Monday, December 31, 2007

Songs For Rodge

In college, Ryan and I developed the groundbreaking and now world famous "Songs For Rodge" music compilations. After college, they all seemed to disappear and, since I had most of them, they were all scratched anyways.

However, the moments that stemmed from those wild, carefree and amazing times will always live on and I will always cherish those songs. Each one takes me to a special place at a special time with friends that are always going to be there, even if I'm 2000 miles away...

This is one of my favorites from an earlier volume. His voice sounds just like Rodges...

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Vacation has started and we're off to the mountains!!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas at Wonderland

Happy bunch, huh? For some reason, Koreans (especially men and children) don't smile in pictures. I don't know why, but I might try to figure it out in an upcoming post.

We had a Christmas party and all that at school on Christmas Eve. I know, we had to work on Christmas Eve, but the day was still fun. In the morning, the kids had a caroling competition. Each of my classes sang one song. One class sang "Must Be Santa" and the other sang "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth". My "Must Be Santa" class won and they got a pizza party for it. Both classes were very cute.

We took pictures and opened presents. Most of the kids got Transformers or other currently popular toys and gadgets. Some kids got clothes and they were visibly devastated. The parents should have more sense than that though. Can't they save the sweaters for home and buy their kid something that kids like and can play with.

You know, like this...

I was thrilled to see guns in school again. Since Korea basically doesn't have guns and they have even less murder, this is not a shock.

That's Violet, one of my favorites, and Santa Dave. He looks a little like Chanukah Harry dressed at Santa. She looks thrilled, huh.

There they are with Santa Kaz . He's the world greatest British-Indian Santa.

She a little happier there. Why? Just look at that stache! Wouldn't you be happy to be that close to it?

And finally, Jennifer, Eric and my mustache.

The kids actually didn't want to take a picture with me. They wanted to take it with my mustache, but since I attached to my mustache, I was allowed to be in the picture.

How did that happen?

We had all planned to go caroling on Christmas Eve. The group was large at first, but as the hour approached it turned into five of us. Micah, Dave, Glen and I were singing and 고 was filming.

We had wanted to go to the huge apartment buildings that blanket Seoul and just sing "at" them. We were just going to be drunk and it didn't really matter to us. However, 고 suggested we go to a more high-traffic area and sing to them with a box for donations in front of us. We agreed. We drank a few beers and clad in our sweaters and Santa hats, we set up.

We didn't think we would make much money really. So, we started singing in front of Hyundai Department Store first.

We made some money there, but decided to set-up right in front of the exit at at Samsung station. We sang and sang. Large groups of people gathered around, some clapping, some singing, but mostly they were in the spirit of the season and donated money. We decided to give all the money to a Salvation Army guy that was ringing his bell nearby.

After awhile we just decided to sing next to the Salvation Army people and we made hundreds and hundreds for them.

A night of drunk caroling for fun turned into a night of drunk caroling for charity. How did that happen?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Google School of Medicine

I am a proud graduate of GSM. I worked hard and now every time I get sick, I use my vast knowledge of medicine to diagnose my illness. It's simple. All I do is type in one symptom into Google search, and just like that, I have diagnosed myself.

A few days ago, I had a bad headache, so I typed in headache and viola, I have a tumor. Wait...I have a sinus infection. No, it's an ear problem. Hmmm...

The tendency to self-diagnose myself is so great and the chance that I'm way off is even greater. I know GMS is a tier-three school, but I thought that they would at least be able to see me through a headache.

I wonder how common this is though. I bet millions and millions of people are doing this and, while they may not be directly physically hurting themselves, they are doing some serious damage to their psyche. I went to the doctor and found out all I needed was a sinus decongestant. However, my headache was so strong and lasted for so many days that I thought I had a real problem because of my unqualified medical Internet search.

I understand that people will do this no matter what and since there is limited time that we get when we actually do see the doctor, being prepared does not hurt, but there is a difference between self-diagnoses and preparation. It could also be helpful to search AFTER the appointment and AFTER you have the facts.

I'm not too sure why I thought about this, but I assume many of you have done the same thing many times. Be careful, I guess...

Monday, December 24, 2007


It's been three weeks since I started my stache and let's just say it been full of ups and downs. People tend treat you differently when they see you.

