Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why do you come here ?

Here are the lyrics from the song:



Why do you come here ?
And why do you hang around ?
I'm so sorry
I'm so sorry

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ?
Why do you telephone ? (Hmm...)
And why send me silly notes ?
I'm so sorry
I'm so sorry

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ?
You had to sneak into my room
'just' to read my diary
"It was just to see, just to see"
(All the things you knew I'd written about you...)
Oh, so many illustrations
Oh, but
I'm so very sickened
Oh, I am so sickened now...

The 20 Weeks

November 1 essentially marks the start of the preparation for Ironman South Africa in March 2005. The preceding information should be seen as a sort of prologue. The information that follows will be increasingly regimented because I have to follow a more structured approach.



This is me, after a 2km swim, about to start the bike leg. There were 5 or 6 guys ahead of me when I started and I caught all of them except one, despite making a wrong turn in the last few kilometres. It was my best ride this year, and it was a real boost seeing how I could fly by the guys near the front. It was also the first time I'd used the special lightweight handlebars and Zipp wheels. My average speed for 90km was 37.9km/h. Posted by Hello

Red Rocket

This is my bike. It's a Cannondale, so it's made out of aluminum. The frame tapers like an aeroplane wing to make it more aerodynamic. The wheel I am using here is called a Spinergy. It's great on downhills, but too heavy for racing in my opinion. Posted by Hello


This is Raynard Tissink. He is South Africa's best Ironman athlete ever. He is the first man from Africa ever to win an Ironman, and he did this in Korea in 2002. I happened to be there with a South African flag which I gave to him and he waved when he got over the line. I met him later in his hotel room. He offered me a beer and told me a spoke broke on his bike. I was under the impression that he was focussing so much on solving some of the things that came up that day that he didn't really think about winning. When I said I was going to do the Ironman, I don't think he believed me. With good reason. It is an easy thing to say. Three years later I still have not made good on what I said. But I came close in 2003 and was in even better condition this year. It's still a work in progress. Notice he is also using the Zipp wheels. Raynard came 10th in Hawaii, 10th in the world, this year.
 Posted by Hello


Mountainbiking is completely different again, and relies a lot more on power. Training on a mountain bike can help improve climbing skills. But to improve endurance, even if you are training for offroad, you have to get on a racing bike and ride hundreds of kilometres each day.  Posted by Hello


This is Chris McCormack, a good Ironman athlete. Notice the numbers on his arms, and the bladed shape of the bicycle frame. He has chosen to use a three spoked wheel at the back, which has a bit more momentum and is a little heavier than the light and aero deep section wheel in the front. These wheels are also high quality and are made by a company called HED. HED and ZIPP are a bit like BMW and Mercedes Benz. Is that a smile or a grimace? You can also see that Orca is a familiar name to many in this sport. Posted by Hello

The Boss

Swimming - Phelps. Cycling - Lance Armstrong. This year he won the world's most famous, and toughest, cycling race, Le Tour de France, for a record sixth time. His achievement is even more remarkable because he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, and with 70% of his body already consumed, and having to even undergo brain surgery, he was closer to death than to life. He has written one good book and one not so good book. One thing is for sure, he is the hardest working cyclist out there. And cycling is all about homework, time in the saddle, mileage. Posted by Hello

Hot Coals

There are those wheels again. And as you can see, the triathlete on the bike has a much lower profile. Cyclists may not use these handlebars because it makes bunch riding very dangerous. Cyclists ride in packs to save energy. Triathletes are not allowed to draft behind other athletes. If they are caught drafting they have to serve penalties, up to four minutes per violation, in the transition area. More on that later. One of the factors when riding in this position for a long time is back ache. I get the most pain, believe it or not, in the balls of my feet. It feels like, after 2-3 hours riding, someone has put hot coals in my shoes. I still need to figure out what to do when that happens. maybe unstrap my shoes and let my feet breathe for a while. Posted by Hello

