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Sunday, 30 August 2009

Things You Like to Eat Raw . . .






Me, tomatoes and many other vegetables, but that's about it.

Now, as for these fish and assorted sea creatures, I don't think so . . .

Last Place, Beach Advertising Photography Contest


That Red Pepper Time of Year









Korean cooking uses a lot of red pepper. You may have noticed that, in my pics of Korean food, a lot of it is red--it's not tomatoes, let me tell you.

So, this is the time of year when the peppers are being harvested and dried, dried in almost any place you can think of with direct sun--rooftops, sidewalks, etc.--and even in some with no sun . . . I saw some red peppers drying in the entranceway to a bookstore, but, alas, didn't think to take a picture.

Here are some pics I did take over the last week . . .

Friday, 21 August 2009

1 More Teaching Day Until Vacation!


Mr. Lion was apparently surfing the web while I was trying to get caught up on some sleep, and he (Mr. Lion) saw Mr. Cow on the NPR homepage. I'm not sure about what exactly transpired, but Lion apparently believes that some type of animal rendevous is inevitable. With one teaching day to go before vacation, I tried to persuade him otherwise, but seem to have bought myself a world of trouble. "We're brothers of the soul!" Lion cried when I awoke and caught him in the act.

One more teaching day to go, then a well-deserved break. Yeah!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

NFL Blunder

One of the worst, and most disturbungly surprising, business decisions in history is that to allow Michael Vick to return to professional football in the U.S. The things that he did to animals are so horrible that I will not mention them here; I do not consider him a human being.

NFL--how could you? I will never watch the Eagles play.

Indian Flatbread



When I was shopping at the international food store yesterday, the guys who run it urged me to buy some fresh-made flatbread, kind of like pita bread without the "pocket". So I did, and based two of my meals around the bread . . .

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Do I Need a Pencil Case? or Frivolous Purchases



Years ago one of my Korean students had this pencil case, and I thought it was one of the cutest things I had ever seen. I have posted that old picture here before.

It stayed in the back of my mind, then one of my current students showed up to class with the same pencil case; I asked her where she bought it, how much it was, said it was so cute . . . she probably will forever stereotype foreign teachers based on those five minutes. Anyway, turns out that she bought it for the measely equivalent of $5 at a store almost next to my apartment
building.

>Now, in my defense (and I do feel defensive), I did not rush out and buy it. That classroom conversation happened more than a month ago. But today, walking home from the subway--all hot and sweaty--I saw the store and thought, "Why not? I certainly don't need it, and will probably give it away as a gift before too long, but I want it; I want it to be mine just for a while."


So I went to the store, looked around, couldn't find the pencil cases, and was beginning to despair. Then, there they were--soft-skinned animal pencil cases, tossed randomly in a basket on a bottom shelf (how dare they?), with my one lone lion surrounded by a plethora of inferior animals: tigers and zebras and such not. But the lone lion was there, waiting for me to buy him, and buy him I did.


Yes, I am childish at times; after all, I have chosen to teach children. Childish, frivolous . . . not often; in fact, I think the two hardly ever combine, but today they did, and, perhaps, if I should be judged for anything, it should be for waiting so long to buy the thing. But, then again, I think I truly got pleasure from the (literally) years of anticipation.


Ahh, life's little pleasures:)


Guess Who Got Ripped Off?

Ever hear of a little outdoors company called The North Face? I first saw this knockoff in Gangneung, the first city I lived in here. It was hard not to as they had opened a competing store right next door to The North Face (and I mean "next door" as in walls abutting and all that--what &%$$%! nerve, right? But I have never heard about a lawsuit . . .).

Anyway, The "Red" Face has a chain store in the building that houses my subway station. Saw it today and was reminded of the obvious.

Subway Elevator Sign

While waiting for the underground subway (seems like an oxymoron, but it's not, as many "subways"--or parts of them--run above ground) I noticed this sign and liked it enough to take a pic.

What the Book!








In Itaewon, Seoul, only a few blocks from the Hamilton Hotel, and just up the hill from the fire station, lies What The Book, a basement bookshop with a nice mix of new and used English-language books (only English) . . . classics, sci-fi, children's, magazines, travel, etc. They also have a full web-order service, and, while not cheap, it is dependable. I've ordered books via them several times, and did so again today.


I recently started reading Mary Stewart's Arthurian saga . . . it is a bit dated (70's?) and so doesn't have the action that Jack Whyte's The Camulod Chronicles does, but is a nice read all the same. I bought a used copy of Stewart's first novel in her series at What The Book a week or so ago, and was going to order the second novel today, but luckily found a good used copy of it; so I ordered the third, along with Truman Capote's The Glass Harp and Jonh Cheever's Oh What a Paradise it Seems.

I also picked up good used copies of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (never read it and know nothing about him, other than he won the Nobel Prize) and David Guterson's East of the Mountains (he wrote the very popular Snow falling on Cedars, which I enjoyed a lot and which got made into a respectable film).


Another reason to visit this bookshop is that it is just a few doors down from an international food store that is packed with products from India, the U.S., etc. A bit frenzied but run by nice guys.


The Big Q is in Seoul


Went into Seoul today to visit the chiropractor, the back-popper (bless him), and, of course, one thing I had to do was eat an American lunch.

Recognize the sandwich? (Those white things on top are mushrooms, btw, just not sauteed very well.) Beats Subway (a few blocks away, both in Itaewon) hands down, though at almost twice the price it had better.

I haven't eaten at the burger place in weeks, and I miss it, but this Angus Melt, while not a full substitute, was quite good, and Quiznos has a better location.

Nap Time


Ah, a hot day, a bit of tree shade, a park bench . . . what more could he really ask for?

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

TGSR cont.

I wasn't too sure about what Joey wanted; maybe he was trying to pull a fast one on me. I looked at him and asked, "So I'm the winner?"


"What?" he asked. It seemed like Joey's thoughts were elsewhere, especially as he kept looking up and around.


"Well, I'm winning, and if you want to leave the game, then I'm the winner, right?"


Joey thought about it for a second, then responded, "Ok, sure."


Grinning, I scooped up all the marbles, stuffed them in my pocket, and stood up. "Now, what's this about noises? Ghosts and suchnot?"


"No, it doesn't sound like a ghost, or like a person of any type," he said. "Listen."


I quieted down and tried to listen hard. There was a faint breeze, and some leaves rustling in the bushes, but then I heard it, a very faint animal-like sound. Without speaking, we moved over towards an oak tree, a rather large one, and the sound got just a little bit louder.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

TGSR cont.

A day after the funeral, Joey and I were lounging under the magnolia tree playing marbles. Kids in different places play the game in different ways; the way we played it you draw a circle in the dirt, put your marbles inside it (5 per player), and, if a player can knock a marble out, then he (no girls allowed--ick!) can keep it.

For a warm summer morning, we were quite content; the laziness of it all was very nice.

We were playing (truth be told, I was winning, hands down), when we heard a faint mewing noise. Joey heard it first.

"Did you hear that?" he asked, looking up at me.

"No," I said. "Stop distracting me."

"No, really," he said, "I heard a noise. Come with me."

TGSR cont.

After the funeral, when we told my ma what we had done, about burying the squirrel and all, she became very still for a moment. Then she said, "The dog killed the squirrel. Okay. But it's your dog. So you have to make things right."

She gave the dish she was drying an extra rub, and I felt like telling her that it wasn't my fault, that I was sorry, but Joey was standing there next to me, so I couldn't.

Instead, I asked her, "Ma? Make it right? What do you mean?"

"Right now, I am not sure," she said, pausing as she opened the cupboard to put away the dish. "But it will come to you. The world . . . every living thing is connected to another, and things get put together. It will happen. Just you watch out for it."

"Put together?" Joey whispered, and his thoughts echoed my own. "The world . . . is connected?" What did ma mean?

TGSR cont.

I figured that we needed to get on with the ceremony, such as it were, so I started out, "Dear Lord in Heaven . . ."

"Aw, chuck it, cheesebreath," said Joey. "It's a squirrel, not a person. It ain't Catholic, and it ain't goin' to heaven." Standing barefoot in the grass, Joey said these words with an intensity that was profound for someone his age;yet they were sad words, words of mourning.

"Listen," I replied, "If you want to . . . "

"Right, I'll do it," Joey responded. He gathered his thoughts for a moment as I, somewhat put off, stood by.

"Our animal father, who aren't in heaven, please take this squirrel to your home and treat him well. He never meant nobody no harm, and only our bad dog caused him to die. We're sorry, animal father." A tear trickled doen his cheek and his voice cracked. "We're sorry!"

TGSR cont.

The next morning we held a funeral of sorts. I knew that black was the preferred color for a death, but the closest I could get was my dark blue shorts, black shoes and socks, and a dark brown t-shirt.

Joey was dressed in, well, if you knew Joey you would say "Joey clothes": a faded Coca-Cola t-shirt, splotchy shorts (maybe a pre-tie-die), and no shoes.

We had placed the squirrel in an old Havana cigar box, wrapped it up in blue velvet paper, and tied it with a white ribbon. Now all we had to do was lower it into the small hole we had dug beside the great big magnolia tree.

But we were stuck, frozen in time. We stood there, hands crossed, looking at the wrapped box, thinking things about death.

Access Denied









I tried to get onto the roof of my building (what would be the 19th floor) this morning, as the sun is shiny and bright. But there is a padlock on the door, and, damn it, I forgot to put my hairpin in this morning.


Here are a couple of pics taken from the 18th floor windows. No great views. I'm sadly disappointed, and, were I in America, would immediately file a lawsuit against the owners of the building for denying me my constitutionally guaranteed rights to take breathtaking views of the natural world:)

Scrumptous Breakfast


Discounted fish, 3 kinds of kimchi, and . . . ok, I admit it, I put the parsley there just for the pic (though I did eat some of it). Sue me.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

TGSR cont.

One early summer morning, the kind where it's still a bit cool but you can feel the heat simmering up for the rest of the day, Joey got out of bed (so he told me afterward) cause he heard his dog making a fearsome noise. He looked out his bedroom window and saw Buster, his ugly mutt of a dog, tearing into something.

Joey hurriedly put on some shorts and shoes and rushed outside to see what was the matter. By that time I was there too, since only the slowest of creatures is slower than Joey on a summer morning.

We both yelled at Buster--his black hair all a-bristling--to back off, but it took a kick or two before he released the furry thing he had in his mouth. By then it was too late. The thing, a mess of bloody squirrel fur, was dead.

Now, don't get me wrong here. We weren't two sissy kinda boys who thought that every single thing should be kept alive and that people should eat plants and such. No, back in those days there was no questions: men--even boys--ate meat.

And while we would often go on long walks with Buster and urge him to chase some varmint just for the hell of it, a cornered animal--at least a defenceless one--was a different thing altogether.

So we shouted, Joey kicked Buster, the dog dropped the squirrel, and the squirrel lay there, dead. We, dog and all, were panting from the excitement, even though we had been lollying about in dreams not ten minutes before. And there it was, dead. That kinda shook Joey and me, for Buster never used to catch things before. Maybe this time he had just gotten lucky.

The Great Squirrel Race, Part 1 (fiction)

Did I ever tell you about the Great Squirrel Race? No? Well, it happened a long, long time ago, when I was a young lad.

It was when Joey--my best friend--and I were bored one hot summer day.

Now, you might think that Joey, since he was so small and his clothes so poor-looking, was of no account, but he was the best friend a boy could have and sharp as a whip at that. Why, I remember the time . . . but, then, I'm getting ahead of myself, as I always seem to do, and here I was going to tell you about squirrels.

Joey and I both had pet squirrels. It wasn't so uncommon at the time, since our folks--well, our pa's--shot so many big squirrels out of the trees. See, there was a powerful need for food at that time, so any living thing that was running around had better look out. Squirrels especially.

They were so abundant that it seemed like you could should one, eat 'em the same night, and the next day another would appear in its place. Boy, the Lord sure do work in mysterious ways sometimes!

Anyway, since all them squirrels done got shot (and eaten), there were naturally lots of baby squirrels left around.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Chiro Man

I took the subway into Seoul today (Itaewon) to go to the chiropractor. "The", yes; a modest net search turned up only one, an English-speaking, American-educated man who heads a sport clinic. I'm mixed on the visit, but am positive enough to have signed up for more. I think it will do my back some good. Too early for more comment, however.

While I was there I went to the bookstore (What the Book) and grabbed used copies of Truman Capote's Summer Crossing and Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets.

Next I hit the international food store (a few steps down from WtB) and picked up some dried cheese tortellini for me and a Cadbury's chocolate candy bar for my school receptionist.

Then on to my favorite burger joint--well, the only true American burger I have found in Seoul. I posted a pic a while back. All-American Diner in Itaewon. Great every time. (W10,000.)

Took the subway back toward home, but got off a few stops early to go shopping at HomePlus. I give enough money to E-mart that I sometimes want a different supermarket shopping experience, and HomePlus is less crowded. They also have some different western foods.

Taxied back from there. Quite productive for half a Saturday.

What's for Breakfast?





I often eat salad for lunch, but, perhaps because I am going into Seoul today (and a hamburger is on the menu), I had a desire for a nice big, fresh salad for breakfast. Threw on some canned tuna for good measure and a side of kimchi. Odd boy that I may be, it was quite satisfying at 5:30 in the morning.