Stuff I Know

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

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hey, it's winter.

AndongNo, not really. In fact it is still pretty darn hot here. But, even though I complain about the weather. It could be worse. These are the forecasts for one day last week for Andong, left, and Las Vegas, right. Why Las Vegas, well that is because I grew up in Las Vegas, so for a large portion of my life, that is what I was used to.

Las Vegas

Notice that Las Vegas' low is still 1 degree higher than Andong's high. Think about that a minute. That means in Andong, with the temperature at its highest, I am still cooler than the folks back home in Las Vegas at their coldest. Now if only I could reduce the humidity a bit, I'd feel even better.

I went hiking the other day and found another friend to photograph.
He was so small that I had a hard time taking his picture, especially using only one hand. I like praying mantises. I think it is because they look so alien with their triangle heads and unique hunting style. They are a unique creature in the insect world; and they are beneficial. So don't kill them!

Since picking season is almost over, I though I would entice you one last time with some more raspberries. There may not be many out there left to pick, though. But any you can get would be better than none. I found a large patch and picked all these in about five minutes.

And finally, it is winter over on my photo blog. I have posted a new set that was mostly photographed during the winter season. Click the link above or the photo below to go have a look. Maybe it will help you feel cooler.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

A few more photos from fall.

Just a quick post to let you know I have added a few more photos on the photo blog. Go have a look if you are interested.

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Saturday, July 09, 2005


It rained most of the day today. The 10 day forecast isn't looking too good either. The rain isn't all that bad. It does cool things off. I just wish, when the forecast is for thunderstorms, there would actually be thunderstorms instead of just rain. I love a good lightning and thunderstorm. Here in Korea lightning doesn't seem to be all that common. I have heard a couple of claps of thunder in Andong, but it can't compare to the storms I grew up with in Las Vegas. Now there were some great lightning storms. I love when the lightning strikes right over your head and the thunder pounds you instantly. I have only been close to an actual lightning strike once. That was in Africa. It was a little scary, but exciting at the same time.

Yesterday was cloudy, but I went riding anyway. It was a hot, sweaty ride. I took the road that follows Andong lake along the left side. It is a dirt road for most of the way, but luckily there was almost no mud or standing water. It was also a very distracting ride.

Distracting because of these ...

As I was riding along I kept seeing raspberry bushes. I had to stop every now and then because almost each bush looked so much riper and juicier than the previous one. There was some good eating along the way. I have to say I still think the ones growing in partial shade taste better. What are you waiting for? Go out there and start picking. Be sure to check them before you pop them in your mouth, though. I almost ate a worm!

It was also distracting because of this guy ...

I almost ran over him on the road. Luckily(?) I missed, so I turned around and went back to have a look. He didn't move so I took the chance and took a few photos. He was a good model, though not very lively. If you click here, you can see a close up of his head (it is just a crop of the above picture). Finally he did get up and do a little dance and I got a picture.

There was one more thing that made me get off the bike to take some pictures.

I know I have taken pictures of flowers like these before, but this time there were a lot of them in a big bunch. I though it would make a good picture. What do you think?

And finally the update. I have added a new collection to my photo blog. This time it is mostly just a bunch of photos of some old houses. I have seen them several times, but I thought you might like to take a look. Click the photo below or click here to go to the photo blog. I hope you like the photos.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Take a look at this.

This is the 10 day forecast from last Monday. Look at that will you! The rain is almost biblical in scale.

But luckily, weather prognostication being what it is, the weather is the weather and does what it wants, changing all the time. Yesterday, Tuesday, was cloudy and humid, but no rain. And today was sunny, hot, and humid.

I went for a walk yesterday and almost stepped on a snake. He was green like the grass, and if he hadn't moved, I probably would have gotten bit. It wouldn't have been my fault, though. He was sitting right on the path.

From what I saw, he was really quick- off the path and into the tall grass in a few seconds, it looked like a typical green grass/garter type snake. Apparently there are a couple of venomous snakes in Korea, but I didn't see this one's head so I couldn't tell if it fit the traditional viper shape or not. After Googling a while, the snake I saw didn't look like any snakes associated with Korea.

Irrational Beliefs
Evidently someone here died of "fan death" recently, and this time the story made it to KBS, one of the national news stations. Yes, you heard me right there, "fan death." (People unfamiliar with the phenomenon of fan death might want to click that link.)For some reason, unbeknownst to any non-Korean, Koreans believe that if you leave the fan on in a closed room while sleeping, you will die. Pure and simple, no ifs, ands, or buts about it you will die.

The cause of death is the fan, but reasons given to justify this belief range from the fan sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, to the fan cooling your body temperature down to hypothermic levels. I won't even comment on the first one. The second one has been more recently spouted by the more "intellectual" types, but it seems to me that since the human body generates heat, and the fan's motor gives off heat, in a closed room, how are you going to get the core body temperature down to 30 degrees C ( 86 degrees F) where the body's other systems start to fail. Sure there is convection, but convection requires cool air moving across the surface of the body. And generally, the reason you turn on the fan in the first place is because the air is too warm. Additionally, any convection warms the air. Where is this cool air going to come from in a closed room?

The thing that is so amazing is that normally rational Koreans will believe in this. And they will cling to this belief like a drowning man to a life preserver even after you have shown them that all of the information they have been given is based on hearsay or fallacy. There was even a statement from the KBS news program that said: "You should keep in mind that leaving a fan on in a sealed room while sleeping is nearly an act of suicide." (Not my translation.) This is a supposed news program, mind you. The professor used in the piece gave a version of the hypothermia excuse, but I am still sticking to what I said above.

It makes me wonder about the quality of Korean forensic science and jurisprudence when someone can be found dead in a room, and the fan is blamed. I am pretty sure the folks from C.S.I (Vegas , Miami, or New York) would not be listing "fan" as cause of death. Heck, in Korea if you were of a homicidal nature you could smother your significant other with a pillow, close all the windows, turn the fan on, leave to go have a beer, and come back and lament to the authorities that he/she never listened to you about the fan. Almost the perfect crime.

I guess I must be superhuman or something because I have slept in closed rooms with a fan on numerous times an I am still here today. Why just last night I was doubly tempting fate by sleeping with the fan and the air conditioner on, though the air conditioner was on a timer to go off in couple of hours. Not because I was scared, just because I am cheap. Hmm, maybe it is only Koreans who can die of fan death.

Much thanks for a great image from a great friend.

Really beautiful, isn't it? My hometown. Yes, that is where I grew up. Although when I was growing up, all the houses you see there didn't exist. This picture was taken by my good friend Rhonda from the top of Lone Mountain, a peak just on the edge of the Las Vegas valley.

This is actually an amazingly clear picture for a summer day in Vegas. Looking at the large version of the picture, in the distance, you can see the hotels of the strip about 11 miles (17.7 km) away. If you look at the tower to the left, my house, my dad's house actually, is a little over halfway between the peak and the tower.

Back in Korea there are mountains of a different kind. And on some of those mountains are Buddhist temples. Here is one of those temples. I call this picture, "Gateway to the past."

I just changed the coloring of what is seen through the gate.

"Time always seems long to the child who is waiting - for Christmas, for next summer, for becoming a grownup: long also when he surrenders his whole soul to each moment of a happy day"
~ Dag Hammarskjold

"Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world."
~ Ada Louise Huxtable


Friday, July 01, 2005

A few images.

It is still rainy as heck, but yesterday it was sunny most of the day so I went out for a ride. It is nice to just choose a direction and go ... not knowing where you are going or what you will see. Seeing somewhere new is always interesting even if the scenery isn't always that interesting. This time the scenery was good though. But you'll have to wait to see those photos.

I started in the direction of Mureung, but then followed the river there till it met up with the Naktong river. There were a couple of side roads along the way, and I came across lots of these.
Yes, I did eat these.
If you didn't know, it is berry picking season. I suggest you go out as soon as you can, climb some mountains and have a feast. For me the best tasting kind are ones that have been growing in partial shade. Sure, the ones growing in full sun are good eating too, but the others just taste sweeter to me.

At one spot on the ride, I was eating these as fast as I could pick some good ones. It was so hot and humid I was using them to replace my fluids. I was really sweating.

