Sunday, December 31, 2006

A swarm of several bees visited my front door this morning. By the time I thought about filming it, most of them had passed. This is the tail end of the swarm. Happy new year, little buddies.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

In Portugal, it's against the law to pee in the ocean.
I appreciate the effort, but I really wonder how they enforce that one.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Recently I have seen some shoe ads that tickle me. They advertise A Truly Natural Look, Natural Shoes, footwear that gets you close to nature, and so forth. Shell out your dough and you too can enjoy nature with expensive shoes that (please read this part in an appropriately excited voice, like the advertisers write it) breathe and dry easily!

I have a pair of natural footwear that fits me perfectly. They breathe and dry easily, too. They are all-terrain and all-weather, and have great traction. (see photo).

To be honest, I should qualify all-weather: all-weather in Wulai. They work great in sunshine, in typhoons, and all year round, but the coldest it gets here is about 2C. I have tried them out on snow, but I'm not acclimated for that, so I kept it up only about half an hour. I plan to be in Boston this winter, so my thoughts turned to my feet.

Last year when I went to New York wearing my shoes, they disintegrated at the check-in counter, for lack of use (please see this blog for December 21, 2005). To avoid a replay, I dug out my hiking boots for a trial walk to make sure they still worked. I hadn't worn them for five or six years, so my worries were justified.

I made my trial hike late at night, lest I frighten a neighbor. If they saw me shod, they would probably call for an ambulance. With headlamp attached and dogs scampering, I set out through the bamboo. Now this is very interesting, because the slight path is ill-defined; very quickly I lost the trail. That had never happened to me. I think that before, when I went out at night, my feet recognized the trail and kept me on it. Ensconced in shoes, my feet were cut off from their surroundings, and eyesight alone was insufficient for me to find the path.

Walking in hiking boots, I realized how much I have come to depend on my bare feet. Barefoot, I know the texture of the ground I am walking on, its temperature, dryness or wetness, rocks, leaves, soil, bamboo, what have you. Walking shod, I felt removed from the environment.

Also, I had trouble with slipping. These are good Italian hiking boots with Vibram soles, but bare feet conform to the surface of the ground, so you have a large surface stuck onto the ground. Your toes can take advantage of slight lumps, and the sole hugs whatever is down there. The hiking boots are stiff, so I slipped in places I had never slipped barefoot.

Walking over prickly stubble, I suppose I could go faster in hiking boots than barefoot. But speed is rarely a consideration when I am in the mountains. I prefer to hike with my eyes, ears, nose, and feet wide open.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In Which Sister Visits a Brand New Library

The man in the library turned and asked pleasantly, "Are you OK?" I replied, "Yes. Fortunately," with, I hope, an equally pleasant expression. "Thank you," I added (pleasantly), as I regained my seat.

When he first turned to look, I like to think I wasn't lying flat on the floor. Scrambling limberly to my feet, more likely? Whose idea was it, to put these lightweight chairs on rollers?

this was written by my sister St Eph. I would like to answer the question she poses in the last sentence: she met him already, and had a short but pleasant conversation with him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

let dogs be dogs
Love is confusing. What do you love for? or rather, what makes you love? Is love understanding, or control?

Consider the love of pets. One of the most asinine clips I've seen on youtube (and there is LOTS of competition) was, unfortunately, filmed right here in Taiwan. Somebody took her golden retriever to Tansui 淡水, and tied the poor animal up right next to the water, sort of like Tantalus and the spring. The dog got free and leapt into the water. The lady shrieked and some fool jumped into the water to 'rescue' it. The poor dog must have been thinking, "$#@%!! I finally got into the water and this &**#@ jerk pulls me back out!"

If you don't know that a golden retriever loves water like squirrels love trees, you shouldn't have one. Last summer I saw someone walking a golden retriever in the rain, and the poor dog was decked out in rain gear. It's a good thing golden retrievers have mild tempers, or else it would have bitten the idiot. I know I felt like biting him.

Notice both examples so far are golden retrievers. There are a lot of them in Taipei. Now think: Taipei is crowded, so there's not much space for these big, lively dogs to stretch their legs out and run and go swimming. If you really loved the dog, you certainly wouldn't raise one in Taipei's compact apartments!

A beagle is another dog that doesn't belong in an apartment. A few weeks ago I saw a beagle being walked, and because the temperature had plummeted to about 22C, the person wrapped the poor beagle up in an coat. If you don't know beagles have strong resistance to cold, you shouldn't own one. You ought to understand your pet.

People seem to own pets for the pleasure of being able to dominate their animal completely, not for the pleasure of letting a dog be a dog.

Not just dogs. We want all of our animals to be Disney-sweet. Cute bears, adorable tigers, sweet hippos, cuddly wolves. Better it would be to respect their natures.

Earlier this month at Sea World in San Diego, a killer whale dragged a trainer to the bottom of the pool. Fortunately the trainer escaped intact, but now the authorities are investigating "why a 5,000 pound killer whale injured a veteran trainer." Excuse me? This is a killer whale, a =||killer||= whale, and the authorities are investigating why it injured somebody? What did they expect it to do, give the trainer a hug and discuss post-feminism, snuff bottles, and string theory? Their time would be better spent investigating why there was anything left of the trainer but buttons and fur.

"During the summer tourist season, the killer whale show is often performed seven times daily." Maybe the killer whale was just sick of the stupid act: I swear, if they make me shoot straight from the water toward suspended cameras one more time, just ONE MORE TIME, I swear I'm going to KILL somebody!!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ho, ho, YIKES!
In 1982, the members of the Truth Tabernacle in South Carolina hanged a Santa Claus, in protest to the pagan origins of Christmas celebrations. This is an excellent idea worth copying and propagating. Wouldn't that be jolly? A Santa lynched on every lamppost.

You could even sing about it:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light,
From now on that stupid Santa,
Will be out of sight.
Through the years we put up with enough,
If the fates allow,
Hang a fake Santa upon the highest bough ~~~~
And have yourself a merry Constitution Day now!

Merry Constitution Day. Lynch a Santa for Christ!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

This morning I heard an eagle perched in a tree near my house calling back and forth with an eagle on high. I'd never heard anything like that.

I tried my best to record it. Be patient.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Jacques Barzun is a writer I hold in highest esteem, from all angles. Several years ago, I bought his Dawn to Decadence, 500 Years of Western Cultural Life. I put it on the shelf to mellow until an appropriate time.

Today I started. Before I even finished the Prologue, I read this paragraph:

"Culture – what a word! …. Now it is a piece of all-purpose jargon that covers a hodge-podge of overlapping things. People speak and write about the culture of almost any segment of society: the counterculture, to begin with, and the many subcultures: ethnic cultures, corporate cultures, teenage culture, and popular culture. An editorial in the New York Times discusses the culture of the city's police department, and an article in the travel section distinguishes the culture of plane travel from the bus culture. One a par with these, recall the split between the 'two cultures' of science and the humanities, which is to be deplored – like the man-and-wife 'culture clash,' which causes divorce. Artists feel the lure – no, the duty – of joining an adversary culture; for the artist is by nature 'the enemy of his culture,' just as he is (on another page of the same journal) 'a product of his culture.' In education, the latest fad is multiculturalism, and in entertainment the highest praise goes to a 'cross-cultural event.' On the world scene, the experts warn of the culture wars that are brewing."

Wonderful stuff! And on the very next page I found something to disagree with. What are margins for, if not to scribble in? Eight hundred pages. I feel like I have sat down to a magnificent feast.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Early in his career, Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, played a Bach adagio for Pablo Casals === if you don't know Pablo Casals was the greatest cellist ever, I'm not sure what to say to you. My first reaction was, maybe you shouldn't be reading this blog. Then I thought, no, maybe you should be studying every word. Anyway.

When Steinhardt finished, Casals said, "Good, very good." Pause. Then He told a story (hey, if Christians can capitalize He for Jehovah, Casals deserves at least as much). Decades earlier at a restaurant in Budapest, a Gypsy violinist approached Casals, bowed, and played the same Bach adagio better than Casals had ever heard it played. Casals said, "He did not know how one should or should not play Bach, and so he simply played freely and from the heart. You play intelligently and with spirit. Now let yourself go."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

From an article about aging techniques to make furniture look like an antique:
"To create flyspecks, dip an old toothbrush in black ink. Carefully rub a toothpick across the bristles to splatter paint for that speckled look."

If I were to spend my time carefully rubbing a toothpick across toothbrush bristles to make something look like it had flyspecks, I would consider myself depraved.
You probably didn't notice the transubstantiation of ink to paint, either. Read that quote again.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006




Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Much talk has been devoted recently to the building of a fence along the border between the US and Mexico, to keep out illegal immigrants.

I think this is a lousy idea, simply because I do not think it is fair that the little guy should always be the one to suffer. People say there are so many illegal aliens that something has to be done. Ok, fine. Enact laws: for every day's work done by an illegal alien, the person in the firm making the most money has to serve two days in jail with drug dealers and gangsters, wearing an orange jump suit; if that person can prove that he is a proxy for someone making even more money, he is free and that person puts on the orange jump suit. So say a company has ten illegal aliens working on Tuesday: the CEO serves twenty days in jail.

