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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Apartment is Now Housing Two

So, Joleen arrived safely to Korea! Yee-haw! It's supposed to take 2.5 hours to get to the airport from Pyeongtaek, but it took me 3.5. I guess I was going through Seoul during rush hour. Bah. So Joleen had to wait for me for a while at the airport. Then it only took us about 2.25 hours to get back to Pyeongtaek. So that was good. Joleen was tired b/c she'd been up for almost 24 hours.

She came to school with me today (well, until about 2). So she met the 6th grade students who are currently in my English camp. It appeared that she had fun. My students also appeared to enjoy having another whitey in the room. I will force Joleen to write something about it later. She took some pictures of my school, so I can add them here later. Now she's out exploring my neighborhood while I'm stuck at school updating my blog. Efficient use of school time, eh? Not like I have anything else to do...

But I was pleased that Joleen thinks I'm doing a good job at the camp since I wasn't sure whether what I was doing was good or not. And I strive for Joleen's approval in educational assessment over anyone elses. :) Students are peaking at me through my classroom windows right now. "Hi! Yes, I'm a whitey!"

Welcome to South Korea
Where monkeys are taught to suh-kae-tuh

Eight-year-old monkey Gun-Mo skates on the ice during a promotional event for the 2006 Animal Academy show, which runs until February 10 in Seoul , January 24, 2006. The monkey was drilled to skate for two weeks, the animal trainer said. REUTERS/You Sung-Ho

Hey, Sunny- the guy who took this picture has the same name as you! Aside from the family name, that is...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

T Minus 5 Hours and Counting 'Till I See Joleen!

Ok, I'm reading the news, and there's this article that I found really funny, for whatever reason. It's about this author who wrote a book criticizing US foreign policy (he is American). I guess the sales of his book sky-rocketed after an 'endorsement' by Osama Bin Laden in an audiotape of him that was released Thursday. According to the article:

Bin Laden said al Qaeda group was preparing more attacks in the United States but also told Americans, "It is useful for you to read the book 'The Rogue State.'"

Just imagining Osama sittin' around reading the book was funny enough, but then to suggest it to others was really funny to me. I feel like you could have a really funny SNL skit made out of this. I'm now imagining him giving a little teaser on the plot, but ending the 'book report' with, "But don't take my word for it! Check it out at your local library or purchase it at your closest bookseller!" Yeah...

I think I might leave school soon as I got permission to leave early; I just don't know how early. So I might just go now and if for some reason I get in trouble I'll claim ignorance. Sounds like a plan.

Monday, January 23, 2006

T Minus 30 Hours and Counting Until I See Joleen!

I'll probably ball like a baby when I see her. Maybe she can write some featured guest posts in my blog while she's here; give a newbie's perspective on SoKo since I'm sure there are lots of interesting things to mention that I just don't realize anymore. Maybe in the coming weeks I'll also post from Thailand. I'm not sure what the prevalance of Internet cafes will be in Thailand, but apparently they're all over Vietnam and Cambodia so you'd think there'd be ones in Thailand. I guess I'll find out.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Where Have You Been?

I did my best on this, but there are some states that I may have driven through that I don't remember; also, I may have thought I've driven through some when I really haven't. Mom (or anyone else, really), if you can correct anything, let me know. I had a layover in Detroit once so I'm counting Michigan. That's kinda cheap, but hey. I was there.

the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

If You're a Million/Billionaire, Please Donate To (Good) Charities
Read: Not to any organization Charleton Heston is in charge of, or that crazy preacher who pickets gay people's funerals with signs that say "Glad you're in Hell", etc.

From an AP article: “President Bush hailed Martin Luther King Jr. Monday as one of the greatest Americans who ever lived, but said more must be done to ensure that his dream of equality becomes a reality.” But remember, this dream does not include homos.

Ok, I’ve been mildly obsessed with reading about HIV/AIDS drugs recently. I learned about them in my South Africa seminar class last semester, but I unfortunately can’t remember any details. I do remember learning something about how American companies hold the patent for certain HIV/AIDS drugs (I think the US government holds the patent for some). Because they hold the patent, other countries/manufacturers can’t make these drugs. However, there are other countries (notably India) who are offering and are capable of making these drugs and selling them at a far cheaper price than the US companies...but they’re not allowed to. Doesn’t this seem incredibly wrong when we’re dealing with a horrible disease that’s ravishing impoverished countries that can’t afford the exorbitantly priced medication? These US companies do sell the drugs to African countries at a cheaper price than they do in the US, but it’s still very expensive. I understand the argument about needing to make a profit in order to further research making new drugs, but come on. This is HIV/AIDS we’re talking about. And you’re making a killing.

