Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Terrible Idea

My son is four months old now. He is really cute. I think so, and it tends to be the consensus of all of the people who see him when we go out. The guy gets a lot of attention and he is happy to smile at his adoring fans.

Sometimes they get a little Bieber crazy and actually touch him...without permission. This one crazy guy on the street came up to him and started playing with his feet while he was in in his stroller. Some lady in Homeplus came up to him and touched his head.

My wife has joked about baby modeling to help pay for his college, but I don't think that is a good idea. I don't trust people in show business. But I did come up with another terrible idea from which we can make a little side cash off this baby, and perhaps it would be a good way to get people to leave him alone when we are out and about.

The terrible idea:
My son can become a living advertizement for my sperm samples. All I have to do is get a little bumper sticker that says that with my phone number and post it above his head in the stroller. Good people would probably get offended and leave. People with fertility problems might take the number down and give me a call.

I think it's a win win win situation. People will leave me alone at the store. I can earn a little cash on the side. Also I can charge my trip to Baskin Robbins as a part of the delivery expenses. If you have ever been to Baskin Robbins in Korea, and if you have ever gotten a pint of ice cream to go, you would know that they ask you how long it takes to get to your house and then they chip off some dry ice to pack with the pints.

They can just ask me, "Hey how long does it take to get to your house?"

I can say, "One to two business days." They will then give me a bowl of dry ice that I can then use to pack with my sample to send to hopeful couples.

Everybody wins...except my son if he ever finds out about it. That would be the time to do the whole midnight runner thing.

*This blog post should be submitted for "worst father of the year award."

**This is one of those times when I'm happy that nobody reads this damn thing.

***I'm sure glad I didn't post the video or express my opinion about that guy issuing a beat down on the bus, that would make this post look really bad, also people might actually come here to hear my thoughts on the matter...which they really shouldn't care about, I'm not that bright.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Odds and Ends

1. I'm calling off my Fatwa on Nic Kun's femurs. Most of the traffic to this site comes from a picture of Nic Kun that I ganked off of google. I've been happily married for two years and I don't have any beef with the guy anymore.

2. It turns out that the search term "Fantastic New Ab Workout," ranks this site's post as #4. I'm sorry to announce that I haven't taken the taxi very often and I haven't had the opportunity to test the theory of pulsating progression-a term that I made up-for abs. I'm also still number two for Ring Pang Donuts. This is a very misleading blog, Donuts and Abs.

3. I went to the tailor today to order a shirt. My waist and chest measurements are smaller. I think it is because I ride my bike to work a lot these days. I also practice Taekyon which involves a lot of abdominal lunging. I still don't have a six pack, I had one last Friday, but it is down to a one pack. Homeplus had "Fosters," beer on sale for 7950 won. "Fosters Australian for Beer," except for in Australia.

4. I'm very proud of the post after this one. No comments on it, that sucks, my favorite posts never get comments. Neither do my videos. Well I have one video where I made tacos that got a lot of comments, but my martial arts stuff never did. Oh, but anyway, when I was writing the post about bikes and dinosaurs I heard all of these noises outside of my apartment. This dude was totally vandalizing some cars really loudly, and he got arrested. He was vandalizing some cars in the parking lot right below my apartment really loudly. Anyway I looked out the window and saw the police chuck some shirtless guy into their car. I'm going to miss this apartment.

5. It's time for a beer and "Burn Notice."*

*I'm a little embarrassed to be such a fan of U.S.A. original series, "White Collar" and "Suits" are pretty good too.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bikes and Dinosaurs

Bikes and Jinju

Jinju is a great place to go bike riding. Jinju has a large bike path that runs along the river. The bike path spans the city starting at Jinyang lake and ending about seven miles down stream before turning into a gravel path that goes on for about another five hundred yards. I use a bike for my primary mode of transportation. The most time it takes to get anywhere by bike is about twenty minutes. That is, anywhere in the urban part of the city. At my old job it took about thirty five minutes to get to work, and I would usually be covered in sweat by the time I got there.

