Monday, September 02, 2013

Eli Beer: The fastest ambulance? A motorcycle


We need more people like this. He has love for humanity. "A life-saving flash mob."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lanikai LU-21: Just lovely.

I was able to finally order a uke for myself. I got exactly the uke I wanted, the Lanikai LU-21, with a gig bag and a Fender tuner. It took three weeks to deliver, probably because it required international shipping. It came on June 19th, the day my grade had a photo shoot for the yearbook. I wanted to hold the ukulele for my photo but it arrived later than the shoot. Shame, it could have arrived just a few hours earlier.

I checked the package arrival list every half-hour. I was able to get it on my third trip to the dorm's main office. I was waddling the whole way to my room; the uke had protective double packaging and the box was very large.

The moment I tried to open it I was reminded of how important this was to me. I've been "mooning over" a ukulele for several years, and it took me the effort of making a cash card, finding a teacher who'll pay for my order with a Visa or MasterCard, and contacting the customs office to get this. So I decided to take some pictures, and here they are. (I also ordered a method book to learn how to play the uke and two books that are hard to find in Korea: "Freakonomics" and "That Book About Harvard.")

Books books books. I truly love nonfiction and memoirs.

This is the gig bag. I'm worried it wouldn't be enough to protect my uke...

I love how oblique this box looks xD

And yes. The uke. The Lanikai LU-21.

It looks so cute and perfect in my hand.

The uke lying in its gig bag. I'll have to get a hard case someday.

So in the few days after the uke's arrival I was able to learn how to play it. The "Ukulele Primer" book was a great help. The DVD that comes with it is very informative. The instructor in it (Bert Casey) a bit of the you-bother-me-and-you-die kind of look, but I think he is a good instructor. Now I can play and sing along to "He Has the Whole World in His Hands." It is very easy to learn. But I don't know a thing about musical theory, so if I want to play any song without searching ukulele tabs for it I'll have to learn music all over again. It will be hard work but I'm going to do it anyway. If I don't, having bought the ukulele will become all for naught.

As for the Lanikai LU-21 model, it's really cute(as you can see in the pictures). I especially like the color and the white binding. Its sound is very deep for a ukulele, which is one of the reasons I bought it. The sound is louder than what you’d expect from such a small instrument. For the first few days, it goes out of tune every few minutes but now it's completely fine. It actually holds tune quite well! I bought it for $85.92, and it turns out to have been a bargain.

I hope to post a video of myself playing it in the future, after I get better at it :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Joseph Kim: The family I lost in North Korea. And the family I gained.

Both as a person and as a South Korean, this is very touching. I almost cried watching this. I can picture a little starved boy searching trash can after trash can, hoping that the next trash can had bread in it. There are also several things that I relate to him as a Korean. The best way to honor one's parents in Korea is to study. It is part of the driving force that makes Korean people study so hard. Studying is not an easy task; it requires concentration, discipline, and perseverance. He would have studied hour after hour, thinking of his father who was starved to death, every word of his teachings echoing in his ears. Another thing that made tears well up in my eyes was how he called out "누나" to his sister. This is where the Korean language shows its true value. The word "누나," which means older sister, has a warm connotation. It's the kind of word that makes one picture a teenage girl carrying her young brother on her back, showing genuine care for him, feeding him, being his second mother. "누나"s are people boys (and also many men) rely on during hard times. Korean 누나s have saved their little brothers during times of war and famine, feeding them soup they made on their own and lulling them to sleep. In some way, seeing a 누나 take care of her brother is more touching than seeing a mother. They're doing it even though it's not their natural responsibility. She might still be young, but acts mature just for her brother. And the sister-brother relationship is the most heartwarming, because 누나s are the only people for whom boys drop their masculinity and aggressiveness. 누나s are the symbol of maternal love found in young girls. It's one of my favorite words of the Korean language. The word brings tears to my eyes.

And this guy. He said 누나. He called out 누나. And now I'm weeping. For him. And for all the 누나s and their brothers who are separated.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Your body language shapes who you are - Amy Cuddy

Another fantastic TedTalk. This one is good because Amy Cuddy doesn't just tell you that you have to be confident; she chooses the exact words and the exact advice to help us feel confident. And she has a wonderful experience of overcoming her hardship, which she shares with us in this talk. Thank you, Amy Cuddy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Little Free Library (and on neighbors)

I found this project while reading someone's blog. It's called "Little Free Library" and basically, people build little shelves like this by themselves and fill it with books that they want to share with the neighbors. Everyone can read from any "little free library" they want. 

I think this is a fantastic idea. The idea of sharing books is so beautiful. This will help people get closer to their neighbors too. People say that the books you read show who you are. As people peer into each other's shelves, see what kinds of books there are, and even pick out a few  to read for themselves, they will get to know each other better. Good books are invaluable, and everyone will be sharing books that have special places in their hearts. 

This will be really helpful for nations like Korea, where neighbor-neighbor relations are very feeble. Unless there's a fight over floor noises, we almost never see our neighbors around here. Something is going terribly wrong. Urbanization robbed the country of the sense of "neighborhood." Basically, Koreans are really nice people once you get to know them and they are willing to help at times of trouble, but before that, everyone keeps their distance. (We don't say hello to each other in the elevator. Well, I think that's a problem. Why all the awkwardness?)

Maybe I can do something to change this social atmosphere. I've always envied how Americans treat their neighbors like friends and family. I will try to find out more about little free libraries, and maybe try to set one up in the apartment. And I can try and make friendly conversation with the neighbors I meet in the elevator. Small things can change a lot. Wish me good luck!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Jeju Island in three days!

I was very busy these past few weeks, I couldn't post anything. My school schedule is overflowing with daily evaluations, sucking the life out of me. To relax I'd been watching videos from TEDTalks and TEDEducation, and I've shared two videos that I felt were really worth watching. You should all subscribe to those channels, they're very helpful.

At least I have something to look forward to. All the ninth graders are going on a trip to Jeju Island in three days. Just in case you don't know, which you probably don't, it's a big, beautiful island on the southern end of Korea. It's a big tourist attraction here. Check it out, the entire island is a UNESCO Natural Heritage!

So I'm going to this place with my friends just three days later, I'm really looking forward to it. I'll post a few pictures when I come back. We're also having a talent show there. I hate dancing, so I chose to sing something... But I'm not sure what. It'd be nicer if I could get my ukulele before I get there, but the estimated arrival date is exactly the day I leave, next Monday. I'll most probably sing a Taylor Swift or Katy Perry song. Do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

This is my favorite TedTalk so far. I wish I had a teacher like this, and I really hope that one day I would give a speech like this and move thousands of people. This talk just made my day. Thank you, Rita Pierson.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My speech for ESU Korea

Hi again.

I really enjoy speaking in front of a crowd. I'm not exactly sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I definitely want a job dedicated to giving speeches. Whenever I say something terrific and see the audience nodding or laughing out loud, I'm sure that I'm the happiest and most confident person in the world. I mean, look at all those people agreeing to what I'm saying!

So this February I entered this competition called ESU Korea Public Speaking Competition. It's the most prestigious speech competition in Korea, and I aced it!! I received the best award for the junior high division, and here's my speech (people were laughing through the entire speech):

How is it? Did you like it?

One thing's for sure. God, I looked so ugly there. 

In my dorm room.

That's how I usually look. I took this one after waking up in the morning, don't know why though;; (Yup, that's my dorm room.)

Well, thanks for listening to my speech! (And also enduring my complaints about how I looked uglier than usual in the video.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Treasure Hunt

This is what I wrote for my creative writing project when I was in 7th grade. I was a lot younger back then, and looking back, I can easily see that my style really had room for improvement (although I still do). But I personally cherish this essay. It's about the things I love, and it reminds me of the happy moments of my life. It also has something to do with this blog's title: "Beauty lies in the details." I had that belief since I was very young, and it's reflected in this essay. So this seemed like a very appropriate essay to post here. I hope you enjoy it!

             What do you treasure? Some people treasure a music box. Others treasure their diaries. Still others treasure old books. My literature teacher treasures his family Bible and a milk pitcher that reminds him of his father’s childhood.
             Everyone has some kind of thing that he or she treasures. Usually it is something that reminds them of specific things. Whether it may be their ancestors, their values, or their childhood, they wish to keep it with them for their entire life. That’s because they know that sometimes, the average piece of junk can be more valuable than anything.

             Since when I was very young, I had things that I treasured. Unlike other kids, I had always loved nature. All the buildings of my elementary school were surrounded in a beautiful garden. At the beginning of every year I would see green points sprouting out of the ground, and sometimes I climbed up trees and made attempts to pick an apricot, which I always failed to do. I found a tree with its two big branches overlapped, and I enjoyed the sunshine and the flowers on the tree, lying on it all recess.
There was this pond, too, where a number of plants including cattails, reeds, maple trees, and grass grew. In the summer I climbed up a mound surrounding the pond and jumped from it, excited by the short moments of levitation. In the winter I skated on the frozen pond with boots damp from snowball fights.
             I just couldn't suppress my love for nature, even when it affected my schedule. When I was in first grade, I wasn't used to distinguishing between recess time and class time. As soon as recess started I jumped out of the classroom, and I gathered some flower petals and blades of lime-green grass that I loved. I then darted to a rock mound and put them between two big rocks, and blocked the gap with a stone. I called this place my “treasure chest.” Several friends joined in, too, in this small game that I had invented. But this game only got me in trouble when I was late for class every period. My mom even had to buy me a watch. However, I so cherished my “treasure chest” that I didn't even mind going to the restroom.
             That winter I had given up that weird but cute habit. I had found something even more beautiful. In the school garden there was a rock with a round hole on the top of it. It had just rained, so the rock held the rainwater like a water bowl. The scene so splendidly matched with the maple trees and persimmon trees surrounding it. I plucked some leaves from maple trees, persimmon trees, and box trees around the rock and softly placed the leaves on the rainwater. I was amazed by the beauty. A photographer could really make a work of art out of it. I did this every day.

             And this one day was very cold. I was just passing by the rock when I noticed a wonderful change. The transparent ice contained an artwork of red and orange leaves hidden in its depths. I would never forget that mystical world the ice seemed to contain. And the next time I visit my elementary school again, that rock would surely be the first thing I would want to see.

             Nature has been my treasure even after the graduation from my beautiful elementary school. During vacations, I visited the “Seori-grass Citizens’ Park” with Dad for a long walk. The scent of the forest air and the crunching of dry leaves below my feet have always charmed me. I’m currently planning to go to Joongmi National Park, which is near my school. I have been there once and a kind forest guide led my family through the trees, showing us traces of woodpeckers and insects and telling us how wise the trees are.
             Nature has also been part of the reason why I decided to study in CheongShim International Middle School. Every day I go to school breathing in scents of fresh leaves, and sometimes during lunchtime I walk on the damp grass of our school field. Nature is found all around us, if we look carefully, and yet, it will be my special treasure for my lifetime.

             All people treasure good food, too.

There are many restaurants in my neighborhood, since it has many apartment buildings. They are of many kinds, Korean, Italian, and Chinese. There are so many that my family has difficulty choosing where to eat out. But there’s a small restaurant under a parking lot. Its name is “House.” I really love House. House has been my favorite restaurant ever since I first visited there.
To reach House you have to go down a long line of slippery, dark-orange stairs. If you turn left at the end of the stairs, there is a small, yellow, and rusty gate. It has a cute chef figurine on it, always smiling. This yellow gate and figurine makes me feel as if I’m entering the small world of House. As you open the heavy khaki door, a low-sounding cowbell will greet you. A happy feeling fills you on the way to House, even before you see just how wonderful it is.
House has walls made of bricks, the color of Chic-Choc cookies. Seen from the location of the door, there’s a counter on the left, the basket on it full of colorful candies. There’s a kitchen that smells of freshly baked bread on the far left. There’s a party room with yellow lights brighter than the others, a long line of dark-brown tables and light-brown chairs on the front left. The party room is surrounded by a top glass pane, bottom brick wall. The ordinary tables are cleaned neatly, with cushioned chairs and heavy brown tables. Behind the party room there’s a plush sofa where friends can gather to watch TV. On the passageway between the sofa and kitchen, there is a small blackboard on which little kids can draw with chalk. The slightly dim lighting and the waiter in a casual green T-shirt and a light brown apron give a friendly feeling. The small candle lantern that the waiter always puts in front of me is also charming.

