Days/Hours Until My Flight: About 1 Day and 14 Hours
Early morning. The Number 5 southbound. It comes to a stop in front of the Safeway on Greenwood. Two middle-aged men enter the bus from the rear. Man 1: ...ambulance in front of that new park over there... Man 2: Huh. But what were you saying? Man 1: I was talking about the world, you know? I mean what is it, really? We talk like we know what it is, but do we? I don't think it's worth worrying about. I try to concentrate on smaller things like my family, or my job, or my yard. Reading the newspaper too much... and having all these ideas about how the world is... that's just confusion. Man 2: I get what you're saying, but I still think it's good to stay informed, man. The world is so interconnected now. You might think some things are far away, and that they'll never affect you, but they're probably closer than you think. It's good to keep your eyes on the ground, but you don't want to put your head in the sand. Man 1: ..."head in the sand." Well I guess you've got a catch phrase for everything, don't you? Man 2: Yeah, I guess I do. The bus passes through the intersection of Greenwood and 85th. Pedestrians stare lazily from the street corners. The first man exits the bus at the next stop, while his friend remains seated.
The Number 48 eastbound. It comes to a stop in front of the Top Ten Toys on 85th. An elderly woman enters the bus from the front. Woman [to the bus driver]: Whew! It's hot today isn't it? Driver: Yes. Hey, you hear about that body they found near here? I was reading about it in the paper this morning. In that park behind the Fred Meyer, just over there... Woman: No I didn't. What happened? Driver: No one knows. Older guy. Probably living in the parks around here. Might have been a heart attack, or something. Happened yesterday. Woman: Well maybe that's not so bad. If he was older, maybe he went in his sleep and didn't feel a thing. Hey, did I ever tell you about the time my husband and I went down to northern California? We were on the Pacific Coast Highway somewhere, and this strange woman knocks on the door of our camper. "I need help," she says, "My husband just shot himself and I think he's dead." Driver: Was he? Woman: Oh yes. My husband and this younger guy went down the cliff to look for him. Found him floating in the water. He'd had this big gun in the waistband of his pants, and it'd gone off accidentally. Driver: Gotta be careful with guns. Woman: Very true. The driver pulls the bus to a stop as they approach the intersection of Greenwood and 85th. As he does so, the Number 5 southbound passes by. The elderly woman notices two middle-aged men talking near the front of the bus.
The Number 5 northbound. It comes to a stop in front of the Greenwood Library, and a younger man with earphones in his ears slouches through the bus doors. He sits down, his phone rings, and he begins a noisy conversation with the person on the other end. Younger Man: ...bus smells like some homeless guy's been in it. Yeah, that smell. Sweat and Night Train, dude! But yeah, I listened to that stuff you sent me. I guess I liked some of it. I mean, like, Soundgarden's cool, but they're not like Solange or Lorde or anything. Nirvana? Man, my dad listens to Nirvana." [uncomfortable silence] Younger Man: Naw, man. Naw. The Sonics? What, you mean like the video game? No, I ain't never heard of The Sonics man. They ever play with Pearl Jam? What? Shit, that's old man. Where do you find out about this stuff? [uncomfortable silence] Younger Man: Yeah whatever. That Queensryche shit is gay. Fuckin' hair metal. Why don't you like anything NEW, man? I tell you, there's a lot of cool shit out there now. You going to Bumbershoot? No, tickets aren't cheap. But hey, we can go together man. Tracy's got this friend that'll drive us. No, it's in three days, man. Yeah, on Friday. [uncomfortable silence] The bus passes through the intersection of Greenwood and 85th as the traffic light turns from green to yellow. The younger man notices the Number 48 approaching along 85th, one street away. The bus driver waves to the Number 5 southbound as it lumbers up Greenwood from the other direction. Younger Man [to the driver]: Hey, this bus goes to Shoreline, right? I'm not on the one that goes to Northgate, am I? Driver: Yes sir. This is the 5 to Shoreline. Would you, ah, mind talking a little quieter on that phone?
