Sunday, September 30, 2007


After a 5 day weekend you are inevitably left with a two day week, and that two day week rolls smoothly into the next weekend. So today kind of feels like the end of a 10 day weekend. That's sad to think about, but I had a really good break. Since Rachel was out of town, back home in the US for her friends wedding, I got to hang out with some other people, meet new people, and do some new things. Take a look at some of the pictures of the fun, even though much of it happened while I didn't have my camera around. I'm sorry, maybe next time.

But I'll have more pictures of my new friends soon and of course more of Rachel who is nice to have back in town. She came baring gifts too!

Chusak Pictures

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From Me to You

Since I was elated with the number of responses to my last posting I thought I'd treat you all. I know, I know, I shouldn't, it was your pleasure, but your kind actions compel me to return the favor.
This past weekend was the lone long weekend of the Korean school year calendar, it was for "Chusok" or Korea's equivalent to Thanksgiving. In the spirit of Chusok I got a gift from the school and I wanted to share it with you. That is my gift to you, "showing you my Chusok gift." Yea, it doesn't sound like much, but what were you expecting? An official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle? No way... You'd shoot your eye out. And being that you need your eyes to read this blog, I thought I'd spare you.
Now feast your eyes upon this, safe, extraordinary gift:
Yeah, if you're like me you might be thinking something like "They gave me a briefcase? Why would I want a huge briefcase like that?"
Then I picked it up and realized the case wasn't the present, there was something inside. But what was it?

Now I don't know what the heck it is. What can be in this huge box?

I finally open it and think, "Oh, they got me a coffee table. That's so weird but really nice." Now I'm not nervous anymore, but exited to see what's inside.

Upon closer inspection it was not a briefcase, or a coffee table, it was instead...Spam. Spam and tuna, and some cooking oil too. Every teacher in the school got Spam as a gift for Chusok. Not exactly what we give out on Thanksgiving, but it was still a nice gesture.
I hope you all enjoyed the gift, and can all give thanks to everything and everyone you have. I'll have more on the weekend coming up soon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"I'm Kind of a Big Deal"

It's crazy to think how things can change in a few short months. Just before I left The Big Apple I was jobless, my lease was running out and it seemed like I couldn't get a freelance gig if my life depended on it. Who turns down free help, I mean really? Maybe the world didn't think I was ready, it wasn't my time, I was too young, too green, but just look at me now. I'm on the other side of the world and I've become the face of Shinjin High School. Ummhmmm, yours truly has become the new face of Shinjin. I guess it's slightly less prestigious than being the face of the McDonald's or Nike like Kobe Bryant, or even the faces of Bojangles 'Famous Chicken and Buscuits' like Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith...

Actually, when the dust settles from that barn I might have them both beat. It took them years to become viable advertising leads in such breathtaking commercials that leave the industry standard in the dust. But me on the other hand, it took me only 6 months, if that. I walked into school a month late, but someone there saw the twinkle in my eye. They saw that one thing, that thing you can't put your finger on, but you know it when you see it. Well, apparently I've got least in Korea I do.
Well, there is enough of my "down on his luck model" shtick. The sad thing is that a lot of people actually come to Asia to feel more important. It's easy to get caught up feeling special over here because a lot of Koreans treat you as if you are a big deal, just for being white, or American. Little do they know how many of us are actually over because we can't cut it in our own countries. From bosses, to coworkers, friends, to friends family members, it always seems to be a more special occasion when the white person is around. People want to make the more expensive dinner when you're coming over, and drink a few more bottles of suju once you're there.
I'm definitely not saying that my situation is a bad one, but it is interesting. When the Shinjin website needed a makeover did they turn to the teachers who had been there for 20 years to project the wisdom of Shinjin? Or teachers who had been there for 10 years? Or even the good looking, young, first year Korean teachers? Nope, they picked me (and Rachel, but mainly me ;)
A white, English speaking, American who can't correctly pronounce the name of the school in it's native tongue is now the vision of:
I think it's awesome but I'm not about to get a big head about all of this and end up staying here forever. I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is. Just like I said, it's amazing how things can change, but while I'm here, "as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, so must I become Derelicte!"

Shinjin Photo Shoot

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day To Remember Why America is Wicked Sweet

Today is not a normal day. Today is my good friend Mike Bewalder's birthday, but sadly, whenever I hear "September 11th" the first thing I think about is not him growing a year older, as it should be, but instead my head swirls with the images, thoughts, and memories of that day. It is almost that simple to reference...That day.
Remembering 9-11 in a way that enriches your life, and the way you live it day to day, will always be a good thing. If we can learn from those who lost there lives because they were targeted as symbols of what we all stand for, we can honor them. Nearly 3,000 people were murdered on this day 6 years ago because they were in America, living the American dream, flying the friendly skies, or defending our freedoms. It is in honor of those victims at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on the tragic flights, that today I would like to remind everyone why I think America is so special. Here is a top ten list of the things I miss about the United States of America after 6 months in South Korea:

10. You don't run into Canadians everywhere.
9. There is a diverse population. It is a place where I'm not stared at because I look different.
8. You don't have Korean men telling you that you are handsome all the time.
7. I don't perpetually speak in baby talk. People can actually understand what I'm saying...most of the time.
6. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and weekend barbeque's.
5. Long weekends. The Korean education system seems to not have fully grasped this concept, I mean, who wants a Thursday or a Tuesday off when Friday and Monday are starring you right in the face!
4. Not worrying about mosquito bites when you go to sleep. It's not so bad for me, but seeing the insane number of bites on my friends, coworkers, and students, I still have a bit of insomnia.
3. Going out with my friends, or even just talking to them, or laughing with them.
2. The Jersey shore. Yes, I went to Thailand but I still miss that "No Fun beach" and the crazy weekends there.
1. American football. Yup, this is ranked higher than my friends, and higher than my family (which didn't even make the list, sadly) but for good reason. Let me explain.

Football is America. We like to think we have freedoms that the rest of the world doesn't, we like to think we have a government for the people, that we're the home of the brave, and all that jazz. But honestly, we just have football.
Go ahead and think of a time where you can picture a lot of people having fun. I've come up with the completely erroneous number of 95.8 percent of the people reading this just pictured themselves either at a football game, watching a football game, or playing a football game. I know I did.

Sports make people happy, and that is what America is truly about, "the pursuit of happiness". Of course life and liberty work themselves in there somewhere, but almost everyone has life, and I don't even think we have liberty anymore, so it all boils down to football, or I mean happiness... whatever.

When Joe Shmo can't talk about Bush's international policy, or find America on a map, I'll bet 10 to 1 he can come up with Tom Brady's completion percentage. Some people get more excited or more devastated by sports than anything else in their lives. And what is the best and most popular sport in the world? You said it...Futbol.
Wait...what's futbol you ask? It is the most popular sport in the world, but we Americans refer to it as Soccer. This is where the ingenious ingenuity (can those words be used together like that?) of the American mind shines so brightly. We took what the rest of the world loves more than life itself, their "happiness", and changed it's name to soccer, which sounds a lot like sucker, which has the root word of "suck". As in "this sport sucks". Accident? I think not. Then on top of that, we made up our own game, and just slapped their cherished name on it as if we knew it was even better than the reigning "best sport" right from the start. Well, they were right. Over a hundred years later those Americans seem to have had the best case of foresight I've ever heard of.

America may have a lot of things that other countries don't but over here in Korea I can keep in touch with friends and family, I can go eat a McDonald's cheeseburger, or a pizza, I can have a beer, get a job, support myself financially, and over all, live a pretty good life. But one thing I can't do is watch football.

I am not in America today, and with the football season starting it reminds me more than ever of what I'm missing. I hope this posting made you laugh, but if not, I hope it at least made you realize there are some things we all take for granted. Life is short, too short, so enjoy what you've got because even if all seems lost, you've still got football, while I'm over here stuck with

P.S. - I actually like soccer.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Fun Fact #3

To be completely honest I don't know how I haven't written about this topic before now. This fun fact is something I heard about shortly after getting to Korea, but as time passed I came to realize that this wasn't just a small little tid bit of information that you get under a Snapple cap, but a firmly held belief in Korea. What I'm talking about is "Fan Death". Yes, you read that correctly, "Fan Death" or death by fan. What could I possibly be talking about right? How is getting killed by a fan a "fun fact" you might be asking yourself. Well first of all I'd like to strike all of the horrible images of fans lopping off peoples heads from the record; images that you have undoubtedly already pictured in that little head of yours, that's gross (a last second change from the word "chopping" to "lopping" was made because I have a firmly held belief of my own that the word lopping is one of the most underrated words in the English dictionary).

The idea of "Fan Death" was, interestingly enough, started here in South Korea, but has since spread to some other Asian countries. Few people outside of Asia know what it is, or have even heard of it. So listen up as I drop a little international urban legend knowledge on you. This strange phenomenon is simply the belief that if an electric fan is left running in a closed room overnight, any occupant of said room may find themselves deceased in the morning. Dead, departed, expired, lifeless, perished, or snuffed out, all due to that, seemingly harmless, everyday housing appliance known as the electric fan. I know what kind of crazy thoughts and questions are running through your head right now, so I'll give you a second to recompose yourself. Take a look at this picture, and try to imagine it is a silent killer:
*Paul can not be held liable for any ill effects that come from even staring at this menacing fan*
(That is a really menacing fan, all fans being considered)

It's true, an entire country of people believe that a running fan in a closed room is deadly. The actual rationalization that they have for causing the death is a bit hazy, as you can imagine. However, they believe it so absolutely that the belief has actually spread. It's like when dinner is over and everyone except you cleans your dishes, but you fight so strongly that you did, in fact, do your dishes that your parents start to believe you. Even though the dishes still sit in the vacant seat that you occupy every day of your waking life for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the only logical conclusion is that you're lying, somehow they start to believe; "Maybe they're not his dishes". In much the same way, countries in Asia now believe "A home appliance will kill me while I sleep".

So when I heard this urban legend, that's exactly what I wrote it off as, just a story you tell little kids to scare them into not using up too much electricity. Because we all know how our parents hate using up electricity. Like the story that my dad told me when I was a child, if I don't shut the light off to my room when I leave it, he will put a killer fan in it while I sleep that will lop my head off. I'm glad to say that I've become something of a daredevil since the independence of moving to Korea sank in. Today I don't turn the lights off when I leave the room, and I sleep with a fan blowing directly on me, but I am alive and well, head intact, to tell you today, that I am a survivor.

If you don't believe any of this, or just want another "credible" source please check out this wikipedia article: Fan Death or this "Fan Death" website.

If you need anymore concrete evidence as to how far reaching the absurd fear of "Fan Death" is, just look at the reaction I got when I told this 'Asian' Prairie dog that I was keeping the fan on in his room tonight: