Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hawaii in the Fall

I had two trips this fall to Hawaii, as usual absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and also mind-numbingly boring. Here are some of the photos, which only show the beauty and not the boredom. Doesn't this look like a bored guy?

First here some obligatory sunset photos. In the second one, if you download the full sized image and look REAL CLOSE, you can see a sailboat on the horizon.

Your blogger The Stumbler is a trained professional photographer and is able to bring you dangerous and breath-taking photos from a moving car - don't try this at home. This is the "Tunnel of Trees" as it is known in Kauai, or as I call it, "The Tree of Tunnels". (I won't scare you further by showing the MOVIE it took while driving through it).

Here is my rental car for the November trip:

And here is my rental for the December trip:

Just kidding... as usual, I drove a big bad Jeep Wrangler, which one of my Korean friends told me was just "a grown man's toy car".

I have been neglecting food photos lately, so here are a couple of foods I made myself in Hawaii. Whether it is true or not, I have convinced myself that it is cheaper to buy expensive Hawaiian groceries and cook most meals instead of eating out at expensive Hawaiian restaurants. This fall I experimented some with Salmon steaks. I found that I could buy a Salmon steak for about $5.00, and it would make two meals for me. I also figured out it tasted very good with only some very simple cooking - I grilled it in a frying pan with some butter, salt, pepper, a crushed garlic clove, and squeezed some lemon juice on it. Even a man can cook that.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Escalator Accident(*)

Before anyone comments, I know I am opening myself up to all sorts of jokes about escalators. "Did you hear about The Stumbler? He was stuck on a escalator for 4 hours when the power went out!" Please spare me. In November I went to a nearby bookstore which is located in the subway station. As I was returning, I stepped on the escalator landing on my way out of the station, and suddenly a small panel in the floor broke and I fell in! Needless to say, I was quite surprised, even more so when I realized my foot was stuck and being pulled into the escalator machinery. An old woman behind me started screaming, and together we tried to pull my foot free of the machine. All that was going through my mind at the time was that my foot was going to be shredded by the innards, like a giant mechanical jaw. Suddenly, my foot popped out of my shoe, and my leg came free! We carefully pulled back my sock, and didn't see any damage at all, just a small scratch on my ankle. I was thinking the worst was over, when I suddenly felt my other foot was wet. I looked down, and my other leg was bleeding quite freely. Turns out I cut a nasty gash in the other leg when I fell into the hole. I sat down on the nearby steps, and applied pressure with my handkerchief. With my other hand I called my Korean colleague CH, who came to my rescue within just a few minutes. In the meantime, the station master arrived and shut down the escalator and retreived my shoe from the bowels of the machine, surprisingly with only a small scratch. They all hustled to get me some bandages, and finally CH and I took off to the hospital.

This was my first experience with a Korean hospital, and I must say I was impressed. I was seen by the doctor in just a couple minutes, and within 5 minutes I was laying down on the examination table getting my leg sewn up (I needed 5 stitches, and later CH told me the doctor showed him my cut was over an inch deep). An X-ray confirmed that there was no break in my bone, and we were out of there in less than 20 minutes. Perhaps more surprising was the total cost of this visit including medicine was less than $130. Even when I consider two weeks of follow-up visits and medicines, the entire medical bill was less than $225 (and I don't have any Korean insurance, so I was paying the full fee). I can't imagine paying this little in America for getting stitches, much less being seen by the doctor so quickly.

Over the following couple of months, CH worked diligently with the train company to get my expenses and some additional compensation paid to me. It took what seemed an exceedingly long time to finally get a payment, and in the end I received around $1000 reimbursement for medical bills and other expenses. One of my American friends familiar with such matters suggested that in the USA a similar accident would have netted me $100K from the insurance companies. I guess the American litigious fever has not quite reached Korea yet.

Above you can see the hole I fell into. Since my accident, they have welded this panel onto the larger one, making it impossible to replicate my situation. I suppose the entire larger panel could fall in, but I'm hoping it is fastened more securely than that smaller panel was. By the way, my leg is nearly 100% healed, although I'll have a new small battle scar to show folks. I wish I had taken a photo of my leg during the first week or so. I had a bump the size of a tangerine for the longest time. Even today, 3 months later, I can still see and feel a small bump there.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, after this incident, I was very scared of stepping on various "covers" on the street and sidewalk. For example, I would change direction or my pace so I would not have to step on a man-hole cover. The worst one was this huge steel plate in the road, maybe 12 x 6 feet (say 4 x 2 meters for my Korean friends) - that was a hard one to avoid! It had taken about 3 months, and I am only gradually able to walk on these covers again.

Liver Destruction

Besides being the "Land of the Morning Calm", many of you know that Korea is a land of heavy drinkers. That point was driven home one evening in November. I was sitting in a coffee shop, absent-mindedly looking out the window, when I spotted this fellow sitting on a bench. No amount of my photo enhancement skills will make this photo completely legible, but if you look closely you can see the motto sewn on the back of his jacket:


Cruise Take Two

Mrs. Stumbler took issue with a few family memebers missing from my short photo selection from the cruise. So let's rectify that omission. Here are the missing family members (less YS#1, who could not go on the cruise because of college). Here are Mrs. Stumbler and the even-numbered Stumblers in front of a waterfall in Mexico:

Here is the towel elephant again, posing with YS#3

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gold Mines

After the cruise, I spent a week in the middle of the desert in Nevada. Unlike my last visit when it was raining and snowing so much, this time the sky was crystal clear and a beautiful blue.

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The Hi Desert Inn

This place used to be an active gold mine area, here are some of the remains of that era:

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Blue Sky

Friday, February 23, 2007

Catch Up

Well, I am long overdue for a post. Not only has Mother Stumbler been bugging me, but other friends have commented to me "hasn't your mother been bugging you to update your blog yet?" Where I last left off we were about to head off on a cruise, so let me put a few photos here of the cruise. I'll try to catch up to the present time in the next couple weeks, hitting some of the highlights of my adventures in photos.

Here is Young Stumbler #4 posing on the ship.

The Stumbler and Young Stumbler #2 wearing life vests at the safety drill:

Elephant Towel:

Ship's Smokestack: