Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Balahu took us to 知本 a Puyuma aborigine village a dozen kilometers down the coast to visit 一命 Iming, a woodcarver who produces magnificent artwork, furniture, and knife scabbards. Because Taiwan’s climate is so humid, leather rots, so Aborigines make scabbards out of wood. My around-the-house 金門砲彈殼刀 Quemoy-bombardment-artillery-shell knife broke when it slipped loose and fell three storeys and landed on a rock while I was climbing some scaffolding, so I need a new everyday knife, and wondered if Iming could make me one. He designs blades which a blacksmith forges, and Iming completes the handle and scabbard.
While we were discussing details, I mentioned that beautiful piece of driftwood. Iming was interested. I described as best I could where I saw it, and how big it was. I was a bit surprised, but not astonished, when Iming then described the log in detail. Hmmmm….
Sunday, April 26, 2009
好像是蘇府千歲爺出巡吧。I was walking on a walkway parallel to the street a Daoist religious procession was passing on. I shot the first video through a building that is being rebuilt. You can see how far away I was. When the truck with the drums passed, the ground under my feet was shaking.
Another group in the procession had the largest drum I have seen in my life.
You can't see from this video, but the costumed marchers are heavily tattooed: in Taiwan, a sure sign of gang membership.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
A group of women from the Amis 阿美 tribe was dancing there. The dance was nice, but the music was atrocious. ~~ they were shooting an MTV film for karaoke. I bet you never knew there were MTV films in Amis, did you? You can learn so much by reading this blog!
A truck drove by, and all the men in it started singing along with the music at the top of their lungs. Apparently they were from the same tribe.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The mountain you see in the distance in the final moments is Dulan, where Balahu and Rabbit run their coffee shop.
Don't go to Carp Mountain! The karaoke is deadly!!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
These days, you see a lot of slogans and hear a lot of talk about changing the world, how you can transform the world. These are common, I might add, in English language slogans and talk. The realization that yes, we can change the world, the world can be improved, is highly laudable. But what interests me is the background. The English culture is rooted strongly in the Judeo-Christian tradition that god created the world and the world is immutable. Remember what trouble Darwin got into with the idea that species change? Charles Lyell's observations that the earth changes were so revolutionary that almost a century later when Alfred Wegener proposed that continents drift and the earth changes, academia pounced and mercilessly trounced him.
But in the East, change is hardly news. Buddhism teaches us 緣起性空 how conditions are in flux. 無常, impermanence, is a central idea of Chinese thought, especially evidenced in the Confucian 易 I Ching, Book of Change. In Chinese thought, it would be very peculiar indeed if you did not change the world. The change of the world is a changeless fact:易者不易也。Each of us is part of the world. Every act, every thought, everything we do changes the world as the world changes.
Think on that. It's a heavy responsibility and a great challenge. 任重道遠。勉之！
Monday, April 20, 2009
No misprint: twenty eight years without a bath. Yuck!!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
"That's true," Shrake said, pointing the putter at Del. "But you're not qualified to say it. You have to play it for twenty years before you can fully appreciate how exquisitely stupid it is."
~John Sandford, Phantom Prey
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I have no idea what that was all about.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
photo, 民國六十一年,新生南路一段 Taipei, 1972
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
從前與一位學生練習會話。我問，How long have you been married?
他： I have been married for ten years.
我： How old is your son?
他： My son is eleven years old.
我： Okay, let's try again. How long have you been married?
他： I have been married for ten years.
我： Good. Where did you get married?
他： I got married in a hotel.
停！這，這，人家一定會誤會！西方人也許在飯店舉行reception(酒席)，可是結婚典禮不在飯店舉行。後來我教他說，I got married in a public ceremony比較安全。
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Wouldn't you know it! This morning, a bird ~ I suspect a 紅嘴黑鵯 bulbul ~ was imitating a car alarm: whoop whoop whoop squawk squawk! It did this without break for ten minutes. I thought, Hey, I ought to record this and post it on my blog! So as soon as I picked up my camera, the bird stopped. I put down my camera and it started again. I snuck out on the balcony to try again, closer, and the bird flew away. A few minutes later I heard whoop whoop whoop squawk squawk! from the bamboo slope, but it was too far away to record.
Which is why you are not listening to a great recording of a bulbul imitating a car alarm. You'll just have to take my word for it. But then, I'm sure you've heard car alarms anyway. Just not with feathers, perched high in a treetop.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Good choice, if you ask me. Where can you find such good food, nice people, and beautiful scenery as in Taiwan? You can't beat Taipei’s subway. You want superior tea, pottery, woodwork, then visit Taiwan. Come to beautiful Wulai, just an hour outside of Taipei, a world away. Sure, the sex industry can't compete with Thailand's, but surely that’s not all people travel for. I hope.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
As a Buddhist, I have never been very enthusiastic about 慈濟 the Tzu Chi Foundation: 其實，當年花蓮慈濟醫院剛開幕時，英文簡介是我寫的，可是我修淨土，對我來說，慈濟重福輕慧，太入世：花大筆錢建造捐款人紀念館，捐多少錢題名，再多一些就有照片，捐很多就立像…不著相，還立像！
Be that as it may, recently we accompanied a patient to the new Tzu Chi Hospital in 新店 on the southern edge of Taipei. The grounds are tastefully laid out with ponds, plants, and plenty of places to sit and relax. The hospital itself is gigantic. First you enter a massive lobby where volunteers rush to lead you to Registration, where the patient is quickly registered, with no fuss, no red tape, maximum speed, maximum politeness. Then another volunteer escorts you to your clinic, if you don’t know the way. On the way in, we passed an airy, open space where, on a small stage, a lady was softly playing a 箏/cheng. It was irresistible and we stopped, along with others, to enjoy the beautiful, soothing music.
Patients are not addressed as Mister, Mrs, or Ms, but rather 大德, a respectful Buddhist title meaning Great Virtue. All are treated with care and esteem. I realized how used I have become to being treated like a hunk of meat in most hospitals. Here in Tzu Chi all are treated as human beings. Wow.
For all this, a twenty minute consultation in a quiet room with a doctor and a nurse, plus one week’s medicine, the total charge was NT$220, which works out to US$6.50 (that’s six dollars and fifty cents, not six hundred fifty dollars.) The rest is picked up by Tzu Chi and 健保 Taiwan’s superb national health service.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Enraptured girl, watching sunset with boyfriend: I just love it when the sun sinks into the sea like this! But I have a question...
Boy: Huh? What?
Girl, turning serious: Why doesn't the sea boil?
via Overheard at the Beach, Apr 8, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
According to Larry West on about.com,
Plastic bags that get buried in landfills may take up to 1,000 years to break down.
Experts estimate that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed and discarded annually worldwide—more than a million per minute.
According to various estimates, Taiwan consumes 20 billion plastic bags annually (900 per person), Japan consumes 300 billion bags each year (300 per person), and Australia consumes 6.9 billion plastic bags annually (326 per person).(真丟臉!!)
Plastic bags aren’t biodegradable. They actually go through a process called photodegradation—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate both soil and water, and end up entering the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them.