Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gal-Be = Heaven

*Gal-be*, is the Korean word for *heaven* as far as I*m concerned. With just over ten months left on my contract, I*m already feeling disheartened about continuing my life void of certain Korean staples. Gal-be is one of these.

Gal-be derives its brilliance from its shear simplicity. To begin with, prominently displayed photos or drawings of pigs distinguish Gal-be restaurants from the rest and simultaneously provide passersby*s with a menu at a glance. After removing your shoes at the door, you take a seat on the floor amongst various Korean families and friends.

There*s none of this pondering the menu trying to decide if you should be adventurous or go with the same old favorite. Only two decisions are required: what type of alcohol you desire and how many portions of Gal-be you wish to eat. As quickly as these decisions have been reached the meal arrives. An iron cylinder filled with glowing ambers is placed in the center hole of the knee high table. A stainless steel grate is positioned overtop and switched periodically throughout the meal.

The biggest problem with Gal-be is allocating enough table space to accommodate all of the FREE, REFILLABLE dishes. Starting with the greens; there is a lettuce, green onion and chive salad mixed in a generously applied tart, yet sweet dressing, a plate with five varieties of lettuce, an entire cucumber, half a large carrot, two long green chili peppers, four gargantuan mint leaves and a hand full of fresh, peeled garlic cloves delicately wrapped in a lettuce and places in the center.

There is also a bowl of onion salad, which I recently discovered was excellent for grilling, and another bowl with two varieties of kim-chee... the Korean equivalent of salt. But no, that*s still not all! There is also a dish of co slaw like cabbage with a dollop of tasty vanilla yogurt dressing and peanuts sprinkled on top. Then there are the sauces, one of which is a bean paste that ranks right up there with Aroy-D sweet chili sauce from Thailand. The other is similar to Soya-sauce and used for dipping the freshly grilled meat in. Finally, there is big metal bowl of marinated pork! I was trying to figure out the cut today, to no avail, I think it could be from the rib area as there was a rib like bone in our dish this time around.

I*m a drummer, which also means I*m a fidgeter ~ always have been. It drives my family, friends and ex-girlfriends nuts. Gal-be demands close attention. The pork has to be placed on the grill, flipped to allow for even cooking and cut into bite size pieces using the large set of scissors provided. Not only is this meal a fidgeters dream, but it also satisfies my boyish fascination with fire! It is the ultimate first date meal, you can exude natural machismo grilling and slicing freshly killed swine, and you always have a sense of purpose just incase one of those awkwardly long silences develops. Once the pork is cooked you grab it with some chopsticks, dunk it in the sauces and then wrap it in a leaf with whatever you like, perhaps some grilled garlic and kim-chee, the possibilities are endless!

Tonight three of us ate four portions. I was stuffed, and it should be noted I hadn*t eaten all day and was extremely hung over. The bill came to 14,000 won, the equivalent of about $16 Canadian for the three of us. Let me phrase it another way: for $5.33 I spent over an hour vanquishing a day*s hunger from a selection of six different dishes.

Gal-be is heaven... perhaps I will never Korea.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ever Heard of Yoga?

I*ve never been with the times... I*m generally always two to three years behind... by that time everything has gotten a lot cheaper. I*m the guy who buys last seasons jeans and trendy shirts at Winners. I wait a good two weeks for the latest technology to go obsolete before I acquire it. So it figures that I just jumped on to the Yoga bandwagon.

Yoga is a... mmmm... sport... or perhaps an art... an aerobic... or is it a meditation ~ whatever it is, I could have cared less about it. Since moving to Korea I have led quite a lethargic life style consisting mainly of teaching, downloading, emailing, watching TV, drinking, Dj*ing, composing tracks on my Mac and learning html through a painstaking process of **republish entire blog** and **preview**. Until now I have justified this existence with the notion that once I had more funds at my disposal, and got over my tonsillitis, I would assume this incredibly active lifestyle.

Well now I have money... yet I am still a sloth. This morning I agreed to accompany my roommate, Jason, and his Korean girlfriend, Joy, to their second yoga class. I was amazed by just how exhilarating the five-minute walk to the gym was in and of itself! But the yoga class I was about to undertake would be far superior.

First off, I have to give some credit to people who can perform yoga with any aspect of fluidness. If I could buy three additional traits it would be balance, coordination and grace. I was like a fish out of water... flopping around on my double long yoga matt that had to accommodate my six foot five frame. Meanwhile. 15 middle age housewives and two young Korean women were adopting position the human body shouldn*t even be able to assume... effortlessly.

There*s this one, I*m sure we*ve all seen and liked, where you kind of do this elongated, slow humping movement along the ground and end up looking like a walrus. Ideally you move from having your ass up in the air to the extended walrus position in one fluid movement. My movement consisted of moving forward, collapsing with a thud beside my mat, readjusting, awkwardly assuming the extended walrus position and then doing the exact same thing in reverse.

Another one of my favorites was this position I*ll call the **Charmed Snake**. You start by wrapping your arms around each other, I wish I could be more specific but my body wasn*t capable of doing it, then wrap one leg over the other, squat down ninety degrees and do this all while standing on one foot. The harsh part was, I was already beat after the initial five minutes of cross-legged, circle fingered meditation. After the teacher came around and straitened my posture, I was shaking for the next five minutes trying to maintain it.

Well, it*s already 3:00am and I*ve herd from Jason, now a two-day yoga vet, the second day is worse than the first... I better get some rest if I want to keep up with those housewives tomorrow.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I Was Trip*n Hard Last Night!

Wow... I took my Korean anti-Tonsillitis drugs last night, grabbed two hours of sleep, woke up and felt like I was flying on XTC! As a result, I stayed up half the night working on my latest track. Took a sample of a French traveler friend who I met while backpacking through Thailand and chopped in up in Recycle. As I recall, we all had a few **special** cookies that night, so he is going off about how he loves the sound of geckos in such a smooth, thick, French accent I would have fallen in love with him were he not a man. Meanwhile, I have a gecko that instigated the whole conversation gecko-ing on a loop in the background.

Listen To French Guy Sample

DJ TTM & Comatose's Korean/Canadian Cross Continental Loop

I think I*m going to open up with the sound of the sampled cicadas I captured in the Jungle, move into the dialog and then keep both the cicadas and dialogue as a constant throughout the track. So far I have created what will most likely be my course... and it sounds wicked. I*ve managed to bring more of a fullness... a richness... an organic feel to this track... something almost all of my other tracks are missing. I*m excited... I*ll be sure to post it when I*m done!


Friday, September 16, 2005

Doctors Visits

Krista wasn*t kidding when she told me Koreans go to the Doctor for EVERYTHING. I saw three kids with potentially life threatening scratches to their elbows and knees playing on the automated height-measuring machine. Actually, I*m not one to make fun of them, my condition didn*t appear to be much worse than anyone else*s.

Doctors, medical facilities and medicine are just a few things I try to keep my distance from. However, orders from my Hog-Wan to report to the doctor left me with no choice but to head for the clinic. Waiting rooms are peculiar places... sterile congregation areas for the infected. One Korean woman had that kind of deep, lung-scraping cough that made you instinctually want to leave the room.

Even more concerning, was the way she went about coughing, ensuring she misted every inch of that room with her germs and lung particulate. Koreans are oblivious to the concept of covering your mouth when you cough. I can deal with the reality Koreans will never let people out before they go in, hold the door open for others or chew with their mouths closed, but we must oppress this cultures nasty habit of coughing as if to share it with the entire world.

The nurses saved me from the germ sprinkler and brought me to the secondary waiting room, a little closer than the initial waiting room and void of magazines. Once in my doctor*s office I noticed his hands were soft and delicate, he looked to be somewhere between 45 and 55. The flat screen monitor in his office had so many windows open I figured he was simultaneously overseeing a mission to the moon. He depressed my tongue with a metal thing instead of the standard Popsicle stick they use back home. Then He put on one of those crazy, circular metal, relfelctor things, with the eyehole in the middle, that you only see on those universal, simplistic doctor signs -- and peered into my nostrils. Three minutes after it all began I was finished, and it only cost me the equivalent of a dollar for every minute I was there!

