GDC 09: TimeDoctor Wins Resistance Retribution!

muniThanks to Sony for hosting the excellent Playstation Blog meetup at GDC 2009!

The evening started out with a journey via the strange public transportation system known only to denizens of San Francisco’s knowledge underground as “The Muni“!

After many stops and about 45 minutes worth of insane ramblings from the drunken creatures who inhabit this above-ground septic system our “N-Line” “train” moved underground.

Some time later I was able to find an exit from this disturbing cacophony of subterranean lost souls onto Montgomery Street in downtown SF whereupon I journed into the hipster grotto of the W Hotel.

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Espresso Steak

Espresso Steak As Depicted in the Menu
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Previously, I mentioned the Outback Steakhouse Coffee Steak

Today, I was the sampler of said Steak.

It was not terrible. I’d include pictures of said coffee steak but unfortunately my iPhone has decided that it isn’t serving pictures to iPhoto anymore. What a shame. In any case, the steak itself was just a normal rib-eye with perhaps the most subtle of coffee flavor to it. (edit, pictures added after figuring out how to deal with an insane iphone)

Actually it was labeled an “Espresso” steak, which I think had more to do with the amount of coffee flavor rather than the actual coffee type.

Actually it allows me to talk about service and food in Korea in general. Which is above-average, at least in Seoul.

Espresso Steak in the Cow-Flesh
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Okay so the Pros of eating here:

  • Fantastic service:
    At least in the city, you’ll have no problems with getting good service. While I’ve had to wait for crowds to get seated, I’ve never had to wait for a lazy waiter to serve me. This goes double for the quality of food. Which brings me to my next point.
  • Great food quality:
    I haven’t once gotten sick here due to the food quality. Not only is the food including the outback steak (fine imported meat), but the veggies are fresh and everything is as unprocessed as possible. It is also amusing to see imported American goods tagged with nutrition fact stickers in Korean.
  • Excellent Cleanliness:
    Whenever you go out to eat you will be handed a wrapped & sanitary wetnap for your protection. If you wash your hands before eating you’ll be exposed to many fewer germs since they often travel from hand-to-mouth. Every place I’ve eaten has had a clean kitchen, clean eating utensils, plates, and food.
  • No Tipping!:
    People here are paid what they’re paid, you do not tip them unless it is a particular skilled service like a haircut (mine cost $10 and is better than any I’ve ever gotten in the US). So all of you people who value price over quality have no excuse!
  • Reasonable portion sizes:
    I’ve lost weight while here and that isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve been drinking and eating out nearly every day but everything I eat here is of a reasonable size and value while retaining the highest quality and service.
  • Few Dairy Problems:
    I can’t eat dairy and there is a good probability that you or someone you know can’t, either. Like most Asian countries Korea doesn’t serve Dairy products with most of its food. Though I must admit that Baskin Robbins is a huge chain here. I see them everywhere.
  • Chicken:
    Do you like Fried and/or Marinated Chicken? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Every block has a beer & fried chicken place. Congratulations, you’re at home


  • Relatively high meat prices:
    While yes, my steak was of a high quality, since there is little-to-no beef production in Korea it had to be imported from Australia and cost me nearly $30 USD after conversion!
  • Scary food! OH NOSE!!!!1111:
    If you’re an east-coast suburbanite fraidy cat you will definitely lose weight here against your will. The food is oftentimes difficult for folks who aren’t willing to try new things. Keep an open mind and you’ll be fine. Though I had to skip the octopus since I still can’t handle eating anything that had tentacles. Oh well, maybe I’ll get used to it some day.
  • All Korean Nutrition Labels if there are any at all:
    If you do have some kind of weird allergy you’re basically screwed. You won’t know what is in any food unless it is imported from America and you’re already familiar. Your best bet is to check out a Korean phrasebook for “I’ll die if I eat…” and memorize that list.
  • No Grocery Stores:
    Here in Seoul, at least, I can’t find a damn grocery store. Even if I wanted to make just a sandwich, I’d have a difficult time finding peanut butter and/or jelly. It might be due to the area I’m in, which is more of a business-y area than a normal residential area.

Overall the pros clearly outweigh the cons for me, so if I’m ever in a position to come back and for some crazy reason food is a factor, it wouldn’t take long to say yes!

Mmm, as unprocessed as you can get food!
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Tales from the Korean Apartment/Hotel-like Crypt: Week 2: Steak and Coffee, new Coffee Steak!: More Television than your body has room for.

There is an ad on TV for Korean outback steakhouse right now. The ad consists of a woman accidentally pouring coffee on her steak when a guy walks past. Then cuts to both of them enjoying some fine coffee-coated accident-steak. Finally they cut to the punchline: Yes, really. You can now order coffee-steak at Korean version of outback steakhouse.

Normal TV here consists of the following channels in my hotel:

  • Channel 26: The Game Show Channel.

This channel plays nothing but completely incompressible reality or game show fare. This is simultaneously the most immediately appealing channel to watch and later, the least.

One morning Channel 26 had a game/reality show on where the objectives all involved either sports in the dirt at some construction site with a digger in the background. Or, attempting to knock dirt off of a table without knocking down the lightsaber toy in the middle. Kind of like a hobo’s version of Jenga. Though I doubt the hobo would have batteries or a lightsaber toy. If anyone on this list knows a hobo, please let me know how they play Jenga.

Presumably only higher-order species play Jenga, like gorillas, dolphins, whales and humans. Real hobos may be excluded from it.

Otherwise, this channel plays the standard incomprehensible, but more normal, in-studio game shows. The other day one had contestants sitting a chair, getting quizzed by the host, placing a strange black pillow over their faces, and then giving the answer to the initial question. Everyone in the studio audience claps, and is happy. I am, however, bored with this channel now and ready to switch to…

  • Channel 17: The Korean Historical-Drama Channel

This channel is probably the most interesting just because I keep thinking there might be something to learn from it, but, no, there really isn’t anything of substance. Just Korean dudes in funny hats fighting and getting angry at their local park every ten minutes. I can only assume that this is really the Korean live-action equivalent of Dragon Ball Z due to the regularity in the script of both fighting and grunting. I assume this channel is popular because it actually has decent production values and is the only channel on which I’ve seen computer generated graphics. Outside of subtitled American films on…

  • Channel 22: The American Action Film/NCIS/Law and Order Channel

Ah, blessed sanity for the weary traveler. When I get home from work, this is the channel I tune to. The LCD television may be 17 hectares diagonal at best count. It may only display 480i. The shows may all have weird hieroglyphics at the bottom of the screen. But this is the only real channel for English-speaking, god fearing, real Americans. Whenever I watch this channel I can’t help but feel home-sick for SUVs (they have jeep ads during every commercial break)


Please note that the title of the previous post was a reference to Parappa the Rappa, not suggesting that genocide is an actual option while you are experiencing culture shock.

In the rain or in the snow, Koreans have really gotta go

The one in which TimeDoctor travels to work on the subway in Korea, and is amused.

Check out those arrowsTraveling to work has been pretty consistent, take the subway three stops, transfer, three more stops, then get out and walk the few blocks to work.

Occasionally I stop at the nice dunkin donuts in the same building due to the high-quality coffee and incredibly helpful staff. Try asking for a little bit of soy milk in your coffee at a dunkin donuts on the east coast, I’m sure that you will receive neither soy, nor milk. The wait staff at this fine mirror-world establishment are also extremely polite and considerate to everyone. Greeting you with the most pleasant version of “Annyeong-haseyo” (Hello) you’re likely to hear while in Korea. I’m still not sure if this is scripted like in American stores or not; Most other Korean restaurateurs and shopkeepers say Hello and Goodbye as well.

However, everyone on the subway is politely inconsiderate to each other.

White Day, the most terrible day in all of KoreaYesterday while standing in the line — side note, the government created a policy a few years ago where everyone has to stand in a marked queue for each door on the train because otherwise people won’t even let anyone get off the train as they try to force their way into the too-crowded train — an old woman was standing behind me and basically hitting me in the back with her grocery bag every time she turned to look around. So I stepped an inch forward in line to get out of the way. Then she moved about a foot forward along with everyone in line behind her.

This is probably the example most representative of what people would think is incredibly rude about Korea. However, nobody intends to be rude, this is simply the way it is. The government and the people recognize that this is unfriendly for any visitors or regular tourists, and so they create policies like the one I mentioned earlier. Maybe every few years they’ll introduce more order into things until the populace appears polite enough so that folks like me won’t notice.

However, I doubt that they’ll be able to fix all of the problems. If you aren’t watching where you’re going here, you’ll get run over when crossing a street. What your mothers told you about looking both ways has never been so necessary and true. Drivers here race around corners at all times of the day or night. The only times I’ve seen them slow are when they’re being particularly nice to a certain red-headed foreigner who is obviously wearing his or her headphones and not paying attention to their surroundings.

I saw something on the BBC TV channel about an auto-inflatable airbag for motorcycle riders, primarily. I’m debating picking one up along with a flak-jacket just to survive the next attempt on my life.

Speaking of the BBC TV channel…