Thursday, May 27, 2010

Doggy Day Camp

Sometimes my mother found the dog too much to handle. It isn't that he was bad. He just needs to be walked and wants to play. Sometimes I think he gets lonely.

A couple of years ago she found a doggy day camp, as she calls it, to send him to. It is called Camp Bow Wow. Ruger is a very social animal. He loves meeting people and dogs. Even cats. Most people are afraid of him because of his size, he is a German Shepherd. But he is a love bug. Camp Bow Wow even has web cams so you can see your dog playing and socializing.

Ruger loves to go there. He gets very excited if you ask him if he wants to go to Doggy Day Camp. As soon as he gets there he tries to get into the main area before they let him. Last time someone opened the door and he just waltzed through.

As a Christmas present the siblings and I bought mom a lot of gift certificates for mom. They are good for an overnight stay. She drops him off around 1 or 2pm. She picks him up the next day between 4 and 6. It gives her a break and lets him play. He always comes home tired.

It was hard sometimes watching him on the video when I was in Korea. I missed playing with him. It is nice having him around again. When I had the flu really bad 2 years ago, at its peak, I was actually hallucinating that he was in my apartment keeping me company.

Today we are sending him to Doggy Day Camp so he can play with his friends. He is already excited. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Going for a drive.

Ahhhh ... today I did something I haven't done in a long time. I hopped in the car and just drove down the coast with no destination in mind.

It was damn hot today, and the last day of a three day weekend. When I was about 10 minutes into the trip you could feel the change in temperature as it cooled down a lot. The wind coming in off the ocean. The smell of salt in the air. Often mixed with the smell of fresh cut grass. My olfactory senses were in heaven.

The road heading out of town was fairly empty which was nice. Good thing I didn't want to stop at any of the beaches along the way as the parking lots were full.

An hour out and back. Then I barbecued up some chicken to go with a spinach salad for dinner. It was a great day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Plans going astray can be good.

Initially I wasn`t going to come straight home from Korea. I was going to go to Thailand for a month or so. I was going to go to Phuket and rent a cottage. Damn cheap prices off season. I had planned on stopping in Bangkok on the way too. There are still some sites I wanted to see there, maybe even screw up the courage to go to the snake farm.

I started paying attention to the news coming out of Thailand 2-3 months before I would have been going. Around the 1 month mark, when it was time to start booking things, I decided I wasn`t going to go. The protests the previous year(s) happened around then and the signs seemed to indicate that they would be worse this time.

So instead of fun in the sun I came right home. It looks like I made the right decision. Even before I left Korea protesters, and police, were being killed. Looking at the news today I know I made the right decision. The central shopping area of Bangkok is a battlefield. Definitely not the right time to be a tourist.

I feel sorry for those who rely on tourism in Thailand. This is going to hit them hard. From what I have read some places were still trying to get back on their feet after the tsunami several years back. Now this.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I knew my brother had 2 humidors when I went back to Korea last year. I was VERY jealous and kept promising myself to get one when I returned. I never did get one.

Unbeknownst to me, my brother got a THIRD humidor. Last week he GAVE it to me as a welcome home present. Along with 60 cigars. (It holds about 300.) Damn! I was gobsmacked. It brought a tear to my eye.

I am finally the proud owner of a humidor. Now I need to build up my collection. Do you know anyone going to Cuba? ;)

The eerie sound of silence and smells of spring.

I am pretty sure I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating. One of the things I find myself still getting used to is the silence. Even if it isn't completely silent the sounds of the city/suburbs are so much lower than in Korea that it may as well be quiet.

I am sitting in my apartment with the window open. It is 3:40 in the afternoon. Kids are going home from school. Yet it is fairly quiet. I can here some kids in the distance, probably at their school. In Cheongju I would be hearing cars, people, loud speakers. I don't miss that.

I cut the lawn the other day and it rained after I finished. When I went out that evening I just had to stop, shut my eyes, and breath in the air and silence. It smelled so good. I must have stood there for a good 10 minutes just soaking it all in. Sometimes it is just a simple pleasure like that which we miss the most. One of the reasons why it is good to get out of the city in Korea once in a while and enjoy some fresh air.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Deliver me from slowness.

As I wrote on What the kimchi? I am having withdrawals from the speedy delivery service you get in Korea.

It only took the boxes I mailed 5-6 days to get to Canada. The most expensive box cost about $68 and the cheapest about $36. The $36 box was about the size of a shoe box and full of dvd's. Compare that to the cost of a shoe box care package my mother mailed me. It cost $80. From Korea 5-6 days. From Canada 10-14 days.

The reaction of the mailman when he dropped them off was hilarious. He was gobsmacked by the speed the boxes got to Canada. His jaw hit the floor when I told him how much it cost to mail them. Considering they use the same airlines to send the stuff it does make you wonder just how badly we are being gouged.

