Friday, August 31, 2007

Never Before

Never before have I thought of myself as old. Not even a few days ago when I turned a year older. Today was a poignant reminder of exactly how old I am.
It was field trip day at Kid's College and we took the kindergarten classes to Jungle In. It is basically like the old school McDonald's play lands but bigger and better. Ball pits, slides, zip lines, crawl tunnels and countless other tools of fun to wreak havoc on an aging body.

It was a lot of fun. The nice thing about this place is that anyone who surpasses the 4' height mark (even by two feet) can still play. My kids hung on me constantly dragging me through the torturous tunnels and using me as a human sled.
I played with my kids non-stop for the entire time. It was so fun to just play with them and not worry about a lesson, correcting grammar or punishing inappropriate behavior.
At Jungle In we had to take off our shoes and we got to wear these cool slippers that ensured me that my feet would stay healthy.
The kids' parents packed lunch for us and they put on quite a spread. Way too much kimbap and plenty of fruit.
Before lunch, our boss and school principal, Mrs. Lee, talked to the kids about eating. She stressed the importance of eating slowly and waiting before running around. Waiting at least 30 minutes prevents the otherwise inevitable vomit episodes. Her warnings and demonstrations must have done the trick because we were accident free. Her demonstrations were absolutely hilarious and I was able to capture them on video. I couldn't stop laughing as she was talking to the kids. Check it out.

video

It was a fun day but I can barely move now. Every muscle in my body hurts and I think I sprained a finger on my right hand. I sustained several other injuries including a scratched retina (ball to the eye), bloody lip (head butted by Rex), and a bruised tailbone (way too many trips down the slide). It was worth it.What activity reminds you of your age?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jon McLaughlin - Industry

I've had this song stuck in my head all day. I love it. It is from his CD Indiana.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Obsession for a Laugh

Sometimes I ashamedly cannot pull myself away from my computer. Today was one of those days. Thanks to Freakonomics, I discovered a new blog (new to me) called Indexed.

The writer uses standard index cards to illustrate ponderings in a mathematical and economical way. Who ever knew economics could be fun?

Her Venn diagrams and x/y graphs put the world into simplistic realisms that provoke thought and a good dose of laughter.

No subject is taboo and she touches on everything from Disney
to the Bibleto Monty Python.She will be publishing a book next February and anybody in need of a gift idea for me would do well to write this one down. ;-)

Can you view the world in a Venn diagram? What would it look like?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

News Flash

The Taliban just agreed to release the South Korean Christian missionaries they had previously captured in July.

Something about the previous articles made me think the Taliban hadn't really thought it through very well. They had captured women (taboo) and there wasn't much the South Korean government could offer in exchange for the release. It seems once they realized that, they were trying to find a way to release the captives while saving face.

Although, I'm not sure how well thought through the plan was to send missionaries to Afghanistan in the first place.

Interesting fact: South Korea currently has over 17,000 missionaries working abroad and is second only to the United States.

What do you think about the Taliban's capture/release of the missionaries?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy Birthday

Had a nice birthday today. This morning I took my class to an open area and we flew a kite. I bought the kite at the Yeouido park on Saturday night. It was hot outside and I was sweating buckets after running after the kids and the kite for only 20 minutes.
I bought the kids pizza for lunch. They said "Where's the chicken?" I bought them cola. They said " Where's the cake?" I hope I wasn't that ungrateful when I was a kid. Some of the kids did bring me presents though. One gave me a nice Manchester United ball cap.Two sisters I teach gave me some chocolates and gum. But I think their notes were the best. The one on the right is my kindergartner, Molly. The one on the left is a middle school student, Mary.
What did you get for your last birthday?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nothin' Much

Had a nice quiet day. Went to church. Bought some DVDs in Yongsan. Other than that...uneventful.

Here is another picture from last night. I was using the night feature on my camera and the picture came out poorly but I still like it.

Here are two links from the blogsphere. The first is for some helpful questions you should ask your perspective employer if you are moving to Korea. The second is quite comedic and gives a play-by-play on how to build a Korean street.

Cheers.

What do you do on an uneventful day?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Boat Ride on the Han

Stupid Tourist Saturday!

My Korean helper teacher left a couple weeks ago and is now working a job at the ticket booth for tours of the Han River. She offered me a free ticket whenever I wanted to we decided to take her up on it.

We had galbi in Hwagok on the edge of a rice field. It was weird to be so close to the city and yet so far removed. It kind of felt like the Korean country side.

After that we drove to Yeouido. The traffic was terrible but I amused myself with the in-car TV/navigation system. Nearly every car has one of these and it is really surprising there aren't more motor accidents with these distractions.

video

We only had a short wait before we boarded the boat for our nighttime tour of the Han River. All the bridges are lit up and with the lights along the bank, it is really pretty.After the boat ride, we walked around the park for a while. It was packed even at 11pm. We bought a kite. I haven't flown a kite since I was a kid. It was fun.

On the way home, Yoon teacher's husband let me drive his brand new car. It was kind of nice to get behind the wheel again. It still had that new car smell.

P.S. Blogger added a new feature to allow pod casting (videos built into my blog posts). Yeah, no more linking to YouTube (YouTube, I love you). It really cleans up my posts when the video can match the text.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite nighttime view? Stars? Buildings? Moon?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Birthday Celebration

My birthday isn't until Monday but it is hard to celebrate a Monday birthday so we celebrated today. Several packages and cards arrived in the mail. After work, we went to dinner in Itaewon and Chef Meili's. It is an Austrian restaurant that had delicious cream sauces with their meat and side dishes of spatzle. We had an Austrian wine and then friends from church gave me a cake. It was a delicious dinner.

After dinner, we went to my favorite Salsa club...Macondo in Hongdae. I must have lost two gallons of sweat. We then went to the Ice Bar to cool off. We rounded off the night at TinPan before I had to call it a night. It was a fun birthday.

What did you do on your last birthday?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where to Start

So much has happened in the last two days I hardly know where to start. I think chronological is best.

Yesterday was the last day of our summer special school. We went back to our 'regular' schedules. That is if regular is 48 hours a week instead of 52. I'm not complaining.

With the end of summer school they decided to film all of the speeches and plays that we had been working on with the kids. They weren't very high quality but I found out from our manager that my boss liked my plays the best. Score one for me! He would never tell me that to my face because that might come off as a compliment but I'll take a second hand compliment.

Bombshell! Our boss will be leaving at the end of September. Apparently, he took a job as an account manager at a bank. Our manager/supervisor who we all like very much will be stepping up into the VP job.

Tensions are running high in the office because three teachers are at the end of their contracts. A little cat fight broke out in the office today. I knew it was only a matter of time. I decided to leave until everything cooled off a bit. One of the downfalls of living, working and hanging out together....eventually you just get sick of the other peoples' company.

I always wonder what people say behind my back. My role in a group of friends is always as the mediator. I always hear both sides of the story as people talk about each other to me. What do they say when I'm not around?? Because of this levelheadedness, my supervisor called me in to talk and ask what the cat fight was all about. As usual it was a lot of little things that just built up over time. Things get on your nerves.

After talking about the fight, he segued the conversation into contract negotiations with me. Yikes! He really wants me to stay. He offered me some time off at Christmas, a pay raise, and only a three month contract (or one of my choosing) so I would stay until the kindergarten graduation. I think he's going to be really disappointed when I tell him I'm not going to stay. He wants to play the game and asked me not to answer right away....to think about it. It is flattering to be thought so highly of. He said that Mrs. Lee thought I was doing my best and that the parents were satisfied with my teaching. (Both pretty lame compliments by American standards but huge compliments by Korean standards.)

Question of the Day: What do you do when people get on your nerves?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lies Perpetuate

A while back, I had the kids write letters to an imaginary pen pal in the States. I sent the letters to my Gram and thanks to her tireless efforts (and my aunt) the pen pal became real.

My class was so excited to have American cohorts to exchange letters with. After reading the American girls' letters they were ready to practice their English skills and write back.





Once they were done writing the letters, I let them draw a picture. Each of them wanted to draw a picture of their new American friend. It was funny because the most overwhelming questions of looks was "What color is her hair?"



Before coming to Korea, I think I was desensitized to the variety of natural hair color that Americans wear. Everyone in Korea has black hair. Some profess that they have really, really dark brown hair, but what is the difference? I always take notice when I'm walking down the street and see a blond Korean (dyed of course). Even lesser tones of brown or dyed streaks of purple really stick out.

So, I guess it is a fair question for them to ask the hair color of their American pen pal. Heaven forbid we get that wrong.




These are some of the letters and the kids' pictures.




What lies have you told lately?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dumbo

Yikes! Problems with my Blogger account. No idea, but it is fixed now. Back to our regularly scheduled posts.

Andy.

I love this kid. He has the most enormous ears. He reminds me of the Disney character, Dumbo the Flying Elephant. He likes to fold his ears inside out and stick the big flaps into his ear canal. He does this so often that he developed a little problem...Cauliflower ear.
He came into class today with his right ear big, puffy and swollen. Almost definitely cauliflower ear. I hope it isn't permanent. He is a cute kid. He just needs to grow into his ears. If it isn't taken care of though there will be a scar on his cuteness factor.

What do you think makes a kid cute? (Cauliflower ear doesn't.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Spice of Life

The pepper, not originally native to Korea, has been integrated into nearly every aspect of the Korean culinary palette. Hardly any dish is reserve from some influence of this spicy treat.

The history of kimchi was drastically altered by this crimson vegetable. Suffices to say, Koreans are hot for them.

The time has come to harvest this year's crop and the sun-dry method preserves them the best...apparently. The sidewalks and parking lots of our apartment complex have been littered with the peppers the past couple of days. The mats help absorb and reflect the sun to ensure faster drying.
Space is a valuable commodity in Korea and people will dry their peppers almost anywhere. I guess I am surprised they tolerate this monopoly of common areas even if only for a day or two. I am surprised they are trusting enough to leave the peppers in public, open to thievery or vandalism. Although...who'd want to steal peppers? So, how do you spice up your life?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trinitea

After church, we went out to dinner to say goodbye to a good friend who will be leaving next week. We tried to eat Greek food in Hongdae but it was closed. We forgot the owner was a Christian and closes the restaurant on Sundays. Since it was a group from church I guess we can't complain.

We ended up at the restaurant next door which served a variety of cuisine from Thai to Malay. It was good though the service left a lot to be desired.

After dinner we went to a tea house called Trinitea (get the play on words and Christian theme?). It was good tea but a little pricey. And they wanted everyone to order a drink or else leave. Strange.

I would love to hear from my readers so at the end of each blog, I'll be posting a related question to spark conversation. If you feel so inclined, please leave me a comment. Today's question: What is your favorite play on words?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Seoul '88

Stupid Tourist Saturday!

I headed across town to Mongchon station on the Pink Subway line (#8). I was planning to go to the museum which showcased prehistoric Korean artifacts and culture. The site was supposedly an ancient fortress with an earthen wall.
When I exited the subway I came face-to-face with the World Peace Gate and main entrance for the Seoul 1988 Olympic Park. I new I would be near all the facilities but I had no idea what would actually be there. I was slightly distracted and took a detour to the Seoul Olympic Museum. The museum was a nice summary of the past Olympic Games. The basement of the museum housed the sports experience hall where you could try out some of the different sports like boxing, weight lifting, horse riding and skiing. All virtual, of course, but fun nonetheless.After the museum I walked around the Olympic park which is actually quite large. I visited the Mongchon Museum, the Mongchon Fortress (or what is left of the earthen walls), and the 88 Garden. It was a warm day but not as hot as it has been. Still plenty warm enough to run through the fountains. When was the last time you played in the fountains?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Reigning Champ

A short while ago, the reigning champ of adult English class set down his crown. After teaching adult class (7:30 to 9pm) for eight months, I am finally finished and I gave up the class to our newest staff addition. I get to go home and actually have a couple of hours to myself before crawling into bed exhausted.

I miss my students. They were a lot of fun, but I don't miss the time commitment.
Tonight, we went out to dinner with all of the adult students and I got to kind of say goodbye. Some of them were feigning shyness.What is something you've given up recently?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Month of Reading

I can't really explain it but August is the month I always catch up on reading. It isn't that I've been inundated with free time...it is more than I go on several months of minimal reading and decide it is time to get back into this favorite pastime.

I finally finished reading Devil in the White City. This historical fiction follows two story lines as they intertwine at the Chicago World Fair. Definitely a good read for all you history buffs out there.

Of course, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I feel a sense of finality and conclusion now that JK has finished the series. I loved all seven of the books. Things didn't turn out quite like I expected (JK was brutal in the killing of characters...bad and good).

I read The Rule of Four. As far as grail mysteries go it was just so-so. But it was a fast read and I didn't have to think to much to digest the book.

I just finished Mirror, Mirror. Gregory Maguire's best book is Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister but Mirror, Mirror becomes second in my opinion pushing Wicked into third place. The book gives the back story to the Snow White fairy tale making the Disney version ridiculously childish. Maguire is a little bit sex driven in his writing but if you skim over the lewd parts, it really is a good book.

Finally, I just started reading The Aquariums of Pyongyang. It is the memoirs of a refugee from North Korea.

I think my reading selections are quite diverse. Eclectic tastes. What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Independence Day

A day off work as we celebrate Korean independence from Japan. They didn't really gain independence on August 15, 1945 as they were divided in two to be controlled by Soviets and the Americans.

I guess we are just celebrating the lifting of Japanese rule which was arguably brutal for nearly half a century. Thank you America!

Check out this slide show of Korea's history. It is captivating.

It has been raining here....a lot. The North Koreans are dealing with massive flooding and have called for international aid. Floods all over in South Asia and Korea...and back home in Montana the state is burning up with numerous wildfires. Certainly makes life interesting.