Thursday, February 28, 2013

If animals ate junk food ~~~

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

今年第一條蛇已經報到了。晚上回家時,大門前有一條龜殼花,六十公分、瘦瘦的。用竹竿推開時,鑰匙環上的手電筒突然暗了,所以不確定去哪。大概很冷吧,十四度而已,可能回家睡覺去了。The first snake of the year has arrived. When we came home, there was a thin little viper by the front door, about 60 cm long. Just as I pushed it away with a bamboo pole, the flashlight on my keychain failed, so I don’t know where it went. Probably back to bed, because it was pretty cool for a reptile: 14C.

Monday, February 25, 2013

In the preceding post, I mentioned that we enjoyed immensely a performance of the Songs of the Wanderers by Cloud Gate Dance Theater with the Ensemble Rustavi of Georgia. The Rustavi sang superbly, a perfect complement to the dance. But what on earth were the songs about? I have a sneaking suspicion that here is a translation of what they sang:

"We have come a long way to sing,
But probably nobody understands our language.
If you understand Georgian, please clap your hands.
Does anybody in the audience understand Georgian?
Of course nobody in this part of the world understands Georgian.
Please clap your hands if you understand this language.
As I suspected, nobody understands our language.
People in our own country don't understand our language.
So it is.
Since nobody in the audience understands this language,
permit me to tell you that
the food they served on the flight over was
barely edible.
But we bravely ate it
because we were hungry.
But can you imagine?
The flight was delayed for four hours,
and they never gave us an explanation.
Speaking of explanations,
can anybody explain why those people are prancing about on the stage?
We don't dance like that in Georgia.
But they are nice people,
so we will keep singing.
We enjoy watching them prance about like that.
Would anybody like to hear me gargle?
Do you think I can make the others in this choir laugh?
Would anybody like to hear me yodel?
Please, choristers, do not show a smile,
or somebody might guess what's going on…”

with apologies to the Ensemble. It was really a beautiful performance, but I just couldn't help wondering.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Amis" rhymes with ah-GEESE, and is the name of a tribe of Taiwan aborigines, living on the east coast. With 140,000 people, the Amis are the largest tribe in Taiwan, but modernization is taking its toll. Sawtoy of the Amis Kakeng Ensemble is working to bring new life to the culture through music. He studies, builds, and plays instruments that have not been seen for decades. So when he told us he was going to revive a "secret instrument" that had been extinct, we jumped at the chance and planned our trip to Taitung, but unfortunately, at the last minute, something came up and he was called away. We decided to go anyway. It turned out to be a very rich trip.
Actually, you could say the week started to get interesting on Tuesday when we encountered a wandering Jew. 我們星期二下午到臺北,看到一位穿迷彩褲、袋禮弁、長鬍的猶太人在街上闊步走,自言自語。等紅燈時,他衝上去問一位小姐,「妳不會英文吧」,把小姐嚇壞了,我就接手。「你幫我送到Citibank,因為提款卡不能用,找不到公用電話,我要打給銀行,對方付錢,上帝真是考驗我這個遠離阿根廷的家的牧師~~」果然不能用。快五點了,銀行沒開,請他明日早一點。「那你教我怎麼回飯店。」「哪一家飯店?」「大的那一家。」還好,我猜對了,是凱撒,指指點點教他怎麼走。
星期五「有人在家」民宿的官官建議我們到丹寧象素食館吃;老闆娘愛象,到處都是象,但不是真的象。凡所有象,皆是虛妄。吃到一半立榮打電話來說飛機誤點。正好,我們到海邊走走。到了臺北,到中正堂,吃春水堂,晚上看雲門流浪者之歌。撼!You don't see a lot of yarmulke in Taiwan, but on Tuesday afternoon, when we were in the city, we saw a bird-thin middle aged man, long beard, yarmulke, black coat, camouflage pants with long legs sticking out, and a tasseled shawl striding along muttering to himself. At a stop light, he approached a young lady and demanded, "You don't speak English, do you!" She was terrified, so I asked what he needed. He needed directions to Citibank, because his ATM card wasn't working, he couldn't find a pay phone to make a collect call, of course he didn't see the sign I was pointing out, and how could god do this to a good rabbi far from his home in Argentina? We took him to Citibank, and verified that his ATM card didn't work, but it was almost 5PM, so we could do little more than tell him to try again the next day. "Tell me how to get to my hotel." "Which hotel are you staying in?" "A big one." Fortunately, I guessed the right one, and aimed him back at his hotel and unleashed him on them. The next morning we caught a flight to Taitung, and stuffed ourselves past the point of walking at a firepot place where they offer a wide variety of greens. Then we went to a Puyuma tribal village to visit Kuciling Katatepan, who carves astonishing ritual knife scabbards. Thursday morning we stopped in on Sawtoy to say hello, and proceeded to Atolan to visit Balahu before she and Rabbit fly to India. Another Puyuma sculptor, Iming, dropped by with two of his friends, and we had a nice chat before going to visit a smith. I was after an Orchid Island sculptural hatchet, and bought beautiful one. The smith attached a handle for me. Then back to Taitung to visit a Paiwan glass bead workshop; Paiwan beads have a history of over 1,500 years, and each pattern has its special significance. As we chose beads for necklaces, our friend Hsiuhui asked, Why don't you make a bead yourself so you understand? I knew it wasn't easy, but yeah, it's not easy. In the evening we went to a concert by a Puyuma singer, Snayang. She was very nervous, as it was her first solo concert, but she gave a memorable performance. At lunch on Friday at the Denim Elephant Vegetarian Restaurant, we got a call from the airline saying the flight would be delayed. Okay, so we went to the beach, returned the rental car, caught the delayed flight, returned to Taipei, and went to the National Theater for a performance of the Songs of the Wanderers by Cloud Gate Dance Theater + the Ensemble Rustavi of Georgia, Georgia as in Caucasian, not next to Alabama. A powerful performance, then home. Quite a jaunt.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Monday, February 18, 2013

