Friday, April 30, 2010

Bits and Pieces: March and April Edition


The following is reminiscent of the stories I think I tell quite frequently. You may recognize similarities between this post and my reports on the day if you've had the misfortune to have hung out with me before. By that I mean that most of them are funny in context, to me, and I feel obligated to try to share them, but I know that most of them probably aren't funny to anyone except me.

*On the evening of March 9, there was a small-scale snowstorm here in Seoul. Mr. Mark Nola and I were coming back from winning two games of basketball; our train dropped us off on the wrong side of the Hae Bang Chon hill after the buses had ceased to run for the evening. It took me the better part of forty minutes to make it home in the slushy downpour. I slipped and slid all the way up the hill, to the point where Mark wondered if I had been sneaking soju shots during timeouts. We parted ways, I made it to the top of the hill, and, while passing the school on my way down, I saw a car veer off the road and into a large hair salon sign and the concrete staircase that it was hanging off. It was sweet. A crowd of people had gathered by the time I passed by, so my assistance was not needed, or at least that is what I told myself so I wouldn't feel guilty. I would have felt guilty if I had taken some pictures like I wanted to, but I couldn't muster up the audacity for that. Then, further on down, I threw a snowball at Mr. Williams door. And then we had a snow day the next day.

*A student gave a speech on why the "Twilight" series is terrible.

*One night I was making a cup of noodles and it burst into flames in my microwave.

*In Kuala Lumpur we helped out at a school; I was supposed to teach a class at 3:00. I showed up and the teacher was still going strong, so I asked this little twelve-year-old girl in the back row: "Hey, do you know what time this class will be over?" She gave me a spiteful look and said, "I don't know English!"

*A student wrote a report in which rated his book on a scale of the volumes at which certain people snored at a retreat our school recently attended.

*There was one epic day on which I received a Minnesota Twins hat and went to see the Twins play. No, no, not the same Twins I have loved and cherished since the beginning of time, but the LG Twins. They won 14-3.

*The organization that gives my school accreditation visited CCS during April. To balance out the lack of professionalism in my teaching, I tucked my shirts in all week. One student remarked, "Mr. Haggar, your geek-o-meter is at 100."

*One Saturday I was walking to Gangnam Station from the bus stop, which is generally an area that is densely populated by pedestrians. In front of me, a young man with a weird haircut, three large shopping bags, and a hasty disposition rushed through the crowd. I watched him because in his wake he left a trail of people rubbing their knees where his bags had smashed them, turning around to see who he was, and being annoyed in general with how he'd banged into them. I wished I could have followed him further, but we went different ways on the subway. I hope he is well.

*Some example sentence on a worksheet sang the praises of Keira Knightley, the not-very-secret crush of a one Mr. Jordan Williams. A student made the remark that "she is ugly," which caused most of the male students to gape in shock and/or horror. Without a second thought I told the student to go to Mr. Williams' room, despite the fact that he had a class, and speak forth his opinion to Mr. Williams himself. So the dude went. I gave him a pass. He came back and gave a red detention slip that Williams had filled out for me.

*The week of April 12-16 was Teacher Appreciation Week. Even though it was the first of the eight bleak weeks of the fourth quarter, I felt pretty awesome because of what the ten or so National Honor Society members at our school set up for us teachers throughout those five days. The blessings included, in no particular order:
-what could be referred to as either a "care package," a "goody bag," or "food for teachers who can't cook."
-a stinkin' delicious breakfast of eggs, French toast, oranges, orange juice, and other various breakfast delicacies. So good.
-a stinkin' delicious lunch of nachos and burrito material. So good.
-a stinkin' delicious snack of cake and brownies for one of the longest staff meetings yet. So good. The brownies and cake, not the meeting.
-random notes of encouragement strewn about the teacher's lounge and the building in general. My favorite was this print out of some chocolate chip cookies that was placed and remains stuck in the emergency plan folder on the wall next to the door.
-major decorations on each teacher's classroom door. Mine was awesome and my hat is off to whomever was responsible for brainstorming, printing, and taping:

Most of the notes are semi-obscure bits of minutiae from my life. I think I like the ones that say "Happy birthday to the ground" and "That ain't my dad, that's a cell phone" the most because they are the most obscure. But all of it made me smile. Thanks Yurie, Yejin, Claire, Ben, Kyeimin, Kyeihong, Sunkyu, Eugene, Yeojung, and Nicky!

