Saturday, April 29, 2006
I had the opportunity to meet two Seoul bloggers today (Saturday). We met at Naksan Beach Hotel and I tried to show them around the temple.
Nathan, the Seoul Hero, seems like a great guy and I had a good morning chatting and looking at how Naksan Temple has begun to rebuild after last year's fire. His friend, Joe, the Seoul man, was also a friendly sort and I enjoyed a good but too-short talk with the two of them.
Nathan has also blogged about his experience with many compliments to me - so thank you very much! Joe blooged about it as well, and, as well, had blogger problems putting many photos into one post. As it is the end of the month, I will link to his archive for April '06 and his three (!) posts should be at the top. (If anyone cares, I have a solution that dates back to the Picasa -Hello days: Post as many pics as you can in one post, set blogger to 'Edit html', copy the html into Wordpad or something, do that as often as you want, then paste the whole bundle into one post (again, set to 'Edit html') and delete all the previous posts used solely to upload pictures. Simple stuff, hey? Near the end of the month, as now, it's easier to link to the archive for that month.)
We spent Saturday morning wandering around Naksan Temple looking at what damage remains from last year's fire (Check the archives for April '05 for my several posts and eye witness accounts of the fire).
Here are Nathan and I at the giant Bodisatva of Mercy. Although the statue is fine, some of the stone around the base has heat fractures.
The temple just below the statue sustained some burns on it's floor.
The ancient bell that had been at the temple for, well, a long time, melted in the fire. It had crystallized with age and use so it was not in use in recent times. Here is the bell used in early '05. I hadn't realized they had just left the bell in the wreckage of its platform.
As perhaps a sign of the old and new, here is a burnt-out cherry tree and new temple resident rabbit.
Blogger has trouble allowing me to place more than four or five photos in one post so this photos are continued in the next post.
Sometime before Arbor Day, I expressed a wish to help with treeplanting on Nak Mountain's denuded slopes. I thought that the planting would resemble the work I did one spring back in Canada in my university days. I imagined carrying a bag with perhaps a hundred little trees and a shovel; pacing off two metres and planting another one.
I had seen the reality a few weeks ago but was only in a position to take a picture today. An ajummah army planted the trees and placed the stakes. No one can compete with them.
Nathan was a good guy but seemed to have a fascination with ants. This is a pose he took about ten times during our hike.
Friday, April 28, 2006
I'm torn over whether or not this is a good idea.
I like any excuse to spend a little extra time studying women's bathingsuit, but mis-spelling the name makes the suit seem a little silly.
Alright. The proper spelling in in Hangeul, so, in english maybe it's not mis-spelled. Still, I am comfortable, most media outlets are comfortable, with 'dok' rhyming with 'Coke'. 'Dock' doesn't.
Four critically endangered species, such as flying squirrels, hobbies and wildcats, which were formerly thought to have disappeared, were found in Hoengsung and Hongchon, Kangwon Province.
First, what is a hobbie?
In a previous post, I wrote about train station workers clearing the tracks of dead animals, including wildcats. I hope that's not how they count them.
This is what confused me in the article:
The ministry has also been studying genetic profiles of 113 endangered species, including Siberian tigers and wolves, to better increase their numbers.
Increase? I guess it is a increase from zero to more than zero. I would have chosen the word re-introduce'. Am I wrong here? Are there wild tigers loose in South Korea?
And who wants more? I am excited about seeing wildlife and would love to more, in general. I think the farmers around Chilisan would be the first (after me, actually) to point out that reintroduced animals, bears, in their case, don't stay in the park or reserves they are placed in. Tigers would have trouble hiding in the mountains of major cities but wolves might do okay....
Certainly boar appear to love the cities. Another article in The Times describes a boar boom on Bukhansan and other mountains in and around Seoul.
One boar, about the size of two Korean burst into a bar in Amsa-dong, escaped and was eventually killed somewhere nearby. I don't even know what mountains are near Amsa-dong; in my visits, it seemed pretty flat and developed.
