Everybody knows this is nowhere

Just dropped by to prove that I remain among the living. Nothing much to say however. Just more of the same, work, darts, rinse, repeat.

Busan was good, although I didn’t do much of the film festival activities. Nolan and Grant did some backstage stuff and had a good time. Me, I walked around alot and spent time in the casino. Big (read expensive) mistake. Ah well. I did run into the blogger from The Homely Planet. He was playing with his band in a bar I spent some time in. Our politics are as far apart as east is from west, but he’s a pretty interesting guy regardless. It was kinda cool meeting a fellow expat blogger in 3-D.

Since I’ve nothing to say, here’s some random pictures. Mostly from the dart tourney a couple of weeks ago, but a couple of Busan shots as well. Hang tough, people. Life is good.


Rick. Pretty cool guy in our league. English teacher.


Joon. A sweet girl who is dating another teacher in our league, Bill.


Yun Jin (aka YJ) owner of Dolce Vita, Jim’s yobo, and a good friend.

Me, Petro, Duke, and Tom.

Bill and Tom playing a match


Joon sizing up the situation


“I woulda won it all if that double bull hadn’t bounced out”


Lonnie, yet another English teacher.
Nolan, Doug, and Steph.


YooLee, Tom’s girlfriend recently arrived from Indonesia


Me and my meager winnings from a 4th place finish


Tom beat me to take 3rd.


Duke got 2nd place.


Petro took first but he ain’t showing the money. It was W140,000


Grant won the mystery draw.


As is our custom, shots flow at the conclusion (hell, during too) of the tourney. Here YooLee and Duke demonstrate the “proper” way to drink the shot known as a blow job. I refuse to drink one that way, but it is fun to ask the cute barkeep for a blow job now and then.


I’m sure there was a reason I took this picture. I just don’t remember what it is.


The love motel where I stayed in Busan.


The bed in which I slept rather uncomfortably.


School girls on the beach in Busan.


More school girls.


Haeundae Beach.

Ok, that’s it.

I think I’d like to go back home
And take it easy
There’s a woman that I’d like to get to know
Living there
Everybody seems to wonder
What its like out here
Gotta get away from this day to day running around
Everybody knows this is nowhere

Everytime I think about back home
It’s cool and breezy
I wish that I could be there right now
Just passin’ time
Everybody seems to wonder
What its like out here
Gotta get away from this day to day running around
Everybody knows this is nowhere.

–Neil Young

By the time I get to Busan

Actually, that’s just a riff on the old Glen Campbell tune, but it works. I’m fixin’ to head out to Seoul Station to catch the KTX. I’ll be back Sunday and hopefully be able to post some photos and tell you all about the Pusan International Film Festival I’ll be attending.

Cool thing happened last night on my way home. A stranger on the street stopped me and said “hey, I know you!”. Turns out he recognized me from my blog. Says he’s a frequent reader. I apologized for being such a slacker and not posting more often. He said he enjoys reading about darts (which is about all I write about these days, darts being the focal point of my life and all). Ah well, pathetic beats dead anyday. So, James (it was James right?) thanks for reading. It was really fun to meet you that way.

And last night we whipped Blue Frog 17-2 which should keep us in first place for another week. Rubbies and FFOD have been coming on strong, and we meet Rubbies head-to-head on Monday.

Well, I gotta catch that train. Have a great weekend everyone!

McCain on North Korea

Captain’s Quarters has a guest blog today from Senator John McCain. I think his words are especially important as he seems as likely to be a strong contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008. He has some strong criticism of President Clinton’s failed policies and those who are calling for a return to a “carrot and no stick” approach with Kim, Jung-il, including Hillary Clinton.

I’m going to beg the Captains indulgence and reprint McCain’s words in their entirety here:

Korea doubts the world’s resolve. It is testing South Korea, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States. They launched seven missiles in July, and were criticized by the Security Council, but suffered no serious sanction. We have talked and talked about punishing their bad behavior. They don’t believe we have the resolve to do it. We must prove them wrong.

I am encouraged by the Security Council’s swift and strong condemnation of the act on Monday, but the permanent members must now follow up our words with action. We must impose Chapter 7 sanctions with teeth, as President Bush has proposed.

China has staked its prestige as an emerging great power on its ability to reason with North Korea, keep them engaged with the six party negotiations, and make progress toward a diplomatic resolution of this crisis. North Korea has now challenged them as directly as they challenge South Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S. It is not in China’s interest or our interest to have a nuclear arms race in Asia, but that is where we’re headed. If China intends to be a force for stability in Asia, then it must do more than rebuke North Korea. It must show Pyongyang that it cannot sustain itself as a viable state with aggressive actions and in isolation from the entire world.

They have missiles, and now they claim to have tested a nuclear device. Eventually they will have the technology to put warheads on missiles. That is a grave threat to South Korea, Japan and the United States that we cannot under any circumstances accept. North Korea also has a record of transferring weapons technology to other rogue nations, such as Iran and Syria.

The President is right to call on the Council to impose a military arms embargo, financial and trade sanctions, and, most importantly, the right to interdict and inspect all cargo in and out of North Korea. I hope the Council quickly adopts these sanctions, and that all members enforce them.

The worst thing we could do is accede to North Korea’s demand for bilateral talks. When has rewarding North Korea’s bad behavior ever gotten us anything more than worse behavior?

I would remind Senator Hillary Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush Administration policies that the framework agreement her husband’s administration negotiated was a failure. The Koreans received millions in energy assistance. They diverted millions in food assistance to their military. And what did they do? They secretly enriched uranium.

Prior to the agreement, every single time the Clinton Administration warned the Koreans not to do something — not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor — they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton Administration with further talks. We had a carrots and no sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior. When one carrot didn’t work, we offered another.

This isn’t just about North Korea. Iran is watching this test of the Council’s will, and our decisions will surely influence their response to demands that they cease their nuclear program. Now, we must, at long last, stop reinforcing failure with failure.

BTW, if you are not a regular reader of Captain’s Quarters you are missing out on some of the best political insights and commentary out there.

It’s Chuseok day in the city

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy Chuseok.

It’s a strange time of year for sure. Seoul is actually quiet–no horns, no loudspeakers hawking goods from trucks, and no traffic. Not that I have anywhere to drive to anyway, but the change of pace is nice just the same.

No work today as Chuseok is one of two Korean holidays USFK recognizes for its US employees. It is also a glorious fall day. Went out on the balcony this morning and grilled up a steak, made some scrambled eggs (with salsa), toast and jam, OJ and coffee. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Nolan is still sleeping, don’t know what time he rolled in last night. Arianna is sleeping on the couch. Not sure what’s up with those two but they seem to get along and I’m guessing they both like having someone to hang with to keep homesickness at bay.

This evening Dolce Vita is having a Chusok party seeing as how most of us migooks are without family to be with on this day of days for families. I’m giving YJ some smoked salmon as a Chuseok gift. I’m also bringing some shrimp and will be baking some brownies to take as well.

Later I’m meeting my boss and her husband to give them a tour of Itaewon. It’s probably a good time to do that since it won’t be as rowdy as usual (I hope). Figure I’ll take them by Dolce for a drink, then over to 3 Alley Pub for dinner, and since they both like country music I’m sure we will hit Grand Ole Opry before the night is through.

And that’s about all from the land of the morning calm. And damn, it actually is calm this morning. I like that.

4 Non Blondes

Nope, not a post about the singing group, just thought using that title for this post would be more interesting than “what’s going on”. Clever eh?

UPDATE: My usual boring drivel follows, but if you scroll down I have some pretty cool pictures to look at.

Yes, as I have been reminded several times it has been quite some time since my last post. You haven’t missed much. Long time readers probably know that when I take an unannounced hiatus I’m usually in some kind of funk or another and these past couple of weeks have been no exception. Not to worry, its no big deal. Just had to overcome some disappointment but I’m well on my way to regaining perspective and getting on with the business of life. Such as it is.

Actually, as mundane as things have been I don’t really have much to complain about. But I also have precious little to say that is blog worthy. Never having let that stop me before I will share what’s going on:

Nanta. A great show, in fact one of the most fun things I’ve done in awhile. Hard to describe really. Lots of percussion, but very creative use of kitchen utensils. Funny storyline, great acting and just flat out entertaining. I would go again and I highly recommend it.

Darts. I bought some fancy new darts and I’ve been throwing them well. Our team remains in first place. I’m holding on to my #5 ranking in “B” division. And I’m being asked about playing in “A” division next season. I’d only do that if Dolce Vita fields an “A” league team. I want to keep having fun and Dolce is where my bar loyalty resides.

