Archive for 'korea' Category


A Bevy of Updates

I haven’t written Jack Crap here for a long time now. It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about… I’ve just been a lazy SOB. Not that it’s any consolation to me or you, but here’s some tidbits to maybe distract you from noticing it’s been some three weeks since I wrote here last.

Unemployed? Over 11% in California are. Looking for a career change, probably in a more tech/sci direction? Check out MIT’s Open Courseware. They have courses in architecture, biology, electrical engineering and tons more. I don’t know if you get a degree for this sort of thing, but it certainly can’t hurt, and for the whopping price of free you can’t go too wrong, either.

At long last Zombies are getting representation. The Zombie Anti Defamation League is live and active addressing the concerns of the Post Vital as they continue through existence.

When I was a kid in Korea there would come occasions when a friend was going to Japan and would ask if they should bring something back from their trip. The answer was almost always Felix Gum. Allegedly made from whale blubber, this gum could be chewed for days on end with little diminishment of its flavor. In fact we’d have contests. The funny thing is that when I ask my Japanese coworkers about this stuff they look at me like I’m an alien. Well, prepare to be probed because I found Felix Gum here in San Francisco. Behold.

Japanese Felix Gum

Hmm… Many of the other updates I won’t be going over because, well, they’re not that big a deal for this venue. Been to a few parties, hung out with friends, work, etc. I will just try to keep this up now at my more frequent approximation of a post a week. Ciao for now!

3 Comments | Catergorized: friends  korea  san francisco  science  technology  work


Kickin’ It in Geumchon

One of the greatest boosters for Seoul American High School is our old art teacher, Mr. Michael F. O’Brien. He’s kept an alumni contact page maintained, kept in touch with loads of people and recently sent me (and probably a ton of other people) this video that I have to say brings back a lot of memories. I was far more familiar with his wife, Mrs. O’Brien, who was my English teacher. I could probably still break down and diagram a sentence based on her lessons!

One of my few regrets is losing touch with my friends from back then, especially Scott Yustas, John Schafer (spelling on the last name?), Sean Stracinsky (spelling on the last name?) and Robert Reynolds. I also wish I had a yearbook from back then. Someday I’ll have to scan the few pictures I have and put them online… That’ll get Mr. O’Brien excited, I’m sure!

Anyways, if you’ve ever lived in Korea, especially as a foreign resident, I highly recommend watching the video. Kickin’ it in Geumchon, indeed!


4 Comments | Catergorized: friends  korea  memories


Gran Torino

I don’t care what this movie is about… When it comes out I’m going to see it. Clint Eastwood is going to direct and star in a movie called Gran Torino.

We had a 1976 Ford Gran Torino when I was a kid. Four doors, silver, and built like a tank. When I could finally drive in high school that was the car my parents let me use. My friends dubbed it The Beast and the name stuck. We had all kinds of adventures in The Beast, from Jolt dropping to road trips to simply driving to and from school, which was never a direct route… There were always detours and visits along the way. I had The Beast in college, too, and put thousands upon thousands of miles on him. I wonder if my parents had any idea at the time just how far I’d gone.

The Beast was indestructible. We had it in Korea when we lived there the first time. A bus tried to cut into our lane and hit us instead. The bus was a wreck but The Beast had a little ding and paint scratches. The Beast would fix himself, too. Once he had a hole in his radiator and I’d have to fill it up after every trip. Then one day me and some friends were on a road trip to some obscure Ohio town and I was told to make a left turn LONG after it was safe to make a left turn. I slid in the gravel in the median and right into the pole holding up the “No U Turn” sign and flattened it. Afterwards the radiator never leaked again.

I loved The Beast but after college I was off to Prague. I left him in my parent’s care and, while I was on another continent and couldn’t do much about it, they donated The Beast to an auto repair school. Probably a fitting end though I think an escape like any of the chase scenes from Blues Brothers. My sister always complained that I destroyed him and he wouldn’t run (I think she wanted it once she was old enough) but I know he was running perfectly well -or at least well enough- when I left.

I miss that car. Every once in a while I see a Gran Torino on the road and get wistful and nostalgic. I’ve always liked the movie The Highlander and there is one scene, after the fight in the garage at Madison Square Garden and MacLeod is getting the guy’s power, where you can see the front of a Gran Torino in the background. Yes, the car affected me so much that I notice them in movies, even.

No word on what the movie is about, but it had best feature some shots of one of The Beast’s cousins or I’m gonna be pissed!

