Oops.

Anybody but Bush – and then let’s get back to work (Guardian UK)

Moore: Bush ‘Didn’t Tell the Truth’ (FOXNews)

“One of the most meaningful things that’s happened to me since I’ve been the governor—the president—governor—president. Oops. Ex-governor. I went to Bethesda Naval Hospital to give a fellow a Purple Heart, and at the same moment I watched him—get a Purple Heart for action in Iraq—and at that same—right after I gave him the Purple Heart, he was sworn in as a citizen of the United States—a Mexican citizen, now a United States citizen.” -George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., 1/9/2004

“I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a Vice President who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a Secretary of Defence who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.” -John Kerry, Boston, 7/29/2004 (Full Text: John Kerry speech)

(for cars)

Last night I made the mistake of riding a bus on what was apparently one of the busiest travel days of the year in South Korea — it took me an hour and a half to go about ten miles. I missed a class, but was fortunately able to reschedule it for Monday.

Last night I slept for about four hours before I was awakened by the dogs. I haven’t been back to sleep yet, as the dogs have been barking intermittently for the entire day. Today Mat and I tried putting sleeping pills in Vienna sausages to sedate them, but our dosage was insufficient as the dogs seemed to actually bark louder after ingesting the dosed meat. Mat thinks that we should either kill the dogs and put them out of their misery, or kidnap them and give them to someone who actually cares about animals. While I am not in favor of killing or stealing, I am in desperate need of my sleep.

This afternoon my new adult student — a wealthy CEO of a successful lubricant company (for cars) — asked me: “Why do some people in America still support George Bush?”

“I don’t know,” I responded.

one race away

I am one race away from feeling completely anonymous.

the dogs

I have been hesitant to write about the dogs for fear that they may sense my brainwaves and begin barking once again. I ask you to appreciate the chances I take for you, my loyal readers.

One of my neighbors, the one closest to my bedroom window, has three dogs who like to bark at nothing for no apparent reason (aside from being left alone in a tiny Korean apartment all day). The owner of the dogs is rarely home — she leaves early in the morning and returns home (looking drunk) very late at night. While she is gone, she leaves the dogs alone in her apartment with the window open, and the dogs spend their days and nights sleeping and barking intermittently.

Ahh, they’ve just started barking again. My brainwaves must have woken them up, just as I’d anticipated. Share the joy of their noise with me — .

      click here to listen to them
, turn the volume up.

Although my bedroom window is the closest to the dogs, the entire apartment is exposed to (and thus annoyed by) the haphazard yapping of these dogs. So, about three weeks ago, my roommate Mat decided to take action. He took three (non-prescription) sleeping pills (supplied by me) and mixed them up in a blender with some day-old chili. He put this nearly-liquid mixture into a homemade frosting dispenser type thing, then snuck over to the apartment (with Lee, my other roommate (I refused to participate)) and squirted the concoction into the window of the offending dogs’ apartment.

Fifteen minutes later the only sound was the quiet barking of the smallest dog, it had apparently been unable to get its intended share of the chili.

The next morning I woke up to silence, which was unusual. There was no noise at all from the dogs. Mat was beginning to show concern that he may have used too many sleeping pills, I was relieved that I hadn’t participated.

When I returned home from work that night, the silence had yet to be broken. “Do you think I killed those dogs?” Mat asked me.
“You might have,” I said. I realized that if the dogs were indeed dead, I would be both sad and relieved.

So I suppose it was with a sort-of relief and a sort-of disappointment when the next morning I once again awoke to the sounds of bark times three. Mat was just relieved — his bedroom isn’t exposed to the sound of the dogs.

The last coupla weeks passed, the dogs continued their intermittent cavalcade of noise. What amazed me, and continues to amaze me, is that we (my roommates & I) seem to be the only people in the neighborhood who are bothered by the noise. It’s impossible to ignore, and if this sort of thing were going on in the States someone surely would have called animal control or the police by this point. We decided that something had to be done, so today I had one of my adult students write up a note (in Korean) explaining that the dogs barking is disturbing to us and asking her to please do something about it. I taped it to her door about fifteen minutes ago, in the midst of the grande bark-o-rama that began soon after I started typing this entry. I shall let you know if anything changes, and I ask you to pray that something does.

a Korean in a bottle costume

Here is a picture of me and a Korean in a winking bottle costume, taken yesterday…

mekgb

Things are looking up, at least for the time being. It looks like this week will be my most profitable English teaching week since I arrived, thanks to a one week summer camp job and a new rich adult student who wants to have lessons as often as possible. Next week is still under construction, but this week is much money.

Remind me to tell you about the three annoying dogs that live next door.

The rest of last Saturday…

The rest of last Saturday…

After I finished admiring and photographing the Anglican Church, I went right next door to Deoksugung Palace…

deoksugung-4

In an effort to avoid boring historical details, I’ll just say that Deoksugung is a complex of about ten buildings that was used as the Korean royal palace on and off for many years. The oldest buildings were originally built about 400 years ago, burned down in the “great fire of 1904,” and were then rebuilt. Now the buildings are used as either things to look at and not go into, or as museums.

It was interesting to walk around the complex — the buildings make the area feel historic, even if most of them are replicas of the originals. It was also strange to experience these traditional-looking Korean buildings with a huge 21st century city as its backdrop.

