As the dart flies

For those of you following the Itaewon dart scene, here’s the latest:

I managed a mirror image of the 16-0 shellacking I suffered in my previous Singles League outing, beating this week’s opponent 16-0.  Is the slump over?  Stay tuned.

In Monday night Pub League action, the Dillinger’s Dartitis Quarintine clenched second place in the Seoul International Dart League.  We beat Sin Bin 25-14 last night to earn that honor.  First place is securely held by our sister team, the Dillinger’s Dill Pickles.  They are just too damn good beat, but at least we won’t have to face them straight away when playoffs commence.

I went 6-0 in singles, and 3-3 in doubles.  I’ll take a 9-3 night anytime.

And that’s how things stand.

Well met indeed

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 weeks I will delve deep into the sewer archives of past posts to bring you a tidbit of blog history.  I had originally planned to call this series “The best of LTG”, but damn, there just wasn’t much “best” to be found.  And mediocre is too hard to spell.)

One year ago I encountered the Big Hominid for the first time and wrote about it in a post called The nicest guy I’d never met.  We enjoyed us some Brazilian steak and conversation.  We’ve gotten together twice in the intervening year which I reckon to be more than I see most of the people I know and like.

Chances are good we’ll meet again one soon.

Carved right from skewer and onto your plate via Kevin's deft handling of the tongs.

Carved right from skewer and onto your plate via Kevin’s deft handling of the tongs.

 

And now for some good news

Yesterday I received this email:

Greetings Mr. McCrarey:

I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected for the following
position in Seoul, Korea:

a.  Position Title, Series and Grade: HUMAN RESROUCES SPECIALIST-GS-0201-13.

b.  Organization: HHB, EIGHT ARMY
DIR HUMAN REOURCE MANAGEMENT
STAFFING, CLASIFICATION, AND BENEFITS DIVISION
Duty Location: Seoul Korea

(And yes, that’s a cut and paste.  So the typos and misspellings are authentic.  Proof that I’ll be working for the actual U.S. Government again!)

I’ve got a raft of paperwork to complete which won’t be a problem for me provided it is promptly sent.  I’m planning hoping to start on May 4 which gives all involved a solitary work week to git ‘er done.  Probably the biggest hurdle will be going through the security clearance process again.  Regular readers might recall the cluster fuck I encountered getting clearance for my current job.  I previously held a “secret” clearance which the new job requires.  I *may* have become slightly more critical of the government since then, but certainly no less loyal.

Speaking of the old job, I submitted my formal resignation yesterday effective next Monday.  The boss asked if I was really sure this time because he wouldn’t entertain another round of “never minds”.  I told him yes, this time I really, really mean it.  Truth is, he has a woman ready, willing, and able to take the reins at K-16 who has been patiently waiting for me to get out of the way.  If there is any delay in starting my new job I’ll just have to deal with the inconvenience of losing base access in the interim.  Time to move on.

In other news, I got up early this morning and journeyed out to Hannam-dong for my appointment with the hilarious Dr. Yu.  I told him about my persistent cough/sore throat. He listened to my chest and said “it’s not pneumonia” (which apparently is going around). I told him I was more concerned about cancer.  He pooh-poohed this notion, but told me he’d send me for a chest and sinus x-ray to alleviate my worries.  Actually what he said was “so your worries will fly away” while flapping his arms like wings.  Told you he was hilarious.

So, the x-rays come back and it turns out I have sinusitis.  And my lungs are clear, other than some mucous.  Looks like I dodged the cancer bullet again.  Woot!

Came away with some new additions to my daily pill regimen.  It seems like I'm becoming my parents.  And things didn't end well for them.  Although, if I make it as far as they did I'll have no complaints.

Came away with some new additions to my daily pill regimen. It seems like I’m becoming my parents. And things didn’t end well for them. Although, if I make it as far as they did I’ll have no complaints.

Dr. Yu sent me on my way with his standard entreaty to drink more water.  I told him I drink plenty of OB (my preferred Korean beer).  He agreed that OB “is mostly water”. Hilarious.

 

Coffin

It looks like I’ve quit smoking again.  Apparently.  As I’ve been known to say, quitting is easy, it’s the not starting again that’s the hard part.

What’s odd about this time is that I had no specific plan to give up cigarettes.  No psyching myself up with a target date, no drugs or stop smoking aids, and no more than the usual admonishments of the wife.  I didn’t make the decision to quit, my body did.

Saturday night I had a really bad coughing fit.  I went out Sunday morning for a smoke and it just didn’t taste good.  I tried again in the afternoon, got halfway through, and it was just yuck, so I put it out.  And I haven’t smoked since.  Now, I was a 20+ cigarette (sometimes twice that) so this has been a pretty significant break.  It’s not to say I don’t get the urge, but those urges are based on habits (like being bored at work or writing a blog post like this one) not a craving for nicotine.  I guess my body has just had enough.

Now the question is did I wait too long.  The cough is persistent and coming from somewhere deep in my chest.  The coughing fits are sometimes painful.  And my throat is sore.  So, I’m going to try and get an appointment with the hilarious Dr. Yu.  I’d like a chest x-ray and whatever other tests they might run to see if I’m dying.  I just read about some minor celebrity (who’s name I’ve already forgotten) who had a persistent cough, was diagnosed with esophagus cancer, and was dead within thirty days.  I’d like to avoid that fate of course, but if my time is up there are many things I need to take care of.  I’d rather know than not.

I also want to know what’s up with the intermittent pain in my left leg.  And now the arch of my right foot is also a source of pain.  I could barely stumble to the bathroom this morning.  I mean, I’m old, but not this old.  Yet.

Another one bites the dust

Yesterday I journeyed out to the countryside near Songtan.  It was a pain in the ass getting there, but my buddy James was doing the Korean wedding ceremony thing and it was my honor to attend.

That would be James...

That would be James…

The lovely Hyesun. I guess "better half" is pretty cliche, although in this case there can be no disputing who got the best end of this deal.

The lovely Hye Seon. I guess “better half” is pretty cliche, although in this case there can be no disputing who got the best end of this deal.

With the parents...

With the parents…

The waeguk table...

The waeguk table…

Hyesun shed some tears of joy...or relief that the ordeal was nearly over...

Hye Seon shed some tears of joy…or relief that the ordeal was nearly over…

Ain't they sweet?

Ain’t they sweet?

Our table put in a pretty good days work.  I'm quite certain no one came close to matching our consumption...

Our table put in a pretty good days work. I’m quite certain no one came close to matching our rate of consumption…

It turned out to be a fine day.

 

MT

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 weeks I will delve deep into the sewer archives of past posts to bring you a tidbit of blog history.  I had originally planned to call this series “The best of LTG”, but damn, there just wasn’t much “best” to be found.  And mediocre is too hard to spell.)

Six years ago I wrote about my first experience with an MT (membership training) getaway with my Blue Bulls darts teammates in a post called from Back from Busan.

Lots of photos at the link.  We did food, drink, and darts and everything else is a little fuzzy.

We did stay at a pretty cool hotel, the Commodore.

busan21.JPG

And enjoyed our ride down on the KTX.

busan4.JPG

And by the end of the weekend we weren’t too much worse for the wear, although I do recall a couple of my mates sporting hangovers.

Good times!

Good times!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding the roller coaster

As depressed as I was on Friday, I was equally manic yesterday. Which is not a commentary on the state of my mental health.

As I alluded to in an earlier post, the Resource Management folks at the G-8 had been sitting on my hiring paperwork for going on two weeks. The issue is that the Directorate of Human Resources Management (DHRM) where I hope to be re-employed has two overhires resulting from a previously imposed decrement. Which in non-Army English means that two jobs were taken away in anticipation of a major command reorganization that never actually occurred.  That fiasco happened many years ago during my previous tenure and DHRM has been fighting to get those jobs back ever since without success. The work has not gone away, and people are still on board doing that work, but as far as Army is concerned the positions are not authorized.  So now you know more about decrements and overhires than most right thinking people who avoid acquiring useless information.

What makes this situation especially frustrating is that the job I seek is not one of the decremented positions and the 8th Army commanding general had previsously signed a memo approving my hire as a re-employed annuitant.  Anyway, I sent an email to one of the staffers at DHRM seeking information regarding the status of my quest to rejoin the team.  He in turn called a staffer at G-8 (coincidentally someone I’ve had a long standing working relationship with) who agreed that there was no legitimate basis to hold up my hiring action.  He called his colonel who agreed to let my hire move forward.  Bureaucracy is a beautiful thing on those rare occasions where it actually makes things happen.  Even if it was bureaucracy that kept them from happening in the first place.

The upshot of all of this is that my hiring package now resides in the hands of the good folks at the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC).  They are the ones who will actually make the formal job offer and process the paperwork facilitating my re-employment with DHRM.  In his reply email my hero at DHRM advised that it would probably take several  days for the CPAC to accomplish their magic.  Since the government is anal about bringing people on at the beginning of a pay period it looks like my start date should be on or about May 4.  I can live with that.

I was so ecstatic over the news that I invited my DHRM compadre out for some celebratory drinks.  We drank many, many beers and given the festive nature of the occasion we also partook in several shots of whiskey, something I rarely do.  Suffice to say I returned to my abode in a state of blissful inebriation.

I can’t imagine anything else going wrong at this point, but I’ve been disappointed before. Gonna keep thinking positive thoughts though.  I’m looking forward to rejoining my DHRM family more than ever.

Skunked

Still reeling from Friday’s disappointing news I ventured into Itaewon for my Seoul Sunday Singles League match against league leader Wallace.

Prior to my departure Jee Yeun asks me who will I be playing. I answer “Wallace”. She says, you are Walrus. I say yeah, and I’m playing Wallace. She responds No, you are Walrus! Then I understood. Wallace and Walrus sound exactly the same in Konglish. That conversation turned out to be the highlight of my day.

