December 31, 2008: UPDATE 2
1. Earn 55 credit hours this year. This might seem unrealistically high, but I plan for up to 36 of those to be "fluff" -- classes like beginner Japanese and touch typing and things I already know, to capitalize on the skills I already have, since Yonsei's 39 hard-earned credit hours didn't transfer. This means as little as 19 credit hours in new material, a completely attainable goal.
2. Pay off my credit cards. Note that I'm not saying "debts," just credit cards. I don't owe anything on my student loans until I drop below half-time, so for now, it's like free money. Credit cards, on the other hand, are costing me a lot of money. It's time to pay them off.
3. Get out of Korea. I said I'd do it in '07. Then I was SURE I was going to do it in '08. And I'm still here. IN 2009, NO MATTER WHAT, I AM GETTING OUT OF KOREA! I don't know where I'll go after Korea yet, but this country is not helping my personal development as much as certain other countries could be.
4. Get healthy. "Get buff" was overly ambitious considering my schedule, and I've decided that I don't care about being buff that much -- but kicking the copious quantities of alcohol will do me good, and walking lots will also do me good. I want to walk 10,000 steps a day and limit alcohol to one bottle of dong-dong-ju per week. That way I'll save my liver, lose a few kilos, and get more done.
5. Pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 3, in December, 2009. Though I passed the JLPT Level 4 never having set foot in a Japanese classroom, I fully expect the Level 3 to be much harder, and accordingly, need to join a class.

Oh, and of course, I hope no big tragedies happen, but that's a given. So those are my New Year's resolutions.

Course Certificate Automatically Awarded Upon Passing the (Hellish) Final
December 31, 2008
I have completed C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I with an overall score of 74% (a C+, ironically). The final exam was excruciatingly difficult (I passed by the seat of my pants with a 71%) and contained many questions that arguably had two or three right answers! It was 75 questions and administered in a two-hour time frame, so it was TOUGH! I think the question format was extremely unfair. For example, I was asked "true" or "false" for if whether or not char was an integer type. Well, yes, it is stored in the computer's memory as an 8-bit integer, but no, its function is not as an integer, it stores one character. So is it an "integer type?" Questions like this were rife on the exam. Other unfair questions included ones where I was supposed to judge whether there was a compiler error, runtime error, logic error, etc. Well, this depends on the compilers, since certain compilers would catch certain things at runtime and others wouldn't, and then it would become a runtime or logic error. How can I possibly memorize every possible situation for every possible compiler? However, I still got enough of the questions right to pass it, just barely. In order to get accreditation, however, I will need to take a proctored test at a Laser Grade testing center. That's what I'm worried about. Well, at least I passed the damned thing! I completed the course! I can now say "I KNOW C++!" I learned it in less than three months. HOORAY!

This version of Dungeon! has 10 pre-rendered scenes like this one. The old TI-83 version didn't have that.
December 30, 2008
Dungeon! for the PC is FINISHED! At least I don't think there are any bugs. Download it for yourself and see:
Dungeon! for the PC (written in Borland C++ 5.5)
  • Unzip all the files into the same location on your computer (for example, the desktop, or perhaps a folder).
  • Double click on Dungeon.
  • Play the game.

    This is my first major project in C++. I'm very proud. I wrote a finished role-playing game within less than three months of starting my formal C++-learning journey. Not bad, eh?

    As for other news, I saw "Snakes on a Plane." I found it hilarious how Korean television altered the spelling of Eddy Kim's (the villain's) name so it no longer sounded Korean, even though he was obviously Korean. If you look at the Korean subtitles, they use ki-euk instead of gi-yeok for his name (Koreans spell it with gi-yeok). I find it hilarious that Koreans didn't want the main villain in this American movie to be Korean, so they purposely altered the spelling of his name. Great trick.

    As for other news, I finished the final chapter of C++ for Game Developers - Module I material -- Chapter 9. I only got a 70% on the test, but at least that's a pass. I intend to take the final exam tomorrow.

    Now I'm very tired and should probably get to bed. Bye!

    Oh, one more thing! I am pleased to announce that I have passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 4! YAY!

