Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Teacher training, day 2

It's Tuesday night, and I'm in a dorm room, chatting with 1 of my 2 roommates. He's also named Sean. He runs a lot. And eats.

The conference is going fairly well. It's about half as boring as I thought it would be... well, now that I think of it, that's an incredibly pessimistic statement. What I had meant to say was... it's twice as exciting as I thought it would be! =) Yeah, that's the ticket.

You know, I hear that zero times two is still zero. Since when? That's what I want to know...

Let's see -- we've had talks on teaching philosophy, classroom management, team teaching, contract issues... wow. Ha, it sounds boring when I just type those words in that order. Let's rethink this thing, huh?

Tonight we got placed into groups of three, and we practiced doing our teaching demonstrations. In a nutshell, we chose from a list of topics (we got "How Many Cows?" from the 3rd grade textbook) and we have to prepare a simulated lesson. Well, part of one: we've got 10 minutes and we have to incorporate certain elements from this checklist. So we need an attention-grabbing hook, a brief synopsis of the elements to be covered (in this case, plurals vs. singular), a quick demonstration of the material (Sarah, the most artistically-inclined of the three of us, drew cows on a paper -- 1 cow, 2 cows, 3 cows... whoo-ee!), and then an interactive group activity, followed by a quick evaluative activity to make sure they got it. In 10 minutes, mind you. So we each have a role -- Sarah is playing the foreign teacher, I'm the native Korean teacher (yeah, that's right... annyeong haseyo, bitches) and Eulla (who is actually Korean, by the way) is our average 3rd grade Korean student who speaks very little English. We've decided to break them up into groups, assign each group an animal... well, technically the students will pick their favorite animals, but Eulla is going to speak in Korean and I'm going to "translate" for Sarah to make sure we get fun ones. Anyway, then I'll assign each group an animal. Also, (ha... this story sucks -- sorry for all the backtracking and shit but I didn't plan it out very well) our "students" are actually 30 other foreign teachers. We're going to have them stand up one group at a time and pretend to be the animals we've assigned. We're gonna have monkeys, elephants, tigers, and alligators. And then when the monkeys are standing up pretending to be monkeys, they'll ask the rest of the class "How many monkeys are there?" and the first group to get the right answer (in full sentence form -- "There are 7 monkeyS." gets a point. Yeah... good times, I tells ya.

Anyway, this is really my first attempt at lesson planning. It's rough. I kinda suck at it, to be honest, but probably with a wee bit of practice it'll get better, and easier.

Fun story of the conference so far. They told us that we're not allowed to drink alcohol on the premises. They also suggested that we not leave. Now, this wasn't really an issue for me, but several people (who aren't me -- I swear) had a huge problem with this, and made an earnest effort to find the closest bar last night and stick it to the man. So, I ain't tryin to be all anti-social and shit, so I tagged along. Wait, what? I was one of the first people out the door, you say? Pshaw... you don't know. You weren't there... =Þ But anyway, we had to walk for about 20 minutes, but sure enough... paydirt. Tok's. Bar. Beer. Yes. Unfortunately, they didn't see all of us crazy waegookin coming, and they failed to stock the necessary provisions. So about two hours later, we came to a sobering (ha! get it?) realization. We had floated the entire bar. No more draft beer, no more bottles. They did still have liquor, but we weren't about to go down that road... so we rolled out and decided to hit up the noraebang down the street. Emily was right: that is a whole different ballgame with drunk Westerners, compared with drunk Koreans. I guess we were a little too rowdy (and also brought in a little too much smuggled booze from the corner store) because after about an hour of singing the owner came in and told us to leave or he was calling the cops. So, uh... haha. Yeah, ballgame over. The visiting team forfeits. Please clear the aisles and have a safe drive, folks. We hopped on a bus and back here we came. The funny thing is, we got back before midnight and didn't even really have the chance to drink that much... but a fun night, nonetheless. Tomorrow I gotta be on my game with this presentation so I decided to stay in and keep it chill tonight. Tomorrow night though, it's on like Donkey Kong.

Alright -- it's just now turning midnight so I've got to get to sleep before I turn into a glass slipper or whatever. Annyeong-hi gaseyo!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Four Days

My washing machine plays this song when it's finished. It's a strange little quirk; you know, not like the buzz and/or beep I'm used to. I mean, I guess it's a nice touch. It's overly happy though, like "Woo-hoo! Your laundry's done! Let's partay!!!" And it's actually ridiculously long, especially considering that it's a washing machine. I think the song has a couple verses, and maybe even a chorus. And the best part is that I always forget about it until I hear it. And I'm always like, what the hell is that? Where's this cheerful melody coming from?! And then it hits me. Duh, your appliances are serenading you with the dulcet tones of... well, something. I'm not sure why the joy though... I mean, I don't really like hanging up all that shit when it's done. Folding -- meh, no biggie. But the hanging up all the wet socks and sweatshirts and undershirts and whatnot... blech. Remember, no driers here; only washers. We use the air to dry things. It doesn't work that well.

Alright -- here's a quick Busan recap. Friday night, we got in around 10:30~, and couldn't get ahold of Latifah, the woman we were supposed to meet there. So we asked some younger folk at the subway station where we should go, and they told us Seolmyeon. So we went there. Talked to a really obnoxious Canadian guy who was absolutely in love with his own voice the whole damn time, so that subway ride lasted about 2 and a half hours, give or take. When we got off the subway, walked upstairs, we wandered for a bit before asking some more younger folk what would be a good bar to hit up. They pointed across the street and in we went. It was a definite Korean "bar," i.e. no bar to speak of. Only tables, so no intermingling of groups really. Long Life, I think it was called. The glasses were cool though -- more like vases really, and the tables all had little vase-shaped and -sized metal cupholders that were chilled from underneath, and had little glowing lights in them that changed colors constantly, like those fiber-optic Christmas trees. Anyway, cool effect with the beer foam glowing red and green and blue all night. We had to buy some anju (side dishes to go with the bar; mandatory in some Korean bars) so we had some ... actually, I've forgotten. I think there were potato wedges involved. Anyway, we ended up drinking till like 4:30 and then hit the jimjilbang.

Saturday was kind of a wash -- ate a boatload of food at Latifah's house and walked around some college-y neighborhood. Saturday night we went out in ... I'm blanking on the name ... maybe Kyeongseong? I might have just made that up. Em, wanna help me out here? Bars we went to that I remember the name of: Thursday Party. That's it. Sorry... it was another long night and I was just along for the ride, so yeah... we also happened upon a bar with live blues (all white guys, but pretty good), a bar with pool and darts (I played well, but lost to somebody else who played a bit better), a bar with a fire show (twirling flaming bottles, breathing fire, that sort of thing), a dance club, and a bar with a miniature movie theater in it. Well, a room with a big flatscreen, surround sound, and couches anyway. Now that I think of it, there are some pretty awesome bars there! Huh, how bout that! =) I wonder what my odds are of ever finding any of those places again... Oh! Fun Busan fact -- Jill hurled at the end of the night... ha ha.

So the DMZ thing isn't happening this weekend. I failed to pay/book my trip in time and they filled up. So that's on hold for now, but I'm definitely doing it at some point.

Also, on Monday I have to go to Yongin for a 4-GD-day teachers orientation. If some of you are saying "Orientation?! But you've been there over four months already!" I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you. 4 days. Of listening to Koreans talk about teaching English. If I had any hope of them providing useful, practical information that could help me be a better teacher, I'd be all about it. Unfortunately, that's not really their MO. Or maybe it is, and it'll be great.

Catch the sarcasm there, right in that last bit? Yeah, you caught it.

So, I'm taking my laptop with me; the wireless internet here really is a wonder of the world. I should be able to provide up-to-the-minute late-breaking coverage of this whole fiasco. I know you're all on tenterhooks to hear exactly what happens when it happens at a 4-day Korean foreign teachers orientation. Did I mention I have to be there for 4 days? Not sure if I did. 4 days.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I got to thinking today...

about one of the things I miss most about America. You know, besides my family, friends, puppy, and all that other important stuff.

Buffets. I'm told they have them here, but I just can't see them being nearly as good as they are back home. I mean, come on, you can't top a solid all-you-can-eat Chinese food buffet, am I right? And when I was living in Marion before I came over here, I rediscovered the glory that is Western Sizzlin. This isn't the famed Sizzler, mind you, and I don't think I've ever even been to (or seen) an actual "Sizzler," but this has gotta be about the same thing. So here's a list (surprise, surprise) of my favorite buffets in the States.

Western Sizzlin -- when you can pay 12 bucks for a steak with steak fries and a roll, and add on a whole other all-you-can-eat extravaganza for like 3 bucks, that's good livin. Fried chickin, dumplings, meat loaf, spaghetti, salad and desert on top of a full dinner = America. Love it.

Walt's -- nuff said, frankly. If you haven't been there, you don't know what you're missing. If you have, I'm preaching to the choir. I'd give my left pinky for Walt's. Right now, especially, but this is more a general truth.

Cici's -- what is it up to now? Like, 5 bucks? Plus, you can ask them to make any pizza you want and they'll bring it right to your table, instead of throwing it on the bar. Brilliant. Quality not so good, but you can't beat the price.

