An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: March 2011

A Death in the Family

After a year-long struggle, my friend Nai’s mother succumbed to an illness last Friday night. I posted last May that the doctor had given her just a few months to live, but she held on this long, although she was often in great pain.

I still don’t know what took her life, but I suspect cancer or emphysema. I visited them last June, and it was very apparent how much she had wasted away. I’m heartbroken for Nai and his family. He told me that today he would “make fire” for her, meaning a traditional Buddhist cremation. He was practically inconsolable when I talked to him Saturday afternoon, but yesterday he was so busy cooking food for all the friends and family that were paying their respects that I think his mind was temporarily taken off his sadness. I imagine today will be quite sorrowful.

Below is a photo of her that I took back in August of 2006. She’s on the right, of course, with her youngest son Pui, Nai’s brother, on the left and one of her daughter’s girls in the middle. Rest in peace, Mer.

Korean Tsunamis

After my previous post about nuclear reactors in Korea, I got to thinking about Korean tsunamis. Have there ever been any big ones, especially along the east coast, where three of the power plants are located? About the only information I could find was this article from the English language Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The article had this to say:

Friday’s earthquake left Korea unscathed because it happened in the Pacific Ocean, but it would have been a different story if the quake hit the western side of Japan. Earthquakes measuring 7.7 and 7.8 on the Richter scale in Akita in 1983 and Hokkaido in 1993 caused 1 to 2.7 m tsunamis in Korea’s eastern port cities of Mukho and Samcheok around 100 minutes later, leading to deaths and damaged vessels.

Not huge, by any means, but it seems the potential is there for disaster. Hopefully, the power plants are well protected.

South Korea’s Nuclear Reactors

Because of the nuclear power plant crisis in Japan, I decided to find some information about the nuclear reactors in South Korea, and, especially, where the nearest one to Yeosu is located.

According to this Wikipedia article, more than 31% of Korea’s electricity production is supplied by nuclear power. That’s more than any other country outside of Europe, including Japan’s almost 29%. By contrast, France’s reactors provide a whopping 75% of its electricity needs, while the U.S. gets 20% of its electricity via nuclear facilities.

According to another Wiki article, there are four power plants in South Korea, with the nearest one to Yeosu located in Yeonggwang, which is about 80 miles from us as the crow flies, according to my Lonely Planet map of Korea–not all that far away. According to the same article, there are 21 reactors at the four plants, with 11 more due to come online by 2021.

Of course, with the dire news from Japan, Korea’s government is conducting a safety check of all the plants to determine their vulnerability to tsunamis. The Yeonggwang plant is located in the southwest part of the country, but the other three are in the southeast. From the article in the preceding link from the Korea Herald:

Of South Korea‚Äôs four nuclear power plants, three–Uljin, Wolsong and Gori–are located on the southeastern coast facing Japan. If a major earthquake occured on the western coast of Japan, it could send tsunami waves across the East Sea that could hit these facilities.

Let’s hope that never happens.

A Few Blog Changes

Well, I’m really tired of winter and tired of looking at winter scenes, so I changed the blog header winter shots back to the spring and summer photos I had up there last year. Optimistic me. When spring actually bursts upon us, I’ll get out and take some more photos from around campus and add those to the mix. (Note: Not all the photos up there now are from Yeosu–some are from my time in Morocco, but they look nice anyway.)

And, I’ve added a nifty Flag Counter/Page View Counter to the bottom of the left side-bar. One of them shows visitors from around the world, and the other shows US visitors with their state flags. The two don’t match up, because I installed the world visitors first, then decided later to add the US visitors. Take a gander if you’re so inclined.

No Effects of Japanese ‘Quake in Yeosu

I just finished jogging and turned on the television to CNN and found out about the HUGE 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A live helicopter feed from northern Japan is showing rising water from a tsunami going up river and flooding some farmland, and fires that have broken out in the background. Quite a scary sight. Wow, they just started showing, live, another tsunami heading for the coast–really impressive shots.

I was jogging at the time the ‘quake hit, but I didn’t feel anything. We’re quite far from where it happened, so we haven’t seen any effects in our area. The tsunamis are forecast for east, north and south of Japan. The bulk of the islands are between us and the tsunami area, so we probably won’t have any high waves, either. Good luck to everyone in the disaster zone. More later.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Yes, it’s been rather busy around here with the start of the new semester. In addition to the usual paperwork, lesson planning and getting used to the new schedule, I was assigned a new office in another building. At first, I kind of resented being asked to move, but the administration had a whole floor in the Natural Sciences building remodeled to support the new nighttime Vision English course. All the classrooms there and my office, which I share with three colleagues, are basically brand new, and we also have new computers, a new copy machine and a new printer to work with. Pretty nice, and since I got all my files and what-not moved over, I’ve started to feel quite comfortable there. Beginning next week, all of my classes will be in that one building. I’m not complaining.

We’ve been getting some pretty decent weather lately, so I’ve also been spending a lot more time jogging and being outdoors. The weekend forecast is calling for highs in the 60s F., so my bicycle will probably want to take me for a ride. I’ll try to get some photos up and I’ll get back to posting more often, now that the semester seems to be rolling along smoothly. More later.

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