But then I was reading more stuff on this topic and got confused as to how this patent law really works. But however you look at it, African countries are getting screwed. Right now India is selling cheap drugs because they had different laws. But when they joined the WTO, they were told that they had to change their patent laws by...sometime around now...so now they won’t be able to do what they’re currently doing. Wow, I sound like an idiot. Fyi, I know that I don’t have the best or most accurate info here. If you know more and wish to share it with me, go on ahead. Anyway, there’s a lot more that bothers me about this topic, but I can’t think clearly about it right now and my bookmarked internet pages are at home, not here at school.

And I do understand that curing all diseases is not necessarily a good thing. It’d wreak havoc upon the earth population-wise and resource-wise.

Anyway, I got to thinking about this because of a BBC World news report I saw on Bill Clinton and his organization. I guess they just struck some kind of deal with some drug companies (I don’t think American ones, but maybe, I don’t remember) to provide HIV/AIDS drugs to African and Asian countries at a much cheaper rate. Then I thought about how much I missed Clinton. Then I read up on his organization and was happy that he’s doing good, charitable things. Then I got curious about Bill Gates and his organization (Bill Gates and his wife Melinda were named Time’s People of the Year along with Bono). He’s also done a lot for global health. He’s also absurdly rich, but he has apparently promised to give away nearly all his wealth before he dies. Yeah, to his family… ;)

Bill Gates is the richest person on the planet according to Forbes (he has a net worth of over $51 billion). I guess he has some competition from the Sultan of Brunei at times, however. Where exactly is Brunei? I guess if you live in Brunei you get free education and medical services and don’t pay taxes. Nice. Anyway, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of 28.8 billion dollars. So far (since it was founded in 2000) it’s given out more than 9 billion dollars worth of grants. It targets 4 areas: library computer upgrades; education grants (over 2.6 billion dollars in grants so far); global health, specifically in undeveloped countries (5.8 billion in grants); and money to the Pacific NW to help at-risk families in Oregon and Washington (over 506 milion).

Then for whatever reason I thought about Angelina Jolie. I used to really dislike her. I mean, she was weird. Let’s face it. Wearing a vial of blood around her neck? And her lips bothered me. But I guess she’s pretty cool what with all the work she does as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. And I guess she gives away 1/3 of her income to charities. She’s adopted 2 children, one from Cambodia and one from Ethiopia (Maddox and Sahara). I thought it was cute that Maddox (Cambodian) had said he wanted an African brother because of his love for Africa and his knowledge of Jolie’s work in Africa. Well, he got an African sister. I hope that’s close enough. But now I guess Jolie’s prenant with Mr. Pitt’s baby now. Another sibling for them.

I’d like to think that if I had millions of dollars I’d give lots of it away. And if I was famous I’d use my famousness to further good causes. Haha, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” just came on my iPod (no laughing...when you can quickly download large numbers of songs for free you’d be surprised with what you sink to downloading) and the lyrics seem appropriate at this moment: “If you want to make the world a better place then take a look at yourself and then make the change.”

I Should Try Naming One Of My Korean Students 'Conan'

Words cannot express how much I hate my computer setup at school. The monitor embedded under the desk is beyond annoying for numerous reasons. A) You can’t cross your legs or even push your chair in all the way because there’s a GIANT MONITOR in the way. 2) The plexi-glass has a crazy glare making it really hard to read the monitor screen. Plus, because you can’t wheel the chair close enough to the desk, so in order to see the bottom of the screen you have to lean forward in your chair and peer down. D) The keyboard is on one of those keyboard drawers that gets pulled out from under the desk top. But it doesn’t pull out enough, so the whole row of F function keys is hidden under the desk. Seriously, what moron designed this setup? And it’s not like it provides you with more desk space because you can’t exactly cover up the plexi-glass area...otherwise you couldn’t see the monitor screen. Besides, I find it highly unlikely that they’re concerned with desk space for me since they gave me the most gigantic printer on the planet. Seriously, it’s huge. And it sucks.

Coldplay came on my iPod just now. They are really good.

Is it a sign that you drink too much coffee when your urine smells like coffee? Was that sharing too much?

This week (and next week) I teach my English camp with the 6th grade English teacher at my school, not my co-teacher (since these 2 weeks are with 6th graders). It’s weird because she speaks a lot of Korean with the students. I’m used to my co-teacher refusing to speak any Korean and yelling at the students when they speak Korean. This teacher (Ms. Kwan) is talking in Korean all the time! It’s also harder for me to communicate with her because she doesn’t know English as well. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not bad at it, but we just have a lot more miscommunication. Huh. Not looking forward to finding out who my new co-teacher will be. But my current co-teacher told me that it will be a new teacher...as in new to teaching in general, not just new to the school. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.

So during my English camp I’ve let my students pick English names. I gave them a list with girl and boy names to choose from. Most of the names were the names of people I know (friends and family). During the first two weeks the best girl in each class picked the name Shannon. I also had multiple Brians, but one was Bryan, so he must have had that name before. I’ve had way more girls than boys in the camps...next week it’s all girls. Other names that have been chosen: Sarah (usually 1 Sarah in each week), Kevin, Peter, John, Riley, Brighton, Laura, Katie, and Candy. Popular Korean English names (English names Koreans like to pick) are Suzy, Sally and Judy. Joleen, I’ve tried to steer people to your name, but no takers. Which is interesting b/c it’s mildly Korean-ish sounding. Elizabeth, I think your name is just too hard for them to say (since the l, z, and th sounds are all weird to them). And the girls who chose Brighton and Riley say “Breeton” and “Liley.” Last week one boy chose the name Terminator (haha!), another was X-Man, and another chose the name “Cassiopeia.” That was funny to me. I have no idea how he thought of that one. He asked me how to spell it and I was like, "Shit, I don't know." But I guessed and then looked it up and I was right. Right on, man.

I had them fill out this sheet about themselves. I’d say 95% of them said their favorite movie was Harry Potter. One girl wrote that her favorite movie was Harry Potter and the Fire Cup. :) Popular favorite actors include Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Angelina Jolie...although I always have to tell them Harry Potter and Hermione’s real names.

I was going to post something about this article on yahoo that I found humorous, but then Liz talked about it in her blog. Then again, I’m sure there are people who read my blog and not hers, so I will talk about it. So there's an election in Finland and one of the runners looks like Conan (a girl). Here's a snippet form the article:

The redheaded late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien has been promoting President Tarja Halonen's re-election bid as part of a long-running joke about their supposed physical similarities. "Why do I support Tarja Halonen? Because she's got the total package: a dynamic personality, a quick mind, and most importantly -- my good looks," the comedian, whose show is broadcast on cable in Finland, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

In one show, O'Brien presented a mock ad for Halonen in which he and two Finns were discussing the election while fishing on a frozen lake. When they talk about rival candidate Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, a dead fish shoots out of the hole in the ice, prompting a joke about how the mere mention of his name causes fish to commit suicide.
"Fish recognize a bad leader," O'Brien says in broken Finnish to laughter from his studio crowd.

Take a look at their pictures...not a bad resemblance! Joleen, it reminds me of your senior yearbook and those two guys in it that look like a young Conan and a young Andy Richter. :D

There’s also a rise in popularity for this Chuck Norris 'facts' list thing. I have no feelings towards Chuck Norris personally, but I find many of these hilarious. I was reminded of this by an article in which Mr. Norris talked about these 'facts' and how he doesn’t really understand them (but thinks they are humorous). Here are some examples of a few Chuck Norris ‘facts’: Chuck Norris once ordered a Big Mac at Burger King and got one; When the Boogeyman goes to bed at night, he first checks his closet for Chuck Norris (Norris’ favorite, apparently); Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. Too bad he’s never cried; Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs; If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death; Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding; When Chuck Norris goes to donate blood, he declines the syringe, and instead requests a hand gun and a bucket; Chuck Norris can divide by zero. Anyway, those are just a few examples that I find funny. For more, visit...well, I was going to direct you to the original website (Chuck Norris Fact Generator or something) but I can’t find it right now. But if you do a google search you’ll find a bunch of sites with more of them.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

You Say 'Tomato', I Say 'Persimmon'

I'd just like to give an official public shout-out to both Candy and Liz. I got both your packages!! Thanks!! It's always very exciting getting packages...and enjoying the bounty hidden within. Yukon Cornelius! [Or is is UConn Cornelius? Haha!] And I love my chocolately foods...scrumpdilliumptious! Liz, I loved that you put "Toys" on the custom slip. My co-teacher said to me, "Dolls?" Haha! I was like, "I don't know. Probably not, but maybe!"

I don't think my heater is working right now. My feet are cold. Fyi, apartments in Korea are heated via the floor. Well, I just checked my boiler and it's on. Curious.

Previously, the only ramen (ramyen here) flavors I could find were 'spicy' and 'seafood.' The other day I found a new brand with a new flavor: 'hot.' :D :D Glad I like spicy food! I actually tolerate spicy food better than most Koreans, I think. I was eating some kimchi my co-teacher brought in to school and she kept eating it and freaking out over it's spiciness (and repeatedly saying how her mother-in-law made it). I ate some and yes, it was spicy, but not as spicy as many other things I like to eat.

I was in the produce section a week or two ago and was looking for tomatoes. I found what I thought were tomatoes and was appalled at the quality. They were practically yellow and were really hard. I didn't buy any. Later, I was wandering the produce section of a different place with my co-teacher (she had a penchant for fruit the other day while at school...and since we do nothing for 5 hours after noon we headed out to buy some). So it turns out that what I thought were tomatoes were not, in fact, tomatoes. They were persimmons. Haha, oops. I don't think I've ever seen a persimmon before. But now I've eaten quite a few of them and they're not bad. Although the ones I've eaten haven't been the ripest. Tomato in Korean is 'tomahto.' Persimmon is 'kam.' Fyi, the tomato is on the left and the persimmon is on the right.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Nuclear and/or Fire Scare at Sidae Hanuri

Ok, I had a very interesting, confusing, and slightly alarming night last night. So I wake up at 4am to the sound of sirens. I lay in bed and initially think that they're coming from an ambulance passing near my apartment. After a few minutes, however, I notice that the sound is not moving away. Perplexing. I also notice that it doesn't really sound like an ambulance. It actually sounded most like an air raid siren. However, I thought the odds that we were being nuked by North Korea was pretty low, so I promptly threw that hypothesis out. I then thought that it may be emanating from my apartment building. Ok, is my apartment building on fire? Should I evacuate?

I get out of bed and go out on my balcony thing and open the glass door. No one appears to be gathering outside. I go out into my hallway and look out the 'window' (it's actually a big hole...there's no glass installed so I don't think it could be called a window) on the other side of the apartment. No one is gathering out there, either. Wtf? I walk into the stairwell near the elevator and notice that the noise is significantly louder here and is definitely coming from within my building somewhere...and seems to be coming from a floor above me. Crap, what the hell is going on? I go back into my apartment.

On one hand, I'm not too alarmed because no one else in the building seems to be taking any notice of the noise (to my knowledge, anyway). Also, I think that if it was a fire they'd probably utilize the intercom system and make some sort of warning to everyone. On the other hand, what the hell is it??? It has to be something. And it's a not pleasant sounding loud noise/siren going off in the middle of the night so it can't be a good thing, can it??

So I decide to go outside to check things out. I put on my coat and as a precaution in case it is a fire I grab my wallet and passport. Don't want those to burn up in a fire! I decide that taking the elevator may not be the best option so I head down the stairs (remember: I'm on the 11th floor). I get to the 6th floor and notice the elevator moving and it stops on the 6th floor. It opens and a guy steps out. I look at him and say, "mo-at?" [what?...(I think)] He rambles something to me in Korean. I have no idea what he says. Another guy arrives on the scene. They talk. The second guy walks away and goes into what I presume is his apartment, not to be seen by me again. Ok, so he's not alarmed. I look at the first Korean guy and gesture "what?" again. He talks in Korean again but also mimicks sleeping and 'no.' I don't know if he means "don't go to sleep or you'll die" or "I couldn't sleep so I'm trying to figure out what the noise is." He then gets back into the elevator and goes down to the 1st floor.

At this point I just say, "screw it." It can't be that bad if no one seems too alarmed and people are still using the elevator. So I walk back up to my floor and go back into my apartment. A couple minutes later the noise stops. Huzzah!! Of course, it's now 4:30am and I'm not tired anymore. It took me a long time to fall back asleep and I slept croddy. I was really tired at school today. And to top it off I hate that there's no way to find out what the hell that was. Weird. I mentioned it to my co-teacher and she concurred that if it was a fire they'd use the intercom thing to yell at everyone. But anyway, I didn't burn to death or get bombed, so that was good.

Winter Artwork
By Emily's 5th Grade Korean English Camp Students

First, and most boring, I present to you the Wall(s) of Snowflakes. I've included my hand in one of the pictures for scale's sake. I don't know where I'll stick the 6th grade students' snowflakes for my next 2 weeks of camp...bulletin board space is now used up.

Now I would like to show a slew of pictures drawn by the students which include some of their winter vocabulary words. I have commented when I deemed it appropriate. The first three contain examples of the Korean red sun. And I like the igloo, personally. And the bog house.

I also think it's funny (although to be expected, really) that all the kids in the pictures have black hair, with the exception of a few kids whose hair is dyed brown. The next ones I just think are really pretty good. And I would just like to add that all snowmen that have a 3 snowballed body and a top hat only do so because I pointed out the difference (of Korean to American snowmen) to the students. So I wasn't a liar when I wrote what I wrote before!

This next picture has a lot of things worth commenting on in it. First of all, notice the 2 churches? Yes, there are a lot of churches in Korea. And they all have those crosses on top. And they're glowing neon red at night. There are also a crapload of 'PC Bangs' here (bang is pronounced like bong, as in what you'd smoke...if you were one who was so inclined to do so). PC Bangs are just like internet cafes. But I think they're primarily used for gaming purposes, not email. Koreans love computer games. There was a story a bit ago about a Korean guy who died in a PC Bang after spending something like 3 days in one...he never slept and hardly ate. He died of a heart attack. He was pretty young. They're pretty cheap, too...like $1-$2 an hour or something. But I've never been to one. Anyway, none of them (that I've seen) are shaped like flying computers, but it's nice to see them represented nonetheless. Then there's the Korean girl wearing a skirt...which I see frequently. Koreans are very fashion oriented and I've seen more than a few Korean chicks wearing little mini skirts freezing their arses off this winter. And one of the snowmen is wearing a prime example of the aforementioned "pail hat" that I've noticed Korean snowmen wearing...in pictures, that is. And the snowmen have eyebrows, which is new to me. The one with the pail looks pissed. The picture on the right is just a few snowmen hopped up on drugs. They made me laugh.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Winter English Camp
Or Why I Stopped Having Winter Vacation and Need to Work

When Korean kids draw and color suns in their pictures, they're always red. I need to bring a camera to school one day and take some pictures of some of their pictures. Some are quite funny.

