Link to my Flikr photostream.

I am switching my photo and video to Flikr, due to its ease of use and the speed of uploading, as well as the fact that it gives far more memory than WordPress for such things. I probably will continue to use wordpress for writeups and links to things that interest me. I am finding that Google + is a very lonely place indeed, despite my loving its layout and sharing settings. Facebook still is too messy and over-doing its attempts to turn me into a monetary unit for their benefit, and most of the people I regularly see on Facebook I honestly never see in reality or interact with in the flesh world.

Here’s the link to my photos: check regularly for updates- this is particularly directed at Ariel fans, probably lots of Ariel pics and vids. Most people I cared to try to let see this link have been directly emailed, this is for anyone I may have inadvertently missed or perhaps didn’t get due to language differences.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattclark886/

 

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April 26th update

In career news, I am in negotiations with a potential employer at the moment. Hopefully it all comes through… I have a pretty good feeling (90%) it will work out and I will have a daytime job starting in July. That’s great, but I have to stay alive in the meantime, so part time hours from them and hopefully an evening job teaching adults will be handy. I have applied at a couple adult specialization schools and I have heard some interest from some of them… but no hours offered yet… cross my fingers on that.

In home news, I am still waiting for the use of a friends borrowed car to dump the last 6 or 7 bags of recycling at a depot nearby. We have all the rooms we use cleared, our bedroom, Ariel’s bedroom, the living room, and the majority of the kitchen are clear of junk. Right now we have a storage room which will be my office once it is clear, and part of the kitchen is still filled with an overabundance of recycle items from clearing up all the stuff our friend’s mom left behind.

We hosted our friend’s family and her sister’s family last weekend to get final instructions on what they wanted done with their mom’s items that we thought might be of interest, and got permission for about a 75% dispose and 25% keep in storage in a closet. (as it worked out.) Basically keep the valuable stuff, and toss the excess everyday stuff that she had piled up. Generally all of it being potentially useful old things but her mother had already replaced them all with newer better quality things but were still moldering in various corners of the house. (She could have saved us a ton of trouble by having a couple garage sales a few years ago!)

Ariel is finally sleeping in her own completely childproof room. That is the best thing about being out here- we control our own area again! It isn’t swank or luxury, but it is safe.

Ariel is the coolest baby, she has adapted well to riding on the scooter with us. I recently picked up a new, light folding stroller that fits well in front of me and it even folds down so she can lie inside the stroller (when we are walking around pushing her.) We strap Ariel on to our body when riding the scooter, and she has a helmet (a bit over-sized, but nobody seems to carry 16 month old sized helmets for some reason.)  She is as safe as I can get her until I can afford to finance an actual car. A parking spot isn’t a problem for us- its just getting the coinage to maintain a car and a job to get financing approved for a car. After a couple months into my next job I will likely start financing a car that ironically will mostly get driven by my wife to bring Ariel around… sigh. At least that makes my daughter safer. I do the best I can with what I have. Don’t kill me Grandma! I know its bad, but we need transport and quite frankly things are different now than even 10 years ago.

All in all, it has been 12 days and we almost have things back to semi-normal. The next couple steps will be harder. I think I will be back up to snuff by November, after I have a couple pay-cheques under my belt to have paid off everything…

Pics:

 

 

 

Re-arrival. Cleaning. Re-set progress.

1. Arrival.

2. Cleaning up.

3. Price comparing CA and TW.

We arrived in Taiwan a few days ago. I have not had internet until this time. I am currently busy cleaning out the place we are renting from a friend. Her mother passed away and left an empty but dirty and slightly junk filled house to her. We are helping her by cleaning it out for our temporary use. It is ironic a bit that I am back at this location in Taichung, I lived in a unit across from this one back in 2002-2005 while I was working at YuJen Catholic, so I know the neighborhood well.

