What a long strange trip it’s been

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 2524 23 22 2120 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 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.)

Two years ago found me reflecting back on the journey we call life, or in this case my life in government servitude service.  I wrote about it in a post called “A working class hero is something to be”. 

Nothing much to add to my original thinking back then, although I had no inkling that a couple of years later I’d be rejoining the workforce.  Fact is, I’m actually quite happy to be back in the saddle.  Rather, it’s about the people.  I enjoy the hell out of my co-workers and bosses.  I especially appreciate the intellectual stimulation of engaging in actual conversations.  And on occasion I find the work itself to be a source of satisfaction, if not pride.  It’s different not being the boss, but different in a good way too.  I’m sorta the elder statesman around the office which is kinda cool. I also quite like getting paid every two weeks.

Die Aria!

I was attacked in my sleep Thursday night. The battle raged from 0200-0300. I was unable to digest why it was happening and was in danger of being completely liquefied. I retreated from the bedroom and eventually purged the intruder. When I awoke a few hours later I found myself on more solid ground. I’m just glad the attack didn’t occur on the subway or I would have been in deep doo-doo.

Ahem.

What else?  Well, our Deputy Director is heading back to the states next week so I and some co-workers treated him to some adult beverages at Shenanigans in order to properly celebrate his departure.  He seemed to enjoy himself.  I managed to stay conscious for the bus ride home (and it was touch and go) before passing out on the bed immediately upon arrival.  Ah, those Friday nights in Itaewon.

Found this map of Columbia which will help me find my way around town during next month’s visit.

My neighborhood is off the page, just past the top right corner. Not sure what politically incorrect term I'd use to describe it, but it's a pretty diverse collection of folks either just starting out or old fuckers like me just trying to get by...

My neighborhood is off the page, just past the top right corner. Not sure what politically incorrect term I’d use to describe it, but it’s a pretty diverse collection of folks either just starting out or old fuckers like me just trying to get by…

If you missed Hillary’s testimony before the Benghazi committee, it went something like this:

We can't handle the truth. Apparently.

We can’t handle the truth. Apparently.

I’d actually met him back in 2013 in Las Vegas. He’s a friend of a friend who was playing in big tournament there and he came to just hang out.  Didn’t know if he’d remember me, turns out he did.  So, that was kind of nice.

And that’s all she wrote.  Well, all I wrote anyway.  Till next time.

Teaching English and disappointing my mother

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 2524 23 22 2120 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 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 wrote about a Korean gal on my pool league team who would work on her English between matches.  On this night she came up to me and in all sincerity asked me the meaning of the word “sodomy”.  Which was the title of that particular post.

As I wrote at the time:

“June” (I don’t know her Korean name, if I asked I’ve forgotten it) is always working on her vocabulary and brings a notebook with words she is learning to the pool league every week. Between games she will ask us the pronunciation and meaning of the words on her list, which she then dutifully writes down in Hanguel. Last night’s words included “guise”, “excavation”, “fraternity”, “carte blanche” and several others I can’t recall at the moment. Me and a couple of the guys sitting at the table would use the word in a sentence, try and provide alterantive definitions, and explain when and how the word might be used. After awhile I got up to throw some darts, and June came up and said I have another word on my list and the guys at the table “couldn’t help her with it”. I said, ok, what’s the word? “Sodomy” (imagine it being said with a Korean accent). I just looked at her. The guy I was playing darts with cracked up and said “go ahead, John. Tell her”.

Her innocence was charming as she waited expectantly for my answer. And my reaction was funny. I am by no means a prude and I don’t think I have any sexual hang-ups, but geez, telling this sweet young woman about sodomy was not as easy as you might imagine. So I fumbled and stumbled, and she wasn’t quite getting it. So, I just described the act. She laughed and said, “oh, something homosexuals do”. I smiled and said yes, but not just homosexuals. And no, I did not give her the slang term for the act. She can find a boyfriend to do that. Anyway, when I mentioned the Biblical origins of the word, she was familiar with the story and we thankfully moved on to other words.

