Friday, February 23, 2007

Yellow Sand is coming, read this to be prepared for it!!!

The papers are reporting high Yellow Sand (황사) levels to "begin" today (though according to several bloggers in the northern part of the RoK, it has already been here for a while). So, as a public service, I thought I would add a link to my sidebar for the 18th MEDCOM's Yellow Sand Level monitor. It is kind of cool, you can actually see the levels from day to day. It also has information in the sidebar as to what the levels indicate currently (level of danger?). You need to know what your nearest military base is though if you want the readings for YOUR area as they vary from place to place on the peninsula. Click the links at the top of the page to change the chart. Hope you find it as useful as I do:) . I hope they don't mind I ripped the .pdf from their site that gives lots of useful information about how to handle the Scourge of the Gobi. (or if it is unreadable on your computer you can just go here, but i think you need adobe. You could always just go to the link above and click the link on the sidebar that says "click to see information card")

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Small world story #35 (or 2 degrees of separation)

Regular readers will recall the previous 'small world' story where a fellow I work with was the son of my middle school Industrial Arts teacher in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. This comes close to topping that one:

I recently decided to try and see about attending church on the local military base and was able to procure the phone number for the command chaplain. I made an appointment to meet him on base in his office to discuss the details. Of course, one of the first questions that any two Americans in Korea will start with is some variation on the "where are you from" theme. When I responded with my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee I received a,
"Get the heck out of town!"
To which I replied, "I will not!"
We started a conversation that not only included knowing similar places as one would expect from two people hailing from the same place but as it turns out, knowing many of the same people from the small suburban Knoxville town right down to my across-the-street neighbor and a few familiar classmates. Topped off with having actually been in the same place at the same time (Tragically though, the funeral of a close classmate of mine).
I have had other stories in my life: running into my high school Latin teacher in the Chicago O'Hare airport, several hometown-distant chance run-ins with people who know my father, passing by a high school classmate in the Tokyo airport, just freak meetings that really make you wonder if Milgram didn't have it right with his small world phenomenon (aka six degrees of separation).
I wonder who I'll run into next?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why Koreans are becoming fatter

I know the title is going to get me into some trouble, but if it gets you to read this...well good on ya.
As those who know me or have been reading, I have lost a lot of weight in the past 4 months; 28 kilos (bout 62 pounds) all told. Of course, a lot of people ask me how I have been doing it and my first thought is to tell them I have been on the "Ghandi" diet; which is about how it feels at times. My wife will tell you that it is because i take two large spoons of chung-gook-jang (청국장) in the morning before eat and at night before I go to bed. But I think that the real reason is that I STOPPED EATING AT NIGHT!! I made myself a hard and fast rule, when the sun is down, nothing goes in the mouth, period. Now, you would think that is pretty easy but give it a try sometime and see.
Now, I come to the revalation: why Koreans are getting fatter. Now before the haters start in on me, do a little research and you will find that it is a hard and fast FACT that there are more fat children in school these days. Now, I am not touting the Korea Times as a bastion of factual reporting or anything, but for easy reference to the problem look here and here for starters. And as if to prove my
It seems like an easy thing to do but if you are pretty much immersed into Korean culture like I am then you will see that it is a near impossible task. The culture almost demands that you consume food at night. Before I came to Korea, I learned about post-work drinking culture and I expected that while doing business and socializing here that I would be prepared. But as most people who live here for any time know, Koreans DO NOT drink without eating. There is the ubiquitous (If you like that word, you HAVE in Korea a long time) Anju or side dishes that must be consumed when embibing alcohol.
But it's not just the drinking culture...Kids are at school all day and when they come home, mother feels the motherly need to feed her seed late at night before they stagger off to sleep weary from a long day of school and hagwons. Even socializing with family and friends means eating. So, if you meet at eat.
One of the most difficult things for me is when i visit my wife's family. When we visit and the kids go to bed, it is time to eat and embibe. It is difficult to say no. Everyone is urging me to "just eat a little", "have one", "c'mon, it's just this once." and I just have to say "no" because I know that if I start, I can't easily stop.
So, those of you, Korean or not, whose waists are ever expanding. Give it a try and you will see that it is not as easy as it seems but if you are successful in kicking the latenight eating habit, you may lose a few kilos too.