Someone who gets it

I sometimes grow weary of defending what should be obvious. I am kinda at the point of saying either you get it or you don’t. Ben Stein makes the point in The American Spectator that surrender in Iraq (and that’s what the Democrats call for pulling out our troops represents) is not an option:

It is not just a guess, but a certainty that if the U.S. were to abruptly withdraw from Iraq, as the Democrats are urging us to do, there would be a bloodbath in Iraq far worse than what we have seen so far. There would be outright civil war, large scale massacres of civilian populations beyond what we have seen by an order of magnitude, and a Middle East in chaos as Iran, the Kurds, and the Sunnis fought it out for land and oil and power. The word of the United States would be mud. Is this really what the Democrats want? Can they really contemplate with calm equanimity the mass murders that will follow a sudden U.S. withdrawal?

I see a frightening pattern here: the Democrats wanted us out of Vietnam, and never mind the genocide that followed. The Democrats want us out of Iraq and never mind that the Baathists will fill the vacuum and all Iraq will be screaming in pain except the murderers, who will exult — especially Osama bin Laden. Can it be that the Democrats really want to surrender to the same man who killed 3,000 civilians on 9/11 and laughed about it? Are we so weak that in only four years, after a war smaller in casualties than many unknown battles of the Civil War, we are already eager to surrender to the man who murdered women and children and made terrified couples hold hands and leap to their deaths from the World Trade Center? If so, there really is little hope for us as a people. My prayer is that careful reflection will convince the Democrats that while we are all unhappy about the war, war is hell, and surrender is far worse. Maybe the Copperheads in the Democrat party, like those who wanted appeasement of the slave owners one hundred and forty years ago, will be a minority, and those who want to keep up the fight for human decency will prevail even as the Neville Chamberlains speak of peace at any price.

I have a voluminous correspondence with soldiers and Marines in Iraq. To a man and woman, they do not want to walk away and make their comrades’ deaths meaningless. They hate the war. They hate the dying. They grieve. So do their families. But they believe in their mission and they do not want their brothers’ losses to be in vain. Their voices should be listened to.

Speaking of getting it, clearly the majority of the American people do. This poll from the Washington Post warmed my heart:

Democrats fumed last week at Vice President Cheney’s suggestion that criticism of the administration’s war policies was itself becoming a hindrance to the war effort. But a new poll indicates most Americans are sympathetic to Cheney’s point.

Seventy percent of people surveyed said that criticism of the war by Democratic senators hurts troop morale — with 44 percent saying morale is hurt “a lot,” according to a poll taken by RT Strategies. Even self-identified Democrats agree: 55 percent believe criticism hurts morale, while 21 percent say it helps morale.

The results surely will rankle many Democrats, who argue that it is patriotic and supportive of the troops to call attention to what they believe are deep flaws in President Bush’s Iraq strategy. But the survey itself cannot be dismissed as a partisan attack. The RTs in RT Strategies are Thomas Riehle, a Democrat, and Lance Tarrance, a veteran GOP pollster.

Their poll also indicates many Americans are skeptical of Democratic complaints about the war. Just three of 10 adults accept that Democrats are leveling criticism because they believe this will help U.S. efforts in Iraq. A majority believes the motive is really to “gain a partisan political advantage.”

This poll is one of the few pieces of supportive news the administration has had lately on Iraq. Most surveys have shown significant majorities believe it was a mistake to go to war, as well as rising sentiment that Bush misled Americans in making the case for it.

Even so, there is still support for Bush’s policy going forward. A plurality, 49 percent, believe that troops should come home only when the Iraqi government can provide for its own security, while 16 percent support immediate withdrawal, regardless of the circumstances.


About last night

Started out at Dolce Vita in Itaewon where I engaged in some pool playing and darts. I played my typical inept pool, and I wasn’t throwing darts up to my capabilities either. But, I ran into some friends, Jeff, Roger, Thomas and Mike. Beer flowed freely. We went to Sweet Carolines for a change of scenery, where we played more darts and I met another guy named Michael. He teaches English and is fluent in Korean. Pretty amazing to see him talk. He’s a big guy and it is just strange to hear him talk just like a Korean. Damn, I wish I could do that. His company just put out a new card game and we played it once then he gave me the set of cards. I’ll have to see if I can remember how to play.

After drinking more beer, we headed up hooker hill to Grand Ole Opry. Mike was pretty lit by then and he flirted with the prostitutes along the way. We had to get a good hold on him and drag him into the relative safety of Grand Ole Opry. The place was packed. Mike fancies himself a country dancer and he found many willing dance partners. Someone bought a round of Jagermeister shots, and that just about finished me off.

A tradition at the Opry is at midnight they play “God bless the USA”, “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Sweet Home Alabama” in succession. Everyone stands and sings along and I think it makes us all feel not so far from home. We left just before 1:00 (soldier curfew). On my way to the house I saw one of the bar girls who I used to play pool with at the Metro Bar. She was working in one of the off limits places, so I assume she must be hooking these days. Made me very sad, because I always thought she was kinda sweet and innocent (well, maybe not innocent, but not your typical juicy girl either). I wished there was something I could do to keep her from the road to ruin she has apparently decided to walk. But there was nothing I could really say and so I just shook my head and kept going.

I woke up on the couch at 6:00 fully dressed with the TV blaring, went to bed and woke up after nine. I actually feel fine though. I didn’t think I was that drunk, but who knows? I had a good time hanging with the guys, and I think I needed that.

Anyway, not much else going on. Going to take it easy today. Tomorrow I am briefing the Chief of Staff on the new DoD National Security Personnel System labor relations provisions. I finalized my slides on Friday and I think I’m ready.

So I’m posting everyday again. I just wish I had something interesting to talk about. Thanks for coming by anyway. And keep checking. You never know, someday I might surprise you with something worth reading.

Silver bells, silver bells

It’s Christmas time in the city. Or at least on Yongsan. Christmas trees, candy canes, Joseph and Mary. The base is all decked out. Yes, the Salvation Army bell ringers were out too, ringing those silver bells. Even the weather looks wintry. Low, overcast skies almost like it wants to snow. Except it is quite warm today. My weather genie says its 55F, so if we do get precip today its going to be water. And that other holiday tradition–shopping–was also on full display. I went by the PX today to pick up some laundry detergent and the place was as packed as any mall in the States for the after Thanksgiving sale. Well, I wasn’t going to stand in line for soap, so I had some Popeye’s chicken then went to the commissary to do my weekly shopping.

Sorry Jenn, they had some big thick pork chops on sale and I couldn’t help but think of you. Don’t take that the wrong way….

Well, back to CIVIII for me. I’m trying to take out the Aztecs (I’m the Dutch this time) before they win the space race….

(yeah, I know my life is a thrill a minute. Don’t envy me, I was just born lucky)

UPDATE: Those bastards. The Aztecs hit me with ICBMs. Wiped out 5 cities. I surrendered.

Corporate wisdom

As a public service to my readers I pass along these “learning moments” that a friend sent via email”

Corporate Lesson 1:

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower,when the doorbell rings.

The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next door neighbor. Before she says a word, Bob says, “I’ll give you $800 to drop that towel,”

After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob.

After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 dollars and leaves.

The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs.

When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, “Who was that?”

“It was Bob the next door neighbor,” she replies.

“Great!” the husband says, “did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?”

Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Corporate Lesson 2:
A priest offered a lift to a Nun.
She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg.
The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.
The nun said, “Father, remember Psalm 129?”
The priest removed his hand.
But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.
The nun once again said, “Father, remember Psalm 129?”
The priest apologized “Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.”
Arriving at the convent, the nun went on her way.
On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129.
It said, “Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.”

Moral of the story: If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Corporate Lesson 3:
A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.
They rub it and a Genie comes out.
The Genie says, “I’ll give each of you just one wish.”
“Me first! Me first!” says the admin. clerk.
“I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world” Poof! She’s gone.
“Me next! Me next!” says the sales rep. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.” Poof! He’s gone.

“OK, you’re up,” the Genie says to the manager.

The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.”

Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Corporate Lesson 4:
A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day.
A rabbit asked him, “Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?”
The crow answered: “Sure, why not.”
So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested.
A fox jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very high up.

Corporate Lesson 5:
A turkey was chatting with a bull.
“I would love to be able to Get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey,but I haven’t got the energy.”
“Well, why don’t you nibble on my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients.”
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.
The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.
Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree
Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bullshìt might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

The reviews are in

And my fruit salad and pumpkin pie were a hit. Ok, the pumpkin pie was frozen and if you ever had the pleasure of Carol’s homemade pie, well you would know what a joke complimenting mine is.

There were 25 guests at Corine’s TG party, ten of whom were Korean college students from Corine’s language exchange program. They were all very nice. The girls were very impressed that I actually could prepare food. They called me “pumpkin pie man”. One of the young Korean men insisted on my fruit salad recipe so he could make it for his mother. Ain’t that sweet? So, from now on I’m changing the name of my recipe from “Aunt Pat’s Fruit Salad” to “Aunt Pat’s WORLD FAMOUS Fruit Salad”.

Anyway, a good time was had and it did feel like a real Thanksgiving gathering. I enjoyed meeting the other guests and several of the students insisted that I join their program, which I gather involves getting together on Saturday’s and partaking in some Korean cultural activity. I said I would and I might, but my Korean is embarassingly minimal and this group is somewhat advanced. They certainly speak good English. Hell, I have been here for 10 months now, I should be much further along in acquiring the native tongue. One guy asked me if I spoke Korean (in Korean). Well, I recognized what he was asking but I could not respond in Korean. Duh. I guess my absorbtion method of watching Korean dramas on TV until I fall asleep is not working. So, on to plan B.

Corine sent me home with some leftovers so I will get my turkey fix on tomorrow. Too bad I have to work. Oh well, I’m sure it will be a very quiet day.

That’s my report. Goodnight all.

Thanksgiving in Korea

Well its Thanksgiving Day here in the ROK (or as my Korean friends call it “American Chusok”), so let me be the first to wish everyone a happy holiday.

This is the first Thanksgiving ever spent away from my family. And although I would rather be participating in those family traditions I treasure, I’m not going to sit here and lament all that I will be missing this year (I can almost smell that turkey in the oven). Instead, I will make a fruit salad, bake a pumpkin pie, and do my best to enjoy the festivities at Corine’s house this afternoon. She has family visiting, plus she has invited about 20 people to partake in the feast. So I will meet new people today, eat lots of good food, and focus on all the blessings in my life that I am often too quick to overlook.

Here are the things I am most thankful for this year:

My children, all of whom are adults now, each special and unique and well on their way to leading successful and happy lives. I don’t tell them often enough just how much I love them and how proud I am to be their father.

My beautiful granddaughter Gracyn. Someday I will make up for the lost time at the beginning of her life and will spoil her rotten. Sorry about that Mark and Renee, it’s what granddad’s do.

My parents, who are settled into a new home in South Carolina where I hope they are finding life easier. I know they are enjoying spending time with the grandchildren and their new great granddaughter.

I’m thankful that I am loved despite my many flaws and transgressions. I know I don’t make it easy to love me, and that makes me truly appreciate the perserverance required to overlook the bad qualities to see the good person I aspire to be.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to live in this fascinating country and to experience the joy of discovering the wonders of an ancient culture and its beautiful people.

I’m thankful for the new friends I have made and the old friendships I have managed to maintain. I include amongst them some people I have never met but through the power of the Internet reminded me that I am never alone. Thanks for being there with words of encouragement in my darkest days. The kindness of strangers is sweet indeed.

I’m thankful for all the brave soldiers who sacrafice so much to defend the nation that I love and to help bring the freedom we too often take for granted to the oppressed and forgotten people in this world.

I am thankful for my job which is challenging and satisfying and pays the bills. As corny as it may sound, I am truly honored to serve those who serve and I am glad to have this opporutnity to play a very small part in defending the freedom of the Korean people.

Yes, there is much to be thankful for on this day of thanks giving. I wish you all a blessed and happy day.


Well, I got introduced to a new poet. Charles Bukowski. From the beat generation, or so said the bio I read on line. And a former postal employee, so we have that in common. You can read more about his life here. A shorter bio and a few of his poems can be found here.

Its funny, because I was advised to spend more time reading Bukowski and less time with my preferred poets who coincidentally or not wound up killing themselves. Now, I must say that Mr. Bukowski’s writing does speak to me, but what I have found so far is not especially uplifting.

Anyway, as an example of his work, here’s one that I like quite a lot:

from: Love is A Mad Dog From Hell

I don’t know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I dont know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women-
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
“what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!”

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows its bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horney cowboys.

well, there’s beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottles fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

Yeah, I have days like that sometimes.

Oh well, time to get ready for my weekly humiliation at pool league. At least there will be plenty of beer…..

UPDATE: Well, I played excellent darts last night. I hit three double bulls in a row. Quite the sight to see three darts in the black at the same time. It will probably never happen again. Of course, I was playing darts between pool games. Both of which I lost. I did play better, at least I avoided embarassing myself. And now the season is over. I don’t know yet if I will be invited back next season, or even if I want to put myself through that torture. I’m gonna keep practicing though.

And the beer was good and plentiful.


Well, I promised a post this weekend so here it is. Wish I had something new and exciting to report but I have really been leading a boring life lately. Anyway, here’s the scoop such as it is.

Today my pool team played in the first round of the end of season tourney. As usual, I sucked and lost three games. Since we only lost by one, I was the weak link. It really bums me out that I let the team down, but without me they forfeit, so I submit to the humiliation week in and week out.

I did run into my buddy Jeff at the bar and we came back to my place, made nachos and watched Team America. I’ve seen it several times now, but it was Jeff’s first. Still cracks me up.

Jeff will be leaving for good come February, and another good friend (Robert) left last week. I know it is part of the life here, but I am really going to miss them. Guess I need to start making some new buds, but that is not something I’m particularly good at. We’ll see.

I am mostly avoiding the bar scene these days. Which leaves me lots of time to myself. I’m not sure either lifestyle is particularly healthy. I’ve been feeling a little blue with the approaching holidays. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite, and it just won’t be much fun without family around. I will be spending the day at a gathering a coworker is having. Her daughter and son-in-law and a couple of grandkids, plus about 10 other lonely expats. I’ll be making my fruit salad and bringing a couple of pies.

No Christmas plans as yet. I would love to take a trip but I’m not sure that will work out. I’m eligible to catch a military flight on a space available basis, Maybe Guam would be nice. Actually, truth is I’m really tired of making plans that only include me. As good as my company is, I’m pretty bored with myself. And now I have shared that joy of boredom with this pathetic post. Alas.

So, I called this one transitions. I guess I’m feeling like I’m on the cusp of one. Seeing my friends heading back to the states, and realizing that I need to get my act together and make more of my life here will hopefully spur me to make some positive changes. Cause I’ve been a real loser lately.

What I tend to do when I get this way is shut the world out. Obviously, I have not been true to my blog, but far worse, I have not been writing home, not even acknowledging repeated emails. It has oft been said that we treat the ones we love worse than strangers. Hmm, maybe I should say that has oft been said to me. It is too true. I have a selfish side anyway, but when I get into this state of mind I feel like I am walking through a make believe world and I’m the only real person in it. It is really unfair and for those of you who have wondered what’s up with that, just let me say I’m sorry and it is nothing personal. I miss so many things and I have found a real f’d up way of dealing with it. So let’s hope for a smooth transition and a new and improved outlook on life.

And hopefully no more posts like this one, eh?

Ok, let me leave you with something I found strange here in Korea. A couple of weeks ago I was making a rare appearance at Sweet Caroline’s (yes, that’s right. Even when I do go out, I don’t hang there much. Too quiet, and when I’m out I want to be around people, even if I treat them like props). But I digress. So, I’m sitting at the bar minding my own business. There are a few people there. Some of the folks from GM Daewoo I had metbefore, and they seemed genuinely glad to see me, which was nice. And a table of Korean men, doing the Korean style thing where you buy the bottle and sit and get plastered. And from all appearances they had pretty much achieved that objective by the time I arrived.

