Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Take a stroll down candy cigarette lane

No, that isn't an error on the package. This is the kiddy version of Camel cigarettes. Ahh, nothing like a glass of milk and an Acmel candy cigarette.

Now, I don't smoke. And I really couldn't care less if you want smoke till your teeth turn yellow, your lungs rot, and your wife and kids get cancer- as long as you follow any no smoking rules, don't blow the smoke in my direction, and pick up your butts. But still, I do think this kind of product is not a good idea.

Which is kind of odd really, because I remember thinking (for a short time), when I was a little kid, that candy cigarettes were the coolest thing around. I especially liked the kind that were made of gum and wrapped in paper to look like a real cigarette. You could put the "cigarette" in your mouth, blow on it, and the confectioners sugar on the gum would come out the other end like a puff of "smoke." Of course you only got one puff. Then you just unwrapped the thing and popped it in your mouth.

I guess, somewhere along the line, I grew up.

I really don't think that "smoking" candy/chocolate/gum cigarettes are going to make some child more likely to smoke the real thing once he gets old enough to sneak a cig from his parents pack or buy them for himself. More likely he'll end up lighting himself on fire or burning the house down trying to light the end of the candy cigarette with his parent's lighter.

But I do think the idea of brand advertising (albeit fake brands) an adult product to children just isn't right, especially in light of the fact that internal documents of the tobacco industry indicate that tobacco companies and candy makers cooperated in the design of candy cigarettes. The only obvious purpose in this is that cigarette manufactures wanted kids to be familiar enough with their products that they might pick up a pack if they got a chance. While not directly encouraging young people to smoke, the cigarette companies surely were hoping the kids would pick up a few cancer sticks at the earliest opportunity. Thankfully, most of the candy makers in the U.S. have discontinued their production of "cigarettes" for kids.

Still, even with all the above having been said, candy cigarettes do bring back some good memories. I remember summer afternoons hanging around not doing much and then hearing the ice cream truck several streets away. We kids would suddenly get in a panic as to whether we had enough money to indulge in a cool treat or a sugary snack. If we didn't, we'd run to the house screaming, "Mom!" Sometimes we were lucky and get back out of the house in time to chase down the ice cream truck shouting, "Stop, stop!" Sure you could always buy your own ice cream products by the box and store them in the freezer, but it just wasn't the same as hunting down the ice cream man and standing there staring through the window at all the cool, sugary goodness. Besides, those extra few yards the ice cream truck driver always seemed to make us run probably helped to keep us kids trim.

If you want to relieve a few memories yourself, click the pack above* for the big picture and a stroll down candy cigarette lane, or click here for more information about candy cigarettes.

(* That link is a bit of a bandwidth hog, so the images might take a while to load.)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

Image Hosted by
No turkey dinner here for me, but nonetheless, I am thankful for what I have: family, friends, special friends (you know who you are), relative good health, and an OK job. Things could always be better, but I am a lot better off than many other people, and I am grateful for it.

Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is a happy, healthy (do you really need thirds), and safe one. Cheers!

Have a little Thanksgiving fun. Take a Thanksgiving quiz. Enjoy ...

Twelve Things That Sound Dirty at Thanksgiving
  1. If I don't undo my pants, I'll burst!
  2. Whew, that's one terrific spread!
  3. I'm in the mood for a little dark meat.
  4. Are you ready for seconds yet?
  5. Just wait your turn, you'll get some!
  6. Don't play with your meat.
  7. Just spread the legs open and stuff it in.
  8. I didn't expect everyone to come at once!
  9. You still have a little bit on your chin.
  10. How long will it take after you stick it in?
  11. You'll know it's ready when it pops up.
  12. That's the biggest one I've ever seen!

Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.
- J Robert Moskin

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Of pain and pleasure

아이고! 다리 아파요. For those of you that can't see or read the Korean, that sounds like "eye-go. dahree ahpahyoh" I can't give you a literal translation for the first word (maybe 'oh my'?), but the whole phrase means something like "Oy vey! My legs hurt." But then again, I am not Jewish, so I don't actually know what 'Oy vey' means exactly. Hmm, maybe I should change the title of this blog to "Stuff I Don't Know."

I went riding again on Sunday. However on Saturday I went hiking. I went out behind (north) the university and walked home through the mountains. A lot of up and down as you can see by the photo. Image grabbed from
I don't really know how far it is from the university to home (I forgot to bring my GPS or pedometer), but the walk ended up being about two hours or more. Remember, I was meandering though, so it possibly could be a bit shorter than it sounds.

Then, on Sunday, I went riding out to Imha dam. That is not the dam you see in the picture. The one in the picture is the Andong dam. The Imha is off the image further to the right (east).

The surroundings off in that area are pretty nice. Lots of trees, a couple of small villages, and a few historical sites. Several of the historical sites are actually buildings that would have been covered by one of the two rising lakes. The buildings were dismantled, moved, and rebuilt at new locations to preserve them for posterity.

I got up to 60 km/hr this time on my bike, but don't worry; it was on a fairly straight downhill run with few cars. The total ride however was over 60 km that day, with one beast of a hill climb. That, along with the hike the previous day, is why I was complaining about my legs at the beginning of the post. Actually, they just bothered me on Monday. On Tuesday I could still feel it a little, but by today, Wednesday, everything is back to normal (normal being a little bit of soreness in my right knee). All in all, a nice weekend.

Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.
- Frank Leahy

Friday, November 19, 2004

The risks we take are what make life more exciting...

... Of course they can also end up making life a lot shorter, too. The key is to find the right balance.

It ended up being a pretty nice day last Sunday. Lots of sunshine, no winds, and relatively cool temperatures. Consequently I got to do some cycling.

I went from Andong to a place called Dosan Seowon. A total of 55.25* kilometers. I averaged 19.8* kilometers per hour which is pretty good considering the hills along the way. This trip had several hills that were quite a push. One or two almost made me want to get off and walk, but what is the use of a bike with 21 gears if you end up walking. So I toughed it out and ended up gearing all the way down to the granny gear several times.

Of course what goes up, must come down, so thanks to the hills I hit a maximum speed of 54.4* kilometers an hour. I have done better, but not very often. Besides, things do get a bit dicey once you get up to those speeds on Korean roads. Also, I am a little hesitant to push those speeds too often due to the fact that I currently don't wear a bike helmet (Yeah, I know, not too smart.), and the state of Korea's emergency services.

I am sure if I were ever to have an accident in town, I could be taken to a local hospital fairly quickly and not suffer much from any slight delay in treatment. However, out on the open road it is a different story. If I did have a serious accident, and someone did bother to call for help, I would more than likely expire even before someone could get to me. Helicopters in Korea for police or emergency services are virtually non-existent, as far as I know, and paramedics (where they exist) or ambulances rarely leave the vicinity of the fire station or hospital they are associated with. It is kind of telling that usually 4 or more tow trucks will show up at a traffic accident even before the police do, and only then would an ambulance be called if they think there might be a body to take back to town.

What would probably happen is some citizen might stop to have a look, maybe even thinking of doing a good deed. However, on seeing that I was a foreigner, they would probably get scared or flustered and back away because they would be afraid of using their English, even though I would be unconscious. If I were lucky, they might drag my body off the road and put in an anonymous call to the police. If I were really lucky, they might have the sense of mind to put me in their car and drive me to the closest clinic. Unfortunately, any health facilities outside a decent size city would have a difficult time dealing with or even stabilizing an accident victim.

At this point, if you are good at math, you might be saying to yourself, "But hey, at the most you were only 27.625 kilometers away from home and a hospital." (I actually live behind a hospital.) And I would respond, "Yeah, what's your point. This is Korea." Remember, here things don't quite work the way you are used to or would expect them to.

* OK, so I like my little electronic gadgets. So sue me.

There is no cure for birth or death save to enjoy the interval.
- George Sanatayana

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Just a little fun.

Yeah, I know. The fat lady sang a while ago. The outcome isn't quite what I was hoping for, but it is time to move on and try and make the best of the situation. The best thing we can do is stay involved to the extent we can and make sure things don't go to far.

We might as well have some fun to make the best of a not so good situation.

Our President, George.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

There may be one or two nice ones in the set.

I spent most of the day inside because it was a bit cold outside with no sun. Hopefully there will be some sunshine tomorrow so I can go riding. Not that I can't go riding without sunshine; it's just so much nicer with the sun beaming down to warm the cool autumn air.

But the day wasn't a total waste. I posted some photos on another blog I have. It took me a while to get it the way I wanted, but everything is there. If you want to have a look, be my guest. Click on over to My photos and take a peek.

Andong city's mascot at the exit of the expressway. Posted by Hello

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Happy Crass Commercialism Day!

So you have a product, and you want sales to increase. What do you do? Well you could just advertise, but it would be so much more profitable to create an entire holiday around your product. Thus is born Pepero Day.

Image Hosted by If you don't know, Pepero is just chocolate covered pretzel stick. They are pretty good as far as chocolate covered pretzel sticks go. Whether or not the Pepero company actually came up with the idea for the holiday, I really don't know. But the idea is this- November 11th when written as numbers is of course 11 - 11. It doesn't take much of an imagination to see that with several thin pretzel sticks and a steady hand, you could write the date. What better reason than to create a holiday.

So what do you do on Pepero Day? Well, basically, it is just like Valentine's day, but instead of candy, roses, cards, jewelry, or chocolate, you give your friends and loved ones Pepero. How convenient.

OK, I admit it. I have given Pepero, and I have even been given Pepero. Of course I am just doing it to take part in the whole Korean cultural thing. That and for the chocolate, of course.

Hmm, this must be an old box, the price these days is 500 Won.

Let me leave you with one more bit of Pepero fun. This is just a bit of Flash animation that the Pepero company spreads around the web. Yeah, it can be pretty annoying. But then much of the Korean portion of the Internet is flooded with Flash ads. It is a good thing Korea has the highest broadband saturation in the world, otherwise no one would be able to see the advertisements.

I have enough money to last me a lifetime, unless I buy something.
- Jackie Mason

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Interesting but deceptive.

create your own visited country map

These are just some neat tools out on the Web. It does show all the countries I have been to, but only in the general sense. I have been to Canada, but only to Vancouver, yet the tool paints the entire country of Canada red. Similar situation with China. I have only actually been to Hong Kong. I hope some day to visit the rest of China, but as of yet, it is still on the horizon.

create your own visited states map

The United States map is a little more accurate, though technically, several of the states I have only driven through to get to another. Additionally, the map might be a slight bit incorrect. Most of my travels in the US were as a youngster, so I may not be remembering everything correctly.

But it is still nice to have a visual image of it all.

Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with the experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we have believed to be the right and only way.
- Ralph Crawshaw

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ahhh, Tuesday.

Tuesday is a good day for me. Not as good as Saturday or Sunday, but still pretty good. Friday is not too bad either. I only teach one hour on Friday, but that is at 2:00 in the afternoon. Right away, I know I am going to get up late, and then it pretty much ruins the rest of the morning knowing I have to go to work in a few hours.

Why is Tuesday so good you ask? You did ask, didn't you? Well, it's because on Tuesday I finish work at 3:00. I only teach four hours, and then, after three, I am free to go home and do whatever I want. Ride my bike, visit tourist sites, study the Korean language, learn more about the culture, practice some form of artistry, ...

So what do I usually do? Go home and take a nap or sit in front of the computer until hunger draws me away. OK, life is not always that dull here, but more often than not, it is pretty routine and mundane. Korea may be an "exotic land" to you, but to me, it is pretty much like any-town USA, except everyone speaks a different language, I can't read many of the signs, and people occasionally do things I can not understand or begin to fathom why. Come to think of it, being here is pretty much like being a lot of places in the US.

For those of you that are stuck in Korea like me, it appears that they have started showing the teaser trailer for the new Star Wars movie due out next May. Since you can't yet catch the teaser in a theater here (maybe you can in Seoul), go to the Star Wars site and watch it there. Not much new material, but then it is just a teaser.

Monday, November 08, 2004

I know it is going to be darn cold this winter.

OK, I am all for saving energy and a little money now and then, but doesn't this sound a bit draconian to you?

The heater will work for 5 and a half hours (8:00 - 11:00, 13:30 - 16:00) from the 26th of November to middle of next March, only when it is below zero degrees C outside.

This is my first year at this university, but they seem to be sticklers when it comes to certain things. If you have never been to Korea, you need to know a few things about the place to know why I am concerned. First of all, Korea can get pretty darn cold in the winter. Forget all those M*A*S*H episodes you've seen. Those were shot in California.

Second, many of the older institutional type buildings, including the one I work in, are massive concrete sinks. They just take the ambient temperature and concentrate it. If it is hot outside, it will be anywhere form 2 to 10 degrees hotter inside. If it is cold outside, well, yes, then it is a lot colder inside.

Which means that the temperature could hover around 1 degree outside, yet it would likely be below freezing inside. And still, according to the official pronouncement, the heating will never come on. Let's forget the fact that I am not allowed to have a space heater in my office- thank you to some previous teacher who accidentally left his on and melted his office chair into a smoking, toxic lump, causing the administration to ban personal space heaters from the offices. (Hmm, does that extend to the rest of the campus, or is it just us foreigners who are thought of as incompetent?) Being on the north side of the building means it will be at least an additional few degrees colder, but in my office I can always throw on an extra coat or two. But the classrooms will still be dang cold.
Even with those extra 15 or so bodies, students will likely still be shivering, or at least complaining about the cold. I don't know if you have ever tried it before, but it is hard enough to get them to speak English. It is even harder if their teeth are chattering.

Third, OK, let's say it does get down to zero. Glory and hallelujah, the heating will come on. Of course it will take those first two hours to warm up the classrooms from the night before. I have yet to experience it, but I am told when the heat comes on, it really comes on! Which means the rest of the day, people will probably be complaining about the heat. And seeing as the common way to do something about the heat here is to open the window (summer or winter), I am sure students will be opening the windows. Of course this just means the heating will get wasted to the outdoors and the system will consequently have to work harder, leading to more heat, more complaints, more open windows, etc., etc., etc,. Things rarely work the way they should. They way you think they would.

Korea is not alone in poor temperature control idiosyncrasies. I have seen my fair share of energy wasters at home and abroad. I, myself, in my formative years, was told many a time, "Shut the door. I am not paying to cool the outdoors." (I grew up in the desert.) It is just too bad all the knowledge learned by one individual, group, or culture seems to take so long to get passed on to the next. A lot of mistakes could be avoided if we, we meaning everyone, would just open ourselves to learning about the good and the bad from others. Too often people and cultures take from other people and cultures by just skimming the good things from the top, and never go through the learning process of what made those things good and other things bad.

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.
- Aldous Huxley

Fortunately, Koreans are now starting to put centralized, thermostatically controlled heating and cooling into buildings; unfortunately, it is only in new buildings, and I won't be in them.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Here is another picture of me if you are interested. This is really just a test of the hello program. Posted by Hello

Monday, November 01, 2004

This I know ...

... These posts are likely to be few and far between. I never seem to have enough time for the things I want to do, but I always seem to be wasting time on one thing or another.

Here will go my thoughts, random in nature and generally obscure. I could write about flying monkeys one day and nothing the next. I expect though, that a lot of what goes down here will be about life in Korea. Please prepare yourself. Although I do generally like life here, I don't seem to talk about it much unless I am complaining about it. I will try not to be too negative.

For those of you who don't know, I am an American citizen by birth, but a world citizen by choice. I chose to get out and see some of the world. There is still a lot left for me to see, but I have been in Korea for a while now. Teaching English here is a fairly easy life, and it lets me be "somewhere else." Plus, I get to take vacations and go see new things and new places.

That is about all for this post. If you read it, thank you very much. If not, thanks for at least stopping by. If you haven't stopped by, let me psychically thank you anyway. Jama rek.