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For-pay fire department lets non-subscriber’s house burn.

I had lunch with a fellow blogger and he kindly described my blog as eclectic.   That was much kinder than scattershot, or without-a-focus.  His blog, by the way, has razor focus and thousands of hits per day.

I’m still trying to find my way in Busan.  I was comfortable in Gangwon and being Gangwon’s premier blogger (woop-de-doo!).  Do I need a niche or a specific focus for this blog?

To continue my eclecticism, let me discuss a Salon article that has nothing to do with Korea, or Canada, or the environment or anything else I normally cover.  In a Tennessee town, the fire department is subscriber-funded.  Subscribers pay $75 a year for the department’s services.  One man did not pay and when his house caught fire, the fire department stood there and watched it burn.

NEW! The fat kid, a man on a ladder and smut.

Don’t burn the Koran…D’oh!

This afternoon I listened to a BBC World Service interview with Rev. Terry Jones.*  He had publicized a plan to burn many copies of the Koran on Sept 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.  Eventually, he cancelled the event, saying that in simply planning the event, he had generated enough attention to the issue of militant Muslims.

Cabbage and frogs

I’m back early from a trip to the farm.  Yesterday, I helped weed a cabbage patch.  It was a great job, because I was given a sharp hoe and could stand most of the time.  I just reached under the cabbage and scraped the soil around the side, scything several weeds down.  There were some bugs in the weeds and a few leaves looked well-gnawed, but the cabbage had defenders as well:

The Hominid and Mohammed

The big Hominid recently had a post about cartoonists being threatened with violence for drawing Mohammed.

Those Muslims had a choice: set fire to Danish embassies or protest in a civilized manner. They chose the former, and should be held accountable.

I, for one, side with the cartoonists. No one should live in fear of reprisal for their religious irreverence, and anyone interested in fairness should recognize that, if it’s permissible to ridicule Christianity and Christians– routinely and relentlessly– through written satire, cartoons, etc., then it’s permissible to do those things to other religions and their adherents as well. That’s how fairness works.

Want to know about religion? Ask me

Via blogs and news reports too numerous to link to them all (here is the New York Times on the subject), The Pew Forum ran a survey entitled, “How much do you know about religion?”

The result was that atheists and agnostics knew the most about religion.

As for me, according the New York Times quiz – six of the original 32 questions – I did great 6/6.

According to the quiz the Pew Forum- 15 of the original 32 questions-I scored better than 97% of the public. To brag even more, here is the screen shot.

Road to Namhae

Tuesday, early as hell AM.

It was 5:45; the earliest I had been up in years and it was still dark when I left the apartment.  I arrive at the bus terminal for the second time in 12 hours to try to snag tickets in the midst of the busiest holiday in Korea.  I was accused of lunacy the night before for waiting till the day-of to purchase tickets.  You can’t get tickets in advance anyhow, and I had already promised all my friends I had it in the bag, just meet me at 9:15 at the terminal.

The East Sea will get very salty

Or so claims the Donga Ilbo.

In an article titled “East Sea to Turn Into ‘Dead Sea’ in 100 Years: Report“, the writer seems to have mixed up “Dead Sea” with “The Dead Sea”.

From the article:

Japanese researchers say the East Sea will turn into an oxygen-less body of water like the Dead Sea in 100 years, the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun said Tuesday.

“The Dead Sea”, of course, is in the Middle East and has a huge salt content that is lethal for any fish that wanders down the river into the Sea.  More here.

songjeong beach and yonggungsa temple

i’ve been wanting to go to the beach temple since the week i got here. last week, i finally made my way out there. there was just too much wonderful stuff there to even photograph it all, not to mention everything that can’t go in a photo — the smells of the incense everywhere, the cooking bean paste cakes, the steaming pots of tiny sea snails and silkworm larvae that they served for snacks. missing, too, is the sound of buddhist chanting and wooden sticks clanking, the sea pounding the cliffs on which the temple’s situated. still, i did my best.

