Thursday, October 31, 2019

Day 29 of the walk = finally written up

I still have an epilogue post to write, which will discuss many aspects of the trek and give something of a behind-the-scenes perspective on things, but for the moment, I'll note that I've just written up the report for Day 29, the final day of the walk. Scroll to the bottom of the Day 29 post on the walk blog to see that summary.

I've also been slowly but surely adding "photo essays" to the walk blog, uploading the full complement of pics taken every day of the walk. No captions yet; those are coming. I'm working backwards, chronologically, so there are currently pics going back in time from October 26 to October 4. Eventually, I'll have pics uploaded all the way through September 28, the first day of the walk. The images are located at the bottom of each blog post; simply scroll down further than you did during your initial reading of each post.

China Uncensored on Mike Pence's speech

Come to China Uncensored for the cheerful sarcasm, stay for the informative and educational news and commentary:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

a touching tribute to Grandpa from Grandpa Kitchen

Sadly, the orphan-feeding, massive-scale-cooking Indian grandpa from the YouTube channel Grandpa Kitchen has passed away. His relatives have created the following tribute video for him, and for a life of service well lived:

Was tue ich an diesem Halloween?

I don't normally watch horror movies anymore. They generally don't scare me; if anything, I usually end up pointing and laughing at the stupidity of the characters on screen. I have two films lined up, however, that I'm hoping might creep me out, and if I get back from work early enough tomorrow evening, I aim to watch them back to back and then, of course, review them for you. Those two films are "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" and "Midsommar," both of which have received generally positive reviews. (Read Steve Honeywell's cultural-anthro review of "Midsommar" here; his actor-appreciative review of "Autopsy" is here.)

I'm going back to the doctor on Friday for an official, job-sanctioned health checkup (not my usual pill run for BP and blood sugar; I did that this past Monday), so according to the Korean protocol, I can't eat anything the morning of the appointment, which I suppose also means I shouldn't be eating anything late at night the previous day. Otherwise, I'd cook some popcorn for myself so as to have a proper movie night. Well... maybe watching horror on an empty stomach will somehow make the movies scarier. We'll see. But part of me is expecting to just point and laugh, like usual.

Larry Elder on Trump's "lynching" tweet

The hypocrisy is so thick you can shovel it:

Go to Instapundit and look up all the times Democrats self-righteously used the term "lynching" to describe perceived unfairness in the political process, especially during the Bill Clinton era. Un-fucking-believable. It takes some nerve to preach about "lynching" rhetoric when you're twenty times as guilty of using it yourself.

terlit redux

I've been back from my cross-country walk for a few days, now, so I've had a chance to quietly observe my toilet's behavior. I may have written more about the toilet saga on my walk blog, but the essence is this: before the walk, my toilet began leaking a tiny bit. I called for repairs; a repair guy eventually showed up, but when I got back to my place to see the repair he had done, it looked as if he'd done nothing except clear away some broken pieces of toilet putty from around the bottom of the toilet—all without resealing the puttied perimeter.

Somewhat pissed off, I texted a photo of the un-repaired toilet to our building's maintenance office along with the barely polite message that I didn't think the guy had actually completed his repairs. By that point, I was just about to go on my walk, and maintenance unhelpfully said I needed to coordinate with the human-resources staffer at my company, thus adding an unnecessary link in the chain of communication (I prefer direct communication whenever possible; adding people merely creates a "game of telephone" scenario that degrades the efficiency of information transfer). Sighing, I texted my with HR liaison the day before my departure for Incheon; she was sympathetic and asked whether we could schedule the repairman to come back to my place while I was gone. I said no, and that I would finish the repairs myself. And that's where we left off.

So now I'm back, which means I've turned the toilet's valve back on, and I've had a chance to see whether there have been any leaks since Sunday. Not a one. This means the repairman did actually fix the leak, but he didn't screw the toilet back down (it still wobbles, which makes me worry a bit about the toilet's wax seal, which can deform easily when the bowl wobbles, thus allowing more leakage), and he didn't re-putty the toilet's bottom perimeter. So my plan is to re-seal the exposed part of the perimeter by buying some rubber sealant instead of plumber's putty. I'll also have to re-screw the toilet to the floor to prevent further wobbling. But, really, that's about it: if the leak has been fixed, this means the wax-seal issue has been taken care of. I've learned that you're not supposed to seal the entire bottom perimeter of the toilet: if there is ever another leak, the water will have nowhere to drain, and the inside of the toilet's bottom will rot and fester, possibly degrading the floor tiling and causing water to drain down to the apartment below mine. You're supposed to leave part of the bottom perimeter open so as to facilitate evaporation in the event of leakage; most plumbers simply leave the part of the perimeter closest to the wall open to the air: any water from the shower can't splash into that area because of the awkward angle.

This weekend, then, I'll buy the sealant and do my repairs. In the meantime, I'm showering very carefully by standing as far away from my toilet as possible. I'm glad that I have so little to do; I'd been worried that, upon my return, I'd have to buy a wax seal, uncouple the toilet from the wall, and do all the repairs myself from square one.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Colion Noir brings the thunder

Beto O'Rourke is an insufferable moron, and Colion Noir—gun activist and lawyer—doesn't suffer morons gladly.

...and all the rest is for my buddy Charles

My friend Charles did a hike in Scotland along the famous Speyside Way (read about it here), so I perked up when I saw the following three-part documentary about that hiking route:

The above videos' host, brave Tim, looks a bit like a forlorn Simon Pegg, but his narration is shot through with plenty of wry humor.

Next up is a guy who's rapidly becoming one of my favorite YouTubers: he's a German who goes by the Chinese name Andong (Koreans will immediately think of soju or cultural conservatism as Andong is considered South Korea's most traditional region). He speaks nearly picture-perfect idiomatic US English, along with his native German, fluent Chinese (he lived in China for several years, and he picked up reading/writing skills, too), a good bit of Russian, some Hebrew, and a smattering of other languages (but apparently not French: that deficit is taken care of by his French-capable German[?] girlfriend, who looks half-Asian from some angles). His videos are about food: he likes to travel, sample foreign cuisine, then go home and attempt to replicate what he ate while abroad. In the episode below, he does a jambon-beurre (ham-butter baguette sandwich) because, frustratingly, he failed to obtain the sandwich while in Paris. I highlight this video here for Charles because the part of the video that deals with baguette-making shows Andong attacking the problem with gleeful, almost heedless, abandon, and to what I think would be Charles's delight, he incorporates the ancient grain spelt into his baguette recipe.

Of course, these videos aren't exclusively for Charles's delectation. You, Dear Reader, will find them amusing and educational as well, or so I hope.

And that's the end of my video dump. Happy viewing!


Below are two animated videos from two very different animation teams, both using motion-capture, both involving the theme of war, but with very different plots and very different tones (although both videos seem to agree there's something inherently strange/funny/off about the concept of warrior rabbits):

The French adjective poilu means "hairy." The title Poilus (don't pronounce the "s") uses the plural form of the word as a noun, so it's like saying "Furries," which is very cutesy and doesn't at all match the serious tone of the story. Un homme poilu is "a hairy man." If a Frenchman asks his lady to get à poil ("down to the fur"), he's asking her to get naked. A poil is a body hair; it's hair anywhere except for on your scalp. Scalp hair is un cheveu in the singular and (des/les) cheveux in the plural. Poilu ("hairy, furry") is pronounced "pwah-lü."

I was sorry that the first short film, "Cat Shit One," didn't do anything with the jokiness of the title. I was sure I'd see cats at some point. I did, however, like the way the action scenes were directed. It all felt very Hollywoodish, which in this case is a good thing. Whether it was racist to use camels to portray evil Middle Easterners is a question I leave to you. The animation team was Japanese, so I doubt racial sensitivity factored into their storytelling. Does anyone else think the more heroic American soldier sounds like Keanu Reeves?

teh funneh dump

Some YouTube humor that I wanted to share:

After being gone for years, this video is back:

Gotta say... le mec parle excellemment français.

fascination dump

Here are some YouTube vids that have nothing to do with politics, but that piqued my interest for various reasons:

This video is by far the most fascinating, for my money:

Amazing, eerie, and also sometimes sad in how it evokes the past:

Watch this, and pay attention to the comedic insight...

Then watch this, and pay attention to the analysis:

I am decidedly not a fan of the altered music being used in the final trailer for "Rise of Skywalker." As Charles Cornell points out above, there are some very un-John Williams-ish things going on with the score. Cornell politely expresses appreciation for the music, but I suspect he's holding back, and that he really wants to shit all over the pop-music makeover that Williams's score has received. Don't groom a Doberman to make it look like a poodle.

random political videos (dump)

My list of "Blog Dis Shit L8r" videos is long. Here are some more politics-tinged vids:

Do you notice the preponderance of black conservatives in the above videos? I love black conservatives because of the cognitive dissonance they produce in white liberals, many of whom can't quite keep their racism under control when they see these strange, unicorn-like beings galloping across the political veldt. To be black and conservative is to be called nigger, coon, race traitor, sellout, and Uncle Tom (a moniker that, as Larry Elder notes, involves an ironic misconception of who the character Uncle Tom actually was in Stowe's novel) by the very liberals who also bray about how much they deplore racism. The left has much to answer for when it comes to its own racism, which is partly born of its intolerance of intellectual diversity. This is why black conservatives refer to left-liberal ideology—and the imperative to march in lockstep with it—as "the plantation." A goodly fraction of the #WalkAway movement describes itself as "leaving the plantation," i.e., abandoning the tyranny and slavery of leftist ideas. As good, well-intended, truly compassionate people like Tim Pool demonstrate, the left doesn't have to be this way. I'd go so far as to say there's nothing inherently toxic about leftism,* but the fact remains that today's left is, or seems to be, dominated by its most toxic wing. I've ranted before about how my experience on Gab (a pro-free-speech Twitter competitor) rubbed the leprous, bigoted right in my face; I'd say the same goes for the left, except the left has more trouble acknowledging its dark side.

*Let me unpack that thought. I'm not a leftist. But what I mean is that the country is at its healthiest when there's a dynamic tension caused by the constant strain and interplay between conflicting perspectives and philosophies. I wouldn't want to see an America completely dominated by the left (just look at the massive landfill known as California), but I also wouldn't want to see an America completely dominated by the right. Things need to remain antipodal; the Force must remain in balance. I'm a fan of dynamic tension for sure.

your massive dose of Tim Pool

Tim Pool's videos tend to be pretty long, so I watch him at 1.75X speed. This makes it funny whenever he gives us one of his rare on-screen laughs, but the wait is usually worth it. Pool, unlike Styx, is an unabashed liberal, but these days, we have to distinguish Pool and his liberalism from the leftist bullshit currently clogging up public discourse. Pool does his best to be fair-minded and impartial, and he has found himself forced into what is, for him, the very uncomfortable position of pointing out left-liberal hypocrisy and affirming that it's often the right whose point of view corresponds more closely with reality. While I disagree with many aspects of Pool's personal politics, Pool is a true lover of intellectual diversity—something many liberals aren't—and he actively welcomes such disagreement so long as it leads to constructive (or at least edifying) dialogue and not to the usual retarded shouting matches that characterize most mainstream leftie (and rightie—admit it) news/commentary shows. If you're a rightie, and you're sane, you probably have some grudging respect for Tim Pool. At the very least, you know you can sit down with him and feel secure that he won't quote you the same brainwashed pablum that other leftists will blindly regurgitate. Here are some of the Tim Pool videos that made it onto my "Blog Dis Shit L8r" list:

As I said regarding Styx, you ought to give Tim Pool a listen before you pre-judge him sight unseen. He often marvels at how he, too, is accused of being an alt-right Nazi by people who simply can't see reality for what it is. People in the grip of a delusion will accuse everyone else of being delusional; this is par for the course. But the level of insanity in the United States these days is becoming extreme... at least in virulent cesspools like Twitter. By contrast, Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds repeatedly notes that most average Americans are still perfectly decent to each other, whatever their differences. Pool, unfortunately, thinks the country is headed toward a massive and jagged-edged civil war, a claim that Styx denies. (Styx basically agrees with Glenn Reynolds that the signs of civil war simply aren't there if you truly have a finger on the pulse of average middle America.) My own experience in the States last year wasn't marked by tense encounters that, Tarantino-like, could have exploded at any moment into random, bloody violence. Most of what I saw was Situation Normal. So let go of the death grip on your jock straps and know that Americans probably aren't anywhere near ready to kill each other over ideas. Things look crazy because things always look crazy through the filter of television. Du calme, s'il vous plaît. Du calme. And don't take the country's pulse by consulting Twitter. Twitter is its own little bubble of drooling idiocy, not the vox populi.

a Styx dump

While I was on the trail, even while in pain and in bed, I watched every video that Styx put out. He's in the Netherlands with his Dutch wife now (they were married only recently; it came as a surprise to us viewers), and he's been focused on election-related commentary, among other topics. Here are the Styx vids that I found worth sharing with you:

For those of you who think you know Styx and hate him without actually having listened to him, I'd advise you to watch a few videos before concluding that he's an alt-right Nazi advocating white supremacy. Reaching such a conclusion, based on zero evidence, is the same species of idiocy that makes Beto O'Rourke parrot all the boilerplate accusations made against Trump. Maybe try listening, for once, instead of pre-judging. To be clear: Styx isn't a Republican. He isn't a rightie. He self-identifies as a pro-borders libertarian (most libertarians are of the open-borders variety). Alles klar?

gone forever

Imagine you met a woman last year, gorgeous as a flower, but because you were stupid and clueless, you failed to ask her out or even to get her name. You know where she works—the Gangnam District Office—so you rack your brains thinking of reasons to go back just to see her again and ask all the questions you'd failed to ask when you first met her. Your first encounter with this lovely creature was in July, and during the July-to-November period, you try going back to the district office three separate times to find her again. Each time you go, though (and each visit is at a different time of day), she isn't at her post. Pretty soon, you despair of ever seeing her again, and you've run out of reasons to visit that office.

Fast-forward to this year. About a month ago, you get a bill from that office—some sort of "local" or "neighborhood" tax. You notice that the office has messed up your address: the last two digits of your apartment number are "18," but the bill says "1B." Aha—a real reason to go back and find that woman! Unfortunately, the bill has arrived right before you were planning to walk across the country, so you resolve to visit the office—and the lady—once you've done your walk (thus making yourself a bit more svelte, or at least a bit less fat) and have come back looking rugged and outdoorsy. It sounds like a good plan.

Like an idiot, however, you manage to leave the tax bill inside your pants pocket when you do your laundry, so the bill is now a crumpled, sopping, easily torn mess. Instead of panicking, though, you take the bill to work with you, let it dry out on your desk, and begin the painstaking process of slowly unfolding the bill, flap by flap, without tearing the whole thing to bits. You manage to do this, and you tape the torn pieces of the bill together to produce a single rectangular whole. Somehow, this works, and the bill is still legible. Just before you depart for your cross-country walk, you hang the bill—which now looks as if it's just escaped from Dr. Frankenstein's lab—on the inside of your apartment's door, along with a note reminding you to go visit that cute lady at the Gangnam District Office.

A month goes by as you re-experience the Korean riverlands on foot. Meanwhile, a gift sits at home: you had prepped a little gift box to give this lady the previous year, back when you first met her. The box contains artsy trinkets: a ceramic rose and a goofy, smiling tiger—items she can place next to her computer's monitor if she wants. There's a card in there with a nice, slightly flirtatious note, plus your contact information. There's also some candy in there, but that's now a year old, so, now that you're back home, you switch it out with some new candy: Japanese jellybeans (surprisingly delicious) and Lindor black-label chocolate truffles (unsurprisingly delicious: you've loved Lindt chocolate for decades).

This morning, still fresh from your walk and not having regained any weight yet, you head out to the Gangnam District Office with your gift box and your torn-and-repaired bill. You've looked at your F4 visa ID card, where your lovely rose had written your new, updated address the previous year. Sure enough, the "18" in your address number is ambiguously written: that last character might be an "8," or it might be a "B." You've rehearsed the conversation in your mind—in Korean, no less, because you both spoke English and Korean to each other last time, even though the lady worked at the section of the district office devoted to helping foreigners. You mentally stress that you're not there to blame the woman for having written the address number incorrectly; if anything, the whole thing might be your fault because it's possible you had written the address number strangely on the original address-update form. You hope the conversation will just flow easily from there; you recall how friendly the woman was, and how she had radiated warm, fuzzy "like" rays in your direction.

While you're in the cab, you review worst-case scenarios. The only thing worse than the woman's not being there at all would be for her to (1) not remember you, and (2) treat you this time with cold, brisk indifference. But it's too late to back out now: you're in the cab and committed to your mission.

You arrive at the district office, thank and pay the cabbie, and lumber across the street to the edifice where your hopefully-future-girlfriend works. You stride through the atrium and past several stations before you spy the foreigners' corner. To your disappointment, your lady isn't visible. Maybe she's at another desk; maybe she's on break. You pick a number; it's 517. 517 dings immediately, the numbers lighting up over one particular work station. You walk over to the station and are greeted by an unfamiliar face. Since you are there for a legitimate reason, you present your address-number conundrum to the clerk. While explaining the whole story of the possible mixup and how this might all be your own fault, you attract the attention of a couple other clerks, and soon enough, you've got three pretty women looking through files, trying to find the address-update form you had filled out the previous year. You apologize for having roped in three people; the women laugh daintily and say it's nothing. You slyly ask about the previous clerk who had helped you last year: what was her name? Where did she move to if she's no longer here? No one knows anything. Apparently, the clerk's employee number isn't in any way associated with your file. With a sinking feeling, you realize you'll never even find out this lovely woman's name, and all you can do is kick yourself for your stupidity and passivity (which, in this case, amounts to the same thing as stupidity).

Ultimately, the clerk you meet today goes into your file and electronically updates your address so that the apartment number reads "...18" and not "...1B." She prints out a data-update voucher, which she shows you and then sticks inside your dossier. This will now be filed away again like the Ark of the Covenant being tucked inside that Area 51 warehouse.

And that's that. You're done. No one knows how to find your woman. Numbly, you stand up, thank everyone who helped you, and limp back out of the building and into the sunlight. You've thought about this woman for a whole year, and now, it's all come to nothing. She's gone. Gone forever. And that sucks. There are other fish in the sea, your inner cliché-generator says. But those are empty words. At least for now.

the pic dumps have begun

Over at the walk blog, I've started uploading all my pictures for each day of the hike. I'm working backward, so right now, pics for the final three or so days of the trek are up. No commentary yet; that's going to take a while to add. Go have a look at all the images I couldn't upload while I was on the trail! I'll be uploading a few days' worth of images every day, so check back frequently.

Monday, October 28, 2019

...and we're back

I've returned from my long walk from Incheon to Busan. It's good to be back in Seoul, not so good to be back at work, and a bit sad to once again say goodbye to Korea's beautiful riverlands. It's going to be a weird period of blog-juggling as I go back and forth between this blog and my walk blog. I still have a million photos to upload to the walk blog (a few gigabytes' worth, actually), plus a few "after-action reports," to use John Mac's terminology. Upshot: the transition back from the walk blog to this blog will take a couple weeks.

For this blog, meanwhile, I bookmarked a ton of YouTube videos that I watched as I walked south; I want to embed them all, and I'll be doing so in batches. Many of the videos—plus some articles that I found interesting—pertain to news that's already outdated because of the constantly churning nature of the 24-hour news cycle. All the same, I see these things as having current relevance even if they lack immediacy, so like it or not, Dear Reader, I'll be slapping up plenty of videos and article links over the coming days.

Meanwhile, keep checking the walk blog for updates. Uploading all those pics will be a project in itself, but in the end, you'll get what I hope will be a visual treat. Stand by, stay tuned, and most important: rock on.