Shine On Harvest Moon

(Laurel and Hardy’s version)

This weekend is the Moon Festival (or Mid-Autumn Festival).  Dan received several gifts of mooncakes, and the PTA gave all the teachers gifts of pomelos.

moon festival gift

The Moon Festival is a time to get together with your family, barbecue outdoors, and watch the moon. Also fireworks.  It’s always time for fireworks here.  That’s it?  Just get together with your family and eat certain foods?  Uh, yeah…. kinda like Thanksgiving.  It’s a harvest festival. That’s what you do.

Big party outside our apartment building (and other apartment buildings) tonight.  And the moon is particularly beautiful tonight.


While Betsy has been taking pictures of the sky…

While Betsy has been taking pictures of the sky, and painting, and keeping everyone up to date, the following question may have occurred to you:  What the HECK is Dan doing?

Um. . .


School is great.  I’m having a bunch of fun working with my colleagues, and with my kids.  I’m even having some fun working with the computers.

I’m teaching two classes: Intro to Business and Entrepreneurship, and LEGO Robotics.  Robotics is a relatively large class for AST – I have ten students.  But the BIGGEST class in the school is Intro to Business, where I have twenty students.  Just to put some perspective on this, I had to get additional desks put into the room, because there were only 17.  (“Who would need more than 17?  No one needs more than 17!”)

The kids are great.  As an example, I was recently about 45 minutes late to class (I had an excuse.  Really!) and when I got there, all my students were sitting outside the room, talking.  All of them.

We’ve been having some challenges with language: I’ve been trying very hard to put new terms on the board, and define them, as I use them.  {“Assertion” is my favorite – I seem to use it quite a lot.)  But on occasion, I run across some miscommunication.  I’ve received a number of homework responses that use the phrase “interest rate” to mean “level of consumer interest in your product.”  I must admit, it took me a little while to figure out why I was confused by the answer.

The Robotics class is not as interesting to me.  Historically, it was taught directly out of a text book, and follows a pretty cook-book approach.  However, I’m not really a good cook, I guess, and the kids got out of synch pretty quickly.  We’ve had a pinball game, a block sorter, a remote control car, a ball-spitter (yes, I really mean a machine that spits balls at you), a “llama” and a “snake” (which rather suddenly jumps out at you, if you trigger the sensor) at one time or another.  Oh!  And “spiders” and a “lizard.”  Now, we are working with more basic machines, trying to get them to respond to changes in their environment.  What I’m working toward is simulating some basic insect behavior – specifically, either running toward light (moths) or away from it (cockroaches), or following a line (ants).  We have a prototype line follower up and running; I was hoping that it could follow a black marker line, but it seems to need a thicker line than that, as it doesn’t discriminate well.  This is too bad, ‘cause I was hoping to create a line-drawing robot, which would then lead the line following robots.

We may still have to work on that one.

The OTHER thing that has been going on is testing.  We’ve been running 4th through 10th grades through a battery of computerized tests for the past two weeks.  And while the younger kids are now done, we still have another week of testing for the oldest kids.  This has been disruptive, as testing occurs during the school day (so they miss class), and because the 10th grade class has twenty-six kids in it: this is six machines more than the Computer Lab holds, so I’ve cannibalized my room (the “Satellite Lab”) to provide those computers.  AND THEN, we have a flaky network: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it goes from one state to the other without any discernible cause at all.

I’ve been proctoring many of the exams.  In fact, for two weeks, nearly all my non-teaching time has been working the exams.  But the other day, when I was SUPPOSED to be teaching, Andrew had the 10th grade in for testing, and the network decided to check out.  I got a rather panicky call from one of the other instructors, and I rushed over to help.  We got it running, and the kids took their test (well, they were scheduled for two tests, and they took one) and *I* was 45 minutes late to class.

But don’t worry: my students waited for me.

They’re good kids, and fun to work with.

The American School in Taichung is really quite wonderful: you should come see.

September Artwork

It has been a few weeks since I posted any new work.  It’s not that I haven’t been painting.  I have been painting more than ever (as my paint splattered computer can attest).  But some of this has been experimental to get a feel for new materials and techniques.  Here are a dozen of my favorites from this past month.

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Still So Much to Learn

Just when I think that we know this town, something reminds me that we are in a new place that we are still learning about.  I was in the morning market yesterday with my shopping list and realized that the tomato lady didn’t have tomatoes.  And the fruit stands had a different selection of fruit from what I saw last time I was at the market (no more than two weeks ago).  And I haven’t seen corn for some time now when it used to be everywhere.

In American cities we are somewhat sheltered from seasonal changes of produce. You can get any fruit or vegetable you want, any time of the year. It may cost a little more, but it is available. Because I am shopping in the farmers’ markets (and in a fruit and vegetable paradise), seasonality matters. What I don’t know yet is what grows here when.

Not only that – the thunderstorms and rain storms we had when we arrived haven’t happened for several weeks now.  And while it is still hot and humid some days, the evenings are cooler.  Even though we were told that the winters were (comparatively) cold, we have had a hard time thinking of it being anything but hot here.  When we were on vacation, we never stayed long enough for seasons to change. This will be a new experience.



Enjoying the Evening

Dan called me on his way home from school today.  It was a beautiful evening and he wanted to go for a drive.  So nice to have cooler weather now.

beautiful evening

We headed for the bicycle cafe (combination bicycle store and expat cafe) which has a lovely rooftop garden…. but it was closed.  After we explored some new neighborhoods and then were sorta kinda looking for an Indian restaurant we had been to once, we passed a large restaurant with a chicken on the sign.  And it looked like it had the big ceramic roasters out front like the restaurants in the Bamboo Forest.  Woo hoo! We had to try it.

roast chicken dinner

We got a whole roast chicken, rice, cabbage, and yummy cold Taiwanese green tea. It was even better than the last roast chicken place. I’m afraid we made pigs of ourselves and ate almost all of it.  We left the feet.  We’ll have to talk the Saturday dinner gang into trying this place.

Teacher Field Trip

Back to Sun Moon Lake again.  Saturday was the all day excursion for teachers and staff to Sun Moon Lake.  Since I was took the gondola trip on Monday, we opted for the boat ride this time.

Genevieve, Ella, and Jen on the boat

All went well until Dan, Tracy, and Vickey stepped off the boat to buy tea at what was supposed to be a ten minute stop.  Six minutes later the boat left with me and the rest of the group.  I called Dan and told him not to hurry back.  Fortunately Tracy is a native and could talk their way on to the next boat.

Dan on the boat

Next stop was the fruit restaurant. All the dishes are made with some kind of fruit.  Very good.  And the dishes kept coming long after we thought we had eaten our fill.  (this is squid with yellow kiwi, and salmon with dragon fruit)

fruit food

Because some people got to the restaurant a little late, the visit to snake kiln pottery place was a little rushed.  But we still had time for a stop at the winery/whiskey place.

pottery mural

A long and satisfying day with our friends.