Friday, September 27, 2013

Junk Boat

     One rite of passage that every resident of Hong Kong must experience is that of the full-day junk boat tour.  Arriving back in Hong Kong from our summer travels it seemed that everyone was thinking the same thing, with three different opportunities for junk-boating on three consecutive weekends.  We had rented a junk boat before for Marisa's 30th birthday in May, but that was a Friday night 4-hr dinner cruise.  This time we joined some friends from the worship team at our church for a day-time cruise that included sailing, swimming and eating.  We really lucked out to have a beautiful day and definitely got our money's worth.

 Not our boat, but it still gives you an idea of the beautiful backdrop of this boat cruise.

 It took an hour and a half, but we reached Clearwater Bay and reaped the benefits.

 The upper deck of the boat had plenty of room to bask in the sun.

We headed out around 10am and returned around 6pm as the sun was coming down. 

Marisa kept an eye out for pink dolphins, floating casinos, and other junk boats as she brought us in safely.

     If you are ever in Hong Kong for an extended time, a full-day junk boat trip should be on the itinerary.  Compared with the dinner cruises, these are definitely long as you get excellent weather.  We had a nice lunch, plenty of drinks, lots of swim time, and were able to meet tons of new people from church.  That equates to a successful day!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Taylor Guitar Factory Tour

    While visiting family in California in August I finally had a chance to visit the deceptively elusive Taylor Guitar Factory in El Cajon (north San Diego County).  On several previous trips I happened to visit during Christmas and the 4th of July, which happen to be the two times of the year when the factory is shut down.  Not this time!

     Marisa and I had toured the C.F. Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth, PA years ago, but since I play a Taylor this place had a special meaning for me.  In this post I just want to give you an overview tour in pictures to give you an idea of the process (not necessarily in the correct production order, but in the order of appearance on the tour).

Taylor rounds up loads of exotic wood from all over the world.  They condition it in this covered area just outside of the factory until it's of the desired humidity, etc. 

When the wood is ready, they take large sheets of it and trim it down into more user friendly pieces.

Once thin panels are cut out, they are matched together, glued, and clamped.  One day they'll make a lovely top or bottom piece. 

Notice the symmetry on these pieces that've been glued.  They use cuts from the same board in order for the grain to match.

I couldn't get a great shot of the laser-cutting machines that cut out small pieces for bracing as well as the soundholes and grooves for inlay. 

By hand, these workers can carve out more intricate designs and inlay the tops with mother of pearl and abalone shell.
The assembled bodies are buffed evenly using a robotic arm and buffing wheel in this booth. 

In an adjacent section these workers are doing some additional buffing using hand tools.

Here's a glimpse at the diversity of the guitars that are cranked out in this place on a daily basis. 

In the electronics section, workers install pick-ups and test out the tuners.

 One of the special features of Taylor guitars is the joint where the neck meets the body.  Traditionally, many instrument makers accomplish this with a dove-tail joint.  Here they have an assembly that allows the neck to be bolted.  See the picture below for the neck fitting.

In a separate building workers shape and finish the necks.  Again, notice the diversity of different styles here. 

Apparently the neck is the most difficult part to make, requiring the most labor.

This lady hammers in the frets along the neck. 

Besides the body/soundhole, the neck is also a great place to include custom designs and inlay.

 Back in the main building the technical details of bracing are explained.  These patterns allow the tension on the guitar from the strings to be dissipated and not rip the body apart.
Lastly, we have the machines that bend the thin strips for the sides of the guitar into place.
The shaping machines are assisted by these heating elements that help to dry the wood into position. 

Post-tour pose in the showroom.

     We had a really great time visiting Taylor.  Compared with CF Martin, I'd say that the tour is similar but Martin has a more elaborate museum/showroom with a lot of their signature guitars made for different famous musicians.  The people at Taylor are very down-to-earth and friendly, and it was nice to see all of the hard work behind the guitar that I've been playing for the last twelve years or so.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Miscell-Asian: Photo-Taking 101

Justin and I come across a lot of things while living in Hong Kong that an American would just not see on a day to day basis. We have been collecting observations that we want to share with you about Hong Kong culture or the general term "Asian". One of my favorite things about living overseas is learning the nuances of another culture. While with any culture some traditions or customs can be frustrating, I have found that the fun or interesting ones outweigh any of the annoying ones. The things I have loved the most are little sayings or phrases they use and of course the food. Just this weekend while on a run, a man explained to us that we were running at the hottest time of day (11-2) during this time of year and they call it the "Autumn Tiger". I just love it!

To kick-off our "Miscell-Asian" series of posts we are going to look at the art of photography.  As many of us know Asians like to take pictures and that has definitely been seen in Hong Kong and even on our travels outside Hong Kong. From scenery, landscapes, sights to food and a lot of themselves. I thought this video did a great job of illustrating the various stances and subjects that arise when an Asian wields a camera.

We hope none of these posts offend anyone and that is definitely not the purpose of them. We just want to showcase a few interesting cultural aspects of living in Asia to our friends and family. We hope you enjoy these posts and maybe learn a thing or two about life in the East.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jackson US Summer Tour: VA

I had the added bonus of visiting the beautiful state of Virginia and visiting with some of my dear friends. The main reason for my visit to Virginia was to take my last two master's on-campus classes called intensives at Liberty University. I did the same thing last summer and it was good to be a college students again. But school is boring to talk about so lets talk about more exciting things. One of my best friends from college, Lauren, lives in Harrisonburg, VA and I got to meet her adorable son, Luke.

The little guy, Luke

Seeing Lauren is always good for the soul and even with the miles between us we always fall back into right where we left off.

The surprise of my visit with Lauren was I got to see her sweet mom, Leslie. I had not seen her in about 2 years so it was such a nice treat.

The whole family and a redhead

In addition to Luke and Leslie, I also got to see Lauren's husband's sister, Brittany. It was a full house and filled with tons of fun.

After my second week of classes I headed to Charlottesville to visit some of mine and Justin's best friends from college, the Tisons. 

This is probably my 3rd or 4th visit to Charlottesville and every time I like it more and more. What a great place!

One awesome part of this visit was the last minute visit with my girl, Kristen. Mad props to her for working a 12-hour nursing day and driving an hour from Richmond. Man I love that girl and it had been way too long. Thanks Chris for giving us a girls' night!

This guy was my favorite. Chris and Liz's son, Noah, is so animated and talkative and I could just eat him up. I mean look at him!

We were best buddies by the end of two days!

Visiting good friends always centers me. I can be myself and just be silly. I had great conversation, good food, and lot of smiles and laughs. Thanks VA friends for letting me take over your life for a few days. Lots of love!

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