Thursday, November 30, 2006

Those were the days,

filled with rubber bed liners and Ronald McDonald sheets...

a few random bits of nostalgia. indulge me.

Lately, I've been walking around my house singing songs like, "Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham" and "The Lord said to Noah there's gonna be a floody floody", along with "seek and ye shall find blah blah blah and love, love, love comes a tricklin down. " Church songs. Not Christmas related. But damn, we had fun at those folk masses when we were kids, didn't we? My mom, her best friend and my father, when he wasn't out at sea, would play the guitar, and we'd all get down and groove in the glory of the Lord. There is something about the feeling of innocence that those songs bring back that is really appealing. And well, it's one thing that I can remember really sharing with my family when I was a kid. And even now on those rare occasions that I am in the same room with my sister, we annoy the hell out of whoever is there by singing the Noah's Ark song. Why? Because it feels good.

When I was a kid, my mom's whole family would rent a beach house together in the Carolinas (well, that was where we lived) for, I don't know, a week in the summer? Every morning, we'd wake up to grandma cooking, Folgers coffee and cigarette smoke. Aunt C, in her long, ugly turquoise terrycloth zip up robe, would be in the kitchen picking at something in the fridge (sometimes raw ground beef- gross!) and our uncle, Buck, would still be asleep in bed. My mom and her baby brother would sit around the kitchen table chatting; Grandpa at the table with his crossword puzzle, or possibly at the Food Lion or Piggly Wiggly for some groceries; and the cousins and siblings would be somewhere underfoot. And this was my special time with grandma. I started drinking black coffee with her at the beach house when I was 4 or 5. And after that summer, whenever I visited grandma, we'd sit in the kitchen together with our coffee just like I was a real grown up woman. And that's how the addiction began.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In Other News:

Chicken is off the menu here in Korea. Avian InFluenza, a.k.a. Bird Flu is back...


Beef is also off the menu. Korea just lifted the ban on importing American beef (yeah for prices, boo for health, apparently), but no one wants to eat it because they are worried about mad cow disease. (Are Americans worried? seriously, no one in Asia wants American beef). AND it is political to not eat American beef because Koreans are viewing it as part and parcel of the free trade agreement (fta) that is being negotiated with the US, which something like 70% of Koreans are against. They see the beef as a symbol of American imperialism... which I guess it is? I mean, everyone thinks it's a public health risk and they think the government lifted the ban, against the wishes of the majority, so negotiations would go more smoothly. Is this just a preview of what will happen if the FTA is approved? Most people think so...

Which is really too bad because I've really been craving a cheese burger this week. Should I risk it?

That leaves pork.


Let's all be vegetarians again. Or pescatarians. What's life in Korea without dried squid, after all?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Just Look At Your Terrible Life!

So I managed to pull together a Thanksgiving Meal and invited some korean friends, but about halfway through the meal I lost interest in the idea of Thanksgiving because everyone was speaking korean and i felt alone anyways. So they had a great time and loved my (quasi) American cooking, while I spent half of the evening looking to see if any of my family tried to call me or send me any messages (they didn't) and cleaning up after the human termites who were in my house. Yes, that is kimchi on left corner of the table. What do you want, I live in Korea.

Here are the termites, aka my korean family, at work. When we were mostly done with the eating portion of the programme and moved on to binge drinking, Nak June made what is now famously called his goddamn. It started with making kiwi peels into shot glasses and progressed into an apple cup that had a little bit of everything on the table in it. It was disgusting. I guess we needed some entertainment.

Nak June and Kang Yong would say, "just look at your terrible life!" It's a joke around our house these days about how pathetic we all are, but really, look at my terrible life. Right now my classes aren't in session and I'm only working two days a week (in the evenings) so I'm really having problems getting motivated and finding things to fill my days. My house is already spotless and I've read a shit-ton of books lately and I'm sort of at a loss for what comes next. Some days i don't get out of my pjs at all. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? The good news is that classes start again next week, so I'll least be busy on a sort of half-time basis, although I'm not feeling very enthusiastic about learning Korean these days.

It's kimchi making season, so you see stacks of cabbage and turnips hanging out all over the place this time of year. This is in my neighborhood. I'm going to make kimchi next week with an activist group. I'll let you know how it goes.

This is a persimmon tree with persimmons drying on it. It's a little confusing because the persimmons are no longer attached to the tree, but actually they originally came from that tree. I don't like persimmons myself, but if I did, I would be lucky because I have access to this very tree from my rooftop. I was excited until I tasted the fruit. Too sweet.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

remembering and moving on

It's Thanksgiving... And so, just for a moment let's debunk American mythology about Thanksgiving's origins. According to an article written by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro (found in Z magazine's November print edition), the first Thanksgiving Day was recorded in Massachusetts in 1637. The event that led to Thanksgiving Day was not, as our history teachers would lead us to believe, the Pilgrims and Indians in Plymouth working together to survive a difficult winter, but in fact a celebration of a massacre of more than 700 Pequot men, women and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut. The Massachusetts Bay Colonists surely faced very difficult circumstances in their first years in the "new world," but their survival was not borne out friendliness with natives, instead it was ensured by the numerous raids and massacres of American Indians that enabled the colonists to loot and pillage native communities for food and other supplies.

In 1970, the American Indian Movement declared Thanksgiving Day as a Day of Mourning for Indians throughout the Americas, and asks people to remember that our country has been built on the backs of Native Americans, who have been cheated, massacred, and lied to since before our county's inception. So before you take a big bite out of that juicy tofu turkey, remember to remember the people who were here first, and ask for their forgiveness while you are at it.

And Moving On:
Yes, I am in Korea. Yes, I am actually celebrating Thanksgiving. Does it sound like hypocrisy because of what I just wrote? Well, too bad. You see, I think that the idea of Thanksgiving is actually a really good one. People of different cultures all over the world celebrate some sort of Thanksgiving and I think it is important to take a special day to feel grateful for everything that we have. But we should remember how we got here, and so while we celebrate, we should do it with a little bit of a heavy heart for all the mistakes we made along the way.

and really really moving on:
How do you cook a Thanksgiving Feast with no oven??!! Tonight I am making a dinner for a handful of friends, but well, Koreans don't use ovens. They hardly exist at all in this country. I don't even know someone who knows someone who has an oven. For real though.

So my menu, you ask? I have no freakin' idea, but I'd better get to work because it's 11am and I haven't even started shopping! I have something that kind of looks like a broiler (I've only used it to bake sweet potatoes) and a ghetto toaster oven that seems like it is going to explode after two pieces of bread, but I think I'm going to try and cook Salmon. It seems risky, especially because that particular fish costs about as much a plastic surgery in Korea, but I think I might be able to pull it off.

Here's a list of the food you can't find in Korea (usually) and so will not be on my menu:
Green Beans
Cheese (except for [Philadelphia] cream cheese and American)
cilantro (who needs that on Thanksgiving?!)
vanilla extract (baked goods are doubly out)
cornbread stuff

I will have none of my Thanksgiving staples, except for sweet potatoes, which are in abundance here. What I really want is green beans and pecan pie. An impossibility.

So now I'm off to:
buy some food (where and what I have no idea)
finish cleaning my house so my friends aren't disgusted
edit an mtu paper
take a shower
finally hopefully cook something that is edible

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. If anyone wants to FedEX me some pecan pie, I won't complain one bit.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

it's the small things

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here's my attempt to stop complaining and tell the world about things that I actually like:

-- Ho DDeok- Funny spelling? Yes, but it tastes darn delicious. Ho Ddeok is a Korean adaption of an originally chinese pancake that is so darn yummy and cheap (only $.50) that you have to eat them every time you see them. They start with a slab of dough, slather some sweet cinnamon and nut concoction on it, make it into a ball and then flatten it out on a hot and greasy griddle. Warning, the gooey deliciousness inside will burn your lips and stick to your clothes if not handled with care!

--My neighborhood. So like, in some ways I really hate my neighborhood. Why? Because all of the worse elements of the North American ex-pat scene can be found here. Fortunately for me, I live up the hill, slightly away from the racist expats and the Koreans who love them. So let's take a walk up the hill to the Korean side of the 'hood. See up there, the best kimchi in all of Korea can be found (and my kimchi grandma as I call her, who always tells me I speak Korean well and then asks me if she is beautiful). And up there, the ho ddeok lady is extra sweet. And, up there, the neighborhood grannies hang out in the 24 atm room to stay warm because they love each other's company so much. Kids play in the street and roam freely because all of the shop owners are their surrogate parents. And from up there, it is only a short walk to one of my favorite Korean activist groups: Suyo pluse Nomo. From up there, you have an excellent view of everything south of the Han River, and from up there you can catch a bus to downtown Seoul.

