Saturday, August 13, 2005

Typhoon Haitung

It's not here, yet, but it's coming. I decided to turn on the TV so that I could find something out about it, as I couldn't find anything on the web. I heard one weatherman (I think that it was on CNN - they haven't turned off the cable, yet, assuming, perhaps, that one day I'll pay - hahah! They would be wrong!) say that if this were in the Atlantic, it would be rated a category 5. I saw on the web that Hurricane Emily is considered a Category 4 and "extremely dangerous." So this must be worse. I can't tell the relative sizes of this typhoon versus the hurricanes that have hit Florida in recent years, though, I just know that on the satellite pictures, the typhoon very much dwarfs Taiwan. Right now, on the satellite picture, a small arm is smacking the whole of Taiwan. We haven't even gotten to the big stuff. . .

My co-manager called me up to warn me about it - it's supposed to hit, tonight. One of my employees also called me up to let me know that we should not go into work, tomorrow (the government declared a day off - in advance!).

I'm hoping that the power stays on. I feel so petty. Here, people's crops may well be ruined, flooding may ruin people's possessions, houses, lives, but what do I care about? The power.

I'm not sure that there is a way to capture this on film. But I should take a audio recording of the howling of the wind. It started around noon, today, and hasn't really let up. I suppose that a headache from the howling wind would be considered a minor inconvenience should that be all that happens. I decided that I'd better try to protect the glass of the sliding doors in the apartment by shutting the metal gates that are intended for theft prevention on the front balcony. The rain sometimes comes down as if someone was in the sky pouring buckets of water down. As some of my employees have said, "there's big rain."

When I was asking where would be a safe place to observe the Typhoon happenings, I was pretty much told nowhere - or, rather, from the safety of the apartment. On the streets, the biggest concern is with wind, picking things up and throwing them around, and stuff that is up, coming down, like all of the signs that the various stores have. Trees coming down is another concern. When I suggested the riverside park, I was told that that's not safe due to possible flooding. The hills can become oversaturated with all of the rain, and then the landslides start.

Haha! I just taped my sliding doors, and there is no more howling. Very happy. . .

Anyway, be safe. I'll report back after the Typhoon, assuming that power and communcations remain in tact.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Happy Valentines Day!

I thought it was some weird joke when I received this greeting, today (August 11), but since I'd already been greeted with Happy Father's Day on Monday (August 8), I was starting to get the idea that things were a little different, here. I still have to find out exactly what one should do on these days, but I think that it's really just another excuse to eat, and eat I did - shabu shabu (individual hot pots - where soup is boiled at your place setting and you dump food in and cook it). Unfortunately, all of the hot pot places that I've eaten at are "all you can eat" and I *always* take that seriously, no matter how stupid it is to do so. I'm sure that I will be some number of pounds heavier when I return to the US, unless I can curb my desire to eat hot pot. The other reason I like it, though (I've had it at least twice this week), is that I can get nice, exceptionally hot food. The peppers here are really and truly hot. You don't HAVE to have it hot, and most people don't, but there are those of us who just can't seem to have enough. Have to get those endorphins flying. . .

I weathered another typhoon, a much milder one, but had another day off of work, and had another nice run on the closed river park (but this time I saw a guy curled up asleep on a chair under an overpass, so I can't say that I was completely alone) after the typhoon blew past, saw a number of scooters on their sides, but not nearly as many branches and trees down as last time.

I also had another episode without airconditioning. It was not a good thing. Four weeks ago, I started noticing sudsie water apparently coming up out of the drain in my back balcony, and I thought it was from my washing machine. A day or two later, I realized that I'd not done a wash, recently, so maybe it wasn't *my* water. The next week, I did a wash, had no problems with the water, and then, the following day, noticed sudsie water, again. I told my apartment manager. I also told the security guard (one who speaks excellent English!) about the situation, as well as another guard whom I tried to tell in my broken Chinese. The English speaker told me, they would have to snake it. Great! Go ahead. Two weeks, later, I woke up all hot, and just assumed that I'd had a tumultuous night, and for some reason looked on the back balcony, and discovered that it was completely flooded. 4 inches deep. Higher than that, and it just rolls off the top of a ledge in the balcony. They came and pumped out the water and then snaked out the drain. Problem solved; they went away. That night, I realized, gee, this air conditioning just isn't working. I called the agent. Unfortunately, for me, the next day was the typhoon, and the government declared a "no work" day. Fortunately, the typhoon brought less than hot weather through. Saturday was still bearable, and Sunday was not. And then I discovered that the dryer also didn't work. A friend came over and discovered that it was "leaking" electricity - that is, he touched a side panel and got a nice little shock. I unplugged it, and called the apartment manager once again. Fortunately, clothes dry pretty well when hung (which is what I normally did, anyway, so the dryer not working wasn't too big of a deal).

On Monday, after several nights of splitting headaches, and cursing hot weather, everywhere in the world, and in Taipei, in particular, someone came to look at the air conditioner and dryer. They discovered that neither the washing machine nor dryer were safe to have plugged in - they would both need to be replaced (glad I didn't electrocute myself when I used it!). They realized that they would have to replace something that wasn't easy to replace on the air conditioner ("can you wait 10 more days?" "No, this is the middle of AUGUST, the hottest month of the YEAR!"), but figured out a way that they could temporarily fix it. So, I spent one more hot night ("only 27 C" one of my employees told me! - that's 81F! - anything above 72F/22C is pretty much too hot for sleeping to me), before a temporary fix to the air conditioner was installed, and I was able to get cool enough to stop snapping at people. Did I mention that I don't do well in the heat?. . .

Yesterday, I received the new dryer and washing machine. Tonight, I tried to get some employees to explain to me how to run them. They know a lot of English, but translating the buttons on a fancy washing machine was quite the challenge, and I still don't know how to work it, completely.

Ok - have to get to bed - stay cool, and Happy Valentine's Day. . .