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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm not Myself Today... Or Ever

This post originated as a discussion between me and Aubrey about being married and single, and how married people often forget what it was like to be single. It also originated in December. I started writing it, saved the draft, then got caught up in other things.

I know that I have a tendency to become separated from my past. I often feel that I have always been with Horyon, and the time before her was something else; perhaps a dream, maybe a book I read. The same with Maxine. We were married for four and a half years before she was born, but now it's kind of hard for me to remember what it was like, being married and without children.

I think everyone tends to live in the present like this to some extent. Another example: when I was living in Nepal, it took no time at all for my American life to seem more like a story I had read than an actual experience. Vice versa when I left Nepal. I went back to visit Nepal five years after leaving, and found that I couldn't just go back to what I was before. Partly because I could no longer speak the language as well. Partly because I no longer had my "Nepal Reflexes". And mostly (if not entirely) because I was no longer the person I had been.

Getting married is similar to moving to another country, even in the language department. One adds new phrases, like "my wife" and "since I got married". The first few times you say them, they feel almost like a foreign language in your mouth. (How embarrassing is it to say, "I met my girlfriend yesterday," when everyone knows that you're married?) And like learning a foreign language, the next bits you learn seem easier, like "my daughter" and "our family".

Some of the other transitions were also difficult to adjust to: I had always jealously guarded my privacy, and being married means not being alone as much. That is mostly a good thing, but sometimes difficult. I still love to have time alone, I just don't get nearly as much of it. The first time I walked into the bathroom and almost fell on my butt because the floor was wet, even though I had not taken a shower since the previous day, it hit home for me: "I" am now "we".

Sharing stuff wasn't such a big deal for me. Once Horyon realized that putting a CD in the wrong jewel box was an executable offense, things went pretty smoothly. But I know that for some people merging stuff is a big transition, along with merging finances. Neither has caused us any problems, but it's still an adjustment: it was "my stuff", now it's "our stuff".

The changes, big and small, are along the same scale as moving to a foreign country. And the memory of the time before those changes can also be slippery to hold on to. We lose details over time, making our mental picture somewhat blurry. In addition to being blurry, the picture may be inaccurate for other reasons: it's easy to romanticize your single days, glossing over the loneliness and pain, remembering only the good bits. And it's just as easy to focus on the bad days, forgetting that there were some damn good times back then.

It can all be quite confusing, and sometimes leads to not trusting one's own gray matter. When I met Horyon, I quickly became aware of the void in my life that she filled so perfectly. I told her many times, without exaggeration, that she made my whole life better. My best times before meeting her seemed, in retrospect, kind of pitiful. But now I can remember that there were times when I really was happy, even with a steady undercurrent of loneliness. Being with friends chased the loneliness back into a dark corner for the evening, and I wasn't like one of those stupid pictures of a crying clown. I was actually happy! Or was I? The memories of happy times now seem somewhat suspect. I was so sure that those good old days weren't really that good; why do they appear so attractive when I think about them after weeks of insufficient sleep?

It suggests that the only feelings you can be really (if not absolutely) sure of are the ones you are experiencing right now.

In one of the Harry Potter books, Dumbledore says to Harry, "Harry, I owe you an explanation. An explanation of an old man's mistakes. For I see now that what I have done, and not done, with regard to you, bears all the hallmarks of the failings of age. Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young...and I seem to have forgotten lately."

I had to go look that up. Found it at MuggleNet. I didn't remember the exact words, but the idea rang clear and true to me when I read the book, and came back to mind as I was writing this. I would like to think that I can still be sympathetic with people who are going through what I have long ago finished, or never even started. But I know that I have that universal tendency to superimpose myself on everyone around me.

And for the record, one thing I love about the Harry Potter books is that the central, larger-than-life, super hero/role model character of Dumbledore, with all of his fans and wisdom, still has his failings. He is very human.

And if that is not enough wandering for you in one post, you will just have to read more than one post and pretend it was just one.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Special Meal

It's been a while, I know. This past weekend was Solnal, the Lunar New Year, popularly (outside of Korea) known as the Chinese New Year. In Korea it's not anywhere near as cool as in the Wikipedia article I've linked to. It's more like Thanksgiving, with lots of food, meeting family, and traveling to visit relatives. As you can see in the photo above, we all got dressed up, even Maxine.

We had family over all weekend, and I cooked a big pot of chili con carne (very entertaining article about this popular food) for one meal.
It went over very well, complete with shredded cheddar cheese to mix in. I thought it was pretty good, too, though I deliberately made it a bit mild. Koreans always seem to think that Americans don't eat spicy food, but they have a hard time handling TexMex style spicy. I don't even like my chili as hot as some people. According to Wikipedia, I should have used some chili peppers instead of the Korean chili pepper paste that was available. Maybe next time.

Maxine, unfortunately, was not allowed to try it.
She had her usual fare: porridge. Not too hot, not too cold. She did get to try my dessert, though.
It's a very simple combination of different Jell-o and pudding mixes, layered in clear coffee cups, but it was a huge hit. Tae-ho ate two of them, and Maxine seemed to like it, too. It was impressive because Jell-o is one of those products that hasn't made it to Korea yet. This was the almost-end of my stash, which was originally intended for Popsicles. (Did you know that "Popsicle" was a trademarked name? God bless Wikipedia!)

Since moving in with Horyon's parents, I have cooked a few times. It's one of those things that connect people together in a unique way. Horyon's mother usually does all the cooking in their home, and she is a fine cook. Of course, Sookmo is a good cook, too. We made dumplings again this weekend, along with all the other foods customarily served for the New Year.

But this post is not about the big meals, it's about a small one.

When we moved in here, I was a bit worried about cooking. You see, I enjoy cooking from time to time, but cooking in someone else's kitchen is always kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's kind of fun to use the gadgets, spices and stuff that you don't have. On the other hand, it can be hard to figure out what's available, where things are, and what is acceptable to one's host. Add the language barrier like the one that exists between me and my mother-in-law, and it can be a daunting prospect.

Usually in situations like this, I tend to stall, but at this time I had a chicken from the grocery store that had been in the fridge for three days, and I wanted to do something with it before it decided to rise from the dead. So I braised it in some pepper steak sauce that I had recently bought. It was ready to eat around 7:30, too late for Maxine to eat it. Horyon and my father-in-law were both out, and Maxine had just eaten, so I sat down with my mother-in-law and we ate together.

It was nice. It's been two or three weeks since that meal, and as I look back, I can see that it was the beginning of the two of us getting into a comfort zone.

When I joined the Peace Corps, part of our training was a home stay: two weeks living with a family, sharing meals with them, practicing language with them, sleeping in their home, and learning how to live immersed in a very different culture. It didn't seem like an insurmountable challenge at the time. I had been through training with the other volunteers in both culture and language. It was my first time being in a foreign country, and I had no reason to think that I was unable to live up to it. Funny how bits of memory like that come up sometimes. I stayed in Gyansham Poudel's home almost twelve years ago, and don't think of it very often. I can't remember what town it was in, or the names of his wife and children, but it was such an important experience at the time, because we all knew that the family stay during training would foreshadow (in some ways) our entire Peace Corps experience.

I've been in Korea so long now that I had long ago given up on having a meaningful "cross-cultural experience." (To forestall those of you who would bring up my marriage to a Korean woman, I would simply suggest that any marriage is a sort of cross-cultural experience which is almost by definition meaningful.) I got off to such a rough start with Horyon's parents that I had become comfortable with the wall between us. I am ashamed.

Now, on the eve of our departure, the walls are starting to come down. And in my mind, one of the first bricks knocked out of that wall was the braised chicken that I shared with my mother-in-law, with rice and small talk.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Maxine Eating a Triangle

I have a lot of cute Maxine pictures, but it's getting late and I need to get back to our in-laws' home. So today, this is all you get.

Feel free to sing "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants as you look at this picture.

Kumryung Mountain, 1st Attempt

The visit to the bike shop went well. It cost me $20 to replace the shift cable. I decided that the other shift cable and the brake cables looked just fine as they were, and didn't need to be replaced. Before I left, I applied some WD-40 to my pedals, and was amazed at the difference it made. Very smooth. Very nice.

While there, the bike shop guy noticed that I had a broken spoke, so he replaced it for free! In spite of our communication difficulties (see Bike Annoyance Day) I am going to miss him.

I was feeling pretty jazzed about taking care of two problems in one shot, and figured that with three problems solved in the past two days, today might be a good day to try for new heights.

Kumryung San (Mt.). As difficult as it is to pronounce, it is even more difficult to ride a bicycle up it.

I reset my odometer at the base of the hill, across the street from McDonalds, because from there on it is all and only up. I made it just over one kilometer, panting all the way. My legs are still sort of tingling, and will probably be delivering less pleasant sensations by tomorrow, but I now have a benchmark.

Perhaps I should elucidate on the bicycle pedal thing. You may have noticed that when you see pro bikers on t.v. they are wearing very futuristic-looking shoes. These shoes are not only aerodynamic, they are made to fit the pedals.
My shoes are bottom-end biking shoes. They set me back around $70.
The pedals are also special.
They are the same on both sides. The metal piece on the bottom of the shoes actually came with the pedals. Bicycle shoes have standardized fittings for the clips that come with fancy pedals.

The advantage is that your shoe stays in the correct place on the pedal, maximizing the return on your leg power. You don't have to focus at all on where to put your foot when you start, or where it moves to while you are pedaling.
The first time I tried them, I was amazed at the difference they make.
Going up hill is much, much easier.

The disadvantages are:

1. These shoes are not one bit comfortable to walk in. One way they maximize the return on your leg power is by being very, very stiff. However, if you are messing around with equipment on this level, you are hardly likely to ride your bike to the park to go play with the other kids. I usually don't take more than a dozen steps in these shoes.

2. When it's time to stop, you want to take your feet off the pedals so you don't fall over. The shoes decouple from the pedals by simply twisting. If I push my heel out an inch or so, the pedal releases my shoe and I can put my foot down instead of collapsing like Enron.

I knew this would be a problem from the beginning, because Earl suggested that when I first get the pedals I should ride around someplace grassy, for when I fall. He made sure to stress that he meant when, not if. This being Pusan, there is not a lot of grass growing anywhere, so I was forced to practice on the next best thing: the pavement. I focused on the action to get my feet released while standing still, with just one foot clicked in. After spending five minutes or so doing that, I took some very short rides, focusing on clicking out before braking. Within a couple of days, it started to come naturally, and I've only fallen once for not being able to get my feet off of the pedals.

I have used this as a concrete example of how practicing something enough can make it second nature, and suggested that my students try similar tricks with their problem points in English. However, most of them continue to metaphorically fall over. I believe that the reason they don't improve is that they don't get scrapes and bruises when they fail.

Which suggests a new method for teaching English: the Big Stick Method! Make a mistake and you get corrected. Make it twice and you get whacked. I think I could make some serious money off of this one. Too bad I'm leaving Korea soon.

Yeah. Too bad.

Bike Annoyance Day

Yesterday was Bike Annoyance Day. First I got a flat about five minutes into my ride. I walked it to the bike shop, about 20 minutes away on foot. The bike shop guy told me he didn't have any tubes that would fit my tire, and he would have to order some. So I sat down. My feet were tired, because my bicycle shoes are not the most comfortable for walking. I asked if he could patch it, but it turns out that the leak was on the joint where the post attaches to the tube.

He must have taken pity on me or something, because when I didn't leave right away he came up with a tube that fit. I was quite happy, even though it was a $10 tube, instead of my usual $5 tube. In fact, that may have been what he was telling me about not having a tube. Frankly, his English is even worse than my Korean, so our communication is based almost entirely on good will, bicycle jargon, and pantomime.

And let's be honest, you and I. You who are reading this have friendships based on weaker points than these, right?

So I rode out of the shop, and decided to take it easy. I took the gentle slope that comes up to the middle of Iggydae through a commercial/residential district. Lots of annoying stoplights, but about half of them can be biked through if one is very attentive. Some of the slopes involved are low enough to do in the mid-gears, but I found that I had trouble shifting. When I got to the top, I stopped and took a look. My front gear-shift wire had rusted almost clear through, and was barely hanging on. I'm not sure how it had held so far. I was unable to shift into any of my high gears, but it was all downhill coming home.

