Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chris's Christmas Party 2007

On the 15th I went to the eagerly anticipated party hosted by Chris. Last year's Halloween and Christmas parties, and this year's Halloween party were so great that it was hard to imagine he could make it any better. He never disappoints! Always the host with the most.His entire home was wrapped up Christmas style. Several activities were planned.First up was the tree trimming. Of course, most of the decorations were made by Chris - pictures of himself and friends.And of course, the star has to top the tree!Then there was a bit of a game of paper bag pinatas, using a small wooden sword that Chris had on display in his room. The game evolved a few times:soft ball styleT-ball styleA little later, once the mess of shattered candy was cleaned up, we played a game of pin-the-candycane-on-the-elf. Since the blindfold was no-where to be found, we had to settle for just closing our eyes. It worked well anyway.Then came the Christmas Story and carols. Every Christmas, Chris writes a story and carols for his friends.What is a Christmas party without a visit from Santa?Or a customary photo with the Man in Red.Everyone participated in the White Elephant gift exchange. There was a wide range of gifts from just plain useful to the useless, the funny to the questionable, etc.gameswinter hatsSPAM, toilet paperAnother thing that Chris always plans is a variety of contests such as naming a character or coming up with a caption for a picture. I won one of the caption contests, but won't tell you what it was.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Princes et Princesses

A few months ago I bought a DVD that looked interesting: silhouette animation. I watched it today and loved it! As I don't understand French, having a DVD helps (subtitles work wonders). It is Princes et Princesses by Michel Ocelot.
It is a compilation of six short films. Here are a couple of them.
La Princess des Doamants?
For those of you that don't understand French, in the first part, they are discussing the details of a play/show that they will put on. They make the costumes and the show starts. The Princess has been cursed, and her diamond necklace scattered. She is a statue protected by a monster. When a prince touches a diamond, the Princess rises and gives instructions. The prince must find all 111 of the diamonds, assemble the necklace, give the last diamond to the monster and then place the necklace on the Princess to re-animate her. It all must be done before the hour glass is finished.

Le Garcon des Figues
Set in Ancient Egypt, a boy lives in a fig tree. A man brags about seeing the Queen (Hatshepsut). The boy dreams and when he awakes, finds a ripe fig on his tree - in the middle of winter. He takes it to the Queen and gets rewarded. The Queen's royal attendant gets angry that the Queen is giving rewards for such a small thing and tries to change things. First he tells the boy that the Queen thinks his breath smells of garlic, so he should wear a cloth over his face before going back. He goes back after finding another ripe fig, wearing the cloth. The queen enquires about the cloth, and the attendant tells her that the boy thinks that SHE reaks of garlic.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

a friend in Afghanistan

I don't normally follow much of the news about the troups in the Middle East, except for highlights now and then. THIS, however, is personally relevant - a friend of mine is one of the guys interviewed (the last one). I met him in Egypt in 2005. We were both taking the TEFL course in Alexandria. He actually lied to begin with because he wasn't sure what the reaction would be if it was known that he was in the army. His plan was to get a good experience in an Arab/ME country before he was to be sent there for fighting. While in Egypt, we all had such a great time, and most of us picked up a little bit of Arabic in that first month. I wonder if it helped him. Seth Robson / S&S From left: Air Force Tech Sgt. James Pilkenton, 34, of San Diego, Calif.; Army 1st Lt. Alex Sanchez, 24, of La Mirada, Calif.; and Air Force Capt. Brian Fitzpatrick, 27,of Hoosick Falls, N.Y., climbed a mountain high above the Baylough Bowl to assess security at an observation post on Saturday.

Mountain patrols are tough on U.S. troops
By Seth Robson, Stars and StripesMideast edition, Wednesday, December 19, 2007
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Death can come by the bullet or by plummeting off a mountainside in southern Afghanistan’s Dey Chopan district.
U.S. soldiers here have shelter, of sorts, from the elements at Forward Operating Base Baylough, 8,000 feet above sea level. The base — a collection of tents, plywood structures and an ancient adobe building surrounded by razor wire and earth barriers — allows a few dozen soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment to control the surrounding valley, despite regular Taliban attacks.
On paper, 2nd Platoon — the Mustangs out of Hohenfels, Germany — are responsible for security in all of Dey Chopan district, which is home to an estimated 45,000 Pashtun tribesmen, according to platoon leader 1st Lt. Alex Sanchez, 24, of La Mirada, Calif.
But even with the help of 17 Afghan National Army soldiers and two dozen Afghan National Police officers, Sanchez’s authority is limited to the valley, which soldiers call the “Baylough Bowl.”
“The reality is we are undermanned. We have enough combat power to hold what we have and that’s all,” he said.
In five months, the Taliban have attacked Baylough about 60 times, including an all-out strike in September that overran an ANA observation post overwatching the base. There’s still a hole in Sanchez’s bedroom wall punched by a Taliban rocket fired during the attack.
Dey Chopan includes three other large, high mountain valleys and numerous smaller offshoots where locals run sheep or grow almonds in orchards watered by snow melt. Much of the land is in Taliban hands, and intelligence suggests one nearby valley is home to a Taliban training camp, Sanchez said.
“We know Baylough Bowl is ours. The Nayak Bowl [includes a road leading to another base] so we have been in there. We’ve been into Davudsay Bowl with a larger force. Larzab Bowl we have not gone into,” he said.
Patrols out of Baylough are on foot since most of the terrain is too steep for vehicles. Some of the peaks that patrols climb are almost 10,000 feet high — about as tall as the highest mountain in Germany, the Zugspitze.
“It was hard work when we got here, and it never got easy,” Sanchez said of patrolling at altitude.
As soon as soldiers leave the valley floor they have two options — walking across shifting sands where it’s three steps forward and two back, or clambering over boulders. The soldiers often find themselves literally hanging off cliffs.
“There are times when we are climbing to an [observation post] and when you are hanging onto the rock face, you realize if you fall, you will die,” Sanchez said.
Spc. Christopher Weber, 27, of St. Louis, Mo., said climbing mountains in body armor with ammunition and weapons is hard work.
“It takes a lot of skill to climb. You have to watch every move you make because of loose rocks and steep inclines. When the Taliban start to shoot at you, it’s hard to maneuver and get good positions to advance or egress while fighting,” he said.
Pvt. Gregory Sparks, 19, of Oroville, Calif., fell seven feet on a recent patrol but was unhurt.
“I belly-flopped down into a hole with my arm under my SAW (M249 machine gun). Everybody laughed at me, and then they asked if I was OK,” he recalled.
Sparks had to jump from rock to rock on a recent patrol up a nearby peak.
“Have you seen ‘Cliffhanger’ with Sylvester Stallone? That’s us with gear and weapons,” Sparks said. “We should get a mountain tab because we go up more mountains than all those guys [in units like the 10th Mountain Division]. We are dismounted and climbing mountains and doing what mountain guys do, so we deserve a mountain tab.”

AND

U.S., Afghan troops clash with new enemy
By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes Mideast edition, Friday, December 21, 2007
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Foreign fighters with military uniforms are attacking U.S. and Afghan government forces in Zabul province using conventional infantry tactics, soldiers report.
Capt. Pongpat Piluek, 33, of Plant City, Fla., who commands Team Apache — a company level task force based around Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment — said foreign fighters are known to be operating near Forward Operating Base Baylough, an isolated outpost 8,000 feet above sea level in the mountainous Dey Chopan district.
Intelligence suggests the foreign fighters are from Uzbekistan and the rebellious Russian territory of Chechnya, in central Asia, he said.
“The foreign fighters tend to be better trained and financed than the average Taliban. They have LBVs (load bearing vests) and canteens and sometimes black or green uniforms,” he said.
During firefights the foreigners use conventional infantry tactics like flanking, bounding and fixing targets, whereas attacks by local Pashtun Taliban are usually poorly executed, Piluek said.
Maj. Sean Fisher, 37, the Task Force Zabul deputy commander and native of Deerfield Beach, Fla., said foreign fighters use Zabul as a transit route to move between Helmand and Ghazni provinces.
Maj. Harry Bird, 44, of Charleston, S.C., who leads a team of Embedded Tactical Trainers out of FOB Lane in Arghandab District, said several Chechen and Uzbek fighters have been killed in firefights with Afghan National Army troops he works with — from 1st Candat, 2nd Battalion, 205th Corps.
Cpl. Jeffrey Treaster, 33, of Harrisburg, Pa., who fights out of Baylough with Team Apache’s 2nd Platoon, said Pashtun tribesmen in the area have reported Uzbek Taliban who ride out of the mountains on horseback.
Second Platoon leader 1st Lt. Alex Sanchez, 24, of La Mirada, Calif., said the Pashtun also report foreign Taliban coming to their villages.
“The locals will say: ‘The guys who came to the village, I didn’t know who they were and when they spoke, I didn’t understand them.’ Locals will say: ‘The Uzbeks stay in the mountains. One or two will come down with a local Taliban who translates and talks to us,’” he said.
There have been numerous attacks on FOB Baylough but some are much better planned than others, Sanchez said.
“You can tell if the enemy are well-trained,” he said. “If their attack is expertly executed, soldiers assume it is foreign fighters. When it is poorly executed, soldiers assume it is locals.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Apocalypse KOW Christmas Concert 2007

Unfortunately I missed out on the concert as I was obviously not in the country. Their concerts are always great fun, though.

[My bro's the one in the middle.]

catching up to do

I'm still working on catching up with all of the things that I wanted to post. I've been so busy that I haven't really put much time into sorting through all of my pics and such. So yes, a lot of things might be a little out of date.
:S

Toad

This is the friendly fellow that hopped under my feet at the Riverside Bistro in Phnom Penh. I do love frogs and toads. I think they are so cute!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cambodia - Wat Phnom

I checked out Wat Phnom on my first day in Phnom Penh, in the midst of the VISA confusion. The temple was okay, but nothing spectacular. I was sort of disappointed, I suppose. Maybe because I've seen so many temples in so many different countries.
I was there for sunset, so by the time I got down the back side, it was too dark to take pics of all of the monkeys that were everywhere.I DID like the cats that were everywhere!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Glow-in-the-dark cats!!???

Like a glow worm, only better!!!!

Glowing Cats in Korea Could Advance Stem Cell Treatments
Tim King Salem-News.com Dec-14-2007 09:37
(SEOUL, South Korea) - Cats that glow in the dark? That's what researchers in an animal cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, in Jinju, South Korea announced this week. As the photos demonstrate, a cat possessing red fluorescence protein, "RFP" glows in the dark when it is exposed to ultraviolet light.
The team, led by animal cloning expert Kong Il-keun, announced Wednesday that they had cloned the two RFP cats for the first time in the world. They say the advancement is significant, though South Korea's bio-engineering industry is still feeling the effects of a much-touted achievement by cloning expert Hwang Woo-Suk that turned out to be a fraud.
Hwang is now banned by the Korean government from any research using human eggs, after his claims last year to have created the first human stem cells through cloning were found to be untrue. He's now on trial, facing charges of Fraud and Embezzlement.
The scientists involved in this South Korean program created the glowing cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene. It is a procedure that could eventually lead to treatments for human genetic diseases according to researchers.
They say the glow in the dark aspect is a side effect that happens when the cloned cats are exposed to ultraviolet beams.
So far, Kong Il-keun's team of a cloning experts at Gyeongsang National University have produced three cats that possess altered fluorescence protein genes, the South Korean Ministry of Science and Technology reported.
The cats were born in January and February. One was stillborn, but two grew to become adult Turkish Angoras weighing about six and a half pounds. Ministry of Science and Technology officials say "It marked the first time in the world that cats with RFP genes have been cloned."
They say the new technology can also help in the development of stem cell treatments. Cats share more than 250 kinds of genetic diseases that affect humans.
The technology may also help clone endangered animals like tigers, leopards and wildcats.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

adorable

This is Julie with her reading class text book. She is so sweet (and well behaved - unlike a lot of her classmates).She always has some sort of flower clip in her hair. Yes, that is real fur that she is wearing.
She almost always comes late, sometimes more than an hour late. The reason - she sleeps in. For a child of 6 years old, that is a bad habit to start. She is not the only one, either. There are a few of them that always walk in late. Why don't their mothers get them up and ready for school? They are sleeping in themselves, are already out and about doing what ever it is that they do (many of the mothers in wealthier families don't work, but rather just 'play with their friends'), or they simply don't care.
How sad.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

moving in

This might give you some idea of the battle I've been slowly winning the last few weeks. These were taken the day I moved in.The front entry with fridge and shoe cupboard to left. That is the doorbell/door phone hanging on the right.The kitchen. The sink and table are out of view to the left. The sliding doors are to a small room (pretty much just the width of the doors) for the washing machine and gas panel. The door to the main room is behind me.The main room with the door to the kitchen behind me. That is the bathroom door ahead. Note the UGLY tape that is covering a 4" gap in the window left by the air conditioner hose. That was rather quicky changed (the tape was coming off in spots and a cold breeze was coming in, not to mention the fact that it is such UGLY tape).The main room. My bed is there under the mess. Instead of a closet, I have a clothing rack (seen right). :( Note the UGLY tape that is covering a gap left by the TV and Internet cable. Once again, that was quickly fixed.
I've done a lot of washing and scrubbing (starting with the fridge, of course), and still have a bit more to do. Everything that I could move (including the fridge) has been completely re-arranged since I took the pictures and I am gradually getting things put away. I do have a fairly big problem, though, in that this place has about half of the kitchen storage space that my last place had, and 100% less misc large thing storage space (my last place had the large balcony area in which I kept my fan, bags of shoes, etc when not in use). What to do...
Oh. To clarify something... in Korea when you move into a new place, unless it is brand new, it has most likely NOT been cleaned in a while. I don't think this place had been cleaned for a few months. And the kitchen was coated in a sticky orangy grime that took A LOT of scrubbing. Basically everything that was already here was coated in a layer of dust. And the bathroom. Well... some of the bathroom was the FIRST thing to be cleaned as soon as I got here, and of the rest of it followed fairly soon. I can't stand a dirty bathroom!

