Thursday, December 29, 2005

My Tracks Online!

Wow... it's been forever since I posted. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I'm gonna hit Pusan with a friend for New Years. Have spent the last three days until 5am getting my track uploaded. Almost all of them are from summer 2004, the summer of my broken ankle... My more recent tracks are all unfinished :( So please, check em out, vote on them if you want, give me some feed back... whatever you want. Don't worry, right now I'm still planning on keeping my day job :)


ps. If you click on the play "hifi" button the track will open in a new player window, minimize this window if you like and then go back to browsing!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Toy Trends

It’s really amazing, the speed at which the latest and greatest toys come and go in the classroom here in Korea. I always take a few minutes at the start of each class to play with whatever strange item the kids have found to occupy their short attention spans.

December 6, 2005 -

Toy: Slime -A- Foam

Up and Coming? A 10 year old girl brought this to class today, a bunch of boys and girls were crowded around her. Appears to be a unisex toy.

Description: A viscous, green, gooey, slime, filled with what looks like miniature Styrofoam balls.

Closest Relative from my Generation: Gack – A neon, snotty goo that was fun to squish and didn’t stick to your hands. Usually dried up and got completely saturated with dirt after a few days. Could never be reconstituted, I tried everything from water to cooking oil.

Fun Factor (3/5): Fun to squish, not much else can be done with it
Durability (2/5): Will suffer from the same fallbacks as Gack
Affordability (?/5): Unknown
Disruption Factor (1/5): Relatively low as it makes no noise and only little mess... so far

Toy: Dinosaur Eggs

Up and Coming? Already Past

Description: Small jelly eggs of various colors that like to reside in very moist areas. If left in water they will grow to three or four times their size. Students appear to adopt eggs from other students. Those who cannot afford aquatic homes for their eggs resort to a box lined with moist toilet paper.

Closest Relative from my Generation: Bath Bubbles?

Fun Factor (2/5): What can you really do with these things? Watching them grow is like watching paint dry. They also break at the slightest touch and are high maintenance, but they do feel cool.
Durability (1/5): Awful as excessive handling means broken eggs and jelly left everywhere
Affordability (4/5): 1000-2000
Disruption Factor (4/5): High due to maintenance requirements. Students are constantly trying to nurture eggs. Lots of crying and fights caused by students handling, stealing and breaking each other’s eggs

Toy: Top

Up and Coming? Already Past

Description: Large, futuristic plastic housing on a solid metal plate. A kind of launcher/gun is used to get these beasts into motion. The top is clicked into the launcher and a Zap-Strap looking device is pulled through some gears to get the top up to speed. The strap can then be used to guide the heavy, spinning top into your opponents or around obstacles. (Predominantly male toy)

Closest Relative from my Generation: I don’t know, never played with tops

Fun Factor (4/5): These things are pretty sweet, they’ll spin on stuff you never thought possible. Being able to make them fight is definitely a bonus!
Durability (4.5/5): I’ve seen these things dive off of tables and ricochet into desks, walls and doors. If they do fly apart they can be put back together!
Affordability (3/5): 2000-5000
Disruption Factor (3/5): It’s not the kind of thing you can play with when stationary though my boys still manage to figure out ways to amuses themselves with them during class. Getting the boys off the floor and out of war mode is the most difficult part.

Toy: Spherical Magnets

Up and Coming? Already Past but most long lived and popular toy I have seen to date

Description: Two black, shiny, spherical magnets. These things make the most head splitting racket when they collide and this is the thing to make these magnets do. They are either launched in the air so that they collide or one is placed under, above, in front of, behind or between an object so as to make it appear the other magnet is moving on it’s own by shear magic.

Closest Relative from my Generation: Magnets, these simple chunks of iron have been entertaining humanity since they were discovered.

Fun Factor (4.5/5): I hate to admit they’re addictive little buggers to play with. The sound isn’t so annoying when you are the one throwing them.
Durability (5/5): How do you destroy a magnet?
Affordability (3/5): 2000-4000
Disruption Factor (5/5): Huge! I couldn’t go anywhere in the school and not hear kids playing with this things. The rattle they made, made me jump all the time. Even worse they are easily concealed and can provide hours of entertainment for kids during an English class. Can also have fatal consequences for kids when they try to stick them to my aluminum laptop!


Up and Coming?


Closest Relative from my Generation:

Fun Factor (/5):
Durability (/5):
Affordability (/5):
Disruption Factor (/5):

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

RamiOn Toes


The week didn’t start that well. For almost a month now my roommate and I have had to deal with a favorite Ramion Noodle pot being broken. Something in the handle had dislodged allowing for the pot to do a 360 around it. Ironically, Jason had mentioned the pot wasn’t a good thing to have around only a few days ago.

On Monday I was walking over to the TV with a scrumptious bowl of still boiling Ramion noodles when the inevitable happened. The broth shifted, the pot rotated and the piping hot liquid spilled onto the floor and my toes. I’m pretty sure I cursed at the top of my lungs, then dropped the pot, kicked my right foot about madly and then ripped off my sock as fast as humanly possible.

The worst part is couldn’t even milk a sick day from the incident... and my lunch was all over the floor.

Tuesday December 6th

Bigger Blisters

Things will get worse before they get better.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Korg Kontrol 49 Review / First Impressions

You can*t even fathom how difficult it is to sit hear and write this review of my Korg Kontrol 49 when I could be using it, but, I owe it to all those who*s reviews have helped me make wise purchases. What follows will be a detailed account of my first impressions of the Korg Kontrol 49.

To begin, I should mention I am by no means a pianist or keyboard player, the whole world of Midi is foreign to me. I have had an obsession with computer based music production for just over six years. It started on a pc with fruity loops and has now progressed to Power Book G4 running, Reason, Live, Logic, Garage Band and DJ~1800.

I*ve used one Midi control surface in the past, just long enough so that I could still return it and get a refund. From this day forward I researched controllers in a search for the right one. The Korg Kontrol captivated me from the beginning. Initally, I was going to go for the Micro Kontrol, but after reading every review I could find on the net it became clear that the most important feature, the keyboard, was the products weakest point.

The Controller & My Needs

Logically, a person has to know what it is they want from a controller. In my case, it was a keyboard that spanned more than two octaves and keys that felt decent to the touch, I learned this was important after using the M~Audio Oxygen whose keys were way to light and springy. I*m a automation junky so sliders and rotary knobs were just as important to me. The Kontrol attracted me because not only did it meet my criteria, it vastly exceed them offering 12 pads, 8 sliders, 8 endless rotary encoders and a vector controller! At this point I couldn*t really appreciate the other features the Kontrol 49 boasted as I had no clue what they would be good for.

Out of The Box

There were no surprises to be had by the time it came to opening the box, except for the fact is said **Made in Japan** on the side! After the amount of research I had done, I felt as though I already knew this machine. Regardless, I was hopeful that by some miracle they might have accidentally manufactured mine with an aluminum body... but alas it was the standard aluminum brushed plastic... the bottom is metal!

