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Space Camp

For a few days this week, I was focused on the heavens. On Tuesday, the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Atlantis flew overhead, both easily visible to the naked eye, with the ISS particularly bright–brighter than any star, at about -2.5 magnitude, according to Heavens Above. The Shuttle was about 20 degrees ahead of the ISS, after separating from it the day before. The previous evening, the two were supposed to have been very close together, forming a more spectacular, tight, naked-eye duo soaring in tandem across the evening sky. However, at that time their altitude above the horizon was too low to be seen at my location. It was still a great sight on Tuesday, with the two artificial “stars” taking about six minutes to make their way from north to south, though they were only visible at the camp for, I estimated, about 4 minutes.

The following night, Wednesday, was the equally awesome total lunar eclipse. The event started about 9:45 p.m., my time, with totality lasting from 11 p.m. to midnight. I stayed up watching reddish-orange Luna until about 11:30, way past my normal bedtime. I slept in the next morning, forgoing my usual jog. I took some photos, but none of them turned out very well. The one below is probably the best of the lot. The bright “star” at the bottom of the photo, just to the left of an imaginary line drawn straight down from the moon, is Saturn.

Lunar_Eclipse

Speaking of jogging, I went beyond my previous longest time last Saturday by clocking in at an hour and 23 minutes, 14 laps around the warning tracks of the four fields. I’m nearing my short-term goal of jogging for an hour and a half, and now I’m looking at, hopefully, being able to do 2 hours, non-stop, by July. That’s about 20 laps, and it sounds approachable. It’s good to see some results of the morning run and of other exercising I’ve been doing–my weight is now in the low 190s. (I can hear you snickering out there–that’s pounds, not kilograms!)

I should be able to get some photographs of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, now that burning season is here. It’s the time of year when the surrounding farmers and landowners start burning their old scrub brush, filling the air with smoke and particles, which scatter and reflect the sunlight (something like that, anyway) much more than cleaner air does. That’s another reason to go jogging in the early morning–there’s not as much smoke in the air, though there is a faint gray haze over the camp as the sun rises, and the “campfire” smell is always present.

Who’s lieing–Clemens or McNamee? I suspect they both are, but I don’t really care. The baseball season is upon us–the season when all of the Red Sox dreams of dynasty fade into harsh reality under the Yankee onslaught. Why? There’s a a new manager (Girardi), a potentially lethal crop of young, home-grown pitchers, and it’s the last year the team will play in The Old Stadium, before moving across the street to the new Yankee Stadium next year. The All Star Game will be played at the old ballpark this year, as will the World Series. The ghosts of Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle and Co., though they’ll be making the short journey to the new ballpark, will make their presence felt throughout this final year in The House That Ruth Built. Contrary to Boston fans’ desperate hope that the Yanks are down and out, there are going to be many championships to come for the Bombers–more now, and many more later.

More on the Big ‘Quake

Here’s an interesting article about December’s big quake–it might give you an idea of just how big it was.

Another note about my potential job. All of these jobs sponsored by the State Department and administered by SIT are in Muslim areas or countries. It is an effort, begun in 1989, to improve America’s image in such areas, to show a “softer, gentler” side. A BBC article, “U.S. could win over Muslim world,” talks about just such an approach.

Haze and Butt Head

It was very hazy a few days ago, looking much like the smoke-enshrouded skies of Montana during fire season. I don’t know whether it was water vapor, an actual forest fire somewhere else in Korea, or Chinese dust, though there were no dust alerts issued that day. Speaking of forest fires, Montana and other western states can expect more drought, according to this article. In Andong, the forecast is calling for rain today. What better day for a wedding? Two of our former office staff are marrying at noon. I’ll post some photos later.

View from my office on Apr. 29



Now, I’ve been accused of having my head up my butt, but never up someone else’s.



This photo is from last summer’s kids’ camp. They were playing a popular game called, I think, “Horse,” wherein two of them hook up, as above, and the rest of the gang jump on their backs, one by one, to see how many they can hold before the “horse” collapses. I captured this shot from my 5th floor office.

Earthquake, Sickness

It’s 6:12 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and I just felt the apartment building shake for about 5 seconds. That probably means there was another earthquake close by, perhaps in Japan. I’ll have to remember to check the news reports later.

UPDATE Yes, it was a 5.8 magnitude quake, as reported here.

I’ve been sick with a cold for the past week–can’t seem to shake the thing, though I’m feeling a little better this morning, not counting the 15 minutes of coughing that occurs when I first get out of bed. I wanted to get out last Sunday and take some photos of the beautiful cherry tree blossoms, but I stayed home instead.

I did make it to Wonju Saturday, however, to visit Andy, one of our former teachers. He gave me a tour of his campus and told me to put in an application, since a position may be opening up soon. The way it sounds, it’s an ideal university, so I’ll turn in a resume package. I also heard from IPA in Saudi Arabia and they sound pretty positive about at least giving me an interview. I think the Wonju position is now at the top of my list. Second, I’ll go through a Korean recruiter to try to find another job like it, hopefully near Seoul. Next is a State Department funded Masters Graduate Fellowship program, placing candidates in Africa, Indonesia, and elsewhere. Third, I would work a job in Laos or Thailand, no matter that the pay in those countries would be very low. Finally, I’d go with a middle-East job. So many options. More later.

Earthquake

Just a few minutes ago I noticed some of my plants and the cord that opens my curtain swaying, and my fan, standing on the floor, rattling. I thought “earthquake somewhere.” Sure enough, there is a report that a magnitude 7 quake has hit in southern Japan. No damage here, but it is interesting that you can feel these things this far away.

I put in another online application yesterday, this one to United Arab Emirates’ Higher Colleges of Technology. I’ll probably send in a few more to Middle East institutions and another for a worldwide fellowship sponsored by an organization in the U.S., with openings in Africa and Indonesia that I am interested in. I’ll also keep my options open in Korea; there are plenty of good jobs here,too. I am also becoming more and more interested in the Lao-American College in Vientiane, Laos. One of the new teachers at ANU is Eugene, and he spent a year teaching there recently. He tells me that the pay is not very good, but the experience is very worthwhile. I might pop in while I’m visiting Nai this summer.

The weather is very nice today, so I think I’ll sign off, grab the bicycle and give it a spin. More later.

Wedding and Fire on the Mountain

Last weekend, my taekwando master, Mr. Kim, was married in one of the local wedding halls. The ceremony, typical, I’m told, of Korean weddings, might resemble Las Vegas–glitz and surrealism. The happy couple was transported down the side wall of the room in an open-sided booth that emitted dry-ice smoke. The couple departed the booth at the back of the room and then proceeded up to the main “altar” at the front of the room. It’s not really an altar, since this is not a religious ceremony. In marching to the front, to the strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, they passed under a couple of fake swords wielded by two lady aides, dressed in mock military uniforms, which reminded me of Busby Berkeley musicals of the ’30s. The room itself is very ornate. Outside the building (no photos yet) are several neon palm trees, green-, yellow-, and red-colored, I believe, that are quite a spectacle at night. I’ll try to get some photos of these to post. After the ceremony, those giving money to the couple (no merchandise given, just money) are allowed to gorge themselves on a pretty decent Korean buffet a couple of floors above the wedding ceremony area. Overall, quite interesting, if kitschy.

Wedding5 (89k image)

Wedding5 (89k image)

I was bicycling around town last night, shooting some night photos using my new tripod, when I spotted what looked like a full-blown forest fire on one of the hills surrounding Andong. I watched as the fire swept through the tops of some trees, causing crown fires. I was probably several kilometers away, so I didn’t get a great view, but it definitely reminded me of some of the fires I’ve seen in western Montana. I couldn’t get any great photos (wish I’d had the big camera with its telephoto lens with me), but there is one here and a few more on the photo page.

Fire in Andong

Fire on the Mountain

I paid for my ticket to Thailand (about $300 roundtrip), but I’m still waiting to receive it in the mail. I’m told that the travel agent doesn’t send it until just before I’m supposed to leave. We’ll see what happens, but I hope I get it soon. I’m leaving on June 28th and returning on July 21st. At least, I think I’m returning–maybe I’ll love Thailand so much that I’ll just stay and become a beach bum :)

Earthquake

I was in my first earthquake today, the first that I can remember feeling. I was sitting at the computer about 7:20 pm when I heard a loud boom and then I felt some movement and noticed that the computer monitor was rocking slightly from side to side. It lasted a few seconds and I wondered whether it was the ventilation unit on top of the building kicking in or whether it actually was a quake. I looked outside, but no one walking in the streets or standing on the balcony of the hospital next door seemed too concerned. A couple of the other teachers noticed it also. We took a walk downtown to do some shopping and on returning I checked Google. Sure enough, we experienced a 5.9 magnitude quake. The peninsula is somewhat prone to earthquakes, but is not nearly as bad off as Japan. It was an interesting experience. I’ll keep my eyes and ears peeled for more news.