Photos of the LTG villa

All right, I’m a little too tired tonight to do much writing, so let me whet your appetite with some photos of my little Korean homestead…..

Ok, I won’t accuse the Koreans of engaging in hyperbole, I’ll be kind and say something was lost in the translation. My villa is very nice and comfortable. A clean well-lighted place. However, it is not a Royal Palace (saw one of those in Istanbul).

My street. I really hate when I meet oncoming traffic. It is not quite wide enough for two cars.

The likely scene of my ultimate demise. This intersection has no signal. I need to turn left here to go to work. Cars come flying through. I almost got broadsided Saturday. Of course, my alternative is walking, and it is not a bad option. Except, see those stairs? Well, I should be in good shape (or dead) soon.

Ok, the one thing this place does not have that I really wanted was a view. This is what I settled for….

You can kinda sorta see the Seoul skyline from my balcony, but there is a good view from the rooftop. And the rooftop is set up for cookouts and parties. I’ll get some shots from up there when it warms up a tad.

Let’s go inside….

The entrance foyer. I have adopted the Korean custom of not wearing shoes in the house, hence the slippers….

The living room….

Dining area….

The kitchen….

Now this is pretty cool. It’s a washer/dryer combo and it’s in the kitchen. Used it tonight and it worked like a charm. Very quiet. And small. Took 3 loads to do my meager belongings (well, I had a bath towel and two pair of jeans that made a full load, then the rest of the darks and then the whites). Notice how the landlord put English labels under the Hangul. Good thing too. I did not use the dryer. Landlord says it takes a very long time and since the military housing folks lend appliances, they sent me over this nice big brand-new American Whirlpool dryer….

Which is so convienently [not] located in an alcove on my balcony. Next to the built-in vacuum system which I have already put to work. It’s great!

Ok, on with the tour….

The hallway which leads to….

The guest bedroom and my office….

and a bathroom.

Then on to the master bedroom suite….

This bed is the damnest thing. Queen sheets are too small, King are too large. Go figure.

I have lots of closet space.

And a great master bath. I have not used that big jacuzzi tub yet, but the shower is the best one I have ever had the pleasure to utilize. The six jets of hot water hit all the right places. I spend WAY too much time in there.

Along the back of the villa is this long narrow room. I saw these in a lot of the Korean houses I looked at. I still do not understand the purpose or function. I am using it as a little patio (it is accessable from my office). I guess it would be a good place for plants or something.

The view from the “patio” also pretty much sucks, but I do live near a mosque and you can see the tower from there.

And finally, especially for EuroYank who requested more photos of Korean women, I offer the three sisters who run Sweet Caroline, a bar I have been known to frequent. Left to Right are Mi-Soon, Tami, and Sister.

All right, it’s late and I’m off to bed. I will endeavor to post some news from here tomorrow.

He’s baaack!

I am so freakin’ excited. KT (Korea Telephone) just set up my Internet! I must confess that I have felt a bit out of sorts without my daily Internet fix. Plus, I felt disconnected from the world (or at least the part of the world that is familiar to me).

So for better or worse, Long Time Gone is back in business. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and I also owe my devoted readers some snippets of what I have been up to, but bear with me while I see what has been going on in the world this past *gasp* 3 days!

I also have some photos of my new digs I’ll put up a bit later too. It’s like Christmas for me right now, I need to go open up my other presents before I play with this one. I’ll be back in a jiffy……

Moving day

This is goodbye for awhile. I’m finally outta this hotel. Sadly, I won’t get Internet at my new place until Wednesday or Thursday next week. If I can get to an Internet cafe I will try and drop in to say hi to my faithful readers (both of you! :))

I am very excited. Spent over $1000. last night at the BX. Got more to buy today, but probably no more the $500., so I am being as frugal as possible.

OK, I will no doubt miss y’all more than you miss me, but don’t forget me while I’m gone.

