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Friday, April 27, 2007

Party Invitation

You are all invited to our housewarming party.

Where: not our house. We will be at First Christian Church, at 6th and Seneca in beautiful downtown Leavenworth.

When: Sunday, May 6th. 2:00 - 3:30 p.m.

What eat: cake.

What drink: punch.

What bring: Well, I'm glad you asked.

We have created a couple of registries at Wal-Mart and Target. Go to either of these stores and ask about how to shop for a registry, and someone will put you at a computer station. Type in my name (Rob Sack) and follow the instructions. When you get to check-out, remember to tell the cashier that you bought something on a registry and show her your print-out.

If you are not inclined to go someplace to shop, we plan to buy lots of stuff from Lands End. You can go to their website (or call them) and get us a nice gift certificate.

If you are not inclined to go someplace to shop or even get on the internet to give us amunition to shop, you are still welcome to come. We will be charging $2 for photo ops with Maxine.

See you then!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Lookin' For Furniture (in all the right places)

Hi Everyone!

We are adjusting well to life in America, I think. We are staying with my parents now, but hope to be moving to our house soon.

However, I feel as though Korea is pursuing me here.

While we were in Korea, my cousin Mark was living in our house. He found a friend to rent one of the rooms to, and together their rent paid my mortgage. It was a pretty sweet set-up for us, other than the fact that we did not get to live in the house we bought.

Mark knew that we were returning to America, but like everyone else, he didn't know exactly when. So when we went to visit our home for the first time last Sunday, the first thing I noticed was a fish tank just after the foyer. I took a quick look, and found that none of them had gone to meet their maker, and went on to the rest of the house. There was stuff in the kitchen and in both small bedrooms. Looks like I've still got a renter.

Later in the week Dad and I went back to get some measurements and start planning a course of action, and we found the renter there on her lunch break. She seemed nice enough, I suppose, though she never stopped talking on her cell phone that I could see. But that's ok. It's good to be connected, I guess. We told her that we wanted to move in soon, and she promised to be out by the coming weekend (today).

I talked to Mark on the phone today, and he says it looks like she will be out. Good thing, too, because Dad and I are going on Monday to tear up the carpet in one room and put down wood floors.

We are working on furniture. We've gotten some good bargains so far. We have beds for all of us, a sofa, and some offers for chairs. I've got my eye on this really cool recliner at Lee's Furniture in beautiful downtown Leavenworth. It's on consignment for $230, though I may try for a lower price. It's extra wide. Horyon and I can sit side by side comfortably and recline together. Good stuff.

When I started writing this post (last Sunday), we were waiting for the renter to get out. She did, and this week Dad and I have been working long hours to get the house in shape. But that's another post.

For now, I would like to ask: if you live in or near Lawrence, and have a bookcase that you would like to donate to this family (us), please contact me! I've got about a million books, and right now they are all in boxes. Help!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

We made it. We're at my parents' home in lovely Leavenworth. It's about 6 a.m. I've been awake since Maxine woke up hungry around 4. She got back to sleep, I didn't. I'm coughing and sneezing, and I decided that if I stay in the same room with Horyon and Maxine, it will be harder for them to sleep. So email check and Roblog time.

All of our flights were on time. No problems at immigration. Maxine travelled pretty well considering that she doesn't like being cooped up and unable to wander around. Her longest crying stints were no more than five minutes or so. The people sitting around us were not too disturbed, I think.

Maxine made lots of friends. She loved the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, and for good reason. Lots of space to run around, not very crowded, carpeted floors so falling down wasn't a big deal.

When we got through customs and immigration, picked up our luggage and dropped it off again, Horyon told me she was thirsty, so I went to the McDonalds. My first surprise was that a large coke was almost $2. In Korea, the largest coke costs about $1.20. I wasn't thinking about being in an airport, though, and I had forgotten a few other things:

She handed me a couple of cups to go fill up myself! Culture shock! They just don't do that in Korea! And the cups were huge! We couldn't drink all of our drinks. And when I went over to the drink machine I was once again shocked at the variety of drinks available. Lemonade! Oh yeah! Six or seven different soft drinks, as I recall. And take as much ice as you want.

At this point I was sort of humming a patriotic tune, happy to be here in spite of the sand that had somehow gotten around in the back of my eyes.

Not sure whether we will make it to church tomorrow. Sorry, today. Horyon was also sneezing and coughing. Once again, Maxine seems to be in better shape than either of us, but we'll see how she is when the sun comes up.

