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Ivan Nova–Good News, Bad News

The good news is that young Mr. Nova picked up his first major league victory as the winning pitcher in the Yanks’ 2-1 win over the White Sox on Sunday. He pitched really well, going 5 2/3 innings, giving up only one run and striking out 7. He’s been good enough (actually, he’s been VERY good) to get another starting assignment, probably next weekend against Toronto. Congrats, Ivan!!

However, in bad news, he and minor-league teammate Wilkin de la Rosa (another Dominican student that I taught) are being investigated by Major League Baseball for injecting B12 while they were together in the minors. B12 is not a banned substance, but anytime you hear about players injecting anything, then suspicions are raised as to whether that was all they were injecting. Hopefully, this story will amount to nothing. Here’s a New York Post article about it. More later.

Kompasu Update

Kompasu is now a category 2 typhoon, packing winds of around 105 mph and bearing down for a direct hit on Okinawa. For updates on what’s happening there, read Dave Ornauer’s Pacific Storm Tracker blog on Stars and Stripes magazine.

Weather Underground is forecasting that it’ll become a cat 3 storm before weakening back to cat 2 while slamming into the west coast of Korea on Thursday morning. Right now, the predicted track has Kompasu coming ashore near Seoul, so Yeosu doesn’t appear to be likely to take the full brunt of the typhoon, though we’ll probably get more than enough rain from it. Stay tuned for more updates as the situation develops.

Tropical Storm Kompasu

Kompasu, the Japanese word for the southern sky constellation Circinus (the Compass), is headed for Korea and might arrive here Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. According to latest estimates on the Weather Underground site, Kompasu will probably be a category 1 typhoon by that time. It’s also estimated that it will track somewhat north of Yeosu, but, of course, these storms are quite unpredictable, so we could end up in the bullseye. More later as things develop.

HDR Photos

The rainy season was supposed to have ended a while back, but it seems to have been extended into this week, one of my vacation weeks. We had a couple of inches of rain a few days ago, an inch and a half today, and anywhere from 2-4 inches forecast for tomorrow through Sunday noon. Sheesh.

There was a bit of a break yesterday, though, so I went to the Jongpo Ocean Park walkway to take some photos and process them using a technique known as high dynamic range (HDR). In short, HDR photography attempts to capture the full range of all the dark areas and all the very light areas that might not be normally possible in a standard digital photo. For example, a darkly shaded area on a sunny day might not be able to capture all the detail in the shadows and might overexpose the brightly lit areas. In HDR photography, several shots are taken, and some of them are intentionally underexposed, some are overexposed and one is taken at normal exposure. Special software lets you combine these different exposures into one, with the result being that detail can be seen in the shadows and the bright areas aren’t overexposed, or “blown out.” That’s the simple explanation.

Yesterday was one of those days where we had some bright sunshine and dark clouds present in the late afternoon hours, usually one of the best shooting times of the day. I took a bunch of HDR photos and processed them. Some of the results are below. Unfortunately, I didn’t use my tripod, so they’re not the crispest of shots. Still, they give some sense of the potential of this type of photography. One result of this style is that you can use the software to give some very surreal (some would say unreal) shots. I think artistic is a better word, one that is best applied to results from photographers that are more familiar with this style than me. Still, here are a few of my first attempts.

Here’s the original photo of the new bridge spanning Dolson Island with the mainland. (Hmmm, is it my imagination or are the two spans off a foot or two from hooking up exactly?)

Here’s the HDR shot.

I’ve got a lot more detail in the hill to the right and better coloring in the large cloud in the middle, as well as in other areas. (Click the photos, of course, for larger shots.)

Here’s another one of the two spans. In the original, the foreground boats lack much detail or color. Here, they’re much more vibrant.

Ok, now for the more “artsy” stuff. In this one, the apartment buildings on the hill were very dark in the normally exposed shot and the red Hamel Light was merely a colorless silhouette, due to the brilliance of the sky. Here, I’m able to draw out their details while simultaneously bringing out detail in the clouds.

This one’s even more surreal.

Finally, here’s a shot of the walkway itself, sort of a “study in blue.” For this shot and the above two, definitely click for the larger photos.

I’ll be posting more of these types of shots from time to time, as the situation merits. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think. More later.

Korean Culture Deadly to Thais?

Here’s an article about the dangers of Korean culture for young Thailand imitators.

In the mascaraed eyes of Thai teenyboppers, South Korea is ground zero of hip.

So the writer of this article begins his story. Korean boy and girl bands, movies and soap operas are all the rage in the Land of Smiles and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Thai authorities, however, warn that the mascara, big eyelashes, and skin pigmentation used by Thai teenyboppers are dangerous to their health. They’re even blaming an outbreak of dengue fever on black hosiery, another Korean import, worn by women between the ages of 10-24, because “the mosquitoes are drawn to the leggingsโ€™ dark hues.” Weird response by Thai authorities, unless, of course, they’re more worried about the cultural inroads being made than by the unreal possibilities of physical harm. In the article, the writer touches on this likely reason for the warnings by the Thai administration. An interesting read. Check it out. (Disclaimer: No, I don’t wear dark hosiery nor wear big eyelashes. I am, however, quite envious of the dark, luxurious, thick hair of Korean kids. Is a toupee in my future?) ๐Ÿ™‚

Nova

Ivan Nova, that is. The young man had quite a good start a few days ago–so good, in fact, that team management decided to give him a second start this Sunday against the White Sox. Though the Yanks lost to Toronto, 3-2, Nova pitched well through 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and a couple of runs. He was also involved in a bench-clearing incident when he threw wildly over the head of Toronto’s heavy hitter, Jose Bautista, who’s leading the Majors in home runs with 41. Bautista had hit a 2-run blast against Nova his previous time at bat, but the pitch didn’t appear intentional. Bautista took a few steps toward the mound, yelling something to Ivan, but, after the benches cleared, cool heads prevailed and the game continued. With the Yankees’ starting pitching currently in tatters, here’s hoping that the young Dominican can turn in another good performance on Sunday.

