• Resolution Review #9: An Economy of Giving

    November 12, 2015

    It’s time again for my monthly Groundhog Day Resolutions Review, when I analyze how I’m progressing on my yearly goals. The last month was quite a change of pace, however, as it was dedicated to travel and ended up being a break from my 2015 goals! I’m back in the States now after 24 days away from home. I had a good time, faced some very old personal demons, and have come to a new understanding of my Groundhog Day Resolutions thanks to a timely reading of Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking.

    Warning: this entry talks about social anxiety and empathy, and is highly personal; it may be difficult to follow if you are not crazy in the same way I am :-) (more…)

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  • Day 15: Taichung Guoguang Flower Market

    November 9, 2015

    Small Cactus Saturday, October 31, 2015 Dad wanted to show me the orchid market in Taichung that he likes to visit on Saturday morning. Thanks to the GPS tagging of the photos and Google Maps, I found out the market is called the Guoguang Flower Market located in the Dali District of Taichung. It was impressively large! (more…)

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  • Day 14: In Search of Taiwanese Breakfast

    November 5, 2015

    Breakfast Time Friday, October 30, 2015 Dad got me up early to take me on an early morning walk to the nearby market street, because he wanted me to see the “swarming people” that all went to this particular Taiwanese breakfast street restaurant. I hadn’t realized before this trip that Dad was quite unfamiliar with it; a few days earlier when I had mentioned to Dad that I was excited to have some genuine shaobing youtiao, he had asked one of our relatives where to get it and and had gone to this particular place. He had been AMAZED at how many people were up early and lined up to buy oily fried sticks of bread stuffed between baked flatbread. This breakfast, while extremely popular in Taiwan, is not really a “Taiwanese” tradition that he grew up with. Apparently it came over from the Mainland when the Nationalists had lost the Chinese Civil War in 1947, and the largely uneducated soldiers who made it over had to do something to make a living. A lot of them started street food stalls based on their own provincial cooking traditions back in China. It’s part of what makes Taiwan such an interesting place to eat. Dad had been particularly surprised at how much one package of shaobing youtiao w/ dou jiang (bean milk) cost: around 60NT or US2.00! But I am getting ahead of the story… (more…)

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  • Theory of My Mind: Does Action Precede Motivation?

    November 4, 2015

    I stumbled upon a phrase “Action Precedes Motivation” sometime during my wanderings of the Internet yesterday, and sufficiently intrigued by its truthiness to dig a little deeper. I found this longer quote online:

    “The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true — action precedes motivation. You have to ”prime the pump” and get the juice flowing, which motivates you to work on your goals. Getting momentum going is the most difficult part of the job, and often taking the first step is enough to prompt you to make the best of your day.” – Robert J. McKain

    I have to admit that for me, motivation is hard to summon even when I’m 100% certain of an action’s benefits. I’ve spent quite a number of years trying to train myself to self-motivate in the face of the unknown. My best trick so far is to allocate 5 to 15 minutes to the action, giving myself permission to give up after that time has elapsed. Just about every time I do this, I find that I’m likely to keep going; it is starting itself that is difficult, and once that hurdle is overcome I find I can be quite productive. What I find so interesting about the notion of action preceding motivation is that (1) it does seem to work for me as I’ve described and (2) it hints at a different model for understanding how my intentions, actions, and motivation are connected. Ideally, I’d like to more easily move from intention to productive action in my everyday work, particularly for my own personal projects. Being a solo entrepreneur working in isolation, being able to crack this nut is of critical importance to future productivity. (more…)

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  • Day 13: Journey to the West (of Taichung City)

    November 3, 2015

    Taichung County Thursday, October 29, 2015. We went to visit my Uncle’s house (“condominium” might be more accurate) more than 20 minutes drive to the west of my dad’s place. I was curious to see how different things would be away from the old city center, thinking it might be more rural, but there is no escaping Starbucks or McDonalds. Starbucks has a significant presence here, though coffee in Taiwan goes back quite far, beginning with introduction by the Dutch in the 1600s and then by the Japanese in the early 1900s; today, Taiwan is starting to become known as a world-class coffee city. The history of McDonald’s in Taiwan goes back to the mid-eighties, and I believe was one of the very first foreign franchised allowed to operate in the pre-democratic protectionist economy laboring under martial law. I was attending Taipei American School at the time, and one of my friends was the son of the lawyer who made the deal happen. There was much celebration among us expatriate kids, because it was incredibly difficult to find a decent hamburger in Taiwan at the time. (more…)

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