Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Congrats to G-blogger Catherine!

According to Facebook, "...the newest, and possibly craziest, Campbell was born at 11:12AM Korea Time 12/30...weighing in at 4.1kg"

I trust mother and child are doing well and my best wishes to the whole family.

Look for news at Domestic Bliss in South Korea.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Really exciting stuff - for KwandongAlex

My little guy, as with all little guys, loves big machines. In our apartment, we have three excavators and five dump trucks, a few trains and many fire trucks (as displayed in a previous post). Oh, the trucks and such in our apartment aren't that big, I just want to be clear.
Anyway, I thought that snow removal in Sokcho consisted of dumping snow from the roads into the ocean - the melt water and carried pollutants will end up there in any case.

Apparently not. In Expo Park, a vacant parking lot is up to 15 metres deep in snow. We, KwandongAlex and I, watched six or seven dump trucks unload their cargo there in about the same number of minutes. Both Excavator drivers waved to KwandongAlex - They must know that their job is the dream and main aspiration of all boys under 5, 10...ah, heck, I would love to know how to drive one.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Are 6th Grade students the devil?

Sixth-grade Seoul English teacher Kim Yeong-hwa has written a book with that claim. Korea Beat has the story. The one thing that confuses me, though, is the word 'Novel' in their title. The excerpt reads like non-fiction but I thought 'novel' was used to describe fiction. Perhaps it's a story based on real life events and the author is pushing her agenda through a fictionalized account.

An excerpt from the Korea Beat: [Problems began with]
the abolition of corporal punishment 10 years ago. The inability to use corporal punishment has become teachers’ weak point. Mrs. Kim stressed, “with no way to punish students who violate the rules, the school becomes a lawless place with no control over them. We have to allow teachers to use corporal punishment or expulsion when necessary.” Beginning in elementary school you can clearly see the effects of an inability to punish violations of the rules.

The first satisfactory result from her idea to “allow teachers to use corporal punishment” would be the restoration of respect for teachers. She said, “when children come to school now, the result of corporal punishment is that they think ‘the teacher expects kindness’ instead of ‘what did I do wrong?’ Please don’t cut down the teacher in front of the children… When you have a teacher devoted to scholarship, parents will openly take care of problems. When teachers are not respected, everything is more difficult and they are insulted behind their backs. That is my story.”

I am teaching elementary school students now and enjoying it, but that's only because I'm doing it for only a short period (two hours a day for two months). I worked at a children's hagwon ten years ago and didn't like it. So, I can definitely sympathize with teachers of elementary school children. It is a very challenging job and one that exhausted me.

Still, remove corporal punishment and you have "no way to punish students"? Let's see; telling the parents, or even threatening to, worked for me. Assigning low grades might work for some students (when I was in Elementary school, there was too big a gap between my bad behaviour and my parents seeing my report card- in High school, I understood the connection but not so much in Elementary). Time outs, visits to the principal, detention, loss of privileges...

She somehow thinks that bringing back corporal punishment would restore respect for teachers. Do they use that claim at Guantanamo?

I can't figure this line out: "the result of corporal punishment is that they think ‘the teacher expects kindness’." Does Kim think that violence encourages kindness? Is Gandhi in her class?

I also like the bit about "devotion to scholarship" because that's what corporal punishment means to me.

The Korea Beat also links to a few articles of teachers taking corporal punishment further than even Kim Yeong-hwa would find acceptable - I hope. I think there was a similar Onion article, "Child Abuse: how much is too much?". Here it is (just a picture).

It's possible Kim needs to retire soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Nitpicking about wonderful Christmas Toys

As a father, Christmas really is more about giving than receiving (although I liked the shirts and hiking pants, mom).

The little guy received several books and toys that we both really like but I have a few minor points to bring up - constructive criticism, if you will.

This Talking Microscope looks great and I can't wait to use it with the little guy - but I will wait because inside the case were three Triple A batteries while the machine uses three C batteries. Some shirts were packed in the box with the 'scope so I can't be certain if the error happened at the factory or enroute to my home.

Matthew Reinhart's The Jungle Book (What the book / Amazon) is fantastic. These books are no longer described as 'pop-up' books but as examples of 'paper engineering'. The new, fancier title is well-deserved. Still, the book is described as appropriate for ages 4-8 (and that is a group with huge variety!) while I think the book is more appropriate for ages 5 or 6 to 45; again, as a Kipling fan, I love it.
On these pages, Baloo is offering to care for the man-cub, thwarting Shere-khan's scheme to eat the little guy right away.

I am also a fan of Lego and the little guy has played with the remnants of my thirty-plus year old Lego pieces for the last year or so. I had planned to get him a box of general parts- various squares and rectangles - but E-Mart had sold out so I got him a fire truck set. He also likes fire trucks so it's a perfect match. The Lego truck has a trailer and is at the bottom of the picture.
Everything went together fine but I have to complain about the packing. The set consists of three or four parts (the fire fighter was of three pieces, is that enough to be counted as separate?) Inside the box were three plastic bags, each with many pieces. Is it too much to ask that the bags each correspond to one part? One bag - one trailer, one bag- the truck, one bag - the contents of the trailer: makes sense to me.

No. The fire fighter's head was in one bag and his body in another. The wheels were in one bag the the tires in a different bag. And so on.

I put it together for the little guy, with some help from him, but it could've been a little easier.

I hope everyone's troubles are as minor as mine and that they have the same wonderful weather to enjoy as I do.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On December 25th, a savior was born

Oh, and Happy Birthday to the other guy, too.

Ah, what the heck:

Merry Christmas, all!!

Image found here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

snow and stuff

Here I am in beautiful weather, shovelling snow. For a pencil-pusher like myself, sometimes a bit of vigourous labour feels great.
We were clearing the Coast Guard Memorial in Sokcho. Here are some Coast Guard conscripts doing their part - not necessarily voluntarily, as I was.

At work today, I found Pack the El Camino had received a package. Here, we can see the fragile sticker clearly visible and the box squished into the cubby-hole. That makes a lot of sense.

Monday, December 22, 2008

How to be a super-hero

Yesterday, Spiderman 2 was on TV and the little one and I watched a bit of it. We didn't watch much because he was bored when Spiderman wasn't on and I was concerned when the fight scenes were on. Still, he loved the swinging scenes and jumped around the room, from the kimchi fridge to the sofa to the floor with his hands in the air as though hanging on to webbing. He held on to my wrist with both hands (and I held one of his wrists) and swung him in a big circle from and to the sofa a few times.

I distinctly remember tieing a string to a hook on our basement ceiling in our house on Muskoka Road 14 in Bracebridge and leaping from dad's easy-boy to the sofa and such. I was older than my little guy is now, so I was embarrassed when dad walked in. He told me he pretended to be Superman when he was young.

Well, I read an article today about people who try to be super-heroes (not magical ones or with super powers though, that would be [more] crazy). Later today, I listened to CBC Quirks and Quarks, where the host was interviewing the author of the book, Becoming Batman. The author, a neuroscientist and martial arts expert, suggested that someone could gain Batman's skills in 20 years of training, but would have a career of only about three years before wear and tear would force retirement.

The Rolling Stones article described how some people felt that if Bin Ladin was a super-villain, they could be super heroes. The fact that they have no super powers merely makes their efforts more courageous (to them). Via Pharyngula, which also has links to real hero costume and gadget designers.

I'm a little long in the tooth to train myself and don't care to be killed off to give my son the dedication to train for twenty years, but he is the right age to start. Also, I wonder if there is a niche for a non-super powered aquatic super-hero. There's one I could train for.


I forgot to mention; this afternoon, I didn't go to the health club, I went to a Coast Guard Memorial Site and helped shovel more snow for another ninety minutes. I definitely don't feel like a superhero right now; my back is tight and I expect my forearms to be in knots tomorrow. Perhaps I will take the little guy to a bathhouse this evening for a long soak.

Snow Day

Today started normally, except for all the spinning tires and horns I heard through the night.

I got up, got KwandongAlex ready for daycare and we went out the door. My plan was to take him to daycare, then go to the health club for an hour or so and get ready for work. Passing all those cars stuck in deep snow made me feel the health club part was a little ridiculous - similar to the ride an elevator-drive a car- ride an elevator to exercise routine that many follow.

So, I dropped off the little guy, went back to my apartment, hung up my jacket and backpack of exercise gear and picked up a shovel.

Here is how deep the snow was.

That's more snow than we normally get in a year.

Anyway, the big problem with parking lots and snow is there is no place to put the snow. I helped a guy clear a route for his car by blocking in another car. Once his car was out of the way, I began digging out the doubly-snowed in car. Happily, he told me he wasn't driving today.

I moved a lot of snow; from the sidewalk, from emergency exits and from the parking lot. Finally, the only thing that could replace me arrived and I went home to relax.
This was better than the health club for a full-body workout. Still, the machines and weights at the club offer measurable amounts of exercise. What do I do now, slowly graduate from shovel to bigger shovel to bigger shovel?

Its weird, but I still feel I should go to the club - I may this afternoon and run, if nothing else. Once I returned home, I found that my university has declared a snow-day and so I have no classes this afternoon.

I'm not exactly fishing for compliments here; a coworker was flabbergasted that I would shovel stranger's cars out with, and for, them*. They aren't complete strangers as we share an apartment building and some of them were clearly older than I; surely anyone with the time would help. Wouldn't they?
*I don't think the co-worker reads my blog and so doesn't know my feelings about traffic and automobiles and the like. I guess from that point, it is a little strange me helping drivers. The contradiction is similar to my doing volunteer work, teaching ESL, at a local church. I'm a complicated man.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

They have some nerve!

Periodically through class, I end up shouting at my students. But sometimes, it's not because I'm angry or drunk; it because fighter jets are buzzing the campus.

These are two pics of a recruiting banner on campus. Those fighter jocks really do have a big pair; after upsetting my classes for six years they ask our students to join them?

Well, I don't want the Norks here so I guess I can't complain too rigourously; I just wish there were some empty area the jets could fly and practise manoeuvres over without irritating people. If only there were an empty space, even one relatively soft for emergency landings; too bad they can't find one on the East Coast.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Should students want stability?

I taught a third year class to administration majors, the majority of whom wanted to work in the civil service. A large part of the class involved job interview questions, a bit challenging for my students and of questionable value, but the answers, at least to me, were interesting.

One answer, in fact. The question was, Why do you want to work here? It is, as those who have studied interview questions, a trick.

My students answered the question honestly, in acceptable English, and terribly. The overwhelming majority said, almost verbatim, A government job is stable and safe. I want stability.

Again, the English is fine, the question is correctly answered, but the answer is job-killing.

An old man like me, with a young child and serious responsibilities might reasonably want stability and maybe, might mention this in a job interview, but probably not.

A young person, with energy and few responsibilities, should take chances, should want to make changes, even.

It is the make changes part that interests me and that I feel should charge youth with energy. Obama and his movement are one thing, an American thing, but most youth, I thought, have some political fire. Those wanting to work in the government should especially want to not merely work, but be involved.

I am now going to make a connection that solely exists in my mind, in stereotypes. I dont think that my students are now interested in or ever will be interested in bribes or corruption, but I see so clearly a relationship between working in government without desire and sampling helping oneself, in taking the bribes, in asking for bribes.

Here are two articles old and I hope the links work about corruption in Korea.

From the Herald:

According to the survey, 50.5 percent of respondents said Korean civil servants are corrupt, whereas only 17.5 percent described them as free of corruption. The perception worsened from last year, when only 45.5 percent answered that Korean government workers are corrupt.

The foreigners' corruption index lowered to 4.05 from last week's 4.16. The index scores are out of 10, with zero being the most corrupt.

And the Korea Times (probably reporting on the same study):

Foreign professionals also gave low marks for the governance of Korean companies ― 40 percent said local companies' governance level remains ``low.'' More than 20 percent said the local business environment still favors chaebol over small- and medium-sized companies, while 25 percent argued conglomerates need to further clean up their ``cozy'' relationship with government officials. About 20 percent also criticized the lack of transparent accounting practices and said the chaebol management structure needs further reform.

They offered up several possible explanations for the corruption problems ― 35 percent argued that the local culture tolerates corruption behavior; others said administrative rules and practices encourage such behavior. Some also cited the legal system, which they described as being lenient toward those charged with corruption.

Oh, I noticed that I called the "Why do you want to work here?" question a trick. The answer should have, and I had trouble explaining this to my students, information about the company looking to hire. "I want to work here because I really like the way your organization does this, works on that, has XXX mission statement, etc." The applicant should research the place s/he wants to work. The applicant should also make a connection between him/herself and 'work on that', 'XXX mission statement' and the like. Anyway, again, statements that sound like, "I want to move into a cubicle and never leave it." should be avoided.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Exceptions to Godwin's Law

This story is a few days old now but I'm approaching it from a slightly different perspective (although no less shallow, as I think about it a bit).

A woman called a bakery in New jersey and asked to have a cake made for her son with his name on it. Normally that would be no problem but the child's name is Adolph Hitler Campbell. According to the article, his sister is named Julie Aryan Nation Campbell. Clearly, the parents have problems.

