Monday, November 23, 2015

Another Job App in...

A not extremely well-paid job in Western Nebraska, but I'd happily take it.. multi-campus district, near a bunch of nature.. would certainly be the anti-Seoul

At this place:

Checked out the school and neighborhood demos and it seems like an alright place.

The usual problem of me being here and they being there are likely to arise, but we are getting closer to vacation.. so...^^

Anyway... good to get back into the practice of all the steps to the hiring process in the US. Quite different than here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Feeling Moved


When we last left our hero, he had overcome an ajussissy's stupidity and actually got moved into his rather grimy place. Now it's time to take a look. It's cheapish and scheduled to be demolished in the name of urban renewal. Walk about a kilometer away and you can see it already happening on the edges:

Houses and businesses already sacrificed on the altar of progress.

But this also give the neighborhood a certain cool griminess that I like. Here is a completely random abandoned storefront worrying about forest fires:

Right in the middle of no hills whatsoever

And a studio that is never open, but is always cool.
Tattoos? Book Covers? Paintings? I duuno, I just want one.
The rest of the neighborhood is typical "old" Korea with a bunch of shiny new stores selling crap from Samsung on the two big roads that cross and then funky little restaurants, veggie (야채)  stores and various little knick-knacks that I can't believe anyone would purchase. The funkiness is partly dented by the fact that, because it is a marginal neighborhood, it is also a kind of artist area, and there is even a two hour walk through the hood that shows off the various murals and art installations people have created. There's a map and a dotted yellow-brick road.

"follow, follow, follow, follow
But that picture should also give you an idea of the narrowness (if not the windiness) of the hood. And then, there's the fact that to even get to the place from the closest station on line 6 you must ascend Grim Mt. Doom.

And he's climbing a stairway towards infarction.
Then, finally, you get to the house and enter a small, always unlocked door which reveals an alley always ratpacked with junk - 김장 day was particularly dire as it was a veritable cave of cabbage and many other vegetables I could not begin to name:

Door inside door is to landlady's mad pad

On the right, which you can't see from the picture above, are some six-foot ranger (ask Jennifer) stairs

There's a double-back at the top of this that leads to my front door.

The next photo is the actual front door... please note utter pinkess of windows

It's all pink on the inside

And then to the inside, where the greatest feature of all is the bathroom. The space between the toilet and the overhead stairs is so small that the toilet cover will stand up, but the toilet seat will not. The old tenant acknowledged this cheerily and added, "so I just piss in the kitchen sink."

LOL.. not only too much information, but immediately changed how I thought that kitchen sink smelled.

Out came the bleach!

Yes. those are stairs to the rooftop behind the toilet, which make it impossible to keep the seat up. That metal you see on the lower left is the shower (You have to close the bathroom door and slide shut a curtain to keep from drowning the kitchen, and, yes, for some reason there is pink styrofoam on the bathroom seat. Don't think of it as "weird", rather think of it as a motif.
 The toilet had been "modded"

There's that pink styrofoam again
And you have the convenience of being able to both shower and do laundry from the convenience of the toilet itself.

The careful eye will see the edge of the toilet seat down there in the lower right-hand corner.

But someone had the sense of humor to put this on the bathroom door

The inside is cold... as you can see from the following pics, some previous tenant had invested in some pink styrofoam and tried to close off as many places as they could:

Yep, all that pink is styrofoam.

Part of the problem is the boiler is apparently assembled from parts salvaged from the Civil War - both the on in the Korea and the one a century earlier in the US:

I continue the efforts to insulate the place - fortunately this is the kind of neighborhood where people just toss shit out on the street, and I am the kind of scavenging rat which will pick up anything useful. Inside is actually nice and spacious"

Small, but more than adequate 
where the genius will be done

carefullly mosquito-netted bed, as they do manage to creep in
The hood, being a mix of family, art, and wreckage, is great... outside my kitchen window there's a pavilion where grandparents hang out to chat during the day (the inevitable bottle of makkeolli and anju always present). There's a school a bit up the hill, so there's about an hour each day that the kids wander home, playing and joking with each other. At about seven the sounds of ajjumah making dinner start banging around the neightborhood and then, with the exception of a sometimes whiney dog, all goes pretty quiet. It has a very "neighborhood" feel like Gyeongnidan (the old hood) did before the Kyuppies descended, so I'm rather happy with that.

I suckle away at a 40 oz bottle of soju, contemplate which of my kitchen knives is sharpest, and cruise the Internet for pictures of a dubious nature. So, all things told, pretty good.

When it gets below freezing I'm a bit worried about the hilliness of the area, as my fat ass and gravity seem to have come to an agreement to meet as often as possible and devil the hindquarters (so to speak), which are usually my elbows or the back of my head. We'll see how that works out.

I describe the place as adequate, but the kind of place I would NEVER move into if I were single, because the minute a woman saw it she'd run screaming, probably for the police. Til March, it should work. If June becomes necessary, it will work. After that its lack or Air Conditioning must make it some version of hell on earth, but on a hill.

Homey won't play that.^^

Any questions, class?^^

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Moving Experience; Part I


With Yvonne gone... betraying me and leaving me here alone in Korea, all of a sudden I was left with a three bedroom apartment and a gigantic rent. The first month she was gone I spent cleaning the aparment up and tossing out things I no longer needed as well as walking (by backpack) the things I did need (the microwave was an adventure in itself). Finally, I was in a spot where I could give notice to the Ajjumah, so after finding a small rooftop (sort of) in Mapo-gu I did. That weekend the landlady came up into the apartment and pointed out what she wanted to keep, that we had added to the furniture that was already there. This included two desks, a really nice bookcase, kitchen table, four chairs, and some kind of thingie that keeps kitchen stuff. We agreed that the nasty old mattress and the broken bureau should go.

I could have stayed until the 9th, but my new lease began on the 1st, and I wanted to give the landlady time to re-do the floor and wallpaper (a pretty normal procedure because it means you don't need to fix any real underlying problems like mold, or problems with the floor). So I told the old lady I'd try to finish moving on my three-day weekend.  On Monday, the third, the dickhead son shows up without warning and decides all the furniture has to go (completely reversing all the planning I had made with his mother the weekend before), and that it has to go right then (even though I'm not technically supposed to move out for a week) - typical Korean "fuck planning! WE DO NOW!").

This meant that I'd have to move all the shit downstairs. This I did alone - the prissy little dickhead of a son beamed, gave me two gloves saying "Korea working glove, best!" a process that exhausted his English. Then the lazy POS just watched me. Then it was off to the district office to fill out the recycling center to fill out the paperwork. In the car he attempted, in is broken English, to figure out someone as apparently out of shape as I am could so easily manhandle the furniture. I didn't mention that gravity had been my strong assistant and since I didn't care a shit if the stuff got dinged up it wasn't so much a "moving" as a semi-controlled fallling.

All this unplanned bullshit took the afternoon that I was supposed to be moving away to the new place, and cost a few paltry bucks in recycling (in this way, Korea is awesome. For less than 40 bucks they hauled it all away). Worse than the waste of this entire day was the additional "oh yeah, fuck you foreigner and your stupid foreign plans") way, that I had to be there in the morning to pull the recycling into the street - when I was supposed to be in a meeting with two Korean professors.

Complete freaking lack of planning by a complete moron.

At the same time, on the other side of town, the guy in my new place is freaking out, because he needs me to inspect the place for cleanliness and get the key, or he can't get his deposit back - and he needs it to apply immediately to his next house. The landlady for the new place is in Busan, so she can't check it out, and consequently I have to make it over there to get the next step done.

Finally, as night falls, all the bullshit with mama's boy ends and I cab over to the new place and take the keys, and call the landlady and tell her the place is fine. In fact, the place is filthy.. the dude has no idea what cleaning is. Here are are a few representative before and after photos (Click to Embiggen)..

Above the sink (before) covered with mold

After, the miracle of soap having been applied 

Behind Stove
Under Stove

The Miracle Of Soap

Random Smudges on Floor Previous Tenant could not see.

First Swipe... still need to work the baseboards and to the right.

So there was that, and the process of cleaning continues as I move things around and get the big stuff done. The place is quite cold, as you will shortly see, so I've been concentrating more on getting the place to stay warm, than to be completely clean.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sweet Potato Pie in the Sky!

M9636y first or second (in chronological order) favorite student 서유미 came to the literary event and brought me a gift of sweet potatoes.

Which, being out of town, I could not get to until tonight. However... grabbed me some of them taters:

Chopped them hard and gave them a bit of a baking/boiling.

In a pan did onions, mushrooms,

and some super common Korean vegetable I cannot name.. but it looks like this:

And when that was all cooked..


Korean food... don't live with out it.

Thanks SYM!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

aaah... so after Yvonne left for the Empire in Decline I drank until the weekend and then through it. The place was pretty boring without her and alcohol does consume time, if even at the cost of a few brain cells and more notches back out the belt.

That became pretty damned boring and mornings horrible. So Monday I began going back into work (even though there still wasn't hot water to shower and the electricity was only on in half of the apartment - thank god the half of the electricity with the AC). Work provided me with good entertainment as I had to work on a paper co-written with two other professors about the difficulty of translating allusions from a minor culture to a major one. This took all the way til the last day, the Friday, and the time working on things was good. Still, boring at home, as the weekend reminded me, and I was still trying to get the smell out of the refrigerator from the rotted food (dating back to when we returned from China to find 0 electricity, a nightmare I have skipped right over). I was mopey even though I was busy.

Last week we began another paper, so again there was stuff to do, and when the weather was good I walked in and out of work to try to keep the Vitamin D and endorphins and what not swirling. This was all good til Friday when I got utterly drenched in a sonagi of epic proportions. It blew in, blew up, blew away, and left me a rag. I had all my electronics double wrapped so they were safe, but the clothes weren't. LOL.. I ran from bus stop to bus stop catching them when I could and scurrying to the next stop when I had to. Inconvenient, but rain in 30 degrees is actually refreshing, and it was my pride hurt more than anything else.

It all cleared up so Saturday I could go shopping & take a nice long walk prefaced by a bibimbap breakfast. These were involved, as I walked the Itaewon/Gyeongnidan loop to the cheapest store around and then lay down for 20 minutes that turned into a 2-hour, drooling, snoring sleep. Woke up logy, but had an academic event to go to. Skidded down the hill and had a piece of pizza for dinner (first piece of remotely unhealthy food this week) and got to the place with 10 minutes to spare. Kept circling where it should be according to the map(s) and only kept ending staring at the Finance Center. IM'd the organizer, and I was in the wrong part of town. By now the event was 30 minutes over, and my nap-head had cleared, so I didn't want to go a lecture on the Joseon Dynasty and its architecture. IM'd my regrets and headed for the 405 before remembering in the other direction, the 402 would drop me off just above my house, without need to walk uphill or take the maul bus. Start toward Deoksu Palace, beyond which lay the bus stop.. and thought I heard a burst of electric guitar and bass.

It quickly went away. But when I passed Seoul City Hall/Library I saw a massive setup for a drum show. Not much going on, but I thought I'd wait, the night was nice and people were being cool. Then, early, a high-school rock-band jumped on-stage and began playing an odd bit of the old rock n roll. And I mean *really* old rock n' roll... like this (Note particularly, the old dude at the end who was drumming along - he was mad into it and went spectacular when the drums went solo):

I even stayed as they played "Hold the Line (Love isn't Always on Time). You don't really realize how many "L's" are in that song until you hear a Korean try to sing it.

Quite a few, actually

Still, they were quite palette cleansing as was the next chant/drum bit... but when the drum circle came out I began to have Grateful Dead flashbacks and had to get the hell out of there. The 402 bus came just 2 minutes after I hit the bus stop, and I flew home. Began work on my video for the LTI Korea contest. Super Productive day.

Today downloaded an album that only had one seeder (so I feared disconnecting as the dude hadn't been online for days. Once that concluded went out for coffee and writing, and walked down to the Hangul museum to give it a full look. Pretty nice and I'll be talking about in on tomorrow, for anyone interested. Content and lots of glitz for the kiddies. Also went over to the bookstore of the national museum, bo make sure something I'm already certain of, that they wouldn't have any fiction for sale for foreign visitors (something I did see in China, and that caused me to buy a book of Chinese fiction - haven't started reading it or anything^^ but I do have it and will someday read it). Of course, even though the Hangul Museum had an entire floor dedicated to the writing process and a cafeteria/book/Made in China store?  No books.

Again the god of city busses was with me, whisked home, light cleaning, and sorting the photos from the last few days. Turned the fridge back on, and now it smells of bleach not rot (I suppose I'll have to swish that out next week or so), but for the moment can hold vegetables again, which is "A Good Thing I Suppose!"

I think I'm getting into the swing of this bachelor thing. Next big trauma... move to smaller place. At least it can be put off til after Yvonne swings through again and when she leaves I have to repeat the cycle described above.^^

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Park outside my front-door is prettier than yours^^

Walking over Namsan to work today and the Ajjeoshi have been busy planting (All photos can be embiggened by clicking)...

Flowers that would never naturally sit next to each other

The Korean "Azalea"

Tulips (They are original to Korea, doncha know?^^)

The occasional potted plant^^

More flowers..

And a shot of Seoul Tower I should have taken when the trees were covered with blossoms (and with a phone better than an iPhone 4^^)

All this splendid beauty will last about one more week, until the jangma comes. Alas.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Another Day in Pure Land Buddhism

Wandering around the campus today trying to find the hunger striker rumored to be in the monument to Buddha. Couldn't find him, but with Buddha's birthday coming up I was able to snap a photo of the three elephants in the quad with lanterns rampant.

Also.. did find a different protester, a student who has built a small encampment on the top of one of the lights on our outdoor basketball court. Like the phantom hunger-striker, the student is protesting against the totally botched presidential succession process (in, what, month 3?) here at Buddhist U. He promises not to come down until the problem is solved.

The sign on the left says to rebuild democracy (or democratically) and the sign on the right says not (or do not), but as the sign is twisting in the wind, I can't see what is not to be done.

Fun campus.^^

Friday, March 20, 2015

Flashback Friday

The trip of 1000 miles begins in the martini monkey bar, at least at San Jose International airport. And I didn’t take my anti-psychotic drugs so my stomach should be in a fine acid-fueled frenzy by the time I hit Houston, much less land 4 hours later in Harlingen (completely non) International airport.

I went and found my gate.. passed the security check without a hitch.. and discovered that there was no bar once you passed security. So I had to pass back out of the secured area in search of a drink. No doubt this will ensure that I will have to undergo a complete cavity search on the way back in. While I will enjoy this to the fullest, I think it is also proof that the terrorists have already won.

The martini monkey (monkey martini?  I’m too lazy to stagger outside and check) bar features an odd combination of reggae tunes and truly bizarre retro covers of classic rock – think The Doors covered by a cocktail lounge band and you’re getting close. “Come on baby light my fire” just doesn’t sound as convincing coming out over the desultory tinkling of a melody-murderess playing a thin piano.

Or perhaps I have expectations that can’t be met. And maybe that is what this particular trip is about. Escape from work as it just seems completely wrong to give a flying fuck if the incompetent can teach the ineducable the idiotic. Why should I care if more morons flock to De Anza to sooth their fever dreams of success through education? It’s all the same system, and I suppose it keeps a few people out of jail.. god knows it is much cheaper than our jail system.. anyway, this kind of existential navel-gazing can, I know, be destroyed by alcohol, so I think I will have me another beer.

Gack! Now we have a reggae-based cover of a classic tune. I can recognize the tune but can’t even begin to name it. Sounds like a drum-beat ripped from “Little Drummer Boy”..
Aah.. “All I need is the air that I breathe.”  A terrible enough song when it was performed the first time (I have a hard time giving it the credit that saying it was “written” would confer).

To add to the unreality, there’s a tv in the corner with the sound turned off and a dyslexic in charge of the captioning…  they just referred to someone’s bout with cancer as “a testicular Kansaser.”  Glad now that I’m not traveling to Kansas.

And a news flash from the war on people.. Minnesota reports that corporate profits have hit an all-time high while corporate tax receipts are declining. Bush’s work is done, I suppose… Minnesotans in positions of authority are “confused” by this news, since to understand it would be to admit that they have sold their constituents down the dirty river with a combination of tax-cuts, relaxations of protective regulations, and the slow gutting of unions… 

Anyway, that’s merely a diversion from the “what the heck am I doing?” question. Closely related to the “what’s wrong with drinking and reading your life away?” question.  And the “why work?” question which flows naturally from the previous two questions.

And then… then.. while in the bathroom I hear the redoubtable bass line to “Watching the Detectives” and it’s also coated in a nasty piano and string treatments.  My world has ended.

And even almost 3 hours of napping on the flight to Houston could not bring it back. This may be because I woke up in the land of the processed hair and twang. Maybe, maybe not. It could just be me.  I sit here in the margarita bar at Chili’s trying not to drink another damned beer, but probably certain to do it.

And now the flight to Harlingen. Did get to observe a bunch of angry people, pissed off about previous flights and taking it out on current airline employees, or heating up on big old plates of nachos and bitching about their close personal friends and relatives…

Ya gotta love people, as some 1970s song once posited. Or negatived.

I can’t be certain.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I love Korea #3027

Because someone invented soju-based toothpaste!

OK.. not really.. but sure looks like it.^^

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Strangely? I will likely not be surprised.

Random click-baiting for an article

LOL.. why in the name of Gawd would Adolph Hitler's past surprise me?  Did he work for a Jewish charity? I thought pretty much everything was known?