Anyway, that was the highlight of that particular evening.  Things haven’t improved much since then, eh?

There was only one comment to that post (which made it above average I suppose).  And that was from my mother.  She said: “Great to read your blogs again…..Answer my emails when you are bored…..love MOM”

Sorry mom for being such a selfish bastard.  Nothing would please me more than to answer the emails that will never come again.

Let’s get organized

Today we had an organization day at work.  Which is perhaps best defined in this instance as having a cookout in the little park-like area in front of our office building.

Menu featured steak, brats, burgers, various side dishes, and pie (pecan and pumpkin).  It turned out pretty damn fine all and all.  And I’ve got the photos to prove it.

Mr. Kang kept a close watch on the steaks until they were grilled to perfection. All we had was plastic cutlery, be we managed to cut the meat into tasty morsels anyway...

Mr. Kang kept a close watch on the steaks until they were grilled to perfection. All we had was plastic cutlery, be we managed to cut the meat into tasty morsels anyway…

Leb was our other chef, he's pictured here enjoying the fruits of his labor...

Leb was our other chef, he’s pictured here enjoying the fruits of his labor…

Some of our merry troupe...

Some of our merry troupe…

And some more of them...

And some more of them…

The boss capturing his own memories. That's our building in the background...

The boss capturing his own memories. That’s our building in the background…

After our longish luncheon, it was back to work.  Upon which I discovered that my computer was malfunctioning.  The mouse was non-functional for one thing which prevented me from going through the log-in procedures required to access the network.  I unplugged and re-plugged the mouse.  No dice.  I rebooted to no effect, so I rebooted again.  Still stuck on the log-in screen I called over our IT guy, Mr. Kang.  In short order he discovered the problem:

Someone had taped this over the light on the bottom of my mouse. Yep, I'd been pranked big time. It didn't take much sleuthing to identify the culprit. I've been considering the best avenues for revenge and I do believe I have a plan. It involves spiders...

Someone had taped this over the light on the bottom of my mouse. Yep, I’d been pranked big time. It didn’t take much sleuthing to identify the culprit. I’ve been considering the best avenues for revenge and I do believe I have a plan. It involves spiders…

In other news, on Sunday I traveled down Osan way for one of our periodic grudge matches against the Songtan Darts Association.  Sadly, I forget to pack my game and turned in a pretty embarrassing performance.

We traveled down in style on this rented bus. The ride back was much more drunken...

We traveled down in style on this rented bus. The ride back was much more drunken…

We broke into four teams and played head-to-head. In the end, we kissed our sister. Two of our teams won their matches, as did two of theirs. We will reconvene next month in Itaewon and try and break the tie.

We broke into four teams and played head-to-head. In the end, we kissed our sister. Two of our teams won their matches, as did two of theirs. We will reconvene next month in Itaewon and try and break the tie.

Songtan and Itaewon players in attendance. The Songtan bunch were great hosts and kept it fun and easy.

Songtan and Itaewon players in attendance. The Songtan bunch were great hosts and kept it fun and easy.  I’m the old fucker way in the back.

One final anecdote.  Today I sent an email to a co-worker that went something like this:

Ms. Yi:  Here’s is an example of a hearing summary I drafted.  I used Mr. Yi’s minutes from a previous hearing.  If you want to compare, perhaps Ms. Yi can supply you a copy of Mr. Yi’s work.

Hell, the damn thing confused me and I wrote it.  I read it out loud to my cubicle mate (a Korean who is one of the few on our staff not named Yi) and she laughed her ass off.  I went back and added first names to make my meaning clearer.

Ah well, all in a days work.

 

 

There is no point in engaging in political debate…

…on social media or blogs for that matter.  It’s not just that you are unlikely to ever change anyone’s mind, What I find most frustrating is the inherent dishonesty in the discourse.  So I pretty much just ignore the bullshit I see posted on a daily basis because responding is just not worth the aggravation.  Sometimes I’ll shake my head in sadness at the rantings of folks I know to be otherwise rational and intelligent human beings before scrolling on.  I do wonder why if they feel so strongly about an issue they resort to some mindless internet meme to make their point.  I guess it is easier to erect straw man arguments than to actually address the facts of the matter.

A case in point.  The other day a Facebook friend posted this:

No reasonable person on either side of the debate has said that Obama has actually confiscated guns, nor do I believe the President has ever articulated such a goal. But rather than debate how new restrictions on gun ownership might (or might not) stop random acts of violence by crazy people, the poster reduces folks who hold contrary viewpoints as ignorant. Which in my view is a pretty ignorant thing to do.

No reasonable person on either side of the debate has said that Obama has actually confiscated guns, nor do I believe the President has ever articulated such a goal. But rather than debate how new restrictions on gun ownership might (or might not) stop random acts of violence by crazy people, the poster attempts to portray folks who hold contrary viewpoints as ignorant. Which in my view is a pretty ignorant thing to do.

As I say, I usually just regard posts like this as unserious and unworthy of response. I did that in this case until the poster wrote this in the comments:

And most people that are for guns are generally not very educated in most everything else.

One of the things I dislike most about arguing with folks on the left is that they tend to envelope themselves with a belief in their intellectual superiority.  I mean, obviously if you don’t acknowledge the rightness of their position you must stupid.  And so I left this reply:

Seriously? Wow. I take it that disagreeing with your world view is evidence of ignorance. I almost never engage these debates because it is pointless. Because obviously, I’m stupid.

And he doubled down in his response:

I just go off statistics John. Most people that support gun rights tend to lean right and those people are GENERALLY less informed. If you took it personally that was not my intention. Obviously there’s exceptions to every rule. Do your homework & you’ll discover evidence to support what I said, unless you want me to do it for you

I’d said all I needed to say and the above response told me all I needed to know about where this friend was coming from.  Further engagement would be pointless.  I do love the part where I’m supposed to do my “homework” to support his argument.  That’s not the way debate works in the real world.  If you are going to shovel bullshit and tell me it smells good, it’s on you to supply the evidence to support that claim.

For what it is worth, I did spend some time reading about a disputed, if not discredited, study that purportedly found conservatives are less intelligent than liberals.  But as fair minded people have said in response, it all comes down to how you define liberal and conservative:

In fact there is nothing new in pointing to a link between social attitudes and intelligence. In 2010 the evolutionary psychologist Satochi Kanazawa, who works at the London School of Economics, analysed data from 20,000 young Americans and found that average IQ increased steadily from those who described themselves as ‘very conservative’ to those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal’. A study looking at British children, carried out by Ian Deary, reached a conclusion neatly summarised by the title of the paper: ‘Bright Children become Enlightened Adults’. Other studies have found correlations between strong religiosity (a traditional marker of conservatism) and low intelligence.

 

So case closed? Not really. The problem here is how we define ‘left’ and ‘right’ thinking, what this means socially and politically. A moment’s thought shows that the faultlines are not only blurred but they are legion, cris-crossing across traditional political strata and have changed through time.

 

But there is another side to what the Smarts believe. They are pro-immigration (immigration being a form of free trade, in this case in human labour). They are impeccably socially liberal. They do not care what consenting adults get up to in bed and would legalise gay marriage without a thought. They are as near as is possible to be colour blind and strongly favour sexual equality. They are internationalist and despise petty nationalism. And they are suspicious of the war on drugs and in fact of wars in general and do not believe the public should in general be allowed to own firearms. These are the social views, then, of the British metropolitan Left. So what is it then? Are dim people right or left? Here we meet the problem of defining liberalism and left-wingery.

 

A belief in economic redistribution of wealth does not correlate with social liberalism. The nations of the Cold War Communist bloc were ferociously ‘Left Wing’ in terms of a belief in statism, nationalised industries, basic equality and so forth but socially and in other ways they were far, far to the ‘right’ of any mainstream European or American party. The Soviet education system was brutally elitist – no wishy-washy mixed-ability nonsense there. Militarism and conscription were the norm. Communist states had and had an attachment to capital punishment, repression of homosexuals and paid only lipservice to sexual equality (Russian women were free to work, but they had to go back and do the cleaning and cooking when they had finished).

In today’s world the most ‘right wing’ attitudes are to be found not in the American Bible Belt but in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and parts of Asia as well as Russia. Across most of Africa the majority has an eye-wateringly brutal view of homosexuality (gays face long terms of imprisonment or worse in many southern and eastern African states). If you want to see robust attitudes to crime, sexuality, feminism, immigration and religious freedom go to somewhere like Sudan or Mauritania, Uganda or even Kenya and Jamaica.

 

The paradox is that the political discourse in nations such as these has been dominated by a leftish post-colonialism. The epitome of this paradox is, or was (attitudes have relaxed) Communist Cuba where attitudes to gays, criminals, and people of non-European descent would have softened the heart of a Mississippi Klansman.

I consider myself a classic liberal with strong libertarian leanings.  Which means I’m all about limiting government power and intrusions on our liberty.  Including our right to keep and bear arms.

 

 

When I get a Round Tuit

blog

Had in mind to blog this morning about politics.  Then I couldn’t be bothered.  Tomorrow I’ll be heading down Songtan way to represent the Itaewon dart league against those Osan boys.  We rented us a bus for the trip so it oughta be relatively hassle free.

And that’s all I got for now.  Unless you want to hear about the chili I’m cooking.  Didn’t think so.

And there it is.

And there it is.

About a lucky man who made the grade

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 2524 23 22 2120 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 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.)

Things are going reasonably well in my life, or at least fair to middling.  Not so much a year ago though, if  “I read the news today, oh boy” is any indication.  Nothing like a  reminder of sadder times to give you a little perspective I suppose.

Anyway, my Korean life may be at times every bit as boring, but the beer is better here. So there’s that.

Go East old man

This weekend produced a rare confluence of events–I had no scheduled dart match on Sunday and a holiday from work today.  So, the wife said let’s go to the sea.  The East Sea to be precise.  And so we loaded up the hooptie and headed down the highway for Gangnuem.

Just like Columbus I managed to get lost a time or two trying to get out of Seoul.  Once I got on the proper expressway I inadvertently drove through the “speed pass” gate at the toll booth.   I don’t have a Speed Pass but there were no bells, whistles, or sirens so I figured I was home free.  Until we reached the toll gate at the other end of the expressway and I didn’t have a ticket to present showing where I’d entered.  We got sent to the office where they took my name and license plate number, charged me the W12,000 toll, and said if it happened again the toll would be doubled.  Suffice to say I didn’t make that mistake on the return trip.

Jee Yeun scored us an ocean view room for a mere W50,000

Jee Yeun scored us an ocean view room for a mere W50,000

Even the shower had a view.  I duly noted the view worked both ways...

Even the shower had a view. I duly noted the view worked both ways…

The sea of Japan East Ocean is pleasant to look at...

The sea of Japan East Ocean is pleasant to enough  look at…

It’s the off-season but after walking a few blocks we found a deserted samgyapsal joint that welcomed their first and probably only customers of the day.  Jee Yeun had a bottle of chunghwa to herself (I had a Cass) and she professed to be feeling na chwi-hae-sseo (drunk).  We made it back to the room without incident and she promptly fell asleep.  I did a little channel surfing on the TV and was asleep an hour or two later.  Yep, us old folks are just chock full of excitement.

Early to bed, early to rise and all that.  Which allowed me to enjoy this sunrise...

Early to bed, early to rise and all that. Which allowed me to enjoy this sunrise…

Shortly thereafter, we headed out to coffee shop a Korean friend had recommended and discovered it was one of the places we had visited on a previous trip...

Shortly thereafter, we headed out to coffee shop a Korean friend had recommended and discovered it was one of the places we had visited on a previous trip…

It's very small, but the outside seating is quite nice.

It’s very small, but the outside seating is quite nice.  And it opens early in the morning!

 

Next trip I'm going to have to try me a buger.  I've got a nose for good food.  That snot a lie...

Next trip I’m going to have to try me a buger. I’ve got a nose for good food. That snot a lie…

You don't live in this country for long before you discover that Koreans are passionate about their coffee...

You don’t live in this country for long before you discover that Koreans are passionate about their coffee…

My car has reached the age of consent in most jurisdictions, but she purred on down the highway like a champ...

My car has reached the age of consent in most jurisdictions, but she purred on down the highway like a champ…

Speaking of the highway, I was cruising along at a pretty good clip taking note of when my GPS warned me of the speed cameras.  I was halfway home before I figured out that those tricky bastards calculate your average speed between the cameras.  I’d never seen that done before.  According to my GPS, my average speed was 105 k/ph, and the speed limit was 100.  Surely I won’t be ticketed for that, right?

I kept thinking there was something fishy about the drive home.  Jee Yeun's souvenir from our trip.

I kept thinking there was something fishy about the drive home. Jee Yeun’s souvenir from our trip.

Anyway, it was good to get out of town and enjoy a change of scenery.

 

 

Book ’em, Dano

It looks like I will be spending Thanksgiving in what’s left of Columbia, SC.  I booked my flight with American Airlines this morning.  Getting there is going to be pretty sweet (well, defining sweet as the least amount of time as possible crammed into a couch seat) as we have a direct ICN-DFW flight.  Just over 17 hours with the connection to CAE.  The return is via Narita and will take 24 hours.  I’ll worry about that discomfort later.

I tried to book on United from work yesterday where I found an incredible fare of $980. For whatever reason the internet connection kept timing out when I tried to pay.  From home this morning the same flight was over $1100 and I couldn’t bring my self to pull the trigger. Instead I cashed in the miles I’ve accumulated on my credit card which paid for one $1300 American ticket and part of the other one.  So I’m one thousand bucks out of pocket for both tickets and not complaining (much).

In other news I beat my arch rival Vidal in darts last night 9-7 and I’m real happy about that.

ROKdrop shared this link to some photos of North Korean women.  I was struck by their natural beauty.  Just last night I was having a conversation with one of the bartenders at Shenanigans about how too many women in southern Korea engage in needless plastic surgery.  Her day job is writing for the fashion industry and she too was distressed about the trend of many Korean females to try and “westernize” their appearance.

There is just something about a traditional Korean look that trips my triggers. Or maybe I'm just old fashioned. Or old.

There is just something about a traditional Korean look that trips my triggers. Or maybe I’m just old fashioned. Or old.

Speaking of old, as part of the above referenced conversation with the bartender we talked about getting older.  She’s all of 28 and already feeling like life is passing her by. Being 60 myself I found it difficult to muster much empathy.  I told her the worst part about being old for me was becoming invisible.  She didn’t get it of course, but what I meant was I’m surrounded by a sea of Korean beauty but to the young and attractive I may as well not exist.

In some countries I'm still a "hansome man". Not so much in Korea.

In some countries I’m still a “hansome man”. Not so much in Korea.

In unrelated news, I awoke to the sound of thunder this morning.

Into each life some rain must fall.

Into each life some rain must fall.

And finally, there’s this:

I'll put this in the category of things can always be worse...

I’ll put this in the category of things can always be worse…

 

Only the lonely

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 2524 23 22 2120 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 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.)

One year ago found me living on my own back in the USA.  I’d been home for a month without the wife and I was not a happy camper.  I wrote about it in a post called “Nada y nada”.

As it turned out Jee Yeun never did come back to me.  So I resolved to come “home” to Korea.  I took a part time job that paid less than ten bucks an hour (and I was worth every penny of it!) but provided me SOFA status.  And from there I was able to maneuver my way back into my old organization at a rate of compensation that should allow me to be debt free when my one year and a day appointment expires next June.  As of now I’m hoping to get extended for at least another year after that.  And then we shall see.

For now I’ll just roll along one day at a time.  Until I run out of days that is.