I'm not a big traveler generally speaking, but my new job with Litl is bringing me to Taipei and Hsinchu in Taiwan for a few days next week. I'm excited and a little nervous. I've tried to pick up a few words of Mandarin over the past week using Rosetta Stone, but it's a tough language for an American with only dim memories of high school French.
Hopefully I'll be posting some cool pictures soon, if I get a chance to wander anywhere interesting.
What the heck is Tuesday when you're 12 time zones from home? Here in Taiwan it's 8:30 PM. Back home in Massachusetts, it's 8:30 AM on Wednesday morning. Between the time difference and the jet lag, not a lot of luck in reasoning about time.
I'm doing very slightly better with language, strangely. I've identified two glyphs. One (字) looks like a seven digit with a horizontal line through it. It's pronounced "tze" (the vowel is a schwa) and I've seen it occur at the ends of several words or small phrases but I don't know its meaning. The other, I can't remember now because I'm too jet-lagged. Another thing this morning was that I identified a glyph that I believe is a very recent invention without any of the historical roots of the other characters. It's an outline of the Red Cross symbols, with crossbars along the top and bottom edges, and my guess is that it indicates a hospital. Some of the mechanics of how these characters are formed is fascinating.
Today I visited Hsinchu with a couple of other engineers, one also from Litl, and one from Motorola. We did a bunch of debug on some boards that a contractor is designing for us.
I'm surprised how normal things feel in Taiwan. I had expected it to feel more alien. But everything kinda fits and makes sense. It's interesting to be immersed in a culture that's a little different but not very, and a language that is thoroughly alien. (Though I suppose the clicking languages of Australian aborigines would be even more alien.)
Friday evening, Taiwan time
你好 East Coast folks! I should be back in about 24 hours. Just in time to liberate the cat from cat jail and spend the rest of Saturday morning napping.
I really wish I'd gotten an earlier start on learning some Chinese and applied myself more diligently. It was frustrating to look around and see and hear all this interesting language and understand nearly none of it. Oh well, there should be more opportunities. I'm given to understand that my work will bring me to mainland China before too long.
I also wish I'd thought to take more photos. I just totally spaced on the fact that I'd brought along a camera.
Saturday evening, back home
Still a bit dazed about time zones. Spent 18 hours on airplanes getting home, with a layover in SF long enough to stroll around Fisherman's Wharf. Both airplanes were useless for sleeping so I needed to nap. Gonna try to use melatonin to get my biorhythms resynchronized.
I think I was mistaken in thinking the Red-Cross-like character was a recent invention. I later saw other usages that were inconsistent with that theory. It just doesn't feel calligraphic to me in the same way as the rest of the written language.
Here's something humorous: most of the comments to most of my blog postings are in Chinese, with a string of periods, each an HTML link to some Chinese porn site. They're doing this to try to crank up the Google ratings of their porn industry, obviously. The same is true of this posting, there is currently one comment from a friend in Kolkata and four of these porn-site-promoting comments. It just seems kinda funny that they're in response to a posting about visiting Taiwan. I dunno, it sounded funnier when I first thought of it. If anybody knows how to block such comments on one's blog without blocking any legitimate comments from the same geographical area, I'd love to hear about it.