Big Typhoon is Here

Last night the typhoon made landfall, bringing with it lots of rain and heavy winds.

The areas that are prone to flooding have become flooded, which thankfully doesn’t include anywhere around where I live.

The upside is that I get the day off work, the downside is that yesterday evening after coming back from PingDong and going snorkelling in Kenting my hard drive has decided that it doesn’t want to cooperate, so the day will be spent using knoppix Linux to boot the computer and then trying to get as much of the data off that drive as I can.

Thank goodness I keep my data on a secondary drive which is still working fine, but I cannot figure out how to access it in Knoppix.

By the way, Knoppix is a great way to check out how cool the Linux operating system is. You just download it, burn it to CD and than just put it in your CD drive and it will boot from there. Check it out at…

http://www.knoppix.org

Maybe tomorrow will be another day off, that would be a treat.

My Birthday

June 12th, 1979, that’s when I first popped into this world.

Well, it’s been a long time since then.

School went by in a meer 12 years. University dragged by in another 3 and half, and now, here I am in Taiwan, married, with a wonderful wife, teaching Taiwan’s little future leaders.

It’s funny how you cannot imagine where you will be in the future. No matter how much we plan, or how much we think we have everything figured out, they usually don’t go quite according to plan.

That’s God’s plan.

I realise that I have tried to make things go my own way and focused on myself too much. Being in a marriage has shown me a lot of my weak points, being so close to someone else brings out the best and worst in oneself. It’s a valuable learning experience, and only selfless giving and love can make a marriage work.

Living for oneself really leads to nothing. If my aim was for the 70 or 80 odd years I have here, maybe that would be OK. But in the light of an eternity serving God, it just won’t cut it.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” — MATTHEW 22:37-38

Just like a marriage, I need to give my whole heart to God. I need to love him with all my mind, heart and soul. He knows everything, I need to trust Him and join in what He’s doing.

It’s not easy, nothing worthwhile ever is, but we are assured of His love for us. He guides and leads and will never let you down if you put your faith and trust in Him.

So with that I now go into my 26th year on this planet, trusting Him. It will be a good one.

Love to you all, I should write more often…

Mommy’s birthday

Today is my Mommy’s birthday.

My mom has had quite an impact on me as a person.

I remember when I was still in South Africa having quite long conversations with my mom. She would always listen when I had something to say and I would do the same when she had something to say. I think she was definitely and influence on my temprement. I tend to just listen when others talk and don’t like to butt in too much.

My mom definitely had little shits as children (pardon my language). When I was young I was incredibly grumpy in the morning when I got up for school. I could always find something to complain about. I would either go to the kitchen to eat breakfast and complain that she hadn’t made my sandwiches yet, or I’d complain about the fact that all my school clothes were not in my cupboard. Then I’d randomly hit my brother for simply talking to me at the breakfast table.

Ahh, the memories.

At this point I would have to mention, that even though I was such a pain she still made me sandwiches in the morning until I finished University. Only a mother’s love I guess.

Sometimes my mom would not just take it from us, but we managed to “test her boundaries”. James learnt the hard way how much force it takes to break a spoon on someones bum. My mom broke it, not James.

And on my last trip back to South Africa, for my wedding, my mother got her team of ladies together and basically prepared a whole wedding without the bride and groom there. The team of ladies is another joke with my mom, as she’s keen on “process” when she does things, so often all of her friends are involved in the stuff she does.

So, I’d like to say thanks to my Mom for all the wonderful years.

A wonderful influence on me and my siblings, as well as a wonderful mother-in-law for my wife, who still phones her occassionally, and calls her Mom.

Thanks for everything mom.

Love you Mom, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Tomb sweeping day

Today is Tomb sweeping day, April the 4th is a public holiday. Here is all the low down on this long celebrated Chinese festival.

Celebrated two weeks after the vernal equinox, Tomb Sweeping Day is one of the few traditional Chinese holidays that follows the solar calendar– typically falling on April 4, 5, or 6. Its Chinese name “Qing Ming” literally means “Clear Brightness,” hinting at its importance as a celebration of Spring. Similar to the spring festivals of other cultures, Tomb Sweeping Day celebrates the rebirth of nature, while marking the beginning of the planting season and other outdoor activities.

Qing Ming Jie in Ancient Times
In ancient times, people celebrated Qing Ming Jie with dancing, singing, picnics, and kite flying. Colored boiled eggs would be broken to symbolize the opening of life. In the capital, the Emperor would plant trees on the palace grounds to celebrate the renewing nature of spring. In the villages, young men and women would court each other.

The Tomb Sweeping Day as Celebrated Today
With the passing of time, this celebration of life became a day to the honor past ancestors. Following folk religion, the Chinese believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors looked after the family. Sacrifices of food and spirit money could keep them happy, and the family would prosper through good harvests and more children.

Today, Chinese visit their family graves to tend to any underbrush that has grown. Weeds are pulled, and dirt swept away, and the family will set out offerings of food and spirit money. Unlike the sacrifices at a family’s home altar, the offerings at the tomb usually consist of dry, bland food. One theory is that since any number of ghosts rome around a grave area, the less appealing food will be consumed by the ancestors, and not be plundered by strangers.

Honoring Ancestors
Honoring ancestors begins with proper positioning of a gravesite and coffin. Experts in feng shui, or geomancy, determine the quality of land by the surrounding aspects of streams, rivers, trees, hills, and so forth. An area that faces south, with groves of pine trees creates the best flow of cosmic energy required to keep ancestors happy. Unfortunately, nowadays, with China’s burgeoning population, public cemetaries have quickly surplanted private gravesites. Family elders will visit the gravesite at least once a year to tend to the tombs.

While bland food is placed by the tombs on Qing Ming Jie, the Chinese regularly provide scrumptious offerings to their ancestors at altar tables in their homes. The food usually consists of chicken, eggs, or other dishes a deceased ancestor was fond of. Accompanied by rice, the dishes and eating utensils are carefully arranged so as to bring good luck. Sometimes, a family will put burning incense with the offering so as to expedite the transfer of nutritious elements to the ancestors. In some parts of China, the food is then eaten by the entire family.

Kites
Besides the traditions of honoring the dead, people also often fly kits on Tomb Sweeping Day. Kites can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Designs could include frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, crabs, bats, and storks.

326 march

Tomorrow, March 26th (326, a popular Taiwanese way of labelling events, March=3 and 26th=26) the Taiwanese people will express their disapproval of China’s anti-secession bill.

Approximately 1 million people are hoping to come to the march, which is to be held in 10 different locations around the country.

The march is to show the Taiwanese people’s anger at the bill which was passed a few weeks ago, which more or less allows China to use military force if it sees fit.

You can read a story about the march at http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2005/03/25/2003247647

This event could be quite big, and I am waiting to see how it turns out. This kind of event could get quite nasty. Report more after the event.