How many job opportunities would exist to lure these poor people north?

Of course Dubya would never permit such a law to pass, but you have to admit, that would solve the problem overnight, and the little guy would, eventually, wind up with a better deal than he's got now.

Illegal aliens enter the US for jobs, and because they are illegal, they are exploited. If the aliens were not there, the jobs would still exist, so the employers would have to either raise pay for local labor, or find legal ways to hire aliens; such ways would be subject to legal scrutiny, and no matter how cynically you deem legal scrutiny, it is better than none at all.

So let's not waste money on a border fence. Let's see some of those CEOs in orange jumpsuits!

Monday, December 18, 2006



Sunday, December 17, 2006

Some Jews and Christians say it is perfectly all right to kill animals to eat because only human beings have souls, so since animals don't have souls, their suffering and death are of no account. One recent pope proclaimed that when you kick a dog, its yelp signifies no more than the shriek of a machine; don't forget, popes are infallible, so he can't be wrong. Oh sure.

When Jehovah so loved the world that he decided to drown everybody, he found that of all these jerks he created in his own image, only Noah was a just man, righteous and blameless, so he decided not to drown Noah. Wasn't that nice of him? Ok, so Noah lives. Then what? Jehovah told Noah to build an ark and rescue all of the animals. Just the animals, not the plants or the minerals. Not even mushrooms.

If animals had no souls, why bother? The ark teaches that Jehovah thought animals were as worth saving as Noah, and more worth saving than the rest of humanity, so they must not only have souls, but righteous, blameless souls that are just, and more worth saving that 99% of humanity.

So go ahead and enjoy your steak. Surely you are more saintly than Noah.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

contempt of court


Friday, December 15, 2006














Thursday, December 14, 2006



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

is it my eyes or my mind?
just now on Word, I was surprised to see that I had a font called Anal. Oh, Arial….

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On Thanksgiving, President Bush phoned members of the Armed Forces serving in Iraq. That strikes me as unbelievably callous. I can't imagine how the conversations went.

"Hi, this is your President, you know, the guy who started this war you are stuck in. I really messed up the whole situation there, and you're the ones who clean it up. Isn't that a riot? Bet you didn't know you'd end up fighting in somebody else's civil war when you signed up for the national guard, did you? That'll teach you to be more careful about signing contracts.

"Yeah, yeah, I know there was no good reason to attack Iraq, but don't forget how they treated my daddy. He won his war and that jerk Saddam kept on being president. I couldn't let that go on. And anyway, what's the fun of being president if you can't have a war? My daddy had a war, so I should get one too. Mine is bigger than his, too! And it's going to last longer than all the other American wars put together! And besides, look at all the oil. Not to mention all those lush, rich contracts my buddies are winning. Boy, they're really raking it in, hand over fist. Say, I hear you guys have to spend a bundle of your own money for better equipment than the stuff our contractors hand out. I guess your pay doesn't go very far, does it? You ought to have a rich daddy, like me.

"So today is Thanksgiving and we're chewing on the bird here with friends and family. Yeah, too bad you aren't home. You're over there getting shot at. Tough luck. Hey, if you were on the ball, you wouldn't even be in the war zone. Look how my daddy kept me safe from the fighting in Viet Nam, and I even had a great time learning how to fly, on the taxpayers' dime, when some idiots were fighting and dying in those jungles. Either they had some weird ideas about patriotism or their daddies weren't rich enough.

"But don't let it get you down, you know, we compensate your families pretty well when you get killed, and who knows, you may even survive. They're doing wonders with prosthetics now. Well, they should, look at all the practice we're giving them. But if you do buy the farm, first tell your mother not to get on my case, all right? Ugh, that lady last year, and when I was on vacation, too! How inconsiderate can you get? If everybody followed me around just because her kid got killed in my war, I'd have thousands of them after me. Some people are really insensitive, aren't they?

"Well, it's been nice talking to you and all that, but it's time for the next course, so I'm going to run now, and leave you to the insurgency. Have a good one!"

Monday, December 11, 2006

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.
H L Mencken

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Saturday, December 09, 2006

在新店遇到幾個部落的小朋友。一個烏來國中男生看到我,說,嗷, Yugan!旁邊一個烏來國小女生看了,想了一下,說,嗷,我知道,你就是那個狗的那個。

That's me, 就是那個狗!

