Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Patty takes the cake

After rolling out two stories this afternoon, I get a call from Patty, one of my very best friends from junior high school.

Patty: Hi Michella. Are you still at work?
Me: Hi Patty. Yes, I am. I'm always at work. What's up?
P: Oh, nothing much. How much longer will you still be there for? There's something I want to give you.
(Thinking to myself, I see Patty an average of once a year or every two years, and she has something to BRING me? She's not likely to come all the way to my office just to trick or treat me...)
M: Um, I'll be here until at least 20h00. What's going on?
P: OK, I gotta go home to get it first. I'll be there in an hour or so.
M: Oh my, this is starting to sound like more than "something." Is this a WEDDING INVITATION???
P: No, it's not an invitation...
M: Is engagement cake (喜餅) then???
P: Yes, it is.
M: Oh my goodness!! Congratulations!! Oh my goodness!! Oh my goodness!! Oh my goodness!!

It's tradition in these parts for the bride side to give out engagement cakes or cookies at the time of engagement. Out of my closest friends from junior high school that I've kept in touch with, Patty is probably the first one to get married. Trendy's wedding is coming up soon, but I never got her cake or invitation and am totally lost on the wedding date that she keeps pushing further and further back. She asked me if I would emcee her wedding, but now I have no idea when it's going to be. So, Patty takes the cake, literally.


I love dragon fruit

Recently, I've started buying lots of things over the Internet and through the post (because I don't have the energy or time to go out) - a pair of shoes, eye make-up remover, atomizer, dumplings and most recently, organic red dragon fruit through Amy. Oh my goodness, they are so beautiful and healthy and tasty that I just can't get enough of them. But my god, I think I may have bought too many. I sold 2 to a coworker and gave five to Mom and Dad and Grandma (Weng), but I'm still left with 25.

If I start looking like a dragon fruit by the end of November, you'll know why.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


(picture via TVBS news)

Last Thursday, I followed a story in the newspaper about an eleven-year-old boy who is paralyzed from waist down since birth. His mother spends 24 hours a day taking care of him at school and at home, so does not have time to work and so lives off of welfare. His father owes a lot of money and is AWOL, leaving Mom and five children to fend for themselves. Other siblings are either married or away at college. Take away college expenses for brothers and sisters, medical bills, rent, mother and son only have TWD 200 (a little less than USD 6) for food each day. They don't have money for a wheelchair, so Mother has to carry him everywhere. Only at school do they have access to a wheelchair. At home, he gets around by crawling on his elbows and hands. And every four hours, Mother has to help him urinate by putting a tube into his belly button, where doctors have put in another tube that connects to his bladder. To keep his body developing properly, he has to wear braces around his torso and both of his legs, which his mother has to put on for him. But he's grown out of those braces, and they're so financially strapped that there's just no way they can afford new ones. Imagine having to come up with NTD 60.000 when you only have NTD 200 to live on every day. They're trying to stretch the life of the braces by adding longer straps to them or stretching them out using objects they find in the house. But they're so small that they hurt the poor boy and he has abrasion marks all over his body because of them. Grim as their situation is, the boy is more positive and full of sunshine than anyone could imagine. He tells his mother, "Mom, don't worry, I'm going to be president of a hair salon chain one day so you can live comfortably."

Here's the story:

半身癱瘓只能爬 陽光男堅強 (25 October 2007)

11歲陽光少年 半身癱瘓 只能爬



半身癱瘓 張育瑋 (朗讀課本):


半身癱瘓 張育瑋:
5.6.7節 (脊椎)骨頭本來應該是白的
所以就下身癱瘓 因為壓到神經



半身癱瘓 張育瑋:
這個也是 這個是前幾天破皮


[[ns 唱歌]]

半身癱瘓 張育瑋:


張育瑋的母親 李桂香:
來 爬上來
來這邊 媽媽幫你穿


張育瑋的母親 李桂香:


民視新聞 翁郁容 吳政諺 台北報導

Saturday afternoon, the mother called me. She said, "Ms Weng, I just wanted to thank you for your help." When I finally came around to realizing who she was and what she was talking about, I asked her if people have offered help, and she said, "yes." What about the braces? Has anyone helped with those? "Yes, people have bought us new ones. They've all been paid for. And the bureau of education is going to see if they can help us with other things." Oh gosh, I was so happy for them! I feel like I've finally done something good and got to exercise the social responsibility that media so often brushes aside. It was really encouraging. But if the mother did not call to let me know of the outcome, then I would have had no idea that what we did actually meant anything.

Being shown appreciation is so encouraging. Phone calls like these mean so much to me. And comments, emails, text messages, phone calls from family, friends and viewers are so important to me too. It feels great when you guys let me know that you're there and that you saw one of my reports or my anchoring. So keep those messages coming! Advice and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated too!

I'm quite happy today, actually. I also got a letter at the office today from a viewer down south. It was a request for a photo of "主播翁郁容," (Michella Jade Weng, anchor) along with an enclosed envelope and stamp. Yay, I have a fan! Hopefully this one is not like the one that stopped by the office again today.

I have a stomach ache, neck ache and headache, but I am a happy girl today.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Claire's housewarming

Lily, Abby and I visited Claire at her new home yesterday. It's a really warm little flat with a loft where she keeps her books. So this is the home of a novelist, we all thought.

Hospitable and warm as she always is, she kept feeding us snacks and food from the 15h30 when we got there, all the way until when we left at 23h00.

I wanted to bring her something nice, and since I didn't have much money or time to find and buy her something, I decided to share with her a part of my lifestyle. Maybe you can call me a cheapo, but I bought from Nonzero some nice olive oil, fig balsamic vinegar, a jar of oven dried cherry tomatoes in olive oil, and from Dean and Deluca some dried prunes and figs and a nice, long baguette. Actually, it wasn't cheap at all, but I thought it would be fun to share an experience that she will remember for a long time, and maybe continue to experience if she likes it. Aside from foodies or people who've been overseas, Taiwanese people don't really eat bread with olive oil and vinegar. I think it's a healthy and fun alternative, especially when the whole stick of baguette sits in the middle of the table and guests reach over and tear off a piece every once in a while in between chit chatting.

We chatted about work, mostly. We talked about insane supervisors, funny coworkers, stories we've done, people we've met, places we've been while on assignment. Claire's a very senior reporter who's seen almost everything. She keeps a blog on her work, and it's quite well-written, so we call her "the novelist." Perhaps one day she will be come a novelist, you never know.

Lily, who started about the same time that I did, is now an expert on Taiwan's agriculture industry. She's been doing embedded advertising for the Council of Agriculture for the past two years and hops all over Taiwan, doing stories on great agricultural products and breakthroughs - anything from gigantic clams the size of one's face to organic farming to orchid production. We call Lily "village chief." We were saying that she should write a book too.

I have no idea what the future holds for me, but we'll see.

Reporting can be really interesting work. Although I hate what I have to do sometimes, but I think I will look back at my reporting days one day and be very glad that it was a part of my life.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Better, thank you

Thank you, friends and family for cheering me up over the past week. I feel a little better.

I've dealt away with one source of stress - text messages from that guy. No, I didn't hire anyone to kill him. Somehow in my sleep, I've learned to ignore his unpleasant messages and read the other things he has to say, like suggestions and tips he has. I won't make contact with him and I don't look forward to getting his messages, but at least the messages don't drive me crazy me anymore. See? Problem solving works. As long as there's a consciousness to deal with a problem, they get solved one way or another, consciously or unconsciously.

Last night was a little rocky, though. I was really uneasy about waiting outside the hospital for the body of the president's security detail. In the end, we didn't see the body nor the family before we left (at 19h20), but we did see another body - the wrong body. I don't know whose body it was, but it was wheeled out into a van in order to be transported to a funeral home, and everyone thought that was it. Cameras started flashing and film started rolling until the guy from the funeral home said we have the wrong one. I didn't see a hand or any other deceased flesh, since it was covered under a white sheet. But in any case, it was chilling. I don't like those things. I'll take Du Zhengsheng's uncooperativeness over a dead body any day. 啊彌陀佛.

Anchoring today was a mixed bag. Ruiying left me to anchor Taiwanese on my own, again, that heartless man. Thank god Tianen and Zhaoyang came to my rescue and helped me a little bit, otherwise I would have crashed and burned even more horribly. By no means was my delivery smooth today, but it was much, much, MUCH better than it would have been without any help. And Grandma, (GRANDMA who is known for criticizing people and performance more than anything!) even called Dad from Kaohsiung to tell me to call her so that she can tell me "good job!" When I least expected it, she was very encouraging and also gave me some good advice - to find all the different vowels and consonants in Taiwanese and go through all of them in front of a mirror and find the best looking lip shape while pronouncing them. I'll do that. Thank you, Grandma.

After the Taiwanese, I did one hour of Mandarin (which went so so) and 45 minutes of China Airlines news (which also went so so). But before my airplane news was over, the director told me that I am to go back into studio one and cover the 11h00 news for Ruiying until he comes. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha. He had overslept, and I ended up doing all of his news today. I don't know what they'll do to him (most likely nothing because the MD just absolutely loves him), but I got out of it a half day off (because his hours and my hours added together was enough to apply for a half day off), more air time, more practice, credit for helping the rest of the crew, credit that he owes me, and possibly a chance for management to reconsider putting us in the anchoring chair early in the morning after getting off a seven-day reporting night shift just a few hours earlier.

Things always seem to go better when expectations are low. Now I will expect that I will never find the keys that I think I lost this morning and will have to request the landlady to re-key the three really expensive locks. Maybe this way they'll turn out.

Going to work at four in the morning, you have to be really careful about where you place your things, including your brain.

Time for bed. I'm getting up at 3h30 again tomorrow.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Waiting outside the emergency room

Outside the emergency department at the National Taiwan University Hospital. A soldier standing guard outside President Chen's residence killed himself while on duty this morning. He was just 27 years old. He was brought to this hospital at 8h50 and pronounced dead at 12h20. Roy and I were sent here at 10h00 to get footage of family, police and the military. It's been more than seven hours since we got here, the sun is going down, it's freezing and we still only have pictures of nothing, not even those of the body being transported to the funeral home. I hope someone will be sent to relieve us soon, because waiting in the cold for a mourning family and a dead body certainly is not enjoyable. And to think, I have to get up at 3h30 to anchor the morning Taiwanese news at 7h00 by myself too. Sigh.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

What makes you happy?

In desperation, I reached out. And surely at the end of my arms and fingertips, I found a helping hand - Ping Chu's (朱平).

Mr Chu wrote that happiness is a choice that requires intentional effort. That got me thinking: what is happiness to me and what makes me happy?

Happiness to me is staying on top of challenges - such as tasks, jobs or problems - and being recognized for doing well. Happiness to me is also making people happy. So for the time being, I've decided to go back to focusing on solving the problems that have been bothering me, and to try to create a little bit of happiness for the people around me.

Hopefully this works. Thank you, Mr Chu.

Now it's time for me to go to bed and wake up to a brighter tomorrow... at four in the morning... It's back to Ketagalan Blvd for me and Roy, starting at 6h00, thanks to a very democratic nation that loves political rallies. Which means, we get to document and be a part of history tomorrow. Wish us safety and luck. :)

Sunday, 21 October 2007


I think I'm at that snapping point again. One minute I'm laughing, the next minute I'm crying. After anchoring four segments this morning, I decided to go to yoga. For some reason, I started crying at the end of yoga class (without anyone noticing) and then right after exiting the yoga studio, I ran into a pack of reporters, including my coworker, and I was laughing my heart away, chatting with her. Now I'm crying again.

Then the other day, I was rude to a county magistrate because of a small alcohol problem I've apparently developed. And yesterday, I was rude to someone (who was arrogant and incompetent) at the education ministry.

I'm really losing it. I need to get out of here. Maybe after my voice over job tomorrow, I'll take a train to Yingge and walk around and maybe make a ceramic bowl or two. Aughhhhh!!!!!!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

New record

Dayou must have made a new record with 8 short messages in less than 24 hours. He's driving me insane, especially getting those messages when I'm sleeping. And to think that he was waiting for me for me downstairs the other day...

He called and I had one of my male coworkers answer. That seemed to do the trick because he didn't make a sound on the other end.

This is awfully annoying, and I'm sure he won't be the last one, but I'm having a very difficult time not letting it bug me.

18 October, at 20h42:
郁容妹妹 八月底聽說妳鬱鬱寡言、落落寡歡,我心裡五味雜陳。多少事在腦海上下浮沈,我能做什麼呢?我心若刀在割。妳不言不語,傳簡訊再多,也像石沈大海。我努力幾个月後,已有些微收穫。寶來證卷集團與東南旅行社等投資的福利網公司,我也參與協助,可能也有点眉目。動物照片及光碟收到了嗎?感覺任何?妳指導一下。如果有興緻,還有下一波。八張照片請笑納。如能博妳一笑,勝過千言萬語。昨日下午至晚上八點多在民視 ,也不敢影響到妳,只好悵然而回。明天又排一堆事,就像明日又天崖。不知何時能再見一面。四个月前一次錯失,我是後悔莫已。能有再次機會嗎? 從大佑處

18 October, at 21h37:
郁容妹妹 我是大佑哥哥,下星期從日本要來的妳那位長輩,我或許可幫忙一些。聯合報影劇主管粘嫦鈺、王祖壽、時報週刊副總編兼採訪主任張怡文、壹週刊裴偉等互動二十多年,交情還在。有用的上嗎?

How do you not let messages like these bug you?


At the dinner with Tainan County magistrate Su Huanzhi (蘇煥智), there were also a few people from the media there - anchors and news producers from CTI, TVBS, and Sanli. It turns out that they were there because they had booked interviews with Mama for the coming days. I found it ironic that FTV had not. I told my assigner about this event months ago, and they didn't seem interested. Tonight, I was given a pat on my back by one of the editor/producers for the joint interview that I did at the kick-off PC, and they said we should make sure to get her schedule for the next few days so we can do more stories on her. Well, that puts us at five steps too late. From a news standpoint, our advantage was that we knew about this month ago, and our relationship with Judy Ongg (through me) was probably stronger than any of the other stations. To have this and then still fall behind is a bit difficult to accept. Watching TVBS cover the speech at the university and Sanli airing their exclusive interview and then not seeing anything of the sort on our screen makes it even more difficult to take in. Sigh. I don't know. I suppose it's none of my business anyway. I did my job, and I guess that's all that matters for now.

(images via TVBS news)

Lucky me

I didn't ask to be sent to interview Mama when she was in town, but my chief editor decided to send me after all. And expecting that I wouldn't be able to attend the dinner hosted by the Tainan County magistrate, my cameraman said he'd cover for me at the airport disaster drill so I should go to the dinner and just meet him when he's done filming. Lucky me! didn't even have a chance to have half a conversation with Mama, but it was nice to at least see her for a little bit. I don't know when I'll have the chance again. Sigh. After New Year's? After the presidential election and inauguration? That's more than half a year away! :(

My MD gave me the day off from anchoring tomorrow, because she saw the roster and thought I'd be too tired to anchor right after a week of night shift. This is the first time I've been given a day off after the night shift. I don't know what prompted her to be so considerate. Hm. But I appreciate it, and I'm glad I'm a lucky person.

(images via TVBS news and Council for Cultural Affairs press release)


I'm finally off the night shift. I thought it would never end. But after working 8 straight days, who wouldn't be tired, let alone working these crazy hours.

Tomorrow, I have to work on getting back into the right time zone, because I have to be at the station by 3h30 to anchor starting from 06h00. Starbucks isn't even open at that hour. Gosh.

I plan to wake up at 9h00 (and not be able to craw out of bed until 11h00) to have brunch, vacuum the floor, do the laundry, fertilize the plants and go to yoga. My body is aching terribly. Then after yoga if I can manage to walk home that is, I'll shower up, take a sleeping pill and go to bed by 20h00. Somehow I don't think any of this is realistic at all. We'll see. I need a vacation.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Survival mode

My desk, after some de-cluttering

My newest friend - Lady's slipper orchid

It's been one month since I decided to stick it out at work and to deal with the fatigue somehow. For three weeks, I've limited myself to only going from home to work and back home after work. Social events for work and yoga and one wedding were the only exceptions. No friends, no family; I've stripped everything down. It feels like hell week when I was doing crew in college - row, eat, sleep, lift, eat, sleep, row, eat, sleep, row, eat, row, row, row... Except this hell week has been going on for three weeks and I don't know for how many more months it will last.

Aside from when I have to write my stories, I've been trying not to think, and it's been hard. It's also been hard trying not to try too hard, if that makes any sense at all. Sometimes I still end up really stressed out, and sometimes I end up producing work that is almost questionable.

I'm still tired, but I think at least the fatigue hasn't gotten worse. But then because of the typhoon and of the night shift, I haven't had to get up in front of millions of people to blunder through the news in Taiwanese for a few good weeks. And since I'm on the night shift, I don't have to deal with my boss more than half as much as I normally have to. I don't know how things will change next week, or how well tomorrow will go, all I care about right now is just getting through each day, one story at a time.

I never thought I'd enjoy being alone, but I'm really enjoying it now. I never thought I would ever like the rain, but even the sound of car tires running along a wet road sounds nice to me these days. Rather than spending time with friends, I've been spending time with my flowers, looking at them, and buying more of them. Rather than listening to family talk about their latest happenings, I've been listening to music - mostly classical music. This doesn't sound like me, but I think I'm enjoying being someone else, for now.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Photos by Michael's new Blackberry

Looking pretty good after running around all day in the typhoon.

99 out of 100 pictures, Michael has looks like this.

This was at our cousin Melisa's wedding. Who has pictures from the wedding? Please email them to me!

Cool blog on raw food recipes

The Daily Raw Cafe
- check it out!

Du in trouble again

Minister of Education Du Zhengsheng went with the President and other cabinet members to a disaster briefing during the typhoon, and fell asleep. Du wouldn't admit that he fell asleep, saying that he only closed his eyes for a moment, but was still listening. Known for bending the meaning of idioms (罄竹難書), defending the introduction of strange new idioms (三隻小豬) giving strange reasons for his actions (shoving a reporter's microphone out of his face because "it was filthy with bacteria), etc, the media and MP's had another field day with him.

During an Executive Yuan meeting three days after the disaster briefing, he was caught on film "closing his eyes" and picking his nose.

Falling asleep is not a crime, but time after time of not admitting mistakes gives more and more arsenal to people who have an agenda. While it's true that there are other things to report on (like always), I think the media chose to put every one of his actions under the microscope because it was payback time.

(pictures via TVBS)

Typhoon Krosa

Images from various presses. According to the Council of Agriculture, the typhoon caused TWD 749 million (USD 22.9 million) in agricultural damages. Taipei lost a few hundred trees, suffered some flooding and cars being smashed by billboards and the such, but since it's mostly a concrete jungle, the damage wasn't so bad. After two days of arriving at work at 5h00 and 6h00 to do lives for hours and hours in the rain and wind, I was pretty tired. But I was happy.

(pictures via Google News)

Light-sensitive wall calendar

(via Shiyuan)

Wall paper mania - interactive wall paper

"Artists Taylor and Wood, designed Frames. It's a completely interactive wallpaper - you decide what you want it to be - whether you want to put up your youngsters art, paint directly in to a frame, or put up family photos - it's up to you!"

(via swissmiss)

Watch the flowers grow as the radiator heats up.

Heat-sensitive wall paper

(via Gizmodo)

Suppose if I put these in... My landlady would probably have a cow and evict me for putting things on the walls, or evict me and enjoy the wallpaper herself. Gosh, they seem like so much fun!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Typhoon #15 (Krosa)

Typhoon #15, named "Krosa" is approaching the island, and all reporters (except those getting of the night shift) have been called in to work tomorrow. I will be reporting live from the wholesale produce market from 06h00 tomorrow morning, slipping and sliding on produce bits and the rain. Not very pleasant, but at least I won't be in danger of getting blown into the ocean. Hopefully this typhoon will not be as deadly as the media always secretly hopes it is.

(picture via Yahoo TW news)

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Interesting article on demining in Taiwan

Taiwan's biggest ever 'demining' mission underway
By Max Hirsch
KINMEN, Taiwan Sept. 27 Kyodo

It looks like a calm, pristine beach -- just the kind of sandy cove that an ailing local economy would need to draw in beachgoers and boost tourism.

(read on at

Monday, 1 October 2007

Morning at the looney bin

I spent the morning at the legislature education committee meeting. As expected, it was unproductive, and the air mostly filled with voices of legislators yelling.

The final version of the story came out to be nearly five minutes long, at the request of the managing director herself. I found it so amusing that I'm even reproducing the transcript here. Usually, I hate these stories, but it was especially funny today and I almost enjoyed it.


12年國教.直銷.故宮案 藍委狂轟杜


立委 (國) 李慶華:
建議你去當衛生署長 你覺得怎麼樣

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委(國) 李慶華:
這個立法院的麥克風喔 (呼呼)


立委 (國) 李慶安:
叫大家好好去想一想 探討一下

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶安:
是啊 所以我們在這邊就來談啊

教育部長 杜正勝:


立委 (國) 李慶華:

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶華:
你究竟是什麼部長 你人格分裂掉了

教育部長 杜正勝:
沒有 我沒有分裂

立委 (國) 李慶華:

教育部長 杜正勝:
沒有 因為我...

立委 (國) 李慶華:
的薪水? 你人格分裂的很嚴重耶

教育部長 杜正勝:
委員 你也是面臨同樣的處境

立委 (國) 李慶華:

教育部長 杜正勝:
對啊 同樣的處境啊

立委 (國) 李慶華

教育部長 杜正勝:
委員 你如果到了北京 到上海去
敢這樣講 我是中華民國的
立法委員 那時候 (拍手)
我自然而然 我就會稱讚你啦

立委 (國) 李慶華:
唉喲 我已經講了很多年了啦


立委 (國) 李慶安:
升學門檻 學生要會唱英文歌
要唱八首歌 要講八個笑話
它是不是畢業門檻? 有沒有定案?

技職司長 張國保:

教育部長 杜正勝:
所以勒 這個程序也都沒有完成

立委 (國) 李慶安:

教育部長 杜正勝:

(鈴響) 時間到


立委 (國) 李慶安:

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶安:
造成下面無所適從 一團的混亂

教育部長 杜正勝:
委員 我剛剛已經講了

立委 (國) 李慶安:

教育部長 杜正勝:


立委 (國) 李慶華:
說是因為直銷 台師大整個
部長 針對這個事情 你什麼態度?
直銷風侵入大學 你贊不贊成?

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶華:
故宮弊案 你的主任秘書薛飛源
你覺得你有沒有責任啊 部長?

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶華:

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶華:
那是司法問題 你有沒有一點
政治責任 而且行政責任啊?

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶華:
你要不要道個歉啊 部長?

教育部長 杜正勝:

立委 (國) 李慶華:


立委 (國) 洪秀柱:
你現在做部長 是民進黨執政以來

教育部長 杜正勝:
委員 不必為了妳的黨

立委 (國) 洪秀柱:
我心知肚明? 好啦
就說民調是假的啦 你位子坐最穩


民視新聞 翁郁容 洪紹裕 台北報導

Lovely to see this is what we pay our legislators and ministers to do, isn't it? Lee Qinghua and Lee Qingan sure are something. Hong Xiuzhu is a fiery one, but not as interesting. When Li Ao stops by, it gets really fun.

(pictures via TVBS News)