Call me Dr. Cassel

It is hot! Stinking hot! And, to prove the point, my body decided to react to the heat in a way or manner which it has never done before. I have a heat rash - similar, in my opinion at least, to poison ivy although perhaps not quite as itchy. I bet you are wondering where my heat rash is on my body. Well, it happens to occur mostly in the folds of skin due to the friction. Also, anywhere clothing constantly rubs on your skin when it is hot and humid out. So, I have a large rash on both my arms, from my forearms, down past my elbow, up my triceps, stopping before my armpit. I have a patch down around my waist, from where my shorts were rubbing as well as in my groin area.

I consider myself a doctor thanks to the wonderful world of the internet. Popular sights such as WebMD make me feel as though I am a doctor and can diagnose my own symptoms. I could be completely wrong with my diagnosis, nevertheless, I still feel like a doctor and living in Korea, who knows how any meeting with a doctor would go. I did have my medical assistant check my diagnosis and do a bit of research on her own. She came to the same conclusion. As a result, I am sitting in the AC today with cotton clothes on and Aloe Vera spread on the rash. I learned this on a similar website under the "Treatment of Heat Rash" section.

Yesterday, I went to Itaewon, hopefully for the last time in at least a month, while Katrina was working. Yes, working for CDI, she had a Saturday workshop from 1 to 3:30 pm in Seoul. I went to Istanbul, our favorite place in Korea to get falafel. Unfortunately, we found out from the shop owner last week that this weekend would be his last weekend in business, after 6 years. Thankfully, last weekend, after I asked him, he divulged his falafel recipe and told us where we could get some chick peas. I made the trek up yesterday one last time to enjoy his delicious Middle-Eastern dish. We ended up chatting for about half an hour and he started off as an English teacher and has been traveling the world ever since - my type of guy. He also owns an Italian restaurant right across the street so Katrina and I might try that place at some point.

However, my trip ended in disaster as I came home to find this rash slowly growing on my arms and other parts of my body. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, Dr. Cassel and Dr. Heinz-Query were able to come up with a proper diagnosis and I took a tepid shower. Not as itchy today and I'm hoping it goes away shortly, preferably by tomorrow. No new news on the computer, I will let you know something by the middle of next week.

I started reading "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. I read "Atlas Shrugged" by her and loved it. So far, so good. I have 6 days off for Chuseok, the Korean equivalent to Thanksgiving (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuseok). Not sure what I am going to do since Katrina will only get the Wednesday of that week off. I might go on vacation with my co-workers or relax for 6 straight days. That's all for now.


Me and Computers

So, my laptop recentely decided to take its own life. I am sure I played some role in its ultimate destruction, nevertheless, it needs to be brought back to life, which is a power I do not have. Luckily, one of my co-workers is a computer programmer so he is going to take a look at it on Monday. My fingers are crossed but I don't think there is anything he will be able to do.

The following story takes place between 1:30 pm and 3:45 pm:

Today, I get in to work, computer decides to blue screen, not once but twice. So, I tell Eric, the engineer of Avalon (man does it all) and ask him to fix it. He grabs my tower and removes the tower. Now, the tower still has documents on it that I need for next semester. He puts in a replacement tower, starts it and walks away. For starters, this tower probably hasn't been started in at least a month so there are all kinds of messages popping up. The messages, they are in Korean which doesn't do me a bit of good. I sit down, push some buttons not knowing what they mean, it doesn't work. It freezes. I go get Eric again, he takes a look. Goes down on the ground and removes this tower. He brings back a third tower. The last one finally worked, no problems, and I asked him to set it up since all the messages were in Korean, which he did. We over to the computer lab, use his USB, download the files that I need, and put them on my computer. Finally, after over two hours, I now have one working computer.

So, at the moment, me and computers don't really see eye to eye.

Since my laptop is broken, all updates will come from work or Katrina's computer so I am not sure how frequently I will be able to update. In my life, intensives are over which is good and bad. It is one less hour of work but we are now back to getting off at 10 pm instead of 9 pm, so that's a bit of a bummer.

I'm not quite over my cold.

Katrina has another cold, her fourth in three months.

I got a microwave and a carpet from a guy who is moving out for 30,000 won.

Things at work are extremely busy with the new semester coming up soon. I have lesson plans to create, questions to make for homework for the kids, essay questions to create, and essays on top of all that. Keep in mind, I have all this to do and my computer decides to crash. Oh well, I'll get it done, I always do. That's about it for now.


Pictures for Seoul

Finally, pictures from last weekend...

(Famous Buddhist Temple in Seoul during what I can only refer to as a service from my limited Christian knowledge of religious practices.)

(Little guy outside the temple)

(Traditional House in Seoul)

(Katrina and I along the wall that lines the entire area and most of the houses within the area.)

(Our guides for the day and our first Korean friends - Ian and Sophie. A wonderful couple who I look forward to seeing again in the near future.)

(Art work adorning the door)

(My nature shot of the day)

(Sophie and Ian at the "Garten Bier" as you can see above Ian's head)

(The frozen cup holders which impressed me so much. Hopefully you can see the ice crystals forming within the holder.)

(Another temple we passed as we attempted to find a bus home)


The Wheely King

Last week, while attempting to perform a wheely, which I knew to be next to impossible, although I thought I should try anyway, I broke the chain on my bike. I am a bit of a competitive person I challenged the other bike rider in the work group, the Irishman, Ciaran, to a wheely contest. Although my chain broke and my bike was only in the air for about a second, I did in fact win the contest because he didn't even give it a try.

One time, when I was younger, I tried to do a wheely. It was the best wheely ever because I ended up on my back.

The next day I took my bike back to the place where I bought it. I was expecting a new chain and at least a $20 fee for the repair, especially since I can't speak the language. Boy was I wrong! The owner of the shop pulled out some tool, popped off about two chains on either side of the broken link and then pulled out a new chain. He popped off probably three links in the new chain then attached the new chain to the old one. Before I left, he checked my tires and put a little air in each one. Total cost 5,000 won.

Spenser and I started doing lesson exchanges with the guys at work in hopes to improve our Korean. I believe Spenser is going for some type of fluency. Me, I'm just trying to survive and know what the food is when I go in to a restaurant without any pictures. However, these is a bit of excitement that comes from just randomly picking something on a menu and then waiting to see what you end with to eat.

Last weekend, thanks to Hiroko, we met up with some of her Korean friends from W.S.U. - Go Cougs! It was the first time meeting Sophie and Ian but I had a great time. I exchanged a few emails with Ian and he asked what I liked to do. I informed him that I was into the historical aspects of life. So, we ended up going to a famous Buddhist temple in the heart of Seoul. After that, we went and say traditional houses. Then, we had coffee at this place with a fantastic view, close to the Blue House (the Korean equivalent of the White House). However, I didn't get to see the President's home.

After coffee we walked around a bit more and Ian asked if I liked beer. OF COURSE! We ended up going to a Bier Garten or a Beer Garden. There is a cup holder sunk into the corner of each table. The holders are metal and freeze if you hit a button so your beer stays cold the entire time you drink it! Why, in America, do we not have this yet? The only thing I can think of is that we drink our beer before it gets warm. However, I loved this idea. We also got some nachos and pizza to share.

Katrina and I had a great time and we can't wait to see Ian and Sophie again. They were headed to a water park this weekend and invited us to join but I am feeling sick at the moment. I don't know what the deal is but snot is just flowing out of my nose and has been for two days now. If I blow it out, I have a clear nose for about two minutes. If I plug it with tissue paper, my eyes get watery but it last for about 10 minutes. If I do nothing, it literally just runs out of my nose, down to my lips. I got 2000% of my daily Vitamin C intake yesterday thanks to the Vitamin C drinks they have in Korea and the multi-vitamin I take. I was hoping today my runny nose would be gone - no such luck.

Stay tuned for pictures. Intensives are over this Tuesday so it's back to the 2pm to 10 pm schedule shortly. In two weeks I will be finished with a quarter of my contract - time flies when you have a job. I am still not 100% convinced about this whole working thing but I guess if I have to do it, this is a great job for me, at least for now!


Random Photos

Below you will find pictures from Japan. There is not a lot of detail for each section, only pictures, due to the amount of time it took me to create these post. Every day we went to a different city for the most part. Thursday was Kyoto with the whole Aochi family, Friday was Nara with Hiroko's mom, and Saturday was Osaka with Katrina and I later joined by her father. If you have any specific questions about any one day or picture, please ask. I hope the pictures suffice and will get back in to more detail now that I am done with this vacation blog.

We saw a lot of things in a short amount of time. It was a wonderful vacation and I had a blast. I love the Aochi family and their hospitality. Hopefully, in the near future, I will see Hiroko and her family in South Korea. Or, go back to Japan since I am so close. They are a wonderful family and I am truly thankful to have gotten to know them. The following 4 posts are a rough picture outline of the five days, three full days spent on vacation on Japan.

(As Hiroko's Dad called it, around Sushi. As a way to say thanks for everything they did for me last time, I took the family out to sushi. We had a great time and this is what happens when you want a special order. On the bottom track you can see the different kinds of sushi moving around. Whenever you see one you like, you grab it off and eat it. Enough said. Then, everyone says hello quickly.)

(At Incheon Airport before we left, relaxing on some sweet couches. There was also a nice museum we went to. It's been rated the top airport for five years in a row now, or something like that.)

(On the plane, free beer. I love flying in Asia. On the way back, on our two hour flight, we got a little meal with pasta, some fish, and other little snackies. Gotta love it!)