For instance, I was trying to catch a cab and the driver slowed down just enough to see my stache and then, with a squeal of his tires, he drove off yelling and cursing in korean. My students are finding it harder to pay attention to me and seem to only want to talk to my mustache. They direct their questions to it, leaving me bored and helpless. And just yesterday, I caught my mustache trying to peak at my unopened Christmas presents.

It's not all bad though. In the subway, some Korean guy was trying to give 고 the eye. She alerted me, so I turned my head towards him and exposed the stache. He left. Also, I get all my drinks for free too. If you remember Teen Wolf when Michael J. Fox needed "a keg of beer" and his eyes turned red, that's pretty much what it's like for me.

So, will I shave it on January 2nd?

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Montero

The Montero. Mom has had a Montero for like 15 years. It's always referred to as "the Montero", although I think of the red one more than the new green one.

Our family has had many trips, rides, pick-ups, drop-offs, fender benders and more in the Montero.

Since most of those times were in the 1990's, the music that was being (over)played in that car by Mom really defines the times (according to Mom) and the attitude of that car. Here are some big ones...

Home for the Holidays

I'm on my second Christmas away from home and I know it's easier for me than my family back at home. Maybe if I was at home and everyone else was away, then it would be more difficult, but being away for Christmas isn't that bad and I'm only referring to location.

This year, I'll be with 고 and friends in Korea. I have never been in Korea on Christmas. Of course, I can walk down the street and see very few things that remind me that it is Christmas time, but Christmas is a mindset anyways. Last year, I was in Cambodia. That was great!

All I'm saying is having a Christmas away is fun and different. I'm sure it would be just as amazing in France, Singapore, Panama, Sweden, South Africa, Jamaica, or any place (except Atlanta) as long as you are prepared to make it that way.

I'm tired of cold weather anyways. These guys have the right idea...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Barack Obama!!!

I got excited and wanted to share some of these videos with you...

Want the chills? Watch the this speech.

Here's a video!

Boston Globe

Well, I saw that Obama got the nod from the Globe, but I can't seem to find out anything else. 고 and I are getting super excited about this election and the upcoming primary season. Obama seems poised to win a handful of key primaries and that is sweet, sweet music to our ears (and all of the readers of this blog).

He's going to do it! It's also great because the GOP has no one to run. Their best canidates; Paul and McCain, aren't close and the Reps are getting excited about people like Huckabee. I mean Huckabee? Give me a break!

Does Obama play an instrument? I would love to see this again!

I couldn't find him on the Arsenio Hall Show though...

Korea Goes to the Polls...

It's election time here! Tomorrow they go to the polls and elect the new president of South Korea. This will be South Korea's fifth presidential campaign since adoption of the "democracy constitution" two decades ago and it is roaring to a controversial climax in which the outcome appears pre-ordained but the aftermath extremely cloudy.

Lee Myung-bak is a shoo-in when voters go to the polls tomorrow to get rid of ten years of liberal leadership. Don't worry, conservative here does not mean war and loss of civil rights.

They have presidential elections every five years, so this is going to be crucial for South Korea and both of the Korea's. From what I understand, North Korea is willing to deal with Lee Myung-bak. That's good...

Here he is...

and just like anywhere, he is involved with possible scandal (bad subtitles)...

Monday, December 17, 2007

An Outsider

It's very difficulty to understand the full scope of something like Korean unification. My opinion on the subject has changed time and time again. Each time I talk to someone about this subject, a new perspective is revealed to me. The issue I want to address today is the outsider perspective that the world has on North Korea.

When people discuss or think about North Korea, I can guarantee you that they don't see the potential of the country. They see a dark figure that has continued the stronghold that his father, Kim Il-Sung, kept on the country and its people. While Kim Jong-il is a problem, he is also a solution. Whether you like him or not, it does not matter. He does not care what the US thinks (Does anyone anymore? -thanks Bush). He inherited a country that was in ruins and did the only thing he could to keep it somewhat orderly. His methods for that were monsterous and maybe he will be held accountable for that one day in a war crimes hearing or maybe even Amnesty International would take the case, but that does not help the North Korean people now.

Since most people see North Korea as one man and a man that must be stopped, crushed, ousted, killed or whatever people say they want to do to him, they don't see the greater picture. They don't see what is STILL a very pressing and crucial issue on the Korean Peninsula. They know that the countries are technically still at war and that's probably about it. What they don't know is how much people want to unify. They don't see how many families have been separated for 50 years. They don't see that just 30km north of Seoul there are people just as worthy and intelligent and loyal to their family and a unified Korea as there are in the metropolis that is Seoul and all of South Korea.

My point is that when people outside of Korea speak of North Korea and how to handle the situation, they only address one aspect on the peninsula. They think that Kim Jong-il is the end of North Korea's problems, but that's so niave. The way to solve the problem is to support the two countries efforts in unification by backing off and playing a supportive role rather than a authoratative role.

Korea knows what it needs to do and they are doing it already. They are slowly but firmly establishing close economic ties with North Korea. They are opening trade and rail lines to and from the two nations and re-opening disputed fishing waters. The two governments are in closer talks on many issues and only after this foundation has been laid, can they continue on to more discussion on the state of the peninsula.

This solution is internal. It is diplomatic and econimical.

I titled the post "An Outsider" because I know how most of the world wants to handle this situation and I also know how Korea should handle this situation. The outsider simply does not understand.

The framework is being laid and in the next post I will talk about the economic ties that are coming together everyday on the peninsula.

That is President Roh Moo-hyun. That was the first time someone legally walked across the border since the war began. This was in October.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I don't have time to write in any detail about this topic, but I wanted to mention it so I wouldn't forget it. The image above is the flag or symbol of Korean unification. This is becoming more real everyday and I want to talk about it from an objective position.

It's a large topic, but I will take it in chunks starting this afternoon. North Korean people are great people that will offer the world a lot.

Apathy Revisited...

I want to talk about a previous post about our generations apathy. Sid, a loyal reader and one of the greatest guys ever, commented on it. He said,

"I definitely agree to an extent, but in the end, it is the decision of the people we put in office. There is no doubt that the majority of Americans want this war to end, but we are being ignored. It really frustrates me when democrats are too afraid to stand up to the president and cut off funding. I realize this isn't the ideal way to go, but when our president leaves no other options; someone has to take a stand. So far, the democrats are too afraid they will lose votes if they go that route. I guess the only thing we can do is hope that Americans want to end this war enough to vote for a democratic president."

I agree. It is the decision of the people WE put in office. Once there, it is basically out of our control. That's horrible to stomach, but really is the nature of our politics.

I would like to add a couple things though. Would we put these guys into office if we had not become so disenchanted with the whole process? If we had the fire and tenacity that this country used to have, would we just roll over our morals and re-elect such a man? I understand that this is a Republic and there is not much we can do when our elected officials sell us out (and boy, did Bush ever do that to his base), but our drive and focus should be on the front end.

The Dem's will do this country and the world a lot of good. I'm confident of that, but the root of our problems lie within us. We need to act like we care. We need to inconvenience ourselves to change the state of the union. And so, it's Christmas and we're having this "blog" discussion (or at least I am), but really, what have we done? Have we done all we could? Have I done all I could? We all know the answer.

The next year is crucial and potenially pivotal for America, Americans and the world. Next Christmas I would like to know that we all did all that we could to get get back on the right track.

John Lennon says it the best:

Here's to Kristin and the rest of you!!!

To a great sister who has been there for me so many times! You're the best, Da Goose!

Here is OUR whole Christmas classic:

3:50 is my favorite!!!

And this last one is something that we all need to work on. I have been guilty of making this more difficult, but please know that the holidays are sad for me. It's hard being away from family and hard being away from friends. Luckily I have 고, a Christmas tree and everything here and we can start our own traditions. Still, there is so better place in the world to be than in America at Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!!

Real quick!

Quick side note: If anyone (mom, dad, Kristin, Uncle John) has any good pics of Dad with his 20 year stache, I would love to have those. I'll never be near his, but maybe a tribute???

Mustache Update...

As we all know, I'm was not blessed with a hairy face. It's been about two weeks and my mustache is still not what I hoped it would be. Actually, it's just what I thought it would be... wimpy. I still have three weeks! I was happy to see that the stache is coming in black. Micah, my other hairless friend (besides Roger!!!), has a blonde stache, so I got that going for me.

