Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gangneung is 400 years old

This man's name isn't Gangneung; he's Jo Gyu-sang and he's a youthful 86. But he is at the celebration.
Photo from Korea Beat, who apparently found it here, but I can't find it (blame my poor Korean skills).

Friday, January 30, 2009

A New Brunswick school decision has me facing my own prejudices

I've been following news stories about the removal of official prayer times from schools and the like for quite a while. Atheists do not work in a group with an established hierarchy but I followed the semblance of the party line in feeling that students are entirely welcome to pray at school, but that leaders -teachers, coaches and administration - should not lead such prayer.

My reason for this, again following the party line, is either the individual him/herself or that individual's parents should make decisions about religion. Even in a hypothetical town where everyone is Christian, it is unlikely that all will follow the same type of Christianity.

So, I'm for the removal of prayer from school.

A school in New Brunswick has removed the national anthem from opening announcements.

The principal's explanation doesn't really explain that much:
Whether to sing the national anthem appears to be a delicate matter in the small southern New Brunswick community.

Erik Millett, the school's principal, said he made the decision partly to accommodate parents who didn't want their children taking part in the daily anthem.

"We try to balance the needs of every student, and we want every student to feel welcome in our school," Millett said.

"And part of our school and included in that and if we need to make some accommodations or exceptions then we'll try to put those in place regardless of what the issue is."

At first, I thought the disapproving parents might be from foreign countries and not want their children to sing our anthem. To these, entirely hypothetical, parents, I quickly thought up a counter argument: that religious choice should exist everywhere but nations are not abstract, intangible creations. Well, they are partly, but even more, they are huge block of entirely tangible land. In most places in the world, you can choose your religion, you can even choose your nationality to some extent, but you are standing where you are standing. If you don't want our anthem, you should move.

Man, I've heard the latter bit of that argument stated against me many times (well, against atheists, not me directly that much).

I am confused. If I don't want prayer in school and I have reasons that seem quite solid to me, can I really complain about others not wanting the anthem?

No matter how patriotic you are, you have to admit that the anthem is not exactly part of the core reasons schools exist. O Canada isn't really "readin', ritin', 'rithmatic" (and I hate the way we dumb down the fundamentals of teaching to the three "R"s), is it? If the dissenting parents agreed to allow O Canada to be taught in music class, would that be so bad? Maybe I should have had it in a formal class setting because I now would likely sing it as poorly as Roseanne Barr sang her anthem in 1990 (I really recommend against listening to that clip, but she seemed to remember all the words, which I don't).

I gave a rebuttal to a reason that might not exist but I am having trouble thinking of any other reason and the principal was (admirably?) discrete on the subject. I recall some Jehovah's Witnesses in my elementary school class leaving the room during morning announcements - were they avoiding the national anthem? Are there possible religious reasons? Can I, personally, accept having the anthem taught only in music class and not required of all students (or require students to opt-out)?

I've got some thinking to do.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Darwin Day events in Seoul


From the Dong-a Ilbo (September of last year)

"Korea will also hold a series of commemorative exhibitions and publications. The Darwin Forum, consisting of philosophers and biologists, is revising the translation of Darwin’s three classics, “The Origin of Species,” “The Descent of Man,” and “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.”

Gwacheon National Science Museum, which opens Nov. 14, will hold a Darwin exhibition to commemorate its opening in Gyeonggi Province. The event will be jointly held with Dong-A Science and display Darwin’s publications and fossils he collected for six months."
I am not sure if the museum will show the fossil for six months or it is a display of fossils Darwin himself collected over the course of six months. Probably the former.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Living a cliche: Mac Vs PC

My computer is now six years old and still soldiering on bravely, but it has broken down a few times and, after the repairs, a few programs will not work.

It's time for a new computer, with this notebook as a back up or portable one.
Photo from here:

Gangneung has a Mac Store - I think it is Sung Ju Computers, or the like. The Macs look great and, among other things, appear to run different languages well. My understanding is that I could sign in as one user and have my OS in English while my wife could sign in and receive Korean service. This has always seemed painful to do with the PCs.

Still, Korea is a Windows shop. Is there a version of Hangeul (the word processor) for Macs? I could run Bootcamp - the PC emulator, I guess.

Also, Macs are expensive enough that I could get a good PC and a new digital camera (the current one is older than the computer) for the same price as a Mac.

I'm leaning toward the Mac but am eager for input. Comments, anyone?

Monday, January 26, 2009

First swim of the year

A kindly but non-camera-savvy man held the camera for Mr Domestic bliss and I. Here, I have patched three clips together to make a short-but-coherent whole.

The experience was cold but not terrible. We went in a total of three times and stood on the beach between swims. Mr Domesticbliss claims to want to do it again next week. I'm in!

Happy New Year

I will be at Sokcho Beach at 12:00 for the first annual Sokcho New Year's Polar Bear Swim, should any readers care to join me (and I won't be quite alone).

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm not a log driver...

nor a good dancer. I am Canadian and I did watch this animation in my youth, so perhaps that's why it I remember it so fondly.


The National Film Board of Canada has put more than 700 films and clips online. I will have to have a look around to see if I can use some in class.

National Film Board.

Log Driver's Waltz (in case the imbedded video doesn't work)

Via Boingboing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Racism in active and passive forms, and hope

This post is about racism and will touch on Obama's inauguration. I can't say that it is an "important post, per se, but please don't dismiss it as yet another "I love Obama" post". There may be other, excellent reasons, to dismiss this post, but that isn't one of them

I am not a politcal blogger, not even for my homeland, Canada, nor my current home, Korea, but the American presidential inauguration has me fascinated. Me, and every other blogger.

On January 10, CBC's Quirks and Quarks, an hour long radio science show that I am addicted to and have even written to the host, included a segment on racism that made me uncomfortable. It described a psychology experiment that exposed racism where none was expected.
The experiment ran like this: The subject, presumably after filling out consent forms, entered what she or he thought was a waiting room with two other subjects. The subjects were actually part of the test, were ringers; one was white and the other black. The black person stood up, made a remark about forgetting a book and left the room, bumping the other ringer. After the black man left, the ringer performed one of three actions. He either said nothing, said something moderately racist or very racist. I forget what the middle option was, but the third option was something like, "Clumsy niggers!"

Soon after that, the subject was interviewed about tension and, well, I forget exactly what, but current emotional state and the like. An incredibly low number of subjects mentioned the racist event or claimed to be upset after the event. I suspect few or none actually challenged the man making the comments, but I don't know.

From Q & Q:
Dr. Kawakami, an Associate Professor of Psychology at York University, studies the psychology of racism and she has revealed a disheartening finding: despite the fact we tend to predict we'll feel bad witnessing a racist act, we in fact tend to feel indifferent. What's more, Dr. Kawakami found that when asked to chose between a white person who uttered a racist comment or the black person to whom the comment was directed (in order to work on a problem-solving task) subjects tended to choose the racist white person over the innocent black person. Dr. Kawakami says her study reveals people's deep emotional biases -- specifically towards blacks -- despite their stated belief that they are not racist.
Dr Kawakami on Science Mag.

Far more uplifting, is the concept of people being cultural bridges or xenophiles, as discussed on Spark, another CBC radio show and podcast.
"The Internet Age should be a golden age for bridge figures and for xenophiles."

That's what Ethan Zuckerman, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society wrote in his blog post, Bridgeblogger and Xenophile, a tale of two bloggers. But just what is a xenophile, according to Ethan?

It’s been a challenge for me to define xenophiles as a category without falling victim to definitions that are trivial or superficial. It’s easy to dismiss the idea by suggesting that everyone who eats sushi and listens to world music is - or considers herself to be - a xenophile. Too loose a definition and “xenophile” ends up sounding like a synonym for “liberal”, “multicultural or even “politically correct”, which isn’t what I’m intending.