Zen of Cycling

This is what a cyclist looks like. A triathlete is a bit different in that they don't always wear socks, never wear gloves, and their handlebars, wheels and frames tend to be more aerodynamic and light. The uniform is also more bathing suit than in this picture. Good triathletes are small and thin like most good cyclists. Posted by Hello

Water Carrier

This is more like it. This is what a good Ironman bike looks like. Ultralight, and Ultra aero. Those Zipp Deep Section wheels weigh about as much as a watch, but cost about as much as short holiday in Switzerland. Notice the shoes are attached to the pedals, there is a water bottle behind the saddle, and more water between those unusual handlebars. What is going on there? Do you think he is going to get on the bike or run alongside it? This is really expensive equipment, and he is perhaps afraid to damage it by actually riding it...
 Posted by Hello

It's Really Not About The Bike

This is my bike. It's a Mega Titanium Alloy with Infradig Wopping Stabilisers. You need a machine like this if you need a lot of Iron and Steel to build a small car. Posted by Hello

Blue Air

It was good to do something light and airy after it felt like things were feeling heavy. I must point out that this blog is really about a road to the Ironman. It paints a fuller picture I think if I give you a bit of background behind the hardcore training and technical stuff. It may also be interesting, to see in restrospect, that big goals that may seem too big for ordinary, simple and imperfect people, are not. Big goals are good, and worth pursuing. And they have the power to transform your lifestyle.
I hope I have sketched some kind of portrait of my lifestyle. I hope it is obvious that my eating habits are not the healthiest, that I am pretty overweight, and at the moment, training very little. I think so far this week I did nothing but one 45 minute swim. So this is a point of departure, so you can see how you can start with very little, and then hopefully develop and build from there.

You may also have noticed that there was quite a lot of attention paid to swimming. That was for a reason. Next I will introduce bicycling, and then cover running. This is all a way to introduce stuff that if you just immediately were reading about it, you might find inaccessible. So I hope it is not hard to get into or figure out, and at least as accessible as say Wuthering Heights. Posted by Hello

Park Views

These apartments overlook Lake park and sometimes all these flag poles are aflutter with flags but not today. It is one day shy of November, and it is almost warm enough to be out at dusk wearing shorts. I'm sure that tonight was probably the last warmish night for months, and that the mosquitoes in that patch of grass will soon be crispy specks of cold blowing along with the dirt on some pavement soon. Posted by Hello

Double The Fun

It was important to capture playfulness on camera, before the sun, looking a lot like an orange frisbee in itself, went down. The mosquitoes bit if you messed around and threw something crap, so you had to be careful. Meredith threw some good floaters. Wendy was pretty much on target but got the Award For The Worst Throw despite some strong challenges in the closing stages. Wendy: Will work on the music thing that I don't quite understand and send it to you soonish.  Posted by Hello

Once I explained that I was talking about throwing aFRISBEE, and that it, well, goes around and then comes back around, they understood. Posted by Hello

I was walking around Lake Park today shouting, "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND." I guess I shocked some people. Posted by Hello

Too Much Chaff

Can you blame me? Actually you can, the vanilla was not that good. The one blob of chocolate was eagerly seized upon. From TGI's we went to Corneli's apartment, and while Minjung swooned, the rest of us gaped at the huge blank stare we were getting from the 27 inch television.

From there we headed to an excellent spot to watch buses come and go. It's not an easy thing catching a bus. Minjung missed the first two, but was lucky the third time. Charles left shortly afterward, and then we went to JJ Mahoneys. JJ's was not only dead, but the beer tasted like beer tastes when you get up the next morning after a party, and before you clean up your place you take a sip of a beer you remember putting on the top of the refrigerator. So we sent it back. There were just three of us now and we just talked about mutual acquaintances, Sinchon as a good place to go to... I don't remember much more than that. I felt terribly bloated from the meal. And a cold lethargy was creeping up on me.

We walked back past the Juyeop subway (one of the locations in the Lost Seoul Derangio short, and also one of the spots where we actually saw them shooting one Sunday afternoon). Valentin left, but before he did we agreed, that since we both have not much time left in Korea, that we should up the fun ante before we're done here.
I walked Corneli home. Sadly her birthday was over and the reality of being 31 was really hitting home. Fortunately a birthday card I emailed using Birthday Alarm hit her home, and hit the mark too. Unfortunately, another Birthday Alarm arrived with it, from New Zealand I think, and the sender had used the same card, the same template, as I did. Bummer.

So the last of the birthday cards were read. The gifts were all unwrapped. It was long past the stroke of midnight. No longer being November 30, it was no longer a special day, she was no longer special or so she may have thought. She reached for the Pinotage - but I am not sure if it brought out the best of us.

She mentioned that she disagreed with what someone said that the Jewish people aren't a race.
A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
A genealogical line; a lineage.
Humans considered as a group.
An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.
A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.
A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.

The wine bit is stretching things a bit far on the race issue I'd say.

I don't know why we were talking about Jews. Maybe because we were talking about the Passion of the Christ. Maybe because I said that Jewish people take care of their own, and don't really care about us gentiles, but that attitude of not caring about others leads to people not caring about you on the same basis - because you are different. And an us/them mentality. More pertinently, Charles said that he thought the Koreans are quite a lot like that, and they are. Foreigners are aliens here. A novelty and an entertainment, but complete outsiders. This has led, we decided over dinner, in its harshest form, to the North/South Korea Polarity. And it keeps bringing up the question, if you are interested in finding solutions for divided countires, do you care about someone other than yourself?

Do you care about the other person?

Do you care that someone's stepmother has cancer?

Does the average American really care about the average Iraqi? If so then does he also care about the average guy in Zimbabwe, because believe me Zimbabwe has its problems, Zimbabwe has its dictator. He's a guy called Bob, and Bob is a pretty bad granddad. And that's just Zimbabwe.
I brought up the sick mother in law again. Was I supposed to care about her? It sounds harsh, I explained, but do you care about the shopkeeper on the corner? Do you care that 50 000 people in Sudan died today? If you do then you'll probably care that Ethiopia is heading for another gutwrenching famine, they have missed four consequetive rainy seasons. The answer is I should care. We should all care, but do we?

Because really, saying you care, saying you really care means that you care enough to get yourself to do something. I don't know to what extent caring intellectually is caring. Do you think the German population during World War II really cared what was happening inside their borders to 6 million people?
So I think what I was really saying is, did a guy from New Zealand, that once worked around here, did his stepmother ever care about me? As I say, the wine didn't bring out the best in me.

There was another twist, just as the day was being finally put to bed. Corneli also had something to say. To say she was distressed is putting it a bit mildly.
I got on my bicycle at 4am and wondered why it is that emails can lead to so much destructive, selfdefeating behaviour.
Sometimes the chaff overwhelms the wheat. Wheat and Chaff (Is. 11:1-10; Rom. 15:4-13; Matt. 3:1-12) 'We are both wheat and chaff, and the chaff must be burned away’. I think this has been used alot by rascist people to rationalise their
hatred and intentions of destruction for other slightly different human beings.

There's not much wheat, tonight, my dear, and to me wheat means the whole grain goodness of life. It is futile to dwell on why you don't care about stepmothers with cancer. It is that sort of gnawing on the bone useless thinking, directed nowhere, that takes you nowhere. This is what I mean when I say I need to reEducate myself mentally. Thinking needs to be Wholewheat, All Wheat. Life is Be, Do, Have. Be is thinking, which leads to feelings, and then what we do. Everything you do, after all, Maximus, echoes in eternity. Focus then needs to be on the good things you can do, and the good things you do care about. Focus on the wheat and you will have wheat, and not be overwhelmed by the chaff. I cycled home under a big brown harvesty moon last night. And I wondered, as you will in a moment, what all this had to do with chocolate ice cream.
 Posted by Hello

alt="Site Meter" border="0"/>

Corneli nearly freaked out when she saw her Pinotage. She is a bit of a wine connoiseur, and this Nederburg 2001 that Charles gave her - well she was delighted when she got it. I was pretty happy too, because the chances are I will get to taste some of it. As usual the service at TGI Friday's was terrible, and I made that even worse by really stuffing myself with everything from prawns, to quesadillas, to a really massive burger, to chicken. The beer was good though, and the company. We spoke about things like The Final Solution, the North Korean Question, Spanish (as a language and as the wrong thing to teach as an English teacher), Jews, what happens when one of your students approaches you as you are about to watch a movie (you find out you were supposed to meet his parents so they don't lose face and you don't get a warning from your boss), marathons, a movie called Old Boy, incest, Jews, jobs, America, Jews and so on. Did I mention we talked about Jews? Our waittress was quite cute. Her name was Juwi.
 Posted by Hello

We arrived at not-my-favourite-restaurant a little on the late side, except we had to wait for our table anyway. I am not often early. I prefer arriving exactly on time or one or two minutes late. The reason is I hate waiting for people if I arrive early and they arrive late! Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 30, 2004


It's around 5pm now and I have slept most of the afternoon. I have felt really tired today. I wanted to climb a hill around here called Gobonsan. It is steeper than nearby Jeongbalsan which is where I do hill repeats.
I am eager to be well, and it seems the common cold is not leaving without a fight. It seemed like a very low level infection, as the sniffyness and sore throat passed after only a day or two. But in its place is a feeling of some malaise. Just tiredness. The kind where you think you will do something and then wake up and find the afternoon has floated away.

It's interesting that Osama Bin Laden made a public annoucement today. It is incredible that someone responsible for flattening two buildings in New York is still giving it to the American President. I believe there is a lot of corruption in Washington, because corruption makes it hard to get simple things done that need to be done. And the escape of Bin Laden and recently the huge weapons cache that disappeared, I think it happens because some important people are trying to make money, trying to do things that are not the most important priorities, and then they have to explain what are they doing. Bin Laden is a wily adversary. I'm not sure if that's a word that springs to mind when I think of Bush or Kerry.

I have written a children's story, called I am in Hospital, which is a short representation of my earliest, and possibly most traumatic experience. It was a 10 day stint in a hospital that started with an extremely high core body temperature of 104 degrees fahrenheit. To give you an idea, simply having a temperature this high for long enough can incur brain damage.
I remember being put into a bath filled with cold water and ice cubes. Imagine how that feels when you are shaking and shivering because you feel so cold, yet your skin is burning with fever.
I remember the oxygen tent too. I spent a few days in it, the oxygen meant to boost my system, and cool me down. And it also provided a barrier to prevent me from spreading the infection. I had a very bad case of food poisoning. The medical term is gastro enteritus.
The worst was being fed through plastic drips because the doctors wanted no food in my stomach, because there was a risk that whatever poison was in there would revive. So I did not eat for several days, and although I suppose physically I could handle it, my mouth, my mind, craved food. There were other nasty experieces in the 10 day period that I won't go into here.
I remember coming home on an incredibly bright day, and my bed seemed very low, and my room seemed very big. Those were the longest 10 days of my life.

What I enjoy about these times when you are down, slowed down, is it allows you to consider how the grass grows on the other side of wellness. Being sick asks you to take a new approach to, and have an appreciation for, wellness. (Is this last sentence grammatically correct? I wonder...) It gives you a chance to do things like write a children's story or draw a picture, or just read. And I guess debate the grammatical correctness of sentences.

What I don't enjoy is the negativity that sometimes sneaks up behind that. I got two emails recently that didn't make me feel very positive. In one, an email from an ex-colleague who I haven't heard from in a year, he tells me his step mother has terminal cancer. He says he may soon have to leave Korea. I remember he was one of three teacher's that left my school, and when I questioned where he was going and how it came about I got an answer that, to be frank, was not true. They went to work at a university, and they were really secretive about it towards me. I only found out because I saw one of the application documents. It does bother me that people misrepresent and mislead and then expect you still to take them on face value.
So do I care that his mother has terminal cancer? Am I going to catch the first flight to see her? Of course I am. But before I do I need to see that Kerry wins on Tuesday. If he does, I'll go and see his ailing stepmother. That's how much I care.

Tammy just MSN'ed me and told me she is going surfing tomorrow, and that I must lose the beard. "Yuck", she says. Do I care? I'll have to think about that one and get back to you.
She had an interesting comment that I really liked today. She said, "It's Saturday, so I'm not thinking."
I'm going to try that tomorrow.

This is a picture of Roland Schoeman, the second fastest swimmer in the world over 50 meters. Second by a whisker. This advertisement appeared in Men's Health earlier this year. Posted by Hello

Party Pooping

I was not quite in the party mood. Maybe because the drink I was holding cost about as much as the meal we had at Pomodorro, seriously. I think the common cold was still running amuck, it certainly was causing me some derangio, since I couldn't even get clear who was the actor and who was the director. I think because Gabriel doesn't say a word at all, and he was really in the shadows at Don't Go, and Peter made a small speech and we saw him when we saw Collateral it just felt like he was totally involved (because my impression was Gabriel was totally uninvolved). I don't think Gabriel's name is mentioned anywhere either. These are my excuses for placing assumptions above logic. Tonight I am not completely myself. I wasn't keen on joining Jan and Mark in the Hongik University area for Club day. Halloween is an amazing time to go out over here. Just as the movie ended a fellow covered in purple balloons, and wearing green stockings, came into the bar. Everyone burst out into applause and the grape guy of course thought we were appreciating his costume. There were also angels, ghouls and witches. But I was not quite in the mood. Hopefully I will be later as there are lots of things happening here and in Seoul. Posted by Hello

Left Right

Gabriel is on the left, playing guitar, and Peter is on the right. Gabriel did the acting, and Peter the directing. Got it? Posted by Hello


Cory on the left did the editing, and Laz helped with the production. They are working on a full feature now. Posted by Hello

Hallo Halloween

Who is the beautiful birthday girl? Shortly after the movie came the stroke of midnight, and Corneli turned 31. This is a picture of her on our way to Don't Go. It's an area of LaFesta some of us refer to as Meat Alley, because there are so many galbi (meat) restaurants here. Corneli lives in a nice apsrtment on the 3rd floor of an OfficeTel at one end of LaFesta and Don't Go is on the other end. It's actually quite nice walking through all the shops and seeing all the eye candy on display.  Posted by Hello


This was where we went last night. It's called LOST SEOUL DERANGIO and was filmed in Seoul and the Ilsan area, which is where I live. I was interested to see it because I am interested in film, especially film-making, and have long wanted to write for film. It is good to see something done on no budget, and I was impressed by the attention to detail, and the quality of it. I think the world is far more receptive to independent films. This may be because of Reality TV Shows, and also because Hollywood packages dreams, and has a magic formula (bit of a conflict in terms I'd say) that leaves many people untouched and unfulfilled. Whale Rider, for example, was a fresh independent production from New Zealand that left an indelible impression on me, and on most who saw it. There is actually a teacher starting at our school this November, who is a Maori, and from New Zealand. But, I digress: This was a 12 minute film about a hapless traveller arriving in Seoul only to find there is no one to meet him at the airport, and he has to find his way around a country where everything is in a different language. It has a Mr Bean quality about it, because the main character (dressed in black) says nothing throughout, but it is also it's own identity, thanks to good acting by Gabriel Diaz. I spoke, after the film, to the guys and congratulated them on an excellent score and some effective techniques. I had a long conversation with one of them. He explained that an actor really needs to not be force-fed dialogue, but allowed to speak the way he would speak. I said that I thought his acting was brilliant. The subtlety in the taxi, the calm but desperate appearance, I said, "is not an easy thing to convey on film, without looking self conscious. So I thought you did a great job." "Oh you mean my brother?" "Huh?" "I directed the film, Gabriel did the acting."  Posted by Hello