House is always full of the scent of wonderful meals. When you order the food, loaves of warm bread come out in a soft basket. The smell is so good and it feels moist and soft at the touch. I save it until my goulash spaghetti comes out. It has a dark red sauce and has a cute green herb on the top. It comes out in a white, flat china bowl with handles. As the waiter brings it to me, the slightly oily smell of goulash sauce floods into my nose.
The pasta has very much sauce absorbed in it. I can feel it melting in my mouth. Often, I pick up the “saved” bread in front of me, plunge it in the red sauce, and take a bite. The goulash and soft bread mix to make a fantastic taste. After I finish the pasta, I pick up my big spoon and scrape the goulash to finish the meal. It is always slightly oily with a tomato taste. I just love House’s goulash spaghetti.

The ambiance and the food are perfect, with a calm, warm feeling. I loved House more than any restaurant. I even went there four times a week sometime. But sadly, House’s owner changed recently and I cannot taste the same food now. I only wish that I could find the chef of the former House somewhere else. 
There are many other things that I love and cherish, like the smell of paper, the swish of pencils, and the tick of clocks. I like the sky and the stars. I like keeping diaries, although it’s hard to write every day. I like reading good magazine articles and debating with other students. I like the animation characters Wallace and Gromit. Like many other tired, worn-out Korean students, I love bedtime too.
The treasures I cherish always fill my life with sweet scents. Many people’s unique scents are being blown out in modernized and busy schedules, but if they cling to them, I’m sure everyone will keep their own treasures. If I want to write, I can always get a pencil and a piece of paper to write with. If I want to see the stars, I can always go out. Success lasts for only a lifetime, but your life’s sweet scent lives on and on. When everyone tries to keep a seedling of his or her treasures alive, the world will soon become a big, green forest of trees that live on and let future generations stroll in it. It gives meaning and energy to one’s life. Everyone should continue their treasure hunt. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I want a ukulele!

For the past few months I've been having this terrible ukulele fever.
I've been playing the violin for nine years, and it's getting pretty boring now. The worst part is that I don't enjoy calm classic music. The only music I like that comes from orchestras are film scores and march music.

I really want to play pop songs I like with my very own instrument. I've always wanted to play the guitar, but my roommate told me that it hurts your fingers a lot. I tried pressing the strings on one and it really did hurt, so I was hesitant with the guitar. That's when the ukulele popped into my mind.

About two years ago I was in Heyri Art Valley, and I came across this ukulele learning center. I went in with my mom and we actually checked out a few models, but she told me I would have to give up. I did give it up back then, just wondering when I would be able to get one.

But I can't stand it anymore. I'm a very active and playful person, and violins are anything but that. Seriously. I can't stand drawing bows instead of plucking strings. I enjoy plucking strings much better, I'm doing that with my violin every freaking day. I hate this so much. I need something to pluck!

Ah... perfect.

A few days ago I went to the local bookstore. (Yes, it is local, but it's super big. It's as big as any WalMart.) In the music section a few cute ukuleles were displayed, and I immediately asked my mother if I could have one. When she said no I was crying on the inside.

I really feel the need for a ukulele. So what I'm trying to do is make a plan to get it without my parents finding out. I have a few advantages and disadvantages about this plan. The advantage is that I live in a dorm, so if I buy it and play it a thousand times in my room my parents are never going to know about it. The disadvantage is that when I go home on weekends, I don't have any chance to go to a store without being accompanied. (I hate my hagwon schedules!!)

Solution? Amazon, of course.

