Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Generic Festive Greetings!

Greetings all, waeg here wishing you and yours warmth and happiness on this most special of days.

This year the Christmas preparations are a bit soft at this Waeg's house, as I had to work yesterday and have been quite busy finishing up a number of projects.  This year, there is no turkey, no Christmas tree, and no baking.  Major suck.

Still, a couple of families will come over today and make merry, as I plan on baking a couple of hams and some scallop potatoes, along with fixings.  I'm sure there will also be some wine and beer, and the kids will watch Home Alone for the 20th time.

Last night we did enjoy some quality family time talking about Christmas, and watching a version of A Christmas Carol.  While waiting for the girls to fall solidly asleep so I could play santa and fill their Christmas stockings, I spent some time reading up on Dickens; I did not realize what a dog he was, although I think I understand him all too well.

The girls are on their way to church, which is fine by me.  I'll finish up my coffee and watch some NSFW holiday videos. 

Treevenge from jasoneisener on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas!  I do have to work tomorrow, but I won't let that stop the fun today!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Normal Day!

Today started off with a flat tire on the way to work. Being a good boy scout, I pulled over and started to remove the spare. In the process I got myself nicely dirty, as the fam van is nasty from driving though slush and snow for the last couple of weeks.

Sadly, the spare, which I replaced last April, was also flat. So I called up my car service for a tow.

After waiting a solid hour, and having given directions three times to three different people, the tow truck finally showed up. He at first didn't believe that the spare was flat and needed to check it out himself, then laughed and acknowledged I was right.

So into the tow truck we went.

My favorite car shop was insanely busy. The manager joked with me how whenever there is a little bit of snow they see a huge increase in business. He said it would take a few hours to get to the fam van, so I figured why not, get a full check up and oil change in the process. He said he'd call me when it was ready.

I went home to grab a bite to eat and have a dump, as it was near ten at this point and I had skipped breakfast. When I got there, I realized I had left my house key at the car shop. Unfortunately, June was not home and was not answering her phone. After standing around for a good 20 minutes, I decided fuck it and walked downtown. I figured I'd look for some Christmas presents and have a nice hot soup lunch before the car was fixed.

I plan on buying a cool silver ring for the youngest, as the eldest got one when she was the same age. This year, the folks have sent jewelry boxes for the girls, along with giving the eldest my grandmother's wedding ring, quite a special gift. It is time for the youngest to get her silver ring, but all I found in every jewelry shop was gaudy overpriced crap, so I went for lunch. Just after I ordered a hot bowl of noodle soup at one of the many dirty little hole in the wall restaurants in the downtown market, June called to say she was home but had to leave again.  She would leave the key in the mailbox. I finished my soup and was going to head to the AK plaza to look at more rings when the call came in that a registered package was being delivered to the apartment. I thought it was the package from my folks, so I said I'd be there in 30 minutes.

Pretty much as soon as I got home, the delivery guy showed up. It wasn't the package from my folks however, but some books and stuff I ordered though Amazon. The car shop still had not called, so I started up a nice pot of lamb stew.

Just as I was finishing it, the car shop called. At this point it was nearly four. There was really no point in heading to the office, and I'll probably have to eat a pile of shit for it tomorrow, but fuck it: so I went and got the fam van, paid the 400 000 for two new tires, oil change, other minor repairs including clutch spring and brake pads, then hustled back home to finish up the stew and start into some rice wine.

At nearly seven the rest of the fam showed up. June was having a moment, understandable as the full moon is near. She immediately went and hid in the bedroom as I fed the girls. It was an awesome stew.

After dinner, we cleaned up together, did some homework, then read a couple of books. After, I drank some more rice wine and started watching a sci fi series I never got around to watching: Earth Final Conflict. So far I've actually found it quite entertaining, with the female lead being somewhat nice to look at with her ample bosom.

Tired now. I should sleep soon, but first there still is one more bottle of rice wine.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We Build the Great!


Today I met with my new replacement as head of the conceptual design department.

I've been doing the job for four years. I recently asked for a reassignment as I didn't like the way the wind was blowing. My argument was that a farmer does not always sow the same field year after year; they need to let the soil lay fallow for a time, to ensure a solid crop after a couple of years. They ate that right up and reassigned me to quality control; however, they did decide to extend my metaphor by covering me in shit, as although I will be moved to a less demanding position with less responsibility and a much lighter workload, I will have a new immediate supervisor. Mr. Kim is a guy who just happens to gleefully dream of my destruction.

Luckily, he has very little power to interfere with my day to day, as the position is quite autonomous, although I'm sure he'll be working hard at trying to trip me up. I've already been informed that I am free to generally ignore him. Regardless of what happens, less responsibility will be a nice for a go. I've been told I can have at least a year in my new position.

What it came down to was not wanting to work at cross purposes: a member of the board had informally asked me several months past to either generally sabotage any new programs for a time, or to get any new partners to only be those seeking licensing agreements on our products, as there are issues with funding, and well, We Build the Great. The CEO meanwhile expects results with new products made through partners overseas, but which often require investment on our part.

Being asked to seek licensing on our stuff was a bit much; I already did far more than my original job description.  Having some of my Korean coworkers, who do little work, rub in my face how much more their salary is compared to mine, then being asked to do more work, and a type of work which would cause lower performance reviews, which would result in lower pay increases. . . . bah, fuck it.  Combined with a general atmosphere where more than a few of my Korean coworkers resent having a waeg deal with this aspect of the business, which they feel should be handled by a Korean, led me to 'request' a transfer.

I will lose a negligible amount of salary, miniscule really, which was actually decent, but I will have to update all my business cards. So be it. The overall pay will hopefully balance itself out over the long term, as my performance reviews will hopefully be stellar despite Mr. Kim's predictably shitty review.  The really cool thing is that one of my more vocal detractors, who consistently claimed I did no real work, will now take the position. It'll be hard for them to mess it up, as they will have very little new work to do in the foreseeable future, and I'm leaving the department a pretty tight ship with a very competent well functioning team. They would have to be a complete moron to mess it up, and while part of me hopes they do, I am being 100% with the transition as my work ethic demands it.

Guess I'll have more time to blog; it is about time to redesign the banner and layout. Come the end of January, I'll make that a priority.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hobbit 2: Politically Incorrect!

Today's been a full on family day.

We started by running out to a nice snow covered hill and sledding, followed up by a nice warm noodle soup lunch.  We capped off the day by going to the theater and seeing the new Hobbit movie.

Good flick, and I want to recommend it heartily, however, I was APPALLED at the disgusting displays of political incorrectness!  Hear this: first, there were no Asians in the movie.  I call foul!  I expect full on protests in the next few days, as it is clear Peter Jackson is a racist!  Or a miscegenist,  since he put so much emphasis on the budding romance between dwarf and elf.  What was he thinking??  He knows that will only lead to bad feelings all around.  I know I must have destroyed my girls' childhood by letting them watch such filth!

Still, hobbits.  Well, one anyway.  And a very cool dragon.  Aight, yeah, those were cool, along with orcs getting their heads lopped off.  Good times.

Time for some soju and 식초.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday Night Reflection!


So Waeg,where you at now?



It's always good to get a laugh at the old fucks who cut the queue, making the halmoni at your local convenience store decide between you and the drunk adjushi who's been showing up a good five years more than you.

She knows he needs the attention more than you; he has been eating the shit of an unhappy marriage far longer than you, and he can't afford the room salon attention (just like you!) given to the SNU grads.  But it still causes more friction at your local convenience store, since I am a dirty waeg who is constantly reminded that he is the supplanter, taking jobs from the Minjok, and at that moment decided not to suck it up like so many times before and walked out after she served him first, as she decided him more deserving, being the older Korean man. He was only buying one beer and I was buying a six pack of water, so volume!  He jumped the queue and I said nothing, so she tried to ride it as she has done in the past, save when she turned to me to apologize, I walked away.

I have a hard time dealing with older Korean males who think they should come first simply based on gender and time in. I figure time in means wisdom, and I don't often see the latter from the majority of older Korean men. But I remember back home how old assholes often were given leniency.  I can only hope I won't age in the same manner.

I remind myself that Respect is partially based on age, partially based on merit. I used to joke about being the old fucker who would keep the baseball that got hit into his yard; a great thing about living in Korea is learning that rarely do old fuckers, especially older Korean men, earn the respect they feel deserved and demand.  Even if you've got no pull, the stooges will comply; the local convenience store owner with her ear to the ground knows you well and has got your back, so there is no need to keep the baseball as they'd prolly come lick your gooch to get it back anyway.

Phhht. . . grow a pair and represent I might have said when younger and more foolish.  Just because your old doesn't mean you simply get respect, you still need to show you're worthy of it.  I would hope to get called out when I started to slip, and that I wouldn't have dulled my mind too much with the soju to respond.  I know how broken a person can get, and can only hope to not lose so much perspective along the way.  StiIl, I think I'm going to love being able to say you must understand my special situation in later years, and that will make everything all OK, as the listener will be expected to overlook my own idiocy. . .  sadly in Korea, that statement has been abused far too often, especially when dealing with waegs.  "Please Understand my Special situation" does summarize everything good and bad about Korea since the 80's, as the leaders are stuck in a past they fought too hard to relearn, and everyone else is still hoping their kids will be able to negotiate the aftermath.   Three generations, expected to be so close, but really from very different planets.  For the latter, knowing that you can't keep the borders closed, nor is it desirable, because well, biology; but it does make sense to wish for pure blood if you're a big fan of the incest.

Friday, December 6, 2013

So many kinds of wrong

The front page has been loading quick lately due to the lack of vids. Time to fix that.

So many kinds of wrong









Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday Morning Tunes!

This morning I've been a highly productive drone, burning through a pile of TPS reports that I'd been dutifully ignoring for a good week; I thank coffee and the following:

(second and third sNSFW)










Thursday, November 28, 2013

Rut!

Wednesday night.  For the second week in a row, Waeg finds himself out on the town, this time meeting up with another old hand expat who has been here for years.  Both of them settled years ago, marrying and producing beautiful, smart, twigi kids.  They meet occasionally to share war stories and general information, but as winter is coming and SAD is starting to set in, the conversation returns to a topic they've covered more than once: getting stuck in a rut.

Must be a middle age thing, they muse and laugh, since it follows a nearly predictable cycle.  You get caught focusing on how you always do the same things over and over, caught in mundane uniformity that grinds you down, looking at yourself in the mirror every morning saying this will be the day that you start something new, this will be the day you change... But nothing ever does except something cosmetic, something temporary like feeling better because you bought a new pair of shoes or a new coat or you went to the gym more often.  They joke about going out and meeting new people and some of the people they've met, how they still do it from time to time as this will often alleviate the angst for at least a while.  But they catch themselves and don't fall into the trap of blaming only place and situation, because they're not so foolish as to let the fact that being outsiders limits their responses to boredom.  They've both seen too many waegs over the years fall to the hate, blaming 'society' instead of understanding that it's all in your own head.

As they move to a club, they laugh and joke that they can at least entertain the idea of midlife crisis in these terms.  Sure, life isn't easy, you want to catch that spark again, to remember what it was to be driven day in day out, when you always found plenty to get excited about.  But there are some who can't do that, like the Filipina single mom with three kids they know, came over at 21, so young so full of hope and promise, now 38 and divorced from a deadbeat Korean dad.  She works three jobs just to get by.... She has little time for short forays into the wild side, no inclination to remember things she has forgotten; somewhat broken but not interested in trying to fix it, as there is only time to prove she can do it, she can raise her kids, stand up and represent... She knows a part of her is no more but, well, life.  She would mock their midlife 'problems'.

Or the contractor, whom they used to see more often but is now far from the Wonj; his family is back in the states, while he stays and works.  He knows his wife is getting her freak on with an ex, and his kids rarely respond to his messages and emails, they too busy being teenagers thinking they know what it means, man.  He sometimes entertains the idea of also finding someone new, someone for now, but he knows he needs to keep focused on his job, budget cuts and the like, he's seen too many get chopped over the years, often ones who walked a little too frequently on the wild side. . . instead he chooses to be all stoic and monk like, and just sends the money every month, since, well, life.  He too has little time for midlife garbage.

And of course there is the old old timer they both know, here 30 years plus, married for love and jumped through all the hoops to gain Korean citizenship, not an easy feat at all, less so when he did it.  Speaks Korean like a native, highly educated, has completely internalized the ideal of the Korean scholar, living his life in a manner consistent with the ideal, an ideal that allows for no incursions into the wild side, yet he has always been stymied from rising in academia due to the very real glass ceiling hit by every waeg.  He always talks about love and being happy, but they both know he is one of the unhappiest people they know.  The disconnect that is apparent to them he ignores, since he made his choice and will stick by it, a staunch believer in the Minjok, as he waxes on about his lovely wife and children, a wife who often stays at their second apartment, lovely children who often roll their eyes when dad goes on about love and being happy.  But he has to keep focused, has to keep believing, since, well, life.  He has no time for engaging the typical midlife challenges that often bring a realignment in perspective and outlook.

They stop talking and drink in silence.  Waeg knows that the talk has been good; it will probably stave off the worst of the angst for a while.  But he knows the battle is far from won, and he wonders what he should do next to prepare to overcome.  The battles have become harder over the years, requiring more self delusion or more extreme pursuits; he has seen too clearly in others where following that path can lead.  He thinks about responsibility, duty, and what new accomplishements could be achieved; the silence between them becomes thicker, heavier, almost drowning out the music being played in the club.  He finds himself beginning to fall into it, embracing it, thinking this is what it means to get old, to learn wisdom, when the silence becomes all; then a snide voice inside him says: you fucking coward.  Wake the fuck up.

Right.  He rings the bell, orders a round of shots, and gets up to dance.  There are far more stories to be told and heard after all, something that can't be done in silence.  He wonders what could have made him almost forget this, but then he gives himself to the music and doesn't think at all.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Truth in Advertising!

When life sucks and you've got very little to live for, especially if you are a middle aged adjusshi always getting the shit end of the stick at home, there is always soju!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dirty Bird Special!

It's Wednesday night, and as will sometimes occur when the moon is right, Waeg finds himself out on the town.  He has made the somewhat dubious decision to meet up with Dirty Bird; a night out with Dirty Bird often begins with copious consumption of alcoholic beverages and ends in licentiousness and depravity.   However, it had been a while since Waeg had seen Dirty Bird, and DB's voice on the phone had seemed. . . sublimated.  It had confused Waeg, so he put aside his reservations and made out for the town.

They meet up at a favorite waeg watering hole known as the Kraken, it being famous for a huge selection of (expensive) beers and (more expensive) single malt whiskeys.  When he sees Dirty Bird, Waeg sees he has eschewed his normal attire of sports jersey, jeans, and ballcap, opting instead for khakis and a collared shirt.  Waeg sits, perplexed.

Hiya Waeg, been a while, how's the wife and kids?  Life in general?  Good, good.  Me?  Yeah, things have been going pretty well, I re-signed at Lee's English Emporium, yeah that third place you hooked me up with.  They've been pretty decent, actually helped me get everything sorted, even hooked me up furniture wise, well, everything except the awesome couch I found on the side of the street, that was a bitch to bring in, let me tell you!  You should come over sometime and check my digs!  Well, yeah maybe sometime later.  Yeah, I've changed man, this gig is one of the better ones I've had, and the secretary is H-O-T, hot, man, she's really cool too, not like most birds, you know what I mean?  She's pretty nice, and cooks a mean scrambled eggs haha nudge nudge wink wink.  I kid, I kid!  But yeah, why the change?  I dunno, man, but every since the folks at work have been telling me I'm special, and like meaning it, I've just felt. . .good.

Special.  Waeg lets that word linger a bit, and resists the urge to spit it out.  In his experience, whenever a Korean says you are special, they will usually say it in a very sincere meaningful way, but what they are saying is either you require a great deal of attention and patience since you are a social train wreck, or they belong to a weird religious cult and are attempting to bring you into the fold.  Waeg is confused as to why it would have such an effect on Dirty Bird, as he is sure Dirty Bird knows the term means pretty much the same thing back home, but when Waeg mentions this DB dismisses him:

No dude, you don't get it, it's not like that at all!  They really appreciate me, you don't understand!  In all my time in kimchi land I've always been treated like a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of the shoe of society, but these people are different.  You should see the office they've set me up in, and the apartment!  I really feel like I've found a home, man!

Waeg takes in everything Dirty Bird says, and wonders if maybe the staff at Lee's English Emporium haven't been spiking his coffee with some lithium based pharmaceutical.  Waeg feels he should intervene and say something about Dirty Bird's change, but then stops himself: everyone deserves a chance to be happy.  If Dirty Bird has found a niche that brings him a modicum of contentment, why should Waeg be the one to piss in his cornflakes?  Likely it's just a temporary shift anyway, and will pass.  So why not let Dirty Bird enjoy his moment in the sun?

The conversation switches to random things, and after a few games of darts, Waeg decides to call it a night.  In the past Dirty Bird would insult, cajole, insist that the party continue, but in keeping with his new self, the pair pay up and head home.

On the walk, Waeg thinks more about the change in Dirty Bird, and wonders about happiness, and having a sense of place.  For waegs living in Korea, finding that sense of place can be near impossible, often fitting within very narrow borders limited to a very small group, without the bells and whistles of an extended community.  Waeg imagines the sincerity and warmth those at Lee's English Emporium would have plastered on their faces as they tell Dirty Bird over and over just how special he is, and how that just might make Dirty Bird feel alright about everything; it is a rare and special thing to feel included as an expat in Korea.  But he stops his musings and decides to wait a couple of months and see how it plays out.  With Dirty Bird, you just never know.

Waeg picks up his pace, and thinks about nothing at all.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween!

This year Halloween is a bit tame at this waeg's house: jack-o-lanterns, a small party at a local indoor playground, a few games, spiced with more than enough candy to incite coma inducing sugar highs in all the children.

In the past, preparations have been more elaborate, with parents shuttling around gaggles of children in a caravan, moving from one house to another. Each house would be decorated, the kids would play a game or two, and of course get more treats for their candy horde.

This year most were too busy to plan something similar; even getting up to Costco to buy bags of sweet delicious candy was a task.  As an aside, Costco already has all their Christmas gear out FYI, but I digress.  I'm sure the kids won't mind our plans too much, as they'll be bouncing on trampolines and generally running wild; however, the lack of costumes has depressed me somewhat, as it is the coolest part of the festivities. It is about maintaining traditions, and when I was a kid Halloween was one of the coolest days of the year, even more fun than Christmas at times.

I guess there always is next year. I'll have to start on the hype with the girls in August or September at the latest.

Time for coffee.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Me and My Big Mouth

Sometimes people say all kinds of crap without thinking about it too much.

This blog is a case in point.  I just speak my mind, when I should just sit quietly. 

Lately, Mr. Na two cubicles down has decided to be my friend. Any long term waeg will know what this means: some random person decides they want a waeg friend, sets you in their sights, and before you know it you are being invited to participate in Chorwon's World Famous Eggplant Festival. This usually isn't such a bad thing, since at times you actually can make a good friend, but often the 'friendship' devolves into lessons on how to properly appreciate and respect all things Korean. But I digress.

Mr. Na is a bit different in this regard: he has been bouncing his creative ideas off me. Today, he handed me a treatment for a script he's writing. He wants to make a movie, and he came by to ask what I thought of the idea. This was what I read:

Year 2044.  Resources are scarce, especially oil and natural gas.  Japan and Korea are on the brink of war over the valuable gas deposits around Dokdo.  After finally wresting control of the World Ocean Council and the International Cartography Association from the hands of a newly resurgent imperial Japan, the case seems finally settled as Dokdo becomes once again Korean territory.  However, Japan refuses to let full possession; if they can't get the gas, no one will.  They try to nuke the islands to prevent Korea from exploiting the resources, since this would allow Korea to become the most powerful country in Asia.  Their plan is foiled when the newly deployed nuclear shield, invented by Korean scientists, stops the missiles.  The world knows the truth, and Japan is isolated and faces extreme sanctions.

Mr. Na, who do you think will want to watch this movie?

Mr. Waeg, I hope to make it a short film that will be shown to elementary and middle school students.  They must be made aware of the dangers the future holds, and know that they study towards useful ends.  Their minds will create the technology that will ensure Korea's future, and they will be the diplomats and scholars who will cement Korean power in world organizations.  They know Dokdo is Korean territory, but they must know what that means and be ready to fight for it!

I felt my eye twitch, and looked at him.  Mr. Na, I know well the narrative that Koreans tell themselves about Dokdo, and I don't doubt it is Korean territory.  But quite frankly don't you think this whole Dokdo thing has gone too far and for too long?  I mean, all I have to do is mention Dokdo in front of a group of Korean kids and their reaction borders on the insane.  Isn't this more akin to what Machiavelli discussed in The Prince, where leaders should know and encourage the prejudices of the populace so that they can manipulate them when it is politically expedient?  Aren't you helping to create a generation of reactionaries instead of rationally engaged people?  How do you expect to aid in kids' education and help them become global leaders if you are simply teaching them to become jingoists, similar to the folks up north?  Just then my phone rang, and Mr. Na went off in a huff.

Now I'm sure Mr. Na is mad at me.  He wouldn't look at me and is obviously stewing.  He was simply trying to make small talk and be nice, to engage in conversation, and instead of just playing nice, I became asshole incarnate.  Who knows what the future may hold; maybe there is a need to present a strong united front.  So why?  I guess I was just thinking about my own kids, and how one day I expect them to come home and ask if I know that Dokdo is Korean territory.

Now, I do believe that stupidity is a universal constant, and I'm hoping he won't hold a grudge against me and that his panties aren't in a knot about it.  From experience, these types of conversation never end well.  You can't win and it's best to just smile.  When will I ever learn?

Monday, October 28, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

Thanks for the tunes, in the same way you're thanking Andy Warhol for the in.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grudge!

Any long term salty waeg is well aware of the persistent vilification of all things foreign by the mainstream Korean press. The long term waeg has no illusions as to the so-called positives they'll find in what passes as news: puff pieces that celebrate and exalt all things Korean, such as the numerous articles of waegs making kimchi or wearing hanbok while dancing Gangnam style in front of Lee Sun Shin's statue. Sadly, it is a safe bet that most waegs on this most finest of peninsulas are humanities graduates who will argue that these few puff pieces do not allow waegs any real agency in their lives. In my experience, it is best to defer to the words of Jean Rasczak, who taught how social scientists nearly brought us to the brink of chaos.

