Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Lunch at Nonzero

I met Mom for a last-minute lunch at Nonzero today. Been spending a lot of time at Primo lately, and going back to Nonzero and eating Ada's healthy and hearty food was really nice.

Had half a chicken & eggplant sandwich, some white & yellow cauliflowers with feta cheese and a coconut finger cake with mohawk-like oven dried pineapple chips.

Yum yum yum.

Then I accompanied Mom to Sogo to pick up her free gift. And Mom got me a rum raison ice cream at Haagen Daz. She says "騙小孩用的." Feels good to be a kid.

It's back to work tomorrow and fighting swine flu news.

Mystery of the contract and my future

I went down to the HR department the other day asking when exactly my anchoring contract ends, and they said they didn't have it on file. HM??? Very strange. I remember it's sometime in May. I really hoped I'd have something new lined up by the time my contract is up, but so far, nothing's panned out. I won't be out of a job when my contract ends, just not bound to FTV anymore, unless they have me sign a new agreement. Oooooh, where is that international lifestyle program host/co-producer position I've been looking for???

On a happier note, my Tour Taiwan travel series is starting up again next week. It's the same 1'30'' travel feature once a week, but this time, they want it in English, Mandarin AND Taiwanese. Nothing I couldn't handle. Just will be very busy and very tired zipping in and around Taiwan, while juggling anchoring and regular reporting assignments until the end of this year. Who knows, maybe I'll be somewhere else if I find a new and even busier. In any case, the future is nothing but bright. :)

I've managed to use up almost all my accumulated off days, but still have 20 vacation days piled up from the last two years. Don't know if I'll get a chance to use them anytime soon. Hopefully I can figure something out and work around the travel feature schedule so I can get a breather somewhere in between and actually go traveling FOR FUN. I want to go back to Japan. And other places.

Any suggestions for a five to seven day trip? I can't do dirty bathrooms and sticky backpacking with no showers for days on end... Doesn't have to be luxurious, just not college-style traveling.

Where would you like to go?

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Japanese manhole covers

Pay attention the next time you go. :)
Even manhole covers can make the lid on sewage interesting.

(via If it's hip it's here)

Friday, 17 April 2009

Keeping on practicing

From a photo of one of my catteleya orchids when I got it last year.

It's starting to bloom again now! I see the flower buds. Can't wait!

First watercolor painting

Feeling like a really proud kindergartner!

I have no memories whatsoever of watercolor painting, so yesterday afternoon when I started it, I just kind of went, "oh, I guess it's like this, and I guess it's like that..." and by the end of last night, I wanted to pull my hair out because it was looking like a mess. Thank god for Skype. Mama gave me lessons over webcam. This morning, I finished it.

(Ken, I blurred out the sign of the shop with you in mind. Hee hee. Thanks!)

I didn't even know how to sign it. Again, thank goodness for Skype and fairy godmothers.

A good respite from the stress of reporting and anchoring in languages I don't speak all that well... I'm anchoring in Taiwanese at 7h00 then Mandarin at 8h00 and 11h00. Oh man.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

"Talent is the passion to practice"

In a CNN interview, author Malcolm Gladwell said, "Talent is the passion to practice." I learned this from Claudia (my old coworker on the English news team, who is now a writer for international news at TVBS) this afternoon and haven't stopped thinking about it. It is simply so encouraging and inspiring!

Many parents, when they take their kids to art class, piano class, math class, soccer practice, they like to ask the teacher/coach "does my son/daughter have talent?" Perhaps if they thought of talent as the passion to practice and find what it is that their kid loves best and wants to keep trying over and over again, maybe that's the direction they ought to be looking in.

For myself, I constantly worry that despite my recently developed passion for art and for "story telling" on TV or in front of an audience, I don't have the talent for it and I'll fail miserably at both my hobby and my job. Now I'm confident that I'll be OK. I choose to believe in what Gladwell is saying.

Here's an excerpt of the interview.

GLADWELL: The Beatles are a lovely example, because we think that their story begins with the invasion of America in 1964. Right? These four, fresh-faced, practically teenagers who burst on the scene.

You know, nothing could be further from the truth. They spend the really critical periods -- they spend two years in Hamburg, Germany, as the house band in a strip club playing eight-hour sets, seven days a week, for months at a stretch.

They have one of the most extraordinarily intensive apprenticeships in rock 'n' roll. And if you think about what it takes to play -- I mean, the typical set for a rock band is what, an hour, an hour-and-a-half. They did eight-hour sets, day in, day out.

If you think about that you realize, if you force a group of young musicians to play together over that -- in that way, for months at a stretch -- you're forcing them to master all kinds of different genres, to learn how to play together well, to write songs.

I mean, everything you need to do, particularly at the dawn of rock 'n' roll, to be the most dominant band of your generation requires some kind of apprenticeship. And lo and behold, they have it.

And I would argue, and many agree with me, that no Hamburg, no Beatles. You know, they're just not the band that we remember unless they had that kind of intensive training.

ZAKARIA: But of course, it raises an interesting question to me, which is, you could imagine a lot of other bands being told, "I've got good news for you. You've got a great gig in Hamburg, Germany. The bad news is you're going to have to play eight hours a day, seven days a week." And they would have said, "No way. We're not going to do it."

So, something about that group made them relish the opportunity...


ZAKARIA: ... to do enormous amounts of practice. And presumably, that's true of some of these sportsmen and true of other people.

That is, yes, it takes practice. But you need a certain mentality to want to practice...

GLADWELL: To want to practice that much.

ZAKARIA: ... the hell out of it. You know, the...

GLADWELL: What you have described is what I believe talent is.

Talent is the desire to practice. Right? It is that you love something so much that you are willing to make an enormous sacrifice and an enormous commitment to that, whatever it is -- task, game, sport, what have you.

When people use that word, we usually talk about something inherent in you. And we think of something very specific. I don't think that's what talent is. I think talent is simply desire.

It's what you said of the Beatles. Their talent consisted of their ability to see Hamburg as an opportunity, whereas 99 out of 100 bands would have seen Hamburg as a nightmare -- which, by the way, it was.

I mean, you could argue that the Beatles talent was also an act of delusion. You know, to be able to see opportunity in Hamburg in 1959 required, at the very least, an extraordinary imagination.

ZAKARIA: But there is no such thing as a certain inherent talent? I mean, there are people who clearly are just great at math. There are people who are -- you know, who clearly have a way with poetry.

Was Shakespeare not talented?

GLADWELL: Well, see, this is a surprisingly active debate among psychologists. So, does Shakespeare have something in him, separate from the desire, to write poetry and plays that explains his genius? All right. I'll grant you that.

But the question is, is it this big, or is it this big? I think it's this big.

Same thing when you say someone has a talent for mathematics. I would say that much of the talent for mathematics is that they like numbers. My father is a mathematician. What is his talent? He genuinely loves numbers in a way that you or I would find unfathomable. Right? That's 90 percent of why he's a mathematician. He just -- and so, as a result, from the very youngest age he was drawn to this, and has put in -- put in by the age of 21, 100 times more time in math than I did by the age of 21.

It starts with love.

Now, does he have some separate facility with numbers that I don't have? Maybe. But I'm not convinced it's significant.

You know, I mean, I think any reasonably intelligent human being has the intellectual firepower to do calculus. But only a small fraction of us make use of it. And it's the "make use" part that I'm interested in.

In sort-of mathematical terms, for show business then I think the equation for success may be as follows:


Obviously you need to be good at what you do, which is inherent talent and passion to practice. You also have to have the social skills to work well with people, with means you have to be nice. Only very few people, if any, will want to work with you after your stroke of luck that's propelled you to temporary stardom, if you ever get it. And luck - you need some of it, but I think the significance of it may be just as small as inherent talent.

Something to chew on.

What do you think? Bologna? You agree? I'd love to hear from you!

Malcolm Gladwell - I've read his "Tipping Point" and "Blink" which I enjoyed more, and now I'm looking forward to reading his "Outliers."

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Jet lag three times a week. Exciting life.

The trouble with my night shift is that I get jet-lagged, even without leaving the country. But to make things even trickier, day 1 (of 7), I still have to get up at 3h00 to anchor the morning news, then start the night shift, which goes until 1h00. The next day, I start work at 13h30. Then day 7 after I get off at 1h00, I have to be back on regular schedule right the next day to anchor the morning news again. This week, they were nice to me and let me start at 11h00 (but I still have to be in by 8h30/9h00 to prepare). When they're not so nice, I start at my regular time, 6h00, so I have to go in at 3h00, which means I go home at 1h00, take off make-up, shower, sleep one wink and go back to work.

So yesterday, my last anchoring session ended at 15h00, then I went to Primo for a really late lunch (when they actually have tables for walk-ins). While waiting for Michael & Lydia, I chatted with Hed, one of the partners there. She saw I had The World is Flat on the table and said, "you zip around town in a 16-inch folding Strida, do your own glittery, metallic bluish green nail polish, are a news anchor and read books like this. You are full of conflicts! The only things these have in common" Hm, I will take that as a compliment. :) Hed's quite interesting. She's Taiwanese, majored in French in college, went to grad school in Boston, worked in Japan and eats cheese with sake. She says it's all the fad among connoisseurs in Japan. Hm. What can I say? She's in the cheese business. In any case, she's someone I'd like to get to know more. She seems intelligent, happy-go-lucky and is evidently quite observant.

After our 16h00 lunch, I came home and was out cold for five hours.

