2013年12月1日 星期日

Blog Archive 28 很久很久以前的文章

1. Test #1 (November 2013)

Today is test week for me, so here's a test for you.  If you do well on this test, it is either because you know me or because you read this blog more than occasionally.  I'll not be providing the answers, so if you are uncertain about any of the questions, I would encourage you to relax, stop whatever else you are doing, and go take a nap.  The correct answers to all questions will appear to you in a dream.  I promise.

Name __________ Number_______________ Class _____

Test #1

I. Reading

Read the following story, then answer the questions.

What's my name?  My name is Timesthree Thehighest.  Not really.  What's your name?  Your name is Joe.  I think.  What's his name?  His name is Lisa.  He has some gender identity issues.  What's her name?  Her name is unknown at this time.

How old am I?  I'm 38 years old, but not in dog years.  How old are you?  I suppose you are as old as you are.  How old is he?  He's the square root of 33.  How old is she?  She's old enough to be trouble.

What time's my Chinese class today?  I don't have Chinese class today, thank you very much.  What time's your English class today?  I think it might be right now.  What time's his art class today?  I cannot say with any certainty.  What time's her computer class today?  Whenever it happens to be.

What do I play?  I play the guitar badly.  What do you play?  You play games with my emotions.  What does he play?  He plays with himself.  What does she play?  She sometimes helps him to play with himself.

1. What's my name?

a. Adam     b. Timesthree     c. both A and B     d. neither A nor B     e. a word of Hebrew or Latin origin

2. What does he play?

a. he plays a sinful game     b. he plays a spectator sport     c. he practices self-abuse

3. How old are you?

a. none of your business     b. too old     c. not old enough     d. old enough for trouble

4. What time's her computer class today?

a. at some time between the Big Bang and the Big Crunch     b. time does not exist     c. the answer will be relative, depending upon how many dimensions she occupies at any given time     d. I'm not stoned enough for this quiz

5. If his name is Lisa, does that excite you?

a. yes     b. no     c. I am too ashamed to answer truthfully      d. I am a homophobe, and I hate fags almost as much as I hate myself

6. Why are you bothering with this test anyway?

a. I had assumed that at some point it would begin to make sense     b. I still think that at some point it will make sense     c. I am in need of medication     d. all of the above

2. Music and Memory 2 音樂與回憶2 (November 2013)

I used to spend so much time looking for CDs.  Who would do that now?  Who would bother?  我曾經花很多時間尋找CD.  現在誰會這麼做?  誰會以這樣的方式找音樂?

At the present time, only people with money to burn would think of amassing a CD collection.  Everything can be downloaded now, and to find an actual CD copy of most albums would be either prohibitively expensive or altogether impossible.  It is not surprising that so many of the old CD stores have either closed down or changed their focus to DVDs.  In DVDs, there is at least a glimmer of hope.  目前, 只有很有錢的人會買那麼多CD.  現在從網路可以下載所有的音樂, 而且大部分的CD不是很貴就是很難找.  難怪很多舊唱片行封館或是改賣DVD為主.  賣DVD比較有可能賺錢.

But back when I first moved to Taiwan, at the end of 1999, the music-listening public was still very much interested in buying CDs.  Our internet connections were slow or non-existent, and the file sharing sites and software were a new thing, as yet undiscovered by most.  我1999年剛搬來台灣的時候, 大部分的人還是喜歡買CD.  那時候我們家裡不是沒有網路, 就是家裡的網路很慢, 而且P2P軟體跟網站還不是很受歡迎.

On the weekends, I would drive my scooter down to the intersection that leads into the Feng Jia Night Market in Taichung.  I usually did this late in the afternoon or early in the evening to avoid traffic.  There used to be a big CD store on Fu Shing Road, and another just up the street from there, closer to the night market.  周末時, 我常常騎摩托車到台中逢甲夜市前面的大路口.  為了避免塞車, 我通常選擇傍晚的時間去, 不然夜市開始後交通很亂.  那時福星路上有一家大唱片行, 靠近夜市的地方還有另外一家.

In the first store I could find newer music, though nothing too obscure.  I was 25 when I first discovered that place, so "new" was closer to what I was listening to back then.  There were also more girls in the first store.  At 25 and unattached, the presence of beautiful women was always a reason to go anywhere.  在第一間店可以找到比較新的西洋音樂.  我25歲的時候比較喜歡這種音樂.雖然說"新" , 但那是指我到台灣之前常聽的音樂, 這家店的美女也比較多.  25歲, 單身的我喜歡到這種地方.

