Winding it down…


One week left to go in this segment of my Korean life.  It’s been a nice stay.  Reconnected with some good friends, ate lots of good Korean food, had a great time playing darts, and drank plenty of OB beer.

Still on tap is a big dart tourney on Saturday, the dart league championship on Monday, and I reckon we’ll slip in a few more grilled meat meals between now and Incheon.

One of my accomplishments, if you can call it that, has been to finally accept and embrace this life of unemployment.  It’s been 18 months since retirement and I’ve struggled to find meaning and purpose in my life.  I still haven’t found any, but I’m embracing the freedom of workin’ at nothing all day.

I also wanted to get my dart game back and I’ve pretty much done that.  I wound up ranked 5th in “B” division, which I suppose is just about right given my general inconsistency.  I’ve hit some good marks, including a couple ton-80s, and won 2 of every 3 legs I threw, so yeah, I’m satisfied.

It’s always sad to leave this country I’ve come to love, but I’m also looking forward to a taste of my American life, which includes my kids and grandchildren.   Not to mention on-demand television.

It’s interesting to live part time in two countries.  It’s also easy to feel like you are always in between two lives, never quite being a part of either.  I’m working on that though.

Another one bites the dust

Ride it In moves to the championship round of the Seoul International Dart League “B” division playoffs with last night’s hard fought victory over the Blue Bulls.

The final score was 13-6, but the match was closer than that score might indicate.  Singles was a dog fight, but we managed to scratch out a 7-5 lead going into doubles.  The games were all close in the first round of doubles, but we won five of six, and it was pretty much over after that.

Next week we will meet the winner of Scrooge Pub and Gecko’s.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and here’s a little Queen.

Monkeying around

Got this bit of wisdom via email today:

If you start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage, hang
a banana on a string from the top and then you place a set of stairs under
the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the
banana.As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray all the other monkeys with cold

After a while another monkey makes an attempt with same result … all the
other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey
tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put the cold water away.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs.To his
shock, all of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another
attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new
one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes
part in the punishment…… with enthusiasm, because he is now part of the
Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the
fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he
is attacked.
Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not
permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are
participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
Finally, having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining
monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one
of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana. Why, you ask?
Because in their minds…that is the way it has always been!
This, my friends, is how Congress operates…and this is why, from time to
time, ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME.

Remembering Private First Class Frank D. Foltz


My Great Uncle Frank occupies the small piece of ground in Hamm, Luxembourg pictured above. He was the brother of my Grandmother Pernie, and she spoke about him frequently enough when I was growing up that I still recall his story. My brother Keith who is the keeper of family history also reminded me of a few details of Uncle Frank’s life.

Frank Daniel Foltz was born on the family farm in Goltry, Oklahoma on August 25, 1910. He was the youngest son and the 11th child of John and Mary Foltz. He was just a little more than six years old when his mother died, but by all accounts, he grew up to be a fine man. Handsome and good natured, he was a star athlete in high school, especially in baseball.

Frank was married with a young son and working as a Railway Mail Clerk when he was drafted into the Army in 1944. He was trained as a mechanic and shipped out to England in December of 1944. When General George S. Patton was making his great push into Germany he called for “men, more men, more men!”. Frank was deployed to the 3rd Army as a replacement and on March 3, 1945 was killed by a German sniper, just a few short weeks before the war was to end.

Grandma Pernie was a good Christian woman with love in heart and forgiveness for all–except she could never quite bring herself to forgive “Blood and Guts” Patton. As she was wont to say–“Patton’s guts, Frank’s blood”. Of course, this was unfair, soldiers in war get killed, that’s just the way it is. Frank was just unlucky. He had been deferred from the draft for most of the war because of his job and child. When manpower shortages necessitated expanding the draft, he was taken at the relatively old age of 34 (the maximum was 38). But mostly I think he was unlucky because he had the misfortune of being a “replacement” troop, a group that suffered a notoriously high casualty rate.  As Army historian Rich Anderson noted:

“At the other end of the replacement pipeline, replacements were trained by replacement centers (or stripped from divisions), shipped as anonymous replacement increments to a theater of war, and held at the repple-depple until needed by units. These men were military orphans with little esprit de corps and no cohesion. Many thought of themselves as replaceable parts in the giant army “machine,” or as rounds of ammunition. The sole virtue of this system was that it allowed divisions to stay in near continuous combat for days on end, theoretically without eroding their numerical strength. As casualties left, replacements came in. However, the reality became that replacements came in, and with no combat experience and no one in their new unit looking out for them (the “I don’t know him and don’t want to know him, he’s only gonna be a casualty” syndrome), they quickly became casualties.”

