Life in the ROK

West goes East: The lives and adventures of a Californian couple living in Seoul

Monday, December 31, 2007

I had just reset to Korea time after returning from Cali then worked New Year's Eve in the ER. It wasn't busy but it was a crazy little night.

At about 10, a cab drove up and hastily pushed out a choking itching frantic girl. OK, 32 year-old woman. She was having an anaphylactic reaction after eating chocolate with little walnut pieces, which she's allergic to but didn't know about. She was in shock and freaking out until we jabbed the Epipen into her thigh, followed by the usual cocktail of steroids, etc. It was pretty impressive but thankfully easy to manage. Basically we gave the Heisman to Grim, saved her life and sent her to the ICU for obs the rest of the night.

Then around 3 am the victims of a gang fight started trickling in. Right, gangs in the military. At least we suspected as much.

The first guy, drunk of course, had a star-shaped laceration at his right temple that had severed the temporal artery. We discovered this when we peeled back the bandage and bright red blood squirted onto the wall 3 feet away! Homeboy said he'd tried to stop a fight at a bar. Right. We put the bandage back and called the surgeon to come in to do the vascular repair. We also found some brass knuckles in HB's pockets when we were looking for ID, which I kept for a minute.

An hour later Shady Character #2 showed up with a large laceration that peeled back and revealed about 5 square inches of right biceps muscle. SC2 was friends with Temple Lac Boy and I asked the surgeon to see him too since he was still there. The surgeon came back after the exam and told me the wound extended under the skin all the way to the delt and he suspected the patient had probably been stabbed while punching something. At that, I called the MPs to come have a chat with my patients and see what was up. I gave them the brass knuckles from homeboy uno, of which they were duly impressed.

Then another guy, friends with the first two, showed up with a dislocated shoulder. Then #4, with a 4 inch medium depth lac to the right forearm. Then #5, with a beat up face. All buddies. Then 0700 and my shift was over. I'm used to stuff like that from LA County but not at the US Army Hospital-Korea.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Today I went riding in conditions that The Weather Channel described as, "-6 C, feels like -11 C." It took me a good half hour to put on three layers each on my feet, legs, trunk, hands, and head. There may be a photo essay in the works on getting dressed to ride bikes in Korean winters. I could only stand one-and-a-half hours.
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

A gratuitous baby Christmas shot of my niece Chloe, Steve and Brooke's second daughter. Last week she could only crawl backwards and kept getting stuck under the couch and the Christmas tree.
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Christmas at the Original Bakers in Escondido. Along with my parents, we enjoyed it with my siblings Katie, Steve, and Christy, with their respective spouses Alan, Brooke, and James, and their children David, Ethan, Sienna, and Chloe. A packed house full of little kids.
David and Ethan get ready to fight over what really excites them... the telephone.

David and Ethan express their gratitude for their Chinese outfits from Uncle Jay and Aunt Colleen.

Here are all the little kids getting excited about... dishes! Sienna thought this was the best present ever. So did Ethan and David. Brooke's excited too.
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One of our 9 parties in 7 days was the Baby BBQ. Kind of like a shower, but more manly since it was coed. Showers are for girls.

Colleen's family is great. They always pitch in and work together for big family things like this. Here's Tyler getting the barby ready for his famous jalapeno burgers. Always delicious!
Thanks Mary Jane!
Elisa cuts the cheese. Mike and the pickles.
Scott made some delicious bruschetta. Me, looking stern, making sure nobody confuses this for a shower.
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Some of the partygoers. Megan, who married us. And Princess Leia, Colleen's bestfriend from preschool.

Opening the many gifts. Everyone was so generous. Thank you! Max will be a well dressed baby for real.

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The wellsprings of creativity were tapped and drawn from deeply. Here are manly men expressing strength and self reliance. It's almost like you could close your eyes and see them wrestling wolves and going back to their teepees with fresh kill. Except that they are painting burping clothes and bibs.
Hiromi the gatherer. She gathered BabyCenter gifts for Colleen and Max. Thanks Hiromi!

A harvest of custom bibs and burping clothes. Thanks everyone!

