Caveat: Later

I have this one student, Sophia, who talks and talks and talks and talks and… you get the picture.

She is the closest to a native-speaking student I have ever had in Korea, I think, and she is quite verbal, too. She is in the 4th grade of elementary school, and has never studied abroad, so she is a bit of a prodigy – I'm sure I've mentioned her before.

She is also a bit "needy" and is constantly asking for things, wanting me to do things, needing my attention or time. I have a habit, with native-speaking kids, that I am hardly aware of, where I will say something that perhaps a lot of English-speaking parents or teachers say to kids. To these ongoing, persistent requests I will often respond, simply, "Later." If I listen to myself saying it, I hear my father's voice, clearly.

Today, Sophia came about 20 minutes early, before her class was scheduled to start. I was working in the staff-room.

She wanted to look at videos on my computer. I said, "Later."

She wanted to play a game on my phone. I said, "Later."

She wanted to "borrow" a board game from my drawer. I said, "Later, you have class soon."

"You always say 'later'," she whined. She has an amazing capacity to go from laughter to tears in less than 30 seconds.

"I'm a little bit busy," I said, by way of apology.

She made a kind of harrumph. She sat down in a chair near my desk and folded her arms, looking quite serious.

"What?" I asked, as she waited there with a grimmace.

"We need to discuss what 'later' means," she announced. Those were her words, exactly. I think she watches too many American TV shows, maybe.

 [daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: 눈치 없는 사람

I learned a new Korean expression from an elementary 2nd grader today – which is perhaps my preferred source of new Korean expressions.

She was describing another student as 눈치 없는 사람 [nun.chi eop.neun sa.ram], with a sigh of resignation. I said, what do you mean? She took the time to patiently explain it to me. This is why I like learning things from kids – they are more patient than adults in explaining things to clueless foreigners. 

I had learned 눈치 as meaning something like "notice" or "telltale clue". But apparently it also means "common sense" and "tact." So a 눈치 없는 사람 is a tactless person, or a person with no common sense. For that matter, it might be a close match for American slang "clueless", which seems capture the other valences of the word 눈치 well.

This is a very useful expression. A lot of kids have this issue. 


Last night, after work, we had a 회식 (work dinner) to celebrate the end of exam-prep time. I wasn't feeling very celebratory – I feel stressed, as we have looming month-end tests for elementary and the upcoming prepartion for our talent show thing at the end of May.

[daily log: walking, z km]

Caveat: monstruos socráticos

Los buzos diamantistas

I

Una nítida noche, en que la pedrería
sideral deslumbrada,
los buzos diamantistas, en santa cofradía,
descendimos al mar…
Puede ser -nos dijimos- puede ser
que la luz de Saturno, diluyéndose, forme
algún extravagante sulfato, alguna gema
nunca vista jamás…

II

Puede ser, nos dijimos…
Lunarios opalinos, Academias
rutilantes de nácar y coral,
donde monstruos socráticos decían
que sólo siendo feo se puede ser genial.
Dialéctica sucinta de un sabio calamar:
Seamos impasibles, sublimes y profundos
como el fondo del mar.
Si no por altivez, por desencanto
imitemos el gesto del océano
monótono y salobre…
Es lo mismo que un astro se derrumbe
o se muera un gusano.
Seamos impasibles como el fondo del mar…

III

Y después –oh adverbio ineludible–
una joven medusa iridiscente
embrujo nuestros sueños.
¿Qué doncella mortal puede tener
su encanto deleznable, y sus pupilas
que fosforecen vírgenes de llanto?
Una vez nada más, entre dos aguas,
contemplamos su grácil navegar.
Como el rey Apolonio ahora decimos:
Yo tuve un nombre,
un bello nombre que perdí en el mar.

IV

En un cielo violáceo bosteza Lucifer.
El ponto está cantando su canción azul.
Los buzos diamantistas, en sana cofradía,
volvemos a la tierra, a vivir otra vez.
Traemos del abismo la pesadumbre ignota
de lo que pudo ser…
– Renato Leduc (poeta mexicano, 1897-1986)

 [daily log: walking, 3.5 km]

Caveat: Draw, Scan, Edit, Print

Yesterday I finally did something I have been meaning to do for quite some time.

I took the time to scan one of my alligator pictures, "trace" it into a graphics application (Inkscape, which I'm trying to learn how to use), touch it up a little bit, and then convert to a scalable graphics image (e.g. a .PNG file in this case). 

I think the result went well. I printed out a bunch of these cloned alligators on our color printer at work, and immediately had tribes of elementary students bidding to "buy" these pictures with their alligator bucks. Helen said I should charge what the market would bear. I didn't charge – I gave them away. Socialist: alligator illustrations to each according to their need.

I will try to do a few more, I guess. This alligator is specific to our upcoming talent show. 

Karmagator3

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

 

Caveat: 두 손뼉이 맞아야 소리가 난다

This is an aphorism from my aphorism book.

두 손뼉이 맞아야 소리가 난다
du son.ppyeok.i maj.a.ya so.ri.ga nan.da
two palm-SUBJ meet-OFCOURSE(?) sound-SUBJ comes-out-PRES
With two palms meeting, sound comes out.

This has the meaning of "it takes a team [at least two] to get anything done." It's not quite the same as the English phrase "it takes two [to tango]", which has a kind of negative implication about how it takes two people to do something bad (like argue or fight). The Korean seems positive in its valences.

I was (am) puzzled by the ending -야 on the finite verb form 맞 아. According to my grammar bible, the -야 ending is for nouns with that "even" or "of course" meaning. But it made sense to assume that's what was being done here. I have a vague recollection of a verbal -야 studied somewhere, but  I can't remember the specifics and for the life of me I can't find it right now in my grammar books. 

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: The deep fragrance and impressive taste of coffee beans have just roasted

2015-04-26 11.56.20I was laughing at the slogan on a lovely cardboard coffee tote from a local coffee shop (picture at right).

The deep fragrance and impressive taste of coffee beans have just roasted.

A coworker asked what was wrong. "Is it bad grammar?" she asked.

"No. It's … grammatical," I explained. "But…  I don't think it means what they think it means."

If a fragrance and a taste get together one night, and roast, what is the result?


What I'm listening to right now. A whole new genre: "country hiphop."

Yelawolf, "Til It's Gone."

Lyrics.

[Verse 1:]
I'm not the table you can come and lay your cup down on, now
I'm not the shoulder for a bag. The one that carried a heavy load
I'm not the road that you take when you looking for a short cut, uh
I ain't the stepping stone to be stepping on
I ain't nobodies crutch
I ain't the money man, with your money, man
You ain't looking at me
I'm not the cheap one, looking at me son
You ain't looking at free
I ain't the dish rag to come clean up all the shit that you dish out
Ain't got no check for em'
If you checking in, mothafucka, check this out

[Hook:]
Ain't much I can do but I do what I can
But I'm not a fool there's no need to pretend
And just because you got yourself in some shit
It doesn't mean I have to come deal with it
You handle your own when you become a man
And become a man when you handle your own
Ain't much I can do, but I do what I can
But what can I do if I do till it's gone? Oh oh
Till it's gone. Oh oh [x3]
What can I do if I do till it's gone?

[Verse 2:]
I'm not the the trash can. Not the last man at the finish line, now
I'm not the new kid on the block that you can just follow and push around
I'm not the fucking needle in the hay stack that you finally found
This ain't no free rent. Come and pitch a tent
You ain't tying me down
I'm not a bus ride you can hop inside and just roll away clean
Like the wheel on the wagon you wanna break
Cause I hold up the weight for the team
I'm not the gold watch and the new truck that your scheming to check out
Unless your looking to check out (powpowpow)
What a mess, now (come on)

[Hook:]
Ain't much I can do but I do what I can
But I'm not a fool there's no need to pretend
And just because you got yourself in some shit
It doesn't mean I have to come deal with it
You handle your own when you become a man
And become a man when you handle your own
Ain't much I can do, but I do what I can
But what can I do if I do till it's gone? Oh oh
Till it's gone. Oh oh [x3]
What can I do if I do till it's gone?