I had to get a new pair of sneakers Friday. It will take them 5 days to have them sent from another store about 100km away. FIVE fricking days!!!! I got stuff here from Korea in that time!!! In Korea I would have them the next day.

I find myself missing the great delivery service I found in Korea.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Never knew I missed it.

Tonight I had a fantastic sit down dinner with family. Except for Christmas, and I have only had 1 of those in the last 10 years, this was the first in ages. My mother and I went to a brothers house. His wife prepared a FANTASTIC prime rib roast beef dinner. Roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots, gravy. Two of my nieces were there with their significant others. A great meal, great dessert, and great conversation. It was great.

After dinner I had a fine Cohiba Churchill and Appleton Estate rum with my brother. Great combination.

I never realized just how much I enjoy a sit down family dinner. There will definitely be more and soon.

Friday, May 14, 2010


It has been hard to get used to driving here. I am so used to drivers in Korea ignoring the rules of the road that I am continually being surprised by drivers here obeying them. People actually stopping at the stop line at red lights. Drivers actually stopping for pedestrians!!! What the hell?!?!?!

I never understood the Korean aversion for stopping at crosswalks. Often they will drive right through while people are crossing. I always stopped for them in Korea. Often the driver behind me would get pissy and start blowing his horn. I would, as a friend so eloquently puts it, would signal them that they are Number 1 in sign language.

And there is a noticeable lack of horn blowing.

It is nice ... but kind of eerie. It will take some getting used too. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Habs eliminate Pens!!!

Oh what a feeling. The Montreal Canadiens routed the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 to eliminate them and move on to the conference finals!

Hard to believe I have been home 2 full days. I missed game 6 thanks to flight delays. Habs won forcing a 7th game.

I watched it at my brothers house with family. Pre-game my brother and I smoked an R&J Churchill with Captain Morgan's Private Stock rum. Damn fine sipping rum and a 1st class cigar. I taught my brother how to use a wooden match to punch a hold instead of using a cutter. He is now a convert.

Then came the game. My niece's husband said it would be Montreal 6 Pittsburgh 2, and he is not a Habs fan. The score was 5-2 in the end. My sister-in-law provided great munchies for the game.

Damn. No one expected the Habs to get this far, even fans. Everyone thought the Washington Capitals, the number 1 team while Montreal was number 8, would beat them. The Caps had them down 3 games to 1. Montreal had to win EVERY game after that (3) in order to win. And they did!!!

Then they had to face the number 2 seed Pittsburgh Penguins. Everyone thought the Pens would win. Montreal forced it to a 7th as well and won!!!

Bring on the Conference Finals!

Go habs Go!!!!

The Habs Prayer

Our father, who art in Centre Bell,

Hockey be thy name.

Thy will be done, the cup be won on ice, as well as in the stands.

Give us this day our hockey sticks

and forgive us for our penalties

as we forgive those who crosscheck against us.

Lead us not into elimination

but deliver us to victory.

In the name of the fans, Lord Stanley and the Holy Halak.


P.S. I wish I made it up but a friend posted it on Facebook.

P.P.S. GO HABS GO!!!!!!

What the .... price gouging?!?!?

I lost the USB cable for my camera. Odds are it popped out on the plan. No big deal I just picked up a new one. The CHEAPEST one was 24.99 PLUS tax!!!! What the kim errrr Maple Syrup?!?!?!?

Then I got one of those little plug adapters to put over the prongs of the korean plug. Not a converter just a plug adapter. They cost a whopping 50 cents in Korea. Here 9 fucking dollars and 99 fucking cents!!! PLUS tax!

I know prices are higher here but that is INSANE. With tax it cost me $45.17 for one USB cable and one plug adapter. Jesus H MF Christ!

I knew I would miss the cost of living in Korea but I didn't think it would hit THIS quickly. Prices here are insane.

The Trip Home

What a chore getting home. The trip started off well enough. After spending the night at Airport City with a friend (Yes it is really called airport City) I got to the airport 3 hours before my flight.

I had lots of time, which I needed, to get checked in and through security. My only complaint about Incheon was that they need the AC on. Lots of people in the place. At least a fan blowing air would have been nice. But it isn't summer in Korea yet so they don't like to use the AC. I was able to send good bye messages and make some phone calls while waiting for my flight.

My flight boarded on time and all seemed well. Until I got to Narita airport. Then I found out my flight was being delayed an hour. Ok so a 4 hour layover instead of a 3 hour.

I usually like Narita airport. You can shower for $5. It is fairly comfy. In one terminal, but not mine, there is free internet. However if you need to change money or get information it is not that helpful. There is only ONE money exchange booth and 2 information booths. Of course I went the wrong way, all the way to the other end of the terminal to find that I should have gone the other way. My gate was basically in the middle. I was wiped when I finally got back to my gate.

Why was I tired? Well, I have an infection in my legs. On a good day they are swollen. Any day with a lot of standing/walking is a bad day. (Hopefully it will be out of my system soon.) Add to that travelling in a plane and not being able to prop my feet up ... well you get the diea. Pain sweats are stinky.

I cleaned myself up. Put on clean clothes. Deodorized. I always bring extra clothes with me just in case my luggage is lost of I need a change. When traveling 18+ hours in 3 planes and hoofing around terminals a change of clothes is a good diea. Especially if you don't want to be the stinky seatmate.

I got back to my gate to see that my flight was delayed another hour. Food at Narita, well everything at Narita, is EXPENSIVE. A sushi plate that would have cost me 8,000 Won ($7) at my favourite noodle shop cost me about $20 at Narita. At the noodle shop it comes with 3-4 sides and miso soup. At narita just the sushi. God damn. But I was hungry. A 500 ml bottle of water cost 1400 Won.

My flight finally boarded. There was an empty seat between me and the other person in my row. I was able to prop my left leg a little. Unfortunately we were pretty much surrounded by people with kids. In front of me they had a 1 year old and 5 year old. Across from that row was another baby. Acorss from my row was another baby. Behind that row was anothe one.

Jesus H. Christ. One of the kids traveled well. The others ... didn't. And the 5 year old in front was a whiney thing. Mind you her father was an ass too. He actually let the 1 year old CRAWL on the floor and at one point play with an empty wine bottle. Flight staff said/did nothing even thoguh they saw it several times. I barely slept on the flight thanks to the rotating crying schedule of the babies.

We landed in Toronto at the same time I was supposed to be landing at home. I got through Immigration and Customs quickly with no problems. They were very polite and efficient. I had to go through security AGAIN to get to my gate. My legs were hurting a lot. A security guard asked if I was ok. I mentioned my legs. He got me an electric cart to take me to my gate. (Good thing too because it was at the other end of the terminal and my flight was just getting ready to board.) I just had enough time to call home and get no one, then call my brother and let him know my changes. Then it was right onto the plane and takeoff.

Air Canada. Gah! I haven't flown on them for 4 years. I made it a point to avoid them. But it was the cheapest fare and I wasn't buying the ticket. The international leg isn't that bad it is when you are flying within Canada that they REALLY start to suck. If you want a pillow or blanket they are $3 each. If you want ear phones to use the entertainment system it is $3. If you want to eat you have to pay. At this point I was ready to pay but now they ONLY take credit cards! What the kimchi?!?!? errr I mean What the Maple Syrup?!?!? What a bunch of cheap bastards.

The cabin was a little stuffy and my sinuses were starting to bother me. Thanks to that I couldn't really sleep on the flight home. I made it though. Luckily the pilots knew how important hearing about the Montreal vs Pittsburgh game was. They kept us updated during the flight. (I would have been home in time for the last 2 periods if it hadn't been for the delay.) Montreal beat Pittsburgh 4-3 forcing a 7th and final game!!!! Go Habs Go!!!

No one was waiting for me. I figured mom was waiting outside in the car. As I waited for my luggage one of my brothers showed up. It was nice to see him.

Stepping outside it was a typical spring night. Cool and misty. The air was soooo crisp and so much cleaner. It felt good to breathe it in.

A 20 min drive and I was home. Ready to unwind and sleep.

The sounds of silence.

After being home 1 full day and change I have to say the strangest thing so far is ... the lack of noise. In the evening or at night I can step out onto the back deck, breathe in the air, and hear very little. Compared to Cheongju it is silent.You can hear the odd car off in the distance and some kids and their dogs faintly. But by Korean standards it is quiet. Even during the day it isn't as noisy. It is both nice and eerie at the same time.

I was going to post some travel pics but I managed to lose my cable to hook the camera to the computer. Mind you I am NOT complaining. If that is all that got lost in transit that is a good thing. I will pick up another one later today.

Tonight will be game 7 of Montreal vs Pittsburgh. I should have been home in time for game 6, which the Habs won! Go Habs Go!!! Thanks to the fickle finger of fate I wasn't. But I am here for game 7 baby! Good cigars, rum, family, and hockey. Life is damn good. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Well, I did it. I left South Korea, maybe for good. I figured I should start a new blog to document the experience of coming home. It is different this time because I have no plans for going back. No job lined up. No idea what the future holds. Which means it is scarier.

I already experienced reverse culture shock on the trip home. People queuing properly to get on and off a plane. No pushing, shoving, rushing. People actually being courteous and letting people get out of their seats ahead of them. A good sign.