我要發財了!我種的咖啡樹結果了!雖然只有兩顆,但全烏來只有這兩顆咖啡果。下一步就是要想辦法給白鼻心穿上尿布。I'm going to be rich! My coffee trees have grown berries! ~~ two of them. These are the very first coffee berries grown in Wulai. Now all I have to do is put some diapers on the local civet cats.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

昨天到永和韓國街買了石鍋,今天用木碳煮雜糧,又香又可口!真是享受!Yesterday we bought a stone pot in a Korean store. This evening I cooked grains (various types of rice and so forth) over charcoal. Delicious! Can't be beat.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I've known quite a few of those in my time.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A happy new year to everybody!!
and I mean everybody!!

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Friday, February 08, 2013


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

My wish is that someday I can learn hwo to sepll.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

For crying out loud, don't drop it!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Not all news is bad news. The Chinese government is brokering peace talks between the Burmese government and the Jingpo (Kachin \ 景頗). I trust that once things settle down, the government will make peace with the Karen and others. In the meantime, the government should stop fighting.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Punishment doesn't seem to do much good, except to slake our thirst for vengeance. But it doesn't solve a lot of problems.
We just got back from a two day activity at the Reformatory. I believe that these boys are not bad, they just need to be taught, because nobody has ever taught them right from wrong.
You figure out where you would like your tax money to go: to lock up people so they become more hardened criminals, or invest in counseling, teaching, therapy, whatever it takes to make them useful, productive citizens. It is difficult, but it can be done. It should be done.
The boys in the Reformatory are all teenagers, and I have yet to meet one who comes from a normal family. They surround themselves with walls and walls, for protection. You can't ask to see results. But you do. I have made a point of greeting one brooding boy, saying good words to him, trying to talk with him, cheer him up. For a year and a half, he said little more than "Uh" and then turned away. But these two days, a door opened: as soon as they entered the activity area, he rushed over to hug me, joked with me, slapped my back, sat next to me to chat, and smiled all the time.
Volunteering at the Reformatory is wonderful, but it's also exhausting. When we got home, we wanted nothing more than a good night's sleep. We hit the sack and were soon sound asleep. Sound asleep. Sound. Sound. Arf arf. At 4, I was awakened by persistent barking, but I didn't recognize it. It was far enough away to ignore, but another voice chimed in, a suspiciously beagly voice. I dragged myself out of bed to go outside and call, but there was no response. Not good, because Byajing invariably responds.
I finally decided that I had to go look. I got the best flashlight, the one I got after the time that snake fell on my head :: click:: and followed their barking. I reached a streambed that borders a bamboo grove. Very reluctantly, I crossed the dry streambed and entered the pitch black bamboo grove, following the sound. At least it's too cold for snakes to be very lively. Black as a coal mine. It's a good thing I know that grove so well, or I would have been lost in a minute, flashlight or no.
The dogs were not barking at a snake, a cat, or a stray. What is more unusual, Yumin was growling, and he almost never growls. I reached a spot about twenty paces from them across very difficult terrain. I called a few more times, and told them I wanted to go home to bed. I did.
But I couldn't sleep. The barking continued, and at about 5, Sabiy woke up. She was also worried that Byajing was not responding, so we got our flashlights, I strapped on my laraw (headhunting knife), and got a leash and a saw, just for good measure.
I told Sabiy to wait on this side of the streambed, and entered the bamboo grove. I crossed the difficult part, and figured I was about ten paces from them. I called again, and they stopped barking. There was a tense silence. I was concerned that they had a boar, and if it charged, maneuvering would be quite difficult amongst the thick bamboo. I drew my laraw.
After a minute or more, suddenly I heard a large animal crashing uphill off to my right, and saw Yumin's white tail in hot pursuit. Byajing came to my side. Finally! I called Yumin again and headed home.
Just as I reached the side of the streambed, my flashlight died. Grief! If that had happened one minute earlier, I would have had to either crawl back, or sit down and wait for dawn. Crossing the bamboo in pitch dark is out of the question. But Sabiy lit the streambed for me with her flashlight, and we headed home.
Yumin is, after all, getting on in years, so he trotted up behind us, evidently forsaking his foe. I put the leash on him just to make sure, and we came home. When we reached the house, I gave him a little talk: You're getting on in years, you have to pay more attention to safety, it can be dangerous…. Yumin was already fast asleep.
At least somebody got some sleep!