The prognosis: Tonsillitis. Down at pharmacy, while they where filling my prescription, a package of **Medicinal Cigarettes** caught my attention. Strait form China, they boasted, **These Herb Medicine Smoke Substitutes are a Revolution of Innocence in its Taste and Sense...** SOLD! I picked up my whole color spectrum of pills, conveniently grouped and individually packaged for each day, and went home.

Taking pills at home in Canada is bad enough, here, I*m scared shitless. Speaking of pills, it looks like I*m due for my first batch right now.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

English Idiocies

Being an English teacher in Korea has made me much more aware of my strange, difficult and inconsistent mother tong. I have always known English spelling was ridiculous, to this day I*m unable to make it through a whole typed page without errors (I shift all the blame for my inadequate spelling on manufacturers of spell checkers). Students constantly catch my spelling errors, luckily I have managed to package this weakness as a **Who can spot the error first** type of game. Sometimes kids as young as eight play along.

But just to exemplify exactly what it is I*m talking about: Why do we say, **Do you have an eraser or a pen?** But use some or any when we ask **Do you have any tape or some glue?** Is it because these things are not as easily quantified? Why was an actor in a movie but on TV? How close does something have to be before we refer to it as this instead of that? And if any/some refers to plural as in **Do you have any/some markers?** and we use these forms in special cases for singular objects such as tape, glue and string than why don*t we say, **Can you pass me those glue?** Wouldn*t that be logical? Finally, why do we have so many damn two-letter word, prepositions I believ, that when omitted make sentences incomprehensible and when mixed up change the whole meaning of the sentence?

I*m sure there are rational explanations for these English idiocies however, I think everyone can agree the English language defies all logic. To sum up, here are my two favorite answers from my Let*s Go 6 writing test:

(Test: Students look to pictures for answers to written questions)

Question: What did the girl do before she went to bed?
Answer: She brushed her horse before she went to bed.
Top Answer: She brushed her house before she went to bed.

Question: Which boy is Jack?
Answer: He is the boy who is eating curry.
Top Answer: He is the boy who is eating an Indian.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I Think I*m Going Blind

I*m starting to worry about my eyes, for the first half hour or so of every morning my vision is completely distorted (rubbing my eyes to point of eye-gasm may be a strong contributing factor). My eyes seem to accumulate this kind of slime in them. In the evenings they seem to be fine until I try to start my marking.... strange. I wonder if this has anything to do with my reading that Roosters (in the Chinese zodiac) are especially prone to vision disorders... Maybe it*s this apartment, my pillow or the mere fact I spend copious amounts of time in front of my shiny new G4 Power Book; which, by the way, has some kind of optical drive glitch. It was bound to happen just after I finished telling people how incredibly bomb proof Macs are.

I worked as Tech support for MSN one summer ago. The job was very accommodating of my broken ankle. As a result of this experience,I know exactly what information technical support is looking for. More importantly, I know all the crap they really don*t want to hear. It wasn*t the fact the call from Korea to the USA was costing me 15 cents for every minuet they kept me on hold that was frustrating me. Nor did I care that it was 1:00 in the morning and Apple was unable to provide me with any useful information about where I could find an apple store around here. What vexed me was the fact I had answered all my own questions prior to the call! I was simply wasting my time and my money verifying all my own answers. When I told Rick I had:

Tried 6 different types of media
Tried burning as different user
Repaired permissions
Ran **sudo daily, weekly, monthly**
Erased safari cache
Zapped PRAM
Reset PMU
Reinstalled latest Tiger Update: 10.4.2 Combo Update

He replied, **Looks like you covered a lot of ground... you should probably take it to an Authorized Apple Repair Center**. He even let me know it would be better to find a local center rather than ship my computer to the US or Canada... he was a wealth of information.

Well, enough bitching, looks like I*ll be headed to Seoul sooner than expected! On a completely different note, it always surprises how the original ideas I come here to post are never put to paper. I hope, one day, I*ll get around to writing about teaching English and living in Korea. In the mean time, I*m gonna stop writing as my vision is now limited to the bottom left corner of my right eye.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Devil's in Disguise

Alright, I*m opening this post up for discussion on how I should discipline my little hooligans. Yesterday was brutal... I started yelling in my army tone while throwing their tests on the ground. The Korean's hit them with a stick... I'm sure we can find alternatives...


p.s. It*s not really my classes that are the problem, it is the switch classes... where I am kind of like a substitute teacher - my apologies to every substitute teacher I ever had... you have my utmost respect now

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The End of Suburbia

Watched a docudrama by the title above last night. It was exactly the right amount of doom, gloom and optimism I love in a documentary. Essentially, energy resources on our planet have hit peak production, now we are headed back down the bell-curve. Mother Earth lacks the energy resources to support our suburban way of life (which by the way is one of the most inefficient ways of life on the planet, having only the negatives of both farm and city life). It was the kind of documentary that leaves you pondering about which country you want to start a small organic, self-sustaining farm on. Remember to take into account there will likely be wars over energy in places where it is readily available. I figured a country that already has nothing would cope best when the blackouts begin.

But don*t loose hope... as a result of having to drastically change the way we live community living will reemerge and be vital to our survival. We will need to produce our own energy, foods and goods, and rely on each other for support. Retail will take a while to relearn due Wall-Mart and all of its relatives having destroyed small businesses.

Living in Gumi Korea, I have a good glimpse at what a post Big Box Store community looks like. My groceries are as cheap, if not cheaper at the corner store than they are at E-Mart, which is twenty minutes away. There are over fifteen market stands lining the short path to my school. Across from E-Mart, all of the storefronts are closed. Here you actually interact at stores. I look forward to the old, fat Korean woman who screams *HEEEELLL-OOOO* and gives me the peace sign every night from her shanty noodle stand.

I*m going to Google *basic survival courses* now. I*m going to need some more applicable skills in the future. Making music on my computer and Dj*ing are great fun, but I want something I can enjoy without having to plug it in. These ideas of a drastic life overhaul will be left for future musings however.


-I encourage everyone to see this excellent documentary. Visit the link below for more information (No idea why links don*t work here... Copy and paste I guess!).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Kill'n Time

It took a little trial and error, navigating through a Korean replica of this still unfamiliar site. It*s 4am, I*m sitting in a *PC Bong* in Busan (Korea*s second largest city), killing time with my friend and fellow teacher Christa while waiting to catch the subway to the port and then the ferry to Fokuoka Japan! Initially, I was going to spend the time playing Warcraft 3, however, a lot has changed since War Craft 1 came out 10 or so years ago. Computer games used to be relatively simply and thus intuitive... these days are gone. The mere fact I was unable to understand my mission, let alone figure out the controls, was enough reason for me to give up.

Korea has made me realize all electronics tend to speak roughly the same language. For example, bank machines seem consistent wherever you are. I was a little reluctant to use the trail and error method with something as dear to me as finances, but as long as you remember Red = Cancel, Green = Ok and Yellow = Correction then the characters are irrelevant. In the rare event none of the above work then press the top right hand corner button to proceed.

Anyway, I actually had a story to share:

Today in class I was scribbling on my chalkboard as usual when the entire class erupted into laughter. When this happens I usually get nervous. Baffled, I peered around the room in the hopes someone else was the source of their laughter. But of course they were all staring at me and speaking rapid Korean while gasping for air. Wearing a puzzled look on my face I shrugged my shoulders and asked *What?* When she finally recovered, Ginnie, an typical short, sweet and occasionally obnoxious 10 year old Korean girl pointed at where my t-shirt met my pants. I checked my fly, it was in the fully upright position – what else could it be?

I remembered my sweaty armpits had amused them in earlier classes and as reached for the sealing to look the bright orange and white checks on my boxer shorts came into full view. Girls were turning their head in nervous embarrassment, boys were pointing and laughing, everyone was in hysterics. But then the class quickly fell silent... something wasn*t right... my boss, Ms Hong, had been staring through the window. From what little I could decipher after the incident, she was there for most of the show.

Interestingly, Ms Hong never even mentioned the incident. It*s not that I was worried about my boxers being seen but rather I didn*t want her to think I was intentionally showing my boxers to a bunch of nine-year-old boys and girls.

So I*m off to Japan, this won*t be posted until I can either figure out how *Publish Post* is spelt in Korean/Japanese or am back on my own computer. In the mean time I*m going to look for some Japan-ime boxers.