Friday, March 31, 2006

Syringe Day

Todays theme was centered around syringes for no apparent reason. I walked into one class and found a boy sucking yellow liquid (perhaps honey or candy) out of a plastic syringe.

In a different class a cute, little 11 year old girl handed me this notebook so I could check her homework. I'd give anything to know what the designer was on at the time!

A bunch of my students are using these notebooks... Who comes up with this stuff? -- This is a Korean Notebook, originally uploaded by comatosed.

Fresh Radioactive Food

Bullet #2 reads "Just like mom makes it". -- Fresh Radioactive Food, originally uploaded by comatosed

This advert is hanging above the sandwiches and gim-bop in the local GS convenience store right across the street. Looks like Samsung has decided to get into the sandwich industry. Something about workers in white biohazard suites handling my food is deeply disturbing.

Friday, March 24, 2006

iPhoto & EXIF


While the following is intended to help anyone looking to write EXIF data (specificly comment and keyword data) from iPhoto, it may also be of use to those seeking to compress photos in Image Ready without loosing EXIF data. I encourage anyone who doesn't understand the previous sentence to skip this entry as it may induce boredom, confusion, nausea, etc.


Well I just spent close to 24 hours reinventing the way
I will manage my photos. It was my joining Flikr that
started the whole ordeal... basically, I just wanted to
tag my photos. I quickly realized it would be waste of
time to only tag online photos so I went about tagging
them all in iPhoto. It turns out this was no where near
as easy as it sounds.

My Stuff:

-Mac Powerbook G4
-Pentax Optio WP
Software Used
-iPhoto 6.0
-Graphic Converter
-Image Ready
Scripts Used

-Set Exif Data

The Old System

After receiving my first mac two years ago I came up
with a pretty logical approach to storing my photos. It
goes something like this:
1. Import photos into iPhoto
-Delete and Enhance
2. Export edited photo album into a folder
3. Use R-Name to rename photos in the following format
4. Use Image Ready to reduce batch to JPG Quality 10 (I
rarely print my photos and I can't see the difference
on the screen)
5. Save both Original and Low Quality batches to
external hard drive as backup
6. Delete original photos from iPhoto and import the
new Low Quality folder

The Problem

While this system may seem tedious at first, I could do
it all in about 5 after the editing and tagging
process. It was the desire to add tags to photos that
brought my current system to its' knees. Here is what I


1. iPhoto reads limited EXIF Data (I didn't even know
this abbreviation 24 hours ago!) and wont write any
2. iPhoto comments and keywords are stored separately
from photos (should anything ever happen to your iPhoto
library, be prepared to say goodbye to literally weeks
spent tagging and commenting on photos)
Hence, exporting photos from iPhoto retains none of the
comments or keywords. Pissed, I took a minute to send
iPhoto some feed back and then the search began... for
some kind of script or program that could write my
iPhoto keywords as EXIF data. I'm still astonished I
wasn't able to find anything less complex. I ended up
having to download a script that would trigger the
ExifTool command line (if that's what it's called) to
assign iPhoto keywords to EXIF Data. While I would
consider myself fairly advanced at using Macs I'm
absolutely and completely lost when it comes to using
The first obstacle I hit when running the script was
that it couldn't call ExifTool. It took me a while to
figure out where it was being called and the fact I had
to show the script the path to the command. Once I
figured this out the script worked flawlessly but of
course I could not actually see if the keywords were
being inserted because iPhoto doest display that
particular EXIF data. So, through some research and
plenty of trail and error I eventually figured out how
to pull up a JEPG's EXIF data in terminal using
ExifTool. Here I could see the script had actually
As I played around with the script I noticed that each
time I ran it on the same photo my list of tags for the
photo grew exponentially. So I managed to figure out
how to overwrite tags rather than append to them. I
made a number of additional changes to the script too:
-Inserted my Copy Right and URL information into the
-Made iPhoto comments write to both comments and
Description EXIF fields (Flikr uses Description EXIF
data not Comments)
-Made iPhoto keywords write to EXIF KeyWord field and
append to EXIF comment field (because most of my other
programs can only read the comments section)
Excited that I had managed to learn how to do all this
in the last 24 hours, I went about tagging and
exporting a bunch of photo albums. Then another
obstacle presented itself...

Image Ready and EXIF Data

When optimizing a photo in Image Ready it strips the
JPEG of tones of EXIF data. I did comparisons between
between an original photo taken right off my Pentax, an
image exported from iPhoto and an image optimized in
Image Ready.

(A-Original-EXIF /
B-iPhoto-EXIF /
C-ImageReady-EXIF /
D-GraphicConverter-EXIF )

Both the original and iPhoto images retained all
EXIF data while Image Ready had significantly less.
While it retained keyword and description data I wanted
the comment data as well. (However, now I'm begging to
question why I feel the comment data is important... I
have the exact same data in the Keyword and Description
fields.... hmmm.... nonetheless, you lose too much
potentially valuable data)
Believing there was some kind of fix in Image Ready for
this, I went out to research yet again. Finding
nothing, I gave up decided to see if there were other
applications that could compress without stripping
EXIF. The packaged ACDSee software that came with my
Pentax was garbage so I went about using that
mysterious Graphic Converter application that came
bundled with my Mac. And this was my saving grace! Not
only did an image compressed to 50% look great and take
up a 1/20th the original space but it retained all EXIF
data (after choosing these settings in preferences).
So here's the new process should anyone be looking to
do the same thing:
1. Import, Edit, Tag and Comment in iPhoto
2. Run EXIF script to write new info
3. Export photos to folder
4. Batch rename and compress images
5. Save originals and low quality images on external
6. Import low quality images back into iphoto
I hope this was helpful to someone. Should you have any
questions don't hesitate to ask though I basically
divulged all my knowledge on he subject here. Good Luck

Monday, March 20, 2006

Crazed Korean

I was awoken to screams of agony and anger accompanied by loud thuds last night. My bedroom widow had been left open just a bit in the hopes of getting a better sleep. Now the sounds of the crazed man were pouring through the crack.

Initially, I just lay there in bed hoping the drunken idiot would stop banging around, but as I waited, things only started to sound worse. Reluctantly, I forced myself out of bed and walked over to my window. A mere block away from my bedroom I could see the man stumbling back and fourth now clutching a large object in his hand.

Lights in the surrounding apartments flickered on but no one said a word. I had always wanted to yell something at a belligerent on the street in the middle of the night. I tried to muster the most manly, aggressive and threatening voice I could but let out startlingly weak, hoarse, croaking "Hey! Shut the F..." My girlfriend snickered under her breath. I cleared my throat and was much more convincing the second time around though my words didn't even phase the stranger.

By this point the man was throwing anything he could at the car in front of him, occasionally taking a break to go a vomit. I heard windows shattering and bricks bouncing off the metal, each destructive action executed with a shrill, painstaking scream. What was I doing just sitting here watching this all happen? I was missing grade A footage for my blog!

I grabbed my camera (the one with the broken screen.... arrrrggg!) and bolted for the door. As soon as I stepped outside the police arrived so I decided to loop around the back. I moved stealthily through the crisp night air and took up a position on the corner. Hiding behind some bushes, I pointed my camera through the hole at the bottom.

Unfortunately, none of the night footage was any good, only the flashing police lights can be made out clearly. Nothing too extraordinary happened anyways. The most surprising thing about the whole incident was how the police handled it. The man as clearly aggressive and wasn't even incapacitated though he pushed the officers around a few times. Then his wife or girlfriend came out and he smacked her around too, right in front of them! All officers did was tell them him to stop when he continued to sporadically abuse her. The wife beater would have been allowed to go back to bed however, soon the cops had enough of his misbehavior and took him to the station in the front seat of their curser. He was back on the street and being belligerent within hours.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


A bunch of us went to a house party last night. We figured you couldn't celebrate St Patrick's Day without a fight so we all started scrapping, just for fun. A monster of a man, also named Greg, started throwing me around. It was all fun and games until the screen on my camera was crushed... AGAIN! Now this little fight cost me $120 bucks. This SUCKS! TOTALY SUCKS...

I'll post photos and an extended account of the nights events once this hangover wears off.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Board Break'n Bikers

You wanna see crazy stunt riding ninjas smashing through wood with their bare hands and tearing up the streets of Gumi? I suggest googling it. Should you find nothing, click here to see our impression of crazy stunt riding ninjas smashing through wood with their bare hands and tearing up the streets of Gumi.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Off the Deep End

Bryant, Bryan and I decided it would be fun to hit a pool here in Gumi. While the three of us have set foot in many a Jim Jil Bong (Bath House) we had no idea what to expect when it came to actually swimming. In any event, we figured most any experience would be pale in comparison to the fist time you bathe with a hundred naked Koreans...

It was a balmy 15 degrees outside , a perfect day for riding our motorbikes to the Olympic size pool. I had packed some high bounce balls to throw around and my water proof camera simply so I could justify having bought a waterproof camera.

