No Cooking in the Dorms

The options for non-perishable food are limited, restaurants are expensive, and the cafeteria isn’t always open.  I was dying for something nice like a hard boiled egg with some salt and pepper.  I could just buy hardboiled eggs from the gas station, but it’s like $2.00 for three hardboiled eggs.  Not an amount I’m willing to pay.  After weighing my options, I decided to try an experiment that was so unusual and so desperate that only living in a building that doesn’t allow mini-fridges or any cooking devices could force me into it.  I couldn’t even find someone who had tried it on Google, which I guess could mean I’m an innovator, assuming this works.  I wanted to know if you can make hard-boiled eggs in a Thermos.

It’s a simple procedure.  You buy a Thermos, put some eggs in it, and add hot water.  Where do you get hot water without a stove?  From the Culligan machine.  I don’t know the real name of them so that’s what I call them.  They are everywhere.  Every floor of the dormitory, every other floor of every school building, every administrative building, the library, every restaurant and pool hall has ice cold or near-boiling hot water instantly available 24/7.  It’s super nice.  But mostly all you can do with it is make tea or ramen.  Or, I guess, drink the cold water.  So…

An adequate Thermos. $9 USD

Anyway, I got a Thermos and some eggs and I planned out my strategy.  Obviously when I put the eggs into the hot water, they would splash hot water all over, so I put in the eggs before the water.  The eggs would cool the water, so I waited for them to warm up to room temperature before cooking time began.  After 30 minutes in their hot bath, I dumped out the cooled water and added more hot water to the same eggs for another 30 minutes.

How to slide eggs into a Thermos without breaking them.

Seriously, there is still nothing weird about this. It is totally normal and everyone does it. Oh, I'm holding the Thermos like that because I'm using the heel of my left hand to stabilize the camera.

For about 90 minutes of work you get two soft boiled eggs that are done pretty thoroughly.  They are kind of mushy because one burst and got water into it.  I realize that there is no way in heck I am going to wait 90 minutes for two hard boiled eggs on a regular basis, but I imagine that three eggs might make the time invested worth it if it can work.  I decide to go for broke.  This plan is fully ineffective and as gross as it could possibly be.

Three eggs, two changes of water. The water goes from boiling hot to lukewarm very quickly when you add eggs, so increasing the brewing time to 45 minutes doesn't help. But they did have a nice bath, so that's cool.

Wrap-up:  You can make two hard-boiled eggs using hot water from a Culligan machine and a thermos, but only with an excessive amount of work for 35 cents worth of hot food.  Alternately, you can make three slimy, undercooked egg yolks covered in white disease sauce.  Today we learned that not all science experiments work.

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The Outdoor Theater

Woosuk University has what looks like could be a really nice outdoor theater.  It’s open and has lots of reasonably comfortable seats, but I don’t think anyone has put any plays on in awhile because it has a look of disrepair about it.  Mostly it’s just overgrown with weeds and plants.  If it had trash like food wrappers and music or play programs you would assume it got some use, but there wasn’t anything like that to be found.

They aren't the worst plants that could be growing out of a stadium. At least they are leafy and have purple flowers.

This theater could be super nice.  If we tear out all of the plants and give the place a pressure wash we could be showing “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” in no time.  That would be the bomb.  Someone HAS to want to do that.

Fortunately, behind the slightly derelict theater there is a little park that is probably one of the finer outdoor spots on campus.  It has what look brand-new, hand made picnic tables, and they smell like they were varnished only a few days ago.

There were some dudes playig guitar, too. If you want a good picture, find people and things who don't know they are being photographed and probably don't want to be. You'll get good stuff.

I also found this.

“It’s not any old broomstick,” Nick said… “it’s a Nimbus 2000. “What did you say you’ve got at home, Malfoy, a Comet 260?”

 

 

Then a cricket with happy little feelers twice as long as it's body decided to camp out on my hand for about ten minutes. Free entertainment, right there.

 

I made friends with a cricket, got to sit outside, played Harry Potter make-believe, and got my homework done.  Today is a good day.

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Pocketball

Round, here “Pool” or “Billiards”  is called Pocketball, for whatever reason.   Snooker is more popular, and I get how it’s played, but I haven’t played it yet.  Pocketball costs about $6 an hour for the table, which is super cheap, and they give you a cup of pop or juice for free, so it’s a pretty cheap way to spend an hour with friends.  We found another place that is $3.50 an hour, and has what looks like brand new tables.  Ditto on the free pop or juice.

This is Zarif.  He says he was briefly a sponsored pool player in his native Uzbekistan.  He’s a pretty good pool player, he can do some pretty impressive shots, so I am inclined to believe him.  He’s also a huge fibber and likes pulling your leg any chance he can, so I have my doubts.  I’ll upload a video of him doing an overhand “spear shot” when I can.

This is Daemyoung, (dame-young), of Myanmar.  He’s not a bad shot, but he bears a striking and unfortunate resemblance to Taiwanese pool great Jeanette Lee, the “Black Widow”.  The hair, the expression, the shirt rolled up exactly to the elbow, it’s a little of everything.

Not Daemyoung.

 

This is the least bad picture of me.  The guys can’t seem to hold a camera steady.  I kind of need a haircut too, but whatever.

Cheers!

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It’s a Beautiful Day

So not everything has been marvelous about being here.  You’ve heard some stuff – now is not the time to dwell on the bad stuff.  Here’s some pretty pictures of me chilling out of doors.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have Teaching English Conversation, Korean, an hour for lunch, Teaching English Grammar, and more Korean.  I’m supposed to have five hours of Korean classes, but because the only available times for the teaching classes are during Korean classes, I’m allowed to miss about five of the 25 hours per week of Korean, with the stipulation that I keep up on my homework and get the notes and stuff I miss from my friends.    That means that on Tuesdays and Thursdays I don’t really have time to walk ten minutes each way and wait in line to eat at the cafeteria just to return to the same building.  I’m pretty darn decent at brown-baggin’ it, so I usually bring my own lunch on these days.

I've got emails in my phone, Claude Debussy in my iPod, and bread and peanuts in my Ziploc. That is a real American Ziploc that I bought at Target in Richfield, too, not a cheap foreign knockoff.

Sort of looks like the sunrise coming over a mountain, doesn't it?

 Every building on campus has a large, open roof with five foot tall, safe sides, and most of them have this green, rubbery coating, like the Rhino Truck Bed Lining people are all rolling in dough now.  It makes for a pretty nice place to relax between classes, but I’ve never seen another person on any rooftops, and there are few signs of life, like footprints, cigarette butts, or food wrappers.  I guess climbing the seven flights of stairs to sit outdoors and eat lunch isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but I think it’s great up here.  Have to enjoy those sunny days while there here.

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Rugby Photo Bomb

So, I’ve been cruising all the rubgy websites in Korea, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to play rubgy while I’m in college.  The closest team is in Gunsan, which is only 20 miles away as the crow flies, but without a car only way to get there is by bus, and the bus ride there takes almost an hour each way because of meandering roads and lots of stops, and everyone else they play against lives in or near Seoul.  But hopefully there’s next year.  Now’s the time to work out hard, get back in shape, and chat up expat teams on their websites to see what they’re about.  Might even get some tips about what cities and parts of cities are the best to live and work in.

There are actually a fairly good amount of amateur rugby teams here in Korea.  Also, even though the Rugby World Cup was this year, I couldn’t have gone to it, BUT it’ll be at the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, four years from now.  Anyone who wants to go, start putting pennies into your piggy banks, and we can all chill out in New Zealand in Thousand 15.

WAIT.  I just checked Wikipedia.  Guess the RWC isn’t held every year in New Zealand like I thought.  Bugger!  It will be held in England in 2015 and Japan in 2019.  I can see England caring about rugby enough to have plenty of stadiums to play all the games in, but Japan?  Will they just be playing it on some high school lacrosse fields and webcasting it?  Anyway, I probably won’t be hanging around here for eight years just to make the trip to Japan shorter to see one rugby match, so if anyone is seriously interested in going to England in 2015, this is a good time to start planning ahead.  The BBC Proms usually goes until September, so maybe we can hit that up, too.  This all might sound unrealistic and too far into the future, but think of all the excitement that four years of dramatic buildup will bring.

I know, I know, rugby is exciting, but cheering or clapping is usually standard.

Mostly, this post is an excuse for me to show off this picture.  I found it on the Seoul Sisters team website.  The players had a good game going until that guy showed up and started doing the shimmy-shake.

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The Flight

One of these numbers will help me get to my next plane.

The trip from Minnesota to Korea was probably the most nerve-racking part of this whole escapade.  There would be a whole support system to make things work once I got to Korea, but it was just me and a jumble of coded messages and numbers on my tickets helping me get from airport to plane and back again.

Do you have one over there? I've got one over here. Let's do this thing.

Really, everything was going great for the first three flights.  Takeoffs and landings, narrow seats with a great lack of legroom, and very little sleep made travel tough, but mostly everything was going fine.

A lady told me those black things projecting from the ends of the turbines were measuring devices taking measurements to be read by the measureman. They were totally zip ties holding the wings together, she was such a fibber.

I only brought the one backpack with me.  I was so inspired to do this by über-traveler Rolf Potts, publisher of the exquisite travel guide, “Vagabonding”.  Potts recently took a six week vacation of Europe and North Africa, carrying only what he could hold in a safari vest.  If you have a minute, check out Six Weeks No Luggage.  I sort of wish I had all my winter clothes and gym clothes and stuff, but I can get most of that here.  There are lots of students from China who bring half of everything they own, but the flight from China is only two hours.  It’s like taking a flight to go to school in Michgan.  I assumed it would be good that I never had to look for luggage, seeing as I usually only had a half hour between these flights, but I was later told that on connecting flights they just transfer your luggage and you don’t have to do squat.  Oh well.

Twenty-five minutes is just about the right amount of time to put a finger on the pulse of Las Vegas.

So things were going pretty well until I got to San Francisco.  Like most stops so far, I had about an hour in the airport to figure out where I was and which gate I had to go to.  See, the San Francisco airport is set up with gates for domestic arrivals and departures in the middle of the terminal, with international arrivals on one far end and international departures on the other.  Not knowing this, I hung around the arrivals gate for about 45 minutes trying to figure out where to go, asked a bunch of strangers in uniforms where I was supposed to go, and then attempted to run the length of the airport before my flight left.  I didn’t make it.  Now it’s definitely good that I only have one bag, because my other luggage would probably end up getting lost, or, best case scenario, playing Merry-Go-Round on the luggage rack in Seoul for 24 hours before I got there.

According to several nice ladies I talked to from Asiana Airlines, because of the way things are set up, at least one person per day flying internationally misses their flight.  I was that person on August 23rd, 2011.  Because I had missed my flight after the ticketing agent for the day had left, I would need to wait until tomorrow morning to buy a new ticket.  The next flight from San Francisco to Seoul wasn’t leaving until following morning anyway, but buying my ticket would have been one more thing going right that would have helped put my mind at ease.

So now I’m grounded in a strange city where I know precisely nobody and have to chill out for about 16 hours.  ‘Kay.  I found some more nice ladies, this time at the information desk, who found me a relatively cheap hotel with free shuttle service.  I felt a little bit worse about how crappy McStabby’s of Richfield was, considering that this “cheap hotel”  had things like clean sheets and carpeting, breakfast, and a general air of comfort and security.  I spent a good few hours sending frantic E-mails to my travel advisor in Korea.  I couldn’t call anyone because, unsurprisingly, I didn’t get phone service in California when I can’t even get service in Peter’s basement.

My clothes by now are pretty foul after being worn for about two days.  There is no laundromat to be found, but I had the example of Rolf Potts to lead me.  That is, I washed my gym pants and Rochester Rogues T-shirt in the tub with shampoo, then hung them to dry on various surfaces in my hotel room.  They probably weren’t 100% clean like washing them in a machine, but they were 85% clean, and that’s pretty good.  They were a little damp the next morning, but they felt a lot better, and they smelled pleasantly like orange creamsicles.

Because everything I am carrying fits in one backpack, my only change of clothes for this trip is my black wool business suit, which is what I wore to Denny’s, table for one.  I kind of wish it wasn’t so hot all the time, or I might wear suits more when going about town.  I felt so 1930’s, wearing a suit and eating alone in a diner with the sun setting in the window next to me.

After that, things went smoothly.  The shuttle bus left at 6am, so I didn’t have time to sit down for the complimentary breakfast.  Instead, I shoved a bagel into my pocket and ran for the door.  Airport security wasn’t as scary as they make it sound like in the newspaper, I got on my plane, and settled in for endless hours of waiting on the plane.  By now I’m crazy nervous because I can’t believe I’m actually leaving the country.  Everyone else on the plane has that calm, easygoing look on their faces like they’re going home, which they probably are, but where I’m going I won’t know anyone, speak the language, or have any idea how to get around in the world better than a five year old.

I would have tried to take some photos of the amazing food and the people all over the plane doing kung-fu styles stretches and exercises to keep loose during the flight, but I couldn’t get to my camera.  I could barely fit into my seat with the three books I was holding or the pillow and slippers the flight attendants gave everyone.  I carried those books in my hands or on my lap for the whole trip because they wouldn’t fit into my backpack.  I’m kinda bummed about not having any pictures but whatever.  If you ever get a chance, fly Asiana Airlines.  They pretty much rocked.  I have to give a shout-out to Peter and Meagan at this point, who encouraged me to buy a brand new book from Barnes and Nobles to entertain myself on the flight.  (A.J. Jacobs, “The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment.”  Almost anything by A.J. Jacobs is worth reading.  I read it about twice on the plane.)  It would have been a much, much longer flight without a great book.  12 hours + nothing to do but play Angry Birds and nap would have been like being trapped in an elevator with 200 people.  Thank you, Peter and Meagan.  Keep being awesome.

That’s all for the flight.  This post feeeeeeels like it got really long and boring, so I’ll talk about my first night in Korea later.  Everyone, get up and stretch before surfing any more web.

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Wo ist das Tor?

Steht das Tor in Rothenburg?  Ja, und da ist einer zweite Tor in Samnye.  Last week, we had to close das Tor in order to repel an attack by Hebei School of Finance.

(BTW, inside joke.  Anyone who gets “Wo ist das Tor?” earns ten points for Gryffindor.)

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