Adventures in Banking

Yesterday cooled down quite a bit from the day before and though it looked like it was just about to rain most of the afternoon, it managed not to until overnight. My nephew Oliver left in the late afternoon to go home to Hong Kong. Emily went to the park to play and then we went over to take a look at my shop. It’s the first time Emily’s been there since the remodeling started. I discovered that the wired the speaker cables to go into the closet under the stairs instead of into the back room like it was supposed to, but they are going to correct that.

After that, Emily went to the Hello Kitty store that’s near my shop and bought a mechanical pencil of some shojo cartoon she’s seen on TV. After that we went to the park where Emily got thirsty and we discovered Mommy had left her water cup somewhere. Emily was insistent she had to drink from her own water cup, and going to the nearby 7-11 to buy some bottled water would not do, so Maggie stayed at the park while Emily and I went back to my shop where we found her water cup sitting on the divider in the shop. All was well again. Then we walked over to the restaurant area on Nongan Street intending to go to a dumpling shop Maggie found, but it was closed so we ate at a noodle shop next door instead.

That night I went to sleep quite easily but woke up around 3am and couldn’t go back to sleep after that. Four hours sleep. Suck.

This morning Maggie and I went over to my shop to make sure the speaker wire situation was going to be addressed, then I went off to the bank to make some payments to various companies that are doing stuff for the store. I thought I had prepared everything but I found I was missing the Chinese name of the bank for one of the payments, the Chinese name of the company for another payment, and that I couldn’t read the payment info for the third payment at all because the fax was so bad. All in all, I found that I wasn’t prepared to do any of the transfers. (For some reason companies like to give me their payment info in English which seems like they are doing me a favor but that causes all sorts of headaches for my bank which wants everything in Chinese.)

So I took the proper forms and went back home and found the right info for the first two payments and had the third one refax me the info more clearly. They faxed it again and while I could read the account number clearly now, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the bank name or company name. Instead I just took the fax with me and asked the teller to help me with that one. Turns out she couldn’t read it either, but called someone up who was able to look it up based on the account number. It’s a wonder that company gets paid for anything.

Anyways, I managed to write down everything else but one minor thing correctly this time, except that I forgot to write the date on all the bank transfer forms, which is one of the easiest parts of filling that out. One of these days I’ll manage to complete a transaction without any corrections.

It’s been raining off and on today. We also had a small quake today. It was only a 3.5 but centered in the middle of Taipei, so close enough to feel it.

M 3.5 2.1 km S of Taipei City 2006-04-24 11:00 #041 (0424110035041)

All these bank transactions are starting to train me on how to write the special number characters used for banking. I can now write the characters for 1, 3, 4, 100, 1000 and 10000 without looking at my cheat sheet. I’ll have to work on the others.

Rant: While I was entering this entry I accidentally hit the ‘rich text’ mode link below the edit box which threw me into some fancypants editor. I wanted to go back to the regular editor I’m used to, so I pulled up LJ’s FAQ and found out that you can’t exit the rich text editor. Once an entry is switched to rich text mode, you will forever have to edit it only in rich text. The only solution was to copy the text, add a new entry, paste it in and then restore the links and formatting. What kind of moron designed a feature that can’t be reversed? Be careful about ever accidentally hitting the rich text line down below the edit box.

Rant2: LJ’s spell checker doesn’t check the Subject, only the body of the post. God forbid you actually spell something wrong in the Subject. You may never know!

Tainan and etc.

We actually didn’t make it to Gaoxiong at all. The first went down to the old Chikan fort in central Tainan to look around. I’d been there before but it’s still neat to look around. While we were there, there were some military fighter jets doing some training overhead and I managed to get a couple decent photos as they flew over. The Japanese sidewalk restaurant we were supposed to go to on Friday night was across the street and though we thought it was only open for dinner, it was just opening up when we left the fort, so Maggie and Emily and I ate lunch there while the rest went elsewhere nearby.

Bonita and Ilona had bought return bus tickets for 2:50pm but they decided to stay rather than go after all, so Elly and my mother-in-law used those tickets instead. The rest of us went to the other old fort in Tainan, Anping fort which is near the waterfront. First Emily took a ride on a small train set a vendor had set up, while I watched and the others looked around the market outside.

I decided not to go into the fort as I’d been there too and wasn’t as interested in going again, so Maggie and Emily and I set out to find someplace to sit and wait for them. We saw a guy carrying two large lizards who was soliciting people to take pictures with them. He took an interest in Emily and when he heard she wanted a cracker to eat he darted off to a nearby stand to help her buy some crab flavored crisps. Then we walked out to the main road and Emily saw a guy selling fresh squeezed orange juice and wanted to get some. She’s getting so she can buy things herself now.

(In Taiwan it is common to have trucks parked by the side of the road selling produce. For orange juice you’ll see a truck piled high with oranges and there will be a guy at the side of the truck cutting up oranges and tossing them into a mechanical juice press and bottling the results. It’s really amazing how good real fresh squeezed orange juice is.)

I asked the juice guy where the beach was but the answer was a bit too complex so Maggie talked to him in Taiwanese for a bit. The developed beach area was a few kilometers away so we set off to get a taxi to take us. In Taipei you can just about go out to the curb and flag a taxi down in less than a minute most of the time, but in Tainan there’s not as many taxis around. We eventually got one and set out.

When we got to the entrance of the beach area Maggie noticed a famous restaurant called the Five Cent Driftwood House across the street, so we went in there to chill out for a few hours having tea and beer and snacks. The restaurant was made out of various random pieces of wood logs and was pretty inventively put together. In any case, it was a nice cool air conditioned place to kick back.

Ilona and Bonita joined up with us and after they had their rest we headed back to the previous night’s Fried Fish Soup restaurant (on Hai An Road near Bao An Road, for the next time you’re in Tainan) where I wolfed down two bowls of soup for dinner. Then we headed off to the bus station to buy our return tickets. The tickets we got were for about an hour and a half later so we headed to a nearby park for a while where Emily spent a lot of time playing on the playground.

We left around 7:45pm and got back home around 12:30am.

This week I’ve ordered the local equipment and signed a contract for construction. I also went and talked with S.P., another American who has opened up two Subway shops in Taipei, and who was able to give me a lot of good advice. He was given as a reference by the construction guy I chose, and I had intended to just ask him about that, but he ended up chatting with me for almost an hour and a half about lots of good things to know about the business.

On funny thing happened to me when I was in the Landis Hotel bakery yesterday. My conversation went something like this:


This apparently delighted one of the other customers who said my Chinese sounded very good. My Chinese isn’t actually that good, but since I buy a lot of french bread, that conversation is pretty much down pat. She then proceeded to ask if I know any Taiwanese and said I don’t, which is mostly true, so she tried to teach me some. When she was doing this I surprised her by throwing in a couple of Taiwanese words that I do know. I really don’t know Taiwanese but I do know stuff like “sorry”, “it’s nothing”, “unbelievable”, “i don’t want”, “i’m full” and “crab”. (“crab” sounds like Jim in Taiwanese so I get teased about that sometime.) Anyways, it was kinda fun.

The only other interesting occurrence this week was another earthquake, this time a 5.7 in the middle of the night. Felt like someone bumped into my bed:

2006-04-05 03:30:00 M 5.7 24.42N 122.74E, i.e. 107.8 km ESE of Yilan City #034 (0405033057034)

I’m still waiting for the damn insurance policy. It was supposed to be done today.


2006/04/01 18:02 Magnitude: 6.4 No.: 024 (0401180264024)

This one was centered in Taidong on the southeast coast, so it didn’t register in Taipei, but we weren’t in Taipei today, we were in Tainan, maybe 60 miles away from the earthquake epicenter. This morning we got up early to get on the bus to go to Tainan for the Tomb Sweeping Day, the Chinese tradition where once a year you go to visit your ancestors and clean up their grave if needed.

The bus ride is about 5 hours, so we got in well past noon. A family friend picked us up in her van to take care of us for the day. The first thing we did was go get lunch at a small cafe called “Merry Christmas” we often go to here. I had pork curry rice and a bowl of strawberry ice. After this we headed first to my father-in-law’s grave. Keep in mind that I’ve been here maybe five or six times and Maggie grew up here half her life, but somehow I know how to get to her father’s grave and she doesn’t.

