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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I think I'll have my summer vacation at the beginning of August. Just so you know, if you want to meet me anywhere in Asia (doesn't even have to be Korea, though I suppose it'd be cool to show off my hangul skills), I'll probably be willing to meet you there. Unless, of course, someone else beat you to it or has a better plan.

Now, you may all commence fighting over destinations and such. I expect a serious bidding war.

And all you people in grad school, I know you're not in class then, so you had better give me a good excuse. And not having $1500 doesn't count, because you can always pawn your computer and/or iPod.

자전거를 타는 소풍

That’s my attempt to title this little ditty “Biking Excursion.”

In the first word, the first three blocks mean bike and the fourth is a meaningless grammatical marker showing that the word is a direct object. In the second word, the first block is the base for the verb “to ride” and the second block is another grammatical marker indicating that the verb is being used as a participle or something like that. The third word is translated by my computer as “taking the air; airing oneself; an excursion; a holiday expedition; a walking tour; an outing; a hike; a tramp; a picnic.”

Anyway, instead of talking about the last month or two weeks or however long it’s been (that is, instead of repeating the same stuff about work and getting better at Korean and squash and griping about report cards), I’ll just tell you what I did in the last 45 minutes. I left my buddy Eric’s house after fixing his computer, eating his snacks, roughhousing with his shi-tzu (or however you spell that mangy little bugger’s name) and arguing with him about the moon landing (if ever there was one), humans in space, and the logic of asteroids. Actually, let’s back up first. Something interesting happened earlier.

We went to some big computer/household electronics/gadget/tea warehouse because he needed to buy some memory cards for cameras he bought his mom and aunt as presents. I happened to have gone to this place last weekend because another dude wanted to buy some computer parts, and while I was there, I bought a sweet fan which can figure-oscilleight (bad pun, hope you get it, sorry), has numerous modes speed and frequency settings, a sleep timer that lasts up to 7.5 hours, and a little basket in which you are supposed to place potpourri so that the seon-pun-gi (fan) blows the a-ro-ma (aroma) all over the place. When assembling it, though, I found an extra piece which seems completely unnecessary and makes no appearance in the manual. So, since I found myself at the warehouse again, I went back to the lady who sold me the fan and tried to explain that I didn’t really have a problem but that I wanted to understand why I had an extra piece. I inspected her fan, and it didn’t have the piece either, which made my task all the harder by removing the possibility of actual demonstration. Since I couldn’t describe the thing – seeing as how I can’t say “gray,” “circular,” “grooved,” “ring,” or any other useful words – I basically counted and pointed to the parts and kept telling her something along the lines of “This fan has four things. My fan has 5 things.” And “There’s another thing.” And “The fan has no problems.” And “The fan is OK.” For “I’m curious,” the best I could manage was “I want to understand,” and I also tried out the line “The fan has no problems. My head has a problem.” They appreciated that one, and I am pretty sure between all of my grunting and gesturing and occasional luck forming a 5-word sentence, I got the point across. However, they didn’t know what piece I was talking about, since it wasn’t there on the floor model. I told her I’d bring it if I came again and that she’d be able to see it then.

After that we returned to Eric’s and did the aforementioned stuff.

Seeing as how the weather was nice and the hour not too late, I thought I’d take a ride to the kyeongpook waegugo taehakkyo, which means kyeongpook (name) foreign language university, which is not too far from here. Eric teaches there every once in a while and I wanted to see what it was like. I actually tried to go last night on the way back from somewhere else, since the weather and time conditions were similar, but the road I thought would lead there wound up turning into more of trail, which ended at some guy’s little shanty or some type of shop. It was dark, I don’t know. I turned back for the night, rode through some little maze of small buildings and houses, and went home.

Tonight Eric explained a different route to me, one which he hadn’t personally taken (since he travels by car), but which he said would take me straight to the university. So I took the street and, marvelously enough, it was paved the whole way. However, with the skyrise apartments about 3 minutes behind me, I noticed that the road had been surrounded by what I must assume were rice paddies. It was dark, so I couldn’t really tell, but the water was reflecting the building lights and I wasn’t by the river. And there were some heron-like birds standing around and I could see most of their legs, so the water wasn’t too deep. Unless they had legs so long as to absurdly disproportionate to their bodies, which is a logical possibility I can’t quite rule out. Either way, freak-birds or not, it was a really cool spot and I’ll have to frequent it often in the coming months.

I continued on past the paddies and came to the end of the road. There weren’t too many lights, but I could read well enough to know that I wasn’t quite at the university. I meandered a while until I had a little “ah-ha” moment and, thanks to a big green net at a driving range, figured out where I was in relation to my house. Assured that I could no longer get entirely disoriented, I kept on chugging until I ran into some joggers who helped me with directions. I did what they said and found the place. Then I asked the night guard if there was a shorter way to get back to my house, and I understood 100% of the two words in his reply. My mission completed, I turned around and headed home. I passed the two joggers on the way and they laughed at me when I thanked them and told them that I saw the school.

Then I came home and ate some tasty banana chips and filled out stinkin’ report cards.