Friday, July 29, 2016

Dry Spell in Writing and New Writing Prompts

The last post I posted was around the 15th of July, or somewhere about there.  I've been trying to write something every week at the very least as my brain is too tired to write everyday at this point.  I really should get into the habit of writing everyday and now would be a good time to practice that habit when I'm now inundated with work and that'll be what I'll have to deal with when I move.  Not only that, my brain is inundated in trying to decipher a new language so I feel my actual English skills are diminishing drastically.  For my sanity and further deterioration of my English, I will try and keep a ritual to do a small bit of writing everyday, on my down time and make it a habit rather than a treat to myself.  

Today, It's the first weekend where I have time to myself where I don't have to go on a guided tour arranged by my program or anything else so I figure, I can take a moment or two to write a bit.  I've been writing the shocks of the day just to keep up writing if I can't write in general be even that is not keeping the habit for me now but I think I may have a new solution.  

Description Writing of Locations!

I know, nothing new but for me, I think it'll be a great way to at least get those writing juices back a-flowin' (<---- Prime example of what Chinese has done to my English) :P

I personally like to find pictures like these that are beautiful around can be found in various places around the world.


Step 1: I like thinking about places like these and trying my best to describe them just as an exercise.

Step 2: I add some embellishments like animal life, plants, weather and sounds etc.

Bonus: Use it for something your are currently writing.


Heck, you can take any picture and do that exercise and it'll help you get started.

Used from a Creative Common's page by Thraen

I think artwork can spark a bit of inspiration.  You can just write about the scenery or even what is going on in the art piece but I do find it helps.

Give it a try!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Shock of the Day: Switching Languages and Acquisition

Chinese is officially my third language that I'll be learning but I'm having some interesting switches going off in my head as I search and try to speak.

I was in Thailand from Dec-June and thought I haven't formally taken in classes in learning Thai, I've picked up enough everyday vocabulary that I used on a daily basis.  Now, I'm in Taiwan and the official language is Chinese and my mind is blown confused as to what language to use.

I met a girl from Bangkok in one of my classes and I tried to use some of the meager Thai that I learned with her but for the life of me, I could NOT remember simple phrases like Aroi Mak (delicious) or even how to count.  I took me a good hour or so of thinking hard about how to say, 'delicious'.  It's crazy as I've said that term almost on a daily basis but my brain was not having it.

I guess I haven't really learned how to do the language switch that well and I just say the first thing that comes to my head...which isn't always right.

That's another thing!  I find myself saying random other things as I'm searching for the word that I'm looking for and it's either a repeat of something I just said or a word in a completely different language!

It's frustrating to say the least.

Another pet peeve that I've noticed about learning a different language is the fact that I will repeat a word or phrase a billion times in hopes of it making it to my long-term memory storage.  I am usually sorely disappointed when it's really in my short-term and gets dumped with other useless information since I'm in an immersion environment and my brain is going through language acquisition and lifestyle overload.  It's during those moments that I find the most dominant language that is NOT English come up and take over when I try and search for words and end up speaking Japanese.

It's funny though, I feel learning Chinese has enforced my Japanese language which I'm happy to say, a lot has definitely converted to long-term memory but all the Kanji that I thought I forgot, I am relearning them now and suddenly remembering how to say them and what they mean.

It's really an interesting thing going on in my head at the moment.  I can't describe how confused I am but it's been a great learning experience and I'm glad to say, I'm slowly learning Chinese despite it all!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Shock of the Day: Memory Card DELETED!!

NOTHING is worse than finding out that you deleted all your pictures and videos from your memory card.

This is not the first time it's happened, but it still sucks.

The first time I had this happen to me was when I was in Singapore.  I didn't enjoy my trip too much but the highlight of my trip was going to a Louvre installation and taking enough pictures to fill a 1 GB (10 years ago, that was a LOT) card and video of the best flamboyant guide describing to high schoolers why the Greek sculptures of heros and men were not as "endowed" as one would expect.  I still remember it today, "If you look at some of the figures, you'll notice that the men are not as endowed because during this time and era, what was considered to be masculine differed to our own definition of beauty today."

Hilarious and educational.  I guess I don't need the video to remember thinking, how cool it is to video this tour and also take pictures of all this art because many places will not let you take pictures or video.

I'm just grateful that I loaded all my pictures onto Facebook before I made the mistake of deleting everything.

Lesson learned....again!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Shock of the Day: Baby Turtle!



We have a beautiful campus here at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, complete with ancient sites from hundreds of years ago and a tranquil pond that many like to come and practice Tai Chi at every morning.


Well, speaking of ancient sites and pond, here is what I'm talking about:
THIS is the entrance to my school

This is the pond in front of my building where class is held



So, I should not be surprised by what else this university may have to offer as far as shocks and awe.  Well, last week, I was walking under that very ancient site - I look down when I walk because sometimes you find some pretty cool things at your feet.  I don't normally walk under the gate but for some reason I did, and I'm really glad I did. It helps to pay attention and looking around as I saw a weird looking rock I walked by; no bigger than half of a bar of soap.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a turtle shell and I picked it up to see if it had been hollowed out or what, because one doesn't simply walk by a turtle shell and not inspect it.




When I lifted the shell, the little guy was tucked in as if hiding.  I was worried that it was dead or hurt but it seemed to be fine so I decided to place it by the pond where I've seen many of its kind, ducks and other animals chillin'.  I figured it would be better than it sitting there and someone accidentally stepping on it as it was very negligible and blended in well with the scenery.  





I took it to the bridge area and placed it on the bank of the pond where it was just a few inches away from water.  I was also just under some bushes too because I was worried about the little guy being out in the open and exposed to potential predators.



I set him down and hoped for the best but finding a turtle on my walk to school was definitely a memorable shock of the day (but not as epic as my friend Pat's rescue of a catfish)


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Shock of the Day: Week 2 Surprise

A few friends and I went to see the sights around Tainan this past weekend now that the Typhoon Nepartak have blown away.  Luckily it has left little damage in its wake on our side of the island, though the west side is not so fortunate.

Being cooped up in our rooms for so long, (a day and a half about), we decided to make a walking tour out of the next day to make up for the lack of activity from the previous day.  A few have already see some of the sights we were looking for but when we mentioned that we were going to the Confucius temple, a classmate mentioned that we needed to check out the Narrow Door Cafe.

Narrow Door Cafe, you say?

Why, yes, that is exactly what I did say.  How narrow you ask?  Well, let me show you!  (I know, I'll stop.)



Bear in mind, it has been raining for two days straight and so the small alleyway was flushing out everything out of the entrance and so we were all leery at first but curiosity got the better of us and we went in anyway!

We were not disappointed to say the least.  The entrance itself it worth checking out as it's funky, almost seedy but definitely cool.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Shock of the Day: Catfish


This is a catfish.

This is a catfish in front of a Library.  He's a bit ambitious but he doesn't let thoughts like 'lack of water and legs' stop him from his goals in life.  Apparently he was chillin' like a villain and trying to make his way around on his fins while basking on the path.  

Then came my friend Pat.  He was out for a walk and found this determined mudsucker and dashed his dreams away by putting him back in the nearest body of water.  

Poor Nepartak - I'm naming him after the Typhoon - will not be walking on land today.  Not today....


(although, Pat is a hero for saving this little guy, there was talk about making him an unofficial mascot and I will say, I would be down with that idea)

Back to being a bottom dweller until the storm.  Then his dreams of being a land walker will come to fruition once again!  Until then, just keep swimmin' and filtering that mud!

Lunch Time Update on Nepartak (as of Noon July 8, 2016)



Super Typhoon Nepartak has officially be downgraded to Category 2 and the eye should be somewhere near where I am at the moment.  The gust of wind is strong but I'm still not sure if it'll be stronger yet.

video


I didn't sleep much last night, not sure if it was anticipation or just because I went to bed early and found myself awake again at midnight.  I took videos every few hours just to reassure my family and friends that I'm alive and well.  When 4 am rolled around, I remember distinctly hearing the wind pick up and took a video shortly after.  We read a few articles about how the east side of Taiwan got hit around 3am ish and so we were probably getting the precursors to the storm at 4.



Last I checked there was one fatality from drowning in Taiwan but mainland China already had 20 fatalities on Thursday and total of 160 all together.




Lots of rain and wind, obviously, and surprisingly enough, I think I've only heard thunder 5 times or less so maybe we don't have much of an outrage (knock on wood).  Just in case, I did prepare two buckets of water if we needed it to flush the toilets.




Just for a bit of humor, I will post this comic about Taiwanese and Hong Kongese (is that a word?) in Typhoons.


Shock of the Day: Nepartak & Calm before the Storm

Thursday Week 2

Well, we have a Typhoon heading our way.

Not just any Typhoon, but Nepartak Super Typhoon Cat. 5 - Typhoon.  




I know this may sound cavalier of me but I don't really feel any which way about this typhoon as I'm waiting for it to come.  I remember when Iselle hit the Big Island 2 years ago and we played this same waiting game of "when is it coming?"  Last time we guesstimated it would be 12 hours late + change and it's the same this time around.  What was supposed to hit Taiwan at 12:00 July 7, 2016, is still not here as of 2:10am July 8th.  I originally speculated it would be 12 hours late again but I'll have to amend that statement and even go on a limb and tack on another 5 hours so...5am...?




The waiting is still a bit nerve-wracking but not as bad this time around despite this story being uber strong and Iselle actually downgrading to a tropical storm.  I guess rule of thumb for me is, if the locals are not as concerned, well, when in Rome...

I did however stock up on food and water for two days just in case we can't leave our dorm for any reason.  I honestly don't know what to expect for a storm like this but we'll just have to wait and see.

For now, I'll ride out this calm before the storm and drink my Suntory Chuhai when it finally hits as we did for Iselle.

I'll definitely follow up this blog with an update in a day or two depending if we have power or not.


Shock of the Day: Nepartak & Calm before the Storm

Thursday Week 2

Well, we have a Typhoon heading our way.

Not just any Typhoon, but Nepartak Super Typhoon Cat. 5 - Typhoon.  




I know this may sound cavalier of me but I don't really feel any which way about this typhoon as I'm waiting for it to come.  I remember when Iselle hit the Big Island 2 years ago and we played this same waiting game of "when is it coming?"  Last time we guesstimated it would be 12 hours late + change and it's the same this time around.  What was supposed to hit Taiwan at 12:00 July 7, 2016, is still not here as of 2:10am July 8th.  I originally speculated it would be 12 hours late again but I'll have to amend that statement and even go on a limb and tack on another 5 hours so...5am...?




The waiting is still a bit nerve-wracking but not as bad this time around despite this story being uber strong and Iselle actually downgrading to a tropical storm.  I guess rule of thumb for me is, if the locals are not as concerned, well, when in Rome...

I did however stock up on food and water for two days just in case we can't leave our dorm for any reason.  I honestly don't know what to expect for a storm like this but we'll just have to wait and see.

For now, I'll ride out this calm before the storm and drink my Suntory Chuhai when it finally hits as we did for Iselle.

I'll definitely follow up this blog with an update in a day or two depending if we have power or not.


Monday, July 04, 2016

Shock of the Day for Thailand

So, I didn't see this but I'm getting it second hand from my husband in Thailand and I'm both shocked yet not so shocked when I see this.

Courtesy of Rico Tumin
How AWESOME - and yes, I'm using this word in two senses.  The original senses that it's Awe-inspiring as well as being AMAZING in the current sense.  

If you can't tell what that is, it's a guy with beehives stuck on his motorcycle.  Well, more accurately, large honeycombs he harvested on his motorcycle as if it an actual beehive, there would definitely be more been around the dude. 

He's selling bottles of honey he harvested but Thailand is the only place that I know where people will ride around on their motorcy with honeycombs still popping out bees as it rides around.

And that, folks, is my Shock of the Day!

Shock of the Day: 9

If you think you have pretty good pitch and have a knack for languages, I suggest studying Chinese to give you a reality check.

Seriously!

I thought I was pretty good at listening and repeating tones but apparently I'm more tone deaf than I gave myself credit for.  Maybe I was doing alright against against others in my classes but try coming to a Chinese speaking country and having Chinese teachers and tutors.  They'll definitely give you a reality check and knock you down a few pegs when you don't realize they are doing the same flat tone (tone 2) 3 times in a row!

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying it but, man is it more difficult to hear and emulate than I originally thought!  It's a humbling wake up call but I'm enjoying learning and actually saying thing right now...sometimes.  I think my tutor is going to work on my tones all the way through the 8 weeks but I definitely need it and my goal is that someone can understand me when I talk by the time I finish this program!

Oh, apparently, I'm in this cone of ignorance while I'm here because I had NO CLUE there was a typhoon headed our way and apparently it's supposed to make landfall tomorrow or Thursday.  Either way, I really need to catch up on new but I think ensconcing myself in Chinese is my first priority, new second, and if anything really drastic happens, I'm pretty sure I'll hear about it through the 54 other students within my program or on our common Line app.

Cheers

Shock of the Day: 8

Food Equals Happy Times

I love food and there is no denying that but finding fruit - CHEAP fruits - is a key things for me recently.  Thailand has definitely opened that up for me as far as getting really cheap fruits and a wide range and variety.  What I like about Tainan is that there are similar markets here as well as fruit stalls and fruit juice places to visit.

