Thursday, April 28, 2011


This is actual audio from an ESL (English as a Second Language for you civilians) textbook's CD. The first time I played it in class and didn't know it was coming, class was pretty much over since I couldn't stop laughing. As you may guess, the title of the book series is called Star Team. If you're in the ESL game, I highly recommend it.


If this video doesn't work, check out this link.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recycle Winning

I did some solid problem solving the other day, leading to a win-win-win-win situation.

Here in Seoul, taking out the trash is a bit of a hassle. In order to legally get rid of garbage, one must purchase a special district (gu) trash bag (more on Seoul gu, click here!) from a local store. That’s the tax that pays the garbage men. The hitch, of course, is that it’s illegal to throw recyclables in these bags.

In my old apartment, the 4th sub-basement of my building had a recycling area. As the overwhelming majority of my garbage is recyclable (read: beer cans, wine bottles, and take-out containers), I did the recycling every week and only took out the garbage-garbage every two weeks. That biweekly garbage-garbage wasn’t even a large bag, just the size that generally lines a bathroom garbage can.

Now in my new apartment, there is no designated recycling area. My old place was an officetel, which means mid-rise (mine was 7 floors) with retail on the ground floor and 14 apartments on the other floors. My new place is more of a low-rise villa, 3 floors and a basement consisting of 5 apartments and a spicy chicken foot restaurant. My designated trash area is the small alley that separates my building from the next.

Both my old and new apartments lie within the city limits of Seoul, but the locations are wholly different. My old spot in Nowon was more suburban than some actual suburbs. Getting to the subway required a bus, and even then it took forever to get anywhere. Now I live 2 minutes from the subway by foot. I can get anywhere in town that matters in half an hour or less by subway or bus. I can walk to the heart of downtown Seoul in less time than it took to get there via subway from my old place. I can get anywhere via taxi for 10 bucks or less.

The point? Seoul is Seoul and Korea is Korea, but I live in a considerably more urban area than I used to. This means, like in my Chicago days, there’s simply no reason to separate my trash and do my recycling, not when others will do it for me.

Of course, it seems a bit cruel to demean the down on their luck people that would like to go through my trash to collect the recyclables for profit. Why make them separate my trash? Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone involved if I never combined my trash to begin with?

Last Friday, it suddenly occurred to me that my bathroom window overlooks the dedicated garbage alley. What if, instead of me going to the store spending extra energy and money on the purchase of gu-approved trash bags, then illegally throwing my recycling into said bags as I have nowhere else to take my recycling in this building, then walking my trash bags downstairs into the alley, and then inadvertently forcing vagrants and destitute elderly to sift through my garbage in order to profit from my recyclables, what if there were another way? And what happens if the garbage men make it to my bags before the recyclable hoarders (note: this has never happened in the history of this or any city) do? Well, the destitute would lose money, the garbageman would have to waste a large portion of his day researching the source of the rouge bag, and upon the completion of his investigation, I would be fined. Nobody wins in that scenario. This method simply won’t do.

I invented a new method, the most sensible one I could think of. I threw my empties out the window, into the alley. No trash to separate. No illegal use of a bag. No need for me to put on pants and go up and down the stairs. The best part of this plan? Well, drop-kicking tall-boy empties out my window from 10 feet away at 3 a.m. was obviously the best part. The second best part? It works, and I was right. I looked out my window when I woke up on Saturday. The trash bags neighbors had left were still there, but all of the cans I had hucked out my window were gone.

No time. No work. No cost. No pants. Win win win win.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Philipines Photoblog

Yo, I’m the first to admit this blog may have grown a bit stale. No comments in two months tells me that you agree. Maybe people care less about the Gu of Seoul than I thought. Who knew? Anyway, tonight’s the shot in the arm you’ve been waiting for. I planned on a cliffhanger, but I’m aborting that. No tricks, no bullshit, just the most awesome photo blog I’ve ever posted. Next week, I’ll return to basics - getting blackout drunk on a weeknight and writing dick and fart jokes. On with the photoblog! Philippines 2011. If you need an intro, read last week’s post. As always, click on the pics to enlarge.

We’ll start where I started, in Cebu. All of these pictures are, of course, in chronological order. This is the Santo Nino Church in Cebu, the oldest in the Philippines. It’s definitely worth a visit when in Cebu, because, let’s face it, there’s nothing to do during the day in Cebu anyway. Out back is Magellan's Cross. This is the spot where Magellan first planted, um, his cross. This changed the history of the Philippines, as it was the birth of Catholicism here, as well as the beginning of the Spanish Colonial era. Because of this, the Phils is wholly different from every other Asian country, or any other non-Asian country for that matter.

Here’s the view from the roof of my Cebu hotel. Jollibee is a Filipino institution. This was the first one that I dined in, and in fact the home of my first meal on this trip. I had the Champ Burger at 3 a.m. or so. I would later learn the the Champ is exponentially better drunk than sober.

Me at Tops Lookout, on top of the mountain that overlooks Cebu City. It was a foggy day, so that was kind of a bummer. I rode a motorcycle taxi up here. Going back down on a bike is pretty damn white knuckle, as well as awesome.

I’m on a boat! My first boat of the trip, going from Cebu to Dumaguete, Negros by way of Bohol. Yes, there will be more gay sunset pics coming later.

A seemingly abandoned church in Dauin, a beach town a few miles south of Dumaguete. This was my favorite church that I saw throughout the trip.

An empty beach near Dauin. Everyone wants to find their own secluded tropical paradise, and I briefly did. Then, I realized that there was nowhere around to get a bite or a beer or to rent snorkel equipment, so I walked a mile or so north to a random resort.

Shot while hanging on the back of a jeepney, heading back to Dumaguete.

Dumaguete’s front yard.

Another shot of Dumaguete’s waterfront prominade. The locals really make it their own. Dumaguete, by the way, is an awesome town. It’s relaxed, largely tout and scammer free. It’s basically the opposite of Cebu or Manila. Also, it’s a college town. As a college town native, I felt right at home. If there’s a Lawrence of the Philippines, it’s definitely Dumaguete.

I just thought this sign was hilarious. I suppose some people want to buy prosciutto, book a flight, and dance on the same night, so why not do it under one roof?

Dumaguete traffic. These are tricycles. They will take you anywhere in town for nine cents.

I would have thought that was assumed...

Shot from inside a tricycle, near downtown Dumaguete.

My boat from Sipalay town to Sugar Beach, both on the west coast of Negros island.

Sugar Beach sunset.

The town fiesta. More good luck. The town next to Sugar Beach was having its annual fiesta on the day I got there.

The dance floor at the fiesta. This was all outside, the lights were set up with fences around it, For some reason, literally every other song played was Shakira’s Wakka Wakka. A Euro/South American chick who lives in Hollywood recorded a song about Africa, so why wouldn’t it be big in Asia? Strangely, the song that got the most people on the floor was the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody.”

This dog lived at my resort in Sipalay. Her name is Penny. Kinda reminds me of the other Penny.

Third sign down - Piko Language Academy. The Koreans are here in Iloilo City and they’re scamming English! I’d happily take a job here, if only there were any money in it.

Southeast Asia is a land of brutal heat and rain. No wonder huge malls are so prevalent. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore are chock full of them. Still, nobody does malls like the Philippines. This isn’t even the largest mall in Iloilo, and it’s dwarfed by the monsters in Cebu and especially Manila. All of them are superior to Korean malls in every way. At this particular mall, I dined at KFC - on a Double Down. Yeah, that’s right, the Philippines offers Double Downs.

Things in the Philippines that don’t get old - Double Downs, San Miguel, Skee Ball, girls, dried mangos, fruit shakes, scuba diving, cover bands playing Phil Collins, $1 bottles of quality rum, college basketball on TV, cockfights on TV, and of course the flawless Boracay sunsets.

My last night in Boracay. I was sick (again! stupid Boracay!) and didn’t feel like going out, but I’d accidentally stood up a girl earlier that day and felt bad about it, so I thought I may run into her. I ended up being befriended by this British family, simply because this was the most social trip ever. The dude I’m next to seemed like a pretty solid cat, and he was my same age. He had a tricky past though - he told me he’d recently finished 15 years in prison for shooting someone in the face.

Sabang, Puerto Galera. I’d just finished scuba diving for the second time in 3 days after not going for 16 years. It’s pretty obvious how crazy clear the water is.

My deck in Sabang. This is where I spent the better part of two afternoons. Wifi, rum, mini fridge, mango shakes, books. Really, I could have spent my full 15 days at any one of the spots I visited other than Cebu.

My awesome room at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati, the rich part of Metro Manila. Out of view is me sweet TV, though for some reason it didn’t get HD channels - the room’s only flaw.

My room from another angle. Definitely a good place to chill out after spending under $30 each night heretofore, and before heading back to Don’s floor.

View from the the lounge at the Intercon. Glorietta 5 is one of the 5 buildings comprising Glorietta Mall, which is one of the 3 or 4 massive malls in Makati. I spent a bunch of money here at the grocery store on snacks that are unavailable in Korea, such as exotic Cheetos, Peanut Butter M&Ms and, yes, mini Butterfingers.

