Wednesday, May 31, 2006


No matter what you think of same sex marriage, you have to admit that it's good this issue has caused people to reconsider that tired old institution, marriage. Times change, social structures change, so roles change too. We can't expect people to enter marriage with the same expectations and behavior as they did a hundred years ago. Here in the Taiwan the divorce rate is something like 1:4, and in the US it's probably more like 99.99:100, closer to purity than silver or gold.

Partly the problem is that people aren't used to fixing things in today's throw-away society. Partly till death do us part takes so much longer to happen, people don't want to wait so long. If a couple can stay together, more power to them; I wish all couples could. But most can't. Everybody dances the 5 step tango, Single, Engaged, Married, Separated, Divorced, over and over again until it's coffin time.

The standard issue idea of marriage now really needs rethinking, with the awareness that our parents' ideas of marriage were also just the product of a particular set of circumstances, and not something passed down immutable since the dawn of humanity.

But what is marriage? 1 man + 1 woman? 1 man + 4 women? 1 man + 1 man? 7 men + 1 woman? 1 man + 2 women + 3 goats?

It would be nice if we could just let society muddle through and work these things out over a couple of generations, as happened in the past. However, today's society worships standardization, conformity, and the law, so only one standard answer is permissible, and all must comply. The legal issues are complicated, because that entails what to do with those in comas, inheritance, insurance, and a whole bundle of problems.

I'm not giving any answers, and actually my topic today is not just marriage, but our views of how men and women should behave. Or men and women and goats, if you insist. I didn't have this blog during the Clinton years, but here's something I wanted to say then. I will post this now in my continuing effort to alienate all readers equally, regardless of race, religion, numerology, or credit rating.

You remember Clinton. I personally thought his only impeachable offense was horrible taste. Since when did Americans, of all people, become so prudish? The US is a country where you can't even sell toothpaste without promising sex appeal. Americans can't have a television show or movie or even a conversation for more than three minutes without bringing up intercourse; they beat the issue to death, sex in every possible nook and cranny, and then the electorate acts surprised that their leader is not just Jimmy Cartering, but doing something about sex. This surprises anybody with any knowledge of human society?

Politicians are chest thumpers, it's the nature of the beast. They are politicians because they want to get on top, no pun intended, and screwing around is part and parcel of the personality. Since the US is so open about (obsessed with) sex, and there seems to be a certain demand in the Oval Office, I propose that the White House should have a harem. In our free, open, liberated society, that should be okay.

Of course the harem would have to be updated to meet current conventions. You couldn't ask all the women to go into nunneries when the President leaves office, and they certainly wouldn't be bought and sold. But it wouldn't be hard to fill the harem. As Kiss said, power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. You could even have volunteers, sending The Chosen home with tee shirts that say on them, I BOPPED THE PREZ! You could have that superimposed very tastefully on top of the presidential seal or the White House. What a souvenir!

I'm sure lots of people will see the wisdom of my suggestion and this will gain support. Especially in Utah. If it needed to be passed into law, that wouldn't be any problem. All the White House would have to do would be to let out word that there would be trickle-down effect. Again, no pun intended.

Since the US is supposed to be so free and open and eager to discuss these things, I think we the people should give the White House a harem and stop worrying about it.

Well, that's what I wanted to say when Clinton was President. Now the harem could be replaced by a sandbox to better effect.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sweet sappy Tlahuy looks mild or even bashful, but he is ferocious when he's serious. Take another look and realize how strongly muscled he is: not a dog to trifle with. With his new little sister, Byajing, he is very aloof, generally not deigning to sport and frolic like Yumin. He acts like she is beneath notice. But the other day Byajing yelped, and I noticed Tlahuy speeding over silently. He checked her out from behind the ferns; everything ok, so he just as silently backed away. Since then I have noticed that when Yumin is out doing his beagling (which he has curtailed drastically to spend more time with Byajing), Tlahuy is generally somewhere off on the sidelines watching over her.

Tlahuy has evidently established his position, and is now joining in the fun, acting silly with the puppy. The other evening the three of them were having a grand tussle, Tlahuy and Yumin against tiny little Byajing. She is a spirited little puppy, and was putting up a vigorous fight. I was beginning to get worried that in the heat of the moment Tlahuy might forget himself, so I reached down to pull him off Byajing. Then I realized that his mouth was shut, and he was batting her back and forth with the sides of his muzzle. His powerful movements are closely controlled, and although the fight looks savage, he is actually handling her very gently so she won't get hurt.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Curtis brought this year's students from the University of Michigan Grand Valley to learn Chinese as she is spoke. Part of their introduction to Taiwan is a trip to Wulai. I met them down near the bus station, but as it was raining, we didn't go past the waterfall, but turned towards my house from there. At least there was no lightning.

Rain notwithstanding, we had a pleasant walk, enjoying the scenery, conversation, and fresh air. Byajing is too little for such an outing, so I left her home. Tlahuy and Yumin accompanied us. For every kilometer we walked, Yumin ran four, hither and yon, back and forth, a very busy beagle.

Tlahuy stayed by my side, as usual. Not Yumin. I called him to me. He glanced at me and raced further up the road. I futilely called again and again. At most Yumin would toss a glance in my direction and continue on his beagle errands. This went on for a good ten minutes, giving all a good laugh. Beagle discipline.

When we arrived home, I introduced Byajing. How can anybody resist such an adorable little pup? (if they can, they keep their mouths shut, if they know what's good for them) We started drying off. As usual, Curtis fell asleep. The students sat around looking at the scenery, wandering around the house, chatting. Time spent with friendly, intelligent people is time well spent indeed. Some wandered into my study. On the pile of books by my reading chair, one young man noticed Training Your Beagle, which I bought when Yumin was little and got out recently to review for Byajing. With a disbelieving expression and a voice laden with skepticism, he asked me, "Have you actually read that?”

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Lesson
"During the Cultural Revolution, students from my high school were sent in groups away from Beijing to the countryside /下鄉 to work on farms with peasants.

"One day we were walking along the road and saw an Old Peasant/老農. Mao said Old Peasants are founts of wisdom, knowledge, and revolutionary fervor; learn from Old Peasants. Our group leader decided to give us a quick lesson in ideology.

"'Comrade,' he asked the Old Peasant, 'Tell us about the repressions and injustices of the Kuomintang.’

"The Old Peasant answered, 'Aaah, those were the good old days. I had my own land and my own water buffalo. We were rich and happy before the Revolution.’

"Our group leader quickly changed the topic. 'Then tell us of the atrocities and excesses of your demonic landlord!’

"'My demonic landlord? Yes, we often wonder whatever became of him. He was such a good man. Why, one year there was a flood and everybody would have starved, but our landlord fed us all, and saved us. Everybody here really misses him.’

"End of lesson.”
Told me by a defector from the PRC, spring 1983

Saturday, May 27, 2006

我搬來烏來第二、三年,還沒養狗之前,部落一個泰雅在我後面山坡smirusa (放夾子)。我不喜歡有人在家附近狩獵。他來巡視時,我請他把夾子撤了,因為我常在那邊走動,也有登山客從旁邊小徑過,有的帶狗,萬一狗被夾住怎麼辦?他聽我講完,二話不說,一聲「好」,馬上把所有夾子拿走,從沒再來放過。


Friday, May 26, 2006







Thursday, May 25, 2006

Albert Einstein said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

But before you get all pleased with yourself, allow me to point out that all those who encounter violent opposition are not necessarily great spirits.

On the other end of the stick, here's an interesting idea from Steve Stringer in Los Alamos NM (in The Atlantic Monthly 06 06 p24) "Marxist thinking has always been a dullard’s pursuit, and those still consumed by it are far from the intellectual vanguard." Marxists cling to their ideas so tenaciously precisely because they are dullards, and they lack the imagination, courage, and mental power to question their beliefs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

There are three kinds of mind.

The first is full of cement. Society, school, television, church, peers, and movies pour in cement. It sets and hardens and that's the end of it.

The second is full of cement. The person sucks in cement from society, school, television, textbooks, bibles, magazines, learned books, and scholarly journals. The cement sets and hardens and that's the end of it.

The third is rich, fertile soil, in which a seed can germinate, sprout, and grow. This mind is rare.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006




Monday, May 22, 2006

dog judo

Yumin really puts up with a lot from Byajing.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Michael Robert Smith escaped from prison in California on June 7, 1968 while serving time for a robbery conviction. He has never had any trouble with the law since. For the last five years, he has lived in a tiny trailer in the woods of Oklahoma, doing menial, low paying jobs so he could feed himself without a social security number or drivers license.

Last Thursday, law enforcement officers from California tracked him down after 38 years and are now hauling him back to jail.

What are prisons for? If prisons are institutes of correction, I would say that 38 years without a run-in with the law is proof that he has been corrected, and can live as a useful citizen.

If prisons are institutes of punishment, 38 years of low paying hard labor should be punishment enough. This man was not jailed for murder or rape.

My solution is, return him to jail, just to prove that those who escape will be tracked down. Then give him a parole and a job after three months.

Unless my memory fails me, the President and Vice President both have criminal records, as do many members of Congress. That is irrelevant; they are rich, powerful people, and Smith is poor. Stomp on him!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Men's rooms and women's rooms are separated by sex for the sake of decency and safety. Toilets are separated so no one feels sexual pressure while relieving bladder and bowel pressure.

That is the theory, anyway. Straight men steer clear of the public toilets in the 228 Park, if they know what's good for them.

This raises a question. If toilets are segregated by sex, and if we are supposed to respect all sexual orientations, there should be four toilets: Men's, Women's, Gay, and Lesbian. You should probably even add some extras for transsexuals, drag, and so forth.

That adds up to enormous costs in space and equipment. How far is society willing to go to accommodate homosexuals? Put your money where your mouth is; do people really want to respect homosexuals, or do people just pay lip service when it is trendy, convenient, and doesn't cost anything (anything tangible, that is)?

Simplify life: take down the signs and make all toilets unisex.


Friday, May 19, 2006

The White House has spoken out concerning the fights over the immigration bills and making English the national language. The president says he wants to make sure that people who become American citizens have a command of the English language.

Very well said, sir, and I suggest you teach by example. Why don't you learn some English grammar and work on your vocabulary too?

Thursday, May 18, 2006




Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We are having the first typhoon of the season, coming up the Taiwan Strait, which is unusual. Sort of early for a typhoon, anyway. Rain, rain, rain, but the mountains are spectacular.

Just now I looked out the window and saw the sky full of flying bugs. At first glance I thought it was dragonflies. You know those black bugs, sort of like termites, only larger? They seemed to be swarming out of the slope to the north, hundreds and hundreds of them. From my porch, the whole sky is full of them, everywhere you look.

I had never seen that before.




天下最難的事情是甚麼?修行。從無始劫帶來的業、習氣、緣,要想轉它,必須狠狠地面對自己,而人最不願意作的事情,就是面對自己。修行要觀照起心動念、明了自己在幹甚麼,徹知自己為甚麼要作這些事 (幹麼要爬聖母峰?喜歡這種音樂,是甚麼個念頭?選購這件襯衫,把另一個放回架上,是基于何種心?對店員的態度是甚麼道理?對蜘蛛有恐懼、對兔子有喜愛,是怎麼來的?)




Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A refugee's story
I tried to make a verbatim copy of this story as I heard it. This was told to me in 1981, in English, by a refugee from mainland China who made his home in Singapore. The events took place in the late 1960s.

My friend same me come from the mainland, but he come out during Culture Revolution, an he go Singapore, same me.

But when he go Singapore, he dint have the money, an he very poor an hungry, so he very worry, what to do? But he don't know how many people, an he have no job, so he very worry, maybe he could starve to death.

So one day he notice a bank, the Moscow Numbalubnim Bank. You know the Moscow Numbalubnim Bank registered in London, but owned by the Soviet government, they have branches only Moscow, London, Singapore. My friend saw this, he studied Russian many years in China. He can speak not very well but he knows Russian an can speak, so he go into bank an ask to open account, but he speak only Russian. The clerk they only speak English, they don't understand Russian, an they speak English an Chinese to him, but he dint say anything else, he just keeps speaking Russian.

So finally they get an official out to talk to him, a Soviet Union man, an he is very happy, Oh! You speak Russian? Everybody in Singapore speak English, you can speak Russian it is very good. So my friend he speak very long with the Russian, an open an account in the Moscow Bank, an the Russian says, you have an overdraft it is not the matter, for ten thousand dollars Singapore the overdraft is all right.

An my friend he very happy with the Russian. The Russian he is very happy too. The Russian also he likes to fish very much, he loves to fish but where to fish in Singapore? With no boat, have no place to fish.

So my friend tells the Russian, you want to fish is okay, this weekend we go fish, an he went to seaside to dock, have many boat there, can rent some an some people like to go fish. So my friend he call all the fish people together an says, Tomorrow I rent one boat, I take foreigner go fish, no matter he says what, you smile an say yes, yes, an I pay ten times price. All fish people very happy because he said one foreigner, he did not say is one Soviet Union people. He use overdraft money for do this.

So the weekend, weather very nice. He borrow car an drive bank officer to the dock, and says, What boat you like fish in? An the bank officer he sees many many boat, all beautiful an nice fishing boat. He says, Is all right? My friend says of course! Just say what boat you want ride in, I own thirty per cent of every these boat. So the Russian he very happy, and he choose one boat, and they go on an go out to sea an fish an oh, so happy!

So they fish all day an Russian very very happy. Then he say to my friend, Are you brave to take adventure? An my friend says, I don't know. The Russian then says, Much much money if you brave for adventure, an my friend thinks, I don't have money, I don't have job, I someday will starve, maybe take adventure is okay.

The Russian say, You take boat an go to Viet Nam, buy machines an bring back to Singapore, can sell much money. My friend say, But I don't have much money, how can I buy many machines? The Russian says, We give you bank draft from Moscow Numbalubnim Bank, you take to Viet Nam can buy many machine, you sell in Singapore an later pay back Moscow Bank is okay.

So my friend he find another friend, also is Culture Revolution come from mainland China, also was starve, my friend ask him, You are brave to take adventure? If we didn't adventure, maybe we starve to death in Singapore, so take adventure is okay.

They take the bank draft from the Moscow Bank an they go to Viet Nam on a boat they rent from fish people. They have address of a man in Viet Nam, Moscow bank man give them the address. So in Viet Nam they find this one man, and for bank draft he bring to dock many many machine, bulldozer and backhoe and earthmover, many many machine because the boat is big an they fill the boat. All these machines are from US Army an all are very very new, how you say, brand new, never been used. Each one drives on boat in Viet Nam with its own power, an my friend gives Moscow Bank draft for man in Viet Nam, an my friend he go back Singapore. In Singapore is have big crane pick up each machine from deck an put on dock. The customs man stand on deck an see crane put machine on dock. Why not drive down? Because these scrap metal, cannot be used, so we bring to Singapore to sell as scrap metal.

So he paid scrap metal rate for customs duty an then he take brand new US Army machine an paint the another color and he sell for very high price. He paid back to Moscow bank an had plenty money left after an now he is a very very rich man.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pesky little Yumin is quite a changed dog. I can pinpoint the time he changed: around 10:30 Tuesday morning, when I brought Byajing home, and Cupid shot Tlahuy and Yumin, burying the fletches in Yumin. He suddenly became a mature, attentive gentleman, ready to scamper tenderly so as not to hurt her, equally ready to leap into action to protect her from the slightest harm.

The first afternoon she came, we were outdoors, Byajing was prancing back and forth in puppy clumsiness. I happened to glance back and saw Yumin sitting tranquilly, gazing at little Byajing in quiet adoration. Yumin was so embarrassed to be found out that he leapt to his feet and went charging uphill barking clamorously to protect us from any potential danger.

I had planned to keep Byajing in the first floor bathroom for a while, taking her out maybe an hour a day to acclimate her and let the big dogs get used to her. That isn't working out. Byajing hates to be indoors, and the big boys linger at the front door waiting for her. So now she's outdoors all day, and comes in only after dark or when I'm gone.

She begins barking at daybreak, so I deposit her outdoors. The first couple of days, when I took her out, I carried my blanket downstairs to sleep by the living room door, just in case. When she had done her duty, she wanted back indoors, and she snuggled up inside my blanket. After three days, she was big enough to stay outdoors without coming in for that extra cuddle.

Denise the Vet came to give Tlahuy and Yumin their annual shots. Isn't that great? A veterinarian who makes house calls. This way the dogs don't have to make the trek to the city. It is too early to give Byajing more shots, but Denise planned to check her temperature.

I sat on a chair and called Tlahuy to me. I pulled him across my lap and her assistant fed him treats as Denise gave Tlahuy his shots. He was very brave. Yumin got wind of what was up and started balking. I finally got him into my lap and he got his shots. His dignity had been wounded. As soon as I let him down, he walked off very briskly (walked, mind you, not ran) and sat in thick grass, sulking as far away from us as he could on the property. I went to comfort him and give him a snack, which helped, but he stayed there, still pouting, refusing to move. I called him and offered more snacks, but Yumin stayed put.

Then it was baby Byajing's turn. I held her as Denise took her temperature: rectal thermometer. Byajing yelped, and Yumin came charging to the rescue, eyes blazing, ears flapping, hackles up, tail aloft! When he saw Byajing safe in my arms, he turned around and returned to his thicket to continue sulking where he had left off.

Tlahuy gets a new collar after his inoculations.
Photo by 劉政霖老師.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


該教授口述報告,先說明他本來要做音樂學的分析,但是完全不懂音樂,也找不到專家跟他配合。接著花了不少時間依語音論邵族的族屬(炒冷飯),然後用cd 放了兩三首邵族的歌,就收場了,謝謝各位。口述報告內容完全不討論歌的內涵、意義、傳承、曲調、節奏、章法。「廣告期間」說是人類學、音樂學的結合,結果只做了一些疏鬆表面的翻譯。



Saturday, May 13, 2006

臺灣有個現象我實在無法接受。舉個例吧。 兩三年前有一位老先生,輕微老人癡呆多年,家人沒照顧好,有一天在羅斯福路騎摩托車,歪歪斜斜的,突然倒下去,後方來車來不及煞車,壓過去了,年邁無照駕駛就這樣騎車歸西去了,結果後面倒楣司機還要賠失職家屬十幾萬,叫做「道義上的責任」。出錢司機寬宏大量沒話說,可是我問你,道與義在哪裡?直接說「倒楣勒索」好了。



Friday, May 12, 2006

I was probably the only person to register for the draft at the US Embassy in Saigon during the Viet Nam war.

I didn't intend to secure this honor, it just happened. I was in Saigon on my 18th birthday and you had to register for the draft when you turned 18, and the Embassy was the place to do it. There was a war going on, you weren't supposed to be in Viet Nam if you were an American minor, unless you had a uniform and a gun, in which case you didn't need to register for the draft. But there I was, no uniform, no gun. Visa? Let's not get into the details, I did some fancy footwork with my visa application and when it was time to apply for an exit visa, explained to the authorities that I had lost all my papers to cowboys, a reasonable explanation they accepted without question. Cowboys were what young robbers were called, because they rode scooters and shot like cowboys on a spree.

So as a law-abiding citizen (let's not talk about that visa, ok?) I was duty bound to register for the draft. The people at the bakery took me to a Chinese restaurant for a memorable lunch. Oh those mushrooms! Oh five bowls of rice! They neglected to tell me they had made me a cake, so I ate more than my full at lunch, only to be presented with this cake the memory of which still makes me drool, so I packed away a good portion of that. I could barely waddle when I stood up from the table.

Off to the Embassy, then, a horrid place we disliked, avoided, maligned, and distrusted. I showed my passport to the Marine Guard and was allowed in through the barricades and guns. I explained my mission to the clerk in American Services, a middle aged lady with a sprayed hairdo and tight pants over a thick behind, and you could tell she had excelled in her Foreign Service training in Advanced Superciliousness and Unpleasantry. She directed me to the Consul's office. The Consul! A few months later he broke his leg in a traffic accident and all the American contract workers in Viet Nam went out and got drunk in celebration, and most of the Koreans.

I entered his office, showed him my passport, and announced that as a good law-abiding American citizen, I was presenting myself to him to register for the draft, as it was my 18th birthday. He actually was civil to me. It was either an off day, or the novelty of the situation diluted the acid. He said, "Oh goody, nobody's ever done this before. We should have the forms, we are required by law to have the forms even if nobody uses them, but I have no idea where they are." He searched through his file cabinets and procured the forms we needed. "I've never done this before," he confided.