So this Korean gentlemen comes up and starts trying to talk to me, but I’m not getting a lot of what he is saying. He gives me his business card (which I can’t read) but I smile and thank him. He leaves and comes back in a few minutes and tries to chat me up again. I am grinning stupidly, nodding and saying things like “yeah, good time” and “having fun”. He leaves and starts dancing with one of the GM execs, well, not with, more like “at”, if you know what I mean. She wasn’t exactly particpating, more like politely swaying from foot to foot. Then he comes over to me, and I swear I thought he was asking me to dance . Hey politeness only goes so far, right? I’m saying “no, I’m fine, just enjoying the music”. He persists, so I kinda just swivel my bar stool like I’m really into dancing while seated. He gives up and walks off.

Then the waitress comes over and says “Mr. (whatever the hell his name was) thinks you are a very intelligent American [hey, that’s what she said] and he and his friends want you to join them at their table”. She indicated it would be bad form to not have a drink with them. Damn, I do try hard to be respectful and lord knows us Yanks get blamed for everything wrong in the world already, last thing I wanted was to be tagged as a rude American. So, I sauntered on over.

I will preface what happened next by stating up front that I recognize there are some very real cultural differences in the way males interact here. It is very common for Korean men to walk down the street arm and arm and all that. Nothing wrong with it of course, but where I’m from men really don’t touch each other. I’m just sayin’.

So, I sit down with these four obviously drunk Koreans. I am able to discern that they are stock brokers from some city down south that I also don’t recall (I had quaffed a few brews, but I was not drunk by any means). So, they want me to put some of their Korean whiskey in a shot glass and do it in my beer, boilermaker style. I decline. I don’t like whiskey all that much, and I definitely don’t like it in my beer. Did that once and almost puked on some MPs as I raced to the bathroom (I think I blogged that, but I’m not going to look it up now). So, I finally agree to just down the shot, and they seem pleased with that effort.

So, we are sitting there “talking” (if talking includes none of us understanding much of what the other was saying, well, I guess the Koreans understood each other but they weren’t getting me anymore than I was getting them). And then the guy next to me starts touching my moustache. Ok, not many Korean men can or do grow them. And mine is rather bushy. So he is touching it and saying what I suppose was “nice moustache” in Korean. I push his hand away while thanking him “kamsamnida”. I take a pull off my beer, and damn if he didn’t start stroking the ‘stache again. Alright, I wasn’t too comfortable to begin with, but this was just a bit too bizarre. I thanked him again for the compliment, and moved over as far as I could without falling out of the booth. I guess he got the hint, because he didn’t try that again.

Since they had shared their whiskey and my beer glass was empty I bought a round of beers. It would have been rude not to, Koreans don’t do “Dutch treat”. Anyway, we do some toasts and the next thing I know the guy who was so intrigued by my moustache is stroking the top of my hand. Alright, that really freaked me out. I got up and asked the waitress “what’s up with this guy touching my hand, is that some gay thing?” She laughed and said “no, it just means he likes you”. I said, “yeah, that’s what has me worried”. I told her about the moustache incident and she said “don’t worry, they are just drunk and being friendly”. Well, I don’t really want to cause an international incident, but this is just taking the US-ROK alliance a little to far for me.

About this time, the GM folks were heading out and the drunk Korean with the business card had the female exec cornered. She is from Great Britain and is really funny and very kind. She was being very polite, but clearly wanted to get the hell outta there. So, I interrupted and said how nice it was to have seen her again and she gave me a hug, thanked me for rescuing her and made a beeline for the door. I also said my goodbyes, but it took me another ten minutes before I could escape my hosts. I had to promise to come to their hometown for a guided tour about ten times before I was able to flee the scene.

So, that was the only unusual thing I have encountered of late. And no, in case you are wondering, I don’t anticipate a transition to gayness or Korean style touching or whatever they hell that was, anytime soon. Not that there is anything wrong with it….


I was hacked. I don’t know how or why, but it appears the problem may have been resolved. We’ll see. Just wanted everyone to know I am alive. I’ll update you on my so-called life this weekend.