The unit is definitely sexy. The layout is both intuitive and ergonomic. It*s amazing how Korg managed to fit so much into a unit that has such a clean, uncluttered look. First thing I did was put it on the coffee table and try the keys. I wasn*t disappointed, the weight, dampening and rebound seemed comfortable. The footprint of the controller was bigger in depth (front to back) than I had imagined, but still not to big for my cramped room/studio. The sliders were a bit wobbly from side to side and the vector control does feel like it*s loose and could break off in your fingers if you really got into any kind of groove with it. Again, I had been forewarned about these things and was not disappointed. During normal use one doesn*t vigorously wobble the faders side to side, after normal use I think they*re quite solid.

Into The Computer

Hook up was as simple as it gets. I plugged the USB from the Kontrol to my PowerBook and I was up and running. The light display was truly amazing... this is enough reason in itself to buy the Kontrol. I*m not too sure why, but I decided to test it out in Garage Band, a program I rarely use. I think I had assumed it would be the most Midi user friendly... that every thing would just work. Oh~contraire, I couldn*t get anything besides the keyboard to function so I busted out the instruction manual. I really enjoy reading instruction manuals; usually I*ll sit down with my new toy and read them cover~to~cover. This is one of the first manuals I have come across that really intimidated me. Not only was it difficult for me as a beginner to follow, while it described processes with enough detail, it didn*t provide any explanations as to what these processes and functions would accomplish in human language. However, I don*t think I can fault the company too much for this... it would be like saying a book is bad just because you don*t have the skills to read and understand it.

Somehow, I still don*t know, I managed to assign a rotary knob to a pan function in Garage Band... but that was it. I was really disappointed the program didn*t have a learn function. I breezed the last half of the manual and decided to see if I could set the Kontrol up with Midi Strok to send keyboard commands to DJ~1800. (For some reason keystroke commands send from the controller to control the sliders didn*t work but all others did) Twelve hours ago I didn*t know DJ~1800 now offered v2.2 which supported Midi. Nonetheless, the time was not wasted as the set~up process taught me all about Midi Channels, Numbers and Values. I manually set the parameters for each pad, slider and rotary knob on my Konrol. It hasn*t even been 24 hours and I*m quite proficient at making adjustments to any surface on the fly.

One of the Kontrol*s best features is that is so easy to set. Most technicians could easily have made a nightmare out of programming the keyboard but I would compare the Korg*s intuitiveness to that of Apple*s. For example, I was expecting name input to be a painstakingly slow and tedious task like it is on most electronic devices. However, Korg has the ingenuity to limit names to 8 characters, enough to allow for both descriptiveness and legibility, and dedicates sliders 1~8 to selecting the character in the column equal to the number of the slider being moved. This is only one of three methods of text input; the pads and rotary knobs may also be used. This multi pronged approach to controlling the Kontrol is common theme.

After spending until about three in the morning manually programming a **Scene** for Dj~1800 I remember the packaged software included a librarian. I ran the application and was overjoyed with how simple it was to program the Kontrol from my PowerBook. The interface is typically Mac style. Loading and **Dumping** scenes was easy and I began to understand how powerful the tool at my fingertips really was. I could create endless customized scenes for all my favorite instruments and programs. If 12 banks didn*t suffice then I could save additional sets of 12 on my computer and just load them in when I needed them.

Dawn and Reason

Although I had to teach today and it was 5am I couldn*t resist testing my Kontrol in Reason. I switched over to the factory present Reason scene and selected my controller under Reason*s preferences. Things worked flawlessly. I struggled for a bit, trying to figure out how to control different components in my rack, but I*m pretty sure I*ve figured it out now. The Midi **override and learn** function in Reason are also really cool and convenient. I only fooled around for a half hour and I ended up saving the track because I was able to produce something that had a much more organic feel to it. It was the element of humanness that entered the music by having imperfect beats, varying velocities and greater depth.

Night Lights: It's hard to sleep with all these lights on...

When I Woke Up

I grabbed 6 hours sleep and resumed where I had left off. This time I down loaded a Demo version of Dj~1800 2,2 and leaned all about mapping Midi commands. Because the Dj software doesn*t have a learn function I became a lot more proficient at using both the keyboard and librarian to map my commands. While I haven*t had a chance to Dj with the Kontrol yet I have a feeling it will be an invaluable tool. The pads are perfect for cue, pause, play, time display toggle and player selection functions. The faders control the faders while rotary knobs cover pitch adjustments as well as the high and mid EQs. The only control I would like to see so far would be a cross fader style slider. I assigned cross~fade to a few different surfaces, the mod wheel and vertical sliders worked best, the vector controller is far to sensitive and doesn*t allow for smooth transitions.

Like many of the reviews have mentioned the LCD displays put the Kontrol head and shoulders above the completion. In addition to being able to assign logical names to almost every function the displays are color coded to make recognition that much quicker. The pads also illuminate and change colors. What I didn*t know is that if you record ~ say a drum loop in Reason ~ using the assigned pads, they will continue blinking is sequence during playback. Automation works similarly, the changing values are displayed in real time on the controller LCD*s.

Off To Teach

Unfortunately time passed quickly and I had to get to school where I though about the controller most of the day. While I have relatively little experience with Midi controllers I am well versed at scrutinizing the quality, ergonomics, logic and efficiency of goods. Thus far, the Korg Kontrol has done nothing but impress me. For a newbie entering the world of Midi, the Kontrol has made the introduction both exciting and relatively painless. I*ll be sure to provide more details once the novelty factor has worn off and I have had more time to become acquainted with my new toy.

Still Trying to Decide? Follow These Links...

Korg Kontrol 49 - Official Page
Keyboard Magazine Review
Future Producers Micro Kontrol Review
EM411 - MicroKontrol Review (Keyboard is the only big difference between the 49 and Micro)
ZZounds Reviews
EM411 - Micro Kontrol Forum
Future Producers Programming Help (A little insight into how programming works)
Mac Music Discussion Forum

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Record Post

If only I had the necessary ambition and creativity to write about something right now.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Naked in Kyong-Ju

I*d be on the balcony in my boxer shorts writing this, if I could only see my screen in the glaring sunshine! It rained for the first time in forever yesterday and today it*s back to blue skies. Last weekend the weather was equally brilliant, and I actually got out of town to take advantage of it.

My room mate Jason, his girlfriend Joy and I took off for Kyong~Ju, **The Museum Without Walls**. From what Jason explained to me, the city used to be the Capital of Korea. It was once a great Buddhist kingdom full of extravagant temples that were later destroyed during the Japanese rule in Korea. The first day we set out to marvel a some of the tombs and temples around the city.

The three of us took the bus from Gumi in the early after noon and arrived in Kyong~Ju a few hours later. We went to the biggest temple site and joined thousands of locals who had decided to do the same. I wonder how many other peoples photos I am in, there was never a moment where someone*s camera wasn*t going off. Now I feel bad for saying this, but temples and tombs really start to bore me after I have taken in one or two. It*s not that Korea*s relics are low quality, I got sick wandering the temples of Anchor Wat, a world wonder, after half a day. Eventually, I just rode around them on my dirt~bike, which is now my favorite way to tour historic sites ~ drive in, drive out! After the first few temples here, the rest of the day was just about wandering, having fun and enjoying good company.

After temple~ing we invited a american we had met back to town for some Sam~Gup~Sa and bowling! Three games cost a meager $2.30, she rental included. And we*re not talking a scungy mini, six pin bowling, this place was classy and regulation. I*m not much of a bowler, and I sucked as usual, but Joy, a stick thin Korean girl who had only bowled once in her life, was cleaning up. The running joke earlier that day was how we envisioned the bowling ball thumping down the lane with Joy*s slender hand and wrist still attached. Luckily, it never happened.

After bowling we said by to our new friend and headed for the nearest Jin~Jil~Bong, a Korean bath house... and this is where the story gets interesting. I*ve never stepped foot in a bath house, let alone a Korean bath house, so I had absolutely no Idea what to expect besides having to be but~naked with a lot of Korean men and my room mate. I*m fine with nudity and even public nudity as long as I still got my boxers on. Going through with this Jin~Jil~Bong experience would take as much courage as took to eat the silk worms I tasted at the temple that day and the raw oysters, eel and fish I ate last night. Bungee jumping from 200 feet (60.96m) meters in Quebec, riding a dirt bike down main street in Cambodia during rush hour and caving for 4 hours in Laos with motorbike helmet and a mini flashlight I received with my hair gel purchase, are all pale in comparison.

When you arrive you are given brown shorts, a brown shirt and a key. After depositing my shoes in the foot locker and chugging the last of my beer Jason and I headed for the mens* bath. Three floors up we entered the cleanest locker room I have ever seen. The room was twice the size of most big swimming pool locker rooms. There was a receptionist near the entrance selling tooth brushes, soap and other hygiene products. In the center of the room there was a 56 inch flat screen television and five or six Koreans chilling out on a large couch watching the Korean drama unfold. Beside the couch was a low wooden table like thing with eight dozen eggs and four koreans sitting on it. All of these guys had their brown UPS looking uniforms on, that would have been a little weird had they all been naked on the couch.

Lovely wooden lockers lined the wall adjacent from the entrance and off to the side, near the entrance to the baths, there was a large corridor with long mirrors on both walls, counters, sinks and all sorts of free body lotions, soaps etc. And then there were the naked, slightly nervous Korean men and boys... everywhere. I was equally nervous, and I still had my cloths on. I found my locker, right beside Jason*s, stripped and headed for the steamy glass doors.

Beyond those doors was a different world. The room opened up into a huge marble, tile and stone bathhouse with 6 different baths, a eucalyptus steam room, sauna, showers and banks of sinks, mirrors and plastic buckets. Tons of Koreans were sitting in these seats exfoliating and helping to scrub each~others backs. Jason and I had to shower first and then we hit the first tub. It was one of the hottest tubs, shared by four or five others. Making small talk with older Korean men on the streets can be difficult in and of itself, I don*t think I exchanged a single with any Korean during the hour I was there.

There was one pool that had this large red button on the wall. Of course, my curiosity drove me to push it and upon doing so four pressurized jets of water erupted from the wall and ceiling. I enjoyed three cycles of this pressure cleaning and then joined Jason in the Arctic pool. It was the kind of cold that made you fight for breath at first, but after acclimatizing it felt great. The pool also had a chin up bar hanging from the celling, I pulled of 15, 11 more than my record! It helped that half my body weight being displaced by water. Finally, I headed for the steam room, sucked back the eucalyptus and let my feet get massaged by the bubbly cold water in the troff below.

After putting on our uniforms we met up with joy on the sleeping floor. Just like in the changing room, the marble floors were radiating with heat. Korean families were scattered everywhere in the vast open room. There were no furnishings, everyone just found a spot on the floor. The are also had a small restaurant and a internet and video game room where all the Korean boys and girls could be found. Besides the main room there were eight or so fair sized sauna rooms with people relaxing and sleeping in them. Each one had a kind of theme. I stayed in one that had quartz crystal and other mineral~y stones carpeting the ceiling and walls. The floor was kind of bumpy and metallic. Than the was a wooden room and a red room and a low, low ceiling room etc. Most of these rooms were far too hot for me, or too noisy because kids were stalking and following me, so I went and tried to sleep in the common area.

When you do decide to go to seep you grab a **pillow** which is a large 6X6 chunk of wood and find a spot on the floor. No blankets, no mattress, no privacy. The fact the floor was heated was awesome but the marble didn*t have much give, nor did my wooden pillow. I tossed and turned a lot that night, occasionally waking up, legs intertwined with other peoples. Overall, not my worst sleep, though the skin on my hips was a little bruised. But for the equivalent of $7 a night, I*m not complaining.

The three of us left that morning, rented bicycles and did a 25km circut around the lake. It was probably one of the best days I have had out here. The weather was brilliant, yet again, and the fall colors were at their peak. People were out everywhere, walking, biking, driving pocket bikes and ATVs. Jason and paid $3 to do some traditional archery. We each got 10 arrows and I hit the target once at 50m... it was windy. Tired and hungry after the long bike, we indulged in Sam~Gup~Sa again and then took the bus home.

I faithfully compiled my expenses when I got home, the two days of buses, taxis, hotels, ice cream, bowling, admissions, junk food, meals, archery and rentals cost just under $75. Not bad for the most kick~ass trip I have had since arriving.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Catch All / Catch Up Post

Wow... it*s been a crazy end of October, life has been busy for this teacher. It seems I always think about this Blog when I*m in the shower. It*s been many showers since my last post and I have a whole bunch of random ideas I want to write on however, I*ll try to narrow it down to these select few:

Korean Soap ~ The Bar That Just Keeps on Giving

Hair Loss by the Bushel ~ Genetics, Stress or Pollution

Mom and Dad Don*t Read This! ~ I Caved and Bought a Sport Bike

West~Coasters Don*t Read This! ~ The Most Beautiful Fall Ever, Sunshine, Sunshine, Sunshine

Halloween of Thousand Screams ~ Does South Korea Only Stock One Costume?

(But first: Sad news... the screen on my camera broken.... so no pictures :(

Korean Soap ~ The Bar That Just Keeps on Giving

Korean Soap amazes me. Those who know me may claim I*m easily amazed... and they are right, but Korean soap is truly amazing. I bought a six~pack of cheapest soap I could find here on arrival; it was in a dusty corner of an old basement market. Six, rather large, rectangle bars were wrapped in cellophane with green Korean writing. There*s nothing fancy about it, there is little or no aroma, no markings on the face, and a total lack of ergonomic design. The bar is actually a bitch to keep hold of the first few showers. But here*s the thing.. the bar lasts decades! I*m still on my first bar! And yes, I do shower frequently, sometimes twice a day, nor am I stingy with my soap, I really lather up.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Ivory soap was among the first variety to float. The trade secret at the time was to mix a little something called air into it. Apparently consumers liked the novelty of not having to dive for their soap and I*m assuming the company didn*t have any issues with selling air to consumers. This is why I think soap back home is gone so quickly, usually in week in my case, they puff it up with air! At this rate I*ll only get through four of my six bars before my contract expires.
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Hair Loss by the Bushel ~ Genetics, Stress or Pollution

(Dramatization using picture of unrelated man... I'm not as bad as this poor sucker... yet)

While the scene is still set in the shower, here*s something that has me really concerned. About two weeks ago, I noticed a plethora of hairs carpeting the sides and bottom of our bathtub. Still in awe about how long my soap was lasting, I initially dismissed them as belonging to my semi~balding roommate. It was actually a little pissed that he would leave that much hair all over the tub. While towel drying my hair I kept getting pieces of it in my mouth. Then I ran my wet hands through my hair only to find six or seven hairs stuck on them. I repeated this process until my hands came out clean and then shook my head over the sink only to see more hairs fall out!

Worried, I ran to my computer and Googled **Rapid Hair Loss**. The genetics in my family should be pretty solid, both my mom and dad*s side had damn good~looking hair for their age. My self~diagnosis is either Telogen Effluvium, meaning my hairs are lazy and have entered a temporary resting phase or Trichotillomania, I am actually causing my own hair loss because I am pulling on my hair all the time to see if it is falling out.

I am hoping I have one of the disorders above, as the chances of a full recovery are almost certain. What*s scary is the fact I have talked with three of four teachers who have claimed to suffer from the same problem. One blamed his thinning hair on the pollution but the others shifted the blame to the kids... really, there is no doubt in my mind the kids are culpable.

If you*re a foreigner living in Korea, I*d be really interested to know the status of your hair since arriving. Just post a comment indicating weather your hair has gotten worse, better or stayed the same.
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Mom and Dad Don*t Read This! ~ I Caved and Bought a Sport Bike

I couldn*t take it any longer; there was a deep void in my life here. The adventure, independence, and rush quenched by my 2005 400cc Suzuki DRZ Dual Sport bike back home was going unsatisfied here; living in a country with some of the cheapest new and used motorbikes is the world, this unquenched thirst was unacceptable. So, after only three months I caved and bought a used 2003 250cc Hyosung Comet. (Unfortunately, this is considered a **big bike** in Korea. Larger bikes are harder to come by and quite a bit more expensive.)

I won*t get into great detail about riding in Korea as the content my not be suitable for all viewing audiences. Let me just say everyday is an adventure when you ride in this country. While road rules are fairly lax for all motorists here, it*s lawless for anyone on two wheels. Ride on the sidewalk, run the stoplight, take the opposite side of the street, it really doesn*t matter. Of course, I*m not suggesting I do any of these things...

So far I haven*t had that much opportunity to ride. As soon as I go on a weekend excursion I*ll be sure to post a little review incase anyone reading this is asking all the same questions I was when looking into a bike in Korea.
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West~Coasters Don*t Read This! ~ The Most Beautiful Fall Ever, Sunshine, Sunshine, Sunshine

On my Mac*s Dashboard there is a weather update **widget* for both Abbotsford and Gum. It seems every time I look, Abbotsford has 7 days of rain while Gumi is forecast with 7 days of sunshine. I can*t even remember the last day it rained here and if it*s not raining then the weather here doesn*t see any point in being cloudy.

Gumi South Korea has the most beautiful fall weather I can ever remember experiencing. Born in Nanaimo, BC, having spent significant portions of my life in Bella Coola, Armstrong, Victoria, Aarau Switzerland and most recently Abbotsford BC, I can claim with some degree of authority that the weather here is far superior to that of BC and northern Switzerland.

The other day I was wandering my usual path to school and I had to keep stopping to take it all it. It was that gorgeous, diffused, mid after noon light, in part reflected by the brilliant yellow and red leaves scattered in the streets. Everyone was wearing a grin on their face; kids and families were soaking up the sheer perfection of the day. While traffic and people hummed along the streets playful screams and shouts from children carried through the soft yet crisp air. Street vendors set their fruit out, mandarin oranges being the most abundantly displayed as they are now in season. For three dollars I received a black plastic bag filled with twenty or so oranges from the same old man who sold me the fig tree for my classroom two weeks earlier. I see him every day on the way to school, often he passes me an orange along the way and this day he made sure to top my bag up with some extras.

I will never forget this afternoon, with absolute certainty it will involuntarily consume me for split second sometime, somewhere in my life, over and over again, like so many other experiences I have savored.
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Halloween of a Thousand Screams ~ Does South Korea Only Stock One Costume?

Happy Halloween! Our Hogwan, like almost every other Hogwan, decided to throw together a Halloween party for the kids. Of course, we couldn*t simply have fun, there had to be some element of English involved in the whole production. The plan was the kids would exchange the coupons we give them for good marks, for little slips of paper representing dollars and cents. After the costume parade, they could use their currency to buy the stationary type supplies I had hauled on my back from Costco many miles away; they could also purchase food. It was my job to do up a menu for the event. I made Gim~Bop into **Fresh Maggot Rolls**, Dapoki into **Worm and Slug Stew**, Mandu into **Giant Spider Eggs** and Tuna Sandwiches into **Zombie Brain Sandwiches** and then found lots of gross pictures to go on the menu.

It*s late and I have already wrote too much tonight, so I will get right to the point. I have never seen such a lack of originality in Halloween costumes. I understand the whole idea is foreign, and thus unclear, but does everyone really have to buy a white Scream mask. There was even one boy who went through the effort of crafting his own out of cardboard! Now that I think about it, there wasn*t a single girl sporting a Scream mask, it was only the boys. In one class all of my boys ended up wearing the same costume! When all the classes gathered in the foyer it looked like a damn Scream convention. At least the boys who went for the more expensive version of the mask, the one where you can make fake blood trickle down the front, stood out from the crowed because they had red hands and faces from all the mishaps they had with the shotty pump mechanism.

I ended up dressing up as Gim Bop, the Korean food staple over here, like a big Sushi roll for any of those who don*t know. What started in my head as a fleeting idea during a teacher meeting became reality. The sheer simplicity of the costume is partly what drew me to it. I bought some black, mesh tarp, cut some armholes and wrapped it around me. At this point I just looked like a guy wearing a tarp. I found an old cardboard box and ripped it into two trips. Then made a circle of cardboard just big enough to rest on my shoulders and attached the tarp to the outside wall using Zap~Straps. With the puffed out ring around my neck I Now had that classic Gib~Bop look. Finally, using water colors, I painted half my face orange to represent carrot and the other half yellow for egg or that pickled yellow beat they throw in there. The whole thing went off really well. The funniest part was riding to the bar on my bike while wearing the costume, motorists were either perplexed or in hysterics.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Useful Links

If anyone has a link they think belongs here just post them in a comment and I*ll probably add them...

If you are looking for general Korean resources...
- Check out the exchange rates on any currency
Korean Won Tracker
- Choose your native currency as the base and pray for less Won to equal more of it - sell when you think the line is bottomed out!
Korea Customs Service
- Lots of good information on what you can bring into the country and what you might have to pay to do it. If you are posting a question be prepared to navigate a very non-intuitive site and wait a week for an answer
Dave*s ESL Cafe
- I really don*t think this one needs a description
Teaching Jobs in Thailand
- By virtue of reading this you have agreed not to seek any of the jobs listed on the linked site anytime the owner of this Blog is searching for a job there
Introduction to Korean
- The fun-nest and most effective way I have been able to learn Korean characters and their pronunciation

If scooters and mopeds just don't cut it...

Hyosung Motors
- Wicked cheap Korean motorbikes (Engines made by Suzuki)
Daelim Motors
- Hyosung*s competition (Engines made by Honda)
- Great site to find specifications, reviews and discussion groups on virtually every bike under the sun
Used Bike Checklist
- Don*t like getting ripped off? This is an extremely detailed list of what to look for so you don*t end up
with a lemon

If you like to make music...

Midi Sound (Translated)
- Big music store in Seoul with used equipment listings and discussion board (Korean Version)
OS X Audio
- Forums and product reviews for computer savvy musicians
- A wealth of information including articles, forums, a dictionary, user reviews, tutorials and more for the electronic musician
- An internet music store that will ship most items to Korea

If your electronics quit when they knew you couldn't speak the language...

Pentax International
- Service Centre Locator
Apple Asia
- Service Centre Locator

Saturday, October 22, 2005

GST Refund Cancelation Template

Here's a copy of the letter I sent to my tax center back home. Please feel free to distribute it as a template to any and all Canadains seeking non-residency status.


Tax Center of Surrey ----- Friday October 22, 2005
Attention: GST
9755 King George Hwy
Surrey, BC V3T 5E1

Comatosed (SIN: 666 666 666)
6 ** *** 6** (apart) 6***
D**** * ****
Gumi, Kyongbuk-Do 730-022
South Korea

To any of the nice Canadians there,

While I love getting GST refunds deposited into my account, I am requesting that you immediately cease giving me my-own money back. Again, please do not deposit any further GST refunds into my bank account.

As my current address indicates, I am no longer living in Canada. I left the country on July 21, 2005 and have no intention of returning any time soon. It is my dream, that after finding my way through this maze of government paperwork, I will be declared a non-resident of Canada and allowed to keep 24% more of my income.

Thank you for helping to make my dream come true.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Korean Hiking Experience

I*ve hiked a few mountains in a few countries over the past 24 years. When you mention hiking to most Canadians there are certainly some universal associations we make with the activity. Words that come to mind include rugged, natural, solitude and healthy. Switzerland modified and embellished on our Canadian hiking style, adding cows with oversized bells, gondola accents and beer gardens to the mix. Korea*s adaptation preserved the gondolas, instituted a BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) policy and substituted one tour busload of Koreans for every Swiss cow.

Rosie, a fellow Korean English teacher, her brother and I joint the **Crazy Mountain** hiking club on their tour bus at 0600, Sunday morning. That day I beat my earliest Korean wakeup by four and a half hours. The tour bus was sold out and I was the only Caucasian on it. By the way people were dressed you would have assumed we were headed for the base camp of Everest. I saw more Gore~Tex on that bus than I saw back home in West Coast Canada where Gore~Tex is a way of life.

Not only was everyone dressed to the hilt, they had full size backpacks on, carabineers attached on every free loop and more walking poles than Octopus would use, should an octopus ever acquire the capacity breath out of water, grasp poles and hike. And it should go without saying that everyone had brought their cell phone, Chicklet size mp3 player and digital camera... I*m pretty sure Korean scientists are working hard to find a way to integrate this last three items right into the skin. The only gear I shared in common with my new hiking comrades was the MP3 player (iPod ~ no Chicklet) and camera.

The journey by bus took around two hours, we made three stops along the way for bathroom breaks, food and coffee. I hadn*t eaten anything in the morning; besides the Gim~Bop I bought from 7~11 along the way, and an apple given to me on the bus. I made sure to fill up on some U~Dong soup, Gim~Bop and onion~ring chips at the first stop.

When we finally arrived at our mountain I was a little disappointed to be hiking on cement. Had I known this was going to be the case I would have worn sandals, not army boots.

However, before I knew it we were off the hard pack and climbing an alarmingly steep hillside. The fist hour consisted of nothing but switchbacks, stairs and occasionally resorting to all fours. I was astounded by how fit all of these middle aged Korean*s passing me were.

Finally, we reached the summit and after a little pushing and showing I was able to find a good spot to stand and relish the view. This was to be the first of four summits! Within minutes we were headed down only to go up again to the next summit.

The lead hiker/guide in the club was this amazingly fit Korean man, probably in his late twenties or early thirties, dressed in all black top of the line hiking gear including biking gloves. He looked like Crazy Mountain Club Special Forces, somebody they would send on a solo rescue mission during torrential downpour and against all odds. Whenever we hit a summit he would stand there, a brown plastic bottle of Hite Beer in one hand and a Korean cigarette in the other. I even spotted women who were old enough to be my grandma pulling beer bottles from their bags.

When lunch rolled around it was like trying to find a parking spot at the mall on the 24th of December. All the good spots were taken so we eventually just bush whacked into the forest and found a spot. Rosie unpacked a five~course meal for the three of us, which included hot soup, coffee and tea. While she text messaged friends I looked around at what everyone was eating and began to understand why they brought such large backpacks.

We proceeded to climb two more peaks and then the major decent started. By this time I had gone from talking, whistling, taking pictures and looking around to listening to my iPod, staring at my feet and contemplating how forgiving a flat stretch would be on my knees and thighs.

Once at the bottom many hikers stopped to soak their feet in the stream. Feet now revived we all went and spent some time at the close by temple and then headed for our bus… which they had decided to relocate over four kilometres away.

Along the way there were all sorts of groups of Korean*s laughing, picnicking and playing on the park grounds. One group in particular stood out from the rest. They were speaking louder, laughing harder and acting friendlier. A large keg of Korean wine, wine which I became acquainted with on the third peak, sat half empty on their picnic table.

One or two of them shouted a drunken hello as I passed and as quickly as I replied I was engulfed by the drunken mob. They pulled me to their table and handed me a large bowl of white, fermented Korean wine. Eager to show them I liked drinking too, I chugged the wine and ate the funky tasting, pickled, fermented, green leaf they offered me as a chaser. Alas, I would have happily stayed but I had a bus to catch and Rosie and her brother were waiting.

Overall this was one of my best days in Korea, right up there with the Yoga farting incident. (I haven*t gotten out of town much since my arrival) The weather, scenery and people were all magnificent. I earned my rest that night. More than anything, I*m looking forward to applying **Korean Hiking Style** to all future outdoor endeavours.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Today my Roommate Farted in Yoga Class

Wow, this Blog is rapidly deteriorating,,, from cheap breasts and lady~boys to farts. But seriously, today was undoubtedly one of the most hilarious days I have experienced since coming to Korea. I was laughing so hard my tears left a large wet spot on my Yoga matt.

My roommate and I have often had close calls in Yoga, many of the positions are such that you really have to hold back form letting one rip. Well today the inevitable happened, my roommate lost control for just a split second and let a thundering fart reverberate through the entire room. Everyone herd it,,, it was the kind of fart where it would just be foolish to pretend you hadn*t.

Three of us joined Yoga together about three weeks back, namely, my roommate, his Korean girlfriend and I. This story begins with us already in a fragile state. You see, this was now the second time my roommate had passed wind in the same class however, this time was much, much louder. So when I heard this rumbler, I collapsed into a heap on my matt and the other two followed my lead. We all tried our hardest to suppress our laughter but were powerless against the almighty, laugh~inspiring fart. Even our semi~serious female Yoga teacher couldn*t control herself. Her running commentary faltered along with her incredible balance as she tried, unsuccessfully, to maintain her composure. What followed was a vicious circle of laughter where we fed off of each other for the remaining twenty minutes of the class.

The other three woman didn*t seem to find the whole ordeal nearly as amusing as we did. All I could think about was what it would sound like should it happen again in the current position. Watching my friends and instructor twitching, struggling and even collapsing while trying to hold simple positions only made things funnier.

Perhaps the greatest part of all is that the three of us, and our instructor, sat with a cup of tea and reminisced in incredible detail about the events leading up to and following the fart. We did full~on re~enactments which made us laugh almost as hard as the original act. But of course, it was the classic taboo~laughter that made the situation so gut wrenching in the first place. Oddly, I think we all feel much closer to our instructor now,,, we all share this moment and the same childish sense of humour.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cheap Breasts

It*s absolutely brilliant that Koreans like chicken breasts about as much as we like chicken feet, in fact, chicken breasts are simply a by-product of the foot, gizzard and liver extraction process here. I bought 14 of the most beautiful, fat free, plump chicken breasts for only 6,500 won: that*s 1.5 kilograms of all white chicken meat for seven bucks Canadian. I*ve had them before ~ and they*re tastier than the breasts back home!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Korean vs Canadian Spending

OK, if money, numbers, graphs, statistics and analysis don*t excite you ~ STOP READING NOW!

Spread Sheet Evolution
Categorical Spending
Total Spending
Spending Frequency
>>>KOR vs CAN Monthly Spending
>>>KOR vs CAN Total Monthly Spending
>>>KOR vs CAN Spending Frequency


Please believe me when I say I used to hate Social Science Research Methods, Statistics and math with a passion. The only part of those classes I looked forward to were the computer labs, where Jerry (one of the strangest guys I ever met) and my girlfriend at the time would spend the entire class cracking up at ourselves and with our strange but lovable female professor. Since this time I have become somewhat of a spreadsheet~statistical~analysis ~junky.


This post is going to take and in~depth look at the Cost of Living in Korea versus Canada. While sifting through Dave*s Esl Cafe for days on end, prior to making my decision to come and teach in Korea, one of the questions I came across most often was, **How much money can I save?** No doubt, this was one of the most important questions on my agenda too. At the time there were some good approximations however, I couldn*t find any comparisons based on concrete data. Well, I am now filling this void.


Prior to delving into the exciting world of cost and analysis it is necessary to clarify my life style and spending habits. Do consider that the Canaidian life style I describe is that of a student who had regular summer jobs, thousands in student loans and much~appreciated assistance from his parents. Money is definitely important to me... I*ll simply attribute this to my being a Taurus and Rooster... rather than suggest it had anything to do with my upbringing.

I wouldn*t go as far as to say I am thrifty, or cheep, but I hate wasting money. I*m the guy who will search at least four different electronic stores for a cheaper price on the same product. I*ve actually made Future Shop "Meet and Beat" Staples, "lower advertised price"... on this very optical mouse I*m using!

If I go out for dinner, which was rare because A: I love cooking and B: I think my food tastes much better than the generic dishes BP and Earls serve up, I rather order water with my meal. My old room mate and I could see our breath while writing essays because we would rather wear four sweaters than waste money on heating. I*d save the difference and put it into a pair dirt biking boots or Dj equipment. When I do spend, I pay for quality... I go for the Toshiba DVD player, Asiago Parmesan cheese and Japanese chefs knives.

Spread Sheet Evolution

Over the last three years I have my spreadsheet has never stopped evolving. It tracks my spending on a daily bases across about 15 categories. At the end of each day I simply tally up the bills for each category and punch in the totals. At the end of each month the category totals are saved for that month and the whole process starts over again. As of now, I have 3 years of raw data. Note, each year also contains all 12 original monthly tracking sheets. And tough one might think what a waste of life, the whole process only takes about five minutes a day. As a result, I have a pretty good knowledge about were my money goes.


As I have only been living in Korea for two moths I only had this data at my disposal. November 05 and May 05, were pulled from the Canadian data. These months were selected because they were closest to my average monthly spending. The Korean months, August and September will likely be un~proportionately high as these were **settling in** months that required numerous purchases and a four~day visa run to Japan. To make comparisons possible, all Canadian expenditures were converted into Korean funds at the then current exchange rate of w888.17 WON to $1 CAD – I generally just go with 1000 to 1 when out and about.


Categorical Spending

Groceries are generally much cheaper than in Canada, especially when bought from the numerous markets, which line the street to my school. The first month*s shopping was expensive, because the cupboards needed stocking. There really isn*t any food item I hesitate to buy here except beef, because I*d rather burn my money. One of may beautiful things about this country is the fact you can shop at a corner store and not walk out feeling like you were just robbed.

Restaurant spending has tripled, however, there is some interesting rational for this below.

Work costs were only high due to the visa run which included the costs of the train, taxies and visa itself. Fuel and bike costs, which accounted for a significant amount of my spending back home, are no more ~ I love no fuel, but I miss having a bike.

Junk ~ I buy much more of it now, everyday on my way to school, hot, deep~fried dough circles filled with brown sugar and cinnamon...mmmmm, candy and ice~cream. Ironically, I*m in better shape than ever, must be all the walking, yoga and hitting students.

Spending on cloths is high because when I arrived it was so hot I couldn*t ware a t~shirt for more than a day and I didn*t want to be doing laundry every three days. Then my brand~new, overpriced, $80, Winners, "G~Unit" jeans developed a bunch of holes in the ass for no apparent reason. So I decided to go on a shopping spree in Japan!

Home costs are higher because of my fancy new computer chair, kick ass chefs knives and some tools and hardware.

Phone service here is inexpensive and will only get cheaper now that I am using Skype and iChat! The spike in September*s bill is because Koreans also insist on charging those ridiculous connection fees for Internet and phone.

Total Spending

Though my spending has gone up in almost every category over the last two months here in Korea, I actually have spent 25% less than I did in my two Canadian months. Note that the Canadian months also include averaged tuition and monthly rent, two burdens I am now free of. Korean utilities are my responsibility and they cost around $70 month when split between my roommate and I. The previous costs, phone costs and my Japan trip have all been included in the monthly totals.

Spending Frequency

While it was obvious I was spending more money in areas I hadn*t back home, the graphs don't make clear if I am simply paying more for certain things or spending at a higher frequency. The latter is thankfully the case. I messed around in Excel until I learned the **count** function, which conveniently added up how many times I spent money in each category in one month. Restaurant spending is beautiful example. I spent three times more on restaurants here in July than I did in Canada in November, but I ate out eight times more often than I did back home. This means I went to restaurants the equivalent of every other day, sometimes twice a day, which wouldn*t have been accounted for in the frequencies.

I spent in all categories with far more frequency that I did back home and you don*t even need a graph so see this, just look at how bare my Canadian monthly spending sheets are. Transportation is another good example, I*ve taken over 40 cab rides here in the last two months, more than I*ve probably taken in my whole life in Canada!


To answerer the question of weather or not you will save money... it really depends what kind of a spender you are. What I can guarantee is that life is far cheaper here in Korea than it is in Canada and most other developed countries. Furthermore, things will only get cheaper as the initial **set~up** phase passes and I figure out where the cheapest lemons can be bought. While my spending has only dropped by 25% or so, my standard of living has increased six fold. I spend much more freely here than I did back home. I order beer with every meal now!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Latest Korean Toy Craze

2:15am, just arrived home from the bar... had a bad night. Smashed a bottle, punched some Styrofoam, picked up a large stick and swatted at random things on the walk home. The strange thing is, I*m not an aggressive person... but it felt good to release some anger tonight.

On happier note, I remixed the school bell for 12 hours last night using Reason and Recycle! It*s kind of a hybrid between happy rave and trance... I like it!

Below is a post I wrote up a few days ago but never got around to posting.

Trendy Toys in Korea

Unfortunately, the latest and greatest toy is making its way around my Hogwan. It all began a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the staff room, when I heard a buzzing, electrifying sound from the hallway that scared the crap out of me. The noise can best be described as the sound a very large, ferocious flying insect would make when trapped up against a window or wall – or perhaps a large ferocious insect being electrocuted in a bug zapper. That*s it!!! I*ve finally pin pointed it! It sounds like an atomic powered bug zapper frying a dragonfly.

That*s what I think of every time I hear it... here*s a sound clip... you be the judge.

Sound Byte: Magnet Toss

Sound Byte: Kevin trying to tell me something... what exactly, I'm not sure

I think anyone besides an eight to fourteen year old Korean boy can agree that it*s certainly not a pleasant sound.

These headache instigators are generally spherical shaped, smooth, shiny and black, and come in sets of two. There are only a few games the kids have come up with to date – sadly lacking in any kind of originality. They just throw the magnets up in the air simultaneously and they attract each other, like good magnets do, and make the same hellish racket every time they collide.

The other, amazingly original trick is to place one magnet on one side of a inch thick object, such as a desk, and position the second magnet on the opposite side. Then the *magician* discreetly moves the magnet on the bottom side of the desk making it appear as though the other magnet is moving completely of its own accord... I mean please... come on.... Now I can relate to every time my parents chuckled at what I believed was the newest, never been done, fad.

Note the earrings

Whoever the guys are selling these; they must be raking it in. The trend spread faster than Paris Hilton in front of a camcorder. I*m going to find these moral-less marketers, profiteering at the expense of teacher*s already delicate sanity, and subject them to the same torture. I*m also going confiscate these toys starting tomorrow, that way I*ll have a set or two to play with back home.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gal-Be = Heaven

*Gal-be*, is the Korean word for *heaven* as far as I*m concerned. With just over ten months left on my contract, I*m already feeling disheartened about continuing my life void of certain Korean staples. Gal-be is one of these.

Gal-be derives its brilliance from its shear simplicity. To begin with, prominently displayed photos or drawings of pigs distinguish Gal-be restaurants from the rest and simultaneously provide passersby*s with a menu at a glance. After removing your shoes at the door, you take a seat on the floor amongst various Korean families and friends.

There*s none of this pondering the menu trying to decide if you should be adventurous or go with the same old favorite. Only two decisions are required: what type of alcohol you desire and how many portions of Gal-be you wish to eat. As quickly as these decisions have been reached the meal arrives. An iron cylinder filled with glowing ambers is placed in the center hole of the knee high table. A stainless steel grate is positioned overtop and switched periodically throughout the meal.

The biggest problem with Gal-be is allocating enough table space to accommodate all of the FREE, REFILLABLE dishes. Starting with the greens; there is a lettuce, green onion and chive salad mixed in a generously applied tart, yet sweet dressing, a plate with five varieties of lettuce, an entire cucumber, half a large carrot, two long green chili peppers, four gargantuan mint leaves and a hand full of fresh, peeled garlic cloves delicately wrapped in a lettuce and places in the center.

There is also a bowl of onion salad, which I recently discovered was excellent for grilling, and another bowl with two varieties of kim-chee... the Korean equivalent of salt. But no, that*s still not all! There is also a dish of co slaw like cabbage with a dollop of tasty vanilla yogurt dressing and peanuts sprinkled on top. Then there are the sauces, one of which is a bean paste that ranks right up there with Aroy-D sweet chili sauce from Thailand. The other is similar to Soya-sauce and used for dipping the freshly grilled meat in. Finally, there is big metal bowl of marinated pork! I was trying to figure out the cut today, to no avail, I think it could be from the rib area as there was a rib like bone in our dish this time around.

I*m a drummer, which also means I*m a fidgeter ~ always have been. It drives my family, friends and ex-girlfriends nuts. Gal-be demands close attention. The pork has to be placed on the grill, flipped to allow for even cooking and cut into bite size pieces using the large set of scissors provided. Not only is this meal a fidgeters dream, but it also satisfies my boyish fascination with fire! It is the ultimate first date meal, you can exude natural machismo grilling and slicing freshly killed swine, and you always have a sense of purpose just incase one of those awkwardly long silences develops. Once the pork is cooked you grab it with some chopsticks, dunk it in the sauces and then wrap it in a leaf with whatever you like, perhaps some grilled garlic and kim-chee, the possibilities are endless!

Tonight three of us ate four portions. I was stuffed, and it should be noted I hadn*t eaten all day and was extremely hung over. The bill came to 14,000 won, the equivalent of about $16 Canadian for the three of us. Let me phrase it another way: for $5.33 I spent over an hour vanquishing a day*s hunger from a selection of six different dishes.

Gal-be is heaven... perhaps I will never Korea.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ever Heard of Yoga?

I*ve never been with the times... I*m generally always two to three years behind... by that time everything has gotten a lot cheaper. I*m the guy who buys last seasons jeans and trendy shirts at Winners. I wait a good two weeks for the latest technology to go obsolete before I acquire it. So it figures that I just jumped on to the Yoga bandwagon.

Yoga is a... mmmm... sport... or perhaps an art... an aerobic... or is it a meditation ~ whatever it is, I could have cared less about it. Since moving to Korea I have led quite a lethargic life style consisting mainly of teaching, downloading, emailing, watching TV, drinking, Dj*ing, composing tracks on my Mac and learning html through a painstaking process of **republish entire blog** and **preview**. Until now I have justified this existence with the notion that once I had more funds at my disposal, and got over my tonsillitis, I would assume this incredibly active lifestyle.

Well now I have money... yet I am still a sloth. This morning I agreed to accompany my roommate, Jason, and his Korean girlfriend, Joy, to their second yoga class. I was amazed by just how exhilarating the five-minute walk to the gym was in and of itself! But the yoga class I was about to undertake would be far superior.

First off, I have to give some credit to people who can perform yoga with any aspect of fluidness. If I could buy three additional traits it would be balance, coordination and grace. I was like a fish out of water... flopping around on my double long yoga matt that had to accommodate my six foot five frame. Meanwhile. 15 middle age housewives and two young Korean women were adopting position the human body shouldn*t even be able to assume... effortlessly.

There*s this one, I*m sure we*ve all seen and liked, where you kind of do this elongated, slow humping movement along the ground and end up looking like a walrus. Ideally you move from having your ass up in the air to the extended walrus position in one fluid movement. My movement consisted of moving forward, collapsing with a thud beside my mat, readjusting, awkwardly assuming the extended walrus position and then doing the exact same thing in reverse.

