2012年11月1日 星期四

Blog Archive 22 很久很久以前的文章

Older entries from Taitung Style and Taiwan Style.  To minimize space, I've deleted most of the pictures.  Ready to time travel?  Let's go!


1. Intro 5 (Taiwan Style, November 十一月 2012)

The following questions were taken from the Word by Word Basic Picture Dictionary, Second Edition.

1. Where?

Where what?  If you are going to ask where, you must first ask for whom, and if you are going to ask for whom, you must first ask to what purpose.  The whole thing is very confusing.

2. You look tired.

Do I?  I don't feel tired.  I took a nap this afternoon and I just finished dinner.  I feel very awake.

3. What are you doing?

I am sitting in front of a computer typing, or wasn't that obvious?  Or did you mean in a general sense, as in: "What are you doing with your life?"  I suppose I am just living from day to day like most people.  I am not big on big plans.

4. Do you like to read newspapers and magazines?

I like to read the "Apple Daily" 蘋果日報 when I am in the breakfast restaurant.  I enjoy the murders and pictures of sexy girls.  I also enjoy the movie section.  I don't read many magazines, though I will sometimes buy The Economist.

5. Can I exchange money?

I am sure that you can, if you possess valid currency and some form of photo I.D.

6. What kind of literature do you like to read?

I read everything except romance novels.  My tastes generally run to the Literature and Science sections of the local (English) bookstore, but if I am bored enough I will read anything.  My favorite books are probably Moby Dick and American Psycho.  My favorite author would probably be William Faulkner.  I also love books about physics, space exploration, and ecological topics.

7. Tell me about a time you hurt yourself.  What happened?

The last time I hurt myself was sometime last year, when I was riding my bicycle back to the school where I work.  I wasn't paying attention to the road, and when a taxi cut in front of me I pumped the brakes too hard and went flying off my bike.  Luckily I didn't break anything, but my arm hurt for a long time after.


2. Foreign Friends of Foreign Friends 外國朋友的外國朋友 (Taitung Style, November 十一月 2012)

When most people around here say "foreigners" what they really mean is Westerners, or sometimes just Caucasians.  While this use of the word is incorrect, people use it this way so often that it tends to rub off on us Westerners, too.  We often use the word in the same way without thinking about it.  這裡的人講"外國人"的時候, 他們的意思常常指"西方人"或是"白人".  這樣的說法是不正確的, 可是這裡的西方人因為環境的關係也有此用法.  我們也常常想都沒想的說"外國人".

So when I say "foreigners" assume that I'm talking about Westerners, from Western countries.  Most of these Westerners would also be native English speakers, though not all of them.  People from places like Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia are outside of this discussion.  They are foreigners, too, but not the kind I am talking about.  所以我說"外國人"的時候, 你應該知道我指的是"西方人".  大部分這些"西方人"可能是以英文當母語者, 可是也有許多人例外.  從越南, 菲律賓, 還有馬來西亞來的人,  當然他們也是外國人, 可是他們不是我在這裡講的"外國人".

When I first moved to Taitung, I wondered if any foreigners lived here at all.  I would go weeks without seeing one, and usually the foreigners I did see were Mormons or tourists.  It took me a long time to meet other foreigners, and even now I don't know that many.  我剛搬來台東時, 我以為這裡沒有外國人居住.  因為除了摩門教徒和觀光客, 我好幾個禮拜都沒遇見過任何的外國人.  我在這裡很久才有機會認識其他的外國人.  目前為止, 我認識的外國人也不多.

The first foreigners I had a chance to know were also working for the Taitung County Government.  Back then there were only four Foreign English Teachers working for the County, including myself.  There was a teacher at Ren Ai Elementary, who had also brought his wife over, a teacher at Shin Sheng Middle School, and a teacher at Jer Ben Junior High.  I liked them well enough, but I didn't see them that often.  我最先認識的外國人也是台東縣政府的外籍教師.  那時候台東縣政府只有四位外籍教師,  我是其中一位.  有一位在仁愛國小, 他的太太也跟他一起來臺東.  還有一位教師在新生國中和一位在知本國中.  可是我們不常碰面.

Later on I met another American, who owned an English school not far from where I was living.  He turned about to be a great guy, and I was glad to have him to talk to.  He was my first real foreign friend in Taitung.  之後, 我認識另一個美國人.  他是我家附近的美語補習班的老闆.  是一個很好的人.  我也覺得有機會跟他聊天是件很幸福的事情.  他是我在台東的第一個外國朋友.

Through this other American I met several other foreigners, though none that I developed lasting friendships with.  Perhaps one day I will.  One of them owned a bar in town, another worked in a private English school, and others were involved with a church that the other American attended.  透過這位美國朋友, 我也認識其他的外國人, 只是我跟這些人不是很熟,  也許以後有機會更進一步認識.  他其中一個外國朋友是酒吧的老闆, 一個在美語學校當老師, 還有些則是他的教會朋友.

There was also a new crop of FETs hired by the County every year, though few of them stayed for long.  Some of them I grew to like, but the thought of their one day disappearing was always in the back of my mind.  I suppose I didn't want to care about them until I knew they were going to stick around. 每年還有縣政府聘請的新來的外籍教師, 可是大部分都留不久.  雖然我很喜歡有的外籍教師, 可是我覺得他們沒多久就會離開了.  所以我不想太在乎他們,
除非我知道他們會留下來.

It hasn't been until fairly recently that I've met more foreigners, and this is mostly due to a couple of friends who frequent the bars popular with foreigners in Taitung.  I have been to Kasa a few times.  I have been to the sugar factory in Dulan.  I have even been to a couple parties.  I've met a lot of other foreigners, and moreover foreigners who've lived here for a long time.  今年我才認識較多的外國朋友, 因為我有兩個外國朋友喜歡去酒吧.  我們幾次一起去Kasa和都蘭的糖廠.  也因為去了兩個朋友家的parties.  碰到很多住在這裡很久的外國人.

It's nice to have more foreign friends, but it can be frustrating if you've been a "loner" like me.  For a long time I was trying to make my own way in this place, and meeting contradictory points of view about Taitung can be a challenge.  I try to keep an open mind about what other people are saying.  I try not to judge others.  It's not always easy.  有比較多的外國朋友是很棒的感覺, 可是我這個獨來獨往的人有點不習慣.   因為他們對台東的看法跟我的看法差很多.  我試著保持開放的心態, 接受他們的看法.  只是有時候很難.

I can't claim to know every foreigner in Taitung.  I can't even claim to know most of them.  I know a few, and I have learned a lot from them.  Taitung is a better place for all the different kinds of people that live here, and there is nowhere else I'd rather be.我沒辦法說自己認識台東所有的外國人.  我也沒辦法說自己認識台東大部分的外國人.  我認識一些外國人, 也因為這些外國朋友而比較了解台東.  有那麼多不一樣的人居住在這裡讓台東更好, 台東是最適合我的縣市.


3. Family Mart 全家 (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2012)

Family Mart is 7-11's chief competitor in Taiwan.  It's Chinese name, 全家, could be translated as "whole family."

I doubt that Family Mart makes as much money as 7-11, though they seem to do pretty well.  They have most of the same drinks, most of the same potato chips, and most of the same everything else.  The big difference is that Family Mart doesn't have its own brand.  There are no Family Mart-brand drinks, no Family Mart-brand potato chips, and no Family Mart-brand anything else.

7-11's "toys" are much more fashionable.  Every time you spend a certain amount of money in 7-11 (I think it's 50 NT), you earn a ticket, and if you have enough tickets these can be exchanged for a "toy."  The "toys" range from One Piece memorabilia to Hello Kitty jewelry.  Family Mart also has their own "toys," but people don't go crazy over them in the same way.

I shop at Family Mart more than 7-11, just because a Family Mart is closer to my house.  Even so, I will sometimes walk the extra distance to 7-11 for different beers, or their "potato chips salsa."  I think the people in my local Family Mart are friendlier, and the store is less crowded.

By the way, Family Mart has an English website if you are interested.  This website is not nearly as informative or as useful as their Chinese website, but you can learn a few things from it.  For example, Family Mart's revenue reached 4.6 billion this year.  I am assuming that figure is in US dollars, because 4.6 billion NT wouldn't be much for an island-wide chain.  There are 2830 Family Marts in Taiwan at the time of writing, and an offshoot of the Family Mart Corporation, Famima Corp., has opened 10 stores in California.  Taiwan's first Family Mart was opened near the Taipei Main Station 台北車站 in 1988.

Whatever you do, be nice to the people in Family Mart (and 7-11, for that matter).  They might represent another big, greedy corporation, but they work hard, and they don't make a lot of money.  It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.


4. Wine, Women, and Weed (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2012)

Last night I had beers with my buddy X in a local bar.  I was very happy because I hadn't seen X in a while.  I was also happy because this bar had Belgian beer.

After a couple of beers, we started talking about other foreigners in Taitung 台東.  Guys who were here a year, only to be kicked out by the authorities.  Guys who were almost kicked out, but chose to flee of their own accord.  Guys who skipped out on wives and children.  Guys who were "under surveillance."  Guys who were almost kicked out, but who managed to save themselves at the last moment.  Guys who we thought were kicked out, only to find out later that they were still - somehow - around.

Taitung is a relatively rural place, and there aren't that many other foreigners here.  So those of us who've been here a while usually end up in this kind of conversation:  "Hey, what ever happened to _____?"  "Did you hear?  He got _____!"

And after a while we started to talk about Y, who is a mutual acquaintance.  Y has been in town for about two years now, and he has been discussed elsewhere in this blog.  Y, it seemed, after a series of misadventures, had decided to quit drinking.  Yet Y's Taiwanese girlfriend, who also works in the bar where we were sitting, had just informed us that Y was drinking again - as of the day before - and that she had broken up with him for this very reason.

This reminded me of the weekend before, wherein I followed Y and two of his visiting American friends into another local bar.   This other bar is a lot seedier than the one in which X and myself found ourselves.  It has also acquired quite the reputation around town.  This bar is owned by Z, who X, Y, and myself all know.

During that weekend, Y was still firm in his resolve to stop drinking.  I entered Y's house in the early evening, to the sight of Y sitting on his couch while his American friends pounded Heineken after Heineken.  Later on, Y called Z on his cel, and we made for Z's bar, not far away.

I followed Y and his friends through the first floor of the bar, which was empty at that hour.  They went through a door in the back, and I was surprised by all the girls in the back room, some wearing only their underwear.  Z's bar employs several women as "hostesses," though I suspect they do a lot more than hostessing.  I know several guys who've received lap dances in Z's bar, and for the right price I don't think getting laid there would be much trouble at all.

We didn't find Z in that back room, but rather on the second floor of the bar.  Z had come into some marijuana that day, and he was eager to share.  For the sake of my personal security, I will not say what I did in that room.  Let's just say I walked out of that room feeling very relaxed.

Still later, we went to a restaurant where Y, Z, and the American friends ate sandwiches.  I bailed after that, using my wife as an excuse.  While my wife was waiting for me at home, I previously told her to call me at just that point in the evening, so that I had a reason to leave.  I like beer and "relaxation" as much as the next guy, but I figured that the next phase of the evening was going to involve women.  Honestly, I'm tempted sometimes, but I'd rather go home to my wife.

X was listening to me recount most of this story, all the while agreeing that no, Z isn't a good guy to hang around with.  He's funny as hell, and he'll share his "relaxation" if and when he has some, but he's mixed up in too much gangster sh**.  With such a friend in tow, it's no surprise that Y fell off the wagon.  No surprise at all.

And this got us thinking about how easy it is for foreign guys to self-destruct in Taiwan.  For a lot of us, it starts with the drinking, but it can just as easily be the women, the drugs, or something else.  This happens to many foreigners because they are without a real peer group, they are away from their home culture, and that "party" lifestyle offers not only friends, but also a sense of belonging.  Before you know it, you're getting wasted in local bars, shuttling between three or four girlfriends, or doing something really stupid like messing around with strange pills.

I'm not saying I haven't had trouble with one or more of the above things, but any problems I've had are insignificant compared to the disasters of some others.  Some guys didn't just go out with a bang, they went out with sirens, they went out with a divorce, and they went out with stitches.  Some of them, moreover, aren't allowed to come back.

Anyway, this is what X and I were talking about.  While we talked, we enjoyed our Belgian beer and ogled the girls a bit.  Then we went home to our families.  It seemed better than the alternatives.


5. 5 Places in Taiwan I'd Love to Revisit, and 5 I'd Never Visit Again (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2012)

5 Places in Taiwan I'd Love to Revisit

1. Sun Moon Lake 日月潭

Why I'd Like to Go Back There:

It's pretty.  I went there waaaaay back in 2000, and haven't been back since.  Back then I was living in Taichung 台中, and Nantou 南投 was only a (long) scooter ride away.  I miss the strange little towns in that area, and the way the lake looked in the early morning.

Why I Haven't:

It's damn far from where I live.  I live in Taitung 台東 now, so Sun Moon Lake would be a 7-8 hour drive from my house.  Without a car, I'd have to take a train to Taichung, and then a bus to Sun Moon Lake.  Nantou is probably the most difficult part of Taiwan for me to get to.

2. The Highway Along the West Coast

Why I'd Like to Go Back There:

More strange little towns, and places where few foreign people ever go.  There are a lot of odd little fishing ports, failed building projects, and other curiosities.  It's a great stretch of road for taking pictures.

Why I Haven't:

Again, it's far from where I live, but not as far as Sun Moon Lake.  I was fairly close to there last summer, though I was pressed for time and wasn't able to go exploring.  I might wander over there during Chinese New Year.

3. The Taiwan Beer Brewery in Jhunan 竹南的台啤酒廠

Why I'd Like to Go Back There:

All the beer you can drink.  Last time I went there the beer was free, and you could drink all you wanted.  I got there about an hour before closing time, and managed to finish off three pints in that short time.  It was also an interesting place to explore.

Why I Haven't:

From where I live, it's about as far as Sun Moon Lake.  I almost never get out to Miao Li 苗栗, Hsinchu 新竹, or Taoyuan 桃園 counties, mostly because of the travel time involved.  Even so, I'd love to visit this place again.  It is much better than the rice wine distillery in Hualien 花蓮.

4. South Yilan County 宜蘭縣

Why I'd Like to Go Back There:

That area is just interesting to me.  The sights around Su Ao 蘇澳 and Nan Fang Ao 南方澳 are memorable in a kind of rainy, forlorn way.  That area is extremely inconvenient without a car, but with a car you can discover a lot of cool stuff.

Why I Haven't:

I dislike driving the Su-Hua Highway 蘇花公路 between Hualien and Yilan, and I wouldn't bother going there without a car.

5. Shr Lin Night Market in Taipei 士林夜市

Why I'd Like to Go Back There:

It's a great place to watch people, and there is a lot of good food.  I'm not talking about the food inside that building, but rather the food on the adjoining street.  Everything I ate there last time was really good.

Why I Haven't:

My wife despises this place.  It is SLAMMED with people on the weekend, and within ten minutes of our arrival she gets a headache and wants to leave.

5 Places I'd Never Visit Again

1. The Kaohsiung Museum of History 史前博物館

This is the worst museum I have ever been to.  There are some old, dusty maps inside, and a few more "interactive" displays, but despite attempts to make this place more interesting it is unbearably dull.  The real problem with a museum devoted to Kaohsiung's history is that Kaohsiung doesn't really have much of a history.

2. Hsitou Forest Recreation Area 溪頭森林遊樂區

This place is not worth the drive.  Parts of it are pretty, but it's SMALL.  It's also located along a really dangerous road through Nantou, and it's mobbed with tourists on holidays.  There are dozens of other forest recreation areas, all more pleasant than Hsitou.

3. The Kaohsiung Zoo

This zoo sucks.  I feel sorry for the animals trapped inside it.  I know they recently spent money to renovate this zoo, but in my opinion it still looks like crap.  I think this land would be better used for something else.  Maybe someone could send the animals to better zoos, away from Kaohsiung's smog.

4. Yi Da World 義大世界

This is the newest shopping center/amusement park in south Taiwan, lying within the confines of Kaohsiung City.  There is absolutely nothing interesting in the mall, and the amusement park looks both ill-maintained and dangerous.

5. "Water Running Up" 水往上流

There are many "water running up" places in Taiwan, but I am talking about the one in Taitung.  It is far and away the lamest thing in Taitung County, and the only thing I can say in its defense is that there's no entrance fee.


6. New Things in Taitung City 台東新事物 (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2012)

Taitung City is changing.  Of that there can be no doubt.  New houses are springing up everywhere, and more ambitious building projects can also be seen around town.  The County Government has long expressed a wish to "build up" Taitung City.  This is partly to create new jobs, and partly to create new tourist destinations.  台東市正在改變.  這是無庸置疑的.  新的房子雨後春筍般地冒了出來, 也有大的建設工程正在進行.  台東縣政府已經希望能"建設"很久了.  這除了提供新的工作機會外, 也提供觀光客多一點的旅遊地點.

Construction on the new movie theater/shopping center is ongoing.  Last I saw, they had dug out a large pit where the old Guo Gwang bus station used to be, and they were laying the foundations.  They might even finish it by next year.  新的電影院工程正在進行中.  我上次經過的時候, 他們已經在前國光客運站上挖了個大洞, 也在蓋地基了.  他們可能明年就能把電影院蓋好了吧!

The County Government has also torn down that greco-roman structure at the Seashore Park, and replaced it with an "aboriginal" structure that resembles a colossal bee hive.  I always though the greco-roman thing was hideously ugly, and the bee hive is a definite improvement.  縣政府也把在海濱公園的寶桑亭移走了.  並在同一個地點蓋一個"原住民式的"蜂窩狀建築.  我覺得之前的寶桑亭好難看.  新的蜂窩好看多了.

They are, as always, building new roads.  Some of these new roads make a lot of sense, and are a vast improvement over previous roads.  Other roads, however, don't seem entirely necessary.  I'm not sure why they had to raise up the road next to the Forest Park.  It's much nicer now, but what was wrong with the old road?也一直有新的馬路出現.  有的路很有用, 讓台東市的交通比較順暢.  有的路好像沒什麼需要.  我不懂他們為什麼要把森林公園旁的路墊高. 雖然現在的路好看多了, 可是之前的路有什麼不好呢?

A dormitory for Taitung University is under construction near the Prehistory Museum.  I'm not sure how necessary this dormitory is, but it will certainly be nicer than the dormitories at the old campus.  在史前博物館附近正在蓋東大的新宿舍.  我不知道這個宿舍是否真的有必要, 可是這個宿舍一定比舊校園的宿舍好多了.

Just around the corner from this dormitory project is a huge coral jewelry store.  Anyone reading this blog knows how I feel about coral jewelry.  Every time I drive past this project I feel angry.  在這個宿舍後面也在蓋一棟非常大的珊瑚商品館.  看過這個網站的人應該都知道: 我很討厭買賣珊瑚的人.  我每次經過這個地方都覺得很生氣.

There is also a hotel under construction on Highway 9, just after the turn off to the train station, and I believe the Naruwan Hotel is building another structure closer ot the train station.  Further out, they are still working on the Shan Yue Hot Spring Hotel in Lu Ye.  They are building this last hotel VERY slowly.  在台9線, 靠近火車站的地方正在蓋旅館.  好像娜路彎酒店也要在火車站附近蓋另一個會館.  出了台東市, 鹿野那裡也有山月渡假村正在進行.  只是鹿野那邊的度假村蓋得超慢.

But not as slowly as the hotel at Shan Yuan, which as far as anyone knows will never open.  Local protests effectively shut down the place, and I don't think even the beach is "open" now.  I cannot comment on the legal status of this project, but from what I've heard the future of this hotel looks very doubtful.  可是蓋最慢的一定是杉原的美麗灣大飯店.  大家都認為這個飯店不可能營業,  它前面的沙灘也應該沒開.  我不知道目前這個飯店的合法性, 但是就我所知道的, 它未來營業的可能性很低.


7. "Disgusting" Taiwanese Foods (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2012)

Here are a couple of interesting articles.  The first is "10 Weird Foods I Ate in Taiwan" at the Teach English in Asia site.  Another is "The Most Disgusting Dishes in Taiwan" poll at Forumosa.com.

Some of the foods discussed in these articles are below.  Others have been excluded, mostly because they are not commonly seen in Taiwan.  Taiwanese people might like them, Taiwanese people might eat them, but they are not seen that often.

1. Chicken Feet 雞腳

I have never understood this food.  I've never found it disgusting, but there is so little meat on a chicken foot that I can't understand why people bother.

2. Stinky (fermented) Tofu 臭豆腐

If you can get past the smell, stinky tofu can be very good.  The quality of stinky tofu varies quite a bit, however.  I've had stinky tofu that was AWESOME, and also stinky tofu that was terrible. There's a place in Guanshan 關山, Taitung County 台東縣 that makes amazing stinky tofu, but most of the places in Taitung City are not good.

3. 100 Year-Old Eggs 皮蛋

Not a fan of this one.  I'll eat it if it's chopped up in something else, but don't care for the eggs by themselves.  The smell makes me nauseous.

4. Rice Wine 米酒

Not a fan of this one either.  I've tried to like it, but I'd rather have a nice glass of whiskey.  There are other Chinese wines I like, such as Jhu Ye Ching 竹葉青酒, but I have never liked rice wine.

5. Pearl Milk Tea 珍珠奶茶

How could anyone not like pearl milk tea?  It's is Taiwan's most famous food export, and it's also DELICIOUS.  I drink it all the time.  My favorite is the green tea variety.

6. Moon Cakes 月餅

How could anyone not like moon cakes?  They are so yummy, especially the pineapple ones!

7. Bitter Melon 苦瓜

I don't usually like bitter melon, but it's good in some things.  My wife makes a kind of chicken with bitter melon and pineapple.  The sweet and sour dish that results is excellent.

8. "O A Jian" (oyster, ketchup, and egg omelet) 蚵仔煎

Not really sure what to call this one in English, so I'm resorting to the Taiwanese name.  Oysters are fried with eggs, producing a super-oily cake thing that makes me want to retch.  I know a lot of other foreigners like this one, but it's not for me.  Something about the mixture of oysters and eggs turns my stomach.

9. Pork Blood Cake 豬血糕

I freaking LOVE this one.  It is my favorite thing to barbecue.  It also goes great with beer.

10. Other Assorted Animal Parts, Fried or in Soup

I don't have any problem with eating brains, hearts, intestines, eyes, or even testicles.  Those who do are probably from Western countries, and probably haven't lived abroad for very long.  Even so, I can remember my grandfather cooking up great big pots of calf brains on the kitchen stove when I was a boy, so such foods have a history in Western culture, too.  I wouldn't worry what part of the animal it came from.  Instead, just ask yourself: Is it good?

***********************

The above ten items are the big ones, and can be found just about anywhere in Taiwan.  There are still more disgusting things out there, but they are harder to find.  I've eaten dog hot pot, I've eaten bugs, and I've even eaten seahorses.

But there is one thing I would never, ever eat.  A long time ago I saw a show on the Discovery Channel, featuring an American who came to Taiwan to eat strange foods.  At one point in the program, he journeyed to Wulai 烏來 in Taipei County (now Shin Bei City), and ate an aboriginal dish that consisted of uncooked pork.  He ate this dish without hesitation, even commenting that it was "not bad."

Obviously this American has never been in Taiwan during Chinese New Year, when the newspapers are FULL of stories concerning sick pigs, swine sickness, and illegal swine farming practices.  Eating uncooked pork in Taiwan?  Definitely NOT a good idea!


8. In the News (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2012)

For most of us in Taiwan there are only two kinds of news.  One kind is the more serious, "adult" news that you find at sources such as the Taipei Times, Taiwan Today, Taiwan Panorama, and the Chinese-language newspapers that have fewer pictures.  The other kind is less detailed, and can be found in the Apple Daily 蘋果日報, Next Magazine 壹週刊, and at other sources featuring car crashes and sexy girls.

I generally prefer the latter kind of news.  I am not one of those guys who enjoy reading about the economy, about obscure wars in other parts of the globe, or about political maneuvering in the Taiwanese government.  Compared to economics, wars, and politics, I think car crashes and sexy girls are much more interesting.

So when I talk about items in the local press, please be aware that I am not the most reliable source.  I'll read the paper if it's sitting in front of me at the breakfast restaurant, but otherwise I'm probably on Wikipedia, reading about metal bands and comic books.

Recent news items include:

The End of the World As We Know It

As just about everyone knows, the world failed to end this week.  December 21, 2012 marked the end of the Long Count in the Mayan calendar, and hysterical people everywhere proclaimed this day the last day ever.  We weren't, however, consumed by jaguars or drowned in lakes of blood.  We are all still here, and most of us are just... fine?

Car Crashes, Car Crashes, and More Car Crashes

No point in going into specifics here.  Horrific car crashes are a daily occurrence in Taiwan.  The bus in the picture above wasn't totaled this week, but I'm sure another, similar bus will be totaled next week.  Be careful out there.  Getting home safe is far better than getting home fast.

America's Economy is (Still) Fu**ed

No huge surprise here.  Obama and Co. are trying to avoid some kind of "fiscal cliff" before January rolls around.  I'd like to blame former President Bush for handing US manufacturing over to China, but he didn't do it alone.  A lot of us (myself included) weren't paying enough attention to the kind of economic issues that really matter.  No factories = few jobs, and the service sector isn't going to make up the difference.

投資賠億元 夫妻摟2幼女燒炭 全家4死  (Family Loses 100,000,000 NT in Investment, Commit Suicide with Charcoal)

This one is from December 22, as reported in the Apple Daily.  After losing a whole lot of money, a married couple in Shin Bei City 新北市 decided to kill themselves and their children in the family car.  They did this by burning charcoal with the windows rolled up.  The wife left a note requesting that the bereaved not spend too much money on the funeral.  The two children, who probably didn't leave a note, deserved better parents.  I don't care how much money somebody owed.  Those kids deserved to live.

Gangnam Style, Gangnam Style, Gangnam Style

Korean singer Psy is just as popular in Taiwan as in the rest of the world.  Honestly, I think the only reason this guy is popular is because of the video.  I've already heard the song one million times, and I am desperately tired of it.  The road behind my house is a popular drag strip, and every other car on that road is blasting this song at top volume.

9. December 2012: What's Going On (2012年十二月發生的事) (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2012)

Item 1: It's cold, cold, COLD in that goddamn Flowing Lake.  But I go swimming there anyway. 活水湖超冷的.  但我還是去那邊游泳.

Item 2: My friend Mark (South African/surfer Mark) is going to open a bar in Dulan next month.  He is working night and day to get this place ready.  He's calling it WaGaLiGong 哇軋力共, which is Taiwanese for "I want to tell you."  下個月我的朋友Mark要在都蘭開一家酒吧.  他每天都在為開幕做準備.  他把酒吧取名為Wa Ga Li Gong (台語的"我告訴你").

Item 3: Chinese New Year approaches.  Everyone in Taiwan should be happy about this, especially since it will be THE LONGEST NEW YEAR'S VACATION IN HISTORY.  Really, I'm not kidding.  中國新年快到了.  台灣所有的人應該覺得很興奮.  尤其這次昰史上最長的春假.

Item 4: My school, Tung Hai Elementary, is/was having our Sports Day this Saturday.  The Sports Days are usually (not always) fun.  這星期六昰我的學校東海國小的運動會.  我們的運動會通常很好玩.

Item 5: A lot of people should be coming out to Taitung for New Year's Day.  I guess the sun is coming up here first.  The "sand run" in Tai Ma Li is occurring the same day.  Camping out on the beach?  Maybe.  Running on New Year's Day?  Hell no.  元旦假期很多人會來台東.  新年最早的日出在台東.  太麻里的沙灘路跑也是這個時候舉行.  我會去那裏露營嗎?  有可能.  我要去那裏跑步嗎?  千萬不要!

Item 6: Probably going to Ji Loong during the New Year's Day weekend.  My brother-in-law lives up there, and it seems like a good time to go shopping in Taipei.  I need to buy some new books!  我們新年那個周末可能到基隆.  我太太的弟弟住基隆.  而且我們也想去台北購物.  我想要買些新書.


10. Kodu and Teaching English (Kodu 和英語教學) (Taitung Style, December 十二月 2012)

For those who've never heard of Kodu, it's a game-making program created by Microsoft.  It can be downloaded free from their website.我來介紹一下Kodu這個製作遊戲的軟體, 它昰微軟所製造, 可以在他們的網站上免費下載.

Using Kodu, kids can create games playable on their PC or Xbox 360, and they can also share these games with others online.  Our school's computer teacher, Kai-ho Chan, told me about it a month ago.  I was skeptical at first, but after playing with it for a few hours I began to see a lot of possibilities. 小朋友可以利用 Kodu, 在他們的電腦或昰 Xbox 360上設計遊戲, 也可以在網路上和朋友分享他們的遊戲. 我們學校的電腦老師詹凱賀在一個月前告訴我的, 一開始我抱持著懷疑的態度, 直到我自己玩了幾個小時後,  我開始看到許多的可能性.

