Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More on North-South Hockey

The Korea Times has an article giving dates for the games with and between some North and South Korean hockey teams.

The games described are all in Chuncheon and area; no word on any Gangneung games, although Gangneung was named in a previous article.

This Friday, North and South teams, made of college and club players, will mix and form "two joint teams, Uri and Hana, meaning ‘we’ and ‘one,’ to play each other." On Saturday, the Kangwon Land team will play the North Koreans.

I am actually worried about the safety of the North Korean players. Oh, the South Koreans will love them but what happens when they get home? I have seen many warnings that rumors from North Korean defectors must be taken with considerable scepticism, but this one is scary. North Korean sent a cheerleading team to the Busan Asian Games and those cheerleaders may now be detention camps: the rumor was that they had broken their promise to North Korean security services not to disclose what they had seen in South Korea.

For what it's worth, although I am a proud Canadian, I don't care much to watch hockey. Still, I would love to see one of these games.

The Secretary General resigns

Just a warning to my co-worker Mona and my student Soon-young; be careful if you meet the federal representative of your city (Donghae).

From the Flying Yangban:
"Representative Choi Yeon-hee resigned from his post as secretary general of the Grand National Party after he was accused of grabbing a reporter's boobies. "

Choi serves Donghae and Samcheok cities in south-eastern Gangwon province.
He has resigned from several posts but may still be in office (what is Kuk Hoe?). I guess this is a start in accepting blame and showing contrition but his excuse is upsetting feminists:
"When confronted by her colleagues in attendance, Choi said that he "got her mixed up with the bar owner.""

You can also read about it in the Times.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

KwandongBrian's got a badge

My father was a cop, my grandfather was a cop; even my wife is a cop. Finally I get to be one, too.

Well, probably not, but some teachers may soon be packing a badge.

Okay, even that is stretching it a little. But, there is some current legislation that could give teachers the right to subpoena parents of trouble-causing students; summoning then in to answer questions.

Now, teaching is my business so I pay closer attention to education -related news. Still, when I think about corruption in Korea, I first think about police officers and teachers. Combining the two professions seems like a bit of a mistake. Here is a post I wrote in early 2005 about a Seoul teacher accepting bribes.

Some at the prosecutor's office share these concerns:
``There is a high possibility that teachers, who are not professional, could abuse their power that includes the authority of investigation and sending suspects to the prosecution,Â’Â’ a spokesman of the prosecution said, requesting anonymity.

Probably, this concern is of less importance than it seems. What I see happening, though, is regular law enforcement officials saying, "Hey, the teachers are on the beat in the schools; we will focus our attention elsewhere", changing the concept from assisting law-enforcement to being solely in charge.

Canadian teachers complain, probably with good reason, of being overworked, being nickel-and-dimed with a few more extra tasks each year. Korean teachers typically have twice the number of students and at least some have early classes; starting at 7:30.

Finally, I know what goes on in my classroom. I miss very little; no one uses phones or plays around in my class. On the other hand, I know almost nothing about what goes on outside of class. I have some excuses; I don't speak much Korean and my office is in Yangyang, while most of my classes are in Gangneung. Still, even Korean teachers don't normally patrol the hallways; what are they going to see?

Friday, February 24, 2006

More on Golden Bell

Earlier I wrote about the Golden Bell episode filmed at Kwandong University. I claimed that two G-bloggers were participating. First, a correction: one G-blogger, Masuro, participated and the other, like me, was a spectator. Pack-the-El-Camino and I simply watched and took some pictures. If Paka posts his photos, I recommend you check them out; these ones are not great quality.

The quiz ran from ten am to around six pm- nightmarishly long. One of the stars, host Kim Bo-min, spent the entire time trying to look comfortable in a miniskirt in the very cold gym.

Masuro and another Kwandong teacher, Nasra, performed a little skit in which several body language gestures were used. The students were then asked what the -two hands held at eye level and about a metre apart with two fingers making a 'bunny-ear' kind of motion- meant. Acceptable answers were; quotations, sarcasm or emphasis.

Here they are walking up to begin.

Afterwards, Masuro, who is relatively fluent in Korean, asked the question.

After that, Masuro, who is also a HUGE Kim Bo-min fan, joined the long line of high school boys to get an autograph.
Does his head seem unreasonably large to you?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Declining East Sea fish stocks

I just found two recent articles in the Joongang Ilbo about declining fish stocks off the Gangwon (and in fact, the whole East Coast) coast.

goseong apparently has a pollack festival that starts today. If there are pollack at the event, they may be purchased from Japan.
Pollack stocks have dropped for years. The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute described a government ban on keeping fish less than 27 cm. When stocks dropped, the banned size was dropped to 10cm then raised slightly to 15cm. Decreasing the minimum catch size has got to be seen as a short term (or stupid) solution.
The fishermen accept no blame.
Some fishermen complain that Chinese fishing boats in North Korean waters have been monopolizing the catch before pollack can move further south, into this country's waters.

Here's another short-term (or stupid) solution.
Lim Hyeong-taek, a senior official at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said, "I think it is safe to say that there is no more pollack left to catch in our waters. We are searching for solutions, such as trying to arrange joint-fishing contracts with North Koreans in their waters."

I don't have any suggestions for how the fishermen can make a living, but the only way to save the Pollack, in my opinion, is to stop the fishing and/or increase the minimum size back to 27cm or even larger. If South Korea wants to work with North Korea, they can work together on keeping the (alleged) Chinese boats out.

I don't want to single Goseong fishermen out. They need to make a living now and may not be able to look at the longterm. Also, I am Canadian and the mess we have made of Newfoundland's once wonderful fish stocks would make me cry if I really studied the numbers. The same problems and the same blame game can be found there -probably with the same accuracy. The Grand Banks has fishermen from more than one country fighting to make a living and at least one country is not thinking about sustainability.

The second article describes a fish most well-known in Kyoungsangbukdo (and the Netherlands).
From December on, in open yards throughout the areaÂ’s coastal villages, you can see many wooden racks full of saury. Exposed to the sea winds the saury are repeatedly frozen and thawed, becoming transformed into one of the seasonÂ’s delights through a brilliant process of natural, moderate fermentation. Originally, herrings were used because they were available in the East Sea, a long time ago. However, a drastic decline in numbers forced their replacement with the much more common saury.

I was always taught not to let my food thaw and refreeze. Well, I am a novice cook. I have to say it really doesn't sound all that appetizing to me.

Oh, about the European connection:
Many may not know it, but Asia is not the only continent that enjoys uncooked fish, and neither is Japanese ``sashimi’" the only way to relish raw fish. For many Europeans, raw fish is all about herring. Some Scandinavians love eating full-fermented herring. For Dutchmen, cured haring (herring in Dutch), is a delight to be savored.
Skindleshanks, do you have any comments about these dishes?

Tagged by GI Korea

The good thing about these games of tag is I don't have to hunt to find a new subject to post about. Thanks Gi Korea

Four Jobs I’ve Had
I prefer to look at this as groups of jobs:
1) Aquatics- Lifeguard, Swim Coach, Swim Instructor, Waterpolo Coach, counselor at a Camp Chikopi- A swimming/sports camp
2) Construction- House painter on Lake Muskoka, Carpenter's assistant on Lake Muskoka and Rosseau, Maintanence at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital
3) English Teacher- At a private school in Ontario, at hagwons in Masan and Seoul, a variety of ESL camps, currently at Kwandong University
4) I've already listed a lot of jobs, so my last category is volunteering: In Korea, I've volunteered at the 2002 World Cup, The Seoul Olympic Park Pool and for 'WE Start' in Sokcho - english classes and more for underprivileged kids.

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again
Seven Samurai - Kurosawa and Mifuni are a fantastic team
Fast Times at Ridgemount High - actually it's been a while - I'm not 17 anymore, but I did watch it many times
LOTR and Star Wars (the first trilogy)- I put them together just because it seems everyone watches these movies
The Hunted- The Christopher Lambert in Japan film, not the more recent one of the same name.

Four Places I’ve Lived
Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada - the longest freshwater beach in the world
Bracebridge, Ontario- I grew up there- it's still my home
St Catharines, Ontario - site of Brock University- named after one of the Canadians who sent the Americans packing after they tried to attack in 1812
Masan, Kyoungsangnamdo- Where I met my wonderful wife and started hiking in Korea - Muhaksan is a great little hike

Four TV Shows I Watch
This is a tough one due to the lack of variety here- often the choice is to watch the same show for the umpteenth time or not to watch anything
Friends- yes, I can quote most of the lines but I still watch now and then
CSI - I've actually gotten tired of seeing complicated scientific procedure completed in under a minute
Arirang News - I'm always up at 7:00am so it's a good start to the day
Lost- I just finished the first season on DVD. I 've enjoyed it but Jack's doctoring skills are scary -Hammering some guy's chest is really not the approved way to start a heart.

Four Websites I Visit Daily
Numerous K-blogging sites (you know who you are) - I didn't even have to write this- I just copied it from the GI's site- is there anyone in our 'sphere who hasn't written this?
Talk.origins - I'm not sure how much I want to get into creation/evolution debates, I started visiting out of boredom and I now find the exchanges fascinating
CBC audio site- Canadian evening news plays right when I have breakfast
ODEO and other podcasting sites - maybe not everyday but almost. With my long commute on the bus to work, I love to load up on several hours of programming

Four Places I’d like to Be Right Now
Algonquin Park - The one thing that makes me unwilling to commit to a longterm future in Korea is the lack of canoeing opportunities.
Somewhere warm - Sailing through the Whitsundays would be nice
Somewhere snowy- cold is no fun if you can't take advantage of it - I want to skate and cross country ski and toboggan
In bed- It's late: almost ten pm. I'll be getting up with Alex around 4:30, as I do every morning.

The next victims:
I've seen some bloggers tag two people, other's four. I'll stick with two more G-bloggers: Skindleshanks and Pack the El Camino

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Golden Bell at Kwandong

Today rehearsals were held at the gymasium of our university and tomorrow they will film a contest, to be broadcast in March or April. I will give details when I am given a concrete date.

To those who don't know, Golden Bell is a quiz game for high school students. One hundred students sit on marks squares on the floor with white boards on their knees. A question is given and the students write the answer, then hold the board over their heads. Students with incorrect answers leave the playing area and join the spectators. The game is broken up by cheering students, some talent show activities and a few interviews. When one student remains, he or she is asked a final question and if she or he gets it right, the student can ring the eponymous bell.

Filming will be from 10am to around 5pm. I know that an hour of television takes significantly more than an hour to record, but seven hours? Well, perhaps an hour will be spent with the students decorating their boards which normally have two-thirds of their area filled with motivational messages and graffiti.

I will not be involved with the event but two other g-bloggers will be (Gangwon bloggers). I will speak with them before linking to their blogs.

On the road again

I went for a short ride today. I started by going uphill which wasn't so bad and the deep breathing it required ensured me that my pneumonia has cleared up as full inhalations didn't hurt at all.

It was warm enough that I took off my jacket before I reached the top of the hill and my return racing down felt cool enough to give me pneumonia again!

It was only 5 km and ended -as so often is the case- with a stop at the bike shop to have the rear wheel trued. The bike had sat on the verandah with junk piled on it for three months and that was enough to give it a little wobble.

It's okay and I'm okay - expect more bike blogging soon.

Computer assisted teaching

Recently I visited The Seoul Hero's blog and read about concordancers, a type of computer program that has many uses but he specifically described looking for common errors in a large volume of student reports so as to set priorities in what to teach. I may not have explained it well - if you have questions, read his post.

I foolishly commented on his post that I was interested because I use computers in my teaching. He asked me to post about "how you use computers in your teaching; I’d love to learn more!"

I can respond with wonderful succinctness: In my teaching, I use computers badly.

Nathan, and my other readers, may want to know a little more. Here it is:

I have made some basic experiments with podcasting. While some people have a face perfect for radio, I have a voice perfect for Chaplin films so that hasn't worked out in a satisfactory way, yet. I haven't given up hope and will revisit podcasting, sometime.

One semester, I gave an interesting bit of homework to my students. I scheduled a week and arranged messenger chats with all of them; fifteen minutes each. You might wonder how I was able to fit 25 hours of chatting into my schedule. Well, it wasn't that bad. I can think and type in English faster than my students so I chatted with three at a time. That worked well except for the times I would also get a late student and an early one - five students was a little too challenging and not worthwhile. Still it was a pretty nonthreatening way to converse more-or-less one on one.

At my university, second year students have a listening class rather than a conversation class and I usually hunt the internet for interesting clips. www.eleaston.com and www.esl-lab.com are fine for short-turnaround homework - assigned one week and due the next, but I usually look for English clips rather than ESL clips as projects for the students.

Here are two interesting ones. As they are difficult, I am happy that they are video rather than merely audio.
old truck
sports camp

As you can see, although I do use computers and the internet in my teaching, I am not doing anything unique or unusual. This is something I hope to change and be more inventive with. Comments and suggestions are definitely welcome.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Haeundae and Kyoungpodae

In the Joongang Daily, I found an article comparing Haeundae with Gyeongpodae (Pusan's beach - the most famous in Korea with Gangneung's beach, perhaps the second most famous). The stats were interesting:
...the number of visitors to the Gyeongpodae Beach last summer was 3.1 million, only one quarter of the 12.8 million visitors to Haeundae Beach, even though Gyeongpodae has a 6-kilometer (3.6-mile) sand beach, three times longer than Haeundae's 1.8-kilometer strip.

The article then goes into the economic reasons for the difference. Briefly, Gyeongpo is a provincial park with regulations limiting the size of buildings. Thus, Haeundae has five-star hotels while Gyeongpo only has three-star hotels. The article discusses how unfair that is for Gangneung's economy and how the regulations should be relaxed.
"If private companies are allowed to invest in the Gyeongpodae Beach area more freely, they will construct well equipped sewage disposal facilities, so environmental pollution will be reduced rather than increase," Mr. Yun said. "If unlicensed buildings are jumbled up under the current restrictions, the environmental problems will get more serious."

I am all for improving Gangneung's economic situation but I can see some holes in the logic here.
Apparently there are 'unlicensed buildings' in the park now. How will reducing restrictions solve problems when the current regulations aren't enforced? Secondly, I know that the Chosun Westin Beach in Haeundae is (or was, it's been a few years since I was last there) run by an Australian. I have nothing against Australians but clearly the money will be leaving Korea. How does that help Gangneung?

Finally, the money isn't everything. I don't want to be on a beach as crowded as Haeundae. Last summer, I went to the beach at 7:30am and had a great time without the crowds. Also, the lifeguards were just arriving so I could really swim rather than wade in waist-deep water which is all Koreans seem to be allowed to do. Now, there's a regulation that should be relaxed!

Thanks, Norway

The IOC has it's share of corruption and unsavory dealings, but the spirit of the Olympics lives on in the participants. Thanks a lot, Norway. From the article:

[Canadian skier] Renner was leading the third lap of the six-lap relay when her pole broke. [Norwegian coach] Haakensmoen, standing on the side of the course, handed her another one.
Even though it was a man's pole, and too long for Renner, she still was able to complete her lap without falling too far behind the leaders.

Ironically, Norway finished fourth in the race. Haakensmoen laughed when asked if his skiers complained to him about helping another team.

"No," he said. "Canada was better than Norway. They
were clearly better. The pole had nothing to do with it."

To add a Korean connection:
There have been other notable incidents of lending a helping hand at the Games.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Canadian sailor Larry Lemieux looked poised to win a medal in the Finn class when he saw two competitors from Singapore struggling in the water after their boat had capsized. Lemieux broke off his race to help the two men.

From now on, this is what I want the world to remember when they think about Canada and the Seoul Olympics (rather than our (in)famous sprinter, Ben Johnson).

Anyway, a wonderful story.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Not the Korean Coast Guard

As my wife works for the Korean Coast Guard, I have to distance myself from any comparison but you have to see the Nomad's video!
Great find, Nomad!

North - South Hockey Game to be held in Gangneung

The Joongang daily has an article marked 'Turin' describing plans for the North Korean hockey team to come to Gangwondo to play two friendly games; one in Chuncheon and the other in Gangneung.
The Governor of Gangwondo is in Turin promoting Pyeongchang's bid for '14. He made the announcement.
Actually, most of the article is about Pyeongchang and the other bidding cities. For more information, I called Gangwon Tourism and learned that dates and locations have not been finalized yet. They will be this weekend as representatives meet at Gumgang. Perhaps I will have more news on Monday.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Freakin' Pneumonia!

Can you freakin' believe it? I've got freakin' pneumonia.
From Wikipedia:

Symptoms associated with pneumonia include cough, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. Diagnostic tools include x-rays and examination of the sputum. Treatment depends on the cause of pneumonia; bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics.

Pneumonia is a common illness, occurs in all age groups, and is a leading cause of death among the elderly and people who are chronically ill.

I thought it was for people who were basically already on their way out. Is that a sign for me? That I should be posting those final blogs?
Alright, the following people at Kwandong University are gay: ... maybe I'll wait to see if I recover, first.

Well, it is better news than that of the heart attack I halfway suspected when the chest pains came Tuesday night.

The doctor spoke some English but we had to resort to spelling a few words which I knew but hadn't used since my university years. He also told me my son would be in no danger - which really calmed me down because I was justifiably upset - freakin' pneumonia! Man!

Congratulations, Brazilian Yankabroad

Fellow G-blogger (the 'G' is for Gangwon) Yankabroad placed third in the Nordic Ski event at the 24th Annual Yongpyong resort International Ski Festival. Congratulations! Also, as I believe Yankabroad also wrote the article for the Korea Times, I have to complement him on his class: telling his friends on his blog how he did, but remaining suitably reticient in the newspaper article. If he didn't write the newspaper article - well, I'm sure he's a class act anyway.
Maybe someday I'll be healthy like that again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When Wikipedia needs the facts who do they come to...?

I almost never look at my site-counter (the little box at the very bottom of the page) but I did today and saw one of the referral sites was Wikipedia. Both the English entry for 'Fan death' link to me.

I doubt that I am a wonderful source of information on the subject; even when I wrote the post, I was thinking that this will be pretty similar to that of every other K-blogger. It's pretty much expected that if you blog in Korea, you will mention at least once Fan death, bad driving, red vests on hikers and strange students.

My post was probably just an example that the subject is real, that it is discussed and not some Wikipedia-powered urban legend. Still, it's pretty cool that they link to me.

Friday, February 10, 2006

This Sunday - Darwin Day

Feb 12, 1809. On this date, two great men were born- Abraham Limcoln, Emancipator of American Slaves and Charles Darwin, Emanicpator of the Human Mind.

There are many events being held in Canada, the US, the UK, Italy, Spain and possibly elsewhere. No Korean events listed. Details can be found here. One interesting point is that many of the events are being held in churches (the events are pro-Darwin, BTW).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hobbies I should either work on or remove from my resume (and more)

I consider myself (and have included in my Blogger profile) a swimmer, a cyclist, a wood carver, a photographer and a canoeist.

Well, maybe I don't consider myself a photographer, the term has professional overtones, but it is certainly one of my hobbies; and from the list, the only one I suppose I can legitimately claim these days. I take one to 30 pictures a week; most of them of Alex, my son, but many of Gangwondo's wild scenery.

It's been a long time since I last swam and years since I stepped foot in a canoe. The latter is not for lack of trying; on my last trip to Canada I hunted for a canoeing partner spend an afternoon on a river. That was in late December. There were no takers and rivers froze up unusually early.

The reason I am writing about this is two articles I recently read. The first is titled, "Monarch of cycling conquers mountain challenge" and describes the chairperson of the Bike Lovers Association (apparently, a women's cycling group). Heo Hae-sook is a real cycling hobbyist, riding several times every week and riding challenging routes I have gone out of my to avoid. When she was 66, she rode from Gangneung to Daegwallyeong, going from sea level to about a thousand metres of altitude. Last summer, I enjoyed a few good rides but deliberately kept to the coastal roads so as not to climb uncomfortable hills.

The second article is titled, "Carving Buddhist Teachings on Wood" and describes a wood carving monk who has put serious time into his carving while remaining modest about his work, "He even rejected being called a ``master of Zen wood engravings.'' ``There was no such things as Zen wood engravings, but just wood engravings. And I am not a master either. Publishers wanting to sell more of my books invented the title,'' he said. ``I am not a good calligrapher.'' "

He has a website: www.heaan.co.kr

Perhaps I will dig out my chisels or take the piled boxes off my bike and put some kilometres on it tomorrow. Maybe I can use these two articles as motivators. Well, if you see travel shots here in the next week, you will know I have returned to my bike. The chisels will remain where they are; they don't mix well with an increasingly mobile baby in a small apartment.

Now for the 'more'.

Update: There is no intensive course in the summer - the dates July 24-Aug 20 are the school break.
I just received a letter from the 'Sokcho Lifelong Education Information Center' - how did they get my address? Anyway, however they managed it, I am interested in what they sent me: information about Korean Language Classes for Foreigners. The letter is in Korean, which means they are looking for students with some solid basics already understood or they don't really understand their target market. The website given is also in Korean only. Still, it seems that registration will be from the 15th to the 17th of Feb and classes run from March 7 to Nov 30 with a summer class from July 24 to Aug 20. I will post more details once I get help reading the letter.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Way to go, Canada

Maybe I should say, "Way to go, British Columbia"- from the wording of the article, I don't know how much the Federal government was involved.

An area of rain forest (18,000square kilometres), somewhat larger than Gangwon-do, is now a completely protected area and a total of 64,000 suare kilometres allows restricted use.
From the Globe & Mail:
“The agreement reached on these areas represents an unprecedented collaboration between First Nations, industry, environmentalists, local governments and many other stakeholders in how we manage the vast richness of B.C.'s coast for the benefit of all British Columbians,” [premiere] Mr. Campbell said.

...He promised legislation will be introduced to establish sustainable logging practices in the rest of the region, often referred to by environmentalists as the Great Bear Rainforest.

The region is home to hundreds of species including grizzlies, black bears, the so-called spirit bear, wolves, cougars, mountain goats, moose and deer. The spirit bear is a rare white species, also called the kermode bear.

I understand that a properly protected area means that tourists are also kept out, but I hope I can someday see part of this remarkable area.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My new teeth

When I was, ah, I can't remember, but around eight to ten years old, I ran into a another, smaller kid at school. How much smaller? His glasses were the perfect height to impact my teeth. He complained, at the time that I broke his glasses, although he would be fine a week later. For what it's worth, my mother was called and told, "Kwandongbrian broke all his teeth" (Maybe they didn't call me 'Kwandong...' back then).

Anyway, the other kid was fine after a week and I will probably be done with it all next week. I had been wearing a plate for maybe five years and I finally went in to a dentist and asked for a permanent tooth. It will join the two buck-teeth that are fake and one a little further in that broke last year, giving me four false teeth and about four more with root canals. On the plus side, I do have all my wisdom teeth!

You might wonder how, thirty years later, I can still blame the accident for my dental problems. Well, it's easier than blaming my hygiene regime, which, honestly, probably does deserve some of the blame. Anyway, through elementary and high school, as I grew, my teeth were worked on and I learned to fear dentists. Or a dentist. Looking back, his work was pretty good and a young boy is probably not the best patient for deep drilling and electric shocks. To this day, though, I don't know why all those shocks were needed.

What electric shocks? Well, when going to work on a tooth, the dentist needs to know if the nerve is alive; calling for one treatment, or dead; calling for a more invasive treatment. How can you learn if the nerve is dead? By using a massive electric shock.

Massive? Well, when you apply the current more-or-less directly to the nerve, any amount feels massive. I remember one day I left the dental office with the work unfinished because I refused to let him test the nerves any more. That was probably the most pain I had ever experienced and I just couldn't open my mouth to let him shock another tooth (or the same one, how could I tell?) for the twentieth time (well, maybe for the fifth time, but it seemed an excessive number of times).

While at university, I had a bike accident and rebroke the caps covering my buckteeth (the upper front two).

From all the trauma my teeth had suffered, nearby teeth began to die and need root canals and eventually, my lower center tooth seemed fine but the gum pulled away until the tooth was basically floating. This is the one that I had pulled and a 'temporary' plate put in. Once the neighboring teeth had 'calmed down' (the dentist's words), I could get a permanent solution. Have I used too many brackets and quotation marks here?

Which brings us to last Thursday when I visited a Yangyang dentist who had done good work on another tooth. After thinking about the problem, he went into his office and apparently did some studying because he came back with several written phrases mostly explaining what he was going to do that day.

As the broken tooth was so small, he couldn't simply drive a pin in and mount a tooth; he needed to grind down the neighboring teeth and make a bridge. The other phrases described what I should do while he worked.

He gave me some, or a lot of, freezing and told me to raise my left hand if I felt pain. This should be a painless operation. I liked the sound of that.

That was too good to be true. When he was about half way through, I lifted my hand and he gave me some more freezing. He also went into his office and came back with a new phrase; "with one ampoule of anesthesia, some pain exists". With that understanding, he went back to work.

The pain never became unbearable but what was nearly unbearable was the fear of what to do if the pain did spike. And, how much more was there to be done? How much longer would he be grinding, grinding away at my teeth?

