Monday, June 29, 2009

My birthday: an evening with my girlfriend, steak at VIPS, roses, a love motel, and my first bath in almost a year . . . oh baby!

Last week I had my 35th birthday. It's the fifth birthday I've had in Korea and it was the best one so far.

Julianne and I headed out to dinner . . . and to 'get my birthday present' as Julianne put it. I had no idea what she was planning.

To mark the occasion I brought along my camera . . .

Julianne looking beautiful . . .

Sun setting as the taxi driver flies over a bridge . . .

And then we arrived at VIPS.

Julianne and I ordered steak dinners. You also get access to the salad buffet . . .

I was trying to order in Korean and our waiter, a guy in his early 20s, told me he could speak English. Okay . . . thing is, if you don't know what a "potato" is when I'm telling you my side dish selections you might not want to say that . . . lol.

Just for fun I put my camera on the table with the timer on and took some random shots . . .

Steak . . . for $32.00 not bad.

Apparently Julianne likes to put a lot of cherries on her ice cream . . . lol. I went for chocolate syrup.

After VIPS Julianne got us into a taxi and took me to find my present . . . a love motel? Interesting . . . hehe.

The hallways in these places always make me laugh.

Julianne is such a romantic--I had no idea! She put rose petals all over the bed, and had a dozen roses for me too. Wow . . .

I really liked the backless couch in front of the bed. I considered posing "George-style" (think Seignfeld) but forgot to do it later.

Behind the bed were these cool screens that were also back lit.

Most love motels that charge more than 50 or 60 for a night have a big screen TV . . .

. . . Internet . . .

and other amenities like a heated toilet seat and bidet rig . . .

and the piece de resistance: A JACUZZI BATH TUB!!! Oh baby . . . !

Pretty much every foreign teacher that comes to Korea finds themselves without a bathtub in their apartment. It's something that, if you like to take baths, really sucks. I like baths. After being on my feet all day teaching, or walking a lot, it's nice to have a good hot soak.

There are only two places a teacher can generally find a bath in Korea: a love motel, or a public bath house.

Let's just say it was a little surreal to find myself able to take a long hot soak on my birthday--Julianne's surprise was awesome.

In the corner next to the tub was also a shower.

Back in the bedroom I noticed the funky psychedelic multi-color glowing light in the ceiling above the bed . . . lol.

There was one in the jacuzzi tub room too . . . .

Let's just say that Julianne's plan for my birthday really surprised me--and I'm NOT easy to surprise.

I'll finish this post with a pic that I really like because of the shadows and lighting . . .

Not a bad looking ol' geezer for 35, eh?


Saturday, June 27, 2009

A weekend in Seoul rediscovering my soul . . .

Julianne and I are in Seoul for the weekend. While Julianne went to spend time with friends visiting Korea for the first time, I went on a walkabout around the Jogno area . . .

I went by Seoul city hall to take pics of the kids playing in the water fountains that sit on the far corner of the big field in front of city hall . . .

I didn't expect--though now that I think about it I should have--to see such a large riot police presence in the middle of the day . . .

I really like this picture that I got of some girls playing in the water with a squad of riot police in the background . . .

I also checked out some palaces (forget how to spell the names right now) and will post more on them later.

This little cutie walked into the shot I was setting up . . . I couldn't have timed it better.
Back to city hall and having fun in the water . . . maybe too much fun. This little guy at one point was stepping on the biggest jet of water and the spray almost hit the entire squad of police standing in the background . . . I'm not saying he was doing it on purpose . . . but . . .

It was so hot and humid, though, that I get the guys in uniform were HOPING he'd get them wet! I know I would have been . . .
And on that note I'll leave you with the zen master of cooling off in the heat--lol!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Chuncheon really IS surrounded by mountains--and I have pictures to prove it.

I'm sitting here waiting for Julianne to get home from school so we can go eat dinner . . . and since I haven't been blogging regularly in a while decided to put up another post.

Something I still have a hard time believing even after living in Chuncheon for almost 2 years is that the city is SURROUNDED by mountains . . .

This is the view that Julianne and I see from our apartment door.

Mountains . . . everywhere . . .

Every time I go home to Canada it always strikes me how FLAT everything is where I live.

It also strikes me how much geography shapes a culture . . . in Korea vertical thinking is the paradigm. Rank and hierarchy dominate every facet of the culture.

In Canada things are much more horizontal--in the sense that there is a sense of 'equality' that allows for a little more negotiation of power in everyday situations, and less of a focus on rank and social rituals that must be observed between two people of different ranks.

