My mother recently found one of the journals I kept during my wanderings in the 90’s, buried at the bottom of one of my old tin trunks that had been sitting out beside the woodpile at the lodge for a few years, and mailed it to me. Reading it has flung me back into the sweet mad whirl in which I lived for so many years, and brought back a peacock fantail of good and bad memories. Here’s an excerpt :

December 28 1992
Latitude N 21°50.51
Longitude W 105°52.89

After an overnight cruise south from Mazatlan, the shakes from the exhaustion after 2 or 3 hours sleep are chased away momentarily with a little caffeine.
At sunset, we had 5 sails up in a vain attempt to catch what little wind there was – jib, stay, main, mizzen staysail (which was actually the old chute from Taiping), and the mizzen. We must have looked magnificent in the fading light. But as the sun went down, the flukey light winds said ‘f–k it’ and went to bed. We dropped everything except the main and mizzen, tried in vain to get some speed, then gave up and sheeted them in tight and turned on the engine.
About three in the a.m., orange dots began to show up like measles on the radar. A veritable flotilla of fishing boats, all overlapping their nets in continuous lines miles long, raking everything alive out of the water. Miserable bastards. No running lights to speak of, of course, and the few there were obeyed no patterns, so we had a few tense hours winding our way amongst the boats, hoping like hell that we wouldn’t hit any of their nets. At least the sun-bright squid boats with their spidery armatures of lights pointing down into the water were easy to avoid.
Michael retired before we were through (a little worse for the beer I suspect) but we managed, Dale and I, to steer us through. Iron Mike, the autopilot, did most of the work – but we watched damn close, adjusting every minute or two. Came within a few hundred feet of a couple of them, which out on the open water felt close enough to smell their farts.
sh-t! Whales – I almost forgot. Not only was there a humpback in full breach not 200 feet from us as we approached Mazatlan a couple of days ago, which was my first glimpse, but shortly before sunset last night, while I was steering under sail, two more humpbacks surfaced and blew about 100 feet off the starboard beam. Curious, they turned to approach. The sheer size and majesty of those magnificent bastards terrified me. They came within about 20 feet of the rail, then, sounding, dove. Michael worried aloud that they’d ‘fall in love’ with the boat and bump it a little, rub against it some. They do that sometimes, he said. Maybe he was just messing with me. But they were at least as big as us, and we’re 71 feet LOA. I was all over the compass, heart pounding.
The whales surfaced again about half a mile off the port beam, having dived beneath us, then turned north and headed towards Mazatlan. We sailed on, slowly, sniffing for winds.

Wet Noodling

Gary Hart, as everyone knows by now, has his very own weblog thingy. This in and of itself is moderately interesting, I suppose. An indication to the starry-eyed that Blogging Really Does Matter (*cough*bullsh-t*cough*), a sign to the less credulous that political PR fluffsters are working every damn angle they can (possibly having studied the RagingCow Episode and powerpointed up a clever way to avoid the halfwit faux-hip clankers that fell like blue-ice jet-toilet turdmeteors in the wake of that one). I stopped by Gary’s site for the first time today, and was…uh, underwhelmed.
If this is the kind of rhetoric we can expect from the defanged and image-managed yawnocrats that roam free-range across the political landscape in America these days, we may well be in deeper sh-t than we think. Ten out of ten for linking to Metafilter on the blogroll, Gary, but minus several million for meaningless, pandering empty-talk like this :

Bruce asked what kind of non-violent cause or causes might unite America and why Democrats have not proposed it. I can suggest at least three: homeland security, energy security, and national productivity. Americans should be enlisted in an urgent national effort to secure our neighborhoods against terrorist attacks. We can volunteer for training in emergency medical response in case of mass casualties and assume auxiliary police and fire duties. Our people would also rally around a national project to make us sufficiently energy efficient that no American need die for foreign oil in the future. And we can all participate in shifting our economy from one of consumption to one of saving, investment, and productivity.

Yeah, right, that’s it. And, as a wise man once said, monkeys will fly out of my butt.
That said, though, this entry is somewhat less tepid, and briefly fans aglow that deeply buried spark of hope I still carry around in the skull of a goat (wait, no, that was Quest For Fire, wasn’t it?) that all is not lost.

Oh, It's All So Icky

So I heard some people are averting their eyes, avowing that they’ll Blog No More about all the War and Death and Ugliness and Ickiness; telling us that they feel they must disengage from the angry and divisive back-and-forth bayonette to the guts wartalk flying back and forth across the blogosphere lately. It’s just so taxing. Too much, too wild, too real, too damn disruptive to quiet contemplation and coffee consumption. The voices who shout out against war are all but indistinguishable in their stridency from the voices who cheer the Forces of Freedom, darn it! I thought all that fact-checking of their asses would be fun! It’s all so easily parsed, too obvious – I know the forces of Good are the Forces of Evil, sometimes, silly, and the Evil Doers are still there, darn it, and the Doers of Good are semi-plus unbad, well, at least sometimes, and I weary of explaining it all to my loyal readers, and besides all this typing is making me tired already, especially when some random Googlenaut winds up at My Personal Website with a search for “America Number One” +pussy -cheeselogs and leaves a comment that makes me feel like my carefully chosen words are all pearls-before-swining themselves, and I just can’t do it any more, I need to find my happy place….
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m thinking you can go f–k yourselves, you lame sh-tmorsels. Grab some anger [mp3 – 2Mb] and ride it into the dirt, or step the f–k back.

(If this is unfair to those who have made a firm stand against making a firm stand, well, tough sh-t is all I can say to you this evening, my friends.)


Lostintransit.org is a new site written by expatriates of which I’ve been asked to be a part, and for which I look forward with great anticipation to writing faux-intolerant screeds about Korea (and other Lovely and Welcoming Exotic Locales).
Once I get this pickaxe out of my forehead, that is.
An interesting and diverse group of people there, nicely rounded out by the presence of some Miraculous Poultry, if I do say so myself…


Out of nowhere this evening, I remembered one afternoon many years ago when my friend Rick’s and my paths had crossed – in New Zealand I think it was – and he asked me what I’d been doing for the last couple of years, expecting one of my 6-beer-long monologues.
I paused, said the first thing that came to mind : “Tuggin’.” He laughed.
Deliberately dumb, that exchange became a shorthand ritual in later years when our travels would bring us back together in the same place for a day, or for a week.
“How’ve you been?” he’d ask. “Tuggin’,” I’d reply, and that would be that.
It was our code to signify that it didn’t really matter how long we’d been apart, that the thread of our friendship could be picked up again without missing a beat, no matter how long the time intervening, that we were more often than not men without women and not too worried about it, and that the telling of tales could always wait until we’d had a bottle of wine or three.
I remembered that this evening, and then I remembered that it wouldn’t ever happen again, because he’s dead. God damn it.

Awareness Matters

Linguist George Lakoff talks again about the metaphors that have been and are continuing to be used to sell this war to the public, the very same metaphors that were used back in Gulf War I (and many other times as well).
He also has some points to make about the anti-war movement, which echo what some friends in the neighbourhood are discussing at the moment, and in which they may well be interested.

I think it is crucially important to understand the cognitive dimensions of politics – especially when most of our conceptual framing is unconscious and we may not be aware of our own metaphorical thought. I have been referred to as a “cognitive activist” and I think the label fits me well. As a professor, I do analyses of linguistic and conceptual issues in politics, and I do them as accurately as I can. But that analytic act is a political act: Awareness matters. Being able to articulate what is going on can change what is going on – at least in the long run.
This war is a symptom of a larger disease. The war will start presently. The fighting will be over before long. Where will the anti-war movement be then?
First, the anti-war movement, properly understood, is not just, or even primarily, a movement against the war. It is a movement against the overall direction that the Bush administration is moving in. Second, such a movement, to be effective, needs to say clearly what it is for, not just what it is against.
Third, it must have a clearly articulated moral vision, with values rather than mere interests determining its political direction.

[via Mefi]

Bill Gates is Dead – Psych!

This morning, Korean television news reported that Bill Gates had been shot dead by an unknown assailant.
The ‘news’ grew out of rumour in Taiwan, apparently. How it made it to the national networks in Korea is anyone’s guess. But I was really upset, and surprised at myself for feeling so bad about it, at least until I heard an hour or so later that it was complete bollocks.
I don’t know why that would be.

A Better Man Than I

Jonathon Delacour responds to a witless comment on his wbelog with an essay both thoughtful and forceful. I realized as I read it that I would quite probably would have replied to similar accusations with ‘oh, shut the f–k up,’ and I realized again that I have a lot to learn from people like Jonathon (and others, I know, many many others).
As I head off to bed, I have some things to turn over in my mind before I wake. (Of course, that said, I’ll probably dream about impregnating the Statue of Liberty or something equally goofy, but I’m a firm believer in metaphor, so it’s all good.)
Lesson #13,207 in my personal education, and another one that may teach me how to become a better man. Or at least one that doesn’t hit first and ask questions later.

Erections Are Sometimes Quite Pleasant

Spring has sprung in Seoul, and the last few days have averaged about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than the average for this time of year; the prevailing winds from the East, which are unusual and have not only encouraged the blossoms to open but have cleared away some of the smog to which I have reluctantly become accustomed, well, those warm, cheek-tickling breezes have also made me hornier than a three-peckered billy goat, as my colourful character of step-father is given to say.
Perhaps it’s just death that has me tumescent. Apparently that happens, sometimes. Regardless, sex. Mmm, sex.