Fantasy Football. My team, Itaewon Sweet Life, remains undefeated through week four. As much luck as anything because I’m not scoring many points, just more than my opponents. Having fun with it though.

Saturday night/Sunday morning. It’s not news that I spend my weekends throwing darts and drinking beer, sometimes doing both to excess. No exception this past weekend. My big blogable event was a couple of things I witnessed in Itaewon. After the darts tournament at Blue Frog (since the outcome was so disappointing I will not mention it here) I’m walking over to Dolce. I observed 4 people getting in a cab. One up front, three in the back. Well, two in the back and one half way in. And the cab took off. The poor SOB that had one leg in the cab and one on the street is screaming “wait! wait! wait! The cabbie either didn’t hear or didn’t understand English because he kept accelerating. Of course, the guy couldn’t run on one leg as fast as the cab was moving and he tumbled into the street and rolled over a few times before coming to a stop in the middle of the street. Where he lay moaning loudly. The cab finally stopped and his friends ran over to offer assistance. After a few minutes they got the guy up on his feet and he appeared to be mostly ok (at least no broken bones). The cabbie stood there looking sheepish while his passengers berated him with “what were you thinking?” I moved on. I guess the lesson learned is don’t be the last one in the cab.

The other incident occurred at the end of a LONG night out. I’m walking home in the wee hours of Sunday morning. In the narrow alley behind my apartment I see a body laying right in the middle of the road. As I got closer I saw that it was a western woman. I bent down and said “hey, you need to get up!” She kinda moaned and said “no, I’m ok”. I told her “you can’t sleep here, you’ll get run over by a car”. She didn’t respond, so I told her sternly “you have to get up” and grabbed her hand and tried to pull her to her feet. She didn’t resist and said “I drank too much tonight”. No duh I thought to myself. I noticed her accent and asked if she was Australian. She said “I’m from New Zealand”. I noticed she was bleeding on her forehead and chin, but she had no recollection of what happened. I asked if she lived nearby and she said yes so I told her I would help her get home. She lived down a small alley a couple of blocks from my place. She kept thanking me for helping her and I told her we all have to take care of each other here. As we got close she repeatedly said “oh, my husband is going to be so mad at me”. Which of course I wanted no part of, so once she assured me she could make it the rest of the way, I retreated.

Ok, so not much meat to those bookends of my night but that is basically the most excitement I have had in awhile. Save your sympathy, I’m not sure how much excitement I can stand these days anyway.

As for work, well we are busy. There will be some announcement coming next week on the future of 8th Army in Korea. No inside scoop, but I think we all see the writing on the wall. I’ll just say Aloha. Couple that with the pending wartime command and control decision and I have to believe this is the beginning of end for significant U.S. ground troop presence in the ROK. We shall see.

We recently had the Civilian Employee of the Year ceremony here at Yongsan. It’s a really big deal, with the Honor Guard, 8th Army band and all that pomp and circumstance. GEN Bell is the host. My office is responsible for making it happen every year and its a lot of work. And you absolutely cannot screw up any aspect given its high profile. This year was especially nice because one of my employees, Mr. Kim, Yong-tae, was selected as the Korean Manager of the Year. Well deserved and it was great to see him recognized for his many accomplishments and dedication. Here’s some photos:

The band enters the parade ground


Color guard front and center


GEN Bell and CSM Wheeler escorted to the review stand

The ceremony begins with the presentation of colors

And then the presentation of awards to the Civilians of the Year. That’s my Mr. Kim being honored by GEN Bell.


GEN Bell had some very nice words regarding the importance of our US and ROK civilian workforce to mission accomplishment here in Korea.


GEN Bell asked Mr. Kim to stand and then he publically thanked him for his 53 years of service with USFK.


LTG Valcourt, Commader, 8th US Army, and his ROK Army couterparts.

The 2006 Civilians of the Year. As GEN Bell said, they are truly the best of the best.


The Honor Guard passes in review…


…while the band plays the songs of the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Army.


Mr. Kim, Yong-tae, the most amazing man I have met and been honored to work with in nearly 30 years of government service.


The proud team of the Directorate of Human Resources Management. And Nolan.

Ok, well that’s that. Nolan’s doing well, just need to get him that job so he can move forward with his life here. It looks like he’s settled on the German girl he met, although he admits its sorta ironic to move to Korea and date a European.

So I guess to end this post on the same theme it started I’ll say: Hey yay yay yay, hey yay yay yay [that’s] what’s going on….