Saturday, November 29, 2008

Which of the following could you buy for a buck?

Mr. Bean's ride - Bought from Bread, and with several various tape enhancements, still performing at peak condition.

Say hello to Andrew. He and his twin brother, Adam, are my students at my house on Fridays. He is sporting a paper New York Yankees cap that he made himself. He also created the scorpanzee. It's like pretty much his favorite animal.

Southern Command Security - Bao Bao on duty.

兆溱豐 - Dumplings

I like dumplings. Steamed dumplings are obviously superior to boiled dumplings in every way. Pot stickers are especially good when you can get them with a slightly crispy skin. There are also broth filled dumplings called Tang Bao as well as a bigger steamed dumplings called 小籠包 (xiao3 long2 bao1). Taipei has the most famous 小籠湯 shop in Taiwan, 鼎 泰 豐 (ding3 tai4 feng1) and my wife got a chance last month to eat at both Taipei locations.

This was convenient for me because I had come across a similar style shop in Taichung, 兆溱豐 (zhao4 qin2 feng1). There are now two in Taichung - one on Wen Shin South road (map) and one in the Dong Hai area. We visited the Wen Shin shop. The story goes that a "master chef" from the Taipei dumpling store came to Taichung and opened his own "McDougal's." With my wife having eaten at the two Taipei locations, I thought she would be able to give me a good comparison of the two. So, off we went.

We were ushered through the first floor which has the kitchen, a shrine to some gods as well as a shrine to the master chef himself. Seated on the second floor looking at the menu, we met our first problem. Traditionally, Tang Bao are smaller dumplings with more broth than the bigger 小籠包. However the menu listed 小籠包 and 小籠湯包 (soup-filled). What? Weren't they all soup-filled? After questioning the waiter and not understanding him, they had to show us pictures so we could understand. Turns out that this place has their own nomenclature. The former was indeed the big, soup-filled dumpling that we wanted. The latter were smaller, no-soup, steamed dumplings that came with a bowl of soup to let you combine the two. Here are some good photos of the 小籠包 ( the first 3 food pics).

The dumplings were very good. My wife thinks they are about as good as the Taipei joint, and most of the Taiwanese bloggers that I've read concur. The prices are a tad cheaper than Taipei, but still, one steamer with 10 dumplings is $150 NT. The rest of the food was nothing special, though my wife thought their chicken soup was also very good.

On the negative side we have their service. When seated, we made up the third table on the second floor - one for each of the servers 5 feet away. They, however, were caught up in the task of filling cups with tea - either for guests who were not yet there or they thought we all wanted forty cups of tea apiece. Their attention did not improve. Additionally, they had a poor selection of side dishes. Most restaurants have an array of side dishes on small plates. When I went to look at their selection I had this conversation with the same waiter who had baffled me and my wife earlier:

Me: You don't have much of a selection, do you?

Server: Oh no! We have a lot! Look!

Me: They're all tofu dishes.

Server: But we have lots (of dishes).

Me: You have lots of plates but only dried tofu or tofu strips.

Server: See! We have lots.

Well, the dumplings were good, and I learned the best way to eat them. I had always just plopped the whole thing in my mouth and chowed down. My wife corrected me. You should first bite a tiny hole in the dumpling skin and let the broth pour into your soup spoon and drink that first. Then you eat the dumpling with ginger strips and vinegar. Definitely the way to do it. Their broth was great. I had been missing out on the chance to enjoy the broth independent of the dumpling for years. Be sure to eat while still hot before it cools and is absorbed into the filling.

We decided we would go back, but only for the 小籠包.

Friday, November 28, 2008

D o n g g u a n

2 weeks after "National Week" holiday......


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Worldmapper has about 600 maps.

Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest.

The top one shows the distribution of Muslims.

The one on the bottom highlights alcohol consumption.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All the Economic Stimulus I Need

Ignore the egg tart. Ignore the other fried shit and the obligatory icy beverage.
That pentagram-shaped puppy right there in the middle is a Szechuan Beef Wrap.
And its pretty damned tasty. For KFC food.
Its really some bastard form of Mexican food, because it comes in a toasted tortilla.
For a long time I have silently thought that China's KFC was far better than Taiwan's KFC.
Now that Ma is president and the Szechuan Beef Wrap is on sale I can finally speak openly of this.
Did I mention this food is Pentagram Shaped?

