Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just Being Nominated

Over at The Hub of Sparkle, I've been nominated for a Klog award (for bloggers in Korea) in the "funniest blog" category. That's funny, eh?

So feel free to go vote for me hundreds of times. I think if I win, I will get a trip to some sunny beach in Thailand. At least, that's what I'm hoping. I'm using the secrets from The Secret to will the awarding of the Thailand vacation for winning the Klog award into being.

Really it's a crime Mister Pooper wasn't nominated in the funniest category, but he should just count himself lucky I haven't hurt him for his lack of posting. Granted, I don't know where he is - but I could will the universe to reveal his location if I wanted to.

Please feel free to swing on over and vote for Diana as the "Happiest Korea Blogger" as well. She makes me happy, anyways.

And thanks to Rob at Roboseyo for putting the awards together. Right. Now go vote. A sunny vacation is I am wanting. Fighting!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dokdo is Ours

My school agrees with this website. This is from one of the posters in our building's lobby promoting our new school:


Dokdo is a clearly Korean territory!
Can you not see the big-ass Korean flag that flies over the two rocks that are Dokdo? Do you see a Japanese flag? No? That's because Dokdo belongs to Korea.
A clearly Korea Dokdo is territory.

A clearly jackass is you if you think Dokdo is Takeshima. If you is want to fighting about it, you're is a clearly going to have to deal with this kid: (who lives on the same poster)

"Yah, what? You wanna fight about it? No? I thought not. Jackass!"

That kid is a clearly about ready to smack you one. I wouldn't argue with him. He'll a clearly kick your ass.


During the autumn I found a loaf of bread at Paris Baguette here that was on display as one of their "Fall Selections." It looked good so I snapped it up. I was so pleased with it; crusty on the outside and soft, yet dense on the inside - it's exactly how a proper loaf of bread is supposed to be. I've forgotten the Korean name, but it's a "wholemeal" loaf. Delicious.


Over the last few weeks I've been disappointed when I've gone to snag a loaf. They'd disappeared. Finally, last Thursday I left a note for the manager with my phone number at work, asking that they call me when they've baked up another batch of these bad boys. They called the next day while I was teaching and told my co-worker that if I agreed to buy the bread, they'll make it for me! So now we've got an arrangement where I stop in every Wednesday and pick up three loaves! SCORE! (I'll then stop by my friend's restaurant which is just a block away and share, giving them one of the loaves. I've turned them on to the goodness.) Back home I'll enjoy a fresh loaf for a couple days and then use the sliced up loaf in the freezer for breakfast toast and toasted sandwiches until Wednesday rolls around again. Maybe I should start a new "sandwich Thursday" feature here.


It's so nice to have some "real" bread, rather than the fluffy white crap that tastes like cake and is made out even more so when eaten, as a lot of Koreans do, with whipped cream. Yuck.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Puppy Dog Judges You

Judges that YOU look DELICIOUS!
"You gots bones. I spies 'em with my X-Ray Eyes! GIMME!"

Work and Stuff

I started teaching adult classes in the middle of December. When I was asked if I would agree to teach these classes, I didn't come right out and say "no way!" but I did say I didn't think our space was very appropriate to offer adult lessons. I work in a private English school (hagwon) for children, and there's no mistaking that when you come in and have a look at the place. I mentioned before the dismal state of the walls, with six years worth of stains and dirt and child-sized fingerprints. I tried each day to tune it out, but frankly it was pretty depressing. I've suggested many times that we were in desperate need of a paint job. Also, the furniture - other that that in the Teacher's Room, is all kid sized. I just couldn't imagine conducting a class where these businessmen have their knees smushed up under tiny tables.

I also casually mentioned that we were headed toward adapting a shaky version of my contract. I agreed to teach students in Elementary, Middle, and High schools. Already I was teaching kindergarten students, and now we were going to add adults as well?