Pancho's? -- I think that's what it's called. It's in Houston, so you know it's at least decent Tex-Mex, but you get to raise the little flag on the table when you're ready for more, and they'll come around to find out what you want more of. Plus, their sopapillas kick ass.

Nong Chen -- I have vivid memories of going here during marching camp in high school. For some reason, we always thought it was a good idea to pour 3 pounds of greasy Chinese food into the middle of a day spent marching outside in 100+ degree heat. We were always wrong. But that never stopped us.

Reza's -- I tried to take as many of you here as possible in Chicago. It was about 100 yards from my place in Chicago, and their food is simply amazing. Persian food = win. But I'm not sure if any us made it to their Sunday brunch buffet. It cost like 20 bucks, but you could stay there all day, sitting on a couch, watching football on the big screen by the bar, drinking and eating to your heart's content. And with chicken, lamb, beef, seafood... plus all the veggie dishes and couscous, just wow!

This one, although not technically a buffet, merits honorable mention nonetheless: Lambert's in Sikeston Missouri. The Home of Throwed Rolls. Like I said, not a buffet, but it's still all-you-can-eat, so I don't see how that matters. What you lose in choice, you make up for (and more) in sheer home-cookin deliciousness. My personal favorite was the chicken-fried steak, but when you factor in the mashed potatoes, corn, fried okra, macaroni-and-tomatoes... I could go on, but I'm driving myself crazy. Super bonus points: they really do wheel the rolls hot out of the kitchen on a cart and throw them to you from across the dining room. Then they bring around real molasses and drizzle it onto the roll for you. Adam and I used to make it a point to go there on each and every trip between Marion and Houston. I remember once making a conscious and rational decision to "eat until I die," the food's so damn good.

2nd honorable mention: Primo's Pizza, formerly known as Panterra's. My grandpa owned this, so it's got a special place in my heart. Used to do awesome desert pizzas, if I remember correctly. They closed up shop when I was about 12 or 13, so I'm a little hazy, but I've got many a fond memory of the place. Especially the game room. =)

Hmmm.... here's 10 things I will always do at a buffet, given the opportunity.
  • Eat a piece of veggie pizza. Because I can. And because you gotta break up all that grease somehow.
  • Get chocolate pudding. I freakin love chocolate pudding, and where else you gonna find this anymore? Snack packs? Please... the buffet pudding (for some reason, maybe it's the soup/salad bowl you have to eat it from) always reminds of me of Gran's house, when she used to make it herself. So much better!
  • Try one of everything. This always leads to a lot of foods (especially at the Chinese places, where you end up with 4 different "brown" sauces covering a big greasy pile of random fried rice and fried meats) tasting like each other. Of course, since they all started out tasting like "good" then it's no biggie.
  • Make my own bowl of ice cream with every topping they have. Chocolate, strawberry, and caramel sauces? Check. Gummy Bears? Oreos? Chopped walnuts? Check, check, and checkmate. Chocolate chips, sprinkles, M&M's? Bring it on. I've got nothing to lose... except my waistline. But God knows your dignity is long gone by the time you start contemplating dessert at a buffet.
  • Forgo the soup. Useless, in general. All that liquid is too filling, and doesn't carry nearly the flavor:volume ratio as everything else.
  • Put hard-boiled eggs on a salad. I just will. Salad doesn't take up any space anyway, right?
  • Eat croutons, crackers (but not just any crackers. I like the buttery rectangular ones whose name I'm blanking on at the moment), and a roll. Because if I'm at a buffet, I obviously am carbo-loading for that marathon I'm running in a couple days. Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • Run the flag up, or flip over the coaster to green, or whatever you have to do to get them to come by... at least once just for the hell of it. Maybe I'll ask for more water. Maybe not. I'm crazy, bitches.
  • Point at the jello and giggle. Come on, pudding rocks no matter how old you are, but what's the point of the jello? Seriously.
  • Eat not to the point of fullness, but to the point of uncomfortable dread. You know, when you finish eating, and yeah, you're really full. You're full enough that you start thinking even as you push your chair back and contemplate loosening your belt right there at the table, you start thinking damn. This is gonna suck later.
Yeah, safe to say I miss buffets. Oh well... only 7.5 more months! Then Walt's/Sizzlin/Cici's/Pancho's/random Chinese place -- here I come. Get ready.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

May I have your attention please?

It is snowing.

That is all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lazy weekend

I'm right smack dab in the middle of one. Actually, technically speaking, I guess I'm coming to the end of it, but it was awesome. Friday I cooked dinner for Mi Sun and Mi Jin, the two girls I work with who are around my age -- I figured, maybe they get tired of eating Korean food all the time, so I'd cook them a hometown favorite, Mom's spaghetti. It turned out pretty good... we had a nice little lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes, onions, and vinegar and oil dressing. They were really confused by the vinegar, apparently Koreans don't really use it for anything except pickling. Then, spaghetti with meat sauce and three-color pasta from Italy, "espinaca e tomate" I think it's called, red wine... yum. And strawberries for desert. The strawberries here are freakin fantastic. Big and juicy and not too sweet... mm-mm-mmmm... So we hung out and listened to music for a while and just had a chill evening.

Yesterday Jill came over and we cooked again... I had leftover ground meat from before and a bit of sauce and noodles left, so we made more spaghetti. And more salad, and more strawberries. And it was good. Then we watched some episodes of The Office and called it a night. Today, I slept in, made myself an omelet with the veggies I had leftover (red pepper, onion, mushroom, zucchini, and broccoli) and I've done exactly nothing since then. Watched the Korea-Venezuela game from the World Baseball Classic (Korea won -- heading to the finals! America plays Japan tomorrow... well, Sunday night in the States). And uh... yeah. That's it. Now I'm blogging. =)

I did learn a useful Korean word this weekend: kwen-chan-ah-yo. It means... lots of things, actually. "That's ok," "that's alright," "don't worry about it," etc. Also, "Are you ok?" "Is something wrong?" "Are you hurt?" "I'm fine," and more things, I think, that I can't remember now. It's a good one.

Also -- did a bit of cleaning/organizing/rearranging recently. It occured to me that I've always had a nightstand, bedside table, what have you... until now. I had kinda wondered why that pile of crap next to my bed would never really get cleaned... books, shoulder bag, cell phone, charger, papers, keys, coins, all that junk that gets taken out of your pocket or your bag when you lay down. And then, after 3 months mind you, I finally realized: Huh... something's missing here. So, I look around a bit, you know, take stock of my surroundings, and realize that my desk came with a filing cabinet that has to this point gone completely unused. So I found (after a ridiculously long search considering the size of my apartment) the key that would unlock the drawers, filled it with all kinds of miscellany, and carried/dragged it over next to my bed. Then, naturally, I realized it has 2 wheels in the back, and feet only on the front. Would have made things much easier, as would dragging it first then filling it with stuff, but sometimes I ain't got a lot of common sense. Whatcha gonna do, right?

Ooh! I wore shorts and flipflops yesterday going to the market. That's always a freakin happy day, I gotta say! The first shorts/sandals day of spring, when you can walk outside without socks for the first time in months -- I guess, since Thailand for me, but the first time I've done it in Korea period. Naturally, it rained last night and now it's back down in the low 50's, but definitely a promising sign of things to come. Can't wait for warm weather! =)

Hmmm... oh yeah -- this Wednesday is payday! Nothing more really needs to be said about this, just "Awesome!" It's nice to watch the ole balance grow... like letting the big dog eat, ya know?

Going to Seoul and the DMZ next weekend, so look for pictures and stories next week. There are unfortunately no pictures from Busan last weekend. I didn't realize until we got there that my camera batteries were dead, and of course the charger was sitting purposefully on top of my fridge. I mean, that is his home and all, just not the most helpful place for him to be when I was several hours away and needing to take pictures. I could have used the cell phone, it was suggested to me. And while that's technically true, I don't have a way to get pictures from the phone onto a computer or any other easily viewable platform, so it would have been largely useless anyway. Next time, ya'll, next time...

So, teaching. It's a lesson in patience, and I think I was starting to fail that lesson by the end of it. But after a couple of months off, I now have 6 classes on Monday at school, followed by 5 sessions at the Global Center on Tuesday-Friday, along with 2 hourlong extra classes on Tuesday and again on Friday. Then I'm trying to go to the gym every day after work, and you're looking at 11 or 12 hour days. Plus my body still hasn't caught on that this is its reality now, so I'm still having trouble getting to sleep before about 12:30 or 1am... so yeah. All that combined, I was a little on edge come Friday afternoon. Don't worry -- I didn't beat any small children or anything. Just thought about it. A lot. As long as we stay in the preliminary planning stage though, I think we're good.

And that's my life. Thanks for sharing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Veni, vidi, bibi

So I guess I forgot what I was writing about before... and then just picked a bad time to take a little blog-break. Sorry if anyone was worried! (Thanks for your concern Amanda! Hope you're doin well!)

OK -- it's late and I'm tired... but I had a few things to say.

Momma -- Happy Birthday! I love you! =)

Emily -- Busan was nuts. I got really drunk. Hence the title of the post. It's a whole different world down there, yo. All kindsa white folks. Not sure I could handle living there though... but I definitely need to go back and try to actually do stuff, y'know, besides drink.

Shan -- congrats on your midterms! I'm proud of you! =)

Who else reads this thing anyway? Not sure, but I'm gonna take a few shots in the dark, here.

Adam -- how's Felicia doin man? Hope the uh, bun is cooking along just fine. Also, let me know how school's going and shit.

Stephanie -- Where you been, yo? I haven't heard from you in months! Hope you're doing ok...

Stu and Amanda -- diggin your blog as well. Keep it up... and give JJ a fist-bump for me. Right upside the head -- ha!

Julia -- Hi! I miss talkin to you -- find me on facebook sometime, yeah?

Everyone else -- Wazzzzuuuuppp?!

OK, that's it. I feel better. Pain is gone. I'm back to working out everyday, classes started for real this week, and uh... I'm exhausted. Good night!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One more fun update

On my extra classes. You know, the ones that were on, then off, then on again, then my prospective co-teacher (the new librarian) quit, then I was going to have a guy from the military base come over to co-teach with me, now may be cancelled due to lack of interest. Like Scrubs. Ha!

Anyway, ever since skiing on Sunday I've been having this weird throbbing shooting sensation in the back of my head. It's on the left side, about an inch behind the top of my ear. I hesitate to call it a "pain," even, because it's about a 1 on the pain scale. It's just really strange, and sometimes it seems to connect down my neck to this point on top of my shoulder. It's been happening fairly frequently, especially when I'm just sitting still. Like now. Maybe every 10 minutes or so, I just get this weird little throb. Also, the skin on that side of my head and neck seems to be way too sensitive. Like, the collar of my dress shirt was driving my nuts today! So bizarre... I hope it's just like, a pinched nerve or something that's causing all the surrounding nerve endings to go crazy. I dunno, but no likey...

So, I got invited to go to on the DMZ tour in a couple weeks. That's De-Militarized Zone, for all you out-of-the-know types. It sits on the 38 parallel, which is the border that was formed between North and South Korea during the Korean War. I'm not really sure what the point of it is, but everyone seems to think it's a mandatory thing to do while I'm here, so gosh darnit, I'm doing it. Dammit! There's that pain again... I've been trying to stretch and relax those muscles up there, but I think this typing position is causing problems. I might have to cut this short.

OK, well, this isn't gonna work. I'm just going to have dinner and lie down I think... maybe not even in that order. What's for dinner, you ask? Spicy tuna with rice and veggies: I picked up some broccoli, zucchini, onions, green peppers and mushrooms at the market today, so I'm gonna have me a nice healthy green meal... and I'm awful excited about this. I'll be back as soon as I'm feeling up to it. Don't go away for good now! =)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Planning a wee trip this weekend

So, skiing was fun yesterday. Except I'm really sore today. We went to Konjiam Resort, instead of Jisan, where I went the past couple of times. It's pretty nice, and I believe I already mentioned it was free yesterday... hence the change in scenery. But the slopes are much longer and more difficult. I fell a few times, but nothing terrible. It was pretty steep and powdery, especially towards the top. Down near the bottom it got awful slushy -- it was flatter there, not to mention it was probably pushing 55 degrees. Or as they call it here, the teens. Stupid Celsius. But anyway, I was taking it pretty slow, so the falls were fairly gentle. But the longer slopes really give the ole legs a workout... and we skied for like 6 hours... so I, uh... forgot where this is going. I'm sore. Bottom line.

Funny (not funny-haha, but like, facepalm-funny) story: I got a different kind of boots this time: 4 buckles, 2 along the top leg-part, and 2 on the bottom foot-part. Great descriptions, right? Whatever. Anyway, I (apparently incorrectly) assumed that I needed to fasten all those buckles, you know, to keep them on my feet. Dumbass. So, about 30 seconds into my first run, I realize that I'm having an inordinately difficult time turning. I couldn't seem to get my feet to work properly, and my skis kept getting crossed and tangled up. I'm not describing this very well, but if you've skied you'll know what I'm talking about -- it happens to most every beginning skier, I'd imagine. So... I stopped and plopped my ass down in the snow and tried loosening the boot buckles a couple notches... this seemed to help and things got a little easier for me... until after a couple minutes of skiing I notice that I can't feel anything at all from about mid-calf on down. Now, keep in mind that skiing requires a good bit of feel in your lower body; you kinda need to make adjustments based on what you feel in your feet. Type of snow, slush, ruts from previous skiers, little bumps that can throw you off balance and send you cartwheeling head-over-heels sideways down a hill. But I couldn't feel a damn thing... well, I made it safely down the hill, but it took a long time. I get down there and tell (my co-teacher at the Global Center) Bo-Il that I can't feel my feet, and he says (all nonchalant-like, I might add) "Oh, you don't need to buckle them!" I was like, eh? Why do they have all these fancy-lookin doodads on them if I don't need to use them? Anyway, my feet were gone to the point that I was afraid I might lose them if I didn't do something, so (right before I got on the ski lift, mind you) I unbuckled everything and let those puppies breathe. Ahhhhhh... sweet relief. It was amazing how quickly feeling returned. Of course, the more astute among you may have already seen the problem with this. Anyone? Ha...

