into the baseball games again..

Why I like baseball!
(written by Daniel Hobin Shin)

   At year 2008, when the Beijing Olympic was in full swing , I was turning the channels to find something interesting to watch. For the reason that I liked the game in the Olympics. Then I saw a channel which showed a baseball game played by Korea against Japan. I played baseball before, but I thought baseball was only about simply hitting and throwing the ball. However, as I watched the game, it wasn’t simple at all.

   There were more actions added to it. Like stealing. Stealing was a risk. You can move one base forward or you could be thrown out. As the pitcher throws the ball, you have to run as fast as you can. Otherwise the pitcher will get the ball sooner and call you out of the stealing place. The cool thing about this move is that it’s exciting to watch as they slide to be safe. If you hear the sound safe! you feel awesome. If you get thrown out, however, it does not feel very well. There was also more cool stuff to watch judging from the reactions of the audience; except, I didn’t know what was so exciting about it. I soon became curious about it and started to ask my dad many questions.

   As I learned the game rules, I realized that the game was even more thrilling than it seemed. The batter was always important, yet the pitcher was what attracted me the most. I liked to watch how the pitcher was playing. The moves were kind of strange to me for the pitchers moved all of there body as they moved. Even though they could just use their arms. For another they had many tricks they could play. For instance, a curve ball. It is just like its title. It goes the same as the fastball until it reaches the batter, then the ball drops. The thing that is special about this ball is because a normal fastball just goes straight, a curve ball bends at the time when the pitcher wants it to bend. Even without touching the ball! As a result, the batter often miss the ball. But, as I joined a baseball team and started to play last year, I recognized that the batter’s part was the exhilarating part to play.

   There was nothing that could beat the batter’s part. There was tension when the pitcher is throwing the ball. Everything was fast going, yet the scene seems to go in slow motion. Then the batter swings. There is a scream of delight all around the field, when the bat hits the ball with a sound of crack. When the batter misses the ball, there is a small groan of regretfulness. Still that’s not the best part of baseball. The best part is that you throw away all your tiredness with it. It’s so refreshing when you swing the bat. Another, it really feels good when you swing the bat and get an infield hit or maybe even a home run. You cannot beat that wonderful feeling! That must be the best part of baseball.

   As I played more games, the baseball day became the most joyful moment of my week. Every time I played the game I felt more energy. It made me happier, healthier and stronger. Even if I was often tired in the end of the practice, it was worth being tired. It is like when you do your chores boringly then receive a happy ending by receiving a dime or a quarter for the hard job done.

   Last weekend, I took an outdoor rest and played baseball with my dad. Now it is my hobby to search baseball information in the Internet. It is a little sad if you are not playing baseball with a lot of people though. All I can do is catch ball. Shame.

   I liked batting practice, but I wanted to be better at pitching. It was hard, pitching; the ball didn’t go where I wanted it to go. The more I was nervous on the mound, the more I threw worse then ever. It’s like when I try to do my work better, the efforts often mess up. When I relax, I do better. It is the same as in baseball. By the experience I want to learn more lesson and grow better at relaxing.

You like it. I liked it.
(written by 'Jacob' Dong-il Shin)

Daniel, you are becoming like me, your dad. I liked baseball when I was at your age. I was O.K. hitter, but I think I was an even better pitcher. I often played as an infield player. I still remember that, on a very hot summer (typical Daegu) day, I played all day. I remember myself adjusting my hat, pushing it down on my head, flattening my short hair in a game day. I stepped up to the plate. The opposing pitcher looked at me. I realized that my grip was too tight on the bat. Yes, I was nervous. I relaxed my hands and just tried to put the bat on the ball. That's the most important part for the batter. I swung the bat. Sometimes I was out. Often I made hits. What a wonderful memory in my heart!

You are playing baseball for your enjoyment. I help you practice, and I admit that it is as much for me as it is for you. I mean, I liked baseball, and I am always ready to go back to my favorite memory. It is the loveliest fringe benefit to having son: I sometimes use you as an excuse to do stuff I want to do myself but never wuld have. You have been keen on baseball, basketball, tennis, or running. Fine with me! I became as fascinated with that as you are. I am a dad who loves to play with family members.

In order for you to grow as a fine person, you need to explore your potential and talents. I value the efforts. In the process of your exploration, you cannot imagine how exciting it is that I find common interests I can peg to my kids. There has been always somethings like music, iPOD, science museum, running (Susie), or books, reading, writing workshops, baseball, basketball, tennis (Daniel). You like it, and I like it. That's the way I try to remain a family man. Thank you, Daniel. You take me to another dimension of my free-time family activity. I feel more connected to you.  


Getting Personal: It is all about me..

(by and about 'Jacob'Dong-il Shin)

1. What time do I typically get up? What do you do the first hour(s) of the morning?
I was a night person, and I thought I was most productive at night. I was wrong! I was just a workholic then. I wake up at 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m each morning and I think I'll wake up earlier. Sometimes I still write until 12 or 1 in the a.m., especially before a due date is coming, and I get up late.

In the first hour of waking up, like everybody else, I get ready for work! I don't like to shower, but I do if I meet people at school or in meetings. I get dressed, eat, drive to work. I often have devotions, and read one local paper when I am free in the morning. I grab a cup of coffee, go online and sometimes play with iPOD, or a to-do list. I often check personal and business e-mail, respond when appropriate, check my calendar for the day. I try not to rush in the morning; I did rush when I was young.

2. What did I have for lunch today?
Jimmy Jones sandwich. Number 9 Italian Night Club. At my desk, alone -- a working lunch. I also like a 6-inch sandwich from Subway and often eat at my desk doing paperwork. I sometimes have lunch at home with my wife. At school, my lunch is sometimes with my students or co-workers. I have become an indepent thinker/writer recently, and I am trying to have a weekly lunch with a group. If time is allowed, I prefer to go to a new restaurant where it offers us a lot of choices. I love to explore.

When I teach over the noon hour (often I do at campus), I just bite a slice of bread.

3. Best high school memory?
Too many and complicated to list just one. Baseball games all day. Basketball practice in late evening. When I didn't have friends to play with, I practiced alone. I loved sports. I still do.

4. My favorite pair of shoes.
My white running shoes, Asics brand, a gift from myself after I made a sweet decision in March 2010. It isn't the shoes that are special, but warm memories of myself that flow when I wear them. I'm training for a couple of marathons in 2010. The guys at Dick's helped me pick them up. Not much expensive, but they've been great. I wear them to all the marathon games (Champaign half, Chicago full) in 2010. I have a pair of black sneakers that I like because they go with casual suits, slacks or jeans. They are so comfortable that I even try to wear them in the winter.

5. What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
Picture A: At home, in my robe, reading my favorite newspapers - not online versions, but the physical papers -- then moving on to a good book. Then out with friends or family at somewhere fun. Then around 8-ish going back to work on a my writing project. Evenings, I sometimes work for Monday. On Sundays, however, it's mostly a time to decompress and loving people.

Picture B: Baseball practice with my son, not showering, lunch somewhere at coffee house, read my favorite magazines and comics in Sunday paper, and then a nice nap. In the fall and winter, I often watch basketball games with my son; in the spring and summer, it's baseball games on TV.

6. Was there one book I read as a child that I still cherish?
This is a tough one - it was not unusual for me to read some books a week! I still have a number of favorites. Maybe I will go with "Alice in the Wonderland" (I forgot most of it in there), which I recently plan to read again.

I can quickly tell the book I cherish as an adult. That's 'What I talk about when I talk about running' written by Haruki Murakami. It was translated into Korean: 달리기를 말할 때 내가 하고 싶은 이야기. I read it over and over, once on my Kindle.

7. Where on earth am I dying go go? Why?
Anywhere if with my loving people. I prefer home when I can. If I am financially allowed to go out, I would like to see the Europe, especially England. I was there for my academic research some years ago, but I hadn't prepared properly for the trip and I was rushed. Visiting there one day is on my list of things to do before dying. Also I like Cheju Island. I was there first for my honeymoon.

8. My favorite pet?
My wife does not allow my family to have pet. I am still looking for a dog who is so behaved (s)he never need a leash.

9. Have I discovered as I matured that I am becoming like one of my parents? Which one and how?
My first answer is "my mom." I think I take after her. I am more like my mother as I age. But I see both in the mirror every morning now. I certainly see my dad in my face, and it surprises me. My dad for his interest in family; my mom for her caring heart, emotion. I'm also now glad I got my dad's gray hair.

Now my son is becoming like me, and my daughter is becoming like my wife. It is fun to watch them grow.

10. What would I order for my last meal?
It would depend on whether I had all of my own teeth.

11. What can I NOT live without?
Like everybody else, oxygen. And books, bookstores, or somewhere I can connect to the Internet. And, what about my glasses. I hate seeing things looking fuzzy.

12. Who do I have on my iPOD?
As for music, I listen Christian music, and I think I like every kind of music except hard rock - except in Seo Taeji's comeback album issued some years ago. I find many of my daughter's selection (mostly Korean pops) playing in my car.

13. What's the happiest memory of my life?
Way too many to list. One happiest must be living in 2010, when is my sabbatical year in USA. It is a big change. May 1995 and April 1999 when my daughter and son were born. I can remember almost everything about the days of birth. The moment I held my daughter and sons in my arms at hospital. Very nervous but UNFORGETTABLE! Also, my family were quite happy when we bought our first home in 2006. It had been 15 years since my wife and I got married in 1993.

14. If I could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, what three people would I invite?
I would have to be all my family.

15. What's my best advice I 've ever been given?
At church, I were measured against myself and not the others. I try to pass the same lesson to my students now. You can accomplish much if you don't care who gets the credit. I earn my self-esteem when I don't sweat the small stuff.

16. What's my best piece of advice?
Keep writing. If you want something, write first. Then go after it all the way. OR 'I am an artist at living, and my work of art is my life.' It is from Japanese philosopher Suzuki.

17. What was my first job, and how much did I make an hour?
At age of 15, I delivered flyers at street for around $1 per hour. I also worked for a restaurant - minimum wage. If memory serves me, it was a big experience.

18. What was a pivotal decision in my career, and how did I arrive at that decision?
Career-wise, maybe this is the one: I turned down my usual and attention-getting job in a huge project of test development. In 2007, I was offered the jobs like as rating and rater training coordinator, or item development coordinator in newly developed test battery of English. However, I was very disappointed at the politics undergoing there, or selfishness of the involved professionals then, and I simply walked away. My dream was, and is to grow as a fun- and justice-seeking ethical professional, and I felt like my dream could not be realized in the usual context of my works. I decided to stand alone, and I trained myself to become a writer. There is no position that means more than to me than a writer publishing influential or charming books. I still struggle and I don't think I am a successful writer yet, but I have been blessed by the 2007 decision and haven't looked back with regret since. I don't have to sacrifice my most important job as a dad, husband, teacher, and writer to hold the fame-pursuing politically driven career. I am happy for me; I have a career that combines my writing and teaching life, in one place.

19. Do I have a bad habit? What is it?
I don't exercise during winter and too much in summer. I snore.

20. How do I handle a stressful situation?
Every time I make mistakes, I almost stop and slow things down. Sometimes I walk, run, or write. Or taking a walk in a huge big bookstore. Taking to my wife. She listens and I talks. I try not to react to the situation before taking time to breathe and reflect.

21. Future plans?
Just stay calm. Read and write. Have an impact and grow, not only as a professor but also as a person.

(maybe continued)


Tiger Woods

I support Tiger!
(By 'Jacob' Dong-il Shin)

Tiger Woods is, maybe was, a sex addict. While I watched him deliver an apology speech on television, I thought that maybe it was not about sex. Itmust be about core issues, about pain. Tiger's addiction probably has something to do with his father and pain that he never dealt with. His father had multiple affairs.

I don't think Tiger wanted to deal with the emotional pain, anger, unworthiness, or fear of rejection stemming from his childhood memories, because his father has been a big help for Tiger's career. The pain has been just hidden and unstructed. He lived too competitively just hiding his weaken feelings and emotions.

After he has achieved the world level excellence as a golfer, he may have had very complicated and unmanagable amount of competiton pressure, which I think often become more intense in the form of loneliness, fear of failure. It must be leading him to one form of addict.

Good news is that there has been no report that he physically threatened or grew verbally abusive of his wife. Often anger or veral abuse, a part of any addiction, become intense even at home. It gives a slight sign showing that his wife may step up for some help, if asked for on Tiger's addict, and if she cares about his husband's pain. He looks like trying hard to stay away from the addiction now, but I heard individualized recovery program is not enough, and that loving people must participate in the program. Tiger himself cannot make amends. He can start by repeating the mistakes he've done, because it is not like one-time temptation or something. It is the pain deeply rooted from the past. He has a long way to go. Family should stand in the process.

Does he truley come back as a loving and loved husband through the recovery? Can he be much more warm, much more caring at home? People still spread the rumors about him. People often say, "His apology was totally scripted. I don't believe a word of it." Well, it is true it is hard to measure his meaningfulness. Woods may be lying. He may fall again. He may betray his family and us again.

Here I want to think different. Because cynicism is easy for anyone and it doesn't cost us anything, I love to take a risk. I want to extend my mercy and grace on him. Is Tiger's sin really any different from mine? It is more public, though. In the end, however, his sin is my sin. It is a matter of degree. I will not be the judge of Woods who has openly confessed. I don't have to account for his sin, because I have plenty to account for myself.

I want him to come back. He just struggled, like we did, like I did. If there is hope for me, there is hope for Tiger Woods, too. I want hime to come back and tell us bravely that addiction exists but God will help hm find his way home. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Dear John and Avatar

Avatar: Everything played out perfectly for 2&1/2 hours!
(by 'Jacob' Dong-il Shin)

I heard "Dear John" knocked "Avatar" out of first place at the box office last week, and I wondered what is in there. My first impression was, it looked like no more than a mediocre love story.

Instread of rushing to a theater to see things attractive and tearful there, I read a couple of movie reviews and felt it just has very conventional stuffs (autism, cancer, stroke, a couple of deaths of loved ones, a couple of romantic rivals, lots of self-sacrifice, and 9/11) appearing in painful love stories. This movie is about a soldier named John who falls in love during a furlough and has a long-running coorespondence with his beloved once returns to 9/11 duty, and there must be very complicated situations in the romatic relationship. When you want tears jerked in the dark, it must be the one.

I much more like "Avatar" type of movie than "Dear John" and it mostly comes from story. Story-wise, it may have been argued that "Avatar" didn't have original ideas. It is true that blue cat-like aliens look a little different from, but have many things in common in "Dances with Wolves" or "Pocahontas." The story reminds us of somewhere from the video game or streamy-action novels already enjoyed by kids or teenagers. To me, however, the movie story is still interesting, well put together, clean, and everything played out perfectly in two hours or something. I did emerge myself into the story itself. 

Technology-wise, I am not an expert in special effect or movie production, but I dare to say this movie is impeccable! My judgement is from simply because I cannot catch any mistake spoken for in the movie. During a couple of running hours, have I been able to say "hey, look at that!" or "it's weird" somewhere in order to show off my detailed observation to spot something awakward? Cameron created a world of his own, which makes me (and millions of people in the world) truly feel as if we’ve been transported into a new world while watching the film. Isn't it amazing art of communication?

Avatar: a story of love and trust.
(by Susie Subin Shin)

 When I saw the commercial of the movie called ‘Avatar,' I never imagined that the big blue creatures would make people trust and love one another. To my first impression, they just looked strange and it was a fantasy at all. However, I changed my opinions after I watched the movie. It was a story of love and trust.

In the movie, when the earth people tried to attack the avatars' world and steal their resources, they didn’t know what their life would be like. They didn’t care. They didn’t even think about the fact that avatars should move to a new place and start all over again because of the selfishness of people. Horror and terror would last forever in the hearts of Avatars. The only thing that mattered for people was that they needed what they needed, and if there was one and only possible way to carry out, they'd love to do it sooner.

I liked the part where some scientists were learning about being avatars: how to speak their language or how to hunt for food. The more they learn, the better they see their feelings and emotions. Avatars are family men and women; they look happy when they are with their family. They must be the ones to be loved and respected.

Avatars’ world is weak and unprotected. In this real world, also, there are so many people like avatars who are still weak and alone with no one to take care of. Most of the people simply ignore them and avatars types just keep on track with their lives. It is hard to look around when we are so busy with ourselves. We, those who can stand strong and independent should look after them. We should ask about their problems and try to solve the questions. It’s not just about the small volunteering we do at our schools. It is about getting curious and serious about other people. Ask them several questions and get to know each other. Be friends with them. That way, it will keep all people happy.


Illini's win against No.5 Michigan State

Was it the Illini I knew?
(by 'Jacob' Dong-il Shin)

It was fun! We pretty enjoyed the game. On February 6, 2010, seats in Assembly Hall looked completely filled with screaming, orange-clad fans, making Illinois basketball look different today. I heard the fans were in line before dawn Saturday waiting to get into the ESPN GameDay taping at the Hall. (When was the last appearance of the Illini Men's Basketball Team before the national audience?)

Daniel and I planned to be in the line. Maybe we are allowed to bring in posters for the morning taping at there. But it was still too cold in the early morning. My family just stayed home. No matter where we were then, it was lucky to witnessed the Illini's super-win against a top-five team, No. 5 Michigan State. Illinois's 78-73 upset of the Spartans sent the crowd in the Hall and viewers here in Champaign a frenzy.

Michigan State missed a great guard named Kalin Lucas on the game, and his appearance would have made a difference. Perhaps, but nothing could detract from what the Illini accomplished, because Demetri McCamey, believed to be an undervalued player in college hoops this year, was too much for the Spartans. He scored 22 points and 11 assists! He did what he had to do all the time when he was needed in critical moments. Team play did quite well today enough for the NCAA tournament consideration. Illini is now the third in the Big Ten.

Illini Men's Baketball was not a winning team, when I was a student here. I don't have any wonderful memory of the Illini games back then. Also, I don't play basketball any more, since I am feeling like the court game is too fast and well exposed to big injuries at my age. However, watching today's game was still fun!

Before an ESPN audience in the College GameDay,  Illini looked very confident enough to get back into the conversation for an NCAA bid.

No winning spirit in Illini team!
(by Daniel Hobin Shin)

As people might know, I am from Korea. There are so many reasons I am proud of that. One is the winning spirit of Korea. At 2002 World Cup event, for example, when Korea was in roll of soccer, Korea Team moved up to the semi-final. How could it be possible then? Maybe it was because head coach Hiddink was there then. I think, however, the miracle was only possible because the fans and players were full of a winning spirit. Korean fans cheered so convincingly that it dazzled the opponent teams. It made them feel 'lost'.

When I came here and saw the fans and players of the Illini basketball teams, I was very disappointed. They worked hard. Some enjoyed, of course. However, they looked like they don't have a winning spirit. In the game against Michigan State, I sat and watched a whole game, but they didn't look like a winner. Illini won, but I was not happy in part.

The game was not bad. The Illini played really well against the fifth best college basketball team in the States. Some players were in trouble, and Michigan State players were close to winning. Fortunately to us, they weren’t able to turn the table. The tension was killing. In the end of the game, my heart was beating so fast with worries when the Spartans almost turned over the game. I thought it would burst out of my body. Then when Illini team was safe again there was a large sigh of relief and a immense cheer in me.

I have to say that Illini had poor offense. They were often blocked by the strong Spartans. They also couldn’t get through the defense. I have no idea aobut how Illini managed to defend the Spartans. I think Illini still has so many things to be learned.


New Year's resolution: Golf

(by 'Jacob' Dong-il Shin)

Now that the holiday party season is over, and many of us are vowing never to do anything like that again, here is my idea for a New Year’s resolution: I will play golf.

Golf? I often thought I’d rather read a book or movie. To me, golf’s a waste of good pasture. In Korea, I thought what people are suggesting in golf is not within my budget. However, I may afford the superficial extravagances if I just go out sometimes to enjoy and still focus on what I am pursuing in my life. My friends who enjoy golf are not considerably better off financially.

In the past, I didn’t allow myself to take seemingly time-consuming activities for my free time, like golfing. Since I have been always obsessed with hard-working mentality in my workplaces, I didn’t know how to just take a walk, stop and have a smile, have another coffee, and continue to waste my time uselessly. I just quite often encouraged myself to work all the time. That is the way I managed my life, for the last 10-15 years something.

So my hope for golf is that golf makes me slow down my life, and it gives me a wonderful excuse to be far away from my writing desk. I don’t have to be fast to be a decent player there in a golf field.

Golf is hitting and sinking a small ball, with the fewest strokes, into a sequence of holes on an obstacle-ridden course. The rule of game looks like quite stressful, and the lure of the game? Well, I don’t know yet. I am not sure golf is my type of game, and that I’ll beat the marvelous and crazy game in my rest of life. I played golf for one semester when I was a graduate student at UIUC. At that time, I much more liked basketball or tennis, but as I get older, I stopped playing most of the other sports that I had enjoyed. I think I am ready for the lazy and crazy game at my age.

At this point, I don’t care the handicaps of mine will remain quite unchanged even with much practice. I don’t care about the equipment. I am going to buy used golf clubs.

(source: http://humorvault.tripod.com/golfjoke/golf_12.html)

Two men were playing a round of golf one day. Just as they were about to start one of the holes, a funeral procession went by on the road beside the course. One of the golfers, Clyde, takes off his cap and stands with his cap to his chest, and waits for the entire procession to go by. He then puts his cap back on and proceeds to tee off. "Gee Clyde, that was a very nice gesture on your part. It was very thoughtful and respectful of you to do that," his friend said. "Well," Clyde replied, "I was married to her for 30 years, it was the least that I could do." From this we can deduce that, over the course of a lifetime, golf might outlast a spouse, something in the nature of a faithful Companion


“The man who takes up golf to get his mind off his work soon takes up work to get his mind off golf.” (Is it in the nature of an obsession? An addiction? That would explain a lot.)