Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tuttle Update

1) Things have been going swimmingly here in my little patch of Seoul. Classes are going along quite well, and in fact I think the fifth graders are actually improving their English in a genuine way. I'm patting myself on the back for that, since I do all the materials and planning for that class. The sixth grade has started coming round again, too, after quite a dull patch in the middle of the semester. The last couple months have seen a real burst of creativity in my lesson planning and new materials.

Next up is two weeks of summer camp, where my themes will be "Around the World" for 3rd and 4th, and "Schoolhouse Rock" for 5th and 6th, which uses the old 3 minute TV songs (the grammar ones) as a starting point.

2) My summer vacation, which begins after camp ends, is nearly sorted. I will spend two weeks in Nepal, basing myself in Kathmandu, with forays to Nagarkot (in the mountains), Chitwan (in the jungle), and possibly Lumbini (birthplace of the Buddha).

3) I just got back from the dentist. I've been going once or twice a week all month, precipitated by some bad tooth pain. On my co-teacher's recommendation, I found a guy in my complex who speaks good English, his office called Samsung Dental. Now, this isn't one of those Samsung or Hyundai places that people name that because they can, this is actually part of the Samsung umbrella. He's done two fillings, and is 3/4 through a thorough teeth cleaning process that has so far set me back 170,000 W.

Sad truth time: my teeth are in pretty reasonable shape. I brush three times a day (always have) and floss regularly (always have). But other than the time my tooth cracked up three years ago, and I got a root canal, I have not set foot inside a dentist's office for over thirty years. As he put it, "You have very heavy calculus that must be removed. Otherwise, soon your teeth will weaken and you will have periodontal disease."

So, I sit in his chair for 45 minutes, under local anesthetic, while he scrapes this stuff off with a metal pick and then goes over the area with some kind of high pressure liquid. He does one quadrant in each visit, and it costs 9,000 W. I have one visit left, although I may be back later if it is decided the crack in my second molar (bottom right), needs to be crowned. Happy fun time it's not, but I'm glad I'm finally getting it done.

4) The World Cup is quite simply at the worst possible place for viewers in the Korean time zone. The US games so far have come on at 7 AM, and I have to leave for work before 8:30, so I have missed the last 20+ minutes--which has been when the real action is. A lot of Big Five action, for those who know what I mean.

The Group G final games air at 1:00 AM tonight, so I plan to get some sleep early, then wake up to watch. Frankly, Ghana-Portugal is more significant than US-Germany, but I'll switch back and forth. You should too.

5) There is no #5.

6) I saw this headline on Huff Post: What your Subway sandwich order says about you, and had to have a look-see. I always get the Spicy Italian or the Italian BMT:

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You're smart, hardworking and driven. Your ambition inspires others and while you're always one step ahead, you're also always eager to help other people find their way. You're just a solid human being.

Yep. That's me, alright.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ROK the Vote 2014

It's Election Day in Korea, with governorships, district offices and mayoral offices up for grabs. Seoul mayor Park retained his seat, but I'm not here to talk about results. Instead, I have some pictures of the canvassing process. The candidates spend oodles of money to get their image (and possibly their policy platforms) into the public eye. Most ubiquitous is the large banner. They block visibility on key intersections, like this one:

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As the election nears, you will see sidewalks littered (a misdemeanor offence, I think) with business card-sized adverts, that you can pull out of your wallet at the polling station in case you forgot who to vote for. The second one is at my apartuh door:

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Occasionally, you find more in-depth treatments of the candidates' positions, in glossy brochures, just about the only campaigning device I'm really familiar with from the States:

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Candidates' canvassers also drive around these trucks, blaring a short message from the man or woman him or herself. Occasionally, the candidate will appear in the truck personally--you can see the handrail there in the second shot.

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They also blanket their gu with brigades of uniformed ajummas to politely entreat pedestrians to put in a showing for their man:

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And as time winds down, the candidate may appear on the street alongside them in a last-minute effort to ROK the vote:

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