Caveat: 세살적 버릇 여든까지 간다

Yesterday my student cited this aphorism to me – he was trying to figure out how to say it in English. Having seen it before in my aphorism book, I actually was able to decipher his idea – I think without that, I'd have had no clue what his intended meaning was. 

세살적 버릇 여든까지 간다
se.sal.jeok beo.reut yeo.deun.kka.ji gan.da
Three-years-MANNER habit eighty-UNTIL go-PRES
A habit of three years goes until eighty.

It means a childhood habit sticks with us for life. He was using it to explain why we can't easily stop people from eating junk food. 

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km; lifting boxes, 1 hr]

Caveat: Coming Down

This weekend, Karma is moving to a new location. I have to work through the weekend. Packing. Unpacking.

What I'm listening to, and suffering through, right now.

Willie Nelson, "Just a Little Old Fashioned Karma Coming Down."

Lyrics.

There's just a little old fashioned karma coming down
Just a little old fashioned justice going round
A little bit of sowing and a little bit of reaping
A little bit of laughing and a little bit of weeping
Just a little old fashioned karma coming down

Coming down, coming down
Just a little old fashioned karma coming down
It really ain't hard to understand
If you're gonna dance you gotta pay the band
It's just a little old fashioned karma coming down

There's just a little old fashioned karma coming down
Just a little old fashioned justice going round
A little bit of sowing and a little bit of reaping
A little bit of laughing and a little bit of weeping
Just a little old fashioned karma coming down

Coming down, coming down
Just a little old fashioned karma coming down
It really ain't hard to understand
If you're gonna dance you gotta pay the band
It's just a little old fashioned karma coming down
It's just a little old fashioned karma coming down

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: Ya no recuerdas quien soy

Lo que estoy escuchando en este momento.

Noséquien y Los Nosécuantos, "Pacha."

Letra.

(Lo que has hecho conmigo no tiene nombre…)

Ya no recuerdas quien soy
yo te hice el plan en la playa
tu te enfrentabas al sol
yo me acerqué por la espalda;

Pasado el susto inicial,
vencida tu desconfianza;
buscamos algo que hablar,
y cruzamos las miradas

Me fui con tu dirección
y tu número en la agenda
y en la mente una visión
mezcla de hembrita y pantera

Dejé que pasen los días
y a tu número marqué
y cuando por ti pregunté
me dijeron que ahí no vivías
(jajaja… ni siquiera te conocía!)

Tu no estás obligada a satisfacerme,
por esos no debes mentirme
si no te apetece verme

Trata de no ser falsa
busca ser sincera siempre,
piensa antes de recibir,
lo que puedas ofrecerme;

Lástima que con tu gracia
y con esa linda facha,
te quieras hacer la sapa
y actués como una pacha

Pacha, Pacharaca
Pacha, Pacharaca…

No sabes lo mal que estoy,
tú te has pasado de la raya
yo no me olvido hasta hoy
de lo que pasó en la playa;
te hize un par de poesías
No te veo de nuevo…
No te veo para que te ahogues
me dado cuenta al estar contigo
que eres una calienta vohues

Pacha, pacharaca…

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: des anecdotes du jour

Two short classroom anecdotes:

In my Sirius반 of 2nd and 3rd grade elementary students, I have a student named Andy, who is somewhat hyper. He is always wiggling. He never stops. He often is contorting himself in strange ways, like an incompetent ballet dancer who drank too much coffee. Yesterday, another student, the much more staid and laid-back Chloe, was sitting in her chair and doing this weird routine of leaning forward and leaning back, swinging her legs. In Andy, I would over look it, but with her, it was out of character. "Are you OK," I asked.

Her simple answer was: "Andy style." Everyone laughed – it was clear what she meant.

Today, in my Honors반, I was pretty upset. They were goofing off and refusing to answer the speaking questions we were doing in the book. I guess the questions were boring, and after the long holiday, the kids were still in "play" mode. They would just make fart noises or shake their head or say no no no. I got mad – I said there's a time to play and a time to practice speaking questions, and now was a time to practice. "I'm really angry," I said. I was frustrated. But even when I'm annoyed, like that, I don't really yell or carry on – I tend to just get serious, stop joking around, and push the class harder.

A student complained. "If you are angry, why don't you yell at us like a normal teacher?" 

Thus I received a remarkably insightful encapsulation of how the Korean education system works.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

 

Caveat: Time Passes, But Only Half a Beard

Over the little mini-vacation I had the last five days, I let my beard grow out. I was curious to see if I could do it – because of the radiation treatment 16 months ago, I lost most of the hair on the left side of my beard, but some stubble had me thinking it was coming back.

I was wrong. I grew half-a-beard, basically, with a few spots. It looked weird. I shaved this morning and went to work.

Moving forward, this is going to be a hellish couple of weeks, now – the vacation time is over. We have the regular end-of-month stress, compounded with physically relocating the hagwon next weekend to a new building. Ugh.


Unrelatedly, everyone needs a robot-writing-on-whiteboard clock.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: Find another planet, make the same mistakes

What I'm listening to right now.

Modest Mouse, "Lampshades on Fire." The lyrics made me think of one of my favorite books of all time, the children's classic The Wump World. Music by Modest Mouse always makes me remember driving across New Mexico with my brother in… hm, I forget what year that was. 2006?

Lyrics.

Mmm buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh-duh-dah
Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh-duh-dah

We’re all goin’, we’re all goin’

Well, the lampshade’s on fire when the lights go out
The room lit up and we ran about
Well, this is what I really call a party now
Packed up our cars, moved to the next town

Well, the lampshades’s on fire when the lights go out
This is what I really call a party now
Well, fear makes us really, really run around
This one’s done so where to now?

Our eyes light up, we have no shame at all
Well you all know what I’m talking’ about
Shaved off my eyebrows when I fall to the ground
So I can’t look surprised right now

Pack up again, head to the next place
Where we'll make the same mistakes
Burn it up, or just chop it down
Ah, this one's done so where to now?

Buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh-duh-dah
Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh-duh-dah

We're all goin’, we're all goin’

Well, the lampshade's on fire when the lights go out
This is what I really call a party now
Well, fear makes us really, really run around
Ah, this one's done so where to now?


Our eyes light up, we have no shame at all
Well, you all know what I'm talkin’ about
The room lights up, well, we're still dancing around
We're havin’ fun, havin’ some for now

Pack up again, head to the next place
Where we'll make the same mistakes
Open one up and let it fall to the ground
Pile out the door when it all runs out

Buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh-duh-dah
Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh-duh-dah

We're all goin’, we're all goin’

We have spines in our bones
We'll eat your food, we'll throw stones

Oh, this is how it's always gone
And this is how it's goin’ to go

Well, we're the human race
We're goin’ to party out of this place
And then move on

Tough love

We'll kill you off and then make a clone
Yeah, we got spines, yeah, we have bones
This is how it's always gone
And this is how it's goin’ to go

As our feelings are getting hurt
Ah, we want you to do the work
Our ass looks great inside these jeans
Well, we all just don’t wanna’ clean

Oh, this is how it's always been
And this is how it's goin’ to be
So, you just move on

The air’s on fire so we’re movin’ on
Better find another one ‘cause this one’s done
Waitin’ for the magic when the scientists glow
To push, push, push, push, pull us up

Spend some time to float in outer space
Find another planet, make the same mistakes
Our mind’s all shattered when we climb aboard
Hopin’ for the scientists to find another door

[daily log: walking, km]

Caveat: Clouds as Landmarks

I am a bit of a cartography nerd – this is known by some people. I have been spending some of my vacation time playing around with some pretty elaborate map-drawing software. The tools I'm using are JOSM on OSM files (OSM is from openstreetmap.org, but you can create offline map files using that format, which is transparently xml and open source). They have created a completely open-source world map that rivals google maps in quality, and being open-source, the data-sets are queryable and downloadable, which is fun for cartography nerds. OSM is a pretty elaborate scheme – there are whole websites dedicated to explicating the intricacies, including the official OSM wiki.

Most of what's on the  wiki is strictly informational, and dry, reference-style prose, often evidently written by non-native-speakers of English (OSM's user-base seems to be in continental Europe and former Soviet bloc, as is true for many successful open-source platforms).

All of the preceeding, however, is merely by way of introduction. I ran across a very excellent bit of humor today in surfing the OSM wiki: a guy proposing a data standard for mapping clouds ("tagging" is the term of art for this type of data standard). His proposal begins as I quote below:

Tag:natural=cloud

Used to tag an area of clouds. Clouds are very prominent landmarks which can obscure the sky for people living underneath them. They also cause a loss of precision in the mapping of the area they cover, because they hide the surface of the earth on aerial imagery.

Under "related tags," he mentions: 

rainy=yes/no – is used to indicate if the cloud can cause rainfalls.

My understanding, in perusing the comment threads attached to this entry, is that the author intended an April Fool's joke. In any event, it appealed to my sense of humor, especially to find it so well-done in such a normally dry and unhumorous context as a software reference website.

I guess I spent the day vegetating in front of the internet. Not really a way to feel I was using my time positively. I'm need to stick to my "no internet rule for Sundays" tomorrow, I think. 

[daily log: walking, 13 m]

Caveat: Foolishly he thinks his place is elsewhere

A Paradise of Poets

1
He takes a book down from his shelf & scribbles across a
page of text: I am the final one. This means the world will
end when he does.

2
In the Inferno, Dante conceives a Paradise of Poets & calls
it Limbo.

Foolishly he thinks his place is elsewhere.

3
Now the time has come to write a poem about a Paradise of Poets.

– Jerome Rothenberg (American poet, b. 1931)

[daily log: walking, 2 km]

Caveat: Um Happy Lunar Newyear

Oops, I almost forgot to post to my blog. I have 10 minutes until midnight, and if I don't post to my blog, I will turn into a pumpkin. 

On second thought, that doesn't sound so bad.

Anyway.

Having days off discombobulates my sense of time. I was hacking something. Sometimes I am puzzled at my compulsion to solve useless problems on my computer in the least efficient means humanly conceivable. I think my family will recognize that I come by that tendency legitimately.

Goodnight.

[daily log: walking, what, on Lunar Newyears day? Where would I walk? I heard the Chinese released a special newyear's smog at Beijing, I'm sure it's headed this way – it can't be good to go outside and breath that, can it?]

Caveat: WWW via Teletypewriter

Here is a deliberately anachronistic approach to the World Wide Web, in celebration of its 25th anniversary. The WWW dates to 1990 and the work of Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. However, in this video, a rather deadpan presenter uses much older equipment, including a 1960s vintage teletype terminal, a rotary dial phone and an acoustic-coupling modem.

I will date myself by saying that even this older equipment is not entirely unfamiliar to me, for which I credit the fact that my uncle, enrolled in computer science classes in the early 1970s at the local university, took me along with him to learn about computers. Thus I have actually operated terminals quite similar to the ones shown, including doing some BASIC programming when I was 8 or 9 years old. I think it was on the DEC "mini computer" at the university ("mini" being a relative concept – it occupied a largish, excessively air-conditioned room in the computer science department, and had blinking lights on the front, just like in the movies. Its computing capacity was probably about the same as a modern "dumb" cell phone – not a smartphone, which exceeds the computing capacity of even supercomputers of that era.

I remember making a text-based "slot machine game" where it said "PRESS ANY KEY" and it would give an apparently random assortment of slot-machinish results, e.g. "BAR CHERRY LEMON" or "BAR BAR BAR". But I made it so that I could manipulate the results to increase my chances of winning depending on which "ANY KEY" I chose to PRESS, in an utterly undocumented way. It was a kind of rudimentary "easter egg" (a term of art among programmers and hackers) wrapped in a pointless game. I would press the various keys for hours, watching the statistical variations in the output. I suppose it gave me a good intuitive grounding in statistics, although it wasn't until university that I realized that's what I had been doing.

I also enjoyed playing a text-based "Star Trek" game that was wildly popular in the 1970s on mainframes (many javascript "ports" of the game are available, for example here), in the pre-home-computer era. Later, when my uncle acquired an Apple ][, I believe it had some version of that Star Trek  game, too, but I moved on to Hamurabi, and later Space Invaders when he shelled out for a graphics card for the Apple.

