Thursday, November 30, 2006


We had our first snowfall today. It didn't last long. This morning during my first class, I could see giant flakes falling. The kids were all excited. It didn't last. By lunch time, it had turned to rain.
They had a bit of an around the world day at the kindy today. 5 of the classrooms were set up with stuff to do with the different continents. Each kid had a little passport. Today the five classes of 7 (5/6year olds) year olds had their turn. Tomorrow it will be the rest of the classes. Because of the activities, I only taught 5 classes today, but it they were upped to 20 minute classes. Not a big deal. I just added the hokey-pokey to every class.
Tomorrow is my morning off, but I'll be heading to the hospital for blood tests and a dr visit. Another one. See what he says this time.

a leaf

I'm not sure exactly what kind of trees they are, but they are everywhere, and many of the leaves are HUGE!!! Sorry... I didn't have anything handy to place to compare it to... but the bricks are full sized bricks, to give you some idea. And that isn't even close to being the biggest I've seen. The little yellow leaf just to the left is a Gingko leaf.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

the walk to work

I've posted a similar pic to this before... taken from my bathroom window (when it was raining so much this past summer). This one is from the road, near my building.
It is two way traffic along here.
The brick building is part of the English Village that I live near. To get to work, I either turn right before the English Village (onto a one way),or walk straight ahead, past the front of the complex, and turn right at the other corner of it all.

They just finished doing a bit of work on under the road. I'm not sure exactly what they were doing. While they are doing work, even with open pits, people still walk around it, between the machines and the wall, or where ever possible. This bit is supposed to be one way, going the opposite direction.

color on the way to work

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

happiness is...

It came in the mail today. Yay for me!!! I haven't played with it yet, as I just finished charging the battery, and it's time for bed. Christmas presents are great!!!

Oh, I still have a test to make for tomorrow, too. :O

gotta love weekends.

Sometimes I love the weekends in Korea. I'm still getting over this past one.

Friday night I headed up to Ilsan after work. It takes me about 2 hours to get there. A friend of mine returned to Korea recently and has a new apartment. Housewarming parties are always great. David spent the summer riding his bicycle across Canada!!!!! [8929km/5548miles] No small accomplishment!!!

Anyway, after the party ended, I hung out with David and Kath for a while before I crashed on his sofa for a few hours. I ended up sitting around with Kath and David half of the day Saturday doing nothing but talking, eating and drinking great coffee (REAL coffee from press, as opposed to the instant coffee I usually have) and tea. When I did eventually make it home, it was only to get ready to go out again. I love dancing... I could dance all night... and when I go out, I usually do. Saturday night I went out with Yiannis. I've known Yiannis basically since I got back to Korea, but hadn't really talked to him much. He really is a cool guy to hang out with. I thinkI might have mentioned him before... when I went to Muuido, he's the one that disappeared into the sea, and also thought it would be fun to jump in the fire. He'll never live that down. We met some very interesting people. I met a pro dart player!!! In Korea. funny. And I met a soldier (MP) that looks like Macaulay Culkin. I am NOT joking. I'll have to get the pics from Yianni. I think I got home at around 7am or so on Sunday. I'm not altogether sure. The only problem with going out like that is you can't really have any plans to accomplish anything the next day. I slept for a few hours but then MADE myself get up, or I wouldn't have slept at all last night. Today wasn't so bad. A bit out of energy, but not too bad. I still made it to the gym after work.
I started going to the gym last week. I decided I really need to be doing something, anything. The doctor actually told me NOT to go to the gym. He also told me NOT to walk, and to just relax. And to NOT go to Shanghai when I did, as I needed to relax. I can only sit around doing nothing for so long. It really does get to you. Sometimes being lazy is great, but not when it is all the time, every evening, every day. Sometimes you have to ignore the doctor's advice. Especially when the doctors don't speak the same language, and don't always listen to everything that you tell them.
It's a good thing I'm getting a new camera for Christmas. Thanks!!! :D
The battery cover on my camera no longer closes. The little latch broke this weekend. I took out my camera to take a pic with the Macaulay lookalike and all of a sudden my batteries fell to the floor. I'll have to get it fixed to use that camera as a back up. Plus I still have the lenses for it.
I found out that I have to attend a seminar on Saturday morning. It goes from 9am to 1pm. Annual Seminar for Native Instructors
It seems kinda pointless to me, but my boss says I have to go. Ugh!!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Koreans love their cell phones.

Take into consideration that the population of Korea is 48,846,823 (July 2006 est.). [CIA - The World Factbook]
added info: the age structure of Korea might help explain the numbers:
0-14 years: 18.9% (male 4,844,083/female 4,368,139)
15-64 years: 71.9% (male 17,886,148/female 17,250,862)
65 years and over: 9.2% (male 1,818,677/female 2,678,914) (2006 est.)

[CIA - The World Factbook]

Number of mobile phone users in S. Korea tops 40 mln
(Yonhap) -- The number of mobile phone users in South Korea has exceeded a record 40 million for the first time, industry sources said Sunday.
SK Telecom Co., KTF and LG Telecom Ltd. said that as of Friday they had slightly more than 40.01 million people in the country with registered mobile phones. This number was reached 22 years after analogue-type mobile phone service was first introduced in 1984 and 10 years after the country switched to the code division multiple access (CDMA) system.

the colder it gets, the shorter they get!!!

Turning Heads Make Skirts Rise
Normally discounted during the hard-to-sell cold weather season, short skirt sales have gone through the roof since the winter months began to show their colors. Online shopping mall G-market is currently selling on average15,000 mini-skirt and hot-pants per day, with some 450,000 units sold in October alone, a 10 percent increase from their summer season turnover. The mini-skirt fad is led by celebrities - Uhm Jung-hwa caught the nation’s eye with her black, underwear-style hot-pants during her recent stage come-back, whilst another top singer Lee Hyo-lee is seen scantily dressed in her TV commercials, such as Samsung Anycall. Her fans are right behind her sexy new look and the so called 'Lee Hyo-lee pants' have emerged as a top selling garment in the online markets.
Why is it that the short skirt fad has continued so long into the new season? A popular skirt-length theory suggests that skirts get shorter when the economy slows down, though industry insiders claim that this is due to changes in how people perceive beauty. An insider said "Young women these days wear mini-skirts whether they are fat or slim. When people say sexy, they mean pretty, confident and cool. They no longer think of women who expose their whole thighs to be vulgar, and this encourages women to wear less and bare more." [Chosun Ilbo]

Everywhere I go here I see girls in VERY short skirts and knee high boots, or leggings. I've also seen several girls wearing shorts the past couple of weeks. It just looks strange. Shorts in the winter??? The guys enjoy the short skirts, I'm sure. Everywhere you go, there are stairs. I Korean friend of mine (a guy) once mentioned that many guys enjoy walking behind girls in skirts up the stairs in the subway stations. Obviously. Knowing that everyone here is armed with a handy camera phone, I'm not sure I'd feel very comfortable wearing a short skirt on the crowded subway, or anywhere else, for that matter. My friend also said that some boys in school sometimes try to sneak a peak by leaning over with a small mirror in hand when their teacher (when wearing a short skirt) walks past (he said that when he was younger it was a fairly common practice).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

a fish

A VERY interesting looking fish.Psychrolutes phrictus

A Fathead (genus Psychrolutes) trawled during the NORFANZ expedition at a depth between 1013 m and 1340 m, on the Norfolk Ridge, north-west of New Zealand, June 2003 (AMS I.42771-001). Photo: K. Parkinson © Australian Museum. The scientists and crew on board the RV Tangaroa affectionately called this fish 'Mr Blobby'. Note the parasitic copepod on Mr Blobby's mouth.

(Saw this on Ramblefish's blog and decided everyone needs to see it. :P)

A video of a Psychrolutes in action.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I love how they are ALWAYS one on top of the other.
It is like that in both of the tanks at the kindy.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Olympic Park II

I finally went back to the Olympic Park. I had gone there in the spring and it was beautiful. I told myself I would go back in the summer, but didn't quite make it, due to some health problems (not being able to walk for a huge part of the summer). On Saturday, I decided I should go again before winter really hits here. And, of course, parks are always nice when the leaves are still changing.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

the kindy's 'pets'

A while back, the kindy got a few new pets to display in the halls: bugs. There is a little tank with a couple of water beetles. There is a tank with crickets in it. And there are the beetles... There is a big tank with two of them on the main floor. On the second floor, there is a container that had a two beetles in it, which then layed eggs and died. There are bits of the beetles still in there. There is not much going on in the tank now. Beside that is a container with two larvae, that just sort of lay there wiggling all the time. They seem to be doing well, though, as they have grown. To get a good picture of them, I had to pick them up. The kids that were around LOVED that. They were all quite grossed out by it. A few GIRLS, though, wanted to take a turn holding them. NOT the boys.I should mention that the 'farm' is no longer a farm. The turkeys and ducks and chickens are all gone. I'm not sure exactly when they disappeared, but I haven't heard them in a long time, and I went out back to look the other day and it was all changed. There is now an outdoor picnic/sitting area where the 'farm' was (fenced in, as it is for the school only). Maybe they ended up in the lunches(?).
There is now only one rabbit, one guinea pig (there were 2 a week ago!!??), one hamster, and one quail. And, of course, all of the turtles and fish (tanks of each on first and second floors) are all doing still around and doing quite well.

Friday, November 17, 2006

the ants...

After I saw the ants earlier this week, I sprayed my entire living room. I told my boss the next day about the ants, and she phoned the owner lady who lives upstairs. She said she has a solution for the problem. Something that she does to get rid of ants. (She says she hasn't seen any.) She came banging on my door that evening (she usually rings the doorbell and then keeps banging on the door until I actually open it). She came in with two dishes of her magic mixture... something like honey and rotten fish and such. She put it down in one corner of my living room and in my kitchen. Well, I had sprayed the kitchen VERY WELL a couple of nights before, and the living room the day before. She said she would be back in the morning. Before I went to bed, there was a highway of ants to the container in the corner of my living room. There were none around the one in the kitchen (I think I sprayed it well enough that they won't be back there for a while... I hope). The next morning, nothing had changed. She came banging again in the morning, and then came in, picked up the dish, plunked it down in a bit of water, and wiped the ants off of the rim, into the water. After making sure she had all (most) of them, she put it back down where it was. She moved the one from the kitchen to another place in the living room. It still didn't attract any. She came back last evening and this morning again, doing the same thing, only this morning she made a fresh batch of her mixture. She said something about it taking 5 days of doing that before the ants are all gone. I'm not so sure about that... but I'll give her a chance to prove her solution works. I think you would have to clean the rim a lot more often than twice a day to really make any difference. All they are doing in between is carrying the food to their nest... feeding the future ants. She should put some sort of ant poison in the mix. That would fix that problem.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I feel bad for the little boy!!!

This is disgusting. I thought it was well known that no contraceptives are 100% guaranteed. Even if it was the doctor's fault, it was the mother's choice to raise the child. There are always other options. If she really didn't want it, she could have put it up for adoption. Then maybe the child would have been raised by people that actually WANTED him.
Doctor ordered to pay for unwanted baby
A court ruling which ordered a gynecologist to pay child support for up to 18 years as compensation for botching a contraceptive implant was condemned by the German media as scandalous on Wednesday.
The Karlsruhe-based federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the doctor must pay his former patient, now a mother of a three-year-old boy, 600 euros ($769) a month because she became pregnant after he implanted her with a contraceptive device. "A child as a case for damages -- this perverse idea has now been confirmed by one of Germany's highest courts," conservative Die Welt daily newspaper wrote in an editorial on Wednesday.
The parents, who had known each other six months at the time of the conception, were no longer together, the court said, ruling that the father should also be compensated for the maintenance he was paying toward the child.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The other day there was a highway going between the ceiling and the floor in my kitchen. They were all over inside my cupboards... where my clean dishes are... where there is NO FOOD!!! They were crawling up my water cooler... where there is NO FOOD!!! Are these ants stupid or something? I'm not sure which direction they were going... up or down. They are in the walls. They are in the ceiling. They are in the floor. ARGH!!!
So, anyway, I sprayed all over the kitchen, over and under the cupboards (I didn't want to spray all of my dishes in the cupboards). There were a few stragglers in the cupboards the next morning, but they too were gone by the end of the day.
Then today when I came home, I walked into my living room to find a highway going across the middle of the floor, between the dresser [where I keep miscellaneous stuff for Tokki (newspapers to line her cage, wood shavings, sealed bags of rabbit food (the ants were NOT on the rabbit food) and for my computer (cables, travel case, etc)] and my clothes rack, where I hang CLEAN CLOTHES... where there is NO FOOD!!! They were going up the clothes rack, they were in the bottom drawer, and they were swarming all over (an IN) the big CD case that I had sitting on the floor leaning against the dresser. WHY??? I spent a long time sitting there squishing every little ant I could find. I killed hundreds of them. No exaggerating!!! I have the crawlies now. I'll spray the room before I go to bed. I'll have to move Tokki out into the hall. I'm glad they weren't going around her cage. I would have sprayed right away, but my TV (not so important, or much used), my computer (which I use ALL THE TIME), and Tokki were in here. I spend a lot of time in this room when I am home. I'm pretty tempted to bomb the whole place (a 'bug bomb' that smokes the entire home), but that leaves everything smelling bad for days/weeks. The last (and only) time that I used one was my last time in Korea, in a one room home. I set it off in the morning and didn't return until fairly late that evening. I had trouble breathing in there. I had the door and windows open, the fan and air conditioner going to circulate and in an attempt to bring in fresh air. I didn't sleep much that night and ended up going out for short walks to get fresh air. It wouldn't be as bad in this place, as it is several rooms. I'll have to make sure the windows are open. If/when I do the bomb, I'll have to move Tokki out to the balcony area. I'll try spraying the whole place first, though. What a hassle.
Winter is here. The bugs are supposed to be gone!! Why aren't they? For some reason, I have seen more mosquitos in the past couple of weeks than I did all summer!!!! And the ants just won't go away!!!
Did I mention I HATE ANTS!!!???

some of my students... cleaning tables

This was supposed to be punishment!!! Tim (orange shirt) got an 'X' and so was supposed to clean one table. David (blue coat) and William (green coat) thought it looked like fun and so joined in. They were using little disposable disinfectant cleaning cloths. Kelly took the video with her camera. For some reason, the sound didn't upload. I'll have to try it again to see if I can get it to work. It just isn't the same without the sound.

Monday, November 13, 2006

in the news

Korea's Bus Fares 4th Cheapest In OECD
[Out of 30 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) members]
For public transportation, Korea ranked eighth. The base rate for the bus was about $0.88, fourth cheapest among the surveyed nations. Bus fare in Mexico was the cheapest, costing $0.39, while Sweden’s fares were the most expensive, costing $3.55.
Among the 24 countries with a subway system, Korea had fourth cheapest fare, with a basic rate of $0.83. Mexico had the cheapest subway fare, charging $0.39, and Finland’s fare was the most expensive _ $6.13 _ about seven times the cost in Korea.
Taxi fare, however, was not that cheap in Korea coming in at 13th cheapest with a cost of $1.97 on average.
Fuel costs in Korea were also high compared to other OECD members. The price for 1 liter of gasoline in Korea was $1.64, making it the sixth most expensive gas in the
OECD. The cost of gasoline in Turkey was the highest _ $5.25 for a liter _ and gas in Australia was the cheapest, costing $0.34 per liter.
To buy a car with 2000 cc displacement, it cost $14,143, making cars in Korea the fifth cheapest in the OECD. Car insurance cost $571 per year, the fourth-lowest sum. Korea ranked third in car-related categories, indicating that it is relatively easy to buy and maintain cars.
[The Korea Times]

Korean Women Power Ranks 53rd

Robot Maids for Elderly to Make Debut in 2013
Hundreds of Korean scientists are working on developing robots, which will be able to set the table and wash dishes for the elderly, with the aim of finishing the task by 2013.
Kim Mun-sang, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Monday said the artificial-intelligence robots will assist senior citizens in various fashions.
"In 2013, a senior citizen will instruct a voice-cognitive robot to order food from a nearby restaurant for dinner then it will follow its owner's words to the letter,'' Kim said.
"Then, the smart robot will take out the dishes and lay the table with the delivered food. Cleaning up the table and washing the dishes will also be up to the mechanical servant,'' the 49-year-old said.
Kim projected the envisioned humanoid, which is likely to move on wheels, will also act as a loyal secretary and close friend of its elderly possessor.
"The cutting-edge robots will be capable of many caregiver tasks like verbalizing scripted reminders _ his or her daily schedule or time to take medicine,'' Kim said.
"Another crucial role of the humanoids is to provide ways out of loneliness, typical for the elderly. For one, they will connect those senior citizens who are Web-illiterate through networks,'' Kim added.
In the first stage, Kim and his 300-plus team plan to create a prototype robot equipped mainly with health-care applications late next year, named H-Robot (healthcare robot) 1.0.
"The wheeled robots will have the ability to measure heart rate and blood pressure, and be able to send the data to a doctor. It will also summon help in an emergency when its owner falls to the floor and doesn't get up,'' Kim said.
"The H-Robot will be upgraded to a 2.0 version the next year and will be able to recognize voices better. It will then undergo feasibility tests regarding healthcare functionalities,'' he said.
Kim has spearheaded the state-funded 10-year project of building "silver robots'' since 2003, geared toward grappling with problems of an aging society.
As the nation's baby boomers become senior citizens, combined with the low birthrate and ever-extended life expectancy, Korea is rapidly turning into an aging society,.
In around 2020, people aged 65 and over are expected to account for more than 14 percent of the population, the milestone of the so-called aged society.
[the Korea Times]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

