Friday, January 6, 2012

Telling It Like It Is

I reckon it's time for another entry in my ongoing series on fast food condiments. (I'm unintimidated by the knowledge that nobody in the universe except me finds this stuff interesting.)

You know what I appreciate? Simplicity. And honesty. Look at this little packet of honey:

I wish we could have more products like this. The name tells exactly what's inside, and I know what every ingredient is.

Yeah, pretty simple.

Contrast this with a packet of ranch sauce:

A little less simple.

I like dipping things in this stuff, but I'm a little troubled by the fact that it has 36 ingredients, and I don't know what most of them are. Some of them sound like the same ingredients in paint stripper. I'll probably live longer if I just stick with the honey.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Stepped Out of My Hotel and Into a Magazine

Right before I left for Korea a few weeks ago, I picked up the December 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine. I've always liked their articles and photos. I've been working through it, reading a page or two whenever I have a few minutes. (Okay, I'll just come out and say it. I like to read it while sitting on my throne.)

As always, this issue is full of good stuff: tigers, the Magellanic Clouds orbiting our galaxy, the worldwide rise of cities, and the making of the King James Bible, to name a few highlights.

In the meantime, a friend and I had a day off over here, so we went for a drive to show ourselves around the place. On our four hour excursion, we saw mountains and forests, farms and villages, the ocean, bridges, towers and factories. We found out how much we don't know about the Korean toll road system, but somehow got that worked out. 

We took a few pictures. Here's your unintimidated blogger and intrepid world traveler next to the Yellow Sea:

On the 2011 Ugly Americans Tour

Crowded cities were one thing we got more than our fair share of. As a man, I'm genetically predisposed to refuse ever admitting I'm lost, but I'll confess in hindsight that we were really lost for a little while. During that time, I snapped this picture while stopped at a red light:

Every street looks almost exactly like this. Is it any wonder we had trouble navigating?

There's nothing remarkable about this spot. On the contrary, the city we found ourselves wandering through was filled with hundreds of streets just like this. I guess that's why I took the picture--because it's very typical of our location, and it captures the mood here.

Back at the hotel, I picked up my magazine and opened to an article about Japan's nuclear zone, the region abandoned following last year's earthquake, tsunami, and radiation spillage. Here's a photo from that article, by David Guttenfelder:

An empty street in Okuma, Japan, where people have not been allowed since March 2011, but pets and farm animals freely roam

Apparently, these settings are typical not just in Japan, but throughout Asia. Either that, or we drove farther from our hotel than I thought.

Lest you think I'm naive about cultural diversity in this part of the world, I'll acknowledge that Korea and Japan, despite their remarkably similar urban landscapes, are two distinct countries, each with its own laws, customs, language, mythology, history, and national identity. Like the U.S. and Canada. (Do you think the locals will be offended if I refer to their country as the Canada of Japan?)