Wednesday, October 07, 2015

will I make 20K steps tonight?

I've been walking again, as well as trying not to eat dinner as a way to lose a few kilos before I head back to the States. I did over 18K steps yesterday, mostly on the looping bike trail at the park beside my building (it's a nice park, too), and that's a minor record: it's the largest number of steps that I've walked ever since I activated my new Samsung pedometer app.

Tonight, I'm going to walk another 90 or 100 minutes to try to cross the 20K mark and get up to where I used to be. Of course, such walks aren't nearly as beneficial as walking up a mountain would be, but I can't walk Daemosan at night without a flashlight (or after a rain—too slippery for us fatties), and 20K steps on level ground isn't nothing.

Wish me luck. I'm off to the races.

UPDATE: I limped back in after a walk of 21.3K steps. Distance: almost exactly 11 miles. Almost 1,000 calories burned.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

my ass bellows in delight

I had ordered three bottles' worth of fiber capsules from iHerb some time ago, and they've finally arrived! Woo-hoo! At least I know I can order from iHerb more or less reliably now. This is good; I was getting antsy about going without fiber for several weeks.


Monday, October 05, 2015

mentally ready for a trip to the States

I've got two "comp days" under my belt because I worked four hours late on two weekdays, then worked nearly a full day two Saturdays ago. I'm using one comp day to take off on October 13, the day before I launch off to Virginia. This will give me a full day to pack. I'm holding the other comp day in reserve.

Man, I'm ready to go to the States. It's really a shame, though, that I won't be able to do much of anything while I'm there: I land at National Airport on the night of the 14th, right before midnight; I stay overnight at my buddy Mike's house that night, grab my car (which Mike has been keeping in trust), shop for a SIM card in Fredericksburg on the morning of the 15th, then drive to West Virginia so I can check in at the resort lodge where the wedding will be taking place. The 15th is also Sean's birthday, so there'll be those festivities to consider. The 16th will be the day of the wedding rehearsal, but there's also some sort of cocktail/social event happening so that the wedding guests all have a chance to mingle. The 17th is the day of the wedding, so that day is obviously filled. I leave the resort on the morning of the 18th, have dinner with a former student that same day, then fly back to South Korea the following day—the 19th. A whirlwind trip this will be.

That said, it'll be good to breathe American air again, at least for a little while. I love living in Seoul, but every now and then it's nice to be out and about, far away from the madding crowd, and I'm happy to be in a financial position where I can afford such a trip. I'm also pretty much done with all my wedding-related prep; all I need to do now is study up a bit on wedding procedure, figure out what I'm going to say during the homily section of the ceremony, and learn how to tie the two traditional knots on my dang hanbok*—not to mention figuring out how to disrobe quickly in case of restroom emergencies. I also need to pack, but I'll have all day on the 13th to do that.

Yeah... I'm ready to do some traveling.

*I just checked out YouTube, and sure enough, there are plenty of how-to videos. I'm gonna watch one of those videos maybe fifty times, then practice tying those knots fifty times or until I've gotten the hang of it—whichever comes first.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

fettuccine faux-Fredo makes another appearance

Dinner tonight:

Ever since I decided to replace the standard Parmigiano with bleu or Gorgonzola in my fettuccine Alfredo (thus turning it into a faux-Fredo), I haven't looked back. It's the sort of trade-up that everyone should make when they get the chance: find a superior ingredient, improve an already-good dish, and ratchet yourself that much higher up the culinary ladder, outdoing yourself again and again.

Tonight's meal's components included: fettuccine (some weird brand named Divella, which cooked up rubbery instead of a proper al dente); thick-cut, crisp-fried bacon; mushrooms pan-fried in butter and olive oil, with powdered garlic, salt, and pepper; chicken done the same way; crème supérieure; butter; Gorgonzola; baby leaves (mostly spinach).

Quite nice.


paperwork problem solved

I called the Secretary of State's office in West Virginia to see what needed to be done about my paperwork. I had been worried that I wouldn't be able to file the paperwork in time to be approved as a licensed and registered minister in West Virginia.

As it turned out, I needn't have worried: an affable fellow named Josh reassured me that his office receives requests all the time from desperate people who say they're performing a wedding the next day but aren't registered. According to Josh, if I'm ordained (which I am), I can legally perform the wedding and sign the marriage license (which Sean and Jeff are taking care of) even before the paperwork has officially processed through.

Josh then transferred me to the cashier's office so that I could verbally give my payment information instead of sending it via email or in an attached file. All I need to do, then—and I began working on this yesterday—is finish up the paperwork, email it to Josh, and request that the cashier's office take out the amount I need to pay for me to be licensed and registered.

