Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spinal Liberation

Speaking of The Stumbling Mother, this article caught my attention recently. Japan has been slow coming to the ebook table, and a cottage industry has sprouted up. People's homes are overcrowded with books, and they are taking matters into their own hands - by scanning their books and converting them to electronic, PDF format! The company featured in the article charges just over one dollar to scan a book. Even though there are an estimated 60 such companies, there is still a 4-month waiting list to get your books scanned! This is amazing. I hope it catches on. Could this be the modern-day microfiche? I'm looking forward to seeing some of these companies start up in Seoul. Ah, the reason this reminded me of TSM, is that she would have been one of their top customers. I, too, have inherited the book pack-rat gene from her.

For anyone interested in this technology, I found a few other cool links. This Japanese scientist has invented a machine which non-destructively scans a 200-page book in 1 minute! For the do-it-yourself-er, this fellow put together his own system at home. He doesn't say the total scanning time, although he says the processing takes about as long as it takes him to turn the page. But still, he must have a lot of patience. And finally, I like this term from the Wikipedia article on book scanning, under the section of destructive scanning:"...once liberated from the spine...[the pages can be scanned using standard equipment]".

To spinal liberation...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Of Oil and Hangnails

The Lunar New Year was just celebrated here in Korea, indeed all over Asia. As for me, I enjoyed working in a very quiet city for a few days. Almost no people, no traffic, and unfortunately almost no restaurants were open, either. Koreans give all sorts of gift sets for this holiday, such as the SPAM gift set which I delivered to The Stumbling Brother a few years ago. Well, this year one of our kind colleagues Mr. H delivered a Holiday Gift set to me - three large bottles of Grape Seed Oil! Not sure whether that ranks above or below SPAM (can it get any lower than SPAM?). But now I'm all set for my cooking oil needs for the next year or more.

I always have trouble with my fingernails, specifically the skin around the edges. Working with electronics, I'm always scratching or damaging my nails. I haven't had good luck trying to repair the damage with nail clippers, my teeth, or even wire cutters, either. So finally last week, I was walking by a fingernail manicure shop in the "Techno-Mart" shopping center near my home. Actually, it is hard NOT to walk by such shops - there seems to be a huge demand for nail care in my neighborhood, witness by the 3 dozen nail shop found on the B1 level alone!

So, I stopped and got into a discussion with the owner about my cracked and broken hangnails. Using body language and my partial understanding of Korean, she explained that it was simple. She gave me a complimentary nail file, and explained what to to. This file was smoother than any I had seen before (I suppose not to sand away all your skin). She told me to file the skin with this file, but to coat the file with oil first. My eyes lit up so brightly when I heard that. As you know, I am the proud new owner of 3 large bottles of Grape Seed Oil. But, when I explained my plan, she told me I had to use Baby Oil, not cooking oil. So, I've added one more bottle of (Baby) oil to my collection. And I have nearly hangnail-free fingers, too.

The Stumbler is not a sissy, and wants to emphatically deny any rumors that he was recently seen receiving a manicure at the Techno-Mart....

A Walk with Mom

First, I want to welcome myself back to my blog. I was unusually busy the last half of 2010 with work. Then The Stumbling Mother suddenly became ill, and passed away after 5 long weeks in the hospital. My life is slowly returning to normal, and it is time for blogging to resume. I will start off by posting a short memory I wrote about Mom back on the New Years Day weekend.

I decided to get some culture this weekend. There was an exhibit at a museum which interested me, so I took off towards downtown on this clear, crisp first day of 2011. In the back of my mind, I heard my Mother teasingly scolding me for living in a city full of galleries and museums but rarely visiting them. But surely she was happy that I was going to a museum, relaxing and taking a break from work. I walked around searching for the museum (there are dozens and dozens in this area, so it can be a search). Again my Mother was with me, as I recalled her spotting a small sign in this very area, "Silk Road Museum, 300m". She just had to visit, no matter that the 300m was entirely uphill. We had better luck on that day compared to today - at least the Silk Road Museum was open. This museum I tried to visit today was closed. I don't know if it was becase of New Years Day, or because the exhibit was not yet open. Not to get too discouraged, I stopped at a coffee shop and regrouped. Sipping my coffee, I remembered just how fun that unexpected 300m uphill walk turned out. The tiny museum featured relics collected along the silk road, collected by the owner herself. We were the only visitors, and received a personal tour by the owner. She even served us hot tea. These unplanned stops can be as rewarding or more so than the planned ones.

I then decided to take a random detour to nearby Insadong. Took a stroll up and down the artsy (and touristy) street, and once again I could hear my Mother shouting at me to wait up, while she went shopping at the 15th pottery store of the day. I passed a store displaying the beautiful long scroll paintings, just like Mom brought back to America to adorn her walls. Next on the street I saw the old tea shoppe sign. Again I was hearing my Mother as she insisted that we stop there, because her friend Tom had told her this tea shoppe had monkeys. None of us believe her story, until we finally asked the owner, whose face lit up when she told us that not only did they used to have monkeys, but racoons as well! We never should have doubted you, Mom. Then I passed the silly oil-can-man, who had posed for a photo with me and Bill while Mom snapped the picture.

Finally for dinner I ate at a Vietnamese restaurant, and ordered the rice paper wraps (lots of chopped vegies which you wrap in rice paper and then dip in sauce). As they brought out the food, I heard Mom telling me how delicious it looked, and how were were planning to enjoy this very meal together on her next trip so Seoul. I thought to myself, "Mom, you won't be able to visit Seoul anymore". But then I realized, she had been visiting with me all day.

Thanks, Mom, for joining me on this first day of 2011. I love you.