Sunday, 30 September 2007

Feeling low, looking low

Zongru (my cameraman today) took these pictures with his brand new camera in between times when we were filming the Taipei Arts Festival opening ceremony. I was so tired I actually fell asleep in a chair, in the midst of all the drumming, clapping, cheering and blaring host's voice over the loudspeakers!

One of the few times you'll catch me without make-up. I couldn't get up this morning so was running late. ;)

Looking up at quickly moving clouds. We did a story on weather this morning so I was especially interested. Just a few minutes before taking this picture, it was pouring, thus the rain gear. Aside from the showers, it was quite beautiful today. We had really blue skies and the pretty puffs of clouds speeding by looked especially attractive.

Thank you Zongru for the pictures!

Things I love

I love flowers. I bought this little guy on the way home from work last night. It's so pretty. I should make time to draw it before the flowers finish blooming and I have to trip the stem down.

My easel, just as lonely as me.

People problems, dog problems

For many of us, a busyness is a big problem. And for many of our dogs, boredom is a big problem. In order to solve our busyness problems, we go chasing after them, much like bored dogs go chasing after their own tails. But in the end, the dogs aren't able to catch their tail, and we similarly, aren't able to chase down our busyness problems. I guess that is life and that is what makes our clocks turn.

The past few days, I've been walking home from work. It's a 20 to 30 minute walk, depending on the shoes I'm wearing, how much work I'm carrying home in my bag and how much caffeine I've accidentally consumed in the afternoon. (I don't usually drink tea or coffee, unless someone buys it for me.) After walking home and swinging by 7-11 on the way to pick up a few magazines, I walked in the door and the hands on the clock showed 9:33 (PM). Where did all the time go?! Perhaps some into throwing things off my desk at work away and then some into trying to get a hold of people at the Bureau of Health, Center for Disease Control and Taipei Health Bureau. In the end, I couldn't get a hold of the people on call at any of the three organizations and left it to Solon to figure it out, since he was deputy honcho and also off tomorrow. In any case, after a shower, squeezing two lemons to make lemonade, it's now 22h15, and I still have linens to fold and put away.

Tomorrow, my legislative depression will begin again as committee meetings at the legislature resume tomorrow. Hopefully the first meeting of the new session will be peaceful and the minister of education will not say something for the media to "misinterpret."

Friday, 28 September 2007

Dinner with sempai's

Dinner with Waseda sempai's. David on the left, Kose-san next to me, and Masako-san (Kose-san's wife) in between the boys. We're all from the Nishiyama zemi. Kose-san went back to work at Cosmo Oil (in Tokyo) and David started his own computer game company in Taiwan. It was nice seeing old friends.

I better stay home and stay quiet the next few days. It was a long, long, long day. Just three more to go until a day off. I can do it! I need more wine!


Other education reporters. Taken at the Grand Hotel while we waited for the President, Vice President and Minister of Education to arrive to pass out awards to teachers. It was Teachers' Day in Taiwan today. When you have so many big guys at the same event, it gets crazy. In the end, we didn't do the story on the awards ceremony. The story that only got made was the VP's response to charges of inappropriately using her special funds to buy doughnuts at Carrefour. I would have been very depressed if I had to write that story. Instead, Guiya, whom I sent the tape back to the station to, finished the job. I stayed on location to see if the President would say anything about it when he arrived. He said nothing. Thank goodness.

Some people say that covering political news is recording history, and everything else is just a speck of dust in the wind. Sometimes I like the speck of dust in the wind much better.


Text message I received at 22h56 tonight:

郁容小妹 這樣稱呼,妳能接受嗎?我是大佑哥哥,小媽日本大坂從事珍珠業者朋友,剛下飛機。明早我安排由大證券業者及東南旅行社組成的福利網,談合作案。只有少數幾人,妳有興緻,加妳一个,小媽不參加,後續由我接手。明早十點、中山北路二段六十号十二樓 。這福利網,會員有萬餘人,有品質控管會員及產品。

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Live from the Taipei Main Station police station

A second year college student from Yunlin Tech (located in Central Taiwan) disappeared last Friday (21 Sep) and was reported to have been found at Taipei Main Station.

Before she disappeared, she sent a text message to her mother saying goodbye, then left her mobile and wallet in her dorm room. Naturally, her family was worried to death and started asking the media for help in locating her daughter. In times of slow news (like during the holidays), the media just eats this up. Several of the papers ran the stories and several more TV stations followed. Media reported that she may have been suffering from a break-up with her boyfriend and thus decided to runaway. Yesterday (26 Sep) afternoon, on the 6th day of her disappearance, she was found at Taipei Main Station. When police showed her the new stories of her family desperate to find her, she agreed to phone home and let everyone know that she is safe and sound. And when the media got wind of her being found, it caused a small frenzy and SNG vans started setting up outside the train station.

I was working on a story about a new exhibit that just opened up at the National Palace Museum (a display of works by Lee Tse-fan 李澤籓), and got reassigned to go live at the train station. Surprise surprise. What's juicier? Mother and daughter hugging and crying in a heart warming reunion or information on a new exhibit, even if the artist is one of the most famous of his era?

When we arrived (around 16h30), she was in the back room of the police station, waiting for her mother to drive up from central Taiwan to bring her home. She didn't want to be interviewed or filmed, so was hidden very well from sight (and cameras). The police station kept us updated on the location of the mother on the freeway, and when it was announced that she has arrived and the deputy is helping her with parking, cameras were switched on and hoisted into position. Three minutes went by. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Then a female police officer started shuttling between the station and the stairwell that led to the parking garage. Still no mother. Then the door to the back room opened, and the girl, with her entire head covered by a black jacket was ushered out, through the front door and into a car driven by a plain clothes policeman in Yunlin. The police tells us that the mother didn't come and the girl will be drive home by the plain clothes policeman. So no teary-eyed mother, sobbing daughter or heart-warming hugs. Instead, we got a girl with her head wrapped in a black windbreaker, ushered out by half a dozen policewomen into a car. It really looked like a criminal being transported to county lockup or something.

What probably happened was that the family and/or daughter was too embarrassed to show their face and asked the police to do something about it. Possibly, the family waited at the other end of the station and had someone drive the girl over to meet them, avoiding the press.

It was a happy ending for the family, but not for the media. The air was filled with reporters' and cameramen's "太扯了," roughly the equivalent of "unbelievable." What the media wanted was images of a tearful family reunion and perhaps a word of gratitude to the police and media and perhaps even an apology for causing such a ruckus. Nope. Reporters were disappointed and some quite mad. Some felt the family used the media and was totally ungrateful for its help, or at least didn't show their appreciation. I was glad it was a happy ending for the family and I can finally get off work. Bu it was sure an unsatisfying finish to the story.


A-gui the baboon

This is the little guy I reported on the other day. He's a just over a month old, and because his mother doesn't know how to rear him (she threw him on the ground and left him there), now the zoo staff is in charge of raising him.

This is the other baby baboon at the zoo, born just one day before A-gui.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

2005 Wolf Blass red label shiraz cabernet sauvignon

To me the amateur, it tasted a little like grape juice. It was a parting gift from a wine dinner. Had half a bottle of it tonight.

Contemplating making my dinners just wine and crackers from now on.

Uncle Tsu's mall opens

Uncle Tsu's mall had its grand opening in Shanghai. I really wanted to go, but work didn't allow me. :(
Here is Grandma Superstar in front of the logo that looks like a person's face when you squint.

(via Mama)

And pictures from the TVBS news website. FTV doesn't have a correspondent in China and is not interested in covering anything from China. Pity.


Pianist: Jennifer Lin

Another Chinese child music prodigy. Just 14 years old at this performance.

"If you follow only one link from this blog in your life, let it be [this one]," wrote Freakonomics author Steven Levitt, pointing his readers toward this performance by pianist and composer Jennifer Lin. Lin, then 14, starts by playing Joseph Hoffman's "Kaleidoscope," then Robert Schumann's "Abegg Variations." She talks about the process of composition and discusses the state of flow, when she can improvise beautiful music instantly -- a state of mind that cannot be forced. Lin invites audience member Goldie Hawn to choose a random sequence of notes, from which she improvises a beautiful and surprisingly moving piece, known to draw tears even via podcast. She finishes with a lightning performance of Jack Fina's "Bumble Boogie."



My next "Taiwan number one" feature will be on Taiwanese tea. Have any favorite experts, tea farmers, tea houses or teas? Please email me. Also let me know any ideas you have of a Taiwanese product, service or thing that's number one in the world or something close to that.

Still at the freeway bureau

I hear that Abby will come relieve me after she finishes her feature. After seven, she said. It's five thirty. That means one more live, possibly two. I've never had so much time to read my Financial Times and to think about upcoming features I'm scheduled to come up with. Being made to wait is good, sometimes. By the way, King Kong took this picture for me.

Digital Relic

Found this at the freeway bureau. Brings back old memories. Yes, I'm still here. It's three thirty in the afternoon.

Live from the freeway bureau

It's the last day of the mid-autumn festival holiday, and people are getting ready to go back to work and go back to school. Right now I'm waiting to go live at the freeway bureau, to inform viewers of traffic conditions. Nothing much going on right now since it's still early in the morning and people are just waking up. Traffic is expected to be worst around five this evening. It looks like I'll be here all day, going live every hour until the night shift comes and relieves me. Good practice for me. Should have brought my kuma-chan and more reading material though.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Afternoon in Muzha

I suggested to my assigner that we go check out what everyone's BBQing today at Dabao Creek (大爆溪), but she sent us to the zoo and the Maokong Gondola instead. There was a baby baboon at the zoo and she wanted to see how the people traffic was at the gondola. It was a much better than the newspaper story she had us throw together this morning. I thought the whole thing was so lousy that I didn't even put my name on it. I kept telling myself, "sometimes we can only execute."

In the afternoon, we did 3 lives from the zoo and filmed some more at the gondola.

Sorry I don't have pictures of the baby baboon. Was too busy. But here are pictures from the gondola. If you visit Taipei, you must take a ride at the Maokong Gondola. I suggest you come around sunset to avoid the heat, though.

Roy's first time on the gondola

Rainbow after some light rain

If you look carefully, there's a partial rainbow on the outside of the more complete rainbow

Airhead in the air. Don't worry, this was not a real live.

Miscellaneous pictures taken during work

Fashion show

Walk-a-thon hosted by Toyota

A so-so lunch near the office

Chandelier at Sheraton Taipei that reminded me of uni. Hungry.

Small world

This man whom Uncle Peter (Dad's sister's husband) brought as a guest to the BBQ is a childhood friend of Mama and Uncle Tsu.

Small world!

Mid Autumn Moon Festival

Mom said, come home NOW. So I got in a taxi and took a 40 minute ride back to Danshui for an hour and a half and came back to Taipei.

Mom and Dad were having a BBQ, so I brought extra mouths to come help finish food - my coworkers!

Qilin, Lily and I

Lily and Qilin

Solon networking hard

Qilin and Miffy


Back to school

Welcoming day for first graders at Yixien Elementary School (北投逸仙國小)

A couple of days later at Yixien, when the principal hired a rice crispy guy to come and give treats to kids who scored high marks on their first test of the school year. Kids in Taiwan seem to always be taking tests. They're not called "test-taking machines" for nothing, I guess.

Rice crispies in Taiwan are a traditional snack, made by street vendors. In Taiwanese, it's called "爆米香," literally, "fragrant exploded rice." Rice is "exploded" in a pressure cooker that look like a cannon, heated over a gas range in a vending truck (or rickshaw, depending on what part of the county line you are). After a terrifying exploding sound (imagine a cannon getting shot out of a pirate ship in the Caribbean), the rice is then taken out and mixed with vegetable oil, caramelized malt sugar and a little bit of salt in a big, big pot. Sometimes peanuts, sesame seeds, dried seaweed flakes, etc are added for variety. While still hot, the mix gets poured into a flat mold, rolled even and then cut into rectangles. Then kids come swarming out of nowhere to buy a piece of this tasty treat. I only got to know this yummy thing after growing up, and it's quite good. They're not as sweet and heavy as the ones we make with marshmallows and butter in America, and I really like them with dried seaweed flakes. I'll eat almost anything topped with dried seaweed flakes. The explosion really makes for great entertainment. Unfortunately, they've become quite rare these days.

*oo... ah...*
*crunch crunch crunch*
*crunch crunch crunch*






Arnie's Crepes

A rather untasty tuna, ham, corn and lettuce crepe that I got after paying a rude cashier and waiting in line for 20 minutes. I don't know why people are so excited about this place.

Coworker and ex-coworker

Coworker and ex-coworker on her last day at FTV. She's now at SETTV.


A cameraman from TTV next door. He likes to call me 小金剛 (鉄腕アトム Astro"girl"?). So I call him 大金剛 (King Kong). A fitting name, I think.