Checking in

Just to let you know all is well. Last night I went with my realtors to make sure my villa has been furnished appropriately, or at least in accordance with my understanding, and it was. I was really worried about what kind of furniture the landlord would pick out because I have discerned certain cultural differences in things like color coordination and furniture style. The landlord did all right. Not what I would have picked, but I can work with it. I despise the chrome and glass coffee table, but I’m hoping Mrs. LTG will consent to send me a tapestry or two she purchased during our recent trip to Istanbul. A rug for the LR floor, some pictures for the wall, and I’ll have it feeling like home or a reasonable facsimile thereof in no time. I’ll be posting lots of photos, so stay tuned.

After work today (and I am very busy at work right now) I am going to the BX to equip the villa with the necessities of life. Oh, and I need to get over to KT (Korean Telephone) for my basic phone service and Internet connection. I am hoping I can be hooked up by Friday when I move in, but if not I may be out of touch for a couple of days.

Tonight is my last night in this hotel! I am so damned excited about that.

Saturday afternoon I will be attending my boss’s wedding. Still haven’t found a gift, but I will probably just pick up a vase or something lame like that. It may be sexist, but I really am lost without Mrs. LTG when it comes to the social graces. The Korean tradition is to give money as a wedding gift, and that really makes a lot of sense. If it weren’t my boss I might do that, but I just can’t get over the cultural (and ethical) hurdles associated with giving money to the person who evaluates my performance.

Well I should have some interesting blog material coming soon what with the move and the wedding and the shopping. Until then….

The forgotten war

Well, forgotten by most of the MSM that is. Nothing runs off the press like the smell of success.

But success is undeniable in Afghanistan, and things are looking better there all the time. According to this account, some senior Taliban leaders are not only taking President Karzai’s amnesty offer, but they are also actively encouraging others to do so as well.

One of the Taliban’s most senior and charismatic commanders has become a key negotiator as more and more members of the Islamic militia in Afghanistan give up the fight against the Americans.

The commander, Abdul Salam, earned the nickname Mullah Rockety because he was so accurate with rocket propelled grenades against Russian troops.
He later joined the Taliban as a corps commander in Jalalabad before being captured by the Americans after September 11.

Now he is a supporter of President Hamid Karzai and is tempting diehard Taliban fighters to accept an amnesty offer and reconcile themselves to Afghanistan’s first directly elected leader.

It’s not over yet, and Mullah Omar is promising a spring “offensive” against US and Afghani forces, but it appears likely that Omar is simply blind to the new realities on the ground. (sorry).

The people of Afghanistan have embraced democracy. And that is a beautiful thing to see. And speaking of beautiful, here’s my favorite soldier posing with a truckload of confiscated drugs.

One of those kind of nights…

Scrolling through the photo albums on my laptop and listening to old music on my portable CD player….

Comforting and disconcerting at the same time. Or maybe Neil Young will just do that to you late at night alone in a hotel room….

Motion pictures on my TV screen
A home away from home
And I’m living in between
Well I hear some people
Have got thier dream
I’ve got mine.

I hear the mountains
Are doing fine
Morning glories on the vine
And the dew is falling
The ducks are calling
Yes, I’ve got mine.

Well all those headlines
They just bore me now
I’m deep inside myself
But I’ll get out somehow
And I’ll stand before you
And I’ll bring a smile
To your eyes.

Motion pictures, motion pictures…

Goodnight. Tomorrow is a new a better day.

Man, that’s got to sting….

Two great posts tonight at Vodka Pundit:

First from Will Collier:

George W. Bush, on Jacques Chriac:

Only months after he criticized countries “like France,” President Bush was lavish in his praise of French President Jacques Chirac, one of the sharpest critics of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

“I’m looking for a good cowboy,” Bush said Monday when a French reporter asked him whether relations had improved to the point where the U.S. president would be inviting Chirac to the U.S. president’s ranch in Texas.

And the headline:

Bush Suggests Chirac Is ‘Good Cowboy’

I can’t imagine a more damaging sentence in the eyes of the French electorate.

