Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ode to Roy Scheider

Roy Scheider: 1932 - 2008

I don't usually take note of celebrity passings, but this one made me pause.

Of all the movies from my childhood, Jaws (1975) had the biggest effect on me. It ranks up there with Ghostbusters, Condorman and Jurassic Park as Life-Defining.

Jaws indulged my love of sharks, introduced me to special effects and taught me to swear.

This was the coolest movie to a 9-years-old. And Police Chief Martin Brody (Scheider) was my hero.

Scheider's portrayal of the grizzled Amity Island cop / shark hunter inspired me with the ability to be strong and fight against forces larger than oneself (the shark being a metaphor!)

Scheider's death (due to multiple myeloma) is the loss of a childhood hero for me. A good actor, he was nominated for two Academy Awards (for All That Jazz and The French Connection).

Goodbye, Roy.

Hooper: [singing] Show me the way to go home / I'm tired and I want to go to bed....
Hooper, Quint, and Brody: [all singing together] I had a little drink about an hour ago and it got right to my head / Wherever I may roam / by land or sea or foam...

Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How's My Leg Doing?

Ode to the leg. Or specifically, the shin.

A vital part of the whole body thing. Without the shin, life is less exciting.

As some may remember, I have been recovering from a nasty infection of said shin for the past two weeks. The infection, named Cellulitis, is disappearing and swelling is almost non-existent. I am still using crutches to walk, but I am beginning to hobble about (allowing me the use of my hands, an amazingly useful and needed ability. Especially if you need to do dishes. And we NEED to do dishes!)

Last week, my daily visits to the hospital were decreased to every second day, indicating improvement in my shin and a reduction of the need for antibiotics. I am still taking an antibiotic cocktail of three mystery pills three-times-a-day after every meal, so I am not completely free to do a jig, but it does look like I am out of the woods. (Hmm. A mixed metaphor...though one can dance in trees!)

With my improved spirits, I'd like to take a humorous look at Korean Hospitals, called:

Things I noticed while going to the doctor in Korea:
  1. "More improvement." is all the doctor (the ONLY person who speaks English well) says. Everyday, "More improvement." "How much more improvement is there?" I ask. "More improvement." he always says. Right...
  2. This private hospital believes in the "Conveyor Belt" system of medicine.
    Start: taxi to hospital ($2) -> wait #1 (20 mins) -> receptionist #1 ("Go there.") -> wait #2 (50 mins) -> nurse #1 ("Come in now.") -> wait #3 (5 mins) -> doctor ("More improvement.") -> wait #4 (10 mins) -> pay (~$10) -> WAIT #5 (10 mins) -> bandage nurse (get wound cleaned and re-bandaged) -> WAIT AGAIN #6 (5 mins) -> shot nurse (antibiotic jab) -> run away, to pharmacy next door -> WAIT #COME ON@#$ -> get pills (individually packaged) -> GET IN FREAKING TAXI AND GO HOME ($2). End.
  3. Sometimes, I meet by a 'Reception Manager,' whose job it is to look good by talking to the white guy. It is a sign of status to be seen talking with a foreigner. Luckily, he does speak passing English, and I quickly learn too much about him (He is 47-years-old, divorced, dating a Japanese girl, spends his free time learning kick-boxing, has had 6 competitions where he won three and lost three - losing seven teeth in one knock-out, which he showed me. He has been kick-boxing for three years and plans to teach next year. He wears sandbags on his ankles while working to tone and train his muscles and speed. He showed me those too.)
  4. I am surprised by the inability of some nurses to give me an injection without jabbing me 5 times to find a vein. Come on! You're professionals! One time, honestly, she jabbed me four times in one inner-elbow and twice in one hand before she succeeded with a vein on the other hand.
  5. In the waiting room, there is a pamphlet about the hospital with pictures of severed hands, figures, feet and toes - illustrating the many possible reconnections available for your pleasure. Yummy!
Suffice it to say I do enjoy my 1 hour plus visit to the hospital, but I also won't miss it. I was told on my fist visit that it should take 3-4 weeks to recover. It has now been 2 weeks, leaving only 1-2 weeks left!

I will have a wicked scar though. It will probably look a lot like Chile...

"Where did you get that wound?"

"I got it in Korea."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Movie Tailer

The first trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie has been released.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not only one of the longest titles in movie history, but it is the fourth movie in the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy(?).

Harrison Ford returns as the main man, supported by Shia LeBeouf, Cate Blanchett and Karen Allen.

Watch the trailer here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting My Leg Up

This is a story of warning - Always get your injuries checked out at the hospital, as to avoid infection.

(WARNING: this post is not for the squeamish.)

I am currently lying in bed with my right leg elevated and bandaged. Thus, I have a lot of time to regale you with my story. Two and a bit weeks ago, I was walking back from work on a cold and icy Thursday night. Along the sidewalk here in Sinchon are cubes of granite one foot tall, thick and wide. I stepped on one and my foot slipped out from under me, causing my shin to contact the sharp 90 degree corner of the cube. A bloody cut a foot long sliced my right shin.

The cut was not deep and was tended to at home by myself and my friends and our first-aid kits. As the days progressed, the cut began to scab over. It was healing very well. Soon, the entire cut was scabbed and healing properly.

Then, two weeks later, the area of initial impact at the bottom of the cut began to get red and tender. Soon, it began to swell. Infection or broken bone, I thought.

I went to the hospital here in Seoul on Monday, and after taking a number (there are no appointments here at this private hospital), I was called to the doctors office. Inside were six other people, waiting to be seen by the doctor who was at his desk in the corner of the room. Two nurses worked another computer and juggled the patients. On the walls, were pictures stills of when the doctor was on TV saying something important.

Soon it was my turn and the doctor checked my leg saying it was an infection - cellulitis, to be exact. So I was put on antibiotics and my leg was put in a splint and wrapped up tight. I am going to the hospital daily for check-ups on crutches and I have been off work since Monday. Cellulitis can lead to other serious infections like meningitis, so caution needs to be taken.

Tuesday, the doctor lanced the swelling, causing me the most pain I have ever experienced in my life! (If I knew how much child-birth hurt, then maybe I could compare them. But I don't, so I won't.) Strangely, every time the nurse injected me with antibiotics (three times so far), she has done it a different way - injection, IV, and injection through an IV tube into the hand. Curious.

Overall, I am very impressed by the Korean hospital system. As a private hospital, there is more money available and excellent service. The doctors speak English and are very efficient. I am also half-covered by my work, so the experience is probably cheaper than in Canada.

So it's staying in bed for me with my leg up. Be sure to get your injury checked out asap and avoid those darned infections!

Monday, February 11, 2008

One More Minute of Fame - Update

A video of my cameo in "Butterfly on a Wheel."
Check here for the original post.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Sedaemun Natural History Museum of Seoul

"Located in the metropolitan area, our museum is an educational space for the young people, a cultural space for the local residents and a recreational space for the families.

We offer an opportunity to the people living in the city to encounter animals and plants easily which will encourage them to love and care for all living creatures
-The Sedaemun Museum website

The Sedaemun Natural History Museum is Seoul's largest and only museum dedicated entirely to the presentation of the plants and animals from Seoul and around the world. It is located at the top of one of the hills in Seoul, surrounded by trees and apartment buildings. Three stories high, it is a great museum full of stuffed animals, Korean plants, and dinosaurs.

Outside the front door is a HUGE chrome apatosaur skeleton slide (just like the wooden ones that filled my room as a kid!)

The highlight of the Sedaemun Museum is definitely a cast skeleton of an Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (a new one for my list!) The skeleton is awesome, located in the main lobby and a huge draw for schoolchildren.

Acrocanthosaurus atokensis - from Texas.

Check out the high neural spines on his back! Scientists used to think it was in the Spinosaur family, but it is actually related to Allosaurus. The spines represent convergent evolution.

The main lobby with kids, Acrocanthosaur, and Xiphactinus (fish on wall)

Kids vs Dino

Look out, Kid!


Tupuxuara longicristatus, a pterosaur from Brazil, swooping overhead

Pteranodon sternbergi flying over the Acrocanthosaur.
Zoom in...

...zoom in...

...full zoom. "Wonder."

Xiphactunus chasing some other prehistoric fish. (don't know which ones)

Back to Dinosaurs: Triceratops horridus

A wonderful pose, with the "Protoceratops and Velociraptor fighting fossil" behind

A cast of the famous Mongolian "Protoceratops vs Velociraptor" fossil. The two animals were found in the ground together, meaning they died together (either buried under a collapsed sand dune or in a fast-moving sandstorm!)

Stegosaurus stenops, with the famous Thagomizer on his tail.

A pair of Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis head butting - an outdated behavioral idea.
The domes were probably more likely used as a battering ram,
hitting their sides (not head-on).

A life-sized reconstruction of a mating pair of Troodon formosus - Truely Canadian Dinos!!!

The "Progression of Homonids" was very interesting, as the reconstructions looked Asian (as opposed to European - which is what most reconstructions look like!) In actuality, Asian-looking homonids make more sense as the accepted general progression of homonids is from Africa to Asia to America.

This stuffed leopord made me laugh out loud for at least 10 minutes.
Check out the drugged look on it's face and the drooping legs! Haha!
Worst stuffed animal ever!

Time for a drink in the Lobby. Very happy grape juice.

Dino Park on the roof. Stego, Brachiosaurus, and a T-Rex.

The King 'n' I.

There is much more than dinosaurs in the Sedaemun Museum - geology, volcanoes, weather, Korean history, insects etc. Everything a good natural history museum should be! I highly recommend it.

Check it out the next time you are in Seoul. You won't regret it!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Korean Facts! - Volume 1

(I live on the green line.)

There are stories I heard from my Japanese friends of the Tokyo subway of people being squished and pushed into the subway cars by men with white gloves. I expected something similar upon taking the Seoul train (get it? SoulTrain!)

But there were no men with white gloves on my train. The subway in Seoul is modern, safe, fast, clean, and cheap. Really cheep! It costs around $1 each way. It is a great system, in fact it's one of the best mass transit systems I have been on - better that London's, but not as good as Lisbon's...

It is still very, very busy though.

That's me, the white guy at the back of the car.

And here is Steve, the white guy up front!

Interesting Subway Fact: Most people on the subway pass the time by reading (above), listening to music, or texting on their cell phones. Some people also watch TV on their phones! Apperently, it is cheap to free to watch telly here - I plan to investigate with my cool phone...

Trying not to fall asleep and fall over.

Interesting Extra Korean Fact:
In the photo above, you can see a young woman with a polar bear head around her neck. This is a hood/scarf/gloves (with bear paws!) combo article of winter fashion. They have become trendy here in Seoul, which means EVERYONE has one. The are sold EVERYWHERE on EVERY street corner! Koreans seem to jump on trends - animal scarves, mini-skirts, and spiky hair... Just one more interesting Korean observation!