AKA: William George
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/
That Pose on Flickr.
I tried to get them in the more candid moment I first saw them in, but being a big white guy in Korea means that it’s impossible to blend in. Using the kit lens also meant that my sneaky shot time was reduced. Not having the Korean language skills necessary to pose them more interestingly, I simply let them strike the default “Asian Pose”. At the risk of sounding like a dirty old man (Not to be confused with an O.D.B.) Korean youth seem to have allowed themselves the freedom to be attractive in their own bodies. Few seem to be starving themselves to fit into a certain size. Young women are allowing themselves to be curvier. Young men are pumping iron and becoming beefier. I’m not sure if plastic surgery rates are lessening, they’re better at hiding the scars, or if it’s always been more of a Seoul problem, but folks don’t seem as plastic as they did a decade ago.

That Pose on Flickr.

I tried to get them in the more candid moment I first saw them in, but being a big white guy in Korea means that it’s impossible to blend in. Using the kit lens also meant that my sneaky shot time was reduced.

Not having the Korean language skills necessary to pose them more interestingly, I simply let them strike the default “Asian Pose”.

At the risk of sounding like a dirty old man (Not to be confused with an O.D.B.) Korean youth seem to have allowed themselves the freedom to be attractive in their own bodies. Few seem to be starving themselves to fit into a certain size. Young women are allowing themselves to be curvier. Young men are pumping iron and becoming beefier.

I’m not sure if plastic surgery rates are lessening, they’re better at hiding the scars, or if it’s always been more of a Seoul problem, but folks don’t seem as plastic as they did a decade ago.

in Japan on Flickr.
Trying out my old manual lenses and filters on my new Pentax K-50. My Olympus Pen is the model.  I haven’t been able to figure out if the softness in the images is an aspect of the lens, the mirror slap shaking things due to the really tiny depth of field I was using, or the way the sensor takes in the light of these old lenses. Perhaps a combination of them all?  This wasn’t the “sharp” part of the shot. But I think it was the best part.

in Japan on Flickr.

Trying out my old manual lenses and filters on my new Pentax K-50. My Olympus Pen is the model.

I haven’t been able to figure out if the softness in the images is an aspect of the lens, the mirror slap shaking things due to the really tiny depth of field I was using, or the way the sensor takes in the light of these old lenses. Perhaps a combination of them all?

This wasn’t the “sharp” part of the shot. But I think it was the best part.

Portrait of an Expatriate in South Korea on Flickr.
It has been my unfortunate experience throughout my life that I generally don’t like what everyone else likes, and I like what everyone else generally hates.  For example: Star Trek Voyager was pretty good when the writing staff were paying attention to what they were writing. And Captain Janeway was the best captain for her very contradictory personality that made her a more human character than the other demi-gods sitting in the big chair. (I wrote this confession, by the way.) I cannot convince anyone of this truth because everyone is like, “Voyager Time Travel Reset Button. Derp.”, whenever the topic of the show comes up. This could just be me having weird, contrary tastes in entertainment. But given that the Transformers movie series has made more money than GDPs of most countries, I’m suspecting that it may be more of a case of everyone else having crappy taste. This leads me to this photo. I posted it up because I’ve found that the photos I take that I’m so-so on tend to get the most positive reactions. The images I think are my best largely get a strong round of, “Meh”s. This also leads me to wonder if I should start posting up the photos I think are crap just in case they take the internet by storm. I’d ask your opinion, but you probably think Guns ‘n’ Roses were a good band. How can I trust you?

Portrait of an Expatriate in South Korea on Flickr.

It has been my unfortunate experience throughout my life that I generally don’t like what everyone else likes, and I like what everyone else generally hates.

For example: Star Trek Voyager was pretty good when the writing staff were paying attention to what they were writing. And Captain Janeway was the best captain for her very contradictory personality that made her a more human character than the other demi-gods sitting in the big chair. (I wrote this confession, by the way.) I cannot convince anyone of this truth because everyone is like, “Voyager Time Travel Reset Button. Derp.”, whenever the topic of the show comes up. This could just be me having weird, contrary tastes in entertainment. But given that the Transformers movie series has made more money than GDPs of most countries, I’m suspecting that it may be more of a case of everyone else having crappy taste.

This leads me to this photo. I posted it up because I’ve found that the photos I take that I’m so-so on tend to get the most positive reactions. The images I think are my best largely get a strong round of, “Meh”s. This also leads me to wonder if I should start posting up the photos I think are crap just in case they take the internet by storm.

I’d ask your opinion, but you probably think Guns ‘n’ Roses were a good band. How can I trust you?

Oompah Tweedle Toot on Flickr.
High school band performing at a late summer festival outside of Miyakonojo Station, Japan. That summer saw an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in the farms of Miyazaki-ken. In order to combat it, traffic coming in and out of the district were forced to pass through a chemical tire wash, all places that saw many people come and go (such as malls) had their entrances had something similar across the entrances to their parking lots. As well, all summer festivals were cancelled. A huge disappointment, for sure. Since the summer festival is pretty much the highlight of the year in Japan. But their efforts saw the disease taken care of by September, so the city (or maybe the local merchants association?) quickly put together a much smaller event in front of the train station. Local bands, high school clubs, and a few other acts. Not a bad event for a last minute sort of thing, all said and done. And with it so late in the season not a drop of rain fell, unlike every other year when it was held at the tail end of the rainy season. I have been made aware that there are some events here and there through the calendar here in Gunsan. Nothing kind of cool and groovy like a Japanese summer festival as far as I know. Lots of big showy things like theatre festivals and a marathon. Once I get a new camera I’ll have to make the scene.

Oompah Tweedle Toot on Flickr.

High school band performing at a late summer festival outside of Miyakonojo Station, Japan.

That summer saw an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in the farms of Miyazaki-ken. In order to combat it, traffic coming in and out of the district were forced to pass through a chemical tire wash, all places that saw many people come and go (such as malls) had their entrances had something similar across the entrances to their parking lots. As well, all summer festivals were cancelled.

A huge disappointment, for sure. Since the summer festival is pretty much the highlight of the year in Japan. But their efforts saw the disease taken care of by September, so the city (or maybe the local merchants association?) quickly put together a much smaller event in front of the train station. Local bands, high school clubs, and a few other acts. Not a bad event for a last minute sort of thing, all said and done. And with it so late in the season not a drop of rain fell, unlike every other year when it was held at the tail end of the rainy season.

I have been made aware that there are some events here and there through the calendar here in Gunsan. Nothing kind of cool and groovy like a Japanese summer festival as far as I know. Lots of big showy things like theatre festivals and a marathon. Once I get a new camera I’ll have to make the scene.

Not Liking Biz Markie Means That We Can’t Be Friends (Mirror)

(This is a mirror post)

Here’s a collection of random thoughts for your Korean Memorial Day.

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Item the First

The day we think of as Memorial/ Remembrance Day in Canada is called Peppero Day in Korea because the 11/11 looks like four sticks of Pocky. If you’re new to Korea and are one of those “I wuv ouwa twoops” types, relax if you encounter this. When was the last time you put on a poppy (Canadian thing) on June sixth? And anyway this is the least offensive thing you’ll encounter here and if that bugs you you might as well check out now.

Unless you live in Newfoundland. Then Memorial Day and Canada Day are the same day. Because Newfies only became Canadians after a long internal struggle and I think they’re being ironic.

Item the Second

Yesterday I got back my fourth roll of film shot here in Gunsan. It’s pretty uninspiring.

I’m starting on month four here in Korea, and I’ve been doing a lot of self-examination (“I bet you are. Har! Har! That’s a masturbation joke! Geddit?”) about why I’ve been so uninspired here. It’s easy to blame it on the small nature of Gunsan, and the lack of attractive landscape outside of it. But my general feeling of “Meh” was present each time I visited larger cities here as well.

I think it’s because I returned to Korea out of necessity instead of wanting to. Sure, I had some curiosity about how things may have changed in my time away, but that curiosity has been sated. Right now every morning is an exercise in me going, “I wonder how late I can sleep-in before missing work? Can I sleep the rest of this year away and still get paid?”

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Item the Third

Five reasons why living Korea is better than all the other options:

  1. The smog overhead protects you from harmful UV rays. No more need for sunscreen.
  2. Dodging bad drivers who must have missed the class where they’re taught what the red light means as you legally cross the street at the crossing improves your reflexes.
  3. Getting insulted as a form of motivation teaches you the true value of a stiff drink
  4. You get good at telling famous people with the same plastic surgery apart. The secret is in the hair. Like a how a bad comic artist changes the haircuts so you can tell their characters apart. In bands you tell by who does the rap break and who doesn’t. I’m still working on telling the difference between the bands though. I think it might have to do with the number of bottled blondes.
  5. Gochujang is the best condiment ever which is why it goes on everything you eat from noodles to rice to meat to sandwiches to snacks. Why would you need to put anything else on your food? Why they haven’t made the logical jump to just sucking on a mechanical teat of the stuff is beyond me.

Item the Fourth

I’m gonna stop my Sunday Singalong posts. Because no one reads them. And I’m not going to keep trying to force good taste in music upon you. Enjoy your 2NE1, you monsters.

May Biz Markie have mercy upon your empty souls.

Item the Fifth

But if I were to continue the Sunday Singalong, I’d probably post up this tune by Don Messer because I think you deserve to listen to something that would make your soul grow.



This or It’s Raining Men by the Weather Girls. Same level of life-affirming.

Item the Final

I wish I had the money to travel during this five day weekend I’m right in the middle of. This sitting around in my apartment and doing nothing but blogging and playing MMOs is making me grumpy(er).

may082011 on Flickr.
My theory: Old folks wake up early because, when they were young parents, “before the kids wake up” was the only time of the day they had to themselves. This photo was taken with the Olympus Pen EE2 during one of those periods at a friend’s home. Speaking of friends, my old pal Jayavant has made a habit of posting photos he took a decade ago in Korea. While he made the transition to back home (amazing what you can do when you have a desired skill set) and I’m still here slinging English, these images were from around the time we met. Korea hasn’t changed a bit since that time. All the cities still look the same. The housing too. The only real difference that I can tell is the massive influx of coffee houses on every corner now. I don’t have any photos from a decade ago. [Insert rant about how you must double back-up your image files here] The above is the best I can do and this is from 2011. For all intents and purposes it might as well be from a decade ago. Or two for that matter. As much as I’d love to get back in Japan, realistically I’m deep in that undesirable age bracket for work there and the odds are pretty damned long.  I really shouldn’t be here in Korea for that matter, saggy old fucker that I am. Score one for being willing to live in a small city while your betters fill up Seoul and Busan.

may082011 on Flickr.

My theory: Old folks wake up early because, when they were young parents, “before the kids wake up” was the only time of the day they had to themselves. This photo was taken with the Olympus Pen EE2 during one of those periods at a friend’s home.

Speaking of friends, my old pal Jayavant has made a habit of posting photos he took a decade ago in Korea. While he made the transition to back home (amazing what you can do when you have a desired skill set) and I’m still here slinging English, these images were from around the time we met. Korea hasn’t changed a bit since that time. All the cities still look the same. The housing too. The only real difference that I can tell is the massive influx of coffee houses on every corner now.

I don’t have any photos from a decade ago. [Insert rant about how you must double back-up your image files here] The above is the best I can do and this is from 2011. For all intents and purposes it might as well be from a decade ago. Or two for that matter. As much as I’d love to get back in Japan, realistically I’m deep in that undesirable age bracket for work there and the odds are pretty damned long.

I really shouldn’t be here in Korea for that matter, saggy old fucker that I am. Score one for being willing to live in a small city while your betters fill up Seoul and Busan.

Photographer, I See You on Flickr.
I usually wish I could blend into the background when I take this sort of photograph because, as you know, once the subject knows that it’s being observed it changes it’s behaviour. Unfortunately I’m a big, fat, ugly guy and the only way I could blend into the crowd would be to go back to Canada. Burn on you, Canadians!  The problem with thinking like this… The wanting to vanish part, not the self-loathing… is that you are separating yourself from the crowd because you feel they are simply a thing placed there for your use and not people. I think that’s why a lot of street photography makes people uncomfortable. The photographer is basically treating the subject same way a sociopath would. Yes, there are a lot of street photographers with this attitude. Several of them are hanging in galleries right now. I guess there’s a balance to be found between being courteous towards your subject and getting the so-called “moment”. I sure haven’t found it yet. Nice of her to not glare at me like most people here do.

Photographer, I See You on Flickr.

I usually wish I could blend into the background when I take this sort of photograph because, as you know, once the subject knows that it’s being observed it changes it’s behaviour. Unfortunately I’m a big, fat, ugly guy and the only way I could blend into the crowd would be to go back to Canada.

Burn on you, Canadians!

The problem with thinking like this… The wanting to vanish part, not the self-loathing… is that you are separating yourself from the crowd because you feel they are simply a thing placed there for your use and not people. I think that’s why a lot of street photography makes people uncomfortable. The photographer is basically treating the subject same way a sociopath would. Yes, there are a lot of street photographers with this attitude. Several of them are hanging in galleries right now.

I guess there’s a balance to be found between being courteous towards your subject and getting the so-called “moment”. I sure haven’t found it yet.

Nice of her to not glare at me like most people here do.

Lost at Sea on Flickr.
This was on the Yoyogi Park side of Harajuku Station in Tokyo.  The last time I had experienced a crowd that thick was in Seoul’s Dongdaemun shopping area when they had closed off half the sidewalks, forcing the massive crowd into a bottleneck between the department stores and the subway station. No such excuse here. Everyone was simply making the scene that day and we got caught up in it. A fellow in a full cowboy outfit glared me. I can only assume that it was because my Australian cowboy hat looked a lot cooler than his American one.

Lost at Sea on Flickr.

This was on the Yoyogi Park side of Harajuku Station in Tokyo.

The last time I had experienced a crowd that thick was in Seoul’s Dongdaemun shopping area when they had closed off half the sidewalks, forcing the massive crowd into a bottleneck between the department stores and the subway station. No such excuse here. Everyone was simply making the scene that day and we got caught up in it.

A fellow in a full cowboy outfit glared me. I can only assume that it was because my Australian cowboy hat looked a lot cooler than his American one.

shot44 on Flickr.
For the first four months of my time in Japan, I would pass through this parking lot on my way to the PC Cafe to get my weekly internetting done. I got internet at home at the same time I got a bicycle. I would still pass though this parking lot, just on my way to getting lost somewhere. Shot with an Instax Mini. Scan of a print.

shot44 on Flickr.

For the first four months of my time in Japan, I would pass through this parking lot on my way to the PC Cafe to get my weekly internetting done. I got internet at home at the same time I got a bicycle. I would still pass though this parking lot, just on my way to getting lost somewhere.

Shot with an Instax Mini. Scan of a print.

'Nudder Day, 'Nudder Dollar

‘Nudder Day, ‘Nudder Dollar

the room

Tomorrow will begin with a small cup of coffee. A small cup is all I can handle these days thanks to the unwelcome movement of my intestines out of their proper spot a year ago. Assuming dinner moves on its way to the ocean in a timely manner, a bit of breakfast as I surf the web. With an hour or two before I need to leave for work, I go through what teaching materials I have on hand in order to…

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Fur Suit Riot on Flickr.
This is another one of those images where I feel that any cleaning will ruin it. Olympus Pen EE2. It’s been a year and one week since I finished my job in Japan. All that was left for me to do after that was enjoying my final April there before returning home to find out what went wrong with my insides. If things had worked out better for me in the end, I probably would have left earlier. But my boss, who had asked me to stay until May, suddenly told me my replacement would be there on April first. This threw everything into disarray. Not only had I been budgeting for May (leaving me short on money), may lease required me to give them a month’s notice for cancellation or they’d take the month’s rent out of my account whether I was there or not. So I decided to stay and try my best to memorize Miyakonojo as best I could before it became nothing but some old photos. I feel the statute of limitations on posting the images I took on the job there has passed now and I will be poking around in those archives for images to post up in the next few weeks. The above was a coworker who had been forced into the fur mascot costume to wave at children while I fended off teenaged boys who wanted to knock the head off for the lulz.

Fur Suit Riot on Flickr.

This is another one of those images where I feel that any cleaning will ruin it. Olympus Pen EE2.

It’s been a year and one week since I finished my job in Japan. All that was left for me to do after that was enjoying my final April there before returning home to find out what went wrong with my insides. If things had worked out better for me in the end, I probably would have left earlier. But my boss, who had asked me to stay until May, suddenly told me my replacement would be there on April first. This threw everything into disarray. Not only had I been budgeting for May (leaving me short on money), may lease required me to give them a month’s notice for cancellation or they’d take the month’s rent out of my account whether I was there or not. So I decided to stay and try my best to memorize Miyakonojo as best I could before it became nothing but some old photos.

I feel the statute of limitations on posting the images I took on the job there has passed now and I will be poking around in those archives for images to post up in the next few weeks. The above was a coworker who had been forced into the fur mascot costume to wave at children while I fended off teenaged boys who wanted to knock the head off for the lulz.

Laughs Out Loud on Flickr.
My process. Step by step. Step one: Put on headphones and crank up the music. Crank down the music when I remember that I’m old and prone to rocking-out-related injuries. Step two: Open FastStone image viewer. You may use whatever image-viewing program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation even though it reads pretty much every file format out there including the douchebaggy proprietary RAW formats camera manufacturers still make for some reason. Step three: Go through every single photo for the two hundredth time, looking for an image I have yet to feature. Give images I’ve skipped another look. The subject might suck, but the background might not. That’s why this image got to you today. She was missed because she was lost in the crowd shot that I took at Yanaka Ginza in Tokyo with my Olympus Pen E-p3. Now she is not.  Step four: Crack open GIMP and fiddle with some basic adjustments until I find it acceptable. You may use whatever image manipulation program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation though it does pretty much everything you could want and since it’s free you don’t need to pirate it unlike certain very expensive image manipulation programs that shall remain nameless. Step five: Open up the copy of Word that came bundled with the computer, and think about what I want to say about the image and whatever else is on my mind at the time. Correct all of the typos. Step six: Do all of the boring uploading/ linking/ tagging internet stuff. Steps seven through one hundred: Edit and re-edit the post every hour because spellcheck is not a replacement for an editor and can’t tell you when you’re writing correctly-spelled nonsense. Step one hundred and one: Refresh repeatedly for Likes until bedtime.

Laughs Out Loud on Flickr.

My process. Step by step.

Step one: Put on headphones and crank up the music. Crank down the music when I remember that I’m old and prone to rocking-out-related injuries.

Step two: Open FastStone image viewer. You may use whatever image-viewing program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation even though it reads pretty much every file format out there including the douchebaggy proprietary RAW formats camera manufacturers still make for some reason.

Step three: Go through every single photo for the two hundredth time, looking for an image I have yet to feature. Give images I’ve skipped another look. The subject might suck, but the background might not. That’s why this image got to you today. She was missed because she was lost in the crowd shot that I took at Yanaka Ginza in Tokyo with my Olympus Pen E-p3. Now she is not.

Step four: Crack open GIMP and fiddle with some basic adjustments until I find it acceptable. You may use whatever image manipulation program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation though it does pretty much everything you could want and since it’s free you don’t need to pirate it unlike certain very expensive image manipulation programs that shall remain nameless.

Step five: Open up the copy of Word that came bundled with the computer, and think about what I want to say about the image and whatever else is on my mind at the time. Correct all of the typos.

Step six: Do all of the boring uploading/ linking/ tagging internet stuff.

Steps seven through one hundred: Edit and re-edit the post every hour because spellcheck is not a replacement for an editor and can’t tell you when you’re writing correctly-spelled nonsense.

Step one hundred and one: Refresh repeatedly for Likes until bedtime.