Friday, May 25, 2012

week 87_Remember to Keep In Touch

During our visit home to the US ~ I somehow *accidentally* managed to leave my Blackberry in the good old US of A. It's true, it really was an accident... but in the end, let's just say I wasn't all that upset :)

Lucky me, by the time I returned to Taipei, I was eligible to upgrade to a new phone so I set myself up with an iPhone 4S. Hallelujah! Despite the slower pace of my blogging lately, believe it or not ~ I am actually more connected now than ever before!

Nowadays, it is not only easy to keep in touch across the distance. Some might say it is a little bit too easy... Instead of knowing which solution to choose, I'm constantly faced with new "great ways to keep in touch" with friends and family overseas. How to choose???!

[On a side note, one of the phone companies 
here uses a song in ALL of their commercials 
and advertising that goes like this...
"Don't forget to keep in touch,
Remember to keep in touch,
Keep in touch,
Oh, Keep in touch..."
Get the idea? Yeah... It's a bit much!]

My new iPhone is equipped with typical smart phone features of course (phone call ability, text messaging, and email synchronization, Facebook)... in addition to... iMessage, FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp and as many game apps as I am willing to download! 

What does that all mean? 

iMessage: iMessage is a "text" message service for all iPhone using the newest operating system. It allows iPhones to message each other using the Internet instead of traditional SMS/text, therefore ::: free text messages to other people using a compatible iPhone. Like my sister!

FaceTime: FaceTime is a video chat program that is compatible with Apple products, again for me as an iPhone user, and a Mac owner. The program is free (or can be downloaded for less than $5 USD, no monthly fees) and works over the Internet. For those without unlimited Internet service on their phone, you can also use it over wifi. This comes in handy when talking to other Apple owners. Like my brother, sister-in-law, and adorable niece Zoe!

Skype: Skype is a video chat program for any computer user (not limited to Apple products) and can be downloaded for free. Skype users can make free voice and or video calls to each other over an Internet connection (when both users are logged into the program), or for a minimal fee, users can pay to call anyone not using Skype. For example ~ my husband and I pay $6 USD for unlimited calling to any US phone number. This means, when I am anywhere with my iPhone and Skype I can call anyone back in the States at my convenience... Like my Mom, Dad, and best girlfriends!

WhatsApp: The final communication program mentioned (that I actually have not yet downloaded) operates similar to the iMessage - it allows users to "text" message each other without being charged for the texts - even internationally. As someone who rarely needs to text, with the exception of messages to my husband and sister who both use iPhones, I have not downloaded the program, but I have heard of it many times. So for all of you passionate text-ers out there, if you can get your friends to use the same app, you can all chat for free as often as you'd like.

I like to think that I have always made the effort to keep in touch despite the distance (Who else do you know based in Taipei that talks to multiple people in the US every single day?!) I've always loved emailing, Facebook-ing, and keeping up with the people who are important to me in any way I can... but my iPhone certainly does make that even easier.

For those of you on the other side ~ I'd love to know how much it costs for you to buy an unlimited Skype package to call Taiwan??? After all, if my phone rings... there's a 90% chance it's my Husband <3. [PS... If that doesn't work for you, getting personal emails and Facebook messages still makes my day every time!] :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

weeks 84.85.86... Stateside Visit

From business trips (with visits on the side to OK/TX), personal leave time, and family visitors here in Taipei, I'd have to say I'm way ahead of the typical international family member when it comes to keeping in touch [not to mention Skype, emails, Facebook, and good old fashioned phone calls :) ]

This trip home ~ as anyone living abroad can probably relate to ~ was absolutely PACKED with friend and family time, leaving limited time to ourselves to take care of our own list of personal errands and agendas... Nevertheless, it was great to see everyone --- especially knowing that we will not be returning to visit again over the next 6 or so months. This trip also solidified (at least in my mind) that our next vacation needs to be a true vacation, on a beach somewhere, relaxing :) [Sorry family!] It will be awhile before that trip happens.

#1 purpose for the visit home? To see this fabulous young lady graduate from Oklahoma State!


I waited to post to the blog, because I wanted to include some travel photos ~ however, on my trips to the US (when I turn my international cell phone off, and generally rely on family members to share their photos with me...) the pictures always seem to be lost in a dark hole somewhere... and it is hard for me to get ahold of them [ahem, family].

In addition to visiting friends and family, we were extremely excited to visit our favorite pooch! [Who wouldn't be?!] and so happy to see how settled he is in his new home. Don't be fooled by the ferocious growling - these two pooches are BFF now for sure. A few days playing with the dogs, and we have reinfested our wardrobes with black and white dog hair - I have the feeling we will be seeing that for awhile :)

Lastly, I'd be lying if I didn't confess that food is the 3rd most missed item on our list! We can't help but miss the terribly (bad for you) delicious foods from the States! So where does an Okie or Texas gal eat during the visit home...?

Panera Bread
Donut Shops (various... multiple!)
Jamba Juice
Einstein Bros. Bagels
Boston Market
Taco Bueno
Waffle House
McAllister's Deli

[The wish list was longer, but we ran out of time!]

Not to mention the home-cooked meals either! BBQ, potato salad, cole slaw, cobbler, chips and ranch dip (yum!), cookie cake, cake, and so much more!

Oh Mexican food, how I miss you!
Too bad I was not able to enjoy that delicious margarita during the visit [pic is of my hubby's drink], but even still I managed to put on 4 pounds during my 10 day visit! I've already shed it upon returning to Taiwan. I think I just need more queso in my life here...