Josh also noted that his office is the only one I need to work with: I had thought I'd also need to contact the local county clerk's office, but apparently that's not necessary. Hey, I'm not going to complain about that.

So today, I'm finishing up the licensing/registration paperwork, emailing it to West Virginia, then concentrating on working on the future spouses' wedding program: Sean told me that he and Jeff would like me to fill the program out with content (ritual words, etc.) and make it more liturgical or substantive. Et voilà.


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015


On Saturday, I have to go into town to pick up my hanbok. Later that day, I need to get cracking with all my minister-related duties because—ta-da—my package finally arrived.


The timing of this package's arrival was infuriating. I had ordered the damn thing on August 21. A month and a week went by; I finally used USPS's "contact us" service to let them know that I was still waiting for my package. In the meantime, having lost all patience, I re-ordered the package, but told my brother David not to send it on to me: instead, I had him just scan the important pages and email the images to me to work with, as we'd done with Mom's death certificate. I had paid $91 for the first package because I had ordered some extra how-to material along with the basic paperwork. The second time, when I re-ordered, I got only the basics, which set me back $35. On top of that, I paid $21 for expedited shipping. Then, as I suspected would happen, the first package—the one costing $91—arrived at Dongguk University, and I got the email from my former department announcing the package's arrival on the same day that my brother scanned and emailed me the important pages from the second package, thus making the second package unnecessary.

I want to kill somebody.

As I said, I had ordered the package back in August, i.e., back when I was about to move out of Goyang City and into my new residence. Not knowing my new address at the time, I elected to have the package sent to Dongguk University, the only stable address I knew. I wonder whether having the package sent to Dongguk did something to lengthen the shipping time. I also wonder whether the package simply sat there at ROK Customs—for weeks—while the staffers jerked off all day long.

I feel sorry for David, who basically did double work for no real return. I'll try to make it up to him when I see him in a couple weeks.

Wow. A couple weeks. This is really happening.

OK... gotta get busy.


Thursday, October 01, 2015

dad and boy

My buddy JW and his son Ji-an at one of the many small summits along the fortress wall of Namhan-sanseong, just south of Seoul. We were out there on September 13, hiking the more modest trails. Ji-an had originally claimed he wanted to do some "real" hiking up Daemosan, but it soon became obvious that he wasn't even ready for the gentle challenge of our section of Namhan Fortress. "Every second... feels like an hour," he puffed while walking up a not-exactly-steep 0.8 km rise. I smiled. It wasn't as though I was having an easy time of it, either: I'm way out of shape. But I had already hiked Daemosan, so I knew what would be in store if Ji-an truly wanted to tackle something substantial.

Anyway, minor whining aside, we all had a good time at the fortress—a place I hadn't visited since the 1990s. We sat down at one of the myriad restaurants nestled in the fortress's mountains and enjoyed jeon—Korean pancakes. Ji-an might not have much endurance, but he does have a great sense of humor, and he laughed at my stupid jokes. It was dark by the time we left Namhan-sanseong; JW drove me back while Ji-an slumbered in his passenger seat.

I have more photos of this trip. Once I have time and energy, I'll slap the whole series up. Sit tight until then.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I feel Charles's pain

My buddy Charles just published a post in which he noted a certain lack of motivation to write. True: sometimes it's hard to summon up the mighty ball juice to put something out there. Tonight, at least, I think I know how he feels, although perhaps for different reasons. Charles says that he asks himself whether what he has to say is worth saying out loud, and the answer is often "no." If anything, he finds himself biting his tongue or, as he puts it, self-censoring. In my case, I have plenty of (generally stupid) shit to say, but because I now work corporate hours, I find myself coming home tired, lapping only halfheartedly at Thalia's crotch whenever I sit down to blog, bathing in a sad, stingy trickle of her inspiration-juice.

But fear not, Charles, for we are men, and these things always move in cycles. What is limp now will be tumescent in good time, and when our ardor quickens and the gleam comes again to our eye, we will prowl the meadow of fresh ideas that lies open and sunlit before us, seizing by the neck every unsuspecting prairie dog that dares to pop out, impaling those little bastards on our oak-hard shafts. And when one prairie dog has been death-fucked, its creative essence now a lubricant for our rigid exultation, we'll move on to the next—and to the next—and TO THE NEXT—until we are wearing prairie-dog condoms! And when the last prairie dog has been sent screaming to hell, we'll run madly through the fields, our creativity-boners preceding us like swollen, bouncing knights' lances, fair maidens leaping and squealing and grabbing at our fur-covered manhoods as we streak by, faster than thought itself.

And on that propitious day, good friend, we shall write.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and other news

I've gotten my new mailing address listed on iHerb, now that I've moved, and I celebrated the address change by ordering three bottles' worth of psyllium-fiber capsules (for great justice). I've also done an address change for Wi Mae Peu (We Make Price), the delivery company that had proven to be such a pain in the ass in the past. Ideally, now that I have a stable address that can accept large parcels in my absence, I shouldn't have the same troubles anymore. WMP's prices really are much cheaper than those at most brick-and-mortar stores, so I'd like to get back to using them.

In other news: I had ordered, back in mid-August, a "licensing kit" to get myself licensed and registered as a minister able to solemnize marriages in the state of West Virginia. The kit had arrived at my brother David's house, and David sent the package to me care of Dongguk University on August 24th. Over the past 30-plus days, I've contacted Dongguk several times and have heard nothing. I've also tried contacting USPS via its online query/complaint forms, but so far nada, and I'm getting antsy. My brother Sean's wedding is in just another couple of weeks. I've reordered the kit and have asked David to scan the documents inside it so that he can email them to me, after which I'll fill out the docs and email them to the appropriate county clerk and the Secretary of State of West Virginia. In theory, that'll all be done this week, and I'll be able to enjoy a stress-free flight back to the States in mid-October.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

your Chuseok morsel for the evening

Prosciutto. Wrapped around three thin slices of Romano.

Microwaved for a full minute.

Result: flavorful ensemble, delightfully chewy meat, and wonderfully crunchy cheese.

Downside: your apartment will stink.

Happy Chuseok, all.


"Big Hero 6" and "The Hundred-foot Journey": mini-reviews

2014's "Big Hero 6": There's very little I can say about this movie that hasn't already been said by Steve Honeywell in his review. Steve zooms in on the movie's essential problem: while the story is affable and entertaining, it's also derivative and predictable. I completely agree. Humorously scripted and done with excellent voice work by the cast, the movie nevertheless fails in its attempt to head-fake us about who the real villain is. I figured out who it was long before the reveal, mainly because the dialogue had been leaning so hard in the opposite direction. As for the derivative elements: look for images straight out of "Kung Fu Panda," "The Matrix," and "How to Train Your Dragon," and watch out for the Iron-Man-beyond-the-space-portal scene that looks lifted from the first "Avengers" movie. This film is also, strangely enough, a Marvel tie-in (it's based on a Marvel comic), so there are plenty of familiar origin-story elements. What the movie gets right, though, is its gentle depiction of how to deal with the loss of a loved one, so it can't be all bad. That said, I have no inclination to watch "Big Hero 6" again anytime soon, and it's weird to think that these cartoon characters are all an integral part of the Marvel universe. Will Groot ever meet Baymax?

"The Hundred-foot Journey" is the story of an Indian family that, for reasons of political strife in the homeland, moves first to England, then to France, in search of a place to put down roots and open an Indian restaurant. The family settles on a property, in the middle of a picturesque French village, that sits exactly one hundred feet across the street from a Michelin-rated restaurant run by the imperious widow Madame Mallory (Dame Helen Mirren). What begins as a bitter rivalry between the two restaurants becomes a friendship—but you knew this going in because you've already seen the preview trailer, which basically gives away the entire movie. As with "Big Hero 6," the plot is entirely predictable. Dame Helen also seems to be struggling with her French; she speaks it with a heavy British accent. As fupomus go (my own term for the "food-porn movie" sub-genre), "Journey" is more self-conscious than "Chef" was—more self-conscious and a lot less fun. I also had trouble understanding why everyone who spoke French would keep alternating between French and English, even when they didn't have to. These complaints aside, "Journey" is a well-intended movie. Not deep or memorable, but not bad as a form of light entertainment—more amuse-bouche than plat principal.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

good save?

I'm running on about an hour of sleep as I'd pulled an all-nighter last night, so this blog entry will be fairly brief, I hope.

Disaster struck early this morning when my spaghetti sauce burned. Chalk it up to inattentiveness caused by drowsiness. I had also been cooking meatballs at the boss's request, and while the sauce had been compromised, the meatballs turned out to be surprisingly excellent. So—change of plan: instead of serving pasta, I elected to do meatball subs. This meant hitting a bakery and grabbing a shitty baguette. The boss, meanwhile, felt that a single baguette wouldn't be enough, so he lumbered downstairs and found some fresh-baked hoagie rolls that were only a step away from being Vietnamese-style personal-sized bánh mì baguettes. They proved to be the perfect size for my meatballs. I also quickly bought a bottled tomato sauce from the grocer in our office building's basement. This was to give the meatballs a bath in which to sit while they were being reheated in our office's microwave. That was a revelation to me: I'd had no clue that the first-floor bakery made and sold hoagie rolls. Are there enough Westerners in the area to justify making such explicitly Western bread?

The original plan had been to have my boss and my coworker over for lunch, but I scrapped that plan in favor of feeding all three of us at the office (because this is Chuseok Saturday, no one else from the company was there). I think this worked out better for everyone, and it was easy for me to tote my lunch materials to the office in my large Costco shopping bag. The real question, of course, was whether the revised lunch would be a success.

I think it was. My coworker told me it was the best lunch he'd had since he'd gone on his recent vacation cruise (which took the cake, for him, mainly because of the vast panoply of food options on offer); my boss merely rumbled, "I'm full" after downing his meatball sub. Lunch also included insalata caprese, but the basil leaves had turned a horrifying dark green because I had stored the salad too high inside the fridge: the proximity to the freezer had caused the leaves to darken. The salad still tasted fine, but the texture suffered a bit.

For dessert, I had also bought a Paris Baguette cheesecake. As I've mentioned before, I think cheesecake is one of the few bakery items that Koreans do better than Americans. I'd pick Korean cheesecake over American any day of the week: it's lighter and fluffier, but still cheesecake-y enough to be recognizable as cheesecake. Costco's American-style cheesecake, by contrast, is heavy and lugubrious, and getting through two slices of it is an actual chore. Today, at the office, we had cheesecake for dessert, topped with my homemade berry sauce. Like it says in Genesis, And it was good.

Some pics of today's lunch. Below, my boss's sandwich before the Great Cheesing:

Next—the same sandwich with Parmesan cheese on it. The meatballs themselves are ground beef with egg, salt and pepper, plus dried parsley, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese. I didn't have bread crumbs at hand, but it turns out that you don't need them: the cheese and egg are sufficient as binding agents. I've filed that fact for future reference.

Another glimpse of a meatball sub:

Below, plump meatballs swimming in a bowl of red sauce:

Next up: a picture of my own sandwich

Finally, dessert:


Friday, September 25, 2015

gearing up

So I'm feeding lunch to two big, hungry guys tomorrow. Gonna cook until well past midnight, clean my place, sleep a few winks, get up early in the morning, finish prepping, go to work, yawn my way through several chapters of proofreading, feed my boss and coworker lunch, then collapse bonelessly onto my lovely bed and catch up on all the sleep I'll have missed. I won't worry bout cleanup until I've had a nice afternoon's (and possibly evening's) snooze.

Ought to be fun. There might even be photos.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

spaghetti it is, then

My boss has told us that we need to come in this Saturday for a half-day's extra work on a textbook project. This will involve massive proofreading of hard copies of the manuscript (I've already stayed late—twice this week—proofing the electronic files, which got sent off to our printer, who will be sending us hard copies to look over tomorrow and Saturday), so that's mostly on me, as I'm the resident proofreader/editor, although the boss and my coworker will be sharing the workload.

I had thought about cooking a pre-Chuseok meal for the boss and my coworker (let's just call them The Men from now on), so I emailed them last night to ask about their meal preferences since we all have to work an extra half-day on Saturday. (Before I found out we had Saturday work to do, I had originally wanted to know whether The Men would be up for a Friday meal served in the office. When Saturday was put on the table, I changed the day to Saturday, and the boss suggested we have the meal at my place as a sort of housewarming-ish party.)

I offered the following selection:

1. spaghetti bolognese + caprese salad
2. American-style Chinese cashew chicken + oi-kimchi
3. chicken and pasta with pesto + caprese
4. Southern comfort food: pulled-pork sandwiches, cole slaw, sweet frank-and-beans
5. choucroute alsacienne (wurst/meats + sauerkraut + apples + potatoes, all cooked in beer)
6. budae-jjigae + rice + oi-kimchi (or Korean-style slaw)
7. Tex-Mex: taco salad

Today, the boss said he's partial to the bolognese—but with meatballs—while my coworker said he was fine with whatever, as long as there was no seafood involved.

So—bolognese on Saturday it is: The Men will be coming over to my place for a sort of housewarming-ish party, and we'll eat a late lunch of spaghetti bolognese, insalata caprese, some sort of Korean slaw that takes advantage of the ton of apples I'd been given as a Chuseok gift, garlic bread, and God only knows what else.