Monday, April 18, 2011

Not Simian

I decided to take a walk yesterday. I was tempted to go up around Yeouido and see the cherry blossoms, but I heard on the radio that they are running busses from out of town to bring people to that park. I decided to stay away. But instead, I took a walk along Do-Rim-(trickle of a)-Stream running by my neighborhood. This is a minor stream which runs into the larger trickle called Anyang Stream, which itself empties into the Han River near that strange tiny island near the Niagara Hotel.

Despite some bridge building construction which I couldn't quite figure out (was it for pedstrians, trains, or cars) the stream-side walk was really pleasant. The walking "park" was almost the same calibre as those along the Han River, complete with the same heavy, fear-inspiring bicycle traffic. I took to the stream walk a few weeks ago, when we had another false-start of Spring, going the opposite direction to the south. That walk was really interesting, because it was almost underground. Most of the walkways were recessed and gave an almost cave-like experience. This walk to the north was much more open. And, I still got to see the cherry blossoms. Just like the Anyang Stream walkway when I lived in Mokdong, they have an elevated, tree-lined walkway parallel to the stream walkway below. Very relaxing.

Many of the parks and walkways here in Korea have these public exercise stations. I stopped at one yesterday, spent a few minutes on each of the various machines, some of which really scare me. Not because of my poor fitness level, but rather because of my poor coordination. Some of these machines are quite easy to operate, but I can so easily see myself slipping and flying off into the concrete. One which simulates huge walking strides which standing still comes to mind. I did find one I really liked, kind of an eccentric (off-center, not strange) body twisting apparatus.

What nearly DID kill me was not the exercise area, but instead an innocent set of monkey bars along the tree-lined walkway. "Oh, monkey bars!" I thought to myself, "These bring back such happy memories from elementary school". That should have been a warning, not being simian nor an elementary school student. Rather, I'm an overweight man with back problems. Cautiously, I approached the bars, grabbed the first one, and started a gentle swing. Not gentle enough, it seems. I was not prepared for what happened next. I felt an incredible stretch somewhere along the sides of my back, almost like something snapped! I immediately ceased all monkey activity. Actually, I think the stretching would have been great, had it been administered slowly (like from midieval rack torture). But coming in one sudden jerk as it were, I'm still feeling it this morning, almost 24 hours later.

Dog owners here tend to pamper their dogs. And small dogs seem to be most popular (I guess small dogs go better in small homes with no yards). I've seen well-groomed dogs, dogs with hair-dyed ears and/or tails, and even dogs wearing clothes. I have even heard stories about The Stumbing Aunt's dog wearing a backpack. But for the first time, I saw a dog wearing walking shoes!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Less is More

Well, I finally got out to the Museum that I almost visited back on New Year's Day. (I wrote about back in February). I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed it. The exhibit featured the design work of Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer. He worked for many years for the Braun company, and it is said that his followers used his design techniques and philosophies in the design of the Apple iPhone.

It should be clear from the title of the exhibit, "Less is More", that he espouses a simplistic, minimalist design. As an engineer, I've always wanted more and more functions on a product. The more buttons, dials, meters, displays, the better. But the elegance of his designs, convinces me otherwise. That, and years of operating OTHER people's products which were too complicated to understand. I definitely plan to read more about him and his design style.

Let start with the most astounding design, in my opinion. I have not been able to find any details about it, and unfortunately my cell phone camera didn't catch enough detail to read the label. I call it the "one button TV set"

Here are some other photos from the exhibit:

Let me also say it is a bit unsettling to be in a mueseum exhibit, and see products that you remember seeing on the store shelves as a child. Make of that what you will.