Living dangerously

Last night my boss and a couple of other co-workers joined me at Shenanigans for some after work bonding time.  Copious amounts of adult beverages were also consumed.  I’m sure my tongue was loosened as I got caught up in the revelry.  I’d occasionally apologize when I thought my witty remarks might have crossed a line, but the boss would remind me that “we are off the clock”.  So I guess it’s all good.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that if those in attendance were asked about my performance last night the sentiment would be unanimous:

That's fucking right.

That’s fucking right.

 

Things change

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 313029 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 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.)

Eight years ago I was dreaming of a retirement life in the Philippines.  I wrote about it in a post called “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat”.

I hadn’t been there yet except via the internet. Subsequent to that post I did make several trips and came away with mixed feelings about living large while being surrounded by poverty.  And as it turns out, I took my life in a different direction.  It was probably for the best.

Not bad for a Tuesday

Although Monday ended poorly.  An old fashioned ass-whupping in darts last night.  I followed up last week’s 12-0 performance by going 3-9.  My game was a tad off I suppose, but I kept drawing this hot shot Korean who is plainly a superior player.  I guess that was the yin for my yang.

Today, despite operating on 5 hours of sleep, I was actually pretty productive.  It feels nice to make a contribution that my boss seemed to appreciate.

At lunch I selected my hooptie.  It’s a 1999 Hyundai that except for the paint appears to be in pretty decent shape for a car of it’s vintage.  89,000 miles on the odometer so there ought to be some life in the old girl.  Yeah, I wanted the Volvo but whomever owns it couldn’t be fucked with returning my calls.  I’m guessing they had to PCS (permanent change of station) before it sold so they just abandoned it in the commissary parking lot.  Oh well.

I said “selected my hooptie” above because I haven’t actually purchased it yet.  It is currently owned by an embassy employee which adds a whole ‘nother level of bureaucracy to work through.  As I understand it, the car must be de-registered by the embassy (and those sweet diplomatic licence tags removed).  Then I’ll be given some paperwork that will allow me to register the car with USFK. I ‘m advised this may take a week or two.  At which point I’ll hand over $1200.00 of my hard earned money and then hope for the best.  Such is the way of the hooptie.

hooptie

And now you are up to date on my so-called life.

 

Well, damn

James took home a first place trophy in the Singles League earlier this month.  He won't be back anytime soon.

James took home a first place trophy in the Singles League earlier this month. He won’t be back anytime soon.

Received the distressing news yesterday that one of my Filipino friends got picked up by immigration. James is one of my favorite people here in Korea.  Always smiling with a genuine happy-go-lucky attitude.  Hard working too, he was holding down three jobs to support his family back in the Philippines.  I also feel bad for his girlfriend of seventeen years (also here illegally) who is going to have to somehow find a way to get by without him.  I’ve known them both for most of the ten years I’ve been here.  I’m going to really miss having James around.

James is being held in detention until he comes up with the money for a one-way ticket back to the PI.  His friends will be donating money today to make that happen as soon as possible, and I hope we’ll also come up with enough to have his personal effects shipped home as well.

I’ve been experiencing a fair amount of cognitive dissonance regarding James’ deportation.  I firmly believe that a nation should enforce it’s immigration laws and I have really been frustrated by the USA’s failure refusal to do so.  But here’s the thing, James was not freeloading on the Korean taxpayer’s won.  He was making his own way doing menial labor without complaint.  Compare that to the folks invading the U.S. who fill the welfare rolls, engage in crime with apparent impunity, and add little to no value to the nation in which they aspire to live.  And yes, I know that not every illegal immigrant fits that description (I’m sure the majority do not), but the fact remains they violated the law and should not be rewarded with amnesty.  I fucking went through the time consuming and expensive process of making my wife a legal permanent resident and it frosts my balls when non-citizens are allowed to bypass the law.  End of rant.

Another friend I’ve known since I got here is leaving next week to become an elementary school teacher in Tucson, Arizona.  He ran the dart league for many years and his departure is going to leave a huge void.  As is our tradition when a darter leaves town, we’ll be doing a going away tournament in Lonnie’s honor this afternoon at Sin Bin.

Gonna miss you buddy!

Gonna miss you buddy!

The tourney will be dual purposed because one of the owner’s of Sin Bin suffered a massive heart attack while visiting family in Newfoundland last week.  He’s been in Korea so long he is no longer covered by the Canadian national health insurance plan.  So we’ll be engaging in some fund raising activities for him as well.  I’ve had my differences with this individual in the past, but those minor disputes mean nothing when someone is in need of help.  I’m donating a bottle of Fireball whiskey as one of the raffle prizes at today’s event.  Obviously, I’m hoping he has a full and quick recovery.  He’s actually a lucky bastard.  When he was found he was apparently clinically dead, but had the good fortune of being discovered by a physician who successfully resuscitated him.

I do find it disconcerting when friends and acquaintances who are much younger and in better shape than me are facing these types of issues.  Well, it’s better to be lucky than dead I suppose.  Here’s hoping my luck continues to hold out!

When life comes at me with with that final fuck you, I'm all ain't no way...

When life comes at me with with that final fuck you, I’m all ain’t no way…

 

Yep

Got one of these today...

Got one of these today…

...so I went shopping for one of these...

…so I went shopping for one of these…

That would be a 2002 Volvo.  $1500.00 and 99,000 miles.  Tried to call the number listed but no answer.  Sent an email, but no response.  I’d like to own it.  I’ve heard Volvo’s are a lot of fun…

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

On a roll

Last night we (the Dillinger’s Dartitis Quarantine) kicked off the new season of the Seoul International Dart League with a victory over the Gecko’s Crew.  I contributed a 6-0 record in singles, and another 6-0 performance in doubles.  I do believe that represents my best ever showing in “A” division. Granted, the Crew is not the strongest team we will face, and I didn’t have to play their top player in 9 of those wins, but still.

This morning I took my driver’s license test, missing 3 of 45 questions.  Which 3 I cannot say because they didn’t tell me.  Which strikes me as kind of odd since I’ll be ignorant of whatever I should be knowing when I take to the highways of Korea.  At least 7% ignorant that is.

"Baby you can drive my car".  Well, I reckon I'm going to have buy one now.

“Baby you can drive my car”. Well, I reckon I’m going to have buy one now.

Yes, I’m probably going to go ahead a purchase a vehicle.  I don’t intend to commute to work from Gireum-dong on a daily basis, but once a week to schlep home the groceries would be nice.  And maybe some weekend journeys to the mountains and the beach would be a good change of pace from drunken nights in Itaewon..

Immediately after completing my driver’s test I hoofed it over to the bus station at the Moyer Center on post.  For a mere W6,200 I purchased a ticket to Osan Air Base, waited twenty minutes for the next bus and arrived one hour and ten minutes later.  Why the trip to Osan you ask?  Well, they have a tiny little immigration office at the airport terminal there.  It’s small but has a reputation for being speedy.  I handed over my passport and paperwork at 11:30 and was back at the Osan bus station at 11:40 with an A-3 SOFA visa good for three years in hand.  I caught the 11:50 bus back to Yongsan and was sitting in my office enjoying a Double Whopper and strawberry shake shortly after 1:00.

So, I achieved in 2 1/2 hours what would have taken me most of the day to accomplish at the Sejongno Immigration office.  Result!

So, I achieved in 2 1/2 hours what would have taken me most of the day to accomplish at the Sejongno Immigration office. Result!

Finally, in today’s mail I received my first Leave and Earnings Statement.  The money was sweet!  And I have every intention of actually starting to earn it one day very soon. Actually, I’m beginning to get more involved and I’m making some contributions, but I can and will do more.  One disappointment was I only earned 4 hours of annual leave (vacation time).  I was pretty sure I was supposed to earn 8 hours of leave each two-week pay period, so I went onto the internets to find some evidence to support that belief.  And sure enough I was correct in my assumption.  So I shot an email over to the folks in the CPAC and got a prompt response.  A “help ticket” has been submitted and I should see my full leave earning potential showing on my pay stub in three or four weeks.  I trust it will be retroactive.

The pay should hit my bank on Thursday or Friday and I do believe I’m going to commence car shopping.  It will no doubt be a hooptie, albeit a high end hooptie ($2000. or less).

Ain’t life grand?

Inside baseball

I’ve decided to test for my USFK driver’s license tomorrow.  So, I did a little internet sleuthing to reacquaint myself with the requirements for doing so.  One of the documents Google offered for my perusal was on the USFK webpage and it was a basic primer on the history and requirements of the ROK-USA Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

It did not provide much on what I need to do to get the license, but did confirm that driving in Korea on a USFK license is one of the SOFA benefits I’m afforded.  I continued reading because it was interesting to learn things about SOFA I’d either forgotten or never knew.  And about two paragraphs from the bottom I came across some info on our Korean National (KN) workforce that I knew to be wrong.