The road followed the Naktong and went up the side of a cliff to continue along the river. It was really scenic. Of course the road had to go down the other side, but that was fun too. I have learned that my hat has problems staying on once I start going faster than 40 km per hour. I have to grab it and quickly put my hands back on the handlebars. Yes, I should just get one with a chin string, but this is my souvenir from Vietnam.

Very pretty, and growing in profusion in places. It is roadside flower season in Korea, too. Actually there seem to be flowers along the roads most of the year. Early summer just seems to be yellow flower season.

Sorry, I don't know what those are called. I never was much of a botanist. For me, the flowers were always covering up the interesting rocks. But my appreciation of beauty grows as the years continue on.

Sometimes those side roads weren't always that interesting, but there was still stuff to see, and hills to ride down.

Of course, to go down a hill, you first have to go up one. Towards the end of the ride I had the choice of crossing a bridge and following the river along a flat road, or turning left and following the river via a cliff-side dirt road. For some reason I chose the latter. I sometimes seem to do that, choose the more difficult. I don't know why, but it does usually work out OK.

The road up was more rubble than dirt. It seemed to be carved right out of the hillside following the tilt of the layers of rock.

At times it was difficult going. I needed to stop a couple of times and rest in what little shade there was. I even contemplated turning around and going back down.

But I could see, up ahead of me, the turn in the road. It still continued to climb, but it made the turn around the valley, and up there I would be climbing in shade. If only I could make it a little further, the going would be easier.

Eventually I made it up to the top. It continued along for a while and then started down. The way down was over the mountain and away from the river into a valley. But that was fine with me. It was getting late and time to start heading home.

Nope, sorry, I don't know the name of this one eitherThe ride down was fun. A little scary at times, but thrilling most of the time. When I first started mountain bike riding, I really hated hill climbs. They were my bane. I would even pick roads and trails that would assure me no difficult hills. But I quickly learned that by avoiding the hills I was limiting where I could go and what I could see. Sure, the scenery was nice where I was going, but it was all the same. No new adventure, no special rewards. It just goes to show you that the easiest road may not always be the best.

Now I can climb hills with the best of them. Sure, I may not always be first to the top, but I am assured of making it, without complaint, and on the bike. Why walk when the whole object of taking a bike is to ride.

The valley down from the hill was pretty isolated. But it was a valley, and in Korea that means farming. It was pretty. I had a general idea of where I was, but I stopped and asked a local just to be sure.

Now talking to local farm folk is usually interesting. My Korean may not be great, but I can ask simple questions. And in fact, I have been told my Korean pronunciation is pretty darn good when I try. So why is it that often locals have difficulty understanding when I talk to them?

I have come to believe, and it is not just me, that locals just don't expect us foreigners to be speaking Korean. So when it is coming out of our mouths, they aren't really listening for it. I think this is born out by the fact that after trying to talk to them for a while, without changing what or how I am speaking, the locals suddenly seem to understand. Luckily I had no such problem with the individual I chose to speak to.

It turned out I was on the right road. But it turned out a bit later I still had a lot further to go than I though I did. And that hill I came down wasn't the last one I had to climb.

But of course I did make it home. Around 7:30 in the evening or so. I didn't die of thirst. I was tired and a little saddle sore, but it was a really nice ride.

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures. I don't really have much else to say, but I do have a few more pictures. So I will leave you with those.

"Great is the road I climb, but the garland offered by an easier effort is not worth the gathering."
~ Propertius

"It takes a little courage, and a little self -- control. And some grim determination, If you want to reach the goal. It takes a deal of striving, and a firm and stern-set chin. No matter what the battle, If you really want to win. There's no easy path to glory, There's no road to fame. Life, however we may view it, Is no simple parlor game; But it's prizes call for fighting, For endurance and for grit; For a rugged disposition and don't know when to quit."
~ Unknown

"The road is uneven, its difficulties constant. At each step a wall, at each step a trap. ... Nevertheless they go forward in their madness. ... The bold ones continue. They are eyed by the eagles; the lightning plays about them: the hurricane is furious. No matter, they persevere."
~ Victor Hugh

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