3 Aug Semi-holiday
4 Aug An Illuminating Experience
5 Aug Unwelcome Adventure
7 Aug Disaster aftermath
8 Aug We Won!
10 Aug Mate Hunting
14 Aug Celadon Festival
16 Aug A Flop
19 Aug Reunions
20 Aug Rain
21 Aug Home Cooking
25 Aug Marshmallows
26 Aug Rice Krispies vs. Kimchi
27 Aug Persistence
28 Aug A Curious Sight
29 Aug Feeling Younger
31 Aug Noodle Celebration










3 Aug:

Only a semi holiday because I still have to teach at the electric company, but we have 3 days off from the hagwon. Day one was yesterday, and I finally went to Kyongpo Beach by myself. I like to do things with other people, but sometimes I'd rather just be by myself (if you can call it "by myself" on a crowded beach), and do what I want when I want rather than going along with other people's ideas.

So I had a really good time. I walked from one end of the beach to the other, and looked at everything that was going on. Of course I had no idea what most of it was, for lack of a translator.

Guess I can't have it both ways. I should take Janet (the 11 year old daughter of my friend and co-worker, Mrs. Lee). She'll want to look at all this stuff, and she can tell me about it, too.

I watched the hang gliders for while. That looks like fun -- I might have to try it one of these days. Then I watched the speed boats and banana boats. I've done the speed boats, but the banana boats look like more fun. They're banana shaped inflatable things that are pulled by a speed boat, and the people seem to fall off more often than not.

I spent quite a bit of time watching the bungee jumpers. They climb way up this tower, then a guy hooks them up, and they jump off. The bungee cord only goes about halfway down, and then it's gradually lowered so they end up in the sea. That would terrify me -- the first jump especially. I expect after the first bounce it wouldn't be so bad, but actually jumping off and trusting the cord to work ...

It was interesting to watch them. Surprisingly, while I was watching, it was mostly girls jumping. There's a big difference between the girls and the boys. The boys don't take too long, and go down with a "weeeeee" sort of a yell. The girls stand on the edge, then start to back out, then try again, then start to back out, and keep this up until finally they're ready to take the plunge. The guy at the top tells everyone to hold their arms over their heads with their hands in fists, but it didn't last long with most of the girls. They covered their faces instead, and a lot of them screamed the whole way down. A few girls took it better, but not many. Does this mean the guys were braver because they weren't scared, or were the girls braver because they went down even though they were scared?

There were other things to see, too. As I said before, there were stages set up, and things happening at some of them. I'm not sure what, in some cases, because it was mostly in Korean.

One area was set up to look like Polynesia or Hawaii, and had a line of guys taking turns shooting arrows. The arrows were suction-cup tipped, and they shot at a spinning target, and apparently if the arrow stuck to one of the segments, the archer won that prize. Just little things, like ice cream, as far as I could tell, but most of the arrows didn't stick to the target at all. I don't know if this was just open to the boys, or if it's the sort of thing girls in Korea just don't do.

Something that was for the girls was the "beach mud festival." I saw one woman lying down and getting her face spread with mud, and although I didn't see anyone in it, they also had a mud pit set up.

Lipton seems to be trying to break into the Korean market. I've mentioned that a lot of the beach umbrellas advertise Lipton, and there were probably a dozen young people with tanks strapped to their backs walking around giving people free cups of Lipton Iced Tea.

Of course I swam while I was there, several times in between walking up and down the beach, and took some time looking for shells. The ocean was cooperating with the festivities. There are lots more shells now than during the off season, and more variety.

I had another adventure with Annie and her friend last night. Annie called up and asked if I would go out for coffee with her and a friend, and it turned out to be the same man as before. I didn't catch his name then. This time I got it as Kim P-something Bin.

Apparently he has an auto repair shop. He brought along another man (who actually looked like a mechanic), and he was driving an exotic sports car that he said cost 300,000,000 won used. That's right, over US$270,000. No mistake in the zeros.

