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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rise Up, Nerds!

That's what I should have titled my last post. I hope that you, my three loyal readers, will give me some more suggestions for a word that means:

something which could not have been predicted, yet isn't surprising.

Run this by your friends who know Latin! Google foreign language dictionaries! And lets try to get something that is fairly easy to use and remember, OK?

Oh, and cheers to my Uncle Bob, who has given the only original suggestion so far! (Sorry, Jon, but "cung" was way more funny than it was original.)



Sunday, April 23, 2006

New Word

I need your help. My coworker Earl and I are trying to come up with a word for a phenomenon that is common enough to need a word, but doesn't have one. We need a noun or adjective that describes the situation or feeling when the following happens:

Something happens that you were completely unable to predict, yet are unsurprised by.

Here in Korea, when foreigners get together and talk about their experiences, the freshmen are always surprised at things. For example, "Holy cow! My boss expects me to come in on Saturday and hand out flyers for three hours without paying me anything! What a jerk!" The more experienced among us (those who have been here for more than a month or so) shake our heads and say, "Yeah, that's only the [FM(1) + FM(2) + ... + FM(X)]th time I've heard that." (where FM is the number of times to meet a given foreigner, and X is the number of foreigners met.) For those of you who are mathematically disinclined, it means a lot. Not surprising.

But every once in a while you hear something like this: "My boss is demanding that during the 10 minutes between classes I must shell peanuts for him, and if I don't make my quota, my salary gets docked."

That would be an example of the kind of experience that we need a new word for. Because all of the experienced people here would say, "I've never heard of that work requirement before, but it doesn't really surprise me." Instead, we'd like to be able to say, "How ____ing!" or "Yeah, that's pretty _____." Or perhaps a verb, "Looks like you've been _____ed."

This word would also be very useful when describing the written English that our university students produce. Here is an example email that my coworker Earl received from his students:


Hello teacher,
Friday it is 4:00 study.
If MT it was a case attendance which will not go and cung to do,
when is not enter into a study and, do to do how, to inform.
I was a situation and the MT he became the nail store.
Thank you.


You don't have to be an English teacher to see that that is one incredibly twisted bit of language. We're pretty sure that the student wants to cancel the Friday 4:00 class because of MT (Membership Training, a wonderful Korean bonding tradition that involves taking a group of people to a far away place, feeding them bad food, making them drink way too much alcohol and play very silly games all night, sandwiching in bits of motivational speeches. They do this at practically every level of society, from big corporations down to elementary schools. Of course, the elementary school MTs don't involve drinking, as far as I know, but they have everything else.)

So there's the main idea. But what in heck tarnation is that email actually saying? Here's a challenge for you: Memorize any one of those sentences. Go ahead, give it a try. Say it out loud 10 or 20 times if you like. Feel free to replace the nonsense word, "cung", with any real word you like. (Good luck finding something that sheds any light on the meaning of the sentence.) You simply will not be able to keep any of that email in your head for more than a minute, especially if you use your brain for anything else during that minute.

And email like this is _____ for professors teaching English at a Korean university.

So all of you Roblog reading people out there, please, put your mind to this task. Help us to come up with a word for this so we don't have to say "I could not have predicted that, but it is not surprising." Just hit the comment button at the bottom of this entry, and give it your best shot.



p.s. The spell checker of course rejected "cung", but it also didn't recognize "tarnation"! Can you believe it? What in tarnation is wrong with the darn thing?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

a rare update

Rare because I don't do it very often. Almost two weeks this time. And I think back on the past couple of weeks, and what we've done, and it's all sort of a blur. I believe that this is "fatherhood". On the other hand, it is not rare for me to post pictures of Maxine.

We had a nice Easter. Our church, AIM (Antioch International Ministry), did some great songs for Easter. I like AIM, but my biggest complaint is the music. They are very much new-school, drums, guitar, bass, and all loud. I don't mind the instrumentation, but it's sometimes loud enough that I can't hear myself sing. And like many such praise teams, they have a tendency to fall into using the same songs over and over. I guess that's OK if your goal is to train the congregation to be able to sing with their eyes closed or something, but I don't quite see it that way. I like songs that tell stories, and songs that dig deep into truth and feelings. Not just in church music, but in all of my music. I also enjoy simple repetitive songs from time to time, mixed in with the others. But the simple songs get old pretty quickly, and that's what has happened for me, to some extent.

But on Easter, we sang hymns. The Gravy Song (you know, "Low in the gravy lay, Jesus my savior... Up from the gravy he arose!"), and quite a few others. They were all done with the same loud instruments. A casual listener/singer might not have noticed how much more we were singing than usual. But I noticed, and I liked it. It was cool.

One of Maxine's recently acquired hobbies is sucking on her own toes. Sort of raises the question of whether or not she would suck on other people's toes. My guess would be yes, as pretty much anything offered to her goes into her mouth as a matter of course.

So here she is. Workin' those toes. Go baby, go.

For Horyon's parents' birthday (same date on the lunar calendar, a convenience that I recommend to anyone) we took them out to a raw fish restaurant. Quite the delicacy here. In fact, the in-laws really wanted to take my parents to a raw fish place while they were here. We talked them out of it, for which Mom and Dad owe us.
Everyone had a good time, and Youngsoo's (father-in-law) brother and his family came along, too. In this picture, wearing the purple shirt and sitting on the right, you can see our Sookmo (aunt). Of course, not all of us like raw fish:
Maxine opted out, and just ate her rice gruel. She seemed pretty happy with it, though.

Bob, I hope you enjoy zooming in on the pictures and trying to figure out what the different foods are. Yes, there are snails cooked in their shells, as well as a few boiled shrimp, some raw veggies, and some sliced raw tuna. We went to one of our usual restaurants, and were very disappointed with the amount and quality of food. Horyon told me that her father is friends with the owner/manager, so we will probably never go back. Go figure.



