On Wednesday 11th October 2006, Chen Ying-bian was woken by his wife at 5.00am as usual. He washed, shaved and put on fresh clothes. His breakfast was set out for him in the usual place, by the window of their apartment on the fifteenth floor. As he stared down on the small group exercising in 228 Memorial Park he sipped a glass of warm soy milk and nibbled at a plate of shao bing which he dipped in a bowl of soy and ginger sauce.
After breakfast he and his wife Cuixia lit some incense and prayed together for ten minutes in front of the little shrine in the corner of their sitting room.
Outside the apartment, although it was still only six twenty, it was already hot and humid. Chen slung his suit jacket over the handlebars of his motor-scooter and set off through the busy traffic for his office in the Ministry of Education Computer Centre in the Jhongjheng District of Taipei.
As he weaved his way through the traffic in front of Taipei 101 - the world's tallest building - he found himself once again pondering the sage words of the visiting professor who had addressed their research and development division the day before. “Invent a better mousetrap,” the ancient Professor had intoned in a voice so whispery they had to crane forward to hear, “And the world will beat a path to your door.” The idea of the world beating a path to his door excited Chen even though, being a Taoist, the idea of killing did not.
Seated at his desk in the huge open plan office he switched on his computer and waited impatiently for it to boot up. Once he had logged on he Googled the phrase that had kept him awake all night. “Humane mousetrap market.” His fingers quivered with excitement. The concept of a humane mousetrap allayed all his religious reservations. Diligently he worked his way through the many results thrown up by Google.
Disappointingly there appeared to be numerous variations already invented of the humane mousetrap. This did not seem at all like the idea that would make his fame and fortune. He was about to give up his search when he reached result number forty. He frowned as he read the description: “View From The Pundy House: April 2006”. Although his mother tongue was Mandarin he conducted all his research in English which he spoke fluently, albeit with an American accent. A Pundy House? What was that, he wondered, some kind of temple? After a moment's hesitation - there was much work to be done that day and every second was valuable - he clicked on the entry and entered a strange and mystifying world that kept him fascinated for the rest of the morning.
At 11.20am on Wednesday 11th October on the other side of the world Bill Pundy clicked on his Site Meter to check his daily visitor numbers. His eyes ran down the Recent Visitor details. All the usual suspects had dropped by that morning. Skint Writer, JTA, the Minx. His stopped at an unusual domain name. Edu.tw. Edu.tw? TW? Where on earth was that? Wales, maybe? And what on earth were they doing visiting The Pundy House? Maybe it was someone new who wanted to read A Half Life of One. He felt his pulse quickening. All his hard work was finally paying off. It had started. Readers were flocking to his site from all over the world. "It just shows you," he thought to himself, "Build a better mousetrap and the world..."