Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Fan is a Fan is a Fan

After a very normal, boring week of mostly being at home trying to stay cool (not easy, and likely expensive since I used the air conditioner a lot), I finally got a little socialization, beginning Friday. Met up with Kaori and Luke for lunch, and met a new friend, Shuai Feng, adorable little 22-year-old who plays and teaches guitar. After lunch the three of us met up with Kayun and Hiyoshi, hung out until both Kaori and Hiyoshi had to leave to teach Japanese, then the rest of us wandered over to Ximen Ding for mango ice. Luke was desperately trying to find someone to have fun with for the evening, but everyone except me and Shuai Feng had to work. I'd made plans to watch movies with Aaron, and Luke and Shuai Feng tagged along. So we picked up some food and beer and watched Jet Li's "Fong Sai Yuk" together at my place. Luke spent the night again, (and allow me to insert here that it's almost like torture to have a well-built young man running around one's house without a shirt - oh, I think I never mentioned that he spent the night once before, after we stayed up late watching movies. Calm down, he stayed in the spare bedroom, and there's no way I'd be trying to seduce the preacher's son anyway, so just get your dirty little minds out of that gutter.) since there was no way to get back to Taoyuan, and we were up and out the door at 9:30 a.m. Why?

Well, Luke went to Jiu Fen with Long Yan and some others, and I went to go queue in line for a free show featuring Wu Bai & China Blue. Charlene, Xiu Chun, and Shun had gotten there at 9:00 a.m., and there were already other fans camped out, who had arrived at 6:00 a.m. Nat and I made our appearance at 11:00 a.m., and the whole boring routine of queuing began. Thankfully, it was a relatively cool day, we were under some trees, and the shadow of Taipei 101 graciously shaded us from that merciless sun for part of the day. We were at the Taipei World Trade Center, and every time one of the big doors opened to allow the crew in or out, we ran over to catch some of the air conditioning that was flowing out in a blessedly cool stream. When Dino show up he stopped his car, honking and waving at the fans, and after he parked he walked by saying hi to everyone. He's so cool :) Da Mao and Xiao Zhu were dropped off close to the door, but they, too, waved and said hello. I think they truly do appreciate that we're willing to queue for them. I'm sure Wu Bai was hustled in by some back way, surrounding by guard dogs.

This show was a freebie sponsored by Nokia, and before we got to see Wu Bai & China Blue, we had to suffer through eight local bands who were competing for top honors. We also got Zhang Zhen Yue & Free 9 (wish they'd make up their minds, cuz sometimes it's "Free Night") with MC Hotdog, and that was fun. Also the female singer whose last name is Chen who performed with Wu Bai at the concert in 2004. Sorry, I don't like her enough to care what her name is. One of my favorite local bands, Monkey Insane, was one of the contestants, and that was cool. The other groups were OK, a couple decent ones, but the one I thought the worst was the one that ended up winning. Go figure. One band, 孩兒樂隊 (Youth Band), had played at New Year's at Meili Hua. They're the ones who look like girls. The one guy I thought was fabulously beautiful is still that. It's just not fair!

Anyway, we finally got Wu Bai & China Blue, at 9:45 p.m. But....they only played for about 20-25 minutes, and then it was all over, and we'd spent how many hours for that? I just don't think it was worth it, even though every bit of tiredness flees as soon as the guys hit the stage. I don't mind the long wait for a full-on, two- to three-hour concert of just Wu Bai & China Blue, but I'm not sure I'd spend the time doing it again for only 20 minutes. Update 9:30 p.m. As I was thinking back over the show, I remembered one special moment when Wu Bai waved at me. He had come over to our side of the stage for a few seconds, and as he was returning to center stage, he turned around and waved at me. At least, it seemed as if he was waving at me, because he was looking right at me. So, I waved back. Oh, and Nat agrees with me about it not really being worth it to wait so long for so little. She says we're getting too old for this. I think she's right.

