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Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: March 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Snarky letters to people in the neighborhood.

Here are a few letters I wish I would actually write to people who would actually read them.

Dear neighborhood kids,
Look, let's be honest. You're pretty cute. In fact, you're so cute that I don't want to see you get run over by a car. Please don't run out into the street without looking anymore. You do it all the time. To make it worse you do it while you're talking on your cell phone. I'm not saying people here drive particularly badly, but you give them no chance to stop, and I really, really don't want to hear the thud or see your little body get smashed by a car.
Charlie Teacher.

Dear lady in the Hyundai who almost killed 4 people in the crosswalk today,
Learn how to drive without using your fucking GPS. You ran a red light today and went straight through a busy crosswalk. You're lucky you didn't kill anyone. I'm lucky I saw you coming. If you can't pay attention well enough to not run through a red light more than 5 seconds after it changed, maybe you should take the bus or subway. I hear Daegu has a great public transit system.
Your neighbor,

Dear old man on the bicycle in front of the grocery store,
I know that as an old man you're the king of the land here, and I'm honestly cool with it, but the sidewalks here are really, really wide. If you and I are the only ones on the sidewalk do you have to ride your bike so close to me and my groceries? Also, could you not spit at the exact same time that you pass me? There was a good 10 feet of open space you could have used and spit with no concern about spraying anyone. Is it really asking that much?
Your neighbor,

That's all for today. I don't know how I haven't witnessed a terrible car vs. pedestrian accident yet, but on the way to the post office I saw like 4 of them almost happen. The old man on the bicycle was kinda the icing on the cake for scary traffic action today. Eek.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An evening at the anus cinemas

 It's not what you think. I promise. Last night Carolyn and I were hoping to go downtown to see the new Clash of the Titans movie or Chronicle or one of the many movies we haven't seen yet. We went to our favorite theater, the CGV cinema in the Lotte Young Plaza downtown. That theater is nice. Big screens, big chairs (US standard size), stadium seating, etc. They didn't have either of the movies we wanted to see, so we went across the street to the Anus cinemas. Okay, I think it's "Cinus" but man does their logo look like it says Anus. We bought 2 tickets to see Chronicle and went out for dinner at the "Lazy Diner: A Taste of America" which did genuinely have the feel of an American casual dining establishment.

The Anus Cinema sign.

After dinner we headed back over to the movie theater, headed up to the 6th floor, and went into the theater. I was amazed at how small it was. The screen was approximately the size of a 5x7 notecard, and there were only about 10 rows of seats packed tightly together. It reminded me a little bit of the $1.00 movie at home, but it wasn't $1.00.

I should point out I took a picture of the entire screen with my iPod.

Carolyn is always happy with any situation.

I wasn't so thrilled with the theater.

Anyhow, the movie was good and after it started I felt a little bit less ripped off for the 8,000wons tickets. I thought the movie was pretty good. It definitely wasn't what I expected, so that's kinda cool. I like it when the preview doesn't tell you everything about the movie you're about to watch.

Before the movie, I should mention, we went into an eyeglasses store. We thought glasses here were pretty cheap. Last year we both bought new glasses for about $100 each. Last night we each bought 2 new pairs. My total bill was less than $18, and Carolyn's was less than $40. And we like our new glasses better than the old ones. Can't beat that.

So to wrap this wildly informative and exciting post up, I can say that if you go to the Anus cinemas in downtown Daegu, you should expect to see your movie projected onto a 5x7 card. Also it's warm in the theater, so don't wear that extra layer.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

A uniquely Korean experience.

The last few days I realized that in less than a year we'll be leaving Korea and if we come back it will likely be only for a visit if at all. We tried taekwondo, but it was pretty expensive, communication was difficult, and honestly, after a day at work as a teacher the last place you want to spend a substantial part of your evening is with a bunch of screaming kids. We've tried soju and all night drinking benders and those are fun here and there, but you can do that at home (though, not really to the same degree). Noraebang is fun, but it's really not all that different from Karaoke at home.

Last year after the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival the only shelter we could find was a PC Bang, which is a room filled with computers, smoke, the smell of ramyeon noodles, cans of mountain dew and coffee beverages, and Korean dudes screaming into headsets while they play online computer games. Now, that night it wasn't all that awesome. I was tired, as were my travel mates (although Brittany's then-boyfriend stayed up all night playing World of Warcraft or something like that) so I crashed in my chair until it was time to wake up and get on the train.

