Caveat: Tree #311

The neighbor, whose house burned down in August, apparently got some insurance money, and is rebuilding. He’s hired someone to put in an improved driveway and a new house-pad, higher than the old house. I’m a bit skeptical in the way this new project has overflowed onto the tribal lands to his east – his new driveway cuts off from the road almost a 100 feet east of his property line. But the new driveway does afford a nice view of the charred but still-living tree down by the water-line where the old house was.


Here is a view of the new house-pad down the old stairs, the lower part of which we had to destroy with the chain saw during the night of the fire, to prevent the fire from spreading up the stairs.


picture[daily log: walking, 2.5km]

Listening files links

Listening files links!


HtMSftTOEFL Intermediate







말하기 쉬운 한국어 2


Caveat: Author Profile


[UPDATE 2018-02-09: This page was created in 2013, and I have not updated it. I am putting it here because I have closed the site where it was originally hosted. Most of it is still broadly accurate.]

My name is Jared Way. I have created this website for interacting with my current students, as well as to present myself professionally. I also maintain a personal blog if you want to see more about me.


Brief Background

In 2007, I returned to teaching after working for many years in information technology (database programming and business systems analysis). I had worked as a high school teacher in the United States in the 1990’s.

I came to South Korea and I worked for several hagwon (after-school academies) in Ilsan (Goyang City), Gyeonggi, South Korea, from September, 2007, until August, 2009. In April of 2010, I started a one-year contract at Hongnong Elementary School in Hongnong, Yeonggwang County, Jeollanam, South Korea. This was a rural, public school. After that contract ended (April, 2011), I returned to Ilsan and have been another hagwon there since then until the present (January, 2013).

In most of my positions I have worked as speaking or listening skills teacher, with a focus on iBT (TOEFL) preparation or debate-based curricula. I find that debate, especially, is an excellent way to teach integrated languages skills to Korean students, regardless of level or age.

Personal Data

South Korea has a distinct culture and it is extremely common for people I barely know or have just met to ask me questions that would be considered rude or “too personal” in an American cultural context. I think just putting this information online for people to see is easiest.

  • Marital Status: Single (widowed – my wife passed away in 2000).
  • Children: 1 step-son, age 25. I have no current dependents.
  • Age: 47 by Western calendar (48 by Korean reckoning).
  • Height: 178 cm. Weight: 85 kg.

Why Korea?

At some point a some years ago, I became fascinated with Korean language and culture. I have a background in linguistics, and the Korean language is both fascinating to me but also intensely challenging. I have decided that I welcome this challenge, and although it may take a very long time, I hope to stay in Korea until I feel I have reached some degree of competency with the Korean Language. That is one of the reasons why I choose Korea instead of some other location to pursue my teaching career.

Nevertheless, for me the teaching work is more important than the language study, which is perhaps why, after five years in Korea, I’m continue to struggle with the language at a fairly low level – it is often hard to find time and opportunities to study and practice effectively.

I have grown very fond of Korea and Korean culture.

Additional Materials

Below is a list of other materials I have made available online [UPDATE 2018-02-09: all links are broken!].


Multimap Test Page

I’m not exactly in the closet about my geofiction hobby – I’ve blogged about it once or twice before, and in fact I link to it in my blog’s left sidebar, too – so alert blog-readers will have known it is something I do.

Nevertheless, I’ve always felt oddly reticent about broadcasting this hobby too actively. It’s a “strange” hobby in many people’s minds, and many aren’t sure what to make of it. Many who hear of it percieve it to be perhaps a bit childish, or at the least unserious. It’s not a “real” hobby, neither artistic, like writing or drawing, nor technical, like coding or building databases. Yet geofiction, as a hobby, involves some of all of those skills: writing, drawing, coding and database-building.

Shortly after my cancer surgery, I discovered the website called OpenGeofiction (“OGF”). It uses open source tools related to the OpenStreetmap project to allow users to pursue their geofiction hobby in a community of similar people, and “publish” their geofictions (both maps and encyclopedic compositions) online.

Early last year, I became one of the volunteer administrators for the website. In fact, much of what you see on the “wiki” side of the OGF website is my work (including the wiki’s main page, where the current “featured article” is also mine), or at the least, my collaboration with other “power users” at the site. I guess I enjoy this work, even though my online people skills are not always great. Certainly, I have appreciated the way that some of my skills related to my last career, in database design and business systems analysis, have proven useful in the context of a hobby. It means that if I ever need to return to that former career, I now have additional skills in the areas of GIS (geographic information systems) and wiki deployment.

Given how much time I’ve been spending on this hobby, lately, I have been feeling like my silence about it on my blog was becoming inappropriate, if my blog is meant to reflect “who I am.”

So here is a snapshot of what I’ve been working on. It’s a small island city-state, at high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, with both “real-world” hispanic and fully fictional cultural elements. Its name is Tárrases, on the OGF world map here.

Here is a “zoomable and slidable” map window, linked to the area I’ve been creating, made using the leaflet tool.

There were some interesting technical challenges to get this to display correctly on my blog, involving several hours of research and coding trial and error. If anyone is interested in how to get the javascript-based leaflet map extension to work on a webpage (with either real or imaginary map links), including blogs such as typepad that don’t support it with a native plugin, I’m happy to help.

I have made a topo layer, too. I am one of only 2-3 users on the OGF website to attempt this – But the result is quite pleasing.

Songs that might be fun for the kids

I needed a place to “stockpile” video links of songs I think have some teaching potential or entertainment value for my students.

They Might Be Giants, “Walking My Cat Named Dog.” Originally by Norma Tenaga, 1966.


I’m walkin all around the town
Singin all the people down
Talkin around, talkin around.
Me and my cat named Dog
Are walkin high against the fog
Singin the sun
Singin the sun

Happy, sad and crazy wonder
Chokin up my mind with perpetual dreamin…

I’m driftin up and down the street
Searchin for the sound of people
Swingin their feet, swingin their feet
Dog is a good old cat
People what you think of that?
That’s where I’m at, that’s where I’m at.

Happy, sad and crazy wonder
Chokin up my mind with perpetual dreamin…

Dog is a good old cat
People what you think of that?
That’s where I’m at, that’s where I’m at, that’s where I’m at.

They Might Be Giants, “Elephants.” 


they’re not the largest mammals
but they’re biggest on the land
so when I say “please step away”
I know you’ll understand

they’ve got two tusks up front for fighting
or digging in the dirt
so you can see how easily
you’d end up getting hurt

get out of the way
get out of the way
the elephants are coming through your town today

they’re great communicators
with waves called infrasound
seismically clear – you’d barely hear
them travel through the ground

and while the cows all stick together
and congregate at home
the bulls go out and walk about
they’d rather be alone

get out of the way
get out of the way
the elephants are coming through your house today

did you hear about the farmer… 


They Might Be Giants, “Omnicorn.”


omnicorn. like no other creature ever born
on its head is every manner of horn
the omnicorn’s the one
the one

omnicorn. hiding over by the edge of the pines
now it’s running past the hunting lodge sign
no one will see it go

I’ve been to museums
I’ve seen the no-see-ums
I know what I’m talking about

omnicorn. even rarer than a unicorn
it’s got every single kind of horn
omnicorn’s the one
the one

omnicorn. leaping over someone’s mobius strip
left behind from a vacationing trip
that’s something to talk about
omnicorn go
omnicorn go
omnicorn go
omnicorn go




Color Song


What color is the sky?

It’s blue.

It’s blue.

It’s blue.

The sky is blue.

The sky is blue.


What color is the sun?

It’s yellow.

It’s yellow.

It’s yellow.

The sun is yellow.

The sky is blue.


What color is the grass?

It’s green.

It’s green.

It’s green.

The grass is green.

The sun is yellow.

The sky is blue.


What color is an apple?

It’s red.

It’s red.

It’s red.

An apple is red.

The grass is green.

The sun is yellow.


The sky is blue.
The sky is blue.





Phonomimes, Phenomimes and Psychomimes

This is a list of Korean phonomimes, phenomimes and psychomimes. In Korean, phonomimes are called 의성어, while phenomimes and psychomimes (without distinction) are called 의태어.

Most are reduplicative, but not all, cf. 날씬. Most are adverbial, but not all, cf. 똑똑하다 which is only allowed with the verbal suffix -하다 (there exists an adverbial 똑똑 but the semantics are completely different, as it seems be simply a phonomime “knock knock”). Many of them show variants with an alternation of vowels (mostly within the old Korean vowel harmonies). Most of them appear to derive from “native Korean” (pre-Chinese substrate) but a few have hanja (i.e. are borrowed from Chinese, e.g. 당당하다) – these might not belong, strictly speaking, to the same category but I have included them anyway because the semanto-phonotactics are the same.

There are quite a few, and I have posted several blog entries about them in the past, but I have decided to maintain a simple consolidated list as a separate page, as I have never found one online that exactly presents them in just this way, as a simple list.

