City Summer

Although it's quite a challenge to compete with Saskatchewan sunsets, once in a while the Seoul sky puts on a nice show of its own.


What is the sound of no traffic moving?

There hadn't been this many baldies in one place since the last McLurg school reunion.
The angry Buddhists were at it again yesterday, with upwards of ten thousand monks staging a solemn protest in downtown Seoul at the height of the afternoon rush hour. At issue still is President Lee's perceived favouritism towards Christian groups, which the monks take as a snub against their historical attempts to promote interfaith harmony.


A fine day indeed

Those who know me well know a few things - I don't sleep on airplanes, I'm virtually unbeatable at Tetris, and I love to watch marathons and triathlons from the comfort of my own couch.

In the final event of the Beijing Olympics, Sammy Wanjiru, a 21 year old Kenyan, ran what is now being hailed by many sports journalists as the greatest marathon ever. Though two minutes short of the world record, he obliterated both the Olympic record and arguably the strongest field in history, running in high heat and humidity to a 2:06 finish. 2:06 is a darn fine half marathon time for most of us.

Half a world away in Penticton, Chris and Alison were obliterating records of their own, taking huge amounts of time off their Ironman Canada personal bests. Those old records, of course, were set before they had two more mouths to feed, which proves not only how effective they are at managing their time, but how dedicated and disciplined they are in fulfilling their goals. Deanna and I watched via the Internet live feed, and couldn't have been more proud.

And my crowning achievement on the anniversary of my birth? A record-setting demolition of the finest pan of puffed wheat cake that has ever been brought down from the heavens above. Well, from Deanna, who so kindly trounced around the city to find the ingredients before whipping it up.

Thanks to all who called or sent me birthday messages - very much appreciated.


Birthday Presents

Remind me to send thank you cards to the organizers of the Beijing Olympics and Ironman Canada. Scheduling both the Ironman in Penticton and the men's Olympic Marathon in Beijing on August 24th is perhaps the greatest birthday present Lee could hope for. We'll be watching the live feed for both, marveling anyone who can run a marathon in sub-2:10 and cheering on Chris and Ali in their two-time Ironman quest.

Happy Birthday, Lee!


Who needs Beijing?

Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps would have met their match in Seoul last weekend. My colleagues, always a spirited bunch, reanimated China's Olympic fervour with the first ever GNUCR Olympics. After much discussion, it was decided that one's country of birth determined which team they'd play for. We ended up with Team North America West, Team North America East, Team Asia, and Team Europe, all of whom fought for victory in arm-wrestling, balancing-on-one-leg, coin-catching, almond-tossing, and everybody's favourite, hanging-a-spoon-on-your-nose. After a well-fought battle, Team Europe emerged victorious (see above Jonathan, Jon, and Lee with their gold medals). Nourished by pina coladas, kahlua vodka espresso milkshakes, mango strawberry rum smoothies, and plenty of snacks, good times were had by all.


Mr. Denisovich

Coming back to work on Monday was a shock indeed to my summer-softened sensibilities. Three days of meetings, planning, and beating the dust out of the classroom find me eagerly awaiting tomorrow's arrival of a dozen eight year-olds. With students this year from nine different countries, I expect to learn as much from them as they hopefully learn from me. And I'm already counting down the days to next February's International Food Fair.