April 2007 Archives

April 30, 2007

A cultural resume of Korean America

Here's another lil' something I wrote for my intercultural communication class last week. I'll be presenting on it tomorrow. It's a cultural resume, explaining a culture in much the same way that an occupational resume would define you: in quick, rough summations and facts. In both cases, the hope is that the resume would pique your interest enough to prompt further investigation.

So with no further ado...

Continue reading A cultural resume of Korean America.

No time to think

Along with warm weather comes increased human activity. After New York and the trip to Central America, there was a weekend trip to New Jersey (wedding; Fru went while I stayed home), and the following weekend there was the trip to Virginia for our 10-year high school reunion, which I should probably post about. This weekend we entertained guests from my hometown, giving them the short tour of DC, and helped a friend move into the largest house I've ever had a friend own.

The future doesn't look much clearer. This weekend is Fru's birthday, an O's game with friends, and a social outing with my coworkers and their families. The following weekend a friend from Daegu has business in Manhattan, so we most likely will head up there. Tentatively, we may be returning with some friends we made in Seoul who will crash at our pad for a few days while touring DC. And on and on the story goes.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side of the looming deadlines and examinations you are on), classes will be finished soon and I'll have a much-needed break from the daily double grind. I hope to slow down enough that I can really be thinking creatively by the time that GIEN comes around.

I've postulated before that there is a definite benefit in taking time to think better. At what point do we lose productivity to postulation? At what point does lack of thought create an efficiency nosedive? As I sit here, thoughts swirling, I'm not sure which aspect I should scale down and which I should further engage. Let's hope that May brings us answers.

April 26, 2007

Mixed Doubles


Mixed Doubles, originally uploaded by enviziondotnet.

The Second Childhood We All Deserve

The slowdown that Leftsider has been experiencing is largely due to the glut of deadlines looming over my head like a weary ghost. Since I must appease these academic spirits with APA-format incantations, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and post a few here. Feel free to read at your whim.

The first was written quite some time ago, but it is relatively light. It was in reference to this editorial piece in the Chosun Ilbo.

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During my time in South Korea, I took every opportunity I could find to explore the culture, traditions and natural beauty of the peninsular country. When resources would permit, I would also take advantage of the country's location to leapfrog to neighboring Asian countries--to see what wonderful treasures they held and experience their unique perspectives on life. As I did this, one thing was always beside me as a consistent object of familiarity; the 할머님(Korean grandmother) and 할아버지님(Korean grandfather).

South Koreans often refer to retirement as a second childhood; one that allows them to shrug off the responsibilities and burdens that they have shouldered and live out their remaining years as they wish--and as their investments have provided. It explains why most tourist areas in
the country are swarming with seniors in small groups or on tours and attempts an accommodating explanation for their cantankerous and often nearly shameless behavior. Their small, bent frames testify to the dues they have paid in the rapid development of one of Asia's largest economies; it is only fitting to allow them their declining years in wandering, wine and revelry.

Chosun Dailly columnist Hong-Sub Choi writes that South Korea does itself a disservice by not employing well into elderly ages. He looks at the veritable ocean of wisdom and experience that they hold and asserts that it is best used by reentry into the Korean workforce. Looking at other countries who are pushing back the age of retirement or who currently allow workers to continue well into their years, he sees his own country at a loss by not putting this demographic back on the job.

Continue reading The Second Childhood We All Deserve.

10 steps to greener living

Lighter Footstep - Ten First Steps

The news is full of disturbing reports about global warming, threatened species, and the gradual realization that the way we live -- particularly in the developed nations -- will have to change if we want to enjoy a clean and sustainable future.

But there's no reason to feel overwhelmed. Every journey begins with a single step. At Lighter Footstep, we've rounded-up the ten easiest ways for you to start moving toward a lighter lifestyle.

Eating Cheaply in London

Eating Cheaply in London - Travel - New York Times

Possibly useful for when I go to London in June. Probably not, as I'll have forgotten this article by then.

April 20, 2007

Netizens here hassle Chos with 2 different spelling

INSIDE JoongAng Daily

As soon as the name of the shooter at Virginia Tech University was released last night, it was trouble for anyone named Cho Seung-hui, spelled two different ways in Korean. Internet users tracked down people with that name, leaving rude comments, curses and pleas on the guestbooks of their Web sites.

The Chase

ESPN.com: Page 2 : The Chase

Soon we will gather in front of our televisions and watch receivers run over the middle and linebackers dive headfirst at loose footballs. We will tell ourselves we could do this too, if we were paid millions, or if we were famous, or if we took steroids. But we'll forget how the game of football is born out of hunger, and courage, and desperation, and community, and hope. And how sometimes it's played in spite of everything else.

The proof is tucked away, far from our malls and mansions, in the endless fields by Lake Okeechobee, where the land burns and the rabbits run.

