Saturday

[misc] Meme

I was tagged so here I go...

1. What was I doing 10 years ago...

Let's see. May 1998. That would be college. I would be home from college at this point, working a summer job. Either as a sales clerk at JC Penny (in Home Fashions- I can tell you anything you need to know about sheet thread count or why big puffy bath towels are not a good investment), or assembling geotechnical instrumentation at a small company in Lebanon (I can tell you anything you need to know about load cells or piezometers) or at the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (I can tell you why you shouldn't move to Bengladesh). I can't remember which job I had at the time.

2. What are five things on my to-do list today...

Practice spinning on my new spinninng wheel. Check.

Move furniture. Check. (Dollar might contest this. He did the actual "moving" of furniture up and down the stairs; I just removed books and clothes from the nightstand and dresser.)

Cook the beef short ribs in the fridge. Check.

Sort out, pay and file away bills. Check.

Knit more on a pair of socks. Not yet, but soon. After dinner, while Dollar and I are watching Battlestar.

3. Snacks I enjoy...

Fruit: Cherries. Raspberries. Peaches. Grapes. Apples. I buy oranges but never eat them because they're too much f'ing work.

For salty, I like chips or popcorn.

4. Places I've lived...

Vermont, Massachusetts, England, Vermont.

5. Five things I would do if I was a billionaire...

Spend money. Spend money like it's going out of style. Like it's no one's business but my own. Houses (with dream kitchens) in Vermont and Alaska. Boats. Motorcycles (Vespas and Ducatis). All the guitars in the world for Dollar. I would buy couture clothes and give them to homeless people in NYC to wear so that the fashionistas would see homeless people wearing the same $4000 sweater as them.

Just an aside to talk about status symbols: Everyone was selling and everyone was carrying a Louis Vuitton bag in Korea. They're all fake, of course, but it made me realize that if EVERYONE had a fake LV bag, why would anyone spend $4,000 on a real one? Everyone is just going to assume it's a fake. I wonder if the Koreans have effectively destroyed conspicuous consumption by succumbing to it so completely.

Friday

[travel] Seomun Market, Daegu

Today was the last day in Daegu. Co-worker and I went to Seomun Market to check it out. Here's the entrance to the gigantic, sprawling outdoor market where you can buy anything and everything.

Seomun Market


This is one of the main drags:

Seomun Market


Shops run along either side of the walkway. Along the walking area, there are food stands where you can sit on a bench to eat.

Seomun Market


Each stand can only accommodate 3-6 people but there are dozens and dozens and dozens, so just move onto the next one if one is full. The serve all kinds of goodies, like this:

Seomun Market


That is a pile o' stuff that belongs on the inside of an animal. Looking at it was almost enough to turn me into a vegetarian. And there are loads of vendors selling that shit. To eat.

Branching off the main walking area were smaller alleys:

Seomun Market


From the smaller alleys, you could get into indoor shops. Here's one selling fabrics:

Seomun Market


It was a maze.

Seomun Market


People were selling rope, eel, shoes, herbs, buttons, f'ing ANYTHING. I had a hand-written note that one of my students wrote for me that said "Where is a knitting shop" and "I want to buy yarn" in Korean. I would show a seller and they would point me in a direction. Then I would go that way, and show someone else. Then keep going, and show someone else. Eventually, I made it to 3 (nearly identical) yarn stalls! I found yarn!

The yarn was pricier than I would have liked but I can't haggle. I bought some wooden spoons near the entrance to the market and I think I got taken. But I can't speak Korean so my haggling skill consists of holding up and item, asking how much, the seller holds up a number of fingers, I sigh, put the item back, wait... And then look at them. And they look at me. And then it's just a staring contest.

I did try holding up fingers back (e.g. they hold up five fingers, I hold up three) but they thought that was how many I was asking for.

Later, back around our hotel, we went down to the supermarket to spend leftover money. We decided to get "interesting" drinks. I got a can of pumpkin drink and he got a can of drink with an ice cream cone on the front. In the checkout line, I saw some English writing on his can and asked, "Did you see this- 'Cheese Ice Cream'. I think you're buying cheese ice cream soda." Even better, he said. Outside, we opened our cans and tasted. Mine tasted like cold pumpkin soup and his did, in fact, taste like cheese and like ice cream at the same time. We only made it half-way through our drinks before throwing them away.

Farewell, Daegu. Thank you for the interesting food and memories.

Wednesday

[travel] Downtown Daegu

Co-worker and I took a cab to downtown after work. It was BUSY. Lots of people out and lots of sellers- selling mostly underwear, shoes and fake Louis Vuitton bags. The narrow alleys were fun to walk through.

Ally


We bought a walnut creamcicle and walked around. I saw an advertisement for the new Indiana Jones movie.

Indiana Jones


There was no place to cross the street so we walked down to the subway station to cross to the other side. Only, the subway station was a mall. A MALL.

Mall


This mall (selling mostly underwear, shoes and fake Louis Vuitton bags) was 20 feet below the busy road above. It was clean, air conditioned and RIGHT BELOW the city above.

We made our way up and out on the other side of the street at a park:

Park


Park


Lots of young girls were waiting outside of a building- waiting for a celebrity to arrive I think.

Busy Daegu


Spidey, caught in an invisible awning, gets ready to web someone:

Spidey


People are everywhere:

Busy Daegu


At supper, I tested out my camera's color-swap capabilities for a couple of the shots.

Just green:

Supper- color selection


Just kimchi red:

Supper- color selection


The complete meal:

Supper


When we left the restaurant it was night. We actually stayed up late enough to see night.

Daegu Night


Now that I'm getting adjusted to the time change here, I don't look forward to having to do it all over again at home.