Wallace was unbeatable, taking the match 16-0.  Well, I had some chances to win a leg here and there but every time I got close I managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  It was frustrating and frankly embarrassing.

In Monday night action I started out much better, going 5-1 in singles.  Followed up with an 0-6 performance in doubles which didn’t help my mood.

Onward and upward.

I’m taking what they’re giving ’cause I’m working for a living

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 weeks I will delve deep into the sewer archives of past posts to bring you a tidbit of blog history.  I had originally planned to call this series “The best of LTG”, but damn, there just wasn’t much “best” to be found.  And mediocre is too hard to spell.)

Ten years ago I wrote about a special ceremony honoring an employee of mine in a post called “50 years”.  As you may have surmised the occasion marked the 50th anniversary of Mr. Kim Yong-tae’s service to the government of the United States.

During my ill-fated visit to the old office yesterday I congratulated Mr. Kim on completing SIXTY years of service.  To put that in perspective, Mr. Kim has been with USFK longer than I’ve been alive.  And I’m an old motherfucker.

Mr. Kim is a remarkable individual.  Smart, low-key, hardworking.  The kind of guy bosses dream of having in their employ.  I recall one day asking him about the war years.  He was a teenager back then and his family was forced to evacuate Seoul twice.  The first time they walked to Busan, a journey that took about three months.  It was no walk in the park though.  His mother was pregnant and gave birth about mid-way through the trip.  With appalling frequency north Korean fighter jets would strafe the procession of refugees walking down the road.  He recalled the day they passed the dead body of a mother still clutching her crying infant in her arms.  I asked him what they did and he grimaced and said “we kept on walking.  We could barely keep ourselves alive”.  Hard to imagine what that must have been like.

Well, I’m still hoping to be working with Mr. Kim again one day.

One of these guys hasn't aged a bit in ten years.  The other is me.

One of these guys hasn’t aged a bit in ten years. The other is me.

 

Kicked in the nuts

Yesterday I stopped by my new old office.  Visited with some of the staff and they shared my excitement about starting back to work there on the 20th.  The big boss was in a meeting when I arrived.  Once he finished I popped into his office and asked him how’s it going.  He said we’ve got big problems.  Well, that’s the nature of the beast in this line of work so I said “anything I can help with?”  Turns out the problem is about funding for the position I’m supposed to fill.

I won’t bore you with the byzantine details of how the Army’s G-8 (Resource Management) operates.  I did ask the boss if he thought it could be worked out  He didn’t say no, but he also didn’t offer much encouragement either.  Unless one can take encouragement from “don’t quit your current job”.

Well, I hadn’t technically “quit” but I had given notice.  And my replacement has been selected, although not technically hired.  In fact, yesterday was the day she was coming out to K-16 with me for orientation to her new duties.  I called my current boss and explained the situation and he was gracious about it.  Bottom line, he’ll keep me on until I’m ready to leave, when or if that happens.  Felt bad for the new gal as we both had cause to be disappointed by this sorry turn of events.

Needless to say I’ve been in a funk every since getting the unexpected news.  I even bailed on darts last night after signing up for the tourney.  I was just too bummed out to play.  And I don’t feel much better today either.

And so it goes.

Remembering the time I was attacked by a cougar in Arizona

While at work yesterday I wound up taking a trip. Right down memory lane. I saw something on the internet that led me somewhere else and then took me to a link for Steve McQueen. I clicked that and was reminded of the movie Junior Bonner.

JRBonner

 

It was filmed in Prescott, Arizona. I used to live in Prescott. The song that played during the opening credits was “Arizona Morning” by Rod Hart, a Prescott musician.

He was lots younger back then, but so was I.

He was lots younger back then, but so was I.

Hart and his band used to play at the Wagon Wheel, a club I’d frequent when the urge to country dance hit me.

Prescott's famous "Whiskey Row", which as the name implies is a street filled with bars.  Back in the day they were almost exclusively country bars...

Prescott’s famous “Whiskey Row”, which as the name implies is a street filled with bars. Back in the day they were almost exclusively country bars…

And then I recalled a woman I used to dance with and how I met her. I was taking classes at Yavapai Community College and she was my instructor. One day after class she asked if anyone was interested in taking “country swing” dance lessons with her, and I volunteered. She was at least 10 years older than me (I was 25). We got along great and before long we were doing horizontal dancing as well. Until one day she asked me to father a child for her “no strings attached”. That freaked me out big time and I ran for the hills, leaving her and her biological clock in my dust. I hadn’t thought of her for some 30-odd years. Until I heard this song we used to dance to again.

Morning, Arizona morning
Almost sets me free
Makes me glad to be alive
Wondering, why I started wandering
Should have stayed right here
Underneath the clear blue skies

Sadness, changing now to gladness
With the rustle of the breeze through the pinyon trees
Where I lay
In the morning, Arizona morning
A place where I can smile
And see a hundred miles away

The birds are flying high above the morning
Singing to the colors of the dawn
And in my mind I hear a gentle warning
You’ve been a wrangler and a rambler
Much too long

And a rover. Wishing it was over
All my battles won, resting in the sun this way
In the morning, Arizona morning
Coming home today, wishing I could stay
Wishing I could stay.

