Friday, August 31, 2012

Foodie Friday

I haven't been cooking so much lately, but here's a recipe I'm definitely going to try after I binge on cheese, veggie, and gochujang quesadillas:

Divorced and Homeless Ramen 
Submitted By: Ray Daniel
Submitted From: The Flophouse 
Maruchan Chili-flavor (Spicy) Ramen (2 packets, because you’re hungry, very very hungry)
Creamy Peanut Butter (two big tablespoons worth)
Pour in some water (it doesn’t matter how much) into whatever size bowl you have is about 3/4 of the way full. Microwave this water until hot. It doesn’t have to boil necessarily, if you can’t wait long; just at least pretty hot. Take bowl out of microwave, place beside kitchen sink. Plop ramen into hot water bowl. Give it about 3 minutes. 
Then, using your college degree for once in the “real world”, tip the bowl over the kitchen sink, just so, to drain off excess water while achieving a 90%+ ramen retention level. Drain until water level is at least less than half the height of the ramen. Drain more if you like the finish product more pasty than soupy. 
At this moment, bust open the two hot chili-flavor packets onto the ramen. Then, using the fork, dig out a big wad of peanut butter (about two tablespoons but why measure) and use fork to stir peanut butter, chili-flavored-salt, remaining hot water, and ramen all together. Very soon the water/seasoning/peanut butter will have merged into a tasty, nutritious sauce, that’s darn good with those ramen noodles. Guaranteed to cheer you up for 10 minutes.

I got this from's Crazy Ramen Recipes. There's a whole bunch of other good ideas there I'll have to try. I just can't get enough ramen!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Music Monday: Pink Floyd

One my oldest Korea-friends left today for a year in Saudi Arabia. This is the only song for me right now:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

101 in 1001 Update

Another update to keep me on task! Though I should have posted this a few days ago (and I missed a Music Monday). As Cathy would say, "ACK!" Things are busy at work now, though they should die down at the end of this week.

Since last time, I've finished a novel off the TIME Top 100 List (Tom Robbins' Villa Incognito). (3 - 3)

I've also posted my update (1 -3) and added a few more items to the list (daily calisthenics!). I've also been diligent about posting comments. (7 - 4)

I watched two more foreign movies: Der Untergang (German) and The Killer (Hong Kong). They're well worth watching. I know I'm late to the party on these, but better late than never! I would recommend adding them to your queue if you haven't already seen them.  Der Untergang also is on the IMDB Top 100 list, so that's two birds with one stone.

I also watched another Star Trek episode (5 - 12) and a few MST3K episodes (5 - 6).  I also finished the first Daleks story arc in the first season of Dr. Who. (5 - 13)

I also played a lot of FreeRice. (12 - 6) You should join me there!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scientists as Writers

Great guest blog at SciAm about scientists as writers.

Again, echoing my earlier rant about the importance of philosophy to everyone (including scientists), this is another reason why we need to debunk the myth of "specialization = necessary," like, yesterday.

Here's a secret: I didn't start out my life as a math and science nerd. I mean, to some extent it was more or less inevitable, given my surroundings, but it took a while. I spent my school years dreading calculus and physics and taking as many classes with my favorite English teacher as I could (three, as it turned out). I chose my college (Hamilton) based on the fact that there were no core requirements: I wouldn't have to take any math classes at all to graduate! On the flip side of that coin, a calculus pre-requisite dissuaded me from pursuing higher-level computer science courses.

What I mean to say is: I came back to science (and math) "from the other side," so to speak. Working at a cave reminded me how much I loved rocks and chemistry and things from inside the earth; symbolic logic as part of my philosophy degree reintroduced me to the clean lines and satisfaction of solving math-like problems. Engaging science writing from people like Matt Ridley, Stephen Jay Gould, and Sam Keane reintroduced me to topics I hadn't studied since high school.