a visit to the hospital in Korea

Big hospitals here are very interesting. They are very much computerized... well...
For example, at the Asan Hospital, when you get your blood taken, first you stand in a line at the first counter and hand them the doctor's request form. They put it in the computer and give you a number. There are then 8 or 10 numbered stalls along another counter to the back of the room near the wall. You wait until your number is up to go to that specific stall. At each end of the counter, there is a machine that spits out labeled vials into trays, and then sends them down a mini conveyer belt to the correct stall, so when your number is up, your pre-labeled vials are there waiting for you. A lady takes your blood and off you go.
When you go to see a doctor, things are also in the computer. Where I have to go, there is a front waiting room with the check in counter. On the wall to the side of the counter, there is a screen that lists the names of the patients that have checked in, in the order they are waiting. Once you are about 4th on the list, you go further inside to wait. There are screens beside each doctor's room, each listing 5 names: the patient that is currently with the doctor, and the next 4 in line. As soon as the person in with the doctor comes out, the next person on the list goes in. You don't need someone to tell you it is your turn. There is a little counter in the middle of the area with a girl that takes the clipboard that the doctor gives you and puts info into the computer.
For prescriptions: After you talk to a doctor, and he issues you a prescription, you go out into the main halls where there are prescription machines here and there (near every door, and in many places between). You go to one of the machines and put your hospital card in and it will spit out your prescription on two pages: one for you and one for the pharmacy. When you leave the hospital, where the bus stop is, there are guys standing around waiting for people with prescriptions. They will ask you where you want to go (you have a choice of a few pharmacies that are linked to the hospital), and they will put you with which ever driver goes to the pharmacy of your choice. Luckily for me, one of the pharmacies is a short walk from my home, so I basically get a free ride home. Not that it really matters, as the bus that goes past the hospital stops across the street from that (only the 3rd stop from the hospital). I am guessing that the drivers get paid by the number of people they shuttle to their pharmacy.
As a foreigner, I go to the International Clinic (IC) at the hospital. I didn't the first few times, but it really does help. They take care of everything. The future appointments, prescriptions, etc. I get copies of all of my test results to send to my doctor at home. To get an official copy (stamped/signed) , you have to go to another part of the hospital (somewhere in the basement?) and you have to pay for it. The IC will print out copies of the results for free. They will show you to where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there. The waiting room in the little IC is much more comfortable than the other waiting rooms, and there is coffee and tea offered there. When I was in, that made a big difference because I had to go for a blood test around an hour and a half before my doctor appointment, meaning I had to sit around and wait.There are little 'hospitals' everywhere here; basically just doctors offices. They all have their own x-ray machines and such. They are a little less technologically advanced, though. Most of them are also very specific to what you need: if you have a problem with your eyes, you go to an eye doctor. If you have a problem with your back you go to the orthopedic doctor. There are some general family doctors, too. Koreans go to the doctor for everything, even a simple cold. They are very over-medicated here. If you have a cold, you will come away from the doctor with a prescription for up to 10 different pills. More often than not, they don't even tell you what it is they are prescribing for you. In Korea, no one seems to care. They just listen to what the doctor tells them to do. I think some of the pills are things like vitamins and such. But they do prescribe a lot of antibiotics for things. Oh, and if you go to the doctor with a cold, one of the first things they want to do is give you a shot in the 'hip'. I'm not sure what the shot is. My first year here I got that. Never again. If I go in and they want to give me that I just say no thanks. Unless they can tell me exactly what it is and why I need it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pepero Day

Happy Pepero Day everyone. :P

Pepero Day
Pepero Day is a unofficial holiday in South Korea similar to Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day. It is named after the Korean snack Pepero and held on November 11, since the date "11/11" resemble four sticks of Pepero. The holiday is observed mostly by young people and couples, who exchange Pepero sticks, other candies, and romantic gifts.
According to the story, Pepero Day was started in 1994 by students at a girls' middle school in Busan, where they exchanged Pepero sticks as gifts to wish one another to grow "as tall and slender as a Pepero" (Pepero means "thin like a stick"). However, it is more likely it was initiated by Lotte, the company which produces Pepero.
While in most countries of the world, November 11th is a day of remembrance (since it signaled the end of World War I), in Korea it is a day of romance, gaudy cardboard packaging emblazoned with butchered English love lines, and massive fortunes earned by convenience stores and Wonka-esque entrepreneurs. Many students are truant on this day to celebrate with their friends.
In Japan, a similar Pocky Day was held on November 11 in 1999, which was the 11th year of the Heisei era. The date, 11/11 of the 11th year, resembled 6 sticks of Pocky. According to Korean sources this day was based on the Pepero Day.

The History of Pepero:

(1983-chocolate pepero; 1984-almond pepero; 1994-strawberry pepero, flake pepero; 1995-cheese pepero, coffee pepero; 1996-peanut pepero, hazelnut pepero, bulgogi pepero [doesn't sound so good to me... bulgogi is meat!!]; 1997-peanut butter pepero; 2000-nude pepero [basically inside out with the chocolate on the inside]; 2005-black pepero)
Coming up to Pepero Day, every stor is filled with pepero gift sets. The gift sets sometimes have things like key chains, stuffed toy peperos, pepero cell phone trinkets, pepero pencil cases, etc. There are actually 5 pepero 'characters': Chopero, Apero (almond?), Ddangpero (peanut?), Nupero (nude?), Sopero.
Of course, there are also imitation peperos everywhere. They are definitely not as good as the originals. They usually taste a bit stale to me.
Pepero Love (click on the 1). I would embed it, but then you would be stuck with that annoying music EVERY TIME you opened my blog, as it is automatic and cannot be shut off.
Every month here has some sort of 'Day'.


Hookah targeted in Egypt health drive
The way that Egyptians smoke their sheesha is much more intense than what most 'foreigners' (at least, the ones that I know) do when they go to a hookah bar. Egyptians each have their own, and they often don't even remove it from their mouths as they talk; only when they take a sip of their tea. When my friends and I have a sheesha (I've shared 3 in the past year), we generally have one sheesha for the group, and pass the hose around. You get a few puffs out of it.
Still... it is tobacco, and no matter how much you have, it is not good for you.

Borat etc.

I haven't seen Borat, but I will when I get the chance to. There are all sorts of things about it being written on the net. And there are some controversies surrounding it.

College students sue over Borat film
The legal action filed Thursday argues the two unidentified fraternity members at a South Carolina school were plied with alcohol and "engaged in behaviour that they otherwise would not have engaged in."
The lawsuit claims that in October 2005 a production crew took the students to a bar to drink and "loosen up" before participating in a documentary they were told would not appear in the United States.
"They were induced to agree to participate and were told the name of the fraternity and the name of their school wouldn't be used," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Olivier Taillieu. "They were put into an RV and were made to believe they were picking up Borat the hitchhiker."
The two men were then asked to sign a release form, which they were told "had something to do with reliability issues with being in the RV," Taillieu said.
The film "made plaintiffs the object of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community," the lawsuit said.
Will the real Borat please stand up?
Turkish Internet celebrity Mahir Cagri is in London to press his case that he is the inspiration for the spoof Kazakh journalist, the creation of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen whose Borat movie is taking the world's box office by storm.
The 44-year-old's Web site, with its "I Kiss You!!!!!" greeting, made him an unlikely Internet hero seven years ago.
Web surfers were hooked by Cagri's larger-than-life persona, cheesy holiday snaps and prominent nose and mustache.
Check out Mahir Cagri's website
And his video: made me laugh.

Rock Paper Scissors World Championship

I had posted about the little game of rock, scissors, paper quite a while ago. It is used quite frequently all over Korea to settle disputes both big and small. I sometimes use it in the classroom to fill time. I have mini championships, the winner getting a sticker or candy or something like that. They LOVE it.
Well, the world championship is this weekend in Toronto, hosted by the World RPS Society. The prize: C$10,000.
Hundreds to compete for rock, paper, scissors title
The Paper Scissors Stone Club was founded in England in 1842 and provided an environment free from the long arm of the law where enthusiasts could come together and play for honor, according to the World RPS (Rock Paper Scissors) Society Web page (
In 1918, the name was changed to World RPS Club to reflect the growing international representation and its headquarters moved from London to Toronto. In 1925 its membership topped 10,000.
The world championships have been held since 2002.

Beomosa Temple in Busan

I never did post the pictures that I took at the Buddhist temple I went to on the Saturday of my shark diving excursion to Busan.
Here are a few of those pics.

Because it was not long before Chusok (Korean thanksgiving), there were a lot of things going on to do with it. There were lanterns everywhere. These lanterns say Beomosa, the name of the temple.Inside one of the temple buildings. Bamboo. Roof tiles. Who does THIS remind you of???? There are 4 of these little guys, each crouching at the feet of one of the 4 kings (North, South, East, West).

persimmons II

I've sort of become addicted to persimmons. There are 3 kinds to be found here. I've only tried two of them, the second being only yesterday when one of the Korean English teachers had one cut up to snack on. Both of the kinds I have tried VERY yummy.Both are shaped sort of like a tomato (the first time I saw them I DID think they were tomatoes, but didn't buy any). I keep buying the orangy-red soft ones that I mentioned before. I eat at least one a day. I peel them (the skin is sooooooo thin but comes off fairly easily), then just eat them. There are no seeds or pits or anything, just sweet and mushy yummy flesh. When I first felt one, I wasn't sure if it was still good, as the way it felt reminded me of a tomato that was left out in the frost (think... a mushy tomato if you aren't somewhere with frost). The yellow-orange ones (slightly bigger) are hard and a crunchy, but have a similar taste. One of my students gave me one today. The other kind (hachi fruit?) are much bigger, red-orange, with a different shape.
They use persimmons for several things here in Korea. They eat them ripe or dried. They use persimmons to make vinegar, and to make Sujeonggwa, a persimmon/cinammon drink, which I quite like.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ahhhhhhhhh! My eye!!!

In my 5:00 class, we started out talking about traveling. I got out the globe and they were trying to find different countries. Paul then started obsessing about polar bears. He thought they were only in Russia. I said there were polar bears in Canada. He got all excited and asked if I had seen any. I said I had only seen polar bears in the zoo, but I had seen other bears. I took out my little photo album to show them some of my pictures (I have pictures of some bears at a garbage dump in Northern Mantoba).
Paul is, well, a big baby at times. He is the biggest student in the academy. He is, well, BIG. He is, I think, in grade 6. He is almost my height, but well, BIG. And he is also the biggest whiner. And he is VERY hyper; ALL THE TIME.
Anyway... the students were standing around me looking at my pictures, and Paul got excited about one of the pictures (I have no idea which one now) and up swung his arm and AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! MY EYE!!!!
The students all saw it happen so knew he accidentally hit me in the eye. I had to run (almost stumble, as I had my eyes mostly shut) out of the room and out of the hagwon to the bathroom down the hall. Tears were running down my face and I couldn't see anything. I could barely open my other eye, let alone the one that was hit. My boss saw me run past her desk, and I think the students said something to her about it, so she showed up a moment later. I wouldn't normally cry from getting hit... but when you are hit in the eye, you have no choice. My boss ran to get me some tissues. I had to stand there a few minutes until I could actually open my left eye to see what I was doing. Of course, I still had to finish teaching the classes. Only, I had to do it with one eye shut... and my face all red. After several minutes, I could open my right eye (not all the way, though), but it still hurts like hell, and there is a fuzzy spot.
Paul felt sooooooooooooooo bad the rest of the class. He was more like the rest of the students... NOT hyper.
It'll be better tomorrow, I'm sure. I'll put some drops in it before I go to sleep tonight.
At least it isn't as bad as the paper cut I had on my cornea many years ago. THAT hurt like a ...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

stress II

Well... I have finished 2 days of my 2 weeks of hell at work. This week is the 7 year old classes, as I mentioned. It only actually lasts 30 minutes each day, as I teach each half of each class (one class a day) for only 15 minutes. Then it is back to the usual classes for the rest of the morning. I was given the week's schedule first thing Monday morning (other classes had to be moved around to accomodate both in time and in location), basically a few minutes before the first class. I was to start at 10:15. The first class on Monday got started a minute late. I had been told to finish the first group at 10:30. I finished at around 10:31. Jenny's activity took a bit long, and so she didn't finish until a couple minutes after I did. So my second class started almost 5 minutes late. I did the exactly same lesson as I had the first group, and so I finished 5 minutes later than I should have (I was supposed to be teaching another class after that, but figured that was more important as the parents were there). Later I was informed that my lesson was too short, and Jenny was told hers was too long. They said a 15 minute lesson. Mine was 15 minutes. What do they expect? Do they want me to count the seconds??? They also said that I should have the kids be a bit more active. Well, in a 15 minute class, there are only so many things I can do. And they specifically said, if I am playing a game, or have volunteers, I have to make sure that every student has a turn. Well, to do that it would take more than the time alloted. Argh.
Today I added one more little action song, to add a bit more time and to get the kids to be a bit more 'active'. Well, the first group went okay. Then I was with the second group. I had everything set up, we were going to start a song... and nothing happened. I pressed play again, and nothing happened. The numbers on the CD player blinked a bit, and then it just said "NO DISK". WTF???? And everyone was just sitting there/standing there watching me. I was just about ready to just start singing the song sans music (I would have had the same problem later, though, as one of the other activities also included a CD), one of the teachers ran out and grabbed a CD player from another room. I hate technical difficulties. And then at lunch time, Jenny told me that SHE tried to use the CD player, but it didn't work, but she had enough other stuff to do that she skipped that step. She TOLD the teacher that the CD player didn't work. So they KNEW that it didn't work, and they KNEW that my lesson plan included things that I needed the CD player for. I felt sabotaged.
Today I started planning my lesson for the 6 year old classes. I have it all figured out. I am planning on doing a practice of the book and chant and such with each class the day before their parents are to come in. I figure they already know the book very well (it was the last book that we did, and it is mostly just to do with counting to 10) so I don't need to over do the rehearsing. I am only giving the 7 year olds one practice class.
The kindy office phoned LCC today to have Kelly ask me if I have my lesson prepared. I said I was doing that today. They phoned back saying that I didn't because the teachers said I did normal things in the classes today. I said would practice the lesson before it was their turn. I was questioned about that. They think the kids need to practice all this week. There is no way I'm going to do that. These are 5 year old kids. They get bored of things easily. What better way to bore them than to make them do the same thing over and over and over. Most of them already know the book by heart, and the ones that don't, well, I'm not sure they ever will, as they are the ones that don't care and would rather sit there picking their noses (literally).
Oh... and... as there are 2 Korean English teachers, they each only have to do this for one week. Jenny this week and Kelly next week. On top of the half hour each day that they get to miss, Kelly gets a morning off this week, Jenny gets on off next week. I get NO mornings off for 2 weeks, and I had missed an extra morning last week due to sleeping in and feeling sick, so they office is saying that I should miss my morning off the week after next. WTF!!! Not fair. I WILL complain about that. Next week, maybe. Beginning of the week. I'll go on strike if they argue with me about it.

death penalty in the First World

Notice that the only First World countries that still carry the death penalty are the 3 in Asia (South Korea, Japan and Taiwan), Israel (it's green in the Death Penalty map), and the United States.
The Death Penalty

Colour scheme:
Blue: Abolished for all crimes
Green: Abolished for crimes not committed in exceptional circumstances (such as crimes committed in time of war)
Orange: Abolished in practice
Red: Legal form of punishment for certain offenses

Your Purse!!!

For you guys... same thing goes for your what ever bag you may carry.
Sorry it's so long, but I didn't want to leave any of it out.
From an email I received about a week ago:

Your Purse Can Make You Sick
Have you ever noticed gals who sit their purses on public restroom floors then take them and put them directly to their dining tables? Happens a lot! It's not always the 'restaurant food' that causes stomach distress. Sometimes "what you don't know 'will' hurt you"!
Read on...Mom got so upset when a guest came in the door and plopped their purses down on the counter where she was cooking or setting up the buffet. She always said that purses are really dirty, because of where they have been. Smart Momma!!!
It's something just about every woman carries with them. While we may know what's inside our purses, do you have any idea what's on the outside? Shauna Lake put purses to the test - for bacteria - with surprising results. You may think twice about where you put your purse.
Women carry purses everywhere; from the office to public restrooms to the floor of the car. Most women won't be caught without their purses, but did you ever stop to think about where your purse goes during the day?
"I drive a school bus, so my purse has been on the floor of the bus a lot," says one woman. "On the floor of my car, probably in restrooms." "I put my purse in grocery shopping carts, on the floor of bathroom stalls while changing a diaper," says another woman and of course in my home which should be clean."
We decided to find out if purses harbour a lot of bacteria. We learned how to test them at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake, then we set out to test the average woman's purse.
Most women told us they didn't stop to think about what was on the bottom of their purse. Most said they usually set their purses on top of kitchen tables and counters where food is prepared. Most of the ladies we talked to told us they wouldn't be surprised if their purses were at least a little bit dirty. It turns out purses are so surprisingly dirty, even the microbiologist who tested them was shocked.
Microbiologist Amy Karen of Nelson Labs says nearly all of the purses tested were not only high in bacteria, but high in harmful kinds of bacteria. Pseudomonas can cause eye infections,staphylococcus aurous can cause serious skin infections, and salmonella and e-coli found on the purses could make people very sick. In one sampling, four of five purses tested positive for salmonella, and that's not the worst of it. "There is fecalcontamination on the purses," says Amy.
Leather or vinyl purses tended to be cleaner than cloth purses, and lifestyle seemed to play a role. People with kids tended to have dirtier purses than those without, with one exception. The purse of one single woman who frequented nightclubs had one of the worst contaminations of all. "Some type of feces, or even possibly vomit or something like that," says Amy.
So the moral of this story - your purse won't kill you, but it does have the potential to make you very sick if you keep it on places where you eat. Use hooks to hang your purse at home and in restrooms, and don't put it on your desk, a restaurant table, or on your kitchen countertop.
Experts say you should think of your purse the same way you would a pair of shoes. "If you think about putting a pair of shoes onto your countertops, that's the same thing you're doing when you put your purse on the countertops."
Your purse has gone where every individual before you has spat, coughed, urinated, emptied bowels, etc! Do you really want to bring that home with you? The microbiologists at Nelson also said cleaning a purse will help. Wash cloth purses and use leather cleaner to clean the bottom of leather purses.

News articles on the same topic:

Ladies, Your Purse Could Make You Sick
A purse can carry almost everything ... including an overabundance of germs and bacteria.
Researchers at the University of Arizona tested dozens of women's purses. Every single one had at least some contaminants that could cause sickness. Most had tens of thousands. One even reached the 6.7 million mark. (And that particular lady had purchased her handbag in the previous month.)
When microbiologist Chuck Gerba, who lead the study, demonstrated his discovery on ABC News by using a hand-held meter on audience members' purses, he found that half the bags tested positive for coliform bacteria - also known as fecal matter.
Many women also place their purse in the toddler seat of the shopping cart at the grocery store. (Those seats typically cradle the bums of children wearing leaky diapers.) They toss them under their chair in a restaurant where the last customer just dropped a shrimp. And who doesn't plop their bag on the ground from time to time, possibly in the same spot where the neighbor just walked his dog.

Your Purse Could Be Making You Sick

Can Your Purse Make You Sick?
It used to be that the worst thing you could say about someone's purse was that it was tacky. Now, it's "Get that germ-infested attempt at fashion out of here. I don't want to get sick."
That's a bit much, but researchers at the University of Arizona swabbed purses after they were left on bathroom floors and found evidence of fecal matter.
Other studies claim bacteria like e-coli can be brought into the home through purses, sparking some women to say purses need to be wiped down with anti-bacterial wipes daily.
While there is a slight risk of infection from bacteria on purses, experts say the actual chance it will happen is rare and that daily purse cleaning is not necessary.
"I think that if you really think that you put your purse in a contaminated area, then yes, I'd wipe it down and clean it. But for the most part, you're going to be ok," said Dr. Yvonne Braver with the Cleveland Clinic. "Most of these things are not going to hurt you. I think you should be smart about where you put your personal objects, but I don't think you need to clean your purse daily."
Experts say washing your hands regularly is much more important than washing your purse.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

don't even want to think about it....

Naked man arrested for concealed weapon

Bonfire Day

Ian, an English friend of mine that I met in Egypt taught me about Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night. According to Ian, they do all sorts of things for the day/evening. They eat treacle. They play with Catherine Wheels (a sort of fireworks named after the torture racks (stretching) in the Tower of London). They carry around models or effigies of Guy and go around begging saying, "Penny for Guy." They then use the money they get to buy fireworks, and then burn the effigies in bonfires.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow.

By god's mercy he was catch'd
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

November 5th, 1605, Guy Fawkes and 12 other men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament, but their plan was foiled when a letter sent to a friend of one of the men warning him to stay away that night, made its way to the King. Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellar with the 36 barrels of gunpowder.

The Gunpowder Plot:
After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.
On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.
Some of the English have been known to wonder, in a tongue in cheek kind of way, whether they are celebrating Fawkes' execution or honoring his attempt to do away with the government.


The next two weeks of work are going to be very stressful for me. Each day, the parents of one class will be in to watch (10 classes, so 10 days of stress). Monday will be the hibiscus class. The class (around 35 students) will be split into two groups, each in a different room. I am supposed to teach a 15 minute lesson in each of them. And they don't want it to be a normal lesson. They want a 'special' lesson to be taught, only they never really specified what they want me to be doing. I found out a couple of weeks ago that the parents were going to be coming in this month, but they didn't tell me any of the details. And when I asked, I didn't really get any answers.
I had a doctor's appointment for next week, made a couple of months ago, which they knew about. Last week they told me I had to change the appointment. Thanks for the advanced notice. Luckily I there was an opening this past Friday. So then Friday morning, I was getting ready to go to the hospital, when my work phoned to say I should go to work because I had to practice what ever lesson I was going to do with the class on Monday. Well, they should have thought of that BEFORE Friday. I went to the hospital, not to work, obviously. So then I had to spend my break from LCC at the kindy in order to discuss what I was going to do for the lesson. I said I would do basically what I would normally do, only a bit more organized. They said, no, they didn't want me doing that. They wanted a 'special' lesson. Well, I had asked many times before what I was supposed to be doing and never got an answer. Anyway, I went and spoke to the hibiscus class teacher. They practiced the chant for the last book that we had done. So I will read through that book once (with the students repeating) and then do the chant, as well as a song or two. So I am doing what I would normally teach. So then the office said that was okay. Oh... and all of these conversations were through Kelly, the Korean English teacher, as none of the others speak any English.
Oh... and Friday the said I should wear a suit or something like that. For the next 2 weeks. Nice. I have no suit, nor will I be getting one due to lack of money and the fact that it isn't exactly easy to find things that actually fit me in this country. I don't even have a pair of black pants here!! I will wear what I wear, and they can deal with it. It's not like I wear grubby clothes or anything.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


at the kindy school
Some time after I took this picture, the fur was trimmed a bit, rather unevenly, I might add.

Carter Says...

Carter Says Claim That North Korea Cheated Is `False' (Update1)
By Judy Mathewson
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration claim that North Korea cheated or reneged on a 1994 agreement with the U.S. to freeze its nuclear program is "completely false and ridiculous,'' former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said.
Carter, a Democrat who helped broker the agreement with the North Koreans on behalf of then-President Bill Clinton, said the pact was "observed pretty well by both sides'' for eight years.
"It lasted until 2002 when the United States in effect abandoned that agreement and branded North Korea as an axis of evil,'' Carter, 82, said in an interview to be broadcast this weekend on "Conversations with Judy Woodruff'' on Bloomberg Television. Carter also said the U.S. further undermined the agreement by condemning summit meetings that took place in 2000 between North Korea and South Korea.
President George W. Bush said on Oct. 11, two days after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb, that the 1994 agreement "just didn't work.'' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Oct. 10 said the North Koreans "cheated'' on that agreement.
Jon B. Wolfsthal who lived on a North Korean nuclear reservation in 1995 and 1996 as a U.S. monitor, said the reality of how the deal unraveled is more nuanced than either the Carter or Rice account.
"There's plenty of blame to go around for both sides,'' said Wolfsthal, who is now a fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. In North Korea, his job had been to ensure that North Korea was complying with the 1994 agreement.
Fuel Oil
To begin with, the U.S. didn't keep to its required schedule under the agreement for delivering fuel oil to the North Koreans. The reason was because in 1995 the Republican-controlled Congress exercised its constitutional right not to fund such shipments, Wolfsthal said in a telephone interview.
While the agreement didn't explicitly forbid the North Koreans from enriching uranium, Wolfsthal said "the spirit of the agreement was that they shouldn't do that, though.''
"Eventually there was a breakdown in both momentum and trust on both sides,'' he said, with another reason being the U.S. failure to recognize North Korea in the same way that China and Russia had officially recognized South Korea.
"The North Koreans can rightly argue that they didn't get what they were promised,'' he said in a telephone interview. "North Korea is accused of cheating by the United States, but the United States wanted the deal dead anyway.''

please don't

US 'steps up' plans for N Korea strike
THE Pentagon has stepped up planning for attacks on North Korean nuclear facilities and is bolstering US nuclear forces in the region, The Washington Times reported overnight, citing officials familiar with the process.
The officials said the planning includes detailed programs for using special operations commando raids or Tomahawk cruise missile strikes to disable North Korea's plutonium-processing facility at Yongbyon.
"Other than nuclear strikes, which are considered excessive, there are several options now in place. Planning has been accelerated," a Pentagon official was quoted as saying.
A Pentagon spokesman said that while the military always plans for a variety of contingencies, the story "mischaracterised the approach (to North Korea) within the department."
"The president has made it clear we are pursuing a diplomatic approach through the six party talks and with the international community to reach a peaceful and diplomatic solution," said Major David Smith.
The Times said the military planning was given new impetus by North Korea's October 9 nuclear test, and by growing opposition to its nuclear program by China and South Korea.
A second senior US defence official quoted in the article said the United States had recently assured Japan and South Korea that it would use nuclear weapons to deter North Korea.
"We will resort to whatever force levels we need to have, to defend the Republic of Korea. That nuclear deterrence is in place," the senior official said.
The official declined to say what nuclear forces the United States has in the region, but the report said other officials said they include bombs and air-launched missiles stored in Guam that could be delivered by B-52 and B-2 bombers.
Nine nuclear-missile submarines regularly deploy to Asian waters from Washington state, the report said.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I suppose you could say I am obsessed with pens... they are one of my MANY obsessions. Korea only made that obsession worse, as they pens here are usually fun and colorful and CHEAP! Some are normal ink pens, some are gel pens, some are shimmer or sparkle pens. This is not all of them. I only brought about half of my pens with me back to Korea (I was here before, twice, each for at least a year). And those aren't the only ones I have here, either. I can say, however, that I have only bought about 8 pens so far this year, and some of them were marking pens for work.

and another view

One might ask WHY I need so many pens. I guess I don't really NEED them... but I do use them... for writing letters: yes, I write actual snail mail letters... on REALLY COOL stationery (another of my obsessions that being in Korea has fueled... I may post on that another time), and for doodling.

very true

I have often thought this exact thing before.
Valuable also is the moral lesson of atheism. Virtuous atheists actually have a stronger claim to real goodness than virtuous Christians, Jews, or Muslims, because there can be no taint of cupboard love in their obedience to the moral law. They do not believe in a reward for goodness, and thus must love goodness for its own sake. The challenge to religious people is that they ought to do the good as if there were no afterlife, no heaven, no reward. God does not get a reward for all the good things he does, and if we are supposed to become as much the image of God as we can, as we are told in the scriptures, then we should seek out that life of love and service that is its own reward. [from What's Good About Atheism]

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Tonight I went to a concert with a friend of mine from work. It was a concert put on by Seoul National University's music students... playing traditional Korean instruments.

The 4 girls in the Hanboks in front were soloists for this part. I think they are playing the kayageum??? It sort of reminded me of a harp.

Lunch at the kindy.

The kindy school has a few cooks that make lunch for everyone in a tiny little kitchen. In the kitchen, there are 2 fridges, 2 huge sinks, a table, 3 huge rice pots along one wall, a 2 burner gas range in one corner, and a gas burner in the middle of the floor (usually with a big soup pot on it). I felt bad for them this summer, because there is NO air-conditioning in there, and with all of the burners going, it gets SO HOT in there. Anyway... I will try to remember to take pictures of my meals, and post some of them.
Today's lunch was rice (of course) with beans in it, cold boiled eggs and meat (pre-cooked) that have been marinated in a soy sauce mixture, seaweed soup (I opted out on that... can't stand the stuff), and the usual sides such as radish kimchi (on the right) and regular kimchi (left). The only way I like seaweed is in the form of 'kim' (middle), which is roasted, lightly brushed with sesame oil, and lightly salted. It is for wrapping around rice. It is also good on its own (depending on the brand, I suppose, as the stuff at the school isn't my favorite).

ARGH!!! ANTS!!!!

Yesterday when I came home from work, I sat down at my desk and went to turn my computer on, only to notice that there were ants crawling all over my desk. I opened my computer, and there were several crawling across the screen!!! I spent a while squishing every single little ant I could find. I couldn't figure out where they were coming from. They weren't on the floor around the desk, or on the wall. I'm not sure what attracted them, either, as there is no food on my desk or anything like that. They weren't just on my computer, either. They were on the Kleenex box and up the little bookshelf that I have sitting on the desk. I think I killed around 30 or 40 ants by the end of the evening. I moved Tokki out of the living room and sprayed before I went to bed. So far, so good. I haven't seen any yet today.
Did I mention I HATE ANTS??!!!!!!