This is the kind of story that makes me realize how much I have forgotten of my upbringing. While I did not live anywhere near here or do anything similar, it bears the distinct feeling of survival approaching art that I remember as a child. That I attached to everyday people who stood as heroes in my early mind and heard about in stories.

Occasionally I wonder if the efficiency and advancement that technology brings is worth the loss of these basic, even primal, characteristics. The heroes of my formative years have bent with age, and their successors have abandoned the form (myself included). Is it a time forever lost?

To what extent does the reduction of poverty and suffering stifle the human capacity to persist and expand. Can I still be hungry when my needs have been met?

April 19, 2007

Sir Ken Robinson on creativity

TED | Talks | Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? (video)

UPDATE: I spent the whole day talking about this presentation, but I never got around to discussing it here. So here's the comment a full day after I posted. Apologies.

I've been thinking about this ever since I read that article about the power of praise. Even before I listened to this rather entertaining visionary presentation, I have been thinking of how to shift my state of being from one dependent upon inherent skill to one that gives full effort without reserve. It's tough, and I'm not sure of any system created to address this for adults. Is our best hope, then, is that the development of those entering education now will be such that their creativity and innovation can help us, the aged, in the future?

April 18, 2007

Violence linked to price of beer

Mind Hacks: Violence linked to price of beer

The researchers examined admissions to 58 hospital accident and emergency departments over a five year period and found that as the price of beer increased, violence-related injuries decreased.

The mad dash home


0407 san jose, originally uploaded by Frulwinn.

This pic is from Fru's photostream, where you can see other pics of our vacation.

Saturday morning Fru and I said goodbye to Tav and headed out to catch a water taxi back to mainland. We were on our way to Changuinola to catch a bus that went directly back to San Jose. You see, it was my great-grandmother's birthday, and I had yet to see her.

We tried as best we could, but by the time we put bags down in our hotel there were only 45 minutes left of visitation hours at the center where she stays. I was more than a bit disappointed, but there's only so much that you can do, right?

So instead I dropped the little gift I had brought for her at my cousin's house. Turns out I was able to see my cousin and partner in crime, Fernando, who turned up with his girlfriend and daughter (who didn't exist last time I saw them!). We had a good time talking, and I think I almost convinced him to come up and stay in DC sometime soon. ^^

6am the next morning I was at the airport, with apparently every other tourist in a 100km radius, heading back to Newark. We bused back to Silver Spring and cabbed it home. When I woke up on Monday morning I knew I was home but didn't have a clue what I was supposed to do or what language I was supposed to be speaking (I had been studying japanese the night before). It took about 4 days before I finally caught up with myself.

All in all, not the vacation I had planned, but a good vacation nonetheless. Tav spent another day in Bocas and then flew directly to San Jose to catch his flight home. When he reached LA, he sent a text message that said it all: "No mas Pura Vida. *sigh*"

What to Do?


DSC00284, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

When you've got three days to explore dozens of islands, the schedule fills up fast. It was not helpful when it decided to rain the entirety of the first day. The next day the troops were eager to get out there--somewhere--and enjoy Bocas.

We hooked up with some ladies that Tav had met while waiting at the docks and visited the islands Zapatilla and Red Frog. Good times. Everyone was pretty tired afterwards. It was Good Friday as well, so everything was closed and, to everyone else's chagrin, alcohol was not for sale. So it was a pretty quiet night for all.

April 17, 2007

Suda el Jamon

YouTube - Suda El Jamon - "Sweat The Fat"

"Jamon" is literally "ham," which adds a particularly interesting mental picture.
I was thinking about this the other day in regards to my bit of pudge. I realize that 3-4 years ago I was doing a lot more dancing, running and other physical activity than I am now. Living in Korea--the land of thin--helped me out while I was there, but now that I'm back and surrounded by "healthy" portions, processed food, and sugar levels that would just caramelize the Korean peninsula and Asia in general, I feel a need to get active again.

I won't go into previous discussions about how I wrestle with that. I just wanted to share this video because the spanish title has potential to become a bit of a private encouragement between Fru and I; almost like a "give it your best."

How inspiring can this video be, however, when you know that getting healthy and exerting yourself physically is potentially lucrative to Nike? That they can spend a large sum of money making a video like this based on the return they expect--not based on their concern for your well-being. Is it really a commendable video when it is just showing your competitor (plastic surgery, medical body alteration) in a harsh light?

Leftsider props to Snap.com

Just as an aside, I'd like to recognize Snap and let them know how cool a team I think they are.

If you aren't already aware, Snap.com provides a script that generates a small window preview of any outgoing links on your site. It's a novel little idea that gained popularity quickly. Just as fast, however, it gained a lot of (undeserved, IMHO) criticism from some of the web's finest, claiming that it was obtrusive, garish, and disrupted the flow of the web reading "experience."

