Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Adventures in a Fine Looking Family...

As requested, I've uploaded the pictures I took of the picture frames I made a while back. The top one is from the January picture in the calendar my local bank gave me for Christmas. The cut-out piece was big enough to use as a frame for a smaller picture, and I wound up with three pictures framed in the same, as you can see in the 2nd picture. The third one(s) are all cut from Our Canada magazine. I was lucky to find 2 identical pictures that were the right size to use for Kaitlyn and Logan's photos. I've started clipping and saving any interesting pictures from newspapers or magazines to use in future frames. Super cheap, and not-so-bad-lookin'!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Adventures in Swoosh, Swoosh, Swooshing...
Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! The Year of the Pig got off to a great start at YeongPyong Ski Resort. Infact, we've decided that a Lunar New Year ski trip has now become an annual tradition. Saturday, Sunday and Monday were spent merrily on the slopes. Saturday began bright an early, leaving home at 4:10 a.m. in order to catch the 5:00 a.m. bus to the resort. 4 1/2 hours later, we arrived and got settled into our accomodation, got our equipment rented, our passes attached to our jackets, and our instructor secured.

The past two times I've gone skiing in Korea, I haven't bothered with an instructor, but the two people I was with wanted one, and I figured it had been so long since I'd had a lesson, I might learn something. (The fact that the instructor, John, was super-cute might have had a little something to do with that!) The lesson was 2 1/2 hours long, and by the end of it, we were all pretty confident of our skills on the beginner slopes. We continued skiing until the last possible moment our afternoon passes would allow, then trekked back to our room. After hot cups of tea or cocoa were consumed, and hot showers had by all, we slept soundly. The fantastic thing about Korean style rooms after a long day of skiing, is that you sleep on a thick pad right on the heated floor. It's like having a nice warm heating-pad directly applied to all your aching muscles.

I won't go into great detail about the rest of the trip (up the lift, down the hill, up the lift, down the hill, etc.) I'll just summarize like this: My favourite hill was 1400 meters high, with a run of 5.8km. It took me about 25 mintues to get to the bottom (I took my time), and the view was incredible. During the entire weekend, I only fell once, and that was just a little topple-over during my lesson. John was trying to teach me to swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, with my skis parallel, instead of the basic A-shaped snowplow. My swoosh, swoosh is going to take a little more practice! By the end of the weekend, my cheeks were (and still are) wind-burnt into a stunning shade of pink, my muscles feel a bit sore, but good, and my lungs are so full of mountain-fresh air, they think they've been in Canada.

If the rest of the Year of the Pig continues as well as it began, it's going to be a very good year!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Adventures in Cultural Differences...

I'm getting ready to go skiing for 3 days. Three of us will be leaving here at 4:10 tomorrow morning. ugh.

I was making sure I had everything prepared for the trip, and was going over some of the safety rules for the resort. I smiled when I came across the following notice:

Please use formal speak to other skiers.
Often, it is hard to know the age and gender of fellow skiers due to shades, masks, and hats. Please use formal speak when addressing other skiers, just to be safe.

In Korea, 'formal speak' is used to talk to people higher than you on Confucious' Hierarchy of social importance. It requires different endings on the verbs to convey respect. While this is just an everyday thing I've gotten used to, it still came as a surprise to see it on the rules and regulations for a ski resort. Since I've picked up most of my Korean bit-by-bit, some of it I've learned with the respectful verb endings and some of it I've learned with just the regular, run-of-the-mill polite endings. I tend to bounce back and forth between them during any given exchange. That seems to be okay, because I'm a foreigner, and don't really fit anywhere on the hierarchy. Now, having read that notice, I'll be listening tomorrow to hear just how many folks on the slopes actaully heed the advice.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Adventures in Heartbreaking Economic Chasms...

Two tidbits of information I picked up recently.

1) From the Entertainment section of the news:

Some of the world's wealthiest food lovers have flown in[to Thailand] for ... dinner, which carries a price tag of US$25,000 a head." (Read the article here.)

2) From some other reading I've been doing:

Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes--one child every five seconds." (Read more here.)

I'm not going to rant about how the money from that single meal could have taken all 16,000 children for a meal at the Outback Steakhouse. ( I realize this is not a rational solution, I'm just making a point.) While the injustice of it all really angered me, it also made me think "Hold on, Janice. You can't just blast the uberwealthy, and let yourself off the hook." And so, the quest continues: to find a way to live life, concious of the needs of others.

I think Gandhi put it succinctly when he said, "There is enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed." The task at hand then, is to distinguish between the two. It's easy to say "I don't need $200,000 worth of wine at a single meal." It's not so easy to say "I don't need more than one coat. I don't need quite so many pairs of shoes." See, right there, I can't even bring myself to say I only need one pair of shoes. And so, the quest continues...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Adventures in Being Crafty...

My sister recently sent me some family photos, and ever since, I've been looking for frames. The problem I've been facing is choosing between expensive frames, ugly frames, or expensive AND ugly frames. Today, in an act of desperation, I grabbed some pictures from old calendars and magazines, chopped holes in 'em, and used them to frame the photos. Amazingly, they actually turned out nicely! I even branched out from the pictures Jen sent. For example, I found a picture of Butchart Gardens in Victoria. Since my Grandma really enjoyed that garden, I cut out the "This is Butchart Gardens" caption, and replaced it with a photo I had of Grandma. I'm really quite pleased with the result. Tomorrow I'll go to the campus stationary store and pick up some heavier poster-board for backing, and maybe some clear plastic sheeting to protect the surfaces.

I also cleared out both of my sock drawers this afternoon and spent an hour on-line trying to figure out other uses for the holey, pilly, or ill-fitting rejects. I think I might try weaving them into potholders and/or baskets. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Adventures in The Secret...

Apparently, there's been a buzz lately about the DVD/book "The Secret". I hadn't heard anything about it until it was on Oprah yesterday. From what I gathered, it's all about this NEWLY DISCOVERED, amazing secret to living a satisfying life. As I watched though, all I could think was "Hey - that's not newly discovered! It's plagiarism!" Some examples:

1) You should forgive people that have hurt you. Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Oh, yes, the Bible. (Luke 11:4)

2) You should be grateful for all the circumstances in your life. Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Oh, yes, the Bible. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

3) You should project 'good energy' (ie be cheerful). Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Oh, yes, the Bible. (Proverbs 17:22)

Now, I certainly agree with all the things above. I have no objections to encouraging people to be thankful, forgiving and cheerful. I do object to the makers of 'The Secret' stealing the bullet points from the plan God created for us; instead of giving credit where credit is due, casting God aside in favour or "the Universe", "a higher power" and "a [random, unnamed]spiritual force".

It's like having a conversation like this:

Joe: "Hey, a strong wind in a funnel shape destroyed my house."
Sam: "Really? A tornado destroyed your house?"
Joe: "No, no, not a tornado. It was a big funnel cloud and a strong strong wind."
Sam: "Joe, that's a tornado."
Joe: "It couldn't have been. I KNOW it wasn't a tornado, but it was just like in the Wizard of Oz."
Sam: "Joe, you're a moron."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Adventures in the Best Salad Ever...

Yes, it's true - not only are you getting 2 posts in one day, you're also getting a delicious and nutritious recipe. It's been on page 112 of my favourite cookbook for years, but I've always passed it by because it looked 'boring' and 'dull'. However, I had some cabbage to use up, and had most of these ingredients on hand. My mouth was so pleasantly surprised. Without further ado, here it is........

Vietnamese Chicken Salad (from Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook)

Cook and debone:
1 lb. chicken pieces (extra nice if cooked with some Anise seeds)
Place in a serving bowl:
3-4 cups cabbage, chopped in thin slices
1 tsp salt
Rub salt in cabbage and let stand a few minutes.
1 1/2 T. vinegar
1 T. sugar
3 green onions, chopped
3 sprigs of cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
chicken meat, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
black and red ground pepper to taste.
Mix and serve

I've also made it with some sauteed shitake mushrooms or diced red peppers.

Adventures in the Up-Side of Global Warming...

While I fully understand that climate change is a serious challenge, I still find it difficult to complain about such wonderful weather. As I check the weather reports from home (Moncton -17, Ottawa -17, Regina -27) I'm glad I chose to stay in Korea this winter (Daegu +17). These pictures were taken this afternoon during an impromptu BBQ down at the duck pond. The weather has been glorious for the past week, and even though we've all been having a good time and spending as much time outdoors as possible, there's still a lingering uneasiness about such warmth in February. It's similar to the feeling you get when you're staring at that huge slice of French Chocolate Silk Pie on your plate: you're going to enjoy it 100%, even though you know it can't be good for you and you're surely going to pay for it later.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Adventures in Time to Read...

I had thought that 4 1/2 weeks of vacation with no plans to go anywhere might get a little dull. Not at all! I've had some time to get some "Gee, I should do that sometime" things done, and I've had lots of time to read - with no pressure to put the book down and turn out the light at an appropriate bedtime. I polished off a paperback novel at 1:40 Monday morning - forgetting of course that I had committed to a Superbowl Breakfast at 7:30. Not to worry, I'm on vacation, and went back to bed after breakfast was over.

Having been immersed in entertaining rubbish for a couple of days, I switched to non-fiction. I now have 3 books on the go, and can't decide which to focus on. I'm 1/2 way through Out of Poverty and Into Something More Comfortable by John Stackhouse. It's an interesting read, looking at the remarkable difference in results between multi-million dollar aid schemes and grass-roots micro credit. It's also nice to get a Canadian perspective on what some of CIDA's money has funded. Hmm, describing it that way makes it seem a little heavy, but it's not. It's full of very human examples at each end of the spectrum; however,
I've read it before, so I might put it aside until I'm done the others.

The others: The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, looks at a radical alternative for Christians seeking to live like Christ commanded; not like wealthy suburban churches suggest. I'm impressed by his compassion and fairness. It's not a tirade against the rich for not sharing with the poor, it's a compelling reminder that Christians were never expected to settle in and get comfortable with the status quo. The second book I'm working on is The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. I just got it in the mail yesterday, so I've only read the forward (by Bono!), the introduction and a little bit of the first chapter. As a bigwig in the world of Economists (I can't believe I bought a book about global economics) he says that it is possible to eliminate extreme poverty (ie put an end to 20,000 people dying EVERY DAY from extreme poverty) by the year 2025. I got the book because I agree with him that ending the war on terror would be a bi-product of ending extreme poverty. Since I have absolutely no evidence to back that up, I thought I'd read something credible that might provide some.

Well, I've rambled long enough, and it's time to go to the gym. Enjoy your day, and if you happen to see any of those titles in your friendly neighbourhood library, bookstore or friend's bookshelf, please look through them.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Adventures in....Adventures in...Adventures in...

For once, my lack of posts isn't the result of plain laziness. This time, my lack of posts is the direct result of postus interruptus. I've sat down at least once a day to whip up something witty and amusing to write (that would be a change, wouldn't it!?) and have been interrupted each time. Between people on the phone and at the door, I've gotten about 3 words written each time, and been called away from my computer. Now then, here is the post you've all been waiting for.

Thanks to everyone who suggested names for the car. After driving her around for awhile, and testing all the names as we went, she responded favourably to "Bridget". Like Bridget Jones, she's not-so-young, she's not-so-tiny, and she has a few 'wobbly bits' and some rather interesting quirks. Even so, she's solid and reliable - and if she can attract Mark Darcy, all the better. So, my dear, curious, readers (Ahem, Melanie), her name is Bridget. Also, to satisfy my dear, curious, parents, I took her to the mechanic yesterday for a "Please-don't-tell-me-I-bought-a-lemon-waiting- to-happen" check-up. The good news is he said I didn't get snowed. I paid a decent price for a decent car with a good engine. The not-so-good news is that the full 2-hour tune-up, complete fluid changes and a few replacement parts cost about $200. The nice thing is that the mechanic took a look at Bridget, made a list of what needed to be done, told me how much each thing would cost, and showed me where/why/how each thing was in need of fixin'. After the work was done, he showed me again where a shiny new part replaced the old one. He was very nice, and I'm hoping I won't have to see him for another 10,000 km - when it'll be time for an oil change.

Okay, enough about the car. She's now purchased, insured, registered and tuned-up. Now all I have to do is take her to Costco on Friday, and her Jedi training will be complete.

One quick word about the weather and I'm off to give my house a good holiday scrub-down. When I went to register Bridget on Monday, I drove home with my jacket on the passenger seat and my window rolled down and the radio on. It was like spring!! It's below freezing today (I think), but still not so bad.