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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‘.


Feral Cats

A co-worker recently posted a notice in the office of a baby cat near his apartment and asked whether anyone would be interested in taking it home.

I love animals and grew up with there always being a dog or a cat and often both in the home.  Yet, I didn’t even bother to bring the subject up with my wife.

If we opened our apartment to cute little furry critter, we would do it again for the next and the next…

I honestly – and sadly and despairingly – wonder if poison or traps or other lethal tools should be used to clean out the feral cat populations in Korea.  I guess that in Busan they are doing no harm – I am sure I could think of some way they might be- but the constant sight of them just fills me with pity.


For lack of a better word..or any words, for that matter.

I am a little worried that one of these days I will get a knock at my door to deliver notice of fine for all the banana peels I throw out my 8th story window.  The thing is, I wouldn’t know it if I were holding it in my hands anyway, so I continue to throw them out to avoid the evil little fruit fly infestation around my college dorm room style trash can.    I received an unintelligible notice about a month back, which after staring at quizzically and in slight frustration for a good while, decided to snap a camera phone picture of and send to a Korean friend.  My hope in this was to dodge bringing the mystery notice to work for translation in fear it may be in respect to my garage can window (only biodegradables, of course)


Sexual Soju Korea

I would like to welcome myself, once again, to the 21st century.  I just uploaded my very first YouTube video!!     …Wooooooooow.  Since I don’t yet have the capability to upload videos directly onto here (because I am too cheap), I will prompt you to click the link below if you would like to see it.  As they say in Korea, it’s “nothing special”, but I found it rather hilarious at the time.  Enjoy! 

–Click Me–

 


Letter of intent

I was asked by my university about my intentions for the new year:

Your committee work record form and letter of intent are required for your 2010 evaluation.
Thus, please submit them to the office by
Monday, October 11 (6 o’clock)

1. Letter of intent (Re: renewing your contact)


things i’ve been seeing a lot of lately

fires. there have been three in the general vicinity of my house in a week. today, there was one just a few blocks away from my apt. haeundae arsonist? it all started with this one last sunday at songjeon beach.


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.


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