However, for those that persist, understand: Koreans are generally encouraged to think waegs are bad people, because they are taught to live their lives harboring a grudge against those perceived as more powerful. As such, the news is usually about either unqualified, immoral, English teachers, misbehaving American GIs, or some egregious slight that not only insults and diminishes the messianic quality of the great Corean Nation, but the entire Corean history and ancestry as well. This becomes even more intense if the slight involves that most holy of holies, the kvagina.

Deal with it as my Aussie brothers would say. Harden the fuck up.



However, this most sympathetic and most epic shill of all things Korean must set the record straight!

A first on the F5Waeg! So listen:

Sexual politics. The waeg being seen as the defiler, come to abuse and rape all Korean women, and by extension, the nation. The waeg portrayed as seeing all Korean women as playthings, easy to collect, just as easy to disentangle themselves from.

Such a 1980s mindset, that even then was based more on fear and insecurity than reality.

So Korea: why don't you also harden the fuck up, and share 'your' women? I'm not talking about the 'used up' ones you send overseas to exploit (because after all, only Korean men are allowed to exploit anything on this most perfect of peninsulas); I'm talking about Korean men being men as opposed to little mama's boys thinking they can own the unownable. This mentality might have worked fine and well thousands of years ago, when defending the women was necessary to ensure the continuation of the community, but that tribal mentality doesn't have a place in the modern world, with the reality of what community has come to mean.

Thanks for supporting the sterotype by the way, that Asian men can't compete, by trying to hide away 'your' women or treat them like garbage if they dare associate with the dreaded waeg; I know it must be hard, but that's what she said.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So many kinds of wrong

Normally I would post this kind of thing on a Friday, but there has been so much of this vapid stoopid shit coming my way of late I just can't help myself. 

Considering the first song, maybe we should call this edition:

So many kinds of Wong.









Monday, October 14, 2013

Africa!

As soon as I saw these, I had to buy them. Probably won't smoke them, as who in their right mind would want to smoke a bunch of leaves dried by baboons over an open fire?

Some might see this brand as an extension of an imperialistic colonial mentality, what with Korea and other Asian countries exploiting Africa; however, these naysayers obviously know nothing of the special Korean situation: it isn't exploitation, it's all about bringing much needed Hallyu~! to the masses.

Gotta hand it the guys in marketing at This cigarettes; they certainly do come up with some unique packaging despite selling a pretty awful product; but then in Korea, the packaging often is more important than the content.  The bottom of the pack says: "Golden Sun Dark Dawn". I have no idea what that means, but I know having read it is an added bonus for purchasing number one world best Korean cigarette.

Time for a puff.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good Drone!

Greetings all, waeg here reporting from the warm confines of my wannabe man den!

Apologies for light posting; work has been seriously full on the last few weeks, what with the bi-yearly visit from our Singaporean partner, quarterly reports, and the usual heaps and heaps of paper work.

Throw in some nasty office politics, and you have the perfect shit storm to distract from writing about my boring mundane life!

Sure, there has been the usual baking of cookies, cakes, casseroles, and soups that I could have rambled on about, but I decided to give those a pass for the last bit.  Once I start posting recipes I know I might as well go choose my tomb plot on a mountain somewhere.

A number of my friends are starting to get annoyed by my repeated absences.  I'm a terrible friend, trying to make plans weeks ahead which often get changed due to family responsibilities or simple fatigue.  What a lame-o!

Really nothing too much to report, save that as tomorrow is most wonderful Korean Language Celebration Day, I've decided to get into some rice wine.  Chiaksan number one world best dongdongju baby! 

yum!
Tomorrow I plan on sleeping until at least 8 and riding out the incoming typhoon.  I've got a nice stack of books that I may actually get to, including the newest Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, and a bunch related to marketing and behaviorism.  Good times, good times.

I may write some more later.  But first, another nip or six of that delicious rice wine.

Friday, September 27, 2013

NIN!

The new Nine Inch Nails came out a while back, and like a good fan boy I went out and ordered it along with a couple of t-shirts.

What can I say?  I'm a child of the 90s, and was at Woodstock 94.  I've seen NIN in concert four times.  Yes, angry Caucasian music with lyrics full of self loathing, self doubt, and existential angst appeal to me.  There is no shame in this corner of the waegosphere.

So for your listening enjoyment, here are my three favorite tracks.  Best cue up the second to follow the first immediately, although if you want the full F5waeg experience, listen to the third like thirty times:






Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chestnuts!

A few of the chestnuts
Happy Harvest Moon Festival all, here's hoping you are drunk, eating ridiculous amounts of delicious food, and not doing any work whatsoever!

This waeg's family decided to get out with some friends and have one last go camping near Gapyeong, outside of Mogog, along the fabulous Hongchon river!

While there was stoopid amounts of grilled flesh, a live jazz band, fireworks, swimming, and gallons of whiskey and beer, this year will forever be known as The Great Chestnut Bonanza.

By chance, we found a quiet little spot surrounded by chestnut trees. Within minutes of arriving, the girls had excitedly amassed a nice little pile of the delicious nuts. This proved to be nothing compared to the massive pile we've collected over the last couple of days. We've become chestnut crazy, running off as soon as we hear some hit the ground, creating fantasy worlds where we explain how all the spiders, wasps, worms, and beetles are golden colored due to living off glorious chestnuts.  The chestnuts have become everything, including a reason to stay an extra night, as the amount of nuts we will collect will certainly cover the cost of our site fees.

The only issue now is the husking of the nuts: they will only keep for a couple of weeks if refrigerated, so they'll need to be cooked, husked, and frozen if we want to enjoy chestnut deliciousness come Christmas. I figure I'll run a Craigslist ad and hire a couple of Chinese workers. I'll pay them in damaged nuts, kimchi, and of course, husks.

A number of people have shown up hoping to pick up nuts, but generally have left disappointed at how few there are.  The disappointed ones were far more numerous when we had the nuts squirreled away inside our tent, ostensibly to keep them in a cool dark place.  The pile began to take up the whole entrance way, and as I mused aloud on what to do, the owner of the place told us to take as many as we wanted, give them to our friends and family; this wasn't something she needed to tell me twice, so out they came as we no longer had to hide the fact that we'd been picking up nearly every single nut that fell.  I moved them all out into the hammock, so I could move them around more easily: chestnuts lose up to 50% of their weight in humidity within days of being picked, and if you pack them in too tightly without proper ventilation, mold will soon ruin your entire batch.  No longer having to pretend to simply pick up a few stray nuts here and there, the collection took a serious turn, as first we decided that we needed to fill a cooler, then a Costco bag, then the cooler and the Costco bag.

However, once the chestnuts were out in the open, someone pretty much needed to stay at the site all the time: not that any one would steal our chestnuts, I'm sure, but best to remove temptation.  Several people came over and gaped at the sheer nut insanity that filled the hammock; the oddest being a woman who left with a 'now I've seen everything' look on her face after she had asked me why I had collected so many nuts, as if it were strange that someone would want to pick up free money lying all over the ground.  I merely replied because they're delicious?  I couldn't bring myself to admit that I'd be parking my mother in law down at the local market first thing Monday morning to sell them off at about 150 Won per nut.  That seemed cruel.

The worst situation was when a neighbor came to visit, and loudly exclaimed that the owners should have called him right away as soon as the nuts started falling, so he could have come over and collected a bunch before they had all been scooped up.  That we were standing beside our massive golden pile I'm sure wasn't lost on him, but we simply pretended to be so at peace in the awesomeness of our wilderness surroundings that we couldn't possibly begin to register the presence of such a bore.  I have to give him credit for really trying to get our attention, by walking past our site several times stating to the world in general how he hadn't been called and missed out on the mass of the harvest.  As this didn't get any reaction from us, he then took to sitting at the end of the campground chugging bottles of soju and bemoaning his lot in life.  The way I looked at it was he could have come over and tried to actually start up some small talk, work the facts he had stated nicely into the conversation; I probably would have given him some, although I get the sense the couple of kilos I would have offered him wouldn't have tempered his indignation.

On the way home, I wondered if perhaps the lady had told us to take as many as we wanted to deny this neighbor his chance to mooch off them for the 26th year in a row; when you live in a small village, with the same neighbors for years and years, sometimes the relationship can be akin to an abusive marriage, with one party putting up with the shit to maintain some semblance of peace while the other works at the destruction of not only themselves but all those around them.  This way she would have a chance to laugh at him later, while being blameless for the reality of the situation.  He did seem the type, wearing a wife beater and all.

But now I've just heard another bunch drop, so best get to them.  I do need that second kimchi refrigerator after all. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Low Brow!

Things have been a little too celebratory of the low brow in this waeg's sphere the last while.

oh rly?

As a final hooray to exorcise the demons of sloth, confusion, and spite, it seems fitting to play some old skool metal:










Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Deep End!

I was soundly asleep when the youngest woke me: daddy, can you get me some water?

Usually she just gets that for herself.  She's competent and capable.  I knew she wanted attention.

Sure darlin'.  Be right back.

She drank deep and feel back asleep instantly.  This waeg however, could not.

So I hit the youtube.  I've got literally thousands of vids saved, so I went through the list.  After a few predictable boring choices, I clicked one I hadn't heard in a while:



Which brought me to an older version:



While listening, I thought: angry black people will rant that this is what happens when you put too much stock in white people.  You make the original all gospel to sell records, and feel dirty about it, maybe, since you know it is apart of you, but still a part, yet far from what you could have been if you had had the same tools, and didn't have to scrape; then 75 years later some white guy who lived through his moment of angst 45 years prior remixes it for some flick and makes more than you did that entire year, inflation adjusted. Then some Asian girl makes it her own as a means to deal with her own personal demons.  You might still feel good about how it still lives, and makes people sing, but if you're angry you won't entertain that until you've gone and gotten yourself dirty in some similar way.

Sign me up.  Oh wait, I already am?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tomato!

Any long term waeg worth their salt will have at some point drunkenly ranted on about the ridiculous regional festivals found throughout this greatest of peninsulas. 

What these waegs don't get is that their excessive whinging and hand wringing is beginning to corrupt the purity of ancient Korean traditions dating back to the late 1990s.  These types of festivals aren't supposed to be just about throwing yourself off a mock cliff while holding the effigy of a Japanese officer, (as the logo at the top of the link states, "Be Inspired!") in Jinju, or contracting a skin disease at the mud festival in Boryeong; it's about drawing in as many tourist won as possible while engaging the locals in chest thumping celebrations of local pride to help reduce one of the world's highest suicide rates.

Sadly, this reality has been dismissed and undermined by judgmental waegs and led to the neutering of these most necessary traditions, all in the effort to appear more in tune with global sensitivities.  This was evidenced in the recently held Dunnae tomato festival.

Curious when I saw the poster, I called the number to find out more: no, there would be no tomato crushing. No, there would be no tomato hurling. And no, you could not eat your tomato with salt at the event: sugar was mandatory. Yes, you could eat them with salt after making your purchase once in the confines of your home, but everyone knows tomato is best with sugar!  So please buy many many 3000 won glasses of freshly made sweetened tomato juice!

I asked the nice lady on the other end how the festival was to serve as an outlet for the pent up frustration of living in Dunnae if people weren't given the opportunity to hit their annoying neighbor with that damn dog that never shuts up squarely in the face with a half rotten tomato.  I questioned the vision of Dunnae's town elders who decided to host a tomato festival which didn't involve some form of barely controlled chaos.  She suggested I avail myself of the opportunity to visit the exhibit on specially created Dunnae tomato, and instead purchase many many kilograms of world unique under-ripe tomatoes from farmers at above market value.  Dunnae tomatoes are number one world best, and can cure cancer and hantavirus!

At this point I called her a globalization shill and suggested they hire me as the festival organizer for next year if they were truly intent on profiting from excessive tomato crops while reducing incidences of farmers drinking pesticides.  This was when she hung up.  I figure I'll wait a few weeks and call again; someone has to do it, and if the Dunnae city council is too scared of misinformed waeg blogs mocking these most necessary forms of social release, I will act in their stead.  The potential for big fun is too great, and if you've ever been to Dunnae, you know it needs a real festival more than many a place on this fine peninsula.  My first step will be to head over to Dave's ESL Cafe and other hotbeds of waeg sedition to attack those who would dare befoul the honest and carefree nature of all people native to the fine, fine Korean peninsula.

Don't wish me luck: I am fire incarnate, ready and willing to act, and have no need of fairy tale ideas of fortune.  While some may see it as a burden, I know I act most righteous and pure, an ideal I learned from my most generous Korean hosts that is too near extinction. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

So many kinds of wrong

Some of these are past their due date, but what the hey

Watching the first and the second at the same time makes the lols exponential.

So many kinds of wrong











Something lighter and nice to end:



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Big Smoke!


Greetings all, waeg here reporting from the streets of Itaewon.

After a 5 day camping extravaganza, I find myself in the big smoke being stoopid.

I have a hugely important meeting tomorrow, and I have to hit the Costco before heading back to the Wonj.

Luckily, some peeps stood up and represented and ensured I didn't get lost. As such, I'm not squirelled away in some trashy nightclub blowing my cash on some trashy whore.

Tired now. Time for sleep.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Independance!


Greetings reader, F5Waeg here reporting from the wilds of gangwon province!

As today is one of the many official Korean holidays recognizing the replacement of the Japanese colonial yolk for a whiter variety, I dragged the fam out to the wilds of gangwon province to enjoy some quality time getting wet and grilling obscene amounts of butchered flesh.

While I could be somewhat irked that I did not butcher the flesh myself, I was quite pleased by the results of my grilling adventure: a couple of nice slabs of pork, beef, and thickly sliced potatoes being the main draw. For better or worse, I'm not into the Korean habit of eating everything that can be thrown into a pot, as evidenced by the amply equipped 'fisherman' stationed in front of my tent, who is excessively excited for having caught two minnows, but I digress.

Really nothing more to say save I'm about 2 bottles of whiskey in. June was positively flirtatious today, but that's just her trying to get me back in her orbit. It always happens when she senses I'm getting too far away and other females are paying too much attention.

Time for some more whiskey.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dog!

dog soupDuring my long sojourn on this fine peninsula, I've always avoided eating one food: dog.

This was partly due to my western sensibility of seeing dogs as being far from food; dogs have been great human companions for millennia, and eating one just seemed wrong.

I had another reason for not eating them, a traumatic experience during my first year in the sunshine ROK: I had been invited to hang out with a bunch of adjusshis at a remote camp in the deep wilds of Gangwon province, to drink and generally have a good time bonding. One guy had brought along a dog in a cage, which I didn't think too much of until early the second day. Fido seemed fairly pleasant and excited despite being in a rough metal cage, and I suggested we let him out to run around and get some exercise. At the time, everyone laughed at me; as I didn't understand what was being said, all I could do was smile along. When two of the guys dragged him out to a remote part of the camp, I understood why they had laughed.

The two guys tied the hind legs and hung him from what I thought was a chin up bar. When he was tightly secured, they used what resembled small baseball bats to work the dog over. I knew then that I was truly in another place, far from Kansas, where the normal rules did not apply. The howls and yelps only seemed to spur the guys on. When they took a blowtorch to burn the hair off I asked the guy who had invited me if I could be brought to the nearest bus stop; the dog may still have been alive at that point, or it may simply have been the involuntary twitching of the muscles, but I'd had enough.

In the car, he asked if it had bothered me; when I didn't respond his voice got an edge I'd never heard before: he said he thought I'd be alright with the whole thing, since I liked to talk about hunting, gutting animals and the like. He thought I was a real man who could stomach it. All I could say there is a difference between killing an animal on the hunt and purposefully beating one slowly to death. We didn't really hang out after that.

Twelve years later, I find myself in a dog restaurant. The atmosphere is light and congenial, the conversation witty and sanguine. One of the party needles the old lady in the restaurant until she brings us the delicacy, a huge steamed dog phallus. Everyone tucks in, one of the party joking about how it is his second time to eat dog soup that day, and how it is a shame his wife is so far away.

I find the meat too soft, the phallus sponge like. Still, I eat heartily, and the free flow of wine and beer make the whole experience jovial.  I dry the bone from the phallus and hide it in my pocket, something to remind me later of just how people can change given time and circumstance.  Whatever.  The best thing is I didn't feel even a little bit dirty.  We are far from Kansas after all.  Step up or go home, right?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beach!

Today I decided that it would be a fantastic idea to reschedule my one meeting, bundle the fam into the van, and head for the beach.

We spent the day in Gangneung, getting cooked in the sun and replenishing the sand in the van.  This was overdue, as we haven't been to the beach in some time. Luckily, I recently cleaned the van, so now we can enjoy the beach again and again whenever we see the silica crystals scattered throughout the interior of our main mode of transportation.

Highlights today included several nice bikini girls (no photos allowed for waegs!), watching three guys get rescued by speedboat when their parasail rental proved a bit more unwieldy than anticipated, and a gaggle of old guys setting up next to us who slogged back the soju while swimming in bathing suits that were essential see through when wet.  This last was particularly amusing as we'd initially chosen a side beach since it was supposedly more kid friendly.  Don't know about the girls, but I know I've been scarred.

Just finished our obligatory raw fish dinner.  We had red snapper.  It was delicious.

At a trendy cafe now.  Had a Guatemalan and a Kenyan. Suppose I should collect the fam and head back to the Wonj.  Several ice cold cans of Max await.

                             *                               *                             *

Back.

The drive to the Wonj was fine, some rain.  As we were leaving, many smoking hot 20 somethings kept emerging from hotel rooms wearing slinky tight numbers.  From past experience, Gyeongpo beach can get pretty hot in summer, with every hotel having a back patio party.  Hopping from party to party, room to room was a great time years back, when a crew including dirty bird, the architect, the hand actor and I spent 3 inglorious days rutting out all kinds of fine ladies.  Good times, good times.

Decided to go with the rice wine before the Max.  There is work to be done tomorrow, but as long as I stick to a single bottle all should be well.

Cheers.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Horse!

The three night camping extravaganza was a blast: swimming, barbeque insanity, even a taste of rain, with Thursday night being a pretty drunk albeit largely quiet one.  Most of the time I don't dig camping in such close quarters, since I know I'm constantly being watched.  I'd much rather have my closest neighbor a good 2-300 meters away, thank you very much, just so I can truly get into the camping vibe and not always overhear  conversations or work at not getting annoyed by crying babies parked less than ten meters from me on either side.  Call me crazy, but I'd like to swim, talk to my kids, go for walks and drink some beer without so much distraction.  Sadly, as a waeg, when in such close quarters one is expected to act above reproach, as you represent your entire species, so I get a bit uptight.  I try to find a nice balance, only occasionally having a nice big fire with loud laughter and music, but I digress.

The highlight of the day was when another old Wonju hand and I saved a woman's life.

We'd decided to get away from the kids and man talk, and were on our way to explore a quieter side road that led higher into the mountain.  We walked along and talked: he about how much he'd like to fuck my wife, I about the two falling outs we'd had over the 12 years we'd known each other.  In the distance, some guy decked out in full Korean hiking gear (walking stick and expensive polymer clothing essential), gesticulating wildly.  He was talking on his phone darting this way and that, to the stream, bringing water, looking towards us, up the trail.  What is that guy doing?  Is he out of it?  As we got closer, we saw the woman on the ground.

She'd been stung by a bee.  Her neck was slightly swollen, her body cold, flushed face, shallow breathing.  No hives or bubbles though, which was a good sign.  Dude was on the phone with the ambulance, trying to tell them where he was.  He intended on staying where he was until they showed.  Wat?

We went into action.  I didn't feel comfortable ripping her pants down to see if there was still a stinger, waegs generally being seen as sex crazed perverts.  Instead, my buddy ran ahead to warn the people we were coming, and I made to carry her on my back.  Dude, like a man, jumped in and said no, I'll do it.  Good on you.  I grabbed their stuff and trucked along behind, as it looked like he may drop her at any time.  He was an older guy, pretty small and frail; luckily, his wife was also a wisp of a thing.  Still, he'd made it about half way when it was obvious he wasn't going any further.  I tried to take her on my back, but for some reason dude couldn't wrap his head around how he should help her get into a piggy back position, and instead only passed her to me front side.  I'm like aight not a big problem, and pushed her up as if I was carrying a kid and trucked along.  Buddy met me and immediately positioned himself correctly to receive, onto his back, onto the cleared deck.  Dude runs to get his car, and takes about 5 minutes to figure out how to get it in properly.   We load her in the car and they're off.  Apparently they met the ambulance about half way down the valley and they whisked her off to a hospital.  No idea how things ended, but by the time we had gotten her to the little store with the deck, it did seem that she had improved over when we first saw her.

The fams didn't seem that impressed about our heroic life saving deed, but maybe it was just in the telling.  Some things just can't be told in a way that does them justice.

Later that day, the wives and kids went home, and the guys took their time tearing down the site.  The fams were to come back later in the evening for more barbeque, so we got to it and grilled up most of the food we had left.  In the process, we decided to be friendly with our neighbors by parting out corn, sausages, and roast pig; buddy did an oops by dropping a bunch of meat than giving away too much of the good stuff, causing the ladies understandable irritation when they arrived.  To be fair, we didn't know if the fams had eaten as they wouldn't answer the phone; but still, best to hold off on the philanthropy until we know.  I sensed it was gonna happen, and luckily had brought sweet potatoes, which did lighten things somewhat once they were baked in foil.

Home now.  Thinking of what to do.  Would like to avoid any major spots with tons of people, but June keeps pushing for uber crowded places.  It's a constant row, her logic being all the best places are where all the people are, I how that fact doesn't make those places awesome at all.   Probably best just to stay home and take the girls out for a nice long walk.

But first, time for coffee.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Camping 3.9!

Sorry to those who care that I haven't been posting all my camping stories; been going out fairly steady since January, with a break in March.

This week we're out at what has become a pretty popular spot in Umdun-ri, in beautiful Yeongwol county. It's been threatening to rain, but so far the weather has been fine. We're sticking around until Saturday, two families with several day visitors to join.

The worst part is that like most Korean camping spots, the sites are placed much too close together. This usually isn't a big problem as we come on the off season. Since it is the busiest summer vacation week, we are pretty much packed in like sardines.

At least the water is nice and the beer is cold. We've constructed a flotilla of inflatable tires and a boat, and send the kids down a small waterfall much to their delight.

The kids have been after me for the last 30 minutes to go back into the water. Suppose it is time to get wet again.

But first, maybe another quick Max.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Burrito!


Friday night, Itaewon. After a long couple days of meetings, waeg is free and hitting the town with some of his favorite peeps. Food is on the mind, so he and a bud cruise up to some trendy Mexican hole in the wall to get some solid grub.

As they survey the menu, his bud muses out loud that there are no burritos on the menu.

Before waeg can respond, what appears to be a FOB SoCal gyopo decides to enlighten these obviously misguided waegs: no, he nearly sneers, this is an authentic Mexican restaurant: they don't serve burritos here.

Both waeg and his bud stare in disbelief. The bud is a NoCal native, having grown up around a lot of Latinos. When he states this fact to the interloper, he is met with nothing but a disdainful yet pitying gaze.

The two leave. The place is closing, and they have no time or garnishes for more orders. The pair walk down to chili chili taco and enjoy a decent meal.

Just remember: burritos are not Mexican. Mind, I'd have to agree with the bud who said this is akin to saying szechuan hot pot isn't Chinese food, simply a local speciality. While it is technically both, this knowledge won't help the poor burrito searching masses.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dull!

Today I sat around and did no work at all.

I spent the day looking at stoopid cat pictures on the internetz, and thought about as little as possible.

I used to consider this a coping mechanism: from time to time, you need to shut the brain off and not think too much.  Read some comics, play some games, look at cat pictures.  But these type of days have become too frequent.

An easy response would be: time for a change.  Stop doing whatever.  Get out of the comfort zone and live a little.

Save every time I've done that over the last year the results have been. . . dull.

I've got meetings up in Seoul on Thursday.  They'll work out that I'll be up in the evening in a nice hotel and then free most of Friday.  Maybe it's time to see if I can get my game back on.  Maybe I can find a cookie cutter wannabee who needs some encouragement. 

I'd say time for some Max, but I'm fresh out and the bottle of Jameson's calling my name has a camping schedule attached to it.

But then, not like I can't get another, and it does seem fitting what with that phony vid starring wannabee bog trotting mick bastards that's been getting the waegosphere all worked up the last couple weeks.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You Tubin'

Any cursory glance at vids posted on this stoopid blog would see music tastes to be eclectic and varied.  Wouldn't want to disappoint:








Thursday, July 11, 2013

ADHD!

The youngest hasn't taken to first grade so well:  a while back she had what could best be described as an 'episode'.  She decided that what was going on in class truly sucked donkey balls, and when the teacher wouldn't let her do her own thing, she climbed out the window and took off.  One of the other dads happened upon her wandering and crying in the street, and when he brought her back the teacher at first refused to let her in the class: it wasn't her responsibility to constantly watch all 16 of her first graders, and since the youngest was proving too defiant, she would have to go elsewhere.

When I heard this from the dad (friend of mine), it was only thanks to June's pleading that I didn't immediately go down to the school and rip the teacher's head off.  June did have a point: if I went in and demanded an explanation, the youngest could find herself in a much bigger world of hurt.  I still can't get how a grade one teacher who has only 16 students can't find herself responsible for watching over her charges for about 5 hours a day, but I'm guessing it probably has to do with me not trying hard enough to understand her culture.

The youngest has always been a handful, always busy, always on the move.  Reminds me of myself, the dude who has the dubious achievement of getting kicked out of kindergarten for failing naptime.  I did once pick the lock on the bathroom door when the teacher was inside taking a dump, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.

When I was a kid I constantly needed new things, new challenges.  At the time, the term ADHD was just beginning to become trendy, so I was stuffed full of Ritalin, placed in a Montessori style class, and proceeded to 'adjust'.  I was lucky that my parents encouraged me to do many kinds of after school activities, and they probably saved me from a life of (serious) crime.  They also didn't keep me on the meds for long, as they didn't like the change in personality they saw.  So keeping the youngest occupied has been our focus for some time, but the vice principal of the school still insisted we get her tested.

The result?  Supposedly she not only has an IQ of 137, but is ADHD.  The doc recommended drugs and the equivalent of mild shock therapy.  When June showed the pills to me, I immediately squirreled them away and said a big NO to any type of therapy.  My view is that generally most ADHD diagnoses are horseshit: yes, some kids do need therapy and maybe meds, but they are generally the exception and have other problems.  It's just one way of talking about a certain personality type that is excessively active; prescribing too much medication will only cause more harm than good and is the easy way out.  If the environment the kid is in won't allow them the attention they need, move em.  Meanwhile, get the kid out running, swimming, focused on the diverse interests they have.

I said all this to June, the need for more diverse stuff to focus on and a more hands on approach to education in general.  If the teacher is a knob, we'll just have to try and limit the damage she can do, and make sure the youngest has enough to keep her attention.  She doesn't need all that stuff.  June finally accepted my view after attending a workshop in Seoul last weekend where they basically said the same.  Still, she is extremely anxious about the whole thing, and has recently started going to a more charismatic type of church, since it 'makes her feel happier than she ever has'.  Great.

This has been hard on both of us.  June has been bearing the most of it, hanging out at the school most mornings, just so the youngest knows she's there.  When I've secreted myself away from work to go, the youngest has been nothing but an angel.  Guess she knows that while daddy can be pretty fun and cool, he has a much lower tolerance for stoopid shit than mom does.

So the dilemma: the teacher insists one of us always be there, which of course is difficult at best.  June is talking about sending her to a Waldorf school up in Yongin; they'd move up there while I either found new work or stayed in the Wonj solo.  This does have some appeal, but then I do know the youngest would benefit more from having me around more of the time.  I'm wondering if maybe it isn't time to vacate Korea and head back home, as I know schools and teachers there are better trained to work with students who need different types of focus and attention.

The only up side so far?  I've got a nice prescription for Ritalin.  After talking to June, the doc figured I could probably use it.  I've been taking some for shits and giggles, but now have quite a number of extra doses.  They are certainly fun when camping.

Time for some Max.

Monday, July 8, 2013

American Dreamland~~!

The Dream of America!
Not too far from the Wonj is a depressing little theme park called American Dreamland.

It's been around since at least the 70s, and is a perfect example of the shift in tourism that has occurred in Korea: years ago, places like this would be seen as entertainment Meccas, since Koreans had very few options and a lack of perspective. The majority could not leave the country, so heading out to places like Chiaksan for a long weekend was considered a truly awesome experience.

This was made easier to swallow for most Koreans as they were generally brainwashed to think that the best apples come from Chungju, the best rice is from Icheon, and the best sunset in the entire universe can be seen rising over the East Sea. Why would you need to go anywhere else when the best of EVERYTHING can be found right here, right now??  If I were an apologist, I could say I understand the motivation of leaders to have people think that way, as domestic consumption needed to not simply be encouraged, but obligatory, in good mercantilist fashion.

With the opening of the country's borders in the late 80s, places like American Dreamland didn't stand a chance: why spend all that cash for a weekend at Chiaksan when for near the same price you could head off to the Phillipines, Thailand, or China, even if the place promised to give you a happy dream of that land of milk and honey, America? The end result is that dotted throughout the countryside are parks and tourist zones that are either closed, or look stuck in the 70s.  Even places like Everland, one of the most popular theme parks in Korea, have a kind of dated feel, stuck in a more golden profit time.  Despite that feel, we will go to Everland since there aren't many other options, and the youngest has been after me for more than a year as many of her friends have already been several times.

We went to American Dreamland many years ago and swore never to go again: at the time, not only did it look completely run down and unsafe, but the zoo it boasted was one of the more depressing examples of the human mistreatment of animals I'd ever seen.  Not only were the cages basic concrete slabs with rusting bars, but quite a few of the kids kept throwing all kinds of garbage, rocks, and instant ramen at the animals.  I got mad and started yelling at the kids, which didn't earn me too many friends among the parents, and we were asked to leave.

empty
The girls and I decided to check it out last weekend due to a recommendation from a coworker: it seems that it has been trying to reinvent itself by not only improving the lot of the zoo animals, but by expanding the zoo idea into an English Village. Basically, piles of waegs are bussed in on the weekends to work the rides and generally walk around speaking English, thus giving little Minsoo and little Jiwon the opportunity to practice their English.

Not sure why the owners thought this would work, as every English Village in the country has been bleeding money since the get go. These types of villages were supposed to stem the flow of cash overseas, as tens of thousands of students leave the country every vacation to study overseas. Conservative figures I've heard place the amount of cash flowing out for education at 3-4 billion US dollars a year.  The figure is probably at least another 1-2 billion more.

Most of the workers were students who come up every weekend; many of them seemed nice, cool, and Russian. Not that it really matters as long as they can speak English, but also that the place was nearly completely empty.  They seemed generally surprised that a waeg was there with kids.  Maybe I was more surprised that we had actually come.

Where is everybody? Probably in America.
While I will admit the new facilities for the zoo animals are an improvement over what I saw many years ago, the zoo was still pretty sad. We did see several varieties of chickens, venison, and dogs, with even a monkey and a couple bears. The lioness was probably hiding it her cave, which seems reasonable as it was ridiculously hot on Saturday.

Most of the rides seemed unsafe, but we did go on a few which was enough to entertain my elementary school aged children. This was made more OK by the fact that since we were waegs, we didn't have to pay for admission or tickets. Or so they said at the front gate.  Whether this meant only for general admission or the rides as well was unclear, but I was more than happy to say to all the ride operators we were told it was free.  No one said a word about it, so the whole day cost us 5000 won: 3 waters and 2 face paintings.

We only stayed a few hours then trucked it back to the Wonj. Despite being free, I don't think we'll be heading up again any time soon. 

Time for coffee.

Friday, July 5, 2013

So many kinds of wrong

This week: how to edition!

So many kinds of wrong











Bonus:



Monday, July 1, 2013

Mannatech!


Tonight I came home a bit earlier than usual (8:00 PM), to be greeted by June trying to push me into drinking a granular chocolate flavored gloop.  This will help you slim down, and quit smoking, and quit drinking!  It was created by Nobel prize winning scientists!

I looked at the container: "Mannatech!  With Ambrotrose and essential glyconutrients that will improve your quality of life!"

With that kinda pseudo-scientific babble, I had to do a google search.  It took me all of 3 minutes to sort out that it was a pile of malarkey, that the company had suffered huge losses from multiple lawsuits, that the company relied on pyramid sales to push their product, and that no independent scientific studies had proven increased cellular communication through the use of plant sourced saccarides.  I mean, just look at the former CEO in the pic: how could you trust anybody with a forehead that large sporting that cheesy insincere smile??

Apparently June got three containers of the crap for 12000 won, so it's not a huge loss.  But when I told her all this, she just said 'well, just wait and see if I become healthier!  Then we'll know for sure!'

So, um, despite what I've told you, you're still going to keep using this stuff even though it may actually cause you more harm than good?  But I left it at that, as I do indeed smoke and drink too much.

I got ready to get my rant on about how Koreans will buy any old crap if it has pseudo-scientific babble attached to it along with the words NOBEL PRIZE, but I remembered my grandmother: she constantly bought crap like that in the belief that it would help her lead a healthier life.  She also constantly went to a chiropractor, despite how often she could barely walk after coming back from a 'treatment', and ended up needing to use a wheelchair.  I always thought she really kept going because the 'doc' was a pretty good looking guy, and when you're old and sleep in a separate room from your spouse, human contact from anybody is appreciated.  Still, it did piss me off that she blew so much cash on stuff that was obviously not helpful.

Guess I should keep a more watchful eye on what kind of crap June brings into the house. 

Time for some lemonade.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Seven Springs!

I've never understood the prestige Koreans still accord to 'high end' chain restaurants (VIPS, TGIF, Outback, etc). To me, while going to one occasionally in years past was a marginally acceptable distraction from the soy bean paste soup and kimchi rice, generally those kinds of places serve overpriced crap food and are best avoided.  For some reason, I thought Koreans had twigged on to how crappy these kinds of places are and moved on.  I guess most of the peeps who go there are lower middle class and lack gastronomical experience; probably the same people who will pay near homeless waegs buckets of Won to teach their kids how to write the ABCs.  Or they are like June and have a mittful of coupons, and will insist on using them to 'stick it to the man', by providing all their personal information for the equivalent of the 40 bucks profit the restaurant would make off of her.

Waving her coupons in my face, I gave in and went to a Seven Springs in Gangnam last weekend. Admittedly I went in with a bad attitude: I knew the salad bar would suck, and that my medium rare steak would undoubtedly be improperly cooked.

I was somewhat pacified when I first walked in: nearly 85% of the clientele were youngish women, with a couple of very fine specimens. The only other guys in the place were either on dates, or had been roped in by their wives as well.

I did not remain pacified for long.  We were to get a small bottle of wine with our meal, but the only one offered was an obviously sickeningly sweet sparkling white.  Who serves sweet sparkling white wine with red meat?  A Seven Springs in Gangnam apparently.  Then there was the steak: the pic is of a twice cooked medium rare steak, essentially still blue rare - rare.  This is pretty much a standard offering in any chain steak restaurant I've been to in Korea. If I order it medium, I get a well done, but I still futilely order a medium rare despite knowing I'll probably get something that will moo when I cut into it.

I don't get it: the cooks must grill up a couple of hundred steaks a day; you'd think after a couple of weeks they'd know how to cook a steak proper. The only explanations I can come up with are that the staff turnover is horrendous (plausible), or they cook a frozen steak using the time required for a thawed one (probable). No one has yet had the temerity to ask: shouldn't we cook it a bit longer since it's frozen?  Hey Mr. Bad Attitude: rules are rules!  You must cook the steak according to the time on the sheet! 

I called the waitron over and asked why he was giving me a blue rare steak when I ordered medium rare.  Since I drank the coolaid years ago, I was prepared to not get too worked up, and wait for him to get the cook to at least warm it up to something a little more pink.  I couldn't contain myself when the waitron brought it back as in the pic, and merely apologized and offered a 20% discount on our next meal. Wait, you expect me to come back here again so I can get a measly 20% off?  Can't you see I'm wearing a Brooks Brothers suit here?  I should just say: Hey thanks, I am so grateful?!   Tell you what: why don't you go play hide and go fuck yourself?

And no, he had no idea we would be using coupons to pay, so don't even start on that, you apologist scum!

June interrupted my bitching by letting me know all her friends' husbands also go on about how terrible these 'high end' chain restaurants are: they would rather eat Korean food.

Not the same, I told her. I don't mind paying 60 bucks for a steak as long as it isn't less then a centimeter thick and is cooked the way I ask.

She probably won't suggest we go to one of those places anytime soon. I know a couple of very good steak places in Seoul; the cooks have been trained by 'experts' imported from overseas.  I'll have to take her to one sometime soon.

Time for bed.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fridge Thief!

As in many an office, a string of 'robberies' has occurred in many of the refrigerators around the company.

This morning a rather angry email from someone in marketing was sent around: it seems that the leftovers of a birthday cake and some cherries were taken from their fridge. 

Oh my gat!  Cherries?  Cherries?? Damn, someone is livin' the high life!  Maybe I should go walkabout some late night and help alleviate this poor waeg's food budget!

I could understand the anger if it was a question of food for someone with dietary restrictions or the like, but cherries and cake?  Whatever. 

Still, this first world problem has made quite the buzz around the company.  We even received an email from one of the COOs encouraging proper community spirit in the company.  I suggested they let me use some gentle persuasion to sort it out, but sadly no one seemed sweet on the idea.

I really have no idea who may be responsible for the purloined food, although I'd bet it's someone that would never be suspected.  I'd be happy as a pig in shit if that shifty little fucker in the print room got nailed for it, but then that's just me hoping that lazy SOB gets some kind of fire roaring under his ass so he may actually get some work done.

Time for some lemonade.