Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Heading for North America

As I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t posted anything in a while.  Yes, I know, bad Ken.  I could give you lots of reasons and excuses for not having done so, but I won’t.  I’ll be seeing many of you shortly and I’ve been working hard at making that happen.  Eventually, I will be posting many many pictures from Seoul that I took this past fall.

Speaking of Seoul, for those that don’t know, I’ll be returning here for another year of teaching.  There are many things I’m looking forward to in this next year, not the least of which is experiencing another beautiful fall.

As most of you currently are caught in the death grip of winter I’ve but one thing to say; “GROW UP!”  Or don’t for that matter.  Winter is a fun and beautiful time.  You know you used to like it as a kid.  So, pull your took (Canadian for stocking cap) out of that certain place where the sun don’t shine and pour yourself a nice cup of coco and go for a walk in the pristine snow and enjoy the beauty and simplicity of it all.  :-)

For those of you that do enjoy winter, well, I raise my coco to you in a hardy toast and with great resounding I say, make lots of snow balls and share the joy. :-) eh eh eh  Just make sure the sharees don’t recognize who you are or you may be sharing more joy than you bargained for.  :-P

Until next time,


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rat race?!? Who said anything about a race?!

I’m so far behind in my blogging its not even funny.  I most certainly haven’t forgotten, I think about almost every day, it’s just that the things I want to do take so much stinken time!!!!  If it didn’t take so long to load all of the pics I want to put up, (well, it’s not just the loading, it’s the prep, the organizing and all that stuff) that I have to set aside a major chunk of time, hours.

Now how sick is that?!  Think about it, at least I have a computer, a camera, my wonderful nimble fingers, creativity, friends to enjoy my blog and so many other blessings.  How often do we forget the good things and focus on the difficulties facing us.   Yes, my wanted postings will take a long time and thus I’ve yet to post them, but at least I have time.  :-)  Eventually that is. lol  

So, I hope this post finds you well and, well, thinking about the blessings and not just the shortcomings.  Yes, your dog takes time, sheds, chews on things it shouldn’t, your kid(s) just doesn’t listen, makes a mess and doesn’t clean it up, and cost so much stinken money, ;-P  but I bet you wouldn’t trade them for a million bucks.  By the way, I heard that’s what they’re going for on the black market these days in case you were interested.  What?!?!

Anywho, I just need to remember to keep my focus on the brighter side of life.  Attitude, who knew, ha.

That being said, I must be honest.  You’ve heard of the pessimist, “the glass is half empty”, and the optimist, “the glass is half full”, well I’m what I like to call a realist, “the glass has water in it”.   And I think that makes all the difference in the world.  :-)  I’m just happy to have water in my cup.  :-D

May your cup always be full and running over.  Speaking of which, tell your kid to turn off the water in the bathroom would ya, it’s starting to run all over the floor.  :-P          

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Yep, it’s official, it’s now 06 and you are all about to become one year older.  Muaahahahahaha!  :-P

New Year’s in Korea is a much bigger deal than Christmas.  As with most countries I think, there are some really big street parties here.  There were so many fireworks going off all over the city I was encircled by the noise.  Sadly however, because of the buildings, one solid mass, I couldn’t see any of them.

I don’t know much about New Year’s in New York, but I do know that Time Square is the place to be.  Well, as I think most major cities around the world have, Seoul also has major places to be.  That’s just it, places, its way to big of a city to gather in one local.  There are over 10 million people here.  That’s a lot of stinken people, especially I think if the deodorant producers of the world went on strike.  (What a thought, can you imagine, all in favor raise your,.. uhh, strike that, wiggle your bodies.) lol :-P

Where was I, oh ya, stinken people.  With the N. American major cities that I’ve been in, there is always a downtown area, a place that you know you are in the heart of it all.  Well, if there is such a place in Seoul it’s pretty well camouflaged.  It’s just one solid city that goes as far as the eye can see in any direction.  It doesn’t help that there are mountains all around so you really can’t see that far, but still, it’s one solid mass.  Each area has it’s own downtown, so you can see about a million apartment buildings and then a business section, and then a million apartments and then a business section and then….

But that’s not the point of my post is it.  Right, stinken people, ..wait.., no.., New Year’s, ya, ok, New Year’s is much more of a family day than what Christmas is.  It’s funny.  When I describe the Holiday season to my friends over here it’s directly opposite of how things are over there.

That being said, people still hit the bars New Years Eve and waste lots of hard earned money on over priced drinks.  It’s during the day on New Year’s that families get together.  Now if they only had all of the WONDERFUL College Football Bowl Games on TV to watch I could understand why they all got together, as it is, I’m just the foreigner watching with awe and appreciating and enjoying another culture.  (I still think they need the bowl games though!)

Happy New Year and hug a foreigner, we’re quite nice, really.  :-)


Christmas in Seoul

Christmas here in Seoul is a little different than what I’m used to.  There isn’t near the amount of commercialization that we have in N. America though I think they are working at catching up.  Sad I know.  Who doesn’t like in your face commercialization?

In many ways, Korea is going through the American cultural shifts of the 20’s to the present in about 1/3 of the time.  That however is another blog all on its own.  So, back to Christmas.

Christmas here is much more akin to Valentine’s Day.  It’s not nearly the family day that we think of in North America.  To be sure, it is a family day, but it’s not nearly as big of a deal.  Some kids don’t even get presents and it’s no big thing!  Wow, parents in North America would be struck down in the streets and kids would be picking up their broken Nintendo’s and taking them back inside.  Yikes!

For many people, Christmas is a lover’s day.  Boy friends and Girl friends get all snugly and if you aren’t dating anyone, then you just hang with your friends, not all snugly.  :-)

This year for Christmas, one of the Vice Principles from Lila invited me to join her and her family for the day.  I teach both of her daughters.  Her oldest daughter is a middle school student and I only see her at the Hakwon.  The youngest is in grade 5 or 6 ??? and gets to see me at both places.  Ain’t she lucky :-)

Well, needles to say, I was a bit reluctant to accept her offer as I’m used to Christmas being a very family and close friend type of day.  Many people assured me that this was not the case and I would be quite ok accepting, and not nice to refuse.  If she didn’t want you there she would not have offered they told me.  Ya but (don’t ya just love ya buts) what if it was just a sympathy invite, I kept thinking?  I don’t want to intrude!  Finally, after several reassurances by my friends, I accepted and began looking forward to the opportunity.

I met them at their church which is about a 2 min walk from my Apartment, and joined them for the Christmas morning service.  I had been to Kwan Lim Methodist Church before so I knew what to expect.  The Church provides translation headsets and the translator is very good as she speaks English very well.  The choir and orchestra were also very wonderful that day.

In the orchestra there were only two trombones, one base and one normal.  Now, I played trombone for many years and it was quite fun listening to this one single trombone triumph over all of the other noisy people.  :-P  If you played trombone you’d understand.  Suffice it to say, I used to, as well as other trombonist that I know, get yelled at on a regular basis for playing to loud.  ahahahahaha.  This trombonist however, played nicely and only shown through at the appropriate moments, much to the director’s relief I would guess.  Silly director.

After the service we ate at Popeye’s, and then saw a movie at the theater.  When that was finished, we met the VP’s parents and another of my middle school students.  His mother is also a VP at Lila and his aunt is Lila, Dr. Kwan, the Director of the School.  Ya, I’m hobnobbing pretty well over here eh.

So, with everyone in two cars, we headed for Ilsan.  Ilsan is a city about 1 ¼ hours outside of Seoul and very near the DMZ.  About half way there, the road sides facing the river on both sides of it become lined with barbed wire and there are posted armed guards every so often.  What a comforting drive. :-P  It seems a bit strange since you are still in S. Korea, but it has something to do with the truce and no one is allowed in the river at that point.  There aren’t even any bridges across the river.  What a pain that must be.

Anyway, we made it to Ilsan without incident and continued on a little past to a restaurant called “The Province”.  The restaurant is quite an upscale place.  The building really isn’t anything special from the outside during the day, but inside its all rough hewn lumber giving it an antique ranch kinda feeling.  The menu prices however quickly assure the patron that he/she is indeed at an upscale establishment.  Talk about feeling sheepish.  My hosts however were quite insistent that I order from a particular place in the menu, from which actually, the entire group ordered from.  Wow, it was good.  mmmmmm.  I had a steak, chicken breast, and shrimp fajita mixture that was very spicy with burrito shells on the side.  Ah, my mouth waters just thinking about it; big chunks of green peppers, onions, and thin long sliced carrot pieces too, yaaa.  I also have to say that the steak was top notch stuff, not that crappy Taco Bell sorta meat.  Nothing personal to you Taco Bell enthusiasts, but …

After ingesting said scrumptious palate pleasing morsels and tea, we went outside.  All part of this restaurant business are several smaller stores selling girly type things.  If one was looking to purchase porcelain or ceramic table settings, baked goods, jewelry, and other such things, this is where you would want to go if price was not an issue.  Put it this way, my dad and I could leave my mom and a friend there and go play a round of golf and return to find them still looking about.  Ok, so it’s not nearly big enough for a full round of golf, but you get the idea.  :-p

What I liked about this place were the thousands of those little white Christmas lights everywhere.  By now it was night time and all of the trees, buildings and fences were outlined in a very meticulous fashion.  I can’t imagine how much work went into it all.  Plus, there were two big fire pits for people to sit or stand around and a little café to purchase soup or hot drinks at.  I just stood outside in the freezing cold winter air and soaked it all in.  There was great Christmas music playing through the P A system and it was all in English.  :-)  I was lovin it.  I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures that were taken.

So, yep, I had a pretty good Christmas day.  I really felt blessed by it all.  I felt blessed by God, and blessed by my new friends.  For me it was God blessing me through them and I appreciate them very much for it.  They really went out of their way to make sure I was taken care of.  I don’t really know how to explain it, but it was a real honor.  Another thing that made it such a wonderful time was the fact that as husband and wife, the parents not only loved each other, but they liked each other too.  Some things can be faked but genuineness can’t.  It’s always fun to be in the company of people like that.  :-)