Caveat: Tiger underneath a pine tree

송하맹호도I'm reading a book by Oh Ju-seok about Korean Choson Dynasty painting. It's translated into English, of course.

There's a chapter dedicated to a painting called 송하맹호도 (which is translated as Tiger underneath a pine tree, but I have no idea how the title translates more perfectly). It's by an 18th century artist called Kim Hong-do (김홍도 / 金弘道 [1745∼1806?]). I like the painting and can see why the author talks about it a lot. A close-up of the tiger's face is the cover of the edition of the book that I have:


I enjoy art history – I should read more of it.


Caveat: 우린 달라졌을까

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” – Thich Naht Hanh.
What I’m listening to right now.

윤하 [Younha] (With John Park), “우린 달라졌을까” [We’re different].
[UPDATE 2020-03-21: Link rot repair]

다 잊었다고 난 생각 했나봐
내 마음조차 날 속였었나봐
마주보던 날들 함께 웃었던 얘기
따뜻했던 그 공기까지도

참 선명하게 다 남아있나봐
단 하나도 잊을 수가 없나봐
그만하면 됐다고 이미 바보 같다고
날 다그치며 미워하지만

내 가슴속을 낫게 하는 건
내 머릿속을 쉬게 해주는 건
너의 사랑밖엔 없어 덜어내려 해도
내 마음은 또 너에게로 가

널 보고 싶단 생각뿐이야
널 잡고 싶은 마음뿐이야
아주 멀리 돌아와도
마지막은 니가 있던 나의 곁이길

참 좋았던 니 향기가 생각나
너무 어울렸던 그 이름 불러봐
마지막에 너를 한번 더 잡았다면
지금 우리는 달라졌을까

참 쓸데없는 생각을 하는 나
또 기대하고 또 무너지는 나
미련두지 말자고 이제 그만 하자고
날 다그치며 미워하지만

나 없이 잘 지내지 말아줘
내가 없이도 행복하지는 마
나처럼 그리워 울고 잠 못 드는 밤에
나를 찾아 올 수 있도록

이렇게라도 널 찾고 싶어
이렇게라도 널 볼 수 있다면
나는 어떤 기도라도 할 수 있어
행복이 반으로 줄어도 괜찮아

나에게 올 거야 넌 내게 돌아 올 거야
니가 있던 그 자리 나의 가슴 속으로
다른 사랑할 수 없는 나인가 봐
니가 전부인 나에게 다시 돌아와

내 가슴속을 낫게 하는 건
내 머릿속을 쉬게 해주는 건
너의 사랑밖엔 없어 덜어내려 해도
내 마음은 또 너에게로 가

널 보고 싶단 생각뿐이야
널 잡고 싶은 마음뿐야
아주 멀리 돌아와도 마지막은
니가 있던 나의 곁이길

참 좋았던 니 향기가 생각나
너무 어울렸던 그 이름 불러봐
마지막에 너를 한 번 더 잡았다면
지금 우리는 달라졌을까

[Daily log: what? It’s my day off]

Caveat: Summer Rain

It has been a very dry Spring, here, to my perception. But summer – true Korean summer – finally arrived today, in the form of heavy rain.

I walked home and got utterly soaking wet. I'm going to work on Sunday this weekend, because of the move to our location (next door building, but still). So it doesn't feel like a weekend, coming.

I love the rain. But it's not easy to motivate to go on my after-work jog when it's pouring. I think I'll just go to bed.

[Daily log: walking, 4 km]

Caveat: On Justice Roberts and ObRomneyCare

I'm not sure that Roberts' siding with the constitutionality of ACA is a good thing. First and foremost, because I'm not sure there's much that's progressive about the ACA – it's always struck me as being so compromised with the insurance industry and the status quo that it wasn't likely to really offer much genuine reform. All Roberts has shown is that he will take the side of corporations – which we already knew from e.g. Citizens United. And as many commentators have already pointed out, he nevertheless managed to reject that the ACA was valid due to the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, calling the mandate fines a tax instead. As a result, he's provided ammunation to the Republicans who can attack Obama as "tax-and-spend" – thus doing Obama no favors while nevertheless avoiding besmirching the court's allegedly non-partisan reputation. He gets the best of both worlds, and plants the seeds for further erosion of the Commerce Clause.

One blog, Stop Me Before I Vote Again, had what I found to be a bitter, cynical, but largely accurate summary of what's going on with this. And one commentor on that blog post, going by the name "Picador," had a thought that I feel is worth quoting:

Roberts has actually done us a favour here: he's pulled back the curtain a bit on the whole "government of enumerated powers" illusion. His decision is perfectly in line with legal precedent: after all, the government essentially already has an individual mandate for every citizen to buy a predator drone or a cluster bomb from a defence contractor (stored and maintained by the CIA and US Army, of course), so why not health insurance too? Once the power to tax is unrestricted, do you really even need the commerce clause anymore?

Indeed. Via our taxes, we've been mandated to support a vast, planetary-scale war-machine for decades. How is mandating that people buy healthcare coverage that different?

On a lighter note, the humor/meme site, Buzzfeed, has a posting of people who have – no kidding – announced via Twitter that they're moving to Canada due to their disgust with the creeping socialism in the U.S. This is hilarious.

Caveat: 에헤라디야!

Kids know more than we sometimes give them credit for. Exhibit A:
My student presented me with a spontaneously created drawing today. She said it was her 원어민 (won-eo-min = native-speaking [English] teacher, i.e. a foreigner) at her public school – his name is George.
Look at what he’s drinking. The green bottles say 소주 (soju, i.e. Korean vodka). He’s saying “에헤라디야” [e-he-ra-di-ya] which is a sort of interjection that means something like “Oh, yeah!” as in “I’m very happy.”
A fourth-grader either knows these things about her foreign teacher because they’re obvious, or because he’s told his students about them directly. I’m not sure that’s really very professional, either way. I think this revealing little moment points up some of the big issues with Korean EFL education – i.e. the lack of professionalism in so many of the teachers that come over here to work. I don’t blame the foreigners – it’s a lack of quality control.
Just don’t ever forget – kids know: they see through you.
picture[Daily log: walking, 3 km]

Caveat: North American Tour

ImagesThis is a preliminary announcement.

I confirmed the dates of my vacation yesterday, and made my airline ticket purchase this morning. I'm coming to North America for about 11 days, July 28 to August 10. Minimally, I will be visiting Minneapolis and Los Angeles – other destinations to be determined.

It will have been more than two and a half years since being in the U.S. I anticipate major reverse-culture-shock.

In a side note – why are Korean websites so difficult to navigate – even the English versions (or especially the English versions?)

Caveat: digestion

I ran across a quote from Dave Packard, one of the co-founders of Hewlitt-Packard fame, and thus one of the original "creators" of Silicon Valley. It seemed very relevant to the Karma-devouring-ex-LBridge scenario currently playing out at my place of work.

Here's the quote:

"More companies die of indigestion than starvation."

KarmaKarma hagwon is definitely up against a major digestive challenge, in trying to absorb a bigger prey and maintain its identity. But in the current hagwon market, organic growth is almost impossible – so I understand the thinking: it's growth-through-acquistion.

Well, anyway. I passed the quote on to my boss in a good-natured way. He could have taken it badly, but he didn't. We had a good conversation about it. That's why he's the best boss I've had since coming to Korea.

What I'm listening to right now.

Molotov, "Hit Me." The Mexican sexenio election is approaching. I predict the PRI candidate, Peña Nieto, will win.

La letra:

Molotov – Hit me

Cuando era chico quería ser como superman
pero ahora ya quiero ser un diputado del PAN
o del PRI o del PRD
o cualquier cosa que tenga un poco de poder
quiero convertirme en músico político
y construirle un piso al periferico
quiero acabar con el tráfico
tengo que entrar en la historia de México
y luego miro al pecero que va medio pedo
jugando carreras con los pasajeros
pero el tiene que pasar primero
sin luces sin frenos junto al patrullero
aunque no sepa leer
no sepa hablar
el es el que te brinda la seguridad
asi lo tienes que respetar
porque el representa nuestra autoridad

So you think you gonna hit me
but now We gonna hit you back

Te metera en el bolsillo una sustancia ilegal
y te va a consignar al poder judicial
y ahí seguro que te ira muy mal
porque te haran cocowash con agua mineral
porque en ti creiamos todos los mexicanos
te dimos trabajo pagado y honrado
te dimos un arma para cuidarnos
y el arma que usas la usas para robarnos
y aunque quieras quejarte con papa gobierno
les pides ayuda y te mandan al infierno
porque tendremos que tirar buen pedo
solo te van a dar atole con el dedo
y en la fila del departamento de quejas
toparas con un mar de secretarias pendejas
el siguiente en la fila y asi te la pelas
pero algunos al final nunca se traspapela


México solidario acabo alos tiranos
sin la necesidad de ensuciarnos las manos
no podemos pedir resultado inmediato
de un legado de 75 años
todos unidos pedimos un cambio
piedra sobre piedra y peldaño a peldaño
solo poder expresarnos es palaba de honor
de nuestro jefe de estado
te arrepentiras de todo lo que trabajas
se te ira la mitad de todo lo que tu ganas
manteniendo los puestos de copias piratas
que no pagan impuestos pero son más baratas
veo una fuerte campaña de tele y de radio
promoviendo la union entre los ciudadanos
mensaje de un pueblo libre y soberano

(Nos quieren pegar pegar)
So you think you gonna hit me
(y nos la van a pagar)
but now we gonna hit you back

[Daily log: walking, 4 km; running, 2 km]

Caveat: Barack H. Cheney

Michael T. Klare at Guernica magazine makes a what I find a convincing case that Barack Obama's energy policy is a near perfect continuation of Dick Cheney's, as developed both while he was Bush II's vice president but even when he was Secretary of Defense under Bush I (due to said energy policy's notably heavy geopolitical elements).

Let's add to that the almost transparent way in which Obama is continuing the Cheneyesque national security policy (e.g. drones, subterfuges against Iran, Guantanamo, etc., etc.), and I have hard time not believe that Cheney somehow, eerily, still seems to be pupeteering the White House, despite his protoge's replacement by a zombie from the other team.

I'm so discouraged. I'm trying to decide what third-party candidate to support.

Caveat: School of Fish

Fourth-grader Jeonghyeon impressed me today, because she gave me a picture of a fish school. It was impressive because this was a fairly accurate representation of something we'd talked about during my "phone-teaching" with her last Friday. It was a sign that her comprehension skills are actually improving, and it's a credit to the phone-teaching concept. She's a difficult student – a befuddling combination of a sunny, positive attitude and stubborn resistance to actually learning something.

Here's her fish school.

Jh 001

I'm extremely tired tonight. I think I slept badly over the last several days. I'm not sure why.

[Daily log: walking, 3 km]

Caveat: Less Than Nothing

Slavoj Žižek's new book, Less Than Nothing, is reviewed in the New York Review of Books by John Gray. I haven't read the book, though I might buy it and make an attempt to read it if I came across it – it's about topics that interest me, including Hegel and the dialectic. But Gray's review is withering. Having previously explained Žižek's concept called "paraconsistent logic," he deploys it in his conclusion:

"Achieving a deceptive substance by endlessly reiterating an essentially empty vision, Žižek’s work—nicely illustrating the principles of paraconsistent logic—amounts in the end to less than nothing."

Bam. Takedown. Or is it?

I'm not anti-Žižek, but I get that he seems, well… like a self-parody. And Gray's point about his obsession with violence is valid. He's not a comfortable philosopher, but I'm utterly confident that his incoherence is deliberate. Whether it's deliberate because he's pulling it off as a sort of intellectual deception (a la Sokal affair), or because he's using it as a sort of dialectical "tool-of-instruction" (a la the Socratic Method), I'm not sure.

Again, although I haven't read the book, it seems to me that Gray didn't get what Žižek was doing. It's supposed to be less than nothing. The title says so.

Last night I dreamed I returned to Yeonggwang, but that Yeonggwang resembled Humboldt County, as Humboldt County would be if it were occupied by Koreans. Interesting.

Caveat: 6 2 5

Koreans don't call the Korean War the Korean War. Mostly, they call it 육이오 [yuk-i-o], which is just six-two-five, i.e., the date the war started. On this day in 1950, the North invaded the South. It's not a holiday, but some stores and businesses close, and there are a lot of flags, and some people seem a bit somber, if they're thinking of it.

At work, because of the merger, there are more meetings than usual. I find them frustrating, because a lot of important stuff is being said and decided, and with my poor Korean, I'm marginalized. I got an agenda for a big meeting tomorrow, and I spent nearly an hour studying it. I'm shocked and dismayed and saddened by how little vocabulary I know, still, after all these years. Sigh.

[Daily log: walking, 3 km; running, 3 km]

Caveat: Be a Trail

I was in the Gyeongbokgung subway station yesterday and happened to notice this piece of inspirational poetry posted on the "anti-suicide" doors (there are doors in many subway stations now along the platform edges, which prevents people from falling or jumping into the track area before the train comes – so I think of them as anti-suicide doors, though I'm sure they have other justifications as well). I snapped a picture.

Sub 003

The poem is by an American, Douglas Malloch, apparently a Freemason and lumberjack, among other things. The text on the door is in English on the right, translated to Korean on the left.

The tone and message of the poem is so "Korean" I can see why it was selected for inspiriational subway poetry. There is a lot of subway poetry, these days, but most of it is Korean, of course – as is only right.

Oddly, there is no wikipedia entry about Malloch – doesn't anyone who ever wrote a book have a wikipedia entry? But I googled a masonic website with a page dedicated to his work. Here's the poem from the subway door.

Be the Best of Whatever You Are

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley — but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass —
But the liveliest bass in the lake!

We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here,
There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do,
And the task you must do is the near.

If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or you fail —
Be the best of whatever you are!

It's preceded by this quote:

"We all dream of great deeds and high positions, away from the pettiness and humdrum of ordinary life. Yet success is not occupying a lofty place or doing conspicuous work; it is being the best that is in you. Rattling around in too big a job is worse than filling a small one to overflowing. Dream, aspire by all means; but do not ruin the life you must lead by dreaming pipe dreams of the one you would like to lead. Make the most of what you have and are. Perhaps your trivial, immediate task is your one sure way of proving your mettle. Do the thing near at hand, and great things will come to your hand to be done."

Caveat: Someday

What I'm listening to right now.

리쌍 [ri-ssang = LeeSsang], "Someday." 가사:

모든 것이 멈춘 채 시간은 또 조용히 흐르네
가라앉던 가슴이 또다시 숨이 꽉 막히네 나 홀로 버려진 채
사라지는 아픔마저도 미치도록 아쉬운데
너 없이 견디는 이 시간도 끝나겠지 언젠가는

someday 다 잊혀져갈 사랑 그리운 내 사랑
언제나 힘들게만 한 그대여
someday 내 가엾은 내 사랑 그리운 내 사랑
언제나 행복해야 해 날 떠나서

언제나 불안했던 사랑의 계단
그 어떤 순간에도 내 손을 놓지 않았던
네가 항상 너무 고맙다
이젠 날 떠나서 행복해라
제발 나와 찍은 사진처럼 웃어라 맨날
슬프고 힘든 시간의 연속 타들어가는 맘속
불안한 두 손 혹독한 이별의 구속
아프고 아물고 또다시 아파오는 고통의 반복
힘들다 정말 미치도록

사라지는 아픔마저도 미치도록 아쉬운데
너 없이 견디는 이 시간도 끝나겠지 언젠가는

someday 다 잊혀져갈 사랑 그리운 내 사랑
언제나 힘들게만 한 그대
someday 내 가엾은 내 사랑 그리운 내 사랑
언제나 행복해야 해 날 떠나서

날 떠나서 날 떠나서 날 떠나서

someday 다 잊혀져갈 사랑 그리운 내 사랑
언제나 힘들게만 한 그대
someday 내 가엾은 내 사랑 그리운 내 사랑
언제나 행복해야 해 날 떠나서

날 떠나서 날 떠나서 날 떠나서 날 떠나서

지금 내가 할 수 있는건 니가 행복하길 바라는것
이대로 시간이 흘러 상처들이 아무는 것
날 부르고 싶어도 그저 입을 다무는 것
끝없는 후회들과 계속 싸우는 것
억지로 써내려가는 이별의 말들
하나씩 지워가는 내 지난 날 들
이렇게 멍하니 이겨내 보는 하루하루
내 전부 내 희망 내 사랑 너 너 너
날 떠나서

[Daily Log: walking, 4 km]

Caveat: The Space Emperor’s Apotheosis

There's an artist named Tim O'Brian. I recently ran across an illustration of his that struck me as symbolically correct. To those who feel that Obama is too far left, I can only say that I feel you are deeply, deeply mistaken. I'm among those who perceive Obama to be turning out to be one of the most conservative Democratic presidents in more than 100 years. That's why this illustration makes sense to me. Plus it looks cool.


I had made a decision to call Obama "The [broken link! FIXME] Future [broken link! FIXME] Space [broken link! FIXME] Emperor" way back when he first appeared to be winning the 2008 election, but I haven't stuck with it. If you stick with that metaphor, though – BHO as Palpatine – does that mean that Reagan is the dark side of the Force? Darth Ronald. Nice. Continuing the metaphor, I like the sound of Darth Romney, too. …Rolls off the tongue. We could view the current election as just a minor squabble among the Sith Lords within the Coruscant Beltway.

As I've admitted before, I voted for him. And I still view the currently psychotic Republican party as an unacceptable alternative. But I'm less and less enamored of Obama, too, if I ever was.

Caveat: ya no siento el corazón


Yo voy soñando caminos
de la tarde. ¡Las colinas
doradas, los verdes pinos,
las polvorientas encinas!…
¿Adónde el camino irá?
Yo voy cantando, viajero
a lo largo del sendero…
-la tarde cayendo está-.
"En el corazón tenía
la espina de una pasión;
logré arrancármela un día:
"ya no siento el corazón".

Y todo el campo un momento
se queda, mudo y sombrío,
meditando. Suena el viento
en los álamos del río.

La tarde más se oscurece;
y el camino que serpea
y débilmente blanquea
se enturbia y desaparece.

Mi cantar vuelve a plañir:
"Aguda espina dorada,
quién te pudiera sentir
en el corazón clavada".

– Antonio Machado

I hadn't thought about Machado in quite a while, then out of nothing a line of his poetry popped into my head. I don't think of him as one of my "main poets" – he doesn't occupy those recurring thoughts of poetry like Jeffers or García Lorca or Neruda or Stevens. But I guess he must have made an impression at some point, or his line would not have appeared in my mind.

[Daily log: nevermind]

Caveat: 추격자

I had a strange dream last night where I was walking around Ilsan and ended up in Minneapolis. But the signs were still in Korean. I felt lost.
What I’m listening to right now.

인피니트 (Infinite), “추격자” (The Chaser).
[UPDATE 2020-03-21: link rot repair]


미안해 마 독하게 날 버리고 떠나도 돼
니가 원한다면 그래 good bye

허나 내 맘까지 접은건 아냐
내 사랑이 이겨

아이야 먼저 가 어기야 디여라차 어기야디야 되찾을꺼야
잠시야 앞서도 널 따라 잡으리 난~

그녀를 지켜라 날 잊지 못하게
내 님이 계신 곳 끝까지 가련다

rap)잊어버려 이별의 말 앞에 멈춰가는 가슴 치고 무릎 꿇어본 나
꺼져버려 썪은 장작 같은 슬픔에 타버린 날 끌어본다
식은 네 맘이 왜 아직 내 마음을 매일 설레이고 헤매게 하는지
걸어본다 사랑에 날 굳게 만들지 또

아이야 먼저 가 어기야 디여라차 어기야디야 되찾을꺼야
잠시야 아파도 결국엔 웃으리 난~

그녀를 지켜라 날 잊지 못하게
내 님이 계신 곳 끝까지 가련다
거리를 좁혀라 내 손에 잡히게
내 님을 찾아서 내 전불 걸련다

rap)그래 나 독한 맘으로 널 버리려 했어 애써 본능을 짓밟아 버리며
흐려진 너에 대한 집착 또한 다~ 사랑이라~ 내뱉는 난~
또 도저히 널 놓지도 끊지도 못해 오늘도
뭔가에 홀린 듯 눈가에 맺힌 너를 쫓아

미안해 girl 절대 너란 끈을 놓진 않을래
내가 니 맘 돌릴꺼니 괜찮아
가슴 쥐 뜯겨도 별거 아니야

그녀를 지켜라 날 잊지 못하게
내 님이 계신 곳 끝까지 가련다

내 맘이 그렇지 하나만 알아서
꺾기고 아파도 널 사랑 하련다

미안해 마 독하게 날 버리고 떠나도 돼
니가 원한다면 그래 good bye
허나 내 맘까지 접은건 아냐


Caveat: 개소리

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 product. This is not to depreciate them in any way – they are the thing I like about my job, and they’re 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.
Curt 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.
During the CC class (karaoke) I taught today, the boys insisted in hearing / seeing the video for a song called “Party Rock.” It has a zombie-themed shuffle-dance-craze-including video. Those fifth-grade boys are utterly enraptured by this video and song. I can’t figure it out.
What I’m listening to right now.

LMFAO, “Party Rock.”
picture[Daily log: walking, 3 km; running 2 km]

Caveat: Long Days

Yesterday and today I have to work mornings – we're doing presentations to parents about the transition to the new merged hagwon situation.

Working from 10:30 am to 10 pm makes for a long day – even if there is quite a bit of dead time in there.

The morning is overcast. It's been such a dry, sunny early summer this year. I'll be happy when the monsoon comes. I think the trees will be, too. They're looking dryish.

Caveat: Our House

Work is stressing me out.

What I'm listening to right now.

Madness, "Our House." 29 years ago I graduated high school. At that time, this was my favorite song. I remember driving down to Santa Barbara that summer, and hearing it getting frequent radio-play.

I took this photo in 1983. I'm just randomly placing it here. It's of some seagulls at Mad River Beach in Arcata (the town of my birth).


[Daily log: walking, 4 km]

Caveat: E por que hei de negar?

"Caminho Monótono"

E por que hei de negar?…Ah! o encanto da estrada
abrindo em cada curva um leque de paisagem,
e o mistério da casa escondida e encantada
que mora sob a sombra amiga da folhagem

E por que hei de negar? Se isso é a vida passada;
se o fastio espantou o encanto da miragem
Hoje – o olhar distraído, e a alma já cansada
repetem todo dia e sempre a mesma viagem

E por que hei de negar? Ah! Aquelas ânsias loucas
dos beijos que cantavam sempre em nossas bocas
e das mãos, não sabendo nunca onde pousar…

Hoje… por mais que venhas, sempre estou sozinho…
E por que hei de negar? Se teu corpo é um caminho
onde de olhos fechados posso caminhar?…

– J. G. de Araujo Jorge

I love the Portuguese language. Maybe someday I will study it more deeply.

Caveat: Prosocial

I'm not sure what, exactly, to make of this abstract of a recent social sciences study (the article itself is paywalled, and I have little interest in actually trying to read it). But to control-c-control-v the abstract here:

Recent research has revealed that specific tastes can influence moral processing, with sweet tastes inducing prosocial behavior and disgusting tastes harshening moral judgments. Do similar effects apply to different food types (comfort foods, organic foods, etc.)? Although organic foods are often marketed with moral terms (e.g., Honest Tea, Purity Life, and Smart Balance), no research to date has investigated the extent to which exposure to organic foods influences moral judgments or behavior. After viewing a few organic foods, comfort foods, or control foods, participants who were exposed to organic foods volunteered significantly less time to help a needy stranger, and they judged moral transgressions significantly harsher than those who viewed nonorganic foods. These results suggest that exposure to organic foods may lead people to affirm their moral identities, which attenuates their desire to be altruistic.

On the one hand, I want to say that there was always something about the organic-foods-only people that got on my nerves, and now I have proof. On the other hand, I want to ask, if crappy food promotes "prosocial" behavior, why is everyone so antisocial when everyone eats so badly in, e.g., the USA? It depends on how one defines a term like "prosocial," I suppose. Lastly, I wonder, what is this broader purpose of this research? What is their broader social hypothesis? Where are the researchers going with this?

[Daily log: walking, 3 km]

Caveat: Immortality

Images"Yes, insofar as I am immortal, I will be immortal. To me, young has no meaning- something you can do nothing about, nothing at all. But youth is a quality and if you have it, you never lose it. And when they put you into the box, that's your immortality." – Frank Lloyd Wright

I love FLW.

Caveat: Black Card

Bc 001My student Ahyeon was angry at me today. But unlike most elementary students, instead of acting out, she approached her anger in an unusual way: she ignored the class proceedings for about 20 minutes (I could tell she was angry – it was about some issue related to the awarding of points on homework), and spent the time carefully making a "black card" for me (picture at right), which she presented to me with a shy smile at the end of class. It was very unusual, but I was pleased with it, in a strange way. It was so communicative – which as a language teacher, is much more valuable than the content of the communication, if that makes any sense.

– Notes for Korean –
냄새 [naem-sae] – smell (I was excited to learn this word from context based on overhearing someone talking – that's so unusual, and it's a much, much better way to learn vocabulary than repeatedly trying to memorize it)
두음법칙 [du-eum-beop-chik] – liaison (initial sound-[change] rules)

[Daily log: walking 7 km; running 1 km]

Caveat: 빈정상했어

At work yesterday, the front-desk person was handing out some student-placement spreadsheet printouts and she skipped me. This always annoys me,  because I have a genuine interest in what’s happening to the students.
I think they leave me out because they assume I’m not interested, since I don’t often don’t join in the discussions they have over these printouts (given that they are in Korean and/or they often seem to take place at times when I’m off teaching a class – my schedule is thicker in the afternoons whereas many of the teachers have a thin afternoon schedule and a thicker evening schedule, and so meetings are often in the afternoons).
So this time, I said something like, “why are you forgetting me, can I have one too?” and she happily complied.
But then Curt remarked, muttering, “빈정상했어” [bin-jeong-sang-haess-eo]. And of course I had no idea what this meant. And I wanted to know.
It therefore became a long, drawn-out discussion over what, exactly, this phrase means. The verb (빈정상하다 [binjeongsanghada] / alternate form 빈정사다 [binjeongsada]) doesn’t appear any online Korean-English dictionaries we consulted. Google translate doesn’t even try.
After some back-and-forth, we decided it meant something roughly like “peeve” as in, “he’s/you’re peeved” (the subject is left out in Korean and so you can fill in whatever verb subject fits the situation). But I wasn’t really satisfied with this.
The Korean-Korean dictionaries online don’t have the verb (or the pre-derived verb-noun 빈정상) either. For the near-match 비정상,  they offer definitions as follows. The definitions are hard enough to understand – my “translations” of the definitions are tentative at best.

1.) 어떤 것이 바뀌어 달라지거나 탈이 생겨 나타나는 제대로가 아닌 상태. “The condition of [something] not being as one desires [such] that some kind of trouble or revised change appears.”
2.) 바르거나 떳떳하지 못한 상태. “The condition of being unable to be honorable or upright.”

These definitions utterly fail to match Curt’s off-the-cuff definition and don’t match my intuition of verb’s actual meaning. They don’t make any sense at all, in my opinion. So that’s not it. Just a lexical wild-goose-chase.

ImagesLooking at the verb in parts (which isn’t always a smart or correct thing to do with Korean verbs, as my Korean tutor is constantly insisting), I see the first part is 빈정, which appears bound in other verbs like 빈정거리다, which means “to make a sarcastic remark.” And the second part is 상하다, which includes a definition “to be hurt, to be offended, to be troubled with.” This latter is promising – it seems to match Curt’s definition much better. If you add in a shading of sarcasm, it actually seems to capture my actual expression and manner pretty well.
So I’m going to offer a tentative English definition of the phrase “빈정상했어” as “he’s/you’re sarcastically peeved” … but in slangy pragmatics (and dating myself  to the 1980s) as “don’t have a cow, man.”
What I’m listening to right now.

Linkin Park, “Pushing Me Away.”

Caveat: Drawing Things

Some of my elementary students were drawing things during some extra time because we were taking a placement test related to the change in curriculum next month. I drew some alligators for a girl named Yumin, and she added her own other things to my alligators.

Draw 001

Another student drew something idyllic and Korean-themed.

Draw 003

Another was inspired to create his own alligator, which I liked a lot.

Draw 004

It was a long day at work, despite a light teaching load. I stayed at work and organized stuff so that when we move (in July), I'll be ready.

[Daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: The Future Behind Us

When talking about the future, I gesture to my front. When talking about the past, I gesture to my back. Over the last several years of teaching English in Korea, I've become aware that this may not be a human universal, but rather, something dependant on my Western cultural background.

I don't really know what the "rule" is, in Korea, about whether the future is in front of you or behind you, but I've gradually come to suspect it might not be exactly as in Western culture. Recently, I ran across something that hints at the possibility of difference – not with respect to Korean culture specifically, but with respect to language and/or cultural universals. A quote (hat tip to Sullyblog):

Patterns in spatio-temporal metaphors have also revealed striking reversals of the direction of time. For example, in languages like English and Spanish spatial metaphors put the past behind the observer (e.g., the worst is already behind us) and the future in front (e.g., the best is still ahead of us). In Aymara [a Peruvian native American language], this pattern is reversed and future is said to be behind the observer while the past is in front. This pattern in metaphors is reflected in patterns in spontaneous co-speech gesture. When talking about the past, the Aymara gesture in front of them, and when talking about the future, they gesture behind them, a striking reversal from patterns observed with speakers of English or Spanish.

I'm going to have to watch Koreans closely for those "spontaneous co-speech gestures." I have some suspicion (which may be false) that I might find a different conceptualization of time, which has been hinted at by the difficulties I've occasionally had with using gesture to convey the meanings of past and future (which, in an EFL classroom, come up in a discussion of verb tenses, among other things). More on time spatial metaphors here.

Caveat: Lumpenconsumerist

Karlmarxcard_customThere is apparently a Karl Marx themed Mastercard credit card issued by a bank in eastern Germany. Far out.

I saw it at the Marginal Revolution blog.

As one commenter points out: "For the materialist in you."

It's fun to think of all kinds of wacky advertising tag-lines. The best I've come up with in the last 5 minutes is: "Sometimes changing the means of production takes a litte extra. Let us help."

[Daily log: walking 2 km; running, 2 km]

Caveat: Rocket Man

How could I have gone so far in life without knowing about this?

What I'm listening to right now.

Rr_html_74fceedcWilliam Shatner, "Rocket Man." A "sci-fi," sardonic interpretation of Bernie Taupin and Elton John's classic. I almost like it better. The lyrics:

She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man

Caveat: The Comic Sans Nation

How can you hate a font? I've often been puzzled by the Comic Sans haters out there in the world. And finally, some guy has produced a professional and truly entertaining, if tongue-in-cheek rebuttal.

On a slightly more serious note, I use Comic Sans occasionally, on this blog, but in my teaching work, I use it quite a bit when making hand-outs for my lower-grade, lower-ability students. Why? Because there have been actual studies that show that Comic Sans (and related simple, "handwriting style" fonts) is easier for people unfamiliar with the Latin alphabet to read.

As an example, consider the shape of the letter "g" in a more "sophisicated" font:

I've had lower-level students point to a printed "g" of this style in their school books and ask me literally, "what's that?" Compare it to what they're taught to write:

Think about it. And stop the Comic Sans hating, people.

Today was a truly useless day, by the way. I didn't do any of the things I'd intended to do. My procrastination is on maximum.

[Daily log: hah]


Caveat: Damn Expensive Cigarettes

When I was in my early 20s, I smoked cigarettes. I was defnitely addicted, but I managed to kick the habit without that much difficulty. I started again when I was in the Army, but it was always a kind of boredom-while-working type thing, there, doing what everyone does during the breaks. It never really got to be a habit during that time.

Mostly I don't think about smoking, except that I'm glad that I stopped. But sometimes I get cravings. And this morning, when I woke up, I awoke from a dream about smoking cigarettes that was weirdly compelling. In the dream, I'd gotten really angry because I'd gone to buy cigarettes and I had been charged an outrageous amount of money – there was vivid moment of handing over one of those gold-colored Korean ₩50,000 (about 50 bucks) and getting small change back. So I was smoking my cigarettes, in the dream, one after the other, as if to say, "damn, I'd better enjoy these, they were so expensive."

I like when I have strange dreams – I've been having a lot of them lately. My sleep patterns are messed up, too. That part, I don't like so much.

Caveat: Hellbridge Redux?

So it's official, now – the letters went out to parents today, so they can't really go changing  their minds, at this point. My current place of employment, Karma Academy, is merging with Woongjin Plus, which just happens to be the company that took over and eventually renamed my former employer, LBridge, affectionately known as "hellbridge" to some of its workers. Overall, there were a lot of things I liked about LBridge, so I don't see this as necessarily apocalyptic – and one of the things I liked least about LBridge was the management, which will have changed twice over by the time I'm back there again next month. My current boss, Curt, will be in charge. I wonder though, at how this will work out. There are a lot of "I wonders" now.

I'm going to keep an open mind. Given the current market conditions, mergers are one of the few ways a hagwon can grow. So I understand the business rationale. But why this specific marriage? – two hagwon could hardly be more mis-matched, from a business culture standpoint. That's actually the point, as a conversation with my boss last night underscored. Perhaps both can grow and improve through cross-fertilization.

The title to this blog post is rather alarmist. But I'm not really expecting a return to the dark days of 2008. And as I said, there were a lot of things I really liked about LBridge – especially the rigid curriculum. Karma could use some structure, in that area. I had a moment of schadenfreude during a "training presentation" yesterday, when a powerpoint slide on a means of evaluating student writing was flashed on the screen that bore clear markings of being the descendant of the speech and writing scoring schema I developed while at LBrdige and had happily turned over to the curriculum designer (who's long-gone, now, but the earmarks of her work are everywhere). That weird feeling that you've left actual traces of your work at an organization that you've long left behind, but now, returning, there it is. "I made that," I wanted to say. I refrained.

[Daily log: walking, 4 km]

Caveat: Cause For Optimism

"the trash-strewn lots of Detroit and the subway tunnels of New York support far more biodiversity than the sterile, “sustainably planted” forests that cover most of the continental U.S." – Christopher Mims, in an article at a site called Motherboard.

This seems depressing and darkly pessimistic, but frankly, I find in it cause for optimism. Why? Because that means nature is actually pretty good at building biodiversity "under duress." The world is not ending – merely changing. And evolution is all about adaptation. Things will go on.

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