"36-38-36, that's how you...stuff a wild fair-air-ee!"

I have been holding off on finishing and publishing this post mainly because of laziness, but also because the story is constantly changing. The Taiwan government decided on a stimulus package for the economy last week. $3,600 NT for every Taiwanese citizen, regardless of age. They have decided upon a shotgun stimulation: the $3,600 will be distributed in the form of vouchers, not cash. Use it or lose it.

Originally the vouchers could only be used at retailers, hypermarts and restaurants with business licenses. It only took the sight of a few Mom and Poppers, Street Vendors and Night Marketeers wearing their ball caps and shoulders draped with a rolled towel to prompt them to reconsider. Not that it mattered that much. They still could have received the vouchers as payment. They would not have been able to cash them, but would be able to use them to purchase other things. Even the druggies were prepared. The China Post states that pushers will give $3,000 cash for the $3,600 of vouchers or $3,000 worth of their drug of choice.

Who is eligible? Who knows? What time is it now? My Li Zhang (precinct boss) didn't know. The papers say citizens and those on the authorized household registry are eligible. I am on the registry but not a citizen. Do I get them? Best not to leave it to chance. I have regularly paid my taxes and should get a seat on the (watered-down, black pepper) Taiwanese gravy train. At the very least I think that I should get a mandatory "Thank you" from every citizen unemployed and/or under the age of 18.

How to ensure it? Simple. Protest, threaten, complain. I'm pretty sure that in Taiwan, it's illegal, or at least culturally taboo, to protest without a movement name. During the pre-game to last year's presidential election, there was only one group that Ma Ying-jeou didn't promise scads of money to, or threaten to sleep over at your house for two weeks. That would be students. The current Wild Strawberry Movement protesting the Assembly Law and the police response to the citizens' protest of Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin’s (陳雲林) visit hasn't got a lot of reaction from President Mark Ma as of yet ( Note to students: Go talk to a taxi driver). Fortunately, we are not students now. However, there was one successful "Wild" movement before: the Wild Lily Movement of the 1990's.

So, taking taking the success of the Lilies and in honor of our original base of command in Taichung, I am dubbing this the Wild Fairies Movement. The name alone guarantees success. Either President Ma will don a feather boa and hightail it down to Taichung Park for an after hours "Long Stay" to show his empathy or the legislature will start burning enough incense and paper money to melt Hoth and drown all the Wampas in order to avoid the wrath of the disgruntled deities.

On Saturday, the opposition DPP, dropped their...opposition to the voucher plan and upped the ante. They now want vouchers worth $3,800 - and they want it paid out in cash. [ Aside: Read and appreciate The China Post's renowned "staff's" take down of the DPP's spinelessness. Me very love The China Post - Me very hate Blogger's blockquote function.]

Instead of criticizing the administration of the ruling Kuomintang for creating greater debts for children and further generations, DPP lawmakers now decide to take a free ride on the popular program by coming up with new plans to demonstrate the DPP is much more generous when handing out money to the people. (China Post)

(Me again.) Not positive that it will be enough to secure the esteem of voters, some in the DPP have proposed a tax rebate of $6,000 to each person who has paid income taxes last year, and $4,000 for those who did not. Welcome to Survivor: Hooker Island. Lotsa floosies peddlin' their wares, and you are the john. The only one.

Note: This was started last Friday. As of now, all citizens, temporary (ARC) and permanent (PRC) residents that are listed in the household registry can receive the vouchers. It looks like it will stay at $3,600. They can be used in most places - traditional markets, vendors, moms and pops included. Even though it looks like I will get to sop up some of the gravy, I urge those tax-paying residents who do not have a Taiwanese spouse to carry the Fairy banner and demand yours. Next week, I fully expect to be ciphering my dog's voucher into our budget.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Q i n g d a o

27 days b4 the BIG "O".......
Kinda pales in comparison 2 where we r now?

123 main st.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chinese Andy Rooney

China�s Andy Rooney Has Some Funny Opinions About How Great The Chinese Government Is

These actors are either hoping nobody gets sarcasm in China or they don't visit the Motherland often.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Uni-President Lions of Taiwan lost to the Seibu Lions of Japan yesterday in the finals of the Asia Cup. They lost 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. The Asia Cup is a tournament of the league champs from Taiwan, Japan, Korea and China. They were not even expected to make it to the finals, but did so with a nice 10-4 stomping of the SK Wyverns of Korea. So here are two of my favorite Chinese baseball phrases:

Three up, three down: 三 上 三 下 ( san1 shang4 san1 xia4)

Swing and a miss: 揮 棒 落 空 ( hui1 bang4 luo4 kong1)

Pop at Southern Command told me that the runner who scored the game winning run should have been called out on strikes, ending the inning. Replays showed this to be correct. He then told me the ump was Korean. So here is one more baseball phrase commonly heard, this time in Taiwanese.

Thou hast on excrement 'pon thine eyes ( saved for use on umpires): Li ba zhu hou sai gou diou
I will not attempt to assign tone markers. Ask you Taiwanese buddy how to say it.

下 一 項
Johnny Neihu said in last Saturday's column that " Many have become so disillusioned with our new leader that they have begun shortening his title from Ma zongtong (馬總統, “President Ma”) to matong (馬統), a homonym for “toilet.”
I said the same back in March. Why does it take so long for Taiwanese to come up with good catch-phrases and slogans? When a foreigner is beating you to the punch it is time to re-asses the efficacy of 抗議 to the millionth power. I would have given 壓 扁 阿扁 ( ㄧㄚ ㄅㄧㄢˇㄚ ㄅㄧㄢˇ) - Flatten Ah-Bian to anyone in 2004 for a few Gold Medals.
下 一 項
Why is there so much road construction going on? Anyone? Anyone? Well according the flyer posted outside my house by the Chinese Taichung City Government, it is to install broadband cable as part of Taiwan's program to... here, I'll let them say it: The “M-Taiwan Program” hopes to build Taiwan a “Brave New Mobile World”. It enables people to access multiple ICTs anytime, anywhere — it promises a better M-life.
December is also Information Month in Taiwan. There will be expos in Taipei, Taichung, Kaoshuing and Tainan. Actually the Info Month is from September 29th in Taipei to January 13th in Tainan. Dates for Taichung are December 12-17 at the old Taichung Airport at Shui Nan. Here is the main page with links for all four cities and here is a link with a map and times for Taichung. My Chinese teacher says usually you can only get marginally better prices but the freebies are worth the trip.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hokkien words in Indonesian

Here are some words in Indonesian that come from Hokkien (Taiwanese) roots:

mihun/bihun = rice noodles
sabun = soap
kecoa (pronounced kechoa) = cockroach
diam-diam = shut up

I find the word for cockroach the most interesting. Like they didn't have a word for that bug before the Chinese immigrants arrived? Weird.

Indonesian is one of the most fascinating languages because it has so many borrowed words and roots in it. The classic example is the word for "man"

orang = man or person, coming from the indigenous root.
manusia = mankind, coming from Sanskrit when Hinduism influenced Indonesia
insan = individual, from Arabic with the coming of Islam.

Then they have the loan words from Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, and English.

All in a phonetic language with no tenses and extremely logical grammar.

Okay, I hope that was interesting for somebody. I didn't know about some of those Hokkien root words until today and thought I would share.

Now, as the Taiwanese say, "Bye bye"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Tonka XVI issue, vol 15

Paving our way 2 a better 2morrow...

shoe phones?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

S M L 2

Room, patio and lake :)

cone of silence...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Single Malt Health Care

Scotch Whisky and Prescriptions...


Friday, November 07, 2008

So I was reading the Taipei Times

and they had an article about a DPP politician warning Ma andthe KMT about how bad the Communists are.



So, in 2008, the left-leaning party in Taiwan must warn the historically extremely anti-communist KMT about the dangers of communism.

I have only two characters to say:


Construction Hell

They are building a pedestrian footbridge across the canal near my house.

This footbridge will serve no purpose, because it will connect a small row of townhouses to a few apartment buildings.

There is already a perfectly fine bridge about 50 meters away that would get pedestrians to the store or park faster than the footbridge would.

I guess kids can go stand on it and drop things into the canal.

