Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Island of Mr. Sang

I like watching cooking and travel shows. In the last year or so I started watching Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations. I had only seen episodes form the latest seasons, couldn't find a good torrent to download. Last week I found a good one on Pirate Bay with season 1-5.

I started watching Season 1 this week. Tonight I got to Episode 4 entitled "Vietnam, The Island of Mr. Sang." It sounded intriguing. Usually the titles just state the country being visited. This one was unusual.

It had all the standard No Reservations things. Bourdain partaking of the local cuisine and alcohol. He went to a Montangard village. It ended with him taking a boat to the Island of Mr. Sang in Ha Long Bay.

It started with him on a boat sailing to the island. His guide and crew were there as well as several guys in suits who were there because? We weren't quite sure.

When he arrived at the island it was like a scene out of James Bond meets Enter the Dragon. Basically it was a new resort that the government wanted free advertising for on his show. The resort didn't disappoint.

If I ever get to Vietnam I want to go to the Island of Mr. Sang!


Is there anyone more hated than a telemarketer? Living in Korea I got to miss out on these assholes. Mind you there was still the text message spam.

Today I got to experience something new with telemarketers. They have got rid of the live person. You get a phone call that tells you to hold on for an important message. The message is their pitch.

What a bunch of lazy fucking bastards. It isn't bad enough you call and bother people at home. Now you have to automate it At least before their was a person to tell to fuck off. Now it is just a useless machine calling for your useless service.

Then you have the great do not call list. The Canadian government set up a list of numbers that telemarketers are not allowed to call. However you can still get calls from Canadian registered charities; Political parties, riding associations and candidates; and Newspapers of general circulation for the purpose of soliciting subscriptions.

Also, telemarketing calls from organizations with whom you have an existing business relationship are also exempt. You are considered to have an existing business relationship with a telemarketer if you:

Purchased, leased, or rented a product or service in the last eighteen (18) months from the telemarketer;

Have a written contract with the telemarketer for a service that is still in effect or expired within the last eighteen (18) months; and/or Asked a telemarketer about a product or service within the last six (6) months.

Telemarketers may also call you if you have provided express consent to be called. Express consent includes:

Your permission on a written form, electronic form, or an online form; or
Your verbal permission.

The last one is a fucking HUGE fucking joke. I once worked for a Funeral Home, yes a Funeral Home. The boss took great pleasure in telling me that we didn't do cold calls and that he had helped change the law so cold calling was illegal. A cold call is when you call someone you have had no contact with, for example you go to the phone book and take numbers to call. We would go to home shows and things like and set up a booth. The company had contests. People would fill out a form for the contest and we would use that information to call them. There was a box to tick if you did not want to be contacted. Most people ticked it. We were told to ignore that.

One day my boss gave me a list of phone numbers to call. I asked where they were from, a no no. He said it didn't matter just call them.

And what do I do if they complain and/or ask where I got their number from? He said just tell them that they must have filled out one of the contest forms at a function. Or a friend or family member filled one out in their name. If they wanted to see the form we were to make one. But hey, we didn't do cold calling according to him. (They were still using forms that had been filled out years before too. When things were slow the boss would recirculate them.)

Using that trick telemarketers can, and probably do, easily ignore the do not call list. What a waste.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


One of my brothers has the GREATEST backyard I have ever been in. Mostly in part due to his wife, my sister-in-law, but don't tell him that. She is fantastic. My brother had their backyard leveled and she took care of setting it up and decorating.

I was lucky enough to house sit for them and got to spend a few days enjoying their backyard. Mom gave them some awesome solar powered lights They really enhanced their yard at night.

My ... our ... backyard needs a lot of work. A lot. I have done some. Jill, my sister-in-law helped me out a bit today. She brought some hastas (sp?) and helped transplant them. I got some solar powered lights. The yard is starting to look good. And at night with the lights on ... damn. Nice.

If I stay home I will be doing a lot of work in the back yard. If I don't I still will because I want it there when I come back. :)

After a hot sunny day there is nothing quite like relaxing in your back yard with a cool drink. Often accompanied by a cigar.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TV News

I don't usually watch the news anymore. It is usually a bunch of sensational crap. I turned the news on at lunch time today and was greeted with the perfect example of what is wrong with the news.

The top story was the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and new problems coming up. The second story ... Lindsay Lohan will be going to jail. What the f ... errr kimchi .... er maple syrup?!?!?

Some dumb self destructive bitch like Lindsay Lohan rates almost as high as the disaster in the Gulf? This is part of what is wrong with society not just the news. We waste so much time on idiots like Lohan and not on what matters.

The news people need to get their priorities together. Mind you so do the viewers. Stop accepting drek and BS.

Addendum July 21, 2010.

A new story is dominating the headlines in Canada and it exemplifies what I was complaining about. Conrad Black is out on bail. Oh calloo callay, oh fractious day. Life can now go on because this rich fucking asshole is now free on bail. Everything had halted in the world until this news was delivered. Clinton announced new sanctions against North Korea, astronomers have found a monster star, a jet hit turbulence that left 21 people dead ... but that is not as important as conrad Black being released on bail. Fucking morons.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer nights

What a beautiful night out. Today was a scorcher. Ok, not by Korean standards but by Maritime standards. It was about 30 at the hottest but probably averaged 27-28 celsius. In Korea that would be what late spring? :)

I really enjoy having a backyard. One of my brother's has a fantastic one. Since I left Canada I found myself enjoying the backyard more than before. Probably because of a lack of one in Korea.

Once the day starts to cool off it is nice to have a place to go and sit. Have a good cigar. Just relax. (It would be easier to relax if the neighbours dogs weren't so yappy but that is another story.) The parks in Cheongju are nice but it just wasn't the same as a good backyard.

On a night like tonight it is really good to be home. :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thirsty Traveler

I downloaded all 4 seasons of the Thirsty Travel and have started season 3. every episode has to do with some type of alcohol and the area it is from. In season 3, episode 4, the Thirsty Traveler goes to South Korea and looks at soju.

Unlike Cooking in the Danger Zones South Korean episode, it was an interesting show. I found the guy who did cooking in the Danger Zone to be a prat. The Thirsty TYraveler actually looked at a lot of aspects of drinking and soju in South Korea. Drinking customs and etiquette and original compared to modern soju. Keving Brauch, the Thirsty Traveler, wasn't condescending in the least. He gave a view of South Korea and Soju that touched even my jaded sensibilities. I recommend watching it if you haven't.

It also made me miss South Korea. I love being home but there is nothing to compare with a night out with friends in South Korea for soju and samkyubsal. Whether you go for the Korean drinking etiquette or not. I had a fantastic dinner with familty followed by a great chobia and some corona with lime. But I would kill for galbi and soju with friends.

The show also has me kicking myself for not going to Andong when I had a chance.

Tomorrow my niece is trying out a Korean restaurant with some friends. I gave her some tips. if it is any good I will be visiting. :)

Taco Bell or Tasteless Hell?

With all the chatter on the Korean Blogs I read, and write, about Taco Bell I found myself hankering for some Mexican food. since I didn't feel like driving into Halifax and going to Mexico Lindo (stupid me, that would have been best) I settled on Taco Bell.

I got the Big Box Meal. It gives you a beef taco, a cheesy gordito, and a bean & chicken burrito. It also comes with a drink and cinnamon twists.

A word of warning. Unless you like the texture of pork rinds with a mild cinnamon taste stay away from the cinnamon twists. My dog eats ANYTHING and he had second thoughts about the cinnamon twists. He ended up eating them but you could see him almost turn his nose up at them.

The beef taco was about what I expected. A little bit of soupy minced beef. The spice was ... missing. I used the hot sauce. The hottest sauce they give. It didn't live up to what you would expect with the word hot in the title.

