Also, Happy Passover! N'stuff.
Wednesday, March 31
Thursday, March 25
Wednesday, March 24
"The rocks in his head fit the holes in hers."
I always thought that was an endearing and complimentary thing to say about a couple until I really thought about it...and...well...you're mean, mom. Not that you've ever said that about ME. No, the rocks in my head are special :).
So, on the agenda today are 3 items. Here goes:
1. Photos! It occurs to me that while I go rock climbing a lot, and it is a pretty photogenic sport, I haven't really given you guys any idea of what goes on. I'll try to do that better in the future.
2. Announcement: I am going to start a creative writing circle on Wednesdays at 9:30, at a place called The Warehouse! It's here in Kaohsiung. More details as that evolves. I'll probably post the flyer I'll make for the thing here.
3. Poem: What do you think? Want feedback.
We did not ask for much, in the beginning;
perhaps a chance to stand in the wind
on a mountain, next to a man
who might have been Jesus.
The greeks asked for heavy capes and olives
they received them, and lay on the ground
looking at the rocks and trees nearby;
babies drank wine or breastmilk,
Oh, and sometimes, they wanted just
for their smooth bodies to be lovingly sculpted
without color--so maybe we could see
how sexy they were when they were young.
Really, all the Romans ever wanted
were some brightly colored tunics.
When the technology was developed,
they showed, and brought along some swords for fun
which they lovingly shoved into people's bodies
often in a synchronized pattern, just as the painting
was being made,
so you could see everything;
the glorious armies,
the bloodthirsty or beautiful legends
rising from seas of salt water
And then the Spanish marched right on in.
They declared that this was fucked, they wanted ugly people,
and long curly hair, and halberds
for murdering the natives.
They wanted creepy children in large ornate houses,
The Americans, British, and French
wanted all this too, so that was the thing
for a while,
although it should be mentioned casually
that some of these cultures were a lot like the Greeks--
they wanted haystacks in wagons,
and they wanted to be peasants laying on the ground
in the grass, next to a newly invented bicycle
and perhaps some wine and/or breastmilk,
Until they all died or killed each other,
which is the same old story.
Then, boy, it was time to get rid of people altogether.
We began destroying people, or making them face the wrong way,
so that we could see their backs,
or the way they existed at multiple moments in chronology.
It all became rather complicated, you see.
Because we wanted people to see what we thought,
and even though that was what we were thinking,
we wanted to actually still be doing all the things we had already done;
wearing colorful tunics, drinking wine, standing next to Jesus and murdering him with a sword.
This accomplished, we began to do it more and more frequently
we began to demand it more frequently
and it wasn't enough that perhaps one hundred pictures in the world were pornographic
they needed to be nearly infinite in number, accessible at any time,
and changable according to the color of tunic
we most preferred.
We began to chase these things more and more, they became superfluous, and
so did we, and we left our bodies at work
went home, and had a mixed drink;
it was whiskey and orange juice,
and we were miserable, God Damnit,
and we had every right to be, because this was the future,
and we were not happy.
Posted by Catlard at 2:18 PM
Monday, March 22
So, conversations continue to go on inside my head, like...why hasn't Technion written back to me, yet? What will I do if I can't find a tech school in Israel? How will that, ultimately, solve the problem of being pretty bored at work as a teacher? Even better, how can I stop thinking about this and do something about it?
I'm looking at other options, and looking into living in a number of different places. But unless you have something very specific in mind, you end up with a ton of possible options (you end up looking at craigslist and fall asleep scrolling down the page), any one of which it's exhausting to pursue. I pursued Technion because it's the number one tech school in Israel, and they have an education/tech hybrid program that seems really good for me. But I dunno.
I might get my first credit card soon...took me 26 years! I reckon that I have avoided them until now because they seemed silly, and I feel like the game people play with credit and getting loans...and buying things with credit cards just to show they have good credit...is a petty game that is a waste of calories. But here I am, about to play into it. I guess, in the end, it gives you more power for a little bit of your time and attention. Most things do that...and you can continue to empower yourself to the point where all your resources come to bear on a very small portion of your day (because you're trying to gain power for the rest of the day by working or whatever). It can be frustrating. Right now I'm really feeling the squeeze of a lot of resources, and not that much time. And when I get an exorbitant amount of time, I don't ever know what to do with it.
