Thursday, July 21, 2011

Korean Cultural Tour - (Korea) Day 234

At the Korean Folk Village with our tour guide

This morning I had no work call, instead I went on a Korean Cultural Tour. We met up at 0830 at the shoppette next to my office and all boarded a bus that headed to a traditional Korean folk village. The trip took a little over an hour, so I slept for a good part of it. When we arrived at the village, we were given a short tour of some of the main places and then we were turned loose for an hour to explore whatever we wanted. The village was pretty interesting, it gives you insight into how Koreans lived during the Joseon Dynasty period.

I stumbled upon a traditional Korean folk performance soon after we were turned loose to wander about. I sat and watched the performance and then shortly afterward nearby there was another performance, only this one was a tightrope performance. It was pretty impressive, not only because it was on a tightrope, but because the performer had to be in his late 50's or early 60's! After the show I wandered around the village checking out the different sights with a guy I met on the tour.

We had lunch at the village as a group. It was similar to beef & leaf that I've had before, but instead of grilling the beef, it was cooked in a pan with some sort of sauce at our table. It was pretty good, and it was free! Once everyone was done, we boarded the bus and headed to the Chungdong Theatre. Here we watched "Miso" an "Original Korean Musical". I was wondering if I was going to care for this much because I had no idea what to expect. It turns out that it was pretty good. Before it started it had some background music playing and on a screen it told the story of what we were about to see (in Korean, English - and I'm guess Japanese and Chinese). When the show started there was no talking, just a bunch of folks running around and acting to instrumental music. The stage was great and the costumes were excellent. Because there was no talking everyone could pretty much understand what was going on.

After the show we headed back to the post and the tour was over. I had a fun time. I'm glad there are things like this offered to us that don't cost any money. I was surprised that I was the only one in my office that requested to go…of course I request to go on everything because I want to take advantage of all the opportunities I can while I'm here.

Once back I headed to the barber to get my hair cut and then ate dinner at the food court. After that I took a nap in my room before getting up and surfing the web a bit before watching a TV show and doing just one SkillPort. I'm going on leave tomorrow, so this will be the last I post for probably two weeks!!!!!!

Me playing dress up at the Chungdong Theatre before the show

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hate The Fat Ones - (Korea) Day 233

Work call this morning was at 0630, a bit earlier than I prefer. We had to setup a meeting in the secret conference room and then another in the top secret conference room. Once that was all done I headed off to Starbucks to get some coffee. I needed some fuel to keep me going since we had such an early work call.

I then settled into my office and started doing SkillPorts until it was time to clean up from the morning meetings. Once we finished I sat down in the conference control room with our KATUSA and SPC Mick. I had been doing SkillPorts all morning and then we just hauled all the crap from the meetings up and put it away. I wanted to just sit back for a second. Normally we keep the conference room door locked, but because we took some dirty dishes into get washed we had to keep it open for them to be returned to us. Unfortunately our NCOIC walked in and saw us all just sitting around. I think what made it look even worse was that both me and SPC Mick were leaned back with our feet up watching TV. She asked "Is this what you guys do up here all day?" She then proceeds to tell us all these changes she has planned. It was basically all the stuff she had said before when we had our "sit down". I'm not sure what to expect as I said before, I hear a lot of things…but nothing ever seems to happen. If it does happen, it only lasts for a little while and then it goes back to normal.

When our NCOIC left SPC Mick blew a gasket and kicked a few things around the room. I guess that really touched a nerve. He then stated "This is the worst day of my life". A bit dramatic, but like I said…I'm waiting to see what if anything really changes. I can't see anything changing any time soon. Our NCOIC has to train the replacement for our air force master sergeant, and until that happens she's going to be pretty busy.

I headed to lunch a little early and was able to video chat with my wife for a bit. When I got back to the office, it was back to SkillPorts. I worked on those until we setup for a meeting in the secret conference room. Once that was done SPC Mick had to do a bunch of phone calls for our NCOIC. I'm not sure what it was all about, but he had a stack of business cards and had to call each of them. I feel sorry for him. I took the office car out and picked up our supply KATUSA. We headed to the cell phone store where I picked up the broken blackberry that I had dropped off earlier. The supply KATUSA was then able to upgrade my office phone, so I now have a nice shiny gold star trek communicator looking phone. I feel so special now.

When I got back CPT Hooah! wanted me to do a little research on laser pointers. We have a few bigger ones and one skinny one currently, but we were informed that one of the generals "hates the fat ones!" So this is now a burning issue!

I did some more SkillPort work until the last meeting was over around 1730. We then cleaned it up and took off for the day. I headed back to my room where I did pretty much the usual…you know SkillPorts and TV Shows. The young hawaiian stopped by for a bit. He is going to the board tomorrow and was given some sound advice…."have a few drinks before you go to the board, it will loosen you up a little". He had some communist beer and soju that he left in my refrigerator back in April from the DMZ tour…LOL. So he picked that up to have for tomorrow's use. I'm looking forward to hearing how that goes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slow News Day - (Korea) Day 232

Me next to a small statue in front of my office

Work call this morning was at 0830. We had to setup for a meeting in the secret conference room, then I turned my attention to SkillPorts. I worked on them until lunch time when I left to one of the shops next to the PX. I had to pick up my room key and a copy that was made. You see my roommate lost his key in the swimming pool and had to get a copy made for him. He dropped it off there this morning and I picked them up so I could get back in the room. I decided just to eat lunch at the food court…a BLT, haven't had one of those in a while.

Back at work we setup for another meeting in the secret conference room and then cleaned up when it was over. Not a lot happened today, just a couple of meetings and a whole lot of SkillPorts. I also started searching around for other web based training I can do while I have the time. There isn't a whole lot for signal surprisingly, but I didn't have a lot of time to poke around.

After work I headed over to the young hawaiian's room to borrow his small travel luggage. The only bag I have is huge, just too big for my short trip home. I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone and just hanging out. I know it's going to be fast paced and time is going to fly by, but I'm going to try and enjoy every minute of it.

Back in my room for the night, I found out my roommate will not be back until Friday. He left for training down south, so it will be nice and quite…I'll get some good sleep!

the wife

One day closer my love!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 02:09 PM

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just Another Day - (Korea) Day 231

A photo posted by the official photographers from the change of command ceremony
last Thursday. This was the "official party" or as I called them "The VIPs". The general
on the far left is the new incoming commander. (original photo is located
on the USFC Flickr website)

Work call this morning was at 0830. We setup for a meeting in the top secret conference room. Special K finally has a badge and can escort us in from now on to setup instead of us having to wait for one of the officers from our office. The funny thing is that Special K has had a top secret clearance since coming to Korea, but they never gave him access to this conference room for some reason. CPT Hooah! thought that was BS and had that fixed within a few weeks of him finding out which was pretty cool. It makes things much easier for us and for the officers in our office.

After that I checked my promotion point status since it's the beginning of the week:

Military Education (260 Maximum Points)

Correspondence Crs (Hrs 598) (Pts 119)

I'm slowly making my way up there. I know I have more hours than it currently shows, but it takes a while for it to update on my ERB, then it takes another few days to update to the promotion point worksheet. After checking that, I continued to work on more SkillPorts. I didn't have any interruption this morning, no phone calls to make…no secretary work…my NCOIC called in sick today.

I headed off to lunch and video chatted with my wife in my room for a bit. When I got back to the office we cleaned up the top secret room and then setup for another small meeting in our conference room. I then started to work on my army SSDL1 training. I ended up staying a little after 1700, but I was able to finish it all. It says I'll get 80 hours credit for completing the course, so we'll see if it shows up automatically on my ERB or if I have to do something like go to S1 with my certificates. I'll give it a week or so…well I guess until I get back from leave which is coming up soon!!!

I headed back to my room to change and then met up with PFC Pickle at the food court where we ate dinner and hung out for a bit before heading back to our rooms. I did my usual nightly routine….SkillPorts and watching TV shows. I have 134 days left here in Korea and I plan on making the most of them, like my sergeant told me…"you may not have a lot of the free time in your next unit, so take advantage of it while you can here"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 229-230

OK...I may be a little stupid, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity to
snap a quick picture on post.

Saturday: This weekend is a little messed up because of my CQ shift. I had plans to go to a "mud festival", but those had to be tossed. When I finished my shift at 0900, I took a shower and then went to sleep. I turned on my fan and put in my ear plugs. I slept until 1600, so most of the day was pretty much shot. I ended up going to the food court and eating lunch/dinner. I had plans of hanging out there a while with my laptop and using their internet to download a number of items, but the internet was down. I headed back to my room and watched some TV shows and doing SkillPorts between shows.

PFC Pickle called and wanted to meet up at the food court. I met him, but was still full from my big lunch…not too full to enjoy some ice cream though! We hung out for a bit, made some plans for Sunday and then went our separate ways. I went back to my room to do the usual…TV shows and SkillPorts.

Sunday: I woke up about 0830 and started laundry, then video chatted with my wife for a bit. After my laundry was done, I met up with PFC Pickle at the food court for lunch. After that we headed off to the National Museum of Korea. This is a huge building that we can see from post as it sits right on one of the edges of the south end of the Yongsan Garrison. We ended up taking a taxi to it because we weren't sure the best way to get to it. It was also extremely hot and humid out, so riding in an air conditioned taxi was a nice break from that.

The museum is free which is always nice, and it is huge! It had a number of pieces from early history in Korea. I found out that it is actually the 6th largest museum in the world in terms of floor space. It was pretty interesting checking everything out and when we finished there was a Korean folk dance performance going on. We checked that out for a bit before heading off to Itaewon. I had some shopping to do before I go on leave. We started walking, but because we weren't exactly sure how to get there and because of the heat we decided to hail a taxi.

