Thursday, May 29, 2008

Num-nums

I try to avoid telling stories about Korean food for two reasons. The first is that because it's an entirely different culture. It's only natural to assume that all the food here is not the same as in the states. "They don't eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches here." "Well, no shit, Kevin." The second reason is that because everything is so different, there has never been one food that really stood out as being the weirdest shit I've ever eaten. I mean, I have octopus about four times a week (chewy!) and drink things like sweet potato lattes (gross!), so it's hard to pick out an amusing anecdote from something I do so often...until now. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the most atrocious, unholy contamination of American food to-date: An egg sandwich with ketchup, strawberry jam and mayonaise. It was a present, made especially for me. I had to turn to one of my friends and ask, "Is this a prank? Is he joking me?" To my horror, they were being completely serious.

From time to time, I get asked questions that I don't really know the answer to. I'm expected to be the voice of all of America, which is tricky, because America is such a big country. For instance, I got asked the other day what we call our fathers, and there's not really an easy answer to that question when you think about it. I had to explain to a classroom of sixth graders that when speaking in the third person, we say "my father". When speaking in the second person, it depends on what region of the country you live in, so it could be "Paw" or "Poppa", or "Dad", or "Pop" or "Pops". It gets even more confusing when you take into account that Illinois is something of a linguistical anomaly, considering that we border and contain just about every dialect in the entire nation, save for a few like, Appalachian, Hawaiin, Bostonian and Pennsylvanian Dutch. English is hard.

Anyway, the point is that from time to time, from now on, I need feedback on certain things about America that one man cannot answer by his lonesome. For instance, I got asked the other day what age Americans get married at. I said that, at best, ages 25-35, with the 25-30 range being slightly better than the 30-35 range, but to be honest, I don't know. So what does everyone else think?

Another one I had was the issue of what time we eat. I haphazardly mentioned to one of my friends that Koreans eat lunch around 12:30 and never earlier, and I thought that was a bit late. He asked me what time we ate, and I said that 11:00 - 12:00 was a good time to start lunch, 6:00 - 7:00 for breakfast, and 5:00 - 6:00 for dinner. I also tried explaining brunch, with very little success. "It's not quite breakfast and it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end." I laughed to myself and everyone just stared at me. They also thought I was out of my mind with the "My hovercraft is full of eels" joke. But anyway, what time does everyone think is a good time to eat?

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's a British Thing

내 호버크라프트는 장어로 가득 차 있어요
(Nae hoebuhkeurapeuteuneun changuhro kadeuk cha itseyo)
Americans watch way too much TV. Fuck you, Whedon.

http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/popularnames.cgi - #34, Male

CHOOSE YOUR OWN GENDER

My new hobby: Pointing at Koreans who wear clothes with English phrases on them, and yelling them. "UNIVERSITY OF PINK" "YOU GO GIRL" "DONT LOOK AT ME SHOES"

The differences in how much money stuff costs is weird here. For instance, it's totally normal to be able to get a filling, restaurant-style meal for just four dollars and sometimes as cheap as two bucks. I can also buy two liters of bottled water for 60 cents. PC Rooms are typically about 60 or 70 cents an hour (if you've ever been to Fedex, you know that those computers cost at least 12 bucks an hour).

However, anything manufactured or imported is way more expensive than it would be in the states. For instance, I bought hair gel the other day and it was six bucks. My tiny, battery-operated, no-snooze-button alarm clock was twelve. A box of cereal was six, and it wasn't even Lucky Charms, just plain flakes of something (I assume rice). I saw a 350mL bottle of Jack Daniels for 60 bucks. I'm not great on conversion rates, but that's like, two shots of Jack.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Catch-Up

Let me tell you, Montezuma ain't got shit on these people. I was so sick last weekend that I'm surprised I'm walking around. By the way, while we're on the subject, if there's any probably cause to think I'm a zombie, I'm counting on all of you to end my life. I want to die the way I lived -- with a chainsaw in my chest.

To be honest, I am getting really sick of people thinking I'm so handsome. Wow, I never thought I'd find myself typing that. It's true though. Everywhere I go, girls just giggle at me. I actually just got back from a coffee shop where the girls behind the counter giggled, brought me free cake, gave me a coupon, and then took my picture. It was so much nicer when girls would talk to me, figure out I'm an asshole, and then leave me alone. Man, those were the days.

Since I'm way out in the country, I really can't get to a computer too often. That's why I come to Jinju. I can also grab some American-ish food in Jinju. They get close, but they just can't quite make it. I already mentioned the pizza with corn on it. Their hamburgers are devoid of cheese, thin as paper, and come with bell pepper, mayo and bbq sauce on top. Their hot dogs come in three flavors -- chili, barbaque, and honey. Oh Korea, you try so hard.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Friday, May 2, 2008

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1098327/

Please be a joke.

And an Egg in an Egg-Shaped Waffle

My employment at Yeongchon started during finals week, so there's been a lot of half days lately. It's something of a tradition for the teachers to take one of the half days to head up to a local buddhist temple, Okcheonsa, to pray to Santa or something. I don't know. Along the way, we visited some of the students who live at the temple.

I knew that some of the students had parents who were unable to support them and had to live at the temple, so this wasn't a big surprise. Everywhere you go, there's always some families who are poorer than most; This is nothing new. However, I didn't realize that the temple has a full-on dormitory, and that over twenty students are forced to live at the temple. There are only 87 middle school students in the surrounding myeons (townships).

That means that almost a fourth of all students in the area have parents who are unable to care for them, and had to put them in something that equates to a orphanage. And that's just the number of students that are at the bottom rung; That doesn't include the number of students who live in borderline poverty, and with a sizable chunk of kids too poor to eat, it makes me wonder how well-off the "rich" kids are.

And not only that, but I know this isn't even the worst of it. Goseong isn't fantastic, but it's survivable. We have electricity, ocassional trash pick-up, and running water ( not potable, but whatev). There is even a few cows and we all know how picky those motherfuckers are (fuck you cows), so it must not be all bad.

I can't even imagine how much needless bitching I've done throughout my lifetime over not having enough money. Or how many people in America do the same shit and not even truly realize the extent of poverty in other places in the world. I wonder how the parents feel to hand their kids over to a monk until they're old enough to grow their own food.

Oh, I'm sorry, I should probably end this post on a happier note. I ate peanuts wrapped in peanut-shaped waffles the other day! How cool is that shit?