February 1, 2013

Beginning of a new month.  Seems like only yesterday I was in Taipei for New Year’s.

A few years back, I had to go see a dentist here in Tainan.  I’ve never really been a proponent of dentists, but as I get older, well, the body starts to surprise you.

Being in Taiwan, I didn’t have any kind of insurance coverage for dental work.  At least back in Canada, I did.  As I’ve discovered over the past couple of years, Taiwan does have a national dental care plan, which is covered in the same manner as health insurance.  Then again, I didn’t have health insurance coverage for the most part of the past 10 years either!  That’s all changed now.

Anyway, I had to go to the dentist because one of my back teeth had chipped.  As it turned out, some of the older fillings I’d had done many years ago, are coming loose because the teeth are deteriorating.  The benefits of age…

Another thing the dentist told me, was that one of my teeth was a baby tooth.  After cleaning, the baby tooth just popped out.  He did X-rays of my teeth, and told me that there was no root for an adult tooth, so now I had a space where a tooth should be.  He suggested having a bridge put in.  The cost was going to be in the neighbourhood of $25,000nt!  I started to get the work done, one month at a time, but after 2 or 3 visits, it was apparent that it was beyond my budget.  So I ended up not going back.

This past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve been having problems with my teeth again.  A little sensitive, and just generally not liking the overall look of my teeth.  I relented, and gave him a call.  I was actually surprised that he could see me the very next day – TODAY!

I mustered up all the bravery I could, and kept the appointment.  After about a half hour of cleaning, we talked about fixing my teeth again.  Luckily, there are no cavities this time around, and other than a couple of teeth that have cracked over the years since my last visit, he said my teeth were not too bad.  However, a bridge and a few crowns are now part of my dental work.

This dental work (bridges and crowns) are not covered by the health care system in Taiwan, so that means, again, the money must come out of my own pocket.  The decision is this:  do I get the work done, or would it be better just to have the teeth removed?  I’m not an overly vain person, but the idea of having empty spaces where there should be teeth, is not too appealing to me.

I’ve opted for this:  with the rear teeth, that are not overly visible when I speak or smile, I will have titanium crowns put in.  With the teeth and/or space where they would be visible, then ceramic-coated titanium crowns.  These would look the same colour as the surrounding teeth.

Not sure how much all this work will cost, but if it means being able to eat my fave foods without any problems, then it may be worth it.  The only thing I don’t like, is having to visit the dentist.  He is a nice guy, but the idea of visiting a dentist is just not my thing.

When I was in Vancouver, I had a bit of work done on my teeth.  The dentist there basically put me ‘under’, did all the work at once, and then I was done.  I’ll just have to get used to and get myself into the mode of visiting the dentist every 6 months as is suggested.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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January 31, 2013

Numbers have always had a special fascination with me.

When I was younger, and obviously in school, I enjoyed Math.  I don’t know why.  Subjects like History and English were a mystery to me, but Math seemed to come almost naturally.  Way back when, when Canada was adopting the Metric System, our teacher at the time, kind of explained it to our class this way.

The Metric System (SI) is based on the unit of 10.  10 centimetres equalled 1 decimetre.  10 decimetres equalled 1 metre.  Then he continued to explain to us that our monetary system is also based on the unit of 10.  10 pennies equalled 1 dime.  10 dimes equalled 1 dollar.  It was like a light bulb suddenly came on in all our heads.  I’m not sure, but I’m almost certain that the average grade for Math in that class that year, went up dramatically.

In fact, on our first term exam, there were two of us who scored 100%.  Myself and my friend, Howard Wong.  During the second term, the two us continued scoring top marks.  It got to a point that our teacher thought we were cheating or copying off each other.  He separated the two of us to sit at both sides of his desk!  Once he was convinced that we indeed were just good kids in Math, he decided to do something interesting.

From the bowels of the school, he was able to dig up a couple of OLD Math textbooks.  You know – the ones that perhaps your parents or grandparents used.  No Metric in these books – everything was Imperial System.  THAT, was a challenge.

The two of us, Howard and I, had our own homework assignments, tests, and exercises to do in class.  It was like we were a separate class within the class.  However, when it came to the second term exam, we still had to write the same exam that the remainder of the class wrote!  The only thing I truly remember about this exam was that the two of us scored 110%.  How is that possible, you ask!

The main part of the exam was worth 100%.  Our teacher had also attached a separate page, for ANYONE that wanted to attempt, that was worth another 10%.  And we both passed with flying colours.

As I got older and entered high school, my Math scores did drop off somewhat.  I was ‘fortunate’ to attend four different high schools in four years.  An earlier blog entry explains this situation.  When you have no friends because of being the ‘new kid on the block’, and new teachers, and different curricula, my overall marks started to drop a bit.  However, the past is past – a LONG time ago.

My fascination for numbers and numerology never wained though.  I always found something interesting with numbers.  I even found practical uses for some of the Math that I had learned in school.

My birthday is March 13.  Translated to numbers, that 313, or 3B.  What?  Well, as I’ve demonstrated to kids, push the 1 and the 3 together in 13, and it becomes a “B” – Bill!  Hahaha.

This year being 2013, is going to be a particularly interesting year.  My birthday is going to be:  31313.  I am so looking forward to that day.  On top of that, it is on the 3rd day of the week this year – Wednesday.  Even in Chinese, they call Wednesday, “3 day” (translated).

A couple of years ago, thanks to Facebook, I came across someone who had the same birthday as me – March 13.  I was actually surprised to find someone else who did share the same birthdate.  As a kindly gesture, I wrote a quick note regarding that fact.  After the ‘friend request’ was approved, we ended up chatting for a bit on Skype.

It turns out that we have a lot more in common than just a date of birth.  First off, let me explain something – I was born in Ontario, Canada, and Stepfan-Michaels was born in England.  The hour difference is what, 8 hours?  Nonetheless, the rest is, to me, very interesting.

We were both born in 1962.  We were both born in March.  We were both born on the 13th.  He was born at 2:15 am (local time), and I was born at 2:17 am (local time).  Okay, so even though two different countries and 8 hours difference, the birth certificates are the proofs.

Since then, the two of us have set up a Facebook page and have invited people to join who share the same birthday.  About a year ago, we opened the page up to ANYONE born on the 13th of ANY month.  He is a big believer in numerology and the effects of numbers on our lives.  It’s been ever more interesting to me, to see who celebrates their birthday on the 13th of any month.  When I think about it though, of all the people born on this planet, and that there are a maximum of 31 days in a month, the chances of anyone being born on the 13th of ANY month is what – 1:31 or 12:365?

Another final thing.  I know my parents could not have planned the births of their children.  However, a couple more of my siblings also have interesting birthdays.  Scott was born on May 5 and Debby on February 12.  Last year, Debby’s birthday was 21212!  A few years earlier, Scott’s birthday was even more interesting, because it wouldn’t have mattered how you looked at the numbers.  His birthday was 050505.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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January 30, 2013

Well, here it is a few months later, and I’m back.

These last few months have been a bit busy.  Between classes and home life, I don’t really get a whole lot of free time.

The last post showed just how well our students at Giraffe did during the Storytelling Competition in Taipei.  It still makes me feel great knowing that all the hours put in helping my students, and all the work they put into perfecting their stories, pays off.

So, what’s happened since August?  Now that I think back, quite a bit has happened.  New classes began, Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, and now we’re on the verge of Chinese New Year.  Where to begin. Since new classes are a regularly occurring thing in late August and again after Chinese New Year, there’s nothing new there.  With new classes this time around though, I have about another 50 new students.

Halloween.  This year, I didn’t really have a lot of time to make a new pinata.  Although I do enjoy seeing the end product, I just didn’t have enough time to actually complete one this year.  I did get dressed up and painted my face black-and-white, wore a black cape… well, to see the pictures, have a look on my Facebook account.  It was a fun night, but I didn’t have a lot of time to get prepared.  It is good that photos tend to hide the imperfections!

Halloween over and done, and it seemed like Christmas was almost upon us.  Granted, Taiwan doesn’t celebrate Christmas as such, but I try in my own way, to get that Christmas spirit.  We don’t get snow here in Taiwan (obviously), and the vast majority of the population don’t celebrate Christmas the way we in North America do.  The children learn about Christmas though.