Verena’s friends’ mother apparently liked clothes and never threw them out or donated them. I currently have 14 bags of clothes occupying one of the bedrooms, along with a lot of odds and ends we will get her friend to look at to see if they want to keep anything. We had to move all of the clothes and stuff around a bit and toss out mounds of accumulated clutter so we could make this place child proof and usable. I also found a sizable stash of alcohol, but all of it is stuff I don’t like and am unlikely to drink. I am saving that for V’s friend to see if she wants it.

Dust is everywhere at the moment and this place wouldn’t be bad if the kitchen wasn’t so cramped and obviously an illegal add-on or afterthought as part of the design. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms for 6k NT (about 200$ CAD a month) Try getting that deal in Canada.

Cell phone service rings in at 6$ CAD a month with full caller ID and services. If we go beyond 100 minutes of talking that month we pay as we go at a reasonable rate. Compare that to Fido which was a ‘good’ deal in Canada, it cost me 50$ CAD and didn’t include any caller ID unless I wanted to add on another 12$. To transfer some cash to TW from Canada rang in at a 100$ CAD fee to transfer cash to my wife’s account to pay off our plane tickets. The bank on this side of the pond charges 500$ NT or about 23$ CAD, so the Canadian side appears to overcharge by about 75$ ish. So when I talk about Canada being kind of unreasonable economically, that is why.

I went into the hospital, paid off my backlog of unpaid monthly medical fees and then went to the hospital. The medical taxes I didn’t pay for about 4 months came out to about 500$ CAD. Then I went to the hospital and got myself a full service medical exam including a new test kit, eye exam and doctor consultation, new meds and needles for about 4$ CAD. So I get what I pay for here. (In truth I get more than I pay for!)

I rode the bus for free to the hospital and to get my groceries. Its tedious, but safe and there are electronic signs that tell you when the bus will arrive at some of the major stops.

I am currently in the process of hoop jumping to get myself a scooter, get Ariel a new cart, and renewing my APRC. After that is done I get to renew my drivers license and hunt for a job.

I figure I should let people know that I am officially heading back to TW on April 12th.

I actually have been planning this since the end of March. I will be leaving for Taiwan on April 12th 2013, this Friday. I have been avoiding stating anything to people as it leads to awkward questions and comments, and I don’t care to be the focus of a misguided pity party / awkward goodbye dinner from misguided people who wouldn’t understand why I would go back. The reasons are many, and I won’t state anything beyond the simple life guidance that I am trying to adhere to:

“If you have nothing positive to say, it is better to say nothing at all.”

The reasons I am leaving are myriad, most of them are probably self-inflicted, IE my own damn problems. There are other external problems at work as well, but rest assured there is nothing any individual person I know personally did to drive me off or anything, so don’t feel bad about anything you did. It wasn’t any of you: it was basically environmental, economic realities, social issues and isolation / a feeling that I shouldn’t be living in my parents basement at my age that did me in. Long winters and unappealing jobs with low pay and long hours, costs and general social isolation and boredom was what did it for me.

Thank you for attempting to care, those of you who did. I will solve my problems myself or die trying. I don’t want help or pity: Canada has too many well meaning people if anything- it robs me of my self-motivation and self respect when well meaning other people do shit for me that I want to do for myself. I will face my problems and demons by myself, overseas in a place where I can stand on my own feet without someone else whose job is to kick my feet from underneath me getting in my way. One thing I can say about Taiwan- there is opportunity there for someone with my background. It may not be wonderful pay or anything but at least I can live a comfortable life off it without going into debt, and my help is welcome there without judgement unlike employers here.

Thank you for hosting me, Alberta. It was an educational experience I won’t repeat, and that is a lesson well heeded. You can continue to follow our adventures on this site, I won’t change it. You can reach me with any personal comments / hate mail to amuse me at matt.j.clark886@gmail.com, or comment on the site itself if you care to.