One of the great things about Kodu - at least as far as English teachers are concerned - is that it's only available in English.  This means that English teachers can use Kodu to teach the language, while at the same time engaging the students in the creation of a game.  The programming language used in Kodu is quite simple, and should be accessible to students with a couple years' English under their belts. Kodu的其中一項優點值得美語老師重視, 那就是它只有英文版. 也就是說美語老師可以利用它來教美語, 讓孩子在設計遊戲的當中學英文, 它的程式語言相當簡單,一般學過兩年英文的孩子應該都可以勝任.

Those uncertain about the accuracy of this claim should really check out Kodu.  It takes a while to install, but after you do it should be obvious that this program has a lot of potential.  All you would need is a computer running a newer version of Windows.  Once kids get started with it, it's hard to get them to stop!對我的看法有疑慮者應該實際操作看看, 它需要花點時間下載, 但之後會發現這個軟體有許多的潛力. 你只需要有一部較新版的 Windows的電腦, 一旦孩子開始操作, 就很難叫他們停止.

Mr. Kai-ho Chan and I wrote a unit plan for Kodu, which has been entered into Microsoft's yearly e-learning competition.  I would love to link that unit plan to this post, but I want to wait until after the results are in.  I think we wrote a fairly strong unit plan this time, but of course there's no telling until the winners are chosen.  When the winners are chosen - which should be two weeks from now - I'll be sure to put that unit plan online.凱賀老師和我寫了一份 Kodu的課程計畫, 也以這份計畫參加微軟每年舉辦的電子學習比賽, 比賽結果出爐後, 我將很樂意把課程計畫與大家分享, 我覺得我們這次的課程設計很棒, 但昰所有結果都要等到最後才知道, 兩個星期後才會選出得獎者, 我會在那之後把教案放上網的.

Oh, and  teachers: enjoy the four-day weekend!  Happy New Year!  Happy 2013!  Chinese New Year is on the way! 給所有的老師們 : 2013新年快樂, 好好享受四天假期! 農曆年也快到了!

P.S - Going to Taipei next weekend.  Our school's computer teacher and I advance to the final round of Microsoft's "PiL Competition."  Wish us luck!


11. Things I Did in 2012 (Taiwan Style, December 十二月 2012)

January 一月:

I must have wandered around Pingdong 屏東 for a few days, because the first blog entry in February is about Pingdong.  It would have also been Chinese New Year, so I must have been on the other side of the island.  I have a vague memory of being in Yunlin 雲林, in my wife's grandparents' house, but I don't think we stayed there long.  I turned 37.

February 二月:

I wrote about Jeremy Lin 林書豪, so this must have been when the "Linsanity" fad really took off.  In my other blog there's an entry about the horrors of driving in Taiwan, so we must have been on the road quite a bit.  I can also remember running a marathon in Tainan City 台南市 during this time.  I got food poisoning the day before, and injured myself while running it.  That was a LAME marathon.

March 三月:

Nothing eventful during this month.  I can remember getting drunk in strange places, and meeting new friends.  I must have been in Hualien 花蓮 at least once, because there's an entry in Taitung Style about it.  March isn't usually a good month for me.  The second semester gets going about that time, and I am usually too busy to get away.

April 四月:

"The Avengers" came out - or it was just about to come out, and that movie was a big deal for me.  I remember us driving to Kaohsiung to see it.  I accompanied our school's fourth grade students on a field trip to the "rice factory" in Guanshan 關山.  I started to miss Seattle, but not so much that I grew morose.

May 五月:

Misadventures in local bars.  Visited the Soya-mixed Meat Museum 臺灣滷味博物館 in Kaohsiung.  Must have gone up to Jade Mountain 玉山 at some point.  The third graders in our school went to the Anemonefish Aquarium 小丑鱼主題館 in Cheng Gong 成功鎮.  The weather was growing uncomfortably hot by May, and I remember sweating and showering a lot.

June 六月:

Went up to An-tong Hot Springs 安通溫泉 with my mother-in-law.  I remember getting some great pictures up there.  Not that it's hard to take good pictures in An-tong.  There was a large demonstration against the hotel they were/are building in Shan Yuan 杉原, Beinan Township 卑南鄉, and some people got arrested.  The semester ended around this time, and we were making plans to go to Thailand.

July 七月:

Craziness in Thailand and Cambodia.  We were there for a little less than a month.  We wandered around Bangkok, then took a bus to Ko Chang, an island in the Gulf of Thailand.  From there we took another bus to Siem Reap in Cambodia, and had an interesting yet somewhat frightening time in Angkor Wat.   After Angkor we wandered around in Thailand some more, and then came back to Taiwan.  I still miss the food I ate during that trip.

August 八月:

After Thailand, we drove around Taiwan for a bit.  Then a huge typhoon came and really worked over my school.  A bunch of people I don't know started emailing me about working in Taitung.  This happens every year.  All I could do is pass on what little information I have, and wish them well.  A lot of people come down here with unrealistic expectations.  My younger daughter turned 7 during this month.

September 九月:

Went up to Chr Shang 池上, but otherwise didn't do much.  School was starting again, and I was too busy.

October 十月:

Went to Far Glory Ocean Park 遠雄海洋公園 in Hualien with the sixth grade students.  My daughter is in the sixth grade, so it was a good chance to spend the day with her.  Attended a meeting for all of the English teachers in Taitung County, and it was frightfully boring.  Mostly occupied with work at this time.

November 十一月:

Laid off the blog for a while.  I was getting too far ahead of myself.  Met a lot of new foreign people and discovered some new restaurants in Taitung City.  Training for the Chr Shang Marathon.  My wife turned 37, and my older daughter turned 12.

December 十二月:

Decided to stop hanging out with certain foreign friends.  Didn't want to get mixed up in their business.  Ran the Chr Shang Marathon on December 1, despite another bout of food poisoning.  Hosted a short Christmas show in my school, and enjoyed the four day weekend at the end of this month.

Tomorrow is December 31, the last day of 2012.  I will be meeting some friends in a local bar, and maybe I won't be so drunk that I don't notice one year giving way to another.  What about you, my friend?  How was YOUR year?


12. Sugar-Apple, Custard Apple, Sweetsop, or Buddha-head Fruit? 釋迦 (Taitung Style, January 一月 2013)

The sugar-apple, like dragonfruit, is a fruit native to Central America. It is the fruit of an evergreen tree, and thus can be grown year-round.  The inside of the fruit is white and soft, and the fruit smells (to me) like perfume.  There are really only two kinds of sugar-apple: the regular variety, and the "pineapple" variety.  The pineapple kind was introduced from the US in the early 1900s.  釋迦跟火龍果一樣是由中美洲引進來的.  釋迦樹昰全年生的果樹.  釋迦的果肉是白色的, 聞起來像香水的味道.  常見的釋迦有兩種: 土種釋迦跟鳳梨釋迦. 鳳梨釋迦是19世紀時由美國引進來的.

A lot of people ask me how to say "shr jia" in English.  This question is difficult for me to answer, because this fruit is not popular in Western countries.  Every time I talk about fruits in my English classes, kids ask me about it, and I usually answer with "Buddha-head fruit."  This would be a literal translation of "fo tou guo," another (Mainland?) Chinese name for this fruit.  很多人問我釋迦的英文怎麼講.  這個問題很難回答, 因為它在西方國家很少見.  每一次我在英語課談到水果時, 小朋友都會問這個問題.  我通常回答的答案是Buddha-head fruit.  這個名字是從""佛頭果"直接翻譯過來的.

Whatever the correct English name of this fruit is, it's the biggest cash crop in Taitung County.  You can buy it anywhere along the coast, and it is grown in the rift valley as well.  Many tourists are herded into roadside "sugar-apple outlets" in places like Tai Ma Li and Beinan.  不管它正確的英文名字昰什麼, 它是台東縣最有名的經濟作物.  在台東到處買的到, 無論是海岸線上或山區都有.  很多觀光客都會被載到太麻里跟卑南的釋迦攤位.

If you have been in Taitung City at night, you may have noticed the bright lights on the mountainsides.  These lights are used to shorten the growing season of this fruit, enabling farmers to produce much more of it throughout the year.  As said above, growing sugar-apples is big business in Taitung.  如果你曾在台東市過夜, 應該在夜晚時看過山邊有很亮的燈.  那些燈是為了讓釋迦長得更快更多.  因為種釋迦在台東是很重要的農業.


13. "Little S" 小 S (Taiwan Style, January 一月 2013)

Come to think of it, I don't know what her full name is!  Everyone in Taiwan calls her "Little S," so that's what I go by.  Whatever her other name is, it doesn't seem important.

Like Jolin Tsai, Little S is also a queen of product endorsement.  She is on a lot of the Taiwanese talk shows and variety shows, and her sponsorship of organic products that turned out not to be organic was all over the news a couple of years ago.

I think she's BEAUTIFUL, even though I get the feeling that she's hard to take in real life.
























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2012年9月1日 星期六

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Older entries from Taitung Style and Taiwan Style.  To minimize space, I've deleted most of the pictures.  Ready to time travel?  Let's go!


1. Teaching English 8: A Tuesday at Tung Hai (Taiwan Style, September 九月 2012)

I work at Tung Hai Elementary School 東海國小 in Taitung City 台東市.  Here was my Tuesday...

From 7:50 to 8:40 AM we had a staff meeting.  I brought in an armload of assignments to correct, just so I'd have something to do.  You would think that the most boring staff meeting would be better than the worst of my classes, but I have never found this to be the case.  Even the WORST of my classes is still better than ANY of the staff meetings.  Staff meetings are, in other words, the bane of my existence.

During the meeting, various coworkers talked about various things.  Someone talked about earthquake preparedness.  Someone else talked about our upcoming English-language mentor program.  After everyone reported, the principal offered comments on what everyone had said.  He also commented on his own comments from last week's staff meeting.  Our principal is a great one for comments.

From 8:40 to 11:10 I taught three of the fourth grade classes.  The subject of my lesson was numbers and colors.  First I showed them a series of flashcards, then I passed these flashcards out.  Students had to come up to the front as I said phrases such as "one red ant" or "two blue dogs."  After than we played hot potato, and then there was a worksheet featuring a story and a coloring exercise.  At the end we played a game.

And the thing is that I really liked this lesson last week, when I wrote it.  But by now I've taught it to 12 classes, and the repetition is really getting to me.  It could be the most fantastic, enthralling lesson in the world, and after the fourth or fifth time it will still be intensely boring.

Ah well.  This is my life.

From 11:10 to about 12 I had a free period.  During this time I was correcting assignments from today and yesterday.  I was also writing this entry in my blog.  But not so much.

From 12 to 1:30 I ate lunch and took a nap.  Our lunch today consisted of rice, pork, and vegetables.  I never drink the soup.  Most of the teachers in my office sit together at a big table to eat their lunch, but I return to my desk to eat it.  I just don't like trying to have a conversation when I'm eating, and I also don't like feeling crowded.

From 1:30 to 2:20 I had another free period, so I used this time to prepare for tomorrow's English clubs.  These clubs are starting tomorrow, and I want to be well-prepared for them.  These clubs are usually more demanding than my regular classes, but they are also more interesting for me to teach.

From 2:20 to 3 I taught one of the fifth grade classes.  This was pretty much the same lesson I used with the fourth graders this morning, but after the rest period I found it much less irritating.  I keep telling myself that this "review period" will end soon, and after this period the classes for each grade won't be quite so similar.

From 3 to 4 is my prep time, but I have almost everything finished.  This means that I can sit here, and type this!


2. September 2012: What's Going On (2012年九月發生的事) (Taitung Style, September 九月 2012)

Here's what's going on in my world...  這是我最新的消息:

Item 1: My stomach feels much better.  I stopped eating sugary foods and drinks, and my stomach isn't bothering me at all now.  It took me a while to figure out what the problem was, but after weeks of altering my diet I finally found out that sugar was the culprit.  Those cokes I used to drink will be sorely missed.  我的胃好多了.  我最近不吃甜食, 所以我的胃沒再作怪.  我花了幾個星期的時間控制飲食,最後才知道是糖讓我的胃不舒服.  我已經開始想念可樂了.

Item 2: Moon Festival is this weekend, but a big typhoon is coming!  這個周末是中秋節, 可是颱風要來了.

Item 3: I am still exercising four times a week, though not for any specific event.  I run 6.5 KM on Tuesday and Thursday, and I will be moving up to 8 KM next week.  I swim 1.5 KM on Saturday and 0.75 KM on Sunday, and I will be moving up to 2 KM and 1KM next week.  I also bike 20 KM on Saturday and 40 KM on Sunday.  I'm pleased to say I haven't injured myself yet.  我還是每個禮拜運動四次, 但不是為了運動比賽.  我禮拜二, 四跑6.5公里.  下個禮拜開始跑8公里.  星期六游泳1.5公里, 禮拜天則游泳750公尺.  下個星期開始要個別游2跟1公里.  我星期六, 日除了遊泳, 還各騎單車20跟40公里.  我很高興地說: 我還沒任何的運動傷害.

Item 4: The Jung Hua Telecom Company is sponsoring a Reader's Theater English Competition this semester.  Teacher Tsai and myself have decided to join.  I have a strong dislike for these competitions, but for various reasons I'm going to do it anyway.  這個學期中華電信舉辦一項英語Reader's Theater比賽.  我跟蔡老師決定參加這項比賽.  我不是很喜歡這種比賽, 只是為了某些原因, 我們還是會參加的.

Item 5: There are quite a few new restaurants in town.  The new Sam's Burger on Kai Feng Street makes some great burgers, and the Leo Italian Restaurant on Jung Shing Road makes some excellent pizza.  There is also a new Tasty Steak Restaurant on Shin Sheng Road.  台東有很多新餐廳.  開封街上的Sam's Burger美式餐廳不錯, 還有中興路上的獅子座義式餐廳, 他們有好吃的比薩.  新生路也有一家Tasty牛排.

Item 6: I do actually read the newspapers on occasion.  Aside from the usual glut of crazy teachers and car accidents, there are the usual worries about the economy.  In my opinion, worrying about the economy is one of the most useless things you can do.  Economies are so big and so complicated that there's really nothing you, as an individual, can do about them, so why bother?  I think it is better to just live your own life, and seize opportunities where you find them.  Let the economy take care of itself.  我有時候看報紙.  報導除了瘋狂的老師們跟車禍之外, 還有很多是報導台灣的經濟.  我覺得經濟問題光緊張是沒有用的.  經濟問題又大又複雜, 個人的力量沒辦法影響. 所以我覺得照顧好自己的事, 為自己尋找機會比較實在.  "經濟"會找到自己的路.

Item 7: In other national news, a lot of people in Taiwan and China are very, very upset with Japan.  Japan, China, and Taiwan all claim sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, which lie between the three countries.  China's government is using this dispute for propaganda purposes, all three countries are eying the potential oil reserves to be found there, and the question of who really owns those barren, uninteresting pieces of rock remains unresolved.  很多台灣跟大陸人民最近強烈抗議日本對於釣魚台的行徑.  台灣, 中國大陸都認為這個小島是他們的國土.   台灣, 中國大陸和日本三個國家都想利用這個島的石油.  只是目前還沒確定這個島到底是誰的.

And that's it for me.  If you have the time, let me know what's going on in your world.  I'd be happy to hear about it.  那我就說到這裡.  如果有空的話, 告訴我你的世界的消息.  我會很高興知道.


3. Homeward Bound? (Taiwan Style, September 九月 2012)

My wife and I have been discussing our bi-yearly trip back to Seattle.  We do this every two years.

It's not that we don't want to go, but rather the cost of going.  Every year the price of tickets increases, and every year our daughters grow a little more.  As of this summer, our oldest daughter would be paying the adult fare back to the States, which means that we'd be paying almost 200,000 NT for our family of four to go back.  That's a lot of money to part with, and to make matters worse, we would need to part with this money in March, when tickets are reserved.  This gives us roughly six more months to save up a whole big pile of cash.

Not an easy thing to do.  Not an easy thing at all.  But of course, on the other side of that equation there are two or three months of Seattle, visiting with my family and friends.  The cost is high, yes, but it is weighed against the time we'd spend with loved ones.

I'm sure that many other expats are in a similar position.  For single people, this won't be such a big deal, but for those of us with wives, husbands, and/or children it can be a real burden.  Living between two countries is never easy, and requires many sacrifices.

Hopefully, at the end of every day, the sacrifices are well worth it, but it's hard to predict the future, and just as hard to balance present wealth against future enjoyment.  Yes, money is just money, but for every time we go back to Seattle I am a few house payments shorter, and also that much poorer when I return.  It's frustrating when we can't save any money.  It's frustrating when things need to get replaced, or fixed, and we don't have the cash.

I don't want to deny my daughters their American experience, but I also feel that we LIVE in Taiwan, and parting with all that money isn't the wisest thing to do.  Had we not gone to Seattle during the past few years, I could have put a down payment on another house by now.  Or I could have bought a newer, safer car.  Or we could have just gone on trips to other places, for a fraction of the price.  We wouldn't have the memories of Seattle that we treasure, but we would have more in the bank, and lives where we don't have to pinch every NT.

I really don't know what to think.  I'm still meditating on it.  My wife and I are still discussing the issue.  The issue is under discussion.  Part of me wants to say to hell with it, and just go anyway.  The other part wants to tell my parents that we just can't make it this year.

Whatever we end up doing, we don't need to make a final decision until March, when the tickets are reserved.  Here's hoping I win the lottery before then.  I could sure use the money.


4. If I Was in Taipei Right Now I'd... (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2012)

If I was in Taipei right now, I'd probably be at the Taipei Main Station.  I'd be getting off a train, and there would be so many people everywhere.  I'd most likely be on my way to the adjoining MRT station, and from there to some other destination, farther down the line.

If I was in Taipei right now, I'd be down the street from the 101 building, sitting outside the Starbucks.  I'd have a coffee in my hand, and I'd be looking down the road at the 101.  It would be sunny, and early in the morning, just as the big Eslite bookstore is about to open.

If I was in Taipei right now, I'd be arriving at the Danshui MRT station.  It would be late afternoon in the summer, and there would be musicians performing on the sidewalk outside the station.  My family and I would walk down the road to where the night market is, and it wouldn't be too crowded.  Just crowded enough.

If I was in Taipei right now, I'd be at the National Palace Museum.  I'd be there with only my wife, because my daughters lack the patience for that place.  All of the Shang bronzes would be on display, and I'd spend a lot of time looking at the "Going Upriver at Ching Ming Festival Time" scroll.  As my wife and I strolled through the museum, we would talk about where we meant to eat dinner.

If I was in Taipei right now, I'd be walking up a trail in Yangmingshan National Park.  It would be early morning again, perhaps sometime in March, and there would be rainbow-colored lizards skimming over pools beside the river.  The sun would be coming up from behind the trees, and the air would be cool.

If I was in Taipei right now, I'd be in a bar near the Jung Shiao Fu Shing Sogo.  The bar would be crowded with beautiful women, and perhaps a few handsome men, and they would have a selection of my favorite beers.  A band I've never heard before would be playing, and they would be great.

If I was in Taipei right now, I would not be in this office, typing on this computer.  I'd be much happier perhaps, but much poorer than I am at present.  All of those trains, and cups of coffee, and night market food, and tickets into the National Palace Museum, and taxi trips to Yangmingshan, and beers in new bars add up to a lot of money.

If I was in Taipei too long I'd be thinking about Taitung, and how much cheaper it is to type, and to imagine.  If I was in Taipei too long, I'd be tired of the crowds, and the weather, and the noise.  If I was in Taipei too long, I'd be thinking about going home.


5. Pingdong/Ping Tung County 屏東縣 2 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2012)


Pingdong.  What to say about Pingdong?  Well, to start with, it's the southernmost county in Taiwan, lying below Kaohsiung 高雄 and Taitung 台東 counties on the map.  It's sparsely populated - at least compared to other parts of Taiwan, and generally more difficult to both get to and get around in.  It is also one of the poorer counties, and the main industries are probably farming and tourism.  I can't imagine much else going on there.


The parts of Pingdong nearest Kaohsiung are more industrial, and less pretty.  These are the parts where you run into the most traffic, and where you begin to wonder why people bother to go to Pingdong at all.


At the southern end of Pingdong, which is also the southern tip of Taiwan, there is Kenting National Park 墾丁國家公園 and many other scenic areas.  The hostels and hotels in this area are plentiful, but most of them are not cheap.  The town of Kenting tries very hard to resemble Pattaya or Ko Chang, but doesn't quite succeed.  There are some good restaurants and bars around there, however.


The east coast of Pingdong is very remote, and has a predominately aboriginal population.  This is my favorite part of Pingdong.  I like it because parts of it are beautiful, and it's also a weird place to drive around.


Other parts of Pingdong can also be accessed via the Southern Cross-Island Highway 南迴公路, and also highway 199, which branches of from the Southern Cross-Island Highway.  This is a great area for cycling, though it is not easy to get to.  The Shwuang Liou 雙流 Recreation Area is here as well.


I would avoid the Ou Luan Bi 鵝鑾鼻 Lighthouse at the southern tip of the county, especially if you are wary of tourist hordes from Mainland China.  The park around the lighthouse is cool, and most tourists don't bother to explore it.  You will still need to pay the fee for the lighthouse, but if the tourists are unpleasant, it is easy to take a side path off into the park.


One of my favorite things in Pingdong is the aquarium.  It is easily one of the best I have been to, anywhere in the world.  And I've been to a lot of aquariums.  The aquarium is located inside Kenting National Park.


Kenting National Park is one of the less interesting national parks in Taiwan, but good if you like snorkeling.  It's mostly flat, and the only really scenic parts are up in the mountains.  The park can be a hassle to get to, but once you're inside the driving's not bad.


I go to (or through) Pingdong once or twice a semester.  It's a good place, even if it has some serious transportation issues.  Getting around there in a car is relatively easy, but the train doesn't stop anywhere convenient, and walking around certain areas can be less than fun.

This entry exhausts my supply of pictures.  If I want to talk about Pingdong again, I will need to go back and take more photos.  I've been wanting to explore Da Peng Bay 大鵬灣, and when I do - and when the pictures from that trip make their way back to my computer - I'll be sure to post them here.


6. English in Taitung County 台東的英語教學 (Taitung Style, 十月 October 2012)

Last Wednesday I attended a meeting at Kang Le Elementary.  The subject of the meeting was the county government's plans for English instruction.  In attendance were English teachers from Da Wu, teachers from Cheng Gong, and even a teacher from Green Island.  Besides these Taiwanese English teachers, there were also four Foreign English teachers on hand.  It was a crowded room.上星期三我到康樂國小參加一場會議, 主題是關於台東縣政府對於英語教學的計畫. 出席的英文老師有的從大武 , 成功, 甚至遠從綠島而來, 除了本土的英文老師之外, 也有四位外籍教師到場, 場面顯得很熱鬧.

The meeting began and ended with a speech.  I will not comment on the content of this speech.  Suffice to say, we were encouraged to believe in ourselves, and in all of the possibilities that each day brings.會議開始前, 後都有一場演說, 在這裡我就不詳述內容了, 大體上是鼓勵老師們要對自己的教學有信心, 每一天都是好的開始.

Between the two speeches, the principal from Hot Spring Elementary talked about the county's plans for English-language instruction.  He mentioned the addition of more Foreign English Teachers (FETs) in the near future, and the county's utilization of the Fulbright Program to cull these teachers from American universities.  He talked about the English competitions that come along every semester, and more specifically about this semester's Reader's Theater competition.  He also discussed the fact that many Taiwanese English teachers from other areas try to avoid working in Taitung, and also some of the peculiarities of teaching (and learning) English in Taitung County.  I agreed with the statements he made, particularly with regard to FETs in Taitung County.會議當中, 溫泉國小的校長談到台東縣政府對英語教學的計畫方針, 他提到未來將徵聘更多的外籍教師, 計畫從美國大學招攬更多人才來臺任教, 也提到每學期的英語比賽 , 尤其是這學期的"讀者劇場". 也討論一些現實狀況: 很多臺灣的英語老師不喜歡到台東任教, 而台東在英語教學及學習上也有些特殊差異, 我贊同他的見解, 尤其是他對於外籍英語教師的意見.

Afterward there was a discussion period, and this was where the meeting broke down.  We were separated into area groups, with people from the Rift Valley in the back, people around Taitung City in the front, people from south Taitung County to the left, and people from the northern coastal areas to the right.  Each group was charged with answering a question about local English instruction, and they had about twenty minutes to formulate their answers.之後有一部分的討論時間, 我們大家分成幾個小組, 鹿野,關山及池上來的人在後, 台東市區的在前面, 臺東縣南部的人在左邊, 北海岸線的人在右邊, 每一組回答一個關於英語教學的問題, 並且在二十分鐘內討論他們的答案.

The trouble was that we were all sitting in an auditorium, and it is really difficult for anyone to have a group discussion when they are facing forward, and the seats don't move.  A lot of people didn't want to join the discussion, and I can't really blame them for that.  In the end, a few people from each group tended to monopolize this activity, and what most people thought about the questions remained a mystery.問題是我們是在會議室裡, 很難有小組討論的感覺,  因為所有的椅子都朝向同一邊, 根本不可能搬動, 因此很多人不想參與討論, 我可以了解他們的感覺, 最後, 只有每組中的少數幾個發表意見, 大部分的人的意見仍是個秘密.

What struck me about the meeting was how little we discussed WHY our students need to learn English.  You would think this would have come up somewhere, but maybe it was taken for granted.  Or maybe the issue is too contentious.讓我覺得不可思議的昰: 我們幾乎沒有談到為什麼我們的學生需要學英文, 我以為這問題應該會有人提出來, 也許這是大家都知道的事, 也或許這個問題太具爭議性了.

It just seems to me that there are many different reasons to learn (or to teach) English, and identifying these reasons would be the first step towards setting goals and trying to reach them.  For example, are we teaching English for purely academic purposes?  Or are we also teaching English for aesthetic reasons related to personal development?  And what about local economic factors?  Would a broader English-language base help open up Taitung County to tourism opportunities?  Would it help students in their later careers?對我來說, 學習英語或是教授英語有許多的原因, 了解學習或教授的目的有助於設定目標及達成. 例如: 我們教授英文昰為了學術需求? 或是自我能力的充實? 還是當地經濟因素? 好的英語能力是否能幫助臺東縣發展觀光? 是否能幫助學生就業?

These would have been valid questions to ask, but there didn't seem to be any forum in which to ask them.  As it was, we were presented with a list of questions to answer, and it was hard to address other issues.  It just seems to me that before we get to the HOW of local English instruction, we first need to define the WHY. 這些會是很好的問題,  但那裡似乎不是個很好的討論場所, 因為我們手上已經有一堆問題等著我們回答, 所以很難再提出任何的問題, 對我來說, 在討論到"如何做"之前, 應該先需要知道"為什麼做"!

Anyway, those are my thoughts on last Wednesday's meeting.  There are other points I might raise, but I have raised them elsewhere in this blog.  Hope you have a happy Double Ten Day next Wednesday.  I know we could all use the break! 無論如何, 這些昰我對上星期三會議的一些想法. 我也對英語教學提出一些其他的想法, 這些都在我的部落格裡, 祝你有個愉快的雙十節, 啊! 我們都需要休息一下.


7. Dragonfruit 火龍果 (Taitung Style, October 十月 2012)

Dragonfruit is a big crop in Taitung.  It's not as big as bananas or "shr jia" (buddha-head fruit), but it's definitely not hard to find.  The first picture below, and also much of the information in this entry, were taken from the Wikipedia article on dragonfruit.  You are encouraged to visit both that article and the attached links if you are interested.  很多台東人
栽種火龍果.  雖然火龍果不是跟釋迦和香蕉一樣受歡迎, 可在市場上也是隨處可見.  以下這張照片還有些資料是從維基百科來的.  如果你想多了解火龍果, 也可以從"維基"上找到.

I love dragonfruit.  It is one of my favorite fruits.  I like dragonfruit more than everything except pineapple.  It has a tart taste, but it can also be very sweet.  The dragonfruit found in Taiwan is always red and green on the outside, but the inside can be either white or purplish red.  我超愛火龍果.  它是我最喜歡的水果之一.  我最最最喜歡的水果是鳳梨, 第二名應該是火龍果.  它的味道酸酸甜甜的.  台灣的火龍果有紅色的外皮, 裡面果肉是白色的也有紫紅色的.

The other English name for dragonfruit is Pitaya.  In Chinese it is called "huo loong guo," or "fire dragon fruit."  It is grown throughout Asia.  火龍果的英文名字是dragonfruit.  它另外的英文名稱是pitaya.  亞洲到處都有火龍果.

The dragonfruit plant was brought to Asia from the New World.  It is a member of the cactus family, and can be grown in a variety of climates.  火龍果是從中南美洲來的.  它是仙人掌科三角柱屬.  很多氣候都適合種火龍果.

There are three varieties of dragonfruit.  There are the two mentioned above, and also a third variety, which is yellow on the outside.  I have never seen this yellow variety in Taiwan.  火龍果有三種.  有白色果肉的,紫紅色果肉的, 還有黃皮的.  我在台灣還沒有看過黃皮那種.

The fruit can be harvested 5 or 6 times a year, though the number of harvests depends on whether the dragonfruit plant can self-pollinate, or if it requires local bats or insects to do the pollinating.  火龍果每年可以收成5, 6次, 收成的次數是看授粉的次數而定, 可是不會自身授粉的火龍果沒有那麼多的收成次數.  它們要靠蝙蝠或是昆蟲傳粉.

Dragonfruit is an excellent source of vitamin C.  It also contains antioxidants, and is low in saturated  fat.  I'm sure everyone in Taitung has eaten them, even the foreigners like me.  火龍果很營養.  它有很多維他命C.  台東人應該都吃過了吧!  台東的外國居民也是.


8. Bicycling Around Taitung County 臺東縣 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2012)

I've already covered this topic in my other blog, so forgive me if this seems familiar.

Bicycling around Taitung County is something I know quite a bit about.  I have lived in Taitung since 2006, and have been biking around the county for at least that long.  I started out on an old, rusted Giant mountain bike, moved up to a newer Giant mountain bike two years later, and about two years after that I began riding my CAAD 10.  I joined the "Love 197" (戀戀 197) race a couple of years ago (I was 15th in the 60 K), and I have also joined a couple of triathlons.

Taitung County is great for cycling.  For that matter, so are Hualien 花蓮 and Yilan 宜蘭counties.  There is a lot less traffic on the east coast of Taiwan, and a lot more wide-open spaces.  I think central Hualien, along highway 9, is probably the best place to go riding, but most of Taitung County comes pretty close.

I want to say, however, that I am not into long-distance cycling.  By long-distance, I mean anything over 60 KM.  80-90 KM will take you to the ends of Taitung County (from Taitung City) in any direction, and I have gone 80 KM exactly three times.  I just don't enjoy cycling for hours and hours at a time.  I prefer doing it in shorter bursts.

If you are looking into doing a bicycle tour of Taitung and/or Hualien counties.  Probably a good first step would be to contact the Giant bicycle stores in this area.  They offer many organized bike tours, the fees are minimal, and the tours usually offer a good lunch or dinner.  This is probably the best option for those who only have a couple of days to spare, and who don't want to ride to the point of exhaustion.

Aside from what Giant is offering, you'd be on your own.  But this is not necessarily a bad thing.  I rarely ride with other people, and most of the time I prefer to be by myself.  I don't enjoy trying to have a conversation while I'm cycling, and I'd rather not worry about how fast or slow other people are going.

If you don't want to travel the length and breadth of Taiwan, you'll probably be hauling your bike onto the nearest train, and getting off at one of Taitung's many train stations.  I would suggest the train station in Taitung City 台東市.  This is where most of the lower-priced accommodation is, and there's more to do around here.  Other places offer more scenery, but are far less convenient.

There is a bicycle loop around Taitung City, and this is the best option for those who only want a taste of cycling in this area.  The loop is 20 KM around, and the best place to start is in Taitung's Deep Forest Park 森林公園.  Many signs will direct you to the loop.  I should warn you that this loop is particularly vulnerable to whatever construction projects the county government has planned, so some sections of this loop may be hard to navigate.

Riding out of Taitung City is much more interesting, but of course involves longer distances.  There are really only three roads out of Taitung City: highway 11 south along the coast, highway 11 north along the coast, and highway 9 north through the rift valley.  Other routes are possible, but it's easy to get lost.  Distances below are round-trip.

20 KM north along highway 11 takes you to Shan Yuan 杉原, where they are building the hotel.  40 KM takes you to the other side of Dulan 都蘭.  60 KM takes you to Jin Dzuen 金樽Beach, and 80 KM takes you to Du Li 督歷, near the East Coast Scenic Area complex 東海岸風景區.  Another 30 KM or so will take you into Hualien County.

20 KM south along highway 11 takes you to Jer Ben 知本, where the hot springs are.  40 KM takes you to San He 三河 and White Sand Beach 白沙灣.  60 KM takes you to Tai Ma Li 太麻里, and 80 KM takes you to Duo Liang 多良, a village so small that you're not likely to even see it.  An hour or so further on and you'd be approaching the Southern Cross-Island Highway 南迴公路, and Pingdong County 屏東縣.

20 KM north along highway 9 takes you to Chu Lu 初鹿, where they make the milk.  40 KM takes you to Kao Tai 高台, where they have the hot air balloon festival.  60 KM takes you to Lu Ye town 鹿野市區, and 80 KM takes you to Guanshan 關山.  From Guanshan, it would be about 10-20 KM to Chr Shang 池上 and the northern end of Taitung County.  After Chr Shang, you arrive at Hualien County.

All of the above three routes are challenging, and caution should be exercised in congested areas.  Going north on highway 11, the steepest ascent is just before you reach Dulan, and you will need to be careful coming back down this hill.  Going south along highway 11 is probably the most dangerous, especially where the road narrows between Da Shu 大樹 and Jin Luen 金崙.  This is a high traffic area on the weekends, and many cars are trying to pass each other on the road.  North along highway 9 is dicey through the "green tunnel" 綠隧道 between Taitung City and Beinan 卑南, but after that it's smooth sailing.

Whatever you end up doing, please wear a helmet.  I've taken a dive off a bike without one, and I can tell you they are well worth the money.  Cycling can be great fun, but it can also be dangerous.  Take care of yourself, and have a good ride.


9. Greener Taiwan: Lonely Islands (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2012)

It can be hard to get a grasp on Taiwan's environmental situation.  Up-to-date information is hard to locate, and it is often hard to verify the accuracy of articles and interviews.  Taiwan's environmental policies are also spread between several government agencies, and are not restricted to the Executive Yuan's Environmental Protection AgencyThe Department of Agriculture also has a large say over Taiwan's environmental policy, as does the Bureau of Water Management and other, local institutions.  It can be hard to locate answers to even the simplest questions on this subject.

For non-Chinese speakers, a good place to start might be
Taiwan's Environmental Problems page.  The EPA website can also be informative, if a little difficult to navigate.  The Department of Agriculture also has information on this topic, and, as always, there is Wikipedia.  I regard this last source as less than reliable, however.  Especially with regard to things Taiwanese.


Of the above four links, I found the most interesting bits on the EPA's site.  In a discussion of a conference held last summer, mention is made of a strategy for "promoting land reclamation with a view towards zero waste in resource recycling."  What follows below is a quote from that article, which can be found in English
here.


"In order to solve the problem of insufficient landfill space and reduce the frequent incidents of illegal dumping, the EPA decides to draw on the experience of foreign countries and actively promotes the concept of using solid wastes to reclaim land and build landfill islands as a final strategy to dispose of waste materials that are unsuitable for incineration.  At the same time, the EPA vehemently communicates with the Maritime and Port Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Taiwan International Ports Corporation to gain opportunities for cooperation and policy support, in an effort to solve the ultimate disposal problem of Taiwan's annual 3.8 to 7 million cubic meter[s] of wastes and construction and demolition waste that are unsuitable for incineration."


In other words, the EPA is planning on using excess garbage to create offshore islands.  The garbage used will consist primarily of "construction and demolition" waste that can't be incinerated, and will help the government achieve its goal of "zero waste in resource recycling."  The EPA claims that the impact of these new offshore islands on the coastline will be minimal, and goes on to cite similar projects undertaken in Japan and Singapore.

The EPA has already begun an "environmental impact assessment" (EIA) of this project, and has yet to reach a final decision.  Meetings were conducted with citizen panels in August 2012, and the results of these panel discussions were submitted to the EPA for further review.


I'm intrigued by this project, and I'm also wondering where they might start building these landfill islands.  I assume that it would be somewhere off the west coast, near a major port.  I wonder how big they will be, and whether these islands will be used for purposes other than controlling erosion.  It's odd to to think about one form of human waste (garbage) remediating another (erosion), but I suppose stranger things have happened.


Such islands might also be used to store nuclear waste, given the central government's current disposal problems.  Citizens of Orchid Island no longer wish to receive this waste, and finding another suitable site on Taiwan's main island is proving difficult.  I heard about plans to dispose of this waste in southern Taitung County, though I am unaware of whether they carried out these plans or not.  Perhaps these landfill islands might prove to be a safer, less contentious alternative, though such an alternative would also carry a certain element of risk.


Whatever they end up doing, I'd be curious to see the final product.  It's not every day that Taiwan gets a new island.

 

10. Bad Times 2 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2012)

Bad times?  I can't think of anything recent that was truly bad.  Maybe unpleasant.  Maybe not fun.  But not really bad.

  • Riding back from a field trip at Far Glory Amusement Park 遠雄海洋公園 in Hualien 花蓮, with the students singing KTV all the way to Taitung 台東.  A three hour trip, with various sixth graders shrieking into microphones.  You can imagine the headache I had when we got back.
  • ...and the similar headache I have this morning, for completely different reasons.  Went to a friend's barbecue last night, and drank too much tequila.  My head is pounding, and I still have four classes to teach.  When you find yourself playing a bongo, you know you've had too much tequila.
  • The couple hours I spent riding my bike back from Tai Ma Li 太麻里 last week.  The wind was blowing straight down the coast the whole way, and it felt like I wasn't moving.
  • Getting mistaken for other foreigners who I don't even vaguely resemble.  Every Caucasian looks alike?  Is turnabout fair play?
  • Unexpected cold weather on the days I wear shorts, and unexpected hot weather on the days I wear pants.  There's just no telling with the weather.
  • Reading about the economy in the States, and suddenly growing very, very depressed in the middle of the bookstore.  I worry for my parents, who are growing older there.  I worry for my friends, whose careers may be in danger.

And that's all I have to say about bad times.  Not so bad, I will agree.  Here's wishing you good times, wherever you are.


11. Yilan County 宜蘭縣 2 (Taiwan Style, October 十月 2012)

These pics of Yilan are a bit old.  I took them about a year and a half ago.  I don't get up to Yilan as often as I'd like.


This is Su Ao 蘇澳, at the sourthern end of Yilan County.  It is a strange, empty place.  Their fishing port is very lively, however, and there is a large naval base next to the city.  Su Ao is one of the bigger cities in Yilan, but it's still very quiet.


This picture was taken right down the street from the Su Ao cold springs.  These canals crisscross the center of town, and the water is surprisingly clear.  I'm not claiming that Su Ao is some kind of ecological paradise, but it's clean as Taiwanese cities go.


This is a cookie museum, a cookie factory, and also a cookie store.  The exhibit above details the history of their company, and also how their cookies are made.  The "cow tongue" cookies 牛舌餅 produced at this factory are very famous.


And here are some workers making the famous "cow tongue" cookies.  It looks like an exhausting job.  This place makes several other kinds of treats, but I'm sure that the "cow tongue" cookies outsell everything else.


This is the Dong Shan River (Water) Park 冬山河親水公園 in Yilan City.  In the spring the weather there can be very pleasant, and in the summer the water can be a welcome respite from the heat.  This place is very popular, so it might be better to avoid it on certain holidays.


Another shot of the River Park.  Quite a good place for picture-taking.


This is the Traditional Arts Center 傳藝館, just down the river from the Dong Shan River Park.  The easiest way to get here is to take a boat/ferry from the park.  It's a nice place to visit if you have kids.


And this is the Monkey King, saying goodbye.  Have a happy Halloween next Thursday.  Look both ways before you cross the street.  Avoid breaking mirrors, and have fun exploring this big, beautiful world in which we (try) to coexist.


12. Ice Cream in Taitung 台東的冰淇淋 (Taitung Style, November 十一月 2012)

I know of two places in Taitung that make their own ice cream.  I will NOT say which one I like better.  Everytime I express a preference for food on this blog, I get into trouble! 台東有兩個地方自做冰淇淋.  我不想說哪個地方的冰淇淋比較好吃.  因為每次我說出自己的偏好, 都有人罵我.

Mei Nong Frozen Goods (美濃冰品) is just off Highway 9, in Beinan Township.  After exiting the "green tunnel" outside Taitung City, you will see a sign pointing you toward the Mei Nong Terrace (美農高台).  Just follow the road up the hill, and you will see Mei Nong Frozen Goods on your right side just after the bridge.  美濃冰品在卑南鄉, 靠近台9線.  從台東市走綠隧道之後, 你就會看到美濃高台的路牌.  右轉之後, 經過一座橋.  美濃冰品就在橋的右邊.

Mei Nong Frozen Goods has been around for quite a while.  They moved to their present location this year, and before that they were further up the hill, in the village of Mei Nong.  美濃冰品已經開很久了. 他們現在的店是今年剛開的.  以前的店在山坡上的美農村.

The Dulan Indian Cuisine and Ice-Cream Cafe is in Dulan Village, Dong He Township.  This place is much newer than Mei Nong Frozen Goods, and has a much better view.  I say this with all apologies to the people at Mei Nong - but really, on a clear day you can see all the way over to Green Island from the Dulan Cafe.  It's a hard view to beat.  東河鄉都蘭村也有Dulan Indian Cuisine and Ice-Cream Cafe.  這個地方比較新, 風景也比較好.  我很不好意思說出這種話, 我也想對美濃冰品的人道歉, 可是Dulan的風景真的好多了.  晴天的時候, 可以從Dulan Cafe看到綠島.  真是好美的風景.

But where the Dulan Cafe has a better view, Mei Nong has (at the time of writing, at least) more flavors.  Again, I will NOT say which one I like better.  I will not, I will not... even though I want to... really bad.  可惜美濃的風景沒那麼好.  但是他們的冰淇淋口味比較多.  我不說我比較喜歡哪個地方的冰淇淋.  不想說... 不想說...  很想說可是... 不想說...

Finding the Dulan Cafe can be a challenge.  At the time of writing, there are no English signs directing you to this place.  It is reached via Highway 11.  After you cross the bridge north of Dulan, take a left past Marino's Kitchen.  From there, follow the "Indian curry" (印度咖哩) signs to the Dulan Cafe.  A warning here: it's easy to get lost.  找那個Dulan Cafe有一點難, 也沒有什麼英文牌子指向這個地方.  從台11線, 經過都蘭村之後你會經過一座橋.  在Marino's Kitchen左轉.  從那邊要順著"印度咖哩"的牌子.  小心!  在這裡很容易迷路!

Check them out if you have the time.  Both of these places would welcome your business, and the owners of both are very friendly!  有空的時候來吃吃這兩個地方的冰淇淋.  他們親切的老闆會很歡迎你的光臨.


13. America 美國 (Taitung Style, November 十一月 2012)

I haven't written about America for a long time.  I guess I've just been thinking about other things.  我很久沒有寫有關美國的事情.  應該是其他的事讓我忙忘了.

The local, state, and federal elections have recently concluded in the States, and President Obama has been reelected.  I myself did not vote in this election, because I feel that expats like myself should not vote.  I've been in Taiwan for 13 years now, and my voting would be like playing a game I have no stake in.  Had I been living in the States a week ago, I would have voted for Obama.  美國的地方都市, 洲, 和中央政府的選舉已經結束了.  Obama再一次當選了.  我自己沒有投票, 因為我覺得住在國外的美國人不應該投票.  我在台灣已經十三年的時間.  如果我投票的話, 對我個人沒有影響, 可是對住在當地的人有影響.  這樣子不公平.  如果我當時住在美國, 那我就會投Obama的票.

Gay marriage was also legalized in my home state, Washington, and both gay and lesbian couples residing there are now free to marry.  I think this is great news, and I consider it a victory for people everywhere.  The comittment that marriage signifies strengthens all societies, and I can't see how allowing homosexuals to make this comittment in any way weakens this age-old institution.  華盛頓州以後的同性婚姻是合法的.  那裡的同性戀者將有這個權利.  我覺得這個是一個很好的消息.  我認為這是所有人的勝利.  結婚是加強社會結構的一種方式.  我不認為同性結婚會削弱這個功能.

Marijuana was also legalized in Washington and Colorado.  The legal status of this "legalization" is unclear.  Possession of marijuana is still a federal crime in the United States, so we will see what kind of legal troubles ensue.  If the various police deparments in Washington stop busting people for having less than an ounce, this problem might (I say again, might) resolve itself quietly.  大麻在華盛頓州跟拉多州也是合法的, 可是目前這項法令還不是很確定.  因為對美國中央律法來說, 持有大麻還是違法的.  因為這項原因, 可能美國的中央政府跟州政府會有衝突.  如果華盛頓州跟科羅拉多州的警察單位決定不抓持有大麻的人, 有可能這個問題會自動消失.

I have argued with many friends in Taitung over the above developments.  I don't know anyone who would have voted for Romney, but then again I don't hang around with a lot of conservatives.  There are many who regard Obama as the only reasonable option, even though they think of him as a bad President.  我最近跟我台東的朋友討論這些發展.  我沒有美國朋友投Romney的票, 但是我也沒有很多保守黨的朋友.  很多人覺得Obama不是什麼好總統, 但還是投他的票.

Everyone I know seems to agree with me on gay marriage.  I have a couple gay friends around town, and even though I haven't asked them about this issue, I'm sure they would be pleased by the news.  Maybe one day Taiwan can follow suit?  我的朋友都覺得同性結婚是好事情.  我在台東有兩個同志朋友. 雖然我沒有跟他們討論過這件事, 可是他們應該跟我一樣開心.  也許哪一天台灣人也可以同性結婚?

Opinions on legalized marijuana seem to be 50/50.  Some regard it as a dangerous "gateway drug," and others see it as a harmless diversion.  As for my own opinion, well, I can't be entirely honest about that here.  Let's just say that I regard marijuana as less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, and maybe even coffee.  對大麻合法化的反對和贊成意見各占一半.  有的人覺得它是很危險的毒品, 有的人覺得它完全無害.  我沒辦法在這裡公開我的意見.  我只是覺得喝酒, 吸菸對人體的危害更大.  有可能喝咖啡也是.

In other news, a lot of people in Seattle are happy that Soundgarden finally released their new album.  "King Animal," has been eagerly awaited by many.  I wasn't floored by it, but it's good.  另外,很多西雅圖的人很高興Soundgarden樂團最近出新唱片了. 人們期待 "King Animal"這張CD已經很久了.  我不是超喜歡它, 但是它很不錯.

I'm hoping to see Soundgarden play if we return to Seattle next summer, though right now that prospect is looking highly doubtful.  Ticket prices back to the States are likely to exceed 50,000 NT per person for a direct, round-trip flight, and I'm not sure if we'll have enough money.  We are also thinking about allowing our 12 year old daughter to go back by herself this time.  This would be a more affordable alternative.  如果我們暑假去西雅圖的話, 我很想去Soundgarden的演唱會.  可惜我們應該沒辦法回去.  從台北到西雅圖的機票有可能會超過五萬台幣一張.  可能我們的錢不夠.  現在我們開始考慮讓我們家老大自己回去.  她一個人回去的錢比較沒有問題.

Whatever we end up doing, I'll be sure to let you know.  It might be on the other side of the Pacific, but America is never far from my thoughts.  Those of us who live very far from our hometowns always remember: home is inside of us.  It is what we do.  It is who we are.  This is true of foreigners everywhere, whether American or otherwise.  無論最後計畫如何, 你應該會從這裡得知.  雖然美國遠在太平洋的另一邊, 可是它天天在我心中.  住在國外的遊子都知道: 自己家鄉永遠存在心底.  我們做人做事都受到家鄉的影響,   每個外國人都了解這種感覺, 不論他們從什麼國家來.

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