Welcome

I guess you are here because you have discovered one of my books and enjoyed it enough to find out more about the author, me. Either that or you’re a potential employer who is investigating me to see if I would be a good fit for your organization. In which case, surprise, I write books as well as teach. Some might look at that as a bad thing, and if so, please explain to me how.

For whoever finds my site, I want to welcome you, and also allow you the opportunity to follow me on a regular basis. Anybody is welcome as long as you keep your posts appropriate, and respect the other followers to this site. As long as everybody follows those two simple rules, I won’t have to kick anybody off. Let the friendly banter begin.

I am hoping to create an interactive site that everybody can enjoy. Of course, I will keep you up to date on the latest writings coming out of my head, and I will also let you know when and where I will be in the world, so someday you might be able to meet me in person. Most people regret that decision, but who knows, maybe you’ll be in the minority.

I will also tell you about my world-wide travels as this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll show you pictures from places I have been (this one is from Dubrovnik, better known to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire as King’s Landing), and tell you the exciting stories that happen to me along the way. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you may have about the place I have been, and I will try to answer them in a timely manner.

I know it all sounds amazing, and I can see you wondering why you haven’t been a part of this fantastic experience so far, but let me tell you about the most exciting part of following this site – the interactive part.  You were probably wondering when I would get to that part I had promised you earlier. Well, I plan to create a list every month, and I want you to participate in its formation. I do love countdowns, but I am always disappointed in them. So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. You will be able to post your top ten of each monthly list and at the end of each month, I will comprise the total list to give you the countdown for that subject. Look for each new subject on the first day of each month, and the final list of the previous month by the fifteenth.

Otherwise, it is very nice to have you a part of this experience, and I look forward to all of our future posts together.

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A Day in the Park – Around the World Day 3

Sundays in Europe are different than anywhere else that I know of it the world. Things shut down, forcing people to take it a little slower. It is a time to spend with family and friends and enjoy the outdoors. It is not about work or shopping. In fact, most big stores shut down for the day, and a lot of the smaller tourist places will not peddle their wares. In fact it is the perfect day to spend at a park, and Barcelona has one of the greatest parks to spend the day at, Park Guell, designed by the architect of this great city, Antonio Gaudi.

This park has so many interesting things to look at around every corner. There are strange pillars that force you to stare at them making you wonder how they can withstand the weight of the structures they are designed to hold up. But like everything Gaudi designed, they have a touch of a natural element to them, yet they are still structurally sound. They make the architecture out in Barcelona different than any other place in the world. And if you do make it out here, make sure you take the time to look at them closely because things are carved into them that you would not expect to be there, and the surprise of finding them is part of the fun.

There is also a long park bench that winds itself around a plaza overlooking the city. It is a great place to sit back and relax for a bit and watch the throng of tourists trying to get their pictures at the perfect spot. I could easily spend an hour or two sitting there watching the people and trying to guess from which part of the world they come from. It would also be a nice place to picnic, but they will not allow you to bring in food in this part of the park. I suspect it is to keep the pigeons out of the area so they do not stain the mosaic design that you can find on the bench.

But there are a bunch of benches and tables out in the free part of the park. Christine and I bought a couple of jimon sandwiches with us to enjoy. We were lucky to find a small store open that was selling them before we left and we had many jealous looks from people when they saw our foresight as to make sure we had something to snack on. These sandwiches are really good too. Jimon is a thinly sliced ham that is unique to Spain. They put it on a crispy baguette with a fresh tomato sauce to add just the right amount of flavor. It was the perfect way to spend lunch on this relaxing Sunday.

There is also the views of the city from atop the hill. We were able to watch the ships pulling into the bay and the major city sites scattered among the concrete jungle. If you look closely in the middle of the picture you can see the Sagrada Familia, another Gaudi wonder, and one we will be visiting tomorrow.

The best views are from the Spanish mission on the south end of the park, but it does get packed with people and there are no rails so there were times where I felt like I might fall from this great height.

It was still the best thing to do on this lazy Sunday in Barcelona. It made me feel as if I was getting some culture, yet at the same time I was able to relax a little bit so I didn’t feel like I was trying to suck too much out of my vacation. It also gave me some more insight into one of my favorite architects, Gaudi, and made me excited about going back to the Sagrada Familia tomorrow. It had been almost eleven years since I have been there, and I am interested to see how it has changed during that time.

