Saturday, May 30, 2009

Walking festival at Seoraksan

I tried linking to the below picture rather than downloading and uploading it again.  The result is, it is full size, although only half can be seen on this page.  After you have read the article thoroughly, you have my permission to click the map to see it in it's entirety. 

The festival takes place at Seorak National Park.  This is the fifth annual and I have not attended one, but have always wanted to.  I hope to do the 20km course although if I am dragging a rugrat (always the loving father), I will do the 5 km course. The website is here.

The 20 km course is only on Saturday, which also has three 10 km courses and a 5 km course.  Sunday has only the 5 km and 10 km courses.

He's a lady's man

As part of their game, which involved me chasing them, the little guy just naturally took his playmate's hand and held it through the chase.
Smooth, yes, but not that chivalrous.  When I, the monster, got too close, he let her go and escaped alone.

Sokcho City Tour

KwandongAlex was excited about riding a double-decker bus and I was excited about being a tourist in my own town again.  Here are our adventures.

First, the schedule, below, is already wrong.  In a larger sense, it was always wrong, as the bench was built in front of the information -wrong planning.  More practically, there are now two courses and two buses, rather than one covering the whole route.  The double decker covers points north and along the coast, while the single level bus -still very nice- goes inland and to Seoraksan.
Both leave Expo Park, near Expo Tower and the main entrance to the lake-side park.  I think both buses start at 9:00am, but we caught the second tour.  The inland bus departs at 10:22 and the double decker at 10:30.  The third tour starts at 12:50.
Here, we are on Sokcho Bridge, looking down at the human powered ferry.
The tour went through a fish market near the lighthouse and people could ask for a stop, but none did so we headed on to Cheung-kan-jeong, a pavilion north of Sokcho proper.

We spent twenty minutes there which was just enough to see the pavilion and jog (I'm not kidding) the riverside walkway and still have time for a bathroom break before climbing back aboard the bus.  Next stop, Youngnang Lake Resort.

I debated getting off the bus there and eating and looking around for the two and a half hours until the next bus would arrive.  There is plenty to do there but perhaps not 150 minutes worth.

The next stop was the inter-city bus terminal.  Soon thereafter, I saw a woman balancing what looked like wall paper on her head as she walked comfortably down the street.
Soon, we were back at Expo Park.

Although I have described it as a double decker bus, they cheat a little to make it so.  I am not that tall but couldn't straighten up on the first level, which was quite small.  The engine filled the back third or so of the first floor.  Youngman buses: German technology, Chinese prices.
We didn't ride the other bus as the route looked long for the little guy to just sit.  Also, the first bus had been comfortable and the driver skilled enough, but the roads were narrow and required a lot of swaying and sudden stops - not great for a youngster who gets car sick.

Oh, the fee for a day was 5,000 won.  We could have gotten off the bus and reboarded as often as we liked.  There were the two courses and the buses run five times a day.  Most of the passengers were women in their late fifties and older, although I don't know how well the tour has been advertised

Clean ocean, clean ...?

I am in the midst of helping my wife translate some slogans for the Coast Guard.  Apparently, the ocean is green as I am seeing that word come up a lot.

How does 'Love the ocean with your heart, clean it with your hands" sound?  "...clean it with your actions"?

Speaking of cleaning, a resort in Switzerland is offering a course in "mountain cleaning".  Yes, it is a spoof and I am late on reporting an April fool's joke, but the idea is a good one.  Do the cleanup, don't just write slogans about it!

Obligatory post on Roh Mu-hyeon

I consider myself a regional blogger, although I do follow a few national and international issues.  Politics is not my beat and I was happy to let the other blogs discuss the ex-president's suicide.

Still, here is a chance to post another pic of my little guy, posing now with a memorial ribbon, the meaning of which he has no idea.

He seems proud of it, though.

The post I like best, of those other bloggers I mentioned, is Roboseyo's.  He describes the many ways the suicide was the wrong thing to do.
Hmm, I thought I had read a bit suggesting that Roh might have had the chance to recover from bad decisions and gain a positive international image, much as failed-president-but-Nobel-prize-winner Jimmy Carter did.  I can't find it now.  I might have been thinking of another blogpost by someone else. I still like Roboseyo's though.

