Saturday, December 31, 2005

I handed my purchase to the lady behind the counter. She looked vaguely confused, as if she couldn't understand why I would thrust merchandise at her. She looked around. The barcode scanner seemed to invoke memories. With some hesitance, she picked that up and pointed it, and eventually managed to scan the barcode. I gave her money with bated breath, wondering if she were up to the challenge. She popped open the cash register and looked at the till in mild befuddlement. From her expression, she had never seen US coins before. Slowly, consulting the cash register at every moment, she procured two dimes and a nickel for me. A quarter would have been beyond her capacity. I was roiling with impatience, but I dared not utter a word, for fear it would derail her and we would have to start all over from the top. Next came the ordeal of finding a plastic bag, and placing my goods in that. But there are three sizes of bags!

In Taiwan, a clerk will ring up your purchase while she is bagging the previous customer's goods and answering a third person’s questions. As often as not, she will be chatting on her cell phone all the while.

If you are used to check-out service in Taiwan, American clerks can be a trial.
Taipei is noisy, but it's just noise: people don't care that much if their motors are loud, if there is a backhoe tearing down a building, if someone has left a tv blasting away. It's unintentional.
New York is noisy, but it's invasive: a driver honking to get a move on, a policeman shouting at you to get a move on, a boom box invading your space. It's intentional.

Friday, December 30, 2005

a ride in a horse-drawn carriage is more romantic when the horse is downwind.

"I am so happy to see you take a picture with the bulls. I am Assyrian. I come here all the time to see the bulls. They always make me happy. But I always touch the bulls. They tell me, Don't touch! But I say, These are mine, maybe this man you see here is my great uncle!”
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Apparently Americans are enamored of raccoons. Young ladies paint black circles around their eyes before they go to prowl the mall.

Just simply couldn't wait...
a little fire to start things off.
「我出生在仰光,Rangoon。1969年排華,就離開了。如果那個時候到臺灣就好了,可是我們到中國大陸。那個時候是文革,所有學校都關了。因為文革,我們都沒有念書,天天打籃球、上街遊行。後來到香港,已經十八歲了,沒書念。在香港工作八年。我來美國是偷渡,從加拿大進來,所以我沒有文化,I have no education,我書只讀了四年。」

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

LIU has a new 材燒anagama kiln.
Anti\劉安悌 and Eileen.
Yuki is inside the kiln,排窯.

Yuki Hokama

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

P F Chang's Chinese Bistro stands unique among the thousands of Chinese restaurants I have eaten in. The reception crew at the door was composed of two blondes and a black. The waiters and waitresses were mostly blonds with a few black people, the busboys all spoke Spanish, and in fact, Ling was the only oriental face in the whole place. I am sure we were the only people speaking Chinese at all. When we were shown to our seats, Ling pointed out that the boss couldn't possibly be Chinese, because the two gigantic horse statues decorating the dining area both had their heads down. (Later inquiry confirmed her suspicion; the boss is said to be American.) First time I have ever seen a wine list on a menu in a Chinese restaurant, or a list of pies and cakes for dessert. Ah yes, the traditional old Chinese apple pie… The 麻婆豆腐 looked and tasted like none I have ever eaten elsewhere: broccoli and dofu. This?

No bowls for the rice, just a plate. Chopsticks came with knife and fork. The lady at the next table, a supercilious expression under an ornate hairdo, swiftly shoveled her chopsticks into her purse. The waiter demanded them back, tapping on the table and insisting, "Where are the chopsticks?" Supercilious shook her head and looked away; husband looked embarrassed. Plastic chopsticks, for crying out loud!

It should be named P F Chang's American Bizarre.

Aboard the good ship P T Barnum,
from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to
Port Jefferson, Long Island.

with Ann, Sidney, Jean, and Eben, as Thor very carefully encircles us in his leash.

Sitting on the floor, Zach very casually places both feet behind his head, smiles contentedly, then looks at me with a puzzled expression and says, "I understand some people can't do this."

crowding Zoe off her chair.
Ann generously gave us her bedroom and backbreakingly comfortable feather bed to sleep in. At around 5 or 6, well before light, I became aware of a presence in the room. The wind was up. The bedroom door, which I had shut, was open, and there was something in the room, moving back and forth. I lifted my head from the pillow. A white blob was floating around the room about a meter off the ground. Nothing else was visible in the predawn dark: ectoplasm? the Ghost of Christmas Past? I dared not stir. I heard a slight sound: scritch scritch. The blob floated back and forth.

Fortunately, Ann had told me that sometimes she puts a cone on Thor's head to keep him from licking that sore on his front leg. He is not allowed upstairs, but high wind frightens him, so he seeks solace from Ann, whose bed we were occupying.

Without waking Ling, I crawled out of bed and tried to eject Thor. He was happy for the attention, but dug in his feet and refused to budge. I stood outside the door whispering, Thor! Thor! trying to lure him away. Ann, sleeping with Zoe, heard me and trundled downstairs with Thor, telling him to stay put.

He was back upstairs in ten minutes, but I had the door firmly shut.

Monday, December 26, 2005

We did a snow dance, but all we got was a little drizzle.

Amy brought Spencer and Avery.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Thor shows off the trophy he won when he chased that fat guy.

I was disappointed that it didn't snow, but at least we had a good Christmas Day snowball fight at Sticks and Stones, Tim's place.
Ann, Connecticut.

A Philosophical Rumination on Christmas

Everybody knows that if you are naughty, you get coal in your Christmas stocking. But have you ever pondered the significance of that lump of coal, or rather, its utilitarian value? See, coal is a hard substance. Placed in a stocking, it can be swung like a sap to make a very effective close-range weapon. If you use that to bludgeon the good kiddies, who have kept their noses clean and have not honed their fighting skills, you can take their gifts from them, so you get more, rather than less, Christmas loot than your peers.

Ho, ho, splat!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Cousins Ann and Eben,
and, of course, dear old Thor.

Christmas Eva at Ann's, Trumbull, Connecticut.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Just a few degrees above freezing: lovely weather for the beach!
Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

For the first time in 25 years, the transit workers in New York have gone on strike. I suspect they may have done this in honor of my visit.

With no subways, Ling and I bravely decided to drive into New York. Plans! We had great plans! We'll go to Central Park! Then we'll go to the MOM! Then SoHo for a look at the scene there, followed by dinner in Little Italy, and a romp to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas lights! Merry plans! What did Robert Browning say?

We got to the city in good time. We quickly discovered how much New Yorkers love to honk their horns. Traffic was moving like ocean sediment. Ocean sediment, that is, with blaring horns. We switched lithely from this one way street to the next. Look! There's Fifth Avenue! Let's park! What? $18.95 for a half hour parking? Let's not park! More heavy traffic. Look! There's Madison Avenue! Let's park and take a look. No place to park. Look! There's Penn Station! Let's park and take a look! No place to park. Look! There's Madison Square Garden! Let's stay in the car and look! Look! There's more heavy traffic! Let's go to SoHo instead! Good idea! Where's SoHo? More one way streets, more ocean sediment, more honking horns. We gradually made our way across town, when suddenly, we saw a vision more miraculous than the star leading the wise men: a parking space! Ling quickly slipped the car into the space and we happily fed the meter quarters. I asked the man in the lock shop by the parking space how to get to SoHo. "Walk," he suggested helpfully, "You can go four blocks up this way to Hudson, then turn left on Hudson until you reach the Fountain of Youth, and turn right at Shangrila, and it's just past the unicorn stables.” Those weren't his exact words, but they might just as well have been. We kept an eye on the time, lest our parking meter die, but we did not reach SoHo. BUT! Our trip was not in vain! We DID manage to find a McDonald's so we could borrow the bathroom.