--This morning I awoke with the smell of garlic in my nostrils. I know, it sounds weird that I'd actually enjoy that, but it means that my downstairs neighbor is in phase 2 of kimchi making, which I kind of get to watch because it happens outside in front of my house. And I love kimchi!! (and last winter, she gave us some-- mmmmmmmmmmmm)

--Ondul Floors. Feeling cold? Sit on the floor! Hate putting your feet on the floor in the morning? Hate no more. Ondul floors make winter downright delightful. And in fact, I love not having a bed because the floor is so nice and toasty. Only the bathroom doesn't have ondul, in fact the bathroom doesn't have heat of any kind, so in the winter, it is definitely the least desirable place to spend your time. Poop fast and shower faster so you can rush back to the floor and feel nice.

--The internet is fan-freakin-tastic. This month, I taught myself how to crochet by looking at pictures (of course, I had previous instruction almost exactly one year ago, but said previous instructor is now residing in the USA - much to my dismay- and is probably lounging at her parents' house making a crocheted monkey as I write). Of course, I have not yet gotten beyond finger warmers (you must wrap and tie) and mustache warmers, which can also serve as handkerchiefs in case of runny nose. Sure it looks a little gross, but it beats dripping on your upper lip! And let's hooray for new hobbies while we're at it!

-- Rice. Kim (dried seaweed, not my american friend). Dried Squid with sweet gochujang. My lunch. Every day. And darn good.

--The Ginkgo and Japanese Maple trees on my way to the subway station. Outstanding.

--Living next to Nam San (South Mountain). On weekend nights it's more like living next to Grand Prix practice for geared out Koreans, but nearly every other time and day, it's a great place to get away from the hardcore cityscape and enjoy a little nature.

--Splurging on books: I am now simultaneously reading "Becoming Madame Mao," "Little Infamies," "No One Writes to the Colonel," and the November issue of Z Magazine. I was starved for reading for so long. And now I have all these books that I have to read all at the same time because it is so darn exciting. Maybe it sounds confusing to read about revolutionary China, Greece, Latin America and American politics all at the same time, but really it's not. Especially if you are mostly unemployed, like me.

--Realizing that you are good at something. Last night I substitute taught for the school I was recently fired from (don't get me started on that, it'll bring down the quality of the "small things" post) and realized that I really turn students on. They were down right excited with me at the head of the classroom. And gosh darn it, it was even fun. ... So why do I hate working so much?

-- And last of the day: Waking up in a hug. Yes, I especially like that. And who wouldn't?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Korean Dysfunctional Season Disorder

Last year I had this feeling too. Like I vaguely knew that the holidays were upon us, though I couldn't tell you exactly when they would appear. This year, I missed Halloween completely (yes, I was totally oblivious) and I have only discovered that this week- Thursday -is Thanksgiving from an email I received from a friend inviting me to their dinner, if only I could access some sort of free magical teleporter. In a vain attempt to keep track of American holidays, I had written Thanksgiving onto my living room calendar so that my Korean roommates would know why I was depressed that day and why I had cooked an inordinate amount of food. But, I actually wrote it on a Tuesday, the week after Thanksgiving. I mean, I guess in reality, we can be thankful any old day, but this just seemed to reinforce the fact that I am a lost American adrift in a sea of Koreans.

For the first time in my live abroad life, I have no American friends. I have no point of connection for Western holidays. Yay, for immersion, but BOO for feeling totally out of it. I noticed this week as I strolled through Myeong Dong that they were putting up Christmas lights on all of the major department stores (tastefully, I might add, but I think it was only the beginning) and in the cheaper market areas of NamDaeMun and Dongdaemun, tacky santa claus stores have appeared. But this means nothing to me because right next to santa claus, you can buy halloween masks. To make matters even more confusing, Fall has only reached Seoul in the last two weeks, and some of the Ginkos and Sycamores are still green; the Japanese Maples are green, burgundany and brilliant red all at the same time. Sure, I've started wearing a coat outdoors, but this has more do with keeping up with Seoul fashion than it does the weather.

