Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Taiwanese drama actor

          I couldn’t help pressing the shutter button of my camera when I saw this Taiwanese drama actor one afternoon in February, 1988. Stepping into Hsinchu Du Cheng-Huang Temple, a temple built in 1748 governing both the “Heaven” and the “Earth”, I was first attracted by a crowd of Taiwanese drama actors rehearsing on a stage to my right. There stood a cosmetically appealing man wearing a drama costume more exquisite than anything I’d ever imagined. His drama gown was glistening silver, with a yellow dragon in the front. Both sides of the dragon embroidery were decorated with shimmering silver and gold beads dangling back and forth as he moved around. I believed the gown had been woven of pure silk and shiny satin. And his costume wasn’t the only extraordinary focus that attracted me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Time zone of

I like to use to be my blog hosting service. It is one of the earliest blog hosting services. Then, Google bought it as part of its Internet empire. Of course, quite a few blogging platforms have sprout up in the past few years such as Wordpress, Vox, Blogsome, to name just a few. However, since I used first, I just stick to it and also teach my students to use it whenever necessary. However, many of my students can't wait to post their first blog and usually forget to configure the format of their blog. Here I would like to post a photo to show how you can change your time zone so that time stamp will show correct time. First of all, you are encouraged to switch your language to English. Then, you click 'Settings' and then 'Formatting'. You just click the 'time zone' and choose '(GMT+08:00) Taipei'. That's it. I hope that all my students can change the 'time zone' of their blogs so that their postings will show the correct time.


By the way, when I post this blog, I just find a 'Link http://  ' under the Title of my blog entry. I am quite curious what it is. I just type my personal website URL in that blank, hoping that I can figure out what the function of that 'Link'. OK, once I posted it, I knew what the link is for. It's the URL link for my title. Therefore, I disabled it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Typhoon Fanapi

The Central Weather Bureau just called off the typhoon alert of Fanapi on Sunday's night (September 19). From the news report, I noticed that Fanapi made landfall near the east-coast city of Hualien, but caused a widespread and heavy devastation in the southern part of Taiwan because of torrential downpour on Sunday afternoon. Luckily, Hsinchu city, an industry-based city about 60 miles south of Taipei, is usually immune to the strike of typhoon. Except for some heavy rains for a short period of time in the early morning on Saturday, I couldn't feel the power of Fanapi on Sunday. If a typhoon hits Taiwan from the east, Hsinchu usually can be protected by the high mountain range in the middle of Taiwan. Being a resident of Hsinchu city, I should feel lucky that I usually don't have to board up windows or pile sandbags at my doors when typhoon is going to hit Taiwan.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

heat wave

During the dog days of summer, most people in the world can feel the devastating impact of global warming. Here in Taiwan, it is quite easy for the thermometer to register 38 degree Celsius (or 100 degree Fahrenheit) before noon. Being an English teacher, I am not going to talk about why the weather has become hotter year after year, how the global warming has influenced our environment, or what eco-friendly actions we should take to cool us off during the deadly heat wave. Instead, I am curious how EFL learners can describe the heat wave except the simplest word -- 'hot'. Word choices or sentence varieties are always difficult to EFL learners.

Let's start from some words I have collected for my English database in the past few years. Many Americans feel Taiwan is sweltering because they sweat a lot here in Taiwan. Taiwan's weather is hot and humid during the summer, which makes people from a continent feel unpleasant. In fact, many states in the USA are even hotter than Taiwan, but it seems that those states are not as humid as Taiwan. However, from a news broadcast I just saw, the southern states of USA can also be very humid in the summer. Most residents in the southern states of USA can't bear the stifling humidity; according to a news report from CBS (August 6, 2010), this year 29 children nationwide died in hot vehicles because they were accidentally left in hot vehicles. It is no doubt that the smoldering heat has blanketed across many portions of US South this year. In fact, across six states of USA, more than 30 deaths are to blame to this week's extreme heat.

'Hot' is not the only word that we can use to describe the weather in the summer. Some other possible word choices are 'muggy' (e.g. a muggy day in August), 'sultry' (e.g. a hot and sultry day), or 'scorching' (e.g. a scorching summer day). Well, no matter how many expressions you can think of to describe this hot summer, I just hope that these boiling summer days will go away soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Event Viewer

It's summer vacation, but I still go go school during the week days. My 12-year-old daughter Yvonne stayed home alone this afternoon. She called my wife, asking her whether she can play computer and my wife said ok. We usually set 30-minute limit to our kids when they are playing computer games or just surfing the Internet. Therefore, we supposed that Yvonne would turn off the computer after she had played the computer for 30 minutes. However, as most parents can expect, we should not test our kid's self control. It is too tempting for kids to break the rule that we set if they are not under our supervision.

Tonight I turned on the computer she had used to check the 'Event Viewer'. I found that she had used that computer from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. rather than half an hour as we usually said. I didn't punish her, but it comes up some issues. First of all, there has been a heated debate in Chinese ancient society on whether people are born good or evil. From Yvonne's example, can we confirm that most people are born 'evil' because it is not easy for us to control ourselves and keep ourselves away from temptation? Maybe we can't make that kind of conclusion, but at least we should know that most kids still need parents' guidance, supervision, and advice. Second, Yvonne kept asking me how I knew that she had played the computer for three and a half hours. Of course, I didn't tell her how. I guess that she may find out by herself one day. I promise my son and daughter that I am going to teach them computer skills next summer vacation. I am afraid that once they learn more computer literacy, they may know how to delete all the records in Event Viewer and also the view history of browsers. I should start to look for freeware that can monitor what websites kids have surfed or how long they can use the computer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Develop a habit of writing English

I just read an article titled 'Writing IS Thinking'. The author, Kerry Ann Rockquemore, a tenured professor from Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago challenged readers to write 30-60 minutes each day. I have to admit that it is pretty difficult for non-native speakers of English to write 30-60 minutes each day. However, being an English writing teacher, I have to convince myself that I should develop a regular habit of writing English, for example 2 pieces of blog every week.

Let's start from writing issues. To many people, writing is the most difficult skill of the four language skills. Why? There are many quite a lot reasons and I would only talk about two of them today. First of all, many native speakers of English have no problem communicating fluently in English, but they may have hard time writing well-organized essays. I bet it is also true to many Chinese people; people who can get their ideas across in oral communication can not necessarily write a convincing article. Since writing will usually leave something for others to check what they wrote is good or not -- an email, a printed writing assignment, a technical report, a chapter of a book, etc, writers should be more careful about the sentence structure, grammar correctness, and word choice of their writing. Second, because writers usually don't have to respond immediately as they did in conversations, they have more time to organize, draft, and revise their writings. In other words, most people may expect more meaningful content from your writing than from your speaking.

Yes, it is not easy for native speakers of English to have a habit of writing English, not to mention non-native speakers of English. However, I bet once we cultivate the habit of writing English, we will write faster and better.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Yvonne's 2nd speech rehearsal

My daughter Yvonne Wu made her speech rehearsal for the second time. I think it is a little better than the first one. What do you think?