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With respect to the new video by T-ara…

Didn’t Girls’ Generation already do this Barbie doll thing?

And, for that matter, didn’t N*SYNC do it, too? (Granted, with strings attached)


The Doll Thing Returns

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Dance Party USA, Korea, music

 

Photo Update – May 2012

I guess I’ll post some photos! Lemme start with some of my students at Avalon:

Guess what this kid’s English name is?

Lynn with the Double Peace

Apparently, John has TKD academy before English academy.

Harry is the most formal little kid

Iris conducting her oral presentation.

Also, I’ve been playing late-night basketball once a week at a nearby college. The guys are pretty good. That’s more than I can say about my photography when I was sitting out a game. But here are the best ones I could grab with my phone camera!

Min goes for a block

Some guy slashing

Can’t deny the follow-through!

Had to showcase this guy’s shorts.

Lastly, I shaved everything except the mustache. Before the job was complete, though, I took a shot using the bathroom mirror. And with that, I say, have a nice day!

It doesn’t look as ridiculous as I thought it did!

 

Tightening The Belt

Payday is Thursday, May 10 and I couldn’t be more…expectant. Over the last week I’ve been flat broke. I’ve been carefully monitoring my funds the way I should have been doing this entire month. On the weekdays, I’ve subsisted well on cheap kimchi kimbap, enough so that I could splurge on a $14 roundtrip to Seoul and $26 carne asada tacos with the coworkers at On The Border, ostensibly to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

After returning from that excursion, though, it has been all saving. No going out, no beer, no candy…just nothing remotely unnecessary or extravagant. I bought a loaf of bread for under two dollars from the grocery store and I’ve pan-toasted the slices with jam for breakfasts. For lunches and dinners, I finally broke into the 5kg bag of rice the previous tenant left under the sink from a couple of months back. Add a coupla drops of soy sauce to the water while boiling and shower the stuff with black pepper and it makes for a surprisingly palatable meal! I’m proud at how I’ve made it through this cash-tight period. I haven’t asked for any help from friends (granted, I haven’t exactly been volunteering to pay for taxis, either). In fact, if not for Angie insisting that I take some mandu, a bottle of orange juice and a bag of raisins, I will have made it through the last ten days on less than $80. That may not sound like an incredible achievement, but I think it will change my thinking for the rest of the year. I realize that, if I stay responsible, I can save significantly more money than I’d previously planned. Thingsare cheaper here in Korea, but it’s easy to get into the mindset that I can always buy anything I want. But, of course not–things are cheap but they’re not free.

Anyway, I will be buying beer this weekend. Maybe, however, my wallet doesn’t have to open in response to every temptation.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in cooking, dubious accomplishments, Korea

 

Big Little Problems

This week has been a slow one at work, but slow is good. Slow means that there are fewer classes and fewer students in those classes. As a result, the atmosphere is very chill. Since the school doesn’t want us to skip ahead in the textbook with just a minimal number of students, there is more opportunity to create our own lessons, which breaks up the monotony of answering all of the questions on page 10, then page 11 and 12 and so on.

Let me mention that this limited student thing applies to junior high students only; those students are “studying” for midterms at their schools that are given at the end of this month and the start of the next. I could never understand how a middle or high school student could require two weeks to study for anything but, then again, I never studied before college. Unfortunately, this means that the elementary school kids are still coming to English academy in full force and I swear I after this year I will never teach elementary kids again. These little kids actually make me question what sort of father I might be. This afternoon, I found myself in class curling my hand into a fist out of genuine desire to punch one boy in particular. I’ve talked about this before; the teachers, especially the foreign teachers, have no claws at the hagwon. The two forms of punishment afforded to us are detentions and calling a Korean teacher to help. Students can rack up “detention exemption” tickets by the dozens (doesn’t matter because detention is only 30 minutes after class, anyway) so it’s no major deterrent to misbehavior. And the day I call in one of my coworkers to help me discipline a 10-year old is the day I lose all self-confidence. It can be frustrating, is what I’m saying.

So, one might think it’s important to get the parents informed. Angry Asian Dad will get ‘em in line! Get Tiger Mom to round those brats into shape! Teachers are asked to leave comments about student performance and conduct for parents to view. Yet, there are guidelines on writing them and that’s where it gets a little ridiculous. Here are some samples from the Comment Guidelines sheet:

  • “These comments must remain in a positive tone and all negative comments must be either written in a positive light or omitted.”
  • “Personal comment should be 3-4 sentences long addressing the following criteria: classwork/homework (if the student does not do their homework leave out commenting about homework altogether); classroom behavior/participation (use words such as energetic, outgoing and enthusiastic if the child is loud and disruptive, and quiet and well-behaved for shy students).”
  • EXAMPLE FOR A POORLY BEHAVED STUDENT WHO DOES NOT DO HIS HOMEWORK: John is a very energetic and outgoing student and he brings a lot of spirit to class. He is showing proficiency in comprehension and reading. Overall, he has had a very exciting semester and continues to show improvements.”

So, one can imagine how the comment-writing might provide little catharsis after half a semester of dealing with a small child with an attitude. So, bring on the night, I say! Bring on the late classes with a handful of middle school students with a handful of respect and deference and act-right. Because once 6:30pm hits, this school becomes a lot more tolerable.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in B.S., job, Korea, Teaching

 

Cozy Cheongju

Cheongju is broken up into probably more than a dozen different districts. Because of this, the city has a small-town feel despite having a population of over 750,000 people. My district, Sannam-dong, is a perfect example. There is a main drag/commercial area which extends for just four blocks. Veer off of the drag in either direction and you encounter apartments and schools and then you hit the highway and you’re pretty much on your way to the next district over. 10 different coworkers of mine live within a 5-minute walk of my apartment. Mr. Jang, who runs the neighborhood market, can see the front door of my building from his store; I feel like I have to watch out for him whenever I return home with bags from a different grocery store. Because Saturday was a rainy day and people stayed close to home, the coziness was magnified. I left the apartment for only 90 minutes during the daytime, but during that window I saw two coworkers and a student of mine, each at the cafe separately. From the cafe window, I saw another coworker exit a taxi–still dressed in her clothes from the night before (you go girl!)–and walk toward her place. That’s the one that made me realize there’s no privacy in a small place like this. Walking home–just one block away, mind you–I ran into a fourth coworker. Is it possible to get cabin fever with regards to an entire city?

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2012 in dubious accomplishments, Korea

 

My Bicycle Post

Goddamn this WordPress. I just spent 45 minutes making an incredible post about my new bike and my coworker’s tattoo and the greatest modes of human transportation. It had photos and everything! But when I hit “Publish” (not delete!), everything except the title disappeared. Fuck, I don’t want to write it again right now but I’ll certainly write this. Very upsetting. I was so happy about it, too.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in B.S.

 

Easter Sunday BBQ

We had an Easter Sunday BBQ in Sannamdong. I grilled two mackerels and the others put together some vegetable and chicken kabobs. Chatted and listened to Sublime and Bob Marley while the kids and teenagers spent time in the park.

Good weather, good food and good people. Great way to spend an afternoon!

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in cooking, friends, Korea, straight cash

 
 
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