Tuesday, March 30, 2010
the gentle giant
I approached a small group of Tsou houses. A huge white dog came out to greet me.
"He doesn't bite," the lady assured me.
"He doesn't have to, all he has to do is stand up and he scares people to death."
Monday, March 29, 2010
The Austronesian language family stretches from Hawaii and Easter Island in the East, through Polynesia, New Zealand, and Indonesia, all the way across to Madagascar. The family originates in the aboriginal languages of Taiwan. Of these, Tayal, Saisyat, and Tsou (Cou) are probably the earliest, and among the oldest living languages in the world. If you count from Beowulf, English dates back about 1600 years; Russian, French, and Spanish probably about 1000 years; Chinese probably about 3,500 years. Tayal and Tsou are roughly 6,000 years old.
In Pnguu, a Tsou village in the mountains of central Taiwan, I asked a 90 year old lady to recite 1 through 10 for me. I don't know much about the language, but they seem to have different numbers for counting different things. This is the basic set.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Yesterday when I first saw this, one end was concealed by a leaf, so I thought it was a section of vine. It’s not twenty centimeters long, and no thicker than an average pencil. Then I wondered if it might be a snake, so I lifted the leaf with a small piece of bamboo, and the snake started moving into the grass.
I thought it might be a baby Taiwan Green Snake (Cyclophiops major), but it has marks on the back of its neck. Can anybody can identify this?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
As I say, I had never seen a qimbahu so aggressive. It must have struck at me six times. In post game analysis, Sabiy and I concluded that the snake was as surprised to see me as I was to see it. There it was, enjoying a nice slither across the concrete stairs, when suddenly this huge monster rushes up and almost stomps on it. No wonder it was upset! But notice that even though it had a clear shot at Byajing, and the qimbahu is lightning fast, it did not bite her.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Very tall boy: You don't need to diet, you need to grow taller.
Very short girl: I would if I could.
VTB: Do you want to go to the concert?
VSG: I don't go to concerts.
VTB: Why not?
VSG: I can never see anything.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
According to Wikipedia, "The Guinness Book of World Records lists Telemann as the most prolific composer of all time with more than 800 credited works. More recent studies, for example the thematic catalogues of his works published in the 1980s and 1990s, have shown that Telemann actually wrote over 3,000 compositions, many of which are now lost."
If you haven't started your commemoration yet, please begin with these three pieces:
Friday, March 12, 2010
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Mr Delay, do you also believe that girls get raped because they ask for it? and that all those nasty black people wanted to get lynched?
Let Delay spend some time trying to get by on unemployment benefits and see how much he savors the experience.
Jane Fonda taught me this: it is immoral to advocate a form of government that you would not be willing to live under as an average citizen. Now Delay has taught me to expand that: it is immoral to advocate a policy that you would not be willing to live by as an average citizen.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Yesterday I wrote that there was no harm done by the morning's 6.4 earthquake down south. I wrote that an hour after the quake; later there were reports of some damage and injuries, but overall, we got off very lightly.
Not all earthquake injuries go reported. About twenty years ago, I had a friend called Banana. She was deathly afraid of earthquakes. In one mild quake, she was responsible for the only earthquake related injury in Taiwan, and it never got reported until now. When the building started to shake, she shoved her ten year old daughter under the dining room table with such force and anxiety that she rammed her daughter's head into the leg of the table. No damage from the earthquake, just her daughter rolling on the floor clutching her forehead and screaming bloody murder.
After that, her three children drew the line. They said they would take their chances with earthquakes, but they told Banana to leave them alone and fend for herself.
From then on, whenever there was a tremor, the kids would gather around to laugh at Banana huddling underneath the dining room table.
You know what? After a while, they cured her of her phobia. She figured getting squashed by falling debris was preferable to getting jeered at by her kids.
And they were right, too. In an earthquake, you should never take refuge under a table or car. Lie next to it, and let it take the weight of whatever is falling.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
The earthquake didn't hurt. What hurt was a sentence the article written by Reuters:
One of Taiwan's worst-recorded quakes occurred in September 1999.
Please! Do you mean it was one of the worst quakes ever recorded, or that it was the most poorly recorded quake?