Today, when I go back to the bike shop to pay him for the tube because I was only carrying about $3 yesterday, I'm also getting all the cables replaced. Which will undoubtedly extend Bike Annoyance Day into today.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Biking Goal

OK, I'm cheating the posting date a bit, marking it for yesterday. I was too tired to write it yesterday, so it goes up today.

The weather was lovely, temperature up in the 50s, if I judge correctly, and the sun was out. It was the day after Solnar (the Lunar New Year, see my next post), and I had no duties. So I rode my bicycle to and up Dalmaji, round trip 27 km (16.5 miles). The distance isn't the killer so much as Dalmaji the hill.

It's a lovely, scenic road. Once you get started going up, it doesn't let up until you hit what I call Dalmaji 1, a wide spot in the road with a little convenience store, restrooms and a small parking lot. Because Monday (sorry, today) was a holiday, there were hundreds of people up there. I didn't pass many cars on the way up, but the fact that I passed any at all speaks to the traffic jam to get to this lovely, scenic place. I didn't stay long to enjoy it, maybe five minutes. Just long enough to take off my helmet and jacket, drink some water, and pant like a dog. I didn't want to cool off too much because it's easy to get a chill coming down off a hill like that.

From Dalmaji 1, there is a descent of about one km and a small bridge, after which it starts to get ugly. The first stretch of the road is where I took a tumble riding down a few years ago. It just climbs and twists in the way that mountain roads do. After much panting, sweating and swearing, one reaches Dalmaji 2. Dalmaji 2 is the real peak of this road. It's wide enough for a couple of cars to pull off, but there are no facilities to speak of, and the view isn't really that good. Even biking, I only stop to take a drink.

Look at me, using simple present, as though Dalmaji 2 were a frequent destination for me. I haven't been up there for a long time. I'm not sure that I even made it last summer. It's a long haul without a partner, and I have lost Earl as a biking partner. He is suffering from neck problems, and his doctor strongly recommended that he give up biking for the foreseeable future. I hope that is able to pick it up again some day, as biking is a true joy, if not an obsession, for him.

I am planning to ride Dalmaji 2 again soon, but it is not my final goal. My final goal is Kumryung Mountain [sorry, I originally wrote "Kumkang" mountain, and there is a difference]. There is a nice, mostly new paved road going up in my in-laws' neighborhood. It stays in good shape because it doesn't continue through, so people only drive up there for the view, then turn around and drive back down. It makes Dalmaji 2 look like a picnic. It is non-stop up for longer than I care to think about, after which is rolls along the ridge for a bit before petering out.

I am hoping that by the time we get to Kansas I can go into a bike shop without the salespeople laughing behind my back. I don't think there is anything to compare to Dalmaji, much less Kumgang Mountain in Kansas. I'm not sure if Kumgang Mountain qualifies as an actual mountain, but it's more extreme than the Flint Hills of home. In Kansas I'm figuring that distance and rolling hills will have to make up for the lack of geological upheaval.

That's it. The more substantial stuff is in the next post, which I am already working on. I'm sorry there are no pictures of these places I've been biking, but taking pictures from the bike is a bit beyond me at this point, and stopping for photos will drag it out a bit more than I want. Still, I will put it on the agenda, because I would like some visual reminders of this exercise.



Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More Moving

Here's the truck:And here it is with our stuff in it:
The night before we were quite pleased with ourselves:

While the movers were doing their thing we spent some time watching and answering their questions. But it eventually got to the point where we were more in the way than helpful, so we retreated to the bedroom with the other stuff that wasn't being boxed up and sent.
If you are not familiar with Korean food culture, and how it differs from American food culture, you will be surprised at how much food Horyon packed to take to America.
This does not include the many, many bags of ramyeon which are distributed throughout our boxes like some sort of twisted Easter-egg hunt. You may know ramen noodles, a popular, filling yet tasteless "oriental style" noodle popular with college students. The ramen in America is tasteless and pretty much devoid of nutritional content other than carbohydrates. The Korean version, comes in many varieties, some very spicy, and some more brothy. And one should never overlook the entertainment value of ramen.

