Monday, December 31, 2007
Today, I managed my fifty-eighth climb of the mountain behind the apartment, six more than I had set as a goal. The goal was of value in pushing me to hike in the morning a few times a week before work. Still, as readers may know, I set the goal of averaging one hike a week only in August, with eight prior hikes to my credit. In other words, I was hiking more than two times a week just to catch up.
With that in mind, I guess I should look at 104 hikes for 2008 or even more. I don't think I can focus on that long term a goal so I intend instead to look at Jan and Feb, my time off from regular classes, and set other goals later.
So, I want to jog, hike or swim every day -I recently bought a set of tickets for the Seorak Pines Spa, which has a nice pool.
I had planned to aim for the Sokcho Triathlon in mid June but I will be away for that event. Instead, I want to run in the March 1st race around Youngnang Lake. In 2007, I managed 35 minutes for seven km. That isn't fast but it is much faster than I had expected.
I want to do a serious bike trip this spring. Perhaps I could ride to Busan along the coast then return inland.
In other areas, I want to put some real effort toward learning Korean. I am currently reading one book a day from KwandongAlex's (age 30 months) collection. I can learn a few words on the first reading, practice pronunciation and in a later reading will concentrate more on the grammar.
We will go to Canada this summer, and I want the little guy comfortable in the water before we go. He enjoys being in my arms in the water but is unable to put his face in. I took him to the Seorak Pines pool but the air was too cold and we spent most of the time in a 'warm' (not hot) tub.
Regarding TESL, I want to make useful homework and review available online. Using Windows Movie Maker or Jumpcut online, I will try to have a pronunciation segment and substitution drill online for each class. That will depend on when my university decides to let us know what texts and classes we will have in the Spring 2008 semester.
I hope all my readers enjoy the end of this year and wish all the best for 2008.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I do not use recreational drugs. I am curently taking some pills after a visit to the dentist and I am entirely sure why the dentist prescribed them.
Anyway, Canadians, clean up (y)our act. I am embarrassed.
In this post, I engage in a bit of name-dropping. I name several Olympians whom I have met but only one would recognize my name. To the others, I was only one of a multitude. I offer their names only to describe what was public knowledge and claim no special insight into their choices or behavior.
In my youth, I was a competitive swimmer of barely national caliber. I managed to scrape past the standards and qualify for a few national championship swim-meets.
To be quite honest, Bak Tae-hwan is as far beyond me in swimming ability as I am to the average Korean.
Which suggests that I cannot comment on the most recent Bak Tae-hwan news from personal experience. Ah, that news being he has fired his coach and is in the market for a new one. The new coach would be his third.
It is the second time for Park to change his coach this year. In January, when Park decided to train with coach Park outside the
Still, even without experience at his level of swimming, I have seen world champions up close and I can certainly compare their coach/swimmer relationships with his.
I met and spoke briefly with Alex Baumann, at one time the world's best swimmer, a few times at swim meets and worshipped his ability. I also spoke to his coach, Dr. Tihanyi, as I was considering going to that university.
I raced him in the 200 Individual Medley at a meet in Laurentian University. I presume he raced the clock for no one came near him at that little meet. In fact, I paced him for the first fifty metres, mostly as a protest to my own coach for entering me in a race I disliked so much.*
And that is the key to my confusion over Mr. Bak’s revolving door regarding coaches. A coach is someone you need to have faith in. You can argue at times, but the coach is the expert. The Olympian I knew best (not all that well, but best), Dave Schemilt, once ranked fourth in the world for 1500 metres freestyle, followed his coach when the coach changed jobs and locations. Baumann’s loyalty to his coach, Dr Tihanyi was well known. I think Victor Davis followed his coach, Cliff Barry, when he changed jobs as well.
Perhaps there is a cultural element. I am not exactly comparing this situation to
I am thinking more of the famous stereotype of focus and concentration and fanaticism in Koreans. I think Mr. Bak thinks he can provide the motivation and focus internally and only needs an assistant for some technique tweaking.
Finally, there seems to be a strange dynamic regarding the sponsor, Speedo.
``Speedo and Park's parents have meddled in training Park along with the low salary,'' said the coach.
The meddling parents part is nothing new. All swim coaches (and I was one) need to be prepared for second-guessing parents. Again, I don't have international experience, but I have never heard of a sponsor being all that 'hands-on' in the actual training.
While I hope he does well, I fear that changing coaches so often will hurt him at the Olympics.
Oh, one Canadian example of a swimmer choosing coaches would be Mark Tewksberry. From Wikipedia: For some years he ranked as one of the top backstrokers in the world; never a strong below-the-water swimmer, he was unmatched on the surface, but, as the importance of below-the-water swimming increased, Tewksbury's ranking began to fall.
He eventually hired a synchronized swimming coach to train him in breath-holding techniques. That seems like a minor adjustment compared to Mr. Bak's though.
*My coach had a coherent plan and looking back I can see that if I had followed it more closely, I would have done better over all in my swimming career. I still have my problems with his choice of events for me but I respect and admire him for his efforts all the same.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Just kidding. Of course, this is Taean, where many are working to clean up the mess from an oil spill. If this pic were taken on Friday, my wife might be amongst those shown. On another day, it could be American soldiers (GI Korea, again), doing their unsung part to help.
As Rick (formerly of Ayankabroad blog) noted in a comment elsewhere on my blog, there is a lot of garbage in the bottom right of the photo. In that picture, I suggested that what looked like long construction blankets were part of the cleanup. In this picture, well, it sure looks like garbage.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
First, I need to define 'coffee shop' or 다방 (dabang). Maybe a dabang can be a simple coffee shop but a 'ticket dabang' (they do use the English word) is a place where you can sign out a girl from the shop to drink coffee with you. You have probably guessed that drinking coffee is only one of a variety of things the girl will do and the ticket dabangs are understood to be fronts for prostitution.
A couple running a ticket dabang went to a chat site for teens and posted a job listing. When two girls, 15 and 16 years of age (that would be Korean age, so probably 14 and 15, possibly younger) applied, they were kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
All this is terrible. The attitude of the police officer below is, well, vomit inducing.
A source at the police said, “they [the owners of the dabang] had been punished for a similar offense about four or five months before. We really need to do something about teen prostitution in these dabangs and the chatting sites that so many of the teens use.”
Gee, if only there were laws against prostitution or kidnapping or something.
I am indebted to Korea Beat for translating the article. Yeah, thanks a lot, guys, for ruining my day.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Ironically, one reason I am not helping clean up the oil spill on the west coast is that my wife is in the Coast Guard, an organization that is busy with the clean-up. She is not over there but to show support (or something, I can't quite figure it out), they are staying late in their offices, often until 10 pm. I have to be available to watch the little guy and so neither of us are doing anything particularly constructive about the oil spill.
The Korea Times has an article about volunteers who are helping. I wish them all the best.
The rest of this post is about the new E-2 regs. To be honest, I don't have much new to say; this is just a PSA for anyone who comes fresh to the blog and perhaps for my family to see what's going on. I offer some links at the bottom of the post.
These days, I am particularly happy that the woman of my dreams turned out to be Korean. Two days ago, the new visa regulations went into effect. These regs affect E-2 visa holders. Those married to a Korean have a different visa, the F-2. The logic appears to be that if my mother-in-law decided that I am a good enough person to marry her daughter, I must be a pretty good guy. In my case, of course, she was right.
E-2 visa holders, however, are likely to be drug-abusing, womanizing jerks with fake degrees and more care is needed to find the few who are actually clean and decent people. Well, that is the view of immigration officials (from the Korean Herald):
The new rule is the result of widespread uneasiness over the credibility of foreign English teachers; this came to a head in late October when Christopher Paul Neil, a Canadian English teacher who taught here for four years, was arrested in Thailand on child molestation charges. The recent spate of degree-forgery scandals involving high-profile Korean figures in various professions accelerated the calls to screen out unqualified teachers.
The point foreigners make is that Neil had no criminal record but did have a good degree that was actually in education. Under the new regs, he would have been welcomed into the country.
I am sure that some foreigners have used forged degrees. I am reminded of a friend who worked in Thailand. He was a straight arrow but his university doubted the qualifications of some of his co-workers and set up a second thesis defence for them. They were unable to properly defend their theses and were given the boot.
Still, these days degree forgery appears to be more of a Korean thing.
The new requirements do make sense. Proving that one's degree is genuine and that one does not have a criminal record are good things. The clearly spoken and explicit rationale are what makes this so annoying. One blogger looked at some numbers and found that foreigners are less likely to be criminals than Koreans.
There's one other things that makes it so annoying. No one is really clear on what the regulations are or how to implement them (again, from the Herald):
"I think it is a little short-sighted. Given all the work that will be required at bureaucratic levels, it would take months to get everybody to cooperate and to fulfill all the criteria in a timely manner. It could provoke a bureaucratic nightmare," said Cameron Wood, a professor at Chung-Ang University.
The ministry, however, said it launched an all-out effort at the very outset to publicize the implementation of these changes.
"On Nov. 19, we began distributing information on the changes through various organizations, including the Education Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, about 30 immigration offices across the nation, and the regional associations of private language schools. We also posted the guidelines on our website and other relevant government homepages," said a Justice Ministry official.
"On Dec. 10, we also invited consuls from embassies of the United States, Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to inform them of the new law. We also answered Canada's questions on E-2 visa rules in writing. We also trained our personnel who will take charge of the matter," he added.
On December 10, they spoke to consuls from various embassies about regulations that would take effect in five days. Yeah, that's good planning.
"I took several foreign instructors to the hospital affiliated with our school. Although it is one of the largest-scale hospitals in Seoul, hospital officials say they don't conduct such tests listed in the required medical report," a university official said.
In Korea, drug tests are usually conducted at police agencies; hospitals do not conduct such tests, since there has been no demand for them, hospital officials explained.
The ministry says they are aware of the problem.
"We contacted several hospitals to see if they conduct such tests. They said they don't without a sufficient demand for such tests. We found, after some research, that the Health Ministry-affiliated Seoul Medical Science Institute (www.scllab.co.kr) does the tests," said a ministry official.
"If you take the test at designated hospitals, they will ask the institute to analyze the test. This will take less than one week, and cost less than 10,000 won ($11). The result will be sent by mail. We have yet to obtain the list of hospitals that are linked to the institute. We will soon release them," he added.
Perhaps they publicized the changes but did not discuss them with their own infrastructure.
The EFL Geek has been covering this issue closely. He has so many posts on the subject that i suggest just checking his archives for December and November 2007.
The Metropolitician, in his usual biting way, describes how he feels.
I quoted the Korea Herald but they lock their archive after a week. The Big Hominid has the full text.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
UPDATE: I knew a man of the same name but likely this is not the same guy. I still wish him luck, though.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Yesterday, I was helping the little-guy with something and heard some wailing in the background. I didn't pay much attention to it because, well, the little guy can really wail on occasion, and he might be loudest when expressing happiness.
Eventually, it became clear that this was an upset sound from an adult woman. After a bit, I heard it more clearly and looked down into the parking lot to see a barefoot woman being chased by a man. I was still uncertain what was happening because they dodged around cars in a way that looked almost playful- except for the barefoot part.
Finally, the woman cowered behind the security guard who did a good job of settling things down. I returned to the apartment only to notice that while I'd left the door open, a visitor had let herself in.
"You've been fighting and screaming at your husband, or shacked-up boyfriend, or
whatever; you're probably not in good condition to care for a dog. How about giving her to me for a few hours?"
Friday, December 07, 2007
My little guy hates having his hair washed. I am not sure if it is the water in his eyes or ears that bothers him most, or perhaps he got a mouth or nose-full once or twice. It’s definitely clear that he hates it, though.
Yesterday, he was having a bath, more for play than any other reason. I was watching him, sitting on the closed toilet lid. We had the door shut to keep the warm moist air in and both were naked.
He started to splash water around and after he got me with a ladle-full, I sat closer to the tub. He poured water over my head and seemed to get the idea of washing my hair.
He poured water over my hair. It took him a long time because, well, he’s a baby and most ladles arrived over my head with very little water remaining. Still, he managed.
Then, he got some shampoo. Actually, he used the closest bottle, which was rinse. One hand kept my head in position so he simply pushed the spigot on the bottle and then scooped up the rinse from the side of the tub.
He was very careful about using washing my hair completely. Firstly, he used about a litre of rinse. After that, he massaged my hair and head for a surprisingly long time. I had to encourage him to go back to ladling water to remove the shampoo and he continued to massage my head as he poured the water.
It was a wonderful ten minutes or so-perhaps not that long, but I felt close to him right up until I had to wrestle him back into clothes. Then the wailing and confrontation with a totally alien consciousness returned.
Perhaps another time I will try to record a minute or so of his washing my hair. I warn you that at least one of us will be dressed, though.
In other baby news, a certain Gangneung blogger may have to turn in his el-camino for a more family-friendly vehicle as he is now a father. Congrats to Paktheelcamino!
The Golden Compass.
Second edit: More spelling errors - I am having trouble with firefox, so I am using Explorer right now. I really miss the automatic spell-checking.
I had a graphic from the movie but noticed I had mispelled a word in the title. Considering how I tease people -gently - about such things, thanks for not tormenting me on the subject.
Anyway, in correcting the title, I lost the graphic.
I still want to see the movie.
It turns out that the weapons were not merely missing but that soldiers had been assaulted (and one killed) and the weapons were stolen. I had been under the impression that a routine inventory at a Coast Guard arsenal had come up one short.
This is a country with no firearms (except a few shotguns that farmers use, it seems) so missing rifles (to say nothing of grenades) are a big deal.
I wouldn't have mentioned the news, considering it possibly confidential, but Korean news sources are reporting it and the Marmot has an English report.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The views are great during this cold weather.
While resting on the peak, I heard an occasional buzzing and thought it was someone's phone on vibrate. Turns out, it was the camera on this fire-watch station. All the kiosks are manned these days.