Now, the reason the story is affecting me a few days late is because a coworker (and good friend) lent me a book, My Father's Keeper, about a group of children who have similar last names. Ah, their names aren't similar to each other, but similar to the young Campbell boy. There are the children of leading Nazis. These children carry the names Hess, Bormann, Goring, Himmler and others.

I imagine there could be humourous exceptions to Godwin's Law, but mostly I am trying imagine doing anything in Germany and giving your name and wondering about the looks you get. If I heard a person were Jimmy Bormann, I wouldn't particularly care, but I would recognize Goring or Himmler and certainly have questions inside.

Oh, info on Godwin's law here. Basically, the law states that anytime someone in an argument compares their opponent to Hitler, they are known to have lost the argument.

I may post a review of the book when I finish it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

YangyangBill is a great host

YangyangBill invited us to dinner last night (by the way, is the TownName thing getting old? I originally did it for a little anonymity but I don't know if it really serves any purpose). The Kwandong family showed up as did a few other coworkers and friends in the area. There was great food, good conversation and more great food.

Let's see; there were smoked oysters, Vietnamese noodles, chips and salsa, shrimp salad, and I'm sure there was more.

Another famous blogger from Gangwon called YangyangBill up to give him a message only minutes after I had said the same thing. YangyangBill had no choice but to believe us, although he had no way to confirm our identical but separate story: last night had the largest full moon of the year (link is to the top google search - I don't think it's about astronomy per se). It was a shame that last night was cloudy until around 11:00 - we did see a very bright but not noticably larger moon as we walked home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

crashing electronics is a new hobby

As you may recall, my notebook died a few weeks ago (at the most exciting time for it - just when I needed all the spreadsheets and files for exams and end of semester stuff). It is back and working fine, although I still have plans to upgrade.

At the health club today, I, uh, did something to two running machines. They had their revenge though.

I guess the air is really dry in the club; as I reached to change the speed, my whole hand went numb with the static... and the controls stopped working. I couldn't turn the machine off, nor change the speed. Don't worry, I wasn't trapped, I stepped onto the side of the machine. The fitness instructor had to unplug the machine from the wall to stop it.

The same thing happened, although this time I grounded with the back of my hand to avoid some of the pain of the shock through my finger. Well, this time the machine shut down and wouldn't restart for me.

Anyway, I'm now okay. I think the treadmills are, too.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

exam answers

Edit: I've added to this post a day later- some stuff I forgot the time through and new, but equally boring, stuff from today.
I give midterm exams to all my students but most of my classes have a Korean co-teacher who gives the final. As a result, I only have three exams this week. Still, there have been some interesting answers.

First, what is the Korean phrase that translates to 'hard boiled'? A coworker commented on seeing it a few times in homework and yesterday, in the oral exam, a student told me she respected Helen Keller, partially because she was hard-boiled.

Part of the problem is I don't have a clear definition in my own head of what the phrase means. I thought it was something that only hard drinking '30s detectives could be.

On the exam, students were asked to, "Tell me about someone you respect other than your parents." We'd done this previously in class and as homework, and I knew I needed to add the 'not your parents' bit to avoid honest but trite responses.

The Confucian training was strong, however, as many students told me about their grandfathers. This was more than acceptable as I heard tales of great sacrifices made in conditions I have never experienced.

Edit: Five students - about a tenth- told me they don't respect anyone. Kids these days.
Anyway, one of them gave a well-reasoned answer, in good English, for his response. He is more interested in actions and results than in flattering others.

Anyway, exams are going well- for me, and for some of my students. I posted the questions online three weeks ago and some students told me they hadn't looked at them. I have to admit I don't feel so bad failing such students.

Edit: A coworker is just finishing his Masters and is now applying to start his Doctorate. I find it ironic that he is studying and thinking about complex symbols and metaphors in poetry and I find myself singing along with KwandongAlex's TV shows, "I'm Bori!...Bori, Bori!...I'm Bori! I'm curious!"

Another coworker described how her passion and enthusiasm were in danger of fading. I discussed this with her and she paid me the wonderful compliment of saying she was impressed with my passion for teaching. Thanks DonghaeJennifer and right back at ya! I certainly think you care and advocate for your students with energy and passion.

I promised a KOTESOL conference post and now the conference is six weeks gone. I will still review the material and my opinions but mostly as they relate to how I feel this year of teaching went and what my plans are for the next teaching year.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

computer's back...

Thanks, Masuro, but it's the same computer. Still, its working well and I'm getting school work done.

I don't feel much like blogging these days even though I have a pretty light schedule this week; I only need to invigilate (Thanks, Nathan, for teaching me that word) three exams. Still, I'll be busy enough as a single parent; my wife had a 24 hour shift finishing this (Saturday) morning and after 23 hours at home, she is off for several days at sea. I hope she gets some rest after that.

Maybe more later.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Under repairs

The fan on my notebook computer recently gave up and so it (the whole computer) is in Seoul for repairs. The computer is six years old so I am not surprised that it is wearing out, just upset by the timing - final exams are next week at the university and I have grading and such to do .

I am currently typing on the computer in my office - it is running Windows 98! That's pretty old.

More posts when I have something to post on that doesn't make me crazy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

classroom product placement

One assignment I gave my first year students was to make an advertisement (a commercial) in class. Today is the first day of presentations and the first one was of a bear and a man wrestling for salmon. Many of you might recognize the plot from this ad/video. I am disappointed that they copied the idea so completely - even the tin of salmon was marked "John West Salmon", but I like the effort they put into the preparation.

Below, is the bear and the bear threatening me.

So, I'm torn; the acting was pretty good, and the ad is undeniably funny, but should I give any grade to plagiarists? In watching the Youtube video, I see that my students used the exact script from the commercial.

remember: John West; they do their worst so you can have their best!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chungdae san

It's been a while since I climbed the mountain behind my apartment. Today, the Kwandongfamily went up. There were many changes since the last time I'd been up.

"This tree must not fall!"
Kwandongson with Sokcho's mountain-ocean mascot (funny that they didn't work sunrise in).
There are a lot of new benches along the trail. Here Kwandong-son and -wife point to the little guy's daycare.
If you climb 280 metres and think, "I wish I could go up five metres more", you are in luck.

My son's bookshelf: 우리아빠는 방귀왕

Special note: I bought a three-pack of Weihenstephaner (Germany's oldest brewery) beer -it came with a cool glass! I just finished the 'Kristall Weissbier' which was okay; I really like the dunkel, though. It's a 500 ml bottle so there be some (more than usual) non sequitors and such.

