March 22, 2010


You know, living on the other side of the world has its advantages and disadvantages.

First off, a disadvantage is the distance between me and my family.  Sure, Facebook, MSN, Yahoo!, all help to bring us closer together, but it’s not the same.  Unless you have a cam, your fingers can get mighty tired after a while!  Time difference is also disadvantage, but can also be an advantage.

Take New Year’s Eve for example.  Taiwan celebrates New Year’s long before Canada has even woken up.  But then, fortunately or unfortunately, the world has looked at New York City as the official city to welcome in New Year’s.  By the time NYC celebrates New Year’s, most Taiwanese children have had their lunch and are either playing video games or having their afternoon nap.  We are already half way through the day, while NYC is singing, “Olde Lang Syne”.

So this time difference is kind of funny for me though.  Take Sunday afternoons.  I finish my last class around 3:30pm, get home, and have a look at this silly game on Facebook, FarmVille.  I’m actually enjoying the game, although, as I get higher in level, it’s getting more difficult to keep up with all the tasks.  After reading some of my father’s blogs about life on the farm when he was growing up, I can understand and ‘virtually’ sympathize with him.

One thing that is going on or rather has been going on, is the collecting of gold.  There’s a necklace, nuggets, a bear, a coin, and a bar of gold.  You ask for gold from your neighbours, they send it to you, you accept it, and it gets ‘virtually’ put into a big old pot with a rainbow coming out of it.  I have several leprechauns ‘virtually guarding’ my pot of gold.

In the beginning, I started collecting and asking for gold.  Before I knew it, I was heading up the chart.  The next thing I know, a cousin of mine and I are vying for first place – at least within my group of friends.  I’d be ahead by a few pieces, go to bed, wake up at 5:00am or so, only to find that Cheryl was now ahead of me!  Back and forth this went.  Suddenly, at some point, I gained a lead that Cheryl could not keep up with.  I chatted with her, and was hoping, from the other side of this earth, that she had had as much fun jockeying for first place as I had.  I sent her some ‘virtual’ flowers and a leprechaun, I believe.

So, then I was trying to figure other reasons for collecting the gold.  I had already collected all six prizes available (green sheep, leprechaun, wheelbarrow of flowers, pond, shamrock-shaped fountain, and a castle (pretty cool castle, actually, but BIG)).  So what else could I do.  A friend of mine in Tainan had, on the previous task having to do with Valentine’s Day, collected 357 valentines.  Okay, here was my next goal.  To get 358 pieces of gold.  Again, all in good fun.

Did the countdown, kept collecting and before I knew it, I was getting closer to the 400 mark!  Now, all this is free.  There is no value attached to this gold.  I had all the prizes, I now had the bragging rights, what now?  There was a message from the FarmVille gods that the ‘gold’ was going to stop on March 23.  I will assume that this is Eastern Time, since that seems to be the standard time zone used for FarmVille.

Well, once I hit the 450 mark, I left a note on my profile that I was going for this goal of 500 pieces.  As I gathered pieces, I have been keeping track of all my friends that have given me the gold.  At the time of writing this blog, I am 23 pieces away from my target.  Incredible.  All this has shown me that I have some of the most fun-loving friends and relatives anyone could have.  For the most part, aside from a couple of people on my list, most of my friends and relatives haven’t seen me in almost 10 years, or MORE.  They could have just opted not to respond, but, for the sheer entertainment value, and hopefully, because they see the humour in all of this, they have willingly sent this gold.

What has all this got to do with time?  Well, when I’m heading to bed, around 11:00-11:30pm my time, it is lunchtime in Ontario.  I go to sleep, and like the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus, I wake up to find that my farm has been fertilized, chickens fed, pull tabs waiting to be played, and yes, 10 or 15 more pieces of gold.  Just like Christmas morning, every morning.  I know… it is only a game.  I know the difference between reality and fiction.  I know that in a month when FarmVille comes out with a new task, no one (except for me) will remember that I got 500 pieces of virtual gold.  We’ll be too concerned with the next task, and I will be one of the first people to help out all my friends and neighbours.  Okay, maybe not the first, but you get the point.

Back to the time difference.  The other thing that I find funny about Sundays, in particular, but all week long, is that around noon my time, things start to quiet down on Facebook.  Generally, if I’m home, there are only one or two other people online willing to chat.  Okay, so this is the time I use to clean up my farm, send out gifts, and get ready for dinnertime (my time).  Around 6:00pm, a couple of people from the east of Canada sign on and begin their day.  My mother signs on.  The next thing I know, by 7:00pm, there are 11 people wanting to chat for a few minutes while they wait for their morning coffee to finish brewing.  I, on the other hand, am usually just finishing up my day.  Getting my dinner, getting ready to settle down and fall asleep.

And it all begins Monday morning, all over again…

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