Friday, November 28, 2008


One of the kids in my elementary class saw this picture in his workbook, raised his hand and asked me "The Barack Obama has two wife?"

Transcontinental Thanksgiving - Granparents First Skype

This is my Grandmom Skyping for the first time ever. She is so excited that she goes and gets the angel food cake she made for Thanksgiving. After having an epiphany that she could share her baking skills with thousands of people online, she decided to start her own online baking show, "Thursday Afternoons with Josie." Grandmom plans to rival 91 year-old Clara and her YouTube cooking sensation, "Meals from the Depression."

I got to catch up with the entire fam and talk to Jordan about his new kitten, Oliver Dunbar [will post pictures once he sends them to me]. Nana [below] thinks I am "so trendy" using "all of this cool technology..."

Pop, looking dapper as always, just got off the highway in his handsome, dual-exhaust Buick LaCrosse.

Even though Granpop and I are in completely opposite time zones, we still manage to wake up at the same time. Me, from a good night's sleep. Him, from an afternoon cat-nap.

Nice to see everyone for the Holiday. Still wish I could get my hands on some cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and a Guinness. The rest of the Skyping adventures with the Berrys and the Mraziks can be seen here.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

1. Barack Obama Likes to Cook

Who needs chief campaign strategist David Axelrod when you've got a promo like this in your back pocket:

[He is very handsome. His name is Obama. He is very smart]

Barack Obama's popularity has a further reach than Manute Bol going for the last piece of cake. The Korean locals love Barry and do not hesitate to pass on their positive energy about the election. After asking where I am from and answering "United States," many Koreans will often respond with a two-thumbs-up "Obaaaamaa!"

The youngest elementary class that I teach [10 year-olds] were chanting his name in class the day that he was elected President. They refer to our President-Elect as "The Barack Obama" and they think he is much more handsome than "the old guy." The kids don't pay much attention to his foreign policy but they do fancy him an experienced cook and ice skater:

[<---- jeans] [1. Barack Obama likes to cook] I asked the kids to write 3 things about Obama. Most of them could only come up with one or two. I'm glad this student knows his number one priority about the most powerful man in the free world. Here are the rest of my student's drawings. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Green Update

As apartment 303 becomes a more civilized place to live with each passing week, there have been some natural additions to the green family. Here are the latest and greatest in my organic adventure series:

After a failed attempt at home to grow moss in my Dad's garden, I am now trying to transplant a small palette of moss that I picked up at Naejangsan onto this little rock garden that I zenned up last week. If this dies, I am going whip up a moss mixture and spread it onto the rock using the moss blender method. If that fails, then I might as well just call up Greg Buddha.

Here is the newest member of the plant family, just picked him up last week. I know that my buddy Jeremiah Curtiss had one of these plants in his room last year in 773 Ostrom and I took a liking to the species. After a swift repotting, the desk organizer [recycled egg carton] now has a cozy new neighbor.

This is my latest project. The seeds above are of the Persimmon Fruit [pictured below]. After placing the seeds into a period of cold stratification - simulating their natural dormancy - for the past three weeks, they are now incubating on my windowsill in the morning sun. I hope that they will sprout within the next several weeks, then I will be able to plant the seeds and anticipate healthy growth in my warm apartment deep into the spring.

The avocado cores are beginning to split. These guys have been hydrating for 3-4 weeks now and should be sprouting within the next two. Right now, the seed is beginning to split itself in half, from which roots and a stalk will begin to sprout.

In the news of splitting, the living rock is beginning a new growth pattern as well. Now that the window is shut, its central pod is opening up and the room has become warmer. As the split widens, a new pod will begin to sprout in an alternate direction from the plant's center and continue to replace old growth. someone please send me piece of pizza.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back to the Basics

Here are a few recent pages from my sketchbooks.

Larger images can be viewed here. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Painted Landscape

This weekend we hopped a 6:35 a.m. bus out of Gwangju and headed north for an hour to Naejangsan National Park. (For those of you planning a trip to the park from Gwangju, the bus runs from 6:35 a.m. to 7:50 p.m. and 13 times in between - the schedule can be found here). This park is located in the Jeollabuk Province (one of eight provinces in South Korea) and is one of Korea's twenty national parks (an English guide to the Korea National Park Service can be found here). Entrance to the park is 2,500 Won and lodging/ camping is available. However, I recommend that you plan this in advance if you are going to visit during a holiday or crowded autumn weekend.

Naejangsan is internationally know for having one of the most stunning array of autumn colors. With over 30 species of trees, photographers travel here from high, low, and medium for the chance to capture a rare palette of bold, natural beauty. The landscape looks almost as if an artist had masterfully dotted the mountainsides with their most vibrant colors: deep crimson, yellow ochre, hunter greens, olive green, burnt sienna, lemon and lime, pumpkin, and cadmium dark (no water).

Our direct destination was Baekyangsa, located in the southernmost entrance of the park. From there, we planned a 10 km hike from Baekyangsa Temple to Naejangsan in the northeast entrance of the park. This route takes you through 4 temples (Baekyangsa, Yaksaam, Guamsa, Naejangsa), up and down 3 mountain peaks (Baekhakbong, Sinseonbong 763m, Yeonjabong 675m), around Daegaje Reservoir, and gives you the option to explore multiple waterfalls and cable-car expeditions.

Although these peaks are not as high as those we can explore in the west, each area of the mountain range is unique from the other. Some are rocky and require a mindful ascent, others offer a more enjoyable winding ridge trail that is flanked on either side by low-lying bamboo growth. This park offers anything from a grueling trek to a pleasant day hike through shady groves, your call.

[Baekyangsa Temple, from above]

If you take your time exploring the temples, occassionally stopping to accept gifts of wine and tangerines from friendly Koreans, and break for scenic and nutritional intake - this hike can fill up an enjoyable 7 hours of your day.

Luckily, we got an early start before the gaggles of chattering Korean hikers had the chance to completely take over the park. After gearing up and stocking our water supply, we hit up Baekyangsa Temple before heading into the mountains. This temple was neatly spread between an idyllic autumn pond and the southern base of the park's mountain chain. We spent about an hour soaking in the natural beauty of the hundred year-old japanese maples before getting our tread on.

The rest of the day we spent hiking up and down a few of the park's more notable peaks. We were continuously surrounded by vibrant colors and there was always a chance to catch a stunning vista.

"It is like giving your eyes a drink."

At one point, we were even able to see Meudung Mountain off in the distance (this mountain is just outside of Gwangju) even though it was an hour's distance away.

[Meudung Mountain, in the distance]

I have to say that Koreans are the most giving of people. Caitlin and I must have left our hike with more food than we came with. It is not surprising to be handed off one or two tangerines from passing Koreans. They enjoy giving foreigners gifts for some chance of interaction, to practice their english, or just in the spirit of good will.

At one point in the hike, a Korean man was nice enough to share a couple swigs of his Makgulee [막걸리] wine with us. This is a traditional Korean wine that you will find common on most mountains and the reason why a 66 year-old Korean man had enough gusto to pass me on the ascent without shedding a glance. Either that or I just have yet to become a man?


Anyway, here are some pictures from the weekend in Naejangsan National Park. If you are privy to long hikes through vivid autumn mountainscapes and eating trail mix, then this is your spot. If not, then you can go hang out with this guy.

[what hanging out with a vegetarian will do to your diet]