Modern connections: Updates vs battery charge


At 26% battery I attempted to update four different applications on my iPhone at the same time. By the time I reached 14% I realized the folly of my ways and with an unreasonable amount of panic I canceled two updates in order to see any finish updating before my phone went completely dead.

With anticipation I watched the semi-circle, ends reaching towards each other getting closer, and the longer I watched the more the edges seemed to flutter. As if the two ends were making frantic attempts to connect, hold hands. Meanwhile the battery percentage ticked down 10%, 4%, 2% and finally at 1% the update completed. The circle was full, much to my surprise. I never expect things to work when it’s down to the wire.

I had watched the last few seconds countdown because I wanted to see the light leave my phone’s eyes if it was going to die. Yes, I had totally personified this phone and its struggle to be complete. I also was in a delirium that follows an afternoon nap.

But there remains that thought in the back of my mind as a human that I can be more complete and multifaceted, and holding hands helps. From a survival aspect holding hands doesn’t seem logical. The opposable thumbs that give people so many advantages, climbing and gripping are fully neutralized by hand holding. Walking and running are both more difficult while holding hands.

But it connects us and comforts us, and not just humans, other mammals as well. Look at elephants holding trunksmonkeys gripping eachother’s tails and puppies nuzzling closer into the dogpile to feel that contact.

Social creatures have similar habits, but human social contract dictates a certain distance be observed for acquaintances and friends. The rest comes down to fear of rejection and personal embarrassment. When really, there is no reason not to hold hands. Unless there is a sweaty palm situation.

Some of my younger students reflexively reach out to hold my hand or to lean against me, and every time I am surprised by the maternal instincts that make me instantly want to protect that little person. All from these small, unconscious actions that make me feel close not just in body but also mind. It is an acknowledgement of something tribal, a connection recognized that all parties will try to protect each other.

Some infants spend the majority of their young lives attached to their mother’s back, or in close proximity of people who love and reach out to touch consistently if not constantly. As people grow older and develop independence the need for physical touch is still present, but open affection is no longer socially acceptable as it was with dependent toddlers drooling all over themselves.

We still want hugs. We still want to hold hands, link arms, fist bump, shake hands and grab shoulders. It reduces blood pressure at a micro level, and at the macro level it reassures all of us in our everyday moments of insecurity. It reminds us we aren’t alone, but part of an ever updating circle.

Food in my Hood


I recently found a new Taiwanese private tutor to encourage my neglected Mandarin Chinese studies. My tutor is a 24-year-old graduate student at Wenzao University in Kaohsiung. She is getting her masters in English, and I am her lucky practice student.

Wenzao is known for teaching languages, and for a suspiciously  female-dominated student population. Most of my foreigner male friends date the English student “Wenzao girls.”

Ruhua was a tutor for my friend, and in yet another stroke of luck, she loves food as much as I do. So last week she showed me a few of the famous places in the Yancheng neighborhood.

I often go to the Buddhist lunchbox restaurant with lots of traditional Taiwanese food served completely vegetarian. It isn’t  vegan though, they still have egg options.

We went to a Cantonese-style lunchbox with roast duck and pork over rice. She explained that even though it was comparatively expensive for lunch, 90 NT = $3, she would treat herself because, she groaned, “The skin is so crispy!”

Afterwards she wanted to show me a dessert place around the corner, mochi the glutinous rice Japanese dessert is pronounced more like ‘mo-sure’ in Chinese with another more formal name niangao 年糕.

The fillings she suggested were peanut, taro and red bean-strawberry. I would recommend the taro. Taro is that purple starchy sweet root vegetable so popular in Asian countries, like Taiwan, China and even the Philippines. I still don’t like the sweetened red bean filling. For me beans are more at home in bean dip and enchiladas, but not desserts.


Much to be grateful for


I love clean sheets and clean clothes from the suitcase! Excellent point.

Still Life

gordon belly‘Tis the season to be grateful.  When asked, “What are you most grateful for?” people inevitably say “for family and friends.” Adults are reluctant to admit they are also grateful for certain possessions. It sounds so shallow. But there’s nothing wrong with expanding the scope of our gratitude to include an appreciation for the impersonal.

Winter will be here soon.  Outdoor conditions in this season rotate between dank and icy; sunlight fades a minute or two earlier each day. As temperatures have recently peaked in the mid-thirties, I’m grateful for a furnace that pumps out warmth day and night at my command, and for windows that catch the distant rays of the sun. I’m grateful for a comforter at night, a bathrobe in the morning, and a newspaper to read with my first cup of tea. Along with gratitude for the machinery, comes an appreciation for those that made it…

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