Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kissing makes babies

...and all that jazz!

I handled my first case of inappropriate touching in the classroom today (except, of course, for dong-chim, because it's standard to let that shit slide). The issue was with my pre-K students, 5- and 6-year-olds. It's a small class of 9 children, but they need individual help, so I trust them not to burn the classroom down for several seconds at a time. I came back around the table to help a boy and wondered for a moment why I hadn't noticed he was left-handed before. It was because his right hand was in a girl's tights. Well, hell. This isn't in the teaching manual!

I told him to stop, moved his chair further from hers, and kept a closer eye on the two of them for the remainder of class, telling him to stop as necessary. I told the kid not to do that at school but didn't want to punish hiim, yell, or otherwise give the kid a complex about touching girls. After class, I notified the teacher who acts as the go-between for the native and Korean teachers that someone needs to talk to these kids, someone who isn't me.

I'm hoping this was the right action to take. Have you other teachers dealt with this before? How did you handle it? (Now the other native teacher is referring to this kid as "The Molester." Sad lol.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"The Stupidest Angel" - Two thumbs up- a laugh out loud read. Love it!

"Slaughterhouse five" - Pretty OK. I recommend it to Vonnegut fans.

John Steinbeck's "The Pearl"- A beautiful little parable. I really enjoyed this one.

Amazon Associates' wonked out formatting - thumbs down.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My new hobby

So my downstairs neighbor smokes in our no-smoking-upon-30,000-won-penalty building. The smoke comes up through the floorboards and wakes me at night. Aside from being fucking disgusting, it's illegal and rude.

At a loss for what to do, I stuck a note on his door, composed with the aid of Google translate, asking him to quit smoking because I'm sick and cannot breathe and it's a no smoking building with signs posted on every floor. I know Internet translators are notoriously bad, so I kept it simple to get the point across and completed it with a stick figure dying of smoke inhalation illustration.

Well, he wrote me back on the back of the same sheet of paper. I can't read Korean, but he's still smoking, so I guess the reply is obvious. 

So I've taken up late night jump roping just before bed time. It's not as if I can sleep anyway, and it doesn't aggravate my cough any more than the smoke does. And it's not half as annoying as choking someone to death.

He banged on the ceiling a few times but never came upstairs, so I plan to stick with my new exercise regimen at least until I move into the new apartment. Maybe I'll add some jumping jacks, kickboxing, jump squats, and the like to my routine. Any other suggestions?

Edit: From a friend: "the letter reads something like this according to my girlfriend: We are not smokers and we have never smoked in this building. Please don't misunderstand us, but we are not smokers. Also they are moving out at the end of the month."

So wtf with the smoke coming up from my floor, then? And I guess I'll stick to jumping rope during the day. :0/ *Feeling perplexed*

Oh happy day

I get to move into the departing teacher's apartment! I get to move into the departing teacher's apartment! *HAPPY DANCE*

Less than 24 hours ago, I had been seriously contemplating pulling a midnight run.

Over a staff dinner for the departure of two teachers and welcoming one new one (more on that later), the director announced that I'd be moving into the departing native teacher's apartment and said, "Hopefully the new teacher [who will move into your apartment] will be a smoker." Good God, I love Korean logic. I feel really bad for the guy, but that's hugely outweighed by my effluence of joy right at this moment.

My new apartment is in the same building, two floors down, and the window faces east, so it will be a lot cooler than this one in the summer. And there's no mold! Or smoke! And the toilet works! And there are sheets! I'll be leaving a lovely view of a junky neighborhood, two windows on adjacent walls that allow a nice breeze when it's nice out, enough mold to condemn any building in a developed country, and an asshole neighbor downstairs who smokes like a chimney, and hopefully the resulting swollen tonsils and hacking cough that consumes the first half hour of my day.

Based on the departing teacher's departure date, I could move in as early as Monday. Which means I need to start packing now. I took this picture a few minutes ago:

Back to the departure of two teachers and arrival of one. One Korean teacher left this week and one arrived. One native teacher leaves after tomorrow and...three of us remain to cover a workload better suited for five or six teachers. Super! The new native teacher doesn't arrive for at least two weeks.

It is physically impossible for us three to teach all the classes- and the director even changed the schedule so I'd have to teach two different classes to two different grade levels at the exact same time. I informed the appropriate person that I could try to bilocate, but it might be messy. The schedule has since been amended, but there are still six classes throughout the week that the director will probably have to teach. Poor kids. She's hard.

It will be a rough couple of weeks, but I'll at least be able to sleep at night, and I expect that to make all the difference in the world.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jimjilbang fun

Or "Hand check!"

I picked this up for 1,000 won and just have to share.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Shanghai Girls

This is the story of two sisters sold into marriage, trying to escape Shanghai as the Japanese invade. I liked some of this book, but not enough to say I enjoyed it overall. *Spoiler* There's a pretty graphic rape scene early on, which really bothered me. Most people have no problem reading depressing fiction because it's fiction. The book is fiction, but that event is not. It happened to many people and still happens. :0( Anyway, the descriptions of the setting are very vivid, which is great. But the ending feels so unfinished. :0/ I'm not going to recommend this book to anyone.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Space-time continuum relevance at work

After observing another teacher's class this week, our director instructed him to spend more time focusing on the storybook without sacrificing time spent on the workbook. As our classes are set at a very strict 40 minutes with no room for adjustment, the teacher wondered if the director totally lacked a grasp of physics and how the space-time continuum works.

