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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Church Today (Yesterday!)

OK, I started writing this once. I was pretty much finished, when I stopped to have a conversation with my lovely wife. I buzzed around a couple of things I was working on, and when I came back to post it, everything but the title was gone. Gone, gone, gone.

You are probably saying to yourself, "Rob is an idiot. He should know by now to save frequently whilst composing documents on his electronic computing machine." That is something I have had problems with in the past, but Blogger just started a new feature that automatically saves your writing every couple of minutes, in case something bad happens, like a severe computer crash, the electricity going out, or the second coming. But it didn't count on me looking at other blogs, I guess.

It was late enough that I gave up and went to bed. Good thing, because it was my first night of seeing to Maxine whenever she woke up. I didn't sleep much. She wasn't happy about not seeing mommy, and she let me know in no uncertain terms. I'm hoping that tonight is better.

So back to church yesterday: it was a special day for us because it was the first time since Maxine joined us (on the outside, that is) that Horyon and I sat all the way through a church service together. If you have someone special that you go to church with, you may take this for granted, but it is a true blessing. Being able to discuss the sermon is much easier when you don't have to relate the whole thing to set the context. And when it is an emotional sermon, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to convey that through a conversation. There is also something very comforting about having family with you when the topic is family.

It was a good sermon. The church we've attended for the past three Sundays is First Christian Church (F.C.C.) Lawrence. They have a nice contemporary service at 11:00 Sunday mornings, which, so far, is about as early as we can manage. The Praise Team is not too loud, and quite talented, and so far the preaching has been good.

Maxine spent the service time downstairs in the nursery. Last week I took her down midway through the service and stayed with her. This week we left her with Miss Sofia. One cool thing they have is vibrating pagers, which they give to the parents when they drop off their kids. That way if your child is vomiting or breaking stuff or crying non-stop or whatever they can just buzz you, and you can come deal with the kid right away. That made us feel very confident about leaving her. We said goodbye, and Maxine just kept playing with all the cool toys they have there. And reportedly she never had any problem at all.

So it was a good day for church.

In addition, Mom and Dad came to visit and brought us a sofabed. It's now in our living room. We can now comfortably seat people other than ourselves without resorting to folding chairs or the floor! Happy days!

Unfortunately, I do not yet have pictures of the church, the nursery, or Maxine in the nursery. And while I do have pictures of the sofa (I think), I also have the above video, which is even more entertaining than pictures of the sofa. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Tonight was a good night. A very good night.

My parents came and stayed with Maxine while Horyon and I went out for dinner and a movie. (Dinner was at Arby's, and the movie was Spiderman 3. Both very nice, but not quite worth blogging about, though probably I will a bit anyway.)

Maxine did well with Mom and Dad. They ordered pizza and spaghetti. Maxine loves spaghetti, so she was happy. They told us that she never seemed to notice that we were gone. I was simultaneously happy and disappointed. Well, just a tiny, little bit disappointed. OK, the disappointment faded like the interest in a simile that is expertly crafted yet not quite relevant to the subject and perhaps a bit too long for that matter.

Maxine had a good time.

And for me, the event had a stereoscopic feeling; I still remember staying home with a babysitter while Mom and Dad went out for the evening. Mom's coworker had a couple of teen-aged daughters who were our regular sitters until we were old enough to make long-distance calls and drink all the beer ourselves.

I don't think Maxine will start remembering events like this for a little while yet, but when she does, I expect her to have some of the same feelings I did:

* Jealousy: Mom and Dad are doing something fun WITHOUT ME!!!!
* Anticipation: Special treats came with being baby-sat, such as
- t.v. dinners (which we rarely ate at the Sack home)
- permission to watch Fantasy Island in its entirety (I always thought Cathy was cool for allowing this one, though in hindsight my parents may have told her to not worry so much about the bedtime, just so we would think she was cool.)
* Excitement: Something different is happening! Whoooaaaaaa!!!!

I don't remember ever being afraid, and Maxine didn't show any anxiety at all tonight. It might have been because it was Grandpa and Grandma, but she gets comfortable with other people quickly in general.

And so tonight, as Horyon and I went out the door (deliberately skipping the good-bye for this first time), I finally started to see the experience in depth, from the perspective of both parent and child. I can't make out the grandparent point of view quite as clearly as the other two, but I understand it better for having talked with my parents about it.

Speaking of which, I would just like to state, for the record, that my parents, Richard Arnold Sack and Erin Ann (Euler) Sack are pretty awesome grandparents. For Mother's Day we got Mom a bottle of wine. We wanted to get more, but as she is quick to point out, she doesn't really need more stuff. Her response to the wine was that she was just happy to have us here.

Fair enough, but that cost me around $8,000, if you include visa fees, airfare and shipping for all of our stuff. We were certainly happy to oblige, but I don't think we'll be spending that much next year, Mom.

But we will be here.

[One note: these pictures are not from tonight, as we did not take any pictures tonight. Sorry.]

Monday, May 21, 2007

First shot at using YouTube

It seems to me that many of my readers simply can not appreciate how cute Maxine is based on pictures and my pitiful scribblings. In order to remedy this situation, I have registered at YouTube, and am even now attempting to link this post to a video which I have put up on that esteemed site.

If it works, you should get a video of Maxine eating ice cream, right here on this page! If it doesn't work, I recommend going to YouTube and searching for Maxine Eating Ice cream. Or something like that.

Oh,and one more thing: Aubrey is back! Go check her blog! I've got a link over there on the left.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Nothin' But 'Net (and phone)

That's right, we have internet, right in our home. Not just the slow free stuff, either. Genuine cable internet. Fast enough for our needs. Soon you will be seeing pictures of us doing what we do on a regular (for me) basis.

My Dad working:
My wife messing with the new refrigerator:
Us getting our first mail (a gift card for Bed, Bath and Beyond from Aunt Becky! Thanks!)
And, of course, Maxine. Playing:
and just being cute:
No, this was not a natural pose. I had to position her and get out of the way quickly for Horyon to take the picture. She kept wanting to get up and bounce around because we were laughing and having a good time watching her.

I know, it's been a long time without much posting. It was almost two weeks from the time I called until Sunflower (our phone and internet company) could get out here. I thought that was a long wait until they got started. First there was one guy, and he told me he had some work to do outside before he would come in. So I cleaned out the garage a bit, trying to expose enough floor to walk through. We still have many boxes piled out there, but we have whittled it down considerably from the original 54. I won't be parking our minivan inside for some time.

After about an hour, I wandered around the house to see what was going on. The guy told me that he needed some help, and another guy was on his way. Eventually there were three of them here, in three separate vehicles. They didn't bug me at all, though we had a slight problem getting the phone to work; apparently he had forgotten to flip a switch somewhere. Quickly solved. The original guy spent about two hours and 45 minutes here. I'm not sure how long the other guys spent, but it seemed like a lot of manpower to me. And this was in a house which had internet and phone service from the same company until just a couple of months ago. I don't want to think about starting fresh.

I do have a lot of posting to do. I will probably never get caught up on the past few months. And soon I will have to get a job, as well as finish settling into the house (where do we put all of our stuff?), mowing the yard from time to time (it's less fun the third time than the first), finding things around town (though I know where Home Depot, Target and Wal-Mart are), planning for the fall (I'd sure like to be teaching), spending time with Maxine (she is getting more communicative all the time!), and riding my bike (I just bought a new one Wednesday, after going through a minor car problem).

So keep your eye on Roblog. If you want my phone number, email me. If you want to stop by, wait until we have enough furniture to invite you to have a seat at the same time that we sit.



Saturday, May 12, 2007

Desperately hoping...

In my previous post I mentioned that we would be getting internet at home by Thursday. Tonight Hoyron asked if I could get her Korean laptop computer working, and I said, "Sure." I plugged it in after double-checking the voltage on the adapter, then started it up. I figured I might play a little Spider Solitaire, but out of curiosity decided to check whether or not the internet was working.

Imagine my surprise when I found that it was. No cables, no connections. There are about a dozen wireless networks within reach of this laptop. Most of them require passwords, but "Freenet" is just sitting there, with a very inviting name, ready for anyone with the right hardware to just log on and get busy.