I've got to say, my boss is pretty fantastic. It's unusual for an employer to even ASK a teacher to do this or that. Frankly, he doesn't have to - he could just as easily say, "Look, you - do what I tell ya." He's not like that, though, and I consider myself lucky. I'm grateful.

It turned out that I got all of my wishes. The math school my boss acquired was completed just in time to start my adult class on the 15th of December. A week later the whole of the English school was wallpapered. (It looks like it was wallpapered by people out on a day pass from an asylumn, but I'm not complaining. Even though every wall seems to be papered with a different version of crazy, it really does make a world of difference. I imagine mothers of prospective students won't be so put-off, but they're bound to be doubly impressed when they're led to my boss's swank new office at the math school.

As for teaching adults, it turns out to be a pleasure. I hadn't taught grown-ups since I left Japan over four and a half years ago, and I'd forgotten the satisfaction it gives me. It reminds me that actually, as a teacher, I rock. It's such a difference to be dealing with people who want to learn and are there spending their own money to do so. They're eager and happy to participate when they're in class, and even though it tacks on an extra hour to my work day, I don't mind at all. Unfortunately they all have busy lives, so it was only on the first day that I had a full class of students. Every single class since then has had at least one student missing, and more often than not half the class or more doesn't show up. The only time they managed to co-ordinate their absenteeism was on New Years Eve, which was nice. So they lack consistency, but I never have to tell them to sit down and stop hitting each other. Truthfully, I'd rather teach three adult classes than even half a kindergarten class.

It looks like I may end up doing just that. Today I was asked if it would be okay if another adult class starts up in February. It means I won't be finished working until after 10pm (Oh, once upon a time I used to get off at 7pm. Picture Edith Bunker now wailing "thoooose were the daaayyyyys!") Still, I'm not going to say no. We've been in an upswing since the beginning of the year. We seem to be getting a new student every day and I'm pleased. I was my boss to prosper; he's a good guy.

Even good guys make mistakes, though, and something unfortunate happened last Friday. I headed out with the boss and one of my co-workers from an impromptu "hwe-shick" (after work gathering) where we enjoyed some food and some makkoli. We had a bit of soju as well (my boss's preferred dog-hair) and you know how things can get. I'm still not quite sure what transpired even though I was sitting at the table. My mind tends to wander with rice-wine and loads of Korean speaking. My boss misspoke and my co-worker misunderstood and I started paying attention when I heard tears in her voice. Their subsequent conversation went on for a long time and I ended up excusing myself to head out into the cold night and leave them to their arguing. Some time after I left she ended up QUITTING!

I got together with her Sunday night and tried to dissuade her, but she's not having it. She's completely stubborn, and there's also a face-saving aspect that will not be squashed. She re-iterated her intention to quit at the weekly Monday afternoon meeting and my boss was surprised. As it tends to go, his recollection of events on Friday are blurred. He does feel horrible about it and wishes they could work it out, but my co-worker won't be moved. So it seems now there are even more changes to come next month, as we're starting to look for a new teacher.

Speaking of changes, I just finished watching the Inauguration on CNN. Holy hat, Aretha! (I think this might be my new expression of surprise for 2009, as in "Holy hat, Aretha! It shore be cold today!") President Obama sure can talk. I thought his speech was inspiring, ambitious and outstanding. Congrats, Americans!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My brother finally sent me a picture of my mother's broken arm. She fell while skating the day after Christmas and ended up having to have surgery about a week later. She described what the result looked like, but I couldn't imagine it. I asked her if she was a Transformer and she replied, "Yep. I'm an antennae." Ha! Anyhow, it makes me queasy just looking at the picture. Ugh. This device is called an External Fixator, or "Ex-Fix."

My mom's robot arm: stronger better faster painful. Poor Bunny, I hope you get better soon!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yum Yum, Bum!

Here's an interesting restaurant.


"Ddongo" means "asshole." So I guess "DDONGGGO" means "ASSHOOOOLE."

And in case you're wondering what kind of asshole you'll be enjoying at this fine restaurant:


"What's up, chicken's butt?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sashimi Buffet

Underneath my school there's a "hwe jjip" - meaning a raw fish restaurant. Just outside of the restaurant they've got this tent set-up with plastic tubs of water and piped in air that are filled with fish and such swimming around. If you're eating in the restaurant, once you place your order one of the staff is dispatched outside to the tubs to wrangle your fish and relieve him of life. Then he's cleaned and sliced and delivered back to your table all fresh and cold and ready to be eaten. You can also stop by the tent to get an order of freshly killed fish "to go" in a styrofoam container.


In the summer, there are a few tables set up outside where you can enjoy your fish and soju.

For the clever cats of the neighbourhood, though - this place is an all you can eat buffet, and it's free! Check out laser cat waiting to jump up on the wall once the guard leaves the fish unattended.


Closer, closer. Stealth. Patience.


Like a ninja, he sneaks even closer, distracting everyone with blurriness.


A-ha! The coast is clear!


Unfortunately I made a noise and kitty went back into hiding mode until I went away. I've stood quietly (but camera-less, sniff) before while the kitties pop their heads up from behind the tubs and claw a fish out before running away to eat their dinner. These smart kitties are there watching, waiting, and snatching every night, too! I'm going to try to snap a picture of a theft in progress, but I've got to be vewwwwwyyyy qwiet! I think the only way the restaurant owners can stop the poaching is to tie up a dog near the tubs. I hope that never happens. I'm rooting for the cats!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cookie, Please.

My Christmas cards are 3/4 done. I rule.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I've Got a Stalker

My hateful misogynist pal is at it again.

I've employed comment moderation specifically because of this guy, and it's made me happy to find his vicious comments blocked so that only I get the benefit of their spite. They roll off me, really. Like water and the duck's back sort of thing.

I posted about this guy's first assault back in August, and I've heard from him quite a few times since then. You can guess none of it's been pleasant.

So this troll man seems to not be satisfied that his OPINION is NOT! BEING! HEARD! and he's taken it upon himself to post about me on his site.
Here's his latest dig:

Ugly Foreign Bitches in Korea Part II


Holy Shit!
Am I wrong?
I couldn't get that drunk.

Check it out for yourself.
That isn't even funny. You live in Korea; you can get plastic surgery.

I'm not going to bother linking this prick again. If you're interested, you can find him through the August post I mentioned above. Beware. You will be warned by google (kudos to whoever reported him) but I'll warn you again his site is NSFW. It's really NSFY-(you) unless you're a fan of assholes.

A few weeks ago, I watched a program on the Discovery Channel about Steven Hawking called "The Theory of Everything" I'd been looking forward to it, as it had been hyped up in advertisements the month previous. There are loads of things I want to write about regarding that program, but one sentence in particular has stuck in my head.

There was a scientist who was talking as he stood in a library. He compared the known universe to the expansive booky space he was standing in. He then compared our galaxy to one of the shelved books, and our whole planet to one period (or as he put it, "full stop" heh heh, Brits, eh?) in the book. A dot.

That blew my mind, but it wasn't something I hadn't imagined before. I'd been taught in my Catholic school upbringing about infinity. Okay. But, still - I was never able to easily wrap my mind around that either.

What floored me, however, was the scientists talking of our past. They kept saying "when the universe was small."

Once more: "When the UNIVERSE was TINY!"

It wasn't even small. It was tiny. You could have fit a whole bunch of our universes in your pocket a few billion years ago. Did you know this? I didn't know this! I wanted the narrator and the scientists to grab a megaphone and enunciate, really, scream it, "WHEN THE UNIVERSE WAS TINY!"

All that didn't just get me thinking about the past of this place we inhabit, (in case you missed it: THE UNIVERSE WAS TINY!) but it gave me some perspective.