But I speculate that the director is instead so advanced as to understand time is only a human construct, little more than a figment of the imagination, and so she is pushing us teachers to break free of the esatablished laws of the universe and strive for enlightenment.

You never know.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Field trips FTW

A few weeks ago we had a field trip to "Bugs Camp," a pavilion out in the middle of about nowhere (next door to soon-to-be-soup dogs in cages) displaying lots of dead bugs and two live types. Our driver got pretty lost along the way and made a harrowing 17-point turn around in a crowded street.

Once we got there, it was awesome. The presenter had a bin full of Japanese rhinoceros beetle larvae, giant maggotty-lookin' things as big as my palm, and a cage full of the beetles, which are popular as pets in Korea. (boooo-ring, imo.) From the moment they saw them, the girls did not stop screaming, and I couldn't stop laughing. It's a lucky thing the Korean teachers kept everyone in line, because I was too much in stitches to be of any use.

The presenter held up one of the larvae and talked about it, then offered the students the chance to touch it. They recoiled and began volunteering the teachers, myself included. *Shrug* What the hey? So I reached out to touch the nasty wriggling thing, and just as the tip of my finger made contact, the presenter jerked his hand to scare me. The kids were howling. Smug bastard. Later one of the girls kissed one.

Next he pulled out the beetles for the same routine, this time putting them on students' shirtsleeves. I wore a jacket, so I was game. Then the beetle peed on another teacher, leaving a wet stain on his only shirt. As much as I ought to have felt sorry for him, I was only glad it wasn't me.

Lunchtime was the best part of the day. The students' moms all pack their lunches for field trips, but each mom packs enough food for her child to share with two or three friends. So 25 to 30 students multplied by food enough for 3 is a whole lot of cookies and fruit that their moms don't want to see come home.

The native teachers are used to going out for lunch since being banned from eating at school, so we had brought no provisions. Luckily our director had provided us with fake crab salad on soggy white bread sandwiches. We gave up after a few bites and the Korean-American teacher declared it time to steal food from the kids.

We started by trading them our sandwiches and soon progressed to asking nicely, taking food when they weren't looking, and finally taking food from their hands because they thought it was funny. And so did we.

Next week we're going to Everland. I'm not sure how since it is 2 hours away without traffic and we only have a 5-hour time slot to go, but that's not my problem. I just show up and get on a bus. I'm really psyched for it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reading maniac

This is a memoir from the founder of Virgin Records, Airline, etc. and took about an hour to read. I give it one thumb down. It has all the same old positive cliches you'll find in every self-help book, the difference being that this one is entirely unrelatable, coming from a man so disgustingly successful in life as to lack any failures to write about whatsoever except the equivalent of a 9-year-old's lemonade stand.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but everyone has such good things to say about these books. Our school library happened to have it as well as many other unexpected literary classic and must reads, and there's not a chance any of the elementary students would miss it, so I borrowed it.

I really enjoyed the book and pored through it in less than a week, though it didn't live up to the hype I've read and heard regarding it. And I'm not sure if I'll seek out the other two books in the series. I want to see the movie, too, but more for Daniel Craig than any other reason.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Took a bus from Ansan to Wonju, where I met friends who gave me a ride to the beautiful Ganhyeon Resort where we camped this weekend in celebration of May 1 (Beltaine). The site was a fantastic sandy beach alongside a stunning blue river that was just a bit too cold for our original plan of skinny dipping. Maybe next time.
Five of us set up camp Saturday afternoon, and then two went into town for groceries and our sixth friend, who had been directed to Daejeon by her well-meaning coworkers and arrived pretty late. We three left behind gathered wood, dug a pit, and got a nice fire going... and then proceeded to wait several hours while the car party got hopelessly lost. They stopped to ask for directions, and a very helpful, VERY drunk old man insisted on piling his family into his car Mexican-style and leading the way back to camp.

Eventually, we had food and drinks and fun conversation, though the wind was a bit too fierce for naked campfire dancing. Maybe next time. It was a bit cold last night, but we each took a stone from the fire to bed with us to keep our feet and bellies warm.

Anyway, the place was gorgeous, if difficult to find the first time. We camped far back from the other families, so we had some privacy at night, though a lot of extra company during the day. On the way into the valley, there are lots of restaurants, convenience stores, karaoke, and rock climbers, but we left that all far behind. I really want to go again when it's warm enough to swim, because just look at that water!

I can navigate if anyone's interested. *Hint hint*

From the Wonju Bus Terminal, take the main road out of town with the terminal on your right. Follow the signs to Ganhyeon, each of which will have a different Romanization on it, so I hope you can read Korean. A lot of the signs are paired with "Oak Valley" signs, too, most of the way. Make a right just before a great big concrete bridge (You may not see the sign because it's inches behind another sign) and you'll cross a bridge. Keep going and bear right when the road forks. Go under a weird, tight, concrete bridge, and there will be a poorly labeled entrance kiosk on your right. We followed the road from the parking lot as far as possible, walked over the last bridge, and lugged our gear to the farthest stretch of beach on the far side of the river. A nice spot that will flood badly if it rains.