Archive for December, 2009

oh, dear.

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

We were just discussing some of he unusual names people here choose – there’s someone in one of our CHina offices whose chosen name is Modern.

A Taiwanese tells me that he knows someone here whose chosen name is “Well”. Unfortunately his family name is Hung. (My colleague swears this is a true story and that the name was chosen entirely unwittingly.)

And here I thought “Elrond” was funny…

winter!

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Winter has come to Taipei, courtesy of a weekend in which temperatures didn’t get much over 10C. Sunday I had a nice long lazy day during which I never changed out of my cozy flannel nightgown – but by dinnertime I was wearing fleece tights under the gown and a light fleece pullover on top of it.

Yesterday the office was not as cold as I feared it would be; I definitely needed to wear my fingerless gloves all day but have not had to wear the the midweight fleece jacket I brought. On the other hand, I did wear a ribbed turtleneck, cardigan (mostly-silk knitted), warm wool trousers, and ankle boots. Also the scarf I just knitted, but that’s more about style than warmth.

It’s supposed to warm up this week (in fact, it already has) but it won’t get over 23C, so I’m not sure if it will make a difference. Today the office is actually colder than it was yeserday; I had my heater on this morning. I like it like this, as long as it doesn’t get so cold that I freeze even with my woolies on.

The company gave out its annual Christmas gifts yesterday (because Dutch companies all do that). So far over the previous three Christmases I’ve worked here, the gifts were two bottles of wine (one red, one white), a company-themed Monopoly game, and a box of chocolate ckaes and cookies. The wines were our favorites; they were quite good wines, and it was definitely one time we were glad to have two of us working here. (The Monopoly year, not so much – who needs two of those?) Since a lot of people in Taiwan don’t drink, or don’t drink much, I don’t know how popular this year’s gift is here, but I love it: a bottle of Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial champagne.

(Outside the US, the attitudes seem to be something like, “You don’t want it? Give it to someone else then.” I don’t know if our US offices have a nonalcoholic gift option.)

Ted’s off this week (and I’m not) so he is in charge of planning and shopping for our holiday dinner. I don’t quite know what we’re having, except that he did manage to find a turkey. I’ve been hearing rumors of homemade chocolate candy, though 🙂

Wow! Biggest earthquake yet!

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

This time things were actually swaying – the bookcase was noticeably moving, as were the hanging pictures and the tree we just put up today. (Oops. Bad timing.) It was big enough that I opened a patio door, just in case – they advise you to open a window during big quakes, because you’re not supposed to take the elevator or apartment stairs if you have to evacuate, since both are essentially concrete tubes and can be damaged in quakes. (We figure we’re actually better-prepared for this than most, since we have our climbing ropes and harnesses!)

The USGS website just put details up – preliminary magnitude 6.5, right off the opposite coast of the island. This was definitely the biggest quake we’re experienced in Taiwan!

the cutest gas station

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

We always fill up at the same place, because it’s on the way to work. Gas stations here are all full service, since labor is cheap. Some marketing genius hired a horde of teenagers to work there, and somehow taught them to make it fun: when you pull in, a couple of them stand in front and beckon you on until you’re just at the right spot, then hold up a hand and shout “HA!” in unison to stop you. Someone comes around with a pitcher, offering a cup of tea. They smile a lot, and seem to be having fun with each other. The sign for the bathroom shows a man and a woman, each with knees locked together in the universal sign for “Gotta go!”. When you pull away, whoever is nearby bows.

And today they were all wearing red jackets and Santa hats.

Happy Chanukah

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

I don’t have any candles for my menorah (yet – Mom has sent some). But I do have a big old bag of votive candles from HEMA (kind of like the Dutch target) gathering dust in a cupboard.

Happy Chanukah!

menorah