Now, the actual playing of video games for hours on end might be fun, but I need to get into the right kind of game to make a PC Bang night worthwhile. I think I might see if EVE Online runs on my computer. There's some hilarious stories that have come out of this game, which allows you to use in-game currency to pay your monthly membership if you're good enough. I think it might be worth a go at playing for a few weeks to see if this is something I'd be interested in, but I'm really not so sure about it. There's a 2 week free trial I might get on and see how it plays and feels. But that's probably as far as I'll take it...but maybe I should do it for the cultural experience.

Plus maybe I could be as epic as Leeroy Jenkins (29 million views...ha!)

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Friday, March 9, 2012

I guess this is a thing now

Who knew that so many objects have been put into space for the sake of YouTube videos and advertisements?

Sushi in Space

Lego man in space

Natural light in space (this one might induce vomiting)

Toy Robot in space

I think this is getting dangerously close to being a meme. And no, I'm not implying the originality or superiority of the Lego Space Shuttle in space video. I just didn't know this was a thing. Well, it's a thing.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Expat Problem

If you've read this blog for any significant period of time, you know I love me some video games. One of my favorite video game series is Mass Effect. Mass Effect is a space opera, much like Star Wars or Star Trek. It has a really great science fiction story, stellar voice acting, and a very detailed and complete universe that it feels like you could jump into. As a game, it goes a little bit further. Each Mass Effect game is truly whatever you make it to be. The progression of the story is decided by you as much as it was by the developers. For example in the first game, there's a member of your party that appears to be a threat to your entire team. You can choose whether or not to keep him around, or to put a bullet in his thick skull. There's another scene in which you have to decide which of your teammates to save, and of course there's only enough time to save one. The whole idea is that the characters are introduced in such a way that you care about them and these choices are difficult, and you know what, they are difficult.

So what does that all matter, you might ask? Well, when you start Mass Effect 2, it imports your game information from the first game. Characters that didn't survive the first game don't appear in the second game. People you pissed off in the first game hold a grudge, and so on and so forth. Each game took me roughly 20 hours to complete. I played them on the XBox 360, because they weren't available for the PS3 at the time. Then we moved to Korea. I brought the PS3 along, but not the Xbox, and I thought that resisting the siren call of wanting to see how this whole space saga plays out wouldn't be too hard to resist. Cue the release of Mass Effect 3.

The game released a couple of days ago. It would cost about $70 to ship the U.S. version of the game in from Hong Kong, not too bad, really. The problem is my game saves are on my Xbox, so I'd really need to play through Mass Effect 2 on PS3 before starting Mass Effect 3. I can download it for $20 from the Playstation Network or I could feasibly order it with ME3 from I don't know if I'm up for the challenge. It would take a good 20 hours minimum to complete ME2 again, and by the time I put in that much gaming time it could be close to time to move home, and how on Earth can I avoid finding out what the hell happens in ME3 when I read Kotaku every day?

This is the dilemma, do I get cranking on getting back through the Mass Effect saga on PS3, or try to wait until I get home, settled in enough to play it on an Xbox that could die at any moment some time in mid to late 2013 while simultaneously starting up a new life in New York with a wife, high rent payment, maybe two jobs, and so much other cool stuff to do than play video games?

I might have answered my own question by writing this.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I would like to do these things...

School has started in Korea and everything is in full swing, except for English conversation classes at my middle school. My coworker and I have been biding our time at our desks for a couple of days now, and it seems likely it will be next monday at the earliest that we will resume teaching. All of this unexpected desk warming time has been somewhat for not, as I've not really done anything other than read political news from the United States and write one measly letter to my German pen pal. One of the things I've done while not doing anything else is to think about things I want to do and places I want to go. So here's today's topic: My 2012 Thimble list. These should be feasible goals that I want to complete in 2012. I hope they work.

