Saturday, August 25, 2007

Time Flies as Fast as a Weaver's Shuttle

歲月如梭 - that's a Chinese idiom for "time flies." And that's how the days are going by now, as quickly as the shuttle flying along the strands of threads as the weaver makes her cloth. My lessons have a fixed pattern: Monday we begin a new chapter in the book, and by Wednesday we've covered all the new words and then some. On Thursday we have a 聽寫, a test that's basically taking dictation (my prior experience taking notes at meetings helps with this one because I first scribble the words in pinyin and then write them in Chinese), and on Friday we have a test on the whole chapter. I'm going to continue to toot my own horn by saying that for each test I've scored the highest in class (teacher doesn't give a numerical score for the dictations, but I've done well on those, too). I rock. We had our fourth test yesterday, and I think I did pretty good, have to wait until Monday to find out. If Joe or De Ming gets a higher score, it's only because they cheat when the teacher leaves the room, using their dictionaries in their cell phones to look up words! Damn, I hate cheaters, I really do. I sit behind them, and I'm so tempted to smack 'em both with my umbrella.

So almost every day when I get home, I'm dragging out the dictionary to look up stuff the teacher taught us, to be sure I understood her explanation. I'm making tons of sentences using the new words and phrases to see if I really get it. I'm writing scads of characters over and over to burn them into my memory. And I'm writing one composition per week, which isn't easy when I have no inspiration, like this week. They're coming back to me with very few corrections, which gladdens my heart, as it means I'm actually learning something. I wrote my longest one week before last, almost 1,000 characters. Is it any wonder my right hand hurts like a sonofabitch most of the time? This is worse than any carpal tunnel syndrom could ever be! Well, OK, maybe not, but it's still hell on the old hand. Right now, just after this little bit of typing, my right pinky is totally numb and the ring finger isn't far behind.

Last weekend Super Typhoon Sepat came calling, but it was a tempest in a teapot up in my area. Although it battered other parts of the island and vegetable and fruit prices are now nice and high, I barely saw any rain and had hardly any wind here. The best thing is that the weather has been cooler (just a little) since then, especially in the evenings. I had to use the air conditioning a lot more this year than I did last year during July, and I don't really want to see my bill when it comes in September!

Still plugging away at the diet and have managed to lose a total of 7.9 kg (17.5 lbs) now. That's still 3.6 kg (8 lbs.) more than I was when I got here two years ago, and it's also 8.7 kg (just about 20 lbs.) more than I was back in November 2004! Crap. Why is it so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it? My fruit-selling family vanished on me, taking away my extremely convenient buy-it-on-the-way-home method, so I haven't been eating as much fruit as I should. Now I have to go over to the busy and congested street for fruit, so I often just blow it off because I don't want to deal with the crowds and the cars that keep trying to run over me. I'm gonna make a fruit run today, though. And my Kashi Go-Lean cereal, that I was able to buy last time for about $3US because the store had it on sale, is now costing $7US! Uh uh, no way, I'm not paying that, it's hard enough to pay $5US for Kellogg's Just Right Mueslix. Why is it that fattening food is so cheap and anything healthy costs the earth?

I'm looking forward to the next four months. In September Taka is coming with her family from Singapore, so I'll get to see her briefly, probably just long enough to hand over some Wu Bai merchandise Angela ordered. There's also a possibility that my former stepson, Chris, will be coming. He's in the Navy now (amazing), currently in the Gulf, and he said they're coming to Taiwan for a week. But, he doesn't know exactly where in Taiwan they're going. And now I'm not sure he's actually coming to Taiwan, because his last e-mail said "everyone I work with that has been to Hong Kong says its a blast there so I am looking forward to it." Perhaps he's not sure just where Taiwan is, I dunno. (Edit later same day. Yup, he thought I lived in Hong Kong, said he's sure that's what his dad told him, and despite at least five e-mails that talked about him going to TAIWAN. Kinda worries me that this boy is in the Navy.) Also in September is Aaron's return from England, right around Mid-Autumn Festival (which means a day off school).

October gives me another day off school, right before the end of the semester, and brings me my trip to Japan mid month and then the Wu Bai concert at the end of the month. It will hopefully bring Carol, too. Slight chance of Cheryl also being able to make a stopover on the way back from a training seminar in Korea.

November has the Wu Bai concert on the 3rd, because Thanksgiving is meaningless here as I can't possible cook a turkey dinner. But I will probably make a pumpkin pie, so all is not lost. This month might also see the return of Guoxi from his airline pilot training in Australia. He'll be back either October or November, I'm pretty sure. He can't wait, says the food in Australia sucks and he misses Taiwan food.

December - another Wu Bai concert! This one is bringing some Singapore fans over, which is always a treat. So far Lee Ying and Lee Yang, David and Tona are for sure. Angela, Taka, Vynson, and Nicole are possibilities. I hope they can all make it. That show is my Christmas present to myself.

OK, I'm stopping before my hand gives out completely. I have to save it for the Chinese writing I'll be doing later. Bye now.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Everything is Swell

Got my report card from last semester - 92%.

Got my visa extended with no problems, good through Oct. 19.

Neither of the two typhoons that were headed this way caused any problems for us, just a lot of rain in certain places and a bit of cooler air (not much).

That's all I have time for now!

Monday, August 06, 2007


OK folks, you're not going to see much of me for the next three months. Last week was the first week of the new semester - I got the strictest teacher in the school. We had two tests last week - two! But ha, I got the highest score in class, high five me! However, I'm hitting the books at lot harder this time, and I'll be spending loads of time studying and writing, so I won't be playing around on the computer. If something significant comes up, I'll write about it. If my stress level gets out of hand, I'll write about it. Otherwise, it may just be a stray post here and there, sorry.

Best news is that Wu Bai & China Blue are having four more concerts this year, and I'm going to two of them. Related to that is the fact the Carol will most probably come over for the shows, too (won't you?), and that makes me very happy. I'm dying to have friends from abroad come and visit, but so far only Ranger Steve and Cheryl have taken advantage of my hospitality.

That's all for now, gotta go keep practicing writing characters (which is also making my right hand very, very, very sore, another reason I'm not typing much).

Ta for now!