Monday, March 30, 2009

Free Hugs In Shibuya

The First night I arrived in Tokyo I decided to go and check out my surroundings.

So I was hanging out by Shibuya station, and looking for some sort of trouble, when I saw these guys and girls with signs that said "Free Hugs".

Naturally, I gave them all hugs, and joined them standing there giving the passerby's some free love.



It was interesting. One person said that they really needed the hug. I guess I made someone's day a little better.

Eventually I went out with one of the huggers to a cool place called Red Bar. We hung out with his Brazilian, Celtic, and French friends.

When I got back to Mikie's house, I did a little research and I found out that this was all started in Australia. This one guy got a hug when he was feeling down and felt better. He decided to spread the love and warm feeling one embrace at a time. He stood in his town square and gave out hugs.

Somehow, and I am happy it did so, this caught on, now 5 years later Free hugs are all around the world, and at your local anime convention too. There is nothing to gain from it, its a just a random act of kindness.

If some one offers you a hug, take it, enjoy it, pass on that feeling to someone else in any form you want.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crap in Japan...

Never have I seen such a useless, yet awesome toilet.

It know when you come into the bathroom and it opens wide.



It knows when you leave and flushes itself, and closes the lid.

It knows when its dark so it lights the way for you with its LED lights.




It knows people don't like to sit on cold surfaces, so it heats your butt cheeks.

It wipes for you.

And, if you don't want it all automatically, there is a convenient remote control for all the features.




It has come a long way since squatting over hole (traditional Japanese toilet)





Another toilet I saw was pretty interesting. It conserves water by re-using the water used for hand washing as flushing water.








Playing Go In Japan

I have managed to increase my playing strength to 3d!

All that I had to do was fly from Korea to Japan, and Presto Change-oh! I am now a 3d. (I will likely go back to being 3kyu once I am in Korea)

While I am in Japan, I am living ten minutes from Shibuya station. It is one of the trendiest, and youngest areas in Tokyo.

Michael Simon and Kanako graciously are letting me stay in their guest room while I am in Tokyo. They are wonderful people, with so many interesting stories to tell. Kanako is a former model, and Michael, well he has done everything: Bike mechanic, Go Club Manager, "Lead Bassist" in a rock band...everything.

So far we played 2 games, and its one win each. Here is the first game we played. I did not comment on it, please I welcome all criticism.



Michael is about AGA 5d, and 6d at the club where we went to play. He is part of a group called Igo-Mame which roughly means Go-0ften. They meet at the Shibuya club every now and then, and go out for dinner afterwards.

The Igo-mame group was really nice. The characters included Yata-sensei 6d, a pediatrician. A young guy with a really runny nose, who was really good at sudoku like puzzles, 1d. Moo-san, a 6d, and also this nice guy with a big belly, 1d. I was a guest, and also there happened to be an American, John Thek 4d, playing there as well.

...On a Side Note...

With the exception of Michael Simon, the Igo-mame group are all Manga-otaku we had a lot of fun at dinner and Karaoke talking about various manga. It was really fun for me to talk to an adult about manga. At karaoke we sang a few anime themes, sailing day, Crazy rainbow, Hit In America, and the Neon Genesis Evangelion theme.

I loved the Igo-mame group, somehow I fit in really well in Japan so far.

... Back to Go...

I played 7 games today and won 3. One of the lost games was within one point, one was lost in the endgame, and two were just to awful to discuss.

Yata-sensei, Moo-san, Big belly, Runny nose, a random player and I all played a game of 9x9 rengo together. I can't recall it right now but I will post it later

The club that we played at is quite famous actually...

Many people have read Hikaru No Go, and clearly remember when Hikaru goes to play with old smoking men to overcome his fear of Gojira-Beard san. Unfortunately that location no longer exists, but the club moved to a smaller place, which I had the pleasure of visiting.

The owner is clearly recognizable from the manga (sorry I forgot to get a picture of him T_T), and I even think I saw someone resembling Kawaii-san.

Here are a few photos I took at the club, Enjoi!

Igo Mame, Right to left, Runny Nose, Big Belly, Yata Sensei.


People playing


Old guys at play


Club members names on little wooden things


Round all around

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Japan Trip!

My Blog readers, I will be going to Japan in 6 hours.

While I am there, I will play much go, and take many pictures, expect many updates.

-Boris The Go Player/Traveler

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An update

The past week went by really slowly for me. A lot seemed to happen, and somehow, without playing I think I leveled up at Baduk

This post will be in several sections.

Romance
Last Wednesday I went to Itaewon, and met this girl. We stayed up all night hanging out at bars and coffee shops talking to each other. She invited me to go dancing with her on Saturday night. The problem was that she finished her job (she is a bouncer) at 5am. It was not a problem because she set me up with some her friends, and I had fun. I spent very little time with her, but I got a weird feeling when I left. I couldn't stop thinking about her for 2 days.

Finally when she responded to my text on Tuesday saying that she did not want to hang out with me, I felt fine. It was really the not knowing that was killing me. What an idiot I was ^__^.


Friends/Family

On Sunday night, my friend and I were coming home from the International Baduk Academy when some guy on the street invited us out for drinks. We did not know him, but we went along. Keep in mind while reading this, Korea is generally a very safe place, so we were not in much danger going with a stranger.

We went to this place called WABar, and after the second beer it was becoming very clear that this guy was a little silly. He could not keep our basic information, Name age and nationality in his head at all. He asked us this information ~27 times. Somehow we felt uncomfortable to just leave considering he was being pretty gracious treating us. I looked around the bar, I caught someones eye and gave a "please come here if you speak English and help us out" look.

He and his friend came over and suddenly it was starting to be fun. They helped us understand each other. Those guys are Eric, and Pino (Nicknames). After finishing at the bar we went to some other place for more drinks and food, and at 1 am, we went home.

Alright, I caught Eric and Pino!! * Peace Sign*

---

I talked on skype with my family this week, it was really nice. I had not realized how much I missed them.

---

My friend Roman went to Ireland all of a sudden. Fly friend fly.


Work/Students

I finally got some English students, two girls who saw my flier in front of their music studio. So far I have met with them a few times. One of the girls, Rachel, only wants to practice speaking, so its pretty nice. I just have to think of a topic, and some questions, and then talk. Its pretty awesome, since it was just talking, we went to Olympic Park. We had our lesson laying in the grass.

The other one, Ju Hae, wants my full lessons. I am teaching her English using The Little Prince. During class we practice speech by talking about different things from the book. At home she reads and writes a paper. In class I correct grammar, and discuss.

---

On the other hand, lots of visits but low income from Google...

Health

I am generally ok, but somehow I got sick, and stayed in bed for three days. It kind of sucked, mainly because I was always hungry, and it threw off my sleeping schedule.

and the best for last....

Baduk

This week i really did not play much at all. Maybe I played 15 games this week. Two interesting things did happen though....

I participated in KGS's Iron Man tournament, 20 rounds of Go. I had pretty crummy results, and I skipped many rounds. I beat the weaker players and lost to the stronger ones, and the one "even" game I had, I lost as well. My friends did pretty well, they remained in the top 5 but messed up in the last day finishing 13th, and 20th. Anyway all week, we were dropping whatever we were doing and running off to the computer at 10 am, 4 pm, and 10 pm. It was pretty fun, next time, I will actually try and win.

---

Somehow I managed to improve in the past week. Maybe a lot of bed rest did it for me. Even though In the end I lost, here is a partial game record against my teacher on 7 stones. (BTW, he said I improved a lot --1.5 stones-- not I.)There is no commentary, just a record




And next week I am off to Japan Woot Woot ^___^

Saturday, March 14, 2009

DragonBall Rant warning, SPOILER!!!

How can you take 16 volumes of a wonderful Manga like Dragonball, and turn it into a 100 minute movie, while preserving its charm, multitude of characters, and awesome action scenes? I don't know, and I did not find out today. So as an adaptation of a beloved manga, it fails. As a stand alone movie, it fails. But, somehow, if you go into with the mindset that its just for fun, and based on Dragonball, but not the same thing, then its pretty fun.

Lets get into it then.

The very first thing I noticed from the commercials was the title. DragonBall Evolution. WTF? Did we have a first one from it to evolve from? Are the planning to release a DragonBall The Beginning later on? Or did I maybe miss altogether a first movie? I do not know the answer, but I apparently did not miss any movie. Really too many movies use the word evolution in their titles, there are so many other words that you can use from the English language. Personally I think the following words should be banned from movie titles all together: Evolution, Origins, Legends, The beginning, the last stand. I am sure there are a few more, but that's all I can think of at the moment. Also, whats wrong with just DragonBall? Is it not edgy enough?

The other thing that bugged me was that the whole mythology was lost. Since when did the "Evil Namekians" control the Oozaru? Why does the Oozaru only come about on eclipses, why is Goku 18 when Grandpa Gohan dies? Why does Muten Roshi not bleed from his nose? Where is Krillin, what about the random talking pigs and flying cats?!!?....Whew...I ll leave that alone

That stuff can be forgiven, if the Movie could stand alone as its own story, but it never develops its characters. So much relies on the audience having read the manga. Chi Chi (sorry) goes from being the "Bully's" girlfriend, to Goku's lover/partner/Girlfriend/Fiance (never clarified, generally a vague relationship with a few kisses) within 10 minutes in the movie. Please note that there where no long time lapses, and maybe 5 hours took place in the movie between this.

Bulma and Yamcha exchange three sentences before falling for each other and almost making out. Neither character is really developed at all. No history on Yamcha, and just a vague mention of capsule corp for Bulma.

Piccolo kind of sucks too. Very little screen time, and no cool attacks, just some generic red ki blasts. (Although in goku's Visions --he gets them by touching the dragonballs--we see him dropping a Ki blast that leaves a mushroom cloud) Anyway, no history, just I want vengeance, and that's all, Humans must die.

Well, I think I lost my desire to keep writing.

To be fair, It was fun because you can laugh at it, It keeps some of the Comedy from the original manga, and the fight scenes are pretty cool. I think if you took out all the romance, and had more fight scenes it would have been better.

Or better yet, just fight scenes and training montages would have been cool, screw the story, you can't fit it into 100 minutes anyway!

Its about a 5/10 in my opinion, check it out but don't expect much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Last minute Sunday Adventure.

The weather this Sunday was amazing. Unfortunately, it was Simon's last day at the IBA, and he and the others had planned to play starcraft one last time.

This was not my idea of fun, so after we ate lunch, I looked through my Lonely Planet guide for something to do.

I chose to visit Seoul Grand Park.



Seoul Grand Park, was not exactly what I expected it to be, I thought it would be less of a zoo, little kids park, and more of a Park with some nature stuff, maybe a small food court or something. But regardless, I guess I did not do my research, so what could be done. I had a lot of fun despite the fact that it was for children, (or maybe because it was...?)

When I got there I bought myself the combination entry fee, it got me a ride on the ski lift, a ride on the tram, and the entrance fee to the zoo. 8000 won. (5 USD)

I regret not taking a picture of the tram, it looked like an elephant.

At the zoo I found these interesting women who wore primary colors.


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


There where some flamingos.

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


Some giraffes...

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


Some really bored looking mountain goats...Poor goats

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


There were these dancing elephants. The whole park echoed with a really creepy music, that made you feel like you where in some sort rom-com movie. It was really disturbing, but the interesting thing was that the elephants danced along with it. You can see a video, or some still pictures.


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


video


There was also a nice camel, who did not spit at me.

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


A stupidly cute seal, and it mom

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure



There were these adorable fighting bears. There mother eventually stopped them. They fought for about 5-7 minutes, with each one taking a turn at being victorious.

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure



Then there was this dopey looking guy :-p

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure



The most memorable thing as far as animals go where the birds of prey, and the sky larks.

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


These guys, even though they are both birds have two very different experiences at the zoo. The larks are not part of the zoo, yet the fly freely and bother all the animals, there was one watching the bears fight, the elephants dance, and also sitting on the camels. There was one who pooped on the vultures too. They could do anything they want.

The great majestic birds of prey are in cages, with two or three others at the same time. they get pooped on by larks, cant even open up their wings. They cannot hunt, to me its a wonder that they are still alive. I felt so awful seeing them. These creatures are not meant for the zoo. Living in a cage is the opposite of being a bird. Birds must be allowed to fly freely, just because people are limited by society and their many obligations, doesn't mean we should take out our frustrations on birds by locking them up like prisoners. I only took one picture of them.

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


Sorry that was a bit of a rant. Other than looking at animals, I did a little hiking. I found a nice dam, and I climbed across it. The other side was sort of a restricted area. I walked along in the forest and then I saw a big pile of rocks, so of course I climbed it. It was more tiring then expected. When I got to the other side I saw a drying reservoir. It was quite beautiful, I spent about an hour sitting at the shore, skipping rocks or else not doing anything. It felt great to be alone for while isolated. In the zoo, when I sat down to rest, the little kids who walked by would stare with there eyes wide open, and whisper to their parents "waeguk saram!!" (foreigner) Please enjoy the photos.

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


The Drying resevoir...
From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure



From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


Even though it was really warm, there where these ice piles all around...

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


....

On my way home, I was hungry. I decided to get something authentic and Korean. These were my options.


Shells, with snails inside. You have to suck them out through the opening. They taste a bit like olives, but a different texture.
From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure



These are maggots, I tried these too, but I only had one, the snails were much better. These were really salty, but had no substance, kind of felt like chewing salty paper that had a little bit of hummus on it. Anyway, it wasn't aweful but not my bag.

From Simons Last Days, A Seaoul grand Park adventure


That's the end of last weeks Sunday, it was fun for me. For all the pictures check out my picasaweb. picasaweb.com/boris.nygocenter

Player Profile, Simon "Lucky 3d" Schwanhaeusser

Simon "Lucky 3d" Schwanhaeusser

Simon was born in 1982. He has been playing go for 5 years.




He has been an undergraduate student for 5 years, and his current major is chinese.

He came to the IBA last November, he studied Baduk for a few months and then started studying PC Bang, Jimjil Bang and Korean language.

Simon speaks German and English fluently, and can speak basic Mandarin, and Korean.

He currently owns 27 diamond chandeliers somewhere in one of his castles in Germany.

He plans to sell one or two of them to start a business in Germany.

It will be the first ever NoraePCJimjilKimpapKiwonMassagee Bang.

I met Simon while studying at the International Baduk Academy. The first thing I noticed about him, is that he is very concerened about others, and goes out of his way to make people comfortable. Before coming to Korea, he was very helpful in answering many questions I had.

Once I arrived, he was very affable. One of the first nights I was in Korea I said that I wanted tea, so we walked for 30 minutes, looking for a place to have some, talking about nothing in particular, as if we had been friends for years.

Another interesting story, one night around 3:00 AM I picked up three girls and I took them out to dinner, but we were having problems communicating, so I called Simon and he got out of bed and came to help. I guess it was not a free service, since I payed for his dinner too.

Simon has a very interesting style of play, most of his moves are based on intuition, rather than careful planning, and very often he will somehow hypnotize his opponents (or maybe just me ^__^) into making mistakes.

While he says he is just a lucky 3 dan, his kgs playing rating varies between 4d and 6d.

Check him out on KGS, where he is known as Dogtagnan.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fun times in Dajeon Part one.

There exists a Place called Daejeon. It is a big city south of Seoul. There, is a Baduk School, Chungwan Baduk Dojang. A few months ago they visited the IBA, this was before my time at the IBA. More recently, In February, we visited them for the first time. Simon, Pascal and I went there for 2 days.


I can not really explain how it felt. I was surrounded by children as young as 4 years old studying the game that I love. I was jealous at their oppurtunity to do this, but the feeling was not strong. Anyway, I can't really explain the feeling, I felt completely invigorated. That part was difficult to explain so..... here are some pictures while I think of something else to say.

Their best three VS our only Three..


Han Bi reviewing a game by Cho Hunhyun


Me vs. My rival (although I don't think she knows that...)


Team game, Those kids are all the same level as me, ages 5-7



I lost all of my games that day, but I had a great game against "my rival" It was a bloody fight. But in the end I lost.

On the second day, we all went to Korean Traditional music museum, and learned how to play the drums. We also made our own.

There are plenty of pictures and they are better than words

Drum Class


Pascal


Amazing expression ^__^


Learning the Drums


I guess i was really interested


Youngkyu and Hanbi


I seem to be a horse or something


Group Photos


Giant Drum, awesome sound


Making our own drums


They look happy


All done with the Drum


All together now


Then we played a little bit in the playground ^__^




High


in


The


Sky