A hunting ban is blamed but the reason for the ban - nobody wants rifle fire downtown - seems sound. Perhaps wolves are the answer. To my knowledge, coyotes do well in urban environments.
Are there any other reasons for the increase in the boar population?
But experts are divided over why the boars increasingly come out into city streets. Some say that the invaders have been driven away from food and territory in the mountains after fights, but others questioned that reasoning.
"In normal conditions, a wild boar does not go into a noisy, polluted city to find food," said Kim Won-myong of the National Institute of Environmental Research.
He said the boars probably head for the city only when they get lost or are flushed out of their domain by mountain climbers or dogs.
In a country whose people can be terrified of a loose lapdog, I think the boar, very smart animals, can quickly learn that cities are relatively safe places to live.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
My reasoning reminded me of some animal behavior classes I took at university and an explanation for Real Estate agent's behavior in setting housing prices (from Freakonomics). I will start by describing my two examples.
When a caregiving animal has young, there is a mismatched struggle for resources. The caregiver wants all the young to have the same amount of food, while each infant wants more for itself, even at the expense of the other infants. It requires some effort for the caregiver to try to spread the food around; effort that does not have a great value for the caregiver itself. It also requires effort for the infant to try to take more than its share of the food but there is great value when it succeeds.
In Real Estate, you should be able toget a better price if you sell the house yourself for similar reasons. To the agent, selling your house for $150,000 or $155,000 does not make a big difference in his/her commission, but it is a significant difference for the homeowner.
Now, back to me. In a cynical sense, how much value does cheating or catching cheaters have for me?
So long as the cheating does not go beyond a certain level (in this case, does not screw up my grading curve), it does not really affect class itself. Also, cheaters, and others, typically sit with their friends; It is uncommon for a cheater to deliberately place him/herself next to a stronger student of English. Most exam cheating does not significantly effect the cheater's score much nor my all-important grading curve.
To the cheater, there is potential for greater value. Most of the times I have seen known cheater's test papers, they have terrible answers. They may have misread the answer they tried to copy or looked at the wrong answer; I don't know. Still, if a student already knows they will fail the test, cheating can have great value and little downside. If the student is caught, there is little change in the end result and if they get away with cheating, they might pass the exam.
As the week progressed, I thought about this more and maybe began to care a little less. I certainly started marking previous class's exams while invigilating (my vocabulary is fading - I copied this word from Seoul Hero) another set of exams. On the other hand, when I did see someone cheating, it was with pleasure I marked his paper with a red marker to determine its fate later. Again, the score was already so poor that I chose to deduct only the marks on the question he has been cheating on (he lost 2 out of a possible 8 marks).
I have to conclude by saying that although catching cheaters does not have a strong tangible value, it does have a wonderful satisfaction value!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Yesterday was the last day of exams and this particular exam had a written and an oral component. This class might be my worst in study habits and english ability and I didn't think very highly of them. I was unsurprised when they had trouble opening the door to the classroom; that's how slow they are. I actually showed several of them, individually, how to open the door after they were reduced to knocking and asking to be let in.
Anyway, the students had finished the written component and were waiting in another classroom and coming to see me one at a time for their oral exam. Again, I had to open the door for a few of them and I was just about to wedge some paper in the doorway so it wouldn't close all the way, when I heard a student on the other side twisting left and right and not getting anywhere.
With a quiet curse, I went to open the door to find I couldn't. The knob just floated left and right, with no feeling of moving anything inside the mechanism.
I have to give the students credit. They stayed with me -on the other side - and tried to help me get out, or the next student in. Finally, I told the students we would finish the oral exam next week if the door wouldn't open in the next five minutes. The time went by and they stayed until, thirty minutes later, I got out.
Before I told them that, I phoned my department's office and a secretary came to try to help me. She couldn't but called maintenance.
I got tired of waiting and had started working on the screws holding the bars in place over the ventilation window leading into the hallway when a professor asked me to stop and wait for assistance.
The maintenance man came and worked on the door with no luck and eventually a student and I returned to removing the bars so I could climb out and not miss my bus home.
My opinion of the students improved a great deal during my imprisonment. If they had broken the lock (accidentally), would that make my feelings an example of the Stockholm Syndrome?
The office staff were apologetic as though it might be their fault and I might be angry. I played on that a little and told them I wouldn't come to work on Wednesday (today). So, here I am at home, relaxing.
Today is Founder's day at our university; there are no classes.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Mr. Shim, who is currently writing a book about Korea’s drinking culture, said that people here have drunk poktanju as early as the Three Kingdoms period, which ended in 668 AD. But according to urban legend, the current style of poktanju ― beer with a shot of whisky ― made its Korean debut in the early 1980s, at a meeting between prosecutors, policemen and journalists in Chuncheon, Gangwon province. The concoction quickly spread across the country.
Recently, Choi Yoon-hee, a Gangwon lawmaker who became too touchy-feelie after drinking, has probably ended the popularity of the practice.
The “bombshot,” however, has recently come under heavy fire. Leading the charge is Park Jin, a lawmaker in the Grand National Party, who took a hammer to poktanju glasses at the National Assembly to demonstrate his determination to end Korea’s love for poktanju. The stunt was done in reaction to a scandal involving Choi Yeon-hee, a former GNP member, who sexually harassed a woman after downing a number of glasses. Mr. Choi leads a movement to eradicate Korea’s “bombshot culture.”
Still, if you want to sample this part of Gangwon culture, the article inlcudes tips:
1. “The Atomic”A whisky shot is plunked into a glass filled with beer. Foam then puffs up like a mushroom cloud, hence its name. This is the basic boilermaker.
2. “Taekwondo” Fill a glass to the brim with beer, place two chopsticks on top (slightly spread apart), then place whisky shot on top of the chopsticks. Punch the chopsticks to let the whisky drop into the glass.
3. “Golfshot” Place two chopsticks on top of the glass of beer and then the whisky shot glass on top. “Putt” the whisky shot into the beer using another chopstick or a spoon.
4. “The Tornado” Make a basic “Atomic” shot. Cover the glass with a napkin, hold on to the top and then flick it, while extending your arm. The beer will spin around like a tornado. This shot is said to have the smoothest mix. Before downing the contents of the glass, hurl the drenched napkin against a wall or ceiling to hear that satisfying “thwack!”
5. “Sperm” Pour beer into a glass and place a whisky shot inside. Cover the glass with a paper napkin. Shake it lightly ― the napkin should tear very slightly. Pour a little milk in through the hole. One look and you’ll see how it got its name.
I wonder how you play diplomatic tennis. I imagine the games go like this:
"Oh, that was a great shot! I was just lucky to be in the right place."
I have never been very diplomatic or tactful myself, so I would probably do poorly at the game. This seems fitting as I also do poorly at regular tennis.
I made a similar connection between the wrong words when reading about Moslems being upset with Danish cartoonists. Everytime I read, "...cartoon battle" and the like, I pictured the Peanuts gang fighting Spiderman or something.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
UPDATE: I was wrong. More dust due today, dam' it!
Second, on Arirang TV, I saw a documentary about Korean Water Deer. The show claimed that these deer are the only ones that are attracted to water; I thought moose were a kind of deer. I guess it's how you define deer.
Anyway, the surprise came in seeing these deer. I would have named them, "saber-toothed deer". I found these photos online.
And this one from evolutionnyc:
This isn't an April Fool's joke - or, if it is, it's a pretty pervasive one.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
The second just makes me sad. It is the story of three miserable train station attendents at the highest altitude station in Korea; Chojeon, near Taebaek. Chujeon was a thriving community until the local coal ran out. Now, no passenger trains stop here.
The article claims the temperature is so cold at that altitude that the staff run their brickette heater twenty-four hours a day eleven months of the year. Before coming to Korea, I was pretty skeptical of people who complained of the bitter cold on mountains. I have since become a believer but the highest peak of Seoraksan, Daechungbong, doesn't seem as cold as Chujeon and is twice the altitude.
