Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chilling at the Coffee Shop, Watching the Umbrellas go by..

Still tired from two nights ago when the couple downstairs had a knock-down, drag-out fight for about 2 hours, from midnight on.

The wife is Korean and she doesn't handle alcohol very well. She was screaming shit, would run outside, slamming the door, then run back inside slamming the door and toss some of his stuff out the window. Repeat, repeat, repeat. At one point she pounded on their piano. Finally she went downstairs and for about 30 minutes rolled up then slammed down the corrugated metal garage door which covers our motorcyle parking area. All the time hollering incoherently until she finally screamed some understandable (on the language level) but uninterpretable (on the communication level) thing about a "computer" and "tomorrow" at which time she flounced down the rainy street in flip flops, a t-shirt, and her underwear (by this time I was watching out the window).

Yvonne was sick, so most of it passed her by.

Anyway, today the rain continues to bucket down, but as I have a meeting in Apgujeong I had to get out and vace it. Got to Apgujeong a bit early, so I'm watching the multi-colored umbrellas cascade by and enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.

Could be worse.

I could be in San Jose. ^^

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This is irony, tragedy, comedy, or some combination

As Elvis the Prophet once sang...

Stuck on the wall with a thousand faces
Unwanted posters of the haunted places

Roll up for the ghost train
Non-stop through the city
Step right up and show your face
We only want the pretty ones
Roll up for the ghost train
Non-stop through the city
Step right up and show your face
We only want the pretty ones

Which leads us to....

'Ghost train' hunter killed by train in North Carolina

A Tip for Terrorists

Flying in from Thailand to Korea we listened, for the 100th time for some of us, to the request to turn off our electrical devices as they interfere with instruments during landing (instruments that are apparently more robust when we are 35,000 feet in the air).

So.. next time you want to bring a plane down?

Just get about 50 of you on a plane, and just as descent (or take0ff begins)?

You all switch your cell-phones and iPods on at once.

You're welcome!

And if you see me on a flight I hope you will remember that I am working for you and your Muslin brothers, and bringing that flight down will stop me from further contributing to the cause!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sometimes Life Just Isn't Fair (and that works out for me)


Got back from Thailand just in time to open the file The Korean Tourist Conference sent to me and to discover that it was only two days away (I thought it was on the weekend). The conference was on the 26th and 27th (Thursday and Friday) but the the email also said we would "be on our own for dinner" on Wednesday.

Which implied, to me, they expected us Wednesday. Good, because Wednesday was the only night Yvonne had off. Bad because the clumsily worded email had only been talking about people who bused up from Daegu.

We got there to some consternation from the hosts, but they put us up in a totally killer suite on the 7th floor (lovely view of the surrounding valley). Then off to a very expensive dinner: 13,000 won for Galbi Tang! The soup was only average, but it was loaded with meat.

Then back to the hotel and watching TV and lolling.

Yvonne was called back to Seoul this morning and ran downstairs to buy us a quick breakfast of artificial orange-drink and sugar cookies!!!

She left and I cooled my heals until Boy Wonder Publisher/Friend showed up. He did and they didn't have his key ready, so we came up to my suite and watched TV.

When they did call, they told him his "shared" room was ready. He (rightly) was upset, and the conference officials acted like he was out of line. They said he should "understand," so he cancelled and went home.

His was the only presentation I wanted to see this afternoon, so after sharing a beer with him waiting for the bus, I am now in my enormous (solo) suite, while he is on the bus back home.

I'm watching TV, drinking beer, and waiting for dinner.

Soon I will start looking at the photos from Thailand....

LOL.. I'd feel guilty about all this, but I'm past that whole guilt thing...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Two odd things..

1) When we landed in Taipei Yvonne said, "Isn't that in Mexico?"

2) Tonight she asked if the people in Thailand spoke Taiwanese?

I do not know what to make of this!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thai'd to the Wheel

Saturday arose, gloomy, hot and humid, and we set off to try to find the Palace and Wat Pho.

I had a map and my innate sense of good directions. Consequently we got rather lost. We set off on a course just about 30 degrees to the right of where we should have been going. No biggie, except in sweat and Yvonne's panic, because we hit the river (kind of hard to miss) and I figured out that we had wandered about a kilometer off target.

We adjusted, and as we came to the bridge spotted two cool Wats (he's on first, you see!) which we checked out before walking across the river. Then, off to the left where we threaded our way through the SOME FAMOUS Market. The markets here make the ones in Korea seem limited (so many more kinds of food) but also make the ones in Korea seem spacious, as the walkway between stalls was often nearly indistinguishable from the stalls themselves.

It was godawfully hot and humid, and we each drank water continuously. After a breakfast/lunch of barbequed pig and pig-skin, we got to Wat Pho, one of the most famous of the Bangkok Wats. It has the famous Reclining Buddha which is epic (when I get back home I'll post pics) and tons of cute little semi-wild cats. What was kind of weird was that the further back you got into the Wat, the more epically the tourist count dropped off. This was less than a kilometer deep, but by the time you got to the back, you could take photos with no people in them.

Then it was off to the Palace, another "must see" for tourists. One thing we noticed was that Americans have fallen far, far back in the most obnoxious tourist competition. We are still the fattest by a country-mile, but Germans and French tourists were completely out of their minds. The Thai people want respect in their Wats and palace and have a dress code - some of the G/F guys were dressed like they had come through a shredder, and some of the women would have been propositioned on any major street corner in any major town. Kind of appalling.

There were several touts outside the Palace (the signs on the Palace warned us not to trust "wily strangers") and each time a tout spoke Yvonne was magically hypnotized and wandered over to them to talk. No amount of my hissing seemed to be able to stop her.

We walked into the Wat and were quickly overwhelmed. The architecture is interesting, but there is so much of it packed so tightly that its an overdose. The first spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but the 20th spoonful induces vomiting. In one way it reminded me of Disneyland - if Disney and the Keebler elves had gotten ripped to the tits on LSD and gone mad with frosting and gold spraypaint.

This may be a result of having lived in Korea for so long - since Korea has very simple architecture even in temples, and much of the 'practical' architecture in Korea is simple to the point of verging on Soviet (USSR era).

Then it was in to the Palace, which was a bit more restrained, but many parts were closed off.

We got out of the Palace, and grabbed a tuk-tuk (little wheeled motorcyle cart) back to the hotel. It was more expensive than a taxi, but you kind of have to do it once in Bangkok or you haven't had the tourist experience: By which I mean spending 15 terrifying minutes careening through chaotic traffic, concentrating tightly (ahem) on keeping various body sphincters closed.

I was sunburned as could be, and we ordered in delivery food from a local A&W. Who knew?

Then it was off to bed - the hotel is minimalist, but very quiet, which is a darned fine thing!


Get away day was fine, except we got a bit lost at Yongsan looking for the airport limousine. After a few hectic, and sweaty minutes running all around, I spotted the sign (thank god for my limited Korean!) and we were off to the airport.

I've raved enough about Incheon, but this time I discovered and even newer great thing - NAVER has built a free internet cafe with about 30 laptops ... you can just walk in and use their computers for free. Totally cool.

We had Galbijim (or something quite like it) for breakfast and different lunches. I had a hotdog, and Yvonne, continuing to work on her case of adult onset diabetes, had two chocolate muffins. On the first leg of our flight, to Taiwan, we were fed a delicious meal by the airline. The other passengers were really rowdy, hollering and refusing to wear seatbelts. All Taiwanese, if language was any clue, but totally different from flying on predominantly Korean flights.

We had to offboard in Taiwan so they could clean the plane. A boring hour in a sterile room Because this was Taiwan, we had no currency to spend (they accept about 4, but not the won or baht) and there were no conversion kiosks in sight.

We got back on the plane and into the air, and some woman in front of us got really sick. They had to pull out the oxygen cannister and everything. Once that got settled down they offered us another meal. I was far too stuffed, but Yvonne, true to her form, ordered her 4th meal of the day and chowed it down. The only concession she made to being full already, was she didn't eat the octopus part of the side-dish, and ate out the pie-section of her dessert, leaving a little bit of crust behind.

We landed and cruised through customs - we had only brought carryon. In the airport lobby, Yvonne ignored my pointing out the free shuttle bus and headed us to the metered taxi. This turned out to be a little expensive, but worse, the dude just dropped us off somewhere "close" to our hotel. Thankfully, a super-helpful Thai guy gave us direction... we walked off and, just as we exited a 7-11 after asking for a second round of directions, the same guy drove by us on a motor-scooter going the other way and said "right there" and pointed to our hotel.

He had got his scooter, and driven up there to make sure we got to the right place!


It was raining and late... we went to the store to get water and beer and... oooops! Thailand is like England used to be.. they have "hours" for selling alcohol, and after 12 selling ceases. I'm assuming, given Thailand's party reputation for foreigners, this is only true of off-premises sales.

Anyway, there was beer in the fridge, so I had a couple and we passed out in a heap...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Perhaps my single favorite HST passage

“History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened . . . There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning . . . And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave . . . So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

Monday, August 02, 2010

Planning? Wha?

Spent all day getting my materials together for Auditory II and burning a backup to DVD. A little bit of burnishing and printing tomorrow and I will have the entire classe done and in folders with a month to go before classes start.

Then it's on to Academic Writing - should be pretty simple...

Conversation is more of a wing-it class..

All that will be left are the two classes that scare me US/UK culture, and the dreaded graduate "Reading Korean Literature in Translation." I have a lot of lectures yet to build, there..