Monday, November 29, 2010

Mixed Birthday Presents...

1) The Beloved Wife took me to Danyang to go spelunking. +1

2) The City of Seoul gave me a FREE wake-up call, courtesy of early morning construction. -2

3) The EIT Department gave me a class cancellation to go see a poetry symposium. +.5 (I mean, a poetry symposium? How come this is never a scholarly introduction to the role of the tramp-stamp in post-modern pornography?)

4) The Uni just shut down heat in our building, despite the fact it is currenly 6 degrees. -3

Things are going to have to pick up around here!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

LOL.. that island is practically surrounded by NK...

Here's a map:

LOL at the S Korean left (semi-live blogging the war)

some dude tweets: 천안함 때에도,,,,오늘도,,,,대통령은 지하벙커에 꼭꼭 숨어라??

Which seems to be a rhetorical question blaming LMB for getting into the bunker under the Blue House....

Really? That's the best you've got?

I'd be in a bunker if I could. ^^

Life in Wartime?

A certain surreality pervades Seoul. I'm sitting in my office, as shells are falling on Yeongpyeong Island. Outside my window, students and faculty continue to walk around as though nothing were out of the ordinary. About three kilometers away, Yi Myeong-Bak is in a bunker under the Blue House wondering among other things, if the press reports here are accurate, if they should send a protest letter to the UN (wtf?). The ROK has scrambled bombers and fighters and while Lee says to "avoid escalation" I'm not sure that NK will see the planes as non-escalatory? I'm hoping the angels aren't ready to wear my red shoes. ^^

Me? There are two places I should go to in case of evacuation, but I'm certainly assuming it won't come to that. In fact, I think home is probably safest as, paradoxically, it is close to the US army base and if NK ever went for that things would be fully on, and Seoul would be the threatened "sea of fire" that NK blathers on about from time to time. LOL - and since those locations are listed on the US embassy website, they might make charming and known targets if NK wants to go all in

The news came in first on twitter - oh brave new world that has such things in it - and twitter is blowing up over here. Everyone is chiming in, though it is frequently the same posts being passed around again and again. The Honolulu Times is sending out tweets at an astounding pace, many of which are repeats and many of which are random and illiterate.

On expat Korean blogs things are only beginning to heat up..

the apologists are begining to come in:

I understand that people are hurt, but it’s not worth escalation. A strongly worded message is all they deserve.

And soon we will have the folks who blame this on S. Korea. There is a predictable trajectory (if I may be allowed that word when writing about artillery fire related trauma) to the political goings-on around here.

For now, my office is warm, outside is cool, and there is at least one corpse on Yeonpyeong with shells supposedly still falling.

I think I'll stop by the pub tonight and have a pint or two.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stanford beats Cal - great quote that could ONLY come from Pac-10

Stanfoo QB Andrew Luck knocked a Bear safety on his ass. After the game Luck's quote was"

On his long run, he said, "I didn't see (Cattouse) coming to hit me, but physics and inertia took over. Guys did a good job of blocking downfield. The O-line hustled their butts off. It was a good play to get things rolling."

LOL.. physics and inertia... you'd have to search the entire SEC (and I'm talking about their entire colleges, not their football teams) to find anyone who would put those two words together while describing football.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I need some backup singers...

Watching Cee-lo's brilliant "Fuck You" (I mean, the title alone, yeah?). It's a beautiful flashback to the Detroit sound or the Philadelphia sound. Being white, I get confused about these things.

The music is great and the video reasonably cute. But what it really makes me want, is some back up singers.... Anytime I said something I thought clever (which is very often, too often, probably), I could just gesture and they'd pop up and sing it as a chorus.

How cool would that be?

I would be the envy of all Korea.....

Now off to download the entire album.

(This post was completed in the time it takes to listen to the song once)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Looking Back, Bad Back, Baekchu

On Saturday we had a conference here at Buddhist U., and I was one of the lovely presenters. Did my new spiel about successes and failures of translation and it went over very well. I felt it was a bit scattered, as the room did not have a clock and I was trying to cut a few minutes off it (the previous presenter had gone a bit long). I met people from Ewha and HUFS, and they should be good contacts down the road.

Also. Seoul Magazine turned up an article short this month and put out a last-minute call for an author, which I jumped on as quickly as I could. 1,500 words on.. yes ... kimchi. Not exactly my expertise (other than eating the stuff), but exposure in the magazine is the best a foreigner can get in local mags, so it will be good in that way..

My back also started to tweak - symptoms like I had in my early 30's (5 years ago, I insist!). Taking no chances I immediately went to a 4-times a day stretching regime. Also, Yvonne has given me a gym membership for my birthday (a subtle hint^^) and running on the treadmill always loosens my back up. 25 minutes last night seem to have done the trick. I hope so, cause that last go-round was horrible and lasted months.

This weekend, I judge a speech competition and the division has another one of its lovely parties. Last year I won the "pop the balloon then drink the beer" contest, and I know all the young bucks are looking to dethrone me.

Won't happen!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Snapshots from Busan

A couple of weekends ago Yvonne and I went down to Busan. She went on Friday, and I went on Saturday (did a lot of grading on the train!). It was beautiful and we met with Yvonne's friend Katie:

That picture is of a place called 태홍대 (If I'm remembering the Hangul correctly). It's a bit outside Busan, but beautiful and we walked all around it, taking in a jazz concert along the way. Also, Korean kids were doing the wacky things that Korean kids always do.

As we came around the back part of the island, we saw off the port of Busan, which had a lot of moored ships.

Then it was back to Busan and a dinner with Katie and her parents, who were wildly friendly and entertaining. It's a pretty town.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dear Plagiarizer...

While it undoubtedly seems clever to plagiarize from the University's PR materials in a paper about why to come here? You might want to plaziarize from, and re-write, the Korean version.

Because given that I do ALL the editing of English promotional materials around here?

I'm likely to recognize that perfect English you're using as the result of my superior editing skillZZ!

And, you know.. plagiarism gets you an F.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

LOL.. Literature leads in to....

Last night I did another of my bi-weekly radio appearances on TBS eFM. We talked a little bit about problems with current Korean approaches to translation and publication. You can find that lovely bit of palaver here. It'll be the first sound file on the top of the page and you can drink (if ears can drink) your fill of my scratchy yet high voice.

What made me laugh was the song used as our outro. I'd never heard of it before:



Monday, November 08, 2010

weekend wastrelsy

Spent Saturday in the office working on various presentation things and getting my roll-sheets in order.

Saturday night was off to Sonofactory in Hongdae for a Nanoomi party at which I was also a presenter - giving my super-charged little speech on Social Media and the "task ahead" in popularizing Korean lit overseas. I was able to steal some slides from the presentation I'm preparing for next Saturday. Also, I'm a pretty good speaker now that I've been teaching the speech classes for a few years. A couple of tricks... put down the microphone, work the room, hold a glass of magkeolli. I made everyone shut up for the duration of my talk, which was more than the other speakers could do. ^^

That super fuzzy picture is of me in mid-rant.

Yvonne had a great time as well, she met the wife of my Radio-host-dude friend and they exchanged cards.

Yesterday was just about the lolling about......

Back to the grind today, it's cold and the fall leaves are swirling up off of Namsan like little red and yellow cyclones. Quite a view...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Teabag, Teabagger, Teabaggest!

My wife......

Leaves her teabags about

Because the distance to the garbage can is too far:

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

'Modern Family' TV comment irks Peruvians ---- WHO?


Via SFGate...

Peruvians are miffed over a "Modern Family" episode in which a character suggests that the Andean nation is full of backward, violent people.

I didn't even know Peruvia was a country?

And a joke in a sitcom that goes like this:

"Now, maybe in Colombia ..." Jay (THE HUSBAND) begins.

"Ah, here we go," Gloria (THE COLOMBIAN WIFE) interrupts. "Because, in Colombia, we trip over goats and we kill people in the street. Do you know how offensive that is? Like we're Peruvians!"

is a tossoff joke..

but what really made me laugh in this article was this line:

Peruvian cyberspace lit up with criticism of ABC

Really? Both Peruvians on their 2400 baud, phone handsets in rubber receptacles emailed each other?

The whole power grid, all three batteries and the open coalfire... likely shut down...

the First of the Last Drafts!

It is the nature of the Korean Academic Beast that things will come up at the last minute and without a hint of warning...

About two weeks ago, my boss 'suggested' (which, in Korea, means 'ordered') that I put together some of the powerpoints I've been using in my graduate class to present at a 'small' conference that is coming up.

No problem, says I, and I cobble some stuff together and give it an ultra-hip "white text on black background' treatment, which screams, "hey, this presenter is not only criminally handsome and ferociously smart, but also handy with design. Perhaps I should hire him at higher wage than his current employer offers?"

Last week, in a casual conversational aside, I'm told, "oh, and we'll be needing a formal paper.. and a week before the conference." Seems the conference is actually rather official and features a conference document and everything....

So in the interstitial times (on the train to Busan, eating dinner, between classes) I have cobbled together a collection of high-velocity witticisms, brilliant apercus, and a pungent yet sensible conclusion...

Well, a first draft that someday might contain all that stuff. ;-)

Anyway... 12 pages in the hopper....

