Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All Other Ground is Sinking Sand

In addition to other serious environmental issues caused by the presence of Formosa Plastics, Chiayi and Yunlin (as well as other counties along the western coastal plain of south-central Taiwan) are plagued by the reckless siphoning off of ground water for agricultural (and industrial?) use, with little or no consideration for future generations. The end result of this illegal aquifer over-pumping carries staggering implications (just as it is does elsewhere in the world, as described in books like Plan B 4.0). The land is literally sinking centimeters every year!


I took these pictures last week. I’m no engineer, but it looks like these technicians working under the shadow of Taiwan’s elevated High Speed Rail (HSR) track a few kilometers north of the Chiayi Station are concerned about this issue of sinking land too (Umm, I almost forgot, I used to be an electrical engineer, but that was many moons ago in a land far far away..).


From the pictures one can see what looks like small circular slabs which have been inserted above the square shapes to maintain the original height of the tracks. Anyone out there in blog land know anything more specific about precisely what’s going on?


Below are a few links to recent articles concerning the the threat of sinking earth in relation to the future of the HSR. I wonder which will come first, a major disaster, or the reclaiming of this land by the sea (underneath highway 61 a few kilometers to the west, many tombs can be seen which are underwater these days)? With work like the above going on, I wonder how safe riding this thing actually is???!!!

Sinking earth threatens Taiwan high-speed rail

Taiwan's fast rail saviour offers unpleasant buffer

Taiwan high speed rail 'sinking'

Saturday, July 30, 2011

“Taiwan Prattler” Stats

Since Blogger has had stats available on its dashboard for a few years, this post may be nothing new to many of you. Nevertheless, I continue to be amazed at how this free service analyzes my blog’s posts, traffic sources, and audience.

For example, my modestly-viewed blog breaks down all-time pageviews according to countries as follows:


I never would have guessed that Iran would be in the top ten!

Nor would I have been able to guess that 108 of the all-time 146 views from France occurred in the last month:


There’s a list of most-viewed all-time posts (can also break down by month, week, or day). The unmerited controversy raised by the 2nd one below left me feeling a little unsettled at the time:


About 6 hours ago on this Saturday afternoon I sent out an email update to a group of 189 prayer supporters back in the US, Australia, Canada, as well as here in Taiwan. The email included two links to blog articles. I observe from the statistics that those two links have been viewed 13 and 5 times so far today: 

imageAnd the people viewing them lived in the following places: 



However, the sum of the posts doesn’t add up to the some of the audience pageviews, leading me to wonder if there might still be a bug in the service?

This article has been viewed 9 times since I published it a few minutes ago. Most of the views have come by way of the facebook graffitti application:


imageThe other statistics speak for themselves. Again, not many people view this blog, but it’s nevertheless interesting to learn where the majority of them are and what kind of browsers and OS’s you use!



Maybe in a few more years the dashboard stats feature will be able to tell us what our blog readers had for breakfast as well as their social security numbers and dates of birth!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011 Local Temple God Birthday Festival

Today shortly after our Children’s English Class ended a local god parade went by. Friends told me that the 4 or 5 men taking turns standing on the stand were from Taitung in the eastern part of Taiwan. When on two occasions I asked older gentlemen if there was a story or significance behind the event, what I heard them say is that a long time ago someone did something similar in order to ward off evil and bless/protect people.  Sorry I didn’t catch more of their Taiwanese so as to better relate the story to you!

Tonight my ears are still buzzing from the noise even though I  only observed from a distance for a few minutes. As I prepare to sleep, I’m glad that Jesus died and rose again from the dead, that his shed blood protects me from any similar evil that I need warding off from, and for his living presence which blesses me daily.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Custard Apples in Mr. Chen’s Garden/Rec Area

A unique fruit found in Taiwan and other Asian locations is the Custard Apple 釋家 shìjiā (also known as Buddha Fruit). Interestingly, the two Chinese characters above have the meaning “release home” which is another name for “Buddhist” (It’s also the name of one of my birds featured previously in this blog, named not after the religion but after the fruit!).


My neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Chen began planting Custard Apple trees over 2 1/2 years ago. Here is a sapling:


A larger sapling:



One of the smaller trees bearing its first fruit:


And some bigger ones- still much smaller than the hand-sized (and larger) fruit you buy at the market:


IMG_1605Congrats to Mr. Chen for his perseverance in planting! He will make sure the delicate tree branches are bound together properly to stand firm against the typhoon winds and heavy rain which are expected this weekend.



