Poetry by Joel

Frosty cold snowflakes
fall softly to the ground while
they spin, twist, and turn.

The snow is glittering
when the sun shines from above
You see the snowflakes
hover around you and fall down
to the soft, fluffy, cold ground.

By Joel Lindgren

Learning Baduk

I have been putting myself on a crash course on playing baduk in order to be able to then teach Joel the game. The first thing I read was the wikipedia article on the game (Go (game)). This had some good introductory information like rules and a few tactics, but the best thing about a good wikipedia article are the references and external links. Two websites have been very instructional so far. The first is Sensei’s Library, a baduk/go/igo/weiqi dedicated wiki. The second website is goproblems.com, a java based baduk education tool that presents the viewer with a variety of baduk situational problems to solve.

Joel really likes the second website since it provides an immediate puzzle for him to solve, and I confess that I found it entertaining as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t touch upon broader strategy of projecting power and controlling territory (at least it hasn’t at the easy level I started it at). To be frank, I doubt I have much of a grasp of this larger strategy either, but Joel and I played today, and I rather handily beat him (143 to -19. Yes, poor Joel lost more stones than he had territory). The websites I have read so far suggest a one stone advantage is roughly equivalent to ten points, so it looks like I’ll be starting Joel out with 16 stones. That seems like a rather daunting lead even to me, but after some reflection, I think it is just about right since I am still much better than Joel at attacking and seeing the larger picture.

One thing I was pleased with was Joel’s ability to quickly grasp the idea of dead stones (ones you can’t save no matter the effort) and the necessity of ignoring these lost causes and focusing on more productive areas of the board. He still gets frustrated, as with our game today, but I think once I give him the proper stone advantage, it should be more entertaining for both of us.

Winter Vacation: Day 7 & 8

Thursday was another day of getting chores done, including having Joel taken to an optometrist to have his eyes checked, and then taking his prescription to the eyeglasses store to be filled. He’s been having some difficulty reading the board at school, to the point where his teacher has been moving him to the front of the class so he could see easier. Well, hopefully these glasses will do the trick and he won’t have that problem any more. One thing I am very thankful for is the vision insurance I have through my work. The glasses only cost us $25 and we were able to get him a nice frame that he liked. This is very different than my first experience with glasses, which included having to wear some pretty ugly thick plastic frames that made me embarrassed to even have glasses. From what I can tell, Joel is pretty happy with his frames and is even looking forward to wearing them. Now I just hope he can take care of them. He isn’t the most careful boy in the world.

Today was a bust, and it was all my fault. I stayed up last night, basically all night, playing a game, and so was too tired to carry through with the plans we had made for today. I apologized to Hyang, but I know she was still disappointed. The only bright spot was that at least she got to spend the day with her friend Ji-hae, so she shouldn’t have been to bored. Still, I’m going to make sure I get some sleep tonight and not disappoint here again.

Finally, I have been wanting to figure out a way to separate my “Meditations” posts from the rest of the blog, and perhaps have it on its own, separate page. No luck so far, but I’ll keep looking into it and see if I can’t figure a way out.

A fun evening

It actually wasn’t as bad as I feared, going to the childrens Winter concert. I suspect it’s short duration played a factor in that. I couldn’t get any good pictures there as the lighting in the main hall is terrible and my poor Droid just wasn’t equipped to handle it. I did at least get a picture of our after concert feast at IHOP. Overall, I think it was a good night.

Hyang Watch: July 15

This will probably be short since I just posted an update only two days ago.

Hyang has continued her complaining about the weather, or more exactly, about all the rain that has been coming down. She says that it has been raining really hard on a very frequent basis.

She went to the dentist yesterday for what appears to be a two part exam. The first visit was for some basic cleaning, but she has to go back about a week later and get her fillings checked and possibly replaced. We still don’t know yet how much it is going to be, but it could be around $1000 or even more. Later on while Joel was with his grandmother visiting a relative, Hyang took the girls out to see her high school. She said it has changed quite a bit from when she was there.

Tomorrow Hyang will be going out with a friend to hang out and catch the latest Harry Potter movie. She’s not sure if she is going to go alone or with Serene. Joel is older, but he just can’t handle the drama. She was telling me that a few days back, her and the kids all went out to see Transformers 2, and Joel had to be bribed just to go into the movie. But then, once it started, he had a total meltdown and started crying and shaking, begging to be let out of the movie. Finally, they let him out and he enjoyed himself somehow waiting in the lobby outside. So yeah, I don’t think the latest Harry Potter movie is a good idea for Joel. Now the girls handled Transformers like all-stars, sitting through the whole thing, so I think that taking Serene along might be fun for her.