I do sympathize that there is nothing to do but record which trains pass by and when, but on the other hand, I love the outdoors: I might be very happy to be posted in a location with deer and lynx.
This short quote shows how the staff don't even seem to be trying to enjoy themselves:
Mr. Kim said the place is so dark at night everything outside the door is inky black. In line with an energy conservation campaign, the Korea Railway recommended that the station leave only two lights lit during the nighttime.
“It’s only about 15 steps to the restroom outside, but walking in the dark, and hearing the strange howls from the woods, believe me, you get the creeps,” he said. His body actually visibly shuddered. “I try to run to the bathroom as fast as I can and turn on the lights in there as fast as possible, but it’ll scare you every time.”
Look around, for crying out loud. Enjoy being away from light pollution. Your situation is almost unique in Korea, get satisfaction from that.
The article also lists other rail stations that don't see many people; the station above Samcheok sounds like an interesting trip.
Friday, April 21, 2006
This week, my home district, Muskoka was mentioned in the Onion. Who-hoo! Apparently, a beaver in Huntsville (Ontario, not Texas) is having trouble settling on a dam design plan. The village of Baysville is mentioned and a dam nearby but not the Lincoln Lodge, which is the best place to eat by a damsite!
Completely off subject, I have Octopussy on in the background. When Bond flies to India he takes a helicopter past the Taj Mahal and lands near the ghats in Varenasi - that's a long helicopter flight!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I have never been sure how to translate the konglish term, "Membership Training". Class Retreat? Orientation and welcome? I may be having problems due to my declining English skills (see April 19th post) or maybe it is a Korean activity that one should not translate, just as one normally doesn't translate food names. 'Samgyetang' is fine; one can add an English description but there is no need to change the name to 'Boiled whole stuffed chicken with ginseng'.
An article in the Times describes how MT is becoming less popular and also changing in focus. MT was a chance (and mostly still is) to drink without needing (or, with peer pressure, being able to) stop until every soju, makkoli, dongdongju, beer and cough medicine bottle was empty in a place far from home so someone else could clean up the resulting, reeking mess.
According to the article, some students are more eager to spend time in the library and prepare for an uncertain future. Only in Korea would that be considered noteworthy; university students studying rather than drinking. Well, that was true at my university, too; the main difference was of scale.
Other classes are going on MTs where the focus is volunteer work or training in other fields. One such group
... helped reconstruct farms badly ravaged by heavy snows last winter, ahead of the farming season. They stayed in abandoned elementary schools, which had been shut down, to reduce accommodation costs. They held a ``makkoli party,'' (makkoli is a Korean traditional unrefined rice wine), along with a pork barbeque which they shared with residents.
The students gave massages to the elderly and farmers, using what they learned from university, and held a basketball class for children living in the remote area. ``At first, students felt strange when they went on the volunteer trip in the region instead of their previous training which involved drinking binges,'' Kim Sang-chon, professor of the university, said.
Quoting another group:
``However, that kind of membership training is far from spiritual and academic training for freshmen. So we've decided to transform the membership training as a whole by inducing students to participate in the farmer's school,'' a school official said. Students are not allowed to consume alcohol nor enjoy ``karaoke,'' or dancing at the school. Their meal consisted mainly of vegetables harvested in the region without any meat. Under the theme of ``working, volunteerism and sacrifice'', students woke up at 5 a.m. and sang the Korean national anthem.
In the morning, they took a walk along a four-kilometer course and attended a lecture named ``successful careers.'' A 20-year-old student, identified as Kim, said that it was a great opportunity for him to understand the life and a spirit of farmers to harvest crops with their own sweat and labors.
Mao would be proud to see university students working in the fields. Alright, that's pretty sarcastic. I, too, would be happy to see students putting in a few days on farm work. I certainly wish I were available to help my father-in-law on his farm more often...well, a little more often; the right amount to make myself feel good without making myself too tired.
