Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Evolution of Revolution

Everyday I sit and watch CNN, even if it's just a few minutes while I eat my breakfast. I think it's important to hear the world news, to be aware of things that are happening to others, or have an idea of how the world is changing. For the first time though I am seeing world news from the other side. Instead of being part of America as it is talked about on TV, I can now see it from the rest of the worlds point of view. It's the same story, but something is different. It's almost like when someone says to you, "it looks like your putting on a little weight," and you hate them for it, instantly. You know yourself, you know your weight, you know everything there is to know about your body, and they are rude, inappropriate, and stuck up for even mentioning such a thing to you. Then the day comes, a day like any other, but on this day when you mossy out of bed you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. It's a mirror you've seen a million times, and a body you've seen a billion times, but today you think "eh, it looks like I've put on a little weight." Sometimes when you have a problem the only one who can't see it is you.

This weekend I tried to sit down and watch as many political debates, and speeches as the internet would allow me to because I still have no idea who I want to vote for in next years presidential election. I have seen the big names; Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, etc, but none of them have really done anything to bolster my confidence in them that they would be a good leader for America. I'm taken by how much running for "president" has become like running for "class president." Remeber in high school or juior high when the over qualified, highly studious, detail oriented student, full of school spirit had to run against one of the popular kids? The only difference between then and now seems to be that in high school we knew it was a sham. Everyone knew that the popular kid was running on his or her name, face, charm, or popularity, and while some people thought it would be cool to elect them, others new the less popular student would do the better job. From school to school and year to year the outcomes change; sometimes cute wins and sometimes quality wins, but the school never seems to be too affected by the outcome much anyway. Well I don't know when it became a popularity contest for America, but that is the way I see it now.

Republicans and Democrats no longer look for the best candidate for President. Honest. They don't want the most qualified person. They want the person that stands the best chance of winning the election, or in high school terms, the most popular. They think the American people can't look past a famous name, a smooth talker, or a confident smile. Can you blame them? Since 1981 our cuntry has been run by a famous movie star, Ronald Reagan, then his Vice President, George Bush Sr., then he was defeated by "Slick Willy", a captivating speaker otherwise known as Bill Clinton, and when we couldn't vote for him anymore we voted for a name we already knew, George Bush again. Well now his time is up, and again a name we know leads the pack...Clinton. These people may or may not have been the best candidates, but they always seem to be the best choice for other reasons than their platform. Either they're famous, or they were the Vice President to a popular President, or they are a great speaker, or they are the son or wife of a President.

The government feels that the popular kid is the only one with the chance to win, so they are the only ones who get endorsed. These endorsements come in terms of more money, more tv ads, more air time during debates, more campaign stops, and all so they can look more like the more qualified candidate. But in high school when the captain of the cheer leading squad tells us she's going to get the class trip to go to Cancun, or get a cotton candy machine in the lunchroom, we know she's really only blowing smoke. Yet somehow we don't see it when the stage becomes larger and more important.

I'm not saying I can see through the smoke and mirrors, I may know less than you, I may not, but I was taken by one candidate when I watched all of those presidential candidate videos this weekend. He was a candidate that has little chance of winning. He has a name that few know, and ideas that even fewer know, but I think he's worth listening to. *Note: I want to say, like I have in this blog before, so far, I am not endorsing this person for president, but I am saying that it is a different way of thinking, of which I'm glad I heard. If you like it, great, but if not, I only hope it makes you dig deeper or think harder about your decision on this topic.* His name is Ron Paul. When I felt like all other candidates were only speaking to "sound good", his words sounded like they were coming from his heart. That is no basis for choosing a president, but I never want to chose one who doesn't.

My basic belief is that I feel a two party system isn't the best system for our society. I even believed this when I thought America was nearly a flawless country. A two party system leads to one view point being seen as right and the other as wrong. But any knowledgeable person knows things are not that simple, there is always a third way to look at things, a grey area, or room to compromise. So we only get one chance every four years to make our voices heard, the voices of reason, and compromise. I don't know if Ron Paul is a worthy candidate yet, but I like the idea of helping his campaign because the better he does may better the chance America has for getting more qualified candidates in the future.

He's trying to raise money for his campaign on the internet. This internet revolution might be the key for lesser known candidates to get noticed. If this gains enough momentum, maybe we'll see an independent follow in his footsteps in the future. No one likes choosing between the lesser of two evils, let alone doing it for the president. But maybe this year taking a chance on someone who stands against war is the best choice we can make. He might show American's that there are people out there, besides the "popular" elite, that are worthy of leadership. He might show us it's okay to see ourselves as we look in the mirror; we maybe putting on some (or a ton) of unflattering weight, but it's not too late to start a healthier diet.
Maybe, just maybe, things can change. I think they can.

Check it out.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I was lucky enough to talk to my family over the internet yesterday. On Thanksgiving weekend, while the rest of my family gathered in Tennessee, I was able to join them from my couch in South Korea. Thanks to a free phone call from my computer, over the internet, using Skype I was able to see and talk with them as if I was there. Well, as if I was there and my eyes worked like an old vhs camcorder. But it's amazing the things we can do today. Thanksgiving is a day we are supposed to give thanks for all that we have and sometimes you don't realize what you have until you step away from it. You don't have to step away as far as South Korea, but I've gained a little more perspective of what I have and I would like to give thanks to some (impossible to do all) of those things today.

1. I am thankful for a family that loves me, and not just my direct family but all of my extended family and close friends. I was amazed to hear about Owen Wilson's suicide attempt a number of weeks back. I couldn't believe that someone with everything, who all the world loved for no other reason than simply being himself could want to end it all. His act made me realize, more than ever, that you can have everything, anyone you want, the adoration of millions, but it's nothing if you don't have people close to you who you love, and who love you. Your family should love you not because you are handsome or pretty, or funny or smart, or rich and famous but just because you are you; for that is something that will never fade.

2. I am thankful for my blog readers. :) Haha, obviously this is a bit of kissing up, but since most of the people who read this blog are my family, maybe it's not so ridiculous that this is so high on my list. But honestly, everyday I check to see how many people have visited my blog and it brings a smile to my face. Rachel and I argue over who has visitors from eccentric countries. It's inspiring to think that anyone would want to read the writing of a normal guy from Jersey. But thank you to those who do. I will try my best to keep you up to date on what I'm up to, while doing what I can to make you laugh, think, and feel entertained. Special thanks to my readers who have added their names and pictures to my map.

3. I am thankful for having a good job. Shinjin has really embraced me and made me feel comfortable in a foreign land. My job affords me a nice apartment, food, all of the essentials of life, vacations, and the luxury of not being able to understand all of the office gossip.

4. I am thankful for being an American. If you're Canadian, that doesn't mean I'm happy that I'm not from somewhere else. I just think we should all be happy about where we came from...if we were lucky enough to be born free. Korea is one of the countries still trying to hold onto the idealistic view of America: the land of opportunity, freedom, and equality. And while the rest of the world may have forgotten that America, I'm proud that my country was once the place for the whole world to go for a second chance at life. I look forward to the day we can be that place again too.

5. I'm thankful for double stuffed Oreo's...need I say more?

6. I am thankful for being able to work in two of the most expensive cities on the planet, New York City and Seoul. I am truly spoiled in that matter.

7. I am thankful for today, tomorrow and yesterday.

8. I am thankful for sports.

9. I am thankful for Halloween; a day when men can dress like morons and women can dress like their naughty fantasies and no one is looked down upon.

10. I am thankful...very thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Never Been So Happy for SAT's

Do you remember taking the SAT's? Do you have a moment of sheer fear that you will never forget? A moment of epiphany? Or something else? My favorite memory will be my long time friend, Steven A. Tangen, turning around only seconds before the test began and saying to me "Hey, Paul, my initials are S.A.T." And he said it like he had never once given any thought to his initials ever referencing anything other than his name, as if they were GJN or VWX (do those letters stand for anything?). But it was a moment of epiphany for him, and a moment of calming comedy for me. Steve went on to score the highest in our class with a 1580. He just edged me out, like a fast ball from Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn was just a bit outside.
Well this past week in Korea the entire high school senior population in the country took their version of the SAT's. All high school seniors, at once, around the country sat in classrooms for EIGHT HOURS to take the test. Believe it or not, it's an even bigger deal over here. Getting into a good college is, so I'm told, almost all that matters for your future. Bad grades? No big deal. Discipline problems? Don't worry. Ugly? They could care less. Friendly? They're not asking. But if you got accepted to a major University you are qualified to do anything.
I hope my kids did well, but instead of worrying about them when another teacher finally told me why we had a random Thursday off (for the testing), all I could do was think about what I would do with my time off. But the good news didn't end there, apparently the seniors basically stop coming to school now that the tests are over too. Talk about icing on the cake. I mean I mentally checked out of high school as soon as I heard I was accepted to Penn State, but these kids really don't have to come anymore. I've heard that some do, but they spend most of the day playing in the gym. This would mean my heavy work load of 12 classes a week would deflate to a measly 9. That good news, added to the surprise day off, testing coming up soon, then vacation to follow, and I was on cloud nine.
Here are some pictures of what I did on my day off. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'll be sure to document my first Thanksgiving in a foreign country tomorrow but I'm pretty sad that today is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I'm not seeing all of my old friends at the local Roxbury bar. If you're there, please pour one for your homie. Peace out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No Trick But With Many Treats to Come

This is not a trick. My site is now an actual link on a travel site called TouristClick.com. It's partially hidden but only seconds after clicking the "Travel Blog" link, then clicking "Asia Travel", and lastly "South Korea"...Whop there it is! Rachel seems to think this is the beginning of something big for my blog, but I don't share the same enthusiasm for self(blog) growth. I do on the other hand know that TouristClick.com is going to blow up atfer catching some of this blogs traffic runoff. Go ahead check it out. It's fine with me, I won't be jealous.
Once your done with that I have some Halloween photos if you want to check them out. Halloween weekend was a really fun one because there wasn't just a Halloween celebration but Rachel's birthday, and Kristy's going away party celebrations too.

That's all for now but stay tuned because I've got a lot of interesting things planned coming up to blog about: Hot Karl (aka Cap'n Karl) will be visiting Seoul for New Years, footballs sent to Korea, the best bathroom in Seoul, corporal punishment, Jersey boys going "Down Under", etc...
I've also gone and added slide shows to old posts if your interested in looking back...but if you are, make sure you look at the last one and watch Zeitgeist.