Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Bell Cannot Be Unrung

My Christmas present this year was a genetic phenotyping kit from 23andme. Before you do anything, they recommend that you register your kit (submit your name and a barcode number on the test tube you receive). Part of their terms of service:
You may learn information about yourself that you do not anticipate. Once you obtain your genetic information, the knowledge is irrevocable.
I wonder what kind of drama has happened that they felt the need to include something like this in their TOS.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Giveaway Update

Thanks to everyone who's stepped up for some free books and helped me clean out my library. I've mailed out a few books this week and I'll continue to mail them out through the holidays and into the new year. Going through my collection I realize there are still more I've overlooked in my zeal to get the list online; I'll be adding those shortly.

Books that have been claimed with an address have been deleted; struck through books have been claimed but without an address, so you might still have a chance to get them.

And most importantly, safe and warm wishes to you and yours this new year!


Photoshop 7 For Dummies

Computer Science

C++ For the Absolute Beginner Taken!


Readings in World Politics.

Foreign Languages

Teach Yourself: Japanese Taken!


The Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus. Sophocles.

Just For Fun

Country and Blues Harmonica For the Musically Hopeless. KLUTZ publishers.

Dr. Laura. (Note: a trashy, unauthorized exposé biography.)

Assorted "lateral thinking" puzzle collections, four in all. Example of such a puzzle: One day, a man and his son are out for a drive. They're in a terrible accident that kills the father instantly and sends the son to the hospital for emergency surgery. Upon arrival, the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy, he's my son." How is this possible?


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Al Franken

Worst Case Scenario: College.

Dilbert Gives You the Business. Scott Adams.

Bloom County: Loose Tails. Berke Breathed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Books Giveaway Update!

Some have been claimed and mailed already; others have appeared from the dark recesses of...well, all over the house, really.

Ones I've already mailed have been deleted already. Ones struck through have been claimed but I don't have an address. If you want any of those, they're still around for the taking. Maybe. Never hurts to ask!

New Hotness
  • Teach Yourself: Japanese Taken!
  • Teach Yourself: Yoga Taken!
  • The Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus. Sophocles.
  • Dilbert Gives You the Business. Scott Adams.
  • Bloom County: Loose Tails. Berke Breathed.

Photography. London, Uston, Stone, Kobré, Brill. (Note: this was my textbook from the photography class I took [and dropped out of] in college.) Taken! (Kyana)

Photography: A Practical Guide. McWhinnie & Andrews. Taken! (Nadine)

Learning to See Creatively. Peterson. Taken! (Amy)

Photoshop 7 For Dummies

Utopia & Reality: Modernity in Sweden, 1900 - 1960. (Note: this was a textbook for a Swedish Modernism class I took at Stockholms Universitet. It's in English.) Taken!

Berlin: Gestern und Heute. (Note: this is a coffee table book I picked up at a thrift store. It's in German.)


En bonne forme. (Note: textbook from AP French) Taken! (Nadine)

Sur le vif.  (Note: textbook from college French) Taken! (Nadine)

These are both intermediate level French textbooks.


Six Figure Freelancing Taken! (Emma)

Perrine's Literature, Sixth Edition (Note: textbook from AP Literature & Composition) Taken! (Amy)

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume D: Between the Wars Taken! (fourthmonth)

Computer Science

SAMS Teach Yourself Visual Basic in 24 Hours Taken! (Katy)

C++ For the Absolute Beginner Taken!


Readings in World Politics.

The Great Depression and World War 2: Organizing America, 1933 - 1945. Gerald D. Nash Taken! (Amy)

Karl Marx. Sprigge. Taken! (ohhhitslove)

Soft Sciences

Basic Psychology. Gleitman. Taken! (Emma)

Sociological Footprints. Corgon & Ballantine. Taken! (Amy)

Just For Fun

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten. (Note: a collection of assorted moral and ethical hypothetical situations, along with philosophical commentary.) Taken! (Katy)

Wittgenstein's Poker. (Edmonds & Eidinow) (Note: About the famed confrontation between Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein at Cambridge in 1946.) Taken!

Made in America. (Bill Bryson) (Note: About the differences between British English and American English.) Taken!

Fat Land. (Greg Critser) (Note: About high fructose corn syrup in American food.) Taken! (fourthmonth)

Country and Blues Harmonica For the Musically Hopeless. KLUTZ publishers.

Greasy Rider. (Melville) (Note: About two guys who drive across the country in a frying grease-powered Mercedes, and also about what people are doing about renewable energy all over the country.) Taken! (fourthmonth)

Dr. Laura. (Note: a trashy, unauthorized exposé biography.)

Assorted "lateral thinking" puzzle collections, four in all. Example of such a puzzle: One day, a man and his son are out for a drive. They're in a terrible accident that kills the father instantly and sends the son to the hospital for emergency surgery. Upon arrival, the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy, he's my son." How is this possible?


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Al Franken

Worst Case Scenario: College.

Worst Case Scenario: Travel. Taken! (Kyana)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Full Adder Circuit Bracelet: In Detail

I had a request from a customer for a more detailed portrayal of the Full Adder Circuit Bracelet (an idea for which Rae really has the lion's share of the credit). Hopefully this image should about do it. I would like to note that, nerd as I am, I'm not so much of a hardware or electronics freak, so this is an area a bit outside the realm of my expertise. That is to say, I can only half understand circuit diagrams; the bracelet below is based on a schematic Rae sent me that she had adapted herself into a bead-friendly form. I'll need to pick Lawyer Mom's brain on it later so I can better articulate what it is that I'm doing.

geek electronics computer circuit jewelry
The Full Adder Circuit Bracelet, deconstructed*

 The bracelet, as pictured here, has had the clasp taken off so I could present a more organized, easy-to-see reference image. On the clasp end, you have the inputs: A, B, and Cin. On the opposite end, you have Cout and S. They connect to the different gates and, unlike a circuit diagram, I've shown the values between gates. When B (value of zero/off, represented by the cream-colored mookaite tube) and Cin (value of one/on, represented by the faux turquoise) input to the first XOR gate, it outputs one. And when the second XOR gate has two "on" inputs, it outputs zero/off. (These are all obviously very amateur terms; like I said, I'm not a hardware freak or an electrical engineer.)

Of course, it's hard to represent something that's flat, brittle, and broad in a medium that's curved, fluid(ish) and narrow. This is a piece whose nerdiness must needs be subtle. I dig it, though! I think the overall effect is quite stylish.

*At the time of this photographing, there was a small error; a chain had broken off at work and I reconnected it at the wrong place. It's fixed now, and all loops in all chains have been secured. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Foodie Friday: C is for Cookie...

This weekend is our church's annual Christmas cookie sale. Having nothing else to do during the day (minus a custom order I just received), I have been baking up a storm. Here are some recipes I've found—all off of Pinterest—that are stress-free in the kitchen and flaw-free in your mouth.

Nutella Cookies

Oh, you heard correctly! Nutella cookies. Two ingredient Nutella cookies.