That is not worth the week of jackhammers, the cuttting down of fine shade tress to make space for the bridge, the blocking of the sidewalk, and I really have to mention this again: JACKHAMMERS. SUPER LOUD, SUPER BIG JACKHAMMERS. Just started today, so I am sure they will be working all week-end.

And this helps the neighborhood chief show he cares and gets him re-elected.

Cleaning out my notebook

Two Theories

Many have heard Warren Buffet's quote from a 2004 letter to the shareholders, "They (investors) should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."

But have you heard of the Lean Goose Theory (瘦鵝理論)? This comes from Wang Yung-Ching (王永慶), founder of Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團), who passed away in October. During World War II, a young Wang would buy less expensive, hungry, lean geese and use discarded vegetable scraps and and broken bits of rice kernels to feed them. By using what was not wanted at the time and waiting patiently, he was able to produce stronger and heavier geese than the better looking geese who were less motivated to continue to grow. This was to be one of his guiding principles as he became Taiwan's first mega-tycoon and the God of Management.


I wanted to write extensively about the Tech game but instead used my time watching every clip and reading every article I could find about the game. D-Wayne and I decided to watch it live and cheer on Tech at an Internet cafe. Imagine my surprise as I was waiting outside for him to see him pull up wearing an orange t-shirt. However, I countered his unintentional bad mojo with my Tech hat, socks, shirt and boxers. My nervousness and 4 cups of "breakfast" had me shaking like Charo on the casting couch for 4 hours. And then, it was over. We shed our past of coming up short, of not being able to finish. Not this time. We won this game and regardless of what happens next, Tech has cleared a very large psychological barrier.

My favorite off-the-field action came courtesy of a Longhorn alum, Matthew McConaughey. The shot of his expression while walking down the sidelines to the exit was priceless and also cemented his position as the biggest (non-paid) celebrity to leave Lubbock disappointed.


To President-elect Obama. I don't support all of any president's policies but I always support our president. For what's next, two words (please turn universal translator to Bidenese): Welcome Back, Carter.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bits and Pieces

First off, congrats to John and his boys. It was a remarkable game on so many levels. That UT was even in the game in the game in the fourth quarter was unbelievable. TTech outplayed them and deserved victory. I think McCoy will be dreaming of #93 in his kitchen for a long time.

Second off, congrats to Obama and all my friends who voted for him. You have been given a unique opportunity -- don't fritter it away like Clinton did. Redefine what mainstream America is and I just may come back to the fold of the Democratic Party for the first time since 1992. You can start by doing away with the Clintonian measure Don't Ask, Don't Tell and proceed to challenge our nation to lead the way in renewable energy like JFK did with the space program. We are happy to work toward a common goal, we just have to believe in it.

Thirdly, Denise Juneau was elected to be in charge of Public Schools in Montana. Why is this important? Because she will be the ONLY Native American Woman to hold statewide office in the nation. Her opponent referred to her as "that Indian girl" in radio ads and consistently tried to belittle her as incompetent because she had only worked in the Indian Education for All program here in Montana. Yeah, those Harvard grads are notoriously incompetent, especially her Uncle Ray Cross...

Finally, I'm not gonna lie. I shed a few tears tonight. Watching the scene unfold was beautiful, even if I didn't vote for Obama. As they panned the streets of NY, Chicago, and Oakland and showed so many faces eager to be led, looking forward with hope, and ready to accept Obama's challenge, I was moved. Not just in reflecting upon from where we've come, but also into looking at where we are going. Sappy? Sure, I can accept that. Maybe for those of you not currently in the United States it was easier to look with a more lucid eye. For me, that eye was blurry.

It is...



I would suggest taking a nice long vacation, now. Or a staycation, because he probably doesn't want to see another plane or bus for a while.

By the way, if you bought this T-Shirt, it spells his name wrong in Chinese. (see below.)

UPDATE: I had a suspicion about 奧巴馬 and sure enough, this is how the Hong Kong papers transliterate Obama's name. The mainland Chinese also use the same transliteration 奥巴马.

Y i w u

middle of BFE.......


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It just popped up!

"IT" eats and speaks, Surprise!! Other than that the article was good.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pumpkin Carving at my House

This pumpkin was then cooked with those tiny white fish that look like maggots. Bu-la-hee.