Monday, November 23, 2009

Father forgive me for I have sinned, it has been 3 months since my last post...

Sorry anybody...we have been so unfaithful to the blog. You have every right to abondon us. So here are some Taiwan bullet points. I hope you enjoy.
...I have signed up for year 5 at Taipei American School. The students, faculty, pay package and travel possibilities are just too good to pass up. There are other aspects that are a great challenge but my motto is "living well is the best revenge."

....We are just beginning our travel season for this year. Once we start we travel every month which is just what we want.

November, Luang prabang Laos...a village known for its temples, saffron robed monks and weaving, a French Indochine environment on the Mekong river.
December, Vienna and Prague...we fly to Vienna, take a train to Prague to visit friends, go to Mozart's Don Giovanni in the same opera house inwhich Mozart premiered it, the back to Vienna for New Year's Eve. We have been ordered to bring back Sacher Torte from Vienna so the plane will really smell good.
February, Chinese New Year...Bunaken and the Lembeh Straits in Sulawesi Indonesia for diving and snorkelling. This area was the sight of major submarine battles in WWII but now has some of the best diving in the world.
March, Spring break in Bali again. We can Not Not go to Bali for the music, spirituality, friends we have made, and the beauty of the land. We quiver with anticipation of the return.
April....Just a week and 1/2 after we return from break, I go to Sydney AU for a music conference on preserving culture with professional development money from the school. Carol hoes wii us.
MayCarol returns to USA late May and I follow the first week in June. WOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!
.....I have been using Chinese medicine to improve a freezing shoulder. I have a male chinese tai ji masseuse come and beat me up and apply painful glass cups to my back and shoulder. he can find every insertion of a muscle and then make the area jump in pain. I then take AWEFUL chinese medicine made from herbs and "Stuff" but I am told it is good for my blood flow. I also get slapped so hard on my shoulder that I am blood red. AND IT HURTS.
.....The next night Megan our lovely masseuse comes and we have an 1 1/2 body massagefor around 15 USD and then fall into a stupor as an after affect.
.....Talkabout convenients...we were told not to go to 7-11 for ice but rather to call this ice house and have them deliver to the apartment, again for the cheap sum of 5 USD for a 20 lb bag.

More later but that is all the time for now.

Our love

B and C

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Failure of English

Most of the time, I am so grateful for the amount of English that is present in Taiwan. The government makes a huge effort to include English language directions, street signs and bus maps in an effort to be accommodating to the Anglo population. Similarly food items on a menu may come with a rough English translation but at the very least they come with a picture so one can kind of tell what the basic ingredients of a dish might be. And the plastic food for display industry is huge. Most restaurants have window displays that have life size glisteningly fresh looking plastic models of all that you might eat so your choice can be somewhat informed. The catch is you have to recognize a chicken testicle from a cannelini bean (one is bigger).

But sometimes the system breaks down in aural cognates and misspellings. To wit: the sign in our local gym reads. "Please arrive early for class so you can get your worms in." Okay...I can do that....I think.

I mean no mockery of these wonderful folks...just that mandarin is not the only tough language. Witness "aural" and "oral" or the classic "ghoti" or fish example.

These little oopses just add a certain humor to the day.

How many dual language signs in Sturgeon Bay or Green Bay with a large Latino population? Maybe we could do better for our fellow travelers?

We await the onslaught of swine flu. All members of TAS arrive to get there temp taken on their forehead daily and receive a colored dot to wear for the day. Somehow it never matchs any color you might wear.

Love to all

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weather and flu

Okay, so we live in the tropics. As I have said when in the West one can hear the phrase, "If you keep digging, you will dig a hole to China." So I checked and if we dig too deeply here, we will end up in Havana Cuba area. So one can expect it to be hot but this is really getting oppressive. The heat index for the last several days has been 111 degrees F. It is so hot that there is very little milk in the stores because the cows refuse to give milk. Poor Carol has been doing at least 4+ shirts a day in the laundry and the air con barely pulls the temp down to 27-28 degrees C.

Hydration is a huge issue so we should invest in our water company given the amount of usage. This is a time when I wish I had hair so it could at least absorb some amount of liquid on my head instead of it just sitting there like a lake.

The stores are also running very low on fruits and vegetables as a result of the destruction from the typhoon. Many people can still not get into their villages and if they can, must do so on foot because the roads and bridges are gone. The government is still screaming invectives at its own pieces and parts trying to pass blame. One official was getting his hair dyed. Another was at a high end dinner party. And the president was no where to be found when they should have been meeting and being effective in crisis management. The whole issue with not accepting overseas aid when it was originally offered was to appease the PRC. If Taiwan accepted aid, then it would seem like it was a real country not just a province of the mainland. Evil.

And then there is the H1N1 flu.....We have been told that a school closure, either moderate or long term is all but inevitable. We have had 1 case so far and will start having mandatory temperature testing prior to entry into the school staring Thursday. We also have the capacity to "teach" and communicate with all our students via an online classroom so we are all getting that in fine order. How this will affect our current rehearsals for the musical is not a pretty picture, but what is is.

Pray for this little island.

More later


Monday, August 17, 2009

Taiwan Update Rain and Rocking

Hello dear friends,

We thought it best to let you know that we have arrived safely in Taipei and are happily doing well.

We arrived @ 5:45am on Friday the day typhoon Morakot hit. Basically, the airport closed behind us. We had no idea that there even WAS a typhoon until we began our descent. So no problem really. We immediately went to the stores to restock since we had nothing in the apartment for food, drink, or supplies. Therein ensued two typhoon days where everything is basically shut down.

Our area sustained only minor damage from the winds but as you know, the rain was intense. On the Friday we arrived we had 8 inches of rain from midnight to 8AM and that was before the typhoon actually hit. I think the total was somewhere around 1500 to 2000 mm of rain in the south.

The government response has triggered such intense anger and hatred by most all Taiwanese folks. Carol's friends are not sleeping and are in extreme mental/emotional distress because even with no relatives, "our people are suffereing and the government is not helping them." The political fallout from this could be a game changer.

It is too bad that the world sees only Taiwan's disasters because it again makes the country look like a 3rd world nation. This is so far from the truth. When we got back here, it was like stepping into the best of NY city or Gold Coast Chicago...abundant, rich in variety, and gracious in service. The mud and destroyed roads give a horrible picture of what was incredible beauty and highly productive communities.

It is anticipated that food prices especially on fruits and veggies will rise 40% if not more.

THEN, yesterday, Aug 18th I was in class with students when one of them said calmly, "Earthquake." Sure enough my butt started moving with a life of its own as I sat on my stool and resulted in lap dance moves that would have made a hooker proud. I told the students to get under the desks and then responded without question. It was over in a few seconds and many folks did not even notice the quake. Below is the news report. I will put more info after the report so skip down if you wish.


"A second earthquake rocked Taiwan yesterday, the central weather bureau said, but there was no immediate report of damages or casualties.

A 6.1-magnitude quake hit at 06:10p.m. yesterday some 204 km off the east coast of Taiwan at a depth of 20 km and was felt even in the capital Taipei, the bureau said.

It came after a 6.8-magnitude quake struck off Taiwan's east coast at 9:06 a.m. yesterday, prompting Japan to issue a tsunami warning for its islands in the East China Sea, close to Taiwan.

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates. A 7.6-magnitude quake killed around 2,400 people in September 1999.

I will try to be more faithful in getting stuff posted here.

Thanks to all our friends and loved ones we were able to see this summer and sadly, we did not get to everyone we wanted to be with. Please forgive us and let us hope for next summer.

