Wednesday, December 19

Live Music (from Cat and Girl)

Here's the most recent posting from one of my favorite web-comics, Cat and Girl.

Click it for the large version and be sure to visit the artist's site.

Wednesday, December 5

1851 Hours Since Install

We've been in Mokpo for just over a year and I can just barely recall those bewildering first few hours as Rachel and I walked around the city after the long drive down from the airport in Seoul. The flight over from the States was long, but- thanks to the miracle of pharmaceuticals- I slept through most of it and was fresh as a daisy as we stepped out into the rotten fish smell and weak, early morning light. We walked down to the open air market and watched as the stalls were set up by sleepy-eyed Koreans. We walked through Shinay (downtown) and I was happy to see the golden arches of one of the two McDonald's here in town. I bowed at every local we passed and practiced spitting in a manly, Korean way. (Rachel: "Easy. You're trying too hard.")

Since that first morning, I have made a lot of friends among the Western community and among the Koreans staffing our regular bakery, vegetable stand and bodegas. I have eaten a lot of good food (including McDonald's, which tastes better 7500 miles from home). I have seen drunk Koreans passed out on sidewalks and had to step over their vomit, seen one drunk Korean slapping the hell out of another (just last night, in fact).

I have enjoyed innumerable death-defying taxi rides, bus rides and even an afternoon on a tandem bike that was scarier than any cab, bus or roller-coaster I've ever ridden. Rachel and I are waiting for our son to be born and that's scarier than... well, everything.

There's so much more wackiness I'd love to share, but like those first few hours, it's all kind of hazy as new impressions are constantly flooding in...

It's been a great year.

(BTW: This post's title comes from the Firefox add-on, Time Tracker. I installed it on November 26, 2006, and since that date, Rachel and I have spent 1851 hours on-line. So... 375 days ago: that's an average of 4.936 hours a day on the Internet. Boo-yah.)

Listening to: Beastie Boys - [Hello Nasty CD01 #10] Flowin' Prose [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 9

Elitist Scum: That's Me

First, a brief rant. Then a comic!

Complaining about the state of modern music is like pissing in the wind. You poseurs who swallow everything corporate-rock radio spews at you can keep your Linkin Park and Seether. The music is created on an angst assembly line and has no merit. NO MERIT!

I have had (and read) arguments about how crappy rock has become and the chief defenders (read: apologists) always return to one of two points. The first: "That's just your opinion." Sure, it's just my opinion, but that doesn't make the music any better. Those bands still suck. Their music is still predictable. The albums won't grow on you if you listen to them repeatedly. At best, after a decade of hanging on to that Avenged Sevenfold CD, you'll have a shiny coaster and memories of puking up your guts at so-and-so's keg party.

The second point is just ridiculous. It usually goes something like this: "It's music for teenagers. Think about what you listened to when you were that age." This is just bullshit. I could handle it if that was true, but I have listened to these radio stations and, in between advertisements for strip-clubs and happy hour at the meat-market, most of the callers are in their twenties or older. If this is music for teens, it's time for an entire generation to grow up.

Man, I feel old after all that. Anyways, here's the comic (from xkcd). Click it for the big version.

BTW: The new Wilco album is kicking back:

Listening to: Farmer John- Premiers [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 5

White Wizard, White Cat

Not much to report from the Land of Morning Calm. This past weekend we had a small beach party and today we got a new washing machine: good times.

Rachel is feeling a constant pressure on her bladder, so she spends most of the day in transit to and from the bathroom. When you stop to think about it, it's really kind of disgusting that there's a little person growing inside of her. The miracle of life is gross. Don't think I'm not excited about the bun in the oven... I'm just squeamish about the baking process. (And the umbilical cord that falls off two weeks after the child is born. Ick.)

Here's a picture of Baby Gandalf. You can't see much, but it's a little early for yearbook photos. (The baby-shaped silhouette is actually just a coincidence. The actual baby, when the picture was taken back in September, was still only a few centimeters across. If you click on the picture, you'll see the large version with the OB/GYN's cursor marking the little guy's location.)

And finally, here's a picture of Bob, the Best Cat Ever, napping in the sock drawer.

BTW: Thanks to Travis and Bella for the use of their scanner!

Listening to: 08 - Upgrade (A Brymar College Course) [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 30

Ten Years After

Back in April, Rachel and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. Our second year of marriage is progressing nicely- there's a boy-child on the way, we've signed on for another year in Mokpo, the dog and cat are happy and content... Tomorrow marks another anniversary in our life together: it has been ten years since we met for the first time.

1997: Tim Miller had just hired a cute little high-school girl as a promotions assistant at WOMG where I had been working for about six months doing many of the odd jobs delegated to part-timers. We were both scheduled to man the booth at the Richland Mall Halloween party. Jay Philips was hosting the event along with his wife, Sunny- he was dressed as a knight, she as his maiden fair. Rachel and I wore station t-shirts and handed out stickers to an endless line of ghosts, witches, and Ninja Turtles, all the while laughing and talking and laughing some more.

An instant rapport developed between us: we both loved the station's music (especially The Beatles!), we were both movie snobs, and, though neither of us would have chosen to spend a Friday night at the mall, we made the best of an opportunity to people watch (and mock). We also jumped right into the first of many push-and-pull, confrontational conversations we would have over the next few years. (BTW: These conversations still happen, only now they usually end with Rachel telling me to "shut the hell up," as is her wife's prerogative, of course.)

We worked together often, after that night. Promotions, air-shifts, station emergencies (like when the CD tower broke and we had to play Christmas music for 10 overnight hours, manually cuing each song, praying it would be ready to play before the previous song ended)... she seemed always to be there. Little did I know she was plotting a future for us.

I don't think she planned for our current situation: married, living in Korea, and expecting a child... Oh well, life really is full of surprises, and though we've had some rocky times here and there, I wouldn't change a thing. In her less confrontational moments, I think she'd admit the same.

Happy Ten Years of Knowing You, Baby... With little Gandalf on the way, I look forward to many more decades of friendship and laughing and talking and laughing and love and always laughing...

Listening to: 08 - In My Life [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 29

Good News Everybody!

We had a great walk with Jack this past Saturday, down at Peace Park and in Hadang. The weather was perfect and the weekend crowd was a little thinner than usual. We enjoyed pizza in a cup, while Jack was gang-petted by a bunch of little kids. I saw my first dancing-girl grand-opening- a sight I had heard about many times, but always seemed to miss. There was even a guy holding the two purses of his pair of female companions.

Scroll past the pictures for the good news...

...and now for the good news: WE'RE HAVING A BOY! Rachel visited the OB/GYN last week and had her monthly ultra-sound. Everything is progressing well, the baby is twitching and sucking its thumb and we couldn't be happier. Now all we need is a name... what do you think about "Herschel"?

Monday, October 15

ATM Assignation

Oh, thank Jebus- Rachel returns tomorrow. It's a good thing, too, since I was starting to lose it. Apparently, I'm not the only one: On Friday, while I was waiting my turn outside a busy ATM, I was approached by a 50 year old Korean woman. She motioned for me to remove my headphones and, in pretty decent English, asked where I was from.

"USA," I said, and pointing to myself, "megook (American)."

"Oh, meegook," she responded excitedly, taking my hand in both of hers "How long Korea?" she asked.

"One year."

"You teacher?"

"No," I said, "my wife is a teacher. I play Halo and clean the house." This, I think, went over her head, though she did seem a little disappointed to hear I have a wife.

"Oh, wife-oo." Still holding my hand.

"Neh," I said- Korean for yes.

"You come have copi (coffee)?"

"No, I'm waiting for the ATM, then I have to pay some bills. Sorry." By this time others had skipped past me to use the machine, and I was stuck waiting a bit longer, still holding hands with this strange little person.

"Okay," she said and stared longingly(?) at me. Finally and gently she dropped my hand. Then she leaned in towards me- I saw it coming and wished I had a sneeze or something ready- and puckered her lips. "Kiss me?" she asked.

"No!" I didn't quite shout it but I felt bad for denying her. Hey, she just wanted a little loving, but there was no way in hell she was getting it from this white boy. "I am married," I said, hoping she would think I was just a shy, devoted married man- and not that I was grossed out by those cracked, dessicated lips.