I also bought a new refrigerator this week, since the original one I bought was kind of small. I mean, I'm taller than the fridge, and I'm only 5'3". Gah, I think I'm even about as wide as the fridge, but let's not go there. So I got myself a spiffy new model, and I'll stick a photo in here soon to let you all admire it. Now I can take advantage of the sale 7-11 is having, buy three beers and get 21% off. Since they've started carry Guinness and Murphy's Irish Stout, I gotta lay in a stock!

I'm leaving for Hong Kong tomorrow, will be there all week hanging with my homey, Cheryl, and watching movies. Catch ya'll later.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

So, uh, if you know which store sells this product, could you let me know? I kinda need one. Thanks.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Religious Fanatics Frighten Me

Doesn't matter which religion, they're all terrifying. This article gave me creepy-crawly goosebumps all over.

The most frightening thing: they want that to happen. I know; I remember from the days when I was a member in that kind of church.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Well, Yeah, I Do Listen to Music Other Than Wu Bai & China Blue

Taiwan produces a nice crop of musicians, and I've added a lot of music to my collection since I got here. Wu Bai & China Blue will forever remain on the highest of high pedastals, but I also enjoy the following:

Remember my first student, Zhang Guoxi? His band is Mojo, and this is his band's CD, and a right good one it is.

And before Guoxi had Mojo, he had Tolaku! Like so many bands, they broke up when the members had to do their mandatory military service.

Another Taiwan band I like very much, currently working on their new CD, is Monkey Insane. And their guitar player, Joe, will be heading off for his military duty in September or October. Bye-bye Monkey Insane.

The drummer for XL has already gone off for his duty, so that band is also in limbo at the moment. Thankfully, we do have a CD to keep us entertained.

And no, I don't just listen to rock 'n roll. Once in awhile I'll listen to Faith Yang (Yang Nai Wen), who has a marvelous voice, and I'm so hoping that I'll be able to catch her in concert one of these days

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I'm Just a Wu Bai & China Blue Junkie....

It's been my position that Wu Bai's wife deliberately arranges their concert schedule to make sure I won't be able to attend. Sure enough, as soon as I made the decision to enroll at Shi Da University's Mandarin Language Center, classes beginning September 1, the announcement comes that Wu Bai & China Blue will be performing in Singapore on September 2. Do you know for how long my Singapore friends have been asking me to come visit them? And what better excuse than a concert, right? But here's the catch: If I enter Shi Da, then I am applying for a student visa in order to get another ARC. This means I must be in Taiwan for four months straight, studying, unable to leave.

So what does any sane, level-headed woman do when faced with this dilemma? She probably decides that she needs to forgo the trip to Singapore and procede with her plan to enter university. I am obviously neither sane nor level-headed, because I'M GOING TO SINGAPORE TO SEE WU BAI & CHINA BLUE! Ha, take that, Pei Jie. Your sinister plan to keep me away from the greatest band in the world has come to naught. Classes can wait until the Winter Quarter, which begins December 1. Life is for living, and why did I come all the way over to this side of the planet? Why, to be more easily able to attend Wu Bai and China Blue concerts, that's why :) And you know what? If you still have never experienced Wu Bai & China Blue live, you should get your butt in gear and buy the "Li Hai" concert DVD, because it's great, with the added bonus of a nice closeup of yours truly chanting "Wu Bai! Wu Bai!" toward the end of the show. How can you pass that up, huh?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Has it Really Been Seven Years?

Happy Birthday, dear friend! You've gone through so many nicknames since we met: Faijai, Aaron, Sebastian - but you're always simply Aaron to me. Although we've only ever managed to meet in person once, that time you came to California (boy, that was so much fun), we've been good friends no matter how many miles separate us.

I'm waiting for you to come visit me in Taiwan so I can show you all the sites.

MUAH! to you. Love ya always.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gah, I'm too old for this - aren't I?

