Thursday, September 28, 2023

poetry repost

One of my favorite poems of all time, authored years ago by yours truly:


the doctor said
don't you pick those scabs
so I
pick pick pick
and I
pluck pluck pluck
then I
lick lick lick
and I
suck suck suck
so the doc says STOP
and I say OK
then I
lick lick lick
and I
pick pick pick

the Hollywood strikes are ending, but Disney loses

Wisdom from Gary at Nerdrotic:


I remember the joke from "Raising Arizona." Criminals Gale and Evelle, two brothers, have stolen one of the Arizona quintuplets. They stop at a convenience store, with Evelle looking for balloons to give to the tyke.

"These blow up into funny shapes at all?" asks Evelle, holding up a bag of balloons.

"Well, no. Unless round is funny," says the shopkeeper.

Oh, but balloons are so, so much more.

jiu-jitsu black belt takes down criminal

Haw haw.

those nutty enviro-activists

Day 1 of the Chuseok walk

Rise and shine! In theory, I got up at 5:00 this morning and was on the road by 5:30, give or take 15 minutes. Today's walk starts from my motel; it's about 3 km to the official Four Rivers trail starting point, 28 km from the start to Gayang Station, then another kilometer or two to my motel in western Seoul—about 32K in all.* If I remember to, I'll post information from my pedometer and from MapMywalk (an app that I've barely used since that first time).

There'll be a fuller blog post this evening.


*But as this entry points out, I actually have to wake up earlier and take the subway to a point that's close to the starting point. Add another 3K to walk from my motel to the subway station, so it's really going to be a 35K walk to start this whole thing off.

I'd forgotten about that. It's been a few years.

UPDATE: I was up at 4:15 a.m. and out the door by 4:45. When I got to Geomam Station, the train didn't arrive until 5:55.


Arrived in Incheon pretty late after a series of delays and disasters. Didn't arrive until just before 10 p.m., then got to my motel (the Grand! W50,000 a night, which is a bit on the steep side, but not shockingly so).

I belatedly rediscovered something I had forgotten: the buckle of the leather belt in my Gregory backpack's belt harness (I'm too fat to use the backpack's own native belt harness) is broken. I'd forgotten all about that. Basically, the backpack is currently unusable, which is a shame because I'd packed it full, drinks and all, and weighed it: 12 kg, which is light—about the weight of an infant that's a few months old. Having relearned that I couldn't use the Gregory, I switched to a smaller pack and filled it with half of my stuff, leaving out the camping gear. The result was a 6-kilo pack, which I suppose was better than nothing. So that's what I'm using for this trip, carrying only the necessities. 

Another delay happened because I realized I had a few housecleaning chores to take care of. While my apartment never gets roaches and rarely gets mosquitoes, it does get fruit flies, so I had to do all my dishes, rinse out the drain trap, and make sure there was no exposed food waste to attract any pests.

I also had left my portable cell-phone charger at the office, so I had to stop by there to pick the charger up. Now, some motels come equipped with things like WiFi and charger cables, but some don't, so it's always good to be prepared. Hence the need for my charger.

As a result of all these delays, I left for Incheon more than an hour later than I'd wanted to. The subway ride included two transfers, and the final two segments of the ride west were crowded, presumably with holiday people going to Incheon to see family. Upon arrival at Geomam Station, I had a nearly 3K uphill walk to the nearest motel. Every time I've come here, I've stayed at a different motel. I don't know why. They're all generically good; I find them to be a good way to start the Four Rivers journey. 

I'll be waking up at 4:15 a.m. and out the door by 4:45. I'm not getting much sleep tonight as I switch to morning-person mode, but I'll do what I usually do in such cases: find a quiet, shady place to take a few naps along the way. 

Here are a few random pics taken tonight:

A clever bit of graphic design: letters forming a cow's face. 

The French says, "A house of rarity."

a Grand Hotel sign... and my pants

bed, backpack, window

humble fridge

At least Gwenyth Paltrow's head isn't in there.