When we got home, Mom had some turkey and noodle soup made for us. Welcome home. It was a good choice for all of us, as Maxine loves noodles and I make a similar soup that Horyon likes.

The house feels cold after two months with Horyon's family. I have to dig my sweat pants out of the luggage. I know they're in there somewhere. I'm wearing shorts now, and it's just a bit chilly.

And now I will go grab a bite to eat and surf the t.v. channels. The internet connection here is a bit slow, so I'm not sure about posting pictures. You may not see much roblogging until we get set up with our own computer and internet in Lawrence.

Oh yeah, tomorrow we're going to go to Lawrence so Horyon and Maxine can see their new home! I'm very excited for them. They're sleeping.



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Travel Plans

Man, I hate to take a chance on jinxing this by writing it down, but I can't not do it:

We leave Pusan Saturday at 11:40 a.m., a very reasonable time for once! We have a two hour layover in Tokyo's Narita airport, a fine establishment if you enjoy that slightly wacky Japanese perspective on life. We then fly to Minneapolis, where we have three hours and 20 minutes to clear immigration, customs, and catch our flight to Kansas City. We arrive in Kansas City at 5:13 p.m., also a reasonable time!

We had talked about flying Monday or Tuesday, but NorthWest is changing this flight around starting next week, from which time it will be much more inconvenient for us. I think it goes to Moscow or something instead of Kansas. This means we have two days to get our act together and packed for the trip. I don't expect to be writing here on Roblog again until we are back in the States, and even then it is likely to be even more brain-scrambled than the stuff I've been throwing out for the past few weeks.

I had a good day today. As you read in my earlier post, I was waiting around for Horyon's visa to be issued. I started at a PC room, where I wrote that post, then moved to a video room. These are a pretty cool way to kill a couple of hours. It's like a small video rental store with maybe a dozen small rooms in which you can watch the video you rent. This one charged me only $6, cheaper than going to the movies. AND I didn't have to listen to other people talk on the cell phone and fart around, AND I decided when to start the movie and which movie to see, AND I could ask the woman to pause the movie so I could talk on the phone or go to the bathroom or whatever. With all these wonderful advantages, I made up for it by renting and watching "UltraViolet". It was a fun little comic book (sorry, I meant to write "graphic serial novel") adaptation with lots and lots of shooting and swordplay and high-tech gizmos and all that futuristic stuff. It was one kind of movie that Horyon doesn't care for, and so I avoided subjecting her to it. It was a good waste of two hours. Took my mind off of waiting for the visa to be ready and wondering if there were any other mistakes I could make.

I then went to Durga, a nice little Nepali restaurant just around the corner from the embassy, less than a 10 minute walk away. They have a nice lunch special for only $8 (easy to find on their website), and since I spoke Nepali to them, they gave me extra food for no charge. Their website is mostly in Korean, but they have maps to find it in both English and Korean. If you're in Seoul, especially going to the American embassy, you should check it out. It's only two subway stops from Seoul Station. If you go at lunch or dinner time, be prepared to wait. It's doing very well.

After lunch, I still had more than two hours to wait for the visa, so I went back to the video room.

They don't have a website, as far as I know. They didn't even have a Western toilet. Good sound system, projection t.v., lots of movie choices (including a few Korean pornos that made me feel a bit squeamish about the sofa I was sitting on), and a friendly attendant, but the building was old and the bathroom... traditional.

My second movie choice was much better. I watched "My Super ex-Girlfriend." Funny, silly, lighthearted. Made me forget how bad it is when Horyon gets mad at me. Again, a perfect choice to take my mind of events. I laughed out loud a few times, and enjoyed the rest. I may have to rent this one again, because Horyon might enjoy it. If you enjoy super hero movies at all, check this one out.

I then went back to the embassy. They told me in the morning to come back at 3:30, and it was only 3:00, but I couldn't stay away. After a five minute wait, they gave me Horyon's passport and a big packet that we are supposed to give to the immigration people when we arrive in America. We are not supposed to open it before then.

Kind of makes me think of the way that kings and emperors used to kill men by having them deliver their own death sentences to someone else, except I'm sure that's not what this is.

After getting the visa, I stopped by Durga again and bought enough food to feed all of us one genuine Nepali meal. Lunch or dinner tomorrow, I suppose. I couldn't resist. I just haven't gotten enough Nepali food in the past few years, and I wanted to show my support for them.