(First meeting Hiroko's Dad)

(Genki! I'm good - according to Hiroko's Dad!)

(This picture was taken for one person and one person only. He knows what's inside that little package...)

(Last night, dining Japanese style.)

(In the center of the table is a giant George Forman like grill where you throw on onions, peppers, cabbage, carrots, squash, strips of beef, sausage, shrimp, and whatever else you want to cook. Whenever something is done, if you want it, you pick it off with your chop sticks and eat it. I don't know why but it is one of my favorite ways to eat. It just feels like a big family eating together and it doesn't matter what you want, you just pick it up and eat it. And other people grab food off and put it on your plate to eat and you do the same for them. It was freaking delicious, I love Hiroko's Mom's cooking!!!)

(Me flipping something so it doesn't get burnt)

(Nabe, Hiroko, Hiroko's mom, myself, and Katrina as we are getting started. You can see the piles of different foods set around the table.)

(This is my GQ shot with my new Capri pants which you'll read about later. This is on top of the Aochi's roof in their hometown of Hyton-yama,)

(Katrina, Hiroko, and I on top of the roof.)

(Hiroko replaced by her father. I liked how you could see the mountains in Japan - that doesn't happen a lot in Korea.)

(As we were leaving for the airport, last shot of the gang.)

(Sad faces in the airport as we got ready to come back home)



There was lots of fun to be had in Osaka. I ended up buying two pairs of Capri pants, I know, I'm not much of a Capri guy but they are kind of comfortable. I got them at my favorite store - UNIQLO, which we found in Korea - very exciting. After our quick shopping outing, we met Hiroko's dad, who took a few hours to "meet with a client!" So, we went and saw Osaka Castle and and Shitennoji. We walked around the inside of the castle which was a museum and we were also able to have a nice view from a lookout area on the top. At Shitennoji Temple we were able to go up the five storied pagoda - a first for me. Then, we met up with an old buddy from Pullman -Taka, but not before we rode a giant Ferris Wheel in Hep 5! It was only for an hour but it was great to see him. We also spent one night earlier in the week at a Japanese Bar with another friend from W.S.U. - Miho!

These are the outstanding Osaka pictures:

(Osaka Castle close up)

(Katrina and I in front of Osaka Castle)

(View from the top of Osaka Castle in one direction)

(Shitennoji Pagoda in the background)

(5 Story Pagoda which we were able to walk up - Score! Yes, I just said score...)

(Cool building on the grounds)

(Katrina and I doing some more cleansing. This time we threw some water on the thirsty deities so they would help us out somehow.)

(Guardian #1)

(Guardians #2,3, and 4)

(Famous Turtle Pond on the grounds)

(I do not know what this is or what it is used for but I liked the dragon.)

(View from out of the Ferris Wheel at Hep 5. In the distance, we could see Osaka Castle. And, from Osaka Castle, we could see the Ferris Wheel.)

(Katrina with Osaka Station in the background)

(Me with Ferris Wheel and Osaka in the background)

(JC and Taka)

(Miho, Hiroko, Katrina, and I at the Izakaya - food was delicious)

(This is a rice dish we got that we cooked in sea water - AMAZING!)

(Miho and Hiroko in front of some raw fish and octopus. We even had a wasabi root to make our own fresh wasabi.


Day two consisted of touring around Nara and Nara Park with Hiroko's mom. Since she had the day off of work, she asked about 3 or 4 times if she could tag along. Of course, we said yes. We had a great time and got to see a lot of temples, the world's largest wooden structure, some deer, and a turtle pond. Once again, I have good luck for life as I climbed through a little hole inside of a pillar located in Todaiji Temple. We also had a delicious lunch with Hiroko's mom and got to see some of Nara's traditional streets and houses.

Here are my favorite photos of Nara:

(Todaiji Temple - the largest wooden structure in the world, at least according to the brochure. If you look in the distance, you can see tiny dots. Those are people entering the temple.)

(Outside entrance/wall to get into the main temple area.)

(Guardian, I believe, to protect the Buddha.)

(Another Guardian inside the temple)

(Me barely squeezing through the "Good Luck For the Rest of Your Life" Hole.)

(First spotting of deer in a park area as we were walking to Todaiji Temple)

(As you can see, the deer are everywhere)

(Katrina and her deer friend)

(Another cleansing area)

(View of Nara and the top of Todaiji Temple over Katrina's right shoulder from a different temple which I do not know the name of...)

(Five Storied Pagoda)

(Katrina and I in front of the Five Storied Pagoda)

(Turtles relaxing in the turtle pond)

(Action photo of the ladies)

(Nara's famous monkeys - the red and white things hanging from the entrance)

(Up close shot - I'm not sure why they call it a monkey...)