The rest of the food includes the following:

1 big-ass jug of soy sauce. I know they have soy sauce in America, but this is different.
1 medium-ass jug of fermented anchovy juice. Believe me, it smells a lot worse than it sounds.
1 Rob's-head-sized container of chili-pepper paste, made by Horyon's mom. Nothing beats homemade food.
1 slightly-smaller-than-Rob's-head-sized container of fermented bean paste, also made by Horyon's mom. This stuff is used for making soup, stews and strong smells, though not even in the same ballpark as the fermented anchovy juice.

Hopefully U.S. customs won't think that we are selling agents for bio-warfare.

I didn't get on my bike yesterday, but as soon as I am finished posting this I will squeeze into my spandex and get to pushing those pedals. Have a good day!



I just want to say that the movers were awesome. Two guys wearing orange shirts, with lots of boxes and tape. They took our pile of stuff, boxed it up, and put it in the truck.
I asked if I could take pictures of them working, and they asked that I please not take pictures of their faces. Perhaps they are involved in some kind of witness protection program.

They had lots of boxes, but they also made boxes for stuff that wouldn't fit. They older guy was obviously in charge. The younger guy told us that his nick-name is "Packing Tape MacGyver". How cool is that?

Yeah, "MacGyver" had a big impact on Korea. I have a Swiss Army style pocket knife, and everyone here refers to it as a "MacGyver knife". So this nickname is a true compliment. Perhaps not as flattering as calling him "The A-Team of Packing Tape", but still pretty good.

They first got most of the boxes out into the hall, then stacked them up way high on little wheeled platforms.
I can only attach five photos per post, so the picture of our stuff in a truck will have to go up some other time.

We tipped these guys $40. They were friendly, fast, and told us that they would probably finish around 2 a.m. Being a smart-ass, I immediately asked them if we really had that much stuff. They actually laughed, once Horyon retranslated my crappy Korean. Like I said, nice guys.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Arrival Update

We just got our visa interview appointment date: March 19th.

If everything goes smoothly (which we expect), Horyon will be approved right there at the appointment. They will mail her passport with visa to us two or three days later. At that point, we will be able to buy plane tickets to fly to the U.S.A.

So it's looking like sometime late in March, which is kind of good news. Mom and Dad will be going on a cruise in March, and won't get home until around the 25th, so at least they will be able to come pick us up and see Maxine again right off the plane. I'm sure Maxine will be thrilled to see them.

This means that I will not be able to give anyone a more exact date until around March 22nd. Please be patient with us!



Back on the Bike

This past winter was a no-bike winter for me. Even late fall didn't hold many rides for Rob, and in December I was going to work early and coming home after dark, so I didn't even ride back and forth to work. There is no excuse for not riding in January. It was cold, but not icy or snowy, and while preparing to move to America took a lot of time, I still had time to read and watch some t.v. (I got addicted to the Fox t.v. show "Medium", which in Korea is called "Ghost and Crime". The premise is a bit silly, but the execution is mostly excellent. Pardon my pun.)

Last week we moved in with Horyon's parents, and I decided to partially fill my free time by cycling. I started in yesterday, with about 20 km (12 miles) of mostly level riding. I did the short but nasty hill at the end of Kwanganli Beach, the finished up with a circuit of Dongmyung University (a.k.a. Tongmyung Institute of Technology, a.k.a. T.I.T.) The T.I.T. is nice because it doesn't get much traffic, it's a smooth easy ride to the peak, and the innuendos flow just as smooth as you please.

Today I rode Iggie-dae after warming up on the T.I.T. Iggiedae is about 5km (3 miles), two and a half up, two and a half down. It can be painful when I'm in good shape. Today I felt like I was doing my dragon impersonation, with actual flames coming out of my mouth, though the rest of my body was quite cool. The Weather Underground site says the temperature a couple of hours ago was 54 degrees, though it wouldn't surprise me if it's dropped into the 40s by now.

