Crossroads

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 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.)

KaraLynee, her parents, and my kids circa 1982.  If I knew then what I know now would I have made a different choice?

KaraLynne, her parents, and my kids circa 1982. If I knew then what I know now would I have made a different choice?

Five years ago I wrote about a seemingly innocuous decision that wound up completely changing my life in a post called “The road not taken”.

Over the course of a lifetime we obviously make many life-altering decisions. Some good, some not. I chose not to kill myself at 19.  I decided to keep my daughter rather than let her be adopted.  I made choices to get married and divorced.  And if I hadn’t decided to come to Korea ten years ago you would have been spared the pain of reading this blog.

But those are the big decisions, and you know they are going to change your life at the time you make them.  It’s those little ones, things that don’t even seem like making a meaningful choice that fascinate me.  I remember witnessing a fatal car crash back when I was around 12 years old.  And I thought at the time, if she had only left home one minute earlier or later she would not have been in this spot at this time.  What decision had she made that morning that caused her to leave home when she did and led to fatal consequences?

So, one long ago night I decided to leave my campsite and grab a beer in town.  And nothing after that was ever the same.

Update:  Heh, right after completing this post I came across this.  I took it as a sign.

Glory days

I’m throwing about the best darts of my “career” lately.  13-3 in singles league Sunday and another 7-2 in “A” division pub league action Monday night.

I had an amazing comeback in a cricket singles game on Monday.  My opponent, a hotshot Korean, opened with five 20’s.  I threw one 19 in response.  He then closed 19’s and I answered with one 18.  My adversary then hit a 9-mark (the best throw possible in cricket) consisting of three 18’s, three 17’s and three 19’s for points.

This gave him four numbers closed and 97 points, while I had two total marks.  The dart term for this situation is “being totally screwed”.  Nothing to do but fight on and hope for better results.  Which I achieved by pounding 16’s and 15’s to catch up on points and then closing the bullseye.   I had managed to close the 18’s with slop from missing the bull, but he still had 20, 19, and 17 to work with.  He took the point lead again, but then I managed a bull/triple 20/double 19 combo.  He only managed one 17 in response, and I took a bull for the points I needed, and a triple 17 for the win.

I was of course surprised to win and he was devastated to lose as evidenced by his complete collapse in the following two legs.  I guess that proves you are never really out of a game, but really what happened is my opponent used a soft-tip strategy in a steel-tip game (at least in Korea, whomever is up on points after 15 rounds on the machine wins the cricket game).  So, had he closed the 16’s and 15’s instead of trying to match my points he would have prevented any avenue to my winning the game.  And so it goes.

Speaking of Glory Days, here’s some videos from the past:

The Korea Darts Federation final between Alastair “All-Star” Tarbett (Scotland) and John “The Walrus” McCrarey (USA)

A video where Hitler learns his dart team has to face Itaewon’s Ride it In for the championship.

What Bruce said.

The Facebook of blogging

Blogging is dead.  Long live blogging!

Rumor has it that blogs have become passe, and new-fangled formats like Twitter and Facebook are where all the cool kids share their thoughts and musings with the world. Although I keep up with friends and family on Facebook (and sometimes impart pearls of wisdom there), rest assured I save my “best” for my loyal readers here at LTG.  Ha! You’ve no doubt never heard “best” used in that context before.  To which I can only say “shut up!”

But things do change of course.  As I’ve delved through the archives of my blogging history I’ve noticed that I moved away from writing about politics and evolved into more of an autobiographical mode.  Hell, I’ll call this blog what it is–a personal diary.  Which of course holds little interest to the world at large, but I’m a subject matter expert on the fascinating topic of me.  So I reckon I’ll just keep on keeping on until I’m not.

I like what James Lileks had to say about the so-called death of blogging:

If blogs are dying I suppose I shall go with them, he said, using “shall” to put you in mind of someone tossing a scarf over his shoulder and facing the bracing wind. There’s been a few stories here and there about the expiration of the form, occasioned perhaps by Andrew Sullivan stepping away, and noting how everything is going Social and Sharable.

Am I worried about time and trends passing me by? Not at all. This has always been just what it is since the very first entry, and while it’s expanded in length and subject, I am not going to convert it to a series of sharable snacks for Facebook feeds. Perhaps that’s unwise. But I hate Facebook and have no desire to spend any time there, so tailoring the Bleat or lileks.com for Zuckerberg’s dull blue borg cube would be like spending a lot of time and money getting fitted for clothes I don’t like so I can blend in amongst people I don’t know in a country I don’t like.

Anyway: it worries me a little that “blogs are dying,” because if so we lose the idea of a place where people speak their piece, as oppose to speak in pieces.

While most blogs weren’t deathless examples of great writing, there was the opportunity for individualism, and you don’t get that from a Pinterest page. You don’t get it from a feed of things snipped and reblogged and pinned and shoveled into The Feed. The web turns into bushels of confetti shoveled into a jet engine, and while something does emerge out the other end, it’s usually made impressive by its velocity and volume, not the shape it makes.

Now, I don’t Twitter but I do on occasion read Tweets.  Usually on Twitchy or on Kevin Kim’s sidebar. And I don’t hate Facebook, but quite a few folks do.  I find it to be a useful tool for staying in touch with far flung friends.  If you are not my “friend” on Facebook, look at what you’ve missed this week:

I don’t recall ever recovering from a nine mark. Until tonight. 3-0 in cricket singles.

Back to normal after the holidays, standing room only on the subway. A seat came open in front of me, but I offered it to the woman standing beside me. A couple of stops later the seat next to her opened up but as I was in the process of sitting down the train jerked throwing me off balance and I wound up stepping directly on her foot. I apologized profusely but if looks could kill I would not be here to write this post. I’m not sure there is a moral to this story but it wasn’t the greatest start to the day. I guess for either of us.

As usual, Mark Steyn nails it.

Thank you Canada!

Mission accomplished! (if you only click one link, this is the one. Hilarious!)

Be careful out there guys.

So, the State Department asked for ideas on how to counter “violent extremism” by adherents of a religion that must not be named. Senator Tom Cotton’s response was beautiful. (Heh, I just realized that I found this link on Twitter, shared it on Facebook, and have now posted it on the blog.  Fusion baby!

Anyway, you get the idea.  It has been written  that “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”.  This time for blogging has come to an end because it is my purpose to now eat lunch!

Yep, Jee Yeun has prepared me one of her internationally famous "egga burgers"!

Yep, Jee Yeun has prepared me one of her internationally famous “egga burgers”!

 

 

It only hurts until the pain goes away

My tooth starting hurting Tuesday night.  Being on the cusp of the long Seollal holiday I figured I’d have to tough it out until next Tuesday (Monday being a workday).  For the first couple of days I managed the pain with large doses of Tylenol and Alleve.   By Friday though those wonder drugs were not having much impact.  I also read the warning label which advised in bold print that taking acetaminophen at the dose I was consuming and drinking three or more alcoholic drinks could lead to liver damage.  Knowing that Friday night darts were looming I went out and purchased some old fashioned Bayer aspirin.

When I arrived at the bar the pain was approaching a level best described as excruciating, despite having recently downed three tablets of Bayer. The OB’s I was drinking did seem to take the edge off the pain some, so I kept on drinking them until I was in a state of inebriation.  The tooth probably still hurt, I just didn’t care anymore.  I experienced a good night of drunken slumber, but awoke this morning with the pain back at full volume.  In desperation, I dialed the number for the U.S. Dentist clinic I had visited when I encountered similar difficulties last year.

Conveniently located across the street from Ichon station.

Conveniently located across the street from Ichon station.

A masculine sounding female answered “hello” in English.  I said “is this Dr. Sohn?”  She replied affirmatively so I asked if she was open today and joy of joys she was.  I told her I was suffering and asked if she could see me today.  She said she’d call back in 30 minutes, and true to her word she did and offered me an 11:00.

She takes my pain away!

She takes my pain away!

As I suspected, I was once again experiencing the agony of an abscess.  This time it was in a “live” tooth and as I expected the recommended treatment was a root canal.  That little prick in my mouth was a blessing.  (I’m talking about the Novocaine shot you sick bastards.)  Once I was numb Dr. Sohn set about removing the offending nerves that had led to my misery and in less than an hour the work was done.  It set me back W450,000 but you really can’t put a price tag on elimination of pain, right?  I’ll go back next week for the crown which will also no doubt be as expensive as it necessary.  Easy come, easy go and all that jazz.

Having not eaten since noon on Friday I came home from the dentist feeling hungry.  So I set about preparing a remedy.

I've never cooked in one of these Korean stoneware pots before.

I’ve never cooked in one of these Korean stoneware pots before.

Turns out they are perfect for making chili!  Back home I always used a slow cooker, but this method worked perfectly.

Turns out they are perfect for making chili! Back home I always used a slow cooker, but this method worked just as well and was a damn site quicker.

And damn it was delicious, if I do say so myself.  Now, I like my chili with cornbread but given my lack of a proper oven, I made do with a baguette from where else, Paris Baguette.

And damn it was delicious, if I do say so myself. Now, I like my chili with cornbread but given my lack of a proper oven, I made do with a baguette from where else, Paris Baguette.

After consuming two bowls, I took the antibiotic capsule prescribed by Dr. Sohn.  Then I took a nap.  I awoke refreshed and pain free!  Woo Hoo!

Finally, there’s this:

This was posted above the urinal in the subway restroom.  Given my lack of reading skills I imagined it was the urinal's unhappy response to being pissed on all day, everyday.  Alas, Jee Yeun says it's an advertisement for men who have trouble with urination.  Me, I have the opposite problem.  I have to pee so frequently it's downright embarrassing.

This was posted above the urinal in the subway restroom. Given my lack of reading skills I imagined it was the urinal’s unhappy response to being pissed on all day, everyday. Alas, Jee Yeun says it’s an advertisement for men who have trouble with urination. Me, I have the opposite problem. I have to pee so frequently it’s downright embarrassing.

And that’s all I’ve got for you today.  Well, there is the song I always sing to myself while reclining in Dr. Sohn’s dental chair.

Requiem for a dream

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 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.)

Three years ago I had the strangest dream that I wrote about in Here’s the story. What was weird about this dream was the vivid detail it encompassed and the fact that I actually remembered the damn thing long enough to put into words.

Re-reading that post last night revealed some connotations that seem relevant to current events.  At what point do we stop being responsible for the sins of our forefathers?  In my dream I paid a terrible price in reparation for the tragedy of slavery.  If the president is to be believed (and why shouldn’t we believe a serial liar?) the murderous bastards in the Middle East are no worse than the Christian crusaders way back in the dark ages.  Well, I’m not going there in this post, but if I can forgive the Romans for enslaving my Scottish ancestors, why can’t we all just find a way to get along?

Speaking of dreams, my friend Jeremy made an appearance during my sleep last night.  Not much substance in this one, but he was out of jail and heading to Japan for some reason.  Anyway, it’s been on my mind to pay him another visit at the jailhouse and I guess my subconscious was reminding me to get ‘er done.

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Happy Lunar New Year, or as they say in Korea, Seollal.  I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one confused about whether this is the year of the Lamb, Sheep or Goat.  Me, I’m going with Ram.  Sue me.

What I like best about this three day holiday is Seoul actually slows down a bit, with a goodly portion of the population heading out of town for family gatherings.

Wednesday morning 0700, line 4, Gireum to Samgakji.  I normally have to stand for half the trip, but not yesterday.  And my bus ride out to K-16 took half the normal time.  Is this a great country or what?

Wednesday morning 0700, line 4, Gireum to Samgakji. I normally have to stand for half the trip, but not yesterday. And my bus ride out to K-16 took half the normal time. Is this a great country or what?

UPDATE:

I guess yesterday was the calm before the storm.

I guess yesterday was the calm before the storm.

 

If the six turned up to be nine

I don’t mind.

I’m channeling that old Jimi Hendrix song this morning.  I went 5-1 in singles last night, 2-1 in doubles.  So, that adds up to nine.  And that’s about as far as I can carry the reference. It was a good and close match against the Bull and Barrel team, so we needed every leg we won.

Not that I expect anyone to care.

Here’s the song.

“You can possible to go at low cost”

Back home from a weekend deep in the heart of the south of South Korea.  Specifically Busan, Haeundae Beach, and Taejongdae.  Took the nephew along in order to celebrate his birthday and also to serve as a foil for my rapier-like wit.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story…

The picture is not blurry, that's how we look at 300 km/h.  Jee Yeun's daughter's boyfriend works for Korea Rail and scored us some discounted tickets which made an already sweet ride even sweeter.

The picture is not blurry, that’s how we look at 300 km/h. Jee Yeun’s daughter’s boyfriend works for Korea Rail and scored us some discounted tickets which made an already sweet ride even sweeter.

Less than 3 hours after boarding the train in Seoul we disembarked at Busan Station.  Then we hopped in a cab for the ride out to Haeundae beach.

Less than 3 hours after boarding the train in Seoul we disembarked at Busan Station. Then we hopped in a cab for the ride out to Haeundae beach.

Upon arrival the first order of business was securing lodging for the night.  I kinda liked the look, well name anyway, of this place.

Upon arrival the first order of business was securing lodging for the night. I kinda liked the look, well name anyway, of this place.

Jee Yeun wanted clean and comfortable and cheap, so this is where we stayed.  Obviously, the place didn't blow, even if it did *ahem* Blue.  Actually, it was fine and no complaints about the W35,000 rate.

Jee Yeun wanted clean and comfortable and cheap, so this is where we stayed. Obviously, the place didn’t blow, even if it did *ahem* Blue. Actually, it was fine and no complaints about the W35,000 rate.

With lodging secured, we hiked a couple of blocks to the waterfront.

With lodging secured, we hiked a couple of blocks to the waterfront.

The obligatory beachside photo...

The obligatory beachside photo…

And we enjoyed a nice sunset...

And we enjoyed a nice sunset…

And then it was time to eat.  Justin and Jee Yeun insisted on a meal featuring raw fish.  The only time I've ever gotten sick eating in Korea was on raw fish, coincidentally at Haeundae.  So, I wasn't very enthusiastic about their choice.  Still, there was denying the fish was fresh...

And then it was time to eat. Justin and Jee Yeun insisted on a meal featuring raw fish. The only time I’ve ever gotten sick eating in Korea was on raw fish, coincidentally at Haeundae. So, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about their choice. Still, there was denying the fish was fresh…

The restaurant we chose had a nice ocean view...

The restaurant we chose had a nice ocean view…

...and offered an impressive selection of side dishes...

…and offered an impressive selection of side dishes…

I had to admit the presentation of the uncooked fish was appealing.  In the foreground you can see my way of eating fish, which is just what I did.  They also brought me a nice fish stew, so I was satisfied.

