Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Earthquake Day!

I'm just quietly sitting here doing homework, and my whole room starts to shake, and it keeps on shaking, much more than what I normally feel. I fire off a message to Kayun, "Wow, big earthquake!" She replies, "Thought I was going to die, still feels like it's shaking." About five minutes later, along comes another one. This time I get a call from Kayun. She's kinda freaked, because she's on the 11th floor and feeling it much more than I am. I just checked the website, but all they have listed now is the one that happened earlier today in Taitung, down to the southeast. It wasn't very big, just 4.6.

Just got the update on the website. The one I felt at 8:26 p.m was in the ocean off the very farthest southern tip of Taiwan, in Hengchun. It was 6.7 magnitude (and some reports say 7.2) and was felt in just about every part of the island, which is not usual. The second one, at 8:34 p.m., was very close to Kaohsiung, also at the southern tip of Taiwan, and it was 6.4. That one wasn't felt as strongly up here in the Taipei area, but enough to make us take notice! From what folks are posting on the message board, it hit pretty hard in Kaohsiung, even knocking out cell phone service.

Wednesday morning update: Five quakes in all yesterday, four of them last night and in the south and one in the afternoon on the east coast. The two later ones in the south didn't shake the north, being at 5.2 and 5.5. I've only been able to access Yahoo! news, nothing written locally yet, but at least one person died in Pingtung when the house collapsed. Sounds as if there was extensive damage in that area and a lot of fires, disruption of phone service, etc. Not a very nice Christmas gift for folks here. At least the feared tsunami heading for the Philippines faded out before causing even more damage.

Taiwan is a very small island, but the quakes were still about 260 miles away from me. Feeling that much shake here makes me really glad I wasn't anywhere near the epicenter. I was very happy to hear from Sharrie that she and her family were OK (she lives in Pingtung).

Wednesday afternoon update: At 10:30 a.m. today another 5.9 quake hit, 42km west of Pingtung, out in the ocean. The Taipei Times reports about last night's quakes: Phone lines and power were cut in many areas of southern Taiwan. At press time, reports were filtering in detailing the damage and TV footage showed rescue workers attempting to locate people suspected to have been buried in rubble. The quakes knocked down two apartment buildings in Hengchun, burying 11 people in the rubble. At press time, the body of a man had been recovered and four people rescued, while six people were still trapped. One of the reactors at the nearby Third Nuclear Power Plant was briefly shut down because of a malfunction, apparently in connection with the earthquake. Cracks in the Kaoping Bridge -- which connects Kaohsiung and Pingtung cities and is part of a major transport artery -- appeared in the wake of the earthquakes, sparking concerns of another collapse of the structure. The bridge collapsed in 2000, injuring 22 people, because of poor maintenance.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Hallo everyone! I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, and of course a very Happy New Year. As happy as I am here, I do miss my friends back in the US, and I'm sorry I can't share the holiday cheer with you in person.

I'm also sorry I haven't been writing much lately, but there just hasn't been anything to tell. I've been going to school every day, doing lots of studying and homework, doing language exchange two days a week, and spending some time with my friend Kayun, who will be leaving in January to go back to Korea. I'm going to miss her a lot, so I'm taking advantage of what little time she has left here in Taiwan. My three-day-a-week student, Kitty, is in China this month, so I'm only teaching Funck on Wednesday evenings, not making any money at all :( Boo hoo. I don't want to find new students, though, because I need my own time to study. Jennifer, the three-hours-on-Sunday student, should start up again in January, and Kitty will (hopefully) be done with her family's business stuff in China and be back in January, too.

Tomorrow I'm having a Christmas party, starting at 2:00 p.m. and going on until we get tired of partying. I really don't know how many people will show up, maybe only a few, but I made tiramisu for the first time ever, and I have a Kahlua cake, too. I discovered that it's danged expensive to make tiramisu in Taiwan. The savoiardi cost me $6US, the mascarpone cost $9, and the amaretto (should probably have gotten cognac, but I'll drink amaretto as a drink and I won't drink brandy, so cognac it is) was $16. Of course, that bottle should make quite a few batches of tiramisu :) I hope it tastes good, because I didn't spend the $18 for real Italian espresso like the recipe said I should use. I just used plain old Barista Seattle Espresso blend. The recipe was cute, it actually says: Make the espresso and poor it into shallow flat-bottomed bowl. Add one shot of cognac, one teaspoon cocoa, and allow to cool to room temperature. If at this point you've decided to use coffee instead of espresso, take the coffee you've made and drink it. Then make espresso.

I just made some spaghetti sauce, too, not real sauce, just using Classico jarred stuff (it's really not too bad) and adding ground beef, onions, loads of garlic, mushrooms, green pepper, and red wine. However.....I have a feeling that bottle of red wine made the change to something resembling vinegar over the last 10 months that it's been in my fridge. The sauce smells a little strange, and it doesn't taste quite right. Oops, guess next time I'd better taste the wine before dumping it in. It's edible, though, just not super great, bit of a tart tang to it. Good thing I was only making it for me and not to serve at the party!

Let's see, anything else? Well, DZ has gotten a bit chubby since her operation. I guess it's partially being spayed and partially bulking up for winter. Not that we actually have winter.....the temperature has been quite nice, around 68-75 during the day, but a bit chilly at night. It's still not as cold as last year was, and some days I don't even wear my jacket in the afternoons. The Taiwan folks are all bundled up in ski jackets, and I'm in shirtsleeves. They must think I'm nuts. But I have a nice big layer of fat to keep me warm, and they don't.

