Friday, May 30, 2008

Memorial Day Plans

Spending almost all my time in Korea, I forgot about things like national holidays. This point was made clear to me this week. I was in the USA when my Korean colleague CH had a sudden business trip to a nearby city. Well, we couldn't let this opportunity pass, so I extended my stay a few days. We arranged for CH to visit our office and meet all the staff. After all the arrangements were made, I realized that the scheduled day was Memorial Day, and nobody would be at the office! We scrambled to make another plan, and it actually worked out well. We met the two company owners in the morning for breakfast, then CH came to my house for a Memorial Day outdoor picnic.

First, I brushed some red potatoes with olive oil, and sprinkled them with Hawaiian sea salt, chives, and garlic powder. Put them on the grill for about 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.

Actually, I would love to have a large grill here in Seoul, but my apartment doesn't have an outdoor balcony (technically I live in an "office-tel"). And even if I HAD a balcony, I've heard grilling on the balcony is discouraged. Hmmmm, but there is a small "park" on the 13th floor right outside my door... I'll have to think about that.

While that was cooking outside, inside Mrs. Stumbler prepared green beans, yellow squash, salad, homemade bread. As soon as the potatoes were finished, I put the ribeye steaks on the grill.

We finally sat down to eat. It was a little warm outside on Monday, but fortunately we were not bothered by the mosquitoes. Here we all are enjoying the food.

After the meal, we brought out some watermelon for dessert. The Stumbling Brother gave me this hat, which I couldn't help putting on the watermelon. After watching the Indiana Jones movie last week, this seemed appropriate:

Check out the "bird's feet" pattern in the watermelon...

We were so full, there was no more room to eat the cheese cake! Thoroughly stuffed, I drove CH to a nearby city for his meetings. Actually, I beat CH back to Korea by one day. Assuming no delays, he should get here tonight.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Proud Again

Twice in one week! Last night Young Stumbler #2 graduated from High School! We are all so proud of him. Now 50% of The Stumbling Children have graduated - 50% more to go. The graduation ceremony took place in a large arena, which appears to be frequenly used for Hockey games!

There were a lot of people there. In fact, even though the class size (about 450) was similar to YS#1 graduation ceremony, I think the crowd was about twice the size! Also, the crowd was more casually dressed than at the University graduation. Given the heat in the arena, I can't really blame them. I took my coat off for the whole ceremony it was so warm. I couldn' resist taking a picture of this young fellow with a mohawk haircut:

Here is YS#2 receiving his diploma from the school principal:

I tried to get a good photo, but I was't quick enough. When the last student graduated, the principal stated "I now declare you to be graduated", ALL the students threw their caps up into the air. It was quite impressive, although in this photo you can barely see a hat or two:

By this time it was 9:30pm. We tried to meet at a steak house YS#2 receommended, but it was closed. We went to a nearby place instead, and enjoyed a good (but slow) dinner. I think every restaurant in the city was crowded from the graduation crowd going out to eat and celebrate. Here is YS#2 and his Proud Stumbling Parents:

Thursday, May 22, 2008


This week was full of celebrations. Last night we celebrated YS#4 Birthday! She is now 8 years old! Congratulations!

Check out this strawberry cake!!! It tastes as good as it looks:

Fuzzy, and I mean fuzzy, slippers:

Monday, May 19, 2008

So So Proud

Yesterday Young Stumbler #1 graduated from college. The Stumbler, indeed the whole family, are so so proud of her. Here are some photos and narration...

We arrived at the gradutation creremony about 1 hour early, but as you can see the seats were already filling up! We chose some seats at the very back of the auditorium, right behind the orchestra! I worried it would be too loud, but actually it was quite nice.

Here's YS#4 and The Stumbling Father:

The ceremony began by all the faculty and graduations students marching into the auditorium. Here is YS#1 walking in. During the whole ceremony whenever she walked right by us, she never saw all the family waving at her.

Finally everyone was at their seat, and the ceremony began. We got to listen to a few speeches, then they began calling everyone's name for the graduation.

Here is YS#4 leaving her seat and heading to the stage:

And the magic moment - she receives her diploma (sorry for the grainy photo, but I was sitting so far away, I'm lucky to have gotten the photo at all):

Right after the ceremony was over, EVEYONE went outside to hook up with their new graduates. It was very crowded, but we finally found YS#1. Here she is, thinking "WHAT??? I HAVE TO GET A JOB???"

Here is the happy graduate and her family:

We went back to her dorm room, and we finished some last minute packing. We filled two cars with her things ("I will have just a couple of boxes left, Dad" she had told me the week before).

