Lately I’ve been taking a fair number of pictures with my iPhone camera, and have been looking for a better way to share them. The photo of the arboretum in full fall foliage stood on its own, but most seem to go better as part of a set. Here’s giving the Flash/embedded Picasa Web slideshow player a shot with some pics from Thanksgiving last week:

[ If that doesn’t work for you, you can see the gallery of images here. ]

posted November 30, 2009 – 9:59 pm

I find myself once again away from home, this time back in Taiwan after almost exactly a year of work travel exclusively to China. For a number of reasons, I’ve enjoyed the Taipei visits a great deal more than the Dongguan/Shenzhen trips, and this one is no exception.

It happened that our supplier was having their annual company dinner while I was here, and they were kind enough to invite me along to an evening on the 85th floor of Taipei 101. Sadly, it was mostly a cloudy view, but an enjoyable evening all the same. The highlight for me was a conversation (entirely in Chinese, mind you) with one of the cutest four year-olds I’d met in a while. Granted, his Chinese was quite a bit better than mine, but we most definitely understood each other.

And then today, on the advice of my college buddy (who I’ve really enjoyed catching up with) who lives here, I took a day trip out to Wu Lai, a small town about an hour outside of Taipei. Easily accessible by subway and a 30 minute bus ride, it’s largely a destination because of the natural hot springs adjacent to the river that runs through the town.

Wu Lai Hot Springs

The town is perched magnificently in the mountains, and offers some great scenery (and good hiking, too, I’m told). Even though Wu Lai is fairly touristy, everyone I interacted with was genuinely friendly, and again my broken Chinese helped immensely. I guess there are some resorts there with more private tubs, but the public hot springs were clean, well-kept, outdoors (lovely even in the light rain today) and surprisingly, free. Definitely check it out if you have the chance.

Even with some good Taiwan experiences under my belt, I’m looking forward to the return trip home on Tuesday, with no travel plans until just after Christmas when it’s back to the East Coast.

Originally, Tuesday was supposed to be a return not only to Seattle, but to turkeys (which reminds me, I still haven’t finished my turkey thoughts from last year), but 2009 has been a rough year for the birds. After a rogue neighborhood cat snuck in to the basement and wreaked havoc on our young poults, we had five survivors going strong in Margot’s backyard until the raccoons moved in. And then last week, all of a sudden, there was one bird left, and alternate (turkey) plans were made for Thanksgiving. But I’m planning our ‘coon-proof coop for next year already.

posted November 22, 2009 – 5:04 am

How’s the saying go? International travel heals all wounds? No, that’s not it, but I’m going to Taiwan tomorrow just the same.

Though I’m not exactly thrilled with the timing of the trip, I am looking forward to catching up with an old friend, seeing more of Taipei (last year’s trip was all of three days long), and practicing my Mandarin. After seven months of on-and-off (though mostly on) Chinese lessons, I’m starting to feel like I actually have a handle on the language, and I’m excited to put it to good use.

posted November 15, 2009 – 8:12 pm

Almost every day, I travel about 12 miles each way to and from work. Neither do I particularly treasure time spent in transit, nor do I get excited about the environmental impact of my commute. But both are mitigated by making the trip with others (go vanpool!), and we’re lucky enough that the trip takes us through the Washington Park Arboretum. This was the scene one morning this week as we crossed Lake Washington heading for Redmond:

Fall in the Washington Arboretum

Not too shabby!

posted November 13, 2009 – 10:49 am
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