Friday, March 31, 2006

Terrus strongylocentratus found in Korea

Terrestrial urchins have long been known in Russia but these are some of the first found in Korea.

The AAAS (American Association for Advancement of Science) Science Journal article can be found here (registration required for the full article).

I have been (un)lucky enough to sight some myself. Just as with coral reef infestations, first you find one:

Then you find blooms of them.

I do not know if these are actually poisonous as many of their aquatic relatives are. In fact I could find little information about them. Local farmers and orchard owners obviously should use caution. Foxes are natural predators of urchins and possibly raccoon-dogs are as well. Perhaps this threat might be a boon for other native wildlife if they are re-introduced to combat the menace.

At Enchanted Learning, I found this diagram of sea urchins.

The pot calling the ...shiny, white thing, black.

Man, I have to learn how to fisk. I have just finished reading (and even re-reading a few times) a terrible article that seems to display poor research, ridiculously loaded terminology and especially stunning hypocrisy, and I don't think I can do justice to it.

The article is called, "Chindo Dogs on American Death Row". The background info, I can accept: A Korean breed of dog, called the Chindo after the island it originated from, is so well-loved that it is an official national treasure. Some Koreans in the US and US servicemen (service-people?) brought the dog to the US. Now there are more Chindo than homes for them and some are ending up in shelters. Why do they end up in shelters? Because, like many purebreeds (the Dalmatian is a good example), the Chindo does many things well but is not really a cuddly house pet for city-folk.

Part of the problem or outrage felt by Koreans may be because the dogs are legally protected in Korea.

Okay, that's the background.

Let's see the third paragraph:
But, each year in the U.S. hundreds are either turned out, literally dumped, or given up by their owners, inviting certain death in ``kill'' shelters where animals are quickly euthanized if new homes cannot be found.
We will see the phrase "kill shelters" many more times. You may wonder about 'kill shelters' and the certain death they house. Later in the article, we get a definition of sorts:
...many of the Los Angeles County shelters are ``high-kill'' shelters in which Jorgensen said dogs ``generally have three days to be adopted before they are euthanized.'' Many do not leave alive.

I have just learned that at the Toronto Humane Society, "No animal is ever euthanized due to lack of space or because the animal has simply “been here too long.”, which surprised me because I thought three days was the typical garranteed stay for animals and as space was needed, longer-term guests might be euthanized. Still, that is the Humane Society. There are other shelters and they are trying to help the situation. I don't particularly blame the doctor for the cancer that killed my father. To blame the shelters is crazy.

There is one specific case described and it involved a US serviceman:
...the eight-year-old chindo was adopted in Korea by a U.S. serviceman who later raised it in the U.S. It grew up on military bases, including Fort Bragg, just west of Fayetteville, N.C., before being flown to Afghanistan when its owner was posted there. However, the dog ``was not welcome there so he was flown home to Pennsylvania and has been taken care of by the owner's parents.'' The dog has since been surrendered to the shelter because the soldier's parents are no longer able to care for it. The soldier is said to be on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Firstly, all the best to the serviceman involved. Come home safe.

This is where my claim of hypocrisy comes in. Koreans may wonder why the parents couldn't care for the dog. They may think, "Was it too hard to carry food and water to the one meter by one meter by one meter cage the dog is just-naturally kept in?" QUALITY OF LIFE, PEOPLE! Sorry to shout but I get sick seeing almost every dog on a one meter line or in a small cage for their entire life.

The article comes with a picture that seems to prove me wrong but really shows the only two dogs in all of Korea that have some freedom.

Chindo on Chin Island ..................Chindo in it's natural habitat
(from the article)..............................(link)
While I type this, the neighbor's tiny dog yaps constantly because it's owners are away. The dog does this all day, everyday. Now, it isn't a wonderful Chindo but it is a living thing. I feel all dogs should be walked by their owners for exercise daily and I don't see many Koreans doing that.

The chindo is described as a hunting dog in the article:
``They don't understand the traits of the chindos, and because of it, they are sometimes attacked. So, as the reputation of these dogs grows around the world, it is necessary to properly inform people of the traits of the chindos. If owners keep in mind certain things the dogs would be their best pet.'' Park Byung-chul believes, ``Americans view chindo dogs as animals that bite easily and then because of it, they tend to not like [them]. Koreans, on the other hand, most value [their] loyalty. Obviously, the dogs have negative traits like hunting instincts. However, if chindo dogs are raised alone and not in a group as they should be, there would be no problems in raising [them].''

Where to start? First most Koreans dogs seem to be raised alone - again, in their own private cages.
We read that Chindo sometimes attack their owners but later, "...the overall impression they give is one of gentleness..."

As I said at the beginning, I don't know if I did the article justice. I guess I am most displeased by the 'Those horrible Americans" theme when little blame for the admittedly bad situation of having the unwanted dogs put down is given to the Koreans who own most of the dogs.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Driving from Seorak to Odae

GI Korea has started describing great drives in Korea. Naturally, one of his first posts is about my neighborhood.

He describes a back road from Southern Seoraksan National Park to Odaesan National Park. If I ever get into fantastic bike-shape, I may try it but the road has some serious changes in elevation.

I had to laugh at one phrase, "...the city of Yangyang..." I lived in Yangyang for two years and am nearby now. Where is the city?

Visit GI if you want to know more.

He's just jealous of us!

...Although, if we change the word, 'CANADIANS' (in the third paragraph) to 'ESL teachers', he might have the majority opinion these days. The Seoul Hero is the only one defending ESL that I can find.

I can't improve on the Herald's article. Here it is in full (including the email address the Herald reporter included - I was uncertain of the etiquette, but the reporter must know what people are likely to do with the address and they have a larger circulation than Gangwon Notes).

Canadians banned from group for cultural understanding

An organization that promotes cultural understanding and brings together people from different nations is open for anyone in Seoul to join. Anyone that is, except Canadians.

In a classified ad in KScene, a free biweekly magazine, World Class describes itself as a group that "brings together all nationalities to discuss world issues and break down cultural barriers and prejudices."

Breaking down the prejudices, however, doesn't extend to all countries. "No Canadians please," the ad continues.When contacted by a Korea Herald reporter by e-mail, the organizer of the group, Bernard Carleton, elaborated further, "The thing is, CANADIANS ARE SCUM! They are self-loving, welfare supporting, over taxing, work ethic hating scum!!! They are not welcome in our group."

Anyone who would like to join the meetings with Carleton in order to break down prejudices, dissolve stereotypes and have an enhanced understanding of people from other countries can contact him at

I found the ad itself at KScene.

World Class is an organization in Seoul that brings together all nationalities to discuss world issues and break down cultural barriers and prejudices. We meet once a week. No Canadians please. Contact

UPDATE: After writing and publishing this post, I began to wonder about the timing and believability of this article. If this is an April Fools joke - ya got me - but only for an hour or so.

UPDATE 2: If was an April Fool's joke as I sort of guessed. Cathartidae broke the story.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sleep in Class, join the gallery

One of two sleepers in a Monday class. Sorry about the bad focus.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Homework, the easy way

Recently, two students emailed me their homework - and very strange homework it was, too. Having taught university students for a few years now, I immeditaely recognized what I was looking at. The assignment was to list ten goals they had for the next ten years.
Here are the two emails (lightly editted to hide identity and with my favorite entries highlighted)

How are you the Brian Dean teacher....
my name's **** ****
my number : 200******

I must want doing after 10 years
1) With the pretty wife it will get married
2 )It wants doing the engineering works day which I am majoring now
3) It joins to the early rising football sliced raw fish and morning will exercise
4) Health to come and go and manage inside oneself
5) The hook will come and go with a hobby
6) One it wants learning the musical instrument. Piano??
7) Will acquire the engineering works technical company qualification certificate
8) Will change a travel in Italy. And Canada??
9) Will associate the Canada friend. Brian Dean
10) ) And now it is in that person and travel. From Italy
^^ have a! good time

Monday 5.6 periods class repot
Hagosips are 10 after 10 years

1)I want to get married

2)I want to have child
3)I want to have robust rectum
4)I want to earn much money
5)I want to go to travel
6)I want to have good wife
7)I should like to be easy life
8)Is dutiful to parent
9)There should like to be much good fatality
10)Day should like to be full

Major:With engineering works environmentology
Name:Lee ***-****

Let's see. The first assignment is in the third person-inanimate. " will get married." This is the first clue to what the student has done- use an internet translator like Babelfish.

This is because the subject is not always requried in Korean. The example I use in class is "사과를 좋아한다" - "like apples" or in proper English, 'I like apples." The internet translator usually chooses the simpliest pronoun -'It".

The second clue is found in the third entry " sliced raw fish". Masuro helped me here. The Korean would have been "죽구회" or Chuk-gu hoe. 'Chuk-gu' is football or soccer. the tricky word is 'hoe'. You don't use in the garden for describe inner-city women with this hoe. I usually find the word 'hoe' on restaurants - it means raw fish - usually sliced. With a sport, though, it means 'league' or 'club'. The student wants to join a soccer league to get some exercise.

The situation must be the same for 'hook come and go with a hobby' entry and the two highlighted entries in the second student's homework ('Robust rectum' and 'many good fatality') although I am unable to guess the root words and what the translation error is.

This being Korea, with it's citizen's fascination with asses, farts and more in the vein, maybe the student does want a robust rectum - that may be protection from 'ddong chim'- a two-finger stab between the cheeks.

