Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ABC Wednesday: K is for Kenosha Pass

I (Grace) had a chance to spend a weekend in Denver, Colorado ten days ago. The autumn colors just started around that time. My friend took me to Kenosha Pass which is southwest to Denver. It is about 10,000 ft in elevation. As you can see from the picture above, the day started with a beautiful blue sky and a few clouds.

Notice that the clouds began to gather, and started to rain after we finished our sandwiches. The next day, the temperature dropped from low seventies to low thirties with about 6 inches of snow!

Here is a closer look of the aspen trees with white barks. The leaves of the aspen trees have just turned yellow against some evergreen conifers in the background.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Today's Flowers #59: What is it?

We saw this lovely plant during our walk in the "Flying Cow Ranch". It is a shrub/tree almost 2-meter high. We have no idea what it is.

We tried to ask the little boy fairy by the tree, but he just laughed at us.

She was nicer and tried to whisper the name to us, but we could not hear her little voice.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Camera-Critters #77: Danaus

Common Tiger, Striped Tiger
Danaus genutia

Plain Tiger, African Monarch
Danaus chrysippus

This is our fourth posting of butterflies of "Flying Cow Ranch". These two very closely resemble the American Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). They are so colorful, not common and plain at all. Can you tell the difference between them? One has veins on the wings marked with broad black bands.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 63: Sunset over Taipei Harbor

I visited the West side of the Northern Coast of Taiwan last weekend. We normally drive by on the highway and never really stop over this part of the coast. Along this area, the coast is less ragged with long stretch of sandy and rocky beach. I waited on the beach for the sunset and in time to catch a glimpse of an ocean-going container coming in slowly to the container port of Taipei Harbor.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

ABC Wednesday: J is for Jagged Coast

The east coast of Northern Taiwan is very rugged but also very beautiful. Many areas, the cliff comes almost directly into the ocean with only enough room for a highway. It is now the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area. There are many small working fishing ports dotted along the coast. We can often see fishing boats unload their today's catches by the harbor. The restaurants at the fishing ports serve some of the freshest seafoods. The coast is connected by several highways to Taipei which is only about one hour drive away.

Along the coast we can see many different geological rock formations. The waves are from Pacific Ocean and can be very big and severe especially when a front is coming in from the Northeast.

But it also has its quiet moment.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Today's Flowers #58: Squash Flower

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Camera-Critters #76: Tirumala septentrionis & Ideopsis similis

Dark Blue Tiger
Tirumala septentrionis

Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger
Ideopsis similis

This is our third posting of butterflies of "Flying-Cow Ranch" for Camera-Critters. Can you tell the difference between these two butterflies?

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 62: Lois' House

Lois is a very nice lady living just across the street of our house on Cape Cod. One late afternoon this summer, I noticed the amazing light from the sunset shone on her house. I went out and took this picture.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ABC Wednesday: I is for Invaluable Friendship

This Invaluable Friendship is referred to the friendship between "The Republic of China (ROC)" and "The United States". We know what the US is but for the ROC, it is much more complicated. In 1911, a revolution overthrew "Ching", the last dynasty in China and ended the 5000 years of dynastic rule of China. A new republic was formed, The Republic of China. ROC was an ally with the US during the World War II and a signatory for the founding of the United Nation. Immediately after the end of WWII, a civil war between Communists supported by Russia and Nationalists supported by the US erupted which led to the defeat of the Nationalist government in the mainland China. The Chinese communists took over the power in China and formed "The People's Republic of China (PRC)". The nationalist government of ROC retreated to Taiwan.

The Korean War and Vietnam War following suit and ROC maintained as a strong ally during the cold war with the US. The formal relationship ended finally with Henry Kissinger's secret mission to China for President Nixon and the recognition of PRC as the legitimate government of China by the US. ROC withdrew from the United Nation in 1971 and its formal diplomatic relationship with the US ended in 1978. The US relationship with ROC, now also more popularly known as Taiwan, has been governed by the "Taiwan Relation Act".

Both our parents followed the nationalist government from mainland China to Taiwan. We all grew up in Taiwan under the shadow of Cold War and the threat from PRC. The US was a major support to Taiwan throughout that period of difficult time. We went to the US for our graduate studies and eventually became US citizens and now we have been back to Taiwan again. Our experience is a small cosmos of the US-ROC relationship.

The building we shown here was the former residence of the US ambassadors for Taiwan. Six US ambassadors lived here. It is the last remaining free standing house in this part of central Taipei. I have to Photoshop the first picture a bit to remove the high-rise buildings surrounding it.

The building ran into disuse and deteriorated after the withdrew of US ambassador from Taiwan. Eventually the TSMC Education and Culture Foundation sponsored a restoration of the building. Many of you may see TSMC in your mutual fund portfolio. The founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) was born in mainland China, educated in Harvard and MIT. He attained his highest position as global VP for Texas Instrument in the US. He came back to Taiwan to head the Industrial Technology Research Institute and founded the TSMC, now the world largest semiconductor manufacturer. He is another product of US-ROC friendship.

The building is now operated by Taiwan Film and Culture Society and is know as SPOT-Taipei film House. It consists of a cinema, a book store, a coffee shop, an exhibition gallery, a wine lounge and a multi-media conference room.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Today's Flowers #57: Flowers of Begonia Garden

These two images are from the "Begonia" garden that we visited two weekends ago. These are Angel's Trumpets (Brugmansia), 蔓陀羅. Don't be fooled by the pretty flowers, they are highly poisonous.

This lovely flower was soaked in an afternoon torrential rain. It looks like Bird of Paradise, but apparently it is Canna Lily.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Camera-Critters #75: Swinhoe's Chocolate Tiger (Parantica swinhoei)

This is the second posting of butterflies of "Flying-Cow Ranch". On the two sides of the walk leading to the butterfly greenhouse, they are planted en mass of these white flowers. So many butterflies dotted on the plants. At first glance, they all looked alike. In reality, they are many different species.

This one called Swinhoe's Chocolate Tiger (Parantica swinhoei) 小青斑蝶. Apparently, it is a unique species of Taiwan. If you look for it in Google or Wikipedia, you will not be able to find much information.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 61: Flying-Cow Ranch

Grace wanted to take me to take some photographs of butterflies. From the internet, I found this place called "Flying-Cow Ranch". The "Flying" actually refers to the butterfly walk and greenhouse in the ranch. It took us two-hour drive to get there. It was a very hot sunny day.

What really surprised us was the landscape of the place. It is located in a kind of valley. The landscape does not look like what we have ever seen in Taiwan.

It has a distinct European flavor, almost looks like an Alpine meadow of Swiss Mountain.

We have a lot of rice field in Taiwan, but rarely any grazing field for cow or sheep. This image almost looks like it is from Africa.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ABC Wednesday: H is for House & Garden

"House & Garden" is the magazine that we often read when we were in the US and when we have a full size garden to take care of. We do not have a garden in Taiwan now, and we also rarely see garden filled with different types of flowers in Taiwan. The weekend before, after we made our visit to "Flying-cow Ranch", Grace persuaded me to drive to this coffee shop in the middle of a mountain range. The garden of this coffee shop has been featured in several TV shows.

The owner bought this piece of land several years ago then went ahead to create a marvelous garden around several bungalows. She calls the place "Begonia" (山芙蓉). The cooler air in the mountain allows her to plant many different types of flowers. We saw many that we used to plant in our own garden in the US and UK.

In the meantime, we also appreciate how much work she has put in to create this garden. Here is a photo of a begonia that the garden is named after.

It was very hot in the morning when we visited the "Flying-Cow Ranch". It was pouring when we arrived at "Begonia". However, It added certain mood to the place that we would not otherwise feel if it was a hot sunny day.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Photographic Riddle

My friend just bought the New Nikon 35mm, 1.8 lens for his relatively new Nikon D90. Since now he apparently grows up to a more advanced photographer. I put this riddle for him to solve:

400; 125; 8
200; 500; 2
400; 250; 5.6

What are these three sets of number have in common? Too easy right!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Camera-Critters #74 & Today's Flower #56

The name of these beautiful big white butterflies is called Paper Kite or Rice Paper Butterfly (Idea leuconoe clara) and the multicolor flower is called Spanish Flag (Latana camara).

Last weekend, we saw these butterflies with the colorful Spanish Flag during our visit to Flying Cow Ranch, which is about two hours drive south of Taipei. The "Flying" in the name of the farm is not referred to the cow but to the various kind of butterflies around its butterfly walk and greenhouse.

The butterfly is about 7 cm in size and moves elegantly. More importantly, it moves slowly, which makes the photographing process much easier.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Skywatch Friday No. 60: Blue Sky over San Francisco

As I showed in our last blog of ABC Wednesday, we were traveling back from the US to Taiwan separately through San Francisco. I arrived at the city the day when Grace was ready to leave. Both of us took pictures of the city and all of our pictures showed the perfect California blue sky.

This picture was taken near the Fisherman Wharf.

From the Northeast, it is always amazing to see the palm trees against the perfect Mediterranean blue sky.

The last two pictures are from Grace. She took an organized photo tour throughout the city, which was more sightseeing than photography than she would like. The Saints Peter and Paul Church was where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio took their wedding photographs on the steps of this church, but they could not get married at this church for Joe was still considered married to his civilly divorced wife.

The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest (now 105th in the world) and most recognizable skyscraper in San Francisco. All of our pictures were taken from a moving car. Grace's photos were actually taken through the window glass of a tour bus, this is what we called drive-by-shooting.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

ABC Wednesday: G is for Golden Gate Bridge

In early August, Grace and I were traveling back from the US to Taiwan, but separately. Both of us passed through San Francisco. She arrived in the city earlier than me. The weather was as usual California weather, beautiful clear sky.

She went on for a photographic tour of the city and took these postcard perfect pictures of Golden Gate Bridge.

Here is an unusual view of the bridge that we do not usually see. There was a helicopter turning around under the bridge.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.


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