And this morning I read my mom's blog about her feeling all scroogey about the commercialization of Christmas. Well, mom, don't come to Seoul now because Christmas is only here for commercial purposes. In Korea, Christmas is a "romantic-style couple day" when lovers buy each other things they don't need (and in my estimation are pretty ugly), and stroll hand in hand by Cheon Gye Cheon , a newly gentrified (in Seoul Metro Government speak "restored") area that during this time of year is chock full of hyperchristmas spirit. And everyone wears those stupid pink dog face hats that they got for free with their purchase of a baskin robbins ice cream cake, which for some reason, despite the cold weather, also becomes very popular this time of year (maybe it's the free hats and earmuffs?)

To make matters worse, I know that this year for the first time in what seems like my whole adult life, my family has actually planned a big Christmas celebration at my mother's home. I searched desperately for a plane ticket, but the cheapest one I found cost $1,800 before taxes and I would have to miss 3 days of my very expensive Korean class, which I absolutely cannot afford to fail (I mean literally I can't because then I would lose my visa and would have wasted all that money).

Anyway, lately my life feels like I'm in "Lost in Translation" except that there is no Bill Murray character. Imagine that movie without Bill Murray; it's not nearly as fun or interesting, right?

Did I mention that it actually snowed here a few weeks ago?

Goddammit, I wish that Magnolia tree right outside my house would just drop its leaves (which are still mostly brilliant green) so we could get on with winter. Then maybe everything would feel normal.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why Woman Warrior?

Because a few years ago my friend gave me a "War Goddess" movie poster with the tag line: "Women Warriors as sexy as they are savage. Women Rulers as passionate as they are powerful." And it was funny. Sure, the movie was made by Terence Young, the original and sexist brain behind James Bond, but we can re appropriate, can we not? So I did....
Anyone know how I can put this picture on my profile without signing up for yet another Internet service that I don't need or want?

Friday, November 17, 2006

life as a constant identity crisis

Here are some thoughts that have been churning in my head since my return to Korea, but I only realized I was thinking them today. Here's my story:

I first came to Korea in February of '05 to make some money. Lots of money. I was feeling poor and bored back home, sick of Bush and his cronies, and not particularly committed to anything or anyone. Honestly, the move to Korea didn't feel huge (I mean aside from the fact that I sold or gave away half of what I owned, put the rest in storage and had long and tearful goodbyes with my friends and family, especially my sister). I got here, found a community of friends and activists who accepted me and understood me and things were quite dandy. I even started trying to learn Korean, which believe me, is no small feat.

The following February, my employment contract was up (thank god!), I had banked some money and promptly made plans to spend it all traveling. "Why get a new job right away?" I said to myself. "A new employer won't give you time off for your sister's wedding, and here you are in Asia, so travel you idiot!" So my first month off I spent in China. That was fun. But a little lonely.

I returned to Korea the first week in April to hang out for a week before heading back to the USA for a reunion with my family and friends. And then the bombshell: You see actually, I was quite in love with someone who was also quite in love with me, only neither of us really knew it. Or didn't want to know it. We spent every free moment together that week without ever mentioning our feelings, that is until the night before I left. I know, that's so predictable, but we had good reasons to avoid each other, and our confessions were purely accidental.

This man, we'll call him the General Secretary, is an illegal worker in Korea. He is from Bangladesh and came here 10 years ago mostly because of the political situation in his country. He came into Korea on a tourist visa and has never left. He has worked in sweatshops (which abound in Korea), sewn clothes, built buildings, and has probably done a million other shitty things that I don't know about. The bitch of it is that this guy is an intellectual. A historian. And a bit of a language savant. And he has a social conscience. Let me tell you, I may be a woman in love, but this guy is really incredible.

