Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Gangwon beaches may lose their barbed wire next year.

GI Korea found this article about the Maritime Ministry's plans to remove 3km of the 68 km of barbed wire and razor wire it has around Gangwon beaches next year. 3km isn't a lot, but it is a start.

Does that mean the beaches will be open 24 hours? Many are closed through the night.

Might I suggest another way to encourage return visitors would be to have a few more garbage bins at the beaches as an alternative to tourists simply burying their trash in the sand.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

My son

I really should have prepared more for fatherhood.

Sure, I knew the basics as found in a few books. I don't know what the Korean books say about having a baby, but I do know that the process is somewhat different than as described in the books I read.

I'm doing fine. There were a few complications in the birth but I suspect no birth or early babycare is 'the usual'.

Alexander is fine and healthy. From the sound of his cries when we are slow feeding him, he has great lungs.

One of the obvious main points that I read (and already knew, everyone knows) is that newborns have weak necks and their heads must be supported. So, the first ten times I picked him up took me about two minutes as I ever-so-carefully maneuvered my hands into position. The hospital staff just scoop and lift; it'll be a while before I am as fast as them.

Introducing Alexander. Posted by Hello

I want to thank everyone for their kind comments and offers of advice.

Oranckay, I am interested in that bike helmet; perhaps not right away. I will wait until you are settled again online - what's going on?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Temporary change in focus

I promised earlier that this would not become a 'baby-blog'. However, for the next few weeks, there will probably be nothing but baby stuff here.

Tonight, we go to the hospital and my wife's C-section is scheduled for tomorrow morning. I will probably make an audiopost from the hospital but I don't know when I will next be writing any posts.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Coast Guard issues Shark Warning

We in Gangwondo seem to be safe as the warning applies to the South and West coasts of Korea, which are warmer than the East Sea.

I found the warning here:

Specialists say the unusual number of sharks in the West and South seas is due to a warm current taking seaweed to the region from the south -- something that happens every early May -- and mixing with the existing cool current, which creates ideal conditions for sharks between June and August.

They say sharks will move into shallow waters when they are hungry and advise people to stay clear of shallow waters that suddenly slope off into great depth.

I hope Gangwondo's cold water keeps sharks away because the whole coast consists of sudden slopes to great depths.

I remember Bainbridge's book, Shark Attack, written in the 70's. His basic conclusion was that wherever high concentrations of humans swimming were found, higher numbers of shark attacks would also be found. - In other words, the only safe thing to do is to stay out of the ocean altogether. He found no safe colours, safe scents nor any other talisman worked to protect swimmers.

I will be swimming tomorrow at Sokcho beach. I don't know if I need to bury my head in the sand first.

Summer Rainy Season

Some things are very unpredictable. I think the weather is a good example. Judging from the results I see on MSNBC, I imagine they would agree. Only in Korea have I seen this kind of accurate dating.

"The rainy season is expected to begin on Wednesday, with a
rain front approaching northward to Cheju Island."..."The seasonal
according to the forecast, will have largely disappeared by the middle of next
month, with a few exceptions. "..."The administration expects about two to three
typhoons this summer, as in previous years."

Now, I can't predict what drivers on the road will do (and I really wish they would learn what a turn signal is!) but somehow they can note the start and end of a season down to the day. Well, last year they were right, so I guess I shouldn't be quite so skeptical.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Book Tag

Finally. GI Korea tagged me to join in a bloggers game to describe my interests in books. I watched sadly as the A-list Korean bloggers choose each other and I truly learned my place in the blogosphere. That's not to say anything bad about the GI whose blog has the most indepth commentary I've seen.

Coincidentally, I was reading up on tag so as to teach it to an ESL class. Sure, any individual game of tag is easy to teach, but try the terminology. In Canada, the person doing the chasing is called "it". Explain "it" - and not the "They're doing it!" idiom.

Anyway, now I'm 'it'.

How many books have I read?
As with everyone else in this game of tag, thousands. As with the other bloggers I read, I am old enough to have grown up with books rather than the computer to entertain me. I bought my first computer in '81, so I wonder how people born after that would respond.