Jinju is an interesting city because the boundaries of the city are huge. I've heard that land wise it is the fourth largest city in Korea, but the city center is where everybody lives, a lot of Jinju's land is farms and mountains on the outskirts. For example, my wife's family comes from Jinju. Both her father and mother come from the countryside. When my mother in law was a kid, she could remember the North Korean army coming to town, executing the mayor, and then stealing a cow before running away to the mountain. It would take them a day to walk downtown and back. The train running heading east takes an hour to get outside of Jinju. There are five country stations that the train stops at before leaving the city.

Bordering Jinju are a few counties and one city. An area in Korea is either desegnated a city or a county depending on how many people live there. Jinju has about 400,000 people, immediately to the East are Uiryeong with 30,000 people, Haman with 60,000 people, and Goseong with another 60,000 people. (More on Goseong later)

The inner area of Jinju is the most populous place. Towns in Korea get designated with various names. I don't know exactly how it works but a town within a city can be called a dong, eub, or myeon. In Jinju it seems to work out that the places with a lot of people in the city proper are called dongs, and the outlying areas are called myeon. I used to work in Geumsan myeon. I was and am still quite fond of Geumsan. Geumsan is turning into a suburb of Jinju. There are some expensive apartments out there. There is also a small lake and the iconic Wol Ah Mountain.


For some reason South Gyeongsang Province is a hot bed of paleontology. The most famous place for fossils that I can think of is in Goseong county. There you can find two dinosaur museums and this special place on the coast that has some dinosaur footprints. It is pretty cool to see the dinosaur footprints but the museum designers made the place look too childish. There are a bunch of big rubber dinosaur models all over the place, and it kind of ruins the view of Goseong's stunning coast. The footprints are just small holes in the ground while the vista from their location is this wonderful inlet harbor where you can see islands and mountains and the silver ocean. At low tide you can walk through a cave to get to another part of the rock beach where you can see some more foot prints. The place is absolutely wonderful. It makes you wonder why anybody in their right mind would live in Gangnam when there is such a place just four hours south. It makes you wonder why there are no yaught clubs or rich guys with sailboats that navigate the south coast. It seems like a big turn off to women if you tell them that you have your own boat in Korea, they would just think that you are a fisherman. (Fishermen probably make a lot of money too though.)

Less well known than the dinosaur footprints in Goseong are the ones that you can find in Jinju. According to the Jinju website. There are three places where you can find fossils. Also, my wife told me that they found a new place somewhat nearby my house that has some more dinosaur footprints. This week, I embarked on three journeys to find these places. Unfortunately I just ended up with some sore legs and some slight disappointment.

Day One Hotandong and Moonsan:

I think that the "Broken Flowers," ost is proper for this section.

As I said before, my wife told me about some kind of news report that they found some dinosaur footprints near my house. The alleged location is somewhere in Hotandong. Hotandong, Gaeyang, and Gajwadong are three ambiguous places somewhere in the vicinity of Gyeongsang National University and an exit for the expressway. My wife wasn't exactly clear as to where the footprints were, but there is a lot of road and building construction in that area so I guessed that it was somewhere around there. I have to admit that I didn't concentrate my efforts to the place where the construction is. Instead I opted to take a quiet country road to see where it would take me. After being on that road for about ten minutes I realized that there was nothing around. The road runs next to the railroad line that goes through some rice fields and fruit farms. I passed a deer farm and ended up in Moonsan Myeon. In the future, Moonsan will become an industrial powerhouse because the government housing company LH is going to move there.

Now the place is famous for pear farms. I kind of hate the town part of Moonsan. It is simply awful. Roads turn into eight way intersections. There are no sidewalks. People don't look where they are going when driving, and they walk down the middle of the road as if cars didn't exist. It's also ugly as sin, just a massive construction project that never ends. No stop lights at those eight street intersections either.