[Verse 3:]
I jump to the sky for my people
I walk through the fire. I give love when it's equal
Don't tell me not to complain about my money and fame
When you come around me telling me I've changed
Damn, right I've fucking changed
When there's fucking change in my pocket hit the bucket
It was a rocking all a sudden
I went from shopping without nothing
To going shopping for my cousins
Now that the cops know that I'm buzzing,
They wanna drop me in the oven
Pull me over just to say "I'm a fan"
Hip hop; gotta love it, but fuck it

[Hook:]
Ain't much I can do but I do what I can
But I'm not a fool there's no need to pretend
And just because you got yourself in some shit
It doesn't mean I have to come deal with it
You handle your own when you become a man
And become a man when you handle your own
Ain't much I can do, but I do what I can
But what can I do if I do till it's gone? Oh oh
Till it's gone. Oh oh [x3]
What can I do if I do till it's gone?

[daily log: walking, 1 km]

Caveat: Ha! Ha!

Mostly my interest in travel has waned since my illness. I don't quite understand it, but I don't even fantasize about traveling in the way that I used to almost constantly. 

Anyway, nevertheless I ran across a place I feel I must visit – only because of the name.

There is the town, in Quebec, called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!

How could one not want to visit such a town?

[daily log: walking, 6.5 km]

Caveat: Soup for Nostalgia’s Sake on the Field of Justice

I don't get very ambitious with my cooking, much, these days.

Mostly, every time I buy some food item or attempt to cook some food item, out of craving or whatever, I am inevitably disappointed. Eating just isn't fun – not even the the easiest-to-eat foods, like omelettes or noodle soup (국수) or rice porridge (죽) – at best, they are utilitarian and serve the purpose of providing me with sustenance with minimal discomfort. 

So mostly I just don't bother. I have my instant soup mixes and my pasta and my eggs, and I prepare them always the same way and with the least effort required, because putting in extra effort or attention to detail offers no noticeable improvement in quality-of-experience. 

Last night I was feeling nostalgic. I had run into a former student, Eunjin, on the street the other day, and she shocked me by running up to me and hugging me (note that Koreans are not, normally, notable for effusiveness in this manner). She is in high school now but she had always been a remarkably motivated student in the years I taught her. She told me she hated English now because of how it is taught in high school, but she missed my classes. That was flattering, I guess.

Then my former coworker Ken stopped by work last night. He's left the English teaching biz and is working for Samsung in some businessman-type functionality. This is probably good for his bank account and his ambition, but may be contrary to his core inclinations. Anyway, although I don't think of him that often, in seeing him I realized I missed the constant dialogue and banter I'd had with him during our years working together.

Anyway, I was feeling nostalgic, and when I get nostalgic, I sometimes find myself cooking, for no good reason whatsoever. 

I made pea soup. It wasn't exceptionally fun to eat, but the act of making it was enjoyable, if that makes any sense. 

2015-04-23 09.57.53


What I'm listening to right now.

Philip Glass, "Satyagraha (Act 1, Tolstoy)."

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Rogue Teratocytes

I was reading a blog I sometimes frequent, called slatestarcodex, authored by a rather polymathic psychiatrist who has some background in conworlding (which the context in which I first came across him). 

He mentioned in one of his collections of links a concept I hadn't come across before, which is the idea of "cell line infections." Since this was clearly related to cancer, and I've become a bit of a glutton for semi-hypochondrial cancer-related online reading, I followed the link and satisfied my curiosity.

Here is the article. I also did some reading in wikipedia. 

Cell line infections are scary. The idea is that a given cancer can "evolve" sufficiently that it can be transmitted like other infections vectors – e.g. bacteria or viruses or prions – to other individuals. There are now documented CLIs for dogs, clams, and tasmanian devils (and in the last case, it may be contributing to the rapid extinction of the species). Basically, the idea is that my cancer could end up in your body, and take root there and become your cancer. Infectious cancer. More fun.

From a biological perspective, these cell line infections are weird. These are things that behave, for all intents and purposes, like single-celled parasitic organisms, not unlike infectious bacteria. Yet genetically they are your relatives (well, they are the relatives of the particular individual in whom they first arose). To anthropomorphize a bit, they know you. In the documented instance, the dog CLI knows how to deal with a dog immune system, for example – because it is, in a genetic sense, just a weird manifestation of an actual dog – a sort of single-celled vector of a dog. 

Apparently, there is something similar in the always-wacky insect world, among what are called parasitoid wasps. These wasps' eggs and larvae (implanted in other insect species' larvae) send out single-celled vectors called teratocytes that manipulate the host individuals' metabolisms to make it a friendlier environment for the growing eggs. This is not the same as e.g. the infamous toxoplasmosis, which is a case of a kind of mutualistic/parasitic symbiosis between a single-celled organism and several multicelled organisms. Instead, these teratocyte vectors sent out by the wasps are members of the same wasp species, genetically – just a kind of strange phenotype.

So following on that insect-related terminology, maybe these mammalian cell line infections could be called "rogue mammalian teratocytes." 

Just when one feels one has a handle on what is biologically possible, something comes along that makes it all seem quite ephemeral, and ungraspable – the cohesive theoretic picture melts into a swirling, incoherent field of possibilities, like a poorly-realized science fiction novel.

[daily log: walking, 7 km]

Caveat: The Semiotics of the Lego Movie

I had actually had some thoughts, in this vein, before running across this. But Mike Rugnetta says it eloquently and in depth. So I'll let him say it.

You see, the copyright-litigious LegoCorp has made a movie that is symbolically anti-copyright-regime. 

As Rugnetta points out, the "piece-de-resistance" is cash.

Anyway, hattip to Laughing Squid, where I ran across this video.

[daily log: walking, 6.5 km]

Caveat: I am not in Florida

… but my brother is in Florida.

He sent me this picture.

Mybrotherinflorida

One of our bonds, when we were both much younger, was building sandcastles on the beach in L.A. As an example, the below picture was taken at Santa Monica in circa 1994.

1994_SantaMonicaCACastle01

 

You can see the stylistic similarities.

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Out of kindness, I suppose…

Drizzly Sunday, and a typical lack of motivation to do even the barest minimum of things I probably should do. 


What I'm listening to right now.

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, "Pancho and Lefty."

Lyrics were by Townes Van Zandt.

Livin' on the road my friend
Is gonna keep you free and clean
And now you wear your skin like iron
And your breath is hard as kerosene

You weren't your mama's only boy
Her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said
Good-bye, sank to your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boy
His horse was fast as polished steel
He wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel

Pancho met his match, you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dyin' word
Oh but that's the way it goes

<chorus:>
All the Federales say
We could have had him any day
They only let him go so long
Out of kindness I suppose

Lefty he can't sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down South
Ended up in Lefty's mouth

The day they lay poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain't nobody knows

<chorus:>
All the Federales say
We could have had him any day
They only let him go so long
Out of kindness I suppose

The poets tell how Poncho fell
And Lefty's livin' in a cheap hotel
The desert's quiet, Cleveland's cold
And so the story ends we're told

Pancho needs your prayers, it's true
Save a few for Lefty too
He only did what he had to do
And now he's growin' old

<chorus:>
All the Federales say
We could have had him any day
They only let him go so long
Out of kindness I suppose

A few gray Federales say
Could have had him any day
We only let him go so long
Out of kindness I suppose

[daily log: walking, 1 km]

Caveat: Here Read This

My boss Curt handed me this document and said "here, you can read this." 

Answertongthing-page-001

Answertongthing-page-002

I think it will take me a long time with a dictionary. It's an excerpt from a teaching innovation periodical… something about some great new teaching methodology or something.


What I'm listening to right now.

Linkin Park, "In The End."

Lyrics. 

It starts with
One thing I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know
Time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away
It's so unreal
Didn't look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on but didn't even know
I wasted it all just to watch you go

I kept everything inside and even though I tried, it all fell apart
What it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when…

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

One thing, I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme
To remind myself how
I tried so hard
In spite of the way you were mocking me
Acting like I was part of your property
Remembering all the times you fought with me
I'm surprised it got so (far)
Things aren't the way they were before
You wouldn't even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me
In the end

You kept everything inside and even though I tried, it all fell apart
What it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when…

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There's only one thing you should know
I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There's only one thing you should know

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: Mean Kids

I had a frustrating day with my elementary kids. I feel like I'm not bad as an English teacher, but sometimes I am befuddled by trying to teach kids other things, like how to be kind to each other.

Several incidents recently have underscored how cruel kids can be, and I am at an utter loss as to how to teach kindness – the one thing I am certain of is that getting angry and yelling and scolding is NOT the way… because, in fact, that is exactly the type of unkindness it is purported to prevent. 

Anyway. Shrug.

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

 

Caveat: Plexiglass Pontiac

"Plexiglass Pontiac" sounds like the name of an alternative rock band from Michigan, but in fact it's a real thing that was made in 1939 to show off the new material called Plexiglass (clear plastic). They called it the "ghost car." 

I saw a mention of it on the mymodernmet website. It reminded me of my childhood, indirectly – the exposed innards of pre-WWII cars were a fixture of my childhood, due to my father's hobby (and for a time, profession) of old car collector.

Transparentplexiglascar12

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Teacher! Kevin hit me

Vona is a first year middle-school student (so, 7th grade). She has been stopping by now and then to say hi, since the middle schoolers are in exam prep right now and I don't see them in class.

Today, she stopped by and she said, "all you do is rest?" I had to show her that I was actually working on stuff and not just sitting idly at my desk in the staff room all evening while the middle schoolers labor away at grammar quizzes in their special prep classes. She nodded, as if not quite believing that I was working. She asked if I had any food. This is a standard refrain from middle school students. I offered to sell her a cookie for alligator dollars, but she demurred. She started to walk away.

Then she turned and complained, as if an afterthought, "Teacher! Kevin hit me." 

"That seems believable," I said. "Well, probably he likes you," I mused, teasing.

"Oh." She considered this a moment, as if it genuinely had never occurred to her. "Well, I think it's OK, then."

She walked away.

 [daily log: walking, 6.5 km]

Caveat: that man-made mountain

What I'm listening to right now.

Sims, "Future Shock."

Lyrics.

I was born in 82
about the time of the Cold War flew
born when the world was small
before we connected the zoo
look at the way we grew
dropped the borders but we kept the walls
the things we made to pull us close push us all
we hear the ring but screen the calls
so close we could almost touch
but so far we don't speak on the bus
so close I can almost see your breath
but so far I can't hear your words
I don't go a day without a button pressed
the years go by in a blur
it's the time of plenty, inbox full
so why do I feel so goddamn empty?
but look at how connected we are
the whole globe at your fingertips
speed the pace it's an instant fix
Space Age but I feel boxed in
and it's wide open
and I'm dying to know
why I feel disconnected
am I dreaming demons, alienated
or do I just get what I expected?
they say it's greed that keeps people turning
feeds the lonely and the beasts of burden
East of Eden but at least we're earning
the ice is melting and the trees are burning
reporters all say it's all but lost
and all we can do is watch
so I walk with my shoulders dropped
watch these blocks stack up with stores
is this what we're working for?
filling that hole with goods, what's good?
but the chokehold ain't local no more
it's global and closing its doors
it ain't about right or wrong
what side you're on
but the things we traded
how many sights for many sights
how is your life?
I was born in 82 but I live in 2000 and now
all the things I thought I knew
turns out they were never around
and all the people I met today
well, they all the same feeling that emptiness
fill it up with Fendi till the trendiness fades
then throw that thing away
I want the one with the new features
until the next one out then
bury it a little deeper
add on to that man-made mountain
you could have it all, the campaign touting
the cars and the champagne fountain
but that pool's only deep enough to sink
but these fools don't even stop to think
they just want that bubbly
now they spilling on you
ain't that lovely?
what a mess since they jumped in
now they scream save me, save me to the public
but we barely know the subject
we're all out doing for us
in so far, so far in fact
so near so packed we don't speak on the bus
loss of love, loss of mind
loss of love, loss of mind
running out of time
loss of love, loss of mind
loss of love, loss of mind
damn near out of time

[daily log: walking, 1 km]