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Monday, March 27, 2006

Last-Minute Dinner Plans Suck
Unless it's with people who speak your language

So at 3pm today I'm told, "Oh, we're (6th grade teachers) going out after school today." I hate that. Finding out stuff like like an hour before hand peeves me off big-time. Especially since I never want to go in the first place. I guess it's going to be a weekly thing. At least I know that now. The crappy thing is, I have to pay for it (about $40/mo). That wouldn't be so bad if I wanted to go, but since I don't, it just sucks. There's a new 6th grade teacher, so the meal was kind of for her. She sat next to me and was really nice. She probably spoke more to me than any other 6th grade teacher has. So this meal was more bearable than others. [Aside: I've used dictionary.com like a million times the last 5 minutes. I'm always correct in my spelling, but the words just look weird. Last 3 words I've looked up: demean, rutabaga, and bearable.] I felt kind of bad because it was a seafood restaurant and they know I don't like seafood...so they ordered a special thing for me. Which was nice, but I feel stupid. I guess it's better than having them never go to a seafood restaurant when they all love it. I don't like seafood in the U.S., but seafood in Korea is a billion times worse. Seriously, half the stuff just looks like giant cartilage balls (just looked up cartilage). Giant cartilage balls with a half inch of gummy slime surrounding it. Not joking.

According to the class year schedule I was given, I wasn't supposed to have any 6th grade classes today or tomorrow because they were supposed to be going on a field trip or something. But I get to school today and apparently they weren't on a field trip. Damn. So I found out tonight that it was rescheduled for next Wed, Thurs, and Fri...which sucks for me b/c I don't teach 6th graders those days so it doesn't affect me at all. Boo! I guess they are going to Gyeongju (SW Korea) and some other places that I couldn't quite figure out, but I feel like they're taking a tour of some industry or something. They asked if I wanted to go. The thing is (among other things), I'm going to Gyeongju this weekend with Jaclyn and Charlie. What timing. I wouldn't want to go anyway because 3 days with my students...seriously, I would drown myself by that last day. 3 days of saying, "How are you?" over and over again. No thanks. But I feel bad saying no like they'll think I'm anti-social. Which I am, but that's beside the point. And I really don't want to go on a tour of an industry, esp when it's all in Korean.

So, yeah, I'm going to Gyeongju this weekend. Cherry blossoms are supposed to bloom this weekend so it should be really pretty. I look outside and it still looks dead to me, but hey, if the forecast says they'll be out, I guess they'll be out. I just read an article about how cherry blossom blooming predictions in Japan are super important and it's very stressful for the predictor people. Gyeongju was an ancient capital in Korea and there's a bunch of big burial mounds all over (that look like big hills). It should be interesting. It takes about 4 hours to get there on the fast train thing (I think). I hope it's nice. I think we're planning on renting bikes to get around. Who knows? Not me. I just go with the flow and let those with more knowledge of Korean, etc handle things.

How about George Mason? Man, if I was a George Mason fan I'd be ecstatic. What's the lowest seed to ever make it to the Final Four? Obviously not a 16 seed since they've never won a game (aside from a play-in game). I'm rooting for them all the way. I started off really well in my brackets, but holy crap do they look pathetic now. Sad, really. I went from like the 99th percentile to the 30th the last week. Ouch.

I was tipped off to a hilarious Korean movie called Attack the Gas Station. I loved it and laughed my arse off almost the whole way through. I think it helped that I'm living here now, so everything was that much funnier. But honestly, it's great. And yes, Joleen, it was so totally better than JSA. Btw, did you ever get the sound to work for Long Way Round?

Here's another video of Riley. If these videos annoy you, sorry. I promise they'll taper off. It's just that I got excited and put up a bunch. Then this video was too hilarious to not share. It's Riley wearing a cloth Noah's Ark on her head that looks like an "olde tyme football helmet." Hahahaha!!!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Windows XP is Visually Appealing
I wonder how different Windows Vista will look?

Sometimes my students say things that I find really funny. For instance, the other day the students were repeating (as a class) the vocabulary words for the chapter. One of the words was 'window.' So I hear all the kids yell out, "Window!" Then, from the back of the room, I hear a single kid yell out, "XP!" Hahahahaha!! I started laughing and the kids in front of the room were probably like, "Why is Emily Teacher laughing?"

So one of my co-teachers is really strict with punishment. Which kind of surprised me because she doesn't seem the type to be hardcore punishment-y. She assigned homework to the kids, and then told me, "I will check next class time. If they do not have their homework then I will hit them on their hands with my stick. They will cry [then she mocked boo-hooed with her hands rubbing her eyes] and think I am mean, but I don't care." Sure enough, next classtime she asked who didn't have their homework. Half the class stands up (so like 20 total). She went around and whacked each kid across their upturned hands with this biggish wooden stick she has, ala 1950s style. It was simultaneously amusing and slightly disconcerting. Other punishments she's meted out: 1) pinching their nose between the knuckles of her pointer and middle finger then pulling. 2) Whacking them in the forehead with her knuckles. 3) making them lay on their stomach with their feet against the wall, then making them rise up in a push-up type position. She made one kid do this for at least 25 minutes. He had sweat pouring off his face. At one point he looked at me and wailed, "Help me!" I felt especially bad as this is what got him his punishment: he fell off his chair. He was rocking back on the back legs of the chair and went too far, causing him to topple to the ground. So he had to do that for the rest of the period. Wtf? These are 5th graders. 4) And of course, there's the common hands up in the air, which is often a whole class punishment. Sometimes the students need to kneel with their hands up. And sometimes they have to hold things like books over their heads...or in bad cases (although usually with middle or high schoolers, not elementary kids) hold their chairs/desks over their head. My friend who teaches at a school in Osan (Elissa) made her entire class hold their chairs over their heads for the entire 50 minute period. I'm not sure what they did, but apparently they are a horrid class. Man.

