Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hyundai Friendship Tour - (Korea) Days 303 - 305


Me hanging out at Daewangnam Park

I signed up for a trip offered by Hyundai that arrived in my email box about a month ago. Our colonel told us it was a great tour, so of course I signed up right away. I would of even without his endorsement because it was three days off work and all expenses were paid by Hyundai. Not only this, but I love getting out and seeing the country of Korea whenever I get the chance, I doubt I'll ever have the chance to come back here and I want to experience everything I can while I'm here. Our NCOIC was going to go as well, but something came up and she was unable to attend. Surprisingly SPC Mick was the only other person from our office that signed up, but he was not the only person I would know on the trip, the young hawaiian also was able to sign up through his unit.

Day 1: The first day (Wednesday) started off with us having to arrive at Collier Fitness Center at 0700. There was a little confusion about this since different emails and different attachments all said various times from 0700 to 0730, so we played it safe and arrived at 0700. The young hawaiian met with me and SPC Mick outside our barracks and then we went down to the office and had Special K drive us all to Collier since it's on the other side of the base.

Turns out we could have been a lot later as we waited for quite a while before they had everyone go inside and then start the briefing. We were assigned bus numbers according to the units we came from. There were 6 buses all together taking about 160 military personal from all over Korea for this event. Unfortunately the young hawaiian had to ride on another bus. The buses were very nice which I'm grateful because the first leg of the trip was about 4 hours. They only had three seats across and each seat had plenty of room both width and for your legs. We were served boxed subway lunches for breakfast, but I didn't care. By this point I was starving and I scarfed it down.

We stopped and had lunch on the second floor of a Korean restaurant, then boarded the bus again heading for the city of Ulsan where Hyundai is located. We arrived at Hyundai Motor Company and were given a short video presentation and then a tour both outside the factory by bus, then inside where they make the cars. This was pretty impressive seeing just sheets of metal getting eventually turned into fully functional cars. We then headed over to Hyundai Heavy Industries and were also shown a short video before getting a tour of their shipyard on our bus. They are the number one ship builder in the world and build gigantic ships at this place. It was all very impressive.

We then ate dinner at a very nice hotel (Lotte World) complete with ice sculpture and a short hard to understand speech by the CEO of Hyundai. Basically he was thanking us for serving and they wanted to do what they can to help strengthen the alliance. We then headed back to the hotel we would be staying at which of course was The Hyundai Hotel…lol.

I think they purposely had us stay at this place because there is no nightlife whatsoever. The young hawaiian, SPC Mick, and I all headed out to see what we could find. There was absolutely nothing! We ended up at a tiny hole in the wall bar and had a couple drinks and played darts.
It did sprinkle at one point and we were all given blue raincoats.
This was near the Seokguram Grotto at Mt. Tohamsan

When feeding so many people, we took up the entire floor of this Korean restaurant.

The peaceful park that housed Cheonmachong Tomb
Lots of buddhas at the Gyeongju National Museum
Day 2: We had a buffet breakfast in the hotel and headed out to Gyeongju city. We first visited the beautiful Daewangam Park where we could go out and look around at the picturesque view of the ocean, rocks, and lighthouse.  From there we headed to the Bulguksa Temple and Sokguram Grotto. This is a buddhist temple which was built in 751 A.D. We then headed to another Korean lunch, then off to the National Museum of Gyeongju.

After that we headed to Cheonmachong Tomb which were mainly big mounds of earth that kings and noble folks were buried back in the day. We were able to enter one and look at some of the stuff they found in there. The entire park is quite nice and peaceful. The last stop of the day was Anapji Pond which was a man made pond built for an old king from the Silla period in Korea. The interesting thing about this place as we were walking around the pond (which was pretty huge by the way), was that there were students in their little uniforms everywhere. Most of these students were perched upon rocks with pads or books. They looked like they could have been a bunch of artists drawing pictures of the place, but I think they were just there studying.

Back to the hotel we had a buffet dinner and then were free for the rest of the night. The young hawaiian and I headed out in search of something in the opposite direction this time. We didn't find much though, pretty much the same except instead of playing darts in a deserted bar…we played pool.

Day 3: Our last day of the tour. We checked out and returned our keys, then had breakfast at another buffet setup for us at the hotel. We took the long bus ride to pyeongtaek naval base. This is a ROK naval base and it houses their salvaged ship "The Cheonan" which was sunk by a North Korean submarine torpedo. We had lunch right outside of the base and then went in and were able to see the ship.

We then headed to Suwon City and toured the Hwaseong Fortress. Part of this tour included getting to shoot a bow and arrow…lol. It was very similar to the palace in Seoul. We then took off and had dinner at another Korean restaurant and finally headed back to Yongsan.

The tour was pretty awesome. It was packed full of all kinds of modern and historical information all about Korea. I'm very grateful for the experience and I thank Hyundai very much for everything they did for us during the trip. It was great!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

USO Surprise - (Korea) Day 302


SPC Mick after receiving his birthday cake from the USO

I had a dentist appointment this morning at 0830. It was only a cleaning, but it was nice to not have to wake up and go in for the early 0730 work call that everyone else had to do. The dentist was a little rough, but still bearable. I'm glad I don't have to go again for a while now.

I arrived at work and did my morning routine of checking my email and such, but was interrupted a few times to do minor things for various people. That seemed to set the tone for the entire day. It seemed like anytime I started anything I was called away to do something else. I tried working on a Windows 7 SkillPort, but couldn't even finish one section the entire day.

I had lunch in my room and video chatted with my wife, then headed back to the office a little early to make sure our conference room was setup for a "brief" from our colonel. This meeting had been setup for a while. Most of the folks knew it wasn't actually a brief, but a surprise for SPC Mick. His parents had worked with the USO here in Korea to help celebrate his birthday. The USO worked with our NCOIC to get everything worked out in advance. Once the conference room was ready, our office, our supply office, a couple from protocol, and our admin office all showed up for the "brief". When the colonel came in he said there would be a special guest speaker…and then came in the USO with a huge cake, balloons, and a bag of USO swag for SPC Mick. He was called up front and everyone sang happy birthday to him. It was pretty funny…especially since he had no clue what was going on until they walked in. What's funny is that the red, white and blue cake turned everyone's mouth and teeth either red, white or blue.

When we finally got back to working, the afternoon went just like the morning. It seemed like I could not get anything done. I started training PV2 Charlie on how to update the events calendar and it must have taken 2 hours because one of us kept getting calls to do something. Everyone except for me and Special K cleaned up and left at 1600. I stayed back and helped Special K study for his promotion board until about 1700.

When I got to my room I ended up not working out…somehow just lost my motivation. I instead went to the food court and ate Taco Bell volcano tacos. I then watched Greys Anatomy & Survivor…I can't help it…I love that show. I then packed my assault pack for a tour I'll be on with the young hawaiian and SPC Mick for the rest of the week. Hyundai gives a couple of tours to soldiers each year and we were all able to get signed up for this one. I'm looking forward to getting out and having some fun away from work. This also means it will be a few days before I update the blog again. I'll be busy taking pictures and soaking in the culture…plus I'm not bringing my laptop.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hail, Farewell, Happy B-Day - (Korea) Day 301


Our colonel on the left presenting a plaque to our departing air force major.

Work call this morning was at 0730. We setup for a meeting and had the new guys do pretty much the entire setup while supervising. It's a pretty easy thing, they just have to do it a few times to get used to it. I then went to my office and checked my current promotion point status since it's the start of the week:

Military Education - 260 Maximum Points

Correspondence Course (Hours 1287) (Points 257)

OMG I'm only 3 points away from maxing it out! I thought after this last push I would have hit the limit. In fact I probably have hit the limit because it takes a couple days for the hours to update from SkillPort. Anyway I'm going to stop doing the normal SkillPorts and just focus on actually working through the Windows 7 SkillPorts. They will easily give me enough hours to max out the military education portion of my promotion points.

I then did some IMO work for the office. I pushed through some paperwork for the new KATUSA to get network access. Our NCOIC got a new CAC card since she was promoted, but that brings with it new certificates. This means she will not be able to open old emails that were digitally signed. I had to do a little research to find out how to download her old certificates as well, which I was able to do and make her happy…always a good thing to keep the boss happy.

Then all of a sudden SPC Mick is complaining that his computer will not start. I tell PV2 Charlie to go hold the power button down and make sure it's turned completely off. When I get over there I find that PV2 Charlie had completely broke the power button on the docking station somehow. Oh dear! Luckily we had another station in my office and we switched them out, then I was able to get his computer up and running.

By this time it was nearing lunch and we had to go to the food court and pick up an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. We then headed to the R&R Bar and Grill for lunch. Lunch was actually a "Hail & Farewell" for all the new folks and the air force major who is leaving. We then also celebrated everyone's birthdays for the month of September and ate the ice cream cake. I couldn't let any go to waste, so I had 3 servings…good stuff! After we were done eating Special K starts to tell me about the time he worked security at a hotel. He said there were a lot of old people there and they paid rent on a monthly basis. He said they would be up at all hours of the night because they didn't seem to sleep much, so he would always chat with them from time to time. One night he walks down the hall and smells something pretty bad. He ends up finding out who's room it is and none of the old folks had seen this guy for a while. So Special K goes in the room and finds the guy flat out dead on the floor. He said the smell was pretty bad and started describing all the fluids and stuff that was coming out of his mouth. I was like whoa Special K…we just got done eating! Pretty gross stuff!

Back at the office we cleaned up from the earlier meeting and then I worked on our Major's PC for a while, but it can be difficult to do much because we can't download anything from the internet. He can't burn CDs and even though I think I could fix it, if I could download the latest drivers from the vendors website, I have to put in a help desk ticket and wait for them to do the job.

I then helped Special K study for the promotion board until it was time to go. Our NCOIC is going to try and get PV2 Charlie separate rations. I told her good luck, I remember all the crap that I had to go through to get that and how it took 6 months! I did give her copies of everything that I turned in with my packet, so she would know everything that was needed. Maybe he'll have better luck.

I left around 1630 and headed to my room to change, then headed to The Point and worked out. Once finished I headed back to my room and watched some of my recently obtained TV shows….Flashpoint & NCIS. Excited that the new seasons have started finally!!

As far as my status for leaving Korea goes...I don’t have any news yet. Since it’s still the weekend back in the states nothing has been done yet. My wife will be calling tomorrow and hopefully someone will answer and then we can get some answers. My freakout level has reached 7 on a scale of 10 being the highest.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 299 - 300


A look at paragliders from our group heading towards the landing area where we were waiting

Saturday: Woke up at 0640 so I could video chat with my wife for a bit before leaving for the paragliding tour I signed up for. I caught the bus at 0800 and we stopped by K-16 to pick up a couple more soldiers before heading to a place about an hour or so farther south. It's a small world…on the bus was a platoon sergeant of mine from AIT. She was just a total bitch back in AIT and I thought it may bring the whole trip down a bit..and she sat almost directly across from me…ughhhh.

When we arrived, we waited at the paragliding school for about a half hour and then paid our money. It turns out we can also purchase a movie for an extra $10. The tour guide loaned me the money since I only brought what they stated it cost. We then walked over to a field where all the landings would take place. A truck then started taking people up a mountain 3 people at a time. I was in the third group, so I got to see a few landings before heading up. There is a lot of waiting and anticipation because it takes about 15 minutes for them to drive the people up, and then about 10 to 15 minutes for each flight down.

While waiting the former AIT platoon sergeant started talking to me. Surprisingly she remembered who I was and asked where I ended up and what I'm doing. It's very strange, she was talking and smiling and actually very nice…a total 180 degrees from back in AIT. I guess even the NCOs hate the TRADOC environment. So now she turns out to be a nice person, who would've thought!

So it's my turn to head up and we all stuff into this truck and head up the mountain. We drive up on a narrow road that looks as though it's been washed out a few times. It feels like we're going on a four by four expedition. We just keep going up and up and I keep looking wondering if we're going to fall of the edge of this road or not, or if the truck is going to get stuck. Surprisingly we make it to the top and all unload. The chutes are all in the back and we all get strapped into our gear. We wear what turns out to be a seat (and butt cushion for the landing) that gets strapped to the professional that drives this paragliding contraption.

I hear a guy ask what I think is "Who's first time here", so I raise my hand. What he actually said was "Who wants to go first?". So before I realize what's going on I'm strapped to a guy and being told these important instructions "When we say go, start running and don't stop!" This is probably the scariest part because I'm at the top of the mountain and there is only a short distance to run before it falls off sharply. I'm wondering how long it takes for me to start gliding…am I going to end up not getting enough air…am I going to end up tumbling down this mountain with a Korean stuck to me???

Then the moment of truth arrives…I hear them say go! I start running but only get about two steps before I'm actually only running in place and not moving anywhere. Before I know it we are up in the air and gliding! The entire experience from this point on seems surreal. The view is awesome and you just hear the wind. It's just an awesome experience! We made our way around and during this time I was holding their camera on a rod that is connected to me with a safety strap. I'm taking video and then the instructor changes it to photo and we take a couple pictures. We then prepare to land and come in very smooth. The only thing I would change is I would take some motion sickness pills before hand. It wasn't bad, but it did take me a little while to stop being a little woosie.

Most landings for the day were smooth, but there was a couple semi-hard landings along with one that didn't even make it to the field, instead they landed on the bank before the field and then tumbled into the creek that ran below. The lady that was on it hobbled out and had a pretty bad twisted ankle, but that was the only injury for the day.

We then loaded the bus and ended back on post a little after 1600. We're told they will get in touch with us about the video and photos. Hopefully it turns out pretty good. I headed to my room and did laundry while watching an episode of Breaking Bad. I then took out PV2 Charlie to Itaewon just to walk around and people watch. He's under 21, so no drinking for him. He hadn't been off post yet and has been here two weeks. I felt pretty bad for him. PFC Pickle also came along just to get out and do something. We walked up and down the strip and then we also took him up one of the side streets to show him all the places that are off limits. These include a number of suspect establishments with scantily clad women at the doors trying to beckon you in. He assured us he will not be going back there. After a couple hours we head back to the rooms and call it a night.

The view from atop the mountain where we took off

People prepping the equipment for take-off


My former AIT platoon sergeant getting strapped in and ready to go.

My former AIT platoon sergeant holding the camera that is used while recording in-flight video

Sunday: I wake up around 0830, get ready, go to Starbucks, then head to PFC Pickle's room to watch UFC. It was a pretty good card with Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson as the main event. Jon Jones is a machine and has beat everyone he's come across with ease. As much as I like Rampage and hoped he would be different deep down I knew he would not win this fight unless he got a lucky punch in. Such was the case, Jon Jones picked Rampage apart and won the fight.

