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Archive for the ‘Taiwan’ Category

Standing invitation

On Sunday, I intend to ride my scooter to Sanxia with my 9-foot-tall coworker riding pillion, and since I haven’t run that little machine in a good six months, I took it in for a check-up.  Since I wasn’t able to start it, I wasn’t surprised to find it needed a new battery, but I took care of that and got it washed and pumped up, all for just $850.

Since the washing took a bit of time, I was able to chat with the two mechanics, and as usual, answered a lot of questions about myself, especially since they see me basically every night as I walk home.  At one point, they broke into Taiwanese and I understood a bit.  When it became obvious I was sort of following, the conversation turned to speaking Taiwanese, whereupon I began bitching about the crazy difficulties.  The mechanic washing my scooter promptly shut me down by telling me that I just need to practice more.  As we finished the transaction, he invited me to stop by and practice any time.  How can I resist?

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Giggles

It was so much bigger in real life...

Halloween just passed, but let me show you a little picture of what greeted me in the stairwell a few days ago.  It was not fun and I definitely screamed a tiny bit.

Now, on an unrelated note, I’d like to talk about a strange mistake I’ve been hearing from my students more and more these last few weeks.  It really cracks me up because they sound like Gollum: clothes said as “clotheses” and eyes said as “eyeses.”  It’s definitely an understandable mistake, but it’s a new in my experience.  I wonder if there’s a TV show or personality who’s been doing this as a joke…

On that Gollum note, one of my highest level students also speaks German and is studying French right now, so she has a very peculiar accent.  When she talks about hobbies and habits, the words meld and twist until she’s talking about hobbits.  I wanted to let her keep saying it that way, but she works for the government and I thought it would just be too mean.

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Chickens

Shying away from the camera...

I went for a little walk this morning to run errands and what should I see but chickens in the park!  Not my park, but Dalong Park a little way up the street.  My park is the frog park, although I’ve never seen the little guys; I’m guessing Dalong Park is the chicken park!

They were hilarious, scratching and squawking in the leaves.  I gobbled at them a few times, but they weren’t having it and just bounced away quickly.  I had more luck whistling to the caged bird hanging by the mechanics’ near the shoe store.  At least he cawed back.

All in all, a fun, animal-filled jaunt, all in less than an hour.

It wasn't hard to catch up with them, though!

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“Can you sing?”

Last time the read-a-thon rolled around, I was powering through The Return of the King, but as I read this conversation between Denethor and Pippin, I had to stop and ponder for a few minutes.

‘What would you do in my service?’
‘I thought, sir, that you would tell me my duties.’
‘I will, when I learn what you are fit for,’ said Denethor. ‘But that I shall learn soonest, maybe, if I keep you beside me. The esquire of my chamber has begged leave to go to the out-garrison, so you shall take his place for a while. You shall wait on me, bear errands, and talk to me, if war and council leave me any leisure. Can you sing?
‘Yes,’ said Pippin. ‘Well, yes, well enough for my own people. But we have no songs fit for great halls and evil times, lord. We seldom sing of anything more terrible than wind or rain. And most of my songs are about things that make us laugh; or about food and drink, of course.’
‘And why should such songs be unfit for my halls, or for such hours as these? We who have lived long under the Shadow may surely listen to echoes from a land untroubled by it? Then we may feel that our vigil was not fruitless, though it may have been thankless.’

I perhaps didn’t think about it as much as I should have, and in July I was surprised by my Chinese teacher pulling a movie-Denethor!  We had no warning, but were told to sing a folk song for our classmates.  I foolishly chose “Little Sadie,” a gruesome and kind of hard to sing ballad, which was awkward to explain after I finished.  I feel I could defend it now, but off-the-cuff and in Chinese?  It was tough.

We don’t really have bards, troubadours, or song-of-greeting traditions any more, but I’m bringing it back for a day.  Here’s the challenge: represent yourself, your country, or your people (whoever they may be) with one song.  You don’t need to sing it yourself, but I’d still like to hear the tune, so provide a link or video and tiny explanation in the comments or on your own blog, and I will choose the winner after 3 hours.  That means time is up at 0700 UTC.

For prizes, see this post, but know that there will be a book for first place, and postcards for 2nd and 3rd.  It’s international, my friends!  Now, can you sing?

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Prizes!

The cover of The Analects, giving you a sense of the artist's style.

I worried that the challenge post was becoming too long, so here are the prize choices.

I’m living in Taiwan right now, which I think influenced me quite a bit in coming up with this challenge!  Because of that, I am offering some Chinese books: comic book versions of classics.  Oh yes.  They’re by the excellent Taiwanese artist 蔡志忠, and I can offer you one of the following: 論說孫子兵法聊齋志異.  If you are consumed by a desire to have a different story, I’ll see if I can find it for you, but these are the ones I know I can get in my bookstore, and the first two are quite funny, for all that they’re philosophical texts.  Let me repeat: these books will be written in traditional Chinese characters, but the art is very cute and fun.

If you can find no use for something like this, you can choose a book from the read-a-thon’s prize pool.  Second and third place will get a postcard from Taiwan, with Chinese writing if they want it.  Please contact me via the “email me!” link in the sidebar.  Thanks for playing!

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I should have just lettered them off A-Z, my new class of travel agents.  There are 26 and it’s possible that I might have more next week (I’ll go into Greek letters).  Then again, it’s possible I might have less, but I’m not hopeful.  This class has nearly two times what a standard corporate class should have, but am I being paid for two classes?  Of course not!  I work for a company where my cataloging proposal for the teacher’s resource shelf has to get past the CEO.

All that aside, it was not a terrible class.  I was able to wrangle a better classroom right off the bat and there are multimedia capabilities, so I’m thinking of working in plenty of video.  Do they have Muzzy for English?  How magnificently creepy that would be!

Now for the pun: some weeks ago I went for a Kung Fu Panda 2/X-Men: First Class double feature.  It was fun enough, but the best part was reading and comprehending a Taiwanese joke on a movie poster.  It puns “we” and “blue” and I love it (probably too much).  My Taiwanese teacher and classmates were not as impressed as me (except possibly the other American), but that’s okay.  For your enjoyment, I present a dark, slightly fuzzy poster for the Smurfs movie’s Taiwan release.  Have fun!

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Life news round-up

Last Friday I was walking home from the bus stop when I saw three boys practicing weapons in my neighborhood park.  When I asked what they were doing, the boy with the rattling spear said it was for a temple fair in Luzhou.  Tragically, as it was the end of the night, my brain and my Chinese were shot and I couldn’t really formulate any good questions before he lost patience or interest and turned away.  I do have some video of a temple’s fighting group somewhere; I’ll have to find it!

I’m going to Malaysia on Friday, basically right after I take the foreign service test (and bomb, presumably).  It’ll be a lovely distraction, since I also had a big ol’ final today for Chinese.

Speaking of Chinese, I have been having a grand time with my language exchange buddy, who I feel really gets the short end of the stick.  His English is already so good that he focuses more on me.  Last time, he brought a comic book version of The Art of War (which rocked!) and this collection of Chinese ghost stories which I have in mind as a gift for a certain middle school bff.

My other personal time one-on-one is a lawyer who just wants to discuss news, which is fine by me!  He’s quite articulate and challenging; I really only work hard to keep up, not to help his English.  Last Sunday we talked about Taiwan and China, and what he thinks could happen if China were provoked.  It was a little bit chilling.  We almost got into their one child policy, but I told him to hold off until our next meeting; I want to take info about the gender imbalances in India and China.  Contrast their policy differences that have done nothing to fix this problem and such.

The last piece of news relates to a wonderful hash I attended that same Sunday.  The weather has been rainy and gray this past week and half or so, but that day it was perfect for a mountain run.  The cloudy sky kept the temperature comfortably low but never let fall any significant rain, and the hares led us through some crazy trails including a piss-scented valley, an illegal canyon (man-made), and about 3 hours of 87° uphill slopes.  I exaggerate, but only a little.  For me, though, the best part was my Chinese fluency that day.  It recovered fully from the incident with the weapons boys and–my favorite part about the Taiwanese hashers–got few criticisms and even fewer compliments.  As it should be!

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