Archive for December, 2009

A $200 lesson on flying with dogs

So after 3 hours on the phone today calling airlines and “pet transport” services, this is what I’ve learned about taking dogs to Korea:

  • You need a rabies shot that’s over 30 days old (knew that already)
  • You need an “international health certificate” (knew that)
  • The health certificate needs to be issued by a veterinarian who is approved by the USDA, which apparently is required to even issue a health cert
  • The health certificate needs to be issued within 10 days of landing in Seoul or wherever you’re going
  • The health certificate needs to be mailed to your state’s USDA office so they can endorse it, and since it needs to be issued within 10 days of the flight that means sending it to and from via overnight mail
  • Not all airlines require that you use a third party pet transport service, despite what the idiots at O’Brien Animal Transportation might tell you


When I still thought I needed to use a pet transport service, I got a price of $1700 from O’Brien who claimed that TSA regulations require all airlines to use services like theirs. Yes, they wanted ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED dollars to put Terry on my plane and then take him off. So then I called another place called Pet Express who quoted a much-more-reasonable-but-still-expensive $975, and the fine folks at wanted me to spend $3000 to fly Terry to fucking Amsterdam, put him in a dog hotel for the night (drugs and hookers cost extra), and then fly to Seoul. Riiiiight.

In the end, I wound up canceling our plane tickets on Singapore and buying seats on an Asiana flight that costs the same and lands in Seoul at roughly the same time. The difference? Asiana will let me check Terry like a suitcase for the low, low price of $225. I’ve eaten $200 in fees for canceling the Singapore Air flight but the net result is saving over $500 by not paying Pet Express.


posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 12/30/2009 | No Comments

Click here to be grossed out!

For most of the past 10 years I’ve avoided being in photos because (a) I’m incredibly ugly, and (b) I knew my goddam fake eye would be looking the wrong way. What, you didn’t know I have a fake eye? Welcome to the freak show!

So I finally got sick of wearing a substandard piece of plastic in my face and went to the guy I should have seen the last time I felt the need to buy an eyeball. Robert B. Scott Ocularists has an office in downtown Chicago (and one in the suburbs and maybe one in Florida too) and they made my first two eyes which were awesome, but the third one was made by some other guy in San Francisco where I was living at the time and it sucked. This time around I got it done right.

The process took a bunch of visits over a period of a few weeks. First they had to make a mold of my eyeball by squirting some goo over my eye, then they made a clear shell for fitting purposes (my fake eye is actually like a big contact lens, not a golf ball), then they painted the iris, then they painted the rest of the eye, and the rest was fine-tuning the fit… and by “they” I actually mean Roland Scott, the master of eye-making. Seriously, this guy is World Class.

Read more…

posted by Michael in Whatever on 12/30/2009 | Comments (2)

Taking a dog on Singapore Airlines = pain in the ass

When I brought Terry the Dog from Seoul to Chicago in 2005 it was pretty easy… I checked him in as baggage and picked him up at baggage claim. Going from San Francisco to Seoul, however, is another story as Singapore Airlines requires that you use some third party “animal transportation company” to get your animal on the plane! Groan. WTF.

The guy at Singapore Airlines said it’s a TSA regulation but there’s nothing about it on the TSA website. Still, my plane ticket is paid for so I guess I gotta play ball. They referred me to a company called O’Brien Animal Transportation & Services, aka OATS, and I just left them a message to call me back. My guess is they have an office at the airport where I’ll drop off Terry, then they’ll stick him on my flight in the cargo hold, and then I’ll have to go to their office at the Incheon airport to pick him up, and the whole thing will wind up costing a couple hundred more than it should.


Singapore Airlines page on traveling with pets

posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 12/29/2009 | No Comments

How to get your F-4 visa!

I went to the Korean Consulate in Chicago today and applied for my F-4 visa… if you’re doing the same, this is what you should bring with you:

  • Passport
  • Passport photo
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Hojuk (Korean family registry)
  • Birth certificate
  • $45 cash (might be different in other cities)
  • Korean foreigner registration card, if you have one
  • Old passport with old F-4 visa stamp, if you have one


If you’re getting an F-4 visa for the first time, you’ll have to fill out a Korean Nationality Renunciation or whatever they call it, and that’s why you need the Certificate of Naturalization. If you don’t have a hojuk and you were adopted, call your adoption agency and tell them to cough it up! I got mine in 2002 by calling Holt’s office in Eugene, OR.

If you’ve been issued an F-4 visa in the past, bring proof of that and it might make things easier. The guy at the consulate in Chicago was about to make me call the Korean consulate in San Francisco (where I got my original F-4 in 2002) to confirm that I did the renunciation, but then after I gave him my foreigner reg card (which I got in Korea) and showed him the F-4 stamp from the passport I just replaced he was like ehhh fuck it and told me to come back on Thursday to get my passport with the new visa stamped in it.

And if you don’t know wtf an F-4 visa is or if you qualify for one, read this. It’s basically an all-access pass for Koreans who were born there but living somewhere else and it allows you to do whatever the hell you want in Korea for two three years. For everyone else (ie: white people), an E-2 visa is required to work over there and that leads to evil hagwon managers putting your balls in a vise which then leads to “midnight visa runs” and all that bullshit. No thanks! F-4 is the way to go.

