Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Traditionally, women of the Tsou (Cou) tribe in central Taiwan wear blue blouses. This is because eons ago, when the waters of the great flood receded, the Tsou were left without houses or clothes, and they were really cold. The bisu (sibekay in Tayal, Blue Magpie in English) was originally all blue. It took pity on the freezing people, so it went and brought them fire. From then on, its beak has been fiery red, its head scorched black, and only its body blue. To commemorate this great deed, Tsou women have worn blue blouses ever since.

told by Apu’u Peongsi/汪朝麗

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We had some real excitement this morning: clearly defined shadows! It was still raining, but some sunlight made its way through the clouds.
By afternoon, it had stopped raining, and by nightfall, we could see Orion, the first stars we have seen for weeks.
Such are the joys of living in the jungle.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It’s been raining so much that I saw a frog carrying an umbrella.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Long, long ago, when the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of the heavens were opened, the waters prevailed so mightily that all the high mountains were covered with water, all except the highest peaks, the home of the Bunun tribe, and on the highest Patungkuonʉ, fire burned brightly. The Bunun huddled cold and miserable, and when the mighty winds blew, the Bunun were even colder and more miserable. They needed the fire that burned so brightly, but how could they cross the mighty waters?
The animals should have let well enough alone, but, apparently forgetting that the Bunun are avid hunters, decided to help the poor, shivering people.
The first was a frog, which jumped into the water and swam and swam all the way to Patungkuonʉ, fetched fire, and hey! wow! ouch! that's hot! Before the frog could return to the Bunun with its precious gift of fire, it had been scalded and scorched and bumps and lumps rose all over its fine skin, making it the world's first toad. Even to this day, the Bunun consider the toad to be their friend and helper.
The animals looked next to the white crested Chinese bulbul. The bulbul said, "I would really like to help, but don't you see my head, covered with white feathers? I am too old to go, so don't look at me!" Even to this day, the Bunun chase the bulbul away and throw things at it.
Finally, a little bird piped up and said, "I'll go get the fire!" It flew all the way to Patungkuonu and captured some fire in its beak, and flew all the way back. But by the time it reached the Bunun, its beak was stained bright red by the fire, and its whole body was scorched black. This was the first Black Bulbul. Even to this day, the Bunun respect the Black Bulbul as their benefactor.

told by 巴代 Badai, November 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Thursday, December 15, 2011

I have taken a giant step forward in my determined effort to make life difficult for myself: I have bought a feather file.
What? you may ask, Is this a new documenting program for ornithologists?
No, not that kind of file, I refer to a long, narrow metal tool with a series of ridges for reducing or smoothing surfaces of metal or wood (okay, I peeked into the dictionary for that one).
Now you ask, Why do you want to file feathers?
No, no, a feather file is a file specifically designed for sharpening saws.
So why do you need to sharpen saws?
Because people nowadays just buy a new saw when the old one gets dull. A new folding saw costs about NT$100, and a big one, like my log saw, costs NT$340, so with prices so low, people just buy new saws rather than get the old ones sharpened. Since the saw sharpeners are out of business, I do it myself. The feather file cost NT$350, so it very quickly paid for itself.
Why bother? Who saws so much?
Last winter we bought a wood burning water heater. When we don't have time, we use the propane gas water heater, but when I have time to make the fire, we prefer the wood burning water heater. The water is a lot nicer. You can feel the difference.
So why not use a chain saw?
A chain saw is noisy, smelly, and uses gasoline. I try to depend on myself when I don't have to use machines.
Modern life is so convenient that convenience has become a goal in itself. We forget what we are losing.
When you sharpen a saw, you learn about the saw. Otherwise, tools are just things we use without paying much attention to them.
When you saw by hand, you spend time with the wood and your thoughts. A chain saw is quicker, but it's so convenient that you have to go to a gym to get any exercise, and let me tell you, sawing wood is exercise.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If it keeps raining, even the water is going to get moldy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I swear, Yumin must have pockets in his mouth. It has been raining steadily, so the wounds from his recent adventure with the snare have been healing too slowly. Denise the Vet gave us some m3dcn3 (can't say that word out loud!) to give Yumin, but of course Yumin won't cooperate with that! So we break up a doggie treat, and with every pill, stuff a little bit of treat into his mouth. First down the hatch is the capsule, chew chew chew! Swallow! Then the blue pill, chew chew chew! Swallow! Then the third pill, chew chew chew! Swallow! Then very casually, Yumin spits out the capsule, whole and unscathed….

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor plus 70 years. My mother told me that when they heard the news, in Colorado, Hawaii seemed so far away that it was like another world. She had never thought that anything happening so far away could have anything to do with her. The Japanese taught her different.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

今天下午花了幾個小時鋸薪劈柴,完成時很舒服。可是我穿的是寬鬆、舒適的衣服,不是名牌,不緊身,不貴、色彩不起眼;我用的器具都是手動的,不用電,而且更糟糕的是,沒有名牌也不貴(鋸子三百四,四公斤大斧一千五);身邊沒有聒噪刺耳的音樂、閃爍奪目的燈光,只有鳥鳴狗吠松鼠叫,僅見滲透雲層的陽光;身邊沒有教練、沒有機器測我的心跳、肉跳、呼吸率、膽固醇、尿酸、體溫、指甲厚度、 腳板硬度、骨質、髮長、連視力也沒有一個儀器隨時幫我測,可能最丟臉的是(寫得我很尷尬!)我沒有付出一毛錢的會員費(!)!!
I have a perturbing question.
This afternoon I spent several hours sawing and chopping firewood. I felt great when I finished. But I was wearing loose, comfortable clothing, nothing expensive, no famous brands, nothing tight fitting, no flashy colors; my tools are manual, not electric, and they aren't very expensive (NT$340 for the saw, NT$1500 for the four kilogram ax); there wasn't any loud, pounding music playing, or flashing, vexing lights, only birds, dogs, squirrels, and wind were audible, and the only light came from the sun, through the clouds; I was outdoors in fresh air, not in a closed, air conditioned room; I didn't drink any scientifically researched beverages; I didn't have a trainer watching over me; no electronic instruments monitored my pulse, breathing, capillary action, cholesterol, or endocrine system; and what's worst, although I barely dare to confess this in public, I didn't pay anything for this, I didn't join a club, I didn't fork out any hefty membership fees. So the distressing question is, under such unfavorable circumstances, did I exercise?

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Recently on this blog -(here)- I mentioned that, during the Occupation, the Japanese banned Tayal weaving. The art was almost lost, and few pieces of authentic weaving survived. When Ciwas Ali, a Tayal, first ran for the Legislature, she wanted to wear Tayal clothing, but the only traditional woven piece she could find was an old bed sheet, so she fixed that up and wore it.

When she appeared on television, a yaki (grandmother) was shocked and told her family, "Quick, turn off the television!" She thought that if the television was turned off, nobody would be able to see the mortifying scene.

told by Yuma Taru

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Recently we went to a talk by the Tayal poet Walis Nokan / 瓦歷斯‧諾幹. One of the many noteworthy parts of the talk was that he mentioned that the Tayal tribe has also been called the Atayal. Walis stumbled on the pronunciation; it is obviously an unfamiliar word. The reason this is noteworthy is that, in my decades of experience with the Tayal, this is only the second time I have actually heard a member of the tribe say "Atayal," but this is the name by which outsiders call the tribe.

The only other time I have heard an aborigine use the name Atayal was about ten years ago, when I asked someone if she had ever heard the name, and she said yes, she recalled hearing someone say Atayal, but she forgot who. But she was a Sediq; in those days Sediq were still considered Tayal, but have since split away.

I have asked many Tayal about this other name, and many have never even heard of the name Atayal ~~ I guess they should pay more attention to what the learned authorities have to say!

Due to the mysterious workings of official orthography, "Tayal" is actually pronounced dah-YEN, so now some people prefer to use Dayan, so we don't sound like bathroom tiles or something. For that matter, I suggest 達彥 for 泰雅.

Thursday, December 01, 2011



This evening before we started to cook dinner, I went to the back door to see if the dogs had finished their meal. When I opened the door, something fell on my head and right shoulder. I pulled back, and a little snake fell onto the floor::: inside the door. It wasn’t very long, only about two feet. It looked like a qimbahu, one of our poisonous neighbors, but I couldn’t tell for sure. It slipped in back of the washing machine, and I couldn’t get it out, so we had to call the fire department to help.

Two firemen came, wearing heavy, high boots, carrying a snake snatcher. They moved the washing machine and dryer out of the way, spotted the snake, and quick as a cricket, snatched the snake and put it in a cage. Many thanks!

I just love living in the mountains!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Saturday, November 26, 2011


I saw Yumin heading into the jungle yesterday morning. When we left at noon, he was nowhere to be seen. When we came back late at night, he wasn’t home. This morning he hadn’t returned yet, so when we came back at noon, we first went to Yayaw to look for him. I walked along a derelict road, calling and clapping. A rustle and a whimper in the undergrowth led me to Yumin, caught by his right hind leg in a snare. Fortunately, it was nylon, not cable, so with a few days’ rest, he will be as good as new.
But do you think he has learned a lesson?
Fat chance!!
(notice how swollen his right hind foot is.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chao says this car looks like a pig wearing a suit.

This one simply looks like a pig.

oink, oink!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Wednesday, November 23, 2011





Monday, November 21, 2011






During the Japanese Occupation of Taiwan, the Japanese outlawed traditional Tayal weaving, because it was the qualification for getting a facial tattoo. When a young woman could weave cloth, she could get her face tattooed, and only then was she eligible to marry.

Not only did the Japanese outlaw weaving, but they also forbade the growing of nuka 紅苧麻 the ramie used in weaving. Instead, they forced the Tayal to grow 白苧麻 the kind of ramie used in making kimonos, but useless for Tayal weaving. (Tayal weaving was outlawed in about 1920; the Japanese Occupation ended in 1945, with WWII.)

In the 1970s, it was popular for Sediq (a closely related tribe) girls to weave mufflers for their boyfriends, the longer the better. I recall seeing weavers in Snuwil seated on the ground, weaving in the most traditional manner.

In the 1990s, Yuma Taru, a young Tayal from Miaoli, was determined to resurrect the ancient skill of weaving while there was still time. She learned how to weave from her yaki (grandmother), but they needed proper filament; also, her yaki wanted to teach her how to make the cord from nuka. With her husband, Baunay Watan, they set out in search of proper Tayal nuka.

After a long search, they finally found a patch cultivated by an 87 year old Tayal yaki (grandmother). Yaki told Yuma and Baunay, "I've been waiting for you for a long time." She had been unwilling to let the plant disappear, so year after year, she cultivated her nuka, in the hope that somebody would carry on the tradition. She gave Yuma the nuka, with the stipulation that she had to keep it growing, and to pass on the cultivation.

Yuma has been growing nuka ever since, and has become a world renowed weaver. She has a studio in which she weaves and trains the next generation of Tayal, so now this ancient art is prospering again.

Some stories have happy endings.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Friday, November 18, 2011

"Moose hunting season" ~~~ that's sort of ambiguous, when you think of it.
I'm rooting for the underdogs. Or, the undermoose.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mayo gave Yaya a sumptuous gift: a whole truck full of deer gucci*. No sooner had they spotted it than Yumin and Byajing, quick as two flashes, rushed over to roll around in it. Whooppeee.

(notice Yumin rolling gleefully on the right slope.)

*in Tayal, gucci means crap, feces.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Sunday, November 13, 2011

When I went out to the front porch a few nights ago, Tlahuy was lying on the top step, by some wood I have stacked and waiting to carve. Yumin came, looked down behind the wood, and started growling ferociously. This confused me, because when Yumin sees something that could be dangerous, like a feral dog, he barks the warning bark; when he sees a snake, he barks his snake bark; when he chases prey, he yips; when he sees a stranger, he howls. But he doesn't growl.

We were perplexed and cautious, but curious. After some more growling, dodging, and feinting, Yumin suddenly darted his head down,


came up

with a doggie treat in his mouth.

The doggie treat I had given to Tlahuy an hour or so before. Apparently it had fallen down behind the logs and Tlahuy gave up on trying to fish it out. So Beagle Yumin nabbed it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It had been raining for three days when I took this photo last week, but there was so little wind that the trunk of this tree was dry, except for the dark streak you see. That's water flowing down from the canopy of the tree.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Oh boy!等待已久的時刻終于來了!一○○年一一月一一日一一時一一分!

We’ve been waiting for it, and HERE IT IS! 11:11, 11/11/11!

How would you manage without all the most exciting posts this blog provides?

Thursday, November 10, 2011






Wednesday, November 09, 2011



The town of Blrngiau in central Taiwan is now known by its Chinese name, Tungshih/Dongshi, but it was originally a Tayal village.

Blrngiau is a Tayal word meaning 'the place with a lot of leopards,' referring to the native leopard cat, Prionailurus bengalensis chinensis. In days gone by, there were so many leopard cats that the Tayal had trouble raising chickens, because the leopard cats would eat them all. The Tayal moved elsewhere, and left Blrngiau to the leopard cats.

With a hearty laugh, Walis Nokan says, this is just a face saving story. The Tayal left because of pressure from the Hakka Chinese, but Walis says, the Tayal are proud warriors. They didn’t want to have to tell their children, "There were so many of those Hakka, we couldn't deal with that, so we left." Thus the story about the chicken-devouring leopard cats.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011



The Bunung are a tribe of Aborigines who live high in Taiwan's steep mountains. The Tayal poet Walis Nokan once asked how they find places to live that are safe from landslide. The Bunung examine how far stones roll from landslides, and figure out where they stop. Beyond that area is safe.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Dakis Nawi的遺孀Obing Tado(倭名高山初子,漢名高彩雲)後來扗廬山開一家碧華莊溫泉館維生。族人郭名正訪談,問及實況。操場起義時,Obing穿和服,勇士雖然只殺日本人,但情況婚混亂,誤殺了兩個漢人,看到和服先砍再問也不一定。


This year’s box office hit Seediq Balé (click here for a trailer) has renewed interest in the Wushe Incident (click here) and sparked interest in Taiwan's aboriginal cultures (click here for an earlier post on this blog about the movie.)(aww, come on, go ahead and click!)

Wushe is a town near the geographical center of Taiwan, where the Japanese had penetrated after finally breaking through the People Stop Gate (pass) mentioned in the previous post. The Japanese occupied the town, and established a government, police, a post office, and a school. At an athletic meet at the school on October 27, 1930, the Seediq aborigines, fed up with Japanese arrogance, insults, abuse, and exploitation, slaughtered over 130 Japanese. They spared all the Chinese, but two were killed by accident. The Japanese retaliated with the savagery they displayed throughout the Pacific theater, bombing and gassing the Seediq in the mountains. Over a thousand Seediq were killed in the immediate aftermath, and many more later.

(The Chinese population of Taiwan never gave the revolt any support in any form. The only outside support they got was from the owner of a local general store, 巫金墩 Wu Chintun, probably a member of the heavily sinicized 巴宰Pazeh tribe of 平埔族Pepo, lowland aborigines; he donated the contents of his store to the rebels, and spent a long time in Japanese prison as a result.)

Question of considerable discussion are, first, How planned or spontaneous was the revolt? Some say the Sediq revolted on the spur of the moment; others say it was carefully planned. Second, what role did Mona Rudo play in the revolt? He is the central character of the movie, but some aborigines say that the revolt was instigated by his sons, and Mona himself was in the mountains, taking over leadership only after the revolt started.

Practically the last survivor of the original massacre on the playground was Obing Tado, a nipponified Seediq who took the Japanese name of 高山初子/ Takayama Hatsuko; and later the Chinese name 高彩雲(19141996). Her husband was a nipponified Seediq named Dakis Nawi; Japanese name 花崗二郎Hanaoka Jiro, and served in the Japanese police force.

Dakis Pawan郭明正, a Seediq of my generation, knew Obing personally. (I used to go hiking in that area all the time in the early 1970s, and she ran a hot spring hostel called 碧華莊 so I must have seen her.) He asked her about the revolt (in her own language, of course), and asked whether Mona Rudo was on the scene.

When the revolt broke out, Obing was wearing a kimono, as was proper for the wife of a member of the Japanese policeman. She was terrified that she would be beheaded as a Japanese in the confusion, so she hid inside a large urn used for storing rice. You can bet she was listening to every sound with all her concentration. She very distinctly heard Mona Rudo running back and forth, shouting to the warriors. She knew Mona Rudo personally, and was very familiar with his voice, so she is positive that he was on the scene when the revolt took place.

Mona Rudo stands in the middle in this photo; on his side is Dakis Pawan's (郭明正) grandfather.

I have no idea why the last paragraph is on a white background, but I can't get rid of it. Bear with it.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

ngahi balay

扗泰雅語,talah tunux,紅髮,意為「外國人」;但于賽德語,指日本人,因為當年日本入侵臺灣,士兵冠帽飾紅色。



In Tayal, talah tunux, literally red (brown) head, means foreigner, Westerner: brown hair. But in Seediq, a closely related tribe and language, it means Japanese, because when the Japanese occupied Taiwan, their soldiers wore hats trimmed with red.