I continue to try to learn Korean, in fits and starts. I intend to make another start (I don't want to have a fit - what does 'fits and starts' mean, anyway?) and, along with other material, intend to read books from my son's bookshelf. To add structure to my reading, I will post commentary about one book a week here.

I already do read his books, of course. Around half of his book shelf consists of English books and sitting sideways, on top, is Dinosaurs, which will be a great book for him in five years. Until then, I will be reading it and showing him pictures on occasion. I read the rest with him; that was clear, wasn;t it?
Click to embiggin the photos, as you like.

Anyway, the bookshelf itself came with, I don't know, about forty Korean books for pre-schoolers. Some have no text, others include stickers with words (in hangeul, of course) to affix next to pictures.

I read for him Where the Wild Things Are, which frightened him after a mere four pages on his first glimpse, but also these Korean books. He has seen all of them, I think, but I am not sure I have. Normally, I check out a few pages and tell him an English story that approximates the Korean one. I do this for the same reason I need to learn Korean; my reading is slow, mechanical and my accent is terrible, but also because he gets a lot of Korean content in the day anyway. After eight+ hours at a Korean-only 어린이집 (Korean daycare), he has enough trouble communicating with his dad in English.

Let's start with a funny one:
First story: Our dad, the king of farting

My first note is I need to understand the Korean use of our (우리). One can find '우리나라' (our country), '우리말' (our language) and other terms, even when the sentences are given to foreigners. The book title, Our Dad... clearly is not about your dad and my dad both, what's with this 'our' business?

Okay, so father and son are going to a 'father and son day' at the kindergarten. They sing and do artwork together, making a paper flower.
색종이 - coloured paper
종이 - paper
간식 - snack

Then comes some tumbling.
구르다, 구르기를 - roll, tumble

Oh my gosh, dad farted - a lot!
아빠가 멋지게 구르기 시작했어요. 그때 뿌앙! 뿌앙! 뿡뿡뿡! 방귀가 터져 나왔어요.
Dad began to tumble. B-rap, B-rap, B-rrrrap! Dad farted a lot.

The boy is very embarrassed.
창피해! -embarrassed.

It turns out dad is sick. An ambulance takes him to the hospital.

I am not too clear on the next bit. A nurse tells the family something, finishing with, "He should fart after his next meal." "방귀가 나와야 밥을 먹을 수 있어요."

The boy prays, "Please let dad have a good fart."
마침 -luckily
마침내 - at last.
Finally, dad farted. Yahoo! Our dad's farting!

Next week: Robot wars! - It's more touching than it sounds.

Added the next morning: I think the dad's name must be Harold. That let's me make the sacrilegious comment, "Our father, who fart in heaven, Harold be thy name." There, I feel better.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Homemade satellites - the staple of YA science fiction

The Korea Times has an article about a "Homemade Satellite" that will be launched...uh, sometime - I lost interest after chuckling over the homemade part.
I must run to care for the little guy - maybe more later.

Ppeppero Day

I actually received a few boxes of the candy. Don't fret too much about the bad teacher - I used it to reward students who answered questions in class. It was the first class that more than one student tried to talk at once.

I wish I could say I have outgrown my dislike of 'candy day' on Remembrance Day, but I haven't outgrown much . Still, I do like candy and active students.

Monday, November 10, 2008

first snow - a half-assed post

This is the first year I've been unable to take a picture of the snow capped mountain in the morning before work. I may be able to in the next few days if we get more or if the current snow stays (unlikely). A Brian on the other side of the country has photos of Gangwon snow (hey, I don't poach on your territory!). Previous years.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dunkel Beer

This photo is from Pack the Elcamino's blog. He thinks this isn't the best beer at E-Mart, but agrees that its pretty good.

The name sounded familiar and I reopened a fantasy book which had beer practically as a main character. "The Herzwesten Brewery has a good reputation as the Weihenstephan in Barvaria." Drawing of the Dark, by Tim Powers.

Its not a big deal, its just that Sokcho is a bit of a backwater for foreign beer.

It happens every weekend

I wake up before the little guy and check my email or something. When he gets up I feel a little cold so I put a warmer shirt on him. I still feel cold so I put some socks on him...eventually I put some heavy wool socks on my own feet, leave him alone and feel better.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chikopian in the news

From the Huffington and the Washington Times.
CHICAGO | The skinny kid with the funny name will forever be a part of history.

I don't think Patrick Kennedy is that funny a name, but I sure remember him as "the skinny kid". Dang cross country runners, always being so thin.

Anyway, Kennedy and I spent five summers working together at Camp Chikopi and I know him to be an intensely politically-aware person; in him, that's a compliment.

We've drifted apart but I am sure that he was involved -knocking on doors, manning phones or something - in the campaign and I am glad to read about him.

Nice work, Pat.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quantum of Solace - Not as good as it sounds

There's plenty of action in the New Bond film but the camera work was chaotic so the fights and chases were hard to follow. Really, I figured in the LOTR movies that the quick cuts and moving camera work in fight scenes was to avoid Asian Martial Arts style exchanges -which would have been weird in a quintessentially English movie - or to hide weak fighting skills on the part of the actors. Is that the case with QoS?

And if the action scenes don't thrill, there isn't much to a Bond film.

Perhaps the film had fractal significance; the plot was as confusing as the action. Bond travelled hither and thither wildly; I guess he had to to follow the bad guys but why did they take those trips? Stuff had to have been cut out: there is a female agent who I only remembered as 'Fields', but reviews give her name as Strawberry Fields - is that part of Bond lore that I should have or is her full name on the cutting room floor?

Hidden spoilers below.

I will type my spoilers - or more correctly, my confusion about the plot, which must contain spoilers below in white character. If you want to read further, highlight the area below this point to find the invisible message.

Bond is trying to stop an international cartel intent on controlling the water resources of Bolivia? Bad news for the Bolivians, but squeezing them doesn't wring out much money (is the water metaphor confusing in a discussion of water? Sorry.) and water isn't all that portable. Controlling the water feeds to New York City would be dastardly, but, and I apologize to any Bolivian readers, who cares?

Don't look at the comments if you are concerned about spoilers, but do comment otherwise, please.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bits and pieces

I don't have a single strong topic to write about but here's a bit of a grab bag.

O-bama! As a Canadian I followed the election closely didn't feel I needed to probe too deeply into the issues - I can't vote for either one. Now that it's over; well, I was torn between the candidates for the weak reason that I am anti-bush (and therefore pro democrat) but McCain had showed a fun side on the Daily Show, so I liked him. Anyway, Sarah Palin was one of the factors that made me pro-Obama. Not the only one, but the final one.

Anyway, congrats to Obama and wow, McCain had a great defeat speech.

