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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Nothing special, thanks.

Yesterday I had to got to school early for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the building that I was unceremoniously moved into the week before the semester started. It was all in Korean, though there was a nice slide show of the building process in the background. I then graded quizzes until the free lunch. The free lunch was OK for the price. I then graded more papers until it was time for class. I screwed up my first lesson, spent my one hour break working with a student doing make up work, did a bit better on the second, and finally got the third one right.

I went to Horyon's parents' home where I picked up Horyon and Maxine, then we went home. We had Pizza Hut deliver dinner to our home ($26 for a large pizza and salad, expensive, but much better than the $14 pizza from other places), then shared an itty-bitty (three inch diameter) cake that Horyon picked up after work. Then Horyon gave me my birthday present: she sent me to bed at 10:00 and finished cleaning up by herself.

Of course, I still got up a couple of times in the night to calm Maxine. Doesn't happen every night, but for my birthday I guess she wanted to do something special.

Today I tried to move up her feeding schedule an hour, so I fed her twice before her grandparents came to pick her up. I went through three t-shirts as a result. She only went through two changes of clothes because I was carrying her around in just a diaper on the second projectile vomiting. Top it off with only a 30 minute nap, and today has been a long day already, though I haven't gone to work yet.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Them's Good Eatin'

Maxine has been watching us eat for a long time. Here we are recently eating while simultaneously tormenting her.
Boy, that curry sure looks good, don't it?

And the cauliflower. Mm-mm. But then happiness came into Maxine's life.

On Saturday, it was finally Maxine's turn for solid food, though I confess to taking some liberties with the word "solid".
Here's the recipe for what we fed her, if you want to try this one at home:

1/4 cup organically grown white rice
2 1/2 cups water

pick through rice, discarding the nasty ones. Rinse rice three times, stirring vigorously to insure that it is really really clean. Put rice in water in pot on stove. Bring to a slow boil, then cook until it looks like tapioca pudding, stirring occasionally to avoid stuff burning to the bottom. Allow mixture to cool, then push through a screen to eliminate any chunks bigger than a grain of sand. Add salt and pepper to taste. But since babies have no taste, DO NOT ADD ANY SEASONINGS!

Guaranteed to please your baby.

Maxine enjoyed eating, as we expected she would. She had been watching us eat for so long that it seemed inevitable that she would enjoy it. We were surprised at how much of the porridge went into her. We took turns feeding her and taking pictures/running the video camera, though it seemed to work best if one of us restrained her arms while the other shoveled food in.

She must have eaten two or three tablespoons of the stuff, and we were quite pleased with ourselves. But we didn't stop to think about one important question:

How do you feel after eating a huge amount of food that you are not accustomed to? If you've ever been in this situation, you have wished that, like Maxine, you continually wore a handkerchief around your neck and a diaper. She was happy that she had those advantages.

In the interests of going to bed before midnight (already too late) and not grossing out my adoring fans (all three of you), I will leave it at that.

Today when we fed her, not as much went down her throat, and considerably more went down her chin. But today was Sunday, and church leaves her tired and cranky.

Horyon and I went to the Westin Chosun hotel for dinner. They have an incredible buffet, which I cannot do justice here because I am too tired. So goodnight.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Roll Over, Maxine

In the last couple of weeks, Maxine has learned to roll from her back to her stomach. Which is pretty cool, except for a couple of things:

1. She can't roll from her stomach to her back.

2. She doesn't like being on her stomach, and quickly gets whiney about it.

I'm trying to teach her how to roll back onto her back. This is my method:

1. Wait until she rolls onto her stomach.

2. Encourage her to roll back.

3. Continue to encourage her for five minutes of crying.

4. Get the baby spatula.

I know what you're thinking: Baby spatula?

There's just one place to go for all your spatula needs: Spatula City.
Where can you get name-brand spatulas for a fraction of retail price? Spatula City.
And what better way to say "I love you" than with the gift of a spatula?

Yes, I now have "Weird Al" Yankovic's movie, UHF on DVD, and I'm loving every minute of it.

In other news, I just re-read Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon, and once again that damn book made me cry at the end. If you've never read it, or only read the short story in English class way back when, I highly recommend getting a copy of the novel. It's a pretty quick read, if you're not just squeezing it in between taking care of a baby, doing chores around the house, and working. It will make you rethink the importance of intelligence, and will probably make your nose run with tears by the end.

Things that make me cry:

Flowers for Algernon

Ender's Game

the end of the movie "Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King". Even the soundtrack. Annie Lennox starts singing "Into the West" and I get all misty.

thinking too much about how far away my parents are


Ah hell, it's not my style to make lists like this. Let's just say that ever since I found out that Horyon was pregnant, my emotions have been closer to the surface. And I had some serious tears of joy when she was born.

We're warming up to giving her solid food. This mostly involves us talking about it, but Horyon has spent some more money on baby-feeding stuff: high chairs (one for here, one for her parents), cute little bowls and spoons (ditto), and a big can of bacon grease (for flavor, I assume). I'll be sure to let you know how it goes, though I expect we will be too busy to take pictures.



Monday, March 20, 2006

Beer Can Chickens

Dude, this is the best way to cook chicken.

First, you open up a can of beer, and drain half of it. This will fortify you for the next step.

Take that can of beer, and stick it up the chicken's butt. If you need to drink an extra can of beer before this step, feel free to do so.

Wipe him down with olive oil, gently massaging salt and pepper into his skin at the same time. This is also a good time to tuck the neck down inside the body cavity. If it is left sticking out, it will dry out too much for even me to eat.

Set him upright in an oven-safe pan, and cover the bottom of the pan with water (or beer, if any is left). I also like to throw in a few of those cute potatoes and some quartered onions. Carrots too, if you got 'em.

Pop him in the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes to an hour. If you've selected a "companion" for him (as I have in the photo above), it will take another 15 or 20 minutes.

This will make a roasted chicken so moist and tender that you will find yourself fighting with your loved one over the white meat, it's so good. Whenever I ask Horyon how she wants me to cook the chicken, she says, "Beer Can Chicken!" We usually eat our fill in one meal, and I use the rest to make a very delicious soup.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Car

So having a car has been very useful, and getting it from Horyon's father for free was pretty cool, too. It's 10 years old, we've been driving it for about 9 months (minus the 2 I was in the U.S.), and haven't spent money on much more than gas and car washes in that time. But dance long enough, and you always have to pay the piper.

I kind of thought we had. The second or third day that we had the car, I drove Horyon to school and got a flat tire on the way home. I put on the spare, a regular sized wheel, and later we got it patched. A few days later, the spare got a puncture. I was thankful that I had repaired the original, because it went back on the car. The spare, too, was patched, and put back into the trunk, and we have had no tire problems since then. Maybe because the car felt it had broken me in. It was just waiting for Horyon to try riding it.

Horyon got her driver's license just a couple of weeks ago, and has been driving back and forth to work since then. Well, less than two weeks actually. Then last week, as she went to leave from her second day of teaching, the car wouldn't start. She called the mechanic authorized by our insurance program, and they came and took a look. They ended up replacing the starter motor and battery, to the tune of about $300. They also put together a nice little checklist of things they thought ought to be replaced, fixed, or re-duct-taped. We nodded, smiled, and planned to go to the mechanic who usually takes care of the car.

Incidentally, we went to the usual mechanic about a month ago, for a general check-up. He said nothing serious was wrong.

Early this week, there were more problems. Something just wasn't right. When Horyon took the car in for them to look at, it was a mess. If I'm interpreting Horyon's translation of what the mechanic said to her correctly, they replaced all the engine gaskets and plugs, as well as some other work. That was another three or four hundred bucks.

Then on Thursday, on her way to work, the car stopped going uphill. Not just any uphill, but a busy, steep street, one that would barely be four lanes if there weren't cars parked (illegally) on both sides of the street. And following her was a large truck from the construction site just down the hill. Keep in mind that Horyon has only had her license for a couple of weeks. Her car stops, starts going backwards down the hill, and there's nothing she can do about it. Fortunately, she managed to get it stopped before hitting anything. She waves on the traffic behind her, and folds in her rear-view mirror. One of her kind coworkers stopped and helped her get the car moved to the side of the road. She called the mechanics, and told them where she was, and they came and got it. When she got to school, her coworkers were amazed at her luck, having three incidences in her first couple of weeks of driving.

By early afternoon, the mechanics had it all sorted out. Horyon's father went down to take a look. He said, "I can't see the gears and stuff because of all those little chunks of metal in the casing." Their reply was, "Those little chunks of metal are the gears and stuff."

Another $500.

Our free car has now cost us around $1300. I'm still pretty grateful. I think that in the States the repairs would have been way more expensive. And we have been reassured that the car is now in pretty good shape, and should be road-worthy for quite some time.

Oh, we had to go back to the mechanic today. When we turned the car on, the display in the stereo was blinking, and after three or four minutes, it shut down and flashed the word "COdE" in that cute, digital spelling. The mechanic got into our glove box, looked at the manual, and typed in a code using the radio program buttons, and BOOM we were back in musical business. He explained to her that it was an anti-theft device of some sort.

Now I don't want to seem ungrateful, but the stereo in our car is hardly worth stealing. It sounds fine and everything, but it's not a pimped-up, ear-throbbing, window-breaking machine. It plays music. CD's, tapes, radio. AM and FM. And I plug my MP3 player in through one of those cassette adapters. No one would steal this stereo.

So it must be something to discourage car theft. Imagine, the thief gets in, hotwires the vehicle, and drives off. He's feeling pretty good, got some Doors playing on the stereo, when suddenly the music stops. The vibe is no longer there, and he is discouraged. He pulls over with a sigh, and finds that he no longer has the will to open the door. The flashing "COdE" on the stereo seems to mock him. He calls the police with his own cell phone, confessing his crime, and then dives in front of an 18-wheeler, ending his misery.

Yeah. That's how it would work.



p.s. Horyon told me that I need to mention a few things: first of all, I was slack in my maintenance of the aforementioned vehicle. Among other things, I neglected to put water in the radiator every week or two. I always thought you just kept an eye on the temperature gauge, but in Korea I guess water evaporates faster because we're further East than in America.

Second, my smart-ass attitude tends to cover up the fact that this was my fault for saying that I had been driving for 16 years when we took on this car, when in fact I have never really owned a car that I was solely in charge of maintaining.

And third, Chaeryon (and other new drivers) should take heart. A new car is much less likely to just suck a lot of money out of your wallet without warning. But find out what you need to do regularly, and DO IT!!!

Fourth, with no Maxine pictures, how can I expect anyone to actually look at this posting?
We're getting ready to go out. It looks like Maxine is hoping that the car is really working correctly.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Space Filler

I know you haven't heard from me lately. OK, for a long time. Here's a few bits of what I've been up to.

I recently read "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. I was at the school library, saw it, and realized that I knew the title without having read it. That just seemed wrong, so I picked it up (along with H.P. and the Order of the Phoenix, which I was originally looking for). It's an interesting read, despite the lack of actual story to drive it. It was written in 1951, and feels quite old to me. The style, especially the way they swear, feels very quaint. Makes me wonder if the modern books I enjoy now will look the same way in 55 years.

New topic.

I started classes last Thursday. I'm teaching six classes, with a total of 270 students. For those of you who read faster than you do math, that's 45 students per class, average. Of course, some of those classes are pushing 50. And I teach them conversation. Right. Classes at Kyungsung University are grouped by major, and I'm teaching Law majors, Political Science majors, Social Welfare majors, and Public Administration majors. I'm considering making that last group turn in all their assignments in triplicate, attached to the proper forms which they can find in the back of a filing cabinet in the basement of the Music Ed. building. Seems appropriate, to get them on the right footing for their future jobs.

I've already discovered which class will be the biggest pain in the (ahem) neck. During their first hour with me, most students will sit quietly, most of them with that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces. But one class constantly talked to each other, in spite of my repeated demands for silence while I am talking. At the end of their first class, I warned them that if I am not happy with the class as a whole, their grades as a whole will be low. I did it to the English majors, and I'm not a afraid to do it to them. Would you care to guess which major provided this pleasure for me? Answer at the bottom of this entry.

New Topic

Maxine is doing well. No health problems. Can't say the same for Horyon. Saturday she caught a cold. Stayed home from church Sunday, went to the clinic yesterday, and is much better today. I think Maxine valiantly fought the cold off yesterday. She slept most of the day, and didn't eat much, but today she was back in top form. Hooray for breast feeding!

My parents brought a new toy for her. We call it the Crazy Duck. I'm sure that if you examine the picture closely, you will see why.
Yes. This duck has petals. And you can't see it, but C.D.'s head flips up to reveal a mirror inside where it's gizzard should be. And the bottom of C.D.'s feet are two different colors. Orange and purple. I can't remember which one is which, and I'm afraid to go look. This is one seriously crazy duck, my friends. Nonetheless, Maxine still enjoys sniffing Crazy Duck's butt.

While my folks were here, we went to the studio to get some photos taken.
I like this picture. As my Mom pointed out, it is somewhat indicative of reality. We all focus exclusively on Maxine as we gather around her, and she stares off blankly at something else. (Once again suggesting that she may be part cat.) As nice as this picture is, it is somehow more revealing to see what the studio staff were doing while taking the picture:
All kinds of noise, waving stuff around, trying to get Maxine to look at them. So Maxine wasn't really staring at nothing in particular. They couldn't get her to smile, but they were so cute. And so I decided not to Photoshop their studio name out of the picture that we scanned.

I saved the most depressing news for last. Maxine has a boyfriend.
The good news is that she met him at Church, so I know he's a good boy. Still, we don't allow them to be together alone, and won't until they are 23. Maybe 24. I still hold the hope that they will break up before it gets serious. After all, Maxine is a whole two weeks older than Corn (his nickname, short for Corinth, we think.) That kind of age gap, together with the thing about girls maturing faster than boys, dooms the whole relationship. I think this father will be able to sleep well tonight.

New Topic

For those of you who know my Uncle Bob, be sure to thank him. He sent me an email today reminding me that all three of my fans are anxiously awaiting a new installment of Roblog. Thanks Uncle Bob!

A: It was the Public Administration majors. The Social Welfare majors seemed to be lower level, but they were nicer. The Law Majors were the sharpest, but they haven't grown their shark teeth yet. And the Political Science majors are pretty much like the ones I remember from my university days. 'Nuff said.

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.