Friday, June 30, 2006

Photos from home (1)

I'll post more later but I'm worried that people will forget about me if I don't post here frequently enough.

I wrote earlier about the flies and mosquitoes here in their millions. In fact, my wifes-cousin's-daughter, who is traveling with us, stratched a mosquito bite on the sole of her foot and it became infected, requiring a trip to a walk-in clinic. I guess that gives her a chance to learn about Canada's health care system - good enough for residents but painfully slow for everyone.

There was a bloom of damselflies when I arrived and soon millions of them died and the wind pushed them into shore. Here they are, as deep as two inches and in a band about two feet thick (that's 5 cm and 60 cm for civilized folk) across our beach and much of the western shoreline.

Little GeorgianBayAlex likes the little pool we have in the backyard but doesn't really care for the lake. it's still a little cold.

Here's the best wife in the world, GeorgianBayYoungnam!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

things I had forgotten about home

The last summer I was home was 2003, I think. Here are a few things that have surprised me or caught my attention.

The wonderfully clear horizons. Recently, I posted a picture of Ulsan Bowi, a cliff face seen from Sokcho. The mountain is clear and details are apparent. During the previous three months, the mountains were visible but obscured by a veil of haze.

Here, there is no haze and distance objects are clear. It's not a big deal, I guess, but the everyday sightlines here are matched only after the occassional overnight rain in Korea.

Bugs are everywhere. mosquitoes cut short a hike I had started this morning. I would have pushed on, but we were worried about our baby son and so turned back. Damselflies are practically coating some walls and exterior surfaces and the water has many insect corpses floating on it.

There's more, but it is a reasonable time to sleep so I will try. This afternooon, I slept for four hours and could have slept longer but for Alex waking me.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bound for Canada

In a few hours I will leave Sokcho for a vacation with my family.

I'm looking forward to being in Canada but not really excited about getting there. KwandongAlex turns one year old today - he's walking and that's great, but I still can't explain to him why we need to stay in one seat for four hours on the first bus, an hour on the second bus and 13 hours on the plane.

Expect to find posts comparing Canadian culture with Korean, particularly about tourist culture as I live in tourist areas in Korea and my mother also does in Canada. I will credit these posts to "GeorgianBayBrian". I will also follow some Korean news through the online papers and may have comments on events here as well.

Have a great summer!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Falcon Chicks

In the previous post, I wrote about a falcon's nest in a neighboring apartment verandah. Today, I nervously went to the apartment and knocked on the door. The resident, a cheerful ajummah, welcomed me as soon as the word, "Seh" (bird) left my mouth. She guided me to the verandah and told me about the birds as I watched them and took pictures.

Don't worry the pictures below are much clearer and less obscured - I just put this one in as a teaser.
She said the birds were "hwang JoRongHe" and I am uncertain how to write that in Korean and find the english name. I may have the name wrong - I am sure of the first three syllables but I may be off with the 'he'. Babelfish tells me I just typed "hwang bird cage" and I hope that is not what the lady told me. There were six chicks and three flew off. I thought there were only two on the verandah...

...but then I looked around the planters and found a third (the left hand bird in both pictures is the same bird). The one on the verandah deck looks to be the youngest.

I was surprised to hear about six (or possible five- the smallest chick may not be in a good way) healthy offspring. Falcons, and most birds, typically have clutches perhaps as large as six but with the expectation that many will die, leaving one or two to reach adulthood.

From CBC's Quirks and Quarks (click the link to hear an interview on the subject):
Parents often produce too many young to raise and, as a result, the natural world is rife with infanticide. Mothers will ignore some offspring and prefer others.

On the other hand, if the stress of close human activity is not too much, a verandah is a great place to be. The birds are safe from predators and from falling off the 'cliff'. Also, the ajummah supplies some food to the chicks.

Human activity nearby is a serious problem for many birds so I probably will not return to the apartment to take more photos. I may upload a short video but my computer is reaching the end of it's useful lifespan and I am concerned about downloading the Videoegg software here. Perhaps I will do that on my office computer.

I don't know why the falcons chose that apartment to make a nest. Well, I do know that it is one of the few without an outer layer of glass doors so it is easily accessable but I don't know if the woman somehow encouraged the birds or what. As I wrote earlier, the chicks can be darn loud and not everyone would be pleased to have them so close.

Friday, June 16, 2006


There is a falcon's nest in a neighboring apartment building's verandah. The young cry out loudly enough for me to hear them in my apartment so they must be really annoying for the residents of that apartment. Here are two terrible shots of a parent.

Perhaps I didn't need to circle the bird.

I have visited the apartment and knocked on the door but no one was inside. The young seem to be active and large and I am going away for the weekend; I am not sure if they will still be there on Monday. If I see them then, expect updates and (possibly better) photos.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A beautiful day -finally

Today, the mountains were so close and clear, they seemed to loom over the city. The sun was out and my classes finished yesterday. It was a great day in Sokcho!

In the afternoon I got some swimming in. The water was cold at first but I acclimated and tried to bodysurf. The waves were coming to shore at an angle and the surfing was almost impossible. The waves bouncing off shore met the incoming ones at nearly right angles and in the chaos of moving water, I was tossed around like a 2oo pound toothpick. This evening, I had no need for salt in my food.

I guess there's no special message in this post; I hope everyone had a good day, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Forums (mostly focusing on Korea)

This post can be reached (or has been reached) by the 'Forums' link on my sidebar. For information about this post, read below the links. I expect the links to be the reason people read this post so they are on top. I will comment on the links (and erase this sentence) at some future date.

Life in Korea


Longly planet Thorntree Korea -northeast Asia forum

Dave's ESL



EFLgeek forums

EFLgeek wiki

English spectrum (just kidding - this is too hot for me)

Dave's ESL

The other day I recieved an email from a forum site asking me to link to it. I checked out the site and although I am uninterested in the US military in Korea (uninterested in their daily activities and recreation - damn happy they're here) it is a very slick and professional site with content for non-military folk.

Still, I've never asked to be linked to and it feels strange, like fishing for compliments, to ask for linkage. Wait, maybe I asked Melvin ("Pack the el Camino" on my blogroll) to link to me. He gave me a strange look -like I'd crossed an ettiquette line and that's what I feel here.

One of the reasons I began reading blogs was to learn about the Korea that is not covered in the Herald or the Times. That's a large subject area, by the way. That's part of the reason I began blogging myself; I think I have something to offer to others. For this reason, I feel listing local forums to be a worthy part of this site.

I have thought about increasing the number of links on the sidebar but I don't want a blogroll longer than my arm. As a consequence, on the sidebar should be a link titled simply, "forums" that will bring you to this post. This post will grow and change and I will try to comment on the forums themselves rather than simply listing them

Monday, June 12, 2006

My New Diploma

I'm so proud to be recognised by the Economist. I'm not sure what I did to merit such praise but I'm a sucker for flattery.

I'm so proud that I have no plans to ever take it out of the wrapping. I've put it on the wall of my office -I always wanted a "brag wall" full of commendations and accreditations and now it is started.
I wanted a goofy pose here and it is definitely goofy but not in the cool way the Hominid manages in his self-portraits. Does he spend a lot of time in front of the mirror practicing his facial expressions?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Congrats to the Korean Goldfish!

Melissa and Dong-jin (? -I mean to say Melissa and her husband - I'm not sure that this is his name - but I am sure he is the father!) just became parents.

They currently live in the wonderful town I met my wife in, Masan.

I admire Melissa for the vaguely Shakespearian description of her "Most perfectest baby".

Congrats and best wishes for the family!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A new one for me

Students have tried to sleep in class but never during an exam, before.
Sleep in class, get posted on the web.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Kwandong, don't go!

2006 is the last year the Yangyang campus of Kwandong University will offer classes. This is a transition year, with many classes already being held at the much-larger Gangneung campus. For me, personally, the closing of the Yangyang campus is annoying; we moved to Sokcho to be closer to my wife's workplace and that is even further from the Gangneung campus.

For the people of Yangyang, the economic effects are more significant. The loss of students and faculty is one thing but also the housing market bucket is about to get a hole in the bottom.
Below is a banner (click to enlarge) from Yangyang District office, asking the university to stay. Aside from exclamation points, I don't know if the district is offering anything in return.
I am not a good longterm planner myself but I have to shake my head when I recall that although the Gangneung campus is more than fifty years old, the Yangyang campus is only six or seven years old. Also, the foreign staff are housed in new apartments built by Myoungji Construction (Myoungji also funded the university) five years ago. Myoungji may now have trouble filling it's own apartments.

Well, I prefer the Gangneung campus myself and I hope the move will help the engineering students (Yangyang is the engineering campus) stop feeling like second class members of the university.

Yes, the closing of the campus is a big deal - yet I didn't hear or see anything about it in the last election. Did nobody care one week ago?

Oh, the last I heard, the campus may be converted to a 'silvertown' - silver as in 'hair'. It may become a home for senior citizens.

While I sympathize with Yangyang district, their choice of placement for the sign makes me think there is good reason to get out of town.

For those who don't see my objection (and they would comprise all the banner making and hanging organizations in Korea), it completely blocks the crosswalk. It's between the sidewalk and the crosswalk. Perhaps this best displays the value some Koreans hold for crosswalks.

Painting a watermelon is expensive!

I saw these watermelons at the local E-mart. The first says something like, "Keep the dream alive" and both refer to 2006 World Cup. Perhaps selling these watermelon is how the players get paid. If you click to enlarge, you will see that the price tag is for 59,800won or about $60.00!