Hau defends construction fatalities online database

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚) said the latest version of the map can serve as a reference for homebuyers to identify whether a property is “haunted” before purchasing it.


Not Star Trek Generations.

Last questions from March!

How well do the generations blend? Is there as much as a youth/senior divide as America has? Do they have old folks homes there? Or do generations live in/live together?

This is probably the toughest one because I’m not part of a multi-generational Taiwanese family, so I can only speak from the experiences of some of my friends and what I see around my neighborhood.

A friend in Taipei is an unmarried young professional woman in her early 30s. She lives with her parents, who are in their 70s, and also her grandmother, who is in her 90s. There is nothing abnormal about this. In fact, when I tell people that I live in Taipei but my parents live down south, they are a little horrified that I’d be so far away from my parents and alone in this big city. When I tell them about Gene, they’re placated, but still sad for me that I have to be so far away from my family.

My exercise teacher is a 63 year old grandmother. One of her daughters still lives with her, while the other lives in another city because of work. Both granddaughters – a high schooler and an early elementary schooler, children of the divorced daughter living elsewhere, live with their grandmother. Her own mother lives in an old folks home a few hours drive away in the city my teacher grew up in. She’s one of the younger siblings in the family, so her brothers and sisters take more care of their mother than she does.

One of the professors with a Fulbright here this year chose to live in a retirement community, since he and his wife fit into that demographic. It seemed like they loved their time there and found it filled with interesting people and fun activities.

My neighborhood is fairly intergenerational. A lot of grandparents taking care of young children while parents are off at work. Grandpas with babies strapped to their chests out on early evening strolls.

There are a couple of little neighborhood old folks’ social spaces set up by the city government. It’s basically a living room – couches, a TV, a small stove and hot water boiler – for the retirees to spend time with their friends in.

I’m not sure about the divide between youth and seniors. Certainly, they occupy more of the same space than they might in the US (although that’s a shaky assertion on my part), but I don’t know about the level of communication occurring within the shared space.

You ought to hear my exercise teacher complain about her teenage granddaughter’s hair. “It’s always in her eyes! She’s hiding that cute face behind it and she just sulks all the time!”

Some things, I believe, are universal.

More questions! Getting to the ones I avoided because I don’t know the answers to them, and as any “good” academic, I’d rather not admit to not knowing things. (sarcasm alert, friends)

Do children watch cartoons? What are the movie theatures like? What forms of dance are taught to kids?

Cartoons: Yes, but I haven’t watched Taiwanese cartoons in ages and can’t answer this well! When I was a kid, a lot of cartoons on TV were dubbed into Mandarin and came from either Japan or America. Flipping past cartoon channels now seems to confirm this is still the case.

Movie Theater: This I can answer!
The biggest difference I learned when I went to my first movie in the US where I was buying tickets (so, childhood doesn’t count) was that Taiwanese theaters give you assigned seats, while in the US getting good seats is a free-for-all.

Otherwise, check out the photos of the movie theater nearby where we live and see if you spot much different. Probably it all looks pretty familiar.

Ticket purchasing:

Concessions and entrances to 4 theaters:

Perhaps another difference is that instead of occupying a lot of horizontal space, theaters take up many stories, either in their own buildings (older theaters) or inside a department store/mall. The theater we’d always go to in high school occupied the 13th – 16th floors of a 17 story shopping mall. Check out their floor guide here!

Dance: So, I stopped by a dance school nearby and pretended like I had a friend with a 6 year old daughter who wanted to take dance classes. They recommended beginner ballet. Their sign outside advertised all other kinds of dances (including belly dance, folk dance), but it seemed their course offerings inside featured the expected styles of western dance – ballet, tap, and modern. If you meant to ask about dances elementary schoolers learn at school, those are mostly silly motions pantomimed to go with music. We did a lot of that in Taiwanese preschool and I can’t say I’ve ever missed it.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Applications are due on October 15, 2013, but your educational institute may have its own internal deadlines first.

·Description: These fellowships provide support for 8-12 months abroad for those with a well-formed international research projects and/or study plans. The program aims to facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think.

Picture 1

·Eligibility: (1) Must be a U.S. citizen; (2) Open to all disciplines; (3) Other eligibility criteria varies widely – research the profile of your prospective host country to determine if you meet the minimum requirements.

For quick reference, here’s the website for Fulbright Taiwan, my host commission.

·Award: Monthly stipend based on cost-of-living, round-trip transportation, accident and sickness health coverage, and occasionally additional benefits such as tuition fees and dependent allowances.

·Website: http://us.fulbrightonline.org/

Three weeks from today, Gene and I will be on separate flights headed to the same destination, Chicago.

I think our most difficult goodbyes began today.

Photo 263

This morning, our foster cats moved to their new foster home. Their crying as we got them into carriers nearly broke our hearts, but I tell myself that they will eventually adjust and be happy in their new place. It’s just a matter of time.


A metaphor, perhaps, for the coming weeks.


They do still need a permanent home. If you’re in Taiwan, please consider sharing the posters linked below, either online or printed out and posted in public places.

Adopt Luffy & Sweety (English)
認養 Luffy & Sweety (中文)

I always forget about American Father’s Day. It’s sometime in June, but one of those variable Sunday holidays that hasn’t ever stuck in my memory.

Father’s Day in Taiwan, however, is impossible to forget.

And that’s not just because Wellcome offers special deals on shaving cream, razors, deep friers and scales. (Wait, what? Equal opportunity size-ism in Taiwan?)

In Mandarin, the colloquial word for “father” is “爸爸 ba ba.” In Mandarin, the number eight is 八 ba.

Therefore, August 8 (八八 ba ba) is clearly Father’s Day. Simple. Easy to remember.

I wish it was so easy in America.

If you forgot Father’s Day back in June, let your father know it’s Father’s Day in Taiwan to make up for it! That’s what I do every year.


Propitiate v. 1. trans. To make well-disposed or favourably inclined; to win or regain the favour of; to appease, conciliate. OED

Today is the first day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar. In popular religious culture, this marks the opening of the gates of purgatory/hell, from which ghosts are released to roam the world for the month’s duration. The culmination point is on the 15th day of the month, the full moon, when the gates are at their widest point and grand rituals are held all over to feed the ghosts and save them from their suffering. After that climax, the gates will slowly close until they shut at the end of the month, and the world is safe from most wandering spirits for another year.

Roughly speaking, all the spirits of the deceased are allowed to roam the earth for this month. This isn’t so bad if it’s the spirits of one’s ancestors to whom one makes offerings to normally anyway. These ghost know where home is, they know where to go once released.

The problem is that the ghosts who do not fit into the system of offerings to ancestors (those who died unmarried or without descent, or those whose families have forgotten them) remain starving in purgatory for most of the year. Also, those who died in unfortunate accidents or murders might harbor grudges against the living. These hungry ghosts wander. Therefore, fear is a real part of this month-long festival for those who believe in its occurrence. Offerings of food, special paper money, and incense can help to ease their starving souls and placate their anger and sadness.

Propitiation comes in because if these ghosts aren’t placated, they are supposed to cause all kinds of mischief and disaster over the course of this month.

The roots of this festival go deep into traditional Chinese culture. It transcends Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism to encompass all practitioners at once. Over this next month, I hope to go into some aspects of this month – both historic and contemporary means of marking its passage.


For further reading:

Teiser, Stephen. The ghost festival in medieval China. Princeton UP, 1988.
Teiser, Stephen. The Scripture on the Ten Kings and the Making of Purgatory in Medieval Chinese Buddhism. University of Hawai’i Press, 1994.

Jordan, David K. “Gods and Ghosts” in Gods, Ghosts and Ancestors: Folk Religion of a Taiwanese Village. University of California Press, 1972.
-The entire book is available on his delightful website, where he has other resources for the study of Chinese religion and culture as well.