My grandfather was my Buddha. Not God, but one who had contained
a mythic enlightenment. He had not attained Nirvana I would later come to
realize, but in my mind, as a child, he was my enlightenment.
We sat under a tree in the back yard of the farm, myself,
James, Jonathan, and our grandpa. “Now a carbon blade is the best blade for a
pocket knife boys. It sharpens to a finer edge. Don’t worry about a little rust
on the blade. The patina gives it character.” I twiddled my stainless-steel Swiss
I had always admired his pocket knives. They were beautiful
tools in his hands. He picked up a broken piece of half inch scrap lumber. “Boys
when you whittle you hold the knife backwards and slowly pull the knife to your
thumb. You have to be careful and use control. Don’t worry you won’t cut
yourself if you just use control.” We each picked up a piece of wood and began
whittling as he had showed us.
Grandpa picked up another piece of wood, one with an old knot
hole in it. “This here, boys, was your great grandpa’s favorite type of wood to
whittle. He loved the curving glide of the blade around the hollowed-out knot.”
His sharp little blade shaved the wood like slivers of cream.
He set back a moment to watch us and to look out over the
fields. “Boys one day when you’re a little better I’ll show you how to whittle
a ball in a cage.” That lesson never came around. Not long after grandpa
started having heart problems, and things began to change.
My memories float in and out of those times with him, and I
don’t regret never having learned certain lessons. In all it’s not always the
lessons, but just the presence that had the most meaning.
Fireflies broke the early evening’s dying light. We had been
playing in the woods near the tracks almost every day for several weeks. We had
been making spears, building forts, and smoking cigarettes we had snuck from
The Abshire’s had a nice big lot across the street from
where we played near the tracks. They had a nice barn several, several horses,
and a large satellite dish.
Jerry had pitched his 1800’s era campaign tent in the back
yard. It was a large, white canvas tent, supported with an actual sapling cut
frame. He was getting ready for another reenactment scheduled for a few days
Our sleeping bags were rolled out, our gear was stowed, and it was time to begin evening operations. Operations were halted however for a short time due to interference on the battle field. Fireflies had begun to invade the battle space. Enemy search and destroy missions would have to wait.
The glowing neon lights had mesmerized our attentions. Where
were they going? How long would they be there? Can we catch them? We could, and
we did. Do they bleed? They do. A neon yellow smear that would make glowing
tiger stripes on our arms and tongues.
Then as mysteriously as they appeared, they were gone. I
took up my spear, with the diamond engraved grips I had made to look like Grace
Jones spear in Conan the Barbarian, and we continued on with our campaign.
I had been to this little grocer several times, since being in Korea. I honestly don’t even know the name of the place, but it’s exotic and interesting to me. So, sometimes I go there to find some new exotic treat or beverage to try. It’s actually a really small hole in the wall, about the size of a regular convenience store in the states, but it is packed out with as many different products as store twice it’s size. Each isle has boxes of various items lining the floor, leaving only a small foot path between rows. It has all of the typical items you’d find in a grocer: soaps, detergents, house hold items, produce, dry goods, frozen meats in refurbished ice cream freezers, and ice cream.
They also have a small beer and spirits section. Well, it’s mostly a beer and soju section. However, they also have several varieties of Chinese Spirits. Honestly, I’m a pretty adventurous person, and there isn’t much I won’t try at least once. This belief typically serves me well. But on occasion it bites me in the ass. Today would be a prime example of this.
Now, I will say that I probably should have learned my lesson about Chinese Spirits from the last time I got daring in that section. I tried a little bottle of Chinese vodka, and it was literally like drinking lighter fluid. Not a smooth quality Spirit all. Anyway, I looked at a couple bottles, and they were mostly all clear, vodka type substances with high alcohol content. Now, I suppose I did learn my lesson in a way because I didn’t go for the clear bottles.
