that operates heavy machinery. He said that the results are night and day as far as he was concerned.

I was pretty resistant to be honest. For several years, the effect of this problem seemed manageable. The tests seemed too expensive and I did not want to pay for it. Going to a hospital in Beijing is an experience that no one wants to repeat. So many excuses. This past year, however, seemed to just accumulate my problems. I have difficulty studying. Heck, I have difficulty being in class. My teacher probably think I am the most bored student, with all the yawning and dozing I do in class. I have missed so as it is. Really the issue is that I have a weight problem, which I refuse to address and which has only become worse as a side effect of this apnea.

On Monday the 10th, I finally had a sleep test done. The results came back pretty bad. In about 7 & 1/2 hours of sleep, I had a total of 38 minutes of REM sleep. Since then, I have tried repeatedly to get an appointment with the doctor to talk about options from here – whether a cpap, a bi-pap, or some other option. Tomorrow, I finally have the appointment and hopefully I can get the ball rolling. My world needs to change and I need a good night’s sleep. Something I have not had in years.

School & Nerves

20140405122239355My first week of school was one of frustration and anxiety. The frustration was due to the registering process. I spent a great deal of time in great many queues. I have no doubt that my school, Beijing Language and Culture University, endeavored to streamline the process with helpers directing hallway traffic and answering questions. Large placards detailed every paper and other items needed for each line. I am just that guy. You know that guy – the one who seems incapable of standing in line. No because I am incapable of reading the instructions, just incapable of following them.

In addition to standing in line, I also had a 2-3 minute conversation with a teacher that placed me in the Upper Elementary level. She wanted to place me in the Lower Elementary (the lowest), but I talked her out of this. I was really nervous during the conversation and stressed. I spent about a week in this level and on Friday, I changed to Lower Intermediate. I was extremely nervous about this switch, even though I found the Elementary class to be of little challenge. I understand literally just about everything the teacher said.

Today, I had my first class from this level. It was 中国文化 (Chinese Culture). The teacher spoke pretty quickly, but I understood at lease 75%, if not more. It was an interesting class. It was partly history and a great deal of detail on China’s minorities. I really enjoyed this class and look forward to more of it. Tomorrow, I am having an HSK class (teaching the Standard Chinese Language Test) and a regular class for the level I am now in. I still remain nervous because I, as always, doubt myself. The nervousness my also be because I have to go to the hospital tomorrow for my required physical exam.

I will definitely include an update of how the classes go tomorrow.

LSU 14 – Wisconsin 16

1951hatterI cannot really express how disappointed I was with the football game on Saturday. As many commentators online noted, the Tigers have not seen any progression from last year. The quarterback situation remains tenuous and a reliance on one or two running backs, no matter how good, is unsustainable. In addition, our defense seems to have seriously digressed with the loss of last year’s play makers to the NFL. I have long been steadfast in my support for Les Miles, countering arguments of his faults with his many advantages. Reluctantly, I am joining the bandwagon to see my beloved Tigers go in a new direction. I now believe that this should be his last year at LSU.


At 2:30 (Beijing Time), I saw on the news that Britain had voted to leave the European Union. With a victory at about 51.7%, the British people decided their own fate, through their own electoral process. The majority was not persuaded by threats from European apparatchiks nor promises of doom from their own government, led by David Cameron. Since he risked his position on the Remain vote, it looks like he may be out.

Already, the markets are panicking under the future uncertainty, when it will take the UK up to two years (or longer) to untangle itself from Europe. The pound sterling has already fallen 10% to dollar, hitting its lowest since 1985. Since this was warned, it means that the British people voted for liberty over their pocketbook. Bravo! Many are already warning that Scotland and Northern Ireland may jump ship to reattach themselves to the EU teat. I say go ahead, despite the fact that one of the EU’s largest financial bulwarks have just been pulled, with Britain signaling to others disenchanted with the EU model that may flee a sinking ship.

Down with the bureaucrats!

*Poster at top was found at Instapundit. It is one of my favorite news sites.

**Update** – That didn’t take very long (couple of hours). David Cameron announces his resignation, stating, “I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it will be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”