Friday, November 29, 2002

I laughed yesterday as I stepped out of my building on the way to work and saw a senior citizen with one of those pink plastic bags that are ubiquitous throughout Asia on top of her head, to protect her curls from the rain, as she did her morning tai chi exercises.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Despite that fact that I went to MIT, over concern over my Nerd Pride credentials--I constantly confuse Star Wars for Star Trek, and vice versa (having never seen the original Star Wars trilogy or watched much of Star Trek)--Benson, Jen, and Eric thought we should have a Star Wars movie marathon Saturday night to bring me up to speed.

Unfortunately, since the original trilogy is not available on DVD, and due to technical difficulties with rapidly becoming out-of-date technology (the VCR), Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia had to be given up in favor of "Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace" and "Mission to Mars". We hit the wall, so to speak, after "Mission to Mars," so after a long rest, my movie marathon ended with "Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan" last night.

And what have I learned from this education? Even a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, talented young children were as precocious and (at times) as annoying as they are now. And even in the 23rd century, some men (such as Khan) need to work on anger management so that it does not get in the way of achieving their goals.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

I forgot to mention that the Mandarin pronounciation of Harry Potter is something like ha li po te (Harry is pronounced like Halle, as in Halle Berry, and Potter comes out like "poah-tuh"). Now imagine a bunch of Taiwanese kids jumping up and shouting, "Harry Potter, Harry Potter!" Cute, huh?

I finally have climbing photos from my trip to Lung Dung (long dong)! Lung Dung is on the northeast coast of Taiwan, past the port city of Keelung. The area is known for it's fishing and scuba diving, and the scenery is quite nice. We had a few climbing routes, several on the cliff edging the hiking trail, and another on an outcropping of stone near the water. I was quite proud of myself when I reached the top of my last route, which I thought was the most challenging. This was my first time climbing outdoors, and compared to the indoor rock climbing gym, I found climbing outdoors to me more of a mental, rather than physical, challenge.

Friday, November 22, 2002

I found out the proper name for the Chinese massage treatments I have been receiving is called acupressure, which predates acupuncture by 2,500 years.

Tonight, Jen and I will go see the latest Harry Potter flick courtesy of my company. I am looking forward to 2 hours and 41 minutes of magic, spells, and flying broomsticks. Warner Brothers has done a great job marketing the film here. A few weeks ago, I was waiting at an intersection when a city bus sped by, an advertisement for the film emblazoned on the side. "Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Daddy, I can't wait to see the film!" cried two little kids, as they jumped up and down and tugged at their father's arms.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Yesterday, a woman in her late 50s or early 60s got caught in the doors of a city bus. She was boarding the bus from the back doors when the bus driver shut the doors and took off, unaware that one of his passengers was caught in the door until her cries and the cries of the other passengers alerted him. Taking the bus is cheap in Taiwan, less than fifty cents, but board quickly and hang on tight!

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

As they say, what a small world we live in. While doing a search on the web for Asian rock bands, Wayne Pan, my elementary and middle school classmate, stumbled across this humble blog. I haven't seen him in over five years.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Saturday after Carol and I finished volunteering at the nursery, I met up with Benson, Barbara, and Eric at the mountaineering store to salivate over (and purchase) climbing equipment in preparation for Sunday's climbing trip to Longdong. After money was exchanged between our party and the shop proprietors, Barbara had to go to a wedding, and the rest of us went to the West Gate District for the best niu rou mian (beef noodle soup) in Taipei. We wandered through Camera Street (where I finally got a rugged compact camera bag for my new Canon S200 digital camera) and then headed over to Nova, for more salivating, this time over electronica. Mobile phones, PDAs, wireless routers, tablet computers, iMacs, and iPods, oh my!

Friday, November 08, 2002

Today at the gym, two middle-aged ladies were HOGGING the cross-trainers, gossiping away instead of actually using the machines. After they noticed me looking at them, they half-heartedly stepped a little harder, but didn't pause their chatter. I gave up and instead jogged a few kilometers on the treadmill. Grrr.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Yesterday, I went with Jen to see a Chinese masseuse. Now, these are not the kind of massages that you think "ahhh" while receiving it. Rather, the experience is more like:

"Oh, found a spot where your chi is blocked. Let me push harder to get that chi flowing again!"

In any case, I think it works. I feel like my body is in better balance, and for less than US$10, this certainly does just as much good as taking a battery of tests and popping pills to figure out what is off. I definitely sleep really well the night after receiving the massage.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Alex appointed me to be the department representative at a quarterly meeting Human Resources held to hear employees concerns and suggestions about improving the work environment. This was a most instructive meeting, as it was conducted all in Chinese. I discovered one of the most pressing issues at hand is the funky smell of the toilet paper in the women's restrooms. Personally, I have never bothered to sniff, and as far as I can tell, the paper does its job fine, but gosh darn it, some fellow colleagues of mine have a problem. I wanted to suggest using regular facial tissue to blow one's nose (and leave the toilet paper for soley its intended purpose) or not inhaling, but refrained from doing so.

Now, my question is: do all corporations--around the world--eventually deal with employee concerns such as this? Or is this something specific to Taiwan?

Monday, November 04, 2002

Today, Jenny helped me to print out the lyrics to two songs by Mayday, a Taiwanese rock band. One song's lyrics are in Mandarin, the other is in Taiwanese. I am determined to learn them before the next round of KTV. Flora's farewell KTV party last Friday reminded me once again how much I want to learn some Taiwanese songs. James and May had kindly given me a VCD of Mayday's album so that I could practice the songs at home. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet learned the songs when they showed up Friday night. "Berta!" May chided me, "you should know this song!"

I attempted to sing some familiar melodies, Taiwanese folk songs that my parents and their friends sang while I was growing up. One of these days, I'll have to ask my mom for the lyrics and the romanization, since my character-reading skills are still quite limited. A great feature of going to KTV, though, is that hearing the words and seeing the characters improves both my Mandarin and Taiwanese reading skills.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Double-fermented, extra-funky, super-foul stinky tofu

My colleague Jenny brought in chou doufu ru to the office for our colleague, Richard. Richard is quite fond of this product, which is fermented chou doufu. And what is chou doufu you may ask? Literally, it means "stinky tofu" and is tofu that is fermented in a brine till it take a distinctive odor. Stinky tofu can be served steamed or fried. Now, I like my soy products and tofu in many of its forms. But the smell of stinky tofu (which reminds me of an open sewer) always makes me nauseous. In comparison, this twice-fermented stinky tofu, chou doufu ru, made stinky tofu smell like a designer perfume. Even many of the locals can't stand the smell.

Of course, Richard would have to open the package to accompany his oyster rice noodle soup, which Carol had treated the whole office to. I had to move to another part of the floor for over an hour to get away from the smell.