One cup Nutella + one egg + 375 F for 8 to 10 minutes =

Bonus points: these are (obviously) gluten-free! If you are trying to bake around someone with special dietary needs this holiday season, put these cookies at the top of your list. And make a few batches because everyone will want these. Unless they are a weirdo who hates Nutella, like Lawyer Mom.

Mint Chocolate Cookies

"My kids are HUGE fans of mint chocolate ice cream." writes Crafty Girl. What a coincidence, so am I! As soon as I saw this photo on Pinterest, I knew I had to try them:

The green food coloring is just perfection; the mint extract in the dough is a nice touch that makes it very minty. Here, for the link phobic, is Crafty Girl's (sister's) Mint Chocolate Cookie recipe (it's a bit more involved than the Nutella cookies):

  • 2 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature) (Ed. note: I use salted and they came out just as fine)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp mint extract
  • 15-20 drops green food coloring
  • 1 bag of Andes mints (chopped)
  • Preheat oven 375 degrees.  
  • Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt) together and set aside.  
  • Solicit your kids to unwrap the Andes mints...or, for the childless, do it yourself. Then, chop them up.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. 
  • Beat in egg and mint extract. 
  • Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Add green food coloring and mix until even colored.  
  • Last, but not least, fold in the chopped Andes mints.
  • Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, flatten, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let stand on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving them to wire racks to cool. 

Molasses Snickerdoodles

Much as I love chocolate, I figured the next batch should should be a touch less so. Just for variety's sake. Nothing can stop my incurable sweet tooth, however. NOTHING! So these snickerdoodles from Jen's Favorite Cookies are the next on my agenda today:

  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups flour

  1. Cream shortening, sugar, molasses and egg.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together, then add to sugar mixture and mix until combined.
  3. Form into balls and roll in sugar. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes.

So there you have it! These are going to be my cookies for the season. What are yours?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What I'm Reading: Vodka Neat

Vodka Neat was one of two bagfuls of books I picked up at The Strand in NYC a couple of years ago. It was on their curbside discount shelving, full of ARCs from all the New York publishing houses, Dan Brown novels, and other literary dross no one ever wants. The title alone was enough to make me want it, and the price ($1) was equally encouraging. What sold me was the beginning of the dust jacket summary:
How could I say no to that? Vodka Neat went home with me and stayed on my shelf for the next two years. I didn't start reading it until yesterday. One of my goals on my 101 in 1001 list is to read at least three books I've owned for over a year but haven't finished yet, and this seemed as good a place to start as any.

Blundy's writing is surprisingly crisp and to the point. Truth without bullshit indeed! Coming off the heels of some misadventures into chick lit, I was surprised at how fun and readable this was.

Vodka Neat is marketed as a thriller, which is not a genre I usually read. I don't know how to compare to others of the genre, but it isn't particularly thrilling. Yet. (After only four chapters.) Which isn't to say it isn't good, because it is, but so far it seems like "mystery" might be a better fit. I've been picking it up and putting it down periodically. It's not really action-packed enough for it to be a real page-turner; it's more a pleasant diversion. My only real complaint is that sometimes the timeline is disorienting; Faith (the protagonist) slips into flashbacks pretty readily and it's hard to get a sense of exactly how long ago these things happened.

Faith was in Moscow in 1989, age 19, with her Russian husband Dmitri. After a drunken night out, she stumbles home and catches sight of a crime scene, a gruesome ax-wielded double-homocide. Her husband leaves her, and Faith leaves Russia.

Fifteen years later, Faith is a foreign news correspondent on assignment to Moscow. Immediately upon arrival she's hauled off by police who claim she's their number one suspect in this Cold War-era crime. Let go after a brief questioning, she sets off to find her now-committed husband and figure out just what happened.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Giveaway: Round 1

Now that I'm back from Korea, it's time for me to get ready to move to Sweden. (I can just never stay still, can I?) It'll be a while before I have enough shelf space in Sweden to accommodate my library here in the States; plus, the less I have to ship over, the better.

I have a lot of books to give away!

This is the grand list for Round 1 (my reference/non-fiction collection). If you see anything you need/want here, please send me an email (gmail, kokoba) with the word BOOKS in the title, and include what you want and where I should send it.

That's it. There's no contest, no rules, I just want to send my books to a good home.

Everything is first come first serve. I'll post periodic updates about what's left. Whatever's left by February 1st will end up at a local library. Then comes Round 2: Fiction.

The good stuff!


Photography. London, Uston, Stone, Kobré, Brill. (Note: this was my textbook from the photography class I took [and dropped out of] in college.)

Photography: A Practical Guide. McWhinnie & Andrews.

Learning to See Creatively. Peterson.

Photoshop 7 For Dummies

Utopia & Reality: Modernity in Sweden, 1900 - 1960. (Note: this was a textbook for a Swedish Modernism class I took at Stockholms Universitet. It's in English.) Taken!

Berlin: Gestern und Heute. (Note: this is a coffee table book I picked up at a thrift store. It's in German.)


En bonne forme. (Note: textbook from AP French)

Sur le vif.  (Note: textbook from college French)

These are both intermediate level French textbooks.


Leonard Cohen Selected Poems

Six Figure Freelancing

Perrine's Literature, Sixth Edition (Note: textbook from AP Literature & Composition)

The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume D: Between the Wars

Computer Science

SAMS Teach Yourself Visual Basic in 24 Hours

C++ For the Absolute Beginner Taken!


Greek Ways. Edith Thornton. Taken!

Readings in World Politics.

The Great Depression and World War 2: Organizing America, 1933 - 1945. Gerald D. Nash

Karl Marx. Sprigge.

Soft Sciences

Basic Psychology. Gleitman.

Sociological Footprints. Corgon & Ballantine.

Just For Fun

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten. (Note: a collection of assorted moral and ethical hypothetical situations, along with philosophical commentary.)

Wittgenstein's Poker. (Edmonds & Eidinow) (Note: About the famed confrontation between Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein at Cambridge in 1946.)

Made in America. (Bill Bryson) (Note: About the differences between British English and American English.)

Fat Land. (Greg Critser) (Note: About high fructose corn syrup in American food.)

Country and Blues Harmonica For the Musically Hopeless. KLUTZ publishers.

Greasy Rider. (Melville)

Dr. Laura. (Note: a trashy, unauthorized exposé biography.)

Assorted "lateral thinking" puzzle collections, four in all. Example of such a puzzle: One day, a man and his son are out for a drive. They're in a terrible accident that kills the father instantly and sends the son to the hospital for emergency surgery. Upon arrival, the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy, he's my son." How is this possible?


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Al Franken

Worst Case Scenario: College.

Worst Case Scenario: Travel.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

101 in 1001: Update

Wow, I've neglected to update about this here! I've been so caught up in my vacation and leaving Korea, I guess. Well, now I'm home, so there's no excuse.

In progress:

I finished a book from the TIME Top 100 list, Lucky Jim. (3 - 3) It was pretty good, though not the most mind-blowing thing I've read on the list so far. On the other hand, definitely not the worst. I also started reading Cry, The Beloved Country.

