15 October 2007

Disorganised in an organised fashion

CollageThe original version of Murphy's Law states,
If there's more than one possible outcome of a job or task, and one of those outcomes will result in disaster or an undesirable consequence, then somebody will do it that way.
To put it simply,
If anything can go wrong, it will.
Therefore, I believe that the more organised you strive to be or to others you seem, the less likely you can keep every ongoing task shipshape and Bristol fashion.

I'm going to lecture on Japanese music tomorrow, on Mongolian and Tibetan a week tomorrow and on Indian a fortnight tomorrow. I thought I could manage to partition into three sections the temporary memory device in my head reserved for the World Music course and each of them can store respective materials for each of the ensuing three lectures. However, I failed.

No only are music tracks from different areas saved in the wrong section but also passages from different tracks are spliced or fused. A vivid image in my head all the time is a kubuki stage with a group of Tibetan monks on the right side chanting
to the sitar and tabla accompaniment on the left.

I've promised my student that in addition to 'traditional' and 'classical' stuff from each country or area, at the end of each lecture we shall listen to something more 'conemporary' and 'crossover', such as when shamisen meets John Zorn or some latest Bollywood numbers. Therefore, I don't see any problem in presenting them such a collage on the kabuki stage. Nevertheless, this should not happen before I show them the indigenous music from those different places.

In my head audio examples are all mixed up; in reality they are burnt onto different CDs accordingly, and lecture slides and other materials are also stored in correct file folders in my MacBook Pro. Although I'm now a bit disorganised in an organised fashion, since I've prepared the presentation pack, I may be able to play by ear in class, just like those jazzmen who can flesh out a tune with a fake book or lead sheet. We should not ask a jazzman to be too organised, shouldn't we?

13 October 2007

Repackaging M&S in Taiwan


A Chinese saying goes, 'A foreign monk chants better (外來的和尚會唸經 wailai de heshang hui nianjing).' Another one says, 'The moon looks fuller in other countries (外國的月亮比較圓 waiguo de yueliang bijiao yuan).' Sometimes people do believe that things from a distant land are of higher quality than domestically made products. However, whether imported goods are better or not, they may need repackaging or image-modifying to fulfil native consumers' expectation one way or another.

The established British retailer Marks & Spencer launched its first outlet in Kaohsiung in May and then another two in Taipei in September. Although one of the Taipei outlets is just two blocks away from our flat, we didn't visit it until today. Having worked unflaggingly to collect audiovisual materials and prepare the 'World Music' lecture pack for quite a while, I managed to spare one Saturday afternoon to check it out with Fanne.

I regard M&S in the UK as a high-street-version TESCO, but it has a different image in Taiwan: an upmarket fashion outlet which also sells tea, biscuits and wine but no fresh food such as veggies and meat. While M&S in the UK only provides Britons with free plastic carrier bags both for clothes and for fresh food, M&S in Taiwan offers us fancy paper bags at no extra cost for whatever we purchase. They even fold every clothing item neatly and wrap it individually before putting it in the bag.

I doubt what Taiwanese customers would think if M&S were positioned just as a supermarket which sells expensive imported stuff which could only be taken away in plastic bags.

Truly amazed by their upgraded packaging in Taiwan, we decided to take a picture to show our friends in the UK how M&S is doing here.

01 October 2007

Winter is approaching, but not in Taipei

Today is the first day of October. We have just passed the autumnal equinox a week ago and people in some countries are about to put their clocks backward one hour. Winter is approaching.

While according to the BBC website, the forecast maximum temperature in Stirling today is 16°C, the temperature now in Taipei is 31°C. As a cold weather person who wears only a polo shirt most of the time in Winter and take cold showers all year round in Scotland, I would call it 'perfect bliss' if I could return to Stirling immediately.

It is reported that high water temperature causes coral bleaching and subsequent death. Although I don't think high temperature would lead me to mortality, it is surely damaging my brain. I wonder how ancient Egyptians developed their civilisation in the desert.