nedelja, 19. februar 2012

Rocket Scientist!

I've been reading in Korean newspapers about the outrage that a "famous" chain of coffee shops started with their racist employees. And I was a bit puzzled. First of all, the coffee they serve there has nothing to do with coffee. In any train station bar or a highway rest area in Italy you will drink way better coffee. The mess begun in the US, where a woman (or two, I don't remember now) of Asian (specifically Korean) origins found their cups of the above mentioned brown hot water signed with ` ´ , which is a pictogram that the waiter (or waitress) used to remember the customer with slanty eyes. Personally I find this sign cute and in no way offensive, but I dont have almond eyes. So maybe I'm just jealous that nobody will never refer to me with such it. What i find disturbing is the way newspapers reported the fact. Barista Draws Chinky Eyes on Korean-American Customer’s Cup. OK, to find the title I had to browse and also found that it was two women that got those cups. Where do I see tho problem? The drawing may be or may be not offensive, it's a matter of personal view. But calling someone chink or chinky eyes - hell yes, that surely is offensive. Chink is an ethnic slur, initially used for Chinese immigrants, but later was expanded to include other people of East Asian descent. And the newspaper title was the first to intentionally use this derogatory term (this is not the story from another bar where the waiter clearly wrote "chink lady" on an order bill). So, if I put again on the side the fact that I find` ´ a cute sign, I just keep wondering what I'm supposed to do when so many Koreans behave exactly the same way they find so extremely offensive? I'm constantly reminded that I don't look like them. There's something that looks like a foreigner. Really? No kidding? I do look different? Hell yes, I do look different because I am different. I may have a Korean heart and spirit, as I love to brag, but they live in a caucasian body and the day I will take this statement of the obvious as an insult I should just kill myself (Just please please don't call me American, OK?).
Well, this was a hell of a long introduction for the racist treatment I had to suffer yesterday. I worked on a construction site and it was friggin' freezing in the morning when I had to move a pile of iron crossbeams... the temperature was somewhere near -4°C, but the metal felt like -40 in my hands. By lunchtime we would be sweating if it was not for the cold wind and with my coworkers we went to a nearby restaurant where my calvary started. As usually everybody stopped eating when they noticed me and stared at me in amazement. Racists! Racists! When the waitress, an elderly lady, came for the order, she first asked where I'm from. Racist! Racist! When she brought the banchan, she asked how old I am. Rac.. err, maybe not. When she brought the beer she sat near me and started caressing me. Which was more than embarrassing. My coworkers almost chocked themselves when her hand disappeared under the table and started moving rhythmically. Do I sense some raised eyebrows? Believe it or not... my left hand was resting in my lap and the old lady just loved my - in her opinion - hairy forearms. Maybe I looked to her a sort of fluffy animal. Racist? Anyway, only the guy sitting next to me saw clearly what was going on under the table but he loved too much the shocked expression of the others that he remained silent. So did I. Only when she left they all jumped on him, asking what the hell was she doing and he just started laughing. So did I. So they still don't have a clue and the two of us still have a good laugh.
Most of the last week I was in deep shit. But literally. We were fertilizing the fields. And what else is manure if not shit? This was the farmers' acknowledgement that spring started. And it just doesn't matter that two days ago was snowing again. But in my house the spring arrived more than one month ago. I wanted to have some sort of "zennish" ornament so i picked a twig and put it in a cute small bottle. For the balance i filled the bottle with sand and water and in two weeks the twig was in buds. Now is full of shiny green leaves.

Today I build my first rocket stove. And no, it's not a stove that astronauts use for heating or boiling water. It's just a hyper-efficient wood-burning stove. Urban legends go so far as to say that with three chopsticks you can boil enough water to cook ramyon. Since I never believed in legends, let alone the urban ones, I decided to make one. Not for me, for my friend who actually introduced to me this stove concept. She agreed that first I will build a scale model and if she finds it really so efficient, we'll go on with the real stuff. Instead of professional materials I choose paint cans, bricks, clay, wire mesh and rice husk. The cost? Exactly zero.

I'm already thinking how to apply this efficient burning concept to the traditional Korean floor heating.

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