Oh, 'hagosips' translates as 'wants'. I don't know why the translator simply changed the alphabet.

I feel sympathy for the students and they did hand their homework in way early. I like that enthusiasm so I gave them the opportunity to hand in the assignment again with no penalty.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm thinking of selling my bike...

...Because I had the best damn ride today and have trouble thinking there will be a better one. "Leave on a high note", as George Kostanza would say. Okay, the bike isn't for sale; I'm really expecting a fantastic spring of riding.

My course was from Sokcho, go south on the highway past Sunrise Park and then inland to Jinjeon Temple and nearby reservior. From there, I returned inland. having an easy tim eof it thanks to a new tunnel.

At Sunrise park, I saw a 'Namja Haenyo". Haenyo are Jeju women who dive to collect seafood all year long. I don't think the local term is haenyo but the man laughed and said yes when I asked.

Nearby were two small boats. I am not an expert but I am knowledgable about how to paddle most canoes, row most boats and racing shell and to kayak. I want to learn how to paddle with one arm and one leg as the Burmese do (I know the country is now Myanmar - what are people from Myanmar called?) and to scull as the Koreans do.
I turned inland off the highway at the Jinjeonsa sign but the road is pretty difficult to follow. I passed many pigfarms and got a little lost. I asked some farmers where to go and they said to go straight - on a road that twisted like a snake - but I understood to stay on that road and it worked.

Jinjeonsa was an important temple years ago but was destroyed. It was very interesting then to see archeology grid and leftovers - broken carved stones and stone foundations for the buildings. The new Jinjeon is only a year old and I think it looks great now, before they eventually add the paint.
I had trouble posting seven pictures in one post so you can learn about the end of trip below.

Jinjeon Temple trip

The temple overlooks a reservior. Its a beautiful setting when the reservior is full. Skindleshanks told me Sokcho is suffering from a water shortage; seeing this, I believe him. There's not much water in the mountains now.

I got a little lost on the way home. I was determined to take an inland route but had to ask around to find how to get over one of the ranges. I went a great distance out of my way but it was worth it. I found a shaman's tree. There is a bottle of makoli to the right of the tree that might be an offering.
These bottles and the rest are nothing but garbage, however.
I finally found my way to the Mu-u-jae Tunnel. Last year I struggled up and over the hill and nearly threwup. Although I rode 40km today, I consider myself a lazy cyclist. I am very happy there is now an alternative. The tunnel is well-lit and not long; I did not feel nervous at all rolling through it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Lego

Being a dad has brought to mind my old toys. Of course I don't remember any toys specifically from my first year, but I do remember many toys. I am excited waiting for KwandongAlex to be old enough to play with the toys I remember.

Let's see. There were Tonka Trucks, a variety of stuffed animals, a Ready Ranger Pack (worth a post of it's own) and Lego, wonderful Lego.
Modern Lego, though, looks like a better toy for me now, than for a child. Check out Mindstorm.

Lego has made a robot brain, sensor array and motors that can be built around with a variety of blocks, wheels and all the rest that Lego makes.

Do I need to say that I really want one? Of course, modern Lego is much more than I had thirty years ago. Apparently there is more variety than square and rectangular blocks. Well, I can't wait.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Visibility is crappy - is the 'hwang-seo' back?

UPdate 2: I mis-spelled yellow dust in Korean - it should be hwang-sa. Sounds like a temple. Thanks Kevin.

UPdate: Yes, the yellow dust (in Korean, Hwang-seo) is back. Arirang noon news described the situation and forecast the air being clearer tomorrow (Sunday). Sunday will also be much cooler as the wind that brings the dust is from the north. People at risk (the young, the elderly and those with breathing problems) should stay inside or wear a mask today.

Yellow dust is dust from China's deserts that is carried great distances. Some of the dust is composed of pollutants and some is radioactive, but inhaling even relatively benign dust makes breathing difficult. A few years ago in Seoul, I could barely see 100 metres. Visibility today is better but we don't have the open sky Coastal Gangwondo is known for.

I found in the Chosun information about the yellow dust in Seoul on Friday and checked some weather sites but found no information on yellow dust here. Is there a good dust forecasting site? Should I keep my little guy in and place a towel over his mouth just to be sure?

Skindleshanks, take care of your little guy as I know he is having breathing difficulties these days. All the best.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Does the Nomad fish like this?

I doubt it. The Nomad, I think, fishes legally and in a sustainable fashion.

This really pisses me off. People snagging fish with giant treble hooks. I am not pissed off to see the guy (although women do fish in Korea) got snagged himself on the light-standard.
To make things worse, anyone fishing here is as likely to catch a duck as a fish. Any fish caught in this polluted lake would be pretty frightening to eat.
I saw a lot of people snagging salmon in spawning season in Yangyang's Namdae River. The water there was just as shallow as CheungCho Lake but much clearer so I could see that the snaggers would bring one in for every three or more they would rip open but lose.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

They came, they played, they lost, they went home.

UPdate: I don't know what is wrong with the quote below- some of it apparently is the same color as the background (no, I didn't do that). If you really want to read it- highlight it.

Apparently, the games went off without a hitch. I mentioned that the North Korean hockey team would come to Gangwondo and I didn't want to leave people hanging. I'm still upset that there was no Gangneung game and I didn't go to Chuncheon so my only comment is the newspaper article makes the game sound like a real lovefest.

All in all, it was more like a festival than a competitive match. Throughout the entire three periods at the Euiam Ice Rink, a band played music from the two Koreas and, after the match ended, all the spectators stood with arms around each other's shoulders and sang along with the band. It was North Korea's first performance outside its territory since the 1990 Winter Asian Games in Sapporo, Japan.

The previous day, both teams, comprising college and club all-stars, formed two joint teams, Uri and Hana, meaning "our" and "one" for a mixed match.

Friday, March 03, 2006

More on Representative Choi

Earlier, I posted about South-eastern Gangwon's federal representative being in trouble for grabbing a reporter's breasts. The case is ongoing and a little strange. I have learned that I am not really don't care about political issues but this one, at least peripherally, impacts Gangwondo so I feel I can discuss it.

From the article:
Rep. Choi Yeon-hee, who is being criticized for sexually harassing a female reporter during a drinking bout last Friday, has not resigned from his parliamentary seat despite strong demands for him to step down. ... But the prosecutor-turned-lawmaker elected in Kangwon Province has not yet expressed his intention to resign. Rep. Huh Tae-yeol, who was appointed the GNP's new secretary general in replacement of Choi, told a radio interview that Choi seemed to be in a ``state of panic"and was mulling over his next steps.

This actually seems fair. If it becomes a legal matter, that's a different story, but at present, it is only the story of a drunk. It seems to be an important situation for Choi but it really is not a national issue.

But some lawmakers added fuel to the growing public anger by seemingly defending Choi. Rep. Hahn Kwang-won of the ruling Uri Party faced strong backlash when he wrote on his website that the GNP lawmaker is being denounced unilaterally without being given a chance to explain himself. ``It is natural that everyone who sees a beautiful flower is tempted to enjoy its smell and touch it", he wrote.

Gee, maybe it should be a national issue if this is the style of defense. There are pretty girls everywhere; well, perhaps someone should find Hahn's wife or daughters, if any, and enjoy their smell and feel. According to his own turn-of-phrase, he may even be able to think of such attention to his wife as a compliment, "They think my wife is a beautiful flower".
I may need to backtrack here and eat my words a little: of course the above is meant to be taken as sarcasm; stay away from Hahn's family. He may even simply be an unfortunate man in the difficult position of having to defecolleaguelegue as best he can. Still, a wiser choice of words is surely indicated. My last word on this subject: is it possible that we are seeing a bad translation?

... Rep. Chung Eui-hwa, a GNP lawmaker, also faced criticism when he argued that Choi is a ``scapegoat of uncivil drinking culture", and it is not appropriate to ``kill a great person with a kangaroo court."

I agree; this is not a national problem. Voters can show their opinion in the next election and a real court can take steps if the reporter chooses that option.

My only fear or concern is that the reporter might be gagged by her own newspaper leadership to keep lines open with politicians. If the politicians want to keep this a small, personal sort of matter, they should abstain from any meddling with the newspaper's executive.

Basically, I am done with Mr Choi. So is the article. It goes on to discuss another government official; the unluckiest golfer in the world.

Meanwhile, the GNP tried to deflect the public's anger by pointing at another scandal involving a top government official of the ruling camp. Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan is facing familiar criticism, as opposition parties launched vituperative comments after a report that Lee played a round of golf Wednesday, which marked the 87th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule. ... In April last year, Lee faced trouble as it was known that he played golf on Arbor Day, when a big fire was spreading in Kangwon Province. In July, Lee played golf on Cheju Island when torrential rain was causing damage in the nation's southern region.

It might bother me if Mr. Lee learned about the Naksan fire and then chose to play golf; but not much. I have personal knowledge of that fire (link) and there were enough people there to handle it before it went out of control - they were simply badly organized. Is the prime-minister a fireman as well?
And how dare the PM play golf when it was raining in another part of the country?

Maybe, as PM, he shouldn't have played golf during an important national holiday, but that's what holidays are for.

BTW, what does a PM do in a country without royalty? The US doesn't have a PM, does it? We Canadians do, but we also have a queen.

Finally, a little background for my mother (and maybe a few others); golf is seen as a rich man's sport and representatives shouldn't legally have enough money for the sport. If they play golf, the general perception is that they must be making secret deals or accepting bribes as well.