Caveat: Busytown 2.0

When I was a child I had an inordinate fondness for Richard Scarry books. They weren't really stories at all – they were cartoonified reference books with only the barest hintings of plot. Although which would be cause and which effect is not clear, I have ever since enjoyed refence books more than seems appropriate.

I ran across a comic in the series TomTheDancingBug, which I reproduce below. It is in Scarry's classic style, "updated for the 21st century." Funny.

1215cbCOMIC-richard-scarry

 

I never realized that Lowly Worm was an immigrant. But seeing here that he is, it makes perfect sense. I read once that Lowly was the "true protagonist" of all of the Busytown books. Now I see that he is possibly illegal. Suddenly I want to write a postmodern novel about him. This feeling will pass.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 hm]

Caveat: Is This My Life?

Yeah. It was Saturday.


What I'm listening to right now.

Metric, "Breathing Underwater."

 Lyrics.

I'm the blade
You're the knife
I'm the weight
You're the kite
They were right when they said
We were breathing underwater
Out of place all the time
In a world that wasn't mine to take

I'll wait
Is this my life?
Ahhh
Am I breathing underwater?
Is this my life?
Ahhh
Am I breathing underwater?

I'm the blade
You're the knife
I'm the weight
You're the kite
They were right when they said we should never meet our heroes
When they bowed at their feet, in the end it wasn't me

Is this my life?
Ahhh
Am I breathing underwater?
Is this my life?
Ahhh
Am I breathing underwater?

Nights are days
We'll beat a path through the mirrored maze
I can see the end
But it hasn't happened yet
I can see the end
But it hasn't happened yet

Is this my life?
Ahhh
Am I breathing underwater?
Is this my life?
Ahhh
Am I breathing underwater?

Am I breathing underwater? [x2]

[daily log: walking, 2 km]

Caveat: A triumph of text-art

A truly awesome, minimalist video I ran across: a triumph of text-art.

A Tax on Bunny Rabbits from Nathaniel Akin on Vimeo.

"A Tax on Bunny Rabbits" premiered at the 2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival. This short film is all text animation, ascii style! No bunnies were harmed in the making of this film. See more of my work at https://oxen.tv and https://riotsquad.tv

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: The End Result

… by which I mean, the end result of the interview with me last week. Below is a screen-cap of part of the interview posted on KarmaPlus's "blog" – I use quote marks because "blog" in Korean internet context isn't quite the same as "blog" in  the sense that this here blog thingy is a blog thingy. It's a sort of "advertorial website" – some of the material is produced by the advertising agency that Curt hires to do publicity for our hagwon, and some of the material is things we have said. It's all mixed together. If you click the picture it will take you to KarmaPlus's website – it's all in Korean, which makes perfect sense for an English hagwon, right? Nevertheless I urge you to visit it – it will give you a very different window on my world and life and work, I think.

Minterview

 

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km] 

Caveat: Who is the king?

I've been so tired lately. I know that officially I'm not sick, but I definitely can assert that I don't feel my health is optimal. I feel as if I am "older" than my actual age – ever since my run-in with badly-behaved telomeres last year. I'm not used to that feeling – up until then I have always felt "younger" than my actual age. Now I have all these creaks and aches and twinges and I just feel that my body is decrepit and broken.


Random geographic trivia fact of the day:

King County, Washington, has a population of 2,044,449. King County, Texas, has a population of 285. Who's the real King?

 [daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: yo siento hundirme

Lo que estoy escuchando en este momento.

José José, "Lágrimas."