Then I did some doing some looking around for a new mobile phone on the Internet (I'm really inclined to get the Sony Ericsson W995. My last four phones in Taiwan/Japan have been SE's, and so far nothing easily available in TW really beats them. No iPhone - too awkward to hold), I cleaned up and crawled back into bed. Then couldn't sleep. For hours. So I read another 30 pages of the flat world book (if you think of it as an interesting textbook, it's not so bad). I think I finally fell asleep around 3h00 (obviously not yet over night shift jet lag). Good thing I have a once-in-a-blue-moon Sunday off.

Then the phone rings, it's from the office. 5h45. The 6h00 anchor didn't show, wasn't picking up his phone and they need me to come in, NOW. Aigh. So I called for taxi, splashed water on my face, got dressed in the dark and out I went. On the way to the TV station, the phone rings again, "Oh, he arrived. We're still in deep doo doo though - can't start the show on time. You don't have to come in anymore. We'll reimburse you for taxi. Thanks anyway." Ugh...

Since I was up anyway, and the sun wasn't really, so I decided to go for a jog. I could barely keep my legs going, and I realized it was because it'd been too long since I last ate - yesterday afternoon (and probably too long since I last slept well). So I cut the run short, fast-walked the rest of it like an old lady, but still trying to get exercise, so I tried to swing my arms really hard (oh, I bet I looked really funny) and came home after just 30 minutes. Finding only an apple in the fridge, I ended up eating half of it with a big bowl of instant oatmeal.

Just fed the flowers (water + fertilizer) because I have no dog to feed (Brian doesn't eat), now I am GOING BACK TO BED.

I love my exciting life.

Friday, 10 April 2009

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Last day on the night shift. What a nightmare this one has been. Two (of the four) night shift reporters were called to work on documentaries, one has been doing features on and off, which left me to cover almost everything most of this week. Really tired.

The most important thing I learned this week is that when I'm tired, I should keep my mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard when something unpleasant comes my way. My responses to those unpleasantries and even the smallest disappointments have been way overboard, ungrateful and inappropriate. So the next time I am tired or stressed out, I should just take deep breaths, a lot of them so I won't regret it like I am now.

In an email William passed around today there was one line that said, "when you lose, don't lose the lesson." It couldn't have come at a better time.

So if I was rude and ungrateful to you, I sincerely apologize. Remind me when you see me next and a Double Rainbow ice cream is on me. :)

Change - new country perhaps?

I think I'm craving change because I've gotten a little bored and a little too comfortable.

I think I'd like to work in another country, or countries. I'm ready for a new adventure.


Where I was all afternoon and evening. Not a bad day, even if Samsung was a little grumpy and rude. Probably tired from working so many days straight. I think it's his 7th or 8th. It's my 6th and I have 2 more to go.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I want a change

I did a lot of walking about Taipei in March during all those days off, and it felt great. Sometimes I went for walks just to...walk. When I was living in San Francisco and Tokyo with family, we always had dogs, so I'd always be walking or running the dogs, so walking myself was certainly a first.

After kind of working part-time but getting paid full time (because I worked double time for so long) last month, I came back to work Saturday, forgetting that it' walk in the park.

Here's my Saturday morning schedule: (I got bragging rights)
3h00 wake up, have breakfast
4h00 arrive @ office
5h00 make-up/hair/wardrobe
6h00 anchor the news
7h00 munch on a cranberry orange bagel Michael got from Costco
7h15 watch NHK's asa-dora (morning 15-min soap opera)
9h00 anchor the news
11h00 anchor the news
12h15 lunch
13h30 night shift starts
14h00 do food story
18h30 do story on President @ a temple festival
19h30 do story on festival celebrating 1,031th birthday of the resident deity
22h00 dinner
feeling grumpy and ill by this time
00h40 receive call from hysterical Mom about Dad getting bitten by Hero while trying to break up a dog fight between Hero, Oreo (instigator) and King
00h45 make & field several calls regarding dog fight and related "issues"
01h20 get picked up by Michael to go to Danshui
02h00 arrive in Danshui, see Dad with both arms and hands bandaged, sleeping
02h15 find bunch of puncture wounds & lacerations on Oreo, who has a bloodshot eye
03h20 arrive at 24-hour vet, wait wait wait for other, more serious dogs to go first
04h30 vet declares Oreo OK, shaves patches of hair off near wounds, gives meds
05h00 Michael drives me home, and then goes back to Danshui with Oreo the monster

Then it was work again the next day, thank goodness starting at 13h30.

It's now the 4th day of the night shift, and I'm still not recovered.

Add to all of that my crazy job, crazy editors, slightly disappointing happenings and a natural tendency for coworkers, family and friends to run to me to complain about other people, the world, life...I believe I'm ready for another holiday.

But more than a holiday, I would like a change. An external change and an internal change. I'd like a new environment and a wiser soul. I need to continue growing.