Day 319

Friday | January 11th, 2013


I know it’s Friday and all. I can’t help but be addlebrained after a week of sitting semi-idle in a computer lab; logging mass hours listening to Korean college students “propose solutions”; staying up late to make an upcoming test, then having to resequence PowerPoint slides and stock .mp3s so it shovels content at the appropriate time to equally addlebrained students who upon having hours and hours of TOEIC Speaking strategy and course material crammed in every orifice get to come sit in front of a computer for 15 minutes to be mind-raped by a simulacrum.


Passing by my office, I hark for pre-end times when I have a stable schedule (above, left) and never ever work more than four days in a week. But outside all is better because the day is as bright and colorful and windy as it was yesterday. And again everything has taken on great hues and soaked up everything the sun has dished all day and bounced it back into my eyes (and lens). These banners (above, middle) are everywhere in Korea, mucking up the skyline, the eyeline, and the looking-up line. They a bland, uninspired, and utterly uninteresting visual noise that I mostly ignore unless I’m really tired and then I catch myself sounding out the ridiculous butcherings of English (nay, Engrish / Konglish) being used to peddle services to whom? I doubt motorists can see this crud from their cars. Yet, somehow, today, because of the way the light was and how it sat with the wind, these banners look beautiful and captivating. Puffed up and displaying their best colors, the banners remind me of birds (peacocks and pigeons) doing a mating dance. Crossing the bridge, the post-flood embankment has further cracked and the ice is still holding its observation dome buckled shape (above, right). I believed the cracks in the land were getting worse, and couldn’t be certain until comparing this photo with the one from four days ago. I wonder how much more it will crack before spring.


Walking across the bridge I realized that I hadn’t walked under it in a long time. I also missed the convenience of Seoul bridges where there are almost always pedestrian staircases to the underbelly of things. On this bridge, I had to cross to the other side (sort of like the old going home way), then manuever down to where the cars and 16-wheelers (Korean short haul trucks, one in the front, three in the back, doubled on both sides) zip through bypassing the traffic light above without soul—it’s a great place to die quickly because of the blind corner. I’ll bet Gyeongju City never thought of putting a staircase before the main road because no one has ever been crossing the bridge and wished they could get down to the park or take photos. Or maybe once they have all the old people trapped on the park paths, it’s best to keep them there rather than give them an opportunity escape.

Walking underneath though, and looking up, it struck me as very Portland-esque (above, left). Portland is another bridge laden city with tons of pedestrian staircases to get to everywhere from on high. I forget how Eugene-like Gyeongju really is: a poser town.

I started having camera troubles again. 6×7 just doesn’t like iPhone anymore and iPhone doesn’t like the cold. And I consider buying a PEN or something else every time this happens. It’s a very uneasy relationship for everyone. I accidentally shot myself (above, right) while attempting to use Apple’s camera app.


Looking back towards the campus from the other side of the river (above) you can see the little snowy patch on the left-hand side where the bridge disappears, that is where the ground is cracking. Part of the reason I was curious to see this side of things was because I wanted to know whether the ice buckled on this side too—like is this a normal winter frozen river thing or something that is exclusive to the campus side because the land is slipping?

There is some buckling on the this side, but it’s minor and aided by the non-moving embankment which is cement and cinder blocks with foliage on top. It’s not going anywhere, so I guess there is less stress on the ice on this side of the river which leads to only minor buckling as the temperatures push and pull. If only I were Alaskan or Cananadin or Siberian, I would know more about how rivers freeze over in the winter and could walk home in fatigue without silly distractions like this one.

Since I was already on the river path, I decided to walk the whole way home this way instead of winding back up to the road, crossing, and then working my way through the dead monoscape of minilithic villas and empty winter living. When I turned the bend, and started up the other river toward home (and sad doggies), I found out what the tent business I’d seen in the distance a few days ago was all about. Meow had said it was a festival because Gyeongju always has festivals. But really it was a collection of merchant tents clustered around a DIY ice skating rink (hero image, top). The facilitators had these pumps gouged into the frozen part that pumped out fresh water on top so it would freeze over and make the ice stronger and thicker. I didn’t investigate but it looked like some of the tents had food, some had skating equipment, and some had knick-knacks to make you look cool on the ice. It was one of the coolest things I’d seen in a while and it answered another frozen river question of mine: why aren’t people playing/skating on this? (Answer: because someone made a safer version around the corner on the shallower river in a controlled space.)


I dropped my gear off and then went to feed BM’s cat before I even said hello to Naughty and Twitchy. It’s a rough life for them in the winter and even more so when I’m busy and Meow is busy, but loving them, then leaving without them? They’d whine until all the houses in the neighborhood fell down. BM’s cat inched a little closer by compulsion of food dish placement (above). Part of an elaborate plan to domesticate this feral creature by bringing it’s comfort zones together: food is as good as people are useful.

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