    I'm now certified at the beginner level of Japanese (728 words, hiragana, katakana, and 103 kanji). What is this certification good for? Not much, except that it's helpful when applying for language schools and student visas in Japan (proving that I've studied Japanese for at least 150 hours outside of Japan), and *maybe* employment if the other candidate *doesn't* have the JLPT.

    I will upload the certificate to this website tomorrow, I think. I got the news from Mijung over the phone (her address is where I have official letters sent). Add that to a list of accomplishments for 2008!

  • This was Toby...
    December 29, 2008
    I basically never write about my family on this blog, because it is my belief that this blog is about my life in Korea, not my family, and is independent of my family and my hometown of Fairfax, Virginia. However, I must make an exception for the death of a family member.

    Toby, although a bulldog, was very much a part of my family. He died today. I'm crying about it -- literally crying.

    He lived to be 14.5 years old, which is incredibly old for a bulldog, and then he just clocked out. My parents were out of town in Ohio, and my grandmother came over to my family's house in Fairfax, Virginia to let him out to pee. She let him out, he peed, he came back inside and started eating his food, and then keeled over. He started making strange noises. My grandmother summoned Maureen, the next-door neighbor, and by that time, Toby was dead.

    Fortunately, I must say this is probably the best way for a bulldog to go -- having just relieved himself and in the middle of a meal, with a family member in the immediate vicinity. Of course it would have been better if my nuclear family had been around, but at least he knows Grandmother. He did not die alone, and he did not die hungry. Still, it's a very sad event, and I am literally crying right now.

    I have no idea where I stand with regard to religion. I hope there's a heaven. I hope Toby went to it if it exists. He was a great dog, and I hope he's in a better place now. Toby was a source of stability for about 2/3 of my life, and I'm still somewhat in denial about the fact that he's now dead.

    There's no need to send me a bunch of condolence e-mails or anything, I just figured I'd update because this is a significant thing. My family has little to regret -- we treated him well and took him to the vet whenever he had a problem, which is how he managed to live to 14.5. Still, it's sad.

    December 28, 2008: UPDATE 2
    Well, as most of you are probably aware, I have had an overabundance of free time lately. I started watching the 76-episode series "Marmalade Boy" at the beginning of the month, and finished it today. Time for my reflection on it.

    *SPOILER ALERT* I thought it was a decent light, romantic anime. It didn't end up leaving me disturbed or wondering about anything, really. The two lovers, Yuu and Miki, finally figure out that they're not brother and sister like they'd thought they were for several episodes. That was a relief. The final episode pretty much tied everything up. There were really very few unanswered questions, unlike, for instance, Death Note (what happened to Light Yagami when he died) or Elfen Lied (did Lucy survive). There were definitely some things that seemed rather morally hazy, like Namura and Meiko getting married when they had had an illicit affair when Namura was a high school teacher and Meiko a student. It's like the series says that kind of thing is okay as long as both people love each other, something I don't really agree with. I also found it odd that when Yuu and Meiko thought they had discovered they were blood-related, that they decided to stay together anyway -- that seemed odd. However, from a biological standpoint, I guess going out with one's half-sister isn't any worse than going out with one's cousin (something that happens in many cultures) because the amount of shared DNA is comparable, right? In any case, it was a real relief when they learned they were indeed NOT blood-related and didn't need to mess with any moral quandaries. Still, the overarching idea of the show seemed to be "if you love someone romantically, it doesn't matter if the type of relationship is total taboo." I don't agree with that idea, but the anime was still fun, once I got into it. It was sure a slow opener, especially when Miki took forever to select whether to date Ginta or Yuu, and I almost gave it up, but it started to get interesting once Miki and Yuu started dating steadily. Finally, I thought the portrayal of Americans was pretty good -- there are a lot of American main characters, with diverse personalities, and one of them (Michael) speaks good Japanese. So I felt like the American characters were well-done and not based on stereotypes too much. All in all, it was a fun anime, but probably isn't in my Top 5. Thank you, Jamie (from NOVA) for letting me know about that show, and YouTube for making it possible to watch it for free without having to illegally download it to my computer! *END OF SPOILER*

    I also want to add that I have done a ton of programming on Dungeon!. I made 10 pre-rendered scenes that look pretty nice. Stand by for more progress updates on C++ Dungeon!. I'd say it's about 90% complete.