Friday, May 29, 2009

part of a carcinogenic Hansel and Gretel Story

Over the last month, upon arriving at work early, I have found the steps to our fifth floor office awash in cigarette butts.  In comparing notes with a coworker, he used the phrase in the title to describe the scene.

The New York Times has an article about the toxicity of cigarette butts. An excerpt:

For many environmentalists, the problem is not just the litter, but the toxicity. Thomas Novotny, a professor of global health at San Diego State University who supports the San Francisco proposal and beach bans elsewhere, said recent experiments had shown that one butt has enough poisons to kill half the minnows in a liter of water — a standard laboratory test for toxins — in 96 hours.

“Butts are full of poisonous substances, including nicotine, which is a pesticide,” Professor Novotny said.

Part of the article describes butts at the beach.  In my youth, after feeding gulls bits from a slice of bread, I would switch to butts found in the sand to trick them for another ten minutes or so.  Clearly, the problem isn't a new one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gorbachev and the Peace Bell

The Joongang and the Korea Times (for some reason the Times is labelled as a secure site with a bad certificate report.  What up with the 'https' ?), as it happens, that Mikhail Gorbachev (or, as the Joongang writes it, "Gorvachev" - is this a Cyrillic to English thing or did the name travel through Hangeul en route?) was in Gangwondo.  I guess I hadn't been following the news as that is something I would like to learn ahead of time.

Here he is, ringing the Peace Bell in Hwacheon (Joongang):

From the Times:
The World Peace Bell is made of empty cartridge cases from battlefields from some 30 conflict regions, including Palestine, Ethiopia and Colombia. Created in the style of a Buddhist bell from the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 936), it will be rung to mark World Peace Day, which falls on the third Saturday of every September, Hwacheon officials said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

tenuous connection between the late President Roh and Yangyang county

In the Joongang, there is a sappy farewell to the recently deceased ex-president Roh Mu-hyeon, comparing him to a salmon of the sort that swims up the NamDae River in Yangyang.

Salmon return to lay eggs in the Namdaechon River in Gangwon Province, where they were born, after a three to four-year journey of thousands of miles through the northern Pacific Ocean near Alaska. [Kangwon Ilbo]
I was not a particular fan of him when he was alive and though I can find the strength to not badmouth him now that he is past, I cannot join in the praise he is receiving from the same people to attack him last week.

Salmon are cool, though.

Long waits at hospitals?

I have only received excellent care at Korean hospitals.  Typically, if I am sick and need to visit emerg, I wait less than twenty minutes.  Actually, I have never waited longer than 20 minutes here.

That conflicts with a Korea Herald report:

The time a patient spends in an emergency room could be as long as 14 hours in Busan. On the other hand, in North Gyeongsang Province, the average time spent in an emergency room was about two hours.

Indeed, the review found great regional disparities in the availability and quality of emergency care. Busan and Gwangju did not have any regional emergency medical center that met the legal requirements while all of the regional emergency medical centers in Gangwon and South Chungcheong provinces fulfilled the requirements.

I hae had friends, however, who have horror stories based on visits to doctors here.  One woman, asking about an injured ankle was told, "no solution, always disabled." - The problem has, indeed, been solved.

Another friend with leg problems is the El Camino Packer.  His own surfboard treacherously have him the Nancy Kerrigan treatment and now his knee is in bad shape.  I hope he recovers quickly.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Archeology on Chungdae Mountain

First, what I think is an immature magpie, the first I have ever seen.
As I climbed up Chungdae mountain, I saw some university-aged men heading down with farm tools in their hands.  I was surprised until I saw the taped off area at the peak.

At first, I thought they were digging to  pour concrete or something construction-related.
However, seeing brushes in their hands made me rethink things.

Finally, I saw these shells and realized they are unearthing Korean War vintage artifacts.
I wonder what else they will find and what made them decide to search there in the first place.  I guess Gangwon was one big battlefield so they could conceivably dig anywhere.

On the street

I have seen temporary bridges along every river from here south to the Yangyang border.  I predict a long, hit summer of construction work.  There seems to be a formatting problem -sorry if all this is underlined.
A local taeKwonDo school is upset about President Roh Mu-hyeon's death.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This is what I want.

