Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some interesting food posts...

I've come across a few interesting food related posts lately.

1) Someone reverse engineered the KFC special recipe.

2) Someone had a lot of time on their hands. Or at least enough to create a sandwich based on Rubik's Cube. Not sure how one would eat this thing though.

3) People in pizza costumes that make up a pizza.

Until I can cook again, I scan a few food blogs, where I've come across these things. Some people really do have too much time on their hands.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Public service announcement...

As many of you know, I recently dealt with the death of my father. He did not have his financial or other things in order, which has led to lots of things that my brother and I have had to figure out, track down, find, or even guess at. So, one of the lessons I learned and that I will be doing include:

1) setting up an advanced directive (this he did have, as part of the whole hospice package) -- this is a document that outlines what types of medical care you wish to have if you ever end up where you cannot communicate your wishes. Do you want to have a tube put down your throat to feed you? Do you want to be put on life support? Who do you want to make these decisions for you if you can't? Lifehacker has a post on Advanced Directives, including a link to a site with basic forms for each state in the U.S.

2) a will -- A will allows you to identify a person or persons that you want to manage your estate and allows you to identify a person, persons, or organizations that you want your assets given to when you die. One word of advice, do NOT leave your will in your safe deposit box. In California, if you die, your assets are frozen, including your safe deposit box. This means that no one can get in to your safe deposit box to get your will without a representative from the government present, and that the person opening the safe deposit box must be identified as the executor of your estate. Problem is, they can't be identified as the executor of your estate without your will. So keep a copy where people can get to it if something happens to you. See an attorney if you have questions about writing a will.

3) keep a list of insurance policies, bank accounts, beneficiaries, retirement accounts, mortgages, assets, credit cards, and other important things and make that easily accessible to the person(s) you want to take care of your estate. Anything related to money or insurance, keep a comprehensive list, including account numbers, contact information, and beneficiaries -- this will be the most help to the person who has to take care of your estate or deal with your life if you are not able to.

None of this stuff is easy to think about. It's hard to acknowledge that life ends or that we might become incapacitated. But help the people who love you, and make everything a bit easier for them. It's hard enough to deal with the loss of a loved one, but harder still when you have to sort through decades worth of papers to figure out whether or not there's an insurance policy that's still in effect.

Random stuff

The cleaning ladies have not taken our sponge lately. Although I heard someone else in the building lost her sponge recently. However, they did bring us a new one the other day without us having to ask for one. And it comes neatly wrapped with a label and everything.

A McDonald's bag. Kind of sad how some things don't change no matter where in the world you are. One difference though is the menu in a Korean McDonald's. (Yes, I've been inside one, I just haven't eaten at one in a long time.) You can get a bulgogi burger, a shrimp burger, or a Shanghai Spicy Chicken Sandwich. They don't have hamburgers, but you can get a cheeseburger. Big Macs are on the menu, too.
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Dongdaemun at night

I've been trying to get more exercise lately. Sitting in a chair at a desk for 50 or more hours a week takes a toll after a while and my clothes aren't fitting as well as they used to. So now that the weather is nicer (meaning it's not raining constantly), I've been going out for a walk in the evenings a few nights a week. The other night we headed down Cheonggyecheong towards Dongdaemun. It took us about an hour to walk down and back. The photo is of Dongdaemun from across the street near the entrance to the underground shopping area at Dongdaemun.
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Manchester United at FC Seoul

Last night, Friday July 24th, we went to the Manchester United at FC Seoul game at World Cup Stadium. This was the first time either one of us has seen a British Premier League team play in real life; because we've always watched them on tv, so it was a real pleasure to see them play in person.

We took the subway all the way out to the World Cup Stadium stop. The station there is all decked out in posters and signs for FC Seoul. There were a couple of other places in town that had Man U stuff -- such as the stairway down to the underground shopping area at Lotte Young Plaza. They had Man U posters lining the walls there.

Inside the stadium building they have a Home Plus store, kind of like a giant Target store, with groceries. There is also a movie theater.

We got there with plenty of time to wander around before the game (so we would miss the transportation crush getting there, leaving was a whole different story). This is the view of the stadium from over by the access to the stream and jogging trail. We watched people going grocery shopping at Home Plus try and park their cars and then get out of the parking lot when they were finished. Fortunately there were Home Plus employees out in the parking lot that would stop pedestrians and help guide people as they backed up, otherwise there were a few times when we were sitting on a bench that we might have lost our feet as people backed up.

Outside the stadium, they had the usual displays of products and merchandise for sale. Including this tower of Smirnoff. They were handing out samples of the ginger ale and lime and the soda and lemon Smirnoff vodka beverages. The ginger ale one actually tasted like ginger ale, but it didn't have that bite that ginger ale has. Real ginger ale, when I pour a glass, has bubbles that tickle my nose when I drink, and the taste has a bit of a bite to it. Both of these were drinkable, but nothing special.

There's a little park area, a stream, and a bridge crossing the stream near the entrance to the stadium area, so we wandered out that way for a bit before the game.

The Smirnoff flags we got. Unfortunately, we did not get Budweiser thunder sticks. Maybe next time.

View from the stadium. A sea of apartments. Instead of building vast tracts of houses, they build vast seas of apartment towers here.

The sign board inside.

Warmup before the game.

The act before the game. Not sure who the performers were. Nor did I know who was performing at half time either. But whoever it was has to be one of the more popular K-pop groups at the moment based upon the amount of screaming from all the pre-teen and teen girls and the mass swarming in the seats near the centerline on the side of the stage. Many of the younger boys and girls near us moved towards the front of our section and pulled out their zoom lenses and starting snapping away.

The view from our seats.


The game was a lot of fun. It was fun to be at a friendly game where the crowd cheered for both teams. The fireworks at kickoff and the beginning of the second half startled me. And they set off fireworks when FC Seoul scored, too. The crowd cheered when the cameras focused on a player or the coach from Man U and they showed them on the big screens. Park Ji Sung, the Korean player on Man U, elicited huge roars when the camera showed him on the big screen. About 60 minutes into the game, the crowd started chanting his name. He eventually came in, and the crowds went wild.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mystery photos

When I was going through a box of photos, slides, and negatives that we found stashed amongst my father's things, we found some mystery photos. We have no idea who any of these people are. Nor where the photos were taken. But, based upon the time frame of many of the photos in the box, I would assume that they were taken in the late 1940s or early 1950s. They may be related on the Kline side of the family. Any suggestions?

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current status...

It's now been a month since my dad died. People ask me how I'm doing, and I'm ok. I have good days and bad days. Fortunately I'm so busy at work that I have very little time to just sit and think, but every now and again I have a slow period, and then it hits me. And some times there are random moments such as when I'm in a cab headed home after dinner with friends where I see his face in my mind, that last image I have of him after he died and he's laying there, and it hurts.

But for the most part, I'm ok. I haven't felt much up to socializing, so I understand the old-fashioned mourning customs where people withdrew from social life after the death of a loved one. It is sometimes difficult for me to be around people that are celebrating something -- I understand their need to celebrate, and that it is a happy occasion. And I'm happy for them, but I'm still grappling with the emotions I have from a sad occasion. And it's not that I don't want to go out and have a good time, it's just that I'm not ready to do that yet.

I have gotten out a bit, walking mostly, and quiet dinners out, so I'll be posting photos again soon. And we are going to the Manchester United game next weekend -- I'm hoping it won't be pouring rain that night.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The 5 seasons of Seoul

I've now been here for almost a year, and over that year, I've discovered that Seoul has five distinct seasons.

1) Summer - August through very early September, lovely warm weather, not too humid
2) Fall - September through mid-November, cool crisp weather, leaves start falling, perfect walking or hiking weather
3) Winter - mid-November until some time in March or April, cold
4) Spring - April through June, warms up, snow melts, trees begin turning green again
5) Rainy Season - end of June through end of July (I hope), gray, humid, muggy with rain

I am really looking forward to the end of the rainy season.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's good to be home...

I'm back home in Seoul now. I was not looking forward to the flight back, but I managed to sleep through most of it. I got on the plane, sat down, buckled my seatbelt, and the next thing I knew, we were taking off. Then I dozed again, and it was beverage service time. Then meal time. I only managed a few games of free cell (instead of the hundreds of games on the last flight). It made the whole experience pass by that much faster.

The other thing I noticed... I have now flown Korean Air four times in the past two months. On this last flight, the 4th, the flight attendant actually had a little card that showed how to eat bibimbap. I've now been offered bibimbap 4 separate times, but this was the first time they provided instructions. Korean Air bibimbap meal comes with a plastic tub of rice, a bowl full of meat and vegetables, and a tube of red pepper paste. You put the rice in the bowl, stir everything up and add red pepper paste to taste. I'm not sure that my Japanese seat mate realized that she might want to taste test it before putting the entire tube of red pepper paste in to the bibimbap. She was mighty uncomfortable there for a while trying to eat her meal.

Anyway, I'm back home, enjoying rainy season. Yesterday it was almost a Florida downpour. On my way to work, I was looking at the clouds thinking they had that dark look that clouds in Florida have before they open up and dump everything on you. Here, it was raining very heavily, but not as heavy as it does when you're driving on I-95 and it starts to pour, and you turn your windshield wipers on as fast as they can go, and you have to slow down to about 5 miles an hour, because you can't see anything. I do believe though that I need a new 5000 won umbrella, because mine has sprung leaks.

Oh, and there was thunder and lightning! It was great. I do miss the afternoon rain storms. I remember the afternoons in my old office in Jacksonville, watching the storms come in, and the rain hit the windows, and the flashes of lightning.

Oh, it's good to be back. I had noodles and kimbap for lunch yesterday. And I'm planning on heading over to Chef Meili's in Itaewon for dinner -- haven't been there now in months! And the fruits and vegetables are so good! The plums I've seen in the fruit stalls on the streets look so delicious. I'm going to get some the next time I walk by a stand!