I had to admit the presentation of the uncooked fish was appealing. In the foreground you can see my way of eating fish, which is just what I did. They also brought me a nice fish stew, so I was satisfied.

Our hunger satiated, we went for a little hike around the back side of the Westin Chosun.  That's the APEC conference center on the right, which was still under construction during my previous visit...

Our hunger satiated, we went for a little hike around the back side of the Westin Chosun. That’s the APEC conference center on the right, which was still under construction during my previous visit…

The are around Haeundae has really built up as well.  Justin and I debated just how tall these massive apartment complex's were.  Our guesstimates ranged from 50 to 80 stories...

The area around Haeundae has really built up as well. Justin and I debated just how tall these massive apartment complex’s were. Our guesstimates ranged from 50 to 80 stories…

Having walked a fair piece, I was getting thirsty.  For beer.  We came across a covey of pochangmacha's that filled that void nicely...

Having walked a fair piece, I was getting thirsty. For beer. We came across a covey of pochangmacha’s that filled that void nicely…

busan18

Justin and Jee Yeun had ddokgochi and I had a chicken-on-the-stick. Truth be told none of us enjoyed the food. But the beer was cold.

The beach at Haeundae is  undergoing a revitalization project.  I don't know why, but I found the construction work strangely pornographic...

The beach at Haeundae is undergoing a revitalization project. I don’t know why, but I found the construction work strangely pornographic…

Down on the boardwalk.  Well, it was technically concrete, but you get the meaning.  Saturday had been nice, but Sunday morning was overcast and chilly.  We had planned on taking the boat to Taejongdae, but alas, there no longer is such a boat from Haeundae.  So, we took a cab instead.

Down on the boardwalk. Well, it was technically concrete, but you get the meaning. Saturday had been nice, but Sunday morning was overcast and chilly. We had planned on taking the boat to Taejongdae, but alas, there no longer is such a boat from Haeundae. So, we took a cab instead.

Our cab ride took us over the old bridge...

Our cab ride took us over the old bridge…

...and the new bridge.  I've got to say, Busan cabbies seem much chattier than the ones in Seoul.  Our driver on this ride drove like a madman, and answered his kakao messages while driving.  Some crazy guy on a motorbike (excuse the redundancy) darted across an intersection against the light in front of us, how we missed him I'll never know.  The ride was a thrill a minute, that's for sure...

…and the new bridge. I’ve got to say, Busan cabbies seem much chattier than the ones in Seoul. Our driver on this ride drove like a madman, and answered his kakao messages while driving. Some crazy guy on a motorbike (excuse the redundancy) darted across an intersection against the light in front of us, how we missed him I’ll never know. The ride was a thrill a minute, that’s for sure…

Against all odds we arrived safely in the comparatively sleepy village of Taedongchae.

Against all odds we arrived safely in the comparatively sleepy village of Taejongdae.

Were we enjoyed us some lunch before heading up the mountain...

Were we enjoyed us some lunch before heading up the mountain…

I don't want to leave the impression that we actually walked to the top (which would be similar to climbing Namsam).  Instead we opted for this Disney-like tram ride.

I don’t want to leave the impression that we actually walked to the top (which would be similar to climbing Namsam). Instead we opted for this Disney-like tram ride.

Up top we saw buildings on rocks...

Up top we saw buildings on rocks…

...people on rocks...

…people on rocks…

...fresh fish on the rocks...

…fresh fish on the rocks…

and rocks on the water...

and rocks on the water…

Now, I heard the English speaking recording on the tram ride say this is the spot where the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan) meets the South sea.  Justin insisted it is where East meets West.  Hell if I know.

Now, I heard the English speaking recording on the tram ride say this is the spot where the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan) meets the South sea. Justin insisted it is where East meets West. Hell if I know.

We encountered this topless young lady, but frankly I thought there was something fishy about her...

We encountered this topless young lady, but frankly I thought there was something fishy about her…

The obligatory pose in front of the lighthouse.

The obligatory pose in front of the lighthouse.

The whole experience left me feeling rather contemplative.

The whole experience left me feeling rather contemplative.

Having seen the sights we headed back to Busan station.  With some time to kill before our train, we ventured out to "Chinatown".  All I can say is that the Russians have successfully invaded and conquered this part of China.  You might notice as I did that almost all the signage is in Cyrillic.

Having seen the sights we headed back to Busan station. With some time to kill before our train, we ventured out to “Chinatown”. All I can say is that the Russians have successfully invaded and conquered this part of China. You might notice as I did that almost all the signage is in Cyrillic.

Although this sign wasn't.

Although this sign wasn’t.

We decided to spend our final hour in Busan going full on Korea-style.  Which I define as sitting outside drinking and snacking and smoking.

We decided to spend our final hour in Busan going full on Korea-style. Which I define as sitting outside drinking and snacking and smoking.

And so ended our Valentine's day adventure.

And so ended our Valentine’s day adventure.

 

Baby it’s cold outside

(In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 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.)

I’m fixin’ to head down south to Busan for the weekend where I expect the weather to be at least somewhat warmer.  And really, these past couple of days haven’t been all that bad.  Monday though was bone chillingly cold and made me think wistfully of my original plan to winter in South Carolina every year.  Although that’s no sure bet either.  One year ago I wrote Meanwhile, in Iceland about a somewhat rare weather event in Columbia that left my yard looking like this:

Today that snow base is covered with a sheet of ice.  Hard to get a good picture of it, but it's rock hard and slick as a skating rink.  I nearly fell on my ass several times in the process of taking this photo...

That’s a sheet of ice, slick and slippery as a skating rink…

Ah well, complaining about the weather is better suited to grumpy old men.  Oh wait.

On the one hand

I have prevailed in my battle with Blue Cross for reimbursement of a claim for my comprehensive physical at Soonchunhwang hospital last April.  They paid $1288. on a bill of $1378., which is admittedly pretty sweet.  But they didn’t make it easy.

On the other hand, I have to pay the insurance on my stateside house, which coincidentally is $1300.  So, I guess the universe (or at least my bank account) is in balance.

I had to chuckle over a cc: email I received regarding my security clearance application.  It basically said “this guy held a higher level clearance than you are asking for now, so we don’t need to do another background investigation”.  Which is what I’ve been saying all along.  Anyway, I now have the clearance required for me to be permitted to utilize the DoD computer network.

So, I spent the better part of my non-work day today at the Yongsan office of my employer trying to get my access to said computer network squared away.  I have to submit a form with my electronic signature to request access, which of course means I have to do it online.  And while I have succeeded in getting my electronic signature to work, I can’t submit the required form because I can’t access the computer network.  Someone should write a book about military Catch-22’s.  Oh wait, they did.

Anyway, I think the problem is that I’m still in the system under my former life as a civilian employee.  I now need to be re-designated as a contractor, but my efforts to accomplish that online were fruitless “that SSN is already being utilized by an account holder” was all I could get from AKO (Army Knowledge Online).  Which means I’m going to have to speak with a human being on the help desk back in the states.  Which I guess will mean staying up late one of these nights.

Well, I did manage to take the required training that is a prerequisite for being granted access to the network.  It took over an hour and was pretty much common sense.  I really liked the section on identifying “internal security threats”.  It was a little interactive game where you had to note the classic characteristics of Edward Snowden someone who wants to steal and misuse government secrets.  I caught all of those deceptive bastards!

I passed the final exam and will upload the results.  Once I’m granted access to the network.  Which can’t happen until I’ve uploaded the results.

And the circle remains unbroken.

Where did I leave off?

Oh yeah, it was Friday.  Well, I did my half-day of duty at K-16.  Zero customers, but loneliness is in my job description.  Apparently. I have mastered the fine art of sleeping on the paid bus ride back to Yongsan though, so there’s that.

I then hiked into Itaewon and enjoyed some beers at Shenanigans before moving next door to Dolce Vita for the Friday night darts tournament.  Didn’t have much success during the tourney, but my ticket was drawn for the trip shoot (3 darts at the triple of a randomly drawn number).  I managed to hit two triple 16s, which was good for a sweet W180,000.

Saturday night found me back at Shenanigans for a meet-up with my nephew Justin.

Justin brought along his language exchange partner Yeonwook, who was plenty friendly.

Justin brought along his language exchange partner Yeonwook, who was plenty friendly.

Justin has a birthday this week, so Jeonwook snuck out to Baskin-Robbins and returned with an ice cream birthday cake.  Beer and ice cream, better than you might think.

Justin has a birthday this week, so Yeonwook snuck out to Baskin-Robbins and returned with an ice cream birthday cake. Beer and ice cream, better together than you might think.

This coming weekend Justin will be joining the wife and I on a trip down to Busan, or more likely, Haeundae beach.  I reckon I’m about due for a change of scenery.

On Sunday, it was back to Itaewon yet again for some Singles League dart action.

I've been on a roll, but admittedly I have yet to play the top players in the league.  I'll get my comeuppance one day soon.

I’ve been on a roll, but admittedly I have yet to play the top players in the league. I’ll get my comeuppance one day soon.

I do believe Monday morning was the coldest day I’ve experienced since my return to Korea.  It was a chilling walk to the subway and then to the bus station on Yongsan. By the afternoon it had warmed up considerably so I figured my afternoon hike would be more pleasant.  But right at quitting time it began to snow.

Actually, the snow was more pleasant than the biting wind had been.  Plus, it is kinda pretty.

Actually, the snow was more pleasant than the biting wind had been. Plus, it is kinda pretty.

Monday night was the pub league match against our sister team from Dillinger’s bar.  They are by far the best team in Itaewon which they amply demonstrated by handing us an old fashioned ass kicking.  My 1-8 performance certainly did not help.

In other news, I’m still holding on to some fading hopes that I might substantially improve my employment situation.  Everyone professes to want me back, except the one person who doesn’t know me, who is also the person I’d be working for should I be hired.  I have reason to believe that her reluctance stems from a fear that as the former boss I might not adapt well to being a worker bee.  Although truth be told, that’s exactly what I prefer to be.  Anyway, I gave her a call on Monday and said I’d like the opportunity to sit down with her and address whatever concerns she may have about me.  She agreed to do that, but wasn’t able to say when.  I gave her my phone number and now I will await a call that may or may not come.

Today I have frittered away the hours in the depths of a CIV IV game.

And that’s about it for this iteration of my so-called life.

T

Gone but not forgotten

(In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next5251 50 49 48 47 46  45 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.)

Best picture I have available at the moment.

Best picture I have available at the moment.

In 2008 I was Remembering Linda Ketner on the fourth anniversary of her passing. She was my best friend and soul mate.  I’m still missing her.  I wonder how she would react to the twists and turns my life has taken since she left this world.  Actually, I know.  She’d laugh at the silly boy who can never seem to get things quite right. Then she’d give me a hug and tell me that I’ll get there.  Eventually.

Thank you for that.

 

 

 

The steps of Itaewon

The world famous "arch of Itaewon".  Suck it St. Louis!

The world famous “arch of Itaewon”. Suck it St. Louis!

Ah, Itaewon.  The infamous foreigner district of Seoul.  Well known for it’s eclectic international dining options, vibrant nightlife, and plenty of sleaze for those depraved enough to seek it out.  I like it!

Now, I’m into the darting scene and I’d wager Itaewon hosts the greatest concentration of dart bars in the known world.  But do you know what’s more ubiquitous than the pubs?  Coffee shops!  Korean’s surely do love their coffee.

Today I had occasion to be out and about in Itaewon during daylight hours and I decided to answer a question I’ve long pondered: just how far away are you from a caffeine fix should the need strike?  Here’s what I discovered.

Starting at the arch pictured above, I walked 55 steps and encountered this bastion of a little known coffee chain:

It's a long way from Seattle...

It’s a long way from Seattle…

I ventured forward another 80 steps to find:

stepsofitaewon22

Ediya is a pretty large chain in Korea, but this is a rather small outlet.

And then I entered a coffee desert, walking around 140 steps before I arrived at:

I couldn't be bothered to get a decent photo (I felt like a freakin' tourist as was), but this coffeesmith is huge, the photo captures about 1/3 of its frontage...

I couldn’t be bothered to get a decent photo (I felt like a freakin’ tourist as was), but this coffeesmith is huge, the photo captures about 1/3 of its frontage…

Now, for those folks who can’t go that kind of distance without coffee, you might have the good fortune to encounter this:

The coffee ajumma and her cart of goodness...

The coffee ajumma and her cart of goodness…

Another 100 or more steps led me to a virtual coffee oasis:

Neal's Yard Coffee on this side of the street...

Neal’s Yard Coffee on this side of the street…

And directly across the street there’s this:

A gigantic Tom N Tom's coffee house...

A gigantic Tom N Tom’s coffee house…

And right next door to Tom N Tom’s:

An equally large Marley's Coffee.  Which strikes me as a more appropriate name for an Amsterdam-style coffee shop...

An equally large Marley Coffee. Which strikes me as a more appropriate name for an Amsterdam-style coffee shop…

A short walk past the Hamilton Hotel and you encounter:

Holly's Coffee, which appears to be larger than Tom N Tom's and Marley combined...

Holly’s Coffee, which appears to be larger than Tom N Tom’s and Marley combined…

And I think Holly’s next door neighbor is larger still:

Definitely giving Homestead the best signage award.  I really dig that coffee cup!

Definitely giving Homestead the best signage award. I really dig that coffee cup!

If you don’t think bigger is better, you can just pop across the street:

To the second coffeesmith in Itaewon.  Up until a couple of months ago, this was a Starbucks...

To the second coffeesmith in Itaewon. Up until a couple of months ago, this was a Starbucks…

Onward we must go, and it isn’t far until we see:

A Nescafe cafe.  Not to be redundant...

A Nescafe cafe. Not to be redundant…

Or perhaps you like to dunk a donut in your coffee:

stepsofitaewon10

Have at it!  Now, that NY Hotdog Coffee place is technically on a side street, and I’m limiting this expose to the main drag in Itaewon…

Less than a hundred more steps until you can quench your coffee hankering here:

The secret to a good cup of Joe starts with the bean, right?

The secret to a good cup of Joe starts with the bean, right?

I don’t know if this is German or not, but it’s next door to the establishment pictured above:

Hell, I don't know what that is supposed to mean.  Reminds me of the internet for some reason...

Hell, I don’t know what that is supposed to mean. Reminds me of the internet for some reason…

But wait, there’s more!

This is sort of a specialty dessert with your coffee kind of place.  Or so I've been led to believe...

This is sort of a specialty dessert with your coffee kind of place. Or so I’ve been led to believe…

And then, right across the road you can get a coffee and chocolate craving satisfied…

stepsofitaewon8

And making like a bookend, Starbucks has also anchored the other end of Itaewon…

Another monstrous venue for coffee...

Another monstrous venue for coffee…

I've always considered the Chiel building to be the line of demarcation--Itaewon ends, Hannam-dong begins.  Plus I used to live just behind the Chiel back in the good ol' days...

I’ve always considered the Cheill building to be the line of demarcation–Itaewon ends, Hannam-dong begins. Plus I used to live just behind the Cheil back in the good ol’ days…

So, there you have it.  Roughly six city blocks and no less than 16 coffee houses.  And that’s not counting places like McDonald’s and restaurants that will happily serve up some java upon request.  Additionally, every alley and back street is replete with hole-in-the-wall style coffee shops..

And if you are broke and desperate, there’s always this option:

A taste of Joe for the Korean equivalent of 40 cents...

A taste of Joe for the Korean equivalent of 40 cents…

Now, I suppose regular readers may be wondering what the hell I was doing in Itaewon during daylight hours.  The sad fact of the matter is I lost misplaced a key that I require, and the only place I know that makes American-style keys is in the heart of Itaewon.  I figured if I was going to go through the hassle of making the trip in from Gireum-dong I’d at least generate a blog post while I was it.

And since I had to go on base to pick up some mail (what I hoped was a royalty check from my inherited oil leases, but alas, it was just the notice about Uncle Sam taking his fair share) I did a little shopping for some necessities.

Propane for the gas grill...

Propane for the gas grill…

A resupply of diet Cokes.  I squeezed 36 cans into my backpack, a new record, but quite the backbreaker.  Why 36 cans all at once you ask?  Because they were three 12-packs for ten bucks, or $4.50 each.  Yeah, I'm a cheap bastard.

A resupply of diet Cokes. I squeezed 36 cans into my backpack, a new record, but quite the backbreaker. Why 36 cans all at once you ask? Because they were three 12-packs for ten bucks, or $4.50 each. Yeah, I’m a cheap bastard.

stepsofitaewon3

I also brought home an 8 piece Popeye’s chicken dinner and two Whopper Jr.’s (Jee Yeun loves them for some reason).

And so ends today’s big adventure.

Aren’t I?

all signs point to yes.

all signs point to yes.

As I noted in this post, last week I walked out on my team over what amounted to nothing more than a misunderstanding (and my being a dick about it).  After stewing on it all week I made the decision to rejoin the team in time for last night’s action at the Friends bar.  I reviewed the joint back in 2009, and let’s just say things have not improved.  In fact, it is the only venue I have seen that still allows smoking inside, a direct contravention of Korean law.  But then, the bartender’s poodle sat on the bar for most of the night which must violate some health law or another.  “Rules?  We don’t need no stinkin’ rules” would be an appropriate motto for this establishment, which not so coincidentally is located smack dab in the middle of Hooker Hill.

Anyway, I’m not complaining.  Much.  I played well enough to go 3-3 in my singles matches, and 3-0 with my doubles partner.  They are a strong all-Korean team so it was gratifying to take home a dominating 27-12 victory.  It was a fun night and everyone got along affirming that my decision to stick by my commitment to this team was the right one.

I rarely venture up “the Hill” these days.  But there was a time when I spent many hours in a tiny little bar called Debut.  I dropped by for a quick beer on my way home.  Nothing stays the same I suppose.  Not even me.

This photo of me on the Debut Wall of Shame Fame circa 2006 is still there.  The person I was back then has moved on.

This photo of me on the Debut Wall of Shame Fame circa 2006 is still there. The person I was back then has moved on. (I’m the guy in the suit and tie if you’re wondering).

And the journey continues.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Day of days

I’ve been throwing darts for going on ten years now, but I’ve never had a performance anything like this.

A 15-dart game.  Of course, the pro's can do it in 9, but I ain't no pro.

A 15-dart game. Of course, the pro’s can do it in 9, but I ain’t no pro.

It was especially sweet because I finished the game prior to this one with a 157 out, so that’s 6 straight throws of 100 or more.  Of course, I couldn’t keep up that kind of pace, but I threw well for the rest of the afternoon.

I needed all those good darts because my opponent was also having a good day...

I needed all those good darts because my opponent was also having a good day…

I actually was not scheduled to play James at all.  I won my scheduled match 14-2 and then took pity on James who had been stood up by his opponent.  I was thinking it was a mistake for me to play a second match because I was already pretty drunk tired.  But I found the zone and wound up having my best ever.  Go figure.

A great adventure

(In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next5251 50 49 48 47 46 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.)

If you define adventure as my first ever ambulance ride and my first encounter with a Korean emergency room, that is.  It had me in stitches anyway.  I wrote all about that fateful day nine years ago in Stupid is as stupid does.

Now, to this day I maintain the incident was not alcohol related.  Granted, I had been drinking but I was not drunk.  Some say I tripped, but I think the combination of standing abruptly while coughing and laughing simultaneously caused me to black out.  Whatever the case, the next day I looked like this:

stupidis

 

That bites

I invited a friend and fellow blogger Kevin Kim out for dinner at the Oasis in the Dragon Hill Lodge on Yongsan Garrison.  I was really looking forward to the Mexican buffet (which also features some pretty nice barbecue) and I’m sure he was too.  I even had the foresight to go online and confirm they were open for dinner on Wednesday night. So, I was sorely disappointed when we arrived only to be greeted by sign saying “closed for repairs”.  Thanks for keeping your webpage updated.  Bastards.

We settled for dinner at another DHL eatery, Greenstreets.  It was fine I suppose, just not what I had anticipated or wanted.  Kevin did the Reuben sandwich and I had some surf and turf (sirloin steak and salmon).  Kevin proclaimed the Reuben tasty, despite some sogginess in the bottom portion of bread.  My meal was good, but not spectacular.  Well, the baked potato was disappointing–not sure when it was baked but it was barley warm.

Anyway, we had a nice chat over dinner and then Kevin, as is his wont, hiked the 20,000 steps back to his residence.  I opted for the subway.

I hope he’ll give me the opportunity to redeem myself by sharing the promised Mexican buffet at some date in the future.

Drama queen

Regular readers know how much I despise dart league drama.  Which makes it especially distressing to report what a little bitch I was last night.

I finished work and arrived back at Yongsan as per usual at 1600.  Grabbed me some dinner at Popeye’s on base then hoofed it into Itaewon.  Had a couple of beers at Shenanigans while I awaited the the 6:00 p.m. opening of Dolce Vita.  Got in some practice at DV and then made my way over to Dillinger’s where my team (Dartitis Quarantine) was playing the opening match of the season against Gecko’s.

I arrived at 7:10, and the match was scheduled to begin at 7:30.  Other than a couple of greetings no one said anything to me.  Our regular team Captain was out sick.  And then the match started, so I looked at the score sheet and saw I had not been scheduled for the first round of singles.  We had five players, and only four can play so someone has to sit. And that was me.  I mentioned to another player that I was surprised to not be playing and he said “you were the last one to arrive”.  And for whatever reason that set me off, especially since I’d spent the last hour warming up at DV.  I’m not the best thrower on the team, but I’m also not the worst.  So, it didn’t seem that we were putting our strongest lineup up against a tough opponent.

As I set there stewing on it, I just decided to say “fuck it” and leave.  The team didn’t really need me and I was feeling unappreciated.  So I walked out on the team.  I sent a message to the absent Captain saying I knew it was a dick move, but it didn’t seem like I was a good fit for the team.

He didn’t respond until this morning, and it was a terse “do what you gotta do.  A little more notice would have been nice so we could fill the team”.  I replied that I wouldn’t have left if the team was short a player, but with four other guys I was not needed.  He answered that my saying I was not a good fit for the team implied that I had quit for the season and that is what he had told the team.  Which I take to mean I’ve been fired.

Anyway, I was way out of line.  Upon *ahem* sober reflection this morning I recognize that my behavior was totally unacceptable.  I sent a message to my teammates apologizing and a couple have been gracious in their acceptance of said apology.  And that’s where things stand.  I’ve not decided on next steps, although if I want to play I’m sure I can find a team that would be happy to have me.  Even if I’ve become the stereotypical grumpy old man.

After my premature departure from Dillinger’s I returned to DV and worked on drowning my sorrows with frosty mugs of Cass beer.  An acquaintance named Brad came in and joined me at the bar and we spent a delightful couple of hours chatting about politics and the minds and hearts of Korean women.  Honestly speaking, I enjoyed that much better than I would have playing darts in my foul mood.

I got on the subway for the ride home and realized I didn’t have my darts.  Texted the owner of Dillinger’s who found them where I’d left them upstairs, so they are in safe keeping for now.  Although he did threaten to sell them to buy me some diapers.  Which of course is the kind of abuse I have so rightfully earned.

And so it goes.

 

 

On this day

Ah, Sunday.  Did my usual this morning.  Which means perusing Facebook and exploring the internets.  Enjoyed this story from blog buddy Kevin Kim in which he relates an encounter with the Korean police (it’s about midway through the post).  As far as I can ascertain, he was guilty of WWW–walking while white.  Or half-white anyway.

It's just doesn't pay to be melanin challenged these days.

It’s just doesn’t pay to be melanin challenged these days.

Today is also the first day of the new Seoul Sunday Singles League season.  I founded and administer the league, and I’ve been busy with various preparatory tasks (schedules, rosters, stat spread sheets and the like).  Match play begins at 5:00, and I believe all stands in readiness.

Prior to utilizing the traditional darts aiming fluid (aka beer), I have found preparing an appropriate foundation is beneficial. Today I went with burritos.

Browning a pound of American ground beef...

Browning a pound of American ground beef…

The secret to success is using the right combination of seasonings.  Or you can do it my way and buy a mix.

The secret to success is using the right combination of seasonings. Or you can do it my way and buy a mix.

Lettuce, tomato, green onion, cheese, salsa and something to wrap them in.  I find tortillas work best...

Lettuce, tomato, green onion, cheese, salsa and something to wrap them in. I find tortillas work best…

And it comes out looking something like this.  Your results may vary.

And it comes out looking something like this. Your results may vary.

Time to shower up and journey into Itaewon for a evening of darting.