2015年10月30日 星期五

How Not to Get to Our House by Going the Wrong Way 迷路了


What?  No GPS?  Where are you?  什麼?  GPS沒用?  你們在哪裡?

Jung Hua Road?  Where on Jung Hua Road?  Downtown?  Near the Forest Park?  On the way to Jer Ben?  中華路?  中華路哪裡?  在市區嗎?  還是靠近森林公園?  還是往知本的方向?

Oh, OK.  Jung Hua and Ma Heng Heng.  Which way are you facing?  Is the Forest Park in front of you?  Or are you headed into town?  好, 好.  中華跟馬亨亨那個路口.  你們面對哪一個方向?  森林公園在你前面嗎?  還是你們正往市區的方向?

Got it.  So take a left onto Ma Heng Heng.  Yeah, follow that for a while.  Keep going.  Do you see the big brown apartment complex on your left?  Yeah, take a left there.  Now you're on a big road, right?  There should be a 7-11 on your right.  Stop there and I'll come over.  我知道了.  你們要在馬亨亨左轉.  順著那條路沒錯.  繼續走.  你們看到左邊一棟咖啡色的公寓大樓嗎?  對, 在那裡左轉.  現在你們在一條大馬路上對不對?  你們右邊應該有一家7-11.  在那邊停車, 我過去找你們.

Dinner?  I don't know.  We'll decide when you get here.  I know a few places.  晚餐?  我不知道.  你們到我們家後再決定.  我知道幾家餐廳.

What?  No 7-11?  Where are you now?  A big intersection?  A big intersection where?  What do you see?  What road are you on?  什麼?  沒有7-11!  你們在哪裡?  大路口嗎?  哪一個大路口?  你們看到什麼?  你們在哪一條路上?

Jung Shing and Geng Sheng?  You went too far.  Take a left there, onto Geng Sheng.  Keep going down.  You'll come to a big traffic circle.  On your right there'll be a furniture store, and on your left there'll be a big white building with a post office on the first floor.  You see it?  Good, take a left there.  中興跟更生嗎?  你們走太遠了.  從那邊左轉到更生路, 順著路直走.  你們會到一個大圓形的交叉路口.  你們右邊會有一家家具店, 左邊會有棟白色的大樓.  白色大樓的一樓是郵局.  看到嗎?  好.  在那裡左轉.

Now you're on Chuan Guang Road, right?  OK, keep going straight.  You'll go through a big intersection.  Keep going straight.  OK, there will be a 7-11 on your right.  Do you see it?  Stop there.  你們在傳廣路吧.  好, 要直走.  你們會經過一個大路口.  繼續走.  好, 你們右邊應該有一家7-11.  看到嗎?  在那裏停車.

What?  No 7-11?  How are you not seeing the 7-11?  Where are you now?  OK, then what do you see?  什麼?  沒有7-11喔.  沒看到7-11?  你們在哪裡?  好, 好.  你們看到什麼東西?

A school?  Is it Bao Sang Junior High?  Man, you're going the wrong way.  Where are you now?  Ma Heng Heng?  Oh man, you need to stop.  學校嗎?  是不是寶桑國中?  天啊!  你們走錯路了.  現在在哪裡?  馬亨亨對不對?  你們需要把車停下來.

Just stay there.  I'm coming over.  停在那邊就好了.  我現在過去!

Related Entries 相關的文章: 

Stepping Out 走到戶外
Restaurants I Like in Taitung County 我在台東縣喜歡的餐廳
Nine Years
The Rumor Mill 謠言

The Justice League of America v. Taiwan (Part One of Three)

 
Back in the late 70s, after Taiwan lost its seat in the U.N., the Taipei Economic and Cultural Affairs Office (TECO), organized an island-wide activity to reaffirm America's commitment to a free and democratic Taiwan.

To this end they invited America's most famous superheroes, the Justice League of America, over for a tour of Taiwan.  They would have invited the Marvel superheroes as well, but they were already engaged in a similar "goodwill tour" of Mainland Chinese industrial centers.  This kind of situation was an often-seen result of Kissinger-era geopolitics, with the DC and the Marvel superheroes serving different, and sometimes competing, goals within U.S. foreign policy.

Early on it was agreed that only half of the League would tour Taiwan during the first week, with the other half touring Taiwan during the second week.  At that time the JLA's roster consisted of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and the Flash, so for the purposes of the tour the superheroes were divided into two groups of three.  Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman would visit first, and during the following week the Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and the Flash would visit after the first three superheroes had departed.

