Remade in Taiwan

So, a few days into my China trip my laptop died — motherboard fried. You see, my machine prefers to crap out when I am half a globe away from my local tech support, having most recently decided to spin its hard disk platters into the drive armature when I was in Egypt in October. Yeah, I needed that. What’s worse this time is that I had only recently achieved the goal of getting rid of individual power cords for my camera, iPod, and phone, instead charging them all via USB through the laptop. You see where I am going with this, no doubt. With a dead machine, nothing would charge. Single point of failure. Nice design, John. My technology world came crashing down in a single heap of powerless gadgets. And it was a weekend with little hope of tech support in China. How did I manage? My trusty moleskine of course! Eventually on the last day before coming home, some colleagues of mine in Taipei were able to repair my machine with one of only four motherboards for my laptop model on the island. Nicely solved!

A couple of assorted things before this China travelogue comes to an end.

  • Cathay Pacific is everything that United as an airline is not. I could get used to that level of service. They even titillate you with onboard e-mail access, but it turns out the e-mail is queued locally on a server and sent out in batches. Not exactly Lufthansa-style in-flight access, but hey, they did treat me like royalty.
  • Taipei 101, the current world’s tallest building, has a pressurized express elevator that moves you faster than your inner ear cares to admit. It also has a massive vibration damper tuned to the frequency of the building itself. It is open to public inspection and looks like something straight out of a sci-fi film. Bow down to the spherical power core!
  • I never did get sick. My family continued to suffer, though, as a bout of pink eye and double ear infections added themselves to the compendium of maladies that afflicted the already-miserable.
  • I ate a caffeinated egg and gelatinous coffee. Not sure which was worse.

Finally, some more polite signage from the Forbidden City. Really, no problem at all.


And then this:

Fine, but everyone knows there’s no such thing as a five-star crapper. Simply ridiculous. The scale just doesn’t go that high.