The distinction between them is quite vague and unclear. When does a phonomime become a phenomime? When does a phenomime shade into a psychomime? I don’t know that such distinctions are even useful – one can use a phonomime metaphorically to pass into the other semantic categories. What’s interesting to me is their existence as a broad and seemingly fairly active semantic category, collectively.

Actually, the relation in wikipedia between the articles on “ideophone” and on “sound symbolism” (which includes discussion of phenomimes and psychomimes) overlaps substantially, without either article seeming to be aware of the other. In fact, there is other work in other places,  too, that doesn’t tie this together very well. In general, the “internet’s” understanding of this phenomenon seems quite fragmented and poor. This is another motivation for posting this updatable “page” on my blog space.

Personally, I’m not sure what to call these, collectively. “‘Mimes”? “Reduplicative adverbials”? “Sound symbolic sememes”? I’ve seen the term “mimetic words.”  I think I like “ideophone.”

So here is a list, in 한글순서 (Korean “alphabetical” order) – roughly, I haven’t worked too hard to make sure the vowels under each consonant are in correct order.

  • -ㄱ-
    • 갈갈 [] = greedily, ravenously, avidly
  • -ㄲ-
    • 꽹구랑 꽹꽹깽 [ kkwaeng.kkwaeng.kkaeng] = gongingly
    • 깡충깡충 [kkang.chung.kkang.chung] = bouncily, “hoppingly” 
    • 깡총깡총[kkang.chong.kkang.chong] = bouncily, “hoppingly”
  • -ㄴ-
    • 날씬 [nal.ssin] = slimly, slenderly
    • 늘씬[neul.ssin] = slimly, slenderly
  • -ㄷ-
    • 당당하다 [dang.dang-hada] = to be stately, to be imposing, to be dignified, to be fair
    • 드르르 [deu.reu.reu] excellently, smoothly
  • -ㄸ-
    • 똑똑 [ttok.ttok] = “knock, knock”, “drip, drip”
    • 똑똑하다 [ttok.ttok-hada] = to be smart, to be clever, to be bright, be be explicit, to be distinct
    • 띵가띵가놀다 [tting.ka.tting.ka-nol.da] = to play around, to goof off, to dink around
  • -ㄹ-
  • -ㅁ-
    • 말똥말똥 [mal.ttong.mal.ttong] = wide-eyed staringly
    • 멀뚱멀뚱 [meol.ttung.meol.ttung] = wide-eyed staringly
    • 말랑 몰랑 물렁 [mal.lang mol.lang mul.leong] = softly / tenderly (as a texture of food)
    • 말캉 몰캉 물캉 [mal.kang mol.kang mul.kang] = softly / tenderly (as a texture of food)
    • 말랑말랑하다 [mal.lang.mal.lang-hada] = to be soft, to be tender, to be spongy
  • -ㅂ-
    • 보글보글 [bo-geul-bo-geul] = boilingly, bubblingly
    • 바글바글 [] = boilingly, bubblingly
    • 부글부글 [bu.geul.bu.geul] = boilingly, bubblingly
    • 바삭바삭(-하다) [] = to be crispy
    • 방긋방긋 [bang.geut.bang.geut] = broadly [as in a smile]
    • 반짝 [ban.jjak] = sparklingly, twinklingly
    • 번쩍 [beon.jjeok] = sparklingly, twinklingly
    • 반짝반짝 [ban.jjak.ban.jjak] = sparklingly
    • 비슬비슬 [] = reelingly, totteringly, in a staggering or faltering manner
  • -ㅃ-
    • 뽀글뽀글 [ppo.geul.ppo.geul] = boilingly, bubblingly
    • 빠글빠글 [ppa.geul.ppa.geul] = boilingly, bubblingly
    • 뿌글뿌글 [ppu.geul.ppu.geul] = boilingly, bubblingly
    • 빡빡 [ppak.ppak] = crustily, tightly, narrow-mindedly
    • 뼉뼉 [ppeok.ppeok] = crustily, tightly, narrow-mindedly
    • 빤짝 [ppan.jjak] = sparklingly, twinklingly
    • 뻔쩍 [ppeon.jjeok] = sparklingly, twinklingly
    • 부둑부둑 [bu.dok.bu.dok] = damply-drily, a bit damply mostly drily
  • -ㅅ-
    • 섭섭(-하다) [seop.seop] = disappointedly, sadly
    • 살짝 [sal-jjak] / 설쩍 [seol.jjeok] = stealthily
    • 싱글벙글 [sing.geul.beong.geul] = smilingly
    • 살살 [sal.sal] = gently, softly
    • 설설 [seol.seol] = gently, softly
    • 솔솔 [sol.sol] = gently, softly
    • 술술 [sul.sul] = gently, softly
    • 슬슬 [seul-seul] = gently, softely
    • 살금살금 [sal.geum.sal.geum] = sneakily
    • 새콤달콤하다 [sae.kom.dal.kom-hada] = to be sweet and sour
  • -ㅆ-
    • 싹독 [ssak.dok] = choppingly, snippingly
    • 썩둑 [sseok.duk] = choppingly, snippingly
  • -ㅇ-
    • 아삭아사(-하다) [asakasak] = to be crunchy
    • 옹기종기 [] closely together
  • -ㅈ-
    • 정정당당하다 [jeong.jeong.dang.dang-hada] = to be fair and sqaure
    • 주렁주렁 [ju.reong.ju.reong] = richly, with fullness
  • -ㅉ-
    • 쫄깃쫄깃(-하다) [jjol.git.jjol.git] = to be chewy
  • -ㅊ-
    • 추룩 추루룩 추루룩 [chu.ruk] = downpouringly
    • 찰랑찰랑 [chal.lang.chal.lang] = lappingly, sloppingly
    • 출렁출렁 [chul.leong.chul.leong] = lappingly, sloppingly
  • -ㅋ-
    • 콜콜 [kol.kol] = gurglingly, deeply
    • 쿨쿨 [kul.kul] = gurglingly, with snores, [sleeping] soundly
  • -ㅌ-
    • 통통(-하다)  [tong.tong] = plumply
    • 퉁퉁(-하다)  [tung.tung] = plumply
  • -ㅍ-
    • 퍽퍽 [peok.peok] = thrustingly, with repeated thrusts
    • 팍팍 [pak.pak] = thrustingly, with repeated thrusts
  • -ㅎ –
    • 흔들흔들 [heun.deul.heun.deul] shakily

 [last updated 2015-10-09]

IIRTHW Part III – My Ideal Hagwon

In the form of various unstructured entries with fairly random thoughts, I’ve been working on this project for several years, and it’s come to have the name “If I Ran The Hagwon” (abbreviated as IIRTHW). This topic seems to be evolving into my first effort at something resembling long-form journalism on my blog. Here is Part III. I posted Parts I and II several months ago. Unlike Parts I and II, this Part III is intended to be an evolving document, because, as I observed in a blog-post dated October 4th, 2013, I keep changing my mind. So… this article is permanently UNFINISHED – please bear that in mind as you read it.

UPDATE: On October 11th, 2013, a hagwon owner who blogs under the name wangjangnim wrote an extended “response” to this list of ideas (appearing simultaneously on his blog and at I think overall his response is fair, and I understand his counterpoints and criticisms. Please note, however, that if you are linking to this page from that article, that this is intended to be an evolving document (as pointed out above). Therefore I may introduce edits which alter or revise the points below in such a way as to make wangjangnim’s criticisms incoherent – indeed, I have already begun to revise some of the points to better clarify them in light of his thoughts.

[Part I]

[Part II]

Part III – My Ideal Hagwon

Now that I have established, in the previous two parts, the business context for running an English hagwon in South Korea in this day and age, I want to try to answer the question, what would make a great hagwon?

I have frequently had these “If I Ran The Hagwon” fantasies. I’ll admit, too, that I have been more than a little bit disappointed in the putative “curriculum development” aspect of my current job description – both due to my own failings and and due to the lack of genuine opportunities offered to do so. The constraints on what I can do about the curriculum in my current position at KarmaPlus Academy are even more constrained than under pre-merger Karma Academy, too.

Everything following is strictly based on my own opinions – they’re the things I would do in my hagwon. It is not my intention to exclude other, even contradictory approaches to running a hagwon. I believe very strongly that in a fragmented market, there is room for multiple products.

What comes below, then, is a list of strategies or “ways of business” that I’d like to try. This list began with the previous list I was making on my blog (entries here and here) – the individual ideas have morphed and developed but I have made an effort to retain the numbering of those earlier ideas (1-12), with new ideas added as higher numbers (13+).

Idea 1. (HR.) Weekly English Class for Korean Teachers.

The English language hagwon business has a core mission: teaching English to Korean students. Therefore language competency is at the core of the business. Because of this, I suggest that there should be a program encouraging a constant improvement of language skills on the part of all staff. The non-native-speaking English teachers (Koreans) should improve their English. Korean teachers should have some amount of time set aside each week to study their English, and this should be a compensated additional duty of the English native-speaking teachers to provide instruction.