Personally, I don’t teach the kids the religious aspects of the Christmas season, but I do try to pass on the ‘pagan’ celebration to them.  Each year, at Halloween and Christmas, I create a booklet of various puzzles, poems, and stories about the seasons.  This year’s Christmas booklet was the largest I’ve created.

Giraffe once again, had its Christmas show.  As is always the case, I was Santa.

At the end of the program, ‘Santa’ greets each student, wishes them a “Merry Christmas”, and gives them a treat.  However, as a bit of a twist this year, I went against the program and surprised everyone.

The program is all for the kids.  The kids put on shows, they get gifts, the winners at the Storytelling Competition in August do their stories – however, no one recognizes the work that the teachers put in to put this show on.  It takes many hours of practicing with the various classes to put together a 2 or 3 hour show.

So, this year, ‘Santa’ gave all the teachers a gift.  It’s also a way for ‘Santa’ to recognize that the teachers do a lot of planning and preparation to put this show together.  It is apparent that some students don’t want any part of the show.  They (or perhaps, their parents) don’t want or won’t let their children partake in the show.  In some cases, as with older children (just like in North America), some students just don’t want to be part of the show.  The put no effort into their roles.

Then again, there are those that do try.  I realize that most children’s dream is NOT to be an actor or singer, but it is great to see students trying their best.  It’s also great to see the final production, although I still haven’t actually seen the final production.  Normally by this time, I’ve already got a copy of the video and photos that were taken by Simon, to post on my Facebook.

So, Christmas now over, I decided to do something a little different for New Year’s.

I’ve been in Taiwan for over 11 years, and in that time, have not had the opportunity to join in the festivities that Taiwan offers for New Year’s.  Taipei, since Taipei 101 was completed, has had a show and then the fireworks shot off the tower.  I’ve only ever seen the fireworks show on television.

In Tainan, from what I’ve been told, there is usually a show at city hall, and then fireworks. I’ve asked people over the years if they would like to go, and the response is always positive a few weeks prior to New Year’s.  However, the day or two before, usually these people say that it is too cold, or too many people, or they just don’t feel like it.

Last year I spent New Year’s eve painting my apartment!  The year before, I spent drinking a bottle of champagne myself.  This year, I wanted to see the fireworks, hell or high water! I planned on going to Taipei, meet up with a friend there, and celebrate New Year’s for the first time in 11 years.  And that’s what I did.

I went to Taipei on the 30th, and met my friend, Todd.  We walked around Taipei, went up Taipei 101, had dinner together, and then crashed at his aunt and uncle’s place.  The next morning (31st), we went for breakfast at Fong Da Coffee.  This place is great.  For a mere 100nt, you get a cup of delicious java, a couple of eggs, ham, toast and jam.  Mmmm…  A cup of coffee is a bit steep at 100nt, so basically, by having a cup of coffee, you get breaky free!  Not a bad deal.

Today was a bit chilly.  Well, for Taiwan, chilly means anything below 25C!  But it was chilly, even for me.  I wonder if the thermometer got above 15C all day!  Most of the day was spent walking around Taipei, through the MRT shopping mall, a bit of shopping, and dinner at Chili’s.  Todd (as I’ve discovered) and I (as I’ve known for many years) have a special relationship with Tequila.  And Chili’s has some of the most delicious Margaritas I’ve ever had.  The only better Marg’s I’ve had were in Ottawa at Mexicali Rosa’s.

The bar server at the time I lived there, Millie, used to make what we referred to as ‘Millie Margs’.  OMG!  Smooth as silk, and as potent a beverage you could ask for!  Oh, I miss those Millie Margs.

As it was now getting to be about 8pm, we decided to make our way to Taipei City Hall/Taipei 101.  After arriving and walking around a bit, we found a perfect spot.  Although we had to sit on the sidewalk for the next 3 hours, it was worth every minute in my opinion.  I was there with a good friend, and we had a great vantage point to see the fireworks.  Okay, so we couldn’t watch the show on stage, but that was fine.