So I looked up some ukuleles for starters on Amazon, and I found a really cute and affordable one. It's a soprano ukulele, the most popular one, and it's from Lanikai. I heard this brand was reliable, and the customer reviews are fantastic. 4.8 out of 5 stars. It's $85.92, and a bag and a tuner comes with it. What a bargain! It's in my cart right now.

I found some nice books for starters too. The one on the left had good reviews for content, and the one on the right has a CD with it, thought it might be useful.

Amazon tells me that if I order all these plus an elementary song book, it will cost me $168.60. I'm willing to and capable of paying for it, but I don't have a credit card. So I'll have to ask an adult to order it for me and pay him or her back. There are a few teachers I could ask. My violin teacher is actually very supportive of me buying a ukulele. (She knows I won't quit the violin even if I buy one.) But I can see her only once a week, so it might be a little inconvenient. I also have my dorm parent, she's really a 50/50 chance... And there's my Literature teacher, who's American and probably already has an Amazon account.

So please wish me good luck! If I succeed in getting this beautiful instrument, I'll write another post reporting the good news. 

Sites I adore

Here are some internet sites that I literally adore.

Facts & Research


Kidipede <-- this one is really helpful


And of course...


The Free Dictionary

And my favorites.

Khan Academy



Amazon (no better place!)

Society6 (fantastic designs. like seriously.)

RedBubble (also fantastic designs.)

Harry Potter


Elm Goes to Hogwarts (some useful info about Pottermore.)

GryffinRoar (all Pottermore tips there are to offer. And I can chat with people here!)

The Universal Store (this place KILLS me.)

Best funfun

Monsters University

Romney's Tax Plan

Charity & Inspiring

charity: water




So that's them! I really love those sites. They are what Internet is for. (well, to add on that context, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are also great.)

Enjoy your visits there!

Harry Potter Addiction

Here's an essay I wrote about a year ago, about my Harry Potter addiction. The topic: What are some of the ‘modern addictions’? In what ways do they harm us? What are their saving graces?

             It’s funny how people always find something to be addicted to. In the Middle Ages people were addicted to chess. After that, when the printing press was invented, people were addicted to adventure stories. When television was invented, no one could let go of great TV shows, and now, video games play a big part. It seems that people go looking for addiction to release stress and forget about their routine schedules.

             What is the modern addiction, then? There are so many addictions that people can find today, and the most widely common one is the Internet as people can find “a sea of information” about subjects they’re interested in. But here I’d like to discuss a more unusual addiction which is nevertheless as strong. It’s the most loved fantasy of the 21st century.

             The Harry Potter series is a collection of seven books written by Joanne K. Rowling, about a young hero named Harry Potter who is a wizard and goes to wizarding school. When the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, received worldwide attention, Rowling moved on to write six other sequels to the book, and the series earned a worldwide fandom of millions. The series has been made into eight movies by Warner Brothers, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. The series is creating an endless row of new Harry Potter contents in the world, such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park(WWoHP) in Orlando, Florida and an online Harry Potter experience called Pottermore: by J. K. Rowling.

             Many people who have read the Harry Potter books find the magical world of Harry Potter in their everyday lives. What makes the series stick to your mind is not the characters, not the plot, but the places. In the series, Harry goes to a wizarding school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Fans find Hogwarts to be warm and happy. They love the Great Hall, where they give out extraordinary food in golden plates. They love the Quidditch field with its fresh, green grass and flying balls. They love the Common Room with its crackling fire and colorful tapestries. The magical places make people’s love for Harry Potter even greater because if what you like is the character, then all you can do is dressing up like the character. But if you like the places in a novel, you visit there in your dreams. You want to decorate your surroundings so that you could feel as if you’re living there. And because the setting is a school – which Rowling has made so real with her beautiful details – fans can enjoy an online experience in which they can become students of Hogwarts. Most of all, they want to visit the WWoHP, where they can buy magical items from wizarding shops and enter Hogwarts Castle. That’s why fans are showing so many symptoms of Harry Potter addiction.

