Sunday, August 31, 2008


I was listening to some Canadian friends describe the hotel breakfast buffet at their vacation in the Philippines. Suddenly we realized there weren't any pancake restaurants in Seoul (feel free to correct me if anyone knows of any). And since then I've been craving pancakes. Turns out I had all the indgreients except syrup. I quick trip to the store solved that problem last night, and this morning I made a pancake and bacon breakfast. The pancakes were good, although I had the heat a little too high. The maple syrup I found comes from Vermont, but I'll bet the Canadians only eat maple syrup from their homeland (which makes 80% of the world's supply of maple syrup).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Observations

A few random observations from 2 weeks of on and off summer Olympic watching from Seoul.

This ain't my father's handball

When I was a kid, I was introduced to racquetball and handball at the place where my Father worked. To me, handball is just like racquetball, except played with a slightly smaller ball (not unlike a squash ball) and the players just use their hands, not racquets (they do wear padded gloves as I recall). I turn on the Olympic games to see a handball game one evening, and they're not playing in a small room. They're playing on an indoor field (looked like wet Astroturf). It was kind of like soccer, but using a ball in your hands instead of kicking. Accoring to Wikipedia, this Handball is played in Europe (and I presume Asia, since there were several Asian Handball teams on TV). The handball I know is called - please sit down for this - American Handball. This reminds me of the Soccer / Football / American Football name confusion. Can't we at least agree on the names of the games???

They're playing hockey on GRASS!

I need to consult my Canadian friends about this, but one night I turned on the TV and they were playing Hockey on grass! Field Hockey it seems. I guess this is poor-man's hockey? Or perhaps "warm-weather" hockey? The stick looked different from regular ice hockey, and come to think of it, maybe it was THIS sport that looked to be played on wet Astroturf.

Game coverage in a foreign country

I really enjoyed watching the games from another country. I get to see new (to me) sports that aren't popular in the USA, which was quite interesting.

Olympics + HD = Good Match

Despite my Korean satellite service advertising they would be covering the 2008 Olympic games on their HD channel, I never once saw a single event. However, I can pick up most of the over-the-air HD broadcasts. I let me say, HD video is a great match for sporting events. The only slight problem is that usually all the broadcasters would be covering the same event, so if you wanted HD quality, you were stuck with one sport. My other method was watching NBC's coverage of the Olympics using my USA Sling Box installed at The Stumbling Parents home. That was a big contrast between internet video and HD. But at least I could understand the narration of the announcers over the NBC station. They also had a great website devoted to the games, the only problem for me is that all video (live and replays) was blocked for anyone outside the USA.

Archery; how on Earth do they even hit the target?

Archery is very popular here in Korea. Their archery teams (mens and womens) have long winning streaks at the Olympics, as do their individual archers. As you can imagine, I saw a lot of archery. I suddenly gained a huge admiration for the sport when I saw a high speed camera played back in slow motion. When the arrow leaves the bow, it isn't straight. It is like a rubber snake! Oscillating back and forth. I can't imainge how they can hit anything, especially when you also consider the lofted trajectory the arrow follows.

Absent Athlete?

Where was Mark Spitz? He was snubbed?? What's this about? There must be more to this story. I wanna know more... Does everyone remember this famous poster? I think ever girl had it hanging on the wall that year

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fusion Ramyun

Or as we spell it in the USA, Ramen. Actually, I think what we ordinarily buy in the states as Ramen is a Japanese product. The Korean product, Ramyun, is basically the same food modified to suit Korean tastes. For all I know the Chinese have the same dish as well. I was watching some Olympic coverage tonight from home, and decided to prepare some Ramyun. As I've posted before, my Korean friends have repeatedly warned me just how bad a food Ramyun is, and not to eat it often. While all of it is probably not the best food, I think they are particularly concerned about the "instant" style that is sold in all the convenience stores (usually in a styrofoam or thick cardboard package). I've heeded the warning about Ramyon so well, the small 5-pack I have in the kitchen is past the expiration date by 4 months! Given that there's nothing really to go bad in the package, I ate it anyway.

I had been planning to make SPAM Ramyun (thus making it even more unhealthy), and decided to make another variety in addition - cheese Ramyun. Here are the simple steps to making a delicious fusion Cheese-SPAM-Ramyun dish.

Boil the water, get out the Ramyon package:

Prepare the extra ingredients. You're supposed to use green onions, but all I had was regular onion (tasted pretty good to me). You're supposed to only use 1 egg, but I used 3. I didn't have cheddar cheese, so I used some pepper-cheese instead.

Put the noodles and spice packets into the boiling water:

When it's all boiled for 4 minutes,

Add the extra and boil a couple more minutes.

Serve and eat:

This could serve two people, or three thin people. Even The (Large) Stumbler couldn't eat all this, and had some left over for breakfast.

EDIT: Nothing goes better after a Ramyun dinner than a chilled Choco-Pie (see earlier post here).

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Games Begin

Our friend from a few years ago, SC, had moved to Busan a few years ago, opening a successful Curry Restaurant. SC used to work with us, and served as a part-time travel guide during a family visit back in 2005. He came to Seoul this month to visit, so we all got together Friday night for dinner and to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics at a sports bar.

(You will notice SC is wearing a Curry-colored shirt, which we teased him about all night). Another reason for our gathering that night was another friend JI was departing for a week long vacation in Italy. JI is the fuzzy guy on the right (these photos were taken with the cell phone camera, which doesn't have the best quality optics)

The opening ceremonies were really great. I ended up seeing the whole program in about three sittings. We watched most of the entertainment portion Friday night live. Then Saturday morning, I was able to see the parade of countries portion on NBC using my Slingbox. Then Saturday night I caught a repeat of the entertainment portion on local Korean broadcast. At the sports bar, you couldn't hear any audio, so I got a little bit more out of it the second time around.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Wash Day

Sunday is my wash day, but today was special. After some confusion at the store, I finally found an 8 meter long clothesline which I can temporarily stretch across my apartment. So today I washed my blankets (Korean-style sheets), and now my place looks like a tent.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Choco Pie

Choco Pies, a Korean favorite snack food. For folks back home, think Moon Pie. Chocolate Moon Pie.

So tell me readers, which is more pathetic.... (a) that one of the local networks produced a 30 minute program devoted to the history and development of the Choco Pie? or (b) that The Stumbler actually WATCHED a 30 minute program devoted to the history and development of the Choco Pie?

Speaking of Choco Pies, I found this interesting (but 3 years old) article on the Arirang website while searching (unsuccessfully) for a link to the above-mentioned show:

Korean Confectionary Firm Produces a Choco-Pie Index to Gauge Consumer Prices

You may have heard the terms like "the Big Mac index" and the Starbuck's Tall Latte index. By tracking the prices of those popular foods around the world industry watchers compare exchange rates and prices in different countries.

Well most recently Korea's confectionary manufacturer Orion came up with an index of its own based on the prices of its all-time favorite product Choco-Pie a chocolate-covered snack. The company says as with the Big Mac the Choco-Pie is a standardized product selling well around the world. The regular box of 12 pies costs 1 U.S. dollar and 99 cents in Korea. New Zealand had the highest Choco-Pie index of 3-point-34 dollars. China, Vietnam and Russia were the three countries where the product was the cheapest costing as little as a dollar 39 cents for a box.

MAY 04, 2005

I had no luck finding a chart of the Choco Pie index behavior over the past three years, but then again, I am not familiar with financial data websites.