Saturday, June 28, 2008

Triple plays, Snowstorms, Hickies, and Jailbirds

The Missoula Osprey (A ball, Arizona Diamondbacks) decided this year they would have a new promotion. $10,000 dollars would go to a lucky fan if certain rarities occurred during the correct inning (hitting the foul pole with a homer, back to back to back homers, 4 stolen bases in an inning, etc.)

On the first night of the promotion, during the first inning, they announced one lucky fan would win the money if a triple play was turned. The visiting Billings Mustangs promptly loaded the bases. The crowd began to rumble. The rumbling finished when a long fly ball to left was hit by the cleanup man. Our groans were turned to laughter when, in true Taiwanese baseball fashion, the left fielder dropped the ball. However, the Osprey are quick on their feet. The left fielder fired the dropped ball to third base to get the force out. The thirdbaseman, realizing the runner from first had taken a wide turn around second, fired it to the secondbaseman and caught the offender in a pickle. Eventually the thirdbaseman would apply the tag. In the meantime, the cleanup batter, sensing trouble on the base paths, tried to sneak into second behind the play. The alert shortstop went to cover the bag, the thirdbaseman gunned it over and the tag was applied. For those keeping score, the play would read: 7-5-4-5-6 (with a run scoring on the play and no error on the left fielder). For one lucky fan, he would be counting $10000. Three nights later, against the Helena Brewers, the Osprey would turn a more conventional triple play (5-4-3), but it would not net anybody a paycheck. Dating back to last October, that's three triple plays turned by the Osprey, a bizzare statistical anomaly.

The snow finally seems to have finished for the season, our last dusting coming on June 14th. I ultimately received four inches at my house that week. Thank god spring is here. Spring means many things here in Montana, not the least of which is that girls start dressing in less (or more depending on your point of view) appropriate attire.

Now this lack of clothing makes men's loins stir to be sure. Fortunately the women get frisky, too. I recently hooked up with a young lass who left a hicky on the back of my neck. I haven't had a hicky in aeons, but there it is, all bright and red. Of course that means I have to lay low for a couple of days, but it's kind of nice to know women are still willing to leave their mark on unsuspecting males.

In other news from this side of the ocean, the Houston Astros have recently released pitcher Shawn Chacon after he choked the general manager, Ed Wade. Shacon said he told Wade he didn't want to go to the office, but Wade just wouldn't listen. Meanwhile, the Astros still can't score runs, prevent other teams from scoring runs , or basically do anything right on the baseball field.

In a related story, I have begun a boycot of the state of texas. On a recent 36 hour visit to the lone star state, I was arrested. I got to spend 14 hours in lockup, listen to a night court judge laugh when I told him I why I was in jail, and hang out with various other vile offenders of the law (the old black man next to me had written a bad check in 1993 for $37). Unlike him, I was not in on a warrant (nor for building a sweat lodge), I was in for running a stop sign on my way to get ice for my sister-in-law's surprise party. When the officer informed me he was writing me a ticket for no insurance as well running the stop sign (although I had the insurance in my hand), I questioned why he was doing that. When he chose not to answer that, and instead repeated that he was writing me a ticket for no insurance and failure to stop at a stop sign, I again showed him my insurance. I was told to step out of the car. When i asked him if he was going to arrest me, he asked me if I wanted him to. I said no, I just want you to not write me a ticket for no insurance when I have it in my hands. He told me to step out of the car. I unlocked the door, he pulled it open, jerked me out and put me in the back of his car. When I was finally processed, I discovered I had been charged with failure to stop at a stop sign. The no insurance claim was no where to be found. Needless to say, a complaint has been filed against the arresting officer.

texas has said, and the Supreme Court has agreed, the police can arrest you for any offense of the law because an officer 'cannot be expected to know what is a jailable and what is a non jailable offense.' In Montana, however, an officer has to have a reasonable belief that the offense is jailable. I'm sticking with the Montana rule on this one. And a one year boycot of texas is now in effect. It would be permanent except for the family ties and Continental/American connections out of houston and dallas.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"God of Dinner...and Rock and Ro-o-oll!"
Maybe you're going about it the wrong way, Red A. Get yourself one of these to prepare your vittles for digestion and I bet the wife will let you eat whatever you want.
Last night at the Fairies, this Tu Di Gong (土地公; tǔ dì gōng) - a local earth god not as powerful as one of the Fairies, but one who carries a staff with gourds, a gold ingot, has wings for some reason, and has a noggin that is either encephalitic or can out think Deep Blue - successfully led his plate into total consumption.

Even in spite of a heavy blanket of sweet mayonnaise, diners still found their way to, and ate, the shrimp and pineapple. Even after one Canadian, Andre, tried to de-wing the god for a nosh, he remained standing and proud ( after he was stood back up by the drop-mouthed Taiwanese at the table). Even after another Canadian, Josh, tried to clean him of cigarette ashes on, inner thigh, he remained firm.

In all fairness to Andre, the god's wings were facing him and he just looked like a big, fat carrot. In Josh's defense, he was cleaning it up because we couldn't take it with us. We had to give it back and he had no way of knowing if the next patron preferred regular or menthol.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lowest Common Denominator

Here is the current dietary situation at the Red A household:

One woman who is eating vegetarian for 49 days. This would be the Taoist/Buddhist vegetarianism which means no garlic or onions. They are stimulants don't you know? Up there with meth.

One woman who is a Muslim and does not eat pork.

Two children who are not allowed to eat beef due to Taoist/Buddhist religious reasons. I have tried to explain that American cows want you to eat them, because otherwise the rancher would have no reason to keep feeding and breeding them. It's a good genetic deal for the cows.

One man who can eat whatever he damn well pleases but who shouldn't eat some foods due to gout. Plus I don't like seafood. You do realize that shrimp are like cockroaches of the sea.

Its like we're a microcosm of India, 40% Hindu, 20% Muslim, 20% Jain, and 20% British colonial official with gout and a glass of lager.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

End of the School Year: Graduation

I graduated from high school and college, but in Taiwan, by the time you become12 years old, you will have lapped me several times in graduation ceremonies. There are graduation ceremonies for everything: pre-school, kindergarten, cram school, elementary (Jethro, you are vindicated), junior high, senior high and college. I am sure there are others, but I am certain about these. These are full blown ceremonies with gowns, speeches and diplomas. The week before, these students, who have been humping it for years to pass the next entrance exam to ensure their admittance into a good school, take time to organize a banquet to celebrate...their teachers.

Yep. If you taught a class for any amount of time, you are invited to a Teacher Appreciation Banquet 謝 師 宴 (xie4 shi1 yan4 / ㄒㄧㄝˋ ㄕ ㄧㄢˋ). The week prior to the banquet teachers will begin receiving invitations and other things. Handmade cards, flowers and gifts (here, a graduation bear) clutter our desks and office.

The banquets themselves vary from casual, buffet style to reserved-room 12-course Chinese style. All were fine, with some of the food being excellent.

The most enjoyment came from being with the students themselves. I saw one of my 9th-grade students, Danny, eating eating oysters with a knife and fork. I thought it was important that he knew the proper way to down an oyster. So, before seeing the actual oyster I told them that real men just put a little lemon and hot sauce on it and slurp it down straight from the shell. Then it arrived. It was about the size of a Nerf football cut in half with a giant whale loogi laying on top of it. Surely I could do this. I most assuredly almost did not. My mouth was wedged full and immobile with a third of it, with another third clogging my throat and the final third was poised, dangling, ready to drop into my stomach should my salavic juices claim victory and pry loose the vacuum seal held by this most ornery of oysters. Finally, as if the oyster was just playing with me to show me who was really in charge, the death grip was released and it cannonballed into my stomach. Not so much enjoyment for me, but the kids couldn't stop laughing and filming with their cell phones as I contorted and staggered around.

The school year is over for me and I will not see many of these kids again. A good number will and do return to visit. Regardless of whether I see them again or not, I know that I will be able to do it all over again next year. I cannot see myself doing anything else.

Students, 謝謝你.


Oyster Danny

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rye's Final Brewery Tour

Time flies. Our departure date is set for the 7th, less than 3 weeks from now. As expected I'm busier than hell but I have cleared my schedule for one more tour of the Beer Factory on the afternoon of Saturday the 28th. Come celebrate the end of the semester and the onset of summer vacation (for some of us) with cold beer and bad jokes. All yall are welcome and I'd love to see as many of yous as possible.