Once in Itaewon I bought some souvenirs and we headed back to my room to drop it all off. We then grabbed some ice cream at the food court before heading to the theatre to see "Horrible Bosses". What a funny show!! I was laughing out loud and actually spit out my water at one point. It's a comedy about three friends who each hate their bosses and decide to kill them.

When I got back to my room I poured an entire bottle of Drano in my sink. It has never worked quite right since the "snake incident" a few weeks back. It randomly fills up with water and is always slow to drain. Every morning after I shave the sink will almost fill up and overflow. It then slowly drains away only to fill up and random points in the day. When this happens it brings back up the shavings from my face and then leaves them all over the sink. So it's been a pain in the butt to try and keep clean. After the "snake incident" I don't want to call building maintenance and have them try to fix it. The Drano seems to have done the job, I guess time will tell.

After another shower to wash away all the stickiness from the hot and humid day, I'll be going to sleep.

Hanging out at the National Museum of Korea

Me and Buddha at the National Museum of Korea
Me and Buddha at the National Museum of Korea

The Korean folk dancers at the National Museum of Korea

Friday, July 15, 2011

CQ - (Korea) Day 228

My workstation during my brief appointment as cashier at the DFAC.
I was manning the "Main Line" and the touch screen was how I input all the info.

Work call this morning was at 0700. The thing about roommates is that they share the same room with you. My roommate is a pretty cool guy and very nice, he just stays up late every single night. He usually doesn't get up before me, but in today's case he did. I have a fan going and I have my headphones in playing "white noise". I also wear my PT beanie over my head to cover my eyes to keep out the light from his desk lamp. Some nights are better than others, but I would guess I lose a good hour to two of sleep each night because of my roommate. I am looking forward to leaving the barracks life once I leave Korea.

Back to the rest of the day…I arrived at the office and we setup for a meeting down in the secret conference room. It was going to be the first meeting of the new commander and there were some last minute changes of course. We finally got everything setup and fixed a couple of misspelled name blocks. Then as we were getting ready to leave a marine officer came over and said "so…what would it take to get coffee for the head table?" I was thinking to myself, well sir…it would take some advanced warning, unless you want me to pull it out of my ass. Another army officer came over and said "It will only take them going up stairs and getting it". This set off a chain of crazy events. Our office including CPT Hooah!, our NCOIC, our sergeant and all the junior soldiers had to start scrambling getting all the coffee, water crafts and everything that goes with a full setup from our office which is four flights of stairs above this secret conference room. With everyone helping we were able to get it all down there, but it looked like crap when it was all setup and we were doing the setup around the generals who were already sitting at the head table. We were able to finish before the commander ended up coming though, which I was very surprised.

I then had to pull more secretary duty for my NCOIC making a lot of calls to see if people were going to come to another meeting. I really dislike doing that. As I was heading down to bring an updated list to my NCOIC, CPT Hooah! sees me and tells me to follow him because we may have to call "stand by" for a meeting. I ended up sitting with him near the secret conference room for about a half hour doing nothing except trying not to fall asleep.

I finally headed to lunch and video chatted with my wife for a bit before heading back to the office. I was able to finish one SkillPort before being handed another call list that I had to do. I know I would never want to be a telemarketer. I had to leave at 1500 and head to our company headquarters for a CQ brief. I have CQ tonight starting at 1630 until 0900 tomorrow morning. After the brief, I headed to the shoppette to pick up some supplies for my shift (drinks, beef jerky, etc). I then went back to my room for a small rest before heading to the DFAC. Something new they have added to our shift is being the cashier in the DFAC for dinner. Very strange, they would have just random people come in and do this every single day. A worker trained me on the system for about 5 minutes and then turned me loose. Not too hard, just enter in what service they are and have them enter their social security number. Only a few folks actually paid money. I then actually ate at the DFAC once the shift was over and they locked the doors. The food was much better than my previous experience at the old DFAC. It was also nice doing something other than just sitting at a desk staring at a wall for CQ.

CQ consists of mostly sitting at a small desk staring at a wall. I had to take inventory of everything in the day rooms for our barracks to make sure nothing is missing. We are also supposed to do a "security check" once an hour, which is basically doing a walk around and through the barracks to make sure all is well. I had my laptop at the desk, so I was able to watch a number of TV shows, do some SkillPorts, watch "Sniper: Reloaded" which is the 4th movie in the "Sniper" series. It wasn't too bad, of course I wasn't expecting much. I also listened to a number of podcast episodes that some old co-workers make “Tales From The SpacePod”. They are pretty funny, it's good to hear voices of friends that I haven't heard in a long time.

It's a long shift and goes until 0900 on Saturday. I ended up not drinking any coffee or Mountain Dew because I thought I would make it just fine, but at some point around 0600 I dozed off for a bit. At one point I was watching CSI, then the next thing I know my screen saver was on and the show was over. That little nap gave me what I needed to last the rest of the morning, I was able to video chat with my wife a few times throughout the night and I was even able to talk to my branch manager about my next assignment. Because of the time difference there is never a really good time to call, and every other time I've tried all I get is a busy signal or no answer. Since I had all night during my CQ shift, I thought this would be a great time to try. Surprisingly the guy was very nice and gave me my next assignment. He said he would be putting through a waiver, but that it should all show up on my ASK (Assignment Satisfaction Key) on the AKO website sometime next week. I'm not going to mention it to many people until I actually see it under my assignments on the web. I know things can change and I don't want to get too excited yet. I'm not even going to mention it on here yet….

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The NCOIC’s Bitch - (Korea) Day 227

A quick snap shot I took of the VIP staging area (formerly known as the racquet ball court)
complete with leather couches and plants

Work call this morning was at 0730. We setup for a KUB in our conference room and then our KATUSA, me and our NCOIC took off to the big gym on post "Collier Field House" to help setup for the commander's change of command ceremony. The ceremony was originally scheduled to be on Knight Field which is right outside our office, but because of the weather it was moved inside. I helped place some brochures on the seats and duct tape down some cables on the floor…pretty minor stuff. Our army major then wanted me backstage near the VIP staging area where they had a laptop and portable projector setup just in case there were any technical difficulties.

As I was standing around there were so many generals walking around it was crazy. They all had a personal security detail as well, so there were all these guys walking around in suits with ear pieces in, it looked like a secret service convention or something. The incoming General came in and saw me standing along his path to the VIP staging area. He stopped and shook my hand and asked where I was from. He could tell I was a little nervous, because it took me a moment to speak. I wasn't ready for him to stop and talk to me, everyone else just walked by and ignored me! He said he's just a soldier too like me…lol. Seems like a pretty down to earth guy.

Once the ceremony started I headed out and we made a pit-stop at Starbucks where our NCOIC treated me and our KATUSA to some much needed caffeine. Once back at the office I did one SkillPort before my NCOIC asked me to finish up on all the phone calls I started yesterday. As I was doing that Our KATUSA and SPC Mick headed back to Collier Field House to help clean up. When they came back they were with our army major who bought some pizza for us all. That was a nice gesture because we have all been pretty busy with this change of command and it all went very smooth.

After pizza I made many more phone calls. This is basically what the action officers do in our office. They make a lot of phone calls to verify who is attending certain meetings so they can prepare the correct seating charts. I'm guessing my NCOIC doesn't care for doing this because she's passing it all off on me. I finally finished and gave her a detailed report of who was attending and who I just couldn't get on the phone.

I then continued on my army SSDL1 module 3 and finally finish it. I now only have one more module to go. I was hoping to get it done this week, but it doesn't look like that will be happening…maybe next week before I go on leave.

My NCOIC called me down to her desk and then I get handed another sheet of paper full of names for a different meeting at a later date. Another project to start tomorrow. My sergeant also gave me his list of inventory items he hasn't been able to find yet and asked me to see what I could find. We had a meeting going on in our conference room, so I couldn't do much. The meeting lasted until about 1720 then we cleaned up and left for the day. Looks like I already have a lot to do in the morning.

I eat dinner in my room and watch some TV shows as usual, except I make sure to do at least a SkillPort between each show.

A VIP arriving via helicopter to the Change of Command ceremony

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scavenger Hunting - (Korea) Day 226

Work call this morning was at 0830. We setup for the normal Wednesday meeting in the secret conference room and I ran the slideshows as normal on the regular and secret computer. Everything went smoothly…no complaints. After the meeting I ran over to the tech center to pick up The Big Dog's blackberry. Unfortunately they could not get it setup for him because there was a hardware issue. Special K and I took the office car and turned in the blackberry to the cell phone service place which is right outside of one of the gates.

By the time that was over, it was time for lunch so I had Special K drop me off at my room. I ate lunch and video chatted with my wife…always a nice treat! When I headed back to the office I started the army SSDL1 training and had visions of finishing module 3, but I was interrupted quite a bit. First it was my sergeant trying to find more stuff to check off his inventory list. That can be pretty difficult at times because of the limited descriptions and such. It's kind of like a scavenger hunt around the office and conference control room.

After that our NCOIC came up and asked what I was doing. When I told her training she said "good, then you can stop that and help me do this." Needless to say I never finished my training for module 3. Instead I spent the rest of the day calling different offices asking if people were going to attend a meeting this Friday. Some were wondering why I was calling because they already RSVP'd and others were happy to be invited. I made it about a quarter of the way through the list and will have to pick up where I left off tomorrow. We cleaned up and found out we'll be doing some prep work for the big change of command ceremony tomorrow. This is for the commander of US Forces Korea…the head guy!