We had brought a couple of bottles of champagne with us.  During the day, we had picked up some paper cups and decided to share the celebration of New Year’s with the people who would eventually be around us.  Since it was a bit chilly, the champagne was just right!  At about 11:45, the champagne was popped, and while I poured out a ‘half shot’ into 50 paper cups, Todd started passing them out to the people around us.  And there were many!

Although everyone only had a mouthful, I’m sure the thought counted more than the quantity.  It was one of the more fun things that I’ve done in my life.

After the fireworks, and anyone who’s ever been to New Year’s celebrations in Taipei, Vancouver, or Ottawa can attest to, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people, wanting to get back home.  And sure enough, there were.  The MRT was running all night long to get the part revellers back to their homes.  Only problem, the line-ups at the stations were out the door and down the street.  We walked for almost four MRT stops, before Todd suggested meeting his friend.

Marina works in a restaurant, and was required to stay at work until midnight.  Insane.  About the only places doing any kind of business were bars and McDonalds.  McDs had a special of purchasing one fry and getting a second free, so of course…  Most other businesses had closed up around 10pm, knowing full well that people would be watching the fireworks, not shopping or eating dinner at midnight.

Since the line-ups were still insane, we decided to head over to a bar and have a drink.  Why not.  Once the bar was getting ready to close up, and we were heading out, of course, the MRT was still packed.  That’s when Marina suggested we stay at another of her part-time jobs.  She helps to manage a traveller’s hostel.  Out came the tatami mats, and a blanket, and there we slept, in the middle of a hallway, until 6am.

I was on my way back to Tainan, since I did have to work on January 2.  Todd was on his way to visit his family in Nantou.  All in all, not a bad weekend.  Personally, I had a great time, got to spend time with a good friend, and FINALLY got to see the fireworks.  When I arrived home, I was just in time to watch the New Year’s celebrations from New York City. Then, I crashed.  I hadn’t had a whole lot sleep over the past couple of days.

So, now that things have calmed down a bit for now, maybe I can back to writing again.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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August 13, 2012

The day after, and I’m still riding high.  It will be a couple of days before I come back to Earth and get back into the flow of things.

This year, at the national competition, there were 45 competitors.  Giraffe gives trophies to the top seven competitors in each category.  As the Kindergarten and Junior High (Level IV) levels have less than seven competitors, each receive a trophy.  For the other three categories, there will be, unfortunately, some students who go home disappointed.

These next three video links, were recorded at the CPC Building in Taipei, where the competition was held.  The first, is a short video of the preparation beginning in our group.  Some people eating lunch, others having make-up applied, sets being assembled.  The second video is the “Parade of Competitors”.  The students are paraded on stage, and introduced before the competition begins.  The final video is an introduction that Giraffe puts together of the various regions and the invitees photos.  It’s kind of cool, because our region (South Region) is the first region displayed, and Elva is the first student shown on the video!  We did, after all, have four FIRST PLACE winners at the regions!

Parade of Competitors

Preparation Time

Introduction to Competition

This is the array of trophies our students came home with this year.  It’s great that, of the four competitors we entered this year, all four received something.  For the national competition, the awards are printed in English.  At least I can understand the award and know which award belongs to which student.

I call this level, KINDERGARTEN.  I suppose I should try to use the proper category title:  PRE-SCHOOL LEVEL.  This was the level Elva competed in.  The award on the left is the national award, and the the one on the right is the regional award.  Both are FIRST PLACE (or CHAMPION) awards.  One of the points during the national awards that I was happy with, was seeing her mother with tears of joy in her eyes.  Last year, their son Jonas, did the same thing.  This year was Elva’s turn.  I hope they both (Elva and Jonas) compete next year.

This video is the final dress rehearsal before the competition.  This was recorded on August 10th, at Giraffe-Nanmen.

ELVA’s REHEARSAL

I call this level, LEVEL I, but as you can see it is actually called BASIC LEVEL.  These are Nadia’s awards for this year.  On the right is her FIRST PLACE award for the regionals, and the one on the left is the FOURTH PLACE award.  At the nationals, places 4 through 7 also receive trophies, but they give the trophies specific titles.  In this case, FOURTH PLACE is actually called BEST SPIRIT AWARD.  I do hope that Nadia participates again next year.

