Shortsightedness of Hindsight, or, Irony in 2011

Reflecting upon the events of this year and how the military career I had planned out for myself, and my family, did not work out I began to think of the word hindsight...

Straight from the horse's mouth:

the ability to understand, after something has happened, what should have been
 done or what caused the event. (See Sources)
I cannot help but laugh when recounting the story, because it is the most ironic ending I could have thought possible.  People always say, "hindsight is 20/20" and they are, without a doubt, correct.  What many do not realize, however, is that when you are medically disqualified from joining the military because of your vision it takes on an entirely different meaning.

Maybe the vision I had was a bit shortsighted?  After all, they did tell me my eyes were pretty bad.  How can one even speak of vision authoritatively when that is the determining factor in his disqualification?  

2012 is nearly here and we have much to show.  Good decisions or bad decisions?  Horrible question, who thinks about things like that anyway?  I believe our only error was measuring the effectiveness of our decisions based upon the immediate outcome of the situation.  Things take time.

My wife and I agreed that things are pretty good now and being together is sweet.  I can even work from home one day a week.  Not too shabby!  Hindsight, why don't you stop by next weekend and we'll tell you how irony actually made you look silly.  20/20 is for the birds.

"hindsight." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 11 Dec. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hindsight>.


Balancing Dreams with your Nine to Five

Me, standing on the rocks at
Avenida Peru in Vina del Mar, Chile.
The average number of days between my posts seems to be increasing signaling the reality that I'm not quite settled in my new job and that the holidays are nearing.  We've had some very good news and some bad news, and we've gotten excited and gotten less excited but all things considered we're doing well.

My initial ninety days at work are nearing and it's time to sign for a year, if they still want me, haha.  We're still crazy about going other places and sometimes it gets in the way with a normal life.  How do you get up every day and go to work when you wish everyone around you spoke a different language?  I don't know how others feel but sometimes my daily life isn't all that exciting, but then again, I'm comparing it to a lot of really exciting places.  While it might be part of growing up, I do think that moving to other countries tends to make my small-town life a bit less exciting.  I'm trying to balance this with my daily life.

A good friend of mine, who recently moved off to the greater DC area with a sweet job programming robots to think for us (or something like that), told me that the programming is just a means to get me into a position so that I can do what I really want.  He said: "It's my grind." if I'm not mistaken.  He's not really completely satisfied with programming either, since he loves Psychology, and has a vision beyond it all.  I like that.

I've considered that it could just be me, but Olivia seems to feel the same.  That's good, otherwise I would feel like I was the only one in the world who wants to move anywhere but Wilmington, NC and Seoul, South Korea.

I think it is just that the adventurous spirit that never dies and that deep down in our souls we long for more than what we have.  I wouldn't call it a simple dissatisfaction with things, but it's like this tickling excitement for a future where you get to move around and pursue selfless careers for the greater good of mankind.  (I'm trying to justify satisfying my selfish desires by making it sound like I want to do humanitarian work, or missionary work; is it working?)

We've just got a month or so to go and 2012 will be here.  What better time to start pondering our future and how our present will take us there?  I know it sounds unrelated but I remembered a piece of literature I read in college from Julio Cortázar entitled "La Isla a Mediodia", or something like "The Island at Noon".  All that dreaming and it can sometimes make you crazy.  If you haven't read it I highly recommend it as he was a man of great genius.  It's a short story so carve out a few and tell me what you think, ok?

My old Computer Science friend
Julio Cortazar: La Isla a Mediodia (The Island at Noon).


Go Energies or Go Home

I've told most of you of my new programming job but have not told much about it.  I'm a programmer, along with a very good, old friend of mine, who is the lead and I am the first in command underneath him.

We program mostly in PHP, but there are lots of opportunities to use javascript, jquery, and we do a fair bit of work in html/css in addition.  There are some projects to come which will require my renewed interest in java.  Anyone unfamiliar with the Yii Framework would likely find it interesting as well.  The Yii Framework is an example of the MVC or Model, View, Controller framework which separates web applications into three distinct parts, so that you focus on getting data, presenting it and working between the database and the views by using the controller, which is a bit of an in-between.  It means you get your data, you pass it around and do things with it, and then present it, all in a nicely compartmentalized way.