Hey! I'm working on a new poetry series...written from letters my grandfather received and saved before he passed away. Here's one to check out:
July 13, 1944
Chinese Character of the Friggin' Day:
(Dan(4th tone) Gao(1st tone))
Actually, it doesn't literally mean what I think it literally means. Literally, I see Dan (egg) and gao (tall) and that's exactly what this thing is--it's tall egg, in a matter of speaking. But that's not exactly what those words mean. I'll give you one hint...It's also the name of a band that likes long jackets. You guessed it! CAKE. Woo!
Posted by Catlard at 4:28 AM
Friday, March 12
Some notes on learning Chinese. What seems to work and not work.
Reading: Right now I can read perhaps 40 characters, all told. I'm much better (comparatively) at reading BoPoMoFo, which is the phonetic system that is used in Taiwan (and nowhere else, I think) to help children pronounce things. I find it really helpful for pronunciation. I can read some basic stuff, if I can sound it out...
Writing: At the moment, I'm really only writing in BoPoMoFo. And I'm not that great at that, either. But I think that writing in that system helps you learn the rules that will help you correctly memorize how to write some of the monstrously complicated characters...generally, you draw lines from left to right, top to bottom, but there are (always) exceptions and different rules. But again, I can sound out basic stuff and write it down.
Speaking: BoPoMoFo is extremely helpful. It's great! But TONES! I thought I was learning them well, and then I realized I didn't know anything about how to speak them. If I attempt to speak without thinking about it very hard, I just don't use tones correctly, and what I'm saying becomes gibberish. That and I didn't really know the tones for the words I was speaking, which caused a lot of confusion on other peoples' parts. I am probably the best at speaking out of all these things. I know enough words to get around. I would estimate that I know perhaps 250 words.
Understanding: I suck at understanding Chinese. If someone isn't speaking slowly, I all but give up. For this, as well as the other items, I am going to have to get involved with a class. I think I do slightly eb
Getting motivated: I sometimes lose the ability to soak in any more vocabulary. It comes back eventually, but really, it's just sort of a steady pace. I think that if I was in a more English unfriendly environment, I would learn everything faster, but I think I would also be more motivated. It's actually easier to be motivated to learn if I am learning by speaking in Chinese, I find. Tina is especially good at helping me get back into the swing of things...either she's an excellent teacher, or I'm way better at learning Chinese whenever I'm talking to her. I think the former is far more likely :).
Grammar: My grammar is imitative, at best. I know some phrases, and I try to base what I want to say on the phrases I already know. This is the thing I often turn to learning when I feel frustrated by vocabulary. It's not quite as hard, if I already know the words, but so far I'm not so good at integrating it.
Dictionaries and other materials: Kids' books are the best. I learn a lot from looking at things which are the equivalent of the Cat in the Hat in Chinese. I would kill for a copy of One Fish Two Fish in Chinese. I also have these great flash cards with BoPoMoFo on them.
Today I learned the word for science! It's ke shwei (First tone, second tone). Literally, it means "Able to learn."
Posted by Catlard at 4:35 AM
Wednesday, March 10
Reading Moby Dick. It's infinitely deep and unreadable. Still, I continue, if only because I sympathize with the main character for being on a three year sea voyage, while I am trying to read a 400 page book written by Hermann Melville.
Also, as I have been explaining to everyone possible, I really didn't understand why people hated going to the dentist until yesterday. Now I do. I had two cavities filled. Two more thursday. SUCK.
People drilling your teeth after work is NOT my idea of a GOOD TIME. But it's dirt cheap.
Also, getting surgery in April. Small surgery, but surgery nonetheless. Contact for details. It's because of the way my last surgery stitches healed.
Posted by Catlard at 1:09 AM