Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rainbow Run

Since January, I've been waking up earlier on the weekends than during the weekdays. You might wonder what could make me get up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning; certainly it was something I wouldn't have predicted a year ago. However, last January I became a Hasher. I don't mean that I started smoking anything: on a cold, wintery day, I went out running with a bunch of women dressed in normal, cold-weather running gear and men in dresses. The Hash House Harriers aren't your average running group; with a tag line about being a drinking club with a running problem, that is probably to be expected.

Hashing is a worldwide phenomenon, though I personally have only hashed in two countries. It is quite popular amongst the expats here in Seoul - there are five groups in the city alone and several more throughout the Korean peninsula. Hashing is not smoking, but it is also not exactly running. It's sort of fox hunting, with humans.

Each hash starts off with a circle, when the signs particular to that hash are explained to the new runners. Virgin hashers also introduce themselves to the pack. Since most of the trails run by the Seoul packs are live-hared (more on that later), there is usually a song or a story told by the GM (leader) in order to give the hares time to lay the trail.

A hash trail is not just run, it has to be found. The hares (there are usually two, perhaps three) lay a trail using a series of chalk marks, or if the trail goes through what we call shiggy (off-road trail like forest or rice paddies), flour or bits of shredded paper. Three hash marks or a true trail mark mean you are heading the right way and a checkpoint indicates that the trail goes in a new direction. In Korea we say that at a checkpoint, the trail can go in one of 369 degrees, though not back the way it came - Korean roads tend not to have orderly four-way intersections. While most trails are scouted in advance and perhaps some marks are even pre-laid, most of the runs here in Korea are live-hared: the hares are making the trail as the pack runs behind, theoretically trying to catch them. Checkpoints, false trails, whistle checks and other stops along the way are to give the hares a chance to stay ahead. When I hashed with TWAT (Toronto Women's Alternate Thursdays) during my vacation, I learned that they pre-lay their trails, which is called a dead trail.

Once all the hashers have made it to the end point (which can be where the trail started, called an A to A trail, or somewhere else, called an A to B), the down down starts. Named after the downing of our beverage of choice (beer), the down down is the social aspect of the hash. In addition to once again getting the virgins to introduce themselves, down downs involve recognising the hares, any hashers who have hit a certain number of runs, birthdays, leavers and returners, that sort of thing. Each round of people called up on the line by the GM is accompanied by a song and a drink (though not everyone drinks alcohol necessarily). On a hasher's sixth run they lose ther no-name status and become a named hasher. Namings are run different ways by different packs, but generally involve the sharing of stories or asking questions of a rather naughty nature.

I have really enjoyed hashing. After three and a half years of living in Seoul, I had started to get a bit bored with my usual scene when a coworker introduced me to hashing. I'm not much of a runner - I usually walk the trails, though I do occasionally run them very, very s l o w l y. The social aspect of the hash and the friendships that have developed are the reason I keep going back. In Seoul, each group has a slightly different feel to it. The Saturday morning group, Yongsan Kimchi, has a lot of military members and more hardcore runners. Southside, which is the best hash running at 11 AM on Sundays south of the Han River, is quite chill and has a long On After (drinks/dinner in Itaewon usually). Saturday afternoons the Seoul Hash runs, men only, and once a month Seoul PMS is held, women only. An hour's bus ride south of Seoul in Songtan, the Osan Bulgogi pack runs Saturday as well - it's got a lot of air force members and is what I tend to refer to as Seoul's frat hash.

There are definitely some barriers to hashing happily. The hash was started by three British military men back in the day and it is certainly not free of sexism, homophobia, or racism. The songs that are traditionally sung are often fairly offensive. Many pack members will say that the hash is an equal opportunity offender - everyone gets to be insulted. When I go to the PMS hash, our toast goes, "Here's to the men we love and the men who love us, but the men we love aren't the ones who love us, so fuck them and here's to us!" Our song is to the tune of Three Blind Mice and is entitled I Love Cock. As a bisexual woman who was recently dating a woman, it's a bit odd. Other out hashers (and there aren't many of us) have felt tensions. There are times that I wonder about my participation in hashing. Times that I'm uncomfortable with some of the attitudes, rituals, or certain members. It's not always comfortable to participate in a group in which heteronormality is so in your face. It can be uncomfortable to call people on their attitudes and uncomfortable not to.

Last weekend one of my friends celebrated her 300th run. When such numbers roll around, usually the hasher throws some sort of a special run and she chose to have a Rainbow Run. Straight herself, it was in honour of a relative who had recently come out and of all the other important gay people in her life. To my knowledge, there were only five LGBT members in the pack, but there were a lot more people wearing rainbows, playing the games, and just generally being good allies.

And that is worth some uncomfortable moments.

Hagwon Helloween

I'm off out tonight to listen to a friend perform at the HBC festival, have a birthday dinner with Sharlene, and perhaps out out after. I'm wearing the skirt I bought on holiday - can I claim my costume is being me on vacation?

Friday, October 30, 2009

So Over It

After yesterday's "controlled fun" Halloween parties, I'm already over this holiday. I've never been much of a costume-at-the-bar girl (after all, last year's costume, fan death, came about after I went out due to a series of random coincidences) and after this last day of Hagwon Helloween, I'm ready to hang up my wig for another year.

Only six hours to go.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Midnight Musings

It is often late at night that we ponder the big questions of life. I found myself doing just that after I got home from quiz last night (third by one damn point!).

One disc of Battlestar Galactica or the newest vampire porn novel?

(The answer turned out to be two discs of BG and going to bed at 6 a.m.)

Now I am off to comb my wig.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Addiction Defined

We have a pot of coffee available at work, but no sugar or milk. We also have instant packets with both.

I mix them together.

Several times a day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

You Can't Read It There

Lately, I've been blogging a lot in my head. Weird, yes? My internal voice has been a blog entry for ages though. I have resolved come November to be a better blogger - first off, I swear I will finally blog about the big trip. There's been a lot on my mind and that combined with my new addiction to Battlestar Galactica has been rather detrimental to the blog. However, NaBloPoMo in November will hopefully have me articulate (or as articulate as I ever was...) again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumn Chill

It's here. I've persisted in wearing no socks but it's starting to be a really bad call. I have to sleep in pjs with long sleeves because I've never learned to stay with my arms under the covers all night. I've fallen in love with the thumb holes in my Roots hoodie. Morning showers cause me dread, as does getting out of bed to put the water on for coffee. I may need to start turning the heat on next month.

Friday, October 23, 2009


You know what happens if you don't have your period for six months? I suppose some women might give birth in another three, but all my body was working up to was the biggest, bitchiest PMS ever.

I pity my students, coworkers, and random people on the subway. I am not to be fucked with this week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Want

A horny wee pig that fits in my teacup!

I Love Trains

Come and play, Come and play. from on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Creativity & Education

Can't say I loved the man/woman jokes, but it's interesting otherwise.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

If Only We Had Kindle Back in the Day

Amazon to pay $150,000 over Kindle eating Orwell -- and teen's homework
October 1, 2009

Amazon has agreed to pay $150,000 in a lawsuit filed by Justin Gawronski, who sued the online retailer after George Orwell's novels "1984" and "Animal Farm" were deleted from his Kindle, along with his homework. The money, after going to the law firm representing the teen, will be donated to charity. Gawronski had already been compensated for the loss -- with a $30 gift certificate.

"Amazon has just proven that when I buy a book on the Kindle, I don't really own it," the 17-year-old told The Times' Mark Milian in July. "I just feel that is wrong."

The Orwell books had been added to the online retailer's site by a company that did not have the rights to sell them. In mid-July, with no notice to customers about the error, Amazon remotely deleted the ebooks, causing widespread consternation. People who'd gone to bed in the middle of reading "1984" found, upon waking, that the book had gone missing from their devices.

Amazon showed an "uncanny knack for irony," Gawronski's lawyer Jay Edelson wrote in the complaint, in employing a "Big Brother" manner, according to Bloomburg News. Their report notes that the lawsuit was settled Sept. 25 in Seattle, where Amazon is based.

Gawronski is based in Michigan, and was adversely affected when the Amazon deletion also partially ate his homework. "It's a lot of brainstorming. It's nothing super concrete," Gawronski told The Times. "I was between a quarter and halfway through [the book]. I had a good amount of notes." Those notes survived, but they pointed only to strings of characters, where the novel's text had gone missing.

As for the other Orwell owners who lost their books, one commented on BoingBoing that he received a complete refund -- of $3.20.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How I Like to Start Fridays


It's funny, who tells stories about poop. The Scottish think it is a fine form of comedy; North American adults can be a bit more squeamish. If you are sitting around the dinner table with my family, you'll likely hear more about Metamucil than you'd like while eating.

But the best poop stories I've ever heard were Ortencia's about her fellow Peace Corps volunteers in Togo. I'm not sure what to say about a country where it's said that you are bound to crap yourself once or twice, and if you claim you haven't you must be lying.

Stupid Follow Up Questions

Ms. C: Amanda Teacher, Elite class took a test last Friday?

Me: Nope, not with me.

Ms. C: Are you sure?

Me: !!!

Ms. C: I think they took a test.

Me: Not with me. I'm pretty sure I would have noticed that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What to Do?

It's my early day, so I should run some errands. I just can't decide which ones.

Is it crazy to chose to go buy the book club novel, even in a broke month, as the errand of the day? I could pick up some hangers and finally fully unpack as well...

Or take a nap. Damn this jet lag - I keep sleeping away all my free time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Korean Education FAIL

I just read the most error-riddled English speech scripts ever known to man into a microphone under strict instructions not to change the mistakes. Apparently they are only judged on how well they say the nonsense, not whether or not it makes any sense. And we wouldn't want to turn it into any sort of learning activity, after all. Just memorize and repeat - that's the key skill...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Schedule Not Yet Instinctive

I was going to update my blog until I remembered that I had two vocab quizzes to make.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Nash Hash Starts Tonight!

Ten days of hashing in and around Seoul. At most, I can only make five of them (and likely will only make four.) Once this weekend is over, I'll finally get around to posting about my amazing vacation.


Vampires... Suck!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Yes, I Do Judge Your Bookcase, Virtual or Otherwise

To this list I would add any Dan Brown book.
Books You Don’t Want Your Lover to Love
Posted by Amanda Hess on Sep. 30, 2009, at 12:07 pm

“Books”: it’s the most dangerous section of a young lover’s Facebook profile. A bad favorite novel—whether revealed by accident, or deliberately placed on one’s bedside table as an act of intellectual seduction—has the power to put a damper on a once-exciting courtship. I’ve never stopped seeing someone based on their favorite book, but looking back, there were signs. Here, I’ll note that heated literary disagreements can actually help to build a healthy and intellectually stimulating relationship. Or, it can devolve into resentment, condescension, and spirited book-burning. Here are my deal-breaker books:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Maciej Cegłowski hit the nail on the head when he described Milan Kundera as “the Dave Matthews of Slavic letters.” He goes on: “Kundera has a sterile, cleanroom writing style meant to suggest that he is a surgeon expertly dissecting the human condition before your eyes, but if you look a little more closely, you see he’s just performing an autopsy on a mannequin. Or more accurately, a RealDoll.” Personally, I’m wary of any book which glamorizes cheating as some sort of tortured philosophical exercise. Just keep your pants on, dude, it’s not that hard.

The Catcher in the Rye (see also: Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mockingbird). I’m all for celebrating the classics, but if your favorite book still contains highlights from your 7th grade humanities class, maybe it’s time to mix it up a bit.

Atlas Shrugged. I dated a guy in college who kept his collection of Ayn Rand novels hidden underneath his bed, next to his Magic: The Gathering cards. When you discover that your significant other has a secret Rand fetish—and if you’re dating high-school or college-aged males, this is a significant possibility—you may be occupied with concern that their idea of good literature is a thousand-page glorification of capitalism. But don’t forget about the sex!

Rand’s Ideal Woman, Dagny Taggart, is a self-made railroad baron and defender of industry. Taggart defers to no one, except for basically every dude she has sex with. In sex, Taggart submits fully to Man, an act which symbolizes surrender to her sex partner’s superior industrial capabilities, or whatever. Many critics have described Rand’s sex scenes as “rape,” but in Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, Wendy McElroy explains that it’s not rape, because Rand makes Taggart secretly want men to take her by force. “With our godlike perspective we can eavesdrop on Dagny’s psychology as she silently pleads with him . . . Our knowledge of Dagny’s unspoken desire for sex with Reardon converts what seems like an act of rape into one of passionate and mutual consent.”

So, not only does the Ideal Woman submit sexually to the Ideal Man, the Ideal Man has the crazy ability to discern a woman’s secret rape fantasy without asking! Did I mention it’s 1,000 pages long?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rock On Ladies!

Article here.

Indonesia’s Feminist Islamic Schools & Newspapers
Wed. Sep. 23, 2009

Many Islamic schools in Indonesia have become more female-friendly recently.

CAIRO — When her husband died, Nyai Yu Masriyah Amva did not think twice before stepping into the place of the respected Muslim scholar and run the Islamic madrasah of their village in Indonesia’s Java.

“Why do I have to find someone else to run it?” Nyai told Time magazine on Wednesday, September 23.

“I know that I can do it."

Nyai, who has been running the Islamic school, known locally as pesantren, for two years now, recalls how most people in the village expected her to close the school with the death of her husband or find a new male head.

But the 48-year-old, whose father was also a renowned Muslim scholar, decided that she would run the school and she has even won the villagers support.

"My grandfather and parents always hoped someday I'd become a respected scholar," she said.

"But since my husband died, people say I have become a superstar."

Nyai’s pesantren is one of many in Indonesia which have more female friendly recently.

While pesantrens in Indonesia face the dilemma of a much-stereotyped image that relates them to suicide bombers and extremists, the schools have seen a growing trend of more female kyais, teachers in Islamic schools.

In many schools, women scholars who teach religion and recitation of the Noble Qur’an are growing in numbers.

Indonesian feminist groups, male and female alike, have also worked with pesantrans to develop women-friendly interpretations of shari`ah.

There are some 14,000 Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation with a population of 220 million.

More than three million students are registered in these pesantrens which fill the vacuum of state schools in the poorest, remotest parts of the archipelago nation.

Feminist Movement

The growing female power in Islamic schools mirrors a wider phenomenon of feminism in the Asian Muslim nation.

“Feminism has found fertile soil in Indonesia,” says the Time.

The newspaper noted that the movement is fast growing due to Indonesia’s Islamic-based culture and indigenous traditions that favor gender equality.

Indonesia’s “traditional agricultural culture often had men and women working together in the fields.”

Social activists and Muslim leaders in Indonesia have further helped the trend.

Indonesia's two largest Muslim political parties — the Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah — have intricate campaigns promoting women's rights.

In Northern Java, Indonesia's most prominent male scholar Kyai Husein Muhammad Marcoes-Natsir has joined hands with Jakarta-based feminist activist Lies Marcoes-Natsir to develop a course for teaching gender equality in Islam.

For Nyai, the pesantren woman head, it’s not only the role of feminist activists and politicians to enlighten the society on women rights.

Indonesian women also should have more faith in themselves and in their capabilities, she explains.

"If men can do it, then why can't I?"

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Leakey Wannabe - That's Me

I dare you to read this without humming the Beatles tune...
Move Over Lucy; Ardi May Be Oldest Human Ancestor

by Christopher Joyce

October 1, 2009

Scientists on Thursday unveiled a fossil human ancestor dating back 4.4 million years — a creature more ancient than the famous fossil "Lucy." And, the scientists say, even more important than Lucy.

The team that discovered the fossil, called Ardipithicus ramidus, say it's the closest thing yet found to the common ancestor of both chimps and humans. That common ancestor is thought to have lived about 6 million years ago. From that animal, chimps and other apes evolved in one direction, while our own ancestors, the hominids, evolved through several forms into what we are now.

The anthropologists found the bones in Ethiopia, in a desert region called Aramis. Scientists have previously discovered a few teeth and bones of Ardipithicus, dating from 5 to 6 million years ago. But in this case, they have more than 100 bones from 36 individuals, including a partial skeleton of a female whom they've dubbed "Ardi."

The area excavated "was a time capsule with contents that nobody had ever seen before," says anthropologist Tim White, of the University of California, Berkeley, and the team co-leader.
Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy stands next to the reconstructed skeleton of
Enlarge Kent State University

Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, Kent State University professor of anthropology, stands next to the reconstructed skeleton of "Lucy." A team of researchers including Lovejoy have discovered a skeleton older than "Lucy," nicknamed "Ardi."
Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy stands next to the reconstructed skeleton of
Kent State University

Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, Kent State University professor of anthropology, stands next to the reconstructed skeleton of "Lucy." A team of researchers including Lovejoy have discovered a skeleton older than "Lucy," nicknamed "Ardi."

The skull had been crushed into scores of pieces, says White. But after years of reconstruction work, White says, "what we have is a very small-brained cranium of an early female hominid that is very different from a chimpanzee."

That's critical, White says. "People have sort of assumed ... that the last common ancestor was more or less like a chimpanzee." Ardi suggests otherwise — that in fact the earliest known hominid was a "mosaic," with some features like chimps but others like monkeys, such as the feet.

Other features are more like the more recent hominid, Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), such as the teeth. For example, the canine teeth near the front of the mouth in both male and female Ardipithicus are much smaller than a chimp's canines.

"It's just a treasure trove of surprises," says C. Owen Lovejoy, one of the leaders of the team and an anthropologist at Kent State University. Take the small canines, he says. A chimp's big, protruding canines — especially the males' — are for fighting or intimidating other males to get access to females, Lovejoy says. Small canines on Ardipithicus suggest a different social strategy.

"So females are picking males that are using some other technique to obtain reproductive success, and that technique is probably exchanging food for copulation," Lovejoy says.

White and Lovejoy say that the hand and arm bones, as well as bones from the feet and pelvis, suggest that Ardi was able to walk on two legs. But it was probably more comfortable in the trees, though it maneuvered on its palms in a way different from chimps.
The cover of Science depicting the partial skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus.
Enlarge T. White

The cover of Science showing the partial skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid species living about 4.4 million years ago in Ethiopia.
The cover of Science depicting the partial skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus.
T. White

The cover of Science showing the partial skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus, a hominid species living about 4.4 million years ago in Ethiopia.

The team spent almost two decades collecting everything from animal bones to pollen in the region. They conclude that Ardi lived in a lush, wooded environment, not the grassy savanna usually thought to be the habitat of the earliest human ancestors.

"This is more important than Lucy," says anthropologist Alan Walker of Penn State University. The number of bones and its greater antiquity give scientists a wealth of new information on this earliest part of human evolution. At the same time, he says, the team's conclusions will draw a lot of skepticism from other scientists.

Among the skeptics is Bernard Wood, professor of anatomy at George Washington University. Wood says it could well be that these bones belonged to a creature that evolved outside the line that led to humans — that it was in fact a separate branch of primate evolution that disappeared into a dead end, like so many other forms of ancient life.

The scientific community will now get a chance to test the team's conclusions, which are outlined in 11 papers — with 47 authors — in the journal Science.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Relections on Packing

Less books.

More socks.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Smart Girls At the Party

When I Get Back to Korea...

I will:

-pay off my credit card
-book a trip to learn to scuba dive
-join the gym and work out every day
-start cooking at home more
-read all the books in my bookshelf before buying more
-buy new glasses and sunglasses
-walk to work
-eat better
-be more organized
-take a university course by correspondence
-stay in touch better

and so on and so on and so on. The number of times that "When I get back to Korea" phrase has left my lips, followed by something I know I should do and sort of want to do but am presently doing the exact opposite of, because, you know, I'm on vacation is, even to me, astounding.

Most of the goals don't even make sense together. It's going to be an interesting next year.

Or more likely? It's going to be much the same as last year!


Being back in Vancouver is a bit spooky - which is apt, I suppose, seeing as it is October. It feels sort of vaguely familiar, but not really more so than that (granted, I only lived here for about ten months, about five years ago...)

I met up with Martha today - coffee at the 49th Parallel, lunch at Naam, a walk along the shore, past Kits Beach and Granville Island, over the bridge to Downtown and along Davie Street to the gay district where we went to the same sports bar that was the first place I went with Alan and Jenni all those years ago on that cold November day that we arrived in town.

So much has changed since then.

It was a very Vancouver day.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


I remember, or more likely, have seen in photos, feeding racoons at the cottage. Sure, they're pests and not entirely tame, but they were treated as fairly unthreatening. Then Alan got all excited seeing one when we lived in Vancouver and I remember thinking that racoons just aren't the kind of wildlife you should get excited about.


I was mentioned on Apt 11D! If I had known, I would have tried to be more articulate.

Good for the Soul

Vancouver has been all rainbow flags, fall air, independent coffee shops, sand in my shoes, vegetarian food, changing leaves, walks along the ocean, and good beers.