We had three Halloween parties – to cover the various shifts of children we teach. One yesterday and two today. It was all barely-managed chaos, but I think the kids had fun. I had fun. But it's a lot of work, too. We did various activites: memorizing Halloween-themed poems or songs, face (or hand) painting, costumes (for those kids that brought costumes), and my favorite, paper decorations. Then the kids would march down to one room where the Assistant Manager had set up as a witch giving out candy. They would knock, say "trick or treat" and would have to present something: their song or poem or painting or costume or craft. The paper crafts were attached to the wall. There are no pictures of me or the kids in action – because I was too busy to take pictures. I was kind of coordinating everything, and running from classroom to classroom making sure everyone had something to do.
We had a Halloween party at hagwon for the Tuesday/Thursday kids. Then we'll have one tomorrow for the Monday/Wednesday/Friday kids.
My costume is a sort of "Zorro lite" – with a fork. A fork, because I have a plastic pitchfork, instead of a plastic sword. I'm surprised at how many kids recognize that I'm trying to be Zorro – it's just a hat, mask, and black coat.
Normally I sleep for about 7 hours a night, if I don't set my alarm I'll just wake up after about 7 hours, regardless. After yesterday's disturbed and half-sleepless morning, however, I was very, very tired last night. I went to bed right at midnight. I had noticed a sign in the elevator ( picture at right, click to enbiggen) posted by my building's administration saying that that time of the year when the heat comes on has arrived. You can note that the sign explains that when the overnight temperatures are between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius, the heat is only on at night, but then once the overnights drop below zero, they'll leave it on all day. So when I got back to my apartment, given it was forcast to be around 5 C overnight, I turned on the heat in my apartment – partly, because I want to make sure it works for the season before it becomes a critical matter. But… I was feeling oddly cold, too. I assume it's some kind of cold or flu, starting up.
So my apartment became unpleasantly warm for sleeping, and at around 2 AM, after 2 hours of restless sleep, I woke up. I drank some water, turned the heat back off, opened a window, and went back to sleep. I hadn't turned on any alarm. And lo and behold, I awoke at 10:45 am – which means I basically slept for almost 11 hours. I haven't slept that late in ages.
It must be a cold coming on. Or stress. Speaking of stress, my blood pressure was down slightly upon return to the doctor yesterday morning – they said it was only "dangerous" rather than "unacceptable." So they certified my health for the Provincial Education Office, provisionally. I thought these health inspections were supposed to be about drugs, not other issues. But whatever. I guess it's true I've got to somehow get control of this: more exercise, better diet, less stress.
I like that I got all that extra sleep, but it kind of destroys my morning habits of leisurely consuming several cups of coffee and doing some reading or writing or something. It's like I wake up and rather than a 6 hour morning stretching out ahead of me, I have only a few hours to get things done and get to work. I've been going into work earlier than the mandatory 3 pm time almost every day, lately, and it's going to get worse. Staff changes at work mean that my class load is going to increase.
가랑비에 옷 젖는 줄 모른다 drizzle-IN clothing be-damp-PART line not-know-PRES [Like] not knowing [about] damp clothes on the line in a drizzle. “The little things add up over time.” That can be true about negative things or positive things, but clearly this is referring more to the negative. I wonder how closely it might correlate, alternately, with the straw that broke the camel’s back? I should ask someone.
Wow I slept badly last night. I'm stressing about something. Specifically, my allegedly too high blood pressure – the doctor wants me to go back. Of course, stressing about it is exactly the worst thing for it. Knowing this doesn't help.
I had an "off-line" day – I forced myself to not go on my computer until now. And I'm not sure I have figured out my new phone, either – so I had a non-technological day. I've been reading a biography of Park Chung-Hee, by Chong-Sik Lee, that my friend Peter loaned to me. It's really very interesting.
Somewhat discordantly…or at the least, unrelatedly:
What I'm listening to right now.
McGinty, "Farewell to Nova Scotia."
I only visited Nova Scotia once. I was 11 or 12 years old.
I read the most incredible short story, online, the other day. I’m not going to try to summarize it – it falls in the category of speculative fiction, and as sci-fi it’s deeply implausible. But it’s a conceit, or maybe an allegory. It’s awesome. I suggest reading it:
My students taught me a phrase: “이빵꾸똥꾸야!” They said it means you hate something – the thing you’re talking to – a kind of vocative “I hate you.”
But a little bit of looking around the internet adds some information. It’s “little-kid” talk, originated in a TV show from a few years ago. And roughly, its more literal meaning might be “you farty butt.”
Great thing to know how to say.
I drew some comic characters today.
What I’m listening to right now.
Icon of Coil, “Love As Blood (Implant Remix).” [UPDATE 2020-03-21: link rot repair]
I work Saturday mornings. It’s kind of hard to do, when I work afternoon/evenings the other 5 days of the week. But at least it means I get a day-and-a-half weekend. Today was a rainy day.
I left work and took a picture of the fall trees and the rain and the traffic. Hugok is the name of the neighborhood where KarmaPlus academy is located. I took the picture below standing on the corner in front of work, as I was leaving. The building in the center across the street was the first building I worked in in Hugok, in 2007 (Tomorrow School, which no longer exists).
Yesterday, we had our own presidential debate. The debate proposition was: “Barack Obama should be re-elected as president of the U.S.” They divided about evenly between Romney supporters and Obama supporters, after the dust settled (we’ve been working on this all month).
I gave my most advanced students (ISP7 cohort – all 8th graders) many lists of the “Top 10 reasons to vote for X” style, but they crafted and chose their reasons themselves.
I’m amazed at how my kids have handled this debate topic. It’s incredibly difficult, and hard for them to connect to or understand, too – they’re Korean 8th graders, after all: they don’t know or care that much about US politics. I actually expected a much lower level of interest and dedication to this topic than they have shown – I was doing it more as a prelude to the real fun: we’re going to be tackling the Korean presidential election, next, which votes in December.
I voted for Obama mostly as seeking for (hoping
for) a repudiation of George W. Bush. And so the reason I cannot vote
for Obama this time round is because Obama has utterly failed to
repudiate anything Bush did: Guantanamo still open, drone strikes are
more popular than ever, wars only wind down in defence-industry-friendly
ways, the Patriot Act persists, Bush's tax cuts persist, health care
reform (if it must be done) is in the pockets of the insurance industry
(seriously: let's compare Bush's oft-forgotten humongous new drug
entitlement with Obamacare and try to find philosophical differences),
etc., etc., ad infinitum.
There's some unpleasant irony in the fact that the Right (such as it is) accuses Obama of such things as socialism and betraying American values. To the former accusation, Obama is no more socialist than Bush – which is faux socialist, at best, though certainly more socialist (e.g. "big government") than anyone on the right wants to admit. To the latter accusation, well, I would have to say that GW Bush was he who most "betrayed American values" – Obama is merely continuing that trend. Here's an interesting thought: Colin Powell has endorsed Obama, again. Wasn't he, uh, GW Bush's Secretary of State during that most stunning of betrayals of American values, the Iraq invasion?
This blog post at the website-whose-name-I-hate sums it up most excellently.
It seems I will be voting "third party" this year – back to old ways, I
guess – though I'm a bit hesitant to wear my politics so prominently on my sleave, as posting on this blog inevitably means.
The same blog post points to a somewhat apocryphal quote from Karl Rove, that is utterly stunning in its scope:
an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while
you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act
again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s
how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of
you, will be left to just study what we do.
Obama will be remembered as only the second emperor of the new imperium that Julius Caesar – ahem, George W. Bush – founded.
Yesterday was a very long day. I got up and went with Curt to the hospital in the morning, for a stupid reason: I had done a health checkup / drug screening back in [broken link! FIXME]May, because it's required for the Provincial Office of Education for hagwon employees, but then Curt forgot (or procrastinated on) submitting the paperwork from it, such that it was "out of date" when he went to submit it. So… I had to do it again.
I'm still suffering from too high blood pressure. And I haven't managed to shed any pounds, either. I continue to be frustrated with my feeling that I should be managing these things better somehow. Probably, that frustration leads to stress which is the cause of the cortisol that's causing the problems in the first place. Sigh.
After the hospital, Curt and I had some juk (rice porridge) at a juk-joint in my neighborhood. We were eating, and Curt told me that he doesn't actually like juk. "Why did you get it?" I asked. "You got it," he explained. It was an odd moment. Like a moment in a novel, interpolated into a regular reality.
Later, I had a busy day at work. And I went with some coworkers to Costco with the idea of buying some Halloween-themed stuff for our hagwon Halloween party next week, only to find that Costco had exactly 1 (one) Halloween decoration in stock. It was dumb. We bought a lot of candy, but we'll have to find the Halloween stuff elsewhere, or improvise our own (which I would personally prefer but doing that does seem to be labor intensive).
Then we had a hoesik (business-dinner) for a departing coworker – nothing more exciting than watching a bunch of Koreans drinking too much. Well, that's cynical. I genuinely like and respect most of my coworkers – they're good people and well-meaning. And often very hard-working, too – more so than I am, in point of fact. But I always feel awkward in the alcohol-themed hoesik – especially since I've gone back to my teetotaller ways, lately. I did have one cup of beer – and it was enough to leave me feeling woozy and with a splitting headache in the morning – or maybe that was just staying up too late.
You definitely learn things about people in that kind of environment that you can't learn if you don't see them that way. Which is why I always go to hoesik, even though I feel awkward about it. It's anthropologically fascinating. That sounds so cold, doesn't it?
절약이 돈 버는 것 thrift-SUBJ money make[money]-PART thing Thrift is a money-making thing. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Well, yes, the whole frugality thing, right? I have good days and bad days, on that. Certainly, I try to live within my means, even as my “means” have been cut by about 75% over the last half decade. I made the decision, at some point, that money wasn’t the main thing in my life. But it still has to be dealt with – managed.
I slept very deeply, probably because of all the walking yesterday. I was surprised to hear thunder. It's rare in Korea – certainly I don't associate it with fall weather. It was raining hard – the swooshing sound of cars and buses on the busy streets echoed outside my window. My legs were sore. I made some coffee.
Ganghwa Island is a very historical place. It's a large island approximately straight west from Seoul and also straight west from Ilsan, but there's not really any direct route there from Ilsan. I took a zig-zaggy bus over there with my friend Peter, and we walked a 22 km route down the island from the bus terminal in the main town at the northern end all the way to a very historic temple complex called Jeondeungsa. It had a lot of tourists. We saw a lot of rice being harvested. We stopped at a hole-in-the-wall called "Mexican Pizza Chicken" and had some chicken (they didn't have pizza, oddly) that didn't seem very Mexican. But it wasn't bad. Random strangers handed us fruit and nuts. Some of this, we ate. It was a good day, but now I'm very tired. Here are many pictures, starting with a googlemap of the route, in context west of Goyang (Ilsan – where I live) and Bucheon (where Peter lives).
So, without a detailed travelogue – perhaps just a random comment here or there – here are some pictures, in chronological order.
A farm house with a mushroom-shaped roof.
A cute dog in front of a very western style house.
A rice-harvesting machine, cutting rice.
A country lane.
A sign to a tomb of Leegyubo.
A farm house with a strange but interesting design.
Exploring Lee Gyu-bo's tomb site.
Caveat: I find dumptrucks exciting. Because… of the blog name, y'know?
보지 않으면 잊혀진다 see-PRENEG is-not-IF forget-PASSIVE-CAUSATIVE If [it] is not seen it becomes forgotten. “Out of sight out of mind.” Yes, this is true. Like my blog. If you don’t see it, you forget it. That’s OK.