Friday, February 27, 2004

Man, that's cold

Due to bird flu and SARS fears, they're still taking everyone's temperature twice a day. I don't mind much, because they use the gun-style thermometer that they just point at your forehead.

The thing that does bother me though, is that every day when I come in, they can't get a reading for me. The damn thing just flashes "Lo." And when they do get it to work, my temperature is about 35 degrees (about 94 Fahrenheit). I know body temperature fluctuates, but that seems a bit low. I'd write it off to bad equipment if it weren't for the fact that everyone else seems to weigh in right at the normal temperature.

Am I really that cold-hearted?

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Me and my boyfriend aren't likely to have a baby. To which I (and all those fundamentalist Christians (who are starting to sound like the most intolerant Muslims, by the way)) say, of course, thank God (Allah?). We would like to have some kind of civil recognition of our committment. We've been together almost 7 years. Our desire to stay together is what has kept us overseas for so long. It's just easier.

I find it hard to imagine that we would write exclusion back in to our Constitution. It's just too difficult a process. And when you think about it, all those gay people have families and straight friends, and I'd like to think that most of them would not be so narrow minded. My mom stopped going to her church when some of her church friends started sending "our church must never offer same-sex recognition" e-mails. Of course, Mom's biased now.

I'm not going to preach here, because the truth is that no minds will be changed. At least not before the next election. What I really wanted to do was to say that instead of a baby, we got a dog.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Private. Please Enter

Yesterday on the local news, they covered a story about an unusual local promotional event. To promote a certain kind of women's underwear, they invited participants to enter a large plexiglass box--in front of the crowd and TV cameras-- wearing this underwear. Then, blowers were turned on, and papers filled the air inside the box like a crazy popcorn popper. The papers that the women could collect in a certain amount of time were redeemed for cash afterward.

I suppose that's not too out of the ordinary for a promotion. But a friend who happened to be there told me that the curtained area behind the box where the women changed into this underwear was not closed very well, affording many a view of flesh that was maybe inappropriate.

And I wasn't surprised. In this country, restrooms have urinals in view of open doors. Cleaning women walk in to clean them while men are in there, and no one objects. Parents will pull down kids' pants in the middle of the city to use the bathroom on the sidewalk (or over a drain). TV commercials show little boys sitting on toilets. I guess it all makes sense together, but it's a little hard to take.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

A Taichung Story

I'm 30 years old.

When I was 5, I had a friend named Karl. We did everything together. We walked to kindergarten together. We flooded his sandbox together. We threw stuffed animals on his roof together. And then he moved away, and I never saw or heard from him again.

Flash forward 23 years. After 2 years of living in Taiwan, I enrolled in Chinese class. And guess whose name was on the class list? His name was fairly unique, and his middle name was what I remembered his dad calling him. It had to be him.

But he never showed up for class. After 3 months in the class, I realized one of the girls in class was his girlfriend. I told her to mention to him that someone knew him from his days back in Indiana. When she did mention it to him, he knew it could only have been me. Like me, he carried around the name of that long lost friend in the back of his head. He'd actually been living in Taiwan longer than me, and we never would have met if I hadn't seen his name. Or we could have even met and not realized it.

So we met for drinks. And it was totally bizarre and cool. We got along, and turned out to be about as alike now as we were then. And when you think about it, that makes perfect sense. I mean, what are the chances of running into your kindergarten friend living 10 minutes' walk away from you in the same town almost a half century later?

Better than average, as it turns out.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Today was National Park-Your-Car-in-the-Street Day.
Do they celebrate that where you live?

Monday, February 16, 2004

I recently realized that there are few if any city pigeons in Taiwan. I thought all cities teemed with them. But there's a reason there aren't any. Pigeon racing is a huge gambling pasttime in Taiwan.

So maybe the once-wild pigeons were captured and bred. Or maybe the pollution got them. Or maybe, the wild ones joined up with flocks of racing pigeons and disappeared from the city streets and parks forever. Or possibly, they were all killed by scooters.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Not made for TV

The TV-news networks here love possible jumpers. This week, there were several news crews on the roof of a 7-story building along with the police and a very distraught man. Usually, the police get him (it's always a man) confused, and then jump him. But this week, it didn't go like that.

They lunged for him, and he broke loose, and then he leaped right off the roof. Then they showed his body on the ground, pixellated for our safety. Pretty bad day for the police, but probably good for the TV networks.

So, it was bad TV, but not as bad as a few months ago, when a fire in an apartment block was extensively covered while it burned. The alley it was in was too small for fire trucks, everyone has bars on their windows, and the emergency descent ropes were screwed up, with the result that the cameras caught several people dropping to their deaths. It was no WTC, thank goodness, but it was much more close-up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I watched the Grammies last night. Of course, there was a 12 hour delay, so I already knew most of the winners. Starved for interesting TV as I am, it was good enough. And it wasn't even that interesting.

They were broadcast on Channel V, which is an Asian network in the Murdoch empire. Obviously they're also into the music business, too, because every commercial break had at least 2 commercials for the new Norah Jones album. Sometimes three. And I swear that I am not exaggerating when I say every commercial break. That one 20 second commercial is still haunting me.

I have been out of the popular music loop for years now, so Outkast was new to me. It seems like a fun gang of people. But what the fuck is up with the White Stripes? Are there really just two people, and is that really how they sound? I absolutely don't get it. If that's their gimmick, they need a new one.

The coolest person of the night had to be Samuel L. Jackson. I don't know if this made it past the censors, but he yelled something about "his superfuckingfriends," in one of his long introductions. I always appreciate cursing on live TV. Tits are ok, but not Janet Jackson's. That whole family is sooo finished.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Be careful what you wish for

I wanted rain, so now I've got it. I never specified that warm rain would be much nicer. It's the coldest it's been in Taiwan in 12 years, or so I'm told. And the rain just adds to the fun. It's been raining at my travel times for the last week.

I know that people won't give me much sympathy when I say that the weather at night drops as low as 55 degrees (about 13 Celsius). I'm sure that if you had weather like that after a winter in New York, or Muncie, Indiana, or Seoul, South Korea, you'd be in your shorts, out washing the car.

But don't forget that Taiwanese homes are not heated or insulated. Everything is concrete and cold tiles. And I ride a scooter to my likewise unheated school. You begin to get a chill that won't go away. I know it's easy to run out of a heated house, into below freezing temperatures in a bathrobe and check your mail. Or walk from your car to McDonalds without putting on your coat.

I've often said I'd rather be too hot than too cold. Taiwan seems like the right answer most of the time, but when it's cold, there's just no fighting it.

So now, to be clear, I'm wishing for warm rain and temperatures to return to normal. Thank you.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

New in the neighborhood:

"Iron Cow Seafood Restaurant"

I will be the first one in line.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I read somewhere that every person who writes for the public on a regular basis is allowed one entry where they just say, in a witty way of course, that nothing much is going on and that there's really nothing to write about. So here's mine.