Saturday, 31 July 2010

Thai Health Promotion Foundation

This coming week I'm going to visit Thailand. I'm going with a group of graduate students that will be doing their practical course work in Thailand in association with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation. I'll be joining with them in many of the classes and outings and look forward to it as much of the course will be on natural remedial health care, which is a personal interest of mine. I also hope to do some sightseeing and intend to visit one of the local Taekwon-Do gyms.

The Thai Health Promotion Foundation is doing wonderful work in Thailand in creating healthy living awareness. They also have hilarious advertising campaigns. Watch the video below to get a taste of it:

Friday, 30 July 2010

Grappling on Facebook

As my family, friends and regular blog reader's know, I'm not a fan of Facebook and do not have a Facebook account. It is not because I'm trying to hide information from the public, as this blog, which is overly candid, can attest. In the terms of service of Facebook they claim ownership of everything on Facebook and I can just not, on principle, go along with it. This is just one of a number of issues I have with Facebook. It is not even that I'm afraid of someone using "my stuff" -- most of this blog is licenced under a Creative Commons licence. It is the principle of the matter.

Nonetheless, even though I avoid Facebook, I continuously find myself featuring on it. Every so often I hear of photos of me posted and that I have been tagged on photos. Most recently I found out that there is a video of my practising grappling drills available on Facebook. If you have access to Facebook you can see it here. I was reviewing some options from the closed guard position.

I'm looking forward to the new Facebook alternative, Diaspora, to start up in about two months or so. I will be one of the first people to sign up for this -- just to show that I'm not scared of social networking. It is just that I'm not settling for something that goes against my principles just because the whole world has jumped on the bandwagon. Diaspora describes itself as "The privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all, open source social network." Unlike Facebook where one has to constantly fight for your privacy and where personal control over your information is at Facebook's discretion, Diaspora gives power and responsibility back to where it belongs -- in the hands of the user. Now that is a social network I can associate myself with. I'm looking forward to networking with all the other anti-Facebook users.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Buite die oomblik


Saterdagaand het ek en ’n vriend, John, vinnig gekuier. Hy was in Seoul en ek het ’n boek gehad wat ek namens hom bestel het, so ons het gou ontmoet, die boektransaksie afgehandel, en bietjie opgevang wat in mekaar se lewens aangaan. Deur die gesprek het John my gevra of ek “okay” is, omdat ek bietjie “distracted” lyk. Ek het geweet dat sy waarneming korrek was, maar kon nie die rede daarvoor pluis nie. Gister in die Taekkyeon klas het die afrigter my ten minste twee keer gevra waaraan dink ek. Dit was duidelik sigbaar dat ek nie fokus nie. Vir iemand waarvoor die krygskunsdissiplines ’n byna daaglikse aktiwiteit is, kom die fokus op hierdie tipe oefening al van nature. As ek in die krygskunsklas is, dan is ek gefokus in wat ek doen – die res van my lewe bly buite die deur. Of ten minste is dit hoe dit gewoonlik gaan. Vanaand in die Taekwon-Do klas sê my Taekwon-Do afrigter vir my dat ek in ’n “ajjusi” verander het. Ajussi is Koreaans vir “oom.” Dit blyk heel opsigtelik dat iets nie pluis is nie, maar wat presies daardie “iets” is, is ’n misterie. Gisteraand toe ek bed toe gaan en 'n preek aansit soos my gewoonte is, het my gedagtes die heeltyd gedwaal en ek het byna niks van die preek gehoor nie. Iets in my onderbewussyn verhoed dat ek in die oomblik is (“to be in the moment”). Ek's buite die oomblik en weet nie hoe om terug te kom nie.

Psychology Today lys "Six Steps to Living in the Moment," maar ek's nie lus om dit nou te lees nie.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Film Review: The Road


I just finished watching a great, but absolutely harrowing film. The Road is directed by John Hillcoat. It is based on the Pulitzer prize winning novel with the same title by Cormac McCarthy and recounts a period of a couple of months in the lives of a father and his young son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment. It is a bleak film, in a bleak world – a world missing a proper biosphere. Most of the life on the planet has been destroyed. Food is so scarce that many of the surviving people have turned to cannibalism. The father and son is frequently on the run from cannibalistic gangs as they slowly head south while always scavenging for food. It depicts to what extend people will go for love; and also to what morally bankruptcy a society can sink when people are desperate for food. It’s a story of constant heartache.

I could not watch it in one sitting. My emotional reservoir would not allow me. So I watched it in three parts. I cried. This film is now also on my list of great films, like Dancer in the Dark and Requiem for a Dream, that I don’t want to watch again – my heart cannot handle it.

Beautiful cinematography. Splendid acting. Thoroughly upsetting. 

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Let the Right One In

A recent subway read which I finished probably a week ago is the vampire novel Let the Right One In, by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. The Daily Express exclaimed that “Lindqvist has reinvented the vampire novel.” It is a good novel, I agree. About a young boy named Oskar, always bullied at school, who then befriends his new neighbor, Eli, who turns out to be a vampire. A simple enough story, the the main plot is diluted with more and more sub plots. One finishes the book feeling that some of these sub plots were there, not to add to the suspense, not even to reinforce the reoccurring themes like absent fathers and alcohol/blood addiction, but to just thicken the book.

I’ve wrote about the film adaptation of Let the Right One In on this blog before. It was an excellent movie. In fact, it is one of the best vampire films I’ve seen in a very long time and would probably place it on my list of top three vampire movies. The other two would include Interview with a Vampire and Bramstoker’s Dracula.

