Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What's the Catch?

It's 10:00pm. I key in my combination on the numeric pad and hit *. The electronic box sings a happy little song as the bolt disengages from the lock momentarily. As I step through the door it trips the sensor on my entry way light. The apartment is beginning to smell normal again, all the vinegar, backing soda, Febreeze and strewn about apple is paying off.

But enough about the smell, how is my camera? Its had the tedious task of taking one shot every 5 minutes since the moment I awoke this morning. A warning window is active on my computer's screen. Apparently, my Cannon didn't have enough juice to shoot all day. Regardless, 75 pictures should be ample for creating my first time-laps composition.

Stupid lazy plant... :/

Where to being describing my day I don't know. I keep asking myself, "what's the catch?"

The day began with a $3 Americano at Quiznos, despite running low on cash I couldn't wait there empty handed for my manager to show up. When he did, we proceeded to the office. I'd spent so many hours on the companies website that I already knew my way around the office from the pictures. My new colleges mingled in the lounge, perched on Mac-white chairs exactly as the were online. I went through the usual motions, exchanging had shakes, determining country of origin and time spent in Korea. I'm relieved to say every one of them gave off a good vibe.

Prior to sharing 8 boxes of pizza for lunch we were summoned into a classroom to listen to a presentation. A young Korean girl, 19 I believe, stood nervously at the front of the group. As silence fell over the room she began to speak with astounding confidence and conviction. She was reciting Michael Douglas's Greed is Good monologue from the famous 1987 movie Wall Street. When she finished, the staff erupted into applause. Never before had I seen a Korean speak English like that.

The pizza was good but it made me thirsty. I headed to the lounge where I was forced to make a desiccation between water, tea, six types of fountain soda or a Swiss-made cappuccino maker dispensing freshly ground expressos, americanos, lattes, cappuccinos or regular coffees - all free. I opted for the classic Pepsi and Pizza combo.

As soon as lunch was over one of the koreans, Paul, took Carolina and I to downstairs to open a new bank account. Could this be true? Were we really going to open a bank account on my first day on the job? At my last job I finally had to go and open one on my own in a completely foreign country with a completely foreign language. In fact, Paul and I didn't open the account right away. First Paul bought me a cell phone, charger and protective case which would be deducted from my pay. For roughly $125 CDN I received the best cell phone / birth control I have ever owned in my life. Actually, this phone is so amazing I think it warrants a whole paragraph!

The cheapest, most bargain basement phone in Korea is the one I received. Yet the Cyon boasts a high resolution, 1000+ color display, sim card, web browser, camera, video camera, mp3 player, 50 megs of built in memory and even a flashlight! Maybe I fond this all so amazing because the the last cell phone I bought, in 2004, featured a liquid crystal blue screen with a black pixel-ated windmill - yes - that is all.


Aside from having a great phone I also have and excellent plan, I'm not signed into any contract and air time is billed by the second rather than the minute. One minute of airtime costs 160w or 16 cents. They even let me choose the last four digits of my phone number at no extra charge and somehow without any type of verification. Usually one gets a prefix and than can choose any sequence of numbers which aren't in use by someone else but in Korea you choose the suffix and then I assume they find a prefix to make it work!

After the phone and bank account were out of the way Carolina and I began training. Overall I have to say I'm very impressed with the school's methodology. Apparently their system yields results and having sat in on a few classes I can concur. We were provided with all the necessary materials and will have a full two weeks of intensive yet not too intense training. I say not too intense because we had plenty of time to mingle and re-hydrate in the lounge and shared a dinner on the school with our manager at Quiznos (TGI Fridays' line up was too long!). I guess what this all boils down to is the fact that I'm still in a state of shock having come from a job where the only thing you could count on was that nothing would follow any kind of logical or systemic reasoning, where routine could never be established, where there were few, if any, perks or extras.

Monday, February 19, 2007

War Against Odor


My new apartment is fan-freak'n-tastic with one exception - it's reeks of thick, putrid, stale, sticky, grimy, tar-y cigarette smoke. The odor didn't phase me initially, I must have been so excited by the fact I wasn't living in a ghetto this year that I didn't have a chance to pick up on the rank smell. By day two is was clear that leaving the windows open wasn't going to solve the stinking problem.

What does one do to combat residual smoke? I didn't know, so I turned to Google. It turns out washing the walls with vinegar can help substantially. When I do things I like to go all out so I bought an entire arsenal of goods to combat the smell including vinegar, Febreeze, baking soda and an apple. Yes, an apple, according to many tipsters on home remedy sites apples are great at masking unpleasant scents. And no, I'm not just gonna cover up the smell DAD! Having been raised by a man who detests synthetic perfumes, I leaned at an early age that anyone who had an air freshener was simply trying to mask a preexisting stench rather than dealing with the problem directly.


The vinegar deals in part with the problem. Vinegar has the ability to cut through tar in addition to being an antiseptic with an overpowering smell. Never huff the vapors coming off of a fifty-fifty mix of hot water and vinegar - it almost knocked me to the floor. We probably all remember that box of Arm and Hammer mom kept in the fridge, it was odorless and absorbed bad fridge smells. And while I have always believed Febreeze to be a coverup agent, which it is, I was enticed into trying it after reading so many accolades. It actually turns out that Febreeze contains cyclodextrin which is a sugar like compound that traps the odour molecules. Essentially this means the smelly molecules are engulfed by less smelly molecules. Smearing peanut butter around a pickle might have a similar effect, one would no longer smell pickle but it would still be there... mmmmm, peanut-butter pickle... For much better examples and more info on Febreeze see this page.


In conclusion, I spent a morning washing every wall in the house with vinegar. The water in my bucket turned satisfyingly brownish. I did a before and after sniff and can claim the vinegar helped immensely. The bottle of Febreeze didn't last long. I sprayed the stuff on the couches, chairs and blinds - heavily I might add. Again, I can actually say the stuff worked, it certainly didn't eliminate the odor, but it suffocate it quiet well. Finally, I cluster bombed my apartment with slices of apple bowls of baking soda which seem to be working thus far. I'll be back with an odor update come Sunday.

Korean AlphaBARt Project


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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Wall Unit Conceptualization

Mom can be a little neurotic when it comes to decor ("little" being a bit of an understatement). She worries the top of the custom built wall unit looks awkward with its flat, horizontal line. She wonders if it should have stretched to the ceiling after all.

I renovated the wall unit using photoshop so she could visualize things a little better. She's already found a carpenter!

Key Words
wall unit video photoshop edit concept model blueprint draft photo realistic