The outside of moonsan is another story though. Last Monday on my bike ride through there, it was nothing but lush green farms and rolling hills.

Anyway, I hooked up with another road that took me by the construction projects, and I didn't see any dinosaur footprints anywhere.

Day 2, Geumsan myeon, Jinseong Myeon, and Moonsan once again.
The first day turned up nothing so I resolved to check the internet to see where a site was that I knew I had read about before. Naver and google earth revealed that there was a site in Jinseong myeon Gajin ri, on mountain 6. There is an easy way to get to Jinseong from my house. You simply take the road between these two mountains.

It is actually much higher than what it looks like in this picture. Instead I opted to try to go around the mountains through Geumsan. So that's what I did. I took the half hour bike ride to Geumsan and stopped off for some doughnuts and coffee at Ring Pang Donuts. (Searches for Ring Pang Donuts bring most of the people who read this blog to this site.)

After that I went in search of my equivalent to the north west passage. I took a road that went next to some mountains for about twenty minutes. I ended up in some place called, 남성마을. There was a pretty cool old style house there. I went up the road further and realized that this particular road was going to drop me off next to geum ho lake, in effect making me go in one big circle.

I then opted to take a ride down a farm road that went between greenhouses. The road ended at a large hill that appeared to be a levee. I asked a farmer who seemed somewhat surprised to see me there if that was the river. He confirmed that that was indeed the south river. (A Korean farmer who looks surprised at a white person just kind of stares at you dead eyed.)

I retreated and turned left at another ally that ran between some green houses. Since I could see more greenhouses in the distance I concluded that this road had to go somewhere. The road ended where the levee seemed to end so I climbed the levee and found that there was another road that snaked along the mountain. Again I figured that the road had to go somewhere, but was disappointed to find that it went to a chicken coop at the bottom of a mountain. I retraced my path back to the levee and saw a gravel path that had some tire tracks in it. I had low hopes for this gravel path since there were big parts that were washed away from erosion. Some parts had mildly deep mud, and other parts had some foot deep puddles.

The path ran next to some rocky cliffs of a to my right mountain, and that mountain gave birth to some mineral springs whose streams ran tributary through my wild road and into the nam river to my left. Foot prints of some cloven hooved animal could be seen from time to time. I thought they looked like deer footprints, but I think they were wild boar. It turned out that the road I was on was this one: I took this picture from google earth. The day that this picture shows was much dryer than last Wednesday.

Anyway I followed the road and eventually came to a bridge. On the other side of the bridge was daegok myeon. My side was Jinseong. I was happy to be on a paved road again, and I headed towards town in search of a brown sign that might say something about dinosaur footprints. I found that sign outside of the Gyeongsang province scientific education office. Jinseong is the home to a few things. There is the Gyeongsang province athletic high school, where select jocks from all of Gyeongsang province can go to high school and train their sports, and there is also the Gyeongsang province science high school, where the smartest science students in all of Gyeongsang province can study science. I ended up at a building that said that it was a bird foot fossil culture center (in Korean).

I had arrived. My destination was not tucked away on some mountain, it was tucked away on a mountain and preserved in a museum. My good luck turned sour I went into the building and found that the the wing of the museum that I wanted to see that day was closed. The lights were turned off and there was a rope saying "don't go in." Bummer.

I decided not to return the way I came. I think this was a mistake. I got to see some cows though. There were some cows sticking their heads out of their barns and onto the road where they licked the air. I filmed, but I'm too lazy to edit the video of my adventure so I'm writing about it instead. So I rode for about another half hour in Jinseong. I came to the road that goes between Wol Ah mountain and decided to try to go around Wol Ah mountain again. So I followed the cow road and ended up near the Jinseong town office.