I then headed back to my room and video chatted with my wife for a while. After that it was an episode of Breaking Bad, then some work on a Windows 7 SkillPort. I also did a normal SkillPort just so I can add some more hours. I watched the new CSI and then headed to The Point to go work out with PFC Pickle. It was nice to get back to the gym after not going for a while. Since getting sick I stopped going so my body could rest and I could get better.

I ended the night by watching an old classic movie "Conan The Barbarian". I remember watching it many times as a kid and loving it. It was still fun to watch it once again after all these years.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taxi Driver - (Korea) Day 298

Work call this morning was 0830. Even though we "started" doing PT with the company every Friday 3 weeks ago, we have yet to do one. This morning our NCOIC had a dentist appointment that she had to go to and didn't want us to go the first time without her.

When I start work I find out I have my pinpoint orders. I received an email via AKO and found out I'll be going to USAG Baden-W├╝rttemberg which is in Heidelberg, Germany. This is about an hour south of Frankfurt, so still not too far away from where the generic orders stated. I don't know anything else yet about the place or my unit. I tried doing a search, but didn't come up with any results. My NCOIC is going to try and help me out next week.

I work on SkillPorts for a while before we setup for a meeting in the secret conference room. Since we have some new guys (my replacement and our KATUSA’s replacement - new KATUSA) we had them do most of the setup so they can get some practice. We'll probably have them keep doing this until they get comfortable and confident doing it on their own. They will also need to get a lot faster, our KATUSA and I had to end up helping them finish up before the meeting started. I then showed them the all important process of holding open the door for the general and then calling "stand-by".

After all that I headed up and worked on more SkillPorts before heading to lunch. Our KATUSA wanted me and our replacements all to have lunch together so we headed to the food court and had some Subway. I think the new guys will both be just fine once they get the hang of things.

Once back at work I acted as the office taxi driver. I drove our NCOIC, our KATUSA, SPC Mick, and Special K all to MedPros so we could all get the required flu shot. We have to get it even if we don't believe in it. MedPros also takes the opportunity to look up and give you any other shots you need anytime you visit them, so everyone else needed to get multiple shots…lol. Once we were done with that I dropped everyone off at the office and picked up the new guys. We dropped the KATUSAs off at 1RC for a badge and I took PV2 Charlie to turn in his old room key to housing.

Once back at the office I watched some TV in our control room before Special K came up and had me quiz him in preparation for the board. He will be going to the board to try and get promoted to sergeant soon. I started asking him questions from the flash cards obtained from armystudyguide.com. This is pretty much where they get all the questions for the board from.

We then cleaned up and had our weekend safety briefing. I headed to the room and ate dinner. Watched a couple shows (Breaking Bad & CSI: NY) and also worked on a Windows 7 SkillPort before calling it a night.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moving Chuck - (Korea) Day 297

Work call this morning was finally our normal time at 0830. I started the day doing a couple SkillPorts and then our NCOIC had a meeting with everyone. It was basically a group counseling session. Since we have new people in the office she wanted to get everyone together and go over some items. We discussed responsibilities for the various side tasks we do besides setting up and cleaning up meetings. We also went over everyone's status and if they had any questions. She wanted to start hearing from me daily on the status of my levy brief (the packet I need to turn in to get my orders). She also went over some basics like military bearing. Here in Korea and especially working where we work, it's easy to lose your military bearing. Stuff like just calling people by their last name and not standing at parade rest are a few. She would like us to start working on it. This means the new guys (since they are PV2) should be standing at parade rest when they talk to me…that is anytime it's not just us in the control room or something. Of course it goes the same for anyone talking to another person that is a higher rank.

We then headed out for lunch and I went to my room and video chatted with my wife. Shortly after coming back we attended a retirement ceremony for our admin master sergeant. She had been in the army for 29 years! The retirement ceremony was for both her and a colonel. The 8th army band and the honor guard all did their thing out on the field, then we heard a few speeches.

Once the ceremony was over I took PV2 Charlie to the housing office to see if he could get moved into our barracks. Luckily we got there when we did because there were only a few spots left and a number of people came in behind us. He was able to get our old supply KATUSA’s room which is just down the hall from me. He's all excited to have his own bathroom and refrigerator + microwave. We drove to his old room and loaded everything in the office car, then moved him into his new room. After that we headed to the cell phone store to get a free upgraded cell phone for our NCOIC.

Once back in the office we shut down our conference room and cleaned up the office. We left at 1700. I headed to my room and had dinner. Watched a couple shows (CSI: NY & CSI: Miami). I finally finished downloading the damaged episode of Breaking Bad, so I'll be able to start back up on that great series tomorrow. All the new seasons are starting, I'm all excited to start watching those as well. I'll be busy this weekend obtaining them all. I worked on a Windows 7 SkillPort and then did a normal one as well before calling it a night.

Status for leaving Korea: My wife is going to call Ft. Lewis tomorrow and see if she can get an ETA on the paperwork she needs. This will at least let us know about how long it's going to take them and it will let me inform my NCOIC on the status.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let There Be Light - (Korea) Day 296


The maintenance guys in my room fixing the lights...I know...there hasn't been a lot
to take pictures of lately.

Work call was at 0730 this morning. We arrived early to turn on the system and get our conference room ready for a meeting that was scheduled for 0800, but nobody ever showed up. Kind of sucks that we had to come in early for nothing. I ended up doing a couple SkillPorts and some required suicide prevention training. We then had to setup for our normal Wednesday meeting in the secret conference room. I showed PV2 Charlie how everything is setup and how to run the meeting. When it was finished we cleaned up and headed back to the office.

In the office I moved She Captain's profile from one computer to another as she wanted to move desks and work on the newly imaged computer I setup last week. She was a little surprised how fast the process was. Now she thinks I'm pretty awesome…lol.

We setup for another meeting and then headed out for lunch. I stayed in my room after lunch because maintenance said they would be at my room by 1330 to fix my lights. They were on time and came in the room. The next part was pretty funny…the guy looked at the lights, looked at the light switch, turned it off and on again, looked at the lights and then looked at the light switch, and again turned them on and off again. He did this whole process 4 times before saying he'd be right back. He came back with 4 long florescent lights to replace the bad ones on our room. Once the new ones were in, everything worked fine and there was a lot of light…light everywhere! I forgot how bright it used to get in here…lol.

I headed back to work and as I headed to our conference room, I ended up having to flip slides for a while before our KATUSA came in. His replacement arrived today and he has been training him for the job as well. I had him take over for me so I could give She Captain and PV2 Charlie a ride to 1RC, so they could get some required shots. When we got back we had a little ceremony for the outgoing supply KATUSA. A great guy who I thought was going to break down and cry when giving a short but sweet speech. He then shook our colonel's hand and then gave him a hug which I think shocked the colonel a bit. The supply KATUSA then went around the room giving everyone hugs. He'll be missed.

I then took off with PV2 Charlie to run some errands which included getting this months birthday cards for everyone. He has now been given the duty to pick out the cards and get them all signed before a party we're going to have on Monday. When we got back I updated the events calendar and then we took off a little after 1700. I headed back to my well lit room and ate dinner while trying to watch a Breaking Bad. Unfortunately this particular episode was not a good copy, it only had a few minutes worth…so I started obtaining a new copy fast! Instead I watched a CSI: NY & a CSI: Miami. I'm a few seasons behind on those, but all the new seasons are starting this week so I'm excited to start downloading them and watching them all. I then finished the first Windows 7 SkillPort as well as a regular SkillPort.