5 Comments | Catergorized: college  family  friends  korea  life  memories  movies


4×4 Ayes

So Jason tagged me with one of these things where you answer all kinds of questions and then tag others in the hope that they reveal as much information as you do so your answers aren’t quite so embarrassing when you look at them the day after you post them. Jason’s post is a series of four answers for various personal stats. My post title pays homage to the nature of fours, his post title, the fact that I didn’t post anything for Talk Like a Pirate Day, and an old anime called 3×3 Eyes. I’m kind of proud of how much reference is in that title. :)

Four jobs I have had (current job excluded):
I’ll make these approximately in order from the first jobs that I consider “real jobs” since I’ve had far too many jobs in my life…

  1. Burger Flipper. McDonalds. My parents made a deal with me in high school that I could drive the car but I had to pay for the gas and maintenance. Not knowing what else to do I took a job in fast food just like, it seems, much of America has at that age.
  2. Industrial Drill Press Operator. Haynes Engineering and Manufacturing. For two summers I worked for my Uncle in Detroit as a drill press operator. We made many of the pumps that Detroit automakers used on their assembly lines. It was hard, dirty work but I learned a lot about honest work under the watchful eyes of my Uncle and the guys in the shop.
  3. No title. The Front Room. I don’t know if all of you are old enough to remember, but coffee shops used to be almost non-existent. There were no vente, grande, or short coffees. Certainly no frappucino sweet drinks. Despite that we were on the bleeding edge and actually had imported coffee. Ironically I didn’t drink coffee at the time.
  4. Currency Exchanger. Cekobanka. My only qualifications for this job were I could count in a couple languages and speak English natively. The job rather sucked but the people I worked with were united in their bitterness in the job and scorn for the tourists.

Four Films I have Watched Again and Again:
I’m going to divide this up into chunks of time since, really, I watch too many movies. This is probably the only part of this post where I could go on and on and on without let up, and even the answers I give will seem extremely limited. I won’t be happy with any of the answers alone…

  1. High School. Highlander. I couldn’t even tell you how many times we watched this. For quite a long time it was almost a weekly ritual. There can be only one!
  2. College. The Princess Bride and Heathers. Two of the most quotable movies in my life for a really long time. Eskimo! Another good one from this time was Dangerous Liasons.
  3. Early San Francisco. The Matrix and Starship Troopers. Although The Matrix has sort of dropped off the radar after its sequels came out and I got disillusioned with it, Starship Troopers will still come out when Mookee and I are drinking. Man, we drank a lot of Weinhards beer watching these…
  4. Late San Francisco. The Fifth Element and About a Boy. I have quite a large collection of DVDs at this point, and for some reason whenever I feel stuck on what I want to watch I keep coming to these two. There are tons of other movies I’ll watch again and again, but these two keep drawing me back.

Four Places I Have Lived:
I’ve grown up moving a lot. Comes from my Dad being in the military. Until I came to San Francisco, in fact, I hadn’t stayed anywhere more than a couple years. So here are a few of my favorites.

  1. Seoul, Korea. We lived here the first time in my preteen years. It was a brilliant time when our family pulled together. I consider my years extremely formative and can see so much of who I am today coming from those three years.
  2. Athens, Ohio. This is where I went to college. First relationships, life long friends, and loads of stories as we all started discovering our first tastes of independence.
  3. Prague, Czech Republic. Finally out of college I went to Prague. There’s so much that happened there I don’t even know what to say. So I won’t.
  4. San Francisco, California. I had a hard time picking between here and Washington, DC, but I have to choose SF. I’ve been here 10 years this month which is more than twice as long as anywhere I’ve ever lived before. For those who know me that speaks volumes.

Four Shows I Love to Watch:
This is the hardest one for me to answer because I don’t watch television. Seriously. So many of these will be “expired” shows. I think each of my shows depended hugely on their ensemble cast. There is no mistake that they are all science fiction, too. Honorable mention to Stargate.

  1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I loved this show. I think this is one of the very first American shows that had an angry black male in the lead role. It also had an angry Klingon, but that’s another story.
  2. Space: Above and Beyond. This, along with the next entry, are two shows that were given only (merely?) a single season yet I thought were amazing. S:AaB took war into space with all its ugliness, heroism, humanism, and reality. I wish they’d been given a chance to at least end the series properly.
  3. Firefly. What a show. While it started kind of awkwardly it sucked me in and didn’t let go. The idiots at Fox television made such a huge mistake in cancelling this and S:AaB above.
  4. Battlestar Galactica, old and new. I love these. I remember being allowed to stay up and watch the original series with my parents. I think it was the first show we ever watched as a family. And the new series… Well, if you’ve been reading this blog at all you know what a huge fan I am.

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:
I haven’t had a lot of real vacations in my life. I’m not much of a vacation kind of guy. Aside from yearly trips up to Tahoe to snowboard, here are a few of my more memorable trips.

  1. Okinawa, Japan. My Dad, brother and I went to Okinawa when we were stationed in Korea the first time. My brother and I were so bloody excited to eat at a McDonalds again, much to Dad’s chagrin, but really, the whole trip was amazing. The place was so shockingly green in color…
  2. Chejudo, Korea. We went one summer break from college when I was back in Korea. The island is well and truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth and almost completely unknown outside of Korea and Japan.
  3. Oahu, Hawaii. Annemone and I visited my brother and his family when they were stationed at Pearl Harbor and went around the island. I loved visiting but I don’t think I could ever live there; too insular (which is quite an appropriate word if you know Latin).
  4. Paris, France and Prague, Czech Republic. Though part of my trip earlier this summer was for work, I did take some time off and fell in love with Europe all over again.

Four of my Favorite Foods:
I’m not really a

  1. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. For years as a kid this is what I had on my birthday every year. I will still eat a whole box of it every other week or so…
  2. Steak. Almost any kind of steak. Mmmm… meat.
  3. Chocolate covered cherries. These things are like crack to me. I’m eating some now.
  4. Lasagna. I don’t know what it is about lasagna. Amazing. Safeway makes an amazing vegetarian lasagna. I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch but this stuff is addictive. I’ve even gotten friends hooked on it.

Four of my Favorite Drinks:

  1. Jolt Cola. I wish this stuff were more widely available out here. I’d drink it to the exclusion of almost anything else.
  2. Coffee. Love it. Live it.
  3. Fermented and unfermented red grape. I love red wine, almost any kind of varietal. Also in the last year I’ve been drinking gallon on gallon of grape juice. It’s actually helped me cut the amount of Coke I drink dramatically.
  4. Coca Cola. I do still drink Coke, though. I used to drink tons of it (since Jolt is hard to find) but in the past few years I just have some with lunch. Sadly (?) I don’t even always finish the bottle I start anymore.

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

  1. Paris.
  2. Prague.
  3. New Zealand.
  4. Asleep.

Four Bloggers I’m Tagging:
Let’s see if I can break the bad luck I have getting others to take this up…

  1. Carlos Costa at Population Statistic. Let’s see how adorkable his lists are. :)
  2. Kevin at Humble Tidbits of Vacuity. I can’t wait to hear more about his vacations.
  3. Mr. Brown at Brown That Banana. Really I just want to see what pictures he uses.
  4. Banana Boy over at Banana Land. Nothing to do with Mr. Brown’s blog. I keep hoping he’ll do one of these.
7 Comments | Catergorized: college  dc  family  food-drink  friends  korea  life  movies  paris  prague  san francisco  tahoe  tv  work


Tag-alog: 8 Random Things

Tag! I’m it! Or as Carlos would say on his blog, Population Statistic, Guten Tagged! The goal is to divulge eight random things about myself after listing “the rules” and then tagging eight people who may -or may not- play along and list eight random things about themselves. Here are the rules.

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

And here are eight random things about me.

1. I’ve been stabbed in the arm with a knife by a wild Korean boy screaming, “American!” after being chased by his gang out in Hannam-dong after visiting my friend John Schaffer. It was, as they say, “Merely a flesh wound!” Saying I was Canadian calmed them down. They even apologized. I lied, though. I’m American.

2. Speaking of Korea, my friend Robert, my brother Chris and I were almost killed by a notorious serial murderer! I even wrote a song about it, called Chopping Up Robert.

3. I used to have a cat named Lucifer. Otherwise, all my pet’s first names started with “K” (Killian and Kitwik).

4. I’ve lived in San Francisco just shy of 10 years continuously, which is almost three times longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived.

5. I have over 700 books here at home, and have read approximately 85% of them. This is a small portion of what I’ve read in my life.

6. I hate theme parks. I think it’s the crowds, the lines, and the bad attitudes all the parents are repressing.

7. I love chocolate covered cherries. Their nickname is crack.

8. Just like Carlos, I’m a closet optimist.

Who to tag? I’d like to pick a few people who will play along, unlike last time. Jordon, Kevin, Cassandra, Heather, Different Boy, Molly McGee, Mookee and, just to see if she’ll bite, Milla.

2 Comments | Catergorized: friends  geek  korea  life  san francisco  site


Happy Easter…?

Do you remember the first time you learned who Jesus was?

I don’t remember the first time I ever heard about Jesus, but I do remember when it started bothering me that people were talking about this dude and I had no idea what they were talking about. It was probably 8th grade and we were living in Korea.

“Mom, who is this Jesus that everyone is talking about?”

I think she was a little surprised. We grew up rather isolated from religion which was a bit unusual in the military. I knew my Grandfather was a minister, but I didn’t really know what that meant. The few times we visited Vermont and attended one of his services I just remember it being something of a community gathering.

“Talk to you Grampa,” was my Mom’s advice on learning who this Jesus fellow was.

