Friday, May 31, 2013

Must Be A Korean Thing

I'm not much of a reblogger, or whatever it is, but I found this amusing, so I thought I'd let it take up some space in the Patch:


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

School Samgyupsal Party

Following my "re-contracting interview" yesterday, the principal informed me there would be a samgyupsal party on the school rooftop at 3:30. Here's the view that greets you:

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Pandora's Garden, the sign says, the name chosen in a student competition. What it is, is a garden tended by the principal and some volunteers, with boxes specified for the various teachers--they are expected to come up to the roof periodically to harvest Nature's Pandora's bounty. Here's my little piece of Earth with a view:

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The occasion for the samgyupsal party was unrelated to my re-contracting interview. It mostly had to do with yesterday being a really nice string day, and the planting boxes starting to bear. The samgyupsal was cooked in regular frying pans instead of griddles that can drain off the oil, so those who cooked needed to soak up grease with paper towels.

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Here's a pic of the scene on the rooftop at Yangmyung Cho. That's the VP poking her face in at right.

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Monday, May 20, 2013


Snapped this on Saturday morning, coming home from teaching my Public Speaking class. Cool.

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Crazy Korean hat in the wild. I have a couple other blog posts of caps in captivity, look here, here and here.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Recent Reading

  • In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith - Yet another wistful visit to the Botswana of Mma Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies Detrctive Agency, and her new husband, Mr JLB Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. The story told here continues the arc of the lives of the above-mentioned, with interesting, if non-sinister, twists, such as the usurpation of Mr JLB Matekoni's old home as a speakeasy.
  • Cause Celeb by Helen Fielding - A young publicist, spurned by her 'Famous Club" lover, devotes four years of her life to running a refugee camp in a war-torn region of sub-Saharan Africa. An impending crisis magnified by bungled NGO bureaucracies causes her to return to London to ask the celebrities she once for their assistance. At once a piercing indictment of charity "events" and convincing plea for recognition of the troubled political situation that leads again and again to mass starvation in this part of the world.
  • Eleven Days by Donald Harstad - Solid police procedural about a gruesome murder spree with Satanic overtones in a sleepy Iowa backwater. Ex-cop's first novel may have some trite elements, but his believable characters--on both sides of the law--suggest this is a name to watch the publisher's lists for.
  • Bangkok Bob and the Missing Mormon by Stephen Leather - Bob Turtledove is an ex-pat who runs an antique shop in the City of Angels--aka, Krung Thep or Bangkok. Some time ago, he set up a website for his shop with a Q&A section; some requests are easy, some are hard. A Mormon youth has gone missing, around the time of a disastrous bar fire in a seedy district of Bangkok, and the boy's parents plead with Bangkok Bob to find their son. Regular visitors to Thailand will recognize many of the names, places and environments described in the story, and probably decide never to become an English teacher there. Fair enough.
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  • Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm - I never think of a tourist guidebook as a Bible--but if I had, I certainly wouldn't do so after reading this NON-FICTION account of Mr Kohnstamm's sixty-two day stint writing/updating the LP guide for the Brazilian hinterland. A story of drinking, drugs and deceptions, it throws into doubt any single fact you may read in any guidebook ever (except perhaps Arthur Frommer's rather staid tomes). As to the title question, 'Do travel writers go to hell?', I think the answer is that they probably should, but they're so hung over they miss the bus.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

School Sports Day 2013

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We recently had Sports Day at my school, which in the States would doubtless be called "Field Day". Which is what I told the Principal when he asked me if we had anything like this in America. At The Heritage School, it takes up the better part of a week, and is called "Jubilee". At Oak Mountain Academy, it is organized and run by the senior class as their Last Hurrah. The Greeks did it in the nude. Anyway, at Seoul Yangmyeong Elementary School it begins with calisthenics, as seen above. There were flag-waving cheer groups, as seen below:

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Each grade gets a tee-shirt with a specially designed symbol, and classes within the grade compete against each other in one event. By and large, the events were pretty standard. Some classes did a simple foot-race:

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Others did a relay race, cheered on by other classes:

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The sixth grade did a tug-o-war. First, they were marched by their homeroom teachers to their spots along the rope:

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Then they had to pull:

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The second grade event was a new one on me. Each class had a barrel full of bean bags. They had a set amount of time to toss as many bean bags as possible into a suspended basket. I think, though, the construction hat is a bit of Health and Safety Gone Mad.

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For comparison, check out last year's Young-il Sports Day.