Archive for January, 2012

A month in Gangwondo… and where Surprises is going in 2012

January 30, 2012

Hi all.  It’s been so long.  In November, I was either busy with nanowrimo or procrastinating about not being busy with it.  In December, I guess I was busy with exams then camp.  In January, I was at camp, then sorta rootless for a while.

I remain sorta rootless now, but do feel I have time to blog.

Let’s see. I learned from Nanowrimo and really should discuss it more at my creativity blog.  At my university, I was the first person done the grading and had my results entered before any other.  Sadly, I am quite proud of that.

The camp went well, although it squeezed Christmas quite a bit. We had Christmas on Dec 20 and I was on the road to Gangwondo on the 23rd.

For more about my time in Gangwon, visit my Gangwon blog for January.  But first, here is a taste:

There should be a video from Boribong – the peak of Chiaksan National Park, as well.  I’ll put that up when I can. Added later: here it is!

You might reasonably be wondering what I mean by ‘rootless’.  Well, we are apartment warming for some family who will move soon.  As near as I can learn, it is good luck to have a family move into an apartment as soon as it is bought.  My in-laws are still working and their current apartment is still rented until the end of February, so we are spending the nights there.  Does that sound strange to you?  Good.  I still haven’t figured it out.  Anyway, we are commuting each night and morning.

As many have, I made some resolutions for this year and am already behind on them- I’m blaming the ‘rootless’ thing.  One goal is to write 4000 words a week on my blogs.  Now, you are unlikely to see 4,000 words in a given week here, but here or at Gangwon Notes or the Creativiti Project, it should happen.

It is tough to say what you will find on this blog.  I remain a fan of human-powered travel, environmental issues, and teaching ESL but have learned enough to know I don’t know all that much about these fields.  If I write about ESL, I want to do more than post a link and add one sentence of commentary.

I am also looking for extra work.  My university pays me a great wage per hour- I get paid for February and work zero hours – but not so much per year.  As a family man, I need to find some new sources of income.  It is legal for me to do so, but I probably won’t go into many further details on the blog.

In the last four months of 2011, I somehow lost 3 kg and saw 89.—kg for the first time in many years.  I want more of that -well, less of that, I guess.  When I am more settled, it will be time to exercise regularly again.  Until that time, I plan to hike when possible.  My hiking in Gangwon Province was great and its time to do more of it.

So, come here often.  I expect there will be more for you to read this year than last.


rats and badminton

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, Everyone!

My post today isn’t about the New Year, but about two events that occurred this past week.  They have a surprising number of parallels.

First, on Wednesday night I played badminton for the first time in ages.  My friend Tom invited me to play.  I am a terrible badminton player (indeed, this is true for most team sports) but thought a friendly game would be fun.

It turned out I had an edge, a wonderful advantage.  Tom’s shoes just didn’t agree with the gym floor.  For whatever reason, he had almost no traction and I did.  To win a point against him, all I needed to do was to shoot to one side then the other, or anyway to shoot where he was not and he would be unable to get into position.

Sounds simple, right?  It did work a few times despite Tom’s long arms.  There were a few occasions where I did get him to the left side then forced him to run unsuccessfully to the other side chasing (shuttle)cock.

For the most part though, I just kept returning the shuttlecock to the middle of the court.  Sometimes this was because I was reaching a distant or fast shuttlecock and didn’t have time to aim.  Even when I did have time to aim, and tried to deliberately choose to angle the racket, it still somehow went to the middle.  Many times I just couldn’t avoid placing the shuttlecock right where Tom was standing.

Two nights later, I received a phone call from Tom.  He was standing at the stairwell on the third floor and saw a rat on the stairs.  He wanted my help getting rid of the rat.

He was surprised when I asked if we were going to trap and stomp on it. He advocated a more humane approach. Hey, I’ve been working on a farm all summer; killing a nuisance rat made sense to me.

His plan turned out to be much more fun and I’m glad we kinda followed it.

I collected some broom, a long-handled mop and a box to hold the rat.  I remained on the third floor while Tom went out a fire escape to the the ground floor and re-entered the building.  His plan was to climb the stairs so we could trap the rat between us and somehow get it into the box.

While Tom was gone though, the rat made a run for it down the stairs.  I closed the doors at the top of the stairwell and followed it.  At the second floor, I had a problem.  Did I search out the second floor or keep descending? Tom still had not reappeared.

Splitting the difference, I closed the doors at the stairwell and continued down.  Upon meeting Tom I explained things and looked for the rat.  On the second floor, we opened the doors, entered, then reclosed the doors.  We followed the hall to the right to the end and saw nothing.  Heading to the left, we checked under a sofa in the hallway.  I have to say Tom jumped quite amusingly when loose fabric fluttered out from under the sofa.

As we walked, the motion sensor lights turned on so we could see where we were but not far ahead.  Tom saw a shadow and had time to question if that was the rat before we saw that it was.

Tom bravely advanced with the box while I remained a distance behind him with the mop.  My job was to keep the rat from passing us in the corridor.

The rat did everything right.  In seeing that the hallway ended and there was no escape, it ran back at us, keeping to the wall.  It did not attack but did unhesitatingly try for freedom.

It passed Tom and I had to stop it.  I shoved the mop head at the rat and knocked it flying back to the end of the corridor: a perfect move!

The same thing happened again, but just as I was unable to aim that shuttlecock, I was unable to aim this rat.  I knocked it toward the wall, but centred it, right to where Tom was standing.  It struck Tom’s legs and he danced trying to get away in the narrow corridor but also place himself to drop the box.

This happened many times.  The rat escaped Tom and I knocked it back, usually into Tom’s legs.  He danced and skittered trying to keep his distance but also to slam the box down.  I was quite comfortable and the rat never got closer than a meter and a half to me.  I lined up the mop and knocked that rat back.  There was no sense of impact and I think the mop was cushioned enough that the rat wasn’t injured by being pushed back.

The whole melee lasted a minute or less, but each iteration was only a few seconds long so I’m describing ten or more repetitions.  Finally, Tom got the box on the rat, we found a second piece of cardboard to slip under and provide a floor to the trap and Tom carried out the rat some distance to release it.  While he was away, I relived the events and tried to stop laughing.

As a great ending to the story, Tom received a phone call -his phone was in his pant pocket and on vibrate- and he nearly freaked out.

I am tempted to catch a rat now and bring it back so Tom and I can play some more.