It was a strange experience riding in the car. Apparently where this car was made they drive on the left side of the road, so the steering wheel was on the right-hand side of the car. The mechanic-looking guy was driving, and Annie and I were in the back seat, and every time her friend, Mr. Kim, turned around to talk to us, I kept feeling like he should be watching the road. Even though I could see the steering wheel in the other guy's hand, I couldn't get over the feeling that it was Mr. Kim driving.

The plan was to go to Kyongpo for coffee, but we went past Kyongpo and kept driving for quite a while. I kept reminding myself that as long as Annie was with me I didn't need to worry. If I had been alone with these two guys, though, driving who-knew-where, I would have been very nervous.

As it was, we went out toward the mountain and had coffee there. The whole point of the excursion was apparently to ask if I would give Mr. Kim private lessons, and I gave my usual answer that I would be happy to, but he would first have to clear it with the institute's director, Mrs. Kim (no relation), since my contract specifies that I can't work anyplace else without permission.

Annie was pretty funny. "But what if Mr. Kim and Annie and Margaret can keep a secret?" she asked. I stuck with my position that it wouldn't be right.

So far when people have done this it's stopped there. I don't know if they're not calling, or if they're calling and Mrs. Kim is saying no. I suspect that they're just not calling.

4 Aug:

I had dinner out with the electric company class last night. Almost everybody was there, so there were 9 of us altogether. We went to a traditional Korean restaurant. Young told me that there would be so much food that the table legs would break, and he wasn't exaggerating very much. There was so much food that there was hardly room for it on the tables. There were several things I've had before, and several that I hadn't, including jellyfish (which was pretty good).

We had Soju with dinner. I managed to make a half a shot of soju last me, but I'd say we went through about 3 bottles total. Soju bottles are the size of American beer bottles, and the stuff isn't tremendously strong -- about 20-25% alcohol. But it does seem to pack a real kick.

Despite the fact that some of the men were definitely feeling the effects, we went out to a bar after dinner. The bar was really nice, furnished like a cafe. That means easy chairs and sofas, so it was very comfortable. We pulled together a couple of tables and gathered our easy chairs around, and as if we hadn't just finished a huge meal, they ordered tons of food with their pitchers of beer. They ate most of it, too. Seagull said they always get hungry when they drink.

I got to talk to almost everybody, although the women didn't talk much. They feel about their English the way I feel about my Korean -- I know so little that I'm better off not trying.

Seagull was pretty looped, and kept monopolizing the conversation. Not in a bad way, but the others had a hard time joining in sometimes. Seagull is into philosophy, and that's what he was talking about. Every now and then someone would complain that the topic was too hard, and would try to change the subject, and the next thing we knew, Seagull had digressed back into philosophy. It was really pretty funny.

I did get to know the men a little better. The majors they had in college aren't what you might expect for their jobs. Young majored in electrical engineering, and they joked about him being an expert. The rest had studied things like Chinese literature, English literature, and German literature. Some majored in business management. Seagull's major was in that field, although you wouldn't know it to talk to him. He went to a Jesuit university. Do they always put an emphasis on philosophy, or is that just his interest?

It was interesting watching the drinking customs. They had pitchers of beer (I had a bottle of Coke). I'd read in several places that when drinking alcohol, it's rude to pour your own drink; and when pouring a drink for someone, you should always pour with your right hand, and support your right arm with your left hand. I saw both of these in action.

A rather old-fashioned custom, that Randy says isn't done in Seoul, is sharing glasses. The whole drinking culture in Korea is to promote close relationships. Randy used the word intimacy, which is correct if you ignore the sexual connotations that come with the word these days. To show or increase intimacy with someone, you polish off your drink, hand them the empty glass, and fill it for them. Then when they polish it off, they hand it to someone (either the same person or another) and fill it for them. As the evening wore on and people got less inclined to chug, you could see filled glasses accumulating in front of some people. And if someone wanted a drink and there was a full unclaimed glass sitting around, they would drink it.

