Thursday, April 29, 2010

Couple in Taiwan are knitting the Earth and crafters together with "Yarn Passions"

Taipei Times fullpage layout and Hummingbird Yarn, above

Run by husband-and-wife fiber lovers, Kent and Anita Suarez, ''Yarn Passions'' focuses on importing organic and fair-trade yarns,
writes Catherine Shu in the Taipei Times

[UPDATE: April 30 -- After reading the Taipei Times article, the official representative of Commercial Office of Peru in Taiwan contacted Anita and Kent and asked for an appointment to visit them and chat about possible business cooperation. Cool!]

TAIPEI -- APRIL 29, 2010 -- Husband and wife Kent and Anita Suarez both know how to spin a
good yarn. But when Kent spins a yarn, he literally spins yarn — with
wool roving on drop spindles. Anita ( 張婧楦, Chang Jing-shuan) began knitting and crocheting
three years ago and now teaches both crafts.

Last year, Anita, a Taipei native who majored in philosophy at Furen Catholic University in Hsinchuang, became frustrated with the lack of organic, hand-dyed
yarns for sale in Taiwan.

[Blogger's note: A philosophy major? "It's a subject that I decided to study when I was 12 years old," Anita told this blog.]

So the Suarezes did what fiber lovers dream about and launched
their own yarn company last summer.

Fittingly called Yarn Passions (炙愛毛線), the company specializes in
importing yarn harvested, prepared and spun using environmentally
friendly practices. Their current lineup features luxury fibers like
buttery merino, lofty Peruvian cotton and velvety baby alpaca. Kent
also hand-dyes yarn for Yarn Passions’ own label.

“In Taiwan, people tend to think that organic is only food,” says
Anita, 23. “But the fact is we can be organic while we are doing what we
like, too.”

Booday (蘑菇) and Earth Tree (地球樹), a fair-trade goods store, recently
began carrying products imported by Yarn Passions. The company also
sells yarn through its Web site from an international lineup of
suppliers, including Japan’s Mother Earth, Australia’s The Yarn Cafe
and Woolganic, Treliske Organic in New Zealand and Peru Naturtex
Partners. The latter is also labeled fair trade by FLO-CERT, an
inspection and certification organization.

“We were particularly interested in Peru because of the social
organization that works with farmers there to make sure that they have
a sustainable source of income other than growing drugs, for example,
and to make sure that the cooperatives and the indigenous people get
fair pay for what they do,” says Kent.

[Blogger's note 2: Kent, a Mexican-American man from Moline, Illinois, went to the University of Illinois for his undergraduate studies and to Ohio State University for grad school. His major? Industrial and organizational psychology. (He's been in Taiwan for over 15 years, having come here to learn Chinese and then deciding to stay and marry Anita. He works as an editor for several organizations and publications.]

Mother Earth, which enjoys a cult following among crafters in Japan,
dyes yarns using plant materials like herbs, acorns and tree bark.
Treliske Organic, a farm that supplies wool and meat, focuses on
humane animal husbandry.

“We are animal welfare volunteers, so we also care about how animals
are treated,” says Anita. In addition to their four pet cats (also
yarn lovers), the Suarezes are also currently fostering three stray

Kent uses low-impact dyes and non-toxic mordants (substances used to
fix dye in fiber) for Yarn Passions’ eponymous label. He has created
variegated color ways with coffee bean grounds discarded by Starbucks
and tea leaves; he also wants to start growing plants that can be used
to produce pigments, including marigolds and onions, on the couple’s

“I like making things from scratch, no matter what it is. I’m the kind
of person who would not just want to cook a meal, but want to make it
from scratch and grow the vegetables on my balcony and so on,” says
Kent. He adds: “If there were a sheep farm nearby I’d be out there
shearing the sheep.”

All of Yarn Passions’ dyeing is done in the Suarezes’ kitchen and
bathroom. Kent first re-skeins and binds the yarn before scouring it
to remove natural waxes and oil from the fiber, presoaks it to remove
air bubbles and then places the yarn in a carefully mixed dye bath
that is kept simmering for an hour until the color is absorbed.

Kent and Anita usually glean inspiration for their yarns from artwork,
but some Yarn Passions colors are the result of happy accidents.
Hummingbird, which mixes green, russet, cream and tan hues, was the
result of a dye bath that separated into two different colors.

While one of Yarn Passions’ specialties is colorful hand-dyed yarn (in
addition to Kent’s creations, they also sell variegated skeins from
the Yarn Cafe), the Suarezes are also excited about cotton with
naturally occurring pigment.

“Most people only know of white cotton, but naturally colored cotton
is making a resurgence among knitters globally,” says Kent.

Peru Naturtex Partners’ Pakucho Original 100% Organic Natural Color
Cotton yarn ranges from sandy browns to soothing creams and olive
greens. Unlike dyed yarns, naturally colored cotton won’t fade or
bleed; certain colors darken when washed.

In addition to eventually opening a studio for Anita’s classes and
Kent’s dyeing, the Suarezes hope to expand their company, import yarns
in higher volume so they can bring prices down, and increase the
number of outlets that carry their products. Anita plans to develop
educational seminars about organic and fair-trade fibers with Earth

“Of course we are a business, we want to make a little bit of money,
but we also want to educate people that we are responsible for the
environment, that we have to take care of the environment and also the
animals,” says Anita.

To order yarn or arrange a class with Anita Suarez, visit Yarn Passions website ( written in both Chinese and English ) at:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My entry to win the MOI baby slogan contest:

流水號 13602
登錄日期時間 099 年 05 月 28 日 14 時 55 分 27 秒
*性別 男
*出生年月日 19159 年 08 月 13 日
婚姻狀況 未婚
子女數 無
職業類別 軍公教
個人年收入 30萬以下
電子郵件信箱 EMAIL
郵戳日期時間 2010 年 04 月 16 日 07 時 07 分
*指定送達地址 臺灣省新

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Confessions of a hardcore instant lamen lover

Confessions of a hardcore instant lamen lover

by Lisa Katayama for VOING VOING, aka boingboing

Toshio Yamamoto's earliest memory of lamen goes back to when he was five years old. He was slurping down a bowl of instant noodles at home with his parents when he accidentally flipped it over and burnt himself. "I've been eating instant lamen ever since," he says. By his early elementary school years, Yamamoto had mastered the skill of cooking noodles in a pot, treating himself to a serving of Maruchan whenever hunger struck. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion that would eventually make him a pseudo web celebrity.

Yamamoto is the man behind, a web site that meticulously chronicles and reviews thousands of different types of lamen from Japan and beyond. After we profiled his web site on Boing Boing, the 49-year old hardware engineer agreed to answer a few questions about his instant lamen obsession.

Yamamoto eats instant noodles for breakfast five days a week — Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are cup noodle days; on Saturdays and Sundays he eats the kind that comes in plastic packaging. Until recently, Yamamoto was eating instant noodles seven days a week. He recently decided to slow down his pace for logistical reasons. "For one person to chase a single theme over a long period of time is a very special thing," he says. "I feared that, if I continued at that pace, I would get bored."

The rest of his meals are "just normal meals" — lunch at his company's cafeteria, simple dinners at home. "I don't hate lamen shops, but I'm not particularly drawn to them either."

He started the web site in 1995, reviewing lamen from the 80s that he happened to have stored in his pantry. When a Japanese magazine picked it up as fodder, he decided to continue to document his culinary adventures. is a monster database with over 4,000 distinct lamen reviews — he occasionally revisits the classics to make sure the taste hasn't changed, but for the most part the site consists of new brands and special edition flavors, often from different countries. Over New Years, for example, he flew to Hong Kong and returned with over 100 packets that he's now in the process of reviewing.

Yamamoto also has a YouTube channel. Using Adobe Premiere Elements 4 and some 8mm video skills he acquired as a college student, he created hundreds of video reviews of instant lamen — precise 40-second clips with bouncy music, sound effects, and a voice over that describes the texture, the ingredients, the umami, and ends with a kicker, like "This was altered for American taste buds. It's not something I would ever choose to eat" or "The premium beef paired with ordinary noodles makes it oddly unbalanced." In some of them, you see him adding a hot dog and some cabbage. That's for nutritional balance; also, since hot dogs and cabbage are always readily available, adding those two ingredients consistently removes the possibility of a biased review. For products catered towards Muslims, like instant lamen from Indonesia, he makes sure not to put pork hot dogs inside.

The key to enjoying instant noodles every day is simple: "It's to eat while possessing a feeling of happiness." Yamamoto can conjure up this feeling by reminding himself of the universality of instant lamen. "When I think about all the people even on the opposite end of the globe who are eating instant noodles at the same time as me, it really makes me feel connected beyond borders," he says.

As for his health? So far, he reports no problems whatsoever.

It's lamen, everyone, not ramen. Ask Danny Bloom at this blog why the entire Western world is wrong to spell it and pronounce it as RAMEN when the correct word, even in Japanese, is LAMEN. He will dish the answer to you! And to boingboing too.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ciudadanos de Madrid en todo el mundo - TV show featuring Alberto Munoz in Taipei

see below

Let's teach Alberto Munoz of Spain to learn to love cho dofu (臭豆腐), since he says he loves Taiwan so much (yet he criticizes cho dofu as being his "worst experience in Taiwan")....

(臭豆腐)! yummy!
Yes, Alberto Munoz of Spain, who has been in Taiwan for 1.5 years, says he loves Taiwan and the Taiwanese people and that he will soon appear on a Spanish TV show called MADRID CITIZENS AROUND THE WORLD, having answered a questionaire about what he loves and dislikes about his life in Taiwan. In a very good letter to the editor of the Taipei Times, Mr Munoz severely criticzied CHO DOFU as if it was worse than SHIT, merde, as they say in French, I don't know the word in Spanish, but I am sure Alberto will add it here when he reads this blog.

So Alberto, why do you HATE cho dofu so much and don't you realize you were insulting the Taiwanese people by writing that otherwise very good letter to the newspaper the other day? Would you like it if someone came to Spain from a different country and criticzied YOUR SMELLY AND GOD-AWFUL FOOD DISHES TOO? Dish! Tell the truth! And repent and find God!


April 24, 2010


re The Best and worst of Taiwan

A few days ago, I received a questionnaire from a Madrid TV station that is sending a team to Taipei to shoot a cultural program called Madrid Citizens Around the World. The team goes around the world looking for people from Madrid so it can show Spaniards back home how different their lives are in other countries.

Among the many questions they asked — Why did you move to Taipei? What are you doing here? What do you miss from Madrid? — was the inevitable query as to what was the best and the worst experience I’ve had in Taiwan.

I have to say, without a doubt, the best thing about Taiwan is the people. I have never met such a friendly, kind and generous people in my life. They are always ready to help, far beyond what one would expect; always smiling at you, even if you are making a mess; always willing to listen to what you are trying to say even if your command of Mandarin is as lousy as mine.

After so highly praising the Taiwanese people, I imagine that it would be difficult for anybody to guess that, for me, the worst thing about Taiwan is the lack of respect that drivers show to pedestrians.

It is still very difficult for me to understand how such beautiful, nice people, once they are behind the steering wheels of their cars or the handlebars of their motorcycles, suddenly transform into such aggressive, rude and reckless drivers.

Taiwanese drivers will run you down if you don’t jump out of the way when you are crossing the road, or even walking on the sidewalk, as sidewalks are often used by motorcycles and bicycles, and sometimes even cars.

I could write a book about all the incidents I have suffered or heard about in just one-and-a-half years of living in Taiwan.

One funny example was when a police car failed to stop at a crosswalk, cutting us off as we were crossing the road, and the policeman inside just waved at us as we pointed at him in shock.

Unfortunately, the other stories are not so funny, like when a friend of mine was hit by a motorcycle while crossing the road at a crosswalk intersection; the young driver even yelled at him — no bu hao yi si (不好意思) this time.

So yes, the Spanish media will cover this phenomenon.

I really hope that the ROC Ministry of Transportation will take this issue seriously.

Not only does the law have to be enforced (which it currently is not), but a driver education program must also be created to teach better traffic behavior.

I wish that the next time I am asked about my worst experience in Taiwan, I could answer with a big smile: chou doufu (臭豆腐).

signed, in disgust at that terrible foul food dish that Taiwanese people love called cho dofu, because we Spaniards are superior to the yellow hordes of Asia,


YOU? = Jorge Alberto Muñoz, Jr. (Materials Science) B.S., The University of Texas at El Paso

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1000 Awesome Things is just a time-ticking countdown of 1000 awesome things. Launched June, 2008 and updated every weekday. Coming out as 400-page hardcover The Book of Awesome

1000 Awesome Things is just a time-ticking countdown of 1000 awesome things. Launched June, 2008 and updated every weekday. Coming out as 400-page hardcover The Book of Awesome in April, 2010.