Letra.

yo siento hundirme y me extremesco
si veo caer tus lagrimas
yo me arrepiento del mal que halla hecho
si veo caer tus lagrimas

yo te consuelo te abrazo y te beso
si veo caer tus lagrimas
y no quisiera ya nunca
volver a enjugar tus lagrimas

coro
lagrimas
el lenguage mudo de tu pena

lagrimas
la callada voz de tu trizteza

lagrimas
la expresion mojada de tu alma

lagrimas
la visible muestra de que me amas

lagrimas
de pasiones ondas y de heridas

lagrimas
de dolor profundo y de alegria

lagrimas
la palabra fiel de tu amargura

lagrimas
la verdad final que tu la ocultas

lagrimas…..

yo siento hundirme y me extremesco
si veo caer tus lagrimas
yo me arrepiento, del mal que halla hecho
si veo caer tus lagrimas

yo te consuelo, te abrazo y te beso
si veo caer tus lagrimas
y no quisiera ya nunca
volver a enjugar tus lagrimas

coro
lagrimas
el lenguage mudo de tu pena

lagrimas
la callada voz de tu tristeza

lagrimas
la expresion mojada de tu alma

lagrimas
la visible muestra de que me amas

lagrimas
de pasiones ondas y de heridas

lagrimas
de dolor profundo y de alegria

lagrimas
la palabra fiel de tu amargura

lagrimas
la verdad final que tu me ocultas

repetir coro

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: Foggy Sunday

I woke up feeling weirdly disoriented – perhaps from the break in routine yesterday. I peered out my window, and the fog was humboldtian (i.e. resembling the thick, persistent fogs so frequent in my childhood, growing up on the northern California coast).

My friend Peter posted a question to my post from yesterday. He asked what I meant by "the stream of almost jingoistic Korean semi-revanchism of the cultural component of the 'training.'" I suppose that's a bit of an exageration, but there were a few things that always bother me when they crop up in the nationalistically-toned "get-to-know-Korea" materials that are common in venues liek this. 

Firstly, there are the historical inaccuracies. One video stated that Korea had never started a war with another country. I seem to recall several instances from the medieval period when the country entangled itself in conflicts with its neighbors. There was the citation of the 2333 BC date as the founding of Korea, without any kind of admission that this date has no foundation in actual historiography, and is simply fixed by tradition. There was the display of a map of "Korea" from the medieval period showing it including most of Manchuria and Primorskiy (I think from the "Balhae" period), which although accurate is difficult to justify when decontextualized. This latter is what I meant by "semi-revanchism." As far as jingoism, I would say only the several references to the Dokdo question, which seems to be a nationalistic narrative perpetrated by the powers-that-be mostly intended to distract regular Koreans from other, more relevant news (maybe not unlike the way conversations in the US get distracted by "there is too much illegal immigration" or "Obama is a socialist" narratives). What's doubly frustrating about that particular issue is that, given that possession is 9/10ths of the law, I don't see what Korea has to worry about vis-a-vis Dokdo, anyway. I don't foresee Japan starting a war over it. 

The other thing that bothers me a great deal about these presentations is that whenever they make a presentation of hangeul (Korea's writing system), there tend to be manifold linguistic inaccuracies that grate on my sensibilities as a linguist. There is, foremost, the inevitable confusion between the ideas of "writing system" and "language," as in "King Sejong invented the Korean Language." Further, the discussions of the actual writing system are full of terminology that is inappropriate for linguistic description: "a perfect match to the Korean sound system" (clearly not true, phonologically – consider as one example the issue of vowel length which is not written but which is phonemic, or the question of the phonemic -ㅅ- inserted between morphemes sometimes). Worse, the idea that Hangeul is able to represent "the most different sounds"  is risible – the number of sounds represented by a given writing system is always a match for a given language's sound system, with whatever kludges are necessary to make it possible – e.g. diacritics, etc. Therefore the writing system that represents the most sounds would be the language with the most distinct phonemic sounds – perhaps Georgian?

Hm. So that's a bit of a rant, I guess. The only other negative were several of the foreign teachers themselves – it's inevitable when you have a gathering of nearly 700 foreign hagwon teachers in one place that you will get to see not only the high quality ones but a few of the bad apples, too – and there are definitely a few. One gentleman stood up during a question-and-answer session with an immigration official and asked why it was "the government's business" to know so much about us foreign workers…. um, excuse me, did you happen to notice you were a guest in this country? Did you happen to read the Korean constitution, which guarantees a number of rights — to citizens?You're not in that category. You can ponder why Korea doesn't grant those rights to non-citizens, but I'm not sure the lowly immigration official is the one to ask about it. 

Having said that, I will return to the "other parts" of the seminar, yesterday. Except for the cultural presentations (which were only about 30% of the time), I was actually quite impressed with the quality of what was done. I was not, in fact, bored, as I'd expected to be. There was a dance/martial arts demo that was quite professional, there were several awards presented to some teachers, there were speeches by two foreign teachers that were mildly interesting, and there was the charismatic professor of education whom I mentioned yesterday.

[daily log: walking to the store]

Caveat: 7 Years Late

I went to a provincial government-mandated "seminar" for foreign English teachers (e.g. E2 visa holders) who work at hagwon, as I do. Somehow, although I don't think it's a new law, I've always managed to avoid having to go for one reason or another (for example last year, I had cancer – heh). 

It wasn't as bad as it could have been, though I was plenty turned off by the stream of almost jingoistic Korean semi-revanchism of the cultural component of the "training." In fact, though, the part actually dedicated to teaching was pretty well done, mostly focusing broad based, inspirational aspects of "why we're teaching." The main speaker, a woman named Kim Jiyeong who has been a USC TESOL professor as well as a consultant to the Korean Education Ministry, had a substantial amount of charisma. 

The worst part of the whole program was the fact that it was in Ansan, which is in the far southwest suburbs of Seoul. Consequently, to attend a 3 and a half hour seminar I spent roughly 5 hours on the subway – 2 and half hours each way. And I had to wake up at 6 am in order to get there on time, which is hard given my normal work schedule. 

Anyway. I was tired when I got home, but didn't want to sleep, because it would mess me up. I forced myself to stay awake all afternoon and watched humorous videos on the internets.

[daily log: walking, 4 km]

Caveat: The Professor Loved His Father

A "type 6" TOEFL speaking question requires the answerer to summerize some kind of classroom-style lecture on an academic topic. We listened to a fairly simplistic passage about global warming. There is a kind of shorthand in TOEFL answers where one refers to the lecturer as "the professor" – I don't really like this style but it is encouraged by the sample answers in our textbooks, so I go with the flow.

My student Tom had a kind of brain-freeze and was unable to answer very well. So he said something like this: 

The professor loved his father. His father died. Because of global warming. It was very sad. Something to do with hairspray. And carbon dioxide. Yeah. Carbon dioxide. So sad.

I had to laugh. That would get a very low score. But somehow I couldn't feel upset. It was funny.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: placeholder

I guess my problem with infinitely delayed posts from my phone continues: I posted from my phone while I was at the hospital, and it never showed up. Rather than post it again and  then have it show up 36 hours later and thus have a duplicate, this post serves as a placeholder to show I am still alive until such time as that post from my phone actually shows up. Oh… and by the way… argh.

Update: I guess that email-based post will never happen. Or, perhaps by posting it here, that guarantees it will show up immediately. I'm deeply annoyed with my blog-hosting company now, but I'm frankly too lazy to bother opening a help ticket, since they've never been helpful in the past. I'll just deal with it.

Meanwhile, here is the gist of my original post from yesterday at the hospital – it wasn't really that interesting:

Caveat: Been there done that

It becomes almost routine after so many times: a return visit to good ol' room 12. Later I will have a consult with reassuring Dr Cho and his disconcerting German accent.

2014-11-20 13.50.32 (1)

The conclusion was: "nothing there to see." Which is to say, no evidence of any kind of metastasis. So I get to stay alive for some more time.

[daily log: walking, 7.5 km]

Caveat: DARPA Brings Burning Man to Jalalabad

I ran across an article about hippies-as-defense-contractors in Afghanistan, that I found compelling and read at one sitting, which with longer-form journalism as found on the web really isn't that common for me. More typically these days, I simply skim an article or will read it in parts over some period of time.

