November 13, 2008
Well, this will be the last entry on this page (page 20), then I'll start a new page of news. Today I thought I was sending all these lovey-dovey text messages to my girlfriend, Chung-hee (not the dictator), when I got a miffed call from her after 4:00 PM. She said I hadn't sent her anything. I insisted I had sent her numerous text messages, but she checked her phone and couldn't find any.

Then I realized that I had been sending all sorts of sweet nothings like "Darling, have you woken up?" to my army friend, Rick Carlino. Oops. All parties involved had a good laugh out of my blunder, and Chung-hee (not the dictator) no longer seems to be miffed.

In an unrelated story today, I was riding the #9 town bus from Mangwon back to Shinchon, and the bus passed this store that specializes in custom signs for businesses -- the name of the store is (translated from Korean) "The People who Research Signs." There was a group of three high school girls in front of me on the bus and one of them scoffed (in Korean, I'm translating) "what kind of people research signs?" I chimed in from behind them and said "I research signs. I study the science of sign research at Yonsei University." They fell silent in shock. A few seconds later, I was like "IT WAS A JOKE." Then they got it an laughed. I asked if they had actually believed I was telling the truth, and yes, they did. They thought they'd offended a real-life sign researcher. Asians can't tell when I'm being sarcastic.

We don't actually hand this project into our teacher, so you can do whatever weird thing you want to do. I got tired of the project, so I made the shop so the staff could only speak Korean (despite the rest of the game being in English). I also added a reference about them not being able to sell you better armor because of the economic crisis making imported goods hard to buy. :-)
November 10, 2008: UPDATE 2 (be sure to read the previous post, it's far more important)
YES, I FINALLY FINISHED C++ CHAPTER 5. That was one hell of a chapter. In order to complete all the activities, I needed to write 923 lines of code for a text RPG project. Which may sound like fun, but it was kind of tedious since the game was so strongly dictated by the textbook, and there was little freedom of expression. I just finished up the last three modifications today: a shop (which, as a joke, I made so the staff could only speak Korean), an item system and an inventory display mechanism, and being able to fight "several" enemies at the same time (if you run this program, you'll see how ridiculously I implemented this). I am FINALLY done with Chapter 5. I am ecstatic. I took the exam for the chapter and got 90%.

I now know basic object orientation in C++. I can see a few uses for it, but I've been programming for years without using it at all, and object orientation still seems heavily optional to me. It's like the choice in whether to buy a dresser to neatly organize your clothes or just throw them into a bin and pick them out as you need them. Objects do not seem very useful except for an organizational aid.

Now, onto Chapter 6. I need to be making faster progress in this course. I'd like to take more courses and finish them by the end of the year. I'd also like my C++ to get good enough where I can write a quiz program in C++ for my Japanese JLPT word list.

Introducing: My Girlfriend (Chung-hee)


November 10, 2008
Today was a busy day, and I walked over 20,078 steps (at 11:58 PM I realized I could make 20,000+ steps if I spent the next two minutes running around inside the subway train frantically). So I topped 20,000 steps. That's quite a bit of exercise.

I met with Chung-hee and Hyunjin (not Mijung's sister, Chung-hee's friend). As of yesterday, we have been together for a week. Hey, it's important! I got her three roses, some "fog flowers," and some Pepero. We had bo-ssam (pork that is basically barely distinguishable from sampgyeopsal except for being smoother). We got some pictures and Chung-hee gave me permission to post them up here.

Chung-hee says my hair has grown out very quickly. In Korea, if your hair grows too fast, it means you're thinking too many dirty thoughts!

I also saw Mr. Joe from the Korean forums today (accidentally running into him in Dongdaemun). It was good to see Joe (and yes, Joe, I know you're reading this). I hope you feel better, Joe, and have a good trip in China finding your wholesale goods for that special someone!

I am now in possession of an authentic Cuban cigar, courtesy of a friend who gave it to me as he left Korea. So no, I didn't spend any money to prop up the Cuban economy, but I still have the honor of owning this awesome cigar -- but should I smoke it before it goes stale, smoke it with a friend before it goes stale, or simply hang it on my wall?

November 9, 2008
Well, I just woke up slightly after noon when the cleaning lady, Eun-jeong, came to the guesthouse. I way overslept!

I have an appointment in Noksapyeong today, as well as an appointment near Sungshil University. After that, it's off to meet Chung-hee and her friend in Jonggak. Her friend works at a western restaurant and can get 50% discounts, so we're going to get a big steak and split it and hit the salad bar to fill ourselves up. It's kind of a confusing plan and I don't know exactly how much this is going to cost, but it's been a very long time since I've had a steak.

To help out Mijung, I'm going to be here at the guesthouse until 3:00 PM. I have a few things I need to get done. I need to make sure I've showered, need to upload all my current C++ files to my /Game_Institute/ directory on this site so I can access them at home, and most importantly, I need to get something for Chung-hee, because Pepero Day (Korea's holiday devoted to long, bready sticks coated in chocolate) is on 11/11 (if you need a better explanation of what Pepero Day is, look at last year's entry under 11/11).

Aside from that, what else do I plan to get done today? Maybe I can finally finish C++ Chapter 5. That Chapter is taking ridiculously long -- certainly far longer than the 10-12 hours predicted by the Game Institute. Writing code into their text RPG game takes a long time. Yesterday, I tackled adding magic points, maximum magic points, magic points that increase randomly in a weighted fashion (depending on whether the character is a wizard or cleric or a weaker class, magically-speaking). I also added some spells, but to save time, I made them all behave exactly the same way (since the textbook didn't specify required behaviors). I also added random encounters while a person is resting (so if you rest thinking you can recover 100% HP and MP, there is a 25% chance you'll end up in a battle before being well-rested). I also viewed the whole lecture for the chapter. All this consumed a matter of hours, and I'm still not done with the chapter yet. I still need to add a store, items, and multiple enemies -- no small feat! This chapter is taking forever and bogging me down, but supposedly the next chapter will only take 6-8 hours.

Well, I'd better get started on my day and stop typing this out. Bye! Step count for November 5, 6, 7, and 8, according to my pedometer: 43,509 steps.

November 6, 2008
Whew, NASTY! One of our guests (a Japanese woman who was already pretty) just had plastic surgery. Now her face is all swollen up and there are these cut marks everywhere. She looks like a monster. Of course, in a matter of weeks, she'll probably be incredibly beautiful.

I just don't get why pretty women have plastic surgery. It makes no sense that those who basically already control everything want MORE power through enhancing their looks. I mean, I'm sure there are lots of quality guys who would date her already even if she didn't look model-perfect. Maybe she's getting it for employment purposes. There's a lot of that in Asia.

This is not to say that I object to plastic surgery, I'm just surprised at who always ends up receiving it. Personally I'd think the vast majority of plastic surgery recipients would be unattractive men who were making a last-ditch effort to find a girlfriend -- guys who were 40 and still virgins. I mean, should someone be doomed to a life of romantic failure just for being born ugly? People who are disfigured or unattractive are probably denying themself happiness if they don't go under the knife, because a life of constant solitude because you are simply to ugly too get anyone to love you really is absolutely horrible. However, any semi-attractive woman (and she was better than just semi-attractive prior to this operation) has men throwing themselves at her constantly.

I guess in Asia, people are already so busy, they've maxed out every single thing they can. They're already working maximum hours, studying up to the highest degrees they can afford, and even use their friends and lovers to their advantage when it suits their purposes, because the competition is so stiff it turns people into manipulators. Plastic surgery is really non-labor-intensive. You go in there, they operate, you pay your money, and you come out having improved your external appearance. It doesn't take years or even months, the way learning a new skill does. So I guess that for employment purposes I can see why people do it, especially if the job is something like a model or actress where appearance is key.

This post doesn't really say that plastic surgery is good or bad, I'm just questioning why it is that pretty women have plastic surgery to look even prettier, and yet it's quite rare that an ugly man who has never gotten laid in his life doesn't go under the knife. I've seen so many regular-looking women fly into Korea and get a boyfriend right off the plane without even speaking Korean, so it's obviously not that difficult. I finally have a girlfriend, but I have frequently gone six months or more wishing that some woman would pay attention to me. And to get a girlfriend, I had to become a master of the Korean language. I can see why a man would take a drastic measure like plastic surgery, but women, especially young women, have it so damn easy in the dating world (well, if their standards weren't so high).

Of course, it was probably for employment purposes.

November 5, 2008
Well, Obama won. By a landslide. It's kind of a bummer for a conservative like me, but I can think of a few ways that it won't be so bad:

1. He's a socialist, and I'm a student. So maybe he'll help me out by letting me get bigger student loans. Right now, the freshman Stafford loan amount is only $3,500 (of course I can get marginally more in the following years, but still not enough). Try to put yourself through a year of school on $3,500. It probably won't even work if you're living in Cambodia.

2. He's African-American. It's refreshing to see how non-racist America is. Korea would never elect a non-Korean president in a million years. Plus, now that we will have a black man in the White House, the minorities' arguments that American society is oh-so-racist are kind of invalidated. I mean, I can see a future conversation going something like this:
Some Ridiculously Nationalist Gyopo: You think Korea is racist? Look at America! I encounter racism in America everyday! America is extremely racist!
Me: Yeah, whatever. Didn't you notice that the president is from a minority? When do you think Korea will achieve the same thing? End of debate.

3. Foreigners like the Democrats' foreign policy more. This means there should be a little less anti-US sentiment that I have to deal with. Koreans wanted Obama to win. Now maybe they'll be marginally happier with the USA and I'll get more high fives from random ajeosshis in the street.

So I don't really like it, but it's not the end of the world. Sure taxes are bound to go way up to fit his socialist agenda, but I won't be paying them, because overseas Americans are tax-exempt up to a certain (very high) amount.

Now Gyeong-seok needs to use the computer, so I'd better go. Bye!

November 4, 2008
For those of you who are getting sick of my one-track "today's educational plans," you'll find this post refreshing (maybe, unless you're a liberal). It has nothing to do whatsoever with my educational plans. It's about the election and my girlfriend.

As for the election, today is election day, and I'm not voting. It is simply impossible to vote, because I waited too long and didn't get the appropriate form to vote absentee, and the various absentee deadlines fall before the actual election. This may seem bad, but I'm sure the world will keep turning. I wanted to vote for McCain, but maybe it's better that I didn't vote for anyone -- after all, last election, George W. Bush's platform made me his supporter, and look where we are now -- the US is trillions of dollars in debt, there are still millions of abortions in the US every year despite our "pro-life" president, and Reporters Without Borders has ranked the US lower in freedom of speech than some former Soviet states! So I would probably have voted for McCain (especially since Obama tried to cut funding to the NASA Constellation Program [something I strongly support] to fund public education [something I care relatively little about, my high school was quite highly-funded, but didn't even have an Asian language program]).

Yes, that's right voters, keep in mind that Obama tried to cut funding to NASA's Constellation Program, and only backpedaled at the last moment when voters were angry about it. NASA takes up less than 1/150th of our national budget, but is the source of inspiration for so many Americans, and the source of useful technologies, and may possibly pave the way for the future of the human race. So even though I don't think McCain will change any American social issues that I'd like to see changed, at least he won't cut funding to NASA if elected. I'd love to see humans colonize Mars in my lifetime, but I think if Obama becomes president, he will fail to find a way to keep NASA's employees employed for the five-year gap between the end of the current space program and the moon mission, meaning NASA will basically have to start from scratch. So please vote for McCain.

This site is not about politics. Since both American political parties are basically the same (one party wants to change something but is too apathetic to do it, and the other party doesn't want to change it, resulting in both being the same), politics bore me. So onto my lovely girlfriend, Chung-hee!