As a point of observation: this was an actual duty of mine at my public school teaching job. Every week, I had to teach an English lesson to my fellow teachers. Frankly, I believe it’s even more important in a hagwon environment, where quality-of-instruction is paramount. It could be argued that it takes away from time teachers could be teaching or prepping for class, and thus represents an “overhead cost” that has no impact on the bottom line. I think it’s important to differentiate short-term thinking from longer-term thinking, here: are we trying to build an institution with loyal and well-qualified employees, or just trying to pay next month’s bills? I know the fiscal position of a typical Korean hagwon is perilous – but please note the use of the word “Ideal” in the title to this article.

Idea 2. (HR.) Weekly Korean Class for English Teachers.

For the same reason as Idea 1, above, vice versa, non-Korean-speaking teachers (i.e. foreign teachers) should have some amount of time set aside each week to learn Korean, and this should be a compensated additional duty of the Korean-speaking teachers. This functions as a perk for the foreign teachers and a way to get the Korean and foreign teachers interacting, too.  It can also provide some awareness of cultural-differences to both sides.

Koreans’ lack of trust and failure to include foreign teachers in team building and decision making ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, over time the foreign teachers cease trying to be team members and become unreliable.

Idea 3. (HR.) Full Social Engagement Between Management and Co-Workers.

Management should provide opportunities for colleagues to interact socially and provide incentives for them to do so – foremost, that means being willing to subsidize social events of various kinds. This might seem extravagant, but the “pay off” in team cohesion is significant. Managers should feel obligated to attend certain types of social events of their employees, and should encourage other employees to attend too. Things like weddings, children’s first birthdays, etc., are very important in Korean culture, and by attending these sorts of functions, they’re showing interest in their employees lives. I suspect managers and coworkers avoid these sorts of things (when they do) because of the cost (since small financial contributions are essentially obligatory).  For this reason, there should be a discreet gift fund set up to make this possible for managers and employees who want to attend but can’t afford to.

Although one could protest that this kind of thing is “excess” and unnecessary to the core business of a hagwon, in fact half of the hagwon that I have worked at have operated this way. It definitely improves staff morale. Some employees resent contributing to a gift fund, but I have never felt that way, as it all “comes around” anyway.

Idea 4. (HR.) Regular Business Lunches and Dinners and/or Catered Meetings.

For the same reason as Idea 3 (above), group meals should be a regular event, and should be an integral part of the schedule. I really enjoyed eating meals with my bosses and coworkers, when I was working at the first hagwon I worked at in Korea, where we did that several times a week. Although it’s true that business conditions for hagwon were much better in 2007 than more recently, nevertheless I think that the owner’s generosity with staff at that first hagwon I worked at contribed greatly to the fact that it was also, arguably, the most successful hagwon I’ve worked at. I also remember learning a lot about my coworkers and my job when I would eat lunch in the cafeteria at Moorestown (NJ), when I was teaching (high school Spanish) there.

In both cases, above, it comes down to building your staff into a community.

For large hagwon, this could operate on a once-a-week “team lunch” type concept, rotating between different teams of teachers.  It can be on-site or off-site (although I prefer on-site, and I think it’s cheaper, too).  You will get strong participation if you make the “free meal” part of the perk package, and pay for it out of the hagwon’s operating expenses. This doesn’t need to be expensive food, either.

Idea 5. (Administration / Curriculum.) Month-to-Month Curriculum and Enrollment.

The Korean hagwon market is almost entirely “month-to-month.” Parents are billed month-to-month, and make decisions about enrollment / re-enrollment / cancellation on monthly boundaries. So why do hagwon create complicated multiple-month academic calendars, only to have kids dropping out and in at the most inopportune times (vis-a-vis that same complicated schedule)?  There should be monthly progress evaluations. Grades and enrollments should be closed out monthly.

There can be “continuing” curricula, but there should be logical breaking points built on the calendar-month boundaries so that “drop-ins” don’t struggle. Preferentially, however, I’d like to move toward a curriculum system that “closes” each month – that is, no books or materials cross month boundaries. This is because parental investment in curricular materials inevitably makes them reluctant when one wants to accelerate (or more rarely “demote”) students. This is because they want to get their “money’s worth” out materials. Alternately, though, moving toward a strictly in-house production model for curricular materials solves this problem, as materials are then essentially provide gratis. 

Idea 6. (Curriculum.) Adopt an Individualized Learning Model

The Negotiated Classroom Environment

Contracts and Empowerment

I still have vivid memories of the novel and unique “contract-based” learning that was used at the Moore Avenue school I attended as a child (grades 1-3). I think that the concept of written contracts with children is exceptional as a means of motivating and making expectations clear, and I’d love to try to develop and apply something like that in a hagwon environment, where it seems even more appropriate (given it’s both a private business and a specialty “after-school” educational institution).  It would allow for the hagwon to market itself as highly individualized while not over-taxing teachers with extensive “counselling” duties.  Contracts could be based on quantity-of-work metrics (projects completed, workbooks filled out, etc.) and on relative score increases on standardized or specialized level tests (such as the widely used TOSEL tests in Korea, and special interview tests – see below). The whole could be managed with an interactive website.

Clear Expectations (Detailed Syllabus)

Learning as Edifice

Make “project folders” or “portfolios” for students that are kept at hagwon. This is useful with younger ages that have a hard time keeping track of their materials. They should have a “homework kit” and an “at school kit” and the “at school kit” can stay at school, checked out to students as required. This meshes well with Idea 12 (below) on the topic of teachers keeping fixed classrooms.

Do counselling about choosing “best work” for once-a-month selections. There can be derived amazing value from having negotiated class content: setting goals about a) test scores, b) material completion or progress or projects

Idea 7. (HR.) Monthly Teacher and Course Evaluations.

There should be regular objective and subjective teacher and course evaluations, which should not be subsequently ignored by the management.  Teachers and courses can also be evaluated on the basis of progress in student scores on standardized and placement tests, which should be administered monthly. Korean parents love objective measures, and hagwon should work hard to generate genuinely meaningful objective measures of both student progress and teacher and course effectiveness (see also curriculum and testing, below). Using free online survey tools is one way to do this cheaply and effectively without eating into classroom time, too.

Idea 8. (Administration.) Simplified Daily/Weekly Schedule, and Consolidated Homeroom and Study Hall for Each Cohort.

Why are hagwon schedules so complicated? I feel as if the typical 200-student hagwon in Korea has a more complex schedule that the average American university. Is this necessary? There seems to be a mindset in Korea that schedules should be complicated, constantly varying and constantly adaptable. This is not entirely alien to US schools either, but the contrast seems to be one of just how important the integrity and constancy of the schedule is. In the US, schedules are changed because of “major events.” In Korea, schedules – even public school schedules – seem to change as a matter of routine. I don’t think it is necessary, nor do I feel it creates an atmosphere conducive to learning.

If I ran a hagwon, I would create a “master schedule” and perhaps one or two “special event schedules” (for parties, informational sessions, special tests, etc.). Then those would be considered inviolable vis-a-vis the other priorities at the hagwon. 

There should be a Korean-speaking, consolidated homeroom/”study hall” at the beginning or end of each day’s schedule for each cohort of student.  This would be a place to check homework, attendance, pass out memos and other administrative stuff… It would help to keep it separate from classroom face-time for instructors, and provide a chance to check each student’s individual progress in a way that minimizes time wasted in the teaching classroom. Also, it would not necessarily have to employ teachers with a high level of English competency. This would mean that teachers could be hired with other strengths (administrative skills and compassion for students would be notable requirements), probably at a cost savings to the hagwon management.


Idea 9. (Curriculum.) Integrated / Immersive Curriculum, When Possible.

I think it would be more fun for teachers and students to have integrated curriculum (all “four skills” [reading / writing / listening / speaking] combined) with topic-based courses rather than skill-based courses. For example, history class, literature class, debate / discussion class, science class, etc.  As well as intensive “clinics” in particular skill areas, prep courses for standardized tests. There could be different, varied  and interesting different offerings for each monthly cycle. All offerings could be evaluated for their ability to draw students’ interest and their ability to improve scores on test metrics.

“Kid College” (The “Chinese Menu”)

Idea 10. (Testing.) Testing! Lots of Reliable Testing.

Learn to love the test. I wrote about this quite a while ago, and if anything, over time I’ve become more and more of a believer in this. Rather than follow my US-based, alternative-education background and instincts, which would impel me to reject so much testing, I think instead we should embrace South Koreans’ obsession with testing and leverage it to create a more responsive hagwon system that earns customer loyalty.

Frequent Testing

I have been becoming more and more convinced that the reason English education in Korea focuses so much on teaching grammar and memorizing lists of vocabulary is not, in fact, because they believe that it’s the most effective way but rather that the educators are just simply so desperate for quantifiable results, and they don’t really know how to consistently and reliably quantify other aspects of the language acquisition process. So they stick to those things – prescriptive grammar rules and vocabulary – because that’s what they can easily test and quantify. In light of this, the key to changing method in hagwon instruction is to show that there’s a better way, where you can still get measurable, quantifiable results. That’s why I’m a fan of lots of testing, and not because I believe testing is, in and of itself, a smart thing or the best methodology. But if we are going to improve English education by changing the core subject areas that are taught, we have to prove that there are ways to quantify the other aspects of language knowledge: the pragmatics of speaking, conversation, listening, etc.