Fighting Jetlag – Around the World Day 2

Yes, it took a long plane ride through the night, but we finally arrived in Barcelona, Spain, and were able to go and look at the statue of Columbus pointing east over the Mediterranean Sea. (Yeah, I’m just as confused as you are.) I was excited about getting to explore this great city, but I had one big problem, my head still floated in a different time zone. So like so many other travelers who hop from continent to continent, I tried to figure out how to get over my jetlag so I could enjoy my trip with a clear head. I had an even harder time with this time because we arrived at 8 o’clock in the morning and we had the whole day to deal with this feeling before we could go to sleep and try to adjust to the time zone that we were in. So I thought I would share with you how I attacked this problem, and hopefully they will help you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

First off, never lie down. That will kill you every time. Even if you think that you are just doing it to rest for a little bit so you can recover from the way your eyelids feel super heavy, it will not help you. You will eventually close your eyes and you will never recover from the mistake. You will find yourself waking up at two o’clock in the morning ready to take on the day. Which if you find yourself in Barcelona, it might not be a big problem because the bars stay open until 4 o’clock in the morning, but what will you do after that?

Because you shouldn’t lie down, the obvious thing to do is to walk around the neighborhood and check out the sights. It will keep your mind active and it will also allow you to know where the things you really want to see are. I suggest that you do not go into the museums and the cathedrals yet because you will not be able to enjoy them the way that you are hoping to, but there will enough going on around you that will allow you to keep you awake. It is also when your freak radar is on high alert, and you will see some of the greatest moments on your trip, things that will make you laugh, like people dancing to jazz music across Spanish plazas, or strange advertisements pasted on stores to attract you interest.

If though I recommend that you do not go into anything significant, that does not mean that you can’t still get a cultural experience. Hey, that is part of the reason we travel in the first place. The best way to do this is to enjoy the architecture of the city that you find yourself in. Europe has a lot to offer in this department, and I had found a new corner of Barcelona that I did not know existed. I always assumed that it was a more modern city ruled by the art work on Antonio Gaudi,  but I discovered the medieval part of the city that was built on the ruins of Roman buildings. It has amazing gothic buildings and give you the feeling that you are in Europe. Find this part of the city you are in because there is a treasure around every corner that you turn.

Lastly, find the crowds and enjoy the local cuisine. Your mind not be in the right place to have deep conversations with these people, and if you don’t speak the language really well, you are not going to be able to do it anyways. But it is fun to people watch. There are so many stories in a city like Barcelona, and you can exercise your mind by trying to tell them. You will also be able to start to pick out the difference between the locals, and the ones who are out there for vacation. (Don’t worry, they are doing the same thing with you.) It is a great way to exercise your brain without making a big fool out of yourself, and as a writer, it is a great way to collect stories for later use.

The food is really important too. Don’t go big on your first day. You will have an opportunity later to have that relaxing meal that you are looking for. Try to sample the local flavors. If you find yourself in Spain, you can do this by eating tapas. They are small bites that allow you to taste a little here and little there. It also allows you the pleasure of hopping from place to place. You can have a small tapas at one place than you can skip across the street to try a different one over there. It will engage you enough to keep you awake and willing to stay up even though your eyes my burn and your head might float around the stratosphere.

There are many other things that you can do to try to get over jetlag, and people are always willing to offer their advice on the subject, but these are the things that help me. You might still want to go to bed early and that is okay. I went to sleep last night at 8 o’clock which is ridiculous, but I was able to sleep throughout the whole evening and woke up at 6 o’clock to take on the second day in this city. Each night I will stay up later and later and within a couple of days I will be on this time zone, and I won’t be up at weird times wondering what I will do while others are sleeping.

Taking Pictures of People Taking Pictures – Around the World Day 1

It is summertime and for a teacher that means taking a much needed break. For an international teacher that means reconnecting with loved ones, and taking in a little bit of the world in the process. This year, we have gotten really ambitious by taking a trip around the world. It is more exotic than it sounds because in reality I am only stopping at a couple of places, namely Spain, Portugal, Colorado, Oregon, and then back to Seoul for another school year. And even though there are not a lot of stops along the way, it is still literally a trip around the world. We will constantly be traveling west until we reach our original destination.

Of course these means starting some place, and experiencing the wonders of air travel. It is always a weird experience, and there is always something that makes these trips unusual for us. Every day presents us with new stories that we will tell over the years, and those stories came quick this time.

