Wednesday, May 27, 2009

life without a laptop

so my laptop power supply blew up. this was really not good, as my primary (read “only”) means of communication is over the web. I walked down the main retail drag, in search of electronics stores. each one I stopped in I repeated the same act: first presented my power supply, pointing, then doing a shrug to indicate that I was asking a question about it. each time they said “ah-ni-yo”, which means no. finally, one of the store clerks told me to wait and he called someone. apparently he knew of a place that he thought might have power supplies so he wrote something in Korean on a slip of paper and told me to give it to a cab driver. I hopped in cab, gave the driver my paper, and off we went. this process was repeated for a few more stores. all-in-all I saw a most of the city by cab. my last stop was at a pro audio store which was able to provide me with my power supply. this whole process took four days.

what did I do in the meantime? I studied korean, which was good. I read, which was also good. and in the remaining time I watched korean television. I watched some indigenous programming, but after a hour or so of not understanding what is being said most of the charm wears off. fortunately there is a lot of american programming. and what programming was there to be watched, you are asking yourself? smallville. yes the teen drama about superman. I watched hours and hours of smallville. I have no idea why it was on at all, let alone hours on end. but I watched it. and it was glorious.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

to silence my critics (i.e. jessica)

the week has been very busy so far. I have begun teaching on my own (although I am still monitored and given feedback by the teacher that I am replacing). the kids are generally good natured and easy to deal with. many are very eager to participate, but others seem wore out. korean children have so much on their plate, especially at my school, which is an advanced academy that is hard to get into and expensive to attend. the stress can be seen on the faces of many of the kids, and it can be tough knowing that you are adding to it. such is life I guess.

I’ve had a great time hanging out with my fellow teachers. I typically use the day before I go to school to tend to my affairs (laundry, the bank, etc) and the time after school to go out for food and drinks. last night I attended an open mic night with a teacher from another school and I plan to go back next week with my guitar and some songs ready to play. this should give me a good reason to finish up a couple of songs that I have in the works.

in other news, I submitted the last paperwork in the process to get my alien registration card. my medical examination came through clean, which is nice.

now to wash some clothes and mold some minds.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

eyebrow dog


this is eyebrow dog. he lives in my neighborhood. I see him wandering around pretty much every time I leave my apartment. as his name implies, he has eyebrows. they look as though they were drawn on with a sharpie. I asked someone about this and apparently this not an uncommon thing in korea.


despite having the word “sun” in its name, the island chain of sunyeudo was all but. I went with a bunch of other teachers for a night away, and despite being stuck indoors due to weather, it was a good time. we took a bus to gunsan and a ferry from there to sunyeudo.

the islands are very dramatic, rocky outcroppings from the sea that seem to burst from nowhere, linked together by footbridges or sandbars. I can imagine that when the weather is nice this is a pretty cool place to spend time. as it was, I had an opportunity to hang out with my fellow teachers out of the office.




Thursday, May 14, 2009

first night out

I went with about fifteen coworkers last night to a makkoli place after work. makkoli is a milky rice wine that is served in big teapot-ish conveyances and has roughly the same potency as wine. these pots are landed along the table and people pour drinks for each other, all the while the restaurant/bar staff keep a steady stream of food coming (which is free with the drinks). each one of these pots costs about 12,000 won (around $9). so just imagine buying a bottle of wine or a pitcher of beer for $9 then getting all of the bar food that you could possibly consume along with it. the side dishes started off pretty conventional and got progressively more “extreme”, with the high point pictured below. this is a live octopus that has been marinated to some degree, that when delivered to the table is still alive and moving around. the waitress then takes kitchen scissors and cuts its legs off one by one, which then continue to wriggle around for about a half hour or so. if you eat the legs while they are still really fresh the little suction cups will grab on to stuff in your mouth. I ate everything else at the table but opted out on this.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

a photo tour of my apartment

here is a photo tour of my apartment. it is only four photos as my apartment isn’t all that big. the photos run counter clockwise


desk area, TV, mysterious rack whose purpose I have yet to figure out


from right to left: mystery rack, two burner stove, sink, refrigerator, clothes washer (in the corner), bed. the main area is separated from the kitchen/washing area by a sliding glass door, presumably to isolate the sounds and smells of cooking and cleaning. the windows above the kitchen area look out over the neighborhood.


my bed (with Timbuk 2 bag). the bed is actually really comfortable. despite the fact that everything in my place is small and efficient this bed is longer than a full sized. it’s firmer than my mattress home (roughly between the firmness of a boxspring and a mattress) and I have been waking up with my back feeling great. this bed rocks.


the bathroom, basically a little square where the whole thing is the shower. the floor has a slight pitch to it and a drain on one end (seen under the sink). all surfaces are tile or some other waterproof material so that you may use a shower wand while just standing in the middle of the room. this actually works really, really well. my bathroom takes up way less space and has a larger effective shower area.

so funny that I could not make it up

there are handful of small neighborhood parks scattered around my apartment. I was walking to work to introduce myself to the staff and teachers, and as I passed by one such park, I noticed a group of four or five ladies, all in their 70s or perhaps 80s, sitting around on benches talking. as I passed by I heard one of them yell out a “hello” and turned around and saw her gesturing up in the air with a bottle. unsure what to make of this I called back with a “hello” and continued on my way.

on my return from my meeting I passed by this same park and, seeing the same group of ladies, I called out a “hello”. to this the original women who had called to me before started gesturing with the bottle and now a cup. I realized that she was offering me what they were drinking. feeling it rude to decline, and not wanting to see how this all played out, I joined them in the park and then I realized the genius of this whole situation. these ladies were sitting around chatting, working on what had to be about a liter and a half of Coca Cola. they, seeing me wandering through the neighborhood, must've figured that a guy like myself could use a Coke. so I had a small cup with them, and upon finishing was offered another, which I declined and attempted to gesture that I had to be on my way. I said “thank you” to which I got a “thank you” back. oh Korean hospitality!

on a more mundane note, I went looking for E-Mart, which is a huge Korean retailer, so that I could buy a few needed items and walked a while looking for it. I went right where I was told to go, and thought that I had all of the correct landmarks where they ought to be, but to no avail. I assumed that I had somehow made a navigational error and so returned home to change into cooler clothes and do some research. so what did I find out? I walked right past it, but because I didn’t see any English signage I was helpless. now I’ve got the logo burned into my mind’s eye, and have wiki mapped it. time for a second go-around!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


after a fog related delay in San Francisco (you can’t make that up) which forced me to fly through Tokyo, I finally made it to Seoul. unfortunately I arrived so late that there were no more busses running to Jeonju, and so I had to spend the night. I had read about the inexpensive, red light-esque hotels that one can find in Seoul and now I have experienced them. for only 30,000 won ($24.24, according to Google) you get a bed, a bathroom, a television, water cooler, a fridge, an air conditioner, and about every fixing one could imagine. this included all of the bath items, such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tooth brushes, tooth paste, etc down to the finer details - a couple of bed-side condoms.

despite what one may imagine, the place was actually pretty clean and the stay, although only a couple of hours long, was not bad. I have seen far worse in most major chains of hotels near an airport in the States.

I had to get up at 5 am to get ready to catch a 7 am bus, which was not a problem considering that my body clock woke me up at around 2 am. this was not so good considering that I didn’t get to bed until just after midnight. I was picked up from the airport, taken to my hotel, picked up from my hotel and taken to the bus by a guy who was working with my recruiter. although his English skills were limited (although far better than my non-existent Korean skills) he was very kind and made sure that I got fed in the morning and suffered through the same aforementioned sleep depriving schedule.

the bus ride was as one would expect. we passed through Seoul’s morning rush hour traffic, which was pretty rough. on the way we passed through a couple of super rest stops; places for busses, and travelers in general, to pull of the road to use the restroom but also to buy food. there were around a dozen or so small restaurants which served quick and portable food. genius!

once my bus arrived I was picked up by a guy who works for my school, whose job is to make sure the teachers get to/from properly and to manage their affairs in between. he showed me around to some basic things in my neighborhood, such as a market and the apartments of other teachers. navigation here is considerably different in that rather than using streets and street numbers things are generally referred to by the landmarks they are nearby. for example, my apartment is near a well know group of apartment buildings which serve as the landmark for navigating people to it.

my apartment is nice, and outfitted with the basic necessities such as kitchen appliances, bed, clothes washer, etc. it is comfortable and the building seems generally quiet and peaceful. I am the only teacher living in this building, as the buildings where other teachers live did not have any vacancies. this may be a bit of an inconvenience but I am sure it wont be an insurmountable. on the upside, I guess my building is a little nicer.

I met a fellow teacher yesterday during lunch, a guy named Ian from Manchester. he was very friendly and had already spent one year here teaching, so I hope that I’ll be able to “borrow” some of his wisdom. what’s cooler is that when he found out that I am from Seattle he was jazzed up because he is a 90s Seattle rock fan… and he plays bass! apparently there is an open jam night at a local bar that he goes to from time to time. so I’m going to have to get an electric guitar and a POD or something so I can get my rock on!

alright, now to get my day started. pictures to come.

Monday, May 11, 2009


so I’m spending a quality 3 hours in the Tokyo airport waiting for my next flight. it was supposed to be more like 5 hours, but apparently a girl on my flight had a slight fever (detected by some thermo-cams used by the Japanese public health swat team that swarmed over my plane upon arrival) which required a battery of testing and questioning that allowed me the opportunity to bond with my fellow irate passengers, which was nice. now I am taking in the seemingly endless parade of surgical mask clad faces.

my flights got shuffled around, where I was originally supposed to fly from Seattle to San Francisco and then from San Francisco to Seoul. but get this… my San Francisco flight was delayed due to fog. yes, sound the alarms, San Francisco has fog. who knew? I am worried that my next flight may be delayed because the sun rises in the morning and sets at night, or perhaps because dogs and cats do not get along together.

the upshot of all of this is that I will be getting into Jeonju (my final destination) at early o’clock tomorrow morning, at which point I will have to go to a training session. it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

tattoo you

after several years of hearing me talk about it, my buddy Ed got tired of listening to me talk about my idea for a tattoo and paid for me to get it. it is “God Only Knows” in the font from the cover of the 1966 Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, which featured the song “God Only Knows”, which is my favorite song and sentiment.



Monday, May 4, 2009

big kid clothes

I’ve been in the working world for a handful of years now. I’ve been in plenty of meetings, and wore plenty of ties. but this was all in the audio industry. even in corporate A/V things are more “rock and roll” than 99% of other work environments one could imagine. this allows a lot of personal accessory and wardrobe choices that would not fly in other settings. for a time I would call on massive houses of worship and lab coat clad acoustic consultants with my long hair, 5 o’clock shadow, and pierced ears raising nary an eyebrow. Converse All-Stars and AC/DC T-shirts were considered acceptable, if not the preferred, work attire. but as I prepare to leave the world of rock and roll to teach I have had to break from my past. I spent the weekend updating my work wardrobe, tossing out old ties, getting new ones, quadrupling my count of shirts and pants, and tipping the scale in favor of dress socks over conventional.

I once read an article in Maxim (which we all know to be a font of wisdom) that said something to the effect of that one knows that they are a true adult once they have thrown out the last T-shirt they wore during college. well I’m one faded Cars shirt away from the old folks home.