I ended up doing just over 20 km today, following up Iggiedae with a quick ride out to Kwanganli, back through the T.I.T. one more time, then home. I am now looking forward to a hot shower, but wanted to post first, so that someday there will be some sort of evidence that I occasionally get off my butt and move.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Moving Day

Horyon is still with us!

I'm starting this post on Horyon's laptop, and I can't get Blogger to boot up in English. All the menu stuff is in Korean. Fortunately, I'm somewhat familiar with the layout, so I can make do.

Today was a bit odd. The movers told us they would come at 9, so we figured they'd probably be here around 8:30. Instead they called around 8:30 and said they would be late. They actually came at 10. Not bad. Made the morning a bit more relaxed. I had time to eat my oatmeal and do some last minute rearranging.

It's about 2:30 now, and the two guys are almost finished packing the rest of our stuff. Horyon and I packed 21 boxes altogether, finishing the last of them yesterday evening. I was wishing we had a few more boxes, because there was still stuff I could have packed.

Whoa. I just went back and read that last paragraph and have to ask myself, "Who the hell are you?" One of my mother's favorite scrapbook pieces is a piece of paper with a note from me that says, "See? I finished in time!" The night before I left for Nepal to join the Peace Corps, I was packing feverishly. When my parents went to bed, my room was a complete mess, and my suitcases still in the closet. I was genuinely proud of myself for finishing, but my mother was perhaps not so impressed. I believe she kept that note because she truly enjoys irony. They told me later that they filled a full-sized trash bag in the next few days cleaning out the remnants of my room.

Mom, you would be proud of me today. I've been boxing stuff for the past three weeks, and writing down the contents as I went. Horyon has also been working on it, but she's had classes, sewing lessons and shopping; not much free time.

She has bought a lot of thread and cloth. I believe that her goal is for us to not have to buy clothes for a couple of years. Unfortunately for everyone around me, it looks like I'll be wearing a lot of pretty dresses.

So the movers have packed up another 30+ boxes. Horyon and I agree that we pack more tightly than they do. They wrap up damn near everything in layers of paper. That's fine for dishes and wine glasses and stuff, but we're talking about plastic bowls and cups, too. Oh well, at least they are doing it, instead of us.

We gave them $40 for lunch. This isn't really a requirement, it's a culturally acceptable way to tip. I think we're their second job today, and they told us that they will probably finish work today around 2 a.m. Whatever these guys are being paid, I doubt it's enough. I hope they had a good lunch.

It looks like we won't find out how much this will cost until everything is gone and there is no way to take it back.


It is now the next day. I was unable to finish this post yesterday, for reasons which I will get into later.

This picture:
Are we Finished yet?
and the picture of Horyon at the top of this entry were taken the night before the movers came. Horyon looks cheerful but tired. I somehow mange to contain my excitement for my photo.

It was amazing how much stuff we moved around, though not as amazing as what the movers did.
My biggest accomplishment was:
From this
to this:

I'm going to have to post about the movers later, as I have a lunch appointment now.



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Obligitory Maxine Pictures and Plans

My next post will have more details on our life. This post is just what we are living for.

Got milk?
Good for bones, teeth, hair and mustaches. Maxine enjoyed this cup of milk, and I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this grinning, milk-guzzling little cutie.

Last week I cooked a little Thai stir-fry, with mushrooms, broccoli, chicken and egg. (To forestall the smart-alek questions, I will go ahead and tell you that the chicken came first in this recipe.) I was quite happy with the results, but wasn't sure how Maxine would take to it.
She took a close look at it first. Poke, poke. Doesn't look familiar.

Am I supposed to eat this green thing?

But as you can see, once she actually took a bite, she was overcome with ecstasy. She enjoyed it a lot, and together we ate quite a bit. We left some for Horyon, but by the time she got home Maxine was hungry again and ate almost half of her Mommy's share. Ah, the sacrifices a mother makes.

And just in case you thought that I only took pictures of Maxine while she was eating, allow me to present "The Boxer"
Once again, I am reminded of cat behavior. She loves sitting in boxes. I know that the expression on her face here looks like someone forced her to do it, but that is not the case! This is all her!