It all started with trying to leave. There is always the fun of making sure that we have cleared out the fridge for the six week trip and that all the appliances are turned off as well as making sure that everything is locked up. This year that job was left up to me because my wife had one more day left before we left. I was to take the car to campus so we could leave it there until school started up again, and then we would grab a cab to the airport bus to our new adventure. Right before I was supposed to leave a moving company came in and parked right in front of our car. It seemed as if fate did not want us to leave, but I had worked hard and I earned this vacation. I went out to the movers and after a strange conversation in broken English/Korean, I was able to get my car out and make my way to the airport.

I thought that this would have been the most exciting part of my day, but little did I know that the airport had another mini-adventure in store for us. We got to the airport in a reasonable time, and we had some time to kill, so we went to America’s favorite place, Starbucks, for some coffee. We got in line waiting for our turn to order when things started to get weird.

It started off with one camera, then two, and soon everybody in the airport had stopped to take our picture for some reason. I thought of being nice by waving to people. Christine told me to put my hand down because they weren’t taking pictures of me. We ordered our coffee, and more people gathered around to take pictures. I didn’t know what they were taking pictures of, so while I took pictures of them taking pictures, Christine asked the person at the counter what was making people so excited. The lady got really flustered because the person who they were taking pictures of was actually standing right behind us.

We were in the presence of somebody famous, but I found the crowd more interesting. Some of them thought I was absolutely crazy for missing the opportunity that was right there next to me. But honestly I do not know enough about Kpop stars to care, and I started to realize the truth about celebrity status. It is only important if the people who are around care. If this celebrity showed up in the States she would be anonymous and she would be able to carry on with her life as any of us. But because of her location, she was hounded by the masses. It would have been like if Dave Matthews showed up in Seoul. Nobody would know who he was because Koreans do not listen to Dave Matthews. Celebrity status is the product of the society, not the other way around.

We eventually got our coffee and moved on, asking people if they knew who it was that was getting her picture taken. The foreigners in the back of the crowd had no idea but they stood by to make sure that they got a picture of the event. As we were making our way to our gate, a nice lady stopped by to tell us that we were in the presence of the Kpop group called Twice. I still do not know who that is, but it was fun to experience what it is like to be a celebrity if only it was second hand, and it was an exciting start to our adventure around the world. I hope that the rest of the trip is as much fun and I can’t wait to see what other stories will come out of it.

If you are interested to follow these stories make sure you to return to this blog over the next six weeks to see what will happen next.

Moments like These

The bug flies to rest upon your finger
And crawls up it as if you were not there.
You watch its investigative linger,
Making sure to respect your guest with care.
This is when you bring your finger to me
And ever so carefully and gently
You guide your friend over to my left knee
Where in its new environment it’s free.
The bug wanders around its new terrain.
It peeks its head into every nook,
When, for reasons that I cannot explain
Up into the dusk of day, off it took.
That has become my favorite moment
For it was so simple before it went.

Fox Glacier

Why should I lament the slow retreating
Of one who many call my enemy?
My victory will bask in the heating
Of the summary of days so sunny?
But when my foe is no longer around,
Will I find satisfaction in the peace
I have obtained on the battleground?
Will my vain lust for war begin to cease?
Or will I regret the new found absence
Who in my heart I believed I must hate?
For when I find that he has gone from hence
That actually, he was my perfect mate.
We must first learn to live in harmony
With the one we think is our enemy.

The Final Days of the School Year

Let me tell you my story through pictures
Because no words are needed to be said
About the traits of my adventures.
Let my bold actions tell the tale instead.
It starts by being trapped in a dark room
Working by the light of a computer.
Having no escape indicates my doom,
Making the in-pile harder to endure.
But my heart begins to make a demand
To breathe deeply the clean air of freedom,
So from behind my desk I take a stand
To return to the place where I came from.
There is a rock in my secret garden
Where I can sit and take the nature in.

In Anticipation of Solo/In Respone to the Last Jedi

Can expectations live up to the hype
Or will you feel hollow disappointment?
Will you nitpick what you have seen, and gripe
‘Bout wanting more from your entertainment?
What do you expect from an industry
Who wishes nothing more than your pleasure?
Why do you think those who make a movie
Are subject to a life of indenture?
When has it been your creativity
That has given us reason to applaud?
Do you understand how this scrutiny
Is regarded as words told from a fraud?
If you believe you can do better
Then take your turn being the court jester.