school food

I eat well at work. There is snack time in the morning from 9:30 'til 10, as the children finish arriving (well, most of them). The snack varies day to day. Some of the ones I can think of are:
yogurt: in the plastic cups - strawberry, green tea (SO GOOD!); drinkable in a little plastic tube (I normally freeze them to eat as frozen yogurt) - strawberry
muffins: some sort of bright yellow pumpkin muffin
rice cakes: made with sticky rice, soya sauce, honey, and a few other grain type things added
ddukboki: rice cake dish (made with a soy sauce base rather than the normal spicy red pepper base sauce)
fried baby potatoes
steamed sweet potatoes
Along with the snack, there is always either milk or juice. The kids all have a cup to use. The Korean helper does all of the work - dishes out the snack, pours the drinks, washes the dishes (there is a sink in the corner of every classroom). I have my helper of the day help her by handing the dishes and cups out.
Then lunch is eaten in the cafeteria on the 5th floor. My class eats lunch at 11:30. I think about 5 classes are in there at the same time. My Korean co-teacher sets the table for the kids while I have the kids washing their hands and getting ready. That way it is all ready for them to start eating by the time we get there. Lunch is usually typical Korean fare of rice, kimchi, some sort of soup, and a meat dish. Generally, and unfortunately for me, some sort of fish dish is involved. Every once in a while they have a totally different kind of lunch, such as spaghetti. Last Friday we had spaghetti and cream of mushroom soup. Not the best spaghetti I've had, but a nice break from the fishy dishes and kimchi. There is also a nice green salad for the teachers.
The afternoon break is during my super elite power class (I have the most advanced class, though they are still only 7 years old). That snack consists of juice and some snacky thing such as cookies, muffins, steamed pizza bread pocket thingies, yogurt, etc.
The afternoon snack juice is usually fairly interesting. They come in little individual sealed cups or foil packs with straws. So far, in two weeks, I haven't had the same kind twice. Today's juice was a mixture of several fruits and vegetables. I forget what all was in it. I've had apple-carrot juice, grapefruit juice, some sort of orange juice mixture, kiwi-celery juice, etc.

I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You

It's not at all new, but I love this song so much. When ever I hear it, I have to stop what ever I'm doing and listen. Simply beautiful. It is the theme song from the movie The Mask Of Zorro

I REALLY can't imagine it with any different singers. Apparently, Tina Arena was originally supposed to be singing with Ricky Martin. Then, because he became unavailable, Marc Anthony filled the spot. I'm glad he did.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Racism

Racism is one of the things that I dislike about Korea.

Why Korea Should Embrace Multi-Culturalism
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended on Aug. 17 that South Korea acknowledge it is now a multiethnic society and make laws against racial discrimination. UNCERD said unrealistic emphasis on and excessive pride in the ethnic homogeneity of Korea is no longer in the national interest. The recommendation was important news and marked a watershed in Korean society.
The Chosun Ilbo spoke via phone and e-mail to Anwar Kemal, the expert who served as country rapporteur for South Korea. He said Korea should avoid using racially discriminatory expressions like “pure blood” and “mixed blood.” The Pakistani diplomat was appointed to the four-year term of rapporteur this year.
Why did UNCERD urge Korea to legislate laws against racial discrimination several times in the report?
We recognize Korea’s efforts to eliminate racial discrimination, but more is needed. We want Korea to legislate an anti-racial discrimination law in line with the UN standard. The Korean parliament should define what racial discrimination is: that is the first thing to do to eliminate discrimination against alien workers, foreign spouses of Korean people and children from multi-ethnic families. The Korean Constitution doesn’t ban racial discrimination in detail.
How is South Korea doing compared to other countries?
Korea has achieved amazing economic growth for the past 40 years. However, it has not opened itself to foreign workers sufficiently compared to developed countries like the U.S., Germany and Britain. Among developed countries, Sweden is the country that has made the most remarkable achievement in removing racial discrimination. A female immigrant from Burundi, Nyamko Sabuni, is the minister for integration and gender equality in Sweden.
Koreans have identified themselves with the nation for a long time. In Korea, nationalism was a means for promoting social integration and resisting foreign invasions.
I know. But now Korea is an industrialized country. It is not a weak country facing threats from foreign forces. Also, nationalism in this day and age is not based on ethnic homogeneity. Take the example of Brazil and the U.S. They are multi-racial countries. But their people are very patriotic.
Why is it so important to avoid using discriminatory expressions like “pure blood” and “mixed blood”?
Many people find them insulting and those expressions are not scientific. A DNA research leader like Korea shouldn’t use such expressions. All people’s blood is the same.
Is it inevitable for Korea to become a multi-racial society?
Korea has the world’s lowest birthrate. It will see its population drastically decrease 10-20 years from now. The number of money earners will decrease, and instead the number of pension recipients and retirees will increase. Korea is already suffering from a serious shortage of manual workers. The nation’s economy will be hit hard by the lack of labor forces unless it accepts immigrant workers.
Which one is better, assimilating foreign workers for social integration or respecting their culture and accepting the coexistence of heterogeneous cultures?
All foreign workers should be encouraged to learn Korean. They also need to have an orientation about Korean culture, labor ethics and etiquette. But it is unwise to keep them from preserving their own culture. It does no harm when foreign workers preserve their culture. Rather, it can help social stability.
(englishnews@chosun.com )

more on the hijab in soccer debate

Team wrapped up in headscarf debate

Friday, December 07, 2007

When a Girl...

This is kinda cute. A friend of mine posted it on Facebook (a guy, actually).

When a GIRL is quiet ... millions of things are running in her mind.
When a GIRL is not arguing ... she is thinking deeply.
When a GIRL looks at u with eyes full of questions ... she is wondering how long you will be around.
When a GIRL answers " I'm fine " after a few seconds ... she is not at all fine.
When a GIRL stares at you ... she is wondering why you are lying.
When a GIRL lays on your chest ... she is wishing for you to be hers forever.
When a GIRL wants to see you everyday... she wants to be pampered.
When a GIRL says " I love you " ... she means it.
When a GIRL says " I miss you " ... no one in this world can miss you more than that.
Life only comes around once make sure u spend it with the right person ....
Find a guy ... who calls you beautiful instead of hot;
Who calls you back when you hang up on him.
Who will stay awake just to watch you sleep.
Wait for the guy ... who kisses your forehead.
Who wants to show you off to the world when you are in your sweats.
Who holds your hand in front of his friends.
Who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares about you and how lucky he is to have you.
Who turns to his friends and says, " That's her!! "

ban on hijab

This is ridiculous.

Temporary hijab ban sidelines Edmonton soccer team
Last Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2007 12:04 PM MT CBC News
A Muslim female soccer team in Edmonton has had to postpone all their games until the Alberta Soccer Association makes a final decision on players wearing headscarves on the field.
Half the girls on the Al-Ikhwat team wear a hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim females in keeping with their belief of dressing modestly.
The provincial association has temporarily banned players from wearing hijabs on the pitch after a referee asked a 14-year-old girl to leave a game in Calgary last month. He said her headscarf posed a safety risk.
The Alberta Soccer Association follows international rules that forbid all headgear, including sweatbands, but said it will review safety issues before making a final ruling on hijabs.
Amereen Chowdhury, a Grade 12 student who's played with the team for a year and a half wearing her hijab, says it's not dangerous.
"Talk to us directly. Ask us what it's like so we can show then that it's not a dangerous issue. Our hijabs don't have pins in it and they are tucked into our jersey," she told CBC News.
"This is basically a lack of knowledge on their behalf because they don't know how it's like to run or to exercise or to be physically active with a hijab on."
The team plays in the Edmonton and District Soccer Association's indoor league. Mike Thorne, the group's executive director, said women wearing hijabs have been playing in Edmonton for more than seven years without any problems.
The EDSA is disappointed the team has been sidelined, Thome said.
"We feel a great deal of remorse over accepting this team into our program and having their expectations shot down by Alberta Soccer, and we hope this ruling will get reversed and they can go back to playing the game they love."
The earliest Alberta soccer officials are expected to meet on the hijab issue is mid-December.
Soccer associations in B.C. and Ontario have made exceptions for hijabs while Quebec has banned it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

statcounter

Odd. For some reason, my IP address keeps showing up as being in Gujarat, Ahmedabad, India.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

cold

Kinda glad I'm not there! :P I just hope that Korea doesn't get the same effects from La Nina!

Coldest winter in years, Environment Canada warns
Updated Fri. Nov. 30 2007 1:00 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff
The weather phenomenon La Nina will bring Canada the coldest winter in nearly 15 years, Environment Canada warned Friday.
Environment Canada's temperature forecast shows the majority of the country will experience a "temperature anomaly" of below-normal temperatures through the months of December, January and February.
Much of Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of British Columbia and southern Ontario will also see above-normal precipitation.
David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, told The Canadian Press that the temperature and precipitation abnormalities are likely the result of the weather phenomenon La Nina.
La Nina, meaning the little girl, is the appearance of cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean.
"La Nina is thought to occur due to increases in the strength of the normal patterns of trade wind circulation," Environment Canada's website says.
"For reasons not yet fully understood, periodically these trade winds are strengthened, increasing the amount of cooler water."
These cooler waters result in wetter-than-normal conditions in the northern hemisphere and changes to the jet stream over North America.
"The shifted jet stream contributes to large departures from the normal location and strength of storm paths. The overall changes in the atmosphere result in temperature and precipitation anomalies over North America which can persist for several months," Environment Canada says.
In the past, La Nina caused drought and floods around the world. It also whips up more hurricanes in the Atlantic.
The effects of the weather phenomenon have already been felt in parts of Western Canada. Earlier this month, a fierce storm dumped nearly 80 centimetres of snow on Whistler, B.C. over 48 hours. The massive snowfall prompted management at the famous Whistler Blackcomb ski hill to open one week ahead of schedule.
With files from The Canadian Press

abaya

This was a gift from Egypt. Revo's dad is actually the one that picked it out!

working the nightshift a carcinogen?

This is a scary thought. I know so many people that are working (or have for long periods of time) graveyard shifts. As a traveler, I know that messing with sleep patterns really screws up the system.
Check out the official ACS (American Cancer Society) list of known and probably carcinogens (link also listed at the bottom of the article). It is kinda scary! Some of the things listed are things that you wouldn't even consider: mineral oils, wood dust, Chinese style salted fish!!!

Graveyard shift soon to be listed as 'probable' cause of cancer
Thu Nov 29, 8:03 PM By Maria Cheng, The Associated Press
LONDON - Like UV rays and diesel exhaust fumes, working the graveyard shift will soon be listed as a "probable" cause of cancer.
It is a surprising step validating a concept once considered wacky. And it is based on research that finds higher rates of breast and prostate cancer among women and men whose work day starts after dark.
Next month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, will add overnight shift work as a probable carcinogen.
The higher cancer rates don't prove working overnight can cause cancer. There may be other factors common among graveyard shift workers that raise their risk for cancer.
However, scientists suspect that overnight work is dangerous because it disrupts the circadian rhythm, the body's biological clock. The hormone melatonin, which can suppress tumour development, is normally produced at night.
If the graveyard shift theory eventually proves correct, millions of people worldwide could be affected. Experts estimate that nearly 20 per cent of the working population in developed countries work night shifts.
Among the first to spot the night shift-cancer connection was Richard Stevens, a cancer epidemiologist and professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center. In 1987, Stevens published a paper suggesting a link between light at night and breast cancer.
Back then, he was trying to figure out why breast cancer incidence suddenly shot up starting in the 1930s in industrialized societies, where nighttime work was considered a hallmark of progress. Most scientists were bewildered by his proposal.
But in recent years, several studies have found that women working at night over many years were indeed more prone to breast cancer. Also, animals that have their light-dark schedules switched develop more cancerous tumours and die earlier.
Some research also suggests that men working at night may have a higher rate of prostate cancer.
Because these studies mostly focused on nurses and airline crews, bigger studies in different populations are needed to confirm or disprove the findings.
There are still plenty of skeptics. And to put the risk in perspective, the "probable carcinogen" tag means that the link between overnight work and cancer is merely plausible.
Among the long list of agents that are listed as "known" carcinogens are alcoholic beverages and birth control pills. Such lists say nothing about exposure amount or length of time or how likely they are to cause cancer.
The American Cancer Society website notes that carcinogens do not always cause cancer. The cancer society doesn't make its own assessments of possible cancer-causing agents, but relies on analyses by the IARC and a U.S. agency.
Still, many doubters of the night shift link may be won over by the IARC's analysis to be published in the December issue of the journal Lancet Oncology.
"The indications are positive," said Vincent Cogliano, who heads up the agency's carcinogen classifications unit. "There was enough of a pattern in people who do shift work to recognize that there's an increase in cancer, but we can't rule out the possibility of other factors."
Scientists believe having lower melatonin levels can raise the risk of developing cancer. Light shuts down melatonin production, so people working in artificial light at night may have lower melatonin levels.
Melatonin can be taken as a supplement, but experts don't recommend it long-term, since that could ruin the body's ability to produce it naturally.
Sleep deprivation may be another factor in cancer risk. People who work at night are not usually able to completely reverse their day and night cycles.
"Night shift people tend to be day shift people who are trying to stay awake at night," said Mark Rea, director of the Light Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, who is not connected with the IARC analysis.
Not getting enough sleep makes your immune system vulnerable to attack, and less able to fight off potentially cancerous cells.
Confusing your body's natural rhythm can also lead to a breakdown of other essential tasks. "Timing is very important," Rea said. Certain processes like cell division and DNA repair happen at regular times.
Even worse than working an overnight shift is flipping between daytime and overnight work.
"The problem is re-setting your body's clock," said Aaron Blair, of the United States' National Cancer Institute, who chaired IARC's recent meeting on shift work. "If you worked at night and stayed on it, that would be less disruptive than constantly changing shifts."
Anyone whose light and dark schedule is often disrupted - including frequent long-haul travellers or insomniacs - could theoretically face the same increased cancer risk, Stevens said.
He advises workers to sleep in a darkened room once they get off work. "The balance between light and dark is very important for your body. Just get a dark night's sleep."
Meanwhile, scientists are trying to come up with ways to reduce night workers' cancer risk. And some companies are experimenting with different lighting, seeking a type that doesn't affect melatonin production.
So far, the colour that seems to have the least effect on melatonin is one that few people would enjoy working under: red.
-
List of known and probable carcinogens from IARC and National Toxicology Program listed on American Cancer Society website: http://tinyurl.com/2kl5ab
International Agency for Research on Cancer: http://www.iarc.fr/