As long as we’re visiting with Mr. Chen, let’s take a look at the beautiful little recreation area/garden he’s been working on across the street from our homes ever since they widened the road 3 years ago…



Much prettier than the rubbish heap which other less “public-spirited” (公德心) neighbors have distastefully been creating directly across the street from my house! (pic definitely not shown!)



Mr. Chen has been investing 2 or 3 hours a day for the past several years on his little project. There are baby chickens in the chicken house.


While he’s still flattening the field to increase the size of the playing area, at least now Mr. Chen and his grandkids can begin to enjoy a little croquet (chuí qiú 槌球)!


The Chens have planted banana trees xiāng jiāo 香蕉 (above) as well as papaya (mù guā 木瓜).


I have no idea how to say the above! Can somebody help me out here?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Windows 7 Update Hiccup

After all these years, Windows still has its hiccups (yes, I know you Apple lovers- I should go with a Mac). Witness what happened after I applied the latest Windows 7 updates:


Monday, June 20, 2011

Museum of the Works of Zhu Ming (Ju Ming) 朱铭



This past week we took an afternoon trip to admire the life-like work of the Taiwanese artist Zhu Ming, born in 1938. He has an impressive indoor/outdoor museum devoted largely to his works along the northern coast of Taiwan not too far from JinShan.

Though this blog entry will be brief, the trip was well worth the visit! Special thanks to Soo and Don and Rachel for organizing the trip. Fourteen years was way too long to finally get to this place!

Below is just a small representation of what you can see there. See this link for more about Zhu Ming and his work.


Baby Bat

Came across this little fella a week ago on the blazing hot sidewalk in front of my house. It must have fallen out of the small tree. I was amazed both by the delicate intricacy of its features as well as by the sounds it was already emitting.







To give it some relief form the sunlight, I deposited it in some bushes in the field across the street.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dragon Boat Festival Weekend Sunday Afternoon Ride

Sunday afternoon I rode my bicycle for the fifth time in the last year or so down to the DongShi Fisherman’s Wharf along the western coast of Chiayi County (see my 2010 post). Because of the intense afternoon heat, I took it much slower than usual.

Usually, the tourist park is deserted, or nearly so. But because of the  three-day Dragon Boat holiday, the normally vacant beach area was swarming with families. There were no dragon boat races going on this evening, but the stands selling grilled squid, etc. were all open and doing very good business. Sadly, no one bothered to fill the wading pool area with water, but at least the fountains in the background were in full-blast for the kids and their parents to cool off in!


Due to having both the setting sun as well as the wind at my back, the 2nd half of my 70 km ride was much cooler and more relaxed than the trip down the coast.

Below I enjoyed the beautiful view of the “red forest” along the side of the river before the sun set and the bugs began coming out!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Drizzling in Puli

Yesterday, we made a day trip to Puli.

The first few times I ever visited Puli were in the days and months following the horrific 921 earthquake. We put on a summer camp there in 2000. I can’t remember for sure, but it had probably been at least five years since my last visit.

An impatient truck driver honked as we waited at the red light in front of the hill leading up to Puli Christian Hospital. Then, when the light changed to green he recklessly passed us on the left, narrowly grazing the side of my car as he speeded on his way. At the next light I got out of the car and let him know what he had done. Thankfully no noticeable damage!

In addition to a few other popular destinations in Puli including the winery, chocolate shops (I tried the ice cream instead of chocolate—delicious!) and two roadside eateries, we visited the so-called “Paper Dome”(see this link and that link).

When we arrived at the front gate of the park surrounding the Paper Dome, we were immediately impressed by the serenity , natural beauty, and artistry in the park.







By chance, the graduating class of the QingShui Elementary School of Nantou, known all over Taiwan for the quality of their music department, was there for a performance.

  In addition to music, they were good at many other things.













Amazingly, the junior high school from Shuilin Township (just next door to the township where I live) “happened” to be visiting the Paper Dome as one segment of their day-long field trip at the same time as we were. We know a number of the students personally!

My favorite part of the outing was the chance to sip an iced tea watching and listening to the rainfall while reading my Kindle at the very nice wooden tables in the restaurant area. Although you have to  buy a 100 NT ticket to visit the Paper Dome, you can redeem 100 NT in the restaurant or the souvenir shop in front of it by either getting a drink or postcards, etc.



The lotus plants to the left and right of the restaurant windows were beautiful, especially in the hard drizzle:

Visit there sometime!