Caveat: En la verde orilla

Los rayos le cuenta al Sol
Con un peine de marfil
La bella Jacinta un día
Que por mi dicha la vi
En la verde orilla
De Guadalquivir.

La mano oscurece al peine;
Mas qué mucho, si el abril
La vio oscurecer los lilios
Que blancos suelen salir
En la verde orilla
De Guadalquivir.

Los pájaros la saludan,
Porque piensa (y es así)
Que el Sol que sale en oriente
Vuelve otra vez a salir
En la verde orilla
De Guadalquivir.

Por sólo un cabello el Sol
De sus rayos diera mil,
Solicitando invidioso
El que se quedaba allí
En la verde orilla
De Guadalquivir.

Luis de Góngora, 1580

Caveat: The Good. The Bad.

I had a really bad day.  A really, really bad day.  But it had some good moments.  Here are some pictures.  Highlights.
Below, little Dahye, and half of Paul.

Below, some of my Goldrush kids:  Stephanie, Jamie, Christine, Daisy, Sarah, Gina (in front of me), Nick (the poor lone boy in a class full of girls).

Caveat: Jin’s Dragon

Last day of the Winter term, today. That means…  break?  Oh, no such thing. Monday, it all starts over. More crazinesses.
This is Jin’s Dragon.

Caveat: Thank you, I don’t want to do that

I told my student David today that he explained some vocabulary words so well, in English, today, that he should be an English teacher. He smiled politely, and said, in almost perfect pronunciation and intonation:  “Thank you, I don’t want to do that.” I was pleased.
It’s the last week of the Winter term. As has become my habit, I tried to take pictures of my some of my classes, to remember my students by. I don’t try to force them… some classes are more enthusiastic than others, and I feel uncomfortable insisting. But here’s a few who cooperated, to one degree or another.
The Goldrush2b kids: Thomas, Dexter, Kevin, Alex L, Peter P,  Peter H (in front), Tommy (way in back), Silver, Jenny, Stephany, Lisa, Sophia.
Sydney, waxing eloquent, and Eunice, saying something funny (undoubtedly).
Eldorado1a kids: Sincere, Ellen, Julia (in back), Joseph, Mad Steven, Small Steve (NBA Steve).

Caveat: 악플 isn’t in the dictionary

What does 악플 mean? “악플” (akpeul) is a slang term I learned today, that means, roughly, the negative comments or “flames” that people write on internet sites. I think it’s cool that Korean has a special slang word for this. Not sure it’s particularly useful knowledge. But I’m always especially happy to learn words that can’t be found in any dictionary.

Caveat: “Off topic you are!”

My student Eric was giving a speech.  Harry, another student, leapt to his feet and, pounding his fist confidently on the table, proclaimed, "Off topic you are!"  It was pure Yoda-speak.  And I began laughing uncontrollably, which left Harry a bit uncomfortable.  So I had to explain that Yoda, in the Star Wars movie, is a very funny-speaking character, but that, if you study his language carefully, you realize he's basically speaking English words with Korean grammar.  Which means that Korean students can "do" Yoda, sometimes, without meaning to.  I'm not sure my kids fully understood or accepted my explanation completely.  But they realized they could make me laugh by ending sentences loudly and confidently with verbs. 

"Homework what is?" they demanded, at the end.  Good students.  Funny students. 

Caveat: apple-onion-bean-rice-curry-stuff (Uh oh, Jared’s in the kitchen again)

In the spirit of my thoughts about meat, yesterday, and inspired by my success with some leftovers last week, I decided to get creative in my kitchen area.  In a couple tablespoons of olive oil, I fried a chopped-up small onion, a generous scoop of minced garlic (which you can buy in tubs from convenience stores in Korea), some sesame seeds, some roasted salted peanuts, and half of a an apple, finely chopped.  I added a pinch of red pepper and a tablespoon of curry powder.  When things were browned, I added the remains of my cooked red beans (about 2 cups, which had been cooked with red pepper, soy sauce, etc, a few weeks back).  I added a cup of cooked rice, and voila, apple-onion-bean-rice-curry-stuff.  Totally delicious.  Very nutritious.  And completely vegan.

The attitude barometer, episode 5:

    * Number of times I've opened my resignation letter and edited it:  4
    * Barrier-surpassing moments of Korean-language usage (outside of work only):  3
    * Spirit-destroying moments of Korean-language communication breakdown (outside of work only):  1
    * Number of students that have said something to the effect of "teacher, you're so funny" while fighting off an apoplectic fit of giggles:  1
    * Number of times I've told someone that I am "much happier than when I was in L.A.":  1
    * Number of times I really meant it (as opposed to the "fake it till I make it" approach I'm fond of): 0
    * Days I was late to work this week:  0
    * Total number of minutes I was late, minus total number of minutes I showed up early:  0 (plus, I worked Saturday, again, for a few hours)


Minnesota Public Radio ("the current" streaming)
Silvio Rodriguez
The Go Team
Aly & AJ
Proyecto Uno (Nuyorican rap / hip hop)
Big Bang (k-pop)
The Cure
Kray Van Kirk (really!)
Gordon Lightfoot


Caveat: Incidental Meat

I've been thinking about meat.  I read an article in Scientific American about the "carbon footprint" of eating beef, specifically.  It's quite stunning, and it has got me to thinking, once again, about whether or not I would ever seriously become some kind of vegetarian (maybe a chicken-and-fish-only type, or a real vegetarian, or even a vegan).  All those things have crossed my mind many times.  But I lack the self-discipline to stick to any of them, it seems like.

Only hours after reading the Scientific American article, I was ordering and eating bibimbap from Gimgane.  The amount of meat in it is negligible, I suppose – at most some flecks of meat that might equal something under a tablespoon.  I'm not even sure what species of meat it is.  But… I'm not the sort to be a hardcore "I don't eat such and such," it seems like.

Still, it seems the compelling reasons for avoiding various types of meat keep building.  There's health impact (unless you're an Atkinsian).  There's ethical impact (I have been reading a book by Douglas Hofstadter, I am a Strange Loop, wherein he offers in his first chapter a meditation on meat-eating vis-a-vis the question of the relative sizes of souls).  And now, particularly for beef, there's global environmental impact, too.  The basic point: if we ALL quit eating beef tomorrow, and let the beef industry die, we'd do more to prevent the continuing global warming trend than if we ALL stopped using cars tomorrow.  That's very plausible, if you examine the facts.

So, I'm wondering how I feel about it.  I've been developing a sort of approach that is kind of based on the distinction between "incidental meat" versus "intentional meat."  Intentional meat is when I go out and seek it.  When it's the "purpose" of a dining experience.  Incidental meat is where I'm eating meat because someone else has ordered it.  Or they're giving it to me.  Or it got added, unexpectedly, to something I ordered (like the bibimbap the other day).  Maybe something can be made of this distinction.

Caveat: Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood

Last night, it was snowing.  Or sleeting.  Or freezing raining.  Something like that.  A blustery, damp, wind-driven, granular sort of snow.  And it didn't really stick.

Today, there are patches of white, but the sky is thickly hazy, yet it's quite windy.  A western wind, it seems like.  That's a spring pattern, here, a deviation from the north wind (bitterly cold) or south wind (warmer but wet) that normally seem to alternate in winter.  And yet it's quite cold, which means that it doesn't FEEL springlike – it feels like Minneapolis, this time of year, with the winds having whipped up across the plains.

That haze is the famous Chinese pall, I'd be willing to bet.  The Mongolian desert sands, from a 1000 km to the west, saturated with some juicy Chinese industrial wastes.  A bit early in the year for that, but the direction of the winds, and the color of the sky, make me suspicious.

Walking to work, these days, it's almost inevitable that I run in to some students, former or current.  I feel like a Mr Rogers, strolling like a conspicuous alien through his Ilsan neighborhood.  Putting on my teacher "happy face" despite the occasional turmoil inside.

"Hi Kevin!"  "Hi, Annie, how are you?"  "Hello, Joseph.  Don't forget you have a test tonight."  And I get those weird, disorienting bows that kids give to adults in public places (but that are utterly absent from the inside-the-hagwon environment, which I suppose is a tribute to the hagwon's efforts to instill a more "Western" atmosphere). 

Beastie Boys
임형주 (that 행복하길바래 song I like)
Spagga y La Raza (Nueva York)
PM Dawn

Caveat: Time Flows

Dahye writes in her journal, and describes playing with her friend.  Then she concludes, "It was so fun that I didn't know time was flowing!"  I thought this was a good line.

Caveat: Collateralized

pictureI have been collateralized – in the buzzword sense used in marketing departments these days:  I’m being used to advertize a product.
See the recent picture from the L-Bridge website at right, with the winners of the speech contest of a few weeks ago, with me and a few other spokesforeigners standing in the background, looking respectably foreign. [Clicking the photo will pop up a bigger version.]
Genius Willy is right in front of me, wearing a silly grin (I’m in the middle between Joe and Jeff, in the back).  Other students I’m proud of:  Sydney (far left of photo); Johnny (third from left, front row); Sarah and Rebecca (back row of students, 3rd and forth from right) – the face between Sarah and Rebecca is Sarah-teacher (the somewhat hard-to-get-along-with curriculum manager at L-Bridge.  In the small square photos, top row, 2nd from left is Eunice (better known as CGHP! “crazy girl hot pink!” — don’t ask what it means, I don’t have a clue, myself) and top row, 4th from left is Lisa.
Actually, I’m most proud of Sydney, because she placed into the final 20 despite the fact that she pridefully rejected any kind of coaching of any kind from any of her teachers.  All the other finalists received extensive coaching and help of various sorts (grammar, pronunciation, etc.) from their teachers.

Caveat: … restart your dog.

I dreamed an eerie, very coherent dream.  Real plot.  Real characterization.  A story.

In the dream, I was driving in my pickup truck along an unpaved (or very poorly paved) stretch of highway.  A very desolate place.  There were two of me.  Not like two sides of myself;  not like a doppelganger or something;  just two of me.  Side by side, one driving, the other staring out the window.  Traveling companions.

It was near sunset, and bitterly cold.  The landscape was not mountainous, but not flat.  The vegetation was Patagonian.   Really, the stretch of road was like that long, mostly straight rise from Osorno to the Argentine border in Chilean Patagonia.  Like… driving up to Bariloche, on the Argentine side, with the volcano Igi Llaima (err, I think it's Igi Llaima) hovering like some undiscovered, exotic Fuji above the distant lake, below and behind.

It was starting to snow.  And although the landscape seemed like Chile, the roadsigns were in Korean.  Of course.

It was getting dark, and I was worried about something.  One of me was worried.  The other just shrugged, and muttered, do what you want.  So we stopped.  We pulled up a steep stretch of side-road, up against a fence under some gnarled, twisty, Japanese-painting pine trees.  Darkness fell.  We climbed into the back of my pickup, to sleep.

We awoke to the sounds of traffic.  I looked out and it was morning.  There was at least a foot of freshly fallen snow, but it was heavy, wet snow, like heaven throwing snowballs at Earth.  Still falling.  On the road below, there was a traffic jam.  All the cars had Korean plates, but I saw a group of Chilean carabineros monitoring the situation from the comfort of their idling car, a ways up the road.

Several vehicles had pulled off the highway behind us, up the steep drive to stop near us under the trees.  One truck, driven by a smoking team of Korean blue-collar types, was trying to negotiate around a pile of snow that appeared to have a car buried inside it.  And suddenly, the truck began to skid sideways down the steep drive.  It plunged into the traffic below, with almost no sound — in the weird, puttering silence that comes in blizzards.  Squoolurshshsh…

There was a weird yelping sound.  I saw that a dog lay in the road near the bottom.  Like a golden retriever puppy.  I popped the back of my camper top on my pickup truck and ran down the slippery road to pick up the dog.  It was dead — struck by the out of control truck.

The other me came down beside me, looking on impassive.  I was horribly upset, but I didn't say anything.

And then I said (the other "I" said):  "You'll need to get to level ground, if you want to restart your dog."  Like… giving advice to someone who's trying push-start an old car.  It made strange sense, but it was still utterly useless advice. 

I woke up.

Caveat: Subversive Hilarity

As part of our curriculum, we have these newspapers (which are presumably level-appropriate current-events newspapers that the kids can read, and from which we get many of our debate topics).  I actually rather like the newspapers, despite their many mistakes, as the kids seem to get into actually being able to talk about relevant current events in class.  I had a funny experience, however, recently.  And some of my students actually "got it" when I pointed it out to them.

You see, with the newspaper comes a workbook, which includes some pages of difficult vocabulary to review.  At the top of the page, it says, "반복 학습을 통해 반드시 암기하고 Reading Comprehension과 Writing을 통해 그 쓰임새를 학인합시다." (rough translation:  blah blah memorize these words blah blah")…. Then, farther down, in the list of vocabulary words to memorize, they give this word with its example sentence:  "proficiency 숙달, 능숙 example: Pushing children to memorize vocabulary or grammar rules will not lead to a high level of language proficiency."  This is subversively hilarious.

Caveat: The Richard Nixon of Operating Systems

Really? Check this out: “In many ways, Windows Vista has become the Richard Nixon of operating systems: controversial, scandalous, perhaps unfairly vilified at times, but ultimately reviled by many.” – at ChannelWeb.
Hahahaha. Cry. Cry. Etc. Truth is stranger than fiction. And true metaphors are stranger than fictional ones?
Alternately, in the spirit of the just-passed V-day, consider this: “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. Indeed, my life is profoundly, inexcusably exciting.
The attitude barometer, episode 4:
* Number of times I’ve opened my resignation letter and edited it:  1
* Barrier-surpassing moments of Korean-language usage (outside of work only):  1
* Spirit-destroying moments of Korean-language communication breakdown (outside of work only):  2
* Number of students that have said something to the effect of “teacher, you’re so funny” while fighting off an apoplectic fit of giggles:  2
* Number of times I’ve told someone that I am “much happier than when I was in L.A.”:  0
* Number of times I really meant it (as opposed to the “fake it till I make it” approach I’m fond of): 0
* Days I was late to work this week:  1
* Total number of minutes I was late, minus total number of minutes I showed up early:  15
recent soundtrack:
Last Alliance (JPop with a sanitized grunge flavor)
KoRn (pure anger from Bakersfield)
Bob Dylan
Elis Regina
Queens of the Stone Age

Caveat: Reflections on (of) Glass Houses. And the Future.

Here are some disorganized reflections of mine on the subjects of facebook, the internet, the panopticon, and the glass houses. An extension to some initial thoughts I posted on February 6th, in reaction to an article in the guardian.

The web’s “transparency” has two aspects. There is the “taken” or “stolen” transparency (meaning that it grants organizations or individuals a power to spy – cf. a concept such as Foucault’s panopticon prison, which is carrying the problem to a philosophical extreme).  This is something that people fear. But there is also a “granted” or “given” transparency, which is fundamentally empowering, in my opinion – especially when viewed as an opportunity for those who hold power of any kind to “come clean” vis-a-vis those over whom they exercise power.  Or, at a more personal level, it is the power recognized from time immemorial in the liberating nature of confession.

In terms of potential, this power of revelation/confession trumps the power to monitor (panopticon). Governments and organizations are in glass houses, now. They try to throw up barriers and blinds, but it’s a losing battle, at best. There is a man in China who is in prison because some exec at Yahoo! (or group of execs, more likely – corporate ethical lapses are so often the consequence of groupthink) had an ethical lapse vis-a-vis the Chinese government, but, the truth remains… we KNOW about that man in prison. In past times, a similar man, in a similar prison, would have disappeared completely, and we’d only have known of his situation by extrapolation from the situation of others whom we’d heard about. Recall the many “disappeared” victims of past dictatorships. Such total “disappearances” are, erm, disappearing in this new internet-enabled world. Everything gets documented.

Bushcheneyian tyrants will always find ways to harass us, and they will be assholes, regardless of the technology available. Quakers, freethinkers and resisters were blacklisted by the CIA, the FBI, not to mention King George III, long before there were internet servers. Cheney and his secretive, Nixonian ilk are a fading breed… a failing adaptation. Or is this overly hopeful?
Perhaps if I believed in such a thing as divine providence, I’d be more inclined yearn for such a divine providence to be controlling our internet infrastructure, but there’s nothing divine: there’s only Al Gore – a deeply flawed human at best (and Al Gore’s not really controlling the internet, obviously, but he’s a good proxy for the human collectivities that ARE controlling it, and he’s an amusing proxy, too, since he “invented” it).

Broadly, my primary assertion is that the internet as a whole, and facebook in particular (mostly seen as a somewhat more intensely managed version of the internet as a whole), are AT WORST forces of an ethically neutral value, and AT BEST they offer the potential for radically transforming our human ethical space, mostly due to the eerie powers of grassroots transparency.

Partly, I’m thinking in terms of evolutionary psychology. Humans evolved an ethical space in which LYING and DECEPTION (including self-deception!) were easy strategies, and therefore those things were (and still ARE) also quite frequent. The direction in which technology is taking us has the potential to transform the social evolutionary pressures that led that way. Perhaps I’m guilty, here, of transhumanist (q.v.) thinking – which in general I find vaguely worrying. Be that as it may.

Writers like Tom Hodgkinson worry that facebook (and the internet in general) are primarily technologies that accentuate this potential of deception, and worse, that they can even facilitate oppression. That’s a very pessimistic view, and it will lead down the path toward luddism. Of course, all technologies present us with grave dangers: the warmongers and the kleptocrats will always be beating plowshares into swords, wherever and whenever they “need” them, and using campaigns of deception and spying to discover the weaknesses of their enemies.

My feeling is that the people who most fear the internet are the sorts of people who fear things in general, and that the people who extoll the internet are the sorts of people who extoll things in general – in other words, whether we fear the future or extoll it has more to do with our own inner selves than with aspects inherent in world-changing technologies.

There have always been future dystopians (once called millenarians, for example). There have always been pie-in-the-sky optimists regarding the future of the human condition. What’s true – or reasonable – must fall somewhere in between.

Caveat: Trapped on Planet Earth

pictureThe recent satellite collision in the news got me to thinking about a thing called Kessler Syndrome.  The idea that it’s entirely conceivable and possible that we litter our Earth-proximate space with so much high-speed junk that it becomes difficult or impossible to launch vehicles into space anymore, as the debris becomes a kind of space-borne mine field that will pelt and puncture anything passing through.   Humanity’s forays into space might be ended by humanity’s own shortsightedness vis-a-vis the appropriate utilization of it.

Caveat: Wow, Fantastic!

My student Jenny has adopted the custom of saying "Wow, Fantastic!" as a sort of catch-all response.  It can mean anything from, "I don't understand anything you said" to "I don't care" to "I'm very happy!"  All of those.  So, today, during class, as a kind of joke, I gave a 45 second speech that consisted of nothing but the words "Wow, Fantastic!"  You know, with different intonations, gestures, rising tone, falling tone, questioning, stating, exclaiming, muttering.  This was a big hit, and the students in the next class heard about it, and demanded I do the same for them.  It became the thrill-du-jour.  But now, of course, I have the phrase stuck for ever and ever in my brain, both Jenny's mindless version and my own highly variable one.

Wow.  Fantastic.

In other news, Ellie writes, "All over the world, terrorizers are terrorizing people."  This is SOOOO true, don't you think?

Caveat: Obamiconography

pictureI saw the photo of our Future Space Emperor at the Telegraph ( website. It looks like some weird Orthodox Jesus icon, with the presidential seal behind him exactly just so…
Don’t get me wrong… I’m really not trying to be sarcastic when I call him Future Space Emperor. I think, first of all, that it just sounds funny. It captures the weird Obameschatology that grew up around his campaign. But also, what if he really does turn out to be Space Emperor, at some point?
Really!  It could happen!

Caveat: Dead Like Me

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to catch a few episodes of a rather peculiar tv show called "Dead Like Me."  I'd forgotten about it, until recently seeing it referenced on some website.  So I torrented a copy of the pilot episode and watched it this evening.   The dead girl is played by Ellen Muth, a very understated actress.

Eerie.  Funny.  Strange.

Caveat: Black or White or What?

In a recent article that appeared in The Atlantic magazine (January 2009) by Hua Hsu, "The End of White America?" the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson asks "Why is it that in the United States, a white woman can have black children but a black woman cannot have white children?"   This has always bothered me.  And it makes glaringly obvious the arbitrary nature of "race."

True post-racialism necessarily must lead to the elimination of such facile and artificial categories as black and white.  Ethnic difference will, of course, persist.  But that's not the same thing at all.

Caveat: Chupacabras and other fine tropes

It started out, because I was wondering, how does an originally Puerto Rican (and now naturalized Mexican, Brazilian, and even Texan) goat-sucking monster end up as a trope in a Japanese cartoon series? See the youtube, below, where the chupacabra creature is introduced in the Negima!? (the exclamation point and question mark are important parts of the correct spelling of the show’s name) series.
[UPDATE 2020-04-07: The video link here no longer worked, and I have been unable to find a replacement for it. So I guess just take my word for it.]
But then I began investigating, and found this most amazing, time-sucking website. A sort of intellectual chupacabra of my very own: Not only do they have these amazingly well-written, tongue-in-cheek meditations on everything from Hamlet to Battlestar Galactica to Chupacabras (of course), but they have such fun little time-wasters as the amazing “story generator“. I will never be able to spend my free time in only wikipedia. I’ve found something better.
So, that was yesterday. Today, I went exploring in Seoul, a little bit. Parts of Seoul seem like a very cold, temperate version of L.A., in terms of the urbanist style at work: these desolate mountain ranges push down into the heart of the city without really attracting development because of their steepness, so only a few subway stops north of downtown you can find a neighborhood that looks like this.

Caveat: Books-embedded-in-memories

A couple books that I read long ago, that have been on my mind for some reason.
When the Legends Die by Hal Borland: described as a “young adult classic,” but it’s a just plain good novel, in my opinion. We’re reading a couple of stories about the American West in my Violet 2 class, recently, and whenever I think of the American West, I think of this book. It’s definitely in my top 100 books. It’s not really a western, although that’s probably the closest genre.  It’s a very spare book, with a strong, unreachable but sympathetic character. Alienation. Perhaps most striking: it’s got loneliness without the pain that goes with it. Loneliness as refuge. As salvation, even. That’s a loneliness I understand, sometimes.
The Chosen (part of the unfinished “The Stone Dance of the Chameleon” trilogy) by Ricardo Pinto: a weird novel. The sort of thing a secret love-child of JRR Tolkien and William S Burroughs might produce, if he were raised in the Guatemalan jungle.  But well-written, and very complex. Amazing characters, descriptions, a very alien universe, but peopled by multi-dimensional humans. I was thinking of this because I read somewhere recently that Pinto (from Scotland – can’t you tell by his name?) is finally planning on completing his trilogy. I’ll need to get the book.
The Friday attitude barometer, episode 3:
* Number of times I’ve opened my resignation letter and edited it:  0
* Barrier-surpassing moments of Korean-language usage (outside of work only):  1
* Spirit-destroying moments of Korean-language communication breakdown (outside of work only):  0
* Number of students that have said something to the effect of “teacher, you’re so funny” while fighting off an apoplectic fit of giggles:  0
* Number of times I’ve told someone that I am “much happier than when I was in L.A.”:  1
* Number of times I really meant it (as opposed to the “fake it till I make it” approach I’m fond of): 0
* Days I was late to work this week:  2
* Total number of minutes I was late, minus total number of minutes I showed up early:  45
Current Soundtrack (as-I-write-this):

Zeromancer – “Fractured” from album Eurotrash
Linkin Park with Jay-Z – Dirt off your shoulder / Lying from you
Garbage – The Trick is to Keep Breathing
I drew this.


Caveat: Friends like these…

My facebook friend Kray pointed to an article in the guardian about the darker side of facebook in a recent post.  I wrote the following comments.  I'm going to be writing more, maybe this weekend.  I think it's important.

Kray, this is a fascinating article, and I agree that much of it is disturbing, the way that whole parts of the "new economy" are disturbing.  I think I will try for an in depth meditation on some of the issues raised, but meanwhile, two short observations:
xkcd 1) While I agree that if you're using facebook to connect to your local community, then you're clearly short circuiting what could be much more productive "real" social interactions.  But for me, it's been proving an amazing way to maintain and restore previously "disappeared" personal communities that span the entire planet because of my current location.  That's a "good thing."
2) Yes, we are very "exposed" on the net, and I agree that having all that personal information out there is scary.  But I've always been a huge fan of the concept of transparancy as a way to ensure ethics in things like government and business, and while there are big-brother aspects to something like facebook, isn't it possible that we could be hypocritical if we are unwilling to apply the same standards of transparency to our own lives?  I'd rather have my "dark secrets" online in a medium I at least in some ways can monitor and control (e.g. my blog, or facebook) than in spaces I cannot control (e.g. that file the FBI/CIA undoubtedly already have on me, somewhere in Washington, or the file my past doctors have of me in some database). 

Caveat: elected for president!!!

Today I was a celebrity. Each time I stepped out of a classroom or climbed the stairs, I faced a battery of cellphone cameras wielded by students who had recently discovered they can make high-speed, shutter-repeating “picture movies” with their cellphones. I began to do crazy things, as the idea of taking little stop-frame movies of me and each other spread like a meme in a grade school. Uh… yeah, that.
One student “messaged” me a few frames, and explained, finally: “Jared is elected for president!!!”

Caveat: 김家네에서 점심 밥 먹었어요

Last night a bunch of people from work went out to a Chinese restaurant in the “meat market” which is local foreigner-slang for the west end of the La Festa shopping center (which my apartment building is directly adjacent to).  I don’t know how the area got that name — whether because of the large number of restaurants, the existence of place(s) specifically selling meat (which I haven’t seen as something salient), or because of the nightclub scene (which as you know I tend to avoid).  Anyway, there are some good restaurants there, and the Chinese place is a regular haunt for semi-official LBridge staff outings.  Note that “Chinese” is interpreted broadly:  just as getting “Chinese” in America is hardly the same as getting food in China, I rather doubt there’s more than a passing similarity between China’s authentic cuisines and what they call “Chinese” in Korea.  But it’s pretty good.
Today, after the unhealthy food last night, I was craving kimchi bokkeumbap. I ordered some delivered from 김家네 (Kim Family’s House), the convenient take-out and delivery place on the corner. Having lunch delivered to the staff room at LBridge is nearly universal, but I tend not to do it except rarely, as the portions are always larger than I should eat regularly. There are lots of places that deliver, but 김家네 is the most popular – I think it’s part of a chain of Korean fast food joints.
It took me a long time to figure out the middle syllable (Kim-ga-ne) because on all the written material associated with the restaurant, they use the Chinese hanja to stand for the “ga.” In pure hangeul, it would be 김가네.  I don’t know why they use the hanja – it’s a strictly stylistic thing, but I never knew how it was pronounced as I have never managed to develop the skill required to search for Chinese hanja in dictionaries without already knowing the pronunciation.  I had to wait to overhear some coworkers talking about it to make the connection with the bags and containers I saw from the place.  “Kim-ga” means, roughly, Kim Family, and the -ne suffix means something akin to the way “chez” works in French, for example.

Caveat: 25 random things (cross-post from facebook to blog)

I've been spending more time in facebook, recently.  I'm not going to make much effort to "cross-post" things between the two places, but the potential for a sort of "online personality divergence" makes me weirdly uncomfortable — I'm not sure to what extent my miniscule blog audience overlaps my miniscule facebook audience…

Anyway, in this instance, here is a cross posting from facebook.  A challenge is circulating there, to post 25 random things about oneself.  Here is what I wrote:

1. I like making weird lists of random facts about myself. So this task
should go well and prove entertaining.

2. I jokingly tell people that I'm on my 6th career, and it definitely won't be
my last. Let's see… in reverse order: 6) Elementary EFL Teacher 5) Database
Programmer and Business Systems Analyst (maybe that's 2 at once?) 4) High
School Spanish Teacher 3) Graduate Student (that's a career, isn't it?) 2)
Bookstore Flunky 1) US Army Mechanic 0) Itinerant Hippie-Type-Person

3. I wrote a doctoral dissertation proposal on Cervantes' under-appreciated
novel "Persiles," but I dropped out of the Univ of Pennsylvania program in
disgust with the departmental politics; they gave me an MA as a "consolation

4. In 2004 I wrote a "temporary" computer program that a former employer of
mine used to bill a Very Large Customer (let's say they have corporate HQ in
Detroit, and the monthly billing amount was approximately $1 million, with
invoices running to 300 pages). As far as I know, they were still using that
program in 2007. When you log onto the intranet site that runs the billing
program, I had placed a quote by Mao Tse-tung on the splash page. It's still

5. My television is broken. I like it that way. I use it to pile up my "half
clean" laundry… the stuff it's not time to wash but that isn't clean enough
to hang in the closet. If I need video, I watch it on my laptop.

6. I'm a language geek. I have studied 20 languages in some kind of academic
context for at least a few months. That doesn't mean I can speak them. In
most, I can barely say "hello, howareya?" In no particular order: Latin,
Ancient Greek, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Dakota (Native
North American Language), Mapudungun (Native South American Language), Korean, Medieval Welsh, Ancient Sumerian, Georgian (Kartuli), Japanese, Mandarin, Arabic, Purepecha (Tarascan, Native Mexican Language), Dutch, Catalan, German.

7. The languages in which I could truly claim any degree of competence are (in rapidly descending order): English, Spanish, French, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Italian… from there, don't even bother. I claim fluency only in English and Spanish.

8. I cook a mean mole poblano (famous Mexican Puebla style "chocolate chicken"). I haven't done so since moving to Korea, though. Ingredients hard to come by…

9. I love snow and rain much more than sunny days of any kind.

10. I died on November 17th, 1998, from intentional drug overdose. This is my 10th year as a ghost on planet Earth. I'm much happier as a ghost.

11. I love my family, though I don't communicate much with them.

12. I really want to learn Korean for 3 reasons: 1) the challenge — it is reputably one of the most difficult languages in wide distribution to learn 2) the novelty — it is very unique grammatically in the world 3) for my nephews (two Korean boys my sister adopted)

13. My childhood ambition was to be an architect. I feel like it's too late… but is it?

14. I secretly love cheesy romantic comedies.

15. There are still many places I want to travel to and visit. Top of the list: Phillipines, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Finland, Russia, Turkey… uh, well, everywhere. OK? Everywhere.

16. I think I like being a "foreigner" — like when I was living in Mexico, or here in Korea, now. I think it helps affirm my inner alienation.

17. The big surprise of my recent career shift is that I actually enjoy teaching elementary kids more than older kids (and/or adults). It makes sense, but it honestly had never occurred to me before.

18. I own around 4000 books. They're in storage, in Minnesota. Except for, say, the most recent 50, lying around my apartment here in Ilsan. I can't seem to get rid of books, even if they're in a language I may never be competent to read.

19. If I go back to grad school, it won't be in Spanish Lit (which is what it was before). Maybe back to Linguistics?

20. I have more than 6000 music tracks on my computer. I admit… I'm a pirate. Argh.

21. I used to hate kimchi… but dang, that stuff kinda grows on you.

22. The place I've lived longest is Humboldt County (first 17 years minus a
half year in Oklahoma City plus a half year or so in 1990). 2nd runner-up is
Twin Cities, Minnesota (about 10 years cumulatively). 3rd place is Los Angeles
County, various locations (about 9 years total); 4th place is Metro
Philadelphia (about 3 years). 5th place is Northwest Gyeonggi Province, South
Korea (now about 2.5 years cumulatively). 6th place is Mexico City (about 14
months total). Other places where I've lived at least 3 months: Chicago,
Illinois; Valdivia, Chile; Boston/Cambridge, MA; Acuitzio, Michoacan, Mexico;
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala; Craig, Alaska; Oklahoma City, OK; Fort Jackson, South Carolina

23. Technically, I'm a widower. The real story is more complicated — we were
separated and discussing divorce when Michelle committed suicide in June of
2000. But I miss her nevertheless.

24. I have a stepson, Jeffrey, who is now 22 and a student at St Cloud State
in Minnesota.

25. An old friend of mine, Rosita (now 71), in Mexico City in 2007, asked me
why I'm single. "Porque todavia creo en el amor verdadero," I answered. (I
still believe in true love).


Caveat: I’m very uuuu.

My student Jenny K. said this today, as if it had a specific and important meaning:  "I'm very uuuu."  I have no idea what she meant, but it was very funny.

Caveat: 48 Questions

There was one of those list-note things circulating in facebookland, where you answer the questions and post them as a note in facebook. So I did that. Here's the result, crossposted here to this blog thingy.

Well, there's that patriarch
Jared, in the Bible — Genesis something-or-other, and he makes a quick
appearance in the roll call at the beginning of Luke. But I think my
mother was just fishing around randomly.

November 16th, last fall.

It's horrible.

Pastrami (historically). Recently, K-spam (Koreans worship spamstuff).

stepson, turned 22 last month. Wow. He's in my facebook friends list.
He lives in St Cloud, MN. We're not super close, but I care about him
very much.

No way. I'm insecure and excessively opinionated.

Regrettably, far too often.

Nope. They got removed at Trinity Hospital, corner of C Street and 14th in Arcata, in 1970. I remember the jello vividly.

Definitely. It's on the list.

I haven't eaten cereal in years. But, if I had to choose, maybe raisin bran.

God, never.


Personalitywise: "openness"? Physically: hands.

Pink. Only because of a current running joke with my E2M3 kids at work.

My indecisiveness / commitment issues.

I miss Michelle (my former wife, died 2000). Sometimes I miss my dad
and brother in L.A. Sometimes I miss my bestfriend Bob and family in

No. Someone has to resist the borg.

I'm at home, after work. Blue shorts, no shoes.

have more than 6000 tracks of music on my computer, on shuffle. Let's
see what comes up… LOL: Bee Gees, More than a Woman. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ


and asphalt (i.e. Southern California in the fall); diesel fumes
(really! makes me think of bus treks across Mexico); a Humboldt County
beach (the surging Pacific); a Minnesota spring;

My friend Basil, former coworker at hellbridge (my employer).

I like most people. Weirdly. In my abstract way. But yes.

Hmm. Probably soccer.

Brownish greyish.

Bluish greyish.


Kimchi Bokkeumbap. Mole poblano. Mac n Cheese.

Happy endings.

헨젤과 그레텔. Note this is a scary movie, which doesn't make sense, given the previous answer. But whatever…

Um… bluish, sweatshirt.

Winter. Why else do I keep moving back to Minnesota? Besides, the sun is evil.

Hugs. Despite years in Latin America, I never got comfortable with the kiss-as-hello thing.

Me. See? … I just did.

I refuse to respond to this.

never read just one book at a time. Current in-progress
(pile-on-the-shelf-by-the-bed) list includes: Zarathustra (Nietzsche);
The World Without Us (Alan Weisman); Rational Mysticism (John Horgan);
Mainspring (Jay Lake); Progress and Poverty (Henry George); 프래니 (Koren
language translation of American children's book Frannie K Stein by Jim
Benton); Audacity of Hope (Obama).

I use the track-pad thing built into my laptop. The mousepad at work is black and unattractive. There is a mouse on it.

TV is broken. I download old tv shows or movies sometimes, and watch
them on my computer. I was watching a Korean series called "Rooftop
Cat" a while back. And some Hawaii 5-O episodes. Bookem, Danno.

not-too-busy freeway, as heard from about 3 blocks away; cicadas in the
height of a Korean summer; the crunch of snow after a fresh fall, when
the temperature is below 0F.

I don't really like either, but if I had to choose, I'd opt for Beatles, because of the childhood soundtrack thing.

which home? My current home is the farthest from my first home, I
think. But Tierra del Fuego is really damn far from both, and so is
Krakow, Poland. Hmm, how about Tasmania? That's farther from most of
my homes than other places, I guess.

I used to be able to sleep anywhere, under any circumstance. I seem to have lost that ability. It's very sad.

Trinity Hospital, Arcata, California.


were next door neighbors in 1992, in south Minneapolis, but also both
attending Univ of Minnesota. Michelle and I separated in 1998, and she
died in 2000.

Caveat: Centering

I had a profoundly traumatic fourth grade year, split between Edgemere Elementary in Oklahoma City (for that half-year we spent there when Ann and Mara and I were staying with my grandparents), and Sunnybrae (which at that time was an elementary school – it didn’t change to a middle school until a few years later, just in time for me to attend there again in 7th and 8th grades).
I really hated my fourth grade year, although I remember being sort of friends with Kray, and close friends with Colin Brant and Tom McConnell.  But the following two years, for 5th and 6th grades, I went to “Centering School.”
pictureI laugh it off sometimes, in trying to explain it to others who don’t know or understand what a Humboldt County upbringing can mean. “It was a hippie school,” I’ll joke. “We meditated after lunch, and they let us vote on what to study next,” I will explain laconically. The very last may be a bit of an exaggeration. But overall, they’re not inaccurate. And the fact of the matter is, they were the best years of my long, complicated education. I will remember teachers like Rita and Peggy forever. I still feel close to especially Peggy, who I describe to people using a word like “godmother” – she’s probably the closest thing I’ve had to one. Admittedly, Peggy was not just my 6th grade teacher, but also one of the residents of the extended A Street menagerie, and had been part of the community that raised me from infancy.
And my best friend was Steven Rossa. We used to stage mock battles in the halls, when Centering School was located at the Methodist Church on 11th Street, or go hunting evil villains in a sort of superheroes roleplay across the parking lot and around behind the buildings. The school was small, so what age you were meant little about who you hung out with… so it created a much more natural, human kind of interaction between the kids, with lots of mentoring of older to younger. There was a huge emphasis on arts:  drama, writing, drawing, etc. Appropriate, since the school’s founder was a HSU art professor.
Here’s what’s strange, now, all these years later. I’m a bit old to be part of the typical facebook demographic. As would those who are in my generation, which is to say, my Centering School peers. But lo and behold, it seems as if vast numbers of Centering School alums are facebookers, and everyone’s friending everyone else like mad. Perhaps something about the original environment drawing and encouraging creative types leads, all these years later, to a high rate of internet adoption and comfort? All I know is that there are more people from 5th and 6th grade Centering School in facebook than there are from my college years… at least that I’ve seen. That’s a strange statistical improbability.
Regardless, it’s very cool to be meeting up with people, online, who I haven’t seen since 1977, the year I finished 6th grade…  if rather disorienting. It was such a great community! I have sometimes said that I was subjected to two horrible traumas during my childhood: my parents’ divorce, and my departure from Centering School at the end of 6th grade – and I’m not really joking when I say that of the two, the latter was worse.

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