I also emailed my grandmother for Thanksgiving. (4 - 2)

I watched a North Korean "documentary" on Western propaganda. I use the word documentary very loosely, but they still make some unsettling points. Of course, whether or not it's actually North Korean can't really be verified, but I'm still going to count it both as a documentary and as a foreign movie. (9 - 5) (9 - 6)


I sent my moderately-sized pile of money home, including my pension. (2 - 6) (2 - 7)

As you've seen from my posts and pictures, I also went to Gwangju. (3 - 6)

I went to the dentist and got a few cavities filled. (6 - 8)


None since the last update.

21 / 101 completed!

1 / 101 failed!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving, I'm away from my family. This marks the  third Thanksgiving in a row I've been away from home for my favorite American holiday. With all due love and respect to my family, though, there's no place I'd rather be than where I am right now. I'm making the most of my time here in South Korea, spending it with friends I may never see again. Friends I would have never met if I hadn't decided to take this oddball route to South Korea, even while juggling my crafting and ultimate expatriation to Sweden. In that spirit of gratitude, awe and wonderment, I offer you this oft-quoted pearl of wisdom from Carl Sagan:

Carl Sagan apple pie quote

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ten Books Every Woman In Her Twenties Should Read

This came to me via Pinterest; I suspect it was one of those many, many pins that people repin without going back to the original source, because I don't think the woman I follow would be so vapid as to actually like or recommend the books listed. Anyway, here it is:

10 Books Every Girl Should Read in Her Twenties

The comments are hilarious, but I decided to take one half of the flame war's advice to heart and write my own list. So here it is!

I thought about the criteria for a moment, probably more than I should: what life lessons do I think women my age "should" be learning? Why should you read any book at all? Is the purpose of a list like this entertain, to educate, or both? Neither? What makes a book of particular interest to women, as opposed to everyone? I think the list ended up kind of schizophrenic in that regard, but I think it's nonetheless an improvement.

(At Least) 10 Books Every Woman Should Read in Her Twenties, by Kokoba
  1. For the coming-of-age tale, I'd have to choose either Martha Quest or The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Both have female protagonists approaching, or eventually in, their twenties; they are both well-drawn and complex characters that I think (hope?) most women can relate to, despite both books being published over fifty years ago.
  2. The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf. While I think criticisms of her (lack of) intersectionality are fair (it's more than middle class white women in feminism), The Beauty Myth was incredibly eye-opening for me. Wolf articulated so many things that I felt but couldn't adequately express. You'll never look at a magazine the same way again.
  3. Likewise, Betty Friedan's seminal The Feminine Mystique, the other big feminist text of the 20th century.
  4. Much as I hate money, we live in a world where managing finances is important. The two names I see tossed around a lot when it comes to money and saving are Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey. So either Orman's The Money Book For the Young, Fabulous, and Broke or Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. Preferably both.
  5. On the flip side of money, I'd also recommend Bill McKibben's Deep Economy. You can agree or disagree with his solution (I don't think turning everything over to local communities is any kind of magic bullet cure), but the problem he outlines is compelling and worth serious consideration at a point in your life when you're laying the foundations for everything else: growth for the sake of growth doesn't make us happy.
  6. What's being in your twenties without ridiculous shenanigans? Not as fun (or dangerous) as it could be. But if that's not your bag, don't worry: the characters in Iris Murdoch's Under the Net get up to extremely hilarious mischief for you. Likewise, when you're down and out, watching someone else's life go to shambles is perversely comforting. This is the perfect book for that occasional morning-after moment: "My God, what did I do last night?!" Confession: this book has definitely provided that kind of comfort for me.
  7. Perhaps the only item from the original list that I'd keep is 20-Something, 20-Everything by Christine Hassler. I'm not normally one for woo-sounding self-help books, but we all need moments of introspection and over the course of the book Hassler forces you into just that.
  8. If I'm allowed to skew my list towards my nerdy pursuits (and I am, because it's my damn list!), then this slot goes to either Carl Sagan's Cosmos or Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Not only our world, but our universe is an immeasurably vast and spectacular place; to go through life without that epiphany is a sad life indeed.
  9. Your mother's (or mother-substitute's) favorite book. Lawyer Mom was also a fiendish bookworm growing up, and when I turned ten she gave me her favorite book of all time, A Wrinkle in Time. Sharing favorite books deepens relationships, and maintaining strong relationships with positive female role models is important when you're young and directionless. Even if you hate the book, you've still learned something about her you didn't know before.
  10. And, finally, allow me one piece of cheese on this list: Paulo Coehlo's Veronika Decides to Die. You can summarize the whole book as "carpe diem," honestly, but it really resonated with me when I read it at age 23.

And that, after days of deliberation, would be my list of "10 books every woman in her twenties should read."

 What's yours?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Music Monday: Booker T. and the M.G.s

Don't you ever wish your life had a soundtrack? I know I do, and yesterday my soundtrack for the day would just be one long extended version of this song.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Glorious Vacation: Day 4

Day 4 was Friday, which was when I was leaving Gwangju to see a friend in Busan. I had to do at least one May 18th related thing while I was in Gwangju (see my reason for choosing to visit it at all), so I decided the best one would be the May 18th National Cemetery. I kind of wish I had done something for the April 19th protest as well, but truth be told there wasn't that much.

The bus that goes to the cemetery (and the surrounding cemeteries where I think other victims of the May 18th massacre are buried) is the number 518. 518. 5/18. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

I totally spaced out on the bus and accidentally rode it to the end of the line, which is an old folks' home.

Putting the old folks' home next to a shit load of cemeteries? Really?

Anyway, I had an awkward little moment where I got out of the bus, sat at the bus stop and read for a few minutes, then got back on the same bus with the same driver, but whatever. Fortunately I hadn't overshot the cemetery by nearly as much as I thought I had, so it was all good.

I kind of lost it at the cemetery, y'all. Maybe it's because I'm a big baby, but it was an awfully sobering couple hours. I've been to war memorials before (trips to Washington, D.C. much?) which are in the same vein, but none of them have been as serious and real to me as this. Everyone who died in the May 18th massacre were civilians, or students (at least, everyone buried in this cemetery; I don't think the police officers or paratroopers who died are buried in this cemetery), which to me makes it entirely different. Soldiers are expected (sadly) to die; students are not. Especially not at the hands of their own government. Plus, so many of them would be my parents' age, about, if they had survived: all of these people would have been someone's father or mother, if things had been different. They could have been the parents of someone who would have been my friend. Not to mention even younger casualties: small children inadvertently caught in the crossfire.

In case it's hard to read:
Here in the National Cemetery for the May 18th Democratic Uprising lie the meritorious persons who fought and sacrificed themselves during the Gwangju Uprising of 1980 and those laudable victims who died in the aftermath of the physical or mental injuries they sustained.

The bodies of the victims were carried in garbage trucks and carts and buried without official reognition in the Old May 18 Cemetery (the 3rd graveyard of the Municipal Cemetery).