It is very seldom that I would say that a film adaptation of a novel is better than the original novel. I’ve only said it of one other movie of which I’ve also read the novel. But in this case it is so. I watched the film again, after reading the novel, and understood why it is better. The film is stripped of the excess. The plot is streamlined, the action improved. And by doing so I felt that the focus on the relationship of the two main characters, Oskar and Eli, came much better to the front. It is their story. The story of two unlikely “children” becoming friends.

In this case, skip the novel and watch the film.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Sermon Sources

I listen to sermons regularly. Almost every day – or to be more specific, almost every night. I use sermons as my “bed time story.” I find it difficult to go to sleep as my mind struggles to switch off. If I should go to bed and just lay and wait, my mind would soon get engaged in all kinds of internal dialogues, or I’d be writing essays in my thoughts, or contemplate some dilemma, or think about the state of the world.

Some would suggest listening to soothing music, but this only aggravates the problem. Soothing music just helps my mind to get into a calmer state in which it can think more clearly. Through the years I’ve found that relaxing background music does not help me fall asleep – instead music that forces some engagement actually works much better as it keeps my mind from wandering and getting too busy. But this type of music – rock music – does not create the state of mind I wish to fall asleep at. I’m sure our last waking thoughts mull through our minds while we are asleep; therefore, I do not wish for the aggressive mood created by rock music to be infested in my brain while I’m sleeping. So, I listen to sermons.

Sermons are about God and especially the type of sermons I listen to are often about God’s character, God’s grace and God’s love. These are wonderful topics to fall asleep to. And those times I do not fall asleep before the end of the sermon I would put on another sermon, or just think about the topic of the sermon until I do eventually fall asleep. When I fall asleep before I heard the end of the sermon I would listen to the rest of it the following morning or evening.

Since I listen to sermons practically every night, I’m always searching for good sermons. See, just any sermon would not do. It needs to be biblically sound. I have to agree with a big part of the preacher’s theology. If the preacher were to say something which I thought unbiblical that would just be the end of my sleep right there. I would feel compelled to get up and start writing an expository essay in which I give a proper exegesis of the scripture or teaching in question. So doctrinally weak sermons would help nothing towards my sleep problem. Furthermore, I have a very good view of God’s character and sermons that blight God’s character would just not do. I do not believe that God will keep people alive in hell so that He could torture them through all eternity. For this reason, many of the sermons I listen to are by Seventh Day Adventist preachers. The Seventh Day Adventist denomination is one of only two Christian denominations that do not believe in people burning in hell forever and ever.

However, I listen to a variety of speakers from a wide denominational spectrum (although exclusively protestant) that include charismatic, evangelical, Calvinist, and Anglican.

Here are the sermon sources I make most use of:

Dan Smith

Pastor Dan Smith is probably one of my favourite preachers. For a long time I couldn’t find his regular sermons and I really felt an emptiness of my spiritual plate but I was able to locate the website of his local church again. Pastor Dan Smith is a Seventh Day Adventist pastor with a very strong grace-filled (righteousness by grace, not works) theology that revolutionized by understanding of grace. I’ve been listening to him since 2003 and even though I’ve probably heard all his anecdotes, jokes, and points of view, I still appreciate his sermons.




Tom Wright

The Bishop of Durham, N. T. Wright, gives wonderful intellectual sermons. His sermons are more like lectures than typical sermons (many of them are indeed lectures), but it is probably for this reason that I enjoy them so much. He engages one in long, but interesting, discussions on biblical topics. Tom Wright is of the Anglican tradition and is a professor of New Testament Studies, and has lectured at many great noteworthy institutions.





Marco Belmonte

Pastor Marco Belmonte reveals a beautiful God that one cannot help but appreciate. Marco’s lively preaching style is also fully engaging and his personal experience with this God that he so loves helps to make the sermons practical. Marco is a Seventh Day Adventist pastor with what would probably be called a somewhat liberal theology. His sermon series “God the Father, or the Godfather” is especially thought provoking. Unfortunately he does not have a regularly updated sermon feed. I usually get his sermons from HeavenlySanctuary.Com.


Joyce Meyer

Pastor Joyce Meyer teaches a very practical theology, often based on her own spiritual walk with God. Her teaching is candid and reveals many of her own spiritual struggles. She reveals sensible solutions that are biblically sound. There is also a funny side to her preaching, that probably originates in her honest reflection of everyday trials. I think her denominational background is Charismatic Evangelical. The nice thing about her sermons is that material is available every day from Monday through Friday.



Christine Oberg

La Sierra University Church has a number of pastors sharing pastoral duties, although Pastor Chris(tine) Oberg is the senior pastor. La Sierra University Church usually have a sermon series on which the pastoral staff preach over a large number of weeks per year. Since the sermons are presented by more than one person, but on the same topic, one gets an interesting spectrum of perspectives, which I enjoy.






Greg Boyd

I heard Pastor Greg Boyd the first time during a three part CNN documentary called “God’s Warriors.” Boyd’s explanation of God and the function of the church stood in such poignant contrast to the other Christian representatives that I had to find out more about his views which match my own so closely. Pastor Boyd used to be a professor of Theology. He is an accomplished author of theological books and a great, albeit somewhat self-admitted ADHD, speaker. He is evangelical with a strong leaning towards Ana-Baptist theology.I often look forward to listening to his weekly sermon.




