Category Archives: General

State of the Blog and Answer to Critics

I’ve been publishing this blog for a year now, it seems like a good opportunity to engage in a little navel-gazing, a sort of state of the blog, if you will. I haven’t really tried to explicate my reasons for writing this blog beyond the briefest of explanations in the About section of The Salty Egg.

My original motive for the blog was a desire to begin writing books. My research indicated that getting published in today’s market virtually requires an online presence. I now recognize that traditional publishing is probably not the route for me. If I write a book, I will likely follow the indie publishing route. Therefore, this blog is not serving its original purpose.

Also, it is shockingly time consuming to publish one post a week. I’m an inefficient writer. I type about 1.5 words per minute, and am easily distracted by the Internet, TV, two flies humping on the windowsill, etc. I squeeze my writing in-between work and family commitments and it absorbs most of my free time. So, why continue the blog? Simply, I am writing about something I care about, the lifestyle of Asian-based expats. Most my readers are also expats. I feel our stories are being lost. Our home country’s don’t care about us, as we are not an important political force. Our data is not being collected through censuses or other social research methods. Likewise, we are unimportant in our adopted countries, again because we are politically inconsequential. I have a vague hope of filling in some of the blanks, giving voice to at least my own experiences, and hopefully some other’s experiences as well.

Some critics have accused me of glorifying minutiae, one elegantly claimed that I have graphophilia, and what I write amounts to little more than compulsive jottings and random brain farts. [Kudos. I really enjoyed that one]. However, he missed the point. My academic background is social history, I tend to think the mundane aspects of daily life give the deepest insights. I hope that in two or three years the articles, cumulatively, will give a little feel for the expat life.

Since I’ve broached the subject of responses to my writing, I’d like to thank those of you who have taken the time to read my blog and comment. I don’t generally interact too much with commentators. However, I usually take note of what’s being said. Most of the comments are positive and I appreciate that. I also appreciate that the negative comments are generally thoughtful and genuine, an anomaly on the Internet. I haven’t engaged with those posters partly to avoid getting into purposeless online squabbles, and I need to preserve my equanimity to be able to continue writing. However, I will admit that some critics have made valid points that deserve to be addressed.

A pretty common complaint is that I am guilty of overgeneralizing. That is both totally true and totally inane. I’m writing about culture, of course I’m generalizing. The generalizations that are most contentious are not my own. They are the work of various academics I’ve drawn from, Edward T. Hall (cultural linguistics), Umberto Eco (cultural anthropology), and Agnieszka Sorokowska (proxemics). This criticism tends to come from business people and engineers. I guess their training makes them uncomfortable with this type of macro thought. History is the art of generalization. I’m in my academic comfort zone.

A more valid criticism is that I, as a foreigner, white person, outsider, etc., have no right to criticize Asian society. I have some sympathy with this viewpoint. I would note, I don’t really criticize so much as write about my life, family, observations, and daily experiences. My adult life experiences have almost all happened in Asia. I cannot write about my life without writing about Asia—they are inextricably linked. Sorry if that causes discomfort, but I absolutely assert the right to an opinion about my own life, and to express that opinion.

A related criticism is that I, as a Westerner, should not try to change Asia. It is insulting. Again, I have some sympathy with this viewpoint. However, I would first note that my blog does not try to change Asia. I am simply describing aspects of my life here and occasionally giving an opinion about the quirks of my life. The only instance where I proactively sought to change Taiwan is my post The Hot Pot Conundrum Explained. [If I were able, through my meager efforts, to break the constant cycle of hot pot dining I would consider my life not to have been in vain]. All other posts are descriptive, not a call to action. These complaints that I lack the requisite Asianness to comment on Asia come mostly from foreign-born Taiwanese and occasionally Western college students. Taiwanese living in Taiwan seem more interested in hearing an outsider’s perspective. I have no idea what, if anything, is the social significance of this. I just find it interesting.

I also fundamentally disagree with the assumption that it is invalid for society’s outsiders to try to improve their lives. It is the kind of immigrant-hating commentary that is rife around the world. “If you don’t like America, if you will not bend yourself to the mores of white America, then get out.” I have not made significant efforts to improve Taiwanese society for the betterment of expats . (I have my reasons). But, I believe everyone has the right to try to improve their lives. Though I don’t contribute, I am impressed by some of the lobbying being done by foreigners regarding Taiwanese immigration issues. No group in any society should be made to feel they must either accept the status quo or get out.

