11,000 people attended a lecture by Tadao Ando today in Taipei, held at the Taipei Arena.
ELEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE!
That is just insane.
I know there's nothing to do in Taipei and the herd mentality of the Taiwanese cannot be underestimated (this is, after all, a country of people who would wait in line for 6 hours to buy donuts just because it was the hot new thing), but this is mind boggling. 11,000 to hear an architecture lecture? I'm willing to wager that 80% of the people who attended would not be able to ID an Ando building.
The lecture was free, sponsored by Toto (the Japanese toilet company). As many as 30,000 applied for the ticket drawing. Those who did not get one were supposedly paying upwards of NT$2,400/US$72.65 in online auctions.
Those who paid for the tickets got to hear one crappy lecture. Ando talked about nothing substantive nor insightful. The talk started with Ando striding the length of the arena floor onto the stage to thunderous applause, accompanied by the the theme of Rocky (I'm serious). And it was all downhill after that. For about 90 minutes, he talked superficially about his early life and career, then glossed over a few of his projects (Rokko Housing, Naoshima, his own office in Osaka). If you factor in the fact that he spoke in Japanese and had to be translated after every sentence, he spoke for no more than 50 minutes. After that, some Tokyo Univeristy professor and some Taiwanese dude joined him on stage for a 45 minute discussion/Q&A session, which was more fluff. A few softball questions and answers later, it was over. This is a far cry from the architecture lectures I used to attend at Cooper's Great Hall. Even conceding the fact that he probably had to shoot for the lowest common denominator with such a ridiculously large audience, it was still an extremely disappointing lecture.
 When Mister Donuts opened its first store in Taipei a few years ago.
Ando works I've photographed:
So I accidentally broke one of my D2X bodies while I was in Indonesia last week. It was a dumb mistake. I had the camera mounted on the tripod but forgot to tighten the clamp on my ballhead and when I let go of the camera to reach for something else, I heard the most sickening sound. My fisheye lens, which was mounted on the camera, took the brunt of the damage. The built-in hood shattered and the front elements cracked.
The camera body looked okay. It is a "pro" body after all. It's supposed to withstand some abuse (not dropped from nearly 6 feet I'll grant you that). I tested it, it turned out the AF mechanism was busted. Everything else functioned normally. So I ended up focusing manually with that body for the remainder of the trip.
The point of this post is not to tell you how I damaged the camera but how ridiculous Nikon is. I took it in to the service center in Taipei (where I am living at the moment) and was informed that since I did not purchase it from the official distributor in Taipei (I bought it from Nikon USA when I lived in New York), the only way they will even look at it is if I paid them NT$10,000/US$302.39. That is just so they will look at my camera. And then I still will have to pay for the actual parts and labor. Isn't that absurd? That US$300 is essentially Nikon Taiwan telling me "fuck you" for not buying the camera from them.
I understand them not providing warranty service to cameras bought out-of-market to protect their own interests (though in this day and age of the global nomad, that is frankly very anti-consumer), but this is going way too far.
Does Nikon do this in all markets? Does Nikon USA charge you a US$300 penalty if you brought in a gray-market camera to repair? And for that matter, does Canon? If Canon does not do this, or at least has a more reasonable policy regarding gray-market cameras, I am going to switch back (I used to use a 1D). I move around the world (in any given year I might be living in Taiwan, China, Canada or the States for example) and I need to know that I can walk into an authorized service center in any country and have my cameras expertly repaired in a timely manner without paying a hefty penalty.
 Well, technically, it's not "Nikon Taiwan", but Nikon's Taiwanese distributor. But Nikon is equally culpable for allowing its distributor to treat its customers this way.