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Ann has had a great job at the Griffith Observatory for a few years now. We went up to see the winter solstice on 21 DEC and watched the great planetarium show as well. Highly recommended for your next trip to LA, or if you live there to get up there and see it ASAP. It is fantastic!

Here is the setting sun on the shortest day of the year. On clear days, any clear day, reportedly there is a "green flash". We didn't see it this day. By the way, solstice means "sun standing still" or something. The Ancients observed that around this time, it appeared that the sun didn't move any farther south for about a week or more, then started moving north again. Up until the summer solstice.
The setting sun revealed my dual nature. Half shadowy, half golden.

We see you Tyler! And downtown LA.
Meeting minds. And fingertips.
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Maybe Mary Jane's last Christmas party on Palm Street. Boo hoo. But we saw some good friends.
And had a great time singing some Christmas Carols. Can you guess this one?
Jay likes (pregnant) ladies dancing.
Thanks everyone for coming to the party. Extra props to John and Teresa for coming all the way from Santa Barbara. Yay!
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Sunday, December 09, 2007

This weekend we had the annual Baker Cookie Exchange and Cocktail Party. This is the 2nd year we have had this party and plan to do it every year. It is a lot of fun and who doesn't love a cookie party? Here I am posing with the Christmas tree Jay made out of blinking lights on our air conditioner cover, or dress as I like to call it.

Ooops we were too busy entertaining, drinking Jay's homemade eggnog, Colleen's famous cider, and eating cookies we forgot to take any pictures during the party but we managed to get one of our friends Doug, Jodi, and DJ as they were leaving in their Christmas hats sent to them from Miami!!! DJ acted as our door man this year and did an excellent job. Thanks DJ:)
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We recently went on the "Tour of Homes" with our friends Eric and Mandy. The tour includes Generals, Colonels, Command SGMs, and other houses on base. Many we very impressively decorated for the holidays and some a bit over the top as I am sure can be imagined. Here we are posing with a Santa dressed in his BDU's (Battle Dress Uniform.)
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Friday, December 07, 2007

We went shopping last night at an underground mall in Seoul. It was freezing cold outside but tropical sweaty hot inside. There is a crazy little Christmas section so we thought to sneak in the weekly prego photo. A little fuzzy because the camera couldn't decide what to focus on. That's how we felt too.
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's getting cold around here for cycling. Here are brave souls bundled up and out riding despite sub 40s temperature this AM. The group is mostly US military but included an Aussie English teacher and a Canuck elevator engineer today. Eric Reid on the bike path under the freeway next to the Han River. It's amazing how well Seoul uses the riverine space to provide for all kinds of critical needs.
Miles Barnes dogging it up a long climb an hour out of the city. It's great out in the country, usually about an hour. We rode to Namhansanseong, a 1500-year old fortress area that is now a beautiful little regional park. Because of its high walls, it's sometimes called the Great Wall of Korea.
Jason Williams, one of my emergency nurses, on his sweet new ride. First time out on the S-works. Think he likes it?
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Had to throw this in there from Scott and Elisa's visit last week. I won the crab fight.
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Last night we went to the 18th MEDCOM Christmas Ball. It may be the last ball we go to in the Army so we thought we would get all the duds on once more. Amazingly, Colleen still fit into her party dress that she wore to the prior two balls we attended. Good thing the ball was last night... maybe she wouldn't fit next week.
In front of the lovely phoenix ice sculpture. Or maybe an eagle. Below, the crew from the Emergency Department: The Chief, SSG Alexander (my NCOIC--NCO in charge), SPC Charlton, PFC Neubauer, and finishing on the right, my star Katusas CPL Oh and CPL Kong. SSG (E-6) and below didn't have to wear uniform to the ball; SFC (E-7) and above did.
PFC Neubauer and CPL Kong were just promoted that day. Congratulations! That's an extra stripe, extra pay, and an open door to greater responsibility and success. Katusa is an acronym for Korean Augmentee to the US Army. Katusas have been serving with us since the Korean War. They are chosen for, one, their English skills and are generally very smart and capable. My Katusas, including CPL Jung who was working, are the best the in hospital. They are doing their two years military service, which every South Korean man must do by law. We all had a swell time. If I were Chief next year too, I would promote the ball better to my staff and bring a larger crew to wreck it up.
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