2008-07-14 Korea Week 4

KAIST Week 4:

It has been three weeks at KAIST so far, my fourth week in Korea.  I am still going on many bike rides.  The last ride brought me around KAIST and around the boarders of Eusong.  It was a relatively far ride but I saw some neat stuff.  The funny thing in the thing that I found most exciting is the trash.  You see because Korea is growing very fast economically the trash people throw out is well… awesome.  As many of you know I am a trash picker, I believe in the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure “ and let me tell you if I lived here I would be a rich man with all of the treasures I would find.  One of the things I found, though could not take with me because I am 11K miles from home, was a broken Ovation guitar.  Being that I make and fix guitars this was gold to me.  It is also not uncommon to find bikes, parts of motorcycles or scooters or stereos in the trash just ready for the taking.  I hope there are other in Korea like me who will pick that stuff up and make proper use out if it.

Any way the academic part of the week was not that fruitful due to the fact that I do not have the hardware I need to test my code on.  However I am writing new functions for the New Hubo to make other’s programming of the robot a lot easier.  I currently have 14 functions completed that allows you to tell the joints of the Hubo where to go as well as ask what the current sensor values are including accelerometer data, gyro data and motor position data.  The whole purpose of this is to just call a given function with a motor number and a desired position and the function will do all of the communications for you.  I am also writing a function that will allow you to just tell the hand, in Cartesian coordinates, where to go and it will automatically calculate the shoulder pitch, yaw, and roll angles as well as the elbow angle.  This will help out the people in Colby with their world interaction so they don’t have to worry about what each part of the arm is doing.  I will end up posing the API for all of these functions later on this week.

I saw the Hubo doing his straight leg walking for the first time this week, and let me tell you it looks awesome.  It looks much more human like, and it takes up half of the energy.  The down side is it is not as stable as the bent knee walking at the moment.  The control algorithms still need to be worked on.



A funny thing was I met my academic grandfather this week too, Dr. Richard W. Longman.  He said he was Dr. Paul Oh’s advisor for his PhD.  For those of you who do not know Dr. Paul Oh is who I am working with for my PhD at Drexel.  It is funny who you will meet when you are thousands of miles from home.

Figure 1: (Left) Daniel M. Lofaro “Me”  (Right) Dr. Righard W. Longman “My Academic Grandfather”


At KAIST Hubo Lab it is not all work, we do take out time to meditate on the Hubo’s treadmill, see picture below.


Figure 2: Meditation on Hubo’s treadmill


In the middle of the week Bobby and I went out to the markets of Daejeon proper.  At the markets you could find whatever part of the animal you could ever desire to eat, and some that you would normally just throw to Bernidet.  We found places that had the end trails of animals being boiled in stews as well as whole head of cows just simmering away in a tub of boiling water.  The area that sold fish reminded me of NYC’s south street fish market when it was still a fish market.  The only difference is that the fish is cheap here, for instance for three squids it would cost $2.00 CRAZY!!!


Figure 3: Wishing I had a full kitchen I could cook fish in… mmmmm fresh fish


Furthermore, even though I am far from home I am still able to find my favorite wine Santa Carolina.  It is a wine from Chile.  My Uncle Robin is the one who recommended that I try wines from Chile, and this is the one that that I found to be my favorite.


Figure 4: Me and my favorite wine Santa Carolina


On Thursday I got sick.  It was no fun, though everyone was really nice and kept on offering me medicine to help me get better.  I was afraid that I would still be sick on Friday, the day I was planning on going to Seoul because we would leave from Seoul to the Mud Festival on that Saturday.  However I took some Advil and I was fine then next day.  I think it was the air conditioner that got me sick, we had it on 19oC which is a bit chilly so the change from the hot Korean air to the cold room probably had something to do with my illness.  However I was better on Friday.

That Friday I decided to head to Seoul after lunch that way I could do some shopping in Dongdemun.  I was by myself and made it to Seoul just fine.  It is amazing how someone with limited knowledge of the language, a bad Korean phrase book and a not book can get anywhere in Korea using just the latter items and a lot of hand gestures.  I ended up getting a bunch of presents for people, I am almost done with the people on my list, but not quite, still need to get something for the mommadet.  Later on that evening I met up with Bryce, Bobby, Justyn for dinner and clubbing. 

Figure 5: (Left) Bobby (Right) Bryce: We are enjoying some beer in an awesome open air dive bar on the third floor of a building.  Seoul beats Daejeon hands down when it comes to this stuff, though I have still not found Cream Beer in Seoul =-p


The next day we had to get up at 5am to get ready to leave for the train stating at 6am.  The down side is we were Jawerskied the night before and did not get home until about 3:30am… thus we did nto get a lot of sleep.  How ever all of us, with the exception of Justyn Jawarski, did make it to the train on time.  Due to the long train ride, about 2.5hr we were able to sleep a bit.  I personally felt much better because of that.  The funny thing was that the vast majority of the people on the train were American’s and/or other english speeking people on holoday. 


Figure 6: (Left) Elisa (Right) Saul: Just arriving in Borong for the Mud Festival


When we got to the hotel, we were all pleasantly surprised that I had booked a room with a wonderful view and a full kitchen including pots and pans. 


Figure 7: (Left) Erik (Right) Elisa: Looking over the wonderful view from our hotel room.


We all finished unpacking and then went to the mud festival.  Due to our early start we were able to get to where we were going by noon.  Thus we had plenty of time to play in the mud =-).  At the festival we played in the water as well as played a bit of soccer.   When we all agreed that it was time for mud we scurried over to where the buckets of mud was at and started to paint each other.  We were somewhat disappointed that the mud festival was not a giant pit of mud that we would sit and play it, but rather buckets of mud that you paint each other with.  However that did not stop us from wrestling on the beach.  It was amusing, whenever we would do something that looked fun the multiple camera guys would come running over and start taking pictures.  We will be famous next year, smeared all over the advertisements.


Figure 8: Mahin covered in dried mud… she now has the figure of a statue =-p


That night everyone decided that they did not want to eat out again, but rather make use of our full kitchen and make some food.  Thus we made some noodles and rice with ham and eggs.  It was really nice having all of the EAPSI 2008 people together again at the same dinner table. 


Figure 9: (Left to Right) Corey, Erik, Elisa, Saul, Thai, Meejin: Enjoying the home cooked meal in our hotel room.


It was night time when we decided to take a walk over to the warf that we were able to see from our balcoany.  We decided to make a bee line and cut through some side streets to go dirrectly there.  We were glad that we did because it looked reall neat.  The houses were all dark but obvious that people lived in them.  We eventually made it close to the warf but found our selves again in a fish market.  This fishmarket was different than the other one because allof the fish were still alive, including the octipui.  One of the ladies who was running on of the fish booths, if you want to call it that, told us that she know that we had already eaten because our faces were red but next time come here and eat, and she holds out a live octipus.


Figure 10: The poor live octopus that we were offered, Catlin would not be proud.


We then proceeded to play on the jack like structures that makes up the wharf.  Erik and I decided to try to sneak up on Meejin and Mahin by hiding behind the rocks but no, I was not stealthy enough and we were spotted.  We were also spotted when we saw a couple behind the light house about to kiss.  I tried to hide so I would not interrupt them, but no, they saw us and scurried away.  We feel bad having cock blocked the guy, hopefully he will get another change some day =-p.


Figure 11: Erik playing on the jack like structures that make up the wharf.


It was then time for bed.  In the hotel there were no beds, there were just these mattresses that you would roll out and put on the floor.  Due to the fact that we are all college students we did not mind and we just rolled them all out on the floor and had basically one big bed.  The amusing part was that Justyn ended up coming back to the hotel around 4am with three other people.  We let them in because it was raining outside and their tent well… was not water proof so then there were 14 of us sleeping on the floor.


Figure 12: (Top) Corey (Bottom) Elisa: Sleeping on the floor… there were 12 others around them.


The next day we all decided to go home at about 2pm.  Bobby and I were the only ones heading back to Daejeon and lucked out on the bus because it was leaving 20 minutes after we got to the terminal, while the people going to Seoul had to wait 2hr for their bus.  When we got back to Daejeon we decided to do some shopping in Daejeon proper again.  We got some more gifts for people as well as some PIZZA!!!!!  Well it is a seafood pizza at a place called Mr. Pizza… wait aren’t I Mr. Pizza???  They stole my name!!!!  We thought that it was good, they gave us mayo  to put on the pizza which was different but good.  We found the slogan of the place to be very amusing, “Love for Woman” what does that even mean?  Our thinking is that it was the Korean equivalent of taking your girl out for Chinese food in the US, instead it is American food in Korea i.e. pizza.


Figure 13: Me at my place “Mr. Pizza” and my favorite slogan??? “Love for Woman”


Now I am back at KAIST and am going to try to find something to do.  Hopefully I will get that hardware I requested.  Oh two sad notes this week.

1.       The two Germans who live across the hall are leaving in just over a week.  It is a shame we liked going out with those guys.  We will have to go the club that they recommended “Boobie Boobie” with them before they leave

2.       My beautiful small laptop died after 4 years of surface with me.  This makes me upset because now I do not have a computer in my dorm that I can use to watch my movies and do Skype with.  I don’t even know if I can fix it when I get home either, when I press the power button it just has the main power light go on, the hard drive and CD-Rom drive powers up but the screen does not turn on and it never gets to the bios.  I don’t know what I am going to do now.