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?