Songs that might be fun for the kids

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

They Might Be Giants, “Elephants.” 


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

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

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

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

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

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

did you hear about the farmer… 


They Might Be Giants, “Omnicorn.”


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

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

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

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

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




Color Song


What color is the sky?

It’s blue.

It’s blue.

It’s blue.

The sky is blue.

The sky is blue.


What color is the sun?

It’s yellow.

It’s yellow.

It’s yellow.

The sun is yellow.

The sky is blue.


What color is the grass?

It’s green.

It’s green.

It’s green.

The grass is green.

The sun is yellow.

The sky is blue.


What color is an apple?

It’s red.

It’s red.

It’s red.

An apple is red.

The grass is green.

The sun is yellow.


The sky is blue.
The sky is blue.





Caveat: Vulpix vs Hadoop

The way modern companies are named, especially (but not limited to) tech companies, is quite bizarre. It's just random made-up words, mostly.

This was brought home to me by this weird online quiz which puts up a single, apparently made-up word, and asks you to choose: Pokemon (an imaginary universe of cartoon characters) or Big Data (i.e. technology companies specializing in data management, a realm once near-and-dear to my heart). 

I got a very bad score on this quiz. Just goes to show.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Curt’s Cow

CurtscowDuring some staff discussion we were having, Curt attempted draw a cow on the whiteboard. I think it was in the context of explaining the principle of “rumination” – i.e. a period during which students can ruminate on their input. This shows pedagogical awareness, but the staff discussion got distracted by the quality of his cow illustration. He attempted again, in response to feed back that cows don’t have round faces. Soon, everyone was laughing.

Curt said to me, “Hey, Jared. You’re an artist. You draw a cow. Fast.”

So I stepped up and drew my own version of a cow.

The three versions are at right. None of them are very good cows.

I have been having an overcast and lazy Sunday. I went to 본죽 and bought 단호박죽, as a kind of commemoration of the arrival of winter.

What I’m listening to right now.

Dënver, “Olas gigantes.”

picture[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: el ritmo de la vida me parece mal

Actually it snowed a little bit this morning. Still nothing that stuck, but more of a snow than the flurries the other day.
What I’m listening to right now.

Moderatto, “Si No Te Hubieras Ido.”

Te extraño mas que nunca y no se que hacer
despierto y de recuerdo mal amanecer
espera otro dia por vivir sin ti
el espejo no miente me veo tan diferente
me haces falta tu
La gente pasa y pasa y no se que hacer
el ritmo de la vida me parece mal
era tan diferente cuando estabas tu
si que era diferente cuando estabas tu
No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti
sufriendo en la espera de verte llegar
el frio de mi cuerpo pregunta por ti
y no se donde estas
si no te hubieras ido seria tan feliz
No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti
sufriendo en la espera de verte llegar
el frio de mi cuerpo pregunta por ti
y no se donde estas
si no te hubieras ido seria tan feliz
La gente pasa y pasa y no se ke hacer
el ritmo de la vida me parece mal
era tan diferente cuando estabas tu
si que era diferente cuando estabas tu
No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti
sufriendo en la espera de verte llegar
el frio de mi cuerpo pregunta por ti
y no se donde estas
si no te hubieras ido seria tan feliz

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: First Flurries

Yesterday, for most of the morning and as I walked to work in the early afternoon, there were snow flurries. None of it stuck, but I guess, technically, it counts as first snow. Farther south, some areas got a lot of snow. 

The progression of the seasons in Korea has always seemed far too orderly, to me. I much prefer the almost random feel of Minnesota's weather. 

Anyway, work is horribly busy these days. December is going to be hellish. 

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Los niños juegan

Sol de invierno

Es mediodía. Un parque.
Invierno. Blancas sendas;
simétricos montículos
y ramas esqueléticas.
Bajo el invernadero,
naranjos en maceta,
y en su tonel, pintado
de verde, la palmera.
Un viejecillo dice,
para su capa vieja:
"¡El sol, esta hermosura
de sol!…" Los niños juegan.
El agua de la fuente
resbala, corre y sueña
lamiendo, casi muda,
la verdinosa piedra.
– Antonio Machado (poeta español, 1875-1939)

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Angouraphobia

Apparently, cats are afraid of cucumbers. I never knew.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Pursued by Neo-Jaredites

Last week, I wrote an elegy to the vacant lot I walk past every day. Today, I found out that the vacant lot is going to be taken over by Mormons. Here is a picture of the construction site (a bit blurry). It says it will be a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – in English and Korean and something Chinese off to the right side, which I find quite puzzling.
I sometimes have expressed that I feel a certain fascination for Mormonism – a kind of fatal attraction. It may be because I grew up in a house across the street from a fairly large Mormon Church. It may be because in middle school and high school, I had several close friends who were Mormon. One friend, Wade, used to evangelize me on a fairly regular basis, though he was always quite respectful and polite. The consequence is that my own emerging atheist “faith” came to be defined, in part, as the outcome of a dialogue with Mormonism. Even at that age (or because of it?), I took that dialogue quite seriously. I suppose I was somewhat attracted to social aspects of the Church, even if I found the cosmology absurd.
And then there’s my name, which has meant that when Mormons meet me, they assume I’m an apostate – because Jared is a very common Mormon name, whereas it is not so common in the broader culture. One of the proto-Mormon groups in the Book of Mormon is even called the “Jaredites.” I had a teacher in high school who was Mormon (there were a lot of Mormons in my hometown, although not a majority), who even asked me once why my parents didn’t send me to the Mormon Church. He just jumped to the conclusion on the basis of my name that I must be Mormon in background.
So the fact that they’re building a church a few blocks from my home in Ilsan feels weird to me. Like they’re following me around.
picture[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: heart’s close bleeding book

Happy ye leaves! whenas those lily hands

Happy ye leaves. whenas those lily hands,
Which hold my life in their dead doing might,
Shall handle you, and hold in love's soft bands,
Like captives trembling at the victor's sight.
And happy lines on which, with starry light,
Those lamping eyes will deign sometimes to look,
And read the sorrows of my dying sprite,
Written with tears in heart's close bleeding book.
And happy rhymes! bathed in the sacred brook
Of Helicon, whence she derived is,
When ye behold that angel's blessed look,
My soul's long lacked food, my heaven's bliss.
Leaves, lines, and rhymes seek her to please alone,
Whom if ye please, I care for other none.
– Edmund Spenser (English poet, 1552–1599)

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: Get Behind Me, Jesus

There are many aspects of Ben Carson's character that make me question his ethnic loyalties. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly, just like Obama, perhaps only an African-American with deep ambiguities vis-a-vis African-American cultural identity could ever be successful running for president in a racist America. In Carson's specific case, however, I do think it is a bad thing, that his ethnic loyalties are so unclear. He seems to be a kind of latter-day Clarence Thomas. In fact, would I say that I rather dislike Ben Carson – despite being a trained surgeon, he strikes me as a dangerous luddite and a flaming fanatical hypocrite of the worst sort. Nevertheless, there was something reassuring about the revelation that this painting, below, is hanging in Ben Carson's home. To riff on the website where I saw it… finally, we have some concrete proof of Carson's blackness.


[daily log: walking around my apartment]

Caveat: Alex’s Banana Apocalypse

Minion-m1m-1There is a cartoon movie called Minions, which is an installment in an on-going series. I haven't actually seen this movie, but all my students know it, so I decided it might be a good jumping off place for a writing assignment. Minions are essentially what the name says – little alien-like creatures whose sole purpose is to serve comedically over-the-top villainous overlords. The writing prompt goes like this:

Last week, I woke up becase a minion came in my room. "What do you want?" I asked. He said, "You are my master. What do you want me to do?"

My student Alex, never one to be constrained by coherency even in his best moments, wrote a bizarre, vaguely stream-of-consciousness tale of nuclear apocalypse, time travel paradox, and a lot of bananas. I have transcribed his writing verbatim.

minion go to school for me. and make nuclear bomb in freetime. and put it and run away. then, school and Earth is blast. so people all die many people. and make time machien and go to before make nuclear bomb. and kill minion yourslef. and this is crazy you die in the would. Bye bye bye bye bye bye bye crazy crazy you die crazy people in the school. so you can be explode nuclear bomb, and you eat plutonium crazy fire wax salt banana. so minion is die. banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana! minion says in the would "banana!" and everyone eat banana (fire, bomb) so many people was die.

To be honest I don't quite know what to make of it. Clearly he's got some issues to work through, but I wouldn't assume he really has serious psychological problems – global destruction is a very popular theme among 5th graders. I rather like the time travel paradox, although I don't quite see what it adds to the plot. I would be curious to see him develop the story further.

What I'm listening to right now.

Nerve Filter, "Auto Mat."

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: There’s all too many graveyards handy these days

Finding My Elegy

I can't find you where I've been looking for you,
my elegy. There's all too many graveyards handy
these days, too many names to read through tears
on long black walls, too many bulldozed bonefilled ditches.
And all the animals to mourn, wiped off
the earth like mist wiped off a mirror, leaving one
face, reflection of itself alone,
image of its imagined image; nothing else,
no grief, no dirt, no dogs, no elegies.

That desert is no place for you. And so I looked
where death is birth and gods are animals
and being flows through being as from spring
river flows into river to the sea;
but what's to mourn, if life betakes itself into
another life? Better a rite of passage,
painful joyful celebration of the change,
warning and welcome to the soul returned
forgetful who it was, and we not knowing either,
seabird or child, salmon or fern or fawn.

And on the eightfold way, although compassion finds
itself at home, all the hard work of sorrow
dissolves to breathing in and out the lives let loose
from turning turning turning, gone nowhere
to do no harm at last, after the long despair.

So where to seek? I used to dream of climbing
high in the hills, those silent ridges red with dawn,
to find your sisters the Laments; but that's
a hero's journey. I am older than a hero
ever gets. My search must be a watch,
patiently sitting, looking out the open door.

Far off through shadow I can see a woman
who stands to speak a name. Though I can't hear her voice
across the ruins of the centuries,
I know how hard it was to speak, how her throat ached.
In Rome, beside the pyre or open grave,
they'd say the name aloud three times, and then be still.
A name is hard to say. Who'd read aloud
those names on that long wall, what woman born
could bear to know so many children dead?
Numbers are easier. The men of money say
numbers, not names. Grief's not their business.

But I think it may be mine, and if I have
a people any more, I will find them in tears.

My elegy, your clothes are out of fashion.
I see you walking past me on a country road
in a worn cloak. Your steps are slow, along
a way that grows obscure as it leads back and back.
In dusk some stars shine small and clear as tears
on a dark face that is not human. I will follow you.

– Ursula K. Le Guin (American author, b. 1921)

The posting of this "elegy" and the one I wrote the other day are not really related events. I ran across this and liked it, and it just so happens to be an elegy. I guess I'm having an elegiac period.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: ad hominem

My student Jiyun channeled Donald Trump, and delivered a pure ad hominem rebuttal during an impromptu debate last night. I know it's not really good debating style, but at the elementary level, I am actually happy to see students taking the initiative to use English communicatively and effectively even if it is only to insult their classmates during a debate.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: 아름다운 서울을 사랑하리라

There is some very cheesy Korean 80s music. There is a genre called “트로트” (“Trot”) which, although not stylistically similar, fulfills the same cultural function as Country & Western in the US, or maybe Norteño in Mexico. The below is kind of a crossover between Trot and Pop, I guess.
What I’m listening to right now.

이용, “서울.”

종로에는 사과나무를 심어보자
그길에서 꿈을 꾸며 걸어가리라
을지로에는 감나무를 심어보자
감이 익을 무렵 사랑도 익어가리라

아아아아 우리의 서울 우리의 서울
거리마다 푸른 꿈이 넘쳐흐르는
아름다운 서울을 사랑하리라

빌딩마다 온갖 새들을 오게하자
지저귀는 노래소리 들어보리라
거리거리엔 예쁜 꽃을 피게하자
꽃이 피어나듯 사랑도 피어나리라

아아아아 우리의 서울 우리의 서울
거리마다 푸른 꿈이 넘쳐흐르는
아름다운 서을을 사랑하리라

아아아아 우리의 서울 우리의 서울
거리마다 푸른 꿈이 넘쳐흐르는
아름다운 서울을 사랑하리라

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: The Vacant Lot

I was walking to work yesterday, and lo and behold, the long-lived vacant lot I go past every day was under construction. I was compelled to attempt a poem, which quickly got out of hand. I began with some metrical ambition, but I abandoned it soon enough – it’s really become just some florid prose with line-breaks, I suppose.
(Poem #22 on new numbering scheme)

An Elegy for the Vacant Lot on the Corner of Gobong-ro and Jungang-ro in Ilsan
November 2015
While mud danced beneath the bulldozer's blades
Like a partly remembered stanza by Vicente Huidobro,
Or Wallace Stevens, and workmen yelled,
I recalled when I had first come to Ilsan,
There had been a real estate office in that empty space,
I think, where garish decor extolled
The virtues of Seoul's burgeoning exurban New Cities, and
Yet pyrrhically represented only lowrise ambition,
And by shoddy construction presented
A forgettable counterexample to upward mobility, so
To see that tiny deserted square of land
Retaken by the hungry machines,
I felt a lamentation rise up inside me,
Like the regret one feels upon
Realizing that someone, who was once a friend
But is no longer a friend, has died.
Happy weeds, for many months, for many moons,
Flourished in that vacant lot I walk past
As I go to work in the afternoons
Past the corner of Gobong-ro at Jungang-ro,
Providing, for any attentive passers-by,
Compelling lessons in ecological succession, as
First grass loomed large like summer cornfields,
and then woody shrubs appeared while unhappy
Men crept out of sight among them late at night to vomit
During long, festive weekends, and finally
Trees grew tall like warriors amid the city's litter
And the buses recklessly zoomed past
Like ants bearing leaves for their queen.
So, seeing that, I felt sadness,
But then in that instant, some rain began,
Pulling down yellow and brown leaves from
The remaining trees,
Arriving gradually but as a comfort
Like an old Depeche Mode song,
Suggesting a generous ephemerality
Of the sort that autumn always brings.

Here is a picture of the lot, bulldozers a-buzzing, from across the street.

What I’m listening to right now.

Depeche Mode, “Nothing.”


Sitting target
Sitting waiting

Is full of surprises
It advertises

What am I trying to do
What am I trying to say
I’m not trying to tell you anything
You didn’t know
When you woke up today

Sitting target
Sitting praying
God is saying

Knows the prospects
Learn to expect

picture[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: 뒤로 호박씨 까다

I found this idiom in my Korean idiom book.

뒤로 호박씨 까다 ho.bak.ssi kka.da
behind-MEANS pumpkin-seed crack
Crack pumpkin seeds with your behind.

I thought this was an interesting idea, because in figuring it out, I learned that the Korean word 뒤, which means “behind,” can also mean “behind” in the English idiomatic sense of ass. Thus this is, “to crack pumpkin seeds with your ass.”
What it means, apparently, is to appear innocent but to be carrying out nefarious deeds in secret. I guess to the extent that cracking pumpkin seeds with one’s ass is nefarious, that makes sense, as it would be hard to tell just looking at someone that they were doing that.
[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: The Wall of Unfame

At work, there is a wall next to the reception desk where, over the last few days, someone (I assume Curt or Helen?) has been putting up these little post-it notes, upon which are written spontaneous student feedback to the prompt “What do you think of Karma?” There is no explanation for this – there are only the post-its. I had to ask someone to explain what they were about, and it was far from obvious, even reading the notes, because all the post-its are of that variety that are free because they contain advertising (promotional) material, from a discount store chain called E-Mart (Korean Wal-Mart). So it looks, at first glance, like the students are expressing their opinion of E-Mart, which would be a silly thing to put up next to the reception desk at Karma.

Once I learned what the notes were about, however, I studied them carefully. I’m deeply curious what the students think of Karma, and there is not enough of this kind of information that, at least that I have ready access to, given my linguistic handicaps.

A few of the notes are entertainingly negative. One student wrote a very laconic: 없다 – “there’s nothing.” I assume that the question-prompt had been something like “what do you think of when you think of Karma?” or “what’s the first thing that pops into your head on the subject of Karma?”

Another note said the single word, “Stay” (in English), which refers to when we make students stay late to finish homework or re-take a quiz.

The largest number of notes said something to the effect of “재미있다,” which is, roughly, “it’s fun.”

Another bunch of notes expressed ideas related to, “쌤 친절해요,” which is something like “the teachers are kind.” This can give a nice feeling. Many of this class of note got more specific, naming individual teachers, including Grace, Helen, and Kay.

It was in observing this that my heart fell. Among all the notes, several dozen at least, not one mentioned my name. It was a wall of unfame, at least with respect to me.

I’m not actually interested in fame. But I’m interested in trying to be memorable to my students.

A few weeks ago, I had a really bad week. It was one of those weeks where, as a means of coping, I begin to compose a resignation letter to my boss.

I have done this many times in my life – it’s not something that I allow to come to fruition – at least, not in recent decades. It’s a way of coping, I guess, and a way of documenting various frustrations.

There had been ongoing problems at work, and one class, in particular, had kind of reached a crisis. I wrote about that, already. The mistake I made, after that crisis, was calling on my bosses to help me deal with it. That was a mistake, because it left me feeling weak and ineffective about my job, and, in the Korean context, I lost a lot of “face” with my coworkers. Mostly, my coworkers claim not to care about this issue, but it does leave subtle tells in their behavior and interactions with me, and thus the last several weeks have felt a little bit “frosty.”

Anyway, I have subsequently felt better about that particular class. The reformation and resolution was probably a combination of some stern talking-to by the other teachers and my own effort to swallow my anger and remember they’re just kids, and don’t have a clue how to behave.

That week from hell had other lasting consequences for my general state of mind.

On Tuesday, somehow I managed to stub my toe. That may sound innocuous enough – but it was a bad toe-stubbing. I bled all over the floor of my apartment, and almost thought I should go to the hospital before it finally stopped. Somehow, the toe-stubbing aggravated my old broken metatarsil bone from my bicycle accident (1993), where I had a metal pin inserted. Now I’m limping around, and in pain in my foot. Even several weeks later, I still feel tender down there – clearly I reactivated the old injury. It is a kind of special supplement to the permanent low-grade post-surgery pain I experience in my mouth and neck.

With tensions high at work, I ended up yelling with my boss on Wednesday – and as I said, things have felt a little bit frosty.

On Thursday of that week, I accidentally deleted an online draft document where I keep my kind of personal journal supplement to my blog – it’s like a place to brainstorm ideas, and record thoughts that I decide not to record in the public record of the blog. Let’s just say, I managed to delete about 6 months of personal journaling.

I haven’t had a computer disaster of that level for quite a while. It’s ironic because I had just been telling a coworker a few days before that I was confident I was backing up everything I wrote really effectively. That document managed to slip through a kind of crack I allowed to develop in my backup system. It’s my own fault of course. Anyway, I lost quite a bit of writing.

I was struggling with anger. I spent a lot of energy on “watching” myself as I dealt with it. I was particularly struck by what might be termed an “ascetic” response. When I’m angry, it’s almost always combined with a severe self-condemnation, as I generally blame myself for things that have gone wrong. In fact, with things that are genuinely out of my own control, my anger tends to be more ephemeral. Thus the kind of anger that is hardest for me to cope with is anger at myself.

That kind of anger is insidious.

Anger is dangerous. It insinuates, reproduces, perpetuates, like a virus in the body or an ideology in a culture, anger is immanent at the level of a single mind. It can cloud your mind, because it’s seeking to stay in charge and reproduce. It is not a single voice, but a tribe of voices and assertions and emotionalized perceptions, which reach out an hijack other voices and perceptions. It’s a demonic possession, it’s a contamination, it’s an error.

My psychological response has been to seek out deadness, numbness. I remember many years ago, I coined a term for it. I called it “ascetic narcotism.” I’m not sure it’s completely accurate, but I was trying to capture the way that the impulse to purify takes over and becomes an obsession, like a kind of addiction.

I kept trying to be more ascetic. Restricting my diet. Restricting my “fun activities,” like surfing blogs or drawing maps.

In fact, I don’t like purity narratives. I’ve tried to write about that, before, but I think eventually I should make a book about it.

So now, it’s several weeks later.

Gradually, I had been feeling better, and more positive, although work is feeling desperate, still. And then I stood and studied the wall of unfame, and all my insecurities and frustrations came back to me.

As I walked home on Friday night, I found myself thinking a lot about what it is I’m trying to get out of being a teacher. I do hope to have some impact on kids’ lives, I guess. But I also view it a relatively low-stress career – it was my own personal rejection of the rat-race careerism that had absorbed me during my years working with databases and IT. So my frustration isn’t just with the frustrating aspects of the job, but with the very fact that it is frustrating, because the point is to get away from things that are frustrating. If my low-stress career is stressful, I’m doing it wrong.

Here is the “resignation letter” that I’d started, before. I suppose this is a kind of passive-aggressive way of publishing it, to the extent that this blog is public. But I’m not actually resigining – I’m just trying to work out my feelings.

Until now, the reason that I do this job is because I enjoy it.

If I cannot enjoy the job, I should quit. I can get other jobs that I don’t enjoy. I can get jobs that pay much better. I have a lot of skills. 

I have a huge amount of gratitude to my current place of work for the kindness people have shown me. But gratitude alone cannot nourish my soul.

I really don’t think I’m that great of a teacher. I am a bit lazy, definitely, and I rely on my in-class enthusiasm and rhetorical skills to scrape by. I have a pretty good grounding in and awareness of pedagogical theory and the issues around it, but I often take shortcuts that disregard my knowledge. In teaching, in any event, perfectionism is dangerous, as it can be paralyzing, because a class never goes perfectly.

It’s weird, because the teachers from my own past that I think about most frequently and remember most vividly are not, likely, the “best” teachers. In some cases, they are not even the teachers whom I liked the most at the time. The teachers I tend to think about are the ones who constructed narratives – ongoing narratives and consistent patterns through many classes.

I try to be that kind of teacher, but I’m not feeling very successful. The wall of unfame feels like a confirmation that I’m not.

picture[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: Not Noise

Last night, Razel, a teacher, made a face of annoyance, and leaned out into the hallway. "What's all that noise?" she called down in English to where some students were supposed to be studying.

Without missing a beat, a student from whom I wouldn't have expected such fluency, poked his head out and answered, "That's not noise."

Of course, I was curious, so I asked, "If it's not noise, what is it?" 

"I don't know," shrugged the student. "But it's not noise." 

I guess I thought this was funny. I laughed. 

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: cortado el nudo estrecho

El sueño

Imagen espantosa de la muerte,
sueño crüel, no turbes más mi pecho,
mostrándome cortado el nudo estrecho,
consuelo solo de mi adversa suerte.

Busca de algún tirano el muro fuerte,
de jaspe las paredes, de oro el techo,
o el rico avaro en el angosto lecho
haz que temblando con sudor despierte.

El uno vea el popular tumulto
romper con furia las herradas puertas,
o al sobornado siervo el hierro oculto.

El otro sus riquezas, descubiertas
con llave falsa o con violento insulto,
y déjale al amor sus glorias ciertas.
– Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola (poeta español, 1559-1613)

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Take care to tell it just as it was

I think I have a slight cold. I woke up at 5 am all congested and feeling vaguely feverish. I guess that's the changing of the seasons… 

What I'm listening to right now.

Chvrches, "Leave A Trace."


[Verse 1]
I gave up on time
Just like you said you would
There are tiny cracks of light underneath me
And you say I got it wrong
But I tried hard to uncover them

I have somehow got
Away with everything
Anything you ever did was strictly by design
But you got it wrong
And I'll go anywhere but there

And you had best believe
That you cannot build what I don't need
And I know I need to feel relief
And I know you'll never fold
But I believe nothing that I'm told
And I know I need to feel relief

I know I need to feel released
Take care to tell it just as it was
Take care to tell on me for the cause
I know I need to feel released
Take care to bury all that you can
Take care to leave a trace of a man

[Verse 2]
I will show restraint
Just like we said we should
You think I'll apologize for things I left behind
But you got it wrong
And I'm as sane as I ever was

You talk far too much
For someone so unkind
I will wipe the salt off of my skin
And I'll admit that I got it wrong
And there is grey between the lines

And you had best believe
That you cannot build what I don't need
And I know I need to feel relief
And I know you'll never fold
But I believe nothing that I'm told
And I know I need to feel relief

I know I need to feel released
Take care to tell it just as it was
Take care to tell on me for the cause
I know I need to feel released
Take care to bury all that you can
Take care to leave a trace of a man

I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know

I know I need to feel released
Take care to tell it just as it was
Take care to tell on me for the cause
I know I need to feel released
Take care to bury all that you can
Take care to leave a trace of a man

I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Betty Botter’s Bitter Butter

I made another tongue-twister debate with my elementary Honors1 cohort, based on the "Betty Botter's Bitter Butter" tongue twister:

Betty Botter had some butter, "But," she said, "this butter's bitter. If I bake this bitter butter, it would make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter – that would make my batter better."
So Betty Botter bought herself a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter, and she baked it in her batter, and the batter was not bitter. So it was better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

I think that they did pretty well. Roy, especially, actively tried to integrate the tongue twister into his debate speeches, although in other aspects he didn't do as well. 

Debate proposition: "Betty Botter should not buy bitter butter for her busy daughter." The class was PRO for the proposition, while I took the CON side – off-camera. Speeches were mostly memorized.

[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: An undiscovered planet in our sky

Haunted Houses

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (American poet, 1807-1882)

A little bit late for Halloween. But nevertheless I decided to post it.

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: 櫛風沐雨

I saw the following four-character aphorism on my elevator yesterday.


My online dictionary offers: 바람으로 머리를 빗고 빗물로 목욕을 한다는 뜻으로, 객지를 방랑하며 온갖 고생을 겪음을 비유적으로 이르는 말.  I didn’t try to translate this in detail, but basically it seems to mean, “let the wind comb your hair, let the rain wash you.”
As an English equivalent, I found: “The storms of life.”
After a windy, gray and drizzly weekend, it seems like a good thing to meditate on.
picture[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: Trying to find the in-betweens

I am reading a really fat history of the Park Chung-hee period (South Korea's dictatorship, 1961-1979). The sky is heavy, overcast and gray. I dreamed I was being chased by an alien last night – perhaps I watched the wrong thing on TV.

What I'm listening to right now.

The Naked and Famous, "Young Blood."


We're only young and naive still
We require certain skills
The mood it changes like the wind
Hard to control when it begins

The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah

Can't help myself but count the flaws
Claw my way out through these walls
One temporary escape
Feel it start to permeate

We lie beneath the stars at night
Our hands gripping each other tight
You keep my secrets hope to die
Promises, swear them to the sky

The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah

As it withers
Brittle it shakes
Can you whisper
As it crumbles and breaks
As you shiver
Count up all your mistakes
Pair of forgivers
Let go before it's too late
Can you whisper
Can you whisper
Can you whisper
Can you whisper

The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah

[daily log: walking, 1.5km ]

Caveat: Woodchucks Redux

I took my successful “woodchuck” humorous debate topic that I’d used a few weeks ago with my elementary kids and gave it to my middle-schoolers as a last hurrah before the final test-prep period of the year, which starts next week.

Here are a couple results, cross-posted from my work blog. Note that I participated in these debates, generally to even up the team memberships, as is necessary in classes with odd numbers of students.




picture[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Babylon is Falling

Last night, I invited myself to a midnight haranguing.

As a “foreign teacher” without parent-contact duties at my work, and furthermore with my very poor Korean language skills, I have always been officially exempted from many staff meetings. Recently, however, I have been trying to attend anyway – both for the potential benefit toward understanding the what’s going on around me, as well as a kind of passive “Korean listening class” to hopefully help me improve my language at least a small amount.

When it was announced there would be a meeting after the kids went home, last night, I would have been tempted not to attend, given how much I like to get home and go to sleep at a reasonable hour. But I know a lot of stuff has been going on that I don’t really know the details of, lately, so I decided to go. I didn’t participate – I was just an observer.

I guess the business situation with Karma is not looking good, at the moment – we have been bleeding enrollment, with the end-of-October numbers looking exceptionally grim. The boss is distressed, and wondering why his people aren’t inspiring customer loyalty. I can’t capture all the details, but in traditional Korean work-meeting fashion, there were a lot of histrionics and borderline tantrums. It would maybe be entertaining if I wasn’t so personally invested with all the people and the institution involved. As it was, it was pretty stressful – and it went on until well past midnight.

I have my opinions as to why we’re seeing students leaving, lately, but for now I’ll withhold comment, except to say that I don’t think it’s entirely an issue with the quality of our product – there are broader factors at play, including demographics, market shifts, and hostile government regulation. I do think that perhaps a more empathetic management style might go a long ways toward creating a more convivial work environment. Then again, it’s possible that, given cultural differences, ranting and haranguing are necessary components in effective communication. More than once I have been up against a communicative brick wall, and have managed to resolve it with a well-placed tantrum.

What I’m listening to right now.

K-Os, “Hallelujah.” This is not the first time to post this song, but last time I didn’t include the lyrics. I really like this song.


[Verse 1]
I walk down these city streets
Just a lonely man inspired
Hoping God will send me water down
To quench this burning fire
How I feel for the mountain
A monastery man
Things will stay the same so I’ll remain
And show just who I am
Seeing things around me
Bonnie and Clyde
Graffiti with no message
Doctors, medicines, or pride
But it doesn’t really matter
They’re blowin’ in the wind
On the cover of a magazine

[Hook: x2]
Babylon is falling
Babylon is falling

[Verse 2]
I try to wash my dirty hands
But they won’t come off the water
Hopin’ truth will make me clean and then
Redeem my sons and daughters
Though they’re not yet on the very highway
Pass along below
That’s why I left my memories far behind the lazy road
Seems so simple
The future’s the past
The present all the things we holdin’ on to make them last
But it doesn’t really maeeaahhh (matter)
Blow eeeahh (blowin in the wind)
Couuhaaahhh (with their heads high)

[Hook: x2]
Babylon is falling
Babylon is falling

[Musical Interlude]



[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: 중이 제 머리를 못 깎는다

This is an aphorism from my aphorism book.

중이 제 머리를 못 깎는다
jung.i je meo.ri.reul mot kkakk.neun.da
monk-SUBJ self head-OBJ cannot shave-PRES
A monk cannot shave his own head.

This is interesting, because two sources give nearly opposite meanings for this aphorism. My aphorism book says that this is the idea of a someone who can’t take care of himself properly, or can’t manage his own affairs, implying it as a kind of criticism. The online dictionary says that this is “A man cannot scratch his own back” – i.e. that this the idea that a person needs other people. I think the online version makes more sense.
[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Dr Hubert On The Beach at Jeres

Below is a poem I wrote recently. But its “story” is complicated. I wrote a poem with a similar title when I was in high school, in the same format: formally, a sestina, and with other (efforts at) metrical constraints. The protagonist, Dr Hubert, was the same, in the original, too – he is a character from a fictional world I had created. I suspect that in actual tone, this recent poem is more optimistic than the first version, which I long ago lost (though it still may exist in some box in my Minnesota storage unit, but obviously I don’t have the ability to find it, currently). I was more of a pessimist about humanity as a teenager than I am now, and the character Dr Hubert, in my youth’s conception, was a dystopian anti-hero. Below, on the other hand, he is more of a simple, tragic hero. Nevertheless, broadly speaking, the poem is about disillusionment. “The Collective” is a reference to the Jeres Collective, which was a failed utopian experiment within this world I’d created. I don’t think that was the original name. The similarity between the name of the collective and my own first name is purely phonological coincidence.
(Poem #21 on new numbering scheme)

Dr Hubert On The Beach at Jeres
He was lost, alone. His companions were dead.
Dr Hubert stood under Mahhalian skies.
The man's disconsolate face had turned to gray,
And the war, begun and just ended, like gold,
Seemed pointless. The billowing clouds threatened rain.
There was a ragged pine down the shore. A lie
Had started it all. It was pointless. A lie
had bloomed, flourished, been nurtured, and now was dead.
Days before, with hope and optimism, the rain
had relented and the typically wan skies
had given way to bright explosions of gold
And crimson as the sun rose. Just now, a gray
Seagull spun, landed, stepped twice, and pecked at gray
bits of sand, searching for insects, that might lie
Beneath. Dr Hubert bent and picked up a spent gold
shell-casing from the sand. Memento of dead
Fellow fighters. He turned and peered at the skies
But his memory only showed him the rain
Of bullets that hours before, before the rain
Diligently washed the sour smell of gray
Gunpowder from the cold air, had filled the skies'
Dome with pain, useless suffering and death. That lie
Had been the false utopia promised by dead
Men. Earthly paradise had been a fool's gold.
Some of the birches on the hillside had gold
leaves, which hung like saddened children as the rain
started again finally, pelting the dead
vegetation. Their white bark, damp, looked like gray
Photographs. He felt tired, now. I want to lie
down," he muttered. "The Collective filled our skies
With hope for glory. Here in Jeres those skies
Instead have been destroyed." A pale egret, gold
beak flashing, lands down the beach. "Nature can't lie
To us, though. I will take solace in the rain."
Born among angels, having fared across gray
seas, the idealist peered from among the dead.
Under Mahhalian skies, driftwood damp and dead,
On gold sands lay. Dr Hubert faced the gray
Heavens and chose to lie down in the lucid rain.

– a sestina
One calendrical observation: I am certain that I wrote the original poem on or near November 3rd, 1982. That’s because November 3rd is St Hubert’s day, which was where the character first got his name. The reason is that November 3rd is the first saints’ day after the commemoration of all the dead (All Saints), Novermber 1 and 2. That’s a bit complicated, but I was trying for some kind of obscure symbolism. The fact that I re-wrote the same poem leading up to Novermber 3rd is thus not entirely coincidence, either. Dr Hubert is an autumnal figure.
Hubert_of_texasAnother note: when I went to check on Saint Hubert (patron of mathematicians, among others, which was of keen interest to my 17-year-old self, and marginally relevant to the original conception of the Mahhalian history) at the wikipedia, just now, with the intention of placing a link, I learned that Hubertus was born in Texas. This is, no doubt, a bit of wikivandalism. But it was quite humorous – I have placed a screenshot (because wikivandalism is ephemeral) at right.
picture[daily log: walking, 6km]

Caveat: Then I wont have to keep hurting anyone

I slept a lot yesterday. I dreamed I was teaching classes at work, which made it unrestful, so I kept wanting to sleep more. I wonder if I'm getting sick. Grrr.

What I'm listening to right now.

Olin and the Moon, "Not In Love."


Let the sunlight in
You might never get this chance again
So take a deep breath and hold it in
You should take a picture
Cause you might never see me again
I said take a deep breath and hold it in

Because you're not in love
There's no way you possibly could
You shouldn't even like this
You just like the way it looks
If this is the end, and what's done is done
Then I wont have to keep hurting anyone

So let the wind take its course over everything
You have no control when it's out of your hands
You should take a minute for it all to settle in
I said take a deep breath and hold it in

Because you're not in love
There's no way you possibly could
You shouldn't even like this
You just like the way it looks
If this is the end, and what's done is done
Then I wont have to keep hurting anyone

Let the sunlight in
You better get as much as you can
Cause you might never feel the same again
And take the wind, let it blow away everything
I said take a deep breath and hold it in

Because you're not in love
There's no way you possibly could
You shouldn't even like this
You just like the way it looks
If this is the end, and what's done is done
Then I wont have to keep hurting anyone

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

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