The Number 48 westbound. It comes to a stop in front of the theater, and a transient enters the bus through the front entrance. The stench of sweat and fortified wine emanates from his person, and many of the other bus passengers move to other seats to get farther away from him. Transient [to himself]: Tell me I can't sleep in the fucking park at night. Old guy like me can sleep wherever he wants to. God damn police botherin' me. I don't like that. I don't like that at all. Driver: Alright there, sir. Just be calm. We'll get you where you're going. That place in Loyal Heights, right? We'll be there in a minute. Monday afternoon like always. Just be calm now. I don't want to have to call the cops like last time. Transient [mumbling]: Fuckin' vampire werewolves. Saw it on TV. It really happened. They tried to cover it up. They cover ALL the shit up man. It's all a conspiracy. Werewolves, and cyborgs. Trump, too. That guy... Tell ME I can't sleep in the fucking park at night! As the bus crosses 3rd the transient sees the Number 48 eastbound, and smirks as the drivers of the two buses exchange a friendly wave. He turns, and behind the heads his fellow passengers he sees the intersection of Greenwood and 85th, far down the road behind him. Are there other buses coming? Is it all another layer of the conspiracy? And what about the monsters that he's seen in the TV screen, the one that's always on in his head? What will the people of this neighborhood do when the monsters arrive? Will they look to him for help? His pills, his pills, he's got to remember to get his medicine. The doctor said it was very important. But when he takes it the TV screen in his head is black and silent, and he feels so empty without the messages it sends. I'll go back to the park tonight, he thinks. They can't stop me.
Days/Hours Until My Flight: About 2 Days and 15 Hours
On June 19, 2017 we learned that vampire werewolves had finally descended upon the city. It was late afternoon, and I was with my daughters, my wife, and my parents in their house on 75th street. The living room where we sat fell silent as images flickered on the TV screen before us. "Is this real?" I said, breaking the silence. "Of course it's real!" replied my mother, "It's on TV, isn't it?" The Seattle Center was overrun by the hideous monsters. We gasped as one resident, driven mad with terror, flung himself from the top of the Space Needle. His body didn't even touch the ground. He was seized by one of the vampire werewolves in mid-air, and was thereafter torn to pieces. My mother, sitting next to me, shrieked in horror as pieces of the man's flesh sprayed outward from a point just above the writhing, screeching masses. Gore rained down upon guilty and innocent alike. The Pike Place Market was the scene of a massacre. The vampire werewolves were throwing a limbless corpse back and forth across the promenade, a cruel mockery of the "fish throwing" that would have taken place there in more cheerful times. I had to cover my daughters' eyes as a third vampire werewolf lunged for the corpse, reducing it to scraps in a matter of moments. Another camera zoomed in on Green Lake's Duck Island, where some of the pedestrians had fled seeking shelter. My wife buried her head in the couch pillows as a troupe of the vampire werewolves emerged from beneath the waters of the lake, closing in on their hapless prey. We all knew there was no hope for those people. They had no avenue of escape from the monsters that pursued them. "Change to another news channel," said my father, "Let's see what the other networks are showing." And as if the vampire werewolves were not enough, the Seattle Aquarium suffered an invasion by transgender cyborgs from the future. The transgender cyborgs were attempting to use the bathrooms near the ticket booth, but the more conservative aquarium employees insisted upon their self-identification as either "male" or "female." The transgender cyborgs, coming as they did from a more enlightened future time, refused to comply, and instead assailed the employees with particle beams from their prosthetic limbs. I think I might have fainted for a few minutes, because when I opened my eyes again the news was showing a different location, with a different scene in progress. The transgender cyborgs were hosting a rave on the West Seattle Ferry. Strobe lights burst from the confines of the metal-hulled vessel, and we hid our discomfort at the much better time they were all having. "My God!" said my mother, "They're handing out drugs and condoms! How dare they alter their consciousness! How dare they practice safe sex!" Yet dare they did, and even this was nothing compared to what the TV next revealed to our astonished eyes.
A cameraman in the International District was capturing the first meeting of the vampire werewolves and the trangender cyborgs from the future. To our dismay, the vampire werewolves and the trangender cyborgs actually seemed to be working together, and some of them were clearly engaged in friendly conversation. We listened closely, and we learned that there was some confusion as to whether they should eat the cameraman, convert him into a vampire werewolf, help him transition into a new gender identity, blast him with a particle beam, or invite him to the rave in West Seattle. In the end they agreed to do all four in a certain order, with the one-armed trangender cybernetic vampire werewolf cameraman ending up at the rave, with only slight burns and a great story to tell. "We need to do something!" shouted my wife as my younger daughter changed the channel to Scooby Doo. My father, spurned to action, wrested the remote control from her grasp and selected a third news channel. Northgate Mall appeared on the screen. Flames spread from the main entrance between the California Pizza Kitchen and Azteca. Hordes of panicked shoppers ran this way and that. As the camera scrolled upward, we saw the imposing figure of a colossal, irradiated Donald Trump, his orange skin glowing in the sunlight as his massive form towered over the scene. "I ought to tweet about this!" he roared as he picked up a nearby truck, shaking the hapless passengers loose from inside. "Let's make Northgate great again!" In horror the cameraman must have realized the danger he was in, because the picture wobbled slightly as the gigantic form of the Chief Executive looked straight into it. There was a moment of tense silence as Trump carelessly threw the truck over his shoulder, and a deafening burst of sound as it exploded into flames some distance away. "FAKE NEWS!!!" he complained from on high toward the camera, "FAKE!!! NEWS!!!" And then the screen went black as the cameraman met his undoubted end. We were left to wonder what horrific toll the wrath of Trump would exact upon other frightened shoppers at Northgate Mall, and what the rest of Trump's cabinet were doing, provided that they'd been similarly irradiated, and enlarged to several times their normal size. Vampire werewolves in the bus tunnel beneath Westlake Center. Transgender cyborgs in Discovery Park. Enraged, gigantic television personalities (and sometime Presidents) stomping down the length of the I-5 Freeway, raining death upon those stuck in traffic. It was all so much to process. Our minds reeled at the import of what we were seeing, and what it might mean for our morning commute. Other news channels revealed other horrors. Shape-shifting extraterrestrials on the Microsoft campus. Swarms of angry spider-wasp-mosquitoes at the local Starbucks. Robots capable of transforming into entirely useless objects like 8-track players and old pre-WWII radio cabinets. The terror of it all overwhelmed us, and we sat there mute, unable to register the catalog of atrocities thus far disclosed. "Can we go back to Scooby Doo?" said my younger daughter, "The news is boring!"
Days/Hours Until My Flight: About 3 Days and 14 Hours
Do you know that Billy Joel song, New York State of Mind? When you think about it, there are a lot of songs about New York. There's that Broadway song, New York, New York, No Sleep 'til Brooklyn... the list is practically endless. California, too. California Girls, L.A. Woman, Hotel California, and on and on. It makes sense that New York and California have the most songs. They have a certain stature in American culture, and are also very populous places with an interesting history. In many respects, they are more than states, they are symbols. But what about my state, Washington? Does Washington have any songs? At the moment I can only think of Jet City Woman by Queensryche, and I'm only being honest when I say that Queensryche is no Billy Joel, Beach Boys, or Beastie Boys. But maybe the comparison isn't fair. New York is, after all, a city and a state. And California is bigger than Washington, with a longer history and more varied climate. And perhaps, given time, Washington will capture the imagination the way New York and California do. Perhaps more interesting things will happen there, and these interesting things will serve as inspiration for future pop hits. It makes me a little sad to think of Washington with only a single song to its credit. It's even sadder because the "Jet City" described in Queensryche's song doesn't really exist anymore. Boeing moved most its 747 production further north (to the city of Everett), or else out of the state entirely. Seattle, once defined as the Jet City, is now more closely aligned with Starbucks and Microsoft. And who ever wrote any good rock songs about coffee? Or computer operating systems? You might think with all of Seattle's suicidally-inclined grunge bands someone could have written a good anthem for the rest of the state to rally behind. But those bands were perhaps too inwardly-directed for that. Instead, all we've got is songs like Outshined, Even Flow, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Man in the Box. None of these songs make you think of anywhere in Washington, and even if they did you probably wouldn't be thinking of those places in a good way.
Further back? Heart? No, no Washington-related songs that I can think of. The Sonics? Nothing there. Jimi Hendrix? No, probably taking too much LSD to immortalize the state he came from. Google reminded me of Sir Mix-a-Lot's Posse on Broadway*, and also Bing Crosby's Black Ball Ferry Line, but the first sounds incredibly dated now, and the second is so obscure that today was the first time I ever heard it. Maybe we should blame Loretta Lynn. Despite having lived in Washington for several years, she spent all her time writing songs about Kentucky, and other women trying to steal her man. If only she had memorialized us in song! Maybe... "Spokane Shuffle?" "You Ain't Woman Enough (to Live in Blaine)?"** Washington does have, however, an official state song. And no, it wasn't written by Nirvana or the Screaming Trees. The lyrics are as follows:
Ok, it's over. You can stop crying now. I know you got all choked up at "verdant forest green," but it's over. It's alright. It happens. But hey, Wherever I May Roamis a Metallica song***, right? Maybe that could be our state song! That would be super cool. It is, after all, hard to get anything to rhyme with words like "Washington," "Seattle," or even "Wenatchee," so maybe a song by a band from California is the best we're ever going to get. Anything would be better than Queensryche.
Days/Hours Until My Flight: About 4 Days and 8 Hours
How old was I then? 23? 24? I couldn't have been older than 25, because 25 was when I moved to Taiwan.* It wasn't long after I came back from Montreal, Canada. I spent a week up there as part of some negligible TESOL course, thinking that the crappy certificate they gave me would somehow help me find a job in Asia. As it turned out, this certificate was about as much use as an eleventh toe, but I did have a great time in Montreal. After arriving back in Seattle, I began going through one of the weirder phases of my life. I was desperately in love with this Indian girl I was dating, but the feeling wasn't reciprocal. I was also between schools, between jobs, and embroiled in one of those self-destructive "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?" inner monologues that ruin even the most ideal situations. Oh, and I also got kicked out of the place I was living. So what was I supposed to do? The thought of going back for another round of college didn't appeal to me, and any jobs I was qualified for seemed amazingly repetitious. I spent an afternoon mournfully staring at a wall, got in my car, and started driving. In the beginning my plan was to drive to Florida. I suppose that if I really wanted to "get away" I would have driven to Mexico, but I didn't speak Spanish and I had seen too many Westerns. Florida was a safer second choice, and it was also the farthest I could get from Seattle and still be in the continental U.S.
