Fun Fact: There are speakers on the lamp posts in the back alleys like for sirens during bad weather, but the government makes announcements on them like “Happy Chinese New Year!” or “Don’t forget that trash won’t be picked up until after the holidays.” It’s all very Big-Brother-y and very weird.
I received a lot of red envelopes this Chinese New Year, so I treated us to a mahjong table and chairs for our newly inducted weekly mahjong/poker night. It’s going to happen or else Jen and I will turn into hermits for the next six months.
I spent 14 hours playing mahjong with Jim’s (my cousin) mom’s side of family on Tuesday. 14 hours. We played for money (as you’re supposed to, but this was my first time playing with money), and I lost $1300 out of $2000. I was up $1000 about 8 hours in, but after that 10th hour, I was exhausted, lost my concentration and my general sense of competition.
Before Tuesday, my own history of playing mahjong had consisted of what my dad taught me during family nights at home. We never played for money since it was all fun and games, but at least my brother and I learned the basics. Fortunately, I didn’t embarrass myself too bad playing with those hardcore professionals. Did I mention we played for 14 hours?
We went to Nine Percent last night. It was a pretty classy place, but there was no one there on a Saturday night. That’s because the entire city of Taipei has migrated home to celebrate Chinese New Year with their families. It seems like that a majority of people come to the big city to work, but their parents and families are really in the outlying parts and mostly in the south, like in Taichung and Kaohsiung.
Today, we went back to my grandmother’s house for New Years’ Eve dinner. There was a huge spread of food which is offered to the ancestors first, while we went through the rituals of praying to them and burning spirit money for them. And then after the ancestors are satisfied, we get to dig in. I even got a red envelope from my uncle, which is usually the best part of Chinese New Year.
We celebrated Inauguration Day at the Brass Monkey, which also happened to be $1NT ($0.03 US) beer night from 9-10pm. The pub was full, we met some new people, and we got to see Obama on the big screen. We also probably found our new local watering hole.
Today we had science day in my 5th grade class. We talked about matter and mass and volume for about an hour, and then I let them loose to work on the chapter assessment in groups.
Five minutes into it..
Edison: “Teacher, what is mass?”
“Look in the book, Edison. We just talked about it.”
Edison: “But Teacher, I don’t know what it is.”
Then Louis turns around and tells Edison, trying really hard to keep a straight face, ” ‘Mass’ is when you take 5 minus 2 and that equals 3.”
(If you didn’t get it, Mass=Math. Asians sometimes pronounce -th like -s. And Louis acknowledged that and made a funny.)
I couldn’t keep a straight face. I lost it for about five minutes.
Maybe you had to be there.
I also taught them what a “fart” is when trying to explain how gas diffuses in a room.
In other news, this is my life every morning. Ah, the glory of not having to be at work until 1pm.