Well-Designed Tests and “Teaching to the Test”

Don’t just use standard ABCD multiple choice test formats. There should be something I have been thinking of as a “graded dialogic evaluation” – roleplay-based “situation cards” that students would have to respond to with trained testers, where the situations that needed to be played could be controlled for vocabulary and concept content (e.g. “let’s talk about what you did last year” would be testing things like past tense and vocabulary about activities).  They would be graded in difficulty, and in sufficient number that there was a basically random selection (although in free-form [judged] speaking tests, repeated material is not necessarily problematic, since pre -memorization / cheating is nearly impossible).  Each month students would take these tests, and scores would be based on “highest level of card” completed along with simple judge-scoring (cf. how TOEFL speaking is scored, 4 point scale).  Staff doing the testing would not be the same staff that teaches the students (computers make this kind of administrative task fairly easy).  This IS labor-intensive, but I think the value should be immediately apparent.  I basically envision dedicated testing days, say two each month, with special schedules.

Make a giant test question database for level testing. Keep track of which questions which students have completed. Keep scores, averages, results, correlates (e.g. offline test scores). For issues surrounding the technical implementation of this idea, see Idea 11 (below).

Idea 11. (Infrastructure.) Leverage free and low-cost technology effectively.

Technology to Support Administration

Technology and the internet doesn’t need to be expensive. Technology can be and should be better leveraged than what I’ve so far seen. Internet Cafes (as Koreans call web forums) can be created for classes. Grades and teacher and course evaluations can be interactive. Writing assignments can be mediated using FREE! tools like Google Apps, rather than crappy ActiveX-based Korea-specific fee-based websites.  The web is swarming with fairly effective (and often free or nearly free) software-as-a-service that can keep in-house technology cost and know-how requirements to a minimum.

Technology for Instruction

Technology for Testing

Technology for Marketing

This is, in fact, the only aspect of technology that I view as obligatory as opposed to optional. Technology for instruction, for testing, and even for administration – these are all things that can be leveraged if-and-only-if you can afford to do so. But in Korea’s smartphone-obsessed, internet-driven culture, technology for marketing is a must-have.

Idea 12. (Infrastructure.) Make Your Hagwon A Home.

Overall Environment

“Broken Windows” Policing

Cleanliness and graffiti: there has been a problem with this in every hagwon I have worked at, while at the same time most public schools I have been in have essentially zero problem with this. There are different systems in place. In public schools, students form work details and clean their environment themselves, regularly, with teacher supervision. In hagwon, students are not responsible for cleaning and if they were, parents would complain, since they’re paying “good money” for a privately maintained learning environment. So the hagwon is responsible for their own cleaning maintenance, but there aren’t the same kind of incentives to keep it pristine. I would like to espouse the “broken windows” philosophy, and suggest that learning environments be kept pristine. I’d put the staff to work on periodic cleanup detail, and over time they’d have incentives to better police classroom behavior.

Fixed Classrooms for Teachers

Teachers should have fixed classrooms. In every hagwon I’ve worked at, except the first one under some circumstances, the student cohorts have fixed classrooms and the teachers pass from classroom to classroom. This is perhaps convenient in some ways, administratively, and there’s less confusion and bustle from the problematic of having the students change classes between teaching periods. However, I think it has a lot of disadvantages. One of the foremost is that the teachers don’t have any incentive to personalize their classrooms, and very little impetus or motivation to keep their classrooms clean and well-maintained, etc. The kids write graffiti, things get broken, etc. This doesn’t happen in public schools where teachers “own” their classrooms. Besides, I’d so very much love to have a space I could call my own, to decorate, to personalize. You can put posters, bulletin boards, maps… anything you need or want for teaching.

A question to meditate on: who is the staff room for?  How does this fit into the priorities of a hagwon?

Invest in Classroom Comfort

It would be nice, too, if there was sound proofing / spacing and volume in classrooms

Arrangeable desks are best: arcs, circles, facing rows, groups… (

Idea 13. (HR.) Non-stop Teacher Training.

Pedagogical and Methodological Training

Businesses should not be afraid to dedicate resources and time to staff improvement.  Teachers working at Korean hagwon often have many years of teaching experience, but they rarely if ever have any formal background in pedagogy or teaching methodology. I think this can make for significant mistakes in curriculum design and development, not to mention implementation and classroom management issues. There should be opportunities within the work environment allowing teachers to learn about child psychology, pedagogy, and education theory, methodology and practice.

Language Training specifically is covered under Ideas 1 and 2, above.

Idea 14. (Curriculum.) Curriculum Design.

Put Testing at the Center

Pedagogically, this is controversial, but in the Korean cultural and educational context, inevitable. So rather than fight it, embrace it. The key, if you’re going to be teaching to the tests, is to have impeccably designed and administered tests.

Parallel Tracks (Athens vs Sparta)

A hagwon could be very successful if it had “Parallel tracks” which you might term “traditional/academic” versus “creative/immersive.” I’ve been thinking, especially, about what might be characterized as the “fun vs work” dichotomy in parental expectations.

Some parents send their kids to hagwon with the primary intention that it be mostly “fun” or that it be educational but not, per se, stressful or hard work. I’m speaking, here, mostly about elementary-age students. At middle school and high school levels, the situation is substantially different, at least here in Korea. It’s mostly about raising test scores, at those levels. But at elementary levels, it’s definitely the case that many parents aren’t looking for an academically rigorous experience so much as a kind of enriched after-school day care.

But then there are the parents already looking for the hagwon to inculcate discipline and hard work habits and raise test scores, even at the lower grades. They get angry and feel they’re not getting their money’s worth when their kids don’t have a lot of homework, for example.

This creates a dilemma in managing the hagwon, because you have kids from both groups side-by-side in your classroom, and you have to be aware of that. I have exactly this, every day: Kid A and Kid B didn’t do their homework. Sometimes, when kids haven’t done their homework, we have a custom of making  the kids “stay late” (after the end of their particular schedule of classes) to finish their homework or do some kind of extra work to make up for  the missed homework. And the problem becomes manifest when Kid A’s mom complains that we’re not making her stay often enough, while Kid B’s mom complains that we’re making her stay at all. You can see the conflict, right? It creates inequalities in how we treat different students in the classroom, that eventually the students themselves become aware of. And that leads to complaints of unfairness and classroom management issues, too. Eventually, there comes a moment when  Kid A is asking me why I’m not making Kid B stay. I can’t really come out and say, “well, her mom complains when I make her stay, but your mom complains when I don’t make you stay.”

Here’s how I think it should be solved.

The hagwon should have two parallel “tracks” – a “fun” English and an “un-fun” English. Tentatively, because it’s marketing gold, I would call these “Athens” track and “Sparta” track.

The Sparta track would be about what we have now: lots of grammar, daily vocabulary tests, long, boring listening dictation work, etc.  The Athens track would be my “dream curriculum” with arts, crafts, cultural content, karaoke, etc. There would be some shared or “crossover” classes, like maybe a debate program for the advanced kids or a speech program for the lower-ability ones, to ensure everyone gets some speaking practice.

The advantage of these two parallel tracks is that kids could be placed into either track based on parental preference. Further, parents could move their kids back and forth between them, depending on changing goals or needs. And lastly, the kids themselves would be aware of the dichotomy, and there could be substantial incentives related to the possibility of being able to be “promoted” to the fun track or “demoted” to the un-fun track. It would require careful design, but I think it could be a strong selling point when parents come in to learn about the hagwon. That we have not one system, but two, enabling a more individualized style of English instruction.

On-Going Roleplay Environments.

Have large on-going roleplay environments: “town” / “stock market” / “country”

I did this very successfully during my summer camps at my public school teaching job in 2010. Very rarely, since, have I had students more actively engaged in their own learning process. They were learning English painlessly, because it was interesting and fun.

Idea 15. (Administration.) Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

In business contexts (at least in the US, where I have experience) there is a broad field or discipline – generally embedded in the sales and marketing departments of large corporations – called “Customer Relationship Management” or CRM for short. This is about channeling, controlling and focusing all interactions with customers to maximize customer satisfaction.

To be clear, when I refer here to CRM I am not referring to a technology but to a practice – CRM is a “way of doing business” which is often enabled by technology in large businesses, but is just as doable using index cards or a large spreadsheet in a small business, even doable entirely in the mind of the business-owner in an owner-operated business such as a “mom and pop” hagwon, as was the phenomenal case of the first hagwon I worked at, where the owners knew by name every single parent, and interacted them with on a weekly basis.

As a specific example, I was sharing with my boss an opinion: given that a lot of parents are expressing distrust of the merger between Karma and Woongjin, he should call them all, personally. That’s always been one my “if I ran the hagwon” ideas, anyway – the owner or on-site manage should be intimately involved in building and maintaining relationships with ALL the parents, since they are, after all, the paying customers. The students, for better or worse, are essentially just products. This is not to depreciate them in any way – they are the thing I like about my job, and they are why I do it. But applying the lessons I learned from a decade of working in real-world business settings, you can’t ever forget your customers. My boss has been stressed, lately, though. In response to my suggestion, he just said in a kind of a lighthearted way, “개소리” [gae-so-ri = “bullshit” (literally, it means “dog-noise”)]. It was kind meant as, “yeah, right, like I’m going to find time to do that.” I laughed it off. And my feelings were in no way hurt. But I nevertheless felt (and feel) that he’s making a mistake in this matter, maybe.

Some Customers Aren’t Worth It.

“Fire” the parents that don’t “fit.” Hagwon parents are so hard to please, of course. One parent complains of not enough homework, and another complains of too much. How can one respond? Often what happens is that you give lots of homework, and there will be a kind behind-the-scenes understanding that not all the kids are being held to the same standard, as driven by parental expectations or requirements. The conversation essentially goes like this: “Oh, that kid … his mom doesn’t want him doing so much homework, so don’t worry if he doesn’t pass the quiz, just let it go.” This grates against my egalitarian impulses, on one level, and on another, despite being sympathetic to it, I end up deeply annoyed with how it gets implemented on the day-to-day basis: due to poor communication among staff, no one ever tells me these things until some parent gets mad because I never got told, previously, about the special case that their kid represents.  In the longest run, of course, in the hagwon biz, one must never forget who the paying customers are – it’s the parents.  And for each parent that is pleased that their kid is coming home and saying “hagwon was fun today,” there’s another that takes that exact same report from her or his kid as a strong indicator that someone at the hagwon isn’t doing his or her job.  So it boils down to this:  happy hagwon students don’t necessarily mean happy hagwon customers.  As a teacher, you’re always walking a tightrope: which kids are supposed to be happy, and which are supposed to be miserable? Don’t lose track – it’s critical to the success of the business.

Example of a problem: a student is caught cheating. So the student is challenged by the teacher and corrected, but then the student complains to his or her parents that the hagwon is too stressful and wants to quit, and the parent pulls the student. That’s lost revenue. That really happens. Does that mean a hagwon shouldn’t correct students caught cheating? Or does it mean that there is a certain quality or type of student (and / or parent) that is learning at a level that the hagwon shouldn’t pursue as a customer?

Idea 16. (Administration / Finance / HR.) Experiment with Empowering All Stakeholders (Owners, Staff, Customers, Students.

One thing that I have always wondered about as a possible solution to the way that capitalism distorts the hagwon business in Korea is to introduce a kind of cooperative or mutualist or profit sharing model, like some companies in the U.S. What if customers received some profit-sharing refund at the end of year, pro-rated against what they had paid? I can imagine that would lead to improved loyalty as well, especially if there were vesting. That kind of thing could be even more motivating for staff.

Idea 17. (Administration / Curriculum.) Predictable Costs for Customers (i.e. flat rate supporting materials charges).

The main idea here is that the hagwon pays for whatever specific materials (books, notebooks, CDs / mp3 files, etc., that are needed for the curriculum. If they want to encapsulate that in a fixed-fee materials-support charge of some kind, that might be possible, but overall I think the market might welcome a more reliable flat-rate system where per-hour-of-instruction charges were slightly higher but additional materials were all “included.”

I have heard that it is no longer “legal” for hagwon to charge for books or supplementary materials, but I also know from personal work experience at multiple hagwon that it is still almost universal practice, at least in my area. I think this is one area where government regulation is pushing hagwon in a direction I consider appropriate.

Idea 18. (Administration / Curriculum.) No “Staying Late” Beyond Study Hall or Homeroom (see Idea 8 above).

It’s common in hagwon to make kids stay late, either as punishment or as catch-up on undone homework or failed quizzes. I think this a poor practice for one key reason – it ends up not being fair. Some kids’ parents don’t want them to stay late. Some kids have other obligations. Sometimes, if the students are in the last “shift” of the day, they can’t stay late because schedule of regular classes runs right up against the deadline when hagwon must close by law. It’s better to never make kids stay late.

I have heard that it is “illegal” to do this, now, under current government regulations, but I know too that many hagwon still engage in this practice quite extensively, and it ends up being a burdon not just for students but also for parents and especially teachers, since this out-of-classroom “detention” time ends up being essentially uncompensated teaching.

The end to “stay late” practices could be presented to parents along with an explicit commitment to parents to instead provide additional tutorial or academic support on a per half-hour charge basis of some kind. This could provide an additional income stream to the hagwon but will be met with some resistance by parents, many of whom still seem to insist that the extra tutorial effort be “included” in the tuition price. This resistance could be overcome through measures such as greater transparency or profit-sharing (see Idea 16) as well as the fact that other costs are better controlled (e.g. textbook and class materials, see Idea 17, preceding).

I have a fairly elaborate “professional” website, now, dedicated to my work as a teacher.

I have made it a “public” blog on naver (Korean web portal) platform, now, which increases its accessibility for students and their parents, since it is within the cultural firewall that surrounds the Korean internet. 

Caveat: The 108

Quite some time back, I translated a list of 108 Korean Buddhist affirmations, which I had initially encountered on a Buddhist
television channel but then subsequently
found online. I have decided, after having finished it more than year ago, to put the complete list in a single place.

Here is the complete list.

  1. 지극한 마음으로 부처님께 귀의합니다.

    “I turn to the Buddha with all my heart.”


  2. 지극한 마음으로 부처님 법에 귀의합니다.

    “I turn to the Buddha Dharma [Law of Buddha] with all my heart.”


  3. 지극한 마음으로 승가에 귀의합니다.

    “I turn to the Sangha [Buddhist community-of-faithful] with all my heart.”


  4. 나는 어디서 왔는가, 어디로 갈 것인가를 생각하지 않고 살아온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, wherever I think I may have come from, wherever I think I may go to.”


  5. 나는 누구인가, 참 나는 어디있는가를 망각한 채 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting wherever I may be, whoever I may be.”


  6. 나의 몸을 소중하게 여기지 않고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, not regarding my body as something dear.”


  7. 나의 진실한 마음을 저버리고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, foresaking my true heart.”


  8. 조상님의 은혜를 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting the favors of our ancestors.”


  9. 부모님께 감사하는 마음을 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting my heart full of thanks to my ancestors.”


  10. 일가 친척들의 공덕을 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting any of the pious acts of my kin.”


  11. 배울 수있게 해 준 세상의 모든 인연들을 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting any of all the origins of the world that can be learned.”


  12. 먹을 수있게 해 준 모든 인연들을 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting my ties to all those things that I am able to eat.”


  13. 입을 수있게 해 준 모든 인연 공덕을 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting the public virtues of – and my ties to – all those things that I am able to wear.”


  14. 이 세상이 곳에 머물 수있게 해 준 모든 인연들의 귀중함을 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting the preciousness of all my ties to the things that allow me to stay here in this world.”


  15. 내 이웃과 주위에있는 모든 인연들의 감사함을 잊고 살아 온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived, forgetting my gratitude for all my ties to my neighborhood and surroundings.”


  16. 내가 저지른 모든 죄를 망각한 채 살아 온 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any foolishness lived, forgetting any sins committed.”


  17. 전생 , 금생 , 내생의 업보를 소멸하기 위해 지극한 마음으로 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance with a sincere heart, taking care to destroy the karma of my past, current and future lives.”


  18. 성냄으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to anger.”


  19. 모진 말로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to harsh words.”


  20. 교만 함으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to arrogance.”


  21. 탐욕으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to avarice.”


  22. 시기심으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to jealousy.”


  23. 분노 심으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to succumbing to rage.”


  24. 인색 함으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to miserliness.”


  25. 원망하는 마음으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to a resentful heart.”


  26. 이간질로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to the divisions sown between people.”


  27. 비방 함으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to slanders done.”


  28. 무시 함으로 인해 악연이 된 인연들에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of the ties that become like an evil destiny due to ignorance .”


  29. 비겁한 생각과 말과 행동을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of cowardly thoughts, words and actions.”


  30. 거짓말과 갖가지 위선을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all kinds of hypocrisy and lies.”


  31. 남의 것을 훔치는 생각과 행동을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any thought or action of stealing another’s things.”


  32. 한갓 취미나 즐거움으로 다른 생명을 희생시키는 일을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any sacrifice of the lives of others [in pursuit] of mere pasttime or pleasure.”


  33. 오직 나만을 생각하는 것을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of thinking only of myself.”


  34. 악연의 씨가되는 어리석은 생각을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any stupid thoughts [that are] the seeds of evil.”


  35. 어리석은 말로 상대방이 잘못되는 악연을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any ties to the mistakes made by others because of their foolish talk.”


  36. 어리석은 행동으로 악연이 될 수있는 인연에게 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any ties that can become an evil destiny through stupid talk.”