The second store was more male-oriented, but they had more music that I liked.  Almost the entire second floor of that store was porn, but behind all the porn there was a wall dedicated to Western music.  Most of this Western music was rock-oriented, and some of it would have been hard to find even in the States.  I can remember buying a lot of Deep Purple there, and also a fair amount of other hard rock bands.  They didn't have a lot of metal, but their jazz and classical selections were pretty good.  第二家店比較適合男性, 可是它們有比較多我喜歡的音樂.  他們二樓到處都是A片, 可是A片後面還有很多西洋CD.  這些CD很多屬於搖滾樂, 也有很多CD連在美國都很難找到.  我在那邊買很多Deep Purple跟其他 hard rock樂團的CD.  他們那裡的heavy metal不多, 可是他們有很多jazz跟classical的CD.

When I think about it, those stores (especially the second one) introduced me to a lot of good music.  Because they almost never had my first choice - the easy, obvious choice - I usually ended up buying something that I didn't know existed.  These stores were the reason I started listening to artists such as Keith Jarrett, Strauss, and some of the more obscure prog-rock bands.  These stores were the reason I now listen to Sibelius and the Rolling Stones.  Sure, I would have discovered some of this music eventually - with or without these stores - but their selection (or lack thereof) - put them on my radar that much sooner.  現在想起那段時間, 我發現這兩家店介紹我很多我沒聽過的音樂.  因為他們常常沒有我要的第一個選擇, 最後我只好買我沒聽過的CD.  這兩家店就是我開始聽Keith Jarrett, Strauss, 和很多prog-rock樂團的原因.  我現在聽Sibelius跟Rolling Stones也是因為這兩家店.  就算這兩家店當時不存在, 我還是會發現這種音樂, 只是因為他們, 讓我比較早接觸這種音樂.

And besides all of this, hunting for CDs was a pleasant activity.  It was something you had to take your time with.  It was something that you could easily spend an afternoon doing.  It was, moreover, something you could also do in Taipei and Kaohsiung, if not Miao Li or Taitung.  找CD是一件好玩的活動.  它須要花點時間, 很容易整個下午就在找尋的過程中度過.  這個活動適合在台北高雄做.  在苗栗台東等鄉下地方則沒那麼合適.

I miss hunting for CDs.  For that matter, I miss playing arcade games, visiting libraries, and many other activities that computers have since obviated.  These are activities that have shaped me as a person, and I am sorry I have no reason to do them any longer.  我很想念尋找CD這件事.  我也很想念玩電動玩具,去圖書館, 還有很多因為電腦的存在而消失的活動.  這些活動都是養成我個人的重要養分, 我有點傷心, 因為我不再有從事這些活動的理由.

I often wonder what other activities I will grow nostalgic over, 15 or 20 years hence.  What other activities will become obsolete?  What other pastimes will fall by the wayside?  Will we still bother with laptop computers in 15 years?  Or will we only use mobile devices?  Will we still use cellphones?  Or will we have some as yet undiscovered technology that serves the same function?  It can be amusing to make predictions, but the truth of the future will undoubtedly be both more mundane and more fantastic than we, creatures of the present time, can imagine.  All we can do is gather bits of information from our own individual histories, review this information in light of recent developments, and make an educated guess.  我有時想15年, 20年過後我們會想念什麼活動.  哪些行為會令人懷念?  哪些活動會不見?  15年後人們還使用筆記型電腦嗎?  還是我們只用瀏覽器?  我們還使用手機嗎?  還是用什麼還沒發明的通話器?  這樣的想像很好玩,但是未來無疑地會比我們現在所能想像的更貼近生活也更精彩.我們所能做的就是收集我們自身以往的生活經驗, 藉目前的發展進步檢視這些訊息, 對未來的世界做一番推測.

Perhaps, in 15 to 20 years, I'll hear some younger man wax nostalgic about downloading music.  Perhaps at that point we'll have music piped directly into our brains, and we won't need to search for it anymore.  Or perhaps by then the recording industry will have completely collapsed, and the only way to find new music is by finding out about it the old-fashioned way - by seeing it performed live.  可能15或20年後, 我會聽到年輕人形容下載音樂這件事.  可能那時候音樂就直接輸入我們的大腦, 不用上網找了.  或是那時候已經沒有唱片公司, 所以要找最新的音樂就要回到以前的老方法---看現場演唱會.

I might like that future.  I only hope that in that future people still know how to play their instruments.  By that time, we might have all forgotten how.  我有可能喜歡那個未來.  我只希望未來的人知道怎麼彈奏他們的樂器.  到那時, 有可能我們都不知道樂器的彈奏方法了.

3. Racism in Taiwan (November 2013)

Is there racism in Taiwan?  Of course there is.  There is racism anywhere there are people.

The question is not whether or not racism exists in Taiwan, but what the nature of this racism is, and how prevalent it is in Taiwanese society.  For example, are certain racial attitudes obvious to the outsider?  Or are they obvious the minute you start talking to a Taiwanese person?  Are certain racial attitudes observable everywhere equally?  And how would a Taiwanese person define "race?"  Would their definition of "race" correspond to the Western definition of the term?  

These are just a few questions we might ask in the course of this discussion, though there are certainly many other, equally valid questions we could pose.

It might be useful to begin with the racial makeup of Taiwanese society.  Taiwanese society seems fairly homogeneous at first glance, but like anywhere the groups competing for power, influence, and status are numerous.  Some of these groups are divided from one another by linguistic/cultural characteristics, others by place of origin, still others by (perceived) physical attributes.

At the center of Taiwanese society are the Han Chinese, or ethnic Chinese, regardless of what part of China they come from.  This group represents 98% of Taiwan's total population.  This group can also be divided into Hakka (15%), Taiwanese (70%), and Mandarin-speaking Chinese who arrived with the Kuomintang (12%).  Do prejudices exist between these groups?  Certainly.  Could this prejudice be defined as racism?  I don't think so.  These groups hold too many characteristics in common, and the shifting nature of modern Taiwanese society has not really placed them into conflict.

Beyond the Han Chinese, there is the aboriginal population, some of which shares ancestry with the Han Chinese.  The aboriginal tribes make up a little over 2% of Taiwan's total population.  They are concentrated in the central and eastern portions of the island, though of course they often migrate towards places where opportunities are more plentiful.  Do prejudices exist between the Han Chinese and the aboriginals?  Oh yes.  Could this prejudice be defined as racism?  Certainly.

You won't notice this on the west coast of Taiwan - where the aboriginals aren't as numerous - but on the east coast there is plenty of racism toward the aboriginals.  I often hear (Chinese) people complain about the aboriginals - how they're all alcoholics, how they're lazy, how they have unfair advantages when it comes to certain things, etc., etc., etc.  It is not an unusual thing.  All one has to do to hear such stereotypes is to ask most people on the east coast what they think about the native tribes. 

Some of these stereotypes do, unfortunately, have some basis in reality, but people's attitudes can be a powerful barrier against breaking these same stereotypes.  I know plenty of aboriginal people who aren't drunks, or lazy, or less intelligent, but those aren't the people used as examples.  Our attention is often drawn to the worst that any culture has to offer, fair or not.

Then there are the foreigners.  Of foreigners - in many Chinese people's thinking - there are two types: the Western variety and the "workers."  The "workers" are the people from places such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and other countries poorer than Taiwan.  They are the people who come here to work in factories and hospitals.  They are the people who take care of senior citizens, who are employed by Taiwan's struggling manufacturing industry, and who live in dormitories.

As far as Western people go, is there racism?  I would say yes, sometimes, there is.  But it's usually not harmful racism, and therein lies the confusion.  Taiwanese society, being very insular, is loaded with stereotypes regarding Westerners.  But I don't think that these stereotypes represent the same kind of barrier that other minority groups have to contend with.  Yes, Taiwanese people assume a great deal when interacting with Westerners, but these assumptions don't prevent Westerners from getting married, getting a job, or getting a place to live - at least, not most of the time.

The one exception to this, for non-white Westerners, is employment.  Many schools do advertise and discriminate based upon race, and Caucasians are often preferred for many positions.  To be fair to these "racist" employers, many of them are attempting to screen out Taiwanese, or other nationalities that are truly unqualified for the positions offered.  Yes, they are discriminating, and yes, it's not right, but I don't think that it's always for the assumed reasons.  The owners of such schools must constantly guard against the suspicion that their teachers aren't really native speakers of English, and there are many foreign, non-native speakers of English that are working as if they grew up speaking the language.

For the "workers," however, life in Taiwan can be hard.  Attitudes toward them vary from the tolerant, to the exploitative, to the antagonistic.  They are regarded as poor and uneducated, and often as a source of dissension in Taiwanese society.  Many Taiwanese dislike them for "stealing" jobs from Taiwanese people, even if the jobs "stolen" are jobs that most Taiwanese would refuse to do.  One need only think back to Taiwan's recent argument with the Philippines to discover other examples of this kind of thinking.  During that argument I was reminded, more than anything, of my own country's attitude towards Mexico and Mexicans.

Are Taiwanese people racist?  Some are.  But then again everyone is racist some of the time.  We tend to think in categories, and we often (mistakenly) apply these categories to people.  So of course you find racism in Taiwan, especially considering that Taiwan originates from a larger, Chinese culture that divides the world into "China" and "Everything Else."  Taiwan is a traditional society, and tradition often makes racial thinking a part of everyday life.  In other words "Us" vs. "Them" becomes a question of continual importance.

But I wouldn't grow despondent over this.  I think the attitudes of most Taiwanese people are quite tolerant.  If they are racist, it is only because they haven't had the same chances to interact with those from different countries - not on the scale which one sees in the US, Canada, or even Hong Kong.  They often want you to point out their misconceptions, and this is a good thing.

To me, it is a situation far preferable to what I encounter in America.  In America people are obsessed with race, to the point where society is breaking down.  In attempting to erase barriers, Americans have limited their ability to communicate and to function together.  In attempting to "get to the root of the problem," Americans are making mountains out of molehills, and reviving old quarrels that are probably best forgotten.  In the American dialogue on race, one sees a society that is increasingly trapped in the past, and not looking towards the future.*

Society is, I think, something that should transcend race and racism, not something that should be defined by it.  No, we cannot walk around saying "We are all the same," but neither can we walk around saying "We are all different."  A society functions best when we achieve a balance between these two attitudes, and I think Taiwan is fairly close to achieving that balance.

That's my opinion anyway.  You might have another point of view.  If you do, I would be glad to hear about it.  We all have our differences - whether real or imagined - and it is good to talk things out.

4. Taiwan by the Numbers: People (November 2013)

While I was writing that "Racism in Taiwan" entry I came across a lot of interesting numbers.  I will be discussing these numbers here.  Most of these numbers have been rounded off, and should be treated accordingly.

You might find that my numbers conflict with Wikipedia, Google, or other sites.  This is because the information provided by those sights is not up-to-date.  More current information is available at the Monthly Bulletin of Interior Statistics 內政統計月報 Site in Chinese and English.

Taiwan's Total Population (as of October 2013):
23.36 million.
Taiwan's Area (Including Islands):
36,193 square kilometers.
Population Density of Taiwan (as of October 2013):
645 people per square kilometer.

In relative terms, this means that Taiwan's population is roughly the same as Australia's.  You could fit more than 200 Taiwans inside of Australia.  My home state, Washington, is more than five times larger than Taiwan.

Or, to put it another way, Taiwan is slightly smaller than Switzerland and slightly larger than Maryland, with around four times as many people as both places.  

According to Wikipedia, Taiwan ranks 16th worldwide in terms of population density, though their number for Taiwan's total population is off by about twenty thousand.  Assuming that the other countries on their list are also off by the same amount, Taiwan's higher rate of population growth may have put it higher on the list.

Percentage of Population 0-14 years old (as of October 2013):
Percentage of Population 15-64 years old (as of October 2013):
Percentage of Population 65 and over (as of October 2013):
Average Age in Taiwan (as of October 2013):
38.7 years old
Rate of Yearly Population Growth (as of October 2013):

These numbers should come as no surprise to teachers.  People in Taiwan are having less children, and the result is a relative increase in the 15 to 64 age group.  I have heard it said that Taiwan's population, along with many other countries, is moving from "young" to "aging."  This trend has had numerous repercussions on Taiwanese society.  As time passes, we can expect to see the 65 and older group grow to represent a much larger segment of the population.

The average age in Taiwan is my age, 38 going on 39.  I am thankful for this statistic, because it makes me feel less OLD.  I live in a rural place, where the average age is probably lower that national average.

The rate of yearly population growth is 0.27%, which is at least still growth.  Many countries in Europe are experiencing negative population growth.  The government of Taiwan is working towards arresting the trend towards lower or negative population growth, though it's too early to tell if these efforts have been successful.

Populations of Each City/County, From Largest to Smallest
(As of September 2013)*:
1. New Taipei City新北市: 3.95 million
10. Jia Yi County 嘉義縣: 801 thousand
2. Kaohsiung 高雄市: 2.78 million
11. Yunlin County 雲林縣: 709 thousand
3. Taichung City 台中市: 2.7 million
12. Miaoli County 苗栗縣: 565 thousand
4. Taipei City台北市: 2.28 million
13. Nantou County 南投縣: 518 thousand
5. Taoyuan County 桃園縣: 2 million
14. Yilan County 宜蘭縣: 459 thousand
6. Tainan City 台南市: 1.88 million
15. Keelung City 基隆市: 375 thousand
7. Changhua County 彰化縣: 1.3 million
16. Hualien County 花蓮縣: 334 thousand
8. Hsinchu County 新竹縣: 957 thousand
17. Taitung County 台東縣: 225 thousand
9. Pingtung County 屏東縣: 854 thousand
* I have omitted the outlying islands.
**I have combined Jia Yi City with Jia Yi County, and Hsinchu City with Hsinchu County, which were separate in the original document.  Separating them just seems weird to me.

No real surprises here.  It is common knowledge that New Taipei City, Kaohsiung, and Taichung are the most populous counties/cities in Taiwan.  I was a bit surprised that Changhua has more people than Hsinchu and Pingtung, but this is perhaps the effect of recent industrial growth in that area.

The county where I live, Taitung, has the smallest population of any county on the main island.  I like that.  I sometimes miss Taipei, but fresh air and less traffic are good things.

Racial/Cultural Makeup of Taiwan
Taken from the Chinese Wikipedia Article
Chinese - Taiwanese
Chinese – Hakka
Chinese - Mainlander
Taiwanese Aboriginal
Foreign Residents
No Reliable Data

The percentages listed above are VERY rough estimates.  The Chinese Wikipedia article cites the Republic of China Yearbook from 2008.  I doubt, however, that the percentages have changed much since then.