On my way home, I learned the road, under construction forever, is now finished. Getting to and from the mountain will now be a little more challenging.
In possibly-related news, there is a global helium shortage.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
At the top, in the wind, we wore our coats and I wrapped a beach towel around my son as he ate his pastrie before we began the descent.
The windows and verandah doors are open so a warm breeze is running through the apartment.
On top of all that, KwandongWife returns from a week overseas on business tonight (this may be a mixed blessing as I have to clean wildly before she does get here).
A wonderful weekend to all!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Upon noticing an incident where someone or some people (or some animals or even plants, I guess) are in danger, first keep yourself out of danger or at least understand the risks.
I taught the students the mnemonic, "No wire, no fire; No gas, no glass". These are things to look out for; I think the 'No glass' part is for completeness. Although I wouldn't want to kneel in broken glass, it's danger or terror value is much less that the others on the list.
Then, I brought the students, one at a time, into the next room where Lil' Paper-face was laying motionless (by a lucky coincidence, on a beach blanket). The first student reached out to see if he was sleeping or unconscious, disregarding the wire that (in the rules of first aid training, and almost as immutable as the rules of horror movies) naturally meant there was an electrical hazard.
The next student then had to rescue two victims. Well, I feel I could teach the steps of artificial respiration but had no intention of doing so; the important next step (after removing the wire and checking to see if they were sleeping) was to call 119 (911 in North America).
The second student performed the steps correctly so the two were saved, although poor Lil' Paper-face just fell to pieces after the class.
We have learned that interpreters should use direct speech and not say, "He said that he...."
Interpreters should say, "....Correction,....", rather than "...I'm sorry,...."
I spent a long time googling and found many sites for interpreting dreams, law, the bible, various computer languages and sign language, but no set of guidelines that human interpreters of spoken language generally follow (Some of the sign language stuff was useful, though). If any readers can offer advice or point me to a website, thanks a lot.
The Korea Times has a photo.
In previous years, the first snow fall was typically later in November with 2003 having the earliest fall: November 14 (probably the first year I recorded dates). My pictures of previous years can be found here.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I now get off the bus and scurry across the bus parking lot, keeping my eyes open for moving buses. I then squeeze around a fence and go through the Gangneung Information Centre to City Hall Street (I think - you know how Korea is for street names). I legally cross the street and illegally walk up the Southbound lane of Highway 7. Upon reaching the bridge crossing the NamDae River, I take a little set of steps (maybe the bridge is a sort of emergency shelter).
Next, I go to the river and cross on a line of rocks that make a simple good-weather bridge. Once on the south side of the river, I stick to roads to my university.
This route takes about 30 minutes, which is a little faster than walking past the city hall and Doosan Soju, but mostly it is much more fun.
My little guy was sick at the beginning of the week and my sleep was intermittent. In taking my new under-the-bridge route, I found this guy.
This picture is from Tuesday. On Monday morning, the blankets were hanging evenly and smoothly around the styrofoam pad. He looked as if he went to sleep hours ago and hadn't moved at all in a comfortable, untroubled sleep. Tuesday, he still looked comfortable.
I know the guy must have problems aplenty to be sleeping under a bridge. And to be sleeping after 10am, he may well have been stumbling around most of the night, trying to keep warm, looking for food, whatever: still, in this snapshot of time, he looks relaxed.
I mentioned this to my wife and she let me know we had extra blankets and such if I wanted to head out. Probably, she was joking.
In unrelated news, at the Yangyang campus (now only the dormitories are used there), I found this set of pictures.
Today is frickin' miserable, but recent weather has been great but really dry. I have noticed wardens at all the San-Bul Jo-Shim (beware of fires) kiosks on the trails recently and these pictures from 2005's Naksan fire are a good way to encourage caution. Looking at these pictures, I feel most sorry for the poor cow. Normally, steak is dead before it is barbecued.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
It was my third climb of November (today is the fourth (day of November)) so I'm well on my way to achieving 52 climbs by the end of the year.
Here is the Kwandongfamily at the summit yesterday. The climb was warm but East-coast Gangwondo's winter winds were back so the peak was cold. I was wearing only a shirt so my back could dry a little before putting on a sweater and vest.
The little guy is ambivalent about the mountain. I think the babysitter takes him up now and again (I mentioned earlier that he may have more summits than I do) and she claims not to carry him. Some days, I carry him a little and some days a lot. Yesterday, I carried him a lot, so I was hot and panting and wet at the peak.
Today, I tried something different. I jogged around the mountain to the other side and then summited and finished at my starting point. I had walked the route on Thursday and took an hour, seven minutes. Today, by no means fast, I managed forty-one minutes.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Perhaps I gave their alter-identities too much homework. Whatever, this beatdown will not go unavenged... (more in a later post)
Who will save me? Check out anti-smoking ninja in this video.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
I am using a textbook made in-house. Production was rushed a bit and the book has a few errors. Looking back over the past five years at my university, I suddenly noticed how many error-sprinkled books ('sprinkled' implies a smaller number than 'riddled' or 'filled' right?) we have used. The books made domestically appear to have more errors. I like the English Countdown textbook (but I am going to list some errors so I won’t name the publisher) for the way it relentlessly repeated verb/subject agreement conversation substitutions. I liked it even though the students had two different editions (one with more errors) with the edition change unmarked or un-noted.
I want to discuss 'good' errors and 'bad' errors. Good errors, whether deliberately or not, encourage some thought and consideration of content. Bad errors might do the same but are typically spelling and grammatical errors and my students have limited English skills so spelling errors are more likely to be accepted than noticed.
Here are two errors, one from my current first year book, that appear to be useful.
In the first conversation, a shirt is being purchased for $40.00. After a 20% discount, the shirt is bought for $30.00. Wait a minute, $10/$40 isn't 20%! Here, after filling in the blanks, I ask the students if the salesperson is a good one. If need be, I ask them to check his/her math skills and occasionally used the Korean term "Su-hak", which I think means math. I like the idea of students critically thinking about their lessons - it doesn't have to be listen-and-repeat.
In the second conversation fragment, we can see that Christmas is apparently on December 31! Some students will complete the conversation without seeming to notice anything amiss but most can pick up on this error.
In this second photo, we can see many errors I categorize as 'bad'. I apologize for the occasional blurry areas.... I just looked again at the photo - I apologize for the nearly total blurry area! (I describe the picture in detail below but you can also click to enlarge.)
Many of these mistakes are spelling errors. In the upper left conversation, restaurant is missing the final 't'. I consider this one especially bad as the Korean spelling of the word is something like "restaurang" so the error may not be noticed.
I hope this post does not have any spelling errors nor examples of my frequent habit of dropping the occasional word. I will run this through spell-check before I post it. Perhaps some of these words, phrases and sentences were prepared with photo or object manipulation software to best set them on the page: that may be why no spell-check was used.
Let's hop around the photo a little. In the middle, second from the top, we can see "...for you for that that day." Maybe this isn't a terrible error. Its clearly a sign of poor editing but few students will read "that that" without noticing that something is wrong. "High hills" next to it, is funny, at least.
In the middle is the word "were't". No further comment necessary.
To the left of that and below it are two fragments worth mentioning. "to
To the right and below, we read about Ken. Apparently, someone took "her" umbrella. I changed "in" to "from" but maybe both are fine. Ken and Mary are on the same page. I guess the sky is brightening (or lightening) at dawn. I am not sure why Mary is frightened by it.
For completeness sake, I think the man should hike "up" a mountain rather than simply "hike a mountain."
In conclusion, I have badmouthed books written by management at my university (among others) so if you can send in some job opening information, I might be very grateful.
More seriously, I like the idea of deliberately-written errors that students can be encouraged to find, discuss and correct on their own or in class. Spelling errors are not appropriate (for beginner classes) but grammar errors could be. So long as students are aware that errors have been added, I like verb-tense disagreement or content errors (such as the math error that literally did not add up.) Other examples for future texts could be placing November in the Spring or lunch at night. Perhaps there could be a conversation about badminton balls, using three chopsticks or riding a bus to Jejudo.
Here’s to celebrating errors.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
These are two pictures of drying garlic. The left was with the flash. Which do you think is better?These bean plants grew on and over a roof at the in-laws farm.
Traffic in Busan was terrible and we almost were late to the wedding. 'We' being the mother, father, myself and two other relatives. The bus, with the younger brother among others, was late.
The wedding went smoothly with a few red-eyes from family but no wailing -sounds like the perfect emotional level.
A group of school children (the bride and groom are both teachers) sang in a cute but halting manner. The lack of polish was cute but there were a few angry faces from the students as they went by. I think the students were a mix from the two different classes (and different schools) so I wonder if the anger was aligned on class lines.
I think of Gangwon as being rural but Kyeongsang has its rustic spots as well. The parents-in-law have no computer and neither do the nearby houses. This isn't bad but noteworthy. There are a lot of tunnels in the area and nearby Changwon has the longest tunnel in Korea. That suggests the area is at least as mountainous as elsewhere.
As I understand the situation, Korean courts tend to allow Korean businesses to very nearly copy foreign trademarks but require foreign companies to remain very distinct from Korean brands. The Marmot (actually Dram man) has been following the story. Here is one post of his on the subject.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Yesterday, I was in the bathroom while a Korean English teacher was also there. I asked him about the sign. He said, "Push for five seconds". All I could think about was straining to pee faster. Who goes to the bathroom that fast? I think you would do yourself injury.
It was only after he had finished his job and held the flush mechanism, that he said, "hold this for five seconds". That made a lot more sense. Korean bathrooms often have stronger odours because few Koreans do flush the urinals.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Still, as I understand it, he received the Prize for educating people about global warming so the world's people can do something about. This will reduce water scarcity in the future. More water available to more people will reduce wars fought over this resource.
Al Gore has won the Peace Prize for reducing conflict in the future - how cool is that?
Partial text of the award can be found at the Panda's Thumb.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Hopefully, the hiking here will prepare me for Seoraksan. It past time that I returned to the park's peak, Dae-chung-bong. I plan to hike up in December from O-saek on the shortest route and again a few times in January before crossing from O-saek to Seorak-dong, a much longer hike.
One funny thing about the hill behind my apartment is that my son may have more summits under belt than I do. The babysitter frequently takes him up, possibly more than once a week. I'm not sure if I should ask or not. I was surprised when I learned they did the hike as he likes me to carry him when we go up. The babysitter says she does not carry him. I wonder what her secret is.
I wrestled with this last point for a while but decided I am not giving away any military secrets. Earlier, I described how an ajumma army had been clearing brush and cutting the grass on the mountain. Recently, the literal army has been up, refurbishing their foxholes and such.
I might make a whole post out of the point but I have to say I wasn't sure if I should mention the military activities on the hill. I finally figured that nearly every hill and mountain in Korea has fortifications to some degree so the simple statement of their existence wasn't a blow to national (or my) security. I gave a speech at Gangneung National University on the subject and told them I just wasn't sure what was acceptable or customary, much less legal. I would welcome comments on the subject. Can I take and post pictures of military fortifications? Would it be wise to give details on fortifications defending my own city? Does anyone care? Have I watched too many AFKN PSAs describing OPSEC? Should I remove a few paragraphs of this post?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Chunk Edited out here. No big deal - I felt I had passed beyond humor into rudeness.
I will review my thoughts on the first few lessons in a few days.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Apparently, today is International Cephalopod Awareness Day. The website suggests that today is a good day to share stories about our 10 and 8-tentacled friends (hence 10/8 on the calendar).
I was going to try to photoshop a picture for my story. I would have to, because I have never seen the cephalopod in the wild that I can find in most markets in Sokcho. Although I have hiked many times in Seoraksan National Park and even up the little mountain behind my home, I have never seen San Nakkji.
All I can do is imagine the graceful octopus swinging easily from tree to tree. I guess it would hang upside-down so as to not support the head against gravity. Perhaps the tentacles have much-reduced suction cups as tree bark is too rough to permit a good seal.
Yeah, photoshopping would have been better.
HT: to Pharyngula
Saturday, October 06, 2007
I asked my third year students to write three or more sentences about their first love and this was one reply. I think the student actually opened her heart and tried to tell me real details instead of glibly floating over the subject (which was all I wanted; when did you meet, how did you meet, what happened to the relationship -my abbreviated answers being, in public school, we were classmates, and I was shy and never said anything - we are merely acquaintances now). Unfortunately, although she bravely chose to write about emotions, she lazily chose to cheat on the homework.
I am not particularly angry. When a student cheats, they get zero and I don't waste time checking the work. When the answer is as crazy as this, I am too amused to be upset. Click to enlarge.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Later, when I decided to stay in Korea for an extended period, I bought a phone. It had a Korean interface because I was sure I would soon be speaking Korean fluently (strangely, I still have a groundless optimism about someday learning more than grammarless, single-word utterances).
It was a good enough phone five years ago but I couldn't do much with it. Yesterday, I picked this up:Two points: first, the screen looks unclear because it still has the cellophane cover on it. What's the deal with these super slim phones that are so delicate you need to buy a case for and keep wrapped?
Second, it came with a 'cellmate'. If I ever go to the big-house, I guess I'm prepared. Ah, its the charger, if you are curious.
The back of the cellmate included two PSAs regarding missing children. I'm not sure why that's noteworthy but it caught my attention.
I can already do more with this phone than the old one. I can store names and numbers and find them again. You might wonder why, on a phone with an MP3 player and a camera, I am proud of that. I downloaded the English user's manual but even still, it took a visit to the vendor to manage this small step. The English is okay, but there isn't enough of it. It's as if the writer got tired halfway through each set of instructions. I can start many things but how to finish them is a matter of trial and error. Do they think it is obvious how to save the change you make?
I found myself wondering if they would honour the warranty if I brought it in after smashing it against a wall.
I will try not to and now have a task for my students - teach me to use my phone (I've done this before in actual classes but this time it would be a voluntary thing before or after class).
Sunday, September 30, 2007
1) Internet Explorer has chosen to list the URL three times. I now almost exclusively use Firefox.
2) Hey, tomorrow's September 31! If they get this wrong, and I don't feel reckless in saying that the days of the year are fairly predictable, how can we trust their weather reports?
3) Actually, this is okay. The website was only able to afford a few icons so clear nights are symbolized by the sun. I honestly enjoy seeing that we will have sunny skies between twelve and three am.
I did not link to the website, but you can see the URL in the photo -THREE frickin' TIMES!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The conversation took a few turns because I figured they were just traveling around Sokcho. I soon learned their destination for the day was the DMZ. More, they had started in Gangneung that morning.
The distance they were going was solid, even impressive. Still, that distance wasn't what really impressed me.
I have done my riding alone so maybe it was having a friend along that did it for them but I was never able to relax until the day's ride was over. They were discussing what to do and see in Sokcho, the approximate halfway point. I have always wanted to do a ride or a canoe trip or a hike and just relax through the day. Maybe its my athletic training but I just have to finish.
The weather stayed dry so I suspect they had a long but enjoyable day.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I did that a few times. Soon the signs were looking a little beat-up and I hope that people weren't running them over in anger. Anyway, new signs are up. Oh, the signs are in two pieces and one can fill the bottom half with sand or water to ensure they don't easily get knocked over or taken. A few days ago, I found a truck in the no-parking area and a sign light enough for me to pick up.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
He's fine, by the way. He's in the US, clearing up some details before bringing his wife and son home. I will miss him but this isn't really a eulogy.
He was to fly out on Sunday. I don't know if he did as Kyoungsang province had some serious weather and many flights were cancelled. I'm sure he's gone by now.
We met in the apartment and said the non-committal things new roommates do. The thing that started a real friendship occurred on my first Sunday in Korea. He, a friend Erich, and I went hiking. We started really early toiled up during a hot but beautiful day in late August. The test of our friendship, which I guess I passed, was when Erich mentioned that we were doing this hike to see if it was the toughest one up Muhaksan.
"Hey. Welcome to Korea. How tough are you?"
I didn't whine and either kept up or didn't slow them much so they were satisfied. I'm somewhat of an outdoorsy guy so I was happy they considered me capable of joining them.
Later, I learned it was a test of sorts. Mark doesn't invite that many people to hike a second time.
One of my five best hikes was with Mark on Chirisan (now called Jirisan). It was Dec 28 of '97. We started in all the clothes we had but at one point we were down to shorts and t-shirts before bundling up for higher exposed ridges. It was a 20km hike and if it had been 20.5km , I would have cried.
I left Korea, then came back after an 18 month absence. We were both married at a traditional home in traditional ceremonies almost exactly a year apart. We each have a son.
We competed together on Arirang's The Contenders and won four games, losing the fifth humiliatingly badly.Mark actually added up the questions we answered and decided that we were within 50 points of each other so we made a good team.
Have a safe trip, Mark. Good luck finding work and all the rest. I will probably follow in 2009 (To Canada, not Oregon).
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Here are pics from Aug 28 (top) and Sept 13. As always, click to enlarge.
It was a great hike. Well, 'hike' may be exaggerating. The signs do say 'deung-san' which means hike, but I think the trail more of a mountain-book path -my translation for 'san-chaek-ro' (A proper translation would be nature trail or walking path).
There were places on the path in which I could almost believe I was the only one on the mountain. I even found myself looking for wildlife and trying to walk quietly to better find some. Beyond squirrels and several birds, I didn't see much wildlife, though.
On another part of the hike, I came across a man playing a trumpet - his music carried for minutes along my walk.
Mountains are a little strange to a guy from central Canada -well, strange for me. I guess I always had an impression of mountains as being natural but basically of a pyramid shape. Travel in southern China did nothing to dispel that image with isolated mountains popping right out of rice-fields. Chungdaesan, like most mountains, has more of an octopus shape. There are ridges and low points followed by new high points and branching ridges.
What I'm getting at is that I got lost briefly on the mountain. I followed a new ridgeline and thought I could just go down a slope and up the next and be on a familiar trail.
Nope. I was in shorts so bushwhacking through thorn bushes didn't seem fun. I ended up backtracking a great deal but also met a few interesting people so I can't complain too much.
In the past two weeks there has been a lot of work on the trails. New steps have been added and a barbed-wire fence put up to keep people from making new trails all willy-nilly.
I understand how people could use the, uh, backpack to carry stuff up but I think they would have to make a special trip just to carry the wheelbarrow up - the trail is too narrow and steep to push it except for at the top.
I have also seen new 'San bul Jo Shim' (beware of forest fires) signs. Hopefully they are an indication that the rains have eased for a bit - I don't want fires but dry weather would be nice - maybe rain at night would be acceptable.
Later, I saw the main reason for the warning about fires. The work crews have been piling kindling and firewood to dry everywhere.
Okay, that's not really firewood. Still, I don't know exactly why the brush was cleared. The grounds have a neater, more park-like appearance but that's not a good reason.
Apparently, she died a week ago but I hadn't heard until now. I learned about it from msnbc.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
I started the day with a short hike with the little guy. We just went high enough to get clear views of Ulsan Bowi and I don't remember seeing it glow like this before. (Click for larger image)
Then we went to the beach. I hope Japan doesn't suffer too much damage from the typhoon but I do feel selfishly grateful that we had both blue skies and monster surf. Somewhere, there must be trouble to make surf like this. Below, Kwandongalex is on a level stretch of beach about five metres above sea level. (Click for larger image)
Friday, September 07, 2007
This year, I just feel sorry for the riders. The weather has been crappy and cycling (those bikes typically don't have fenders to block rain off the tires) would be miserable and possibly dangerous. Good luck to all of them.
I saw signs in Gangneung for Winter 2018 -yep, those are Olympic numbers and Pyeongchang is trying again. I'm sick of it - good luck to them but I hope it's a low key thing for a few years.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
To meet these "non-fresh'' demands, local manufacturers are catering for a variety of options with longer life and taste.
Confectionery maker Shany began selling mass-produced bread made with natural yeast baked under an all-natural fermentation process.
While typical expiration dates for baked goods are usually a week-long, Shany's latest stays fresh for about 15 days.
A recent report by global consulting firm Frost & Sullivan showed that the study of antimicrobials and other antioxidants _ which are considered ideal extenders _ will be at an all-time high and the demand for ESL goods is expected to have a high impact from 2006 to 2012.
Retailers welcome the forecast, as extended shelf life means they are left with better margins by cutting goods gone bad.
"Retailers like full shelves and if goods can be kept fresh for long, it serves a benefit for manufacturers, retailers and consumers,'' said Lee.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
After we did get out, a coast guard boat made a few passes, then left. We speculated that the 'guy' called them.
When we were ready, we swam again and met a few Kwandong students, including one who spoke English well. They were swimming nearby when Pack-the-elcamino and I climbed out. One was yelling, but not in an urgent voice, "Help, help." We stared at each other I decided to humour the students. I jogged over and swam out to a group of four students. They pointed to a girl, much further out, in a tube.
I swam out to her.
Although not crying, she was clearly happy to see me and I towed her slowly in.
Really, I am not fishing for compliments. This isn't a story about any supposed heroism. This is a story about (young) adults who weren't able to judge the risks properly.
Many times I have seen for myself and heard reports from others, that when lifeguards stop a swimmer from going too far from shore, they explain, "Others will attempt to copy you and get into trouble."
We were swimming in deep water and deliberately ignored a (possible) authority figure who tried to call us in. Did the students, sheep-like, follow us into a situation they couldn't handle?
Another facet of the situation is that they left the girl out there alone. I think, of the five students, a few could swim, but were not quite strong enough to tow the girl back to shore. When they called us, there was a girl relatively far out (fifty metres or so), a group about half way to shore and another girl even closer to shore. I understand that the English speaker may have felt he was needed to get our attention but to leave the girl completely alone out there boggles my mind. That the group stayed at a halfway distance and no-one actually came to shore to speak to us, nor returned to the girl's aid confused us and made us feel the students were joking and being silly.
Anyway, comments about my heroism are welcome but unnecessary. Comments about the behaviors described in this post are welcome and, in fact, requested.
I met this guy during my climb. I wish I had a better macro feature.
Today, Saturday, the Kwandongfamily hiked up before the rain. Well, before the rain reached us; it appears Ulsan Bowi was already receiving rain.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I will try to post twice a week.
I am back at school now. This week, I am only introducing my classes so I spend more time in transit than in actual classroom work but that will change next week.
I have time on my hands so I am able to hike up the big hill -too small to honestly call a mountain - behindmy apartment. For no good reason, I have decided to try to hike it 52 times this year - once a week would be reasonable but I had only hiked up seven times before setting the goal. I am now up to eleven summits. Here are some views from Chungdaesan.
(Ulsan Bowi in the distance and an exercise station centre)
(my apartment is in the warren)
My coworker, Marcus Peddle, has started a new blog and on his first post, he describes a protest going on on campus.
Apparently, the 'education technology' department has been absorbed by the 'computers' department. One way or another, there is no more education technology department and students who are learning this halfway through their year are upset.
Come back sometime. There'll probably be new stuff here. I don't know.
Monday, August 13, 2007
I am pointing at a sign that says no right handed people allowed! Notice the empty classroom behind me.