Sunday, November 29, 2009

After 40 Years

A few months ago, I had a chance to reconnect by email with a friend from elementary school over the internet. My friend GE had transferred to another school the last year of elementary school, and we had not see or contacted each other since then. We exchanged a few emails, and then I learned he was coming to Seoul this week! I went to pick him up at the bus station, and spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sightseeing, enjoying Korean foods, and catching up on the last 40 years. GE is a professor, and was giving guest lectures at a few Universities here in Korea. I attended his lecture yesterday afternoon, and was then invited to a nice dinner hosted by the department head. We had a great time, it was so fun to meet him again after so long.

We went first to the Gyeongbok Palace, after walking all over the neighborhood in search of a place to eat. We finally found an interesting cafe whose hamburgers were made like pieces of artwork! (sorry, no photo). The burgers we ordered were huge towers, without the usual hamburger buns. It was definitely required a fork and knife to eat, rather than using your hands. Then we took a tour of the palace, and the amsll Korean Folk Museum beside the palace. And finally we enjoyed a delicious grilled Korean beef dinner (where the above photo was taken).

Saturday morning we went to the National Museum of Korea, and afterwards a brief tour of Itaewon. He was interested in some Korean pottery, so I took him to Mr. Lee's Koryo Ceramics shop, where The Stumbling Mom bought a nice piece of pottery during her visit in 2007. While Mr. Lee makes most of his pottery using various traditional techniques, he showed us a couple of pieces he was experimenting with because of the Christmas Holiday. I almost bought this one (big one on the right).

We ate a Chinese lunch, at a place I had heard about called "Ho Lee Chow". It was a nice place, and food was great. Since I don't know the area well, I find it hit-and-miss when it comes to Itaewon restaurants. But this place was definitely a hit. After Itaewon, he had to get to the University for this lecture. They really were promoting this lecture - there was a banner over the street with his name announcing the event! Here we are at the University right before his lecture.

After the lecture, the University director and some staff and students took us to dinner, where we all had a great time. For me, I got an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of the academic world.

From what he told me, his visit in Korea was very good, and everything we very well. I'm actually a little jealous, because he got to see some of the country side down south, where I've never been. Anyway, I'm glad we were able to meet after all these years.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old Age

(The Stumbler after 1 hour walk in the freezing cold, wearing his Ga Tech cap from college which still fits!)

I'm getting old. I've over weight. I don't exercise. My father died at age 54 from a heart attack. Even though I have Korean health insurance, I recently lost my USA health insurance, and was denied supplemental health insurance here in Korea. And my back's been acting up again. All these points hit me suddenly - I don't want to die early. I'm trying to improve my health. I've visited some doctors, and my complete health checkup is ongoing. Any interesting news that's not too private I'll post as I learn it.

However, there is no time to spare! I've already started diet and exercise. Let's talk about exercise first. Walking. Last week was 30 minutes per day, this week is 1 hour per day. Today I planned a new walking route, which happened to take me by a brand new shopping mall, Times Square, apparently the biggest in Korea?

It's already time for Christmas decorations here in Seoul. Much too early, if you ask me.

Made it back home in just over an hour. My Google Map planning worked perfectly. Let's change the subject to diet. I ate pretty well last week, but the doctor made some specific changes for this week. I have a list of foods to include in my diet this week - I only know about half of them. Of the half I do know, I can probably only cook half of them. It's going to be a challenge. At the corner vegetable stand, I stopped and bought two of the items I remembered being on my list:

In the middle of course is a small pumpkin, which I can probably figure out how to cook and eat. The things around the pumpkin I believe are persimmons, which I have no idea how to cook or eat. I *think* I've eaten these like fruit years ago, but am not sure. Anyone have a recipe for persimmon pumpkin?

One other interesting thing today was that I went to get a series of X-Rays made of my back and related bones. I went after work, and it was right at their closing time. Fortunately, there were no other patients, as the robe they gave me to wear was entirely too small. It only overlapped 1 cm at the front, and even then not well. I was really open for all to see, but fortunately they let me keep my underwear on! The nurse didn't quite know what to do with me. But the X-Rays went well, even though I ripped one of the sleeves in one position she put me in!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Teeth

I bit down on a strange snack last night, which was basically dried ramyeon noodles, and broke a filling on my front tooth! This is a tooth that broke in a very similar accident involving a peanut several years ago, which actually chipped the tooth. My American dentist made a "filling", more like a repair, on the tooth which has lasted a few years. Come to think of it, I believe this broke once before in the USA and he re-repaired it one time.

So this morning, I arrived at my Korean dentist promptly at opening time 9:30am. I asked to have my tooth repaired and all my teeth cleaned. I discussed it with the dentist, and then they started cleaning. After the cleaning, the nurse said I had to come back next week for the repair, because Saturday was such a busy day. But the dentist saw me as I was about to walk out the door, and asked why was I leaving? He then spoke quickly to the nurse, and they turned me around and put me back in the chair. Total time - 1 hour, no appointment, about $140 final price.

P.S. He told me the repair would only last a couple of years, and I'll eventually need a crown on that tooth. I hope my bank account will be larger in two more years.

Friday, November 13, 2009


In one of several attempts to ward off back pain, I have (hopefully) improved my office enviroment. First, I got a new chair, supposedly good for your back. I'm told this is the Korean equivalent to the Herman Miller chair, called Duoback.

Ironically, I probably sprained a couple back muscles wrestling this chair out of the shipping carton. And a few more while laying on the floor balancing the heavy chair above my head while trying to line it up with the rolling base (which rolls VERY easily, even when you don't want it to!)

Once the chair was operational, I realized that I was still hunched over, because of the height of my laptop screens. Whereupon I elevated my laptop to eye level with a lap top "stand", and elevated my auxiliary LCD display with a box.

Now I have no excuse for poor posture (he types while straightening his back from the slouching position).

EDIT - interesting quote from the Herman Miller website - "Zero is Hero. We won't stop until we've achieved nothing." Not quite sure what to make of this...