Dear Friends,

I am back in the Green Mountains, although my body is not quite sure what time zone I am in at this time. I had an amazing three weeks of travel. I left with the trees ablaze in fall colors and return to “stick season” with no leaves left and the first snow behind us. I have the winter tire change-over, motorcycle buttoning-up for winter and a few more chores before I can really say I am ready for the long winter, but it is sure nice to be home with the pups!

I went first to Taiwan and visited Taipei and Taichung. In Taichung, I visited the manufacturer of the CAR Tune FM transmitter/charger and our USB chargers. We took a high speed train from Taipei and I was very impressed with the efficient and fast rail system. What might have taken two or three hours by car was only an hour by a very comfortable train. I was glued to the window watching the countryside which seemed to have agriculture on one side of the tracks and urban development on the other with high-rise apartments.

There were two purposes for my journey to the Far East: one was to visit our current suppliers, examine the working conditions in the factories and talk about new products, and the other purpose was to find new products at the three trade shows. After the journey to Taichung, I attended a trade show in Taipei which was a bit disappointing. It was billed as the Taiwan electronics show, however, it was primarily a showcase for LED lighting. The developments in LED lighting were very interesting since high-efficiency lighting is really the future of lighting—beyond compact fluorescents—but I wasn’t interested in LED importing for our business, so that show was pretty much a bust.

The H1N1 awareness in all of the places I visited were much greater than here in the states. As we got off the airplane, we were handed health forms to fill out, there were infrared monitors to scan for fevers and most of the immigration personnel wore masks. When we went out for dinner that second night, we had to have our temperatures taken and hands sanitized before we were allowed into the restaurant. I’d say that perhaps 10-20% of the people in Taiwan wore masks.

I was traveling with my friend Jason Wu who has family in Taiwan so while he visited with friends and family I went to visit the sales agent for our Chill Pill speakers. We spent the afternoon discussing the Chill Pill and designing future models of the speaker. I went to dinner with Jenny and her daughter, Grace, and then spent the next day with Grace, who showed me many of the historical sites in Taipei and took me for some very local food!

That evening I went to the Taipei night market and had stinky tofu and oyster pancake and the next morning I was off to Hong Kong. Hong Kong also had H1N1 measures in effect and was just as hustle-bustle as I remember it from my first visit 20 years ago. I had a great room overlooking the harbor and we took public transportation everywhere we went. I attended two trade shows in Hong Kong and while one seemed to be more of a showcase, the other was full of vendors focused on buyers. We found many potential new products.

We took a train to Dongguan in the mainland to visit the manufacturer of the Hammerhead sleeves and the actual manufacturer of the Chill Pill speakers. I was very impressed with both companies, especially with the care and quality control of the Chill Pill manufacturer. They were actually running part of our order on the assembly line while I was there so it was very interesting to see our products actually being made. The factory was clean and very well organized. Most of the workers appeared to be 18-25 years old and many lived in the large dormitory next to the factory. You can see some pictures at our Flickr page here.

I had a lot of other adventures but soon it was time to hop on the plane and head for Las Vegas for the Apple Specialist Marketing Coop meeting. Grace flew out to meet me and Hapy was there too, and took us out for an amazing dinner for our anniversary. The conference was abuzz with discussion of the new Apple iMacs, MacBook, Mac mini and Mac mini server as well as the new accessories. I am switching to the Magic Mouse as soon as they come in!

I got back to Vermont about 1AM on Monday and have had a full schedule ever since. I always prefer to be very busy at work and also work hard to maintain a healthy separation of work and play, although I have been spending a lot of time on-line at nights chatting with our suppliers overseas since our night is their day.

Kali and Ed did a great job covering for me while I was gone, particularly during Apple’s financial results and new product introductions. We have an awesome Kibbles & Bytes team!

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