Archive for September, 2008

typhooned again

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I’m up early today in case the cleaning lady comes, but I’m really hoping she doesn’t. This is not weather to ride a scooter in. Typhoon Jangmi is scheduled to hit us today or tonight, and the winds and rain are already here. At the moment the rain is falling in the same gusting sheets we saw during Sinlaku, but winds are much stronger. The various news sources I can find online are conflicting, saying that the typhoon is anywhere from Category 3 to 5 right now, but of course it will weaken as it gets closer to land. Taipei is ringed by mountains, so it won’t get those sorts of winder, but I’d bet we are getting near-Cat 1 hurricane winds right now. I keep hearing bangs and crashes outside from things blowing off balconies or rubbish being blown, and I didn’t in the two previous typhoons that passed over. (Three, but Hagupit last week was far enough offshore than Taipei didn’t really see any effect, though the south side of the island did.) I was awakened by the wind at 3AM so I brought the chairs from our balcony inside before they got too wet.

I think this must be why Costco was so packed yesterday. I cant say I enjoyed the experience, but I’m glad I went instead of waiting for today!

My neighborhood is very new, and the buildings seem to be well-designed. The underground garage has its own flood door, even. I’ll post updates if anything interesting happens, and will post once this storm’s over – they expect the heavy rains to continue until Tuesday, but at least this one’s moving out faster than Sinlaku.

no gas? put a penny in the meter

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I almost thought I had an excuse to work from home today – waiting for a plumber. This morning after erging I went to take a shower and found that all my hot water was out. (Cold shower = not such a problem when you’re in a semitropical climate, it’s still summer weather, and you’ve just worked out. The water’s not all that cold and you don’t mind it much anyway.) I checked the water heater and the circuit breaker and didn’t see anything obvious to fix. So I waited until the Very Nice Apartment Guard came in, to ask him to check it (so many things are different in Taiwan: he’s familiar with local systems and I’m not). The next step would have been to call the rental agent and ask him to get a plumber.

The VNAG found the problem. Was a breaker flipped? was a pilot light out? No, no: my hot water was out because the hot water heater’s battery was dead. Actually it makes sense: it’s a gas heater, so instead of an always-on pilot light, I guess there’s a battery-powered spark system. I still think the idea of a battery-operated hot-water heater is funny, though.

Just as well I did come to the office today: I’d have missed the opportunity to sample spicy duck tongues. (Joking about the “opportunity” part, dead serious about the duck tongue. The flavor of the spices was good, but the texture was almost as unpleasantly gristly as the chicken-foot skin the other week.)

In other news, yet another typhoon is heading more or less our way. Right now it’s predicted to cross over the south end of the island. (The end away from Taipei.) But it won’t be there until Sunday night or so, so anything can happen.

It’s not as silly as it sounds: it runs on gas and apparently instead f an always-on pilot light, the battery powers an ignition system. But it sitll strikes me as funny.

storm report

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

They say Typhoon Sinlaku will be ith us until Tuesday, but by this morning it had dwindled down to rain – lots and lots of rain, though. People on the coast have lost power, and there have been lots of landslides, but we’ve only hear of one death. We made a supermarket stop Friday night on the way home for work (we’d planned one this weekend anyway) and then just spent the rest of the weekend holed up at home, staying dry and cozy. It was pretty wild watching the wind and lashing rain Saturday out of our windows. It’s the sort of weather that puts me in a nesting mood apparently, so we ate well: homemade chicken soup yesterday and beef stew today. This is why the shopping trip was important. It was also interesting: the night before a major storm was due, and on a holiday weekend as well, but the store was no more crowded than normal and the supplies of water and masking tape weren’t depleted. Apparently people here don’t do the sort of panic shopping that’s common before any sort of storm in the US. The news here mostly dwelt on how this weekend’s planned barbeques for today’s Mid-Autumn Festival were rained out.

We’ve been watching the hurricane news from texas closely. (Of course it was sort of hard not to; even the so-called international news was all-Ike all day and didn’t even mention Sinlaku until after 20″ or so of rain had fallen.) But it is unsettling to be watching from across the planet and see so many buldings we recognize. We still have a lot of friends in Houston, and are hoping they are OK. I checked our old rowing club’s website, but there’s no news whether the boathouse survived – of course, they probably don’t have power out there yet, let alone Internet connections.

…and I thought Dutch tuna pizza was weird

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Americans may be interested to read the menu of Taiwanese Pizza Hut.