Saturday, December 01, 2007

death by cell phone update

A Death-By-Cell-Phone Story Falls Apart
By Patrick J. Lyons
Ever been so annoyed at some boor yakking too loud and too long on his cellphone that you find yourself wishing the accursed thing would just blow up in his hand? (Or have you ever had someone wish that on you?) Then consider this strange tale.
The technology press was alive yesterday with this news out of South Korea, as reported by the English-language Korea Times:
A 33-year-old excavator driver was found dead on Wednesday in Cheongwon, North Chungcheong Province, after a suspected cell phone battery explosion, police said.
The man, identified only with his surname Seo, was found lying dead beside his excavator in a stone quarry in Cheongwon at 8:40 a.m. by his colleagues. His cell phone was found in his shirt pocket with its battery severely melted and his chest burned and fractured, the police said.
What a nightmare-in-everyday-life scenario it was — a constant companion and helpmate that suddenly turns into a live grenade. And plausible too: the overheating problem with lithium batteries may be rare, but it is widely known (another case of one catching fire while being charged on a nightstand turned up just a day later in New Zealand).
But the morbid fascination that the technology press would naturally have with the story out of South Korea was quickly laced with notes of puzzlement, bordering on skepticism — a feeling that investigators evidently shared: The reported injuries didn’t seem to quite match the supposed cause. From Information Week:
Police want to know why a 33-year-old quarry worker was found with broken bones, heart damage, and a melted cell phone in his left chest pocket.
The manufacturer, which turned out to be LG, wanted to know that, too. A company representative told the Korea Times that a foil coating on the battery would make it melt, not explode, if it overheated, and the man’s phone indeed looked merely to have melted.
It isn’t out of the question that an exploding cell phone could cave in someone’s ribs — it apparently happened to a welder in China in June, Information Week reported. But the high temperatures he was exposed to were thought to be to blame, not any fault in the phone, and the Korean quarry worker was working outdoors in the winter cold. How could it have killed him?
All that skepticism now appears to have been well warranted. Today, the police arrested a coworker of the dead man and charged him with manslaughter. They say he has confessed to accidentally killing Mr. Seo by backing into him with a drilling vehicle, and then trying to frame the cell phone.
It’s hardly consolation for Mr. Seo’s family, of course, but it is no doubt a relief for LG stockholders, not to mention a bit of a black eye for the all the news outlets that seized a little too eagerly on the initial story line. As the Korea Times noted today in a rueful editorial:
We have often seen cases of fierce competition for media coverage causing irresponsible reporting not based on facts but on rumors, speculation and unconfirmed sources. [ … ] Reporters, editors and publishers are struggling to meet both timeliness and accuracy. They try not to sacrifice one thing for the other. But, it is not easy for them to do both at the same time in a highly competitive environment.
Media outlets should learn a lesson from the cell phone case. They must be careful not to repeat the mistake of false reporting, which might cause irrevocable damage to businesses, the public, the government, or the country.
[The LEDE Blog New York Times]

BUT

Cell Phone Battery Explodes in the Night
James Niccolai, IDG News Service Thursday, November 29, 2007 7:00 AM PST
A New Zealand man was woken in the middle of the night when his cell phone battery exploded and burst into flames, the second exploding battery incident reported this week.
Norman Sievewright said he was asleep in bed about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday when he woke to a loud bang and found his cell phone battery in flames on the carpet. The phone had been charging while he was asleep.
"It was very scary ... especially the fumes and stuff. The back has been blown off the phone," he told New Zealand's TVONE television news channel.
The phone was made by Nokia, which asked Sievewright to turn over the battery and charger so it can investigate. Until it has done so, "it would be inappropriate to speculate," a Nokia spokeswoman said via email.
In August Nokia issued an advisory about faulty batteries in some of its phones. It said 46 million Nokia-branded BL-5C batteries were vulnerable to a short circuit that could cause them to overheat while recharging, and offered to replace them for customers who are concerned.
Nokia did not issue a recall and said incidents had occurred with only a tiny fraction of phones -- 100 out of the 46 million. The batteries were manufactured by Japan's Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. Ltd. and sold in a wide range of Nokia devices.
Nokia said it didn't know yet what type of battery was inside the phone in New Zealand, and attempts to contact Sievewright Thursday were unsuccessful.
Also Wednesday, police in South Korea said a worker may have died because his cell phone battery exploded in his pocket, the Associated Press reported. The man was found dead at his workplace in a quarry with a melted cell phone battery in his shirt pocket, according to the report.
The doctor who examined the man said the pressure caused by the explosion may have "damaged his heart and lungs" and led to his death, according to the AP, which quoted a local news agency. That phone was made by LG Electronics, reports said.
With close to 300 million cell phones sold in the world last quarter, such battery explosions are considered extremely rare.

Friday, November 30, 2007

a tree

This tree was in the Royal Palace/Silver Pagoda area in Phnom Penh. It is such a cool tree! It is a Shorea Robusta Roxb, which is also known as a cannonball tree or Sal tree.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

exploding cell phones?

I'm glad that I haven't heard about things like this before, as it means it is a VERY rare occurrence.

Exploding mobile battery suspected in S Korea fatality
By Lester Haines Published Wednesday 28th November 2007 16:30 GMT
A South Korean man was this morning found dead at work, apparently killed by an exploding mobile phone battery, AP reports.
The victim, identified only by his surname Suh, was discovered at a quarry in Cheongwon, 135 kilometres (85 miles) south of Seoul with "his mobile phone battery... melted in his shirt pocket", according to a police official. The unnamed official added: "We presume that the cell phone battery exploded."
Doctor Kim Hoon, who examined the body, explained: "He sustained an injury that is similar to a burn in the left chest and his ribs and spine were broken. It is presumed that pressure caused by the explosion damaged his heart and lungs, leading to his death."
Police said the mobile in question was made by LG. A company official confirmed this, adding that LG "would not comment directly on the incident because the cause was not confirmed". He did, however, describe such an explosion as "virtually impossible". ®

Apparently computers are burning and exploding, too, though the computer problem seems to be a bit more common.

Dell laptop explodes 'like fireworks'
Another Dell laptop has burst unexpectedly into flames. This one, an Inspiron 9200, spontaneously combusted this week in Columbus, Ohio. The blaze was caught on camera.
According to a report on website ConsumerAffairs.com, the laptop went up "like fireworks", its owner, Douglas Brown, claimed. Brown called the emergency services then grabbed his camera and took a few snaps of the infernal Inspiron:
What's not yet clear is whether Brown's laptop is one of those covered by the major battery replacement programme Dell put in place a year ago. Certainly, some Inspiron 9200s were included. If Brown's machine was, it doesn't appear from the ConsumerAffairs.com story that he had returned his original battery to Dell.
If he had - or if his 9200 was not one of those covered by the recall - it raises the possibility that a lot more laptops are going to have to have their batteries checked. Given recent claims made by Japanese boffins that the design of lithium-ion power cells is inherently "flawed", perhaps they should be in any case.
Thanks to Register Hardware reader Emanuel for the tip

Georgia Man's Dell Laptop Bursts into Flames
Latest in a series of laptop fires
By Truman LewisConsumerAffairs.Com August 24, 2007
A computer network administrator at a Columbus, Georgia, hospital is the latest consumer to encounter the flaming laptop syndrome.
Douglas Brown said his Dell 9200 wide-screen laptop's batteries exploded into flames, it "looked like fireworks which would have been cool had it not been in my house."
Brown called 911 and the fire department responded with two pumpers, a ladder truck, the HAZMAT unit, an ambulance and the battalion chief.
"Way too much manpower for one little laptop," he said, but "I guess it sounded like it was more then it really was" to the 911 dispatcher.
It's the latest in a series of fires and meltdowns involving the lithium-ion batteries used in laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices.
Last year, a man in South Venice, Fla. blamed his Dell laptop for burning down his house. Earlier this year, a Macbook was blamed for a house fire in Australia.
In one of the most celebrated cases, a Dell laptop was blamed for setting fire to a pickup truck parked in a remote mountainous area in Nevada last August. The fire not only destroyed the truck but set off a box of ammunition its outdoorsman owner had left in the glove compartment while he went fishing.
Dell and other computer makers have recalled millions of batteries. It could not immediately be determined whether Brown's laptop was among the recalled units.
Brown said he called Dell and spoke with a representative named Cory who was "very nice and professional" but who then transferred him to someone who was not.
Brown said he asked the next service rep "who was going to pay for the damages to my house and the HAZMAT bill and (she) asked me if I had insurance.
"I would have thought Dell would have had a better answer then that," Brown said. "After all the fire was caused by their computer."
Brown said the laptop is now sitting the middle of his driveway.

If you check the link to the last one, it has a huge list of links related to laptop fires and explosions. From houses burning down to cars burning up, all due to laptop fires.

in jail for naming a teddy bear!

This is nuts!

'Muhammad' teddy teacher arrested
A British school teacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, said she made an "innocent mistake" by letting the six and seven-year-olds choose the name.
Ms Gibbons was arrested after several parents made complaints.
The BBC has learned the charge could lead to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine.
Officials from the British embassy in Khartoum are expected to visit Ms Gibbons in custody.
"We are in contact with the authorities here and they have visited the teacher and she is in a good condition," an embassy spokesman said.
The spokesman said the naming of the teddy happened months ago and was chosen by the children because it is a common name in the country.
"This happened in September and the parents did not have a problem with it," he said.
'Very sensitive'
The school has been closed until January for fear of reprisals.
Fellow teachers at Khartoum's Unity High School told Reuters news agency they feared for Ms Gibbons' safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held.
The school's director, Robert Boulos, said: "This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety.
"This was a completely innocent mistake. Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."
Mr Boulos said Ms Gibbons was following a British national curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals and this year's topic was the bear.
Ms Gibbons, who joined the school in August, asked a seven-year-old girl to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it, he said.
"They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad," Mr Boulos said, adding that she then had the children vote on a name.
Twenty out of the 23 children chose Muhammad as their favourite name.
Mr Boulos said each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it.
He said the children's entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, "My name is Muhammad."
Book seized
The bear itself was not marked or labelled with the name in any way, he added.
It is seen as an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Muhammad.
Mr Boulos said Ms Gibbons was arrested on Sunday at her home inside the school premises after a number of parents complained to Sudan's Ministry of Education.
He said police had seized the book and asked to interview the girl who owned the bear.
The country's state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre reported that charges were being prepared "under article 125 of the criminal law" which covers insults against faith and religion.
No-one at the ministries of education or justice was available for comment.
Mr Boulos told the BBC he was confident she would not face a jail sentence.
One Muslim teacher at the independent school for Christian and Muslim children, who has a child in Ms Gibbons' class, said she had not found the project offensive.
"I know Gillian and she would never have meant it as an insult. I was just impressed that she got them to vote," the teacher said.
In Liverpool, a family spokeswoman said Ms Gibbons' grown children, John and Jessica - both believed to be in their 20s - were not commenting on her arrest.
"I have spoken with her children and they do not want to say anything and aggravate the situation over there," she said.
Rick Widdowson the headteacher of Garston Church of England Primary School, where Gillian worked for ten years, added: "We are an Anglican school and I know for a fact that Gillian would not do anything to offend followers of any faith.
"Certainly she is also very worldly wise and she is obviously aware of the sensitivities around Islam."
Cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad printed in several European newspapers sparked violent protests around the world in 2006.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Surgents

Check it out. It is definitely worth a listen. The Surgents were Band of the Month for October on Edmonton's Sonic Radio.

One of the members, Dr. Octavo (a.k.a. Tomas - best friend's brother-in-law) is also the producer. Octavo Productions is an independent music studio based in Edmonton, Canada.
It is more than likely that you have heard some Dr. Octavo's work, as some of it has been on the charts, on the radio, in the movies and so on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

new home, new job

Saturday was such a long day. As my flight was delayed, I didn't arrive in Korea until 9 AM after only about 2 hours of sleep (I don't sleep well on planes). As soon as I got to my friends home a couple of hours later, I had to rush to get my stuff together, as the mover arrived at 12. The mover that my school usually uses is a 73 year old man. He was carrying 3 boxes at a time on his back. He was so tired by the time the truck was loaded (yes, I did help as much as he would let me). Then once at my new place the assistant manager of my school was there with my key and helped unload the truck. It is surprising how much stuff one can acquire over a couple of years. When it is all put away, it doesn't look like much, but when it is all in boxes and bags in the open, it looks like a ridiculous amount of stuff.
My new home is basically 2 rooms. Going in the door, you enter the front hall and kitchen area (kitchen sink and stove to the right). A sliding door is on the same wall as the entry door and goes into a little closet-ish area where the gas heater and washing machine are. Straight ahead from the entry door is another door which leads to the main room with the bed, dresser and standing clothes rack (no closet, unfortunately). The bathroom door is to the far left. It isn't the smallest home I've had here but it definitely isn't the largest. It is SO dirty! I think who ever lived there last wasn't so clean, and no one has lived there in a month or so. Dust has built up everywhere and there is sort of a layer of scum on a lot of things (especially in the kitchen). From the time I arrived at my new home, I've been scrubbing and cleaning. My hands are so sore from all of the scrubbing! I'm no where near being finished, either. :S
I haven't started unpacking anything. I don't want to put my things away in dirty drawers and cupboards!
My home is less than 10 minutes walk from my school. The area is great. Coffee shops and such EVERYWHERE!! There is a huge Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf right beside my school. Dangerous, actually! ;)
Yesterday was my first day of work, but this whole week is just observation. Not so fun. Sitting watching other people teach is not all that entertaining after the first hour or so. I'd rather just teach.
My work day is 9 to 4:30. Not bad.
The kindergarten runs 9:30 to 2:30. My kindy class is the Rose class, with around 18 students, all 5/6 years old (Korean 7 years old). So far it seems very easy. There are 2 English teachers for each class; one native speaker (foreigner) and one Korean English speaker; as well as one Korean teacher/helper. While one teaches, the other has prep time/ break time. Sweet! The entire day is set up in 30 minute blocks.
9:30 - 10: snack/play time. The Korean helper sets everything up for snack and lunch.
10 - 10:30: Circle Time, which seems to be a combination of reading and phonics (there is a book for it). (2 English teachers alternate every other day)
After that the order and content of the blocks changes around a bit. For Monday it was:
10:30 - 11: Art (Break time for me)
11 - 11:30: Phonics
11:30 - 12: Lunch time. We take the kids down to the cafeteria and each class has one long table. Korean food is served to the kids in trays. We help ourselves to what we want of the Korean food. They also have salad for the teachers (I am told that it was a huge ordeal to get this).
12 - 12:30: Theme English. To do with what ever the theme is that week/month. Could be anything from catching up with other book work or learning songs. My kids are learning the song, "All I want for Christmas". Yes, the full song, not a short children's version.
12:30 - 1: Language Practice. (Break time for me)
1 - 1:30: Math. (Break time for me)
1:30 - 2: Phonics. (Break time for me)
2 - 2:30: Reading
Then the kids get ready to go and we take them down to catch the bus.
From 3 until 4:25 I then teach their Super Elite Power Class, which is a group of 8 students, all 6/7 years old, who have been coming to this school since they were 3/4 years old. Their English is excellent. I teach them reading, writing, grammar, etc. Earlier this month they finished reading a short novel (something like Elmer and the Dragon) and wrote a 2 page book report on it. It is very organized, as the program is standardized - all of the schools have the same programs. Makes things fairly easy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

fighting Net addiction in Korea

I think I've mentioned the Korean obsession with the Internet before time and again.Learning curve ... the Jump Up Internet Rescue School.
Photo: Seokyong Lee

In Korea, a boot camp cure for web obsession
Martin Fackler November 26, 2007
MOKCHEON, South Korea - the compound, part boot camp, part rehab centre - resembles programs around the world for troubled youths. Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counsellors lead group sessions and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming.
But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly affliction: cyberspace addiction.
They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea, to be cured.
South Korea is one of the most wired nations on earth. Perhaps no other country has so fully embraced the internet. Ninety per cent of homes connect to cheap, high-speed broadband, online gaming is a professional sport and social life for the young revolves around the "PC bang", dim internet parlours that sit on almost every street corner.
But such ready access comes at a price as legions of obsessed users find that they cannot tear themselves away from their computer screens.
Compulsive internet use has been identified as a mental health issue in other countries, including the United States.
It is a national issue in South Korea where, in recent years, some users have died from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. Increasingly, students are skipping school to stay online, behaviour that is considered shocking in this intensely competitive society.
Up to 30 per cent of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are at risk of internet addiction, says Ahn Dong-hyun, a child psychiatrist at Hanyang University in Seoul, who has just completed a three-year government-funded survey of the problem.
They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to 250,000 probably show signs of actual addiction, such as an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online and withdrawal symptoms such as anger and craving when prevented from logging on.
To address the problem the government has built a network of 140 internet-addiction counselling centres, in addition to treatment programs at almost 100 hospitals and, most recently, the Internet Rescue camp.
Researchers have developed a checklist for diagnosing the addiction and determining its severity, the K-Scale (the K is for Korea).

In September, South Korea held the first international symposium on internet addiction.
"Korea has been most aggressive in embracing the internet," says Koh Young-sam, head of the government-run Internet Addiction Counselling Centre. "Now we have to lead in dealing with its consequences."
Some health experts question whether internet or computer overuse is an addiction in the strict medical sense but many agree such obsessions are a growing problem in many countries.
Doctors in China and Taiwan report similar disorders among their youth. Dr Jerald J. Block, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University, estimates up to 9 million Americans may be at risk of a disorder which he calls pathological computer use. However, in the US only a handful of clinics specialises in treating it.
"Korea is on the leading edge," Block says. "They are ahead in defining and researching the problem and recognise as a society that they have a major issue."
The rescue camp, in a forested area about an hour south of Seoul, treats the most severe cases. The camp held its first two 12-day sessions this earlier year, each with 16 to 18 male participants. (South Korean researchers say an overwhelming majority of compulsive computer users are male.)
The camp is government funded and attendance is free. It is too early to determine how effective it will be but demand is high with up to five applications for each spot. Administrators plan to double the number of sessions next year.
The participants, who live at the camp, are denied computer use and allowed only an hour of mobile phone calls a day, to prevent them from playing online games via the phone. They follow a rigorous regimen of physical exercise and group activities, such as horseback riding, aimed at building emotional connections to the real world and weakening those with the virtual one.
"It is most important to provide them experience of a lifestyle without the internet," says Lee Yun-hee, a counsellor. "Young Koreans don't know what this is like."
Initially, campers were found sneaking off to go online but are now under constant surveillance - even while asleep - and are kept busy with chores, such as washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms.
One participant, Lee Chang-hoon, 15, began using the computer to pass the time while his parents were working and he was home alone. He says he quickly came to prefer the virtual world, where he seemed to enjoy more success and popularity than in the real one.
He spent 17 hours a day online, mostly looking at Japanese comics and playing a combat role-playing game called Sudden Attack. He played all night and skipped school two or three times a week to catch up on sleep.
When his parents told him he had to go to school, he reacted violently.
"He didn't seem to be able to control himself," says his mother, Kim Soon-yeol, a hairdresser. "He used to be so passionate about his favourite subjects [at school]. Now, he gives up easily and gets even more absorbed in his games."
Her son was at first reluctant to give up his pastime.
"I don't have a problem," Chang-hoon says three days after starting the camp. "Seventeen hours a day online is fine." But later that day, he seems to start changing his mind, if only slightly.
As a drill instructor barks orders, Chang-hoon and 17 other boys march through a cold autumn rain to the obstacle course. Wet and shivering, Chang-hoon climbs the first obstacle, a telephone pole with small metal rungs. At the top, he slowly stands up, legs quaking, arms outstretched for balance. Below, the other boys hold a safety rope attached to a harness on his chest.
"Do you have anything to tell your mother?" the drill instructor shouts from below.
"No!" he yells.
"Tell your mother you love her!" orders the instructor.
"I love you, my parents!" he says.
"Then jump!" orders the instructor. Chang-hoon squats and leaps to a nearby trapeze, catching it in his hands.
After Chang-hoon descends , he says, "That was better than games!"
Was it thrilling enough to wean him from the internet?
"I'm not thinking about games now, so maybe this will help," he says. "From now on, maybe I'll just spend five hours a day online."
The New York Times

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Got It!

Finally got my VISA sorted out and picked my passport up this afternoon.
Yay!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

frustrated... again.

The Korean embassy here in Cambodia really sucks. When you phone them, they will answer your questions. But when you actually go there, the answers that they gave you on the phone were not true. They will say it is easy to get the VISA and all you need it the VISA issuance number. But no. They actually want the official blue document from the Immigration Office in Korea. They will then say that it only takes a couple of days to process the VISA. But no. Then they say it will take more than a week. WHAT?
STRESS!!!
My school sent the document with FedEx. It was supposed to arrive at my hotel here in Phnom Penh on the 16th, and I would be here on the 19th to pick it up and go to the embassy. I arrived here and the hotel said the document didn't come. Several people there said it didn't come (it's a very small hotel with not many people... I think almost all from one family). I talked to my school, they contacted FedEx, who said that the document was delivered to my hotel on the 15th! So back to the hotel to ask again. It turns out it was delivered, but the woman that signed for it locked it under the counter and forgot who it was for and then forgot about it. She also didn't tell anyone else that it had arrived. SHE is the first one that told me that it had not arrived! So one more day wasted.
Then, document in hand, I went to the embassy and applied. Fine. No problem. BUT, the date that the woman wrote on the receipt as to when I could pick it up was the 28th! More than a week! I told her I have to fly out on Friday. I have to phone today to see if they can rush it. ARGH!
This weekend is a huge All of the hotels are booked for the weekend, and everyone is busy getting ready for the boat races and other such festivities.
So this week is a write off. I should have just come here for the 15 day flight sale that the airline was offering and then gone to Japan for the over night VISA run. It would have cost the same, I would have been able to see more here, and wouldn't have all of this crap to deal with. Who knew?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

silk

Yesterday morning I went to a silk factory. Very interesting.
They show the entire process from the eggs of the silk worms all the way through to the end product.At first, the worms are white. They eat mulberry leaves.Once they get big enough, they stop eating and turn a yellow color.They are then placed on either dried branches (traditional method) or a basket (modern method), where they spin their cocoons. Both the branches and baskets are still used, only the basket makes collecting the cocoons much easier. Cambodian silk worm silk is naturally yellow.
Once the cocoons are fully made, they are collected and then processed. Two kinds of silk come from each cocoon. The outer silk threads are thicker and rougher.The cocoons are placed in boiling water and unwound (I forget how many are used for each thread).Then the inner silk threads are unwound. You can see the difference in the silk texture if you look at the spindles. The silk is then bleached and colored using either natural or chemical dyes. The natural dyes are made using a variety of things such as leaves, bark, rusty nails, etc.The combinations are interesting, and looking at the raw materials for the dyes, the resulting colors are sometimes surprising.
Some silk is dyed using the tie dye method, dying the threads with the pattern before weaving. It is a quite complicated and time consuming process.The threads are laid out and tied in spots, dyed, re-tied, dyed, etc. according to the colors of the pattern. Once dyed, the threads have to be woven in the correct order.
The weaving is mostly done manually.The threads are threaded by hand into slots in the loom. As the threads are so fine, good eyesight is a must, so only younger adults (18-25?) do this job.Once threaded, the weaving can begin. The time taken for each item depends on the complexity of the pattern. Some are done fairly quickly, some take up to a day or more for just 1' of material. The more complex the pattern, the more poles/bars (?) are needed in the loom.Newer looms are very basic and plain. Traditionally, they were very ornate.

time flies!

I've been in Siem Reap for more than a week now. I was so busy that I lost track of which temples I went to which days and such. I will have to try to figure out which pictures were from which temple! That will take a while. I'll have to go on the net, I think to find better descriptions of the temples to help. And I'll ask my driver, of course, as he has a better idea of where we went, I think.
Yesterday I went to a silk farm, the War Museum and then had lunch. After lunch, I went to the Killing Field (just a memorial full of bones), but started to feel sick. Back to the hotel I was then VERY sick the rest of the day. sleeping, throwing up, sleeping, throwing up. I went out around 9:30pm as I was starting to feel slightly better. I needed something more than just water. I had a coffee cream ice shake (sort of a coffee flavored cream slush) at Bubble T and then sat at a Net Cafe for a while. I was going to head back to Phnom Penh today but as I was sick all day yesterday, hadn't arranged anything. So tonight I will go to another wedding party with my Cambodian friends and I'll go to Phnom Penh tomorrow.
Unfortunately I don't have time now to go to Battambang as I had originally planned (my original plan was to only spend about 1 week here and then a couple of days there before going back to Phnom Penh). Oh well. I'm getting to see more than just the tourist side of life in Cambodia, which, to me, is more than a fair trade off.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cambodian Soup

One evening I went out for dinner with Be (my driver) to a Cambodian soup restaurant.The broth is boiled and then you add all of the stuff to itvegetables, meat (beef and egg, misc. beef parts - stomach, tongue, etc), garlic and something else, pork rind, mushrooms, noodles.
It was very good (although I couldn't make myself try the misc meat bits in it).