For those less familiar with Taiwan, "Taiwanese" in the chart above refers to people whose ancestors immigrated here from the Fujian region in China, and who probably grew up speaking Taiwanese/Minnanese as a first language.  "Mainlander" primarily refers to those who immigrated to Taiwan along with the Kuomintang forces after the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.  "Taiwanese Aboriginals" are an Austronesian people whose presence in Taiwan predates any of the Chinese immigrants.

Foreign Resident* Population in Taiwan
Census Taken by National Immigration Agency, 2011
Total Foreign Resident Population: 485,308
United States
South Korea
*Please note that the above table lists foreign residents, which I am assuming means those who possess a resident visa.  Those on work or study visas are, I assume, not listed above.  

The above information was obtained from the English Wikipedia article, but the numbers are pretty close to what I found at the Department of Immigration site.  The most recent information provided by the Department of Immigration is for this year, and lists the total number of foreign residents as being over 506,000.

It is worth noting, however, that the citation on Wikipedia does not refer to the source document used.  Just the same, determining the number of resident foreigners in Taiwan is a difficult business, owing to the fact that people overstay their visas, never register as residents, etc., etc., etc.

It might be a shock for many Westerners to learn just how small the population of resident foreigners from Western countries really is.  We are vastly outnumbered by people from other countries in Asia, and we are not even represented in the top five.  Foreign laborers are the largest group of resident foreigners in Taiwan, and there are about twice as many foreign men as there are foreign women.

Foreign Nationals Entering Taiwan (Land and Sea) in September 2013
Mainland China
Hong Kong/Macau
All Other Countries

Foreign Nationals Leaving Taiwan (Land and Sea) in September 2013
Mainland China
Hong Kong/Macau
All Other Countries

These numbers are for tourists and other short-term visitors, and are taken from the Department of Immigration site.  Most of these tourists arrived and left through the airport in Taoyuan, but a considerable number also arrived and left through the Kaohsiung Airport, through Taipei's Song Shan Airport, and through other airports and seaports.  The number who arrived by sea is only a fraction of those who arrived by air.

Of course the total number of arrivals/departures for 2013 isn't out yet (it's only November, after all!), but I can tell you that almost 3 million foreign nationals arrived and departed from Taiwan last year.  As you can see from the chart above, the number of visitors from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau approaches the number of all other nationalities.

There are of course many other statistics I could list here, but the above statistics were the ones that really interested me.  I feel obligated to mention the fact that many of the statistics found on the Monthly Bulletin of Interior Statistics (mentioned above) sometimes disagree with those offered by the Household Registration Office, which I also consulted.  As to which office is offering the better statistics, your guess is as good as mine.

5. My Grandma, Kathleen Johnson 我的外租母 (November 2013)

It's the end of November, and it's getting cold. The colder it gets, the more I think about Home.  When I start thinking about Home, I also start thinking about my childhood.  When I start thinking about my childhood, I can't help but think about my grandma.  12月快到了, 天氣開始變冷.  天氣越來越冷時, 我就越想念我的家鄉.  我想念家鄉時,  也想起我的童年時光.  更是強烈地思念我的外婆.

My grandma lived in an old house on a hill.  Her house was in Bay City, Oregon, not far from Tillamook, where they make the famous cheese.  I used to spend summers in that house, up until I entered junior high school.  By the time junior high school arrived, I was just getting to old to go down there.  我外婆以前住在一間山坡上的舊房子 .  那個房子位於美國俄勒岡州Bay City村, 離做起司的Tillamook不遠, 它們的起司很有名.  我小時候都在那裡過暑假, 直到我念國中後才停止,  因為我上國中後就覺得在鄉下地方沒有意思.

My grandma was a strange person.  Anyone who knew her would have said this.  She kept to herself most of the time, and she liked to argue more than anyone I ever met.  If the sun was shining outside, she'd try to convince you it was raining.  If the clock said noon, she'd try to convince you it was night time.  She brought me close to tears many times, but I sure did learn how to argue.  我外婆是一個蠻奇怪的人.  認識她的人都會這樣形容她.  她常常自己一個人在家裡.  也喜歡跟人吵架.  如果外面出太陽, 她會跟你說是下雨天.  時鐘的時間指是中午,  她會跟你說是夜晚.  她好幾次跟我吵架吵到我快哭了, 可是也因為這樣, 我真的很會跟別人吵架.

She drove this rusting Dodge around, and in the back seat of this Dodge was her dog, Tasha.  When I was little, that dog seemed enormous.  As I got older, that dog just seemed enormously stupid.  Tasha was quite possibly the stupidest dog I have ever seen.  她開一輛生鏽的車, 車子後座坐她的狗.  我小時候覺得那隻狗超大.  我長大一點卻覺得那隻狗超笨的.  那隻叫Tasha的狗真是我碰過最笨的狗的其中一隻.

When I wasn't running around in the woods behind my grandma's house, she'd be driving me around coastal Oregon.  She'd drive me up to Astoria to buy comic books, or down to Newport to visit the aquarium.  She'd drive me to rivers for a swim, or she'd drive me to cafes in Tillamook and Garibaldi to eat.  我不在她房子附近的森林冒險的時候, 我外婆就會開車帶我去很多俄勒岡州的海邊.  她有時候帶我去Astoria買漫畫書, 有時候帶我去Newport的海洋館.  她也會帶我開車到附近的河游泳, 或是開車去Tillamook和Garibaldi的小餐廳吃飯.

At night my grandma and I would watch television together.  My grandma was a huge fan of Johnny Carson and Benny Hill.  After Benny Hill finished, I would go into the living room and watch TV by myself.  My grandma's house was very scary at night, and I would try not to think about monsters waiting outside the house, staring at me.  夜裡的時候我跟我的外婆一起看電視.  她最喜歡看的是Johnny Carson跟Benny Hill的節目.  Benny Hill看完後, 我會自己一個人去客廳看電視.  我外婆家在夜裡有一點可怕.  我在那邊看電視都一直想著外面有魔鬼看著我.

My grandma died when I was in college, but I still miss her.  I miss her when I'm in Oregon, I miss her when I see Tillamook cheese, and I miss her when the weather turns cold.  She was a strange person, and she was often hard to be around, but she was my grandma and I loved her.  我念大學的時候我外婆就去世了, 但我還是很想念她.  我在俄勒岡州的時候想念她.  我看到Tillamook起司的時候想念她.  天氣開始變冷的時候我就想念她.  她是個蠻奇怪的人, 我有時跟她在一起很難過, 可是她還是我外婆.  我還是愛她.

6. Water Running Up 水往上流 (December 2013)

"Water Running Up," better known as 水往上流 (Shuei Wang Shang Liou), is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Taitung County 臺東縣.  It is in Dong He Township 東河鄉, about a half hour north of Taitung City, and just south of Dulan 都蘭.

As tourist attractions go, it's quite pathetic.  It's only a field with canals cut into it, and these canals give the water the appearance of flowing upward.  Really.  That's all that it is.  And I would estimate that dozens, if not hundreds, of people visit that place every day.

Then again, I'm not sure if most of the visitors are really there of their own free will.  Most of them are hauled in there along with countless other tour groups, as part of a circuit that Mainland Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tourists complete every day.  They fly into Taipei 台北 or Kaohsiung 高雄, they get on a bus, they are taken to a succession of bad restaurants and gift shops, and then they go to "Water Running Up," where they are treated to the miracle of water defying the forces of nature.

I visited "Water Running Up" in 2006, when I first moved to Taitung.  I haven't been back since.  Back then it was devoid of Mainland Chinese tourists, but this lack of crowds did not make "Water Running Up" more enjoyable.  My wife, daughters, and I walked in, quickly realized how lame it was, and left, never to return.

One thing I can't figure out is why more people don't try to sell things in that place.  There are a few people near the parking lots selling fruit, but I can't help but think that other people could also make a lot of money there.  A coffee cart would make a fortune.  With so many tourists getting off and getting on buses in that spot - every single day - someone's going to make money.

"Water Running Up" is quite boring, but at least they don't charge money to go in there.  If you take this into account, it's actually better than Chu Lu Pasture 初鹿牧場.  Chu Lu Pasture might have a better view, but it's just a glorified gift shop, and they charge an entrance fee to boot.

Maybe there are some people out there who truly like "Water Running Up."  I can't grudge them their opinion.  Just the same, there are much better tourist attractions on Taiwan's East Coast, and one need not bother visiting "Water Running Up" if you're in the area.  Anywhere north of Dulan is prettier, less crowded, and more interesting.

7. Code Breaker! 2 (December 2013)

According to the article on Wikipedia:

"The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a character-encoding scheme originally based on the English alphabet that encodes 128 specified characters - the numbers 0-9, the letters a-z and A-Z, some basic punctuation symbols, some control codes that originated with Teletype machines, and a blank space - into the 7-bit binary integers."

I have converted a series of letters into ASCII code.  Once you have converted the numbers back into letters, use the code provided in the "Code Breaker!" entry to convert the code into a message.

0110001   0111000
0110001   0110001
0110001   0110100

0110001   0110101
0110001   0111001

0110001   0111001

0110010   0110001
0110001   0110010
0110010   0110000

0110010   0110001
0110010   0110000

0110010   0110000

0110001   0110100


0110001   0110011
0110010   0110001
0110001   0111001
0110001   0110100

8. Goodbye to San Shang 三商再見 (December 2013)

As most people in Taitung City are aware, the San Shang Department Store on Shin Sheng Road is closing.  They are in the midst of selling everything in the store, right down to the clothes hangers, the racks on which these hangers were hung, and whatever else can be carried or carted away.  大部分的台東市民應該都知道新生路上的三商百貨要封館了.  他們現在正封館清倉,包括衣架跟吊衣架和任何可以搬走的東西都一件不留.

This closure is company-wide.  San Shang Deparment Stores, which could once be found all over the island, are now confined to Taiwan's east coast, counties in central and southern Taiwan, and offshore islands.  In all, there are only 9 stores left.  台東分店封館是他們公司全省僅剩的九家百貨封館的一部分.  之前台灣到處都有三商百貨, 可是現在僅能在台灣南部及東部看到他們的身影. 
The reasons for San Shang's falling profits should be obvious to anyone living in Taiwan.  In urban areas, San Shang just can't compete with larger stores like Shin Kong Mitsukoshi or Geant, and even in rural areas there are other, more attractive options.  San Shang occupies an unfortunate "middle position" in the department store market.  It's not big enough, new enough, or shiny enough for those with money to burn, and not cheap enough for those looking to save money.  三商利潤下滑的原因大家應該都知道.  在大城市裡, 三商無法跟新光三越或愛買這種大賣場比, 連在比較鄉下的地方,人們購物也有比較好的選擇.  處於百貨公司和大賣場之間的尷尬位子,  有錢的顧客喜歡比較大, 比較新, 比較高級的百貨公司.  想省錢的顧客還是會去比較便宜的賣場.

All of which is very depressing for San Shang, but not so depressing for me.  My family visited San Shang more often when we first moved to Taitung, but back then their only competition was RT Mart, far outside of town.  Things have changed quite a bit since then.  這對三商百貨來說是個不好的消息, 可是對我來說沒什麼影響.我們剛搬來台東時比較常去三商  , 因為當時台東的三商百貨的競爭者只有市區外的大潤發, 只是現在有比較多的選擇了.
I did find one neat thing at San Shang Department Store.  Because of their imminent closure, I was able to purchase a Sega Mega Drive for only 600 NT.  This was marked down from the original price, which was more than 1000 NT.  可是我最近在三商找到一個好東西.  我在那邊買了一個600塊的Sega Mega Drive.  這個Mega Drive原來的價錢不只1000塊呢!

And what is a Sega Mega Drive, you ask?  It's a little blue thing that plugs into your TV, and with it you can play many of the Sega Genesis games that I loved as a kid.  My version (there are different versions) has Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Shadow Dancer, FOUR different Sonic the Hedgehog games, and several other less famous, unquestionably less interesting other games.  很多人應該沒聽過Sega Mega Drive這個東西.  它是一個小小藍色的電動玩具.  裡面裝了我小時候最愛的Sega Genesis遊戲.  我的這種Mega Drive (有很多種) 裝了Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Shadow Dancer, 四種Sonic the Hedgehog遊戲, 還有其他沒那麼有名的遊戲.
I've been playing the Mega Drive every weekend for a few weeks now.  My younger daughter and I have already spent hours playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic and Knuckles.  It is, as my younger daughter likes to say, better than doing homework.  我已經連續幾個周末玩我的Mega Drive.  我跟我的小女兒也花了好幾個小時玩Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 還有Sonic and Knuckles.  她說玩這些遊戲比寫功課有趣多了.

If you live near a San Shang Department Store, I would encourage you to head over there, and check out all the stuff they're trying to get rid of.  At this point, they are almost giving stuff away.  That Mega Drive I paid 600 NT for?  As of yesterday it was marked down further to 400 NT.  That's probably less than the store paid for it.  你如果住在任何一家三商百貨的附近的話, 你應該去看一下他們要清倉的商品.  他們最近的商品價錢超低的.  我以前花600元買的Mega Drive?  現在變成400元.  那個價錢應該比成本價還低.

Or perhaps, for reasons of nostalgia, you might just walk in there to say goodbye.  也許因為懷舊的原因, 你也可以進去說個再見.

9. Merry Christmas (Sort of) (December 2013)

Christmas is next week, December 25, and I'll be taking the day off work.  I make a point of doing this every year, because working on Christmas makes me sad.

Not that I'll be doing much that day.  This year Christmas falls on a Wednesday, and my wife has to work for half the day.  I'm letting both of my daughters stay home from school, but at most we'll go for a bike ride together, or go see a movie at the movie theater.

As those who know me are probably aware, I am not a particularly religious person, so I won't be spending Christmas thinking about how Jesus died for my sins, or how the three wise men followed a star to find him in a manger, or how I should go to church more often.  My family has never celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday.

I also won't be sipping eggnog, or opening a lot of presents.  I hate eggnog, and my wife and I have decided to forego presents this year.  Instead, we are taking our daughters to Kaohsiung on the weekend just before the holiday, and once there we will be selecting our own presents from whatever Dream Mall has to offer.  My mom and dad did send some presents over, and we'll be opening these on Christmas Day, but these presents will be opened in the absence of any Christmas trees, any snow, and any Christmas carols.

Sounds kind of sad, right?  Such is Christmas in Taiwan.  After a while it tends to lose its meaning, especially if you're surrounded by a predominantly Buddhist population which doesn't place much importance on the holiday.  Chinese New Year in Taiwan can be a blast, but Christmas?  Kind of a non-event.

And I might try harder with regard to Christmas, except my daughters don't care much about it either.  They are almost as Taiwanese as other kids, and their attention is focused elsewhere.  They have fond memories of the few Christmases spent in Seattle, when it REALLY meant something, but by now they're largely oblivious to it.  Of course they're happy to get presents, and they're happy to take a day off school, but for them Christmas is nothing compared to other, louder, more Chinese holidays.

Just the same, I try to keep Christmas alive in my family.  It's important to me.  I consider Christmas my time to rest, and my time to remember the importance of family and friends.  I also want to celebrate Christmas because it represents the culture I come from.  Christmas is Home, no matter how far away Home might be.

Here's wishing you a merry Christmas.  It might not be Chinese New Year, but it is worth remembering. 

10. Intro 6 (December 2013)

Yesterday I asked an adult class to respond to a series of questions in writing.  I have added my own responses to the questions.  Keep in mind that they only had 7 minutes to answer these questions, and they were responding in a second language.  I have corrected spelling and grammar where necessary.

1. What is important to you?

A: Family is most important to me.
B: Health and family are important to me.
C: Money is important to me.
D: The most important thing is to teach well every day.
E: To always improve myself is important to me.
G: My family
H: My family is important to me.
I: All of the above.  I would only add "fun" to this list.

2. What do you like?

A: I like to create activities and curriculum for children.
B: I like to read and cook.
C: I like my children.
D: When I have free time, I like to watch TV.
E: I like to study English, cook, and work out.
F: I like studying English.
G: I like eating food.
H: I like watching TV.
I: I like running, eating good food, swimming, reading good books, and exploring new places.

3. What do you NOT like?

C: I don't like my work.
D: I don't like to take care of my children every day.
E: I don't like to feel bored, and to deal with jealous people.
G: I don't like watching TV.
H: I don't like running.
I: I don't like excessive amounts of rain and mosquitoes in my room when I'm trying to sleep.

4. Where do you live?

C: I live in Taitung 台東.
D: I live on Jung Hua 中華 Road, section 3.
F: I live in Taitung.
G: Taitung
H: I live in Taitung.
I: In Taitung, of course.

5. Do you like where you live?

A: I like the city where I live.
C: I would like to live in Japan.
D: I like where I live.
E: I like where I live.
G: Yes, I do.
H: I like to live in Taitung.
I: Yes, I do.

6. Who is in your family?

D: There are six people in my family.
E: My brother-in-law, his family, my husband, and me.
G: My husband, myself, and our two daughters.
H: My father, my mother, my wife, and my two sons.
I: Me, my wife, and my two daughters in Taitung.  We have other family all over the world.

7. What is your favorite animal?

A: My favorite animal is the owl.
C: My favorite animals are dogs.
D: Rabbits are my favorite animals.
E: My favorite animal is the dog.
G: I like horses.
H: I don't like any animals.
I: I like otters, because they always seem to have a good time.

8. What is your favorite color?

A: I like white.
C: My favorite color is green.
E: My favorite color is purple.
F: My favorite color is red.
G: Purple.
H: My favorite color is blue.
I: I like green.

9. What do you want to be doing in five years?

B: I want to be living in a big house.
E: I want to be a very rich woman.
F: I plan to retire and travel the world.
G: I want to join more running and bicycling events.
H: I want to travel around the world in five years.
I: I would like to be living on a piece of land somewhere in Taitung County.

10. What is a memory from your childhood?

E: My childhood memories are very happy.
G: I cried every day.
H: I don't remember anything from my childhood.
I: I remember being near the ocean with my mother and my grandmother.  I was holding these comic books, but the wind blew them away.  The comic books fell into the ocean, or else disappeared altogether.  I remember being very sad about this.

11. Do you enjoy your work?

A: I enjoy my job very much.
B: I like my job because it's interesting.
C: Sometimes I enjoy my work, sometimes I don't.
E: I enjoy my work.
F: I enjoy my work every day.
G: Yes, I do.
H: Yes, I enjoy my work.
I: Yes, most of the time.  Sometimes people make me mad, but I think that's normal.

12. Do you have any plans for Chinese New Year?

B: I will be cleaning my house during Chinese New Year.
C: I will travel to many places with my family during Chinese New Year.
F: I will be with my family during New Year.
G: I will go to Taipei and Taichung.  I will eat, sleep, and play well.
H: I will go to Taipei on Chinese New Year.
I: I will most likely be in Ji Loong 基隆 again, and from there I'm sure we'll venture into Taipei.

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