    This is what the game looks like now that I've found this fix -- remember, type CHCP 437 prior to starting (if you're using a Korean PC like me).

    This is how mangled it looked before, before I knew how to change the code page (this is not an actual game screen but a simulation).

    December 28, 2008
    YES, I FOUND THE SOLUTION! Previously, Korean DOS was screwing up my attempts to create a box drawing-based version of Dungeon!. However, I found out that by changing the code page from 949 (Korean) to 437 (regular English, original IBM code page), I could allow even a Korean PC to render the box drawings! So to the left is an actual game screen of the new box drawing graphics.

    For reference, Korean users should type CHCP 437 into the command prompt before starting the game, otherwise the graphics will get messed up and the game will probably be unplayable.

    "Your grandfathers are dead already? But people don't die until they're 100!"
    - Death According to a Korean Six-Year-Old (translated)

    I will reflect on Christmas, which ends in less than 12 minutes over here! It was a pretty normal (but decent) Christmas, overall.

    I went and visited Mijung. I got her a can of Japanese coffee-in-a-can (regift, originally obtained on Tsushima Island from the motel owner), 15,000 won in gift certificates for Kyobo Bookstore, and some forks (because the guesthouse doesn't have enough forks, which many foreigner guests would like to use). I think she liked the gifts overall and she said she was planning to buy a book from Kyobo and the gift certificates would help with that.

    However, out of the blue, Mingyeong came in. I haven't seen Mingyeong in like two years, but as far as I'm concerned, it could easily be another two and I wouldn't mind! That woman is vile. She has leathery skin from smoking, spits when she talks, swears like a sailor, is not particularly friendly, and has a pet chihuahua who creeps Mijung out by staring at her while performing its autoerotic functions with its gigantic penis, which is almost as long as the tiny dog itself.

    Mingyeong's unpleasant attitude manifested itself immediately, as she said "Wow Charles, you've really gained weight, you've gotten really fat!" Thanks, babe. I'm actually at a healthy, non-overweight weight for a western person, but I guess you wouldn't know anything about that.

    So I needed an excuse to get out of there, so I asked the Japanese woman who was sitting on the couch with us if she'd like to get some kimbap with me, and sure enough, she did, so we went to a Kimbap Cheonguk. We had a pleasant meal of kimbap, soup, and danmuji, got our pictures taken together, and then parted ways for the night. Her name is Mariko. She says she'll send me the pictures.

    Then on the subway ride home a nice young Korean couple insisted on giving me their seat. So I felt some random Christmas spirit, that was nice. They seemed to be nice people, and the woman on my left side said she liked listening to my English accent (when I speak Korean).

    There's not much else to discuss lately. It was a decent Christmas. For the record, Smurf-like winter hats are the current vogue this year, and Korea has already managed to rip off Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and put Korean words to the same music. It's incredible, they managed to rip it off in record time! Congratulations!

    Here's a screenshot of the alpha version of Dungeon! (written in Borland C++ 5.5).
    December 22, 2008
    Once again, I'm proud of my progress. In just three calendar days, I have taken the C++ Dungeon! project from start to where it is now -- an alpha (basically finished, just needing some cleanup, testing, and some more graphics). I actually played through the entire game from start to finish today. I started with a character with no items and only 100 HP, and built him up and augmented his HP to 1,600 and got all three items, boosting his other stats. Then I fought the knight that guards the dungeon and won. During this time, I experienced no glitches whatsoever, so my code is pretty solid.

    There is still some stuff that needs work, but the gameplay is basically finished. For example, when you successfully complete the game, it just says "THE END" and exits the game. That's rather disappointing, don't you think? So I'll come up with a better ending. Oh, and it needs a better title screen, as well. Perhaps some graphics during the battles would be nice, as well.

    The game is finished, and can even save and load data for later play via DUNGEON.SAV. However, some extra frills would make it look nicer.

    I'd like to increase its compatibility. Right now, it'll only run correctly on a Korean hangeul card-equipped PC, to my knowledge, that has 32-bit Windows. Now, if you've seen the screenshots, I think you'll agree that there is *NO REASON* why this game shouldn't be able to run in DOS, as well, so I'm going to try compiling the source code with an earlier Borland C++ compiler to get DOS compatibility (I hear that 5.02 works). I'm also going to make another version with redone graphics for non-Korean PCs. However, the alpha is complete, and I have played through the whole thing. It's possible to beat it much more quickly than the calculator version, because that version had very long draw times for the graphics. Since a PC produces the graphics nearly instantaneously, there's no reason someone can't beat it in about an hour.

    I have installed Borland C++ 5.02, the last Borland C++ capable of compiling applications for DOS (as opposed to Windows 32-bit console applications that just look like DOS). Since C++ Dungeon! is so simple, there is no reason it shouldn't be ported to DOS. Then at least I could load it onto a 25-year-old PC and have some fun with it. The problem is, I put my code into Borland C++ 5.02 and it won't compile it. Even though the version numbers are less than 0.5 apart, the two compilers are radically different. I've been trained to use cstdlib.h for random numbers, and ctime.h for setting the random number generator based on the computer's clock, and apparently Borland C++ 5.02 does not come with either of these. Maybe I could find out how to install them, but I don't think it's worth it to expend more time and effort trying to figure out how to compile something for DOS, an operating system that was no longer lucrative to develop games for after 1995. I'll just keep on compiling Dungeon! for Windows 32-bit console, I guess. Sorry, people out there who are still using DOS! Though I'd imagine viewing my website is a challenge for you!

    The main drawback will be that since I cannot create a DOS-compatible .exe, I cannot emulate the program in DOSBox-0.72, which is the only way I've found so far to override my hangeul card (to develop the ASCII graphics for non-Korean PCs). So I guess I'll either have to swap video cards (I have a non-hangeul card on hand, but it's only 4 MB instead of 8 MB like my current one) or use a different PC.

    This is an actual screenshot of the new C++ version of Dungeon!, NOT a mock-up like the last screenshot I uploaded.
    December 21, 2008
    As of yesterday afternoon, I have officially commenced work on the C++ remake of Dungeon! and have made SIGNIFICANT progress. The screenshot to the right is an actual screenshot from the work-in-progress, NOT a fake mock-up put together like the last one was.

    You might notice that the graphics look significantly different from the previous mock-up screenshot. The reason for this is that my Korean hangeul card (a special piece of hardware found only on Korean computers) automatically converts regular ASCII graphics like the one in the previous screen to hangeul characters, which disrupts the graphics and makes them look horrible. So I decided to instead take advantage of my hangeul card's built-in Wingdings-like font, and make tiles out of that instead (and perhaps before development finishes, have it so you can toggle it to work on either English or Korean computers). With this Wingdings-like font, it looks kind of strange and whimsical, but at least the things are discernible. I especially enjoyed creating the inn where the player can rest -- note the yeogwan (cheap motel) symbol on the inn. That was part of the Wingdings-like font.

    The tiles, scene engine, and movement engine are basically completely finished. A player can move around the 9x6 map, with a visibility of one tile on each side, just like in the original. I even wrote code so you can't walk through walls, etc. I'm very proud of what I've accomplished on this game since waking up.

    This is a mockup for a C++ remake of Dungeon! (a role-playing game I wrote when I was 13 in TI-BASIC).
    December 19, 2008: UPDATE 2
    First of all, I'm not trying to impress anyone, and I'm not trying to brag. I know many guys write games much better than the one I'm planning to write when they're still teenagers. However, this is a personal milestone. I finally have enough knowledge of C++ to write a simple tile-based graphical RPG with a double buffer, and I'm personally proud of it, even if there are a ton of dudes out there who were doing this when they were 15.

    The game is called "Dungeon!" and I originally wrote it for the TI-83 calculator in TI-BASIC. Now I want to rewrite it in C++ for the PC. It's mainly just to challenge myself and give myself some practical C++ experience outside the textbook and the textbook exercises.

    The course did not teach graphics, so I'll do the graphics via a double buffer that is really just an array, and it is drawn to the screen as ASCII blocks in DOS, but if you look from far away, it might actually look like a super low-resolution graphics mode. We didn't learn any input beyond file input and cin >> input, so I'll write it so it can save games and be controlled by typing commands and pressing enter.

    It'll be very simple, and once again, I know all my contemporaries from HKIS can write much better software, but maybe I'll catch up. Taking this C++ course was a first step.

    With just a $125 course, I think I've learned enough to do it. Which certainly makes the $125 well-spent!

    December 19, 2008

    Will Charles relocate to a secret base near the Black Dragon River?

    That is the question.

    An old recruiter, Sophia, messaged me over MSN. She says she's looking for an English teacher to teach in Heilongjiang Province (Black Dragon River Province, referring to the river also known as the Amur that separates China and Russia). The pay is 6,000 RMB ($878.60) a month for 25 teaching hours a week, and I get my own unshared apartment free with the contract. We reworked the contract a little bit, and she's going to submit it to the headmaster. She says if I'm hired, there is plenty of time to get my Z visa in order (because I would start teaching in late June).

    I think it would be wisest to go directly from Korea to China, work a one-year contract, THEN go to Ireland and do a working holiday. That way, I don't have to worry about being unemployed between Korea and the next country (a potentially dangerous situation with my low savings). I'll walk right into a job.

    However, we all know how the other China jobs have panned out -- none of them have panned out at all. So I won't get my hopes up. At least I'm working on it six months in advance.

    As for other news, I'm now nearly done with C++ Programming for Game Developers - Module I. All I need to do is write some more code for an employee database program and do a little bit of review, and then I can take the Chapter 9 exam and the Final Exam. So within the next 48 hours, I could be done with the class. So a major milestone for 2008 is studying C++ formally and finishing a course on it -- something I've been meaning to do for the last ten years, honestly.

    As for other news, I reformatted my computer. Not only was that hacker stealing my passwords, but a virus on my computer was causing all these e-mails to be sent to Sophia, the recruiter. She said she got about 60 e-mails from me. I sure didn't send that many, so what did? Therefore, I decided to reformat the computer. Now it's clean, fast, and I have a cool new background taken from National Geographic of a shrimp. It's so nice to have a relatively uncompromised computer. It hasn't been that long since I last reformatted, but I downloaded something that completely opened up the floodgates for all kinds of viruses, and it was never the same again.

    December 17, 2008
    Argh, sometimes the timing of things REALLY pisses me off.

    For example, I went through all of high school with no Asian language program. Then, the year after I graduated, they got a Chinese language program. They waited until Charles Wetzel left and then decided to start an Asian language program. That kind of thing pisses me off.

    The Korean government has just done something similar. President Lee has signed an agreement with the US called the WEST Program. Under this program, 5,000 Koreans can go and work and study in the US, and in exchange, Americans can now get an 18-month working visa for Korea. So basically, I could go to the immigration office or a consulate right now and get a visa permitting me to do basically whatever kind of work I want to do on Korean soil! The only problem is, I'm going to leave in about six months.

    This irritates me so much. Why didn't they have this visa program earlier? I sure as hell could have used it earlier! Now it's pretty much useless. I'm not going to apply for a one-time-only 18-month visa just for six months of English teaching. However, if I planned to stay in Korea longer, this would be a very useful visa.

    I'm not mad at the Korean government for creating this visa for Americans -- it'll be GREAT for Americans who want to experience Korea for a year and a half. However, THE TIMING SUCKS FOR ME!

    I could apply for it and make a lot of money over the next six months, but then it'd be gone forever, and I'd never again have a Korean visa that let me do whatever I wanted to do. Sure, I may never work in Korea again, but I can't know that. What if I meet a perfect woman, and she happens to be Korean? I can't throw away an 18-month Working Holiday visa for a quick profit, what if something unforeseen happens in the future and I need it? Then I would have wasted it, just to make a quick profit.

    So I'm not going to apply for it, because who knows, maybe I'll go *CRAZY* and want to live in Korea again after I've left. I want to keep the opportunity open to get this visa, not use it up for some quick cash right now.

    Man, what bad timing for such an awesome, killer visa to be created.

    As for other news, I finished Chapter 8 of C++ Programming for Game Developers. This chapter was on binary and text file input and output. So I could now do something really cool like write a hex editor, no problem. Or write an RPG save system. It was a very productive chapter, but this course is pretty dry, I've got to say.

    December 16, 2008
    I started thinking about something.

    I could go to Japan in literally ten months, survive, get my degree while studying Japanese and working, and then live happily ever after. I've pretty much figured out a nearly foolproof way to do this. However, I'm worried about something. I'm worried that if I enter Japan, the foreigner-friendly visas (relative to Korea, at least), the more willing local women, and the lack of a drunken brawling culture like Korea might make me want to stay there and establish myself permanently there. I could get on a career track, and then, I wake up one day and realize I'm 30.

    There are two things that I really want to do BEFORE going to Japan. That way, I can enter Japan knowing that I've done all the internationally-related things I'd set out to do (at least living-wise). Then I can enter Japan secure in the knowledge that should I choose to settle down there and make that my permanent residence, it's okay, because I've taken care of the big international experiences already.

    First of all, I don't think I can be a true citizen of the world unless I've worked in Europe. So I must do a Working Holiday in Ireland. I also feel I cannot be a true expert on Northeast Asian affairs unless I have lived in China. Therefore, I must teach English in China, preferably for one year.

    Why do these things now, instead of working in Japan first and doing these things later? Because they don't require a degree, and I think I should get the stuff done that doesn't require a degree in order to finance the degree. Plus, doing these later in my 20s could disrupt continuity if I choose to stay in Japan and make a life for myself there. Once I'm 30, I can no longer get a Working Holiday visa for Ireland, so if I get too entrenched in Japan too early on, that might ruin my chances of having the opportunity to work in Europe. Working in China is a little bit more flexible, but I feel it would be wonderful to still be in my early 20s and have lived in every single Northeast Asian country -- that would definitely make me an expert. How many people can say they've lived in Korea AND China AND Japan? Exactly.

    Once I have worked in both Europe and China, I think I will be satisfied with the selection of countries I have experience with. Then I can move to Japan and, if I like it, build a long-term life there with continuity, and have no regrets.

    Someday, I'd also like to see Africa, but unlike Ireland and China where I want to work, I don't think I'd ever want to work in Africa, just visiting would be fine. And that doesn't ruin my continuity.

    So to put this plan into action, I've come up with the following idea:

  • Live in Korea until June 20, 2009. Then I can officially say I've spent five years of my life in Korea.
  • Acquire a Working Holiday Visa for Ireland. Work in Ireland between three and four months (the visa is only good for four months). It's a short time, but it's not just a vacation, it is living there, because I'm working and I have to register a place of residence with the immigration bureau in Ireland. Then, for the rest of my life, the "worked in Europe" box will have a tick mark in it. :-)
  • Head to China and work a one-year contract. I've already technically lived for three years on Chinese soil, but Hong Kong hardly counts. I want the mainland China experience. I will also get a year of EFL experience which might help me in Japan.
  • When my China contract finishes, it'll be October, 2010. Then I can enter Japan on a student visa and learn more Japanese and finish up the last remaining parts of my degree, secure knowing that if I choose to stay in Japan, I've done everything in other countries that I'd set out to do.

    Under this plan, I will have spent at least a year in every major Northeast Asian country, and worked on three continents, including Europe, at the age of 24! Good idea, eh?

    There's some sad news, Rie is almost certainly leaving Korea. Her Working Holiday visa for this country expires on January 7. She is not very optimistic about getting another type of visa to continue working here. She says that it normally only takes about three days, and she's been waiting much longer, and thinks she'll be rejected. I guess Korea does not consider an experienced dental nurse as a positive contributor to their society. It'll be sad to see Rie go. Someday, I think I will meet her again, though -- she has been talking about returning to Kanagawa, Japan, and resuming her career there. So come October 2010, we can see each other again. Unless she does what Dang Li did and gets married right away. Then that'd make things really awkward. Well, what will be will be.

    Oh, and I just bought 20 tonkatsu patties at the Grandmart. For the next few days, I will be eating a lot of tonkatsu. I need to conserve my money even more because I just found out I'm going to be about 180,000 won short due to a certain undisclosable factor. However, the exchange rate seems to be improving, so maybe this will offset the loss. We'll see.

    December 12, 2008
    I'm formulating my plot to get to Japan in September of next year. I had been, for a brief amount of time, thinking about staying in Korea, but that idea evaporated last month when Chung-hee broke up with me and the exchange rate hit 1,500 won to the dollar. So I'm going to work hard and MOVE by the end of September!

    I'm going to need about $10,000 to get myself established in Japan. This sounds like a huge amount of money, but I can get $4,000 as a Stafford Loan and then I have an idea to procure a further $6,000. Once I have $10,000 in hand, I will have enough to pay tuition, get the student visa, and rent a SMALL place to sleep (perhaps just a bed in a dormitory shared by a bunch of people). I can eat a lot of rice and natto and bum some food off other people until I start working, then...

    After the first term has completed, I can finally get my work permit! Then things will be ROCKIN'. You see, the average wage for a beginning English teacher in Japan is 250,000 yen a month! That means that all I need to do is get a 28-teaching-hour-a-week teaching job, and I'll have an income over $30,000 a year, and it'll be okay because of my student visa's attached work permit! With an income of $30,000 a year, paying for school should be _no_ problem. I can do a one-year contract, and then, with a bunch of saved money, I can take the next year off work-wise, and just study Japanese in the mornings and regular college subjects through an online university in the afternoons.

    Following this plan, I should be able to move to Japan in September '09, as a spry young 22-year-old, as originally planned! However, there is one issue...

    Where will I choose to go to school? There are a TON of Japanese language schools that can get me a visa all across Japan from Okinawa to Hokkaido, but which one should I go with? I'm afraid I might have to pick one in Tokyo, even though I don't want to be in the big city again, because the job market is tight and the only place where I can guarantee my job is Tokyo.

    This is Jeong-ho. I have known him since way back in '06 when I first came to Korea. He ended up leaving Korea and moving to Japan, because he knocked up a woman named Yukari and ended up marrying her. They now have a child named Sora. One time Jeong-ho and Yukari came to the apartment that me and Mijung were living in and stayed there for a while, so I got to meet little Sora. Jeong-ho liked to party a lot more BEFORE becoming a daddy. I don't know if he still does. I haven't seen him in close to a year!

    The girl is Yumi, my language exchange partner during part of 2007. I tried unsuccessfully to get her to go out with me. Still, she's a fairly kind person and I'd like to get back in touch, but I seem to have lost all her contact information. Perhaps I can get it through someone else I know who's contact information I still have, and who kind of knows her. This photo was taken at Bongsudae (the top of Ansan, near Yonsei).

    This rather strange picture is of me, Seira (the young woman striking the wild pose on the right) and Lynn (the woman in the lowermost part of the picture). Seira is from Okinawa but speaks native English because she went to an international school. She was a lot of fun to hang around at the guest house. Lynn was studying something related to law, as I recall. She had aspirations to become a high-up lawyer. We all had a good Sunday outing to the Boryeong Mud Festival, got covered in mud, and built a tiny artificial island which temporarily had a population of 3.

    Click here to download a video of another friend that I haven't seen in a while. This is Dang Li. In the video, she is using a device that is used to make ddeok (rice cakes) at a Korean traditional village. She was a good friend over a year and a half ago as we went through Level 3 at Yonsei together. I'd hoped she'd become my girlfriend, but she shot me down twice, and now I know the chances are zero because she's no longer in Korea, and she moved back to China and got married rather quickly (probably the marriage rush that 29-and-a-half-year-old women make, you know how I love to be cynical).

    This concludes my special feature on friends that I haven't seen in a long time. And perhaps some of my readers are wondering what some of these friends look like, and now you know!

    December 10, 2008
    Let's admit it -- lately, this site has been VERY short on photos. And when you're short of something, you need to pull out your reserves -- and yes, I have reserves of pictures. I have a ton of pictures stored in a secret folder on this site that I have never published. So today is the "Old Friends that I Haven't Seen in Forever" special. Check out the left side of the screen for explanations.

    Maybe this seems a little bit like something a chick would do, but I assure you my primary motivation for doing it is not really sentimentality, but just wanting to spice up my site with some more pictures that my viewers have never seen. :-) I'm not THAT sensitive!

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