13 Random thoughts about Canada after living here for a year.

On January 1, 2016 we packed up all our earthly goods and headed south to Canada. (Yes, it’s true. When you live in Minnesota, it’s possible to move south to Canada. Look at the map!) Having lived here for a little over a year, here are some thoughts about living here, in no particular order: “Sorry” is more of a greeting than just an apology. Canadians really are polite; but put them behind the wheel of a car and all bets are off.

Mak-kimchi 막김치

Years ago, my wife and I stayed overnight in Seoul on the way home from New Zealand. An amazing array of types of kimchi accompanied breakfast the following morning; and from then on, I was hooked on this Korean staple. For the last few years, I’ve gradually honed my kimchi-making skills. For simplicity, I tend to make mak-kimchi which means “roughly made kimchi.” In traditional kimchi, who cabbages are fermented intact (though usually split in half to permit the salt and later, spices to enter between the leaves.

Kimchi and hypertension

Given my obsession with kimchi, I sometimes wonder whether the salt in kimchi promotes hypertension. The good news seems to be that it doesn’t. In a retrospective recall study1 of over 20,000 Korean adults, there was no association between kimchi consumption and the prevalence of hypertension. Consumption of kimchi, a salt fermented vegetable, is not associated with hypertension prevalence, Song, Hong Ji et al., Journal of Ethnic Foods , Volume 1 , Issue 1 , 8 - 12 [return]

Why is the U.S. obsessed with home ownership?

If you’ve lived in the U.S. for any length of time, you realize that we have a national obsession with home ownership. Yet I’m beginning to wonder about this bit of American orthodoxy. I’ve owned 4 homes and none of them seemed like much of an investment to me. The last home that we sold was an enormous loss. We are now in a transition, anticipating our new move; so we are house-free (and debt-free!

The Art of Just Enough

In the popular sci-fi movie series “The Matrix”, a handful of humans discover that the perception of reality has been artificially engineered by computer software. By taking the red pill1 a person can be released from the deception, thereby seeing things as they truly are. About material “stuff”, I’ve had the same sort of epiphany. Three years ago, we decided we needed to build a house. We weren’t pleased with our previous neighborhood; and we happened on a piece of land that seemed to fit our needs.

First experience with astrophotography

Halema'uma'u eruption and stars(Sony A7 35⁄2.8 Zeiss) One of the great things about shooting with a camera like the Sony A7 that has an advanced sensor is that you can shoot astrophotographs with less noise that ever before. This comes into play with the inevitably long exposures you encounter when shooting the night sky. On a recent trip to view Kilauea volcano as we’ve done many times, I wondered if it might be possible to capture both the volcano and the star-filled sky in the same shot; so I began to research a bit on astrophotography.

Concatenating mp4 video files

I recently shot a recital with my Sony A7. While it’s a wonderful camera for stills and it produces some excellent video too, cameras like this are not meant for continuous video recording. There are limitations that are imposed by compression algorithm licensing requirements. And, it seems, there are limits that are imposed by thermal issues inside the camera. To make a long story short, my A7 ended up giving me two video files instead of one for this event.

Dandelions and innocence

Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota. So have dandelions. On one of our walks, my daughter ViolinGirl exclaimed how much she loved the yellow “daisies” that dot some lawns. She wished our lawn could be covered with these beautiful flowers. What a strange circumstance! We begin life appreciating the random beauty of these “weeds.” But once we reach adulthood, neighborhood peer pressure and cultural expectations have us spraying toxic chemicals - to our own detriment, no less - to eradicate these cherished flowers.

Middle class economics and false dichotomies

Patricia Cohen’s piece “Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure”1 published yesterday in the New York Times raises several discrepancies between the economics of the middle class and one’s identification with that group. Reading the comments on the article I was struck by how divided Americans’ points of view are when it comes to the middle class and the causes of its distress. Clearly middle class wages have stagnated in the years immediately preceding and following 9⁄11.