Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2019 Sinchon Beer Festival

There isn't really a lot to blog about here, except for readers who might want to keep an eye open for next year's event.


Breweries (lots) and restaurants (a few) set up tents in the street over a couple of blocks near Yonsei University at Sinchon station on line 2. A typical 330 mL beer runs 5-6,000 W and there are some other activities, including music, boutique merchants and games of chance:


It looked a little sparse during the daylight hours, but the crowds really grew after dark as the beer started to flow like … um, winebeer.


Sinchon is a pretty trendy area with neat-o dining spots and just about the only tagging I've seen in Korea outside Itaewon:


Some beer:


The most outrageous food I saw was (drumroll, please) deep fried chicken skins!


Not technically a beer, but I topped off the night with a glass of mead:


Finally, the best photo op of the day:


Monday, September 16, 2019

What Did You Do During Chuseok?

… is the question I will ask every class this week as we return to school from the "Korean Thanksgiving" holiday.

What's that you say, Dear Reader? What did I do during Chuseok? Well, I'll tell you:

On Thursday I went to Gocheok Stadium with pal Adam to watch the Heroes Vs LG Twins.


It was a relatively even game, and the Heroes won 3 - 2 when the Twins pitcher walked the bases loaded, then walked in the winning run on the last pitch, described by Adam as (if you listen carefully to the video)"... in the dirt!"


Below the team is lining up to bow to the fans; afterwards, we sat outside a convenience store in the shadow of the skeleton baseball and shot the bull for a while.


Next, I met up with The Stumbler for some sidewalk beers before having lamb skewers (galbi this time, a new addition to the menu) at Sinjeongnaegeori. Bottle U, our occasional sam-cha, has been renamed "Oh-la-la".


On Sunday, I met up with the usual suspects for an FC Seoul game at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Sangam-dong.


The opponents were Incheon United, and though FCS outplayed them, they managed little penetration until the second half. Here's the PK to give our side the win at 2 - 1, though the team scored a third goal about two minutes into added time.


Finally, the scene while exiting the stadium is quite dramatic, even more so with flashing colors:


So, what did you do during Chuseok?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Some Airport Pics


Visitors to this blog might know that I do love a nice vacation, and I (as mentioned earlier) had a nice one in Cambodia recently. Typically, I share lots of tales, impressions and photos from my time in my chosen spot(s). Having done this for a decade or so (and not having taken along my Nikon and therefore relying on my iPhone camera), I have decided to share pics from the journey rather than the destination.

The photo above was taken at a recently-opened children's play area at Incheon with a Pororo theme. Before boarding a flight, I prefer to get liquored up to calm my nerves as an unenthusiastic flyer, and so I spend some time in the bars and smoking lounges to take the edge off. The first shot is a new instruction at Incheon, and the second is what you have to use to light up in Guangzhou (or any Chinese airport) as they take away your lighters in security. The third is the smoker's lounge at Phnom Penh:


On this trip, I had two long layovers in Guangzhou, which I put up with as it slashed my ticket price to $375 or so. One gets peckish with four hours of waiting time. Curiously, the only meat available seemed to be chicken. Even McDonald's only had chicken. I was a bit taken aback by the menu shots there--um, am I the only one that finds those chicken nuggets suggestively placed next to the tall drink glasses with helmet-shaped lids?


The other restaurant was something like "Dicos" which has a leg quarter that's more or less white meat:


Guangzhou's terminal 2, seemingly devoted to China Southern flights, is quite impressive, while Phnom Penh brags on an awesome public toilet:


Back in the day, your luggage would have a sticker like "MAD" for Madrid, "ATL" for Atlanta-Hartsfield, or "ORD" for O'Hare. Now it's a barcode. But just lately, I've been getting stickers on my bag saying "RFID" no matter what airport it is, and obviously those are for "radio frequency identification":


Mystery … well, not exactly solved, but close enough. Anyway, I'll be staying around Seoul for Chuseok. Happy travels!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Line 9: Together Forever


At least that's what this sign in a station on Line Nine suggests: "Together Forever, Love, Happiness". It's part of a celebration of Seoul's Metro Line 9 having been open now for 10 years. Some long-time readers may remember that I rode a preview ride with Andy and Nick (https://seoulpatch.blogspot.com/2009/05/subway-saturday.html) and my blog post in the day or two after it officially opened (https://seoulpatch.blogspot.com/2009/07/tuttle-rides-nine.html). Ten years ago.

I have seen a couple of other signs in the subway extolling the 10 years of accomplishment, and various statistics of its size and usage.


One thing I've noted that the signs are not so keen on pointing out is that many of the merchants are pulling out of the stations--and not like trains pull out, either. They are closing up shop--I am assuming these companies had a ten-year contract.

Beautiplex:


CU convenience stores:


and bakeries/fast food stalls:


Although the small pocha seem to be sticking around at least for now:


Well, anyway: Happy first decade, Line 9!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Bean's English Camp, Week Two

That glorious day has arrived--summer camp is finished!

It may sound like I hate doing camp, but that's not really what's going on; it's just an added responsibility which entails loads of planning and creating materials, all for fewer than forty kids--not to mention showing up in the hottest, most miserable time of year to teach them, usually solo. But at least the kids are almost always great: while I hear a lot of NETs complain that camp is glorified babysitting, I find the kids want to be here, and like it. And they learn, too! (Again, here's a link to the TeachKorea website where I've posted the materials: https://www.teachkorea.kr/forums/topic/mr-bean-camp/. That's a lot of vocabulary!)

Anyway, here's a quick rundown and mainly pictures of our best craft activities for week two. On Monday, Mr Bean goes shopping, very heavy on vocab. Tuesday is the day they've been looking forward to since the first day of camp, when I showed them the paper models of iconic English things they might get to make (3rd graders did the phone box, mostly, and 4th made Tower Bridge):


One of my favorite camp activities is the "mosaic". Let the campers choose from a few different coloring pages but instead of coloring them, we make colored paper mosaics. Every school I've worked at has stacks and stacks of colored origami paper squares in the supply room. Tear or cut them into smaller pieces and glue stick them onto your coloring page. First is the example I made:


My original plan for the big finale day on Friday, Science Day, was to have pairs of campers prepare and present a simple science demonstration. I realized this was impossible for the third graders, and pretty untenable for fourth graders, even though their English capacity is much, much greater. And, it was just too much effort to chase down the materials. So, I focused instead on a couple of body parts activities, such as labeling, and making the paper cube we didn't have time to do back on Day Two:


After the last campers left for home, the vice principal came along to tell me how the students really enjoyed my camp and thought it was so interesting. This is not something I wanted or needed to hear from her. I have had uniformly positive and supportive relationships with the top administrators at all the schools I've been at in Korea, with two exceptions. And she is one of them. But I don't bad-mouth people on this blog, so I'll stop now. Suffice it to say that I'll be the loudest toaster at her farewell dinner the first week back as she moves on to a new school.

I've gotten out of the habit of writing about the minutiae of school, the politics, etc, and I see I haven't mentioned the episode revolving, or so I thought, around my contract renewal. The day SMOE released contract offers near the end of June, I was told that I would need to do an open class for people from the district office. While some people assured me it was random, I found out the VP (and principal) asked for it. In due course, a lady from a nearby school who introduced herself as a master teacher, along with the head of Gangseo District English Education (who never spoke a word of English in the entire meeting, except to ask me if I could speak Korean), observed a fourth grade lesson. (Those materials are here: https://www.teachkorea.kr/forums/topic/2018-gr-4-ybm-kim-lesson-7-its-under-the-table/#post-2676 )

Afterwards, she listed about ten things I did in the class that were awesome, including things she'd never seen other NETs do--like call children by their names--and frankly wondered why they had been asked to do this observation, since I clearly had run a terrific lesson, and the main activity was "brilliant". The lesson was on prepositions of place, and I created a "brilliant" activity based on Pokémon--Ash and Pikachu will see a Pokémon in different scenarios (it appears for 5 seconds or so), then a box comes up with a sentence to copy into their notebooks. The preposition is a blank for them to fill in, like "It's under the bench." Every other one says "It is …", so they can get muscle memory of It's=It is.

Her only real complaint was that there were "too many" activities. Well, she had to find something, since they came all this way. In fact, the lesson was very much a standard set up: review by singing our "In-On-Under" song, for maybe the third time, followed by a fun team-based warm-up: make a sentence from the picture before The Flash runs through and makes it disappear ("The guitar is in the box."--this also reinforces the grammar point of replacing a noun with a pronoun, as well as calling back previous vocab); then, the textbook material, about ten minutes, and finally Ash and Pikachu. Four. Four activities in a forty minute class. Doubtless, had there only been three, she would have said, "Not enough activities."--again, she had to say something. Meanwhile the Head of English Education for Gangseo District sat there twiddling his thumbs, clearly unable to comprehend spoken English.

I assume her report to the VP mentioned my "brilliant" activities and how grammar points are being reinforced without actually teaching grammar and how the students participated fully and how both my Co and I took care to help anyone who was struggling and the way our hand motions during the song are really TPR (or at least H(and)PR) and the regard we show to the students and etc.

I felt insulted and disrespected that, after more than a decade of exemplary teaching for SMOE, I was required to do a dog-and-pony-show for higher-ups to get my contract. While I still feel disrespected by the VP, it turns out that my contract offer had been sitting in my handler's inbox, but he felt in no big hurry to send it to me since it wasn't due for a couple of weeks. A few hours later, I had my contract ready to be signed. A few days later, he was no longer my "handler".

But even worse than besmirching my teaching, the VP tried to deny me six days (and 2 1/2 hours) of my vacation. I gently pointed out that one week of those days was my so-called "renewal bonus", which did not count against my standard vacation. She sent back that I had already used those days, last August. At this point, I am not happy, as you may NOT fuck with my vacation! Two more messages, a complete print-out of the reporting system, and she conceded I was correct. But what irked me about it was that we had discussed my doing an extra week of camp last summer (MovieMakers: here) and moving my renewal vacation to January. We had discussed it face-to-face.

Then she tried to tell me I would have to use this year's renewal vacation by this August 24, because she and the principal would be moving to new schools. Well, I was using up the last of my current regular vacation days on my trip to Cambodia (those days expire as of August 24th), and couldn't use the renewal then--you're STILL asking me to lose a week of vacation time! With permission--always granted by every administration in my whole decade here--renewal vacation can be used until January 24th of the next year. But but … they are going to new schools, so …

Beyond absurd. I told her it's just a matter of leaving a note for the new admin team--I insisted we have the administrative assistant write down the schedule for winter camp and renewal vacation so there would be no question. Furthermore, there is an on-line reporting system called NEIS where all this information is recorded. I'm tired of her constant hassle and disrespect. But mainly, you may NOT fuck with my vacation!

In spite of these machinations, I have two days of desk-warming next week, then off to greener climes in Cambodia for 10 days hanging on Street 19/172, sipping rum mango smoothies on the beach, etc.