Also tomorrow, Hyang will be meeting up with a mutual friend of Ji-Hye, a friend of ours who came to Dallas last year. I guess Hyang will be catching her up on what Ji-Hye’s been up to and just general reminiscing on their mutual friend.

As I mentioned earlier, Hyang has another friend to meet up with on Saturday, and then next week things start getting busy. She has a college friend she’s going to meet up with on Tuesday and then the summer camps start. Joel will begin on Thursday, and the girls and Hyang will join in on Saturday for a toddler/kindergartner weekend summer camp (Hyang is a volunteer).

That’s it for now. See you next time when we return with the next report on the Adventures of Hyang in Korea.

Hyang Watch: July 2

So Hyang’s niece had her birthday party at a sushi restaurant, and a nice one at that. Apparently, it must have been a pretty expensive affair since Hyang told me there was around 70 people in attendance. Hyang has been really impressed with all of her older nieces in Korea (there are three older than Joel). She said these girls are very independent, in a good way, and do a great job taking care of themselves and their stuff without needing help from their parents.

These girls also seem to have really taken to watching over their cousins as well, especially Serene, who they seem to really love washing and combing her hair. I’m almost afraid of what kind of prima dona mindset Serene is going to develop from all this pampering they are giving her. Serene elected to stay with Hyang and spend the night over at Hyang’s sister’s house, while Joel wanted to go back to his grandmother and Holy decided she wanted to go with her brother.

Speaking of Holy, Hyang says she’s gotten quite stubborn, and has almost put the fear of her in her grandmother because of it. She’s always been a difficult for us to get her to do things like kisses or hugs, especially when it is an occasion that puts social pressure on her to do so. Of course, she can be real sweet as well, and often does so spontaneously, but I recognize that she doesn’t take well to being pressured to doing that kind of stuff. Hyang said she’s gotten so many spankings while in Korea because of that stubborn streak in her.

I forgot to mention yesterday, but Hyang had been talking with the kids about me and how I am alone and stuff like that, and she reported Serene said something, “I feel so sad now, I think I might cry”, to which Joel responded, “Now you are going to make me cry”. Ha, ha, it made me laugh and also very happy to hear about my children missing me and feeling sad for me. They are such good kids, even if they act up some times. I pray that I can be a good father and live up to their love.

Hyang didn’t have enough time today to get her hair done or see the doctor, for she was entirely too busy helping prepare for the birthday party. However she promised me that she would be seeing the doctor soon, hopefully tomorrow, and that she would also be getting her hair done tomorrow as well. Nothing too radical, just a trim to shoulder length and some straightening. Holy was able to get her hair done, and I guess the cut it into some kind of cute bob. I’ll have to wait until I see the photos to really be able to describe it to you.

Also, Hyang’s shoulder is feeling a little better after her Aunt gave her a treatment with bee stingers. I’ve actually seen her do this when I went to Korea. She keeps a dozen or so bees and uses their stingers for something like accupuncture crossed with nerve/muscle relaxer from the stinger venom. Obviously, you don’t want to do that if you are allergic to bee stings, but other than that, Hyang seems to think it works. Please continue to pray for her though, as I think the shoulder pain is worse in the morning.

I think that’s all I have, so until next time.

Hyang Watch: June 17

I talked to Hyang last night, and she seems to be doing well, although she is already complaining of becoming bored. The first day was spent seeing family in and around the Busan/Gimhae area. Apparently the kids are a big hit and everyone is giving them money, not unusual, but I promise you it’s more than what they see when their home. Hyang says that while Joel and Holy are popular, it seems that Serene is the star of the show, with everyone interested in being with her.

Sunday was apparently a pretty long day, and everyone was tired out afterwards. Holy even asked Hyang the next day if she could go home. Poor girl, she’s got at least another eight weeks ahead of her. Speaking of Holy, apparently my kids are not only popular with Koreans, but with Korean mosquitoes as well, and Holy has gotten the worst of it, with swollen red bites all over her.

So Monday and Tuesday were pretty slow, not much going on. Hyang was suprised to see just how much worse the driving conditions were in her hometown. Apparently things get crowded when everyone gets a car, but nothing is done to expand the roads or parking area. Imagine that. It seems like things are starting to pick up a bit for them on Wednesday when Hyang had a picnic with a friend and she’s scheduled to meet with another friend on Thursday.

As far as I know, Hyang is still figuring out if Joel can attend school there in Korea or not, but she seems pretty confident that the two girls can be enrolled in the kindergarten that Joel attended three years ago. That should free Hyang up considerably to be able to visit friends and whatnot, especially if she can get him into some kind of schooling during the day.

Well, that’s it until I talk with Hyang again. I’ll post another update when I have more to tell you.