Caveat: Time Flew

5 years ago this morning, I [broken link! FIXME] arrived in Ilsan, South Korea, to start my English teaching job. I never would have imagined I'd be living in Ilsan 5 years later. But here I am.

I've been having a lot of ambivalent thoughts, lately, about my continuing stay here – mostly induced by circumstances and awarenesses raised by my recent quick visit back to the US. It is undeniable, though, that I've stumbled upon a lifestyle that mostly "works" for me – as strange as that might seem to others.

Here's a photo I posted 5 years ago that I took of Ilsan's Jungangno (Central Avenue, which I called Broadway for about year until I figured out its name), about a block from my old apartment (and about a kilometer from my current one).


Last night we went out to dinner after work – all the coworkers and I. It was goodbye for a couple of departing teachers. People come, people go. I was laughing with Curt yesterday over how many different employers I've had since coming to Korea (6), yet mostly working with the same group of people in the same neighborhood (except for the oddball one-year-long fling down in the rural south, at the public school at Hongnong).

Caveat: Improbable Possibilities

There's an artist named Ward Shelley, who does this interesting thing where he makes hand-made "timelines" and data visualizations – the kind found in history books, but sometimes on strange or unusual or unexpected topics. I really like his stuff. Here's a timeline of the history of science fiction:


He calls these things "diagrammatic paintings." Also, here's an interesting quote,

The relationship of science fiction to belief is ambiguous but in some
way essential. Science fiction deals with improbable possibilities. It
has that in common with religion and patriotism, except SF is much more
candid about it.

Caveat: Just Walking Around

Just Walking Around

What name do I have for you?
Certainly there is not name for you
In the sense that the stars have names
That somehow fit them. Just walking around,

An object of curiosity to some,
But you are too preoccupied
By the secret smudge in the back of your soul
To say much and wander around,

Smiling to yourself and others.
It gets to be kind of lonely
But at the same time off-putting.
Counterproductive, as you realize once again

That the longest way is the most efficient way,
The one that looped among islands, and
You always seemed to be traveling in a circle.
And now that the end is near

The segments of the trip swing open like an orange.
There is light in there and mystery and food.
Come see it.
Come not for me but it.
But if I am still there, grant that we may see each other.

– John Ashbery

Caveat: 아니, 맛없다

The middle-schoolers were taking a test today. They are mostly multiple-choice tests. Students have various strategies for coming up with random numbers when they don’t know the answer – i.e., how to choose a), b), c) or d). My favorite is using their pen as a sort of die – throwing it down on the desk surface and letting how it points determine which letter answer to choose.
But another method is to use the Korean version of eeney-meeney-miney-moe, which goes as follows, in it’s most complete version (the kids mostly seem to use various abbreviations of this):

코카코라 맛있다
맛있으면 또 먹아
또 먹으면 배탈나
척척박사님 알아

The content of the rhyme is something to do with the deliciousness of Coca-Cola, drinking it, and getting indigestion. How did the Coke Corp manage this bit of viral advertising? Is it beneficial to them? Who knows…
Referencing this rhyme is a short-hand way to reference the fact that students are overwhelmed by the test and thusly using random-number-generation to fill in the answers.
One of my students was saying, “Oh, Teacher! I can’t.”
I said, “코카코라 맛있다” (i.e. the first line of the rhyme: ko-ka-kol-la mas-siss-ta = Coca-Cola has great taste).
Quick as can be, the student came back: “아니, 맛없다” (a-ni, mas-eops-da = No, [it] doesn’t have great taste).

Caveat: Not Swedish

I recently saw an article on The Atlantic that explained that the muppet known as the Swedish Chef does not, in fact, speak Swedish. Well, of course not. But that hasn't stopped some Swedish guy from "transcribing" his talk. Sample:

I like it mostly for the linguistic aspect. But he's kind of funny, too – especially the turtle.


Caveat: Always Departing

Today at work I learned that one of my favorite students (and one of my most long-term students, having had this student in class a few times even when I was working at LBridge in 2008~2009) is departing Karma. I've seen this person "grow up" and it's always amazing and remarkable to see.

At one level, I completely accept it – there's constant churn and turnover in this business, as parents all struggle with their own highly individualized decisions about that's best for their children, what they can afford, whether they feel they're getting their money's worth. And I was impressed with hearing that in this particular case, it wasn't just a parental whim but something that apparently resulted from a fairly long dialogue between the parent and the child. That's pretty rare in Korean families, still.

But at another level I'm wounded, as always when a well-liked student departs. I wonder if there was something I could have or should have done differently to help the student better. And it's in moments like this that I feel the resentment for the unbridled capitalist nature of this market and job, that seems to grant so many choices and so little of anything else of value.

The news left me moody, and then there was an ad hoc half-hour-long staff meeting after classes ended, as we try to solve scheduling conflicts that are resulting from departing teachers (yes, that too). The meeting transitioned me from moody to pissed off, as I struggled to understand, made an effort to contribute only to reveal my failure to understand, and ended frustrated beyond belief at why it is I subject myself to this bizarre existence. Why don't I get my butt in gear and learn this language?! Why. I'm trying. But it's just not easy.

Caveat: Details

During yesterday's staff meeting, I listened carefully. Really, I should take my dictionary to the meeting – as it was, I didn't take very useful notes. In fact, here are the notes I took during the meeting. All of them.

Various 005

The agenda for the meeting looked like this.

Agenda 002

You can see why I have no idea what's going on. Although I can generally make out the topic-headers and try to pick out things I might need to ask about later, as pertaining specifically to me.

Really, this weekly experience builds my empathy for my students, who sit stone-faced and politely incomprehending, as I prattle on in class.

Curt likes to put little sayings and aphorisms on his meeting agendas. The one on this one says,

내가 원하는 사람이 되기 위해서는…

당신이 되고 싶은 사람이 되기 위해서는
하고 싶지 않은 일을 해야 하고,
듣고 싶지 않은 말을 해야 하고,
만나고 싶지 않은 사람을 만나야 한다.
워치 않은 일을 하지 않고
진정 원하는 일을 하는 사람은 없다.
우리는 누구나 당장 하고 싶지 않은 일,
어려운 일보다는
편하고 쉬운 것은 찾게 됩니다.
그러나 당장 하고 싶은 일,
편한 일부터 찾아하는 사람은
자기가 되고 싶었던 원래 모습과
가장 멀리 있는 자기 모습을
발견하게 욀 가능성이 그만큼 높아집니다.
– 조정민, '사람이 선물이다'에서

I may have made some typos in transcribing it. I wanted to try to translate it, but I haven't, yet. Maybe sometime. I tried googling a translation (as opposed to googletranslating, which is utterly bad) and failed – so if you want a translation effort, you can plug it into googletranslate but don't trust the result.  The author, 조정민 [jo-jeong-min = maybe Cho, Jungmin] wasn't even particularly googlable – I think (but I'm not sure) he's a preacher or pastor. I can't sort out the search results on Korean websites very well.


Caveat: Typhoon Holiday

I went to work today, and because of the typhoon, classes were canceled. We still had a long staff meeting, and everyone had some stuff to work on – I worked on my debate class materials for a while: since I have no textbook, I have to put my own materials together.

Sitting in staff meetings is quite stressful for me – perhaps the most stressful aspect of my job. They are conducted in Korean. I can only understand the broadest aspects of the content.  I compare it to taking a listening test that is too far above my ability level.

I got out of work early and walked home in the wind. I still think this typhoon is pretty wimpy, although there was plenty of leaves and branches being blown around.

Caveat: Wheee


According to the locals, this is a big deal. Some schools are closed in Ilsan. But… no notice that Karma is going to be closed today. And looking out my window, so far, it seems kind of wimpy for a typhoon. I'll get back to you.

I guess I'll make like a Republican-in-Tampa, and adopt a more somber-but-still-upbeat tone.

The sky is full of fast-scudding clouds and luminous orange gray at 7 am. I'll give it that. It's a lot worse down south where I used to live in Jeolla-nam. I've
heard about downed powerlines, etc. But here, I've seen worse on an
entirely nondescript, average January afternoon in my hometown of Arcata.

Caveat: what’s wrong with this article?

In class earlier, I had a student giving her considered opinion on a rather difficult article we'd read.

"It's not good," she said.

"What's wrong with it?" I asked. "There's something wrong with this article," I agreed, elaborating. In fact, the article was a rather exaggerated rant that I'd adapted from a US newspaper website editorial about the horrors of government regulation. I expected the students to eventually figure this out, and express it somehow. "What do you think is wrong with this article?" I probed.

"I think… " she began, thoughtfully. "In my opinion… after thinking about this a lot," she continued. I was expecting her to nail the problem in the article at this point – she seemed to be on to something, anyway. But then, she concluded, "It's too long."


Caveat: cosecha de renuncias


minuto perdido
tu sentido entero.

nube olvidada
tu hermosa tristeza sin arraigo.

Vida mía única
tu imposible verdad.

mi soledad
tu repleta cosecha de renuncias.

muerte mía
tu relámpago de abrasado total.

Y tu -electrón terrible,
y tu -velocidad de la luz,
y tu -vértigo de distancias,
y tu -infinitud de guarismos
:y tu -secreto goce germinal de las pequeñas larvas que bucean hacia el sol,
y tu -lindo caballito de cartón de mis sueños de niño destripador,
dadme en seguro trance
vuestro centro inexorable
de palpitar dulcísimo;
entregadme en éxtasis deslumbrado
el devenir ciego de tanta primavera tronchada.
A ver si así
solo y con todo
compongo de mi sed indecible
el tremendo suceder de la Totalidad.

- Miguel Labordeta, de "Punto y aparte" (pag. 86) Editorial Ciencia nueva 1967

Tal vez ligeramente relacionado, por la temática ateísta.


CaveatDumpTruck Logo

Caveat: Controlling Yourself

I have a very smart 8th grade student who has shown a strong ability to muster well-argued libertarian positions. She obviously does a lot of reading and research online – but I really think she understands the ideas she puts together, and she argues them well. We recently had a debate on the merits of regulating junk food (e.g. New York's recent soda-size law or San Francisco's ban on Happy Meals).

Caveat: Memorializing the Time Travelers of London

Timetravel2_html_48339f83I ran across the image at left of what looks like a memorial plaque somewhere in London. It's funny. I also found this funny cartoon, below.


These things are unrelated, except as being basically nerd-humor. I guess today, I'm nerdier than usual.

I'm predicting a very lazy Sunday for myself.

What I'm listening to right now.

Cephalgy, "Du bist das Licht." Why do I listen to German goth-rock? I can't answer that.

Caveat: 영영

What I’m listening to right now.

나훈아, “영영.” [yeongyeong = forever].
[UPDATE 2020-03-22: link rot repair]

잊으라 했는데 잊어달라 했는데
그런데도 아직 난 너를 잊지 못하네
어떻게 잊을까 어찌하면 좋을까
세월가도 이직 난 너를 잊지 못하네
아직 나는 너를 사랑하고있나봐
아마 나는 너를 잊을수가 없나봐
영원히 영원히 네가 사는 날까지
아니내가 죽어도 영영 못잊을꺼야

잊으라 했는데 잊어 달라 했는데
그런데도 이직난 너를 잊지못하네

아니 내가 죽어도 영영 못잊을꺼야
아니 내가 죽어도 영영 못잊을꺼야


Caveat: Horrible Sanity

ImagesI will share some random quotes accumulating in the quote-queue.

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." – Edgar Allan Poe.

"Write drunk; edit sober." – Ernest Hemingway.

Caveat: make book

ImagesThe following essay by 4th grader Han-saem seemed exceptionally charming.  I reproduce it with spelling and grammatical errors uncorrected.

today, I made book.  because it's Homework over the vacation. I
have paper, glue, colored pencil, and scissors. 
I'm cut into strips paper by scissor and painted with colored pencil on
the upside. Finally, I'm cheak but … oh my god!!! this is strange because it
is a dream ㅠㅠ

This is a child to whom I can most definitely relate – dreaming of making books.


Caveat: Bob Knob’s Daddy-O

Someone attempted to comment on a [broken link! FIXME] recent blog entry of mine – the one about PSY’s “Gangnam Style” song. The commenter was what I would I consider a troll – mostly by virtue of the fact that he (or she, but I suspect he, since he called himself Bob Knob – a very troll-like name, too) declined to provide a means for contacting him (i.e. the email address provided was invalid).
Because of the troll-like nature of the comment, I didn’t approve it. Yet I feel compelled to address his criticism, which struck me as nevertheless having some validity. Here is what Bob Knob wrote:

Ehhh… 오빠 (oppa) is what young Korean girls call guys that are slightly
older, in particular their boyfriends. The literal translation is “big
brother” (but guys don’t use it to refer to their older brothers), so
“Daddy-O” isn’t all that accurate.

First and foremost: duh. I know what 오빠 [oppa] means. I suspect that Bob Knob doesn’t know what ‘Daddy-O’ means. ‘Oppa’ literally means older brother, but it’s used to address older men affectionately and also to address boyfriends. Daddy-O is not really current American slang, but in the 1960s it meant someone in authority but who was being addressed informally, and it also was used by some “hip” women to refer to their boyfriends. I seem to remember seeing it a lot as a form address between prostitutes and clients (and or pimps) during a particular epoch, too.
The term ‘Daddy-O’ thus means “informal flirtatious term of address directed by a woman toward a man, with vaguely incestuous connotations.” Which is exactly how I would define ‘oppa.’
In that way, by translating ‘oppa’ as ‘daddy-o’ I try to capture that same semantic field (since in Anglophone culture there is nothing that resembles calling a boyfriend “brother”); but also, because the term ‘oppa’ is clearly being used somewhat ironically (same as the ‘manly man’) in the song in reference to the middle aged man singing it, I figured using an out-of-date slang term like daddy-o would serve that purpose well.
I was tempted to use the term ‘papi’ which is used in hispanic culture to address older men and espeically boyfriends – ‘oppa’ works similarly in Korean culture.
Well, anyway. I doubt the troll named Bob Knob will read this, but I felt compelled to respond with this cultural/linguistic observation. I should also note that this same “Gangnam Style” video has gone sufficiently viral in the US that there’s an extensive write-up about it at one of my favorite US news websites, The Atlantic. Max Fisher, the article’s author, himself pointed to an extensive write up by Jea Kim at her blog My Dear Korea (a blog which looks interesting enough in general to be someplace I may return to regularly). She further returns with a comment on Fisher’s article, in which she takes issue with just how revolutionary the video’s satire is – and in that, I’m inclined to agree with her – to see the video as revolutionary in a Korean context is to be rather myopic vis-a-vis Korean cultural history.
I’ll conclude with this fascinating bit of Americana. Watch it through to the end for some original Daddy-Os.

Caveat: August 23rd

A spell of slightly cooler weather compelled me  to throw open my windows last night and sleep with the windows open. I slept much better, as I always do, when I do that.

My motivational deficit persists – I'm not doing any of the various projects I set for myself upon my return from the US, although I'm keeping up with work, if only just barely.

I guess this is a pretty pointless blog entry. I'm feeling very discouraged by life, lately.

Caveat: 22 2e E2 Ee

The mathematical phrase '22, 2e, E2, Ee' forms a sort of tongue-twister in the Korean language, because the English letter 'e' (used in e.g. natural log functions, etc.) and the number/digit '2' are pronounced the same way: /i/ (IPA).

So the phrase as a whole would be read '이의이승, 이의이승, 이의이승, 이의이승,' [i-ui-i-seung, i-ui-i-seung, i-ui-i-seung, i-ui-i-seung = two to the second power, two to the e power, E to the second power, E to the e power]. But there are added complications, too.  First, the genitive '의' [ui] is normally reduced to '이' [i] in rapid speech. The second problem has to do with the evolution of modern standarrd Korean versus regional dialect: middle Korean (i.e. around 1400 AD) was a tonal language, while modern Seoul dialect is devoid of tones. But some regional dialects retain the tones, and in those dialects, the number '2' and the English letter 'e' are assigned different tones. This makes the phrase less of a nightmare of pure homophones, but it ends up sounding quite odd and singsongy, and is difficult to sort out, if you try to get the tones right – not to mention sounding like a country bumpkin.

The real miracle of all this is that one of my students explained this to me. Pretty well, too.

Unrelatedly, this very smart student said to me today: "Teacher! I am very, very, very, very, very humble."

I laughed, and suggested she was maybe unclear on the concept of humility.

Caveat: Aargh’s New Career

Oh this looks truly entertaining.

Aargh_html_7a14a7b6The blurb from the video:

Aargh. Once a successful actor and a true shooting star in Japan. Today he is beginning his new job at the Berlin zoo. What has happened? He is accompanied by the film crew on his first day of work at the Zoo where he is faced with new colleagues and challenges on the one hand and fighting prejudice and overcoming obstacles on the other.

Caveat: 일월오봉도 (日月五峰圖)

In the Korean art history book I’ve been reading (in English), I ran across the following painting. I don’t think I knew about this – it’s not just a painting, but a many-times-repeated symbol: it’s the image that goes behind the Joseon throne, and thus symbolizes the Joseon kings. Joseon was the dynasty of kings that ruled Korea for 600 years, ending in 1910 with the Japanese annexation.
Anyway, I did an image search for it and found many, many versions. But here’s the one that I saw in my book, that I liked enough to try to find.
It’s almost VanGoghish. It’s called: Sun, Moon and Five Peaks (일월오봉도 (日月五峰圖)). It’s overladen with symbolism.

Caveat: 포켓몬

picturePokemon cards are harder to find than I thought they would be. One thing I discovered when I was visiting with my nephews in Arizona two weeks ago was that they were utterly absorbed, both of them, by Pokemon. They keep these organized little binders of cards (their mother’s influence), and it turns out the thing they would most like “from Korea” is Korean Pokemon cards (meaning the character’s names and stats are in Hangeul – the characters themselves are still the same Japanese ones, presumeably.
I found some finally yesterday (slightly out-of-focus picture at right). I’m not sure they’re specifically what was requested (they had a particular character in mind), but they are definitely Pokemon.
Also, I got my giant box of books that I mailed to myself. So it was a productive morning.

Caveat: The Witch Must Be Killed

"Facebook isn't Google; it's Yahoo or AOL." – Michael Wolff, at MIT's Technology Review.

I find this observation to be almost obvious. The similarities with AOL's "walled garden" of the 1990's is especially notable, although in that case, at least AOL had a revenue stream in subscribers that facebook doesn't have. And that being the case, facebook isn't tne next step forward in the internet's technological revolution, but, in fact, a small step backward, which is probably temporary. The real revolution will come when the "social network" that facebook has universalized is successfully propelled out of that "walled garden" and into the wider internet. Google as tried with google+ (and failed, so far, in my opinion). Apple or Microsoft may give it a try, or facebook itself may pull it off somehow. But whoever does that will destroy facebook's already shaky business model, and new revenue streams will have to be found fast, or the empire will collapse like a house of cards.

What I'm listening to right now.

Black Boned Angel, "The Witch Must Be Killed." This is a "drone metal" group from New Zealand. My tastes are so weird.

Caveat: Quick to Hope

I know people probably don't wan't to hear my thoughts on politics. But I'm feeling discouraged. Reading blogs like Stop Me Before I Vote Again doesn't help. Here's a writer named Al  Schumann (who sometimes gets on my nerves), capturing some of my thoughts with his extreme sarcasm:

The "nice" brand of advocacy has to take the form of pleas to participate in deranged comparison shopping. This is not just any lemon, ladies and gentlemen, this is a genuine proletarian lemon, certified by veterans of Students for a Democratic Society. It's far superior to the bourgeois wingnut lemon. It enhances your unique sense of self. The neighbors will feel like fools when you drive off the cliff in style.

Does it matter how you look when you drive off a cliff?!

Is it that bad? Am I just in a bad mood? I like the phrase "deranged comparison shopping." Now that's US politics.

Here's a meme-picture I ran across. Perhaps it resonates because I was one of those guilty of feeling hope – despite my evident lack of youth.


"On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."

"I did," said Ford. "It is."

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in."

– Douglas Adams, in So Long, And Thanks For All the Fish

Caveat: Egotistical Hogwash

I thought I was over my jetlag, but I awoke this morning at 5 am, wide awake – yesterday, I'd slept an entirely normal night. It's always weird how the jetlag sleep patterns resemble neither the origin nor the destination. I was dreaming that I was lost in a forest. Not particularly scary, but devoid of reason. Just… drifting. I felt like a ghost, almost.

Sometimes I'm a ghost. It's a good metaphor for me – it emphasizes those feelings of alienation and powerlessness that haunt me. My visit with my relatives back in the states gave me too much to worry about; too much to cogitate on. I want to just forget it, and drift away. This Ilsan bubble is safe. Comfortable.

OK. That's all egotistical hogwash. Sorry.

Caveat: Balloon Debate

Today in my debate class we were doing an activity called the Balloon Debate. I had the students each choose a list of 7 famous people to ride in our fictive hot air balloon. Then we had to discuss who gets thrown out. There were some humorous suggestions. In one case, Einstein was a passenger in the balloon, and he was thrown out. The student said: "He's a scientist. I don't like science."

In another case, Jisung Park (a famous Korean soccer player) was thrown out. The student responsible said, "He's healthy. He might survive." That's optimistic thinking.

Anyway, it makes for a great conversation class activity. I was very impressed with how the students got into it.

Caveat: It’s just a dying fiction

The sky dawned grey and overcast. I feel a sort of impending stress, about some things due for work. But I did a little bit of meditation when I woke up, and I feel better now. And I just heard the most awesome song, that came trundling along on my mp3 shuffle. It's from 1973! Can you even believe it? It sounds so contemporary.

What I'm listening to right now.

Brian Eno, "Dead Finks Don't Talk." The video is a recent attachment to the song, though, I think.

The lyrics (oh,  I love these lyrics!):

Oh cheeky, cheeky
Oh naughty sneaky
You're so perceptive
And I wonder how you knew

But these finks don't walk too well
A bad sense of direction
And so they stumble 'round in three's
Such a strange collection

Oh you headless chicken
Can those poor teeth take so much kicking?
You're always so charming
As you peck your way up there

And these finks don't dress too well
No discrimination
To be a zombie all the time
Requires such dedication

Oh please sir, will you let it go by
'Cause I failed both tests with my legs both tied
In my place the stuff is all there
I've been ever so sad for a very long time

My, my they wanted the works, can you this and that?
I never got a letter back
More fool me, bless my soul
More fool me, bless my soul
More fool me, bless my soul

Oh perfect masters
They thrive on disasters
They all look so harmless
Till they find their way up there

But dead finks don't talk too well
They've got a shaky sense of diction
It's not so much a living hell
It's just a dying fiction


Caveat: Suffering That is Familiar

"People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar." – Thich Nhat Hanh

This seems to me to be a definition for depression. I just found it interesting – not sure that I mean to go anywhere with is.

Work has been sucking up my energy, once again. Getting back into the routine is hard, and I'm feeling some post-travel existential restlessness that saps my motivation.

Caveat: Right Turn Clyde

What I'm listening to right now.

Bloodhound Gang, "Right Turn Clyde." This song is definitely NSFW. So don't listen if you think you're easily offended. Please. Despite that, there was a period in my life, about 10 years ago, when Bloodhound Gang, laced as their songs are with obscenities to the point of very poor taste, was major soundtrack in my life. Listening to the song as it came around on my shuffle, I smelled honeysuckle and asphalt – the taste of the Los Angeles air. Odd that it should come around and bring up those memories just so soon after having been there.

The video… I have no clue what it has to do with the song. Seems random.

Caveat: tl;dr

As-tl-drtl;dr is a txt-speak abbreviation that means: "too long; didn't read." It's what you write in response to a facebook post or blog post or email that wasn't worth your time to consume.

During my recent visit in the US, I had a conversation with a person very close to me whom I shall not name, who essentially said this was why my blog was pointless and useless as a means of keeping those close to me up-to-date about what was going on in my life. My posts are either utterly impersonal, or they end up in the "tl;dr" category.

I suppose so. To be utterly frank, I didn't really have a great visit back to the US, this time around. There were highlights, seeing people I care about. But … I got a lot of what I can only say is dismissive or frustrated feedback over my choice to transform what was intended to be an "adventure" into a lifestyle choice. Sigh.

Am I making a mistake, staying in Korea? If I were a good Confucian (which is not, by the way, my ambition – I'm just saying), I would return to the US, to be closer and more accessible to my family, so that I could "do right" by them. Instead, I camp out half-a-planet away, doing my own thing. Yes, it's personally fulfilling. Yes, it's what I want to do. But under a good Confucian, filial-duty ethic, it's wrong.

Wow, that got deep fast. Ooops. I just meant to write about the tl;dr thing. And maybe I did: you can now respond, dear reader, with a succinct tl;dr. kthx bye.

Caveat: A Banal Declaration of Lesser Banality

When I was visiting Whitewater, Wisconsin, two weeks ago, my bestfriend Bob made a suggestion which I have decided to take up: he said that my blog needed a "best of" category – something to for me to flag the more meaningful or better entries to stand out from the rest. I have sometimes used the "Life is a Dream" category in this way in the past, but that category was really meant to be for my dream journaling, such as it occurs.

Some categories definitely have pretty reliably higher-quality content. I would specifically call attention to what I've labeled "Kids & Cutenesses" and, of course, "My Poetry & Fiction." But these, too, may not have very consistently better writing. It's just that it seems to have worked out that way.

So I have created a new category which I have tentatively called "Less Banal Than Usual" to use to flag my "best of" blog entries. Unlike my other categories, I will only apply this category in retrospect – where, upon review and reflection, I think a particular entry is a "keeper" as some people say. I'm not sure it will work out. It will require me actively curating older blog entries, especially at the start. If anyone has any suggestions for things I've written that should be added to the category, let me know.

In other news… I slept 11 hours last night. This is unheard of. I finally let the double jetlag of my whirlwind North American tour catch up to me, and combined with the rainy day-off yesterday, I just let myself crash and sleep. Normally I sleep about 7 hours, regardless of when, exactly, this occurs. I guess I was tired.

Unrelatedly, I ran across the following humorous quote on somebody's facebook: "If I had a dollar for every time I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream." This is very appropriate for me.

Caveat: 오빤 강남스타일

Do you got some Gangnam style? Oppa got Gangnam style. Gangnam is the wealthy and trendy high-density neighborhood south-of-the-river in Seoul. The name Gangnam just means “south of the river.” It’s a sort of Beverly Hills and Midtown Manhattan rolled together, with a dash of Hollywood.
What I’m listening to right now.


오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Gangnam style

낮에는 따사로운 인간적인 여자
[najeneun ttasarowoon inganjeokin yeoja]
The woman who is warm humane during day

커피 한잔의 여유를 아는 품격 있는 여자
[keopihanjanui yeoyureul ahneun poomgyeokitneun yeoja]
The elegant woman who knows enjoying a break of a cup of coffee

밤이 오면 심장이 뜨거워지는 여자
[bamiomyeon simjangi tteugeowoajineun yeoja]
The woman whose heart is getting hot when night comes

그런 반전 있는 여자
[geureon banjeon itneun yeoja]
That kind of woman in reverse

나는 사나이
[naneun sanai]
I am a manly man

낮에는 너만큼 따사로운 그런 사나이
[najeneun neomankeum ttasarowoon geureon sanai]
The manly man who is as warm as you during day

커피 식기도 전에 원샷 때리는 사나이
[keopisikkido jeonae “oneshot” ttaerineun sanai]
The manly man who drinks coffee bottoms up before it becomes cool

밤이 오면 심장이 터져버리는 사나이
[bami-omyeon simjangi teojeobeorineun sanai]
The manly man whose heart thumps out when night comes

그런 사나이
[geureon sanai]
That kind of manly man

아름다워 사랑스러워
[ahreumdawoa sarangseureowoa]
So beautiful and lovely

그래 너 hey 그래 바로 너 hey
[geuraeneo “hey” geuraebaro neo “hey”]
That’s right, you, hey, that’s right, you, hey

아름다워 사랑스러워
[ahreumdawoa sarangseureowoa]
So beautiful and lovely

그래 너 hey 그래 바로 너 hey
[geuraeneo “hey” geuraebaro neo “hey”]
That’s right, you, hey, that’s right, you, hey

지금부터 갈 데까지 가볼까
[jigeumbooteo galttekkaji gabolkka]
Would you go all the way with me?

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Gangnam style

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Gangnam style

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady


정숙해 보이지만 놀 땐 노는 여자
[jeongsukhae boijiman nolttaen noneun yeoja]
The woman who looks virtuous but plays while she plays

이때다 싶으면 묶었던 머리 푸는 여자
[ittaeda sipeumyeon mukkeotdeon meori puneun yeoja]
The woman who lets down her hair if she thinks the time is now

가렸지만 웬만한 노출보다 야한 여자
[karyeotjiman wenmanan nochulboda yahan yeoja]
The more erotic woman even though she wraps her clothes up than a bare one

그런 감각적인 여자
[geureon gamgakjeokin yeoja]
That sensual woman

나는 사나이
[naneun sanai]
I am a manly man

점잖아 보이지만 놀 땐 노는 사나이
[jeomjana boijiman nolttaen noneun sanai]
The manly man who seems gentle but play while I play

때가 되면 완전 미쳐버리는 사나이
[ttaegadwemyeon wanjeon micheobeorineun sanai]
The manly man who freaks when the time is ripe

근육보다 사상이 울퉁불퉁한 사나이
[geunyukboda sasangi ultungbultonghan sanai]
The manly man whose idea is more uneven than muscle

그런 사나이
[geureon sanai]
That kind of manly man

아름다워 사랑스러워
[ahreumdawoa sarangseureowoa]
So beautiful and lovely

그래 너 hey 그래 바로 너 hey
[geuraeneo “hey” geuraebaro neo “hey”]
That’s right, you, hey, that’s right, you, hey

아름다워 사랑스러워
[ahreumdawoa sarangseureowoa]
So beautiful and lovely

그래 너 hey 그래 바로 너 hey
[geuraeneo “hey” geuraebaro neo “hey”]
That’s right, you, hey, that’s right, you, hey

지금부터 갈 데까지 가볼까
[jigeumbooteo galttaekkaji gabolkka]
Would you go all the way with me?

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Gangnam style

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Gangnam style

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady

오빤 강남스타일
[opaan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady


뛰는 놈 그 위에 나는 놈
[ttwineun nom geuwie naneun nom]
The jumping guy, the upcoming guy

Baby Baby

나는 뭘 좀 아는 놈
[naneun mweoljom ahneun nom]
I am the guy who knows a little something

뛰는 놈 그 위에 나는 놈
[ttwineun nom geuwie naneun nom]
The jumping guy, the upcoming guy

Baby Baby

나는 뭘 좀 아는 놈
[naneun mweoljom ahneun nom]
I am the guy who knows a little something

You know what I’m saying

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady

오빤 강남스타일
[oppan gangnam”style”]
Daddy-o Gangnam style

I found the lyrics floating around online, very badly translated and romanized. I have taken liberties with the translation – perhaps to the benefit of accuracy, perhaps not. In particular, I decided that 오빠 (oppa) should be “daddy-o” – it has a similar slang connotation, I think, unless I’ve misunderstood what it is. [Update: but see also my entire blog entry following up on this choice of translations]. Certainly it’s not “I’ve got” which is how the source tried to render it. And I made 사나이 into “manly man” – trying to reflect the parodical aspect – the source just had it as “guy.”
I’ve tried to make the romanization (in square brackets) more regular (following the SK standard, mostly). I probably missed some things, though.
The song is meant to be funny. The video certainly is – it’s over-the-top cultural parady, mostly. Don’t think the guy is really taking himself seriously – he’s not.

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