Sepat Progress Report 2

Not too much to report in Taipei. It’s been gloomy most of the day but only occasional gusts and moderately heavy rainfall. The central part of the east coast got considerably more rain and wind. The current top rainfall for Taiwan is for an area in Hualian County which got 870mm (2′ 10 1/4″) of rain. No, that’s no an annual figure, that’s for this one storm.

Sorry, Taiwan Is Closed

As of right now, every city and county government has announced that businesses and schools will be closed tomorrow. I closed my restaurants early tonight at 8pm and we will decide tomorrow when to re-open for business. It is too early to tell when it will be safe for our staff and customers to open.

Meanwhile I’ve managed to get almost complete translations up on my English version of official business and school closures. The exceptions are notes 3 and 4 at the bottom which are atrocious run-on sentences I can’t quite wrap my head around in understanding. They don’t seem to be terribly important though from what I can understand of them. 3 is about who is affected by the closure notices and 4 seems to be about whether or not the time off is paid or will require make-up work. My translator fetches a copy of the official page every ten minutes and rewrites it and posts it on my web server. Pretty neat for a quick hack.

The current forecast has the typhoon cutting across the center of Taiwan but the storm is big enough that it will probably affect all of Taiwan. The eye should cross over the east coast tomorrow morning at 8am and exit on the west coast around 5pm. So there’s a good chance that we’ll be stuck at home all of tomorrow unless the storm weakens after making landfall. Right now things are very quiet in Taipei. “The calm before the storm.”

Quick Hack

As a quick hack, I’ve whipped up something that will automatically translate the official business and school closings from Chinese to English:

As this is a quick hack, it currently only has translations for the current contents of the main table. I will have to update the translations as new types of closings are posted, and add translations for the surrounding information.


As expected, Pabuk didn’t have much affect on us up in Taipei. All we got was a bunch of rain.

Right on its tail is Wutip which is forecast to hit Taipei early tomorrow morning. The forecast probability is at 62% for Taipei right now so it looks likely to reach us, but it’s a fairly weak storm so I’m not expecting much from it either.

Pabuk (Part 2)

When I posted the previous entry, Typhoon Pabuk was headed towards central Taiwan and had a 58% chance of affecting Taipei. As the day has worn on the predictions have moved steadily southward to the point where currently it is predicted to cross the southern tip of Taiwan and only has a 12% chance of affecting Taipei. We’ll probably just get a lot of rain.


It looks like we’ll get our first Typhoon of the season tonight and tomorrow morning. Of course it is still a bit too early to tell as the path of typhoons is terribly difficult to predict, however the current JTWC and CWB forecasts both predict it’ll cross through central Taiwan early tomorrow morning which means we should have a rainy night at the least.

An Anniversary

Excerpts from my e-mail five years ago.

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 12:20:03 -0700
From: Wilbert Lick
To: James Lick

Hi Jim,

You’ve probably heard the news by now about the plane crashes, the world trade center, etc. Well, I was in Vermont and Boston this weekend and Monday. I had reservations on United 175 from Boston to Los Angeles at 8:00 on Tuesday morning. On Monday afternoon, I changed reservations and flew out Monday evening. If I had kept my reservations, I would now be underneath the world trade center. I’m in somewhat of a shock right now.

Anyway, hope to see you soon.


Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 23:20:25 GMT
From: United Airlines
To: James Lick

UA 0844 TPE-SFO on Sep 13 is cancelled

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 12:34:42 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Rick Lilly

Currently I’ve been rebooked on the Monday flight, which means I will miss your special celebration. If flights resume, I may be able to get out on standby, but given that flights have been shut down so long, getting on is very doubtful. If I am unable to make it, please accept my regrets and congratulations.

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 21:56:17 GMT
From: United Airlines
To: James Lick

UA 0844 TPE-SFO on Sep 14 is cancelled

Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 08:56:59 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Rick Lilly

I’m trying to fly standby today. Will know if a couple of hours.

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 03:18:02 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Wilbert Lick

I made it!

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 04:11:24 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Zorch Offtopic List

Within minutes of the first attack, all the news channels in Taiwan had live coverage of the wtc tower one on fire. I was just getting home and had glanced over at the TV when the second plane crashed into tower two.

Everyone was in shock. We couldn’t believe it was a plane that crashed until they showed it again. The next two hours we watched in horror as one disaster after another unfolded.

I tried calling home but all the international lines were busy.

I found out later that my dad had a reservation on United 175, the second plane to crash. Fortunately his meeting had ended early and he had flown out the night before instead, and he was able to get an email out to me saying he was fine, but in shock.

Even though he was fine, this was more than I could take. I sat sobbing for about half an hour just from the intense emotion of it all. I lost my mother in July after a battle with Pick’s Disease and to come so close to losing both parents in such a short time was an unbearable thought. This entire year has been extremely stressful for me for a variety of other reasons as well.

I had a ticket back to SFO on Thursday. I finally got out Saturday morning and just got home in Santa Clara a couple of hours ago. They had 3 pages of stand-by passengers by the time I got there. Even so, it looks like most people stayed away and all the standby passengers made it on. I even got an upgrade.

Security was extremely tight in Taipei. Checked in bags were hand searched and x-rayed during check-in. At the normal security checkpoint, x-rays of carry-ons were more thorough, and there was a brand new hi-tech x-ray machine being set up. At the gate, carry-on bags were searched, and each person swept with a wand-style metal detector. At boarding time, passports and tickets were checked to ensure matches.

Coming in at SFO, it didn’t look like a whole lot of flights were arriving yet, with very few people in the terminals. At check-in there were mobs of people in line but it looked like most weren’t going anywhere. At the rental center, there was hardly anyone around. Hertz has a big board
listing the names and car locations for Hertz Gold members which probably has space for ~300 names and is usually 2/3 full. Today there were only 10 names on the board. On the good side, the upgraded me from economy to full size, presumably due to the lack of business.

At least I made it back for my friend’s wedding on Sunday. Some of their guests from Phoenix aren’t able to get a flight though.

It’s been a rough week.

Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2001 15:57:07 -0700
From: Wilbert Lick
To: James Lick

Hi Jim,

Since I haven’t heard anything, I assume your trip back to Taipei was ok. In this morning’s paper, I saw that Taiwan got hit by another typhoon. Was there much damage? How is Maggie’s shop, etc.?


Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 10:28:57 +0800 (CST)
From: James Lick
To: Wilbert Lick

Typhoon Lekima struck southern Taiwan. In the north we have had some heavy rain, but fortunately not much in the way of flooding. The plane ride in was a bit bumpy, but not too bad.

Lekima is currently making it’s way in a northwest direction across the southern part of Taiwan and is expected to start out across the Taiwan Strait tonight. The rim of the storm is still expected to give us some heavy rain throughout the island through Friday night or Saturday morning.

The ground floor of Maggie’s shop is all cleaned out now from Typhoon Nari. The water was about 1.5′ deep on the ground level. The basement is still drying out. It has some wood laminate flooring which we are wondering will survive or not. On the other side of the building’s
basement, an entire wall collapsed along a 40 foot stretch, and one of the doors was blown off its hinges by the force of the flooding. Fortunately the wall was not a load bearing one. Except for the flooring and some trim, most of the basement on the side of Maggie’s shop is masonry and needs at most a good drying out and a repainting.

Maggie’s home is slightly downslope, and had water about 5 to 6 feet deep. Fortunately it didn’t rise enough to inundate the second floor.