I guess I have to ask her first whether I can broadcast to the world that we're going out. Then maybe she'll let me tell you all about her and maybe even put up a picture to show you all how lovely she is! I just wanted to update my readers that we are indeed going out and that it wasn't a translation error. :-)

November 2, 2008
It has been a fascinating past 24 hours. I have thrown a Halloween party, co-hosted with Keith, the 48-year-old African-American martial arts expert on a journey around Asia to learn the martial arts. It would also appear that I now have a girlfriend.

Initially, I just invited Rie, but she invited one of her friends (a Japanese woman named Asako), who in turn invited two more people. The result of this was four people -- no longer an intimate Halloween get together, but a full-blown party when you factor in that several guesthouse guests were involved as well.

We set the place up pretty damn well. We turned out all the lights, I bought a six-pack of candles at the supermarket and we put them at strategic intervals, we covered the acupuncture dummy in toilet paper to make him look like a mummy, and we made a ghost by placing a sheet over the wall fan and giving him two black eyes. We topped it all off with some scary music and sound effects.

The guests came, and we led them in, and they were indeed spooked, and congratulated me on the decor and preparation.

Those Japanese women went WILD with carving the pumpkin. There was no stopping them. They decided they were going to give it actual stick-out horns, so they removed sections of the pumpkin and anchored them into horn position using toothpicks. The result, while not like a traditional jack-o-lantern, was rather astounding. I don't think any of them had made a jack-o-lantern before nor really knew anything about traditional jack-o-lanterns, which meant they were more creative and uninfluenced by convention.

After making the jack-o-lantern, we watched 30 Days of Night and drank beer and goryangju. The girls thought it was very scary. I'm a little bit regretful about showing a scary movie (actually it was Keith's choice), but hey, it's Halloween. Personally I didn't think it was that awful -- just very violent and bloody, especially when the people retaliate against the vampires with axes.

Then the party guests had to go home. Riding high on goryangju and beer, I started cruising and hitting on Kimiko's Japanese/Korean bilingual friend (who is Korean), Chung-hee. Yeah, I'm not kidding, she has the same first name as the famous dictator, isn't that so cool? So we "hit it off" as the cliche goes and may now be -- dare I say -- "an item?" Hahaha, who knows where this is headed. I won't go into more details until I know this is going to last for more than 48 hours.

Tijn, Jorn, and Petra are leaving tomorrow morning. They will be missed.

October 31, 2008
Well, today is Halloween, but the party isn't until tomorrow. Rie is bringing three friends, and there'll be the guests at the guesthouse. We're going to carve a pumpkin and have some candy.

I learned how to make pajeon (a "Korean pancake"). Here are the steps, mainly for my reference, as relayed to me by a total of three different ajummas and Jin-gwang:

  • Ingredients: Buchimgaru (a small bag), a 1,500 won pack of jjokpa (wild onions), and 150 grams of some type of seafood (you can use tuna or clams, I used tuna in this case)
  • Chop the onions in half, and only use the half with the white part for premium pajeon. Cut up that half into little pieces.
  • Mix the buchimgaru with water and try to make sure the lumps are gone. You should use about 800 mL of water for a small bag of buchimgaru.
  • Add the jjokpa and the seafood and stir.
  • Fry it in the pan like you would a normal pancake, with oil to keep it from sticking. Do it about two to three minutes on each side.
  • Eat with either soy sauce, ketchup, or a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, and red pepper powder.

    Using this recipe, you can possibly make enough pajeon for entire entire day's worth of personal eating, provided you don't share it with anyone. Of course, the joy is in sharing it, though.

    October 29, 2008
    I am feeling somewhat satisfied because I just finished a somewhat daunting task. For the Game Institute, we have this assignment where they give us a ton of code to enter to form a text-based RPG. The trouble is, they don't tell you about how you need to input a good percentage of the code until the end, so you have to figure out which of their code fragments need insertion and insert those at the end. There are seven different files that the project contains (both header files and C++ files), and you have to figure out which of the seven different files to put the code in. Then, you no doubt made a mistake somewhere in MANUALLY ENTERING the 18.4 kilobytes of code, and need to find bugs -- IN CODE SOMEONE ELSE WROTE.

    Now that I've finally hunted down all the bugs (I think) and gotten all the code in the right place (I think), the text-based RPG seems to be up and running pretty well. You can select four character classes with their respective stats, and battle four types of enemies. Of course, I can't be too proud because I just figured out how to get all the code into the right place and debug, not write the code myself. However, it was still a monolithic project and I'm so glad to be done with the putting together of it. I still need to work with it, but from here on out, it should be almost 100% code that I write (so I can write it comprehensibly).

    My homework for Chapter 5 is to write routines and classes to allow gold, character races, leveling up based on the class, MP, random encounters during rest, a store, items, and multiple enemies in battles. That's a lot of code and a lot of time, but on the other hand, I'm sure it won't be that miserable. I mean, they're telling me to write a ton of subroutines for an RPG, and that's my assignment, and it leads indirectly to college credit. I can do that. :-)

    On an unrelated note, there are going to be a lot more people at this Halloween party than I had previously expected, because Rie's friend is inviting two more friends. However, I said I wasn't going to approve any other guest beyond them, because this could become a word-of-mouth party. Then hundreds of people could show up and the police could come. Which is a problem because I'm going to be dressed as an ROK police officer. Then I would get booked for impersonating a cop. And that would be bad.

    October 28, 2008
    Well, I'm preparing for the Halloween Party. I went and bought a roughly 15-pound neulgeun hobak (a type of orange Korean squash, arguably a pumpkin, except that it is a little bit flatter and duller in color, though still orange). I carved one of these last year, and it worked out all right.

    I invited Rie, and she in turn invited her Japanese friend. We'll be holding the party on Saturday, not Friday when Halloween actually is, but I don't think it really matters that much. I'm not sure if they're going to wear costumes or not (kind of doubt it) but I have a backup plan in case they do. I have an ROK police hat I salvaged from the trash last year, a black shirt, a black pair of pants, and I can easily obtain a police baton, so being an ROK cop should be too difficult. All I need to do is ask for bribes and walk past every establishment with a double barber pole without batting an eye and let every driver run red lights, and I'll be just as good as the real deal!

