FA8

Poagao's Journal
Friday, June 07, 2002
It looks like Koh Samui is out for my vacation, and Tokyo too. No seats available, etc. What I do with my five days off is entirely up to me now, since I don't relish the idea of spending my free time soaking in hot springs with my co-workers. I see enough of them all day; I really don't need to see them nekkid. Well, not most of them, anyway, and the individuals I would like to see nekkid are all going to Prague, which is well out of my financial capabilities. So, I could go someplace like the Philippines for beach lying, or Hong Kong for gay club hopping madness, or I could visit Kaohsiung, where I could visit friends and practice Taiwanese with betelnut-chewing thugs as I watch the sun set on the docks. Or I could just stay home, but I'd rather get at least a change of scenery out of this time off. I'm not happy about the NT$5,000 fee to decline the privilege of dying on a China Airlines flight, but then again I'm not the daughter of the president of one of our client companies, so I'm not exactly high on management's priority list. I can't say more at the moment; I'll save the meaty bits for just before the last evacuee ship blasts off.

Tui-shou practice last night was good. Everyone there has a different style, and you can learn something different from each student. Deflecting and returning an attack is something you need to do constantly to get your muscles used to it; it's not something where you can think about that book you read or that movie you saw, and ooh, maybe I could do that thing I saw on TV...no, your muscles have to know how to do it and respond automatically. And then there's the whole "root" thing (no, not "root" in the Australian sense, you perverts). I am learning that you have to create a rootlike attachment. Some people have more of this kind of skill than others. There's one old guy who can deflect any attack and throw it back at you without even trying. "It's a matter of roots," he told me, smiling as he threw me across the room into a wall. "I have them; you don't. You will, though." I nodded as soon as I could after pulling my head out of a comically Poagao-shaped hole in the spackle. It's a bit frustrating, but hopefully I'll be able to get some of it eventually. In any case, it's an art that takes a lifetime to study, so I'm not expecting any superpowers any time soon.

Tonight I'm going to meet up with Seamus, aka Shizi, to learn about animal forms at our old stomping grounds in Da-an Park. I just know he's going to try to stalk me, since the usual target of his stalking, Dean, has been commanded by his girlfriend to fix the dryer and thus will not be joining us, opting instead to fulfill his household duties.

Today was the last day of Computex, so I went to the exhibit at the hall nearest our building to check out the monitors. I was looking at one of the LCD displays when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was Sho. He was with a friend of his and promptly accused me of skipping work. After that my monitor-related curiosity dissipated, so I thought, the hell with it, and came back to work. Unfortunately, one of my co-workers, named Terrence, has Chicken Pox. And he came to work. I saw at the office and asked him, in none-too-polite language, why he was there. "I felt ok, so I came in," he said.

"Yeah, of course you feel ok, you selfish bastard," I shot back from what was hopefully a safe distance. "What about all the people you're infecting, how are they going to feel?" He started to answer but I told him to get the hell out.

Ok, so I was in a bad mood. These fucking ICQ girls aren't helping much, either:

1618009: (5:19 PM) Hey, its lisa... want to see me in my panties? :)
Poagao: (5:19 PM) Oh, no, not YOU again! Not the brightest pixel on the screen, are we? Didn't I tell you to go fuck yourself the last 67 times you asked me that?
1618009: (5:19 PM) I love to fuck, why don't you pretend you're fucking me and go to http://Ineedkillin'/personal-webpage.html
Poagao: (5:20 PM) Why don't you go stick your head in a Cuisinart. It might stir up a few remaining brain cells.

I know a few walls I'd like to introduce Lisa to, actually. Unless she's related to a client, that is.

Thursday, June 06, 2002
Of course I was the first guest to arrive at Graham's World Cup Party at the 70's Airport Love Palace. I bought some ice and drinks, we fired up the grill and cooked hamburgers, corn, and chicken as we watched the match between Ireland and Germany. It was quite pleasant, although the more-or-less constant roar of helicopters landing and then taking off from the airport was as annoying as the stupid commercials TVBS kept inserting over the play, commercials that tried and failed utterly to make one's choice of chewing gum seem like a deep philosophical issue. I do find soccer much easier to follow than American-style football, and therefore more entertaining. Also it's easier to see the players' irked expressions after being shunted into the turf without those bulky helmets and padding.

Speaking of irked expressions, the Lewis-Tyson fight is scheduled for this Saturday, in Memphis, of all places. I'm looking forward to seeing it, even though I'm not entirely sure where and how I can watch the fight. Tyson seems a bit worried about it, which is strange, if anything can be deemed strange about a man who eats other people's ears.

Again, speaking of irked expressions, namely mine, I got this message from the bastitches at Hotmail today:

Dear MSNŽ HotmailŽ Sucker:
We are sorry to inform you that as of July 16, 2002, we will no longer be able to offer POP Mail Retrieval to Hotmail users in your area. This means that you will not be able to aggregate e-mail from various accounts into a single Hotmail account. Bwahahahahaha.
We regret the inconvenience that this change may cause (not), and hope that you will find an alternative POP e-mail solution that best suits your needs. Good luck, asshole.

Fuck you very much,
MSN Hotmail Sucker Services


This, of course, the the last remaining reason why I would bother with Hotmail. I still can't believe that MSN paid $300 million for it, and then proceeded to make it something people would actually pay to get rid of. Next they'll start charging to use MSN messenger, I guarantee it.

I decided to not go to Bali this time around. I might go somewhere else, however. I think the only possible option is the trip to Ko Samui Island in Thailand, but I'm still waiting for an answer on that. Otherwise, I might just go someplace at my own expense, or just go down south for a few days. I do really need a vacation, though.

Tomorrow is the last day of Computex. Berta and I went over to take a look at the zoo-like atmosphere after lunch at United Mix today with Vanessa and Maoman, who is in the process of creating a website of his own. We sat out on the porch and chatted about a new Tae Kwon Do class that is starting up soon.

I never officially studied Tae Kwon Do. One of the most embarrassing memories I have is of the time I did a great deal of research on nearby martial arts schools when I was in junior high or high school. Every time we drove past such a school, be it in a strip mall or a building until itself, I couldn't help but stare at it in facination, especially at night when I could see the people training inside. I wanted to study it so badly, I would open the phone book up to the "M" page and agonize over the choices in the greater Orlando area. I couldn't drive at that point, however, so although I would have loved to study Crane-style Kung-fu at the temple downtown, there was no way I could get down there on my own. Eventually I decided on a Tae Kwon Do school nearby, asked my parents, paid the money, and prepared to begin studying with an almost tangible glee.

My parents then changed their mind, drove me down to the school, and made me demand my money back from the teacher in front of everyone there. It was quite humiliating, and I'm pretty sure my parents don't even remember it. I'm just as sure they don't remember the time I won a medal at a Karate competition (I did eventually find a Shotokan Dojo near my school, for cheap) they didn't even bother attending, and when I came back, my dad told me the medal wasn't even worth the entrance fee. It was third place or something, and all I got in response was "What, were there only three people competing?" You should have seen their reaction when I tested up two belts at one test. I would have liked to see one, anyway.

I could go on with such recollections, but it wouldn't do anyone much good. When I bring it up with them today, it's as if it never happened; how could I think they would do such a thing? The result is, of course, distance, not just physical distance but emotional distance as well. Denial ain't just a river...it's the only way to fly.

But back to the martial arts and the present. I've got Tui-shou practice tonight, and tomorrow night Seamus is going to teach Dean and I about some animal styles as well as channeling energy. Now I've just got to get my hands on some energy to channel...where's Dunkin' Donuts when you need 'em?

Wednesday, June 05, 2002
I got an email marked "Urgent" yesterday morning from a friend of mine who just moved to Hong Kong to take a job at a TV production company. I met her at the Oriented thing and made her promise to keep an eye out for me for potential jobs over there. In her email she expressed a desperate need to see my resume, since there was a 13-part series gearing up for production in mainland China. It was for a show focusing on Chinese athletes or something like that. That afternoon she even called me up to talk about it. It seems that it isn't actually all that urgent, but they're still looking for a Mandarin-speaking crew for the project. Oddly enough, most of the foreigners in Hong Kong don't bother learning either Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese, presumably since they can "get by" pretty well in English. In Taiwan, most foreign residents attempt to speak at least rudimentary Mandarin.

In any case, it was a bit of a shock. I hadn't expected her to get in touch with me about a potential gig so soon. I would need time to arrange a leave of absence from my company, of course, and I would also need to arrange a lot of other things, but it would be interesting. And if this particular one doesn't work out, the company is trying to move into the mainland market more, so there could be more opportunities in the future. Something to think about, anyway.

We were warned yesterday morning that there was to be an air-raid drill from 1:30 to 2:30 or so that afternoon, so I struggled through the crowds of Computex suits to the Subway under the Mitsukoshi A8 building and managed to "accidentally" get stuck there for an extra hour at lunch. I talked a bit with the sandwich guy there, the American-born Chinese who is also a former Eva pilot, about the China Airlines crash. He thinks it was a meteor that caused the plane to crash. I hope it was, myself. I'd feel better about my chances if that's all it was. A missile would be of slightly less comfort, but still better than a mechanical or maintenence failure. Shit, I'd be happy with flying reindeer getting caught in the engine, as long as it's not something that is likely to happen again any time soon.

Dean called yesterday and said that our old sword instructor/drinking buddy Seamus was in town, so I rode over to Q Bar to meet up with them. As I walked up, however, I saw that the place was completely dark, although the door was open. I entered cautiously and managed to duck aside just as Seamus came flying out of the murk brandishing a hug for me. I'll bet you didn't know you could brandish a hug. Well, you can't. But Seamus can. Seamus can brandish just about anything.

We decided to sit outside and chat over drinks as the sun set, but the kitchen was down without any electricity, so I left my motorcycle at Q Bar and we took a cab over to Dean's place, where we watched a couple Enterprise episodes on tape and consumed a bottle of vodka along with a pizza. It was nice; we were all slurring our comments by the time Archer showed T'pol how anally retentive she was being. Seamus and I then took the MRT back to the Shi-da area, where I live and where he's staying, and since it was only midnight, we went and had some Doujiang. Seamus, just like everyone else, thinks I should smile more. I've heard this more or less constantly since I was 12, when I decided that adults who went around wearing fake smiles all the time looked like dorks. I'm sorry, but telling me to smile more is just about the best way to stop me from smiling that I can think of. I don't want to keep thinking "Am I smiling? I should be smiling, right? Is this a smile, or more of a smirk?" all the time. What fun is that?

Today has been rather uneventful, with the exception of the continuous and extremely annoying fire drills in our building this afternoon. Graham is having drinks and barbeque at the 70's Airport Love Palace after work today, since today is his day off. Fresh, greasy meat and alcohol consumed to the sound of large jet engines; it just doesn't get any better than that. Who knows? I might even smile.

Monday, June 03, 2002
The Mirror Project pictures are up, all four of them. I'm going to get tired of looking for reflective surfaces one of these days, if not just tired of looking at myself.

I was informed by our finance department that I probably wouldn't be fined for missing a few pieces of income on my tax forms. "Lots of people can't keep track of their income," she said in a tone that indicated she didn't understand such confusion from a person in my particular tax bracket. I'll get a notice from them when the time comes, telling me how much more I owe, I suppose. Everyone I know seems to be expecting huge returns this year, but then again most everyone I know is making more than I am.

Speaking of obscenely rich people, the Computex Expo is on at the Taipei World Trade Hall next door, so we're overrun with rumpled, red-faced businessmen sitting around smoking and being loud. I was at the Nokia shop trying to get my phone looked at, since it cuts out at awkward moments, as if it's embarrassed to be eavesdropping on my conversation and forgets it's a phone (odd, since the thing is supposed to be "not for the timid" according to the promotion). As I sat at the counter waiting, one of the business types rushed in wanting to buy a Nokia Communicator, but the staff didn't understand what he was saying. I was waiting for them to break into some semblance of English, but the guy rushed out again in a huff. "What did he want?" they asked me. I pointed to the model he wanted to buy.

"How much is that one?" I asked.

"NT$29,000," they told me.

"That's what he wanted to buy. I guess you just lost a sale," I said, but they shook their heads.

"It only comes with a Chinese interface." They seemed relieved that the guy would have just been wasting his time.

It's supposed to thunderstorm here for the next couple of days, according to the Central Weather Bureau, which I suspect is being a bit optimistic by posting little animated gifs with red lightning flashing out of choppy black clouds. I'm afraid, however, that the drought is not going to let up until my water-resistant shoes are either stolen or proven useless. Yes, the weather in this part of the world does indeed revolve around my choice of footwear. I'm such a selfish bastard. I should look for some shoes that would get ruined in a downpour; I guarantee you the drought would be over before you could say "No returns". Unfortunately for Taiwan's rice farmers, I cannot bring myself to purchase such shoes, which I think in most cases come with small ornamental mutant dogs genetically designed without legs so you have to carry them around with you all the time.

Sunday, June 02, 2002
I was cleaning my room on Saturday morning when I discovered several income tax receipts that I hadn't submitted when I turned in my taxes this year. Shit. It's not a whole lot of money, so I don't know whether it would be worth it to pursue a late entry tax form or not. I guess I'll have to ask someone about that. Surely this happens a lot, especially for guys who only clean their rooms maybe once every fiscal year.

Mindcrime called me that afternoon, saying he and Janice were coming up to Taipei, so I made my way over to the train station, where we usually meet. He wanted to get some pictures of the Long-shan Temple in Wanhua, so I suggested we take the MRT, since there's a station right there, but they wanted to walk instead, so we took off down Zhonghua Rd. towards the West Gate District.

"Holy shit," my friend said when he saw the old traffic circle at the Chengdu Rd. intersection, which looks a great deal more like Times Square and a great deal less like the garbage pit it resembled when he last saw it. We made our way through the throngs of Taiwanese youths dressed like Japanese youths in the general direction of the temple, while both my friends voiced doubts as to whether or not I knew where the hell I was going. On the way we passed an old building leaning precariously on a couple of steel beams that were obviously the only thing keeping the structure from falling over on its side. Just then a procession of rusty trucks festooned with flags and loudspeakers drove slowly by, the guy on top going on about independence. They were generally ignored, as usual. I took a shot of a guy making rice puffs, a delicious Taiwanese snack, and realized when I looked at it later that it captures Taiwanese street life pretty well. You have all of the elements, the scooter, the rice-puff machine, the covered sidewalk, and the building with the struts on it in the background.

My companions were rather footsore by the time we reached the temple, but Mindcrime started taking pictures immediately, so I took a few of my own. The place was undergoing rennovation, and while the temple roof was covered up, they had stuck a picture of the temple roof on the covering, like a bad matte painting. The large brass incense holders had been severely polished; so I took several pictures of it for candidacy in the Mirror Project. One little boy was so concerned about his visage making an appearance on this site took the questionable step of covering his face with a Hello Kitty mask.

After we were finished at the temple we made our way through the rows of fortune tellers and food vendors to the MRT station and took the train to the East District. There we sat down at an old tea house while Janice went to Sogo to shop, and later we went to Eslite (yes, they actually spell it that way), where Mindcrime bought some "Chivalrous Martial Arts" books to practice his Chinese. I should read more of that stuff as well. The lobby of the store was packed with people watching some sort of travel demonstration involving a kayak.

