Tuesday, August 31, 2004

End of August notes

An Olympic moment:
  • A belated "Hooray" for the ROC/Taiwan/Chinese-Taipei (whatever you want to call it, as long as you don't call it China) Olympic team. Taiwan got its first gold medals ever--two of 'em! Congratulations to Chen Shih Hsin and Chen Mu Yen of the Taekwondo team!
  • I'm still waiting for China to claim credit for those gold medals, or press the Olympic Committee to retract them, or...

And on another note:
  • Does anyone know how I can find a copy of a book titled Arts, Literature, Philosophy in Taiwan, by John Deeney, S.J., and Jean Lefeuvre, S.J.? The publication information I have on it is "Hsinchu, 1968," which suggests Fu Jen University, but their library catalog doesn't list it.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Hmmm... maybe democracy is dead after all...

News from the folks back home: A couple of weeks ago, Emperor Bush II spoke to some of his subjects at Hedgesville High School in West Virginia. A man named Glenn Hiller was there and called out some "pointed questions" to Bush about Iraq. Hiller was fired the next morning from his job at Octavo Designs in Frederick, MD. I found an article about this situation here. According to the article, Octava got some tickets to the speech from a client and the client was "embarrassed and offended" by Hiller's actions. Hmmm... I'm embarrassed and offended by Bush's actions--does that mean I can fire him?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Notes on the weather and diabetic dogs

So far it doesn't seem like Typhoon Rananim is going to have much of an effect around here. It looks like it'll be affecting the north more. We did have pretty heavy rains last night, though; my wife and I were driving home from the vet, where we left our dog Mei-mei so she could get her kidneys inspected. Mei-mei has had diabetes for the last 6 months or so (*sniff*) and we were worried that her kidneys might have some problems recently. (The good news, as of today, is that her kidneys are OK.)

I have some "pre-diabetic" pics of Mei-mei up here (they'll open in a new window). She has lost a lot of weight since she got sick--went from 38 kg to 18 in just a few months. But her spirits are high, despite having to get insulin shots every day and despite losing her eyesight to cataracts (and developing glaucoma). She's taught us a lot about dealing with adversity, though. I guess that's her purpose in life right now.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Last night I finished reading The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, and I must admit I haven't yet figured out what Isabel Archer is going to do (or has done) at the end of the novel. I think I need to reread the last portion of the book a little more closely.

What I really find interesting--disturbing, actually--is that my first reaction upon finishing the novel and experiencing confusion about the ending was to say to myself, "I guess I'll have to surf the Web tomorrow to see what interpretations people have about the ending." Even more horrifying was my second thought: "Wonder if they've made a movie of this?" (I see they have.)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

In praise of Taichung's DMW

We foreigners often like to complain about things in Taiwan--I do this a lot, negatively comparing institutions here with those in the U.S. But one government organization that I've never had any reason to complain about is the local Department of Motor Vehicles. Every time I go there to get my license renewed (now it's every two years due to new regulations [hmm... that sounds like the prelude to a complaint, but I'll let it go]), it takes me less than five minutes to get in, pay my NT$200 renewal fee, and get my new license. Compare that with the time I've spend in DMVs in West Virginia, Ohio, and New York--in those places, sometimes you end up waiting in line for hours even when there's no one in front of you!

The staff at the Taichung DMV on "Big Stomach Mountain" (大肚山) have never snarled at me, either, like some of the folks in U.S. DMVs have when I've interrupted their reveries to renew a license or otherwise make them do work. Back when I got my Taiwan license (in 1993), they even let me take a different color-blindness test after I failed the first one (couldn't see the numbers among all those little colored dots). For the second test, I just had to identify whether a light was red, green, or yellow--a much more practical test, in my view. (Don't let it frighten you that there's a color-blind driver on the streets of Taichung. From what I can tell, I'm not the only one.)

So say what you want about Taiwan's bureaucracy--I know of at least one place where things are going right.