Some thoughts and reviews from around the horn:

“1000 Awesome Things might be described as optimism for the rest of us. Sunny without being saccharine, it’s a countdown of life’s little joys that reads like a snappy Jerry Seinfeld monologue by way of Maria Von Trapp.” – The Vancouver Sun

“Laugh-out-loud funny, tinged with just enough sarcastic nostalgia…” –

“Consumer angst has turned western civilization into a morass of grumpy old men moaning about shoddy battery life of iPhones or the annoying omnipresence of accident claims adverts when you just want to watch a daytime quiz show. So sometimes, it’s nice to remind yourself of life’s sweeter side and the pleasures to be had from the small things — like peeling the thin plastic film off new electronic gadgets or sneaking your own cheap snacks into the cinemas. 1000 Awesome Things deserves its recent Webby Award; life really is awesome after all.” – The Guardian

“Strangely heartwarming… perfect for rainy days.” – The New Yorker

“1000 Awesome Things is the #1 awesome website.” – Frank Warren, PostSecret

“Laugh out loud. You feel like you’ve thought of these things a thousand times but just haven’t stopped to write them down.” - BBC South America

“A lovingly beautiful blog. It’s like being a three- or four-year-old and looking at the world for the first time again. Read it and you’ll feel good about being human.” – Jim Hedger, Host of Webcology, Webmaster radio

“Unrelentingly optimistic without being sappy. It’s less about awesome things than it is about seeing the awesomeness of the everyday.” – The Toronto Star

“Cool Site of the Day!” – The Kim Komando Show, #1 Weekend Talk Radio Show in the US

“One of the Top 100 Web sites of 2009.” – PC Mag

“One of the Top 50 Blogs of 2009.” – PC Mag

“Given the hectic nature of our lives, it’s easy to overlook the little things that make it all worthwhile. Thank goodness we’ve got this new site to remind us of life’s small pleasures. They’re just getting started with the list but we’ve already identified a few favorites including that pile of assorted beers left in your fridge after a party, locking people out of the car and pretending to drive away, and finding money you didn’t even know you lost. – The Record (San Joaquin County Daily Newspaper)

“A simple but brilliant idea.” - Fox News

“… the most optimistic, sunny blog online. You have to test your cynicism against this affirmation of all things and see if you can actually handle it.” – CBC Radio

“Sleeping in your own bed after a long trip, being able to carry all the groceries from the car in one swoop, that miracle of science when the amount of toilet paper left on the toll is the exact amount you need – these are just some of the quietly awesome things in life at 1000 Awesome Things.” – Mental Floss

“Best of 2009.” - All My Faves

“Geeksugar website of the day! Who doesn’t need a daily dose of awesome? From the surprising (#765: Thinking it’s Thursday when it’s really Friday) to the simply satisfying (#727: Letting go of the gas pump at just the right moment), the pain-relieving (#920: Getting the eyelash out of your eye) to small victories (#791: Getting the armrest at the movies), the site features new awesomeness every day.” – Geeksugar

“1000 Awesome Things should put itself on the list of 1000 Awesome Things. I’d hit it.” – Cheezburger Ben Huh, I Can Has Cheezburger? & FAIL Blog

“1000 Awesome Things is where the modern world stops to smell the roses.” – Ben Mercer, CFRB 1010

“Reading your blog always brings a smile to my face & I feel like I am talking to you.” - Email from author’s mother, January 12, 2009

“One of the best Pop Culture Blogs on the Internet.” - Make Five, “The Best Pop Culture Blogs”

“This site details hundreds and hundreds of awesome things — from strategic trick-or-treating to barbecue lighters. Stop by to see what’s awesome today.” – The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Laughs”

“1000 Awesome Things is a case study on how to create an amazing contribution to the blogosphere. ” – Wikinomics, “How to build an amazing blog”

“1000 Awesome Things is absolute, pure joy.” – Q107, Calgary, Alberta, “The Terri and Patti Show”

“There’s something riveting about 1000 Awesome Things that makes you want to keep coming back. Aside from the great humor, it reminds you of the little things in life, and how awesome they can be.” – Zen Habits, Leo Babauta

“Internet humor is basically pissing all over things just for the sake of pissing on them, even if they don’t particularly deserve it. Fake outrage gets a little wearisome. 1000 Awesome Things, on the other hand, is taking the road less traveled and showing that loving things can be just as funny as hating them.” – Man vs. Clown!, Peter Lynn

“Some of the things are totally random, others make you say, “YES! That IS awesome!” No matter what the topic, though, I am just intrigued to see someone being so consistently clever, and committing to it for 1000 posts. Awesome!” – Much More Than Mommy

The Book of Awesome, By Neil Pasricha

Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket and Other Simple, Brilliant Things

THE BOOK OF AWESOME gives me 14,001 things to be happy about. Bravo for taking note of the sunny side of life!” – Barbara Ann Kipfer, author of ''14,000 things to be happy about'', told Belinda Goldsmith in Sydney in a recent  Reuters (Life!) interview Down Under.

