Caveat: More ghost stories of Karma

Here are some ghost stories written by my middle-school students – by my uncontrite TEPS-M cohort, to be exact. Really their stories are pretty good – I suspect in some cases they may be borrowing from plots of movies or TV shows or books that are unfamiliar to me in some cases, but even still they did a good job translating. I made quite a few grammatical corrections and even a few stylistic adjustments to their writing, but the ideas and descriptions are fundamentally theirs.


I am a taxi driver. One day, I was driving my taxi. It was a typical day. But that night, I was driving along a street where there were no people. Suddenly, a girl knocked on the taxi's window. She said, "Are you free? May I get in?" I said, "Sure," so she got in. She told me, "I need to get home fast!" So I drove very fast and girl told me the way to go. I arrived at her house, and it was a very old and big house. She said to me, "I'll give you the money, just wait a moment." She went into the house. I waited and waited, for a long time. After half an hour, I was feeling very angry. I was frustrated from waiting for her. I went up to the house and knocked three times on the door. A man opened the door and greeted me. He asked me, "What do you want?" I said, "Your daughter rode in my taxi and went into this house, but she didn't pay." The man was very surprised, and yelled, "What are you talking about? I was embarrassed. He showed me a photo and said, "Is that the girl you gave a ride to?" I answered, "Yes." The man said, "Oh, no. Today is the anniversary of her death. Oh, I miss her so much." He cried. I was very scared. I ran to my car and drove very fast to my house.


This is a true story about a haunted house. Last summer vacation, when I was 14 years old, I and another friend went to a haunted house. Our town is pretty old, so there are a lot of old, haunted houses around. Among them, we chose the building that was the biggest. It has 5 floors including a basement. We thought that it was an old clothing company, because there were so many old clothes and mannequins. The mannequins were especially scary, because they were taller than we were. On the first floor, there was nothing interesting – just a few mannequins and a counter. The second floor seemed to have been a storage area, and the third floor, too. The problem happened on the last floor, the fourth. It was a workroom, because there were some sewing machines and mannequins. This floor had more room than the other floors. We started by checking from room to room, and we checked all the way to the last room, then we returned. My two friends didn't notice it, but I did. All the mannequins' necks had rotated 180 degrees. I regretted that I didn't have a video camera. Still, I never wanted to go back to that place after that.


One night, I was at home. I was the only person in the house. It was really dark, so I turned up the lights. As it became bright, I heard a strange sound in my room. I was so scared. I hugged my dog, and I went to my room. When I turned on the light, there, I saw nothing in my room. At that time, I heard the strange sound in the living room. I felt even more scared, so I called my parents. The didn't answer their phone, however. I thought maybe the strange sound was coming from the computer or TV. I turned off the power for those things. Still, I heard that strange sound. Until this day, I don't know what that strange sound was. It's really scary to remember it.


There was a man once who said he wanted to sell a camera which he said could take a ghost's picture. He said he would sell the camera for three thousand dollars to people who can't see ghosts, and only five hundred dollars to people who can see ghosts. Someone came to try to buy the camera and offered five hundred dollars, but he couldn't find the ghosts that the camera showed. Two days later, someone who really could see ghosts came to buy the camera. Unfortunately, the camera had a problem with bad photo quality. So the customer came back to the man who had sold the camera, that man said he would fix it. In the pictures, there were some unclear pictures of ghosts. The camera seller said, "Let's meet tomorrow, and I will give you this camera, all fixed." The camera seller fixed the lens of the camera. It looked like a black point on a ball. He wiped off the lens and gave it to the customer, who was now satisfied with the camera. A few months later, after taking a lot of photos, the camera began to have a problem again. He complained the there was a red stripe. The camera seller took the customer to his home, where he stunned the man and pulled out his eye, which he put in as a new camera lens. You see, actually, the camera lens is the eye of someone who can see ghosts. The camera seller announced, "Here is the latest model of my ghost-seeing camera!"

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: Aaoooooo

Halloween is always a stressful time in hagwonland. That's because it tends to be a juncture of two things. First, it is a high-intensity teaching period in the hagwon context relative to the Korean academic calendar. Second, there exists the idea that the hagwon needs to have a Halloween party for the kids, one of the two big festival-like events we have each year. 

Which is to say, I have been very busy, and today is d-day. Or h-day. Something like that.


What I'm listening to right now.

Warren Zevon, "Werewolves of London."

Lyrics.

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's
Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein

Aaoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Aaoooooo! (Repeat)

If you hear him howling around your kitchen door
Better not let him in
Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again

Asoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Aaoooooo! (Repeat)

He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair
Better stay away from him
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim
I'd like to meet his tailor

Aaoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Aaoooooo! (Repeat)

Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen
Doing the Werewolves of London
I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen
Doing the Werewolves of London
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's
And his hair was perfect

Aaoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Aaoooooo! (Repeat)
Draw blood…

[daily log: walking, 6km]

 

 

Caveat: mezquino idioma

Portrait_of_Gustavo_Adolfo_Bécquer,_by_his_brother_Valeriano_(1862)RIMA I

Yo sé un himno gigante y extraño
que anuncia en la noche del alma una aurora,
y estas páginas son de ese himno
cadencias que el aire dilata en las sombras.

Yo quisiera escribirle, del hombre
domando el rebelde, mezquino idioma,
con palabras que fuesen a un tiempo
suspiros y risas, colores y notas.

Pero en vano es luchar, que no hay cifra
capaz de encerrarle; y apenas, ¡oh, hermosa!,
si, teniendo en mis manos las tuyas,
pudiera, al oído, cantártelo a solas.

– Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (poeta español, 1836-1870).

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Ladybugs are better than Canada

"Ladybugs are better than Canada." I said this to my coworker, the other day. It struck me as one of those possibly never-before-uttered phrases. 

Context: she had made some paper tokens for an in-class bingo game. One set of tokens had red maple leaves on them (i.e. "Canada"). The other set of tokens had cartoon ladybugs. 

She asked me which I thought were better. So I said, simply, "Ladybugs are better than Canada."


What I'm listening to right now. The Youngsters, "Smile (Sasha remix)."  No lyrics.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Tied to the shifting ground

I dreamed I was in some rural place. There were ramshackle, badly-plastered buildings scattered on a steep, gravelly hillside. Little springs of water were leaking out of clay embankments and skipping down the steep, tall grass.

The soil was ruddy. It was somewhat reminiscent of places I have seen in Korea, but also, in the dream, I felt the familiarity of my childhood in Northern California, along some river – the Trinity, the Eel. Thinking about it now, it was like my stepfather's "ranch" high above the South Fork of the Trinity river. I used to spend warm summer afternoons out on the hillside, trying to draw imaginary cities out of the rocky clay. 

Perhaps I was a child, myself. Someone nearby had a stuffed toy rabbit, and within the dream, this was utterly unremarkable. There was a dark, shrouded figure lurking in the doorway of one of the buildings, simply watching me. I didn't feel afraid of this, and it did not seem strange.

People were talking, milling around, but I wasn't being social. I was eating fish soup out of a paper cup. The bits of fish seemed like wax – like those was sculptures of food displayed in front of restaurants in Korea, sometimes.

I dropped my paper cup on the ground, and I was so angry, hungry and desperate that I began digging around on the ground for the little bits of fish and vegetables and eating them with chopsticks. Someone was laughing at me – a relative? a friend?

I ended up eating dirt and rocks. I focused on the ground, and ignored the people around me. It was one of those dreams I sometimes have, where I felt myself becoming an animal. Walking on all fours, loping along the hillside, biting at pebbles and blades of grass.

I slipped away into the forest.


What I'm listening to right now.

CHVRCHES, "Clearest Blue."

Lyrics.

[Verse 1]
Light is all over us
Like it always was
Like it always was
Shaped, by the clearest blue
But it's not enough
It's not enough, not enough

[Chorus]
Just another time I'm caught inside
Every open eye
Holding on tightly to the sides
Never quite learning why
You'll meet me, you'll meet me
You'll meet me halfway

Whenever I feel it coming on
You can be well aware
If ever I try to push away
You can just keep me there
So please say you'll meet me
Meet me halfway

[Verse 2]
Tied, to the shifting ground
Like it always was
Like it always was
You, were the perfect storm
But it's not enough, it's not enough
Not enough, not enough

[Chorus – Variation]
Just another time that I go down
But you are keeping up
Holding to a hope you'll undermine
Never to be reversed

Just another time I'm caught inside
Every open eye
Holding on tightly to the sides
Never quite learning why

Whenever I feel it coming on
You can be well aware
If ever I try to push away
You can just keep me, tell me

[Build Up]
Tell me tell me, you'll meet me
Tell me tell me, you'll keep me
Tell me tell me, you'll meet me
Will you meet me more than halfway up?

[Outro]
Shaped by, clearest blue
Shaped by, clearest blue

Shaped (will you keep it half-a-way)
By, clearest blue (will you keep it half-a-way)
Shaped (will you keep it half-a-way)
By, clearest blue (will you keep it half-a-way)

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: the furrow that is being plowed

I have been reading (re-reading? I may have read it long ago) Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution. Bergson is a somewhat underrated philosopher, in my opinion. I was led to him by Deleuze. I was struck by this quote (I have transcribed, at length – typos are thus my own):

Human intelligence, as we represent it, is not at all what Plato taught in the allegory of the cave. Its function is not to look at passing shadows nor yet to turn itself round and contemplate the glaring sun. It has something else to do. Harnessed, like yoked oxen, to a heavy task, we feel the play of our muscles and joints, the weight of the plow and the resistance of the soil. To act and to know that we are acting, to come into touch with reality and even to live it, but only in the measure in which it concerns the work that is being accomplished and the furrow that is being plowed, such is the function of human intelligence. Yet a beneficent fluid bathes us, whence we draw the very force to labor and to live. From this ocean of life, in which we are immersed, we are continually drawing something, and we feel that our being, or at least the intellect that guides it, has been formed therein by a kind of local concentration. Philosophy can only be an effort to disolve again into the Whole. Intelligence, reabsorbed into its principle, may thus live back again its own genesis. But the enterprise cannot be achieved in one stroke; it is necessarily collective and progressive. It consists in an interchange of impressions which, correcting and adding to each other, will end by expanding the humanity in us and making us even transcend it. [pp. 191-192 in my Dover edition]

To the extent that it is a coherent refutation of Plato's allegory, I like it a lot. To the extent it seems to embrace an almost naive pantheism, I don't, though I understand the impulse.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Silly Logic Problems

I had intended to post a something a bit longer today, by way of journaling my emotional roller-coaster this past week. But I had trouble finding gumption on a lazy Sunday, and so I haven't written anything I want to post.

Meanwhile, by way of distraction… I was looking at silly logic problems. I'm not actually that good at solving these. I think I lack patience.

I have been thinking of showing some of these to my students, however. I like the idea of combining English with these types of problems which so many of my students are so good at solving.

[daily log: walking, 1.5km]

Caveat: It’s much easier said than it’s done

Saturday classes are done.

Now I can rest. 

What I'm listening to right now.

Yeasayer, "O.N.E."

Lyrics.

One's not enough
I won't stop till I've given you up
Here, right as I am, it's hard having fun
It's much easier said than it's done

Hold me like before
Hold me like you used to
Control me like you used to

No
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't have you anymore

But I thought you should know
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't take it anymore

The room's still now when I'm lying
'Cause the well of the night has gone dry
When they ask to behave, I paid them no mind
Now I doubt if I'd have been so kind

Hold me like before
Hold me like you used to
Control me like you used to

No
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't have you anymore

But I thought you should know
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't take it anymore

Hold me like before
Hold me like you used to
Hold me like before
Hold me like you used to

Hold me like before
Hold me like you used to
Control me like you used to

Hold me like before
Hold me like you used to
Control me like you used to

No
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't have you anymore

But I thought you should know
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't take it anymore

But I thought you should know

And it feels like being tranquilized
I know the separation kills the soul
But I won't stop falling like raindrops
Because I like it when you lose control

I thought you should know
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't take it anymore

And it feels like being tranquilized
I know the separation kills the soul
But I won't stop falling like raindrops
Because I like it when you lose control

I thought you should know
You don't move me anymore
And I'm glad that you don't
'Cause I can't take it anymore

And it feels like being tranquilized
I know the separation kills the soul
But I won't stop falling like raindrops
Because I like it when you lose control

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: 생일축하합니다

Last night we had 회식 (“business dinner”), after work. It was to celebrate a rather large concentration of October birthdays. Most of the people standing up in this photo are having birthdays this month – exception being the boss on the right of the photo. Korean custom: everyone sings 생일축하합니다 (saengil chukhahamnida) to the American “Happy Birthday” tune, clapping their hands.

Hwesik20151022

I wish the physical act of eating were less unpleasant for me – it might make it easier for me to enjoy these occasions. Regardless, I wasn’t that unhappy about it – I felt less isolated than usual. After the extremely difficult week I’ve been having, it was actually a bit of a highlight.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: The Ghosts of Arcturus

It is a foggy October morning.

I have been having a really hellish week. Really long days of work, in early, out late. A lot of things going wrong. I wrote a long blog post complaining, but decided not to post it.

Last week we made ghost stories in my young Arcturus class.

Here are some ghost stories, crossposted from my work blog.

Andysghost

Cindysghost

Ginasghost

Tomsghost

Elizabethsghost

Bettysghost

Raysghost

[daily log: walking, 4km]

Caveat: The Nixonian Prophecies

December, 1971:

Justin Trudeau is born.

April, 1972:

While visiting with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa, Richard Nixon says, with respect to the Prime Minister's newly born son, "Tonight we'll dispense with the formalities. I'd like to toast the future prime minister of Canada, to Justin Pierre Trudeau."

October, 2015:

Justin Trudeau is elected Prime Minister of Canada.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: …and bad days

Two weeks ago I had a good Monday. Yesterday I had a horrible Monday. There are good days and bad days.

I hate when I lose control of a class. I know, objectively, that it doesn't happen very often. But when it does, I question my ability to be a teacher, I spin into self-doubt and anger. All that. Those obnoxious kids in the TEPS-M반 got the best of me, once again. By far it is one of the worst classes I've ever taught, on a very consistent basis. 

I hate that that class is the last in the day's schedule. The consequence is that I brought home my frustration and anger, instead of have some more pleasant class to clear my head first. I haven't come home that upset in a very long time. I wanted to become the incredible hulk and knock things down.


What I'm listening to right now. Muse, "Map of the Problematique."

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Content Thieves

Well this is interesting. I just discovered that some website is using my RSS feed and aggregating my blog posts. I'm not sure what benefit they are hoping to derive – I suspect the idea is to get eyeballs on their site, to drive up pageviews and thus payout from advertisers or a larger number of marks to sign up for their site. To get eyeballs on their site, they're using content of other bloggers, without those other bloggers permission.

In fact, I don't really care that much. I'm going to post this blog post, however, because I like the "meta" idea that this post will appear on that site.

To make this work, I will have to name and link to the site. However, I want to explicitly state to my normal readers the following CAVEAT: follow the link and visit that site at your own risk. 

The name is "BlogsInKorea" but the site domain is studyinkorea.or.kr. You can see my blog post from earlier today here:https://www.studyinkorea.or.kr/cast/910026.

It looks pretty sketchy – it has some features in common with the kinds of websites one finds being run, all too often, by Russians and Nigerians, including many spelling mistakes and a lot of empty links. On the other hand, if I was more fluent in Korean, I'd be tempted to call the phone number listed at the bottom. But that's a potential linguistic minefield I have no interest in trying to navigate.

In fact, I'm not particularly upset – it might end up just driving more traffic to my blog, where, since I have never had any intention of attempting to monetarize my own content, it will serve no purpose except the general enlightenment of the public at large.

As a point of general interest, however, I have a question for my regular readers: is anyone using RSS from my site? I don't think so. I may turn it off.

Update: It worked – the loop is closed. Here is this blog post, shown as a screenshot from their website. 

Contentthieves

Caveat: 吉祥善事

I learned this four-character Sino-Korean aphorism from my building’s elevator’s advertising TV yesterday.

吉祥善事
길상선사
gil.sang.seon.sa

The online dictionary gives the meaning: “더할 수 없이 기쁘고 경사스러운 일.”

It took me a while to figure out this definition, until I realized 없이 was an adverbialized form of 없다. From that, I guess this definition literally translates to something like “A happy and auspicious day unable-ly to grow worse,” but we have to make the adverbial into relative clause to make natural English: “A happy and auspicious day that cannot grow worse.”

Sounds like that would be a pretty good day. Not that I’ve had many in that category lately, although last week wasn’t really that bad – just very busy and I feel tired.

[daily log: walking, 1 km]

Caveat: Here Come Cowboys

Wow, that was a tiring week – first full schedule after the somewhat lesser schedule of the 내신 period.

I am utterly exhausted. So. More later.

What I'm listening to right now.

Psychedelic Furs, "Here Come Cowboys."

Lyrics.

There are colors flashing
People wearing stars and stuff
There are engines cracking
There's a way to turn it off

It gets so hard at times
To take it serious
It really gets to be a drag
When all we really need is love

Here come cowboys
Here to save us all
Here come cowboys
They're so well inside the law
Here come cowboys
They're no fun at all
Here come cowboys

You've been waiting so long
You've been waiting for today
Don't you put yourself on?
Don't you take yourself away?

It gets so hard at times
To take it serious
It really gets to be a drag
When all we really need is love

Here come cowboys
Here to save us all
Here come cowboys
They're so well inside the law
Here come cowboys
They're no fun at all
Here come cowboys

It gets so hard at times
To take it serious
It really gets to be a drag
When all we really need is love

Here come cowboys
Here to save us all
Here come cowboys
They're so well inside the law
Here come cowboys
They're no fun at all
Here come cowboys

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: Chickentweegret

In Australia, there is a chicken who tweets. As in… she has a computer keyboard in her coop and she sends out messages on twitter.

This is a sign that our civilization is advanced. My tweegret is now waning substantially.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Discovering A Car

Recently, it was "Columbus Day."

My thoughts on this could be summarized by this humorous quote: "Columbus discovering America is like a car thief discovering your car." – This is not an exact quote, but I have seen the concept attributed to comedian Chris Rock, in various incarnations.


Unrelatedly…

What I'm listening to right now.

Camera Obscura, "Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken." Who is Lloyd?

Lyrics.

He said "I'll protect you like you are the crown jewels", yeah
Said he's feeling sorrier for me the more I behave badly
I can bet

Hey Lloyd I'm ready to be heartbroken
'cuz I can't see further than my own nose at this moment

Jealousy is more than a word, now I understand
You can't stay a girl while holding a boy's hand

Hey Lloyd I'm ready to be heartbroken
'cuz I can't see further than my own nose at this moment
Hey Lloyd I'm ready to be heartbroken
'cuz I can't see further than my own nose at this moment

I've got my life of complication here to sort out
I'll take myself to an east coast city and walk about

Hey Lloyd I'm ready to be heartbroken
'cuz I can't see further than my own nose at this moment
Hey Lloyd I'm ready to be heartbroken
'cuz I can't see further than my own nose at this moment
Hey Lloyd I'm ready to be heartbroken
'cuz I can't see further than my own nose at this moment

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Libertarian Police Department

I was surfing some of the blogs I read, and found this blog post with a rather novel approach to defining capitalism. I'm not sure I find it entirely compelling, but I like the effort to break with philosophical and economic tradition. It takes a rather abstract, game-theoretic approach informed by information theory.

This article, however, led me in turn to this rather humorous bit at the New Yorker, about a "Libertarian Police Department" – which is a kind of oxymoron, of course.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Reviviendo Memorias de Haber Sido un Gringo Chilango

Lo que estoy eschando en este momento.

Café Tacvba, "Chilanga Banda." Esta canción es puro eslang de chilangos, que de cierto modo es mi dialacto "nativo" de castellano – o sea, el dialecto que aprendí primero. Mi apodo en aquella época era "gringo chilango." Y siempre me ha gustado. 

Letra.

Ya chole chango chilango
que chafa chamba te chutas
no checa andar de tacuche
y chale con la charola
Tan choncho como una chinche
mas chueco que la fayuca
con fusca y con cachiporra
te pasa andar de guarura
Mejor yo me hecho una chela
y chance enchufo una chava
chambeando de chafirete
me sobra chupe y pachanga
Si choco saco chipote
la chota no es muy molacha
chiveando a los que machucan
se va en morder su talacha
De noche caigo al congal
no manches dice la changa
al choro de teporocho
enchifla pasa la pacha
Pachuco cholos y chundos
chichinflas y malafachas
aca los chompiras rifan
y bailan tibiri tabara
Mejor yo me hecho una chela
y chance enchufo una chava
chambeando de chafirete
me sobra chupe pachanga
Mi ñero mata la vacha
y canta la cucaracha
su choya vive de chochos
de chemo churro y garnachas
Pachuco cholos y chundos
chichinflas y malafachas
aca los chompiras rifan
y bailan tibiri tabara
Transeando de arriba abajo
hay va la chilanga banda
chin chin si me la recuerdan
carcacha y se les retacha

[daily log: walking, 6km]