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The biggest majorest computer cataclysm I’ve ever had happened a few weeks ago. I got up early on Saturday morning to talk to my family on the computer. They had gathered at my grandfather’s house and had set up a web cam for everyone to use to talk to me. For weeks I had had the computer case open so I could fix whatever problems came up. I had recently installed a motherboard and a new master hard drive. There had been no problems for a while, I decided it was time to close the case and slide it back under the computer desk. As I slid it, there was a zapping sound and the computer went dark. The fan would run, but nothing else happened. I went through and checked everything.

Everything.

I’d later come to find that a perfect storm of circumstances caused an electrical jolt that fried everything except my mouse pad. Actually, two out of the three hard drives seem to have come out unscathed. Yet the jolt even killed the mouse. It killed the freakin’ mouse!

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I believe it was a combination of an old computer case that wasn’t grounded properly, an old monitor that increased the “shock factor” on the case whenever I plugged it in, and a power bar that was getting long in the tooth. Needless to say, the computer case increasingly shocked me whenever I touched it.

<Start Geek Mode>

Luckily, Eun Jeong was in a positive mood about this–in the sense that she okayed me to buy whatver I needed to get the computer running again. Gradually we bought part after part through G-Market, a Korean web site. Here’s what I got(for the insanely geeky):

– Intel Core 2 Quad Processor 2.40 GHz

– Gigabyte S-series Motherboard (to handle the processor)

– Aone Twins 2.2 Power Supply (to handle the motherboard)

– X-Clio Computer Case, with three fans, docking bays that don’t require screws, transparent side window, cool blue lights, and looks like a jet engine

– LG Flatron LCD Flat Screen Monitor

– Computer Chair (the other one broke almost a year ago)

In the meantime, Eun Jeong acquired a nicer computer desk from her school, which was giving stuff away as it went through renovations.

I gradually got the parts in the mail and started putting it together. I then noticed that I had bought a motherboard that was too advanced for the parts I already had. For one thing, it mainly used SATA drive connections rather than the traditional IDE connections. It only had one IDE connection. An IDE connection can handle, at most, two drives. I had three hard drives and a CD-ROM drive. So it looked like I’d either have to get a different motherboard or new SATA hard drives.

I also ordered two 500GB SATAs.

I found that it didn’t accept the DDR memory sticks I had. It only accepted DDR2, so I ordered some more gigs of memory.

I’ve also gone to E-Mart and bought a new (hopefully more stable) power bar and a better mouse. Hopefully this is all I’ll need to get for a while.

</End Geek Mode>

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I hope I can remember to type it all.

Criminal Libel Dropped

The big thing is that the prosecutor has agreed with the Anyang Police and has decided not to prosecute me. She asked me to come to Suwon to get the paperwork filed. We headed down there (it takes a while by bus), I got my thumbprint done, and it was done.

I then got a call later that day. Turned out that since I’m a foreigner, a simple thumb print doesn’t suffice. They had to get all ten of my fingerprints plugged into a computer database. I guess foreigner fingerprints are more ably falsified than Korean fingerprints. Or, even when innocent, foreigners need to have their fingerprints in a criminal database.

So we had to return the next day. The process took a long time because the computer had a hard time registering my fingerprints. Nonetheless, it’s all over. The criminal libel situation (spawned from this blog) is behind us.

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While driving back from Suwon, though, I did notice some of the new robot traffic cops.

Good Boyfriend Day

We had a holiday on a Tuesday (Constitution Day), and I used it as a day to dote on Eun Jeong. We went shopping at her favorite local clothes shops, and we had Vietnamese for lunch. We then shopped for jewelry. She got some earrings and bought me a silver chain bracelet. Since then, her attitude has been a lot more pleasant.

Sunday with Brant

Got to meet up with my old buddy Brant in Itaewon two Sundays ago. His very pregnant wife had been involved in a nurses strike that didn’t turn out so well. We first met at a new Australian pub that turned out to be just as Australian as Outback Steak House, which means not Australian at all. We ordered the closest thing to an Australian dish on the menu, which was their meat pie. It was soggy and depressing. The fries were okay, actually very good. The service was trying too hard, though. Have you ever had service like that? It’s like that in new restaurants, where they seem desperate to get customers, and the desparation is evident in their constant attention, over friendliness, and asking how every single thing is–even if the beers were okay (as if they brewed and bottled them themselves).

The Australian place was my idea. As usual, it was a disappointment. Brant took me to an Irish pub behind Gecko’s, called the Wolfhound. I think I’m the only foreigner who didn’t know of its existence. It’s now my new favorite place in Itaewon. They have a great Anglo-Gaelic menu with prices that compete with Gecko’s. The service was a bit aloof. I have heard that later from other people too.

We ordered some Guinesses, and I was still hungry. I saw that they had Toad-in-a-Hole on the menu. I had heard of it but had never tried it before. I honestly had never had Yorkshire Pudding before, and it was just one of those things that seem ordinary to Britons but it a little exotic to someone like me.

The cook brought it up the stairs and served it to me. People in the room stared at it. It looked like a giant cow turd on mashed potatoes.

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Yet the taste was amazing! Sausages wrapped in the beefy Yorkshire Pudding pastry on top of creamy mashed potatoes with a brown onion gravy. Oh, that’s comfort food!

Brant and I talked about old times. He then talked about a guy we knew in Ansan. I had mentioned him on the blog in the early days. He was someone I kinda liked, but he annoyed–even infuriated–everyone else he met. He liked to brag about getting drunk and even carried vodka and orange juice in his bag in case there was a spontaneous party. I had heard that some people at a bar spit in his beer once. Brant wondered, “Whatever happened to him?”

“Oh, I doubt he stayed here very long. He had a hard time making friends.”

A few minutes later, we heard a guy trying to introduce himself to a table of women next to us, bragging about how he had gotten drunk the previous evening. I looked to my left and then looked at Brant, mouthing the words, “No, it isn’t.”

Brant mouthed back, “Yes, it is.”

Two minutes after he sat down, the women got up and left. He moseyed to another table, talking about soju. He introduced himself as “Sheldon,” which a different name than we knew him by. I then made some connections and guessed that he was the same Sheldon that some of us see on certain big blogs online and in a now defunct expat magazine.

Wow!

Can you plan a bigger coincidence?

Brant and I then headed to Yongsan to see if we could catch a movie. Everything we wanted to see was sold out. We did get a chance to play with the Simsons Movie display.

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We then played some video games and wandered around the big bookstore there. I bought some fake mustaches to use in the movies at CEA. We then called it a night and headed back to our suburbian outreaches of Seoul.

Vacation – Museum and Myeong-dong

Our weeklong summer vacation has begun. We were talking about going somewhere, but we have decided to save the money instead–again. Two years ago, it was a visa run to Osaka. Last year, we had no money because of my legal problems with the School-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named. We really did nothing last year. So I wanted to at least do something around our area. Eun Jeong, for once, agreed.

On Saturday, I had finally convinced her to check out the new National Museum just across the river. She was very impressed. The grounds looked very nice, and we were both impressed by the attention to detail in the gardening and architecture.

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It was the fourth Saturday of the month, so admission was free. That also meant that most all the PDAs and MP3 players that they rent as personal guides were all taken. That was okay. Eun Jeong isn’t like me. I like reading and learning about every single detail. Eun Jeong raced through the museum to get to the two areas she wanted to see the most: Koguryo era, and Balhae era.

Why?

Two of her favorite costume dramas take place in those times. Obviously, other Koreans felt the same attraction. Those areas were a bit crowded.

After going through the archaological section of the museum, which is only one-sixth of the entire building, Eun Jeong’s feet got too sore. She suggested I go explore on my own while she read a book and relaxed. I went upstairs to the Asian art sections, which I had never been to before. I was impressed by what I saw. The museum has relics from all over Asia, from India to Japan. One of the coolest pieces was a big Buddha head from Indonesia that looked like a durian–or a Buddhist interpretation of Sonic the Hedgehog.

We had done my thing. Eun Jeong’s feet had recovered. We took the subway to Myeong-dong to do her thing–shopping.

We were both starving, and we were thrilled to find a Japanese restaurant that specialized in fresh ramen noodles. I ordered the pork rib noodles, and Eun Jeong ordered ramen in miso broth. Mine tasted very much like the Hakata Ramen I had in Fukuoka, Japan. The noodles were not curly. They were straight, more yellow, and a little sweeter than what we are used to getting in deep fried and dried packages.

We did some shopping. Eun Jeong found a new skirt and blouse that worked well together (thanks to my eye for color and the clerk who agreed with me). She also got some flip flops.

Then something caught her eye.

A shoe store was having a 90% off sale. There was a line outside the store, and the clerk was letting people in one at a time. Eun Jeong commented, “What? That’s crazy!”

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A flash of a second later, she was standing in line with the other people she called crazy. I myself wandered around Myeong-dong a little more. I got some ice cream from Cold Stone (to compliment the gelato we had already eaten earlier).

When I had finished my ice cream, Eun Jeong was still in the store. She called me on my phone.

“Joe, I don’t know which ones to get. There are two that I really like.”

“They’re ninety percent off. How much are they?”

“Man won (10,000 won, or $10).”

“Oh my God, you’re kidding me. Get both of them, you silly freak.”

She was so happy to get her new shoes. And they do look good on her. We had another Japanese meal and went home. Eun Jeong was so tired when she got home, she swore to not leave the house for the rest of vacation.

That didn’t last long.

On Sunday, on a whim, she climbed the mountain with me. I had found another trail than the one I usually take. It’s a dirt trail and snakes around to the mountain on the other side of our apartment. On top of there are some ancient stone relics from the Koryeo dynasty and–a couple of indoor badminton courts. We also found an archery range on the other side of the mountain.

Vacation – Seoul Land

On Monday, Eun Jeong took my half-joking suggestion to go to the Seoul Land amusement park seriously. She had told me before that she never understood the attraction to amusement parks. She hates rollercoasters and any ride that makes here stomach lurch. So it surprised me that she suggested we actually go.

We had some business to take care of first. She had to go to the bank to get bills paid. I went to E-Mart to get the previously mentioned mouse and power bar. I dropped them off at the apartment and met Eun Jeong at the KB Bank in Beomgye. We had a nice Korean lunch and some “popping sue” at the Lotteria next door.

Then it was off to Seoul Grand Park.

I think the reason she decided to go to Seoul Land was the fact that we watch the Ju Ju Club show every Sunday. It’s a show about animals that seems to follow a strict formula. It features an animal act somewhere, then someone with a monkey, then someone dealing with misbehaving dogs. Eun Jeong was greatly impressed by the dolphin shows on TV, and she wanted to see it for herself.

As an aside, she has been changing a lot lately, I think because of that Ju Ju Club show. She, like many Koreans I have encountered, has felt uncomfortable, even scared, around animals. Now she wants a dog. She even is starting to like cats. She is also checking into horse riding lessons at the Seoul Racecourse Park.

The dolphin show is in the zoo, not in Seoul Land. It’s not really a problem because admission to the zoo and the dolphin show itself are very cheap. While we were there, I saw that they had been improving the zoo a lot. The animals seemed to be in better enclosures, and they were working on other enclosures. There was also a little African theming going on there with much better signs in front of each exhibit. Also, at zoos, I’m used to animals lazing around or hiding from the public. Maybe it was the heat, but many of the animals were very active that day. The hippos opened their wide jaws, the rhinos tramped around, and the little savannah creatures ran and bounded back and forth.

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The dolphin theater was toward the rear of the park. Poor Eun Jeong’s feet were getting sore in her flip flops. The show was a lot of fun. The seals and dolphins were greatly entertaining. I wish I could have a seal for a pet or swim with the dolphins. I noticed on the zoo map that they had other shows and public feedings during the day.

So, if you’ve been to the Seoul zoo and have been unimpressed, I recommend giving it another try. If the show we saw was any indication, it’s worth more than the trip and admission.

We got to Seoul Land after 5 P.M., which meant discounted night tickets (one of those secrets that many people don’t know about). We got even deeper discounts because one of Eun Jeong’s credit cards qualified for some program.

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We walked around a bit. Eun Jeong got a lemon-lime ice slushy. We stood in line for our first ride, the log flume. She was nervous about getting on, the closer we got. The line was deceptively long, especially since they weren’t combining different groups on log flumes. There were quite a few that went by with only one passenger.

When we got on, it was a little romantic. The sun was setting, and the flume was weaving among the trees. Then came the big climb and the double drop into the water. Eun Jeong screamed directly into my left ear. She said she was scared, but there was a look in her eye that she enjoyed it.

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Our next stop was the International Diving Show. I think this is some troupe that goes around the world and does a pirate themed water diving show. It was good fun. The stunts were cool. We got there too late to see the part where a guy get lit on fire and dives into the water.

Then we rode a dark ride where you shoot targets. Eun Jeong got 120 points. I got 10. She will never let me live that one up.

She then started getting braver–she wanted to go on the Kiddie Coaster. While in line for the ride, there was a monitor showing off other rides in the park. She pointed to the ride called the “World Cup,” and said, “I want to do that.”

This was a thrill ride with spinning cars that tilted vertically. The woman who was nervous about getting on the Kiddie Coaster wanted to ride that?

The Kiddie Coaster was fun for her. For me, it was the first of many experiences at Seoul Land where I was uncomfortably too big for the ride vehicles.

We raced to find the World Cup ride. It had already grown dark, and the line at the ride was not long at all. We only had to wait for one session of the ride before we got on ourselves. Again, she aboslutely loved the ride. She pulled me onto another thrill ride–the one you always see at county fairs that goes in humps around a circle and has a rock ‘n’ roll theme.

It was then that I wanted to get on a real rollercoaster. The entrance to the big one that weaves through the park is hard to find. It’s near the rear entrance, and it’s called Black Hole 2000. There was almost no line for this one either. Surprisingly, Eun Jeong got on with me. The car was a bit cramped for my legs, and the cars rattled so much my neck hurt. Nonetheless, it was a perfect way to ride the ride. We climbed up the chain launch at night–then the fireworks started going off. It was great.

Eun Jeong closed her eyes the entire ride and was so scared that she didn’t scream. I was happy that she went on a rollercoaster with me and promised never to ask her to do something like that again. She seemed to like it, though. She said she liked it more than she expected. So then she pulled me to the next ride–Crazy Mouse.

Crazy Mouse goes under the category of crazy mouse coaster (at least it does in Roller Coaster Tycoon). It’s a compact rollercoaster with individual cars that wind around a curving and humpy track. It didn’t rattle like the other rollercoaster, and Eun Jeong quickly proclaimed it her favorite ride. She wanted to ride it again immediately, but I suggested we get something to eat. I had noticed that the food stands were closing down.

And there came another thing that impressed me about Seoul Land. Before, it seemed like a cheap version of Disney World. But now, I’d say it’s more like a better themed Six Flags. And the food is much better than Six Flags–possibly comparable to something you’d find at Disney outside of Epcot. There’s a little haven of traditionally themed Korean restaurants in the center of the park. You get your meal tickets from a booth, and then you go to the specific house to get your food. Eun Jeong got a beef rice soup, and I got some spicy cold noodles. They both were better, and cheaper, than I expected to find at an amusement park. A side note, they also serve makkoli and Hite beer there for 3,000 won a glass (500cc).

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(Doing “Beth Smiles”)

After dinner, we wandered a bit around the park. We got to a pavillion next to a fountain and lied down a bit, watching the full moon and the stars.

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We then got up to ride our final ride of the evening–Bumper Cars. And this became, hands down, Eun Jeong’s favorite ride ever. In fact, I think she’s going to want to return to the park just so she can ride the Bumper Cars again.

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I think that’s all the big stuff we’re going to try this vacation. I apologize to my friends (Regina, in particular) for being anti-social lately. I felt like withdrawing for a while and concentrating on an oft neglected girlfriend.

And now… Kids with Mustaches…

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