  • Save, Save, Save - It feels pretty good to have a pile of cash in the bank. My pile is small. I want it to be big.
  • Go to Hong Kong. I want to see Kowloon Bay. I may also want to pretend I have awesome super powers like in that movie PUSH.
  • Go to Japan. Even if its just Fukuoka. I need to go to Japan.
  • Write a novel. For real. I think I can do it. I think I might even be able to write a salable novel. I have pretty strong writing chops when I apply myself, why shouldn't I be able to make something great on paper?
  • Did I mention that I would also like to go to Jeju Island, Korea's largest island? No, I didn't.
  • Mostly, I'd like to poop. I think that would be the greatest thing right now. (This is really a test to see if you're still reading. Are you?)
So that's my thimble list for 2012. I think I can scratch at least one of these off this afternoon. Now I'd like to share an awe-inspiring video that I saw on Laughing Squid today. It's a project by a venture capitalist and an 18 year old Romanian kid that wanted to get his own rocket science firm off the ground. I found it somewhat moving, maybe because of my latent desires to be an astronaut from way back when.

Another reason this might be inspiring is because an 18 year old kid with some technical knowledge and a buttload of gumption made something really cool happen. Why can't I make something really cool happen? Wait for it...there's no good reason why I can't make something good happen. Today's been a day with lots of stuff to think about that make me feel good about my prospects because I figure that if I get my wheels spinning hard enough I'll find traction in one direction or another and be able to continue the financial stability and health that I've been fortunate enough to have here in Korea well after I get home to the United States next year, get married, and settle in to start a family. Reading a little bit about this project on Startup Blog and it really got me thinking. With enough drive you can send a LEGO space shuttle to the very edge of space. Who knows what you can do with a lot of drive and a keyboard, or a ukulele, or a camera, or whatever? The sky isn't even the limit anymore, apparently.

So this caused a little reflection (I hate that word) on the time I spent managing a dive shop in Florida, and as we all know now, I live in Korea so the dive shop thing didn't really go so well. This article on the Huffington post seemed to really help me feel like I did things right. I was the manager, but there were 3 additional layers of bureaucracy on top of me, and they essentially snuffed out my ability to make decisions based on what worked and what didn't work. The article points out that people shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes because it stifles innovation. Well, I was afraid to make mistakes. In fact, I wasn't really ever allowed to make decisions based on what I knew. Instead of trying to find new things that worked, I was forced to try to make old things that didn't work succeed. That's the whole essence of the failure of that miserable dump of a job. Instead of change we just tried to be unsuccessful harder. In fact, it seems like I would have fit in at IKEA quite well. I find this extra hilarious because my boss at that job loved her IKEA shopping experience and furniture and was absolutely instrumental in destroying the ability of our own store to operate in such a fashion. It's a shame, but you know what, Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a bit of a place where old people go to die, and I'm not old yet.

Anyhow, this all comes back to the thimble list. I should do some things on that list. I know traveling to Hong Kong and Japan aren't exactly achievements, but writing a novel would be. Now the question is, how do I get organized enough to start.

P.S. This is an extraordinarily positive post considering how late I was up last night getting "great customer service" from a Bank of America wire services representative named Helen. Shame on you Helen, I'm sure you're a much nicer lady than you came off on the phone last night.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

German DeMYSTified

I don't know whether this post should count as a product review or just an update, but I just completed the final exam in the German book I was using to refresh my knowledge of that language. German DeMYSTified was a great book for my purpose, with written exercises, quizzes, four unit exams, and a final exam that helped provide the structure necessary for me to rebuild my wasted-for-lack-of-use German vocabulary and reinstall and improve the grammatical knowledge I need to know in order to read, write, and speak in German.

That said, I found the book to be really helpful. I feel about 88% confident to use my German now. Funny enough, I scored about an 88% on the final exam. The hardest chapter for me was the chapter covering the passive voice. There's something about the structuring and syntax that makes it difficult for me to compose a passive sentence, however, I can certainly understand passive sentences when I read them. I guess that's English we often ignore the passive voice and consider it to be somewhat distasteful, so maybe I have a natural tendency away from writing in the passive.

Anyhow, on the final exam I scored 88%, and I can honestly say that the 12% I got incorrect were simple things that I should have known, but perhaps I was just moving too fast. I plan to review the chapter on the passive voice, and use other resources such as the interwebs to get this passive voice thing down pat.

This is what I've done at work since returning to Korea on February 2nd. Many many people complain about their days at their desk with no student, I figured it was a good time to reclaim something I had lost in my brain. Now, onward...I can begin the Easy French Reader and start learning French a bit more than the basic phrases I know through immersion reading.

Au revoir & auf wiedersehen!

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