Fyi, you don’t have to get your visa before landing in Korea. You can also do it over there, but if you forget to bring shit with you then you’re screwwwwed.


posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 12/28/2009 | Comments (4)

The pre-Korea itinerary

Saturday, January 9:

  1. Land at SFO at 12:40 pm
  2. Jump in a rental car
  3. Force Patrick to buy me lunch
  4. Drive out to Sacramento
  5. Force Spike to buy me dinner


Sunday, January 10:

  1. Pick up Denise and head to South Lake Tahoe
  2. Lose $200-$400 at Pai Gow
  3. Ask Denise if she wants to have sex and watch her roll her eyes


Monday, January 11:

  1. Drop Denise off in Sacramento
  2. Drive back to the Doubletree hotel in Berkeley where Terry & I will be staying
  3. Get drunk with Jerry
  4. Try to con Patrick into buying me lunch and/or dinner but I doubt he’ll fall for that twice


Tuesday, January 12:

  1. Spend the afternoon wacking off
  2. Buy Steve dinner with his Fantasy Football money


Wednesday, January 13:

  1. Return the rental car at SFO
  2. Yell at Alaska Jae for being late to the airport
  3. Give Terry a date rape drug to make him sleep through takeoff
  4. Get on Singapore Airlines flight 15 to Seoul
  5. Get smacked by a flight attendant after inquiring about the Mile High Club
posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 12/22/2009 | Comment (1)

Tick Tock

At this time exactly 4 weeks from today I’ll be somewhere over the Pacific with Alaska Jae and Terry down in the cargo hold!

Dogs somehow know when you're about to shove them into a plastic cage

"Get me the fuck outta here!!"

posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 12/16/2009 | No Comments

How long does it take to get an expedited passport?

10 days!

The guidelines given by the U.S. State Department tell you to allow 2-3 weeks but we all know that’s just so you won’t annoy the shit out of them until it’s absolutely necessary.

I mailed my photos and passport renewal application on December 1st via Express Mail which got it to the passport-making mothership the next day. The application I sent them was completed via the State Dept’s online form but I still had to print it out  because there’s no electronic submission. It seemed worth doing so it would look all nice and there would be no question about my handwriting being legible or not, and my (re)new(ed) passport arrived on December 11th via priority mail! The next day I got my old passport back – it was mailed separately.

Conventional wisdom suggests that if you’re truly in a hurry to get your passport “expedited” you should pay for overnight delivery both to and from the passport office, but I’m cheap and decided not to pay the extra $14 for overnight return delivery. Still got it in 10 days total.

I wouldn’t recommend waiting too long to get your passport renewed, but if you really need to get the fuck outta dodge there’s a good chance it won’t take as long as they tell you it will.

posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 12/13/2009 | No Comments

Yo Quiero Taco Hell

Taco Bell is coming back to Korea! Most of this article looks like gibberish to me cuz my Korean has gone from bad to worse over the past few years, but there will be locations in Itaewon and/or Yeoksam and that’s all I really need to know.

Nice timing, I like it.

posted by Michael in Whatever on 12/11/2009 | No Comments

I’m a lazy piece of shit

Things have been happening lately but I’m too goddam lazy to write here! So I’m gonna try doing it from my iPhone when I’m bored or idle, ie: watching tv (like I am right now), waiting for a burrito in the microwave, taking a massive dump, that kind of thing.

Here’s a quick rundown on recent events:

– Plane tix are bought… Alaska, there’s no backing out now! And my dad was nice enough to buy my Chicago – San Francisco airfare with his airline miles. Sweet.

– Smiling in passport photos is apparently no longer allowed by the US State Dept., or so I’m told by the lady at Walgreens who took my passport photo a couple weeks ago. WTF! I wasn’t even smiling, just trying to look surprised, but there were teeth showing so I did it again but I turned out looking more like I was squeezing off a log. Eh whatever.

– I visited Cory in NJ last weekend. And you know what? HE BLABBED MY BIG SECRET ARRIVAL TO DAN! Groan. Not only did he tell Dan months ago, but he REMINDED him just a couple days before i went to NJ! Note to self: don’t ever tell Cory another secret again. Dan says he’ll keep his mouth shut but he was one of the people I was planning to shock. He’s shocked alright but it’s not quite the same.

– Slingbox is fucking awesome. I bought one off of craigslist and it came with a Slinglink for $125 total. Don’t need the slinglink yet… I’m currently using a wireless bridge to watch tv in my basement dungeon… but it might come in handy when my brother Pat sets it up in his new house in January.

Oh yeah and someone caught me wacking off about a month ago! I won’t say who, but if you think about where I’m living right now it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. Hint: it wasn’t dad! My surprise visitor was horrified by the encounter but I laughed and immediately reported the incident to several people who, by now, have no doubt informed the entire world. It was bound to happen eventually and frankly I’m surprised it took as long as it did.

Btw this post definitely sets a record for the most nonsense I’ve ever tapped out on an iPhone keyboard.

4 weeks to go!

posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 12/11/2009 | No Comments