Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lunar New Year's Day at Naksansa

As these pictures show, Naksan did indeed get a shave. If you could ignore the long lines of piled, blackened pine logs, you might admire the improved views from the base of the 23 metre Kwaneum Buddha at the peak of Naksan. Unfortunately, you can't ignore the long lines of piled, blackened pine logs; the view actually is both depressing and very orderly.

I don't know what will be done with the Naksan lumber but some big tree trunks, probably from Russia, maybe Canada, are stacked and ready to begin the rebuilding. They don't look like they were soaked for a year or a few years in salt and then fresh water. I know that was how the 80,000 wood blocks for the Koreana Tripitaka were prepared; wasn't a similar process used to prepare the temple lumber? I seem to remember hearing about the base of many temple logs being white from the salt settling and leaching out.
Notice the rabbit sitting at the base of the wood pile. I also saw many woodpeckers; they are attracted to dead wood and Naksan is a motherload right now.

I'm sorry about the order of the pictures right now. I am sick with a cold and don't care enough to fix the order. Proper blogging will resume shortly.

Anyway, I don't know when new trees will be planted. Ironically, I was looking for a place to plant trees on Arbor Day 2005 when Naksan burned. If plans are made for volunteers to plant on the hills and slope around Naksan for this year's Arbor Day, you'll read about it here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More Camp Blogging

Another week, another test. This week's best answer isn't laugh-out-loud funny but I like it:

I think albatross the bird, is most interesting. This bird can fly and sleep at the same time! Also, they can fly 25 miles per hour! I wish I could sleep and take exam at the same time.

On Saturday the fourteenth, I led an 'advertize your widget' class. The students were given the plastic cover for whiteboard erasers and told to come up with a product name and use, a poster and a radio spot. Here are some of the best. Oh, the first class had the lid to a coffee mug. Click on the pictures to enlarge. If you want to listen to the clips you can but the volume is uneven, be careful.

Click here for audio (Odeo).
Click here for audio (Odeo).

Click here for audio (Odeo).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Camp blogging

After a long absence, here I am again. I've been busy with camp and family life. It's been fun but I miss blogging. Here are some things that have happened at camp.

There were a few funny test answers but this is my favorite. From class 2
This is one of our youngest students. I corrected only one spelling error. His logic is reasonable; there is just a little flaw:
I would like to visit Saturn because I like the rings which make Saturn look very cool. I heard that it's made of gas so it doesn't sink if we put it in the water.

In another class, I learned a new word: "opportunality". I'm please to have this opportunality to learn from great teachers.

One of the things keeping me busiest is the upcoming 'Deani Code' treasure hunt. It runs this Saturday morning and I've been preparing the clues and hyping the event with warning of the (imaginary) dangers involved. There may be pictures up next week, although they may only be interesting to GLPS students and families.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Naksan Got a Shave

I am now working in Hoengseong, about two hours from Sokcho. I went home for the weekend and had an incredible sense of disorientation. I was reading a book on the bus and when I looked up, I saw unfamiliar treeless slopes but I knew I was near Sokcho; what had happened? When I finally saw a stretch of shoreline I recognized, I realized all the dead trees (basically all trees) from Naksan had been cut down.

Visually, it's possible that the Kwaneum Buddha at Naksansa may be visible from Sokcho. Certainly it is from a few km down the road now.

I understand why the trees were removed. After being damaged in the fire, many sprouted green needles from upper branches but they didn't last through the summer. I suspect the cambium, the living layer just under the bark) had been cooked so no water or nutrients from the roots could reach the needles.

Pine trees are normally pretty flammable. Why, I remember when no less a scientist than McGyver used pine sap to make a bomb; that's how flammable pine trees are. Trees that have dried for eight months, combined with Korea's dry winters means that the mountain might have been more at risk than even before the fire.

Still, it looks odd. Arbour day is a long way away but I hope that Yangyang will be looking for volunteers to plant. I will sign up and I will post information here should anyone else be interested.

I guess the roots are still in the ground and I think they can continue to slow erosion until new trees take hold. Otherwise, Naksansa visitors had better look exclusively to the East to have views that won't make them cry.

(Again, I saw the mountain from a bus. I will try to visit next weekend to take some photos.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Koreans spend more on cigarettes than books

I am an avid reader. As a child, I probably visited the library once a week or more. Here in Korea, I love bus trips and my commute because they give me good reading time (actually, my new MP3 player is cutting into my reading time as I listen to podcasts frequently now. I can read with music in the background but if I download a podcast it is so I can concentrate on listening to it.).

I don't know if reading has enriched my life tangibly - school books were never particularly interesting to me and some of the fantasy and science fiction were 'empty calories', but long waits have never been onerous as long as I have a book handy. Oh, I did fairly well on Arirang's Contenders quiz show (now defunct) so my varied interests in reading material did pay off somewhat (I won around a thousand dollars but probably have bought several thousands worth of books).

Still, to read that a Korean household will spend twice as much on cigarettes as on books is surprising, especially considering how Koreans love education and are so proud of their literacy.

Even more surprising is reading that Americans spend similar amounts on books (with higher book prices). I hope Canadians read more.

On the same day I read about Korean spending and reading habits, I found an article on 'how to nurture your child's love of literature'. The article claims to give ten tips but suffers from one serious stumbling block to reading. The link to the second half of the article is broken.

My little guy is just over six months old now. I have been reading to him for about a year. In the past month he has become interested in books but mostly for their chewing potential. I can't wait until he learn there are actual stories therein that we can share. I don't know if I am a patient man but don't mind reading the same book again and again. I'm looking forward to rereading Dr. Suess and perhaps even borrowing my sister's biography of Driesel (the man behind the nom-de-plume).

A friend was impressed with another friend reading 45 books in a year ('serious' books, not pulp fiction) and posting reviews on his blog. When I find the name of his blog I will post it here. A (serious) book a week is probably too much for me these days. As a New Year's Resolution, I will post at least one book review a month on this blog. I am currently at Minjok Sagwan and they have a good library so I will probably start with 'a Thousand Chestnut Trees' which I saw there yesterday. Oh, I don't know if 'A Thousand Chestnut Trees' is a 'serious' book ( and I will now stop using that term) but it is set in Korea and I think it mentions Yangyang.