As far as my status for leaving Korea…my wife has finished her physical and we're still waiting on the army facility at Fort Lewis to process her overseas screening paperwork. I need this before I can turn in my packet to receive my orders. Once I receive my orders I'll be able to schedule travel and plan for the move to Germany.


the wife

When did you take this picture? I was chatting / watching you the whole the time they were installing the lights.  Lol! You're pretty sneaky. ;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 11:39 PM


Brandon

Sneaky Sneaky :)

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 07:31 AM

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Boobies Change Things - (Korea) Day 295

Work call this morning was a staggering 0515. We had to setup for a meeting in the top secret conference room. It was a late addition, so we found out right before we left work yesterday. I'm not sure how we ended up with the meeting because it wasn't even for a general that we supported, but such is life in our office. We had to brew coffee for the meeting because it was before the snack shop opened up in our building (we usually get all our coffee from the snack shop). We setup everything and then in a surprise move we were told we could go back to our rooms until 0830.

It was a nice gesture, but once I'm up I have a hard time going right back to sleep, so I just laid down for a while. I then started my normal morning routine with coffee and video chat with my wife before heading into the office.

Once in the office again I was grabbed right away to help setup with a meeting in the secret conference room. Normally everything is setup perfect in advance, but for some reason a whole new seating chart was printed out, so the name tags were out of order and there were new ones that needed to be made. It was a mess, and because of this we had to scramble to try and get everything setup quickly before the meeting actually started.

I then had to stay down and flip slides for the meeting. The only good thing about doing this is that I got out of the "POSH" training which I think stands for Prevention of Sexual Harassment. Those required training meetings are so boring, but flipping slides for the United Nations meeting was not too thrilling either…it just kept going on and on and on even after the slides were all through. Once they finally finished we cleaned up and headed back to our office.

I head to lunch in my room and video chat with my wife for a while. She finally had her physical, the first step in getting her paperwork done so I can submit everything and get my orders…woohoo! After lunch I headed back to the office and had to play taxi driver once again, but this time it was for She Captain. She was getting her official DA photo taken. This is the photo that goes on your record and it's in your dress uniform.

What should have taken 10 minutes turned into a big ordeal. I had planned on napping in the car while I was waiting for her, but I look out the window after about 5 minutes and I see her looking at me waving her hands wildly. I'm thinking WTF? So I get out and head over to her, turns out her uniform ribbons were not even with her name tag. You see...on a woman's dress uniform they can't put everything on first like the men can. Their boobies change the shape of the top, so everything has to be pinned on while it's being worn. There wasn't much I could do because I wasn't going to attempt to do this. I didn't want to get anywhere near her boobies. One accidental brush could lead to at least a little embarrassment, and at most some serious sexual harassment trouble!

We tried calling my NCOIC, but she was in a meeting. She Captain was starting to really freak out cussing and getting red in the face. At one point I thought she was going to cry because she was so frustrated. I know she wanted me to help, but luckily I was saved by a guy who worked there. He said even though she would miss her appointment, if she came back before 1600 they could fit her in. So she changed back into her ACUs and we headed back to the office where my NCOIC was able to take her in the bathroom and get her all fixed.

So I drove her back and she was able to get her picture taken. Because she is up for promotion soon, everything has to be perfect and I know this is why she was under so much pressure to get it all done. So this whole event pretty much took the rest of my afternoon. Luckily SPC Mick was able to take PV2 Charlie to finish in-processing. By the time I got back I had time to check my email and then we started cleaning up the office. We headed out at about 1630. Normally I would have worked out, but just like yesterday, I am still feeling pretty sick. I'm taking lots of vitamin c, drinking lots of fluids, and eating cough drops…and trying to rest.

When I got back to my room the lights still did not work. My roommate said he though they were supposed to come today, but there had been no sign of the maintenance guys. I gave them a call and calmly explained to them that I've been living in the dark for almost two weeks now. I then asked if they could please come fix it soon. The guy assured me they will be here tomorrow to fix the lights. I may not feel like I'm living in a cave anymore…we'll see.

I ate dinner and watched a couple TV shows (CSI: NY & Breaking Bad). I then started working on the required Windows 7 SkillPorts that I have to take before my certification class. Unlike all the other SkillPorts I do, I'm actually going through all the content with these. I want to try and get familiar with everything before the class. The downside is that it's going to take a lot longer to get through them. So just to keep up my points, I did a couple other SkillPorts when I finished the first Windows 7 section. I still want to max it out and I should be able to by next week or the week after.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In-Processing Charlie - (Korea) Day 294


A gas station I passed earlier while in Itaewon with hanging nozzles...
interesting way to save space.

Work call this morning was at 0630. We arrived and setup for a KUB in the top secret conference room. Our new guy PV2 Charlie was here so I had him come along to see what the majority of his job will be…a glorified bus boy.

Since it's the start of the week I checked my promotion point status:

Military Education - 260 Maximum Points

Correspondence Course (Hours 1202) (Points 240)

OMG I'm so freaking close to maxing this portion out…it's killing me! I only have 20 more points to go, or 98 hours depending on which you look at. I'm hoping to finish it soon!!!!

I then started helping PV2 Charlie in-process. There is a lot of stuff that has to be done for all the in-processing. The first thing we did was have our admin office make him a badge, so he could come and go from the office without having to check in and give up his ID card every time he came in the building. Next stop was the company and then we started at some of the places at battalion, but took a break for lunch.

At lunch I headed to my room and video chatted with my wife for a while. Once back at the office we continued PV2's in-processing. We were able to get his mailing address setup and some more items at battalion before we called it a day. We didn't get it all done because at one point we had to head over to our supply office. I had to help a new supply KATUSA with his network account and getting his email setup. This was not a problem, but our supply sergeant I think gets pretty lonely over in her office, and you can never just get in and get out because she is a talker. She met PV2 Charlie and talked and talked and talked.

We headed back to the office around 1600 and cleaned up before leaving around 1630. Normally I would have gone to work out, but I'm still not feeling very well. I have a pretty annoying cough to go along with a cold that I just can't shake. I've been hydrating and taking extra vitamin c, but it's not going anywhere. I headed to the shoppette to purchase some more OJ and vitamin water as well as some cough drops.

I then headed back to my room where I finished my last day of school for this year's TA. I used all of my TA allotted to me for the year which is great. I'm going to take a little time off to now study for the Windows certification coming up. I was pretty tired from being sick I guess and also getting up early, so I took a nap. After the nap I watched some TV Shows (CSI: Miami & Breaking Bad), then did a couple SkillPorts.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Korea) Days 292 & 293


At The Young Hawaiian's barracks...this sign always cracks me up...all I see is dirt and weeds...lol

Saturday: Since I was feeling sick this weekend I decided to take it pretty easy, so there is not much to tell. I woke up this morning after a great NyQuil induced sleep that lasted until almost 1000. I then did laundry and video chatted with my wife for hours which was nice. I had plans to meet up and work out with PFC Pickle, but because I wasn't feeling too good I decided to just go purchase some orange juice and vitamin water and stay in my room.

The rest of the night was spent hydrating and watching True Blood & Breaking Bad. I did manage to do a SkillPort before heading to bed.

Sunday: Another great NyQuil induced sleep that lasted until around 1000. I did schoolwork for a while and then video chatted with my wife and kids for a few hours. I tell you that it is so awesome to be able to video chat with my kids, but it also breaks my heart at the same time. I hate not being able to be there and be a father to them. My son is playing football for the first time and I will not be able to see any of his games. My oldest daughter is in high school and experiencing everything that goes on with that new stage in her life. It just kills me inside when I talk to them. Don't get me wrong I love talking with them, but it is also a big reminder of how much of their life I'm going to miss because I chose to join the army.

After the video chats, I took a nap for a while in my room and then headed to visit The Young Hawaiian. It had been a while since I'd visited him, so we caught up and also watched the Meyweather boxing match on TV. He finally told me where he got assigned…Fort Riley in Kansas. He's not too excited because he'll be leaving this city that is full of nightlife and be heading to a place that has nothing. He's planning on getting a lot of schoolwork done…lol.

As for my next steps for my assignment to Germany, I am waiting on my wife to get her physical which is this Monday. She will then be able to complete her screening paperwork with the army medical center and send it all to me. Once I have that I will turn it in with the paperwork that I have filled out and wait to get my orders. I can't do much of anything until I get the actual orders in my hand. Hoping for a good nights sleep tonight and also hoping I'm feeling better to start the work week tomorrow.


mom

Sorry you are feeling so bad, emotionally and physically, wish there was something we could do to help. Your kids are doing just fine, but I know that doesn't help. I think you made the right decision, so hang in there. Saw Scott and Bonnie and she said she is so proud of what you are doing. It will be better when you get to Germany and have the kiddos all summer, whoo hoo

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 01:00 AM


Brandon

Thanks mom. I'm looking forward to Germany as well because at least I'll have my wife there with me the entire time and the kiddos in the summer. I can't wait to see everyone before I head over there :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 10:05 PM

Friday, September 16, 2011

Charlie - (Korea) Day 291


In my office SPC Mick takes a nap. He says his helmet makes a good pillow. This
is what happens when we have to come into work early...LOL!

Work call this morning was at 0630, which means we did not attend the company Friday PT that our NCOIC said we are going to do from now on starting last week….lol. We haven't done one yet, but "next Friday we will for sure!" Suits me fine, I think I get a better work out on my own. We had to open our conference room and turn the system on for a meeting that was going to go on all day long.

Once everything was good to go, I headed over to Starbucks to get a coffee. Whenever I have to go in early, I don't have time to brew my own. I then worked on some SkillPorts for a while and then had our colonel sign my new year's TA request, now my tuition assistance (TA) will recharge in October. I'm glad I got started on it right away, I was able to exhaust my entire fund for the year. I know a lot of people that always plan on taking classes while they are in the army, but just never start. By my calculations I should be done in about a year and some change. After my current class though I'm going to be studying for a new certification.

I just registered for a Windows 7 computing environment class. The class is being offered the last week of October. We have to finish up some SkillPorts relating to the class before then and after the class we will get a voucher to take the certification exam. So I'll be turning my attention to this after my current class is over on Tuesday. I can't pass up a free certification!

I spent some time trying to get through all the red tape that goes along with getting access to the network. SPC Mick's account expired for some reason and I've been in touch with the network folks trying to get his account back online. Turns out they thought his DEROS (the time he's leaving Korea) was up and expired his account. I sent them his paperwork, but since it was on an old form they wouldn't accept it..WTF? I had to get a new form filled out and then routed to a number of people in our office for approval. Each person such as a supervisor, the security admin, the Information Awareness Officer, and so on each have to receive the document electronically from me and digitally sign it. I repeat the process over and over until it has all the correct digital signatures on it and then send it to the network folks. I get a reply back saying they don't see the guy who signed as the security officer as "the security officer" in their system.

So…I'm getting a little pissed at this point. His stupid account should not have been turned off in the first place! I send the memo that states that this particular person is indeed our security officer. They reply back and state that I shouldn't send anything with social security numbers via email. I'm about to go nuts at this point. I take a black sharpie and mark out their social security numbers and then email it back to them. I'm then told the system they use to upload such memos to is down, but they will turn on SPC Mick's access through tomorrow night, then they are hoping to be able to upload the document and turn his account on for good. I can't believe all the crap, the red tape, the BS that has to go on just to get one simple thing done here.

I head to lunch and video chat with my wife in my room, then head back to the office and do some more SkillPorts. I call 1RC to check on our new guy and I'm informed that he's ready to be picked up. So me and our NCOIC take the car and head to 1RC. He has a pretty whacked name, so our NCOIC just says "I'm looking for…." and starts to just spell it out. Turns out he's a 25C, so I'll just call him PV2 Charlie. We pick him up and load his bags in the car. We take him to the company and grab the in-processing paperwork for the company. They tell us where the new housing office is located and we head off to find this building. We drive all over the place and end up going back to the company to get better directions. Finally we find it and it's actually in The Young Hawaiian's barracks. We were looking for a separate building. It turns out our barracks are full, so they set him up in newly remodeled barracks near 1RC. The specialist that set him up had us follow her in her car to the his barracks…only a small problem, she didn't know where they were. We drove around in circles for a while until she stopped and called her boss and then also asked some directions. Our NCOIC wasn't too thrilled. Finally we found the barracks. They have some pros and cons. He has a smaller room, but he has it all to himself. Everything is nice and new, but he has a community bathroom and showers. He can either stay there, or move to our barracks next week sometime when there are some openings. I think even with the community bathroom I would seriously consider staying there. A room to myself sounds very good!

We brought PV2 Charlie back to the office and introduced him to the few that were there and then I took him back to his room and dropped him off shortly before 1700 with instructions to have a safe weekend and show up at 0700 on Monday.

I headed to my room to find out that the maintenance guys came to look at the lights, but were unable to fix them. This doesn't surprise me at all because they are freakin' morons! I guess "The Light Guy" is down at CP Tango today and might be able to come and fix our lights this Tuesday. So I get to live in the dark until then.

I then headed to the PX for some supplies. I'm starting to feel sick. Whatever my NCOIC had this week, I'm starting to feel it. I was coughing last night before bed. I do not want to get sick! I picked up some Vitamin C, some NyQuil and some Excedrin. I ran into a guy that went to AIT with and we chatted in the aisle for about a half hour catching up. He's come a long way from that first day in our A+ class, he thought everything was magic…now he's actually fixing computers!

I headed to the food court, ate dinner, went to my room and did some schoolwork before watching some Breaking Bad and then taking some NyQuil before going to sleep.

A ROK soldier from our sister office in our conference control room taking a nap.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

IT Kind of Day - (Korea) Day 290

Work call this morning was at 0830. We setup for a KUB in the top secret conference room and then I actually did some IT work. It was the first time I've felt like an IT guy for a while! SPC Mick's network account for some reason expired and I had to start the process to get his account back online with the help desk. Talk about a lot of red tape, what a pain in the butt. I then imaged a laptop in the office, ran updates on it and configured it. She Captain is going to move desks and start using it because she's having some issues with her computer…it's next on my list to image. I then had to put in another help desk ticket to have some items fixed in active directory that I don't have permission to. All in all it was probably the most time I've spent doing IT work all in one day.

Before lunch I had to drive our air force major to CIF so he could turn in all his equipment. He'll be leaving soon and this is part of his out-processing. Surprisingly it didn't take too long. Once we got back I headed to lunch in my room and video chatted with my wife for a bit

After lunch I did some more inventorying of equipment for our NCOIC, then I did a SkillPort. I also found out some depressing news:

"There are NO Waivers at this time with the STB-K…as the BN as a whole is over-strength with SPC" -From our First Sergeant

My NCOIC was checking into getting a waiver for me, so I could get promoted to Specialist in October. The earliest a PFC can get promoted is with 18 months time in service with a waiver. Unfortunately it has more to do with staffing levels, than the actual merits of the person trying to get the promotion and our battalion (STB-K - Special Troops Battalion - Korea) has too many specialists at the moment. So it looks like I'll remain a PFC for another 6 months and change until it happens automatically at the 2 year mark. It's still a bit of a bummer. When I first joined I just assumed I would get the waiver and the promotion at 18 months. I knew I wouldn't be getting into trouble and I am a good worker, but such is life…we move on.

We left at 1700 after cleaning up the office. Our NCOIC wasn't in the office today because she was sick, so there was no chance of us leaving early for PT. By the time I got back to my room I had lost my motivation to work out. I've still been battling headaches every day and I figured I would just rest up tonight. My roommate said the maintenance guys called him and he'll be dropping off his keys with them tomorrow so they can come fix our lights. It won't seem like we live in a cave anymore.

I did my schoolwork…I'm in the last week of this class! I then started season 3 of Breaking Bad and did a couple SkillPorts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Room Inspection - (Korea) Day 289

I had to wake up at 0430 for the room inspection at 0500. I was in ACUs because I had to go to work, but everyone else was in summer PTs so they could go work out after the inspection. We waited outside our rooms for an NCO to come check the rooms. Our NCOIC was here as well to make sure there were no issues. If one of the soldiers has a really messed up room it falls on their NCO. We waited and waited…it felt like AIT all over again in the RBK barracks. Finally our room was the last one to be inspected on our floor. The NCO walked in and tried to turn on the light…LOL. I told him that maintenance said it might get fixed after the holiday. Probably best that it was dim because my roommate's side was still pretty bad. Even without lights the NCO told him that his side was the worst in the barracks…LOL. After that he left and it was over.

I then got ready for work and headed in for a 0730 work call. SPC Mick was not going to be in today because he had CQ yesterday. We had to setup for the normal Wednesday morning meeting in the secret conference room. It hasn't been too regular lately, so I was a little rusty getting everything ready on the laptops. It's a good thing I started with plenty of time to spare so I could make sure everything was "just right". I ran the meeting and then cleaned up. After the meeting we setup for a KUB and then took off for lunch.

I headed to my room for a quick lunch, but I had to make sure I was back before the KUB actually started because our new captain in the office wasn't sure if they needed someone to flip slides or not. I gotta give this new captain a name…. She Captain. (She is the only female SACO officer in our office). After waiting with She Captain for a while we found out that she didn't need me…all that rushing for nothing.

I headed to my office and had about 5 minutes at my desk before my NCOIC decided to give me a huge task. She wanted me to take all the inventory that she is now signed for and mark exactly where it is located. This is all the inventory that it took her and our old sergeant days to find. Not sure why they didn't mark it down at the time. So I spent the rest of the day trying to find items and then marking down where they were exactly. I wasn't able to finish before she said we could take off for the day and do PT. I'll have to resume tomorrow.

We cleaned up the office and left around 1615. I headed to my room, changed and headed to The Point to workout. I had a great workout and headed back to my room where I ate dinner and then watched a CSI: New York. (I'm still behind on that series). I then did a SkillPort and then schoolwork before calling it a night.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Replacement - (Korea) Day 288

Work call this morning was at 0830. We didn't have a meeting right away so I checked my email and started doing SkillPorts as usual. I checked my status since it's the start of the week:

Military Education - 260 Maximum Points

Correspondence Course (Hours 1161) (Points 232)

I'm getting so close, but it seems like this last little bit is taking forever. I just want to reach my goal of maxing it out…only 28 more points to go. My original goal was before I leave Korea, but I want to finish it before next month.

After doing a few SkillPorts, I turned on the system for our conference room and then flipped slides for a while. Then SPC Mick came up and said I was needed downstairs to help our major burn a CD. I did some basic troubleshooting, but it will take some more time and evidently he was a little too busy, so I went to lunch.

I ate in my room and video chatted with my wife. When I headed back to work I updated our events calendar and then our NCOIC and I went to 1RC. We heard my replacement is now here and 1RC is where all the new people to Korea in-process. It doesn't matter where they are going to be stationed in Korea, they all process through 1RC for about a week or so…(death by PowerPoint). We found him and introduced ourselves and gave him our phone roster so if he had any problems he could give us a call. It seems strange that my replacement is already here. I feel like I need more time to get everything done before I leave. My wife is working on getting her part of the paperwork done so I can turn in everything and I'm starting to freak out a little because time just keeps ticking by.

When we got back to the office I had to visit the secret network guys and reset my password. The security on that stupid network is so strict that it's almost impossible to remember your password if you don't use it often. I haven't used mine since before I went on leave. We are going to start resuming our normal Wednesday meetings tomorrow in the secret conference room and I'll need to be able to log in!

SPC Mick left early because he had CQ and Special K and our KATUSA had today off because it is still a ROK holiday. Even though Special K is not in the ROK army, our NCOIC let him have the day off because he is actually Korean and has family here. I cleaned up and left around 1600. It was for PT, but really I couldn't do any. We found out that we are going to have a barracks inspection by our 1st sergeant tomorrow morning at 0500. Our NCOIC had to pre-inspect them tonight at 1830, so I had to go to my room and clean. We were also told we'd be doing company PT after the inspection, but then I found out that would not be the case because of our meeting in the morning. So this totally screwed up my workout schedule…no workout at all today.

Our NCOIC came and checked out our rooms and checked mine first. She tried to turn on my lights and I laughed. I told her I called maintenance and they said maybe sometime after the holiday. So she looked around in the dimly lit room (I only had my desk lamp on to help hide how bad my roommate's side was). She did mention though that my roommate better do some cleaning before tomorrow. So living in the barracks really sucks. Not only is it an inconvenience most of the time, it's a real pain in the butt for stuff like this. We have to get up at the crack of dawn for some stupid room inspection. Supposedly this is now going to be a weekly thing, but I can't imagine all the NCOs wanting to do this each week. I just can't wait to live like a normal married guy with my family in a house. I don't care if it's on post or off post, I just don't want to deal with this stupid crap.

In other news…I finished season two of Breaking Bad. That show is addicting and I haven't been able to stop watching it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up (3-Day) - (Korea) Days 285 - 287


Our traditional Chuseok meal that our KATUSA's family made

Saturday: Today was a complete waste of a day. After having CQ shift until 0900 this morning I slept until about 1630. I woke up tired and pretty much felt tired the entire day. I did schoolwork and did some reading. I ended up watching the TV in my barracks while laying in my bed. CNN is one of the few English speaking channels I get, so I watched that and drifted in and out of sleep. It didn't help that I could not turn on our lights. They are both out and I called yesterday to have maintenance come and fix them, but they said it would probably be after the holidays before they can fix them. It's a 3 day weekend because Monday is Chuseok (The Korean Thanksgiving). My roommate and I have just been using our small desk lamps to keep everything lit up, but they don't do much. After the snake incident I'm afraid when maintenance does come, they will end up electrocuting themselves or catching the place on fire. I guess we'll see. I ended up deciding to quit fighting it and just went to sleep around midnight.

Sunday: I woke up around 0715 and felt much more awake. I did laundry and schoolwork to start off my morning. I then headed to work out, but did not have the energy. I had one of those runs where it never feels good from the start, I never got a second wind and ended up slowing down to a fast walk a couple of times during the run. It was a very disappointing workout.

I headed back to my poorly lit room and video chatted with my wife for a while. I didn't leave my room again for the day. I did some SkillPorts and watched more Breaking Bad. I still haven't been able to completely shake the headache that I've had since Thursday. I take Excedrin and the pain goes away for a while, but always comes back. I'm starting to think I may have to see the doctor or something because it doesn't seem to be getting better. At some points I think I've taken too much Excedrin because my stomach starts to get upset, but it's hard to function when my head is pounding so hard. I know I was drinking enough water, so I have been hydrated. After looking online it seems it could be a number of things. I'll see if it goes away after my lights are fixed, maybe it's the strain on my eyes or something.

Monday: Today is Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving. I woke up with the headache still…take some Excedrin and start my day. I video chat with my wife for a while and then planned to get some stuff off post and then at the PX, but everything is closed! Even the PX is closed, the only thing open was the food court. I went there for lunch and watched a little football.

I then headed back to my room and did a SkillPort before heading out with SPC Mick to our KATUSA’s house. He and his family invited me and SPC Mick to their house to eat dinner with them for the Chuseok holiday. We took the subway and met up with our KATUSA near his house. He then led us there and introduced us to his family. They were all extremely nice and the Korean food was excellent. I really enjoyed chatting with our KATUSA and his family. It was really a nice gesture for him to invite us over.

We ended up leaving around 1900 and headed back to our barracks. Once back in my poorly lit room I relaxed and watched another Breaking Bad and did some schoolwork before calling it a night. Back to the grind tomorrow.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Never Ending Day - (Korea) Day 284


My view from the back of the naval change of command ceremony. Lots of bells
ringing and everyone kept their hats on inside...(that's a little hard to get used to)

So after getting to sleep late last night, I'm woken up at 0430 with more banging on all the doors. WTF? I'm starting to hate living in the barracks. All the soldiers in normal housing don't have to put up with this crap. My roommate got up and asked me if we should go out. Again they never even said anything, just a bunch of banging on the doors, so I didn't budge from my bed…my roommate stayed in as well. I found out later on in the day that the MPs were taking their dogs in rooms and having them sniff for spice (an illegal drug). Of course even though I haven't had much sleep and I decided to stay in bed, I could not get back to sleep before i had to get up at 0600. I just laid there the entire time.

We got an email from our NCOIC yesterday that said our office is now going to do PT with the company every Friday from now on. Today was going to be the first day, but it was already cancelled…lol. Work call for me was 0645 and 0830 for everyone else. The thought process was that I would be physically tired from all the walking around and touring yesterday. Everyone else would go to company PT and then be at work at 0830, but since PT for our office was cancelled they didn't have to do anything until 0830. When I got in I setup for a meeting in our conference room and started flipping slides for it once it started.

I was about half-way through the meeting when CPT Hooah! told me to switch with SPC Mick and had me help him at a navy change of command ceremony. We brought a laptop over and hooked it up to a projector, then I waited…and waited. We sat through the ceremony and then took the laptop and left. I had to fight sleep the entire time. CPT Hooah! was all excited when the ceremony was over, this would be his last function with our office. He was able to switch to our protocol office, I'm not sure he'll like it there any better. I guess it will be interesting to see.

We headed back to the office and Special K and I ate lunch in our conference room. His wife had packed him a pretty big meal to share. This weekend is a 3-day for us and a 4-day for ROK soldiers because of the ROK holiday of Chuseok, which I guess is the equivalent of our Thanksgiving. So this meal was in pre-celebration of this holiday.

After eating I called my wife and then helped out our KATUSA do some sample setups for meetings. He's trying to document everything so he can train his replacement exceptionally well. I then left for a 1500 CQ briefing at the company. For some reason I was the only one that showed up, the sergeant was a little pissed. I got a quick briefing and then took off, he said he was going to contact all the other people's NCOs and see where they all are. Since it's the weekend there should have been 6 total (2 for each day). I went to the PX and bought a couple supplies (5-hour energy drink and hot tamales), then went to my room and took a quick half hour nap.

I started my CQ shift at 1700 and will do it until 0900 tomorrow morning. It really kind of screws up the weekend because I'll be sleeping a lot of the day away tomorrow. Sometimes you see some interesting stuff, but not much going on tonight..only one girl who was obviously heading off to a booty call. She left her room at 0145 to go out. As for me…my night was filled with Breaking Bad, SkillPort, video chatting with my wife and a phone call to my dad. I also watched a great old movie called "They Live" about aliens living among us undetected…that is until you put on a special pair of sunglasses! A great classic!

I hit the wall a little early. At around 0500 it got really tough for me to even think straight. I had to stop even attempting to do SkillPorts and just try to stay awake. I may have started dreaming while I was awake. The last few hours drug on and on until finally my replacement came and I somehow managed to walk to my room and collapse into my bed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Cultured - (Korea) Day 283


Our tour group at Kyung-Bok Palace

So after I decided to go to sleep last night a little after 2130, there was a loud banging on the door. I didn't hear anyone say anything like "get out of your room", so I proceeded to go to sleep. I heard the pounding on all the doors and on mine a couple more times. I just went to sleep. I'm not sure who or why, but I did hear that there was a "GI Party". (where everyone has to clean). Why they would do this at bedtime I have no idea, but I'm glad I didn't go out. I really hate living in the barracks.

This morning I went on a Korean cultural tour. We met up at 0830 and took a bus to Kyung-Bok Palace. It was actually the same palace I went to my first weekend here in Korea. I didn't mind though because we had a different tour guide and we were able to look at some different areas. We then headed to the Korean National Folk Museum which is right next to the palace. I had been there too, but on an unguided tour. We were guided this time though a part that I didn't even visit last time around. Both tours were very informative and fun to go on.

We then headed off to lunch at a traditional Korean restaurant. We all sat on the floor and were served what seemed like a never ending steam of dishes. I tried a lot of them and by the time we left I was plenty full. After lunch we headed out and were turned loose for a couple hours to shop in an area called Insadong Street. There were a number of various shops all over the place. I was battling a fierce headache, so all I really wanted to do was take some aspirin and lay down somewhere. Sometimes when I work out pretty hard, I'll get bad headaches the next day. This was the case today and in Korea they don't sell aspirin at any local convenience store, you have to find a pharmacy in order to purchase any pain relievers. I did some walking up and down the streets and went into a few shops. I want to buy stuff for friends and family back home, but I just couldn't decide what to buy…nothing was really jumping out at me.

We finally all met up again and boarded our bus. Our next stop was Changdong Theatre. The program said we would be seeing a traditional Korean play, but it turned out to be the exact same play I saw on the last cultural tour. I'm not complaining though, the play was still great the second time around. I'm thankful for the opportunities I've received to be able to go out and do stuff like this.

After the play and on the bus ride back, I received a call from my NCOIC. She asked if I'd like to go to the Linkin Park concert tonight. Her husband was not going to be able to make it and I jumped at the chance. I had wanted to buy tickets earlier, but nobody would commit to go with me. This worked out perfect! As soon as we got back to Yongsan, I got off the tour bus and headed straight to the subway to meet up with my NCOIC. We headed to the show and had a blast. Since "Mr. Hahn" (the DJ in the band) happens to be Korean…he was the most popular guy in the band. Every time they would show him on the big screen the crowd would freak out.

I got back to my room around midnight and showered right away. I knew I had an early work call the next morning, so I got in bed as soon as I could. The problem was that I didn't fall asleep right away. It may have been that my roommate was Skyping with friends and I could hear him talking, it may have just been that I knew I only had a limited amount of time to sleep so I would get frustrated every minute I stayed awake…but whatever it was, it took me quite a while to actually fall asleep. It had to be after 0100….Ugggghhhh

A photo I took during the show, you can see the Korean flag next to the DJ.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Post That Shall Not Be Named - (Korea) Day 282


Walking by The Dragon Hill parking lot...they're getting ready for OktoberFest

Work call this morning was at 0830. We had no meetings scheduled for the entire day, so I headed straight to my office and checked my email and of course my promotion points since it's the first day of the work week.

My current status:

Military Education - 260 Maximum Points

Correspondence Course (Hours 1119) (Points 223)

I'm getting closer. I'm also getting tired of doing SkillPorts, which also motivates me to do more until I finally max out the military education portion of my promotion points. I only have 37 more to go. I should be able to do that in a week or two, I'll have it done by the end of September for sure. I ended up doing SkillPorts all morning until I headed out for my lunch break.

I ate lunch in my room and video chatted with my wife. After lunch I headed over to the MWR center and reserved a spot for a paragliding event on the 24th. I've never done anything like that before and I'm looking forward to giving it a try. The last one I signed up for got cancelled because of bad weather.

When I got back to the office all I really did was more SkillPorts. SPC Mick found out where his next assignment is and he's not too happy. It's strange because he hasn't even hit his 6 month mark yet. He'll be heading off to Fort Leonard Wood. I don't know too much about it other than it is one of the places where people go for basic training. SPC Mick says it's in the middle of nowhere, kind of the opposite of where we are now. Yongsan Garrison is located right in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

We ended up cleaning up around 1600 and were let go at 1630 so we could go do PT on our own. Our NCOIC has been trying to get us out of the office early to do PT and it finally happened! I went to my room and changed, then headed to The Point and had a pretty good workout.

I headed back to my room and ended up chatting with the young hawaiian for a bit. The events of the day had me wondering if he knew where his next assignment was yet. He said he just found out and wasn't happy. He wouldn't tell me where either because he said he hadn't accepted it mentally yet. He said it's the worst place ever. I guessed every base I could think of and struck out every time. He still wouldn't tell me where it was. Kind of like how "He that shall not be named" is not spoken of because it gives him power…the young hawaiian has "his post that shall not be named". He said he'll tell me later….hmmmmm makes me wonder….

The rest of the night was more "Breaking Bad"


the wife

Tell young hawaiian I wanna know! ;0)

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 12:48 PM


Mick's Mom

Seoul is the second largest populated city in the world, with Toyko being the first.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 12:59 PM

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up (4-Day) - (Korea) Days 278 - 281


Our tour group at the 2011 Chungju World Martial Arts Festival...I'm in the very back
with a blue hat on, PFC Pickle is in the front down on a knee

Saturday: It's Labor Day weekend and we have a 4 days off to celebrate! I woke up around 0830 and did my usual Saturday morning routine of laundry and video chat with my wife. I then worked on schoolwork for quite a while until SPC Roy called and said he was coming over. We visited for a bit and then asked if I wanted to go to the commissary with him. I never pass up a trip to the commissary because it's a pain in the butt to go there on the bus. After that he dropped me off and I headed to The Point to go work out.

I then headed to RockFest here at Yongsan. They had live rock bands and a bunch of food and drink vendors out. What is unique is that the public was invited to come as well. There was one gate anyone could come in as long as they produced any form of ID. They blocked off the area where RockFest was being held in order to keep everyone contained. The bands I saw put on a good show. I saw then end of one band and watched the entire next band, a Led Zeppelin tribute band. The show started at noon and was going to play until 2200. I ended up hanging out for over two hours, but since I was there alone and standing I decided to head back to my room. Back in the room I started on more schoolwork and ended up doing that the rest of the night.


The Led Zeppelin tribute band at RockFest in Yongsan

Sunday: I woke up around 0830 and video chatted with my wife. I then cleaned my room a bit. It was tough to try and sweep and I didn't even try to mop. I refuse to move my roommate's stuff and it is starting to accumulate. I then met up with SPC Roy and we headed to The Point to swim. He had never been there before and wanted to check it out. We swam, went in the hot tub, and then the sauna. It totally seemed to drain the life from me. I had no energy at all after that…I felt like a slug.

We then headed to a Mexican restaurant staffed by Koreans (ironic) located inside The Dragon Hill Lodge. They have a buffet and I ate way too much. I didn't eat again for the rest of the night! Way too much food!!

I headed back to my room and did some more schoolwork, then watched a TV show before doing a SkillPort. After this I ended up taking a nap. Once awake from the nap I felt like I definitely needed to go workout, so I headed to The Point once again and actually had a decent workout. I then headed back to my room and watched more TV shows and did a SkillPort.

Monday: I woke up at 0700 and video chatted with my wife for a bit before heading to the bus station on post. I had plans with PFC Pickle to go on a tour (Chungju World Martial Arts Festival). There was a bus mix-up and instead of leaving at 0830, we left at 1000. The bus ride took a couple hours…long enough for a good nap.

Once we arrived we were able to watch a few martial arts demonstrations, but not as much as I'd hoped. The festival is actually 7 days long and we were only there for four hours. After looking at the schedule I wish they would have planned the event on a day where more was going on. I still enjoyed getting out and seeing parts of Korea that I haven't seen before and soaking up the culture.

We arrived back after 1800, a long bus ride with another nap. I ate dinner at the food court with PFC Pickle and then headed back to my room where I did more schoolwork. I wrapped up the night with a TV show and a SkillPort.

One of the martial arts performances during the 2011 Chungju World Martial Arts Festival

Me using a bow and arrow at one of the booths during the 
2011 Chungju World Martial Arts Festival

A look at the pavilion where most of the demonstrations took place from
the 3rd floor of the Martial Arts Museum.

Tuesday: I woke up at 0900 and video chatted with my wife for a while before doing schoolwork. I then went to lunch with SPC Roy. He had staff duty today and is working a 24 hour shift which sucks. He did get last Friday off because this shift fell on a holiday, but it still sucks. He gave me copies of a show called "Breaking Bad" and said he's totally hooked on it.

I watched the first episode and it was pretty good, I think I'll have to add this to my normal viewing collection. I then met up with PFC Pickle and we headed to the theatre on post to watch The Hangover 2. The sequel was pretty funny, but as many sequels seem to be…it was not as good as the first one. There was definitely a lot more penises than I was prepared to see when I woke up this morning!

We then went to The Point and worked out before heading back to our rooms. I had to watch more of the Breaking Bad TV show. SPC Roy wanted me to finish the first season tonight so we could talk about it tomorrow…lol. I don't think I'm going to make it that far, but I do have CQ duty this Friday…so I'll be watching quite a bit then I'm sure.