Seagull was under the impression that his pronunciation improved with drinking. Now, I have seen this happen with students in the past, but not in his case. He didn't get significantly worse (which is pretty amazing), but I think he just doesn't realize how good his pronunciation is normally.

We stayed at the bar till about eleven, and I'd say they went through 5 or 6 pitchers of beer in that time. Devil Woman was smart. After she'd had enough, any time someone offered her more, she would just rattle her car keys at them.That caused lots of jokes about them being hotel room keys, but they didn't push her to drink any more.

I'll admit that I was a little concerned about going home. I had ridden there with Young and Seagull, and was trying to come up with a polite way to suggest that I walk home. It turned out not to be a problem, though. When we left the bar, the women went one direction (presumably home), most of the men were going to hit up another bar, and Randy, who seemed pretty sober, offered to walk me home.

I can't imagine those guys drinking more after all they had, but apparently that's the way it's done here. Randy said bar hopping is standard. You go to one bar and have beer, go to another and have something else, go to another for something else, and so on.

I told everybody I was going to take attendance in class today, and they all laughed and assured me that they'd be there. Ha! I had two students today, Devil Woman and Dorothy. All the men were too hung over.

Well, Young knows where I live now. He called today and said he'd like to come over since he had some work to do in this neighborhood anyhow. I went down to the street to meet him as usual, and he said point blank that he'd like to see my apartment. There wasn't any graceful way to refuse, so I had him in for some tea. It's not that I have anything against him, or don't like him, and he's always a perfect gentleman. But the way he calls all the time makes me nervous that he might drop in all the time too. He did ask if he could stop by sometime, and I said it was a good idea to call first. We'll see what happens.

5 Aug:

I had a rather unadventurous day planned. Young and I were going to see a movie and have dinner. He came a little early, and we were having tea and talking, when there was a really loud bang. At first I thought somebody set off an extra large firecracker or something, but then I heard a woman scream. So I handed Young the phone and asked him to call the fire department and an ambulance, and ran outside to see if there was anything I could do.

There wasn't of course, but what had happened was that there'd been a big explosion in the top floor of the house two doors down. There was a woman on the roof screaming, and her clothes were all torn to shreds by the explosion. There was a big hole in the wall, and glass all over the place (good thing it's Korea, or I'd have been barefoot in it).

I went towards the gate to the yard, and could see a woman lying in the courtyard, with cuts all over her body. I imagine she was thrown out of the house by the force. I don't know if she was alive or not, but I saw her being carried to an ambulance a little later. Some men in orange suits showed up -- maybe firemen -- and they went into the house and carried some other people out. They didn't look too good either, but I don't know if they were alive or dead. I didn't see them get carried to ambulances. The rescue workers also helped the screaming woman down off the roof.

I went back to see if Young was coming, and I think he was trying to protect me from the sight, telling me not to look. I told him it was too late.

A big crowd gathered, of course, and the ambulances didn't even try to come down the road. Just as well; they probably would have ended up with flat tires. When they carried the woman to the ambulance, they didn't use a stretcher, just carried her in their arms.

Young and I went back to the apartment, and I had a chance to look around here. One of the downstairs windows of my building had been blown out, and small bits of concrete or something had been forced through my screens and were all over the floor.

I didn't feel scared, but my legs were shaking, and I think Young felt the same way. We didn't really feel like just sitting around talking about it, and I felt like I really needed to move around some, so we went ahead and walked to the theater. It took our minds off it a little, even though the movie that was showing was Mission Impossible 2, with lots of explosions of its own. It was a pretty bad movie, and not believable at all, so those explosions didn't bother us.

I don't know exactly what caused the explosion, but I'm guessing it was fuel gas. There was a gas tank up on the roof near the hole in the wall, but I don't think that was the cause, because it looked intact. I'm hoping there'll be an article in the paper tomorrow that'll say exactly what did happen, and that Young or Mrs. Lee will tell me. In the meantime I'm eyeing my stove pretty warily.