A smaller, though valid, complaint I get is that my Word Press theme is not very compatible with some mobile devices. I know this and would like to fix it. I’m currently using one of the free themes provided by Word Press. The price is undoubtedly a contributing cause of the wonkiness. Since I am not about to start writing code, the easiest way for me to improve the situation would be to buy a Word Press theme that is compatible across all mobile platforms. This costs money. I recently purchased a new house and am currently redefining broke. I may begin exploring ways to monetize the blog with the goal of improving it and making it self-sustaining. If I do that, I’ll try to only use unobtrusive methods that don’t make visiting The Salty Egg an exercise in annoying ecommerce.

If I didn’t directly address your particular complaint I apologize. I probably won’t do another one of these state of the blog addresses for at least another year. In the meantime, I hope you will continue to read my blog, comment on my posts, and share them if you like them.

Thank you for reading The Salty Egg.

Profound Musings

This week I haven’t got a post. Life got in the way. However, I do have this decidedly off topic piece I prepared to celebrate passing my first half-century. It was my birthday this weekend. Here’s what I’ve learned from 50 years of living. I hope you enjoy it.

50 Years of Wisdom with Darren

1. Never fall in love with a stripper. If you fall in love with a stripper, don’t buy her new boobs. If you buy her new boobs, make sure you have touching privileges.

2. Scotch from China is not Scotch.

3. Never answer when your wife asks, “How does my _______ look in these ______ ?”

4. Always buy a couch that’s long enough to sleep on.

5. Karaoke is never a good idea. If you can’t avoid it, then own it. Sing loud, proud and off key.

6. That hot Thai chick with the Adam’s apple is a dude.

7. Go to 2nd base. She’s likely the most beautiful woman you’ll ever get, but avoid 3rd base – it’s frightful.

8. Middle aged white men can’t twerk.

9. Writing your name in the snow looks better after taking your vitamins.

10. 18-24 year old Asian girls really are better.

11. Don’t play sports – there’s no upside.

12. Hone a vacant disposition. It’ll serve you well in all your endeavors.

13. Spare no sympathy for vegetarians. It’s their own damn fault.

14. Don’t piss into the wind. (Same advice goes for puking).

15. Your ultra-healthy friend is just as likely to die as you, probably over their post-workout non-fat, no foam, chai soy latte. That’s no way to go.

16. Any penis worth its salt deserves a cool nickname.

17. If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing the wrong thing.

18. Perfectionism is an inability to prioritize.

19. Bacon is good on everything.

20. Alcohol is a temporary solution only if you stop drinking.

21. Marry a woman who makes less money than you. There’s less pressure to compensate in the bedroom.

22. My wife did not settle. She compromised. It’s different.

23. I’ve never met a happy couple where the husband is smarter than the wife.

24. Edible panties are best eaten straight out of the package.

25. Telling your love that her eyes are deep and piercing like two piss-holes in the snow (high-romance in Canada) does not translate well into Chinese.

26. When you get married don’t let your wife throw away all her g-strings. (She’ll want to).

27. Don’t stop your friend if he is about to unwittingly pee on an electric fence. (High-quality free entertainment is hard to find). Don’t stand behind him.

28. The problem with being a conservative is that you’re always on the wrong side of history. Time never flows backwards.

29. Single ply toilet paper builds character.

30. Salad is not food. It’s what food eats.

31. Men, don’t be embarrassed about your cleavage.

32. Men have difficulty expressing their emotions in words. Say it with interpretive dance. Chicks love that.

33. I once dated a Vogue model. There’s no deeper meaning to this entry. I just want everyone to know.

34. Skirts are best for car sex. Bing, bang, boom, and you’re back at the mall.

35. The problem with women is they always think you have potential. Potential for what?!?

36. If you find yourself shopping for vegetarian cookbooks as part of a grand scheme to get into some hottie’s pants, just walk away. It’s not worth it.

37. It takes a lot of time to do nothing.

38. Listen to no sense; speak no sense; anything less would be wasting the privilege of being old.

39. Strive to be just slightly above average in all that you do. Under-performing brings stress. Over-performing brings more [unpaid and under-appreciated] responsibilities, work, and stress. Just slightly better than average – that’s your sweet spot.

40. Women like it sweet; men like it dirty; and never the twain shall meet.

41. Don’t try to sit on a squat toilet.

42. Date pessimists – they don’t expect much.

43. Never give the object of your affection a romantic gift basket of deodorant. It seems no different than soap, bath oil, and perfume – yet it is (apparently).

44. When flying, always ask the head stewardess where and when that plane’s chapter of The Mile High Club is meeting, because you just never know.

45. Trans fats are the best fats.

46. The squeaky wheel is annoying.

47. If I could travel back to 1978, I’d kiss Wendy Hayes right on the playground. If she beat the crap out of me – so be it.

48. Smooth is good; honest is better.

49. Kissing was invented to prevent guys from saying something stupid right when they have the most to lose.

50. When you’re married, hotel sex is the closest thing you can get to the excitement of a new partner – doing it on a different bed, in front of a strange chair, while looking deeply into a mirror you’ve never seen before.

51. Peeing in the woods – macho good times. Pooping in the woods – just plain disgusting.

52. A great head of hair can hide most other social failings. Always use conditioner (f*ck Pert+, a separate conditioner – condition like a millionaire).

53. Never argue with a women, instead patiently explain to her why you’re right. That’s chivalry.

54. At formal functions, business meetings, PTA gatherings, job interviews, etc. follow church rules (i.e. put your booze in a thermos).

55. “That’s what she said,” is not witty repartee when talking to the female judge hearing your case.

56. Despite what your mother says, all the cool kids do not wear bedazzled slacks to high school.

57. When ending a long term relationship always put a puppy with heart eyes emoji at the end of the text. That’s class!

58. Only sleep with people crazier than you. I’m not sure this is really good advice, but it always seems to work out that way, so you may as well embrace it and try to enjoy the ride.

59. If everything seems to be going well at work, you’re out of the loop.

60. Should you find yourself at a hair waxing salon, in a curious/adventurous/metrosexual mood – do not try the “Between the Cheeks” special.

61. If you do, have Johnny Cash’s cd queued up. The lyrics to Burning Ring of Fire will never be more personally meaningful.

62. A full Brazilian will not make your penis look larger.

63. Paradoxically, Brazilian barbecue makes it look like you have more meat.

64. Your parent’s stupidity is inversely proportional to your maturity.

65. Look upon the world with wry humor in your heart and a smirk on your face, for then the world will never disappoint you.

66. Yogi Bear 3D is the movie of our generation.

67. The advantage to dating young women (besides the obvious) is they can’t tell the difference between intriguing and fucked up.

68. Black and white is for the young, when you get older you find only hard and harder decisions.

69. Skidmark is not as cool a nickname as it sounds.

70. If life hands you lemons, buy salt and tequila.

71. Even people who are total shits may have an underlying good; even a turd can contain a kernel of corn.

72. The microbial flora in your intestines has more to do with happiness than your bank account.

73. A baculum might be nice.

74. When one has a penis such as mine, one does not do dishes.

75. When you reach 50 you can no longer distinguish between the hip trends and the ones that are just stupid. Frankly, it’s a relief.

76. Young children are an unending source of joy and wonder for fifteen minutes.

77. You realize how insignificant you are when you pee in the ocean.

78. You can’t ruin a friendship with sex, that’s like trying to ruin ice cream with chocolate syrup and sprinkles.

79. Moody self-obsession is only attractive in men who can play guitar.

80. You can lead your mother to the dough, but you can’t make her pinch perogies.

81. Never throw away (delete for you young whipper snappers) porn.

82. I haven’t got a problem with God, it’s his fans that annoy me.

83. Men don’t like taking instructions unless it involves really complex lingerie.

84. If you forget your wife’s birthday – don’t panic. You can make a romantic handcrafted gift from easily available household items. With just a pair of her old panties and scissors you can create a lovely pair of crotchless panties.

85. Whatever happens in Bangkok doesn’t count.

86. The best way out is by going through.

87. Faster horses; younger women; older whisky; and more money. That’s what it’s all about.

88. I don’t care what you’re excuse is – grandma panties are never okay.

89. At least once in your life you need to rock a unitard.

90. Believe or don’t believe; you can only follow the path your senses reveal to you.

91. If a woman is dressed in such a way as to expose half her boobs and I look – I’m the pervert. If I expose myself and a woman looks – I’m the pervert.

92. Marriage brings many positive changes if you keep an open mind. For example, when we got married my wife insisted that we buy a second towel. I thought she was crazy. Now I like it – very opulent. It’s nicer than using the bath mat.

93. Never regret the stupid things you’ve done; regret the stupid things you could have done.

94. Rum is a natural laxative. Do with that what you may.

95. It’s only kinky the first time.

96. Never make snow angels in a dog park.

97. You get all the greens you need from grass fed beef.

98. Everything in life truly worth doing can be done in the shower.

99. Never take two steps when one will do. If that leaves surplus free time, that’s why God invented sofas.

100. Never miss the chance to do something nice for your fellow man in a really dickish way. Doing good pleases the soul. Being a dick thrills the id.

101. All I know is there’s more than I know.