nervous laughter

Play with this, mouse.
P-Day. Presentation day in Taiwan. Right now it’s early-morning and Wayne and I are doing some last-minute tweaks to our material. Not oh-crap last-minute changes, just aesthetic changes and some acclimation exercises. Our timeslot in this day-long conference is at the very end, which can be good because you’re the taste left in the audience’s mouth as they walk away; and can be bad because attention spans begin to wane near the end of the day and the fidgeting begins to set in. One other plus, we have time to work on the material, do one last rehearsal before showtime, and take in the other presenters as a gauge of our “competition.”

There must be 500 people in here, maybe one day I’ll be presenting to these masses – but our audience today is a mere subset, less than 200 of the total gathered here for the conference. I just did my first speaking gig, a 5min introduction of the day’s discussions and presenters – and it felt good to be in up front. The cute girl who was here last year is here again, and she must remember my stares because she’s looking over at me and chatting to her friend. I see a lot of familiar faces, actually. There’s the one guy who asks all the detailed questions, I’ll avoid contact with him; there’s that one dude who’s always asking impossibly technical questions in what I deem as some vain attempt to appear intelligent, gotta avoid him in the halls. Man, almost presentation time… in fact, I think the next paragraph will be post-presentation; wish me luck.

Our presentation went great. We were relaxed; we got questions; we had note-takers; we got laughs. It’s always hard presenting to non-English-speaking audiences – but I think we did a great job. Overall the day’s events went down just like I’d wanted them to. Now Wednesday and Thursday will be spent doing the Q&A thing for various customers. Y’know, we sit up front in a panel fashion – and they ask whatever’s on their mind. It can make for some interesting discussion, and some outstanding pulled-from-your-ass monologues. Full of assurances like “… we’ve invested many resources to ensure success,” and “… we are committed to product XZY…” But today was good – I had a good time, and so far this trip is a big success – as far as the “work” part goes.

Sometimes I like to sit in this bar and try to imagine what brought everyone here. In a hotel bar in bar in a business city like Taiwan everyone’s here for a reason. Through a haze of smoke and over silver bowls of mixed nuts, deals are struck and partnerships are formed. My role here is less exciting, I’m just sitting in the back working on my presentation for tomorrow. It’s all bar-atmosphere dark in here, so I probably look like some pale ghost in the corner, awash in the glow of my monitor. Stupid computer… stubborn tomato-stuck keys.

One thing that always amazes me about Taiwan is the extent to which most westerners I meet use it as a sexual playground. Meeting ring-wearing men in bars who immediately steer the conversation to where the best “massage” places are, dropping twist-of-speech hints about their true intent. When I get in these conversations, I usually don’t say one way or another whether or not I participate – for fear of being viewed as some limp-dicked sexual leper; more often than not if you don’t say you don’t, it’s assumed you do. The whole “while the cat is away” attitude that men get here is really something else. I guess I’ve never been one to partake in “manly” activities like strip clubs or whatnot. Oh sure, I’m still a functioning male: I’ll watch my share of internet porn or sit on the john and flip lustily through a Maxim magazine. I guess I just draw the line at the “live action” stuff. Maybe I’ve watched one too many Andy Griffiths or something, but I’m just not down with extramarital sexual activity – I’d much rather make a seed offering to the hotel shower drain than some paid-nothing whore a musty Taipei backroom.

Sorry to those who’ve posted recently and seen your comments deferred in their appearance. I’m still getting the hang of WordPress’ new v1.5 comment moderation features. Your posts should be visible now, and I’ve sent those texas holdem bastards where they belong. Oh, and thanks for commenting – it’s part of what makes me enjoy writing every day… to have some validation that people are reading and perhaps even enjoying what the heck I’m on about.

Now, it’s time for breakfast, and a full day of customers. Until sometime tomorrow…

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