Post #31: I’m all shook up

English: Hualien_County, TW

Hualien_County, TW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living in Taiwan, you know that there is a possibility of earthquakes. I’ve experienced several in my 4+ years here, but usually they haven’t been too intense. I remember back to when I had first moved to Taiwan. I had been here about six weeks, and I went to bed fairly early because I was sick (I don’t get sick very often in Taiwan, but when I do, I know it). Anyway, I was in bed and I felt my bed begin to shake. In my semi-delirious state, I pulled the sheet over my head and hoped for the best. Not the recommended earthquake safety procedure, but at that moment, I was somewhat certain that sheet would protect me.

Since then, my experience of earthquakes has been relatively mild. Until tonight. About 3 hours ago, Dave and I were sitting in the kitchen at our computers. Things started shaking, the familiar low-level kind of shaking I remember. But then it got stronger, and I could hear more and more things rattling around the apartment. Something went bump in another part of the apartment. Turns out that a painting we have stored in the front closet fell forward and hit the wall, nothing serious.

But it sure was scary for a few minutes. The earthquake was centered on the western side of the island, and registered between 6.3 and 6.7 depending on which reports you follow. When you’re in the midst of it, it’s hard to decide who’s right. This map shows the county that hosted the earthquake, and I’ve included several news sites at the bottom of this post if you want more information.

I just thought it was interesting that as I’m doing a marathon blog session to finish up 31 blog posts in 31 days, an earthquake hits. It’s been an eventful day. Halloween fun in class, riding in a police car, spending nearly 3 hours at the police station, and riding out an earthquake. I hope tomorrow is a little calmer!

Halloween: Riding in a Police Car

English: Cartoon version of a Police Car

Cartoon version of a Police Car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wrote earlier about my trip to Curves last night. On my taxi ride home, I was content, but a little tired, not really focusing on the details of the trip. I helped direct the driver the last few blocks to our apartment, because it’s not on a main street. He dropped me off at the front gate of our complex, and I came inside to tell Dave about my evening.

This morning, I went to school, dressed as a witch, with a bag of treats for my Thursday morning writing class. I was so excited about showing Audrey (my taxi driver) my witch’s hat, that I forgot to get the money out to pay her. As I was scrambling to grab my wallet from my purse, she said I could pay her when she picked us up. Great! I got out of the car and Dave and I were ready to head into the building, when he turned to me and asked, “Where’s the hat?” Damn! I left it in the taxi. It took a few attempts to reach Audrey by phone, but I did. She and Dave were then scheduled to meet out in front the next time she came with a car load of students and she would give him the hat. So I was going to give him the money to pay her, and I couldn’t find my wallet!

Almost immediately, I had a recollection of having my wallet on my lap when I was in the taxi last night. I had been watching the fare and anticipating how much money to have out, and I hadn’t put my wallet back in my purse. So last night AND this morning, I left things in taxis. That’s NOT the way one normally does things. Still, after Dave got my hat and paid Audrey, he decided to go back home while I taught my class to see the wallet was actually at home. I appreciated the gesture, but I was fairly certain that he wouldn’t find it. Unfortunately, I was right.

When I finished teaching, we went out to catch the taxi. But Audrey wasn’t there to pick us up. Her brother, Mac was. I could write a blog post (or three) about the amazing things these people have done for me during my time in Taiwan. Today was just one more example of their kindness. When we got in the taxi, I told Mac that I left my wallet in a taxi last night. I was hoping that through his taxi contacts, it might be “almost” simple to put out some feelers. I wasn’t so lucky. He said, “I think I just need to take you to the police station. If you know what time it was, they can look at videos of a street corner along the way and maybe track down the taxi you were in.”

As you might imagine, this was not the way I wanted to spend my Thursday. I had several things that I wanted to do today–the most personally pressing one was finishing this blog challenge. (After this post, I have one more to do before midnight to complete 31 posts in 31 days–YAY me!) Anyway, we had to wait for a police car to take me to the station where the video equipment was. So there I was, getting into the back seat of a police car. There’s a first for a Taiwan experience!  🙂

So I spent the next couple of hours sitting in the police station. Mac stayed and explained everything at our first stop. Then he went along in the police car to the other station and helped with interpreting. After spending over an hour with me (and away from his taxi route), he finally excused himself at 11:45 and went back to work. It would be almost two more hours before we would be done with the police report and watching surveillance videos.

A Happy Ending

We were walking back home from the police station, when Mac called and said that he found that the taxi driver had turned in the wallet at the gatehouse at MCU, the university where I work. Then it went from department to department until it got to my department. So Dave went up to school the middle of the afternoon and picked it up. The money was gone, but I have all of my documents. I’m so relieved because those documents (my ID card and my insurance card) would have taken time, money, and a lot of annoyance to replace. So I’m grateful, and I’ve decided to pay more attention to taxi numbers when I ride, so that I can catch these things quicker. Besides, if I pay attention to the numbers, it will also focus me on keeping track of my stuff, so I don’t NEED to know those numbers.

With all the observations about thinking differently and noticing things about how I’m changing in that regard, this was a good reminder about how System 1 (the unconscious part of our brain) has to filter through all the incoming data. Of all the pieces of information that would have helped track things down today, I had very little I could actually give to the police. Luckily, I remembered where our last major turn was so that they could locate the videos for that location, but the make of the taxi, a number, even the time I was traveling through there–all of these things were lost in the haze of my just zoning out on my way home last night. It wasn’t that I didn’t remember. I just never noticed,

So I lost a big part of my day, but in the end, I have my wallet back, and I learned something more about my brain and about the details I should focus on while traveling in a taxi. And I got to ride in a police car on Halloween. Kudos to Mac and to the great officers at the police station!

Good News: Perseverance Does Pay Off

Physical Fitness

(Photo credit: Justin Liew)

Last week, I had to postpone a trip to check out Curves (fitness center for women) because I fell and hurt my knee, the same one that had received a total knee replacement in January 2011. Since I had declared Perseverance for my seasonal keyword, I wrote last week about how it was already being tested.

Well, I’m happy to report that just one week later, I made it to Curves. The doctor had told me I could go as soon as I felt comfortable enough. And as long as I don’t push too much with that leg for a while, it should be fine. So tonight, Karen and I went so I could check it out, and it was great! The staff was friendly and helpful. The owner met with me (as he speaks English) and made a special arrangement so I can try it for two months to make sure that it works out for me before making a longer commitment. It’s my intention to continue. I have made lots of provisions to make it happen and not leave it to chance.

For example, I’ve already told my taxi driver that on Mondays and Wednesdays when she picks me up from school, I’ll be going downtown to exercise. She knows that’s where I’m going, so if I change the plan she’ll know. On those evenings, I’ll take the bus home. On Friday, I’ll take the bus both ways, but I’ll go for their 11:30 opening time. As a reward for going all three days, Friday is my day to visit downtown Taoyuan coffee shops to have a latte and explore new locations to have some paperwork sessions. If I miss one, I just go to the next one and keep it going.

Tonight, I was able to manage all but two of the machines. A third one is somewhat troublesome at the moment (only because I can’t get in and out of it quickly enough to keep up), so we’ve eliminated those three stations for now. But the rest of it is doable, and I went through them all twice. I like my trainer, Kimmie, and even though she thinks her English is poor, I think we are going to be just fine together. After the cool down stretches, Karen and I headed out for vegetarian dinner, and I took a taxi home. I am so glad Karen was there to help me communicate through the process of getting everything set up and to give Kimmie a sense of confidence about working with me. She actually told Karen that I seem easy to work with. I guess she’ll get to know me better.  😉

My two-month trial actually starts on Monday, rather than tomorrow (Friday), to give my knee just a couple more days to heal from last week’s fall. I have to say though, even for the first night, not pushing all the way, I felt good for having done it. And maybe it’s just the regular course of healing, but I definitely felt better this morning. I was able to do more walking without the cane, and I have less pain. I’m looking forward to Monday, and doing it all again.

Grandma/Grandson Halloween Photos

Halloween in Taiwan!


(Photo credit: cafeconlecheporfavor)

Halloween arrives 12 hours earlier on my side of the world. So as my grandson was going to bed on the eve of Halloween, I was headed to my 8:10 class, treats in hand. My costume was simple. The big flowing gown I usually wear for this costume is back in the U.S. But I made do as a rather well-dressed witch headed out for a social obligation, with just a touch of black lace to go with the ensemble.

I had told my students that I’d be dressing up, and one of my students also came in costume, and I think she outdid me,as you can see in the photo. I heard from another student that Dante got up at 5 this morning to start doing the make-up for this amazing costume. And Dante told me that she used pieces of artificial nails to look like teeth. It was almost too realistic, if you know what I mean.

But as you can see in the photo below, we had lots of fun. And we still got lots of work done in class, talking about essay structure and how to make our introductory paragraphs more effective and interesting. It wasn’t ALL fun and games!

captain hook's grandma

Halloween in Michigan!

This is Logan’s (my grandson’s) third Halloween. He went from a cow on his first Halloween to a cowboy for his second. Now that he’s 2 1/2, he was able (thankfully) to choose his own costume, and he chose Captain Hook! I don’t know if it’s because his father is a volunteer fire fighter, but my sister, Laurie, got Logan a fire department toy set as a gift. Logan likes playing with the dispatch gizmo that came with it. Apparently, Logan and “Captain Hook” have been having fairly regular exchanges over this dispatch toy. Here is a little snipped from a Facebook chat between me and my daughter, in which it is clear that Logan has Captain Hook on the brain.

Kate:  “Three minutes! Okay, goodbye” and after he hangs it up it starts again.

Me:      LOL  three minutes to what?  😉

Kate:  “Hi Captain Hook, How are you? Oh. Three minutes. Okay, goodbye”

Kate:    I have no idea, but that’s the general conversation.

Me:      That’s hysterical!

Kate:    They always end with “Okay, goodbye”

We will never know what was going through Logan’s mind, but here he is, as his current alter ego, Captain Hook!

captain hook

And for those of you who missed it, this post of Halloween music assembled by Kate and me is offered for your viewing and listening pleasure!.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  🙂