Elections are going on at my university and that means costumes -of course! There were several cows, a few crocodiles and a tiger. I borrowed a cow costume for a quick photo -at bottom left, you can see this group is supporting team 3 (names covered) for pres and VP. I'm not sure why I didn't choose the croc suit. Last year there were superheros (and a brave, outnumbered teacher/ninja).

Here is a sleeper from a third year class.
Gangneung is hosting a UCC - User created content - contest. I think it is for tourism and will give more details soon.

Giant author (both tall and famous) Michael Crichton passed away Tuesday. I have reviewed a few of his books here but not of my favourite pair; Jurassic Park and its sequel. They were fantastic with a remarkable blend of real science and adventure. (Reviews of Next and State of Fear.) I read many but not all of his books and will try to get to Andromeda Strain soon.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

D&D players - lowest of the low

The Christian Children's Fund refused a donation of $17 000 as it came from D&D players- and therefore must be tainted with E~vil! (Via Pharyngula.)

This post is mostly a warning for an, um, acquaintance - surely I couldn't be friends with someone as anti-Christian as a D&D player. I mean, I don't believe in god; I am not Anti-god.

And to think that I had been so impressed with his petty vandalism!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Lost in lack of translation

Officials in Swansea (county?), England (correction: Tom, in the comments, tells me Swansea is a city in Wales. I had thought it was a border town or the like. Thanks Tom.), needed to have a sign translated to Welsh, as road signs must be bilingual there. They sent the message to a translator who was away and had an automated message returned to the sender. The message was only in Welsh and the officials thought their work was done.

The result? A sign saying, in English, that heavy vehicles couldn't use a road and in Welsh, that "I am not in the office at the moment". BBC via Boing boing.

What kind of translator, while using a work email address, uses a single language automated response? Charles, I'm looking at you!The man should learn some business etiquette, much less email etiquette. (I was going to write, "Or, as the Welsh say,..." with a string of gibberish, but I recall that friends doing the same with pseudo-Chinese seemed really inappropriate.)

As an aside, I question the efficiency of no-nonsense business letters that someone would accept two sentences without any pleasantries, introductions or salutations. Even an bit of advertising would make sense (Thank you for bringing your business here). Is the translator normally so 'efficient' that s/he sends bare, unadorned translations? Are the government employees really willing to accept a letter with no names or notes in it? finally, was the translator surprised to be paid for some work s/he didn't remember doing?

Anyway, as a Canadian I grew up in a French-tinged environment - it's not really bilingual but there's a lot of French around. I do not speak French but I recognize a lot of words. I'm pretty sure that I would understand enough to notice a problem with "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."

Is the same not true for Swansea? I can appreciate that Welsh seems more different than French to English, but if people grow up in the area, would they not notice the common words on street signs and not see any in the above sentences?

We laugh at interesting English signs (and I photographed an accidentally obscene one and posted it a few days ago) in Korea, but if places that should be multi-cultural have this much trouble I guess we should take it easy on Korean sign makers.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en and April fool's Day are two of my favourite days.

Sadly, this is the first year I didn't have classes on Oct 31,so I wasn't able to dress up there. In fact, I can't find my black cycling mask so dressing up would have been a challenge.

I tried to make a doll that would hang from the ceiling of the teacher's lounge that would swing forward as the door was opened but was unusually busy at home during the week and couldn't get the stuff to work.

The best I can do, blogwise, is send you to my video from 2006.

Dawkins and Fantasy Books

I have been reading of Dawkin's disapproval of the Harry Potter series.

I found statements like these:
Richard Dawkins has a new crusade: he has declared war on fantasy - especially works of fantasy for children.
...now he is campaigning against Harry Potter (and children's fantasy in general)! Apparently all this magic nonsense is turning them away from science.

I am disappointed by this if it is the case. I have to wonder if it is because I think he wrote the intro for one of Philip Pullman's books (His Dark Materials).

What I have found from his own lips is a concern that stories of magic and fairies may turn children away from science (he was careful to say this needed to be studied, not that it was definitely the case).

The American Scene quotes C.S. Lewis:
Long ago, C. S. Lewis wrote, “About once every hundred years some wiseacre gets up and tries to banish the fairy tale.” Why? “It is accused of giving children a false impression of the world they live in. But I think that no literature that children could read gives them less of a false impression. I think what profess to be realistic stories for children are far more likely to deceive them. I never expected the real world to be like fairy tales. I think that I did expect school to be like the school stories. The fantasies did not deceive me; the school stories did.”

A commenter at TAS said:
It's that children who read it may come to have a worldview in which the emotional resonance of magic, mystery, deep underlying forces in the world, the numinous, the ancient, the vast and complex, the deeply meaningful, and humans' relationship with all these things are necessarily tied up with the specific sort of magic and medievalism that finds such prominence in children's literature - or at least tied up with things being other than a rational look at the world suggests that they really are.

I take this to suggest discomfort with knowledge of how tiny humankind is in the universe and how coincidences are simply that, there are no deep connections of the sort fairy tales suggest.

I don't think I ever thought there was. I hoped there was but my reading of fantasy made me, if anything, more interested in science. Alchemy led to chemistry in my case.

A video of Dawkin's discussion can be found at his website.

If he is arguing against fantasy stories, I have to agree with Tripp (books are my only friends), who quotes Alan Jacobs: "...this is suspiciously like the argument of the fundamentalists against whom he regularly fulminates. Jackass." The final word, may be Tripp's own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Japanese imports can go faster than domestic vehicles

There is an interesting post at Boing Boing about the mystery driver of an English car in Germany. German speed cameras on the autobahns photograph the licence and the driver's side of the car but not the passenger side. As a result, the driver of the right-hand-drive British car does not show up in photos. S/he is apparently aware of this and has a Muppet in the passenger seat to be photographed.

My understanding of the traffic cameras in Korea is that they only shoot the Driver's (left-hand) side. Drivers of imported Japanese cars would be invisible to the cameras, so they should be able to ignore the cameras and drive any speed they like.

I don't want the roads in Korea to be any more dangerous but I especially wonder about speeding in Germany. I said 'autobahn' above, but I'm not sure they have speed limits. If cars are already going 200km/hr, I wouldn't want anyone abusing whatever laws are in effect.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kotesol pics

I hope to have a substantive post on the conference up soon but Wednesday is the first day I am really free to write. I had a good time at the conference but few presentations rose to the quality level I expected.

One great part of the weekend was meeting fellow bloggers, particularly two I had never met in the flesh: The beautiful Lao-Ocean Girl and the, uh, not unattractive EFL Geek (he looks just like his avatar).

Before the conference, I did some shopping and found this sign (and, in fact, some good shirrrts) near city hall.

One of the presenters at KOTESOL discussed using art and clay in class. Her presentation was way overbooked but I saw two remarkable things at the far end of the hall; Lao-Ocean Girl and an empty seat. I sat down and introduced myself - she even recognized me! The funny thing is, I'm pretty sure we worked in Gangneung at the same time for a few years, but had never met. Reardon, did you tell her I was creepy? I will certainly seem so after this post.

Anyway, we made this gargoyle together.

I also met JoeSeoulMan, another blogger but one I had met before, on my turf. He visited Naksan Temple a few years ago and I made his acquaintance. From his office, I took this picture of the Sookmyoung University buildings where the conference was going on. Kevin, if you read this, I saw the sign for Cordon Bleu cooking and thought, I am walking where the big hominid walked.Anyway, in discussing my food shopping plans before departure, Joe ofered to help by driving me to Costco. Eventually he left me at a subway station with the two bags I'd started with and two others all hanging off me. Joe, I managed to organise everything down to two big bags and a small one.

Coming up, Saturday at Kotesol...

Sleep in class, join the gallery

Friday, October 24, 2008


I sometimes wonder about my taste in, well, media. I guess that I am not particularly discriminating. I find that I am also easily swayed by other's opinions. For example, I loved the movie Cloverfield and visited a few of the associated websites before and after watching. Later, upon reading reviews, I began thinking, yeah, that was strange, the four of them, one the others hardly knew, going into the city, especially after the girl inflated and blew up. Would that guy really have filmed the whole thing? Maybe it wasn't that good?

Anyway, in some respects my opinions are easily swayed.

Case in point, I read the first ten books of the Left Behind series. I went in not expecting a lot, mostly just curious what the hullabaloo was about. I finished the ten and wasn't nauseated (I stopped at ten because later books in the series were not available at that library. I wouldn't have paid for them and perhaps that made my expectations a little lower - Woo-hoo free- crappy, but free- books!) I noted a few things strange about them wasn't really put off by them and never really articulated my problems with the books clearly.

Slacktivist is critiquing the series around ten pages a week. It took him a few years to finish the first book and should start Tribulation Force (book 2) in November. He has really articulated the many, many problems the books have.

I told you I was easily swayed. My opinion has changed from "they aren't terrible" to "they are completely terrible".

In my defence, Slacktivist has an evangelical background, of a different sort than the authors, that lets him understand their religious message better than I. He is mostly upset by the appearance of glee the 'heroes' have that many will burn in Hell. There is a strong feeling of "I told you so. Nya-nya!" in the book.

The other problem, one I had noticed, was how things were so normal in the book. Every child under the age of ...well, around puberty, is gone from the Earth as are all the Real Christians. Between one and two billion people. In addition, many cars and planes crashed as the pilots disappeared. The world is in chaos - for an hour or so.

A character is wandering around an airport after the Rapture (which took these many people away) and outside the window crashed aircraft are burning and pilots are trying to land other jets amid the wreckage. The character meets a doctor who is 'bored' and offers to treat the character's head wound. I guess the doctor didn't look out the window at the hundreds of people who needed his help.

No one seems to notice, a day or two after the Rapture, that all the kids are gone. Another character's house is robbed and his son's toys are stolen - why? There are no children and no babies will be born for the next nine months.

Anyway, the books are bad but the blog is great. Slacktivist.

I just finished reading Mean and Lowly Things, a description of a researcher's work and troubles collecting snakes in the Congo. Although the descriptions of the insects and parasites are off-putting, this researcher is living the life I thought I would be when I was young. As with the researcher, I had a fascination with snakes from my early childhood. As she is from Ontario, we even saw many of the same snakes. For some reason I ended up here in Korea but vicariously feel I was there with her catching snakes, venomous and not, in trying conditions.

Quirks and Quarks interview - bottom of page.

I grew up catching snakes but also reading Farley Mowat, who probably caught snakes, but certainly dozens of other animals, in his childhood. I loved his recollections of his childhood and his wolf research. There have been claims that his stories are more fiction than fact. He may have spent only two weeks studying wolves rather than a year and a half.

"The Toronto Star has written that Mowat's memoirs are at least partially fictional. In a 1968 interview with CBC Radio, Farley admitted that he doesn't let the facts get in the way of the truth (Canada Reads). Once, when Mowat said that he had spent two summers and a winter studying wolves, the Toronto Star wrote that Mowat had only spent 90 hours studying the wolves."

As I grew older, I learned that he was, well, an out-sized personality. A friend of the family, in the OPP, was seconded to guard the Premiere of Ontario. At an event, they met Mowat, who drank directly from the punchbowl (or some other hijink). In the car, after the event, the Premiere and the guard agreed he was a bit of a jerk (sterner language was used but I forget and am concerned about privacy).

While at university, I had a lab instructor from Memorial U (in Newfoundland). I mentioned that Mowat was a hero of mine and he was upset and amused, but held back, protecting my naivety. They don't care for him much in Newfoundland.

Anyway, I have huge, fond feelings for him and his work and felt terrible when I saw the write up for Otherwise. "Product Description
A Canadian icon gives us his final book, a memoir of the events that shaped this beloved writer and activist."
His final book? I know the guy's in his eighties, but 'final book' sounds, well, final. I want him to relax and enjoy life, but I feel sad to see the door closed and slammed shut. So far as I know, by the way, he is still alive.

On the topic of books that make me feel sad about their authors, Terry Pratchett has a new one out. Nation looks interesting and I will probably get it when it comes out in softcover. I am not a serious Pratchett fan but read a book or two of his a year - at that rate, it will be many years before I run out; he is remarkable prolific. But also, he has Alzheimer's Disease.
"On 11 December 2007, Pratchett posted online that he had been newly diagnosed with a very rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, which he said "lay behind this year's phantom 'stroke'." He has a rare form of the disease called posterior cortical atrophy, in which areas at the back of the brain begin to shrink and shrivel.[12] Pratchett appealed to people to "keep things cheerful", and proclaimed that "we are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism."[26] Leading the way, Pratchett stated that he feels he has time for "at least a few more books yet."...

All the best to him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spy Astronaut Trainee in Sokcho this weekend

Sokcho is holding a Science festival - or possibly a science fair - this weekend and I am a little so that I will be away and miss it.

I found this poster today advertising that Go-san, one of the top two candidates for Korea's trip into space on a Russian rocket, will be at the festival.

I am not sure if he is a role model. He was chosen, out of several thousand applicants, I think, to be Korea's first astronaut, which makes him the perfect spokesperson for science. On the other hand he lost his chance to fly when he was caught possibly spying, and stealing information to give to Hyundai. That doesn't make for much of a role model.

Possibly, it was an over-reaction by the Russians. If I were on the flight, I might want to know more about how the rocket I'd be trusting my life to worked.

More about espionage story at the Marmot and at GI Korea. Micheal Hurt had more on the final choice for astronaut on his Video Podcast list.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kwandongbrian becomes (or recognizes that I always have been) an old crank

This kind of thing always irritates me but especially when I am travelling with the little guy.

If you can't park the car, don't buy a car!

The signs on the windows read "no parking". If I knew how to say, "stay off the frikkin' sidewalk", that's what they'd say.

And kids, stay off my yard! Why, when I was that age, I knew...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bus safety tools, old school

I saw this on a bus in Gangneung on Friday. There was one modern hammer; small, light, red with a tiny, specially designed, glass-shattering head. That was next to the bus driver. At the back of the bus were a pair of these blacksmithing tools.
Strangely, this may be the third photo of a hammer to be used in emergencies for breaking glass (Previously here and I think there was one from the same place a year earlier.) I should make it a label or something.

Exams tomorrow: that means 44 one-t0- one oral exams in a job interview format.

Fantastic weekend

Friday, I swam in the ocean at Kyeongpo Beach, Saturday I chased salmon and today I soaked and took the waters at Waterpia with my son.

The big news is that Waterpia now has two Local's days, the first and third Sunday of each month (not peak months - July and August).

The bad news is that the price for locals is now 9,000won. That's not so bad. That's a bit more than Seorak Pines charges for local evey day but Seorak Pines, while entirely satisfactory, is not as extensive at Waterpia.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Keeping up with Lao-ocean Girl, and shame

I have always burned with Envy at Lao-Ocean Girl and the El Camino Packer for the way they got onto the Salmon Fest sign.

Ha. Here I am, with only two hangers on -coworkers. And there's more.
Man, the sun really bothers my eyes. Lao-Ocean and her cronies certainly look better than I ever will.

Anyway, the 'more' part is that I got paid!
The photographer who took the shot recognized me and asked a tourism rep for Yangyang county to talk to me about my photo. She apologized for posting the pic without asking for permission and gave me 60,000won of Festival gift certificates in recompense.

Now the shame part. I have been to a few salmon fests and consider myself quite the salmon hunter, typically catching several and handing them off to less skillful collectors.

This year, I was skunked. Now, I had the little guy in one arm the whole time so was limited in how fast or far I could reach but still, I thought I was the salmon catching master.

To rub salt in the wounds, because I had already given my belated permission to use my photo, they wanted to shoot me again this year. They had to collect a salmon from the holding pen for me and when they gave it too me, I was gloveless and it slipped away so they had to get a second one for me. By this time, I had a glove so the photo was finally taken.

The water was fantastic and if I had both someone to watch the little guy and a dry change of clothes, I would have swam and played with the fish.

Oh, speaking of acknowledging photos and such, the El Camino Packer took the shot on my masthead of me swimming in the surf (Left side, top). Thanks. No 60,000won for you. Oh, thanks for the video in the post below.

Thanks, El camino packer

On Friday, I met the El Camino Packer and I tried out his stand up paddleboard. He arrived at the beach before I did and I walked to the water's edge seeing him paddling nonchalantly along.

I tried to be polite and listen to him as he explained how to use the board but I was mostly thinking, "Let go!"

Turns out, it isn't nearly as easy as he makes it look. Below should be a video (I can't see it while editing) of me trying to paddle his board while he narrates.

Salmon Fest

Its Saturday morning and I can see we will have great weather for the festival. Part of the fest - the best part- is wading in the river, catching salmon in your gloved hands. Last year, we practically wore winter clothes from the knees up and stumbled around on numb feet. This year we can stumble around in shorts!

Actually, I may not go in. We didn't buy a ticket but I just want to watch and show the little guy the fish.

I may still have salmon in the freezer from last year.

More, and more blogging in general, after the fest.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

blogging and Blogger

Blogger has a new feature called 'Following'. If readers so choose, they can become 'followers' of this blog. Its an interesting idea and a reasonable extension of blogs as popularity contests. It may be similar to the number of friends you have on Facebook; publicly available knowledge of how popular you are - in this case, only if your readers use blogger (or have a blogger ID, I guess) which sure limits the number by a half or two thirds, I think. In my case, fifteen blogs that I read daily are on blogspot out of just over thirty. I can, but have not yet, add a widget to my blog listing my follower(s) -one for now, so it is not that exciting. I can also read the blogs in a reader on Blogger, whether or not they are on Blogspot.

Ironically, I use it now for the blogs that aren't updated frequently - Party Pooper, I'm talking about you - for the feed. I know that the Marmot will have new material up every day and even a few times a day, so I might as well go there and have access to comments as well as posts. This means I am mostly a follower of relatively static blogs. "Nothing much happens on your blog so I follow you" is the message I am really sending. Of course, if I pick up a few more followers then, I would add the widget and add others to my following list but, for now, its not that useful.

To be clear, I am not asking or urging others to 'follow' me, just commenting on the value or lack of value of the feature.

Something unexpected happened a few weeks ago in the comments on this blog. Three years ago, I discussed a newspaper review of Sokcho and picked up an unrelated comment about an adoptee whose family, unknown, is/was living in Sokcho.

It is an interesting comment, in that the adoptee got into serious legal trouble -apparently he killed a man -and is in jail and, I guess, looking into his background as a way to relieve the boredom. A friend of the man wrote the comment as the man injail cannot access the internet.

Anyway, a month ago, another person, anonymous, left a comment about the man; cheifly saying that he should be "six feet closer to hell for what he did...". I struggled with the issue of deleting or posting the comment and, today, have posted it. I am not clear in my mind why I posted it and am interested in comments what you would have done.

I do not have a policy, in my head, or posted, on comments and perhaps I should make one. I do not see it as a censorship issue as the anonymous poster could make his/her own blog, even while remaining anonymous, and post the comments. I sympathize with the man in jail a little, even though I know almost nothing about how or why he is there (presumably he murdered someone) but I am also a law and order type ( the son and grandson of policemen) and definitely sympathize with anyone who lost a friend or family member to violence.

Friday, October 03, 2008

War in Seoul

My father, as a member of the Ontario Provincial Police, battled biker gangs in Wasaga Beach during the May 24 Weekend (A Canadian holiday - Queen Victoria's birthday, I think) several years in a row. I was too young to know about it but apparently he would come home bleeding on occasion.

I was intrigued, then, to hear that "Seoul Declares War Against Bikers". Turns out they aren't related. I don't think there are motorcycles gangs of the Hell's Angel sort here. There will soon be a crackdown on motorcyclists - mostly delivery-people - who drive on sidewalks and park illegally.