 

 

Potpourri

Things you may have missed.

It's cherry blossom season.  This is the street I traverse on the way to the bus station at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan.

It’s cherry blossom season. This is the street I traverse on the way to the bus station at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan.

Blossoms and barbed wire, does it get any better than that?

Blossoms and barbed wire, does it get any better than that?

The other day I went to the neighborhood 7-11 to buy some smokes. As is my custom I told the clerk “dongbae Marlboro silver chuseyo”. He pointed at the black pack and I said “anio, silver”. He pointed at the gold pack and I repeated “silver”. I finally had to gesture to where the ones I wanted were. He pulled them from the rack, pointed at the word silver, and proceeded to instruct me in how to pronounce the word “silver”. Apparently, it’s “shil-bah”. Who knew? Still, it was a unique experience having a Korean try and teach me how to properly say an English word.

Speaking of Korean, NPR did a story indicating that Korean language studies are the fastest growing in the USA.  Apparently it's a result of Korean cultural imperialism or something.

Speaking of Korean, NPR did a story indicating that Korean language studies are the fastest growing in the USA. Apparently it’s a result of Korean cultural imperialism or something.

I’ve pretty much given up arguing politics with folks.  Why bother when minds seem firmly closed to alternative viewpoints?  Many of my liberal friends seem to utilize comedians (John Stewart, John Oliver and the like) as their primary source for “news” and they seem proud to be spoon fed the talking points du jour.

I do get frustrated with what I consider to be fake issues manufactured to distract the sheeple from the important things going on, both internationally (allowing a nuclear Iran, genocide against Christians) and domestically (lawless politicians, zero job growth). Instead we are besieged with outrage over a mom and pop pizza joint in Indiana that *might* decline to cater a gay wedding if they are ever asked to do so, although no has in fact asked.

So, here’s the deal.  I’m all about freedom.  Gay folk should have exactly the same rights and privileges as any other citizen.  Who you choose to fuck and/or marry is no one else’s business.  And most assuredly not the government’s.  Go ahead and call me a teabagger, but the less the government intrudes in our lives the better off we all will be.  And so I don’t want to be told who I can or cannot marry and I also don’t want to be told who’s goddamn wedding I have to cater.  I believe that’s a perfectly consistent position.

And here’s at least one person who happens to agree.  A gay woman who donated money and apologized to the above referenced pizza parlor for the abuse they have suffered. Why did she do it?

“My girlfriend and I are small business owners, and we think there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” she said. “Like, if we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, I mean, we would have to decline.”

Precisely.  When did common sense become so uncommon?

In the category of things that matter, why aren't we having a national conversation about tax reform?  Something that make actually grow jobs and make a difference in people's lives?  Tax reform is something the left and right SHOULD agree on. Which I guess is why the corrupt political class doesn't want us talking about it...

In the category of things that matter, why aren’t we having a national conversation about tax reform? Something that might actually grow jobs and make a difference in people’s lives? Tax reform is something the left and right SHOULD agree on. Which I guess is why the corrupt political class doesn’t want us talking about it…

End of rant.  Did I change your mind?  Didn’t think so.

Girl gets on subway wearing this jacket. Not sure whether to be offended or to agree.

The other night a girl gets on subway wearing this jacket. Not sure whether to be offended or to agree.  It’s all so outrageousing.

Easter Sunday was the second anniversary of my marriage to Jee Yeun.  After dinner, I took her to her favorite coffee shop in Myeong-dong, Cafe Coin.  It's a nice enough place, but that beam has a vertical clearance of 6 feet.  I'm 6'1" and I cracked my damn head on it coming in and leaving.  And to answer your question, nope it did not knock any sense into me.

Easter Sunday was the second anniversary of my marriage to Jee Yeun. After dinner, I took her to her favorite coffee shop in Myeong-dong, Cafe Coin. It’s a nice enough place, but that beam has a vertical clearance of 6 feet. I’m 6’1″ and I cracked my damn head on it coming in and leaving. And to answer your question, nope it did not knock any sense into me.

Coffee and cheesecake was our dessert...

Coffee and cheesecake was our dessert…

We had earlier enjoyed a nice dwaegi galbi dinner at our favorite Myeong-dong restaurant.

We had earlier enjoyed a nice dwaegi galbi dinner at our favorite Myeong-dong restaurant.

We didn't have a selfie stick, so we took simultaneous pictures of ourselves.  Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

We didn’t have a selfie stick, so we took simultaneous pictures of ourselves. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Speaking of the wife, here’s a transcript of an actual conversation we had the other night:

Jee Yeun: What are you doing?
Me: Whatever I want.
Jee Yeun: I want to do whatever I want too.
Me: As long as whatever you want to do is what I want you to do, you can!

See, it’s all about compromise.

Alright then, I’ll wrap up this overly long post with a quick update on my darting life.  I had a tough match against the top female player in singles league, but managed to eek out a 10-6 victory.  I’ll need to play better this Sunday when I go mano a mano with the guy currently occupying first place.  I’m going to try and take him down a notch.

In pub league action, the Dillinger’s Dartitis Quarantine continues to roll.  We beat the Gecko’s Jeckles last night 25-14.  I was happy to go 5-1 in singles against their top two players.  The 2-4 performance in doubles was disappointing but some things were beyond my control.  We are solidly in second place and play our rivals the Dillinger’s Dill Pickles who have the top spot in the standings.

And now you haven’t missed a thing from my so-called life.

 

 

A league of distinguished gentlemen

Minus one.

Two of these guys have published books.  One is just proud to know them.

Two of these guys have published books. One is just proud to know them.

Yesterday I had the distinct honor of hanging out with Young Chun and Kevin Kim enjoying beverages, food and conversation.  As regular readers will recall, Young recently published the story of his time as an American conscript in the Korean army. (go buy it now on Kindle for $2.99!) After reading the Kindle version I wanted a hard copy for my library and I saw on Young’s blog that he hadn’t yet acquired any bound copies for himself.

I took advantage of my Amazon Prime membership and ordered up six copies with free shipping to my APO address.

I took advantage of my Amazon Prime membership and ordered up six copies with free shipping to my APO address.  I sold five of them to Young, which he said both increased his sales and reduced his profits.  Glad to be of service!

Now, I admit to having had a somewhat selfish motivation for this purchase and delivery–I wanted to get my copy signed!  Which of course Young graciously agreed to do.

Young had anticipated that my book would be the first copy he signed, but during the week a co-worker and a student honored him with purchases and a request for an autograph.  After what appeared to be some momentary writer's block, my book now includes some gracious words in the author's handwriting.  Nice!  (this photo was shamelessly lifted from Kevin's blog.  sue me!)

Young had anticipated that my book would be the first copy he signed, but during the week a co-worker and a student honored him with purchases and a request for an autograph. After what appeared to be some momentary writer’s block, my book now includes some gracious words in the author’s handwriting. Nice! (this photo was shamelessly lifted from Kevin’s blog. sue me!)

I had arrived to the meetup a few minutes late having made a poor decision in taking the 110A bus to Itaewon instead of the subway.  Lesson learned.  Young was already halfway through his first beer by then, but I played catch-up as best I could and thereafter matched him beer for beer.  Young professes to be an introvert but he got on well with the Saturday afternoon crowd at Shenanigans.  I introduced him to the bar owner and it turns out they have a mutual friend which was pretty cool.  Also in the category of “it’s a small world”, the waitress asked me “is that Young?”.  It turns out her brother and Young are colleagues. What are the odds?

We talked about the book and some of the stuff that wasn’t included in the book.  I engaged in some good-natured ball busting about Kevin’s cultural insensitivity (after he complimented me for not using the Korean-style two finger salute in our group photo above).   And then our thoughts turned to food.  We briefly discussed eating at Shenanigans, which had the virtue of being convenient.  But I still owed Kevin a dining experience at the Oasis Mexican/barbecue buffet at the Dragon Hill Lodge on base. Young recalled the last time he was on base was for his ill-fated attempt to join the U.S. Army in order to avoid serving in the Korean military. (Read the book!)  So we hoofed it over to Yongsan Garrison and unlike our last attempt, Oasis was indeed open for business.  So we gave them some.

Now, the thing about an all-you-can-eat buffet is that I feel the need to eat more than my money’s worth.  On our first run through Kevin and I came back with heaping plates. Young returned with tiny portions of everything that barely filled half a plate.  I feared he wasn’t clear on the concept.  I shouldn’t have worried.  His strategy was to taste a bit of everything to determine what he liked best.  He then made two more visits to the buffet (versus one more for me and Kevin) and I’d judge he did indeed deplete the profit margin for Oasis last night.  Young recounted how he used to blitzkrieg the Godfather’s pizza buffet.  Coincidentally or not, Godfather’s is now bankrupt.

My guests declared the food to be to their satisfaction and I was happy about that.  Kevin had briefly considered forgoing the pulled pork as he will be making a batch today in his new slow cooker.  I pointed out that he should have some for comparison purposes and he agreed there was no flaw in that logic.  He found the Oasis iteration outstanding, so I guess he’s set a high bar for his efforts today.  Here’s a hint: It’s all about the sauce!

After leaving the restaurant, we stopped at the Dragon Hill’s designated smoking area so Young and I could feed our nasty habit.  A young man there asked if we’d like to take some of his cigarettes off his hands.  A rather odd request, but Young was down for some free smokes.  The guy explained that he was waiting on some oil for his vapor machine (and it was quite a machine!) to be delivered from the USA and he didn’t want to be tempted to smoke a whole pack.  Young graciously poured the remaining oil from his vapor cigarette into the stranger’s, and both seemed happy with the exchange.

We were all heading in different directions, but each of those destinations began at Samgakji station.  So we signed off post and hoofed it over to the subway.  I made it about 3/4 of the way before my damn leg flared up (the first time it hurt all day) so I said my goodbye’s and set down to rest.  Two minutes later I was good to go.

And so ended a very pleasant evening with my learned compadres.

 

 

What happens in Vegas…

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 weeks I will delve deep into the sewer archives of past posts to bring you a tidbit of blog history.  I had originally planned to call this series “The best of LTG”, but damn, there just wasn’t much “best” to be found.  And mediocre is too hard to spell.)

Two years ago I was in Las Vegas.  I wrote about the events of that day in a post called “I’ll never do that again!”.

We’ve encountered our share of potholes during our journey, but things seem to be on the upswing.  I aim to keep it that way.

2.JPG

With a spring in my step

Out and about taking care of business today.  Awhile back I mentioned the fiasco involving an insurance company issuing a check for roof repairs in the name of my dead father.  Thanks to some sleuthing by my son we found the potential fix.  It involves submitting a petition to the Probate Court to reopen the estate for the purpose of depositing said check (it’s over $14,000 so it’s a pretty big deal to poor folks like us).

So, I completed the petition (which to the county’s credit was in a handy PDF format).  I’m just hoping I checked all the right boxes.  Once I had filled in and printed out the form I needed to get my signature notarized.  I had checked with my bank on post and was disappointed to learn they did not offer that service.  Plan B was to visit the office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG).  And that’s what I set out to do.

I arrived at noon only to discover the *ahem* JAG was off.  Until 1300 anyway.  So the wife and I enjoyed us some Burger King and then sat outside soaking up some fine spring weather.

That's me being patient.

That’s me being patient.

At the appointed hour I scored ticket #2 in the waiting queue and soon enough I was at the counter.  I dutifully showed my Army contractor ID card and the soldier/notary asked to see my “orders”, by which he meant the paperwork I was provided when I was granted SOFA status.  Well you know, I just don’t carry those around with me and I haven’t even looked at them since I arrived back in Korea.  The soldier explained that unless my “orders” specifically included access to legal services he was not authorized to help me. I told him I assumed they did as I had been granted all the normal rights and privileges. He didn’t want to take my word for it though.  I explained I’d made a 45 minute trip in from Gireum and I really needed to get this done today.  He said he’d check with a higher up but he expected the answer would be no.  Shortly thereafter he returned and said there was no higher up available.  I gave him my best woe-is-me routine and he finally relented and notarized my signature, for which I thanked him profusely.

Next stop was the Army Post Office where I utilized Priority Mail to send the documents off to South Carolina.  Easy peezy.

Then we moved on to the bank and withdrew money to pay the rent.  Long line, but it moved fast enough I reckon.  While I had been taking care of business with the JAG, Jee Yeun had been looking through the PX circular and spotted a purse she coveted.  I pointed out that she already had a perfectly fine purse but she said it was a “winter” purse and she needed a new one for summer.  Finding it hard to argue with a logic I didn’t understand, I agreed to go to the PX after we finished our bank business.

Alright, I’m not much of a shopper.  And shopping for purses is just not something I have much comfort level doing.  But I had a picture from the circular, so how hard could it be? Excruciatingly difficult as it turned out.  I eventually found a rack with the brand of the desired purse on display, but no purse that matched the picture (or the price) of the one in the circular.  Finding a salesperson in the PX is like looking for water in the desert, but after awhile I snagged one who was hurrying by (probably trying to avoid me).  She also could not find the purse so she called out to a male employee who gruffly stated “not in stock” and walked off.  So Jee Yeun still doesn’t have a summer purse and I wasted precious minutes of my life.  (Ha, sorta like you are doing by reading this post!)

We walked back to the Dragon Hill Lodge gate to sign off post and my left leg was screaming the whole way.  Yep, it’s still doing that.  Comes and goes, and usually if I sit down for a few minutes the pain lessens and I can move along.  I needed to get to the commissary and Jee Yeun was heading into Itaewon to do the money exchange thing, so we shared a cab.  While shopping I ran into my soon to be former boss and he confirmed that legal services was included in my “orders”.  So, there’s that.

Having purchased exactly $135.00 in groceries I wasn’t feeling up to lugging them out to the bus stop.  So I grabbed one of the waiting cabs and told the driver “here’s the deal, I’m going to give you a very short fare but I’m going to pay you W5000 for it”.  He was down with that (and even turned off the meter) and five minutes later I was at the bus stop.  The 143 arrived just after I did, and we were on to Gireum-dong.

And the gaenalee is blooming.

And the gaenalee is blooming.

And that’s how my day went.

Top this!

Last night found me at Friend Bar.  Or Club Friend, depending on which signage you believe.  Dark, dank, and dirty; it is my least favorite venue in Itaewon.  I only frequent the joint when our dart team is scheduled to play there. Located halfway up “Hooker Hill” getting there always makes for an interesting walk.  It’s the only street in town where the girls call me “handsome man” and beckon me to come inside.  Although they may have actually been transgenders, who can tell?

The bar does feature some interesting art work:

Top this asshole was my mantra last night as I contributed a 9-3 performance to our team's 26-13 victory.

Top this asshole was my mantra last night as I contributed a 9-3 performance to our team’s 26-13 victory.

Did you hear about the time a Japanese, a Korean, a Canadian, and an American walked into a bar?  The called themselves "Dartitis Quarantine" and proceeded to kick some Friend Bar butt.

Did you hear about the time a Japanese, a Korean, a Canadian, and an American walked into a bar? The called themselves “Dartitis Quarantine” and proceeded to kick some Friend Bar butt.

Everyone threw exceptionally well.  It was my best night for marks in a long time.  Three of my twelve legs were 501, and all I managed was a ton-80--and lost the leg anyway.

Everyone threw exceptionally well. It was my best night for marks in a long time. Three of my twelve legs were 501, and all I managed was a ton-80–and lost the leg anyway.

So, 10-2 last week, 9-3 last night, and 14-2 in singles league on Sunday against one of the top dogs.  No idea how long this hot streak will last but I’m enjoying the hell out of the ride!

 

I’m down with that

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 weeks I will delve deep into the sewer archives of past posts to bring you a tidbit of blog history.  I had originally planned to call this series “The best of LTG”, but damn, there just wasn’t much “best” to be found.  And mediocre is too hard to spell.)

Ten years ago I was settling into my comfortable Korean life and establishing what would become my regular routines.  One of which was reading blogs of my fellow expats.  In a post called Morning reflections I wrote about one of my favorites, Big Hominid’s Hairy Chasms.

On that long ago morning I read Kevin Kim’s Easter meditation: put it down.  It was a timely post and a timeless one.  I’ve gone back to it several times over the years when I needed to be reminded of the simple wisdom of “putting it down”.  You should really read the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

You can’t see the new life of Easter if you’re always looking backward. Easter points simultaneously to the present and to the future, to hope and happiness and fulfillment. Think positively. Embrace goodness where you find it. Actively seek the good, don’t wait passively for it.

Anyway, I was hooked and have been a regular reader of Mr. Kim’s pearls and gems ever since.  Several years later I had the honor and pleasure to meet Kevin in person for the first time, and we are slated to get together again next Saturday.  This time around we’ll be joined by another blogger/author Young Chun.  I wrote about his recently published book here.

And the wheel in the sky keeps on turning.

.

 

 

Back to the future

I got the call today!

Yes, I will soon be back to where I started just over ten years ago.  My former organization called today with a job offer for a GS-13 Human Resources Specialist position–the job I took when I first journeyed to Korea.  I’ll be doing the type of work I did for most of my pre-retirement career and I’m pretty damned excited about it.  Not to mention I’ll actually be earning a living wage.

Of course, the downside is I’ll be working a full-time, 8-5 type gig again with all the stress and associated headaches that come with it.  Hopefully my work skills have not atrophied much during my four year hiatus from being a working man.  Whatever the case, I will *ahem* work through it.

For the record, I never thought I would be one of those guys who retire and then comes crawling back looking for a job. .  My plan was to spend 6 months in the USA and six months in Korea and live relatively happy ever after.  Plans change.  Turns out the wife wasn’t happy in the states and I wasn’t happy without her being there.  With my being back in Korea on a more or less permanent basis I may as well fill my days with gainful employment, right?

So as lucrative as this new old job will be (I’ll be making more than four times my current hourly wage) it is not quite as sweet as what I left behind when I retired.  Because I’m being hired “locally” from a position that doesn’t include a housing allowance I’m not eligible for one here.  Which means I won’t be moving into a big ass fancy apartment close to work like I used to enjoy.  I also won’t be getting my shit shipped over from the states.  Ah well, I have most of what I need and I’ve gotten acclimated to the commute from Giruem.  I will have to go out and purchase some appropriate work attire (slacks, shirts and ties, and maybe a suit or two).

I felt bad calling my current boss with the news.  He just got back from his sister’s funeral so it felt like piling on.  I certainly appreciated his getting me back to Korea when I really had no other viable options.  For what it’s worth, I did ask my new old organization to let me start mid-April so that I might give a reasonable notice of my departure and they agreed.

Yesterday I was finally granted access to the computer network which I should have known was a sign that I’d be departing soon.  Hopefully the transition to my new old job will go much smoother than what I’ve experienced these past few months.

Whatever.  I’m back in the game baby!

Losing it

I’m not the type of person who loses things.  I’ve never left my darts in a cab, my bag on the subway, or my wallet on the floor as have so many of my expat counterparts. Recently however I’ve apparently grown sloppy.

It started when I misplaced my office key.  Luckily, I had dropped it on the floor after locking the door and it was returned to me the following work day (after I had gone through the trouble and expense of getting a duplicate made).  Then a couple of weeks ago I left my credit card on the bar in Shenanigans.  Fortunately the bar owner found it and sent me a text message before I even knew it was gone.  And then yesterday I was feeling the need to listen to some music on the bus ride to work so I reached into my backpack for my iPod. Gone.  I figure I dropped while retrieving my darts from said backpack on Monday night. That means I lost it at either Shenanigans, Dillinger’s or Sin Bin (hey, I get around). Hopefully it will turn up as I had over 17,000 songs on that sucker.

I always figured my body would give out long before I lost my mind.  Now it appears to be a race to the finish.  Alas.

All in a days work

Well, today wasn’t supposed to be a work day but it turned into one regardless.  The big boss called a staff meeting for 8:15 this morning so of necessity my alarm caused me to arouse from my slumber at six (no easy feat after dart night!  Which went extraordinarily well; my 10-2 performance contributing to a 26-13 victory).  Since I was non-scheduled my attendance was likely not mandatory, but I figured showing the flag couldn’t hurt. Besides, I planned on making a commissary run today anyway, albeit not so damn early in the morning.  About halfway through the meeting the boss asked me when I had to catch my bus to K-16. I told him I wasn’t working.  That seemed to impress him and he told me to “take back the time from K-16″, which I take to mean cut one of my shifts down for the hour I spent in his meeting. Well, my clients expect me to be there during my posted working hours and I don’t want to let them down.  And even if I wanted to cut out early I’m a slave to the bus schedule and there is nothing to be had an hour earlier.  Ah well, it’s the thought that counts.

At the conclusion of the meeting I was awarded this blue ribbon.  Or should have been.

At the conclusion of the meeting I was awarded this blue ribbon. Or should have been.

So, I took the base bus to the commissary and then remembered that it doesn’t open until 10:00.  Well, it’s opens a 7:00 for “early bird” shoppers, but in those circumstances you are limited to 20 items or less.  My shopping list was much larger than that, so I sat around until a quarter to the hour and commenced selecting my groceries at a leisurely pace, and thus completed my rounds well after the appointed time for full-on shopping.

Regularly readers may recall that one of the few issues I have in my Korea life is with taxis.  This problem seems to also include the on-base taxi drivers. I noticed this yesterday when I took a cab from the PX into Itaewon.  Why take a cab when it’s an easy walk you ask?  Well, I was carrying 24 cans of Diet Coke in my back pack for one thing. And I’m having some pain issues with my left leg which makes no walk easy. Anyway, the fare is usually around W3000, but the driver yesterday appeared to be intentionally missing every light, yielding to other vehicles unnecessarily, and drove at an inordinately slow rate of speed.  By the time I arrived at my destination he had managed to work the fare up W4400.  The joke was on him though because I always pay W5000 for the ride, the difference between the meter and that amount constituting the tip.  My Korean is not good enough to say “you just fucked yourself buddy”, but that was my thought as I exited the cab.

Today when I entered the commissary before it’s proper opening time there were five cabs waiting for fares.  When I exited with my groceries there was not a cab in sight.  The guy behind me in the taxi queue called dispatch at least twice asking for cabs to be sent to the commissary.  Twenty minutes later still no rides.  When a cab finally did come, I let the guy who called take it.  Only seemed fair.  Ten more minutes and I was able to snag a cab dropping off a passenger.  The bastards at dispatch couldn’t be bothered I guess.  So after I finished loading my groceries in the trunk the driver asked “where to?”  I told him I’ll give you a choice, Ichon station (a W3000 ride) or Gireum station (a W20,000 fare).  He didn’t hesitate to say “Ichon please”.  So, Ichon it was.

After schlepping three large bags and a jam packed backpack down the stairs, the first train to come by was overflowing.  The next train was only two minutes away and I hoped there would be room for me and my groceries on that one.  Thankfully, that proved to be the case.  I scored the wheelchair area which afforded ample space to store my bags and a wall for me to lean against.  An ajussi encouraged me to sit with him in the seats reserved for the elderly and infirm.  Although I am both, I still didn’t feel right about it so I respectfully declined.

Admittedly, I went a little overboard with my purchases today.  Around $180. worth (a new record!) and I didn't have Jee Yeun with me to help share the burden.

Admittedly, I went a little overboard with my purchases today. Around $180. worth (a new record!) and I didn’t have Jee Yeun with me to help share the burden.

Holy crap, how am I going to get this shit home?  It turns out with great difficulty.

Holy crap, how am I going to get this shit home? It turns out with great difficulty.

I was on the wrong end of the train which necessitated traversing the entire length of Gireum station.  When I reached my exit I was distressed to see the escalator was out of service.  So I walked over to the other side and took a functioning escalator ride to the top. My arms were already screaming at this point, but I bravely marched on.  It’s an uphill walk to the apartment building and I had to stop for a rest about halfway home.  But by god, I got it done and now the larders are well-stocked with some old-fashioned American goodness.

I don't always eat frozen peas, but when I do I like them smothered in Sweet Baby Ray's!

I don’t always eat frozen peas, but when I do I like them smothered in Sweet Baby Ray’s!

Not really.  But I reckon there is someone out there who does.