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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