Monday, August 28, 2006


Sunday afternoon I surpised everyone (including myself, as it turns out), and proposed to my girlfriend, Debbie. She said yes. I am getting married!


So, to answer the most common questions:
q: Have you set a date yet?
a: Nope, but we are looking at June, 2007

q: Where are you going on your honeymoon?
a: Dunno, but I can't see how it matters, since I will be with her.

q: How did you propose?
a: Well, I am glad you asked, since it allows me to tell you a story...

Lets go back in time, shall we?

Debbie and I have been talking about marriage for a while. So building the element of surprise into the proposal was going to be a challenge. The opportunity arose when I made plans to go visit my buddy, Justin, on Labour Day weekend. I got him to back up a story where we (Debbie and I) were going to head to Kingston Sunday afternoon. However, I planned on "missing" an exit and heading downtown instead... wine and dine her at the CN Tower, then propose on the observation deck. I figured all this out while in Taiwan.

When I came home from Taiwan, I spent the most wonderful day with Debbie. It confirmed everything I thought to be true about what a special person she is, and how perfectly we fit into each others lives. The next morning, I was standing outside the jewellry store, waiting for them to open so I could buy the ring. I had to get it resized, so on Friday I picked it up. Saturday night I got her fathers permission to ask for her hand. I was all ready. I was set. It was all falling into place.

One problem. I didn't want to wait. I mean, could you wait?

So, Saturday night I coyly mentioned that I wanted to go for a walk by the water (I always wanted to propose while looking out over a large body of water). She mentioned a place along Lake Erie, with a pier and a lighthouse. Perfect, I thought to myself.

The next day, I drove to the pier, and walked, with my sweetheart, to the end where we found a pile of rocks. We sat and talked for a few moments about our future, then I asked her "What do you think if we got engaged while on Vacation in October?" She said "I wouldn't be surprised". So I asked "what if we got engaged next weekend". She replied "I'd be more surprised". Then I asked, "What if we got engaged right now?", and pulled the ring out of my pocket. She then proceeded to hug me harder than I ever have been hugged before :)

Mission accomplished. She was surprised, we were engaged, and I have never been happier or more excited in my life.

I don't think she's stopped smiling since then. I know I haven't.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Amusing Scenes from Taiwan

So, last Saturday I came back from Taiwan and am now getting back into my Canadian life. Debbie surprised me by meeting me at the airport - this might not seem so amazing, but she does live over an hour away, and I landed at 6AM - she bought me a maple dipped donut, and did some grocery shopping for me. She's the awesomest.

Anyways, before I begin to wax romantic about how much she rules (and its a lot, much more than Chuck Norris, tho her round-house-kicks-to-the-face needs work...) I shall sum up my trip by showing some amusing pictures.

An actual sign, in an actual store in Danshui.

One of the guys needed cash, so he went to a bank machine. As he put in his bank card & started pressing buttons, the machine rebooted. We stood there as we watched it reboot, come up, and reboot again. (it runs MS DOS, if your interested). He never did get his card back.

Its absolutely amazing what a motivated person can fit onto a scooter.

I wonder what kind of gas it is.

So, that is my trip to Taiwan.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Shannon

Further adventures on the far side of the world. Episode V - The Shannon

Ever since I first time I stepped into a Taiwanese club, I wanted to visit an Irish pub. I love Irish pubs - I feel at home in them. It fascinates me (probably because Irish is the part of my heritage that I identify with the most) that all Irish pubs seem to be universal the world over. I have been to Irish pubs in California, Boston, and of course Canada, and they are all the same. I wanted to see if a Chinese Irish pub would follow this trend.

I've been to Taiwanese dance clubs & bars, but they have no soul. Dance clubs and the like are designed for escapism. For getting wasted & letting loose. Usually these places are way too loud to hold a conversation, and are often trendy for the sole sake of being trendy (which usually doesn't work very well). I want a place where I can hang with my friends after a hard day of work, and relax. Have a few beers, enjoy some tunes, and hang out. A quick way to find such a place is to head to your local Irish pub.

Being in Taipei, the local Irish pub is a place called The Shannon, and it did not disappoint. It had a friendly, homey atmosphere, with wood and stone work in classic Celtic designs, a long oak bar, and a stone fireplace. It was a piece of familiarity surrounded by a foreign culture, and it felt exactly like an Irish pub should.

