Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 6.141: You can read Korean too!

I've never suggested to anyone that Korean is an easy language to learn. I tried a little when I first was involved in this project and I've picked up a few words and phrases as I've gone along, but I have tried to persuade people that learning to read the script is easy. In fact Hangul was invented by a 15th century king to make reading and writing accessible to the masses.

So here is everything you need to know:

There are 24 letters which are grouped by two, three or four into syllables. Syllables always start with a consonant and have a vowel next. They may end with another consonant (or occasionally two). In general consonants at the end of syllables are not voiced so g becomes k, d becomes t and b and p become m (just a closing of the lips at the end of a sound).

Here is the alphabet:
consonants
ㄱ g; ㅋ k
ㄴ n; ㄷ d; ㅌ t ㄹ r/l
ㅁ m; ㅂ b; ㅍ p
ㅅ s; ㅈ j; ㅊ ch
ㅇ */ng; ㅎ h (* ㅇ is silent at the start of a syllable)

vowels
ㅗ o in oh!
ㅜ u in lute
ㅡ u in but* this is properly pronounced with the mouth shaped to make an ee sound
ㅏ a in ah!
ㅓ o in got - sometimes strays towards u in but, but with an open mouth.
ㅣ ee

and that's it. But wait, you say, that's only 20 - quite right, the vowels with a short stroke can gain a second to become prefixed by a 'y' sound. Also, some consonants can be doubled to make them stronger and vowels are combined in pairs, but usually just read strung together ("wah" is made like this, for example: ㅘ) the only exceptions are:
ㅐ and ㅔwhich are basically 'e' as in bed and the double stroke form that are 'yeh' 

To read, start at the top left of the syllable cluster and read left-to-right, top-to-bottom and then move on to the next cluster to the right.

Often, reading like this is all you need as many products and businesses use English names transliterated into Hangul rather than real Korean ones. Here are some examples for you to practice on:

Basics first:
Then the essentials:

And here are three from the sign in the lift at the hotel:



The last one may feature in a blog post later in the week!

See, it may take some time but: 유 칸 리드 커리은!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 6.140: Waste not?

I've been musing on food waste today. The culture here is of many side-dishes placed on the table - refilled if required - these are neither ordered nor, necessarily finished. In addition, it is customary to leave something - presumably so that it is clear that you did not leave the table hungry. I wondered if this meant that more food is wasted in restaurants here than in the US - but I suspect the picture is more complicated.



Generally these side-dishes are pickled vegetables or small salads, sometimes with some squid or anchovies, but rarely any "high-value" items. The meat is generally served early in the meal - and is often all the meat that can be found on the animal, whether it is a whole chicken in a bowl or the very tasty but oddly shaped morsels of pork we ate tonight at a restaurant whose subtitle translates as "spicy leg and foot". At the end of the meal when appetites may be failing, generally what is served is rice or soup and noodles or both - by that time the meat is generally all or all-but gone.

Incidentally, the pictured food is a very delicious type of pancake - containing spring onions (scallions) and, in this case, some small pieces of octopus. The name, pajeon, refers to the onions rather than the pancake.  A similar dish containing mugwort - was similarly named after the vegetable and not given a name referring to the style of cooking.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 6.139: Prettier than January

Or March for that matter.

Late May in southern South Korea: 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 6.138: And he's off (again!)

Yes. Unbelievably, Korea is calling again.

As ever, I apologise for any posting disruption. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 6.137: On (the) parade...

Exile #2 stayed home with E5N1 (who was sick during the night but fine this morning) while I took the girls to see the Memorial Day parade. This is a great community event - and somehow I don't feel too much like a foreigner despite the patriotism on display.

The weather finally remembered that it was Memorial Day weekend - it was pretty much perfect for sitting out.


As ever, I have no difficulties clapping enthusiastically for all the firefighters.

Exile #4 - as is her habit - came over quite American.


While her sister was apparently gobsmacked by the fire trucks!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 6.136: Chill-out Sunday


We were invited to a cook-out for this afternoon about a week ago - it's a holiday weekend - Memorial Day - unofficial start of summer - perfect! Then the cold rain started on Friday and it didn't stop until sometime last night.

It was, in fact, still showery and cold when we showed up to tough it out on the deck. The first couple of hours were touch-and-go, occasional sheltering from passing showers and wishing we'd worn an extra layer. Then, finally, the clouds cleared and the sun came out and it felt like an evening to be sitting out.  Probably good acclimatisation for us for our June/July trip to the U.K.!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 6.135: Home, homework

It seems as if it's been raining for days. In fact, it's more like 36 hours or so, but it's been quite relentless.

I got very wet on a short run this morning, but apart from that and a quick outing to Walmart - mainly for E5N1 and Exile #4 to get a haircut - we have been home today.

On the plus side, this means that Exile #4 has made some progress on her "Country assignment" - which is about England (I think she's dropping some hints about our upcoming visit via her school work, "If you go to England, don't forget to see Big Ben,..." I'm dismissing my inner pedant, but I didn't know that the clock tower now has a name of its own until today.

I also saw E5N1's research sheet on an African animal - I rather like it:


I think that sums it up really.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 6.134: Patterns and patience

Here is Exile #4 last weekend - very pleased with herself after working on and off for half the day to stack the Qwirkle tiles in these pyramids:


Not only was it a fine motor-skills test - many times I heard the clatter of tumbling tiles - but she also matched the colour positions in all six towers.  She's quite dedicated at times!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 6.133: Exile #3's turn...

It was Exile #3's night in the spotlight. We were at school for her final 5th Grade concert. The night started with the orchestra (strings only) and then, Exile #3 took the stage with the others in the band.

This was our view of her for the most part:


although she did emerge at the end:


Then after a short break, it was the choir's musical performance - I feel like we've been building up to this for months!


Here's her piece in character as 'Jill':



And here's the curtain call:


What a great couple of evenings!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 6.132: Tale as old as time...

He summons up the courage to say hello to the TV star, then spills coffee grounds on her sandals...  Yes, that happened. Sorry Innae Park!  Sadly, not the first time I made a big impression on the local news folks.


Apart from that moment, we had a very lovely evening at Exile #4's piano recital. Her pieces (including the Beauty and the Beast theme) are embedded below.





Didn't she do well?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 6.131: Apparently eligible

I received a letter from AARP (isn't that an old-people thing?)...

"Our records show...you are fully eligible."


Click...American Association of Retired Persons...click...click..."anyone aged 50 or older can join"...

Not quite there yet AARP, but thanks!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 6.130: He had a stomic egg

It's nearly phonetic...


...but it does leave me wondering what my son thinks the problem is when someone says they have one!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 6.129: Pulled pork and what?

There's not all that much to report from today - a 12 mile run (me), two birthday parties (E5N1), a girl scout cake walk (Exile #3 with Exile #2).

The reason it was such a quiet day(!) was that I was home making pulled pork. This is an all day affair - it started at around 9 am with heating the charcoal and the meat was just ready in time for dinner a little after 6 pm.

It was a new recipe - from my Weber's Smoke book and worked rather well.  I much prefer doing the post-smoking finish of the meat wrapped in foil in the grill than taking it out and bringing it in to finish in the oven as one of the other recipes I used suggests.  I also like having grill temperature and meat temperature targets to work to - I'm a data-driven kind of guy I suppose.

On another topic, quite unrelated to today's activities - in fact related to yesterday's - can anyone guess what this is:


I have punctuation smiles to award to amusing answers and some more photos to reward a correct one!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 6.128: Five Rivers and a lively woodchuck

We went to Five Rivers this morning.  We chose the Vlomankill Trail because it had been a while - and this time of year when it is ice-free and not-too-buggy is definitely its most pleasant time.

Once again Exile #4 and E5N1 did some paddling (it's getting less unthinkable now - but the rest of us kept our feet dry).  There were interesting broken rocks on the beach - two are pictured.  Also, E5N1 wrote on some other stones - a message for Mom (with a heart) and one for me (with an exclamation mark)!

On the way back - a lively woodchuck crossed our path.


Here are some of the other things that caught my eye:


Friday, May 17, 2013

Day 6.127: A beautiful evening

It hadn't been the best of weeks at work, so I didn't need much cajoling to leave this afternoon to attend a BBQ at the house of new church acquaintances. It was generally very lovely indeed - the perfect evening weather-wise friendly and interesting people, plenty of kids to run around with - with shared supervising among all the parents.


The location was pretty stunning too!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 6.126: This too shall pass

Well, I don't do this very often, but I didn't have much to say tonight - I could tell you about my run (6.5 miles - fine) or work (the day after yesterday - also basically fine) but why do that when I can show remind you of this video (prompted by a comment on yesterday's post)?  Or - if you're one of the three people in the world who hasn't seen it yet - you're welcome.

Here it is embedded (probably after an advert) but you might want to click through to see it in full-screen engineering geeky loveliness:



Let it go. This too shall pass.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 6.125: I need a doctor...

I'm not sick. Very healthy in fact - running is going well. Work...well let's just say not so much.

Not quite bad enough to need to be rescued by this young/old man (currently living on my desk) though!


Not so far anyway!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 6.124: Did she D.A.R.E.?


I went in late to work today in order to catch Exile #3's D.A.R.E. graduation. I've been a bit of a D.A.R.E. skeptic since I started hearing about it from parents of older children.  It seemed to me that by lumping all drugs, tobacco and alcohol together they were liable to produce cognitive dissonance for the kids, most of whom (mine included) live in houses where alcohol is consumed fairly regularly.

I may also have been partially informed by South Park I suppose:


Anyway, whether it was the changes in curriculum this year, or my daughter's character, or her knowledge of my skepticism I don't know, but it seems to have been a great programme, focusing on making good decisions, getting help and being good to others.

Her graduation certificate says that she has made a commitment to avoid drugs and violence - now that I can wholeheartedly support!


I'm in no hurry for her to start experimenting with alcohol either (despite what I said before) but I don't want her to worry that her parents are destroying our brains either.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Day 6.123: Want something from my store?

This went on for several days recently - changing in content, adding signs and names, even - at one point - becoming just one store in a mall.


On Saturday morning we were given a random selection of home-made bank notes to spend. Generous - although the denominations resulted in some very expensive snacks.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day 6.122: Mom's day & s'more

When I got back from my run the kids were already drowning Exile #2 in pictures, poems, cards and other artworks. I'll try and dig some out to share with you because they were remarkable in various ways. This was despite the fact that I was up at 5.30, out of the house at 6 and back by 7.30! I guess I failed to make sure she got a lie-in as a Mother's Day treat!

The kids did make pancakes for breakfast (with a bit of help from me - and a gluten-free pancake mix) and I got the grill going for our first 2013 cook-out at dinner time. We kept it simple with burgers and hot dogs  and of course...s'mores!


Ours on the left, Exile #2's one on the right with home-made-today GF graham crackers.

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