I have to admit, Korea can take care of things pretty quickly. When I got home after the movie and dinner, I went to take another look, and all the glass was cleaned up, and our broken window was taped over. They seem to have cleared a lot of the loose house pieces up, too. There are a couple of large piles of debris in the alley.

On another subject, while we were eating dinner I suddenly saw a lot of white smoke on the street outside the window. I thought a car was on fire, but Young said that it was medicine to prevent disease. Now I can't see fogging an entire city with medicine, nor with disinfectant, so I suspect it was bug spray, but Young didn't think so. I've seen that one time before, when I was with Mrs. Lee, and she said it was medicine too. Is that possible, or likely, or is the government just telling people that so they won't worry? I was glad that I was in a closed building, but the people who were outside walking in it didn't seem to be trying to avoid it at all.

Before all this happened I was writing postcards. They're going to sound a little odd now. " Hi. I'm having a wonderful time. The house two doors down blew up today. Wish you were here." I think I'll put them on hold for a while.

7 Aug:

Workers have been very busy cleaning up the mess from the explosion two houses down ever since it happened. I've gotten a better look at things, and it looks like the roof was split, and most of the front wall got blown out. That's just on the top floor. The windows on the lower floors were broken, and as I said, one window in my building got broken, but it doesn't look like any windows in the houses right next door were broken.

A man came by the house today, and I couldn't tell what he was saying except it had something to do with gas (apparently the Korean word for gas is gas). But since it was about gas, and therefore presumably about the explosion, I figured it must be important, so I called up Mrs. Lee and asked her translate over the phone. She said he was a police officer (although he wasn't in uniform), and that he wanted to know if there was any damage here from the blast. I said no, and he went away.

It turns out there isn't a Kangnung local paper, so I haven't been able to get all the details. John heard a news report on the radio, but not knowing that the site was right by my apartment, he didn't pay much attention. The most information I have came from the neighborhood beauty shop, via Mrs. Lee. Three or 4 people were taken to the hospital, but no one seems to have died. No word on what caused the explosion, and I suppose I'll never find out. Obviously gas, but why and how, I don't know.

8 Aug:

We got the results back from the competition we took the kids to. Yoo Jin got a gold medal for her speech, and Janet got a silver for hers! Nana got an honorable mention. So that's 3 out of 3 in the speaking. One of the boys got a bronze, but I don't know if that was in the listening or the writing. But I'm very pleased, and proud of the kids.

People have been working diligently on the blown-up house. They're using jackhammers and sledgehammers to basically remove the top floor from the building. There are no piles of rubble around -- I think they chute it all down directly into trucks and haul it off.

My 5:00 class is getting popular. Originally I had 1 student, now it's up to 9. Mrs. Kim says if it gets up to 10, we'll have a special dinner out to celebrate. Actually, I prefer it a little smaller, about 5 students. More than that and it's hard for me to keep track of them.

We'll be losing one in a month, though; he just got hired for a job in Seoul. I'm very pleased for him, but will miss him. He's comfortable enough with himself and with English that he jokes around in class, which really livens things up.

10 Aug:

They're making real progress on taking down the top floor of the blown-out house. They seem to have most of the damaged parts removed. I don't know if they're going to take it all off and put roofing over the former lower floor, if they're going to take it all off and rebuild the top floor completely, or take off only the damaged parts and rebuild onto what's left.

I went out for coffee with Mrs. Lee and Sun last night. We talked about Young some, but Sun really isn't interested in him at all. He's too serious. It was funny though. Did Mrs. Lee ever tell you the story about how she got her husband? She made a list, and asked God to give her a husband who had all those qualities. So when her husband came along, and she saw he matched the list, she figured she had to take him.

So Mrs. Lee told Sun to make a list, and Sun did and posted it on her wall. We went through the list, and Young fit 10 out of 12 things, so we said she had to marry him. She wouldn't go for it, though. Young is waiting to fall in love at first sight, and I think Sun is too. I expect they've both got a long wait.

I went out to the movies again with Young the other night. It was Shanghai Noon, a Chinese/Western comedy. I thought it was pretty funny, although I'm sure a lot of the jokes didn't translate very well.

Young didn't much care for it though. No self improvement in watching it. What self improvement he got from watching Gladiator or Mission Impossible 2, I don't know. Maybe in those movies he could understand the English better. These were all in English with Korean subtitles. And they did talk fast in Shanghai noon, and sometimes with accents. Also, a fair bit wasn't in English, but was in some Indian language, or Chinese, with English subtitles.

14 Aug:

There was a celadon festival in Kangjin this weekend. It was pretty far away -- all the way south and west, in Chollanamdo.

It took me about 10 hours to get there. I had to take the bus to Seoul (about 3 1/2 hours), wait about an hour, then catch the bus to Kangjin, near the southwest coast (about 5 1/2 hours). I got there about 10 pm, so went straight to a motel to sleep. It was the first yucky motel I've found. Not disgusting, but nothing particularly nice about it, not even a table and chair in the room (although it did have a bed), and it smelled of cigarettes.

I got up early the next morning (about 7:30) and headed out to look for the festival. There was a tourist information tent set up, but no one staffing it that early. However, a couple of other people were nosing around it too, and they found brochures for the festival. I took one, and asked a cab driver how much it would be to go there. 15,000 won, too much to spend if I don't have to. So I asked him if there was a bus there, and he was nice enough to tell me yes. This was all right in front of the bus terminal, so I went in and bought a ticket. 1200 won, much better.

You know how I usually end up getting adopted by someone? Well, it happened again, before the bus even pulled out of the terminal. This time the adopting person spoke no English, which made it interesting. Awfully hard to carry on a conversation, but he tried valiantly, and I tried my best to have some clue as to what he was saying. The word honja came up a lot. It means alone, and everyone was asking if I had come alone. I guess Koreans just don't do that. They always seem so surprised that I do.

Kangjin was a celadon producing area as far back as the 14th century, and they've excavated a lot of old kilns. There's a celadon museum, and there was lots of modern celadon on display. Judging by the wood piles I saw, they still fire it in wood fired kilns. I never got quite how the kilns work. Do you build the fire in there with the pots, or heat it first, then take out the ashes and put in the pots, like an oven?

The celadon I saw was mostly darker than what I'm familiar with. It seems to be used as an overglaze with designs being painted on first with different colors of slip. Very nice, and a lot of work.

I saw some really neat pieces, most of which were large and expensive. I did buy one mug. The lady at the shop kept trying to steer me towards more expensive things, and was very disappointed that that was all I bought. But along with considering immediate finances, I was also remembering my Italy experience (ceramics weigh a ton), and there's always the risk of it breaking in transit. If I break something, I'd much rather it be something cheap than something expensive. Of course, if I had absolutely fallen in love with something that might not have mattered, but while I liked a lot of the pieces, there wasn't anything that I HAD to have.

They had a place set up where you could try your hand at the potter's wheel (is this standard at festivals or what? At least here it made sense). So I got to try, and did much better than before. This piece has at least as much of my work as the person who was helping me, unlike my rice bowl, which was pretty much made by the person who was helping me.

When I was done, the guy put it on a paper and handed it to me, which was very nice except that I now had a piece of wet clay to carry around and then take 10 hours on the bus. By some miracle I did get it home ok, the only damage being that the base is a little cracked (ok, very cracked), I think from drying too fast. So I have a very nice unfired clay vase to send home. I wonder who I can get to fire it for me.

Because of having morning classes, I had to make sure I got home Sunday night, which meant I couldn't stay too long at the festival. I think I only got about 3 hours there total, which seems awfully short considering the travel time. But I think I saw most of it, and I had a good time. It beat sitting around the apartment for another weekend.