Interesting?  Well, that's the beginning of it.

I'm working for GoEnergies, a bulk fuel company and help them build tasty, sexy and otherwise useful applications to make their lives easier.  It's not a bad job, actually, it's pretty great.  If you want a good idea of what I do in addition to this, I am sure that the linux command line and vim would summarize it all very nicely.  Oh, yes, I use Linux AND I'm normal.  Imagine that.

If this post seems like it was written in another language it almost was, but don't fear, I will post more delectable things at a later date.  That's the good thing about being ADHD, or multi-faceted, it means all your readers never get bored :)


Acquisition of Worldly Possessions

While not the most important details of our life, we do have much to say about filling up our room in preparation for our next stage.  It would seem a small detail but after this past year we have expected much less and been happy with very little because we had no choice.  Now, as things seem to be looking up we've moved in with our sister for a season in anticipation for our next step which will be our own apartment/house pending our brother in law's arrival to North Carolina.

We moved in to a room with no furniture and no bed.  Just a couple weeks later we have managed to fill it up with goodies from Craig's List, all at a price that is so good it makes me feel a little bit guilty.  Unbelievable.

It does feel good to get some stuff finally but while I was in church today I was thinking something almost the complete opposite of what I should have been thinking.  It is time to just enjoy life, and soak in all the blessings as of late, but another thought came to mind: no matter what I get I will not feel any better.

This is no huge revelation but considering what I want to do in life; much of it involves learning languages and living in foreign countries with my wife.  It's all just a distraction on our way!

Forgive me, as I have no intention of trying to sound like I've got it all made and that I'm happy with nothing.  I really mean to say that I feel a bit of a void and although we're getting the things we need for our bedroom I recognize it adds nothing to our lives.  I don't mean to sound pessimistic either, but these sorts of things don't really please me too much.  I'm happy when I go places and do things.  I like the exotic.  I don't enjoy vacation but rather living in a place that might seem a vacation to the people I grew up with.  I don't want it to be a two week distraction.  Maybe I just long for adventure and am not very easily satisfied?  I guess that every day I'm learning a bit more.

My word for the year is still 'Contentment' until this year ends.  I have a long way to go!


Absence Makes Something Grow Fonder...

Hello, and let it be known I'm terribly sorry for the past month or so.

September 1, 2011 marked the first day of my new job, a 'real job' at GoEnergies, a local Wilmington, NC company.  My great friend got me a job working for him, since he is the lead software developer.  It's a pretty sweet deal.

Needless to say, I have been frantically brushing up on programming and database management skills, most of which had decayed to such a point as to wonder if they would ever recover.  One month later there is much more hope.  We have been developing a website for the company, as well as other internal applications; pretty normal as far as programming jobs go.

We have also purchased a 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback Wagon (Limited), which means it has leather seats, a cd player and it has heated seats as well as mirror defrosting.  As it turns out it had very few miles on it, but not as few as it seemed at the beginning.  The first digit on the odometer didn't advance making it look like the car only had 17,000 miles on it.  It really had 117,000, which is still pretty excellent.

My wife, Olivia has also started working with the local YMCA where she takes care of the sweet multi-cultural kids a couple days a week.  She likes it so far and is starting to show more ambition.  Your hopes and dreams start to escape you after a year of almost constant waiting and disappointment, but that is when other things start to 'kick in', so we say.  It is in times like these that words like 'faith' really must be put to work and turned into 'works'.

There has been almost so much good news lately that we felt that we were in control of our lives again, (what a silly thought, right?), and were going to get up out of the hole we've been stuck in, all in a manner of speaking, of course.  This past week we went to the doctor to find out that Olivia has a large growth, and the doctor thought it might have been a fibroid.  The following Monday we followed up with an ultrasound.  Friday morning the guesses were confirmed and we are host to an 11cm in diameter fibroid.  That's a softball for those of you who are numerically challenged.  Life just go interesting again!  We'll keep everyone posted.  For now?  God has been true in finding us both jobs we enjoy, whether or not they are easy is another story entirely.  We are both very much happy, and growing to be happier every day despite this new bit of news.  It's strange how things can begin to seem so bright even when they don't seem as good.  For some reason I think it's all going to be fantastic in the end.  God has been pretty darn good to us.