Monday: Make cheesecake, despite broiling hot day. Curse stupid idea the whole time.

Tuesday 12:30 p.m.: Pack cheesecake into bag, along with chocolate and honeydew melon candy purchased in Hong Kong. Drop goodies off at Kaori/Kayun/Tai Xiong's place. Wait for Luke to show up, go to lunch with Luke and Kaori.

1:30 p.m. Wait for Hiyoshi to show up. Go to coffee with Luke, Kaori, and Hiyoshi.

3:30 p.m. Wait for Kayun to show up. Hang out at coffee shop and then return to Kaori/Kayun/Tai Xiong's place, after stopping at Wellcome (yes, it's spelled like that) for brewskis.

5:00 p.m. Listen to Hiyoshi explain to Long Yan what food is NOT available at the apartment and what to bring.

7:00 p.m. Meet Caroline at MRT station, cruise over to Shi Da Rd. for some guo tie and more beer.

7:30 p.m. Arrive back at Kaori/Kayun/Tai Xiong's place to find that Ye Laoshi and Emily have made an appearance, bearing pizza. Watch Long Yan and Hiyoshi in kitchen preparing some weird stuff, decide pizza looks like a better bet.

8:30 p.m. Meet James at MRT station and head to Wellcome for more beer.

8:30 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. Drink lots of beer, eat lots of food, take lots of blurry photos (, chat and laugh with good friends, wonder why the hell I'm still awake.

Wednesday 3:30 a.m. Attempt to sleep on couch while Kayun, Kaori, Emily, and cute Korean guy whose name I have forgotten keep on with noisy discussion in dining room. Fail miserably at sleep.

5:00 a.m. Wonder why in hell Kayun is cleaning the apartment.

6:00 a.m. Drag sorry ass to MRT station, catch first train back to Zhuwei.

7:00 a.m. Fall into bed with fan and air conditioner on because it's already unbelievably hot. Sleep fitfully for four hours.

11:00 a.m. Get up, make coffee, slowly wake up, vacuum filthy, cat-hair-covered apartment, take shower, go to Taipei and teach for two hours. Return home in time to eat dinner before 8:30 p.m. student arrives.

10:00 p.m. or thereabouts Give up and go to bed.

Thursday 4:00 a.m. Get up because already wide awake. Dink around on computer for an hour. Go back to bed and sleep until around 8:45 a.m.

8:38 p.m. Realize that I had a pretty good time this week, despite lack of sleep and arrival of severe tropical storm Bilis, which at least brought some cooler air to us.

Wonder what Friday will bring me? Will I go to see Pirates of the Caribbean with Luke and gang, or will I be stuck in my apartment because of torrential rain?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How do I turn off my brain?

Every night it's the same. I go to bed around midnight, sometimes a little later, sometimes a little earlier. All night long I toss and turn, sometimes waking up every hour (I know this, because I look at the clock). Every time I wake up, my brain is going a mile a minute, frequently replaying bits of songs, sometimes repeating Chinese phrases, sometimes just thinking about stuff in general. I don't wake up in a blur, like, "Wha....where am I?" but fully conscious and THINKING. Then usually around 5:00 a.m. I sink into two or three hours of heavier sleep before finally getting out of bed. I feel as if I haven't had a good night's sound sleep since I moved to Taiwan - but it doesn't seem to be affecting me adversely. I'm not run-down during the day, I seem to have the normal amount of energy, and I don't fall asleep while teaching my students. That's good, huh? Huh?

My habit in the US was to get to bed by 10:00 p.m., then get up at 4:45 a.m., so I was only getting 7 hours of sleep on the average. Weekends were another matter, and I could cheerfully snore away for 10 or 11 hours. The house was dark at night, because I lived in the mountains. No streetlights outside, just the moon and stars. We're talking dark here, like can't see anything, just gotta feel your way down the hall to the bathroom if you gotta pee. Then there was the silence factor. Magalia was peaceful at night, barring the occasional barking dog. I didn't need to run the fan to drown out noisy upstairs neighbors, just popped in the earplugs and heard nothing the whole night. And I had the most wonderfully comfortable place to sleep - my couch. Ah, how I miss that couch, and what a joy it was to spend a few nights on it again when I stayed at Weiwei's house. This couch cradled me, hugging my ample curves so gently, and not giving me room to thrash around.

So here I have a double bed that is OK for comfort but comes nowhere close to the bliss of that couch. I have light everywhere, 24-7, with never a completely dark night (well, unless a typhoon knocks the power out for a little while, which is rare). I finally got some dark drapes for the bedroom after more than a year without drapes, and that helps, but it's still quite light in there. Even if I use the sleep mask, light leaks in underneath.

So, what's keeping me from sleep? Is it the light? Is it the noise? Is it the bed? Am I just noticing my sleeplessness more now because it's so incredibly hot and I have to have not only the fan but also the air conditioner on at night, both producing background noise? Am I just a statistic in the annals of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services? "Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men."

Maybe I should go to bed even later than I am, because much of the time I don't feel sleepy when I hit the sack, I just figure it's late and I should hie myself off to bed. Perhaps if I stayed up long enough to feel the sleepies creeping up on me, then I'd sleep better. I dunno.

Suggestions welcome, but don't ask me to drink warm milk. I don't care how much tryptophan it has in it, Taiwan milk is just nasty when heated up. Ewww. Hey, wait......chocolate and peanuts also have tryptophan. AHA! The solution is to eat more peanut M&Ms! Eureka, I have found it!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


President George Bush performs John Lennon's "Imagine"

And if that don't make you just break down and cry, I don't know what will.

This discovery comes to you via Tim Carroll's blog, POLITICAL JUNKIES AND CONSPIRACY THEORISTS (

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Some days I'm happy I'm fat.

Huh, Come Again?

"There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service isn't going to go through the Internet and what you do is you just go to a place on the Internet and you order your movie and guess what, you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that Internet and what happens to your own personal Internet?

I just the other day got, an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this Internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes.

We aren't earning anything by going on that Internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discriminate against those people [...]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the Internet." No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time.

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense Internet now, did you know that?

Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people. [...]

Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that stuff on the Internet ought to consider if they should develop a system themselves.

Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day.

It's not using the messaging service that is essential to small businesses, to our operation of families.

The whole concept is that we should not go into this until someone shows that there is something that has been done that really is a violation of net neutrality that hits you and me."

And who mouthed these eloquent words?

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) explained why he voted against the Senate Commerce Committee amendment which would have inserted some very basic net neutrality provisions into a moving telecommunications bill. These provisions would not have prohibited an ISP from handling VOIP faster than emails, but would have made it illegal to handle its own VOIP packets faster than a competitor's. The Committee deadlocked 11 to 11.

If you're brave enough to download the audio file (17:29 minutes long, 9.7M):

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Lucky Lately

Back from Hong Kong, where it was simply sweltering. Ugh. Hot. Not that it's much cooler here, but a couple of degrees C can make a diff.

Last Friday was Luke's birthday (he's an old, old 29), so I spent a few hours hanging out with him, Kaori, Hiyoshi, and Long Yan. We went to a nice dim sum lunch, and then we all went over to Kaori's new place, where we met up with Kayun and Tai Xiong. It's a really nice apartment, and it has a kitchen bigger than anything I've seen in Taiwan! And what a pretty light panel in the ceiling, wow. I'm totally jealous. And here's a picture of Long Yan, Luke, and Hiyoshi kicking back on the couch.

I got to the airport nice and early on Monday. Apparently the flight wasn't very full, because I once again was upgraded to business class! The short-flight business class isn't nearly as impressive as the long haul, though. I only got one glass of champagne, no little goodie bag to take with me, no Godiva chocolate. And the meal was not as tasty, nor was it presented so beautifully. Still, the seats were big and comfy, and the service was as it always is with EVA, exceptional.