Xenophilia is about connecting with people, not with cultural artifacts or other things. Liking Japanese food or Senegalese hiphop doesn’t make you a xenophile - xenophilia is about making connections across language and cultural barriers motivated by your interest in making better sushi or translating Daara J lyrics. Xenophilia is broader than the love for a specific culture or an aspect of that culture - it’s a broader fascination with the complexity and diversity of the world. Xenophilia changes your behavior, especially your behavior in seeking for information, leading you to pay attention not just to the parts of the world that have caught your attention, but to others that you know little about.

I think I can be a bridge between cultures, which I define as less than a xenophile but more, or more nuanced, than a cheerleader. I enjoy and admire a great deal of Korean culture and admire many Korean people. I am impressed with Korea's growth after 1953 and by the friendliness of the people I meet all the time, but I am not about to rename this blog, "50 reasons why Dokdo is Korean". So, I am not a cheerleader. On the other hand, after ten years, I don't speak nearly as much Korean as I should. My job of explaining English and the typical culture of English speaking countries, particularly Canada, is almost the definition of a bridge.

I think my wife, who is so much better a person than I in so many ways, is a xenophile, while remaining firmly grounded in her home culture.

Another remarkable person I know and work with has the initials NA and is a Canadian of Somali ethnicity, who speaks, I don't know, five, six languages. She is definitely a xenophile, comfortable in any country she visits.

Recently Pharyngula linked to Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which I read and was amazed by. Here are a few long excerpts:
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act....But he [the mayor] will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait."
How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust....

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
...Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." ...

I now love the sentence, "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God" but I don't think I am capable of it. I am not describing strength so much as mindfulness. In the Q & Q study, the test subjects appeared to not care enough to get involved. I do not necessarily wish to be confronted but I would like to know the result of such a test.

Hmm, I don't think I have much to say about the inauguration after all. I only hope the American people face the test with courage and that the result is positive.

Polar Bear Swim

Image from

Last year around this time, I promised to find or organize a polar bear swim..somewhere and ...sometime.
Well, It's Lunar New Year, it's 12 noon, I don't know where and there are no sponsors.
Okay, to tacks. I will be on a beach at 12 noon. Depending on scheduling, I may have already exercised or will exercise at that time to warm up before going in.

Sokcho Beach is easiest for me but I am willing to go to Yangyang or Gangneung to meet others.

From Sokcho Beach, we could take a quick taxi to haesupia - a large sauna - and I would donate one free ticket.

In Yangyang, we could swim below Naksan Temple, then race up the hill to Naksan Beach Hotel's sauna - then warm our souls at the temple!

In Gangneung, ah, I don't know. There was a crappy shower there but I recall it was cold water and terrible pressure. I am almost certain it is closed in the off season. Still, I guess we could swim then warm up again by towelling off then running around or having a beer or something.

Gangneung people (Pack the El Camino -return from Canada and keep your promise!), let's hear your suggestions.
Oh, the link at the top leads to my review of last year's Sokcho Fire & Ice Festival, which runs from Feb 6-14 this year. Again, I think there will be a human powered ferry race - anybody interested in putting a team together?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Uljin has an airport?

This story is a few months old but it is one I have been following on this blog.

The ill-conceived plan to build the airport was first hatched in the early 1990s. A series of local experts raised their voices in concern, saying there was simply not enough demand for airline services in the area. The Korea Transport Institute even presented a research paper that warned that the airport, once established, would see as few as 50 users per day...

Embarrassed government officials tried to come through with several backup plans, including turning the airport into an aircraft repair center or selling it to the air force. But there was not enough demand for repair services in the area, and the possible sale to the military faced intense opposition from local provincial governments.

“Everyone knew the airport was doomed,” said Lee Yeong-heok, a professor at Korea Aerospace University. “It was a highly anticipated failure choreographed by lawmakers who only cared about their own constituents and a government that did not do enough preliminary research.”

Uljin is in the middle of nowhere. I can't think of any city or population centre within an hour or two of Uljin. I guess nuclear engineers could fly in and out; Korea has a few reactors in the area.

I had to chuckle (in a grim way) at, " the possible sale to the military faced intense opposition from local provincial governments." I would like them to sell the airport to the military and move Gangneung's fighter wing there - I think they buzz our university specifically when I am teaching.

Another local airport in Gangwon Province faces the same fate. Yangyang Airport, built in 1997, is posting ever-bigger deficits as the number of travelers continues to shrink. Back when it started construction on the airport in January 1997, the ministry said it would replace those at Sokcho and Gangneung, two Gangwon Province airports that suffer from chronic delays due to the area’s foggy weather and weak infrastructure. They also insisted that the new airport, which officially opened in 2002, would greatly help in attracting tourists from China and Japan.

But now, all regular flights to and from the airport have been canceled due to the meager number of travelers. Aviation authorities have no clue what to do with the facility, which posted a deficit of 4.9 billion won ($3.8 million) in its first year of operation, a number that has now topped 10 billion won.

“Yangyang Airport was completely inappropriate in terms of its size and investment return,” said one official at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority who declined to be named.

Yangyang airport appears to be in a slightly better position than Uljin - Sokcho and Gangneung both are less than an hour away as are many tourist sites along the coast. As I recall, the airport was built to attract Chinese tourists and it opened right when SARS appeared; not many people were excited about Chinese tourists.

Yangyang Airpot previously on this blog: 2005, 2007

Gangwon FC

Apparently, there is a new K-League football team, the Gangwon FC.

They are rooming at Kwandong University. I'd seen the buses and some fit looking foreigners around but hadn't thought much of it. The word is, they are the flagship club for Gangwon Province and are the fifth team to be funded by the community rather than a chaebol or the like (and by 'word is', I mean the words in the Korea Times). This is cool: "Some 11.3 billion won has been pumped into the team, six billion of it from around 70,000 people across the three million populace of Gangwon." That's a lot of local supporters, I think.

I met two Brazilians who are player-coaches or something. They seemed (and I only saw them at meals, so I am extrapolating quite a bit) to be team leaders or elders for the Korean players.

I say them at meals but that isn't quite right. I saw them walk past us in the regular dining cafeteria and go into the private cafeteria, where they were served croissants and bacon and more for breakfast. We, on the other hand, got Korean food. That's not bad but kimchi for breakfast is an acquired taste.

MInd Mapping Evolution

Click to bigify

A few years ago, I made an ecology textbook for ESL students at the Minjok camp for middle school students. I hope to have an evolution text ready for summer camp and it is my intention to learn (and teach, or, at least, use) mindmaps as an informal experiment to see how well students remember the material.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Professor, why did I fail?

I received a few emails and calls in December from students asking me to change their grades. A few had done well but were worried about their scholarships for next year. These students, I usually helped as much as seemed fair; I would increase their grades until their scores were just below the next better student. In this way, no one jumped the queue...and probably few were satisfied.

A few other students, and one third year student in particular who sent me an email entirely in Korean asking about her score, appeared very surprised with their grades. This is despite the fact that I showed them their midterm scores and most of their homework scores.

Kruger and Dunning (1999) may have the answer:
Using undergraduate college students as subjects, the researchers found that the lowest performers had a consistent and stunning tendency to vastly over-rate their general ability and their performance on the task at hand - much greater than any other group. They found this effect whether the task was intellectual (LSAT questions), social (rating the humor level of jokes), verbal (grammar) or logical. While they actually ranked in the 12th percentile, they estimated their rank as well above average (as in Garrison Keillor's imaginary Lake Wobegon).

Via Monastic Musings.

I'll keep this in mind as I give results next semester - maybe the students really don't know that they need to work harder. I was a terrible student, so maybe I can use this as an excuse myself.

I have wondered in the past if I should be taking students into the hall during class and explaining their poor results and what they mean. There are two concerns here: first, if the student isn't doing well, it may because s/he has made that choice. Second, if the student isn't doing well in English, will I be able to explain anything to them?

Darwin Day is coming!

In fact, I have trouble navigating the online magazine and I hope the downloaded version works better.


I hunted for a countdown widget but many in the Blogger directory were broken and the few I tried from off-site didn't work.

In less than a month, it will be Darwin's birthday. If he were alive now, he would be hailed as the most amazing man ever - nobody else is 200 years old!

That aside, in his time, he was one of the most famous men alive. Even before he published On the Origin of Species, he was well known from his Beagle travel diaries and his scientific work.

John Wilkins, on his blog, Evolving Thoughts, reminds us, however, that we should not deify Darwin. He was a remarkable man, but evolution has changed greatly since his time.

There are many Darwin day events in the US and elsewhere, including one in Yeoksam Dong in Seoul. It appears to be organized by a computer company and I am not sure what is planned. I will contact them and give further news. The contact website, currently with no Darwin Day information, is Zenitum.

Below are two images of the man. The first shows the currently iconic Darwin, old and bearded, while the second shows him as he likely appeared during his voyages as a young man and is from the Darwin Day website, linked above..

Oh, my understanding that America's first Jewish president was born on the same day. C'mon, Abraham is a Jewish name, isn't it? It was funny when Meathead said it on Archie Bunker.

"In one famous episode in the TV sitcom "All in the Family," Archie Bunker said that Jews had a secret way of identifying each other -- they changed to Anglo last names but kept their Jewish first names. Then Meathead piped up with another example, "Abraham Lincoln," and Edith responded, "I didn't know Lincoln was Jewish."
(im from missouri)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Really exciting stuff - for KwandongAlex

Who are I kidding? It's exciting for me; I'm just glad I can share the news with my son.

Korea's first dinosaur fossils were found recently in Hwa-seong

The Hankyoreh originally reported that triceratops fossils were found but later changed the report to protoceratops. A little Googling tells me that triceratops have previously been found only in North America, while Protoceratops fossils have been found in Mongolia in the past.

I only know the protoceratops from a Discovery Channel DVD I bought for my son (Dino Planet 1: Whitetip's Adventure) which recounts the story of a velociraptor in Mongolia. Anyway, the Triceratops is definitely the more famous of the two so I guess the reporter just thought he was looking at a scientific name or something for the triceratops.

Another interesting thing: Everyone I know pronounces the three-horned dinosaur, "tri-ser-a-tops" and the smaller Mongolian dinosaur as, "proto -ser-a-tops". I don't know what the original Greek that gave us "Ceratops" is but would Greeks have pronounced it "Ker-a-tops"? I ask becuase I see the Korean spelling would be pronounced with a "k" sound rather than an "s" sound:프로토케라톱스

Via Korea Beat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Slogan wrap up

I was asked by a Sinae Jeong, from the Gangwon Provincial Government to help with creating or choosing an English slogan for the province. She wrote, "You can help me by doing the following:

Let me know what you think of the candidates, and when you do this, please, don't be polite."

Thank you to Gord Sellar and to the commenters at the Marmot's Hole. In response to my request for comments on various slogans emphasizing Gangwon's natural assets, I received a few good suggestions, many sarcastic and negative comments and a few laugh out loud ideas.

Two of the suggested slogans, from the international affairs office of Gangwon Provincial government, used 'green' as part of the phrase. Many of the slogans suggested by bloggers and commenters also used 'Green'. The funniest one went, “Gangwon Green is PEOPLE! It’s PEOPLE!” (by Seth Gecko). The best ones used "evergreen" in the slogan (Evergreen Gangwon, by Jewook).

A few commented noted that most foreigners pronounce the 'gang' in Gangwon as "gaeng" - the same sound in "Gangs of New York" or "Gangster". Add 'Green' to that and you are discussing a horrible disease brought on by unclean conditions.

The negative posters were not (completely) unreasonable. Immigration (admittedly, part of the national government rather than provincial) has made few friends among E-2 visa holders for their poorly-thought-out requirements for criminal records checks (among other things, they have asked for documents that foreign governments don't even produce). Also, English is used the way Latin might be used in English countries, a cheap way to add style without adding substance.

I expect to hear, at some point, what was chosen and hopefully some further follow up.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blistering Barnacles; Tintin's birhday was yesterday!

I can't think of a memorable quote from Tintin himself.

"To be precise, I can't remember a thinkable quote" -No, that would be a Thompson Twins thing to say...

Perhaps it's because I am not 13 years old anymore.

I wish I had a shark-shaped submarine. I have since I first read Tintin.

Anyway, happy birthday and I don't think you're gay (or real, I don't want people to think I'm confusing fiction and reality).

I am looking forward to the upcoming movie. A Tintin movie would be hard to make. I would like to think I am not racist (I could be wrong- 2nd article), but a Tintin adventure would not feel right without a pitch black African with a bone through his nose... And some blowhard, Spanish-garbling South Americans.
Update: I visited some other sites and realized what being Belgian in the early 1900s meant regarding Africa. Let's not repeat that stuff - the Belgian Congo was a nasty place.

Tintin news. Tintin site.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fast action needed

I received a comment on a previous post from a Miz Jeong, an International Relations Officer for Gangwon Province. She wants foreigner input for English slogans for Gangwon Province.

Unfortunately, I was at camp and didn't check my email and comments as often as I normally do and her deadline is tomorrow. If anyone can help, please leave comments here. Below is her message:
I'm International Relations Officer at Gangwon Provincial Office and was asked to get inputs from foreigners living in Gangwon on the English slogan candidates the office came up with. I will really appreciate if you could help.

These are the candidates:

1. Green Future Gangwon
2. Gangwon UP! (yes, both capitalized)
3. Green up Gangwon (this time just small u)
4. O2 Gangwon

You can probably tell what Gangwon wants its slogan to express: it wants a slogan that reflects Korea's "Low Carbon,Green Growth" initiative and enhances Gangwon's brand-image as the greenest province (fyi, it has the most natural resources in Korea and is well known for its beautiful mountains, sceneries, winter sport resorts and green tourism).

A slogan needs to deliver Gangwon as a green province since Gangwon is heavily investing
in new and renewable energy such as wind power, etc. It already has the nation's biggest wind power plant in Dae-gual-lyung (대관령), which produces and supplies a considerate amount of electricity throughout Korea.

You can help me by doing the following:

1. Let me know what you think of the candidates, and when you do this, please, don't be polite.
The whole point of this is that Gangwon needs honest feedback.
(you can even suggest one if you would like to)

2. Please provide me with info of:
a. name
b. where you work
c. position

Please note that I need such info in order to add credibility to the opinions I will submit to Gangwon Provincial Office. In other words, I need proofs showing that I did not make them up.

3. If it's not too much to ask, can you please ask your friends to do the same?
The more inputs I can get, the better it is for Gangwon.

Phew, I don't think I ever wrote an email this long. Again, I really appreciate your help and
I will be collecting inputs/suggestions until this coming Sunday.

Thanks a bunch!

Sinae Jeong

I am never sure about privacy issues, especially for government officials. It is a gmail account and she did ask for input, so you have two choices; leave comments here or email her at: drcine (at) gmail (dot) com I guess you could put "gangwon slogans" in the subject line.

I will send her my response (it is also in the comments in the post below) and any responses in the comments tomorrow (Sunday) evening.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Apparently, I can skate.

I am at an English camp for elementary school students and yesterday we went skating.

Before we went, campers asked if I could skate and at first I nonchalantly replied, "yes". After being asked again and again, I began to think about the question. It has been about fifteen years since I last skated. I began to offer more qualified responses.

Man, I can skate! I'm a bit of a superstar when it comes to skating - in Gangneung, anyway. Despite my boastful tone, I am not really proud of myself...No, that's wrong; I am proud of myself but not exactly boasting. I didn't think I would be able to skate well at all and was very pleasantly surprised by how I managed. I didn't necessarily do well, but I did much better than I expected.

Lost in the joy of effortless speed and grace, I ignored how the rented skates dug into my skin and didn't pay attention into how hard I was working my leg muscles.

Now, a day later, I have 500 won coin-sized patches of skin missing from my feet and ankles. Also, I legs are slowly tightening up. It feels as though I am being bent over a rack and every time I sit down for a few minutes, the rack is ratcheted one gear-tooth tighter. Tomorrow, or possibly Friday, I will be nearly unable to walk.

I need to look for a rink in Sokcho.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Off to camp

See you in five days.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Two hobbies coming together

I have made a bit of a hobby of commenting on problems with religious practises and another hobby of commenting about Korean hiking fashions. Let's see if I can connect them.

"In recent years doctors and researchers have confronted an alarming consensus that billions of people, starting in infancy, are lacking Vitamin D and thus at risk for a host of health problems, including a shorter lifespan plagued with aches and pains. Women suffer from the deficiency more than men."
This is an excerpt from an article about the Burkhas that some Muslim women wear limiting the amount of Vitamin D that they produce.

I have already compared the clothes Korean women wear for hiking to Burkhas and I have also noticed that urban Koreans go out of their way to stay out of the way of the sun.

Anecdotally, it appears that more Korean women suffer from osteoporosis than do sun-loving Westerners. I wonder if there is a connection.

Article via Dododreams.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Glue Traps are the Devil

I don't think I am a tough guy, but I seem to be the only person around who can put animals out of their misery. And glue traps create a whole lot of misery.

A glue trap can be a shallow tray with thick glue or an over-sized sheet of scotch tape. Well, that describes the two traps I have been involved with. Sometimes there is bait in the middle of the trap.

If the user is prepared and has actually read the frickin' instructions, the traps might not be that bad. Apparently (according to Wikipedia), cooking or baby oil will allow the animal to escape the glue. This is useful in a rural area but not so much in a location where the animal will have to be killed anyway.

Seven years ago, I lived and worked for a nightmare company in a beautiful location in rural Kyonggi-do. At one point, there was a problem with mice, so staff set up glue traps - but not very well, as one of the first catches was a little bird. The bird, in terror, tore most of a wing off while staff watched. I had not heard that oil could release the bird, and the people who set the trap weren't prepared; there was none on site. Finally, I took the bird and twisted it's head like I was winding a top. Honestly, I almost cried, but was satisfied the job was done. One jerk co-worker almost got punched for calling me a sadist. He had had no better suggestions in the fifteen minutes previous.

Today, at work, a rat had made it's way into the ESL offices. Again, staff had set up a few glue traps. Now, I approve of live traps if there is a plan to release the critter, but who releases rats? Who buys a glue trap and doesn't prepare to release the critter afterwards?

Anyway, the rat was caught and in it's struggles, nearly tore a leg out of it's socket (I'm not a doctor but I'm repeating what a staff member told me). I was in a meeting and later found the rat, on the floor near a garbage can in an out-of-the-way room. The rat had crapped everywhere - and that too was glued in place and it was clearly in a bad way.

After asking about their plans for it - none, I guess they hoped it would die quietly out there - I stomped on it, ending it's misery.

If you plan to trap an animal, also plan how you will dispose of the animal later. Use a non-leathal trap only if you want to release it afterward. If you plan to kill the animal, get a leathal trap: don't screw around.

These guys at Helping Animals don't care for glue traps either.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Recreating Far-Side comics

This is something I want to do and I am happy someone is already doing it. We live in a great world! It's time to dig out my ten books and collections and such. Actually, they're all in Canada, I think, but I'll find a way.

Far side recreations on Flicker.

Is this one Kevin?

Via Boingboing.

Happy New Year and all that!

The first dawn of the new year, as it's light first hits the Korean peninsula.