*I needed to make copies of something, so I told the kiddies to write a song or something on the board while I used the printer, and they did. Studs.

*I printed off blank Facebook profiles and told a class to choose characters out of "The Joy Luck Club" and make a profile for them. One kid went a step further and created two actual accounts for Waverly Jong and Marvin Chen. Please add them; they do not have very many friends.

*Different sample sentences taken uncensored from different students' papers and assignments:

1. The name of Jordan Williams became imparted throughout the world after force feeding a group of vegetarians meat.

2. Mr. Haggar closed his eyes and pondered about the lyrics of the new "Cow Song."

3. The cereal box delivered an ultimatum that only three of the four friends could participate in the boat ride.

4. We start stuffing in food and chips in our mouths until someone barfs.

5. The boy showed off how musty he could be.

6. The Nike ID rubber wrist band that is always around my wrist which follows me to restroom, sleep, and even when I am killing someone.

7. The flank of our school is ugly!!!

8. [Student's name] wanted to have amorous experiences with girls at our school.

9. I love dogs very much; they taste good.

10. I looked at myself and said: "I'm fly."

*This was written on the top of a test:

What Your Problem Is:
How You Will Solve Said Problem:

This was my favorite response:

What Your Problem Is: Charlie Kim
How You Will Solve Said Problem: Stephen Park

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bag 'em and Tag 'em, Pt. 4

The following account details experiences that, though due in no part at all to my own efforts, I believe to be possible only in the country I am currently in. Sort of. Sort of. Sort of. In some of the details.

Also, a lot of this is just going to be pictures of archaic Korean temples and palaces, so if that is something that you have no interest in, don't read this blog today.

(1) Seoul Tower

Nothing says "Welcome to Seoul, dude!" like a trip up Namsan to the peak of the North Seoul Tower. The last time I was up there and blogged about it was under the cover of darkness; however, when our dear friend Holly arrived in the R.O.K., it was decided that she was to be hazed by a trip up the hillside by Tony, Pete, Kelly, and I. Count it.

There are probably going to be about a million boring freakin' pictures in this post, so I will spare you an overwhelming amount right off the bat here, even though they are probably the most visually enticing. I do have a grim love of heighty views, so I can't completely refrain from providing the option of some of the appearances, aspects, contours, glimpses, looks, panoramas, prospects, and scenes that we encountered up there, though.

And then there's these, which I will force on you. Pete and I:

The descent:

Favorite: all around the top of the tower are the names of major cities around the world and their approximate distance from the tower itself. Thus, here are two Iowa ex-pats trying hard to be accepted in a world that refuses to acknowledge the Hawkeye state:

(2) Gyeongbok Palace

On some fatefully warm day in early March, a host of us paraded into the vast palace complex of Gyeongbokgung, which is basically due north a couple miles of where I live. The host consisted exclusively of Bethel University graduates: Pete, Kelly, Jordan, Holly, Dawna, and myself. The area we meant to cover was vast enough so that we all got split up many a time; so many times, in fact, that we were unable to rendezvous with another Bethel grad, Tony, until darkness was nigh. The largeness of the land mass to be seen took dang near the entire afternoon. There was much to see, including huge ponds, haechi here and there, immovable objects, the innards of old-school Korean housing establishments, and the folk museum that Jordan, Mark, and I tried to go see over the Lunar New Year. We didn't go to it on this day, but it felt better knowing that the option was there.

A large-scale traditional march:

A shot from the inside...old Seoul and new:

A lake house:

A pond that was occupied with many enormous fish.

Pete and I both on cell phones. In the background is the Blue House, which is where the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak resides. We didn't get to see him; usually visitors do, but we think he was put off by how rudely we were with our hand phones:


Here Pete is doing a tradition dance (called "The Whirligig") in the middle of one of the buildings; this is also considered very disrespectful, which is the third strike against Pete in this post so far, if I'm not mistaken:

Holly taking refuge in a heating vent beneath one of the homes in the palace:

Thar she blows...the main event:

(3) Changgyeonggung

A few short weeks ago fellow CCS English teacher Mr. Jordan Williams and I struck out to investigate the Changgyeonggung palace extravaganza, which is east of Gyeongbokgung by a mile or so. It was a lot more chill there; not quite as expansive, not quite as congested. And maybe we were just in less of a hurry, but it seemed like there was a lot more historical information available at this site, as opposed to the latter. Who lived where, which ceremonies were conducted for the dead here, and so on and so forth.

Me within the first gate. Cherry blossoms, how I love thee:

The second huge gate. Jordan is that celebrating foo' in the middle. We forgot our stroller there on the left:

Ancient architecture! Bask in it:

We live under that tower in the distance:

Gross-looking pond. Maybe it will get better later in the year:

This is the Moby Dick of the trees in the palace that we visited that day. And Jordan was definitely the Captain Ahab of the trip, in that he could not stay away from the tree, either verbally or spatially. Seriously:

I took this while Jordan was being accosted by some woman who had become separated from the only person she came with:

Across the street from the Changgyeonggung is another complex called Jongmyo. What this means I know not, but after crossing said street via skywalk (ha), we could snoop around there a little bit. Here Jordan has just completed a triple axel in front of this building:

Lastly, behold this wicked tree we saw. I couldn't help but be reminded of a certain album cover from The Devil Wears Prada upon viewing it. You can be the final judge:

And if you think that that is the first time that I've compared a touristy picture to the cover of an album from The Devil Wears Prada, you'd be wrong wrong wrong.

(4) Doosan Bears vs. Lotte Giants

Your first and obvious reaction will likely be: who? Two baseball teams. From Korea. Duh. Brief contextual spiel: they both belong to the Korean Baseball Organization, in which there are eight teams. I went to some Woori Heroes games last spring because they play in a stadium quite close to where I used to work. But, alas, it seems they've been bought out and are now called the NEXEN Heroes. And this just as I started doing my bank business at the their sponsor, Woori Bank (literally translated: "We'll Knock Your Teeth into the Back of Your Throat Bank").

Your second and obvious reaction will likely be: can't you go to baseball games in many different places around the globe? What was so unique about this game that you had to make the claim that the experience could only be had in Korea? To which I would answer the following:

1 - Since there are multiple teams in Seoul, they share stadiums; thus, half of the stadium was Lotte fans, and the other half was for Doosan. It was split right in half. We sat with the Lotte fans and, consequently, cheered for the Giants.

2 - There were cheerleaders*, both of the variety that are cute and scantily clad and of the variety that lead organized, stadium-wide cheers. The Lotte cheerleaders didn't lead as many awesome cheers as Doosan's did.

3 - Drew Gernand, another Bethel graduate, was there, which, because he lives in Thailand, couldn't happen just anywhere!

4 - Fans can bring in anything they want (including brooms, unlike at the Metrodome); thus, we brought in many a beverage and many a can o' Pringles.

5 - Whoever does Lotte's marketing decided that it'd be a sweet plan to pass out orange plastic bags with the team's name and logo on them and see what the fans would do with them. It worked; I still have mine.

6 - Pete was there; he lives in Ilsan, South Korea.

7 - Kelly was there; she lives in Ilsan, South Korea.

8 - Holly was there; she lives in eastern Seoul, South Korea.

9 - (Like, the ninth inning...) Erik Johnson was there in full force, which is a treat regardless of the country you find yourself in.

The Lotte Giants lost the game 4-2. It was close; they put runners on in the eight and ninth but could not capitalize. We cheered a lot but we don't think they understood most of what we yelled, so it didn't help.

All in all, it was a good time; it wet my tongue for outdoor baseball in Minnesota, an experience that I look forward to with inordinate relish. But, wherever the baseball gets played, I generally enjoy myself. I imagine that we'll attend more games in the future.

*Though I stole fewer pictures than usual for this post, I didn't want to steal this one, which can be found at Erik's blog, which, in addition to being far less exhaustive and long, is seven or eight times cooler than this one here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Head (South) West, Young Man

Mr. Haggar, after getting declined by fourteen or fifteen other trip goers, some of them half my age, I am overjoyed that you've finally complied to discuss your recent mission trip to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with me.

Let's make this quick.

Yes, um, alright. Who else was in your group?

There were between six and seven teachers, depending on who and when you asked. Mr. Jordan Williams, Ms. Joonam In, Ms. Caleen Gordon, Mrs. Jen Dyck, myself, and our absolutely fearless leader, Mr. Govender. There were also twelve CCS students, ranging from domesticated to straight up unruly. We left from our school at 1:30 p.m. or so, from Korea at 4:50 p.m. The flight was uneventful. I sat next to an old Chinese man. We did not speak.

Oh. What a shame. I'm sure he had a lot of interesting things to say, if only you'd alleviate your Western ignorance and learn some of the languages over here. What happened after you parted ways with him?

Our flight, KE 671, touched down at 11 p.m. Clad in our obnoxiously green t-shirts, we scampered off the plane into the humid darkness of Kuala Lumpur International Airport and onto a bus bound for Sentul in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. We arrived at our destination forty-five minutes later, descended upon our sleeping room like a herd of tenth grade girls at a Lee Seung Gi autograph session, and quickly fell into the deepest of slumbers.

I'm sure you did, I'm sure you did. Were you worried about starting off the week with so little sleep?

I hadn't slept in weeks. It didn't matter.

Mmm, mmm, right. So where was this place that you were staying?

The place which you so eloquently refer to is called the Harvest Centre. That's "c-e-n-t-r-e," not "c-e-n-t-e-r." It basically a school for those who are less financially-equipped. Many of them are refugees from neighboring countries. Many of them don't have passports. Many of them like Michael Jackson and can dance just as well as he could, if not better. There are 650 students there. They have two buildings: a primary school, the dorms of which the CCS females slept, and the upper school, which is where the CCS dudes slept.

How did your group like that?

It was sweet, although many of the guys struggled with the fact that their showering options were either a hose or a bucket.

Did you struggle?

Do I shower?

I hadn't thought of it that way.

Actually, I did shower most of the days, because it was a million degrees there almost all the time. It rained each day, which was nice, and the upper school had some air con action goin' on, but if you left either of the buildings, you had to bathe.

Well, thank the Lord. That next day must have been Sunday, right? Palm Sunday? How did you observe that happy day?

We participated in a three-hour church service. We handed out invitations to the Good Friday service that we were to lead on...Friday. We took little naps.

Very good, very good. And then the next day you launched into your work week?

Ah, you assume too much. The school doesn't have classes on Mondays, so our crew was divided into a painting crew and a material-making crew. I was on the latter, God be praised. We material constructors only had to deal with this little kid who threw hard plastic dinosaur toys at us as hard as he could. Those on the former endured such hardships as getting stuck in defunct elevators and sweating enough fluid to baptize a woman the size of your mom.

Fat chance of that happening. So then classes started on Tuesday?


Did you get to teach? Did you have them read "The Raven"? Or identify subordinate clauses? Or write one-page essays about controversial items?

Not really. It was a week of testing there. So Jordan and I, who were the only two who got to work in the upper school, proctored a lot of exams. Which maybe didn't utilize that which we'd spent much of our adult lives being trained in. But it was easy. I read a lot.

So you never got to teach?

When it came time for us to teach, we were many times told, "You can play games with them." So I played many, many rounds of trashball, and I threw in some hot seat and hang man and that writing activity where you start a story and then pass your paper around and finish others' tales. They seemed to take well to it. I made each team bow to each other afterward, like they do in Korea.

So you never taught.

I taught two lessons of reading comprehension from the book and one math review. Percentages, son. Get to know 'em.

Were the high school kids cool?

They reminded me of the kids I teach at CCS, so: yes. I was nervous about who they'd be and if they'd respond well to me, but they were really open. And all throughout the eleven hundred tests I had to administer, I didn't have to tell a single kid to stop cheating. Holla.

What about the little kids? How did they treat you?

Mmm. They called me "Mr. Bean" the entire week and used me for "The Moose Song." Seriously, no one in that place knows my real name. To them I am just a dancer.

To me you're just a dancer, too. What were your hours like?

We got up at the butt crack of dawn, 5:30. Breakfast at 6:30 a.m., although we didn't make it there on time a single day. School started at 7:30, lunch at noon, classes until 5. Then we ate and debriefed and had devotions and practiced ourselves up for the Good Friday service.

Ah, the Good Friday service. How often I have dreamed of leading a Good Friday service! But. Tell me about it!

Some of the more musically-inclined from our group sang some songs, mostly tunes that were in minor keys and had to do with the cross. The kids did a skit that I'd done at YouthWorks! Mr. Govender preached. We had a mosh pit.

Sounds like a lovely time! Any other noteworthy events?

Duh. We had hot dogs and banana pancakes for breakfast. There was a beat boxing rap battle that went down one night. Jordan made me come with him to give some food to a homeless dude he kept seeing.

Really? He sounds like a good person.

