Archive for August, 2009

notes from the road

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

1. Some pretty good turbulence on the flight here, though the worst of it didn’t last too long.

2. Only in America would someone serve a dish consisting of french fries topped by chili topped by cheese whiz topped by sour cream topped by bacon. Bacon and chili just seem redundant – tasty, though. (I complained at first about the cheese-whiz-type cheese as opposed to real melted cheese, but then I realized that could damage my cred as a girl who grew up in Philadelphia, home of cheese steak an cheese fries.)

3. More bacon for breakfast. I’ve been craving crunchy American bacon as opposed to the more strongly-flavored limper and fattier Euro type.

4. I think it we drove as far in Taiwan as we did today, we’d have gone off the edge.

5. Tempratures are wonderfully pleasant here, but I think they’re anomalously cool.

6. Ted seems to be enjoying understanding every channel on the TV.

7. We did the mall-shopping today. Gap seemed to have fewer and fewer cuts in the shorter length. Pfui.

8. I do like a lot of the changes in this country, like being about to pull into a roadside gas station in any rural area and find things like Tazo green tea and white cheddar popcorn.

9. But is every restaurant in the US a chain now? And has the average US butt size increased that much or do I just have Asia-conditioned eyes?

10. A look around here confirms that whichever Obama cabinet advisor it was who got in trouble for saying America is still very much segregated in its social life was dead right. This an affluent and well-integrated area, but people sitting at restaurant table or walking around together mostly seem to have been sorted by skin color.

11. We spent a good fifteen minutes in the car talking about how our last US rental car had satellite radio, and how nice that was. It was a good hour later, within the last hour of a six-hour drive, that I noticed the little Sirius button on the dash. At least I can blame jetlag.

us, glamorized

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Funny; we just had to get new ID photos taken to have our ARCs (Alien Resident Certificates – an ID for foreigners residing here) renewed. For some odd reason, the photographer decided to ‘airbrush’ them, so now when we get the new cards we’ll have the glamour photo version. (Pity I didn’t know in advance; I could have done more with the makeup. You can see them here – click for larger versions. The original image is first, then the airbrushed one.

Paula_IDPaula_ID_photoshopped
Ted_IDTed_ID_photoshopped

(We got haircuts Friday night – mine was just a trim, but Ted’s is much shorter now.)

Morakot aftermath

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Here are a bunch of pictures of the results of Typhoon Morakot, in Taiwan, China, and the Philippines.

They remind me a lot of the pictures after Katrina, and so do the complaints about the government response. The rescuers are undeniably heroic, though – we’ve heard stories of a group of firefighters marching for 8 hours to deliver food and supplies, and of people risking their own lives to help others.

Again, this is all in southern Taiwan. I haven’t seen so much as a downed tree here. Driving through the middle of the island last Christmas holiday, we did see enough precariously-perched villages, old landslides and collapsed bridges to understand the terrain and infrastructure issues here.

because several people have asked…

Monday, August 10th, 2009

We’re fine. Taipei is ringed by mountains all around and they tend to protect us from the worst of any storms. Also, we only really got the first half of this one; the rest went south.

There was a lot of damage on the east coast, as there always is, because that’s where storms hit first. That’s where that hotel is that collapsed. (Well south of where we had intended to spend Saturday night, because we were going to go row this past weekend until the weather decided not to cooperate.) There have been terrible landslides, with some entire towns buried. The official numbers are currently 23 people dead, 32 injured and 56 missing but those numbers will rise much higher when rescuers can get into the areas of greatest damage; another news story says “Xiaolin Village in Gaoxiong County was one of the worst hit areas from the storm, with hundreds still missing after the entire village was buried under a landslide. Rescuers say 170 residents out of around 600 survived the mudslides.” I don’t know how long this link will stay current, but here are some of the stories.

typhoon alert

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

It’s looking like we will probably have an unexpected day off tomorrow, thanks to Typhoon Morakot. It may be up to Cat 3 or 4 by the time it hits land; Taipei ought to be relatively safe because there are mountains all around us, but they are expecting extremely heavy rains. I hope so, because we need them. Though I don’t expect danger where I am, I wouldn’t want to drive in it. Fortunately the Taiwan government tends to be sensible about announcing office closures the night before – I have vivid memories of driving to work in a Houston hurricane and then having to drive home again, because NASA is terrible about making up its mind. (I worked for a contractor, but most of them followed NASA for closures.)

I hope there will not be much damage at Ilan, Su-ao, or anywhere closer to where the storm will hit, though; those places are much more vulnerable to severe weather. I’m also hoping there won’t be damage to our boats! They are in a boathouse in the Dong-shan River Park, right on the coast. Ted is beginning to believe that Someone doesn’t want us to row; right after we moved our boats, they put in a dock on the river right by our house; there haven’t been any storms til now; and this weekend, we were actually planning to go out there to row and have a hotel reservation nearby so we can be there at early practice. We’ve decided to keep the reservation, in hopes the storm abates soon enough to let us drive out Saturday late afternoon or evening, and row or at least work on the boats on Sunday morning.