The Precariousness of life on the Island

When I read this thread on Twitter I found myself nodding in agreement. Since moving here there has been a general sense of anxiety that we were always close, or one malady away from being out on the street. I thought at first this was just a response to having to look after the kids alone for the first time, but the feeling hasn’t gone away. This despite Sheryl being here, and her good fortune in finding long term subbing work.

I don’t recall having this level of concern in the 20+ years we lived in Taiwan, in spite of the fact that we were not citizens, and as such had little in the way of rights. If you lose your job, you need to find another quickly or you’re out of the country. There is no EI or gov funds for retraining, or much of anything. You are on your own with no social safety net but for the one you construct yourself.

Part of the anxiety may stem from the fact that the cost of living on the island has proven to be far higher than our wildest estimates. With few exceptions, we pay 2x or more to live here with a far more conservative lifestyle than years past. Net income is also far less. I also don’t have much confidence in a social safety net being there to help us. Medical care is top notch but access severely constrained.

I’m sure winter has some effect as well.

A Coffee Shop Guide to Hsinchu, Taiwan’s Fika Capital

I miss many things about our former home – the food, the density, and the language. But the café scene is really special and, with the exception of Receivers, an experience I have yet to find an equivalent of locally. Lauren Ku’s article in The News Lens misses my favourite haunts, but that is no doubt due to the fact that there are just so many great places to chose from.

Whenever I return to Hsinchu on the weekends, I feel as if I’m running away from Taipei’s hectic subway commute. Although Hsinchu is home to Taiwan’s youngest population, this city feels lazy and sluggish somehow. If you walk out of the historic train station and stroll along the city moat, you can often spot children playing around or people sitting under the trees to enjoy a soft breeze.
In Hsinchu, you don’t really need a scooter to get around. You can walk to most of the places aimlessly and just stop in a cafe when you’re tired. You can spend the entire afternoon listening to the high-schoolers’ gossips or observing the old couples who just mind their own business. Hsinchu has a surprisingly high density of coffee shops, with customers of all age groups. When I was a kid, my dad also brought me to a local coffee shop frequently, where we each read our own books.

A Coffee Shop Guide to Hsinchu, Taiwan’s Fika Capital

Catching Up

It’s been a few months since I’ve written with much regularity and much life has lived during this short period. In bullets:

  • I attended a “tech sales” workshop yesterday and the topic was about as interesting as I expected. Fortunately the presenter Rod Foster was excellent and I came away with a number of interesting points – the most important of which might be how to create an engaging workshop.
  • Out of this workshop was an introduction to Patty McCord who I find to be brilliant in thought and an excellent speaker.
  • Our podcast Sleep Tight Stories continues to grow and be enjoyed by a modest sized group of fans. We are constantly ranked top 10 in Kids and Family in most Asian markets, and currently 24th in Canada and the US. We seem to be most popular in Thailand, where we have been consistently ranked number 1 or 2.
  • I delivered a new workshop for Skills PEI recently called The Art of Active Listening. Generally the feedback has been positive and I feel that my speaking skills have improved compared to the talks I gave in the past.
  • Sadly, my Aunt Sylvia (FiFi) passed away recently, after a lengthy struggle with a host of different health problems. Sheryl and I were with her when she passed. I’ve been witness to this cycle a couple of times now and I don’t possess the ability to express how powerful it is.
  • I’ve decided to overcome my dislike of the sound of my voice by helping to do some voice over for another podcast, Sleep Tight Relax. The quality isn’t there yet and I have been a little trepidatious about sharing.
  • I’m surprised I have been unable to find any unscripted personal podcasts, whereby people simply share there lives and interests; like blogs. I might start one to see what kind of feedback I receive. Edit: I did try this 15 years ago and it sounds atrocious so perhaps this idea should be shelved so as not to embarrass myself further.
  • Kudos to StartUp Zone. I don’t know what other people think of the “fishbowl” on the corner of Water and Kent, my own thoughts on startup culture have certainly soured since I became a resident, but no other organization on PEI has been interested in offering the level of support to us that they have.
  • I continue to go to CrossFit, now about 6 times a week. Sheryl and I go together about 5 of those times a week, and it’s become a date night of sorts. I’m constantly amazed at how fervent the community is and how excited they are about lifting weights as fast as possible until exhaustion. I don’t share their enthusiasm.
  • CrossFit has introduced a new “wall”. When running, my skinny weak body produces hard limits as to what I can do. Before I can hurt myself my body will cramp up, get sore, or in some cases simply stop functioning before I do any damage. CrossFit is often not like that. I like to win and I often forget that a fit person of 20 is going to be able to do things faster than me. Lately, in my attempts to keep up, most often with some activity that includes burpees or sprints, I’ve seen my sustained heart rate climb over 200 beats per minute. This would seem ill advised, and yet I wonder how my body will tell me to stop. Will me heart explode? Will I pass out? Some younger athletes have told me they search for that wall.
  • If you must use WordPress and hate the new posting interface as much as I do (do they not have an experience team!), then Classic Editor may save your sanity.