Saturday, September 27, 2008

Squandering Time at Humphreys

I have been at Humphreys for a few days, and have done relatively little.  I have was introduced to most of the unit on Friday, and the last I saw them was after final formation.  I could have gone to a going away party for one of the crew chiefs, but I am extremely low on cash.  Earlier I could have gone to a football game for my unit, I feel not going was a mistake.  I ended up watching a movie: The Mummy, Curse of uh... Some Guy.  

I didn't sleep well, and the alarm in the hotel room next to mine went off at 0400.  I called the front desk at about 0450.  Then, my watch alarm went off.  Then...  Yeah, long morning.  I watched football, then went to a movie in the evening.  My highlight was calling Gina.  I love hearing her voice.  And the worse it gets here, the sweeter she sounds.

Today is another day of little activity.  I did go shopping yesterday.  I got a couple loaves of bread, some sandwich stuff, some canned meals, and tuna fish.  I have enough to eat well for the remainder of the month.  I also had to keep in mind that I am living in a hotel room.  I can't yet make a stew or chili that will feed me for a week.  I am limited, but still eating well.  All on $27 for 10 days.

At least today I sought out the internet (the hotels wifi hasn't been working).  Couldn't get in touch with Gina though.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Plane flight to Korea

I won't say much, because I don't want to remember much from this day.  I boarded a plane early on Monday, and got off the second one on Tuesday night.  I read most of a book: A Year of Living Biblically.  I crashed when I got here in Korea.  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, busy Sunday

Busy.  Today was a day filled with visits and driving.  First, my mom's house, then Grandma and Grandpa H, then Cheston's, and finally visiting with Jason.  Notable things happened at each stop.  I'll just highlight a few.  

Mom's house is actually Buster's house.  When Daniel found out where we were going, he clarified by saying, "We're going to Buster's house?"  He was so funny with that dog.  He'd sit down next to it, and say, "You're such a good boy!  You are a good dog.  Good boy!"  He reminds me of Rebecca with Izzy-Barbara (our last dog.)

We went to Gma and Gpa H's, where Grandpa graciously gave my kids a tour of the garden.  I have always loved his garden.  He patiently answered questions, and even helped Rhianna and Rebecca pick ripe zucchini, and each of the kids got to pick some rhubarb.  They loved it.  We also spent quite a long time posing for photos.  I prefer candid photos with everyone in them, but Grandma knew what she wanted, and we all adjusted.  She knows a few things... like backlighting is bad, and how to get an angry 4 year old to smile.  I thought the whole posing adventure was fun, though Daniel didn't like it when I pulled his hair.  (Sometimes my 4 year old self gets control of the reigns.)

I loved seeing Cheston.  He's the only friend I have remained in contact with for the last few years.  Our kids all split up and played along gender lines.  Eventually, the boys started to attack and tease the girls.  I think that's unavoidable.  

At Jason's we pulled up to see my brother straddling Jayden on the front lawn.  He didn't want to go home and had lost control of himself, so Jason restrained him.  After a few words, I picked him up and started running with him.  He'd try to stop every so often, but I would position his body so that he would fall if he stopped and we'd keep running.  He didn't like it.  In fact, I wouldn't like it either.  After about 300 feet, he stopped and I was able to talk to him.  He have me a big hug, arms and legs, and we walked back to Jason's like that.  I talked to him about helicopters to calm him down.  Near the end, I said, "I have to run in the army, so if you need to run some more, I will run with you."  I then returned to the helicopters and promised to send a book.  I will be looking for one this weekend.  He held that body hug the whole way back.  He was very apologetic, and wanted everyone to know that was very sorry.  

In my opinion, when that kid finds whatever it is he likes to do, sports, science, construction... he'll excel at it.

Lastly I stayed up till 0100 packing and loading the New Testament read by Johnny Cash into my iTunes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Grandma's Funeral


The funeral.  We all woke up late, which is common because it is when we would wake up in Hawaii. 

This day was emotional.  I think that I felt the loss more keenly because I just returned from Aunt Irene’s funeral, and Grandpa passed not too long ago.  I felt such an amazing outpouring of love.  I feel much more connected to my family than I have in more than a decade. 

I found out that Grandmas journals, and a lot of pictures memorabilia were thrown out when her house was cleaned out.  I was deeply saddened.  I had to leave and regret not taking more time. 

In the afternoon, we saw Gina’s mom in the hospital.  She was looking good.  It was nice to see her.  I watched Gina and Joseph give her foot rubs, and felt the love that was shared. 