With every new class, I change rooms.  On Wednesday, I change rooms five times, but teach the same material, so I end up writing the same agenda and phrases on the whiteboard five times - and in a rush.  If you knew what my hand writing looked like, you would feel pity for my students.  If I take my time to write something, it becomes legible, but never pleasing.

According to KoreaBeat, some schools will try moving the students from class to class rather than the teachers.  This is for high and middle school students rather than university, but I am pleased with they will experiment with the new plan.

I hope it is clear why teachers would like the idea - and not merely for selfish reason, either.  Our time spent preparing and organizing will decrease, meaning we can spend more time with the students, actually teaching.

I was surprised, but interested, to hear a reason why some teachers and administrators might be against the change.  It is a good reason, just one I hadn’t thought of.  If students stay in one room, they can care for that room, possibly decorate it and keep it clean because they have to spend time in it - they might feel ownership for that room. “I want to keep the room clean, because I don’t want to sit in a pigsty for six hours a day”.

That’s a good reason for high schools and in understanding why it isn’t a good reason at my university teaches me a little about the bigger picture.  Our students are already moving from class to class.  They come to our building (strangely, the engineering building) for English then move to a different building or floor for their next class.  First and second year students are taught one hour by a native speaker and one hour by a Korean English teacher.  Every hour, then, I switch classes and maybe this is reasonable.


One person moves or twenty.  One person packs and unpacks a book, an attendance book, class notes, pens and markers, homework, prepares the whiteboard... or twenty students pack and unpack one or two books and a pen.

Yeah, ergonomically, I should move.  But Koreans should understand my unique and special history. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

bicycles in the news

Somewhat creepy, but definitely well-experienced designer, Andre Kim, is now working on bicycles.  The Joongang article describes his bikes a little and also mentions Chanel and Gucci as other new entrants into the bicycle market.
Korean designer Andre Kim says he wants to bring color to bicycles, pictured right with models. Provided by Freya Hatlem-Olsen

Meanwhile, also from the Joongang (via Marmot's Hole), police in Ulsan have created a bicycle squad.

A newly organized 11-member police bicycle squad carries out its first patrol in the city of Ulsan after its inauguration on Thursday. The squad is the first of its kind in Korea organized by a local metropolitan police agency.[NEWSIS]
Among other things mentioned in the article, bicycle police squads apparently improve the public's perception of the police.  I suppose it's hard to sleep in a quiet backstreet on a bicycle.  Less sarcastically, I expect that the ability of the police to interact more easily and the requirement to be more transparent (you can't hide much on a bicycle) will help.

If only the weather were better, I would add some personal cycling news.  Alas, I can only look out the window at the falling rain.

Dracula sneezes

I am sick, although I am told tonsillitis is not contagious, and am more conscious of disease-spreading behaviors.

On the bus yesterday, a man in front of me was resting with his arm over his eyes.  He coughed many times, but at least he didn't spray his own eyes.

In class a student coughed loudly and vigorously in my general direction without covering his mouth.  Well, many students do that, but this one had taken a winter course with me an dI knew him fairly well so I teased him and told him, and the class about "Dracula sneezes".

The photo is from the print version of Time.  Here is the online version with no picture.

It took me a while  to figure out why they sneezed into their elbows.  This way they can still use their hands without undue concern.  They can shake hands or touch door knobs or the like.

Tuesday night I went to Emerg and was given a needle and two days worth of medicine and told to come back during business hours to see the proper doctor.  When I returned, yesterday, after having been coughed on and the like, I also bought alcohol swabs to disinfect my hands when I am away from a fully-equipped bathroom sink (At the university the sinks have cold water, no soap and no towels.  Some people use a wad of toilet paper to dry their hands but I worry too much about people later in the day who may need that TP more desperately).  The pharmacist who helped me choose the alcohol swabs seemed to roll her eyes a little at why I was buying them as if she thought I was a hypochondriac, but I am tired of being sick.

Actually, as I think about it a little, she rolled her eyes at me the same way I rolled my eyes at a co-worker who would always open push-doors by pushing at the top of the door, not the commonly-used handle.  Sorry, Bill.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Start your article with a hook

In the Korea Herald is an article about SCUBA diving in Korea and the title is "2nd best place to enjoy summer: under water".  I love to swim and dive; so much so that I have to wonder what could possibly rank higher.  In reading the article, I still wonder.  (Related: if this is their second best idea, what was their first?)

