Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
- The river we row in is pretty dirty, and when rowing correctly, we are practically half IN the water. So we get wet from the river.
- It's really hot here. We wake up early in the morning, but it's already hot out. And we work hard, so we're sweating A LOT.
- The boat is painted like a dragon, naturally, but in our furious rowing, we chip paint all over the place. It's kind of fascinating how long little flecks of blue paint can stick to a person. I sit at my desk at work, after showering, redressing, and spending six hours outside of a dragonboat, and I still have blue paint on myself.
It's also hard not to give up. There are about 33 dragonboat teams in our races. But we only see about the three best teams out on the river with us. We've started to scrimmage and we haven't won a scrimmage yet. It's kind of sad, but we're trying not to give up. We'll at least go up against teams that haven't really practiced.
Monday, May 26, 2008
This entry is a weird one. The place I take Chinese classes also has afterschool-type classes for young learners, where they do arts and crafts or get homework help. Unlike cram schools, they don't actually seem to want to push kids PAST the point that their public school classes are going (which I sincerely appreciate). But here's some of the kid artwork that is lining the entranceway of the building.*
I think this one should be titled "Why Dodgeball Was Outlawed in East Brunswick School Systems" (where I grew up... after Columbine, our school couldn't do archery or play dodgeball, it would apparently make us violent)
This is my favorite. I think this is a cram school, because there are textbooks for every school subject on the shelf. And I do believe that the center figure, notable for her burning aura and blonde hair, is a foreign teacher. Yay us! (Please note young man flipping off the teacher)
*- I have no context for knowing if these are things that happened, worst nightmares, or what. But they seem pretty realistic interpretations of some of the stress I see these poor kids going through.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I officially have no idea how I lasted through August and September without melting. It's only three days into it being kind of hot here and I feel dead. Yesterday, if I turned on the air conditioner, I could muster the energy to read. Otherwise, it was best to just lie on the tile floor and wait for the sun to go down. Or for it to rain. Or for the weather to magically change into a nice temperate May day at home.
But without magic, all I've got is my suh luh bing. That's right, your favorite summertime treat.... slurpees. Literally, the name translates to something like "means happy frozen." And it does make me happy and beats the heat for a few minutes. Also, as opposed to the remarkably wonderful snowflake ices or other famous ice cream, slurpees are CHEAP here. A 9 oz slurpee for the US equivalent of 30 cents. (Yes, I just now noticed that they're labeled in ounces here. Weird.)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
But the practicing has been going well. Our coach speaks only Chinese, and is kind of a grizzly teddy bear of a coach. And we haven't had the same team on any one day of practice so far. But we're learning. One of our runs this morning actually yielded a "very good" from our coach, even though it wasn't even half the length of the race (400 meters total). I have overcome my tyrannosaurus-rex proportions and have a new, powerful, though slightly awkward and "uh so I'm dangling off the boat", posture. It's kind of entertaining.
And today, I totally flaunted my "guns" (aka rippling biceps) to some of the competition (see the picture of the team here). And they told me I should switch to their boat. I bet it's more about me being cute than about me being the super powerful rower that I am.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I love the Taipei Zoo. I love most zoos, almost as much as my boyfriend does, but I seriously love the Taipei Zoo. It has outstanding visitor services (free bug spray, cheap vending machines, even provides toilet paper in its unusually clean bathrooms!) and has some really lovely animals. So this weekend, since I didn't have anything else inspiring to do, I planned an early morning trip to the Zoo. Unfortunately, the Zoo only opens at 9, but I still got to see the animals doing their morning frolic.
And most importantly, I got to see monkeys! (hou zi!) I love monkeys. I think I should go back to school to get lots of degrees in biological anthropology and primate morphology, so that someone someday will pay me to look at monkeys all day. But here's what I saw at the Zoo!
Here are the white-faced gibbons. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a decent shot of their baby. What was really awesome, but blogger won't let me upload, about the gibbons was that they were calling like crazy in the morning. I'm pretty sure they were calling to some of the other primates in the zoo!