With the completion of a 3-year conservation project (1994-1997), all bodies were moved and reburied together in this new cemetery. In accordance with the Act on the Honorable Treatment for Meritorious Persons of the May 18th Uprising, this cemetery, which had been managed by the Gwangju Municipal Administration, was promoted and renamed as the National Cemetery for the May 18th Democratic Uprising on July 27, 2002 by the Korean state.

This cemetery will function as an education center, promoting the conviction that injustice and dictatorship should never return to this country, so that the spirit of the May 18th may be engraved on the hearts of all people making this a sacred place for democracy forever.

Beyond the "gate" is the cemetery proper.

English translation:

Oh, Gwangju! The Cross of Our Nation! by Kim Jun-tae

Oh, Gwangju! Mudeung Mountain!
Our city of eternal youth
that sheds blood tears
between deaths!

Where has our father gone?
Where has our mother collapsed?
Where has our Son died and been buried?
And, where does our Daughter lie dead, her mouth gaping?
Where have our soul and spirit
gone, torn and broken into pieces?

Gwangju, which both God and birds have left!
Our blood-covered city
where decent people
are still alive, morning and evening,
collapsing, falling down, and rising again!
Ah, the phoenix, the phoenix, the phoenix
of the South Province full of wailing
that has tried to drive away death with death,
and to seek life with death!

When the sun and the moon nosedive
and all the mountain ridges
stand shamelessly high,
ah, the flag of liberty
that nobody can tear down
or take away!
The flag of humanity!
The flag, hardened with flesh and bones!

Oh, our city
where at times our songs, dreams, and love
roll like waves,
and at other times we are hidden in graves.
Oh, Gwangju, Gwangju
who carries the cross of this nation,
climbing over Mudeung Mountain,
and walks over the hill of Golgotha!
Oh, the son of God,
whose whole body is covered with wounds,
and who is the emblem of death!

Are we really quite dead?
unable to love this country any more,
unable to love our children any more?
Are we absolutely dead?

On Chungjangro, on Kumnamro,
At Hwajungdong, at Sansoodong, at Yongbongdong
At Jisandong, at Yangdong, at Kyerimdong,
And, and, and . . . .
Ah, the wind that blows over,
gobbling up our blood and flesh!
The hopeless flow of time!

Should we now
just collapse, fall, and cry?
Terrified of life, how should we
breathe a breath?

Oh, all those survive
lower their heads like sinners.
All those still alive have lost
spirit, and they find it difficult
even to face their rice bowls.
Afraid, they don’t know what to do.

(Dear, I was killed
while I was waiting for you,
waiting for you outside the door.
Why did they take away my life?
Though we lived in a rented room,
we were quite happy.
I wanted to live, loving you.
Oh, my dear!
But I was killed like this,
pregnant with a child of yours.
I am sorry, my dear!
They took away my life from me,
and I took away everything of yours,
your youth, your love,
your son, and all.
Oh, my dear! In the end,
did I kill you?)

Oh, Gwangju! Mudeung Mountain!
Our city of eternal youth
who breaks through deaths
and flutters the ends of white clothes!
The phoenix, the phoenix, the phoenix!
The son of God of this nation
who climbs up the hill of Golgotha again,
carrying the cross of this nation!

Jesus is said to have died once
and been resurrected,
and to live till this day or rather forever.
But our true love
that would die hundreds of deaths
and yet resurrects itself hundreds of times!
Our light, glory, and pain.
Now we will be revived ever more.
Now we become ever stronger.
Now we – ever more.

Oh, now we,
putting our shoulders to shoulders, bones to bones,
climb the Mudeung Mountain of this nation.
Oh, we rise up to the oddly blue sky
to kiss the sun and the moon.

Gwangju! Mudeung Mountain!
Oh, our eternal flag!
Our dream, our cross!
The city of youth that will get younger
as time goes by!
Now we are firmly united,
surely and surely,
we hold each other’s hands tight
and rise up.

To the one side there was an indoor photo memorial, with photos of everyone interred and either white or yellow artificial flowers. To the other was a "tree memorial," a rather nice, bright contrast to the dark and serious photo memorial. It's basically a nicely-manicured garden.

On the same side as the tree memorial was the May 18th museum, one of the more modern museums I've seen in Korea. Since the cemetery was dedicated in the early 2000s, its modernity makes sense. I would have gotten more out of it if my Korean weren't terrible, as they had short documentaries playing at every exhibit, but I did absorb as much of the English signage as I could. (I have to say, I don't think I could stomach an old school Korean version of a May 18th museum: those would be the bloodiest, most upsetting dioramas of all time.)

The one that stuck with me the most, for whatever reason, was a very small display containing wrist watches. These were the old fashioned kind that needed to be rewound, and since their owners were shot, no one rewound them after May 1980.

The whole time I only saw a handful of other people, which made everything even more serious, somehow; loads of families and shrieking kids would have taken away from the atmosphere.

That was the entirety of my day; after this I had a couple hours on buses before I got to my next destination: Kimhae/Busan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Glorious Vacation: Day 3

I got off my duff and went to Soswaewon Garden. It was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, but a bit smaller than I expected/hoped for. Nonetheless, I saw my first-ever bamboo grove! How cool! I've never seen bamboo in the wild before because I am a loser of a white person who lives in really urban Asia!

Then, it was a long bus ride back to Gwangju proper. Long. I figured out my bus wasn't going to the bus terminal near where I was staying, so once in Gwangju I got off at a stop to change to a bus that was, but it was still a nice ride. I like riding buses, I guess. I'm a weirdo.

I tried to find a park afterwards, to enjoy the nice weather and people watch, but the one I tried to find COULD NOT BE FOUND. Signs had me wandering around a rather sad and poor-looking neighborhood, which isn't entirely weird because the entrance to Bukhansan Park is exactly the same thing, except there was never any entrance; the indicated street just dead-ended, so I looked like either a lost white person or a douchebag class tourist. Annoyed, I went back to the terminal, had Jeonju-style bibimbap for dinner, and had a nice long soak in the sauna (where I was promptly English bombed).

It was kind of a dud of a day, but it was better than sitting in my motel room doing nothing, I suppose! And Soswaewon was really unbelievably lovely, an infinitely big version of it would be my idea of heaven. My pictures do not do it justice.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Glorious Vacation: Day 2 (Election Day)

I stayed in my motel room until dinner to watch CNN (HILARIOUS!!!), the concession and acceptance speeches. Overall, I was rather pleased with the outcome.

Buoyed by my smug liberal schadenfreude, I went across town to "Tteokgalbi Street" which is not as cohesive or as well-advertised as the Budae Jjigae Street in Uijeongbu. Frustrating! Nonetheless, I found a restaurant (not too skeezy, not too fancy) and gorged myself on tteokgalbi. It seems to be a regional specialty that I have also never heard of before! Before a few days ago, anyway, when I was casting about on the Internet to see what I should do/eat in Gwangju.

It was a bit of a shenanigans situation to find the place, but I did! On the subway ride over, an ajumma decided to dote on me. She offered to hold my bag (which, despite reading in my "Rough Guide to Korea" that this is a thing that happens all the time, WAS THE FIRST TIME A STRANGER'S DONE THAT EVER), and then when the seat next to her opened up she pulled on my sleeve to let me know the seat was open. After the first couple stops she dug into her purse and forced some candies into my hand. I smiled and said thank you, and put them in my purse for later (I seriously was going to save them for after my planned calorie binge of a dinner). Right before her stop came up, she also handed me a bag full of tteok! Aw! If she had gotten off at my stop I would have asked her to come to dinner with me. I had a couple right then because I was hungry and I also wanted her to know that I appreciated her gifts of food.

Gwangju is in Jeolla province, which is considered the bread basket of Korea. There is an astounding variety of food available and I will never get a chance to eat it all (especially because I hate going to restaurants alone and also because of my above seafood rule). Jong-min assured me I woud notice the difference if I ever went out to eat: "They'll have a lot more side dishes than they do in Seoul. They just have so much more food. They always have." At my tteok galbi dinner I had ten different banchan. TEN! The last time I'd had so many was when I got ssambap in Gyeongju. There were four kinds of kimchi alone, plus bean sprouts and daikon and anchovies (pass) and red beans in sesame oil. Not to mention a wide variety of greenery in which to wrap the meat, instead of just the usual romaine lettuce; the best was a very mild perilla leaf.

After I had sated myself on minced rib meat and garlic, I went back to my motel room and enjoyed a bottle of makgeolli before turning in early. Things to do the next morning, after all!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Science Saturday: The Khasi, The Karbi, and Women in STEM

I had read about this study ages ago but had never thought to look it up or bookmark it for reference. Then I broke one of the first rules of the Internet and (unwittingly) fed a troll on a feminist board on Pinterest; fortunately Googling for the study was relatively painless as I remembered enough salient details to ensure its quick retrieval.

Check this shit out, y'all!

Researchers led by Moshe Hoffman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego, studied villagers from both tribes. Genetically, the Khasi and Karbi are highly similar: the groups only became separate a few hundred years ago and some intermarriage continues. Both groups are also subsistence farmers, living mainly on rice in a hilly region that gets world-record levels of rainfall.
Culturally, however, they are quite distinct. The Karbi are patrilineal. Women are only rarely allowed to own land and the eldest son in each family inherits the property. Political and religious leadership is male-dominated and girls leave school nearly four years earlier than boys. 
Among the Khasi, though, women are the landowners, with no exceptions. Inheritance goes to the youngest daughter and men are not supposed to handle money. Even cash earned by men working outside the family farm is typically given to their wives. Both genders are equally educated...
...Hoffman and his colleagues studied 1,279 people, from four Khasi and four Karbi villages, paying them for their time to test their ability to solve block puzzles. Each block was divided into four parts and tests were scored by how fast people could accurately assemble the pictures painted on them. The puzzles were designed to test participants’ spatial abilities, which are linked to math and science aptitude. 
Among the male-dominated Karbi, men were 36% faster at solving the block puzzles than women. But about a third of the overall difference was attributable to the greater education received by the boys among the Karbi, and the rest seemed to be linked to other cultural differences. 
Among the Khasi, the difference between men and women was so small that it was not statistically significant. “This study tells us that culture does matter,” says Hoffman. “What makes [it] unique is that we can control for biology.”
The idea that women simply "don't do" math, or hard science, or whatever, can be traced pretty clearly back to the Enlightenment, where "rational" and "logical" fields of study were decided to be the superior (and therefore, masculine) fields, while "irrational" or "emotional" things were declared women's territory. Educating a woman in a field for men was seen as a waste of time and resources.

Even though we've come a long way, that great schism in the Enlightenment is still with us today, though more subtle and less egregiously offensive: how often do you hear people talk about left brain/right brain dynamics? Unfortunately, the idea that the staggering lack of women in STEM positions is due to "women be different than men" rather than cultural issues is still with us, despite the study cited above.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Glorious Vacation: Day 1

I realized I should probably document my glorious vacation as well as I can, for posterity and all that jazz. So: a belated account of my first day in Gwangju!

After an afternoon to rest up and dry off in my motel room, Day 1 of the Glorious Vacation was spent on a museum binge. The Gwangju Museum of Art, The Gwangju Folk Museum, and the Gwangju Biennale (some kind of international art exhibit; apparently there are Biennales in other cities but Gwangju is the first I've ever heard of one) are all next to each other, so I hit all three in one go!

The first one was the Gwangju Museum of Art, which I think I accidentally snuck in without paying the 500 won entrance fee. My bad! The three main exhibits were: a variety of Chinese artists ranging from standard to kind of modern/avant garde; three kinda weirder Chinese artists; a Zainichi (Japanese of Korean descent) artist named Lee Ufan who is THE MOST BORING ARTIST WHO EVER ARTED. I still don't get modern art, you guys.

A whole gallery full of that. I just...what? It would be neat wallpaper or fabric, but framed art? Seriously?

The best part of that exhibit was the little biographical placque about the fellow who donated most of these incredibly boring pieces of art. The highlight: "Hopefully, his honorable and admirable spirit everlastingly continues to radiate."

I LOVE KONGLISH, YOU GUYS. I love how dramatic and pseudo-poetic this sounds in English because I can pretty much guarantee this is a word-for-word translation, with only word order changed (for the sake of grammar). Occasionally when Jong-min translates snippets of Korean subtitles in American news stories back into English, they sound more or less like the above—and it's not because Jong-min speaks weirdo quasi-archaic English.

There were some really cool art pieces too, that appealed to my more conservative, representationlist tastes. I really liked one that included a link to their  blog right in the painting. How Andy Warhol of them!

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to get a Chinese-speaking friend to translate it for me.

Here's the painting in particular that I liked:

Someone can earn all of the gold stars by telling me what the character in the painting means/represents!

Alas, finding anything else online seems to tax the limits of Google Image Search. They will just have to stay burned in my memory forever! (Because I forgot to put my memory card in my camera, d'oh!)

I wandered outside the art museum and followed the signs to the Gwangju Folk Museum. I love the Folk Museums in Korea, they're kind of tacky (and frightening, if you include some of the badly-stuffed animals....somehow weasels get the worst of it) but they're still pretty neat. I love old school museum dioramas and a Folk Museum is always, basically, a giant diorama. The best part was a display of all the different traditional Jeolla dishes, which was adorable and also kind of redundant. If I had to summarize the provincial cuisine in four words, those words would be: PICKLE ALL THE THINGS.

Also (and I'm glad I still had my notebook with me wherein I noted the most hilarious/interesting/appalling things) there was a mat made from human hair. I can't imagine reclining on a cushion lined with hair from my own  head, but then people shed SO MUCH it would be a waste not to use it for something "back in the day."

I still had plenty of time to kill before typical museum closing time, so I decided to cough up the 14,000 won (expensive, considering the last two museums were 500 won each) for the Biennale. It was a mix between really cool concepts and a bunch of hyper-academic nonsense. There were two installations in particular that I really liked.

The first was by a Mexican artist named Pedro Reyes, called "Imagine." I guess it would qualify as performance art? He collected like 1,200 unused weapons and, working with a whole team of people, turned them into musical instruments, The installation had a couple of the instruments on display, as well as a couple movies running simultaneously: one being the construction of the instruments and the other being performances on the instruments. They did a pretty cool version of "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" and, of course, "Imagine." Here's the guys just jamming out:

pedro reyes: imagine - musical performance from designboom on Vimeo.

The other one was called "The Shoes Diary: Adidas Tragedy Series" by Agung Kurniawan, from Indonesia. He did a small series of reconstructing Adidas shoes (there's a pretty big Adidas factory in Indonesia, apparently?) to make them really uncomfortable (in addition to painting designs) and had people wear them. The discomfort was to remind the wearer of all the trials and tribulations that political/civil rights activists go through.  He expanded it for the Biennale; his whole space was set up to look like a shoe store, and a TV in the corner played a video of his original demonstration of the piece back in whenever. There were a few different violent political activism incidents made into a different shoe (Gwangju, of course, was one of them; Libya, China, Egypt, and Cambodia were included as well). Both the shoes and their box were altered, ie the Chinese  sneakers had the outline of a tank.


There were four massive galleries in all, so by the time I left it was near closing time and also definitely very dark. After a long, uncomfortable bus ride back to my motel, I scrubbed off in a jjimjilbang and had some ramen. Back at the motel, I had the worst time falling asleep because OMG ELECTION NIGHT OMG OMG, it was like going to bed on Christmas Eve except that you might end up with a whole truck full of coal instead of any presents. But hurrah, my anxiety was unfounded!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Music Monday: Cake

While you read this, I will (hopefully) be in or en route to Gwangju, Jeolla province. Aside from an obligatory vacation in Jeju and two trips to Gyeongju, I've never been outside Gyeonggi-do.

I chose Gwangju because it's supposed to have some cool art museums, and also because it has a lot of relatively recent history: student protests against Japan in the 20s, and against Choo Doo-hwan in the 80s.

In honor of my historical Korean vacation, have some Cake. Not an official music video, but it's pretty well done:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

101 in 1001: Update

In progress:

I made an appointment at a dentist for a cleaning (6 - 8). I also started, tentatively, NaNoWriMo. We'll see how much I manage to write in a month while on vacation. (5 - 11) I've been watching a lot of Dr. Who now that I'm off work (5 - 13).


I dropped off a bag of clothes at Isaac's House!

17 / 101 completed!

1 / 101 failed!


I really dropped the ball on getting my absentee ballot in time. You're going to have to win this one without me, guys! I've showed up in the last two, so I'm not an entirely negligent citizen.

16 / 101 completed!

1 / 101 failed!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Science Saturday: When Harry Met Science

One of my least favorite movies of all time is When Harry Met Sally. People love to trot out that overdone chestnut from Harry about how men and women can never really be friends because, quoting this study featured in Scientific American,
the opportunity (or perceived opportunity) for “romance” is often lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce at the most inopportune moment.
First of all, I didn't realize love and violent criminals had so much in common!

The study looked at 88 pairs about 44 women of oppositely-sexed friends at a university. While I understand that undergrads are great psychology subjects, they represent only a small slice of society.  They don't have the maturity, wisdom, or temperance that might come with age. It would be interesting to see this study expanded to include pairs of friends at five year gaps (say, at 20, 25, 30, 35, etc) or to revisit these friends every five years to see what, if anything, changed.

Nonetheless, it yielded some interesting results.
Men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them—a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt—basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends.
How much of this perception disparity could be associated with different socialization and culture norms? These are men that have grown up with the narrative of: "As long as you are a good guy and do the right thing, you get the girl you want at the end." David Wong from Cracked lays it all out:
We were told this by every movie, TV show, novel, comic book, video game and song we encountered. When the Karate Kid wins the tournament, his prize is a trophy and Elisabeth Shue. Neo saves the world and is awarded Trinity. Marty McFly gets his dream girl, John McClane gets his ex-wife back, Keanu "Speed" Reeves gets Sandra Bullock, Shia LaBeouf gets Megan Fox in Transformers, Iron Man gets Pepper Potts, the hero in Avatar gets the hottest Na'vi, Shrek gets Fiona, Bill Murray gets Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, Frodo gets Sam, WALL-E gets EVE ... and so on.

...we, as the audience, know that in the end the hero will "get the girl," just as we know that at the end of the month we're going to "get our paycheck." Failure to award either is breaking a societal contract. The girl can say what she wants, but we all know that at the end, she will wind up with the hero, whether she knows it or not.
The only movie I know that turns this narrative on its head is Wet Hot American Summer. The love interest, Katie, tells her would-be nice guy suitor why she's not choosing him:
Listen, Coop - last night was really great. You were incredibly romantic and heroic, no doubt about it. And that's great. But I've thought about it, and my thing is this: Andy is really hot. And don't get me wrong, you're cute too, but Andy is like, *cut*. From marble. He's gorgeous. He has this beautiful face and this incredible body, and I genuinely don't care that he's kinda lame. I don't even care that he cheats on me. And I like you more than I like Andy, Coop, but I'm 16. And maybe it'll be a different story when I'm ready to get married, but right now, I am entirely about sex. I just wanna get laid. I just wanna take him and grab him and fuck his brains out, ya know? So that's where my priorities are right now. Sex. Specifically with Andy and not with you.
You could write a whole women's studies thesis on whether this plot device empowers women (she makes her own choice instead of being a reward for the hero) or is a Nice Guy entitlement anti-fantasy (the only reason a girl wouldn't choose a Nice Guy is because she's shallow and after sex), but it's a nice departure from the standard narrative nevertheless.

Presumably men raised on a pop culture diet where the people they identify with are more or less awarded a girl of their choice would be more likely to see themselves as viable romantic candidates than women who take away something different from the same diet. (For example: "Since I don't even look like Hollywood plain, let alone Hollywood pretty, I'm not a viable romantic partner for anyone.")

Which leads me to my next point: another factor that (I think) would come into play here is confidence. When you feel crappy about yourself, you're not likely to assume that people want to get in your pants. And the pop culture diet that feeds the typical American self-image is pretty damn good at making women feel crappy about themselves!  Did the experimenters have the participants take a brief survey about the participants' confidence, self-esteem, and self-image before interrogating them about their friendships? The article doesn't say, so I'm going to assume not. It would be interesting to see how self-esteem correlated to responses as well (or if there would be any correlation at all).

Finally, nothing in the study suggests that unspoken romantic or sexual attraction has a negative impact on the friendship. While the title of the article ("Men And Women Can't Be 'Just Friends,'" emphasis mine) would seem to imply that friendship that involves unrequited attraction cannot happen, there is nothing in the study that conclusively proves this point. Let me repeat that: this study does not conclusively prove the impossibility of true friendship between men and women. All it proves is that men are more likely to think they have a chance at getting with their female friends than the other way around.

Nonetheless I look forward to this study going viral and giving idiots even more fodder to support the broken "men and women can't be friends" paradigm. Ugh.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Foodie Friday: Ddeok Bokki

In my continuing saga of food I will miss from Korea, have some ddeok bokki:

I am going to pin (and later try) this ddeokbokki recipe. I knew the principal ingredients in the sauce were red chili pepper paste and soy sauce, but I knew there had to be more than that. Turns out, the secret ingredient is honey! Who knew?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pantone Color Palettes

On a whim I decided to Google Pantone's projected color palettes for this winter. Not because I am any fashionista, mind you; anyone who dresses like this is not someone who cares:

Promotional Jameson t-shirt? Thrift-store capris? Five dollar bag?
 I'm good to go!

Rather, I have a very limited idea of what colors go together, or (for that matter) what colors even exist. I thought browsing next season's color palettes would be, if nothing else, good inspiration for future projects.

I got all of these from the Redo It Design blog. I've pinned the palettes (and some other things) to a new Pinterest board, Crafty Inspiration. Here are my favorites:

Pantone winter 2013 color palette

Considering my love affair with mookaite, is it any surprise that I love this palette? Love love love. Five or six of the colors here you can find in just one sixteen inch strand! For the dark green, forest or fancy jasper would do; for that blue, sodalite or dumortierite would probably work. Charoite or amethyst would be good if you needed your purple to be extra purple-y (as opposed to mauve). Anything in any of these colors = I will wear it. Now.

This one is nice, too, though I would be less inclined to wear it myself. I don't wear a lot of blue unless it's with another, brighter color. But as for mineral matching: blue lace agate, blue chalcedony, sodalite, lapis, and dumortierite would all be good color choices for this one. Mother-of-pearl would work for the light cream color at the top, and you could use hematite (or, again, mookaite!) for the gray.

This one is less to my personal tastes, but it's good to get out of your comfort zone, right? I think this will the first of these I experiment with once I have the time and space to start beading again. Rhodochrosite, rhodonite, rose quartz, or cherry quartz would be good for that stand-out pink at the top, and a nice dark jade would be perfect for that green at the bottom. Citrine would work well  for the yellow in the middle, and then round out the purples (of all hues) with amethyst. Throw in some sodalite or dumotierite for the darkest blue. The lighter blue still eludes me: too light for the aforementioned blue minerals, but too dark for blue lace agate or blue chalcedony. 

Which color palette will you be rocking this winter?

Oh my God, I just realized what a fantastic pun I just made up there. Rocking? I blog about rocks? Get it?

On a scale of 1 - 10, how awful was that joke?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

101 in 1001

In progress:

I watched a whole series of foreign stop-motion shorts with friends, so I'm counting those towards my foreign movies goal. (5 - 13)

I finished a pair of earrings as well. (2 - 3)

I need to start thinking about how I want to handle NaNo while I'm traveling. Try to finish now? Spend my vacation camped out in coffee shops and motel rooms? Or give up on that goal?


My stint at the Great Vision School is over, with only three non-emergency, non-vacation absences on my part. I consider that a success!


I really dropped the ball on getting my absentee ballot in time. You're going to have to win this one without me, guys! I've showed up in the last two, so I'm not an entirely negligent citizen.

15 / 101 completed!

1 / 101 failed!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Foodie Friday: Budae Jjigae

I haven't been much for blogging recently. My energy has been focused on cleaning, lamenting my imminent departure, spending quality time with friends, mailing things home, lamenting my imminent departure, figuring out where to keep my luggage for a month, and did I mention lamenting my imminent departure?

I'm having a really difficult time articulating this. I've deleted about half a dozen segues and even this one has been rather painfully eked out in two- or three-word spurts. But in a nutshell: I don't half-ass (most) things, especially relationships. I am, despite my well-honed tour guide persona, very stolidly introverted. I don't have the mental capital to be a dazzling, fabulous personality that everyone knows and enjoys. Unfortunately, being a dazzling and fabulous personality is kind of what you have to do to make friends.

Absolutely fabulous!

So the fact that I've managed to make friends—real friends—friends who would be my friends if we had gone to university or high school together—and that I now have to leave them has taken the wind right out of my sails. The prospect of having to repeat the Awkward Nerd Friendship Dance still another time bums me out. And when I'm bummed out I just don't have the time or motivation to update here.

But what about the fucking food? you ask. It says Foodie Friday. Well, that's the second thing that bums me out: the loss of delicious Korean food whose replication I have yet to perfect (or whose replication would be, for all intents and purposes, impossible).

Budae Jjigae is the perfect example of a Korean dish that I will never get to my liking outside of Korea. The ingredients are easy enough (if you have access to any decent kind of Asian market/Koreatown); it's the presentation. Cooking it at home and eating it out of my own little dolsot isn't the same as sitting on the floor at some hole-in-the-wall restaurant while everything simmers away on the distinctive large, flat metal saucer.

Anyway, budae jjigae!

Budae Jjigae

Budae jjigae is one of a variety of jjigaes, which are best described as spicy stews. All jjigaes have a spicy red chili pepper broth, tofu,and assorted vegetables like onions, zucchini, enokitake mushrooms ("팽이버섯" in Korean), and kimchi. Variations come from what you add to the basics and are reflected in the name. You have tuna jjigae, kimchi jjigae, soybean paste jjigae, and so forth.

Budae is army, or army base. The special ingredients in budae jjigae all come from American MREs. During the Korean war, Koreans would come across MRE leftovers and, not being a wasteful people, would add them to their own food. Budae jjigae can incorporate a variety of things, but the Uijeongbu Budae Jjigae that I know and love includes only ramen noodles, sausage, hot dogs, and SPAM in addition to standard jjigae ingredients. It's one of the few dishes I categorically refuse to add cheese to because that's just not how we do it up here.

I am a big fan of Aeri's Kitchen. I like her Korean vocabulary words with each recipe, and whatever I make from her turns out delicious. Here is Aeri's Budae Jjigae recipe, if you want to make this at home.

Some notes about the recipe:

It's no great shakes if you can't find kelp or sardines for your broth. I've made plain kimchi jjigae without those plenty of times and have been thoroughly satisfied with the results. What's more important is the rice starch water (and even that's not ESSENTIAL); if you want more flavor in the broth, you can use the kimchi juice.

I'm not a fan of the cheese or beans on this one, but everyone has different tastes. This is a super flexible recipe.

Adding glass noodles is also a very popular variation; I consider them pretty essential.

Despite Aeri's recipes and my typical DIY attitude, this the only way to eat budae jjigae, as far as I'm concerned. Cooked over a hotplate in what looks like a garbage can lid:

You'll always have a place in my heart, budae jjigae.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

101 in 1001

In progress:

I watched the MST3K ep Kitten With a Whip (5 - 6), as well as two Star Trek episodes:  I, Mudd and The Trouble With Tribbles. (5 - 12) I also finished off the "Marco Polo" story arc in Dr. Who, and I'm glad for it. Maybe it was because it was a reconstruction and not actual video footage, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I did The Daleks or The Edge of Destruction. (5 - 13)

I finished a commissioned jewelry piece for a friend of a friend (2 - 3), in addition to the wholesale order for the Museum of Math.

I also finished Self-Editing For Fiction Writers today. (9 - 2) A good read that I wish my ENG CRW professors had put it on the syllabus; I think it would have helped me (and my fellow students) a lot.

Speaking of writing, I worked on my ENG CRW project some more as well. (5 - 10)


I reached 30,000 grains on Free Rice! (12 - 6)

I did calisthenics every morning for one week! (6 - 12)

14 / 101 completed!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween Costume 2012: Frida Kahlo

I can't resist Halloween, you guys. Even though it's going to be the MOST inconvenient holiday for me this year, as time I would normally spend on a costume I have to spend packing and finding a home for my luggage, I can't NOT have a costume.

Athena was out of the question, since my sarong is on a slowboat back home (and I'd be repeating myself). Then I saw this on Pinterest and couldn't stop laughing:

Which got me to thinking: "Man, I really wouldn't need that much eyeliner for the eyebrows at all."

Observe my brows:

Flowers, a brightly-colored wrap (easy enough to find, even in the subway), and hey presto! I could even use the wool shawl I got in Finland: the colors are right, and it'll keep me very warm.

The only thing, though—I couldn't wear glasses! So: put them in a case and suffer through blindly? I would use the costume at least at the last market day here at work, if not at the inevitable foreigner Halloween shindig. I wish I could get a closer look at the necklace she's wearing in the above picture, because it seems like she wore it a lot. Overall, Kahlo had some awesome-glam taste in accessories; I wish I had the time to reproduce all of them!

I'd also have to grow out my bangs long enough to clip them back. Easy enough, they're already pretty long...

What's your Halloween costume this year?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kokoba at MoMath!

I've been following the Museum of Math on Twitter for a while now, though they are not due to open until mid-December. I was already pretty excited at the prospect of a mathematics museum so close to me. Then I got this message on Etsy and become twice as excited!

Hi Katherine,
I'm writing from the museum of mathematics ( We are interested in carrying the above Pi Amethyst Agate Bracelet in our gift shop. Do you sell these wholesale? If so, how much do they cost and what is your minimum order?

Please email me at [redacted] to let me know.

Thanks so much,
Jake R------

My busy little fingers have just finished nine more bracelets last night and today; by the end of this week they will be en route to their new home at the MoMath gift shop! I can't wait to visit. Not only to see my babies, but to play with some math things. It sounds very much like a math version of The Franklin Institute, which warms my nerdy heart down to the very cockles. The cockles!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Music Monday: Dubstep Violin

I know, I know, "violin" and "dubstep" aren't words you expect to see next to each other. AND YET

Sunday, October 7, 2012

101 in 1001 Update: Back on Sunday

I've been productive this week!

In progress:

I wrote another 1000 words on my ENG CRW project. (5 - 10)

I finished a foreign movie at work. I watched "The Ugly Duckling and Me," a British children's movie. (9 - 5) And another episode of Dr. Who! (5 - 13) I also watched an episode of some British true crime show about "Mr. Swirl"; I'm (grudgingly) counting it as a documentary. (9 - 6)

I also got a commission for a birthday jewelry gift. (2 - 3) I had to order some parts from home; I also ordered what I need to finished Project Rae, so hopefully I can cross that one off soon!

I finished Bruce Cumings' The Korean War: A History. (9 - 2) Some people accuse him of being a North Korean apologist, but someone who frames contemporary opinions on the two Koreas in a Nietzschean framework is pretty freaking awesome in my book.


I took advantage of a half day and withdrew all my money from my Shinhan account. I couldn't close it, but the bank teller assured me I could keep it open without any penalties. (2 - 5)

I went to Suwon fortress over the long holiday (3- 8). I also completed my Uijeongbu photo safari. (3 - 4).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

101 in 1001: Suwon Fortress

This past Sunday was part of a long holiday here in South Korea, so I crossed a couple of items off my 101 in 1001 list: Go on a Uijeongbu Photo Safari (3 - 4) and Go to Suwon fortress (3 - 8). A little history about the fortress:

Hwaseong, the wall surrounding the centre of Suwon, the provincial capital of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, was built in the late 18th century by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty to honour and house the remains of his father Prince Sado, who had been murdered by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father King Yeongjo having failed to obey his command to commit suicide. 

The Suwon fortress was beautiful. I couldn't have asked for a better day with nicer weather, and the grounds are absolutely huge. I didn't get to see the whole thing in the time I had, so it's still a possibility to visit again before I leave. Some pictures, if you want to live vicariously through me!

You can take a bus from Suwon station to the fortress (and the palace), but it was such a nice day (and since I had forgotten which exit from the station put you in the right bus direction) I walked it. I also got English bombed by an ajosshi drinking makgeolli straight from the bottle at 2 in the afternoon. I HAD MAD RESPECT FOR YOUR RAMPANT ALCOHOLISM UNTIL YOU TRIED TO HOLD MY HAND, MR. AJOSSHI.

Because I walked, I also came upon the fortress by a kind of weird side way instead of from the "entrance." So you get a sideways chronological tour instead of a normal ways achronological tour.

The first of many, many stairs to be climbed, because it's a fortress and so naturally it's on a hill.

Nice view, though.

All along the watchtower...

The fortress walls enclose a lot of greenery.

At this particular pavilion I had a nice sit and read for a while. Despite the innumerable hordes of people there, I was alone for quite some time, maybe half an hour? It was a dead end off the main fortress "trail" so that's probably why. I pretended I was the only person in the fortress and tore through The Poisonwood Bible.

Close up of the sign on the pavilion.

After the pavilion I wandered down the wall on the other side of the hill and nosed around the palace.

Traditional Chuseok game that's kind of the opposite of a seesaw. You jump and try to launch your partner up in the air. Not pictured: doofy foreigners attempting it as well.

The wishing tree! I left a wish (in Korean!) tied on it as well.

My wish. It's secret, though! Otherwise it won't come true. (Not a Korean thing; that's my own superstition.)

Decorative roof tile.

Lots of bits of the palace seemed to be under (re)construction, as they were not painted or not fully painted:

I'm sorry Korea, but I kind of prefer your architecture without the salmon-colored walls. =/

The history behind this particular fortress and palace is that it was built to commemorate a dead king who was sentenced to death because his father thought he would make a terrible heir. The dead king's son (somehow this guy managed to reproduce despite vague "mental illness," I guess) had the palace built to commemorate his father.

How was the dead king killed? Buried in a rice chest.

I spied this going on in the corner of the main courtyard:

"Hm, what are they doing? Let's saunter over to look! There's an informative sign!"

"This looks fun!"



Nightmare fuel!

I'm trying to make the most of my remaining time here. This weekend is a fireworks festival over the Han, which I plan to attend with a few friends. At some point, though, a weekend will have to be devoted to packing (and shipping home what I can). Dislike.