Mark Driscoll

I was recently introduced to Pastor Mark Driscoll. He seems to be Calvinist evangelical. There are a number of things we don’t see eye to eye on; I especially disagree with the Calvinist view of predestination. Still, I do enjoy his bible-centred teaching. He has a straight forward, don’t beat around the bush, type of preaching that I enjoy. Sermons can be downloaded from the Mars Hill Church website or from iTunes.





Herb Montgomery

Pastor Herb Montgomery also paints a wonderful picture of God similar to that of Marco Belmonte, which I truly appreciate. Pastor Herb can sometimes become overly emotional, which I find a little distracting, but at the heart of his messages is a God that is truly worthy of praise.








Audio Bible

Sometimes I’m not in the mood for a sermon or I’ve exhausted my supply of new sermons, in which case I’d listen to the Bible in audio. I have readings of the Bible in the King James Version and in the The Message paraphrase. I prefer listening to the latter and usually listen readings of Psalms, Romans or Ephesians.

Nostalgia for Dolly Parton

I grew up with a strange mix of music -- including country music. Although I don't usually listen to country & western music any more, I realise that my exposure to country music has influenced my taste in music. I often enjoy acoustic sounds and music with a folk feel to them. I have all Sheryl Crow's albums; I have some albums of the Dixie Chicks, and even a collection of Alison Krauss & Union Station, and also enjoy The Avett Brothers. Admittedly, none of these are typically country (more Blue Grass and Folk Rock), but without my early exposure to country music I would never have discovered these.

I've recently started to miss the sound of Dolly Parton. I can't really say why. It's not that I particularly enjoy her style of country that much, but I suppose it reminds me of some childhood memories -- a time in which I was happy and without a care in the world.

It was a time during which my exposure to country music was at a grand scale. My mother hosted regularly Country Shows. These shows would attract thousands of people, with great country artists singing and a unique South African version of a country event. There would be curry & rice with chutney and coconut shreds (a traditional South African dish) and an animated rodeo bull that people would be thrown off to the cheering delight of the spectators. People would dress up in jeans with big buckled belts, and "Indian frills" along the seams. And there would be Dolly Partons: curvaceous women with big hair and colourful personalities.

Watch this extract of a delightful BBC interview with Dolly Parton.



In reminiscence of the “good old days” – I cannot believe I’m old enough to be talking of the “good old days” – I decided to get hold of some Dolly Parton music. Who can forget such Dolly classics as "Jolene"?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Mmm

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore” -- Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Escape the "Temporary Stop"

Geoff Thompson warns us not to get rooted at our "temporary stops," for instance your "temporary job"; for they easily become a "permanent stop." "Life is like a journey," he says. Don't get tempted to stagnate where you are.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Physical (Genetic) Differences between East Asians (Koreans) and Caucasians (Western Europeans)


In this post I’m basically going to list differences I’ve noticed during my years of living in Korea in the physical differences between Korean people and white people – particularly the white people I’m most familiar with, namely those of Western European descent. From the outset such a list is going to have gross generalizations. They are not intended to be racist or degrading to any of the two groups, although some stereotyping is inevitable.

HEAD

Viewed from the front, Korean heads are generally wider than Caucasian heads. Caucasian heads seem longer. Viewed from the side, Koreans heads seem shorter, as if flattened from the front and back. Caucasian heads seems more oblong, as if flattened from the sides.

HAIR

Korean hair is rounder and therefore generally straight. Only on occasion would one see a Korean with naturally wavy or somewhat curly hair. Caucasian hair is more often oval shaped and therefore tends to wave or curl. Korean hair is typically black or dark brown. Caucasian hair is seen in a wide spectrum of hues, from brown to blond. Korean hair seems usually thicker and stronger than Caucasian hair, although older Korean people seem to have thinner hair.

FACE

Korean faces are usually wider and Caucasian faces narrower. Koreans typically have higher cheek bones.

EYEBROWS & EYES

Koreans generally have thicker eyebrows than Caucasians, while the arcs of Caucasians eyebrows tend to look wider. Many Koreans do not have a “double eye lid,” which is a natural second fold in the eye lid seen with Caucasians. This makes their eyes seem narrower. Many Koreans, especially women, get plastic surgery to create an artificial “double eye lid” and so increase the opening of the eye – making their eyes “bigger.” Korean eyes seem further apart and Caucasian eyes seem closer together. The eye shape of Koreans is typically Asian with a more defined slant towards the outside edges.

Korean eye colour is dark brown, brown and on occasion a light yellow brown. Caucasian eye colour comes in a variety of hues.


NOSE

I wouldn’t say that Korean noses are stereotypically bigger than Caucasian noses. The nose bridge of most Koreans, however, is much lower than Caucasian nose bridges which tend to be comparatively much higher. The lower nose bridge gives the impression that Korean noses are typically broader than Caucasian noses. This lower nose bridge also creates the illusion that Koreans' eyes are further apart. Rhinoplasty to raise the nose bridge is a common type of cosmetic plastic surgery in South Korea.

MOUTH

Generally, Koreans have fuller lips than Caucasians. I've been told by a Korean dentist that the actual nerves of Caucasian teeth are longer than those of Korean teeth.

JAW & FACIAL HAIR

Typically Koreans have much more defined jawbones than Caucasians, especially Korean men. When viewed from behind, it is often possible to actually see the Angles of Mandible of a Korean man’s jaw protruding out on the side. On the other hand, one very seldom notices a Caucasian man’s jaw when viewed from behind.

Caucasian men are more prone to facial hair than Korean men. Facial hair for Korean men tends to cluster around the mouth and chin to form a “goatie” while Caucasian beards tend to grow along the jaw line, lower cheeks and meet with the sideburns. Many Korean men grow “fake” side burns by growing their normal hair long along the ears.

EARS

I haven’t noticed any specific general differences in the ear shape between Koreans and Caucasians. Like with Caucasians, they come in many different shapes and sizes. Caucasian ear wax is usually moist and a golden brown in colour. Korean ear wax is usually dry and white-gray in colour.

SKIN

Korean skin is usually a light tan and may even, with much sun exposure, turn into a strong golden brown. Caucasian skin ranges from very fair to a golden tan or dark tan.

Most Korean babies (I’ve heard more boys than girls) are born with a blue/purple spot on their bum, known as a “Mongolian Spot” (Congenital dermal melanocytosis). The spot usually disappears in early childhood and tends to be gone by puberty, although for some this birth mark remains into adulthood.

BODY HAIR

Typically, Koreans have very little body hair. Occasionally Korean men will have some chest hair. While many Korean men may have some leg hair (although comparatively little relative to Caucasian men), most Korean men do not have any arm hair.

TORSO and LIMBS

Koreans have longer torso’s than Caucasians, but shorter limbs. For this reason Korean muscles often look shorter, i.e. rounder, and therefore more easily defined when they do weight training. The average Korean is 1.73 m tall. North Koreans are typically 1.65 m tall. The average Caucasian, if I were to guess, is around 1.75 m tall. I’m about 1.78-1.8 m tall.

BREASTS and HIPS

Usually Korean women tend to have smaller breasts and hips than Caucasian women and therefore less of an hour-glass figure. Instead, the Korean aesthetic ideal for women's body shape is an "S-line."

GROIN

Relative to Caucasian pubic hair, Korean pubic hair seems less curly. The pubic hair of Asian women is described as "black, short, straight and not thick but rather sparse" (Dennis Morris, The Naked Woman, p. 193). So sparse, in fact, is the pubic hair of some Korean women that they would actually have "hair surgically transplanted from their head to the genital area" (Dennis Morris, The Naked Man, p. 191), because of the general taste of Korean men in bushy pubic hair.

Like with Caucasians, the pubic skin can have no extra pigmentation, or a lot of extra pigmentation causing the labia and scrotum to look dark, even purplish in colour. The average erect Korean penis is about 9-12 centimetres. The average erect Caucasian penis is around 12-15 centimetres. (See a world map of sizes here.)

LEGS

I've noticed many bow-legged Koreans especially among Korean women. One reason for this may be the purposeful atrophy of calf muscles by Korean women. Well developed calf muscles in women are not considered appealing to many Koreans. Well developed legs are even frowned upon by the Korean media (see a video here).

On the other hand, Korean men often have well developed calf muscles, probably because of the variety of sports enjoyed involving leg agility like soccer, foot volleyball, basketball and the like.

FEET

Relative to Caucasian feet, Korean feet are generally smaller but wider. It is generally difficult to find shoe sized for men over 285cm, which is UK size 12 or US size 12 1/2.


CAUCASIAN-KOREAN MIX


Many people consider Caucasian and Korean mixes to be very beautiful. The model/actor Daniel Henney is one of the most famous Caucasian-Korean mixes. It is believed by many that he got the best genetic trades from both sides of the gene-pool.


His father is British and his mother is Korean.


A beautiful female Korean-mix is Christina Sthair, whose father is German and mother Korean.


See more Korean-mixes at HalfKorean.Com.

2012 HalfKorean.Com

This is how I may have looked was I half Korean. Read more about this photo here.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

My Gunsteling Skoolboelie

Ek besoek byna nooit op Facebook nie. Ek vermy dit soos ’n aansteeklike siekte. Nietemen, ek het vroeër vandag daar gaan koekeloer opsoek na ’n musiekgroep wat ek in Hong Kong gehoor het. Ek was onsuksesvol om die groep se bladsy op te spoor.

Toe skielik, uit die bloute, wonder ek wat van een ou saam met wie ek op hoërskool was gebeur het. Hy was ’n eerste span rugby speker, ’n uitblinker atleet, en die aantreklikste ou in ons jaargroep sedert standard ses. Hy’t ’n breë glimlag, blou oë en ’n goue blasvel. Ek was absoluut jaloers op hom op skool. Wanneer ek en hy op geleentheid alleen in mekaar se geselskap was, was hy verbaaslik aangenaam, maar sodra ander mense by was, was hy ’n buffel met ’n slegte gesindheid teenoor my. Alhoewel ek dit nie kan onthou nie, is ek amper seker dat hy my met aftakelende taal getuister het, soos “sussie,” “moffie” en so aan. Indien nie hy nie, beslis sy vriende en hy het ongetwyfeld saam gespot en lag.

Hy’t my eenkeer om die nek gegryp in ’n wurggreep en aangehou sê dat ek moet oorgee. Ek het byna flou geraak maar geweier om oor te gee. Ek kon nie terug veg nie want ek was veels swakker as hy, maar ek sou hom nie die satisfaksie gee om oor te gee nie. Een van sy vriende het gegrap en gesê dat hy moet passop, eendag as ons groot is, gaan ek hom terug kry. Daai gedagte het by my vasgesteek en ek dink dit was moontlik een rede hoekom ek met sulke ywer met die krygskunste begin het. Teen matriek toe ek myself ten minste al kon volstaan in ’n skoolbarnie, het hulle belangstelling verloor in my. Ek het nooit kans gehad om hom / hulle terug te kry vir hulle teistering nie.