This video is the final dress rehearsal before the competition.  This was recorded on August 10th, at Giraffe-Nanmen.

NADIA’s REHEARSAL

LEVEL III or ADVANCED LEVEL.  These are Marcus’s awards.  First place in the regional (right) and second place (or first runner-up) in the nationals.  Marcus was having a bad day on Sunday.  He wasn’t able to tell me, mostly because of language, but after a bit of chatting, encouragement, and a tickle or two, and he was back to normal.  I had him practice his performance, gave him a hug and told him to have fun.  I know his mom and dad are very eager to see him succeed, but perhaps they are just a little too eager.  We’ve all heard the term ‘soccer mom’, or ‘hockey dad’ in North America.  Well, his parents are the equivalent here.  Considering that this level is very competitive, I would have been happy if he had received THIRD PLACE.  As it was, he got SECOND, so I’m am happy and thrilled.

This video is the final dress rehearsal before the competition.  This was recorded on August 10th, at Giraffe-Nanmen.

MARCUS’s REHEARSAL

LEVEL IV or JUNIOR HIGH LEVEL.  May.  May has been competing in Giraffe’s story telling competitions for the past 4 or 5 years.  Ever since the first time she competed, she has always won a trophy… except for last year.  The competition was held in Taichung rather than Taipei.  But that is all water under the bridge now.  This year, at the regionals (right) and the nationals (left), May received CHAMPION status (First Place) at both.  I always find it interesting with May, that in class, or when there is a local teacher around, she understands about half of what I say to her.  When it is just the two of us chatting, she is very good in English.  She understands.

May should feel extremely proud of herself for the years she’s been involved in the story telling competition.  She is an inspiration to the younger students at our school.  She is also a very friendly and likable student.  She talks to younger kids, and I’ve seen her helping them, and encouraging them.  If any of our future students were to look to someone as a mentor, May would be the one to follow.

It has been an extreme pleasure working with May and seeing her excel.  She’s easy to work with, takes criticism well, and is willing to do what it takes to succeed.  It may seem easy to give direction and expect results, but with someone like May, it’s wonderful to see that she takes direction, produces results, and then to be recognized locally and nationally, is wonderful for both her and the school.  If I’m not mistaken, if she is willing, next year she can still compete at this level.  I’m hoping that she will!

This video is the final dress rehearsal before the competition.  This was recorded on August 10th, at Giraffe-Nanmen.

MAY’s REHEARSAL

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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August 12, 2012

Here we go!

I wanted to get up at about 6:30am, but even with alarms set, I didn’t wake up until almost 8:30am!  I really wanted to take that quiet walk around the neighbourhood of where we are staying, and snap a few pics.  No time for that now.

Tried to wake up Martin.  It took a bit, but he finally moved or made a noise or something.  Took my shower, got ready, and went back to shake Martin again.  One thing I do know about Martin, he is a very heavy sleeper – [at least he doesn’t snore!]  and is difficult to rouse the next morning.  I should ask Janice whether he’s like this at home!

Went down to greet the morning on the streets of Taipei, snapped a couple of quick photos (figuring there really wasn’t much around here (I hope)), and went back up to pack everything up.  Don’t want to be too rushed later.  Lucky Martin has his mom who does everything.  She came over to get his things, rather than him taking to them.  I, on the other hand, must pack up myself.

A little while later, and we’re at the CPC Building in Taipei.  They have a theatre, and apparently, willing to rent out the space.  It seemed we were one of the first people there!  It is kind of strange to be wandering around, only a few others sprinkled around.  However, getting there a bit early is Janice’s way – and it’s a good thing.  We always seem to get the really good spots to set-up.  End of a hallway, a secluded corner away from others, the front rows at the regionals…

Things are in high gear now.  The students are getting into their costumes, make-up is applied where necessary, sets are put together and final touches added.  For me, I feel a bit ‘in the way’, but try to putter around and see if anyone needs anything.  After a few minutes, I decided to go around and snap some pics around the hall.

Came back, saw that the group was still in their mode, and since the announcers were beginning, took everything I needed and went in.  During these competitions, I either snap photos, or as this year, I had my laptop, and ‘judge’ the contestants as they go up.