I am happy to hear about the former and suspicious about the latter. I haven't had much trouble here in Sokcho but occasionally did in Seoul and annoyingly frequently in Masan, with motorcyclists driving on the sidewalk. In Masan, they would even bump into my leg and honk the horn. I learned to not move out of the way of the jerk.

The crackdown on illegal parking is a good idea, but why pick on motorcycles and motorcyclists? Motorcycles don't take up much room; start the parking crackdown on cars. Get the f---ing cars off the sidewalks. Get them off the crosswalks. Then, worry about the parked motorcycles. Heck, do that concurrently, just be sure to include cars.

One commenter on the Korean Times article claims the crackdown will not work because police will not be able to catch fast moving motorcycles. I agree that the crackdown will not work - or will work for only a short time, but not for the reason the commenter gave. We aren't talking about open roads and racing, we're talking about parking (pretty much the opposite of racing) and driving on sidewalks, which is done because the roads are jammed with traffic. If the motorcycles had clear roads to drive quickly on, they wouldn't be on the sidewalk in the first place.

By the way, what's keeping my pizza?
Possibly related.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


The right side of my face, paralyzed for two weeks by Bell's Palsy, is becoming more mobile. My hideous left-side-only smile of a week ago is now a somewhat less hideous one with the right side at least stretching a little. In time it will be the hardly-hideous-at-all smile I always had.

I am blinking comfortably again and able to read and use the computer mostly painlessly.

I have a way to go yet, but I feel so much better. There were some dark days when I wondered what job I could pick up that didn't require me to speak much or to read or focus my vision. Not everyone can be a Korea Herald proofreader.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chinese fishermen kill Korean Coast Guard Officer

This has been covered on other blogs and I have nothing new to say. I join the other bloggers in hoping the fisherman, illegally fishing in Korean waters, are sent to a Fuck-you-up-the-ass type of prison for a long, long time.

I'm glad my wife is on the quieter East Coast.

The Marmot
GI Korea
Korea Times

Saturday, September 27, 2008

October festivals

I am sure the nightingale singers are wonderful. It is too bad they transposed the words "dept" and "nursing". I hope I have covered the name of the university sufficiently well but if you want to hear them sing, ask me for the university's name. They perform October 1 in Sokcho.

Snarkiness aside, there are three festivals that look interesting. I have only preliminary information now but I will try to post updates.

Sokcho Hotspring Festival. The website can be found here (Best on IE). Oct 10-16. Its a little strange that the festival ends on a Thursday. Sokcho seems to have many hot springs but don't expect a rustic pool on a mountain slope surrounded by pine - Korean hotsprings are universally piped into buildings to make Bathhouses-with-special-water. Case in point is the Chuksan Hotspring (척산온천장), which is entirely serviceable but is little more than a small bathhouse. There is another location with a similar name on Sokcho City bus 3 route that might be more extensive - I don't know because they didn't give me a discount coupon.
Also on bus route 3 are Seorak Pines and Waterpia, both of which offer hot spring water in a variety of settings and other pools. Seorak Pines has a 18 metre exercise pool, a full bathhouse (for naked use), and five outdoor pools and two saunas (co-ed, bathing suits required). I think it is 18,000 won for a day, locals half price.
Waterpia has everything. There is a full bathhouse (again, single gender), two wave pools, a children's pool, an exercise pool and several outdoor hottubs. It is expensive (around 30,000 won) but locals have a cheap day on the third Sunday of each non-peak(not summer) month.
Dae-myeong Condo has a Water park of some sort that I plan to visit soon so I can comment on it. From the window, it seems nice and costs around 22,000won - no discount for locals. I don't if it, or indeed any of the hotsprings I have mentioned have special deals for the festival - the offical website mostly described the Miss Hotspring contest - I hope it involves bikinis!

Immediately after the hotspring festival is a fantastic weekend of events. On Oct 18-19, Sokcho has a 'Culture Festival' - more details to follow but it includes a Gaet-bae race - At Expo Park, Chungcho Lake, two human-powered ferries are set up and I think that teams of five race them about fifty metres and back. I don't know about the rest of the fest, but that looks like a lot of fun and I hope I can find a team to enter.
At the same time is the Salmon Festival in Yangyang - twenty minutes away by bus. The highpoint of the festival is catching salmon in the river by hand. When you catch a salmon, you keep it. Actually, I just cuaght salmon and let them go until the time limit was almost up then caught one to take home. Ah, I let them go back into the netted part of the river so others could catch them- I have often fantasized about standing at the net and catching salmon and releasing them into the open river to be free but have never done so. (Gangwon Notes, Lao Ocean, official site).

I think this weekend should also be good for fall colours - one might have a busy weekend enjoying all on offer.

The next weekend, nothing will be happening here because KwandongBrian will be in Seoul for the KOTESOL conference. As the Geek will tell you, registering is a bother - you have to transfer money to an individual's account (David Shaffer - I believe he is on the board) which is common in Korea but seems a little hinky. He is also unexcited by the speakers - I am sure he means no disrespect to the giant Joe Seoul Man who will be presenting, ah, something. I plan to meet Joe for lunch on Saturday but hope also to see the Geek - and any readers of this blog.

Friday, September 26, 2008

my son, mocking the way I eat

I promise that the next post, whatever it is about, will not be about Bell's Palsy. After that, no guarantees.

Here, KwandongAlex is teasing me for the way I pinch the right side of my lips together to avoid drooling and spilling the food. His mimicry is spot on, although I am not so cheerful about it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Han ui won

Despite my misgivings, I think the Oriental doctor performed a valuable service. I don't know the theories behind Oriental medicine, but most of the treatment seemed focused on stimulating the unresponsive muscles and, well, the whole right side of my face.

I am reminded that in university, perhaps in Vertebrate zoology, the professor told us that even though there were no good cures for damage to the spine, sometimes making an incision near the spine causes healing to the spine. It is as if the body, while healing the cut, healing elements are focused on the area and work on nearby problems as well.

I told him, among other things, that talking in class gave me a literal pain in the neck. He poked around and found a tender spot.

Part of the treatment requires that I massage the right side of my face, pushing upward with strength, 100 times and doing that ten to twenty times a day.

Then, it was time for needles and suction cups.

I should look in the mirror and see if I have a hickey now.

Here, electricity is pulsed through the needles, jerking my cheek and face muscles around.

There was also a needle in the web of my left hand - I don't know why.

The doctor told me to avoid cold water -for bathing, not necessarily for drinking. I am not sure why and I am unlikely to follow this restriction.