Here's a tip for anyone who ever may have to teach new English vocabulary words to ESL (or EFL as they are in Korea) students: They friggin' love playing Go Fish! I think they could play it all day. I made some playing cards/flashcards of different winter words (with the picture and the written word) and had them play Go Fish! The next day I had them use the same cards but play a different game, but all throughout they just kept saying, "Teacher!! Go Fish!! Go Fish!!" Fine! Play Go Fish again. I don't care...as long as it takes up some time... :D Wow, what a great teacher I am.

The kids today were also obsessed with word searches. The kids in the first week of camp weren't too thrilled with them, but this week's kids ate it up. "More! More!" I'm glad there's a website to make them online because I quickly made up a big one and had a team word search race--the first team to find them all wins!! It was hilarious...6-7 heads all circled around one word search as they frantically searched for their words. One team totally kicked ass because a girl in the group does them in her free time. She actually had a word search book with her! It was actually quite impressive.

I also had them draw a picture and label all the winter words...for 5th graders a lot of them are really good! We also made paper snowflakes...which is kind of confusing to explain to kids when they don't know English very well. You always get the one kid who opens it up and it falls apart because they made one too many cuts in the wrong place. Then there's the other kid who opens theirs up and it's practically a solid square still. Haha...cut a few more chunks out there, kiddo... The kids last week got really into it and made some pretty awesome ones, including some really tiny ones. This week they weren't as enthused about it, but they did enjoy doing it. I guess they've never made them before. My co-teacher didn't know about them either.

Last week I had the kids play Red Rover and they loved it, but I couldn't get them to play it right. They'd all bunch up together and create a wall instead of a chain. Not a one single person managed to break through (except me, once). I kept trying to get them to seperate more, but it was not happening. I thought they'd think the game sucked because no one ever broke through, but they still loved it. They also really get into Bingo and this team speed spelling game/competition. Those games are coming up tomorrow.

I'm showing Home Alone on Friday...with Korean subtitles. I feel kind of bad having subtitles because then they're not really using English, but without subtitles they wouldn't understand anything. Hey, they're hearing English! And seeing American culture...And I'm lazy and just want to show a movie...

This week the principal's son is helping out with the English camp. I don't really know why. He's really nice...although his dad is an ass. I think his dad is making him because he has already failed his teacher licensing test thing twice. And the test has an English portion (and an English interview)...even if you're just going to be a homeroom teacher and not an English teacher. So this is supposed to be helping him with his English, maybe? I don't know if he's going to be here the next 2 weeks or not, but I hope not because it makes me more nervous and conscious of what I'm doing (as in, "Do the kids seem to be learning or just having fun?"). Because my general aim for these camps is more in the vein of, "Hey, let's have fun and play some games...by the way, I speak English!" I mean, they're learning some new vocabulary, but nothing hardcore. They can go to their hagwans (private academies after school) for that.

Monday, January 09, 2006

From Kimchi to Pat Robertson
Frightening, I know...

Ok, random kimchi info from a treasure trove of a website I just discovered. This website is full of great articles, many of which are so biases towards Korea it's quite funny. Anyway, I guess Korea has trademarked this kimchi cartoon character and there's a section in the website talking about kimchi. Anyway, here's a brief description of kimchi (from the website) for those of you who may not really know what it is: "Kimchi is a product that is fermented through lactic acid production at low temperatures to ensure proper ripening and preservation. It is processed with a seasoning mixture mainly consisting of red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, green onion and radish." It fails to mention that the main ingredient is cabbage (generally, although there are also other types including radish-based ones). But I guess the "AFMC developed kimchi character on June, 2000 to promote the excellency of Korean kimchi and to emphasize the difference from Japanese Kimuchi." Again, the competition with Japan... This is the website's description and explanation of the kimchi character: "Kimchi character is expressed as fermentation food that keeps health expressed with oval that symbolizes nature, environment and diet food, and personified kimchi, the traditional food of Korea with various nutritions as healthy food." Ok, what the hell is that supposed to mean?? That is a huge pet peeve I have here. There's English phrases all over the place that don't make any sense. Honestly, there are tons of people in Korea that would be able to proofread material and fix phrases that make no sense. Other than the thousands of native English speakers in the country, there are tons of Koreans who speak English at a fluent enough level to be able to correct crap like that. Such as my co-teacher. Why these companies don't hire someone to proof their crap, I don't know. It just makes them look a bit stupid.