Too bad I never made it that far. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had. Instead I drove to Idaho, where I lived for a short time, and then on to Montana, Oregon, Nevada, and California. All told I spent over a month living between my car, various campsites, and secluded spots near highways. I ate most of my meals out of cans, slept beneath the stars (if not beneath the roof of my car), and learned how to live upon the kindness of strangers. I have two very strong memories of that time. One is driving up into the Cabinet Mountains on the Idaho/Montana border, looking down at sparkling lakes and screaming along with "Master of Puppets" as it blasted from the back of my car. The other is a slightly morbid episode involving a fireman, a guy who shot himself (in the balls) with a .57 magnum, and a search for his body at 1 in the morning.** As said above, it was a weird month. I also met a lot of strange people during that time. I suppose this makes sense because I was in a strange place myself. I lived with a girl in Idaho who was slowly dying of some disease I'd never heard of. I met a guy in Nevada who'd been driving back and forth along the same highway for five years. I started up religious debates with park rangers, and went to a great concert where I met a bunch of truly odd concert goers.*** I learned a lot about myself during that month, and also a lot about my country. I learned that I could handle most situations as they arose, and I learned that worrying so much was often a waste of time. I learned that most Americans are good people, however arrogant, or racist, or downright strange they might appear at first. More than anything, I learned just how BIG the U.S. is, and how silly it was to focus so much on just one part of it. And I learned that beyond the U.S. lay Canada, Mexico, and the whole rest of the world. I think it was that trip that really prepared me for the move to Taiwan, even if it was a while before I took the steps of finding work here, buying a plane ticket, and showing up. After that month of wandering I didn't feel like anywhere was so far, or that there were many things I couldn't handle. After that journey I was a lot more open to possibilities, and I knew that America - however far within it I roamed - was just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, I spent parts of that month hungry, and lost, and looking for a corpse, but there were also the friendly smiles of strangers, the wind through the desert at night, and the hum of an engine as I followed an unfamiliar road into an unfamiliar state. Taken the right way, the whole of life can be like that single month - full of strangeness and exhilaration, full of bad things and good things, and full of wonder for those with both the right attitude and the will to see what lies at the end of every road, no matter how late it is, or how much gas you have left in the tank.
Related Entries: 1. a. The World 1. c. My State 1. d. My City 1. e. My Neighborhood *In 1999. **He bled to death while we were climbing down a cliff to look for him. We found him floating in the ocean not long after. ***Steel Pulse, in Santa Rosa California. The venue was only 1/4 full, but those of us who were there all really, really loved that band. It remains one of the best concerts I've ever been to.
Days/Hours Until My Flight: About 5 days and 12 hours.
The world is very big. The world is also very small. People like to say that the world is getting smaller, but very few say the opposite. I think that the world is only larger or smaller depending on how much hope you have for it, and whether you choose to define "big" and "small" in positive or negative terms. When I say that the world is big, perhaps I mean that the world is full of many possibilities, many kinds of people, and many places I have yet to explore. Or perhaps I mean that the world is too complicated, that I'm drowning in a sea of anonymity, or that I feel very small, and very unimportant. When I say the world is small, perhaps I mean that the future is more set than was previously the case. Perhaps I mean that people are becoming more similar. Perhaps I mean that I've already been everywhere important, and that the parts of the globe I haven't explored aren't worth visiting. Or maybe I mean that the world is growing safer, and more interconnected. Maybe I mean that people everywhere share the same dreams, and the same hopes. Maybe I mean that travel is easier now, and no place is so far away. With regard to the future of the world, we could hold one of three points of view, and these points of view will determine our attitude towards most of human history. These points of view are: 1) The future is going to be worse than the present, 2) The future will be largely similar to the present, and 3) The future will be better than the present. In the first instance, the specters of global warming and global politics naturally come into play. This is where we start commiserating over Trump, climate accords, and global economic downturns. This is also where we throw our hands up and say, "What can be done?" Perhaps, in our ambition, we decide that something can be done, and that WE are the deciding factor. Or perhaps we choose pessimism, and decide to adopt a fatalistic attitude toward the coming end of the world. In the second instance, we must either grow philosophical or adopt a cyclical view of nature. Regarding the whole of human history as a process of ebb and flow, we can grow either despondent or hopeful from the fact that tomorrow will either be better or worse, and that after that the wheel will turn yet again. We might even try to move beyond categories, beyond hope and fear, beyond good and evil, and beyond contradictions. In the third instance, optimism prevails. Our faith in humanity (or at least the natural order of things) triumphs. It's going to be a good day. Don't worry.