Righto—more later! Time to sleep a little. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

today's luncheon

It was a good luncheon. My Korean coworker didn't throw anything away this time. Basically, lunch was a strange combination of hot dogs and pie—foods that I don't normally associate with each other. But the boss was in the mood for these two things, and I am but to serve. The boss brought the dogs and some not-homemade sauerkraut; I bought the buns, and I made two pies: apple and chocolate. The boss tried both and liked them despite how deformed the chocolate pie turned out to be. 

Apple pie: I ate the burned part, and it was fine.

Small, tight buns cannot contain massive sausages.

The chocolate pie, which should have been fridged. 

my burned-but-tasty piece of pie

The filling caved in a bit, but not too much.

Despite being soft and mushy, the chocolate pie held its shape after I took a slice.

more or less held its shape

I really should have refrigerated the chocolate pie until it was ready to serve. Leaving it out during the hot-dog course was a mistake: despite the four sheets of gelatine I added to bolster the magic coagulants in the sugarless pudding mix I used, the pie wasn't as firm as a panna cotta. Still, the pie tasted fine. Where it fell down was (literally) the texture. Note to self: practice chocolate pies before serving them to unwitting officemates. And maybe make the pies the classic way next time. Overall, though, the pie had the right balance of chocolates. I even used a bit of cocoa mass, which is the purest of pure chocolate, but because I added sugar and cream, the impact of the mass was blunted. 

Everyone enjoyed the hot dogs; both the boss and coworker complimented the chili. As I predicted, cooking six dogs was enough: I ate three; the boss ate two, and my skinny Korean coworker ate only one. These were the pornographically huge Kirkland pork dinner franks, so my Korean coworker cut his up into three pieces. 

With nothing being thrown in the garbage, I'll call this luncheon a win. I have to think of what to do for October before I leave on my long trek. I have some ideas. 

switching to walk-blog mode

I'll be blogging my walk from Incheon to Yangpyeong in approximately the style I'll be using when I do the Four Rivers walk in earnest starting on October 14. What this means is that I'll take a whole slew of photos as I go, but I'll initially put up only ten per day. Once I'm back from the Chuseok walk, I'll slap up the rest of the photos for the people patient enough to go through each of the daily photo essays.

This very post was scheduled to appear at 9:30 p.m. today (Wednesday). Depending on how early or late I left work, I might already be in Incheon, crashing at a motel, with the plan to wake up at 5:00 a.m. and be out walking by 5:30. Thursday's going to suck because it'll be a bit hot, but the rest of the weekend is slated to be awesome, with max temps descending from the high to mid-70s (26º to 23ºC), and no rain. Finally: some real, daytime walking weather! I'm looking forward to this. And it's been a few years since I had a full pack on my back.

diabetes stats

And right after a bread post, no less!

I was sure the USA would have won this hands-down:

We're fourth place behind Pakistan? Oh, the shame. Work harder, fellow Americans!

But that's raw numbers, not percentages. This is more like it (from 2015):

New and detailed data from the new International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas, released at this week’s World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver, Canada (Nov 30-Dec 4) reveals that, unsurprisingly, the United States has the highest prevalence (11% of the population aged 20-79 years) of diabetes among developed nations. This league table includes countries of the European Union plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Israel, Andorra, Norway, Switzerland, and the U.S. itself.

And in terms of estimates of absolute numbers of people with diabetes in these nations, the U.S., with almost 30 million people with diabetes, has around two thirds the number of cases of all the other 37 nations in the developed nation league combined (46 million).

In terms of prevalence, Singapore finished a close second to the U.S. (10.5%), followed by Malta (10%), Portugal (10%), and Cyprus (9.5%) in 3rd, 4th, and 5th place respectively. The countries with the lowest estimated prevalence in the 38 nation league were (lowest first), Lithuania, Estonia, and Ireland (all around 4%), followed by Sweden, Luxembourg, the U.K., and Australia (all around 5%). Canada, the host nation for the World Diabetes Congress, has the 12th highest prevalence, at 7%.

"5 minute" baguettes

I'm going to have to try this. It looks primitively rustic, but plausibly good.

This could prove to be revolutionary.

ADDENDUM: the "five minutes" refers to the amount of actual work you do, not to the amount of time needed to make and bake the bread. The total making/baking time comes out to several hours. This is ideally an all-night process.

a cute wall of flesh

A nice rendering of the voices in my head.

do you agree with Neil or with Konstantin?