Monday

The anticipation was palpable at the new Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Airport as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman arrived in Taiwan.  Wonder Woman was flying her invisible jet, Batman piloted his Batwing, and Superman characteristically descended without the aid of machinery.

"Greetings, Taiwan!" said Superman to enormous applause.  President Chiang Ching-kuo and the head of the TECO office were seated before them, in front of a huge welcoming committee, and they had risen along with many others to greet the Man of Steel.  As Chiang Ching-kuo offered a warm, Western-style handshake to Superman he ogled Wonder Woman, taking in the bounty of her Amazonian form and her scarcity of clothing.  Batman he also greeted warmly, commenting upon the auspicious nature of bats in traditional Chinese culture. 
      
“I got lost three times on the way over here,”fumbled Wonder Woman as she timidly shook the President’s hand.  “You know how we women are with directions!  Why if I didn’t have these two fellows to point me in the right direction, I never would have made it!”

Back then north Taiwan was much dirtier than it is now, and much more difficult to navigate.  The airport (which we now refer to as Terminal 1) where the superheroes met the representatives of the R.O.C.,  had just been constructed, and most of the roads between there and Taipei, the capital, were in bad condition.  A newer two-lane highway led from the airport to Taiwan's first freeway, itself not much older than the airport, yet besides these few, gleaming symbols of modernity there were endless small villages between rice fields, canals choked with refuse, and tanned, squinting farmers who emerged from brick houses within view of the airport.

"What a dump," whispered Superman as they were ushered into a waiting limousine.  "This place has nothing on Metropolis."

Various officials ushered the Americans into a waiting limousine.  The President was in a second limousine, with the three superheroes’ limousine following at a respectful distance.  Having passed through the formalities of their arrival, the superheroes allowed themselves to relax a bit, and gave vent to some of the feelings and impressions that had been forming since they had approached the island.  It had looked very beautiful as they had flown in from the east, but on the ground Taiwan took on a different cast.

"Fucking chinks," said the Man of Steel as he put an arm around Wonder Woman, "I figured this place would look like shit.  These people don't know how to take care of themselves.  They're dirty.  After I became mayor of Metropolis, one of the first things I did was to kick them out.  You can't trust these people.  They're shifty!"

"You might want to tone down the racial talk," said Batman from the other side of the car, "The driver might be listening to us."

"I don't give a shit," said Superman.  Then, to Wonder Woman, "Isn't that right, honey?"

"Anyway," added the Kryptonian to Batman, "After we get settled in Taipei we'll get you set up with some Asian pussy, Bruce!  I know what a pussy fiend you are!"

And as he said this the driver smirked knowingly, his eyes glinting at the three from the rearview mirror.  The limousine exited onto the island's main freeway, and they headed north toward Taipei.

Tuesday

At that time Taipei lacked the gleaming glass and steel high-rises that it's known for today.  The buildings were much lower to the ground, and brown, white, and gray were the dominant colors.  The mountains, however, still gleamed emerald around the capital, and the skies still shimmered with a subtropical haze.

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were put up in a hotel near the Presidential Palace.  This hotel was very Western in appearance, with large windows and a swimming pool. 

The superheroes were treated to a Western-style breakfast with various functionaries, and afterward they were led to a large auditorium where speeches were given.  Chiang Ching-kuo was the first to give a speech, which was followed by speeches by several other members of the government.  These speeches were translated from Mandarin into English for the superheroes, and at various points in the speeches Superman farted loudly.

Then the Americans took the stage.  Superman offered a short yet rambling speech that made little sense to anyone.  Batman offered a better speech stressing economic cooperation.  Wonder Woman encouraged the women of Taiwan to be more submissive to their husbands, and to never try too hard at sports.

Later that evening there was a gala dinner held for the visiting superpowered dignitaries at the hotel where they were staying.  A popular Taiwanese singer commanded the stage, and members of the audience started dancing around an open space in the center of the ballroom.  Batman found himself the center of female attention that evening, with several unaccompanied females surrounding him at a corner table.  Wonder Woman and Superman found themselves alone at another table, and they took great pleasure in ignoring those who ventured near them.

"Look at that guy," said Superman to his Amazonian companion, "Guy could get pussy at a faggot convention.  Well at least I've got you, right honey?  And oh yeah - I've got Lois, too!  Good thing she can't see us here together!  Think of how jealous she'd be!"

Wonder Woman gazed off into the distance, not wanting to encourage him.  The term "date rape" hadn't been invented yet, but it would have described Kal-el's method of courtship perfectly.  She could feel his eyes upon her breasts, and hoped that his heat vision wouldn't leave any marks upon her person.