Friday, December 08, 2006

What one person takes for granted may astonish another.

The other day, an acquaintance casually mentioned the tv program she had watched while she ate breakfast.

"What? You watched television at breakfast?" The idea that someone would watch television before she left for school astonished me.

Further discussion. I explained that I have never lived in a house with a television. That astonished her.

42% of Americans eat dinner in front of the television every day! Isn't that astonishing?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Chang and I went to fetch Yulaw home, as he was too drunk to return unassisted. Yulaw is one of Wulai's best singers. Perhaps in honor of my support, when we had stuffed him into the backseat, he launched into Feelings. He began in English, Feelings, nothing more than feelings, teadroz rolling don on my fez ~~ he fizzled out and fudged a few lines: feelings lie aaa nedda goz you bay n feelings lie aaa medda gabyagininma haaaaaat. He muddled along in like fashion for a few more lines, and suddenly burst out with qnag nnaq txaina xi 冰箱, which is Tayal for "eat as much as you like and put the leftovers in the refrigerator." I was awestruck. It fit the meter perfectly, and flowed very naturally into the song. Of course, it didn't do a lot for the sentiment of lost feelings, but when he pulled out that soulful 冰箱~~~~~ (a borrowing from Mandarin, as there is no word in Tayal for refrigerator), I knew I was listening to a master.

Sinkang的bus右側燈壞了,所以跑了最後一趟把車子送保養廠,不載客,車上只有一個乘客, Yugan是也。車上兄弟兩個,無外人,他就唱歌。歌聲很好,可是唱的是一般流行歌。我聽了一陣,終于不耐煩說,Sinkang, iyat pongan mkwas mukan, 不想聽這種,唱泰雅歌吧。他誤會了,同一首歌用泰雅語重唱,邊唱邊編歌詞。我說,Sinkang,唱泰雅歌,泰雅歌茁壯,不要唱平地人的歌;平地人的歌娘娘腔,沒有氣勢,在山上唱這個幹啥?Sinkang不解,我索性放聲唱了Stenka Razin的第一段(Stenka Razin是俄羅斯Cossack族民間英雄,十七世紀起義造反)。Sinkang聽了就開竅了,說,Yugan,這首歌很雄偉、很威武。我說,沒錯,所以Sinkang以後不要再唱那種平地人的娘娘歌,不適合男人唱。保養廠已經到了,我下車說,Sinkang,我以後再教你唱,歌詞隨便你編。

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Quleh's mournful eyes were full of nostalgia.

"Yugan, did you know I can speak Spanish? Yugan, in Spanish, Mister is Senor, Mrs is Senora, a senorita is a young lady, and you can say chica, and in Spanish to say Thank you, you say…. you say… you say something else.

"Yugan, not many Aborigines can speak Spanish, but I can speak Spanish because I worked on a fishing boat, and we fished in the Atlantic. We sold our fish to Japan for sashimi. The Japanese say Taiwan's fishermen are seigai ichiban! That means, the best in the world.

"Our fishing boat went to Uruguay. The people in Uruguay speak Spanish. They are very friendly, they are nice people, Yugan. I met a pretty girl, she was very pretty, her hair was like this and her figure was like this, and she said 'I love you.’

"She gave me her address, so the next day I went to her house to visit her. I wanted to take her a gift, Yugan, so I went to the captain and said, 'Captain, a senorita said to me, "I love you." Today I am going to her house and I want to take her a gift. Captain, may I take her a fish?' Captain said, 'Yes, Quleh, you may take her a fish. Choose a fish, and I will charge you for labor only, and take it out of your wages.’

"So I went to the freezer, Yugan, and found the best fish in the freezer for her. Yugan, Taiwan fishermen are very good, the Japanese say Taiwan fishermen are the best in the world, so the freezer was full of good fish. I chose the best one for her. It was a sailfish and weighed about 300 pounds.

"So I took the sailfish and got a taxi. The sailfish was very big, Yugan, it was this big, and it was very heavy, but there were a couple other Tayal tribesmen on the boat and they helped me put the sailfish in the taxi.

"First we had to go through Customs. The man in Customs said, 'Where are you taking this big fish?' I said, 'A senorita said, "I love you," so I am taking this fish to her for a gift.' The Customs man said, 'You have to pay duty on this fish.' I took a ten dollar bill, ten dollars US, and put it in his pocket. He smiled at me and said, 'Have a good time with your senorita.’