After a meal of dubious quality at Friday's, despite Mindcrime's whining that he didn't want to eat western food yet, we parted ways, and I set out for the bar at Watersheds as the last hint of daylight submitted to the ubiquitous neon of nighttime Taipei. I had arranged to meet Maoman and Berta there at 10, so I walked around exploring the neighborhood for a while. There's always little bits and pieces to this city that you've never seen before right around the corner. When the time came, I stepped inside the smallish bar to find that neither Maoman nor Berta had arrived, so I used the washroom and negotiated a gauntlet of similarly attired giggling Taiwanese women to get past the bar. More and more overtly fashionable people strutted in, and the place was definitely taking on a distinctly pretentious air, but my friends didn't arrive for another half an hour. We sat down at a table near the door and stared at each other, since the music was so loud no one could hear anyone else, which is strange as there's no dance floor or anything in the place. I took a few pictures of Maoman, Vanessa, and a glass on the bar. I partook of a sugar-free lemonade and a Concubine's Lament, the real name of which is actually Concubine Yang. I don't know who Concubine Yang was, but I'd guess she was the kind of person who was very nice to you all night and then hit you on the head with a hammer in the morning.

Berta left for an ABC party at a bar in the Droid Control Ship, and the rest of us got a bit tired of trying to shout over the music. Maoman and Vanessa were going to Carnegies, and since I'd never been there before, I decided to check it out. Carnegies turned out to be a high-ceilinged room with a long bar and a wall full of alcoholic beverages under a large clock. Maoman seemed to know the doorman and chatted him up in a nervous fashion that caused me to wonder if the guy wasn't also the bouncer. "Hello, ethnic shirt man," he said in a tired voice when it came my turn to enter. I was wearing the aborigine shirt I bought on King Street in Perth.

The clock indoors read 1988, at least it seemed that way to everyone in the place. I was amazed how hard everyone in there was trying to have fun. It was almost desperate. People with no idea how silly they looked danced on top of the bar. One guy was wearing a shirt that looked as if it had been made from a large disco ball. People were dancing wildly and seriously, as if they trying to fight their way out of a time warp. It was the bar experience equivalent of a dog humping your leg.

The glass of wine that came with my NT$400 cover charge wasn't exactly getting along famously with the Concubine Yang, and I made my exit before I too started to enjoy the place entirely too much. I floated through the streets and across the park back to my room. My bed felt like heaven.

I woke up sometime this afternoon, and joined Kirk and Victor for lunch at the Vino Vino restaurant on Shi-da Rd. I like Vino because it has a balcony where you can look out over the park and the road. The wind whipped our placemats around rather violently as Kirk and Victor, after hearing me say that I was taking China Airlines to Bali, discussed how much they could make off an insurance policy for me. After lunch we went to T-Zone to look for a new hard drive for me, since my old 30gb is making strange noises. I saw a nice 120gb drive, but it was too expensive, so I'll probably get a 60gb, and then get a 120 when I start doing digital video. We also looked at LCD monitors, since my 19" CRT is on the verge of giving up the ghost, flicking on and off even as I type this. An equivalent 19" LCD costs over NT$50,000, and there's no way I could afford that, so I'll most likely have to settle for a 17" or, god help me, even a 15" monitor, since a CRT would just take up too much space. Hopefully the prices will come down a bit more before I absolutely have to buy one.

Victor, however, hadn't brought the proper software to transfer my goodies to the new drive, so we decided to do it next week and instead repaired to a cafe on Yongkang St. where we had tea and cake. It was quite pleasant, a very Sunday-esque activity. I had sword practice at around 7:30, so I gathered up all of my sword gear and went to the Droid Control Ship to meet up with Mindcrime and Janice, who were watching Episode II there. The movie ran late, however, so by the time we had had dinner, it was too late for class, so I just came home, feeling fat and lazy. I need to get more exercise, but I just can't see myself doing the whole gym thing, much less paying that much money to do it. Stilll, I should do something other than Tai-chi and sword, something more aerobic. Maybe I'll get a large dog and train it to chase me around while it tries to hump my leg.

Life is strange beyond words

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