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cat under stars

April 2014



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Apr. 20th, 2014


Mystery solved

For one, about why I stopped using LJ.  It takes forever to load, and if you type while it's loading it will lose what you typed in favor of your last entry.  No fun.

So last night I get itchy feet, the desire to wander, but with my ankle merely rested and not healed there was no way I was going into town.  Sure it was downhill getting there, but it's uphill getting back.  Sure I could take a taxi getting back, but that means being where they'll see me, on a Saturday night.  Nope, it was easier to walk into the suburbs, on the relative flat, and see what that park was I pass all the time.  I had a pack of cigarettes which I doubted I could smoke in a park, but the fresh clean and windy air beckoned to me.  Maybe there would be a place.

Two things you should know about smells.  One is that cabs often have them, though usually good smells.  It is a beach town and cab drivers are pretty good about defunkifying their cars.  Once, though, I stepped into one and caught a whiff of the most wonderful combination.  It smelled like fine cigar and cool mint.  I inhaled deeply, it was such a lovely smell.  Less lovely is the smell this apartment gets sometimes--sort of a cross between dog poo and raw methane.  It's not quite Chino, it seems more urban than that.

So last night around sunset I hobble-walk down the alley behind my place, down to a pair of buildings whose signs I can't read.  Cars going by speak of a gathering further down but nothing here.  A paving-stone walkway beckoned so I went there, past one of the few trees still blooming and out into a peculiar clearing.  It looked as though someone grew a lawn over the top of a building.  It was relatively flat, though not so flat I didn't have to watch my step.  There were three chimneys/vents pumping air out, and a horror-movie-coffin-shaped cement door on rusty rails  I stepped gingerly out towards them and despite the clean air of the rest of the town last night I caught That Smell.  Carefully I looked over the side.  A steep but not entirely vertical drop to a tiny golf course below, covered in grass and surrounded by tall trees beautifully swaying in the evening breezes.  It could have been peaceful but for the whirr of the fans and the smell.

I suspect I'd walked on top of a sewage treatment thing, and that this is the smell I catch on odd days at home.  My own personal Chino.  My neighbors either don't talk about it or lack the nose to notice it.  But there it is.

I had my smoke at home.  The laws here on that are toughening up so I can't just light up anywhere, nevermind the thought of a student stumbling upon that.  Not a big deal, but not something they should see either.

Mar. 9th, 2014

cat under stars

Fire-breathing angry

The day started pretty well, mocha and a bagel and a bus to take an adventure on. E-Mart was closed so I figured I wasn't going to get much done, and the bus went to the train station, which would involve getting that much done, so I went.

On the way was a gorgeous temple I will have to explore later, a five-story number up against a ridge (this being east coast Korea, though, nearly everything is 'up against a ridge'). I'd taken my happy new neon yellow umbrella more as an accessory, expecting a tiny sprinkle at most.  I get a timetable from the train station and talked to a Japanese woman who let me practice what little Japanese I could remember, so I felt pretty good.  Near the train station was a rather impressive shopping area, so I went there.  Wandered down a ways and found an Artbox, which is always fun to putter around in.

Well, almost fun.  See, the aisles in that place are always too small, and me being large and wearing a backpack is only awkward on most days.  Today, it got me shoved a lot.  More than I cared to deal with.  I stopped to grab my magnifying glass, trying to read the specs on the computer speakers.  To do this I set my umbrella against a "perapera" cosmetics display, which turns out to be directly under some CCTV cameras.  Not that it mattered.

I got distracted and failed to go back for my umbrella,   I realized the error probably a half hour later after finding a bathroom and an art supply store.  First I tried the train station, not there, then remembered the Artbox.  I got back there, remembered the speakers, and asked the counter people.  Nope, but I felt dismissed.  I appreciate that they're busy, young people with minimal English and I in Korea, but dammit!  I've left things behind by accident before, my phone, my Nikon, and they've always come back to me because somebody cared that somebody had lost it.  Not yellow neon umbrellas, apparently--this is how I lost mine last year.  I stalked around the Artbox a bit, making it very clear how very angry I was without tossing the place, and left my phone number at the counter when the line went down.  I don't expect a call.