Hierdie dinge was alles lank vergete, totdat ek nou skielik gewonder het wat van hom geword het. Ek het altyd myself verbeel dat hy na skool as ’n looser sou uitdraai. Ek het gerugte gehoor, van ander mense wat in ons tuisdorp bly dat hy dwelms gebruik en erg gewig opgetel het.

Wel, ek was suksesvol om hom op te spoor op FB. Raai wat?! Hy is nog net so aantreklik soos altyd en het ’n pragtige vrou (hulle was na ’n uitheemse eiland vir hulle wittebrood) en hy is die baas van sy eie grafiese ontwerp besigheid. Grafiese Ontwerp besigheid! So op my agterstoep! (My eerste graad is in Grafiese Ontwerp.) Ek was so telleurgesteld toe ek dit sien. Hy het toe nooit ’n loser uit gedraai nie . . .

Toe my skok oor sy voordurende glorie na ’n paar oomblikke oor is, toe tref die tweede skok my. Dat ek so erg telleurgesteld was dat sy lewe goed uitgedraai het. Watse tipe mens is ek? En het ek regtig sulke wraak gevoelens vir hom geberg deur al hierdie jare – byna 15 jaar!

En raai wat het hy onder sy “Likes and Interests” – Angus Buchan. Dit wil impliseer dat hy ’n goeie mens geraak het – dat hy ’n Christen is en sy held is Angus Buchan – daai Boer-evangelis wat mans help om goeie Christene te wees. Ek was sommer vies toe ek dit sien. Hoe durf hy ’n sukses van sy lewe maak – nou en in die hiernamaals!

Ek lag vir myself en my eie gedagtes terwyl ek hierdie skryf. Ek vermoed ek is nog steeds bietjie jaloers op hom – sy good looks, sy eie besigheid en mooi vrou en wittebrood op ’n eiland! Ek het darem geen meer behoefte om hom en sy maters se knieë te breek nie. ’n Goeie vuishou op sy mooi glimlag sou lekker gewees het, maar selfs dit wil ek nie juis doen nie. Hy is nou ’n broer in Christus, so ek moet hom als vergewe en lief hê. Dit sal seker nie te moeilik wees nie. Niemand het nog ooit gesukkel om hom lief te kry nie . . . en dit is deels die probleem.

My hele antagonisme met die knaap op wie ek so jaloers was as tienerseun was op ’n vreemde manier ’n goeie ding gewees. Dit het my ten dele geïnspireer om offisiëel met ’n krygskuns te begin en sodoende ’n lewenslange passie te ontdek. Ek het intussen verskeie swartgordels en beoefen ’n ryk variteit krygskunste. Lankal doen ek dit nie meer om myself te beskerm teen skoolboelies nie. Nou is dit ’n genotvolle en uitdagende leefwyse. En rakende daardie wurggreep waarin hy my soveel jare terug geklem het: ek het juis 'n paar weke gelede verskeie ontsnaptegnieke aan studente in die krygskunsklub waar ek afrig geleer.

Een “goeie ding” wat ek gesien het terwyl ek op sy Facebook-profiel rond gerkap het, is dat hy ’n moffie-pienk onderbaadjie op sy troue gedra het. ;)

Recently Watched Series

With suddenly so much time on my hands, I’ve recently finished watching three series.

Merlin (Season 2)

The story of the “early years” of Merlin and Arthur continues. This season really increased in suspense towards the end.Nice fantasy, but I did get frustrated with the low level of intelligence it requires.

Doctor Who (Series 5 – 2010)

This season features the eleventh Doctor played by the amiable Matt Smith. From the very first episode the audience is made aware of cracks in the universe and how it is all related to a little red-headed Scottish lass named Amy Pond – the first crack is seen in her bedroom.

An excellent Doctor Who season, with lots of continued suspense and typical Doctor Who humour.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

This is an animated series in three seasons (or "Three Books") about a young monk that finds out that he is the Avatar who is destined to save the world from the ferocious Fire Lord. However, before he can do so, he firsts need to master the four elements and escape being captures by an exiled prince. The series is heavily influenced by Oriental concepts, with interesting use of Chinese martial arts which include Tai Chi, Hung Gar, Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, and Ba Gua. The characters are endearing. The plot style is more typical of Asian anime, however the self-mockery more resembles Western cartoons. I really enjoyed this anime series and was quite disappointed when it came to a finish after only three seasons.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

My Name Is Asher Lev


I recently read the novel My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, first published in 1972. One of my professors from South Africa told me long ago that I remind her of the main character, a young red headed Jewish boy, whom is an art prodigy. I’ve always wanted to read the book, but never got so far . . . until now.

What surprised me about the book is how much the character Asher and I have in common. I was somewhat shocked that this professor should know so many things about me. Things more obscure than the fact that the main character, Asher, and I both have red hair. I am of Jewish decent (did she know this?) and although I am not of the Jewish faith, I do keep some customs which are ordinarily associated with Judaism. Like Asher, I keep the Sabbath and also only eat kosher food. I would not call myself a child prodigy like the main character, but I have always been very creative and have been ostracized by many of my peers as a child for my “oddness.” Like Asher I suffered from depression as a child, often feeling exhausted without cause and not understanding what was wrong with me. Also, both my mother and this character’s mother suffered from depression. Like Asher, the older I got and the more my sensitivities became apparent the less my father and I had in common. Unlike Asher’s father who pertinently opposed his art, my father merely left me in my mother’s care. Now as an adult I cannot blame my father – he was a car mechanic by trade and a business man by profession. None of these things I had an interest in, nor did these careers equip him with the skills to nurture an overly emotional, creative and artistic boy. Like Asher, as a child I spent numerous hours by myself just drawing. I wish I could say that I became a well known and highly successful artist – I did not. I traded pencil and paint for the typewriter and am still honing my craft.


I often miss expressing myself in lines and shapes, colours and shades. The novel inspired me to do some visual art again. I have many ideas; maybe I’ll still bring them to life. I often lament that I went to study graphic design
– I should have studied fine arts. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been if I did a masters’ in History of Art, instead of Creative Writing. If I did, I would probably not have worked as a lecturer at a university in Korea. They need people in the (English) language field more than people in the arts. Still, one cannot help but wonder at times how one’s life may have been different had different opportunities come along. But they didn’t. It was a scholarship for Creative Writing that presented itself. And I’m thankful. Writing is a good medium – one can colour with paint and with words. One can give shade with pencils and with metaphors.

I also realised, while reading the novel, that I have another thing in common with main character. Asher’s art was often in contradiction to his religion. Some of my best ideas are things that clash with my religious heritage. Unlike Asher I have not had the fortitude to put them to paper / canvas yet.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Ungly Shoe Fad

In Korea these days there is this sandal trend among women that I find terribly ugly. I'm sure it is not just a Korean phenomenon. The shoes have these Grecian style straps that go up the foot and ankle. Here are some examples:


Images from G-Market.

Here is a tip to all women. These sandals are UGLY and make you feet look ungly too. Many men like women's feet. They are like breasts and hips. We like them. We like their curves. When you don your feet in these otrocious sandals you make your shapely ankles look like the hoofs of butch Roman soldiers. They change pretty ankles into unshapely cankles. If you want to cover your ankles, get some boots. Proper boots. And leave these ugly sandals to the gladiators.

Monday, 12 July 2010

A Dead Owl, a Red Haired Korean, Bomb Shock and an Exhibition Decision

The owlet I picked up in front of my apartment yesterday did not make it through the night. By the time I picked it up it was already in the afternoon. Someone told me that they saw it there in the morning already. I was planning to take it to a vet today, but unfortunately when I went to check on it after I got up it was dead. I'm guessing that having sat outside in the sun may have taken its toll, not having fed for so long. Since I don't keep meat in my home I had nothing to feed it. I tried to give it some egg on a spoon but it wasn't interested. Since I have little knowledge of caring for raptors I just hoped it would survive the night so that I could take it somewhere professional. So it goes . . .

At the Taekkyeon class tonight I saw something quite interesting. There was a bearded Korean man He had a read beard. I asked him about it and he assured me that it is indeed his natural beard colour. This is the first time for me to see a Korean with naturally red hair -- or at least a read beard. I told him I want to bring my camera next time so that I can take a picture of his red beared. He didn't seem to pleased with the idea. I've seen a number of Koreans with a slight red tint in their hair, but since many Koreans dye their hair all kinds of brown and auburn shades, it is quite difficult to judge if the red tint is natural or not. I've been thinking about writing a blog post about physical (genetic) differences between Koreans and Cocasions. I hope to do it soon.

After the Taekkyeon training I spent a little time getting to know some of my fellow practitioners. One Korean man and I struck up a conversation and since we live in the general same direction we took the same subway line and continued talking for another half an hour or so. His name is Beomseok -- it sounds a little like "Bomb Shock," so that's how I'm going to remember it. He is studing Oriental Medicine. It sounds quite interesting. I would probably have enjoyed it, but life don't always present you with opportunities for all your likes, and neither am I so passionate about Oriental Medicine that I'd quite my job and enroll myself as a freshmen again. To be honest, the idea of starting my academic career from scratch again just sounds to daunting. Now if I had the opportunity to get a degree in Taekwon-Do I would seriously consider it. Korea has a number of universities with Taekwon-Do as major; acutally, it is a major in Sport Science or Physical Education, while specialising in Taekwon-Do. There are about three universities that offers the course in English. It would even be better if I could work at a university teaching martial arts -- now that would be wonderful. Combining the job I like with my passion for the martial arts.

I'm planning to go to an art exhibit tomorrow. Either Greek sculptures or Rodin's sculptures. Maybe I should do it in historic sequence -- Classical idealism before naturalistic expressionism. Greek sculpture tomorrow and Rodin on Wednesday.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ek is wakker en daar is 'n uiltjie in my woonstel

Ek is wakker, maar ek weet nie hoekom nie. Dis na twee in die oggend. Maandagoggend. Ek hoef nie vroeg op te staan nie -- ek hoef geensins op te staan more indien ek nie wil nie. My enigste beplande prioriteit is eers more aand om agtuur. Ek kan dus slaap tot ses uur die middag indien ek sou woul