  37. 집착하는 마음과 말과 행동을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all actions and words and heart that cling.”


  38. 내 눈으로 본 것만 옳다고 생각한 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity that I believe in my own eyes to be right.”


  39. 내 귀로들은 것만 옳다고 생각한 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity that I believe by my own ears to be right.”


  40. 내 코로 맡은 냄새만 옳다고 생각한 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity that I believe by only following the smells my nose finds.”


  41. 내 입으로 맛 본 것만 옳다고 생각한 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity that I believe by only trying tastes with my mouth.”


  42. 내 몸으로받은 느낌만 옳다고 생각한 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity that I believe by feeling only [the sensations] of my body.”


  43. 내 생각만 옳다는 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity that I believe through only my thoughts.”


  44. 삼생의 모든 인연들을 위해 지극한 마음으로 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance with a sincere heart, taking care of all ties to past lives.”


  45. 내가 살고있는 지구를 생각하지 않은 것을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of not thinking about the world in which I live.”


  46. 세상의 공기를 더럽히며 살아 온 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity which comes alive to dirty the world’s air.”


  47. 세상의 물을 더럽히며 살아 온 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity which comes alive to dirty the world’s water.”


  48. 나만을 생각하여 하늘과 땅을 더럽히며 살아 온 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity which comes alive to dirty heaven and earth [by] thinking of only myself.”


  49. 나만을 생각하여 산과 바다를 더럽히며 살아 온 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity which comes alive to dirty the mountains and the sea [by] thinking of only myself.”


  50. 나만을 생각하여 꽃과 나무를 함부로 자르는 어리석음을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of all the stupidity which comes alive to cut trees and flowers randomly [by] thinking of only myself.”


  51. 이 세상을 많고 적음으로 분별하며 살아온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived and discerning this world, more or less.”


  52. 이 세상을 높고 낮음으로 분별하며 살아온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived and discerning this world high or low.”


  53. 이 세상을 좋고 나쁨으로 분별하며 살아온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived and discerning this world good or bad.”


  54. 이 세상을 옳고 그름으로 분별하며 살아온 죄를 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any misdeeds lived and discerning this world right or wrong.”


  55. 병든 사람에 대한 자비심의 부족함을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any insufficiency [in showing] mercy toward sick people.”


  56. 슬픈 사람에 대한 자비심의 부족함을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any insufficiency [in showing] mercy toward sad people.”


  57. 가난한 사람에 대한 자비심의 부족함을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any insufficiency [in showing] mercy toward poor people.”


  58. 고집스러운 사람에 대한 자비심의 부족함을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any insufficiency [in showing] mercy toward stubborn people.”


  59. 외로운 사람에 대한 자비심의 부족함을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any insufficiency [in showing] mercy toward lonely people.”


  60. 죄를 지은 사람에 대한 자비심의 부족함을 참회하며 절합니다.

    “I bow in repentance of any insufficiency [in showing] mercy toward guilty people.”


  61. 부처님께 귀의하게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become converted to the Buddha.”


  62. 부처님의 법에 귀의하게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become converted to the Buddha’s Dharma.”


  63. 승가에 귀의하게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become converted to the [Buddha’s] Priesthood.”


  64. 모든 생명은 하나로 연결되어있다는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that all life is connected as one.”


  65. 모든 생명은 소통과 교감이 이루어진다는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that all life is achieved through communication and sympathy.”


  66. 모든 생명은 우주의 이치 속에서 살아간다는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that all life is living within the principles of the universe.”


  67. 나와 남이 하나임을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that I and others are one.”


  68. 세상의 아름다움을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that the world is beautiful.”


  69. 생명들의 신비로움을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that life is magical.”


  70. 새 소리의 맑음을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware of the serenity of birdsong.”


  71. 바람 소리의 평화로움을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware of the peacefulness of the wind.”


  72. 시냇물 소리의 시원함을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware of the brightness of a running brook’s sound.”


  73. 새싹들의 강인함을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware of the tenacity of a sprouting plant.”


  74. 무지개의 황홀함을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware of the ecstacy of rainbows.”


  75. 자연에 순응하면 몸과 마음이 편안하다는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware of the tranquility of body and mind as they accommodate [the demands of] nature.”


  76. 자연이 생명 순환의 법칙이라는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that nature follows the law of life cycles.”


  77. 자연이 우리들의 스승이라는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that nature is our teacher.”


  78. 가장 큰 축복이 자비심이라는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that the greatest blessing is compassion.”


  79. 가장 큰 재앙이 미움, 원망이라는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that the greatest misfortune is hatred [and] resentment.”


  80. 가장 큰 힘이 사랑이라는 것을 알게되어 감사한 마음으로 절합니다.

    “I bow with a thankful heart and become aware that the most powerful thing is love.”


  81. 항상 부처님의 품 안에서 살기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “I bow and pray to live always in the Buddha’s arms.”


  82. 항상 부처님의 법속에서 살기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “I bow and pray to live always in the heart of Buddha’s dharma.”


  83. 항상 스님의 가르침을 따르기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “I bow and pray to follow always the teachings of the monks.”


  84. 부처님. 저는 욕심을 내지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be greedy.”


  85. 부처님 . 저는 화내지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to get angry.”


  86. 부처님 . 저는 교만하지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be arrogant.”


  87. 부처님 . 저는시기하지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be envious.”


  88. 부처님. 저는 모진 말을하지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to speak harshly.”


  89. 부처님. 저는 거짓말하지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to tell lies.”


  90. 부처님. 저는 남을 비방하지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to slander other people.”


  91. 부처님. 저는 남을 무시하지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to disdain other people.”


  92. 부처님. 저는 남을 원망하지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to resent other people.”


  93. 부처님. 저는 매사에 겸손하기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to be humble in everything.”


  94. 부처님. 저는 매사에 최선을 다하기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to do the best in everything.”


  95. 부처님. 저는 매사에 정직하기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to be honest in everything.”


  96. 부처님. 저는 매사에 긍정적이기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to think positively in everything.”


  97. 부처님. 저는 자비로운 마음으로 살기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to live with a compassionate heart.”


  98. 부처님. 저는 맑고 밝은 마음 가지도록 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to bear a clear and bright heart.”


  99. 부처님. 저는 모든 생명이 평화롭기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to exist harmoniously with all life.”


  100. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 전쟁이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be at war with the world.”


  101. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 가난이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be destitute in the world.”


  102. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 질병이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to suffer sickness in the world.”


  103. 부처님. 저는 보살행을 실천하며 살아가기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to live and practice toward becoming a bodhisattva.”


  104. 부처님. 저는 반야 지혜가 자라기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to grow in wisdom.”


  105. 부처님. 저는 수행하는 마음이 물러나지 않기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray not to withdraw from a functioning mind.”


  106. 부처님. 저는 선지 식을 만날 수 있기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray to be able to find the ways of the prophets.”


  107. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 부처님이 오시기를 발원하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and pray that Buddha comes into the world.”


  108. 부처님. 오늘 지은이 인연 아낌없이 시방 법계에 회향하며 절합니다.

    “Buddha. I bow and turn today to the realm of Buddha now in generosity and kindness.”



Caveat: Some Quotes

This quote is the closest thing I have to a guiding principle. It is succinct but philosophically profound and has layers of complexity. It summarizes Deleuze’s ethical thought, in the context of his work on Spinoza.

  • “Ethical joy is the correlate of speculative affirmation.” – Gilles Deleuze

Here is a compilation of other quotes I like.

  • “Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts.” – Robinson Jeffers
  • “Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites who never meet.” – Andy Warhol
  • “Love is not for the faint-hearted, or for the self-possessed” – I think Rumi (Persian poet)
  • “Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.” – un attributed internet meme.  (This is a corollary of Clarke’s law, I guess. )
  • “Live each day as if you will live forever.” – Unknown (to me, anyway)
  • “Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.” – William E. Gladstone
  • “Long live freedom and damn the ideologies” – Robinson Jeffers
  • “But two Kwakiutls in the same blanket…” – Tony Curtis (as the Great Leslie, in The Great Race)
  • “If they can get here, they have God’s right to come.” – Herman Melville
  • “So unprincipled are judges and lawyers that they will even tell the truth if it serves their purposes.” – Robert C. Black
  • “I think we all agree, the past is over.” – George W. Bush
  • “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman
  • “we are the world’s first adolescent civilization.” – David Brin (in a comment on his blog, regarding our own civilization)
  • “With enemies like libertarians, the state doesn’t need friends.” – Robert C. Black
  • “Life is dangerous. No one has survived it yet.” – Unnamed Siberian tour guide quoted in The Economist, Mar 24, 2007.
  • “la vida es un río que pasa y que deja sólo la tierra húmeda” – Augusto Pinochet (en su autobiografia Camino Recorrido, book 1)
  • “La vida es corta… pero ancha” – autor del blog “futuroperfecto”
  • “Pero la vida es un rio / Que te moja con la edad” – Synteks Aleks (musical group) song: La historia de un hombre
  • “nuestras vidas son los rios que van a dar a la mar, que es el morir” – Jorge Manrique (poeta s. XVI).
  • “Mundus Vult Decipi [the world wishes to be deceived]” – James Branch Cabell
  • “The time of your life is the one commodity you can sell but never buy back.” – Robert C. Black
  • “the great redeeming feature of poverty: the fact that it annihilates the future.” – George Orwell
  • “The global economy is like a zebra roller-skating through a Volkswagen factory in China on the Fourth of July and it’s snowing.” – Max Eichler (parodying Thomas Friedman)
  • “Life is a partial, continuous, progressive, multiform and conditionally interactive self-realization of the potentialities of atomic electron states.” – John Desmond Bernal
  • “So many words, and so often I grope for them knowing that there’s a correct one but lacking the nous to bring it to articulation. Fearing senile decay. Errrrgh.” – Ann Gillidette
  • “En el fondo el cínico es un cartesiano y un kantiano derrotado: le gustaría disponer de un conocimiento absoluto y una voluntad recta, pero lo considera imposible.” – D. Innerarity (filósofo español – en Dialéctica de la modernidad)
  • “Me get it, cookie is sometimes food. You know what? Right now is sometime!” – Cookie Monster
  • “Good bye, New York. Howdy, East Orange.” – Bob Dylan
  • “Oprah is transcendent; she is a cultural treasure.” – David Letterman.
  • “when the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” – J. M. Keynes.
  • “Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” – Mark Twain.
  • “With only 300 bits, you could assign a unique barcode to each of the ten-to-the-ninetieth elementary particles in the universe.” – Seth Lloyd.
  • “It is possible to serve honorably in a dishonorable war.” – Unknown (to me, anyway)
  • “Boredom is your ‘fuller life’ calling you, and your fear of hearing that call.” – Gary Zukav
  • “Religion is like a penis.  It’s fine to have one.  It’s fine to be proud of it.  But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around.  And PLEASE don’t try to shove it down my children’s throats.” – Unattributed internet meme
  • “no existe la seguridad, solo existe el amor” – overheard in a trance track
  • “A libertarian is just a Republican who takes drugs.” – Robert C. Black
  • “It’s a good deal, but some poor people remain, oddly, un-fucked.” – Jon Stewart
  • “A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” – James Madison
  • “…doors open to anyone with the will and heart to get here.” – Ronald Reagan (on immigration)
  • “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “Cake’s existence is have eat cake.” – One of my middle-school students in 2007
  • “There is great chaos under heaven, and the situation is excellent.” – Mao Tse-tung


Caveat: Faith-Based-Atheist

I’m a “faith-based atheist.”

What in the world is that?

It means that, unlike an agnostic, I’m certain about god: specifically, that there isn’t one. But such certainty isn’t something that submits to any kind of objective proof: just as the religious person must accept the existence of his or her god(s) as a matter of faith, so must the true atheist rely on belief over material evidence – after all, how do you prove god doesn’t exist? Anything short of this standard-of-proof makes one an agnostic, not an atheist.

What’s still more difficult, is to strive for an ethical existence when the most commonly invoked “cause” (or source) of human ethics (namely, the alleged “higher powers”) have been unequivocally rejected. It seems to me that the only ethical atheist is one who accepts that his or her belief is indeed just that – a belief, not a demonstrated “fact.”

Atheists who assert some kind of exceptionalism for their own beliefs vis-a-vis the beliefs of non-atheists strike me as hypocritical. I’m profoundly uncomfortable with many atheists – of the secular-humanist stripe – who attempt to position themselves as rationalists – I think it’s not only philosophically perilous but ultimately unethical due to this inherent hypocrisy.

Despite this, I’m also displeased with the tendency of humanists (again, i.e. “secular humanists”) to categorically place human beings in the center of things. Such pre- (or even anti-) Copernican posturing is just as irrational as the traditional, god-centered systems they presume to criticize – in my judgement, anyway.

With the categorical rejection of the transcendental and god-centric, I believe that  there must come a similarly vehement rejection of the anthropocentric. So… but what’s left, then?

Let me get back to you on that one. Does this make me sound like a nihilist? This is a possibility.  I’m most comfortable with a sort of aesthetic take on the whole matter, a la Robinson Jeffers Inhumanism.  But that doesn’t really resolve the epistemological issues – which are what seem to most interest me.

Another issue is how I can reconcile my committed atheism with my frequent self-description as a “Buddhist.” However, one has to understand that Buddhism, in most conceptions, is doctrinally agnostic with respect to the theist question. To attempt to paraphrase Gautama Siddhartha, as I have understood it: when asked about the existence of deities or God, he reportedly answered that, like everything else, it was both true and not true. Thus there is room within Buddhism for both atheists and theists, as well as whatever falls in between. 

[Last updated 2015-10-08]

Caveat: Life-since-high-school

Lately, because of facebook, I’ve been “reconnecting” with people I haven’t interacted with or known about for up to 25 years.   People from high school!  Jeannine, Kray, Richard…. People from elementary school! Tammy.  People from the Mexico City time! Aura, Vlady.

Anyway, questions crop up:  Didn’t you go to university in Missouri? (No, it was Minnesota). I heard you joined the Army? (Yes). Is it true you were married? (Yes). And then you got divorced? (Um, not exactly – separated-then-widowed).

Being a fundamentally lazy person, I have decided to answer a whole pile of these questions at once. I’ve created a year-by-year timeline of my life-since-high-school. Each year has 2 to 6 telegraphic sentences summarizing what I recall as the salient aspects of that year.

I can now point interested people to it – if they’re interested. More me out there, for all the world to see: I believe in transparency – it cleanses the soul.


  • 1983. I graduate from Arcata High, Arcata California. My summer internship at a civil engineering office turns me off of the idea of pursuing engineering, careerwise. I walked a lot in high school – mostly in the fog.  I start college at Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota – the main reason for my choice of Macalester: it’s very far away from home. I meet my best friend Bob on day one (he is still my best friend 25 years later).
  • 1984. I change my declared major from math to religious studies – not out of any sense of religiosity, but because I’m looking for answers, and because a math professor left my self-confidence in ruins. I work for Mondale Campaign that summer.
  • 1985. I study art history in Paris in January term. By May, however, alcohol and drug issues have caused me to drop out of college. I live in my car, first passing through Duluth and Ottawa, and then up and down the East Coast (mostly Boston, New York City, with a week in New Orleans). By fall, I’m living a few blocks from Barack Obama (not that I, like, know him or anything) on Chicago’s South Side, and working in a hardware store. My unabiding love for instant ramen is formed during this period.
  • 1986. I travel to Mexico and end up with a job at Casa de los Amigos, a Quaker meetinghouse / leftist hostel in Mexico City. I travel to El Salvador for a few weeks in the fall, and get to see a civil war up close and personal.
  • 1987. After a year working in Mexico City, I travel (somewhat aimlessly) with a friend by horseback in the mountains of Michoacan (southwestern Mexico). I meet lots of interesting people, including many indians, hippies, a draft dodger or two, and a dangerous, drunk, angry man with a gun. That shoots bullets.  Eventually, I return to Minnesota.
  • 1988. I enroll at the University of Minnesota (having forfeited my scholarship at Macalester by dropping out in 85).  My declared major is computer science, but soon changes to linguistics. I dabble in languages: Portuguese, Medieval Welsh, Japanese, Russian, Ancient Sumerian, Georgian (Kartuli). I work hard at a book bindery (book-making factory). I study hard. Bob and Mark are my housemates, among others.
  • 1989. I graduate (cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from the Univ of Minnesota (Twin Cities), despite the “lost semester” from Spring of 85 at Macalaster on my transcript. My major: Llinguistics; minor: Computer Science; undeclared minors: Spanish, Botany.  I return to Mexico, spend 2 months in Guatemala, and 2 weeks in Cuba. I become very sick.  Return to Humboldt County.
  • 1990. I’ve ended up in Eureka, somehow – broke and directionless. I deal with this directionlessness by enlisting in the U.S. Army, as a truck mechanic. I complete my training in South Carolina, and narrowly miss getting sent to Kuwait for the first Gulf War. I end up in South Korea on December 28th.
  • 1991. I am stationed at Camp Edwards, Geumcheon (about 7 km from my current home) – 296th Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. I drive a giant camo green tow truck (named Rocinante) around northwest Gyeonggi province. I am a competent mechanic, but an indifferent soldier. The Army is downsizing in the wake of the end of the cold war, and when it’s offered, I grab honorable “early out”discharge.
  • 1992. I live in Pasadena (in the house my great grandfather built around 1910), taking art classes and trying to learn Arabic. I’m a bit aimless on the job front – I remember working as a temp at a Robinsons May department store warehouse. I move back to Minnesota, and Bob and I become housemates again. I start working in a bookstore. I meet Michelle and Jeffrey (her son, who is 5 at this time).
  • 1993. I do graduate-level coursework in Spanish Literature and Literary and Cultural Criticism (Lit-Crit), as well as the Dakota (Native American Great Plains) Language, at the University of Minnesota – tuition is cheap because I’m an alum. I work in a bookstore. At some point, during an initially platonic camping trip on Michigan’s U.P., Michelle and I begin dating.
  • 1994. Michelle and I move in together. Then I spend 6 months studying the Mapuche (Native American Patagonian) Language in Valdivia, Chile, and I get to see Buenos Aires, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, Uruguay, etc. I’m back in Minnesota with Michelle and Jeffrey for Christmas.
  • 1995. I work nights for UPS to save up money (which means I can say I’ve been a card-carrying Teamster), and I apply to graduate schools.  My first choice is UCLA, but I start at the University of Pennsylvania in August, in Department of Romance Languages, because of Michelle’s eventual East Coast job prospects.
  • 1996. Work very, very hard at Penn., teaching Spanish to lazy, over-privileged Ivy League undergrads and taking qualifying exams. Michelle and I get married in a pizza joint in Minneapolis over the summer (the Judge came on a motorcycle). Michelle and Jeffrey then join me in Philadelphia, after she graduates in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.
  • 1997. I resign from the graduate program at Penn, very unhappy with departmental politics. I get to try to be a “soccer dad” with Jeffrey for several months, while Michelle puts in ungodly hours with Merck, Inc., in her new job as a chemical engineer. I start teaching high school Spanish and Social Studies that fall, with an ungodly commute to Moorestown, New Jersey. Neither Michelle nor I particularly like living in suburban Philadelphia.
  • 1998. Things begin to break down with Michelle. I’m not doing very well with it. In August, we decide on a “trial seperation,” but I’m not able to handle this well, and by September, I’ve run off (somewhat irresponsibly, I realize) to stay on my uncle Arthur’s land in Alaska. I cut trees and brush with a chainsaw (in the rain), and shovel gravel (in the rain), and write (in a white van, in the rain). In November, I give up on Alaska and on solitude, and I go to LA to stay with my father, who has recently divorced my stepmother, who I have sometimes idolized. This is a very bad period for me. Closing out the year with a bang, I attempt suicide while parked alongside the Pacific Coast Highway north of San Simeon, and nearly succeed.  Time-in-hospital (the parallels with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are, um, disconcerting).
  • 1999. I begin working at ARAMARK Corporation in Burbank, as a temp in the finance department. I prove sufficiently competent that they offer me a permanent position. Michelle and I occasionally discuss getting back together (long distance, her still in Philly and me in L.A. (well, Burbank)), but we both clearly have difficult-to resolve “issues.”
  • 2000. Michelle commits suicide in June: “So there!” I work hard at ARAMARK.
  • 2001. I migrate from the finance department at ARAMARK into the IT department, working as a programmer.
  • 2002. I rent a horrible apartment in North Hollywood. But work is going well – workaholically, in fact.
  • 2003. I migrate again, at ARAMARK, into the Sales and Marketing department. I develop the infamous National Accounts Data Analysis intranet site for my company, basically on my own, and it’s a huge hit. I am promoted and recognized for this. Failure in life… success in business. I move into the tiny house next to my dad’s on the hill in Highland Park. I take my first trip to Australia to visit my mother.
  • 2004. I solve some amazing technical challenges for the Sales department, but I’ve created bad blood with my former colleagues in the IT department. Company politics get nasty. I resign in December. But, in 5 years, I’d managed to get promoted 4 times and quadruple my original salary.
  • 2005. I spend 6 weeks in Europe, 2 of them with bestfriend Bob who is there for an audition in Utrecht. I fall in love with Lisbon. I then come back to LA and start a new job with HealthSmart Pacific as a Database Administrator and Applications Designer. I move to Long Beach, but I end up commuting part time to Orange County.  I hate commuting, even though driving for 45 minutes along the Pacific Coast Highway each way is oddly resonant.
  • 2006. I put in several months of ungodly 80-100 hour work weeks. So I resign, and try to succeed as an independent database consultant.  My heart’s not in it. I take a second trip to Australia. I move back to Minneapolis. I find a wonderful apartment near Lake Calhoun in Uptown.
  • 2007. Some interesting projects, but the computer gig is losing its lustre. I decide to return to teaching – I have overcome my prior financial difficulties. Jeffrey has started college, and the trust fund I’d created for him will cover costs, so I’m free, financially. I apply to overseas jobs. I start teaching at “Tomorrow School” in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, South Korea, in September.
  • 2008. Tomorrow School gets taken over by LinguaForum, which in turn gets taken over by L-Bridge. I spend a week in Australia with my mother in August – with a brief visit to Hong Kong.
  • 2009. I continue at L-Bridge until September. I love teaching elementary-age kids. Am I happy? Not completely. But I’m happier than during most of the above. So, all things being relative, it seems like a good “career.”  But nevertheless, since more than a few days’ vacation is unheard of in the hagwon biz, I decide I need to “check in” back in the U.S., so I resign my job (with the idea of re-taking it, or something similar, upon return) and go back to the U.S. for a few months.  I put 10000 miles on my pickup truck in 3 months, and then sell it.  I spend 10 days at a Buddhist Monastery outside Chicago.
  • 2010. I return to Korea, but the job market isn’t what I’d hoped.  I enroll full-time in a Korean language school, and hunker down for a long-term job search, living at a cheap hostel in Suwon (south of Seoul).  I travel to Japan (Kyushu) in April, and start a new job at Hongnong Elementary (public school) in rural Jeollanam Province, at the end of that month.  I really like being an elementary school teacher, and I make a lot of friends among my Korean co-workers, but my principal (boss) is xenophobic (hates foreigners) and the housing situation is unstable (4 different apartments over a 1 year contract).
  • 2011.  I let my contract at Hongnong run out, and with some sadness, I say good-bye to Yeonggwang County and return to Ilsan.  I work at Karma Academy.  I have a more stable housing situation (like!) and fewer elementary students (not like!).

[Last updated 2011-07-31]

Caveat: Art

Sometimes I make efforts at “visual arts”

Below are some past works that I’m sufficiently happy with to share them, in a smallish format.


Above:  Azul, 1992


Above: Abstract, 1993


Above: Kitchen, 1991


Above: Lines, 1988


Above: Motion, 1988


Above: Mujer, 1993 (this is actually Michelle)


Above: Old Man, 1993


Above: Sancho Panza, 2006


Above: Way Family Home (San Marino, CA), 1991


Above: Self-Portrait From Photograph at Age 5, 1999


Above: Icon, 1995

Caveat: Korean Reference Grammar

These are the grammar points from the first two volumes of the Korean language textbook I was using in February and March, 2010.  Given that I finished the courses, I should, in theory, know all this grammar perfectly.  So much for theory.

외국인의 문법
– Things from the textbook, that I
should already know


(terminative inflections), formal register

declarative: Vc+습니다
/ Vv+ㅂ니다

interrogative: Vc+습니까
/ Vv+ㅂ니까

imperative: Vc+으십시오
/ Vv+십시오

propositive: Vc+읍시다
/ Vv+ㅂ시다


honorific V-stem infix (precedes most
other affixes): Vc+으시+
/ Vv++


“how” Adv: 어떻게


“too, also” topicalizing N
suffix particle (follows most other affixes): N+


“the, as for…, speaking of…”
topicalizing N suffix particle (follows most other affixes): Nc+
/ Nv+


predicate affirmative suffix / copula,
“be”: N+이다

(this makes a noun “N” into a
conjugable predicate [verb] “to be N”)


deferential 1st person sing. pronoun,


contraction “my”:
<= 저의
(deferential “I” + genitive case particle)


demonstrative prefixes

“this”: +N

“that [near listener]”: +N

“that [over there]”): +N


“who”: 누구
(note obligatory contraction 누가
<= *누구가)


“we”: 우리
(note that this word often doesn’t seem to accept case


demonstrative pronouns (derived from
demonstrative prefixes +

“this”: 이것

“that [near listener]”: 그것

“that [over there]”): 저것


subject case particle: Nc+
/ Nv+


interrogative pronoun, “what
[thing]”: 무엇


object case particle: Nc+
/ Nv+


note that +
(1.2.2) “overwrites” subject and object (an
perhaps others?) case particles


“where”: 어디


dative case particle “to [action
verbs toward a place], at [a time], in [stative verbs in a place]”:


locative case particle “at [a
place], from [a place], in [action verbs in a place]”: N+에서


“when”: 언제


past/perfective finite verb infix
(invokes vowel harmony with verb stem): V+{//}+

(and note common contractions [some
mostly obligatory, with asterisk]:

<= 하였,
배웠 <=


(numerals, chinese origin)

(used for money, minutes, dates,
months, calendar years, phone numbers, addresses, etc.)


predicate negative suffix / copula,
“not be”: Nc+
/ Nv+

(this makes a noun “N” into a
conjugable predicate [verb] “not to be N”)


“which”: 어느


non-finite verb oppositional suffix,
“but, however”: V+지만