Saturday, May 20, 2006
- I met Don Oberdorfer, author of the definitive guide to all things Korean and geopolitical, a book called The Two Koreas. Apparently even the North Koreans think of it as the definitive guide, as there have been reports of visiting journalists and foreign dignitaries being given copies of the book as gifts from officials in the North Korean government. Closer to home, I have personally heard from more than one source that even the State Department uses this book as the first briefing material for top officials heading to Korea. I know it's the first thing they handed me to prepare for my time there. He definitely has some fascinating stories to share, and I feel privileged to have been able to spend some significant time talking with him.
- I went for the first time to a jazz place in DC. For those who know this town, it is a marvelously low-key place on Barracks Row called Ellington's. It's a very pleasant place, perfect for those evenings when you just want to relax, have a glass of wine and maybe some peach cobbler, and listen to some good live music. It's a very homey atmosphere, complete with a gal behind the bar who may admonish patrons if they have not eaten enough. I have since been unable to get the song, "My Funny Valentine" out of my head, so I will probably have to break down and download it for my i-pod.
- I found out from one of my Korean instructors that the wildfire season in Korea is actually during the winter. The rainy season (they actually have a "rainy season!") is in the middle of the summer, and apparently the winter is when everything dries out and becomes good tinder for fires. Sounds like the opposite of how one would ordinarily think it would go, doesn't it? I don't know how I'll like having a cold winter with snow that turns almost instantaneously black from Seoul's pollution and without any rain at all, though. Doesn't sound too fabulous to me.
- I found out through a friend that the State Department has gained the distinction of being the number three most desirable employer in a recent survey of American undergraduate students. Wow – when I was an undergrad, I wasn't even considering it, and I didn't know anyone who was. It simply wasn't on the radar. My, how quickly things change.