Bear with me while I provide a little necessary background.  Our KNs work and are paid by USFK so they are considered “direct hires”.  In most countries where we have SOFA treaties the local nationals work for the host nation government and are supplied to U.S. forces as needed.  These are known as “indirect hires”.  Here in Korea, we have a unique subset of the KN workforce, the Korean Service Corps (KSC).  KSC’s are sort of a paramilitary outfit with a unique wartime mission.  But in peacetime, they are just like the rest of the KN workforce—hired and paid by USFK.  The document on the USFK webpage I mentioned said they were “indirect hires”.  Wrong!

Anyway, it was no big deal.  The webpage document was mostly just an introduction to the SOFA and wasn’t a signed USFK directive or policy.  I passed it along to the KN labor advisor on our staff saying although it was not correct I didn’t think it really mattered.

The labor advisor sent it on the director of the SOFA Secretariat and noted the error.  The director sent it to his deputy and told him to correct it.  The deputy wasn’t convinced it was wrong and wanted to get a legal review.  So, the KN advisor sent some documents (including one from me in my long ago previous capacity as director) that showed that the lawyers in Korea and at the Pentagon agreed that KSC’s are direct hires.  That’s where things stand as of close of business today.

But I found the whole thing funny as hell.  I’m just wanting to get a driver’s license and I inadvertently created work for lots of people.  That’s government efficiency for you!

“Shut up” she explained

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 52 51 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 313029 28 27 26 25 24 23 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.)

On year ago I was lamenting about being treated rudely in my favorite Itaewon samgyapsal house.  I wrote about it a post called “About last night”.

I don’t complain much about Korea, and truth be told there is not all that much to complain about.  Like everyone, I encounter my share of irritations. But in the big scheme of things they are mostly trivial.  You just got to go with the flow. Most of the time it’s easier to ignore a transgression than to make a scene about it.

That being said, I will stand my ground when necessary.  Especially after a few beers. Koreans are notoriously loud when drinking and eating in groups.  That doesn’t bother me. But when I’m called out for being loud when I know that I’m being less loud than those around me, it just rubs me the wrong way.  I do recognize as a commenter on that post noted that English voices in a sea of Koreans tend to stand out.  I think what set me off was the rude manner in which I was shushed.  Ah well, I’m sure my reaction just made the situation worse.

It’s been a year and I’m over it now.  Mostly.

 

That’s all she wrote

Week 3 is in the books.  I think I’m beginning to find my feet, but I’ve got a ways to go to reach my full performance level.  I did complete the first draft of an updated FMLA policy. Hope the boss likes it.  I also discovered that the Korean government has thus far declined to recognize same sex marriages for purposes of granting A-3 SOFA visas. Thankfully, dealing with that issue is not in my lane, I was just gathering info at the request of my boss.  In the meantime USFK is granting full base privileges which is helpful I suppose, but if your spouse can’t get a visa it’s tough to stay in country.  Hopefully this matter will be resolved in some diplomatic fashion soon.

I went out drinking with one of my bosses last night and got blasted.  But it was a good time and I think I avoided any major faux pas.  So there’s that.

Here’s a book I could have written:

Wasting time getting wasted.  The story of my life...

Wasting time getting wasted. The story of my life…

Speaking of wasted time, I learned my friend Jeremy Frye has been sentenced to four years in prison.  I actually expected he’d get at least ten years, so I guess that’s a small blessing.  The consequences of this fucked up mess are a sad thing to behold.  One man is dead and the other is facing a bleak future.  Certainly Jeremy can expect to be deported when he completes his sentence and with a criminal record I doubt he’ll find work back home or anywhere else teaching. Jeremy is a smart man who is paying a terrible price for his ill-fated attempt to be chivalrous.  It’s all such a waste.

Thanks for the darts buddy.  I guess those days are gone forever now.

Thanks for the darts buddy. I guess those days are gone forever now.

 

 

A new outlook

Today I made it over the hump of week three of my life of re-employment.  I also gained access to the outlook email network which should facilitate my boss assigning me tasks more efficiently and effectively.

My self-assessment is that I need to buckle down and spend my time more productively. I’ve put “avoid procrastination” at the top of my to-do list.  I plan to start in on that tomorrow.

An intervention and my legacy

I’ve mentioned before about the interesting people I meet as I socialize in the bars of Itaewon.  In fact, I actually enjoy the company of almost everyone I meet.  But inevitably there’s always the exception to the rule.

Friday evening I was on the back deck of Shenanigans with a friend from work and these two 20-something guys came out and sat in our proximity.  It was early, maybe 5:30 or so and they were already in a highly intoxicated state.  One of them (his name is Mike as I recall) out of the blue asked me to tell a joke.  The request struck me as somewhat odd, but I have accumulated a rather large repertoire of humorous (admittedly, that’s a matter of opinion) anecdotes over the years, so I let one fly.  He laughed hardily, but then drunks are a pretty easy audience to please.  He reciprocated with a “joke” so horrible that I immediately erased it from my consciousness.  Suffice to say it was some sick and twisted thing involving infant pedophilia.  My friend had the same reaction.  We gave each a what the fuck look, and hustled back inside the bar wanting nothing more to do with our new found “friends”.

So Monday evening I’m sitting at the bar in Shenanigans and Mike comes into the bar.  He fiddled around with his phone for a bit, asked someone how to spell “psychiatrist” and then to my chagrin he plopped himself down on the bar stool next to mine.  He asked me if I remembered him and I reluctantly admitted that I did.  He then said “do you mind if I tell you something?”  I shrugged and said go ahead, thinking odds were high I’d regret it.  And then he laid it on me.

“There’s something wrong with me.  I mean inside my head.” Mike told me solemnly.  “I need to see a psychiatrist and get on some meds or something.”  Despite our brief acquaintance I found myself nodding in agreement.  All those years of HR training kicked in I suppose because I felt an obligation to ask him if he was thinking of hurting himself. He told me yes, and said that he had beat himself up that morning.  And then he showed me his arms covered in fresh bruises.  So then I gave him the speech.  “How old are you? I asked and he responded “27”.  I said “Dude, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and whatever is going on with you right now, is going to pass.  It may not feel that way now, but if you get some help you will get through this”.  He told me he had quit his Hagwon job that morning (pretty scary to think of him around kids, right?) and that his parents would be so disappointed in him.  I told him that if he did something stupid and irrevocable like suicide they’d be a lot more than disappointed.  I asked him what his plans were, and he told me he was flying to Thailand on Wednesday.  I’m not sure how good that plan is, but he said he has a friend there, and now that he is jobless in Korea he doesn’t have many options I suppose.  So, I made him promise that he’d visit a shrink when he arrived and I advised him to stay away from ladyboys (I refrained from saying “and children” given the circumstances).

It was time for me to leave for darts and he thanked me for hearing him out.  I took a piss and came back and asked him what his money situation was.  “I’m dead broke” he told me.  I gave him a W50,000 note, wished him luck, and left.  And yeah, that was probably stupid on my part, but I felt better for having done it.  The rest is up to him.  I don’t expect or particularly want to ever see Mike again, but I also don’t want to read about another expat suicide.  I’ve been in those dark places myself so I hope he finds his way out.

Not exactly writing on the wall, butt...

Not exactly writing on the wall, butt…

This is a restroom stall in my office building.  Several years ago I found myself s(h)itting there and noticed that a tag from the dry cleaners was still affixed to my pants.  So, I pulled it off and hung it on that wall mount where it remains to this day.  I guess that’s not much of a legacy, but it is mine.

And I’m ok with that.  When you get to be my age you realize that possibilities are no longer limitless.  And that is sometimes depressing. Which to me makes wanting to kill yourself at 27 insane. As we used to say back in the day “keep on truckin'”.

Access denied

Back to work tomorrow morning, so I’d best post this now.  It seems I’m not allowed to visit LTG when I’m at work.  Most of the internet is right at my fingertips but some sites are inexplicably blocked.  Try to go there and you get a message saying “Access Denied. The webpage you are attempting to view is not available on this network.  If you require access to this page, contact your system administrator.”

Not sure what I ever did to get on “the list” but at least I’m in good company.  They’ve blocked the Big Hominid as well.  I thought at first it might just be a generic blocking of all WordPress and Blogger type sites.  But I’ve accessed other blogs using those platforms, so it must be something else.  Well, naturally I would only use the internet for non-official purposes during my lunch hour anyway, so no big deal really.  And also I would just like to state unequivocally that the folks at the NSA are heroes in my book and I appreciate everything you do and all that you stand for.

Anyway, it’s not like I have anything of substance to post.  My main take-away after two weeks of being back to the grind is that it is indeed a grind.  Who knew 8 hours could pass so slowly?  I still do not have government email which is a little limiting.  I’ve taken on a couple of projects and my co-workers have been bringing me up to speed on some of the issues that make our jobs more difficult (intra-bureaucracy in-fighting mostly).  Anyway, we’ll get it done.

0530 seems to roll around pretty early (imagine that!) so I try and get to bed by 2230 at the latest.  Don’t always sleep right away, but it’s all about the self-discipline.  Wednesday, Thursday. and Friday found me in Itaewon taking care of business.  Back there later today for the Seoul Sunday Singles League Championship Round Robin Tournaments. Yesterday I did a marathon viewing of Hell on Wheels, an AMC series I’m rather fond of.

And that pretty much is all there is to say.  Hmm, maybe denying access to LTG is intended as sympathetic gesture.  But I’ll be back.

Bali balio

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 52 51 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 3029 28 27 26 25 24 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 found me in paradise.  Bali to be precise. It just may be the best place I’ve ever been.  I wrote about the trip here, here, here, here, and here.  Oh yeah, and also here and here. And finally here, although actually the links are in reverse order, so the finally is really the first day of the journey.  And don’t worry, it’s almost all photographs.  The beauty of Bali speaks for itself.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The moon rises...

The moon rises…

And the sun sets...

And the sun sets…

The food was amazing and incredibly cheap..

The food was amazing and incredibly cheap..

Beach side..

Beach side..

Pool side...

Pool side…

Mountain side...

Mountain side…

Fire side...

Fire side…

Bats and balls...

Bats and balls…

Indonesian girls are beautiful...

Indonesian girls are beautiful…

...but dangerous when provoked...

…but dangerous when provoked…

Dressing like the locals, somehow it felt sarong.

Dressing like the locals, somehow it felt sarong.

Shrines abounded...

Shrines abounded…

The natives were restless...

The natives were restless…

That was the spiciest dish I ever did eat.  Two big bears to put out the fire in my mouth...

That was the spiciest dish I ever did eat. Two big beers to put out the fire in my mouth…

Moutain side lodging in a 1930s resort.  It was like going back in time...

Moutain side lodging in a 1930s resort. It was like going back in time…

On the streets of Ubud...

On the streets of Ubud…

The beer was cold and the weather was hot.  Who can ask for anything more?

The beer was cold and the weather was hot. Who can ask for anything more?

 

Tuesday sucks

And I blame it on Monday.

Work is going about as well as can be expected.  Still don’t have access to the network, but I do have the internet.  I’ve been reviewing some policies that potentially require updating, including the Command’s FMLA directive.  So, I’ve spent time on the Department of Labor’s website trying to discern any significant changes in the law/regulations since we wrote the current policy back in 2007.  There have been several so I’ll have to figure out where (and how) to insert them into an updated 8th Army policy.  Exciting stuff, no?

But back to Monday.  As regular readers might recall I’ve been running the Dillinger’s dart tourney on Monday night.  Which is no big deal since I’d be playing in it regardless.  Last night we had a dart league meeting immediately preceding the tournament, and it ran over so we started about 45 minutes late.  And as sometimes happens the matches seemed to all run long.  So by the time the finals rolled around it was midnight.  That 0530 alarm was ringing in my head and I was in danger of missing the last bus home.  Having qualified for the finals, I suggested to the other team that we split the pot 50-50 and call it a night (the pot was W100,000; divided 60/40 for first and second place).  One of the guys said let’s play the first game anyway.  I responded that I didn’t care about the W10,000 so we’d just go ahead and give them the first place money outright.  I was explaining this to my partner and the other guy started screaming “It’s not my problem you have to get up at 5:30 so stop being an asshole by trying to make me out to be a dick!”.  Well, I figured he was doing a perfectly fine job of being a dick all on his own, so I just handed him his W60,000.  And he declined to accept more than W50,000.  So I still can’t figure out what his anger was all about, but it was a buzz killer.

I did in fact miss the last bus, and arrived home by cab shortly before 0100 in a foul mood. Was rude to the wife and went straight to bed.  I woke up tired when the alarm rang and was tired all day long.  Now I’ve apologized to the wife, had a nap, ate some baby back ribs along with corn-on-the-cob, and wrote this post.  Starting to feel like I’m getting back to normal.