    Although I had hoped we could have the party at the goshiwon, I'll be at the guesthouse that day, so it looks like we'll be having it there instead. It's okay, the more the merrier when it comes to parties, sometimes at least. Let's just pray that the grandmother next door doesn't steal our pumpkin and use it to make pumpkin soup like she did last year.

    October 24, 2008
    It's my birthday. I have a few things that I want to do while I'm 22:

  • Actually get my associate's degree this time (meaning I have to earn 30 more credits, since the 39 credits from Yonsei were worthless). I can basically take 30 credit hours of whatever I want (as long as it's accredited), so I'm thinking of taking some beginning level Chinese and Japanese courses to reclaim 10 credits, and fill the remaining 20 with game development/programming courses, and maybe a graphics-related course and an entrepreneurship-related course or two.
  • Save enough money to successfully transplant myself into Japan (tuition for one year and enough to live on until I get a work permit). Then actually move there and start studying.
  • Pursue a gym-free exercise plan that's more flexible than the plan I originally planned (not trying to time meals, getting my walking/jogging through using a pedometer and not the gym, etc) for a whole year -- basically my 23rd birthday present will be a body that has been consistently working out for one year.
  • Pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 4.
  • Possibly work for four months in an Anglophone country (probably Ireland) on a Working Holiday visa. The won hit 1,400 to the dollar today, and Korea will not be a good place to earn money.

    Yes, I scanned it myself. This little device will liberate me from the treadmill.
    October 23, 2008: UPDATE 2
    Well, I bought myself an early birthday present: a pedometer. This thing is going to revolutionize my exercise program. You see, I no longer have to run on a treadmill to know how many calories I'm burning. I can just count my steps with this here pedometer (10,000 won) and calculate it that way.

    This will greatly increase my efficiency in two different ways. First of all, I'll no longer need a gym to know how many kilometers I'm walking, so I will save 70,000 won a month (monetary efficiency). In terms of time efficiency, I no longer need to allocate time in my day to a treadmill or a walk, because I can simply pace around instead of sitting, standing in one place, or lying down. This way I can meet my daily walking requirement without setting aside special time -- I can get all the walking I need while waiting for things, just by pacing. Pretty efficient, isn't it?

    October 23, 2008
    It's October 23, the eve of my birthday. I just took the midterm exam for C++ Programming for Game Developers. HOLY SHIT. That test raped me. I got a 72%. You say to yourself "well, it's not great, but at least that's a C, I've done far worse on tests before." YEAH, BUT I HAVE BEEN PROGRAMMING SINCE I WAS 10 YEARS OLD AND I HAVE STUDIED JAVA (A RELATED PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE) IN HIGH SCHOOL! I also understood the material quite well up to this point (getting an 87.5% on the quizzes overall). Then I take the midterm. 72%.

    This drags my average for the class down to a 76%. Actually, this is arbitrary since the proctored exam I take at LaserGrade will COMPLETELY override the grade I get in the class initially (essentially all these exams are just practice exams, and the one taken at the LaserGrade center is the real thing). However, if I take the exam at LaserGrade and get a 72%, that's going to transfer as a C, and that's not a good thing.

    What really bothers me about the test is there was basically nothing where I kicked myself and said "I should have studied that harder." I think a lot of this stuff was simply never covered in the material or the exercises. I was given long listings of program code and had to know ideosyncracies of commands that had been barely covered at all in the unit (usually just once, or in one sample program). How am I supposed to know if the const in a parameter can be reset or not? I was taught a const could not be reset, but we hadn't learned about it (that I remember) in the context of parameters. So unless I had done a ton of programming with C++ outside the course, I probably would not know this. Even if I had done a ton of C++ programming outside the course, I probably still wouldn't have known it because I don't consider the const a very valuable data type and probably would have never used it. So the midterm test seemed very unfair.

    I hope the final isn't as hard. If I did so badly on this test, I can only imagine what a true beginner to programming would get. As you can see if you click on the "Programming" tab on this site, I have been writing complex graphical games and publishing them online since I was in seventh grade. I hope this exam was just a fluke, and I hope my grades go up to reflect that I DO know how to program.

    October 22, 2008
    Wow, I'm already done with Chapter 4 (of 9) of C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I. I just took the test for Chapter 4 and got 100%.

    It's actually not a particularly easy course, it's just that I enjoy spending long hours studying for it. The last chapter was on references and pointers and was rather difficult (and a little bit dry), but the preceding three chapters were very interesting and informative. I hope to finish this course by the end of October.

    Excelsior College recognizes this course (which was only $125, with all books included in the cost) as 4 credit hours. So if it actually recognizes it as it says it does, it'll be $31.25 a credit hour. That's cheaper than universities in poor parts of China. Yet the course is actually decent. I've learned a ton about C++ and can now write some decent programs (still DOS-like console applications, but they do cool things like playing slots with betting, or solving quadratic equations for both solutions with imaginary numbers as well).

    I guess my main pet peeve with the course is that it's basically just a regular computer science course, with very little focus on gaming. We are learning almost exclusively programming theory and testing it in console applications, not in Windows or using any kind of graphics, really. Supposedly all the Windows stuff will come in Module II. Anyways, for $125, I can't complain too much -- I'll hopefully get 4 credit hours and I've already learned A LOT of C++ (and will continue to learn more).

    I think I'm going to have a complete moratorium on the more expensive NOVA courses until the beginning of 2009. I want to just take 15 credits of game development courses (C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I, II, Graphics Programming with DirectX9, and Game Mathematics).

    This may seem risky in light of the fact that I just got burned by Yonsei which also claimed to be accredited and wasn't, but let's look at the costs: 246,666 won per credit hour at Yonsei (not actually accredited), and approximately $31.25 per credit hour at the Game Institute (which Excelsior College claims to accredit). So you see, compared to Yonsei, I'm not losing much money, and even if these aren't really accredited, I'm still learning a ton of C++.

    October 21, 2008
    I have decided to find an alternative to a gym for my exercise. I'm just so tired of the condescending staff there, and reliance on a place that's closed on Sundays and not open past 11:00 PM.

    It's not like there are even any classes to keep me motivated, or trainers who actually give helpful advice. The only way I could possibly remedy this is by joining a more expensive gym (like 100,000 won a month range, sure, like I can afford that). Besides, as I've learned from the girl who called my body fat percentage "dangerous," they often don't even know what they're talking about. I don't think I need a fitness instructor. I mean, did Vikings have fitness instructors?

    When I look down the exercise chart they gave me, I realize that many of those things can be easily duplicated outside the gym. The treadmill can be eliminated by going along the road of Yonsei campus leading from the front entrance to the Korean Language Institute and around the outside x amount of times in an hour (the route is about 2 kilometers). We have both small barbells and the bench pressing equipment on the roof of the goshiwon, which is a big thing right there. Things like crunches don't need any equipment at all. I'm still finding ways to duplicate the other things, but I'm sure I'll find them.

    It's just that I'm so sick of the trainers' condescension, and think I can duplicate most of the things in that gym for less than 70,000 won a month.

    October 19, 2008
    Wow, this was a productive waking period. I helped out Mijung, and I finished an entire unit of C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I (basically 10% of the course in one waking period). Since the course is 4 credit hours, that's basically like 0.4 credit hours in less than 13 hours.

    My exam score for that section was less than desirable but passing. It doesn't really matter though, because these are all just practice exams, and the only one that matters is the proctored one I will take at the LaserGrade company. I just need to make sure I have my C++ down by then.

    I had a very strange dream last night. I dreamed that I was in a hotel in Yanbian. Then I dreamed that I was back in South Korea. Then I dreamed that I could travel from South Korea to Japan on a train. Like, in the dream, there was this part of Japan (that does not conform to real-world geography) that was literally just a stone's throw away from Korea. It was so close, there was this train-like vehicle that could skim passengers across the tiny gap very quickly, to Shimonoseki. In reality, there is actually a hydrofoil that goes between the two, but they are not as close as in the dream, and no part of Japan lies between Korea and Yanbian the way it did in my dream. Okay, and this is the strangest part of my dream -- there was a giant squid in the water, and I kept on falling in and nearly getting devoured by the giant squid. I actually know where the giant squid came from. Yesterday when I was out with Rie, I saw a bizarre marking on the pavement on Yonsei campus that reminded me of a giant squid. That somehow incorporated itself into my dream as one of the characters.

    I don't need a dream interpreter to figure this one out. Japan is quite literally Japan, and the small channel of water that can be crossed very quickly symbolizes how easy it would be for me to pool up all my money and go over there within the next year on a student visa. However, the giant squid represents how if I don't make that short crossing (perhaps the time when I'm not yet allowed to work, which is a privilege granted after one term of study), I will go under and get devoured by bankruptcy (the proverbial giant squid). I don't know what Yanbian symbolizes. Perhaps it being farther away geographically from Japan in the dream symbolizes my awareness that strict Chinese visa regulations brought in place around the Olympics make working in China practically farther away than working in Japan.

    Well, I ought to get to bed. It'll be a busy day and I need my rest.

    Doraemon Goes to the Hyundai Department Store
    By Rie Naka and Charles Wetzel
    October 18, 2008
    I'm at Golden Pond. My goals for today are basically just to study C++. Thanks to Lucian, I now know how to get my programs to run on machines that don't have Microsoft Visual C++ Express Edition, so who knows, maybe before the end of this year, I'll be posting a game I've written in C++ on this website.

    About that -- what kind of game should I write to showcase my new C++ abilities? It can't be anything too great, because I don't think we go past console applications in C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I. Regular graphics are not covered until Module II. However, I have thought of a workaround where I could have graphics. I could store all the graphics in an array of char variables (which would serve as a buffer and be drawn out on the screen all at once) and output them into the console window (essentially extremely low resolution black and white graphics that make use of the ASCII block characters). This way, I wouldn't have to make my first "release" a Zork clone.

    I'm thinking of remaking my old TI-83 graphical RPG for the PC in C++ (Dungeon!). I already wrote a version of it in the past, so I could just focus on reprogramming something I've already made, which would be easy.

    On the other hand, I could write a completely new game. Which should I do? I guess it depends on whether the course actually requires me to make a project or not. If it doesn't, I'll probably expend less effort on making a project, meaning that I'll probably just rewrite Dungeon! instead of writing something new.

    I also want to add that I just got 100% on the Chapter 2 test just before noon, so I'm 20% of the way through the course and have a 90% average. Yay!

    October 16, 2008
    Today has been a relatively productive day. Most importantly, I finished Lesson 1 (1/10th of the course) of C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I in less than 24 hours since I started it, simply because I am addicted to the course and find it hard to think about anything else because I enjoy the C++ knowledge that's flooding into my brain. I expect to have finished Lesson 2 by the 48-hour mark. So at this rate, I could finish the entire 4-credit hour course in 10 days. It's not that it's easy, it's just that so far, I have devoted many waking hours to it, and I already have some programming knowledge. My C++ has rocketed up since the day before yesterday.

    I also had a nice lunch with Rie. I went to the communal kitchen and found her there dialing some number on her phone. Which turned out to be my number. She was trying to call me and tell me to get some chicken soup she was making (Korean, but NOT samgyetang). Well, I just happened to be in the kitchen anyway. She did a good job, it tasted good.

    I got my grade for ENG 111, surprise surprise, it's an A. So I got all A's this term (14 credit hours, all A's, that's a full-time load with all A's). I wonder what I'll get for it besides just the satisfaction and the higher GPA?

    I also went to the gym and burned 255 calories and did some weight machines. The pounds are coming off. When I started, I was 77 kilograms, making me *almost* overweight (but not quite). I have since burned over a kilogram by putting in some good treadmill time, so hopefully I will never experience what it is like to be, *gasp* overweight. I'm just going to burn about 250 calories a day on average, which is half a pound per week, and I should get rid of that beer gut in no time. Avoiding being overweight isn't that hard (the treadmill is addictive since I can see my progress on the meter and since I can watch TV), it's building strength that's really an issue. My legs are great compared to my arms. I can do a completely normal load of weights on my legs, no problem, because they are in good shape since I walk all over the place just as a habit. My arms are pretty atrophied, though. I actually felt weaker today than I did the day before yesterday. The machine where you have to push up while sitting is really, really tough. I can't wait until I can do it on 10 kilograms -- then I won't have that embarrassing moment of the next person asking me "where's the pin?" When it's their turn to use the machine (because I took out the pin and am using the machine with no weights, because that particular muscle is so atrophied).

    I have to say, I don't really like this gym, for four reasons, and plan to change next month for the following reasons:

  • It's closed on Sunday. Excuse me, how are people supposed to exercise properly when, on their only free day, the gym is closed? I mean, come on.
  • It closes at 11:00. I know of some that are open until 12:00, and that'd work better for me.
  • The trainers are condescending and don't appear to know what they're talking about. Especially the young girl who made a reference to my body fat being "dangerous." Oh yeah, I'm a heart attack just waiting to happen, whatever.
  • The trainers aren't particularly helpful and I'm not convinced their recommendation of three sets of 10 reps on only four machines is much exercise. Lately, I haven't been feeling any burn at all when I leave the gym, meaning muscles aren't forming, but I still can't handle the next level, so my guess is that I need to be doing more reps, but I don't want to disobey their advice. I'd love to see what fitness trainers at a different gym would say.

    So all in all, I'll stick it out at this gym until the end of this month, but I might change to another gym next month. Anyways, I'm learning C++ and working out. These are two things I've been saying I was going to do officially for literally years. So at least I've taken a first step.

    October 14, 2008
    I got a few things done today.

  • I met someone in Hongdae and did something important.
  • I handed in the last pieces of work for ENG 111 (which I had been putting off and fully expect to be graded as late).
  • I went to the gym and burned 560 calories on the treadmill while watching TV on the little LCD monitor. I also managed three sets of 10 repetitions each on the hellish machine where you press up while sitting (with no attached weights). This is a first. I managed 10 kilograms on the one where you lie down and press up. I managed 25 kilograms on the one where you pull the weights down. I am not proud of these; most males could probably handle heavier weights than me on these machines. However, it was nice to be able to finally do three sets of 10 reps each for the first machine (I had tried twice before and failed, but I guess third time's a charm). The exercise machines are no fun except for the treadmill. The treadmill is addictive. I could easily just keep on doing that for three hours straight, because it's simply the only convenient way to watch certain American television channels. I have abandoned certain strict guidelines in my exercise plan like eating at six evenly-spaced intervals per day. That was good on paper, but doesn't work in reality. I am up to three protein shakes a day because that way, pretty much anything else I eat will bridge the protein gap. Now that I can handle all the machines and have come up with a more reasonable eating plan, I will consider my start date for the real exercise program October 12 (I tried to start it on October 1, but due to an unrealistic initial plan, that had to be abandoned).

    In an effort to get myself back up on my feet academically, I soon plan to sign up for 14 credit hours for the fall semester. Two will be remedial computer courses (which I will just take because they're easy credit). Two will be C++ for Game Developers courses. I am really looking forward to the latter, which are also dirt cheap ($135 a four-credit course, which basically comes out to $33.75 per credit hour, incredibly cheap).

    I am starting to theorize about moving to Japan super early (in less than one year) and getting a student visa, which would allow me to work there for 28 hours a week. From what I've seen, certain language schools have tuition in the US $4,000 per year range, which is not that expensive. The big problem is getting the student visa. In theory you need to show a bank balance of $30,000 to get the student visa, but I've now talked to multiple Americans who said they were never asked to show proof. So I might get lucky and get such a visa without showing the proof of financial viability. This is something that apparently is only asked for for people from poor countries like China. Long ago, I had planned to move to Japan in October, 2009. Then I postponed it to October, 2010. However, the funny thing is, I might end up going there in September, 2009 or even sooner. I will just simply go without my bachelor's degree and earn that while I'm there, when I'm allowed to tutor up to 28 hours per week. How's that for a plan?

    Mijung, Me, Some Girl Whose Name I Don't Know, Ohashi
    October 5, 2008
    Whether I like what has happened in the last week or not (getting screwed by Yonsei KLI, which claims to be accredited but actually isn't), I have to move on and come up with a new plan for the future. I have two problems stemming from them lying about their lack of accreditation:
  • I can no longer work in Korea unless I can find a place to recognize Yonsei's credits and give me a transcript.
  • I now may have to spend an extra year of full-time study to recover the credit hours I thought I had.

    For the first point (working), this is far more urgent. There's this debate going in my head between staying in Korea and going to China. Here are the pros and cons of each:

  • Pros of Staying in Korea: I can earn more money as long as the exchange rate doesn't fall anymore, it is more convenient, and I have friends here.
  • Cons of Staying in Korea: the exchange rate could fall so far that working in Korea might not generate much money to pay my tuition, I would not be experiencing a new place, and most important, I would need to make a seventh consecutive tourist visa entry (this is getting dangerous).
  • Pros of Going to China: if the Korean won continues to be this devalued, living in China could be more luxurious, I will have new experiences, and it's safer since I will not have to risk entering Korea for a seventh consecutive time as a tourist.
  • Cons of Going to China: I'm not sure they've relaxed their working visa regulations yet, so getting a visa may be a hassle, the salary is currently lower than Korea (though this may soon not be the case), it's more dangerous because of poverty and politics, it's unfamiliar compared to Korea.

    So I am going to have to decide whether to stay or go. I'm going to tentatively plan on staying. James Madison University seems optimistic that they can accept my Yonsei credits and give me a transcript, meaning I could have a job here before the new year.

    As for the second crisis Yonsei's deceit has generated, that's another tough one to solve, but not as urgent since it's perfectly possible to live without a degree (just very inconvenient). I expected 36 out of those 39 credit hours to definitely transfer, so I need to make them up. Here is my plan to still graduate university in two years:

  • Un-suspend academic activities. I will sign up for six credit hours of NOVA courses tonight. This will serve the dual purpose of allowing me to pump my elective credit back up and hopefully also make me eligible for another Stafford loan, in case I need it.
  • This will leave 30 credits to make up. 16 of these can possibly be reclaimed by taking a language proficiency test that Excelsior College recommends.
  • This leaves a deficit of 14 credit hours. However, I have a plan for those, too. I can take Japanese 101, Japanese 102 (most of the material for these I already know) as well as Chinese 102 (once again, I should know most of this material already). So the result is that I buckle down a little bit harder this fall, take a Korean test, and take super easy classes for things I already know and get credit for them. So with only a few hundred extra hours of work, I can reclaim the 36 credit hours that I'd been counting on. Interesting idea, eh?

    However, I want to say that I'm also no longer nearly as scared about this crisis offsetting my future plans and feel a little bit more leisurely. I have started to research ageism in Japan (the country I would ultimate like to have a career in), and it sounds like ageism is very minimal in the computer sector there. I asked a Rie, who used computers as an example of a sector in which ageism would only really set in around 50, and Bona, my Korean friend who works in the hotel industry in Japan, independently mentioned that people in the computer sector seldom have problems with ageism. This view has been collaborated by an English teacher in Japan on Dave's ESL Cafe who has been there for a long time. So if I don't end up where I want to be when I'm 30, it doesn't sound like it's the end of the world. It sounds like I was definitely overestimating the extent of Asian ageism. The more I hear about it, the more I say "well, that isn't really that different from western ageism."

    So in conclusion, I'm not really worried about turning 30 and becoming unemployable in the software sector, what I'm really worried about is short-term survival in Asia. Without any degree whatsoever, I'm a sitting duck over here, just waiting for the government of the country I'm in to kick me out because I no longer meet their new visa requirements. So I wish I could say I am not worried about taking more than two years to get a degree, but I am quite worried, because I have this suspicion that pretty soon, China will raise its requirements to a bachelor's degree since so many American college kids are now studying Chinese and the supply of English teachers there will soon be enough for the country's needs. I think Korea will also start requiring a bachelor's degree again, both because they've done it historically, and because there is going to be a huge influx of cheap Filipino English teachers (new law change) that will crowd the market and force people with less than a BA out. So now the force behind me wanting to get my BA is not to secure my far future (I have plenty of time to do this) but just make sure I'm still employable when the English teaching industry declines (and Filipino English teachers drive up the competition and drive down the average wages). I also want to get to Japan just to see if it's worth living in in the future, or if it's little different from Korea.

  • October 4, 2008
    Well, I've been holding off on this news until I got the specifics, but now that I pretty much know the outcome, I'm going to announce them: I have been royally screwed by Yonsei University Korean Language Institute. REALLY royally screwed.

    Basically, I tried to transfer Yonsei's credits (39 credit hours) to my university in the United States. NONE WERE ACCEPTED.

    I'm not kidding. One and a half years of full-time study, all for NOTHING academically.

    Before you, Mr. Tough Guy, say "it's your own fault, you should have researched their accreditation," I DID. They say all over their materials that they are accredited at the university level, and claim to have all these transfer agreements with various colleges (several of which I called last night and denied having said agreements).

    Basically, if you go to Yonsei University Korean Language Institute, good luck on getting credit for it in the US or Korea.

    Because I cannot transfer the credits to my US school, it means I need to find some other way to come up with the credits (which probably means taking 39 credit hours [1.5 years] more classes). It also means I cannot work in Korea.

    Yonsei screwed me, and they could screw you too, plus they are not accredited by the Ministry of Education in Korea, so for now, I do not recommend anyone go there until they cease their dishonest practices and apologize and compensate those whom they wronged.

    October 1, 2008: UPDATE 2
    HOLY SHIT. I just went to the gym, and my muscles feel so weak I can barely take off my own shirt, and I was so weak at the gym, it was truly humiliating.

    It seemed fine at first. They had recommended that I start off on the treadmill (to burn off all that "dangerous" fat that make me a heart attack waiting to happen, LOL). It is true, I do have a little bit of a beer belly, so I thought "sure." They didn't really tell me when to get off the treadmill, so I spent over an hour on it and burned 600 calories. That was so easy. There was even an LCD TV on each treadmill with headphones and Fox. So I just watched Will and Grace and burned off more than three jjajang pouches worth of calories. Finally I figured I'd burned enough for one day (and felt pretty good). I decided to hit up the trainer for some exercise machine lessons. That's when the humiliation of being a total weakling started.

    The first machine was at least possible. I had it on the lowest setting -- 10 kilograms. I was able to do two rounds of 10 upward pushes each, and with a rest, a third one. The next machine was the killer.

    You're supposed to sit on a bench and push weights up. I had it on what I thought was the lowest setting, 5 kilograms (however this does not count the weight of much of the apparatus). I simply couldn't do it. Believe me, I really wanted to, but I would just hit a wall at a few upward pushes. Then I realized I could take out the pin and do it with no extra weight attached at all -- STILL difficult, though. I managed to do ten upward pushes, but DAMN. By that time, my muscles were extremely fatigued, and I simply could do no more. They told me to call it a day and come back tomorrow for machines that exercise different muscles (because as we all know, the muscles I exercised today are going to need a long time to regenerate).

    Oh, and I found out that I was accidentally wearing women's exercise clothes -- I had failed to read the sign and had figured they were unisex. They looked almost exactly the same, which is why I had no clue. The manager informed me, and I thought "shit, I've been jogging on a treadmill in women's exercise clothes for over an hour."

    Will I be able to lose my beer belly? Of course. The treadmill is dead easy. I could have jogged on that thing all day if I'd wanted to. The weight-lifting machines, on the other hand -- HOLY SHIT. My army friend once told me that if you work out for an hour a day, four times a week, you will have great results, but I doubt I did five minutes on the weight lifting machines today. In that brief period of time, they completely exhausted any energy my muscles had. I hope I can actually work out for an acceptable amount of time sometime soon. I wonder how far behind the curve I am.

    Tomorrow, I will go back and try some new machines for new muscle groups. It was miserable and humiliating at the end and I feel like I currently fail at my male biological function to be physically strong, but I'm not going to improve by continuing to be sedentary. I just hope I'm not so far behind the curve that it takes me months to get to where the average male is. I can't even do three rounds of 10 upward pushes on the second machine WITH NO WEIGHT. It's like I'm not even on the map. ARGH. At least I'll sleep well tonight.

    It's painful, but I have to keep doing it. You don't just give up on things because they seem damn near impossible at first. Bettering yourself as a human being is not about only studying the things you know you can get an A in. Otherwise you end up with a degree in something pathetic like Psychology or English, have a pathetic average job, and have an fat, bitchy wife who divorces you. This working out business is really tough right now, but hopefully if I'm one of the few who sticks with it, I'll reap the rewards in about a year or so, if what they say is true.

    Here's a snapshot I took of yesterday's Korea Herald article about the won plummeting to a five-year low.
    October 1, 2008
    The won has not been this weak in five years. It is plummeting. Nominal purchasing power per capita (nominal GDP) is therefore falling like a stone, and Korea is spiraling back into the third world.

    This sucks for the wages I will soon earn. Back when the won was like 900 won to the dollar, that would have meant I would have taken home $2,000 a month teaching in a Korean public school. Now my take-home pay will be just $1,492.20, presuming the won stays the same when I start working. Wow, that sucks, doesn't it?

    Unless it does something outlandish like hit 2,000 won to the dollar (like the Asian Financial Crisis), I doubt I'll bail, though. There are some upsides to this downturn in the currency:

  • My rent is now $198.96 in US dollars, simply the cheapest rent I've ever paid (except for when I lived at Mijung's, but she's a friend and that rent, when I even paid it, was not typical). If the Korean won becomes usable as stove fuel, at least US Stafford loans will go a very long way here.
  • Foreigners will leave Korea in droves as their wages become insignificant. This means less competition for me.
  • Maybe people I know from the US or elsewhere will be more inclined to visit me now that traveling here is so much cheaper.

    On another note, I went to Dongdaemun and bought a pair of camouflage ROK army pants for $3.32, and a two bottles of Goryangju for the INCREDIBLY low price of 85 cents per bottle. This Goryangju was imported 50% liquor from Shenyang. I mixed a bottle with pineapple juice yesterday and drank it while watching the movie "My Sassy Girl," which is a romantic comedy written by Koreans but performed by white people. It was an okay movie. Mijung confiscated my other bottle. I just had to drink a lot last night because now that I'm on my new exercise program, I can only have three drinks a week. Yep, today is the first day of my exercise program. I will go to the gym this evening. I will try to eat six evenly-spaced, small, protein-rich meals.

    I'm also going in about half an hour to meet Rie and we're going to go up to the mountains and study. It should be fun and outdoorsy. She likes to take outdoor walks, which is probably better for me as well since I almost never leave this goshiwon these days. Maybe I'll take some pictures and post them.

  • My Body Composition Report According to JC Fitness' Machine
    September 29, 2008
    I have just taken some great steps to get buff (heck, even get fit, since I've been damn sedentary). Here are the steps I've taken over about the last 24 hours:
  • I joined a gym (JC Fitness) and my membership starts on October 1.
  • I bought a gigantic, 65,000-won keg of whey protein (good enough for about a month).
  • I bought enough protein-rich food to assure that starting October 1, I will have enough protein in my diet that, combined with the whey powder, I will eat at least 127 grams of protein a day.

    I went to the gym and found out my body composition, shown on the left. It says I'm 5'10", 170 pounds, 22.1% fat and 72.4% muscle.

    When I run this through an American BMI calculator, it states that I'm 24.4 (25 or more is overweight). So by an American standard, I am still within a healthy weight range, but barely. The girl who did the measurements for me was kind of annoying. She kept on talking about how they will start me off on a treadmill and doing aerobics to burn off the six kilograms that Korea recommends Korean people burn off, and even referring to my fat percentage as "dangerous." Well, sorry babe (and I told her something along these lines), but western people and Korean people have different body compositions. I am not even overweight for an American, and I am not "in danger." Yes, I should shed a few vanity pounds, but come on, stop it, it's not like I'm going to become a heart attack risk or a diabetic tomorrow.

    I told her that the reason I was coming there was that I wanted to build muscle, not to burn fat. I could burn fat just by going and walking everyday up in the mountains, I'm not going to pay 70,000 won a month just to do that. I'm happy to shed some vanity pounds too (and I plan to), but I want to do weight training. She said it was okay if I did both, it would not have a negative impact. So that's good, I have plenty of time right now, I'll do both.

    The next three months (indeed, after that) are going to be very different. I have decided to suspend all academics (except for the tail end of ENG 111 which will extend slightly into October and my Japanese study). I am going to work on two things that have fallen by the wayside over the past two years: getting buff and earning money.

    I have always tried to solve my problems in one of two ways: getting more education, or moving. However, neither of these things have helped me become a happy individual. Getting myself out of debt and becoming physically attractive -- THESE things will make me happy, or at least I hope.

    So I'm putting a three-month moratorium on basically all studies. After that, I will resume my college courses, but not until I have gotten myself out of debt and become fit.

    Why did I choose to start my exercise program on October 1? Well, there's some logic here. It's common knowledge that if you work out hard, it takes about a year to get buff. I figure that I can go from October 1 until the end of June, 2009 working out. Then, in the last three months before I cross that "buff" line, it'll be the beach season (the Koreans consider "summer" as lasting from July to the end of September. Therefore, I can run and swim on the beach with my new "hot bod," and be inspired to stick it out for the last three months. Then I think I will probably enter a maintenance phase where I'm working out fewer days a week and not eating quite so strictly, which will be okay because I will just be maintaining what I have at that point, not trying to gain more.

  • Copyright (C) 2008 Charles Wetzel. All rights reserved.