Thursday, November 29, 2007

November in Willow

I burnt the last of the wild grape jam. A pity. The grapes this year were sweet and abundant. I made several batches, but this, the last, got burnt when I got distracted up in my work room.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

High Holiday of the Stop Shopping Church

Yesterday was the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers stream into US malls in consumer frenzy. Driving by Macy's in Manhattan we noticed legions of police.They were there to "protect" the shoppers from Reverend Billy and a phalanx of striking elves.Reverend Billy's movie is open now at the Cinema Village and 33 locations around the US. It's not to be missed! A great work.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

The De-Militarized Tourist Zone

The biggest tourist destination around Seoul is the DMZ. Each day hundreds of visitors come to the border on buses from the city center. There are also many visits by groups of school children. In the DMZ museum dioramas and on the post cards the hostile cold war imagery has been changed to hand shakes and peace doves.The military presence is pictured as cute toy soldiers.I'm not sure that the camouflage will hide this border outpost. The thrill part of the tour is the exploration of the tunnels. Our guide claimed that the North Koreans had built seventeen tunnels from North Korea to the South, some over 50 kilometers long. Some of these tunnels are now explored by troops of tourists, who are issued hard hats for the trip. The guide said with a wicked laugh:"The South Koreans get the money (from the admission to the tours) but the North Koreans did all the work for nothing!" He also pointed out that there were now factories in the DMZ industrial zone where North Koreans get paid the equivalent of $60 a month. One of our Korean friends said that even that $60 was more than they actually get, as their dorm rental and food expenses are deducted from their checks.Dioramas in the museum point out the border and the "Joint Task Force" Zone, which now has a large population of endangered species of both flora and fauna.There are now tours to the North.
The souvenir shop at the DMZ sells framed pieces of the barbedwire border.This is me at the friendship bridge. The mountains behind me are in North Korea, home of one of Bush's axis of evil.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kim Chi Diorama

At the Folk Museum in Seoul there were extensive dioramas about Kim Chi.This one is mixing the peppers.The peppers are pouned by a pestle. On the side are buried storage pots with straw filtered tops.This is a group of kim chi pots. Kim chi and fermening soy beans are sometimes stored in banks of clay, dug out and then closed with vents to allow limited air intake.This is not in a diorama, but taken at a restaurant near the museum.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007


As the plane approached Seoul, it flew over the many new factories, ready for FTA. Although the Korean congress has yet to vote to endorse the pact, the Korean govenment and private companies have embraced the proposal. There are protests against the attempts by the government to break the strong workers movement here. There is a bill to allow "irregular" workers, which would undercut union strength.
The hotel has a post card in the room which shows a shiny 70s image.Now the hotel looks a bit different. The entrance is hidden behind shops on both sides and a tangle of wires.In cupboard of the bed side table is an emergency rope and a smoke mask.It doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

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