Circumlocution and Vocabulary in Foreign Languages

Image property of: Defensive Cycling.

Speaking in a foreign language it comes to mind that there is always a bare minimum vocabulary necessary for effective communication.  With the accumulation of languages comes the ability to shortcut this procedure by asking more effective questions.  Why make language learning blunders again on your third language?

If I could start again I would try to work on this skill--along with another which is very helpful--called circumlocution:

a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to express an idea.
a roundabout expression. (Dictionary.com)

  While it might sound like something bad, circumlocution is a necessary evil when speaking a foreign language.  When you don't have the word do you simply not speak it?  Not an option.  You must improvise--this improvisation is called circumlocution.  In Spanish it's called verborrea, which I really like because it sounds like diarrhea, giving us an accurate, albeit disgusting, image (wordreference).

Anecdote: While visiting Chile for the first time, while my Spanish was still very bad, I talked with my Chilean house mother for nearly an hour trying to explain the word "the manner/way".  One misunderstanding led to another, and before we knew it there were sentences requiring recursion to determine the original word.  Simply put, I needed to define several terms in the sentence before I could ask the question I really wanted to ask.
I had to ask her with what I knew.  I knew how to say "the way", but it was more like "the path".  El camino.
I asked her using these sentences: "El camino en que se peina."  "El camino en que camina."
The way in which she (combs her hair/walks).

I told her it was a metaphorical extension, and after a few minutes she exclaimed: "LA MANERA!"  Sometimes the word we're looking for is not far off at all; we often already know it.  All I needed to do was to say: "The manner in which..." instead of  "The way in which..."  Sometimes it's not this easy, but we still need to know how to ask better questions.

In order for us to ask meaningful questions we often have to ask for parts of speech, but some general words are particularly helpful, such as:
  • Word
  • Verb
  • Place
  • Thing
  • How do you say _____?
  • How do you say ___ in ___ (language)?
  • If ____ then ____.
  • What is ______?

Of course there are a great many things that make communication more useful and effective, but I've found that words, such as these, often help the listener understand what it is we need to know, or the idea that I'm trying to communicate. 

Part of Speech.


Gargantuan Encounters with Foreign Culture

Property of: Worth1000.com

Like hitting a buffalo while driving down the road... You're never going to be the same again, but what if that buffalo became a permanent fixture on your car and added to its functionality and beauty?  That's what it's like when you travel and try to become someone different.

Just a taste of the travel bug will send your life spiraling, down or up I cannot say, until you cast off all else and pursue everything foreign...Everything NOT (whatever I am) is what I became infatuated with.

My first collisions with foreign culture were: 9 days in Costa Rica, and 5 weeks in Chile.  I can tell the story of my life almost in a before/after 2005 fashion.  After that year I was never the same.

What was your gargantuan encounter with foreign culture?  Can you pinpoint a specific time, date, place or experience?  Please do tell.


On Contentment, Part II

Property of: words-chinese.com

In a previous post, I outlined some of the reasons why I chose the word contentment to be my word for the year.  Approximately 7 months later I can tell you that I almost wish that I hadn't chosen that word.  For many reasons it has been a year in which we have lacked much, financially speaking.

Much has gone wrong with our career path and our plans, and essentially nothing that we planned besides our marriage has actually happened.  We have given up the military dream, the navy, and the Cryptologic Linguist job, and broadened our horizons to include most every job.  Not ideal when we are creatures of passion--longing to pursue only what we love at the expense of our financial prosperity.

We have spent nearly one year with my family, living together, and as of late we've had the pleasure of housing my sister and her four children.  That brings the grand total of people in our house to 11.  A lot, you know?  We've been angry, tired, frustrated, and complained about sharing a home and car after marriage.  I would get angry because our plans weren't working out but there is often nothing to be done about it besides letting go of them and moving on.  What do you do when you don't have money?  Nothing.  You do stuff that doesn't cost money and we have had our share of this.  We have been blessed with jobs but they have not been regular and have been unrelated to my studies (Computer Science, Spanish).

After 7 months what have we learned?  God has a reason for letting our life suck, if you'll allow me to use that terminology.  We have been quite angry at times, wondering why God hasn't let us free to be 'successful' like everyone else we know.  Why, God, can everyone else do well and work hard but yet you allow me to sit at home and apply for 5,000 jobs without results?  It's hard to answer those questions.  The answers don't seem to satisfy..

We've learned, although we've known since we were children, that God works things out in a way that is good, and whether or not we agree with it at the time, or ever is going to be up to us.  We could be angry about it but it seems that moving on, seeking new employment in less exciting cities has some merit to it.  My wife's family is still not seeing eye to eye with us in regards to our marriage, but I'm sure that it will come around.  Contentment?  Well, I think we've got a long way to go.  I am sure that we have learned a lot about being content with very little; being content with what we've been given, until we can move forward.


Asking for Forks in Asia

to cause (a person) a painful loss of pride, self-respect, or dignity; mortify. (Dictionary.com)

Nothing cuts down your pride like when you have to ask for a fork in Asia when you can actually use chop sticks.

"...May I please have a fork?  My hand doesn't work."
"Cho, fo-kuh chuseyo.  Son-ul anduessunikka."

When I broke my hand (metacarpal) in Korea I was unable to show off my Level V chop stick mastery.  It hurt because it made me feel like I was just a lame foreigner who was afraid of chop sticks.  Does anyone have similar experiences where you had to do something like this?  It could be speaking English in a foreign country when you know it makes you look ignorant.  You know the feeling, so why don't you tell me your experience?


Shucker's Marketing Campaign

On my way to work I often pass this new Wilmington, NC restaurant: Shucker's.  It's an oyster bar and grill, and maybe we'll go visit it soon enough.  I just couldn't stop thinking about marketing slogans for them; all of which would be hilarious, of course.

 One such example:
"Bring the whole shucking family!"

I think that would really get the locals in the doors.  I hope you have a great day!


Korean Colors with Lyra

There's nothing cooler than practicing foreign languages, but how about practicing when you can teach them to little kids?  While I'm still not an expert in Korean by any means, not remotely, we can still teach others what we know.  Lyra, my niece, was learning a bit about how to say her colors in Korean, with a little help from Olivia, my wife (remember, I'm not an expert yet, we all need help sometimes).

It was one of those moments I think.  Enjoy!


When Your Printer Fights, Fight Back!

Windows 7 with help from manufacturers who want us to buy new products every few years have successfully ended the practical existence of our printer.  Our beloved HP Deskjet 855C.  We just upgraded from Windows XP on my father's computer to Windows 7 64bit.  All has been wonderful except a few things: Printer and Scanner.

Of course you can just buy a new printer and scanner if you have 200$ laying around, but who wouldn't rather spend that money on food or college education?  After researching our problem we realized we had a few problems.  Multiplicity is amazing.  We bought a parallel to USB connector then realized that Windows 7 didn't support our printer.  Crap!  Later we decided to simply hook it up to another network printer running Windows XP.  Crap!  You still have to install the drivers and they don't have them for Windows 7.

--One involves using printing to .ps (Postscript) files, and forwarding them to a postscript compatible printer and life is easy.  Mine didn't work out brilliantly.
--You can print to .ps then convert to .pdf and then print that file via command line!  Easy!  Just a batch script and voila!  Problem: You can't command line print to a non LPT printer, that is, you can't command line print to USB printers without spending $ on software.
--Finally I used Bullzip PDF Printer, in conjunction with a program called Total Folder Monitor and I will outline the steps so you can enjoy this as well.

You need a computer on your network that DOES support your printer, some Windows XP machine will probably work.