From Taiwan,

Our best,
Bill and Carol

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

OH NO...NOT THE PANDAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Published on Taipei Times
Pandemonium breaks out at Taipei Zoo
Zookeepers became suspicious of the resident giant pandas’ true pedigree after Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan began acting strangely

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2009, Page 13
Taiwan-China relations were dealt a severe setback yesterday when it was found that Taipei Zoo’s “pandas” are not what they seem.
Zookeepers discovered at feeding time yesterday that the two pandas are in fact Wenzhou brown forest bears that had been dyed to create the panda’s distinctive black-and-white appearance.

The Taipei Zoo’s head of ursidae ex-procyonidae care, Connie Liu (劉長春), said she became suspicious when the pandas, Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓), began to spend almost all of their waking hours having sex. Pandas are notorious for their low libidos, which make them difficult to breed in captivity.

“Let’s just say Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan would tuan yuan at every chance,” said Liu, referring to the combination of the panda’s names, which means “to reunite” in Mandarin. “They would do it doggy-style and every armchair zoologist knows that pandas favor the missionary position — when they do it at all. Their behavior caused chaos. Children screamed and parents became irate.”

Her suspicions were confirmed yesterday when she noticed that the animals’ new hair growth was discolored.

“Their roots began to show,” she said.

A zookeeper who asked to be identified only by his nickname A-diung (阿忠) because he was not authorized to speak with the media said he and his coworkers had long had their doubts, but were discouraged from publicly voicing their concerns by management.

“Whenever the moaning from the panda enclosure gets too loud we gotta go in there and hose ’em down with cold water,” he said. “After a while, parts of the animals’ black-and-white patches started to turn brown.”

He said he alerted senior zoo staff who dismissed his concerns.

“They told me pandas at the zoo in Washington, DC, get lethargic and sometimes lie in their own feces because they can’t tolerate hot weather, so it didn’t surprise them at all that their fur was turning brown since Taipei’s hotter on average than Washington,” he said.

The pandas arrived in Taipei last December as a gift from the Chinese government. The pair were first offered three years ago, but were rejected by then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). After the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) won the presidential election last May, the pandas were accepted, though critics continue to decry what they see as an attempt by Beijing to bribe Taiwanese with cute, cuddly furballs in lieu of a more meaningful gesture of goodwill such as removing some of the 1,500 missiles China has pointed at Taiwan.

Even the pandas’ most diehard supporters were brokenhearted yesterday. Some angrily compared the subterfuge to last year’s contaminated milk scandal, when melamine that had been added to watered-down milk sickened 300,000 victims across China and led to a recall of diary products in countries including Taiwan.

“First the milk scandal and now this. What are we going to hear next?” said Chang I-jun (張麗君), a Taipei resident.

Chang, who operates a souvenir stand near the zoo’s entrance, added that the scandal would affect sales of her stuffed panda toys, panda T-shirts, panda pens and notepads, remote-controlled pandas on wheels, caps with panda ears on top, panda fans, panda flashlights, panda mugs, panda eyeglass cases, panda face masks, panda slippers, panda wallets and panda purses.

“China certainly owes us an apology,” said Chang.

In a statement released yesterday evening, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) addressed the panda scandal.

“We understand that our compatriots in Taiwan are very upset. We wish to assure them that we have taken steps to address their concerns. We hope that our Taiwanese friends enjoy the gift of two extremely rare Wenzhou brown forest bears,” Qin said.

Local media reported yesterday that, in December, traces of melamine were found in Chinese bamboo that had been shipped to Taipei to feed Yuan Yuan and Tuan Tuan when the pair were rejecting Taiwanese bamboo and had each lost 3kg.

In 2007, thousands of dogs and cats in North and South America died and became sick after Chinese companies added melamine to wheat gluten that was used to make pet food.

The reports said blood samples have been collected from the bears and sent to a lab at Academia Sinica where they are to be tested for harmful adulterants.

Substances to be tested for include glycol, a chemical similar to antifreeze which in 2007 was found in Chinese exports of cough syrup; chloramphenicol, a powerful antibiotic that has been present in honey from China since 1997; and the banned antibiotic nitrofuran, which is often detected in Chinese “hairy crabs” and shrimp sold in Taiwan.