From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fieldnotes From History (21)—Weathered

[a] Subtropical winter  RF
Part of an occasional Round and Square series that follows the blog’s main theme (east meets west, round meets square, and past meets present), these snippets from my early fieldnotes are reproduced as they were written by hand—and then revised on an ancient desktop computer—during my first fieldwork stay in Taiwan (1985-1987).  All entries are the way that I left them when I returned to the United States in 1987—some nicely-stated and some embarrassing. Although the series began with my assumption that the entries can stand alone, I have found that separate comments and notes might help readers understand a world that is now, well, history. These are always separate from the original fieldnote.

[b] Stone RF
Even though there is nothing special about this entry (beyond the fact, of which I wrote yesterday, that my November 2nd entries got me going again with the fieldnote process), it is one of my favorites. That is because it is a record from the past of what I thought the future might be like. I study history and anthropology, and the temporal perspective embedded here continues to fascinate me. I had never experienced a Taiwan winter, but I had lived in North Dakota, Minnesota (my home at the time), and Wisconsin for my entire life. How cold could it be? The warnings from my American acquaintances gave me pause, but I had no reference points for the information. My Chinese friends were little help, either. I continued to think that they just didn't "know cold" like I did. Writing these words in early November—with the Taiwan autumn in full force—I just couldn't do much more than write it down

Now that twenty-six winters have passed (and several spent in various parts of Asia), I can attest—even though I had little idea at the time—that I have never been colder than a December day exactly (12/15/85) twenty-six years ago (about six weeks after I wrote these paragraphs). I wore many layers of clothing, and kept plunking away on the chiclet keyboard of my old Copam Electronics computer. A cold front was passing through, and I have never (before or since) felt so cold and wet in my life. It was forty degrees Fahrenheit (five degrees Celsius). 

"They" were right, but I could not see the future when I wrote this entry in early November.

—Taipei (Taibei) is in northern Taiwan. The climate is considered "subtropical."

Related Fieldnotes: 1   2   3   4   5

2 November 1985
Taipei   (3 of 5)
Autumn is beautiful in northern Taiwan, with warm, sunny days and relatively cool nights. The nice weather often lasts into December. Then, I am told, a large, cold rainstorm falls, and the damp air begins to work its way under your shirt collar, through your skin, and, finally, into your personality. 

My Chinese friends have told me that the winters are cold, but, since I am from Minnesota, I will be comfortable. Americans—some of whom are from Wisconsin, New York, and Idaho—tell me a different version. They say that, because of the dampness, Taiwan winters feel colder than those almost anywhere in North America. The air temperature never dips below forty degrees Fahrenheit, but the dampness lingers in stone buildings and human bones. 

Not many buildings are heated in the winter, so most people dress very heavily. A teacher told me that his students often wear five or six layers of clothing to class. I find this a little hard to believe, since we are so (relatively speaking) near the equator, but my "informants" are adamant. From the sound of it, the humidity on the island makes Taiwan too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. That will surely make me miss Minnesota’s “temperate” climate. 

Related Fieldnotes: 1   2   3   4   5
[c] Oceancold RF

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