Another one of my favorites was this position I*ll call the **Charmed Snake**. You start by wrapping your arms around each other, I wish I could be more specific but my body wasn*t capable of doing it, then wrap one leg over the other, squat down ninety degrees and do this all while standing on one foot. The harsh part was, I was already beat after the initial five minutes of cross-legged, circle fingered meditation. After the teacher came around and straitened my posture, I was shaking for the next five minutes trying to maintain it.

Well, it*s already 3:00am and I*ve herd from Jason, now a two-day yoga vet, the second day is worse than the first... I better get some rest if I want to keep up with those housewives tomorrow.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I Was Trip*n Hard Last Night!

Wow... I took my Korean anti-Tonsillitis drugs last night, grabbed two hours of sleep, woke up and felt like I was flying on XTC! As a result, I stayed up half the night working on my latest track. Took a sample of a French traveler friend who I met while backpacking through Thailand and chopped in up in Recycle. As I recall, we all had a few **special** cookies that night, so he is going off about how he loves the sound of geckos in such a smooth, thick, French accent I would have fallen in love with him were he not a man. Meanwhile, I have a gecko that instigated the whole conversation gecko-ing on a loop in the background.

Listen To French Guy Sample

DJ TTM & Comatose's Korean/Canadian Cross Continental Loop

I think I*m going to open up with the sound of the sampled cicadas I captured in the Jungle, move into the dialog and then keep both the cicadas and dialogue as a constant throughout the track. So far I have created what will most likely be my course... and it sounds wicked. I*ve managed to bring more of a fullness... a richness... an organic feel to this track... something almost all of my other tracks are missing. I*m excited... I*ll be sure to post it when I*m done!


Friday, September 16, 2005

Doctors Visits

Krista wasn*t kidding when she told me Koreans go to the Doctor for EVERYTHING. I saw three kids with potentially life threatening scratches to their elbows and knees playing on the automated height-measuring machine. Actually, I*m not one to make fun of them, my condition didn*t appear to be much worse than anyone else*s.

Doctors, medical facilities and medicine are just a few things I try to keep my distance from. However, orders from my Hog-Wan to report to the doctor left me with no choice but to head for the clinic. Waiting rooms are peculiar places... sterile congregation areas for the infected. One Korean woman had that kind of deep, lung-scraping cough that made you instinctually want to leave the room.

Even more concerning, was the way she went about coughing, ensuring she misted every inch of that room with her germs and lung particulate. Koreans are oblivious to the concept of covering your mouth when you cough. I can deal with the reality Koreans will never let people out before they go in, hold the door open for others or chew with their mouths closed, but we must oppress this cultures nasty habit of coughing as if to share it with the entire world.

The nurses saved me from the germ sprinkler and brought me to the secondary waiting room, a little closer than the initial waiting room and void of magazines. Once in my doctor*s office I noticed his hands were soft and delicate, he looked to be somewhere between 45 and 55. The flat screen monitor in his office had so many windows open I figured he was simultaneously overseeing a mission to the moon. He depressed my tongue with a metal thing instead of the standard Popsicle stick they use back home. Then He put on one of those crazy, circular metal, relfelctor things, with the eyehole in the middle, that you only see on those universal, simplistic doctor signs -- and peered into my nostrils. Three minutes after it all began I was finished, and it only cost me the equivalent of a dollar for every minute I was there!

The prognosis: Tonsillitis. Down at pharmacy, while they where filling my prescription, a package of **Medicinal Cigarettes** caught my attention. Strait form China, they boasted, **These Herb Medicine Smoke Substitutes are a Revolution of Innocence in its Taste and Sense...** SOLD! I picked up my whole color spectrum of pills, conveniently grouped and individually packaged for each day, and went home.

Taking pills at home in Canada is bad enough, here, I*m scared shitless. Speaking of pills, it looks like I*m due for my first batch right now.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

English Idiocies

Being an English teacher in Korea has made me much more aware of my strange, difficult and inconsistent mother tong. I have always known English spelling was ridiculous, to this day I*m unable to make it through a whole typed page without errors (I shift all the blame for my inadequate spelling on manufacturers of spell checkers). Students constantly catch my spelling errors, luckily I have managed to package this weakness as a **Who can spot the error first** type of game. Sometimes kids as young as eight play along.

But just to exemplify exactly what it is I*m talking about: Why do we say, **Do you have an eraser or a pen?** But use some or any when we ask **Do you have any tape or some glue?** Is it because these things are not as easily quantified? Why was an actor in a movie but on TV? How close does something have to be before we refer to it as this instead of that? And if any/some refers to plural as in **Do you have any/some markers?** and we use these forms in special cases for singular objects such as tape, glue and string than why don*t we say, **Can you pass me those glue?** Wouldn*t that be logical? Finally, why do we have so many damn two-letter word, prepositions I believ, that when omitted make sentences incomprehensible and when mixed up change the whole meaning of the sentence?

I*m sure there are rational explanations for these English idiocies however, I think everyone can agree the English language defies all logic. To sum up, here are my two favorite answers from my Let*s Go 6 writing test:

(Test: Students look to pictures for answers to written questions)

Question: What did the girl do before she went to bed?
Answer: She brushed her horse before she went to bed.
Top Answer: She brushed her house before she went to bed.

Question: Which boy is Jack?
Answer: He is the boy who is eating curry.
Top Answer: He is the boy who is eating an Indian.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I Think I*m Going Blind

I*m starting to worry about my eyes, for the first half hour or so of every morning my vision is completely distorted (rubbing my eyes to point of eye-gasm may be a strong contributing factor). My eyes seem to accumulate this kind of slime in them. In the evenings they seem to be fine until I try to start my marking.... strange. I wonder if this has anything to do with my reading that Roosters (in the Chinese zodiac) are especially prone to vision disorders... Maybe it*s this apartment, my pillow or the mere fact I spend copious amounts of time in front of my shiny new G4 Power Book; which, by the way, has some kind of optical drive glitch. It was bound to happen just after I finished telling people how incredibly bomb proof Macs are.

I worked as Tech support for MSN one summer ago. The job was very accommodating of my broken ankle. As a result of this experience,I know exactly what information technical support is looking for. More importantly, I know all the crap they really don*t want to hear. It wasn*t the fact the call from Korea to the USA was costing me 15 cents for every minuet they kept me on hold that was frustrating me. Nor did I care that it was 1:00 in the morning and Apple was unable to provide me with any useful information about where I could find an apple store around here. What vexed me was the fact I had answered all my own questions prior to the call! I was simply wasting my time and my money verifying all my own answers. When I told Rick I had:

Tried 6 different types of media
Tried burning as different user
Repaired permissions
Ran **sudo daily, weekly, monthly**
Erased safari cache
Zapped PRAM
Reset PMU
Reinstalled latest Tiger Update: 10.4.2 Combo Update

He replied, **Looks like you covered a lot of ground... you should probably take it to an Authorized Apple Repair Center**. He even let me know it would be better to find a local center rather than ship my computer to the US or Canada... he was a wealth of information.

Well, enough bitching, looks like I*ll be headed to Seoul sooner than expected! On a completely different note, it always surprises how the original ideas I come here to post are never put to paper. I hope, one day, I*ll get around to writing about teaching English and living in Korea. In the mean time, I*m gonna stop writing as my vision is now limited to the bottom left corner of my right eye.