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The Little Things

Yesterday one of my fifth graders–we’ll call him Eager Ernest–approaches me and issues a request:

“Uh, Kimchi teacher?”
“yes.”
“Can you tell me where the bathroom is?”

The question seems to stumble out his mouth and he nods his head as he says each word the way one does while concentrating on reciting something from memory.


Falling from the rib-breaking tree and hitting every branch

It is no laughing matter that my father-in-law fell from a tree and broke some ribs but there must be some way to work that cliche in.

On Monday, my f-i-l was collecting persimmon, when he fell. Now, he was hurt and seriously to need to stay in the hospital for a few days, but don’t think he fell from a tall pine or maple or the like.  Horticulturists could better explain, but as I understand it, you clip the main growth bud of a young tree and major branches grow instead.  This way you can have many more fruit-bearing branches and all close to the ground.

So, he fell and probably hit a branch on the way.  He went home, and probably went to bed early.  The next morning, he was in great pain so he decided to visit a hospital.  There he was diagnosed with broken ribs, admitted to a room and had his lower chest wrapped.  I suspect he was given pain-killers.


That didn’t take long

I prepared ahead – albeit insufficiently – for November and Nanowrimo.  I’ve had an idea for a novel for some time now and have wanted to try writing it.  I have written short fiction and essays short and long for this blog, a few magazines and my students.  I was ready, I felt, to extend myself…

No point in being wordy now.  It will take an extreme effort of will to continue at this point.

Oh, Nanowrimo, for those unwilling to follow the link, is short for national Novel Writing Month.  The organization is international now, so the name is both cumbersome and incorrect.  Anyway, the goal for Nanowrimo is to type 50,000 words during the month of November.  Quantity is important and quality is not.  This makes sense to me as the first step is a sort of brainstorming, with the expectation of massive revisions coming afterward.


This blog has now moved to…


Backstage Romance: Behind the Scenes at Seoul Fashion Week

Put your backstage pass around your neck and get ready to take a look behind the scenes of Korea’s biggest fashion event.

Story and photos by Peter DeMarco

Click to view slideshow.

A slowed-down acoustic cover tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” blares from the speakers as Korean models line up backstage. They are so tall and wispy that they remind you of the blue creatures from Avatar. Munchkin-like minders in black hoods scurry around them unloading bottles of hairspray, tying bows, painting on lipstick, and buttoning blouses. The show is about to start.


Rural Korea on the Jirisan Trail

Click to view slideshow.

This article has gotten quite a few downloads so I’ve decided to write a post about it here. The Jirisan Trail in this article is not the same trail that runs up Jirisan Mtn. It is a newer trail that runs through the villages around the national park.

You can read the online version of this article I wrote and photographed for the NOV 2009 issue of 10 Magazine, or take a look at the tear sheets and PDF version below.


Teaching from the Bottom of the Totem Pole #3:Truths

With just over two months teaching English in Korea under my belt, I’ve come to realize certain truths about my place of employment. A couple are probably native only to my school, but I imagine a few are fairly general as well. Either way, I’m no stingy bastard. In an effort to preserve these truths forever. I’ve decided to share.


In Search of Mother Nature’s S-Line: Suncheon Bay

Click to view slideshow.

If you live in Korea and have never been to Suncheon Bay in Jeollado then you are missing out on one of the best scenic views this country has to offer. These protected wetlands are a must visit for any bird lover or nature photographer.

My article about this amazing place is out this month. Pick up a copy of the November 2010 issue of Seoul Magazine or download the free ebook version. Or you can just read about it here. And special thanks to Suncheon resident and photographer extraordinaire Simon Bond. His great tips and local know-how were essential in putting this article together. Thanks buddy!


Early Hallowe’en festivities

WordPress doesn’t allow video uploading without paying for an upgrade, and Youtube has “voluntarily disabled this functionality [ the uploading of video] on kr.youtube.com because of the Korean real-name verification law.” *

So, to see the terrified teachers and hear the terrified students at my university, you need to visit creativitiproject.

——

*I prefer to link to sites when I quote from them, but it looked like the link for my personal page – accessible only after signing in.


busan museum of modern art

today, my friend ashley and i went to the busan museum of modern art, where this austin powers buddha

was gazing into this psychedelic infinite while listening to a clubby version of the soundtrack from the hours.

oh no, a room full of doll hair!


halloween day

after much anticipation, it finally arrived. halloween day!

we carved pumpkins.

every kid put on a rubber glove and got to scoop a few seeds from inside. thank goodness ours didn’t have maggots in it! i carved ours. he had a wonky eye.


Why I love teaching…

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And Here.

 


Say it Ain’t So!

Yesterday I’m scrolling through my rss reader when I come across a post by good ole Mr. Dubs. It seems  he’s decided to call it quits on the k-blogging scene because of some threats he received from alleged Korean netizens looking to rid the peninsula of  ESL teachers who stray from the pack of conformity. In other words, Mr Dubs said some shit they didn’t like on his blog, An Idiots Tale, and now they’ve threatened to rat him out to his employer. Because I can no longer link to the specific post here’s some exerts from the comments he recieved:

I am the member from an organization of concerned Korean to clean up ESL industry…


Fresh Breath

No doubt,  I talk a lot of shit on this blog.  I can’t help it. There’s so many quirky Korean oddities to comment on. However not everything I come come across in the land of soju and shiny suit ajosshis is a mindfuck. Sure, I don’t get the public toilets or traffic lights, but there’s a lot still plenty about Korea that makes perfect sense.

An example?


sound picnic 3 and fireworks fest

took the photocycles to dalmaji hill for sound picnic 3, our last lovely outdoor music fest before the first frost.

it was in this gorgeous amphitheatre. you could see the little islands off the coast of busan receding into the haze.

we had a good time.


ladies’ craft night

busan ladies got it going on. last weekend, we got together to make ipod coozies. i didn’t know ipods needed coozies! i thought coozies were just for beer…


bumbledong

went to beomil-dong last weekend to find some buttons for ladies’ craft night. it’s a far cry from jangsan — no coffee shops on every corner, no young girls inadvertently looking like complete prostitutes, hardly any frighteningly skinny people! strolled around the street market for a while.

this sweet lady was making kimchi.

not sure if you heard the news, but there’s a Kimchi Krisis over here. something about an indian summer ruining the cabbage crop. so now there’s a shortage of the leafy goodness needed to make one of the two things koreans eat at every meal (along with rice). oh no!


lhasa

saw my pals lhasa at…


Steampunk Ice Shavers

I just thought I’d share some photos of the pat bing su stalls I came across in Busan last weekend for anyone with as strong a case of kitchen/catering equipment geekery as I do.

Each stall was kitted out with a wrought-iron ice shaver. The ice shavers were manually powered by a large wheel on one side and worked by rotating a firmly fixed block of ice against the edge of a razor. Each one was painted blue and embossed with birds to give it a really cool steampunk/Victorian feel to it.


To heck with the customer.

The Joongang has an article about eating octopus and the amount of cadmium in octopus heads.

First, it should be clear and obvious that fish and other predators, like octopi, will carry more harmful chemicals than herbivores will.  This is true for chemicals that don’t dissolve in water and accumulate in fatty tissue.  DDT is the most famous of these chemicals, but many pesticides and other compounds also have the same characteristics.   A small fish or shrimp contains a small amount of whatever poison.  A larger fish eats ten small fish and now has ten times the poison.  An octopus eats ten of these larger fish and now has one hundred times the poison of the original small fish.  Eating predators is a risker business.

So, the title of the article, “Can octopus heads be hazardous to your health?”, is quickly and easily answered.


How do charter schools compare to hagwons?

The New York review of Books has an article about charter schools and the documentary Waiting for Supermen.

It is a long article and I have not finished reading it, but what I have read is interesting and might relate to Korea’s hagwon culture.


Beijing: 10 For the Weekend

Click to view slideshow.

[Click here for more photos of Beijing.]

If you have never been to Beijing then it’s time you went. It’s true it can be very polluted and overcrowded, but it is just one of those places you have to visit before you die. You’ve got the Forbidden City, Great Wall, and a number of new cutting edge buildings going up. Not to mention China is about to take over the world.


“Ayyy Girl” Made Worse by Mr. West

So today I planned on posting on some thoughts I had over the weekend, but something better fell into my lap whilst desk warming at the J.O.B.


American colleges and graduate degrees

Scientific American has a long and thought provoking article about the hierarchy of teaching professionals at American universities. Actually, the article appears to be excerpted from Higher Education: How colleges are wasting our money and failing our kids and what we can do about it.

Here is a list of the hierarchy of contingent faculty, with further details at the link:

Instructors and Lecturers

visiting Faculty -not the celebrity kind

Adjuncts

Teaching assistants

 

The news is grim for these contingents or temps:


Busan Blog Love

In a quest to get more eyeballs looking at my K-blog scribblings, I requested to be added to the Korean Blog List website. It took the bastards almost a month to add me (some bullshit about them needing to make sure I post regularly) but they finally did. Am I jumping for joy? Not quite, but I have gotten a few more hits from the link so I can’t complain much.


A day in the life…

Friday

7:30AM

First alarm goes off.  Hit snooze.  Second alarm goes off.  Hit snooze.  Third alarm goes off.  Hit snooze.

8:00AM

Roll up out of bed to put on water for coffee and check the interwebs for news from the other side of the planet.  Find that not much has happened since 8 hours prior during the last check.  Get on Skype for a chat with Mom, then put down (at least) one full french press of black coffee.  Kill another hour mindlessly meandering social networks and travel articles on the laptop.

9:30AM


Korean Pajong

Octopus pajong and mek-ju at a plastic picnic table in the mountains. Mmmmm...


I like the Donga Ilbo

But seriously, Tweeter? (My bolding)


Paperless teaching at ChungKang College

The Joongang has an article describing ChungKang College’s plan to ride a fad to fame use iPads in all aspects of their education delivery.

From the article:

The university said yesterday that it will start the “i-College,” a system of education featuring the use of the iPad, starting next year. The university said the system will be used in all aspects of education, such as homework assignments, lectures, the submission of homework, test-giving and student evaluations.

The goal is to improve communication between students and professors and make the relationship more interactive.

It’s interesting that they are using a platform that is almost entirely new to Korea, but i definitely applaud the idea.


tools for writing analysis online

As a conversational (sometimes controversial) English teacher in Korea, I don’t see a lot of writing.  What I do see is short and simplistic.  My students see more writing from me than I do from them, I think.  Huh, I should look into the volume of written input vs output…

At the Six Things Blog, Lindsay Clandfield lists six writing analysis tool available online.  Four of them are mostly for entertainment value, “Which famous writer you write like”, but one is a ‘vocabulary profiler‘ and another is a ‘text content analyzer‘.


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