Friday, February 29, 2008


Seeing as I am officially unemployed in 4 weeks, I started thinking of what I am going to do next. I came up with a list of jobs that I am now qualified for after teaching English in Korea for 14 months.

Interpreter - I have learned to process a mixture of discordant sound effects and flurried hand gestures in my brain and extrapolate a meaning that is 93.4% correct. When broken English is added, my success rate jumps to 98.7%.

Editor - After reading and marking about 100 student essays per month, I am an expert at finding and correcting misplaced commas, sentence fragments, multiple uses of the be verb, and overuse of the electronic dictionary for words beyond vocabulary level and unrelated to context.

Stand Up Comedian - I have developed and perfected a repertoire of funny voices, accents, slapstick humor, goofy faces, and exaggerated body movements. I can be humerous on the spot, even under the pressure of fifteen bored students.

Celebrity Interviewer - I can get anyone to talk about any subject. Bring on everyone from Angelina Jolie to Justin Timberlake. I can handle them all.

Walking Dictionary/Thesaurus - Need a quick explanation of any word? I'm the person to go to. I can explain even the most complex word in the simplest of terms so that anyone can understand.

News Spinner - Fourteen months worth of writing report card and essay comments have given me the ability to make even the most annoying and stupid student sound like a wonderfully behaved genius without even breaking a sweat.

Anyone willing to hire me?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bayon Temple

Bayon is yet another temple in Cambodia. This one was memorable for all the carved stone faces
I love how the ruins of the temple are left in place right where they fell. To me, it's more interesting than clearing the rubble away to make what is left more pristine. The scattered stones and pillars add an air of mystery and tease you with the imagination of what was.

Sarah looking cute from the windowframe
Me hanging out in the doorframe

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another South Gate

Here's another South Gate, thankfully still intact after hundreds of years.

Some modern guards resting beside some ancient guards
Looking out at all the people, tuk tuks, motos, and elephants passing through his tunnel

Angkor Wat

For Lunar/Chinese New Year, I went to Cambodia with my friend Sarah. This is the first of several posts of pictures from Cambodia and specifically, Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a complex of temples near the old capital city of Siem Riep throughout the 12th century, as well as the name of the biggest and most famous temple. They are simply amazing to see. All of them are so complex, so different, and so beautiful.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Namdaemun is burning

The biggest event in Korea recently has been the arson of the nation's top cultural treasure. The South Gate in Seoul, called Namdaemun or Sungnyemun, was built in the late 1300s. On February 10th, an elderly Korean man, still angry about the amount of money he received from being forced to sell his land to the Korean government over a decade ago, set fire to the top of the wooden structure. It burned for several hours before finally collasping.
The aftermath was huge. All of Korea was in shock over this event. Many of my students brought it up in class and were personally sad and upset that someone would do this to something that their country holds so dear.
A week after the fire, Julian and I went into Seoul to see the remains of the gate.
The gate was quickly enclosed and shut off from the public. However, a glass wall is part of the enclosure so that people can come and look at the destroyed structure.
This man was bowing down in front of the memorial set up on the lawn in front of the gate. What sounded like traditional wailing/mourning music was playing from a loudspeaker. The atmosphere around the gate was similar to that for a funeral.

Hundreds of people were there to see firsthand the burned gate and to express their sorrows by laying flowers or writing personal sentiments.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

This always makes me laugh

We are using some new books at our school. One set of them is written by someone named Richard A. Boning. If you don't get it right away, just think about the possible nicknames this poor guy must have had to suffer through in middle school.
Everytime I take one of his books out in class, it always makes me smirk and laugh inside. I know it's dumb and juvenile. But sometimes you need to laugh at the small things in life to get you through another day of teaching.