Tommy picked me up at the airport, and we listened to Metallica and Scorpions as he drove back into Hong Kong. Kinda cool to have a Chinese friend who digs the old metal music, ha. I tried to convince him to let me pay for the ride, since it's his business, but he wouldn't let me. I didn't have time on this trip to treat him to a nice meal, but next time for sure, both him and Doris.

Doris and I met up at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, first to have a great dim sum meal with her two children, who have grown so big since the last time I saw them! The food was great, although the service was lacking a bit. Poor Doris had to keep flagging down the wait staff, trying to get someone to bring us the food she'd ordered to go for her husband. Finally, everything arrived, and we left, with Doris refusing to let me pay for my share of the food. My friends are all so generous, and it's not easy paying them back for their hospitality!

The kids took off for home, where they would meet up with Dad and then proceed to a demonstration the Hong Kong folks were holding, a protest telling the Chinese government that they wanted their democracy, their right to vote for their Chief Officer. Here's a quote from the news: "Thousands of people marched in central Hong Kong to demand full democracy on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule. Police estimate 19,000 people started the march, but the crowd grew as the demonstrators moved through the city chanting slogans and blowing whistles.
... In 2003 and 2004, half a million or more people joined the march, upset at the weak economy and the government's mismanagement of various issues. But last year after the city's unpopular leader Tung Chee-hwa resigned, the number of participants fell to around 20,000." And to think, there are certain leaders here in Taiwan who would willingly hand Taiwan back to Beijing. Uh huh, then we'd be the ones marching.

Doris and I had a nice trip to Lei Yue Mun, a little fishing village a short ferry ride from Kowloon. It was hot, but there was a good breeze blowing, so every now and then we got cooled off. Too bad we were so full from the dim sum, because there is every kind of fresh seafood you could ever want available in Lei Yue Mun. It's all swimming around in tanks outside the restaurants (and some very large shrimp were attempting an escape from their tank, but were plopped back in by the boss), and you can just pick out what you want cooked, and they'll do it. Next time, maybe.

We then took the ferry over to Hong Kong Island, and Doris took me to the Hong Kong Film Archive, where I bought a book about the Shaw Brothers films and the memoir of Chang Che, one of my favorite directors, both in English! What a great find that was. Then we headed to the shopping mall for some air conditioning and iced coffee. After that, over to Doris's place to wait for hubby and kids to return, then to her mother's home for a marvelous dinner. Wow, her mom is a great cook! Even after I was stuffed, I wanted more. Got back to my room rather late and just kicked back watching the last part of a very stupid movie called Evolution, starring David Duchovny and Dan Aykroyd. Really dumb.

I stayed at a little guest house called the Lee Garden Guest House. The room was miniscule, but very clean, and the air conditioner worked, which was the most important thing. The name of the building in which the guest house is located is quite interesting, the Fook Kiu Mansion. Same to you, buddy.

Sunday I just goofed around, went to the Hong Kong Museum of Art to see The World of the Etruscans exhibit(, along with Auspicious Emblems: Chinese Cultural Treasures - 45th Anniversary Exhibition of the Min Chiu Society ( Both were excellent, but the Chinese art is so much more beautiful. There was a little arts and crafts show outside the museum, but I didn't see anything I wanted to buy. Went over to Harbour City to shop at City Super, but there were so many people that I gave up. Walked around Tsim Sha Tsui until I couldn't take it anymore, went back to the room to rest, went to the jade market, then back to the room for more rest, then hit Temple Street Night Market for awhile in the evening. Went to bed early because it was too hot to keep wandering around, took off early for the airport Monday morning so I could spend time wandering the shops there, got back to my place around 6:00 p.m. DZ was happy to see me.

Back to the normal routine today, and hopefully will get over to Shi Da to sign up for classes this week.