Steal A Pine, Do The Time

As MERS recedes into the memory of hypochondriac-minded South Koreans, a new source of concern emerges with the rise of pine-tree robbers:

“‘As more apartment buildings are constructed, demand for pine trees for landscaping purposes will increase, so the general outlook is that the prices for pine trees will also increase,’ said Han Tae-ho, who heads the architectural design team for Daelim, a major Korean construction company.

The use of pine trees in landscaping is unique to Korea. Koreans tend to move into new homes in the winter, before the beginning of a new academic semester. Because pine trees are able to withstand severe cold as well as are deciduous, keeping their needles in the winter, they make for good ornamentation in colder months, when other trees have lost their leaves.

But some pine tree robbery schemes are more long term. Thieves look for more expensive pines that are still growing and then cultivate them for over a year in their original locations.

This tactic, equivalent to a planned robbery, is exactly what one 51-year-old pine tree swindler, surnamed Kim, did last spring.”

The article mentions that one stolen tree was sold off for the equivalent of 70,000 USD.

Pung-su-ji-ri, the Korean equivalent of Chinese feng-shui, is a big deal here but I know very little about it other than that the little stunted pine outside my office is supported by three different metal poles.

Posted in Korea, Kultur, South Korea | Leave a comment

Whiny Foreigner Returns!

Is it worth bitching about the insanity of Korean management practices any longer?  No, but I want to.

So last week I entered my semester grades into the university computer system.  This week I’m supposed to wait for students to call me if they think their grade was in error, and then I have about five hours of (needless, redundant, asinine, and useless) paperwork.  Basically, I take the final results from the computer and then hand-write them back onto these stupid roster sheets that will be buried in a vault and never seen again until the FSM returns.

But some wizard in IT decided this would be the perfect week to upgrade us from Windows XP.  That is a good thing.  But the timing meant I didn’t have internet access in my office until just now, and I couldn’t log in to do my (needless, redundant, asinine, and useless) paperwork.

So I was supposed to have Friday off but now I don’t, because Korea.

I swear there’s nothing more sacred in this country than paperwork, and mindless busy work in general.  The appearance and various apparati of being busy trump actually getting things done, always.

Posted in ESL, Korea, South Korea, Teaching, WhinyForeigner | Leave a comment


The second episode of True Detective season two was great, and made up for all of the vagaries of the first episode.

Or to quote Ron Burgundy, “Boy, that escalated quickly.”

Posted in True Detective, TV | Leave a comment

Another Win For The Good Guys

Like me, you may be lukewarm about the prospects of a Hillary Clinton presidency, but today’s victory for Obamacare is just a reminder that not supporting her is tacit support for future Supreme Court justice Ted Cruz.

Posted in America, Politics | Leave a comment

“like pollen from a flower”

Husker Du, “Celebrated Summer”

I finished grading today, but next week students get to call me if they aren’t happy with their final grades.  It’s rather sado-masochistic, but it works pretty well.  With hundreds of students, I do make mistakes sometimes.

Anyhow, if I get through it with no tears or meltdowns I’ll call it a success.

Off to America in August.  July I’m just teaching my adult students.  So basically, the plan is to study Korean extra hard and up my exercise routine.

Also, MERS hysteria seems to be fading away but my students were quick to use a new expression that my boss taught them — “latency period.”

So there’s still a good chance we’re all gonna die horribly.

Thanks, Obama.

Posted in ESL, Music | Leave a comment

Cautious Optimism

Nine people were murdered by a white supremacist in Charleston and those families will feel that pain and absence forever.

But I’m shocked at how quickly Americans are dumping an obvious symbol of treason, slavery, and white supremacy in the form of the Confederate flag.

When goddman Walmart is on the right side of history you know that something positive is up.  Either that or we got shot through a wormhole last night.

Next step: Realizing that easy access to handguns, a murky backdrop of latent racism, and a lack of decent mental health services in the U.S. is a recipe for future spree shootings, racially motivated or otherwise.

A boy can dream, can’t he?

Posted in America, Charleston, Politics | Leave a comment


Wilco covering Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair.”

I can die now.

Nels Cline — call me maybe?

Posted in Music, Pavement, Wilco | Leave a comment

The Yellow King Is Gone

Plot-wise, season one of True Detective was like an upside-down pyramid.  It started off very tightly scripted with a gruesome but singular murder but bloomed into a Lovecraftian nightmare zone.

Season two is flipping the script, by starting with a bajillion different threads that my weak lizard brain found a bit overwhelming.

Which is to say, I didn’t care much for the first episode last night but I’m looking forward to the next one.

So far most of my sympathies lie with Rachel McAdams’ poor hair.

Posted in True Detective, TV | Leave a comment


Obama’s first big mistake in office was thinking he could actually get anything done working with Republicans.

More recently, he’s made the awful mistake of assuming he could talk to Americans like they were adults when it comes to charged racial issues.

His point about the n-word is perfectly valid — it pales in comparison to the more hidden, structural issues that continue to hinder progress for blacks in America.

But thanks to our insanely terrible national media, the interpretation is basically “LOL N-WORD WUT?”

Our future Chinese overlords couldn’t be happier.

Posted in America, Assholes, Politics | Leave a comment

“insisting on calling it Bar-thuh-lona”

A great John Oliver piece on online harassment against women (#GamerGate, revenge porn, etc.).

Posted in GamerGate, Politics | Leave a comment