The gordito was palatable There was more beef goop and you had a meaty flavour. Nice crunch with the 2 styles of taco shells. Once again the hot sauce disappointed.

The burrito was bland. Actually using the term bland is being nice. It was a little too goopy which made it messier than a burrito usually is. When I compare it to the burrito I used to get at Road King in Cheongju it pales. The Road King Burrito was very flavourful. You could taste the meat, the veg, everything. Hell the dump I would take after a Road King Burrito would have been better than the Taco Bell one I had. Then again what can you expect from fast food?

So, my desire for Mexican food was not sated. I can't in good conscience call the Taco Bell stuff Mexican Food. If I was in Korea the odds are curiosity would have seen my trying Taco Bell once, IF it was in Cheongju. It isn't something I would ever go out of my way for. After having some today it confirms that I could get a much better taste of Mexico at Road King in Cheongju than I could at Taco Bell.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Moronic Drivers

There are some glaring differences between drivers in Korea and those in Canada. One aspect is how they deal with stop lights.

Many Koreans will simply ignore them. If there is nothing coming they will simply drive through. some drivers will go through even if something is coming. They won't even try to slow down let alone stop for the red. Usually, they will beep their horn as they speed toward the read light. Waiting is not in their play book.

If you are stopped for the red that can lead to problems. Drivers behind you, especially taxi drivers, will often start blasting their horn because they want you to run the red light. Or they want you to at least pull out into the intersection so they can go around you or make a right hand turn. If you ignore them the honking will continue. Sometimes it is accompanied by yelling and screaming. I have even seen them follow through the light when it goes green and then cut off the person who waited. All the while screaming at them.

Here it seems to be the opposite. Some drivers are SO damn slow to move when the light turns green. This isn't so bad when you are going straight through or making a right hand turn. When you have to make a left on a flashing green it can be frustrating. Especially at rush hour.

It is like they are in their own little world when the light changes. They sit there. No one beeps. Then they move after a few seconds. Mind you this doesn't happen with just the first driver. Often drivers behind are just as slow.

Now I am not saying everyone should nail the gas and tear out as soon as the light changes. However, if only 2-3 cars get through a flashing light that 7-8 SHOULD have been able to easily get through then there are some class A mooks screwing everyone else over.

A part of me wants to see what would happen when you get the two types of drivers together. A Korean driver behind one of these snail like Canadian idiots. I wonder who`s head would explode first? My money would be on the Korean driver but you never know.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What is a mook?

A friend recently asked me what exactly a mook is. When I first heard the term mook I thought it was short for monkey. I didn't like it that much. It seemed like a racist and pejorative term.

Then I remembered that I had heard the word before in older movies and period books. Especially the old gangster movies. It wasn't uncommon to hear people referred to as mooks or stupid mooks. In my mind it meant someone who was stupid and lacked manners. "Wipe your shoes before entering you mook." "Look at those mooks causing trouble."

Last year I found myself wondering about the precise definition of mook. Being the victim of a PC culture I worried that it might actually be racist or nasty. Thanks to the internet age I didn't have to open a dictionary I went to their website.

Merriam Webster defines mook as a slang term from the 1930's. It refers to a foolish, insignificant, or contemptible person. Wiktionary defined it as a disagreeable or incompetent person. Pretty close to what i thought it meant.

I also found reference to it as a movie/game term. It is a slang term for the hordes of standard-issue, disposable bad guys whom the hero mows down with impunity. Also called "goons," "scrubs," "drones," "flunkies," "pawns," "crunchies," "popcorn," "grunts," "minions," "lackeys," "underlings," "henchpersons," and "Cannon Fodder;" in Japanese, the word is "zako." Sometimes, Mooks will act more as comic relief than an actual menace, having their jeeps flipped in the air, tripping back into their own traps, etc. (The Trade Federation droids in the Star Wars prequels are a good example here.) Still kind of close to what I thought mook meant.

Urban Dictionary gave some interesting definitions too. The most popular definition of it on UD is:

A term coined by Douglas Rushkoff in an episode of PBS's "Frontline" entitled "The Merchants of Cool." Mooks are archetypal young males(teens-early 20s) who act like moronic boneheads. They are self centered simpletons who live a drunken frat-boy lifestyle(or are frat-boys). Examples can be found anytime someone watches "Jackass." Rushkoff claimed that the media glorifies this ideal and stifles natural self expression, however, some people might argue teenage boys have always acted like morons(its actually a long-standing stereotype). Nonetheless, standardized conformist dumbass-culture behind a veneer of exhuberance is a scary notion indeed. Opposite of Mooks areMidriffs; oxymoronic innocent skanks who are modeled after Britney Spears.

The second most common UD definition is:

Coined in the Scorsese film, 'Mean Streets', meaning an arsehole or loser.

The third definition on UD was the most familiar:

(noun) 1: A male adolescent or young adult exhibiting an unpleasant, self-centered attitude, formed during a sheltered upbringing. 2: One who revels in their own ignorance.

All of those definitions have something in common. They refer to someone who is stupid,or acts stupidly, and tends to be rude.That is what I base the use of the term mook on. It is someone who acts stupidly and rudely. Someone who by their words and actions shows themself to be a fool. Especially someone who seems to take pride in their ignorance.

Mooks are universal. It doesn't matter what country you are in you WILL find mooks. You may run into more mooks in one place than another but you will find them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mook of the Week

A first for this Blog but not for my Korean Blog. I would be remiss if I didn't point out Canadian Mooks when I encounter them. There seem to be less than in South Korea for some reason though.

As mentioned in a previous post I recently went on a road trip. The going was pretty smooth on the way down to Digby but on the way back I ran into, not literally, 3 of the same kind of mook.

The speed limit was 100 to 110 KPH. The mooks in front of me were doing from 80-90 KPH, usually 80ish, and no more. That is until you had the chance to pass them. A lot of the highway is 2 lane. There are passing lanes along the way and of course the old dotted line down the center. Whenever the opportunity arose to pass the asshole (and the other 2) would speed up as soon as you got close. As soon as the opportunity to pass ended they would slow down again. Thus forcing you to REALLY speed to get past them at the next opportunity, or run them off the road and kick the shit out of them if the survived. I choose the former as there is not usually jail time involved. The first two mooks I was only behind for 10-15 minutes. Bad enough but no THAT bad.

Now this mook , Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms.) Nova Scotia license plate CED 559 in his (or her) piece of shit red Hyundai Sonata, was the worst of the three mooketeers. I was behind him the longest. Probably 25 minutes. At one point I was up to 130 to pass and the asshole matched it. Then slowed down.

I saw a turn off for Kentville and had wanted to stop there for coffee. My luck seemed to be changing for the better. This idiot would drive off and I would get coffee. Nope! At the last minute the piece of shit cut in front of to use the exit. Not only did the mook almost cause accidents when people tried to pass they had to try and cause one at the exit. When we got to the stop light I got my digital camera from my Uncle (who already turned it on) and snapped this picture. (And forgot about it until looking at some of the pictures from the trip today.)

The mook is actually lucky. 10 years ago I would have followed them from the light until they stopped and confronted them. I guess I have mellowed a bit over time.

You, the driver of the piece of shit Hyundai Sonata license plate CED 559 ... you are a fucking mook and a menace to all who drive in Nova Scotia. Just like the mookette in South Korea whose stupidity and selfishness caused the death of 12 people and injury of 12 more. I hope you stop driving or smarten up before YOU kill someone.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Family BS

While I missed my Family while I lived in South Korea I didn't miss some of the bull shit that comes along with every family.

My mother isn't fragile but she isn't in perfect health. She has a heart problem that she is on medication for. Add to that the fact she is a worrier.

Then you have her sister, my Aunt. I love my Aunt but she is too much like her mother. That means she is a nosy, gossipy, bitch. She is never happier than when she is meddling in peoples lives and causing trouble carrying tales.

My Uncle was coming to visit and bringing my cousin. (My cousin is special needs.) Prior to the visit there is a spate of phone calls from ... my Aunt. She would prattle on and on to mom about my Uncle. My Cousin. And shit loads of stuff that just isn't anyone's business but my Uncle.

My Uncle never lets you know when he is leaving. He lives 3 provinces away, about a 18 hour drive. Usually he will drive straight through only stopping for fuel and food. Sometimes he will sleep in his car. Since he has his son with him he might get a hotel room. So we knew roughly when he was coming and were ready.

Of course, my aunt, being her usual self, had to call my mother one evening, when she knows we are eating dinner. That is her favourite time to call. she had to let mom know that my Uncle left that morning and would be there the next day. Now she wasn't calling for him. He never asked her to. She just took it upon herself to do it. Probably because it gave her another chance to gossip and slag my Uncle and the other relatives there.

Oh, I don't talk to my Aunt on the phone other than to say hello. I have no time for her bull shit. I tend to tell her off when she starts it, no one else seems to do it, so she would rather get my mom who will listen and say nothing.

The next day arrives. No Uncle. Mom is starting to worry. That evening no uncle. The Aunt has called a couple of times and has started doom and gloom scenarios. So mom is really worrying and not resting.

Next morning no Uncle. Mom hasn't slept because she is worrying too much. She has visions of a car accident thanks to my bitch of an aunt. I end up taking my mom to the RCMP to see if his name has turned up in an accident report. There isn't much they could do since me had no plate number or make of car. His name didn't show but that didn't make her feel much better.

That night he showed up. He hadn't come straight to see us. Instead he took a side trip to PEI. My Aunt knew he was doing that but never mentioned it for some reason. It made it easier for her to cause problems that way. Instead of just minding her fucking business she got my mother all wound up.

There has been a bit of that shit going on, not just with my aunt, since I got home. A few family members have been told. A few more are working their way to it.

It kind of kills the joy of being around family again.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Regrets. I don't have many but after today I do have a new one.

My Great Aunt had a cottage in my Father's home town. My family goes way back there. We used to own a lot of land but it was gradually sold off. The cottage was originally built by my Great Grandfather. They originally lived up the street (a fair ways up.) OK, street is being too kind. It was a dirt path/road that ended up a hill and intersected with a real road. He had a fight with his wife and ended up going down to the beach and started building the cottage. He lived in his boat while he built it.

I spent a lot of time at the cottage when I was young. All of us did. We had lots of bonfires and clam bakes down on the beach. I spent countless hours up and down the beach. Running through the woods with the dogs. One of the best Christmas' I ever had was at the cottage.

Then Dad got sick. The cottage was a place I always went with him. He did so much work on it for my Great Aunt that it seemed like another home. He taught me how to dig clams there, fish with an old fashioned reel, even some sailing. All of it there.

After Dad died I just couldn't bring myself to go back there. It held so many good memories but I was afraid it would never be the same again. Oh sure I talked about going but somehow I always came up with excuses not to go.

Then my Aunt sold it and moved to a different town. The buyers said they would keep the cottage for personal use. They own an Inn beside it. They ended up buying all the houses on the street.

It has been over 22 years since Dad died. Today I returned to his home town for the first time. For the most part it is just liked I remembered it. For the most part.

My Great Aunt's cottage is gone. :( It has been torn down and a house built in it's place. A nice house but not the building I expected to see. We don't have a lot of pictures of the cottage or us there. (Luckily I have lots of memories.) It kind of deflated me to see the cottage gone.

I wish I hadn't waited so long to go back. Many of our family and friends who lived there have moved on or died. Even part of the road system through has changed. I couldn't even find the cemetery my Great Grand Parents are buried in.

I won't make the same mistake again.