Saturday, December 30, 2006

Anniversary wandering around Dadu

One way that the former native speaker family likes to spend its wedding anniversary is by randomly driving around and looking at historical sites. (Actually, we don't need the excuse of a wedding anniversary to do this.) One year, when we were visiting my parents during winter vacation, we went to Shepherdstown, WV to eat lunch at a German restaurant, then found ourselves crossing the Potomac River into Sharpsburg and visiting Civil War battlefields. (Don't read too much into that particular way of spending a wedding anniversary.)

This year we were both working on our anniversary, so we saved the random driving for today. We started out searching for a new housing development we wanted to take a look at, but ended up taking a winding road down Dadushan and into the town of Dadu.

We drove around a little there. Then I saw a sign that said "Huangsi Academy" (磺溪書院) and we decided to drive there to take a look. It turned out that the Huangsi Academy ("Huangxi" in pinyin) is a "3rd class historical site" in Taiwan. I'm going to quote the English part of sign in front of the school (without correcting the grammar which, comparatively speaking, isn't that bad):
Huangsi School, commonly known as Wunchang Temple [文昌祠], was the culture and education center of the Dadu area in the past. During the fourth year of the reign of Emperor Jiacing [Jiaqing, 嘉慶] in the Cing [Qing, 清] Dynasty, (1799 A.D.), for the purpose of encouraging literacy, an aristocrat from Dadu, Jhao, Shun-Fang [趙順芳] and a Wurih aristocrat, Yang, Jhan-Ao [楊占鰲], cofounded Si Yong Society, later converted to Wunchang Temple. Later, Huangsi School was established on the site of Wunchang Temple in the thirteenth year of Emperor Guangsyu [Guangxu, 光緒] in the Cing Dynasty (1887 A.D.).

Huangsi School, positioned north faced south and leaned toward east, is a Chinese Quadrangle [四合院], with the width of seven rooms (seven Kaijian [開間]), two units of buildings (two Jin [進]), two wings of chambers (two Hulong [護龍]), a joint worship pavilion, and a grand front court. In the first unit, at the center of three Kaijian is the main gate, on which the swallowtail eaves cascade at the both sides, to allow the seven-Kaijian facade to spread evenly. The lecture room of three Kaijian situates at the second unit, where Wunchang God is worshiped at the center. Right in the front, a joint worship pavilian with eight-pillar and the Sieshan [歇山] style roof is decorated with characteristic eaves and vivid ceramic encrusted adornments. The passing corridors which spread two sides of the lecture room are connected to the dormitory at the wings. The exterior walls of the corridors are embellished with delicate brick carving. The architecture is vastly adorned with engraved brick carvings, from the wall panels, to the door and window frames, to the windowsills, to the semicircular-shaped dadoes, and to vase-shape corridor doors. These features make the architecture stand out from the rest in Taiwan during the Cing Dynasty.

November 27, 1985, Ministry of the Interior declared "Huang S Academy" a 3rd class national historical site.

Cultural Affairs Bureau, Taichung County
Let me provide a few pictures of what they're talking about.
Huangsi School

Lecture room

Vase-shaped door

Ceramic adornments

More ceramic adornments

A ceramic elephant

The interesting thing about these ceramic adornments is, if you look carefully, you can see that they're actually bowls that have been broken, cut, and shaped into these decorations. (The former native Chinese speaker saw a TV show that described how this is done.)

The main door to the temple
A plaque that says "Huangsi School" but, for some reason, identifies the founding year as the twelfth year of the Guanxu Emperor's reign. Wonder who's right...

Some of the carving they mentioned

This last picture is a palanquin (轎子) used to carry someone who had passed the civil service examinations and become a jinshi (進士). The phrase on the side refers to someone who had come in in first place in all of the 3 levels of the civil service examinations.

The former native Chinese speaker is convinced that in a previous life, I was a "fragile scholar" (文弱書生) who probably died young of T.B. I don't know about that, but I'm hoping being near that palanquin will help me as a scholar... (*cough*)

[Update, 8/19/16: Here's a picture of a round portal in the temple, taken more recently by Alexander Synaptic.]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Movin' and shakin'

[Updated, 11:10 p.m] Not in relation to James Brown (r.i.p.). Just had a 'little' earthquake. About 3 or 4 tremors, actually. [As Amanda says, though, it wasn't that little down south! And I just heard on the news (11:00 p.m.) that it was the biggest in the Pingtung area in about 100 years.] Here's some basic information.

[Slightly sarcastic aside: The CNN article I linked to below is notable for being one of the few CNN articles about Taiwan that does not contain the line, "China considers Taiwan a renegade province." Where were their copy editors?]

[12/27/06 update] The BBC News' website notes that communications have been affected by last night's quake:
Taiwan's largest telephone company, Chunghwa Telecom Co, said damage to an undersea cable had disrupted 98% of Taiwan's communications with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.
And Mabel Liao writes in the comments (below) from "the center of the earthquake" in Hengchun, where she teaches. She says her school was closed today because of rockslides.

Son of Frankenscheduling

We just got our schedules for the spring semester. Because this semester everyone so enjoyed the long weekend of Oct. 6-10 and the Saturday make-up on Oct. 14, it has been decided that we'll have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR make-up classes on the Saturdays of March 3, March 10, April 14, and June 9 (to make up for days off on Feb. 26, Feb. 27, April 6, and June 18, respectively). Joy joy joy.

The reasons for this are, first, to give people a longer winter break--beginning classes on March 1 rather than Feb. 26 (too bad I already bought my plane tickets). And April 6 is the day after Tomb-Sweeping Festival, so they had to give that Friday off. (But why make it up? What happened to Spring Break?) And then June 18 is the day before Dragon Boat Festival (a Tuesday), which is a day off.

So is this going to be a trend? Every semester we'll be getting these bizarre schedules? I've been around long enough to remember teaching on Saturdays, but at least it was a regular thing back then. Maybe we should just get rid of the 5-day week here and go back to the good old days...

Anybody else's schedule for spring looking like this, or are we the only ones?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Something Mei-mei would appreciate

Rosa Eberly at the Blogora asks,
What is "joyous afterstool"??
or, better
What do you have to say about "joyous afterstool"?
Well, Mei-mei always used to have joyous afterstools...

[Update: I was thinking of what A Christmas Carol would sound like if Fred's greeting to his uncle were changed (apologies to the Ghost of Charles Dickens):

'A joyous afterstool, uncle! God save you!' cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

'Bah!' said Scrooge, 'Humbug!' ...

'Afterstool a humbug, uncle!' said Scrooge's nephew. 'You don't mean that, I am sure?'...

'Don't be cross, uncle.' said the nephew.

'What else can I be,' returned the uncle, 'when I live in such a world of fools as this? Joyous afterstool! ... If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly,'every idiot who goes about with 'Joyous afterstool' on his lips, should be boiled with his own...'

And at this point, I think I'd better stop...]

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Another new book in the former native speaker's library

Today was a pretty miserable day--cold (by Taiwan standards), windy, and rainy. But the former native speaker family still had to venture out to Bookman Books on some "family business". ("Stella!"--well, got the right actor this time, at least.)

But before we get to the new book, I feel it my duty to post several photos that are only vaguely related to the content of this post, a la a certain other Taiwan blogger (his pictures are better than mine, though, I admit [as my aunt would say, he has a better camera {and I've got more parenthetical comments, so there!}]).

I've been trying for weeks to get a decent picture of the mountains east of Taichung from my Tunghai vantage point. The closest I came to accomplishing this was this morning around 9:00 when I took some pictures from the top floor and a stairwell in the new Humanities building.

In this picture, you can see the "Central Park" luxury apartment building that is going up across from Tunghai on Taichung Harbor Rd.

No photo-taking trip to Tunghai is complete without a shot of Luce Chapel:

And for lunch (actually these were taken last month):

And would you like some bland coffee to go with something from the Snake bar?

Hmmm... seems like I'm forgetting something here. Anyway...

Friday, December 15, 2006

CFP: The Journal of Diplomatic Language

From the H-Rhetor list:

The study of diplomatic language lies at the crossroads of the social sciences--combining aspects of international relations, communication, linguistics, psychology, anthropology, history, law and political science. Its analysis employs methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, that are rapidly evolving. The Journal of Diplomatic Language aims to provide an Internet-based forum for timely publication of academic-quality manuscripts that will foster development of more sophisticated conceptual frameworks and methodological techniques within this inherently interdisciplinary field.

We are currently inviting submissions from prospective authors, for the January 2007 issue, of relatively short conceptual papers that critically analyze some aspect of diplomatic language in a systematic and innovative manner. We are open to contributions spanning the entire range of topics relevant to studies of political language and diplomacy. Research reports or that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries are especially encouraged. As with any refereed academic journal, submitted papers will be evaluated through a process of peer review on the basis of quality, theoretical importance, originality, relevance to a broad cross-disciplinary audience, and clarity of presentation. Papers may present results from completed research, as well as report on current research, with an emphasis on novel approaches, methods, ideas, and perspectives.

Please forward your papers to DrHaroldBashor [at] with a short biographical sketch and abstract/summary.

Dr. Harold W. Bashor, Ph.D.
Sounds interesting...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Good news...

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Now if only the nightmares would stop...

Local donut shop closes

The former native Chinese speaker and I drove by our nearest Waili's Donuts (on the corner of Chaoma and Liming Roads) this evening, only to find it closed down and the building for rent.

Hey, you saw the prediction first here--Clyde Warden, pastry prognisticator, predictor of Taiwan donuts futures wrote,
I tend to be with the sceptics on the future of any doughnut chain in Taiwan. Foods that are not core to chinese consumption tend to be very fadish, and doughnuts are a great example. Doughnuts are not at all new to Taiwan, and they are generally of medium popularity, but the market for the raised dough, which is very chewy, is not so large. Also, with so many breakfast shops/stands, is there a need for a breakfast chain? Can people take the time to sit down and eat in the morning (which is one of the big success markets for Mister donut in Japan. Lastly, local bread stores are so numerous and very competitive, soon people will feel there is nothing special, and the idea of paying a 60K NT$ rent a month and only selling doughnuts will be like the Scotch Tape store in Saturday Night Live (too narrow a product line).
(Who says we don't track the important trends here?)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Yet another name for the former native speaker

The latest in a series:

Yesterday we were in Carrefour (which, despite having a collection of kitchy Christmas decorations that rivals Wal-Mart's, still doesn't sell dirt cookies) when a cute little kid saw me, ran to his mother, and said, "英文人! 英文人!" (Roughly, "English language person.") His mom wasn't so cute, though: "Bah! Humbug!" she spat. "What's a 英文人? He's a 外國人!"* Way to stifle your kid's language play, Mom...

*OK, so she said it all in Chinese. Without the "Bah! Humbug!" part. Anyway...

Poem on someone's birthday

(Before you criticize this, think of Rhymin' Hyman Pressman...)

Today is someone's birthday
But, you probably ask, whose?
In this poem I won't say
But I'll try to drop some clues.

When he counted his comic books on the hallway floor, he
Probably never counted on so quickly turning forty.

When he got his first glasses, which made him look kind of funny,
He didn't think that one day he'd be seeing twenty-twenty.

When he sat in his chair in the dorm and said, "Enter",
He didn't consider the day he'd be thirty and ten, or

When he went with my future sis-in-law on their first date, he
Probably didn't think about the date he'd be half-eighty.

He's now an XL but he's not that big a guy;
Now he fits just fine between XXXIX and XLI.