On Non-Windows 7 Computer:
1.  Install Total Folder Monitor and create a network shared folder that the machine you want to print from can see.
2.  Tell Total Folder Monitor to print *.pdf (from your shared network folder, from step 1) to your default printer.
3.  After the file is printed (On Success): I chose to delete *.* from the shared directory.  You must delete the file after more than 0 seconds or it will disappear too quickly to print.  Why not delete it 2 minutes after completion?  Sounds great.
4.  You must also save the task and tell it to run as a service; I added the program (onlooker tray) to the startup folder in windows so it runs on boot.

After Installing Total Folder Monitor...
 Step 2: Setting up Total Folder Monitor.

After Setting up, click 'Run Service'. (Step 4).

Step 4: Add to Start Up Folder.
It should look something like this.

On Windows 7 Computer:
5.  Install Bullzip PDF printer.  When you print, just like normal you click print, after you will be shown a save file dialog box.  Safe the file on the network share (The one you set up to print *.pdf files from earlier) and press save.  The filename doesn't matter as long as it is *.pdf where * means anything.  Also, make sure you're saving as .pdf and not another format when printing with BullzipPDF.
6.  After you've saved the file successfully on the network drive it should open and print on the other computer and delete the file after 2-3 minutes.
Step 5: Print Using BullzipPDF and save file...

Pros: Honestly, very easy to do, no command line stuff necessary.
--I don't know if the program is really free.  Bullzip is free, but the other might expire in 2 weeks and I'll be screwed.
--Also, you are not able to change your printing settings on the fly without physically visiting the computer that has the printer attached.
--Can this work with 10 people printing to same directory?  What happens if you print twice, but 175 seconds after the first and it gets deleted prior to being printed?

Conclusion: Not a bad solution.  We bought a new printer 2 days later anyway, but I still feel that I won.  That's all that matters.

-HP: HP Deskjet 855C.
-Total Folder Monitor.
-Bullzip PDF Printer.


MegaLove for MegaCorp Logistics

MegaCorp Logistics Company
Lately I have been working hard at a logistics company called MegaCorp Logistics and couldn't be happier with the staff.  We're all enthusiastic, and I cannot even be sure if it's false or exaggerated!

All of my excitement has caused many to ask: "How's MegaCorp treating you today?" and a typical response around the office is: "Living the dream!"  We've taken our enthusiasm to a degree that is really awkward and personified MegaCorp.

the attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions, especially as a rhetorical figure. (dictionary.reference.com)

 If any of you can remember Fight Club, particularly the scene where the narrator spoke of copying haiku poems and leaving them on the copier, it served as inspiration for this poem:


I yearn for the days when I first saw thee,
The longing in thine heart, from whence we could not,
Return no matter; Oh, upon one knee, longing to be,
Vast like the dark, limitless love untaught.

I hope that someone out there can appreciate this much enthusiasm for a job, even if you're not really in love with your job, it's nice to be able to make everyone smile.  This was an Andrew Cotton original, edited by my co-worker Chris.  Here's to passing more of these around the office to share the MegaCorp spirit.

-Fight Club.
-Fight Club Worker Bee Haiku.
-My brain.


Times Gone Past Worth Remembering

This is a great photo that was found recently--something of my past that had been hidden in a box, tucked away under some mattress.  It's my father and I, hanging out at the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina.  It was Wrightsville Beach to be exact.  I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 in the photo, and my dad looks like a hippie with those chops of his.  He can no longer carry me like this, but I don't think either of us has changed significantly, other than a few minor hiccups.  Enjoy!


On Korean Unification

After a period of nearly three years of silence between the hostile Koreas, opportunity for dialogue has once again resurfaced over a disputed tourist zone. Mount Kumgang tours were suspended when a South Korean tourist was shot and killed in 2008, after wandering into a restricted area unknowingly.

In an effort to promote communication between the North and South we are again left wanting. While hopes are destined to remain high that operations will resume, one can only imagine the demands the North will have in order to restore “normalcy” to the tourist region.

What would appear to be games played by both sides are sadly the normal state of affairs. These games are cyclical and proceed in a typical fashion: The South reaching out for the sake of reunification, and its gratuitous financial investments—The North overreacting, withdrawing and periodically resuming prior conflict-state, following absurd demands in a manner that contrasts that of the South.

Many have friends in abusive, or otherwise dysfunctional relationships and fail to recognize the resemblance it bears to the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the reality of the relationship is that of a marriage in the 1950s: divorce is no solution, nor would it be advisable for the emotionally unstable children of the North.

The dilemma: every act of political strength on behalf of the South leads to more distrust and instability; ignoring problems will result in the South becoming a political doormat for their Northern neighbors.

Extending the marriage analogy further, a particularly relevant quote from G.K. Chesterton illustrates an excellent point:
“Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.”
While it may never appear to be strong to return to the bargaining table at the beckoning of Kim Jung Il, taking the moral high ground will ultimately reveal a true heart of unification. In much the same way that marriage must take of us our whole lives, I believe the investment in reunification to be a most selfless act—requiring vulnerability and perseverance to a degree almost unfathomable.

Wrath, however justifiable, would leave both parties hemorrhaging with little or no hope for recovery. When an innocent citizen loses her life the desire of many is to “make South Korea an island,” but this must not be our response no matter the situation.

Military preparedness and technological superiority must remain a priority, but in the end, a heart ready to make wrongs right, and ears primed for dialogue must always be offered. Is not our goal reunification and reconciliation? Why, then must we seek to be right at the expense of our marriage to maintain a false position of strength and superiority?

Wikipedia: Kumdang Mountain.

*This was written for a job application and represents not only the information from the sources above but from many observations from my two years living in Seoul.*


Subtleties of Apostrophies

While brushing my teeth tonight I had a thought.  Please consider the following:

1.  Staying out of arm's way.
2.  Stayin' out of 'arm's way.
3.  Staying out of arms' way.

Possible interpretations for them could be:

1.  One needs to avoid being in the way of my arm... He might get hit.
2.  One should stay out of the way of harm.
3.  One should avoid both of my arms,
or possibly:  One should avoid places where guns might be used...He might get shot.

You might think I'm a bit strange for allowing permutations of this type to work themselves out in my mind, but what would do you do with your brain while performing such acts?!


Korean At The Office

Korean is the third line from the bottom.
It's not every day in America that I get to see Korean written and with the exception of some computer manuals and Korean products it goes largely unseen.

Today at work I saw this on the printer and was pleasantly surprised to see it.  Sure it's written in 9 languages but I don't let that take away my joy.  It was a Korean moment and only I could really appreciate it because no one else has mad Korean skills like I do, but I can say without a doubt that no one else here really cares as much as I do!

원고면을 상으로 셋트하여 주십시오.

Ahhh... Now that makes me a feel 'normal' again.  Does anyone else have these moments when they see other languages written, or hear them spoken?  Doesn't it make you feel at ease just knowing that you understand it?


Asian Ear Wax Is Different

While living in Seoul I discovered for the first time a timeless truth: Asian ear wax is different from mine.  Our first clue to this discovery was realizing that Asians typically have one side Q-tip and one side scoop.  They even have wooden ear cleaners that consist of only an ear scoop.

This seemed very odd to me but it didn't seem any reason for alarm.  Once back in the states we used our ear scoop on my friend's wife and our video was put on youtube resulting in a considerable number of views.  Odd, huh?  Anyway, someone pointed it out and after researching it is completely true.

There are two distinct genetically determined types of earwax: the wet type, which is dominant, and the dry type, which is recessive. While Asians and Native Americans are more likely to have the dry type of cerumen (gray and flaky), white and black peoples are more likely to have the wet type (honey-brown to dark-brown and moist).  (Wikipedia)

I never realized that something like ear wax could actually be different in Asians but here I am, standing next to my wife laughing about our differences.  These are the little joys of a bi-racial relationship--every day a discovery!

**Please try to ignore my voice--I am trying to narrate but I think I'm obnoxious!

Wikipedia: Earwax.


