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.

 

When you assume…

…you make an ass of you and me.  Or so says an old saw.

Today I had the occasion to write the word “assassin”.  I had never previously noticed that this word contains “ass” twice.  Back to back.  Asses rubbing together as it were.

It’s an amazing world when you stop and think about it.

Through the years

(In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 5251 50 49 48 47 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 today I arrived In the Republic of Korea for the first time. That post was pretty much all about my first time making that gawd-awful long-ass trip across the Pacific. I do remember when they closed the aircraft door at Dulles I had a moment where I was going “oh shit, what have I got myself into”.  I guess it turned out okay.

The bird what brought me.

The bird what brought me.

One year in I was thinking I was half-way done with my time in Korea and reflected on all that I still hoped to accomplish.  And that was the day I got invited to join the dart league!

I didn’t mark another Korean anniversary until what I assumed would be the last in Korea in a post called 5-year yoja. A lot had happened in those intervening years, some of it bad (my time here cost me a wife I truly did love in my fucked up fashion) and some of it good (I met the wife I have).  Of course, in January 2010 I thought I’d be retiring and moving to the Philippines.  Things change.

Back in the day I was doing a regular series here on LTG called "Yoja of the Week".  Those photos still generate a fair amount of traffic from folks who come here via Google searches. This lovely is the popular Korean actress Han Chae Young.

Back in the day I was doing a regular series here on LTG called “Yoja of the Week”. Those photos still generate a fair amount of traffic from folks who come here via Google searches.
This lovely is the popular Korean actress Han Chae Young.

And so it goes.  Or went.

In security

I spent the morning completing a raft of forms and questionnaires documenting where I’ve lived, where I’ve worked, and what trouble (if any) I’ve gotten myself into these past several years.  I then I had to provide names, addresses and phone numbers for individuals who could vouch for my whereabouts, employment status, and general good character.

Having filled in all the blanks with all the information requested (often redundantly), I was off to Camp Kim to have two complete sets of my fingerprints inked onto paper.  With that task complete, I carried all my documents over to the Security Officer on Yongsan Garrison.  He wasn’t in, so I left them with his KATUSA.  Provided all my “t’s” were dotted and “i’s” crossed appropriately, I will be given a link and password for eQIP, the “Personnel Security Investigation Portal”.  As I understand it, I will then enter virtually the same data that I delivered on paper today.  Gotta love the government!

This process is necessary so that I may be given access to the military’s computer network.  As simple and mundane as my current workplace responsibilities are, I’ve only been doing half of them since I am unable to enter data into the GoArmyEd application.  A co-worker has been graciously doing that portion of my job, but of course my boss would prefer I be fully functional.  It’s all a little frustrating since I previously held a “secret” clearance which was supposedly archived when I retired.  Alas, all that documentation has mysteriously disappeared.  I blame Edward Snowden.  Bastard.

Anyway, having taken care of business (on my own dime by the way) I headed on over to the commissary to restock the larder.

Here's what I bought for $104.46...

Here’s what I bought for $104.46…

Here's how I carried said groceries home...

Here’s how I carried said groceries home…

And here's how they looked when I unpacked them...

And here’s how they looked when I unpacked them…

Obviously, I love the benefit of shopping in what is essentially an American grocery store. But schlepping the shit home is a real pain in the ass.  Today I took the 143 bus to Gireum.  The bus stop is several blocks from the commissary gate (and the commissary is a block or so from the gate).  I had the good fortune of having a seat on the bus, but it was still a 45 minute ride.  There was a heater blowing right under my seat directly onto my bag with my frozen foods, but they seemed to weather the trip okay.  Another three blocks walking from the stop in Gireum to the apartment, and my arms were screaming. There’s got to be a better way.

We have what appears to be an oven in the new place, so I excitedly set about baking up a batch of walnut brownies.  Alas, either it is not a convection oven or it was in broil mode because within five minutes there was smoke and burned brownie batter.  Damn it.

At least the steaks and samgyapsal turned out okay...

At least the steaks and samgyapsal turned out okay…

And the view while grilling wasn't bad either...

And the view while grilling wasn’t bad either…

And so goes another day in paradise.

Upward over the mountain

(In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 52 51 50 49 48 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.)

grave2

Four years ago I wrote about my mother’s death in a post called All you need is love.

She did not “go gentle into that goodnight”.  She loved life and fought to hold onto it as long as she could.  It was a painful and heartbreaking thing to witness her struggle, but I’m thankful I could be there with her to provide what little comfort I could give.

I miss her of course, but I don’t know that I still actively grieve her passing. But I cried yesterday as I re-read the posts about her death, her funeral, and the void she left in the lives of those who loved her.

Still, she lives on in the memory of her children and grandchildren.  Her life was not an easy one, but in the end her thoughts were only about the power of love.  She urged us to love and to be loved because that was all that really mattered.

I’m trying my best mom.

My mother and I in happier times.

My mother and I in happier times.

Mother don’t worry, I killed the last snake that lived in the creek bed
Mother don’t worry, I’ve got some money I saved for the weekend
Mother remember being so stern with that girl who was with me
Mother remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons are like birds flying upwards over the mountain

 

Saving a legacy

A fascinating story:  “A stranger e-mailed saying he planned to kill himself. What was I supposed to do?”

The guy walked across the country in his twenties in order to have his story heard.  Forty plus years later he’s teaching English in Japan, blogging and still writing books no one reads.

And then the day came when he had said everything he wanted to say.

Worth the read.

A new perspective

Or should I say “movin’ on up!”

The view from the 19th floor...

The view from the 19th floor…

On Thursday we moved into this brand spanking new apartment building...

On Thursday we moved into this brand spanking new apartment building…

Still in Gireum, in fact we are across the street from the old joint.  We lived on the 5th floor of Building 105 shown in this photo I took from the new apartment.  Not directly above the subway anymore, so I have an additional five minute walk added at the beginning of my commute...

Still in Gireum, in fact we are across the street from the old joint. We lived on the 5th floor of Building 105 shown in this photo I took from the new apartment. Not directly above the subway anymore, so I have an additional five minute walk added at the beginning of my commute…

I was pretty impressed with the efficiency of the movers. One million won bought 3 men and 1 woman for the day, including a truck and...

I was pretty impressed with the efficiency of the movers. One million won bought 3 men and 1 woman for the day, including a truck and…

...this elevator like device.

…this elevator like device.

So, the movers show up at 0800.  The woman does the kitchen (naturally) while the men set about disassembling things that needed disassembled and packing up everything else that didn't.  They had the old place emptied out by noon. Given our dizzying new heights, they used the elevators to bring our possessions into the apartment. When I had my shit shipped back to the USA, the just left my house filled with boxes (although they did put the beds and stuff together).  Not these Korean movers--everything was unpacked and if something was dirty (like the refrigerator) they cleaned it!   It was all completed by around 1830.  They all worked their asses off and it made that one million seem like a pittance.

So, the movers show up at 0800. The woman does the kitchen (naturally) while the men set about disassembling things that needed disassembled and packing up everything else that didn’t. They had the old place emptied out by noon.
Given our dizzying new heights, they used the elevators to bring our possessions into the apartment.
When I had my shit shipped back to the USA, they just left my house filled with boxes (although they did put the beds and stuff together). Not these Korean movers–everything was unpacked and if something was dirty (like the refrigerator) they cleaned it!
It was all completed by around 1830. They all worked their asses off and it made that one million seem like a pittance.

The new place has three bedrooms and two baths and is much more modern and high tech.  I was trying to figure it all out and set off some alarm, so the maintenance guy had to come up and reset it.  Jee Yeun admonished me to not touch the control panel again.  Fine by me.

Yesterday was my half-day at work (I’m on a 20 hour per week contract, and do 8 hour shifts on Monday and Wednesday) so I got to test out my new commute.  I had some things I wanted to take care of on base, so I headed out at 0900.  You are welcome to join me for the ride if you want…

Every commute starts with slipping into your shoes, right?

Every commute starts with slipping into your shoes, right?

Stepping into the scary elevator for the ride down.  I say "scary" because they are all encased in plywood, with tape and graffiti.  I guess they'll stay that way until all the apartments have been occupied.

Stepping into the scary elevator for the ride down. I say “scary” because they are all encased in plywood, with tape and graffiti. I guess they’ll stay that way until all the apartments have been occupied.

Down the driveway...

Down the driveway…

...across the boulevard and past the bus stops...

…across the boulevard and past the bus stops…

...Gireum station, line #4, entrance #3...

…Gireum station, line #4, entrance #3…

through the turnstiles...

through the turnstiles…

...and onto the train.  I actually had to stand for 3 stops, but seats usually open up at Dongdaemun...

…and onto the train. I actually had to stand for 3 stops, but seats usually open up at Dongdaemun…

By Seoul station the car was almost empty.  Two more stops and I'm at...

By Seoul station the car was almost empty. Two more stops and I’m at…

...Samgakji!  This puts me 25 minutes into my commute.

…Samgakji! This puts me 25 minutes into my commute.

This guy is always in the station.  Never heard him sing, but I assume he does golden oldies.  *ahem*

This guy is always in the station. Never heard him sing, but I assume he does golden oldies. *ahem*

As I leave exit #1 I see it has begun to rain.  I have a ten minute walk yet, but I'm too lazy to dig the umbrella out of my backpack...

As I leave exit #1 I see it has begun to rain. I have a ten minute walk yet, but I’m too lazy to dig the umbrella out of my backpack…

Through this gate and I'm on the hallowed grounds of US Army Garrison--Yongsan.

Through this gate and I’m on the hallowed grounds of US Army Garrison–Yongsan.

Plenty of time to take care of a little banking...

Plenty of time to take care of a little banking…

...and grab a quick bite to eat at the food court.  Wasn't feeling like BK or Popeye's....

…and grab a quick bite to eat at the food court. Wasn’t feeling like BK or Popeye’s….

...and Subway or Chinese weren't what I wanted either...

…and Subway or Chinese weren’t what I wanted either…

Ah, but some Taco Bell would hit the spot.  Three crunchy taco supreme and a large diet Coke took the edge right off those hunger pangs...

Ah, but some Taco Bell would hit the spot. Three crunchy taco supreme and a large diet Coke took the edge right off those hunger pangs…

So, I work for the Yongsan Army Education Center, which as you may have discerned is upstairs from the Post Office.  But I don't work there, I just drop by to pick up mail...

So, I work for the Yongsan Army Education Center, which as you may have discerned is upstairs from the Post Office. But I don’t work there, I just drop by to pick up mail…

I'm still facing a one hour bus ride to get to work.  Although I do get paid for riding the bus...

I’m still facing a one hour bus ride to get to work. Although I do get paid for riding the bus…

My destination is K-16.  The ROKs use it as a military airport, the Army has a fleet of helicopters based there...

My destination is K-16. The ROKs use it as a military airport, the Army has a fleet of helicopters based there…

Crossing the Han...

Crossing the Han…

Better to be riding than driving...

Better to be riding than driving…

Finally arriving at my duty station.  I'm downstairs in the computer lab.  Where the work is not quite as intellectually stimulating as my morning commute...

Finally arriving at my duty station. I’m downstairs in the computer lab. Where the work is not quite as intellectually stimulating as my morning commute…

Speaking of being stimulated, one of the purposes of going in early yesterday was to check in with the boss of the unit I use to run.  I’m holding out some hope that he may choose to re-employ me.  With my friend Dennis’ recent departure, there is a vacancy.  Unfortunately, the boss was in a meeting.  So, I had a nice visit with some of my old staff and they all expressed the hope I’d be brought on board.  Well, Dennis’ job as the supervisor has been filled by an internal promotion, but that still leaves a vacancy.  The person I would work for was hired after I left, so she doesn’t really know me (although I did join her and Dennis for dinner last summer).  So, I dropped by her office to say hello.

I asked how things were going and she said it was pretty hectic since Dennis left.  I casually mentioned that I’d be happy to help her out with that, but she really didn’t respond to that one way or the other.  I visited with a couple of other folks and as I was leaving, she asked if she could talk with me for a few minutes.  Of course I said of course.

She showed me a policy memo that had been written during my tenure and asked for my interpretation of one of the clauses.  Well, I frankly didn’t remember much about the policy or why it was written, but I gave it a quick read and hemmed and hawed my way through my best guess of what it meant.  I wasn’t really satisfied with my response and I’m not sure my insights answered her question.  She thanked me and I left.

During my long bus ride I got to wondering if that had been an impromptu interview or test or whatever to ascertain if I still had what it takes to be a useful addition to her team.  Now, I’ve been out of the game for four years but I don’t think I’ve got that much stupider.  And when I was in the game, I didn’t tend to shoot from the hip and make any policy interpretations without much more careful consideration.  So, maybe I should have told her that instead of trying to come up with a best guess on-the-spot.  Or maybe she was just seeking an opinion and there was no other motive so I should stop stressing about it.  I guess I’ll find out in due course.

And finally, after work I hoofed it into Itaewon, grabbed some dinner, drank some beers, and threw some darts.  Won the tourney (W30,000) and hit the double out jackpot (W66,000), so there’s that.

 

When will they ever learn?

Well, I guess this article about an ex-pat’s time in jail is meant to be sympathetic.  It didn’t “strike” me that way though.  Ahem.

Do Korean’s get a fairer shake in the Korean judicial system?  It appears that way. Are foreigners sometimes targeted?  Perhaps.  But dude, you just can’t go around pounding on people who piss you off.  No matter what country you are in.

A visit with Jeremy

prisonmap

Today I and two other friends journeyed out to the Nambu Prison to visit our buddy Jeremy Frye.

Prior to our appointed rendezvous at Noksapyeong station I stopped by the PX to purchase some reading materials for Jeremy.  I was pretty disappointed with the available selections, but I wound up buying several paperback novels, an almanac, and a couple of crossword puzzle books.  This is about the only “outside” items you are allowed to give a prisoner, although they do have some items you can purchase on-site that will be provided to the inmate.

Anyway, we caught a cab at Noksapyeong and rode out to the Express Bus Terminal where we boarded the line #7 subway for Gwangmyung saguri station.  From there, a bus carried us to the “gates” of the prison.  Took just over an hour all told.

As we neared the entrance to the detention center where Jeremy is being held I thought it would be a good idea to snap a picture of the facility.  It wasn’t.  A woman in uniform leaned out a window and screamed at me “NO PICTURES!”  I was like all “my bad” and she yelled “DELETE IT!”  Which I sheepishly did.  I had no desire to see the real inside of the prison.

Although I did delete the photo I took as instructed, one of my companions had taken this shot on a previous trip and got away with it...

Although I did delete the photo I took as instructed, one of my companions had taken this shot on a previous trip and got away with it…

Once inside we filled out a visitor form and took a number to be logged in to see Prisoner #3681.  When said number was called we went to the window and presented our identification.  Chad and Lonnie had Korean forms of ID, I was using my USFK ID card and my South Carolina driver’s license.  Which proved to be a problem.  The prison official I was dealing with spoke little English and since I wasn’t ordering beer my limited Korean was useless.  Anyway, he wanted some Korean government issued form of identification which I don’t possess.  In frustration he turned to Chad (who speaks some of the local language) and told him without Korean ID I’d need a passport to gain entrance to the visitor gallery.  I didn’t bring my passport with me however, and he finally gave me the universally understood bureaucratic head nod telling me I was screwed.

We retreated from the window to discuss our next move.  I suggested to Chad that we find a supervisor to see if there might be an exception to the “rule” in my case.  Chad doubted his Korean was good enough to argue for that effectively.  So, I was thinking I’d made a wasted trip when the guy we’d been dealing with behind the counter called out to Chad and said that if I could get a picture of my passport he’d accept that. I tried to call Jee Yeun three times but got no answer.  Then I remembered I’d sent a scanned copy of my passport in an email when I applied for my job here.  Thank god for smart phones! I found that email, pulled up the attachment, and everything was good.

The room where we waited for Jeremy's number to be posted.  I did not take this photo either having been completely intimidated by this juncture.

The room where we waited for Jeremy’s number to be posted. I did not take this photo either having been completely intimidated by this juncture.

In short order we saw 3681 on the board and entered through the doors to the left in the photo above.  A guard checked our paperwork again and directed us to room #15 (of what appeared to be twenty) which was occupied by another prisoner and his guests.  So we waited.  After a bit, the guard called out “John McCrarey” which I admit made my heart race a bit.  I tentatively walked up to his desk and he directed me to room #5.  Where we found Jeremy waiting.

An inmate in this facility is allowed one ten minute visit with up to three visitors per day. The room was like a small norebang, with two chairs and a glass partition separating us from Jeremy.  There was a speaker box at the base of the window with a timer that began ticking down from 10 as soon as we entered the room.

Considering the circumstances, Jeremy seemed to be in reasonably good spirits.  He talked about the status of his case for awhile.  Still no trial date, but he took that as a positive sign that the prosecutors have still not been able to build a viable case.  Still, he was frustrated that he was being held pending trial at all, stating that he was only locked up because he was a foreigner.  He seemed confident in his attorney and felt like he could prove that he was not the proximate cause of the victim’s demise.  I’m not sure how viable his theory of the case will be, but I don’t reckon I ought to be discussing that in this public forum anyway.

Jeremy apologized to Lonnie for being unable to fulfill his duties as the dart league secretary, asked Chad about some items he’d like retrieved from his former employer, and told me he was sorry he’d been unable to keep our scheduled meet-up when I returned to Korea (he was arrested the night before).  I told him I hoped the fiction books would help him “escape” some from the boredom of prison life, and he seemed excited about the crossword puzzles as he feared his mind was turning to mush.  Chad noted that he’d lost some weight and he said he’d started exercising.  And that pretty much took up the allotted ten minutes of our visit.  So, we said our goodbyes, did some fist bumps against the glass, and three of the four of us exited the prison.

Anyway, I guess he’s handling it all as well as can be expected.  But it is still a nightmarish situation in which to find oneself.  The facility was modern, clean and well-lighted (at least the parts we saw) so in the category of “it could always be worse” I suppose a first world jail is better than the hellholes you see on shows like Locked Up Abroad.  I can selfishly attest that when I start feeling sorry for myself, I think of Jeremy and am reminded that my problems are relatively meaningless.

We are all hoping for the best possible outcome for Jeremy’s situation.  It was good to see him again.

What a difference a year makes

(In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 52 51 50 49 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.)

jehovah 002

A year ago in As God is my witness, I wrote about how the kimchi pot on my front porch in South Carolina attracted a couple of Korean Jehovah’s Witnesses to the door to share their “good news” in Korean with with Jee Yeun.

jehovah 001

That same day the house was filled with the warming smell of a roasting turkey.

turkey 001

A quiet day filled with simple joys.  I thought they would last forever.

 

Bon Voyage

My good friend Dennis (who values his privacy, hence no last name here) is retiring tomorrow after some forty-odd years of government service.  We went out for drinks and dinner last night to say our goodbyes, but I also wanted to pay him tribute here on my humble blog.

Now, Dennis is one of those unique individuals some of us have the good fortune to encounter during this journey we call life.  I consider him something of a renaissance man with a passion for learning and adventure.  He’s an accomplished musician (guitar and mandolin), an avid bicyclist (he’s done the week-long Ride the Rockies tour several times), and an experienced world traveler.  He’s brilliant, but also one of the most unassuming, down to earth individuals you could hope to meet.  I can say without equivocation that he was the most hardworking, dedicated, and loyal employee I ever had the pleasure to employ.  And more importantly, he has been a steadfast friend for more than twenty years now.

Dennis began his service to our nation as a foot soldier on the front lines in Vietnam.  Like most combat veterans, he rarely spoke of his experiences there.  He did tell me once that the battle scenes in the movie Forrest Gump brought back memories that left him shaken for awhile.  He came back from the war, earned his degree as an English major, and briefly taught in the public schools.  Then he went to work as a clerk for the Postal Service in Minneapolis, later transferring to Asheville, NC and eventually joining the management ranks as a Labor Relations Specialist.

Our paths first crossed in 1993 at a meeting in Greensboro, NC.  I had taken a labor relations job with the newly created Mid-Atlantic Area office, although I was still domiciled in Columbia.  The purpose of the meeting was to establish how the Area office would manage working relationships with the field offices.  Prior to the start of the meeting (and introductions) I was sitting near Dennis and he was holding court about “the big shots coming down from the Area office to try and tell us how to do our jobs”.  Did I mention he could be a bit of a smart-ass?  Anyway, the look on his face when I introduced myself as one of the Area big shots was priceless.  Over the course of the meeting though Dennis impressed me with his candor and intelligence.  When I returned to Columbia I told the Human Resources Director that I had the perfect candidate for his vacant Manager, Labor Relations position.  Dennis got the job and our long professional relationship began, as did our friendship.

Several years later I was promoted and moved to Arlington, VA and I was looking for someone to fill my old job. Dennis applied, and prior to the start of his interview I made him stand, raise his right hand, and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  I could tell he was taken aback by this tactic, but of course he gave the oath. During the course of the interview I asked why he thought he was the best candidate for the job. He responded that his winning record as an arbitration advocate was second to none.  I then asked “are you saying your record is better than mine?  And remember, you are under oath”.  It should come as no surprise that I can be a bit of a dick myself.  Of course, I hired him and moved him up to Arlington to join me.

In those days, we traveled quite a bit and on occasion we’d be in the same city.  Now, what happens on the road, stays on the road so I can’t reveal how Dennis earned the nickname “Deacon” in Philadelphia.  Or the incident involving a bottle of champagne.  And of course, he could retaliate with stories about me (like the time I played the part of “asshole boss” and made him carry my bags in the Columbus airport).  Suffice to say, we worked hard and played hard and made us some nice memories.

Dennis eventually got promoted and became my peer at the Area office in Windsor, CT. And I had a nice time visiting him there.  Later on he moved to a position at Postal Service Headquarters and we got to hang out more frequently.   Then I left USPS for the Education Department and shortly thereafter Dennis signed on with the Department of Agriculture and moved to Fort Collins, CO.  Another great place to visit!

Dennis continued to establish his reputation throughout the government as the go to expert in labor and employee relations.  Which led him to be hired by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in DC, the folks in charge of the entire Federal workforce! Yep, my protege done good and I felt a sense of vicarious pride in his accomplishments.

Meanwhile, I had moved to Korea and when the time came to fill a labor relations vacancy on my staff, I immediately thought of Dennis.  The problem was Dennis was big time now and I couldn’t match his DC salary.  But I called him up anyway.  I said “Dennis, how would you like the adventure of living and working in Korea?”  He thought that sounded pretty exciting.  I said “would you be wiling to work here for less pay?”  That wasn’t as appealing to him.  Then I asked him how long his daily commute was and he told me at least an hour a day.  I asked what was he paying in rent and he responded over $2000. a month.  So I told him what if I were to say if you come to Korea I can give you back one hour of your life everyday and give you a nicer place to live for free?   And that’s how I scored the best labor relations guy in the USA to work for me in Seoul.  Oh yeah, I also told Dennis I’d give him 10,000 for coming.  True to my word, when I met him at the airport in Incheon I handed him a crisp W10,000 bank note.  Well, he professes that he is still glad he came.

I retired and Dennis stayed on.  I’m back and now he’s ready to move on to the next chapter of his life.  And what a chapter it’s going to be!  He closes out his career tomorrow and is on a plane bound for the Philippines Saturday morning.  He sold or gave away everything he owns except one suitcase of clothes and his guitar.  Dennis has chosen to spend his retirement years as a nomad.

After two weeks in the PI, he’ll fly to Cambodia, then Vietnam, then Thailand.  After that, it’s off to Australia, then a two week cruise to various ports-of-call in New Zealand.  That gets him through February.  “Where then?” I asked and he said wherever I feel like going.

Damn, I envy that.  Even though I know I wouldn’t have the balls to live that lifestyle. Dennis did promise to respond to my emails asking “where in the world are you?” and I promised to meet up with him for a few days now and again in whatever exotic location he finds himself.

Enjoy the rest of your life my friend.  You’ve earned it.

The silence of the lambs

I was drunk when I came home last night and read about the terrorist attack in Paris.  It pissed me off and I reacted in anger.  I intentionally mocked and disparaged the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) by calling him a pedophile.

This morning upon sober reflection I have to say I was wrong.  Because the fact that the Prophet had sex with children way back when is really not relevant to the issues we face here in the 21st century.  What is relevant is that a bunch of ignorant thugs have systematically engaged in murder, rape, torture, and brutal warfare, all in the name of the “Religion of Peace”.   They have made their message to non-believers abundantly clear: submit or die.

To which I can only respond:

Muhammed farve. tegning : KW