Caveat: Panoptigator

My students in my youngest EB1-M cohort drew this picture. It started out during the break time, when I often let them play with markers on the whiteboard, but I was so impressed with their idea, we turned it into an impromptu class project. Emma and Michelle did most of the actual drawing, but the other students made comments, and there were repeated "edits" until each student was satisfied with their portrait. 


I just stood there like a blockhead. Go figure.

I really like it. But I wonder about the all-seeing alligator above. What's that about?

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Bde Maka Ska, Bdeota

I used to live about a block from Lake Calhoun, in Minneapolis. I associate my time living there with my huge (or anti-huge?) weight-loss project, in 2006-2007. I lost almost 60 pounds that year – and mostly, I kept it off, losing another bit after coming to Korea, and then a lot when I had cancer, and then gaining some of that last bit back. I've been pretty stable at 80 kilos since the bounceback from the cancer.

Part of that process was my daily jogging. I would go out and run around the lake. I made a fixed habit of it. So you could say that I lost my pounds to the lake. And anyway, I have strong associative memories of the lake, my time living there, those daily runs, and the feeling of taking control back of my life.

I recently learned that there has been a movement to rename the lake. I think that's maybe a good idea – it's named for that famous, pre-Civil War justifier of slavery. This has now started the approval process.

The new name is Bde Maka Ska ("White Earth Lake"). I think this is a wonderful new name. Having studied the Dakota language (if only a little bit), I was pleased to recognize two of the three words in this name. It's especially nice in the city of Bdeota (which is, afterall, Minneapolis' Dakota name, and means simply "Place of Lakes"). 

Most countries in the world frequently rename things, and I think it's generally interesting, if sometimes overly trendy to whatever is currently going on politically in a place. But this change I can support unequivocally.

Here is a picture I took in 2009, during a brief visit to the old neighborhood, retracing my jogging route around the lake.


[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: Dawn Deluge (Writ Small)

pictureI don’t know what it is about me and water problems when I first wake up. There was the event, last year, when I flooded my apartment by making the mistake of trying to do my dishes while not yet fully awake. And this morning, well, I made a much smaller but rather odd flood.
I got up, and the first thing I do, with my perpetually dry mouth (lacking the salivary capacity that normal mouths have), is get some water to drink. I pulled down a clean glass tumbler from my cabinet, put some water in it, and went over to my desk. And I didn’t notice the glass was leaking. A lot.
It emptied itself like an incontinent automaton at my desk, and I didn’t notice until it had finished its task. I was puzzled how the water had escaped my glass and appeared on my desk and was now waterfalling into my lap.
pictureIt took me another run, after wiping up the flood with a towel and refilling my glass, to figure out what was going on. My glass had a remarkable hole in the bottom. I have no idea how that happened. Possibly the last time I washed it, and I just didn’t notice until now.
picture[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: Poem #485

A poem is like a conversation where
you hurl your words out slow and there's no end.

This is my new poem-numbering scheme. I decided I wanted the numbers to reflect the total number since I started this poem-a-day effort. So it is the sum of Nonnets + Englynion + Quatrains + Random Poems – [poems written before I started the daily challenge but got included in the earlier counts]. There may be some inaccuracy because some of the quatrains got counted as multiple quatrains despite being single “poems.” Not that all this really matters. I just… decided I wanted to do it like this, moving forward. 

Caveat: Waar Wacht Je Op?

Last night in my PM1-M cohort CC class (cloze listening of pop songs), I felt like I was living in some kind of Lord of the Flies rendition of hagwon life.

You see, this one boy, Eric, was opening a packet of snack ramen. The kids eat the dried ramen noodles dry, sort like potato chips, with the flavor packets opened and sprinkled over the broken up noodles. What they do is they open the packet enough to get out the flavor packet, which they extract and add into the noodle package. Then they hold the noodle package closed and mash up the noodles inside, so they're all tiny fragments and the flavor granules are distributed. It's like do-it-yourself Doritos, maybe.

So Eric had done this work. And then he tore open his now mashed up and flavored pack of dried noodles eagerly, with a plan to eat his snack. Normally I'm pretty tolerant of kids eating snacks in my class, despite an official rule against it, because I know the whole business of attending night class for elementary age students means sometimes they are hungry and haven't eaten since an after-school snack or something.

The other boys (the cohort is currently all boys, just by luck of the draw) were eyeing his snack jealously and hungrily. Unfortunately, Eric opened his packet too aggressively. The noodle fragments, stained orange by the spicy flavor granules, flew all over the room, landing on desks, chairs, floor, and even in Eric's hair. The boy sat with a stunned and despondant look on his face.

But the worst was when the other boys, seeing their chance, swooped in and began grabbing up all the scattered noodle fragments. They didn't seem to care that the bits were on the floor, chairs and desks. They ate them. In less than a minute, most of the bits were gone. Even the ones in Eric's hair. While Eric still just sat, looking stunned.

I said, "Really? Really? You guys are eating off the floor? It's like a pack of dogs!"

In fact, I wasn't that scandalized – I could barely contain my laughing. But given my in loco parentis role (more loco than parentis, perhaps), I felt obligated to be upset by the performance.

Anyway, we got it cleaned up. It took up about half the class time, though. I guess the boys were not annoyed by this.

Quite unrelatedly, what I'm listening to right now.

Sticks & Big2, "Waar Wacht Je Op?!" Don't ask me why. I just listen to weird things, sometimes. Why not a little bit of Dutch hiphop?


[Intro: Sticks]
Waar wacht je op?
Waar wacht je op?
Waar wacht je op?
Sticky Steez!

[Intro: Big2]
Hé Sticks, go get 'em!

[Verse 1: Sticks]
Je krijgt deez nuts, Dries van Noten
Breek het open, pistachenoten
Een piece of mind en een piece van mij
Voor de fun en fuck de police d'r bij
Nou als ik niet beweeg, breng ik niets te weeg
En wat zijn mijn woorden waard als ik ze niet meer weeg?
Ik deel mijn lief en leed, en het gaat fucking flex
Maar men ziet liever leed en beef-dvd's
Ik ga next-level, van rap battles naar HMH
Ga aan de kant Jett Rebel en Chef's Special
En Kensington en Go Back To The Zoo
En hoe lauwer de beat, hoe gekker je doet
Ambitie maakt dat ik move met m'n shit
Ambitie maakt dat jij grooved op die shit
'T is hard werken om je vrijheid te behouden
Maar de up-side: het kan allemaal van jou zijn
Nou waar wacht je op?

[Chorus: Sticks & Big2]
Get loose met je poes, als ik dit niet doe zijn we helemaal floes
(Waar wacht je op?)
En iedereen doet mee, met de Sticky Steez en de Biggie 2
(Waar wacht je op?)
Geen plan, gewoon gaan, de leeuw laat je echt niet in zijn hempie staan (Waar wacht je op?)
En de beat goes on (Lachen toch?) En de beat goes, on
(Waar wacht je op?)
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou…
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou…
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt

[Verse 2: Sticks]
Nou als het moet, bos ik op bam bam ritmes
Chaka Demus & en de Pliers in een 5-0-1 levi's
Met een witte Air Max, met een pipi' achter mijn oor
Geeft niks, het is the latest greatest
Nadenken is de vijand van vrijheid
Check deze Twan, volgens mij zijn we highlights
Daar moest je bij zijn, anderen willen dat me zijn maar zijn te klein als Royce da 5'9
Voor de clubs ben ik te nuchter, lever de track af, breek de tent af
Zoek rust midden in de drukte
Heel het leven is een trip beter stap je in (Waar wacht je op?)
Record wat, breng het uit de dag erop
Deel de hele taart uit, zet er slagroom op
Er is genoeg voor ieder, er is genoeg voor ieder
Waar wacht je op?

[Chorus: Sticks & Big2]
Get loose met je poes, als ik dit niet doe zijn we helemaal floes
(Waar wacht je op?)
En iedereen doet mee, met de Sticky Steez en de Biggie 2
(Waar wacht je op?)
Geen plan, gewoon gaan, de leeuw laat je echt niet in zijn hempie staan (Waar wacht je op?)
En de beat goes on (Lachen toch?) En de beat goes, on
(Waar wacht je op?)
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou…
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt
Het maakt niet uit wie wat zegt, het is aan jou…

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: The Alligary

My second grade student Michelle, who seems to be some kind of cartoonist prodigy, drew this character on my whiteboard the other day. She told me it was the Alligary. Now we have another student, who's English name is Gary. And frankly, in its minimalistic way, this drawing is an excellent caricature: the bowl-shaped haircut, the disgruntaled half-frown. I certainly would have recognized it as being him, if she'd only hinted that it was a student in our class.


[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Random Poem #182

(Poem #483 on new numbering scheme)

what's hidden
among atoms
and up in the trees
tracing fractal motions
distorted undulations
aimless disquisitions of form
leaves, for example, caught in the wind.

Caveat: 담벽하고 말하는 셈이다

I saw this aphorism in my book of aphorisms.

담벽하고 말하는 셈이다
dam.byeok.ha.go mal.ha.neun sem.i.da
brick-wall-WITH talk-PPART guess-BE
[One could] guess it’s [like] talking to a brick wall.

This is exactly the same as the English expression, “like talking to a brick wall.” It’s not so often I find exactly matching aphorisms. Perhaps dealing with dense individuals is a human universal.
[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: No thanks…

That's how I was feeling last night. It's Thanksgiving in the US, but it's just a regular day of work, here. And it was a particularly awful day at work. 

