real men prop pink

28 03 2013

it takes a real man to wear pink. that’s what i think whenever i see a man wearing pink back in the states. uh huh. you go on with your bad self. pink is a universally flattering shade, and you know it.

here in korea, pink may be even more popular with men. check out all the pink products my students have. i love it!


sigourney weaver’s doppelganger and his thermosImage


eric and another pink dictionary


uber-shy KB and his pink notebook


yoga-loving kyle (sony still makes computers?)

telling jokes in English

28 03 2013

my guys, Durham class, started telling jokes at our farewell dinner last night.
i don’t remember how it started, but David said tall, lanky Louis looked like he was Swedish. from that, we joked round the table about what non-Korean country everybody came from.

Ryan’s from Japan, yuk yuk.
Kony’s from Mexico, haha.
Brandon’s from Polynesia.
By the time we got to big-boned Dean–Russian mafia–we were hysterical.

I don’t know why it was so d@mn funny.

I told my students being able to tell jokes in English shows how much they’ve learned.

Our lowest level class is called Los Angeles, and we have a husky-voiced, fast-talking, jet-black-haired 58-year-old in that class. After four weeks, James still has absolutely no w’s, but he’s the life of the class and the first to speak anyway. 

My co-teacher Julie has kept her age (31) a secret from the students, and they’re always trying to needle it out of her. 

Today, James pointed a crooked finger at Julie and said,

“You. 31. Maybe 32. Hmm, at most 35.”
Julie: “You. Get out.”
James: “Ahhhhh. Maybe true.”


Annie Hall

27 03 2013

i finished watching Annie Hall last night. amazing. Diane Keaton is all teeth and sunshine, and Woody Allen is genius. he’s a gift.

my favorites among many brilliant lines:

Annie Hall: Alvy, you’re incapable of enjoying life, you know that? I mean you’re like New York City. You’re just this person. You’re like this island unto yourself.

Alvy Singer: I can’t enjoy anything unless everybody is. If one guy is starving someplace, that puts a crimp in my evening.

this one’s the best:

“I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member. That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.”

congratulations, you’re having a cutie pie

25 03 2013

in 1:1 consultation with students today, i asked my student daniel if he and his wife would learn the sex of their baby.  

learned today at samsung engineering camp:

i learned that by law, in korea, doctors are not allowed to tell you the sex of your baby. 
(the male-female baby birth rate still arcs above the average in some more conservative cities with 114 boys born for every 100 girls.)

to get around the law, doctors tell parents, “your baby looks strong and healthy” (boy) or “your baby looks so cute and pretty” (duh).

two different students told me today they wanted to have two children–first a daughter and then a son. if a family has a daughter first, the daughter will take care of the son. however, if it happens the other way around, the son will not take care of the daughter. 


congratulations, you’re 39

14 03 2013

i turned 39 yesterday. 40 by korean math.

steve and my dad sent me a nice message to start the day, and my brother remembered too. darrell sent a morning text and an email.  and while it may be fashionable to dis facebook, i felt gratitude to read “happy birthday” from my friends, even from friends i’ve not been good at staying in touch with.

my co-teacher told our students it was my birthday, and they bought some small candies from the 7-11 in our basement, since none of us can leave the campus. when i walked into class, they sang happy birthday with lots of clapping and lots of “congratulations”, because the same word’s used here for happy birthday and congratulations.

what do you say when someone says “congratulations” for getting older? you didn’t have anything to do with it. it’s no accomplishment.

another class sprung for pizza, and we sat around 6 domino’s pies and pepsi talking about bowling and ping pong. our campus is dry, but my co-teachers and i ended the day drinking red wine in paper cups in my dorm room.

it was an unexpectedly wonderful day.


“new york” class


kyle, steven, jason, eric and ryan (why couldn’t samsung have let the students pick more interesting names? we have three jasons, three ryans, three stevens and two kyles at camp)


who knew domino’s was delicious?


logan, who took his name from the x-men’s wolverine, since he’s a hairy mofo.
also, teacher’s favorite


ryan, who wears toe socks and plays guitar and whose idea it was to spring for pizza

expatriation–>double taxation

6 03 2013

working for our embassy in korea is not the best of both worlds, it’s unfortunately the worst, with a korean vacation policy of 10 days (admittedly with 10 US + 10 ROK public holidays) and being subject to taxation in both the ROK and the US. i don’t want to blame the embassy. apparently being an american working overseas means you’re subject to taxation in both countries.

so, the $34K per annum position nets ~%60-65 = 1.9M KRW/month.
that’s a lot less than teaching positions, which also offer housing allowances.

i can’t think of a logical reason for US federal income taxes if a citizen is overseas not using services back home. medicare and ssn are separate withholdings:

Federal tax: each salary range has a different rate. for this job, let’s estimate 25%
Social security: 6.2%
Medicare: 1.45%

Income tax: 2-3%
National health insurance: 2.945% of base pay
Long term elderly care: 6.55% of NHI

the IRS is serious about collecting these taxes from Americans overseas.
some Americans are serious about giving up their citizenship.

TIME says, “the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that taxes its overseas citizens, subjecting them to taxation in both their country of citizenship and country of residence.”

i’d read that only overseas income above $50,000 is subject to US taxation, but if the us embassy is saying they’ll withhold US taxes, i believe them. the income tax may be reclaimed next april, but that’s a year without that usable income.

the position is junior too, which i knew. i don’t care about titles, but i’d like to learn new skills in my next job, and the uncertain opportunity for growth coupled with the paltry salary make this job a deal-breaker.

ah well.

the role was always going to be a long shot in displacing school, but it was another lesson on patience and culture.

the job was interesting enough to apply for, and i enjoyed the interview with the cultural affairs staff. no lightning bolts struck me after the interview, but now i trust i’ll know what to do, when the information comes. Tanja taught me that.

The manly laundry list 3.0

3 03 2013

The list is getting longer, as I’m getting older. Not a good trend.

  1. empathetic
  2. kind
  3. considerate – e.g., waits for others to order their meal; asks if I need anything
  4. smart
  5. funny, witty
  6. curious
  7. grateful
  8. honest and open – shares without being asked
  9. excellent communicator
  10. feminist – loves women for their uniqueness and individuality, not their collective necessity; doesn’t generalize about women or people; grew up with women
  11. generous – with time, money and spirit
  12. manly – he has strong values and convictions; doesn’t believe values are subjective; his friends are like-minded
  13. non-materialistic – experiences > things, but buys things when things are needed
  14. secure – doesn’t have to prove his worth in conversations with others; can make choices without needing others’ approval
  15. active – likes to do things on holiday
  16. self-motivated – doesn’t wait for others to plan activities
  17. in the moment – can plan but doesn’t have to
  18. physically active – likes to run
  19. self-aware – knows himself and his feelings
  20. non-narcissistic – doesn’t have to put others or their views find to justify himself
  21. loves children
  22. cosmopolitan – reads the news ; considers our place in the world
  23. physically attractive – physically fit and a twinkle in the eye
  24. frugal but willing to spend money on experiences and others
  25. complimentary
  26. loyal
  27. great conversationalist – talks and asks questions
  28. clean – cleans himself and his home well
  29. spontaneous or at least flexible and open to risk – plastic chair restaurants > expat experiences
  30. observant – still capable of childlike wonder over the small details of life and people