Like Ivan Ilyich, So The Military

Image Property of: The Fast Horse Blog
With the greatest sense of irony I finished reading Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" and watched what was left of a man accept his fate, that is death.  Just an hour earlier I received a phone call from my Navy recruiter who informed me that my request for a waiver had been denied based upon my "excessive myoptic index" or something that sounds like that--I would say something that 'looks like that' but we all know I cannot really see anyway.  Heh.

Long story short?  I'm not going into the military and we're left to find out where we will be going in the future, but not without help from above. 

Before when things were not working out we would have never been sure of our path if the military option had not been barred and now we can be absolutely certain that it was not the path for us.  In a way that is almost as definitive as death we know that there is nothing left to pursue.  Now we shall proceed, but in what direction I cannot be completely sure!  Fiat voluntas Dei.

Here's to hope and a surprising future.

Wikipedia: The Death of Ivan Ilyich.


Cueva del Pirata, Part II

 Due to the unusually high number of quality photos from the last post, I have decided to extend it with the majority of the sunset photos.  I hope you have enjoyed the pictures so far, and hope that these live up to their introduction.  These are some of my personal favorites!  Please see Part I here if you haven't already.

This is above the cave, where the water pours in.

Chilean sunset bliss, plus birds.  Un atardecer celestial.

Ronnie, my Chilean brother stands out on a ledge.

A victory chant of Biblical proportions.

Up close and personal: too close, actually, I got wet!


Untimely Hardware Explosions

I do not know about you, but when your hardware explodes and your computer crashes it sends lightening bolts of pain through my veins.  We have multiple computers in my house, and we have a lot of people living here so we really do need the computers!  

Computer #1 for some time had reoccurring video problems, all of which seemed to be related to watching Netflix movies and Microsoft's Silverlight plugin.  This changed and then the computer stopped booting.  I pulled out the card and sure enough it was loaded with dust, although I had cleaned it recently it was enough to cause it to overheat.  The capacitors, located above the fan/heatsink and at bottom right of photo, small silver circular things, exploded and they zapped the motherboard.  We ran some checks, unplugged everything, memtest86+ and all, and we're confident that it's just the motherboard.

Computer #2 crashed a couple of days later while Dad was scanning.  His was not really easy to determine either.  However, after removing the motherboard completely we did realize it had some capacitors which looked fried and it was 5+ years old... We bought a new motherboard, processor, memory, hard drive and copy of Windows 7, so it's basically heaven now.  We have even gotten him set up on dual screens in his office so he can really have a good time multi-tasking to his heart's desire.  Sweet.

Words of warning?  Occasionally de-dust your computer, or you'll probably mess it all up.  Sure I looked occasionally but sometimes it's just not enough.  Also, if you're upgrading to Windows 7 you can count on your older printer not working, and probably your scanner too.  I will post soon about how you can get around your printer woes by being smarter than your hardware :)  I hope you've enjoyed this post of Nerds R Us and we'll continue with the regular cultural updates in the near future!

Wikipedia: Capacitors.
Wikipedia: Capacitor Plague.


Much More MEPS--Where's My Contract?

In recent news...

I visited MEPS in Raleigh for my physical and was disqualified based upon my terrible vision (-9.50 in both eyes, colorblind, etc.) but I will be eligible for a waiver.  Now I have simply done a 'hand written statement' saying that I am normal as long as I wear glasses or contacts and it is in the process of being approved by some big shots in Tennessee.

My birthday was on July 7th and my wife baked a cake for me--pictures will follow in the next post probably.  We visited a Thai restaurant and ate Pho, a delicious noodle soup with meat broth and thinly sliced beef, fresh basil and sprouts.  Amazing.  We even topped it all off with a trip to the local Mexican restaurant, El Cerro Grande, and enjoyed a couple margaritas and fried ice cream.  Who could have possibly asked for anything better?

While I do not have a signed contract with the Navy I can say that I'm almost there.  It's also possible we'll land another interesting job soon, depending on the results of some important bid, but it's all 'in the works'.  We've been learning how to deal with life in a daily basis, watching our plans go sour and get replaced with different plans :)  It's a process!  No contract with the Navy?  Maybe next time!


Love for lunch

Heart shaped bell pepper slices

Something that I get to enjoy every day is my wife's wonderful lunch.  She gets up early with me just to make me a sandwich, a salad, a snack and whatever else she can get her hands on that's fresh and delicious.

This week my lunch has had fresh strawberries, last week fresh blueberries atop a salad with feta cheese and Ken's Light Asian Sesame Dressing, which unfortunately comes with MSG :(  But it sure is good.

Lately we've favored Rye bread for our sandwiches since we found it for 1.98$ a loaf at Sam's Club.  It has given us great joy to shop and buy in bulk, those few ingredients which we need to eat like this, and I'm sure we're saving money.

Sitting down for lunch to enjoy a ham, turkey, chicken and habanero cheese sandwich on rye, accompanied by sea salt kettle cooked chips and a side of fresh vegetables, it's easy to see my wife loves me.  If I eat this way I'm sure to live a long time and have the pleasure of being at my wife's side.  I took this picture of my bell peppers and sent it to her--I hope that everyone can recognize it's resemblance to a heart--because that's what it's supposed to be.  When you eat well that means you're loved and I think this is one of the many joys of being a wife and/or mother--three times a day you can show your love.  Simply amazing every single day.  Thanks, wifey, sarang haeyo!


Daily Twists and Turns of Life

In a previous post entitled "Sinking the Navy to Go Army" I described our military entrance circumstances and how we had left the Navy recruiter to greener pastures at the Army.  Needless to say our circumstances have changed!  After a period of nearly a month and with no return phone calls reality began to set in.  We subsequently set our sights on new opportunities, none of which has been successful to date, but we are very hopeful that something or even multiple somethings will open up for us.

Last week, nearly two months after we began talking with the Army someone called and told me there were no jobs for what I wanted to do, that is, Crypto Linguist.  He did, however, have some encouraging news and referred me to the Navy recruiter who could promise me a job.  We have officially left the Army to talk with Navy recruiters (again) and could have a result this week, Lord willing.

For anyone and everyone interested in becoming a linguist in the military: be prepared to wait, especially if you have traveled extensively, have a foreign wife, a mother who was conveniently born in Canada, and a broken metacarpal with no supporting medical documents.  This is not a good time to be looking for employment, especially if you are seeking a job which requires a security clearance.  We're being a bit choosy but it just so happens to be one of our dreams so I think it's important to stick with it.

...[a few days later, but before the post was actually published]
I have been sent to Raleigh MEPS and while en route was called and told that something had been messed up and that I would need to come straight back on the van and go again at a later date.  Fortunately for me, I have been thrown around quite a bit and almost expected something of this nature.  We had been told on multiple occasions that we were going to go to MEPS and then cancelled before I ever got on the van; this time I was actually on it and had to come home.  Next week I hope to make it all the way to Raleigh, stay the night, and swear in to the military.  Let's cross our fingers and see what happens.

Who would have thought it would be this much fun to join the military?  Is anyone else out there trying to join the military, be it in the USA or in another country?


Cueva del Pirata, Part I

Located in Quintero, Chile, Region V (1 of 15 different regions), we find this gem that I visited with my Chilean family in 2005.  This is another trip from the Study Abroad program I did in the Summer of that year, and am I ever glad that I took pictures AND video.  It is still as stunning today as it was 6 years ago!  One conundrum I always faced when snapping a lot of photos was: "If I take this many photos, am I really enjoying the landscape?  If I take fewer photos will my memory preserve the true scenes better than the actual photos?"

I don't think that the answer is ever simple to something like that, however, I do know that you are not able to see posts of what's inside my head.  Without further a dieu:

My Chilean family, minus Mima! From left to right, back to front: Margarita, Ronnie, Valeria.

The ground-level view of the two previous photos. 

Chilean sunsets and whitewash.
Entering the cave.

Wikipedia: Regions of Chile, Region V: Valparaíso.
Google Maps: Quintero, Chile.