Tomorrow is a holiday (Liberation Day, I think), and Lydia and I are going to a puppet festival in Chunchon. It sounds like fun, and maybe I'll learn something about the silk factory there. I heard today that Chunchon is the capitol of Kangwondo.

We had a tea party in one of my classes today. The kids had been asking me to bring in some American food. So I made scones after I got home last night, and we had tea, scones with butter, and watermelon rind pickles. The tea and scones went over well, but their reaction to the pickles was pretty funny. I give them credit for trying them, even after Jack ate one and didn't like it. He made such a funny face, and then said they were delicious. I told him he would be a good husband some day.

16 Aug:

Well, I'm sorry to report that my trip to Chunchon to see the puppet festival was a flop. I was supposed to go with Lydia, who was going to call me Monday night with the bus schedule. But I went out for coffee Monday night, and got home later than I expected, and missed her call. I waited for her to call the next morning, and finally called her, and she said it was really too late to go, because the last bus back to Kangnung was at 5:30.

Well, I decided to try it myself. What with one thing and another, I didn't leave until about noon, and the traffic was thick, so I got into Chunchon about 4:00. Chunchon is the capitol of Kangwondo, so I was surprised that it takes as long to get there as it does to get to Seoul.

Arriving at 4 only gave me an hour to play with, and the puppet festival was obviously nowhere near the bus terminal. I looked around for a tourist information office or tent or something, but there was nothing. Now there were banners and posters about the puppet festival all over the place, but without more info, I was reluctant to go too far in such a short time. Plan B (I always have a plan B) was to just ask questions at the tourist information office and see what I could find out about the silk factory I had heard existed. I just assumed, since Kangnung has so many nice tourist information offices, that Chunchon, being the capitol, would also have them.

Wrong. Not by the bus terminal, and not in City Hall. Now if you were a city that was having a major festival, and you were expecting a lot of people to come by bus, wouldn't you have some way to get information to them when they arrived? So basically I rode 4 hours on the bus, wandered around randomly for an hour, and rode 4 hours back. It was a little better than sitting around the apartment, but not much. I would have been better off going to the beach, but I would have kicked myself for not even trying to go.

Next time though, I'm going to get as much information as I can here in Kangnung, and not count on there being any available where I'm going. And really, even though it was a flop, I don't have a bad track record. One flop out of how many adventures?

19 Aug:

The big news here is the family reunions that have been taking place. There are about 10,000,000 people in North and South Korea who have relatives in the other half, and who haven't seen them for 50 or more years. During the North/South Summit, they agreed to let some of these people meet. So 100 South Koreans got to go North to see their relatives, and 100 North Koreans got to go south. Not a very big percentage, but it's a start.

The stories are something. Some people got separated by accident when the country was first divided in 1945; some got separated during the war, in many different ways: getting split up while fleeing the fighting, or having a family member join what turned out to be the wrong side during the war, or just losing track of someone. One girl vanished in Seoul during the war, as she was on her way to a ballet class. They never knew what happened to her, and she ended up on the list of people to come south to see her relatives. She's a famous dancer in North Korea now.

A lot of the people are really old. One guy was supposed to see his 109 year old mother, but she died about 2 days before the reunion was supposed to take place. Apparently a few people on the list died in the weeks just prior. A couple of people in Seoul were so old and feeble that they had to travel in ambulances to see their relatives. And the whole visit was in the ambulance -- they couldn't get up.

The whole thing was pretty closely orchestrated, I think mostly to keep the North Korean government happy. Set tours, set times for meetings, meetings in a hotel -- no going to people's houses. North Korean president Kim Jong Il has apparently agreed to do it again in September and October, which is encouraging, and the South Korea government is hoping he'll loosen up a bit, and let people have a little more freedom in the meetings.

20 Aug:

People have been sending me books and magazines from home, and as usual I've been very bad, and have read almost everything already. Well hey, it was raining all day yesterday! Kind of rainy today, too. I think we got our rainy season a month late.

