Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chuseok Comes Early!

As Thursday is the traditional "early getaway" day for Koreans leaving for their hometowns, to celebrate Chuseok, we are allowed to cancel our Thursday classes. Which I did with a speed that would considered indecent in rabbit sex.

So tonight is Friday night, and so is tomorrow night, and the night after that.


Not so sweet - last night I decided to walk home and thought I might take a stroll through Namsan tunnel. This is just about a mile through Namsan Mountain. The tunnel was hot, polluted, and the walkway a bit uneven. Worse, what I didn't think about was that everything in the tunnel would be, of course, coated in auto exhaust. This meant that when I grabbed hold of the railing, I got a fistful of soot. Also, when I brushed the wall, or touched anything. You'd be suprised at how much af a tar-baby you can make of yourself in such circumstances.

Sweet, though, a student gave me two bottles of wine for Chuseok, so at least I had something to look forward to when I got home.

Now I'm sitting in Gecko's, with a beer and a quesadilla down, preparing to take the shortish walk home.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just Another Friday.. er.. Graphic Monday..

Random graphics inserted...

Yeah.. two classes .. then started to walk home, but ended up watching some Korean Little League..

For some reason it seemed classically Korean to me.. Each inning the defensive team worked themselves into enormous trouble (two innings with the bases loaded before there was an out!) and then in a fit of "coaching" and pitcher changes (and probably the bottom of the lineup!) they worked themselves out without much damage.

As far as I could tell (I eventually buggered off to catch a taxi) the game must have ended in a 3-3 tie. The story of Korean history, perhaps...

then back home to a flurry, nay, a hurricane of edits. There is some kind of conference this weekend, and the papers are due by 9am tomorrow. This makes me a popular dude...

other than that... Fall in Korea... and Al Green rocking "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" on the Digitizer..

Cain't beat that shit!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tardy Updates, Lynyrd Skynrd style - "Gimme Back my Bullets"

Many things have happened and I have been an uncertain poster her. So I resort to bullets

  • BPU2 is considering upgrading my position to include work as a liason between the school and English-speaking Unis. More pay, of course. My teaching would be reduced to official load (9 hours) and I would be working on some cool projects. Not to get any hearts in a flutter, but this might include some work in Texas - "might."

  • We are also working on a totally cool project to create a rubric by which to pre-screen fiction that is being considered for translation into English. More about this will pop up on MorningCalm very soon, but for now it's a fun project

  • I still need (even more if my load is reduced) to find BPU2 a second English instructor. Someone has to know someone with an MA in English Lit or ESL who wants to come over and have some fun in Korea?

  • The BKF tells me that KLTI will be moving us onto their lists as a translator/editor team. That is, as we vernaculate, splendiddest. And has promise of more money attached to it.

  • Gecko's is the place to be in Itaewon on Sunday - Queen on the stereo, Yvonne mopping up the bits of calimari that she mysteriously spat onto the table, bookshopping complete, and the wireless working flawlessly and fast.

  • Next week? Two days of instruction!!! Deal with that biaaaaaatches!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


When a "Who" song comes on the iTunes and I think, based on the pointless noodling, that I'm listening to the intro to one of my Korea Language lessons?


Monday, September 21, 2009

Korea Imposes its Ferocious Will

I meet with the Chair last week to demonstrate that my knee is relatively healed up and that she can stop bugging me about going to the hospital.

I get into her office and she's giving off a nervous vibe..

She says.. "You know, until last Friday you DID NOT have health insurance. Someone forgot to enroll you in it."

I say, "well, boy howdy, but it's good news that I have it now, eh?"?

She says, "well, that is good news, but there is bad news also."

"What is that?" I inquire in that cat contemplating a hot stove-lid way that I have.

"Well," she responds, "you owe six months worth of paycheck deductions for your health insurance."

That would be the health insurance I have just been told I DIDN't have.

I ponder. I am being charged for a service I didn't have. And yet, since it is Korea, there is nothing to be done about it.

Lo and Behold(en), I am docked nearly 600,000 won on my next paycheck...


Friday, September 18, 2009

The 500 dollar "Fuck Me" post will be tomorrow..


Don't be so wise, I was born to fly
Not without a place in the wind
Walked off a cliff, then I closed my eyes
Ooh, I'm not a spaceman, no, no

Don't need no feathers, I don't need no twine,
I'm all together in my body and my mind,
Not supernatural, just a human combine,
Ooh, I'm not a spaceman, no, no

Adequately mis-explains what it is like to walk in Seoul on a warm night, Seoul Tower on the near horizon, and various bits of literature, scraps of theory, and notions to write about floating in my head.

LOL, I need to persuade Yvonne we never go back. ;-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Few Nice Words About Korea

Every so often you hear someone complain that Koreans are a bunch of rude, neo-Confucians who would just assume run a foreigner over as look at one.

I think that is only the motorcycle delivery guys. And I don't think it has any relationship to race or country of origin. ;-)

When my knee was all asploded, walking caused me considerable pain and it must have been obvious even on my stoic and craggy features (Did I say "handsome?"). Everywhere I went, Koreans stopped to help me. The helped me get down stairs, they helped me flag down cabs, they helped me walk up and down hills, they asked if I was all right. Cabbies rushed out of their cabs to help me get out without further crippling myself. By the time I could walk half-normally I had worn out all the kamsamneeda ("thank you") and kwenchanayo ("I'm OK") muscles in my face.

On Friday I went up to the District Office to see if there was anyone there to help me at the hospital, but all the English speakers were out to a late lunch. So I grabbed a cab home and rested the thing all Saturday. This worked out well enough that on Sunday I was able to go out with the Chatjip folks and stump all around Seoul.

The outpouring of spontaneous assistance culminated in the student who came to my class Monday morning and handed me an industrial-strength knee brace.


I'm reasonably certain no student in the US would ever have even thought of such a thing.

Now the knee is better to the extent that even though I banged it, last night, into a wooden planter outside the Buy Right (or whatever) I can walk on any surface and rotate the thing torsionally (for a while there, putting on socks was about a 20 minute exercise in pain and sweat - a lot like sex, now that I think about it).

And now, finally, I DO have health insurance (as it turns out I did NOT have it prior to going to the office and complaining that I thought I didn't have it), but that came with a kind of a joker...

which is a post for tomorrow, I suppose..

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday, Groovy Sunday...

Sitting in Leo's Bagel shop listening to the jangly but mellow vocal stylings of Morrissey, sipping a cup of coffee and eating the "Turk-Mex".

It could be any day in the late 80s.

The knee continues to get better, though it is still quite inflexible. Today Yvonne and I are off to the first meeting of a proposed community of expat bloggers in Korea. Some of the biggish-shots on the scene will be there, and it will be interesting to see what they are like in person.

For now though, just digging the sammich and the coffee.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ensmallened Scope

The knee is incrementally better.. I actually slept some last night and even the cab ride to work wasn't horrible (I mean, it hurt and all, but I didn't feel like barfing!).

I have an ice-pack because Yvonne angeled her way up to Seoul two nights ago and in a suprise visit brought food and the ice-pack. It's actually a hot-cold thing, so I suppose this weekend I can do alternating compresses.

It's funny to walk so slowly. I take my legs for granted and having one NOT work is a drag for non-pain related reasons. Inverted-L-shaped little old grammas now go shooting past me on the hill to my house! Oh the embarassment. Putting shoes on is an ordeal (actually socks are worse). Even sitting down becomes an adventure, particularly in chairs that have wheels and would like to dump me on my ass if they get the chance. Walking is funny also - things I used to race by are now landmarks in my turtling my way to and from work.

Oh well, off to the Division office for advice on a doctor/hospital..

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Kneebone connected to the?


Woke up this morning crippled. Walked to work and back yesterday with nothing out of the ordinary. Got home and right knee began to ache. A drag, but not so intolerable I couldn't do my normal evening stretching routine.

Wake up this morning (at about 3 am) after a painful night and it won't support any weight (and baby, I got that!) or straighten out, and is incredibly painful.

Trying to figure out how I'm getting out of my third-story apartment. :-(

If there are no updates I am crumpled in the stairwell.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Wedding Daze..

Down to Busan for a wedding…

I purchased the tickets entirely in Korean .. probably quite ungrammatical, but I was able to communicate that I needed two tickets on Saturday, one from Seoul to Busan and one from Daejeon to Busan and they needed to be together.

Small victories.

The Korean class is helping… the tutoring helped a bit, but the class is quite intensive (although only six hours a week, the instructor piles on the homework and hammers the two of us in class). I finished the first class, 1.1, with the tutor and now I am working on 1.2. There are three classes per level and I hope to go through all of them. It will depend on how long I am willing to drag my ass to a class that is MWF from 7 to 9 at night.

That is particularly galling on Friday, when I should be out hootin and hollerin in Itaewon.

Still, got the tickets and headed down. As I love trains immoderately, this is always a good thing, and Korea is still a beautiful green color as you 300 km/hr your way through it. Yvonne hopped on at Daejeon, and we were fully away.
At the Busan Depot we ran into two other couples who were going to the wedding and headed out to Gwang alli together. Grabbed a nice cheap (about 38 bucks US) hotel room with a view of the beach and headed over to the wedding.

It was mercifully brief, as Korean weddings can be, and then it was down to the cafeteria for a meal. The pic just above is the lovely couple working the room at the reception in a pub and the one down below is Yvonne smiling because this wedding gave her some new, expensive, ideas to try to pile onto our wedding. The post-wedding cafeteria served some really good food, and I had time to enjoy it with my friends.

At BKF’s wedding I was part of the photo-shoot after, and so by the time I got to the cafeteria everyone from that wedding had eaten and departed. I was the lone Waegukin in the vast hall, and so I ate quickly and skeedaddled. This time we all stayed at the tables until the beer and soju was gone. Then it was off to the deck of a pub which overlooked the beach. More idle chit-chat and general tomfoolery.

Many of the party headed off to a bar, but I headed back to the hotel while Yvonne went downtown to meet her friend Katie and her boyfriend du jour. I did absolutely nothing productive besides watching two episodes of The Simpsons.

In the morning we had coffee on the beach and boggled that, on a weekend as beautiful as it had been, essentially no Koreans had headed to Busan for the beach (that picture from the hotel window will give an idea). Korean vacationing runs on a rather rigid “season” basis and this is not the season to go to the beach.

Consequently, Koreans don’t.

I type this on the way back up to Seoul, Yvonne already dropped off (sob!) at Daejeon. Got a longish piece edited for BKF and finally finished my review of Yi Chongjun’s The Wounded. That pic at the bottom is of my little office on the KTX

If I do a little Korean homework tonight, this trip back up will have brought this weekend back from completely non-productive, to pretty good. And with a trip to the beach and a motel as well.

Can’t beat that.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Politicians in my eyes - My super Jenius sister!

The title, of course, a reference to Death's awesome song...

Here's her interview after the brutal fires in Auburn: