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Comedy of errors

Sundays are usually straightforward, but yesterday was the most complicated day I’ve had in a long while.  It started off well: I met my private 1-on-1 student on time and had a very informative conversation about civil law systems and common law systems, then went home to hang out for a bit.

Everything started to go wrong when I began to study my planned route to the hash in Sanxia.  My co-worker was resolved to go, and since he intends to buy my scooter and I wanted practice before I make my way to Jiufen by scooter, I thought we’d scooter there together, especially since I feel much more settled and comfortable on a scooter when I have someone on the back.  It seemed the national freeways didn’t allow scooters, but I wasn’t quite sure, so after consulting with him, we set off on the scooter.  We made it to Banqiao without problem, but then I asked a person beside us at a stoplight if we could go on the 3.  It was good I did, because my suspicions from earlier were true!

Sorry I have no pictures from this fiasco, but please enjoy this adorable bread from October.

After getting some ridiculously complicated–or just in Chinese too advanced for me–directions at a 7-11, I decided we should just go to Banqiao Station and take the train like the run’s organizers suggested.  At this point, we would have been only a little bit late, and my hopes were still high, but once we got off the train in Yingge, we couldn’t find a single taxi.  We walked down toward the center of the town, and when we finally found a taxi and hopped in, he kicked us out because he didn’t go where we were heading.  A gas station attendant recommended a bus, which we caught pretty quickly, but it was after 3pm by this point.  We quickly got a taxi, but we were supposed to follow flour from the freeway exit, and I couldn’t make that clear to the driver.  After trying to call a few people, we just had him take us back to Yingge, where we walked the pottery street and took a much needed break at a restaurant.

A bus brought us back to the MRT, and we parted ways as I went to pick up the scooter.  I thought I was safe, but no.  It had started raining while we were on the bus chatting about politics and such, so I got on my scooter a soggy mess.  I set off and had a strange problem with the engine just sputtering out.  Throttling up seemed to help, and so I proceeded until I mistakenly believed myself to be at the Sanchong bridge which would have taken me home the easy way.  I had missed the turn, so I started a long loop through some side streets and alleys where my scooter died for real.  An old man in front of a grocery store couldn’t really help, so he directed me to a scooter repair shop, which, it being Sunday, was closed.  I left it in a parking spot and trudged off to a bus stop.

The bright side?  The bus home went by Longshan Temple and I got a lead on a Christmas gift for one of my brothers.  Also, I saw a little bit of a traditional puppet show that was just puppets fighting each other to the clamor of cymbals and possibly live music.  It was part of a festival, and I’m totally going back before it ends.

And that was Sunday.

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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?

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.

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!

“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?

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!

Titular absurdities

This challenge always cracks me up, and I’m proud to say I’ve got two long ones this time!  I guess I’m feeling more creative than before

Both are four books long, and the first one requires no additional words of any kind.  Without further ado, I present this mystic mantra:

Sacred hearts ghost-walk the world inside the ear, the eye, and the arm.

Well, lawd-a-mercy!  Crazy things are going on everywhere!

Bless me, Ultima! The starfish and the spider rendezvous with Rama on the island of Dr. Moreau!

Actually, the last one sounds like it could be a code phrase from Captain America.  Was that movie awful or was it awful?!