He is. Far better than I am. He also started dating someone on the trip, which caused quite a hullabaloo.

Nice! He is better than you!

Also, we weren't allowed to purchase snacks of any sort, so many of the students with intense Diet Coke addictions struggled mightily. Also, we had a short jam session one night. Also, a kid painted his name on the wall in four-foot high letters.

Good to know, good to know. Did you learn much about Malaysia? I suspect that you went in knowing nothing, as usual.

That's true. Perhaps you are wiser than your wardrobe suggests. Malaysia is about 70% Muslim. Citizens have to practice the Islamic religion. So we couldn't evangelize to them. Anyone else can practice whatever they want. So we could evangelize to them. Um. Vehicles drive on the left side of the road. People point with their thumbs not their index fingers. The main form of currency is the ringgit. It's a second-world country. They have the second-oldest jungle in the world, behind Brazil. There are many Chinese and Indian folks there. The language is Malay. It might also be called Bahasa. Not sure.

Sehr gut. Did you learn anything else? What other meaningful things occurred?

Mmm. The leader of our group, Mr. Govender, told us he'd be really strict about stuff all week and that we were there to work, so I was scared that it would be a somber week, but he demonstrated excellent leadership. Lots of joking around and sweet spiritual guidance. And sick bass playing.

You'd think he'd have been stressed out on such a trip, yes?

I did think that, but he was the most relaxed I'd ever seen him. Mad props.

What else?

As is typical on many a mission trip, the kiddies and I both made a note that the people we interacted with were much happier with the little they had than we are with the wealth that we have. I won't expand on this point.

What else?

Some of the students in our group tried my patience. Not that I am an inordinately patient person, and not that I have been extremely patient at other points this year, but I was sort of disappointed that I let certain things bother me as much as they did. I am not sure why, but this seems like the thing I really took away from the trip: I need to be more patient.

Finally you realized it...we've all been waiting for quite some time! What else?

Kids are funny and I see God in them.

Fabulous, fabulous. So did you take any pictures?

I did, but not during the work week. All my photography came on our touristy Saturday excursion.

Ah! Do tell!

After tearfully pulling away from all whom we'd worked with all week (and a mouth-watering, stomach-bloating breakfast), we took all day to hit up...

...the Petronas Towers. We failed to score tickets to go up to the walk way in between the two towers. We only spent twenty or so minutes there. These beasts used to be the tallest structures in the world. And I guess the towers also go by the title of Kuala Lumpur City Centre, which encompasses a bit more than simply the towers themselves. Who knows.

...some chocolate-selling venue that was supposed to be a tourist trap. I didn't bite. We spent more time there than at the towers. Go figure.

...a location creatively entitled the National Monument. Again, we cruised through, so I wasn't able to spend much time figuring out what exactly this memorial commemorated, but the fierce thirst to see as much as possible drove us on, and we did not linger.

...a heavily-guarded structure called Istana Negara, which, when translated literally, means "Doggfather" and is where the Malaysian head of state (Yang di-Pertuan Agong)(which, when literally translated, means "Drop It Like It's Hot") lives.

...Independence Square. We were here for about ten minutes. I don't think many people enjoyed it that much, but some of us more adventurous folk got out and took our shoes off and walked across the grass barefoot. Count it.

...a bunch of markets. All I bought was a small bell for Mr. Mark Nola.

...a giant mall. I do not know what it was called, and, honestly, I don't care that much. I started out in a group of five other teachers and, through a series of unfortunate events, became estranged from them all. This is the only picture I took there; it really captures some key cultural differences between Malaysia and [insert any country's name here](and I'm not talking about Ms. In):

...the Putra Mosque (translation: "The Next Episode"). I always feel weird going to visit religious sites just to look, because I think, "What if someone came to pose for pictures in front of First Reformed Church in Rock Rapids? Would I be offended?" But then I realize that I wouldn't be. Anyway. I was surprised that we were even let in; we had crosses on our obnoxiously-lime shirts. Who knows. As people who were also wearing shorts, we had to wear blue gowns. If that was all it took to gain access, sign me up. For anything.

Also present was the Perdana Putra ("Gin and Juice"), which is where the Prime Minister resides.

The mosque was the last stop before the airport. And the spot where my memory card reached capacity.

Thank the Lord, I'd had about enough of your American tourism spiel. Wasn't this supposed to be a mission trip?


Well. Anyway. After this binge in worldliness, I hope you spent your Easter worshiping?