O ja; daar is iets anders wat ek more moet doen. Ek het 'n uiltjie opgetel. Die dingetjie is nog baie klein en sal beslis deur die katte gevang word indien ek dit op die blad voor my woonstelblok laat bly het. Die probleem met uile is dat hulle die beeld van hulle voerders inprent en die belemmer dan hulle kanse van rehabilitering in die toekoms. Wel dis die een probleem. Die ander probleem vir hierdie spesifieke uiltjie is dat dit deur my "gered" is, want ek het nie kos om vir die dingetjie te voer nie. Ek is grootliks 'n vegetariër. Dis nie dat ek nooit vleis eet nie. Ek eet wel sporadies vleis indien ek 'n ernstige behoefte daaraan het. Maar ek eet dit altyd buite my huis. Ek koop nooit vleis nie. Ek kan nie onthou wanneer die laaste keer was dat ek rou vleis gekoop het en gaargemaak het nie. Dit was jare gelede. Die punt is, daar is geen rou vleis in my huis nie en gevolglik kon ek die uiltjie niks voer nie. Ek het probeer om dit bietjie rou eier te gee maar was onsuksesvol. More gaan ek die uiltjie na 'n veerarts toe neem. Ek kan dit net eenvoudig by hulle aflaai -- die verantwoordelikheid onsermoniëel aan hulle oorhandig. Ek weet nie wat anders om met die gediertetjie aan te vang nie. Om dit hans groot te maak sal wreed wees want dit sal dan nooit gerehabiliteer kan word nie, en ek weet nie hoe lank ek in Korea gaan bly nie. Die verantwoordelikheid van 'n lewetjie moet nie ligtelik opgeneem word nie. Uile is nie goudvisse nie.

Ek's wakker. Ek het twee ure terug 'n bak roomys geëet omdat ek verveeld was. Ek wil nie bed toe gaan nie, want bed toe gaan is vervelig. Ek gaan maar 'n episode van Doctor Who kyk en daarna besluit wat ek dan gaan doen. Miskien is ek moeg teen dan.

'n Dieretuin. Daar is 'n dieretuin by 'n park oppad na die veearts wat ek oorweeg het. Dalk moet ek sommer net by die dieretuin stop en die uiltjie daar aflaai. Hulle sal seker weet wat om daarmee te maak. Maar die dieretuin sal die uil waarskynlik wil aanhou en nie rehabiliteer nie. Maar ek is ook nie so seker van die veearts nie. Veeartse in Korea is gewoonlik verbind aan dierewinkels en in Korea word die aardigste diere verkoop as troeteldiere. Neem ek die uiltjie na die veearts is daar geen waarborg dat die gerehabiliteer gaan word nie -- dit mag dalk as 'n troeteldier verkoop word!

En 'n wildedierhawe kan ek ook nie vind nie. Die Koreaanse Internetsoekenjins is nie uitlandervriendelik nie.

Moes ek die uiltjie maar buite op die sementblad gelos het sodat die katte hom kan vang?

Ek wil nie gaan slaap nie.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Sabbath

(Image Source Unknown)

I keep the Sabbath. Yes, with the Sabbath I mean the same thing that orthodox Jews mean – that period from Friday sunset until Saturday sunset. While I am partially of Jewish descent (on my father’s side), my reason for keeping the Sabbath is not cultural (even though there are many Sabbath-keepers in my family).

I keep the Sabbath because I came to believe in the Creator – the Source; the belief that some unfathomably magnificent entity is the Original Source, the First Mover, for all of creation. The only real religious practise that links directly with the Creator is the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a symbol for God’s creative (i.e. Creator) power. Unlike orthodox Jews, my Sabbath observance is much freer. While there are many things I tend to avoid doing on the Sabbath, these are all a choice – not something I believe will anger God if I do or don’t do on the Sabbath. Jesus explained: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

So what don’t I do on the Sabbath. Well, for one, I usually do not do my usual work on the Sabbath and I also avoid doing martial arts on the Sabbath. Many people have told me that since the martial arts is a hobby and a recreation, it seems appropriate to do on the Sabbath. I agree. However, the martial arts is a very big part of my life—a passion really. For this reason I need to put some boundaries in place in order to ensure that it does not become more important than it ought to; that it does not become an idol. Even innocent things can become bad if done in excess. Especially martial art tournaments are something I avoid on the Sabbath. A big part of Sabbath is to keep your mind focussed on spiritual things—on God. With tournaments it is almost impossible to keep focussed on the Spiritual. Tournaments are all about the self; about winning over an opponent. Such a competitive spirit is far removed from the peaceful Sabbath Spirit a Sabbath-keeper pursues.

So what do I do on the Sabbath? Well, for one, I relax. God invites us to relax on the Sabbath and I take it as a Heavenly ordained weekly “vacation.” Especially if I had a long week, or if I have coming deadlines, the Sabbath forces me to relax, to wind down, to recuperate. I would setup my environment for Sabbath differently than other days of the week. On Sabbath evenings (Friday nights) I especially like to dim the lights and may even burn some candles to create a relaxing ambiance. I would also avoid very rhythmic music, and instead listen to calmer music than what I may listen to during the rest of the week. If I’m close to a Sabbath keeping community I would attend church; otherwise I listen to or read spiritual material. I also enjoy spending social time visiting with loved ones and friends in relaxed settings. I may also use the relaxed hours of the Sabbath to do some letter writing to my loved ones. Sometimes the calmness of the Sabbath inspires me to write verses of beauty or draw something. I would give in to such inspiration, but keep in mind that these creative fervours stay moments of relaxation, not of productive exertions. And seeing as the Sabbath is a symbol for the Creator’s creative power, I sometimes enjoy being in God’s creation on the Sabbath; walking outside in nature and enjoying creation’s beauty. Or I’d just watch some programs on nature on my computer. The website Earth-Touch.Com provides beautiful nature footage which I enjoy watching. I may even watch a documentary about issues related to spiritual matters. Whenever I take an afternoon nap during the week I would feel guilty, but not so on the Sabbath. Taking a Sabbath afternoon nap is one of my great indulgences.

Sabbath is an inseparable part of my life. I sometimes wonder how other people get by in life without this once in a week “break from it all”; without this weekly blessing.

Happy Sabbath!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

I Took Up Taekkyeon Again


Since I suspended my formal training of Hapkido for the time being, I’ve taken up Taekkyeon again. I started with Taekkyeon on Monday and will be going to the dojang twice a week – Monday and Wednesday. The Taekkyeon gym is situated in Insadong, which is a tourist friendly street in Seoul, focused on mostly traditional Korean memorabilia, traditional teashops, and it seems also traditional martial arts.

I did Taekkyeon before, but stopped going for two reasons. The times clashed with my day job and my fellow practitioners were all old ladies. I don’t have anything against the elderly, it is just that after about two months of training my learning curve reached a plateau and I realized that it was not going to improve that much. One major reason being that the dojang caters for health enthusiasts, not for combat practitioners. If I wanted to learn about Taekkyeon’s martial applications I had to go to another school. Well at the time my program was already too full, so I just quit Taekkyeon for the time being. In the meantime, an opening in my program presented itself so I found a new Taekkyeon gym with the help of my Taekwon-Do instructor – it is the main Taekkyeon school in Seoul. Unfortunately, like with my Taekwon-Do school, it takes me more than an hour to commute from my home to the gym.

I’ve had two classes so far and have practically just practiced the basic stepping that is iconic of Taekkyeon. It is much more difficult than it looks, and it seems that my previous Taekkyeon exposure has taught me some wrong habits, which is somewhat hard to break. The instructor says that it takes about eight months to master the basic stepping. I understand the importance of building a sound foundation and basic training; however, I do hope that I’ll get the stepping right in less time.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Afrikaans/Koreaanse blog

Ek het 'n nuwe blog begin om my te help met my leer van Koreaans. Dit is 'n Afrikaans/Koreaanse blog. Indien jy lus het om my vordering te volg, besoek gerus Ek en Koreaans.

Maar nou gaan ek eers iets soek om te eet in my kombuis. Dit sal 'n kreatiewe soektog moet wees want ek het weke laas ordentlike inkopies gedoen. Miskien is dit die missie vir die dag -- kruideniersware. (Is "kruideniersware" reg gespel?)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

How to Swear in English

In the YouTube-video below a Korean teacher teaches his students some English swear words. If you are sensitive to bad language (whether in English or Korean, do not watch the video).



The instructor makes an important point: even if you don't use swear words yourself, it is important to know the swear words in the language you are studying in case someone is cussing at you. For this reason I bought the little book "Making Out in Korean" which lists the most common Korean swear words.



This is the only language book that supplies a list of swear words.

'n Lui Sondag

Dis ’n pragtige dag. Na dae van reën skyn die son weer. Dis baie warm, maar daar is ’n briesie. Dis die tipe dag waartydens ’n mens sonlig op jou gesig moet kry; ’n dag wat nie binneshuis gespandeer moet word nie. Nietemin kan ek myself nie genoegsaam opgewonde kry oor iets om êrens heen te gaan nie. Gister het ek die heeldag in Cheonju spandeer: treine gery, lekker kos geëet, ’n bootrit op Korea se grootste dam geneem, gekuier met vriende en vreemdes; ’n heerlike Sabbat geniet.

Vandag is die laaste dag van my werksverantwoordelikhede vir hierdie eerste semester van die jaar. Dis die laaste dag wat ek berykbaar moet wees vir ingeval daar studente is wat kwessies met hulle punte het. Dis dalk die rede hoekom ek nie die oemf het vir uitgaan nie. Dis asof die semester se druk nog oor my hang, die kettings van verantwoordelikheid nog om my enkels gedraai is – losserig, maar nietemin daar.

Ek sal moontlik die heeldag maar voor my rekenaar spandeer. Of my vloere was. Of erger nog, skottelgoed!

More is ’n nuwe dag. More begin my vakansie.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Dagdroom


Ek wens ek het ’n geliefde gehad vir wie ek die volgende woorde kon sê:

"Jy raak aan my en vir die eerste keer voel ek myself. Jy kyk na my en vir die eerste keer sien ek myself. Jou oë tas my en jou vingerpunte sien my en ek voel reg nes ek is, want jy het my lief. Want ek het jou lief."

Adam Ant -- "Stand and Deliver"

Ietsie uit die tagtigs . . .

Where's Karma-Ann Swanepoel?

What happened to Karma-Ann Swanepoel. Her official website is somewhat out dated.

The band Henry Ate was one of my favourite South African bands when I was a first or second year student at varsity. Since then, the lead singer Karma-Ann Swanepoel has moved to England, and later to America. I only have two of her albums -- the first two: "Slap in the Face" and "One Day Soon." In South Africa she was a national music star and her albums were easily available. Now that she is abroad, getting hold of her albums are rather difficult. At least I can get to listen to some of her stuff here or at her MySpace-page and at the Karma-Band YouTube channel. Of course, I can always try iTunes, but I do not support iTunes (for the same reason I don't do Facebook -- I don't like monopolies.)




My favourite Karma song is probably "Tuesday Afternoons" from the "One Day Soon"-album, unfortunately I couldn't find an online version to share with you.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Daejeon National Cemetery of Korean War Heroes and Patriotic Martyrs

This past Saturday I went with my Taekwon-Do instructor and his two siblings to Daejeon; first to attend a wedding of their nephew, and second to visit the grave of their father at the Daejeon National Cemetery. The cemetery is the official site for the burial of South Korea’s “war heroes” and “patriotic martyrs.” The fresh graves of the number of young sailors that recently perished during the Cheonan incident were clearly marked. It was sad to see the dates of birth of these young soldiers: 1988, 1989, 1990 . . .

Following are some photos that I took at the cemetery.