Frozen

Damn, it’s been cold. Coldest I can remember it ever being in Korea.

I’d mentioned my water pipes freezing, well yesterday the plumber came over and “fixed” the problem. The result was not what I expected.

Impressive, no?

From the inside…

And they cut a hole in the damn ceiling. Well, the landlord was here so I guess he approved the work around.

Bottom line is the result I suppose, and I do have water downstairs again.

In other weather related news, yesterday I had my car washed. Maybe not a good idea because this morning the driver’s door was frozen shut. Wouldn’t budge no matter how hard I pulled on it. Had the bright idea of pouring some hot water around the door frame to loosen things up. The result? A puddle of frozen water on the ground. I finally crawled in through the passenger door and put my shoulder to the door until I busted it loose. Oh boy, that was fun.

Anyway, it is my last winter so I might as well feel the full force of it. I reckon some sweltering future January in the PI I might just be missing the cold. Naw, I doubt it.

Let’s get physical

I made it through the invasive probing relatively unscathed.

Let’s get started! Not exactly confident, more like resigned to my fate.

After being violated in the mouth and ass. I survived the abuse though.

And Good Morning Hospital rewarded me with this free lunchee… I’m sure the porridge was rich in carbs, but after fasting for 24 hours I didn’t give a damn…

So the physical examination was W800,000. They found some polyps on the colon and surgically removed them while I was blissfully unconscious. Something else on the walls of my stomach being biopsied as well. That was another W860,000.

Anyway, full results in two weeks. I expect I’ll live.

Let’s get physical, physical
I wanna get physical
Let’s get into physical
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk
Let me hear your body talk

The only thing worse than getting older…

…is the alternative.

Saw the urologist today and explained through the cute female translator that yes, I’m peeing less frequently at night now and indeed, my volume is pert near equivalent to a fire hose. He seemed pleased and prescribed me an additional 60 days of medication (a total of 4 pills taken each night after dinner).

So I take my blood pressure meds in the morning, along with my COPD inhalation regimen. And before bedtime, I do an allergy tablet and more COPD powder sucked into the lungs. Put it all together and it looks something like this:

My own personal pharmacy. Ain’t life grand?

Now tomorrow I’m back to Good Morning Hospital for my complete physical examination featuring the joy of endoscopy and the unique thrill of a colonoscopy.

The fun begins tonight at 8 pm when I begin drinking the juice that will clear my bowels of all lingering excrement. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

It could get interesting if the plumber who is supposed to be on his way doesn’t get my running water to run. Thankfully, I discovered that the unoccupied upstairs portion of my palace apparently has a separate water line, as I was able to shower there this morning. Oh shit! I better go see if that is still working. BRB. WooHoo! It is. Set the faucets on slow drip. If need be, I will sleep up there near a functioning toilet. Because tonight, shit is gonna get real around here.

Oh, and one more thing. GET OFF MY LAWN!

That’s a first

First time I had to concede to mother nature this winter.  -13 with a brisk breeze just made it too damn painful to walk outside.

I managed 6000 steps by walking around in the HQ building. And then I put my mostly vacant house to work as my indoor walking park.

Up the stairs…

And back down….

And then circuits around the unoccupied upstairs living area…

Pretty damn boring exercise though. I wound up settling for 13,000 steps, far short of my 20,000 daily goal.

Made me a simple but tasty low carb dinner…

And then I had to make a decision. Be smart and stay home or brave the cold to partake in my daily dose of beer drinking.

Fuck you mother nature!

I guess mother nature said fuck you back because this morning there is no running water in the house. Frozen pipes I reckon.

And so it goes

Well, the government shutdown has come to a screeching halt two days after its implementation.  But not before some damage was done.

In my little corner of the Army alone I had to cancel long planned professional development seminars scheduled at Yongsan and Humphreys this week.  60+ participants were disappointed, but damn, the instructors who flew in from DC on Saturday had to get back on a plane Monday morning (no travel expenses allowed during shutdown) and go home really suffered.  By the time they landed, the furlough was over.  Government at it’s best ladies and gentlemen.

I’m especially disappointed because I didn’t get the chance to try out any of these pickup lines…

There is no question that the Democrats blinked.  Their lame efforts to blame the shutdown on Trump weren’t fooling anyone but the most ignorant of partisans.

It’s all about the math.

Ah well, enough of politics.  I need to prepare an AAR (after action report) sharing the lessons learned with the CG.  I’ll be better prepared come the next go-round in February.

In other news, I’ve got a slew of medical stuff on the horizon.  Went to the on-base medical clinic today to get new prescriptions for my COPD drugs.  Had a nice female Korean doctor who had actually treated me way back in 2008.  She didn’t remember me (other than from my medical records on her computer) so I told her “yeah, back in 2008 you said I only had 10 years left to live!  Oh hell, it’s 2018!”  I guess my “humor” went over her head, but the young soldier nurse chuckled.  Anyway, she wants me to get a CT scan to check out some lung nodules.  I’ll have to go up to Seoul for that, which gives me a good excuse to visit the big city.

Thursday I go to Good Morning hospital to see my prostate doctor.  The pee is flowing better these days, so that’s a good thing.  Need those prescriptions renewed too.

And then on Friday I’m doing the complete physical regimen at GMH, including the dreaded colonoscopy and endoscopy.  Hope they knock me out for both.  But I want to have a clean bill of health (or at least be aware of any potential problems) before I make the big move to the Philippines.  So, another step down that road.

And finally, a friend posted this on Facebook and it really resonated:

Commenter Kevin had quoted a Gibran poem I really liked a few days ago. And this quote, well, damn. It is so fucking true it hurts. Love. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Hope springs eternal nonetheless….

What he said

I rarely engage in political discussions these days.  I can’t even recall the last time I’ve used the “politics” tag here at LTG.  But Kevin Kim of Big Hominid fame has crafted a balanced and thoughtful take on year one of the Trump presidency that is quite impressive in its depth and breadth..  Whatever your political persuasion I encourage you to pay him a visit and give this the read it deserves.

Accolades and kudos, Kevin!

I’m exceptional!

Well, excepted anyway.  Excepted from the furlough I mean.

As most of you are surely aware, the Congress critters have seen fit to not pass a funding bill, thereby forcing the government to shut down.  Which means that most federal employees will be furloughed come Monday morning.  Our workforce in Korea has been spared that fate because of our national security mission of deterring northern aggression.

Here’s what the big boss had to say about it….

Practically speaking, the impact here is that we are required to work but we will not be paid until such time as Congress gets its shit together.  We also can not take any type of leave–if you get sick you get furloughed.  I devoted 4 hours of my Saturday in meetings with Eighth Army leadership as we planned the way ahead.  Fun times!

Got a late start on yesterday’s walk due to my unplanned work intrusion, but I did get to see a colorful sun. So there’s that.

And then up early this morning for a walk in the fog.

Here’s a throwback to 1986. I was transporting our horses from Oklahoma to the new residence in South Carolina. That would mean I was 31 years old. I’m happy to report that I judge my current belly to be similar in size to the one on the younger me.

On the subject of moving, today Facebook reminded me that it was on this date in 2005 that I first moved to Seoul.  Thirteen years gone by just like that.  And I’m very aware that my remaining days in Korea are drawing to a close.  Things are getting real.  And a little scary.

Interesting times await!

Seven year ache

Today marks the seventh anniversary of my mother’s passing.

Mom and me.

mom and dad.

Mom died at home where she wanted to be. The best night occurred during her last week when her sisters from California came to visit. She was surrounded by people who loved her and she seemed to really perk up. She actually made a little speech about what’s important in life and she said all that matters is love. Mom told us to always love one another and everyone else we encountered. When it was done she smiled and said, “well, I guess I gave a sermon”. Mom was clearly loving having her family with her, that’s for sure.

I had retired on January 1 and was there for mom’s final days.  She thanked me for coming back home to her.

Miss you mom!

Mother, don’t worry. I’ve got a coat and some friends on the corner
Mother, don’t worry. She’s got a garden we’re planting together
Mother, remember the night that the dog had her pups in the pantry?
Blood on the floor and the fleas on their paws,
And you cried ’til the morning.

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons are like birds flying always over the mountain

Who’s whom?

Sorry, Kevin Kim.  I saw this and immediately thought of you.  Don’t know why.

In other news, I’m glad I stopped listening to those voices in my head.

And finally, it was two years ago today that I posed with this elephant (I’m the one on the left) in Cambodia.

I’m a lesser man these days.  269 pounds back then.  204 at yesterday’s weigh-in.  5 pounds more to reach my goal.

And life goes on…

 

 

Smoked

I gave up on waiting to get a date to join me at the new BBQ joint here in town.  So last night I dined alone at Smoke Town.

I had walked by before but never checked the inside or the menu.  It did come highly recommended to me however.  When I entered I was surprised at how small the place was.  Three tables and counter seating along one wall and the front window.  I also didn’t see a restroom and thankfully didn’t need one.  I assume there is a community CR located in another part of the building. They seemed to be doing a brisk business (tables full and several folks waiting for take out).

Here’s the menu. Somewhat limited and a little on the pricey side. I really dislike eating out alone and one of the reasons is that whole “for two” bullshit. Us single guys need to eat as well!

I opted for the pulled pork sandwich ($7) and sides of beans and slaw ($3 each). Cheapest beer was a Hoegaarden for five bucks. Although the menu shows dollar pricing, I paid W18,000 so it was actually a little cheaper than it appears.

How was it?  Well, I thought the sandwich was one of the best I’ve had.  The beans were very good and the slaw average.  As you can see, the portions were fair.  How does it compare to Linus’ or Manimal in Itaewon?  Eh, too soon to tell, but I’d rate Smoke Town as competitive with those venues.  Of course, Smoke Town wins hands down for location convenience.  So there’s that.

Spent the remainder of the night getting drunk at various venues in the ‘ville.  I came home in a foul mood and woke up feeling depressed.  I’ll see if I can’t walk those blues away this morning.

I really need to get out of here.

Go tell it on the mountain

A co-worker invited me to join him on a mountain hike this morning.  It was snowing when we headed out at 0930 but had stopped by the time we arrived 20 minutes later.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to flatland walking that climbing today was a bigger challenge than I thought it would be.  And coming down was a slick slip and slide. I was happy for the change of pace for sure.

I don’t know the name of the mountain, perhaps these signs say?

I’d judge the climb up to be similar in difficulty to the trail ascent of Namsan (not the road up).

Some nice views…

And lots of these grave shrines…

I guess you’d call this the semi-summit…

….we elected not to continue on to the top of the peak behind me. My co-worker said there were places you had to climb over rocks holding onto a rope. He was concerned about coming back down where a slip might well prove fatal. Saving that portion of the hike for a dryer day was fine by me.

It was a good morning’s hike.  I look forward to coming back for more soon.

Just how cold is it?

Almost as cold as my damn love life. Almost.

 

Or to be precise, minus 16 Celsius.

Here’s a useful tip: Don’t leave a 12 pack of diet Coke in your trunk when the temperature drops to -16. Just sayin’.

Still getting my steps in, despite the cold. Actually, I can dress warm enough but the black ice is treacherous. I pretty much have to curtail walking after sundown.

The snow covered bicycle trail along the river. I managed to get in a two hour walk here after work today.

 

Cold nights, hot food. Ribs? Aye!

Make no mis steak about it. With a side of Frankenstein’s brains.

Anyway, it was just about a year ago that I received my COPD diagnosis.  The meds have been working great, I have rarely had the coughing fits and shortness of breath I used to experience.  But this cold air has given me some trouble, especially after long exposure.  Been hocking up some nasty shit along the trail.  Ah well, doctor says the hot and humid air in the Philippines will do me good.  In the meantime I’ll just try and enjoy my last winter weather.  Or endure it.

Also one year ago I posted this Charles Bukowski poem on Facebook.  It was a good reminder for me to read it again:

Into the great wide open!

Friday night and cold beer and cold air await me!

Stuff about things

Just some random ass shit from my so-called life.

I guess the highlight of the week was doing a meet and greet with the new Secretary of the Army Mark Espers. And perhaps the final photo op of my 35+ year career….

It’s been cold and snowy, but I’m still walking to work.

A winter wonderland perhaps, but treacherously slick in places. I’ve shortened some walks because I don’t want any broken bones. Still getting at least 20,000 a day though.

Speaking of walking, I did my first Hash with the Humphreys Hangover Hash House Harriers (5H). It was a small group to begin with (maybe 8 at most), and the majority said they were too hungover to participate…

It seems with this group following the trail markings is half the battle, and some are even intentionally misleading. Not sure why. Anyway, I got a crash course in reading the signs.

So, in addition to the “Hare” (the who marks the trail) it was just me and another couple….

Speaking of couples, I’m not part of one. Hence, I had no one to share this fine dinner I prepared. It was still good, but would have been twice as good with company. Too bad for you Mi Young!

Anyway, it’s all good.  Another day, another turn of the wheel in the sky.  Each day brings me closer to a new and better future.  Just wait and see!

Ghosted

Well, there’s a first time for everything.  Unfortunately.

Ghosting is breaking off a relationship (often an intimate relationship) by ceasing all communication and contact with the former partner without any apparent warning or justification, as well as avoiding or ignoring and refusing to respond to the former partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate.

Ghosting may be especially traumatic for those on the receiving end, causing feelings of ostracism and rejection;[6] those with low self-esteem may be especially vulnerable to negative emotional and psychological consequences as a result of it.[citation needed]

Some mental health professionals consider ghosting to be a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse, a type of silent treatment or stonewalling behaviour, and emotional cruelty.[6]  

My “friend” Mi Young has apparently broken off all communication with me without any explanation.  We last talked on Thursday (via messenger) and I had invited her to join me for some American BBQ at a new place in town.  As usual, her schedule was ambiguous so I said I’m free whenever you are, just let me know.  And that’s the last I’ve heard from her.  I sent a message on Monday asking what was up which she saw but did not respond to.  And so that’s it I guess.

Never experienced a “ghosting” before.  It sucks.  And it hurts.

Similarly, my “ex” Loraine, who had professed to want to remain friends, has not responded to a series of messages I sent.  I wished her a happy new year and got nothing back.  A week later I sent a message simply asking if she was okay.  Nothing.

How hard is it to say “I don’t want to ever hear from you again, please don’t message me”.  Sure, that would be painful but it is better than just being ignored as if I didn’t exist.  It’s just a chickenshit thing to do.  I was good to both of these women, I think I deserve the dignity of a response, even if that response is “fuck off!”.

Oh well, life goes on.

The present

Presently, my wonderful life finds me immersed in my WWD routine.  That’s the lovely Pyeongtaek skyline reflected in the glass…

Work: As I wind down my career (again) it sometimes feels like I’m closing a loop.  Yesterday I was preparing for a Monday meeting dealing with whether our Korean Service Corps (KSC) employees are direct hires or indirect hires.  Not to get into the weeds on this, but direct hires are people who are hired by and paid by the Army.  Indirect hires are employees of the host nation government and supplied as needed in support of the Army.  All of the Korean Nationals working for the Army are direct hires.

This shouldn’t be an issue at all.  Except there is a Department of the Army regulation that states KSC employees are indirect hires.  This probably dates back to the Korean War when the ROK government did provide the manpower to support the KSC battalions.  I vaguely recalled dealing with this issue in the past and asked a staff member to pull up anything she could find.  And sure enough, there was a memo I signed and sent to Army HQ noting that the regulation was in error and needed to be corrected.  That was in September 2010.  Army responded that our KSCs were indeed direct hire and the regulation would be amended accordingly.  Except it hasn’t been.  Hence the need for a meeting to once again explain the difference to local leadership.  And by God, I’m determined to see that regulation updated before I leave Korea!

I’m getting some arm twisting to stay until my current appointment ends in September.  I actually do enjoy my job and the people I work with and for, but the other 16 hours of my day pretty much suck. I know it is time (past time perhaps) for me to move on with my life.  May it is!

Walking:  This morning I hiked to and through Pyeongtaek city and back.  Took almost four hours.  I’ve discovered there is a local Hash House Harriers group here and I’m excited about doing my first (well, second) Hash with them tomorrow afternoon.  Hopefully I can meet some interesting people and discover new trails to hike.  I’m pretty bored with my current walk routines.

Yeah, that’s pretty much the only way I can get through the night here in Anjeong-ri.  Five more months!

Drinking: Nothing significant to report.  I’m friends with the bartender at Shooters and enjoy cutting up with her.  There’s a couple of other places I frequent to change it up a little now and then.  And I’m somewhat smitten with the Filipina bartender at AR, even though she is half my age.  I invited her to join me for dinner but have not received an affirmative response.  Yet.

That’s Hanna. What’s not to like, right? What I enjoy about her is she has a great sense of humor (i.e. she laughs at my jokes) , she’s witty and can hold an intelligent conversation. I fear I’m the creepy old guy in her life though but she is too kind hearted to tell me so.

But I am philosophical about it all.  The owner of AR was wearing this wisdom on his back last night:

Yep, that’s my plan!

And there is the latest update on my so-called life.  Wonderful indeed!  And things can always be worse I suppose:

Yeah, maybe not having a girlfriend is a blessing…

UPDATE: She declined dinner.  “Headache”.  Haha, told you she was a smart girl!

Done with the Philippines

It was a long ass day.  Started out with intermittent power outages in my hotel.  When the lights went out (we’d leave the light on in the bathroom) it made a popping sound.  The first time was around 0300.  The noise woke me up and I laid there worrying how the hell I was going to pack the rest of my shit in a pitch black room.  About 10 minutes later the lights “popped” back on.  Relieved I went back to sleep, only to hear the lights pop off again a few minutes later.  This cycle continued until my 0500 alarm sounded.

Rushed around and managed to get most of my gear ready to travel before the next blackout.  Used the phone light for awhile and then once again power was restored.  Got a call at 0545 that my driver had arrived, so it was off to Manila.  Arrived without incident at the airport by 0930 for my 1230 flight.

The airport in Manila, much like the city, sucks.  As I waited to board by flight it occurred to me that I was most likely completing my last vacation in the Philippines.

Goodbye to you Manila!

The flight departed one hour late (of course!) and landed me at Incheon just before 1800.  Almost all the passengers on the fully loaded Asiana 747 were transferring to other flights so I was able to sail through immigration.  And lo and behold, my bag was one of the first to hit the carousel.  Hoofed over to the AREX express train and made it ten minutes before it departed for Seoul station.

Which gave me time to figure out how to cut the zip tie the agent in Manila had helpfully used to lock my bag.  The bag that contained my jacket and gloves for the sub-freezing weather in Korea.  Brilliantly, I remembered I had some nail clippers in the unlocked front pocket of my suitcase.  Woot!  They did the trick.  Donned my sweatshirt and jacket and I was once again dressed appropriately for my environment.

I like the AREX.  But I always get lost trying to get up five floors of escalators to the main floor exits at Seoul station.  Last night was no exception.  And then my AREX ticket wouldn’t work on the exit turnstiles, so I had to hit the help button (on two different occasions) to be let out.  Once I exited the station I grabbed a cab and got to re-experience the joy of miscommunication with a non-English speaking Seoul cabbie (and yes, it is MY fault for having not learned even basic Korean).  I did say “Noksapyeong yak” which he repeated, but then started entering the location in his phone like he didn’t know where it was.  I’m all like “you know, near Itaewon” which didn’t seem to register.  Eventually he figured it out and got me there.  The fair was W4600 so I gave him W12,000 and asked for 5000 back.  Which created more confusion and miscommunication.  When he figured out I was just wanting to give him a decent tip, he seemed pleased.

I wanted Noksapyeong because it was the closet location I could think of to where I’d left my car parked on the Army base at Yongsan (near the gas station).  I had to hike a couple of blocks to get there, but of course that’s no big deal.  Loaded up and hit the highway at just past eight.  I was really surprised to encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic heading south at that hour.  Frustrating to be sure for a weary traveler and I was lamenting my decision to not spend the night in Seoul.  Once I got past Seongnam things cleared up and I had smooth 100 kmh sailing the rest of the way home, arriving just after 2130.

A long and tiring trip, almost as boring as this post.  If you can imagine that.  I did have lots of time to think which in my case is often not a good thing.  But one of my thoughts was that I had traveled from the future back to the present.  And made pretty good time at that.

The first day of the rest of my life…

…this year.

As days go it was a pretty fine one all and all.

Gem and I “kissed” and made up. We’ve got some communication issues we need to work on, but it’s early yet…

I’ve been very impressed with Gem’s willingness to indulge my walking habit. She hangs right in there on our 20,000+ step days. Hell, the other day she even said “I’m bored, let’s go for a walk”. Nothing seems to get her goat out on the road either…

During a trek out to Baloy Beach I found this place that may very well work for me…

Talked to the owner, “Lucky Mike” who said the current tenant is leaving in May which of course is when I expect to arrive…

It’s small, only one bedroom, but…

…it has this huge ass patio/deck/balcony thing going for it. My vision would be to convert it to outdoor living space. You know, table/umbrella, hammock, chair swing, and of course a nice grill. It’s on the 3rd floor and features outstanding water views from the patio and great mountain views from the house. 20,000 pesos a month ($400.) works for me too.

The highlight of the day though was participating in my first Hash House Harrier event.

We started out with the administrative stuff (250 peso dues) at Johannson’s Bar and Grill.

Then we loaded up in the back of this truck for the drive out to the Hash starting point.

The days route included hiking up and down two mountains. It was honestly much more difficult terrain than I’ve experienced on Namsan or Bukhansan in Korea. There were a couple of spots where I was even a little fearful. Only fell on my ass a couple of times though.

Let’s get started!

And we are off!

Passed by some residences that show just how lucky I am….

The trail was more difficult that it appears…very steep with dicey footing in places.  Next time I’ll definitely bring a walking stick!

Gem kept right up with me the entire way…and she was much better at spotting the trail markings (chalk arrows on trees) that I am. I can truthfully say I would have been lost without her.

From the top of the mountain we were rewarded with amazing views of the bay like this one…

And there lies Barrio Baretto in all its glory. I’ll be calling here home one day soon…

The local kids were quite amused to see the crazy foreigners walking about in the hot sun for no particular reason.

The Hash finished up on the roof of the Hot Zone bar…owned by the leader of the Subic Bay Hashers.

Now, there are certain rituals associated with the Hash that take place at the conclusion of every hike. I don’t fully understand them all yet, but they include sitting bare bottomed on a block of ice and drinking from a toilet plunger. I was happy to just observe.

As a Hash House “virgin” I was required to engage in an initiation ritual…

Which concluded by my having to guzzle an entire bottle of beer in one shot. Anything remaining in the bottle after it left my lips was unceremoniously poured over my head. I missed it by just a sip…

Anyway, it felt like a fresh start and a step in the direction of a new and better future life.  We will see how that works out for me.

Dead and buried

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Rest in Peace motherfucker.

And welcome to the new born year of 2018.  Chances are I’ll fuck this one up as well, but hopefully in new and more interesting ways.  For sure my future fuck ups will primarily be taking place in the Philippines.  So there’s that.

Spent the last night of the year at Lollipop enjoying more live music.

The actually put on a pretty good show playing some outstanding classic rock songs.

Last night a big dick walked into the bar. That really took some balls…

Welcomed the New Year on the rooftop of the Paradise Hotel where we could view the firework show from the old Navy base.  Then had a fight with Gem and woke up pissed.

This year is going to rock!