Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving in Taroko

We had a much-needed break from work for the Thanksgiving holiday, so headed up to Taroko National Park on the east coast of Taiwan for some hiking and biking.  It was so wonderful- fun people, good scenery, and lots of fresh air and laughter. 

 This is Hualien, the coastal town we stopped in on our way to Taroko.  The mountain scenery was fantastic.

On the way to a trail in Taroko National Park, we climbed down into the river bed to look around.

The suspension bridge was not scary at all...until the middle where the rails were only about waist-high.

There were lots of signs like this one, so we did as we were told.
After two days in Taroko, we caught a train up to Taipei along the coast.  There, we broke off from the group in search of a hot spring resort.  We found one in Yangmingshan (outside of Taipei), and spent the night.  In the morning we stopped by Longshan Temple before we caught the high speed train home to Kaohsiung.
 I will try to upload some video clips from inside the temple.  Hope everyone's Thanksgiving was just as fun and relaxing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Royal Tour

I'm trying to do a better job of taking pictures of everything here- our neighborhood, trips we take, and just generally all the great and funny things we see on a daily basis.  But, I am loathe to be that annoying foreigner with a camera.  So, I've taken only a few, and mostly surreptitiously.  Alas!  In my own apartment, I can take as many pictures as I like!  Plus, I owe my Auntie Betty pictures of our apartment.  Here they are:

We have, of course, a thrilling living room, complete with a 10,000lb table.  I am not kidding, that coffee table is a monster.

A sweet teeny kitchen that leads out to our balcony,

Two burner stove, no oven,

Oh, look, I made some noodles with miso, garlic, and tofu.

Bedroom with a REAL bed (not common here, it seems)

A big closet,

 The bike room,

Miniature musical washing machine,

And lastly, our awesome retractable drying rack. Edit: Sorry for the gross lighting conditions.  It was evening, after Ms. Yuki and her cleaning crew left.  If I waited for the weekend and daylight, the place would be trashed again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Butter Lion Birthday

I had a superfun birthday despite working in a country where Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day is not a holiday.  I got mega awesome gifts, had a fantastic dinner, and got an obscene number of "happy birthdays" on facebook.

Birthday awesomeness began when I returned to my office to find a sweet card and Butter Lion gifts on my desk.  My love for Butter Lion knows no bounds.  Doraemon is fairly awesome, too.  Banana Chippy is totally cute, but Butter Lion has stolen my heart forever.  I dare anyone to go to the Butter Lion link and not fall hopelessly in love.

So, awesome Butter Lion trinketry, only to be followed up by complete surprise- a Taiwanese Junior High messenger bag!  All the local teens have these bags, emblazoned with the name of their school.  It's waterproof and sturdy and perfect for riding to and from work.  In response to my dad's annual question, 28 feels pretty great.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In our Chinese class, we recently learned to say, "There are a lot of delicious foods in Taiwan."  Though Geneva disagrees, we've tried a lot of tasty foods and fruits here and I wanted to share them with you. 

To pronounce the above phrase, I'll provide a phonetic pronunciation (not be confused with pinyin!):
"Taiwan yo hen dwo how chi de dong chi"

We have eaten tons of pineapple here, especially a pale, less acidic variety called milk pineapple. It's awesome. Mangoes are out of season right now (bummer) but my favorite two new fruit discoveries so far have been the custard apple (top) and the dragon fruit (bottom). 

(thanks, sir, for the custard apple picture)

The custard apple is a truly bizarre fruit that reminds me less of an apple, but a little bit of a banana and a pear.  It's starchy, has big black seeds, and you scoop out the pulp and spit out the seeds.  It's AWESOME.   The dragon fruit reminds me a little bit of a kiwi, is not fuzzy, and is really refreshing when eaten cold.  The flavor is somewhat mild, but hello, isn't it gorgeous?

In addition to many delicious foods in Taiwan, there are many mysterious items that are oddly labeled in the stores that use English labels.  I really dig shopping at a store called Wellcome, specifically for that purpose (because I can read the shelf labels and actually KNOW what I am buying).  Behold, this strange packaged item:

And what is it, you might ask?  Well, let's look at the shelf label.

