Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Hammer Fist

Sunday, 28 September 2008

One Step Closer to Being a Superhero

I took my belt test. I will not find out if I passed until next week. The guy who did the judging was a bit pudgy and I vowed to call him fat if he failed me. Once the test was over he gave us the grandmother lecture about piercings and an absence of politeness during the test (insufficient ceremony, really). The important thing:

I broke a board in half with my "hammer fist". *flex*

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Children are Vectors of Disease

I had a moment of clarity this week. It was during class. A student sneezed directly in my face as I was leaning down to check his work and I knew instantly that I was going to catch that little bastard's cold and so it has become. On the bright side, the cold will pass but the emotional scars I'm inflicting on him could last a lifetime.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Liancourt? Takeshima? No, Bitch, I Love Dokdo.

Just as I was departing for Hawaii there was an outbreak of panic as the most serious foreign policy problem facing the Korean peninsula came to a head: the perceived status of the Liancourt Islands to the United States of America was changed to "contested". Oh the drama! I'm always tempted to mock countries when they fight about useless rocks but now that I have a fairly firm grounding in international law I understand why it matters. On the other hand, I don't think that those are the reasons that any generic citizen from any country gets worked up about such issues[1]. Actually, it's fairly instructive that Wikipedia refers to them as Liancourt Rocks.

A coworker informed us that he recently saw a (facetious) list of ways to make friends in Korea and among the suggestions was to call the Dokdo Islands "Takeshima" and to call kimchi "kimuchi". Both are references to the long-standing bitterness that Korea holds for Japan because of that whole colonization thing[2]. Takeshima is the name for the islands given by Japan and "kimuchi" is the Japanese pronunciation because all but a single consonant sound is followed by a vowel sound in Japanese, in contrast to Korean.

Another coworker, who I appreciate more every week, found these socks referencing the recent flurry of patriotism and got me a pair. The are my very first foreign policy socks.

[1]And when such things come up I always hear Eddie Izzard in Dressed to Kill doing an impression of Britain insisting it needs to keep the Falkland Islands.
It doesn't come up til the last 30 seconds but it's worth the wait:

[2]I'm the first to admit that many of Japan's actions in Korea as an occupying nation were horrendous. I still have not brought myself to read The Rape of Nanjing, even though I purchased it, because I know it will give me nightmares. On the other hand, we occasionally see our first graders, formless, innocent humans, writing about destroying Japan. It has to stop somewhere and raising children to despise a country, wherein virtually no one capable of being involved in Japan's occupation of the mainland of Asia is still alive, seems absurd.

Midnight Madness

Why is it that I don't consider pursuing my desire to learn to juggle until the third glass of wine?

Also: Might I suggest you try putting peanut butter directly on top of vanilla ice cream? Do it.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Love & Hate

I love Dorothy Parker. I hate the people running the workshop where I'll be presenting. I love that I decadently hired an ajuma to clean my apartment. I hate that I still don't know what I'm doing 6 weeks from now.


There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle-
Would you kindly direct me to hell?

Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

I Love Foreign Policy Blog

UPDATE! If you want to know the current status of the destruction of the world via super-collider, Go Here.

I'm not prone to advertising for others but I'm re-kindling my love for Foreign Policy's blog.

Highlights include:
Linking to a set of diagrams on making a left turn in Beijing.

The new super-collider in Switzerland.

Putin's dethronement as the sexiest politician in Russia.

They're filming me teach tomorrow for the workshop. I am not pleased.

Arrr! Thanks Be to Steve

Drug-Runnin' English Teachers

I have now been in Korea over 10 months. Last week was the first time I ever heard low-flying jets rumbling over my neighborhood. This morning I heard them again. I decided it was time to finally register with the embassy. I realize that if the DPRK really starts something then the odds are that I'll be, at most, a grease stain but, on the off chance of an evacuation, I registered. While registering I was having some difficulties with the State Dept. site and ended up calling the State Dept. I was transferred to a very pleasant employee and after I realized my mistake I apologized to her for wasting her time and she asked me what I was doing in Korea. I said that, like everyone else, I was teaching English. She then told me that I was the first English teacher she had spoken to through her job that had not been arrested here. Numerous English teachers end up getting arrested for drug-related crimes. Some actually get involved in running drugs, others just get in trouble for receiving drugs in the mail. They're in the process of setting up a prison just for foreigners here, likely related specifically to that sort of activity.

Saturday, 6 September 2008


I'm not even drunk and I'm considering buying Eye of the Tiger on iTunes thanks to the video below. I strongly suggest the hockey video but the one beneath is the reason that Eye of the Tiger will haunt my dreams.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Say What You Will About the Tenets of National Socialism...

It's two am on Saturday and I have just finished putting together the first draft of my Power Point presentation for the workshop. Let's review the timeline on that:
*March: Inform director & other boss lady, in presence of immediate superiors, that I would like to give a presentation.
*June/July: Contact HR, head campus, and bosses again stating that I would like to present at the workshop.
*Mid-August: Present ideas to head campus and, again, state that I would like to be a presenter.
*Wednesday (2 wks later): Receive confirmation that I will be presenting, with no additional details, at 9pm.
*Thursday: Receive list of requirements, including a bio deadline of noon Fri. (the following day) and a presentation draft outline by Mon., late in the evening.
*Friday (today): Spend morning writing stupid 3rd person bio and re-org. materials into vaguely workable outline for approval by superiors. Work on PPT* from 10pm - 2am minus one hour for consultation with GWU Career Svcs. re: resume/jobs.

When I initially proposed presenting at the workshop it was because the presentations I had witnessed were horrible. I felt I had wasted money I hadn't even spent. Imagine being on an overseas flight where the only movies are by the cast of MTV's Jackass or undergraduate film/poetry students; that's what it was like, except at the end of it I was still in Korea. So then, in my naive youth, I wanted to make things better, to be a shining beacon, to contribute to the greater hagwon community.

After months of stagnation and frustration I stopped thinking about the needs of my colleagues and started thinking of the presentation as resume fodder. I blindly pursued the opportunity while thinking of bullet points and action words.

Now, I have reached some sort of nihilistic stage. I feel that I have passed through the veil of cynicism into some meta-cynical realm wherein I work hard and try to do everything just right simply to prove that it is a pointless endeavor. My very being is dedicated to showing by example that it doesn't matter what you do. I'm going to get a ferret, a German accent, and somebody's toe.

*I totally just saw an invisible bug walk away from the mouse. Perhaps it's bedtime...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

What I Want

I've come to the sudden determination that I want the following sometime soon after my return to America:
Preferably in DC: An all weekend Monty-Python-fest starting on a Friday afternoon. As much of the full DVD series of the show as possible must be shown in consecutive order, non-stop. The whole weekend. There should be a party at some point and MP should be on in the background the whole time. There would be baking at some point. I have no oven.

In other news: You cannot make nachos on the stove top. I realize that, from a purely theoretical perspective, this wasn't going to work even before I started. But in the name of nachos I forged onwards. There is now a protective layer of "pizza cheese" permanently separating one of my pans from the dangers of air.

It makes perfect sense that NYT columnist* William Kristol was the Chief of Staff for Dan Quayle (amusing commentary by WaPo's Richard Cohen).

*What is up with NYT's choice of editorialist/columnists? Even Maureen Dowd, who I used to find a tolerable read, sounds more an more like a harpy looking for a verbal meal of any political figure she comes upon. Krugman is the only one I have sincere intellectual respect for and that's largely influenced by his work in Economics. Brooks and Friedman are both complete prats whose knowledge and understanding of world events are mortifying and limited.