One last comment about the cab ride back to the hotel- It was amazing. Amazing in the same way that Russian Roulette is exhilarating when you don't lose. This young male cabbie had his ride pimped out with flashing lights and neon colors. He drove like EVERYBODY was in his way- honking, going around cars, between cars when I was sure there wasn't enough room. Co-worker was trying to look up the Korean word for "exciting" as I sat next to him saying, "Stop! You're missing it! He's making a u-turn in the middle of the road and cutting off the bus! You have to be seeing this!"

Tuesday

[travel] New experiences

After work, co-worker and I walked some of the side streets near our hotel:

Side Street


We found a place that served beer and weird little snacks:

Beer


Then we found a small little place and I ordered bibimbap:

Bibimbap


Some of these smaller eateries appear to be attached to where the people running the place live. As we were waiting at one of the four tables, a door next to the kitchen slid open and a sleepy girl came out and slipped on shoes to help her mother.

I pointed to "Where is the toilet?" written in Korean from my travel guide and the girl pointed through a side door and down a hallway. I wish I could have taken a picture of the toilet because it was unlike anything I have experienced. It was a porcelain oblong hole in the tile floor. It took a little finagling to figure out how to squat without peeing all over myself but I worked it out. I tugged the chain and it flushed. Easy.

I came back out and told my co-worker he had to check it out but he travels a lot all over the pacific and said he and already experienced peeing into a hole in the floor. He asked me, "Were you pointing the right way?" and I said, "Yeah, I could tell mid-way through that there is a definite right and wrong way to be pointing, but I was okay. I was doing it right." Whew.

Monday

[travel] Korea- Not for Vegetarians.

Some pictures from the bus ride back to the hotel after work:

Daegu


Daegu


Daegu


There are lots of gardens along the river banks:

Garden


My co-worker and I went out to supper. The poor guy is a vegetarian and Korea is not a place for vegetarians. Every place we go, we hold out our tour books and point to "I am a vegetarian" written in Korean and every woman that runs the restaurant shakes her head and says, "No." Still, he's a good sport and we stay because there's always rice and all the vegetable side dishes. And I get all the meat.

This one place only served pork and only served it in two ways at that. I pointed at the picture that looked like bacon strips rather than the one that looked like suspicous kinds of spam. Here's what we got:

Supper


After it cooked for a while and she came to cut it up into bite-sized pieces with scissors:

Supper


And all the delicious sides:

Supper


Supper


I tell you what- this is the way to eat. It's cheap, it's tasty, it's good for you (well, maybe not the fatty bacon but all the garlic and veggies are).

Saturday

[travel] Daegu, Korea

Ugh, I made it. After leaving Anchorage Thursday evening, I finally made it to Daegu, Korea Saturday evening. Now it's Sunday morning and I'm wondering where Friday and Saturday went.

My co-worker and I went for a walk through the city and down by the river. I snapped a few pictures:

Daegu River


There were lots of different kinds of birds in and around the river:

River birds


River birds


River birds


Here's lunch. I have no idea what I ordered, I just pointed at one of the three pictures posted on the wall.

Lunch


Lunch


One of the side dishes was whole cloves of garlic. I had four or five while eating and I'm regretting it hours later. I don't know if you can o.d. on garlic but I think I'm close. Who eats whole cloves of raw garlic anyway? When my co-worker and I left the restaurant, we passed a market and saw this:

Garlic


Bunches of garlic for 6000 won (about six dollars) that would probably last me six months. It probably lasts someone here two weeks. Or less.

And a view of the street we were on.

Street in Daegu

Wednesday

[travel] Palmer, Alaska

After work on Tuesday, I drive 50 miles up to Palmer to visit the Musk Ox Farm. On the way up, I snapped a picture:

On the way to Palmer, Alaska


I stopped at one scenic point just before the farm. It was WINDY and there was a 500 foot drop down to the river flats. I didn't stay long because sand was blowing into my face.

Palmer, Alaska


At the farm, there is a museum to learn more about musk ox and the Oomingmak co-operative.

Musk Ox Farm


Here is a skeleton. The musk ox are surprisingly stocky. Full grown males only reach about 5-feet at their highest point.

Musk Ox Farm


The ox at the farm have the pointed tips of their horns clipped- for the safety of the farm workers and the other ox.

Musk Ox Farm


Feel the fibers. Swatches of qiviut, camel, yak, angora, wool, etc. Qiviut is by far the softest.

Musk Ox Farm


Outside, the tour began. I was the only one in the tour group so it was a nice one-on-one tour of the farm and the animals.

Musk Ox Farm


We went to see the females who had given birth this year and their babies. It was so cute to see the babies running around. Of course, I only got pictures of the babies hiding. They're the little brown lumps.

Musk Ox Farm


A nursing mother only gives 4 ounces of milk per day. FOUR OUNCES. And the babies gain something like a pound a day from it. Talk about rich and nutritious.

Musk Ox Farm


The males are kept in separate areas:

Musk Ox Farm


Musk Ox Farm


Musk Ox Farm


The ox get lots of toys to play with. I asked what the pole with tires are for. They are for the ox to head butt and ram into. Whee!

Musk Ox Farm


Here are adolescents with a pig in the background. That gigantic red ball is a PIG: Pipeline Inspection Gauge. I was told that it's used to clean the Alaskan pipeline. Whee!

Musk Ox Farm


All and all, it was a good learning experience. In the spring, the ox start to shed their soft, insulating lining (qiviut). The people at the farm herd the ox into a pen and comb the qiviut out. The guard hairs need to be removed from the fiber. It's cleaned and carded and sent to a cashmere mill in Connecticut to be spun into lace weight yarn. Then the yarn is portioned out and sent to the co-operatives women across Alaska to knit into goods. There are only two places running a domesticated Musk Ox operation- here at Palmer and at the Large Animal Research program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.