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July 16th, 2006

crazy arcade

It's been three weeks now since I went to see the Ku family during my stay in Olympia. They always seem much happier to hear from me or have me visit than my own parents. I called two days before leaving the university while Jeong Ah and Kyo Wook were asleep, but Mrs. Ku - who still sounds uncomfortable talking over the phone - made a request that I stop by their house that weekend.

The Peugeot remains out of commission in my parents' driveway which meant I was stuck taking the bus across town in the blistering heat (36°C). Kyo Wook had told me to come at five o'clock for dinner, and as I didn't want to be late I showed up an hour early and sat outside on a bench waiting for the time to pass. The Ku family had been at a church picnic for most of the day and Mrs. Ku prepared fresh strawberry drinks for us to cool down from having spent so much time outdoors.

While our crabs were cooking in the kitchen Jung Ah set up her notebook computer in their mother's room so we could play Crazy Arcade with Kyo Wook. Crazy Arcade is an online game from Korea that pits teams of up to four players against one another in a water balloon fight over a variety of maps. The object of the game is to lay a trap of water balloons in such a way that they explode and capture your opponents in a bubble that you can pop for a 'kill' - assuming their team mates don't come and rescue them first. « screen shot » (the text is a later edit and not part of the actual game - I couldn't find any other caps showing a balloon exploding besides this one) At one point Mrs. Ku came in to see how we were doing and asked if I knew how to play - which caused her kids to start laughing since I was the only person left from our team when she asked.

The crab finished cooking soon after that and we had crab, kimchi, rice, and spinach for dinner. I'd never been served a whole crab before and made a mess out of cracking open the shell - plus, I never realized their gills were so large. Once we had finished the body meat Mrs. Ku told me that it was common in Suwon to add rice and a little salt in the cavity to soak up the juices. While not something I would have thought up on my own I'm glad I tried it, as the mixture tastes quite delicious.

I stayed for another two hours after dinner talking to Jung Ah and Kyo Wook as we all crowded around the single fan in Mrs. Ku's room. I found out that Jung Ah finally introduced her boyfriend and mom during her family's trip home over the winter break. He's nine years older than she is and I'm a little curious what Mrs. Ku thinks of the relationship - but not so much that I'm going to ask her myself. Visiting the Ku family is the best part about returning to Olympia; it's a shame I can't see them more often.

doctors and fútbol

Last Wednesday one of the doctors from the vet hospital (DVM for short) was asking around to see if anyone had recorded the final of the World Cup as he had been out of town and missed the game. I offered to make him a copy once my aunt sends the second batch of DVDs to me, and after talking for a bit Dr. Mordechai invited me out to play a pick-up game with a few of the other doctors the following day.

Eighteen people showed up that evening (although Dr. Sanz from Argentina was not one of the clinicians in attendance) and we played for 2½ hours until night started to fall. It's been close to four years since I last played football for any length of time, and even with that my past experience has been out in parking lots with tiny nets or shopping carts for goals. Playing on a grass field is a little different, and it wasn't until the end of the game that I started to feel confident in my ability. I hung out in defensive midfield for most of the game and helped my side to a 3:2 advantage. As the sun sank toward the horizon it was decided that a golden goal would determine the winner, and less than thirty seconds later the other side scored. To the victors go the spoils, and our punishment was 30 'burpies' for conceding first.

We played again on Saturday and my first touch took the ball away from a player preparing to shoot on goal - unfortunately, my second sent the ball to his team mate who promptly scored. From now on I'm going to show up on time to games so I always know who is on my team and who isn't. Playing without my glasses also doesn't do much to help. I was only 15 minutes late but that goal made the score 1:2 in the other side's favor. Most of my time was spent on the left wing, and at one point I dribbled around three defenders before setting up an assist to Dr. Mordechai - but most of the time the guys on my team will call for the ball before I've even taken two steps. Meanwhile, the girls playing will usually yell out openings rather than demanding anyone pass to them.

I almost got on the score sheet with a shot that curled around my marker toward the upper left corner of the goal, but the goalkeeper managed to push the ball away with his fingertips for a corner. Maybe next week I'll have better luck. We came back from a goal down to win, 6:4. My legs still feel sore a day later though.