It’s his honesty I’m concerned about.

A fellow Canuck, a Mr. Kokoski, has written an opinion piece in the Korea Times about Pope Ratzinger’s visit to the UK.  He has many kind words for the Pope and all of them may well be true.  However, we can find good points for most people.  The way the Pope is unwilling to take responsibility for obstructing justice for children molested by RC clergy is enough of a negative to make all Kokoski’s  points irrelevant.

However, even if I wish to stick to the Pope’s UK visit, there is plenty for room for concern.  The Pope may be, “…a man rich in spiritual passion, humility, self-denial and love for the cause of God and of man. ” but still be a liar.

rural rooftop solar energy collectors

My understanding is that the warmth of the building extends the growing season somewhat for these squashes.

jeju, days three and four

when they said to get to mount halla early, we didn’t think they meant 9 am. so we missed a 7 hour round-trip hike up a dead volcano. but we had a nice little stroll through the woods, where people like to pile rocks.

it was a lazy day for photos.

jeju, days one and two

chuseok finally came, which meant i had to go

to jeju-do.

along with a visitor from the West.

My presentation at the Local Kotesol Meeting

Yesterday, I discussed ‘Creativity in the classroom’ at the Busan-Kyeongnam branch of KOTESOL.  My talk went for about a hundred minutes and I am mostly satisfied with it.

I posted about the upcoming meeting a week or so beforehand and mentioned that I was nervous about it.  I can say now that I was indeed nervous, very nervous, for the first few minutes of my talk.  Teaching students now seems comfortable.  Speaking before my peers remains, well, less comfortable.

chuseok party!

i know it’s about time to stop posting only pictures of the kids in my class, and i promise this will be the last one for a while (i’m going to jeju island tomorrow!) but omigod, it was chuseok party today!

all my kids dressed up in traditional korean hanbok and bowed to the teachers.

the many faces of kelly

more photos of this week upcoming, but for now, you get this treat. click for a full-size version.

Reflections (in the mirror)

In my future moments of nostalgic reflection on Korea, one of the first flashes will surely be that of my co-workers’ daily huddle around the desktop computer.  I need not understand Korean to be painfully aware of what their excited chatter is a precursor to: yet another box of stuff is scheduled to arrive within the next 24 hours; I’d almost bet my life on it.  When the knock at the back door the next afternoon proves me correct, they will rush about the office ravaging frantically to locate boxcutters, scissors, keys, anything (!) to surpass this obstacle between them and whatever precious crap lies inside.  I will then watch in quiet amusement as the objects inside endure intense scrutiny from each of the girls before being

Finding Jobs in Korea

It is extremely difficult to find a job here in Korea for engineers. One of the main reason being Koreans prefer recruiting Indians through recommendation. So mostly the Indians (including me) who are working here in Korea have been recommended by someone (ex-colleague mostly) who has been working in Korea for some time. Having said that Indian Engineers are a lot in demand these days in Korea. But make sure before you accept any offer you negotiate pretty well and accept a salary which is at par with your experience and as per industry standards.

So here are a few websites  and email ids where you can post or forward your resume:

Here’s another target for Dokdoisours.

Satirical blog Dokdoisours has had a lot of fun with the Korea Times.  The Times’ is infamous for it’s poor editing .

The Korea Herald is a little more professional but is trying a new advertising technique.  Oh, I wrote new, but I first noticed it a month ago or so.  They hyperlink more or less random words in their articles.  Let’s see if the links are visible -broken or not- after I paste:

Ubiquitous access to my email account has cut down a lot of unnecessary time spent looking for the Internet, and it also helps me take care of necessary business more promptly,” Lee said.

blue and gold

“this is the first and only goatee i’ve ever had. i just thought you should see it.”

goodbye hotdog

’tis the season for saying goodbye, it seems, as so many of the folks i’ve found myself quite fond of here have gone or are going. last weekend was time to say goodbye to the lovely and talented rachel h, or, as the fliers described her, first lady of the hotdog catalogue. the intimate show at oki’s bookstore was an adventure in varied composition.

it was a full house.

Sept 10: World Suicide Prevention Day

I am not sure what value having a ‘day’ is, but suicide is a big problem in Korea, with one suicide occurring every 34 minutes (as tweeted by James – did that link work?  I haven’t linked to a tweet before).

For more information on the day or warning signs or the like, visit Dr Deb.


Hmm, this post is nearly short enough to go on Twitter.

sound picnic

the weather is nice, and that means it’s time to go to the park lots and lots. that’s exactly what we did a little over a week ago, to see some friends play at Sound Picnic. apparently, it degenerated into a supersoaker dance party, but i think by the time that happened, i was home in bed…

we freaked the koreans out. one man was spotted watching us with binoculars from a safe remove. this woman was groping for shellfish nearby.

Dark Hutong, Hot Night, Cold Beer and Ji Chi.

Saturday the 18th. Now I’m nervous.

I wrote at the beginning of the semester that I was concerned that I wasn’t nervous enough.  Now I am:

And there goes any anonymity I might have had.  The Busan Gyeongnam branch of KOTESOL can be found here and you can register now for the international conference held October 16-17 in Seoul elsewhere on the site.


The Sad Ballad of Vitaliy

He is my coworker. His job title runs ‘native speaker’, but he is not. He’s Vitaliy. He’s Russian. And he loves tuna fish. Hobbies include ‘getting little buzz’ and ‘hang house’. Recently wed to a Korean lady. Possibly strangest person I’ve ever sat across from. I’m almost face to face with him, between the space in our computer monitors. Since he’s not a native speaker, it takes him roughly a century to complete anything English related. He always has the appearance of diligence. Everyday he eats tuna fish out of a can with either rice, noodles or ramyeun. This is fucked. More fucked is that he’s moved onto airplane food meals. All his food smells bad and everyone looks distressed when he eats. He eats at his desk. I don’t want to hate him, but I do. Stupid russian fuck. I still like tuna, but not as much now. Cocksucker stole a piece of my palate and I’ll never get it back.

…”And it’s good for health.”

Korean girl: “Do you like to eat raw fish?”

Me: “Sure, I eat sushi all the time.”

I was mistaken…

Fish market time!  Select the most delicious looking fish swimming in the knee-high tank and appreciate your day job as the ajumma yanks it out of the water and chops its head clean off in one swift motion.  Next, she’s over to the cutting board to slice it in down the middle as we cringe at the two headless sides wiggling around on the table.

Do the Italians compare to Ajummas?

In a study comparing (French) Canadian, Italian and French parents, the Italians were found to be the most strict (Medical New Today, via Yahoo News):

Of all three countries, Italian mothers and fathers are perceived as using the most constraining practices,” says first author Michel Claes, a University of Montreal psychology professor. “Italian parents are seen as more demanding in rules and authorizations. They take more punitive actions when rules are broken and are less tolerant of peer socialization. They uphold family regulations and require their adolescents to ask for authorizations until a much later age.”

However, the Italian and the French parents grouped quite closely with Canadian parents being unusually lenient.

Hand out lecture notes before class: Research Digest blog

The Research Digest Blog (Since 2005, bringing you reports on the latest psychology research) offers 9 Evidence-based study tips.

Few of the tips are surprising – having good sleeping habits is not particularly controversial – and a few are attitudinal – “Adopt a growth mindset” and “Believe in yourself” – but one caught my eye as it was for educators rather than students:

Get handouts prior to the lecture. Students given Powerpoint slide handouts before a lecture made fewer notes but performed the same or better in a later test of the lecture material than students who weren’t given the handouts until the lecture was over.


The Han River bike trail is my church. I ride it home from school even though it takes an hour longer. This is the tunnel that separates the quiet expanse of the river park from the chaotic jumble of Seoul. The portal through which I often pass through reluctantly.

Seoul- Minolta SRT

Seoul- Minolta SRT

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