"Neither have I," said I, returning his confidence. In retrospect, I realize he was being very diplomatic in not asking me just what I was doing in country. My only recourse would have been to wave my Tri 9 Pizza Company ID at him.

He made his way through the form. The solemn ceremony of Swearing the Oath was not quite solemn. He didn't even lift his head from the form. I flipped up my right palm and swore that … I forget what I swore. All of the above is true and factual and I am eager to go out and die for my country, something like that.

When we finished, Consul smiled (I thought Foreign Service officers weren't allowed to do that)(I later reported to Frank and Chuck that Consul didn't really have fangs OR a forked tongue, but they didn't believe me) and said, "Since you're overseas, I doubt that they'll draft you, and if they do, they'll probably send you to Peoria or Indianapolis." I would have preferred Hue or Can Tho, but they never did bother to draft me anyway.

So that is the true, genuine, authentic, bona fide story of how I registered for the draft at the US Embassy in Saigon. All true except the part about losing my papers to cowboys.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lately I have been reading Chang and Halliday's Mao: the Unknown Story, a horrible book. They back everything up with ample evidence, so I have no reason to doubt what they say. Even if only one per cent were true, Mao would still be a monster. (If you like, please read my review of the book on

I say it is a horrible book not because I distrust it, but because of the content, the evil life of Chairman Mao. This has brought to mind a lot of stories I have heard over the years, which I have been writing down. I am posting some here just so there is a record.

Around 1965, a Chinese family in Indonesia, the Fans, wanted their son to get higher education. In the 1960s, everybody was sure that Taiwan was doomed; Mao was prepared to bring death and destruction to this island. Instead of sending their son to Taiwan, they sent him to mainland China. He got there shortly before the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, which convulsed his school. He was pressured to join one of the Red Guard factions. He chose the wrong one, and after desperate fighting, most of the students in his faction were killed or sent to prison. In prison he was tortured by the victorious Red Guards. I have mercifully forgotten the details, but he still has the scars. They strung him up so he stood on tiptoe for a week. Finally, the torture was ended and he was put in a cell with an old man. Coming from a good family, Fan was very respectful of age, and treated the old man like his own father. The old man was sick and broken, but Fan nursed him back to health. When the old man was stronger, he told Fan that he had been a highly placed official with close ties to Teng Hsiaoping / Deng Xiaoping, and that the Cultural Revolution was designed to purge anyone with any power.

After a period of time, Fan was dragged off to the Chinese Gulag, which was called勞改're-education.' The old man told him, "Without your help, I would have died in this prison cell. I will remember." Cold comfort for Fan. He was put into the fields to do slave labor. He doesn't know where he was, probably somewhere in 新疆Hsinkiang/Xinjiang, and he doesn't even know how long he labored there. Maybe several years.

One day a car came to the camp, always an ominous sign. Everybody stopped working and stood in dread. A cadre got out of the car and called out Fan's name; Fan dropped senseless in a heap, because when they did that, they were taking you away to shoot you.

Fan was placed in the car and driven away. The cadre said only, "I have an envelope for you." 我有一封信要給你

Fan opened the envelope. Inside were travel documents and a one hundred Hong Kong dollar bill. There was no note, not even Fan's name written on the envelope, but Fan understood. Evidently the old man had weathered prison and been rehabilitated when Teng Hsiaoping regained power, and he had not forgotten that he owed his life to Fan.

Fan made his way to Hong Kong and returned to his family, which had long since given him up for dead.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Certainly I am not the only person to remark on how quickly the Taliban fell after they destroyed the buddhas at Bamiyan. I'm not claiming a cause-and-effect relationship. But still~~

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

When poor little Bengax died last year, Tlahuy and Yumin were morose. Tlahuy and Bengax were born in the same litter. The only time they were apart was the time a typhoon spooked Bengax and she ran away for a few days. They were always together. They even sat and lay down at the same angle.

When Yumin came, Tlahuy and Bengax picked on him fiercely. Once their positions were established, Tlahuy was more aloof. Bengax would act crazy with Yumin, but she was sometimes very mean to him. Yumin adored Bengax.

When Bengax died, there was nobody to lie outside with Tlahuy, as pesky Yumin is always off somewhere into mischief. There was nobody to frolic madly with Yumin, because Tlahuy is really too dignified for that.

I decided we needed another little girl, and I decided on a Taiwan Dog 臺灣土狗. Tlahuy and Bengax are 1/8 Taiwan Dog, and I figured the loyalty of the breed would keep her close to Tlahuy, but she would be frisky enough for Yumin.

Chi's purebred TD had puppies on March 20. I originally hoped for a striped pup, but the only striped one in the litter was a male, and I hoped for a female. However, two of the pups were grey, which is extremely rare. One was a girl, so I asked for her. Now she is showing stripes; perhaps like a Dalmatian's spots, these don't always show up immediately. So it looks like I'll get my striped dog after all.

She arrived this morning. Her name is Byajing, moon in Tayal, because Bengax means star. I was a bit worried that the boys would be rough, but they are both treating her like a little princess. I think they are both in love with her. After we all got to know each other, I put Byajing in the bathroom, and she promptly fell asleep. Tlahuy and Yumin waited outside the front door like boys waiting for an actress to appear.

I have posted more photos at

Monday, May 08, 2006

This is a lovely season in Wulai: the bamboo is shooting. If you see a shoot that doesn't seem large enough to eat, why, just wait a bit; the other day I passed up a shoot that was almost waist high, and the next day it was taller than I. When I am ready to make lunch, out the back door I go, and after a leisurely five minute stroll return with an armful of bamboo shoots. I boil water as I peel them. They could be fresher only if I had the water boiling when I came in the door.

Part of the pleasure is the deliciously fresh shoots; the other part is informing people, especially those abroad, of how fresh they are, and oh that's true, you can get only canned shoots in the US, right? How sad. And not even canned shoots in the UK, right? Oh, you must miss the bamboo shoots in Taiwan! Mmm, these are so fresh, right out of the ground and taste so good, yum yum, straight from the ground to the pot.

Those I can't irritate by email, I use my blog to reach.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Exquisite: the parrot flower from Thailand. Very rare.
…. 看起來很好吃…..
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Then not doing as that person does is the most effective form of revenge.

Saturday, May 06, 2006




Friday, May 05, 2006

Mr 鄒/Tsou was born in central China, I forget just where. During WWII, he fought with the KMT against the Japanese. After the war, they fought against the communists, but were forced back.

Through all the fighting, he had been inseparable from a childhood friend from his village. They held together through thick and thin.

Finally, they had to decide. Tsou wanted to follow Chiang Kai Shek to Taiwan. His friend said, "Taiwan is so small, what will you eat there?” The friend stayed, and Tsou came to Taiwan. Eventually he left the army, got married, and raised three beautiful daughters.

After Mao died, tensions loosened, and return to mainland China was possible for the first time in decades. Tsou went to his hometown, and found his old friend. When the friend saw Tsou, he took Tsou's hand and cried and cried and cried. All he could say was, "You have no idea how we suffered.”

Finally they composed themselves enough to talk. He had bad news for Tsou. Because Tsou had gone to Taiwan, it was assumed that he must come from a rich background; in backcountry China, 'rich' might mean having a jade bracelet passed down for generations. The communists forced Tsou's family to turn over their gold, but they had none. The cadres accused them of hiding gold, so their home was torn down, but no gold was found. The family was accused of burying gold, so the whole house plot was dug up to a depth of a meter, in search of gold, but none was found.

More bad news: Tsou's father had survived for years by eating bark, but died in the early 1960s. The communists were starving all of the peasants, and especially those with any ties to the KMT. Tsou's entire family starved to death, as did his friend's. His friend was the sole survivor of either family, and he survived for over ten years on bark, wild grasses, insects, and dirt.

Thursday, May 04, 2006







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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This morning I saw a scene that dates back thousands and thousands of years.

The bamboo shoots are in season. Taz'i, Lmuy, and Tenuy came to pluck the shoots, and brought along Lmuy's granddaughter, about two. I went out to chat. The adults were off in the jungle on the slopes, and had left the granddaughter sitting on a sack on the path, out of mischief, out of danger. The adults told her to stay put, and kept talking to her so she wouldn't worry or bolt. The clothing is different, but this is a scene that has been played innumerable times by our ancestors over millennia.