Yeah. I got into the real good part of that whole burning agonizing pins-and-needles-stabbing-the-holy-bejeezus-out-of-every-available-nerve-ending-with-tiny-knives-made-of-white-hot-fire sensation right about the time I needed to dismount the ski lift and ya know, rest all my weight on my feet. That was pleasant, lemme tell ya. But, after spending a couple minutes standing in a funny position waiting for full use of my legs to return, the skiing went much better. So I guess it's true -- you really don't need those buckles. Of course, the greatest unsolved mystery of our time then becomes, what the hell are they there for? Perhaps no one knows. Perhaps we'll never know...

Other than that, good day. Good skiing, beautiful weather, and then Jill made me some deonjeong jjigay for dinner. As far as I can tell, this is a soup made of bean paste, tofu, potatoes, onions, zucchini, some Koreany spices and a chile pepper. Served with rice. Deliciosity in a bowl, it turns out. So all's well that ends well. And no, my feet did not fall off. Chalk one up for my circulatory system. It takes a lickin and keeps on tickin.

Today I taught classes for the first time in several weeks. It was... meh. I'm working with a different co-teacher, and she wasn't nearly as well prepared as Mi Jin used to be. Maybe it was just 1st-day jitters, and she'll pick it up next week. I guess, seein as how I'm off all this week, I should probably offer to help with some lesson planning and stuff. I repeat, meh. It was nice hanging out with the kids again though. I kinda missed the little ankle-biters. Also, I think one of my 3rd graders has taken a shine to me... she told my co-teacher that she gets nervous speaking English with me, but wouldn't stop looking at me. Or smiling. And then she came up and gave me a hug after class... All together now: "AAAAWWWWWW! OMFG!!!!! That's so CUUUUUUTE!!!!111!!!1!" Yeah, I suppose teaching has its perks. =)

Also, Emily, maybe you can help me here. I'm going to Busan this weekend, but it's just a quick trip. Jill and I are going to visit her old roommate... so, if you had approximately 37 hours to spend in Busan, what would you do? I'll probably go back this summer sometime, so I don't need to pack everything in at once. Just hit me with the uh... not so summer dependent things. Yeah, that'll work! Thanks honey!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Websites I like...

Why? Because I can. And I'm bored... and I like making lists of things. So there. Nyah! =Þ

Before I get into that though... let's see. What's going on here? Oh, right... nothing at all. Well, I'm going skiing again tomorrow. So that's something. It's the last day of the season before they shut down the ski slopes, and it's free. I can't pass that up. I mean, I still have to pay to rent the equipment and all, but that's on sale too... so I've got a whole day of skiing for 15000Won.

But other than that, yeah. Nothing. So here's some websites I like, put into handy categories just for you:


Fark -- a useful yet hilarious news aggregator that I check at least once a day, and usually more. Basically, people submit news stories (or non-news stories) with new, more descriptive, way funnier headlines. Just check it out, you'll see what I mean. It also actually serves up a pretty thorough picture of what's going on in the realms of sports, business, politics, etc. A must-have, ++, would fark again.

Consumerist -- this site pushes consumer literacy, smart shopping, and just general fiscal well-being. It's also pretty damn funny, and a good place to figure out what scams are going on, which companies like to screw their customers over, and find tips for dealing with the realities of living through a recession. Again, I usually glance over this at least once a day.


ESPN -- a given, although I kind of hate their new website layout... if you need quick scores and recaps of games that you can't watch because you live on the other side of oblivion, this is the 1st place to go.

UH Cougars -- I gotta follow my Coogs...

St. Louis Cardinals -- see above, but substitute "Cards" for "Coogs."

Viva El Birdos -- awesome, in-depth analysis of the Cardinals, using lots of fancy "sabermetrics" and whatnot that I don't totally understand... but if you're looking to find a few hundred bigger sports geeks than me (don't know why you'd be looking for that, but I'm not one to judge) then you'll find it here..

Basketbawful -- an amusing take on each night's basketball action, with a separate section celebrating each night's "lacktion," or guys who literally don't do shit to help their teams.

Deadspin -- This site was way better when Will Leitch was in charge (he even let me write up a piece previewing the UH basketball team last year when it looked like they might make the NCAA tourney. They ended up not going, and the piece never ran, but he seemed like a cool guy.) Still not a bad blog, though.


Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pretty simple, really. Each day, they take a picture, usually from NASA I think, and put it on a website. Beautiful and informative. I like it.

Stuff White People Like -- Ashley turned me on to this, and it's pretty damned funny. And true. Sadly.

This Is Why You're Fat -- this is like low-budget, amateur midget inter-racial porn. But with food. And yes, sometimes I sit here on the internet and stare at pictures of American food. What?

Uni Watch -- I know, this is kinda gay... but whatever. Paul, the guy who started this site, is a really good writer, and I enjoy it. Sue me. Basically, he really delves into the mysteries and minutiae of athletics equipment and uniforms. It sounds really boring, like even to me right now as I type this, but for some reason, it's not.

Damn Interesting -- This site is damned interesting. No, I mean it. The writers (who have been taking quite a bit of time off lately to finish the publishing process of a book) do fairly in-depth essays about fascinating things that don't generally make it into the public consciousness. You can read about anterograde amnesia; Chelyabinsk-40, a Soviet nuclear program that caused way more damage than Chernobyl; a European plan to dam the Mediterranean sea and flood the Sahara; the Pepcon disaster; and lots more -- those are all on the first page. Anyway, I highly, highly recommend it.

Ok... I think that's about it for now. I mean, obviously there are other sites that I use all the time for a specific purpose, but those are the ones that I hit up just to see what they've got for me today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


We had a celebration dinner, welcoming the new teachers to our school. Out of 8 teachers (K-6 plus the English/music/art teacher) we replaced four of them. That's some hefty turnover, eh? Apparently, in Korea most teachers only stay at a school for 2 to 3 years before leaving and going to a different school. This seems needlessly complicated to me, but what do I know? I mean, in Marion, the elementary school teachers pretty much all stayed in those jobs until a) retirement or b) death. I thought that was the way of the world. How naive I am...

So we went out for dinner. Dinner, in this case, was duck. Delicious duck. Spicy, grilled, bite-sized duck pieces mixed with veggies and then you wrap it up in little lettuce leaves, throwed some grilled garlic and onion on it, and get down with it! Lemme hear ya say get down with it! Really, it's that good. Dinner, when you're out with Koreans, also involves lots of drinking. You have a few toasts before the meal, to kind of get the wheels in motion. You drink with the meal, get yourself up to cruising altitude. Then you pop the hatch open, strap on a 'chute and jump out the back screaming bloody murder while hurtling at terminal velocity and your mouth falls open and your cheeks start flapping in the wind. Shan, you know what I'm talkin about here... but I've lost the thread of my story. Oh, right, um, so the highlight of the dinner is after you eat and everyone is drinking. Believe it or not. But the custom is for younger people to go kneel down by an older person and offer them your shot glass. Then you pour them a shot. They drink it, then hand the glass back to you, pour you a shot, and you drink it. Keep in mind, there are about 15 older people at this dinner, with the school workers and Global Center teachers and principal and vice principal... maybe more like 20, even. Now, I didn't go through this ritual with all of them, but I did do it enough times that I'm not entirely sure how many times I did it, if that makes any sense.

After this bacchanalian extravaganza we bounced out and hit up the noraebang for awesome drunken renditions of really shitty Korean pop songs. And they somehow talked me into singing a Beatles song... the Beatles are really popular over here for some reason... I mean, I know they're popular everywhere, but like, even more so here. It's curious. See if you can guess the name of the song -- it's in this post, but not really.

So, I woke up feeling pretty craptacular this morning. I made some eggs, had some juice, brushed the kitty-litter taste out of my mouth and went to work, where I spent the day doing what I do everyday: nothing at all. At least until the 16th, when students will again begin showing up to the Global Center to learn about etiquette and English and such... oh, and it was shitty here today. Cold and rainy... no likey the spring in Korea. Although I'm told soon there will be cherry and peach blossoms everywhere and it will be glorious and there'll be angels singing and Robin's minstrels will be eaten and there will be much rejoicing. So we're lookin forward to that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snow, Shoes, Showers... and snowshowers. But not snowshoes.

But really, I don't have much to say today, so this'll be quick. I'm just trying to start that all-important regular posting thing, so that you'll get in the habit of coming here on a daily basis and bolster my self esteem.

First, it freaking snowed here today. I realize it's still technically winter, and I live in a climate that is roughly equal to Marion, Illinois, but for some reason I didn't expect that. I think the weekend of 50 degree sunny spring-like days threw me off. Of course, it's pretty common for Americans who move to another country to abandon common sense while at the same time taking on a set of wholly unrealistic and romantic expectations, but goddamn did that suck when I walked outside. I feel like a girl saying this, but I even had the wrong shoes on. What's up with that?

Second, and yes, I did just think of this, but apparently my feet are on the very upper end of the normal (read: commercially available) range here. Yup, I wear a 280. 280 what? I have no idea... millimeters? Hertz? Joules? I mean, come on... I'm no expert, but my feet don't look like two hundred and eighty anythings to me. But Korean shoes don't come any bigger than that. I mean, I'm sure you can find bigger shoes, you just have to do some searching, and probably find a western shop near an army base or something. For a reference point, all Koreans' feet are <= an American 10.5. Just thought you'd like to know. I haven't tried to buy any Korean pants yet, but I'm guessing based on my completely non-scientific research that it would be a stretch. Ha, get it? Stretch.

Third, the gym. It's a nice gym, it's got all the machines and free weights and cardio thingamajigs you could want. The treadmills even have TV's on them. Not the bikes or ellipticals or stair machines, but the treadmills do. They've got several squash courts, even. I've never played squash, but it looks awfully similar to racquetball, except it's played by Korean people and not pretentious white guys in headbands. Anyway, the one thing this gym is sorely lacking is a non-creepy shower situation. I'm not a big fan of being naked in front of people... well, scratch that. I'm not a big fan of being naked in front of random dudes. The locker room is just a small room with a door to the outside on one end and a door to the showers on the other. With naked guys walking around. This, how do I put this, is the highlight of the experience. The shower room looks just like prison. And I'm talking Shawshank-style, Andy-Dufresne-goin-nuts-with-a-rake, spend-a-month-in-the-hole prison. No walls, no screens, no curtains, no partitions of any kind. Just a narrow room with shower heads along each wall. Maybe I'm a prude, but that shower isn't nearly urgent enough, no matter how badly I might reek, that it can't wait for 20 minutes and the privacy of my own bathroom. I'm just sayin.

Monday, March 2, 2009

This is even funnier!

As an addendum to the funny extra class story from last Friday, in which I found out that I wouldn't be teaching them anymore because they had found someone that they wouldn't have to pay:

I now AM teaching extra classes again. W T F?!? I mean, come on, for the love of God. Make up your damn minds, and stop screwing with me. I almost lost it today when my coteacher told me that, all nonchalant and shit while we're eating lunch. It's ridiculous. I mean, I felt a little bad, because it's not his fault. But still... I shouldn't have to put up with this shit... right?

I even went back to the school after lunch and checked my contract, just to see if I do, in actuality, have to put up with this shit. Turns out, I'm contractually obligated to teach extra classes "at the request of Employer." Dammit.

On a lighter note, I had an awesome day skiing yesterday! This was a much smoother day than the snowboarding I had back in December. I was a little nervous, simply because I hadn't skied since like, I don't even know... 2003? Hm... Also, does that word look funny to anyone else, or is it just me? "Skied?" Really...? It looks like the past tense of "sky," like, I jumped really high yesterday. I got mad hops, yo! Anyway, it was good. I didn't even fall down... whoo-ee! And yeah, that is kind of an accomplishment for me... a whole day of skiing without doing something stupid and completely beyond my control. And I'm not sure why, but it seemed much easier than I remember it. Especially the whole turning, S-curvy down the slope thing. I don't remember being able to do that, but yesterday it was like second nature or something. It was almost a little creepy, all of a sudden having this knowledge and comfort level that I'm pretty sure wasn't there before. Maybe the snowboarding helped me to feel more balanced, and have better body control through the turns, I'm not sure. Also, it was like 50 degrees and sunny yesterday, so that made for a good time. I don't know how they keep that fake snow from melting, but whatever they're doing, kudos! I think I might go back next weekend and try to get a few more good runs in before they close up shop for the winter. Wish me luck! :)

Two of the sweetest words in the English language were heard for the first time in many moons this past week: "Play ball!" There's like this special tingly feeling in the air when you know that somewhere, no matter how many thousands of miles distant, large men getting paid millions of dollars are donning Cardinals uniforms and smacking little 5.25-ounce genuine rawhide spheres held together by 108 hand-sewn stitches of red thread into orbit. My days got a little brighter. Silly, I know, but true. I'll make sure to hit up a Korean baseball game this summer and see what, if anything, differs from the game we're all used to.