If you'd like to see the kids before we go, come on by the house for a visit.

Also, my land speeder is still for sale (at a reduced price!). But it's okay 'cause I'm never coming back to this planet again anyway.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I would like to be able to have both Chinese characters and BoPoMoFo in my Word files.

Anyone know how to do that, or something close to it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Here oil, come here oil!

Inlets in Taiwan, Ice lets in Canada.

The search for oil, and threats of military presence.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Live from Chinese Taichung

I am the Warr-i-or!

Or so Ma Ying-Jeou has loudly sang before. To be specific, he hails from the Diaoyutai Warrior branch of warriordom.

Sounds cool. How do I become a warrior? First, pick a remote place that has been ignored by your government for 20 years. Next, spend 30 years yelling bad things about the evil owners of this place, the Japanese. Make clear your successes. The world must know that although Taiwan has not reclaimed the islands, the movement is meaningful in that constant action has prevented the Japanese from advancing their plans to build a helicopter landing area, weather station, and lighthouse in the islands (Ma).

Wow! That is some major whoop-ass! But what will The Warrior do about the ramming and sinking of a Taiwanese fishing boat by the Japanese in the Diaoutais? No room for pansies here. Immediately issue a 4-Point Statement! Be sure to use words like "never," "absolutely" and "vehemently" to let them know you mean business. If they are too dense to fathom the gravity of these words, have your sidekick [ Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄)] let them know that war is an option.

Related story #1: Taipei reaffirms sovereignty over Tiaoyutai Islands - The China Post (Yay!)

President Ma Ying-jeou, once a Tiaoyutai warrior, had a statement issued by his spokesman Wang Yu-chi reaffirming the eight islets... are part of the territory of the Republic of China.
No official statement on the Tiaoyutais has been made over the past ten years...

Why so long? Maybe the following related story might help.

China, along with Taiwan and Japan, claims sovereignty over the islets under whose waters lie vast natural gas and oil reserves waiting to be tapped.

Taiwan? Taiwan? Come on China Post. What happened to the Republic of China? Weren't you up in arms for eight years at the previous administration's use of the word Taiwan?

Related story #2: Taipei, Beijing reach historic pacts - The China Post

They have agreed to open direct charter flights and establish permanent offices in each others territory. If you have been following the links you will know that China is also a claimant to the islands. Now, with Taiwan's new BBFL ( pardon if my web-speak is not up to par, but I believe that the first B stands for butt) they have no reservations whatsoever about barking like a big dog.

Click on the link and look at the picture of the two representatives shaking hands. Without reading the caption, which one is the Chicom? Now read the caption and note the venue for the meeting. Interesting in several ways that I won't go into here.

Related story #3: Ma Ying-Jeou elected Mister (Mr.) of Taiwan

After the Taiwan election and before the latest Diaoyutai incident, The Warrior sent KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) to meet with Hu Jintao, general-secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, among others. The leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Taiwan's KMT), majority party and upholders of the Republic of China (中華民國) would not use the R.O.C.'s 民國 97年 designation for the year (it dates from the 1911 revolution). As a bonus Wu also felt the best way to uphold the sovereignty of the R.O.C. was to refer the President Ma as Mister Ma.

The Warrior has said he wants to live, die and be buried in Taiwan. I just didn't know he was referring to the Taiwan Province of China. Or maybe he is just practicing some of that tact and diplomacy Brett was always trying to teach me about.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

End of the school year: contracts

A week of classes is left before final exams and summer vacation. Cue my supervisor's rush to the junior high office with the contracts for the foreign teachers. We usually give it a very cursory glance, focusing on the minimum hours and salary amount and sign.

This year I hesitated. We had found out that some of the things we neglected were no longer there, such as our guaranteed yearly raise and 6 paid days of medical leave (of which I have not taken one day in six years). Our fault for not looking closely and trusting them to at least come to us and explain their reasons. When asked about the omissions, they ( the higher-ups, the poobahs ) said that they thought we would read the contract (Ouch!) and they really didn't have to explain their reasoning behind their actions (Boo!Hiss!).

