Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Round up of some Korean blogs

I’ve been reading a lot of Korean blogs in the past couple of weeks to get to know what’s happening and read what other foreigners have to say about life in Korea. As you can imagine a large number of bloggers are English teachers (ESL English as Second Language) . From the 36 I have sampled so far the majority seem to be American or Canadian, with a few Australians and British. Those that are not teachers are either Army, (GI Korea) , Students , Accountants or Attorneys. The current ratio of male to female bloggers is 23 to 10.

Most bloggers post between two and three times a week on average, but the most prolific blogger must be RJ at The Marmots Hole. This blog, which is quoted in the Joog Ang daily newspaper, is probably the one blog most often linked to from other blogs. His regular daily postings cover aspects of the news in Korea often relating to foreigners and items of Korean culture that interest him and the large number of folk who comment. Thanks to his ability to read Korean he can gain a better understanding of current news than I ever will be able to. Today there are already eleven posts, including some from other contributers to the blog.

Other popular blogs that are also referenced a lot include The Lost Nomad, Big Hominid's Hairy Chasms and ZenKimchi Korean Food Journal. All three cover current news items, humour, the ups and downs of teaching, their travels and food and cooking in Korea. The authors have all been in Korea for several years and have built up an enthusiastic following with their wacky and interesting posts.

Some blogs have been around for several years, since May 2001 in the case of David at Staypuff , whilst others have only just started in March . Almost all the blogs include photos of their own and sometimes videos of their exploits or links to youtube with clips of interest. An example blog with no photos is Korean Liberator who focuses on the antics of North Korea and it’s leader. The blog keeps readers abreast of worldwide news coverage of the country. Some blogs are photos only for example Seoul Daily Photo where Kais posts interesting and unusual photos on a regular basis, she also has a blog in Korean on a separate page.

Big Hominid and Seoul Hero get the prize so far for the largest number of links to other sites, I estimated both have more than 200 links. Some sites have no links to any others at all, but the majority of blogs have between 10 to 30 links to other blogs and websites on their blogroll. (That's the list of other blogs the writer has put links to, usually down the side of their blog.)

A lot of blogs have setup RSS feeds which makes life easy for keeping track of new postings. For those not familiar with this, RSS provides a publishing mechanism so that you can use software either on your own computer or create an account at one of the many dedicated websites to enable you to monitor posts from the blogs you read in one place, without having to visit each individual blog website to see if they have posted or not. If you have a blog, it’s not too difficult to setup. I used a third party site feedburner to publish posts from this blog, it's that small orange symbol below the "Power Blogger" logo on the righthand side, and I have installed NewsNetWire to subscribe to the blogs and read them on my computer at home.

Most bloggers main topics are life in Korea, the food, their travels, their work and life , family and friends and items of interest to their readers. The one exception to this is Feetman Seoul who has just started and who has dedicated his blog to photographing and discussing the legs and feet of the ladies of Seoul. Don’t worry, it is work safe, as he focuses strictly below knee level.

Other attributes I’ve not been keeping track of are: Advertising: some do, some don’t. Comments: almost all the blogs allow you to comment on the posts. You have to have a login for some blogs, but quite a few allow anonymous postings. You have to type an antispam code for some, this is to prevent automated programs adding spam comments to the blog advertising other websites.

Surprisingly not everyone who is on the Korean Blog list has a link on their blog back to the site and there are several bloggers who’ve not added theirs to Alan Scully’s masterpiece of a list. I’ve so far only found one dead link and one blogger who has moved on from Korea, in his case to Syria. Almost all the blogs I’ve visited so far have posted at least once in August, so this list is most assuredly a valuable and up-to-date repository.

If you are interested in reading more Korean blogs, due to the sheer number of blogs on the list it is difficult to know where to start. Perhaps Alan would consider adding a few more fields to help make it easier to select based on the material? But, dear reader, I shall be doing my best over the coming months to visit them all. 36 down, 316 to go. (based on the current total of 352)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wildlife in Seoul

I've mentioned Yeouido park a few times. There is also the Yeouido Setgang Ecology park which I have been visiting these past couple of days. It is, as it's name suggests a lot more natural than the park, the footpaths here are all gravel and there are no labels on the trees etc.

It has been a good place for birdspotting. In the past two days I've seen : Spot Billed and Mandarin Ducks, an Egret, two Night Herons, several Grey Herons, a Black Naped Oriole, a pair of Rufous Turtle Doves, plenty of Brown-eared Bulbuls, Magpies and Sparrows are everywhere, a Yellow Wagtail, a Kingfisher, a Marsh Tit and an unidentified wader and a warbler.

Since my photos of the birds just show very small brown blobs, I thought I'd share this one of a Cicada.

These small creatures make such a loud racket it's incredible. It's taken a while to get used to such noise. There are also plenty of other smaller animals about: we saw two very large butterflies and other smaller ones; dragonflies are very numerous and colourful and the bees are also large. The ponds have koi carp and also turtles in them, and I've seen several small rodents in the park. All in all, not too bad for the centre of the city.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I'm a Legal Alien

I went back to the Korean Immigration Office in Seoul yesterday to collect my Alien registration card:

All very fast and efficient, only 10,000 won. I've checked, and my spouse's visa does not allow me to work. They are very strict about this so no working for me, oh dear what a shame, but since the house husband lark is going very well so far I don't think this is going to be a problem.

I met up with The Bat in the afternoon and we went "into town" to the Bank Of Korea Museum. It's not a very large museum and does not seem to be on many maps, but it is free. Inside, the building and the atmosphere reminded us both a great deal of the Bank of England Museum in London.

There is not very much English text on the display boards, but all the objects in the museum were labelled in English. The most unusual was a Horse hoof shaped silver coin. It was about 8 cm across, 4 cm deep and shaped like a cast of a hoof: not very comfortable to carry in the pocket.

One document of historic interest was a telegram from the IMF:
Date : Aug 23 2001.
Regarding Korea's repayment of the IMF loan of Dec 3rd 1997.
We are pleased to inform you the following sums have been transferred : 106,294,596.67 Euro (Germany) , 19,360,584.89 Euro (France) 8,683,250.67 Euro (Greece) 5,294,419.29 Euro (Ireland) 4,541,659,622 Dinar (Kuwait) .
Korea has repaid in full the standby credit of 14,412,500,000 SDR extended by the IMF.

It's surprising that with those huge sums of money they go right down to Euro cents to balance the books.

Also currently at the museum is a temporary exhibition of a collection of currencies from around the world. A large selection of notes and coins from over 50 countries are viewable in pull out cases. A small improvement would have been to include the year of production for the notes, since not all were the current notes in circulation. There were also some exhibits of currency oddities. I liked: the 3 dollar note from the Bahamas; The half franc note from Tunisia; A 2 Tala bill from Samoa; and the 15, 45 and 90 unit bills from Myanmar.

Well worth a visit if you have 30 or 40 minutes to kill. It's less than ten minutes walk from City Hall. Strangely the BOK does not even mention it on it's website! It's like they want to keep it a secret.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Under the Gourd Walk

I thought I'd show you a couple of photos from our route during the walk to The Bat's office in the morning. This is a 50 meter long walk through a tunnel of gourds in the middle of Yeouido Park.

It's quite an impressive sight. They employ a number of gardeners whose sole task appears to be tying up the gourds to prevent them dropping, and cleaning up the dead leaves from the plants. There is also a security guard there during the day, we assume to prevent people from helping themselves to these low hanging Cucurbitaceae

The other side of the park is an eight lane highway:

Mercifully there is a pedestrian crossing. Readers familiar with life in Korea will immediately spot what to most people may seem completely commonplace, but is rare here. To save you guessing it's the red car. In Korea it seems as though you can have any colour car you like as long as it's black, white, silver or grey. In the two weeks I've been here that was only the third red car I've seen.

Meeting up with The Bat again during the afternoon we went swimming in the Han River park in Yeouido. Outdoor swimming is very refreshing in this heat. For some reason just after we'd got there and swum a bit, we realised we needed to be wearing a swimming cap, bought one, everyone out of the water for 15 minutes. Luckily an english speaking person told us. No idea why we were all kept out of the pool for a bit, then just as suddenly allowed back in.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's strange where blogging takes you

As a House Husband I have plenty of time to surf the net. (Don't worry the floors are clean and I just have to go and pick up the dry cleaning before meeting The Bat for lunch) I was supposed to be finding some Taekwondo lessons for us to do to keep fit. This place seems like a good bet, more news on that later I hope.

OK so I got side tracked, one web page led to another and another, you know how they do. Searching for Taekwondo lessons in Seoul I got to this page which led me to read a bit more of the blog which led to to this posting of a dog balancing 32 meat treats on his nose on a Japanese games show which led to a simlar video of someone elses dog doing the same trick which led me to read more of her blog and finally this posting in her blog . She seems to get a pretty impressive amount of hatemail and did you see how many comments she got on her dog?

This blogging lark, it's a funny old world out there. No two blogs are the same, oh except the automatically generated ones. You sometimes find them with generated text and advertising links that I assume are trying to improve the link rate for google.

If you are ever short of inspiration and none of the links on the current blog are of interest just click the "Next Blog" link in the very top right hand corner. I tried that this morning and found June in Korea being sad. What are the chances of finding another blogger in South Korea?

What do think this is advertising?

This lady appeared on a banner near the bus stop yesterday and then we got free sweets attached to a flyer with the same image:

What do you think they are trying to advertise with a lady on the toilet with her skirt round her ankles? Not obvious? Well from what I can see on the back of the flyer it appears to be "CSH Sportsmall Fitness Center". But I could be wrong.

Another cartoon that has got me very confused is this one in the lift in our building:

The bunny either sees the lift has been damaged, or has just done a karate kick and smashed the panel, so he phones Bob the Builder. Those seem easy enough. But then the bunny is bouncing up and down and a small blue creature collides with the life door? Right, well that's clear. Not. But then in the final panel there is an entire zoo / aquarium in the lift, Bob the Builder is now doing ambulance duty with a blue spirit for someone, something that appears to have damaged their foot?
Yes. There are many many things in this country that I cannot begin to understand, and that's before I've even left our building. If there is anyone reading this blog that can ready Korean I would be delighted to understand exactly what message the lift decorators were trying to get over.

A warm welcome to readers who've found this blog from The Korean Blog List
I will be working my way through that list of 351 blogs and giving you the highlights and summaries of what I find during the coming weeks and months.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Apartment

I wish I could say that this is the view from our window:

But it's not quite. Due to the crazy way the apartment was built the wrong way round, it's the view from the corridor and balcony outside our apartment. Instead our one room looks out at the building next door about 10 feet away, which has become, between the time The Bat came and viewed the room and the day we moved in, a building site as they refurbish it. We have drills and hammering starting from around 7am until 8pm or later.

That building is the National Assembly building. That website seems particularly harsh, but explains how this little island was planned as the "Korean Manhatten".
If you want to see where exactly we are here's google maps reference however our building was not built whenever that shot was taken. It's the second block from the top in the group of eight. To the south is Yeouido Park, a narrow strip of greenery that is very pleasant of an evening and in the morning on the way to the office for The Bat.

We are slowly getting settled in. We’ve unpacked all the boxes and thrown them away, well, added them to the huge recycling pile in the basement here.
By some miracle pretty much all our stuff seems to fit into the built in cupboards, with just a few bits and pieces on the floor.
The previous owner sold us two armchairs and two regular chairs, otherwise there would be zero furniture in the room. There is no bed, just some very thin bedding rolls that we are sleeping on. There's a parquet floor, so it's a bit hard!

The cooking area is not too bad. A washing machine that I have just been able to get to work this morning; a sink; two electrics rings and plenty of cupboards. However with the price of food, it’s a lot cheaper to eat out.

I've taken loads of photos. I'll try and get round to putting some of them on to blog as I progress.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fish Market

Today we visited the Noryangjin fish market. Even at 2pm it's still quite busy, at 5am I gather it is in full flow. There is a wide variety of fish and sea food on sale, there's plenty of "weird" stuff like sea cucumber, sea slugs etc too. A lot of it is kept alive in tanks, The Bat and I joked that it is better than the sad aquarium we went to yesterday at Building 63. Yesterday there was one huge Japanese spider crab, today in the market there were tanks and tanks full of these huge crustaceans.

We were also looking for a table, we found one secondhand furniture store but nothing of use. Back at home I've found a great site for this Now I just need to figure out the Korean.

We didn't have much luck finding a good bus this morning, so after doing a bit more shopping at the Lotte supermarket (big mistake: it turns out to be a bit like Harrods or Fortnum and Masons. With our small basket of shopping we were attended at the checkout desk by no fewer than five ladies trying to help) we decided to get a taxi home. Passing the driver The Bat's residence permit with our address in Korean on was not much help to the driver. He peered at it and showed another driver who seemed to have had a bit of clue and we reached Youido. He then pulled over and phoned someone but he still did not seem to be very happy. A lot of taxis have a big sign on the side window saying "Free Interpretation" so we pointed this out to him, but he shook his head at that. So he carried on driving. At least we knew where we were, and when he was about to take a wrong turn we gesticulated wildly and directed him in a similar manner back to our apartment. Only 3300 Won but I think the bus would have saved our patience.

Having got our fish and seafood home we cooked for the first time in our apartment. A very tasty spaghetti and clams, it's the first meal we've had without Kimchi since we've been here!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Connected from home

True to their word KT sent two engineers round this morning at 09:30 and within minutes I was connected to the internet. It seems to be built into the apartment somehow, there is a network connection in the wall and one lead plugs straight into the computer and the Mac immmediately recognised it, and I was online straight away. No setup, no configuration, so usernames or passwords. This is the way computing should be!

I then got a phone call from someone at KT to say the equipment in the building is better than discussed and cheaper than agreed yesterday so it's 100Mbps and 4,000 Won less. Just this second I got a second call from KT asking if everything was working OK. Very good of them to check.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

National Holiday

August 15th is a National Holiday in Korea, they celebrate liberation from the Japanese, so The Bat had a day off. We spent the day at Gyeongbokgung which, because of the holiday, was free entry for the day. Bargain.
One of The Bat's students had volunteered to be our guide and we spent a very interesting day with him. I took many photos but cannot upload them yet so I'll share some other links to this fascinating place.

Our boxes arrived on Monday evening. Many thanks to John at DS Logistics for his personal and efficient service. If you are shipping to Korea I highly recommend them. I spent Wednesday morning unpacking and met The Bat for lunch and coffee before she had to go back to work.

This morning my task has been to get us connected to the internet at home. With slight trepidation, armed only with a map and the address: 2-5 Hanangno 2, Yongsan-gu I left our appartment to get a bus and metro to the Korea Telecom office I had guessed as being closest to us.

The 461 Bus took an especially round-about route and then ended up going a fair way past the metro station Daebang that I was aiming for. I won't be using that bus again, but at least with the air conditioning it was comfortable! The metro was only two stops. Emerging from the station with no idea which direction to go I headed left and soon discovered I was on the correct street. Local maps of the neighbourhood did not mention the KT office, so I blindly continued in what turned out to the correct direction and, as I had hoped, it was a prominent and modern office block with a large corporate logo.

I was politely ushered into the plaza waiting area and presented with a numbered ticket for the queue by the doorman. After waiting only a few moments I was seen at one of the three desks by a lady who spoke enough English to be able to be able to help me fill in the form she provided. Less than 15 minutes later I walked out with an appointment for the engineer to call tomorrow to install the Megapass Premium service. It's 45,500 Won (roughly 25 GBP) a month including modem for 13Mbps upload speed which seems like good value. Amazing service, all this based on my passport and our address. By the way, there's a link to a currency converter on the righthand pane which converts Won to GBP or other currency.

Just spotted on another blog The Marmot's Hole those killer fans have hit again. It is very hot and humid at the moment and also during the night making sleeping difficult. We were thinking of buying a fan but maybe not...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Greetings from Seoul

I've arrived!
I had hoped to post "Airside at Heathow" once I'd finally got checked in and through the departure control, but the Net Nanny software they use on the internet kiosks classify and all blogs on it as "unsuitable due to likelihood of porn" I also can't remember the email addres I can use to mail posts to.

Needless to say Heathrow on Friday was "organised chaos". The time taken between arriving at Heathrow tube station and getting airside was over two hours, not too bad considering the thousands of people in random queues in the check in zone. The atmosphere was good natured and the information assistants did their best, but I was very lucky to somehow arrive at the head of the Korean air check in time to be able to request and recieve a seat by the emergency exit. The queue upstairs to get airside took 45 minutes alone to traverse.

The flight was late departing due to having to offload two peoples luggage who failed to make it to the gate, (probably still in the queue to get airside!) and delays on the airport taxiways. We took off an hour late. I felt sorry for anyone on the Continental airlines flight to Chicago which was scheduled for 16:00 but delayed till 22:00, several other US flights were reporting long delays too.

It was an uneventful flight. My tactic of staying awake the previous night paid off and I managed to sleep for four or five hours. We arrived at Incheon Seoul at around 5pm local time and I met The Bat in the arrivals hall at around 6pm. A very joyful reunion. After a bus ride and short taxi journey we arrived at our new apartment. The Bat had only just picked up the "keys" ( it's an electronic button key) that morning and had been busy cleaning it and moving out of the original unsuitable accomodation.

The apartment is in the Youido area of Seoul. Out of the window we can see the National Assembly building. It is also the financial and media district of the city. It's full of modern skyscrapers: imagine Canary wharf, but covering an area six or severn times larger. Our building is beside the Ben Hur hotel!

Sunday we visited the almost brand new National Museum of Korea. A huge place teeming with Koreans. I also had my first trip on the metro. More, many more details to follow.

This morning we followed what will be our normal routine. The Bat needs to be in the office for 6am to prepare for her first class at 6:30. So a 5am start leaves enough time for the 20 minute walk to the language school.

I'm posting this from a post office opposite the school. It's amazing: blogger somehow knows I'm in Korea, and all the menu options are in Korean. Luckily I can remember to relative locations of the important links.

The county is so full of surprises and interesting things. I've already got a couple of months worth of ideas to blog about and I haven't even started taking photos yet.
Better post and let someone else use the terminal.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Update on Departure

It's looking good for departure tomorrow is my current feeling. The Thursday flight departed OK this evening only 20 mins later than scheduled. Considering the disruption at LHR today I would say that was very good indeed.

It looks like I won't be able to take the Ipod into the cabin with me nor any reading material at all unless they are letting you take stuff you have bought in the departure lounge. It's not clear at the moment. It looks like it is going to be a very long, very boring eleven hour flight.
I am planning to stay up late tonight so that I am very tired tomorrow and hopefully sleep on the flight.

A new series of The Dragons Den started recently, I watched it this evening. It has started to become a bit of a formula: They usually rubbish and dismiss most ideas pretty quickly; there is usually one person they go with, but they always want to take double the stake in the company that the entrepreneurs are offering. This evening one poor chap pitching a telephone mechanic service to troubleshoot your car was reduced to tears by "The Dragons". The guy they did go with (the truck washing business) they fought over amongst themselves and finally agreed to give him 200k for 40% of his business. Lets hope it works out for him. The most amusing part was an older gentlemen trying to sell them the idea of the EasyXChair a home workout kit in the shape of an armchair. All credit to the guy he's put up a website. It brought tears of laughter to Duncan's eyes trying the running machine out of the back of the chair!

I've been following blogs today to add to the "blogroll" on the side. It's a pastime that can easily take up your whole day. I'll try and add a few more Korean ones. The Korean Blog list has 332 blogs so I'm slowly working my way through them, even at three or four per day it's going to take a while. My current favorite is The Daily Kimchi two Canadians English teachers (what else) with a keen interest in Korean food and Carrefour

With any luck this will be my last post from Clapham, South London. I may post a quick update from an internet kiosk at Heathrow, otherwise the next post will be from Seoul. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Major Airport delays

The chap came to collect the boxes this morning. All 33 have been safely loaded on to the van. He said "When are you flying? The airport is completely full, it chaos at Heathrow." "Huh" I replied. "Haven't you heard the news?" "No". After he left I turned on the TV, there was a rolling news update program on BBC one. It turns out the police have foiled a plot to blow up nine or ten planes in mid air, and have therefore raised the alert status to critical. They have arrested 21 people in London , Birmingham and High Wycombe.

All flights not already in the air to the UK are being cancelled.
All UK airports are affected with LHR, being the most the busy, the most heavily affected this morning. The BAA web site could not stand the pressure of so many people trying to find out flight status that it is currently down.

The new measures introduced this morning mean absolutely no hand luggage except wallets and purses on any flights.

I'm not sure what this means for me at the moment. My ticket is for the flight 9:30pm Friday 11th. I'll check Korean air website this afternoon and try and call them tomorrow.

Looks like we have to be prepared for some delays to my arrival!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What's the story in Balamory?

I've just had a very enjoyable weekend down in Cornwall staying with another friend from my school years. His son's favorite TV show is Balamory on CBeebies. As a result of watching only a couple of episodes of this delightful little program for pre-schoolers I now cannot get the theme tune out of my head. I'm sorry I can't share the tune with you, as you don't seem to be able to listen to the catchy little number off the website.

Saturday we went to Perranporth beach where those more adventurous than me went in to the sea and on Sunday we went to the Eden Project somewhere I have been keen to go to for a long time.

Sadly I cannot post the latest postcard from The Bat as it appears that our scanner has given up the ghost. It makes a non stop grinding / clunking noise when you turn it on and all attempts at maintenance (with a hammer) have failed at the moment. So I'll cheat and post this one instead which came from Photoatlas :

I've been given a few more items for the shopping list to purchase before I get out there, so must nip out and shop.

Friday, August 04, 2006

We woz robbed

Many thanks to Lisa of Detica for organising this evenings entertainment. A wine tasting event at Berries wine bar near Blackfriars. It took the form a "Call my bluff" type evening.

We were split into teams and give eight wines to taste. For each wine Chris and Dave, two wine tasting experts, tried to convince us exactly which wines we were drinking. My team of "Corked by the Short and Curlies" with Keith , Pete, Louis and John initially came second. However after a stewards inquiry, but after the prizes had been allocated, it appears that due to an arithmetic error we actually scored more than the "winning team". We could tell the Sancerre from the Stellenbosch; the Verdicchio from the Riesling; the Viognier from the Muscatel and the Chardonnay from the Chablis. On the Reds we correctly identified the Louis Latour Gamay from a South African Gamay and the Blackstone Merlot from the ValPolicella. But we were wrong on the St Jozef Shiraz, it was the Leaping Lizard and the final red was Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, not the Festino Recioto we thought it was. A very enjoyable evening.

Another recent postcard from the bat :

Jongmyo Jerye, The royal Ancestral Rita in Jongmyo Shrine.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

First Day of Retirement

I was suffering slightly from a hangover this morning after my leaving drinks last night. When The Bat asked where was I going to have my leaving drinks I said the local pub near the office. She suggested why not go somewhere more unusual : how about Tower 42. ( The old Nat West Tower) Booking was easy and last night we had a brilliant view out over the city from 42 floors up, lots to drink and some very good finger food. I am hoping someone will email me some photos to show the view.

I was surprised and delighted yesterday to receive a leaving present of a Ipod Nano. To everyone who contributed I cannot thank you enough, you were all very generous indeed.

So the first day has gone very well. I've been to the bank to transfer a few million Korean Won to The Bat for the deposit on the apartment; I've had a fried breakfast at Cafe Delight on Clapham high street; I've done The Times prize sudoku, just in time to enter the competition and have I've been watching Countdown this afternoon. You can tell who the advertisers are expecting to watch by the adverts : Opticians at home, Stair lifts, Denture glue!

Got another postcard from The Bat :

Books and Scholar's utensils, Embroidered silk. Museum of Korean Embroidery.
Sadly the embroidery does not really come over very well on the postcard, I'm looking forward to seeing it in real life.

Jonathan Allen retires

As is customary when leaving the firm I sent out an email announcing my departure. However I created it and emailed it to mimic the style sent out to the whole company when someone very senior leaves the firm. Needless to say the following email did NOT go to the 23,000 employees at the firm, only a select few were blind copied:

From: Allen, Jonathan
Sent: Wednesday, August 02, 2006 12:32 AM
To: 'All Employees'
Subject: Jonathan Allen to retire.

We regret to announce that Jonathan Allen will be retiring from the position
of Production Support Analyst in the PRISM team in Prime Brokerage

Jonathan graduated from Southampton University in 1988. He joined the firm
in Zurich in 1997. He retired from the firm for the first time at
the end of 2003. After almost a year in the wilderness he
was enticed back by a carelessly worded advert on for a
position titled "Application Support, Major Investment Bank Margin System

During his contract Jonathan has worked with a large number of talented,
enthusiastic, and helpful staff from a number of offices and from
different departments.

Please join me in wishing Jonathan and his wife the very best for their next
adventure in Korea, and thanking him for his contribution to the firm.

You can contact him in the future at his private email address
and find out how he copes with retirement in Seoul
by reading his blog :


Tuesday, August 01, 2006


This was titled, Kun-bok. Millitary uniform(sic).

Hey, More Free Comedy

Another busy day of free comedy on Sunday. I was going to go to the Battersea Art Centre for something I saw recommended in TimeOut, but the box office was closed and their website was not taking bookings. When I found out the Theatre Royal Stratford East was offering Comedy night: free entry, I thought "It's a no brainer".

I spent the afternoon at the Science Museum followed by a walk through Hyde Park. I nipped into the Serpentine Gallery and saw what I thought were some pretty mediocre, very large photos of very mundane things. Umm, "Modern Art" I thought, or "Kunst" as the Germans like to say. Reading the blurb about the artist on the way out, Norman Demands (yes I'm sure he does) I discovered that actually the photos are not of just mundane things. Oh no. He created those items as life-size paper models; made them as real as possible; then photographed them; then destroyed the models. How weird is that?

Stratford has not got any less dingy than the last time I was there ten or more years ago, though the shopping centre has had a facelift I think.

The Compere was : Dave Ward, supporting act: Nathan Caton. It turned out to be the same guy we'd seen at Jongleurs. He did a longer show but included the same jokes about Nigerian Parking wardens.

The star of the evening was PATRICK MONAHAN preparing his show : "DO THE RIGHT THING" before taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Prepare being the operative word here. He didn't do too badly, but I think he needs a bit more practice.

One last day to go at work before my "Gap Year", as I am calling it, begins.