That settles that, I suppose.  Seriously, I have no idea what they meant, but it made me well up with tears of inappropriate laughter.  Taiwanderful. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Taipei for Beginners (Taipei 101)

We have an extended break this weekend for the moon festival and besides being beyond excited to have a few days off of work (work, we love you, but are EXHAUSTED), it was nice to have some extra time to see more of Taiwan.  After debating between Kenting and Taipei, we decided to hop the high-speed rail to Taiwan's capital city.  For about $35US one way, we grabbed two tickets at the Zuoying station and arrived in Taipei 90 minutes later.  We filmed a short video of ourselves on the train,  but spoke too quietly for our voices to get picked up by the mic.  Oops.  Here is a picture of E waiting for the HSR and contemplating a tea egg (the station in Kaohsiung is brand new sparkly-nice).

In Taipei, after E admired a new hairstyle, we  made it our mission to visit Taipei 101 (currently the tallest building in the world).  We walked for hours, keeping our sights set on 101- with breaks, of course, for bike shops, flower markets, lattes, etc.  As we finally got close, we were in awe of this cool building, and even more impressed with the way it was lit up at night.  We hopped a free shuttle, grabbed a teeny hotel room near city hall, and collapsed, happy and exhausted... only to be woken up at 1:30 by an earthquake!  It seems Taiwan is working double-time to give us new experiences, but we are thankful to be here together and safe.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feeling hot, hot, hot (well, humid is more accurate)

It has been incredibly hot practically every day since we arrived in Taiwan almost a month ago. I remember when our director showed showed us to our apartment (pics coming soon, I promise), and we stood in it, literally dripping in sweat in a matter of moments. Nothing has changed, temperature-wise, but really, it's the humidity that makes it so remarkable anyway. The Central Weather Bureau is where we get the forecast, but I'm not sure why we check it, as it doesn't seem to change from day to day.

Tonight, on my way back from the awesome grocery store (awesome because the shelf labels are in English!) in our neighborhood, I treated myself to a cold beverage I have been meaning to try: ProSweat. I guess it is like Gatorade, judging from that name, but it was cold and refreshing.  And then, I sweated my way home like a pro, back to sweet air-conditioned comfort.  Good night, moon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lab Work: Outlines, Paper Format, and Bibliography

We are in the computer lab to work on formatting your paper properly.

If you haven't already written an outline (handwritten, on the sheet I gave you, with MAIN IDEAS IN COMPLETE SENTENCES), you should do that first.

If you already have an outline, you are ready to start typing. The first thing to ask yourself is,
  • "how will I save this and continue to work on it at home?" and
  • "will the program/file types be compatible with my home computer?"

The second thing to be aware of is that your paper should follow standard Turabian format, meaning:
  • 1'' margins,
  • double-spaced
  • footnote citations
  • you DON'T need a title page- to save paper, just use the normal assignment heading and then center your research question on the 1st page.
  • page numbers in the upper right hand corner
  • a bibliography on a separate page
  • also: you DON'T need a table of contents
There is a good (but long!) sample Turabian research paper in the link at the right.

Finally, for the bibliography, there are many free citation generators out there, but my favorite is through Calvin College, called Knight Cite. Give it a try, or MS Word 2007 has a nice built-in citation generator.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"The John Brown Freedom Center" (???)

As an IB school, we at Sturgis try to promote student inquiry. This means that students are encouraged to be curious about different topics and subjects that interest them.

Today, Friday, April17th, we are in the computer lab to work on an inquiry-based project relating to John Brown.

Click here so we can go through the directions together.

After we (as a group) are done with the slide show, click here for the assignment and links.

The worksheet is in google docs and attached on my website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, was a massive bestselling book of the antebellum era that framed slavery as a moral struggle. As a a member of a prominent family of reformers (mom worked for temperance, Dad was a minister) Ms. Stowe's life and work fits in well with our study of the Second Great Awakening, reform movements, and abolition. As much as it was praised for its abolitionist message, Uncle Tom's Cabin has also been criticized.

