Hmm it kind of looks like us…

This is what happens when I wander around Itaewon with Terry after a few too many beers.

I spotted this guy sitting in front of the Hamilton Hotel with his easel and decided it was worth $30 to see what he could do. Terry and I sat for probably 30-40 minutes before he was finished, and I’m pretty sure it would have taken a little longer if he hadn’t had to pee really bad. Actually, he and I both had to go, so I was glad he finished when he did.

And what’s up with the way Koreans write numbers? The date should be “10/5″ but it somehow looks like 10/9 which, the way some Koreans write their nines, could be mistaken for 10/P.

Anyway, I think the guy did ok. He drew a younger, more chiseled me. I’ll take it. Not sure how Terry feels about his portrait, though. If Terry could talk, he’d probably complain that he doesn’t look vicious enough.

posted by Michael in Walking Terry on 10/13/2014 | No Comments
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Korean girls don’t have asses…

…and I’m totally ok with that

posted by Michael in Music Videos on 7/17/2014 | No Comments
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I am Try-Lingual… I try to speak Korean and get blank stares in return

So yeah, I’m studying Korean these days. It’s mostly because every day at work I eat lunch by myself. Believe it or not, this is by choice. My co-workers aren’t bad people, but I want nothing to do with most of them! We work together. We’re not lunch buddies. (If you look closely, you can almost watch me transform into a more and more antisocial jerk with each passing day.) Point being, lunchtime is a good time to whip out the iPad and run through some flash cards. Even studying for just 10-15 minutes makes a huge difference.

My recent studying kick is also tied to the fact that there’s a free two-hour Korean class every Saturday from 3-5 pm, and it takes me less than 10 minutes to walk there at a leisurely pace. And remember, I live right behind the campus of Sookmyung Women’s University. Wink wink. What I’m trying to say is, the teachers are all women. That’s what “wink wink” means. I’d honestly still go to class every Saturday if the teachers were all dudes (hey it’s free) but they’re not and I have no complaints.

So back to the point: I’m studying Korean. Up until very recently I was attending yet another free Korean class (at a nearby community center on Thursday nights) but I’m taking an indefinite break from it because it’s kind of below my already-low level.

My Sookmyung Korean class went on a little “Membership Training” thing about a month ago so I’ll post some pics from that when I feel motivated. Membership Training is just a “Konglish” word for a grown-up field trip that usually entails socializing, games, booze, and sleeping on the floor of a pension (a motel-ish place). It was mostly fun and certainly worth going on since I met some other students and got to know some of the teachers and other volunteers who run the free class program.

I’ll end this with a snapshot from my Level 3 Korean book from when I was doing the intensive program at Hongik back in 2003. I just dug this book out of my closet a few minutes ago and all I can say is NO WONDER I DROPPED OUT! Jesus. Yeah I made it through levels 1-2 just fine, but level 3 kicked me in the nuts pretty hard. No English translations in this book, which is a big part of why I couldn’t handle it. My book scribbles make it look like I survived most of the class but I distinctly recall throwing in the towel somewhere near the middle of the 35 chapters. Still, I’m glad I saved the books. There’s an outside chance I might still be able to get something out of them.

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posted by Michael in Whatever on 7/15/2014 | No Comments

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes

Just realized that I only know how to say one of those words in Korean and I’m about to teach this stuff in English to a bunch of 6 year olds. Since I’ve been studying Korean lately it seems like a good idea to finally learn everything in this pic. I know most of them, but a few of these words are new. I guess I just don’t need to talk about my shoulders, knees, and toes all that often.

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posted by Michael in Whatever on 6/15/2014 | No Comments

Terry doing his job

I just happened to have a bag of chicken that was given to me by the kebab guy, so Terry was very cooperative when some ladies wanted his attention.

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(Yes that’s my finger in the frame, whoops)

posted by Michael in Walking Terry on 4/25/2014 | No Comments

Sewol

Sewol

I’m not writing this because I want to be a journalist, I’m just writing it down so I can remember when this happened.

A ferry called the Sewol was carrying passengers, mostly high school students, to Jeju Island and it somehow capsized on April 16th. The last count I saw, about seven days after the incident as of now, was 174 rescued and 302 either confirmed dead or missing out of 476 total passengers. 325 of the 476 were high school students. Two of the big items in the news cycle have been how the captain and crew were among the first to abandon ship after instructing everyone to stay in their rooms (wtf), and the shockingly incompetent response of the Korean government when the news broke. A lot of people probably could have been saved but weren’t and now, of course, fingers are being pointed.

I hate to admit this, but I’m really not shocked by the death toll which could have (should have) been much lower. For some hard-to-explain reason, it just seems so… “Korea”. I vaguely remember the 2003 Daegu subway fire (arson) that killed nearly 200 people where the conductor of one of the trains involved grabbed the master key and ran for his life. Weird coincidence that the Sewol captain did basically the same thing. The subway trains in Daegu were also ill-equipped for fire emergencies; apparently there weren’t any fire extinguishers onboard. The good news is that subway trains and buses now appear to be equipped for fires and, starting now, Korean passenger boats will probably be a lot safer as well. Are two similar but unrelated disasters enough to conclude that Korea is a place where the norm is reaction, not prevention? I dunno but, yeah probably.

For those interested, this Seoul National University professor sums up the Sewol disaster pretty well in an honest and heartbreaking essay.

posted by Michael in News on 4/23/2014 | No Comments

It’s the cat’s meow

This Snapseed app on my iPhone is the cat’s meow

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posted by Michael in Walking Terry on 3/30/2014 | No Comments

Mirror mirror, on the street

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posted by Michael in Walking Terry on 3/30/2014 | No Comments

Another true story

I’m at work and I just threw my underwear out the window!

Don’t ask.

posted by Michael in Whatever on 3/23/2014 | No Comments

A true story

Turtle was poking its head out. Turtle’s head popped off, somehow wound up on the floor. A few seconds later, it was stuck to the sole of my fake leather moccasin. Moccasin was saved by a toothpick, three wet wipes, and a Pine Sol shower.

Funny, I always figured if anyone was going to shit on my floor it would be Terry…

posted by Michael in Whatever on 3/17/2014 | No Comments

Plan Z: Old news, semi-new news, and how I feel about teaching kindergarten

OLD NEWS
So… 
Plan Z. The first step in Plan Z was to get my TESOL certificate. Done. The second step was to enroll in grad school to get a master’s in TESOL. Well, I applied back in October, and the dicks at Sookmyung rejected me! Something about me being too dumb or looking too dumb or talking like a dumb person, I dunno. So Plan Z shifted to reapplying for the MA program in March, which would have meant starting classes in the fall, and during that time I’d be teaching at a school somewhere.

Well, I revised Plan Z again when The Princeton Review Korea (TPR) offered me a job teaching “Business English”. The work hours conflicted with my plan to start attending classes in the fall, but I figured a one-year contract with The Princeton Review would be good experience and look nice on the resumé. So they hired me, I signed their contract, and started attending training. Super! Until two days into training when they called and said “we’re a bunch of jackasses and can’t accurately gauge our own staffing needs, so you’re fired.” Ok they didn’t really say that, but that’s what I heard.

SEMI-NEW NEWS
A few days later, on the Friday before the first week of the Korean spring school semester, I suddenly had a Skype interview with a franchise branch of a very big hagwon that shall remain unnamed on LIK for as long as I’m working for them, and I started work on the following Monday. I’ve been there for a full two weeks now and… surprise! …they haven’t fired me yet. Apparently they actually needed a teacher when they hired me. This job also conflicts with grad school but, after being un-hired by the dicks at TPR, I was so fed up with job hunting that I just said F it I’ll take the job. I still want the master’s degree but if it has to wait then it has to wait.

HOW I FEEL ABOUT TEACHING KINDERGARTEN
So I teach kindergarten children in the morning. KINDERGARTEN. These are kids who have snack time and cry because they miss their mommies. Do I hate it? Shockingly, no. I’ve always assumed that children that young would really drive me up the fucking wall, but they’re just too young to deliberately piss me off and the class material is too easy for any teacher to really screw up, plus they’re so goddam cute it’s hard to really lose my shit with them. I raise my voice quite a bit out of basic necessity (as opposed to unbridled rage) but it’s a relatively low-stress experience.

My afternoon classes are “older” students who range from elementary school to middle school students. These are the students who really test my fucking patience. Most of them know when to shut their faces, but a select few seem to think they’re so interesting and hilarious that shutting up would be akin to cheating their classmates out of something truly special. In other words, they’re just like I was at that age. Assholes!

Anyway, that’s where Plan Z is. Grad school is delayed a year and I spend my days publicly shaming children who openly pick their noses in class. Sometimes I even teach them English! And just for the record, I think that TESOL certificate really helped me in the job hunt. The idiots at TPR may not know what they’re doing, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have thought I was worth hiring without my very legit TESOL certification (because the rest of my resumé is shit). And the job I currently have, same thing… they contacted me, I didn’t contact them. Granted, their desperation was evident in the fact that they Skyped me like three days before I started working, but my resumé has been out there for a while and nobody ever approached me with job offers before I did TESOL, so I guess that was $2,300 well spent. Assuming I don’t get un-hired again, that is.

One of my morning students, clearly enthralled with the day’s lesson

posted by Michael in Whatever on 3/15/2014 | No Comments

Needles in my foot

Every once in a great while, my right foot decides to sprain itself. It just starts to hurt like a motherfucker for no reason and even swells up like I actually did something to it. It happened a couple years ago and I iced it and just limped around for a few days until it magically healed itself, but when it happened again a month ago I decided to try and fix it with acupuncture. It worked! The pain was more or less gone by the next day, and the day after that it came back a little, but then it went away for good. And it was pretty cheap, about $25 without insurance. If I’d had insurance it would have been more like $8.

The process was slightly uncomfortable but the discomfort was mostly from a heat lamp, not the needles. I went to some “eastern medicine” place down the street (한의원) where they did three things:

1. They wrapped my legs in these things that acted like giant blood pressure cuffs. A section on each of my legs would get the squeeze, then another section, then another. It was kind of like a massage with a heat lamp hanging over my legs. I liked it.

2. They wrapped my foot in some heavy canvas thing and cooked the shit out of it under a heat lamp. It got really hot, so much so that I thought about calling someone over to turn it down. But I didn’t. I just let my foot roast.

3. The doctor came in and stuck needles in my foot and ankle. She would place a needle on my skin and then flick it, and then the needle just stayed there. I felt a couple of pinches but nothing really painful.

The next time my ankle decides to fuck with me, I’m gonna limp straight to the acupuncture place.

posted by Michael in Whatever on 3/8/2014 | No Comments

I don’t do dishes often, but when I do… I do them really, really fast

posted by Michael in Whatever on 12/18/2013 | No Comments

I’m not as dumb as you look

TESOL is finally over! 16 weeks of theory, lesson planning, paper-writing, “self-reflection”, and excruciatingly painful homework assignments, over. This class was all about teaching me how to teach, and a good portion of it concerned theories in “second language acquisition” that attempt to explain how people learn language #2. It was a really tough class (three classes, actually) but it was definitely worthwhile and the people who said that it wouldn’t make me a better teacher are fucking stupid. This was 16 Saturdays of hardcore, graduate-level stuff and it was mucho difficult but I think it’s paid off and now, assuming I get accepted into the MA program, I’ll be starting grad school with a 3.7 GPA since that’s the grade I got in TESOL. That’s right, I GOT AN A. Well, I really got an A-, but it’s still an A.

I was a shitty teacher before taking the class, and now I’d say I’m much less shitty. And there’s also the added benefit of having met a bunch of people who might be sources of jobs or whatever in the future. I think they call that “networking.”

posted by Michael in Whatever on 12/16/2013 | No Comments

North Korean classical guitar toddlers

It’s pretty hard to say anything to this but HOLY CRAP. These kids (~4-5 years old?) are North Korean. Totally insane. I have to confess that I came across this video while I was procrastinating on TESOL homework by watching videos of North Korean female soldiers marching around in lockstep which is also insane but in a totally different way.

AND HERE’S ANOTHER ONE:

Ok I can’t resist, here are the marching girls. The actual marching starts at about 0:51. I admit to asking myself if any of those guns have bullets in them and then I wondered if they can even afford bullets…

posted by Michael in Whatever on 11/18/2013 | No Comments