Wednesday will be a much finer day, I’m sure of it.

Shopping spree

Today Jee Yeun accompanied me to the commissary.  I spent $297 on groceries.  Not saying those two events are connected, but…

Well, we were ought of everything.  So I loaded up on steaks and ground beef.  And then Jee Yeun wanted a 25 pound sack of rice.  No way we were going to carry that home on the bus, so I knew we were in for a taxi ride.  At that point I just threw caution to the wind and purchased everything that caught my fancy.

I don’t think the on base taxi drivers like to haul people long distances, and I expect that Giruem-dong qualifies in that regard.  I told the driver we’d tip well for whatever inconvenience the trip might cause, but I couldn’t tell if that was to his satisfaction or not. Well, fuck it, it’s his job so I wasn’t going to fret about it overmuch.  The meter said W11,000 when we arrived and he did help us unload a trunk full of food.  I gave him W22,000 and he seemed happy with that.  As Jee Yeun noted, the savings on the rice alone more than paid for the cab.  So there’s that.

I came across this item on the internet about the Office of Personnel Management shutting down the Q-SIP program because of unspecified “vulnerabilities”.  That’s the system used to submit the 127 page background investigation form.  Which means no one for the next several weeks is getting a security clearance.  I’m thankful I didn’t get caught up in that fiasco or there would have been no commissary (or job) for me.  I’ll take my blessings where ever I find them these days.

Untitled post

This past week I flowed into DEERS, got my CAC, registered in DBIDS and submitted my SAAR.  Now I have full access to all the amenities on the Army post, although I’m still awaiting approval to utilize the NIPRNet.  Perhaps tomorrow.

I was also successful in getting Jee Yeun base access.  The first thing she did when she got her ID card was to go to the PX. The second thing she did was ask for an increase in her allowance.  I told my boss I might not be able to afford working again.

It was a short week given that Friday was a holiday (my first paid holiday in over four years).  And without network access there was much “real” work I could accomplish.  I’ve gotten most of the in-processing stuff out of the way though.  Still need to attend a security briefing and register at the base hospital.

I was granted a rather spacious cubicle...

I was granted a rather spacious cubicle…

In other news, Dolce Vita has thrown in the towel on their long running Friday night dart tourneys.  Competition in other places pretty much did them in.  I remained loyal until the end with DV, but this week I found myself in the belly of the beast at Sin Bin Sports Pub. My partner and I made it to the finals undefeated but that took until after midnight.  We were both tired and ready to call it a night so we agreed to not play the finals and split the winnings for 1st and 2nd place 50-50.  Heh, a win-win if you will.

Last night found me out with some friends from the UK to celebrate a birthday.  Not America’s, a guy from Wales.  Still, I reminded him that he wasn’t the only one with a birthday!  Actually had a grand time.  Did some drinking at Shenanigans, then galbi at a place I had tried before (tasty enough, but the portions seemed small), and then we finished the festivities at Dolce Vita.  A nice night.

My Brit friends were very gracious in their Independence Day comments.  Turns out, they even have a July 4 in the UK.  Who knew?

My Brit friends were very gracious in their Independence Day comments. Turns out, they even have a July 4 in the UK. Who knew?

Now I’m fixing to head out to the commissary to restock the cabinets and fridge which have been severely depleted during my working hiatus.   This time Jee Yeun will be able to accompany me which should reduce the pain-in-the-ass factor by half.

And that’s my story.

 

The Blue and the Gray

I’ve been doing some of my “best” blogging in the comments section over at Kevin Kim’s blog. We’re having a discussion on the issues surrounding the Confederate battle flag that have been so much in the news and on the internet of late.  We both agree that given how that flag has been appropriated by haters and racists it is not appropriate for it to be given any sanctioning by being displayed on government property.

But I draw the line at disrespecting the memory of the soldiers who fought and died for their state, irrespective of the wrongness of the cause for which they were called to fight.

This old poem pretty much captures my feelings in that regard:

The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)

By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray
 

These in the robings of glory,
Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgement-day
Under the laurel, the Blue,
Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike for the friend and the foe;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgement-day;
Under the roses, the Blue,
Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor,
The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
On the blossoms blooming for all:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Broidered with gold, the Blue,
Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
The cooling drip of the rain:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment -day,
Wet with the rain, the Blue
Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
No braver battle was won:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the blossoms, the Blue,
Under the garlands, the Gray

No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day,
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 52 51 50 49 48 47 46  45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 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 celebrated the anniversary of telling the British Empire to go fuck themselves Independence Day with my first ever social event in Korea.  I wrote about it in a post called “Party time”. Had some Army buddies over along with some Korean friends and we had us a grand old time.  Lots of pictures from those days of innocence at the link. Food porn as Kevin Kim would call it.

Orient nation

Oh boy.  Here’s how my week has gone so far.

I tried to go to bed early on Sunday night so I’d be bright tailed and bushy eyed for my first day at work.  Instead I was treated to the incessant rat-a-tat-tat of a jack hammer coming from the street construction nineteen floors beneath me.  The worked stopped (or I fell asleep) at around 2:00 a.m.

My otherwise worthless phone did manage to wake me at the appointed time.  The crappy phone is dumber than my old flip phone.  Wireless won’t open and the data network moves at such an excruciatingly slow pace as to render it unusable.  Second time I’ve had this problem.  Jee Yeun is down at the Samsung store as I write trying to get a replacement phone.  Failing that, I’ll have to buy a new one and eat the penalty on the contract we signed when I bought the Edsel of handphones. UPDATE: Jee Yeun came home with a new and nicer phone, and only paid a W50,000 penalty.  She’s quite the negotiator!

Monday morning the admin person at my new gig signed me onto post and dropped me at the CPAC where I anticipated I’d spend the entire day in orientation.  Instead, after completing a couple of forms and being handed a packet of information I was sent on my way in just over an hour.  So, I hoofed over to DHRM (my office) to begin my new old career.  Which is off to a slow start.

One issue is I can’t access the computer network (or get on base for that matter) until I get my CAC (common access card) and ID card.  I can’t get those until my hiring has been captured in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) which I’m told takes five or six days after the RPA (request for personnel action) is submitted.  That was done last Wednesday, so hopefully tomorrow or Thursday I will have “flowed” into DEERS. When that happens I’ll be able to get registered in DBIDS (Defense Biometric Identification System) and have my CAC issued.  Until then I’m SOL

In that packet of info provided by the CPAC there was a procedure for getting temporary base access and a temporary ration card.  When I called the number provided I was told it takes two days to process the base pass and I’d have to call a different number for ration control.  Meanwhile my boss was completing the paperwork for a visitor’s pass which provides the needed base access and can be done the same day.  So that’s what we did.

Forms completed, signature from the Provost Marshal, and I was back in the car with the pleasant admin person (Ms. Song) bound for Camp Kim where visitor cards are processed.  Now Camp Kim is right across the street from Yongsan Garrison, but because of bus lanes and turn restrictions you have to go the round about way via Camp Coiner.  We drove three miles to get to our destination less than half mile away, but I had the coveted visitor’s pass in less than 30 minutes.  Then we drove back to the Ichon gate where Ms. Song signed me out, and then I re-entered the base using my new visitor pass.  Easy peezy.

Seeing as how I was on a roll I had Ms. Song drop me off at the building where the CPAC said ration control was located.  The room number they provided turned out to be a storage closet.  I asked someone where the ration office was and was told it was over at the 1RC (First Replacement Co.) near the Dragon Hill Lodge.  So I hiked over there and was able to get my Letter of Employment stamped which gives me access to the stores on base (I need my Diet Coke fix!).  Then I walked back over to the office.

Did I mention it was hot on Monday?  Because it was.  And all that walking left me a sweaty mess.  But I wasn’t quite done walking yet. The S-2 (security office) wanted to give me a short five minute in-brief.  I understood this was going to happen at 1500, so once again Ms. Song drove me to the other side of the base.  When I arrived at the appointed office at the appointed I was told by the S-2 Captain’s Sergeant that he was in a meeting with the S-3. So I waited around for half and hour, then hoofed it back to my office sans the promised briefing.  And got more sweaty.

That pretty much ended my first day at work, but my day was far from over.  I still had a darts tournament to run in Itaewon.  I elected to take a cab into town because I had somehow managed to develop an embarrassing (and painful) diaper rash and the top of my thighs.  Ballsy of me, I know.  Heat and friction, a tortuous combination for sure.

Finished second in the tourney, hightailed it out of there and caught the 110B bus home, arriving a little after midnight.  Put on some diaper rash ointment and hit the sack.  Only to wake up tired four and a half hours later.

I’m still tired.  Too tired to write about day 2.  Suffice to say it involved a lot less walking.