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.

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?

“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

 

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.

 

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'”.

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.

 

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.

 

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.