Koreans call letters "alphabets." It really bothers me. To clarify: the letters A, B, and C will be on the board and they'll say, "Look at the alphabets" or "Put the alphabets in order." Ahhh!!!!

My schedule has now been changed (minimized), but I still have no word on the teacher classes. But as of now I only teach 22 student hours a week. And only 3 classes on Wednesday. Which is actually going to be kind of annoying because my co-teacher still has to teach 2 classes in the classroom that up until now I've taught with her, but now she has to do it alone while I do nothing. Meaning, what the hell am I going to do and where the hell am I going to go during those hours? I honestly don't know. The library? I wish I had an office like all my other English teacher friends. Man. I don't want teacher classes!!!

Red patent leather high-heeled shoes are all the rage here right now.

The episode of Lost yesterday featured the Koreans' story. I tried to understand what they were saying when they were speaking Korean, but I had no idea for the most part. And it annoyed me that they had a Korean (in Korea) call the Korean guy, "Mr. Jin." First of all, he wouldn't say "Mr." and second of all, they call people by their full name. I have no idea what Jin's full name is--but I doubt his family name is Mis and his other names are Ter Jin. Then it bothered me that in the captions they used the wrong your--they wrote "you're" when it should have been "your." Pet-peeve of mine. Whatever.

Here's an article on people protesting the military base expansion in Pyeongtaek. One reason people are so upset about it is that the Korean government is just taking people's land with little or no compensation to then 'give' to the US for the base expansion. Upset Pyeongtaek Farmers

Fun With Videos
My nieces

Riley Marie Christopherson
Video sent to me courtesy of Brian, the proud papa. I cringe whenever I watch her step onto the pile of cds. Ouch! (for the cds, that is) The sound in the background reminds me of Joleen because she had me download a bunch of the artist's songs a while ago...I don't remember her name right now, though. And nice taste, Riley, grabbing the Tom Petty cd. :)

Wicket the Weewok II (Jin)
This video weirds me out because it's super crappy quality (what, like 1 frame per second?) and really short, but it is a big file. I don't get it. I took it when I first got my desktop computer like 3-4 years ago (how old is Wicket?) and it came with a piece of crap digital camera. No sound. Oh well. Maybe I'll take a short video of my apartment and put it on here (although it'd have no sound, again).

"Ice Cream and City!"
Baskin Robbins' ad campaign in Korea

Because I just found out how to embed video in my blog (which makes me feel really smart even though it's incredibly easy) I'm putting this video up simply because it's one of the only ones I have on my computer. It was taken on Tuesday night (board game bang night). It's in downtown Pyeongtaek near the train/subway station. We're dancing to a Korean song blasting from a store front (common) while Koreans are looking at us and shaking their heads thinking, "My God, Americans are stupid." To be fair, the video was shot by a New Zealander. I'm a bit sad that Will's "Ice cream and city!" got cut down to just "Ice cream and!," especially since it's fine on my computer. Whatever.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bang City!
[As an aside, I'd just like to say that Blogger has been incredibly incompetent
regarding picture uploads recently, and it is pissing me off beyond belief, as
it forces me to waste 9 million more hours of time. I may or may not get my
noraebang pics up tonight b/c it's being idiotic. If not, I'll have to edit them
in later. I hate this. Why won't you work properly?!?!?!? Ok, 9,000 hours
later I finally got it to work]

Korea is a country of bangs (pronounced like bong). PC bangs. DVD bangs. Noraebangs. Board game bangs. You name it. Fyi, 'bang' means 'room' in Korean. And 'norae' means 'sing.' So they are rooms you pay for by the hour (or 2) to go to and do whatever it specializes in. PC bang=internet/gaming cafe (never been to one here). DVD bang=rent a dvd and watch it in your own private room with couches, etc. Apparently people go to these to make out (never been in one). Noraebang=private karaoke room. The best things ever. The U.S. needs to pick up on these. Board game bang=a place you go and sit and choose from a selection of board games to play. Pretty fun, and probably the least common of the bangs. Last night I went to a board game bang with my Pyeongtaek friends (and Osan Elissa). Not only did we play a board game (Settlers of Catan), but we also wore costumes. Jaclyn's monkey mask was the best monkey mask I've ever seen. It was seriously freaking me out a little bit. Here are a few pics.

And here are a few pics from a noraebang when Joleen was visiting. I look horrible in my picture, but hey. I'm singing. I'll use that as an excuse. Also, I included a picture that shows one street and all the noraebangs on it (this is in Pyeongtaek near my house...taken in December). Seriously, there are a crapload of them. I think there must be like 15 of them in a 2 block radius. All the cylindrical glowy blown-up signs in the picture are for different noraebangs. I believe you can see at least 5 of them in this picture and this isn't even the 'busy' side of the block! Crazy. Koreans love their karaoke!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Long Way Round
Nobody said it was easy

I just watched the best documentary ever called Long Way Round. Ewan McGregor and his friend Charley ride around the world on motorcycles and it's all filmed. They went from London to New York (with a little help in some areas in Siberia and of course, Russia to Alaska). It's a series (7 or so hour long episodes) and it's super addicting. Honestly, it's really good and I'd recommend you all see it! Even if you don't adore Ewan (how could you not?) or care about motorcycles (I don't). It's funny. There were a few times where Ewan said Obi Wan quotes (from the old and new films) and that was great. They had a really tough time in Mongolia and Siberia (horrid conditions) and thay's when Ewan said, "Nobody said it was easy." While Coldplay was playing in the background. :) He thens says something about the really trying moments are the ones you'll really look back on as real accomplishments, etc. As cheesy as it sounds, it reminded me of me being here in Korea. Being completely honest, I'm hating it here, but I know that once it's over and I'm home it will be cool to look back at it and know I lived a year in South Korea. Huh. So go watch it. It's really good. I was seriously watching it with unbridled enthusiasm and excitement and mirth. I'm a dork.

