Wednesday, 27 June 2007


My Taiwanese sucks, I know it and viewers remind me of it, through phone calls, emails and forum posts to the station.

BUT today, I finally got an encouraging comment. :)



I had a really really really rough day, but I think I'll be going to bed happy.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Taiwanese anchoring, take three

This time, I anchored the 10h00 Taiwanese news with 張筱芬 Sharfren Chang. It may have looked just peachy on-screen, but was a hilarious mess off-screen. The reason we were paired together was probably because then I wouldn't have so much to cover and bear so much pressure by myself. However, the problem was that Sharfren isn't a Taiwanese speaker either. She's Hakka and is still learning Taiwanese, like me. She is better than me, though.

After anchoring the 8h00 Mandarin news, I shot like a rocket out of the studio and landed right into the seat next to Sharfren, who had been prepping since 7h00. For the stories that we were going to present together, she'd already translated the Mandarin into Taiwanese for me. All I had left to translate were the stories I was going to read myself.

Luckily, we had Taiwanese editors Liao Tianen 廖天恩 and Chang Lanchi 張嵐綺 sitting next to us, teaching us how to say everything. I appreciate them so much because they did it out of the goodness of their hearts. Tianen was usually on his way home by then and Lanchi was supposed to be prepping to anchor the 11h00 news.

Before we went in, Sharfren and I agreed that she'd control the teleprompter and speak first, which meant she had to keep advancing the teleprompter for me as I continued the lead. However, she kept forgetting keep scrolling and I had to keep looking down at my paper copy. Every time she realized that she had forgotten to keep going, she'd nearly jump out of her seat. This happened a handful of times, and I didn't mind it that much because I felt almost no pressure, since it seemed like she was soaking all of it up. To me, it was just funny to watch her jump up and down and swing her hands up and around in between stories. The first block was really rough, because we were still trying to get used to each other. Then between forgetting to keep stepping on the teleprompter pedal for me, an accident happened on the freeway and the editor/producer stuck in an anchor-only lead. The program director told Sharfren to read it and while the reporter tape rolled, between shrieking and getting help from Tianen who came into the studio with us, she figured out how to say it and then delivered it very nicely. Then disaster struck. Originally, she was supposed to go straight into a story about sun screen after the car accident flash, but she overscrolled the teleprompter and it jumped to the story after that - my story about drowning children. First, she had no idea what in the world she was reading because the story wasn't hers and second, I rewrote the lead using a bunch of English characters to help me pronounce some of the words. I have no idea how she made it through, but she did and when the tape rolled, it was the tape on sun screen! We both freaked out, because she just read something that came out of nowhere and had alien language in it and the tape that followed what she read had nothing to do with what she read. Between the jumping up and down in our chairs and squeaking between gritted teeth and paper copies flying around, the director quickly told me to explain that the images we just saw were of sun screen safety and then go on to read my next story about a politician's campaign banner getting stolen. I didn't even notice her counting down and by the time I realized that it was my turn, I was already on screen and was practically fumbling through my paper copies. Somehow, I came to quickly enough and made it through. I was so so so worried that our squeaking got aired, but Sharfren assured me that we magically came to our TV senses and stopped right when the PD said "three, two, one." God, it was a mess. Two squeaking girls can really escalate matters, but two professional anchors can really recover fast. Whew.

One really nice thing during our hour was that KMT presidential candidate Ma Yingjeou had just announced his running mate and we had two long live reports from the scene.

What a mess, but what an experience. That was probably the first time they put two female anchors together, and most definitely the first time they put two non-Taiwanese speaking people up there, anchoring in Taiwanese.

Surprisingly, no one complained to the FTV anchors' forum...yet.

Big thank you's especially for Sharfren for keeping me covered, Tianen and Lanchi for helping us with Taiwanese, and PD Kunguan for taking these pictures.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Did you know

Things you may not have known about me:

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Voice over talent
2. Web master
3. English teacher
4. Fund manager (intern)

B) Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Roman Holiday
2. Sabrina
3. Judy's Lucky Jacket
4. Tonari no Totoro

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Irvine, California
2. San Francisco Bay Area (Mountain View, Cupertino, Los Altos Hills)
3. Tokyo, Japan
4. Taipei, Taiwan

D) Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. Sex in the City
2. CSI
3. Oliver Twist
4. NHK morning dramas

E) Four places I have been on (a real) vacation
1. Aomori, Japan
2. Hawaii when I was little
3. ??
4. ?? means I need to go on more vacations

F) Websites I visit daily:
1. for work: Liberty Times, China Times, Apple Daily, UDN, online Chinese dictionary, Google
2. friends & family's blogs
3. Apple movie trailers
4. NY Times

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Tofu
2. Vegetables
3. Steamed egg pudding 蒸蛋
4. Ice cream

H) Four places I would like to be right now:
1. Danshui playing with the 4 monsters
2. Tokyo hugging Pearl
3. art class
4. ballroom class

I) Four pet peeves:
1. last-minute cancellations
2. last-minute cancellations that were decided days before
3. bad table manners
4. waiting to eat

Dominican reunion

Two weeks ago with friends from junior high school.

Quiet afternoon

-鄧麗君, 雨液花 -

Enjoying a 2005 South African Cabernet Sauvignon by myself at 14h00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, listening to Teresa Teng 鄧麗君 singing 雨夜花. Interesting combination. Interesting thing to be doing on a weekday afternoon too, I must say.

I've been drinking Chilean Merlot for a while, and I realized that it's a little too bold for me. It's like a big handsome guy sporting too much cologne and breath freshener and walking around in pants that are just too tight to please the eye. I need something a little more sophisticated I think. This Joostenberg from South Africa's West Cape seems to work.

It's been a long time since I've enjoyed anything. Dad asked me the other day if I still had any wine left at my flat. To his surprise, I said I did. So today, I decided to open a bottle and "enjoy" myself and to do a little bit of reflecting.

- Billie Holiday, "He's Funny" -

Once in a while, I get funny feelings about how certain things will work out. I'm usually more than 90% confident and just keep going or plowing, depending on the situation, waiting for those things to happen, like reaching the finish line at the end of a crew race. But for the first time, despite my confidence, I quit halfway through.

- Duke Ellington, Sophisticated Lady -

I don't know how sophisticated quitting makes me, but it's an interesting experience to go through the emotions that I've never felt or have forgotten along the way. For once, I'm at a loss of words to describe how I feel. It's as if my canvas all of a sudden grew bigger, the white edges stretching themselves out and people at the paint shop just invented new colors.

Life is so interesting, pleasant or otherwise.

- phone call-

So ironic how single men my age don't want to take me out to dinner, but married men in their 50's keep calling me to have coffee.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Train wreck

Blogging live from Yilan where two trains collided this morning around 10h30, killing five and wounding 16. Railway authorities are cleaning up the mess of mangled metal right now, but they don't expect rail traffic to resume until after midnight.

It's been seven hours since I've arrived at the site, and I've done about seven live reports so far, and it looks like I'll be here to do some more. The weather has been miserable. First it was scorching hot and I was wilting beneath my jacket and hat. Then as the dead count started to rise, the heavens began to cry, pouring down rain and striking thunder on the tragic scene. Soaked from the waist down all the way to my toes, I was freezing cold. When the rain finally subsided, raging winds picked up. Aside from my note pad, shoes and socks, everything was dry again in an hour. Still freezing, hungry and thirsty, the wreck was still a wreck. Then the head of news gathering calls and said that I should prepare myself to stay the night and that she'll find someone to anchor for me tomorrow morning. The bad news is, I'll be at the site until whenever they finish cleaning this mess and then I'll have to find a cheap little motel to stay in and only sleep half a wink before having to get back to the scene to start reporting again. The good news is, they think I'm good enough and want me to continue handling the scene and that I won't have to do the Taiwanese news tomorrow morning! So far, it looks like they'll let me go back in time for my 14h00 Mandarin show. My cameraman for the day is grumpy, I'm wet and gross and tired, but I think I'm doing well despite the circumstances.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Look at that funny foreigner!

I gathered up some courage and peeped at the ratings for the Taiwanese news segment that I did. Surprisingly, they were right on par... In fact, we gathered more viewers in the second half of the show. The audience must have been amused at the foreigner trying very hard to speak their language.

And just when I thought I was safe from ever having to do the Taiwanese news again (or at least for a while), they've slotted me in again this weekend. I'm going to cry.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Dinner with Grandpa

At Hujiangyan 扈江宴 in Taipei last week.

Quite tasty!

+886 2 2778-9667

Mini reunion

With two of my very very very best friends from junior high school, Gina and Trendy, two weekends ago.

Both are on the way to becoming quite accomplished women.
Trendy just got her pill counting, I mean pharmacy doctorate.
Gina just quit her job and is going to Harvard Business School in the fall.
Over achievers!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Biggest disaster yet

Just as I had feared, my Taiwanese presenting was a disaster; absolutely, definitely, unarguably, for sure the biggest disaster of my career yet. I tried my best, but there are times when "best" just isn't enough. I give my performance this morning a 30%. Gosh, I feel bad. I know it wasn't my fault, but being put out there and making a fool of myself on national television just isn't pleasant to say the least.

I just called my MD and apologized for the poor performance and told her how terrible I feel about the whole thing. She said she didn't see it, but that it was OK and we all have to start some place. Wait until she actually sees the tape. Oh boy.

Someone left a nasty but honest note on the FTV anchor forum. I replied to it, basically apologizing and promising to do better. Here's the link for people who read Chinese:


I have to say though, what I gained is a triple shot of reinforcement on my will to master Taiwanese, and a very big increase in my embarrassment threshold.

Being humbled is good. Very good indeed.

I would like to especially thank PD 坤冠 for being very patient with me and trying to keep me relaxed and for taking photos of this memorable morning, editor/producer 曉婷 for coming in early to pick stories and for stretching time by cutting over to the MLB match, and Taiwanese editor 天恩 for teaching me Taiwanese and coming into the studio with me.

Here are pictures from this morning, courtesy of PD 坤冠.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Tape review

Wow, my eyes half-close when I don't know what I'm talking about! What an interesting discovery!

Last weekend when I went to borrow the tape of the segment that I presented, the archive room told me that the DVD broke. While I was a little disappointed, at the same time, I was relieved that I didn't have to see my embarrassing debut. Then today, an editor/producer told me that there's another file saved on a hard disk and that he could show me if I wanted to. He said, "you're my friend so I want to help you." I was so touched! 頑張らないと!

It wasn't so bad! I stumbled a few times, read 2 characters wrong, but other than that, I thought that it wasn't disastrous as I originally feared it would be. My MD didn't say it was good (she never does) but she didn't say it was bad either. Others seem to think it was a good start. Gosh, I'm relieved!

After reviewing the tape, I realized that I need to look a little confident and smile a little more. I think those things come hand in hand though, and I don't think I'll have either during tomorrow's Taiwanese segment. It's Mission: Impossible! If I get stuck, I'm going to start speaking Japanese. I don't care.

I don't care about the hair and make-up right now. I'll sort out the kinks when I can handle my anchoring.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

River tours

A new addition to the fleet of river tour boats. Currently the largest of all river vessels in Taiwan. Not quite impressive, though, but the food (catered by Sheraton) is acceptable, and the view from the boat is quite nice.

(photo from Nikon Club website)

(photo from Nikon Club website)

(photo from Nikon Club website)


A couple of weeks ago, I went home and had a sleepover party in my room, except I was the only one who wanted to party and they only wanted to sleep. Oh well.

In similar shoes

This is my coworker who is in a similar position as me. She is Hakka and going through the same pains as me to learn Taiwanese in order to present in Taiwanese. Normally, she's the morning news anchor and does noontime news on the weekends. Our MD is either crazy or has a lot of faith in us. Here's Sharfren's story:!xivo8ISBGBYLhZJ1lHmP0ocJQc8-/article?mid=1592&prev=-1&next=1548

Monday, 4 June 2007

Falling apart

I lost it today. I lost my temper and was very rude to my boss. Unfortunately, I was the one who was completely wrong this time. It's not an anger management problem. It's a stress management problem. Must de-stress. I don't think I've had so much acne before, not even during middle school. One more day, and it makes 9 days on shift. After that, another 12 straight days, with a day of Taiwanese anchoring somewhere in there. Never have I felt so much pressure before. If I can make it through in one piece, I don't think I have much else to be afraid of. Not for a while at least.

Everyday in the next two weeks, I must:
1. practice Taiwanese
2. practice de-stressing
3. go to bed before 22h30

Good night and please pray for me.

Sunday, 3 June 2007


I made my live Mandarin newscasting debut yesterday! I never knew I could be so nervous to wake up with almost 20 pimples on my face. It didn't go that well, but I think it was passing.

First I did the 1100 China Airlines news, then the 1400 cable news. CI news went OK. I did it for four days about a year ago, so I was somewhat familiar, though still a little nervous. The associate producer (AP) told me I needed to smile a little more. I was so nervous I forgot to do that. So I kept it in mind for the 1400 news.

The 1400 news was quite different - it was a full hour of news, something like 30-40 stories, where CI was about 15 stories plus a BBC segment. I didn't manage time properly and couldn't get through all the scripts before heading into the studio.

When I did the CI news last year, political stories were hard for me because I didn't know the political scene well. This time, it was the baseball stories that nearly killed me. It was a huge MLB day and about a quarter of the stories were on baseball. Two or three of them were anchor scripts, which mean I read and read and read forever. I wasn't familiar with the terminology or the people, so it was so so so difficult! I paused in the wrong places, even read one of the team names wrong (I don't know half the teams' names in Chinese) and it was just a nightmare!

After 8 stories, I thought I was going to faint. I thought the commercial break would never come. Eventually, it did, and while the program director yelling that my pauses were a HUGE problem, I zoomed through the stories coming up in the next block and prepared for the worst.

Thankfully, blogs two through four were much shorter, which bought me a little more time to go through stories in the next block, but GOSH, was it scary!! Chinese is no joke for me! I almost had a nervous breakdown in there. I still can't believe I survived.

If you saw it, now you know why I looked so grave.

I can't believe they want me to do Taiwanese news next weekend. My Taiwanese is not even up to conversational level. This is not funny. I'm going to DIE.