Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Indy 4": the quick review

I had a chance to see my buddy Mike and his family again today; Mike drove me down to [undisclosed location] and I ate lunch with him, his lovely wife, and their three kids. A good time was had by all. Mike and I then went to "relive our childhoods," as Mike put it: we caught the 3:45PM showing of the newest Indiana Jones flick, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"-- a mouthful of a title.

While I can't say the movie was great, it definitely hit the right tone for the old-time Saturday matinees that both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have long claimed to love. For me, as someone who grew up with Indiana Jones, the movie was more of a sentimental tribute to past Indy films (it also had references to other Spielberg and Lucas flicks) than a genre-busting innovation. It was, in short, cute.

I was happy to see Karen Allen again in the role of Marion Ravenwood, though Mike remarked afterward that her role seemed largely "ornamental," an observation with which I agreed. One of the best moments in the film involves a blowgun, and the film goes over the top with cartoonish vehicle-related stunts. Spielberg also takes time out to show members of the animal kingdom both staring bemusedly at the antics of those wacky humans and occasionally getting in on the action themselves.

Would I recommend the film? While I doubt I could be prodded to see it a second time in the theaters (it's not exactly a movie that makes you think, nor is it one that blows you away with its witty plot twists or dialogue, nor is it particularly suspenseful), I'd still recommend it as a good way to kill an afternoon.


testing moblog capability

I am testing whether I can blog this from my new Blackberry. Success?

a week late

Last Sunday, I spent a wonderful afternoon with my buddies Mike and Dave. I never gave them a public thank-you, so, guys: Thank you. Your friendship means everything to me, and I appreciate both the hospitality and the generosity.


very little fanfare

This is the Memorial Day weekend, which is a time for us to honor those who have fallen while serving their country with bravery and distinction. The timing might seem strange to some folks, but me, I like the idea of my trek having quiet beginnings and only later blossoming into something bigger.

So enjoy your holiday, America! Ridiculous food and fuel prices might keep you home this year, and if that's the case, feel free to stop on by this humble blog and leave some comments.


ten religious questions I hope to ask

I hope to spend a few hours with each set of people I meet, talking about topics related to religious diversity. Among the many questions I hope to ask are these core ten (list subject to revision):

1. How do you (or how does your tradition) explain the fact of religious diversity?

2. Do you view religious diversity as fundamentally good or bad? Why do you feel that way?

3. Would you allow your children to date and/or marry people of another religion? Why or why not? What's your opinion of mixed-religion households?

4. Would you allow your children to attend services/rituals of other religious traditions? Why or why not?

5. What should people of other religions know about your religion? What do people not of your religion routinely misunderstand about it?

6. Is religious diversity a problem requiring a solution (e.g., fusing all religions into one religion)? Why or why not?

7. What metaphor would you use to describe the relationships between and among all the major (and minor) religious traditions?

8. Is it better to be pluralistic, inclusivistic, or exclusivistic? Why?

9. Is "religion in general" a problem? Could we solve many or most of humanity's problems by simply getting rid of religious thinking and religious social structures altogether? Related question: why do the major religions, which preach virtues like love, compassion, honesty, etc., so often have histories marked by violence, oppression, and suffering?

10. Is there any hope for dialogue between two parties of different religions who believe (and perhaps practice) contradictory doctrines?



So you're a Facebook addict and you're wondering whether I'm on Facebook. I am, but to be honest, I can't stand Facebook. It's full of useless gadgets that allow you to do meaningless things like "poke" or "bitch slap" or "toss John McCain at" someone. None of these cyber-gestures has any import in reality, and I fail to see the charm of social networking sites. Facebook and its ilk (e.g., MySpace and Korea's CyWorld) are based on the concept of incestuous linkage, and if the word "incestuous" already turns you off, then you know how I feel. There's something vaguely gross about Facebook.

All the same, if you'd like to "friend" me (whatever happened to good old email?), log on to Facebook, then do a search on "kevin kim." When that search turns up over 500 results, scroll to the bottom of the page and narrow your search by typing in this email address:

bighominid [at] gmail [dot] com

That'll take you to me.

After you've "friended" me, why not join one of the groups I created? I made two: (1) Kevin's Walk (whose purpose should be obvious), and (2) Religious Diversity, Interreligious Dialogue, and East/West Philo. Absolutely nothing is happening in either of those groups as of May 24th, but hey-- maybe you'll be the itchy group member who gets things shaking.


my finances

This post will be updated periodically to reflect the most current state of my finances. The most recent updates will appear at the top of this post.

(Skip the following boldfaced section to see the most recent update.)

UPDATE: 28 September, 2008

Now that I'm home in northern Virginia and wintering here until March of 2009, it may be time to do a bit of reassessment regarding the true cost of the Walk. As I look back on my original predictions, I can't help laughing at their naïveté. What I have now, after 600 miles on the road, is a better idea of my worst-case scenario, financially speaking, which doesn't include medical disasters. The scenario looks like this:

Assuming a 30-day month, let's say I stay in a hotel every night. Hotel costs, at their worst, are about $140 a night (that $200/night stay in Bellingham was a fluke). So thirty nights at $140/night = $4200.

While on the road, I tended to eat one or two meals per day, but getting a single meal for under five dollars was well-nigh impossible. My fear along the way was that, if I ate too little, I'd have too little energy to get through the day, so I tended to eat large portions. I've had meals that varied in price from $5 to $30-- the latter would include an appetizer, a soup or salad, a main course, a dessert, and as was often the case, tip. For the purposes of the worst-case scenario, let's fix food costs at $40/day. I never ate $40/day worth of food on a routine basis (in fact, I spent several isolated days without food), but such a rate of consumption is at least conceivable. So thirty days at $40/day = $1200.

Replacement costs for equipment and supplies were fairly low after the initial outlay (somewhere around $3000 before I even started the walk). I'd say that I've replaced various items (detergent, Q-tips, shoes, etc.) at an average rate of about $100-200 per month. For our purposes, let's stick with the $200 figure.

Incidentals-- such as paying for someone's gas, paying rent, mailing things back home, etc.-- have probably run me about $150/month, maximum.

So let's look at where we stand, then. The cost of this project, using the worst-case scenario, is $5750/month. Assuming a maximum of 24 months to finish the walk, we're looking at a cost of $138,000. That, folks, is probably why George Martin budgeted $150,000 for his trans-America walk, which took him nine months.

As of 6 March 2009:
Checking account's available balance = $304.85
Ledger balance = $304.85
Pending deposits = $0.00
Pending withdrawals = $0.00
PayPal balance = $0.05
My employers are behind in paying me. (As of December 2008, I've been working 2 jobs for two different Korean firms, doing proofreading and editing work.)

As of 28 September 2008:
Checking account's available balance = $62.96
Ledger balance = $404.63
Pending deposits = $0.00
Pending withdrawals = $341.67
PayPal balance = $0.08
Trip expenditures to date (since previous entry) = BE TO CALCULATED

As of 11 September 2008:
Checking account's available balance = $761.30
Ledger balance = $977.04
Pending deposits = $160.00 (transfer from PayPal)
Pending withdrawals = $215.74 (plus approx. $425 for hotel)
PayPal balance = $5.96 (sadly, I've had to shunt funds early due to the great expense of staying in hotels)
Trip expenditures to date (since previous entry) = BE TO CALCULATED

As of 25 June 2008:
Checking account's available balance = $5428.87
Ledger balance = $5482.19
Pending deposits = $0
Pending withdrawals = $53.32
PayPal balance = $1719.22 (thank you to all who have contributed! the goal is $6000 and I'm already a fourth of the way there!)
Trip expenditures to date (since previous entry) = $2278.52 (yikes)

As of 5 June 2008:
Checking account's available balance = $7825.73
Ledger balance = $8241.05
Pending deposits = $0
Pending withdrawals = $415.32
PayPal balance = $1642.44 (thank you to all who have contributed! the goal is $6000 and I'm already a fourth of the way there!)
Trip expenditures to date (since previous entry) = $1278.57 (yikes)

As of 25 May 2008:
Checking account's available balance = $8677.29
Ledger balance = $8677.29
Pending deposits = $0
Pending withdrawals = $0
PayPal balance = $1040.49 (thank you to all who have contributed! the goal is $6000 and I'm already a sixth of the way there!)
Trip expenditures to date (since previous entry) = $0.00

As of 24 May 2008:
Checking account's available balance = $8372.54
Ledger balance = $8275.93
Pending deposits = $300
Pending withdrawals = $103.39
PayPal balance = $1040.49 (thank you to all who have contributed! the goal is $6000 and I'm already a sixth of the way there!)
Trip expenditures to date (since previous entry) = $0.00
[Parents have elected to pay all BlackBerry bills! My brother David is paying for a year of GPS "Spot" bills! My brother Sean forgave me a $230 Mother's Day debt!]


Friday, May 23, 2008

"How can I help?"