             The Harry Potter addiction is known to occur mainly with young children, but that’s not true. Many students and even adults are immersed in the world of Harry Potter. Having all seven books in your home and having read them more than two times is a start. If you’re younger than eleven, you wait for your Hogwarts admission letter. Once you get addicted to Harry Potter, you begin wanting to buy lots of things in the Warner Brothers’ online shop, things like replica broomsticks, collectible hero wands, school robes, house scarves, parchment, and Hogwarts t-shirts. You download all eight movies in your laptop, and you download all the Harry Potter movie soundtracks. You join Pottermore, and your wish for your birthday is going to WWoHP. You go through Potter-related videos on YouTube, and soon you reach the stage of listening to Harry Potter soundtrack while you play Pottermore, reading a Potter book or watching a Potter movie whenever you get tired from an array of continued dueling. If that gets tiring (although it most certainly won’t), you scroll through the Warner Brothers online shop and dream of all these items being delivered to you in a huge Hogwarts trunk. You subscribe to a Pottermore-related blog to get some tips on your potions and duels, or if you’re a bigger fan you might have a blog yourself. You read all the comments, being ready to invest thirty minutes of your living time on them, and post one of yours when you’re finished. You like Facebook pages of all the Harry Potter characters, and join a Facebook group of Pottermore players. After your busiest time of the year, such as final exams, you spend an entire day devoted to Harry Potter. In the movie, Ron arrives to Hogwarts Castle in a flying car with Harry and tells him “Welcome home,” and you automatically respond by saying “Thank you.” You would like to have an owl for your pet, and your nickname, or maybe your English name itself, is the name of a character in Harry Potter.

             And I’m doing all of this. It is fun.

             The harms of Harry Potter addiction exists, of course. First of all, you lose a lot of your time. Second, you will be teased by your friends for being so unrealistic. They are simply amazed by how much you can love something that doesn’t exist.
The third harm, which is the most detrimental, is that the addiction pains you from time to time because Hogwarts Castle and Harry’s magical world is part of a fantasy and doesn’t exist in the real world. If you’re addicted to existing things like an idol stars, at least you can go to their concert and see them, although it might be from a long distance. Fans of Harry Potter are sometimes hurt because deep down in their hearts, they know that it’s not real. They can’t stop thinking that they’re nothing but a stupid muggle(a muggle is a word in the series used to indicate a non-magical person).

As Rowling tells us through Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” If you dream too much about nonexistent things, you might easily go crazy. But if you moderate your fandom and try hard in real life to make it as happy as your Hogwarts life, you can experience the saving grace of being a Potterhead: the ability to return to your childhood, into the world of dreams and hope, where the magical home of Hogwarts Castle awaits. 

First post ever! (+ list of favorites)

I'm so excited! This is the first post ever, and I'm really wondering what to write about in this blog.

I think I'll mostly post random thoughts about daily life, or about my fandoms. Or I'll write about books I've read and things I've studied, or upload personal essays. They will all be categorized, you'd be able to find anything you want. I know I sound like a public broadcast or something, but that's the way I want to enjoy blogger. That's how it is, right?

So... this is a starter, so I'll just be simple.

Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Priori Incantatem!!!) + any other hp book
Favorite TV show: The Big Bang Theory (I watched every single episode. It's the best ever.)
Favorite musician: Taylor Swift, Owl City, Christina Perri, Justin Timberlake
Favorite composer: John Williams, Hans Zimmer
Favorite songs: All of Me (Michael Buble), A Thousand Years (Christina Perri), I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor Swift), Mirrors (Justin Timberlake), Paradise (Coldplay), Red (Taylor Swift), Hot Air Balloon (Owl City), Shooting Star (Owl City), You Belong With Me (Taylor Swift), Cherry Blossom Ending (Busker Busker).
Favorite Movie: WALL-E (2008 Disney & Pixar)
Favorite artist: Terry Border

I also really badly want to start reading John Green.

This year I'm planning to read a lot of books, watch a lot of movies, and listen to a lot of music, so by next year this list will most likely change. I'm planning on updating this list annually.

Thanks! Let's make this into an awesome blog.

P.S. You can also find me on tumblr.