Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011


I was completely floored when the adjusshi from the car shop showed up shortly after I got the fire going to drop off the famvan.

He had not only found a radiator and done the job in a few hours, but it was all accomplished on a Sunday.

Sweet Jesus!

Now that is service!

I'll take that aspect of Korea over its equivalent back home anyday.

Camping 1.6!

After some initial 'discussion' with June over the order of priority on the campsite (food -vs- setting up the gear in case of rain), we finally got everything settled and were able to take a swim.

That was pretty nice. I felt pretty good after that.

After dinner the girls all went down to the beach and collected a bunch of shells while I got the fire organized.

Everybody is pretty zonked except for yours truly. I sank a bacchus and some cola and am good for a while.

Time for some Max.

Car Trouble!

We had just made it past Gangneung when the engine started smoking something fierce.

I quickly pulled over to see engine oil dribbling out of the front.
Turned out the pvc on the radiator is cracked. The nice guy at fhe car repair shop will have it up and running tomorrow. He will even bring the famvan around to our temporary camp spot.

Total cost: 23 manners.

At least it wasn't the engine.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


The news the last few days has been filled with pictures of the great floods and landslides that came during the insane rain last week.

One of my adjumma friends longs to live in Gangnam as it's the 'swankiest' place to live in Korea.  Sadly, she can't afford it.

When she saw the pictures of Gangnam flooded, she was all 'serves them right'.

It reminded me of the Korean expression "when my cousin buys land I get a stomach ache".  Hey, nothing too wrong with a little schadenfreude.

June complained how the flooding never would have happened in Japan. She insisted that when it rains there, they don't have these kinds of problems.

No, but they do have nuclear power plant meltdowns.

Concerns over floods and landslides have led me to change our plans for camping. We'll start at the beach next week.

Friday, July 29, 2011

So many kinds of wrong


When things don't go quite as planned edition

So many kinds of wrong

I remember feeling like that teacher in the past.



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Watership Down!

A week ago I started to show the girls Watership Down on Youtube.  June put an end to it after about 30 minutes, but I promised them I would track down a copy and they could watch the whole thing.

I found one on Demonoid.  It took a few days to come in, but this gave me a great excuse to not let them watch any movies or TV for that time.

I earned much consternation from June when I let them watch it.

I watched it when I was a kid, what's the big deal?

But they are girls!  They shouldn't watch that.

Erm, the author originally wrote it from the stories he told his girls.  It's considered more of a story for girls.

The girls were justly freaked out, but talked excitedly about the bravery and cleverness of the main rabbits despite it being sad and scary.

The youngest asked me if next time they could watch number two.

Sorry honey, this one was a one shot deal.  But there are some more books to read if you're really interested.

I think I know what to ask my folks to send in the next parcel from home.

Into the Wild!

The cat has been brought back to the kindergarten.

I suppose it was given the opportunity to survive past four weeks and to grow fairly strong on the diet of organic vitamin enhanced cat food we fed her.

June had had enough. Being young and full of vim, the cat enjoyed jumping on people and playing.  Every time the cat choose June as her target, June would shriek and go on about how much she hated it.  So it came to pass that when I went camping last, June snuck the cat out.

I was wondering why she kept encouraging me to stay an extra night. I realized as soon as I walked into the apartment that Nabi was gone. She usually sat on the chair next to the door waiting for whomever walked in.

Really it is for the best as an apartment is far from ideal for a cat. Still, I'm going to miss that stoopid idiot. If anything, she served as a fine example as to the issues with inbreeding.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A few days ago June ordered a new bench for our awesome kitchen table.

I love that table. It's a solid piece of wood. Worst case scenario I could use it for fuel in winter.

Now I equally love my new bench. Another solid piece of wood.

Too bad I couldn't make that bad boy myself, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

you tubin'



Tuesday, July 26, 2011


This morning I reproached myself for not going out camping.  It was a nice day and I'm itching to get the hell out of my little box.  But I promised the girls I'd take them to Everland sometime this week, so I figured I'd at least get prepped for the camping extravaganza by hitting up the Costco for supplies.

The eldest and I enjoyed some quality time together as consumers.  After spending 55 manners at the PX in the sky, we headed out to load up the fam van with our booty.

The nice day had become pissing torrents of rain.  I couldn't even drive faster than 100, which while a drag was still pushing it.  As I drove and hoped I wouldn't hydroplane, I remembered the heaviest rain I've ever experienced in Korea.

This was well before getting married.  The news was full of flood videos, mountain sides coming down, bridges and buildings collapsing.  You couldn't walk the streets without finding yourself in half a foot of water.  The night that was the worst was also the night the Kimchi Princess came to visit.

Now before you deride and denounce for the name, listen: she actually called herself that, despite the delicious irony.  Her family owned a couple of domestic kimchi manufacturing plants and one in China;  they were loaded, and she would often go on about being a pure Kimchi Princess.  I'm not one to dictate how peeps should self identify, so the Kimchi Princess she is until she tells me different. 

We'd been playfully flirting for quite some time, hanging out with mutual friends, hitting the clubs and whatnot.  I never took it seriously, thinking it friendly banter, something many should take as a lesson, but I digress.  She was a bit better than average looking, with rather large assets.

At 21, she drove an SM3, wore the latest fashion, spent far too much at beauty salons.  Basically the kind of girl who saw the world mostly in terms of things and stuff, far from the kind I showed serious interest in.

For some reason, she took to me like a fly to shit, and became more and more insistent on meeting alone.  I begged off having too many on the go to realistic keep track of at that point, but when she demanded to see me to go out drinking once again on the rainiest night ever, I carelessly said I was free if she came down to the Wonj.

Five and a half hours later she showed up knocking on my studio door.  She carried a cake and roses, a devil may care look in her eye.  Let's go drink she said.

Not one to let myself be shown short, I took her keys and drove her to a bar.  I told her she was crazy to drive to the Wonj in that, which drew nothing more than a smile from her.  She proceeded to order a bottle of Jack, hitting it hard and fast.  Within a couple of hours we had polished that off and some beers for good measure when she leaned over and began to devour me.  Let's go.  She paid the bill and drunkenly sauntered towards the door.

This was one of the times I decided I really like assertive women.  Putting aside any misgivings, it seemed like a really great idea to pile back into her car and drive to my place.

Deep in my simian little mind I knew that crashing the car would be a very bad thing.  Avoiding the roads that I knew usually had checkpoints was hard enough; trying to drive steady while she insisted on making out and rubbing me rather vigorously was another.  At one point we came within centimeters of smashing head on into another car, at which point I aggressively pushed her back and told her to wait.  Within ten minutes we were back at my place.

As she stumbled from the door to my bed removing clothing, it became more than apparent just how wasted she was.  This became painfully obvious when she couldn't take her bra off and knocked her head on the wall a couple of times in the process.  Hey, just lay down a minute, there's no rush.

Within five minutes she was out cold.

I slipped her half removed bra back on and covered her with a thin sheet, then went to the kitchen to grab a beer.  I was kinda pissed, as at this point I'd worked myself well into a frenzy.  But there was no way I was going there.

I watched some porn and played online poker.  When I finally began to be ready for sleep, I realized the rain had stopped.  I had no dreams.

The next morning she was gone.  We never spoke again.

Hope and Good Wishes

Condolences to all in Norway in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Vacation Daze!

Yesterday was the first day of my vacation. I have a little over three weeks.

I'm itching to get out of this box of an apartment and go camping. Sadly, June can't have as much vacation. We've got two short family camping trips planned, but I'll be going out fishing and camping mostly solo.

It's been raining fairly heavy in the mountains, so I plan on staying home for a few days. Yesterday I read a bunch of stoopid shit, moved the kimchi refrigerator into the porch, and slept.

At one point my Mother-in-Law called to me very excitedly from the living room. I went out to see what was up.  She was laughing herself silly while watching a show that featured a dog driving one of those 경운기, pictured on the right..

She loves those kinds of shows. I like my Mother-in-Law just fine, but I definitely need to get out of the apartment during the day.

Sadly, the woodworking course I planned on taking is a bust. Dude took off someplace south, so I need to find an alternate productive activity.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Tonight after the extreme work weekend I hung out with one of the kindergarten fathers.  His nickname is eagle.

He's a couple of years older than me.  He has an advanced degree in chemistry.

He married late to a woman under less than desirable circumstances.  He and I have a certain affinity.

We ended the night avoiding what could have been a gang of Protestants at the only Irish pub in the Wonj.  They don't serve Jameson's so read into that what you will.

Being more Catholic in my perversity, I can still carry a conversation, but then I don't really give a fuck about that whole Irish thing despite having ancestry on both sides of the 'debate'.  I do think about it whenever Swift or a top 40 song comes up.

But I digress.

Eagle and I talked about Koreans and Women.  I had to repeatedly make the statement that we were really talking about people, which always generated great mirth and fun and agreement, except when he talked about Jeong Yak-yong.

He extrapolated on how important he was for Koreans.  I already knew that, but I wondered what this had to do with women.

It become apparent when he said that Dasan owed more to his older brother despite eclipsing him.  I got what he was saying and thought more about his own experiences.

Yeah, we don't always marry under the best of circumstances.  I get that.  And I get that the sexes can sometimes only find true knowledge and understanding amongst their own, an idea found throughout history in many cultures.

Yet I have no 'older brother' I'd care to listen to, and many of my best friends have been women.  I also have two girls that I love 1000% and will defend until the end.  So I'd disagree on principle from personal experience.

But I've got a wife who likes to take out her frustrations on those girls.  She also likes to sell herself and her business on the premise that she is married to an awesome, pure waeg that defies the common stereotype, one of the 'good' ones.  Yet she does not act as if I'm the One.

He didn't have too much to say on the topic.

So I'm thinking I'm locked in.  3-4 years ago, I could have walked out of here with the girls, and no court would have stopped me.

Since then, I've shown June trust by giving her the power to stop all that by investing in her business so she can be self sufficient, and have gotten a steaming pile of shit in return.

Just keep being a man and deal.

Friday, July 22, 2011

So many kinds of wrong

Grab bag edition!

So many kinds of wrong

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Camping 1.5!

Yesterday was marked by emotional turbulence.

First thing yesterday morning I handed Mr. Jeon a USB containing my 24 page power point presentation on the trip to London along with assorted photos and word documents breaking down each day of our visit.  I busted serious ass for the last few days to get it ready in time for the meeting yesterday

He looked somewhat confused and bemused and then said there wouldn't be time to give it.  Instead of flying off the handle, I just shrugged.  I already passed it along to the higher ups, so now its out of my hands.

Just as the meeting was starting I was told by Mr. Na I would have to give a seminar in Seoul during my vacation.  I day dreamed about my now destroyed summer vacation plans, but imagined what kind of insanity I could get up to during that time in Seoul away from the fam.  I imagined riots, looting and pillaging in the streets of Itaewon, Hongdae and Shinchon.  Woo!

After the meeting a higher up Mr. Kim said I wouldn't have to give the seminar and in fact he was giving my team the rest of the day off and a half day today.  Come in the afternoon we were advised.

???  Um, ok, you don't need to tell me twice.  Three of us decided spontaneously to head off into the woods and camp, fish, generally misbehave.  Loading up on meat and beer at the closest supermarket, we called our significant others and drove off into the mountains.

This is why its a great idea to keep your camp gear in the car, but I digress.

We shared war stories, complained about idiocy in general, drank a ton of beer, grilled meat, swam, fished.  We crawled into work around noon.  No one said a word.

This afternoon was not productive save a couple of hours when I first got in.  The rest of the afternoon I hid in the resting room and napped.

On my way out today, Mr. Kim very delicately asked if we could come in on the weekend to help finish up a special project before I went on vacation.  Aha, so that's why you gave us the day.  No problem.  Yes, we had a great time camping by a river thanks.  Sure, I'll see you tomorrow.

That place is pretty damn strange sometimes.

You tubin'

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rhinestone Cowgirl!

Tomorrow I have to give the presentation on the trip to England.  I've also had a ton of crap to finish this week.

I scooted over to the little convenience store not too far from work to grab some Bacchus-D.  The closest place that sells magic green potion is a bit far so I decided to settle for some old school.

When I got to the store the old grandmother that ran the place was sitting out front getting wasted with one of her friends I'll call the Rhinestone Cowgirl.  Her floral print shirt literally sparkled in the setting sun.

Rhinestone Cowgirl insisted I sit down and drink some rice wine with them.  I apologized: way too much work to finish for tomorrow, but thanks.

This old cowgirl was having nothing of that: she polished off her bowl and commanded I sit and drink with them.

From experience it's best to not argue in this kind of situation.  So I sat.

The conversation was thick in Gangwon satori, but I could follow being a bit of an expert in the subject.  Discussion was lively and sardonic in a self effacing way.  She bitched about idiot city people laughing at her, making jokes about growing cabbage or dates.  It doesn't make much sense in English, but it was rather poignant in Korean.

I laughed and commiserated as needed.

The old grandmother who ran the place gave me a bottle of rice wine to send me on my way.  When I got back to the office I burned through 12 pages of power point in no time.  I shouldn't interrupt the flow with a post to my stoopid blog, but something tells me I don't want to forget the Rhinestone Cowgirl.

Back to it.


This morning my Mother-in-Law informed us that June's older brother is marrying a Chinese woman.

He's lived in China for over 15 years.  He owns and runs a jewelry manufacturing plant in Qingdao.  He keeps encouraging me to visit, and I keep promising that one day I will. 

No one is really surprised by the announcement.  They've suspected that he was involved with someone in China, and had been wondering just when he would come out and say it.

Something tells me thanksgiving dinner will be very interesting this year. 

Monday, July 18, 2011


I didn't want to think about the project Mr. Jeon asked me to do before leaving on the weekend, but now its Monday and I've got to get on that horse.

I was supposed to give a presentation on the trip to England back in May.  Nothing came of it due to a number of factors that led Mr. Jeon to say not to bother with it.

Now I have to make the presentation Wednesday.  Mr. Jeon didn't say 'hey remember that project that got delayed. . .', or better 'remember that project I thought you didn't have to do?'  Instead it was: how come you aren't finished yet.  Did you forget?

I stared at him for a tense two minutes and merely said ah yes no one had mentioned anything about that.  I'll have it ready by Tuesday.  I can't help but think he's been sitting on this for awhile.  He knows I start my vacation at the end of the week and have a ton of stuff to organize before I go.

The moral of the story brothers and sisters is if your boss wants to go walkabout with you, best say yes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Yesterday we threw caution to the wind and went to the Wonju VIPS.

We got there early, as the place usually gets really crowded.  We didn't have to wait for a seat, but when we left people filled the foyer and had started to line up outside.

I got all primitive and ordered a porterhouse steak.  That bad boy cost 8 manners.  The waiter started to give me a hard time when I started on the strip, informing me I was supposed to eat the filet first.  What he didn't get was that I was saving that for June, who was still tucking into a full salad bar plate.

I love eating beef even though it may end up killing me.  When you eat a nice thick steak and the juices start sliding down your throat you get what I like to call meat madness.  I get aggressive and cave man like.  I feel like howling at the moon, committing random acts of vandalism, dancing around a big pit fire, dragging hapless women back to my cave.

It's awesome.

I don't eat that much beef.  Generally at home it's fish, chicken and occasionally pork with loads of veggies.  And of course bean paste soup and kimchi.

I've got a completely unscientific theory that eating too many estrogen rich food leads to emasculation, but that is another story for another time. 

Last night was full on meat insanity.  The world became red as I gnawed that steak down to the bones.  My fingers and face were smeared with gristle and fat.  I was completely unabashed in fulfilling my primal need to feast on animal flesh.

After taking the fam home and putting the kids to bed, my buddy the Fisherman called.  I walked out into the rain to meet him, a story for another time.  I got home around four to find June awake and reading, waiting for me.  Are you ok?  she asked.

Let me show you how ok I am.  That went on for near an hour.

This morning I still feel the blood coursing through my veins.  I'm going out for a nice long walk.  Maybe I can find some cars to burn.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dirty Bird Calleth!

Early last night I received a call from Dirty Bird:

"Dude!  What happennnnniiiing??!  Come on you've got to come out tonight I've met a couple of chicks and I need someone kinda respectable to be my wing man!"

". . . "

"Come on, it'll be fun!  They're from one of my classes and I need to impress! They'll probably go home early and then we can tie one on!  Don't give me that I'm going camping or I've got kindergarten shit!  Get out of your little box and have some fun!"

Feeling somewhat in need of getting out, I acquiesce.  It's true I haven't gone out and 'tied one on' in the Wonj in some time, and I have been feeling out of whack.  Maybe a night with Dirty Bird would do me some good.

Besides, I know he'll keep calling every weekend until I finally give in.  If anything, he's persistent, like a dog that will not let go of that bone until it finds something better to gnaw on.  If I go out this weekend I should be in the clear for some time.

We meet up at Shiva the hookah bar at a little after eight.  The place is pretty quiet, and I'm surprised to see the women Dirty Bird has somehow conned into showing up are quite a bit above the quality I've come to expect seen associating with him.  I almost fall over when I see the way he's dressed: usually the type for baggy shorts with lots of pockets, t-shirts that bear some slogan and are invariably stained, ball caps and sneakers, Dirty Bird is wearing dockers, a collared shirt, dress shoes.  I'm feeling a little under dressed.

He smirks, as if knowing what's going through my mind.  He introduces the two women.  They are both nurses, late 20s, attractive. 

I'm surprised at just how much of a gentleman Dirty Bird is, and think he must finally have turned over a new leaf.  Usually he's gruff, abrupt, goes for the funny comment over the smart play, antagonistic.  Tonight he's nearly as smooth as silk.

A good time is had by all.  The girls bow out at around midnight as they both live with their parents.  Pretty typical stuff, we escort them to taxis and bid them goodnight.

As the taxis disappear, I turn to Dirty Bird to compliment him on his changes.  Before I can say a word, he blurts:

"Goddamn I'm glad that's over, what a drag!  Talk about a couple of killjoys!  I wanted to gouge my eyes out when she went on about her dog needing eye drops every four hours and only drinking warm spring water!  Come on, lets go meet some real women!"

Those last two looked pretty good to me, although I wasn't the one who had to have a conversation about eye drops and spring water;  I talked mostly of jazz, travel, the universe and everything.

But I know I'm locked in.  Gauntlet thrown, I follow.

We head straight for a seedy part of town and some low end room salon, the kind that hasn't changed at all since the 70s.  The woman looks about fifty and seems to know Dirty Bird well.  She immediately calls up another for me, and the girl that walks in the door looks as if she may be related to Jang Mi-Ran.  She sits down and immediately begins to fondle my balls in a very indelicate manner.  I pick up her hand and put it on her knee, and the look she gives me suggests she is contemplating cracking my head like a walnut.  I just smile.

Let's have some beer!  Woo, dude, you should see my new digs!  Pretty nice, way better than that shit hole I was living in at the last place!  This place is new!  How's that hot little wife of yours?  Damn, I can't believe how lucky you got with that!  Yeah Mi-Ran, he's married, a little shy, sidle up to him and see if you can warm him up a bit!  You two get cozy!  Dude, you have got to come with me next month when I hit Thailand!  It would be insane!  Hey, do you know anywhere I can get some Ambien? I've got a doctor back in Seoul, but I need one local. 

Dirty Bird prattles on for over an hour while Mi-Ran rubs my leg, nibbles my ear, generally ignores my attempts to move away.  I flee frequently to the bathroom and try to sit at the booth across from them to no avail; Mi-Ran keeps pulling me back in.  Dirty Bird goes on and on.  I decide that if I'm to survive, I need to get drunk, combatively so.  This is the only language Dirty Bird speaks when he gets full on.

Soon I'm on the same wave length.  Cmon man, lets blow this popsicle stand, these girls are boring and ugly.  Let's so someplace more upscale than hanging out by the side of the tracks.

I convince him to leave, but he'll only go if we first head back to his place so he can show me his new digs.  He wants an Ambien and to get a bit into a bottle he's got before we head out again.  I decline the pharmaceutical; Ambien generally makes me feel like I'm swimming in concrete before I pass out.  I don't get what he sees in it.

We're walking past the equivalent of a park when Dirty Bird stops:

Hey my car is over there, let's grab it.  But first I gotta pisssssshh. 

He's barely concealed behind a rose bush when he whips it out and goes about his business.  I think about how to dissuade him from driving, since at this point he can barely stand and is obviously pissing on his shoes.

Two older adjusshis see this, and become very agitated.  They come over and proceed to berate Dirty Bird for engaging in such a public display.  They become belligerent and loud.  Dirty Bird just laughs at them mockingly and walks over towards his car.  I make to drag him off when the cops show up.

The two guys accuse Dirty Bird of trying to drive drunk and trying to start a fight.  These fine gentlemen had only wanted to help Dirty Bird find a public restroom and not embarrass himself.  Dirty Bird had insulted them and Korea by acting so barbarically.

I'm not nearly as drunk and explain to the cop that it was all a misunderstanding, Dirty Bird was only getting his bag from the car, he lives very close by and I was taking him home, he had had a really bad day and was not himself.  My lucidity pays off and we are able to scuttle away, much to the chagrin of the two adjusshis who had just started to talk about how they had been victimized by the bad waeg and may need compensation.

Dirty Bird's apartment is pretty new, but small.  Take out containers fill the sink and counter top, beers cans and bottles are everywhere, laundry clean and dirty covers all the chairs and bed, there are shit stains and dried urine on the side of his toilet.  Dirty Bird pops an Ambien and opens the bottle.  I take a drink and wonder how he can live in such a sty.  He tries to slur out something, perhaps some deep observation on the universe, but it doesn't quite become articulate. Within 20 minutes, Dirty Bird is passed out bottle in hand.

I take my leave and head home.  I walk for a way wondering what combination of personality and experience makes a Dirty Bird.  Then I just walk.  I know it's only a matter of time before I see him again, and while this time wasn't as nasty as I've seen it get and I didn't actually spend much money, I get the feeling that one of these days something will knock the Dirty Bird down and he won't get back up.

But then again, guys like him just seem to keep going no matter what.  It's usually those that hang around them that end up paying the price.

Friday, July 15, 2011

So many kinds of wrong

Ah, the human condition.  3rd vid NSFW - Art.  I love the guy in the first vid.

So many kinds of wrong

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


same same
Tonight I was appalled at the homework assignment the eldest brought in.

I had to chastise her for leaving it to the last minute.  Doing last minute well takes years of either fucking up and being given too many second or third chances, and learning just when you can get away with something half baked.

Her teacher wanted a monthly and daily plan of what she would be doing during her summer vacation.  Creepiness aside, how can a second grader tell you that?

I was forced to teach her the subtleties of the words 'tentative', 'probable' and 'maybe'.

I offered several suggestions as to what we would most likely be doing to alleviate her stress.

She asked if we would really do all the things I mentioned.  Sure, mostly.  This is a tentative plan, and this is what we will hopefully be doing.  She laughed with a little too much wisdom.  Ya, you know.

Here's how you lie darling.

Something tells me this will come back and bite me in the ass later.

All I want to do is go down to the school and ask the idiot teacher wtf he hopes to achieve with this 'lesson'.

No wonder so many Koreans want to send their kids abroad.  When the eldest went to school home, she called me with always a lot to tell about what she had learned.  It was always substantial and had nothing to do with learning how to bullshit your superiors or the school board or filling time with useless busy work. 

Here it seems mostly write some boring bullshit and learn to fill in crap forms while stroking your superior's dick.

Time for another Max.

Mountain Strawberry Soju!

The Mother-in-Law just called.  This was odd in itself since she rarely if ever phones me.

She wanted to let me know that she had gotten her hands on a pile of mountain strawberries, and had put a bunch of them into soju for me.

All I need to do now is wait a year for those bad boys to add some flavor to the soju mix.

Apparently, the mountain strawberries this year aren't so good due to excessive rain.  They aren't that sweet, so she was prompted to mix them into some soju.

You're supposed to strain the stuff 2 or 3 times through some cheese cloth before you seal it.  It's best to make three containers about a third full at a go, then mix them all together with sugar once you've done the straining to clear out all the hairs and bugs.  Each container should contain 300 grams of mountain strawberries per 100 ml of soju.

The whole thing is somewhat odd.  She'd prefer that I not drink that much, but here she is making me soju cocktail.  For her to call and mention this makes it really odd.  I guess she wants to ensure that I maintain 'stamina',  a supposed byproduct of drinking mountain strawberry wine.  Word around the water cooler is that it's called 'urinal breaker', since it induces such a powerful stream of urine that you crack the porcelain.

Guess it must be her way of saying thanks for changing the batteries in the TV remote.


Lately I've been harping on about the need for concision in drawing up our designs.

Some of the stuff I've been getting from others on the team has consisted of long spiels using too many of the same words and tropes. It's starting to really get on my tits.

Less is More! Emotionally potent oversimplification! Ask yourself: what would Hemingway do??!

This morning's emails contain more of the same dross.

I think I'll suggest everyone go read some of this as their morning assignment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Last night I decided to not stay late at work and get some more quality time with the girls.

We made another movie, this time a concert.  We played guitar, harmonica, ocarina, ukulele, triangle and drums.

It was very Sonic Youth.  June hid in the bedroom.  The cat ran wild.

Then we made Play Doh pastries and weird characters.  I thought about what we'd need to make some stop animation films.

Probably a better camera.

I did all this while drinking red wine.  The Homeplus in Chunchon was selling bottles at 30% of normal retail price.  I bought several.  This morning I actually feel pretty good, a reminder of just how nasty the soju can be.

But you can't beat the price!  A chonner a go makes it hard to say no!

This morning I've got a ton of work to do, so time for coffee.

Traffic Flow!

Back in April I wrote about traffic signals in the Wonj.

Basically I bitched about how traffic flow was not a consideration the roads department took seriously.  If anything, it would seem some sick bastard actually designed the lights to make a simple easy journey take 3 times longer and be 1000 times more annoying than need be.

Harken! to my blog. . .

Recently, I've noticed a vast improvement.  The two main downtown streets have been made one way with cross street traffic moving at a much smoother clip.  Some major arteries have actually had their lights synced.

Now I think I'll moan about needing more sex, drugs and rock and roll. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Project Noah!

Some folks at work were surprised to hear that we all went camping this weekend.

They are more city types.  Their idea of a vacation is to go down to the big smoke for a week and check out all that culture stuff.

I can get behind that.  I'm more of a taking a balanced view to things kind of guy however; I like to mix up the city culture stuff with get out into the woods and beach stuff.

When asked what activities I did with the kids, I mentioned the typical go for a walk, play frisbee and badminton, swim, cook, make a fire, roast marshmallows, play cards kind of stuff.  But I also showed them two aps the girls really like.

One is called Starwalk.  The ap shows you the position of constellations and planets in relation to your geographical position.  Great at night and you want to show them stars kind of stuff.

For the day there is Project Noah.  The idea is similar to scouting on your iPhone.  You are given missions to take pictures of different plants, bugs, birds, etc.  Once you've completed a mission you earn different badges and can go on to the next.

The girls really liked that one since they got to take pictures of different stuff.  The bugs kind of stuff were their favorite.

Now that June bought an iPhone, we also had fun taking videos from two angles and including music real time in the video.  Now I've got to work at splicing them together.


The weekend trip to Joong-do in the head water lake of Chunchon was awesome.

You have to take a ferry if you want to bring your car.  When the traffic is heavy, it runs continuously.  Otherwise, it runs every two hours starting at 9:00 AM.

Stepping on to the island is like going fifty years into the past except for the campground itself.  While you can find the same kind of thing in many country areas around Korea, to find this kind of spot pretty much in the middle of a sizable metropolitan area is different.

The campsite itself is a great spot: well maintained sites with a nice amount of trees.  There is a nice pool complex and some great views.  You can rent jet skis, ATVs and bikes. 

Driving on the roads sucked, as none are paved.  One guy who was a little careless and tried to drive on the side of an eggplant field found himself a foot deep in the mud.

Helping him out was not fun.

When we got home, June showed us pictures from the late 80s when she went there last.  The trees and whatnot have grown substantially, while the houses outside the campground have not.

I'd like to go there again, but the place will be mobbed if we go when the weather is nice.  Still, recommend.

On our way out we hit the Homeplus.  I'll be able to skip a trip to Costco this month.  Apart from a short heavy shower in the middle of the night, the rain held off until we were actually on the highway out of Chunchon.


Saturday, July 9, 2011


I'm the kinda guy who sees camping as a good opportunity to have a camp fire.

Imagine my surprise when I look around at the albeit sparse campsites around me and see very few fires.

We came here for June to reconnect with her experiences near 25 years ago.

It has been a great time. Esoteric.

Despite listening to some trot music concert across the lake, which prompted me to sing at least once a song that I've made myself forget right now, it has been a seriously cool experience.

Too bad I wasn't in the right frame of mind to truly enjoy it.

Time for some more rice wine.

Camping 1.4!

Today the fam and I are camping on the island in Chunchon.

We took the ferry over, helped some guy get out of some nasty mud, set up our site in a pretty sweet spot.

We got lucky. We hoped that because of the weather people would cancel. This is indeed what happened. The weather has been hot and sunny all afternoon. Usually this area is booked solid from spring to fall at least a year in advance.

My new tarp is bigger than I imagined. First time setting it up was a bit of a trial.

The eldest is after me to go rent a family bike. I'll sit for a few more minutes than give the girls a biking tour of the site.

More later.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gayageum Committee!

Tonight I had to go to the youngest's kindergarten to join the educational planning committee. 

I've been shirking my responsibilities for quite some time.  The maintenance guys took advantage of me showing up to book me for a weekend in August to work on the roof.

Tonight's big decision was on whether or not we should extend the music teacher's part time contract.  One of the mom's has a friend she wants to replace the old teacher with.

I'm all for nepotism.  You can't live in Korea for any length of time and succeed without becoming versatile in it.  But the current music teacher is pretty awesome and the kids like her a lot.

I spoke out against changing for those reasons, and also that the new teacher wants more money.  Apparently she studied at some prestigious Korean classical music school and is a master of the gayageum, an instrument that is currently not taught at the kindergarten.

I did wonder why someone with such a pedigree would want to teach at some back water kindergarten, but I kept my mouth shut.  All I know is that a middling gayageum will set you back around 200-500 manners.  I'm ok with my girls not learning how to play it for now.

The nays for replacement took it.  I engendered the enmity of a couple of the moms in the process, but that's how the cookie crumbles.  I seem to be good at pissing off women of late.  Imagine what I could achieve if I really worked at it.

Time for some Max.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Rainy Friday edition!

So many kinds of wrong

MK12 | Follow the Sun | 2011 from MK12 on Vimeo.

This one is so many kinds of right, a response to the Miss America contestant responses to "Should evolution be taught in school?" posted in this edition.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Letter from a First Time Reader!

Yesterday I received an email from a first time reader.  This is what they had to say:

I came across your blog after clicking through a comment you left at ************.com.  I thought your comment was incredibly stupid and insensitive, and after reading your blog I see that I was right about your overall intellectual and emotional capacity.  Not only is your writing juvenile and pedantic, but your overall outlook is morally suspect and indicative of serious mental issues.  You should probably just jump off a bridge and stop wasting space and resources, since your drinking and smoking will lead you to an early death anyway and you're going to end up passing your twisted views off onto your children.

Joseph Z. (in signature)

Hi Joe, thanks for reading.  I appreciate comments and will generally respond.  If you have something that you'd like to say, the email is in profile.

While I doubt you will read this Joe, I'd still like to take some time to respond to several of the points you've raised in your missive.

First off, the comment I made was simply to agree with what the majority of posters had written before I posted.  I guess I am too much of a sheep, what with trying to fit into a foreign environment and make a life for myself and family.  Generally, when in Rome, do as the Romans they say, and I guess I could be accused of often going along with the consensus of a group and not really flexing my intellectual muscles.  I know, I know, my bad.  It is obvious to me now that your high-mindedness doesn't allow you to grasp something as simple as a pun (play on words, similar to the one being made in the comments), which is a low form of humor suitable only for an intellect of my capacity.  I should have simply agreed with you that the author had made a mistake and left it at that.

Now, I have to take issue with your use of the word 'pedantic' to criticize my blog, which I assume you to mean boring, unimaginative, too focused on minutiae:  if you'll again look at the sidebar, I state explicitly that what I write about are the boring, mundane experiences of my insipid, repetitive life.  I make no promises about anything else, and if you do find a gem or three you should consider it gravy.  The fact is Joe, I write in a juvenile way on pedantic subjects since I am angry and sad that my life is not nearly as exciting as the way it is described by Korean media and the fine people at Anti-English
Spectrum.  I came to Korea when I read how awesome my life would be; I expected a deluge of drugs, women, and money, since those people said that the average waeg got all that and more when they came to Korea.  I've been pretty much disappointed since the get-go.  I write about my everyday experiences as a means to refute these statements concerning what my life is supposed to be like, and vent my frustration at it not being so. 

While you may think suicide by jumping off a bridge is the best option for someone of my caliber, this would be terribly irresponsible of me since most of my insurance policies would not pay out any serious premium if I followed that course.  FYI, if you were serious about me taking an early leave of this plane to spare my children and the world any future contamination from my sub-par intellect and abnormal worldview, you would encourage me to make it look like an accident while driving.  If I were to go out in that scenario, my family would get a triple payout on one policy and a double on another, bringing in well over a million dollars.  Can you imagine the effect on my children when realizing that their dad did himself in the worst way possible, earning the least amount of insurance?  This would be far more damaging then any I could do teaching them the importance of study, the value of good interpersonal relationships, or the need to constantly self improve and engage fully and authentically in life.

Finally, as for my drinking and smoking, I take it you must lead a fairly clean and healthy life, and I commend you.  Personally, I am perhaps a little too free in my thinking on the subject, as I find it not only socially acceptable to engage in these behaviors but desirable as well.  Life is too short to spend all your time and energy getting all fired up about idiotic ramblings spewed by some twat on the internet.  Getting out there and meeting people while drinking and smoking is a great way to avoid all that.

Anyway, thanks again for your letter Joe.  Feel free to write again if the urge strikes you.

Warmly yours,


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beginning of a Letter to An Old Hand!

Found here
Last week I received a rather interesting email from an old hand that works at the company.

I've been thinking about how to respond to him, as I see a bit of myself in him, and the potential to become something like he is now.

This guy worked hard to assimilate.  He learned the language, knows Chinese fairly well, has worked to find a place in Korean society.  He even went so far as to not teach his children English when they were growing up.

To a certain extent, I can understand what could be his rationale for that: even today, there are still elements that see learning English as a form of pollution, a necessary evil that should see its incorporation into the broader society limited.  Of course, as the years have passed, those who think this way have become marginalized, but every now and then you can pick it up as an undercurrent.

The Old Hand is highly educated, a smart capable man.  He espouses the virtue of love in all his dealings.  When faced with some of the idiocy in daily life as an expat, I can understand this as a survival mechanism.  This is primarily what intrigues me about him, just how he has worked to build these mechanisms, and how he works to remain positive.

I see it as a recurring battle that doesn't need to be fought everyday, but certainly keeps coming up.  Any long term expat will tell you that one of the more difficult aspects of living in Korea is not allowing yourself to get mired in brooding over the sundry idiots that cross your path.  They can be found in even the unlikeliest places.  But the alternative is not really an option, as carrying around hate all the time is tiring and detracts from readily improving yourself. 

I'd really like to hear more of his experiences during the twenty plus years he's been here.  Every now and then he'll share a tidbit, and even rarer you get a glimpse of some of what he really thinks when he slips from blowing sunshine up every one's ass.  He does carry some bitterness as options that should be open to someone of his learning have always been closed since he is a waeg.

Doesn't help that he's Jewish and wears a yarmulke.  That kind of thing sorta draws attention to one self.

I'm still not quite ready to talk about it in this way with him as there have been other issues between us, mostly having to do with how he has said that I scare him.

I suppose I could tell him that sometimes I scare myself, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I wonder if he would see it that way.

Time for some vapid Hollywood.

Nice Car!

The new apartment we moved into a few months ago used to be the luxury apartment in the Wonj.

Despite how it is far from holding that distinction now, it would seem that several of the residents have cash as evidenced by all the imported cars found in the lot.

There are your typical Benzes and BMWs, along with some Lexus' and more than a few American cars, but this bad boy is my favorite.

I must confess a general lack of knowledge and interest in cars, but I do like looking at this Jag.

A bit of an older model, but in pristine condition.  I have yet to see who owns it, but I imagine it's only a matter of time before that is no longer a mystery.

Monday, July 4, 2011

New Camp Gear!

Last week I went a little crazy and bought some more camp gear.

I'm coming into a little extra money over the next few weeks, so instead of being responsible and using it to pay off some more of the loan, I decided to get a little more decked out for my 2 week camping extravaganza in August.

I bought a field kitchen table from Snowpeak and a tarp from Snowline. I found them at a website called Gayamy.  I know a gay Amy, so I was immediately lured in.

I blew 60 manners on the two. June didn't say anything, since now she'll be able to hold her head up higher when we camp with some of the parents from the kindergarten. Keeping up with the Kims and all that.

Now I just need some more fishing gear.


Tomorrow after work I need to go visit my local esthetics clinic as I've run out of ephedrine.

I've never seen another man in there save the doctor. He and I go way back as I used to teach his son.

I go in rather infrequently.  The prescription is ostensibly for weight loss. Every time he goes through the same speech for how to use the pills in conjunction with a weight loss regime.  I have to give him credit for his consistency.

They do help to lose weight.  I would never dream of saving em up for when I have a big project due or a serious night on the town planned.

I don't like to take them too regularly as I find I get irritable.

They cost almost two bucks per packet, so a two month supply will set me back 24 manners for 120 packets.

There are some other useless pills in the batch, the only one of any use is a green tea tablet.

I suppose I could just rely on the magic green potion, the bacchus and the soon to be available red bull to keep me running, but I like to mix things around sometimes so I don't become too inured to one particular type of stimulant.


A few years back when working at a top uni, some of my students gave me a Zippo lighter for teacher's day.

It wasn't my first Zippo.  It may not be my last.  I was touched at the time, and thought it a great gift.
Sadly, I put it aside after a few months.  Tracking down fluid and flints proved to be quite the task in the Wonj at the time.

Imagine my delight when I found several cheap canisters of fluid at my new local convenience store.  These bad boys cost me a chonner each, and they offer a suggestion for what you could do with a container of highly flammable fluid: pour it over your head or the head of someone you like, light it up and you get Sun Man!

Combined with the flints I scored at the 7-11, I'm back in business.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Yesterday at the stream talk among the adults focused on just how much the eldest looks like Mathilda from the film Leon.

It is true, especially since she got her bob haircut.

The eldest seemed somewhat put out.  I showed her a picture of Mathilda, which placated her somewhat as 'she's pretty'.

When I told her that she was also Luke and Leia's mom from Star Wars, she was most pleased.

The youngest asked: "Who do I look like??"

That was a tougher one.  I told her she looks a little like Dakota Fanning.  She's weird looking, the youngest stated after looking at her picture.   No, she's actually pretty cute.  See her now?  But don't worry, you've still got a lot of time to change. 

They ran off and played, arguing over who was the prettiest or the coolest.  The eldest ran around shooting a stick gun.

I tried telling them they ultimately can be anything they want, but this morning they wanted to now more about the actors they resemble.   I begged off, trying to get ready for work, and said we'd talk more later.  I've got a few hours to think about how to spin this.  I know I'm going to bring in how competent and able they are, except most of Dakota Fanning's roles suck. 

I'm going to need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday. . .

Not really.  I volunteered.

Today we've got to interview some of the new interns.  It's going to take 4-5 hours. 

I will get some extra pay for it, maybe 25 manners, but I'm mostly doing it to try and make up a bit for my lack of enthusiasm at work these last few weeks.

Besides, it always is fun to hand pick the interns.  It's an opportunity to weed out those less suited for work at the company.

I usually end up doing this job.  Sometimes, someone I give a low score to still finds their way in since each intern has to go through a series of four interviews, but generally the ones I like find their way to work in conceptual design.

Today the fam is off to Oak Valley to swim once again.  I'm supposed to go meet up with them when I'm done, but we'll see how I'm feeling at that point.

Time for coffee.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Morning After!

Last night I went out with some coworkers and got my drunk on.  We hit the tent bar and the Kraken.  I almost expected to meet Dirty Bird.  I haven't heard from him since the initial call when I told him he couldn't stay at my place for a few days.  Go figure.

Maybe he reads this blog.

Mr. Na asked me if I'd like to be moved into the planning and development department.  This amounts to a promotion.  I'd end up traveling less, but would have more control on product design.  I'd also get a bit of a raise.

I would also undoubtedly have a lot more work.  I said I was interested, but as this wouldn't take effect until next year, I have some time to think about it.

Most people took off around 2:00 am.  Things had gotten messy with a couple of people passed out on tables.  One of the women couldn't walk, so me and another woman loaded her in a taxi.  They live far away so I did what I thought was a responsible thing and brought them home.

They ended up crashing on a yo on my floor.  June was less than impressed.  They scurried off around 6:30 AM.

It seems it's better if I bring home good looking young men.  Go figure.

The Mother-in-Law is back.  Yesterday she cooked up some seaweed soup and this morning she made soy bean paste soup.  Go figure.

Today we're off to meet up with some of the eldest's friends.  We're supposed to go and hang out in a mountain somewhere.  I don't feel like doing much of anything and would rather hit the sauna.  Go figure.  But waeg must be good daddy.

Time for coffee.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Last night for dinner I grilled some steak, steamed some fresh new small potatoes, sliced up some tomato and mozzarella, opened a can of corn. It was delicious and wholesome.

I steamed a whole bag of potatoes, and this morning I pan fried the leftovers to a nice golden brown. I made some toast and woke the girls.

We had a great breakfast and chat. June woke up when the cat jumped on the bed wanting to play. She screamed and proceeded to curse the cat.

I feel ya, cat.

I usually don't have breakfast with the girls. I'm usually out the door sometime between 6:30-6:40 am every day. Today I didn't leave until 7:15. We chatted about the plan for the weekend, their swimming lessons, building a new improved cat house for Nabi, the intricacies of math and why Lola should eat more tomatoes.

When I arrived at work, Mr. Jeon said rather gruffly that I was late. Seeing as it wasn't quite eight, I told him that actually I wasn't. He proceeded to write something down in his phone, probably comments on my insubordination and bad attitude that will be inserted into my next evaluation.

Luckily, I did all that while listening to some of this, which makes everything a-ok.

So Many Kinds of Wrong

Douche edition!

So many kinds of wrong