Jolie O’Dell inspiration

29 04 2013

i started following Jolie O’Dell a year ago. she’s a tech writer and very intermittent blogger. i guess it’s pretty self-centered to see yourself in other people’s problems, but i took some inspiration from her post this week, especially from these words:

“Living in the past would eventually drag me back into the past. Living in guilt made it harder to focus on living unselfishly in the present.”

I’m also working on letting go of guilt and what I should have done. This makes room to be able to make choices for the future and what I want to do. Eyeballs are on the front of your head you know.

Like Bill Murray says, focusing on making life better for the next person is the best way to nix navel-gazing. Thanks, Jolie O’Dell.

Getting Things Done in 2013

28 04 2013

so, 37signals sunset the free versions of Basecamp and Backpackit. Basecamp was a kickbutt project management / to-do list tool, especially for teams, and Backpackit let you set reminders for yourself and be emailed or SMSed when the to-dos came due, as opposed to clogging up your STD (sh!t-to-do) list. 

i’m using Toodledo as a replacement for Basecamp and Wunderlist as a replacement for Backpack. Toodledo has a good iPhone app and website, and if you treat folders as projects, it’s easy to work on different projects, say grad school STDs or whatnot. Wunderlist emails you at a certain day and time. both are free. 

employment contracts in the ROK

21 04 2013

convenant 4.2


Myeongdong cat cafe

20 04 2013

my gf Su ji wanted to go to a cat cafe in Myeongdong.


i feel like a slut there, because the cats only love you, if you have chicken.




the 8,000₩ entry includes a meh free coffee, tea or ice cream, which isn’t really the point.


blue neckerchiefs mean i’m young and/or sick,. please handle me with care.


Image Image






Daewoo Construction passive racists

19 04 2013

I picked up a job next week.
For three days, four other teachers and I will be level testing college seniors on their English proficiency. Daewoo Construction is paying for the job. Together, we will see 540 seniors in 7-minute sessions over three days. 

I asked my recruiter why I was hired at the last minute. Daniel told me it was a sad story:

ME: “What happened?”
DANIEL: “At the last minute, Daewoo decided not to hire one teacher, because he’s black.”
ME: “What?”
DANIEL: “Daewoo said some of the students might feel scared or nervous, because the      tester is black. It’s not right.”
ME: “Don’t those students know if they work for a global company, they’ll be working with different kinds of people or they’ll have to go abroad?”
DANIEL: “Yeah. But it’s Daewoo’s decision. It’s still Korea you know, so I understand.”

Sometimes I’m stunned by how blatant racism can be here in Korea. Not all Koreans are racist of course. Those who are I’d guess, just like people anywhere else, haven’t had the interactions with different people that would force them to think differently.

So this is a huge forking wasted opportunity. I hate the tail wagging the dog.
Who’s paying for this level testing anyway? Daewoo. Not snot-nosed, hypersensitive seniors who’ve never met a black person in their lives. It falls on adults to guide students, and this could have been a positive interaction.

Shame on Daewoo for either cowing to students’ stupid requests or blaming students for their own bigotry. 

(Yes, I am aware how hypocritical it is for me to b!tch and be taking this job.)

Gun control vote, epic fail

17 04 2013

I woke up in Sokcho today to read the Senate just voted down gun control. Four Republicans had the morals to vote for the bill. Four Democrats didn’t have the guts to support it.

I don’t understand how senators could meet with parents of children who were shot to death and still vote “no”. How can these legislators sleep at night? When did reelection become more important than children’s safety? These politicians have forgotten they are beholden to the people who voted them in, not the people who will potentially vote for them in the next election.

How many more people will die from gunfire before then?

Samsung Engineering

15 04 2013

fond memories from March teaching English to Samsung Engineering employees~


some of my students fell asleep. (not really. this is break time.)
Phillip from Los Angeles class


Kony from my homeroom class Durham


joined by Steve, who looks just like Sigourney Weaver, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

we were housed in clean dorm rooms with pillows filled with plastic popcorn.

the food, which makes or breaks an overnight camp teaching job, frankly, was awful. one week, the entire staff of five teachers fell ill with what i think was MSG poisoning. three hours after breakfast, vomiting, diarrhea, heart palpitations and rashes ensued and endured for the week. in my best Dave-Chappelle-does-Rick-James-voice: “MSG is a helluva chemical.”

oddly, none of the Korean students were affected. perhaps they are all pickled.


i had a wonderful birthday celebration, thanks to the students and my co-teachers. the following day was White Day, for which the other female teacher Julie and I were feted with chocolate and other candies from the basement 7-11.

(White Day is men’s answer to Valentine’s Day, on which women are supposed to give their men candy. on White Day, March 14, men return the favor to their ladies. to take it further, yesterday was Black Day, when the unattached are supposed to eat Chinese black bean noodles jja jjang myeon.)


Tom from Los Angeles class and co-teacher Julie


this camp was a wonderful cultural experience. i learned

  • Korean men unabashedly love pink.
  • jokbal, marinated pigs’ feet, is not very delicious. but if you dip anything in salty shrimp sauce and place it in a lettuce leaf topped with soybean sauce, it’s going to be edible.
  • lower level students may have the best attitude. oo-rah for underdogs.

Los Angeles class thus practiced for their oral final exam out loud with their partners in class far more than upper level classes did. LA had a mix of personalities led by three no-shame-in-our-game students Jack, James and Tom.


Eric and Jack from Los Angeles


Cody (right): “Hello, Lee Automobile. How may I help you?”
James (left): “Hi. I would like to rent a mid-size car please.”


snowboarding Tom and his partner Richard


Durham’s incentives board: choco pies for good shiznit, 100W penalties for speaking Korean, etc.

our students came to this camp to learn subjects like Business English, my class, and Conversation Strategies, but the truth is, they were all there to increase their OPIc scores, because their bosses told them they had to. the OPIc test is a computerized language proficiency test with 15-16 different questions about topics ranging from self-introduction to hobbies to sports to pop-up questions like “tell me about a farmer in your country.”

employees whose jobs haven’t required them to have a high level of English proficiency are sent to camp to increase their score by one level in 30 days. then, they can be promoted and/or sent overseas.

the students’ levels do increase, if for no other reason than they are immersed in English for 8+ hours each day, but i wish increased fluency were the goal rather than a score on a computerized test.  it’s a stick vs. carrot approach.

the majority of students weren’t expected to “level up” as the students say, given a combination of the very high expectation and the very short runway.

we saw many of the students back at headquarters after camp finished. some felt good about their OPIc scores; some didn’t. everybody said they were happy to have camp behind them and were positive about the whole experience, so we shamelessly milked them for free coffee~


teachers Jae, me, Julie and student Sean from Seattle class


thanks for the coffee, Eric


Durham’s mascot, perpetually-perspiring Dean


Richard, who says he will practice English speaking with his young daughter, Eric and Julie

finally, my homeroom Durham class celebrated the end of their month of suffering with, what else? pork neck and pork belly accompanied by several rounds of soju bombs.


elder statesman Brandon, architectural engineer Louis and his roommate Dean



Kony, Jae (teacher) and Brandon


see? Sigourney Weaver!


Louis, Dean and Julie


(i take a tiny high five for this night, because i wanted to say “no” to avoid being the only English teacher at dinner. i didn’t want to make my guys uncomfortable speaking English all night and don’t like being the center of attention.

but i didn’t chickensh!t.

then two hours before dinner, teachers Julie and Jae decided to tag along, and it ended up being a wonderful night, one of my favorites.)