As I was thinking these deep thoughts, Yumin raced up the path towards some unknowable object. As he passed the little girl, almost without breaking his stride, Yumin reached over and licked her face, and continued charging uphill.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

People ask what keeps me in Taiwan.

Once long ago I was on a bus in a heavy rainstorm. There were three thuggish young construction workers wearing hard hats, one sitting, two standing. An old man, obviously a retired soldier, got on the bus. The sitting thug got up and gave him his seat. The rain was so hard that the roof started leaking, and as luck would have it, it was leaking on the old man's bald head. One of the thugs took off his hard hat and used it to catch the raindrops. No ballet or opera could have been more beautiful.

This evening on the subway home, at the CKS Memorial, a lady got on with two little girls. A teenage boy got up to give them his seat, but the lady would not sit, because an old man had gotten on at the same stop, and he was standing. They wrangled, the old man insisting he could stand. In a moment, a man yielded his seat so they could all sit down. I would rather see that than the Mona Lisa.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Anybody reading these words on a computer screen probably lives in a glut of consumer products. It is hard for us today to notice how many things we have around us; this makes it hard for us to realize how easily things come to us.

Magazines and newspapers bombard us with photographs from around the world. In an agricultural society, when travel was laborious and all effort was dedicated to getting enough to eat, the only pictures people might see throughout their entire lifetimes might have been murals in temples or churches.

In hunting gathering societies, they may have never seen pictures beyond cave or cliff paintings, body paintings, or decorations on tools, and those were few.

I have a good sized collection of CDs, mostly Baroque. If I wish to hear Telemann's recorder duets, I have two versions, Pehrsson + Laurin or Petri + Selin. I can listen to Casals play Bach's unaccompanied cello suites, Veracini, Barsanti, Bigaglia, flutes, lutes, or toots. Right now I am listening to Bruggen playing Corelli's La Follia on the recorder for the umpteenth time. Someone a hundred years ago might have been able to hear that only once in a lifetime, and someone five hundred years ago never had a chance to hear it at all, because Corelli hadn't been born five hundred years ago. Sorry, couldn't resist that one.

If I tire of Corelli, I can listen to Egyptian villagers singing work songs, the Beatles, Ewan McColl singing shanties, or Paiwan nose flute. Such a wide range of listening was unavailable to our forebears. With the shanties, some people might not think that is such a bad thing. But my point is, these are available.

I couldn't find Chang's biography of Mao in the bookstores, so I ordered it from Amazon. I shudder every time I remember trying to buy English language books in Taiwan twenty years ago. English and American books were very high priced, and limited in content to best sellers and textbooks. If you wanted to order, first you had to know the publisher, find the address, write for a catalogue, wait to see if they sent it to you, choose your book, go to the bank for a US dollar cashier's check (a struggle in itself), send that off, and wait and wait. Four months was good time.

Even still, you could get books. I forget who it was, but there was one determinted scholar around the sixth century who wished to study 漢書\The Book of the Han. Never mind the book, he couldn't afford paper, so he got a job as a gatekeeper\閽人 for an influential personage. There he collected guests’ calling cards\名刺, which in those days were written on sheets of red paper. He used the other side to copy out the Han. My copy of the Han comes to 4,300 pages in five volumes, so the Influential Personage must have had a lot of company, because the scholar succeeded in copying out the entire Han on the back of calling cards, whereupon he commenced to study it.

In the Sung dynasty, Su Shih (蘇軾 1037-1101) wrote, "I once met an old Confucian master who said that in his youth he wished to find Historical Records and The Book of the Han, but they were unavailable. Fortunately he found them, so he copied them out by hand. He recited them by day and by night, fearing only that he was too slow." 李氏山房藏書記: 余猶及見老儒先生自言其少時欲求史記漢書而不可得幸而得之皆手自書日夜誦讀唯恐不及。 Books were hard to come by.

One of my teachers told of how, in the days before Xeroxes, he wished to study 劉大焦's History of the Development of Chinese Literature\中國文學發達史. He managed to borrow a copy, and he transcribed the whole thing by hand. My teacher held his hands up to show a stack of notebooks full of his transcription. "Then two months after I finished, Chung Hwa Book Company published the thing." He threw his hands up in an elegant gesture of frustration. I have a Chung Hwa version: 1199 pages. Teacher did lots of copying.