I side more with Konstantin when it comes to the moral issues surrounding trans rights.

sometimes, I hate Apple

Putting aside the question of Apple's corporate wokeness and its use of Chinese slave labor to make its products (a fact roundly roasted by Ricky Gervais a couple years back), I've been, in my home life, an Apple loyalist since high school (Apple IIc) if not before. These days, my desktop computer is a large, 2019 iMac with a 27-inch screen—as large as some of the smaller home TVs of yore. Generally speaking, I enjoy using this computer, built atop the bones of suicidal Chinese laborers, but every once in a while, Apple does things that annoy me. This thought was triggered by something that happened only a few minutes ago: another software update. Barely two weeks ago, Apple flagged me with a software update for my then-current operating system, Ventura 13.5. The update was for 13.6, which I numbly and obediently installed (OS installation means you can't use the computer for the better part of an hour, so you're probably better off performing the installation right before you go to sleep). Today, though—just a few minutes ago, in fact—I was flagged again with another OS update, this time for a completely new OS called Sonoma (14.0—yay?), filled with all sorts of newfangled features I will probably never use. 

These days, I suspect that the lifespan of a computer is determined more by its hardware than by its software. The software continues to advance and accelerate, and the hardware is "pre-built" to have a bit of flexibility in that regard: you can indeed upgrade your OS multiple times. But only up to a point: somewhere in the future waits the OS that will be so advanced and so memory-intensive that your computer's hardware simply won't be able to handle it. It's a bit like how one's aging brain becomes increasingly unable to handle the rapid acceleration of modern global culture—a problem that didn't afflict people centuries ago, at least not as badly as it does now. Sure, you might be able to upgrade your hardware—adding memory, maybe even switching out your processor—but even those upgrades have limits, just like starting to exercise late in life has only limited benefits compared to exercising from one's youth. Eventually, though, even those physical upgrades reach their limits, and you have to get a new computer. Because of the software. Software drives everything. No "drive" pun intended.

Since I'm leaving for Incheon later today, I suppose I might as well set my computer to updating. It's a helpless feeling to be so at the mercy of one's surrounding culture. I pretty much have to update if I don't want to fall behind. Things wear out fast these days, especially tech-y things. It's enough to make me yearn for items of comparative durability: knives that last for years and only need sharpening, etc.

I've got an apple pie baking right now. Started before 10 a.m. to give the pie time to cool down before I go to work. Luncheon today: hot dogs and toppings, apple pie, and—if it's any good—a chocolate "pie" that I also whipped up last night. I added too much butter to the Oreo crust, so when I baked the "pie," the crust shrank into itself and turned from a pie-plate-shaped circle to a flat, pizza-crust-like disk. I shrugged and transferred the crust to a cake pan with straight, vertical sides, then poured the pie filling atop it, letting it set in the fridge like a side-crustless cheesecake. There may be luncheon photos later. We'll see. I'm proud of my hot-dog chili.

Vivek and I are on the same wavelength

I suspect that Vivek Ramaswamy is going to get flak for advocating an economic pivot toward India because he's ethnically Indian, but I don't care what race of politician advocates for this: I'm all in. It's a solid policy. Pivot away from China and pivot toward India. 

The reply I've heard to this idea is that India is rife with corruption, but at this point, all big governments are rife with corruption, and it's something of a joke when one government points out the corruption of another. (To be fair, I'm guilty of playing this game myself.) 

True: there are degrees of corruption, but I don't possess a god's-eye perspective on the matter, so I can't say which government is the most corrupt. (A solid metric would have to start off by defining what corruption is.) Anyway, below is a short video commentary on Ramaswamy's modest proposal:

I should note that the policy of pivoting away from China and toward India has been kicked around on Instapundit for years, with varying degrees of acceptance and rejection, so this isn't exactly a new idea, nor is it really original to Vivek. I'm just glad he supports it.