I know, I know... I have a long way to go and did I have to have my shirt off? Well, yes!!! People with mustaches can do whatever they want to whoever they want. That is the beauty of the mustache. It's like being invisible or being able to walk through walls.

Just look at this guy. He's got a stache and look what he does.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mallipo Beach

KoThere was a huge oil spill in Korea this weekend. It's about 2 hours south of Seoul. I've been here and it was a gorgeous part of Seoul.

Of course, the biggest problem is the envirnomental damage done by these things, but the thing that gets me going is how no one admits responsibily and when they do (after an investigation) and apology is rarely issued.

We are the problem. Remember, this is not ours. It belongs to them...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Remember When...

It all seemed to be much easier then, didn't it?

Don Henley did some great stuff after he left The Eagles.

Different, but the same...

You know, if you look on Youtube for anti-war songs you can find thousands. And of those thousands, most of them are slideshows of war images set to different songs. They are moving. They are sad. They are gruesome. They are everything that is war. I know how Iraq is being depicted, but I wonder how Vietnam would have been depicted. That war was so destructive. Some people estimate that close to 5 million people died in that war (that inlcudes the French occupation to military advisors all the way Tet and the close of the war). Of course, that set Cambodia up for Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot to sweep in and kill over a million.

Back to the focus, Americans lost over 75,000 soldiers in that war. Even Winnie's brother was killed in Vietnam. It was all over the place. The question that I'm posing here is since we have media outlets like youtube, blogs, social networking sites and tons of other cyber applications, are we getting lazy? Do you think that the public forced Vietnam to come to a close by posting video slideshows?

I know this war will come to an end and hopefully it will be sooner than later, but what does it say about the power that the American publc has? Are we strong enough stand up or are we just going to change our facebook status to "liberal" and leave it at that. This worries me. Our generation is still motivated, but what about the next one and the next one?

Does this help?

No, and this is what most people leave it at. I can't say that I've done a lot more. I did go to many anti-war marches in college and even in Cincinnati, where we were spit on by people close to our age.

Do you think that would have happened here?

This seemed to work. It did because people of all ages got on board. They all bonded together. The were mad. They wanted it to end and they fought.

I know that my whole family and all of my friends are against this war and most of them have been since it started. However, who has done something about it? I barely did and that's it.

Is this what it takes? Do we have to see this again to get people moving? I hope not.

I understand that it was a different time for America. The idea of youthful dissent was rather new then and luckily it spilled into other generations, but it seems that we have so much more power to do that now and yet it is just not happening like it was then.

We are trying though...

So, maybe it takes time. Maybe we can do it, but we need to motivate the young and keep the master's of war out of power.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Soundtrack to Our Lives...

Musicians inspire all sorts of people to do all sorts of things. That's nothing new. However, some musicians go further than that. I'm not talking about Bono or Manson or any of those douches. They inspire, but what they sing about is not moving in my opinion.

I prefer people that paint a little picture of the world for us. They frame it and most of the time these songs are not their hits. That's why there good though. No thought of sales was put into the song, only emotion.

I'm not a huge Elvis fan, but this one got me and from now on I will post and write about a song that strikes me in that way.

"Do we simply turn our heads and look the other way?"

Well said, Elvis...

We all have to take care of each other.

Early Mornings

Every morning, 고 leaves for Chinese class very early. Sometimes I get up with her and sometimes I don't. We do live in one room, so I feel bad if she has to sneak around the apartment in the dark. She gets up and leaves before the sun sets and never makes it home before 8pm.

This limits our fun time, but I try to get as much of her as I can when I can. So, when she leaves I pop my head out the window and watch her walk up the street and fade into the dawn. Sometimes, she knows I'm watching and turns and mouths "I Love You". Othertimes, the tasks of the day are weighing in on her beautiful mind and she just walks.

I see so much grace in her when she walks. I love watching her move. I love knowing that she has so much going on and yet she still manages to turn and watch me watching her.

There's something mystical about 김고운 and have my whole life to figure out just what that might be.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

And we all have happy days...

The wonderful part of human emotions is that we all need to have blue days. It's these days that make us realize how great it is to have happy days. Sure, you feel bad and you really want the pain and sorrow to fade, but we need these days to check ourselves.

Sadness makes me feel human. Fear makes me feel human. And happiness makes me love being a human.

Cheers to happiness!