But when all is said and done, do we really know the world? Is it possible for us to know it? The world is, semantics aside, a very large piece of real estate, and there are many people, states, climates, animals, styles of music, foods, buildings, schools of religious thought, and domesticated animals populating its surface. Not to mention the imminent arrival of vampires and werewolves. There's a lot going on in the world, and what we are dealing in whenever we speak of it are generalizations. This is due to the simple fact that nearly any statement made about the world - whether confined to the terrestrial globe or not - is a generalization, failing to take into account a host of particulars. And besides all of the above, I think there is something to the argument that the world exists only inside our head, in the form of bits of information filtered through faulty senses of perception. In this sense the world is far more "in here" than "out there," though, I feel, it's unhealthy to pursue this line of argument too far. In the end you'll come to doubt the reality of just about anything, and more than a few people have lost their marbles as a result. Better, perhaps, to take it for granted that most of what we see is really what we are seeing. Even skepticism has its limits, and one has to come to a conclusion about something, at one point or another. Option 1: The Scientific Account: the Big Bang, the formation of galaxies, the formation of the solar system, the formation of the Earth and its twin, Theia, the collision of Earth and Theia, the ejection of the Earth's mantle into orbit and the formation of the moon, the origins of life, aquatic life, terrestrial life, the dinosaurs, birds, mammals, human evolution, the development of human culture, Man vs. Nature, Man and Nature, the coming of the star-travelers, the war with various alien civilizations (yes, involving time travel and cybernetic love interests), and the slow extinction of the human race through boredom and/or Internet porn. Option 2: The Biblical Account. Take a pinch of Assyrian/Babylonian cosmology, and stir well over low heat. Add a hint of Stoicism and other Greco-Roman schools of thought. Elect a pope, burn whatever idols are handy, and pray for the best. Option 3: The Eastern Alternative. "It's all like, you know, in your mind man. It's not out there, you know. It's in here!" Put it all on a wheel and spin it around. You're bound to come back to the place where you started from... sooner or later. Option 4: Wicca, Scientology, or any other cult-like behavior. But are you lonely enough? How desperate are you, really? Option 5: Whatever the world is, it's all a conspiracy.
What follows below are what I thought were the most important and/or most interesting bits of news from various county government websites. 下列的內容都是我在縣府的各個單位網站上找到的. 是我認為最有趣或是最重要的.
Almost all of the sites below have an "English" link at the top of the page, but this link just directs you to the County's tourism portal. This tourism portal is listed below as "The Taitung County Tourism Department." Only the Cultural Affairs Department has its own English website. 幾乎下列的網站在網頁的最上方都有英文版的連結, 只是這些連結都會將你帶去觀光旅遊處的網站. 只有文化處有它自己的英文網站.
I also scanned through the news for any interesting news items relevant to the departments listed below. There isn't a lot of Taitung-related news in the best of times, but I did my best to find relevant articles. 我也看了最近的新聞, 希望找到與縣政府相關的有趣的報導. 我盡力了, 只是關於台東的新聞不多.
Oh, and one more thing! I'll be going back to Seattle for two months on June 18, so this will be the last entry until September.* 還有一件事要跟你們說. 我六月十八日要回西雅圖兩個多月, 所以這篇文章是這學期的最後一篇. 九月再見!
1. The Taitung County Government International Development and Planning Department 台東縣政府國際發展及計畫處 Not entirely sure what this has to do with the International Development and Planning Department (seems like it would have more to do with the Agriculture Department), but organic roselle flowers from Taitung are now being exported to Japan. 我不是很清楚這件事跟國際發展處有甚麼關係 (好像跟農業處比較有關), 可是台東的有機洛神花開始外銷到日本. The County Government continues to develop its "Smart City Project." As part of this effort, they gave a presentation on their "TTPush" APP. 縣政府繼續發展 "智慧城市." 他們最近推出政府的APP平台"TTPush."**
2. The Taitung County Indigenous Peoples Website 台東縣原住民族行政處 As in other parts of Taiwan with a higher number of aboriginal people, this department has a plan for getting younger people to return to their villages. This is of course easier said than done. 跟其他原住民人口較多的地方一樣, 台東縣原住民族行政處有青年人返鄉的計畫. 這種計畫當然是說的簡單但很難做到的事情. The County Government is working with farmers in southern Taitung County to develop the market for millet. 縣政府在幫南迴地區的小鄉村發展小米廣場.
3. The Taitung County Personnel Department 台東縣政府人事處 Their website hasn't been updated in so long it's ridiculous. 哇! 他們那一處的網頁很久沒有新的消息!
5. The Taitung County Land Administration Department 台東縣政府地政處 They held a meeting about the rezoning of land for recreational purposes. I'm sure this meeting was fascinating. 他們最近成立 "台東縣台東市康樂自辦市地重劃區重劃畫會." 這個會議一定很有趣! (開玩笑的)
6. The Taitung County Civil Affairs Department 台東縣政府民政處 Another census was taken. 220,191 people presently reside in Taitung County. 113,818 of these people have penises, and 106,373 don't. 78,849 of these people are members of aboriginal tribes. 有新的人口普查結果: 現在人口數按性別及原住民身分區別. 台東縣居民人數現在是220, 191人. 113, 818人是男性, 106, 373是女性. 原住民的人口則是78849人. Augustin, a Taitung resident originally from Switzerland, wants to become a Taiwanese citizen. He originally came here as a missionary, and has been living in the county for 54 years. 有一位從瑞士來的人士Augustin, 他54年前來台的原因是傳教, 他在台54年並想更改國籍成為中華民國國民.
7. The Taitung County Government Education Department 台東縣政府教育處 The final round of the County English competition was held last Wednesday. I'm sure the English teachers of Taitung are all glad it's over. 上禮拜三是台東縣的英語文競賽決賽. 我想台東所有的英語教師應該很高興.
8. The Taitung County Agriculture Department 台東縣政府農業處 Representatives from the Taiwan International Agricultural Development Company Ltd. arrived in Taitung to discuss the planting of pineapples and sugar apples. There was some disagreement between the representatives of this company and officials from the Taitung County Government. 台灣國際農業開發股份有限公司來台東介紹種植鳳梨及釋迦的計畫. 縣議會人員跟台農發有些意見不同的地方. A Chinese Pangolin was found in an alley near Kai Feng Street in Taitung City. The Animal Protection branch of the Agriculture Department was notified, and the animal was captured and taken to a Wildlife Receiving Center in Pingtung. 有人發現一隻穿山甲在台東市開封街的一條巷弄. 畜產保育科得到消息之後, 就將穿山甲捕獲並送到屏東縣的野生動物收容中心. Farmers around Da Ren Township experienced crop losses after the recent heavy rains. 下大雨之後達仁鄉的農民可能減產逾五成.
10. The Public Health Bureau, Taitung County 臺東縣衛生局 The Public Health Bureau cautions residents about the danger of Japanese encephalitis, which is spread by mosquitoes. Children older than 15 months should be vaccinated against this type of encephalitis. 衛生局提醒居民注意經由蚊蟲傳染的日本腦炎. 滿15個月的幼兒應按時接種疫苗. Foot and mouth disease is very popular in Taitung this year. 10 classes have been suspended for this reason. 因為腸病毒進入流行期, 台東已經有十個班停課. A man working on a fishing boat died of heat stroke on Orchid Island. He was from Indonesia. 蘭嶼有從印尼來的漁工因為氣溫高而熱死了.
11. The Taitung County Fire Department 臺東縣消防局 Two people were reported to be "in trouble" near the Lu Ye River during recent flooding, but the fire department couldn't find anyone. 消防局在這一次的豪雨中獲報有二個人受困鹿野溪, 只是消防局後來找不到受困人. Local firemen used picture books to teach kids in rural areas about safety. 消防局用繪本教徧鄉學童怎麼防火防災.
