Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: September 2004 (Page 1 of 2)

Taking a Week Off

I’m taking the next week or so off from writing here. See you back in these parts sometime toward the middle of next week. Godspeed.

Space Elevators

Back in the olden days of 1997, my then-roommate Colin R. and I used to bandy about the idea, long discussed but never enacted, of a space elevator: a huge apparatus, anchored in space, that’d haul ships and people from the earth up into the lower reaches of the solar system.

Alas, Colin sends word that “the dream is becoming a reality.” Indeed. I give you The LiftPort Group Inc.

A Meal for the Ages

First, put down “the 8500 calorie manwich.” Then polish off a Hostess wedding cake. Go on, I dare you. (Hostess cake link via Dana.)

My New Article on Teaching English in Taiwan

Everything you ever wanted to know about teaching English here in Taiwan is covered in an article I recently wrote for the Transitions Abroad Web site. It begins:

Made in Taiwan. You’ve seen that phrase, no doubt, affixed to consumer products of all stripes–plastic toys, sleek electronics, sporting goods. But an image of Taiwan itself, the country that manufactures some 60% of the world’s notebook computers, can be difficult to conjure. Perhaps you imagine a drab, gray landscape of warehouses and factories–facilities for creating all that stuff.

In fact, Taiwan’s a dynamic nation of considerable natural beauty, a place where traditional Chinese culture has collided with and adopted all the trappings of a prosperous first-world economy. It’s an environment where you might see an ornate temple, a pineapple farm, a McDonald’s, and a bicycle manufacturing plant coexisting along the same stretch of road.

I’ve been living and teaching English here for the last six months. The demand for English education is high, and teaching opportunities abound. And besides getting a chance to observe Taiwanese culture first-hand, teaching English here can be quite lucrative.

Checking in on Baseball

With October approaching and my beloved Braves on cruise control, I asked by buddy Miles B. for his thoughts on the season.

Miles has a unique perspective–as a die-hard Yankees fan residing in Boston, he’s truly living behind enemy lines. I asked him about his Bronx Bombers, and I aired my growing distaste for the country’s fascination with the Red Sox. The BoSox, after all, can’t be underdogs anymore if the entire nation is rooting for ’em.

Here’s what Miles says:

I don’t know that the Yankees will beat the Sox again, but I am pretty sure the Sox aren’t going to take it all. And you are right about the fascination with the Red
Sox as underdogs. I think people outside of Boston are starting to get sick of it, and hopefully it will end soon.

People are starting to realize that the Red Sox aren’t this small market little team that could, but one of the largest market teams that can never quite make it happen. I, for one, will be happy when things go back to normal. I don’t need all this unecesscary Red Sox crap.

Now, you’ll be happy to know that my pick to win the series this year is the Braves. I think things are going to continue to follow the recent trends with kind of an underdog team flying beneath the radar winning it all. (Keep in mind this is not based on a single baseball stat, simply gut instinct). Here’s my breakdown: if the AL teams are Boston, Minnesota, New York, and Oakland, none of those teams look to be a great option. The Sox and the A’s have bad playoff histories, and the A’s line-up is not strong. The Yankees have obvious weaknesses. The Twins are a little tired at this point, but they have the best shot of any. If the Angels sneak up and catch the A’s, watch out, very dangerous.

Then there’s the NL, alomost all of these teams have a better shot. The Cards are getting all the attention right now and they are like the Indians of the early-mid 90’s (and the Yankees of today): daunting line-up, playing cohesive ball, no arms, too much of a front runner for me to pick. I like the Braves, they are sneaky, they can pitch, they have an awesome closer, and they have a few players who could carry them through a series. The only problem is JD Drew, since many consider him to be the anti-christ. It may be tough to win with him. We are ruling out the really big markets, so the Dodgers are gone. The Wild Card is truly wild over there–the Astros could pull something off, everyone knows the Cubs won’t do it, and with Barry about to break 714, I don’t think the baseball gods are going to give him a ring. That’s it, Braves are my pick.


High School Seniors and Other Silly People

Here’re some unintentionally funny high school seniors’ photos. And here’re some more unwittingly silly images–posted by someone who found the subjects’ memory card in a cab.

I haven’t had this much fun since was in its heyday.

Ain’t the Web great?

Personality Tests

The incomparable Malcolm Gladwell’s got an article on personality tests in the most recent New Yoker. Kottke’s got a snippet here.

My brother posits that you can gauge an individual’s true nature by the way he or she treats restaurant wait staff. I think he’s on to something.

Funny Chinglish Names

Jill and I teach kids between the ages of 5 and 13. And they often have funny names. That’s because when they start studying English, which is usually when they’re 5 or 6 or 7, they get to choose their own English names. Why? Because their Chinese names probably don’t have a romanized equivalent, and their odd pronunciation and tones would simply sound weird in an English context.

As it happens, students–and, quite often, their parents–sometimes choose amusing names. Sometimes unwittingly, but often times quite knowingly.

Here’re a few funny ones. None of these are our students; these come from fellow teachers (I’ve been keeping a list). Just imagine a pint-size Taiwanese child being called:

Tiger (his father’s name, FYI, is Panther)

Next up in our Chinese studies: Jill and I get to choose our Chinese names. Stay tuned…

All I Want for Christmas…

…is an inflatable pub. Seriously. I mean it. I need an inflatable pub. Dear readers, please pitch in and buy me an inflatable pub. I want nothing more and nothing less this holiday season. (Okay, truth be told, I’m also dying for a banana guard. And a Roulette Chocolate.)

The Grim Realities of the Modern Book Publishing World…

…are detailed in this interesting Columbia Journalism Review article, “The Education of Stacy Sullivan: A First-Time Nonfiction Author Learns That Getting Published Is Not Necessarily the Hard Part.”

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