August 1, 2012

Well, the winds have picked up today.  Not a lot, but noticeable.  I guess we will feel the effects of this typhoon.

Today I’ve been having problems with the scooter again.  It seems that every once in a while, when I’m starting the scooter, it doesn’t want to start.  I just figured it was because of the humidity, but really, I’m a little more of a logical person than that!  I know there is something else wrong, but just don’t know what.

On Saturday past, a fuse was replaced, the battery and alternator checked, and everything seems to be okay.  But today, the problem is getting worse.  If I wait for a couple of minutes, the scooter seems to be charged enough to start, but then, as soon as I try starting it a couple of times, the battery appears to be dead again.  Weird.

After leaving my afternoon class at about 6pm, the scooter wouldn’t start.  I tried using the manual starter, but there just wasn’t any juice in the battery to get it going.  Like previous times, I decided to walk the scooter a bit, and see if that would get it going.  I already had in mind to go to the scooter shop and get the guy to look it over and see what the problem was.

I ended up walking the scooter about 3km from my school to the mechanic.  The scooter just wouldn’t start.  Not only was it rather warm out, but there was no wind, and it looked like it was going to rain.  I must have looked a little ridiculous walking my scooter down Jinhua Road!  I did find someone’s cellphone that must have fallen out of the owner’s pocket.  I’ll return that tomorrow.

Finally arrived at the the mechanic.  He looked it over, and everything seemed to be okay.  The fuses were fine, the alternator was okay, the battery (which HE had replaced two months ago) was still okay.  The only other problem seemed to be with the wiring itself.  It’s been taped and re-taped so many times, perhaps it was just coming loose.  He re-spliced it together, and re-taped up everything again.

Other than being about 15 minutes late for work, it seems like everything is in check again – for now.

Classes went fine, and later on, did some practicing with May, Marcus, and Elva.

May and Elva have been practicing so much, and it seems like they will be fine.  I’m getting more picky with their pronunciation, since their actions and memory of the story is fine.  They both seem to have a couple of pronunciation problems that they’re slipping into.  So I’ve taken it upon myself to stress to each the importance of pronouncing their words properly.  I really do want each of the students to win AT LEAST third place.

I figure, if we can reach for third place, and they do much better, great!  If they don’t do quite as well, then it’s not as much a crash and burn situation.  Yes, it would be wonderful if they all got first place at the nationals, but if they don’t get first place, then there will be tears and sadness.

Now, Marcus.  He’s been away at Giraffe camp in England for the past three weeks.  He ‘said’ he practiced a lot, but, I’m not naive.  I’ve worked around kids for over 10 years now, and I, believe it or not, used to be a kid.  I will accept that he did practice a couple of times, but since there was no one from our school with him this year at camp, I highly doubt that he practiced as much as he said he did.

And the proof was when he did his first practice.  The first time through, I was concerned more with timing.  He was just a little over the allotted time.  The second practice, I was more concerned with whether he was telling the story the way it was written.  That was not a problem.  And in fact, his timing improved – by about 5 seconds, but at least he was within the allotted time frame.

The third time through, I recorded his performance.  I wanted to go through the video with him, and show him where he needed to improve himself.  I downloaded the recording, and we went into a classroom and I started to show him what was lacking.  He’s only got about 2 weeks to get this performance up to par.  It’s going to take a lot of work, and since the others have already had three weeks of practice up on him, I’m going to concentrate more on his performance.

Shortly into helping him, Janice came in and mentioned that they were going to stop practice tonight.  The typhoon was getting worse, and the parents wanted to get home.  No problem.  Off the students went.  While we were closing up, an announcement came over the T.V. station that was playing, that all the schools and government, etc., were going to be closed tomorrow – Thursday.  Typhoon Day.

As far as Tainan, or where we are, is concerned, it was just spitting out.  The wind was a little blustery at times, but nothing exciting yet. After leaving, I went to my fave place for deep-fry.  They were just getting ready to close up – 10pm??  The mentioned it was because of the typhoon coming, but they still got my dinner ready for me.  How nice.

By the time dinner was ready, it was starting to rain a little harder out, although not too bad.  The wind had picked up somewhat, but still not too badly.  It wasn’t until I was almost home, that the gusts were starting to affect my driving.  At one point, there was a monster truck behind me.  This woman driving the beast wouldn’t get ahead of me.  A strong gust blew me a little into her lane, and she blasted her horn at me!  What a b****!  I guess when you are a 90kg nothing of a woman driving 10 tonnes of metal, you can’t tell that the wind and rain are just a little too strong.  Besides, I’m sure she could barely see over the hood of her monster vehicle.

Why people drive these gas guzzlers in a flat landscape such as Tainan.  It makes no sense.  They just want to show people how much money they can spend?  Whatever the reason, I had given her ample opportunity to get ahead of me, just for the reason of the wind and rain, and she insisted on riding my ass.  After that, she then must have placed a brick on her accelerator and got ahead of me, then slammed on her brakes so that I was forced to drive about 30km/hr behind her, with no chance of getting around her.

So, eventually got home, had dinner, and listened to the wind howling around outside.  Seems like the warnings and tomorrows closing are warranted.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!



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2 responses to “August 1, 2012

  1. Walking, in general, is a very dangerous activity in the country, especially when most of the time you’re forced to walk in the street alongside crazed scooterists, cars, elderly people on bicycles, food vendor carts, and enraged little blue trucks whose sole purpose in life seems to be to run everyone else off the road. People in general do not look when backing up. You could get run over at any given time. People don’t look when changing lanes. In fact, it’s a rule that most drivers in Taiwan only pay attention to what’s directly in front of their eyes, and *occasionally* what’s coming from the sides if necessary.

  2. The reality of scooter safety, necessary equipment, and rider training. I saw a video on YouTube a few months ago that was a compilation of motorcycle crashes and their aftermath. At the end of the video was an impassioned plea. “For God’s sake, John, don’t get a Vespa.” This was such a strange non-sequitor. Here’s all these videos of “crotch rockets” and Harleys going ass-over-tea-kettle and it turns into a “don’t get a scooter” beg-a-thon? It didn’t make sense to me. Then I read some statistics about how the number of motorcycle riders has increased over the last few years and that motorcycle deaths climbed right along with it. All with no mention of how that related to scooters. Are scooters safer? Less safe? Since a scooter is so much smaller than a motorcycle, are the risks the same? Do I even need a helmet? If the top speed of my scooter is only around 60 mph, do I need to be all decked out like a Moto GP racer? More fundamentally, is riding anything on two wheels just asking for a funeral? So I set out to wrap my head around the whole safety issue. Here’s what I’ve concluded after my research.

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