Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for July, 2008

The crappiest teaching day ever….

Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2008

Today was the start of my second English camp for this summer. This one is at my school, for the earlier part of the day. 90 mins for 1st grade middle school and 90 mins of second grade middle school. I had my lessons outlined, had my powerpoint, handout, etc, then it went kaput.
First of all, I get to the school, and there’s massive construction going on. I knew they were going to renovate the bathrooms, but there is literally a HUGE hole where all the bathrooms in the main building were. You would be able to be in the 4th floor bathroom and then fall all the way down to the first floor without hitting anything. Yeah. Major.

Then I open up my files, and the printer wasn’t working. I try the next printer, and that wasn’t working either. (Yes, I did turn on the main power strip, checked to see if it was plugged in, etc) So I head to the class without any handouts, thinking that I would be able to show them to the kids on the computer/TV and they would be able to read it. I get to the class, and the computer is broken. kaput. Alright. I’m a flexible teacher, so I get out my chalk pen and start to write. No chalk was coming out. Try a couple other pens, no dice. I go back to the first pen, fiddle with it, and it explodes. Liquid chalk everywhere. After cleaning, I managed to coax out a dribble of chalk, enough to write with.

After my break, I managed to print out some handouts, and I was told that the second classroom had a working computer. Which was great, but I printed out the handouts anyway. It was good that I did, as yes, the computer worked, but the main screen showed everything UPSIDE DOWN. I mean, come on!!! Back to the chalk pens.

Plus, the first class was a LOT weaker then I was told…which did not help. Going from teaching at an English immersion class the day before, it was a weird adjustment.


Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, computers, english, EPIK, Humor, Incheon, Korea, teaching, teaching english, Tech | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Back in Bupyeong

Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2008

The past week I was in Gangwa-do for the Bukbu district English camp. This was a sleep-away English immersion camp for 3rd year middle school students (9th grade in the US) where the kids have scheduled lessons or activities (all in English) from 6:30am to about 9pm.
Limited internet access, hence, the lack of updates.
I have to admit, even with the insanely vicious mosquitoes, the constant rain, and one sociopathic nutjob of a (foreign) teacher, it was one of the best teaching experiences in my life. The kids were just so enthusiastic about learning, and were pushing you to teach them… it would be any teacher’s dream to have students like this. In some was, you get spoiled, because after a week of camp, you go back to your school where you have a wide range of students and your can not teach your complex lessons.

And I got to teach drama! There was a performance festival, and I wrote a comic version of “Snow White” for the kids in my class. And we worked on everything from body movement, pronunciation, coordination of a chase scene, narration, etc. It was tons of fun! I forgot how much fun dramas can be.
I like teaching here, but it’s when you run into students like these, it becomes so much more rewarding.

Posted in amusing, Bupyeong, education, english, EPIK, Humor, Incheon, Korea | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

One step forward, one step back

Posted by quirksalight on July 20, 2008

This weekend was the shark dive at the Busan aquarium. With a couple of friends, we were to do a discovery dive in the shark tank at the aquarium. Of course, the most dangerous thing in the tank was us, not the nurse sharks. In the briefing, we were warned about the overly friendly green turtle who associates divers with food. And yes, turtle restraint techniques were discussed. 😛

However, I didn’t end up diving. Two weeks ago, I did a discovery dive in Osan and had a blast. So I signed up for the shark dive in Busan thinking that I wouldn’t have a problem. Unfortunately, I was wrong. We suited up and I already I felt uncomfortable. The wetsuit was too tight in my arms and I was uneasy at the constrained feeling of my upper arms. But, I was excited to do the dive and thought that it would be easier when we’re in the water and actually doing the dive.
With all our gear, we got into the shallow water to go over the basic skills, as it was a Discovery dive. I knew from my previous experience, that the mental adjustment of breathing via the regulator and not breathing through my nose took about 15-30 minutes. And that I would be uneasy during that period.

We’re in the shallow water, with the snorkel, no fins, and breathing through the regulator as we listen to the instructions given by the dive master. And all the time, warning signals are flashing in my brain, telling me that too many things were wrong. Arms constrained, improper breathing, dry mouth, thirst,…. and my fight or flight instincts were triggered. It didn’t help that we were just listening, with no physical activity to distract us. I got up, took off my mask and regulator, practiced some mental focusing exercises, and tried again. And again. The third time the flight instinct became overwhelming, I took myself out of the water, telling the group & dive master that I felt myself hyperventilating and beginning to panic, and decided to stop. When asked if I was really sure, I replied that I would be a danger to myself, others, and the fish in my current state.
I stepped out of the BCG, stepped out of the water, and put my snorkel away. The first thing I did was to pull my upper body out of the wetsuit and I immediately felt calmer. Still, it took about 15 minutes to fully calm down my flight response. Once calm, I sat down to figure out what went wrong, especially when I had a great time two weeks ago. I believe that the addition of the tight wetsuit, plus the long inactive time with the mask and regulator on were the variables that caused the flight response. The inactive time was much shorter the first time around, and I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit either. Another thing I noticed, was that the upper body constraint was the key point, as I had no problem sitting around with the wetsuit on up to my upper chest.

So now what? Waiting for me when I got home were my scuba study manual & documents from Aquatic Frontiers. I still want to learn. I believe that I can overcome the flight response. Why? Because I’ve done so before. Because I HAVE to. The next step is to have a frank discussion with my dive instructor and take each step of the scuba certification course as it comes. It’s going to be interesting.

Posted in adventure, ancedotes, Bizarre, challenges, friends, Korea, musings, Sports, travel | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

First semester wrap up.

Posted by quirksalight on July 18, 2008

The first semester of teaching wraps up today. I must admit, it was an insane crash course in human behavioral dynamics, rather than teaching itself. Each week, I taught 27-28 45 minute classes, with 750-800 students & 5-10 parents in the classes. Juggling languages and diplomacy with the parents, and juggling fun and discipline with the students… it’s been a nutty acrobatics act. Plus the differences in culture, educational systems, and bureaucracy… I think my education on the “Real World” was jump started here, in Korea.
Teaching middle school is pretty interesting, especially here. It’s the same as the US in the way the kids are in the bizarre hormonal flux that happens in your early teens. The difference is that the society is changing here at a very rapid place, and the way schools are set up … observations of a society in flux with a group of people in flux…. hahah… do two fluxes make a right??

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, Humor, Incheon, kids, Korea, Nerdity, Social commentary, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mylar foam blankets rock my world

Posted by quirksalight on July 15, 2008

This past Saturday, I went to Deok-Jeok-do (the “-do” suffix means “island”) for a nice day at the beach with a couple friends. However, as you can see here:

Mother Nature did not take kindly to this idea, as it was raining about 99% of the entire day. (For more Murphy’s law humor, it was lovely on Sunday. [sigh])

The trip was nearly called off, but one of us was about to leave the country pretty soon, and I was in the mood for an adventure. Which, it was, and a highly amusing one, that involved heading to an island with a very rough idea of what we were going to do and how to do it. We knew we were going to take the 9:30am ferry to the island, and the 4:10pm ferry back. The goal was to hit the beach. Even though it was raining, we were still going to head to the beach. And swim. And cavort like a bunch of fools. 🙂

We get to Seopori beach, and even in the misty rain, it’s beautiful. However, the water was rather shallow. We’re in the water at high tide, and we had to walk out meters and meters for the water to be waist level. And it was COLD. We’re in the water, and the rain felt like warm pinpricks along our skin, in contrast to the chilly water. Getting out and standing in the rain was actually warmer!

We’ve got some ridiculous memories of this quickie jaunt, including a very long dithering by two of us on whether we should wear our shirt over our bikinis into the water due to the cultural sensitivities of the locals, ultra fresh sashimi, and a live reproduction of a scene straight out of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

And the mylar? It was intended to be a light blanket to sit on at the beach, but it became an all-purpose weathershield for our gear and our bodies. The water just rolled off it, whatever side you had it. One of my best uses of 2,000 won.

More pics here: Image hosted by Webshots.com
by pictures of Deok-Jeok-do

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, beach, Humor, Incheon, Korea, Nature, outdoors, travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Newspaper censorship – answer

Posted by quirksalight on July 10, 2008

Yesterday I ran into an issue at school over censorship in the school newspaper (see the post here: Newspaper censorship).

And I was left wondering what would be the right course of action. Do nothing, pull the article, or rewrite the article in question.
Well, I had decided it would be better to rewrite the article to remove the inflammatory quotes then to remove it entirely. However, the decision was taken out of my hands as I was informed that the newspaper would be on hold b/c the department wanted to add more articles, book and movie reviews, and get a bigger budget before publishing. To which I pointed out that the news articles in the current article will have much lower relevance if published in a couple months as it was being suggested. Which was noted. That’s it.
The timing is rather suspicious. And annoying, as it’s after I had spent three days to finish the layout, and redo it twice according to the request of the department to only have the work be irrelevant. WTF? Why am I going out of my way to do this?

Posted in ancedotes, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, Incheon, Korea, news, Politics, Social commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Newspaper censorship

Posted by quirksalight on July 9, 2008

To quote a friend: “Welcome to the real world. Things change last minute and are edited for controversy.” The real world making my effin’ head spin.