I headed to my room and did the usual…ate dinner, watched TV shows and did 3 SkillPorts. I didn't get a chance to do any of those while at work today.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Driving The Big Dog - (Korea) Day 225

Special K checking out his car after getting high centered while my sergeant is
looking at me wondering why I'm taking By the way...that is The
Dragon Hill Lodge in the background...the hotel here on post.

Woke up and got ready for our "rain pt" this morning, but when we showed up Special K got a call from our sergeant saying that his ankle was sore. No pt this morning…lol. I headed back to my room and started getting ready for the day.

Work call this morning was at 0830, but before I headed back to work I got a call from Special K. Evidently he went to The Dragon Hill Lodge to go work out and when he left his windows in his car were pretty foggy. I'm not sure how he did it, but he ended up driving in the exit of the Popeye's drive through and then jumping the concrete divider between it and the parking lot. It ended up popping his front tire and his car was high centered on the divider. Holy Cow!

I ended up getting the office car and heading down to give him a hand. Our sergeant was already there and the rain was pouring down. There wasn't much we could do, so he had to call a tow truck. The tow truck came, hooked up a rope and drug his car off the divider. He then said "that will be $50". Special K had him put on the spare tire since he had all the equipment right there (that cost an extra $10). What a great way to start the day.

I headed back to the office and planned to do SkillPorts as usual, but instead I was asked to drive The Big Dog around. He had to run a bunch of errands and because of the rain, he didn't want to walk around post. I don't blame him, it was really coming down! I drove him all over the post until about lunch time. I went to lunch with Special K at the KATUSA snack bar. Let me recommend if you're ever at Yongsan to check out one of these for lunch. It's good and it's cheap…I love it!

When we got back, we setup for a meeting in the secret conference room. There was some minor last minute drama when we found out the new general will be attending as well. Special K and SPC Mick ran down to shuffle name tags around accordingly. I did my part and held the door open for when they came down.

I then did some more of the army SSDL1 training and made it about half way through the 3rd module. After that I did a couple SkillPorts, I think that is an all time low for me during a work day! By this time it was about time to go. We cleaned up and left the office.

I ate in my room and watched some TV shows. My class is now over, so I'll be taking a little break. I did however do a couple more SkillPorts instead of class. I think I may be coming a little obsessed.

If it wasn't bad enough, Special K had to hold the tow truck driver's umbrella for
him while he

the wife

Your photos are had me cracking up!!! Special K really did a number on that one... and I wouldn't call it obsessed, just determined. Love you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 11:36 PM


Yeah the whole thing had me cracking up too! :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 09:56 PM

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Big Dog - (Korea) Day 224

Work call this morning was at 0830. First thing in the morning I got called into our new colonel's office to meet him and help him get setup on his computer for the first time. He's quite a bit older than I was expecting. (I'll call him the big dog). Once he was setup I turned him loose and headed up to my office and did SkillPorts as usual. Since it's the first day of the work week I checked my status once again with my promotion points.

Military Education:

Max 260 Points

Army Correspondence Course Program (ACCP): 537 Hours - 107 Points

So I'm almost half way there. Once I finish this class I'm doing, I'll be taking a short break before my next class. I will not start my next class until after I come back from leave. During this period I plan on doing even more SkillPorts in my room during the time I'd normally use for schoolwork. I want to max this out, so I don't have to worry about it any more.

I check my email daily for word from my branch manager to see where my next assignment is. I have that same feeling of anticipation that I had back in AIT before I knew I was coming to Korea. I am excited and scared at the same time. I am hoping I'll get sent somewhere I'll like, but not knowing is stressful.

I got a call from my roommate once again today asking if I can come back early for lunch, he doesn't have his room key. The funny thing was that I asked him if he had it this morning, he said he did…but it turned out to be the wrong key! I may have to duct tape it to him or something pretty soon. I ate lunch and video chatted with my wife.

When I arrived back at the office, I went to our conference room to setup for another farewell ceremony for the general. Once that was finished, I worked on the army SSDL1 training. I was able to finish module 2, so I have 2 more to go. I'd like to finish that this week if possible. The sergeants came up (our sergeant and our NCOIC) and were checking off inventory. Our sergeant had signed a hand receipt for a lot of the equipment in the conference room and our NCOIC will be signing for it all before he leaves. As any wise person will do, they check all the equipment and serial numbers to make sure everything that is on the receipt is actually there. I helped them find a few things, with the limited descriptions it can be a bit tough, but we found everything they were looking for.

By this time it was getting pretty late. I updated the upcoming events calendar and we all took off. That was after our sergeant said we needed to do some good training tomorrow morning. This means we'll be going for another ruck march. Special K said that it will be raining and our sergeant said "if it ain't raining…it ain't training". He then called it "rain pt", so we'll be getting a little wet tomorrow it seems.