Neil Pasricha never imagined that writing about the smell of gasoline, thinking it’s Thursday when it’s really Friday, or wearing underwear just out of the dryer would amount to anything. A self-described “average guy” with a typical 9-to-5 job in the suburbs, Neil started his blog 1000 Awesome Things, as a small reminder — in a world of rising sea levels, global conflict, and a troubled economy — of the free, easy little joys that make life sweet.

It’s difficult to overestimate the response that Pasricha’s countdown of awesome things has elicited amongst both critics and readers. Delivered with an irresistible mix of spirited humor and unchecked optimism, “like a snappy Jerry Seinfeld monologue by way of Maria Von Trapp (The Vancouver Sun), Pasricha’s optimism has proved to be utterly infectious. “Life really is awesome after all,” wrote The Guardian; “Read it and you’ll feel good about being human,” said Jim Hedger (host of Webcology, Webmaster Radio). Housewives and college students, senior citizens and professionals, people from Chile and India and Bangladesh, flood Pasricha’s inbox daily with letters about what the site has meant to them. Teachers have had their students generate their own lists of awesome things. Bedridden hospital patients have written to say that the blog has shown them a new perspective; individuals struggling with depression claim the site has given them new hope; and fans from all over the world have checked in simply to say, “Keep up the awesome, man. It makes me happy.”

Now, Pasricha’s awesome things have made their way into the world of books with THE BOOK OF AWESOME.....Combining classic entries from the website with a hefty chunk of brand-new content, and accompanied by photos throughout, The Book of Awesome is a much-needed reminder of life’s happy little moments, a hilarious and heartfelt thumbs-up for the awesomeness of everyday life. Soon to be translated into Chinese for a Taiwan edition, too. Stay tuned.

TAIEX to soar past 8,499 points, according to Anal Yst Wong

Taiex set to soar past 8,499  points: Anal Yst Wong

TAIPEI -- Anal Yst Wong Securities (AYW-Taiwan) yesterday forecast the weighted share price index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange (Taiex) to soar past the 8,499-point mark by the end of this month on favorable factors including the cut of the business income tax rate to 16.9 percent from the originally proposed 19.8 percent. Anal Yst Wong, an analyst at the firm, said in his latest report on Taiex investment strategies that non-tech issues are poisoned to rally.

South China Morning Post [half-heartedly sort of kind of like] ''apologizes'' to USSR leader Hu Jintao for so-called, er, alleged, "error" in photo caption which everyone knows was done on purpose to cast a black shadow over the Chinese USSR's record on human rights.....

Aprils Fools! Right? No, this story appeared on April 15, 2010, and Hong Kong’s leading English-language daily the South China Morning Post sort of half-heartedly ''apologized'' yesterday after a photo caption accidently on purpose mis-identified China’s President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as a jailed human rights campaigner.
The front-page caption on its Tuesday edition — which accompanied a photo of Hu arriving at Andrews Air Force Base before his meeting with US President Barack Obama — put a Chinese name in brackets after “President Hu Jintao.”
However, instead of printing Hu’s Chinese name, the name of prominent activist Hu Jia (胡佳) appeared.
“The South China Morning Post insincerely apologises for the Chinese name translation error for President Hu Jintao in yesterday’s paper,” the newspaper insincerely wrote on its front page.

Copies of the Tuesday edition of the Post sold in Beijing had the Chinese characters for Hu Jia blacked out.
Hu Jia, 36, was a campaigner for human rights and AIDS victims in China before he was jailed in April 2008 for three-and-a-half years on a charge of inciting subversion, a vague charge that critics say is used to silence dissenters.
Before his imprisonment, Hu was also a key source of information for foreign media on human rights and environmental violations, government abuses, judicial injustices and mistreatment of dissidents.

While the accidentally on purpose mistake was sort of embarrassing, it would have carried more serious consequences if it occurred in a state-owned mainland Chinese news outlet where the dodgy subeditor would have been dragged out of the newsroom and shot!
However, as part of its semi-autonomous status under Chinese USSR rule, the former British Imperial colony enjoys Christian-style civil liberties like freedom of the longhair press and has a thriving press independent of government control.
This story has been viewed 14,666,362 times.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jonathan Gold loves Stinky Dofu and here's why....

