I figured they were excited to see the dogs and the mom would tell them to ask if it was okay to pet my dogs. This happens all the time. There's probably over a hundred kids in the area that have at one time or another thrown their arms around Kimo or Annana's neck and hugged them.
That's not what happened though. Instead, mom stops in her tracks and starts to back up. She tells the boys to come back to her, that they'll go a different way. At this point I had stopped walking. I know some people are really averse to having dogs cross paths along a relatively narrow trail corridor (though it is about 15 feet wide). I ask the boys what's wrong and he tells me that they try to keep away from my dogs because my dog, Kimo, bit his dog in the nose.
Having no idea what the kid is talking about, I ask him when this happened. He says a while ago. The lightbulb goes on.
"Did it happen about four years ago?"
He says it did, putting him at about 4 or 5 years old. Clearly second-hand information that needed correcting.
"Actually" I explain, "your dog jumped the fence and bit my dog. That's what happened." I had totally forgotten about this but, it's true. Not long after we moved in, Kristin was out walking the dogs and this family's dog leaped over their picket fence and attacked Kimo. Kimo defended himself -- and their dog may have gotten scraped -- but the end result was the owners of that dog (the boy's mom and dad) paying our vet bills.
So I yelled to the mom and told her it was fine, to keep coming and that I would stand off on the side with my dogs and let her pass. I knew at this point she was probably telling the other woman she was with all sorts of nasty untruths about my dogs. So when she got close I asked her if the dog she was with "was the one that jumped the fence and attacked my dog four years ago." A minor detail that I wanted to make sure was known.
She said it wasn't, that they don't have that dog anymore, but that "the incident really affected our other dog and I try to keep her away from them." Them was a reference to my dogs. She and her dog and kids passed without incident. My dogs stood on the grass and looked on. Her dog didn't even glance towards us.
It was at the them remark that I remember a brief run-in with her husband years ago, about 8 months after their dog jumped the fence and bit Kimo. I was walking down the sidewalk and he came out and essentially said my dogs were a nuisance and that I shouldn't walk past yards that I know have dogs in them (every yard is stylishly fenced by the way, this is a rather tidy neighborhood I must admit). Nearly one out of every three homes in the development has a dog. To not pass corner homes with dogs is an impossibility, not to mention it was his dog that jumped the fence. Not mine. I told him flatly to quit the "blame the victim" campaign and kept walking. I've walked past the house nearly every day for four years since and, again, never even thought about it.
But now it makes perfect sense. These parents are out of their mind. First, even though they had to pay our vet bills, they acted like it all our fault and tried to keep us off the sidewalk near their house. Then they apparently brainwashed their kids who were clearly too young to remember the incident that our dogs are mean and need to be stayed away from. And last but not least, they seem to think that this 20 second incident that happened over 4 years ago has given their other dog post-traumatic stress disorder.
All of this because of a relatively minor scrap the dogs got into years ago. An incident incited by a dog who is no longer even around.
I feel so bad for their kids. What's going to happen the first time the kid comes home after getting picked on at school or... GASP! with a black-eye from a fistfight? I'm surprised she just doesn't home-school them to better keep them away from all those mean kids who might be a nuisance. It's clear she can't handle living around other people unless everything is perfect. That's right, don't just act reasonable and pull in the leash on your dog, it's best to walk a completely different way. What a message to send to the kids. Run and hide. Stay home. Tell others to keep away. It's safer that way. Wouldn't want them to be "traumatized."
There are a lot of reasons Kristin and I don't want to have kids, but not wanting to have to deal with parents like these is in the top ten.
Kind of glad her boys didn't want to pet my dogs. I'd hate to see how she'd react if Annana managed to slip him the tongue, as she's known to do.
We quickly consolidated clothes into a single suitcase and piled into the Kim family minivan, a Kia Carnival, for the drive to their home on the edge of town. It's a modest three bedroom, one bath, single-story brick home at the end of a quiet lane surrounded by rice paddies. The living area consisted of three desks along the wall, a small table in the center, an exercise bicycle, and a state-of-the-art kimchi refrigerator by LG. The massive burgundy-colored chest was a technological marvel and clearly the wife's prized possession. Having a kimchi refrigerator may sound odd, but kimchi is eaten three times a day in Korea and an entire year's worth is made just once each winter -- satisfactory refrigeration is not an option, especially given its powerful odor. The other item in the living area, the one that really made us feel special, was a simple calendar hanging on the wall. The 15th of April, that day we were there with them in their home, was circled repeatedly. Someone had even drawn little stars next to it. It was the only day of the month that had any notation.
We arrived in Seoul four days ahead of the rest of our small-town delegation. Kristin and I were staying in a small hanok located in a traditional neighborhood known as Bukchon Village on the north side of this sprawling megalopolis. Once home to the city’s nobility during the fifteenth century, and nestled between the palaces of Gyeongbokgung and Chandeokgung just a few short blocks from Insadong, a popular pedestrian center home to numerous antique and tea shops as well as a few dozen street merchants hawking a number of snacks and kitsch, Bukchon Village was now the focus of historic preservation. Our hanok at the Seoul Guest House was devoid of furniture save for an unnecessary television cart and was a generous 90 square feet in size. It had no windows; we slept on a pair of thin futon pads stretched out over unplugged electric heating pads in a room in dire need of a breeze. We wanted traditional and paid for Spartan. It suited our needs perfectly.
Seoul is a city unlike any I've been to. It's routinely ranked in the top 5 most populated in the world with estimates placing the population between 10 million (city core) and 20 million (greater metropolitan area). One need only stare at a map of Seoul's ten subway lines and nearly 300 stations to realize the scope of this capital city. Partially ringed by mountains and bisected by the Han River, there is the feeling of some natural splendor amidst the concrete, but not much. Seoul is a utilitarian city, designed not to impress through inspired design and architecture, but to move large volumes of people from drab high rise lookalike apartments to work and back again. Space is not at the premium it is in Japan, as evidenced by the lack of the island nation's famed micro-cars and the overwhelming presence of American-sized Hyundai Santa Fes, yet you do feel that few people in Seoul have much personal space. We certainly didn't.
It just occured to me that you probably think I'm writing about this weekend's series in Fenway Park. If so, then you clearly came to the wrong blog.
No, this post (and accompanying video) is about a lesser-known rivalry, one that may not have the history of the Yanks-Sox, nor its made-for-television over-commercialization, but it has the spirit, the fierce competition, and at the risk of drawing some hate mail, I'll say that it's got a stadium full of fans that were more creative, energetic, and passionate than any I've ever seen at any MLB game. Not Yanks-Sox, not Cubs-Cards, not Dodgers-Giants. And especially not the fans down at Knott's Berry Farm, aka Safeco Field.
I'm talking about Seoul's cross-town rivalry between the LG Twins and Doosan Bears. Kristin and I woke up our first morning in Seoul and, on a whim, I decided to check to see if there was a game playing at Jamsil Stadium that night. There was, and it just so happened to be the hottest ticket in town. It was only the third game of the season and the two teams that normally share that stadium were squaring off against one another. Imagine if the Cubs and White Sox both called Wrigley Field home... that's what we were heading to.
We got to the stadium in time to get one of the first-come-first-served outfield seats for 6000 won apiece ($4.80 each) and, after picking up a couple of beers ($1.80 each for cups of Hite, a beer that all-too closely resembles Natural Light, a brew that should be outlawed for those actually above the legal drinking age) and a pair of the ubiquitous inflatable thunder-sticks. We sided with the home team and took our seats in right field. The first base side of the stadium and right field was filled with fans of the LG Twins, nearly all of whom either had a flag or a pair of red thunder-sticks. The third-base side of the stadium was home to supporters of the Doosan Bears.
From the first pitch to the final out, the noise and fan involvement was unlike anything I had ever seen. The only sporting event I can compare it to was the NFC Championship game we attended the year the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl. The fans had songs for each and every player, they were as synchronized as a team of Olympic swimmers, and they never, ever, took their eyes off the field. The fans of the team at-bat would sing and stomp and bang their thunder-sticks during each and every at-bat. The fans of the team in the field would try to out-noise them once the pitcher had two strikes on the batter.
The game had several home runs, some really good defense, and a pretty costly error. The video starts out a little slow in the first inning then really picks up after the 3:00 mark.
Anyway, the photos are in sequential order: four days in Seoul, three days in Jeollanam-do in the southwest corner of the country, then three days on the coast in Busan. I recommend viewing them via the slideshow with the info pane open since I spent the time adding captions to each of them, but I'm sure you can find the way that suits you best.
Here's the link to the set, I hope you enjoy.
Kristin and I had an overall amazing trip, but not for the reasons you might expect. I'll elaborate in what I expect to be a rather lengthy three-part travel story later this week or next. I took many notes during my trip and gave thought each day to what I would write when I got home. The answer didn't come to me until one night when I laid awake in the bed belonging to Hyeon Ju's parents. I'll explain later.
First I have to sort through the more than 1200 photos I took to collect the best six or so and send them to our mayor who we spent a few days with. There's going to be an article in the Snoqualmie Valley Record about our trip (we spent part of the trip as "Official Delegates" and I even got to read the english version of an agreement between Snoqualmie and Gangjin during a meeting of Ganjin's City Council) and he needs the photos right away. Speaking of photos, everyone knows the Japanese take their photography very seriously, but so do the Koreans. It seemed like every other person had a Canon 450D and at least on in every ten cameras I saw was a Canon Mark-II 5D. That's a several thousand dollar piece of equipment, excluding the lens. My favorite were the people with the little Canon and Sony compact cameras mounted to giant studio-grade tripods. Awesome.
I do want to give a major tip of the cap (and definitely not a wag of the finger, for my fellow members of the Colbert Nation) to Air Canada. I had left a small black journal and pen in the seatback pocket on the plane that I flew on from Incheon to Vancouver. I didn't realize this until 2 hours into my layover in Vancouver on the way home. I searched the small US-only concourse for an Air Canada agent to ask for help (I was already through US customs in Canada and this portion of the airport is, as far as security is concerned, US soil so I couldn't leave without going through Canadian customs). I couldn't find one. The journal had all my notes from the trip, not to mention a detailed outline that I wrote last Friday morning during a stroll outside a wild tea retreat we stayed at near a thousand year old Buddhist temple. I returned to the bar where Kristin waited and sulked in my beer. Moments later I spotted an agent sporting the Air Canada red maple leaf and ran up and explained my problem. I felt pretty stupid copping to leaving something so important (to me) on the plane, but he wrote down my info, the flight number, where I was heading, and so forth on a scrap of paper and said he'd do what he could do.
Fifteen minutes later he walked past and glanced at the scrap of paper in his hand after seeing me spot him in the crowd. It looked like he had completely forgotten already. Figures. He walked back to me five minutes later to explain that the plane was likely already gone, that nobody found it, and that sometimes "lost means lost". He said not to give up hope, but that it will likely require some phone calls when I get back to Seattle.
He showed back up at the bar ten minutes later with my journal and pen. The book was only about 3" by 5" in size and could have very easily have been overlooked or even tossed aside. It only had writing on about 15 to 20 pages. But it was important and they found it. And Air Canada earned a loyal fan.
I didn't catch the guy's name who found it for me. I tried to buy him a beer but he was on duty. I offered to buy him lunch when he took his break (I had a long layover and our flight landed 45 minutes early), but he waved it off and simply walked away.
Well, whoever he was, he really made my day. And made his company proud. Thank you, whoever you were.
Seoul isn't a glamorous city and isn't anyplace that you need to spend more than 3 or 4 days in. The markets are incredible, the baseball game we attended was one of the more incredible sporting events I've been to, and, well, the food isn't bad. We did a stiff hike Inwangsan Mountain today to pass by a shaministic temple and gaze out over the city. We sipped tea and ate broiled rice cakes on a flower-lined balcony in the afternoon and we were almost run over by the exact same moped twice in two hours.
Going to miss the metro service, hoping Busan's is of comparable quality.
Yesterday I woke up at 4:15 to find the other half of the bed empty. She woke at 4 to get more work done. I can't tell whether I'm more concerned for her health and sanity or because she's starting to make me look bad.
Yeah, I know I know, "what do you mean starting?" Very funny.
As dumb-luck and Murphy's Law would have it: Puzzle Quest: Galactrix finally released yesterday on XBLA for the equivalent of $20. Why do the games I'm always most excited to get release the week I'm about to leave on a trip? It has happened far too many times. From what I can tell, it seems to be a deeply engaging puzzle-RPG hybrid just like the original game in the series, yet this one has a space-theme instead of your standard fantasy realm with knights and elves. I played the first game on the DS and was wondering if I would miss the point-and-tap controls on the XBLA version and the answer is... drumroll, please... sometimes. The shortcomings of the Xbox 360 controller's D-pad have been widely discussed (Cliff's Notes version: it's utter crap), but it wasn't until playing Galactrix that I realized the Control Stick isn't the most accurate tool either.
Maybe it's me (it probably is) but I would recommend to everyone about to play the game on the Xbox 360 that they pause a moment before pressing the A Button to confirm a move. If you're anything like me, the gem you want to swap won't always be the one you select -- even though you clearly believe you pointed right at it.
The new Gears of War 2 maps and title update have succeeded in giving the group I play with incentive to eject their COD4 discs and return to the dark side that is third-person shooting. If only for a night or two, then it was straight back to COD4. As much as I absolutely do enjoy playing Gears 2's multiplayer mode, it's the only game that I've ever experienced any sense of lag in when playing online. And that's not hyperbole, it really is the only game I notice this with. And the 8 or so guys I play with regularly all say the same thing. It's also the only game I know of whose title updates and glitch-fixes get immediately hacked and exploited upon release. I don't know if it has to do with the Unreal Engine or if people just have certain affinity for exploiting Gears 2, or what. But there have been three "title updates" now to fix myriad glitches, hacks, and exploits, yet the jerkoffs among us still find ways to cheat. Name one other game this happens in? Time's up. You couldn't, could you? Me neither.
The latest title update added a rather simplistic XP leveling system. In short, you get experience for kills and downs, lose some for deaths and for quitting and you level up. You don't actually gain anything with reaching a new level, well nothing aside from the sense of pride you feel when you show the world how large your e-penis is. Mine's currently a 16 out of 100. Despite it being said to require 7,000,000 XP to reach level 100, a few of Xbox Live's premier douchebags found a way to hack the system and level up instantly. This is a good time to let you know that it's very difficult to average more than 800 to 1000 points per match. Note that I said average there. As much as I would like to place all of the blame on the jackasses who exploit games and cheat their way to a larger Gamerscore, I can't help but wonder if any of the code for this game is bullet-proof. I've been to Epic multiple times now and I've seen how hard the devs and designers work. That's why I wonder if it's the Unreal engine -- something ain't right for one game to be so heavily glitched & exploited.
The XP needed to level up is only attainable through Public matches which tend to be the most laggy. I wonder how many levels higher than me my friends will be by the time I get back. Right now we're all somewhere between 12 and 25. Again, the number only indicates how little sunlight you see, err, how much time you spend playing Gears 2. There are Achievements at milestones for 5, 15, 25, 50, and 100. I'll never see 100 and probably won't see 50 this year. Then again, the newest map pack -- Snowblind -- is pretty awesome. They remade Fuel Depot, one of our favorites, and finally included the Courtyard map that shipped with the original PC version of the first Gears of War game. There are also two others, Underhill and Grind Yard.
As much as I'm looking forward to going to South Korea tomorrow, I'm going to really miss rock climbing. Kristin and I have been going twice a week now for nearly two months now and though my hands are completely torn up, we're both really enjoying it. Kristin got a little frustrated the other night because I had a minor breakthrough and was able to do a few trickier (albeit, beginner) routes that she couldn't. She admitted later to hoping that bouldering would be something that she would finally excel at over me, but it wasn't too happen. She's doing really good, and gets better each time, but she has a bit more of a fear factor at work against her and my longer arms and height make a lot of the routes easier. Not to mention I just have more upper body strength.
I went to Stone Gardens yesterday alone for the first time after my dentist appointment. I spent an hour or so upstairs in "the cave" and was very happy to finally a ceiling route that Kristin and I have been trying for over a month. It was all in the feet. It's only rated V1 (out of a scale of V0 to V12) because the holds were really big and not too far apart, but I wasn't even close to getting it last week and yesterday I did it on my second try. I also came within one hold from getting a V1+ too.
My brother said a lot of the V0 and V1's that he saw at Stone Gardens would have been V3's at the place he climbs in at Boulder, CO so that makes me feel a little better about struggling with what, mathematically at least, is "the easiest" route in the building. I should add that they do have a number of VB rated routes for total first-timers too. For the past month I would focus mainly on the V0 routes and try one or two V1's per night. Sunday night, I solved four V1 routes (none I had seen before) and then yesterday I almost got that V1+ and was actually able to start a V2 that I tried just before leaving. A lot of times even figuring out how to get on the wall to start a route is really hard.
Anyway, I know I'm going to miss the climbing while we're away, not least because I'm enjoying the increased muscle tone in my shoulders and arms, but also because I don't want my hands to fully heal and get soft again. I'm trying to get them nice and calloused and not climbing for 2 weeks isn't going to help that.
Posts will be few and far between while I'm in South Korea. I'm not bringing any blackberries, laptops, or netbooks. I'm sure we'll pop in at a cyber-cafe every other two or three days to check email and maybe post something short, but those who know me IRL will likely find it easier to get a hold of me through Facebook than on the blog.
Have a good couple of weeks. See you back Stateside on the 21st.
Hello everyone, I’m Doug Walsh, a strategy guide author for BradyGames. I’ve been writing for BradyGames for almost 9 years now and have had the good fortune of authoring guidebooks for many of the best games to come out in recent years.
My editors have been keeping me busy this year with writing duties for Blue Dragon Plus, MadWorld, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine – not a bad way to start the year. And let me just say that if you haven’t played MadWorld, then you’re really missing out. MadWorld truly is one of the most artistic, entertaining, and hilariously violent games I’ve ever played. And I’m not just saying that because the good folks at Sega and Platinum Games stuffed me full of sushi and shochu while visiting Platinum’s offices in Osaka.
Speaking of which, you can see photos from my trip to Japan right here.
Our book for X-Men Origins: Wolverine will be on shelves later this month and though I’m a bit biased, any fan of the X-Men or comic books in general needs to check this game out. I really enjoyed the game’s light RPG elements and unleashing my inner Berserker has never been more fun. The Uncaged Edition (PS3 and Xbox 360 versions) is definitely not a game for the kiddies – Wolverine’s claws are razor-sharp for a reason – but it’s certainly one of the best comic book games I’ve played and is sure to be a great compliment to the movie releasing in May. Just be warned that if you want to find every Mutagen and collectible, then you had better pick up our book. Some of them are very, very well-hidden.
Lastly, and speaking of games based on comic book characters, I’m currently writing the strategy guide for Batman: Arkham Asylum (is this shaping up to be a great year for me, or what?). Naturally, I can’t reveal any details just yet, but having experienced nearly everything the game has to offer, I won’t hesitate to give it my highest recommendation. The blend of exploration, stealth, and combat is done exceptionally well and the developers at Rocksteady have done a phenomenal job capturing the Batman universe. I can’t get enough of the various Batgadgets and the writing, art style, and presentation of the game is very impressive. I hadn’t even heard of the game a month ago, but now it’s one of my favorite games of the year. And I expect it will be one of yours too.
After a mandatory coffee & bagel stop in Eastsound, we continued the drive around the horseshoe-shaped island to the trailhead I like to use near Cascade Lake. The route begins with a 1.8 mile kick-to-the-teeth. Good luck keeping your heart-rate below 180 as you grunt your way up and over the first few hills.
The group was keeping together well and I was confident we'd have a really great day. We regrouped at the start of the double-track climb up to Mt. Pickett and pedaled on. And that's when my ride ended. Despite it taking 6 hours roundtrip by car and ferry to reach this jewel of a trail system, despite it being my beloved bike's two-year birthday, and despite -- no because -- of me bringing my bike to get a tune-up in March, my derailleur hanger ripped in two at the start of the benign climb up Mt. Pickett and my day was done. The guy at the shop informed me when I picked it up that he straightened the derailleur hanger for me. I didn't know it was bent and if it was bent, the lack of ghost-shifting or chain-skippage is an indicator that the bend was minimal at best. I'm guessing the force he used to bend it back wasn't. As it simply sheared in two while pedaling a non-technical, debris-free, double-track path.
I have never in 11 years of mountain biking broke a derailleur hanger. I kept a spare with me for years when I owned my Giant, but hadn't gotten a spare for the Moots. I never heard of one breaking before.
Not wanting to stand around and listen to 8 different opinions about what I should do next, I tutored the group on the route we'd be taking (they had maps and Moran State Park is very well-signed) and I turned around and coasted back to the truck. Well, after taking off the chain and derailleur that is.
As luck would have it, one of my friends who also has a Moots mountain bike was driving by when I got out to the road -- she and her friends were going to shuttle Mt. Constitution (my group would climb it on their bikes). I asked if she had a spare Moots hanger, but no she didn't. She hadn't ever heard of one breaking either.
I decided that rather than take my broken bike and go home, I would drive to the top of Mt. Constitution, convert the bike to a single-speed, and wait for my group and do the descent with them.
The first sign that this wasn't going to be possible came when I reached a gate across the road before the summit. The road was closed for snow & ice. I thought about the route they were climbing and realized then that the uber-steep climb from Twin Lakes to the summit was on the north side of the mountain. I hadn't ever heard of snow lingering this late in the season at Moran State Park before, but it turns out the trail was buried with a few fresh inches from earlier in the week. There are portions that are unrideable in the best conditions. They would certainly be walking.
I knew converting a bike with a soft-tail and vertical dropouts to a single-speed was an iffy proposition. And I was right. It was simply impossible to keep the chain tension where it needed to be to keep the chain from falling off to a lower cog. I took out as many links from the chain as I could while still being able to actually close the loop, yet it took only a couple minutes of pedaling on the road before the chain popped off the cog. I tried to make a chain guide with zipties, but that didn't work either. My day was, indeed, done.
There are worse places to be stuck on a beautiful day with a broken bike than Orcas Island. I decided to not dwell too much on the misfortune and instead got cleaned up, drove back to Eastsound and got myself a cup of coffee and wandered the bookstore for a little while. Come 2 o'clock I drove back to the lake and napped in my car while listening to the Mariners game on the radio and feeling the chilly breeze blow through the open windows. I shook my head in amazement at the 8 year old boy swimming in the lake. The air was in the 50's and the water couldn't have even been that warm. Snow continued to melt on the hills around the lake.
The other riders returned shortly after 3:20. They descended from a direction I hadn't expected them to, and over 30 minutes later than I anticipated. They had to cut off a sizable portion of the route. The snow had slowed them down far too much. They had to walk the best portions of the trail due to snow, push uphills that could have been ridden, and simply didn't have enough time to do the backside portion of the spiral descent and certainly didn't have time to get around Mountain Lake.
In their words, I certainly didn't miss much.
And that's the last thing a ride leader ever wants to hear, especially after convincing people a 6-hour round-trip commute is worth it. And normally it is. I try to ride at Moran at least 1-2 times a year and there's no way I would if the trails weren't really fun. The trails are closed to bikes from May 15th to September 15th and I won't have time to return this spring, but I hope these 8 riders do indeed give it another chance in September when I return.
Now where did I put that phone number to the bike shop...
Man, I like the sounds of that: Komodo National Park. I've always been fascinated by these large predatory lizards and, well, the idea of visiting a park named after them and going on a hike with rangers to see them (preferably from a safe distance) is just surreal.
Too bad about the fisherman though, that must have been awful way to go.
Details about the park and how to get there.