Been there, seen that

I’m sure everyone’s already seen this, as it’s been on that there newfangled Daypop thingy all the kids are talkin’ about for a couple of days, but it is pure brilliance, and I’m a sharing, caring kinda guy :

By Anonymous

PeaceNik: Why did you say we are we invading Iraq?
WarMonger: We are invading Iraq because it is in violation of security council resolution 1441. A country cannot be allowed to violate security council resolutions.
PN: But I thought many of our allies, including Israel, were in violation of more security council resolutions than Iraq.
WM: It’s not just about UN resolutions. The main point is that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction, and the first sign of a smoking gun could well be a mushroom cloud over NY.
PN: Mushroom cloud? But I thought the weapons inspectors said Iraq had no nuclear weapons.
WM: Yes, but biological and chemical weapons are the issue.
PN: But I thought Iraq did not have any long range missiles for attacking us or our allies with such weapons.
WM: The risk is not Iraq directly attacking us, but rather terrorists networks that Iraq could sell the weapons to.
PN: But coundn’t virtually any country sell chemical or biological materials? We sold quite a bit to Iraq in the eighties ourselves, didn’t we?
WM: That’s ancient history. Look, Saddam Hussein is an evil man that has an undeniable track record of repressing his own people since the early eighties. He gasses his enemies. Everyone agrees that he is a power-hungry lunatic murderer.
PN: We sold chemical and biological materials to a power-hungry lunatic murderer?
WM: The issue is not what we sold, but rather what Saddam did. He is the one that launched a pre-emptive first strike on Kuwait.
PN: A pre-emptive first strike does sound bad. But didn’t our ambassador to Iraq, April Gillespie, know about and green-light the invasion of Kuwait?
WM: Let’s deal with the present, shall we? As of today, Iraq could sell its biological and chemical weapons to Al Quaida. Osama BinLaden himself released an audio tape calling on Iraqis to suicide-attack us, proving a partnership between the two.

The Winner and Still Cham-peen

Yay! We win! Seoul has the worst air quality amongst all cities in OECD countries. Yes, it’s worse than Rome, worse than Mexico city even.

Seoul’s air pollution is the worst among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Environment Ministry said yesterday.
The capital’s particulate matter (PM), which can cause various respiratory problems, was measured at 71 micrograms per cubic meter at the end of 2001, the ministry said.
The figure is the highest among OECD countries, surpassing the 60 micrograms reported in Rome, Italy, and 53 micrograms for Mexico City – cities that are both notorious for severe urban air pollution.
Moscow recorded the lowest pollution level in terms of PM with 10 micrograms, with cities such as Paris and Auckland also significantly lower than Seoul with 24 and 25 micrograms, respectively.
The density of nitrogen dioxide in Seoul was 0.037 ppm (parts per million), ranking third after Moscow with 0.058 ppm and Bratislava, Slovakia, with 0.047 ppm. Excessive exposure to nitrogen dioxide can exacerbate pneumonia and bronchitis.

The prize? Well, let’s just say Korean can-do spirit extends to cancer, too. I sometimes wonder why I bothered to quit smoking three years ago (except for my occasional cocktail-time cigar). Now I can relax in the knowledge that any tumors that develop will be Someone Else’s Fault. Comforting, that.

Worth The Time

I’ve been casting my nets a little wider today, looking for some meaty and delicious commentary on The War on Terra Iraq Everyone, and found this weblog. Thought I’d share, as I’d never run across it before.
Well worth reading, whatever your take on the dark days in which we find ourselves.


From the three years or so I recently lived in Sydney Australia, my primary olfactory memory is of stale pee. At least twice a block, on my daily walk downtown from my apartment in Surrey Hills to my job at Town Hall, my tender nostrils would be assaulted by a cloud of piss-reek so terrifying, so staggering in its ability to claw its way up into your sinuses and perch giggling behind your eyeballs… well, let’s just say it was pretty damn whiffy. This stink would taunt me, mock me, appear and disappear willo-the-piss, then turn a corner and pow! there it would be again.
The odd thing, though, was that although there was an almost constant smell of downtown pee, I almost never saw anyone actually, well, doing it. A city of ghost-whizzers.
Here in Seoul, it’s almost impossible to walk down the street in the evening, particularly on a Friday or Saturday, without spotting two or three teetering drunks fumbling at their little weiners and tinkling on a wall or car or doorway or small child too slow to escape. One particularly enthusiastic gent a while back was on the subway platform at about 5 pm, canted at a 60 degree angle or so, pants around his knees, squeezing out a sadly unimpressive stream toward the opposite platform, where I was standing. It was difficult to tell for sure, but I was under the impression he was trying to hit me, and was frustrated that he was falling short by a good 50 feet or so.
But for all the determined urban micturation here, I almost never smell pee. It’s odd.
I have concluded as a result of this painstaking scientific study that the urine of Korean men does not smell. Your mileage may, as they say, vary.