So we did, and I learned, I tried reading the Bible (old testament; horribly written by a bunch of guys about a very vindictive and childish God) and and I wasn’t really convinced by the whole debate. To this day I’m not a Christian though I’ve learned to appreciate some aspects of the faith (unlike most evangelicals who seems to be dominating the face of Christianity in America today).

So for those of you who care, Happy Easter! I hope you get a load of hard boiled eggs. :)

1 Comment | Catergorized: korea  life  memories


JRR Tolkien’s Birthday

JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien
Today is esteemed JRR Tolkien’s birthday and I, like many others, will be raising a glass at 9PM tonight and toasting The Professor.

Yesterday NHK, Jonny and I watched the entire Lord of the Rings adaption by Peter Jackson (the extended version; brilliant!) and I’ve been working through the books since I went to my parent’s house over the holidays.

I’ve loved Tolkien since I first got $20 from my grandparents for Christmas at age 12 and mail ordered the series when we lived in Korea. I’ve read them dozens of times and always find something new and relevant. I doubt I’ll finish them today, despite Pippin arriving with Gandalf at the seat of Denethor and swearing allegiance to Gondor. Still, I’m glad to be starting 2007 with Mr. Tolkien and his wonderful words and worlds.

Happy birthday, Professor!

1 Comment | Catergorized: books  family  friends  korea  movies


Hawk the Slayer

Hawk the Slayer
Hawk the Slayer
I just finished watching Hawk the Slayer. I am stunned at how memory works because I remember this as one of the best. movies. ever.

When I was a wee lad we lived in Korea. It was there that my Dad bought our family’s first VCR. This was a huge deal at the time because very few people had one of the fancy machines. We bought ours while on vacation to Japan. That VCR was a tank and lasted 20 years.

At the time all we could find by way of movies were bootlegs on the Korean market in I Tae Won. Tapes would come with two or three movies. One of the many tapes we had picked up included Hawk the Slayer. I remember being enamored of the story and the acting and the visual effects. I’d just finished the Lord of the Rings and was playing Dungeons and Dragons. I was well on my way towards nerditity. I must have watched that movie dozens of times. Jack Palance -even though he was the bad guy- was my hero, I wanted to shoot arrows like the elf and I wanted to eat turkle candy, a treat the dwarf in the movie ate.

Somewhere along the line, though, the tape was lost. As was too common (much to my Dad’s chagrin and ire) we loaned out tapes that never found their way home again. Hawk the Slayer went AWOL. Sometimes I would look online for it but never really found any new information. At least not until about a month ago when I ran across it on Of course I bought it.

I watched again for the first time in about twenty years tonight. Oh. My. God. The acting is horrible. The music is so-o dated. The camera work effects look like a junior high school student did them. I was embarrassed even as I watched it alone. I absolutely loved it.

Buy Hawk the Slayer and have yourself a night of nostalgia and groans. If you’ve ever seen the movie before, you have GOT to see it again. And if you’ve never seen it… brace yourself and enjoy a bit of history. Nothing has ever been made like it before or since.

Comments Off on Hawk the Slayer | Catergorized: korea  memories  movies


Ave Atque Vale

Yesterday’s post about a poem by Catullus dealing with armpit odor reminded me that I knew this Catullus chap. Where? How? It finally came to me very late last night (about 3AM, before going to bed).

Back in 9th grade, in Korea, I took a comparative linguistics class from Mr. Gahan at Seoul American High School. I’d already had him for English the year before and he was my favorite teacher (still in the top three ever). When I heard about the class I signed up for it as an elective.

Mr. Gahan took snippets of other languages and we learned bits about their phonology and grammar, and some of the common elements between them. In the process we learned and memorized short peices from the languages. We learned a French poem, the first several lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and The Lord’s Prayer in German (which is still the only way I really know it). We also covered this poem in Latin:

Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
Avdenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias
Ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
Et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem.
Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum,
Heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi,
Nunc tamen interea haec, prisco quae more parentum
Tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,
Accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu,
Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.

This poem, with it’s very famous Hello, Brother, and Goodbye (from the last line), was written by Catullus.

Funny how things tie together when you want them to.

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Memories of Boy Scouts

Digging through one of my secret drawers today (yes, I have hidden drawers in some of my furniture!) I found my old Boy Scout paraphernalia. Patches, badges, belt loops, belt buckles, and kerchiefs. Wow, memories. And that was all over 20 years ago! I’d forgotten I was quartermaster for the Troop. I’d forgotten about the custom patches I had made up when I was patrol leader of Dragon Patrol. I still remember the 8th Asia Pacific Jamboree and Camp Ironsides.

I rather miss those days in a slightly more than nostalgic way. I know there are many things about the Boy Scouts that I would disagree with today, but as a kid I could have cared less about their “moral” issues or the religious bent (which I never encountered). It was a great experience, and to me that’s what is most important.

Comments Off on Memories of Boy Scouts | Catergorized: korea  life  memories
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