We returned to Holly’s for the evening get-together.  It was a busy day, and one of the most emotionally poignant I have had in years.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Drive to Utah


The day started late.  The family slept in and needed it.  We packed an old well used cooler that the Williams’ set aside for us.  They insisted we have food and drinks before we crossed the desert.  Sue and Rick were gone when we awoke, but they told us all of the stuff we needed before we went to bed.  I am still amazed at their hospitality.

We packed things up and took care of the beds.  I called my cell from their phone, so we’d have their contact number.  The kids were buzzing all around, and Daniel lost his batman toy from Burger King.  He was distraught for the whole drive, frequently asking what happened to it and where it was.   

I found that in a Toyota Highlander, the room is quite limited, and many tricks were used to actually fit the gear inside.   I let Joseph drive the vehicle.  He backed it into the driveway, and felt like a hero.  I just felt relieved he didn't hit the gas when he was supposed to hit the brake.  I am still conflicted about teaching him to drive, but ultimately, my business is a dangerous one, and I want to be the guy who taught him.


The drive was a road trip adventure, and reminded me why I love that particular dynamic.  Daniel’s feet stank.  Reeked.  We had to roll the windows down, spray his shoes and feet, wipe his feet, and eventually throw away his shoes.  I looked at him and said, “Say bye, bye to your old shoes.”    He smiled and did so.  Thankfully, Gina packed another pair. 


Daniel Quote:

“Dad, you have to shoot ‘chubby’ animals with shovel bullets.” 

I asked, “What is a chubby animal?”

“You know, elephants.  And hippos.”



We stopped at Rye Patch Dam.  I have passed it twice on the same drive, and wanted to see it.  I expected to see water spilling over the dam or something similar, but the dam had very little water in it.  We were on a kind of bluff, and the kids loved throwing rocks over the edge.   One rock at a time was too tedious, so Daniel started throwing handfuls.  Oh, and Gina loved the display board that spelled out bird calls.  I think she tried them all.  Her owl call was convincing, but the others were... well, entertaining. 

On the long open road, games become essential.  I opt for the non-electric, communal type games, but they require so much more thought and interaction.  They are mentally tiring.  Thankfully, the kids know a few and are good at trying to keep them going.   

Joseph made up a game called ‘The Crow Game”.  When you see a crow, be the first to call it out, and you get one point.  Person with the most points wins.  Simple.  Like avian Slug Bug.  So, I made up a game called “The Dead Crow Game”.  Same rules, but the crows don’t move as much.  The next game I made up was “The Green Bush Game”.  It lasted about 15 seconds, and made me laugh much longer.  I saw a few; Joseph saw a million.  I saw a million and one; Joseph saw a million and two.  I saw whatever Joseph saw plus one; he saw whatever I saw plus two.  I was about to up the ante when Gina put the Kibash on the game.  Short lived, but fun.

Gina fell asleep and I quickly found out that the Toyota Highlander has a governor set at 112 mph.  I also discovered that cruise control works at 110.  Nice.  Gina insisted on driving from the Utah/Nevada border the rest of the way.  (She had been pulled over just short of Reno, so was nervous I think.)  I didn’t tell her how fast I had gone till later. 

We got in late, stopped at mom’s to get my bag, and went to Jason’s.  We crashed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

17 Sep 08 (evening in Reno)

I am in Reno.  I drove here with my dad and his brother, uncle Paul.  I learned a few things.  Uncle Paul is called Pablo in Mexico.  My dad is better at making it from one stop to the next... And one funny thing: while we were talking, my dad turned down the volume of the radio.  It wasn't turned off, but quite faint.  I was waiting for Uncle Paul to turn it back up when conversation died down.  He didn't.  Noone did.  In fact, I listened to the very faint fuzz and occasional music until we pulled in front of the Williams' house tonight.  So, they have both lost some hearing... or Uncle Paul was listening and wondering why I didn't ask to have the volume turned up.  

I still regret not having a camera.  Quite a lot.  I may look for one in the morning, but I don't expect to.  I think the day starts at 10:00 am, and the funeral is at 2:00 pm.  It is now 10:44 pm.  I am not feeling very tired right now, and why should I?  In Korea it is only  2:46 in the afternoon.  I am going to be quite screwed up when I get back there.

The older two and I got to dad's cousins house in time to eat a nice lasagna dinner.  I found it noteworthy that the vegetable platter had unhusked peas in it.  The broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes that accompanied the peas are normal fare for a vegi tray.  I tasted the lasagna, and it was like eating a foreign food.  I haven't had good lasagna in a long time.  I did have some shrimp lasagna in Korea that was ghastly. 

I remember dad's cousin, Laura?, and another person looked familiar.  I also remember Uncle Wilford, mainly because of the farm he ran.  Not the farm itself, just him and the idea of the farm.  Uncle Wilford and Aunt Irene's sisters shared a lot of stories from their past.  Someone has Aunt Irene and her husband's journals, and is compiling them.  She'll send them out to the family when they are complete.  One entry was in reference to Aunt Irene as a little girl:

The river that they lived near would flood fairly often.  The root cellar was below the water level, and would flood each time.  The shelves in the root cellar were high enough that they didn't get wet, and food was stored on them.  Aunt Irene's job was to go to the cellar and retrieve food.  When the cellar was flooded, she used a little boat.  She had a stick to push herself with to get to the shelves and back safely.  She despised the task, but did it.  She had to.

After dinner and the stories Laura's husband (don't recall his name) took us to their family friends house, the Williams.  I gather that these family friends are close like the Carricos are for us.  Getting to know the Williams was fun.  I asked the often ill-fated question of "do you know..?", but this time my fishing paid off.  Not only did Brother Williams know Tom Allred, and Jenny, but he was also Tom's basketball coach.  So, I am staying at a good friend's basketball coach's house.  Who'd of thunk it?  Sister Williams is a school teacher for 1st graders.  I must say that being here feels like being with family, from teary eyed Sis W talking about Aunt Irene to the pat on my back Bro W gave as he walked past me going down the stairs.  Truly amazing, loving, and friendly people. 

Sis W said (in reference to the shared friends and family), "You know, there are only 400 people in the world."  The inference was immediately apparent to me.  You tend to know someone wherever you go.

Flying Across The Pacific (Tue 15 Sep 08)

Today started, well… yesterday. I got on the plane feeling pretty good on Monday (Mountain time). I left the free internet area that I was using in Incheon airport, and boarded the plane. I knew that I’d be in for a long flight so made myself stay awake until the first meal. Unfortunately for me, I drank coke at that meal. I was unable to sleep the rest of the flight. About 9 hours, I think. I stopped checking at some point. I watched 3 movies: Deception (3 ½ stars), Made of Honor (3 Stars), and some Helen Hunt movie that she starred in and directed (4 Stars). I don’t think I would have seen any of those movies unless I had friends going and the movie was free –or- Gina got it on Netflix.

The flight was itself was ok, but my lack of sleep left me feeling terrible. I had a planned 4 hour layover in San Francisco. My pants and a T-shirt left me freezing in the terminal. I thought about going to the USO to wait, but didn’t want to go back through security again. In retrospect, it would have been better off.

I wandered around in the terminal, looking at each of the stores. On my third lap, I decided to spend some time in the book store, not based on the product they offered, but on the slight increase in warmth that I found in their store. I was in the real crime/ drama section. I don’t read real crime/ drama, but that section had the least amount of air blowing on it. I could only do it for so long, though. I was so tired that I felt more relaxed as I read, and more likely to fall asleep. I left the store.

I wandered around more because the Wifi was 9.99 per day, and I’d only use it for an hour or two. I kept moving, because I find it easier to feel lousy while I am moving rather than sit still and feel lousy.

I boarded my connecting flight, and have no idea how long it was. San Francisco to Salt Lake City. I don’t remember much of it. I awoke a couple of times to shift positions, and to get a coke. I awoke near the end of the flight, noticed my unopened coke, and tried to drink it all before they took it away. I got about half.

My mom was there to meet me in the airport. I am at her house now, and ready for bed.

Monday, September 15, 2008


It's killing me not being able to post photos of all the stuff I am seeing and experiencing. My camera broke in Hawaii... I think a 6 year old blonde girl helped it along.

While I am in Utah, I will get a new camera. I cannot stand being without.

Comforts of English

I have said that Korea is beautiful and amazing, and I still think so. However, I found it difficult to chat with Gina today. I couldn't use any of our normal chat avenues: iChat, YahooMessenger, or anything else. We ended up using facebook and chatting on each other's walls. So, basically anyone can see all of our posts. Toward the end of our limited time together online, I finally looked for a chat application, found it, and invited Gina. Apparently, I invited her after she got off. Additionally, I cannot get onto certain websites (that I need) from here. I am at the airport in an internet free zone and am unfamiliar with how local companies operate internet access.

This kind of thing w0uld be quite apparent and easily overcome in America. I am familiar with the payphones, the internet, and I know how to navigate to the sites I need. Here, such simple things can be a little more difficult. I think part of it goes back to my reluctance to bother Koreans.

On a brighter note, laziness on my part seems to have paid off. My cell phone wasn't turned off or suspended when I left to Korea the first time, so it'll still work while I am in America. When I return I will suspend the account, and maybe cancel.

I had a Korean meal for lunch, and loved it. Some sushi, rice, salad, soup... I think it's actually a Japanese meal, but that food is also common here. I am quite tired, having arrived very early due to unfamiliarity with the public transport that would get me to the airport. I erred on the very cautious side.

I am in Korea listening to the overhead talking in German for Lufthansa airlines. cool.

1, 3, 5, 10

I have often wondered what it must be like to be one of the many Japanese tourists in Hawaii.  They travel as a group, speak little english, and limit direct contact to those that don't speak Japanese.  Well... now I know.  

I have been frantically trying to decode and remember the Korean alphabet, Hangul.  When I was traveling with a few friends, we would pretty much stick to what we knew, and spoke primarily English.  We hadn't been in country long enough to know anything else.  We did have a couple of guide books, though.  I was sharing a story with my companions about counting in Korean.  Really, I can't.  I could say 1, 5, and 10.  Then I remembered 3.  So, I said, "Nice.  I am in Korea and now I can say 1, 3, 5, 10."  

A friend busted up laughing.  The realization came that while we were talking, most of the people on the metro couldn't understand our english.  But they probably picked up on their numbers being used.  Especially since I kept doing it.  They must have heard something like, "Jibber jabber jibber jabber blah blah 1, 3, 5, .... 10.  Blah blah blah, jibber jabber, 1, 3, 5, 10."  This was one of the funniest perspectives I have gained since being in Korea.  So fun.  I now feel so much empathy for people from other lands coming to America.

I will have to ride for a 2 1/2 hours on the metro, I'm not too excited about it.

Trip to Chungyeongno

I went to Seoul alone.  I was looking for the LDS chapel there.  I thought it'd be tough, but hoped I'd find it.  So, I got on the bus to the Metro.  I felt really unnerved traveling alone for the first time here.  I noticed a few people who were not native, but none were white.  They came from other Asiatic or Middle Eastern countries.  No problem.

I caught the blue line to Seoul and got off at Chungyeongno Station.  I had to transfer at City Hall to get there.  When I worked my way out of the winding tunnels and surfaced, I was completely disoriented.  I had no idea which was was north, and I had no detailed map that would help me out.  I suppressed and immediate urge to turn and get on the subway back to Uijeongbu.  

I started walking, slowly at first, then a little quicker.  I stopped at a store... family mart or something.  I got a water and a little candy bar.  I had wanted to use the little Korean I know, but didn't.  I used English.  I felt so apprehensive, and I am not sure exactly why.  So... no communication.

I wandered around town and found the French Consulate, and a few other shops.  I found some dark alleyways, and wandered around in them for a while.  I didn't feel threatened in them because the had many little shops that were basically the front room of hundreds of adjoining houses.  Fun, but they were all closed.  I felt more uneasy as the darkness thickened, and eventually left for the streetside where neon lights fought back the black.  

I didn't find the church.  I found others, because they all tend to have neon red crosses on top.  I assume that the LDS does not.  If I passed it, or saw it, I am not aware of having done so.  

The trip was not unsuccessful.  I am more at ease alone in Seoul.  (Not to be interpreted as being 'at ease', just not as nervous.)  Also, I am more confident on the public transportation, and in my abilities to navigate and survive.  

On the way back to base, I stopped in Uijeongbu and wandered about.  I discovered that it is an extensive shopping district with a fish market, many stores and a lot of people.  I got off the bus I was using to get to base, and wandered about.  I found a nearby intersection and only explored the streets shooting off of it, but was still impressed.  I need to return during the day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thursday's Outing 11 Sep 08

On Wednesday, our class went to a Korean restaurant, and I noted a funny thing.  Earlier in the day we had been taught that the lower the bow a Korean gives, the greater the respect.  SO... leaving the restaurant, one of the waitresses bowed a bit lower for me than the guy in front of me.  Just to be sure it wasn't a rendom happenstance, I watched the guy behind me as he passed her.  She definitely bowed lower for me.  I must, therefore, definitely look older to her.  Fun.

Today, we were released a little early.  So... We went downtown.  We= two friends and I: Anthony C. and Nat H.  

Nat had a friend with him.  His new girlfriend evidently.  He updated his Facebook to "in a relationship".  She showed us a few things.  We all went to eat dinner at a restaurant that didn't have an extensive menu, but was known for its spicy food.  The main color of the decor and uniforms was red, and quite appropriately so.  The food was all cooked in a pot in the center of the table.  We had seafood, including tiny octopi, cool mushrooms, and a type of dumpling, with a few vegetables.  

We all ate out of the same pot, but we each had a small dish in front of us to aid us in making the food we retrieved from the pot into bite sized bits.  Some very hard laughter perforated our meal.  The first outburst was Nat.  He touched a button on the table.  This button calls the server, and they all responded.  Nat didn't know what he'd done.  Neither did Anthony or I, and Sofie was trying her hardest not to laugh.  She waved away the servers, and kept laughing.

So, the next bought of laughter came at my expense.  I was reaching into the pot with my chopsticks and touched the side of the pan.  A muted squeal of pain escaped my throat, but wasn't eliminated simply by keeping my mouth shut.  I grabbed the injured finger and brought it to my chest for examination.  When I looked up, everyone was laughing uncontrollably.  Sofie seemed particularly primed to laugh at my mistakes; She being Korean, and I unskilled with Korean food and utensils.

I dropped food with my chopsticks.  I think I need to figure out a new way to hold them.
I burnt my mouth.  
I had tears streaming down my cheeks from the hot food and hard laughter.
I had to use my chopsticks to fight Anthony off of a piece of meat I wanted.  Good little duel.
Nat ate some food that looks like a little testicle.  Well, he bit it and spit it out.  This is, as I have recently learned, the right way to eat that particular item.

Later that day, we were trying to get into a PC cafe and had to stand in line while Sofie got out cards.  I heard the sliding glass door slide shut right behind me, and right in front of Anthony.  We didn't realize where the door was until it slid neatly between us.  I turned and looked at him and found him staring at the door.  It was comical.  

Later, as we were exiting the subway, Anthony turned as though he wanted to share some deep thoughts about life or something.  I said simply, "Keep going, I'm crop dusting."  He busted up laughing, but didn't stop.  He said he'd done the same thing on the subway when we were walking through the many train cars.  

Oh, and about the subway... I lost my balance.  Not bad, but stepped on some random Korean.  So now it's as if the United States stepped on that Korean.  Poor guy.

Oh, and in Dongdaemon, I found the fabric mall.  Easily twice the size of any 3 story department store.  But the departments were all fabric.  I had to have passed at least 150-200 stores.  Lots of fabric.  7 stories of it.  It was tiring.

Wew!  What a day that was.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

10 Sep 08

Today was a big Korean culture day.  We had a bunch of language and culture familiarization classes in the morning.  Cool.  We also had a bus tour of various places in Gyeonggi-Do province.  Since Seoul is in this province, I was very hopeful that we’d be going downtown.  We didn’t.  We went to a town just north of Seoul: Uijanbu (not sure of spelling).  

Guy at welcome center who told jokes funny to him, but not to us.  He sang a song at the end of his presentation.  The funny part was when he told us his wife said, "don't sing to them, they'll all kill you"  I was readily reminded of the Japanese humor that didn't translate well.  We got spoons from the County building.  I think they are trying to promote their place globally.

Went shopping.  Saw a journal I should have bought, didn’t.  The store was like a multi-level Kmart.  Escalators were like ramps.  I had to run up one because I had gone too far down and was worried about time.

Very tired on the bus... bus ride to Unification Tower.  Built on site of a Key fortress in Joseon  period.  Sadness.  Replicated elementary school classrooms, average house, and clothing, etc. from North Korea.  Very decrepit, and saddening. 

Movie: Deathrace.  Good violent movie.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I have seen friends and relatives blog... maybe it's time for me to do so as well.  My intent is not to become well known, but to know myself well, and to share that with those close to me.  

I am currently separated from my wife, Gina.  I miss her and our children quite a lot.  I am in Korea and trying to adjust.  Trying to learn the language.  This won't be long, I am quite tired.  I am inprocessing, and I am still quite unsure about blogging.  I want to say whatever I want to.  In a journal I am free to do so, but on a blog, I am subject to punishment if something wrong is written.  The chances of being found may be remote, but I am still a bit reserved about this all.  I'll see if it all works.