Icy Mike vs. Blackie Chan

Icy Mike found out about Blackie Chan, who claims he learned how to fight from Icy Mike's YouTube channel. Can a person get good at fighting just by watching a YouTube channel and practicing alone? You've probably got to have a load of natural skill.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Tulsi speaks out

bus tix failure and Plan B

After work, I went to Express Bus Terminal Station, marched up to the Express Bus Terminal ticket area, and tried to get myself a ticket to Sangju for either tomorrow (Wed) or the next day (Thu). The machine said there were a few tickets for tomorrow morning, but I'm working tomorrow, so leaving in the morning isn't an option. Otherwise, tomorrow afternoon and all day on Thursday, there are no tickets at all: everything came up maejin/매진, i.e., sold out.

No sweat: we just move to Plan B. Always have a Plan B. Instead of Sangju-Andong, I'll do the first four days of the Four Rivers walk as a practice walk: a backpack on my back, my new Skechers on my feet, a full load of equipment inside the pack, a supply of water, and a backup pair of shoes in case the Skechers decide to give up the ghost. What's good is that I really like the first four days of the Four Rivers path, so this'll be fun. It'll also be a longer distance: 120 km as opposed to the mere 90 km of the Sangju-to-Andong route.

This means that I'll have to leave tomorrow night because I'm meeting my buddy Tom on October 2, which is a Monday. So the schedule is:

Wednesday night (9/27): train out to Incheon
Thursday (9/28): walk from Incheon to Gayang Station (western Seoul), 32-33K
Friday (9/29): walk from Gayang Station to my own apartment, 30K
Saturday (9/30): walk from my apartment to Hanam City, 26K
Sunday (10/1): big-ass walk from Hanam to Yangpyeong, 35K
Monday (10/2): meet Tom

That ought to be a great test for my new shoes: I'll be encumbered and walking long-ish distances every day for several days in a row. And by staying local, I don't have to worry about Chuseok traffic. I can just hop on a subway and head out to Incheon, and when I'm done on Sunday, 10/1, I can eat lunch in Yangpyeong and take the subway back to Seoul. Easy peasy.

Sangju-Andong can wait for another time.

Honest Trailers takes on "Barbie"

This is a job for... Epic Voice!

off to buy bus tix

With this being the Chuseok season, there's a chance I might not be able to take a bus out to Sangju City to do my four-day, Sangju-to-Andong walk. Not a big deal. I can try to get a train ticket to Sangju, or I can do a local 4-day walk from, say, Incheon to Yangpyeong (total: approx. 120 km). I also have a choice of departure date: I can go to Sangju tomorrow—even though the forecast is for rain for part of the day—and walk through Saturday, or I can wait until Thursday and walk through Sunday.

The more I think about it, the more I think a Thursday departure to Sangju might be better—either by bus or by train. Whichever way things turn out, I'm off to try to get a ticket. (Come to think of it, coming back to Seoul at the end of the Chuseok holiday might be a nightmare, too.)

the phenomenon that is pickleball

Pickleball! It's taking the nation by storm as everything goes to shit!

fuck around and find out

This sort of thing needs to happen more often. 

A pastor is out demonstrating for the rights of the unborn; whether I agree with his stance or not is beside the point. The point is that he's there prayerfully, with a mike and speaker system but not haranguing passersby, just making his opinion known. A very young leftie professor comes up to him; they have an exchange that gets more acrimonious as the leftie's language becomes nastier. She eventually grabs at and refuses to return the pastor's microphone; the police are called over; the lady refuses to comply, so... her ass gets arrested. Good. As I said, this needs to happen way more often. If you try to stifle free speech and/or use physical violence, you should feel the consequences right away. You're the one in the wrong.

Sky News Australia continues to mock Biden

Insults from halfway around the world—I shouldn't love this as much as I do. If we were talking about some average 81-year-old, I'd hesitate to engage in ageism and mockery of debilitating conditions like dementia. But we have to remember that Biden made the choice to run for president, and once he got frauded in and then fucked everything up for nearly three years, he's made the absolutely bonkers choice to run again. So, no: Joe Biden is fair game for insults as far as I'm concerned. If an octogenarian movie villain executes a plan that kills entire cities, and the hero then takes him down brutally but slowly with an axe and a blowtorch, does the audience weep for the old man? Of course not. It doesn't matter that he's old: it matters that he's evil. His death only brightens the world and is nothing to mourn. When Vader tosses the Emperor down that shaft, that's an applause moment: there's sympathy for the bastard. I hate to put it this way, but where is America's Darth Vader?

Here's Sky News having a bit of fun with Joe Biden, our evil old man:

PJW on Russell Brand

Paul Joseph Watson on the Russell Brand flap and government's attempt to control independent media:

the Merrick Garland shit-show

Dem-weaponized Attorney General Merrick Garland deserves to be strung up inside a brazen bull and slowly roasted over a period of hours. And it's pretty obvious that Ray Epps is an agent provocateur. Whether he's an FBI plant, I don't know, but given all we've discovered about FBI agitation on January 6, I consider it likely.

Monday, September 25, 2023

under 2K/day yesterday, today... and the rest of the month?

This has been a banner month for site visits. I've been over 2K visits per day for most of this month, with September already well over 60K visits for the month, and five more days to go. Only starting yesterday did the visits really drop down to under 2K: 1852 visits yesterday, and we're looking to be under 2K today, too. So maybe things are finally normalizing at the very end of the month. I'm at 64,397 visits for September; will pass the 65K mark in a day or so. I doubt the rest of 2023 will be this good, and I still have no idea why September was this good. One does not question the gods; one merely thanks them and moves on.

2 from Chris Chappell

"Is Going Green Destroying the Environment?"

"China Is Literally Falling Apart"—an introduction to "tofu dreg construction":

As I've said: China is basically North Korea writ large these days.

what's the antonym for "hemorrhage"?

What do you call a massive influx of something into an entity? An outflow, for warm bodies, is called a hemorrhage. What's the influx called?

he can expect a lot of name-calling from the virtuous

If you're a black Democrat politician who switches sides to the GOP, you can expect to be treated as an apostate by your ex-fellow Dems. They might not put out a death fatwa on you, but rest assured they'll call you all the names that they claim are racist when certain unreconstructed rightie bigots use them. Because hypocrisy means nothing to these fuckers.

the vegan/vegetarian joke

Traumatized by the chipmunk video? Wash your brain out with this cute joke about vegans and vegetarians as told by a little kid (YouTube Short).

another brutal chipmunk video

Don't click. Chipmunks are hit with exploding tannerite rounds and huge 9-mm rounds. Those soft, little skulls don't stand a chance. This one's pretty brutal. Stay away.

your bit of randomness

I was suckered at first:

You quickly realize it's not a real snake: the strange, plasticky way the light glints off the body; the fact that the "snake" doesn't coil and writhe when the chick grabs it by the neck; the arrow-straight path the "snake" takes when moving toward the lady... there are all sorts of clues that this isn't genuine. That said, it's hilarious. I'd expect Aussie chicks to be pretty brave in the face of all the wildlife in Oz that wants to kill you, as well as the harmless wildlife that just looks scary. This young lady looks ready to wrestle a boar.

knockout via kick

I tend to think that using a kick to knock someone out is implausible at best—not least because you often have to turn your back to your opponent—but there are plenty of videos out there, many showing an MMA context, in which someone executes a beautiful kick and scores a knockout. Speed, strength, timing, and coordination are all factors—and a little luck helps, too. Here's an nice example of a knockout with a reverse* kick:


*The video title calls this a spin kick, but I was left wondering whether this was a reverse turning kick. In a spin kick, the leg is generally straight, and it whips around in an arc. In a turning kick, the body turns partially, and the leg is pistoned backward in a horizontal stamping motion. When you watch the video above, you'll see, at the very last moment of the knockout kick, that the leg does piston out a bit, and the kicker's foot slams full-on into the opponent's face; had this been a true spin kick, the foot would have whipped across the opponent's face like a slap. Before that moment, though, I can see why people might call this a spin kick. But I'm not totally convinced.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

if this is what a Turkish breakfast is like, well, I want some

This episode of Sorted Food features some interesting culinary items, but I've cued up the relevant part of the video below, in which Chef Kush brings out a massive Turkish breakfast, something I've never seen before. I'm pretty sure that regular Turkish folks don't eat like this every day, but that thought aside, the food itself looks absolutely magnificent. I'm partial to most of the Turkish food I've eaten (and if it ever had onions in it, I either bit the bullet and ate the dish with the onions, or I plucked the onions out), so this breakfast spread doesn't look as though it'll turn me off Turkish food anytime soon. Have fun drinking in the sights.