Then I saw one, San Bian Jiu, that had a comparatively lower alcohol content than the other items, but still a bit higher than typical soju. Seeing the much lower alcohol content, I assumed it would be some type of rice wine. So, I went ahead and bought a bottle, 3500 won. It was more expensive than soju, so I of course assumed it would be better quality.
I’m not the type that typically goes all in, drinking my Spirits straight. I’m also the type that will crash out if a drink is too strong, and well it’s too early in the day for that. (Don’t judge me it’s my Saturday, even though it is Tuesday. I’m doing shift work okay.) So, anyway, I stopped and picked me up a Monster for a mixer. The sugar free energy drink cocktail always does me right.
Now, because this was my first time trying this particular Spirit, I wanted to see what it at least tasted like straight. It was… interesting. I think that would be the word for it. I mean I have tasted much worse things in my life. But this was kind of different. I didn’t think to smell it first. I’m not really one of those people that worry about the smell before I taste. And yes, that has occasionally been a down fall for me, as well. Anyway, at the first sip I could tell right away ginseng. I definitely had a very strong ginseng flavor, but with a somewhat musky after taste and odor. Mixed with the Monster it tasted mostly of ginseng flavored black cherry… with a mild musky after taste.
After I drank a couple cups, I started thinking about the ginseng flavor. Ginseng is a major natural medicinal used across Asia. So, I thought I would look up San Bian Jiu on Google to see if I could find something out about it. Maybe I was actually drinking an Asian medicinal! The very first article I that popped up was World’s Weirdest Alcoholic Drinks , and wouldn’t you know it. I had just consumed the very top weirdest of them all!
NO! San Bian Jiu isn’t Chinese for Chinese Rice Wine. Oh no! It is definitely roughly translated as Three Penis Liquor!! Oh yeah! THREE PENIS LIQUOR!!! Why is it called Three Penis Liquor you may ask? It’s called Three Penis Liquor because it is made by distilling brewed SEAL, DEER, and CANTONESE DOG penises!!! Oh yeah, I drank it! I drank it!!!!
Fortunately, I guess, it is considered an Asian medicinal. I wasn’t wrong there! It’s supposed to increase male potency and virility! It’s also been called the Viagra of the East. Now, I don’t know how true that is. I didn’t feel any more potent or virile. However, judging by the population size of China, I suppose a correlation could be made. Because apparently San Bian Jiu is a rather popular beverage choice in Shanghai and can be found in most grocers.
So, the lesson learned here would be to always! ALWAYS! Research any new fermented and distilled beverages you plan on trying prior to actually consuming them. Especially, if you don’t know the language written on the bottle. But, hey! At least I learned this lesson for you. I don’t think you could drink anything more bizarre than San Bian Jiu… Three Penis Liquor!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
For some time now I’ve been working, somewhat inconsistently, on a health and fitness blog. Some of you, being mostly my close friends and family, may have seen some of my articles and photos. I was very excited when I stated the project, but after a few months the excitement and novelty started to wear off, and I really got to where I loathed doing it. So, I kind of just let it go. However, that didn’t stop my guts from turning and telling me that I should be doing something. I think I lost interest mostly because writing only about health and fitness was just too constricting for me.
I don’t just want to write about health and fitness. Sure, I like working out I do it practically every day, and I have done it practically every day of my life since I was a teenager. I have never given myself an “off season.” The longest I’ve every gone is a week or two, and it was always because of injury or illness. I mean to be completely honest I started the whole thing as a possible second job to make money or something for me to do when I retire from the military. But alas, the health and fitness industry as a whole is just not fulfilling enough for me.
Thus, I’ve decided to start this blog, which will have a slightly larger scope of interests for me to write about. I’m not looking at this as a potential future business either, I just want to write and maybe discuss some of my ideas and creations with anyone who wants to talk about them. Some of the things I intend to share will be travel photos, creative writing projects, and maybe an essay every now and then. Really, I suppose you could say this blog is mostly for me, but who knows maybe it’s for you too.
So, I’d like to invite you to join me on this journey of exploration through some of my varied interests. I hope you find a few things that interest and excite you as well.