My Korean Clothes Washer or The Genetic Algorithm
Trip Start Oct 24, 2009
30Trip End Ongoing
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This morning I attempted to puzzle out how my 손 빨 래 brand clothes washer works. An online dictionary translates the Korean script (i.e. Hangeul) as "wash hands"; and the only English words on the machine say “genetic algorithm”, but it looks just like a washing machine, so I have to assume that is what it is. Some of the hoses were connected and some were disconnected, so figuring out which went where was step one.
I located a hole in the floor that appeared to be a drain. Good. Next I picked up a hose that dripped water, probably from the previous tenant’s last wash. But wait, that hose came out of the wall. Where was the washer’s water supply? Ah, these two spigots here, both connected to the machine. So what was this other leaky hose for? I’ll figure that out in a minute, I thought. A thicker hose next to the leaky one curved around to the back of the washer. I inched around the side to make sure it went where I thought it did. Ah, this must be the drain hose for the washer. I pushed it into the hole in the floor, which really, surely, had to be a drain. That other hose that was still dripping water onto the floor was still bothering me. I began to think about the potential for a flood.
Satisfied enough with the connections to start the experiment, I began examining the buttons. I have taught myself to sound out Hangeul; it really isn’t so difficult. Knowing what those sounds mean is another story altogether. I pressed one large, shiny, silver button, and all the lights lit up. Except for the hot and cold water option, I could not make heads or tails of any other button. Surely someone else has had this same issue, I thought, and has already blogged about it. I went to search (I “borrow” my Internet from a nearby unsecured connection).
I was right. I found no fewer than five blog entries on this topic. Each author had taken a photo of his washer and translated the Korean to English. Great! Okay, I got this now. I meticulously copied the Korean words onto a piece of paper and walked back to the washer to compare. Inclining myself over the panel of buttons, I squinted to bring the tiny symbols into better focus. “Okay, let’s see… okay, nope…nope…nope. Right, next word. Nope…nope…nope.” This went on for between five and ten minutes with no success. How was it possible that none of the words on my machine matched any of the words on the pictures? I closed my eyes tightly and exhaled, fighting an incipient twinge of frustration.
Alright, let’s do this in reverse. I flipped the paper over and began to copy the Korean on my washer to look up on an online translator. I had my doubts. I had clicked the translate button on Facebook many times to read Korean, and the results were always something like, “Exercise is an annoyance to get out of the ... Full slim ear car Zionism ...People are slowly ...Getting married in the fall in preparation for the busy neng envy.” This is an actual translation. Short of bothering my French-Canadian neighbor again, this was my last recourse.
I typed in my first attempt…no dice. 남 은 시 건was translated as “south of the city.” Let’s try again…no dice. 뚜 껑 열 림equaled, “still truly open.” My final try before giving up read “In water fall.” Ugh. So then I just started pressing buttons. I push them in every possible sequence I could for about five minutes to no avail. No water, no nothing. Guess I won’t be washing any clothes today.