Sunday, August 26, 2007

Some nice finds...

These are from a while back but nevertheless are great examples of hilarious translations.

Somehow I have never thought of salt as delicious.

And, in my very small childhood, Santa was as untouchable as Elliot Ness.
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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tropical Cyclones - Typhoons or Hurricanes by other Names

Well, several typhoons have come and gone. Here is a primer on typhoons for the uninitiated.

Basically typhoons and hurricanes belong to the weather category called tropical cyclones, named because of their circular nature. In the Northern hemisphere, cyclones turn counter-clockwise. Generally speaking, typhoons are what cyclones are called to the West of the international dateline. On the right they are called hurricanes.


Contrary to some beliefs, hurricanes can and do happen in the Pacific. They have been known to happen on the West coast of Mexico and the USA but are not very common. Most hurricanes occur in the Atlantic rounding out their paths in the Caribbean Sea.

As for typhoons, you could say that Taiwan is in 'typhoon alley' to borrow from the term 'tornado alley'. This is to say Taiwan gets more than its fair share of typhoons hitting in any given season. Typhoons that hit Taiwan often hit the Philippines beforehand. Typhoons can even hit Taiwan twice if they turn back, rare but not unheard of. The misses, typhoons that don't hit Taiwan, tend to go either North and hit Japan or South and hit Hong Kong or even Vietnam. What can I say, it's difficult to predict, typhoon tracking is an imperfect science.

There is also a naming convention for tropical depressions. Hurricanes are named alphabetically. From 2000, typhoons have received local Asian names. The lists of names can be found in the link below.

"Each of the 14 nations that typhoons affect submitted a list of names for a total of 141 names. The names include animals, flowers, astrological signs and a few personal names."
USA Today

Trash Collector Triathlon: Garbage Man Olympics

A while back The Real Taiwan did this article about garbage collection, particularly about the music that is played by the trucks as they are coming to pick up the trash.

I still wish he would dig a little deeper and see if you can find out how that piece of music was decided for trash collection. I have heard that they once changed the music to a special garbage song but it was a flop and it reverted to the original.

Lost of people have noted the ice-cream truck quality of the garbage pickup. Also, they have pointed out some peculiarities of the trash collection system too.

"Taiwan operates rubbish collection in a different way than most other nations. A person's rubbish is their responsibility until it is in the internals of the rubbish truck, not once it lies on the street but inside the truck. Every person must take their rubbish from their house and throw it into the back of the truck as it stops at predetermined points along the way. Every day and at the same time a truck playing a loud yet familiar tune (like that of the ice-cream van back home) will float past every house within 200meters. In fact two trucks will drive along, the first for general waste and the second for glass bottles, plastic bottles, paper, etc. So not only are they providing a convenient recycling operation but also providing it daily. And should the trucks be missed then there will invariably be another arriving around the corner or in another street close by within the next hour or so"

Not only this but most neighborhoods have recycle hounds (see the tricycle pic), as I call them, who are people in the community that collect recyclables from your doorstep in order to cash them in for a little extra money. In fact they'll almost beg you not to throw them away at the regular trash collection! This is a little cottage industry in Taiwan for older people who want to make a little extra spending money.

There is, however, one good story that has been missed by most writers and that is the Garbage Olympics. Perhaps it's because of a lack of info available on the Internet. I have in my possession an article that seems to predate the archiving of either the China Post's or Taipei Times' articles online. It's entitled "Garbage collector hopefuls compete". The long and the short of it is that Taiwanese actually compete to get garbageman jobs in Taipei!

According to the article:
"hopefuls [sprint] down the running track with heavy sandbags on their backs [....] [e]ach carrying a 15-kilogram sandbag [...] in a 90-meter dash [...] to decide whether they were physically qualified to work as cleaners or garbage collectors that the Taipei City Government needs to hire"

The article continues that the acceptance rate for the job is only 4%, even lower than the college entrance exam. Good education is not a requirement however many candidates are high school and even college or university grads. They have to pass a written test then a knotting garbage bags test as well.

One man is quoted as saying it's not shameful to compete for such a job especially when jobs are hard to find. What's not mentioned is the pension that the man would receive if he should land the job. In Taiwan, pension plans are the exception not the rule. Public service employees usually get a competitive pension plan.

In an obvious attempt at equal opportunity employment, Taipei City reserves half the positions for aborigines and people from low-income, underprivileged families.

Finally, failed candidates are also offered chances to become security guards, building custodians and cleaners.

Imagine that!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Linkin Park Taipei November 16, 2007

Linkin Park 2007 Asia Tour

tickets on sale 8/25
地點:中山足球場 Chung Shan Soccer Stadium
time 時間:11:00-18:00
ticket prices 票價:4000/3000/2000/1000

concert Nov. 16
Chung Shan Soccer Stadium
performance time 演出時間:20:00
禁止攜帶危險物品(如玻璃瓶.鋁罐.鐵罐等)、食物飲料、雷射筆、錄影錄音器材入場 no drugs, dangerous items, food or drinks, recording devices etc.

You know your in Taiwan when...

You walk into the corner store and the clerk shouts out to you. Oh "good morning" to you too!

Hey, wait a minute. It's five in the afternoon. Why did you just say good morning to me. And even more strange, why did I answer "good morning" instinctively???

That's because what you heard was "Huanying guanglin!
" (歡迎光臨 or "welcome"), not "good morning". It's a standard greeting at most stores with some sense of service. It can be said on entry or on departure from the store too. As one forum writer notes:

"Do you think people who work in these convenience stores develop a Pavlovian reaction, where every time they hear a ding, they involuntarily say, "Huanying guanglin!"

This misunderstanding has to be one of the most commonly shared Taiwan experiences of any English speaker just off the plane so to speak. And don't feel silly if you fail this lesson. Saying "good morning" to the clerk can't hurt. Just smile and go about your business. Welcome to Taiwan life.

The smile, by the way, goes a long way in any country.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The trouble with trash...

Does Taipei have a trash problem? You bet! There are simply not enough trash cans in Taipei. And why you ask? Well apathy is one reason. The other reason is that the public just does not want to reduce their waste profile.

Just take a look at this overflowing trash can at SYS Memorial Hall. One thing you will notice is the fast food trash. Notice how people have been so nice as to pile their trash on the top of the can as well. It looks almost artistic.

One of the biggest problems with the trash system in Taipei is the use of cans that only have openings on the sides and not the top. There are reasons for this too. It limits the absolute amount of trash that can be put in the receptacle and it prevents the cans from flooding in heavy rainfall.

It would seem that there are two solutions. Either have more trash pickup times or get people to reduce their trash profile. I'm for the later.

C'mon Taipei! Stop buying all that ghastly junk you buy for your kids and let's try to get rid of these kinds of eyesores!

By the way, Taipei's concerns may seem insignificant when compared to China's. On a visit to Shanghai in the winter, I found out that spitting, a public passtime in China, had been banned. This didn't stop people from wanting to spit though. They sought the nearest side opening trash can to spit in. The winter that I visited, most people did not want to use the garbage receptacles as the openings were pasted with yellow, red and green icicles where comrades had missed with their spitting. Yuck!

Taipei too does have the odd betelnut chewer who likes to leave his mark on the street, sidewalk, wall or even trash can as well... Get better aim if you do!
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The 'Pubic' Appearance

A Japanese performer in Formoz recently exposed himself onstage for an amazing 1 minute after supposedly drinking a 'sip of wine'.


As the papers noted
"Some female fans were astonished, but male audiences were thrilled and screamed."

Aluba! Aluba! Aluba! (see my previous entries for more about this...)

He was later arrested and finally left Taiwan, banned forever I presume.

Is it any surprise that this guy did it. In an article that appeared before Formoz in a Hong Kong newspaper, it was pointed out that the performer in question had exposed himself before in his native Japan. Seems like he didn't change his act. No surprise!

south china morning post

It isn't the first time that foreigners have exposed themselves like this. I recall a trip to Taiwan by Kiko Wu, an Asian porn star of Taiwan origin from the US. She pranced around Taipei doing quick photo shoots at various tourist attractions until she was also apprehended. She, too, got a slap on the wrist and left town, banned forever I also presume. But she's a porn star for Pete's sake!

(taipei times, it seems, has no problems with publishing a totally nude woman in their paper)

See a clip of it here:

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