The article isn't that new – it dates from over a year ago – and the material it treats seems rather like the conceit to a novel rather than a simple journalistic account of something the really happened… it's a kind of William Gibsonesque or Thomas Pynchonesque take on the Afghan War. So it is like reading some kind of fiction, but I suspect it is mostly true. It almost (I said only "almost") makes me imagine going to Afghanistan. Perhaps if my inner demon metastasized, I would – just for a last hurrah.

Speaking of which, I get to spend tomorrow mid-day (before work) at the hospital, getting a regularly-scheduled CT scan and check-up. I always feel nervous for these things, even though it's essentially just a roll-of-the-die.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: vaa kári xás vúra kun’íimti poofíipha pa’áama.

Something was striking about this story. When they had the "dog salmon," (what's also called chum salmon), they had immortality. When the salmon were gone,  then death returned.

[1]

A woman and her sweetheart loved each other very much. But the woman's brothers disliked (the man). Finally they killed the man.

[2]

You see, (the couple) had hid for a long time in a cave. So when they buried him (there), then the woman went there. And she lay on top of the corpse. Finally she got sick, the corpse was swelling. And she said, "I'm sick, let me go out!"

[3]

Then when she slept, she dreamed about him. And he said, "Is it true that you grieve for me?" And he said, "If it is true, let me tell you what to do. You must go there where we used to stay, in the cave. You will see a grave there. And you will see two eyes float around. You mustn't be afraid of me. You mustn't run.

[4]

So she went there. And she saw that. And suddenly (a voice) spoke. And it said, "You must weave a burden basket. And you must make many dresses. When you finish, you will see a buzzard sit there on top of a rock. You must follow it. You see, that is the bird of the dead."

[5]

And so then she wove. And she said to a woman, "Let's go together!" She was her friend. So she too wove and made the dresses.

[6]

Then they finished. So they left. And they saw the buzzard. So they followed it. And they traveled, it was many days that they traveled. They were following the buzzard that way. And sometimes it was a brushy place where they traveled, their dresses got torn.

[7]

Finally they arrived, the country was beautiful and green. And someone rowed to meet them and landed them on the other shore. And they saw two old women there. And (the old woman) said, "Look, the one you are wandering around for is making a deerskin dance uphill. Why is it that you have come here? People with bones (i.e., live people) don't come here. Come on, let's hide you! Let them not see you!

[8]

So they hid them. So they stayed there for a little while. Then they were told, "Go back home!" And they were given dried salmon. There it was dog salmon. You see, they call dog salmon "dead-man's salmon." And they were told, "When a person dies, you must rub this on his lips. You see, he will come back to life."

[9]

So (the girls) went back home. They traveled back again that way. The buzzard brought them back. So when they returned to this world, they are the ones who did as it is done in the land of the dead.

[10]

Finally no person died, finally the people filled up the earth. Then when the salmon was all gone, they died.

– Mammie Oldfield, in William Bright's The Karok Language (1957), pp. 266-269, Text 58

Found at Kuruk online texts. I didn't presume to include the original, although I was tempted.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: I would throw away myself

I was almost feeling healthier, yesterday (recovering from that never-ending flu that nailed me a few weeks ago), but today I felt lousy. I have been sleeping very badly, lately. I will sleep a few hours but then wake up wide awake and unable to go back to sleep. So for today I just tried to relax.

I have been reading history. I may even finish a book this weekend.

What I'm listening to right now.

King Tuff, "Black Moon Spell." 

Shakespearean insult du jour:

Were I like thee, I would throw away myself. —from “Timon of Athens”

[daily log: walking, 2 km]

Caveat: Interview With The Foreign Teacher

Who is the foreign teacher? That's me.