I didn’t intend to visit The Royal Museum that is housed in one of the newer Deoksugung buildings, but as I was walking by a woman standing by the door kept saying “anyonghaseyeo” (hello-ish) and gesturing me in. I find most museums that are full of royal relics rather boring, and this one was mostly true to that form… lotsa royal costumes, royal eating tables, royal scrolls, royal rice bowls, etc. In an apparent effort to prevent aimless wandering, there were arrows on the floor to show you exactly where to go and what to look at next.

The other museum, to my surprise and delight (that’s right, delight… I was delighted), was the National Museum of Modern Art. I’d been planning on checking out this museum for a while (see: six months) and suddenly it was right in front of me. It wasn’t as cool or big as I’d hoped — there were four rooms of mostly abstract paintings — and I only had about thirty minutes to get through it before it closed, but there was an exhibition of one (Korean) artist that I dug enough to make it worthwhile. The paintings were all hung lower than they are in Western museums, requiring me to crouch on occasion, and approximately one-third of the paintings were named “Configuration.”

After the art museum I left Deoksugung and walked to Namdaemun (Great South Gate)…

namdaemun-gate

One of the original gates from the old Seoul fortress, this is actually as old as it appears — it was originally built in 1398 and rebuilt only once in 1447. I’d ridden by many times on various busses, and every time I did I thought “I gotta go there and take pictures up-close,” but (to my chagrin) there is no way to actually get over or under the five lanes of traffic and over to the actual gate. This gate looks much cooler at night, as it is all lit up with floodlights, but I wasn’t there at night so I have no photos of that.

Convieniently located adjacent to Namdaemun, I found the Namdaemun Market. A traditional Korean market, I was amazed that I hadn’t been here yet… it felt as close to historic Korea as I had been since I arrived nine months ago. A huge city block full of vendors selling everything from ginseng to fireworks to skinned pig heads. When I saw the fireworks for sale I thought about buying some to shoot off on the roof of my apartment. When I saw the row of skinned pig heads and the woman selling them, I thought: this woman gets up every morning and comes here to sell skinned pig heads, she’s probably done this for years. I ended up buying a tee-shirt.

And then I took the bus back to my apartment, and then I went out to a meat dinner with Mat (a roommate), and then we went to a bar for darts and beer, and then we were drunk, and then we drank with some Korean gangster-looking types, and then I was drunker, and then we were back at our apartment and I was very drunk.

Last Saturday was a good day, last Sunday was not.

(More pictures from my sighseeing in the Seoul album — down there and over there, or back there on the word.)

sea-route decision

(What follows is the exact text of a sign that was posted in my old neighborhood in Yongsan:)

NOTICE TO WASTES

DEAR FOREIGN RESIDENTS OF YONGSAN2GA-DONG

Thing sea-route decision to grow clean YongSan held an emphasis forwarding business in our Yong San Gu office 2004.
Asks several in order to proceed with a movable make “campaign in clean YongSan2ga-dong” successfully while a favor gives that standing up participate in resident you positively together.

1. Let’s keep wastes discharge time.
> As for the discharge time : p.m 6:00 – a.m 4:00
> Removing refusal and negligence penalty 50,000won are imposed if discharge time breaks.

2. Please do not throw the wastes.
> Is consistently controlling garbage a main day and night, and a negligence penalty of exposure 200,000won is imposed.
> Please use only the vinyl bag manufactured by Hangang Jonghap(ju). You can buy the vinyl bag of hangang jonghap(ju) at the following shops.
— Woori mart 790-6667 — Kim’s Club 795-1074
— Gobow super 795-0587

3. Disconnection will discharge recycled product exactly.
> The time to remove recycled product discharge time : p.m 6:00 – a.m 4:00.
> Wish that partitions off recycling and discharges.

The chief of Yongsan2ga-dong office

(“Last Saturday… part II” coming tomorrow, or the next day. Soon.)

Last Saturday…

Last Saturday…

I woke up in the early afternoon after having stayed up too late doing lots of nothing. I had semi-plans to go with some friends to this Mud Festival thing, but it was raining when I woke up and I had already missed the train to get there. I was semi-upset with myself for not going until I reminded myself that I really didn’t have the money with which to do so anyway. Instead I decided to use this as a reason to finally get off my ass and do the Seoul sightseeing I’d been intending to do for so long. So, after stopping at a neighborhood Kim-Bap restaurant for a quick lunch, I grabbed a bus (#306) into downtown Seoul.

I got off the bus in Jongno, and wandered around a cool little pedestrian area of restaurants, bars, DVD & PC rooms, and many many signs — Koreans love their signs.

jongno-street

After admiring the signs for a spell (while tacky-seeming at first, they possess a certain Blade Runneresque quality that appeals to me), I wandered around some more. I passed outdoor food vendors selling dried squid, rice cakes, and several varieties of meat-on-a-stick. I passed a man selling remote controlled robots. I passed a man who may have been dead, but who was probably just sleeping on the side of the road.

Eventually I ended up at a large bookstore that was full of books and Korean people. While I was browsing through the decent English-language section, a Korean high school student hesitantly approached me and asked if he could interview me as part of a school assignment (“interview an English-speaking foreigner”). “Sure!” I said, and he proceeded to ask me a series of questions about my life in Korea while shaking like an epileptic because he was so nervous. His level of nervousness was unsettling. When the interview was over he took my picture, because all Koreans take pictures of everything. Before leaving the bookstore I bought a copy of the new book by Paulo Coelho for 10,400 won.

After a bout of more focussed wandering I ended up at this cool-looking Anglican Church, which I spent several minutes admiring and taking photos of.

anglican-church-top

My Lonely Planet book tells me that it was started in 1922, but not entirely finished until 1996. Fascinating!

To be continued…