One final comment on students doing farm work: how does that affect FTAs? Is sending students to do free labor a kind of subsidy?
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Today, the Herald had an article about mistreated dogs here.
You would be hard pressed to walk down a residential block in Seoul without noticing a chained up dog outside on a leash just a few feet long. They may be provided with the basics of food, water and a dog house, but many are not. Are these dogs given walks? Are these dogs given medical care? Are these dogs given any love or attention?
Take the example of a scruffy pup in my neighborhood whose water was a block of ice and the blanket in his dog house was frozen stiff in winter. He was fed table scraps. At only a few months old, he looked mangy and thin. How harmful is this for a dog?
Foreigners here in Korea, David and Catherine Peacock, started an organization to help protect these animals. It seems to be in it's beginning stages with many things planned. There is a fundraiser at Bar Nana in Itaewon on April 29. you can learn more here.
I, on the other hand, felt it was too much trouble writing "Scribblings of the metropolitician" on my blogroll, shortened it to "the scribbler" and then misspelled that (fixed today - if you read this, Michael, sorry 'bout that).
I may have an excuse. Travis is a new guy - to my university anyway, while I have seniority - and that seniority may be doing me in.
From the Korea Herald:
English teachers who spend their days repeating slow, exaggerated and simplified speech risk losing their native language skills the longer they stay in Korea.
Eventually it might seem that CNN newscasters speak too fast, or when trying to find the perfect word to explain something... the word just doesn't come.
The loss of vocabulary and fluency is inevitable when there is a lack of educated native speakers around. Dickey lives in a small city where there are a handful of English native speakers, "so when I meet a native speaker of English, I sometimes trip over my own tongue in excitement and find myself without words. Both vocabulary and grammar seem to atrophy," he said.
Dickey suspects that a similar process happens to stay-at-home mothers, primary school teachers, and he said that he has also lost the specialized vocabulary of two professions - management and law - that he has passed through.
Outside of the classroom though, the simplicity can spill over into everyday conversation. Friends may find themselves subject to a lecture-style explanation with exaggerated facial expressions and hand gestures that replace complex sentence structure.
One of my friends made a short trip home to the US and was teased mercilessly after he said, "I have to go to a store and buy a [big shaving motions, slow and with his face leaned forward and to one side] razor."
I know this is pretty obvious but I had hoped it would not be that bad. I actually find that I benefit from speaking more slowly; I used to stutter when I got excited and spoke too fast. Now, my pronunciation and speaking are much clearer.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Here is an exerpt:
Laurie Malcolmson has been running for as long as he can remember. When asked why he started running, he replies, ``I dunno. I grew
up on a farm, and I just started running. I guess it was the natural thing to do.’’He set the New Zealand record for the 100-meter dash, an amazing 10.4 seconds, more than 30 years ago. It has only barely been broken to this day, and at the ripe age of 56 he is still one of the fastest _ at least in his age category _ men alive, clocking the 100_meter dash in a hair under 12 seconds.
The blond, blue-eyed, soft-spoken Kiwi who lives and teaches English in Donghae, Kangwon Province, has raced against the best in track and field competitions all over the world. He recently returned from his native New Zealand, where he placed first in an international masters’ decathlon event entailing a 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400-meter dash on the first day, followed by 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run on the second day.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
I have been inspired by the Dokdo Riders. I will be a Hans Island Rider and travel across Korea (or, at least, part of Gangwondo) telling people about how Denmark is trying to steal our island, Hans Island, away from us wonderful Canadians. I will ask Koreans whether Hans Island is marked on their maps as Canadian territory or erroneously as Danish Territory.
I need to make some flyers explaining the value of our claim. I hope the flag and the banner don't slow my cycling down too much.
To learn more about Hans Island, listen to their radio broadcasts.
Who will join me? No Bernard Carleton, please. Canadians welcome.
I will even lobby back in Canada for support for Danish Cartoonists if they give up on Canada's Island.
Well, Hell. It looks like some accommodation has already been made. There is a joint Canadian-Danish expedition mapping the Arctic Ocean floor in the vicinity.
Hmmm. Can I settle for a compromise? I will settle only when Korea and Japan agree to have one island each (East Island for Japan, West Island for Korea).
Sorry about the short but link-heavy post. I had planned to actually hang a flag and sign off the back of my bike and bother some Koreans with flyers but I turned out to be too lazy. Oh, and I already do support the Danes in their troubles over cartoons.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Two men from my hometown rode through Mexico and Central America for the winter. They apparently covered about 9,000km on their bikes during the trip.
Barrie Faulkner was the one who really encouraged me to ride and taught me that distance riding is as simple as just getting on the bike and putting time in. You don't have to be a super-hero or Lance Armstrong to cover vast distances, you just have to be patient. I coached his son Nat in swimming nearly twenty years ago.
I have pasted large portions of the Bracebridge Examiner story as their archived articles disappear after three weeks.
Bracebridge resident Barrie Faulkner, 58, lost about 15 pounds, carried more than 100 pounds of supplies and rode across 9,400 km of Central America and Mexico on his bicycle this winter.
He returned home March 12 with a tan, a smile and hundreds of stories to tell.
Faulkner and his son Nat, 27, started their three-month trek in San Diego, California on December 19. They finished in Panama City March 10 after travelling at a pace of about 120 km a day through the Mayan ruins and third world countries.
"I don’t think I could take a single day and not write a chapter in a book people would want to read," Faulkner said. "You wake up in the morning and don’t know what kind of adventure you’re going to have."
To finish the trip, Faulkner rode from the Pacific Ocean, to the Atlantic Ocean and back in a day, a 170-km ride across Panama with 8,000 feet of uphill climbing.
The father and son were chased by thousands of wild dogs and surrounded by vehicles of armed men — who turned out to be escorts worried about their safety — but were never harmed.
"We had armed men in a vehicle in front of us and armed men behind us travelling six kilometres an hour up a mountain for about two hours. I said we’re either really safe right now or really up a creek," Faulkner said. "When we started we were told we’d get mugged 10 times and stabbed. I never felt in danger. Everyone’s just overcautious. If we dropped a coin, somebody would point at it and let us know. Go. Ignore all the people telling you all this stuff. Just don’t be stupid and wear jewellery and try to pick up the local girls who belong to somebody else."
Everywhere along the ride, Faulkner said he gathered stories about people who worked hard, had little, but kept smiling, including one stop where townspeople led him to the central well and suggested he camp there. He gave four pieces of candy to a group of children, who later showed up with fried tortillas, blankets and an offer to use their showers. The boys also tried to draw a copy of Faulkner’s Canadian flag.
Friday, April 07, 2006
They spell the name, "Tomas" rather than "Thomas" in the old country, don't they?
Edison was a remarkable man and using his name to promote a hagwon seems like a good idea, but I would have done some basic research on the name (okay, now is the time to report all my spelling errors on this blog).
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Poems showing the absurdities of English spelling.
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead - For goodness sake
don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
Here are some of the spelling changes they suggest be adopted.
1. SR1/short E - use E always as in: eny, meny, frend, hed.
2. PH - replace
by F as in: foto, telefone.
3. augh - either delete the GH as in caut,
dauter, nauty or replace UGH with F as in laf, draft.
4. ough - either
(a) drop the GH as in bou, drout, plou, or
(b) change to AU as in baut,
thaut, saut, or
(c) change to OF or UF as in cof, trof; enuf, tuf; or
(d) cut to O as in tho, altho, or
(e) cut to U as in thru.
5. DUE -
as in hav, giv, negativ, opposit.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
KwandongAlex and I went for a hike. Just above our apartment, is a set of low mountain that I had never explored. KwandongYoungnam was pregnant last spring so we didn't hike much.
Wow, look what we missed.
The Azaleas are just beginning to bloom.
This pic is out of order. I took it as we left the mountain. I had hiked until Alex fell asleep, then turned back.