So, that’s Uncle Frank’s story. Just one of the 416,800 Americans killed in action during World War II. But on this day we set aside to remember all the men and women who have answered the call to duty and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation, I wanted to honor his memory.

Thank you for your service.

And he’s one more arrow, flying through the air

One more arrow landing in a shady spot somewhere

Where the days and nights blend into one

And he can always feel the sun

Through the soft brown earth that holds him

Forever always young.

Brett Kimberlin: Domestic terrorist

In 1978 Brett Kimberlin, aka The Speedway Bomber, set off several bombs in and around Speedway, Indiana.  He was convicted for his felonious activity and served time in Federal prison.

But the sad fact is, Kimberlin doesn’t want you to know about his criminal history.  Several bloggers who have done so have been subjected to various forms of legal intimidation, harassment,  and threats.  Some have reportedly lost their jobs, another found it necessary to change his state of residence in order to ensure the safety of his family.

You can get lots of background on what Kimberlin has been up to since leaving prison here.  You might also want to watch a YouTube video telling the story of Kimberlin’s exploits.

So, today has been designated for a “blogburst” wherein bloggers large and small stand together to tell Kimberlin we will not be intimated.  This is a classic example of why we need to stand up and defend our First Amendment rights.

Ace of Spades said it better than I can:

“Either Americans have the right to state that Kimberlin was convicted of the Speedway Bombing Spree or they do not.

If I no longer have this right, I would like Congress to pass a law stating that I no longer have this right. If we’re repealing the First Amendment, let’s make it official.

If, on the other hand, I retain this right, I would like members of Congress to reassure me on this point, by stating so on the floor of Congress, and entering the long and sordid history of Brett Kimberlin, aka the Speedway Bomber, into the Congressional Record.

And then let him try to claim that no one is permitted to mention this.”

You set off bombs in an American city, you are a terrorist.  You go after people who note your criminal past, you are an asshole.  Them’s the facts.  Deal with it.

UPDATE:  How bad is it?  This bad.

UPDATE 2:  I keep good company, apparently.  Here’s a list of blogs that have exposed Kimberlin.

UPDATE 3:  And the hits just keep on comin’!

Slam dunk

Or the equivalent in darts.

First round in the playoffs last night saw Ride it In from Dolce Vita take out Dillinger’s 13-5.  The playoff format is the first team to take 13 legs wins the match.  We came out of the singles round up 10-2 and there was really no stopping us after that.

The Dillinger’s folks are a good bunch of fellas and we had some laughs along the road to victory.  YJ treated both teams to a round of shots after the match which is always a nice touch.

Onward and upward in week two is our plan.

The steaks are high…


…but they are tasty!

Dined at the Tabom Brazil, a Brazilian steak house in Itaewon the other day.  It’s like a South American barbecue, with the meat cooked on skewers, rotisserie style.  The bring various cuts of meat, seven in all, including beef, chicken, and pork.  Hell, they even brought out some pineapple on a skewer.  It was all quite delicious.  Best thing of all, it’s all you can eat and they keep bringing it around until you beg for mercy.

It’s relatively pricey, at about W30,000 each.  But we had a nice table overlooking the street and we left stuffed and satisfied.  I’d call that good value for the money.

Trivial pursuit


Not the board game, the bar game.  Yes, it was trivia night at Bless U Pub and I participated.  Now, I am by no means a trivia buff and to be perfectly honest I’m not particularly a fan of these contests.  Suffice to say, there are other things I prefer to do in a bar and I would normally not even make an appearance on Trivia Night.

But last night I encountered a last minute cancellation of a planned dinner at a Brazilian steak house in Itaewon.  So plan B lead me to Bless U.

I imagine most folks are more familiar with the in’s and out’s of trivia gaming than I am.  This Bless U version was decidedly low tech.  Basically,  you’ve got an MC reading questions and teams of players reaching agreement on an answer and writing that answer on a score sheet.  These were last night’s categories:

1. This land is your land, this land is my land
2. Tarantino
3. Before they went solo
4. The Olympics
5. Acronyms

Some of the questions were pretty difficult–for example, naming the five countries that currently have laid claim to land in Antarctica.  Others were pretty easy like in which current state is the Hopi nation located.  I enjoy Tarantino films, but I had no idea what “The Bride’s” real name in Kill Bill was, nor did I know the combination of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.  With the combined knowledge of my teammates, we managed to do pretty well with the Olympics and Acronym categories, although we couldn’t remember what the second “A” in NAACP stood for, even though it was pretty obvious after hearing the answer.  I hate when that happens.

Anyway, I excelled in the “Before they went solo” category, knowing such tidbits as Kenny Rogers was with The First Edition and Linda Ronstadt played with the Stone Poneys.  The MC was very surprised we knew those answers and one of my teammates, bless her heart, shouted out “that’s why we have an old guy on our team!”.  Ah well.

I also knew that Rod Stewart and Ron Wood had played together in the Jeff Beck Group.  The MC insisted the correct answer was Faces.  Which is just as correct as the answer we gave.  After the contest was done, we looked it up on the internet and showed that Jeff Beck was also a correct answer.  To his credit, the MC gave us the points.

So, when it was all said and done we were good enough for second place.  Our prize was two free pitchers of beer,  Of course, I was pretty much beered out by then and needed to catch the subway home, but it was nice to do well regardless.  We gave one of the pitchers to a non-winning team for their creative answer on what the M-G-M acronym stood for.  They said “lions and tigers and bears”, which was pretty funny when you think about it.  Our maybe it was just funny to us.

Anyway, I wound up having a good time and as a bonus got some material for this blog post.  I’d call that a win-win situation.

Peace out.

Bully pulpit


I’ve mostly been confining my political rants to Facebook, but a recent issue had a (slight) Korean angle, so I’m going to run with it here at LTG.

It starts with the Washington Post running an expose hit piece on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  Yes, the paper that brought you Watergate used all the powers of investigative reporting to discover that Romney may have been a bit of a prick.  In 1965.  In high school.

The other night at darts, a friend’s Korean wife who is just about as apolitical as you can be, expressed outrage that anyone could be held accountable for adolescent behavior occurring half a century in the past.  Her husband, who doesn’t like to talk politics but leans well to the left, was equally nonplussed, saying “That is just wrong.  If people are going to be judged based on how they acted in high school, no one will be qualified to be president.”

Of course, their anger at this smear job is understandable.  They have the good fortune to be living in Korea where they are not subjected to “news” stories that read like press releases from the Democratic National Committee on a daily basis.  Otherwise they might not have been so surprised at just how low the Fourth Estate has fallen.  The press cannot fulfill its historical watchdog role when it is in the tank for the party in power.  Jennifer Rubin, the token conservative blogger at the Post, has a nice column up showing just how one sided “reporting” has become.

What always gets to me though is the blatant hypocrisy.  It was just days ago that presidential adviser David Axlerod was making the rounds saying how outrageous it was for Obama to be criticized for eating dog.  After all, Axlerod reminded us, he was just a child.

But it is worse than that really.  See, it turns out that Obama has some bullying in his past to account for as well.  In his so called autobiography Dreams of my Father, Obama recounts how he shoved a girl because he was being teased by his classmates that he was her boyfriend.  Hey, I’m all in favor of what happens on the playground, stays on the playground.  But it’s got to cut both ways.  That’s just basic fairness.

Anyway, the latest attempt to demonize Romney was not particularly well received.  Even the leftist left leaning Time magazine felt compelled to offer a lukewarm defense of Romney, noting that Obama wasn’t disqualified from office based on his admitted pot-smoking, coke-snorting past.

Anyway, I think bullying is bad and wrong and that it has been a part of the socialization of children since the beginning of time.  So I’m not attempting to condone the behavior of either man when I say that of the two, Obama comes off worse in my view.  It sounds like Romney was a smart ass instigator.  Obama was pushed into his abusive behavior by peer pressure.  To the extent it matters (and of course, it doesn’t), I know who I would rather see as the leader of the free world.

In the end the Post failed in its attempt to change focus from the abysmal Obama economy to Romney’s alleged bad character as a high school boy.  You can’t really blame them for trying, because after four years of utter destruction, Obama has nothing else to run on.

UPDATE: A musical accompaniment.

Parent’s Day


Today is Parent’s Day in Korea.  If you still have living parents, tell them you love them and give them a big hug.  Sure wish I could.

We took Jee Yeun’s father to the chicken hof this afternoon.  Drank beer and ate chicken Korean style.  Jee Yeun’s mom is visiting family “in the countryside” so she missed out.  Dad seemed happy with his white envelope.  Hell, who wouldn’t be?  It’s the perfect gift.

Jee Yeun’s daughter and boyfriend gave me a very nice box of goodies.  Chock full of all the treats and snacks they witnessed me devouring these past few months.  It was very thoughtful of them and much appreciated.

And that’s about all I’ve got say on the topic.  Cheers!

Aye, aye, aye

Eye, eye, eye.

I, I, I.

Immigration, Immigration, Insa-dong.

Started at the U.S. Embassy.  Told them I was an American in distress.  Explained the visa issues I’m having with Jee Yeun.  Told me they couldn’t help with that and suggested I go around the corner and talk to the Immigration Service.  Asked if I needed an appointment, was told “don’t know, not my department”.

Talked my way in to immigration and had the good fortune (or maybe misfortune, depending on the outcome) of talking to the agent who had denied Jee Yeun’s tourist visa application last year.  She has subsequently resubmitted with additional documentation.  It’s been over two weeks.  The agent said, “oh yeah, I’ve got that, just haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.”  He assured us he’d get right on it.

I said I didn’t want there to be any confusion because I had applied for a fiancee visa in January and still had not heard a word.  I didn’t want to create the appearance that we were trying to game the system.  We just want Jee Yeun to be able to visit the USA while the fiancee visa is pending.  He said he’d check on that too.

So, we’ll see.  Jee Yeun says she has a “good feeling”.  I, being wiser to the byzantine ways of government, am not to sure.

We left the embassy and cabbed to the Korean immigration office in Jongno where I got my passport stamped “extending my sojourn” in Korea through June 7.

Being as how it was now a little after 3:00 and our dinner engagement in Itaewon wasn’t until 5:30, we were in a bit of a “no man’s land” kind of bind.  Not really enough time to retreat back to our Gireum abode, far too early to start drinking in the ‘twon.  So, we hiked over to Insa-dong for a look around.

Jee Yeun professed hunger so we found a place where she could snack on mandu.  Then upstairs for some coffee and people watching.  I hadn’t accurately calculated the traffic our bus would encounter on the short trip to Itaewon, so we turned up a few minutes late for dinner.

And that is my tale of the I’s.

What’s for breakfast?


Well, when I’m fending for myself a nice bowl of breakfast cereal is always quick and easy.  And if Flion the Lion gives them a paw thumbs up, it must be good, right?  Of course Post is a trusted name in the cereal field and if Tony the Tiger can shill for rival Kellogg’s, then I have no problem with Flion the Lion.

But what exactly is it that I just ate?  Ah, the side panel has a handy English translation:


But of course, Corn Flight!  I should have guessed it.  Except I’ve never enjoyed Corn Flight before.  You might say it carried me to new heights.  I’m sure this flavor is bound to really take off!  Why don’t the airlines serve this on those long trips across the Pacific?  But enough of these corny puns, I’ve flown high enough already.

In other news, you gotta love the naming conventions here in Korea.  Take the convenience stores you find in the railway stations:


Why no one ever thought to name a store “StoryWay” before is beyond me. Although you won’t find any books in the Story store, they do have magazines.  But once you come up with the perfect name for your store, you really need a catchy motto so no one is confused about what you have to offer.  “Smile, Smart, Speed” certainly brings three totally unrelated “s” words together nicely, don’t you think?

English can be a dangerous thing I suppose.

Finally, if you are like me you’ve been wondering whatever happened to those Blue Man dudes.  Well, I found one of them alive and well up Uijongbu way.  Er, not so much alive I guess, but immortalized anyway.


And there you have it ladies and gentlemen.  Is there any reason not to love this country?

17-8 or 25 the GS store?

Ah, I couldn’t resist riffing on this classic rock anthem from Chicago.  Still sounds great 35 years later, doesn’t it?

Last night we dethroned the reigning B division champions, Gecko’s Jeckels by the score of 17-8.  There is still one week left in the regular season but through the magic of mathematics we have clinched the title.

After several celebratory shots and fawning praise from our beloved team Captain Bridget, Jee Yeun and I took the late night bus ride back to Gireum-dong.  And lo and behold we discovered Jee Yeun’s daughter and boyfriend dining Korean-style outside the GS-25 convenience store.

So, Jee Yeun bought a bucket of noodles and I bought some dried squid and imitation crab meat with a beer chaser and we joined them at the table.  I felt so Korean!  Except that I couldn’t follow much of the conversation.

It was a great finish to the evening anyway.  Today is a national holiday here (Labor Day) so most folks aren’t working.  Jee Yeun has some adventure planned but I am still not clear exactly what that will entail.  The camera is ready so check back for more fascinating details tomorrow.


All Hail the B Division Champions from Pub Dolce Vita–Ride it In!