Thursday, January 29, 2004

Have you ever made it all the way to work before you decide to call in sick?
After spending last night throwing up and sleeping poorly, I thought if I could just make it to work today, I'd be fine. But then the thought of dealing with all those kids all day long got to me. So I left work 20 minutes into my day, after getting up at 7:00, driving my scooter to work in the rain, and dreading the next 8 hours.
For what it's worth, I'm feeling much better now.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Winter Cleaning

One of the traditions of the Chinese New Year in Asia is that you have to give everything a good cleaning before the day comes. You can't clean during the new year, because you will sweep all your wealth away during the next year. Being a somewhat fastidious sort, I'm all for the cleaning, but it seems like a country as dirty as Taiwan would make it a point to clean behind the furniture more than once a year.

The year of the Monkey starts tomorrow. God help us all.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

There's no feeling quite like the one where you go to work while your partner is still in bed sleeping because he's already on vacation.

It's not a nice feeling.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

In the Taiwan News, one of three local English papers, every day contains something interesting. On page 2, the sidebar has lots of useful information. In addition to the weather and the air quality index for the day, there is also:
1. The Lunar Prophecy. For instance, It's a good day for breaking ground, funerals, and beginning a journey. It's a bad day for installing stoves (?), taking a bath (!), and paying debts.
2. Yesterday's seismic activity, complete with a map of Taiwan showing the epicenter, the fault lines, and the magnitude.

There's not an earthquake every day, but the fact that they reserve a space for one in the daily paper suggests something that I would rather not think about. And how can it ever be a bad day for taking a bath?

Monday, January 12, 2004

Do Chinese people in America celebrate Chinese New Year by taking 6 days off? I was wondering about that when I told my boss I wasn't coming in for Christmas.

Friday, January 09, 2004

My school, unlike many of the thousands of schools that employ foreigners as English teachers, does not, thankfully, have a lot of management bullshit. No conniving boss, no employee backstabbing, no cheating on the paycheck.
But, I have to get up to be at work tomorrow, Saturday, at 7:30. Why? So my kids can sing and dance for their parents. So I'm off to bed.


Thursday, January 08, 2004

Unpleasant moment of the day:

Waiting at a red light next to a street vendor that sells "stinky tofu." That's the literal translation. And they're not kidding.

Confusing moment of the day:

Another street vendor with a sign that seemed to say, in Chinese, "Not delicious. Don't use money!" My Chinese is poor, and I often can recognize characters that I don't understand in combination. I later realized that a better translation would be, "If you don't like it, you don't pay!"

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Today was payday.
I've been paid in cash for the last 7 years.
That's just how they do things here.
Good for the soul...bad for the bank account.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

A truly convenient store

I have not been interested in maintaining this blog lately. I'm not alone among my friends who must be tired of updating on the comings and goings of their random lives. Not to belittle them, but hey, it is a random bunch.
I leave you today with a tribute to convenience in Taiwan.
There are a few major chains of convenience store in Taiwan, most notably the 7-11 and the Japan-based Family Mart. Others with more unusual names include the "Hi-Life," the "OK," and the "Niko Mart."
Americans are used to stopping by these kinds of stores for an item or two. And though they are often more "convenient" than the local supermarket or mega-store, you usually drive to get to one. In Taiwan, nearly all of the thousands of these stores have no parking. You walk up, or pull off the road a little bit (unless you're an ass, in which case you just block traffic). Or drive up on your scooter.
There are places in the bigger cities that would have 50 or more convenience stores in a square mile. And half of those would be 7-11s. Sometimes they are right across the street from each other. Or you can stand on a corner and see one down the road in every direction. I am not exaggerating.
I don't understand the reason for the sheer number of them, but they are truly wonderful.
Need whiskey, ice, and coke at 3:30 a.m.? 7-11.
Need a newspaper and a pack of smokes? 7-11.
Need to make some photocopies? 7-11.
Need blank CD-Rs and a computer game? 7-11.
Need to pay your electric/gas/water/cable/phone bill? 7-11.
Need a truly awful sandwich and some corn on a stick? 7-11.
Need to receive an international fax? 7-11.
Need to send something by express mail? 7-11.
Need to pick up your on-line shopping purchases? 7-11.
Need a nice gift-box for Chinese New Year? 7-11.
Need a vacation? Hell yes, I do.
Happy New Year.