The rest of the night was full of the usual…schoolwork and then TV shows.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 222-223

A view of Seoul from Walker Hill Resort Casino

Saturday: I slept in until about 0930 and then video chatted with my wife and son for a while. I then did a SkillPort. I'm trying to do at least one a day, and many more if I get the chance. I then headed off to the Dragon Hill Lodge here on post. I was going to reserve a hotel room for a ROK buddy of mine, but all the rooms were full. My ROK buddy works in our ROK sister office and is currently serving his two years of mandatory service. His fiancĂ© came up to visit and we had lunch…a very nice and cute couple.

I headed back to my room and took a nap. I don't know what it is lately, but I've been needing naps on a daily basis! After waking up I met up with PFC Pickle and we went to the theatre on post to watch Transformers 3. Even though I had already seen it, he didn't want to go alone and I thought it was good enough to see twice. We then went to the food court to eat dinner and have desert. I ate so much ice cream I thought my stomach was about to burst. I waddled back to my room and did some schoolwork before ending the night with some TV shows.

Sunday: I video chatted with my wife and did my laundry. I then worked on schoolwork before heading to lunch with the young hawaiian. We ate at the food court and then met up with an officer he works with. We all headed off to Walker Hill Casino to play in the free poker tournament. My first bet was "all in", I was either going to double my money or be taken out…I was taken out unfortunately. I had an Ace/King, but a guy with a pair of tens beat me. The young hawaiian and his officer fared better placing 9th and 10th, but you have to be in the top five to win the $100 each. Oh well, we had fun and it didn't cost anything.

We then headed to a nearby mall to have some dinner. Because everything is in Korean we are used to seeing a picture and pointing at it to order. This particular restaurant didn't have pictures on the menu, the only pictures they had were outside of the restaurant (which is what drew us in). Our waitress followed us outside and we each pointed to a dish we wanted…lol. The food was great! I love the fact that there are so many places to eat in Korea that don't cost more than $10. This dinner was only $5.50 and it was both filling and tasted great. Another perk is that you do not "tip" in Korea. So when something costs $5.50, that is all you pay. I'm going to miss that.

We then headed back to post via the subway. Another great benefit of living in Seoul Korea, the subway can get you pretty much anywhere and it's very cheap! When I got back to my room I kicked back, relaxed and I'm sure you can guess…..watched some TV shows.

The young hawaiian playing in the poker tournament long after I was knocked out

This is a street vendor selling pirated DVDs. They sell 'em really cheap and have all
the current hits playing in the theatre. The quality isn't very great, but still watchable.
It's crazy how this is just normal here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

It Takes A Strong Finger - (Korea) Day 221

Another one of those signs that just don't sound right after being translated

Work call this morning was at 0730. We setup for a KUB in our conference room. After the KUB the same set of people continued for an all day meeting. SPC Mick and I were chosen to be the designated slide flippers for the day. SPC Mick took the first shift until lunch and I did SkillPorts on my computer. I left a bit early for lunch and video chatted with my wife for a bit before heading back to the office.

When I got back I made sure everything was ready to go for the second half of the day's meeting. I flipped slides which is a fairly boring process. You can't really have the TV on because you have to listen for the presenter to say "next slide", at this point I had to click the down arrow on the computer. This was my job for the rest of the day. My finger got quite the workout!

The meeting ended a little before 1700 and we cleaned up the conference room and shut everything down. After that we headed down and cleaned up the office. We gathered for our weekend safety briefing. Our sergeant at one point asked SPC Mick what his job was. When SPC Mick replied that he was an "Operations Specialist" our sergeant told him to get down and start doing some push-ups. I guess our sergeant was asking what his MOS was (42A Human Resources). Everyone in the office is a 42A except me. Our sergeant then asked Special K if he had enrolled in school yet, as soon as he started saying an excuse our sergeant told him to get down and "beat your face" (push-ups). I got off easy this time.

We left and I took a nap as soon as I got to my room. I don't know what it is, but I have no energy lately after work. After the nap, I did my schoolwork and then relaxed and watched some TV shows. A pretty laid back Friday night.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just Say No to Bath Salts - (Korea) Day 220

The group shot of our SCJS offices from the farewell meeting yesterday

Work call this morning was at 0730. We had to setup for another farewell ceremony for the general to say goodbye to another office. Once we were all setup I got a call from my roommate. He locked himself out of our room yet again. Luckily I could leave and let him back in, but when I arrived at our room he was nowhere to be found. What to do? I did the only thing I could think of, walk to the food court and grab some coffee from Starbucks. I headed back to the room for one last check and he was there this time. Evidently he didn't think I would be as fast as I was. I let him in and then headed back to the office and started on some SkillPorts.

After a bit I had to head out and be a traffic controller for a change of command ceremony for a marine general. It seems everyone is leaving around this time of year! My job was to make sure no cars came and tried to enter through the exit, while SPC Mick stood guard on the entrance side and made sure nobody except a general drove through the entrance (we can't really stop them).