What a sense of accomplishment we bathed in as we happily munched on our fries. Thus invigorated, we launched forth again, and after battling traffic for only another hour, we did manage to find SoHo. After a happy trip through SoHo, we headed home. We circled the streets for an hour until we finally found the entrance to the bridge that would lead us to Long Island. Through some trickery, the exit led us off onto darkened streets. We could see the bridge receding into the distance behind and above us as we battled our way through a maze of one way streets.

Now I am going to say something that no New Yorkers will believe, but which I swear is the absolute truth. At a gas station I asked a taxi driver how to get to Long Island, and he could actually speak English!

There goes my reputation for truth and honesty, but I swear a taxi driver spoke good English and told me how to get on the road to Long Island. So after only two and a half hours circling through cordons of one way streets and honking drivers, we actually found ourselves on the expressway speeding cheerfully to the expressway to Long Island… so cheerfully, in fact, that we flew by our exit without noticing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I stuffed my feet into my shoes a month ago to remove a poisonous snake from my back door, just in case the snake bolted towards my feet. The last time I had worn shoes before that was, oh, two or three years ago, when I wore my shoes to class for novelty's sake.

I took my shoes out of the closet in preparation for the big trip to New York – SNOW! Before sunrise this morning I put them on. I was pleased that I remembered how to tie the laces. I walked down to the road where my taxi picked me up at 4:50 and deposited me at the airport. After a speedy check-in, I happened to notice the sole was working off the big toe of the right shoe. Walking through Immigration, I left a trail of crumbling black plastic behind me, like Hansel and Gretel walking through the forest. By the time my passport was stamped, my soles were flapping, and by the time I reached the duty free shops, my right sole had fallen off entirely.

Hello, do you sell shoes?

No, but we can give you some tape.

The nice people gave me a fat role of tape, so I wrapped it around and around my shoes. Hardly elegant, but sturdy. In the Hong Kong airport, I spotted a store selling shoes. I wandered in. The clerk gave me a quick one-over, sniffed, and hid her head in her inventory, willing me to disappear: who let this hobo into the airport?

They let me onto the flight, though, and we commenced on the second longest commercial flight in the world: Hong Kong to New York, in nearly 16 hours. I shed black plastic all over the floor. Hardly elegant, but the tape wrapping my shoes together lasted long enough to get me around to the other side of the world. First thing I did when Ling picked me up at JFK was say, Let's go buy me some new shoes!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Monday, December 19, 2005







Sunday, December 18, 2005

Qalux跟長子Qoyaw說,"Kwara laqi musa 補習;Soro補理化、Ciana補鋼琴、Iba補英文,你呢,Qoyaw,你想不想去補甚麼?”

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A true story
「嗯,那個…我呢,我已經考過 GR二啦!」

Friday, December 16, 2005



Thursday, December 15, 2005

陶維極說,管它的! A ta lahuy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

unclear on the concept
To commemorate the 65th birthday of Bruce Lee, a statue of him was unveiled in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a city that has been ravaged by war. Why Bruce Lee, why Bosnia-Herzegovina, you might well ask. Lee is supposed to symbolize unity for the Roman Catholic Croats and the Muslim Bosnians, who have been at each others' throats for generations.

The bronze statue shows Lee as you think of him: Beatles haircut, head slightly down, wide cat stance, no shirt(get a load of them abs!), left hand out with fingers splayed, right hand choking way up on numchuks held in that ridiculous armpit grip. The whole message is, don't tread on me, or I'll whale you! Stand down, you turd, or you won't live to regret crossing me.

As a Buddhist Serbian-American, I would like to ask my Croatian and Bosnian brethren, how on earth is this supposed to symbolize peace and unity?

What I suggest is they robe the statue in a white habit and rename it Mother Teresa of Calcutta. They can saw the chain off the numchuks and make it a candle. At the very least, since she was Macedonian, that'll give the Croats and Bosnians an enemy to unify against.

Left, the statue of Bruce Lee.
Right, the improved statue of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Monday, December 12, 2005

You've got to hand it to the Germans, they are nothing if not thorough.
Recently a 34 year old lady in Zuelp Ich, Germany (love that name! Zuelp Ich!!) had spiders in a hedge by her garage, which of course will not do in a well ordered Teutonic household. She got a can of hairspray and a cigarette lighter, and attempted to achieve a Final Solution, but the hairspray did not fry all the unwelcome arachnids, so she tried to ignite them individually with the lighter. She very efficiently torched not only the spiders, but also the hedge they were on, which was by this time saturated with inflammable hairspray. She tried to douse the hedge fire with a hose, but instead, her house caught on fire and burned down. A police spokesman said, "The family have had to look for somewhere else to stay. The spiders are gone, though. That problem was solved."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

"Hi there, neighbor, shouldn't you be hibernating by now?"
"I'm on my way, I'm on my way."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

修行的重點是甚麼? 觀照起心動念。行住坐臥、日常、非常、生老病死、林林總總事,洞察自心的動機,了了分明,才是修行。

Thursday, December 08, 2005

a genuine ghost story
一個人傍晚回家,轉到自家住的路上,赫然看到,前面有大頭鬼!! 大頭鬼沉重的步伐,一步一步在金瓜石陡峭的道路往下走,看得一清二楚,鐵定不是幻象!!身體跟一般人一樣,可是整個頭是白的,沒有頭髮沒有耳朵,就是一顆非常非常大的頭!!比西瓜還大的頭!儼然大頭鬼!!太恐怖!! 大頭鬼一直往前走,這位先生沒辦法,躡足潛蹤在後面跟,深怕大頭鬼轉進自己家裡…好險,過門不入! 趕快竄進去把門反鎖,堆桌椅櫃櫥擋住門,然後到祖先牌位前拼命磕頭,嚇得他太太不知道先生重了甚麼邪,放聲大哭。先生跟她講大頭鬼,太太趕緊把兒女抱過來,一家大小縮在佛桌下,徹夜不敢睡也不敢出來。





Wednesday, December 07, 2005




Tuesday, December 06, 2005

bits of Taipei history
In 1971, just before I came, they knocked down the row of houses in the middle of 信義Road. The military's nickname for 新生南路 was Canal Street, because of the璢公canal running down the middle. In those days, there were four groups of foreigners in Taiwan; the military, some highly obnoxious missionaries, a few businessmen, and a small number learning Chinese. The first three groups kept together. They were hostile and suspicious of us in the fourth group.

The largest group of students was in the International House: 國際學舍:舊址在現在大安公園,北臺最醜的觀音像後面。 Largest group, maybe 20 people all told. We did not associate with the snobs in the Stanford program. What is now the AIT, the American Institute in Taiwan/美國在臺協會used to be a sort of plush unit of the US forces here, the Military Advisory Group,Taiwan 美軍顧問團, MAGT in military talk, so we feckless residents of the I House down the street named it Maggot.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Yugan, 有沒有看到那個胖子?
我們叫他 Masaw.
Tayal ga?
Ini Tayal. 他是閩南人,不是泰雅。
Nanu sa? Ini pongan ku lalu Masaw.
Aw, 這是老一代的人給他取的名字,叫 Masaw的人不大好。他是賣豬肉的,二三十年前開車到烏來,看到Tayal就硬把豬肉半斤一斤往手上送,說,沒錢沒關係,我明後天再來收。Yugan,你了解Tayal的個性,他這樣硬塞豬肉,Tayal就sayux,收下,結果欠錢。看到他來要躲起來,不想拿他的豬肉。那個時代的Tayal哪有錢還債?欠的錢可能很多,可是根本沒有錢,一個月的生活費只有幾百塊,他的豬肉很貴,所以只好躲他。老一代的人給他取名Masaw,聽到這個名字就知道這個人不老實,離他遠一點。
Aw, Qalux, 我很高興當初Tali Watan給我取的是Yugan,不是Masaw。

Sunday, December 04, 2005

If I romanticized democracy more, it would have been a moving sight. Amongst the mountains circling Tampya village, a tent was a hive of activity, for the Tampya poll was placed on a flat spot with a spectacular view up, down, and all around. The Aborigines walked, rode motorcycles, or drove up to cast their votes.

Yesterday during the voting, the weather held. It started pouring minutes after I returned home from class shortly before midnight, and the temperature fell with the rain. I dragged myself out of bed before daybreak because I had to go teach a special class this morning. At the big Wulai bridge, a row of Tayal stood in yellow plastic throwaway raincoats and red vests with their candidate, who won a seat in yesterday's election. They were out there to thank voters as they passed. The flaw in the plan was that with the cold rain, there was nobody afoot at the ungodly hour of 7: only them and me.

They grew animated as I approached: somebody to wave to! Finally! One of the men shouted, "Yugan! Ziboq balai, hzaq na! Musa su inu?"

"Musa mtbaq kman.”

The exchange alerted everybody to the presence of a living, breathing person they could actually wave to! Wow! Action! The man next to him started waving, and shouted in English, "Sank you! Sank you varrrrrrrrrry mahchee!" with a terrific trill on the R. Aborigines love to trill Rs so much that sometimes when they speak Mandarin, they change Ls to Rs just to trill them. I waved back as I plodded through that big puddle at the head of the bridge (~in flip flops: a sure way to wake up.)

The whole line of them started waving both arms and jumping up and down, shouting "Sank you varrrrrrry mahchee," even though they know as well as I that, being an American citizen, I don't vote in local elections. They were standing by the road to thank people, so by gum they were going to thank! Soon they tired of thanking me and started shouting "I lahv you!" Gone was the bedraggled, dispirited demeanor of five minutes before. They jumped and waved and shouted. I felt I had done my bit for democracy.

Saturday, December 03, 2005



Friday, December 02, 2005

「你自己看。」把書傳過來。翻開來看,真是好笑。裡面的道理,彷彿是神心不穩的高中女生寫的,可是最好笑的是照片。一張一張很明顯是double exposure相片,都是西裝筆挺的油頭粉面的宋七力,但這個重複曝光的照片,是用來證明他能分身,變出化身來。我笑到快哭出來了。


Thursday, December 01, 2005

因此也了解一個道理。秦漢印璽字勁難效,也是如此。 Friday 補記。

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005



當然也有真心幫人的富家;看Bill Gates把錢大把大把送去幫助窮困的人,一出手是幾百萬美金。但是他想作好事,不必競選、不需當官。

要知道富貴子弟當選後對下層同胞的關懷,請看今夏Katrina過後,腐屍橫陣 New Orleans 街道,Bush總統因為還在放假,不聞不問,幾天後才應付一下。


Don't vote, it only encourages them.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

This morning for the third time, I had the honor of attending the annual gathering of the Jingpo (景頗族) in Taiwan. (If you would like to read about last year's gathering, please go to the archives of this blog for November 2004.)

This year, Chairman Kung / 孔會長 looked at the thinning ranks of the Jingpo guerillas who came to Taiwan over forty years ago, and said, "We are old. It is time to pass the gathering on to younger hands." His nomination for Chairman was a young Jingpo, born and raised in Taiwan, who had graduated from the national military academy; his election was unanimous.

In his first official act, Chairman Pai (排會長) promised to pass the Jingpo association of Taiwan on to second, third, and fourth generation Jingpo. The elders had made a concentrated effort to bring in the young people, and this year there were far more second generation Jingpo than in previous years that I had been there. There was even a sprinkling of third generation Jingpo. Long may they thrive!

With 排會長 Chairman Pai

From the Left, by tribe: Wa (佤), Jingpo, Jingpo, Serb, Jingpo, Jingpo, Jingpo

There are even members of the Hanni nationality in Taiwan.
「有! 我們人數很多!大多住在龍潭這一帶。」

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Here's an old riddle:
What does man love more than life,
hate more than death or mortal strife?
It is that which contented men desire,
The poor possess and the rich require,
The miser spends, the spendthrift saves,
And all men carry to their graves.

Got it?
I've posted the answer on November 20th.
Hey, I'm lousy at riddles too!

Friday, November 25, 2005

一家臺北公司的老闆過生日,今天跟職員在烏來餐廳吃吃喝喝。全體關在房間裡,空氣很恐怖:肉+酒+汗+煙,說不出的噁心。男的都還穿西裝打領帶,多不舒服! 大家喝的爛醉,放聲唱卡啦OK,聽起來比較像是哭爹娘。唱完、吐完,就回都市去了。




Thursday, November 24, 2005




Wednesday, November 23, 2005

民國六十幾年的一天,一個朋友有大消息:「我發現一個很棒的地方,在長春路,是賣陶器的。進去逛一趟,好像身心清潔,洗了一個文化澡。」這是我跟陶朋舍的緣的開始。在民國六十年代的臺灣,陶器不是中華陶瓷,便是大同瓷器。(幾乎沒有人用心喝茶;沒有茶藝館,只有不太正當的茶室。) 陶朋舍是臺灣第一個賣陶藝創意品的場所。可以說他帶動了一種風氣。因為常去,跟老闆曾根雄成為好朋友了。



Monday, November 21, 2005

語言不同,表達方式不同。中文的「參加」,一般不加思索,反射性地翻 take part in. 實際上,native speaker很少用到 take part in.

中文的「參加演奏會」,一般中國人講take part in a concert. 對方應該猜得出意思,但這不是英文。英文有分。如果參加演奏會是在臺上演奏,英文是be in a concert. 如果參加演奏會是在臺下聽,這是go to a concert或be at a concert.

我想一想,take part in a concert如果用的話,聽起來可能是幕後的工作人員。但是這種講法很怪就是了。

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Dogs to the Rescue
This happened November 19, 2001. To this day I am not sure what this was all about. Tlahuy and Bengax were almost two then.

The weather was so nice I found work to do outdoors. At about three, the dogs were barking in the direction of the spring southwest around the corner a short ways from my home. They had been looking in that direction making a ruckus after lunch. I thought maybe a neighbor was out checking their water pipes, but didn't see anybody. However, I decided to go fiddle around there. I might see a neighbor, and anyway, the underbrush is so thick there that I rarely go back, so it was time to take a look. I carried my soki (mountain knife) to hack with.

I wandered around a bit, ducking through the underbrush. Tlahuy and Bengax kept barking at something; by this time, I had decided there must be another dog back there, arousing their territoriality. Suddenly they came rushing out of the bushes, helter-skelter. They do that only when they have been surprised, or see an enemy. They stopped and looked at me: they had been surprised. Now this is getting interesting, I thought, maybe they have found a boar or something. I called them to me. The sound of my voice was answered by a weak call from the bushes: "救命!" Help! "Who's that?" I called. The man's voice came again: Help. "Where are you?" No reply. Then again: Help. I called in Tayal: "Ima isu? Inu isu, ini mita ku. Nanu su qasa?" No response, so it wasn't someone from the Tribe playing a joke on me. I followed the sound, and thought I saw a shape lying face down in the tangle. I moved uphill from him, and said, "Where are you?" The voice called again, Help, weaker and weaker. I couldn't see who it was: could be a lost hiker, could be a drunk, could be a nut, could be a sorcerer for all I know. I decided to play it safe: "Stay right there, I'll go get help."

I raced out of the spring, ran down my steps as fast as I safely could, and ran to the Chief's house, where I knew I would find Silan and Bunqet, who has been working there. As soon as I saw them, I called out that someone was in trouble (Hanna later told me that when they saw me racing in, mountain knife in hand, shouting that someone was in trouble, they thought I had killed somebody. Nice thing about neighbors: they think such good things about you.)

Bunqet and Mkaw, Silan's uncle, rushed to the spring with me to see what was up. We spotted the man, face down below a cover of vines. I cut a way in to him. Bunqet turned him over. Not an aborigine; a man in his thirties, dressed in black leather jacket and blue jeans, socks but no shoes, barely conscious. After some discussion, Bunqet lifted him up piggy-back and carried him down to the road. I was quite impressed: experienced hikers walk with caution down my steps to the road, and Bunqet carried this guy down without straining.

He put him down by the road, and discussed the situation. He was not dressed like a hiker. We didn't smell any liquor, so he probably wasn't drunk: maybe on drugs? He was either stoned or exhausted. We didn't see any serious injuries, but if we hadn't rought him out, he would have died there, because he was incapable of moving another inch. If he had pitched on his face another step forward, he would have drowned in the water from the spring. We wouldn't have found him until he started to smell, if then. But how on earth did he get through the jungle to that spot? Later I searched, but couldn't find his shoes anywhere near. I have no idea how long he was out there, but from the dogs’ behavior after lunch, at least a couple of hours. I suspect he had been outdoors overnight.

He lay there on his back like a dead man. He rolled over and tried to crawl forward, but was too weak to move. We decided to call an ambulance, so I ran to the Chief's house. Hanna, Silan's wife, was so nervous she kept dialing the number wrong. Finally, I dialed, and, report in, went back to where the man lay.

The man suddenly weakly cried again, Help. "Just lie there, you're okay, the ambulance is on the way," I said. He looked at us carefully, and said, "Two guys tried to kill me." "Don't worry about that now, you're okay," I said, thinking, great, that may explain the black leather jacket. However, he wasn't missing any fingers, didn't have obvious tattoos, and had not been eating betel, so I would guess, if anything, maybe Homicide or Intelligence, rather than underworld. Also, I think he was exhausted and frightened, rather than drunk or stoned. He was obviously not a mountain person, and from where he was, there is no way he could tell there was a house anywhere nearby, or any chance of being rescued. He must have thought he would die right there, unknown to anybody. If not for Tlahuy and Bengax, he would have.

He tried to sit up, but we told him to take it easy. With great effort, he pulled out his wallet. Nothing but an ID and some cash. I checked his ID: 沙XX, born in 1963, lives in Taipei. His unusual surname, Sha, provoked further discussion: With a name like that, he could be Aborigine, but from another tribe. But he doesn't look like an Aborigine. Mr Sha pulled money out of his wallet for us: we said, None of that. Bunqet stuffed the money back in the wallet, and we put it back in his pocket.

The ambulance arrived. As we lifted him on to the stretcher, the driver said, "Smell that liquor? He's drunk.” Bunqet and Mkaw looked embarrassed, because the smell of liquor wasn't coming from the man on the stretcher. I quickly told them how I found the man. The attendant said, "Let's hope he hasn't been bitten by anything, because if he has, he's in big trouble." As they placed him in the ambulance, Mr Sha looked very carefully at me and said, "I will come back." "Don't worry about that now, just let the doctors take care of you.”

Friday, November 18, 2005

好的文學作品,應該每一次看,因為不同的時空、年齡、心情、閱歷,而有不同的感觸、收穫 (藝術作品均然)。




Thursday, November 17, 2005

Raran ga, mahoni 行mgup,取菖蒲根,未乾時穿孔,切,曬乾,串為項鍊;吹,擦患者臉。

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Tuesday, November 15, 2005




Monday, November 14, 2005

Tlahuy is an avid hunter, but for some reason, he is not alert to snakes. On more than one occasion, I have seen him walk right across poisonous snakes, blithely unaware of their presence. Snakes are not aggressive; they let it pass.

Yumin is another story. Beagles love to make a ruckus anyway, so when he spots a snake, he barks. I've never trained him; it's instinctive.

Yesterday I was going out the back way. Tlahuy and Yumin raced ahead of me. Yumin paused, barked once at the side of the path, and continued. He was alerting me to the presence of a fair-sized 南蛇 (ptyas mucosus) by the path. I happened to have my camera, but maybe the attention disturbed the it, and it whooshed off into the grass. Watching a 150 cm snake flash across the ground is a beautiful sight. If Yumin hadn't barked, I probably would have noticed it no more than Tlahuy.

This evening when I came home from class, I put my pack in the kitchen and walked out the back door to get dogfeed for the boys. Yumin started barking at the door. I had almost walked on a qimbahu 龜殼花(trimeresurus gracilis). The snake coiled up under the rack. I decided to put on shoes, just to be safe, because those are very poisonous. By the time I found them and put them on, Tlahuy was interested too. I didn't want anybody getting hurt. I told the boys to stay away. With a long bamboo pole, I prodded the snake and nudged it into the grass, where it promptly disappeared. If you have never seen a qimbahu, you have no idea of how fast they move when they want to, so I was ready to leap inside the door at any moment, but the snake allowed itself to be shoved across the floor. Generally, if you don't get all upset, snakes are not very aggressive. Keep your distance and don't play games with them, but there's no need to get hysterical about them, either.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Our woodcarving class had a visitor today.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Thursday, November 10, 2005


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Kansas has mortified itself. The state Board of Education has voted to include intelligent design in biology textbooks. What's sad is, those potato-brains on the Board of Education are weakening the US. Education in America is lousy enough already without their sabotaging kids' nascent ability to think and to learn. Everywhere else in the world, students learn rigorous scientific concepts, but in Kansas, they are fed rubbish. Garbage in, garbage out. Cut funding for musical education and you get rap. Undercut scientific reasoning, and.... you'll get more like Bush in high office.
(Aside: I'm very proud of myself. Yesterday I posted a comment about the mentally deficient and NOT ONCE did I mention His Travesty President Bush.)

My July 11 posting discussed creationism, and Christian doublethink; I can barely bring myself to use the term 'intelligent design,' because the whole scheme is so unintelligent. Some think that the Founding Fathers founded the country as one nation, under god, intending it to be a Christian nation. They must have been asleep during junior high Civics. Even the elder Bush, shot down during WWII and floating in the Pacific, pondered the separation of church and state. That Founders explicitly established the Republic of that foundation. Thomas Jefferson would have fits if he knew what the religious right is up to; he said, "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot.”

If you are going to insist on establishing the United States on the literal reading of the scriptures, as I said before, laws have to be rewritten. Again, I do not read Hebrew, but those who do say that the original commandment that Thou Shalt Not Kill meant don't kill Jews, anybody else is fair game. Should homicide laws be rewritten to comply with scripture? Over and over the god of the Bible cheers the massacre of innocent non-combatants. By that token, homicide laws really need to be revamped, because you can find plenty of biblical proof that god says its just fine to kill babies. 19th century Christians objected to the use of anesthetic for mothers in childbirth because the bible says women should bring forth in pain; does the modern creationist who claims the literal truth of scripture prohibit painkillers in labor? Be consistent, please.

Of course you cannot ask religious nuts to be consistent; they pick and choose. Parts of the Bible which they choose to agree with, they call for literal readings; otherwise, ignore it. This is hubris. Take it or leave it.

Second, the Christianity, and intentions, of the Founding Fathers require scrutiny. Of the nine most prominent Founding Fathers, seven did not believe in the divinity of Christ.

Those men were revolutionaries. They were not smug Republicans leading the country wherever business interests dictated. Although many were businessmen, they were thoughtful men bucking the system, trying to deal with the problems of history and the future. They were men of their times. At that time, atheism was simply not an option; had it been, they may have embraced it.

The United States was founded at the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution; the Founding Fathers had completed their schooling long before. They were so far-sighted that we are apt to forget the limits of knowledge during their time. For example, physicians did not know the body is made of cells; the word biology did not even come into being until after George Washington died. We also forget how thoroughly we are steeped in mechanistic explanations and how naturally we accept materialism. Even the most ardent creationist will attempt to find some mechanistic explanation for the sun's standing still, will tell you that the water that burned was naphtha; that the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem was a comet. Even the most willful creationist will not simply say that these events were god's will and leave it at that.

But I need no further proof that the creationists are incapable of thinking: the Kansas state Board of Education has voted to include intelligent design in biology textbooks. Sufficient proof.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Some time ago, a woman with Down's syndrome (唐氏症, retarded) needed a heart-lung operation to live. Stanford University Medical Center refused to operate on her, because "We do not feel that patients with Down's syndrome are appropriate candidate for heart transplantation (sic)." The University of California at San Diego turned her down for the same reason: your tax dollars at work.

A human being is more than just an IQ. If intellectual ability were all to value, we should all commit suicide together and leave the world to computers. Is someone who is incapable of love and hate human? Are we to kill all dogs merely because they cannot learn simple arithmetic? Much better to euthanize people who butcher English with monstrosities such as 'transplantation.'

Those with Down's syndrome perform a vital function in society: keeping the retarded alive allows us to keep our compassion alive.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Come on, George, you know what you should do – send the troops into France, to restore order and democracy.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

前幾天走去搭公車,某一溫泉館的交通車要下新店,有空位,問我要不要搭便車。好吧,上了。過部落的時候,司機就開始當起導遊來了,跟遊客講,「你看這些番仔,只會喝酒,一喝就好幾天…. 然後繼續喝。」一直講,遊客聽的很樂,我們不是他們,高級的很呢。

Saturday, November 05, 2005

November in Wulai is usually rainy, but we have been having high temperatures (25C in the afternoon) and sunshine.

Friday, November 04, 2005

for your edification
I have always highly respected the logic of my dear old friend 803. Recently we have crossed swords over logical questions concerning New Orleans and Katrina. For the general uplifting of overall reasoning ability throughout the population, I am making public our rapier-like exchanges. This is not for the faint-hearted, for there is razor sharp reasoning here. For the brave, those who would venture fearlessly into the realm of the intellect, take notes as the dialogue unfolds.

It began with 803 making certain comments concerning the Bush administration's dealings with Hurricane Katrina.

I replied,
Please tell me, sir, what PROOF you have that the US Government did not create that hurricane for the EXPRESS PURPOSE of wiping out New Orleans. Recently I learned that the US Government created last December's earthquake and tsunami, so if they can do that, why can't they create a hurricane?
Science deals in PROOF, my dear sir, and unless you can offer me proof that they did not create the earthquake, hurricane, and tsunami, I refuse to believe otherwise.

803 replied:
LOGIC 101:
1) It is not possible to prove a negative.
2) Youse is engaging in a "Straw Man" argument.
3) It was really them guys in the Flyin Saucer UFO things. I seen it on Snopes so It gots tah be true.

I engaged him on the issue of proving a negative:
You say it is not possible to prove a negative. Can you prove that? If you can prove that it is not possible to prove a negative, you have proved a negative. If you cannot prove it, what backs up that statement?

Note the use of "Huh?" This is a device used by highly trained logicians, but please, unless you have undergone proper training by an authorized teacher, please do not attempt to use this logical device without supervision.

To torpedo his so-called 'logic' (pooh!) even more thoroughly, I added this:
And sir, who SENT the guys on the flying saucer? Obviously they were launched from Air Force One. What proof do I have of that? Because they were NOT at Roswell NM (talk about proving a negative, sheesh). So if the aliens were NOT at Roswell, then they had to be SOMEWHERE, which proves to all but the most skeptical that they started the tsunami from their flying saucer on orders from the White House.

803 sought to wiggle out by replying:
My dogs told me this. Dogs never lie.

Sadly, I replied:
My dear sir,
For the first time, I am beginning to see holes in the finely woven net of your logic. Dogs never lie? Dogs which are awake never lie, granted, but don't you know that once they fall asleep, dogs are terrible liars? They are very sensitive about this, too, and are deeply offended if anybody points out to them how many lies they have told.
This is the origin of the expression, Let sleeping dogs lie.

803 remained silent for several days. Finally, I sent this missile:
I know you are writhing in agony as I grind your so-called "reasoning" beneath the heel of my remorseless logic, old buddy, and now I am going to deliver the coop D. grass. You recall that I informed you that the tsunami had been set off by aliens working for the US Government. Now I would like to nail the lid of proof on the coffin, with quotes from the final interview with Edward Teller, the Hungarian-born physicist who worked on such projects as the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and the robotic banking machine which still goes by his name, the Automated Teller. This comes from the Summer 2005 issue of Invention & Technology magazine. The interviewer discusses
"the disproportionate Hungarian connection to physics in the last century. There's an old theory that coming from Hungary, a mountain-rung country with no linguistic connection to its neighbors, you were clearly aliens using your superior intellect to help the rest of us along. What are your thoughts?”
Teller: "….. since we could not talk English without an accent, we had to pretend to come from someplace, because no one would believe in a Martian. So we settled on Hungary, and that was where we came from.”
I&T: "You're not widely known for actively espousing the Martian theory.”
Teller: "Not necessary, it's a simple fact.”

HA HA! A simple fact! Try to deny THAT, sir!

Thus ending the dialogue. After all, I offered publish proof. 803 is now hiding in Simi Valley, struggling to regroup his forces. Good luck.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ashley Montagu: "Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

With great pleasure, I announce my latest brilliant scientific discovery: the cause of the Northern Lights, the aura borealis (and I spelled it write the first time, without my spell checker).

What, you ask, causes the Northern Lights? Allow me to enlighten your ignorance: it's the earth farting. They are lit up then by all those volcanoes around Alaska.

What, you ask, proof have you to offer? Thus: I flipped my lucky coin five times in a row and it came up tails five times, a pretty, and apt, omen.

If I don't get a Noble Price in Psychics for this, it's only because the Committee is prejudiced against Serbian-Americans.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I was shocked by a comment in a newspaper article, that some people "wouldn't understand how impolite it was to wear flip-flops to a White House meeting with the president." What could be impolite about flip-flops? I guess they must have been the wrong color. That's it, for a formal occasion like that, you want to wear black flip-flops.
Any more questions, just ask me, Mr Etiquette.

Monday, October 31, 2005

President Bush said, "The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom." In other words, the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to get more of them killed. I don't get it.

An average of 15 American troops are killed every week, and double that number of Iraqis, because a bunch of Saudis murdered 3,000 Americans in the World Trade Center.

Will Bush quit when he's killed 3,000 Americans too?
An Australian heroin smuggler has been sentenced to death in Singapore, prompting complaints that the sentence is 'too hideous,' and calls for 'humane treatment.' I am very sorry, but with all due respect, I would like to ask if selling heroin is not hideous; if selling heroin for people to shoot up their veins and destroy their health, their future, their families, their society, and their dignity as human beings is 'humane treatment.' Amitabha.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In woodcarving class, I had roughed out the double headed hundred-pacer snake, so I figured I could start carving the details, and decided to start with the eyes. Let's see, the eyes should go about here… I selected a round chisel and soon had the eyes fashioned.

Just then, Teacher Saguliu came over to see how I was doing. He looked at my carving aghast. "You should have told me you were going to do the eyes!”


"You should have told me before you did the eyes!”

Personally, I thought the eyes were pretty good. Teacher was sputtering. He finally found words. "That's not how you carve the eyes on a hundred-pacer!”

"No?" I thought they were okay. Teacher struggled with his feelings. "No! Those aren't hundred pacer eyes, those are TADPOLE EYES!" He shook his head, glaring at my carving of the Paiwan totem like a US Marine looking at a picture of the American bald eagle in a pink miniskirt licking a lollipop. "Tadpole eyes! Those aren't hundred pacer eyes! … Yugan, take them out, do them over."

It was my turn to be aghast. "Take them out? How can I do that?”

Teacher relaxed a bit. "You've forgotten that a hundred pacer has an upturned snout, so the face goes like this anyway," he said, making a concave curve with his hand.

This was beyond my ability. I silently handed Teacher the mallet and chisel. Bang, bang, bang, he swiftly (and merrily) removed the offending eyes and reshaped the head with a few expert whacks of the mallet. "See, Brother, the eyes go here and here, on the side of the head, and they are oval, not round." He quickly roughed out one eye with a small chisel. "Now do the others. You can't have tadpole eyes on a hundred pacer!”

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The realm of superstrings is so small that light does not exist there. Be they wave, be they particle, the photons of light are too large to exist there.

I speculate on phenomena analogous to light that we are far too small to be aware of.

How could a being of superstring size contemplate the marvels of sight?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Yesterday I took my new camera to the speech contest. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out all the functions, so I goofed up some really good shots. However, here is one that has its own qualities. One of the ladies in a wheelchair was being wheeled out as the kids marched back to class. Their line swayed over to touch her and wave at her.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Speech! Speech!
Today Wulai Elementary School held its Tayal Speech Contest. In addition to encouraging the aborigine kids to speak their ancestral language, the principal invited several old ladies to show the youngsters the proper way to do it.
Six old ladies came to sing and dance. Fifty little kids watched, and clapped along. Two of the ladies are confined to wheelchairs, so their dancing was confined to waving their arms. Half of them sang melodic songs, the other half the ancient chant-like songs. One lady forgot her lines halfway through her song. The others laughed so hard they cried.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

a nice photo I took in February. (you couldn't post photos in these blogs then, or if you could, it was beyond my level of technical competence.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

雖然已經不是國定價日,但是還是祝大家 Happy光復節,good riddance 日本帝國主義統治者。六十年了。怎麼不放燄火?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

We are all building a culture together, and it is one with a remarkably consistent message. From the shady groves of our elite universities to the Hollywood offices of Interscope Records, a chorus of powerful voices is telling us that men don't need to stand by their women and children anymore. Male rappers delight in this notion because there is sexual power to be gained by impregnating many women. Feminists like it because it allows them to enjoy the delights of being a mother without the hassles of being a wife.

The ramifications of this new attitude are going to be grave. Belittle men's responsibilities to their families, raise boys to believe that fatherhood is not a worthy aspiration, and the people who will suffer are women and children. For the past forty years women have been insisting that they be able to enjoy the same sexual freedoms as men (You go, girl!), and to become single mothers by choice (ditto!). Surprise, surprise: men have been more than happy to comply. Someday American women may realize that the great achievement of civilization wasn't Erica Jong's zipless fuck of yesteryear. It was convincing men that they had an obligation to contain their sexual energies within marriage and to support – economically and emotionally – the children they created in that marriage. You go, June Cleaver!
-Caitlin Flanagan, Boys will be Boys, The Atlantic Monthly, November 2005, page 162

Saturday, October 22, 2005

another snappy slogan
From North Korea (of course):
“Let us trim our hair in accordance with Socialist lifestyle.”

Makes you want to rush to Pyongyang, doesn’t it?

Friday, October 21, 2005

An antique seller on Ebay has a very catchy slogan:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I have never made any pretension that I could understand what is buzzing around in the exalted cranium of His Travesty George Dubya Bush. He accuses the Islamic radicals of trying to 'intimidate the world.' And pray tell me, what was Shock and Awe designed to do? He sends the National Guard to shoot Iraqis because the Suadi bin Laden is a terrorist hiding somehwere in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The National Guard is, naturally, unavailable to help in Lousiana, but that doesn't matter because neither is he. He sends billions of dollars to Mars but won't let people cross a bridge to escape flooded New Orleans. He cuts taxes. Who benefits from his tax cuts? 97% of these tax cuts go to people making over US$200,000 a year, and 54% to people making over a million dollars annually: not the types you see huddling in the Superbowl, slogging through ankle-deep urine as the roof rips off. Since these tax cuts will save those rich people something like US$150 billion over the first ten years, there won't be much money for things like Medicaid, and a lot of the health care for victims of Katrina will be cut by those compassionate conservative Republicans. Saudi Arabia is doing little to discourage their current slave trade in prostitutes, child prostitutes, and forced laborers, but President Bush decided to look the other way, apparently because he believes Saudi Arabia to be our allies in fighting terrorism, regardless of where those 9/11 hijackers came from, and regardless of how little the Sauds have done to crack down on Al Qaeda. I guess he looks back to precedent: they used to have slaves in Texas, didn't they? So wouldn't be banning slavery in our beloved Saudi Arabia be playing a double standard? The man who won his second term on a ‘moral vote’ disregards the Geneva Convention and condones the torturing of prisoners. Now he is complaining that the investigations into his wrongdoings and the uproar over his inappropriate Supreme Court nomination are "background noise, a lot of chatter," complicating the work of his administration. That's like blaming a policeman for pulling you over for doing 120mph in a 35 mph zone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

how come I'm not surprised they're both Northwestern?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005



Monday, October 17, 2005

Taiwan has the most gorgeous moonscapes imaginable. The full moon, still hidden behind the ridge, lit up a column of cloud so that it shined like a lightbulb against the dark sky. Then the moon climbed out, a soft light against the black mountains and sky. I sat on the porch roof, eating my dinner and enjoying the fall cool. Then I started wondering, is there something wrong with my eyes? The moon doesn't look round. The lower right hand corner looks sort of flattened out. I soon realized: eclipse.

The eclipse was partial. It lasted only from about 7 until after 8, and was never really noticeable, although all the neighborhood dogs started barking about the time I noticed the effect. Of course they always bark, so that might not have been why. Maybe just general dogginess. I felt privileged to see an eclipse that I imagine very few people noticed. The moon is not so important against city lights, and at that time, most people were transfixed by their televisions anyway.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

feeling crabby?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Traditionally the Tayal are weavers, producing practically indestructible cloth (women) and equally indestructible baskets (men). They have produced little pottery and no woodcarving.

The town hall arranged for the first ever wood carving class for the Wulai Tayal. They invited a teacher from the Paiwan tribe, at the other end of the island, Taiwan;s woodcarvers par excellence*. Of course I signed up, and our first lesson was today. Lucky me.

Seven people showed up. It seems that one specification for the class is that you ought to have Temu in your name, because we had Yoyung Temu, Temu Heyong, and Yasa Temu. (Where was Temu Hakaw?) Lalung was there too. About a year ago, he came down from the mountains, where he spent three or four years hunting, come down once a month or so to buy rice. I expect the best carving to come from Temu Heyong and Lalung.

Each participant was issued ten unsharpened chisels, a canvas bag to hold them, a wooden mallet, paper and pen, and a board to carve. The board is about five or six centimeters thick, 50 wide, and two meters long. It weighs about 35 kilograms. Ok, for those who don't know metric, that means it's about 3 fingers thick, and I could lie comfortably on it, with space for a watermelon at my feet. The board is about half my weight. The cost of the materials is hardly covered by the nominal registration fee; the town hall made up the difference: an advantage of being part of a disadvantaged minority. (You have to be a registered resident of Wulai to take the course, and technically, it is restricted to Aborigines, unless you really want to join.)

Our teacher, Saguliu Jiagun, looks like a typical Paiwan, has a short beard and hair that reaches his shoulder. He is laconic, or perhaps just shy. He first gave a short speech, explaining that we were going to study woodcarving; carving may be relief or three dimensional, the difference being that anything with a hole all the way through it is three dimensional; there are old and new styles of Paiwan carving; there are three kinds of chisels; you carve this way (whack whack whack);
first you have to sharpen your chisels. We trooped outside to learn how to sharpen the chisels. "You hold the chisel this way….. not this way…. and you do this….” Each statement was followed by a five second pause and a demonstration. "Here is how you do this…… not this way….. here is how you do this….. who will volunteer to demonstrate what I just showed you?" Yasa Temu stepped forward and started stropping away. Temu Yoyong explained to Teacher, "We call him Wulai Picasso, because Yasa is the only painter in Wulai." Teacher accepted this pronouncement in silence. Somebody goofed: instead of dozen whetstones, we were supplied with only four, three fine and one coarse. When Yasa had worked for a while, Teacher said, "These whetstones are too fine….. you should each sharpen all ten of your chisels, but because of these whetstones, just sharpen one of each kind."

Four men went to work on the whetstones. The rest of us wandered inside. Teacher told us to plan our carving. He handed us a sheath of pictures of Tayal in traditional dress. "Carve something like these, they are your tribesmen…. You may want to draw a picture on paper first…. There is paper for you." Lalung and Temu Heyong took paper and pen in hand, probably for the first time in a decade, and grimly set to work, like grade schoolers taking a particularly difficult math test. Teacher approached one of the boards. "….we need chalk to draw on the boards…." The other day I unthinkingly carried a piece of chalk out of class and dropped it in my backpack, for lack of anything better to do with it. I fished it out and handed it to Teacher, who began roughing a sketch on a board. Naluwan, from the Town Hall, was dispatched to lift a box of chalk from Wulai Elementary. Teacher demonstrated how to clear out chips with a compressor-powered chisel.

Yasa finished sharpening a chisel, and came indoors. He immediately set to work on his board. He roughed out a sketch in moments, and started chiseling. He hadn't sharpened his chisel properly, so in a short while, he put it down and attacked his board with the power chisel. Teacher looked on without saying anything, but ignored him from then on. I took over Yasa's whetstone, and then got a turn on the rough whetstone, so within an hour I had the three main chisels ready to carve. Yasa was halfway through his carving by this time. Temu Heyong called me over and very proudly showed me his drawing: Lalung in traditional dress, headhunting tattoos and all. Temu had difficulty with the nose. It meandered all over Lalung's face. I praised his work, but privately thought it would be impossibly difficult to carve. Teacher silently took the drawing, and sketched out the basic ideas on a board for him: "Carve it that way."

"Teacher, may I borrow your Paiwan hundred-pacers?" I asked. The Paiwan totem is the poisonous hundred pacer snake. He was pleased by the idea, so I sketched a standing Tayal man with a Paiwan hundred pacer coiled over his head. Teacher helped me sketch the head-hunting knife. I put chisel to wood.

All too soon, it was 11:30. Although class runs until 5, I had to teach in the city at 2, so with great reluctance, I packed my tools and took my leave. When I left, I was surprised to find that I felt like I had had a good morning's exercise. Woodcarving is more strenuous than it looks.

* Par excellence is a French term of such abstruse significance that any attempt at translation into English is futile, leaving me no choice but to display my erudition by reverting to the original French. For you pathetic, uncouth troglodytes who do not read French, allow me to condescendingly inform you that the phrase means par excellence.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Gnash your teeth
Imagine if, in advance of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of trucks had been waiting with water and ice and medicine and other supplies. Imagine if 4,000 National Guardsmen and an equal number of emergency aid workers from around the country had been moved into place, and five million meals had been ready to serve. Imagine if scores of mobile satellite-communications stations had been prepared to move in instantly, ensuring that rescuers could talk to one another….

Actually, this requires no imagination: it is exactly what the Bush administration did a year ago when Florida braced for Hurricane Frances. Of course the circumstances were very special: it was two months before the presidential election, and Florida's twenty-seven electoral votes were hanging in the balance. It is hardly surprising that Washington ensured the success of 'the largest response to a natural disaster we've ever had in this country.' The president himself passed out water bottles to Floridians driven from their homes.
-Richard Clarke, Things Left Undone, The Atlantic Monthly, November 2005 p37

Thursday, October 13, 2005


汽車廣告有個好例子:九人座是男人對家庭永遠鬥陣的保證。鬼扯蛋嘛!稍微用幾個腦細胞就知道這是nonsense。為什麼是永遠?五億年後還有這台九人座嗎? 有甚麼保證? 說不定買了後座寬敞的車是方便男人拈花惹草。可是現代人被訓練得服服貼貼的,毫無主見;一定很多人看到廣告詞就決定買一台九人座。九人座:老公 + 老婆 = 二人,現在有幾家生七個孩子?誰管它! 廣告這樣寫,我們趕快去買吧!! 有空位?沒關係,多生幾個就恰恰好。

「個性」是現今廣告業者的最愛。買這件大量生產的商品來表現你的獨特個性! 今天看到一個廣告:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

「他前一陣子到烏來,想看看我們的山找畫的靈感。我遇到他在 tataq na balang qasa,跟他聊起來,請他到 ngasal ku, maniq mami, 很開心他啦。他說是他第一次交原住民朋友,我叫他常常來烏來tama cisal啦,mosay啦。後來他送我一副他的畫。」
「balay bi?」
「balay. 那副畫我放在家裡看了幾天,後來拿去丟掉了。Muling syuq.」
「Muling syug? Nanu sa?」
「Yaqeh kitay bi. 他說他畫鵝在水池,鵝也不像鵝,水池也不像水池,留它幹嘛?垃圾車來的時候,我把它丟掉了。留它幹嘛?」

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


不管。先把崇洋節列為國定假日。崇洋節如果講中國話(國語、閩南語、客家語、任何方言),要罰。連姓名都要洋化;例如總統陳水扁先生要叫 Mr Bean。家裡的筷子用一條綠布封起來,用餐要拿刀叉,最好吃漢堡。嚴禁吃麵、飯等。開車一定要遵守交通規則(這一項最難)。進到家裡要穿鞋子,不可以脫! 入門脫鞋原是中國傳統,所以要摒除。回家也不准換舒適的便服,上班的衣服要穿到睡覺才脫,而且不可以睡覺前洗澡,規定要等早上起床後。也可以效法歐洲人,乾脆不洗澡算了。
真心愛臺灣的人把頭髮染成金髮、戴上綠隱形眼鏡 (不可以戴『藍』!!!小心被批鬥!),最好把血都抽出來換洋血,去中國化!

順便廢除農曆年,因為英文叫 Chinese New Year. 改「譴華節」,祖先牌位列出來,歷代祖先痛罵,因為幾乎都是外省人。要這樣罵:「可惡的外省人來臺灣幹嘛!?好好的臺灣,都是外省人搞壞了!」如果罵累了,原住民很樂意幫忙。

備註: Mr Bean在歐美頗有名氣。




Monday, October 10, 2005

Today is Double Ten, the 94th anniversary of the beginning of the revolution that ended the Chinese monarchy (nominally, and for now, anyway) and established the Republic of China.

I am not for any political party. In my view, asking a politician to be honest goes against the nature of the beast. If the people are well fed, well clothed, have decent houses, are well educated and reasonably content, that is a good government.

I believe that by 1990, the situation in Taiwan was like that. The economy was strong, people had money in their pockets for more than just the next meal, and everything was running smoothly for the vast majority of people here. People had stopped caring what dialect you spoke at home, or what province your ancestors were buried in. The feeling was especially strong around Double Ten. There were big parades in the morning and fireworks in the evening. Lights were hung all around the President's Office. Crowds of people visited in the evening to admire the lights and their accomplishments. The feeling of pride and achievement was palpable.

The problem arose that some ambitious politicians were not eating enough pork. They decided they had to do something to make people dissatisfied.

Come Double Ten, 1991, the opposition (I forget, was the Democratic Progressive Party organized yet then?) announced plans to disrupt the parade past the President's Office, with promises of violence. In response, the whole area around the Parade route was cordoned off with barbed wire. At the time, Merica, where I teach, was in three buildings (後來都重建。現在南陽街襄陽街角那棟大樓,本來是一棟八層樓的;美加租二樓到五樓,旁邊有一棟四層樓的,是美加的,現在美加大樓是原來老舊的房子,像兔窩。) The demarcation line ran right through the middle, so when I came out of class at ten, I walked out of the cordoned area, past the barbed wire. The MPs on duty were obviously embarrassed as we all trooped through their little gate. You could leave, but not enter without the proper papers.

The problem was I lived inside the cordon, a kilometer away, by the parade route. I had brought identification. I got on my bike and pedaled homeward, turning, as usual down 紹興南路 (那時才打通沒很久), where I approached a gate back through the cordon. Dismounting my bike well before I reached the gate, I pulled my ID out of my bookbag and presented it to the MPs. They ascertained that my address showed I did live within the cordon, so, apologizing for the nuisance, they opened the gate and let me through.

It was very quiet that night, no traffic on the street. The next morning I went out with the neighbors to watch the tanks go by. Everybody cheered the soldiers, trying to make up for the thin number of spectators. The politicians ruined everybody's holiday, but what do they care? They're in power now.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

He's not a nuisance, he's my brotherrrrrrrrrr~~

Saturday, October 08, 2005

sunset one day last month

Friday, October 07, 2005

living room

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tloyal Tlahuy.

alert Tlahuy.
The news says President Bush insists that Harriet Miers is the nation's best-qualified candidate and assured skeptical conservatives that his lawyer-turned-Supreme Court nominee shares his judicial philosophy and always will. "I've known her long enough to know she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she will be the same person with the same judicial philosophy she has today," Bush said. "She'll have more experience. She'll have been a judge, but nevertheless the philosophy won't change."
This may be the best reason I have heard to keep her out of the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

This morning when I opened the front door, I found I had a little guest.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I am proud of the iron discipline I have inculcated on Yumin. Here is a genuine, unretouched photograph of his lightning reaction after I called him for the fourth time.

Any disinterested observer will note that he is very definitely looking at me, responding to my call. And only the fourth call!

For a beagle, that is iron discipline.