News from home

April 29, 2010

“German police are investigating a man for theft after he siphoned electricity off a high-voltage overhead transmission line for one month with the help of an ordinary meat hook, authorities said on Tuesday.

The 36-year old man from Sibesse in Lower Saxony concocted the plan to steal electricity after the power company cut him off for failure to pay his bills, police said.

The man attached a cable to the meat hook and tossed it onto an overhead power line. He then drew power from he transmission line to his home, located about 150 meters.”  Taipei Times 29/4/2010

That man should get the MacGyver-Award.



April 28, 2010

Was this picture taken in

A) Landshut a. d. Isar, South of Germany

B) Taipei, North of Taiwan

C) Turrialba, Central Costa Rica

Ok, I know, this was very easy.

In Bavaria (Germany), of course, the whole point of having flowers and plants in front of your house on display is for decorative means only.

And why on earth would one put a decorative green in a not-at-all decorative, rancid and even less decoratively cut open (totally inacceptable) plastic bottle?

Well, because one is Taiwanese (Yes, well done! The right answer was Taiwan!) and being Taiwanese one loves his flowers and plants. And because using an old plastic bottle is just extremely convenient. And so environment-friendly! Efficient! Sustainable! And because in a country where most people seem to think mood lighting is an era in French history there is just no reason to put plants in something you have to spend money on, something that can break or fall on other people’s heads – and then break. 真沒道理!

Oh, by the way, I don’t know about Costa Rican home gardening habits, sorry to have lured you… needed a C) option ^-^… But if anyone can tell me more about it, that would be great (Manuel!! Where are you?!).

By the way 2, personally I think it is unintentionally artistic. It could as well be an installation for some contemporary art exhibition. Ha, maybe it IS contemporary art and my Auslander-arrogance tricked me into thinking it was an interculturally interesting observation……………………………………….

How much time does it take to cross a street?

It takes surprisingly long, actually it is even a little disconcerting if you think about how much time you spend on crossing streets and waiting for green light. Every day.

I mean you probably guessed that before.

But Taipei – always concerned about its citizens – provides the service to inform you – exact to the second – how much time you are precisely wasting while waiting and crossing.

For those who are missing out on this enlightening piece of precious information, I am going to share it with you.

Following indications are benchmarks only. Variables such as leg length, flat foot, splay foot, injured foot, cakewalk, silly walk or double quick cannot be taken into consideration.

1 lane: 13 seconds

2 lanes and right-turning motorists, 23 motorcyclists: 35 seconds

4 lanes and right-turning motorists,  79 motorcyclists and traffic island: 61 seconds

6 lanes and above: 4 minutes up to half an hour.

(The law of the Taipei street is men vs. machine. In this case right-turning vehicles vs. traversing pedestrians. Generally speaking the bigger the street crossing mob the better the chances to win that fierce battle and to reach the other side in time.)

Of course usually you don’t only have to calculate how  long it takes to cross the street but in fact how many seconds you will need to get to the street from where you actually are in the first place (which is most often around 40m before the auspicious traffic light) PLUS to cross it and get to the other side in one piece.

Oh blissful unawareness on German streets!

Where red light is merely the mild warning that anytime soon (but not too soon) safe crossing can’t be guaranteed (and is of course very illegal). No countdown will make you bite your nails – it’s green until it’s red. And German red is not as red as Taipei red. And mob or mouse – green illuminated pedestrians have always right of way. And you can choose to live in sweet denial until your very last day and tell yourself it only takes you 5 minutes to uni because there are no walking, talking traffic lights that confront you with the unwelcome truth.

Taipei traffic light