Just then a familiar-looking waiter came over and offered them two glasses, each containing a green liquid.  "What the hell is this?" asked Superman.

"It is a drink my company has invented," said the waiter.  "I call it Super Supau.  It is what we are calling a sports drink.  Soon you Americans will have them as well.  It will give you energy!"

"Really?" scoffed Superman, "Well I am tired.  Looks weird though.  Anyway, down the hatch..."

The waiter's eyes glinted as the two superheroes drank down the proffered beverage.  It was only then that Wonder Woman recognized him as the man who had driven their limousine the day before. 

"Tastes funny, too," said Superman, "But I kind of..."

He stopped, and slowly rose to his feet.  "But I kind of..."

And then clutching at his belly, he emitted the most pitiful groan that Wonder Woman had ever heard, and dropped to the floor, stone dead.

"Yes," said the waiter/driver, "Super Supau.  And the active ingredient is kryptonite.  I learned about such things in Metropolis, where I attended university.  Just before you had us ‘chinks’ kicked out!"

"Oh my God!  You've killed him!" shouted Wonder Woman, "You murderer!"

But the waiter/driver had already disappeared into the dancing couples before she had finished her exclamation, and no one heard them over the music.  She looked down at the corpse of Superman, wondering what else could go wrong, and why.

Wednesday

Wonder Woman grew quite hysterical after the death of Superman, to the point that a tranquilizer was dropped into a glass of water and given to her.  Several hotel staff members carried her back to her room, where she awoke the next morning.

As for Batman, he was nowhere to be found.  Wonder Woman arose from bed very confused the following morning, and her inquiries into the whereabouts of Batman were all met with an embarrassed silence.


Eventually she had to remind herself that she was a superhero, too, and that even though it was the men who did all the heavy lifting, and jar opening, and all of the really heroic tasks, she had learned a thing or two on Paradise Island.  She could bake an upside-down cake, couldn't she?  She could mend a tear in Aquaman's chain-mail, couldn't she?  And who else could operate the Justice League's washer/dryer unit if not her?


So, after gathering up all of her Amazonian courage, after carefully applying her makeup and combing her long, lustrous black hair, she left her room and accosted the first person she met.  "WHERE IS BATMAN?!" she roared at the helpless maid, "WHAT HAVE YOU PEOPLE DONE WITH BATMAN?!?"


A police officer quickly walked over from the other end of the hall, and after placing himself between the maid and the furious Amazon he took her to a room downstairs, where he seated her at a table.  Soon another man in a suit arrived, and he sat down across from her.  They were in a small room on the first floor, and there were many windows looking out on the hotel's swimming pool.  Wonder Woman had been unconscious since the previous night, and she was surprised to learn that the day was well advanced.


"I know you are distressed after the events of last night," said the man in the suit.  The policeman remained in the room, standing behind him.  "And I want you to know that the authorities are still searching for Superman's killer.  But we have located your associate Batman, though I doubt you'll be happy once you learn where he is."


As they spoke several other guests of the hotel peered through the large windows at Wonder Woman.  It wasn't every day that you saw a superhero.


"Well, where is he?" she said.  "Can you take me to him?"


The man in the suit considered this for a moment, and then nodded in assent.  "Yes," he answered, "I think it is better if I do.  If I tell you, I don't think you'll believe me."


With that Wonder Woman followed the man in the suit out of the hotel, and they entered a waiting police car.  The policeman from the hotel was behind the wheel, and he left the hotel's main entrance without any instructions from the man in the suit.


"Where are we going?" said Wonder Woman.


The man in the suit was very careful with his words.  "It is," he said, "A local tourist attraction, not far from here.  Only a few minutes, and we'll be there.  Your companion was found there early this morning, and there was nothing we could do."


"Nothing you could do?" she asked, "Is he alright?  Has he been hurt?"


"Again," said the man very carefully, "I think it's better if you see for yourself.  In a short time you will understand everything."


"OK," gulped the Amazonian, "But... what about Superman?  After last night..."


"Arrangements have been made with your government," said the man in the suit.  "There is no need to worry about him, though of course we are very sorry for your loss."


The car pulled to a stop along a crowded street, and in front of them there was an alley, over which a sign in Chinese stood.  Taxis buzzed back and forth, and Wonder Woman had to squint her eyes against the glare of the sun.  She remembered the alley from somewhere.  A picture she had seen...


"This is Huaxi Street Night Market," said the man in the suit, "Also referred to as 'Snake Alley' in some foreign guidebooks.  Do you know what this place is famous for?"


"Snakes?" said Wonder Woman timidly.  She could recall hearing the name before, but... what did all of this have to do with Batman?