12. The Taitung County Environmental Protection Bureau 台東縣環境保護局 Taitung's EPA encourages you to remove weeds from around your house to diminish the numbers of mosquitoes, snakes, and rodents in the area. 台東環保局提醒你要除家附近的雜草. 這樣蚊蟲蛇鼠的數量會變少. After residents voiced concerns, the local EPA will conduct a survey on the use of fill pellets in local construction sites. These pellets are recycled from local garbage. 台東民眾擔心 "再生粒料" 的使用, 所以台東環保局會著手研究 "再生粒料"安全性的問題. "再生粒料" 是從地區垃圾加工後的產物. Someone did a (very detailed) survey of fill-related pollutants found in the land near the Tai Ping River. You can see the results here. 台東市汙水廠用地去化太平溪土石整地工程(再生粒料)檢測報告.
*The last Chinese-English entry, that is. I'll probably write a few more English-only ones. **If it helps any, the "TT" in "TTPush" stands for "TaiTung." The "Smart City Project" has been going on for a while now. The County Government, in association with National Taitung University and several private companies, is trying to develop the local economy through online platforms, new tourist services, and vocational training.
Urban. Urban is Taipei, with all its department stores and trendy restaurants. Urban is the bars near the Xinyi Shopping District, and paying far too much for a beer. Urban is the hum of the MRT, and the buildings viewed through a freeway overpass.
Rural. Rural is Yunlin, where even the "local" 7-11 is a long walk away. Rural is the day market up in Yu Li, where the locals sip noodles beneath scant shade and sweat. Rural is the clack of the slow train as it passes through yet another town, whose name you won't remember.
Modern. Modern is that one place next to that one MRT station that has more Western things than the West has Western things. You can have some of the things if you've brought your credit card, but if you haven't don't bother.
Ancient. Ancient is walking over bricks in Tainan. Bricks that were placed there before the city where I was born existed. Bricks that bore the weight of horses before they bore the weight of cars. Bricks that have resonated with centuries of fireworks. Bricks that remember times long forgotten.
Crowded. Crowded is the doors of the temple before the first day of the lunar new year. Crowded is all of the bodies straining to get inside, to be the first to plant their incense before the idols. Crowded is also the starting line near the "Big Egg," with all the bodies likewise straining.
Empty. Empty is the industrial parks around Chinese New Year, the places where everybody works but where nobody is from. Empty is the fields east of Chao Jhou, where few bother to grow things, and fewer bother to travel. Empty is the old factories that speak of industries moved elsewhere.
High. High, of course, is up in the mountains. High, if you can get far enough away from a road, is a good place to be. People bring a lot of things to get high. They travel in groups, and they are wary of reptiles. High is not easy to get to, but it's much easier to get from.
Low. Low is the land near Bu Dai, the land submerged during the typhoons. Low is the place so low that many people have gone away, and the houses only emerge when it's dry enough, and high enough, for old bricks to remember better times.
Legal. Legal is the policeman waiting in Da Ren to catch me. He knows, I think, that I drive without a license. Legal is the cameras that lie in wait along the highway, and the men in bright vests waiting to flag me down. Legal is a real worry.
Illegal. Illegal is perhaps too many beers in, and perhaps something I had best not talk about. Illegal is neon lights, and the promise of something secret enough to be greater. Between legal and illegal there is only the slightest step, the slightest shift away from center.
Theirs. Theirs is everything I don't like about Taiwan. It's the attitudes, the provincialisms, and the languages I don't understand. Theirs is ignorance and superstition. Theirs is xenophobia and a jumping off to strange conclusions. Theirs is the herd, and the knowledge that I'll never be that type of animal.
Mine. Mine is everything I like about Taiwan. It's the attitudes, the provincialisms, and languages I do understand. Mine is knowledge and rationality. Mine is welcoming smiles and a shared comprehension. Mine is a friend, and the knowledge that I don't need to be that type of animal.