My Easter looked like this: our flight back to Incheon was from 11:45 p.m. to 6:40 a.m. I spent most of it reading "Frankenstein" for class on Monday. Then we took an airport bus* back to Yongsan. I showered but didn't shave and then attended an Easter service in sweatpants and a bright green t-shirt. After a delicious Easter lunch (yes, Mom, I was taken care of), I went to a coffee shop and graded over forty papers for the rest of the day.

Wow. You are really lame. It does not surprise me a bit that you are really single.


Well, this has been quite enlightening. And ironic, because who gets interviewed about a mission trip? Anyway, thanks for taking the time to reveal the truth about that week of yours in Malaysia, Mr. Haggar.


Also, you're a sick and cruel fiend for stealing photos off Facebook from your students.

They'll never know.

*On this bus ride, there were about ten people total on this big coach bus. The three CCSers (Jordan, Caleen, me) were sort of sleeping when suddenly the driver announces the next stop. We all woke up and burst out laughing because the echo was turned up all the way on his microphone and he sounded like he was cheesily announcing the stop from Jupiter. Then there was a dude who was sleeping in front of me who made a disgusting throat-clearing noise; Jordan thought it was me and started laughing really loud and making fun. Very embarrassing. Now you know.

Monday, April 5, 2010

We're Gonna Win, Twins, We're Gonna Score

This is a picture of the upper right-hand corner of the white board in room 607 at Centennial Christian School in Yongsan, in Seoul, in South Korea. The corner has looked like this for over 120 days. No one has paid it much attention. Most who viewed the white board were more concerned with the number of days until the letter essay was due, or with how many days of school were left. Some were even concerned with how many push-ups they'd have to do if they called me by the name of another teacher instead of by my own, which happens surprisingly often. But. No one has paid much attention to the "DAYS UNTIL THE FIRST 2010 TWINS GAME" countdown.

Until now.

I won't lie; I haven't been thinking that much about it myself. There are a lot of other things on my mind right now (like, sleep), but as I packed up tonight and got ready to come home from school, I realized several things:

a) The Twins won the division last year.

b) The Twins picked up some big studs in the off-season: Jim Thome, who, despite playing for multiple other AL Central rivals, is one of my favorite non-Twins players; J.J. Hardy, who, despite playing for a Wisconsin team for several years, has a horrifying inclination toward hitting home runs; Orlando Cabrera, whom, despite winning Gold Glove Awards in both the American and National Leagues, I know little to nothing about. Yes, we may have lost Joe Nathan (boo), Boof Bonser* (boo), Mike Redmond (boo), and Carlos Gomez (yay), but people step up. They always do.

c) The Twins have the reigning AL MVP swinging and catching for them.

d) They've also got dudes who hit 32, 30, and 28 home runs each last year. That's power, people. Power.

e) There is an individual who lives within walking distance of my home who has recently visited the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and has purchased a new Twins hat for me. I am excited to wear it proudly in this land where it is considered much cooler to sport Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Tigers hats.

f) I have a long history of being obnoxious about the Twins, even if no one else in a twelve-mile radius gives a hoot about them.

g) I also have a long history of celebrating the Twins Opening Day in some way, shape, or form, dating back to fourth grade with my father.

h) There is a sweet Question of the Day ready to go for tomorrow/today.** There is a substantial reward for whoever can guess it correctly.

i) Even such baseball experts as Nasty Nate have picked the Twins to do well.

j) The Twins' new stadium is fully operational! Good-bye, Metrodome, and consistent temperatures and home field advantage. Hello, Target Field, and truly Minnesotan blizzards and inflated ticket prices.

These are just a few of the factors that have got me excited for tomorrow, the day after, and, indeed, the next six months. One of my top priorities for the summer of 2010 is to get to Target Field at any cost. And be very loud. Call me.

Anyway: good luck, fellas! I am rootin' for you, as are countless other Twins fans.

*I once sat close enough to the Twins bullpen to talk to Boof, and, wisely, the question I chose to ask him was, "If you could hit any player in the American League with a pitch, who would it be?" He gave me a pathetic look and told me that he wouldn't ever throw at anyone, which is an upstanding statement to make. I felt pretty stupid for asking that.

**The only annoying thing about this all has been trying to celebrate Opening Day, which is April 5, 2010, when that initial game against the Angels will be played on April 6, 2010, where I and those who I have in captivity are living.