There are a few roads that go to Moonsan. One is a treacherous expressway, the other is a country road. I followed a country road that passed Jinju country club. On that road I met an old lady who told me that if I followed that road I'd arrive in Moonsan. This was a relief, but I soon discovered that this road went up a steep mountain. I wussed out and walked up most of this mountain, but I took this picture:

At the top of the mountain I was happy to see a sign that said that I was indeed in moonsan.

I coasted down the mountain and walked up another, and coasted down it again. I was then happy to see that the road was flat for a pace, until it wasn't, and I walked up another hill. This time I saw an old guy who was doing some landscaping next to a hospital. He told me to ride my bike and stop being such a pussy. I obeyed and then went down this hill.

I kept on trucking until I was to the outskirts of moonsan. I wasn't happy to see the sign that said Jinju 12km, but sooner or later I ended up in that shit hole moonsan. Ten minutes later I was to Jinju stadium. A little while after that I was near my house. After that I bought my wife a cup of coffee and took it to her office. Day two complete.

Day Three Dino-disappointment in Naedong
I still had the ridding bug in me after my huge journey on Wednesday. The ride must have been about 15-20 miles. I left my house at ten and got home at three thirty. But I still hadn't seen anything dinosaur like, so I checked another site in Jinju in "Naedong." This location was much closer. Just a bit past the lake and on a small river called the Gahwacheon that meets up with the ocean in Sacheon. This ride went well. I was at the base of Jinju damn when my damn bike decided to act up. The back tire started to rub up against the bar. I pushed on after I kicked the wheel and swore at my bike some. Again I didn't know where I was going but I ended up here:

An information sign revealed that this was the right place. An old lady emerged on the stones and I asked her. I greeted her and she asked me if there were any fish about. I said, "no," and then I asked her where the fossils were. She said that they washed away with the current a few years back...I think, they may have been excavated, but at any rate I didn't see any fossils.

I gathered my bike and limped to a bike shop where the owner re-aligned my wheel. After that it was to McDonalds to try the new burger that has salsa and bacon...verdict, not too bad. I guess I hadn't had enough exercise for that day so I headed to the Taekyon dojang and practiced some kicks and throws.

So no, I didn't see any remnants of the paleolithic era, but I had a pretty damn good time on my bike and saw a lot of beautiful country. I hope some day to make it to the coast. I think that if I follow the gahwacheon I can make it if there is a road that traces the river. Hopefully my story wasn't too boring.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Awsome Ice Building Activities

I found this post in draft form. I started writing it last year. I thought the idea was kind of funny so I decided to finish it off.

We all know the concept of ice breaking. These are the classes at the beginning of each semester where ESL teachers try to engage the students into thinking about what kind of great people we are. It is a way to make the students feel comfortable about speaking English, and comfortable talking with people from other countries.

The problem though is that sometimes the more boring or unattractive elements of each class might seek friendship beyond the classroom when the class is ended. (I'm talking about adult students, kids who were jerks in class are sometimes pretty cool outside of the class.) Now, a lot of times there is nothing wrong with these people, its just that social engagements take time, and if you are married like me having a social engagement with former students that you aren't that interested in takes time a way from spending time with the wife. It also takes time away from seeing your normal friends that you don't get to see that often.

Activity 1: The airing of annoyances.
Pre-teach the language, "It really annoys me when you________________________."
Sit the students in a chair circle and have the students complain about the person next to them. Go clockwise and counter clockwise so that all can be exposed.

Activity 2: How to make other people feel unimportant.
This activity is a roll play. Put the students into groups of three. Write a monologue for one student while his or her partners send text messages to each other. The person speaking the monologue has to try to get the attention of one of the people sending text messages. You can tie this into the previous lesson.

Activity 3: Computer class.
Teach your students all about how to use facebook. Show them how to use the hide friends button.

Activity 4: Mean art
Have your students design some mean greeting cards.

Mean Happy Birthday Card = write "Happy Birthday," on the receipt of some awesome present for somebody you like better. When the birthday boy or birthday girl asks you what you like to do with your I-pad, tell them you don't know, because you gave it to Joe.

Mean Sorry for your Loss = Get a card printer, find a nice picture of the person who passed, buy some card paper, print the picture onto the card. On the inside write, your sorrow cannot match my apathy.

Mean get well soon = Think of all the things that said person might not need in the future. Think of his or her possessions that you want. Practice with the students the phrase: Oh by the way, if you are not going to be needing________________________________.

Activity 5: No follow up question:
Have your students brainstorm topics that interest them. Leave.

Activity 6: Dream Date:
Have students think of qualities that would make for the perfect divorce.

Activity 7: Music Class:
Ask the students who their favorite singers are. If you are an ESL teacher. You are probably some white Canadian or American man who is in his late twenties or thirties. As the students tell you their favorite musicians, bitch about how pathetic the Korean music industry is. Talk about how everything is so fake and how anorexic the girls look. Talk about how gay the boy band members look. And then search around on youtube for some of the shit that you listen to like The Bareneked Ladies, The Dave Mathews Band, or Counting Crows. Sing along with "Mr Jones," creepily go up to one of the women or men in class and then say "She's looking at you, Oh no she's looking at me." "Grey is my favorite color/I feel so symbolic." If you really want to alienate them....have them learn the whole song.

Activity 8: Organize a special conversation class. Have it meet for three hours every two weeks.

Activity 9: Let's Everybody Loose Face.
Teach reported speech. During an oral test, call students out of class one by one. Ask the students what they think of each other. When you hear something juicy tell the person who the rumor was about. Get them to say something about the other person. Repeat until you have enough dirt on your class to teach them

________ said, "__________________________________," about ____________.
name 1 rumor name 2

Activity 10: Acting Class.
Put the students into pairs. Tell the students to study each others' mannerisms. Tell the students to act out an exaggeration that the other person might feel self conscious about.

Don't actually do these lesson plans. You can hurt people's feelings.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Health Food

Sometimes on blogs you see the topic of food. Which country's food is more healthy, America or Korea? I'm going to posit that it is possible to eat much more healthily in America than in Korea, but when you compare what people in to two country's actually eat, I'd say that Koreans in general eat more healthily.

If I stuck to a diet of only my mother-in-law's food, I'm pretty sure that I could shed some pounds. Since I came to Korea the first time, I gained about 20 pounds. I think there are a few reasons for that though.

1. I can actually afford to feed myself nowadays.
2. I don't have a car. If I want to drink some beer, I don't have to worry about getting a D.U.I. dieing in a car accident.
3. My job in America was Taekwondo instructor. My job was literally to exercise every day. When I first started working at the middle school that I quit last March, I started a job where I would stand around for a while and then surf the internet for four or five hours.

In general the diet that a lot of Koreans eat - rice, soup, and vegetables is probably more healthy than what a lot of people in America eat. I'm not going to try to quantify the typical American diet, because America is a beautiful country where people from everywhere lives, and there is no typical American food. A lot of Korean people try to paint Americans as people who eat three squares of hamburgers and steak, but to be fair, I have read some blogs that criticized Korean mothers for feeding their only white rice. There may be people like that, but it has been my experience that people generally add barley, millet, brown rice, or beans to add some fiber. A few years I went on a diet where I would make rice like that, and I lost weight pretty effectively. Barley and rice is a wonderful combination, also studies have found that brown rice lowers blood sugar levels. However, it can be difficult to wolf down a bowl of dry brown rice, so you can add white rice for moisture.

What has surprised me about health food here, though, is not the typical diet of what people eat, it is the bizarre choices that some people label as "healthy."

I'm not talking about dog soup or big bowls of broth and boiled chickens. I am literally talking about things that have oddly been designated as "well being."

For instance, there is a don ggass chain around my house that calls it's self "health food." There is no fucking way that you can call a deep fried pork chop "well being." Ddon ggass is pretty delicious, but if you want to diet, you should probably just stick to the mound of rice and the cabbage salad that comes with the meat.