From the article:

She said diving contribute to a healthier lifestyle for expats for a number of reasons. First, she said diving is a very safe sport because you're not exposed to any possible injuries that often occur in sports we play on the ground.

"Diving underwater increases your cardio-vascular endurance and allows you to experience what it is like to move in a four-dimensional world like in space."

She said cardio-vascular endurance is the ability of the heart, blood vessels, blood and respiratory system to supply oxygen and fuel to muscles at a steady rate for a considerable length of time.


"Also, my love for the nature has driven me to learn more about it, and made me realize we, as divers, have so much to do to protect and preserve the marine life, which is surprisingly damaged a lot by old fishing methods, pollution on the land, deforestation, you name it. The more I dive, the more I want to get out there to make a difference, even if it's just by picking up garbage in the water."

  I need to make two snarky comments.  Again, I love SCUBA diving and feel it is a safe sport, but it needs significant training.  I think there are many who would question the relative safety of SCUBA compared to tennis, for example.  Still, it is not hard on your joints -unless you get the bends, in which case your joints fill with nitrogen bubbles and you could DIE!

"Maneuver in a four-dimensional world?"  Alright, including time, I guess there are four dimensions, but not many people maneuver in that fourth dimension.

Okay, snarkiness over.  I like the idea that diving will make people more aware of the environment and work to protect it.  I believe that is true.  On the other hand, I have doven with Korean divers and diving can be a way to get fresh sushi.  I remember diving in Koje Island and pointing out an octopus I saw under a rock.  I turned away, then looked back to see the octopus being stuffed into a bag.  Later, the diver's daughter ate the ring of tentacle on a stick like an eight-legged lollipop.

Here in Sokcho, I see men and women out harvesting the bounty of the ocean to such an extent that I can't believe they leave anything behind.

It looks like Dano is next week

I often find out about various events just before or as they occur in Korea.  The Herald used to do travel reporting on festivals that were concurrent with the festival - not much time to make plans to attend.

Well, I am giving four days notice.  Dano festival starts on May 24th and run to the 31st.

This is Gangneung's biggest event.  Gangneung City Hall ran a tour for local foreigners last year and here are my posts (1, 2, 3).  City Hall actually ran two tours for foreigners, one for those living locally and one for those living further away.  The former tour was good and I learned a lot about the culture and history behind the event - and had a good time.  A coworker who didn't live in Gangneung last year took the latter tour and found it poorly organized and was unhappy with the whole thing.

Yangyang Airport on the BBC

That claim-jumping other Brian has imbedded video about our white elephant airport.

I guess the joke, if it were funny, is old now.  It's Brian in Jeollanam and I don't own Gangwon.

Born with the gift of laughter and the knowledge the world was mad

The quote above might be as true for me as it was for Sabitini's Scaramouch.

Random bit of bad news: KwandongAlex was sick and feverish ten days ago, KwandongWife was sick and feverish two days ago (and may still be) and now I, too, have tonsillitis.  It looks like I won't need surgery, just medicine and I've started taking the normal-for-Korea pack of six pills after each meal.

I have always had a cold or a runny nose.  I have a few allergies and foreigner's long nose but mine is pinched and narrow so all my life I have sneezed a few times a day -except now.  Tonsillitis has given me a sore throat but my breathing is so much clearer and easier.

I don't really understand the random illnesses I have had here. I've had pneumonia, Bells Palsy and now tonsillitis.  Bell's Palsy, in particular, is disease that strikes randomly and I've always considered myself too healthy to worry about pneumonia.

Random bit of good news: MSN Messenger on the Windows side side of the partition has 'found' the video camera so KwandongAlex chatted with GeorgianBayGrandma last night.  I had started to investigate why the camera wouldn't work, wasn't recognized, in Windows, but hadn't done anything.  Suddenly, now it works.  woo-hoo!

Oh, Scaramouch is a great, swashbuckling sort of movie, but the end of the book resorts to some ugly politics (for our era, at least) to sort out the plot.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

There's gold on Jo Island

Conditions looked right for a rainbow but I was in a canyon of apartment buildings, so I picked a random one, rode the elevator to the highest floor and walked the stairs to the roof to take these photos.