I was feeling incompetent as a teacher, and yet also frustrated with idiotic parents who complain about what I like to hope are good, research-supported teaching methods.

It was one of those fortunately rare days when I walk home daydreaming about quitting my job. I used to suffer that a lot. When I worked in those computer jobs, I literally spent every day daydreaming such things. In general, I stick with this teaching thing because I don't suffer those kinds of days so often.

So last night, I was thinking, "No thanks…"

This morning, there was a dusting of snow in my neighborhood. You can kind of see it on Jeongbal Hill, in the background, and on the trees in front of the maternity hospital in the foreground.


So for that, thanks.

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: Random Poem #179

(Poem #480 on new numbering scheme)

and she was sitting there, like happy,
and, like, not a care in the world,
and she goes, like, "whatever,"
and she holds her hand out,
and she's smiling, too,
and I agree,
and, well, see,
and then,

Caveat: Aesthetica in vivo

What I’m listening to right now.

A Capella Science, “Evo-Devo (Despacito Biology Parody).” This song is truly awesome. It’s evolutionary biology. It’s poetry. It’s music. It’s all in a package, like the miracle of life, itself. For the prototype of which this song is a “parody,” see here.

B. Mac.
Oh Carroll, Carroll
Gould, Stephen Jay yeah
D-D-D-D-Davidson and Peter

One cell divide and decide on a thousand fates
Did you ever figure how they know?
B. Mac.
Are built of modules combined in a planned out way
Each new piece must be told where to go

Now there’s a science helping us to understand
How our cells encode this architectural plan
Signalling each other with genetic tools oh
Oh yeah

Phenotype the interface for mouse and man
Genotype the files and the subprograms
What then are the switches, circuit boards and boot code?

Looking at the logic in the ways that we grow
Every gene directed by a signal key code
Proteins that can activate, enhance or veto
Signals are controlled by other genes that signal
Calculating in a network labyrinthal
Where the heart and liver and the hands and feet go

Signal mapping tells each region what it ought to be yo
With circuits so deeply built upon
They’re older than the Paleo
The Paleozoic Era baby
In a crucial pathway changes tend to get torpedoed
Where they go calamity goes
As this cyclopic sheep knows..

See down they cascade like a domino
Like you and I drosophila
The path that makes us optical
Was laid a long long time ago
Back before we blew up the cambrian like a bomb bomb
Now my eye protein can make you see out of your bom bom
And Hedgehog and its relatives like Indian and Sonic
Set up set up in a gradient on segments embryonic
Split forebrains and asymmetric parts depend upon it
Flipping on genetic switches and logic
From devo to evo
Adult and embryo
Mostly don’t evolve in the genes of the genome
Safer the mutation aimed at regulation
Keep the building blocks and swap their activation
From devo to evo
Parts have alter egos
Homologs evolved from repeats in the schema
Switch a couple bases in the proper places
You’ll be watching flies grow legs out of their faces oh yeah

Stick around for Modern Synthesis the sequel
Only by combining can a new theory grow
Evolution and development amigos
Signals trigger patterns of complexity so
Switching up the switches of a signalling node
Gives a modular and simple way to evolve

Look at how our spinal segments generate a neat row
Built on a molecular clock
One cycle, one vertebra
One vertebra one vertebra baby
Speeding up its rate is snakes’ developmental cheat code
That and where a lizard’s feet grow
They turn off distal aminos

This is how we go from single cells to people
Every generation and in life primeval
Life in variations endless and beautiful


From devo to evo
Larva to mosquito
Patterns are resolved as the signals proceed yo
Map out a gene with a glow tag
Kill it with a morpholino
Short oligo morpholino baby

From devo to evo
Voyage of the Beagle
Body plans evolve when proteins steer the genome
In this manner life’s beauty grows
Aesthetica in vivo


picture[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Random Poem #178

(Poem #479 on new numbering scheme)

Words spill out like cars on a highway.
They spin swirls, like oil on water.
Rising up, they take on birds.
They mumble to themselves.
And problems emerge.
Difficult words.

Caveat: reindeergator

I don't have much to say. Recently we started our Christmas-themed role-play with my youngest, lowest-level cohort. It might seem early, but with only one 45 minute practice period per week, it's really not too early.

So we are learning some Christmas songs. And I drew this on the whiteboard. We were drawing reindeer characters from the story. I added my own.


[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Random Poem #176

(Poem #477 on new numbering scheme)

through the air
but not sticking
to anything, just
making big promises
and icy atmospherics
which no one can appreciate
because they don't like feeling so cold.

Caveat: not subject to our stiff geometries

In trackless woods, it puzzled me to find
Four great rock maples seemingly aligned,
As if they had been set out in a row
Before some house a century ago,
To edge the property and lend some shade.
I looked to see if ancient wheels had made
Old ruts to which the trees ran parallel,
But there were none, so far as I could tell –
There’d been no roadway. Nor could I find the square
Depression of a cellar anywhere,
And so I tramped on further, to survey
Amazing patterns in a hornbeam spray
Or spirals in a pine-cone, under trees
Not subject to our stiff geometries.

– Richard Wilbur (American poet, b 1921)

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: Ice Cream In Hell

Sometimes, it can be interesting to try to look at the world from a truly different perspective. For example, how does ice cream see the world? How about ice cream that's dropped a few hits of acid and suffers some kind of mental disorder? 

Warning: Do not watch this video if you are easily annoyed.

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: Siniestro delirio amar una sombra


a Raúl Gustavo Aguirre

Esta manía de saberme ángel,
sin edad,
sin muerte en qué vivirme,
sin piedad por mi nombre
ni por mis huesos que lloran vagando.

¿Y quién no tiene un amor?
¿Y quién no goza entre amapolas?
¿Y quién no posee un fuego, una muerte,
un miedo, algo horrible,
aunque fuere con plumas
aunque fuere con sonrisas?

Siniestro delirio amar una sombra.
La sombra no muere.
Y mi amor
sólo abraza a lo que fluye
como lava del infierno:
una logia callada,
fantasmas en dulce erección,
sacerdotes de espuma,
y sobre todo ángeles,
ámgeles bellos como cuchillos
que se elevan en la noche
y devastan la esperanza.

– Alejandra Pizarnik (poeta argentina, 1936-1972)

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: packrat confessions

The one-room apartment where I live has become somewhat cluttered, I guess.

My attention was drawn to this because recently the apartment's owner (not my boss Curt – he merely holds a long-term lease, which in turn is sublet to me as part of my work compensation) decided to sell the apartment. Curt's long-term lease remains binding, as I understand it – it's not that I would lose my apartment. It's just some new "investor" (presumably) is planning on owning this particular one-room condo. Most apartments in Korea, I think, exist in this kind of situation. There's a condo owner who is most likely not the resident. Who any particular "owner" is, is not clear: investors or speculators or real-estate agencies of various sorts, I expect. It's not like these investors end up with a lot of responsibilities: the maintenance of the apartment is either the lease-holder's or the building management's. Anyway, it's complicated, but typical.

So having someone "selling" my apartment means I have to be prepared for occasional unexpected visitors, who would be prospective buyers. And that made me self-conscious of how cluttered I've allowed it to become. 

I suspect I have some "pack-rat" tendencies, which my frequent moves during my life have perhaps served to keep under control. This one-room in the Urim Bobo Building in Ilsan is the longest I've lived in a single place since, I think, childhood. 

I've been trying to de-clutter, a bit. But I don't enjoy doing that. It annoys me to have to make decisions about whether I really need something. It feels stressful. 

That's my life. Right now.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: incorporated

What I'm listening to right now.

The Wheel Workers, "Citizen Incorporated."


I am a person incorporated,
yes I rule the world.
I built it all so keep your hands off,
it’s my oyster and my pearls.

I am the heartbeat of America,
can’t leave home without me.
double your pleasure double your fun,
I’m everywhere you want to be.

I fight your wars and I start them too,
got religion as a hobby,
when you die there'll be pie in the sky,
sell you a plastic toy to pray.

what I tell you is fair and balanced,
it fits inside my frame.
can’t you see that it’s better for me
to do the thinking, so go play.

so you’re feeling
alone now
like you got no one who can relate.
just turn on your TV,
or go shopping, that’s liberty!

yes buy buy now,
buy buy now,
bye now.

so bye bye now,
bye bye now
buy now!

you believe we should slow down
think about the world that we make?
pat your head, here’s a medal,
ain’t nobody here gonna wait.

so bye bye now,
bye bye now,
buy now!

I own your seed and I sue your farmers,
I’m finger lickin’ good.
democracy is my employee,
I’ve got a quarterly report to fake.

I’m a citizen of the world,
mailbox in a tax haven.
I’m buying off those who write the laws,
yes you gotta pay to play.

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

Caveat: 거기 이상해요

Curt said, “What do you think of the new lights in the hall?”
I answered, “Those? Actually, I think they’re a little bit weird.” They had these odd LED blue stripes for some reason, giving a slightly eerie feel. I wasn’t sure what the point of that was. Just an effort to make for a unique lighting effect?
A bit huffily, as if I had impugned his interior-decorating skills, Curt replied, “What do you mean, ‘weird’?”
In that very instant, a third grade student, Gloria, emerged from the hall in question. I’m certain she hadn’t been overhearing the exchange between Curt and me, nor could she have necessarily even understood it, since she is not a high-level student.
Gloria said, in her typically assertive manner, “선생님, 거기 이상해요. [Teacher. It’s weird over there.]”
Needless to say, in that moment, I felt profoundly vindicated.
[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

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