Speaking of that show and Korea, apparently it's thought that Koreans are descended from Mongols. In the show, they go through Kazakhstan and Mongolia. I actually thought that the Kazakh people (Kazakhstanians?) looked a lot like Koreans. The Mongolians did a bit too, but not as much as the Kazakhstanians. Actually, the Kaz people looked like the lighter skinned Koreans and the Mongolians looked like the darker complexioned Koreans. Plus, lending creedence to the Kazakhstan connection, in the series they [Ewan and Charley] went to get a "massage" at a spa in Kazakhstan. They proceeded to get the crap beat out of them and said it was the most painful massage ever. It looked and sounded like the same damn massage I got in that spa here in Korea. Ouch.

There was this article in the news entitled, Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches. It totally brought me back to learning about fallacies in my reading class in high school. It was especially humorous as it was my and Bidisha's favorite fallacy. "Straw-Man!! Hahahaha!!!" I always got it a little confused with Glittering Generalities. Man, fallacies. Gotta love 'em.

School Annoyance Update! When Sosabul Attacks! Korea-Gate! Why can't I think of the hilarious stupid labels news organizations name every incident that occurs?? Please, if you can think of them (Liz, I'm counting on you) please post them in the comment section. I think I'm gonna make an icon for it and use it whenever I need to bitch about my school. So it'd get used often. But anyway, sans icon, here is my bitch:

So, because I was teaching 26 student hours my school said I'd only have to teach 1 teacher class a week. Which was 1 more than I'd like. So today my co-teacher tells me, "Next month your schedule will be different. You will only have 22 student hours. Then you will also have 2 teacher classes a week and 2 training classes a week." Crap-o-la. Son of a bitch. Fan-friggin-tastic. I would SOOOO much prefer student classes to teacher classes. I'd teach 30 student classes if it meant no teacher classes. Then I'm thinking (as you all may be as well), "What the hell are training classes?" So I ask. I still don't know, but I think they are just teacher classes but it will be teaching teachers from other schools in Pyeongtaek. So that's 4 nights a week I'll have to stress about planning teacher classes. Shoot me, please. And $100 says that it will extend my day so I'll not get home until after later than I should. I think I'm just going to use a stupid English textbook/workbook and not plan anything myself. And if they don't like that, they can screw themselves. Or teach their own damn selves English. I don't think any of this is at all negotiable as it's not my school demanding this, it's the Pyeongtaek Educational Office. I hate them.

One of the native English teachers in Pyeongtaek broke his contract and left after 6 months (not from UW). I think it's because Korea sucks, but official word is that it's because he had a lot of health problems. So now my school is paranoid about my health. This is how that comes across: harassing me to go to the hospital over idiotic things (I'm not Korean, I don't go to the friggin' hospital because I have a slight cough). It also manifests itself in harassing me to eat foods that they deem healthy that I deem disgusting. For example, I had to go out to dinner with the 6th grade teachers and the principals tonight. Half the meal was some seafood platter (spicy tentacles and other sea creatures with shells). My co-teacher knows I don't like seafood. However, she kept shoving it in my face and telling me to, "Just try it" over and over again. I DON'T LIKE IT. I AM NOT GOING TO EAT IT. QUIT TREATING ME LIKE I'M YOUR 4 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER. It was really pissing me off. I stuck to my guns and refused to eat it. Man.

Ok, I think that's all I (and maybe you) can handle right now. I shall leave you all in peace. I have to go to bed soon. And dry my hair. And brush my teeth. And pee. Anyeong hi kyeseyo!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Oh, the Horror!!!
Gruesome movies can be quite disturbing

So a while ago I bought a dvd/vcr combo. Korea dvd players are a different region than U.S. ones, so I couldn't play my dvds on this player (which I knew before I bought it, but still thought I'd use it for Korean/burned dvds and I needed a vcr). Anyway, it's pretty annoying to have to watch dvds on my computer, especially since recently it's been playing them really crappy (skipping around and such). I knew that you could input codes into your dvd player to make them region free (so they play all dvds). So a while ago I searched for the code for my particular dvd player. No sights had codes for mine. I was sad. I finally got really annoyed and searched again today. I still couldn't find the code for my player, but I noticed that there were a few codes for players of the same brand as mine (Daewoo...Korean brand) that seemed to be for numerous models. So I wrote them down and what do you know!?! The first one I tried worked! Yay! So now I can watch my dvds on my tv. That's my excitement for the day. Sad, huh? I also downloaded and watched Elf. It was pretty funny.