The Taiwan postal service is pretty good. My dad sent a Christmas card, and he didn't write my actual street on the envelope, but they found me anyway. Probably not that many foreigners living in Zhuwei, they could figure out the street from the alley and lane numbers.

Last week I had a notice in my box that I had a parcel at the post office. I was all excited, thinking "Christmas present!" so I headed to Danshui Sunday morning to pick it up (yeah, they're open on Sunday, can you believe it?). The weather was beautiful, so I walked along the river to the post office. Sadly, it was not a Christmas present. It was a free gift from Hinet for upgrading my ADSL service. Unfortunately, it was a handy little device to help one learn English. Not exactly what I need. I think I'll give it to one of my friends - regift!

Yesterday I needed to apply for the next semester of school in order to get my visa extension. My visa is only good until January 2, so I have to go to the police station next week for sure. The school told me I had to wait until 12/21 to apply, so in the morning I picked up the forms. The assistants at this school aren't nearly as friendly and helpful as the gals at CLD were. The one who gave me the forms yesterday never smiles at all, always looks like she's sucking on a lemon. I told her I'd bring the forms back in the afternoon, so Ye Ying and I stopped at the counter after lunch, before our language exchange. That little bitch looked at my form and said, "The teacher needs to fill out this part." Well, you twit, why the hell didn't you tell me that this morning??? It was too late to catch my teacher, she was teaching another class, so I had to wait for this morning. Now I have to wait until Wednesday to get the confirmation letter from the school. That's just cutting it too close for me, and there had better not be any problems, or I'm gonna strangle that twerp.

I guess I've rambled enough now. Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Love the Faster Internet Connection!

Wow, I finally decided I'd had enough of trying to watch jerky videos, so I switched over to a faster connection. And that means that I can upload vids of my own to YouTube. This weekend has been spent uploading a lot of A.B.S. videos, and one Wu Bai & China Blue one. I have a lot more to do, but even with a fast connection it requires hours of time, which I don't have. So, check frequently or, better yet, subscribe so you'll know when new videos have been posted. But for now, please drop in and check out A.B.S. at My Videos at YouTube

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Came Early

This post is a big "THANK YOU!" to some really cool friends in the US who made me smile this week.

I arrived home on Wednesday to find an attempted delivery notice in my mailbox that had been left on Tuesday, but I didn't have time to go to the post office to pick up my package. Most of the mail I get at home is junk advertisements stuffed in by the locals, and I sometimes don't bother to use the key to open the box, just peek in through the wide slot at the junk. Alice had said she was sending something, so I assumed it was that, figured I'd grab it Thursday. Not long after I got home, the security buzzer rang, and I answered, expecting my student. But it was a guy from the post office, with a large box.

To my delight the box was from Romita, and it was filled with three bags (three!!) of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a box of sinfully fattening Orville Redebacher's Movie Theater Popcorn, a few packages of taco seasoning, some Del Taco hot sauce, and some lemon and rum extracts. I've been thinking about tacos a lot lately, and now all I need is shells (and I know where I can get 'em) to start munching. Thanks Romita!

Just a few minutes later the bell rang again, but once again it wasn't my student, it was another post office guy! So, I made the trip downstairs again to get another package, this one from Alice. Huh? Then what's at the post office? A surprise, I guess.

Alice made me the cutest calendar you can possibly imagine. I'm going to have to take some photos of it and post them, because it's just adorable. Of course there are some photos of Wu Bai in it, but also some kitty pictures and some really cute cartoons. I love it! She also sent a bright holiday dish towel and a Santa ornament, that I have hanging up in the living room. Since she'd told me she was going to mail something, I'd asked her to get me some denim iron-on patches for my jeans, and she sent me three packs of those. Just in time, because my pants weren't safe to wear, as they were ready to sprout holes in an unfortunate place. Amazing what friction can to do cloth.... Thanks Alice!!

So, Thursday I didn't manage to get home until after 5:00, so no trip to the post office. But I went yesterday and found a package from Carol in New Hampshire, and she'd sent me some NH honey and maple syrup (the real deal)! That stuff is pretty expensive here, so I don't buy it, so getting some as a gift is truly nice :) French toast on the horizon, along with peanut-butter-and-honey toast for breakfast. Thanks Carol!!

Edit on 12/17/06: And another "thank you" to Maddy for the beautiful candle set that arrived Saturday afternoon. I love them so much!

Now, all my friends know that I'm incredibly lame when it comes to Christmas shopping, and normally I manage to get gifts out sometime in January. Don't think this year will be any different, because it won't be. But I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Three Seconds of Fame

Charlene kindly pointed out to me that I have the longest "exposure" in the latest music video from Wu Bai and China Blue, Cherry Lover. That footage was shot at the autograph session on November 5, and is my tattooed ankle, then the back of my custom-made t-shirt, then the front. No face, which is fine with me. The footage at the beginning was shot at The Partyroom during the two shows I attended in October, and I get split-seconds glimpses of me, Nat and Charlene, Xiao Niu, and others I recognize, but the picture isn't very clear. If you'd like to watch the video, here's the link:

Yesterday Dino talked me into to going to the Simple Life music festival today. It's going to be freezing cold, and I may be sorry, but I'm going. Eason Chan, a Hong Kong singer I like, is also performing. Wu Bai & China Blue are the last act, of course.

Blogger is having issues. Buttons for uploading photos have vanished. No way to format font, no way to edit HTML. Hope they fix it soon....this seems to happen frequently.