Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving.
Of course, it's not a holiday here, but I am contemplating taking tomorrow off so I can get an early start on my Christmas shopping. These days, I have about 3 people to buy presents for, and this year, none of it's coming from Taiwan. I'm doing all my shopping online.
I mean, there's a limit to the number of junky trinkets and tourist kitsch you can send your family. The cynical part of me just thinks I'll get saddled with boxes of the stuff returned to me unopened when they read the will and settle the estates in years to come.
Anyway. Eat a turkey. Go easy on the eggnog.

Friday, November 21, 2003

It's been over 75 degrees (25C), day and night, for months. Now it's 68 (20C), and I'm cold. But even so, I don't miss the
winters back home, when they got down to minus 40, and I still had to go to work.

Monday, November 17, 2003

A 5-year-old student in one of my classes has a lovely little t-shirt.
It's black, and has a grainy photograph of a baby in the middle. And the text, unusually in Taiwan, is in perfect English.
It says, "Of all the girls who were raped last year, how many of them do you think asked for it?"
Isn't that just darling? I told my boss that it was totally offensive and horrible, and he chose to ignore me. After all, what do you tell the parents?

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I expected Okinawa to be a bit more...tropical. But in fact, it is, like Taiwan, just one big city from South to North.

Well, it's not that bad, and to be fair, it was much cleaner and organized than anywhere I've been in Taiwan. The buses ran right on schedule, and everyone waits at traffic lights. I probably confused a number of drivers when I waited for them to pull in front of me at crosswalks, but they stopped to wait for me instead.

There are wonderful beaches there, and lots of posh luxury hotels overlooking them. But it takes hours to leave the city behind, and even then it felt more like suburbs than countryside. I'm sure my three-day visit didn't do it justice, but if you're longing for a beach holiday, and have loads of money to spend, it might be quite nice.

There is also, unfortunately, a huge U.S. military presence there. It's good for the local economy, but they tend to get into mischief, when they're off the base. Also, there's the matter of the 250,000 locals that were killed in WWII. But, I didn't get any grief, even though these days I look like a soldier with my homemade haircut. For me, the military is a mixed blessing, because they do broadcast many popular American TV shows for the soldiers (and out-of-towners with TVs in their hotel rooms), but in place of advertisements, they have some absolutely wretched Military-Information-Officer-Produced service announcements and information segments. It seems like they could just air the shows without commericials. I watched David Letterman for the first time in years on Friday night.

Because the tickets are cheap from Taiwan, Okinawa is a good place for a visa run. I added a page to my website detailing how to go about it, because I couldn't find anything on the internet before I went. The best advice I got was at the tourist information counter in the Naha airport.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Everyone wants to see my picture.

I'm trying to immigrate to Canada. Long story. So, I got some photos for the application. But in a frenzy of Taiwan-style government work, I've had to give them all away this week. I needed 2 pictures for a medical exam, and 5 to re-apply for a job I already have. I've still got one left, but I know they'll ask me for 3 or 4 when I go to get a tourist visa in Okinawa tomorrow. Not to mention the us$100 I'm going to have to give them for the privilege of going back to my home in Taiwan to do my job.

Sure, the Taiwanese have created a pretty impressive economy, but sometimes I wonder how they managed with all this government. I'm not against government as such, I just wish someone, somewhere had the slightest idea what was going on. The people who seem to know the least about my predicament, are, inexplicably, the people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Curse. Swear. Bitch...

Friday, November 07, 2003

So I'm still irritated, but things are looking up.
Next Thursday, I have to go to Okinawa for a new tourist visa. The governmental logic behind this escapes me, but I don't care at this point. My boss, as an apology for his own negligence, in telling me not to worry about all this before it turned out that I should be worrying, is buying the plane ticket.
I also don't care because I've spent Friday evening dowing a 6-pack and watching "Escape from Alcatraz" on HBO Asia.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Almost everyone I know has gone AWOL from their blogs, except for IA, who maintains his even on the road, and Lotus, who just took a 3 month break and is renewed with vigor.
I kind of feel like going AWOL myself. Of course, it may be mandatory.
My school didn't do their job properly in helping me with my work visa. So even though it has more than a week until it expires, there seems to be nothing I can do but watch my current visa expire while I twiddle my thumbs.
That means, I have to leave the country, get a tourist visa, and come back and then...oh Jesus it's too irritating, I don't want to go on about it anymore.

In other amazing news, I saw a squirrel in the city for the first time ever.

Monday, November 03, 2003

I'm getting old.
I'm not 30 (quite) yet, it's 11 o'clock, and I already feel like it's past my bedtime.
Gone are the days when I would pull an all-nighter. Fortunately, though, the need for such things has long past. When I leave work at 5 pm, I don't think about it until the next morning.
Instead, I fill all that time with crochety old-man-type activities. I just did the crossword puzzle, and I read the newspaper stories about the Middle East.

Pretty soon I'll have a bald spot, reading glasses, and slippers next to the bed.

Old, old, old.