If you are curious, we have a place to stay and I have already received some interest from a couple schools back in TW, but no offers yet. Th city of choice this time is Taichung, which is a bigger market for ESL, and my wife’s home town.

DRM requirements killing franchises… surprise?

Looks like Simcity’s latest offering is crashing and burning, thanks to DRM requirements.

http://ca.ign.com/articles/2013/03/08/simcity-burning-a-warning-to-microsoft-sony-and-all-publishers-on-the-dangers-of-always-online-drm

Looks like I will not be buying that one either… 

Admittedly I probably wasn’t going to, anyways. I like the old stuff from Maxis more, anyways.

I was excited about Diablo 3… but after hearing about the total lag-gasm that it was after huge, complex DRM procedures, I remembered why I hate MMORPG’s… the 12 year old kids ‘trash-talking’… the item hogging… the LAG. I decided to save my cash. (It probably also saved my marriage. LOL.)

Great games don’t need DRM and lawyers… they just need to be great and to be something that people are willing to drop money on for a long time of entertainment. I probably have paid for Starcraft and D2  2 times each respectively, because I used to respect the people at Blizzard until they treated me like I was a criminal before I even tried or paid for their new games. See you Blizzard, it was nice playing your old stuff.

Photographic Recap of Dec- to beginning of Jan

Went through my wife’s computer the other day, she had put a lot of pics in her computer that were not on mine yet. Probably many people already saw these on her FB, but for my own gratification I will post them here. We have been keeping busy while I hoop-jumped and job-hunted. Mostly dog walking but a few visits with friends and family, too.

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At Java Mama with Matt A/B.

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1st Haircut with Auntie Margo!

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Punk’d out Ariel

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River Valley walk with Mark Huculak

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Francois the drag queen poodle in cop gear. DISCIPLINE iz zee word? Oui?

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Francois and Colby.

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Ariel tries on one of Francois’ hats.

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Keely’s 21st birthday.

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Hangin’ out at the community center.

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Mark and his clan cookin up some bannock at the community center.

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Sledding with Ariel.

Went for a walk out behind the house with my dogs and daughter. We used the boogie-board again. That thing has earned its cost back 1000% now, if you have a baby and live in a winter environment get a sled or a boogie-board if you don’t have a sled handy, and (if they can sit up/support their own head weight) it is gold. So much easier than carrying a 10.5 kg baby for 45 minutes!

Anyways we found a hill. We used the hill well. The dogs are now very tired and so was Ariel afterwards. Good times for the winter environment. It was actually quite warm today, it got up to +8 degrees and was a wonderful clear day. Alberta can be awesome when things go right.

Video here:

Star Wars: Identities Exhibition

Today we went to the Edmonton Space and Science Center to explore around and see the big exhibition there titled “Star Wars: Identities.”

It was a good time; but clocked in as overpriced by my standards. It worked out to be 26.50 each adult for entry. Yipes. I was thinking it would be about 15$ in my dreamworld view, tainted by cheap access to educational museums in Taiwan. Kids over 3 would clock in at a fair price too, (my memory is fuzzy but I remember their ‘discounted’ price was over 10$ Canadian.  This exhibition might be something only for true Star Wars fans. I like my star wars movies- but I have only seen each of them about 3 times, so I am familiar with the story and mythology (I admit to reading some of the Star Wars fan fiction books as well, more because I like R.A. Salvatore’s writing.)

I admit I have been spoiled by living in a nation where health care and education are free and museums get full funding; most event entry prices were at about 2$ Canadian… in Taiwan. Out here I wouldn’t have objected to a 5$ entry fee for an adult. 18$ was a kind of unpleasant surprise. That is a 900% higher price for museums in Canada! HOLY SHIT PEOPLE! GET SOME PITCHFORKS AND TORCHES!! The quality of the museum was about the same as what I paid 2$ for back in Taiwan. It was not 900% better. I greased up my buttocks and entered having driven 40 minutes to view dusty artifacts from a movie created the year I was born.