And the siamangs. There were three of them and they were calling to each other too. You can see the big sack under their throats, which helps them be louder. They had an interesting vocal range, too. Send me an email and I'll send you the audio clips:)
(Not the brightest bulb on the tree, I just realized I wouldn't hit 50 Weekly Mandarin entries. :sigh: )
Monday, May 12, 2008
This one is out of order, sorry. But I forgot that I had selected a Weekly Mandarin for week 39, but slacked terribly in posting it.
Before it gets painfully hot, most elementary schools host a kind of field day event for their students. Usually, these are just little weekend events at the school's campus, where the kids do a their bi-weekly workout dance together and run races. But, because my school at the time had more students than the high school I attended, it was in the local soccer stadium.
It was MESMERIZING to watch over 2,000 children do roughly the same dance at the same time (the younger students have a simplified form of the dance). And the kids more than filled the soccer field they were placed on.
My job for the day was to sit in the stands and watch their little backpacks. Challenging, I know. But I'm a Fulbright Scholar;) But luckily, the art teacher I've become friends with brought her son to practice his English on. And his wide range of knowledge related to... the Yan Ki Shi.
This kid knew his baseball inside and out. He knew facts about different players, and the logos of the teams, and probably learned all of his US geography (because Taiwanese students learn some of that, unlike American students) relative to baseball teams. But this kid was a rabid Yankees (Yan Ki Shi) fan. He absolutely went above and beyond the usual "I'm from Taiwan and so is Wang Chien Ming, so you bet I'm a Yankees fan" thing. Beyond watching the YES channel with Mandarin subtitles. This kid was like Raymond from the Rainman as far as baseball trivia was concerned. We had a great time.
Yes, within a few days, I'm hoping to replace that plain blue baseball cap with a proper Yankees cap. (Thanks to my Dad!)
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I'll be racing in the Dragon Boat Festival, so I'll give you step-by-step coverage of exactly what it takes to race. This is part one in the series.
Naturally, before racing your dragon boat, you need to wake up your dragon and pray that it will keep you safe. Let me walk you through the ceremony:
... and your chicken.
2. Have a priest spit water on the dragons.
(As you can see from the angle of this picture, I was absolutely in range for the spit. Mmmmm)
3. Pretend to kill your chicken. Then rub its head on the eyes and mouth of your dragon.
(Return chicken to cage.)
4. Have someone important paint the middles of the dragon's eyes.
(Don't get intimidated by the competition...raaaarrrr. He's not scary, he's just confused what on earth a handful of foreigners are doing here. Actually, the foriegners team traditionally does VERY well. No pressure.)
5. Push the boat into the water for it's maiden voyage of the year.
(First practice is tomorrow, at 6 AM! I'll keep you updated on our progress.)
Earthquakes (di jhen) scare me. Having never had one growing up, they're even worse. Living on the 13th floor of an apartment building, they're eeeeeven worse. And when they wake me up in the middle of the night to the sense that someone is shaking my bed... yeah, you get the point.
Last night, at 3:45, we had a di zhen. The center was about 65 miles from where I live, and the magnitude on the Richter scale was 5.6. It wasn't my first quake, but it was my scariest so far mostly because it was late and I was home alone.
But, I suppose the earthquakes and typhoons are just part of the once-in-a-lifetime aspect of living here. Consider me pretty much ready to go home now.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
But we had one kid who reveled in a word he'd learned somewhere else, and instead of U-uh-umbrella, we got:
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Boyfriend!! Brian came to visit last week, so last week's word is boyfriend!!
We had a lot of fun. We went to...
hot springs (where Brian loved the doctor fishies)
school (which was much like visiting the zoo)
Taroko Gorge (where we hiked SO many steps)
the ZOO! (which was a wonderful, if very hot, free choice learning environment)
a dancing club
and a REALLY nice hotel.
It was great:)