Although the FAQ covers some of this, I thought I would take some time to review in greater detail the many ways in which you, Dear Reader, can help a poor bloke out during his trudge across America.

1. Donate. There are two principal ways to do this at present: (a) contribute via PayPal, or (b) mail me your check or money order contribution. If you choose to go the PayPal route (click the PayPal Donate button on my blog's sidebar), be aware that PayPal takes about 4% of your contribution for itself; this is how it makes money. For those who prefer snail mail, you can send your check or money order to:

Kevin Kim
PO Box 6
Mount Vernon, VA 22121-0006

Thank you for contributing! The goal is to collect about $6000 to defray anticipated costs.* Be aware that I do not plan to use your contributions until I'm out of my main source of funds. Contributions, then, are sitting in the PayPal account as a last resort. And yes, check and money order contributions will end up in the PayPal account, because I want to keep donations separate from the money I earn. Whatever money remains in the PayPal account after the Walk is finished will be given to charity; I won't be keeping it. The money isn't there for my financial gain; it's there only to help me get by.

2. Buy my book or CafePress products. You can purchase my book Water from a Skull here; you can read about it here. You can shop for CafePress products here. I'd actually prefer your business to your contributions, as I feel less guilty about doing business with you than I do about simply accepting money.

3. Host me for a night or two. Are you interested in talking about religious diversity? Why not host me for a night or two? Be advised that I'll need the following things from you:

a. a place to shower, poop, and do laundry (and I'd rather not do all those activities in the same basin, please)
b. permission to audio- or video-record our exchange(s)
c. directions showing me a legal walking route to my next destination (i.e., you'll have to have planned that out in advance)
d. a place to sleep

Food is optional! I won't mind going without food. NB: I'll be passing through a lot of unfamiliar country, so I'd also appreciate your travel wisdom re: what to wear, how to deal with different kinds of local weather, etc.

4. Arrange for a local religious community to host me for a night or two. This would be the standard approach. If you see that I'm going to be in your area, and if you're roughly at the midpoint between two of my known destinations, why not get your church, temple, etc. involved? I'd be happy to meet and greet all of you, though as with (3) above, I'll need wash facilities, directions to the next place I'm visiting, and a place to sleep.

5. Respond to blegging. Every now and then, I'm likely to blog that "I'm getting low on X!" For example, I might observe that I'm low on Q-tips-- an absolute must for my nasty ears. Without a daily Q-tip treatment, my ears rapidly become as fetid as Gollum's soul. I might also bleg** that I need a thicker coat, so if you have a used one that might come in handy, think about sending it my way (assuming I have the presence of mind to blog the address of my next arrival point).

By the way, unless you know for sure that I'm traveling in frigid temperatures, never mail me candy. The results are always disastrous.

6. Walk part of the way with me! I haven't thought this one through all the way, but I figure I'll be wanting a travel companion every now and again. Perhaps a member of Church B could accompany me to Synagogue C, and we could all sit down for an interfaith meal? Among the problems with having a travel companion (or companions) is that the people at the next destination might be expecting to host only one person. This is something to think about.

7. Become a "Kevin's Walk Central" member. Want to help me coordinate the route? It's likely that several people or organizations will contact me from out of the blue, all asking that I visit their site. If that's the case, I'll need help picking and choosing if these good folks all live in roughly the same region. I haven't firmed up what the organizational structure of Kevin's Walk Central would look like, and I sure as hell know that I can't pay anyone for this work... but I guarantee the job won't be thankless.

If you're willing to join Kevin's Walk Central or would like to offer KWC some route-planning advice, please write KWC at:

kevinswalkcentral [at] gmail [dot] com

For very specific information about what you can do as part of Kevin's Walk Central, please, please read this very important post.

8. Provide me with a computer to work on. My basic computer needs, when I arrive at any given place, will be focused on email, but I will also need to upload photos and videos from my camera or Blackberry, not to mention sound files from my voice recorder, to my blog. The ideal setup would be (a) email capability, (b) Photoshop Elements (I'm not familiar with Corel & would need tutoring), (c) USB2 connectivity, and (d) Google Earth, to allow me to see where I'm going next. If you're a household with dial-up, well... I don't know what to say.

9. Volunteer to document the Walk! Are you a film student looking for a potentially interesting topic? Well, I can't provide you any pay (you'll have to use your head and figure out funding on your own), but I can provide you with my own life, for the next year or two, as grist for a filmic narrative.

10. Tell everyone you know about the Walk! Spread the word, get people interested and involved, and let's see what happens. The more people who know what's happening, the more likely I am to meet interesting people as I make my way south and east. On the practical side, I'm also more likely to get funding, and there's less financial "burden" on each reader if there are plenty of readers! Imagine telling 50 readers that I need them to pass the hat and raise $10,000. Now imagine telling the same thing to 10,000 readers.

11. Anything else...?

*We'll probably have to revise this upward to some ungodly number. At the moment, I'm thinking $20,000, but am not quite ready to make an official announcement to that effect. (This note was written on July 10, 2008, while at the law library of Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon.) The reason for this is mainly my use of hotels and motels along the way. I have tried to avoid camping illegally, and my manager Alan Cook has been assiduous in his pursuit of CouchSurfing leads for me, but I still bleed a lot of cash thanks to the paid lodging, which so far has varied from 40 dollars a night (paper-thin walls) to 200 dollars a night (that was in Bellingham, and was a mistake-- but that hotel was also the only one in the area that had room for a person for two nights).

**For those who don't know the lingo, the word "bleg" is a combination of "blog" and "beg," i.e., to beg via blogging.


nota bene!

You have, I hope, noted a major change on the sidebar: the addition of LINKS to pages of interest both on and off my blog, not to mention a change in the image to reflect the scruffy-looking David Cook's recent victory on "American Idol."

I haven't created content for some of the links, so please bear with me while construction continues. To try the links out, first hover your cursor over them. If you see, at the bottom of your browser, the URL for the main page of this blog, then that link is currently "under construction." If you click the link anyway, you'll merely end up back on the blog's main page. Unless you like traveling in tight little circles, clicking is not advised.


how to look thinner than one really is

Fat people often employ certain tricks to appear slightly thinner on camera than they actually are. While the camera's cruel gaze might add weight to you skinny people, we fatties know that it's all about angle, posture, and breath.

The above photo might seem to present a contrast with the more blubberous photo in the previous post, but no Photoshopping was done. If I appear thinner in the above photo than in the previous post's image, it's because I did three things:

1. I angled my face in a way that made my eyes look bigger and drew my chin away from the camera. I also made sure the shot was from above the waist;

2. I propped both of my arms on doorjambs, which pulled my tee shirt up, thereby straightening the shirt's fabric and-- witness my evil genius-- minimizing the spare tire;

3. I used my soft palate to block breath through my nose (this happens naturally if you snore, but you can also do it on command), closed my mouth, then tried to suck in a breath just before the camera's timer took the shot. What this does is pull your double chin a ways into your head, making it less visible to the camera. The trick is useless when talking to people; you'd have to hold your breath the entire time. But for a quick shot with a digicam, the trick helps in the overall charade.

No Photoshop necessary.

By the way, that photo's going to be the new pic for the sidebar link image I'm currently constructing. Get used to the hairiness.


front page of the local Joongang Ilbo!

I did a 40-minute interview with Park Jin-keol of the Washington Joongang Ilbo yesterday morning (about 10:20AM to 11AM). The very polite Mr. Park, who is roughly half my size, proved to be more knowledgeable than me about many religion-related topics (not surprising, given my boundless ignorance about most matters); maybe he should do this walk! He was a good sport about my taking his picture; we had a good time both reviewing the salient aspects of my upcoming walk and talking about Korean religion. Our interview was mostly in English, which Mr. Park speaks excellently; I don't trust myself to speak technically about religion with my broken Korean.

I found out today that the article is already out, and I'm apparently on the front page! This would be much more exciting if I actually had a copy of the Joongang in front of me, but I'll obtain one by the end of the day.

Big thanks to my mother, who has many connections within the DC-Metro Korean community, for arranging this interview. It's definitely a leg up, and if it leads some Korean Buddhist temples to open their doors for me, that'll be fantastic. And again, many thanks to Mr. Park for taking the time out to interview someone who hasn't even started his walk yet! Not many media outlets put their faith in mere promises.


from Mile 8 to Mile 13

The following series of pictures (again, all from the May 15 thirty-miler) takes us from Mile 8, just past the Belle Haven picnic grounds, to the Mile 13 marker at the southern edge of National Airport. Mile 13 marks that day's turn-around point for the 30-mile walk. I say "that day's" because I walked straight through Old Town Alexandria to reach the marker a distance of less than five miles from the Mile 8 to the Mile 13 marker. On the way back home, however, I took the long route through Old Town (you'll see some of that in a subsequent post) and also took a detour to pick up a tent. This extra distance gave me my thirty miles. Were I to walk straight through Old Town again, I'd have to walk to Mile 14 to be sure I got all my miles in.