I never expected that I’d ever be buying a new suit. But a new job and new requirements conspired to make such a purchase inevitable. I’ve learned the hard way not to talk about work here on this humble blog, but I guess it is safe to say I attended a meeting with the U.S. ambassador, to Korea, Mark Lippert, today.
You may recall that Mr. Lippert was attacked by a razor blade wielding assailant last year. As fate would have it, one of the attendees at today’s meeting was also present on the day Mr. Lippert was slashed. According to this gentlemen, he was the third person to restrain the attacker. By his account it was his foot that was placed on the throat of the slasher. You can see a video recreation at the link above if you so desire.
Anyway, no violence at today’s meeting thankfully. Mr. Lippert was *ahem* very diplomatic during the meeting and there were really no surprises, which is the best possible outcome in affairs of this nature. So I left pleased.
Rode over to the embassy with a 2-star general in one of those fancy cars, so that was a treat I suppose. One thing I learned is that I need to get me some business cards made. It seems so 20th century but it was awkward during the introductions when I didn’t have a card to share. Aw well, I’ve had worse occasions of a faux pas I suppose. Next time I’ll be better prepared.
Here’s a random shot from my birthday that I rather like:
My Commie friend Choonae (right front) treated me, my drinking buddy Hae Young (left front) and my yoja chingu to a birthday shot. Yes, I’m lucky. Get over it.
Tomorrow I fly to the Philippines. I guess I should say we, because I’m bringing “sand to the beach”. What the hell. Might as well find out if Eun Oke can handle the lifestyle.
Anyway, it’s all good. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.
Today I commenced my 62nd annual journey around the sun. Wish me luck!
Last year’s journey drew to a close with a surprise breakfast birthday party by my sneaky co-workers…
As tradition dictates, I successfully blew out all the candles on my cake.
I decreed that politeness dictated that I break my diet in the spirit of the occasion. There was no way I was saying no to pecan pie!
Had to go on base Saturday to be fitted for a new suit I’m having made (I guess that makes it a birthday suit!). Eun Oke joined me on that errand and I took her to see my office. I must admit she looks better in the Director’s chair than I do…
Eun Oke bought this nice shirt for my birthday…
And I gifted myself with becoming debt free.
For the birthday meal I made samgyetang for the first time.
Slow cooked for 8 hours.
Eun Oke said it tasted better than her mother’s. I hope that means it was good.
Saturday night we went out to celebrate the B-day at Shenanigans. I had good intentions to keep the alcohol intake at moderate levels. But word got out about it being “my day” and all and people kept buying us shots.
…and things got a little bit blurry after that…
We finished the night at Grand Ole Opry where Eun Oke added this money message to the collection. I asked her if I wasn’t perfect and she said no, but you are “good enough”. Thanks. I think.
All in all it was a special day.
Having company on the weekend has made it hard to get my walking in. Barely managed 15,000 steps both days. I’m going to have to buy Eun Oke some walking shoes soon…
Random songs appropriate for this last Saturday in August.
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain But you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today And then one day you find ten years have got behind you No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking And racing around to come up behind you again The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older And shorter of breath and one day closer to death
The longer I live the more I believe You do have to give if you wanna receive. There’s a time to listen, a time to talk. And you might have to crawl even after you walk. Had sure things blow up in my face, Seen the longshot win the race. Been knocked down by the slammin’ door. Picked myself up and came back for more.
Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know, life’s a dance, you learn as you go.
Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats Too noble to neglect Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect Good and bad, I define these terms Quite clear, no doubt, somehow Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now.
White line fever, a sickness born Down deep within my soul White line fever, the years keep flyin’ by Like the highline poles
The wrinkles in my forehead Show the miles I’ve put behind me They continue to remind how fast I’m growin’ old Guess I’ll die with this fever in my soul
Every time I look in the mirror All these lines on my face getting clearer The past is gone It went by like dusk to dawn Isn’t that the way? Everybody’s got their dues in life to pay
And the seasons they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down We’re captive on the carousel of time We can’t return we can only look Behind from where we came And go round and round and round In the circle game
I ain’t as good as I once was I got a few years on me now But there was a time back in my prime
When I could really lay it down
And if you need some love tonight
Then I might have just enough
I ain’t as good as I once was
But I’m as good once as I ever was
Saturday night it was back in Itaewon. Had some samgyeopsal with the nephew and girlfriend then went to East and West, the rock and roll bar above Grand Ole Opry.
Speaking of Eun Oke, it was interesting how we met. Basically she saw me on a friends Facebook and told him she was interested. He conveyed that message to me and this being the 21st century and all, I looked her up on her Facebook page and liked what I saw. So maybe not a traditional blind date, but we have hit it off amazingly well. She’s certainly not like any other Korean female I have known attitude-wise. It’s early, I know. But I’m looking forward to seeing her again.
Sunday morning breakfast for two,,,
This week it was chili in the crockpot.
I’d missed my Saturday tradition of climbing Namsan because I got a better offer. Hey, exercise is exercise. Ahem. Anyway, after saying a sad goodbye to Eun Oke I set about getting it done.
I hit the wall and kept on going…
You’re going down! Er, technically I was going up. Those fucking stairs…
Got back down the mountain, took a shower, then took an ass whuppin’ in darts.
Today I took the long way home from work…just about 2 hours on the Han riverside….
I’ll let Kevin Kim tell you about how damn hot it’s been…and I’ve got the sweat soaked shirt to prove it!
Changed out of my wet clothes and did the dishes…
…and hung it up to dry.
Having worked up an appetite, I threw some brats on the grill. They were delicious thank you very much. Two for dinner, two for tomorrow’s lunch, and one for a co-worker who craves my brats..
Yes, yes I know. Don’t hate me because I live such a damned exciting life. It’s what I do.
This song actually came up on my youtube playlist while I walked at lunch. My daddy used to sing it to me…
I invited Eun Oke to my place for dinner. It was great to finally have someone to cook for…
The ingredients. Chocolate, shrimp, ribeye steak, baby back ribs, baked potato, mixed vegetables, banana pudding, and of course ice cold beer.,
Eun Oke seemed pleased with the effort.
Afterwards I suggested an old-fashioned pub crawl–one drink in each bar until we could go no further…
First stop–Scrooge Pub.
Bar number 2–Dolce Vita.
Then on to my bar home Shenanigans.
Our fourth stop was Dillingers…
The we moved on down the highway to Route 66.
By the time we got to our sixth bar, Sin Bin, things were getting a little blurry…
We finished up at our 7th venue, Debut Bar. At least one of us was still on their feet…
I’ve got to hand it to Eun Oke, she’s a real trooper. I insisted we walk back to my place which in hindsight might not have been my best idea of the night. But we made it. Poor girl is still passed out on the bed. And no, I won’t share the picture I took of that!
To top it all off, Fitbit even awarded me a new badge!
Life has its ups and downs to be sure, but I’m still in the game!
I wanna glide down over Mulholland I wanna write her name in the sky I’m gonna free fall out into nothin’ Gonna leave this world for awhile
And I’m free, free fallin’ Yeah I’m free, free fallin’
Work is already a pain in the ass. But let’s not go there.
Let’s just say I earned my celery today….
Dart shirts arrived.
What the Bulls?
My Fitbit says I walked 157,877 steps last week. Or 75.44 miles if you prefer. A new record. Doing it in the heat and humidity was especially challenging. Managed just under 25,000 today.
My resting heartbeat is consistently in the low 70s, so that’s good. I got into the 140s climbing those damn stairs on Namsan, which I suppose is about right too (my max heart rate is 160). No idea what happens if I exceed that. Die perhaps? Anyway, climbed 121 floors on the mountain, and 550 for the week. That’s actually the one stat I don’t trust. Mainly because I can’t fathom how the fuck it knows when I’m climbing stairs. Methinks it might be counting uphill as stairs. Who knows?
The creepiest feature of the Fitbit is that it monitors my sleep. For example, last week I averaged 5 hours 11 minutes of sleep. I do best on at least 6 hours sleep. But it also really gets into the weeds on sleep stuff. Last night I apparently fell asleep at 12:02 and woke up at 5:27. During that 4 hours and 43 minutes I was restless 15 times equating to 42 minutes. No idea what I’m supposed to do with that information however.
Little by little I’m tearing down the old life and working towards finding a new future. I’m struck by the fact that it seems like I’ve come full circle. In 2010 I was in the job that I’ve recently re-acquired. I was looking to retire in the Philippines in September of that year. Then Jee Yeun convinced me that she was a better option. I believed in her. Turns out a life with me was not a happy one for her. And so she turned her back on all I had worked to build for us.
Which has pretty much left me with nada y nada. Nothing to do but move forward from here and try to get it right this time. Those six years I invested in the woman who supposedly loved me can never be recouped though. I say this tonight because I think I’m finally over it. I’m back to where I was, and perhaps I’ll be smarter this go round. We’ll see.
So, I am flying to Olongopo in the PI on 1 September. I’m going to try and get a feel for whether that is someplace I could make home for myself and perhaps find some peace and satisfaction in whatever remains of my so-called life. I wish I didn’t care but I can’t seem to help myself. And so it goes.
(yes, I am blogging while drunk. sue me.)
On Friday I called an “all hands” meeting and laid out my vision for the future and my expectations from the staff. Which is that they continue to be the amazing professionals that they are and make me look good in the process. As motivation, I bought them pizza and chicken. That’s my leadership style..
In all seriousness I am proud to be associated with these folks. My work family gives me a reason to get up and engage every morning. Otherwise I might just revert to my natural state of being a worthless drunk. Shuddup!
With rank comes privileges…
On Saturday I took these stairs to the top of Namsan. It was not a pleasant experience.
I feel worse than I look as improbable as that may seem…
But i got ‘er done!
This morning I prepared some Mississippi roast beef. Tweaked the recipe some and IMO got a juicier and more flavorful result.
And then I spent almost 4 hours on the river. Hardly got rained on at all.
You’d have to be crazy to date a guy like me. But this weekend I met a gal who was willing to give it a go. Friday went so well she came back for more on Saturday. And it was nice to be reminded that maybe, just maybe, I’ll find my way back. Thanks for that Eun Oke!
Went for my followup visit with the ophthalmologist today. The blister is still there, albeit smaller. It’s also pain free. Doc suggested I continue with the eye drops and it should go away in another week or two. That’s what I think too.
Also picked up my repaired Galaxy J7 phone today. That walk in the rain only cost me W145,000. So far. I need to get a new screen protector installed as well. And of course I lost all my apps. Not a problem re-downloading but I hated to see all that walking history disappeared. Oh well, the Fitbit will cover me from here on out I suppose.
I inexplicably awoke at 0300 this morning. Tried to force some more sleep out of my body but finally gave up a little after four. On the bright side I got my laundry out of the way, did the dishes, and fried up some eggs. Then I hoofed it over to Soonchunhwang hospital for the above mentioned appointment.
I also awoke to a contract offer on the house. Printed it out, signed it up, scanned it, and emailed it back to the realtor. Here’s hoping the deal goes through. To facilitate that I went to the legal office on base and got a power of attorney so the daughter could handle the closing ceremony on my behalf.
Oh, and I also managed to do some work at work.
Right now I am fixin’ to dive into these:
Table for one please. As usual.
Doctor, my eyes have seen the years And the slow parade of fears without crying Now I want to understand
I have done all that I could To see the evil and the good without hiding You must help me if you can
Doctor, my eyes Tell me what is wrong Was I unwise to leave them open for so long
Yesterday was my first day back in my new/old job.
My desk, just the way I left it over 6 years ago. Well, neater now but give me a little time…
The view from the desk. As Army offices go, I’d say mine is worthy…
And here I am hardly working.
In other news, the kids report a successful yard sale (defined as over $900 in purchases) which pretty much completes the sell-off of my broken dreams. Whatever didn’t sell is going to charity.
And I got an offer on the house which I’m accepting. Still losing my ass but not to the extent I expected. I’d rather go for a quick sale than to pursue recouping more of my investment in a future that never came.
In a bit, I’ll be fit. Or so the folks at Fitbit would have me believe.
My daughter loves her Fitbit and suggested I would too. So I picked one up at the PX. Didn’t realize they came in sizes and I inadvertently grabbed a small. Which just barely fit around my wrist. So I exchanged it the next day for the large size which is much more comfortable. Then the battery gave out half-way through my walk and I was “fit” to be tied. Gave it a full charging overnight and today it carried me through my entire walk. Actually, the battery is supposed to be good for 5 days of “normal” use. Hope so. It’s still showing “fully charged” so far.
The Fitbit has some nice features. In addition to steps, miles, time-elapsed, and calories (all functions my phone app has) the Fitbit measures stairs as well as heart rate. I’m happy to report my resting heart rate is usually in the 70s (although at this precise moment it is 83) and anything under 100 is considered normal. I checked on the internet and my maximum heart rate should be 160 (220 minus your age is what I read). When I finished climbing the steps to the top of Namsan yesterday my heart rate was 147, so I guess that’s about right too.
Another thing Fitbit does is send you these motivational badges for achievement. Like my recognition for having some ups and downs on Namsan. This is the Roller coaster badge for exceeding 125 floors. And according to my Fitbit from the bottom to the top of Namsan by stairs is the equivalent of 83 floors…
This is the “Classics” badge for exceeding 25,000 steps which I received for my Han river stroll today. Big whoop, I did over 30,000 yesterday.
Anyway, it’s not a bad tool and given my misfortune with phones it should be a more reliable resource for keeping track of my highway pounding rituals.
Friday night I played in a dart tourney in honor of Mat’s birthday.
Drew his wife as my partner and we pulled out a second place finish!
The reward for my Saturday climb…
Bacon cheeseburgers baby!
I ended the night at the Grand Ole Opry.
There were spinning some fine country tunes, but not the one I was really feeling…
Up early this morning. Laundry and cooking. And this is what I cooked.
Two chickens in the pot are better than one in the bush…
Falling right off the damn bone…tasty!
Facebook shared this memory today. I’d like to sit down and have a long talk with that young man…
Wife number 1 and my two sweet kids…
And one more weekend is in books.
Well I’m back again for another night Of trying to break free from this sadness that I can’t lay to rest This old honky-tonk sure does feel like home And the music with the laughter seem to soothe my loneliness
Turn it on, turn it up, turn me loose From the memory that’s driving me lonely, crazy and blue It helps me forget her, so the louder the better Hey mister turn it on, turn it up, turn me loose
If Namsan were the world and I was a Spanish explorer my name might just be Magellan. I circumnavigated that bitch of a mountain on Saturday. And that required some creative walking since I had to find ways to work around the tunnels. Nothing like a little adventure in life!
You’ll note I finally had the good sense to buy a headband. Looks dorky but it keeps the sweat out of my eyes. I’m convinced it was the sweat that caused the stye.
One of my tunnel detours put me smack dab in the middle of the Dongguk University campus…
…where I unexpectedly encountered a herd of Republicans…
Came home after 3 hot hours and had a spare rib lunch.
Saturday night I met up with Sam, an old pal visiting from the UK. Had a nice chat about Brexit (he was against it, and I of course favored it) then threw some darts. Sam was still on British time so he made it an early evening. I must have stopped by Debut bar on the way home. I don’t actually remember getting home. I woke up on the floor. And later found a receipt in my pocket from Debut for W135,000, I hope I had a good time!
Fixed this fine breakfast Sunday morning and set out on my river walk…
I was bound and determined to go further west than I ever had before. It was not a good plan for an extraordinarily hot day. It took me two hours to reach my destination bridge which I feared might wind up being a bridge too far. I was getting lightheaded and although I didn’t hallucinate like Kevin Kim, I did imagine myself having a heat stroke. I seriously considered taking a taxi home, but then decided fuck that, I’ll just plop down at a convenience store and drink copious amounts of water. And so I did.
The view from the bridge over the river Han. At least the last bridge over the Han that I made it to…
I was trying to capture that huge ass Taegukgi flapping in the wind. My stunted skill with a camera (and lack of patience) doomed me to settle for this…
Anyway, four hours and four bottles of water later I was safely home enjoying the pulled pork bbq out of the crock pot. I went out later and brought my step count to just over 30,000 for the day…
Monday night was dart league, and me and my What the Bulls? teammates took home a 20-7 victory over our sister team from Shenanigans…
Today was a busy but satisfying day. For one thing I purchased an airline ticket for a planned Labor Day adventure outside the friendly confines of Korea. More on that another day. Had a refreshing walk into work, a sweaty lunchtime walk, and then I got the bright idea to stroll home via the Han river.
It started out pleasant enough…
And then almost out of nowhere the sky opened up and dumped some of the hardest rainfall I’ve encountered in quite a while. Not to mention lots of thunder and lightning. Seeing as how I was on the river sans umbrella, there was nothing to be done but walk on through it. For an hour and a half.
I took this photo under the bridge that adorns my masthead. And yes, my spirits were somewhat dampened.
Still, not bad for a weekday…
And finally (the words all my readers doubtlessly look forward to seeing), I got some news today. It seems I’ve arrived back to where I ended.
Yes, I’ve been promoted to the job I retired from over 5 years ago.
Well, I don’t blog about work these days so I’ll just say I expect it to be challenging, necessary, and well-compensated. The plan is for me to lead us through the transformation and relocation to Pyeongteak. I’ve promised to stay on through the move and several months after, then I will re-retire. And then what? Stay tuned.
I celebrated my good(?) fortune with a rib-eye steak and green beans.
And now it’s time for the periodic legal disclaimer:
All thoughts, opinions, and commentary expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone. My views are not sanctioned (or necessarily condoned) by my employer. I blog on my own time, from my own computer, strictly in my personal capacity. I do not speak for the government I serve (and lately they don’t speak for me!) Thank you for your support.
You can spend all your time making money
You can spend all your love making time
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow
Would you still be mine?
And when you’re looking for your freedom
(Nobody seems to care)
And you can’t find the door
(Can’t find it anywhere)
When there’s nothing to believe in
Still you’re coming back, you’re running back
You’re coming back for more
So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time