"Several years ago, I went to a Taiwanese restaurant in a Los Angeles area mall. And I hated the meal I had and worse than almost any meal I'd ever had. There was soup that was sort of mucilaginous, that was - had this weird sort of sweet smokiness, like somebody had stubbed a cigarette out in it.
There was the stir fry of pork, black beans and bitter melon, which when you cook it right, it has the lusciousness of the ripest, most delicious melon you've ever had, but is bitter like cancer medicine. There was a dish with what's often translated as stinky tofu, which is this fermented tofu that can often be delicious but smells like garbage left festering outside for the entire month of August.
And as I was eating this food and hating every single bite of it, I was looking around and I realized the fault was not with the chef, who was doing what he did with great skill. The problem was with me and my cultural relativism. And I went back to the restaurant, and I went back and I went back, and I went back so many times that the waitresses were practically trying to set me up with their daughters.
And I think when I ended up writing up about it, I had been 17 times. And I'm not sure I liked it any better, but I understood it and I understood the way it could be. And I thought I was able to write about the restaurant in a reasonable manner.

Jonathan Gold won a Pultizer Prize for newspaper criticism in 2007 and is the food critic for the L.A. Weekly. He wrote a review of a Taiwanese restaurant in California called Nice Time Deli around 15 years ago and Nice Time is no longer at the original location where he visited 17 times or so before writing his final review of the place. That anecdote has popped up all over on the Internet. You can find the book version of the review here:

And Now For His Take on the Best Stinky Food Anywhere Ever...

Sometimes, we're in the mood for something delicate, turbot steamed in lemon leaves perhaps, or thinly sliced East Coast fluke in a nage of verbena and freshly picked chervil. We're a fan of delicately scented souffles that vanish into hot, eggy air at the touch of a fork, and of sashimi so fresh that the only taste is that of the sea. Still — and we type this with fingers strongly redolent of the ripe Alsatian muenster we had for lunch — there is a certain appeal to food you can smell across the room.

If you've ever, say, had the salted squid  guts at a crowded Tokyo izakaya, you know what it is to have a diner across the table smile in recognition of the delicious contents of a small dish in front of you.

While we are all too aware of the pleasures of Taiwanese stinky tofu, ripe durian from Malaysia and the notorious Filipino condiment bagoong, we would forgo all of those for a small helping of the infamous sataw, a southeast Asian legume whose name is sometimes translated as "stink bean," and whose flavor can be likened to that of a fava, times a hundred. They make you pay attention, those things.

And while there are any number of sataw dishes available in Thai and Indonesian restaurants in Los Angeles, we are especially fond of the softshell crab with sataw at the Southern Thai restaurant Jitlada, a close equivalent of tempura moistened with a complex curry that mellows and transforms the powerful bean.

[Gold has gone to some restaurants at many as 17 times. Taiwanese cuisine is different with stinky tofu that smells like a dumpster, plus bitter melon that's bitter like cancer medicine and soups that taste like someone put out a cigar in them. People were enjoying the dishes and he didn't bring the cultural values to the cuisine. He kept going back, never loved it but could explain it.]


Monday, April 12, 2010

PRESS RELEASE -- Taiwan artist exhibits pioneering futuristic images about polar cities in year 2500 AD at New York City art gallery....

theme is climate change....

APRIL 17, 2010

Taiwanse artist Deng Cheng-hong uses 3D illustrations to raise global
warming awareness

-- Art show in New York City features 3 works by pioneering climate
visionary from Taiwan

NEW YORK -- With the impact of global warming unfolding before our

eyes, more human beings could end up living in polar regions as they

might be the last places on the planet with tolerable temperatures. A

Taiwanese artist, Deng Cheng-hong, 41, has created a series of

three-dimensional illustrations portraying the idea of a possible

future world - "polar cities" or " sustainable polar retreats" (SPRs)

- to call the public's attention to the issue. Three of his

illustrations from the series are on exhibit now in New York City at

the Chashama Gallery at 112 West 44th Street.

The show opens on April 17 and runs for a month, according to Simon

Draper, the American curator of the show who invited Deng to show his

works there, marking the first time the Taiwanese artist has shown his

work overseas.

Simon, who also curates Habitat for Artists (HFA) in New York says

that HFA was initiated in 2007

and is a long-term collaborative initiative that addresses notions

about sustainability as a central component of an artist’s working

process. With this theme in mind, Deng was invited to show his works

from his ''polar cities'' series, which were inspired by the work of

UK scientist James Lovelock.

Deng is a visual designer living in Chiayi, southern Taiwan, is the

first person in the world to create these images on what the future

might look like for survivors of global warming in the year 2500. He

says that as global warming is an "inconvenient truth" that humans are

forced to face, and he hopes his illustrations can serve as a wake up


"I hope this will give people a clearer idea of what polar cities

could be likeand get them to do something about global warming," said


Writing in the British newspaper The Independent in January 2006,

Lovelock argued that as a result of global warming "billions of us

will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in

the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable" by the end of the 21st


Deng told CNA in an interview two years ago (with CNA reporter Rachel

Chan) that his polar cities are designed to house humans in the

future, in the event that global warming causes the central and middle

regions of the Earth to become uninhabitable for a long period of


Deng admits that his images are no more than a "what if" scenario, but

said he wanted to make people aware of the issue of global warming.





Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Photo by Irma Yueh (圖文:記者 余雪蘭)

By Irma Yueh, The Liberty Times, Page b-6, April 7, 2010

在夜市或傳統市場攤販常見業者掛水袋驅趕蒼蠅,嘉義市興業西路一家自助餐廳業者也在門口懸掛一整排的水袋,美籍作家 [Dan Bloom] 丹布隆 發現後大為﹁驚奇﹂,他表示在其他國家從來沒見過這種驅蠅方式,他覺得這種﹁民俗﹂驅蠅術比起歐美的高科技驅蠅更有意思,特地拍下照片,e-mail 給美國的友分享,美國友人看了也大讚﹁好方法﹂,因為這樣驅蠅不會殺死蒼蠅。

不過 (Dan Bloom) 丹布隆有次在該自助餐店用餐,發現裡面還是有蒼蠅,他懷疑蒼蠅水袋沒有效果,業者則表示,水袋驅蠅約可以減少約二成的蒼蠅入侵。



Monday, April 5, 2010

While visiting relatives in Nantou County, Taipei Times staff reporter and longtime expat Richard Hazeldine meets his grandmother-in-law for the first time.

[webposted April 4, 2010]

“Would you like to see my grandmother’s remains being exhumed?” is not the sort of question you get asked often.

But this was the proposition my wife presented one sunny Sunday morning during a trip to my in-laws’ home in Nantou County.

An opportunity to experience firsthand the “picking up the bones” (揀骨) ritual, for which the remains of an ancestor are removed from their resting place and packed into an ossuary in a second burial (二次葬), was not to be missed. Memories of Indiana Jones movies — cavernous, snake-filled pits waiting to foil anyone foolish enough to disturb the dead — flashed through my mind.

Those images quickly evaporated, however, as we arrived at our destination, a gently sloping hill behind a temple near Nantou’s main industrial district, dotted with hundreds of graves, the long grass scorched brown by intense sunshine.

There my father-in-law and six of his siblings chatted, waiting for the master of ceremonies and the two ''bone collectors'' to show up.

While we waited, my wife’s aunt wandered over and stuffed a hongbao, or red envelope, into my pocket to ward off bad luck, she said.

After a few minutes, the three men arrived. Following instructions to apologize to the cemetery’s residents as we stepped on their final resting places, we tiptoed our way across the graves.

The ritual of the second burial, according to Douglas Gildow, a PhD fellow in Buddhist studies at Princeton University’s Department of Religion, began so that the remains of people who died away from their ancestral home could be returned for reburial.

For many 18th-century Chinese immigrants in Taiwan, that home was China’s Fujian Province. But as they set down roots here, Gildow said, the practice developed into a general burial custom.

Many cultures in Southeast Asia still observe the same or a similar ritual, he said, adding that the body is usually left underground to decompose for between three to 12 years.

In Taiwan, the second burial usually takes place seven years after the first.

After being dug up, the bones are cleaned to remove any dirt or flesh before the skeleton is reassembled, painted with a mixture of wine and paint in a symbolic re-fleshing, and then deposited in an ossuary.

Despite the widespread observance of the annual Tomb Sweeping Day (清明節), many of the Nantou graves looked as if they hadn’t been swept in decades.

And despite coming from a sizeable family, my grandmother-in-law’s grave also appeared to have been rarely visited in the 18 years since she died.

No one seemed exactly sure of what to do.

After much discussion, the tall grass was cleared from around the grave and some incense burned and prayers said. A stack of “ghost money” was also burned. We waited for the astrologically auspicious time to start digging: 9:04 a.m.

I wondered why this reburial had taken so long.

My wife’s youngest uncle said that practical considerations played a role. His mother’s bones were being moved so she could be interred alongside her husband, who died last year aged 94. Having the couple in the same place would be more convenient for relatives to pay their respects.

A 2007 National Geographic short documentary film about second burials notes the practice is a way to consolidate ancestral remains at one site.

It was time to start digging. No sooner had the first bone collector plunged his shovel into the reddish soil than up popped the head of an angry cobra. A sweep of the shovel later and the headless serpent’s writhing body was tossed aside onto a pile of earth.

The first thud of the shovel hitting wood came after 10 minutes of digging. Another five minutes and the coffin lid, which resembled a hollowed-out tree trunk, appeared.