Something I had to hammer home in a cross-cultural lesson I made about 'how to be polite in English' is that North Americans actually DO have a system of rituals and cultural rules for being polite. Many of the Korean trainees in my class had this general feeling that anarchy reigns in English culture, and that there is no respect for rank, etc. It was great for me to see how interested they were in learning about the general rules of politeness for some very common day to day situations . . .

Anyways . . . Julianne should be home soon.


Korean Traditional Porridge -- When you want something light and tasty to eat . . .

Julianne and I went for a walk in an area near our apartment that we hadn't really explored. Julianne has almost been in Korea for a full year but still hasn't eaten Korean traditional porridge . . .

When we saw this place we decided to go in and Julianne could try her first traditional porridge.

I ordered the tuna porridge. It comes with side dishes, and of course, kimchi.

Julianne ordered the pumpkin porridge.

I like to add some of the red pepper sauce and a small helping of beef to mix into the porridge. It tastes amazing with these added elements.

Julianne did the same and also said it tastes better too.

So if you haven't tried Korean traditional porridge yet I highly recommend it.


p.s. I haven't been blogging lately due to calculating end of semester final grades. I'm also in the process of applying for a new job and that's taking up a lot of time too . . . by the end of this week I should be back to blogging more regularly.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WHO 'declares swine flu pandemic'

I was expecting this and thought it would happen sooner . . . WHO 'declares swine flu pandemic' (from the BBC website).

"Hong Kong said it was closing all its nurseries and primary schools for two weeks following 12 school cases."

If they actually do this in Korea I'll fall over dead from the shock . . . . lol.

"One factor which may have prompted the move to a level six pandemic was that in the southern hemisphere, the virus seems to be crowding out normal seasonal influenza."

Flu season in Korea is going to be VERY 'interesting' this year . . .

"WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said it had been expecting something more like the deadlier bird flu.

"It was believed that the next pandemic would be something like H5N1 bird flu, where you were seeing really high death rates, and so there were people who believed we might be in a kind of apocalyptic situation and what we're really seeing now with H1N1 is that in most cases the disease is self-limiting," he told the BBC."

Uhm . . . I guess the up-side of the H1N1 virus being less lethal is that it's giving countries a chance to wake up and make some needed changes . . . if they are paying attention that is.

"Flu expert Professor John Oxford, said people should not panic as the outbreak was milder than others seen in the past century."

I wonder if Professor Oxford could come to Korea and educate the Korean media about this kind of thing . . . and also point out that it's not only foreigners who get H1N1.


One of my all time favorite movies, preparing a 3 hour lecture, and Dante's Ninth Circle of Hell

I'm preparing a power point lecture on Romance genre conventions and was thinking about what movies I'll use clips of to spice things up.

One of my all time favorite movies is,

Dangerous Beauty (1998) is a biographical drama film directed by Marshall Herskovitz. It is adapted from the non-fiction book The Honest Courtesan, by Margaret Rosenthal, (also the title of the UK video release), about the life of Veronica Franco (played by Catherine McCormack), a courtesan in 16th century Venice.

Dangerous Beauty, in my opinion, puts Shakespeare in Love a far distant second in terms of historical romance drama movies. The script, the acting, the cinematography--everything is first rate in this movie . . .

Veronica Franco (c.1546-1591)

a poem by Veroncia Franco,

Leave me, foolish ideas and useless hopes

Leave me, foolish ideas and useless hopes
blind, voracious and hot desires,
Leave me, eager ardour -- bitter thoughts,
ever companioned with this ceaseless poison;

Leave me, sweet memories, rough corrosive
chain; even now my heart unshackles herself,
all that's in her welcomes reason's hard curb:
so lost for a time, freedom's a relief.

And you, poor soul, so overwhelmed by fears,
released at last: turn to God; with a seemly
pride restore your mind to what it was.

Compel fate, break the snares, crack fate's wall;
then light, free and nimble you'll simply walk
away from harm into a safer path.

Anyways, I need to get to bed soon as the lecture is tomorrow morning . . . 3 hour lectures!--ugh, whoever created the 3 hour lecture for Korean university EFL classrooms . . . well, they should experience Dante's Ninth Circle . . .

From wikipedia, "Traitors, distinguished from the "merely" fraudulent in that their acts involve betraying one in a special relationship to the betrayer, are frozen in a lake of ice known as Cocytus. Each group of traitors is encased in ice to a different depth, ranging from only the neck and through to complete immersion. The circle is divided into four concentric zones:

Round 1: Caïna, named for Cain, is home to traitors to their kindred. The souls here are immersed in the ice up to their necks. (Canto XXXII)"

Although this might also do the trick . . .


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some teaching videos . . .

I found these videos a few days ago and haven't had time to share them with all the end of semester nutbar stuff going on . . .

They pretty much speak for themselves . . . enjoy.

Teacher Anger Jeopardy

Top 10 Things You Don't Learn About Teaching in College!

Funny Teacher Rant

How NOT to use PowerPoint!

The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Educators Screener

Monday, June 8, 2009

If you want to produce content on the Internet learn to play with big boy rules . . .

Wow . . . I must have really hit a nerve with cranky-pants Stafford at the Chosun Bimbo with his rather self-illuminating rant about my post on Seoul Podcast #57: Under Quarantine . . . Stafford didn't just write a blog about it, he re-posted it to facebook AND twitter, lol. WHOOO!

Here's the thing boys and girl--because that's what you're acting like--if you want to increase your audience for the Seoul Podcast then grow up and learn to expect that bloggers and Net surfers are going to make positive and negative comments and criticisms about your podcasts.

Before putting up my post about "#57: Under Quarantine" I sent out emails to Brian Dear, Joe at Seoul Podcast, and Rob at Roboseyo. Rob is the only one who bothered to reply (thank you!). I won't say what he wrote because it's not my place to do that. If he chooses to weigh in on this that is his choice.

I tried to challenge my impressions and opinion of the pod cast. I tried to get more information. I tried to directly contact Joe and got no reply. I tried to contact Brian Dear and got no reply. I tried to find information that would challenge the content of my post about the pod cast--and after trying to do this I decided that I felt in my gut that I wanted to put my opinion out there, and I did so.

The really fantastic thing about how the people at Seoul Podcast have been responding to my post about their show is how they're doing such a bang up job of painting themselves as . . . well, you decide.

From a comment on Stafford's rant about my post,

"You don't really pull any punches, do you? I still think one of you two slept with his girl and that's why he clearly hates us, and yet seems to listen to every episode, taking notes. 'Fess up!"
Good Jen the Delicious

Now there's a classy thing to say . . .

Oh, and just to clarify: I don't listen to your show regularly. I've only listened to four pod casts, and for that small number I could only handle listening to ONE in its entirety.

Why I don't listen to your show,

1. I don't share the sense of humor of the hosts.
2. I don't find the questions asked interesting or intelligent (albeit I've only listened to 4 pod casts--Stephanie White's pod cast is exempt from this observation, that show was excellent).
3. It's long and boring.
4. Listening to people in a c***le-jerk is about as much fun as listening to Stafford's m** . . . fill in the rest.

Stafford apparently feels a wee bit of insecurity in his post because at the start he tries to establish the credibility and authority as bloggers and podcast personalities for the hosts of the show,

"Collectively we have over 20 years of experience living and teaching in The Republic of Korea. We are all teachers of English as a Second language and the three of us either have or are actively pursuing postgraduate qualifications in the field. (Some of us for a second time)."

He then goes on to try to establish even more credentials . . .

"In addition Joe has a number of years experience in Radio (Not to mention TV) in terms of production and research, Jennifer is a veteran of more than one Korea related podcast and I myself am no stranger to "The Studio" having done voice-over work over a number of years as well as doing some production work for a radio talk back station back in New Zealand."

It strikes me as a little odd that somebody who is arguing that the Seoul Podcast's style and production mode is not about being professional . . . goes out of his way to illuminate professional credentials . . .

Even Brian jumps back into the c***-jerk-let's-point-out-how-smart-and-professional-we-are-to-everybody . . .

"If anyone has problems with the lack of "professionalism," then they are invited to make their own show and let the marketplace of ideas be the judge. The show isn't unlike a fun morning drive show, but luckily with an exponentially higher IQ."

Wow . . . using this "higher IQ" 'logic' (cough, hack!) this means that any time a person criticizes a performance of any kind they should shut up or do something better? This is grad school PhD-syndrome at its worst: 'If you don't have a PhD you can't have an intelligent thought or express an opinion of any value.'

Stafford goes on to say, "So in terms of our little hobby, "The SeoulPodcast" you might say we're doing pretty well and we know what we're doing."

No, Stafford, YOU might say that--other people can come up with their own opinions thank you very much. This is not your classroom, and you are not our teacher. In the big boy world people choose what they listen to, how they respond, and then form their own opinions and voice them according to how they see fit.

It seems like Stafford is having a bad case of cognitive dissonance: he wants people to listen and comment, but he doesn't want people to listen and comment if it's critical--but he wants people to listen . . .

Woe betide the Seoul Podcast listener who posts a comment that blasphemes Stafford's Ten Commandments with the blasphemers being subject to 'punishment by rant.'

Behold, I give to you . . .

Stafford's 10 Commandments

I am the Lord your Pod.
You shall have no other pods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an opinion (especially a critical/negative one).
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your Pod.
Remember the Stafford and keep it podly.
Honor your Jen and Joe.
You shall not criticize.
You shall not commit anti-SeoulPodcast-ultery.
You shall not have an opinion of your own.
You shall not speak against your K-neighbor.
You shall not covet Stafford's toys.
You shall not want anything that belongs to Stafford's playground.

The paradoxical truth here is that Stafford and Co. probably would vociferously state that they are not trying to censor opinions about their show--sorry mates, results speak for themselves.

Consider the following,

Bill Maher & Dennis Miller - Free Speech vs Political Correctness (2002)


Dennis: Is that just censorship or is it disapproval? And do you not censor their right to disapprove--
Bill: --your right to disapprove, but if you're saying, you know what, my opinion is so important, my my my -- I have such a high opinion of my own opinion . . . that that, if you disagree with me you can't be heard . . yes, then it rises to the level of censorship . . ."

Stafford . . . why do you have a problem with people voicing their opinions about the Seoul Podcast?

If there was no merit to my comments, questions, and criticisms you'd think that there'd be nothing to react to. Your reaction is so disproportionate to the situation itself that it begs the following question: what is your real problem here?

"There has been some consternation, nay ructions, from some quarters as to the professionalism of what went on during the recording of number 57."

I never once mentioned the word "professionalism" . . . so if you choose to run and follow Professor Blabbered off on his rant and take things out of context from my original post be my guest . . .

And, "Anyway, it was mooted that some of the other recent quarantine graduates should be called to seek their reaction."

I find it interesting Stafford doesn't really take into consideration that not all the people participating in the recording agree with his take on things . . . in fact, they might say (though far be it for me to speak for them) something like this,
Foreigner Joy said...

I can see how you didn't jive with that part of the show. I felt kind of sorry for the guy. To me it sounded like the experience of the quarantine left him paranoid. While I was on I didn't really know what was going on...but I think they were just trying to get a sample of people experienced with the whole thing.

Stafford goes on to say, "The "Rationale" of cold calling people for comment, live on air is a standard practice for radio and TV (and I guess Podcasting) and has been since time immemorial."
Uhm, Stafford . . . maybe you should rein in the hyperbole a bit, eh? "time immemorial"? LOL!

Finally, considering the lack of general language ability in Korea for hogwan directors and supervisors to understand linguistic subtleties like ONLY using the foreign teacher's first name and not his whole name the following point is rather specious,

"The Hosts of The SeoulPodcast are equally cognisant of people's right to privacy and the implications of appearing on the show in relation to work and backlash from employers. Indeed, later in Number 57 Joe audibly stops himself from mentioning a school and the rest of he panel agrees that it's sensible in this case not to mention the school."

If this does somehow get back to the teacher's workplace do you really think they'll care about splitting hairs if it bothers them?

Finally, I'll finish with . . .

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

Come on Seoul Podcast--being talked about is good whether or not you agree with what is being said, and whether or not it feeds your vanity.

"Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing."
Oscar Wilde

Don't we all have better things to do than blog-rant about this? I know I do.

"I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine."
Fritz Perls

You do your thing, I'll do mine. Just remember to wear a raincoat when I'm doing my thing cause you're gonna get some on you . . . lol.

“You can think I'm wrong, but that's no reason to quit thinking.”
Dr. Gregory House

Think about it . . .


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Seoul Podcast: Interview with Brian Dear and Foreigner Joy -- phone call to a recently freed quarantined teacher: funny or in poor taste?

I'm in my office waiting for my next oral interview test and listening to the interview Seoul Podcast did with Brian Dear (who just got out of quarantine for H1N1) and Foreigner Joy . . . oh yeah, Roboseyo was there too.

During the interview Brian mentions that he has a few phone numbers of other people he had been in quarantine with . . . the idea is suddenly put forth that they should call them while doing the interview . . .

Nobody questions whether or not this is a good idea . . . though Rob did suggest that Brian be the one to start the phone call . . . I think he realized that what they were doing might freak the person out if an unfamiliar foreign voice suddenly called out of the blue . . .

Imagine you're the person they call. You only recently arrived in Korea, and just got finished dealing with what I imagine was a pretty stressful introduction to Korea: being put into quarantine for H1N1.

Imagine that you've been worried about your job and its security. Imagine that you're still under a microscope at your workplace to see if you're sick. Imagine that your workplace is paranoid about any negative media attention.

Imagine that if your name appears in the media and your workplace gets angry about it that you could lose your job through no fault of your own . . .

Imagine you're out and about with friends trying to get a feel for the country, and discover some semblance of comfort and trust with your surroundings . . .

Imagine that this guy you barely know calls you out of the blue, and tells you you're on a podcast without asking if you want to be interviewed, and without any kind of warning or giving you a chance to say yes or no to being interviewed . . .

The thing that gets me about this is that the people involved all seem to be good people--so what gives?

I stopped listening to the podcast after this because I'm pretty disappointed (again) with the lack of respect that this person was shown during the phone call . . .

I'm curious what rationale might be offered that makes calling this person justifiable (especially with no warning or explanation of what was going on--when you're new to the country how can you have any understanding of what Seoul Podcast is, and who listens to it, etc? Answer: You can't.), and I'm also curious if anyone asked the teacher for his permission to put him on the podcast recording and then publish it on the Net . . .

From the podcast,

A: "You're on with the Seoul Podcast right now, we're doin' an intervew, and they wanted to talk to you about the pig flu thing . . ."

Here are the responses given by the teacher . . .

B: "Wait, who talked to you?
B: "Are you bullshitting me?
B: "Oh my god ..."
B: "This is not amusing . . ."
B: "I have no idea what you guys are talking about, and I hear laughing, so you guys are just fucking around, so . . ."
B: "Yeah, I don't know who you guys are so . . ."

Lastly, the podcast did not BLEEP OUT THE TEACHER'S NAME . . . seriously, what the hell is going on?

Not impressed . . . it's one thing if you choose to go on the show, choose to put your name out there, and choose to broadcast personal info about yourself . . .

It's quite another thing when it involves foreign teachers who have not been given full disclosure about what the show is, what the purpose of the recording and interview are, and what will be done with their participation . . .


Steve Martin and learning English pronunciation -- Somebody has to make a Korean version of this, lol.

Jason: Are you cold?
Student: Uh?
Jason: Are you cooooolllld?
Student: Uhhh?!
Jason: Are you c-o-l-d?
Student: AH! CORD! Are you CORD?! Hahahahahah . . . No, no cord.
Jason: (sigh) Good . . .

I think someone should make a video of the common pronunciation errors for Korean students, and make it a comedy. It could have the foreigner speaking Korean words, and then a Korean speaking English words to make things fair to both sides of the pronunciation fence . . .

Here's Steve Martin--as a Frenchman--trying to 'speak like an American' . . . something Koreans want to do too, and perhaps shouldn't want . . .

Shawn Dawson TV -- "I need to get me an iknife" -- Think Iphone applications--FUNNY!

Bored, nothing on TV, tired but not enough energy to do anything . . . decided to surf youtube . . . . and saw Shawn Dawson TV--FUNNY!

The "iknife" and dude in drag bits are hilarious . . .


Update: This is funny too . . .

Choose torture option number two--I was howling in my apartment . .. lol.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Go see a movie this weekend -- movie times and locations in South Korea in English

Go see a movie this weekend . . . and help this website grow-tell your friends about it, and especially tell newbies to Korea about it.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Understanding North Korea 's antics: Kim Jong-un needs a 'rep'

Here's my theory about the North Korean bullshit . . .

Consider the current situation, N Korea 'names Kim's successor' (BBC) . . . and the missile nonsense.

Kim Jong-un is a NOBODY. Kim Jong-un is going to be the new big man in NK--but globally he's a NOBODY . . . see where I'm going with this?

NK is using the missile launches to force everyone to watch NK as they throw Kim Jong-un's coming out ball (not the gay kind, rather the 'entry into high society'--not that he'll be hobnobbing any time soon with the world's elite, rich, and famous) . . .

Once the USA and other countries are all watching the coming out ball and the NOBODY gets to have his 15 minutes of fame to establish himself (at least in NK's eyes) as a global playa . . . and to point out his 'gangsta cred' (I'm guessing they might try to paint the missile launches as his idea) the whole situation will die down as long as the US allows the NOBODY-boy to enter discussions about nukes and all that jazz . . .

That's my theory.