Bob Dole Hair

31 08 2008

As it has started to cool off a bit here, I have been able to manage the fringe of ridiculousness that is my bangs and surrounding hair around my temples. Here’s a picture to demonstrate:

So the past few days I have been able to fix my hair in the morning and still look relatively put together at the end of the day. This apparently has not gone unnoticed by my boss, which at 7:30 Friday night said, and I quote, “Kristeen, you dune sumsing widda you heah. It looka good! You look like Bob Dole!”

And I thought to myself, “Wow. I really need to update my look. It apparently is so stale that I am starting to look like a 95 year old republican tight wad with a pompadour.” Then this realization….


Sunday School

30 08 2008

Hi. This post really has nothing to do with Korea (unless you count the famous Steven Colbert vs. Rain rivalry). When we saw this video, things came out of our noses. Maybe there is something intrinsically funny about Sunday School songs. For example, my cousin Patrick’s nose used to turn into a milk fountain whenever he heard “Father Abraham.”

Then again, I suppose the fountain effect maybe, just maybe also could have been a result of my older brothers Chris and Andy elbowing him in the ribs a little bit every time the words “Father Abraham” were spoken. Either way, chaos ensued. Sunday school might actually have been fun, or at least not miserable, if I’d been old enough to go with those three.

Kitchen Alley

26 08 2008

Kitchen Alley, originally uploaded by Jake & Kristin.

The Dongdaemun Market is a huge shopping area near the Great East Gate in Seoul. It’s set up so that certain varieties of businesses are all grouped more or less together. We walked by rows and rows of fabric shops, deep fryer shops, blacksmiths, shops selling camping chairs, and shops full of rivets for jeans.

Restaurants followed the same pattern of organization. The ladies here represent just two of a dozen or so similar restaurants lining one side of this alley, all of which appeared to specialize in smoked or baked fish. The restaurants on the other side of the alley all had roasted rib cages from some unknown animal on display. It was remarkably smoky and stinky. I couldn’t help but wonder what my old friends at the health department would say about this alley full of kitchens.

Hey, you! Yeah, YOU!

24 08 2008

You Americans living in another country–you really need to vote. There is a website that will help you do what you need to do in order to get registered, get a ballot, and vote in your home state. If you’re reluctant to vote, here are a few reasons why you should get over it and vote.

First, you’re still at least theoretically supposed to pay taxes to the IRS, so you might as well give your opinion on how that money should be spent. If you like your money to be spent on war and subsidizing corporations, vote Republican. If you would like a slightly smaller portion of your money to be spent on war and subsidizing corporations, vote Democrat.

Second, many of the decisions made by our elected officials are likely to still affect you, even when you live somewhere else in the world. Whether you like it or not, the US has a finger in so many pies around the globe that it’s inevitable that some of our policies will stir up problems. The current administration is amazingly adept at pissing off other countries, even close allies. For example there are frequent anti-US rallies to voice their complaints about being forced to import subsidized US beef. US meat, shipped from the other side of the planet, somehow ends up costing less to buy in stores here than locally grown Korean meat. In addition, the whole reason that Korea quit importing beef from the US in the first place was fear that it might be contaminated with mad cow disease. The purpose of ending the import of US beef was to protect public health and the Korean beef industry from contamination. After a little arm twisting by the Bush government, the Korean president changed national policy, against Korean public opinion, resulting in minimal, if any, benefit to the Korean people. And remember, unlike many other places in the world, South Korea has a generally pretty positive opinion of the US. Wherever you happen to live, think of how often you’ve gotten the stink eye from somebody when they find out you aren’t actually a Canadian? And why do so many of us seem to feel the need to say we’re Canadian anyhow?

Lastly, should you ever come back to the US, it’d be a real bummer to find that since the Republicans managed to either steal or win 3 presidential elections in a row, the Supreme Court is now full of a bunch of conservative justices that choose to more or less follow a biblical interpretation of the Constitution. In case you don’t know, supreme court justices are appointed by the president, approved by Congress, and serve either until they either retire or die. Bush has made a couple of appointments during his terms including the new Chief Justice. These appointments have shifted the court to a narrow conservative majority. If McCain gets the same opportunity, it is likely that we could see civil rights, privacy rights, environmental protection, property rights, and a whole pile of other rights that we take for granted set back for decades. Further, it is likely that wherever the US goes, so too will other nations. Nations where you may be living.

These are just a few of the reasons to vote. You may think that it doesn’t matter, or that our votes aren’t really counted, either of which could certainly be true. However, our collective indifference or inaction makes it a whole lot easier for those wielding power to successfully circumvent the interests of the majority. The decisions made in Washington do affect you, whether you live in the borders of the US or not, so exercise your rights and vote.

Surprise Party

22 08 2008

A package arrived on Tuesday that could best be described as awesome. It contained a complete birthday party in a box. Tiny candle-holders, tiny candles, balloons, a streamer, cards, pecan bars, and a simply magnificent pound cake. Excellent.



Jookjeon Happenings

22 08 2008

This week we figured out just how many days we’ve been in Korea. Today marks day 84.

We also…well, we worked a lot this week. The kids are relentlessly cute. Most of the time they’re great and teaching is a lot of fun. Sometimes they’re tired and it’s less fun. And sometimes we’re tired and it’s painful. On other occasions, when the native teachers get in on the action, the situation typically takes some sort of a turn, ranging from possibly innocuous to confusing to frustrating to absolutely infuriating.

Last Friday we stopped to get some coffee before work. At some point between ordering our drinks and receiving them, we noticed that the prime retail space across the street had gone from fully functioning to being closed and gutted. As it turns out, Jookeon is finally getting a Baskin Robbins/Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s replacing a Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins that was previously located there. Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seems to be a little hum of excitement emanating from the locals.

This week was primarily remarkable in that all the action was intensely focused on maintenance of the status quo. Oh, I guess one thing changed–we finally completed our preliminary report on Korea. Here it is:

1) There are a lot of cool things in Korea.

2) There are a lot of confusing things in Korea.

3) There are a lot of irritating things in Korea.

4) Korea appears to be mostly harmless.

5) If you want a cheese pizza without corn, you should say “Cheezu peecha ohksusu baygo hahnpahn juseyo.”

I can’t believe I almost forgot. Another thing changed this week. One day it was miserably hot and humid, just as it has been since we arrived. We went to bed and sweat through our pillows as usual. When we woke up, we found that the climate was suddenly delightful. June and July in Korea really are awful months during which to visit. Or move here.

Alan Tew

22 08 2008

Most people who know us are probably well aware of the fact that we rarely call each other by our given names. We have a plethora of nicknames for each other, most of which are too cutesie for polite company, but we like them anyway. A few years ago, we tossed one of the nicknames into Google and out came a bunch of websites. Among them was one that housed a number of delightful sketches. I’ve recently found that the site has been significantly updated for the first time in a while. They might not appeal to your sense of style, but I think his artwork is worth a look. And no, the nickname wasn’t Alan Tew.