Now, off to watch my students do presentations on Korean culture (do you know Kimchi?)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Mui-do Part Deux

The next day I arose with the mogi, while Yvonne slumbered blissfully on til about 10. Then it was a walk back to the train station to get instructions on how to reach Wolmido. Wolmido had once been an island, which our travel book charmingly informed us had been “bombed to a flat pulp” just prior to the Incheon invasion in 1950-whatever. When we got to the train-station I noticed the signs that told us which way Wolmido was, and waited while Yvonne went into the knformation kiosk to get a map to replace the one she had lost the previous day.

Then it was about a half-hour walk to the island, which I had been to before. It has a couple of small amusement parks and a strip of restaurants, bars, and amusements, that faces the West Sea. Having arrived at this place, with a brand new map, Yvonne decided she did not want to stay, and that we must instead figure out how to get to Mui-do and Silmi-do, two islands that are connected by a spit of sand that is onoy accessible when the tide is out (thus leading Koreans to refer to it as the “Korean parting of the Red Sea,” the kind of ridiculous referential naming they do all the time). We learned that a ferry ride from Incheon to, well, Incheon, but this time the island with the airport, would take us to a bus, which would take us to a ferry, which would take us to a road we could walk to get to the beach.

All of which we did, making connections with alarming ease. As the bus took us through Incheon airport, we realized that there was a more direct way than we had taken, should we ever want to go back.

After the airport, it was 15-20 minutes to the ferry, which really only crosses about 300 meters of water, but is necessary to take the multitudes of cars that travel to Mui-do. The ferry, like most in Korea, was attended by hordes of seagulls – one of the “features” of a Korean vacation is feeding the wildlife, and at every ferry little kids clamor to buy chips and whatnot to toss to the voracious birds. Very different from the “hands off” attitude in the US, but also a bit more fun if you don’t mind encouraging the winged rats.

Once on the other side, the tide was out, but slowly coming back in. This revealed enormous muddy plateaus that were teeming with polliwog-like creatures where there were puddles, and crawling with thousands of crabs where there was mud. If you didn’t look too closely, it looked like the beginning of an acid-trip, when everything starts to move, oh so slightly (or so I’ve been told, of acid-trips!).

I hunkered down and took some shots, then we walked over a hill to the resort on the beach. It was really quite nice, and not crowded, for this is not the “resort” season. As we walking in, the nice guy selling tickets told us we would NOT be able to get onto the second island, as the tide was coming in and we would likely end up stranded. Instead, we grabbed some drinks, and sat on the beach and watched the water. It reminded me a little of some stretches of Mendocino – no rocks, and the waves here are puny, but the tree-ringed beaches.

Then it was off to walk to where the islands met and get something to eat. I found a place that had kalgaksu, which is always a safe meal, but Yvonne was interested in expanding our culinary experience. Everything was seafood (of course, it being an island) and so we ordered a kilogram of 족개 구이 (Grilled shellfish cooked on a traditional Korean barbecue grill, and we sat there eating it while the tide covered up the connection between the two islands. As Yvonne shoveled the clams into her mouth (the mussel had not impressed her) I asked if she liked it. She said, “we’ll know if I get sick,” and continued to shovel with a ferocity that would impress a backhoe operator. I thought a minute and asked back, “well, how do you know if you get sick because you eat too much too fast, or if you get sick because you don’t like the food?” She answered, “If my stomach starts too hurt immediately, I ate too fast, if it takes a couple of hours, it’s the food.” She gestured at the remaining clams, “put them on the fire.”

And she basically ate her way through them, though by the end we were too full to eat the oysters, and neither of us wanted to try the enormous snail-like thing that sate threatening us from the plate.

As this happened, we noticed a Korean couple on the other island.. a bit of a problem, since there was no longer a land-bridge between the two islands. They were forced to wade back in water that eventually became about chest-high. I snapped a few picture of them as they began this process. Fortunately, one of the two had noticed that about 50 meters from the “bridge” there was a high spit of sand and even though it was now covered, he/she knew where it was, and so did come across at the highest point.

They were good amused at their experience, and even stopped at the water’s edge to pose for photographers who had gone down to snap photos of them.

Then it was off to another section of beach to sit, read, and in my case take a short nap. An hour later, with the sun just beginning to threaten to go down, and the weather getting nippy, it was time to go back. We caught a bus back to the ferry, but still had a little bit of time, so took some stairs and an enormously steep trail to the top of a hill, where we sat as our sweat dried, and then headed back down. Then, ferry, bus to Incheon Airport, and we caught the Airport Limo to Itaewon, pausing to stop and help two kyopo whose unbelievably bad reading of Romanized Korean was flustering them and the bus driver, who couldn’t agree on if, or I should say couldn’t decide whether, the bus was right for them.