Monday, August 29, 2011

Facebook and Caller ID

OK, who around here remembers the late 1980s and early 1990s? Try to take yourselves back...picture it...all of a sudden there was this thing called caller ID. At first, very few people had it. Prior to caller ID, if you wanted to know who was calling you, you answered the phone. In between answering the phone and caller ID there was the whole answering machine call screening interlude (that was something we did before voice mail. You actually heard the message while it was being left! Good times) but soon enough we moved on to a magical device that told you who was calling when the phone rang.

I thought those people who needed to know who was calling them before saying hello were, frankly, a little paranoid. But OK, so, then the next thing happened: people on the other end were outraged! How would kids spend hours prank calling their neighbors, how would adolescents stalk their boyfriends and girlfriends, without anonymity? So they retaliated with a new invention: you could BLOCK your number on caller ID. Ha! thought the newly blocked callers, triumphantly. I shall save my privacy! A little paranoia from the other direction.

Or maybe, those calls would not get through, because the first set of paranoids quickly upped the ante by refusing to accept blocked calls. Maybe you dialed someone's phone number around 1993 and got a message that you could unblock your call for just this number by pressing some button or other. The paranoia was flying fast and furious, now.

And, then, ten years later everyone got a cell phone and checking the identity of callers became so automatic that all that early 90s paranoia became just ancient history for the kids today -- until it got transferred to Facebook.

The Facebook news feed is the new home for paranoia. "Facebook has done it again!" a friend's status will warn you. "Copy and re-post this so you can warn everyone your privacy settings have changed." There are blocking of friends, hiding of posts in news feeds, and the latest bit, an attempt to not be left in the dust by Google+, of deciding post by post whether to share it with everyone or some people or some other people.

Yet, it's Facebook. Facebook! The idea of being paranoid about one's privacy while on Facebook remains a marvel to me. But then again, I clearly don't understand these things, as I never once in my life shelled out one red cent or spent one minute of effort on caller ID, call blocking or not accepting blocked calls.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August! Fly by she must!

There is just so much I've been meaning to say to you, dear blogosphere.

First of all, I am sad to note that the deliciously hot summer seems to want a cooling off period. "Already?!" I cry, indignant. It is still August. It should still by steamy and sunny and hot and summery and there should be none of this layering and shivering that I experienced yesterday. I can't believe how many people whine and moan and complain about the hot Korean summer when it's over so quickly! But then again, people like to complain about all sorts of things in Korea and lump them into this giant mash of I'm-Better-Than-You-Let-Me-Tell-You-What's-Wrong-and-Nonsensical-About-Korea, even when they are things that have nothing to do with Korea, like weather.

Anyway, so yeah. The time is a-flying and we are quickly approaching the end of the second third of our year in Andong. Also, we are in a three-month period where we actually get some holidays and vacations, which makes this time go even faster! We just had a week off in August for our academy's summer vacation, during which we were able to take our favorite little ferry boat over to our favorite neighboring country of Japan and experience all sorts of Japan wonderfulness again. Much swooning! Next up is Chuseok, in September, a thankful harvesty festival that gives us another 5-day weekend and a chance for a slight excursion somewhere. Finally, there will be a 3-day weekend at the beginning of October, and at that time will also be Andong's famous international traditional mask and dance festival, right here in our little city, drawing travelers and culture lovers and dancers and tailgaters from all around the world. Or maybe I should say, we the foreigners will be doing the tailgating, by the riverside. Our personal contribution to Andong's festival week!

I want to give you a play by play of our Japan trip, when time permits, but the short version is that it is amazing (still) and that we climbed Mt. Fuji. Climbing Mt. Fuji is not actually as hard as it sounds. (I knew this already, because I am a savvy traveler, and I have known Fuji things for many years.) While the peak is 3,776 meters, it's not as if you start from 0. You start on the mountainside. And there are so many people who do the climb during the official climbing season, and there are mountain huts where people stay overnight when they climb in time to see the sun rise, and there are people at said huts selling water and other drinks, and the atmosphere at the summit is downright festive, really. Walking around the crater at the top is a bit more wild-like -- we joked that we were on the moon -- but even that walk takes you to a weather station and stuff. You never really feel like you have left civilization. The only thing you really have to worry about is altitude sickness. Well, that and wrecking your knees on the downhill trail. It's a brutal one!

The other accomplishments of our summer? We got in some beach time in Busan, spending a few delightful weekends there. We discovered that our favorite thing to do is go lie on Haeundae beach for the afternoon and then head to the Sajik Stadium in Pusan for a Lotte Giants home baseball game. Although I had been kind of partial to the Samsung Lions, what with them being Daegu's team and having blue for a color and all, it turns out in the end I am a Lotte Giants fan. A good time is had by all at the Korean baseball games. And, like most things around here, it is sweetly affordable for us English teachers. Such a grand life we lead!

The Lotte Giants may even end up in the playoffs, as they have climbed into fourth place in the eight-team Korean baseball league. Meanwhile back at the ranch (the U.S.A.) my Braves are well on their way to securing themselves a playoffs spot, too. Yay!

I will breathlessly rave about Japan as soon as time permits.

Don't even think about switching from iced coffee to hot, people! Summer, summer, summer!