She took it alright. Gave me a big smile and said, "Okay! Bye-bye." She walked off and blended with the busy sidewalk traffic.
I made it to the ATM, payed the bills, and found my way home to a long, hot shower. The sooner my wife arrives in Mokpo, the sooner life can return to normalcy- or what passes for normal in this strange place.

Listening to: Frank Black - [Teenager Of The Year #01] Whatever Happened To Pong [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 3

Blogposts from the Edge 3

My Dearest One,

I have only a few moments to scrawl this message before my squad moves out into the field. Today we are leading an assault on yet another unimportant hill. Sometimes I think the boys up in HQ forget we are real people under all this armor. Day after day- and every single night- we huddle in our bunkers, ducking sniper fire, and wishing we were home. The worst part is listening to incoming artillery and waiting for the one with our name on it. Then it's up and out of the bunker and into the jaws of enemy fire from where most of us will not return. That's how I got this new stripe on my sleeve. Sarge took one for the team last night and I got a field promotion. I hope the extra cash will buy you something pretty. I hope the extra stripe doesn't buy me the farm.

It's not all bad, of course. Basic training was cake after all those years on Papa's farm. Learning to run with the armor was the toughest bit: you have to develop a kind of gliding gait and let the suit's internal actuators handle the load. Firearms and grenade training were fun- after the endless hours of safety instruction. The weapons are pretty neat and all pack a hell of a punch, which is good and bad since the enemy has the same tech.

Let me tell you about the enemy, the Reds. Those dirty bastards are master snipers at distance, but will happily stick you with a brute grenade to save a rifle round if they can get close enough. They are a scourge on the face of the earth and- though the conditions are horrible, the food little better than excrement and the weather as likely to kill you as one of their bullets- they must be stopped.

But enough of that. Let me tell you about the boys in my squad. (That's them in the picture with me on the far left.) They all swap stories about the "sweethearts" back home: bawdy tales of fast cars and faster women, with each trooper trying to outdo the last in terms of debauchery and sin. The Chief, stoic that he is, never participates in these bull sessions, so when it come my turn to share I follow his example and I keep my lips sealed.

The one time they pressed me on it I broke all their hearts. I told them about your apple pie and baked ziti. I told them about your angelic voice and how your solos in the church choir leave nary a dry eye among the pews. I mentioned the time we drove up into the mountains to return that red-tailed hawk to the wild. I mentioned the aluminum can drives and food drives and winter coat drives. I told them of every kind thing I ever saw you do and how our devotion is pure and beautiful and unspoiled by the distance between us, the war I'm fighting.

I told them why I fight: for the love of a good woman, for her safety, for our child that she still carries and his future. Like I said, I broke their hearts. Like mine is breaking here without you. That war is hell, everyone knows. What most people fail to realize is the hell within, the worry and unabated anticipation of return home. Whether in a body bag or as a decorated hero we'll never know- not until the constant pop and snap of high caliber rifle rounds stops echoing and the bombs stop falling, waking us from dreams of the farm and apple pie.

I must go now, my lover. May you have peace in my absence and remember our song...

There's a far and distant river
Where the roses are in bloom
A sweetheart who is waiting there for me
And it's there I pray you take me
I've been faithful, don't forsake me
I'll be with her when the roses bloom again

Your Loving Husband and Faithful Soldier,

Monday, September 24

Blogposts from the Edge 2

Dearest Rachel,

Another short note, here, to keep you up to date on the Mokpo season.

Last night was spent in engaging and fruitful conversation at the Old Mokpo home of Jamie and Leah. Joining the soirée was Rocky Mountain Mike; Cary and Lacey; new addition to the Mokpo scene, Laura, late of Minnesota; and native residents Tim and his wife, whose name I heard over and over but was unable to parse. Also attending, and the belle of the bash, Peanut the dog, an incurable flirt who passed through more laps than a Heinlein heroine.

Our gracious hostess prepared an interesting Mexican dish that was one part cheese, one part sour cream and two parts delicious, all wrapped in soft tortilla. The refreshments were even more exquisite than the bon mot Mike produced at the expense of a certain young lady (whose name will go unmentioned here for it was a scandalously rich remark that will be repeated and savored over the coming months regardless of my own discretion.)

Later in the evening, Leah and yours truly locked horns in a debate regarding the relative merits of snobbery and the (devolving, I contended) aesthetics of popular culture. It was a friendly pow-wow, of course, though I am afraid our Canadian friend has been subverted by the doctrines of Spielberg, Donner and Cameron. All philosophers, true, but to my mind, poor substitutes for Altman, Hitchcock, and Boorman. In the end, however, we were able to agree on one fact: Toy Story is a great motion picture.

The evening wrapped up rather late, so I am writing this with very little sleep on a cloudy Mokpo morning and I've only time for a short siesta before returning the favor of hosting for friend Jamie. Electronical gaming is on the menu.

"I hate it here,
When you're gone

As always, I remain your loving husband,

Listening to: God Only Knows [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Friday, September 21

Blog Posts from the Edge 1

Dearest Rachel,

In speaking to your father, my esteemed father-in-law, I
have learned of your safe arrival in Columbia. This is very good news, as I have spent this past night in an apprehensive state, and in dreaming all sorts of terrible dreams. That is past, now, since you are in good hands with your family. I understand you are catching up on some much needed sleep. Good for you!

News from Mokpo is minimal. The dog, Jack, misses you, of course. He has been moping since your departure. Actually his despondence set in when he realized you would not be home from work to feed him. I have tried to engage him in games of 'Fetch' and 'No Bite', but, alas, he is too crestfallen for frivolity. I have planned a short hike for this afternoon to try to raise his spirits.

Our favorite, fuzzy, feline menace, Bob, is nonplussed by your absence. He has been his normal aloof self. Last night, as I drifted off to sleep, we held a staring competition. I awoke this morning with his eyes boring into mine, so I must assume he was the winner.

Beloved friend Travis has updated his MySpace page with dozens of photos, so be sure to leave a message and compliment his burgeoning aesthetic skills. I will see him and his wife, the beautiful Bella, later tonight as we dine with our cousins from the Northwest, Cary and Lacey. Shabu-shabu is on the menu and I am skipping lunch to leave room in my interior pantry.

A strange odor has invaded our home: it smells like burning rubber mixed with low tide. I have been sniffing the air from room to room, trying to discover its cause- to no avail. I guess it is coming in from the outside, its source some kind of tire fire-cum-fishkill. Hopefully, the breeze will soon offer relief from this
malodorous olfactory assault.

This meager note is all I have to write for the moment. Please respond soon, as a single word from you will do wonders for my outlook.

You are my heartbeat.

Your loving husband,

Listening to: Sparklehorse - [Sick Of Goodbyes -single CD2 #02] I shot a dog [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, September 20

Oh Lord, She's Stuck in Incheon Again

Rachel is traveling back to the states for a few weeks to recharge the batteries before we begin our second year in Mokpo and the adventure of parenthood. Her trip is not off to a good start, however, as she is stuck in an airport hotel in Incheon. Cursing.

After four hours of sitting inside the plane, on the tarmac, Delta has arranged to put all the passengers on a flight first thing in the morning. It really screws up her connecting flight schedule from Atlanta to Charlotte, NC, but at least she has internet access and a hot-tub in her room.

**Update** Rachel is arriving in Atlanta around 10:30am and connecting to arrive at Charlotte/Douglas at 1:30pm. Wish her luck!

**Update 2** She made it! Rachel is resting safely in her old bedroom at her parents house. I'm sure she'll have a couple days suffering from jetlag, so if you're on her list, just be patient and you'll get to bask in her presence soon enough. (When I say 'bask' I mean it! She's freaking GLOWING- but don't tell her that. "I don't want to glow," she says. "But you're pregnant. You don't have a choice," I say. "No! Do not want!" "Too bad..." Anyways, it goes on like that for a while then one of us leaves the room.)

Listening to: Sparklehorse - [Good Morning Spider #14] Ghost Of His Smile [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 18

Free Money

Hi there. Here's a bit of shameless self-promotion for your Tuesday. Enjoy!

I have a bit of audio/video editing work posted at that's waiting for your vote of confidence. There's a chance for me to earn $250 and the approval of my peers. Just click here and you'll be taken to the site. Feel free to poke around, be sure to watch the video and give me a good rating by clicking on the stars below the video player. You are, after all, my friends and family.

Leave a comment if you have any questions about GeniusRocket or my entry.

OK. Self-promotion ends now. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 12

Another Strange Saturday in Peace Park

This past weekend we went to Peace Park with Dave & Camille and Jamie & Leah. (It sure is weird being a real person: hanging out with couples, expecting a baby, worrying about taxes and the future. Psht, whatever.)

The dog had a blast, the bipeds a great time and, as usual, the Koreans put on a freak show for us. There were kids dressed as anime characters, kids doing magic and playing instruments. There was an exhibit on reproduction and proper condom use and Dancin' Dave even won the chance to make a wish. Good times. (Click any picture for its large version.)

Wednesday, September 5

The Rain, the Park and Other Things

Typhoon Fitow is apparently going to clobber Japan over the next couple of days. Here in Mokpo, we were worried the storm would cross the island and hit the southern tip of the Korean peninsula.If the models hold true, however, all we'll see is a little rain. Here's the latest projection from Weather Underground:

It's already been raining for a few days, though I don't know what that has to do with the typhoon. Maybe it's just that time of year? Fortunately, the temperatures have dropped almost twenty degrees, almost overnight: from the 90's into the 70's. Unfortunately, the rain has prevented us from leaving the house. (BTW: Jamie [North Carolina] totally called this one. We hung out with him and Leah on Thursday of last week. When we complained about the heat he said, "Don't worry, when it changes, it'll be like somebody flipped a switch." And he was right- two days later that switch was flipped and it is blessedly cool, if a little very damp.)

Oh yeah... Rachel's pregnant! We're expecting our first child on March 13, 2008. She's at about three months now and we are both very excited. Wish us luck!

Monday, August 27

Inconstant Moon

I hope you'll have clear skies for tomorrow's lunar eclipse. There's a viewing guide here, or here. In anticipation of the light show, enjoy a couple pictures from last night's moon-set over Yudal-san (Mt. Yudal.)

The pictures here don't really do justice to what was a beautiful sight: the moon setting behind the mountain's mist-shrouded peak was all very Lord of the Rings and worth every mosquito bite I received while taking the photos.

Tuesday, August 21

Bonus Jeju Picture

Well, Jon made it back safe from his China trip. He stopped in for some video games, this afternoon, and brought his digital camera. Here's a picture he snapped from our first day in Jeju. (I wanted to get a picture of the burning truck, but Jon, the bastard, wouldn't let me stop for camera batteries on the way to Seogwipo.)

(BTW: I know I said no more Jeju pictures, but, come on, it's a truck... on fire!)

Sunday, August 5

Jack Skippy

We finished a jar of peanut butter and, instead of scraping the last bits out, we gave the jar to the dog. He licked and licked the inside of that jar until it almost sparkled. As you can see in the picture, he was in heaven. By the time he was finished he looked like he was coming down off a three day bender: peanut butter DT's are not cool.

Thursday, August 2

End of the Line (Jeju Photos 7)

Here are the last of the Jeju photos, thank you Jebus! We had a lot of fun, but frankly, I'm pretty sick of posting these damn things.

The first few are from the Manjanggul Lava Tubes which formed sometime between 300k and 100k years ago. Just in time for a quick visit on our way to the ferry terminal.

The rest of the pics are from the trip home. I have to say, arriving in Mokpo- after only three days away- really did feel like coming home.

Whew! Glad that's done... now I can play some video games and relax.

Wednesday, August 1

Dime Stores and Bus Stations (Jeju Photos 6)

Our final day on Jeju started early. Our ferry was leaving at 2pm and we wanted to see the World's Longest Lava Tube... Here are some pictures from the bus ride to said tube. Included is a shot of Jon with the ladies at the Jeju Folk Art Complex who were very sweet to a couple of traveling white boys.

BTW: The title of this post is from a very excellent Bob Dylan tune: "Love Minus Zero/No Limit". Hear a live verion from 1992 (at San Jose State University).

Man, is this post multimedia or what??