Saturday, August 25, 2007

Health Warning: Yellow Fever -

Here's what a Canadian worker, came up with and forwarded to my field mates in response to the very tasteful color I painted my living quarters:


Health Warning:  Yellow Fever - ___ Township Strain


Yellow fever is a viral disease that can transmitted to humans who are unprotected when visiting Mark's house.  Illness ranges in severity from an uncontrollable optimism, to outright dizziness.  Some have even found themselves cheering for the Minnesota Vikings.  A few individuals appear to be unaffected by the virus, perhaps due to prior exposure to outrageous color schemes. 

Transmission of this particular strain of Yellow Fever is only known to occur when visiting the second floor of the identified ___ Township house.  Transmission is most probably due to the extreme visual stimulation experienced , or the breathing of air contaminated by the color of the walls.  It is not been known to be transmitted through human to human contact.


The strain of the disease has only been known to occur on the second floor of one certain house in ____ Township, Yunlin county, Taiwan. 

Areas considered endemic for this strain of yellow fever have evidence of yellow fever transmission to humans and/or its potential, due to the presence of both a competent vector and YFV in nonhuman primates to pet dogs of C&MA missionaries.

Risk for Visitors

A visitor's risk of acquiring yellow fever is determined by various factors, including immunization status, season, duration of exposure, occupational and recreational activities while at the house, and the local rate of virus transmission at the time of travel. Although reported cases of human disease are the principal indicator of disease risk, case reports may be absent because of a high level of immunity in the missionary population (e.g., due to vaccination campaigns), or because cases are not detected by both neighborhood and C&MA surveillance systems.

Preliminary data suggests that there is no risk of fatality from the ____ Yellow Fever virus, but mild to violent discomfort has been experienced by most who have been exposed to this virus.

The risk of transmission is greatly reduced when sunglasses are worn indoors.  Confinement to the first floor of the house has also been deemed to be 100% effective.

August 25, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Bugs are Coming!

Today the movers came bright and early two hours earlier than expected. Thankfully, I had just arrived at my new place so didn't keep them waiting. As was the case the last time this company moved me in 5 years ago, they did their work quickly and effectively. However, they were not quick enough to enable me to avoid what I had feared the most!
Yesterday I had joked with my coworkers that maybe they come over to lure the neighbors away as a diversion before the moving truck came.

As it turned out, sure enough the friendly elderly woman next door was on hand (she and a group of kids and other neighbors have already let themselves into the first floor of the house 3 or 4 times without knocking-- it's the norm in the countryside to do this apparently, at least with foreigners!). This time she wouldn't stop repeating over and over again how much stuff I had. As foreigners here in Taiwan my coworkers and I are used to hearing this sort of thing even though our possessions probably aren't any more in number than the locals, but this lady's rendition was even more than I had expected. I asked her if they had much stuff in their place, and made sure she knew that after all I had been in Taiwan for 10 years already.

Shortly after the movers arrived, the kitchen guy came and started installing my cabinets, stove range and fan, and kitchen sink. However, I'm still waiting on a hot water heater and faucet for the sink, the hook-up and washer and dryer connections. I'm also still waiting on the landlord for a long-term solution for my second floor (has at least three known problems).

Last night I was planning on spending the night... but then the bugs came. Not mosquitos like I expected, but little beatles. Dozens or maybe hundreds of them (there's nothing but fields across from my house). Since it was already dark and I wanted to get a good night's sleep, I surrendered. I retreated to my coworker's house and will try to deal with the problem today, along with getting another screen window for downstairs and a sliding room divider. And maybe I'll put out a few sticky rat traps... just in case.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday Painting and Moving Prep

Today first thing bright and early I had to make a quick trip back up to Taichung to buy more paint. I also stopped to buy Domino's pizza for the 3 coworkers helping me paint while I was away. There was only one guy working the Domino's and it felt like it took forever! I didn't make it back to the countryside until 1.