"The taxi took me to the senorita's home, but Yugan, it was a big sailfish, it weighed about three hundred pounds, so I could not get it out of the taxi by myself. The senorita came and with her father and her mother and her brothers and sisters, we pulled the sailfish out of the taxi and took it into her house.

"Then her father and mother started sawing the sailfish, because it was very big. But it was frozen solid, Yugan, so it was very difficult to saw. Her brothers and sisters held the fish and her father and mother sawed it with a saw, but the sailfish was frozen as hard as a brick, so it was very hard to saw.

"Her father and her mother were very happy. They told me, 'Don't go back to Taiwan, stay in Uruguay.' I said, 'I have to go back to Taiwan.' Yugan, I had not done my military service yet, so I had to come back.

"Two days later our boat went to sea again. Then we went to Capetown and to India and then we came back to Taiwan. When I came back I was drafted into the army, and after I got out of the army, I never went to sea again, so I never went back to Uruguay to see my senorita.”

Quleh heaved a sigh and thought for a moment, his eyes far away. "I wonder how they cooked the sailfish.”

I excused myself and left. The image of the ardent Tayal swain taking a frozen 300 pound sailfish to present to his lady love was too much for me. I wanted to tell him, "Quleh, you could have taken her a red, red rose.”

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Monday, December 04, 2006

天主徒很喜歡看天主釘在十字架上痛苦的樣子:甚麼心態,我不了解。不然就是祂老人家開膛示心。天主受苦,教徒叫作passion、the passion of Christ。

「百香果」是譯音:譯的很漂亮。名字本來是菲律賓的教徒取的,因為他們認為百香果剖開,很像耶穌的那棵心,所以叫passion fruit>>>百香果。

從前百香果很難買,因為沒有人種,只有野生種。說也奇怪,有百香果在,蛇就喜歡來。所以以前只有原住民敢採,只有原住民賣,只有一個季節。我第一次看到百香果,三十幾年前在羅東菜市場外面,一位ptasan rqyas na weya Tayal(紋面泰雅長老)腳邊放一紙箱,裡頭的果都很小,可是很快賣完了。當時一般臺北人不知道有這個水果,臺北買不到;沒有國語名字,宜蘭閩南語叫「番仔木瓜」。


Sunday, December 03, 2006

In a review of Blood Money in the LA Times Book Review, Boston U Professor Andrew J Bacevich said, "Could it be that the so-called global war on terror is in actuality little more than a scheme to bilk the taxpayer and loot the resources of those we claim to liberate?"

As of October 31 of this year, 2,818 American soldiers had died in combat in Iraq. Before long, Bush will have killed more Americans than bin Laden.

The war costs US$250 million a day. Every day. Six or seven months of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are equal to 35 years of cancer funding. So if you figure in the Americans who die from cancer because of retarded research, he has killed a lot more than bin Laden.

Hail to the Chief.

Saturday, December 02, 2006







Lately there has been some hoopla about hosting the Olympics in Taipei in 2020. Yeah, you probably wonder what they've been smoking, too.

Just for the sake of discussion, let's ignore the practical impossibility of Chinese Taipei's hosting the games.

Hasn't anybody noticed the climate in Taipei? If they really had the Olympics here, in any events that weren't rained out, the athletes who weren't flattened by the humidity would suffer heat stroke long before they finished their events. Summer is typhoon season, and during typhoon season, a typhoon every week is not unusual. How are you going to carry on extended athletic events in this kind of climate?

Never mind that, I am dead set against having the Olympics here, for two main reasons. First, are there no pressing problems in Taiwan that should take priority over ultra-expensive athletic events? Second, who benefits and who suffers? I guarantee the middle and lower classes will only suffer, and not benefit in any way. Simply put, we don't have the stadiums for Olympic events, so they have to be built. Where would they build them? Do you think they would tear down rich people's expensive houses to make space for the stadiums?

Either that, or they will destroy more of Taiwan's natural beauty to replace with ugly stadiums. I always marvel at the eagerness of people who shout "Love Taiwan" to destroy this beautiful island.

Putting up large stadiums would be a huge undertaking, far beyond the reach of the small and medium businesses. The firms that won contracts would be Big Business; in other words, consolidating more riches among a few mega-companies. In order to keep down costs and win the bidding, the big companies would hire Thai and Filipino labor to build the stadiums. Please tell me how this benefits the little guy. (Of course, the DPP administration has never shown great willingness to do much for the little guy.)

The Olympics have generally been held to the detriment of the little guy, in any country. I fail to understand why we should spend great gobs of public money to satisfy the vanity and ambition of political hacks, and to feed the greed of the fat cats.

Friday, December 01, 2006