I had to be "interviewed," this past week, for a "feature" on the a-birthing KarmaPlus website. I guess it will go online sometime next week. I received a list of questions – in Korean. I was able to figure them out, and I composed answers in English. My coworker translated them into Korean. I also gave a video answer to a few of the questions – in English. I don't know how those will be included. 

Here is my interview. Um… It's in Korean. I might add a translation later. For now, I guess it's just a place-holder.

Q1. 선생님 소개 간단히 부탁드립니다.
A1. 저는 미국에서 온 Jared Way입니다. California 에서 태어났지만 Minneapolis, Chicago, Mexico City, Chile, Philadelphia, Alaska, Los Angeles 등 여러 곳에서 살았습니다. 물론 지금은 한국에서 거주하고 있습니다.

Q2. 카르마플러스어학원에서 무엇을 가르치나요. 선생님의 교육 방침도 궁금합니다.
A2. 저는 원어민 영어 강사로서 스피킹 수업을 책임지고 있습니다. 초등학생들에게는 스피킹 수업을, 중학생들에겐 듣기 수업을 집중적으로 하고 있습니다. 위 수업은 TOEFL을 기반으로 한 수업들입니다.

Q3. 카르마플러스어학원의 장점은 무엇인가요. (답변 동영상 촬영)
A3. KarmaPlus 가 특별하다고 생각되는 점은 모든 선생님들과 직원분들이 진정으로 아이들이 영어를 잘 할 수 있도록 도와주는데 최선을 다하기 때문입니다. 학원이 아닌 하나의 community를 만들기 위해 전념을 합니다. 학생들은 그 community 안에서 더 잘 배울 수 있게 됩니다.

Q4. 카르마플러스어학원을 다니는 아이들 자랑 좀 해주세요.
A4. 미국인으로써 미국 학생들과 비교했을 때 한국 학생들의 공손함에 항상 놀라움을 느낍니다. 당연히 그렇지 않은 학생들도 있지만, 기본적으로 대부분의 학생들은 예의 바르답니다. KarmaPlus 의 학생들은 서로에게 친절하고 너그럽답니다. 그 모습이 너무 보기 좋습니다. 정말 열심히 하는 학생들도 있고 훌륭한 능력을 가진 학생들도 많답니다. 그렇지만 그 무엇보다도 저는 학생들이 서로 도와주는 것을 볼 때 가장 흡족합니다.

Q5. 한국에 언제 오셨나요. 한국에 살게 되신 계기가 있으신지요. 원래 전공은 무엇인가요.
A5. 제가 한국을 처음 온 것은 1990년 미군 복무 시절입니다. 그 당시 1년을 한국에서 보냈습니다. 그 때의 긍정적인 인상 때문에 2007년에 아이들을 가르치고 싶어서 다시 돌아온 것입니다. 대학 때 전공은 언어학, 스페인어, 그리고 컴퓨터 공학이며, 스페인 문학 석사학위를 가지고 있습니다. 그리고 컴퓨터 프로그래머로 오랜 시간 일을 했습니다.

Q6. 어린 시절 꿈은 무엇인가요.
A6. 어릴 때 제 꿈은 건축가였습니다. 고등학교 들어가서는 선생님으로 꿈이 바뀌었고요. 선생님이 되어서 몇 년을 가르치다가 컴퓨터관련 회사로 전향하게 되었습니다. 미국에서 선생님들은 저조한 월급을 받거든요.

Q7. 한국에 대한 첫 이상은 어땠나요.
A7. 기억해주세요. 제가 처음 한국에 왔을 때는 1990년이었어요. 그래서인지 제 첫 인상은 참 가난한 나라라는 것이었습니다. 그러나 제가 다시 돌아왔을 때 부유로워지고 성공한 한국의 모습이 너무 좋았습니다.

Q8. 가장 좋아하는 한국은식은 무엇인가요. 이유도 궁금합니다.
A8. 작년에 저는 큰 수술을 받았답니다. 그 결과로, 이제 먹는 것에 흥미를 잃고 힘겨워졌답니다. 맛의 감각을 잃었습니다. 하지만 수술 전에 저는 한국음식을 너무 좋아했고 특히 김치볶음밥과 같은 음식을 좋아했습니다. 요즘에는 국수 같은 간단한 음식을 먹고 있습니다.

Q9. 한국의 역사에 관심이 많다고 들렀습니다. 가장 기억에 남는 여행시나 문화 유적지가 있다면 어디 인가요. 그리고 가보고 싶은 한국의 여행지가 있나요?
A9. 가장 관심 있는 한국역사는 조선시대입니다. 사찰이나 유적지를 둘러보는 것을 좋아합니다. 관광명소로 잘 알려진 사찰들 보다는 오랜 역사가 있고 지금까지도 운영되고 있는 곳들을 선호하는 편입니다. 그리고 옛 한국이 보이는 도시에서 멀리 떨어진 시골을 좋아합니다.

Q10. 영어를 잘 할 수 있는 방법이 궁금합니다.
A10. 영어를 유창하게하기 위해서는 영어를 사용해야합니다. 저는 아이들이 관심 있어 하는 실질적인 주제로 실용적인 대화를 지속적으로 가집니다. 중학생들에게는 토론수업이 훌륭한 방법입니다. 광범위한 주제를 가지고 토론하며 아이들의 견해와 생각을 논의할 수 있습니다. 최근에 중학생수업에서 병역기피에 대한 엄청난 토론을 가졌답니다.

Q11. 아이들과 소통하기 위한 서생님의 방법 무럿인가요.
A11. 아이들에게 가장 중요한 것은 그들의 관심을 끄는 것입니다. 저는 학생들과 많은 이야기를 나눕니다. 저에 대한 이야기나 세상에 대한 이야기. 저는 아이들이 좋아하는 게임을 하는 것도 좋다고 생각합니다. 대신 그 게임은 언어의 연습을 요구하지요.

Q12. 앞으로 꿈이나 계획은 무엇인지요. (답변 동영상 촬영)
A12. 작년에 많이 아팠고 큰 수술을 했습니다. 그렇기에 지금 제 주 목표는 건강을 완전히 회복하는 것입니다. KarmaPlus에서 일하는 것을 좋아하는 이유 중 하나는 저를 위하고 돌봐주는 사람들이 모인 곳이기 때문입니다. 가까운 미래의 꿈은 KarmaPlus에서 계속 아이들을 가르치는 것입니다. 이제 일산은 제 2번째 고향입니다. 선생님으로서도 더욱 성장하고 싶습니다. 또한 TOEFL 커리를 가진 토론수업 교과서와 교재를 만들고 싶습니다.

 [daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: In Ur Ziggurat

I ran across this online on a linguistics-oriented website:

Akkadian Humor: We’re in Ur Ziggurat, Taking Ur Stuff

I thought it was really funny, but the evident imprecision bothered me. See, I really thought Ur was Sumerian, not Akkadian, and for a linguist to make that kind of error struck me as reckless.

I double-checked via the wiki thing, and Ur was definitely Sumerian, although interestingly, the name was later used by the Akkadians (who conqured and took over the Sumerian cultural legacy, much the same way that the Romans took over and adopted the Greek cultural legacy later on). Therefore, I wanted to humbly offer this slight revision of the joke:

Sumerian Humor: We’re in Ur Ziggurat, Taking Ur Stuff

But then I had a second thought: maybe that was part of the joke? Which is to say, the Akkadians conquored the Sumerians, and sacked the city of Ur (I think) several times. Therefore it makes more sense, in a way, if it's  the Akkadians in the Ziggurat, taking stuff. That being the case, my objection to the apparent imprecision is ill-founded. Who knows?

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: …hot in here

Two muffins are in an oven: One says, "It’s getting hot in here!" The other says, "Holy crap, a talking muffin!"

In fact, it's getting cold. Winter is wintering, soon, I think. It will go below zero (celsius) tonight for the first time this season. 

Time flies.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]