Everytime I visit my mother's house in Canada, I both choose a half dozen books to bring to Korea and take another dozen (or two or three) books to the local used book store. I am probably down to a hundred books at my mother's house. In Korea, I have a large bookshelf full but also leave books at a coworkers office that serves as a current English language book for coworkers.

The last book I bought and read.
I have a four pack coming from Amazon right now. I recently reread the two Shaara's accounts of the American civil war but the last book I read for the first time is 'Guns, Germs and Steel' which I reviewed here.

The last book I read but didn't buy.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place. A gift from my sister, it tells the true story of a man who was exploring a crevice and had a rock fall on his hand, trapping him in place.

five books that meant a lot to me
In no particular order:

1) Ringworld - or the Ringworld series. Larry Niven is a great SF author who puts the emphasis on the Science part of science fiction. Each book is great but the first was strikingly original. Since then, each new book (there are three and the gap betwen first and last is 30 years) has had new technology that was missing in the earlier books which is as jarring as it was in the Star Wars movies.

2) Our Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. Sagan was a wonderfully articulate astronomy and science populizer. In this book, he compares ancient accounts of demonic and angelic sightings with modern accounts of UFOs and finds the stories are the same with new covers.

3) Any of Tim Powers' books. My favorite is 'Anubis Gates'. He is known as the author who must hate his heroes- most of them finish the story missing fingers or more. He studies historical documents and keep the known timeline. Then he fills in the blanks with magic and secret conspiracies.

4) Where Rivers Run, by the Macguffins. Gary and Joan were neighbors of mine in Bracebridge and have written books on exploring Canada by canoe. Reading their exploits, you see a mater-of fact, "we went from A to B on the twentieth" then you look at a map and see they travelled fifty or seventy km in a day.

5) Thor Heyerdahl's adventures, especially Kon-tiki: Across the Pacific by raft. His work, particularly on Easter Island, has not been well recieved by professional historians and I don't know why... But I don't care. The stories are very exciting on their own. Simply thinking about his books makes me want to find a way to sail home when we leave Korea for Canada.

Who's next
After badmouthing myself as a C-list blogger, tagging someone else might be considered rude. Still, I would like to hear from Lao-ocean girl, James and Rory . I hope they do see it as a compliment, as I intend it to be.


I haven't posted much lately. Something's been on my mind, distracting me. Perhaps it's that I will be a father in five days!

Anyway, the Nomad has been covering my beat a little. He linked and commented on a Korea Times article about the possiblity of nude beaches in Gangwondo next year.

The province's environment, tourism and culture bureau has been toying with different ideas for new tourist attractions, including a nude beach.

``We are going to conduct a series of surveys on tourists this summer about their opinions on a nude beach along the east coast,'' provincial official Lee Myun-ki said.

Now, I think a nude beach is an interesting idea. I think that my attendance at such a beach might drive others away although it may be the one inducement to get back in shape that I've been looking for.

If Gangwondo wants to try different types of beaches, I reccommend first creating a swimming beach, where people who like to actually swim could be happy. Naksan beach has a bouyline five metres from shore and the guards make trouble if you go beyond the line. I don't blame the guards; after all, the rented power boats are racing just outside the line.

Another suggestion would be for a quiet or nature themed beach (not' au natural') without blasting music from speakers. The power boats at Sokcho beach have speakers bolted to the bow to further spread the music.

If I'm complaining about the loud music, does that mean I'm too old?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Found near Chuncheon, Gangwondo

These little guys are endangered in Korea. A recent survey (described in the Korea Times) found two in Chunchon and Hongchon. apparently, 119 (throughout Korea) have been sighted since 1997.
I am concerned. Hongchon and Chunchon are close by human standards but it's a long trip as the squirrel flies.

Korean Flying Squirrel Posted by Hello

From the Article:
Flying squirrels, which also inhabit Siberia and Manchuria, are usually found in mountainous regions in Kangwon and North Kyongsang provinces in Korea.

The survey showed that areas in Chunchon, Hongchon, Yongdong, Hapchon, Ansong, Kyongju, and Ulsan have maintained healthy ecosystems and biodiversity.

I'm not sure who's standards they are using, but I certainly wouldn't describe much of Korea as having healthy ecosystems. It sounds to me like the National Institute of Environmental Research is trying to justify itself to the population or toe the government line.

More results are said to be online at the Ministry of Environment's website, but I couldn't find them in the English section.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Religious shenanigans and crackpottery

Today, I read three articles that discussed religion and I decided to comment on them.

I am not religious. I can respect the work that many religious organizations do (and thank my university, a small 'c' Christian institution, for giving me a place to work) but I personally am not interested in joining any religious group. I went to church as a child but as soon as it was my choice, I stopped going. These days, I go to church for weddings (well, in Canada; they don't do weddings in churches in Korea) and I would probably go with my mom on Christmas eve, if she asked.

When first I traveled to Buddhist counties, I was interested and excited in the temples, the cultures and the doctrines. Now, I simply find them interesting subjects for study, not to join.

Still, I think I understand the basics of religion. One of the key points for me, one of the things I admire most, is the search for something unchanging. God's unchanging law: I wish there were such a thing. That's why I have problems with these women complaining about the their exclusion from the RC Church.

nine women to defy Vatican to become priests

"It is an immensely wounding part in our Catholic
history to block women's ecclesiastical participation
in orders. I think people have been closed to a
deeper, fuller expression of their faith by having,
in the hierarchy and levels of authority and
decision-making, a male-only church," she said.

Fourteen women have already been ordained in
similar river ceremonies in Europe in recent
years and 65 others are planning to join their
ranks soon.

The Vatican has refused to allow women becoming
priests and reacted by excommunicating the first
seven women ordained on the Danube River between
Germany and Austria in 2003 after they refused
to retract their vows.

But, two of the women, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger
of Austria and Gisela Forster of Germany, were later
secretly ordained as bishops by their male
counterparts in the Roman Catholic church, insists Birch-Conery.

I believe that women have as much right as men, in general, to lead a church. However, once a church is established, how can you change God's laws? If you think that one law or rule is wrong, how can you accept the others?

I accept that breathing exercises could be useful and that exercise with stretching motions is a very good idea. I do a little yoga myself. Still, I find this article about a form of Ki-gong or meditative breathing to be really over-the-top, with the kind of earnestness that usually comes from ultra-nationalist Koreans (The author name, R. Sheppard, doesn't appear to be Korean).

'Seon-do' Practice

Yoga uses a chakra to describe the location but
doesnÂ’t use methods to store energy there: which
is the main point of using the Dan-jeon, located five
inches below the navel.
Meditation in the ``lotus positionÂ’Â’ is not emphasized
until your breathing point has been found, and it
takes six months of lying down breathing just to
find the location. No wonder gurus just give up!
To use an analogy: regular meditation is like walking
to America and meditation with Dan-jeon breathing
is like driving a steam engine.
From Buddha to others, including Jesus and famous
Koreans, such as King Sejong, Yi Soon-shin and
KoreaÂ’s most famous geisha Hwang Jin-yi _ all are
known to have practiced it
I wanted to comment on how strange the first sentence I quoted was but my knowledge of, and usage of grammar made me choose to let it go.

(sarcasm font) I would much prefer to drive a steam engine than walk to America (/sarcasm). What kind of stupid-assed metaphor is that? I guess you have to wait until winter and walk or drive over the north pole. I suppose the author didn't want to exaggerate his claims. The difference isn't as big as that of walking and flying, nor of walking and taking a boat; walking and driving (an obsolete vehicle) around the world's largest ocean would both take work and the author does go into detail about the difficulties of learning seon-do.

Learning that Jesus used seon-do is also pretty cool. I'd sure like to learn how they came up with that.

Finally, an article about Jehovah's Witnesses and blood transfusions from the Korea Herald. The article discusses the issues pretty evenhandedly. The background is JWs, and others, disapprove of blood transfusions and more than one person has died when transfusions might have saved their lives. The key words for the article are 'might have'. What if the government forces the sick person to have a transfusion but he dies anyway? Would the government be at fault?

This part of the article surprised me most:

Choi said he obtained signatures from more than 5,000
doctors from general hospitals saying they can
perform surgery without blood transfusions.

Kim Mun-seol, chief doctor at the bloodless surgery
center at Baik Hospital, said, "I will not let my child
have a transfusion. It is no good having another
person's blood." Kim is not a Jehovah's Witness.

But many medical experts say bloodless medical
treatment cannot fully take the place of a transfusion.

"It is no good having another person's blood." Without knowing more about Dr. Kim, I have to wonder if this is the same mentality that makes adoption almost unheard of in this country ("can't have another person's blood[line] in my family").
I don't know if this relates or not: Koreans all know their bloodtype and frequently make predictions based on bloodtype.

As for me, I think the blood transfusions should be required when necessary and that JWs should be taught the facts about evolution and be reminded that the world did not end in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 nor whatever other dates they previously predicted so they should give up their silly-assed religion.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Thick Fog on the coast

I live very close to the coast; perhaps 500 metres away.
Today, I was very domestic and kept busy cleaning the house. It was hot and I was planning to hit the beach later. I took my bike down to the parking lot (carrying it, the elevators were being repaired or something) and got onto my bike in the hot sun. I get to the coast and it's cold! The mist in the air really brought the temperature down.

I went to my university to drop stuff off and pick up new stuff to work on and the campus was hot. I took an inland road north and was in the sun under I returned to the coast. I took this picture at Daepo Hang.

fogged in? Posted by Hello

I don't actually know if they are fogged in; the harbor is usually this full in the afternoon.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

One world, Many people

While surfing today, I saw several references to a UN report for Earthday; an atlas with side by side satellite pictures from the 1970s and from 2000 of various locations.

The atlas is part of a project called 'One world, Many people' and is meant to show urban sprawl and environmental degradation over the past 20-some years.

The pictures of how Las Vegas have grown are impressive (or horrifying). However, I was unable to find information about Korea. 1970's Korea would have shown North Korea as better off than it is now and shown South Korea, particularly Gangwondo, as farm land or forest. I think putting Korea photos from 197- and 2000 together would be very interesting. Perhaps there was little satellite coverage of Korea at that time.

I will keep looking, but if anyone else finds a link, I'd be grateful to see it.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Coast Guard follow-up, a change of heart

I posted earlier today and also a few days ago about the Korean Coast Guard. In my post today, I joked about the fighting effectiveness of the Korean Coast Guard. As the son, the grandson and yes, the husband of a police officer, I just wanted to be clear that anyone who attacks a police officer should be punished quite severely and if the Chinese fishermen did indeed attack the Korean Coast Guard officers and if the Korean fishermen did attack the Japanese CG officers, they should be punished accordingly.

Particularly at this juncture, the Koreans should not interfere with the Japanese investigation of the Korean fishermen. I would say that at any time, but simple good-faith is not the only reason. If the Koreans plan to charge the Chinese fishermen, they should play it straight with the Japanese for the world's public opinion.


The Lost Nomad used this title and I liked it and wasn't creative enough to make my own.

I don't feel comfortable commenting on the gravity of this incident. The Chosun calls it 'farcical' and the Nomad call it 'a bit silly' and points out that "It's all fun and games till someone sinks!", but my family connection to the Coast Guard prevents me from even suggesting that I want to.

Oh, the incident was a standoff at sea between the Korean Coast Guard and the Japanese Coast Guard. Between them, literally, was a small Korean eel-trawler that may have been fishing in the Japanese EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). The Japanese Coast Guard caught up to the ship outside of their waters but not really in Korean waters yet. They boarded the ship and soon after the Korean Coast Guard boarded the same ship from the other side. Yes, it was a 'ship-sandwich' with competing coast guards as the bread!

However, what impressed me, was the way the Japanese fought the Korean crew. The Times has a good description of what happened (or their version of what happened). In a similar incident with Chinese ships and the Korean Coast Guard, the Koreans had to break off the chase and let the Chinese get away. It may be time to study Japanese martial arts!