I appreciate that sometimes science is difficult. If you haven't spent years and years studying something, it's going to be hard to grasp no matter how good the writing is. But dressing up science articles in roundabout grammatical constructions and zombie nouns goes a long way to being more, and not less, difficult to understand. And when science writers can't even recognize the passive voice and "translate" it to an active sentence? How can they expect to communicate those ideas in a way that's readily accessible?

Science, of course, isn't the only field guilty of dressing up its interior communications in an impossible veil of needlessly academic language. Philosophy is just as bad. For an exercise in stark contrasts, read Kant's What is Enlightenment? and then read The Critique of Pure Reason.

Likewise, not everyone will be a great writer. It would be unreasonable to expect every scientist in the laboratory to be the next Carl Sagan. But I think it's equally unreasonable to continue to impose these byzantine language standards on official science writing in the name of "objectivity" or "clarity." They accomplish neither of these things; they only serve to keep the most interesting work of science in the domain of the elites instead of the public.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bless You, Slashdot

It seems the vast majority of comments on this story get it:

Is sexual harassment part of hacker culture?

>...Third, I definitely agree that everyone at such an event should feel safe and it's heartening that you bring this up. However you kind of fall flat on your face in the next sentence. You think people should feel safe so that the 'most attractive females' will keep showing up? Excuse me? I thought Defcon was about hacking and computer skills, not so that you can eye hot girls. There is a whole internet full of naked, hot girls you can ogle to your heart's content and plenty of hot girls in Vegas you can go out and hit on and lots of hot prostitutes in the greater state of Nevada you can pay to sleep with if that's what you are interested in. Also note how your rationale is conspicuously missing any reference to making female computer hackers feel welcome or any indication that women can be something other than 'attractive young fangirl/cheerleaders'...

Music Monday: PSY

This song is making the rounds in the ROK and elsewhere. In case you haven't seen it already, allow me to rectify that situation for you:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

101 in 1001 Update

You already saw my Le Petit Prince necklace. Here's another one I whipped up: the speed of light, in coral, mother-of-pearl, and either turquoise or dyed howlite. I'm leaning towards dyed howlite because there's weird color irregularities that look like dye which didn't take well. Regardless, it's bright and fun and summer-y and I think this may be something I keep for myself. (2-3)

speed of light necklace
Speed of light in a vacuum: 299,792,458 m/s-1

I also just finished Language Myths, a quick and interesting read if you're at all a language nerd. (9-2)

The rest of my list is behind the jump. And here's more information on the 101 in 1001 project.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Foodie Friday: Dubu Sam Gyeop Kimchi

Since I'm still working on my tofu vegan burritos at home (I made a LOT), here's what I had for dinner last night. This is technically an anju, I guess: a drinking snack as opposed to a real meal. It was really filling, though:

It's tofu, kimchi, and pork belly. And what I had was totally different than what's pictured here. Mine was a giant block of tofu, seasoned with sesame seeds and some chives, sitting on top of a mixture of diced pork belly and kimchi. Two hungry people (myself and my friend Jong-min) were hard-pressed to finish it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Le Petit Prince!

This was a present for my friend, Maddie. Even though I finished it weeks ago, I promised myself I'd sit on it until she got it so it couldn't be SPOILERED for her. I just gave it to her yesterday, so now I'm going to share it with you!

The photographs were hasty and don't quite do it justice, but it is a necklace themed around Le Petit Prince, one of my favorite books and one of Maddie's as well. (She has a tattoo of a snake eating an elephant, even!) It is obscenely popular here in South Korea, so finding related paraphernalia wasn't difficult. 

The charms, from left to right (if you are unfamiliar with the book):

A tag with a quote in the original French: On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. ("One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.")

A fox, one of the principal characters.

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..." 
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time. 
"Please-- tame me!" he said.

A rose, another principal character/symbol. (Supposedly the relationship between the Prince and his rose was based on the relationship between de Saint-Exupery and his wife.) The rose is the impetus for the Prince's journey to Earth.