Dude! How awesome is that? And it's faster than my parents' connection!

Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if I were downloading a ton of viruses even as I write this. The darned computer keeps asking me questions in Korean, and I just sort of guess at "yes" or "no". It hasn't exploded yet, so I guess I'm OK.

Anyway, it looks like we're in business here. I'm waiting to get wired access before buying anything online, but I figure that anyone stealing my log-on for Roblog is more likely to improve my content than to screw it up.

It's after midnight, and I'm tired. I drove to Leavenworth and back and did some serious shopping today. Almost every day is a serious shopping day for us, it seems. I bought a drill today, because you can't be a real manly man without a drill. I also bought mustard, because you can't make a proper ham sandwich without mustard. And I bought a new shower head that is a bit higher than our old one, because I was getting tired of squatting in the shower to get my hair wet, and we wanted one with a hose so that we could wash Maxine more easily.

Maxine loves taking a shower. She complains when we take her out.

Horyon wants to use her computer now, and I have a task in the kitchen: for my dinner I wanted to make some instant potatoes, so I put the water, milk and butter in a pan and turned on the stove. It seemed to be warming up slowly, but I'm still getting used to using electricy instead of gas. Then I smelled smoke. I had turned on the wrong burner, and instead of warming up my liquids I was burning the hell out of Horyon's rice, which she had just finished cooking.

I felt terrible, and apologized repeatedly, as well as offering to clean the pot. Fortunately it is a Visions Cookware pot, so I don't expect too much trouble. Nevertheless, if I don't get on it, it won't get done.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

a short post

I'm now on Central Standard Time. I had previously neglected to change a setting in Blogger, but it is now taken care of.

I don't have internet at home yet. Should be in next Thursday. Until then, don't figure on getting another Roblog post. Sorry.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Culture Shock 1

These days Dad and I are driving back and forth to the house in Lawrence almost every day. If traffic permits, we can go one way in just over 45 minutes. If we get behind the guy who is talking on his cell phone and drinking coffee while driving this winding, unpassable road, we can easily get up to an hour. And so I find myself with very little time for posting to Roblog. This is a shame, because the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion, events, and culture shock, and I want to capture some of these feelings while they are still stirring my neurons.

First, allow me to review the concept of culture shock: Culture shock is when you suddenly realize on a gut level that you are no longer in the culture that you were used to. Often this comes from moving from one country to another, but anyone who has seen "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding" realizes that it is very possible to experience without leaving your home town. And if you think there are no possibilities for culture shock in your home town, you are either living in a very small town, or you need to meet a wider variety of people in your town.

It's not always negative. Like the "shock" of tasting a new food that is destined to be your favorite even though it looks so-so and no one has previously told you anything about it. Something so good that your mouth can't quite believe that it hasn't died and gone to heaven. It incapacitates your ability to think or take in information through your other senses. You most likely gasp, moan or utter some sort of demi-religious comment.

You may have heard the term "reverse culture shock" to describe the experience of people in my situation: they have spent a long time in a different country, then return to their country of origin, only to find that you can never go back home. To me, there is little point in using the word "reverse". Culture shock is culture shock.

Anyway, on to the examples:

When we got off the plane in Minneapolis, I went to the bathroom. I was pleasantly shocked to find that I could stand at a urinal without physically touching the guys standing on either side of me! Not only that, there were little dividing walls separating us! But wait, there's more! Neither of them leaned over for a surreptitious look at my business! And the restroom itself, which was very public, did not smell of urine!

That little shock was when I first really, truly realized that I was no longer in Korea. Granted, if I were to go to a restroom in a sports stadium, I would likely notice very few differences from the average Korean restroom. And I had the pleasure of using a number of restrooms in Korea that could have been found in an American restaurant. But this Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport restroom was not what I had gotten used to over the past ten years.

Likewise, buying a cola was quite an experience. In the last couple of weeks I have relearned that you don't order a "large" coke unless you are either very, very thirsty or at Sonic, where they have two sizes larger than the cup they label "large". At Sonic, their "large" is old-school large, and it's usually good enough for me. And I love their cherry-limeades, with real chunks of lime thrown in for good measure. Goodness, that is a lovely beverage.

And while I'm on the subject of soft-drinks, I am still shocked at what a wide variety of beverages are available at fast-food restaurants, never mind the quarter-mile aisle of the grocery store. The cola-wars may be over, but we are still tasting the sweet fall-out. The other day I bought a case of "Pepsi Summer", a limited time version of Pepsi, specially created to celebrate the delights of summer by adding a fruity after-taste to Pepsi.

I like it. It's kind of similar to Lemon Pepsi, which I also enjoyed. I drank it semi-faithfully, and it disappeared off of shelves within a few months. My therapist says it's ridiculous, even arrogant to blame myself for this. What does a multi-national corporation like Pepsico care about the drinking habits of a between-jobs-English-teacher? Yeah, that's right: nothing.

Here's another shock: everything you buy here costs more than the price tag says, and if it's food at a restaurant, it costs like 20 or 30 percent more! What the heck! You get up to the counter and they say, "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you have to pay sales tax on that, so it's more than the price tag says. Yeah, I could have included the tax on the price tag, but I guess I was busy pointing this laser scanner at that dude to see how much he would cost." Lame. You may not think so, because you are used to it, but trust me: it is possible to label an object with the actual amount of money that you will have to fork over if you want to own it. If they can do it in Korea, I'm sure that we can do it here.

So that's seven percent (in Kansas, like I care what they do in those other freaky states). Throw in tips, and things get expensive pretty quickly. I'm not complaining about tips, but they were a shock to come back to. I believe that tipping is a fantastic way to reward servers in proportion to the job that they do. Just think about it: how many opportunities do you have to wait until a job is done and then decide how much you are going to pay?

Speaking of money, where the heck are all the A.T.M.s? In Pusan they were all over the place, but here you're going to need a car to find one. And a treasure map. And maybe a parrot to ride on your shoulder.

Yikes. It's after midnight. I've been waking up before seven for the last couple of weeks, so I'd better get to bed. I'll be back with more culture shock and stuff whenever I get around to it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I karate chopped an ipod because Big Bird said to and he's my leader.

My friend Penny forwarded this to me, and it was entertaining enough for me to post it here. If I am infringing on someone's copyrighted material, please post a comment on it and I will remove it posthaste. Though to be fair, I did fix a few spelling mistakes and straightened out some grammar that was a bit weak, so I think I'm entitled to post it.

Pick the month you were born:

January---------I kicked
February-------I loved
March----------I karate chopped
April-----------I licked
May------------I jumped on
June------------I smelled
July------------I did the Macarena with
August---------I had lunch with
September-----I danced with
October--------I sang to
November------I yelled at
December------I ran over

Pick the date on which you were born:

1--------a birdbath
2--------a monster
3--------a phone
4--------a fork
5--------a snowman
6--------a gangster
7--------my cell phone
8--------my dog
9--------my best friends' boyfriend
10-------my neighbor
11-------my science teacher
12-------a banana
13-------a fireman
14-------a stuffed animal
15-------a goat
16-------a pickle
17-------your mom
18-------a spoon
19-------a Smurf
20-------a baseball bat
21-------a ninja
22-------Chuck Norris
23-------a noodle
24-------a squirrel
25---- ---a football player
26-------my sister
27-------my brother
28-------an ipod
29-------a surfer
30-------a llama
31-------A homeless guy

Pick the color of shirt you are wearing:

White--------because I'm cool like that.
Black---------because that's how I roll.
Pink----------because I'm NOT crazy.
Red----------because the voices told me to.
Blue----------because I'm sexy and I do what i want.
Green---------because I think I need some serious help.
Purple--------because I'm AWESOME!
Gray----------because Big Bird said to and he's my leader.
Yellow--------because someone offered me 1,000,000 dollars.
Orange -------because my family thinks I'm stupid anyway.
Brown--------because I can.
Other---------because I'm a Ninja!
None----------because I can't control myself.

Now type out the sentence you made, in the subject line and forward to your friends [or post in on your own blog]. Don't forget to send it back to the person that sent it to you! [Unless you don't forward stuff, in which case don't send it to anyone.] I can't wait to see what you get stuck with [feel free to post your results as comments here on the Roblog].

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.