Friday, April 07, 2006



The fine is $20 per week, not month. Horyon read the Roblog today and corrected me.

She added, "I'm thinking of not paying it," and I said, "I'm thinking hell no we're not paying it!"

$20 per month is just barely acceptable to me as the price to be left alone by people who have no business bugging me. Heck, I'll give $20 a month to the Jehovah's Witnesses if it keeps them from knocking on my door. But $20 a week? $10 per protest? Man, I am definitely protesting that.

You know what? I can see where they protest from my window. I need to get a water-balloon sling shot, like we used to have at Pearson Hall, back at good old K.U. Then I can wreak some serious havoc on those pigdogs.

Peace (unless you're a protester here at the I-Park apartments, in which case go sit on a porcupine),


Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Practical Demonstration

Remember the demonstration photo I put up in my previous post? Well, it turns out that the people who organized that live right here in our apartment complex. They have these monthly meetings, and everyone agreed that having demonstrations would be a good idea.

They've always had these monthly meetings. I actually went to a couple of them when we first moved in. It's pretty much just a bunch of ajumas (married women) sitting around yaking. In Korean, of course. They usually have some small snacks and drinks, and they were always very friendly to me. But it seemed like a bit of a waste of time to me. Mostly I couldn't figure out what they were talking about, and when I could, it didn't seem important. Though one time I was there and the husband of the hostess came back from fishing. He headed back into the kitchen, and soon came out and asked me to join him in another room. So I did. And he served up some very fresh raw fish salad, with fresh greens and lots of pepper paste sauce. If you don't think that sounds good, it's better than you would think, and if you do think it sounds good, you're right. But the entertaining moments like that were few and far between (there was only the one, actually), so I stopped going.

That was a couple of years ago. More recently, they agreed to protest, as I said. They got themselves some people to play traditional drums, and they carry some signs, and they block the cement trucks from coming and going. They also agreed that a good way to get more people to come to the demonstrations would be to charge them $20 a month if they don't come.

[correction, $20 per week, $10 per protest. See next entry.]

Now I am all in favor of public protest. I once considered changing my middle name to "Powertothepeople." But this sort of economically enforced protesting really chaps my hide. I am now considering organizing an anti-protest protest. A bunch of us will march on the opposite side of the street, deliberately not impeding the cement trucks, and carrying signs that say, "Go Developers!" and "We Love You, Samsung!"

OK. Time for the truth. Actually I suggested to my wife that maybe we could both not protest and not pay the $20. After all, how are they going to punish us? Horyon said that they would annoy her constantly if we didn't chip in, do our part, give our best for the gipper. So when they came around with a petition yesterday, Horyon signed it and put her thumb print on it.

We talked briefly about moving out of this apartment, but decided that it would not be worth the trouble. Instead, we will just spend a couple of days pretending that we are moving, and throw away half of our stuff. That should be satisfying.

Sigh. Now we have become part of the machine. I think the only thing that can cheer me up is a couple of gratuitous pictures of Maxine.

First, we combine the lay-on-your-back floor toy with roll over. Take your eye off her for a minute, and Maxine manages to stop playing with the toy, roll over, and get turned sideways under her toy. She usually gets upset at this, but if I talk to her, she doesn't mind, and even smiles to get her picture taken.
Oh, by the way. I did practice a little digital manipulation to give this photo a more balanced look. Because of the light and shadows, in the original picture, Maxine had a twinkle in only her right eye. It made her look strange, in a subtle way. So I copied the right eye twinkle and pasted it into her left eye. Much better, I think. You can judge for yourself.

The other is a standard view of Maxine lieing on her back. The floor mat she is on is more of a thick blanket, like a quilt. It's her favorite place to be, as she quickly gets tired of being held.
I don't know why it says "cuby mom" on it. Horyon is not shaped like a cube, and neither is the fairy above the words. Every time I look at this, I ponder the idea of a cuby mom. More extreme than a mother who is a bit square, I suppose.

That's all for now.



Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cherry Blossoms

Every spring time, the cherry blossoms bloom in this part of the world. Koreans go nuts over them, causing Sunday afternoon traffic jams down streets that have many cherry trees.

Horyon and I usually ignore the cherry blossoms. This year we decided that it was a good opportunity to take some pictures of Maxine in the great outdoors. We took these after church today. Maxine mostly liked it, though she only sort of tolerated all the kissing.

Church really tires her out.

She is amazing. When I fell in love with Horyon, it was partly because her smile and her laugh made my heart leap. She still does that to me when both of us aren't so tired that we're ready to collapse. This ability appears to be genetic, because Maxine has the same effect on me. I live for her smiles and giggles.

This year is racing by for me. I notice it most when I cut my finger nails. Every time I do, it seems as though I had just cut them the day before. I don't believe that they are growing faster, so I'm pretty sure it's my perception of time that is changing. Like most people, it just seems to go by faster and faster.

Last on the agenda for today: There was a protest outside our apartment building on Saturday. They built our apartment in an semi-industrial area, and now they are working on making it more industrial than semi. In addition, the road over here behind our apartment will be widened to provide more access to a new apartment development over beyond the hill. Some people from our apartment planned this protest. They had drums and stuff, and managed to back the poor cement trucks all the way up the hill.

It's kind of sad. The building we're in is very nice, and the apartment itself is the best place I've ever lived in Korea (not saying much considering some of the dumps I've lived in, but still...). But the neighborhood is filthy, and it's about to get worse.

Fortunately for us, we are just renting.



p.s. Spell check complete, no errors! That don't happen too often!

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.