I also had my first Irish Car Bomb. For those unfamiliar with an Irish Car Bomb, it is a drink. You take a shot glass that is half full of Baileys, and half Jamieson. Then you drop the shot glass into a half-pint of Guinness, then chug. It tastes great. The Irish Car Bomb is one of the traditional drinks amongst the group of Googlers I work with, and it was great to have a round of them with all my expat co-workers in Taiwan.

I am heading back to Canada tonight. It was an excellent and interesting experience, and I had lots of fun. However, hitting up the local Irish pub is by far the best part of my trip.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Longtan Night Market

Further adventures on the far side of the world. Episode IV - A New Hope The Night Market.

Tonight I ventured forth to downtown Longtan to see the night market. What you say? A night market? Whassa night market?


First of all, the correct pronunciation is " What is a night market?" Or, if you want to be more formal: "Please sir, I would like to enquire to the nature of this night market of which you speak.". Or, if you wish to suck up: "Oh, a night market, you say? I am so very interested in hearing about such an intriguing method of practicing nocturnal commerce. Please be so kind and explain it in your own uniquely awesome way, you sexy thing you."

Either one will do.

And since you asked...every Thursday night the people of Longtan close off a couple of streets near the freeway underpass, put up a few blocks worth of booths, and sell things. The products range from food (stinky tofu is nasty smelling - apparently it tastes better than it smells (it would have to!), but no one I know is brave enough to try it.), to clothing, jewellery, some midway style carnival games, and other similar style booths.

Communicating prices is interesting when you don't share a common language. Sometimes the vendors know just enough english to say the price in english, other times I had to resort to pseudo sign language (holding up fingers, or using my calculator watch to display numbers). Usually the vendors are very good natured about it, and we all shared some laughs as we tried to communicate.

It was a very interesting experience. And yes, I did but some gifts for Debbie, but alas I will make you all wait to know what it is until I give them to her - ain't I so cruel?

Until then, I amuse myself with this:

Punch Bug! *WHACK!*

And thus endeth the lesson.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Further adventures on the far side of the world. Episode III: Danshui

A bunch of us went to Danshui, which is located just north of Taipei, where the Danshui river meets the Ocean (really, the Tiawan Straight, but why split hairs, eh?). There is a walkway with a quasi-carnival atmosphere with street vendors & performers (all music), and some restaurants.

We all got 2ft (well, 55cm) ice cream cones - just cause its, ya know, 2ft of ice cream. It was freaking hot so we had a hard time eating the icecream before it melted. We ended up being quite the spectacle with the locals, but I chose not to take offense when they referred to us as "americans".

The location is fairly pretty, with mountains in the background, and many boats in the river. The walkway went on for many kilometers, but we only walked about half way. We stopped at a bar for drinks. This bar had some cool sculptures made out of squares of metal, the face being the coolest.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Who you gonna call?

So its Ghost Month in Taiwan. (????)

Yeah, thats right, Ghost Month. The locals believe that the ghosts of their ancestors come back this month. They burn "ghost money" and food to appease their ancestors. At the same time, children are discouraged from venturing near water.

Since we (the team from US/Canada) do not follow this custom, one of the Taiwanese companies we work with are sending a representative to burn money and food on our behalf. Isn't that nice of them?

My suggestion was to make a call...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Geeks Expatria (aka adventures in Taiwan)

So, since we last blogged together (I writing, you reading), I have returned to Taiwan for another 3 week stay for work.

I won't discuss my work (those of you who had read my old site would recall that the first 3 rules of working for Google is... you don't talk about working for Google). The mere fact that I mentioned who I work for is grounds for killing you if it was not for the fact that a) our corporate motto is "do no evil", and b) I just showered and don't want to break a sweat.

So, instead of waxing confidential about my employ, I shall attempt to share some experiences I have had during the last couple of days. I include pictures(duh!) for the visually stimulated.

So last night I, and the rest of the clan here, went to a local expat(aka American style) bar called Azul's, to see a guy named Landis perform country music. It was not bad considering that the entire band are amateur musicians. The guy playing the bazuki is one of the G clan.

This afternoon, we took a trip to Taipei. We had some Thai food at a restaurant called "Crystal Spoon" in Taipei 101, where we dined on shrimp, lobster, chicken, beef, and (not surprising) rice.

We then headed to a computer convention. There were a lot of vendor booths, and some interesting technology to look at. Because I was familiar with all of the technology, but everything was in Chinese, I have never felt both in my element and out of my element at the same time. A very odd feeling.

Anyways, this are the adventures of Dave over the past 24hrs on the otherside of the planet.