Sunday, May 23, 2004

Meet Deacon

Before today I have not made much mention of my new little friend other than a quick reference to his snake hunting skills. His name is Deacon and he's my dog. I didn't mention him because I was not sure I would brin him home. Initially I adopted him thinking I would give him to someone here when I left. After all, how attached can one become to a silly little dog? Well, pretty attached.

I believe he was born in January or February of this year, while I was on leave. He is one of a litter of 4 and they caught my eye as being particulrly cute. Well, for a couple of weeks I would just stop by their little house where their mother kept them and play with them a bit. Deacon grabbed my attention because he seemed to be rather lively without being a total spaz. Plus he was a bit bigger than his siblings and seemed quite healthy. Well, after visiting for a while, I couldn't take it any more and I took him to my hooch.

A couple of weeks ago, he got his puppy shots and they made him very sick. He had to spend 2 nights at the vet with an IV in his little arm, so now he has a shaved front leg. Also, he gets car sick. The other day I put him in the van and he started salivating before I even started it up so I think it's partially psychosomatic. The 24 hour plane ride home will be interesting. I'm gonna feed him vast quantities of drugs so he'll sleep most of the time.

He is definately my dog. He responds to me and plays with me and walks with me even when other dogs are around (most of the time). He is by far the best dog on compound. He's just a good dog. So I'll be taking him back to the states with me to become a part of our family. I sincerely hope he and Scout get along and that the kids like him because I'd hate to have to send my kids to live with a distant relative :)

The funny thing is, I never knew how lonely my little room was at night until he came to live with me. He keeps me company and even lays down next to the tub when I'm in the shower. In fact, he hates baths so I have to get in with him (ya just gotta watch the claws).

So that's Deacon, my dog. Hopefully he'll be with us for a long time. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 21, 2004

Addendum of the Unwise

It's not very often that I see snakes so this mornings encounter on the bridge of no return was rare and exciting. Well, the story continues. As usual, I had dinner in the Montastery tonight. Afterward, as is my custom I sat and watched a little TV, sipped a little coffee, and played with Deacon a bit. My coffee ran out so I headed into the next room, where dwelleth the pot o' brew to refill. As I was doing so Deacon decided to go absolutely nuts. I looked where he was barking and there was another snake. This one was about 8 inches long, mostly dark green with black stripes and had a tint of red or orange between it's scales on the front half of his body that showed up nicely when he flattend himself out and stood up to look at me. Well, he's just a little guy...I'd better pick him up! So very cautiously I did what needed to be done to pick him up without hurting him or getting bitten. I did the Erwin method of holding him by his tail and allowing the front half of his body to stay on the ground. He never struck at me or did anything aggressive so I coerced him into a couple of styrofoam cups and took him outside and released him. Feeling good about my herpatological self, I began to do some research and ask around as to what kind of snake my little friend may have been. Turns out he was a Tiger Snake. Click on his name to discover the details about the little bundle of joy I was handling!

Honey Nipples

Today's little incident bears noting. The president of a large Seminary in Texas came to the JSA for a tour. Since I'm the religious expert on post, I got to serve as the escort for the tour. This was a small VIP tour consisting of the VIP himself, his wife, a chaplain friend of theirs from somewhere else in Korea and his wife. with the tour guide and me we had a grand total of 6 people on the tour. Well, when you have a tour that small,it allows you a little more flexability than a big group because you can move a little quicker. There was another tour just behind us at the JSA consisting of two full bus loads so I knew I could deviate from the normal tour stuff just a bit and it would be easy to stay ahead of them with little effort. Near the end of the normal tour we drive by the Bridge of No Return and people take photos from the bus, but we don't usually get out. Well, the group behind us was clearly visable from the Bridge, at checkpoint 3 so I let the VIP group get off the bus to take some pictures next to one of the border markers. We approached the bridge and right where we were going to stand for photos was sitting an absolutly huge snake. It had to be over 5 feet long and was every bit as thick as my wrist. He just kind of watched us but didn't move. So I decided to get a little "Steve Irwin" on him. As I approached he began to slither down his hole. I reached out to take him by the tail and do the herpatologist act when I remembered Honey.

Honey is a rather large dog that belongs to one of the officers in the battalion. Honey was out playing in the local rice fields last year when she was bitten by a snake. It didn't seem all that bad at first but it nearly killed her. The nice part was that the skin on the area surrounding the bite began to literally rot off her leg. It just wouldn't heal no matter what the vets did for her. Finally, they had to graft some skin from her belly onto her leg to stem the disintegration of her flesh. Remember, dogs have about 5 or 6 nipples down each side of their belly. So Honey, to this day has several nipples on her leg. Not only that but the hair is entirely different. As a result, she has a band of long hair with nipples around her hind leg. Well, I don't really want nipples on my arms so instead of grabbing the monster snake I just tapped it a few times with the anntena of my radio until it was completely inside it's lair.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Partying, Painting, and Syllabification

You may remember the Orphanage Christmas Party I wrote about back in December 2003. Well, Spring has sprung and so we decided to have a spring party, too. Again it was a great event. While the younger kids played a bevy of games, the older ones were taken on a tour of the JSA and introduced to North Korea. After their tour they went over to the Engagement Simulation Trainer (EST). This is basically a huge video game that utilizes real weapons hooked up to a big computer and projector. All kinds of scenarios are available, ranging from rescuing hostages in an urban environment to an all out gun fight in the desert. The weapons even "kick" using compressed air so it's extremely realistic. The kids loved it (as did the soldiers). As was the case in December we had dinner with them followed by a fabulous show consisting of various speeches and traditional dances by the kids. One young lady bears mention. She is about 6 or 7 years old and her name is Yi, Chi Soo. She speaks no English and since I don't speak Hangul we spent the day not talking together and entirely enjoying each other. Well, we each understand at least one thing the other was saying...our names. I would say, "Yi, Chi Soo" over emphasizing each syllable. She would reciprocate with "Moke Sah Neem" (Hangul for pastor or chaplain) also over emphasizing each syllable. We probably said that to each other a million times during the day. Eventually it became a game. She would disappear for a minute or two and then from about a hundred yards away I'd hear a faint "Moke Sah Neem". I, of course, would reply, "Yi, Chi Soo". And so it continued until they left (and she shouted it once out the window of the bus, just for good measure I suppose).

This party, however, unlike the Christmas party was a two part event. Part one was the party itself. Part two was strategically scheduled less than a week after the first so as to capitalize on the sympathy factor. Part two was a clean up day at the Orphanage. We took nearly 40 soldiers to the Pyong Hwa Orphanage to pick up old stuff, fix broken stuff, and paint ugly stuff. It was great. However, the Korean culture doesn't really have an equivalent for "don't look a gift horse in the mouth". So after my soldiers had painted a swing set a lovely orange, we were informed that orange is not a playground color and we would therefore have to repaint it a more appropriate red. Well, unshaken and enjoying a good bit of American sarcasm in English, the soldiers filled the rest of the day with warnings about playground versus indoor colors. We also removed 2 truck loads of old junk, broken appliances, and trash. Not your standard Toyota half ton pick up loads. Rather these loads were 2 entirely full military 2 1/2 ton trucks. If you can't picture it, just let me say, that's a bunch of junk.

At lunchtime, we barbecued burgers and hot dogs and enjoyed a refreshing beverage. Now, if you've ever been responsible for planning an event such as this you know that there are millions of details. Most of them were seen to. However, in the shuffle I forgot condiments and ice. So lunch was meat and bread washed down with warm soda. Yummy! This whole event took place while the children were at school so as to minimize the amount of paint on things and people it wasn't intended to be on. In the middle of the afternoon the kids started trickling in, enjoying the look of their freshly painted, tidied-up, orange-free playground. And as we were cleaning up our brushes and rollers preparing to depart, I heard from the far end of the compound, "Moke Sah Neem"! She ran and jumped into my arms and gave me a huge Yi, Chi Soo hug and with the exuberance of a 6 year old she proceeded to tell me about her day. I was glad to listen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Political Ventilation

Every once in a while, everyone needs to vent a bit. Behold, the beauty of the blog. Of course, I don't usually get very political. There's an old axiom that says you shouldn't discuss politics or religion because you never know who you're going to upset. Perhaps. But world events being what they are, there comes a time when you have to stop worrying about who might not like the fact that we live in a free society and can therefore say what we feel without fear, and say what's on your mind.

I have heard in recent days pundits, pinheads, and public personalities sharing all manner of opinion regarding the War in Iraq and the need for a "global coalition" and the United Nations to take command in that theatre of operations for the good of all mankind. Apparently, it would be way better for everyone if anyone but the US were in charge of what goes on over there. Perhaps. But now it's my turn.

To those who have advocated giving the mission in Iraq to the UN as a way of equalizing the political "burden" of giving freedom back to the Iraqi people I say, "It won't work. Period." How do I know? What makes me such an expert on international affairs? I know because I live and work 400 meters from the southern boundary of the Demilitarized Zone in the Republic of Korea. What does that have to do with Iraq? Well, at the end of the Korean war the 17 countries fighting in the south under the UN banner, and ultimately making up the United Nations Command, were the Republic of Korea, The United States, The United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey, Australia, The Philippines, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Greece, Thailand, France, Columbia, Belgium, South Africa, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. All agreed to the conditions of the Armistice which stated that the United Nations Command would oversee the maintenance of the Armistice and the DMZ. And for 50 plus years, the United Nations Command has done just that. However, I look to my left and right and see not one Canadian Mountiee in arms...not a single French Columbian freedom fighters...none of the mighty Ethiopian hoards...not even a Greek militiaman. No one except Koreans and Americans. Maintianing a United Nations Armistice.

I believe the Koreans are here mainly because this is Korea. If they really believed in the cause of global freedom and not just homeland security, they would not be hedging on their pledge to send a whopping 3,000 troops to Iraq to guard some remote and relatively safe plot of Iraqi desert as opposed to the 36,000 American soldiers currently residing in this cesspool of a nation and living in places like Camp Bonifas, Camp Greaves, Camp Giant, Camp Gary Owens, and many other "Camps" that offer the US Soldier little more than a place to eat, a place to sleep, a place to work, and a bunch of whores and bars waiting to take their solid American dollars.

I was not entirely truthful about there being just Americans and Koreans living in or near the DMZ. There is a contingency of Swiss and Swedish officers as well. They form the Neutral Nations Supervisory Committee (NNSC) put here to negotiate with the North Korean Army regarding armistice violations. That contingency is actually more like an ensemble. There are 9 of them. That's right...Nine. And they, of course, have their families with them. However, our neutral compatriots usually stay in Seoul while we live in squallor guarding their caviar eating derriers. Of course, they don't have an infrastruture to support their incredible efforts on behalf of freedom so we support them. Yep the good ol' USA supports those 9 fat cats who have live in chefs while we have rotating cooks...they drink brandy while we drink brown water...they throw parties while we guard those parties...they eat off china and silver while we eat off plastic and tin. And what do you suppose it costs the American taxpayer to support 9 whole guys from Switzerland and Sweden? $900,000 last year! Not a typo. Nearly a million US dollars. So, to believe that handing the mission in Iraq to the UN is good for America is stupid and niave. Because once that's done, everyone but the US will go home, pat themselves on the back for everything that went right, and then turn and point their soft, pudgy fingers at us for everything that goes wrong.

I've learned that the difference between expressing an opinion and whining is the presentation of options to cure the problem one is opining about. I recommend the following: 1. put all other countries in the world on the front lines until the number of their mourning mothers equal ours; 2. enforce repayment of debt from all countries who have benefited from our generosity and given nothing in return (Canada would be a exceptional example here); 3. if said country cannot afford to repay their debt, we seize whatever national treasures they think they own until said accounts are settled; 4. leave Korea and see how long they remain a democracy. My guess is they'd be absorbed by their brothers to the north within a week; and finally, just for grins, invade Mexico and show the world that there is clean water there if you care to work for it. Besides, we could use just a little more space to drive our SUVs.

But that's just my opinion.