I got to Seoul station just a little bit late for the 4:30 train, so I bought a ticket for 5:00, arriving in Pusan just before 8 (an hour and a half ago). I enjoyed a live South American band named Sisay playing outside before my train left. Bought one of their CDs and got them to autograph it for me. I enjoy that style of music, though I kind of expect this CD to sound an awful lot like the other two CDs by similar groups that I have bought in the past.

The train trip was uneventful, with Burger King food consumed en route. I listened to my MP3 player and read a trashy detective novel until we got to Pusan. Taxi home, change of clothes, called my parents, and wrote this entry.

Now Maxine and Grandpa are here, so it's time for me to stop and go play with my daughter.

We will be seeing some of you very soon!!!!!

Peace (at last!),


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good News!

I have good news for those of you who want Horyon and I to leave Korea as quickly as possible:

I am in Seoul right now (took the Seoul Train at 5 a.m. this morning, just over 5 hours ago). I went straight to the American Embassy with some paperwork that Mom and Dad spent $73 to send to us. I gave it to the nice woman at the window, then waited for about 45 minutes. I then talked to an American guy who told me I could come back at 3:30 to pick up her visa.

Yeah baby! Five hours and 38 minutes from now (plus however long I have to wait in line, of course) I will have Horyon's visa in my hands!

Horyon is going to call the travel agent and make some ticket choices as soon as she can get Maxine to stop crying. (I left them in Pusan, because in the distant past our male ancestors went out to kill dangerous meat while our female ancestors stayed home to beat the kids.)

My next post will have our travel plans. I promise to get it up here within 24 hours. In the mean time, I'm going to a video room and watch some stupid movie to kill me some time.

Peace, at last!


Friday, April 06, 2007

Fasting and Feasting

My dear friend Melanie sent me these words by William Arthur Ward. I am very fortunate to have friends who help me to look beyond the immediate inconveniences in my life for the greater meanings. Quite a few of these phrases hit home for me, as I am not following their suggestions very well these days.

And so I would like to suggest that if you happen to be someone who does pray for Maxine, Horyon and me, first pray that Horyon and I would follow this advice. You can pray about Horyon's visa second.

Fasting and Feasting
by William Arthur Ward

Fast from judging others;

feast on the Christ dwelling in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences;

feast on the unity of life.

Fast from words that pollute;

feast on phrases that purify.

Fast on anger;

feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism;

feast on optimism.

Fast from worry;

feast on divine order.

Fast from complaining;

feast on appreciation.

Fast from unrelenting pressures;

feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from bitterness;

feast on forgiveness.

Fast from concern for self;

feast on compassion for others.

Fast from discouragement;

feast on hope.

Fast from suspicion;

feast on truth.

Fast from thoughts that weaken;

feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from idle gossip;

feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm;

feast on prayer that undergirds.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Escape Velocity

We are having trouble achieving escape velocity from Korea. This is due, in part, to our destination. In spite of what you have heard about the hoards of people who walk to America across the southern border and eventually just sort of become citizens by default, it's not that easy for others.

If you are coming from Korea, you have to get your paperwork in order. And we had our paperwork almost in order. But as I tell my students, "almost" means "not". And so we are waiting.

We were sort of counting on the United States Postal Service to perform as they have in the past. Usually when my parents send us a letter, it takes around a week or ten days. Not this time. They sent it registered mail. We now have a clearer understanding of what "registered mail" means, and that meaning does not in any way include "faster".

We do have one bit of good news: the travel agent has told us that we can change our departure date from the day after tomorrow (impossible) to an indeterminate date. This is good news because changing the date costs $50 for each of our three tickets. So we're out $150, but we don't have to decide a specific date until we want to.

We've pretty much decided that once we have Horyon's visa in our hands we will give ourselves enough time to get Horyon's pension money, then hop on a plane and take off.

In the mean time, we are continuing to learn these lessons about humility and struggling to impose meaning on the whole situation. Last night Horyon's mother dreamed that I was struggling to cross a river that I wasn't supposed to cross. Interesting, because I also dreamed about being in water, but my dream was a bit creepier. I was swimming in a dark place that felt like a cave, with some other people. And there were things swimming in the water with us, things that wanted to get us. Creepy. But also bizarre. There were also pieces of soap in the water, and someone told me not to eat the soap, as though it were a dire warning. And somehow I knew that eating the soap would alter my perceptions, make the whole terrible situation seem just fine. I'm not sure whether I wanted to eat it or not, but I woke up with my heart beating furiously and wondering why my clothes weren't wet. Except for my pants.

On the other hand, Maxine is having fun. Lately she has retaken an interest in mimicking us. She says, "Abba" (the Korean word for "father", not exactly the same as the Greek) a lot, and I usually respond with the typical Korean, "Nay?" ("Yes?" or "What?"). Sometimes we go back and forth a dozen times. Sometimes I reply with "Baby?" instead, which is one of my main ways to address Maxine. The other day when I said "baby" she very clearly replied with "baby" a couple of times. Of course, there were no witnesses, and I couldn't get her to do it again with anyone watching. She never does our favorite tricks for audiences. No need to fear that we will sell her to the circus, because they don't buy kids who are just really cute.

But if you give her enough time to be comfortable with new people, she will come through with some things. She likes the little songs they sing at church, especially the ones with cute hand motions. On one song she does about a third of them, and sings along with the part that goes "Nay! Nay! Nay! Nay!" Adorable.

She truly keeps us sane.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Goodbye, Bicycle

It's time to say goodbye to the bike. We will be leaving Korea sometime in the next week, and I want to find a home for it. If you live in Busan and are interested, go to Pusanweb, go to the Classifieds section (at the top of the home page), and look under "Used Items" (though I may link elsewhere). Of course, you can also just email or call me.

This post is just for me to remember the bike.
It's an Alton carbon-fiber frame. Very light-weight compared to the bikes I rode as a kid. Since I bought it, about four years ago, I've put about 10,000 km on it! That's enough to ride someplace 5,000 km away and back again! It's a hybrid--a cross between a mountain bike and a racing bike. This means that I don't have to lean forward as much as the racing guys, and my wheels are a bit wider. I replaced the off-road tires with street tires, which are much smoother. Makes for a better city-ride. I go off-road so infrequently that I don't mind.
I replaced the gears and chain with Shimano parts around 500 km ago. I didn't know the name before coming here, but I have since found that they make pretty high quality stuff. The original equipment was fine, but when I upgraded it felt like every hill was a bit less steep.
It has a headlight that runs on C batteries. I haven't used it in a long time, because I have no reason to ride at night these days. The taillight is an LED job, very visible from far away, but again, I rarely use it these days. When I was riding home from work every day, I used both a couple of times a week. Dusk falls by 6 p.m., and it's better to be safe than sorry. I've used the bell (to the right of the computer) a lot more. It works sometimes, but there are always people who walk along oblivious. If you are going to run into someone if they step out into the street, usually the best thing to do is yell "Look out!"

The computer you see above is a pretty standard model. It keeps track of current, average and top speed, as well as time spent riding. It has two trip odometers, as well as a general odometer. It's a pretty clever gadget. Measures your speed with a sensor that detects the field from a magnet attached to the front wheel. The more expensive versions have no wires, so you can carry the main gizmo in your pocket. The even more expensive ones come with a sensor you attach to yourself, to measure your heart rate. The frightfully expensive ones actually encourage you to work harder on the really steep hills.
As you can see, this bike took a little damage a couple of years ago. Coming down from Dalmaji, I hit a stretch of wash-board road. It shook me up, I lost control, and took a tumble. Both handlebars have scars, and the gel-seat cover got a bit scuffed. Other than that, the bike took no damage. I, however, lost skin on both elbows, both knees and my chin. I replaced my helmet soon afterwards. It didn't show any signs of damage, but I'm pretty sure it took a couple of hits in lieu of my skull. I have thought about replacing the damaged parts of the bike, but I figure they do two things: 1. They give the bike character (as my scars do to me), and 2. the make it a less likely target to be stolen.
I've had a lot of good experiences with this bike. I thought about taking it to America with me, but a couple of things have stopped that idea in its tracks. First of all, it was the biggest bike the guy had in his shop, but it's just a tiny bit small for me. I replaced the seat post with a longer post, so my legs aren't uncomfortable, but I do have to bend over a bit more than I like. I definitely wouldn't recommend this bike to anyone taller than I (5' 11"). Second, I don't think I qualify yet as a bicycle geek, but I am getting there. I spent about $500 on this bike, and have upgraded most of the moving parts. Now I'm ready for a bigger upgrade. I'm planning to spend $700-$800 in the states on a used bike. That's getting into the price range of people who are geeks, selling their expensive bikes at a huge loss so that they can buy something really expensive.

If we were moving across town, this one would come with me. But now is the time for me to say goodbye.

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.