Friday, July 23, 2010


Please remember to take your belongings when you leave.


Please remember to take your blongs when you live.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


We hope you have a pleasant trip.


We hope you have a peasant trio.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

My mother was born in 1918, when Woodrow Wilson was President. She survived the Influenza Epidemic, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, she studied painting under Grant Wood (American Gothic), drew maps for the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff during WWII, drafted for CalTech Geology when the moonrocks were brought back by Apollo 11, managed a pizza company in Saigon during the Viet Nam War and then worked in a concrete boat company, managed a Taekwondo studio in Hawaii, and for many years edited at Nguoi Viet. She was a woman who held firmly to morality, and right and wrong.

She died peacefully in her sleep sometime during the morning of July 8.

I won't be posting on this blog for a week or two.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Valor is required to attempt to learn numbers in the Tsou language. Okay, let's start, 1 is coni, right? Yes, unless you're saying 1 person, then it's cihi; one (piece) is cini, one (year) is nso, one (time) is nusu, and one (night) I think is ki, but I could very well be wrong. On all of this. You get the idea, though. Let's not even talk about the numbers for a person's age.

Here is the basic set, as taught to me by Ba'i, and validated by others, with wry smiles on their faces: 1 coni, 2 yuso, 3 tuyu, 4 suptu, 5 eimo, 6 namu, 7 pitu, 8 voju, 9 sio, 10 masku.

Tsou, Tayal, and Saisiat (all Taiwan aborigine languages) are the earliest Austronesian languages, and some of the most ancient languages on earth. Here is how we count in Tayal, in the Squliq dialect of Wulai.

1 qutux, 2 sazing, 3 ciwan (or cuqan), 4 bayat, 5 magan, 6 tzyu, 7 pitu, 8 spat, 9 qeru, 10 mbu. You can see that they are totally different.

Totally different? Notice that 7. Tsou pitu is pronounced sort of like the English words BE-do, and Tayal pitu is pronounced be-DO, but you can see the resemblance.

Now the plot thickens (dramatic music, please). I was reading about another Austronesian language, Kapampangan, spoken by a couple million people in the Philippines. Here are their numbers: 1 metung (isa), 2 adua, 3 atlu, 4 apat, 5 lima, 6 anam, 7 pitu, 8 walu, 9 siyam, 10 apulu.

Does something stand out? Look at that 7. Pitu. How about that!

What is it with Austronesian languages and 7? I have no idea, yet. However, time will prove that it was the result of transmission by ancient Egyptians flying on spaceships from Sirius. Mark my words.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Teacher to class: The Iliad tells the story of how the Greeks attacked toy. I mean, how the geeks attract Troy. I mean, how the Greeks attract toy… can I just skip it?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Overheard on 開封街


Twenty something office worker: Every time I have to speak English, I just forget everything.

Monday, July 05, 2010

How do you keep your shoes dry when you ride your motorcycle on a rainy day? Why, pack them in a plastic bag, as did this young man I photographed in Tainan a couple months ago.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Tayal society places great importance on a person's position, be it high or low, and that person's dignity.

Some years ago, a Tayal husband and wife got drunk and were quarreling on a street in Takulan (Chuolan, Miaoli). A crowd gathered. The husband had to assert his dignity, so he raised his fist and roared at his wife, "If this hand of mine strikes, 200,000 eyes are watching!" His wife cowered. The husband lowered his fist and said to her very gently, "Dear, are you all right?"