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"So I guess this is where I'm supposed to introduce myself. I'm a Canadian male teaching ESL in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This will be my second stint teaching ESL, only this time I'll be teaching at a High School, using my actual teaching experience to use. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me - no question's too small. Take care, and enjoy the ride."

Other Blogs of Note

  • Student in Korea
  • Seoul Man
  • The Daily Kimchi
  • Surviving South Korea
  • Books I'm Reading

  • "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" by Niall Ferguson
  • "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami
  • "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington
  • "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" by Benjamin M Friedman
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  • Not much is new... Thursday, July 27, 2006 |

    I understand its been a while since i last posted anything on here; i've been kinda busy working 11 hour days, and well, its starting to wear on me. I only hope that i'll be able to actually enjoy my holidays, and not feel like sleeping in all the time. the good news is that when I'm away from my place, I usually go to bed much earlier than if I'm here surrounded by all those good things which distract me from sleep; but when I'm in under-developed countries, those same comforts make me feel really blessed to be where I am.
    Things with me haven't really changed a lot - the old adage of "no news is good news" sorta applies; talking to my brother, i feel guilty not posting anything, however, I'm not going to just make stuff up so that I can feel like I'm giving you time well spent - no sense in both of us wasting time.
    Things have changed a little with my classes - i've let go of one class I'd had for a while - if you remember my posting about "teacher, he's is from the bacumbaga", that's the one i lost. It was time for a change, and while i've unfortunately taken to task on a class of eight middle school girls in grade five and six, i've realized that certain comforts of the familiar are making me wish i had even "bacumbaga" back in exchange for about half a dozen of the girls. I like teaching girls, don't get me wrong. They do their homework much more steadily than the guys, and you can sway them with talk of a future education; but man, I hope that when I have children, my first child is a boy. if i have to worry about a middle school girl like one of these? I'm praying hard for a first child son already, and i'm still single, with no girlfriend.
    This weekend, I'm departing for Cambodia; prayers would be much appreciated. While i may talk tough on land-mines, truth be told, I'm scared to shit of the things, and I'm not joking. If i see the slightest protrusion out of the soil, i'll be running away like Noel Prefontaine in a short-distance track marathon.....pack or no pack. I'm excited about the possibilities, but I'm a little scared as well. I know that from most people i've talked to, Cambodia is even worse than China was in this regard: outside of tourism and hospitality industries, when you get outside of the city limits, you see poor like you've never seen them before; and that sorta stuff makes me feel so guilty for complaining about the crap i do on a regular basis. Its a good guilt though, because while i may not be able to help them out, it will at least remind me of how blessed I truly am already. So if you could offer prayers for safe travels, I would really appreciate it.
    Lastly, if you could offer prayers for south Korea. right now, we're expected to get another 300-mm of rain in less than 36 hours, and this is after another 500-mm of rain came in the past week; places are still flooded out right now, and its only going to get worse if they can't keep up with all this unexpected rain. the wealthy in seoul are doing fine; its the poor in the outer-lying regions outside of Seoul where this rain is doing the most damage; in low-lying farms and small towns. So if you could pray for them, I would appreciate it as well.
    take care all - with my new camera and tripod, i'll be taking as many pictures as my 1 gig card will hold; i'll be sure to post when I get back.
    God bless,

    Typhoon Ewinar Wednesday, July 12, 2006 |

    Before I came to Korea, I'd read reports about the seasonal weather that Korea goes through, with the Monsoon period lasting roughly a month through the late June early July months. Last years "monsoon" season came and went without a wimper; sure it rained a lot, but its just like a rainy April that we have in North America. Well, all that monsoon talk finally made sense just in the past 24 hours.
    Typhoon Ewinar (who picked that name for Typhoon submissions?) came through the south of Korea, and it was looking like it was going to pass Seoul; somethat that more than just a few of us were hoping for. There were six reported deaths in the south of Korea from flooding, power failure/shock. However, due to strong easterly winds, it was supposed to fly east of Seoul. That was until around 12:30 this morning, Tuesday July 12. Around 12:30, just about all national weather forecasters simultaneously shat a proverbial brick as their previously reported "passing by" of the typhoon/monsoon changed its direction, and the monsoon which always follows a typhoon decided to veer just enough left to hammer Seoul, right before the city workers could organize their resources. Starting at 2am, Seoul stated getting pelted with somewhere in the range of 300mm of rain AN HOUR. It was incredible to watch, and an absolute horror for just about anyone who works. By six am, there were reported floods all over the place, and a large amount of subway stations were turned into rivers of water, where almost all of the subway station platforms were flooded; a good six feet from the bottom where the subway tracks are. Just about the only people grinning were taxi drivers, who couldn't keep up with the demand. Where we live, things weren't that bad at all; I'm sure that our relatively new surroundings were much better off than the north end of the city, which is not as new and wealthy as the south of Seoul.
    As of right now, its been raining straight since 2am this morning (its 9:30pm) and the weather has died down to where the rain is just a whimper. I bet you wish you could be here right now....All in all, I'm glad I got to experience it; now i know what to tell people when i say "monsoon".

    Seen while walking... Sunday, July 09, 2006 |

    A few things that I've seen recently which I think that some of you might enjoy. South Korea might be a little closer/further from North America than you might think...
    1) Observed while walking through the small market beside my little grocery store. The meat market man, was weighing the meat of an older lady in her sixties on the scale. Now, the older lady was arguing with the man, NOT about the cigarette dangling from his lips that had ash falling over the open meats, but because it appeared as if his hands were adding extra weight to the scales...
    2) On the subway last week on my way back home from church, a small family sat down across from me, and the man had BANGS. I'm not talking about just simple hair dangling over his forehead, but serious bouncing "hair curler" bangs. And to further my surprise at this new fashion trend, his wife made sure they were straight by checking that they were straight.
    3) It is slightly unbecoming for a middle-aged man, or any man between his mid-twenties and late fifties to go barefoot in sandals in public. I do it, and most people look at me as if I'm straight off the set of "Lord of the Rings" with my short hair on my feet. (women can go in public without shaving their legs regularly and go barefoot all the time, and men need restrictions?) Regardless, the man in question was one-upping the frequent "socks in sport sandals" look by wearing coloured toe socks with his Nike ACG sandals as he prepared for his hiking trip.
    4) Pink is in. I don't know if this has made its way to North America, however, I don't think that it will be long before everything pink is seen on men; I've even fallen prey to this. However, the women think it looks even better on men than on women, so I'll wear my pink with pride.
    5) However...this is something that I do NOT think will come back to North America - White pants on men. I'm not talking about off-white, or cream coloured pants, but straight bleach white pants. Its almost become the new black for pants; it virtually matches with everything in your wardrobe. This is something I won't be partaking in.
    If I see more, I'll be sure to note them.
    God bless,

    Unconfirmed reports confirmed.... |

    Unlike I first suggested, apparently the South Korean scientists reported that our friendly dictator to the North's missile never engaged on the second stage; it only blew out its first stage. Which is why Kim Jong-Il promised future rounds of tests. Now, I'm no scientist, but I'd wager that the scientists working on his missile won't get too many more shots to get it right; if past instances of his ‘politeness’ are any indication, I'm sure if they miss on the second try, on the third, they'll be the first ever to fly first class on a Taepo-Dong2 missiles, strapped to the outside.
    Now, the scary thing about all of this is that if Kim Jong-Il is successful with his Taepo-Dong2 missile, this might make things just a little more scary in the middle East; North Korea's favourite trading partner just happens to be the country of Iran.
    scary stuff...the only country that I'd rank above North Korea in terms of unexpected "surprises" would be the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Hmmm....what's all this Taepo-dong2 talk... Wednesday, July 05, 2006 |

    So North Korea finally did what nobody thought they'd have enough balls to do; fire their missiles. Ironically, they decided to do it on the biggest holiday in the US, the vintage fourth of July. This is classic North Korean mentality. And I can only imagine what its like to watch the news on any American broadcast right now; I'd be especially interested in Fox's....nothing like a little fear-mongering...
    A quick viewing of the major US networks was enough to make me feel all warm and fuzzy. ABC's was quite nice, with the ONLY picture showing, of all people, South Korean's protesting the missile firing...interesting that 'that' was the only stock photo they could find associated with the article.... NBC was just as nice with their photo's, making South Korean's out to be angry, disgruntled citizens, fed up with the Kim Jong-Il regime. Fox was just beautiful, and made me want to find a tiny little island far far away from North Korea, and their evil leader.
    The interesting thing about all of this? Aside from the usual news reports and specials offered on the Korean news stations, most of them were just typical; sure, the missile firings obviously dominated the news, but other than that, life continues here like normal. If anything, we're probably safer in South Korea than those in Canada. Most South Korean's just hate Kim, Jong-Il because he's displaced so many families, and kidnapped so many South Korean's after the Korean War, and refuses to admit to all of the people he's kidnapped. However, most just know that he's a deranged little man. If anything, most South Korean's know their safe, but if they're angry, they're scared for the North Korean's living under his regime, who are stuck with his decisions, like lemmings.
    Last thing, because I'm sure that I'll be writing more about this in the future, for those of you who figured that things should be fine because his biggest missile fizzled only 35 seconds into his flight, I hate to say it, but Kim Jong-Il has then gotten the best of you. Here's where he's grinning...If his missile had fired any closer to Japan, then they would have, (with the support of all the US's technology handed to Japan for free) fired the whole gauntlet of missiles towards North Korea, hoping to do anything for firing the missile closer to Japan. If Jong-Il had fired past Japan, then the US would have seen it as an act of war, and basically launched the Pacific fleet on him. Instead, his missile flew up, and came straight down; he basically flicked off the US and Japan with the biggest middle finger he could find.....his Taepo-dong2 missile. He might be stupid when it comes to feeding his own people, but he's a wily S.O.B when it comes to international diplomacy. I still hate him, however, he unfortunately knows exactly what he's doing....
    take care, and God Bless

    a smorgasboard of stuff Saturday, July 01, 2006 |

    Well, I'm writing this as I'm eating my first ever burnt egg sandwich. The taste isn't as bad as I thought it would be, although the smoke signals that were sent from our apartment door probably alerted the neighbours (Which explains why the neighbour kids trooped on down the hallway, and walked on into our apt as if they owned the place.) They're cute kids, and one of them knows english pretty good; however, if their parents knew that they were walking around in the weyguk saram's apartment (korean-english for "foreign person"), then they'd probably get something short of a spanking, and a warning to not do it again....I should add that they were polite, and they removed their shoes before walking through our apartment and opening doors at random.
    I should add that the reason for my burnt egg sandwich was the smoking hot Lucy Lui. No, she wasn't in my apartment, although if she was, I wouldn't kick her out like we did to the kids. I just watched Lucky Number Slevin the other night, and although the movie wasn't half bad, Lucy Lui made the movie that much more enjoyable. Why can't this woman land a staring role somewhere outside of her often referenced role's in Charlie's Angel's? She's smoking, and I'd watch the dvd anytime just for her. Okay, enough about Lucy Lui.
    So, not much is new in the world of Bryan. My students have been complaining recently about how hard their lives are, due to mid-term tests at elementary school. One thing that maybe North America should introduce from South Korea is the jump-rope competitions that elementary schools have - each student MUST achieve a certain number of jumps, or risk being held after school to do extra exercising. This is all done to encourage a healthy lifestyle, and encourage not being obese and fat.....I fail to see the correlation of jump-rope keeping you thin and healthy, however, Mohammed Ali did jump-rope all the time in training for his bouts, and, well, you can argue that point of healthy-bodies and jump-rope with him; i for one wouldn't want to disagree after seeing the great shape he was in.
    The weather has turned sour, and we're now in monsoon season, where for the next two weeks or so, it will rain on and off pretty much 24 hours straight. Now, its not as bad as it seems, however, for me, and my forgetful nature, I hate having to remember to take my umbrella with me everywhere; I constantly forget it, and then get caught in a 30 second downpour that leaves me just wet enough to be uncomfortable. oh well, knowing me, by the time i get accustomed t taking the thing with me, it will be over, and then I'll leave the umbrella somewhere, and be just fine.
    Other than that, one of my smart students just got the awful but exciting news from her parents that they're sending her to an Australia boarding school to learn even more english. That's right - her parents aren't rich enough to already send her to two english institutes, but they decided that in order for their daughter to have the best education possible, she needs to go to Australia to live in a foreign english village, and learn and be forced to speak English full-time; kids here have it so rough. She's floored, although she was already the smartest girl in my class; I was asking if she'd like to take my "teacher, he's is from the bacumbagu" student, however, she balked at the idea; i'll never know why.
    take care all, and God bless!