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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

101 in 1001: Wednesday Update

That's two Sundays in a row I've been remiss! I have updated in other places, though; I'm not entirely delinquent.

I recently finished another book off the TIME Top 100 list: The Poisonwood Bible, which I cannot recommend strongly enough. Kingsolver creates nuanced characters that cover a broad moral spectrum. A lot of times in stories (whether in movies or literature), the bad guys either are too evil to be believed, or are believable but don't seem that bad. Kingsolver accomplished the Herculean task of creating perfectly believable and utterly evil people; people loathsome and terrible but, sadly, also people you could imagine meeting in real life. She also draws a detailed and infuriating picture of the Democratic Republic of Congo, from the late 50s up until more or less contemporary times—she wrote The Poisonwood Bible, it seems, with an agenda. Gird yourself for some White Liberal Guilt on this one.

I also went to Suwon fortress, all the way at the southern end of the Seoul Metro. It's one of the biggest (as in most famous) places to visit in South Korea and a UNESCO World Heritage site, so I'm glad I finally paid it a visit. I took so many pictures that they deserve their own later post.

In between that I've watched a few more episodes of Star Trek and Doctor Who.

The rest of my list is behind the jump.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Music Monday: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

This one is courtesy of the Boy. I never thought I'd say, "Here's a song that sums up how I feel about clothes shopping," but there you go.