After the ceremony I headed back to do some more SkillPorts, but was informed that me, SPC Mick and Special K had to attend some "Spice Training". It was scheduled at noon, so we had to hurry up and eat and then take off to the training. We ate at the food court and then drove to the "training center" on post. (The training center is actually the movie theatre, but it's day job is the training center).

It turns out it was not exactly "Spice Training", but substance abuse training. We got to hear all kinds of actual stories that have happened to soldiers here in Korea while under the influence of some sort of drug or alcohol. The interesting thing is that the instructor gave examples from people across all ranks from full bird colonels to privates. Everything from death to rape has happened. We also went over all the different things that people are doing to get high these days. It amazes me the stuff people try to get high. The latest is bath salts. I guess they grind them up and then snort it. I wonder who are the first people to think up something like that? Just sitting around the house bored, then you see some bath salt and decide to grind it up and snort it….WTF? Crazy people out there.

We headed back to the office and I worked on my SSDL1 training that I started last week. I have finished module 1 and am now working on module 2. There are 4 total and when I finish I should get 80 hours training credit as well as a certificate. It states that soldiers are now required to do this before heading to WLC (warrior leader course), so I'll be ahead of the curve.

We cleaned up and were ready to go, but had to wait for Special K to finish framing a joint unit meritorious award. I guess our unit received one for the period of 2008-2010. Part of the job of our office is framing all the awards that come through and this is something that Special K and our KATUSA do, so you can say we even do arts and crafts in the army. I checked into it and it looks like I might be able to get an extra ribbon because of this unit award because I arrived at the last part of 2010. I'll be checking into this a little more to find out for sure.

I headed back to my room and did schoolwork before settling down and watching TV shows. I finally finished watching Spartacus. What an awesome TV show, now I want the next season to start…and soon!!

Me receiving my coin from the general during the farewell meeting yesterday

Change of command ceremony for the marine general

A volunteer trying to pass a sobriety test with special "drunk" goggles on.
She fell over at one

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4-Star Farewell - (Korea) Day 219

The front and back of the 4-Star General's coin I received during the farewell ceremony

Work call this morning was at 0830. We setup for our normal Wednesday meeting in the secret conference room, but we didn't actually have to run it or attend. We had our own meeting we had to setup and prepare for. The commander of USFK, the four star general had a meeting scheduled to say farewell to our office. It was quick and short, he gave out some coins first and at the last second I found out I was going to get one. Very cool! Now I have a four star general's coin. Our KATUSA also got one which was well deserved, he works his butt off. The General then said a few words and we all took our picture with him. A short and sweet meeting.

We then cleaned up both our conference room and then later on the secret conference room. I received a list of openings for my job position from my NCOIC. I then sent an email to my branch manager requesting some of the cooler locations. I should be finding out pretty soon where I'll be heading. I would think that if I request a place that has an opening at the time I'm leaving Korea, that it would be a no brainer. I'm actually making the branch manager's job easier right? LOL…I guess we'll see where they think I belong "based on the needs of the army".

I then did SkillPorts until lunch time. I figured I would give a status update on my progress each week. Since this is the first day of the work week, it will be a Wednesday this time. Here is what my promotion point worksheet shows for Military Education:

Max 260 Points:

Army Correspondence Course Program (ACCP): 472 Hours = 94 Points

Slowly getting closer. I got a call at 1130 from my roommate, he locked himself out of our room and asked if I could take lunch early and let him in…no problem. I headed out and had lunch in my room while video chatting with my wife. When I headed back to the office I did the army SSD  Level 1 computer based training. This is the other training I found last week that I'm checking out. I finished the first module today. When I finish all the modules it's supposed to be worth 80 hours. I think I also get a certificate as well. We'll see.

I helped out Seaman bring in all the mail. Because of the holiday weekend he had the entire car filled with boxes! We had to make a few trips back and forth to get them all in with help from our KATUSA and SPC Mick. We then cleaned up and left at 1700 today.

Back in my room I ate dinner and watched TV shows. I then heard from my roommate that he broke up with his American girlfriend. It's probably for the better based on what I've heard so far with their relationship, but he's still pretty bummed. So bummed in fact that he had a few friends over to console him for quite a while. Even our KATUSA heard about it and came over "to feel bad for him".

Another day over…another day closer to going home. Now I'm going to sleep. I bought a fan that I placed next to my bed for the noise at night. Last night I slept with that on and my "white noise" from my iPhone playing. It worked out great…I didn't hear anything and slept like a rock.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up (4-Day) - (Korea) Days 215-218

The Doosan Bears vs LG Twins baseball game in Seoul

Saturday: Woke up at 0830 to video chat with my wife for a bit before playing basketball with the ROK soldiers again. SPC Roy joined us and we ended up playing 3 on 3. A good workout, and even though we didn't keep score I think we won! I then headed back to my room to video chat some more with my wife.

I then spent a large part of the day doing schoolwork as Saturday is when I have the most time to do so. I then met up with PFC Pickle and we headed to the hotel on post (The Dragon Hill Lodge). We met up with the air force master sergeant from my office as well as my NCOIC to catch a bus to a Korean professional baseball game here in Seoul. It was the Doosan Bears vs the LG Twins. The game was a little unique in the fact that I believe both teams share the stadium. The fans were divided with the Twins fans on one side of the stadium and the Bears fans on the other. Chants and songs would go back and forth throughout the game. Even though I'm not a huge baseball fan, this was a great experience, I was impressed with how crazy all the fans were! Lots of fun was had by all.

We took the bus back and ended up eating dinner at The Dragon Hill Lodge. We walked out just in time to see the fireworks show the post was putting on for the independence day celebration. After the show we headed back to our rooms and called it a night.

At the baseball game: My NCOIC, Me, & PFC Pickle

They know how to serve beer at the baseball game here in Korea. Strap a
keg on the back of a vendor and turn 'em loose

Sunday: I woke up at 0830 and headed to PFC Pickle's room with a pit-stop at Starbucks before hand. We watched the UFC event in his room. It was a great card with a lot of good fights! The rain was non-stop on the way to his room. Even though I had an umbrella I still ended up getting pretty wet. I had to borrow his umbrella again for the walk back to my room. I'm getting a little tired of this rain. People think I should be used to it coming from the Seattle area, but at least there I had a car to protect me from the rain. Here I walk pretty much everywhere I go.

When I got back to my room I video chatted with my wife for a bit before watching some TV shows and then doing some schoolwork. I headed over to the PX and got my haircut. It was a slow day at the salon and my barber started attacking every hair in sight. Not only did she shave my head, she cut the hair coming out of my ears, trimmed my eyebrows, my neck hairs, and even my nose hairs. This lady was dedicated!

I finished off the night with some more TV shows and some SkillPorts.

Monday: I woke up at about 0700. I video chatted for a bit with my wife before being picked up by SPC Roy. We headed to the iPark Mall and met up with the army major and his wife from my office as well as the air force master sergeant and my NCOIC. The army major had purchased tickets in advanced with reserved seating for Transformers 3 in 4-D. Watching a movie in 4-D brings a movie to a whole new level. The seats move, you smell different scents, you feel wind blowing and also get the occasional spray in the face during a wet scene. It was a lot of fun and the movie was great…much better than Transformers 2.

After the movie SPC Roy and I took off and headed back to the post to catch a taxi. SPC Roy's sister-in-law bought him a Thai massage and he wanted me to go with him. So we went once again to have a "couple's massage" (really…we're not gay!) I've never had a Thai massage before, I was just expecting something similar to the normal massages I've had before. I was in for a bit of a surprise. We both slipped into the provided shorts and t-shirt and headed to a room where we both laid on the floor. Two older women came in and started stretching our legs in all different directions. We were massaged, stretched, and walked on for two hours. You could hear both of us at times groaning as some parts were a bit painful. Both of us had to stop the old ladies at times to tell them to stop cause it was too much pain to bear. Afterwards we both felt like jello. The massage wasn't a relaxing massage, but I can say that I felt pretty good afterwards.

We then headed to have dinner which ended up being some boiled pork and kimchi. Since SPC Roy bought dinner, I told him I'd get us dessert. He chose Cold Stone, so we headed to Itaewon and enjoyed some ice cream. It's been a long time since I had Cold Stone…I savored every bite. He then dropped me off at my room where I passed out. I took a two hour nap before getting up and doing some schoolwork, then watching some TV shows. I also did a SkillPort or two between shows just to get in a few for the day.

Tuesday: Today I finally got a chance to sleep in as long as I wanted to, and I took advantage of it. I slept in until 1000! I then video chatted with my wife for a while before meeting up with SPC Roy once again. His wife heard how good the movie was yesterday and wanted to go, so SPC Roy was left watching his kid alone and wanted company. We hung out and waited for her to finish, then ate lunch together at the food court. After that I headed back to my room and took a nap. I think my body was still pretty relaxed from the crazy massage yesterday. After the nap I met up with SPC Roy once again to run an errand with him. We dropped off a laptop at his uncle's company and then went to a Costco. Unfortunately we took the subway there because SPC Roy was afraid of all the traffic, so I didn't buy anything.

We ended up eating at one of his favorite restaurants nearby having "beef and leaf". A very popular dish that I just love here in Korea. You cook the meat at the table and wrap it up in a lettuce wrap along with some spices and eat it. Of course we had to have some soju with dinner. I found just how well cider chases down soju! After dinner we took a taxi back to post and I headed back to my room. I did my schoolwork and only one SkillPort.

It was a pretty good weekend!