Speaking of movies, I saw one of the most visually disturbing (in terms of gore) horror movies ever last night. It's called High Tension (an alternate title is Switchblade Romance). It's actually a French movie (Haute tension), so the one I saw was dubbed. Which was annoying at first (esp since some of the dubbed voices were horrible sounding acting-wise), but the main people sounded fine. Anyway, it was really scary...truly high tension. And lots of blood. But as a warning to anyone who may be interested in watching it, I hated the ending. I would talk about it, but in the chance someone does want to see it, I don't want to ruin it for them. So then I just downloaded a newer movie by the same screenwriter which is a remake of an older movie (both old and new from Wes Craven). It's called The Hills Have Eyes. This should be equally disturbing, I think.

My bathtub and kitchen sink leak. It's super annoying hearing the drip drip drip all the time. Although it is fun to sing songs to the beat of the drips.

Yesterday I went with my Kiwi friend Charlie to a store called Carrefour. We had to take the subway there since it's in a different city. Apparently it has a good grocery store so that's why we went. It was a'ight. I did get some soft shell taco shells. Guess what I also found there?? A can of refried beans!!!!! Wow, that was exciting. There was only one on the shelf and I got it. It looks like the can had been thrown around the warehouse a few times, but I don't care. Dents or no dents, I'm excited to have tostadas. Now I just need to go and buy some ground beef.

My voice is getting better, but I still can't sing...and I sound a bit hoarse. I'm going to punch the teachers at my school tomorrow if they mention going to the hospital again.

Man, I can count on you, Mom, to give a detailed run-down of ancestry questions. And I forgot that we had Badger relatives. Rock on! So the whole fam should be fans!!!! Haha, yeah right. ;)

I tried to add pictures to this, but for some reason it's not working at the mo. Maybe I'll try to edit it later.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ok, so I caved and actually did watch the whole game. Boo. After the game finished, I had the option of watching either the last 14 seconds of the Iowa game or the last minute of the Bucknell/Arkansas game--both games within 2 points. I totally picked the wrong choice. "Well, only 14 seconds left in the Iowa one...by the time the video buffers and stuff it might be over." Man, when I saw that Iowa lost on a 3 pointer at the buzzer I kicked myself for that decision. That would have been great to see. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the Big Ten winning, but I gotta admit it would've made me feel a little better to see someone lose in a crappier fashion than we did.

Speaking of crappy, wow, my brackets are down the toilet now. With a Badger and an Iowa loss...not pretty. :D I started off nicely, but yoinks! Oh well. At least I have no money riding on them. :)


Well, I'm having no problems watching the game on my computer. But even from a 3x3 inch viewscreen I can tell that we SUCK big time. This is so horrible that I can't get myself to watch anymore. I have to go back to bed. And interesting to see Ohio St. getting beat by...whatever 15 seed they're playing...yoinks. At least Iowa is winning. Seriously, we are BAD. I guess this has been a good year to miss all their games. Ugh.

Friday, March 17, 2006

March Madness!
Man, I wish I was back in the States for this!

First day of the tourney, finished (or 'finish-y' as Koreans always say). I filled out a couple different brackets. One through ESPN and one through Yahoo!. I'm not doing too shabby, thus far. I know alarmingly little about the NCAA this year, so I was very unknowledgable in my picks. Like every year, I have the Badgers winning it all. This year I also had the Big Ten teams winning every game (except when they had to play each other...then one had to lose, of course). So while it looks good now, it will undoubtedly turn horrid later. But the 2 BT teams who played on the first day (Illinois and Indiana) both won, so I'm on my way. :) The only games I missed today: I had Nevada winning in both my brackets. Oops. I also had NC-Wilmington winning in them both. Oops. But at least I had them both losing the next game. I also chose Marquette to lose in both my brackets because I hate them. Yay! They lost! I also correctly picked the Texas A&M upset win over Syracuse. So anyway, those (Nevada and NC Wilmington) were my only incorrect picks. I'm in the 99th percentile in the Yahoo! one and the 95th percentile in the ESPN one. Or vice versa. So not too shabby.

I'm going to attempt to watch the Badger game on my computer tonight through CBS Sportsline. I've had bad luck with watching things like that here in Korea though, because many times they block out viewers who are located someplace other than the US (which websites 'know' by your ISP address). We'll see. I'll have to stay up mighty late as well. Go Badgers!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
This is my 4-leaf clover...

Top o' the mornin' to ya! Even though it's night for me right now... In honor of St. Patty's Day I wore my green pants to school today. I would say that Korea doesn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but then I found this picture online. So I guess at least some of them do. Hey, Mom, do we have any Irish in us? I don't remember. Probably, eh? I don't really have anything to say regarding today. Last year's St. Patrick's Day was so much better as I was in Chicago with my dad at the Big Ten Tournament. And I got to see the Chicago river dyed green. Awesome. Speaking of last year's BTT, just today I watched a clip of our game that year vs Iowa where Alando made that amazing last second game-winning 3-pointer. That was awesome. I'm glad I was able to experience it in person.

But while we're on the topic of holidays...
So February 14th is Valentine's Day. In Korea on Valentine's Day women give stuff to men. Then they just had a holiday called White Day (March 14). It's tradition on White Day for men to give stuff to women. I got some candy from some kiddies...although mostly from girls. Apparently White Day was made up by some Japanese company. Then, on April 14 Korea celebrates Black Day. Black Day is for people who are single. On Black Day single folk eat jajang noodles because they are black. But wait! We're not finished yet! Every month on the 14th there's some holiday for "lovers." May 14: Rose Day-self explanatory. It's also Yellow Day, which I don't totally get. But people eat yellow curry. For some reason. June 14: Kiss Day- self-explanatory. July 14: Silver Day- an exchange of silver rings. August 14: Music Day- give each other love song cds. September 14: Photo Day- that could get interesting. It's also the day when people around the world come together to celebrate my birthday. :) October 14: Wine Day. November 14: Movie Day/Hug Day. December 14: Money Day- spend money on your loved ones. January 14: Diary Day- give your lover a diary and flowers. And let's not forget the infamous Pepero Day on Nov. 11.

So holy Christ. Talk about corporations getting ahold of Korea! I think the only ones widely celebrated are Valentine's Day, White Day, and Black Day. And Pepero Day. But still. Crikey.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Inflammation of the Vocal Chords
No, I really don't need to go to the hospital...

So I'm 99.9% sure I have laryngitis. Tuesday night I could feel my throat getting a little funky. I'm sure I didn't help it any by drinking and being around smokers. That night my throat felt like it was on fire...so I slept like crap (and to answer your question, Mom, I actually felt fine on Wed hangover-wise...I actually felt very much not drunk that night...surprising considering the amount of soju shots I had in a short period). Throughout the day on Wednesday I could feel my throat getting progressively worse, and by the time I left school it was going in and out. That night it hurt like a beotch again and when I awoke on Thursday I pretty much had no voice. So today in school I sat in the class and pretty much just watched. Not much I can do without a voice...my primary asset here in Korea. But all the teachers are freaking out over it. They are obsessed with my going to the hospital...which I will not do, since it would be pointless. Koreans go to the friggin' hospital at the drop of a hat. I don't have a cold or anything, it's just my voice. And aside from at night my throat doesn't even really hurt. I looked up laryngitis online and it appears the main causes are either a virus or over-use of the voice. Neither of these would be helped by medicine. There's a slight chance it could be caused by bacteria, but doubtful. I hope they lay off of me about the hospital because I don't go to the hospital for every little thing!!! It's still pretty bad right now. Not sure how it'll be tomorrow--I have 6 classes tomorrow. Today I only had 4. Because they were so concerned for me they sent me home after lunch...after an hour of figuring out paper work for it. That was nice. They also gave me some Tylenol Cold (not useful now but I could probably use it later) and a couple little bottles of mystery drink to take after eating. So far I've ignored those. My co-teacher has been giving me this nasty drink each morning. It's like this nasty hot fruit-ish drink that comes in a packet. It's really gross. Apparently it's "good for health." Which means I'll undoubtedly get more tomorrow morning. Eww.

So my newest assignment: write an English textbook for the 1st and 2nd graders. Wha??? It's doubly confusing because I can't figure out what they exactly want. And I guess it's due sometime in April. I was told it was my "homework." Gee, thanks. I asked if 1st and 2nd graders could even read English and they laughed and said, "No...maybe their parents will read it to them." Wtf? So they're having me write a textbook that will be effectively useless. I think they just want them so they can show them off to people and be like, "Look, we have English books for our 1st and 2nd graders written by a native English speaker!" And apparently the teacher classes are going to be starting in April sometime (shoot me now). My co-teacher was also asking me about all this other stuff that we're supposed to be doing this year (a bunch of extra-curricular English activities). I never have any idea what she's talking about. She'll ask me about something but I don't understand what the hell she's talking about it. Then she asked me about English camp this summer and what I'm going to teach. I'm like, yeah, I just had the winter one. Like I've planned the stupid summer one. Then, to top it off, she asked what I was going to do for the English camp next winter. She had kept mentioning stuff that would take place next semester. Finally I got out a calendar and was like, "My contract is up August 31. Then I'm going back to the U.S. I won't be here then." She was all surprised and asked if I'd renew my contract. I said no. She was very suprised. She must have told a bunch of people, because I've had numerous people ask me about it now. And they are incapable of getting it into their heads that I'm not renewing. They keep saying, "So you're unsure if you'll renew?" No, I'm sure I am NOT going to renew. Christ. They all ask why. Like I'm going to tell them, "I think Korea sucks." So I just say, "Well, my contract was only for one year and I really miss my family." Then one teacher says all surprised, "But you just saw your sister!" Oh, yeah! That's right! Now I no longer miss anyone! Man. Another teacher asked, "Have you told the vice-principal you're not coming back?" As if it was my responsibility to do so. I really don't think it's my responsibility to go to her to tell her I'm not going to renew. I'd say the responsibility should fall on her to ask if I want to renew. It's like they've all been assuming I was going to stay longer. They could not be further from the truth, as I actually would like to cut out on my contract and leave now. They should be thankful I'm honoring their stupid contract in the first place. That and I really wouldn't mind the $2000 bonus I'll get for working here a year. Anyway, it was kind of nice to see that they wanted me to stay instead of thinking, "Good, we can finally get rid of this moron!" So I must not be sucking too much, or be too much of a disappointment.

So I got visited on Tuesday by a Korean English teacher at another school. I guess their school wants to get a native English teacher and he's in charge of everything. He has no idea what to do, so he came to Sosabul since they have one (me) to ask questions. For whatever reason, they sent him to talk to me about things that I have no idea about. First of all, it took me 8 years to figure out what the hell he was really asking me. He wanted to know how I found an apartment, how I was recruited, etc. So I told him I was recruited through UW (to which he got this surprised expression on his face and said, "You went to Wisconsin University? They are very famous!"). Haha! Then I was like, I have no idea about the apartment. I got here and the school had it ready for me. So he had these questions for me that I had nothing to do with. I couldn't help him at all. Why they sent him to me, I have no idea. I was like, "Sorry I couldn't help you." Then he said, "Oh no, it was an honor." Huh? Ok. He asked how many hours I teach and I told him 26. He was like, "Oh! You should come to my school instead! We only have 21 classes!" Haha, I'm almost tempted. [Sosabul is the biggest school in Pyeongtaek...over 2000 students]

The school is in the process of electing the school president. So all the students are setting up these campaigns and stuff. They take it very seriously. The posters they set up are crazy good. It's like professionally printed posters with their faces and stuff. Each morning and during lunch they all go around in the halls and outside with signs yelling stuff. I guess the final vote is next Thursday.

I was bowed to by a kid while he was riding a bike the other day. That was awesome.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Drinkin' All Your Worries Away
Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name

So I went out with the "Pyeongtaek Gang" (me, Jaclyn, Will, Charlie, and Elissa...who's actually from Osan, but close enough) last night. They hadn't heard from me in a couple of weeks so they were worried I was dead. Turns out I just holed myself up in my apartment and built a model of a traditional Korean house and read Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone. Good times. Or something. Anyway, we all went out to eat then headed to a bar to drink until midnight. Why we chose to do this on a Tuesday, I'm not sure. So without further ado, here are some pictures. If you toggle really fast between the 2 of me drinking shots, then it looks like I'm in action. Pretty cool, eh? And in the top left picture we're modeling the traditional Korean photo pose.

Beware the Ides of March!
Listen to the seer, O Caesar!

Ok, here are a few Korean news items I felt like putting up here for those interested:

Korea gets rare yellow snowfall
I haven't noticed any yellow dust myself, but maybe I'm just not paying attention. It definitely did snow (quite a bit) a few days ago (the snowfall to which this article must refer) in Pyeongtaek, but I'm pretty sure it's just white. Maybe Pyeongtaek is spared the worst of the yellow sand...although it is very much on the west coast...who knows? Because of this yellow dust there's an influx of Koreans walking around with cloth "surgical" masks. Throughout the winter I saw tons of Koreans wearing them and I never did figure out why: Is it to protect them from acquiring viruses? If so, that annoys me because like cloth masks will protect you from viruses. Is it to fend off the cold? Maybe, but again, that's kind of stupid. I have a hunch it's a mix of both. Wearing them for the yellow dust is a reason I can stomach, although like I said, I haven't noticed any yellow dust. Whatever.

SoKo PM quits amid golf scandal
The South Korean Prime Minister resigned yesterday because of a huge uproar over him playing golf. Although it was a national holiday, he should have been in the office because that day the subway employees went on a big strike. And golf is considered to be for the super rich and corrupt. Golf is really popular here, but it's uber expensive because there's a crap load of people and hardly any space for golf courses.

Dog poop girl
I guess there's a huge problem with cyberviolence in Korea (although I have to say, looking at the examples given in this article it sounds like Koreans are just being a bit too sensitive). Did you know that SoKo is the world's most wired nation? Well, it is. Most households have broadband connections. I guess some people think that the internet technology age boomed too fast here and people's "maturity" levels about it have not yet caught up. Or something.

The biggest thing in the news right now is that a Korean journalist was captured and is being held hostage by Palestinians on the Gaza Strip. I didn't include a link to any article because there's not much more to say about it. Another day, another Middle East hostage.

It's all the rage right now for Korean men to look very feminine and pretty. Here are a few pics of famous Korean men:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Snorks
Who else remembers this show?

Ok, at long last I'm getting to putting up pictures that were taken with our underwater camera in Thailand. Please note that underwater disposable cameras are not of the highest quality; therefore, neither are the pictures that they produce. First up: Me on a bamboo raft in Kanchanaburi. Too bad the Burmese raft operator didn't make it in the shot.

Above left: Maya Bay on Phi Phi Lei where The Beach was filmed. It doesn't look that pretty because we were there at low tide. And the camera sucks. We only had the disposable camera because we had to snorkel to the bay. The bay we originated at on Phi Phi Lei was actually much prettier (above- and below-water scenery) but due to confusion we have no pictures of that, alas. Above right: Joleen swimming at our bungalow beach.

Above left: Joleen snorkeling. Above right: Me snorkeling. Note: I take better underwater snorkeling pictures of people than Joleen does.

Ooh, Ooh, That Smell! Can't You Smell That Smell??
The Smell Of Death Surrounds You!

Something smells really bad in my apartment and I can't figure out what it is. I hate that.

I am currently obsessed with crossword and sudoku puzzles. I used to hate crosswords because they made me feel like an idiot. However, since Joleen visited me, brought a book of crosswords, and taught me various crossword 'tricks,' I've really begun to enjoy them. Also, I was shown the world of sudoku by Sarah. I am slowly getting better at it. I have to print them off at school, however, because I find it impossible to do them on the computer. I'm also almost done with the crossword book, Joleen. :(

When a Korean asks if they can make a copy of something, they really mean, "Can I take and keep this?"

When a Korean asks, "Do you like kimchi?," they don't want to hear, "No."

I think one of my favorite songs to sing along with would be Stay by Lisa Loeb. Although Alanis Morisette's You Outta Know is also a good one. I have to say, I did a pretty rockin' rendition of Guns N Roses' Welcome to the Jungle while norae-banging. Ask Joleen. She can vouch for me. Right, Jo? I also really enjoyed doing Blondie's Heart of Glass. Songs I found out that I definitely cannot sing: Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway and Destiny's Child's Say My Name.

Ok, things that are annoying me about my school situation:

1) Because my principal is a tool, I will not be getting a new/bigger classroom. Fine, I can live with that. No big deal.

2) Again, I am teaching 26 hours a week. This is the same as last year, but more nerve-wracking because

3) I have 4 new co-teachers. Count 'em--four. Two of them I have for most of my classes (9 classes with one and 14 with another). But then I have one class with another teacher and 2 classes with another. I don't even know who one of these teachers is as I haven't had that class yet. The thing with this is that with these teachers it pretty much means that I'm teaching the class myself as they aren't English teachers and don't know about any of the lessons. And it would just take time out of my day to have to hunt them down each week and describe everything that should happen. Basically, I guess they'll be there as a translator. Bah. At least it's 4th grade classes...4th graders are cute because they're little enough to be excited about things. Although they're constantly yelling, "Game! Game!"

4) Even though I made it abundantly clear that I don't want to do it, I will be teaching a teacher class this year. Honestly, this was the bane of my existence the last 6 months. I HATE it. I forced them to only make me do it once a week instead of twice. I don't know when it's going to start, how long it will be, or what day it will be on, though. I specifically said I didn't want it on Monday (since I procrastinate that would mean I'd be planning it on Sunday night which I would hate). I have a feeling it will be on Monday because "It's better for the other teachers." Well thanks for taking into consideration what's best for me. This is what pisses me off the most; any time a Korean teacher doesn't like something, there's a big hullabaloo to remedy the situation so they get what they want, but no one seems to give a shit about my concerns. They act like they do, but when it comes to action no one does anything. Ex: Korean teachers freak out if their teaching hours exceed 22/week, but hey, we can pile 27+ on the foreign teacher! Ugh. If they seem surprised when I tell them I'm not staying another year I'll laugh in their face. Oh yeah, and here's

5) As if having 4 co-teachers isn't enough, I was just informed that Ms. Kwan (who teaches 9 classes with me) will be leaving the school in May and I'll get a new co-teacher for the next 3 months.

Exeunt rant.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Material World

Is it me or is it just wrong that this constitutes news:

Madonna Says Daughter Asked If She Was Gay

I mean, the fact that this is a top headline is just bizarre to me. The rest of the article just talked about how Lourdes likes to point out gay men to Madonna. ? Ok, thanks for sharing. It wasn't even in the "Odd News" section...Also, I think that Madonna looks creepy in the picture alongside the article. And does anyone else find her explanation on why she kissed Britney Spears a little creepy?

Sometime I do want to bitch a bit more about my 'sitch,' but I have to be in bed a(n) half an hour ago, so I'm not gonna do it now.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Wesley Crusher vs. Moses
A Fight To The Death

[Ok, I tried putting this up like 10 hours ago but blogger wouldn't let me...]
I don't want to complain about my teaching situation right now, so instead I'm doing something 'fun' to hopefully get me less pissed.

I was watching video clips of various things on youtube (very addicting; you should check it out) and I ended up watching a bunch of Jon Stewart clips. Anyway, during this spree I was struck with how much I adore Jon Stewart and how much I detest Tucker Carlson (Stewart was on his show). Seriously, I wanted to punch that little ahole in the face. Anyway, I decided to put together a list of people I really like and people I really do not like. So, here it is:

Emmy Likey
1. Jon Stewart. He's hilarious. He's adorable. He's Jewish (ok, that really has nothing to do with it). He's incredibly smart. Honestly, how can a sane person not love him?? I didn't watch the Oscars, so I have no idea how that went for him. But rock on, Jon Stewart.

2. Jeff Probst. For those not 'in the know,' he is the host of Survivor. I don't know why I love him so much. He's good lookin' and, I have to be honest, I love the safari-ish shirt he wears all the time. I enjoy his mannerisms on the show. I just love the guy.

3. Rory Cochrane. He's an actor and he's been in various movies, but I got to know him from CSI: Miami. I love his character in that show. Too bad they killed him off a couple seasons ago (he wanted to leave the show). I never really watched CSI: Any Of Them until I came to Korea. Now I've seen all the seasons of CSI: Miami and a decent amount of CSI: Regular and CSI: NY episodes. For reasons I cannot explain, I actually really enjoy David Caruso in CSI: Miami. I feel like I should hate him...but I can't. [I know, sorry Brighton!]

4. Phil Keoghan. He is the host of The Amazing Race. Which is a great show. Phil's a Kiwi, so that probably explains some of my love for him. I also love how he reacts to people on the show when they get to the 'pit stops.' He looks disgusted with the aholes and genuinely happy with the nice folk. Gotta like that.

5. Wil Wheaton. He used to play Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: TNG. He now has a blog (Wil Wheaton dot Net). It's very popular. He's written a couple books, too...which I haven't read, but once I get back to the US and can buy books that I can read, I think I'll check them out. I read his blog a while ago and thought it was funny, but then forgot about it. I just rediscovered it via Elizabeth and again, found the content hilarious. I love the guy. If he wasn't married and I knew him and we got along well and all, I'd want to marry him. But alas, he's married, I don't know him, and I don't know if we'd get along. So I guess I won't be marrying him. And if you've ever seen Stand By Me, how can you not like the guy?

6. Paul Revere. Hmm, which person doesn't seem to go with the rest? :D I had to write a book review for an American Revolution class I took a couple years ago, and I chose to read Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer. It was an excellent book and I highly recommend it. And who doesn't love guys who take midnight rides on horses and have smelly dogs who follow them everywhere?

Emmy Really No Likey
1. Ann Coulter. I could just say she's ultra conservative and leave it at that. In fact, that is what I'll do. I'm just really glad that she doesn't spell her name with an 'e.' And I know Anne Shirley would not like Ann Coulter.

2. Tucker Carlson. Another conservative. Refer back to my initial comments on how my idea to do this list came up re: why I don't like him. He makes no sense. He's rude. He wears a bow tie. He used to co-host Crossfire on CNN until they canceled it. Probably becuase of him and his bow ties. Honestly, you should watch the interview of Stewart on Crossfire. It's really quite entertaining (you can find it on youtube!).

3. Charlton Heston. Yes, I am allowed to hate a guy who played Moses, El Cid and Ben Hur. His whole being president of the NRA is my main reason for him really annoying me. Pry this from your cold dead hands, Heston. Apparently back in the day he used to be a Democrat. Huh. Planet of the Apes was just on tv here so he was on my mind.

I'm dumb4. Tom Cruise. Do I really need to explain this? He's a scientologist. He's psycho but doesn't believe in psychology. He performs sonograms himself on Katie Holmes. He thinks medication for depression is a load of crap. You know what I think is a load of crap? Half the movies he's made.

5. James Spader. Ok, I only hate him on the show Boston Legal. Or I should say I hate his character on the show. I've only seen the show a few times (and never the whole way through)...it's one of the shows they play here in Korea, for whatever reason. I think it's on AFN. Anyway, he's supposed to be all sexy on the show, but I just find him to be an arrogant pompous tool. Who is in no way even remotely attractive. I just am not getting him. Ugh.

6. Brenna Gethers. I just felt that I needed an equal number of likes/hates and I had 6 likes so I needed another hate. I also felt I needed another girl hate (even though I don't have any girl likes...I'll work on that for my next list). She was on American Idol. She sucked. She was super friggin' annoying. I absolutely hated her. She got voted off (all right, America!). But she's still annoying.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Uh, Ok
Maybe I'll never end up teaching this semester...

So I thought that yesterday would be my first day teaching. Nope. I don't know what was going on that morning until 11:30 (when there was an all-school assembly), but it sure wasn't English class. Ok, so then I thought today would be my first day teaching. Nope. Ms. Kwan (who I should be teaching with today) came in this morning and told me that today she was just going to go into each class and talk to them (about what, I don't really know) so I have "free time" today, as she called it. Ok, fine by me. So maybe I'll come in Monday and be told I don't have to teach again. Who knows? Unfortunately, I didn't come prepared today for a day of free time (ie no iPod, etc) so it's been a bit boring. But currently the Badger/MSU bkb game is on so I'm watching the live stats on that online. Go Badgers! Currently we're down 9 in the second half. Alando needs to get in the game!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Apparently I'm on a Posting Roll

Ok, so I was tooling around with the Google satellite map function, and you can get an extreme satellite close-up image of Panmunjom. So here is a link to the map close-up: Panmunjom. The little row of buildings in the middle are where they hold their talks (like what they're doing right now). The middle blue one is the one Joleen and I went in. The big building below is a South Korean building; the building just above (that pales in comparison, size-wise) is a North Korean one. Yeah, so I thought that was kind of cool.

Drunk With Power
Give me another shot of POWER, baby!

So it's the custom/culture in Korea that students are supposed to bow to their teachers when they see them in the hall or the streets or whatever. They don't have to stop everything and do this major bow, but it's kind of a bow-as-you-walk-by type of thing. Anyway, I usually don't get bowed to--in lieu of bowing, my students instead tend to give a giant wave and yell my name--"OHHH!!! AE-MIL-LEE!!! HELLO!!!" Which, you know, is nice and all, but there's just something about being bowed to. The 1% of the time that I get bowed to by students really does give me a power trip. I mean, really; how often do people bow to you?? "If I were King of the forest..." [must be sung in a lion from Wizard of Oz way]. But I've noticed that I've been getting more bows as of late...hmmm...keep it comin' kiddos, keep it comin'...

Go, Korea!
Korea in the News

Wow, at one point today when I was checking out the news on Yahoo, of the 5 articles prominently displayed under the World News header, 2 of them involved South Korea. One was about the stem cell guy who was full of croddy research, and the other was about high level talks going on between NoKo and SoKo at Panmunjom...the exact building I was in the other weekend. Wow, crazy. Here's a link to the article; it's not too long and I found it fairly interesting: Koreas Open High-Level Military Talks [and Mom, I promise that this time it's actually a link to the article and not a link to a Daily Show clip :)]

Also, just as an Olympic wrap-up, I'd like to give the medal-count of South Korea: They had a respectable 11 medals (6 golds, 3 silvers, and 2 bronze). 10 of these medals came in short track. The other one came in speedskating. In my mind, it's all speedskating; but I guess short track is speedskating on a...shorter track (so it's not just a clever name). I made the mistake of calling short track speedskating and my co-teacher laughed hysterically. Dude, they're not that much different. Korea is obsessed with short track. During the Olympics the short track races were on all the time, and I swear there was at least 1 Korean in every heat. At least. And the Korean announcers would get super excited when a Korean would win, then they'd stick the person's name up on the screen in giant gold letters with a picture of whatever medal they won next to it. It was pretty funny. They also don't do touching stories on various Olympians like NBC does. Not like I could have understood them. I did get to watch NBC coverage of some events on AFN...but I missed the Ladies Figure Skating Long Program on AFN, so I had to watch the Korean airing. Not as good when you can't understand the announcer people, even though the lady announcing figure skating for NBC sounded like a total twat.

It was the first day of the semester today, but I didn't have any classes. Tomorrow will be the first day of classes...and the teacher I'm co-teaching with tomorrow just found out today that she was teaching with me half the time. Koreans seriously do not have foresight or any ability to plan things ahead of time. It's amazing (in a bad way), really.