Being in a relationship with an undocumented worker is terrifying. The Korean government has an official policy hunting migrant workers- migrants get picked up in subway stations, food markets, factories, and lately off the streets in any old place. It's easy here because well, the only Koreans that exist look Korean. Pretty much everyone else here is a tourist of some variety, so immigration just picks out all of the non-white foreigners, and because nearly two-thirds of the foreigners here are illegal, immigration's chance of finding someone to deport is more than decent. Every time the General Secretary is late (which is pretty much every day), every time he doesn't answer the phone or return a text message, I think he has been picked up by the police. Maybe this sounds irrational, but so many of our friends have been caught and deported over the last year, that hanging out in the migrant community begins to feel like hanging out in a terminal cancer ward. Appreciate every moment because you don't know if you'll see them next time.

The General Secretary's story is even more complicated. I really don't want to admit this (because I know my mom is reading!!), but when he left Bangladesh, he had a wife who was pregnant. So that's right, he has a lovely, brilliant and beautiful 10 year old daughter whom he has never met face to face, but talks to quite frequently on the phone. And if marriage is a complicated affair in Bangladesh, you should try divorce. No, there are no laws preventing it, and as far as I know, no social stigmas, BUT well, it seems to be a family affair. As though it's not complicated enough between two people, both his family and her family have been in negotiations for what seems like eons. Now I have to admit to you that this situation does not actually stress me out. Not yet. I mean really, this is only dangerous if immigration gets to him... before, before....

And this is where I am having an identity crisis.

It's like this: I never wanted to be married. Really. Not a priority, not in my plan (as much as a plan ever existed), and well actually, I'm kind of anti-marriage. You see, it's just that I think it's not the state or the church's business if someone is sleeping in my bed for a month or for the rest of my life. I can understand marriage in a social context, an important ceremonial context, but god and government need not be involved. And like I said before, I just didn't think marriage was for me. Marriage is for nice people. Like my little sister.

And Babies? Well, no fucking way was I ever going to bring a child into this nasty god forsaken world. Maybe one day, if I ever got old enough, I would adopt. But conception just seems like a painful idea, for a woman and a child.

So why then, am I having this sudden personal betrayal of everything I've felt sure of for as long as I can remember? I feel like I'm betraying my politics, my platform of zero population growth, and my feminism because, uh, these days I just want to get married and live in the country with a nice big garden and have a few babies. I mean, fuck this work world shit- it's a man's world and it can stay that way for all I care (no more whoring my labor out to bosses goddamn it!) Can't I puh-lease just be a housewife? I know it's hard work, but hey, you are your own boss, or at least your children are your boss and they may be tyrannical, but it's better than some strange man (or very confused woman) screwing you over every way he (or she) can figure out...

Oh the confusion. But really, maybe being a housewife is a subversive thing to do these days?

things that I'm sick of:

1. This headache. I've had it since Tuesday and last night it was so bad that I had trouble lifting my head off the pillow. And there was some nausea involved. Today it is back to a dull pulse behind my eyes and mostly on the right side of my head. Won't it ever stop?

2. Celebrating Democrats: No, stupid face, I'm not a Republican. All I've gotta say to our Democratic Leaders is put your money where your mouth is. Am I happy that dems won? Yeah sure, I mean they can't be worse than our previous law-makers, but do I really think that anything is going to change? Hell no. Nancy Pelosi and her "hold the fuck on" face that everyone has been talking about doesn't impress me for a minute.

I don't mean to sound so snide and cynical, but I would just like to remind everyone out there that we had, in fact, waged war on Iraq long before the GW administration stole the election in 2000. Clinton and his pals imposed sanctions that killed more than a million Iraqis (to which M. Albright said, "this is they price we must pay" for those who pay no heed to international law), AND we bombed them with uranium depleted missiles which has sent cancer rates and birth defects soaring since 1991. The difference between Bush and Clinton? Under Clinton, AMERICANS weren't getting killed.

Let's take domestic policy as another example. Under Clinton, the economy was booming, right? So how come the gap between the rich and the poor continued to grow at alarming rates? How come REAL wages for Americans remained stagnant or declined? How come these horrible free trade agreements that hurt workers and farmers continued to be negotiated? Why did more women and children get kicked off of welfare? Because the economic and domestic policy during the Clinton years was to grow the economy and maintain the status-quo that the Reagan administration created.