As I was packing the car, I decided to make her teddy bear (who has been around almost as long as YS#1) a college graduate, too:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dinner From Scraps

I thought I was out of food for a few days, when I realized I could make fried rice! I used rice, peppers, onions, cheese and eggs. The past few times I tried to make fried rice, it looked good but tasted bad. This time, it both looked good AND tasted good! Here is the obligatory food photo:

I should have used green peppers (didn't have any) and the color would have balanced out better. Also, I think using olive oil instead of butter might have been important in making the taste better.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, the all important SPAM! I bought a box containing something like 12 or 15 small cans of SPAM from Costco last month. It has been sitting on the counter since, and this was the first time I used it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Back in 2004, John and I always talked about going to a Korean baseball game. I can't say why, but we never got around to it. Well, when Trevor announced the "Baseball, Beer and Burgers" special event, I had to sign up. The team is the "Woori Heroes" (translates as "Our Heroes"). This is an old team, but was recently sold, given a new name and now considers the nearby Mokdong Stadium as their home field. The websites say the stadium has 16,000 seats and can hold 20,000 people (hmmm..., where do the other 4000 people go?) I would say it was nearly at capacity last night.

Everyone had a good time. The game was fun, although "our heroes" lost to the visiting team, KIA. Here are a few interesting shots.

After the game, we headed back to Beer O'Clock for the hamburgers. As was the case with the special Christmas Dinner last year, the throughput of the small kitchen is, well, small. It seemed to take forever to get my hamburer, but by the time it arrived I was starving. I think that made it taste even better! I will definitely go to another game.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back Ache Over

I am going to officially declare my back ache over. And I have no idea what made it better. It might be the medicine, but if so, it is completely unexpected. During the 7 days or so that I took the pills, I felt absolutely no relief from the back pain. I can't say it was the physical therapy, since I only went that first day. I won't say I am 100% better, but then again I've probably not had a 100% pain-free back since I was in my 20's. Anyway, I don't miss the muscle spasms.

If flying in the narrow economy class seat with no knee room happens to have caused my back pain in the first place, then I'm due for more trouble when I return soon to the USA for Young Stumblers #1 and #2 graduations.

Shower Songs

After moving in February, I sorely missed the built-in radio that was in the bathroom of my last apartment. I was not able to find one here in Korea. Well, that's not 100% true - one of my friends helped me search on some Korean shopping sites, and he found some that were clearly designed for children. Frog radios, fish radios, etc. So I got this one in the USA (yet it is a Japanese brand). Now I can listen to the radio again in my shower.

Speaking of showers, I think I mentioned in a previous post that the bathroom attached to my bedroom doesn't have a separate shower stall. Instead it has the common Asian-style shower - the WHOLE bathroom is your shower. I thought I was going to hate that, but it really is just fine. In fact, I've only once used the second bathroom that has a real shower stall.

Healthy Dinner

I haven't had a food post in awhile. Here is something I made the other night that is reasonably healthy. First we have the main course... salmon steak (from Costco) pan grilled in olive oil and crushed garlic. Broccoli with cheese - easy too cook in the microwave oven. And mashed potatoes, just boil and mash.

Tall Beers

Ordered a "pitcher" of beer at a new shop that opened in our office building. I guess I wasn't studying the menu closely... usually when you order a pitcher at these places, you have a choice of 2000cc or 3000cc (one place actually has 1700cc, wherever they got that number from). I ordered 2000cc, and after a few minutes they deliver this monstrosity to the table (sorry about the focus - I can't quite learn to make decent photos with my cell phone camera):

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I had a little surprise when I left the office last evening. There is a Homever (think WalMart, but a little smaller) in the basement of our building. Last year, they had been the target of some labor union protests, and since that time every store has one or more policemen standing guard outside. Well, yesterday the policemen earned their pay. I emerged from the building, and was faced with a huge crowd of over 100 people. They were angrily chanting some slogans at the the store, and there were policemen and guards running everywhere. The crowd was well organized. One lady was chanting into a speaker, which another fellow was carrying around on his back. Most everyone was carrying a flag of some sort, and they all wore matching T-shirts. At one point, the started throwing eggs and sticks at the storefront.

Having heard horror stories about foreigners getting involved in police matters, I tried to stay as far away from this crowd as possible. I made my way around the swarm of people, to arrive at the crosswalk so I could cross the street. As I waited on the light to change, suddenly the whole crowd left the store and started to cross the street with me! Here I was in the middle of this huge group of angry protesters. I probably made it on the news last night, as I saw TV cameras and newspaper photographers documenting the event. Fortunately I arrived at the other side of the street without incident, and the crowd and I went on separate directions.