In 1902, the Japanese attempted to enter the mountain fastness of the Seediq tribe, but were stopped at the pass called People Stop Gate. The Seediq shot at the invaders with arrows and guns, and rained down tons of stones that had been prepared to repel any invaders. During a lull in the fighting, the Japanese quickly got out their spades and started digging foxholes as fast as they could. This totally perplexed the Seediq high above them, and a lively discussion broke out, trying to figure out what the Japanese were up to. The consensus was that the Japanese were hungry, so they were digging for yams. But the Seediq still couldn't figure out, "Nobody ever planted yams there, what do they expect to dig up?"

as told by Dakis Pawan 郭明正, 2011.10.21

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Today we went to an old building that used to be the Residence of the American Ambassador to the Republic of China; it is now used for cultural events, and our purpose was to attend an afternoon of lectures on the Tsou (Cou) tribe in central Taiwan. I will report on those later, but what surprised us was, when we entered the courtyard, perched on a camphor tree was a crested goshawk (accipiter trivirgatus), a raptor right smack in the middle of downtown Taipei!

Monday, October 31, 2011




Saturday, October 29, 2011

Talovich's rule on the perversity of unfound objects:

The less time you have to find something, the less likely it is you will find it.

If you start looking for something a day before you need it, you will find it immediately. The amount of time you have left is in a direct inverse correlation to the time you will have to spend searching before you find it.

Monday, October 24, 2011





Saturday, October 22, 2011

Recently I've found that I need a good axe to chop firewood. I happened to find a real beauty in a hardware store, hand forged and very heavy. I hesitated to buy it, because I had to take the subway to work before I went home, but the Boss said, "It's just an agricultural tool, so there's no problem!" Just to be on the safe side, I asked for a dated receipt, in case the police had questions.
No problems with the police, but the guy sitting across from me on the subway kept looking at me with this really strange expression on his face.
He probably heaved a sigh of relief when I got off.

Friday, October 21, 2011







Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In an earlier post, I mentioned the disturbing news, or lack or news, from the Jingpo, or Kachin, in Burma >>>click<<<. This is not a good year for the ethnic nationalities in Burma, but the mainstream pays little attention. However, some good news may be building up: change may be coming, albeit slowly. <click > Better late than never!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jared Diamond said that the Spaniards conquered the Americas with guns, germs, and steel, rather than military prowess. Recently I read Roger Crowley's excellent book, Empires of the Sea >>click<< about the Spanish and Ottoman struggle for supremacy in the Mediterranean. Over decades and even centuries, the Spanish displayed such incompetence and pig-headed folly that Diamond's point should be taken as proven.

Friday, October 14, 2011

banyan door by Yugan Dali
banyan door, a photo by Yugan Dali on Flickr.

Why you don't want banyans growing on your building. Take a careful look at this door, which I photographed on an old building in downtown Taipei. The roots have grown down from the roof and down the sides of the door. It looks nice, but the building will sooner or later be taken over by the banyan.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Monday, October 10, 2011

Today marks the Hundred Birthday of the Republic of China, which has proved all the experts wrong: in the 1970s, it was widely known that the ROC couldn't possibly survive until 1985. Well?

Sunday, October 09, 2011









Taiwan has a number of small dance, music, and acting troupes producing first rate work, wonderfully creative, expertly performed, and, sadly, generally ignored. Such troupes as 林麗貞 Legend Lin, 江之翠 Gang A Tsui Theater, 驫舞劇團 Horse,莫比斯圓環創作公社 Mobius Strip Theater, and my favorite choreographer鄭宗龍 Cheng Tsung-Lung put on masterful performances. In my experience, Western troupes tend to mire the audience in a problem; these troupes lead you to the problem and boost you to transcend it.

Today we went to a memorable performance by 原舞者 the Taiwan Indigenous Dance troupe, commemorating the life of the Tsou (Cou) intellectual Uyongu Yatauyungana 高一生(1908 – 1954). Uyongu was a man trapped in his time. Born in the Tsou tribe in the mountains of central Taiwan during the Japanese Occupation, he excelled in his studies. He loved his Tsou heritage, but he understood the power of schooling. He became a teacher and composer.

At the end of World War II, the ROC government made him magistrate of his township. The times around 1950 were confusing, and in Taiwan now, right wing doctrine does not allow free discussion of these problems, but dumps all faults and wrongs on the head of Chiang Kai Shek. Be that as it may, the KMT had just fought the Japanese for eight horrible years while Mao sat back and marshaled his strength, and took over mainland China.

McCarthyism was rampant in the US, and the US State Department pressed allies to root out communists, real or supposed. The Tsou had fought the KMT in the plains and retreated to the mountains, where there were People's Communes, playing the communist national anthem every morning and flying the PRC flag. Most people in Taiwan today are unaware that these communes existed, or that communist guerillas waged savage warfare in the mountains of 嘉義Chiayi and 雲林Yunlin.

Uyongu was doing his best for his people, and called for a Tsou Autonomous Region. This was not a politically wise call at a time the ROC was fighting for its life. Communist sympathizers were hiding in Tsou territory, and Uyongu was brought to account. There was some problem with public funds which Uyongu had, apparently, meant to be used for schooling, and he was charged with corruption. In addition, many of the Tsou did not forgive him for encouraging tribesmen to fight and die for Japan in the Pacific Theater in WWII.

To make a long story short, Uyongu was executed in 1954 in a prison not ten minutes' walk from Huashan Art Center, where today's production was staged. The prison disappeared long ago; part of the land is now the site of the Taipei Sheraton Hotel.

The performance was brilliant. 高英傑 Gao Yingjie, Uyongu's second son played the part of Uyongu, and Uyongu’s granddaughter played the part of her aunt. (During today's performance, Uyongu's eldest son sat two rows in front of us.) Almost all the dialogue was in the Tsou language, with the Japanese language songs he composed, and some soliloquies in Mandarin. All but one of the twenty performers are Aborigines, from various tribes.

Of course, one singer stole the show:夏赫尤勞 Hiax Yulau, the 8 year old son of my good friend and neighbor Yulau Yukan. But it goes without saying that the Tayal of Wulai sing better than anybody else; this is an entirely unbiased evaluation.

The choreographer was the noted布拉瑞揚‧帕格勒法 Bulareyaung Pagarlava, from the Paiwan tribe; he has choreographed for such famous troupes as NYC's Martha Graham Dance Company. The main props used were bamboo poles and two bamboo ladders (Gao Yingjie informed me that all the bamboo came from Pnguu, where we spent so much time last year). The work was imaginative and moving. I couldn't help thinking that Uyongu would be comforted to see his son interpreting his life just around the corner from where that life ended.

The man to my right is 高英傑 Gao Yingjie, Uyongu’s second son, who played the lead, and to his right is his big brother, the first son.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


Thursday, October 06, 2011


This evening we went to the National Concert Hall to hear the Academy of Ancient Music Berlin / Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin perform Baroque music: Telemann (my favorite composer), Bach, Caldara, Corelli, with a rousing second encore by Purcell. Sheer joy!

The star of the show was Maurice Steger, one of the world's foremost recorder players. I have collected his CDs for some years, and wondered if maybe they have speeded up the recording? No, he actually does play that fast, and never misses a note.

Unfortunately, they had only the one performance in Taiwan, and didn't get enough publicity, so the house was only about half full. But it was an unforgettable concert. Too bad you missed it!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011






更何況,二二八與白色恐怖到目前沒有一個中肯的結論;現在不容許客觀討論,因為這個問題牽涉到太多政治利益。但請想一想:「白色恐怖」根本不是中文;為甚麼?這與美國國務卿John Foster Dulles脫不了干係。但現在臺灣的「言論自由」不容許這種說法,因為一切的罪惡都要放到蔣中正的頭上。






Saturday, October 01, 2011



The taichi master Cheng Manching served as Chairman of the Hunan Martial Arts Association. He said the worst thing about the position was that he had to chair meetings. Hunanese are famously feisty, and every meeting dissolved into chaos, and a Chairman had to set an example, not join in the fisticuffs. The very worst meeting was the time one martial artist, quarreling with another, said, "Oh, you think you're something? Watch this!" jumped up, came down, and broke the conference table with his forehead. Cheng could only stand by and remind the members that tables cost money…

I heard him tell this story around 1973, and he still could only laugh bitterly and shake his head. Boys will be boys.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Taiwan baseball fan lunges for a ball hit into the stands.... here>>>>>>>

have they found his body yet?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011




Today is Confucius's birthday. Spend a moment today to thank everybody who has taught you, to thank Confucius, and to reflect on what you have learned over the past year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

overheard in a restaurant



A young couple entered the restaurant, took their seats, ordered, and sat there without anything to say for several minutes. Finally, the girl said, "You can trim your fingernails tonight."

Who said that cell phones and FaceBook have killed the art of conversation?

Saturday, September 24, 2011




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This is something I read online:: here::: worth reading, and thinking about: written by Kent Nerburn, when was a taxi driver in Minneapolis.

When I drove up in my taxi cab for a phoned-in pickup, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under the circumstances, many taxi drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing," I told her, "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It’s not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said, "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

"What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring, saying nothing.

She suddenly said, "I’m tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held on to me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, and then walked to my taxi. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.

What if the woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.