"Not only snakes," pursued the man, "There are many other exotic foods to be found here.  It seems that after the party last night, your Batman accompanied several other guests here.  He was of course very intoxicated by that point, and..."


"And what?" said Wonder Woman.  She was growing impatient with the proceedings, and something about the man in the suit's manner disturbed her.  Every time he spoke the policeman cast his eyes to the ground, afraid to meet her gaze.


"Again, I think it's better if I just show you," said the man in the suit.  Follow us into the alley.  This way please."


She did as she was told.  They walked a short distance across a garbage-strewn street, and entered into the dark confines of the alley.  It occurred to her that this was a place where Batman would feel most comfortable, where he would be most inclined to drop his guard.  There was a narrow, shadowed lane between food stalls where she saw snakes in cages, turtles in water tanks, and low tables where a few people sat on stools, eating.  The back of the alley was separated from the rest of the market by several lengths of yellow police tape, the kind used to mark the scene of a crime.


"You'll have to understand that he came here at night," began the man in the suit, "Dressed as a bat..."


"Oh my God!" shrieked Wonder Woman, just before she fainted.  


"Yes," said the man in the suit.  "I would have explained at the hotel, but I didn't think you would believe me."


Because there, at the farthest removed table in Snake Alley, at the most shadowed of all the tables there, they found the remains of Batman.  He had come into the stalls dressed as a giant bat of course, and somewhere, in the midst of their nighttime revels, his companions had eaten him.  His partially devoured head swam in a bowl of soup in the center of the table, and around the perimeter of the table the man in the suit could see some of Batman’s larger bones, dishes composed of his meat fried with peppers, and many, many bottles of rice wine.  It had been a grand feast, and Batman had been the guest of honor.


"Help me get her back to the hotel," said the man in the suit.  "I think she's seen enough."


Thursday

As could be imagined, by Thursday Wonder Woman was ready to leave Taiwan.  She was heavily sedated, she had broken a nail or two at Snake Alley, and in her dreams recurred the images of both Superman’s and Batman’s untimely demises.

A limousine drove her back to the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport.  The only trouble was finding her invisible jet.  It had somehow been moved during her absence, and since no one could see it they had no easy way of finding it.  Airport workers fanned out in every direction like blind men, their outstretched arms searching for the vanished jet.

Eventually they found it parked on a nearby rice field.  It was a lot of work to pull it back onto the tarmac, but after hours of labor they succeeded in positioning it at the end of a runway.  At least they thought they had positioned it at the end of a runway.  Not being able to see it, it was difficult to tell.

After this they led the heavily sedated Wonder Woman to her invisible jet.  As they did so she rambled on incoherently about cannibalism and poisoners, most of her words slurred and indistinct.  "You killd em," muttered the Amazonian, "Yer guys killd... superdrink... what cud I do..."

Nearly tranquilized into unconsciousness, she unsteadily climbed the invisible ladder up into the cockpit of her invisible jet.  She muttered some kind of farewell as the invisible cockpit (they assumed) closed, and then they heard the sound of engines.  President Chiang Ching-kuo was not there to witness her departure, as the deaths of both Superman and Batman were seen as a major loss of face for the Republic of China.

The roar of invisible engines cut through the chatter, and Wonder Woman began to accelerate down the runway.  It was only as she thus accelerated that the crowd noticed her form begin to slump over the invisible controls.  Had she fainted again?  Was it the sedatives?  For a moment she ascended upward at a ninety degree angle - perhaps a hundred feet or so from the ground - and then, to everyone's horror, the sound of her engines ceased, and she began to descend backwards towards the airport.

Then there was a great explosion, and Wonder Woman was no more.

"Fuck," said the suited man in English, "How am I supposed to explain this?"

Friday

"Is everything OK over there?" said the President of the United States to the head of the TECO office in Taipei, "We've been getting some reports."

"Sure, everything's fine, sir," answered the man in the TECO office, "Nothing to worry about.  Superman just had a bit of indigestion at the dinner.  Batman?  He... might have caused some indigestion.  Wonder Woman is at the airport now, on the runway.  Nothing to worry about at all."

And with that the head of the TECO office said his goodbyes and hung up.  I am so fired, he thought.  And in a couple days the other three will be here.

Saturday

The really annoying thing about an invisible jet is finding and disposing of all the wreckage.  Wonder Woman had been incinerated in the explosion, so all that remained was finding all the parts of her jet, and depositing them in the nearest landfill.

Batman's remains mostly took care of themselves.  When the police returned to Snake Alley, the rest of him had been consumed.  His fried bits had been eaten, and his bones had been used for soup.  For days the "giant bat pot" was the talk of the town.

Superman's corpse was the only real problem.  His body didn't decay in the normal fashion, and the authorities worried that his corpse would stand as evidence against them.  Then, in an inspired decision, they dressed him as Chiang Kai-shek and bronzed him.  He remains to this day in front of the National Palace Museum, where he gazes down upon Chinese and non-Chinese visitors alike.  It was decided that this was the best way to honor the Man of Steel, since his love for his Chinese brothers and sisters was well known.

"I am so fired," said the head of the TECO office as he looked upon the statue for the first time.  "I think it's time I took that vacation I've got coming.  I'd rather not be around when the next set of superheroes arrive!"

Happy Halloween!! 萬聖節快樂!!

Tomorrow, October 31, is Halloween.  Happy Halloween!!  明天是十月三十一萬聖節.  萬聖節快樂!!

2015年10月24日 星期六

Stepping Out 走到戶外


Triathlons, triathlons, triathlons.  Seems like a lot of triathlons lately.  鐵人三項, 鐵人三項, 鐵人三項... 最近好像舉辦了很多場鐵人三項比賽.

Last year I didn't even join a triathlon.  I guess I just didn't feel like it.  There was also all that business about the Flowing Lake, and the County Government trying to keep people out of it.  So for a while I stopped swimming at the lake, and I haven't been back until recently. 去年我沒有參加鐵人三項.  我去年只是不想參加那種比賽.  也因為縣政府不讓人在活水湖游泳一事, 所以我很久沒去游泳.  直到最近才又去那邊游泳.

I did join the East Coast Bike "Race".  The weather was great that day, and my time wasn't bad.  I finished tired, but not crushingly so.  A lot of the "super pro" cyclists avoid this event because there's no prize money, but this isn't a problem for me.  I plan on doing it again next semester.  我參加了東海岸單車活動.  那一天的天氣真好, 我完賽的時間也不錯.  完成的時候並不覺得非常累.  很多好手因為沒有獎金而沒參加這個活動, 可是對我來說這不算問題.  我下學期還要再一次參加.

I also joined two half marathons.  One of these was in Tainan, and I wrote about it in the Running on Fumes entry.  The other was the Taitung Marathon, held in Taitung City's forest park, which I failed to complete.  我也參加了兩場半馬拉松.  一場在台南.  在那之後我在臭氣路跑的文章中介紹過了.  另外一場是在台東市森林公園舉辦的台東馬拉松.  那場我沒跑完.

And why did I fail to complete it?  Because halfway through the race I had to run behind a tree and relieve myself - or perhaps I should say detonate.  Haven't had diarrhea that bad in a while.  Definitely not a good time for me.  為甚麼沒跑完呢?  因為跑到一半我肚子痛去樹下解決.  我很久沒有發生過那麼嚴重的拉肚子.  超不好玩!

I also joined a "fun run" for charity.  My younger daughter wanted to run the 4.5k, and she wanted me to go with her.  Unfortunately she only ran about 2k before she decided that running SUCKED, and the remaining 2.5k was spent listening to her talk about how tired and hot she was.  我另外也參加了保護兒童的路跑.  我的小女兒參加4.5公里的, 她要我跟她一起跑.  可惜的是她跑兩公里以後就覺得跑步不好玩, 最後2.5公里都要聽她說自己很熱很累.

Ah well.  They can't all be winners, can they?  And at least the bike race was fun.  Hopefully this year's athletic events will be rewarding experiences.  I'll be joining the Tainan Old Capital Half Marathon, the East Coast Bike Race, the Puyuma Triathlon, and maybe also the 197 bike race in August.  真煩!  不可能每場運動比賽都很好玩, 對不對?  希望這學年要參加的活動都值得去.  我要參加的是台南古都馬拉松, 東海岸單車活動, 普悠瑪鐵人三項, 可能還要參加明年八月的197單車比賽.

August will be hot for sure, so if you're joining the 197, be sure to bring enough water!  八月一定很熱, 所以參加197的選手要記得帶很多水喔!

Related Entries 相關的文章: 

10 Great Places on the East Coast 東海岸很棒的地方
The Shape of Things to Come 未來的樣子
Conversation with My House Cats About the Flowing Lake  跟我的貓討論活水湖
Sad About the Lake 因為活水湖的事很失望

2015年10月19日 星期一

The Life of the Party


Ah, here he is: The Life of the Party.  He's handsome, he's drunk, he's loud, and he's abusive.  He can't even remember half of what he's drunk, swallowed, and pounded down.  He's talking to a pretty girl, but he can't be bothered to remember her name.  He's talking to a pretty girl, but he can't remember where she's from.

And there you are.  He's seen you around, of course.  You're ugly and you're awkward.  You're quiet and you're self-effacing.  You're standing there with your one empty beer, afraid to take another.  You want to talk to him, but he won't remember your name, or where you're from.

And, as such things go, he happens to have a long memory.  He remembers every awkward thing you've said.  He remembers every way you've tried (and failed) to be his friend.  He remembers how ugly you are, how awkward, how young, or how old.  He is a catalog of your failures, and these failures are the means by which he measures himself, and the means by which he outshines you.

So yes, he sees you there, standing or sitting next to me.  He knows you'll try to know him, in your inarticulate way.  He knows you'll take everything he has to give you.  You'll make jokes, and he'll return them with insults.  You'll make speeches, and he'll pretend not to hear.  And in time he will have everyone laughing at you, the failure, because this is how he glorifies himself.

And when you finally leave him, sad and defeated, headed home to more of the same loneliness, he will carry out this same work upon others.  Even if there are no others, he will create them in the small shadow you leave behind.

"He should never have come here," he will say, "He should have known better."  Yet in your absence he will grow restive, and in your absence he will grow uncertain.  He might be The Life of the Party now, but what happens after you leave?  What will he be, when you take away the life you've given?

Related Entries: 

Nine Years
The Rumor Mill 謠言
(Self) Introduction 自我介紹 8
Saying Goodbye 說再見的時候

2015年10月17日 星期六

Far Away Home 遠離家園


The other day I attended a wedding party in Chang Bin Township, not far from Hualien County.  In case you're not familiar with Taitung County, Chang Bin is FAR from where I live - about two hours by car.  上周末我去花蓮縣附近的長濱鄉喝喜酒.  可能你對台東縣不太清楚, 長濱離我家很遠 - 開車過去要差不多兩個小時.

Towards the end of the evening I found myself sitting in a group of local people, some of whom are members of the bride's family.  We were passing a glass of beer back and forth, and a couple of them were asking me about my life in Taiwan.  太陽下山的時候, 我和一群當地居民坐在一起.  他們當中有一 , 二個新娘的家人.  我們一起傳喝一杯啤酒, 其中二個新朋友問我我在台灣的生活情形.

After a while the subject turned to their lives in that part of Taiwan.  As it turned out, the guy sitting to my left managed the campground we were sitting in, while the guy on my right had a job in Taoyuan County.  The guy who works in Taoyuan said he enjoys his visits back home, but he isn't able to come back so often.  They work long hours in his factory, and the trip back to Chang Bin takes a long time.  過沒多久, 我們談話的主題就轉為他們住在那裡的生活情形.  坐我左邊的人就是那個露營區的主人.  坐我右邊的人則在桃園上班.  在桃園上班的先生說他很喜歡回到家鄉來, 只是這種機會不多.  因為他在工廠上班時間很長, 而且回長濱的路程需要很久的時間.

The guy with the job in Taoyuan reminded me of other guys I've known around Taitung County.  Finding a job in this county isn't easy, and for those who grow up in small villages it's just about impossible.  Some of them come to Taitung City to work.  Others go to places like Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taipei.  They generally hope to return to their villages when they're older, though it doesn't always work out that way.  在桃園上班的這位先生讓我想起其他住在台東的人.  在台東找工作不簡單, 尤其是從小住在小村子裡的人.  有的人會到台東市上班.  有的人則要去高雄, 台南或台北那種大都市工作.  他們大部分希望老的時候可以回去住在家鄉裡, 可是他們不一定都能夠如願.

Sometimes it isn't even work that pulls people away.  My wife is teaching at the Sports Junior High this year, and many of her students come from places as far away as Da Ren and Cheng Gong.  These students couldn't find the right schools in their hometowns, so they had to move into Taitung City.  After they graduate they'll probably also look for work in other places - places offering higher pay, better benefits, or even just a change of scenery. 不只是工作讓人離開家鄉.  今年我太太在體中教書.  她有很多學生從達仁, 成功遠地而來.  他們在自己的家鄉找不到適合的學校, 所以只好來到台東市.  他們畢業之後可能也會在外縣市找工作.  因為這樣可以得到比較高的薪水, 比較好的工作福利, 或是比較合的環境. 

Not that they're the only ones in this situation.  What are guys like me, after all?  I also left my own "village" to work in a place far away, even if it wasn't exactly a lack of opportunity that drove me here.  I, like them, was also looking for something my hometown wasn't offering, and I, like them, make the journey back "home" when I can.  I'm not saying that I deal with the same kind of obstacles that someone growing up in Chang Bin has to contend with, but there are some similarities.  還有其他人也有這種狀況.  像我一樣的人呢?  好像也是.  我也離開我的"村莊"搬來到很遠的地方. 差別是我來台不是因為家鄉的工作機會很少.  我跟他們一樣尋找著家鄉沒有的東西.  我跟他們一樣, 在家鄉的工作機會比較不穩定.  我的意思不是說我生活中所面對的問題跟長濱人一樣, 只是有許多相似的地方.

Anyway, it was good talking to those guys and learning more about them.  It's not often that I'm up in Chang Bin, and it's not often that I talk to people there.  It was good to hear their stories, and it was good to know that - in some ways - I'm not so different from them.  Their village might be far away from mine, but we share many of the same struggles, and we all miss home on occasion.  反正我很高興認識長濱那邊的新朋友, 也很高興有機會多了解他們的生活方式.  我不常去長濱, 所以跟他們聊天的機會很少.  我喜歡聽他們的生活故事, 也很感動於我們相似的情況.  他們的家鄉離我家很遠, 可是我們面對的困難有許多是一樣的.  他們也跟我一樣有時很懷念家鄉.

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2015年10月9日 星期五

Happy Double Ten Day!! 雙十節快樂!!

Tomorrow, October 10, is Double Ten Day.  Happy Double Ten Day!!  明天是十月十日雙十節.  雙十節快樂!!

If I Was a Taiwanese Celebrity... 如果我是個台灣明星...


If I was a Taiwanese celebrity, I'd probably spend a lot of money on skin care products.  Maybe I'd even star in commercials for the skin care products I used, and they would give me extra skin care products for free!  如果我是個台灣的明星, 我應該會花很多錢買護膚產品.  可能我會為自己用的膚產品作廣告, 然後他們會送我很多免費的膚產品.

If I was a Taiwanese celebrity, I'd probably own another house in Canada.  In my house there would be a swimming pool and an exercise room, and I'd have an expensive car parked in my garage. 
如果我是個台灣明星, 我應該會在加拿大再買一棟房子.  那棟房子會有游泳池跟健身房, 還有很貴的車停在車庫裡.

If I was a Taiwanese celebrity, I'd probably worry about growing older.  I'd spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, looking for wrinkles that weren't there before.  When the worry over old age became too much for me, I'd think about visiting a plastic surgeon. 
如果我是個台灣明星, 我應該會很擔心變老.  我每天可能花很長的時間看鏡子, 尋找還不存在的皺紋.  當我無法接受變老這件事情的時候, 我就開始找整形外科醫生.

If I was a Taiwanese celebrity, I'd probably star in my own variety show.  I'd have a very fake laugh, and I'd use it all the time.  Then the other Taiwanese celebrities and I would play silly games together, and it would look really fun - even though it wasn't.  如果我是個台灣明星, 我應該會有自己的電視節目.  我會在節目中發出很假的笑聲, 也要笑不停.  然後我會跟其他的明星玩很無聊的遊戲.  我們玩的時候會看起來很開心, 但我心裡卻覺得很不好玩.


If I was a Taiwanese celebrity, I'd probably do interviews for glossy magazines.  In the interviews I'd always pretend to know what I was talking about, even if the questions asked by the interviewers confused me.  如果我是個台灣明星, 我應該會接受有水準的雜誌的訪問.  談話的時候我會假裝自己知道自己在講什麼, 但其實我不太懂記者問的問題.

If I was a Taiwanese celebrity - and if I was cheating on my wife or husband - I'd wear sunglasses and baggy clothes when my lover and I visited the night market.  Then, when someone recognized me, I'd act surprised and pretend that nothing was going on.  "What are you talking about?" I would protest, "We're just friends!"  如果我是個台灣明星 - 如果我想有婚外情 - 我跟情人逛夜市的時候會戴太陽眼鏡和穿寬大的衣服.   當路邊的人發現我是誰的時候, 我就會很驚訝地說我們兩個不是情人, 只是朋友而已.

If I was a Taiwanese celebrity, I'd probably complain about being a Taiwanese celebrity.  I'd complain about the cost of skin care products, I'd complain about the cost of my Canadian house, I'd complain about growing older, I'd complain about my variety show, I'd complain about the boring interviews I had to do, and I'd complain about the press invading my personal life.  如果我是個台灣明星, 我應該會抱怨在台灣當明星很麻煩.  我會抱怨膚商品很貴, 加拿大的房子也很貴, 變老很不方便, 上電視節目很麻煩, 跟記者談話很無聊, 還有抱怨記者讓大家知道我的私生活.

Then maybe I'd hear that I got a part in a big, new movie, or that I'd just been selected to endorse a new skin cream, or that my CD sold another 100 thousand copies in China.  And I'd forget about all my troubles - and be happy - for a while.  之後我也許會聽到自己得到一個重要的電影的角色, 或者是因為要推銷新的膚商品, 或是我在中國賣了10萬張的CD.  然後我就會忘了所有的問題 - 就很高興 - 一下子.


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2015年10月3日 星期六

American Politics 美國政治


I'm no expert on American politics.  Most of what I know comes from Google News, or from conversations with friends and family.  I also hear things from other Americans living in Taitung.  我不是美國政治的專家.  我知道的部分大多是從Google新聞來的, 或是從親戚朋友間的談話.  有時候也是住台東的美國朋友給我的消息.

I try to stay informed on the subject, but it's not easy.  I usually know what's going on with the President of Taiwan, and I usually know what's going on with the mayor of Taipei, but about American politics I am far less certain.  President Obama rarely makes the front page of the Apple Daily.  我要知道最新的美國新聞有點困難.  我常常看到台灣總統最新消息.  也常常看到台北市長的消息, 可是關於美國政治新聞我知道的不多.  因為蘋果日報的頭版新聞沒有歐巴馬.

Some of my American friends in Taitung are obsessed with our home country's politics.  Any conversation with them veers toward that subject.  I do my best to keep up with their opinions on Obama, the Republicans, or even the New World Order, but there are times when I have trouble keeping up with the conversation.  有的在台東的美國朋友很關心我們本國的政治.  每次跟他們聊天都會談到政治問題.  我盡力了解他們對歐巴馬, 共和黨, 或是"New World Order" (世界新秩序)的所有意見, 可是我有時候不太懂他們的意思.

A lot of the recent talk is about the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections.  President Obama, having served two terms, is on his way out, and it seems likely that Hillary Clinton will replace him.  I don't really have a problem with Hillary Clinton, aside from the fact that she represents the forces of political correctness everywhere.  She also ranks low in terms of personality.  Of course personality ought not be the chief qualification for U.S. President, but to be honest I wish she had more of it.  最近很多人談的是即將到來的美國總統選舉.  歐巴馬總統的第二任期快滿了, 之後希拉蕊·克林頓很可能成為下一任總統.  我對她沒什麼意見, 我只是覺得她很重視政治上的正確性, 不是很有自己的個性.  當然對總統來說個性不是最重要的, 只是我個人希望她有多點自己的風格.

Then again, she's not half as scary as Donald Trump.  Donald Trump hopes to win the Republican nomination, and in case you weren't aware he's also a massive idiot.  What scares me most is that a lot of Americans actually identify with this guy.  而且希拉蕊·克林頓沒有唐納德·特朗普那麼恐怖.  特朗普想被共和黨選上.  但他也是一個大笨蛋.  最恐怖的是很多美國人覺得他是個很有能力的人.

I've also heard that Joe Biden, the current Vice President, is thinking about running.  I like this guy a lot more than Hillary Clinton, but I'll refrain from supporting him until I know what he's about.  As it is, I'm clueless as to his position on anything.  我也聽說目前的副總統拜登要參選.  我覺得他比希拉蕊·克林頓好很多, 可是我現在沒辦法支持他, 因為我不知道他將推出什麼政策.  

Aside from the above, I've heard that the U.S. Government might have to shut down again.  This has happened several times already, and it's becoming depressingly familiar to those who follow American politics.  You would think that the U.S. Government - one of the most powerful in the world - would have enough wherewithal to function properly, but apparently it doesn't work that way.  除了總統選舉這件事之外, 我還聽說美國政府可能會停止運作一段時間.  這種事已經發生過幾次了, 也讓很多人失望.  大家都認為美國政府(世界上最有力的政府)會有足夠的錢維持它的運作.  但明顯的是它並不是這樣.

I can only hope that the U.S. Government doesn't have to shut down.  I can only hope we'll get a President less stupid that Bush Jr., and I can only hope that the next President will be (slightly) more effectual than Obama.  Not that I'm blaming anybody.  I voted for him the first time.  我希望美國政府不用停止運作.  我希望下一個美國總統不是像小布希那麼笨.  我也希望下一個總統比歐巴馬有能力.  我不是在怪任何人.  當時歐巴馬當選的選票中也有我的那一票!

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