"I ought not to have listened to her," he confided to me one day. "One never ought to listen to the flowers. One should simply look at them and breathe their fragrance. Mine perfumed all my planet. But I did not know how to take pleasure in all her grace. This tale of claws, which disturbed me so much, should only have filled my heart with tenderness and pity." 
And he continued his confidences: 
"The fact is that I did not know how to understand anything! I ought to have judged by deeds and not by words. She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her... I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little strategems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her..."

A star. In the final scene of the book, the Prince makes a gift of the stars to the narrator:

"And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens... they will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to make you a present..."
"All men have the stars," he answered, "but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You-- you alone-- will have the stars as no one else has them--" 
"What are you trying to say?" 
"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night... you-- only you-- will have stars that can laugh!"
If you've never read it, here is an online copy of The Little Prince, complete with the adorable original illustrations.

What book would you immortalize in a piece of jewelry?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

101 in 1001: Back to the Grind

Now that I'm back and settled from vacation, back to my regular blogging schedules. Which means it's time for another 101 in 1001 update.

Other things I did on my vacation were watch a lot of English-subtitled documentaries on Arirang, the English language TV network. One was about Korean carpentry, another was about the women divers in Jeju, and still another was about an Uzbeki Imam. Alas, none of them are on Documentary Heaven.

I also knocked out the last few remaining episodes of Community yesterday so I am finally all caught up! Item 5-4 is finished!
Greendale Community College Jeff Winger

As someone who swore off television after MST3K went off the air, a television show has to be damn good for me to bother with it. Community is that good.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy August!

I'm back from my trip to Jeju. I've actually been back since, uh, Tuesday, but between starting intensives (read as: extra classes) on Wednesday and losing my phone (in my goddamn apartment and the first person to make a joke about how I need to clean gets their clock cleaned because MY APARTMENT IS SPOTLESS) I haven't had the energy to blog anywhere about anything.

Well, it's the weekend, and the phone situation will be sorted on Monday, so here's my BIG FAT VACATION POST!

Day 1: Lava Tube, Shamseonghyeol Shrine, Jeju Folk and Natural History Museum

Okay, a lava tube is a type of cave. Unlike the vast majority of the world's caves (solutional caves), these aren't formed by water over millions of years; lava tubes are the remnants of flowing lava. In some respects they are a totally different beast than solutional caves. (At least, if you're the kind of person to distinguish between different kinds of holes in the ground. Like me.)

The one I went to is Manjanggul, and it is (part of) Asia's longest lava tube. The part you can visit is 1 km in length, the whole thing is 7 km. They have bats but I didn't see any, they hang out far away from where the people go. :(

The entrance to the lava tube.

I believe this formation is technicially known as rope lava. The formation has to do with inner, hotter lava pushing the cooling, more hardened lava around, but I'm not entirely sure and there is no Wikipedia entry on this!

Also the lights look like Daleks.

Lava stalactites!

The midway point.

Close-up of the midway point.

A lava column.

This was the second of two literally breath-taking moments (I audibly gasped at each one). The first was unfortunately impossible to photograph without things like a tripod and extra lighting, but I can try to explain:

For a long while, the lava tube isn't very high. Maybe about ten feet from floor to ceiling. Then you turn a corner and suddenly opens up into a much vaster, bigger room, maybe fifty or sixty from floor to ceiling. Even more. And on your left is a beautiful rockfall of black volcanic rock, with splashes of what the signage says is quartzite. Amazing and impossible to photograph for obvious reasons.

This second one, the lava column, marks the end of the lava tube open to the public. Every cave has at least one trademark formation that you see on all of the brochures and ads and whatever else; Manjanggul goes with this lava column. So here's a picture of a better picture of it that I snapped after the tour:

(If you're wondering, my cave's trademark formation is The Chapel/The Frozen Waterfall, and The Giant Ear of Corn.)

Leaving Manjanggul.

Then, I had to hightail it back home because my pants were kind of ruined (sudden downpour, wet cave). The day was still young after I got myself situated so I decided to follow the brown road signs to some walkable sites. (Convention in Korea is that cultural/historical/touristy stuff is designated by brown road signs instead of blue, though also you could tell from names like Samseonghyeol Shrine anyway.)

The whole grounds had a very cool garden/park vibe to it. I would have sat and caught up on reading/writing, but mosquitos just thought I was too delicious. None of the pictures I took there really captured that garden atmosphere, except maybe this one.

This is the hole in the ground from which the first Jeju-ers were thought to have emerged, at least as far as the Jeju mythos is concerned. It's been a designated shrine/special area for thousands of years; this is the closest most people can come to it. They have assorted ancestral/shamanstic/(maybe touristy?) rites on April and October 10th where apparently they...I guess walk up to it and do stuff? The signs didn't really say.

Where people still prepare for the aforementioned rituals; also this used to house a prestigious Korean Confucian school.

It's so weird (to me) to see these buildings my brain parses as "old and historical" used in a contemporary/modern context.

Shrines/altars to the three important shamanistic gods of Jeju, at least two of whom are sea deities, if I understood my time in the folk museum correctly. Again, note how it's roped off.

Once I had enough of being mosquito dinner, I decided to go to a nearby museum!

The pictures are mostly really boring, I guess. The most interesting thing to me was a video about the rituals the Jeju women divers still do early in the new lunar year to appease the aforementioned sea deities.

The women divers of Jeju are really important. Each city in Korea has its own cartoon mascot. Seoul's is Haechi, some Chinese monster that, like, judges your soul when you die or something. Uijeongbu has a girl and a boy in hanbok that I'm sure must be important but hell if I know who they are. The mascots for Jeju are a cartoon version of a woman diver and the "stone grandfather" statues all over the island, like this one:

So I don't have many museum pictures, and the ones I do have suck and are boring.

Afterwards I caught a cab to a jjimjilbang that a friend who used to live in Jeju recommended. I find the jjimjilbang water is really great for drying out mosquito bites and I was really suffering from my walk around the shrine. I also have an unofficial goal of visiting as many jjimjilbangs as I can in Korea, so two birds and one stone. I wanted to relax outside my motel room a bit, so I brought some reading and writing to the co-ed hang-out part upstairs...and promptly fell asleep at 10.30. I didn't leave the jjimjilbang until noon the next day. Oops!

Day 2: Love Land, Students at the Beach

Jeju is a popular destination for Korean honeymooners, at least in part because of a surprisingly obscene (and yet sadly heteronormative) art park called "Love Land."

Have a truncated, G-rated version of the park!

I sincerely hope my boyfriend never makes a face like that when we kiss.

"American Love." If I had been a friend of the sculptor, I would have suggested the name "Love American Style," but I guess they didn't have any American pop culture junkie friends.


Yeah, I dunno.

After Love Land, I decided to be a lazy bum and go to the beach. I picked a beach off the tourist map that looked the closest and after some minor transportation snafus, arrived in the early afternoon. I think I was in the middle of my second or third go-round splashing in the ocean when I heard a familiar voice: "Katherine teacher!"

Two of my students were going to Jeju with their parents during the same vacation break, but I didn't seriously expect to run into them. Small world! I splashed around with them for a couple of hours, met their parents in my soaking-wet, bathing-suited, not-wearing-clothes-on-top-like-Koreans-do, hairy-legged, state and waved them off when they eventually left. (I stayed on much longer to finish reading my book.) I camped out in a PC bang for a couple of hours to charge my mp3 player and catch up on life, and then I had a quick shower in my motel room (no hot water!) and zoned out with a documentary on Arirang about Samarkand and Uzbekistan and some famous Imam from Uzbek or buried in Uzbek or something.

I had forgotten how awful, twee, and stupid Arirang can be, because after this really interesting documentary came a terrible PSA for Korean liquor, involving a foreigner in a hanbok rapping (poorly) about the different varieties of Korean liquor and why they're great.

Because the foreigner community in Korea is big-yet-small, I'm sure I'm only a few degrees of separation removed from him; I might have even met him or been at a bar or party at the same time as him. Nevertheless: seriously, man? Have some dignity.

Day 3: Seogwipo: Yakcheonsa, Cheonjiyeon

There are two major cities on Jeju island: Jeju and Seogwipo . I decided one day spent on the opposite side of the island wouldn't kill me and got a bus to Seogwipo, where I planned to see Yakcheonsa Temple and Cheonjiyeon waterfall.

The entrance to Yakcheonsa Temple.

The main prayer hall, which is the largest Buddhist prayer hall in Asia (supposedly).

I wonder what English camp at Yakcheonsa is like...

For the first time on a temple visit (because it seemed so very touristy), I worked up the nerve to go inside the prayer hall.

I love temples. Even with so many tourists it somehow retained an incredibly tranquil atmosphere. If there is any such thing as reincarnation then I must have been some kind of monk in a past life because a life full of thoughtful reflection a temple like this, or even the sesshin I did years ago, is so appealing that if the Boy and I ever break up I'll just run away and become a nun.

Cheonjiyeon was slightly underwhelming in comparison.

It's supposed to have mythic healing properties (and is apparently rare in that it's a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean but I don't know how true that is?); I guess it's more of a mythology site than an aesthetic site. Speaking of mythology:

A Greek mythology museum in Jeju? Dafuq....?

Proof that I was in Jeju!

Apparently Cheonjiyeon also makes dreams come true:

The familiar stone stacks where out in abundance at Cheonjiyeon. Here's an especially nice one I found opposite the entrance.

I made one next to it but like the moron I am forgot to take a picture when I finished! Oh well. This one is much better, anyway. =P

These two trips more or less exhausted my reserves (I went on a nature hike near Cheonjiyeon but the pictures of that are kind of boring so just trust me when I say I did it), so I got a taxi to the bus depot and hopped on a bus back to Jeju-shi. Just in time, too, because when we rolled into the terminal at Jeju-shi it was dark.

Day 4: Baller Pants, Beach

I promised myself I'd buy certain things in Jeju: miniature stone grandfather (check), Jeju chocolate (got at the airport), one piece of clothing. Clothes from Jeju are a distinctive orange/brown hue because they dye them with persimmons (I think it's persimmons?) and I like "local" clothing for souvenirs (my sarong from Indonesia, for example). Lucky for me, there was a tailor's near my motel, so on Day 4 I worked up the nerve to try and navigate a complicated economic transaction in my mediocre Korean.

And I was successful! I didn't get them until the next day but they are amazing and they fit perfectly and it's a color palette I love.

All of my goals were accomplished so I decided to be a lazy bum and spend my last day at the beach.

I picked a different beach than the one I went to before, because while it was close, it was also crowded (meh) and not very picturesque (bummer). This one was more famous, more expensive (meh), but beautiful:

The only downside was that at low tide the designated swimming area (go beyond the buoys and people get mad at you) was REALLY shallow: I'd be out way far and in water that was only up to my knees, at a distance when my feet would normally no longer be touching the floor. The waves were also not much to speak of (that is, just wake from motor-powered rafts going back and forth beyond the buoys).

It picked up at high tide though, and I got some good swimming in. I love the water. Maybe I should be a swimming monk.

I also tried some Mount Hallasan Soju (Hallasan being the big mountain in the middle of the island I didn't climb because SCREW MOUNTAIN CLIMBING AT 30*C I'M GOING TO THE BEACH), which is the same as regular soju, but whatever. I was drunk on the beach and I didn't care. I dried off at the beachside bar with some beer and kimchi bogeumbap, the first not-from-a-convenience-store meal I had the whole trip.

I hate when Korean meals come with a fork because I never know if it's just what that restaurant does, or if they associate white people with chopstick failure. There were no Koreans nearby for me to spy on, either.

And some light beach reading.

Once the sun started to go down, I paid my tab and went back to my motel room to shake the sand out of myself and have one last night of exploration.

I found Jane's Groove, my favorite bar/club from Seoul that moved to Jeju years ago, but it was closed. I had a few more drinks at a nearby bar, Cult, and then called it a night. And a trip.

This Monday, back to your regularly scheduled programming.