[daily log: walking, km]

 

Caveat: 5-day weekend… whaa?

Well, Curt must be getting generous or something. Korean Lunar New Year's day (설날) falls on a Thursday, this year – the day after tomorrow. By Korean tradition, this means Wednesday and Friday off. In past times, when this kind of holiday happened this way, on a Thursday, I would still have to work Saturday. This year, we're getting Saturday off, too. I feel surprised. I don't think I've had so many days off in a row since I was getting radiation treatment and was too sick to work. 

Well, so, everyone is always so disappointed with my disinterest in "doing anything" for my time off. What would I do – get stuck in traffic travelling somewhere? No thanks. 

I'll be a hermit. Practicing for my career in the monastery. Updates coming soon.

Anyway, I have to rest up, since next week, after the holiday, I have to work through the weekend, because Karma is moving to a new location, and the big move will be on Sunday, to minimize disruptions to the teaching schedule. 

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: As your TV

Every Sunday is similar. I will start the day having some ambition to get some project done. I will fail in that ambition, because Sundays feel like "everything is optional."

Today, I opted to opt out. Suboptimal.

What I'm listening to right now. 

Zeromancer, "Philharmonic."

Lyrics.

Sit down and watch me
I want you to see me
As your TV, as your TV
As your TV, as your TV

Touched by your static
You see right, right through me
As your TV, as your TV
As your TV, as your TV

What you hide is what you are
What it takes to be a star, come on
You say there's beauty in a scar
Now what a stupid thing you are, sometimes

After you get what you want
You don't want it anymore
(Is that what you want?)
After you get what you want
You don't want it anymore
(Is that what you want?)

After you get what you want
You don't want it anymore
(Is that what you want?)
After you get what you want
You don't want it anymore

Slow down, zoom in
Rewind, do you get the picture?
Philharmonic
Philharmonic

As your TV
As your TV

What you hide is what you are
What it takes to be a star, come on
You say there's beauty in a scar
Now what a stupid thing you are, sometimes

Philharmonic
(After you get what you want)
(You don't want it anymore)
Philharmonic
(After you get what you want)
(You don't want it anymore)

Philharmonic
(After you get what you want)
(You don't want it anymore)
Philharmonic
(After you get what you want)
(You don't want it anymore)
Philharmonic, philharmonic

What you hide is what you are
What it takes to be a star, come on
You say there's beauty in a scar
Now what a stupid thing you are, sometimes

What you hide is what you are
What it takes to be a star, come on
You say there's beauty in a scar
Now what a stupid thing you are, sometimes
Philharmonic

[daily log: walking, 2 km]

Caveat: Soy un libro de nieve

Jardín de invierno

Llega el invierno. Espléndido dictado
me dan las lentas hojas
vestidas de silencio y amarillo.

Soy un libro de nieve,
una espaciosa mano, una pradera,
un círculo que espera,
pertenezco a la tierra y a su invierno.

Creció el rumor del mundo en el follaje,
ardió después el trigo constelado
por flores rojas como quemaduras,
luego llegó el otoño a establecer
la escritura del vino:
todo pasó, fue cielo pasajero
la copa del estío,
y se apagó la nube navegante.

Yo esperé en el balcón tan enlutado,
como ayer con las yedras de mi infancia,
que la tierra extendiera
sus alas en mi amor deshabitado.

Yo supe que la rosa caería
y el hueso del durazno transitorio
volvería a dormir y a germinar:
y me embriagué con la copa del aire
hasta que todo el mar se hizo nocturno
y el arrebol se convirtió en ceniza.

La tierra vive ahora
tranquilizando su interrogatorio,
extendida la piel de su silencio.

