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Likely scenario of English only taxis in Korea

Sometime in the near future:I stand on the corner on a lovely spring afternoon, gazing out at a sea of smiling, friendly Korean faces set against the backdrop of the lovely cityscape that is downtown Seoul. A hint of honey wafts up from an open sewer vent as I am approached by a beckoning woman...I wake up. I am late. No time for the subway, gonna have to cab it this morning.On the corner, one

When will Obama uncover the whole truth on torture?

While I applaud President Obama releasing the torture memos in an effort to shed light on the practices employed during the Bush administration to gather intelligence, I am still waiting for him to release the full story --what exactly was accomplished by the use of torture and is it in fact a method still worthy of discussion?Don't bother to check the weather reports in hell, but I completely

The Seomyeon Diddler

I go to Dunkin' Donuts more than I ought to, but there really isn't anywhere else near work that I can find a satisfactory morning sandwich. Satisfactory morning sandwiches are composed of bread, eggs, bacon, and cheese. Nothing more. Nothing less. Satisfactory morning sandwiches do not include pickles, random sauce, or "fruit" of questionable quality. They are not made at McDonalds. Nine in the morning is not a time to get cute with my food. I suppose that I could cook my own damn morning sandwich and bring it to work, but the odds of me having a temper tantrum and throwing my toaster oven at a wall are quite high before noon.

As I've noted in previous posts, Seomyeon is a disgusting cesspool littered with pissants. Not a day goes by here that I don't feel the urge to regurgitate as I pass by some of the degenerate, sojued-up locals. That being said, even my low expectations of Seomyeon couldn't have prepared me for what happened today.

Most of the folks that I pass on my walk to Dunkin's Donuts are students, workers, shoppers, running around, bumping into one another and everything, trying to get somewhere or other. Every now and then one of the local pissants can be found passed out near the curb or looking gross while hanging out in one of the doorways to a closed shop. What the pissants are not usually doing, is standing in one of the doorways facing the main street, masturbating towards everybody walking by.

Were it not for my habit of suspiciously eyeing up every other person I walk by, I probably wouldn't have even noticed The Diddler. Were I at home, I could have called the police or subtly alerted other passersby. I would like to make this story awesome by telling you that I responded to this perversion in a violent manner which rendered The Diddler impotent, but obviously I didn't. Had I responded in that fashion, I'd probably be spending less time on the blog and more time dealing with legal matters at the moment. As it is, I am what I am, I am where I am, and I did nothing.

I continued to Dunkin' Donuts as usual, fought back some very confused tears, and opted for the usual breakfast sandwich. I was confused as to what the crying thing was all about. I also wasn't particularly hungry at this point, but I'll be damned if The Diddler is going to ruin my breakfast sandwich. I contemplated talking a detour back to work in order to avoid him, but I'll be damned if The Diddler is going to inconvenience me. So, I bought my damn sandwich and walked it back to work. I kept my eyes ahead of me the entire time. Little time had passed, so it's likely that he was still there but I can't say for sure.

When I returned to work I checked in with a coworker to vent about the incident and get over being alarmed before proceeding to class 15 minutes later. Throughout the day I alerted the rest of my coworkers to keep an eye out for this sort of thing. A few of them giggled uncomfortably, because that's what people do. It's what I did, after the initial shock wore off. One of them advised me that were I to poll my students I might be surprised to find how many of them have similar experiences. I'll take her word for it, for now. A few of us ended up debating what the correct slang for somebody who masturbates in public is. I could have gone with flasher and it may have been most appropriate, but my mind had already labeled him The Diddler at that point, so it stuck.

This experience was hardly just my own; easily 100 people pass by The Diddler's chosen spot every couple of minutes. There are probably more diddlers running around Seomyeon being repulsive, and there are certainly countless diddlers exposing themselves elsewhere. I'd been fortunate enough not to notice, until now.