I was just watching BBC World and they did a little news story on women in South Korea. It was kind of sad. South Korean women are among the best educated in the world, but lag way behind other developed nations in the job market. I can't remember all the stats now and the story doesn't seem to be online (as far as I can tell, BBCWorld is the crappiest and most useless website ever), but the gist of it is that while many women have college degrees (I think a bit more so than men) there is a much higher number of unemployed women versus men (of people with college degrees...although assuredly without as well). And their pay is a lot crappier, too. And they're not taken as seriously as men in their jobs (much of it probably tied to their culture where men are 'more important' than women). It sounds similar to the US (and probably the rest of the world) but I guess it's even more pronounced in Korea. The only job market where jobs for women is increasing is for women who dress up in skimpy clothes and sing and dance outside newly opened businesses, restaurants, and other random events. I've seen this a lot, actually. It's weird. I'm going to see if I can find a picture of them on google images. Ok, sadly I cannot as I really have no idea what search terms to input. Maybe if I remember I'll ask my co-teacher what those ladies are called. But anyway, it was a sad story on the status of women in Korea.

Korea has the 13th largest economy in the world. Not bad for a small country that was economically devastated during the Korean War and prior to that was colonized by the Japanese. Right now the strength of the won to the US dollar is at its highest in 8+ years. I took advantage of that recently and transfered some of my money from my Korean bank account into my US bank account. Which, by the way, was a very confusing process and I have no idea how it ended up working...but it did, so yay for me.

I was totally ignorant of the fact that the Olympics were coming up. I wonder how much I'll get to see here...in English. I guess that depends on how much coverage AFN gives it. And BBC World. Haha, I just went to the Olympic website and saw that one of the cities Turin beat out for this year's Olympics was Klagenfurt, Austria. Which, for those of you who aren't Badger basketball fanatics, is the hometown of Andreas Helmigk...who used to be a Badger basketball player. Anyway, I see that Pyeongchang, South Korea (located in Gangwon-do province which is directly to the right of Gyeonggi-do) is making a bid for the 2014 Olympics. Good luck.

Wow, Cheney's medical history is alarming. Four heart attacks, a quadruple bipass, two angioplasties, and an implanted pacemaker. And that's not including his non-heart related stuff. I don't really have anything to add to this, I just was suprised by it when reading an article about him being admitted to the hospital after having 'shortness of breath.'

Pat Robertson is a friggin' freak. He said that Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land." He also said, “God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says ‘This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.”’ Psycho! He's made many other freaky statements before, such as: After a city in Dover, Pennsylvania voted not to teach 'intelligent design' in their schools he told them, "If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city." He also called Islam "a scam...not a peaceful religion that wants to coexist." Yeah, like you're all about the coexistance of different religions. It pretty much seems to me that you're all about Christianity and only Christianity. Regarding Orlando flying gay pride flags he said, "...a condition like this will bring about earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor." That is quite honestly one of the most hilarious things I've ever heard in its absurdity. 'And possibly a meteor...' HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! Man, that guy is a piece of work. Speaking of conservative guys that I think are moronically stupid, how about Bill O'Reilly? He was recently on Letterman and Letterman ended up telling O'Reilly that he thinks "about 60% of what you say is crap." Yeah, try 90%. The Daily Show had this hilarious video of him. In sum, he states that there's no way non-Christians can be offended by 'two little words' (Merry Christmas). He then immediately states that saying 'Happy Holidays' or 'Season's Greetings' is offensive to Christians. Wtf???? Seriously, does he not see the hypocrisy in this 'logic'? Sometimes I seriously wonder how gene lines that stupid survived the evolutionary process. Oh wait, evolution isn't true, never mind. :D

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

And Now For Something a Little Different
...or maybe just some random comments.

Korean snowmen are only made from 2 huge snowballs, not 3. My co-teacher and I discussed this and her explanation was this: “Koreans are short.” They also strictly stick to winter hats. They choose not to don top hats. Although I have seen a few that appear to be wearing hats that could also double as metal pails. And they always wear scarves.

Whenever I say the word ‘family’ in class, my students parrot back, “Emily!” Not because the words are related in any way or that they consider me family…simply because they sound the same to them. They also can’t tell the difference between ‘dad’ and ‘dead’. After enunciating the different vowel sounds numerous times to help them hear the difference, I became horrified by the ‘a’ sound I was making for ‘dad’. I sounded like Fran Drescher.

I saw King Kong a while back. I actually think I may have seen it on opening day (for the US as well as Korea). It was enjoyable enough as long as you find the over-the-topness humorous and not simply insanely unbelievable. It was a very pretty movie. Adrian Brody is weird. King Kong obviously never received the “don’t shake the baby” memo.

Weird thing overheard at school: I was sitting at my desk. A student runs by my room in the hallway singing the early 90s dance hit, “Everybody dance now!” A 5th grade Korean student singing that song…I was not expecting that one. This song also makes me laugh because way back in the day when it was popular my mom mis-sung the lyrics and said instead, “Everybody sit down!” Funny stuff.

I’ve also heard a large number of my students ‘singing’ that really annoying ditty that used to be played on a commercial in Madison (possible nation-wide, I don’t recall). It’s hard to explain since there are no words; it’s just an annoying sound. I would write it as thus: “Wah-wah, wah-wah-wah! Wah-wah! Wah-wah-wah!” Over and over again. I think it was a commercial for some sort of internet service. And it was super loud. You’d leave the room during a commercial break and wouldn’t hear any commercials until that came on and it’d be crystal clear.

On Saturdays my co-teacher has to go into school. Sometimes she teaches a few classes. A couple of weeks ago she played some Christmas songs for a class form a cd I had burned of Christmas songs and brought in. I walked in the classroom the next Monday and see written on the board, “Last Christmas I gave you my heart. But the very next day you gave it away. This year I’ll send it from tears, I’ll give it to someone special.” Interesting choice. I don’t even really understand those lyrics. I can’t imagine Korean 4th and 5th graders would. Haha, George Michael. But I think that song (or possibly a remake of it) was popular here this year around Christmastime.

The baby in the apartment next to me is crying its head off. Usually I don’t hear it. I hope it’s not being killed.

When did the whole giving-celebrity-couples-one-name thing start up? I find it both humorous and stupid. Was Bennifer (as in Affleck and J Lo) the first? Are Affleck and Garner now referred to as Bennifer II? I think I read that somewhere. We also now have Brangelina and TomKat. Any others out there I’m missing? Any funny ones we can make up ourselves?

I bought a thing of Kraft parmesan cheese the other day. It cost about $8. I thought it was ridiculously exorbitant, but Joleen has informed me it’s expensive in the US as well. It’s dried cheese, for Christ’s sake!

I was reading the news on yahoo.com a bit ago and was both surprised and confused when I read the headline, “Zellweger, Chesney said found in Outback.” First off, I didn’t know they were missing. Second, it’s just bizarre. But upon further inspection, I discovered that I merged two headlines together. The first headline read, “Zellweger, Chesney union annulled in LA” and the headline directly beneath it read, “Ice Age footprints said found in Outback.’ Ahh, makes much more sense…But they do make a nice trio, eh?

Koreans and Japanese people don’t like each other. Granted, I’m sure that is a pretty big blanket statement (haha…fallacies), but generally speaking it seems to be true. I’m sure there’s a lot of history behind this animosity. Koreans hate that people call the Sea of Japan the ‘Sea of Japan’. To them it is called the East Sea. When I said the map on my wall (from the US) called it the Sea of Japan the student I was talking to was abhorred. But really, the Sea of Japan makes much more sense than the East Sea. I mean, it’s pretty much only the East Sea to Korea. It’s not as if the US gets all pissed about it being the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the Southern Gulf, damn it!!! There’s also this tiny island in the East Sea/Sea of Japan called Dokdo. Apparently both Korea and Japan claim it. I don’t know why they care about it. Actually, I think there is some reason related to fishing, but I can’t remember. Anyway, I always get asked, “Who do you think Dokdo belongs to?? Who does America think it belongs to??” Umm, I had never heard of it before coming here. And I’m sure the US couldn’t care less. But for future reference, if a Korean ever asks you that, say Dokdo belongs to Korea. Also, Some Koreans want to change the English spelling of Korea to Corea. I was told by someone that this was because they wanted to be able to march before Japan at the Olympics. If this isn’t taking it a little too far, I don’t know what is.

Another reason my school is idiotic (and another example of the idiocy that is the bureaucratic system here): For a while my school had me teach 1.5 hour teacher classes. So, at the end of the month my total number of OT hours was something like 22.5 (or something…the important thing being it had a .5). So I turn in my OT hours but am later told that they can’t pay me for a half an hour because “there’s no official document telling us what to do about it.” Ok, it’s not rocket science. I get paid 20,000 won/hour, therefore just pay me 10,000 for that half hour. Come on, you’re Asians…aren’t you supposed to be good at math?? But no, they can’t do this because they don’t have a document telling them that this is what to do. So then they tried telling me that they were just going to drop the half hour from my OT pay, prompting me to say, “So I’m not going to get paid for it??” Wtf? You’re the morons who made me teach 1.5 hour classes in the first place. You’re gonna friggin’ pay me for it. I think they could sense my irritation so they planned out this intricate process by which they can pay me (which I seriously doubt will end up working out, but whatever). In case you couldn’t tell, I am extremely annoyed and frustrated at my school. They completely suck. And if they wonder why I’m not going to stay another year they’re crazy (as I’m also the only person in the school who has to work all winter break…even if it means coming to school and sitting in my classroom for 8 hours staring at a wall).

So I’m super excited about my trip to Thailand and the visit from Joleen. Joleen says it best when she wrote, “But this trip (Asia) is gonna be awesome. We've got amazing island beaches, Thai prostitutes, swimming in waterfalls, elephant riding, bamboo rafting, riding bicycles through buddist temples, and a city overrun with 2 rival monkey gangs (yes, actual monkeys) all lined up. And this crap is cheap.” Come on, can you think of better vacation?? :D

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year 2006!!!!!!

As I’m wishing you all a happy New Year, it’s been 2006 for 13 hours here in South Korea. In Enzed, you’ve been in 2006 for…about 16 hours now (I think…although I think you’ve got a couple different time zones). For those of you residing in the US in the central time zone, you’ve got 2 hours to go…Joleen, you’ve got 4 hours. I’m currently watching live video feed on msn.com of the New York festivities. So I will be able to watch the ball drop. Wow, New Year’s is so much more exciting in the US than Korea. At least than in Pyeongtaek. I think maybe Seoul has a big celebration during which people get wasted, shoot off fireworks, and ring a big bell…but me and the Pyeongtaek gang didn’t feel like traveling to Seoul. I can only imagine how packed the subway system would have been. UPDATE: Since writing this but before posting it, I have witnessed the ball drop in Times Square. And Mom, you may be happy to note that I “jumped” into the New Year here in my apartment (well, jumped into the Eastern time zone’s New Year). It's also now an 1+ hours closer to New Year's for y'all, etc. And I see Discover Card was sponsoring the big giant ball this year...

2006 came to Korea at the same time as Japan. The only countries to turn to 2006 earlier were the Christmas Islands (first to go), New Zealand and various Pacific islands, and Australia. How exciting.

I “celebrated” with Jaclyn, Will, and Charlie. Charlie is a girl who also lives in Pyeongtaek, but not within walking distance of me and Jaclyn. She did not go to the UW. She is from New Zealand (Wellington, I believe). She is of Chinese descent. We went out to eat and ate some high class galbi (beef grilled over hot coals and wrapped in lettuce leaves along with garlic and various other items). Our food and the bottle of soju (rice alcohol that tastes like rubbing alcohol) cost each of us 33,000 won ($33). But it was really good galbi…compared to the $8 a head galbi we usually get. We then went back to Jaclyn’s apartment and sat around and talked. And ate ice cream with strawberries and brownies. We lost track of time and missed our turning to 2006 by 5 minutes. Oops! Whatever. I don’t know if Korea has any sort of countdown on tv because we didn’t have the tv on. But when I walked home at 2am it was relatively quiet outside with only a few drunken hoards meandering the streets. Maybe they go more nuts for the Lunar New Year (January 29th). I’ll be flying to Thailand on that day, however. Thailand also celebrates the Lunar New Year as evidenced by the raised prices of hotels on that night in Phuket.

I was thinking about making some New Year’s resolutions this year. Then I thought, “Ok, I have to make ones that I seriously think I can accomplish.” At which point I decided not to make any because I’m a hopeless case with things like that. Besides, if I really wanted to resolve to do something, why does it have to be connected with the New Year? If I really wanted to resolve something I could make that resolution whenever I wanted.

Anyway, Happy New Year, everyone!!!! Have a great 2006 and I hope your 2005 didn’t suck too badly!

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Ok, I'm a little behind on updating. Especially since it’s been a week since Christmas. But I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and got some nice presents. I missed being with my family this year as well as exchanging presents with my (ex)flatmates. On Christmas Eve I headed to Osan to Elissa’s house with about 10 other people and we had a little Christmas Eve dinner/party. We had some really good steaks and mashed potatoes and cheese. We had a white elephant gift exchange. I was lucky number 1 and had to pick first, but I actually ended up with a decent present that no one stole from me. It’s a traditional Korean model house…you know, a model house as in one you have to put together…like a model airplane. I’m kind of excited to do it. I bought and gave away a plastic blue recorder. Koreans play them in school and I swear they all run around with them. I hear them constantly at school. And for the record, Koreans also play “Hot Cross Buns.” What the hell does that song mean, anyway?? So that night we all watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Keeping tradition alive. I slept there that night and went home Christmas afternoon. Monday night the Pyeongtaek gang plus Jaclyn’s boyfriend had a gift exchange.

Below I've included a few pictures of different Christmas cards I got from a few of my students(5-3 is the class they're in...5th grade, class 3...not their height). Also a picture of the Christmas tree in front of my neighborhood church.

I also got another card that wouldn't photograph worth crap that read:

Dear Emily...
Hi Emily? my name is o chung-Yeon
Emily teaches thank you.
Emily and...
Merry christmas

Haha, interesting...