Saturday April 29th, 2006

Rain, rain, go away ... it has been raining for what feels like months. I think this is quite unusual for Taiwan. I had a private in 師大 (Shida) area the other night ... it's on the other side of town ... took me about an hour to scooter home. I had on my winter coat and my big full length rain jacket, however, I still managed to get soaked. Even my tank, the bottom of 4 layers, had some wet spots on it ... unbelievable. Fingers crossed for some sunshine over here already!

My Saturday private canceled again ... I don't get the impression he's too serious about wanting to learn English. I don't think I'm too serious about wanting to work on Saturdays, so this may turn out to be a good relationship.

I'm having a real laugh tutoring the two sisters, Alice and Angel. We get to use some Chinese in our classes and the one sister is probably too polite to say anything while the other tells me I speak horrible Chinese. It's not overly encouraging, however, her English is very poor so we kinda get to laugh at each other. Through all the laughing and miscommunication, we both learn a little more each week. She's helping me with my tones, I'm helping her pick up a vocabulary.

I got my schedule for summer camp ... I think it's going to be fun this year. So fun in fact, that I may take my one month vacation in October rather than August. As the kids will be spending one morning a week learning hip hop dancing, we will have one morning a week off. One morning involves swimming and one morning involves golf ... the same as last year ... but this year we have an actual overnight camping trip planned. There's rollerblading and scavenger hunts and rock climbing ... fun, fun, fun!

Talks of going away parties for Brother J and Spring have started. Should be some good times over the next short while ... it will be sad to see them go. A small group will be heading up to 花蓮 (Hualien) in a few weeks ... we will go for the weekend. As we can't really take any extra time off, we will probably train it up there and then rent scooters. The ride up last time was great, but it was a serious trek through 3 mountain passes.

Anyway ... I hope to get some good photos over the next while of some faces rather than scenery. Eyes posted. Seems the rain has stopped ... this may be a good opportunity for a grocery run. With a kitty purring in my lap, as always, it makes it hard to motivate myself to want to go anywhere.

Sunday April 23rd, 2006

It's been awhile since I've written, so I thought today I best put down some words. I've been pretty busy as of late with not much going on other than work and studying. Due to the fact that I've been so busy, I've decided to post an ad to hire a housekeeper. Now, in saying that, I feel a tad lazy that I can't do it myself. The thing is, having a 34 ping apartment with all white tiled floors and two little kitties that like to get into this and that, the floors get dirty quite quickly. With all my new found work, I am thinking I can afford the money to hire someone until the work slows down ... it's time consuming to keep this place clean and time is something I can't afford at the moment. I would like to use my balcony a lot more this summer ... I have a small bbq and next weekend I hope to buy a small table and chair set. It'd be nice to have someone keep it clean as there is a constant breeze up here ... as one might imagine, it tracks in a ton of dirt. To hire someone to keep the windows and balconies and floors clean would be a ton of help.

What to talk about today?

I know ... I'll talk about the family of cats that live outside. As you may or may not know, Taiwan is full of strays. When I moved in, there was a family of 5 ... mom and dad and three wee ones. Someone in my building feeds them regularly ... unfortunately some days it's rice and fried who knows what ... not too good for their digestive systems, I would think ... but, hey, they aren't going hungry, right?

One of the kitties looked a lot like Levi, but he had this fat little tummy ... probably from all the rice. He was the friendliest of the group, always letting me give him a bit of a tickle on my way by. Unfortunately, a few months back, I saw him laying dead at the end of our drive. I felt sad that the little guy had no one to love him and keep him safe.

Anyway ... the father often comes up on my balcony ... has been ever since I've moved in. He sits on the balcony and stares in the window. I haven't fed him as I don't want him to think he can come here for food. My cats get a good run around the house when he's visiting.

The reason I am talking about this now is because as I sit here typing, the two kittens are outside staring in at me. This is their first visit. My cats are on the inside staring out at the them.

I was going to buy two harnesses and some leashes to allow the cats out on the balcony this summer ... however, if the outside kitties can find their way up, that means my little guys will be able to find their way down. I don't want them to be outdoor cats, but something tells me this summer ... they are going to find their way out. If it's one thing I've learned about cats ... they aren't as stupid as they look. They are extremely curious which allows them the ability to figure things out when they play with it long enough. They do know how to push open the light screens I have on the windows here. I know if they get out, they'll be back before I know it ... it's going to make for an interesting summer.

I've taken on a new private for the next 6 - 7 weeks. Her name is Davis and she has three cats. She runs a website for cat lovers. It's only been up and running for 2 months and it already has 600 members and has had 60,000 hits ... pretty crazy. She has invited me to a cat party on the 6th of May. She says she rents a lunch bar and about 50 people come and everyone brings their cats. I can't even imagine. She has hired me on as she is on her way to NYC in June to promote her website ... she has six weeks to talk with me about cats, cats and more cats ... who could ask for a better gig than that?

Love them.

Tuesday April 11th, 2006

With the influx of foreigners coming through Taiwan, it seems the country is scurrying around wondering what to do with all of us. Some things are made very easy, while other things are not.

I went to get my DL today as I've been driving without a license for over a year. Now, I will say, it's not entirely my fault. You are required to have an ARC that is valid for over one year. Mine was two weeks short as that was about the time it took to process the whole thing. That and the fact that I was driving a 50cc, which does not require a license means I never really needed to get around to it. Since then, I've moved up to a 125cc, which does require a license. What I also find in my possession now is a 3-year ARC, so laziness is my only excuse for not running out and getting a license.

It seems more and more you are hearing about foreigners being pulled over to produce their license ... if you can't, they just unscrew the plate making your bike nothing more than useless. When you produce the license, they will return the plate for a small fee of $6000 NT... 不便 (bu2 bian4) ... inconvenient!

Anyway ... I'm kind of tired of feeling nervous everytime I pass a copper, so I went to get my license today. I have an online test that I've been studying from for about a month and a half. It contains questions such as so (taken directly from the website):

True or False:

Drinking hampers your vision and hinders your reaction, and increases possibilities of accidents, so, if you drink, don’t drive.

To be clean and well dressed is a common courtesy while driving.

When the fuel is on fire, you must use fire extinguisher, sand or wet cloths to put it off.

On a narrow slope, if the car driving downhill does not give way to a car driving uphill. or a uphill car does not wait a downhill car passing the slope, and try to go uphill. or a car are driving along the inside lane of the slope does not give way to a car on the outside lane will be fined.

In an intersection, when there is no traffic police nor signals, and if the two lanes are both side lanes, or main lanes, the car on the left must let the one on the right to go first.

Multiple Choice:

I am a good driver, I obey all traffic laws, I want the highway patrol to: (1) be more strict (2) be relaxed (3) just check but not report

The tip for the motorcyclist to solve complex and critical events is: (1) calm and safe (2) to be an adventurer (3) optimistic and let it be

Motorcycle stops at a motorcycle stop area, (1) stop in any lane within the stop line (2) stop in the motorcycle waiting area (3) stop in the motorcycle waiting area, but if there are too many motorcycles, fast lane is ok too

90% of the car accidents are caused by speeding, so the motorcyclist must: (1) not drive on dangerous roads (2) never speed (3) rest more

I mean, aren't all roads dangerous?? The test that I've been taking allows you to see the correct answers, thus giving you something to study from as they do not have an English manual. However, upon taking my test today, it seems that there are a few questions not offered on the website. Since I had mastered the website, I checked today to note that the last update to the English website was 2004/12/30 ... hmmm.

I got 84 ... you need 85 to pass. I can go back in one week to redo the written test ... and though it's quite far away and I'll have to pay again, I will go again with hopes of being lucky. A friend of mine has offered to redo the tests and websites in English ... for free. Great idea on his part ... I'm sorry I didn't beat him to that thought!

Anyway ... not complaining about failing ... just wanted to log some of the questions so that I can sit later in life and laugh. I wonder if one needs a license to drive in China? Oh gosh!

Sunday April 9th, 2006

I got an email from my cousin stating that she was following my blog ... she said that she always used to see me as her little cousin but that I have now grown much more than her. It's a pretty special thing to receive an email such as that ... especially when I look back and think about how much I always looked up to my older cousin ... hoping to turn out half as cool as she! So for that email, Crystal, I thank you for your words, for your encouragement.

Saturday was a bit of a weird day. It was supposed to consist of hiking, teaching a new private and then taking a train to Dashi for a night on the beach. My scooter broke down on Friday night so I cancelled my Saturday morning hike. At 7am, my new private called to cancel the class for that afternoon. A day that was supposed to be quite busy, all of a sudden, turned into nothing much. I hit the bike shop around noon so that I could be on the road to Dashi with the crew, rather than taking the train.

The ride proved to be great, as always ... I mean, how can one complain about driving through mountain passes on a scooter ... it offers an amazing feeling of freedom. About ten minutes away from Dashi, the rain began. Unfortunately the weather didn't agree with us so much ... it rained off and on our whole time there. We made the best of it, of course, and fun was had by all.

I have made a new album with a few pics. Finally, introducing some of my loved ones here in Taiwan ... some new ... some old. We are planning a trip next weekend to Pinglin ... the only thing on my mind is, how am I going to nicely cancel my new private on Saturday. Between you and me ... wink, wink ... I just don't think it's going to work out ... Summer has arrived, friends ... finally!!

A New Look ...

I found myself with some extra time this weekend ... it was muchly needed! The weather turned out to be not so bad. I got out for a hike yesterday and today I met with my new private student. He wants to have class Saturday afternoon, which I'm not so crazy about ... I hiked up my price but he went for it ... guess that means I'll be giving up my Saturday afternoons for a little while ... hmmmm.

Some changes ... one can now click directly on the photo links to reach my albums ... no password needed! I hope this makes it easier to check out some of the things these eyes see.