We brought a fairly patient and laid back 13 month child in (thank god she was free entry.) ; she got a bit bored midway through and went to sleep in her stroller. Be warned that small strollers are permitted- but large strollers are NOT permitted. Ours met the strict requirement. The exhibition area gets tight in some sections that are popular; hence the stroller size limits are sensible.

The Star Wars universe is an interesting and exciting one, if a bit simplistic at times. The binary vision that it views the world in, and the frequent childlike answers of violence used to counter violence cloaked with the bafflegab of Jedi spirituality is at times a bit treacle-ly. The exhibit does provide some interesting views of how the ideas and visions of George Lucas came to life. I suppose there was a defensive view of why Jar Jar Binks was tossed into episode 1 for ‘comic relief’ also presented in the exhibit. My personal favorite part was the model of the Imperial Battlecruiser.

I sound a bit harsh; the psychological theme through the whole exhibit was quite well done; in the theme of motivational leadership seminars it explores your motivational and character development and lets you create your own character with a role in the Star Wars universe. It is quite fun, and you can learn a few things about yourself and think a bit about what made you the way you grew up to be and how the universe and events in your life and your own choices shape you. This part was something enjoyable and made the rather disjointed nature of what was basically left over parts of a historic movie and a childish fantasy universe into something deeper and semi-educational, and more entertaining than just looking at hollywood toss-offs. Would I pay 26.50 for it again: myself- I would not. For a person who deeply loved the Star Wars universe and is a subscriber to the Jedi religion: perhaps that is worth it.

(In my mind the deeper problem with price lies with local government funding cuts to museums and educational facilities- the 18$ price for the general admission to the Space Science Center’s somewhat dated feeling exhibits is where the true pain lies… I appreciate the fact it exists but I suspect that the prices will deter a large portion of parents who work average and below average paying jobs.) This is an exhibit that the top 1/3 of society can enjoy without any pain. The rest of us… get to sacrifice. Or perhaps it is only docile cow-like Canadians choosing to not object to high prices as a society? (Perhaps that is why USA has 50% to 100% cheaper prices on many foods, clothes and big ticket items that are also sold in Canada? Or is it us living in a fantasy that high prices equal best quality so by that token Canadians should pay 900% more than they need to for basic services?)

Anyways if you take out the price factor, the show was good.

Heres some pics to keep all of you happy.

The Edmonton Space Science Center, outside.

The Edmonton Space Science Center, outside.

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Welcome to my Blog.

The goal of this blog is to record my impressions of returning to Canada from being overseas for over a decade, hopefully more positive than negative.

Its good to be back in effect on WordPress. I am going to attempt to be better about blogging at this location.  This basically will be a personal journal/photo posting/ vid linking location this year in relation to living and working now that I have returned to Canada.

Big changes in my life since my last updates on this location. Back 1 year ago I became a dad while living and working in TW. Now I have crossed the ocean back to Canada and brought my family back with me. Currently we are working on rebooting my life and getting my feet back into Canadian society. Not the easiest of tasks, by any account.

I used to use WordPress before I got lazy while working as a textbook editor in Taiwan. I am switching back to here as it is a cleaner interface for me and it is easiest to control the content for me of what I want to see. Future pics from Canada and where ever fate sees fit to guide me will be posted here.

The pics below were taken today while trying out a new use for my boogieboard. It works surprisingly well for pulling my daughter around outside on the snow and ice. She seemed very happy about the whole thing. I am glad I can still use my boogieboard.

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We walked around in a woody area behind the Regency Estates area. There is a small playground there and a big field that has some paths that may be plowed every once in a while. Not a bad deal for being nearby my parents home! Worth a look if you live in the area, probably not worth a look if you are a traveler looking for interesting things to do. I will post some of those on this site later as I begin exploring around the Edmonton/ Alberta/ Western Canadian area.