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Archive for July, 2010

The house is a home

I didn’t know until at probably middle school that mechanics were considered crooks, or at the very least, untrustworthy and shady.  My dad was always the helpful hero, magically diagnosing and fixing people’s car problems, so when I found out the common perception, I was shocked.

That said, I don’t think I’m going to rock anyone’s world with this observation: movers are the worst!  After some searching, one of my coworkers helped me arrange a really excellent and clearly outlined deal.  When they arrived, they tried to play us for fools and more than double the price because they didn’t “know they would need the big truck.”  We clarified and explained and bargained, and eventually kicked them out.  I should add that the boss of the pair was a stereotype to end all stereotypes: sweaty, ratty shirt, betel nut teeth, flabby gut…

Fortunately, we found another place who was more expensive but upfront about it and just plain personable.  The two guys were strong and fast and very jokey, and even though they upped the price by 200 NT, I really didn’t begrudge them it.  It was also kind of cool because they were Hakka, and if I had known earlier, I would have asked for a few words.

We had hoped to start moving at 11, but nothing actually got to my house until 4, and things weren’t settled and completed for another few hours after that.  As it is, I’ve still got a lot to do tomorrow, but at least I’ve got a much prettier home to do it in!

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Ell-o See

Homework for my students usually includes a listening comprehension component (LC), which I think is a good thing.  The assignments for the lower levels often require drawing and this is my best source of amusement at work.  I also think this is a good thing.

I present to you “My Family,” a tragic tale of a cool but unhandsome dad, a pretty mom, the homework-writing child, and an ugly, ugly sister.

That poor girl. That poor, poor girl.

Most of the kids had trouble expressing the ugly dad (which is possibly a little sweet), but after a brief reminder, Herman came through like a champion.  My favorite part, though, is the sister.  Her facial expression is amazing: so full of resentment and rage at her hideous looks and the dress she’s been forced into.  I also like how the mom is rocking a slightly aboriginal outfit (this is my guess, since the original dad’s outfit looks a bit similar).

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Today was a good day, if I consider the start of the day to be 11:40!  I finished up a two week subbing stretch which means BANK!, plus the kids were great.  I’ll soon be finished with my own little …bunch, which I’m not too bothered about, though I think I’ll miss the original few or perhaps more accurately, the ones I consider the core class.

In other news, I saw the Hello Kitty car again today, wedged up into a parking spot I didn’t know existed in front of the PX Mart.

In other news, my Taiwanese teacher/fried food vendor now has an older buddy who has the thickest accent in the world.  I had been starting to wonder about when my ability to detect accents in Chinese would emerge (beyond the most basic this is Beijing and this is Taiwan), but I’ve totally got it down with this guy.  Half of his words sounded like he was speaking Taiwanese!  He was very helpful, but food words don’t get you far with building useful grammatical sentences.  I really want to buy this Taiwanese book, but I haven’t had the money or the time to get into Taipei and find these people.  Maybe next weekend!

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Buses are the best

I love buses in Taiwan for a number of reasons, and I am going to share them with you now.

They are air-conditioned, which is vital in the summer, whether the bus is packed or not.

They are frequent and the routes often overlap for convenience.

They are crazy cheap, especially if you use the MRT before or after, since there’s a half-off deal that is the best thing to hit transportation since the wheel.

I haven’t met a hateful driver yet.  Every morning, I take one of three possible buses to Chinese class.  I always hope I get the 99 around 7:30 because the driver is so funny.  He rocks a sexy late-night jazz DJ voice as he announces the stops (most buses have an automatic voice, but I get the feeling this guy disabled his so he could talk more!), and he says good morning and thank you to everyone that gets on and off the bus.  He also occasionally poses questions to the riders, such as “Is our bus too cold?”  I have to get his name next time I’m on that bus.

The only real downside I can think of is that I haven’t yet figured out the numbering system, but that’s not their fault.

And maybe wallpaper?

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G-A-Y!

This kid's home is plagued by spirits.

This story is a little old, but I just came from grading papers at work and I saw the students who originated this story.

Classes are set up with two 50 minutes halves split by a 10 minute break.  The students’ break is usually consumed by correcting their homework or quiz and test mistakes, but sometimes they’re able to eke out a few minutes to run around the hallways.  One day, this kid Marks (you read that right) lurches up to me hugging another boy (Wilson) tight and giggles “Teacher, we are G-A-Y!”

Um, what?!  So I told them, “OK, cool, but you cannot kiss anybody in class,” which I think was not the reaction they were looking for.  They didn’t figure on a teacher from Los Angeles!

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What a difference!

It makes such a difference just to get out of my city on the weekends! After about a month of spending weekends watching TV, doing Chinese homework, and taking myself on little walks around thrilling Xinzhuang, I was able to get into Taipei to hang out with my friends and just chill. We caught up on Glee and watched Toy Story 3, but most of all, we enjoyed each others’ company. It was great, and next weekend should be even better as I hope to go to Yingge. Finally, a place I haven’t gone yet!

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I’m not sure why my Step Ahead 15 class read about Thanksgiving last week except perhaps that the level’s theme is culture.  I guess the curriculum can’t really coordinate with the actual seasons because the classes start and end willy-nilly, but it’s a little surreal to read simplistic explanations of Thanksgiving from Taiwanese elementary school kids in the heat of July.

It got even more surreal when I read this:

They taught them how to plant corn, catch fire and use plants for the forests.

I didn’t know that at all!  See, that’s the thing about teaching: you’re always learning.

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