Due to a little break, and being asked to listen to Marcus’s presentation before he had to go up, I had a chance to see all but maybe 4 or 5 presentations.  Simon has it all on video.  Throughout the remainder of the presentations, I was a bit far back to really get good pictures.  However, I did write a couple of sentences of critiques of the kids, including my students.

My hope is that each of them receive, at least third place.

After all the performances, this is my prediction:

Kindergarten – Elva:  she actually did quite well.  She seemed to be quite at ease on stage.  She used the stage well, and told a very entertaining story of, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”.  In her category, there were four other students.

For this category, there were only 5 awards to be presented.  I’m positive, after seeing the performances, and being as unbiased as possible, Elva must have at least 2nd place, if not 1st.

Level I – Nadia:  I got the impression that Nadia felt nervous, or for some reason, didn’t feel comfortable.  Her movements were a bit ‘stiff’.  She had no set, so the attention was on her all the time.

In this category, there were 10 other students.  There will be seven awards in this category.  All these seven students receive a trophy.  This means that at least five will go home with nothing.  Unfortunately.  After watching the performances though, I’m satisfied that she may only get third place.  There were a couple other students who were very good as well.

Level II – No one.  Jonas was not invited to participate.  In the regional competition, only the top two received invites.  I’m not sure now what place he did get, but it was not the top two.

Level III – Marcus:  Marcus had gone through a bit of emotional turmoil today.  His dad is a really decent guy, but I think he does push Marcus a lot.  Dad does invest a bit of money in set and costume design and creation, so I guess he feels like he’s in the competition with his son.

Marcus’s performance was good.  Listening to him in the theater though, I think his voice was not ‘appropriate’ for his character.  Marcus is still a little kid, so trying to do voice characterizations, is not easy.  It would have been more effective, I think, if he had been able to make his voice a bit harsher.  He was supposed to be a Shrek-like character.

As I hadn’t seen the first three or four presentations, I can’t give an actual opinion.  However, there were 12 students total in this category.  Marcus was competing against another former student of ours.  Not to be the devil’s advocate, but Brian did do a good job.  At the regionals, I was not impressed with his performance.  For the nationals though, he was a lot more in control, and ‘easier’ on the ears!  If Marcus doesn’t receive 1st place, then he must have 2nd.

Level IV – May:  this is May’s 4th or 5th time at the nationals.  She has competed so much, this is old hat for her.  She still can’t help but get more excited and nervous at the same time.  There are only three students in her category, so to me, she already has third place.

After watching the three performers, May must have snatched 1st place.  The first performer’s story was a bit simplistic for his level.  And, he actually looked a little silly.  May was incredible.  I guess all that worrying pays off!  It was the first performance from her, that “I” felt she was talking about herself.  Very animated, used the stage well, voice changes and attitude were all spot on!  Based on the last few months, and watching her perform in practice and at the regionals, this was, by far, her best performance.  The last performer was a bit, ‘dark’.

Remember the movie where people watched a video and seven days later, they were dead?  There was a woman in the movie, thin, wearing a long gown of sorts, bare feet, hair hanging straight down over her face, and her head cocked to one side…  this is how the last performer came on stage!

I didn’t bother watching the remainder of this production!  Time for another break.  I think for Taiwan, this kind of a performance, especially in front of little kids, is a bit much.  Easily, May has first place.

The final results of the competition:

Kindergarten – Elva:  FIRST PLACE

Level I – Nadia:  FOURTH PLACE

Level III – Marcus:  SECOND PLACE

Level IV – May:  FIRST PLACE

Averaged out, this means they all got second place each – which is better than I had hoped.  Very exciting.  Each of our students got a trophy.  I have to keep in mind a few things, and try to let our students realize as well, that there are kids going home today, with nothing.

Our school had the most number of students participating – four.  Apparently there was one or two other schools in the same situation – four competitors.  Most schools present, only had one student, and a few more with two.  With our school, have 4 times the chances of an award, for us to capture each category, that left a lot of other students out.

I am so happy and proud of each of these students of ours.  Each of them – Nadia, Elva, Marcus, and May – should all be equally as proud.  All that practice, late nights, set designs, practice, demonstrations, suggestions, criticisms, practice and yes, practice, does help.