This is the first time we’ve taken Emily along to the actual cemeteries and temples. Previously when she came with us she stayed in the hotel with the nanny. So this was her first experience with issues related to death. So we had to answer awkward questions like why grandfather wasn’t going to wake up again.

Then we headed out to visit my grandmother-in-law and great-grandfather-in-law. They don’t have graves as they were cremated. Many people here are cremated now and they are stored in temples were there are rows and rows of what look like fancy gym lockers where the urns holding their remains are stored. Emily had a lot of fun here because they had a pond with lots of koi in it out front.

That taken care of, we went to the family friend’s younger brother’s clothing shop that he runs with his wife. Shortly after we got there, just past 6pm the ground started moving back and forth and the clothes racks were swaying. It was a pretty strong shaker where we were, but not enough to cause damage. It was a level 3 intensity according to the CWB in Tainan. (Intensity scale is different from Richter and is to measure relative shaking strength in an area away from the epicenter.)

After that we went to check in at our hotel. This one seems pretty nice with free Internet computers in the lobby of each floor and ethernet ports in the room. I didn’t bring my computer so I’m using one of the public ones.

After that we went out to try some local foods for dinner. One of my favorites is fried fish soup. It’s actually from Tainan but I like the one in Gaoxiong better. Tomorrow we are planning to go to Gaoxiong in the afternoon before heading to Taipei. Ilona is feeling uneasy about the earthquake so she and Bonita are planning to go back to Taipei instead, but the rest of us are probably still going to Gaoxiong.

We’re back in the hotel now for a break but are planning to go back out to a Japanese sidewalk restaurant later on.

OK, make that three 7+ magnitude quakes I’ve felt

2005/10/15 23:51 Magnitude: 7.0 No.: 148 (1015235170148)

10月15日23時51分 規模:7.0 編號:148 (1015235170148)

It was waaaaaaaay off the east coast though, so it was only enough to wake me up here in Taipei.

Another little bump

Less than a week since the last noticable one.

2005/07/26 21:37 Magnitude: 5.4 No.: 124 (0726213754124)

07月26日21時37分 規模:5.4 編號:124 (0726213754124)

Typhoon –> Earthquake

Had a nice little shake about 25 minutes ago.

2005/07/20 21:06 Magnitude: 5.4 No.: 123 (0720210654123)

07月20日21時06分 規模:5.4 編號:123 (0720210654123)

Santa Barbara

I was planning on finishing up a few things on Saturday morning and then head to Santa Barbara, but a few things turned into more things and then it was already early afternoon and I was still not ready, so had to push SB off until Sunday. That was compounded by Taiwan having a series of strong quakes, so had to console my wife over that.

One of the new toys that arrived while I was at school was my new iPod. When the iPod first came out, I thought it was nice, but a little too big. When the iPod mini came out, I thought it was just the right size, but 4gb for $249 was too much for too little capacity. So when Apple rolled out the new iPod mini 6gb for $249 and lowered the 4gb model to $199, it was finally just right. I ordered a blue iPod mini 6gb during the brief time I was in Taipei between Kyoto and US. All in all I’m quite impressed with it.

I also got an iTrip mini for it, a small FM transmitter that fits on top so you can play your iPod over a car stereo. Reviews of it have been pretty evenly split between “blows goats” and “totally awesome.” So I’m going to buck the trend and say that it is merely adequate. The main problem is that the instructions tell you to find a free channel, and better yet, one with free channels to either side of it. Problem is, if you live anywhere reasonably populated, it’s pretty damn difficult to find a free channel at all, much less one that has free channels to either side. In Silicon Valley, there’s only a couple of free channels at all. Plus on the ride down to SB, I had to retune twice as my free channel was suddenly in use a couple of hours down the road. That said, it does work reasonably well, though it is somewhat annoying to be fiddling with channels every so often. If you live somewhere more remote, it’ll probably work just great.

So anyways, Sunday morning I was pretty much ready, but wanted to make one hardware change on I got that all done OK, but then after moving things back around on the computer rack, I knocked the master power switch on the remote power management box, and all the computers went down at once. Everything rebooted cleanly a few minutes later, so not too bad, but had an uptime of 1 year and 1 month, so it was kinda disappointing to interrupt that uptime.

Finally I was able to make it onto the road and down to Santa Barbara where I’ll be until Wednesday morning.