In closing - beaches, mangoes, Skee Ball, girls, Double Downs, sunsets, Butterfingers, diving, rum, socializing, motorcycles, Journey. Maybe the best trip ever. Yet, I still didn’t achieve two of my primary goals - learning to ride a motorcycle and going to a cockfight. Looks like I have reasons to go back. Like I didn’t already.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Phils II Part 1 - Being The Hoff

February is a horrible time. It’s cold, of course. It seems the cold will never end, because the cold had ruthlessly continued since early December, November, or sometimes even October. If you are religious, a brutal February morning is a fine time to shake your fist at god. February is anchored by Valentine’s Day. Since I haven’t had a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day proper since the Clinton Administration, it’s rarely a good day, other than a good day to drink cheap wine alone. Fear not, this is not a classic downer post. Stick with me while I break down a few Februarys past:

1999: I got two traffic tickets in 3 days, and nearly lost my crappy $5 an hour job.

2001: No cold, as I was living in Florida. However, I was abjectly broke, had no friends, and drank something called Silver Thunder malt liquor nearly every day.

2002: Word came down that the office I was working for was going under soon after.

2003: Chicago winter. I was in a crackerbox apartment with a 13 inch Curtis Mathis TV with no cable and a cardboard box for a table. I slept on an air mattress with a pin prick in it, so I woke up on the floor every morning as it slowly deflated overnight. Rent was $470 a month, and I made $720 a month. More abject poverty, obviously.

2004: Same apartment. Less broke, but I commuted 35 or so miles one way each day to a job I hated.

2007: Cold, in Seoul, in debt, and I worked 6 days a week, just as I had in January.
Of course, I left out the centerpiece, 2000.

In February of 2000, I lived in a horrible converted garage, the cheapest apartment in town. My mother left Lawrence, as did my roommate. All of my oldest friends were living in other time zones. I had a nasty break up. The Kansas Basketball Jayhawks were unseasonably awful, on their way to an 8 seed. I did things like leaving for class, but stopping at the liquor store instead to buy an 18 pack of Milwaukee’s Best Ice, with which I would return home to watch The Price is Right. The 18 pack would never make it to the fridge, nor to sundown. February 2000 really spawned my (and my buddy Jack’s) hatred of the shortest month.

A funny thing has happened in recent Februarys. In 2006, I spent a fair portion of it in Europe. In 2008, I had the same crappy hours as 2007, but I was debt free and far richer, and had time to duck out to Singapore for a few days. In 2009, though I had a bad job interview and spent Valentine’s drinking wine alone, I did swing a Vegas trip, followed by a trip to San Francisco in what would become a 2-month coast-to-coast hopscotch around America. February 2010 ended in Bali, which certainly doesn’t suck.

February 2011, as they say, took it up a notch. Sure, it was just as boozy as the lowest February depths, but the bottle of shame had been replaced with the bottle of triumph. In early February, I was living in Bundang, sleeping on a February floor again. However, the month kicked off with a mini-bender, Don and I going out until late every night like we used to in the old days. Late February was basically a 4 day nap, and I finally ended my 2011 homeless period. In between, the clear highlight - my 15-day jaunt in the Philippines, easily the longest Asia trip I’ve done thus far.

I’m long overdue when it comes to writing about my Philippines trip. This trip didn’t really have the same kind of narrative structure that my first trip there did, so I’m going to go photoblog instead. Plus, I don’t want to put my Phils trip pics on Facebook, since I’m tired of that bastard Zuckerburg owning the theoretical rights to them.

Before I get to the pics, I should note the overall awesomeness of this trip. It was rockstar from CEB to MNL. I spent much of the trip experiencing what Hasselhoff must feel when he’s in Germany. There’s almost no point in doing a Roadtrip Bracket this year, as this trip is an absolute lock to win.

I flew into Cebu city. Via bus, boat, van, motorcycle rickshaw, bicycle rickshaw, and regular old taxi, I made my way to Dumaguete, Sipalay, Iloilo City, Boracay, Puerto Galera, and Manila. I regret not stopping to smell the mangoes more, but I spent two or more nights at each stop other than Iloilo and Manila. I stayed in a dorm for $7 a night, and at a 5 star for considerably more. I listened to half a million cover bands play Journey and America and Allen Parsons. I played Skee Ball and won mini Butterfingers with the tickets - both parts of that statement would be a pipe dream in Korea. I met a ton of people, from ex-cons to millionaires. Plus, I didn’t do too shabby with the ladies. Looks like I’m breaking into two parts - pics up next.