let the drinking begin!

Ah, the new school year has begun. How do I know? Why, because the night streets are filled with drunken people stumbling around, of course! You know the school year has officially begun when at night you can't tell the local crazies from the local undergrads, each stumbling around and following random people down the sidewalk.

In honor of the new school year, I'd like to draw your attention to a historical fact that had escaped my attention until now. During the Thirty Years War, a certain German town was held under seige. It seems that all the citizens were facing impending doom...unless, that is, one man could pound down three liters of wine, in which case the town would be spared. Terror reigned supreme until one brave soul stepped forward and accepted the challenge. He chugged, saved the town, and died. To this day, the town enacts the story every year in the play Der Meistertrunk. Now that's war. Fratboy style.


jonbenet ramsey, and other things of great importance

And we're back. I was hoping to mark my glorious return to Tortia by spilling the beans on where in Thailand John Karr, the JonBenet weirdo, had been working. He had just been fired from an international school before getting arrested and, having worked at a Bangkok international school myself, I was curious where he was working. None of the news sources were reporting it, but through a variety of clues gathered on tv and the internet, I managed to figure out he was at Bangkok Christian College, a fairly respected international school. However, I turned on the tv today and saw that a CNN reporter was giving his report from right in front of the school sign, thus beating me to the punch. Oh well. The real question in all of this is why in the world the news networks are taking a ten-year-old murder case more seriously than, say, genocide in Darfur. I'm not exactly a cause-hopping hippie, but the priorities still seem a bit mixed up to me. At any rate, Bangkok Christian College. That's my scoop, day late and a dollar short.

And now for a quick summary of the Thailand trip:

There was Thai food.

There were temples.

There were stray dogs.

There was a ride on a river taxi.

There were not tsunamis (though there were now tsunami warning signs, unfortunately absent when they had been most needed).

And finally, alas, there was not Kim Jong Il (pictured below looking mighty fine and vaguely matrix-esque). That's because of all the days we could have had a layover in Seoul, we chose Korean Liberation Day, when no one is allowed to visit the DMZ. Darn you, liberated Koreans! We considered going into Seoul during our layover, but upon researching the matter, found that a bus ride to and from Seoul would cost $30 per person. So forget that. Instead, we spent over 11 hours walking around the airport. I did convince my wife to go through immigration with me, however, so we could get a passport stamp, thus authorizing me to make broad and knowing statements about the Korean people and culture, seeing as how I've spent time there myself, you know. From now on, I get bonus points for each sentence I speak that begins with the words In my experience, I've found the Korean people to be.... Three cheers for pretentiousness.

All that mockery aside, I do have one observation to make. In researching the DMZ and related things, there seemed to be a general trend of the South Koreans wanting to unite in peace and harmony, dreaming of a better future as a joyous and whole Korea, etc. One doesn't get the same vibe, however, when dealing with the North Koreans (or at least with their government). The disconnect seems slightly ironic. It's like a church I visited one Sunday for a class, which was also housing a black congregation that had to evacuate its own building because of asbestos. During the first service, which was for the people who owned the church, the speaker kept talking about how happy they were to have the black church there, and how they hoped to make it a permanent arrangement. Then when the black congregation held their service afterwards, their speaker kept talking about how it was only a few more weeks until they could fly the coop, thank goodness. Apparently the two sides weren't exactly on the same wavelength, which is the impression I got concerning the two Koreas. One's tying yellow peace ribbons with prayers of hope near the friendship bridge, and the other's secretly digging tunnels capable of transporting a whole division of an invading army in an hour. But then, I guess my observations of a "disconnect in Korea" aren't all that revelatory.

(Kim Jong Il: Hero. Heart-throb.)


dmz, yeah you know me

Tomorrow, I'm gone. Because that's when my wife, in-laws, and I hop on a plane to Thailand. I'm very excited about this, but since I am supposed to actually be packing right now, I don't have time to tell you just how excited I am. I will tell you, however, that we have a nearly twelve hour layover in Seoul on our way back. My plan? Visit the DMZ. If you click on the link and it sounds awesome, that's because it is. My wife, however, made me promise that I won't tell her mom where we're going until we're all actually there.

And one other thing. I'm normally not one to download cell phone ringtones, but I broke down the other day and downloaded a MIDI of Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby. Best...investment...ever.