Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I've been feeling under the weather since before we left for Busan. 

My throat has been hoarse, a dry cough, loads of snot.

I chalk it up to the yellow dust. 

Nearly every spring I develop some type of ear or throat infection. 

Guess I should start wearing one of those surgical masks when I go out.

I snuck out of work early today.  I would have gotten permission, but that usually involves getting 3-4 signatures.   This can be a problem when the signees aren't parked in their office.

My doctor told me I have sinusitus.  I have to take a nice cocktail of pills for the next few days.  He says it can also partly explain my lethargy and the cough. 

I have to go see him again on Monday which may be a problem.  This will also mess with my weekend, but I'll get around to talking about that tomorrow.


This guy sings like I do when I'm feeling irreverent.

He is awesome.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Tonight when I got home I helped the eldest with maths and the youngest with English writing.

It was kind of boring.  

I helped the eldest sort out a sequential number problem, while the youngest had some issues with getting her 's' right.

We read a few books before they jumped into the bath.  It was a Dr. Seuss party.

June was at work dealing with some paperwork.  She just got in.  She's mad at the computer since she has issues transferring video files through email.  I told her to just set up a Gmail account and be done with it, but she insists on keeping her naver account.  I'll take a look at the thing tomorrow.

Now I'm going to read some more of 'What the Dog Saw'.  I haven't had a chance to pick it up since last week.


Today truly feels like spring: warm, birds singing, frogs mating, a slight dogshit smell in the air.

It's a welcome change from the snow we had last week.

Despite the nice weather, most people seemed in a funk this morning.

Talk around the water cooler focused on radioactive crap coming in from Japan.  Some of the unmarried women were advising each other to not go outside lest they run the risk of having deformed babies.


I thought it prudent to not mention that yellow dust from China often contains high amounts of radioactive particles.  No reason to piss on an already rainy parade.

Back to work.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Angry Mother-in-Law!

Well, not really.

But she did lightly chastise me when I didn't come home for dinner tonight.

She had heard of my rumblings against the soy bean paste soup, rice and kimchi.  I do like the soy bean paste soup, rice and kimchi.  Unfortunately, I'm a product of my environment: eating a variety of different foods from X, Y, Z countries is a cheap, healthy way to spice up a weekly menu. Eating the same thing day in day out for weeks is a terrible way to go through life.

This isn't so easy or cheap to pull off in Korea.  In fact, food prices are pretty high here, even for local stuff.  So a lot of people end up eating the same kinds of things all the time.  How boring is that?

So she had slaved all day to make my favorite, pork spine soup.

I love pork spine soup. I could eat that for a few days in a row and be one happy camper.

But I was a no show.  I had to have a quick dinner with the head honcho to briefly lay out a strategy for the business trip in May.  It seemed to meet with approval, although we'll see how it settles.

I assured her I would have a nice heaping bowl of pork spine soup for breakfast.

Buy My Internet!

Within the last couple of days I've received spam messages from three different companies asking me to switch over to their service.

When we moved, we were able to receive 60 manners in cash by switching over both our home and June's business. 

Now it seems the market is experiencing its own internet wars, with various companies pushing harder to lock in as many subscribers as possible.

Seeing as most apartments are already wired for sound, I imagine the set up costs must be minimal.  But I still question a business model that pays out 30 manners cash to every new subscriber.  The best thing I can come up with is they must get a better deal on bandwidth the more subscribers they get, or the more they use.

Now if only folks could set up the Kinternet so that my firefox would work on every website. 

Early to Rise!

This morning I came into work at a quarter to seven.

What with wasting my morning yesterday, and a rather nasty urgent email received last night just as I was about to leave commanding that I include new specs on a project, I found myself awake at a little after four.

I ditched the guys in the car pool even though it is my day to drive.  Bad coworker.

I joined the car pool about a month ago.  They tend to leave much later than I'm used to.  I find the extra 20-30 minutes in the morning can set the tone for the rest of the day, so I'm going to have to beg off from here in, despite how much I love to save money and enjoy the morning conversations.

I was surprised to see that the rabbit was gone on my way in this morning.  I pictured some farmer picking it up and bringing it home to throw in the pot, but then replaced that image with some wild cat or dog dragging it off somewhere.  Too bad I didn't grab that rabbit when I had a chance.  It would have made a nice stew, and much more manageable than a deer.

Time for coffee.

Monday, March 28, 2011


On my way home tonight I saw a rabbit become roadkill.

I did take a couple of pictures, but I won't post them here seeing as this is a family site and all.

Instead I've included this nice picture of a live, happy rabbit.

Seeing a rabbit isn't that common in Korea.

I thought momentarily of picking it up and throwing it in a pot, but decided to just let it go.


After lunch I spent some time watching tsunami videos until I finally got angry enough at myself to get at it.

I was able to finish up some specs on one project that's been sitting around for over a week and deal with some other paperwork.

Now I'm staring into space thinking about something that happened in a meeting in mid afternoon.

One of my bosses went on about how much work I do.  I was trying to fathom where he was going with it, but it seemed more of a laundry list of all the stuff I need to deal with on a monthly basis. 

Everyone was pretty quite.  I am thankful that he laid out the huge amount I have on my plate every month, but now I'm worried that some of the others will be resentful, since no one goes on about the work they have to do every month.

Knowing office politics as I do, I wouldn't be surprised. 

Anyway, I'm going to finish up for the night and head home.  The youngest called me earlier to ask if tonight was a movie night and got quite upset when I said no.  Hopefully I'll get home in time to wish them goodnight.

Unproductive Monday!

This morning I've been completely unproductive work-wise. 

All I've done is post photos to facebook, upload videos to youtube, chat with folks back home. 

My folks are loving the photos and videos from our trip to Busan.  Also, a good bud of mine and his wife just welcomed their first child into the world, a beautiful baby girl.  He's pretty exuberant right now; I'll save the ribbing for later.  All in all a pretty busy social network morning.

BUT: paperwork beckons, as do a number of phone calls.  I've taken care of all my email stuff, there were only about a dozen this morning.

Time for coffee.

Street Musician!

I wish I had filmed more of this guy, but June and the girls didn't find it interesting.

As an aside, the quality of the camera on the iPhone is pretty solid.

June said she used to see it all the time when she was a kid.  I asked: how about now?  It's dying out, we should watch it.  But hungry stomachs called.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Highway Tolls: 3.4 manners, includes a stop in Andong on the way back and two trips across the bridge.
Fuel: App. 14 manners - KTX would have run us near 25, which is like WTF?
Hotel: 8.5 manners
Lunch Chinatown: 2.2 manners
Swanky Raw Fish Dinner: 21 manners
Swanky Brunch at More Expensive Hotel: 7.8 manners
'Me' World: 1.3 manners
Kite stuff: 0 manners
Misc: 4 manners

Total: app. 62.2 manners

Yow.  We could have cut that down substantially on the food end by at least 20 manners, but the rest is solid.

In return, girls got to:
  • fly kites
  • make kites
  • watch some guys jig for fish
  • go on cool bridge
  • See lots of boats
  • go on huge ferris wheel
  • walk about 15 km
  • see a rabbit run away that someone had let loose on the top of the last mountain
  • watch The Last Samuri and ask to have it turned off
  • listen to daddy bitch about traffic, mommy's poor map reading skills, and apologize since he should have been more involved in the organization of the trip.
  • see a seowon
  • enjoy a picnic
  • and of course, see something outside of the usual
The thing that sucked the most was how I had zero time to invest in even looking at a map before leaving, assuming June would take care of a solid chunk on the planning end.  This go around we should have communicated more, what with her schedule and mine both being insane.  I did own up to not being more involved, but not before I flipped over having to backtrack 20 clicks.  Right now I'm beating myself up for being such a dick by going on about how she could have called the hotel before we got on the bridge.

Usually in country, she takes care of most of the details for this kind of trip, dealing with hotels and deals on meals; when we go off road into the country, I have it.  When we travel outside of Korea, I've got it once we land.

We must have spent a good 3-4 hours just driving from one end of Busan to the other, which sucked.  Didn't help that there was a marathon going on Sunday that made the directions from my iPhone somewhat moot.  Or that the hotel we stayed at gave the wrong directions when we did get lost. 

The spot she got us was pretty good all in all, and a navigation in the car would have solved some of the problems.  

Anyway, note to self: check the temper next go.  Keep it steady.  And make sure you've got it covered on the next run.  Also, while it was cool to see the Busan this run through, make sure the next run is in south east Asia.

Heading Home!

The fam and I ended up wandering around for a couple of hours this morning.  Our goal was to wait for the pancake place to open.

By nine it hadn't, so we packed up the car and headed over to Haeundae to blow a load on brunch at one of the hotels.

Two things about Busan: sometimes the Kyungsan province satori / dialect is really thick and hard to follow.  And drivers simply merge and never stop.  We saw two accidents that occurred for that very reason in our 24 hours there.  If you honk at some idiot because he / she cuts you off by simply merging without stopping, they'll hit the brakes and stare at you like you're from another planet in their rear view mirror.  But I digress.

We ended up settling on the Paradise Hotel.  Two orders of brunch were actually too much for the four of us.  We ended up packing the dessert in a takeaway.  It was a lot of food, but it really wasn't that good for the price.

We spent a bunch of time enjoying the beach then went up into the hills surrounding the city.

There were some spectacular views to be had.  Parts of Busan are very nice, if you've got the money to live there.

We decided to head home at this point as we wanted to stop and have a picnic along the way.

We decided to check out Byeongsan Seowon, not too far from the mask village near Andong.

We talked about how a seowon was the equivalent of a top highschool or somewhat like a university.  

The eldest marveled how nice it would be to study in such a pretty area.

Sorry honey, you couldn't have studied here.

Why not?

Well, for one you're a girl.  Two, daddy is far from having noble blood.

Why couldn't girls study here?

Well, I think it's because girls are just as smart or smarter than boys, so maybe the boys were afraid.  June laughed and said yes, that's right. 

I just smiled and thought it prudent to keep my mouth shut.

We found a nice spot under some trees and had a nice picnic.

Home now.  Tired.  It's a long drive, that.  But a pretty good weekend overall.

I Like the Night Life!

June, bless her soul, actively encouraged me to go out last night.

I had wanted to, since I've never experienced Texas street in Busan.

After eating a delicious 2 hour meal and drinking a couple of bottles of wine, I felt much too bloated to get into a session of drinking.

So I decided to score some brownie points by taking the girls on the huge ferris wheel and letting June go rest back at the hotel.

The girls were insistent. I warned them they'd have to be brave since we'd be pretty high up.

They were great troopers. We then played some games and went back to the hotel.

I must have been asleep by ten. I woke up at 5:30 and had a nice walk along the boardwalk.

This morning we're going for pancakes at a spot I spied yesterday.

Time for coffee.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


The kite festival was pretty cool, although it was a bit out of the way.

We got some free kites, made a couple of kites, and of course flew some kites.

Now we're back at gwang an ri beach eating raw fish and drinking San sa chun wine. Our course had blowfish, whale, red snapper.... All the expensive stuff.

I know June likes this kinda meal, and once or twice a year it's a nice treat.

Now that I've totally lost all my vegan readers. . .I've got some Patagonian Sea Bass to eat and some laughs to be had with the fam.

More later.

Heading Down South!

Today we're heading to Busan to see the Kite Festival.

We're nearly ready to leave.

We'll spend the night, watch some kite fights, eat some raw fish.  June scored a nice condo on the beach for 8 manners by combining three different discount cards.  She is the card queen.

Updates to come!

Friday, March 25, 2011


It's been a serious movie week.

Three movies in one week!  Am I on vacation??

Tonight the girls and I watched the new Narnia movie together.

It was my first go at it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lately I've been trying to encourage the eldest to read more English books.

Her Korean reading is awesome.  English not so much.

Did you know there are SEVEN Narnia books???

If you wanted, you could read the next one right now.  You wouldn't have to wait for the next movie.

I think tonight a good seed was planted.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

This is how they roll in Russia.

Insanely Holy Shit Awesome

So Many Kinds of Wrong:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Love My Car Shop!

The guys at Speedmate wanted to replace the entire gear box and transmission.  This would have cost me close to 100 manners.

I recommend never going to Speedmate.  They are usually one of the most expensive options out there.  Even with the discount I get by using my Samsung card, I still end up paying more.

The spot I go to is trustworthy, fast and does good quality work.  The owner got his start by working on USFK trucks and cars back in the day.  He has always been nice to me, never burned me or done unnecessary work.  He also speaks pretty good English.

Now his son runs the place.  His son runs the same kind of shop: don't rip off the customer seems to be their motto.

They ended up replacing the clutch and housing.  Total cost: 16 manners.  It was finished early this afternoon.

Now that is awesomeness.

Night Out!

Just as I was finishing The Battle of Los Angeles last night, I got a call from two of the Jungs. 

They were out and wanted to know if I could come join them. 

I don't often go out during the week, and I hadn't seen them in a while, so sure, why not.

They were quite drunk by the time I got there, and the mood was dark and somber.  I was kind of surprised and quickly realized they were having a serious Korea bashing night.  They ranted about idiots misbehaving abroad, the awfulness of Korean TV, how boring eating the same food everyday can be, how dirty the streets are . . .I was beginning to get paranoid, thinking they had spent the night combing through my blog and those on my blog roll.  I sat impassively and merely listened.  I've gotten my rant on with them before, so I thought I'd just let them get it all out. 

They kept coming back to how Koreans are their own worst enemies.  We should help one another, but there are too many bastards seemed the chorus.

I was finally able to get it out of them that one of the Jungs had invested a pile into an institute in Canada, and her Korean business 'partner' had disappeared with all the cash.

At this point I joined in and talked about assholes being weaned too early from their mothers, how kids should be punished when they misbehave etc.  She started to cheer up and actually laughed a few good belly shakers. 

Just doing my bit for my friends.

Still, I didn't get home until after midnight, and really didn't want to get up this morning.  Luckily, I was still able to be productive.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Movie Night!

After work I had to take the fam van into the shop.  The clutch had been acting up, and I was told by one place I'd need to have the entire gear box and transmission replaced.  I took it to my favorite car shop instead.  They'll get back to me tomorrow.

So I walked the 40 minutes home.  Once there I was greeted by soy bean paste soup, kimchi, and rice.

I'm getting pretty damn sick of eating soy bean paste soup, kimchi, and rice.

While walking, I just knew that this would be waiting for me.  I almost stopped at a fried chicken place instead, but all I thought was that to replace the gear box combined with our planned trip this weekend, this waeg won't be too flush in the short term.

I like soy bean paste soup, kimchi and rice.  But eating it nearly EVERY GODDAMN NIGHT for weeks is a bit much.  I must smell like a freaking soy bean at this point.  The other night I just said no thanks and made a grilled cheese sandwich instead.  I understand why so many adjosshis just don't bother going home until late every night, especially if you know that it's going to always be soy bean paste soup, kimchi, and rice on the menu.

So I decided that tonight I was going to watch some movies and have a few beers.  I've been pretty good of late, I think I'm allowed.  Especially since I ate the soy bean paste soup, kimchi, and rice.

I'm going to watch a fairly decent cam version of the Battle of Los Angeles, and if I'm up for it I'll watch the B rip off version that downloaded in like 3 minutes.  Nice.


Found it!

Last week I asked if anyone had seen my table tennis racket.

Good News!

I found it.  It was wedged under the passenger side seat in the fam van.

Not a moment too soon.  Today there was a much anticipated match between myself and one of the new waegs.  Everyone was looking forward to watching two shake-hands racket users go at it.

As it turned out it was close, but he took it.  We'll see how it goes next time.

Business Dinner!

Tonight I went out and had dinner with two of my five bosses.

I ended up drinking more than I had planned but less than I expected.

We went to some little bar that was chock full of adjosshis.

The secret to surviving such an encounter is to know the rules:

  • Always hold your glass slightly lower when clinking glasses with someone higher up the totem pole.
  • Never drink first, and drink shortly after they do.
  • Never finish a drink until they do or you are prompted. 
  • Listen carefully, distract when things get morose, shut up when they want to reminisce.
  • If they go fishing for shit on people, remain neutral, and never share personal shit about the person being fished if you know THEY know already.  They'll say they heard it from you.  Big Mess.
  • Be vacant, but when called upon shine sufficiently.
  • Smile

One of my bosses has a pile of personal shit going on right now that would be hard for any person to work through.  He's a tough old bastard that will make it through, but damn it is a tall order.  I ended up picking up some more stuff that will help him out in the short term.

Some people may bemoan being in such a situation, but I learned a lot from the whole encounter: the inner sanctum has drawn round the wagons with an unusual exception, they know more about that guy in advertising than I would have expected, as well as that other guy in PR.  No idea what that all means now, but I did get to eat some tofu kimchi and tell the story about my dad teaching me the value of work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Embrace Mediocrity!

This is what happens when you're awesome
I avoided working in the corporate world for near ten years.  When you work a corporate job, you get to see a lot of typical inane human behavior, incompetence, general idiocy, how a lack of self confidence can turn a person into a complete douche bag, how some will work diligently at dragging others down instead of working on their own self improvement. . . amplified.

While I do love many of the aspects of my current job and would ultimately prefer to stick with it, today I was reminded once again that it certainly can be a dog eat dog world.

I'm not going to go into all the sordid details as I'm sure you'd find them boring.  I find them boring.  And sad.

While ruminating on how I was going to deal with the current steaming pile of horseshit coming my way, I thought of something that Jake over at The Prestige recently wrote.

I definitely agree to a certain extent with what he says.  However. . .

For a person who wants to make their way in the world yet avoid the bullshit of an office job, teaching English abroad can be a nice means of escape.

I'm not saying that working in a school will see you avoid all the bullshit surrounding any office job; the joy of working an English teaching gig is that it is much easier to just brush it all off and forget about it.  You are in a lot of ways exempt from a lot of the shit the typical employee has to deal.

I don't necessarily see the job as a dead end type of thing any more than any other job: the more you do many kinds of work, the more difficult it becomes to shift gears and do something else.  That is in a lot of ways a bullshit argument.

Really it depends on what you decide to do with your time and experience, and of course your attitude.   I personally had a great time as a teacher running my own gig, and I was able to parlay the experience into developing other professional skills that landed me my current job.

While there are a lot of idiots and washouts in the English teaching gig in Korea, I'm not entirely convinced that the ratio is as exponentially high compared to most other professions as we are led to believe by the Korean media.  It's simply that those burnouts stand out more being waegs and all.

So I'm torn: my current gig gives me more opportunities for professional development, a similar amount of job satisfaction, and more social pull in a lot of situations; but my former gig certainly generated a lot less daily hassle.  And that I do miss on days like today.

I guess it all depends on what you want out of life now, don't it.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Tonight the girls and I put together a couple of Korean fighting kites.

Apparently, some kids at the eldest's school have been flying them, and we just happened to have a couple of kits left over from the paper festival last year.

They are fairly easy to put together.  What isn't so easy is finding a good place to fly them.  The fact that I didn't want to run out immediately and fly them NOW caused much consternation.

I promised this weekend we'd go out and fly them if it was windy enough and the yellow dust wasn't so bad.

I'll have to dig out the huge nylon things I bought at Costco a few years back.  We have a turtle and a dragon somewhere.

Apparently the yearly Busan kite festival is worth checking out.  Maybe we'll check it out this year.

Bad Worker!

This morning I tooled around on the network looking for the various forms I constantly need to fill out to do anything.

While poking around, I found a rather large stash of movies in one of the general office's subfolders.

I was feeling rather discombobulated by the large amount of requests that needed to be taken care of as soon as I walked into work.

I took care of all that, and then watched a rather ridiculous movie called Stonehenge Apocalypse.

It was just what I needed: silly mindless tripe.

Now time to get on with it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I had set my tent slightly back from the front of the first camp ground and waited.  Dinner came and went, a pack of instant noodles cooked on a portable gas stove.  The gates didn't open until the next day, and outside an impromptu party was going on.  I was sorely tempted to walk the couple of miles and join in; coming in I was sure I had seen my buddy near the front of the gate.  The impossibility of working that out was obvious, so I sat, smoked, smoked some more, and stared at the stars. 

I knew the moment the gate had opened the next morning when the honking of horns and the rumbling of tires sprinting towards me filled the air.  As the first car approached, I almost keeled over laughing when I realized it was my buddy.  Instead, I stood nonchalantly, smiled and waved.  He pulled up a few hundred meters away: dude you don't want to pitch your tent there.  If it rains you'll find yourself in a lake.

Shock.  Disbelief.  WTFs.  The look on his face was priceless.  They had left three days prior to be one of the first at the gate, only to be greeted by a guy who seemed somewhat non committal on the phone a few days before.

You got my ticket bro? 

The weekend was truly a blast.  Halfway through the first day I met up with some other friends, one of them K whom to this day I still consider one of my best friends.  She and I hung out, got lost, found, lost together.  I traveled around with different packs, sometimes solo.  I played and sang.  I drank, smoked, barely ate a thing.  Watched how tens of thousands of people lived.

I soon found I didn't need to use cash; I had another, far more valuable currency that I could trade for anything.  By the end of the weekend I had spent all of $12 on a tshirt and a bottle of water.

All good things they say.  That weekend still seems a blur    The last morning, K found me sitting on my blanket, my tent and gear all packed.  She looked at me curiously.  Then: I've known you for years bud.  Something's off.  What gives? 

It didn't seem right to go on about everything that had happened to bring me to where I was at that point, what after the weekend we'd just had.  It was time to live, not to conjure up and become mired in the past.  But once called, I almost broke.  I couldn't quite get it out, the facade was cracked, there would be no detachment in the next telling of that story.  So I did what I do best:

I smiled, waved and said I'd meet up with her in a few days and fill her in on all the details. 

Heading East.

Lazy Sunday

This morning we ran around a bit, picking up some books and a few more groceries.  I went for a nice walk while June and the girls went to church.

This afternoon has been a complete laze fest.

June watched TV for a couple of hours, while the girls did some interactive English thing on the computer.  I read a nice chunk of What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell.  So far it's engaging.

I've come down with a sore throat .  Interesting that yesterday was a bad yellow dust day.  Luckily it rained and snowed this morning, should take care of the dust for a bit.

More later.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Job Offers!

Last night during my conversation with old friends I was offered a couple of gigs.

They needed someone to come into their work place three to four hours a day to run a couple of English classes and do some copy editing.  The salary was actually better than reasonable.

One of the women also said she wanted to find a teacher for a group of four kids, and would I be able to come to her place at night a couple of times a week?  She said she could also find several other groups if I needed them.

Back in the day when I ran my own business I would have jumped on it.   While tempted to take the night classes, the fact is I have zero time.  I thought about farming the gigs out, but the day time one would need an F-Visa to do it.  I could find a teacher for the evening one, but I'd rather not deal with the hassle of working out schedules, calls etc for what will amount to maybe 20 manners a month in my pocket. 

The last few months I've received quite a few calls asking me if I could teach.  I've turned them all down.  When I leave work, I'd rather go home and hang out with my own kids then be off somewhere tutoring.  Mind, it is better to not keep all your eggs in one basket.

Tempting, tempting.

Time to go shopping.

Daddy Wake Up!

This morning I was woken early by two hungry girls.

They want me to make them French toast. When I got home last night, we talked about what it was like when I was a kid. I told them how my dad would often cook when he was home.

Yeah papa is a good cook said the eldest.

What was your favorite food asked the youngest.

Well, you know some of the stuff that papa makes; I really like his soups, his chicken dishes, fried rice, pancakes, french toast. . .

French toast? French toast??! They broke into squeals of laughter. How can toast be French. It was one of the funniest things they had ever heard.

I'll show you. And so two munchkins crawled into bed with me early this morning whispering daddy are you awake? Daddy are you getting up soon?

I'll finish my coffee and get on that.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Out and About!

Tonight I'm going out with a few folks I haven't seen in quite a while.

I used to teach them in an adult class back in the day.  I ended up teaching some of their kids as well.

We've been trying to find time to get together for a couple of weeks.  The stars finally aligned tonight.

They aren't heavy drinkers, so I shouldn't have too much trouble staying away from the beer.

We're meeting up at a spicy chicken with rice cake restaurant.  Yum.  I haven't had that in a while.

It'll be nice to catch up.

More later.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

What are you doing to your kids edition

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Bonus: What happens when you don't raise your kids proper.  Supposedly fake and made by media whores, but there are enough of these kind of videos out there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pussy Willows!

Spring is around the corner!

Behind the smoking corner the pussy willows are out.  I'm expecting to see flowers soon.

The wood is usually used to make woven baskets.

I cut a bunch to bring home to the fam.

I spent a bit of time after lunch clearing away an area I'm going to use for the pumpkins when I saw them.  Nice.

Where the Hell is my Table Tennis Racket??!

I seem to have misplaced it. 

If anyone has seen it, let me know.

It probably got stuck in a box during the move.  I took it home at one point to play on a weekend a while back.  I meet up occasionally with my EnT doctor to play.

I had to endure some ribbing the other day when I showed up to play without a paddle.  I must be afraid of losing was the general consensus.  Admittedly I haven't been playing that well of late, and haven't picked the racket up in a couple of weeks.  But I will not let that stand.

Guess I know what I'll be doing when I get home tonight: rifling through all the as yet unopened boxes.

Spring Garden!

The last couple of days have been pretty nice weather wise.

A little cold this morning, but nothing too serious.

Time to start planning the garden!

I have a little plot not far from the smoking corner out back that I like to work every year.

This year I'm going to go with more sunflowers.  They were a big hit the last two seasons.  I've also got some corn seeds sent from home.  I'll plant some tomatoes and try to grow my own pumpkin for halloweenHalloween is one of my favorite excuses to have fun. 

I've never had much luck growing pumpkins.  We'll see what comes of my efforts this year.

Time for coffee.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Goth Girl!

This morning I was very disappointed to see that the goth girl who worked at the 7-11 near my place has quit her job.

Subcultures are rare in Korea.  It was interesting to see this decked out girl in the Wonj of all places.  Admittedly she isn't a full on goth as you'd see back home, but she does have spiked hair, thick black eye makeup, multiple piercings, and a homemade tattoo of the female symbol on her right hand.

I had started to chat her up and get to know her a bit, but now she's gone.  Instead I am greeted by a sleepy eyed old ajosshi.  He's nice enough, but not nearly as interesting as goth girl.

I suppose I can understand: who wants to work the night shift for 3 chonners an hour?  Not this waeg.

Time for coffee.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wage Slave!

Today I had a bit of a spaz out.

My excuse is that work has been ridiculously hectic of late.  I'm way off my 18-24 posts a week I did when I first started and haven't had as much time to spend with the girls.

I come home usually pretty cooked and almost everyday is full on all day.

That'll teach me for being competent and getting picked to handle more of the bigger projects!

Anyway, one of my waeg coworkers is consistently late for everything.  I've tried the gentle approach a couple of times with him: joking, teasing, mentioning how being consistently on time is a personal psychological dysfunction on my part because of my years as an hourly wage slave. . . no dice.

Today I was an asshole.  Without thinking, I barked that he needs to mind the time.

It wasn't delivered in the most delicate of manners.

I immediately felt pretty shitty about it.  I wouldn't be surprised if he stays pissed at me for quite some time.

But, fuck.  Sitting around waiting does drive me batshit.  Once or twice, whatever.  When it's a regular thing, I pretty much see it as a character flaw.

Guess I am still a wage slave after all.

Get Off Your Ass!

Since the big move, I've been going through all my old clothes.  I've found some nice gems I had forgotten and some real stinkers I'm amazed I ever wore.

I had looked over all my suits to figure if I needed a new one for the upcoming business trip.  Luckily there is still a nice Henry Cotton 2 piece, a smart Beanpole blazer, and a cool Brooks Brothers blazer / slacks combo still in decent shape.  

There all a few years old, but I'm too poor to buy anything that snazzy now.  I will need to buy some more regular office clothes soon however.

I tried them all to see how awesome I looked.  I quickly realized that since I bought them I've put on a little round the middle.

This is why tonight I found myself sweating it out at the gym.  I did some cycling, almost died while jogging, and tooled around with the weight machine.  I'm mostly about getting the cardio up and burning off some of that extra.

June said why not just go biking round town and not spend money on a membership.  Seeing as I was nearly run over by taxis twice in a week doing that a few years back, guess I'm a little cold to the idea now.

I'm feeling the burn right now.  Floppy.

I've also decided to lay off the beer for awhile to keep the calories down.  That's probably where the extra came from in the first place.  I figure if I can get in there for 90 minutes three times a week combined with a daily lunch walk, I should be cutting a very nice figure in a couple of months.

But. . .no beer.  Damn.  DAMN.  But I will look awesome wearing that finery.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kimchi Tuna Stew!

Tonight I scooted down to a tiny hole in the wall restaurant about 15 minutes from work. 

The old grandmother there knows me well.  She knows what to make as soon as I walk in:

Kimchi tuna stew.

I guess I've been here a while; sometimes I just get an irresistible urge to have it. 

For 5 chonners I get a huge steaming bowl of it along with enough side dishes to be a meal in themselves.  I wonder sometimes how she can make any money.

Anyway, back in the office now, pulling my usual late Monday night.  Tonight I'll stay until about nine thirty before heading out.

Today I've been highly productive.  I can finally see some light at the end of that tunnel.

Hope and Good Wishes

For those of you in Japan, here's hoping that you and those close to you are safe and sound.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Today I took all the bikes to the shop.  They needed some air in the tires.  Then I gave them all a good dose of  WD40, tightened up the brakes, and watched the girls go crazy for a while.

Tonight for supper I made hot turkey sandwiches and french fries.

Just say yes to cholesterol!

My folks sent along several gravy packets in their Christmas parcel.  I still had a good 2 pounds of turkey left over from Christmas in the freezer.  Sliced up some potatoes and voila!

Everyone enjoyed it.

Now the girls are watching the 3rd Narnia movie while I plug away on my stoopid blog.  I'm going to crawl into bed and read while the kids watch the movie.


Last night ended fairly early, but it was still messy.  We started around 3, but finished up by 10.

We hit the Pasha Turkish restaurant in Gangnam.  That place is fantastic.  We ended up settling at some Irish place near the main subway station.

I got pretty hosed and woke around 4 with a nasty headache.  A buddy recommended some Tiger Balm which cleared it right up.  That stuff is fantastic.

This morning I hit What the Book and bought a nice pile of books.  I picked up something for everybody, kids books for the girls and some chick lit for June.  Then I hopped a train and came back to the Wonj.

Seems I just missed the kids: they're off on some train ride with a friend.

I'm going to take a nice hot bath and read some more of Myers' The Cleanest Race.  I started it on the train and am hooked.

On the way back the train passed this awesome frozen waterfall.

Time for that bath.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Phone Home!

This morning I called my folks to thank them for the gifts they sent.

I'd been putting it off the last few days, mainly because I get home exhausted and just sleep.  The girls would often be in bed too, and they definitely need to say hi.

The girls began with saying their hellos and thank yous.  June was watching some drama on TV.  I turned down the volume so the girls wouldn't be distracted.  I held the phone out to June; she turned the TV off and stormed into the bedroom to pout.  Apparently I'm a bad person for interrupting her show.  She didn't talk to my parents, saying I didn't give her a chance. 

Now she's mad that I'm going to Seoul and wants me to take the girls. 

Where is the moon right now?

Time for coffee.

Friday, March 11, 2011


This weekend I have permission to head up to Seoul.  Going to hit the 'twon with a couple of buddies.  It's one dude's birthday celebration.

I'm really looking forward to forgetting about work for a short time.  It's been a madhouse of late, what with all the paperwork, approval processes, and what not that I've had to deal with.

Last night I got home around 9.  I went to bed pretty much as soon as I walked in the door.  Slept like a log until 6 this morning.

I've been turning over what June said about wanting to go back to school for another degree.  It would definitely help her and her business.  It always helps to know that if I die she can make her own way.  But I have zero time to help any more than I do, with either the kids or the business.   And she wouldn't be able to work mornings.  I'm sure she'll hold it against me if I refuse to support her on this, and I want her to do it, but damn, too much too soon.  You've got a pretty full plate as it is.

My Mother-in-Law helps a lot, but she hasn't been doing so well of late.  She's old.  She never complains, but I can tell she's having a hard go, what with all the help she gives around the house.  It isn't that much, but I bought her a new full size heating blanket on G-Market yesterday. 

I'm going out for a walk.  Some fresh air will do me some good.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

sNSFW - language, etc

So many kinds of wrong.

That last one is great.


Thursday, March 10, 2011


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Date Night!

Tonight June asked me out on a date.

I was excited, despite all the idiocy that surfaced last weekend.

We went to a rice wine house and ate some squid pancake while drinking a bowl of rice wine.

We started off really lame, talking at one another about inane work shit.  June now wants to go back to school.  I was an ass: you know I've got your back, but you've got to see the business plan flourish and return on the investment before you let start the next chapter.

As the dong dong ju started to flow, we actually began to communicate and have some fun.

But then it was time to go home.

Typical married dross: how to keep the spark alive when adult parent bullshit keeps getting in the way.

We got home to find that the girls had been watching TV with their halmoni.  The eldest hadn't done her homework and the youngest was spooning honey straight from the jar.  They quickly sorted themselves out once we walked in the door.

The youngest insisted I give her a rundown on Star Wars.  She had found a book written by C3PO that had come in the last batch of Longman books I bought.  I get em by the box every year or two from a distributor up country.

After talking about the force and living as an example of good, and how sometimes even the evil can bring about good since that is the essence of balance, I considered what to do with the stickers in the book.  There is an awesome one of R2D2.  I'm thinking of sticking it on the bumper of the famvan.

Letter From an Avid Reader!

This morning I found the following email waiting for me.  They were referring to my post the  grass is always greener:

"Why is it always you former English teachers who are usually the ones giving "the look"?  You think you are so much better than everyone else now that you've gotten out of that gig, but really you are the sad ones judging other people by the work that they do.  My mother taught me batter than that, too bad youre's didn't."

Sorry you feel that I was judging people in that post; I do find that type of behavior reprehensible myself.  However, what I actually said is that people will judge you based on the job you do, not that I do so myself.  It would be rather hypocritical of me to look down on people doing work that I myself did for years don't you think?  If you read again, you'll see that I was essentially talking about no longer having to deal with such small minded snobs.

xxxxxxxxx, you should know this is a fact of life that you cannot escape: there are superficial ninnies out there who only look at your bank balance, the neighborhood you live in, your choice of spouse, the car you drive and the work you do as the sum total of everything you are.  I know I know, this really sucks!  Everyone is a precious snowflake who should be respected and loved for their uniqueness and individual worth, dammit!

xxxxxxxxx, take comfort in knowing that you are better than those who judge others by the job they do, because you yourself are above judging others based on such superficial qualities, such as misunderstood ramblings you read on a blog.

I hope this clears things up for you.  I wouldn't want there to be any bad feelings between you and I.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cargo from the Other Side!

I need me one of these
Tonight I got home a little after seven.  I had to go pick up the youngest at her kindergarten.

The girls and I hung out and played with some bracelet and necklace making stuff.  Their nanny sent it from across the pond.  We added the new stuff to the batch I bought last time I went home.  That was almost two years ago now.

I was really hoping to get back this summer, but seeing how money is right now, even Christmas might be asking too much.

When people ask why I stay in Korea with my girls, I tell them the truth: I want them to know everything that they are, and learning their mother tongue is important.  Once we move back, the chances for practicing it will diminish greatly, so hopefully they'll be able to hold on to it if we lay a solid foundation.

I like to read a lot of websites where 'half Koreans', 'half Japanese' etc like to hang out, even though I hate that monikor.  You aren't half anything, you're double the fun!

But what I read there is almost always: I've forgotten most of my Korean whatever.  That must suck.

So we stay.  For now.  But the fact that they haven't seen my family in near two years is also an issue.  It gets expensive going back and forth, although they did stay there last go for a good five months at a fraction of what it would have cost for a non-resident.

Those were lonely dark months, stories of which I'll share sometime.

These thoughts all went through my head as I made a super necklace.  It's pretty rad.  I gave it to June who looked bemused yet secretly pleased.

Time for some Max.


After days of nitpicking, emails back and forth, general idiocy, and lost sleep, I finally received approval on the massive project I've been working on these last two weeks.

Kicking ass and taking names.

Now that the original plan has been accepted, time to get the execution under way.  Everything needs to be finished ASAP as we're behind schedule by near a week at this point.

I'm not going to think of all the other crap I have to finish except for the business trip coming up in May.  Part of the reason why this huge project has been such a pain is that it is related to that trip.  I still have to iron out a few details on the trip itself, mostly to do with itinerary and presentations. 

All in good time.

Time for coffee.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Grass is Always Greener!

Yeah you're right, the grass is greener over there
Today was a highly productive day.  Too bad a pile of other stuff got dumped on me in the mid afternoon.

I dig the fact that I'm head of the department.  When people ask me what I do and I mention this, the reaction is far more positive than when I used to say English teacher. 

Most of the waegs I work with will pretty much say the same thing.  Every single one of them did the ESL circuit back in the day.  When you say you're an English teacher, people make a bunch of assumptions about you that are of course wide of the mark.  They look at you much differently than if you say yes I'm in conceptual design.  They'll speak to you in a way that can be 'friendlier', but which can also mean 'I don't need to make such an effort to show respect to you because you are Johnny / Jane Fun Time'.

But going back to an ESL gig seems very attractive at times.  A much lighter workload, far less stress, more free time to do what you want.  It is very attractive, and if you play it right it can be lucrative.  Sometimes I miss it since it can also be a lot of fun.

But I know I'd miss the work I'm doing now.  I'd probably think once or twice a week for the first few months that I was an idiot to leave my current job.  It would be most poignant whenever I said that I teach English and got the look.

You. Yes you.  English teacher who has been here for more than a year: you know what I'm talking about.  You know the look.  Don't say you don't.  That's why you drink so much and sometimes get depressed for no reason.

So right now I'm not going to think about it too much.  I'm going to make a fresh coffee and hunker in.  I figure I'll work it until about eight than call it a day.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What Goes Around

Before getting married, I had a good friend, let's call her Young Ok.

She's married to a contactor.  The three of us became pretty good friends.

She helped me sort things out when I first got here, and hooked me up with some decent folks.

She knows all the details as to my marriage.  When I first introduced my wife to her, she gave her the nth degree:

Yeah so many girls want to marry a waeg.  It's a ticket to freedom.  Usually only poor girls from low families marry waegs.  Tell me what your father does.

This caused more than a tsunami of shit between June and I.  On the one hand, Young Ok was my friend who had gone the distance, while I needed June to know that I had parted from my wayward ways and was 1000%. 

June would lose it occasionally and bring her into a spat.  It was fair ammunition.  I thought it wasn't a huge issue as we didn't meet that frequently, and when we did I tried to find ways to bring them together.  It eventually became apparent that there was no common ground to be found: Young Ok would be distant with June, and in private start with why you doing this to yourself?  You can be free, there is no reason for you to choose this life.

After near a year of getting married, I laid it out to her: you are my friend, and I respect and appreciate everything you've done, but I've made my bed.  I'm locked in.  Nothing is going to change round these parts if I just live up to what everybody thinks I am and take your advice.

Things deteriorated between us, and within a month of that we no longer met.  I'd run into her husband from time to time, but Young Ok and I just didn't.  Soon after I no longer had contact with any of the people we know in common.

Today June and I had a fight.  It was over the idiot at the kindergarten who took to insulting me in front of the eldest when we were gardening.  I've stopped hanging out as much at the kindergarten.

How come you haven't been paying the fees for the father's association?

I haven't been going as much.  They only collect when we go out and get drunk.  I'm sure they use some of that money to hit a room salon anyway.

I got a message from one of the dads.  You still have to pay even if you don't go.  You should go more.

I have no time.  Besides, you know how I feel about the asshole in charge.  And Mr. Kim acts weird sometimes, starts hanging off me and asking strange questions.  Don't even get me started on Mr. Koo.

It's not that.  It can't be like that.  He wouldn't be like that, he's just joking around.

Erm, I know joking.  This isn't it.  Besides, he went too far saying what he did in front of the eldest.  He's an asshole.  I think I can tell when someone is taking the piss and when they're being a shit.  Why you standing up for him?

We were leaving a restaurant at this point, and as is usual when this conversation comes up, it ended the same way with June shouting at me, this time in the middle of the street.

I can see her point, what with still over a year to go at the kindergarten and June making money off that guy's family.  It wouldn't do to say something in front of the kids that might get back. 

But while Young Ok was out of line, and was parroting common stereotypes about the kind of Korean girl that marries a waeg, in her mind she was looking out for a friend that was doing something stupid.

I'm pretty sure what informs that guy's perspective isn't even close to the same category.