Apprehension set in. I’d never even seen a dead body before. The other bone collector grabbed a crowbar and began prying the lid off. After a few seconds of struggling he and his colleague managed to lift up the heavy wooden cover and heaved it aside.

There was no wispy cloud of long-trapped spirits escaping to the heavens, just a damp, musty smell.

The contents — a surprisingly small, brown, child-size skeleton half covered in orange earth, encrusted in what looked like rust and dressed in some tattered, old-fashioned clothes — weren’t as gruesome as I’d imagined.

One of the bone collectors jumped down into the coffin and began trampling all over the remains, heaving his shovel into the dirt with little thought for the integrity of the skeleton and tossing out the contents as he went.

First came the jewelry, hands attached. As with many other cultures, the Taiwanese often bury their dead with cash and jewelry for use in the “next world.” Several jade and gold bracelets, necklaces and a small quantity of coins followed, which were separated for cleaning and distribution among family members.

Next came the feet, followed by the legs and pelvis. Then the bone collectors moved on to the arms, ribs and spine, the bones of which had to be shaken out of the clothes and picked up from the dirt and dust at the bottom of the coffin.

Last, but not least, came the skull. The spine bones were counted. All present and correct. A quick sift through the remaining soil to check that none of the skeleton’s smaller bones had been missed and that was that.

The remains were wrapped in an old cement bag that was tied up with string. The bone collector swung his sledgehammer into action and brought it down on the headstone and grave’s wall, cracking them (to signify there’s nobody home). The bones were sent off to the funeral home for packing into an ossuary. And that was my how I met granny.

''It's a pity that she died'' -- by LAI HE, 1894 - 1943, Taiwanese writer, KER LIAN TA SI LE, (可憐她死了), translated by Joe Hung, 2010, rewritten by Daniel Halevi Bloom, 2010

''It's A Pity That She Had to Die''

PART 1 of a short story [censored by the Japanese colonizers back in the day]

A small electric light lit up the cramped bedroom of the house on a quiet street in Taiwan in the early 1900s. Let's say it's around 1925. A man and his wife, both in their 40s, sat on the bed, chatting. If you could call it chatting. Their lives were in bad shape, and things looked dim. Perhaps a tragedy awaited? Read on, dear Reader.

In the bedroom, sleeping on the bed, was their daughter, about 12 years old. As you can see, they were not a rich family, far from it. Poor people, laborers, working to make ends meet in a land occupied by Japanese colonizers from afar. 

The man said to his wife: "A-chin, you know that red slip of paper the Japanese policeman gave us yesterday, was it another poll tax bill? I thought we already we arleady paid some kind of tax a few days ago. So what's this thing about? Can you show me that bill again? I'd like to see it."

His wife walked over the a table to pick up the tax bill and gave it to her husband. This was not a happy day in their little adode.

[NOTE: The next  23 lines of the original story, totaling some 250 Chinese characters, were censored -- BLACKED OUT -- by the Japanese Imperial colonial authorities, and the original manuscript is not available, so there is no way of knowing what Lai He wrote.]

The man's wife blamed herself for the family's troubles, but she was wrong to do so. She said to her husband of 15 years: "Oh, it's all  my fault. All the money we saved .....was spent when I got sick, to take care of me. I am sorry. If that never happened, if I never got sick, we wouldn't be in such dire straits now. It's all my fault. You know, the more I think about this, I think we should sell A-jin, poor girl, looking at her sleeping innocently on the bed as I talk! What did she do to deserve this?"

Her husband couldn't believe what he had just heard. "What? Sell our child, our dear A-jin? Are you crazy? Sure, some poor folk like us sometimes have to sell their kids, but not us, no way. We only have one A-jin. She's growing up, getting older. Soon she will be a young woman. Sell her? Over my dead body!"

The man wiped a tear from his eye.

"Even if we decide to sell to some other family, to get some money, she might not want to leave us. Did you
ever think of that? Anyways, even if we don't pay the tax now, I don't think the Japs will cut my head off, will they?  Those fucking bastards! I hope we are not forced to sell our only child!"

His wife looked sad, too. "It might be better if they chop off both our heads! With death, all our
troubles will over, finally," she said.

"Remember how our friend A-deh suffered?" she added. "And remember that woman, Lo-ko Chi? Wasn't she reduced to begging for food because her husband was was arrested and locked up for failing to pay his taxes to the Japs? It's not easy living this life under the Japanese masters, and in a poor country no less."

She added: "If they come and arrest you for failing to pay the poll tax, what will I do? Well, I am not concerned so much about myself, but what about poor A-jin, our daughter, did you think of that?"