Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Daylight Savings- no joke for the environment!

On April Fools Day, I claimed that Korea had adopted Daylight savings and people should put their clock forward an hour. Its a good thing Korea hasn't switched to Daylight Savings:

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century...As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ? Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat.

Found here (I am willing to believe this is a late entrant for an April Fools letter). Actually, that is a link to the newpaper this claim was written in. I found it on Catshark's blog and he linked to the angry astronomer who goes into detail about how and why it is so very foolish.

transitional species between fish and moth

All those who doubt evolution, look on this 'fith' - a transitional species between FIsh and moTHs - and despair! (click to enlarge)
Six legs?-check.
Wide wings? Check!
If you've seen a moth through a window, you'll notice the eerie similarities. If the body were a little less chunky, you wouldn't know the difference (maybe the gills and fishmouth might bother you a bit, but not much).

More seriously, anyone know anything about this fish? It has two pair of pectoral fins which separates it from older fish families, like salmon and trout, but that still leaves a huge number of species to distinguish it from.
I apologise for the glare from the tank. I just noticed it at a sashimi restaurant by the bus stop and had to shoot it.
UPDATE: friends at the talk origins google group have identified it as a sea robin, or close relative, the Red Gunard. Thanks, Mel, Dana and John.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Is Spring finally here?

A beautiful day today. I got out on the bike and managed twenty-some kilometres; not bad for a first ride. On the way, I stopped at an information booth and learned that cyclists can use the Misiryeong tunnel. I've cycled long distances but I'm a wimp about hills; this news may mean a trip sometime to Seoul, or anyway, somewhere inland.
The weather got me thinking of where I could go or what I could do this spring with my time off.
This weekend, Kwandongwife and K-son are visiting her parents and I'm staying home. Why am I not going along? Well, we want to save a little money, K-wife wants to save money and I may have singed some bridges when Kyongsangmother-in-law visited.

Anyway, with the weekend free, I am planning a trip to the DMZ -or as close as cyclists are allowed. There is an information centre at the final checkpoint and the guide there has arranged a ride for me the last few Km with other tourists in the past, so I'll do that again.

In mid May, the university has a festival of some sort and I'll get three days off then. I'm thinking about hiking across Soraksan. I'll start either at O-saek or Sorakdong and take two days to get to Baekdamsa and Yongdaeri. I don't know the dates for sure but I think it'll be May 16-18. Is anyone else interested?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Well, I guess I'm out of a job.

Now there's a 'magic' way to learn English, discovered by the "...Korea Times ombudsman-in-chief and also editor-in-chief of The Edu Times. Park, former managing editor of The Korea Times, now teaches English media and ENIE at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Kyung Hee University."

The way?

Reading newspapers.

Boy, he sure was lucky to have chosen a job in newspapers, then chance into finding this "Magic Solution to English Proficiency". Here are the highlights (click to enlarge, if needed).

Although I work in the field, my own grammar skills are not that strong (a big surprise to any that read this blog). Still, I have to wonder about the title in an "Eats, shoots and leaves" kind of way.
Magic Solution to English Proficiency

Does the title suggest that Magic is the solution? From the article, we know that reading newspapers is the solution; would that be a 'magical' rather than 'magic' solution?
I do understand that reading news in the target language but based on local events would have the advantages of being challenging but familiar and more interesting than events in the target language from my hometown (for example). Indeed, I use article from the Times in some of my classes.
I guess I object to two things. Firstly, the word magic. This makes the article appear to describe something new and wonderful. Using newspaper articles in class is a good idea, but its not a new one. I suspect most teachers do it and many students already read them at home. The word also makes English proficiency appear to suddenly be easy; that is probably the definition of a "magic(al) solution". There are ways language learning can be easier, but it is not easy.
Secondly, the Korea Times, and its competitor, the Korea Herald, are not really places to find literary English. The second point in the photo above states in part that, "Newspapers are interesting, concisely written, readable ... fine collection(s) of essays as well."
I read the Times because I think it is of better quality than the Herald but that makes it only a larger guppy in a small pool. I have enjoyed a few series in these two papers, but as a whole, I am not sure if the quote above is an accurate description. Take your pick of either paper; if I had fifty won for every obvious grammatical or spelling error, well, I could buy a coffee - but it would be a Starbucks specialty coffee!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Canadians no longer able to mock English signs in Korea

We sure can't after this!

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will remove the French-language exhibit at a major military memorial [Vimy Ridge, France] after a reporter discovered it was riddled with grammatical errors, Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson said on Thursday.

The issue is an embarrassment for Ottawa, since Canada has been officially bilingual for 40 years and millions of French-speakers are very sensitive about their fate in a country where most people speak English.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

a limited method for weight loss

In Canada, I donated blood fairly regularly, encouraged by the examples set by my parents and grandparents.
Here, I've been more cautious. The Red Cross of Canada had some problems somewhat before I started to donate and I was concerned about hygiene and sterile condition here.
I watched how the process worked and was satisfied; single use needles, bags and tubing, and even the swabs used to disinfect were unsealed in front of me and immediately discarded.

I looked at the Bloodmobile as being a little too temporary or somehow lacking in solidity (and the bus did rock as candidates boarded or left -400grams lighter). Still, the blood donor clinic in my hometown arrived in trucks and was set up only for the day in a recreation centre, and the staff here were skilled and experienced.

In the picture below, we see a candidate on the left, filling out the required form. Soon, he will go into the private chamber behind him, take a blood-density test and confirm a few of the questions verbally. The nurse inside the privacy booth spoke no English but was comforted by my Canadian blood donor card and insistence that I was an appropriate candidate. She checked the boxes in the questionnaire in the correct order of 'yes's and 'no's (for the record, I think it was no, yes, then no all the way down).
To the right, in the picture are two people who have completed their donation and recovering with drinks and snacks.

The nurse here found my vein (or artery, I don't know) with no trouble. I've never had trouble in that regard, though so I really can't say she was much better or worse than Canadian nurses. I'm quite proud of my blood donor abilities, in fact. Plug me in and don't go far because it won't take long - funny, my wife was saying the same thing, the other day.

In Canada, one can donate blood every two months or so. I don't know how long one must wait here. I will donate again but I can wait; I was unusually dizzy for the afternoon and evening. The inside of my elbow remains bruised four days later.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sigler did it (and questionable cooking advice)

As of this morning, Scott Sigler made #1 in the Amazon sci-fi/Fantasy list and #7 overall.

The most popular items on Updated hourly.
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by Frank Miller (Author), Lynn Varley (Author)
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In listing podcasts I listen to, I mentioned one of his books and I have listened to this one as well. I am not that confident in my ability to rate quality literature so I am hesitant to promote the book too much but his ability to reach #1 was due to careful planning.

He had been turned down by major publisher after major publisher after publisher after minor publisher.... and decided to make his books available online in audio form. After he had more than 10,000 downloads, publishers decided the book might sell after all.

Over the last two months, Sigler promoted his book on many podcasts and asked listeners to wait until the day the book was available and buy it en-mass at 9:00am -um, US East Coast time (I've forgotten the name of the timezone). He even gave away a PDF of the text -slightly different from the audio - with the understanding that e-Books haven't really caught on, no-one would print out the book because reading on loose-leaf A4 isn't that exciting either, so readers would just be more interested in buying the hard-copy (but softcover) book. Loyal listeners did buy on April 1; Australians even waited until 2:00am their time to synchronize their purchases.

I enjoyed Ancestor, but not enough to buy it, even though I feel a kind of connectedness to the author, having listened to him read for the past year.

I wonder if any of my readers do give money for services online. I'm talking about free services with a 'donate here' button, not pay services like Amazon. I listen to PodioBooks and Escape Pod and use Juice to download their content and have never donated; am I a bad man?

Now, on to cooking advice.

Charles at Liminality, has a mouth watering post about making Calzones. He makes the cooking process seem so easy that I may try it soon. Still, I've seen photos of him. He's pretty slim. Can one really trust cooking advice from a thin person?