The commendable thing about the team at Snap is that they didn't just listen to the needs of those people who loved and used them. They also listened to the nay-sayers and implemented features that allowed you to personally turn off Snap's preview boxes on a individual or total basis. Then they updated the script to give the administrator the ability to use the boxes as usual or to in an "upon-click" manner. Listen to the flack, then shut them up. Excellent.

Now yesterday as I was putting up the first half of the vacation presentation, I noticed that the boxes were changing as I posted. Now, they support flickr photostreams and youtube videos more directly, along with a list of other sites that they make direct accommodation for. Constant improvement based on objective reception of feedback, good or bad, and logical progression always wins a big beat of pride in my heart. Keep up the good work Snap; success will be yours.

April 16, 2007

DSC00272


DSC00272, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

Gray day, rainy, spent mainly in a bus and making/translating chitchat with our group members (largely because that was the extent of my spanish). Tired, largely over it all, I squeezed into the last spot on an overcrowded water taxi so that Fru wouldn't arrive at Bocas alone. I left Tav with his drinking buddy Ramiro at the dock for the next boat.

I'm staring out at the water. It's overcast but the water is still so clear. Then I spot it: A dolphin jumping out of the water about 20 meters away from our boat.

This is about the time that I realized that I live a life that could arguably show up on one of those old American Express commercials. Ten years ago I would have never imagined that I'd purposely spend my birthday traveling in Central America with relatively affluent tourmates, a beautiful wife and so on. I've lived abroad, I can effectively mangle four languages, been on television, been published. Despite how I like to look at it, or how I stack up against others in the United States, I am privileged. And I'm ok with that.^^

Here's a tidbit for your next beer/wine/cocktail party (my professor says this at least three times a class): The average monthly income of a Costarricense is US$300. Yeah. I'm privileged.

Ramblin' Man


DSC00265, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

You may be saying to yourself, "Man, I thought this was going to be a peaceful and relaxing trip... looks like they never stop!" You would be thinking the exact same thing I was thinking.

My general routine for my Costa Rica trips is as such: Fly in, Spend two days at my auntie's house bumming food and watching american movies with spanish subtitles to refresh my language, riding to Limon and vegging out at the beaches, go back one day before my flight leaves to see my great-grandma, fly home. Lots of meals with family and hanging out all through there.

This time though I had to keep people entertained. I was a host and so I was rapidly getting cranky because I hadn't found my relaxation yet. When Ramiro asked if we would be interested in touring Bocas del Toro, Panama, with a group he was taking down, I was torn as it would further prevent me from enjoying my usual hideaways. But, it was another stamp on the passport and a ridiculously low price; we took the offer and were soon walking (yes, walking) across this bridge to Changuinola, Panama.

Iraizu and Cartago


DSC00219, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

The next day we went to another volcano, Iraizu, which also was very cold and lacking lava as seen here. I was floored not so much by the crater itself as I was by the drastic change in the flora of the area. I'm not sure if that is because of the sulfuric content, because of the elevation and temperature, or if it means that I should consider a career in studying plant life, but I was impressed.

After the volcano we toured through Cartago, Costa Rica's first settlement. We saw the ruins of the first catholic church, the man-made lake and hydroelectric dam that powers much of Cartago and San Jose, and the Basilica. I'm sure we did something else but I forgot.

Oh wait, we got stuck on the side of the road on the way to the volcano due to our van overheating, and we almost got stranded due to corroded cables unhooking form the van's battery and leaving the van dead. Other than that though, it was a wonderful time.

The next morning we left for Limon.

In the gardens


DSC00175, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

Stop three was to the Waterfall Gardens, where they have a bunch of cool stuff in addition to waterfalls. The butterfly garden was probably the highlight of the tour, although only edging out the hummingbird garden. There was also an orchid garden, which probably wouldn't have been so pathetic if I hadn't been to the world's largest orchid garden a year or so earlier. The snake tour was lame, though. And there were some other things that didn't really register.

The guy in the photo was in our tour group along with his mother and sister. They lived in Chiba prefecture, Japan. The mother studied Spanish in college and therefore was ok touring around. The kids were studying English, of course. So we had a good time with a few minutes of NihonSpanglish as the six of us communicated. :)

We ended off the tour with a river ride in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Spotting birds and sloths and monkeys in the trees; things of that sort. Finally it was time to drive back to San Jose and call it a night.

Volcano!


DSC00161, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

Next stop was the volcano at Poas. When I think volcano, I think black rock, red lava, and searing, painful heat. What I got was paved road, a crater, acool breeze and the smell of eggs(sulfur).

The clouds to the left covered the crater about 5 minutes after I took this photo. They say Costa Rica's 130 active volcanoes are covered about 70% of the time, so I guess we were lucky.

DSC00144


DSC00144, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

The next day found us bright and early on a tour bus. First stop, a wonderful breakfast and tour of the Doka Estate Coffee company. You can click the photo and select the trip set to view more photos of this leg of the journey.

More Bars


DSC00132, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

In addition to the bars on everyone's house, it would seem that there's a bar at practically every intersection in a Costa Rican city. Pictured are two of Ramiro's friends. He is a mathematician, she is a professor in horticulture, I believe.

As I do not drink, Ramiro spurned me in favor of Tav, who as aforementioned is down for anything. :)

Bars


DSC00126, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

Bars. On every house in the city. I was used to it, but Tav and Fru were amazed.

My cousin Ramiro noted that the original purpose was to keep out thieves, but a large part of it has become an issue of decoration and outpacing the neighbors.

This is at his house.

DSC00113


DSC00113, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

We took lots of food pics, but I won't bore you with them. I'll just show this one now because this is typical and traditional "comida costarricense."

It's called cassado, and it consists of rice and beans unmixed, plantain, and either beef (pictured) or fish. We ate so much of this type of meal you would not believe. I, however, never got tired of it.

DSC00111


DSC00111, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

I sent out an all-points bulletin letting people know this year about my usual jaunt to the wonderful land of Costa Rica. A lot of people showed interest, but ultimately only one came: Our good friend and cousin Tav. He's down for anything. :)

We got in Friday, said whats up to some fam, got a hotel, and waited for him to arrive on Saturday. This is just after he arrived--he took a red-eye flight and hadn't slept a wink.

April 14, 2007

The Central America tour 2007


DSC00288, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

Are you ready to hear about our vacation? Great! cause as soon as I get back from a late night on the town I'll probably pass out from exhaustion. After that, however, I'll do a photo presentation of the trip.

Leftsider shout out to Kottke

Because I subscribe to nearly a hundred different site feeds, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that I receive. Overlook the reader for a day even, and I'm stuck with 5-600 entries to read.

A few friends say, "Son, just skip that and go from today. That's ridiculous." Arguably, they are correct. But I just can't let go, and there's a real reason for it beyond some obsessive compulsive disorder I may or may not possess: There are gems hidden in that pile, and a few feeds consistently provide great stuff.

Case in point: Jason Kottke. He's been around forever, really. I remember I stopped reading his page for a while, though I can't remember why. I know that I've always been envious of his endeavors (you know, constantly improving the site, having a huge following, leaving employia to work on his blog as a job, that kind of thing) so that may have been a factor. Regardless, I will NEVER "mark all as read" on his feed. It's like flushing money down the drain.

Here's what I'm talking about; selected gems from the last couple weeks or so:

So let's call a spade a spade. I heart Kottke. He sets a standard I aspire to. I don't normally call out my link sources, but this one is way overdue. Thanks Jason, for a great site.

Germans don't like the Bronx

BBC NEWS | Europe | German army in 'racist video' row

During the filmed training session, an instructor tells the soldier: "You're in the Bronx, a black van pulls up in front of you and three African-Americans get out and start really insulting your mother... act!".

I'm looking forward to some squirming when I casually drop this tidbit in my next conversation with my German friend.

April 13, 2007

Apple Delays Leopard

April 11, 2007

Renting currently better than buying?

A Word of Advice During a Housing Slump: Rent - New York Times

By the Realtors’ way of thinking, it’s always a good time to buy. Homeownership, they argue, is a way to achieve the American dream, save on taxes and earn a solid investment return all at the same time.

That’s how it has worked out for much of the last 15 years. But in a stark reversal, it’s now clear that people who chose renting over buying in the last two years made the right move. In much of the country, including large parts of the Northeast, California, Florida and the Southwest, recent home buyers have faced higher monthly costs than renters and have lost money on their investment in the meantime. It’s almost as if they have thrown money away, an insult once reserved for renters.

April 10, 2007

lost


lost, originally uploaded by Camilla E.

It's the way I feel right now. My mind is lost between a two-week whirlwind of taxis, boats and buses; airports, cities and countries. I've started the last two mornings stuck between my home and traveling routines. Mixing languages. Feeling confused.

It's strange not feeling at home even when I am at home. It's a new experience that I've not felt in previous travels. I'm not sure why this trip was any different from any other. The time changes were not a significant factor this time out... perhaps I never mentally unpacked. Anyway, now I have a lot of stuff to sort through to get back on the level this week. Posting resumes, but lightly.

I hope to show a few pictures as well... stay tuned.

What's Next

The big question: 'The big question' by | Prospect Magazine March 2007 issue 132


We asked 100 writers and thinkers to answer the following question: Left and right defined the 20th century. What's next? The pessimism of their responses is striking: almost nobody expects the world to get better in the coming decades, and many think it will get worse.