If your initials are J.H., this post is for you.

Okay, so pretty much everyone is getting absolutely bugger-all for their birthdays/Christmas/random gifts for a while, so here are some pictures Mr. J. H. might enjoy in the absence of tangible, physical gifts.

Warcraft III is still a real hot ticket in this neck of the woods. Here is some version of Footmen vs. Grunts, played by super pro gamer Suk Yung.

"Free! My favorite flavor." J. H., circa 7th grade, Home Room. The school passed out free milk and these donut-style treats to bolster our spirits during midterms. Unfortunately, unlike those delicious blueberry muffins from so long ago, these were some kind of look-alike, trick desserts made from recycled Hot Topic and Lance Armstrong bracelets.

We were all kind of bummed when Camp Snoopy, which was at least kinda Minnesota history and culture, was replaced my generic happy fun land, but this was like seeing Paul Bunyan with a faux hawk and a lip ring on his lunch break at Ikea.

Love House Club? Was it a dance place, or a restaurant? I will never know. The place was boarded up. The only other information I could glean from my observations was that EVERYTHING was formerly VERY pink.

Painted majestically on the window of the ROK army recruiting office. Bears a resemblance to another recognizable photograph.

My other favorite pastime is lurking about and intruding upon places I don't belong. Sometimes you find things that are amusing and mostly unexplainable. Such as...

What could be a decent bad-guy name if anyone ever needs to make another low-quality WWII shooter or cheesy spoof movie for the Sci-Fi Channel.

Celcius hasn't conquered the whole world yet! Sieg alternate, outdated systems of measurement!

I could keep doing this for a while, but it’s midnight and I have a final exam tomorrow.  Anyway, it’s just English Pronunciation class, so I should probably do okay.

Posting up silly pictures and thinking of all y’all counts as a nice rest and works as a good way to restore my sanity, at least temporarily.  By the way, I never thought I would say this, but it has been entirely too long since I heard someone say “That’s what she said” or “Your Mom”.  You get a point.

Happy Belated Birthday.

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No one knows I’m taking pictures.

PROTIP:  In recent history, I have come across some articles about the joys of hip-shooting photography.  The idea is that by holding the camera at your waist and just snapping pictures, you can get pictures of people who do not know you are taking pictures of them.  Thus, they act more naturally.  It’s fun, effective, nefarious, and a little creepy – just like the FBI surveillance van parked in front of your neighbor’s house that says “Gingerbread Bakery” on the side.  Here are some pictures of Harold looking like a model for Old Navy/gang lieutenant in Chicago at the bus stop.

When these show up for sale on ImageShack I expect to see some greenbacks sliding my way.

Ipod? Rolex? Cologne? You could sell anything with this photo! It's yours for a hundred bucks!

Every ten minute break in Korean class looks like this. Actually, not that difficult to get this picture covertly.

Students hard at work in the study library. Might look nice on a school brochure. This one is a freebie.

Ipad being used as a phone. If it's too big to be a phone, and too small to be a laptop, doesn't that just make it less effective as both things?

Not really a sneaky-sneaky hip-shooting photo, but I did get to use my tripod. Makes the city look alright.

Here are the two websites I skimmed to learn to hip-shoot photos.  It’s not the best method for every photo, but sometimes you can get pictures you can’t get any other way. Link number one is the best.



Taking better, more interesting pictures is not hard.  Get out there and make something cool!

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“Sorry Sorry” by SuperJunior

This week there was a speech contest this week on Friday, wherein lots of students who aren’t me show off their hard-earned Korean speaking skills in order to compete for a top prize of 300,000 won (three hundred bucks) a certificate from the school that says something, and huge respect from the world, THE WORLD!  Actually, all you get is the cash.

In between the speeches there were dance numbers and songs to keep things rolling.  Also, I am told, it is the Korean custom to never actually plan things out and just wing it.  As such, our super awesome dance number, which was supposed to kick off the speeches instead got moved to the very end of the speech contest.  So much for my afternoon of getting stuff done.  It’s also Korean custom to stretch forty-five minutes worth of actual content, like a speech or a meeting, into six and a half hours.  I’m not kidding.  But come on now, being laid back can go too far.  I had plans for that one-third of my waking hours for that day.

On the bright side, our dance routine was pretty fun.  Our number was “Sorry, Sorry” by SuperJunior, and I am told it was quite the hot ticket about two years ago.  It’s still comparatively cool now though, so that’s good.

This is not a jokey-joke picture. Every dude here has a hair straightener and a blow dryer. I'm not really a fan. Anyway, Zarif needed to straighten his hair before we danced (it was weird writing that) and he forgot his straightener, so he borrowed one from Davin, a teeny-weeny Cambodian girl who had her emergency iron with her. I can't find a decent pocketknife anywhere here, but you can buy a travel sized straightening iron at any gas station. C'mon, people, priorities.

There's no electrical outlets in the bathroom, so Zarif had to stand in the hallway to do this. I held up my cell phone camera as a mirror for him. Only in Korea.

A Korean guy asked me if I was a Mormon. I wasn't keen on looking like one, either, I was hoping the untied tie and the "Blackjack Dealer" stance would make me look a little less Mormon. There are a BUNCH of Mormons here and they bug people just as much as they do everywhere. Them Mormons gots wings.

Actually a pretty nice group picture of everyone.

Remarkably, the only thing I lost on the whole plane ride here was my glasses case containing my ten-year-old Harry Potter lookin' glasses. I was pretty bummed out by this. Because I am minus a glasses case, and I needed to take them off to dance, so a towel in a Tupperware worked as a stand-in. College is tough.

Now for the important part at the end, here is the grainy, low-res cell phone video William took of the dance routine.  We are all supposed to introduce ourselves in our mother tongues, so I chimed in with “Hi!  How’re you?”  in a cheesy John Wayne kinda accent.  You probably can’t tell, but I’m in the back on the left to start with, I do the big jump in the middle of the song, and then I screw up the Moonwalk at the end.  The big finish works, though.

(NOTE: I can’t get the video to actually load on my blog unless I “update to” the enhanced version of WordPress (read – give WordPress more dough) so I’m just going to link to it on my Facebook and hope everyone can find it.  Realistically, any of the six people who read this blog probably also have my on FaceBook.  Toodle-loo!

EDIT:  The gasping, out-of-breath laughter you hear is very, very amateur cameraman William.

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Junk Drawer, Volume 1

This is a photo album of some pictures that are too unrelated to other pictures to have a big story attached to them.  So they all end up here.

On my first night here when I didn't have anything I tried to make an origami cup out of paper to drink from. I would have just drank from the faucet but I didn't know if it was as clean as the water from the Culligan machine. An origami cup will not hold water, in case you didn't know. It will fall apart and dump water all over.

This was my cup for about two days. It wasn't wonderful but it worked.

Beer is not liquid confidence, this is - at least, if the packaging is to be believed. It tasted almost exactly like a whole bag of ground-up Smarties stirred into club soda. Which is to say, horrid. The caption reads, "Confidence is the drink supplying vitamins. As drinking a confidence feel good from the sweety fruits flavor and the refreshing coolness contained in it."

Three Dollar Pringles and Fifty Dollar Booze on the same shelf at the gas station.

We found these painted on a store in Samnye. I'm almost positive the reason they were painted is so that people could stand in front of them like this. It just feels right, you know?

If you ever have a chance to take a ridiculous photo that makes you look like a moron, do it. It's worth a laugh. You won't regret it.

The standard "combination pizza". Pepperoni, Canadian bacon, onions, potatoes, corn, and bread and butter pickles. The pickles aren't a great pizza topping, but everything else is. I'm a fan of the potatoes in particular.

Fried squid at the school cafeteria. Better than boiled squid, but it's still squid.

Boiled squid. A little garlic salt would make it much better. It's healthy, I guess, and the taste isn't terribly strong, but the texture is like a tough, old-fashioned frankfurter skin stuffed with Twizzlers Pull-N-Peel Licorice. And think of all the sea turtles that are going to bed hungry now.

Telephone? No it ain't.

Adobe Photoshop Specialist? No no no. There should be no classes for this. Photoshop is something you play with, read a bit about, do some tutorials of, and learn as you go. Taking a class to learn Photoshop is like being trained in how to harass someone on ChatRoulette or YouTube comments.

Song Pyan. A traditional dumpling/cake made from a rice dumpling filled with bean paster. Rather peanutty.

Also available in jungle green, rose, and canary yellow. Pretty much all the same noodley flavor. Noodley is a word now. Flying Spaghetti Monster saw to that.

I cannot beLIEVE I left my bag of googley eyes in my room. I am so disappointed.

That’s all the unsortable pictures and sarcastic comments for now.  Bye Bye!

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Shopping in Jeonju

Jeonju is about a 20 minute bus ride from Samnye, and it’s a much nicer and larger place to buy stuff.  It’s a nice place to go for a weekend.  The best part of hanging out somewhere like Jeonju isn’t buying nice stuff, it’s just looking at all the weird stuff and laughing at it.  That’s not insensitive.  If something is funny it’s just FUNNY.

Like tango dancing, oddly popular here in big cities.

Korea, we need to have a talk about all the squid. It was funny the first time you made me eat it but the joke's gotten old. Squid is not made of food and you know it.

There is a mural of "Forrest Gump" on the side of this restaurant and I have no idea why.

Some kind of Hispanic themed gift shop. It was closed, though.

This is a bakery. What kind of bakery I have no idea. We kind of have to find a dozen Chinese students that we let loose upon the city so we aren't able to dilly-dally.

The last two pictures.  They’re funny because they are honest, which was probably not their intention.

We didn’t get to hang out at many places, due to the aforementioned glut of Chinese students we were responsible for, and by “we” I mean someone else.  Maybe next time.


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Microsoft Powerpoint

I had to make a Powerpoint Presentation for my Teaching English Grammar class a while back.  My computer doesn’t have Powerpoint because I bought it for $400 about seven years ago.  To be fair, it was a great deal, but the price was kept low by skimping on the software – no Word, Excel, Photoshop, etc…  There are free programs that do the same things as these, but if you have to email them to someone, or give a presentation that you saved on a thumb drive, sometimes you must have the real program.  In lieu of stealing a pirated copy for free off of the internet like nearly anyone else who doesn’t feel like buying it would have done, I decided to just borrow a friend’s computer.  Unfortunately, the only friend who was willing and able to let me borrow their computer for three hours was William, and his copy of Powerpoint is in Chinese.  Guess how I spent my evening.  It was inconvenient to make a Powerpoint on William’s computer, considering I couldn’t read anything and just had to guess what all the buttons went.  However, it wasn’t impossible, and it made it a lot harder to complain about it being a nuisance considering that someone was nice enough to let me have their computer for three hours and I didn’t have any other options.  Not being able to read the buttons probably only added about 20 minutes of time to the whole procedure.  To be honest, it makes all that time we spent doinking around making Powerpoint presentations about nothing back in 7th grade seem almost worthwhile.

I also saved time by cutting corners on the stupid specials effects.  The first choice was fine, and I only needed it sometimes.  This was also a good time to satisfy my curiosity about how you can type on a computer in Chinese when the language has something like 6,000 characters and the standard keyboard has less than 6,000 buttons.  William says they type in Pinyin, which basically means you type a simplified version of how the word sounds and the computer transcribes it into the insanely hard to remember Chinese character.  Remember how super cool and smart predictive text for text messaging on phones was for like two years?  It’s like that.  Heckuva thing, really.  And now your wisdom of the world has grown by one more interesting but ultimately un-useful fact.  Computer techies, can you use this new and exciting bit of research for anything?

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My Homies, part 1

This here is a partial list of my new friends who are helping me study Korean, sharing food with me, making sure I don’t get lost, and other cool stuff.

This is Justin, 24, of Canada.  He speaks his native English, what is according to him “broken Chinese”, which sounds pretty much like real good Chinese to me, and after one year of study he is a TOPIK Level 3 Korean Speaker.  When he graduates he wants to move to Hong Kong, where he has family.  He has been the most responsible for making sure I know everything I need to know about everyday life here and taking me out to places to eat and hanging out with me so I don’t spend all my free time in my dorm.

Also pictured is Aijaz, 19, of Kyrgyzstan. It’s pronounced “iJazz”, like the name of a really cool MP3 player.  Her first language is Kyrgyz, (I spell checked that, I promise), then Russian, English, Chinese, and after being here for one year, her first year of college, she is a TOPIK Level 5 Korean speaker, which she learned crazy fast.  The highest rank the school can give out is Level 6.  I don’t think Aijaz even has a major.  Seriously, it’s like she’s just going to school here for kicks.

This is Zarif Sattorov, 23, of Uzbekistan.  (Zah-REEF.)  His brother, Zoir Sattorov (Zoh-EAR) was the first Uzbekistani student to come here, and because of the school’s desire for ethnic diversity they gave Zoir fully paid everything for four years.  Unfortunately, the shiny, new glow of having your first ever Uzbekistani student must have worn off after Zoir graduated, because Zarif is getting absolutely bugger-all in the manner of financial assistance.  He’s pretty cool about it, though, and Zoir slides some cash his way.  I sent an e-mail to Dave Sperling of Dave’s ESL cafe about teaching jobs in Russian for him, and we are waiting for a reply.  If Zarif could get a job teaching Russian somewhere he would jump a the chance.

Wega Simo Harold Wilfried, 24, a Master’s degree student, of Cameroon.  He usually goes by Harold to English speakers and Wega Simo to Korean or Chinese speakers, which is easier for them.  His first language is French, and he also speaks at least two native African local languages.  Their names evade me, but one is his father’s first language and one is his mother’s first language.  We could only goad him into speaking his mother’s language once and it sounded really cool.   The necklace was a gift from Alette, his girlfriend of two years, and he never takes it off.

“William” Jung Yang.  Classic High Achiever.  Spends most of his weekends doing experiments and research at a chemistry lab in Seoul.  William was super excited that his lab bought him a big ol’ crate of sulfuric acid for his birthday.  It’s not rare or expensive, but he uses lots of it and the lab ran out.  I’ll have a post about Koreans and Chinese having Western nicknames at a later time.

Gareeb Balla (His real name!) 28, of Sudan.  Master’s Degree student in Veterinary Medicine.  In our Korean class, five students speak Chinese, five students speak Cambodian, and Harold, Gareeb, and I are the English speakers, so we share notes and do our homework together.  Okay, William’s English is really good, too, but being a native Chinese speaker means there are four other people in class who he can share understanding of lessons with.  Our Korean teachers speak great Chinese but only a little English, so if I had no one in my Korean class who spoke any English it would be really tough.  Gareeb came here from Sudan because his friend Mohammed, also a Master’s degree student in Veterinary Medicine, came here first on the “You Aren’t Korean” scholarship pretty much like I did.

More to come!

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