Specifically, censoring school newspapers.
After teaching a three-week lesson on newspapers, the advanced students in the 9th grade English club began their project; a school newspaper. Assigned reporters, photographers, cartoonists, etc, and had students design a basic layout of the paper.
(Yes, having students write a school newspaper in their second language was a HUGE amount of work – had to spend the three exam days to do to the layout and final edits!!!)

As the biggest news thread in Korea has been the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US and the resumption of US beef imports, it’s not surprising that several of the students chose it to be topic of their editorial cartoons and news article. The problem is, after the newspaper was written, layout completed and the final edit done, it was suggested that the article and one of the editorial cartoons be pulled. The reason was potential controversy. As the article was an accounting for the biggest protest rally on May 31st, I disagreed, saying that the student stated what happened without taking a position. I suggested that we remove an inflammatory quote, but to keep the article itself. It was “suggested” that the article was still potentially controversial, and that *I* rewrite to show the conservative sides.

If I do that – doesn’t that negate the student’s work? I mean, it’s not easy to write a news article, much less do it in your second language. The students worked pretty hard on these and I don’t want to discount that or make them believe that they did crap work. (b.c they didn’t) Also, why do *I* have to rewrite this!??! Argh. Finally, doing this changes the entire article. It’s not a reporting of the events at the protest. It’s an article on the Korea-US beef import and FTA issues.

And this is ENTIRELY separate from finding out that I had to redo the layout and paper size of the paper from B4 paper size and 8 pages to A4 paper size and 4 pages, after it was finished.

So I have to decide to rewrite it sometime during school tomorrow. (Thurs) Will update.

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, Buheung MS, kids, Korea, news, school, teaching, teaching english, US, world news, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Next Door ’08

Posted by quirksalight on July 6, 2008

Next Door is an annual music festival on the banks of the Han River at Hangang Park (close to the Seoul World Cup Stadium). This year, it was June 27 & 28 (Friday and Saturday).
A couple friends and I attended the Friday show this year, with a bit of an adventure to get there. Starting off it was normal; take the bus to Hongik to take the shuttle there. We couldn’t find the shuttle bus. So we walked to another subway stop, asking people about directions on the way. We were told that the closest subway stop was the World Cup Stadium station (TRUE) and that the park was a 15 minute walk from there (FALSE).
But, thinking that it was both true, we went to the station, and started walking. And walking. And walking. Until the sidewalk ended at the expressway with no way to get across. Grr….
Faced with this obstacle, we decided to find a cab. Nope. Nothing available. Walked BACK to the World Cup Stadium subway stop, still no taxis. But, of all things, the shuttle bus to the festival was sitting at the subway stop, just waiting. I mean, WTF?? So we hopped on and got to the Festival over an hour later than planned. But as we saw from the ride, it really wasn’t possible to get there by walking.
The music was fabulous! I really wanted to see a trance group from Israel called “Infectious Mushroom” and we got there about 40 minutes before their set was to begin. This group alone was worth the 20,000 won admission fee (about $20 USD).

end of encore.AVI

More pics and photos here:

Next Door 2008
Was definitely considering attending on Sat, but between Kumdo and the rain, it was too much.

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Bizarre, dancing, festivals, Korea, Music, outdoors | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Scuba! Scuba! Scuba!

Posted by quirksalight on July 6, 2008

I’ve always wanted to learn to scuba dive. And now, I’m going to learn!
I found out about a bunch of dive clubs in Korea, who offer certification packages in English. And they are inexpensive – about $600 USD for to get certified. That includes everything from the books to the trip out to the sea.
But before signing up, I decided to do a “Discover Scuba” course to make sure that I’ll be ok with the breathing underwater bit. Especially since the course was free. It was a couple hours on Saturday afternoon (7.5.2008), with Allen Rivera from Aquatic Frontiers. It was also a good way to check out the club and the instructor (I mean, you are putting your life in someone’s hands).
And I was completely happy with it. Allen was a great instructor, fun to learn from. The confined water dive session in the pool was a lot of fun, and a lot more tiring then I expected. The only problems I had were remembering NOT to breathe through my nose and getting over the psychological aspect of being underwater and breathing. For the first half hour, my brain’s internal monologue was, “You’re underwater!! Oh wait, you can breathe. But you’re underwater!! But you can breathe,” back and forth, back and forth.
I’m going to take the open water certification course over the first two weekends in August. Just in time for my summer vacation. 🙂 Osan base is a bit of a trek, but better to learn with someone I’m cool with then to try somewhere else that’s closer, but a bit of a black box, you know?

Posted in adventure, amusing, fun, Korea, outdoors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Kumdo test

Posted by quirksalight on July 4, 2008

…was on Saturday, June 28th… and I passed!
Pictures can be seen here.

Posted in adventure, Korea, Kumdo, martial arts, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »