Monthly Archives: July 2011

Taiwan, part 7: What You Can Learn When You Don’t Understand

It’s a particular failing of mine, and it’s not a common one, to see only my shortcomings when it comes to using foreign languages. The better my Chinese gets, the more sharply my poor usage of connecting phrases or prepositions comes in to focus, and my inability to recognize a character I’ve seen thirty times becomes intolerable. Too, there’s something… (more…)

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Taiwan, part 6: The Tao of Boredom

A boring class is a boring class. It doesn’t matter where you are, and it doesn’t matter who. It doesn’t even matter if you speak the language or not. It could be in French, Spanish, ancient Farsi, or Martian (even ancient Martian), within five minutes of the start of a boring class you know you’re in trouble. Today’s class was,… (more…)

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The Adventures of Sycamore Chip, Sleep-Deprived Squirrel Detective: The Case of the Mockingbirds

Fresh off of his resounding triumph over the badger, Chip went in search of the mockingbird. He had worked himself into a froth over the matter of the bird’s repeating everything other people said. Since the badger had mentioned it in passing, Chip had come to see the matter as of the highest severity. The forest could not long continue,… (more…)

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The Adventures of Sycamore Chip, Sleep-Deprived Squirrel Detective: The Case of the Dead Rabbit

The real trouble with being a woodland shamus is that there’s never any interesting crime. Actually, there’s never any crime, period. What would qualify? Fortunately, Chip was still keeping up his streak of poor sleep, so in his mind there were crimes a-plenty. The forest was a seething cauldron of evil, its denizens a bunch of sad-eyed passives with no… (more…)

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Taiwan, part 5: Nerds on the Hunt, Interdimensional Trash Disposal, and the Immutable Law of Rob’s Umbrella

You learn very quickly in Taiwan never to go anywhere without your umbrella. Rain here has all the easy predictability of a ninja raid. One minute you’re walking along, enjoying the shade from a few afternoon clouds, and the next you’re waiting for Noah to float by going, “If I’d known it was going to be this bad, I would’ve… (more…)

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Taiwan, part 4: 7-11’s, Noodles so Bad They Make You Ashamed to be Alive, and Cross-Straits Family Reunions

Can anyone out there please explain to me why there are so many 7-11’s in Taipei? Near the gate of our university there are two within 100 meters of each other. No lie. And that’s not uncommon. If I didn’t know any better I’d swear they were reproducing through spores carried on the wind to different parts of the city.… (more…)

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The Adventures of Sycamore Chip: Sleep-Deprived Squirrel Detective

Sleep still escapes me. Sadly, it seems my body’s response to anxiety sometimes is short bouts of insomnia. In order to deal with this, I’ve decided to satirize the whole thing. Each time I can’t sleep, I’ll be writing another entry in a series of very short stories which, strictly for my own amusement, will combine the general plot shell… (more…)

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Taiwan, part III: Cockroaches, Bubble Tea, and Did He Just Say That?

Well, it’s some horrible time in the wee hours and I still can’t seem to get to sleep, so I’ll do some writing instead. Is it a good or a bad ambition to want your writing to put you to sleep? Today started out quite well indeed. I got to sleep just fine last night, due largely to extreme fatigue… (more…)

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Taiwan, part II: Airport Profanity Police, Middle School Choirs, and the Taiwanese ROTC

Aaaaaand. . .we’re off! It took a while to get through immigration and security in the Tianjin airport, due partly to the way the staff there runs things, and partly to my forgetfulness. I got to the immigration desk and the lady there pointed out that I hadn’t filled out one of those little yellow departure cards, prompting a profanity… (more…)

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Going to Taiwan, Pt. 1: Mashed Potatoes, Weird Meetings, and Why You Should Always Read Before Choosing a Class

I have decided, after much deliberation and soul-searching, to embrace blog-dom and actually write in standard blog fashion for my trip to Taiwan, which starts on Sunday. That means I’ll be posting fast and furious, without painstakingly culling through vast amounts of material in the hopes of putting up an opus. My goal will be to write something every day… (more…)

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