There is no moment more important than now. Right now, this moment, might be all you have. You're a smidgen in the grand scheme of things. Truthfully, you're not even a dot. Still, I wholeheartedly believe that what you put forth and how you contribute and generally how you BE, is if utmost importance. All you can truly own is your thoughts and your actions. Those are yours. The rest is going to have been small and will eventually get too huge to exist. In the meantime, there's now.

My stalker can suck it.

There are quite a few things one could call me to make me feel like shit. I'd only feel like shit if I thought for even a moment they might be true. Unfortunately for my stalker, UGLY isn't even close.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Strangely Psychic

The students waiting for their three o'clock class to begin today came barreling into the Teacher's Room in the middle of their daily game of Chase Each Other Around And Scream Your Head Off. The door of the Teacher's Room smashed into our new (used?) printer/photocopier that lives behind the door. BANG! This collision happens every day, many times over. It's not just the kids, either. All my co-workers tend to swing the door open crazily. Anyhow, I've recently noticed that I'm developing a nice deep wrinkle between my eyes from the furrowing of my brows. I need to stop all the grimacing.


So I pointed out to my co-worker that all the smashing into the machine cannot possibly be good for it. In fact, I said "You know, the photocopier is going to get hurt pretty soon if we don't find a way to stop the door from hitting it."

A couple hours later I noticed the machine had started to bleed.


Isn't that WEIRD? There are four containers of ink attached to the machine to allow it to print in colour, and only the red one (which is the third one farthest from the door) started to leak all over the place. I lifted up the copier to see that there's a flood of "blood" underneath and called my co-worker over to tell her we needed to call an ambulance.


Oh, and I forgot I took a picture of the scary saxophone playing Santa across from my school.


He's still standing there today, creeping me out almost two weeks after Christmas.

Happy Schnew Schnear!

Well well well, if it ain't 2009 already! Seriously,...weren't we just on the verge of maybe freaking out about the possible Millennium Meltdown just a few days ago? And now the first decade of the brave new world is nearing it's end. Crazy, man.

Celebrations were pretty subdued round these here parts. I went downtown with my co-worker and found one of the few expat bars to be playing some Johnny Cash Live CD just a few minutes after the giant countdown (which we totally forgot about when we were in the taxi.) There were about ten people at the bar and I think three of them were staff. It was mellllloooowww. And I found it somewhat depressssssing. So we moved on.

Locale number two was a bit better. We ran into people we knew who had gone there in the hopes of meeting us, so that was nice. A couple women in sparkly dresses played pool with their tall boyfriends. I don't know why I was surprised to learn they were Russians. I guess I just don't meet too many of them, but I had an interesting discussion with another Russian fellow, a student at the university, about the perceptions Koreans and us folks from other countries have about Russian expats here. I didn't find Texas Street in Busan to be the friendliest of places when I've visited there, but that's just my experience. If you're a foreign woman here and you're asked "Are you Russian?" that's pretty much the same as "Are you a hooker?" Anyhow...

I guess the highlight of the night was when there was some commotion at the other end of the bar. We looked over to see a guy falling off his stool on top of the woman sitting beside him. My friend ran over to help out and as soon as he grabbed ahold of Falling Down Guy he was puked on. I came over just as my friend started to dry heave in a sympathy/gross out barf. Falling Down Guy was still hurling, so I grabbed him by the back of the jacket and held his forehead with my other hand. Meanwhile, everyone else in the place cleared a wide berth.

I stayed there holding onto Buddy's dead weight for a long time, looking around and wondering if I was going to spend the rest of the night with my hands on him. Finally my friend returned from the washroom with his arm scrubbed raw and helped me, despite still gagging from the stink, spread Falling Down Guy out on a makeshift bed formed of barstools. I was thankful and wondrously free of puke-splatter!

And so that was just about that! It's a tradition here to head to a beach or maybe mountaintop to view the first sunrise of the New Year. I didn't catch the scenic view, but I think the sun was starting to glow shortly after we exited the Noraebang. So, uhm, yah.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you enjoyed the holidays. For those of you who headed back to work today, I empathize. Peace.