It's kind of annoying, because I think Chollian, my Internet provider, shuts down whenever it's raining. I try to check my mail, and the computer says that the computer I'm dialing to isn't answering. This hasn't happened just once or twice, it seems to happen every time it rains. And it's not like we have bunches of thunder and lightning, either. We hardly ever get that, although one time we had a great show in the mountains as I was riding a bus through them.

I got some more postcards returned. Out of the dozen or so I sent out, I've gotten back five. What a pain! The only reason I can think of is that the to and from sections are backwards, with the to on top, and the from on the bottom. But since they're clearly labeled in English, you wouldn't think the post office would have gotten confused. It's awfully annoying.

The rain today blew my plan of hiking at Sogumgang. On the bright side, temperatures are comfortably in the 70's for a change.

I bought some potatoes today, and am going to try to make perogies. Sure wish I had my pasta machine here. Not to mention my perogie mold.

21 Aug:

I'm just sitting here listening to music on the computer. It's a beautiful day. The sky is blue, there's sunshine and big puffy clouds, the mountains are clear enough to see the trees, and the temperature is a very comfortable 27 degrees (Celsius).

This morning felt like an early autumn day, but it's warmed up enough since then that it's more like early summer. Unfortunately, that all makes it a perfect day to be shearing sheep and working in the garden, which I would really like to be doing right now. I really like the songs you picked out for me, but they do make me miss home. I suspect that was your plan. But then, I tend to play them when I already miss home a little, so they just intensify what I'm already feeling.

I made my perogies last night. Couldn't eat them then, because my onions had all gone bad, so I picked some up today to make my onion butter. Now I'm wondering if it'll be possible to get sour cream to go with them. I'll have to check with Mrs. Lee. And then decide who to invite over to help me eat them. Maybe Mrs. Kim and Mrs. Lee, maybe Randy and a few of the others from the electric company. Can't be too many, I don't have that many perogies. I could make more, but it takes the best part of the day, so I'll have to wait. 2 separate dinners wouldn't be bad.

In keeping with trying not to waste, I fried up the potato peels and ate them. I was hoping they'd get crispy like potato chips, but they ended up more like french fries. Really greasy french fries, because I have no paper bags, and haven't found any paper towels yet. I know they're here somewhere, because Mrs. Kim had some, but I checked again at the market across the street and didn't see any. They have tons of toilet paper, lots of kleenex, and disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, and even paper napkins. But no paper towels.

Maybe I'll find them at Corex. That's a small supermarket, with groceries downstairs and misc. stuff upstairs, and that's where I found the whipping cream, so I expect it's where I'll find sour cream if there is any.

You know, I do get funny ideas here sometimes. You know that things are in a major thaw between North and South Korea right now. And as part of this thaw, South Korea is sending huge shipments of chemical fertilizers to North Korea, to help them get over their famine. And of course it seems to me that North Korea would do much better to learn the latest updates on organic methods, rather than becoming dependent on expensive and harmful chemicals.

If I thought for a second that it would work, I'd get Kim Jong Il a subscription to Organic Gardening magazine. The only problem is that I'm not sure it's legal to send mail from the United States to North Korea, and I strongly suspect that North Korea won't accept mail from the United States. Now if I had a third party in another country, I could have the subscription sent to them, and have them forward it to Kim Jong Il.

25 Aug:

You know, I took some of the marshmallows from the last package from home in to the kindergarteners, and they didn't like them! I gave one to John, too, and he didn't like it either! Boy, was I surprised.

I thought s'mores would be fun, but Mrs. Lee says there are no graham crackers here. So I guess I'll get some cereal and make some version of marshmallow treats.

There's no sour cream, either, so the perogies aren't nearly as good as they ought to be.

26 Aug:

Since plain marshmallows didn't go over real well, and I can't get graham crackers for s'mores, I bought some cereal and made Rice Krispies treats. Except I couldn't find Rice Krispies, so I used Cocoa Krispies instead.

The cereals here are all American brands, but it's a rather limited selection. There were maybe a dozen to choose from. All the sweet sugary kind, even ones you wouldn't think would be. Do we have Banana Chex and Chocolate Chex in America?

I expect the marshmallow treats will go over pretty well, but since it's just Saturday morning, I don't know if they'll last until Monday. I'll try to be good ...

My US friend Lorrie sent me a web site, foodtv.com, which has some Korean recipes on it right now. I'm trying to find some interesting veggie recipes. Kimchi's all well and good, but I'd like to have a little variety. And that last kimchi I bought turned out to be downright vorpal, so I can't eat much at one time. The advantages to that are that it will be longer before I have to buy kimchi again, and that regular kimchi won't seem hot to me at all after this.

27 Aug:

Young came over again yesterday. I had brought home Scrabble from the hagwon just in case, so we would actually have something to do. I had a pretty good time, and I think Young did too, although it was a lot harder for him than for me, and I beat him by a hundred points.

Randy signed up for the 8:00 class at the hagwon, both to get more practice with English and to meet girls. Unfortunately there's only one single girl in that class, Carol, and she's older than he is. But all the girls in the 7:00 class are too young for him, so he really loses either way.

I went grocery shopping downtown in the rain. Had a wonderful time and got soaked. I was trying to find the knitting shop I went to once, but couldn't, so I finally gave up and came home. It's raining again today. I remember when Ohio was like this!

Not much else happening. Practiced my netting some, checked out a couple of fiber web sites that Emma told me about, did some dishes. Life is dull without my animals.

I also went to a movie and to Be and Be coffee shop with Young. We saw The Patriot. It left a lot to be desired -- the movie, I mean, not Be and Be.

28 Aug:

I saw a curious thing from the bus this morning. We had just reached downtown. It was raining again today, and although the rain had stopped, the ground and streets were still wet.

Looking out the bus window, I saw a man kneeling at the end of an alley, facing out onto the main road, with his hands together in front of him as if he were praying. He stayed there for a long time, and bowed to the cars that went by on his side of the road. I take it this is not normal behavior, because people were staring at him.

When people have done religious things in the street before, they've put down some sort of ground cloth or something, but he was just kneeling on the wet asphalt. After a while, he bowed down so his head touched the ground, and then stood up. I thought that meant he was finished, but it got stranger. He took off his shoes, carried them over to the sidewalk, walked back to his original place barefoot, and kneeled down again.

The bus took off then, so I couldn't see any more. He was wearing ordinary western street clothes, not anything that looked ceremonial. I have no idea what it was all about.

29 Aug:

I'm not the oldest any more! I've got some new students in the 7:00 class, and one is 43 and one is 51. Another is 28 and single, so she might be someone Randy would want to meet. Chris, who is Christina's younger brother, is much older than I thought. I thought he was in his teens, and it turns out he's 25.

It was pretty funny in class. The topic was family, and for practice we were asking about each other, and families and friends. The girls were really interested in people's brothers and sons, and Chris (the only boy left in the class) was interested in the girls and their sisters and friends. "How old? Is he/she married? Boyfriend or girlfriend?" All the important questions. The 51 year old lady was asking Chris questions the first time around. "Are you married? Why not?"

Apparently the polite thing to do while asking and answering these questions is to giggle, and we were giggling our heads off, so I dare say it was a successful class.

31 Aug:

Randy, from the Electric Company Class, started in the 8:00 hogwon class tonight. To celebrate, I took the class out for udong (thick noodles). It wasn't much of an expense. Udong is cheap, and there's just two students. But it was fun, and we were all hungry, so it worked out well.

It's been raining all day, at times very hard. We've been getting hit with a lot of typhoons lately. They're pretty much just heavy rain by the time they get here, because they've been coming from the south and west. The west coast is in pretty bad shape -- there were some weather-related deaths there.

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