Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stuff That's Hard to Figure Out

If a statement is ambiguous, it has two mutually applicable meanings. "Obscure" implies that the expression is undecipherable because it is confusing. A cryptic statement is too short to be enlightening, perhaps intentionally so. An enigmatic phrase is intriguing but only mysteriously suggestive, not clear. "Abstruse" and "recondite" refer to difficulty in understanding caused by arcane words and reference to little known facts.

Thanks to Your Dictionary Dot Com's Word of the Day for teaching me how to be confused.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Animal Cruelty On My Street

There are many people on my street that own dogs. The sad part about it is that none of them seem to have any reason to have a dog. They don't seem to like them or care about them. They don't interact with them, so the dogs are totally antisocial. They don't let them into their homes, and they don't have yards, so the dogs live in tiny cages or on three foot leashes. This is dog ownership in Taiwan.


The worst case on my street is an apartment that has six or seven dogs. At least six are beagles that are in a cage that I would feel bad keeping a guinea pig in. They are in constant physical contact with each other because there is not enough room for them to do anything but stand or lie in place. They cannot turn around without climbing over one of their cell mates. I took a picture, but you can't really tell how bad it is from the shot. Imagine a phone booth (remember those?) and then picture yourself living in one with another person and never being able to leave.

At least six beagles live in that tiny cage behind the black dog. They never leave the cage.

This same apartment also has another dog (see photo and video). I don't know what kind it is, but it is vicious. They keep him tied up on about three feet of chain. Maybe his purpose is to "protect" the other dogs. As miserable as his life is, it is a paradise compared to the ones in the cage.

I try not to be judgmental about stuff I see in Taiwan. I am a guest here. But this is just sick. There is absolutely no reason to treat animals this way. I assume these people raise beagles to sell them or something, but that is no excuse. Taiwan may or may not have animal cruelty laws, but that doesn't really matter. What these people are doing is a crime.

I live on Jian Gong first road, lane 53. This is in Hsinchu. Here's the Chinese:

新竹市

東區

建 功一路

53巷

I hope there are some animal rights activists around here. Personally, I don't know what I can do about it. It is frustrating. Maybe I could call the police, but as likely as not that wouldn't do any good. After all, it has been going on for the three years I've lived here and no one has done anything (including me). Anyway, if anyone wants to see this horrible scene in person, feel free to wander down my street. It will be easy to find these dogs, because as soon as you get near them, they will start barking and yelping hysterically. And if there is anything that can be done about the cruelty, please do it!

I wonder if I could do more, but to be honest, I fear reprisals. I live alone, and I am pretty easy to spot in my neighborhood. If I make enemies, it would be very easy for them to hurt me. As I've pointed out before in my blog, I am no hero. So I am just putting this information out there hoping it will reach the right person who can and will take some action.

Don't just wait for someone else to do something, and remember that we all share the earth together, humans, plants, and animals. I guess sometimes we have to hurt each other in order to survive, but there is no reason for intentional cruelty, and less for cruelty that is perpetrated due to "not realizing that one's actions are cruel."


The above is a short video clip I took. Soon after I started shooting it, a woman came out with a stick. She threatened the barking dogs, and apparently they are used to being beaten, as they quickly quieted down. She seemed surprised that anyone would take notice of the situation. After all, it is only a pack of dogs that bark, howl, whine, yelp, and whimper pretty much constantly 24 hours a day. And who would blame them?

I told her that "it is bad" and that "it was crazy." I don't know if she understood what I was trying to say.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The View From Taiwan

I just want to send a special thanks to Michael Turton for his blog "The View From Taiwan." It is a great blog (I don't know where he gets the time to do all that reading, researching, and blogging), and I get a lot of hits because of his mention of my blog on his blog.

Keep up the good work!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Triangle of Life


I live in a place where there are a lot of earthquakes. Most of them are so small that I don't notice them. Still, a few years ago there was one that killed thousands of people and did incredible damage to man-made structures and the natural landscape. A lot of the damage has yet to be fully repaired.

The last "big" earthquake I remember happened at about midnight a few years ago. I was sitting at my computer playing Quake (oddly enough) or something, when I heard some of my pots and pans start clanging together. Then the building started to move. I grabbed my beer and ducked toward the bathroom, donning a motorcycle helmet on the way. I figured if I got trapped, I'd rather it be in the bathroom where there is water and .... uh.... facilities. The quake turned out not to be too serious.

If you want to see a list of earthquakes that have happened recently in Taiwan, you can go to the Central Weather Bureau's Quake Index. You can see from there that there are earthquakes worth measuring every couple of days.

Why do I bring all this up? Because I was cleaning out my hard drive and I came across a file called "Triangle of Life." I didn't know what it was, but when I opened it, it was all about how to survive in an earthquake. It was written by a rescue worker. I don't know when, or if it is even real. I can't recall how I got the file in the first place.

What the guy says is that you should never get under anything in an earthquake. If you do, you will be squashed and killed. Instead, you get next to things and lie down. Don't "lay" down, because lay is a transitive verb and can only be used with an object (of course, you could lay yourself down, but why state the obvious using two words when you can just use one?).

Anyway, what the article says sounds reasonable, so I'm going to post it here. Who knows, maybe someone will read it and it will save his or her life. Or maybe at least one person who is about to make an error in usage will not use "lay" when he or she should use "lie."

Now for the article:

Triangle of Life

My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation (UNX051 -UNIENET) for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

In 1996 we made a film that proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul, Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test.

We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did "duck and cover," and ten mannequins I used in my "triangle of life" survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results.

The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover. There would likely have been 100 % survivability for people using my method of the "triangle of life." Millions of viewers in Turkey and the rest of Europe have seen this film on television, and it was seen in the USA, Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under their desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of life ". The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured.

The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the "triangles" you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building. They are everywhere.

I trained the Fire Department of Trujillo (population 750,000) in how to survive, take care of their families, and to rescue others in earthquakes. The chief of rescue in the Trujillo Fire Department is a professor at Trujillo University. He accompanied me everywhere. He gave personal testimony: "My name is Roberto Rosales. I am Chief of Rescue in Trujillo. When I was 11 years old, I was trapped inside of a collapsed building. My entrapment occurred during the earthquake of 1972 that killed 70,000 people. I survived in the "triangle of life" that existed next to my brother's motorcycle. My friends who got under the bed and under desks were crushed to death. I am the living example of the "triangle of life." My dead friends are the example of "duck and cover."

Tips from Doug Copp:
1) Everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE is crushed to death -- Every time, without exception. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are always crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies all naturally often curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. The reason is simple: the wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed.

5) If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Everybody who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the door jam falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the earthquake does not collapse the stairs, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible. It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles, says the author. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fulong Beach

Last weekend I went to Fulong Beach in the north of Taiwan. It was a nice beach with lifeguards and a place to rent umbrellas and other stuff. There are bathrooms and showers, too. I thought it was nicer than the beaches I saw in Kenting, though the waves weren't very big.