Well, I turned in my signed contract and am waiting to see if the overlords are more vigilant than I (item 6) in contract review. If not, I will start a sign-up list for rides next week.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Taipei to ban disposable chopsticks

Taipei is to ban free, disposable chopsticks from 24-hour shops and supermarkets, an official said Saturday. The Taipei City Government said that starting later this month, several 24-hour convenience shop and supermarket chains will stop giving away disposable chopsticks with packed food, lunch boxes and instant noodles. Participants in the campaign are 7-Eleven, Family Mark, Circle K and Hi-Life 24-hour shop chains as well as three supermarket chains - Wellcome, Matsusei and Pxmart. "These shops and supermarkets are taking the lead. We hope other shops, restaurants and roadside food stalls can follow suit and stop using disposable chopsticks," said Su Fen-hui, from the city government's environmental protection bureau, said.
I wonder just how bad disposable chopsticks are for the environment.

1. If they are made from renewable bamboo plantations, they are not exactly contributing to deforestation, but instead providing a reason to keep bamboo growing in the first place.

2. Sure, they are thrown into the garbage, but as being a natural product, they are biodegradable.

3. Finally, washing non-disposable chopsticks also will cause environmental damage by putting detergent into the water supply. See for example:

Dutch lifecycle analysis: The biggest problem with reusable coffee cups is the water and energy required to clean them. Washing a porcelain cup and saucer once, in an average dishwasher, has a greater impact on water resources than either a paper cup or a Styrofoam cup. In contrast, porcelain cups have less impact on air, energy consumption, and volume of trash. If a reusable coffee cup is used twice before being washed, then it becomes energy-efficient relative to Styrofoam cups after 114 uses, and less than 100 uses to be energy-efficient relative to paper. Even fewer reuses are required for the reusable mug to be more air pollution–efficient and landfill volume–efficient.

But I don't think anyone will use their portable chopsticks TWICE before washing them with a nice dollop of detergent. Instead, I predict that the stores will sell disposable chopsticks for NT$ 2 just like the bags now, but they will sell a whole lot more of them than they do the bags. Well, McDonald's is "lovin' it" since their fast food only requires hands and not chopsticks.

Its also interesting to recall that the Taiwan government once pushed restaurants and street vendors to use disposable dining utensils in the name of better public hygiene.

Hat Tip to The View from Taiwan

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Subway Sandwiches

A new Subway franchise opened within walking distance of my house. (This would be the one on Hsitun Rd. and Henan Rd. across from the gas station.)

I went to try it out last night, and was a bit surprised when they made my Roast Beef 12" sandwich with a two inch gap in the meat and only two triangles of cheese for the whole sandwich. Maybe I have not been to a Subway in Taiwan for six months, but I remember the meat covering the whole sandwich area and 4 triangles of cheese.

Well, I made my complaints known and asked them to make sure this was the correct portions. I may have even used the phrase "Lao Ban Kai Hei Dian." It was such a pathetic sandwich I actually came home and added my own salami and cheese to it. Obviously, I'll just start making my own if this is the new regime at Subways (which sucked even before they went to the new North Korean "Juche" portions.)

We called the owner's wife (he is a foreigner but she is Taiwanese) and asked about the portions. She claimed those are the new portions coming down from HQ. I know food prices are soaring so this may be true. Please let me know if you have had similar experiences at Subway and be forewarned if you are eating at the Fengjya shop I mentioned.

SIDE NOTE: On the same trip I caught my 7-11 advertising Busch beer for NT$ 44 a can. I said, oh well, the price of barley, rice, and hops must be really high. Turns out it was a mistake. The price remains NT$ 34 per can and I alerted the staff to their error.

Just call me Ralph Nader for a day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Posted in all places that serve or sell alcohol in Alaska!

Rembrandt Von Bronzefinger

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

D e n a l i N a t i o n a l P a r k

Moose's tooth, Broken tooth and Mt McKinley

"The High One"

Missed it by that much.............

Roker Revisited

Just wanted everyone to know that on this June 9th, 2008, it is currently snowing at my house. Are you shitting me? I remember Montana Springs being whimsical, but two nice days of weather do not a Spring make.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Tonka XI issue, vol 10

Th CAT issue II .....

Building a better boyhood 4 tomorrow

A nightengale sang in Berkely Square

"I speak French with a Belgian accent"

At a party in Changhua back in the day, I think at Kevin and Rain's (sp) house, some chick claimed she spoke French with a Belgian accent to our derision and amusement. That being Tom, myself, and maybe the J-hole?

Well, now I go to China a lot, and people there say I have a Taiwanese accent to my Chinese. The best way to know this is when a mainlander says you speak "Guo Yu" very well, i.e. they choose to use the Taiwanese term for putonghua, usually with a little hesitation before the word.

But, thanks to the good waishengren teachers at TLI, I can also burr, slur, and bullshit myself into some vague mongrelized mainland accent, too. (The dude at the noodle shop claimed it was a Szechuan accent, but he probably was just an ignorant peasant.)

Now, my question is whether or not it is correct to learn to not only recognize but also speak regional accents for languages? And if so, why is this not the same for native speakers and regional accents in English?

I do know one guy from New Zealand who pretty much used a North American accent now, but that's maybe work related teaching in Taiwan. And of course, the J-hole can speak standard California English before about the third beer, but those are examples of regional accents moving towards the standard. (Forgive the chauvinism, but you get the idea. Some Taiwanese saying about the attractiveness of the larger watermelon slice seems appropriate but somewhat beyond my memory.)

So, here's the final question: If Brit Paul moved in with the J-Hole in Lubbock, TX - should he learn a Texas accent? Or is this sort of thing only for non-native speakers, eh?

T K A T a l k e e t n a

Did you know?
TKA is open to the public.

When I'm calling you.
Ooh ooh ohh, ooh ooh ohh.


Not there yet.....
But the Big 50 is just around the corner:)

There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

People were smarter in the old days

I know this because I actually had to use a dictionary when reading a reprint of a 1936 Mickey Mouse comic book to my kid.

It used the word "lavaliere" which was apparently suitable for a kids comic book from 1936.

Also, the comic book featured mouse orphans, Horace the Horse, and an angry, drunk looking proto-Donald Duck.

We just rented a Mickey Mouse DVD last night that was really old cartoons, probably from the same era. It had escaped "killer" gorillas being tear gassed, Mickey shooting ghosts with a shotgun, and Donald giving firecrackers to kids coming to trick or treat.

Its a huge difference from the modern Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where everyone's special and even the extremely mild villain Pete isn't really so bad.

I also note that two cartoons looked like the inspiration for some modern movies:

Duck Pimples
for Roger Rabbit and Lonesome Ghosts for Ghostbusters.

Link to Lonesome Ghost on Youtube. If you are really bored. I only watched them because my kid made me.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Swimming The Lake

3.3 Km,
September 23,
The Lake
Registration closes 8/20

About 1700 to enter, but it is not a race. You get a number, and a bathing cap.There is a group rate.. but you need to have a group...I have been practicing for a while at the gay pool.. and I ain't ready, but time is on my side.

Any who
Brit Paul expressed some interest. The Kiwi I work with likes a challenge. I haven't seen AJ in months (maybe he is training). Ry is swimming to Canada. J-hole wants a floating ashtray and A-rod doesn't want to be one of the two people that drown every year.

Any one else?
Yes Ry, I know Ry. If Elliot would have let me get a word in I would have asked him.
Sitting at a table with the Janet, Ry and Elliot is like entering a skipping rhyme and never getting to the second line "Miss Lucy had a baby / She put it in the ...."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Car for Sale

1995 Opel Astra. Roomy, easy to park. Well maintained. Tinted windows. Good for city driving or excursions into the mountains. Includes 2 child seats. Asking 65,000 NT O.B.O.

House for Rent

My landlady would like to continue renting our house after we leave.

It's 15 a month and sits in the middle of a ridiculously quiet residential street near Zhong Ming Elementary School, 3 blocks from Fairies.

Two stories, 3 bedrooms and 1/2 a bath on the 2nd floor and a spacious back porch. Big Kitchen, good yard, large family room and 4th bedroom on the ground floor. Pantry too!

Big family size fridge also available for a good price.

Let me know if you're interested and I'll arrange a viewing.

The King's Singers

Taichung June 11th 7:30.
Tickets 800 to 1500
Taichung Chung-Shan Hall

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Back in Taiwan

When does the weekly drinking meet up begin at the Fairies?