YOLO

You gotta do what you gotta do.

Because after all…

As seen on this afternoon's hike...

As seen on this afternoon’s hike…

O brothers let's go down Let's go down, come on down Come on brothers, let's go down Down in the river to pray.  Although truth be told I didn't pray while there.

“O brothers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
Come on brothers, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray.” 

Although truth be told I didn’t pray while there.

It was a record setting day for me though...

It was a record setting day for me though…

Worked up a mighty big appetite during today’s 10 mile stroll…

Luckily I had some pork just waiting to be pulled.  And so I did.  Tasty, if I do say so myself...

Luckily I had some pork just waiting to be pulled. And so I did. Tasty, if I do say so myself…

Last Sunday I encountered some leakage when I gave myself my weekly reward.  So I took measures to rectify the situation…

Yep, a new blender...

Yep, a new blender…

Ain't she sweet?

Ain’t she sweet?

I inserted a few ice cubes (keeps things chilled, doncha ya know), banana, fresh strawberrys, ice cream, milk, and a dollop of peanut butter.  Then I liquefied it  get this...

I inserted a few ice cubes (keeps things chilled, doncha ya know), banana, fresh strawberries, ice cream, milk, and a dollop of peanut butter. Then I liquefied it to get this…

And damn it was tasty...

And damn it was tasty…

Not strictly in keeping with the diet, but hey, you only live once…

Speaking of the diet, down 1.6 pounds in week 12 of the LCHF program and 36.5 pounds lost overall.  It’s a struggle now because my body is saying fuck you, I like the way I am.  I’ll keep trying to convince myself otherwise.  At least for another 12 pounds or so.

 

 

I’m ruined

Picking up where I was left off…

Arrived back at the lovely Columbia airport 12 hours after arriving there for the first time. Used our lunch voucher for dinner and moved over to the gate to await the arrival of our flight to Charlotte.  Which was delayed for “mechanical reasons”.  At least this time the only thing I was missing was some sleep in Charlotte.  Quite a few other passengers were not so lucky and had to be re-booked.  I could relate to their pain.

Got into Charlotte around 10:00 and went looking for a place to spend our dinner voucher. Everyone was closing up, so we settled for a couple of Papa John’s mini pizzas to go. Then we headed out to wait for the hotel shuttle to pick us up.  It proved to be a pretty long wait.  There were “no smoking” placards posted throughout the vicinity but I was surreptitiously sneaking a vape now and again.  And then a blonde woman showed up with two female police officers standing with her.  Made me too uncomfortable to vape in the presence of the law.  Observing this intruder piqued my curiosity.  She was not under arrest, that much was clear.  So I figured she must be some sort of celebrity getting police protection from the unwashed masses.  But then I thought, what kind of celebrity takes the freakin’ hotel shuttle bus?  She looked a little familiar, but too rough around the edges to really be a star.

Well, about then the Baymont Suites shuttle arrived and I lost interest in the faded flower. Until she loaded into the bus in the seat directly behind me.  Whereupon she loudly announced “this is the first time I’ve taken public transportation”.  Everyone on board ignored her.  Then she said “can I borrow a phone?  Someone stole mine.  I really need to call Charlie Sheen.”  I figured maybe she was crazy or worried about HIV.  Or both.  She then asked the driver if he could take somewhere to by a burner phone.  He said he would after he dropped us all off.  Next the wayward lass professed to being hungry and offered to treat all of us if the driver would stop for fast food.  No one cared much for that idea and she continued mumbling about having not eaten all day long, so I offered her my pizza and she happily accepted.  Next she was thirsty so I gave her my diet Pepsi.  She went on for awhile about how nice and generous we had been and thanked us profusely. Truthfully, I just wanted to shut her up.

Shortly thereafter we arrived at our hotel.  Curiosity got the best of me and I asked the damsel in distress her name. Brooke Mueller was her response.  I didn’t recognize the name (which was probably disappointing for her) so I just said nice to meet you and good luck and then I exited the bus.  Once I got to the room I Googled her and saw that she was in fact a B-list actress and Charlie Sheen’s ex-wife (or more precisely, one of them).

 She's much prettier in this pic than in real life. Or at least her life now. Frankly, she looked like an old prostitute who had been ridden hard and put up wet. Kind of felt sorry for her.

She’s much prettier in this pic than in real life. Or at least her life now. Frankly, she looked like an old prostitute who had been ridden hard and put up wet. Kind of felt sorry for her.

There wasn’t much sweet about the Baymont Suites, except the room was gratis.  And we were only going to be there for 5 hours.  I took a shower and hit the sheets, woke promptly at 0400, dressed and headed downstairs for the ride back to the airport.  I noticed Brooke wondering aimlessly around the lobby, couldn’t help but pity her situation.  Hope whatever trouble she’s having in life works itself out.

So, we arrived at the airport right at 0430 in anticipation of our flight to Dallas boarding at 0530.  Our bags had been checked through from Columbia to Incheon which was nice except for the not having a change of clothes thing.  Heh, it was sort of like camping! TSA was just making final preparations to open for business and our boarding pass said we were “PRECHK”.  So we waltzed right on through wearing our shoes and everything!

Used our breakfast voucher for coffee and bagels and I noted our plane was parked at the departure gate.  I took that as a good sign we wouldn’t suffer a mechanical delay on this fine morning.  Sure enough, we boarded and departed on time and landed in Dallas with 2 hours to kill before our connection to Seoul.

We spent part of the time sharing a French toast breakfast (that's my half). Then Jee Yeun went off to spend money in the duty free stores whilst I tried and failed at finding decent WiFi.

We spent part of the time sharing a French toast breakfast (that’s my half). Then Jee Yeun went off to spend money in the duty free stores whilst I tried and failed at finding decent WiFi.

As I dawdled over my coffee, I saw a thick flume of black smoke rising up behind our ride to Seoul.

Smoke and fire on airport grounds can't be a good thing, right? Well, whatever it was it didn't impact our flight which left on time.

Smoke and fire on airport grounds can’t be a good thing, right? Well, whatever it was it didn’t impact our flight which left on time.

Ah, but American Airlines I had one more surprise for me this trip:

A pleasant one for a change!

A pleasant one for a change!

First time in Business Class for an International flight.  Jee Yeun was upgraded as well, but our seats were on opposite sides of the plane.  So a stranger had to endure my snoring and flatulence.  Man, those seats are amazing though.  You can go from upright to lay down flat and everywhere in between.  Food was pretty damn fine as well.

The freaking entertainment system offered the same sorry list of crappy movies that they had on the outbound journey.  I actually tried to watch three of them, but couldn’t make it to the end on any.  Too lame, too predictable, lousy acting–you name it.  Oh well, never slept better on a plane ride, that’s for sure.  And of course, I’m ruined for life now.  Coach will only seem more oppressive and uncomfortable in the future.

And now I’m finally back home in Seoul.  Just in time for tomorrow’s predicted 2-6 inches of snow.  Ain’t life grand?

 

 

 

You can’t get there from here

Apparently.

Up bright and early this morning.  Gassed and returned the rental car, checked our bags and got our boarding passes, made it through security mostly unscathed (Jee Yeun’s rice cooker in the backpack did get TSA’s attention and she got the extra screening I predicted).  At our gate and ready to go with 45 minutes to spare.

And then came the dreaded announcement that due to “mechanical issues” our plane would be delayed for an undetermined amount of time.  I only had a 1 hour 50 minute window to make my connection to Narita so I was a little more than concerned.  There were 50 people with similar concerns in line with the gate agent, so I made the decision to return to the check-in counter.  The man there seemed to be wanting to help me and seemed to realize that my connection was in jeopardy.  Assuming a re-booking was going to be necessary I sent Jee Yeun a message to come join me up front.  She was none to happy about lugging my heavy backpack (in addition to her own) all the way from our gate. Shortly after she arrived the agent said “well, it looks now like your flight from Columbia will be departing on time after all”.  Which put me in a bit of a panic since it was two minutes to departure.  You’ll recall I missed my connection to Columbia in similar fashion.

So we hustled our way through security again and rushed to our gate (fortunately, Columbia is a small airport) only to find the long line of people waiting to be re-booked by a solitary gate agent.  I realized the guy at the check-in counter had just not wanted to deal with resolving my situation so he sent me on a fool’s errand.  Well, I wasn’t going to stand in that line for hours, so I broke out the phone and called American Airlines reservations.  “Mike” on the other end of the line seemed to want to help, although his intermittently placing me on hold for lengthy periods was disconcerting.  After one of those long holds he came back and asked if there wasn’t an agent on the ground in Columbia who could assist me.  So, I gave him the facts of life.

After explaining that I didn’t have time to stand in a line that didn’t appear to be moving and the agent at check-in being worthless, I reiterated that I needed to be in Seoul and ready to work on Wednesday morning.  I said I didn’t care what airline or what airport I traveled from, I just needed to get there.  “Mike” told me he understood and put me on hold again.  When he came back he gave me the helpful news that there was a direct flight from Los Angeles to Seoul, but then unhelpfully he explained he couldn’t get me to west coast in time to catch it.  He said he had checked for flights from Chicago, Dulles, and Charlotte as well and there was just no way I was going to make it back to Seoul today.  So, I asked him about Plan B and he put me on hold.  When he returned he told me he could get me on a Columbia to Dallas, Dallas to L.A. flight.  I’d arrive at 11:00 p.m. and could catch a Korean Air flight to Incheon at 11 the next morning.  I sighed, told him to book it, and got placed back on hold.

All told, I spent 45 minutes on the phone with “Mike” (I don’t even want to think about what the roaming charge for that call is gonna cost me) but I had a new reservation in hand. So, it was back to the check-in counter to retrieve my baggage.  This time I encountered a much more helpful agent.  As she set about printing my new boarding passes she had difficulty with the Dallas-L.A. leg.  So, she got on the phone with someone to work it out and stayed on the phone for over an hour.  No shit.  The end result was I now had an entirely new itinerary–Columbia to Charlotte where I’d spend the night.  Then Charlotte to Dallas where I’d connect with an American Airlines flight direct to Seoul.  At this point I knew I was fucked either way, although I’d prefer flying Korean Air.  Whatever.  She gave me boarding passes for everything except  Dallas-Incheon, explaining I’d check-in for that flight upon arrival.  I told her nope, I needed seats, preferably exit row.  She got back on the phone for awhile and told me I had an aisle and center seat reserved.  Still no boarding pass, so I guess I’ve got to take her word for it.

Then she gave me my freebies.  Vouchers for lunch, dinner, breakfast tomorrow, and a hotel room.  Except the hotel room was in Columbia.  So she went back to fix that.  I had already decided that I’d never fly into Columbia again.  When something goes wrong, and it seems like it inevitably does, you don’t have many options.  From now on I’ll be using Charlotte.  When the agent came back with my corrected lodging voucher she told me “I never fly out of Columbia, I always use Charlotte.  You should too”.  Yep.

The daughter took time off from work to pick us up and drop us at her house.  She’ll pick us up after work and take us back to the Columbia airport for our flight to Charlotte.  Let the adventure continue!

End of days

Tomorrow morning we fly back to Korea, arriving Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. (assuming everything goes right).  I’m already dreading what a bitch Wednesday at work is going to be.  Last night was actually the first time I’ve slept a normal sleep, just in time for reversing that pattern next week.  Ah well, first world problems and all that.

Flying on Japan Airlines for the most part on the return.  First time with that carrier for me. JA is reputed to have the most comfortable steerage coach class in the market, so we’ll see about that.  I have no doubt it will be better than American, but that’s a pretty low bar.  I’m on a code share flight with AA and have been unable to reserve seats ahead of time with either airline, here’s hoping I can avoid middle seat hell.  I will be flying for the first time on the new Boeing 787 “Dream Liner” which from what I’ve read is a good ride.

It’s been a pretty nice trip.  Weather has certainly been better here than in Seoul.  Nice to see the kids and grandchildren as well as some of my old dart buddies.  We had a nice Thanksgiving feast.  Two of my ex-wives were in attendance.  I’m happy we all get along. In fact, wife #2 took Jee Yeun shopping on Black Friday, they left at 0600 and Jee Yeun returned with several large bags of bargains.  And now you know why I brought an empty suitcase all the way from Korea.

All right, let’s do some pictures:

Jee Yeun brought a taste of Korea to the Thanksgiving table...

Jee Yeun brought a taste of Korea to the Thanksgiving table…

I've always done turkey in the oven, but folks in these parts are all about frying. Truth be told, it tastes just as good and takes less than 5 minutes per pound to cook. I did miss the smell of a roasting turkey filling the house though...

I’ve always done turkey in the oven, but folks in these parts are all about frying. Truth be told, it tastes just as good and takes less than 5 minutes per pound to cook. I did miss the smell of a roasting turkey filling the house though…

Eezy peezy!

Eezy peezy!

We had a ham too, something neither I nor the daughter had ever attempted. It came out tasting much better than this photo makes it look.

We had a ham too, something neither I nor the daughter had ever attempted. It came out tasting much better than this photo makes it look.

Me and my sweet granddaughter Sydney...

Me and my sweet granddaughter Sydney…

Had a nice reunion with Chris and Bridget Werner. Chris is a CSM with the Army and I played darts with Bridget in Korea several years ago. They are now at Fort Jackson here in Columbia. Small world, eh?

Had a nice reunion with Chris and Bridget Werner. Chris is a CSM with the Army and I played darts with Bridget in Korea several years ago. They are now at Fort Jackson here in Columbia. Small world, eh?

I always try and make the rounds to my favorite food joints when I’m in town.  Got my chicken wing fix at Rush’s, and had me some South Carolina BBQ (mustard based) at Maurice’s.  Still need to swing by 5 Guys for a burger.  Yesterday morning I did the Waffle House breakfast.

This is how I roll at WH: country ham, eggs, hashbrowns and toast...

This is how I roll at WH: country ham, eggs, hashbrowns and toast…

...and of course a waffle. Jee and I share the breakfast. My half of the waffle is slathered in butter and syrup, she likes hers plain.

…and of course a waffle. Jee and I share the breakfast. My half of the waffle is slathered in butter and syrup, she likes hers plain.

Anyway, if I were inclined to start a business in Korea (and I’m not) I’d open up a 24 hour Waffle House smack dab in the middle of Itaewon.  Late night drunks would love getting some grease on, and I really think Korean folk would be down with some hearty American goodness too.  Not sure where I’d find the rednecks to staff the place though.

That’s it for now.  See you on the other side of the world soon.

I’ll bring the fruit salad

Aunt Pat’s World Famous (on two continents at least) fruit salad to be precise.  A family tradition since I was a mere lad visiting the Middlebrook family (my mom’s sister) for Thanksgiving in La Crescenta, CA, scenically located in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest.  Even as a child I always looked forward to the fruit salad part of the feast.

Once I had my own family I secured the recipe and have been making it for the holidays ever since.  Here’s how it’s done:

I start with cutting up two largish bananas...

I start with cutting up two largish bananas…

...then I drain two 16 oz cans of fruit cocktail and a large can of mandarin oranges..

…then I drain two 16 oz cans of fruit cocktail and a large can of mandarin oranges…

...while the cans drain I chop up an apple. I prefer a tart granny smith in my fruit salad...

…while the cans drain I chop up an apple. I prefer a tart granny smith in my fruit salad…

...then I put all the fruit in a bowl and douse it with a large helping of sour cream...

…then I put all the fruit in a bowl and douse it with a large helping of sour cream…

...add a bag of pecan pieces, then sweeten it up with some coconut and baby marshmallows...

…add a bag of pecan pieces, then sweeten it up with some coconut and baby marshmallows…

stir until it's all mixed up, chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to all those flavors blend and then eat it up!

stir until it’s all mixed up, chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to allow all those flavors to blend and then eat it up!

I don’t think of it as a dessert, I prefer to enjoy it right alongside my turkey and fixings. And don’t you dare call it ambrosia because it is not!  Don’t get me started.

Happy Thanksgiving!.

What a long strange trip it was

Greetings from Columbia!

You know, I consider myself a reasonably savvy traveler.  Back in the day I would be flying somewhere for work three weeks out of every month.  I guess in the intervening years I’ve gotten stupid or something.  Or at least I was yesterday.

Things started out pleasantly enough I suppose.  We exited our apartment in Gireum-dong, crossed the street to the bus stop for the airport limo, and set about waiting for it to arrive.  A cab driver approached and asked me in near perfect English (including an English accent) if he “might interest me in transport to the airport”.  I asked him how much and he told me the usual fare is around W75,000 plus toll.  I sensed a negotiation was about to ensue so I called over the pro Jee Yeun.  They went back in forth for a while (in Korean of course), and in short order I saw the driver grimace and nod in agreement.  Jee Yeun had gotten a W30,000 fare including the toll, the same price as the bus!  I think we both felt a little guilty about it  and Jee Yeun told me to give him a big tip.  I told the driver during the drive that I was going to give him something extra for his troubles.  He told me that wasn’t necessary, he had agreed to the price and that was satisfactory.  At the airport I gave him extra anyway.

During the drive the cabbie asked my what I thought about Donald Trump.  I said I thought he was pretty much a clown, but he has a message that resonates with many Americans (including me).  I also told him I’d rather have a clown as president than a liar and a crook like Hillary.  Anyway, that was the first time I’ve ever discussed American politics with a Korean cab driver.  The driver then offered up the three best things that are uniquely Korean–Hanguel, Korean food, and Korean mothers.  I agreed on the first two, said I’d never had a Korean mother, but opined that Korean women are the most beautiful in the world.  He responded the women get even better when they become moms.  It was a much more pleasant ride than I’ve every had on the airport limo.

We got to the airport four hours before our scheduled departure.  The check-in counters weren’t open yet, so Jee Yeun had lunch and I went outside to vape.  After dropping our luggage and getting our boarding passes, we cleared security and immigration in short order, then Jee Yeun hit the duty free stores and I found a place for a beer and a sandwich near our gate.  Finally it was time to board and we ensconced ourselves in our exit row seats (for which I had paid a $350. premium) for the long flight to Dallas-Fort Worth.

A selfie for luck and we're on our way!

A selfie for luck and we’re on our way!

Room to stretch out my legs and no one to recline the seat in front of me!

Room to stretch out my legs and no one to recline the seat in front of me!

It’s been a long time since I’ve flown American Airlines, but I figured they couldn’t be much worse than United or Delta.  I was wrong about that.  The food was practically inedible, but that wasn’t really a surprise.  I have grown accustomed though to passing the endless time on board by watching movies via the seat back entertainment system.  Except for the first hour or so they crew couldn’t get it to work.  After a couple of reboots, it finally came on line but it didn’t turn out to be worth waiting for.  Unlike every other freaking airline I’ve flown, this was not an “on demand” system with dozens of movie choices you can watch when you want, for as long long as you want, or pause and resume later.  American’s system had six movies on offer, none of which struck me as “must see”.   Still, I had nothing but time to kill, so I clicked on one and saw that it had already started.  Clicked on another, same thing.  So, it was like being at the movies, you don’t get to choose when you watch at all.  Thanks for that American!

Well, at least I had leg room which proved to afford enough comfort for me to actually sleep on the plane. Interrupted though it proved to be.  Of course, the downside to the bulkhead row is that is where is they tend to put the travelers with infants.  And the one in the row across from us had an impressive set of lungs.  Once that kid managed to start napping, I was awakened by the most obnoxious snorer in history who was residing in the seat behind me.  I put on my headphones, played some classical music, and more or less drowned out the distractions. I was on the aisle though, so with irritating regularity I’d be bumped and jostled by folks making their way to the lavatory.  Ah well, the joy of flying and all that.

Arrived in Dallas with 2 hours to clear customs and then the real fun began. Being a U.S citizen myself and with Jee Yeun’s permanent residence status we were directed to an automated kiosk to handle the immigration process.  It actually worked like a charm, except Jee Yeun got flagged.  Which meant we were directed to the long ass immigration line we had previously avoided.  Ah well, we got through that queue just about the time our bags were arriving on the carousel.  Another line for customs where a friendly guy spent time chatting us up about Jee Yeun’s length of stay in Korea and my job there before sending us on our way.

Sadly, our way was blocked by the long line trying to get through security.  Only two TSA agents were doing the screening and they struck me as incompetent, although the four other agents standing around watching them were perhaps merely lazy.  It was more than a little infuriating.  When we finally got through (and redressed) we had thirty minutes to make our connection in terminal B (we were in D) which was doable but would require some hustle. But as we left the security area one of those cart drivers asked what gate and when we said B-35 he said hop on.  That was a first time experience and was much quicker than taking the “sky train” that circumnavigates the airport.

We arrived at B-35 at 6:10 just in time for the announcement that our 6:30 flight was being delayed until 7:45.  And things went downhill from there.  To briefly summarize, DFW is a crappy airport.  It is outdated, poorly designed, and disorganized. Plus, they don’t offer any designated smoking vaping areas inside the airport. Also, the WiFi sucks.   I didn’t have a working phone to call my daughter and say we’d be arriving late.  Two different pay phones wouldn’t accept my credit card.  So, we got the best WiFi signal we could find, sent a message via Facebook and hoped it worked.

With time to kill I reconnoitered the B terminal security line and judged I’d have plenty of time to enjoy some vape and re-enter the airport long before my delayed flight would depart. Jee Yeun wanted to shop around some so we agreed to reconvene at our gate at 7:00. As I completed my security screening at 6:50 I heard my name and Jee’s being called over the airport PA system.  Seems our plane was ready to depart with or without us.  So, I ran through the airport like only a fat old man can (not a pretty sight, trust me) and made it to gate B-45.  Only then realizing I was supposed to be at gate B-35.  So I did some more running in the opposite direction and reached the gate after it was closed.  The plane was still there however, so I found an agent willing to go down and see if they’d let me board.  I assumed Jee was already on the plane wondering where in the hell I was. The agent came back and told me the pilot had said “no more passengers”.  Which as it turns out was provident because Jee Yeun was not on the plane.  She walked up just as our plane was backing away from the gate.  If I had boarded and not found Jee Yeun there I would have had to fight my way back off the plane.  No way I’d abandon her in Texas with no money and no clue.

Nothing to do now but find an alternative route to Columbia.  I berated the agent who had made the 7:45 departure announcement, but truthfully I know these things can be fluid and I should have stayed within earshot of the updated announcements. The agent said the next flight with seats available was 6:30 p.m. the next day.  She said there was one at 6:30 a.m. that was sold out but we could try standby.  I didn’t like either of those options and told her I needed to fly tonight.  What about Charlotte I asked?  She said yes, there’s a flight out of B-41 at 8:10 and it has seats!  It took her an inordinate amount of time for her to do the massive keystrokes involved in completing the re-booking.  She finally called another agent over for help, and she told her she had forgot a step in the process.  Her tone and body language added an unspoken “dumb ass”.  Finally we had our new boarding passes in hand and we scurried off towards our new gate.  Before we got there I actually looked at the boarding pass which said I was going to Charleston.  The first word that came to mind was dumb ass.

So it was back to the agent who had first called the dumb ass dumb ass.  It took her awhile and some assistance from a supervisor (who’s the dumb ass now?) but she got us booked on the 8:10 flight to Charlotte.  Problem was, it was 7:45 by now and the plane was departing from D terminal.  So I got to ride the dreaded Sky Train after all.  Of course, like a dumb ass I got on going in the wrong direction which meant I had to visit every damn terminal stop before we came back around to D.  It was 8:05 when we detrained but luck was finally with us–the gate was relatively close to the station and the flight was delayed by 15 minutes.  Despite it being a full flight, I even managed to get me and Jee seated together. We connected with the daughter again via FB and she agreed to meet us in Charlotte.  And we were off on our detour to North Carolina.

Wheels down landing and then off to the agreed upon rendezvous point at baggage claim. Not that we had any baggage to claim, ours had made the trip to Columbia as originally planned.  No daughter in site, so Jee Yeun bummed a phone and we were finally able to hook up with our ride home.

Jee Yeun was a little distressed because all of her carefully purchased Korean food items (including her kimchi) were in the bags at the Columbia airport.  It was 1:30 a.m. by now and that burg of an airport had long since shut down for the night.  So we made a stop at a 24 hour Wal-Mart and stocked up with enough rice and noodles to get us through the night and morning.

Made it to bed at 3:30 a.m. and woke up just a little before 8.  Drove the daughter’s car to the Columbia airport and retrieved our luggage without incident.  Then it was off to Enterprise to rent a car for the next ten days.  When it came to the part about proof of insurance, I gave them the name of my agent.  The counter guy called and came back to say my policy had expired in 2012.  I found that odd since I had renewed my policy in January.  So I got on the phone with the insurance company and we argued back and forth for awhile before I exclaimed in exasperation “I’m done with Traveler’s insurance!” The agent lady said “what?  we don’t handle Traveler’s insurance!”  I felt like a dumb ass then.  Anyway, the rental folks called Traveler’s and confirmed my coverage and I got the car.  A very nice Hyundai Accent.

We drove it to Planet Vapor where I restocked on vaping oil and bought a new and more powerful e-cigarette.  Jee Yeun was hungry and guess what she wanted–Korean food. Well, it’s understandable we had been out of Korea for almost 24 hours after all.

It was okay I guess, but not as good as the stuff back home.

It was okay I guess, but not as good as the stuff back home.

Next stop was the Korean market where she stocked up on everything she could conceivably need for the next 10 days, and I’d wager a month after that.  Well, you can’t be too careful I suppose.

I was dragging ass by now so was glad to get back to the house for a little afternoon siesta.  Woke up and got ready for some Friday night darts with the old crew at Rack’s (formerly known as Kwagga).

darts1

Took home second place money which was secondary to the enjoyment of getting reacquainted with old friends.

The check is in the mail

Daughter-in-law shared the good news this morning that the kindly folks at AT&T have issued me a check.  I assume it is a refund of some kind or another from my recently cancelled USA phone service.  Now the only question remaining is where do I spend this unexpected windfall…

Never let it be said that I have no cents.

Never let it be said that I have no cents.

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.

Death and taxes

South Carolina experienced a major hail storm last May.  I was in Korea at the time, but when I returned to the states in September I was besieged by roofing contractors wanting me to file an insurance claim for a roof replacement.  I finally relented and got a new roof for the price of my insurance deductible.

The house I jointly own with my two brothers (well, we own the mortgage to be precise) also received storm damage.  This house was purchased jointly with my parents and all our names are on the deed.  The mortgage itself only included the name of my father and younger brother Greg.  I was the executor of my parent’s estate, and the probate attorney advised that since we brothers were all on the deed under the law the house passed to us so it was not included in the dispensation rendered by the probate court. We’ve been renting the house out to my son ever since.

I had my son contact the insurance company to send out an adjuster, but they refused to deal with him since his name is not on the policy.  So I asked my older brother Keith who lives in California to contact brother Greg who is a long distance trucker (and doesn’t use email) and have him talk to the insurance folks.  He must have done so, because a few weeks ago an adjuster came to the house and shortly thereafter a check for $14,000 came in the mail.  Except the check was issued in my deceased father’s name.

I had closed all the estate bank accounts at the conclusion of probate three years ago, so there is no way to cash a check issued to my dead dad.  Greg contacted the insurance people to have them re-issue the check in his name, but they refused to do so. And then they cancelled the policy because the house is not owner occupied.  Fuckers. They did say they “might” consider issuing the check to the estate executor.  Of course, I’m in Korea and have no way to prove I’m the executor having not had the foresight to bring such documentation with me.  I was given a name to contact at the insurance company and I’ve stayed up late and gotten up early the last two days to do so only to be answered by voice mail.  I may have to enlist the assistance of the probate attorney although I am not so naive as think that will happen for free.  Or maybe I’ll just go all American and sue their sorry asses, which I suppose won’t be any easier from Korea either.  A major pain in the ass is what this is for sure.

As if that were not enough frustration it’s also time to get my taxes done.  Now, I’m resigned to letting Uncle Sam and his cousin in South Carolina take their annual bite out of my ass.  But facilitating the prerequisite document transfer has proven to more daunting than I expected.  My accountant in SC sent me the intake form via email, of which I’m instructed to complete and email back along with all my other tax related paperwork. Which would not be a problem if I had access to the a working printer/scanner.  Alas, the one at the apartment hasn’t worked since our move and I can’t figure out why.  And the one at my office stopped working several weeks ago and trying to get that repaired has proven to be a bureaucratic nightmare.  Not even going to try and relate those events because I’m already pissed enough.

As soon as I complete this post (even I can’t ramble on forever) I’m going to head out to Yongsan Garrison and purchase a new printer with a scanner function at the PX.  Then I’ll lug the damn thing home and get to work on them taxes.

To end this post on a more positive note, I spoke with the woman who would be my boss were I to be re-employed with my former organization.  Although she couldn’t officially make a job offer until my hiring package has been approved by the commander, said package has been submitted.  So, there’s a hurdle successfully, well, hurdled.  Now, I can wait for more news in the hopefully not too distant future.

Also, I’d rather be alive than dead.  So there’s that.

For all these years

(In celebration of ten years of blogging here at LTG, each week for the next 52 51 50 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 January 1, 2005 I found myself thinking (and blogging) about my life in Oklahoma in a post called “Journey through the past”.  Ten years later I’m thinking the more things change, the more they remain the same.

And that I guess leads to my current insight on this New Years morning. I never really had a plan for life, I just reacted to it. Whenever I reached a crossroad, I chose a direction and followed the road without a clue as to where it might take me. I guess it is natural to wonder about the paths that would have led to a different life, but you only get to live the life you chose. No mulligans. But I have been extremely fortunate and blessed. Good people got hurt along the way, and for that I am truly sorry. But the roads I have taken have led to some great adventures and life-altering experiences. A fool’s luck perhaps, but even though I could never have imagined what my life would turn out to be, it has been a very nice ride.

So it is time to look forward again. This year brings a new road in Seoul, Korea. And it will be an adventure with an uncertain outcome for sure. My point (if there is one) is just to say I have discovered that it is important to take the time to enjoy the life you are living even as you chase rainbows. I think I missed the best part of Oklahoma and it is only in looking back that I realize that I should have allowed myself to be happy there.

 

 

The last hurrah

Had a nice, but bittersweet, farewell at Kwagga tonight.  It was really good to see some old friends one last time before I leave for who knows how long.  I know I wallowed in a fair amount of self-pity these past few months, but lately I’m reminded that there are folks out there who do care.

We had a very nice turnout tonight.  Folks said goodbye to me and we all said our goodbyes to Kwagga Sports Pub, closing for good on the 15th.

We had a very nice turnout tonight. Folks said goodbye to me and we all said our goodbyes to Kwagga Sports Pub, closing for good on the 15th.

Kwagga's proprietors, Ben and Dirk.  Sad to see their business fail, but they gave it a shot and made some friends along the way.

Kwagga’s proprietors, Ben and Dirk. Sad to see their business fail, but they gave it a shot and made some friends along the way.

Well, it is after midnight and my alarm is set for 0400.  We’ll see how that works out.  I’m a little concerned that I’m growing stupid lately.  I had the microwave incident this afternoon, and tonight I got almost all the way home from Kwagga when I realized I didn’t have my darts.  So I turned around and went back to get them.  When I got to the bar I went back to the table where I had left them and they were gone.  I was thinking “oh shit, someone has stolen my darts!”.  And then I noticed they were securely fastened to my belt where they had been all along.

Damn, maybe all I’m qualified to be is a Wal-Mart greeter.  Here’s hoping the stupid wears off soon.

Crunch time

Seventeen hours left in this iteration of my American life.

Did my online check-in with Delta this morning.  Since it’s a one-way flight they asked whether I had a visa.  I don’t yet, but hopefully my offer letter and USFK documents will suffice to let me board the plane.

Went to the post office and mailed two medium size boxes containing Jee Yeun’s shoes and “must-have” clothing items.  That set me back $175, but I reckon if I had to allow a shopping spree at Hyundai Department Store it would have cost me a lot more.  So there’s that.  Also submitted my official Postal Service change of address card.

Swung by the Goodwill store and donated a large bag of clothes I didn’t expect to ever wear again.

Then it was over to Walgreen’s which is an official Toys for Tots drop off point.  In addition to the toys we collected at the charity dart tournament on Saturday, I also converted the cash donations into toys.

Filled the Toys for Tots collection box to overflowing.  Made me feel a little like Santa Claus.  Lord knows I have the belly for the job!

Filled the Toys for Tots collection box to overflowing. Made me feel a little like Santa Claus. Lord knows I have the belly for the job!

Came home hungry so I popped my last frozen dinner into the microwave.  I got distracted on Facebook and then realized that either I was experiencing the longest three minutes in history or I had somehow screwed up.  It was the latter…I had inadvertently set the timer to thirty minutes.  D’oh!

My renter/roommate came by on his lunch hour to transfer utilities which proved to be a rather large pain in the ass.  He worked the water and electricity while I dealt with the TV/Internet from ATT Uverse.  That turned out to be an incredibly convoluted process.  When I called the 800 number I was told that a transfer had to be done online.  Except I wasn’t able to login online.  Called back and got a new password, but when I went to the transfer service page, my new password would not work.  So I went to online support where an incompetent support person sent me a new password.  Which didn’t work either.  So he transferred to another tech who after about 30 minutes was able to get me set up.  I thought my head was going to explode at several points, but I eventually prevailed.

Still to do: cramming some last minute items into my suitcases and praying neither is more than the fifty pound maximum.  I also need to drop the TV box off at the UPS store (my renter is not keeping television service.  I have a check to deposit at the bank, and I need to get a haircut.

Tonight I’ll make my final appearance at Kwagga for some darts with a buddy who is driving in from Atlanta to say goodbye in person.  I then I need to wake up at 0400 to get to the airport in time for my 0700 flight.

Wish me luck!.

It was a hard days night

Worked the swing shift at Kwagga Sports Pub last night, throwing darts from 3:00 till 11:00.  Started with our Toys for Tots charity event which my partner and I managed to win.  Then we followed up with a singles tourney which I managed to win as well.

Of course the real winners were the kids.  We collected some toys and $80 in cash to make Christmas morning a little happier for some needy boys and girls.

Of course the real winners were the kids. We collected some toys and $80 in cash to make Christmas morning a little happier for some needy boys and girls.

Kwagga Sports Pub hosted the event and provided some cash to the winners and some very nice bar swag (I took home a case of beer!).  It was a bittersweet day as sadly the bar is shutting it’s doors for good on December 15.  They did a lot to help us grow darts in Columbia.  A few unfortunate incidents and misunderstandings resulted in a significant loss of customer base that couldn’t be overcome.  If I weren’t moving, and had the time, money and inclination, I think I could make a go of the place though.  Well, maybe in another lifetime.

Thanks for the memories!

Thanks for the memories!