We paid the $2.50 entrance fee and headed for the changing room. The change room put most other changing rooms to shame. It was laid out exactly like a Jim Jil Bong. Two large wooden platforms sat on the heated linoleum teak. Lockers covered in the same fake hardwood surrounded the changing area. There was no need to bring your own lock or fumble around looking for change, the lady at the entrance had provided us all with keys, free of charge.

Just off of the changing room was the shower room tiled with thick slabs of marble and granite. Here 10 showers and large mirrors took up two of the walls while the adjacent wall had four seated showering areas. Koreans do everything in the shower: washing, shaving, oral hygiene... even workouts.

From the showers we found our way up the steps into the main pool area. The smell of chlorine lingered in the humid air and echos of splashes and shouting filled the giant rectangle room. I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first but the entire situation seemed extremely foreign. The enormous room had two pools, one for swimming lengths and another for learning to swim lengths. I scanned two or three times for diving boards and play pools filled with mats fountains but there was nothing.

By this time all eyes were tuned on us as we were the only foreigners at the pool. Furthermore, the three of us we sporting large baggy shorts rather than the Speedos and black one piece bathing suits the remaining 150 people were dressed in. Feeling a little out of place we jumped into the training pool where 30 or so mostly Korean woman were learning or practicing swimming. I was shocked to find the water only came up to my waist when I plunged in.

Bryan, Bryant and I had figured that once in the water we would blend in. We splashed around a bit, swam to the opposite end and stood side by side along the edge. Then this slightly eerie feeling came over us as we noticed all activity had ceased and every Adjuma (old married women) was lined up along the opposing wall 20 meters away. It was at this point a swimming instructor came by and started giving us what we thought was shit. It turns out we were breaking the number one rule... swimming WITHOUT a swimming cap! Suddenly it became even clearer why things felt so strange... absolutely everyone was wearing a swimming cap and goggles. Kindly, the swimming instructor lent us three caps, two yellow ones with a shark and dolphin playing happily and one red and white one bearing a big maple leaf. Bryan beat me to the draw!

After donning my new cap I instantly felt a little more at home. The three of us decided to vacate the little pool so that the Adjumas could resume their strange pool activities. Over in the lengths pool there was a lot more going on. Three lanes were filled with people doing some kind of pool aerobics... hitting the water with all their fury. Two other lanes must have been reserved for classes because we were kicked out of them into the last remaining lane that looked like an overcrowded salmon run. Here an Adjuma became our self appointed coach, pushing us to keep swimming and following so close behind we could feel her fingers hitting our toes.

After one length I pulled my exhausted body onto the edge of the pool and sat quietly, taking in the surreal environment that surrounded me. I studied the overbearing pixilated pictures tiled into each of the four walls. An array of tiny, colorful square tiles depicted a man doing the crawl and little squares of water splashing up from where his hand had just exited the water. The three remaining pictures were just as simplistic as the first. Finally, the perfect adjective came to me... COMMUNISTIC. The giant, white tiled rectangle room, the lack of decor, the absence of furniture and 150 people dressed the same and moving in unison. It was as though I had stumbled into Kim Il Sung's athletic training center.

Coach and a few other Adjumas waved good bye as we left. The three of us sauna-d it up before hitting the showers. Then came the highlight of the day, I got to put my bathing suit in this little cylinder next to the shower entrance and with the turn of a dial it wound up to speed and water started pouring out the bottom... a suit juicer of sorts! On our way out we hit the Pro-Shop searching for caps and goggles to use next time.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One With The Garbage

-View from our kitchen window

We had a garbage problem up until today. In fact, out entire neighborhood and most of Korea had and still has a garbage problem. The apartment my room mate and I just vacated had over 10 years of accumulated English teacher goods. Amongst countless other items, we found eight umbrellas, five modems, four computer monitors, 3 TVs and two dirty magazines. Three quarters of the stuff we moved out of the old apartment never made it past the door of our new apartment. Instead, our boss had us offload the extra furniture, electronics and garbage into some farmers field right across the street.

-The smoldering remains

Over the last week scavengers have helped themselves to our abandoned treasure while stray cats have taken refuge amongst our old mattresses and sofas. I'm a little sad to say the garbage sanctuary outside our house has now been burnt to the ground. All the plastic, upholstery and circuit boards have been reunited with the soil again. Come spring, pepper trees will be thriving on the nutrients left behind in these ashes. And on some Sunday in the near future, I'll buy peppers off an old Adjuma at the local street market and be one with my garbage again.

Monday, March 06, 2006

House Warming

Well... the move is over and one week later we finally have gas to cook with. The whole moving experience is worth documenting... sooner or later I'll get around to it. In the mean time enjoy the photos at: