Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 16 The other side of the World Part 2 Oct 17th

The scanning marathon continues.

But as excited as enumerating our scanning procedures may be, i think ill pass on the technical details.

I had mentioned that South Korea was way more industrialized, clean, and generally more first world-ish than i expected. However that does not mean its a a carbon copy of our western world (ok there was a 7-11 out our front door and a McDonalds around the corner) Perhaps the biggest difference was the food.

First the bad... as it was what we noticed first. Octopus jerky, deep fried silkworm pupae, cheese-sticks with fish parts embedded, soup with ligaments knees, and of course Korean blood sausage. I say this with a caveat of course... I eat scrapple (once a year) and that is made from scraps of scraps of scraps.

And the good stuff. Bi bim bab, basically rice and veggies then you put on your own chili paste to suit you tastes... delicious. Dumplings,bbq,and strange but tasty pastries spun from sugar... i think they translated to 10000 strands.

We picked up a few words... not enough to get around, but the language seems more manageable than other asian languages. aneseyo:hello consumeneda:thanks yogi:here chogi:there
Also the written language is syllable based. there are only 25 characters rather than the 100s in chinese. For each syllable they stack up a set of 3 or 4 characters to make what looks complicated at first... but is really just a collection of more simple characters. These syllables then get used as the building blocks .
for larger construction.

We think of the North Korea / South Korea conflict as relatively benign. Sure there have been some greater rumblings from the North lately, and certainly there is a dangerous regime in place. But we almost view those as future threats from our American viewpoint. But for South Koreans, the war with the North didnt end in the 50s (in fact it never did end and the two sides are technically still at war) and there is a strong sense that war is here and now. Air raid sirens (the benign almost anachronistic relics here in the US) mean that everyone stops what they are doing and wait for instruction to proceed to shelters etc. There is a certain military feel on the streets.

I think this has given the South Koreans a sense of urgency and importance to their daily lives i find somewhat envious. I sometimes feel an American complacency in many spheres of life. Our place in the global mindset, our arrogance with our language, even how we work our business. It seems that the threat of the North has given the South Koreans a catalyst for their impressive growth these last few decades.

After two weeks, we finally finished all our intended work, but we has been run ragged. Due to the type of scanning equipment being used, we would have to concentrate for a few minutes and then sit around at wait for 10, and again and again. This yielded little true down time to unwind and at the same time killed our motivation. We watched a lot of green bars passing slowly across the screen, and copying many many gigabytes of data to all our backup drives. Next time i think we will ship a real server.

Harry tries to keep the troops in line. Pete is suitably dispassionate about the prospect of another day on the hamster wheel.

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