Sunday, November 26, 2006


I like birds. They are fascinating animals. But they aren't my kind of pet. I'm a normal pet person: cats and dogs, which can be housetrained, among other advantages. (This is a problem with finding homes for exchange students who are allergic to animals, they can't stay at my house, and sometimes can't even visit.) In large cities, dogs can be a problem, so birds and cats are more popular. I think birds are more popular in Asia than in the US.

Given that most English speakers are tourists, why is this sign in English?
May I bring my Irish Wolfhound on the bus?

I don't have an Irish Wolfhound, which is the largest breed of dog. I have a Brittany who, at 8 1/2 years old, has enough energy for most larger dogs. Checkers (who was not a bribe), in her zeal for squirrels, sometimes gets stuck.

I also had a cat, Critter, who died just short of her 20th birthday.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A travelogue

I hate travelogues. They are boring.

This is Sun Moon Lake. It is the place to go during the Autumn Harvest Moon Festival. So of course, we went there. It got really crowded at night when it was the place to go to watch the fire works. Our driver found a parking place by moving several of those obnoxious scooters and arguing with the lady whose business he was parking in front of.

Sun Moon Lake is the green jade color if the first photograph. I'm going to guess it is because of iron in the lake, but I am probably wrong. Being just over 50 years old, I'm not embarrassed about being wrong any more. I love the mistiness of the mountains around the lake. It would be very easy to make a quilt like that. It is on the to do list, behind many other pressing projects. (And above the ironing)

The dock is the view from the restaurant where we ate lunch. It was a really wonderful restaurant! I wish I knew the name. If you are ever in an unknown town (counterclockwise on the lake from the Wen WuTemple) on the north shore of the lake, look for this dock and eat in this restaurant! I can't help you much more, but there is a Starbucks in town.

The restaurant features fish caught in the lake...and that is what the floating barges of flowers are for: to lure the fish to their doom.

It was a very tasty doom.

However, do not use the bathrooms. There is only a (slightly undersized) curtain between you and the dining room. And there may not have been a curtain between the men's and women's stalls.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

History is in the Eye of the Beholder

This is a statue, much larger than life, of Chiang Kai-Shek, first president of Taiwan. There is much admiration of him at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Center, not only about his leadership and founding of the country, but also his writing and philosophy. I wish I could have had more time to wander around.

It was interesting in more ways than one: In recounting his life, our tour guide said only that he moved the capital from Nanking to Taipei...not one word about losing mainland China to Mao Tse-Tung (or Mao Zedong, depending on how you transliterate the Chinese sounds which do not have an exact duplicate in English.) I'm sure the mainland Chinese have their own ideas about Chiang Kai-Shek.

I had a Russian boy living with me briefly in the fall of 2001. I asked him a loaded question: Who was at fault when the US spy plane and Chinese plane collided the previous spring? Without even thinking, he answered "The US," and added "The Americans are always at fault."

It is what you are taught.

The protestants may call it "The Reformation", but it is known among Catholics as "The Breakup of the Church."

I remember reacting very strongly to the Ayatollah Khomeini calling the US "The Great Satan" when it was very clear to me that the evil was on his side of the fence.

And, I wonder what historians in 100 years will say about US politics in the last 25 years. I just have to laugh at pundits who say that historic things happened, it is way too soon to tell what is important and what is not. (Other than the obvious, like planes diving into towers.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

And back to the other religion, shopping

Shopping as a religion...

This is a picture of the Shihlin night market, one of many in Taipei. It is interesting shopping there, because you can dicker with the shop owner. I will always wonder if I could have gotten things for less than I actually paid for them. I do tend to thin of value in US dollars, and $10 for a t-shirt is OK.

The black t-shirt on the right side of the display says "Taiwanese." I got it for my daughter, who will wear anything black. I wanted the one that says "I Love Taiwan", (which I think is the one next to it) with the heart for the word love, but that shop owner gave me the wrong one. Possibly because the police were coming to close down illegal shops and she was sort of in a hurry.

If they were really serious about closing illegal shops, they would prevent them from opening in the first place.

Actually, you can dicker with the sales ladies even in upscale department stores. One of my friends got a necklace with a sticker price of $800. What she actually paid was $387, with a chain to hold it thrown in for free. She has had practice.