Anyway, he was eventually done and temporary caps put on my teeth. On the tenth, I get my new, and hopefully permanent teeth.

One last humiliation at the clinic; when the dentist compared my teeth to the color chart to best match the surrounding teeth he had to go a fair ways off-white.

I have to relearn how to talk. The caps, and the permanent teeth take up less space than the plate did so now I am lisping my 's's a little I also have to relearn not to reach inside my mouth when I brush my teeth - there is nothing to be removed and brushed separately now.

For what it's worth, my dentist seems to be doing a good job. If you are in Yangyang and need dental work, you should visit 장상우 치과. I am happy to give directions. I warn you that the is one of the few dentists who doesn't speak English.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Speaking of snow...

The Herald had an article three months ago which I planned to comment on and only now found in my files. Luckily, the article is about an event that starts this Sunday, so if I hadn't told you about my absentmindedness, you would think I was just waiting for the news to be properly topical. I will quote and paraphrase as much as I feel necessary because the Herald requires a paid membership to view it's archives.

More than 100 teenage students from 30 countries will gather in the nation’s mountainous Gangwon Province early next year to participate in a winter sports experience program, officials of the provincial government said yesterday.

The 13-day event “Dream Program” will provide young athletes, mostly from tropical countries, with a rare chance to enjoy skiing and skating and experience the wonders of Korea’s snow season, officials said.

Now, Korea does have locations with sufficient snow for a wonderful experience, however those locations seem to lack snow removal equipment or have such equipment only for the roads. It's been two days and I am already sick of sliding or splashing on glassy or slushy sidewalks.

The program is part of Pyeongchang's (and Gangwon's and Korea's) plan to improve their chance for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The program will run from Feb 5th to the 17th and there will be courses on figure staking, short track speed skating, skiing and more. Korean cultural tours and programs are also included.

Man, to simply learn to skate in two weeks will be a challenge, much less to speed figure skate. It looks like a busy two weeks for the students.

Looking at the list of countries the students will come from, I see a few surprises. Ukrainians need to visit another country to see snow? There are a few South American countries (Peru and Argintina, in particular) that would seem to have enough snow of their own, although perhaps not in February.

I see that I have been a little negative in my comments. To be honest, if the location has the snow and the cold, the experience sounds great.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Snow and Snow Festivals

I walked to the bus-stop today through two inches of slush in pre-dawn darkness, grimly determined not to slip and fall and be soaked from head to foot while struggling to swallow around my aching throat.

I was in a bad mood, somewhat inspired by the weather.

Here is a picture taken at the bus-stop on Tuesday.

But while riding the bus to work, I saw this view; pleasant and sunny and also a fitting rebuttal to my earlier post about the ugliness of the downed trees on Naksan. This is Naksan but the pictures I took from the bus trying to get the statue dominating the peak all have hydro-poles covering the statue (Do only Canadians say 'hydro-pole'? 'Electric pole' sounds funny to me.)

As a Canadian, I know that snow can be fun and Sokcho is trying to say the same thing as the Sokcho Sorak Snow Festival starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday (Feb 2-5). A mere two days ago, I figured it would be a miserable snow fest with no snow but we now have enough to give the mountains some frosting although there isn't much more.

I could not find any info on this year's festival. Google and Yahoo searches both listed the date as Jan 27-30 and I think that was las year. Gangwon tourist info (phone: 1330) might have current information but the events from last year were:

A. Build a snowman
B. Capture a wild animal.
C. Snow sledge
D. Fishing on the frozen Yeongrang-ho Lake
E. Survival Game
F. Snow sledge as in olden time
G. Experience the traditions of Korea
H. Ice sculpture
I. Climbing ice-covered cliffs
J. Walk in snow & hiking competition
K. Mingle and enjoy Korea
L. Food & shopping

Elsewhere the 'capture a wild animal' event is described as rabbit hunting. Having caught both salmon and squid with my hands (game bought in by truck and released in a netted area in a river and at a beach respectively), I am curious about the rabbit hunting. Curious and a little concerned; Catching fish in a barrel is one thing but cute, lovable mammals? Is there a cruelty to animals issue here?

Anyway, I will visit Sorak Park on Friday, if the weather is kind and report further then.

Outdated information can be found here and here.

For festivals in general, the Times had an article listing some of Korea's major fests for 2006. Find it here.