My coworkers told me that unfortunately more water collected overnight on the 2nd floor. But only a little. At least now we have a slightly better idea where the water is seeping down in the structure.

While I was gone, coworker friends Tim and Penny and Lorne helped put down most of the first coat of the first color in my living room. They also painted three walls of the 1st floor room.

Instead of the typical Taiwan off-white apartment paint normally slapped on by the landlord which I find a little depressing, I decided to go with something a little more dazzling.  You have to do it yourself anyway down here in the countryside so why not do it in style. I decided to go with a brilliant yellow and a dark purple combination. Although one of my coworkers said he likes bright colors and even helped suggest what colors I might go with, he also said to my other coworker that the only reason I can get away with colors like this is because I'm not married. The other keeps singing the song "We all live in a yellow submarine." Hey, it doesn't look that bad.

This evening in between several hours of painting by myself, I went out to buy a small table to put my telephone and ADSL box on since I'm not confident there won't be more water coming into the 2nd floor the next few days before the landlord hopefully sends someone over to begin fixing the structural damage. The lady running the shop was all excited because her aunt is a teacher at the local school where Tim and Penny volunteer and wanted to introduce her kids and entire family to me. She was all excited because she said it was the first time she had ever talked to a foreigner and she wanted to get back some of her English since years ago she had studied international trade in college. I found out there's another foreigner who teaches at a local cram school down the street, but that she's scared to talk to him because he can't speak any Chinese or Taiwanese.

Tonight I also went to the local locksmith to copy a key and get a new lock put in on my front door. He's got 4 kids-- I met the two youngest who are twins.

I left a mission vehicle in front of my new place so that when I go back in the morning the parking spot won't be taken like it has been other days. Seems like one neighbor is a little slow in moving his cars elsewhere so I might need to buy a big potted plant or two.

I'm nursing sore feet tonight and will really enjoy hitting the bed as I thank God for a productive yet tiring day.

Monday Clean-Up

Monday I used the new water vacuum I bought to help facilitate clean-up of my flooded 2nd floor. With help from a coworker, we mopped up 20 or so buckets of water in an hour or two. After that, we got started on painting. I'm going to do the two rooms of my second floor, which consists of a bedroom and small living area (plus a bathroom off to the side), in two different colors. We got the first coat of the first color down in the bedroom before calling it a day. That night, while cleaning up, I also did some water vacuuming up on the 3rd floor, which is one large room with another bath. Fortunately, the 3rd floor flooding wasn't bad at all. I only collected a bucketful or so.

Monday, August 20, 2007

One for the Books

Last night I took my second longest ride on my 125 cc scooter ever. In the aftermath of the latest typhoon, I was delayed a couple of days in getting anything accomplished with regard to my move. So after first driving a mission vehicle down with all my stuff in it and leaving it there, I went back to Taichung and just after nightfall  drove my scooter down. It only took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I was surprised at how few cars were on the country road-- most people stay on the highways. What made the trip especially interesting was that I wasn't sure all the rain from the typhoon had passed. But the Lord smiled on me and only drove through a little drizzle the last half hour or so. The wind sure gets stiff and gusty as you get closer to the ocean here!

Post-Typhoon Water

Yesterday I drove a carload of stuff down to my new home on the western coastal plain of Southern Taiwan. I was not prepared for what I saw: about 3/4 of an inch of water covering almost the entire 2nd floor. Thankfully, the 3rd floor only had a tiny bit of water leak in from typhoon Sepat. I'm unhappy not just about the water but because my coworker and I specifically asked the landlord about a column along the left wall and a spot on the roof that looked suspicious and he said there was no problem. I'm pretty sure that's where much of the water got in. Then again, in this part of rural Taiwan, you can't be too picky when choosing a place to live because frankly there aren't many to choose from. So I bought a water vac last night and after a meeting with the landlord at noon today, will try to continue on with mopping and painting.