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Abandoned Electronics

Abandoned Electronics 2

I don’t look like a thief.

How do I know? Because people incessantly abandon their pricey belongings while sitting near me in cafes. They don’t leave for only a few seconds, but for thirty or even sixty minutes. Some of this is cultural, but given that people from all walks of life do it…

The photos above were taken as proof. (I have more.)

Do people do this where you live?

*Pictures taken with iPhone 5 (Pic Jointer app) and quickly edited in Photoshop CC.

P.S. I also must look really friendly as I’m at a cafe now and some kids decided to join my long table and sit right beside me with their iPads and Macbooks. XD There are spots elsewhere.


What I Am Watching and Reading and Doing and Things


The cherry blossoms in my area have begun to bloom: it’s spring, even if the temperature stays obnoxiously close to 0°C/32°F. I’m looking forward to warmer weather and lots of bike rides. I’m lucky to live in a city with scenic bike paths. You can even follow them with a street view camera on Naver. In Korea, Naver Maps > Google Maps.


I watch Korean dramas because they’re entertaining and good for my Korean. Recently, I’ve been sticking to atypical ones, but this time I’ve gone for a Korean Drama™. It’s crazy and strongly flavored with makjang. This isn’t exactly it, but the basic premise: A brother writes his sister letters, but she hasn’t been getting them because her family keeps them from her and she’s blind. The siblings don’t live together because of serious drama in their family. Dad hooked up with a secretary. At any rate, the day a letter falls into her hands, she goes to find her brother. She finds her brother’s friend with the same name instead. Her brother’s friend is being pursued by the police while he reads the letter to her because his girlfriend decides to put him in jail for a year as she can’t count on him to not cheat on her while she’s overseas. Instead of just getting arrested, he runs from the police. While he’s running, his friend (the girl’s brother) follows him and gets hit by a car and dies. At the same, she gets a phone call telling her that her father’s in trouble. Her brother is dead in front of her but she doesn’t know because she can’t see. Anyway, she’s rich and her father was the CEO of a company. After a year, her brother’s friend gets out of jail and he pretends to be her brother so he can take her money. That’s how 그 겨울, 바람이 분다 (That Winter, the Wind Blows) begins.

Normally, I don’t have a high tolerance for cram-in-every-possible-cliche-we-can dramas, but there’s something about this one that has my attention. Years ago, I watched a series with amnesia, kidnapping, getting hit by a car, blindness, suicide, a terminal disease, mistaken identity, Prince Charming, Candy Girl/Cinderella, a love triangle, and death—it was too much. Its gimmicks quickly stopped being shocking and became annoying. Even though the one I’m watching now has a car accident, death, blindness … within its first sixty minutes as long as it doesn’t go as far as the other, I think I’ll be okay.


I’ve been reading Korean short stories and things about graduate school, because I’m applying this month. I also read Holes. It’s a children’s book, but I enjoyed it immensely. I am a huge sucker for stories that aren’t in chronological order and feature multiple view points.

Doing (for)

I’ve moved and backdated two sets of photos from Flickr here: cat cafe (2011) and Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo (2009).


What*s Up?

A couple of random things:

FIRST—I’m thinking about going to Ghana in 2014.

While thinking about that and while looking at videos on Africa, I found this gem. I want to learn how to make proper, well gorgeous, videos with my DSLR like this.

RWANDA from MAMMOTH on Vimeo.

SECOND. I passed my Korean test (TOPIK) with the score I wanted, a 4!

How I passed: I watched Korean TV for at least 1.5 hours a week for an entire year. I studied a little bit every 3-4 months (no more than an average of 20 hours a month, including TV time). I crammed during the month of the test.

Despite my waffling in posts here, I am a visual learner. During the last two weeks before the exam, I learned more than 875 words—yeah, it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had—which probably made all the difference in the world. About 200 of those 875 terms were learned two days before the test. After that, I just reviewed to make sure I was retaining them. I was. My retention rate was 97%.

Most of those words were rather technical (e.g. nuclear energy, division between rich/poor, low birth rate) but I’m always happy when I can expand my vocabulary and they appear often enough in the news. Moving forward, I hope to do a lot of reading. When it comes to language learning, I’m all about input (reading + listening) as it makes for a strong foundation. The rest seems to come fairly naturally.


50k words in a month is easy

I participated in National Novel Writing Month and wrote slightly more than fifty thousand words of fiction during November.

Even though the screen shot above is of my story, I find the picture a little intimidating. It makes my-still-unnamed-tale look as if it is a massive project. It never felt like that while I was writing it perhaps because I used Scrivener (which is an amazing program for working with long documents) rather than Word.

Regardless, after having completed the challenge, my primary impression of it is this: it is easy. If you can meet the following two requirements, you too can write fifty thousand words of fiction in a month.

The first thing you need is a vague story idea.
The second is time. But it’s not a lot of time, just about 90 minutes almost every day. I’ll even go so far as to say that if you devoted two hours to writing—take note: not to editing and not to thinking about writing, but to actually writing—every day, you would be hard-pressed not to reach that magical number of fifty thousand in a month. It’s just that easy.

And that leads me to one of NaNo’s less thrilling aspects. The challenge has absolutely nothing to do with quality and everything to do with word count. NaNo is fundamentally not about producing something matters, being thoughtful, or even just rethinking parts of one’s story so that it’s better. Any writing challenge that does nothing to address, not so much quality, but revision is a bit wtf. Revision is an essential part of writing and it’s hard; writing something with substance is likewise hard. But, again, NaNo doesn’t care about those important things. It’s only about how many words one can vomit out of her head. That’s a huge problem, but everyone has to start somewhere and for those who have trouble with simply writing habitually, NaNo does help with that.

At any rate, a couple weeks ago, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It was much better than I thought it would be, but I had low expectations. I like it because it was easy to read, extraordinarily interesting, and not at all misogynistic. I wish that they’d stuck with the original title in English, Men Who Hate Women, but … Anyway, along with the story, I found the author’s experiences and motivations for writing the trilogy interesting. As a teenager he witnessed a violent sexual crime and did nothing to stop it.

I read five books in November and I’m looking for another to read fairly soon. I may finish Larsson’s trilogy or go for another from the short list I created in May. I love suggestions and am always open to them—it will probably just take me a while to get around to what’s suggested.

At this moment, I’m strongly considering picking one or maybe even some the following:

Ambitions, Whimsical

Keeping Delusions of Grandeur to a Minimum

Last week, I got a piano teacher and a piano. The piano is digital because the ability to play in the wee hours of the morning without disturbing anyone was far too good to pass up—it increases the likelihood of my practicing by about 100%.

After fewer than a dozen hours of practice and fewer than five days of owning a piano, this is where I am.

I’ve got a long, so terribly long, journey ahead of me and I’m only where I am today because I played the violin for six years. Even though I stopped playing it eleven years ago, I don’t have much trouble reading music. Still, this is going to take years. I hope I stay the course.

As far as improving goes, I don’t intend to measure my progress in pieces or levels, but in hours. More than talent, I think the piano is an instrument that takes time. After so many hundreds of hours of sensible practice, it’s only possible to suck so much, right? :) Obviously, there are other factors involved when it comes to things like becoming the next Mozart, but I’m not trying to do that. I just want to play a song that sounds like a song and not like half a song or a dumbed down version of a song.

Wish me good luck by telling me to play or in other words to practice.