Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Money Lost

T-Money, that is. I wrote about this special device that is used for subway and bus fares (some taxi's reportely will accept it, too) back two years ago. Well, yesterday this two-year old widget (it attaches to your cell phone) broke. It wasn't visibly broken, it just refused to work. I took it to the station clerk, and he tried it on his machines, and confirmed that it was dead.

You know what's coming... Engineer, broken electronics item... You guessed it. I dismantled the thing to see what's inside.

Here is the main brain. Attached to a wire loop antenna and what I'm guessing is an inductor used for impedance matching.

The cool thing is that I could see immediately what was wrong. One of the antenna wires had come unsoldered. I think I know why it broke, too. You'll notice there is a small pocket in the body of the plastic case, which is where the electronics should be located. In fact, it looks like there was some adhesive holding it down. I say was, because when I opened up this unit, the whole thing was rotated slightly, so that the electronics was at the edge, or slightly outside of that pocket. I believe the resulting stress broke off the antenna wire. I simply soldered it back, and hopefully it will work and I won't lose the $6 or so remaining value.

I'll test it tonight and report back.

EDIT: It works! All those years of Engineering school finally paid off!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hot Yoga

I saw an advertisement the other day on a post, it was promoting "HOT YOGA". I was wondering what exactly "HOT YOGA" was, until yesterday when a large banner on the next building.

It explains is that the Yoga class is held at a temperature of 38 deg C, or 100 deg F, the humidity is held at 60%, and they provide fresh Oxygen! And the official name? "THE HOT YOGA". Not for me, thanks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seat, Sparkling

Toilet seat, that is. When I moved into my apartment over a year ago, the toilet seat was partially broken. Well, the inevitable happened and it broke completely last week. I wasn't quite sure how to get new toilet seats in Korea, but some friends suggested I look at the "mart" first (think K-Mart or Walmart). Sure enough, they did sell some at the mart. Quite a large variety, in fact. However, 90% of them were either baby toilet seats or seats for small toilets. My toilet is large (think oval, not circle). There were only 3 that looked like they would fit, and they all three looked unusual. Two of them looked so feminine, I just couldn't bring myself to buy either one (and one of those was about $50!!!). I settled on one that is barely tolerable - I would call it sparkling, and it set me back about $25:

They are very proud of the hardware and hinge construction - you can see those are made from stainless steel:

Sparing you a photo of my dirty toilet, here is a photo stolen from their website (as were all these photos) here's a photo of the installed seat:

Here is the one I couldn't bring myself to buy, even ignoring the high price:

Two final points... in the literature which accompanied this seat, they had a nice diagram highlighting all the features of this toilet seat. Althouh not fluent in Korean, one caught my attention - basically it said this seat will not be cold in the winter. I am not quite sure how they do that - I'm aware of ELECTRIC toilet seats that are heated, but I have no idea how this ordinary seat could stay warm in the winter.

And I can't end this without pointing out that the toilet seat manufacturer's name, DITTO, actually stands for something. According to the corporate introduction on their website:

"infinite Designs and Imiginations for Total Toilet-ware Organization"

The Konglish just doesn't get any better than that, folks! In case you're wondering about a "Total Toilet-ware Organization", they've provided a chart to explain it clearly:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cong Bee Gee

I think this stew is replacing soon-doo-boo stew as my favorite. But if I thought soon-doo-boo had a unappealing translation (raw soy bean curd stew, or unformed tofu stew), then this stew has a downright awful translation: soy bean curd refuse stew! The "refuse" is defined as the "edible residue left after the production of bean curd".

The texture (and the taste somewhat) reminds me of grits, although with various items mixed in - kimchi, small pieces of pork, and who knows what else. In fact, I remember being served a spicy grits dish back in the USA one time, I think it was a bowl of grits covered with spicy shrimp and/or wings? As for me, I'll keep enjoying soy beans, in both curd form and curd refuse form.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Phone, Foot and Fast Food

I broke my phone the other day, and had to revert to my older phone, which is a little bit flaky. On top of that, I lost the phone book contents. Well, not entirely. I have the phone book backed up on my computer, but the program asks me for a password and I have no idea what the password is! When I used the program before, the phone was always plugged in, and the password was the same as the phone's password. Now, without a phone, it seems to want another password. So, anyonw who sends me a text message these days gets a standard reply "sorry, who are you?" (that has made a few friends a little upset, it seems, until I explain the reason). Also I've found the new phone that I want, but I need more research and money before I take the leap. For now I'll stumble along with this 2003-model phone.

My foot is STILL hurting me. It doesn't look bad, doesn't look infected, it just hurts. Sometimes it REALLY hurts (like right now), and other times it is normal. It seems to be more sensitive after I've been sitting with my foot elevated, say on the foot stool by my sofa. But, usually, I have put my feet on the stool in the first place because the heel was hurting! I've heard it is slow to heal because there is generally poor circulation in the feet. I've also heard it is because of summer-time weather, that wounds take a long time to heal. I don't really care what the reason, I just want my foot to stop hurting. I guess another visit to the doctor is in order.

I almost NEVER eat at McDonalds. When I do, these days maybe once per month or even less, and usually for breakfast. For some reason, within the past 24 hours, I've eaten there THREE times! On a whim, yesterday morning I ate breakfast there. The on the way home last night, I was really tired and didn't want to cook, and I was walking by McD in the train station, and said, oh well, I'll grab a hamburger for dinner. This morning, Saturday, I woke up early, made a few phone calls, and headed to the office. I was going to eat at the Joe's Sandwich shop. Well, they aren't open at 8am on Saturday morning! Right across the street is another sandwich shop, but they too were closed. Sigh... back to McD's again. At least the breakfast menu is on sale this month. Burrrrrrppppppp.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Warning: Food Post

I'm tired of always eating salmon with mashed potatoes and vegetables, even though I think those three really go together well. So tonight I decided to mix it up just a little bit, and made a salmon - vegetable - mashed potato casserole! As usual, I made too much, and there's enough for at least one more meal, if not two. That is, if I can eat it before it goes bad.

Swine Gyeop Sal

I heard that the value of pork is on the decline, since the recent outbreaks of the swine flu (which we're now supposed to call 2009 H1N1 flu, named after the discovered of the virus, Dr. Samuel 2009 H1N1). Consider that they ordered the slaughter of all pigs in Egypt. Korea has strengthened inspections of incoming pork, despite the fact that eating pork is not known to transmit the flu (tip to Joe Seoulman for this report). With this in mind, I was joking to my friend JI the other day that we ought to eat at a pork restaurant soon - the prices would be discounted and they wouldn't be very crowded because of this irrational fear.

JI took my suggestion seriously, and researched pork places on the internet. Therefore last night we went to the one he chose, called "Eight Flavors".

They serve 8 different types of sam-gyeop-sal (which is pork belly meat, similar to bacon, but really thick). Let me try to remember them:

1. Plain (if you can count this as a flavor)
2. Curry
3. Red Pepper
4. Wine
5. Herb

Oh well, I forgot three of them. We had the curry, herb, and red pepper. My favorite was the herb (shown below), although the red pepper came in a close second place.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Stalkee Update

So far, secretly following the life of my new cell phone stalkee via his credit card purchases has been extremely boring. Let's call him KJ (since those are his initials). So far he's only made two purchases, both apparently a pack of cigarettes. One Tuesday night, one again Friday night. That's all. He must be a very light smoker, or he also pays in cash sometimes.

International Burrito

Made a surprisingly delicious burrito today. Beans, spiced tomatoes, and taco seasoning the The Stumbling Mom mailed to me last year. I used some Australian ground beef, and Korean ham (well, it's a ham-like product).

Compared to a Korean, I go through my rice very slowly. So slowly, in fact, I can't remember the last time I bought a bag. Today as I was making the burrito, I realized that I had only a handful of rice left. But, I remembered that I had a bag of yellow rice brought over from America. So not knowing exactly what I was doing, I added the yellow rice to the handful of white rice in the rice cooker and turned it on. It came out great. So let's add Indian yellow rice to my international burrito. Top it off with sour cream from Denmark, and I'm all set. Burp......

(I'm really not looking forward to carrying the 10kg bag of rice from the store next trip)

UPDATE: The last time I made a burito, for some reason it was much better the second day as left-overs. Not so with this burrito. I think the problem is that yellow rice doesn't keep in the rice cooker like white rice. It looked slightly bad today when I made another burrito, and my stomach hurt for a couple hours after eating it. Finally I've made the connection that you shouldn't leave yellow rice in the cooker.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tweet Tweet

There was an interesting display outside the office this afternoon. The whole sidewalk was lined with cages of birds (and even one cage with rabbits).

Apparently they were brought to the neighborhood by the bird truck:

Here are some of the feathery fellows: