Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Ever since discovering them in Japan years ago, I've always carried a "towel-style" handkerchief with me. They were especially useful in Japan, where they don't usually have towels in the bathrooms, to dry your hands. In Korea, too, bathrooms don't often have towels, but this style of handkerchief is not popular and I can't buy them in Seoul. So when I had a short layover at Tokyo's Narita airport on my flight to the USA on Monday, I stocked up on 6 new towel-style hankies:

Let's see, we have bicycles, goldfish (The Stumbling Mother had to explain that one to me), beer mugs, watermelons, elephants, and finally penguins! May I continue to have dry hands. And my pants legs will stay dry, too, since I won't be wiping my wet hands on them...

I had a trouble-free but long journey home. Flew Monday into Atlanta, and took an onward short flight to North Carolina for a meeting. Then flew back to Atlanta Tuesday morning, rented a car, and drove 4 hours back home. Whereupon we almost immediately attended the Baccalaureate Service for The Stumbling Daughter #3's High School graduating class, and finally ate dinnner at 9pm. Busy, yes, but in a good way. Plus, I didn't give in to the normal jet-lag-driven desire to fall asleep in the afternoon for two days straight.

The Stumbling Mom surprised me with two Korean foods on the table, kimchi and dried seaweed (Kim, or Laver). The latter she bought only for the free Lock-n-Lock storage container:

Thursday, May 13, 2010



I don't normally write such technical posts, but this is the exception.

Recently I had a problem with a circuit board here in my electronics lab. I needed a logic analyzer to troubleshoot. These are usually pretty large, expensive pieces of test equipment. If I had to guess, I would say $10K or more. I started thinking, from who could I borrow one? Finally, I decided to look on the internet, and see if there were any low-cost options. Well, there was:

This little box cost $500, plugs into your computer, thus turning it into a logic analyzer. It arrived Monday morning, and in 30 minutes I had it runnng, connected to my circuit, and found the problem. Even though I've used logic analyzers before, it was very simple to operate - I think a novice would learn quickly.

Note - thus I get in trouble with new regulations I've read about, I was NOT compensated for this post by the manufacturer in anyway. I'm just a satisfied customer excited about the product. But, if they WANT to compensate me, I would be happy...

Monday, May 10, 2010

River Habit

I've started a new habit - walking and resting along the Han River on Sunday. Yesterday I brought my new lightweight folding director's chair with side table to the park:

First I took a one hour long walk along the riverside, listening to my Car Talk podcast along the way. Then I settled into my chair for 3 or so hours of reading, sleeping, reading, sleeping, etc. Here are some views from my chair.

I sad directly under the Dangsan Railway Bridge, moving my chair about every hour to stay in the shade!

This photo has three points of interest. First, in the foreground, you can see a tandem bicycle. I saw several of these going by. Next, way out near the riverside, you can see a dark square on the concrete. I couldn't tell exactly what it was, but some old lady took a large package down to the river, laid out a small bamboo mat, and proceeded to spread something over the mat. I'm guessing she was drying something in the sun, but I don't know what. Finally, also near the river, you can see a couple of fishing poles. I spent 4 hours at the park, there were numerous fishermen, and I didn't see one single fish!

I was a little nervous when I left my chair to go to the toilet and buy some water bottle and fishcake soup - fortunately my fellow park-goers were honest and nothnig was stolen.

This was so enjoyable and relaxing, I think I'll try it one evening this week. But I need to consult the internet and find when sunset, or else reading my book will be difficult in the dark. Which reminds me of this quote from Groucho Marx: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read".

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Football Match Not

Today I went to the World Cup Stadium in Mapo-gu to meet Tuttle to watch the FC Seoul football match. In all this time here in Seoul, I've never gone to a football game. And I still haven't. We met outside the subway station exit, where my friend JI and Tuttle's friend J joined us.

A problem was soon evident. The place was JAM PACKED. Today is Children's Day in Korea, so public places, especially parks (and apparently ball parks, too) are very crowded. Further thwarting our efforts was that today children were being admitted free to the stadium.

We started out trying to find the end of the line to buy tickets. It wrapped over half way around the World Cup stadium! Along the way, J gave up and left us (in hindsight, he was the smart one). We decided at this point to give up on getting in the stadium on time, and came up with an alternate plan. Go eat lunch, wait for the crowds to thin out, and join the ball game in progress.

Alas, we weren't the only ones with this idea. We walked around the underground of the stadium, in what must be the largest Home Plus I've ever seen. Both the food court and other restaurants were so crowded we gave up, and returned to the GS25 where we originally met! Even the GS25 had a long line just go get inside. We found a table, had a simple lunch listening to the crowds yelling from the stadium. The game was about halfway over, and we could still see a long line to buy tickets, so I just gave up and came home around 4pm.

However, I'm going to try again. I'll be out of town the home game, but I can catch the one after that. I'm looking foward to it.

EDIT: I heard on the radio station this morning that the attendance was nearly 61,000 fans at the game, smashing a 2007 record of 55,000. Considering that the stadium only holds about 68,000, it was indeed a crowded day at the soccer field. Well, it probably wasn't too crowded ON THE FIELD, just the rest of the stadium!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sunday Stroll

The weather was perfect for a long walk along the Han river Sunday. Lot's of people were out, flying kites, fishing, picnicing, just enjoying the weather.

This fellow had a bicycle attached to floats, and the pedals were attached to flippers which propelled it in the water. Sorry, but my finger got in the way on the last photo.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Ten of One

I ran out of rice this week. I always hate buying rice, because there are over two dozen brands to choose from. I asked a friend for advice, and ended up ordering rice online! I ordered the usual 10kg of rice, but to my surprise when it arrived, there were ten each one kilogram bags!!!

I guess it doesn't matter, I'll dump them all in the same rice storage box. Just seemed strange. And boy I can better appreciate losing 10kg, after lifting that box full of rice!

Electronics Market

Well, I neededto buy a very small, inexpensive audio connector this week. I knew I could get it at Yongsan, but didn't want to go that far. On a whim, I decided to go to the nearby Wholesale Electronics Market. I've been there several times before, and have been amazed at the size and wide variety of available products. In my haste, what I forgot was that this huge complex suffers from a complete lack of organization. Unless you know exactly which shop(s) to visit, AND WHERE THEY ARE LOCATED, you might as well be shopping for electronics at flower shop.

I arrived, walked around about 15 minutes, and decided to eat lunch first before doing further serious searching. I ate some soup and rice in the numerous small restaurants in the basement, then went back to search. I decided to just start in a random building and walk systematially through the shops. Well, after 15 more minutes, realized this wouldn't work either. There are probably 40 or 50 "wings", each one wih 3 floors! Finally someone suggested I look on the main floor (basically outside on street level), so I spent another 30 minutes walking around looking without result.

Don't get me wrong, I had a GREAT time. This is the perfect place for an engineer to go window shopping. There are so many different things concentrated in one place (random though they may be). Unfortunately, finding a specific item is a challenge unless you have a skilled guide with you. Eventually, I ended up going to Technomart where I found the connector in less than 5 minutes, efficient but boring.

Here are some random shots of my "walk"

View down the main, center street.

Wire and cable, anyone:

Steel Cabinets for your next project?

Copper bars?

Or perhaps an industrial sized can of WD-40:

It was lunch time, and the waitresses were scurrying everywhere with carts full of lunches for all the shop owners:

Air compressors:

and LOTS of screws, every size imaginable:

Finally, as I was leaving, I saw this store, where you can buy fireproof clothing (or are these alien costumes?)