Dave Cullen mourns Star Trek

I was vaguely positive about the first season of "Strange New Worlds," but Season 2, from what I've seen and heard, has been a horrific desecration of the Trek brand. Much of the focus has been on Spock, and without any disrespect to Ethan Peck (grandson of Gregory), the fine actor playing Spock, it sounds as if Spock's character has been reduced to little more than a comic figure, a punching bag for other members of the Enterprise's crew. From the clips I've seen, this isn't far wrong, and it's depressing to watch yet another Trek series get taken over by a woke agenda. Dave Cullen offers his take on how Trek has gone bad:

Brand in his own words

Russell Brand lays out the nefarious agenda against him and those like him:

off to the orifice

I'm spending a few Sunday hours in the office today to get a head start on the final bit of content-creation for the textbook I'm working on. If I finish this final chapter by Tuesday, we can have our luncheon event on Wednesday, and once we're back from the Chuseok/Foundation Day holiday the following week, I can devote the rest of the first two weeks of October purely to proofreading. Proofreading is boring at the best of times, and it doesn't help that our designer, who speaks only a little English, introduces more errors into the text than are already there when he receives the ms to work on. Whatever; I'd do as badly as he does if I had to design a textbook written entirely in Korean. Anyway, early October will be a combination of hard slog and desperate rush as I try to proofread three textbooks' worth of mss before I head off to my long walk. Prayers and pixie dust welcome.

Dettol: I was wrong

My Dettol spray has proven not to be very effective: after using it to spray down my A/C, the odor of mold was back within 24 hours. With a Windex spray-down, I can go for two weeks before the smell returns. Lesson learned: a strong chemical smell from a spray does not mean the spray will be more effective at fighting mold. Maybe Dettol is still perfectly fine for bacteria, but it's now obvious that mold requires something stronger.

terrible rear naked choke, but it wins the fight

Just watch to the end of the brawl, which is when an awkwardly executed rear naked choke is performed while both attacker and victim are standing:

A well-executed rear naked choke is a thing of beauty. This is not the kind of choke that people traditionally think of: it doesn't cut off the victim's air supply; instead, it cuts off blood flow to (and from) the brain. Watch Gina Carano in her younger days as she performs a perfect rear naked choke on a sports reporter:

A proper rear naked choke is done with one of the attacker's arms looping under the victim's jaw, with the attacker's hand resting on his opposite bicep. This creates a V-shaped vise on either side of the victim's neck with which to pinch the carotid artery and stanch the flow of blood to the brain. The crook of the attacker's elbow should ideally be just in front of the victim's trachea (which is why this "choke" doesn't cut off the air supply). The attacker's other arm goes up behind the victim's head, with the attacker's hand pushing the victim's head and neck farther down into the V-shaped vise. Unconsciousness results in five to ten seconds. The victim generally rouses himself a few seconds later, but with a feeling of disorientation. In a street-fight scenario, the victim's few seconds of unconsciousness can be used either to flee the fight or to further pound the shit out of the victim, incapacitating him.

I'm a fan of the TV series "24," but every time Jack Bauer uses the rear naked choke, he executes it "Hollywood style," i.e., unrealistically. Very frustrating to watch, especially when characters in other TV shows and movies have done the choke properly. I assume part of the reason for Bauer's poor execution may be that the episode's director didn't want actor Kiefer Sutherland accidentally hurting someone. Here's a link to a mashup of Jack Bauer's choke-outs. In almost every case, he's got his forearm across the victim's throat, which makes it look more like a backwards guillotine choke than a proper rear naked choke. Wikipedia explains where the term "naked" comes from: "The word 'naked' in this context suggests that, unlike other strangulation techniques found in jujutsu/judo, this hold does not require the use of a keikogi ('gi') or training uniform." (The Wikipedia entry also shows a variation of the choke in which the attacker's forearm lies across the victim's throat. Is that poor execution or a legitimate variation? Should we give Jack Bauer a pass?)

Dinesh D'Souza vs. woke professor who likes interrupting

Dinesh D'Souza isn't without his own problems, but in this video clip, he civilly listens to a leftist professor as the professor lays out the case that the Democrats of today have nothing to do with the slave-owning, segregation-loving Democrats of yesteryear. When D'Souza tries to answer the professor's claims, the professor starts interrupting. Forget the clickbait-y "Dinesh Absolutely Destroys Woke Professor" title and just watch the video for yourself. It's short.

what I wrote about Russell Brand

An Instapundit comment I wrote a few days ago about Russell Brand:

I don't give two shits about how libertine Brand was in his early days: (1) it's all in the past, and (2) I'm pretty libertarian about how people handle their private lives.

While I wouldn't call Brand an out-and-out rightie now, he's certainly changed his tune in some ways. He does, however, still have a tendency to reference postmodernist "philosophers" like Jean Baudrillard even now, and with postmodernism so intimately tied to Marxism/leftism, this makes me a bit circumspect about Brand's attempt to marry his original woo-woo philo-hippie sensibilities with this new, seemingly rightward lean in recent years.

So while I like a lot of what the New Russell Brand has been saying ever since he became a YouTube personality, I do view him with some caution—caution that has nothing to do with the recent accusations, all of which I find hard to take seriously.

I suspect the women making these accusations are going to end up either Amber Hearded or Christine Blasey Forded. It won't end well for them, and they'll spend years rethinking whether it was worth it to cry for attention in this way. Especially if Brand focuses his considerable mental and financial energies on suing them. Which he absolutely should.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

a tiring walk

I survived another all-night 33K walk from Yangpyeong to Yeoju. This walk started even earlier than the previous two walks: I left the office at around 7:45 p.m. and arrived in Yangpyeong exactly two hours later, at 9:45 p.m. (Annoyingly, the train didn't empty out until we were two-thirds of the way to Yangpyeong, which meant I had to stand for most of the trip. Standing normally isn't a big problem, but I was also short on sleep. This was not turning out to be the most auspicious way to start this latest trek. But the saving grace was that the night was pleasantly cool—probably somewhere in the high 50s Fahrenheit (14ºC, roughly).

Starting this early meant that I completely avoided the 11:55 p.m. blackout. By the time I was going up the walk's one big hill, it was a little past 11, and I was far past where the blackout normally happens. At one point in the walk, I passed a cluster of foreigners and Koreans who had one dog guarding the group. The dog saw me from afar and arfed out some warning barks. As I passed the group, one of the ladies apologized, but I told her, "Not a problem. Dogs will be dogs." If anything, I thought the dog was doing his (her?) duty by guarding the group. Because I was out earlier than usual, there were more people (including bikers) and cars about. But in Yangpyeong, things quiet down after 11 p.m., and the path was largely empty in due time. By the time midnight rolled around, it was just me, the silently imposing river, and a starry sky free of Seoul's light pollution. I saw Jupiter up in the sky; later on, I saw Venus, and when a star I didn't recognize showed up, I consulted my star map and smacked my forehead when I saw it was Sirius. The star map also reminded me that, even though I had trouble seeing it, Uranus was lurking right close to Jupiter (so watch what you do with Uranus).

It was dark for most of the walk, and the two rest breaks I took were no more than a few minutes long. I started around 9:45 p.m., and by the time I limp-shuffled up to the bus terminal, it was 6:15 a.m. So that's 8.5 hours to do 33 kilometers, or an average speed of 3.88 kph—very slow. I was feeling it, too: by the time I finished, I was a mass of aches and pains, and I'd neglected to bring along any ibuprofen. I suppose the relentless darkness may also have been a factor, but what it comes down to is that I'm just slow these days.

I sometimes wonder whether my readers understand why I'm thrilled with doing what seems to be the same route over and over. (I've now done Yangpyeong-Yeoju three times this year.) I once had a highly intelligent coworker who was easily distracted, his attention always being pulled to the newest, shiniest thing. He and I (and occasionally one or two other coworkers) would go on daily walks during our breaks at work, and he was always the one wanting to explore new routes because repetition bored him. I suspect that a lot of people are like that, and I wonder if the reason has to do with seeing only the salient features while ignoring the details. For me, the "same route" is never the same route at all. The details are constantly changing: ambient temperature, the people I encounter, the state of the foliage, the time of year, the clouds and stars, my own internal state—you get the picture. So for me, each of these walks is actually unique; I never stop enjoying them.

Below is a photo essay of 49 images. Enjoy.

Ready to depart. And I see I'm developing bags under my eyes. Lovely.

A shot of Oksu Station, where I transfer from Line 3 to the Gyeongeui-Jungang Line.

Getting off at Yangpyeong Station.

The escalators were out. I'm glad I had to walk down the stairs.

Proof that I was there.

A look back at one of the bridges across the South Han. I've never crossed that bridge.

A closer look at the poor, graffiti-ravaged rabbit.

All the lights were on this time. No blackouts for Kevin.

Welcome flags.

A look down the path.

dark path, Jupiter hovering overhead

Ipo Dam in the distance

getting closer

The dam is upon us.

not my usual glove pic

I took a pic of only one jangseung this time. He represents the group.

An orb-weaver crouches in the cold.

as I pass the dam

I almost never photograph this towering sculpture, which sits at the now-abandoned campground.

I used my camera's "night" mode to get this shot, which would otherwise have been black.

The campground that I pass right after Ipo Dam used to be a lively place until COVID reared its ugly head. I think the campground is now closed, but as I walked through it this time, I saw some scattered RVs and random people, probably taking advantage of the campground's desolate state to do some free camping. 

Not that many Koreans really camp at these places: either they've got campers, or they pitch their tents on these wide, wooden platforms that sit about a foot above the ground, sucking all the joy and fun out of an earthy, organic camping experience. I can't stand those facilities. And even worse is the abomination of glamping, i.e., glamor(ous) camping. You're basically in a motel masquerading as a tent, with A/C, a real bathroom, and often a kitchenette. How or why anyone thinks this is a good idea is utterly beyond me.

approaching the bridge after the campground

"sharp curve"

I simply didn't photograph anything for around 8-10 kilometers: it was too dark to see much, and the phone camera wasn't picking up anything. So between the above photo and the one below, there's a huge lacuna that would've been filled had it been daytime.

much, much later in the walk: "bicycle path"

With Jupiter now directly overhead, this bright star is Venus. You're going to see several Venus shots.

Yeoju Dam in the dark

Vader's castle next to a factory?

Bright lights on the opposite bank made it hard to photograph things. But this is where the water spills over.

a distant part of Yeoju

crossing the dam

King Sejong's hunminjeongeum in the dark

Luckily, the same writ is on the other, better-lit side.

Venus glares balefully down at the dam.

Venus watches over the final 6 km.

Something about how this light is nestled among the blades of grass made me want to photograph this.

long stretch ahead, Venus in the upper-left corner

My love of straightaways cannot be suppressed.

This curve indicates that we're about to enter the city proper.

The sky lightens, and Venus persists.

A wide shot as dawn breaks.

I'm in Yeoju for real now.

The swastika can indicate a temple or temple-like structure. If the latter, it's probably a fortune-teller's place. (Addendum after reading Charles's comment: having seen many places like this, I was pretty sure this was a fortune-teller's place. I don't think that was clear from what I previously wrote.)

red, metal gate; dilapidated dwelling

I saw this a lot on my east-coast hike: a 24-hour mart that was closed. Fuckers.

Are the flags out for Chuseok (9/29) or for Foundation Day (10/3)? Note the old-style hangeul that's a tribute to King Sejong, whose town this is.

I've survived. Here's the inter-city bus terminal.

Eyes are a bit red, but I'm otherwise OK. Just tired and achy.

my bus

It was a nice ride home. I caught the 7:30 a.m. bus again, like last time. Since I arrived much earlier this time, I had longer to wait. With idle hands being the devil's workshop, I strolled over to a local convenience store and bought some snacks.

It was a good hike all in all. My shoes are still holding up, and while my feet and lower back were killing me, I was fine for the most part. I took my usual victory nap on the bus, then caught a cab back to my place. I've now finished writing this entry around noon, and I'm going to go to bed. As I promised, I plan to be useless for the rest of Saturday.