I guess what gets me is how Artbox is the worst of both worlds.  In the U.S., if you leave something behind you write it off--it's gone.  That's the expectation, so you hang onto your things.  On the other hand aisles are wide enough to drive wheelchairs through as a rule, so people aren't pushing and shoving you.  In the States I could easily have gotten into my bag (assuming the shop didn't have objections to the backpack in the first place) without having to leave the aisle I was in and seek a less busy part of the store.  I'd have kept all my shit together.  So here at Artbox you've got sticky-fingered people who will shove you, but socially you can't confront them like you would in the States because shoving is accepted as normal because it generally is harmless and doesn't lead to you having your shit stolen.

Until the cab driver was extra-sweet to me today, I hate Koreans this afternoonNow I just hate Artbox.

Yeah, that angry.  Artbox has cool stuff but I don't think I'm going back there again.  Ever, if I can help it.

Jan. 25th, 2014

cat under stars

A hundred pleasures minus just the one

Oh I had a good day today. I'm plugging in the TicToc mp3 player (which is sadly showing its age) to try to write the playlist that carried me home. Somehow it was picking mostly songs that I'd added recently to it--odds are it was not on shuffle. But it spiced and punctuated an already good time I'd had.

So I sleep in until 10:30 am, which is late even for me.  Part of that is the air matt I got which is already going down at night--either it needs breaking in a bit more or there's something on my mattress pad below that's scratching open all my air matts. Luckily for me not only is this one the perfect width, but it's relatively thin meaning that even half deflated it's actually quite comfortable.  So I get up rested today, and I think, I really should pack.  I have a ton of stuff to move, I haven't even started packing and I won't have much time to get it done.  I should go to the Soul In, very close by, try their new waffles and head straight home.

But ahhhhh, I'm low on deodorant, so off to the mall and the Starbucks I go. Still not too bad, pick up a couple things, go across to the Daiso and get some nail stickers since my nails are uncomfortably short, and know my shoulder's pretty kinked up, and my eyes are in soft-focus which makes it hard to read and is probably caused by the same kink that's bugging the shoulder.  The chiro is gone home for the day, but I know this massage place across town...

It's 50F out--balmy--with just a drizzle.  That's prime wandering weather especially in late January when it's likely to be rare.  Heck, I'd planned to pack today expecting to be rained/sleeted inside.  But here I am, and look...there's a decent-looking hair place over there with a giant poster of a masseuse in the window!  My hair's starting to get annoyingly long on top, I'll just step in for a trim.

A very nice bob as it turns out, for half what I'm used to paying.  But that took time.  I went back to the department store where I knew my previous masseuse was, but by that time it was 4:30 and too late to start.  So that's the minus one pleasure--no muscle unkinking today.  Maybe I'll wait 'til Monday after work and let the chiro do his thing.  Pooped my head into a Tempurpedic store (cats can't pop beds that don't inflate) but even the Cloud one wasn't soft enough for my hips and shoulders laying on my side.  I"m such a princess.

Now the big, high-end department sore with the handy bus stop in front of it is about a block *that* way from where I was, but a block through boring buildings and a parking lot, and I didn't like being quite so isolated.  I walked a little further to a stoplight, hung a right and headed that other way.  After a little while I was lost, though looking at the skyline it seems I was only disoriented and could find my destination without much trouble.  On the way I got a picture of a trio of coffeehouses, one of which looked like I'd built it myself back in my late 20's (my tastes have changed a little since then.)  There was a Catholic church and a Buddhist temple next to these and across from each other, but as I was only going on a bagel and a "caramel macchiato" I didn't pursue them today.

Taking a slight detour from Lotte Department Store, passing another favored pet shop (he has everything he needs.  Everything.  I didn't even go in.)  I stopped at the thrift store.  Hard to say why, the best I could tell myself was that a large sack would help me move clothes.  No large sack, but there was a flogger.  A designer flogger.  "Hida vy Glenda"?  "Hide Up Glenda"?  The label is too small to read but it's definitely there, gold tone handle and a lovely little clasp.  In a thrift store for under five bucks.  The guy behind the register laughed as I left but that could have been something else entirely.  So weird.  So cool.

Headed over to Lottle looking for a sit-down meal I found it uncomfortably crowded.  I considered TGIFriday's because it was not crowded, but little wonder with 15 dollar burgers and 30 dollar steaks--no thank you.  There's treating myself and then there's getting gouged.  But behind the Traditional Korean Restaurant was a Japanese one, with shabu-shabu for 11 bucks.  Not filling enough considering what I'd gone on the rest of the day, but it did the trick.  I'm eating a bowl of popcorn to make up the difference (when I should be eating beef, but that would make for a very late bedtime tonight).  Shaved beef, clams, an egg, and veggies and a bowl of broth (probably dashi) to cook them in.  The waitress hovered, sure I did not know how to cook them.  This was uncomfortable since the ATM earlier had given me a grand when I was sure I'd only asked for a hundred, and now I had to figure out a way to get that grand back to a safe place on a Saturday night.  But food--oooooommmmm nom nom nom, and a table quiet enough to organize too much cash and some shopping items.

Afterwards I took the escalator down.  Now all evening people were getting off the escalators and just standing there, made worse by people handing out flyers at the foot of them, so the first chance I got I made a beeline for the door...well, after scoring some mochi ice cream at Baskin Robbins anyway.  I get out there and figure I'll take my time walking around to the front when I notice an odd line of paint on the wet sidewalk, a line of blue and white.  I widened my field of vision and found a painting of an angel/statue there, and almost no one walking on that sidewalk to get in the way of the shot.  Had to change my camera batteries--the processor in that camera uses a lot of juice on night shots--but I got the lovely on camera.

Okay, minus two pleasures.  The shop did not have the Yankee Candle I craved.  I put on my fuzzy headphones and turned on the TicToc, and this is what it played (minus "Voodoo" which is a video file.)

 photo janplaylist_zps423b3330.jpg

Photos to follow soon.

the sidewalk angel 1

Sidewalk angel 2

Inside the coffeehouse

Two door down.  No relation to the Orange County city.

Jan. 18th, 2014

Constantine Gabriel

Crossposted from FB

Only Lovers Left Alive.
The title makes sense about a quarter of the way through the movie, but it does make sense.
I confused Jim Jarmusch with Derek Jarman. If you know your directors you see that's not too hard a mistake to make.
Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston nude--maybe, but it was just a still. A gorgeous still, but we'll never know if Tilda and Tom look as good as Eve and Adam.
Tilda, though....ooh, I just want to French kiss that woman after this film. She could seduce a rock if she wanted to, and she's older than I am.
If anyone considered anyone else for Neil Gaiman's Sandman, they should watch this film and remove all doubt. Sadly for Hiddleston, that would mean being stuck in long dark hair that much longer. But he's cut, fabulous physical shape without looking like a bodybuilder, nails the emotions beautifully, nails the violin playing like a pro, and has the sunken eyes down perfect.
If I called this a 'musical' you'd think 'Mamma Mia' and it couldn't be further from that. I'd say it's a musical as concocted by Jim Ladd while having drinks with the ghost of Malcolm McLaren. Actually it's the director and his band, and this track is only the slightest taste of it.
Filmed in Detroit and Tangiers with a German crew. If you're expecting Mission:Impossible, go away.
If you're expecting to be intoxicated by all the things that *I* love--urban decay, exotic music, strange new places, a largely functional love affair, and vampires done with subtlety and style--this is for you.
There were a couple of small itchy details--where did they get all that money?--but it's a credible little drama for a hot summer night in the dark with the music too loud and the smoke too thick.

Keecha Katt your sister would so geek out at the guitar collection! (Assuming it's authentic, and with Jarmusch it probably is).


Jan. 12th, 2014

cat under stars


LJ is being too fussy for me to look up the old entry, the one where I described the sweet old man I sometimes rode with. Then, it was the first bus of the morning to Kahoku, and this sweet old retiree reeked of the alcohol he'd no doubt been enjoying since the last bus in from Kahoku. Sweet and pleasant guy though, which is saying something since I generally find drunks distasteful. He'd try to talk to me in Japanese and I'd try to understand, and we'd end up with a lot of gestures and smiles and a bus driver who probably thought I was nuts for indulging in all that.

Well, that kind of happened again.  I went to Bene for breakfast, one of my habitual places on my day off.  The money in my wallet was pitifully disorganized so I set my things down and sorted it, apparently catching the eye of a sweet old Korean guy.  He spoke only a few words of English and I only a few words of Korean, but he nonetheless bought my breakfast and sat down at my table.  He said he was 71 years old which I found hard to believe--salt and pepper hair and teeth all the same color that did not scream dentures.  Nope, he showed me his ID, 1943.  (Koreans change their age on the New Year, not on their birthdays.)  Then he told me how he worked out, didn't smoke, and showed me his pecs (under his shirt, by unzipping two layers of sweatshirt).  He sat there pleasantly and I broke open my tablet to get Google translate, but couldn't get my Korean keyboard to come up so it was a one-way conversation.  Pity.  I did want to read the paper (and in fact went for an evening coffee for that very thing) but it was a pleasant yet odd experience.  I kept remembering my counselor's advice--he is paying for the pleasure of your company.  And so he was.

And unlike my drunken dawn companion, I managed to sneak a photo. 

No telling if he was reading his texts or sneaking a photo of me!

Jan. 5th, 2014


Quick and simple travel pillow

The store bought ones never worked for me, so I got a thrift store hoodie and experimented until I got what I wanted.  Surprisingly this did not involve sewing.

You need:  a hooded sweatshirt and a place to fold it.  Zipfront ones seem to work best.

Lay the hoodie back side up.

Roll up from the bottom.

Keep rolling.  Make sure the shoulder areas have some nice bunching, because they'll be supporting your head and neck.

Once it's rolled up to the neck line, fold the sleeves in towards the center.

Wrap them all the way around to the front, and then tie them together.  They should barely reach each other.

Turn it over.  The sleeves now act as a neck roll and the shoulders should pillow the sides of your head.

Instead of an eye mask, just pull the hood down to keep your face dark and warm.

Happy napping!

Dec. 30th, 2013

Constantine Gabriel

Churches (composed on the tablet at the coffeehouse)

So today I find a gyudon place in old town Daejeon, and there's just a taste of heaven in that. You know the phrase "brother from another mother"? That's how I feel about some things Japanese, especially the fast food, so I was very pleased and looking for adventure.

I got approached by a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses. Friendly folks, one doing the talking and the other observing, which gave them away early on. They tried to sell me on the whole Vale of Tears notion (if you'll forgive the Catholic phrasing) but especially with a belly full of gyudon I was ready to argue it. Hanging out online with atheists helped too, plus nearly a year in the religious closet. I let these poor ladies have it. We're not perfect and have to struggle and that is healthy and good. You're wearing mixed fabrics, the Bible says that's wrong, Deuteronomy. And if I say I'm telling the truth does that make it so? God's book says it's true...

They want another round. I don't.

Looking outside right now you would not know if it is hot or cold. It's just pretty. So bad case of itchy feet, I walk a bit and stumble onto a church. Lovely high spire but its "stained glass" windows were purely stickers. I wander some more, past a few too many PC bangs and a pool hall, the marks of rough Korean suburbia. Looking for a coffeehouse and a viable bus stop to get home, I see a Catholic church. Real stained glass of the Last Supper, faces painted so you could only see them from the inside. Its roof, would not even call it a spire, fails to rise above the love motels all around it.

And I thought, this is how it should be. Not between government office buildings but among the poor and the sinners.

My little bowl of heaven:picturesCollapse )

Nov. 11th, 2013

cat under stars

Adventures in dentistry, Monday edition:

My appointment was for earlyish tomorrow, but the temp filling came out and food went in it, and ouch ouch ouch so I figured I'd just ask the doc to stuff more temp in there for a day. Nope--he decided to fix things up. Let me give you the layout of things:

When I first showed up with my raging infection, he chose to drill and fill a lower right bicuspid. This made no sense to me, since the infection was in my sinuses above my upper jaw.

So he drills out the amalgam (silver-colored) filling and replaces it with a lovely resin filling. This looks almost like the natural teeth, minus some precision color-matching. It's not quite as sturdy as a natural tooth but it's very quick to put in and does the job most of the time. Still, it did nothing for the infection that had plagued me for about five weeks at that point, so I go back and demand he look at the upper right quadrant.

I've posted about that. Now in the picture the root canal re-do is the forwardmost molar. Once he'd worked that my symptoms reduced significantly but were not fully gone, and because of the temp filling and other such goodies I had to chew lightly on that side--still do. So Doc, I said, if I have to eat carefully on that side anyway, we might as well fix up the teeth on either side of it. Both of those teeth had ancient (15-20 year old) amalgams that hadn't been done all that well the first time (arguably--they did last the full term such fillings were made for). Sure. So he pops both those open, and the bicuspid is fine, a little rotted underneath but nothing a new filling won't fix. The #2 molar, however, showed signs of infection. Endo, he said, root canal. I shrugged--while I hate root canals I expected one for that tooth. He messed around with it, put something called GOE in it, and popped some temp filling over all three on Saturday morning. (Having no luck looking up "GOE"). Sunday morning I go to FiveBucks for a mocha and a bagel, a treat for myself. The bagel was happily chewy which dislodged part of the filling. I was prepared to ignore this, but at lunchtime part of my lunch decided to fill it and not comfortably, so I figured that if I was going to eat I needed something non-food to stuff that hole with. I go in a day before my appointment, signalling that I just needed a little putty and I'd be on my way.

Oh no. He pulled out the old temps, all three of them, and resinated both molar #2 and biscuspid. Let me back that up--he poked and prodded molar #2 and inspected it, finding the root not infected after all, and decided against the endo after all. Told me to keep a proverbial eye on it and if I got any pain (and, I added mentally, any more sinus infections) I was to come in and get the root yanked. But for now it's in a resin cap. I seriously question the wisdom of putting anything so soft on a molar but it's there now. Zombie molar is going to get a metal cap, as it's far enough back not to be seen. I could get porcelain there--no resin allowed over dead roots--but there's a slight possibly of it cracking if I do. So...well, my budget this month is shot, but I'll soon have functional teeth that keep the evil out of my sinuses.

All of this--all the dentistry posts you've seen this year--was done without Novocaine.

Nov. 6th, 2013


Gory details in dentistry

So I get to the dentist today, and he and I are both in agreement---the old root canal has got to go. He tried to explain to me what was going on but I'd already googled it. His dentistry is excellent, and his English is okay, so I got 95% of it or enough to make me happy. Break the porcelain cap off. Clean out under it. Extract the old root filling. Push some antiseptic stuff into it and up into the apex where the infection was, and then cover that with temporary filling and cap. He said something about a ligament that had to heal which didn't make sense to me--a ligament attached to a tooth? Then again feeling pain in a tooth with no nerve doesn't make sense either, but the pain was definitely there. Not enough to require Novocaine, which he only uses when it's strictly necessary, but enough to feel the drilling and poking when he got near that apex. I think he was surprised when I told him I hurt. I'm hoping it doesn't mean anything unusual. Dark fantasies of the previous dentist leaving in a tiny piece of live nerve to harbor bacteria and send pain signals.

So my mouth tastes rather horrible and just after the appointment it was foamy. After a little while I recognized the flavor--hydrogen peroxide solution. That would explain the bubbles. When I first sat down I saw a massive syringe, maybe the size of a middle and index finger together, filled with clear liquid. At one point there was an x-ray of something that looked like the syringe shoved between the gum and what's left of the tooth. That is good news--at the height of the pressure I thought about shoving a hose in my nostrils and trying to rinse out the bones, even looked into a Neti-pot (which would not have gotten into the bone where I needed it). Giant syringe I suspect rinsed things out.

So better to taste like a fresh tire than to feel like I was underneath a dirty one. My face felt normal for the first time in weeks, no pressure behind the teeth or nose. There's just a tiny bit of pressure now but I'm late for bed. Morning will tell if this thing worked.

I find it ironic that the infection shoudl hit a two year old root canal rather than the twenty year old amalgams on either side of it. I'll be a little bit surprised if this dental job, slated to take about a month, fixes the problem entirely.

Late for bed and very tired...

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