Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adventure Korea Trip, part 2: 나비 축제

The butterfly hill
When we left our story, the other intrepid Korean adventurers and I had called it a night at the Motel Boom after an excellent hike and some yummy galbi. The large portions didn't treat me so well, but by morning I was ready to go again!

Sunday was the 나비 (Nabi, meaning Butterfly) Festival, in a town called Hampyeong. The festival seems to be famous enough that my volleyball friends (from a different part of the country) knew about it, and the town even has a giant butterfly design on its hill!

Adventure Korea trip: interlude

Until I write Part 2 of my excellent weekend adventure, here is me and a chicken at the butterfly festival!

Computers, circa 1982

I haven't forgotten about finishing my weekend exploits, but work and volleyball have taken precedence. Until I post that excellent tale, I offer this article, which describes the writer's first computer (purchased in 1979). It was written in 1982, and was for me a reminder of how much I take computers for granted, when indeed the technology is barely older than I am.

To anyone a generation or more older than me: I feel that I understand you a little bit better now.

The author ends wistfully, "hoping for a world in which my sons can grow up to have a better computer than their father had."

I'd say.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Adventure Korea Trip photos! All of them!

If for some reason you didn't get enough of the hiking trip from my blog post and Erin's blog, with our carefully chosen photos... you can see the whole photo album. Erin puts all her photos online, so you can see them at her SmugMug page.

Adventure Korea Trip, part 1: 강천산

The view from 강천산 (Gangcheon Mountain).

Erin and I on the easy part of the hike.
As previously foreshadowed, Erin and I took an Adventure Korea trip to Jeolanam province, which is the southernmost province of Korea with the exception of Jeju Island. This was a two-day, two-part trip, and I have so much to say that I will take up two blog posts. This post is about the Saturday, in which we hiked up Gangcheon Mountain. The next post will be about the Butterfly festival on Sunday. Both were awesome.

On Saturday, we arose early to embark on the five-hour bus ride. We had devised the clever plan of depriving ourselves of a proper night's sleep on Friday night, in order to make sleeping on the bus easier, so for both Erin and I the bus ride seemed like a matter of minutes. Shortly after lunch, we were off the highway and heading for the provincial park to conquer the mountain.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The kinder side of urban Korea: a photo-essay

If you're not actively looking, urban Korea can be pretty depressing. It often appears flashy and commercial, while simultaneously dingy and repetitive.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The dusty, commercial, crowded Korea

The Summit Times

This morning, and the quest for a North American breakfast

This morning was not like most mornings; rather, this is how I want all of my mornings to go.

I started it about two hours earlier than normal, which is to say 10:30 am. In what was for me a feat of mind over body, and for most normal people would have been a sleep-in, I actually got out of my apartment at around 11 am. Destination: the Canon store, which I was told was in "ee-san" near an E-Mart (like Walmart, but pronounced "e-mart-uh").

No News...

... is good news, at least this week. I had a lovely weekend which I will be posting about, and this morning had an adventure just across the river. I can feel it -- spring is in the air!

(I mean that not just metaphorically - the cherry blossoms are finally starting to come out! The picture isn't great because it's from my cellphone.)

Quote of the Day

And yet, even as he thought of all these things, he noticed somehow that the sky was a lovely shade of blue and that one cloud had the shape of a sailing ship. The tips of the trees held pale, young buds and the leaves were a rich deep green. Outside the window, there was so much to see, and hear, and touch--walks to take, hills to climb, caterpillars to watch as they strolled through the garden. There were voices to hear and conversations to listen to in wonder, and the special smell of each day.

And in the very room in which he sat, there were books that could take you anywhere, and things to invent, and make, and build, and break, and all the puzzle and excitement of everything he didn't know--music to play, songs to sing, and worlds to imagine and then someday make real. His thoughts darted eagerly about as everything looked new--and worth trying.

"Well, I would like to make another trip," he said, jumping to his feet; "but I really don't know when I'll have the time. There's just so much to do right here."

- from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, which everyone should read immediately.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Creepy things my kids bring to school

Image SFW but after the jump because it disturbed me... this is one of my kid's pencils.

Picture of the day - 진

Keep in mind that 1,000 원 is less than a dollar Canadian, which means the two-six of gin in the middle is CAD $6.63.

Scarier (or more exciting?) picture after the jump...

Link of the day (for Dad)

Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault, from the New York Times

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life updates

A view from the mountain I will be climbing. Photo from Adventure Korea.
It has been a while since I posted with general life news, so here goes. Five days a week of my life are interesting only in the general sense and not in the day-to-day details, so what follows will mostly be about my weekends.

The most exciting news is the upcoming Butterfly Festival! Two weekends from now, my friend Erin and I will be travelling to Jellanam-do (see map) for a butterfly festival and hiking up a mountain! I hope this is a real mountain, not just a hill such as the one I climbed on my first weekend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Essay on Values

I have been thinking about values recently—not to the level of obsession, but certainly doing some heavy pondering. This has been spurred on by a few things.

The first was a debate I judged before I came to Korea. Though debates that I participate in or judge often make me think, and occasionally lead me to revise my views on their topics, it is rare for one to keep me thinking about it for months afterwards. This was such a debate. It was the final of the Lower Mainland West regional tournament, between two teams from WPGA—who are coached by one of the best coaches in Canada and are exceptional debaters.

I Can Has Webcam?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One things I love about having a Korean work computer...

... is seeing dialog boxes like this:

What do I do?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

"In essence, Korean education is more or less teacher centered and any attempt by the teachers and administrators to change Korean education to a learner centered one will not come without major obstacles as the classroom culture of Korean education is not set up for a learner centered environment.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

발 리볼: Bal-li-bol part 3

Here is a weekend wrap-up to my three-part volleyball story. When we left off on Thursday night, I had played for an hour with the Anyang Besamo volleyball team. That was a lot of fun, but not rewarding in a competitive sense, and the gym time / practice is during my work day. This weekend was to be my first taste of another volleyball club.

Korean Mystery of the Day

I found this note on my door this afternoon after volleyball. (More to come regarding volleyball!) Since I understand about as much written Korean as spoken Korean, and I didn't have any friends handy who do, I used my trusty Google Translate skills.

As I described in an earlier blog post, this isn't a quick or easy process. Because I can't directly enter the Hangul characters, the first step is Hong's Hangul Conversion to convert the typed roman characters (won-gyeog-geom-chim-e) to Hangul (원격검침에). I'm proud to say that I'm getting faster at divining what the symbols mean, and it only took me all evening to get the Korean text.

Friday, April 2, 2010

발 리볼: Bal-li-bol part 2

Gratuitous pre-Korea volleyball photo!
An update to my volleyball post from earlier this week: I went to the Thursday night volleyball session for an hour from 9 to 10. Some of the same people were there, and some different - which was good, since the level of play was higher than I recalled from Tuesday. It was still recreational play, but I had lots of fun and broke a sweat. So satisfying after a month of no volleyball!

I also inquired about other leagues, and got one lead: some volleyball activity that supposedly happens on Sundays from 10am - 2pm. This is a 20 min subway ride from my house, but could be extremely worth it, so I will check it out this Sunday. (Easter here isn't quite as important as in the West.) According to the broken English of my new volleyball friend, it has something to do with Seoul National University. Or is the practice for the Seoul National University team. Or maybe is just held near Seoul National University. I wasn't quite sure on that point, but I'll know more on Sunday!

Quote of the Day

A reflection on how complex business models collapse when they outlive their purpose or technology. From a blog post by Clay Shirkey that is worth reading in its entirety.
"When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse, their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old. But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future."