Pat's Log
Mon, 28 Apr 2008

20080427 In this country, it is usually difficult to think of raccoons as anything but garbage-scavenging pests. On any given morning in the summer, someone's trash can will be sprawled all over their yard as one of these creatures wreaks havoc while rummaging for scraps of nourishment.

On the other hand, during the day, they are cute and playful creatures. One came to visit us today. He scrambled up the tree when we walked up to him. He came down when we offered him a half-eaten yogurt. A scavenger indeed, the container was licked clean and dry.

[] | posted @ 03:51 | link
Mon, 21 Apr 2008

Xbox Fire
20080420 I came home last night to the smell of burning electronics. At first I feared it was my new TV, but luckily the real source of it was my brother's Xbox.

This morning I asked him about it:

  • "So, it released the magic blue smoke?"
  • "No, the normal black kind."
  • "Black smoke from your Xbox is normal?"

Anyway, we took it apart. A capacitor had been rolling around in the case; it apparently caught fire and desoldered itself. Looking at the damage, there was definitely a full-fledged fire inside that thing. The damage on the underside of the optical drive says it all.

I guess Soul Caliber 2 is a pretty hot game.

[] | posted @ 02:33 | link
Sun, 06 Apr 2008

Another Day in Taipei
20080406 Well, here I am on the San Francisco-Toronto leg of yet another trip to Taipei. I look to be just over Chicago at the moment. It's hard to say, because as usual, the Air Canada "Map" utility says "This feature is current unavailable." I don't see what the big deal is about providing GPS output in this day and age. Anyway, at the beginning of this trip, I half expected that these trips to Asia start becoming routine. I am pleased that they never quite are.

As luck would have it, my flight back was on a Saturday evening after an unexpected Friday holiday. That effectively meant two whole days of being a tourist; what a concept! There was also a little bit of revisiting San Francisco on the way there, what with a six hour layover. That kind of time just demands a BART trip to downtown, an 8km walk in and around Fisherman's Wharf, and a train trip back. I've never actually walked around San-Fran, so it was a new experience. It also made me appreciate sitting on the 12 hour flight that much more.

The time off in Taipei was spent visiting sights previously unvisited. There were also some new sights. Friday I indulged in a very upscale hotspring experience; I had no idea 45 degree water could feel that hot, nor that sulphur could be that soothing. Since the last time I slept in a bed, we made a trip to Yangmingshan Mountain to the North of Taipei. A really hot and humid day, a walk around very nice and shady mountain trails in the National Park was, simply, awesome before a long flight. I think that once one gets outside of the normal tourist areas, one also gets outside of the stereotypes associated with a given area; it really helps with appreciating the little things in cultures that one might otherwise be sheltered from in a large city.

Back in the city I got to go to Nova Computer Centre, a four-floor shopping mall all full of small- to medium-sized vendor stalls. It was like a flea market for your inner nerd. Great place to pick up gadgets.

A few hours back, near Denver, we hit major turbulence. At first it felt like the plane was going to flip. Many spilled drinks. Fun times. It was a good trip.

[] | posted @ 11:54 | link

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