Saturday, June 28, 2003

TV Tidbits
There's a station here that spends hours showing you how to play certain video games. The funny thing is, most of them are just your basic kung-fu punch ups.
And speaking of TV, do they advertise Heineken in the states? It's one of the few imported beers here, and they have been playing an ad with Jennifer Anniston (1 "n" or 2?). She can't reach the 2 Heinekens left on the top shelf, so she pulls her look-I'm cute-help-me look for this guy, who sees the 2 beer, gets them, and leaves with them. I'm not a celebrity watcher, but that commercial is funny mainly because we all know who she is.
During the day there are at least 8 stations that show stock market prices. In the evenings, those same stations are filled with people pointing at charts commenting on the minute-by-minute and long-term changes those stocks are having. Late at night, they are filled with old men talking about the charts.
Channel V, the Asian video channel, shows videos from all over the world, but particularly Japan, Korea, and China. There's a current hit by a Taiwanese kid. The video is of him performing his song in a middle school auditorium. Every Taiwanese auditorium has a picture of Sun Yat-sen and the Taiwan (Republic of China) flag. Channel V is based in Hong Kong, so the Taiwan flag is blurred out through the whole video. Sun Yat-sen on the other hand, is spared, as he is still considered cool in Communist China, for ending the Empire and beginning new China.

Friday, June 20, 2003

I used to like singing. I wrote songs, I performed publicly.
Today, after singing "I'm a Little Teapot" for the 100th time this week, I realized that I don't like singing that much anymore.
Do cooks always eat take-out when they're off duty?
Do librarians read "Weekly World News?"
Do personal injury lawyers just look at their car and say to the other guy, "Ahh. Don't worry about it. Too much trouble."?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Hong Kong - An expatriate who walked into a restaurant in eastern China wearing a T-shirt listing 10 things Chinese people should not do to foreigners was ordered to issue a public apology, a news report said Monday.
The T-shirt, printed in Chinese, included tips not to stare at foreigners, not to shout "hello" to every foreigner, and not to try to convince them to stay in bad hotels, according to the South China Morning Post.
The expatriate, whose nationality was not given, called police because he felt "threatened" by the hostile reaction his T-shirt generated in the restaurant in Nanjing.
Police later made him issue a public apology for insulting Chinese people to calm the situation, the newspaper said. - Sapa-DPA

Having never seen that shirt, I think I can guess pretty much what those 10 things were:
1. Stop staring.
2. Don't shout "Hello!" to every foreigner you see.
3. Don't try to convince me to stay in a bad hotel (these three are from the report, though I've never experienced #3)
4. Don't ask, "What do you think of this country?" if you're not prepared to hear the bad bits, too.
5. Don't ask, "How much money do you make?"
6. Don't ask, "Are you married?"
7. Don't start a conversation with "I must practice my English."
8. Don't encourage your children to talk to me on the street.
9. Don't pick your nose in front of me.
10. Maybe you could just leave me alone.

To be fair, the foreigner deserved a little bit of trouble for actually wearing the shirt in public. I imagine foreigners living in America could make an equally irritating list that might start with, "I'm not deaf or stupid. Please don't talk to me like I'm a retard."

Monday, June 16, 2003

Advice to an unlikely crowd:
If your ISP is the local Taiwan telephone monopoly, don't bother calling their toll-free number to tell them their service is shit.

When I was in the Philippines, I really felt like I was in a third world country. Coming back to Taiwan I felt like I was in Switzerland by comparison.
But, today I realized that I'm living in a country where you can hit poultry on the road while riding your scooter.
Note to chicken: I'm really sorry.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Every key on my keyboard has 4 characters on it. There's the alphabet, 2 Chinese characters, and a 3rd symbol that Chinese people can use to enter their language phoenetically. Chinese is just not meant for the modern world.
Once, when I misplaced my wallet, I tried to use Chinese to ask someone if they'd seen it. Unfortunately, I asked them if they'd seen my foreskin (they hadn't). That's the sort of thing that happens with this language. My phrasebook points out another possible mistake, whereby a "poem" becomes a "handful of shit." At least I can understand that one. No one's foreskin is big enough for a wallet.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Do you remember "Speed Racer?"
I think he's living in Taiwan now. And driving a scooter. Today, I saw two guys running into each other on their scooters, and it looked to me like they were each trying to knock the other guy off. I was waiting for one of them to go spinning off into space ass over teakettle, but they just kept at it until I made my turn. No one else seemed to pay much attention. I guess it's just the sort of thing I should expect to see at 8:30 a.m. It would go some way toward explaining an absolutely true fact: Every vehicle here has a dent, scratch, or other traffic-caused flaw. Even the Jaguars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Souveneirs from Boracay Island, Philippines:
1. Tie-dyed sarong, for the wall. I tried it on, but it wasn't my color.
2. Boring vacation video.
3. 20-peso note (about 40 cents). The locals would be pissed if they knew I had it, because there seems to be a chronic shortage of change on the island.
4. Small but extremely painful hole in my foot.
5. Sunburn.
6. Camera, ruined by sailboat excursion.

...and it was great. A side note to potential tourists: the local radio station plays nothing but pop hits from the 80s and 90s. You may have thought you had already heard enough Phil Collins, Whitney Houston and Chicago to last you a lifetime. You were wrong.

And now back to work. I've got a headache from yelling over my students all day, and I just discovered that there is no summer vacation anymore. My boss tried to placate me by telling me that I still get all the national holidays. And of course, in Taiwan, Saturday and Sunday are considered vacation. I already need another vacation. I'll just have to call in sick for a week.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I know everyone got out of the habit of reading this and discovered they weren't missing much. Well, more power to ya. you need to stop playing on the computer and do your job.
I'm here. On Boracay Island. It looks like the pictures. It's fantastic. I recommend it to anyone for any reason whatsoever. Unless you want fast internet connections. And hot water. Then maybe you should stay home.
Tropical islands are lucky they're too small to support communities of expat English teachers. And the locals already know English. Particularly if you want to rent a motorcycle, buy a watch, or have food.
Come here, or go to your nearest available tropical island. One without cars and concrete hotels.
Be back in the groove (grind?) later...