Super Nova. Si. Super Teacher? Nah.

Wow, I was watching the Yankee game this morning (Sunday, in the States) when the broadcasters announced the starting pitchers for the August 23rd game, Yanks at Toronto. One of my students at the Dominican Republic Yankee baseball academy is going for New York. Ivan Nova is a charismatic, 6-foot 4-inch, 23-year old from the D.R., and I’m really going to enjoy watching him pitch his first major league start, though he pitched a few games in relief earlier this year. It’s quite a huge deal for him. Here are his stats on Baseball Refrence.

I joked with Ivan about what his nickname might be in the Majors; I said it could be “Ivan the Terrible,” but he told me that “Super Nova” was going to be his moniker. I think I have his email address, so I’m going to send him congratulations after he wins tomorrow. Good luck, Ivan! Here’s a photo of him that I posted back on Nov. 16, 2007, when part of the team visited an orphanage in Santo Domingo. The kids loved him, (like I said–charismatic), and he was swamped by young autograph seekers.

The university conducts student surveys after every semester to ascertain how we teachers are viewed by our classes. Well, the results from last semester came out last week and I had the highest rating by far, at 93%, with the faculty average being 85% or so. The students “grade” us in categories such as “The teacher arrived in class on time,” “The teacher was well-prepared,” “The teacher used outside materials appropriately,” etc. However, I look on this stuff as mere popularity ratings, not proficiency, and your score is dependent on the kind of students you have for that particular semester (age, hometown, interests, major, etc.). I won this before, in my first semester here (Fall, 2008), and I received a 100,00 won prize and a nice certificate. I also finished near the bottom in the semester right after that, while not drastically changing my methods or presentation, though I’m always striving to learn from my mistakes and get better. Like I said–a popularity contest, though it’s not bad for an old guy, I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚ More later.

Korean Heat Wave

Korea has had a bit of a heat wave going on since at least last weekend, and temperatures today are reaching the mid-90s F. That doesn’t sound bad, but with the afternoon humidity in the 50, 60 and 70% range, it feels quite a bit hotter. Yeosu is a bit “cooler” than some areas, with a high of 88 today, but still uncomfortable. I went jogging this morning at 6:30, and the temperature was already at 79 F., according to the official Korean Meteorological website, with the humidity at 91%. Needless to say, I was soaking wet after one hour of punishment. ๐Ÿ™„

Ipchu, the start of autumn, according to the traditional Korean solar calendar, is today, according to the Joong An Daily English-language newspaper. At this time, temperatures are supposed to become more moderate from the summer highs, but the newspaper also reports that meteorologists are predicting that the heat will linger into the middle of September. Here’s a report from August of 2006 about another heat wave that occurred near Ipchu.

I’ll take this hot, humid, sunny weather over hot, humid, rainy weather any day. The Yeosu forecast calls for more of the same throughout next week, which is great because I have the week off until classes begin on August 30th. Actually, university classes don’t start until September 1st, but evening adult classes begin on the 30th.

My plan for next week is to get out and take some night photos of the industrial complex and other well-lit areas of Yeosu. Hopefully, I’ll post some of them here soon. More later.

Final Dianmu Update

Dianmu has left the area, heading out to sea. According to the KMA website, Yeosu got around 5 1/2 inches of rain, which was slacking off as I woke up this morning at 5 a.m. The winds probably got up to around 40 mph, because I saw a few metal garbage bins overturned and numerous leaves and small, twig-sized branches littering the sidewalk. All in all, it doesn’t appear that Dianmu was that much of a big deal here, though other sections of the country in its path may have different stories to tell. It’s been a very slow typhoon season in this neck of the woods so far, but perhaps Dianmu is a precursor to a more active end of the season.

Another Dianmu Update

So far, according to the KMA website, Yeosu has received nearly an inch of rain (2.1 cm) since midnight. The winds have begun to pick up, and it appears that we’ll receive the brunt of the storm late tonight through early tomorrow morning as Dianmu comes ashore in the southwest corner of the peninsula near Mokpo and then does a right turn to rake the coastline, heading northeast and out of the country by tomorrow afternoon or evening. The KMA is currently predicting about 5 or 6 more inches of rain for our area and winds picking up to around 35 miles per hour. Well, we’ll see. I expect the rainfall amount is about right, but I think, in my inexpert opinion, that the wind will be gusting a bit higher, perhaps to 45 mph. Not a huge, devastating storm (at least, at first glance) and certainly nothing like the monsoon rains that have hit China, Pakistan and India recently. And the flooding in eastern Europe. And the record heat and fires in Russia. And . . . what’s next? More later.