Yo vuelvo a ser ahora
el taciturno que llegó de lejos
envuelto en lluvia fría y en campanas:
debo a la muerte pura de la tierra
la voluntad de mis germinaciones.
– Pablo Neruda (poeta chileno, 1904-1973)

 [daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: Long-time teachering

I had one of those moments that hammers home just how long I've been teaching now, in Korea – and most of that time, in this same Ilsan neighborhood called Hugok. A 3rd grader in my Sirius반, who goes by Gina, mentioned that she had an older sister who goes by Sunny, and she and I talked about Sunny for a few moments – Sunny is in middle school now but doesn't attend Karma for her English. I remember Sunny very well, as her personality matched her English nickname. She was a bright and always optimistic student. But then Gina mentioned mention that I had taught her "other old sister" too: Irene. I drew a blank for a short moment, and the realized who she was talking about. "Irene" is now a university student. She was literally one of the first students I taught in Korea, as a member of my first group of 7th graders when I started at Tomorrow School. Later, with Ella and some others, she became a member of the original "princess mafia" – a group of middle school girls that was, perhaps, one of the first groups of students to give me the impression I was actually learning how to be a decent teacher.

"Oh… that's right. Irene is your sister." I said to Gina. She nodded. "Does she remember me much?" 

Gina shook her head. "No. Sunny does, but not Irene."

Well, figures. 

Actually, I had a really excellent class today, with the way-too-big combined HS반. 16 kids. Debate class. It went well. They actually formed teams and put in effort. 

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: 희기는 까치 배 바닥 같다

 This is an aphorism from my aphorism book.

희기는 까치 배 바닥 같다
hui.gi.neun kka.chi bae ba.dak gat.da
white-MYSTERYENDING magpie belly bottom be-like
To be like the belly of a magpie – white. 

I wasn't able to figure out any parse of -기는 that really made sense. "White" is verb-like (what is called descriptive verb, which stands in for adjectives in Korean). If I parse the ending as "summative" (기 – a bit like a gerund) + 는 (topic) I guess that gets close to a valid parse. It would make the whiteness the "topic" of the sentence, while the magpie's belly is a kind of complement, with nothing tying them together except the comparison for some unmentioned subject. Anyway, even without clarity on the grammatical issue, I think the translation is more-or-less passable.

The meaning, according to the book, is that it applies to someone good at lying, especially white lies or bluffing. 

I painted this picture a long time ago and posted it on the blog, but I think this aphorism merits a reposting of the picture.

picture

"가을의 까치" (ink and watercolor).

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: The Machines Have Arrived

picture

As I was leaving for work today, I happened to walk past an open closet area near the lobby of my apartment building, and my eyes were drawn by a bunch of blinking lights – like Christmas tree lights. I thought, "why are they keeping a Christmas tree lit up in that storage room, but then I realized it was a bunch of blinking ethernet connectors. This, apparently, was my building's "switch room." I had a momentary thought, as I realized the vast majority of apartment buildings in Korea must have something like this, and the vast majority of Koreans live in apartment buildings. That's a lot of internet infrastructure. Staggering, even.

Meanwhile, a woman got attacked by a robotic vacuum cleaner. Actually, I suspect there may be some missing information, and, this being South Korea, I suspect that missing information involves alcohol. 

The machines have arrived.

I had a long day at work.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: The State of the Hagwon 2015

We had a meeting today before work started, which I would describe as a kind of "State of the Union"-style presentation by our boss/owner, Curt. Of course, these kinds of things are in Korean… I can kind of follow the gist of it, much of the time, but details are lost on me. 

He seemed very optimistic and professional, and to be honest, I was cheered by it – although he often doesn't seem to have a clue about curriculum or marketing or any of the things that seem so important to running a hagwon, he really does at least a bit of a clue – it's just that he's just up against a lot of inertia – both institutional (i.e. "the way things are done" in the hagwon biz) and personal (he and I share traits of procrastination). 

One thing he did was show us a little video before starting his powerpoint. This is the kind of thing that Koreans working in education often pay a lot of lip service to but aren't very good at implementing, but which on the other hand Western educators take as given… as a kind of starting point. 

The video is in Korean but it's about education in the US, with some observations about the quality and style of education – and attitudes toward education – in the Jewish community in particular. I'll leave it as an exercise for the viewer to figure out the gist of it – it can help you relate to how I feel every day at my job. 

[UPDATE 20180330: Video embed removed due to link-rot, no replacement found. Sorry.]

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]