By chance, this apartment had a great view of Cheungcho Lake.  In the foreground  of the picture below are several rows of pipes.  They will be towed north at some point to a deep water plant that, I guess, draws the water from over a thousand meters down to the surface and desalinates it.  I don't know how distilling water (or whatever other method they use to desalinate it) from a pure source differs from using a contaminated source - removing the salt requires enough work that most every other contaminant will be removed as well.

I posted these pics in fairly large format, but they won't expand for me.  I hope they do for you.

Video Chatting

When MSN Messenger first came out, I put everyone I knew on my contact list and chatted with many of them frequently.  When circumstances allowed, I bought a web-cam and used it with a few people.

In the last two or more years, I have only chatted with my mother.  We chat using the web-cams so she can see her grandson -well, also to talk to me and such, but mostly for the chance to see her grandson that her cruel, unfeeling son keeps 10,000 km away.

In buying the new computer, an iMac with built in web-cam, I figured that video chat would improve or at least stay the same.

This is not the case.  Apple's iChat does not work with MSN Messenger.  I have the Windows OS as well and when I use it, the built in web-cam isn't found or recognized.  anyway, it isn't functional while using Windows.

Does anyone know if this is a problem with my version of Boot Camp?  I started checking an iMac forum, but was called away just as I started reading something on that subject.

I am tempted to set up Google Video Chat - I use Google for just about everything else - but it seems like a step backward.  I expected a new computer to expand my options (and it has, mostly) not simply exchange one option with another.  If I were changing because Google Chat were a better service, that would be one thing.  But to change due to software incompatibilities is another, less palatable thing.

Oh, I downloaded Chrome on the Windows side and I like it.  Very functional but without any flash (I mean ostentation, I guess it features Flash animation and the like).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sand sculpting in Donghae

From the Joongang:
...1st Korean International World Sand Sculpting Championship and Exhibition in Donghae 2009. The sand sculpting event, in Gangwon Province, will take place May 16 to June 28 with 30 artists from 15 nations. 

The WSSA (World Sand Sculpting Association) says the event finishes on the 17th, while the Korea Times confirms the original dates and specifies the location as Mangsang Beach, just north of Donghae and near the whale museum I visited earlier.
As an aside, look at the spelling of Korea in the Google results for my search.

An Influential English Daily in South Kroea

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | 9:17 p.m. ET ... A careful touch: A sculptor repairs a sand replica of Sungnyemun, which was burnt down last year, in preparation of the 1st Korean International World Sand Sculpting Championship and Exhibition in Donghae, Gangwon Province, Thursday. The event will be held through Saturday ..

This was the link for the Times.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sokcho doesn't care about swine flu

Who would plan a 'hog rally' at a time like this?

Actually, I'm trying to find a place for the little guy to see a few Harleys.

Teacher's day fake out

This morning, in my nine AM class, a student arrived late, really late.  She is normally a strong student so I didn't feel she had slept in or any such thing.  Also, she came to class with a armful of flowers.

The words,  "Thank you" whispered, luckily, escaped before I could stop myself.  I tried to ignore the flowers and continue class, all the time thinking, 'today is Teacher's Day.'

At the end of class, a student gave me a 200ml bottle of orange juice.  The flowers were either for or from her boyfriend -yesterday was Rose Day, another triumph of Korean marketing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First ride of the year and 'Somdari' review

I rode my bike nearly to Naksan Temple, which isn't a long trip.  On the other hand, my legs are sore this evening, but not aching; the ride might have been the perfect length.

I started by riding to a Naksan Temple on fire!

Relax, it wasn't on fire, but some metal certainly reflected a lot of sun at the base of the Kwaneum Statue.
Closer, we can see a few trees are growing on the hillside.

On the south side of the temple, on Highway 7, at Seorak Beach, is Somdari Chocolate.
I stopped in and the chocolatier gave me a glass of water without my asking.  After looking around, I ordered an ice chocolate drink for 5,000 won.

It was fantastic!  Strong and rich and sweet enough that I had to ask for another glass of water once I had finished it.  Like Travolta in Reservior Fiction (or whatever the movie was called), I have trouble paying five thousand won for a chocolate drink, but this may well have been worth it.
They make chocolates onsite and they all looked good, although the box titled, "Seafood chocolate" gave me pause.  I don't think they were serving Korea's version of Monty Python's chocolate Frog (it has a frog, lightly killed, in it), but rather some interesting translation work.

I plan to return to try the clam chowder they also serve.  It does appear to have seafood in it.
Anyway, after my stop, I headed home, taking an inland route, increasing my total distance to 25km.  I would like to ride to work in the last week of May and that's around 70km, so I have some work to do.

1st North Korean Defector living in Gangwondo

Here is a man who just seems comfortable.

From the Chosun, comes a biography of Rhee Young-gwang, the first defector from North Korea.  His defection is particularly interesting as North Korea was doing better economically at the time.


As a 21-year-old North Korean soldier, Rhee Young-gwang crossed the border and came to South Korea in the night of Sept. 18, 1967, just three months after he entered the military. At a press conference one month afterwards, Rhee said, "I came here to travel the world." Intelligence agents and journalists alike had a hard time with his seemingly preposterous reason for defection at the height of the Cold War. 

Now, 42 years later, Rhee is living deep in the mountain in Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, having chosen a philosophical life in nature rather than globetrotting.

Rhee Young-gwang (right) and his wife, Park An-jaRhee Young-gwang (right) and his wife, Park An-ja

But travel is still on his mind. "My dream is to sail from the East Sea down to the South Sea and then to the Yellow Sea and reach the Yalu and Tumen Rivers in a rubber boat when the Koreas are unified. Then I would like to go to Fiji and live peacefully until I die," Rhee says.


The papers are full of good news!

Another inspiring story, this time from the Joongang.  Climber Um Hong-gil, completed a promise he had made 23 years ago to build a school in Nepal where a fallen Sherpa had lived.

Mr Um was previously mentioned here in March.

Good for him

Olympic Gold Medalist Bak Tae-hwan met with swimmer-with-a-disability*, Kim Sae-jin recently to offer support and coaching advice.

From the article:

Beijing Olympic gold medalist Park Tae-hwan, 20, has inspired a junior disabled swimmer.

Only recently did was it known that Park met Kim Sae-jin, 13, a junior swimmer with congenital dysplasia, on April 14 in a swimming pool in Gangnam, southern Seoul.

According to SK Telecom Sports, Park's swim team, the two swimmers met right after Kim's dream, which was a meeting with Park, also known as "Marine Boy," was conveyed to Park. Their meeting was filmed by MBC-TV. It will air on the "MBC Human Docu Sarang" program on May 15.

Kim went through hardships in life despites his age. He was born with a limb deformity and he was adopted when he was only five months old. Luckily, his supportive mother, Yang Jung-sook, 41, and his own willpower gave him the strength to lead a productive life.

The junior swimmer's hard work finally paid off; Kim won seven medals, including three gold medals, in Britain's National Junior Swimming League that took place in Sheffield in March.

Meeting with Park was dream come true for Kim. This promising swimmer always wished for three things; meeting Park Tae-hwan, participating in London Paralympics (Olympics for the disabled) and becoming a member of the national swimming team.

I have nothing but good things to say about this.

The more I read about Mr Bak though, the more I realize I'm old fashioned about sports.  I know amateur sports teams are taking on more blatant sponsorship deals every year, but I still don't like it.  What kind of name for a swim team is SK Telecom Sports? By the way, I would love to get back into coaching, so if SK Telecom wanted a Canada-trained coach/ ESL teacher, I might be available.


Around 15 years ago, Canadian sports groups changed the names for describing athletes with disabilities.  It was felt that " disabled swimmer", for example, with 'disabled' at the beginning, unduly emphasized the disability.  "Swimmer with a disability", puts the person first.  It's a good idea but around 14 years ago, I usually saw "SWAD" in competition programs and to call someone a SWAD seems little improvement.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Sleep in class, get post online!
Is the blur tool useful for anonymity or just creepy?
A second year student.
A first year student.

Well, KwandongAlex was taken

This man is not my son.

I like the blur feature for obscuring phone numbers and such.

Monday, May 11, 2009


There's nothing special about this butterfly.  Like all butterflies, it's beautiful.  I guess I'm just showing off the macro feature of my new camera.  The original photo on my screen is much bigger than the live version.

Cyworld: Explorer, Firefox and Safari

As part of their homework, third year students are required to make three videos through the semester. Most post their videos to Cyworld and send me a link. I am able to access most of these videos with any of the three browsers I use.

Well, until two weeks ago, I used Firefox almost all the time and Explorer the rest. These days, I use Safari (Apple's browser). if it doesn't work, I shut down, change OS and try Firefox. Finally, I try Explorer. Explorer always works but I wonder about viruses and spyware, feeling that Firefox offers more protection. Sarfari apparently offers so much protection I don't see any anti-virus software or concerns.

Anyway, today, I was able to watch all but four videos on Safari. The "mini-hompy"s (a typical Korean abreviation of Mini -homepage) didn't even open. On Firefox, they opened, but the video wouldn't play. Finally, after re-entering my login data manytimes, I was able to get to my emails in Explorer, follow the link and watch the video.

Maybe, for completeness, I should try Chrome, Google's browser.
One other thing about Safari is that when I hover over a link, the link doesn't appear anywhere for me to read. In Firefox and Explorer, I can see the link URL before clicking on it. I like that better.

Warning: Feral bear loose near Wonju!

It escaped from a farm in 2007 and wants to eat your huney!  No word if there is also a tigger loose.
From the Korea Times:
Regional environmental agencies, civic group Korea Wild Animal and the Plant Service Association along with other experts are to carry out the shooting, though a final attempt to catch the bear alive will be made. 

Local residents have welcomed the decision. 

Manchurian black bears are on the verge of extinction and natural monument No. 329. 

The ministry has imported 27 from North Korea and the Maritime Province of Siberia since 2004 as part of a restoration project.

However, those bred at farms are ``hybrids,'' which are genetically different from those that are government-protected, environmental officials said. They are bred for meat and gall, which is known to be good for men's stamina.

I think they are using a different definition of 'known" than the one I am familiar with.  Perhaps, here, it means something more like, "believing in a crazy-ass superstition despite all evidence to the contrary and allowing horrible suffering for financial gain".

The bear could be a threat to people in the vicinity, although if it hasn't hurt anyone in two years it seems likely it won't in the future.  It is damaging crops and farmland and sadly, I have to admit that recapturing it or putting it down* are probably the best courses of action.

*I think of this euphemism everytime I suggest someone who is holding my son to set him on the floor.  It takes a real effort not to smile or grimace while saying, "put him down".

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Biryeong Falls, Seorak National Park

Today, the Coast Guard had their semi-annual picnic in Seoraksan and the picnic included a hike to Biryeong Falls.  As Kwandongwife is a coastie, the little guy and I were invited.

Although I thought I had been just about everyplace in the park, I had missed this place.

From the Seorak Dong entrance (closest to Sokcho), your choices are some seriously long hikes or several around 2-4 km.  These shorter hikes all seem to be pool table flat for eighty percent of the hike and ranging from steep to very steep for the final bit.  The hike to Biryeong is no exception and wheelchairs could probably make the first kilometer and a half.  The final 700 meters include a lot of steel stairs, some with fencing overhead to stop or slow down falling rocks.

The little guy had a fever through the night, but recovered in the morning.  Still, I didn't begrudge carrying him when he asked.  By the end of the event, he was tired and now he is feverish again.  I foresee a trip to the hospital soon.

Anyway, we saw a few animals along the way.
I caught this frog and showed him to my son.  After I returned him to his pond, a man told me to wash carefully.  I planned to, anyway, because the pond water was dirty and I was worried about parasites.  He explained, though, that he was concerned about poison.

The frog did have bright warning-style coloration, but only on it's wonderfully orange belly.  I didn't think there were poisonous frogs in Korea.  I did wash my hands and don't seem to have suffered any strange effects.

I was more cautious with the snake we saw and chose not to catch it.  It was about 30cm long and not at all afraid.
The hike started at an overflow parking lot 2km from the main entrance.  We then hiked to the entrance, which was about the halfway point of the hike.  Once we had visited the waterfalls, we returned to entrance area and picnicked under some trees.  Carrying the little guy slowed us down so we arrived late - happily I was carrying my beach blanket so we settled down to lunch quickly.
I recommend the hike, especially if you don't have much time.  This hike doesn't have the long views that the other hikes do.  This is more intimate, although not private.  Actually, I don't know how many people normally do this hike as I was surrounded by over 100 coasties.  Still, no short hike near the main entrance is going to be solitary.

Oh, in case of emergency,  figured I could call 122, as it would be a Coast Guard emergency - is that funny?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Getting comfortable at home

The new iMac computer is working great and it is almost fully set up.  It will take significant time to get really familiar with it, though.

The computer came with Korean instructions in hard copy although it was easy to set it to operate in English (or Korean).  I downloaded some manuals but I feel I am still missing stuff.  When I first set the computer up, I was surprised at having only four USB ports and a short cord for the mouse.  It seemed damn inconvenient although serviceable.  I received help partitioning the drive and in doing so, saw the serviceman plug the mouse into the keyboard.  Turns out the keyboard has two USB ports built in.

Am I just unobservant or was that tidbit included in the Korean instructions?

The computer looks great on my desk.  The CPU and hard drive and all that are built into the monitor.  The keyboard is notebook sized or possibly even smaller.  combined, I have more desk space with the desk top than I did with the notebook.  I am no longer balancing textbooks on open drawers or pulling kitchen chairs close to pile needed materials on.

Everything is backwards or, at least, turned 90 degrees, on the iMac.  The on/off and other controls are on the upper left, instead of the bottom left.  To close a window (can I still use that word?), I click on an icon at the upper-left instead of the upper-right.  The tabbed pages in Safari close on the left side rather than Firefox's right side. ...

I can't compare Apple with Windows because my closest comparison is the old and slowly failing notebook, which I will continue to use a great deal until this semester finishes.  The features on this iMac blow the notebook away but Vista might do the same.

The trick is not to think outside the Microsoft box, but ignore that box even exists.  There are a lot of similarities (Safari and the newest Explorer both look a lot like Firefox) but the key is results and not how the two paths are different.  Hmm, paths and boxes -mixed metaphors, I guess.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Boats, big and small

The weather for Children's day was fantastic. The little guy's mood was more variable and I was lucky to finish the day on a high note so he didn't go to bed cranky.

Someday, I'll learn what order to upload photos. This pic of people on sit-on-top kayaks was the last thing we did that I took pictures at.

I was concerned that the boat wouldn't hold me. With the little guy aboard, we topped 105 kg and every other boat was paddled by a child less than half my weight.

The boat was fine but KwandongAlex was disturbed by the rocking and by the way the paddle dripped water on his head on occasion. Later, we had cotton candy and he was cheered immensely.

This was at the Canoe Club on Lake Yeongnang. It is actually a club for competitive Kayaking and no canoes, recreational or sprint, were in sight.

Before attempting the kayaks, we went to tour the Coast Guard ships.

A three-year-old with a gatling gun!

A SAR boat. It looks like a lot of fun to race around on.
On the main deck.

Our final stop on Children's Day was Sokcho Beach, where we had a good time, I swam (very briefly) and we picked up 25 discarded, twisted sparklers.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The limping man says

Clean up your fucking sparklers at the beach when you leave!

I am not crippled, but I am limping.  It's ironic that it happened to me as I frequently take some time to collect them and remove them from the beach.
Every one knows what a 'sparkler' is, right?  It is a length of wire that has 30 cm or so covered in some bright-burning compound.  When the tip is lit, it will burn brightly and shoot sparks.  It is mostly safe when in someone's hands (although I have been burned once or twice).  The ones I find, twisted and mostly buried in the sand, are half-ass caltrops.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

a smaller photo

This photo may be a repeat, but now it is blogging sized.  I'm learning.  It was darn hard to find after I adjusted the size and saved it, though.  I hope that gets easier.

Posting a pic on Safari

I'm not hunting wild animals in Africa, I'm trying out my new iMac.  It's beautiful and seems to have a lot of features but I don't know how to shrink a picture - I normally post pics around 100kb, but this is likely around 2mb.

Oh, the picture itself?  My son's footprint -concave although it looks convex - at Sokcho Beach.

I expect to love this computer, but it will take a while to stop expecting things to work the way Windows does.