Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Solstice and World Cup

Happy Summer Solstice! (or winter to my friends in the southern hemisphere) It has been warm and humid here for awhile now, but it's nice to know it's officially summer. Gunsan is farther south than Seattle, closer to the latitude of Bakersfield, California. Unfortunately, this means that the summer days aren't quite as long as I'm used to around the solstice. It was dark by about 8:30 today.

But it does mean that summer plans are starting to come together. Nothing definite yet, but I've been kicking around plans for beach weekends, backpacking, and a trip to China. Oh, and my little experimental garden is actually growing! I staked the tomatoes, the peppers are flowering, the cucumber has new leaves, and the radishes, cabbage, and lettuce have all germinated. Summer's bounty is on its way!

So as you probably know, this minor event called the World Cup has been happening the last couple weeks. I'm not usually a sport spectator, but I like soccer and it has been really fun to be living in a soccer-loving country. The second Korea game was against Argentina last Thursday, and I went to a local sports field to watch.

They set up a stage and huge screen, and Korean families turned out en masse with blankets, food, beer, red shirts, and red devil horns to watch the game. The excited buzz in the air was palpable. The Argentinians played much better than the Koreans, though when the score was 2-1 I thought Korea might have a chance. Then Argentina scored two more goals for a painful defeat of 4-1. It was still a blast though, being out in public with so many enthusiastic soccer fans in the warm night air.

Then two nights ago, Korea played Nigeria. It was at 3:30am here, so there was no way I was watching it. But I was woken up at 4:30 to the sound of massive cheers around the neighborhood. Clearly Korea had scored a goal, so that was a good sign. I sighed happily and went back to sleep. The final score was 2-2, giving Korea one win, one loss, and one tie... good enough to send them to the Round of 16!

They are playing one of the first Round of 16 games against Uruguay on Saturday. I will be in Seoul for a friend's birthday, and I'm looking forward to watching the game in the big city.

And finally, last week I heard this quote spoken and I really liked it. Ten points to any one who can tell me who said it.

"Yet time and again we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny.... What sees us through- what has always seen us through- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it."

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