I know that Bush is wasting more money than Clinton. I know that the state of the US's international relationships has worsened since Bush as become president.... YYYYYYESSSSSSS! I know, Bush is worse, BUT Bush is not fundamentally different than Clinton. Really, I'm saying that we Americans are going to have the same problems no matter who the president is. Why, you ask? Well, because all of our politicians are millionaires and businessmen and on the take from corporations who don't give a single fucking iota about our well-being. Really, it's that simple.

All this thinking of politics is making my head hurt even more. If I had my way, I would throw everyone out of Washington and re-make the whole darn system. Back to things I'm sick of:

3. The Poverty-Debt Cycle and Credit Card Companies (which I've already written about here)

4. Being Alone. Here in Korea, I have no English-Speaking girlfriends. I miss girls. And I miss friends. And these days, I even miss English.

5. Is eating egg-n-a-hole for every meal further proof that I am reverting into a bratty child?

The good news is that I can't think of anything else that I'm sick of. Except this: always being sick of things. Is this becoming some sort of disease in America?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

28 and Three-Quarters Is No Time To Grow Up

Or not getting over that 12-year-old-my-dad-got-remarried-and-has-a-new-family anger...

So this morning, I strolled into my favorite immigrants' rights organization in the hopes of making a contribution. And rest assured, I did make a contribution, though some might consider it a contribution in the wrong direction... Okay, I admit it, I yelled. Not at anyone, just at my computer. I think my exact words were, "that fucking psycho bitch found me." That's right. I checked my email and discovered that my ex-step-sister, with whom I never shared a single delightful moment, had looked me up on myspace or some such nonsense and wanted to "drop me a line and say hi". Well, I've got something to drop, and it sure as hell ain't a line.

Listen, I've really, really, really been trying to work out all this family anger stuff. There is internet evidence of this. You can read
here and here and here. Really, I think about this stuff all the time. But just when I think I've made some peace, gotten over something, there is a new bullet flying at my heart that I, of course, didn't expect. I mean let's face it, does anyone really expect to get shot at?

Okay, so here are my issues (and keep in mind that I'm only 12):
  • SHE calls MY father "dad". I don't even call my father "dad". I mean, I just started talking to him again after a really, really really long time. Is this further proof that he abandoned his REAL family for those imposters? Those mean, take-my-father-away-from-me-and-move-into-my-bedroom-and-take- all-of-my-stuff, too- jerks.

  • Okay, so like when we were kids, there was this one time when she chased her youngest sister around the house with a knife in a total rage threatening to kill her and then yanked the phone out of the wall when I tried to call my REAL mom. Youngest Sister ended sobbing, shaking and hiding in the corner of an attic bedroom while the rest of us tried to not to get the knife pointed at us- unsuccessfully, I might add. That day, we were all really afraid for our lives, and even more for her youngest sister. I still don't know what set her off, but I remember it very distinctly because at that time, I felt like I was imprisoned in my father's house for our two week "vacation" with our abusive step-mother and her eldest daughter, the prison guard.

  • Did I mention that she took the joy out of nearly every salvagable "family" moment?

  • She called MY grandmother "grandma". Well, here's some news pyscho: Her name was IRIS, and that was what her REAL grandchildren called her.

Now I know that I sound childish, mean and like I lack the perspective of an adult, but these things really do bother me, not because I hate oldest-ex-step-sister (do I?), but because they actually point to larger issues with my family that I haven't resolved yet. I know, I hate being able to intellectualize it; I really just wish I could wallow in my anger without analyzing it because it makes me feel like a divided person. I'm having a fight with myself now, as I write:

"WW (that's me), you should just forgive her because we are all kids and did mean things to each other and competed for out parents attention."

"WW (that's me), fuck that shit, she's a crazy bitch that you never liked anyway, so why bother even thinking about it?"

"WW, (that's me), is she really in your family anyway??!!"

And "WW (that's me), Why can't you just calm down and realize that you are always right no matter what you think."

Okay, so I have to admit that I like that 3rd response best, but this still doesn't leave me feeling any better. Am I going to "message" her back? Hell no! Am I going to try and think nice thoughts about her? I haven't decided yet. I guess I'm not ready to get over my family anger yet.

This Ole Blog

So like, I wanted to import my old dumpy blog on friendster to this new shiny one, but I can't figure out how to do it. Which is really too bad because, well, all you people out there in the blogosphere are missing out on some darn good stuff... So, for posterity's sake here is the link to my old blog.