Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Week of Small Steps

After a few weeks of indolence, I managed get a few things done this week. It's not what I would call "accomplished," because for me, accomplished means achievement. Small steps would be the best way to describe what I did this week.

The most overwhelming and hardest task of the week was working out. When I stopped working out about three months ago, I topped out squats at 135 lbs. This week, I finally surpassed that doing 140, but there was a problem: my back was rounding when my butt was in line with my knees. The weight wasn't too much to handle, but I'm a bit of a form freak. A lot of trainers advise to "never go below 90" with squats, but I subscribe to the other school and spend a lot of time focusing on flexibility and mobility.

The problem was coming from my overly tight hamstrings. I finished my sets, but without going through the full range of motion. On this plan, the weekends are set aside for rest and recovery, so I'm doing just that. I'm going to throw in some extra hamstring stretches along with the normal stretches I do. Hopefully, on Monday, I will be back to full (or more) flexibility. My goals is bodyweight (170) in two weeks.

On the school front, I managed to re-enroll at JC. I'm "going back for my associates" as one of my friends said. It feels a bit weird to be back there after earning a degree, but I need to strengthen my math skills and build them to move on to a doctoral program.

The third small step is this blog. I haven't written in a while, but along with math, it is another skill I need to hone. For me, the best way to improve my writing, is to read. So I've been reading Tom Wolfe's Hooking Up, which is stimulating both in the stories it presents and the vocabulary used. I find in writing this, that my biggest problem writing is balancing the informality of the blog with formal style I accustomed to for papers and professional work.

In the next weeks I hope to post with some accomplishments that these small steps are building.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

US Fisheries don't belong to "us"

I'm not really alarmist at foreign ownership of companies, but have started noticing a trend in fisheries. From watching the Whale Wars TV show I was curious as to who owned the Japanese whaling boats. It turns out they are owned by Nissui, a Japanese fishing conglomerate who also happens to own Gorton's. Gorton's has about 37% of the fish business in the US.

This reminded me of an article I read recently that DongWon, a Korean food company, recently bought StarKist. StarKist has a 40% market share. I'm looking for more information about fisheries and who actually owns everything. I'll try to post up more later.

StarKist owned by Korean DongWon
Chicken of the Sea owned by Thai Union
BumbleBee owned by Canadian investment group
South Pacific Tuna Company, 51% US owned, 49% Taiwanese owned. This is a fishing boat company that is majority US owned so as to maintain a US flag and use fishing grounds as permitted by US treaties. Taiwanese vessels may not have access to these grounds.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekend and Future

There wasn't too much excitement this weekend. I originally planned to go to Osan to see the air show, but decided that I needed to stay home and clean my apartment. I went down Saturday night to meet my friend for some Mexican food. It's nice to go to a real Mexican restaurant with real furniture and just chill out for an hour or two.

Usually "dining" in Korea is an experience for utility. As many plastic tables and chairs crowded into a small room where servers nearly trip over every customers chair to slam side dishes and water bottles onto tables. "Balli balli" and get the food down your throat so the next people can come in and sit down. You're here to be fed, not to relax, enjoy, or savor.

On the bus ride back I thought a lot about the next year. With the crash of the won, there is absolute certainty that I won't remain in Korea another year. Not that I was keen on the idea anyway. The crash of the won came with the crash of financial markets at home. I picked up on the symptoms a year ago. I saw two appraisals a day become two a week. Now, it has become acute.

I really want to work in real estate and finance again, even in appraisals, but now is not the time. I want to have my own business, but now is not the time. So I find myself asking questions that I thought were answered over four years ago: What do I want to do?

The time has come that I have to change course, find some employment, something that will remain secure. I don't like the idea of sitting in an office all day, I want to be on my, but I feet a good part of the time, but I don't like sales. After narrowing down my options, I think I've found the perfect job: Wal-Mart.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free Stereotype with Every Post

Jon Kelly of the BBC has been keeping a blog as they tour the US covering the elections. It seems that every post begins with some stereotype. They do discredit the stereotype further in the article, but it's quite revealing at the preconceptions many in the "enlightened" land of P.C. that is Britain possess.

Especially those that hold themselves out as unbiased. Kelly summed up his attitude best with this introduction: "Fancy an easy dig at Americans? Then you'll probably want to use the words "trailer park" at some point. This one handy phrase conjures up every negative image of the US rural poor, whilst at the same lending you an air of aloof superiority."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2008 A Joke of a Year

I think 2008 is going to be one of history's most ridiculous years. We have a presidential election centered around race and sex, not policy issues and we have a natural disaster that is a political issue.

We have a dollar that is in the tank, bank failures, massive government spending and waste (by a so-called) republican president.

I'm so disgusted, I don't think I can finish this post. It remains, a joke of a year.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why Obama is Bad for Korea

I started writing this post on May 28th, but after seeing television coverage of Obama this morning, I decided to finish it. There is a reference to Hillary, who currently isn't a factor. Just so you know.

In talking to many Koreans, the subject of the current US elections usually comes up at some point. Usually only two names are mentioned: Hillary and Obama. This can probably be attributed Korean press coverage of the race, which seems to have focused mainly on the undecided Democratic nominee. It seems that, at least among those who closely follow US politics, that the Korean desire is to see Obama rise to the presidency.

What initially triggered the post was Obama's letter to President Bush opposing the Korea Free Trade Agreement. He feels that the US won't get enough benefits from the deal. His particular target was at the automobile industry. Last week, he went further insinuating that the US should take a more retaliatory approach to trade with Korea.

A New York Times article quotes him as saying "if South Korea is selling hundreds of thousands of cars to the United States and we can only sell less than 5,000 in South Korea, something is wrong." Selling American cars in Korea is like selling Korean beef in Texas. The NYT article mentions GM's big stake in Korean car maker Daewoo (read: profits from Korean cars come home to America.) Both Obama and the NYT failed to consider the FDI Korea has put into the economy of the southern states with both Hyundai and Kia building plants. Had we followed Obama's theories on trade, there would be a lot of jobless people in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Wall Street Journal had an article that outlined the real costs of Obama's policies. At a time when Korea is opposing US beef imports, Obama feels they should be forced to take it. He is stoking the anti-trade fires on two continents with one issue. Not even Bush could be so divisive. If Obama's foreign policy is anything like his trade policy, he is stoking a fire that will likely burn him.

New York Times: Check Point - Obama Calls for Scrutiny of Trade Deals

Wall Street Journal: Change You'll Have to Pay For

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fight Tonight

Tonight in Seoul there will be yet another protest against the importation of US beef. Lately it has been with more of a twist. The protesters are now generally protesting the general difficulties of life in Korea. Extremely high food and product prices due to tariffs and trade restrictions (ironic), insane oil prices, "world's best" high housing prices, lack of jobs, and low salaries with few benefits for those lucky enough to get a job. They are protesting a government that they feel is out of touch, a government that they feel is by the rich, for the rich. They are disappointed that this government hasn't brought a change, even though it has been in power only two months.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my co-teacher about how quickly Korea was changing. On almost every front change is happening at a pace that doesn't leave time for much reflection. This is on top of the aforementioned difficulties of living here. In talking to her, I postulated that youth protests, similar to those in France, US, and Latin America in 1968 might soon be occurring here in Korea. I didn't see it happening in the next few weeks.

At first I derided the beef protesters as morons who were letting xenophobia, emotionalism, ignorance trample over science, reason, and rationality. This was confirmed by talking to other Koreans who agreed that the protesters had a few legitimate points, but their methods were akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

Then I had a realization. They aren't only protesting beef. They are protesting the establishment. So forty years after the social revolutions in the west, it seems that Korea is having one of its own.

Add to the fact that June 10th is the anniversary of protests that led to the first directly elected president in Korea and you've got yourself a stew going. I just hope it doesn't boil over.