As much as the national competition is a demonstration of how good one is in the country, the regional competition is more of a competition.  At the nationals, the top student in each region competes.  It’s tough competition at times.  Especially in Level II and III.  This is the bulk of the competitors, and they are the age group with the highest population at the school.

Now for my hope for next year…  I’m hoping again, we will have five levels to compete in.  This time, I’m hoping each of the five get the invite to Taipei. That means that at the regional competition, they must get at least second place.  Kindergarten and Level IV need first place, the other levels need first, second, and possibly third place finishes.  It will be really great, if each of our five get to compete nationally.

That’s it, that’s all… for now.

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August 11, 2012

I wanted to be up around 6:30am this morning, but just couldn’t get out of bed. Ever have those morning where it seems that the alarm is just a noise and part of your dream? Then suddenly, you shake yourself awake and realize that an hour so has passed?

That was me this morning. I still have to clean the cat boxes, pack up my clothes, feed the kids, make sure I have everything I need to take with me (iPhone, laptop, etc.), have my caffeine, take a shower, and get over to the school before 10am. Oh yeah, and get an extra key cut for the apartment, as a friend is going to look after the kids for me while I’m away.

So here it is, about 8:30am. Damn. Feed the kids, clean the boxes later. Pack later. COFFEE. I need my wake-me-up juice! No time, really, to check Facebook. Go on quickly just to make sure there’s nothing urgently needing my attention – as if! Coffee ready, great! Fill the thermos, and start cleaning the cat boxes. Change the litter. Pack up my clothes. Since I’m only gone for one night, and I know what I need to wear on Sunday, no real decisions to make. That’s done. Take my shower.

Finished. Give the cats a second breakfast, make sure the dry food is filled, and the toilet seat is up and the toilet flushed. Just in case my friend can’t make it over, or I can’t get a key cut, then the cats still need fresh water. Cornelia may be the only one who will get upset. She doesn’t like dry food.

Alright… final check. All clothing is ready and packed. Shoes have been polished and packed. The phone, video camera, and laptop all packed up. The cables needed for all these electronics are also packed. Haven’t finished all my coffee, so I’ll just take the rest with me to the school. I can probably finish it up before we leave. It’s about 9:45 now, and I still have to find a place to get a key cut. This early on a Saturday morning? About the only places open at this time are 7-11s!

After passing about 12 key shops, and finding them all closed, I called Addison to let him know that I wasn’t able to get a key, but perhaps before I leave. Check back later.

Slowly the kids with their parents arrived around 10:30am. Got the practices out of the way, and finished the final looks to the set designs. I think we’re ready to head out. About 2pm, off we finally went! We have to go somewhere to pick up Simon first. He’s been at a Giraffe camp in Taiwan somewhere (on our way to Taipei), and is leaving the camp early to go to Taipei.

A while later, we pulled into a rest stop, and picked up Simon. After a bit of a break, off we went. We got to Taipei around 6pm or so. There’s a gondola that starts at the Taipei Zoo. It had been raining all day, and as there was still a bit of lightning, the decision had been made to close the gondola until the weather cleared. We waited for a bit, but it didn’t look like it was going to re-open. Off we went to check in at the hotel.

At the hotel, we were given complimentary movie theater tickets. After dropping our stuff off, we left for the theater. It’s only a couple of blocks down the street, so not far. The movie doesn’t start for an hour, so we decide to have dinner. After dinner, a movie, and back to the hotel. Hmmm… sounds oddly like a date!

Now was the chance to see what I missed on Facebook, and email. As I could have guessed. Nada! S.O.S.

Martin (Janice and Simon’s son) will share the hotel room tonight, so he’s been keeping himself occupied with the games on my iPhone 3G. Since I have the 4S (go back about a month ago or so), I let him use the 3G to take pictures of the weekend, and to play the games if he likes. There is no SIM card in this phone, so unless we’re near WiFi, it’s pretty useless as a phone.

After chatting, playing the iphone games, and watching a little T.V., I finally convinced my roomie it was time for sleep. I want to be up early, go for a walk around this part of Taipei, have breakfast, and get packed up and ready for the day.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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