I hope you've enjoyed this quick fix. Tomorrow the movers will come and take away a huge chunk of our stuff. I've already got some packing pictures, including a couple of Horyon! If all goes well, I should be able to post again tomorrow night.

Here is a preview of the important dates: Movers tomorrow. Maxine moved to the in-laws' home Tuesday (yesterday), and Horyon is staying there tonight, while I'm staying here to get a few more things done (like this).

Horyon went to Seoul Monday, and will go again Friday, both for Korean government paperwork. In between she has spent a lot of time doing government paperwork here. Hopefully we will soon have a date for an interview, and hopefully that date will be at the end of February. But we can't do the interview until Horyon has the medical exam, complete with chest x-ray and stuff at a certified, U.S. government approved hospital. The soonest appointment she can get in Pusan is March 5th, so that may factor in. Or she could go to Seoul for an earlier appointment. After all, what's one more trip back and forth to Seoul? Once we go to the interview, we have every reason to expect that she will get her visa within three or four days, after which we can buy a plane ticket.

We're thinking the third week of March. This will give us time for:

1. Horyon to visit friends and family.
2. Eating more Korean food.
3. Grandpa and Grandma to be with Maxine.
4. Studying sewing.

My parents will be on a cruise until March 24th or so, so Horyon doesn't see much point in going home before that. Unfortunately, in one of those little twists that life throws you, we can't really ship our stuff to America until I am actually there to receive it. American customs, or perhaps the security guys, must be worried that perhaps I would send my mess to America and then not come to look after it.

Well, that's more than I had planned on writing this evening, and it's after midnight. The movers will be here at 9 a.m., and I want to be ready for them, like that kid in "Home Alone."



Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brand Name

Hi everyone.

Some of you will be very disappointed in me, but most of you will not be surprised:

No new pictures of Horyon today. Today is Sunday, and I had planned to have a friend take our picture after church, but Maxine would not cooperate. In fact, she did some preemptive non-cooperating. I spent the whole day Saturday taking care of her, with Horyon helping out for about three hours after coming home. After Maxine went to bed, Horyon and I got a couple more boxes packed, and went to bed around 1:00. So I was pretty shagged out, and hoping for a full night sleep. I got a bit more than two hours. Maxine woke up around 3:15, and I was too tired to get her to settle down. I brought her to our bed, where she wanted to play until at least 4:30. She was awake again around six, and I only got about 20 minutes more sleep after that.

Yeah, we had longer nights back in the day when Maxine was still brand new right out of the package, but that seems like a long time ago. I managed to stay awake through church, and sold our mini-stereo system to a church friend afterwards. I had planned to ask Mike to take our picture, but somehow it slipped my mind.

If you check the comments on my previous post, someone made it very clear that they were not happy with my lack of photos as of late. They also suggested that perhaps I should guess who wrote the comment. So here goes.

These are my basic assumptions about the person:

1. They are sarcastic.
2. They like Horyon more than they like me.
3. They are not subtle.

It might seem logical to make a list of all the people I know who match this description, but in the long run it will probably be easier to make a list of the people who don't. So here is the list:

1. Grandma Euler.
2. Grandpa Euler. No, wait. I have to scratch him because I'm pretty sure he likes Horyon more than he likes me. Hmmm..., probably Grandma, too.

Dang. I think I have to get rid of my 2nd assumption, because that describes pretty much everyone I know.

I give up. I enjoy reading mysteries, but I never bother to think about who did it. If I do figure it out before the characters do, I figure that it wasn't a very clever story.

Anyway, none of that was the point of this post. The point is that Horyon wants to make a brand name for her future clothing line. She's in a bit of a hurry to do this, because it's so much cheaper to get labels made here than in America. So we've been thinking a bit, and I suggested that perhaps we should bring together they mighty intellectual power of my Roblog fans.

And if that fails, we'll run a dictionary through a shredder and just pick out words at random.

So give us some ideas. The one we like most so far is:

Sweet Art

or perhaps

Sweet Art Fashions

Feel free to comment on these, or suggest your own.

In the mean time, the movers are coming to take our stuff away on Thursday. Horyon and Maxine will move into our in-laws' home Wednesday. We are quite proud of the fact that we have already packed 15 boxes. The movers will pack whatever we ask them to, as part of the contract, but if we want to know what is in which box, we have to do it ourselves. I think we're looking at about $2000 to get all of our stuff from here to our house in Lawrence. No furniture bigger than my Nepali footstool, no electronics bigger than our DVD player. The rest of our stuff will be purchased by the people moving in after us. I'm abandoning my bicycle, and hoping it will survive in the wild.

Horyon said I should say something nice about her. We had a disagreement earlier today about whether "She is short" counts as nice, so I will skip that and go on to something else:

"Horyon is a very good mother."

And that's about all I have to say for now. Actually, I'm out of time. We're having dinner with Horyon's family, and there's stuff to do before then.

Adios, Amebos.


p.s. My spell checker naturally didn't like "Amebos", but one of its suggestions was "Homeboys". Where the heck did that come from?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Night Out

Tuesday night Maxine spent the night with Grandpa and Grandma. It was her first time to spend the night without Mommy and Daddy.

Apparently she woke up around 3 a.m. This has been standard for her for quite some time now. Not every night, but most nights. I get up, go to her room and try to calm her down. Sometimes it takes less than a minute, sometimes 30 or 40 minutes. Grandpa and Grandma were not successful, I'm afraid. She stayed awake until the sun came up and well into the morning. She took a long nap in the afternoon, and came home to me in the evening. Last night she slept the night through. Happy Daddy.

While Maxine was playing with Grandma and Grandpa, Horyon and I went out to dinner (Burger King, when only royalty will do) and a movie (Deja Vu, starring Denzel Washington and a slightly pudgy Val Kilmer). We liked the movie, and didn't start poking at the holes in the plot until we were halfway home. I checked the website trying to find Brad Pitt, because somehow I got it into my head the Val Kilmer was Brad Pitt. I still can't quite separate them in my head. Fortunately, Horyon was there for me, calling me an idiot and accusing me of making a joke.

So yeah, it was Val Kilmer.

Anyway, I found that it was released in November back in the States, while just hitting theaters here a week or two ago.

Leading to one thing that I will miss once we move to the States: Here it is pretty easy to go see a movie without reading/seeing/hearing a review, or even a trailer. I knew nothing about this movie, and Horyon only chose it because a coworker recommended it. The first review I read online gave away some major plot points, things that I really enjoyed having revealed during the course of the movie. I won't tell them to you, because I hope that you have the chance to enjoy the movie as it is, without preconceptions. So if you don't want preconceptions, stop reading. Go on to the next post.

If you want to do a SF movie, please get a hard SF writer to make sure that you aren't making your scientists look monumentally stupid. Sure they make mistakes. Who doesn't? But if they say that sending your guy back through the time machine will completely kill him, and that everything they sent through died completely, then that should be true. It shouldn't be just a matter of landing him in a hospital. And if you are going to make a typical SF device (like a time machine), please make it consistent. Is it just for viewing the past, or can you send stuff back? "We can only send something small, like a piece of paper. Or a human being. But you can't take your gun, because it would weigh too much."

For that matter, time travel makes for complex stories. This story made a fantastic effort, but seemed to have no clear idea of how to handle paradox. Branching time means that the new branch would be different from the original. No paradox and no branching means that everything that happened still has to happen, somehow. It seemed to me that they were trying do both.

In the original timeline, the detective went to the girl's apartment because her dead body was found. In her apartment he found blood and a message from himself after saving her. The problem is that in the timeline with the dead girl, he hadn't visited the apartment, and in the timeline in which he saved her, he would have to reason to go there.

Yah. It's all beside the point, except for one thing: if you think too much while you are watching, it becomes distracting. Keeps you from enjoying the movie. But as Horyon pointed out, it was very much character driven. The characters were likable, sympathetic, and not too dumb. Horyon cried at some bits, I didn't. I was too distracted by the bad science.

Enough of this. You don't come to Roblog for movie reviews.

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.