Moral of the story: Don’t mess with GWB. He plays rough.

The comments are priceless too.

Then from the other side of the world and the other extreme of emasculation comes this report from Stephen Green:

As if Vodkapundit doesn’t already provide you with enough links to severed penis stories, here’s one from Alaska:

ANCHORAGE — Police in Alaska say a woman upset about an impending break-up with her boyfriend cut off his penis and flushed it down a toilet. Utility workers recovered the severed body part and surgeons reattached it.

The woman is charged with first-degree assault, domestic violence and tampering with evidence. She’s being held without bail pending arraignment Monday.

Hear that, ladies? If you’re planning on chopping off your man’s man-bits, don’t flush it down the toilet after. Otherwise, you could get charged with tampering with evidence. Now, if the toilet clogged would that be “obstruction of justice?”

Speaking for myself, I will take cutting sarcasm any day.

Not a good start to the day

So, I am making my coffee this morning and I dropped the pot. Shattered into shards covering a surprising radius. Called for housekeeping to bring a broom and new pot. They got here promptly and cleaned up the mess. The coffee maker they brought does not work however.

Guess going without coffee this morning is my punishment for being a clumsy oaf.

UPDATE: Day turned out ok. Got my SOFA stamp from Korean immigration, got my permanent ration card, have an appointment for transport of household goods tomorrow, and some more work piled on the desk. Hey, it doesn’t get much better than this!

This is going to be interesting…

Stars and Stripes has a story on the union’s plan to file a grievance over the curfew.

The union that represents civilian U.S. Army workers in South Korea is planning this week to ask for thousands of dollars in back pay for the more than 700 hours its members have spent at home complying with U.S. Forces Korea’s curfew policy, according to the union’s president.

The union says its current contract with USFK and the 8th Army requires the government to pay the normal wage for hours spent on “stand-by duty” in response to military restrictions that require civilian workers to remain home in a state of readiness.

Well, I have a policy of keeping my work life out of my blog life, so I will withhold comment. Let’s just say I wouldn’t plan to spend that money anytime soon. Or as my high school sweetheart used to say “wanting and getting are two different things”.

Via The Lost Nomad

Still a secret in Korea

The Colonel’s secret recipe of herbs and spices that is. Yep, on my walkabout yesterday I stopped into the Itaewon KFC and got the two piece meal (W4900). The chicken had a reddish tint rather than the golden brown to which I am accustomed. It was quite spicy and came with a packet of hot sauce just in case you wanted a little more fire. I didn’t. It was not bad, just not what I expected. The biscuit was excellent, the cole slaw tasted the same as home. No mashed potatoes and gravy though. Anyway, for the first time since I arrived in Korea I had a negative reaction to something I ate. I was up and down all night with trips to the bathroom if you get my meaning. Anyway, all better this morning.

It has been very cold. My weather girl says it is 10 degrees this morning. I walked into town yesterday afternoon to see if I could find a shortcut to my villa. I did find a back way, but I will have to climb some steep steps (I didn’t count, but it looks like 50 and feels like 100) whichever direction I take. Yea! A built in workout everyday, and I don’t even have to buy a Stairmaster!

I hadn’t noticed when I was shown the villa, but the building it’s in is called The Royal Palace. Well, it’s a nice place but that’s a bit of an overstatement. I just hope the landlord picks out some furnishings that are comfortable and not too ugly. Guess I will find out soon enough.

Played some more CIV III last night. Those damn Carthaginians did a sneak attack on me. So I have been plotting some appropriate retaliation that is very un-Gandhi like (I’m playing as India).

I may venture out again if it gets a little warmer today. The walls in this hotel room do tend to close in on you after awhile.

An old joke

but worth sharing here on the chance that you haven’t heard it before (and even if you have). As Virginia is my adoptive state, I especially appreciate the sentiment:

When Osama bin Laden died, he was met at the Pearly Gates by George Washington, who slapped him across the face and yelled, “How dare you try to destroy the nation I helped conceive!”

Patrick Henry approached, punched him in the nose and shouted, “You wanted to end our liberties but you failed.”

James Madison followed, kicked him in the groin and said, “This is why I allowed our government to provide for the common defense!”

Thomas Jefferson was next, beat Osama with a long cane and snarled, “It was evil men like you who inspired me to write the Declaration of Independence.”

The beatings and thrashings continued as George Mason, James Monroe and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger on the terrorist leader.

As Osama lay bleeding and in pain, an Angel appeared. Bin Laden wept and said, “This is not what you promised me.”

The Angel replied, “I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you in Heaven. What did you think I said?”

Via: Powerline

I write like a girl!

I was over at A Small Victory this morning and Michele was complaining that some readers assumed she was male. She linked to this interesting site called “the gender genie” that predicts your gender based on your writing. So, I plugged in the text from my post below and the gender genie predicts that I am female! I’m not really sure how to take that.

Just for fun, I plugged in one of Mrs. LTG’s comments and she writes like a man.

I am so confused. I might be on the verge of a gender identity crisis. Although it appears I am heterosexual, which is somehow comforting.

Sunday morning

Well, I did get out and about some yesterday. I did some window shopping here on base trying to get an idea of what I will have to spend out of pocket to equip my villa (apartment really, but that’s the local term of art for an apartment in a building with 4 or fewer floors). I will need to purchase bed linens, towels, dishes, pots and pans, cooking utensils, microwave, gas grill, TV, and a DVD player. Plus everything I have not thought of yet, but will when I need it. So depending on how much I decide to spend for the TV I am looking at between $1500 and $3500. Ouch. Mrs. LTG is going to send some extra linens and towels and my Ansel Adams prints for the walls, but that will take 8 weeks or so to arrive. Regardless, I am very excited about moving day this Friday.

Came back to the hotel and worked on my Korean using my flash cards. Acquired a few new words, so I walked into to Itaewon to try them out. There are many different types of drinking establishments, and you have to exercise due caution in the ones you choose to patronize. Obviously the ones that USFK has declared off-limits are out. Those are the places that sell sex along with the booze. Not off limits but still to be avoided in my view are the ones where a pretty Korean woman sits with you at the bar and chats you up, then sweetly asks if you will buy her a drink. A drink that costs 20,000 WON (about $20). That’s expensive company, and I am not THAT lonely!

So far, I have found two places that are comfortable, where you can sit and have a beer or two in a friendly atmosphere with no strings attached. I mentioned the 3 Alley Pub previously. The other bar is called Sweet Caroline’s (and yes, they do have the Neil Diamond song of that name included amongst a pretty eclectic mix of English language music they play). Last night was my third visit and I am starting to feel like a regular. They call me “the professor”. Go figure.

The first time I went there I met some folks from Great Britain who were hilarious and really fun to hang out with. I always carry a few of my flash cards to check my pronunciation and the bartender has been getting into her role as school teacher. I reciprocate by teaching her English idioms (she has a good command of basic English). For example, I was learning my animal names last night: chwee (mouse), kaw-yang-ee (cat), ke (dog). I then explained to Mi-soon (the bartender’s name) the meaning behind such things as “playing cat and mouse” and “fighting like cats and dogs”. She had never heard those phrases and really got a kick out of it.

I think I’m viewed as somewhat eccentric because I eat the popcorn they serve with chopsticks. Hey, gotta practice, practice, practice. They also make fun of my beer belly (good naturedly I hope), which is a pretty good motivator for me to really focus on losing some weight. Speaking of beer, I have sampled 3 of the popular Korean brands; OB, Hite, and Cass. All pretty good, all light pilsners. I am leaning towards making Cass my beer of choice.

A Sergeant Major named Sergio came in last night. He had been in my new arrivals training but we had not really had a chance to talk. It was his first visit to Sweet Caroline’s and they made him feel right at home, giving him the nickname “Valentino”. Interesting guy. Been in the military 27 years and has traveled the world, although this was his first time in Korea. It was pretty cool encountering a familiar face and I enjoyed chatting with him. We walked back to the base together in plenty of time to stay out of curfew trouble. But damn it was COLD. Around 20 degrees and the wind was blowing like it does in Chicago. It’s 14 this morning.

Anyway, it was a nice night out and I think I needed the social interaction. Thanks to all who expressed concern for my well-being. There are always going to be good days and bad days. Sometimes being isolated on base and in this hotel just exacerbates the loneliness and longing for home. But, I have a positive outlook and I really am enjoying learning about this fascinating country and its people. Even when it is hard and I’m feeling blue, I do not regret my decision to come. I know that once I have moved I will be much more comfortable with my situation.

I really want to check out the electronics market and do some cost comparisons with the BX. It is close to the base, but in an area I have not ventured out to as yet. I just wish it weren’t so damn cold out. I have the car now, but parking is a nightmare and frankly I get a little freaked driving in unfamiliar territory. If I know where I’m going I can manage it, but this is not the kind of city I want to get lost in. We’ll see.

Alright then, that’s what I’ve been up to. Now, let’s see if I can’t find some interesting political issue to write about. 🙂


And the wind is blowing. So much for my Saturday plans of getting out and about. Well, we’ll see. After a few more hours in this hotel room, braving a blizzard may seem comparatively easy. Back home I would be stoking the fireplace, Carol would bake some brownies, we’d pop in a DVD and life would be good.

I am not homesick
I am not homesick
I am not homesick
I am not homesick
Wish I were home
I am not homesick
I am not homesick
I am not homesick
I am not homesick

What was the noise? Oh, CIV III is calling me. Back later.

UPDATE: WooHoo, the sun is out! So, I am going to go out and walk around and see what there is to see. Talk to you later!

No better friend, no worse enemy…

Wow. This story about Marine Lance Corporal Tim Tardif is incredible. A must read!

Here is Part 1.

And for the rest of the story, read Part 2.

I took some heat over at The Wide Awakes for my praise of the American soldier. Sorry, but stories like this one bring tears of pride to my eyes. I may never have worn the uniform, but that does not make me unqualified to share my admiration and praise for those remarkable men and women who do. God bless them all.

Via Little Green Footballs

UPDATE: And while you are at it, go over to The Lost Nomad and check out this post. Be sure and watch the superbowl ad again too. It gets to me everytime.

The Wild, Wild West…

Liberal gadfly and frequent commenter Carol (full disclosure: she is also Mrs. LTG) had some harsh words for bloggers and accused us of doing a disservice to the nation in our takedown of Eason Jordan. She was critical of my citing the Washington Times and suggested I consult a “real” source like the Wall Street Journal. Ok, how about this editorial from columnist Peggy Noonan:

“Salivating morons.” “Scalp hunters.” “Moon howlers.” “Trophy hunters.” “Sons of Sen. McCarthy.” “Rabid.” “Blogswarm.” “These pseudo-journalist lynch mob people.”

This is excellent invective. It must come from bloggers. But wait, it was the mainstream media and their maidservants in the elite journalism reviews, and they were talking about bloggers!

Those MSMers have gone wild, I tell you! The tendentious language, the low insults. It’s the Wild Wild West out there. We may have to consider legislation.

When you hear name-calling like what we’ve been hearing from the elite media this week, you know someone must be doing something right. The hysterical edge makes you wonder if writers for newspapers and magazines and professors in J-schools don’t have a serious case of freedom envy.

The bloggers have that freedom. They have the still pent-up energy of a liberated citizenry, too. The MSM doesn’t. It has lost its old monopoly on information. It is angry.

Please go read the whole thing. She has some wonderful insights on this new age of journalism and access to information.

Thanks Carol. You were right. The WSJ did a much better job here than the Times.