Your task is to do some research on the internet about why Uncle Tom's Cabin has been criticized. Then, you will post a comment summarizing some of the criticism you found and assessing the validity of that criticism. Essentially, you will be responding to the criticism and sharing your informed opinion on the book (but without actually reading the book itself). If that seems too difficult, write a post about what you learned about the book through your research. Post should be 3-5 sentences, identify yourself by first name and last initial.

Remember our standards for credible websites; skip sites that lack an educated author, inline (within the sentence) citations, etc.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Social Reform Movements of the Early 19th Century

We are in the lab today work on researching social reform movements. Our PURPOSE is twofold; to practice research skills and to learn about the reform movements.

We will start with research.

Click here to follow along with the slideshow and directions. Please don't get ahead of the group.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Should Andrew Jackson be on the $20 bill?

This project essentially has 3 parts:
  1. research
  2. annotated bibliography in Turabian format
  3. speech
Based on the perspective you were assigned, you will explore a variety of resources that reflect different perspectives on Andrew Jackson's accomplishments as President. As you read the sources, ask yourself, "From my assigned perspective, is Andrew Jackson a hero worthy of honoring, or are his actions a shameful aspect of American history?"

Click here to find links to a variety of resources from each perspective. There are websites, articles, primary source documents, and videos there.

After you explore some of the information that is available to you, log in to your google docs and create a document (title like this: Jones Megan Annotated Bibliography) and create an annotated bibliography entry for 2-3 of the resources.

Confused about what an annotated bibliography IS? Don't be! It's explained on the handout you received and here.
Also: check out the comments below as well- a few students posted sample annotated bibliography entries for our textbook.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

HW: The "Third World" Discussion

In class, we have been discussing what separates the United States and other "first world" countries from developing countries, sometimes called "third world" countries.

For HW, you will post a comment to this entry with a reflection on this topic. In your post: give examples of "first," "second" or "third" world countries (by doing an internet search). Read the comments made by your classmates and respond to what they are saying. A place to start the comments might be: if "third world" is an offensive name, is there a better alternative? Also,here is a picture of school in a "third world" country. How is it different or similar to school in the US? You can respond to anyone's comments, whether that person is in your class period or not. Be considerate and respectful; strive to make an interesting point!

Remember, comments policy: use first name and last initial only.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LAB WORK: Working with Google Docs

Today we will be using a google product called google docs to save, store, and share our work.

All you need to start a google docs account is an email address: any email address (it need not be gmail).

If you do not have a google docs account, go here to create one.

After that, you will start a new document to work on today's assignment (link below). To get started, simply start a new document and rename it with your FirstLast and Assignment title (e.g. JamesJohnsonObamaFacts). Share it with me as a collaborator via my email address.

In this document, you will need to cite, or give credit, to your sources of information according to Turabian format, so go to Turabian citation guide and check out how to do footnotes (designated "N" on that guide) for the type of source (website, book, journal article, etc.) you used. Remember what we have discussed about legitimate internet sources: use museum, university, or government websites, not personal webpages or blogs).

Here is a basic sample of how Turabian style footnotes look for a website:
Author/Editor. "Title." Link. (accessed on date).

Here is the link to our lab assignment for today that explains more in detail what you will be doing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day HW

As you know, today is a historic day: the inauguration of our country's 44th President. In class, we analyzed past inaugural speeches for themes and made predictions about Obama's inaugural address. For HW, your task is to see if your predictions were accurate and RESPOND to his speech.

First, locate the inaugural address on video or audio. A good place to start is the official inaugural website
but you may have some luck on youtube or a basic google search. On, they also posted the video earlier in the day.

ASSIGNMENT: After you've watched the inaugural address, post your reaction to it as a comment to this post. Be sure that I can tell who are (use first name and last initial to identify yourself) in your post. Your reaction should center around whether President Obama's speech was similar or different to what you expected and what you liked or disliked about it. Also, identify one or two themes present in the speech. Post should be 3-5 sentences.

(photo credit: vanity fair magazine)