Dokdo and the East Sea primer video

The Voluntary Agency Network for Korea (VANK) has a promotional video in English to sort out the issue of Dokdo (rightfully Korean) and the "East Sea"/"Sea of Japan" (who cares?) controversy.While I side with the Koreans on Dokdo and its barren, rocky outcrops, this East Sea issue just comes off as whining --historical precedent or not. And since they want it returned to the name "East," doesn't

The handshake and the bow: It just won't die

More handshake nonsense --now coming from the upper echelon of the Republican party. With America's former top dick, Vice President Cheney, tossing in his three bits during an interview with Sean "insanity" Hannity.Dicky boy said, “ have to be very careful. The world outside there, both our friends and our foes, will be quick to take advantage of a situation if they think they're dealing

Just Like a Barbie Doll

Debbie Student stared at me for a period of time which would have become uncomfortable about 20 seconds earlier had it been just about anybody else. I tried not to giggle at her. She doesn't mean to be creepy. It just takes her a while to find the words. And sometimes, when she finds them, and still comes across as creepy? It's not entirely her fault."You look like a... you know... ", Debbie

Science Park and a Wedding

After an initial flurry of motivation for lab work, I've since found the inevitable slow-down that occurs approximately 3 months after you start. The main ideas of science are always exciting to me, however the daily routine of mindless protocols is sure to wither away even the most ardent enthusiast. But I was expecting this to happen anyway. One thing I've learned in life thus far is that in order to get where you want, you often have to do a lot of things that you'd rather not do.

This paper in the photo above is Se-Kyung's. I saw it on her desk and decided to snap a photo of it to share. It's a DNA sequence that has been heavily annotated to a point where it resembles something rather artistic. DNA is the biological code for all living things, and like most forms of code, it looks like jibberish when you see it for the first time. However, with a modest amount of experience, the code will reveal all sorts of interesting information if you know what you're looking for. Once you know what the code means, you can change it for better or worse. This is what biotechnology is all about.

Spring is blooming in staggered outbursts, like some sort of fireworks show going on in slow motion. One species of tree will bloom all of a sudden during a week, and then as those blossoms begin to fade away, a different species will flower.
I guess the reason why trees do this is because there aren't enough insects to pollinate all of the trees at the same time.

Yowie recommended I buy a dSLR to use for the blog. While it would certainly tidy up the visual quagmire that Lee's Korea Blog has become, I long ago decided that higher end cameras are too bulky to carry around. Most of the photos I take are on the move, so I need something small that fits into my pocket. But my current Sony Cybershot W90 is still pretty good. It only cost me $200 and I've dropped it on numerous occasions. The macro shot in the photo above is a rather befitting example of its optical prowess, I contend.

As for the blossoms, Chen Jing and I usually only get to see them in the early mornings or late at night. We both live in the dormitories, so often on the way home Chen Jing will advise me to take a photo or two. But that will often lead me into a lengthy explanation on why things at night look much better to us than on camera. The image editing software in our minds is more finely tuned.

Hey look, it's Heather. Over the past two weeks she's visited twice, which is pretty good seeing as I've only been to Busan once since I arrived.

The Seoul National University campus is surrounded by public parklands and hiking trails. I'd have to say that it's the best looking university in Korea that I've seen. On the weekends, the public buses constantly unload a steady stream of city dwellers eager for a dose of nature.

Near the BK dormitory is Seoul Science Park. It reminds me a little of the old Investigator Science and Technology Centre in Adelaide, that I was crazy about in my youth. I wish they had more of these sorts of places around. Basically they're family friendly places with exhibits designed to entertain kids and foster an interest in science.

This long tube going down the hill is an echo tunnel. If you stick your head in the end and talk, you can hear your echo when it bounces back. It reminds me of that funny word 'echolalia' which means the constant repetition of phrases, usually done by kids as a way of processing thoughts or sometimes just for fun.

If someone is nagging you in the lab or workplace, why not try a little sarcastic echolalia to help lighten the mood?

"LEE, don't put the tube there."

"Leeee. don't. put. the. tube. therrrrre."

In the photo above, Heather is investigating the contents of a sky dome. If you put your head into one of these, it's all dark inside but there are little holes that let spots of light in. The holes are cut where the locations of the stars are at night, so you can see a map of the night sky.

For dinner we went out to Itaewon, which is the foreigner district of Seoul. Here you'll find a nice variety of foreign restaurants and bars including Australian, African and Middle Eastern. We ate at the MyThai restaurant which is very close to the Hard Rock Cafe.

The food was fairly good, although nothing spectacular. We had a red chicken curry and noodles which came out a little late, but the service from the waitering staff was excellent. We had a nice bottle of Chilean wine to wash it all down, because they had sold out of the Australian Wyndham's. Chilean wine is cheap in Korea, because there's an FTA between the two countries.
After that we went to Syd and Mel's Australian restaurant and had some wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. I used to eat that a lot in Australia, not knowing that it was an Australian dish.

Sometimes I'll find places with funny English names in Korea, and when I do I'll try to remember to take a photo of them for you. The name of this kimbap restaurant in Nakseongdae is rather fun. I think it's supposed to be a mixture of potato and tomato.

One of Heather's friends got married on Sunday, so we went out to SungKyunKwang University to attend. The bride and groom opted to have a traditional Korean wedding, which are still very popular here.

The groom gets carried by helpers, and there's a different platform for the bride. The ceremony includes some announcements as well as bowing, washing hands and drinking from a ceremonial cup.

This guy is part of the wedding ceremony and his job is to read out the special marriage announcement. I think it was all in archaic Korean, which is why I couldn't understand any of it.

Here are the bride and groom looking very special. The bride actually recommended Heather to work at CDI a long time ago, which led to her employment. So I guess if that didn't happen, we wouldn't have met and wouldn't be together now. It's kind of funny when you think about things like that.

Next was a traditional samul-nori drum and dance performance. The hats have rods and long ribbons attached to them, which are spun around with a good amount of skill.

The weather was warm and the ceremony was especially nice under the large trees. I wouldn't mind having something similar for our wedding.

Then came the buffet lunch. I've been to a few weddings in my time, and as long as there's good food and alcohol, it's a good wedding.

Here's Heather enjoying the refreshments. We're going to get married sometime later this year, but haven't set the date yet. Weddings are too expensive.

After that we met Heather's brother in the Hyehwa district which is somewhat similar to PNU in Busan. We had a bottle of Yellowtail Shiraz with a mozarella salad at a cafe, which was nice. My Korean has improved a very slight amount, so now I'm able to butt into Heather and her brother's conversations more frequently. The presence of wine seems to increase the frequency of such interruptions.

Well I'm happy that the weather is warming up. I've also decided to spend a little less time in the lab and do other things on some nights. I think that if I spend way too much time doing experiments, it'll be less productive than doing all sorts of different things. Last week I went to Toastmasters, which is a speech presentation club. Hopefully I'll go again tomorrow night and get some photos for you.

See you next time!

The Week We View: All the news that's fit to miss

>Been much ado this week about Ashton Kucher beating CNN in a race for being the first with one million followers on Twitter. Does this mean that Kucher is the biggest twit?>The Bush administration's torture memos were released this week. My favorite entry thus far: "Today while water boarding a suspected terrorist I dropped my new pen into the water tub and accidentally gouged suspect's eye.

Right Wing freaks out over Obama-Chavez handshake

The right-wing punditry has been going ballistic on everything Obama has done since minute one of his presidency. Sometimes their complaints are reasonable --the guy has broken a lot of campaign promises. But now, as they work themselves into a lather over pictures of the president smiling and shaking hands with Hugo Chavez and (gasp!) touching his shoulder, they are sorely missing the point.A


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