It doesn't stop there. Today I was watching a show called, "Korea's Got Talent." One of the acts on the show was a group of elementary school kids who did a highly choreographed cheer leading dance. A prologue to the performance was an interview with one of the kid's mom's or coaches who was showing the healthy diet that gave the kids so much energy. This consisted of ham and cheese sandwiches and some fried spam. What the hell?

This shouldn't come as any surprise though. These kids were way too good at what they did to be some kind of amateur operation. They seemed to be some kind of performance team like the Chinese opera or something.

I had an encounter with something like that when I was in middle school. A team of elementary and middle school kids were hosted by my Taekwondo school to do a Taekwondo demo. About 20 kids went on an America tour and went everywhere from Las Vegas to Kalamazoo, Michigan. My family put up about 5 of these kids for two or three nights. This was a step up from sleeping in a gymnasium in Las Vegas one night....

But anyway fast forward about ten years. The first time I came to Korea, I competed at an international competition/festival in Jincheon. While I was there I ran into one of the kids who stayed in my house. At this time he was a university student, and he was on the Korean national demonstration team. His job for the team was to run and jump off of somebodies arms, do a back flip and then break some boards. I think he also had to wear a blindfold and break some boards with a back flip kick too.

After the tournament, my instructor got me into this high school where kids like the ones who stayed at my house trained. Like most high level athletes, these kids would have to eat a lot of calories per day. I happened to visit them on their vacation so I didn't get the full training schedule that they got - 7 hours of kicking per day - I managed to squeak through with five. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays these kids would eat four meals per day. In the morning they would have standard Korean breakfast. For lunch, they would eat in the school cafeteria. For dinner, they would have some kind of Korean meal, but after the night training, they would have a midnight snack. The snacks could be : milk, bananas, and egg sandwiches or A whole pizza or even a box of doughnuts and coke.

I understand supplementing calories, but I really don't see the competitive edge in eating a whole pizza and a box of doughnuts. Maybe the pizza and doughnuts had nothing to do with health. Maybe it was about motivation. The life of Korean students can be kind of shitty. The lives that these Taekwondo kids lived seemed pretty hard to me. It was definitely painful and quite frightening. Their coach was kind a psychopath. They had another teacher who was a total drunk, a nice guy, but he scared me one night when I had to escort him up from the seaside to an area where the students had congregated. Upon seeing the kids he immediately made them assume a stress position where they had to support their weight on their heads and feet, on concrete, but that is a different story.

Anyway, I have this wonderful book called The Very Best of Recipes for Health. This book is a compilation of recipes from the New York Times in the series, "Recipes for Health." This book is awesome. The pictures are beautiful, and the food is delicious. I've made about five things out of the book, and most of them have been home runs. While I think that eating Korean style is indeed healthy, there are a lot of foods that simply don't exist here. Since I moved here I have developed a liking for oatmeal.

Oatmeal is not impossible to find, but it is kind of like going to a speakeasy to get the stuff. And when you do find it, a $2 cylinder of Quaker oats costs 15000 won. My marvelous cookbook has this wonderful section on quinoa. I sure would like to try quinoa some time, I'll have to change continents for it though.

It's not all bad though. Seafood here is abundant. Last Monday took my bike 400 meters west and bought a live halibut. It was 25,000 won, but the lady skinned it and cut it into filets. Then I took the filets and botched a recipe for poached fish. That's okay though because I have the bones and head, my wife can make maeoontang.

Well that's it. I really need to learn how to write better conclusions. But I'll leave you all with a lead on oatmeal and big blocks of cheese.

If you live in Korea and want to order some hard to find yummies, or ham that tastes like ham, go to http://www.nicemarket.net. The delivery system is a little slow, but payment is easy for foreigners because it is a simple atm transfer. No personal I.D. number needed.