Back at home in the states or even Hawaii, it would cost an arm and a leg just to get fresh fruit.  I can get a whole bowl of fruits that were just cut an hour prior to my purchase for $50 NT.  Now that may see like a like but really it's just around $2 USD.

AMAZING!

I've found a new stop that I'll be visiting daily for my night snack and my morning breakfast :D

OH!  And I found Diagon Alley and 9 3/4!

It's a cute little juice shop close to my place but I instantly saw that when I arrived in Tainan and was extremely exited about the name.  I didn't try the drinks yet but who knows, it may have themed names like Polyjuice or Veritaserum or even Butter Beer but now I'm being hopeful.

Great finds today though!

Oh!  And my internal compass for finding my way around is not as broken as I thought it was.  I decided to try jogging - something I HATE - now that it's really cool and windy and ended up running and making turns here and there just to get my goal for the number of steps needed for the day.  Well, I decided instead of running my block a billion times, I ran and just kept on going and turned here...and there and tried to keep a square in mind.  Granted I meandered but overall I did have a good idea of where I was at and did a pretty complete circuit without GPS or anything.  At least I still have it because I thought I lost that skill a while back but it seems like it just went to sleep because it was lazy and I knew I could rely on other with better sense of direction.

Yay, me!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Shock of the Day: 6

I have been here for a week and main I've been trying to acclimate to my new environment.  I've had a few shocks of the day but the ones that really stood out were from our field trip yesterday.

Yesterday, we went to a oyster farm and were promised to an all you can eat oyster dinner.  Little did we know it was all you can eat in 30 minutes because we were on a schedule.  Needless to say, the only Samoan in the group wanted to maximize on this free shit and dumps all the oysters on the fire and once things stared to seam and top, I was on that shit like white on rice!

Let me just say, that I've only eaten oysters a few times.  Less than the number of fingers on one hand so I didn't quite know what I was doing when we started.  Well, that quickly changed as time ticked on and I became an expert, let me tell ya!  I watched the guy that owned the restaurant and emulated what he did, and soon, I was shucking these suckers like a pro!  I would watch them like a hawk for any sign of steam or popping and then I learned to crack them open with my tongs, chopsticks, table and floor.



I wasn't the lucky one to fine this beaut, but a guy at our table opened his and found a tiny crab in the middle.  Not sure if it died before or after we opened it but hey, double the haul in one oyster for him :P

Let me tell you about another great discovery:  Karaoke on the bus!

Yes, you heard me!  Karaoke on the tour bus!  We (namely me) were so excited about this revaluation and fought over the book of songs.  To my disappointment (but not shock), there were only a few English songs listed but that didn't deter me.  I wanted to sing Carpenter songs and when they played, unfortunately, I was shocked to find that there were no lyrics!  

What gives?!

Apparently, according to our guide Jack (dude with the mic), Taiwan is starting to crack down on copyright laws etc so the English songs do no have the lyrics.  However, there are a few songs that seem to have exceeded that statute of limitations, so what gives?  Well, I'm thinking they are playing it safe and any songs that are Enlish do not have lyrics I think just to cover their butts.


Kinda sad I didn't get to sing Karaoke in a tour bus but Oh, well!  It's great to know it exists :P

Shock of the Day: 7

Generational gaps don't usually bug me but when I'm going back to school or at least in this program it seems like I am, I can really feel the difference in age at times.  I'm not judging them because I remember being their age exactly and having different priorities.

My shock of the day is realizing that my priorities have definitely changed from that of an early 20's.  I like to socialize and meet and talk to new people and for the most part I can blend in with the younger bunch but I wasn't as obvious as it was going on our field trip yesterday.

Talking about majors and career and whatnot, I remember that struggle.  Heck I was still having that same struggle a few years ago, but it's funny how different one acts from those that are single and those that are married.

I call my state of mind, DGAFF.  My husband likes to call it DILLIGAFF, but that's just too long for my taste.

I make myself look nice and presentable because I don't want to be frumpy - well not all the time - but when I hear single girls talk about how particular they are about their clothes and whatnot I can't help but laugh with my DGAFF attitude.  I like to say, I'm married so I don't give a fuck, and at times I do, but when I think about how much time I used to preen and choose clothes and whatnot - do get me wrong I have my moments every now and again, especially with interviews - but now it's for a different reason.

Same kinda goes with what I say and I realize I may say things that may shock others, but at the end of the day, my DGAFF kicks in and I could care less.  I have a lot of depreciating humor and I also think that sometimes certain terms that are complete no nos to sensitive people will cringe at or be offended by it.

I don't mean to offend and I know I do at times but again...DGAFF.

I think I made two such comments and realized it as I said it and didn't apologize for it but did recognize for future reference.  I joke around with my family and friends and we call each other 'a retard' because it was a term that we used as kids and when it wasn't such a PC issue - well maybe it was but not to the point that everything is now.  

Now don't get me wrong, I think being PC has its place but why are other people in general at any given point getting offended for every little thing.  Being offended is such a subjective thing and as such, is also subject to change with people and places.  Well, I remember using the term laughing like a retard because I kinda was and realized, Oh, I'm not at home where I am free to say stuff like that, but I was referring to myself and again, referring to that time as a kid when we used to say it nonchalantly.   

Louis CK said it the best with this clip:


It would be different if I was calling someone all the derogatory terms to hurt or demean others.  Heck, people can use very ordinary, common terms for innuendos or because they are hateful and don't want to get caught saying something they shouldn't.  The word "tool" and the like.  Louis CK even talked about people using the phrase, "the N-Word" but it's so true!

Anyhoo, back on the ranch, I just want to say, I may say things but the main thing is I'm not malicious and I'm not hateful, but if I say something that others may be offended or embarrassed by...Not my problem. 

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Shock of the Day - Paying Attention

Day Two in Taipei (Jiannan Rd) and first thing in the morning, I was supposed to get on a bus but I missed it...twice!

Don't ask.

Apparently, I must be blind OR the minivan masquerading as a bus was hiding behind the ACTUAL buses so they couldn't see me nor could I see them or flag them down.  Point being, I miss the bus but honestly it wasn't meant to be.  If I had caught the bus, I may not have walked to the train station and realized, "hey, there is a temple behind it (Jiannan - hence the name of the station and the road).  Had I not seen the temple, I would not have seen the sign to the butterfly garden and the highlight of my day.

So, I was ill equipped for this little excursion as far as water goes because there was none to be found on the trail leading up the mountain.  It's a gorgeous trail but I wondered if anyone actually walks it and whether or not there are hoards of spiders barring my way.  Fortunately, the trail seems to be well maintained and has enough foot traffic for me not to run into spiderwebs - honestly, my hugest fear when walking in woodsy areas.  Not the snakes or the wasps that are noteworthy enough to garner a few physical warning signs.

No, it's the sticky and invisible webs and their builder/occupant.

I'll tell you why:  They spiders here are FREAKISHLY large here.  I kid you not.  The body - not the span of the legs - but the body of a few spiders were the size of my hand...from finger tip to wrist.  Add in the leg span and these mofos are about the size of a plate, I bet!  Scary to say the least but what's worse is they look and may actually be the ones that capture birds and eat them.  Because the big ones need more food and bigger prey, they are higher where they are likely to capture bigger prey which brings me to my shock of the day.

PAY ATTENTION not just at your feet but EVERYWHERE!  One because I love to take pictures of buggies and you can literally find them everywhere, but also because those huge mofos are over head and look when you suddenly realize they are just above your head, you tend to get paranoid about them jumping ship and landing on your head.  Not really the most ideal of situations but a situation that can be avoided if someone were to carefully look for the web as well as the triggering strands that hold the main structure of the web (Not sure what the actual term is, but I'll go with this!").  Well, now you don't accidentally want to knock that strand down because then the spider may be just as surprised as you and then land on your unfortunate head.

Most likely freakin' out, too, I bet but none to pleasant of an experience.  

Back to paying attention, so I love to take pictures of bugs.  I've always had a fascination with bugs but these critters of the 6-legged kind are fascinating here in Taiwan as well as beautiful.  I found myself in an amazing butterfly park with more butterflies than I've seen in the wild.  There were also various spiders - as mentioned above and others.  I spent a few hours there but I could have spent almost the whole day there had I been smart enough to bring water.  Example of me not paying attention. 







I did however pay attention to where I was stepping as well as the side railing and most definitely above me.  There is one particular spider (4th picture down) that scared the bejeezus out of me because it's body - not body and leg, ONLY BODY -  was the size of my hand from wrist to fingertips!  I would look under other stuff just so I can get a glimpse of a cool looking bug or something that catches my eye; I was happy to say the least.  I spent quite a bit of time there but I was keeping track if I was getting dehydrated, also noticed that the clouds were quickly rolling in quite fast so I ventured to the closest mall at the base of the mountain and just waited out the storm.

I took over 200 pictures of bugs and in my hast to escape the storm, I lost a valuable which I'm hoping to somehow find when I go back next week.  Another thing PSA: Pay Attention!!!