ABC Puzzle

Ok… this is a small jump ahead to recent events… and I have yet to update about the K “Snail Genocide Incident” or the “O is for Otter, Not Beaver” stories yet… but while it’s right on my mind it needs to be written.

Yes, I teach kindergartens… yes.. we do the ABC song a lot…. yes we are always looking for activities to incorporate in teaching so they learn letters and words together. So..K finds a puzzle.. a puzzle sounds like a good idea. It’s not a huge puzzle but a definite challenge to small children, especially those learning a second language. Being not sure it was a good fit for the kids I decided to put the puzzle together myself. It’s your classic jigsaw puzzle for kids, the board you put the puzzle together on even has the outlines for what piece will go where, an aid for children obviously.

Working by myself I did the puzzle in about 10 mins, but still wasn’t convinced it’d be a good fit for 10 crazy 3/4 yr olds that argue over everything. So I left the puzzle together and set it aside for the time being. Well the other day I come back from my short break to find the kids engaged in their usual free time Power Ranger or Picnic games… and in the corner of the room, K with the disassembled ABC Puzzle. Noticing not much was solved I figured she’d just started on it and said nothing. K, asked if I was the one who put the puzzle together the first time, I said yea, took about 10 mins.  By the end of break time only a few pieces were in place.

After school I went to teach my later classes again leaving K behind beginning work on the puzzle a second time. At the end of the day I came back to find the puzzle still unsolved. Then the next day K says “You did the puzzle in 10 mins? I worked on it for 30 and couldn’t figure it out.” Keeping witty mouth in check I somehow managed to simply smile and nod. This is a puzzle for KIDS!!! and K a full grown adult, can’t solve it…. hmmmmmm… is all I’ve been able to say in response.

Cup cakes or Muffins??

Ok… time for the first installment of co-teacher stupidity!

“The Cup Cake or Muffin?? Cooking Incident.”

So most of us know the difference in cup cakes and muffins… even those who don’t cook much.  Cup cakes are lighter and more like cake, hence the name Cup Cakes…. and muffins are heavier and a bit more dense. Apparently not my 40 year old korean co-teacher though. She will be named “K” from here on out. Cooking class in one of the few things I’m supposed to let “K” teach… not because I can’t cook or anything, just because the director decided to let her teach it. We normally cook every Thursday as long as there’s no field trip planned.

Well one week I came to K, not knowing if she had any plans for cooking class, and told her “hey, I don’t know if you have cooking plans for tomorrow, but if not there’s Pancake mix back there, so we could always just do that.”   K- “Oh, yes… we’re going to make muffins.”  Followed by…”Can we use the Pancake mix to make muffins?”  Me-(puzzled look) “Uh, no…. Pancake mix won’t rise. You can make the batter from scratch though, it’s not hard. Or you can just use Cake mix…. but if you do that you’re making Cup Cakes.”  K-“What’s the difference in Cup cakes and Muffins?”   Me-(really, wtf?!?!) “Uh, Cup cakes are light and like mini cakes, muffins are heavier and a bit denser… but they still have to rise.”      K-(smiling and nodding) “Oh, ok.”  (Thinking things are clear now)

Later that day in the cooking area, myself and another coworker (M) are talking when K comes in and starts taking inventory of the cooking supplies. I’ve already informed “M” about the earlier… Cup cake VS Muffin questions… and the Pancake mix question. K says something to another korean TA, in korean thinking myself and “M” won’t understand (while neither of us speak the language fluently we can understand quite a bit). “M” opens up and says “no” in response… K (a bit surprised) “you understood that?” K, then picks up Pizza Dough mix and asks “M” if that would work for making muffins. “M” gives her practically the same response I did earlier about the Pancake mix, and also tells her about the Cake mix… but that then those are Cup cakes. Again… K smiles and nods and says ok.

THE NEXT DAY…. COOKING CLASS… K, has everything set and ready to go. I bring the kids in and class begins. Well since I’m not actually teaching I don’t always pay attention to what K is doing… figuring she’s an adult and can read simple directions. Well she’s having the kids “make it snow” with what I figured was just flour… figuring she’s just decided to make the batter from scratch. She’s then adding other ingredients, according to the directions she’s printed off. Mixing the batter she asks me if it’s supposed to be so sweet. I tried it and told her it was a little sweet but that’s ok… when they cook they become denser and loose some of the sweetness. Smiling she continues on… having the kids add fruit to their “muffins” according to the directions. She then pops them in the oven with class being done and it lunch time for the kids. Not even 10 mins later I smell something burning, and another teacher informs me stuff is burning… I ran back to the kitchen and pull the oven open to find our “muffins” burning. K-then comes and joins me asking “What, happened?? I followed the directions and set the oven to the exact temp” she states.  Me- “… I’m not sure… maybe because it’s a confectioner over.” Then looking at the “muffins” closer… Me- “But they’re cooked on the outside, but not inside.. so that means the oven is too high.” Checking all the settings again. I sat back in the kitchen trying to figure out what happened when I noticed a Cake mix box in the trash… suddenly I realized what she did. She hadn’t had the kids shifting flour… no it was Cake mix… just then she was also adding in more ingredients like sugar… that’s why it was too sweet. Also, she set the oven to the “Muffin” directions she’d printed out… not to the Cake mix directions. That’s why the oven was too hot and the outside of the “Cup cakes” was cooked but not the middle. K then came back into the room and I proceeded to question her on wether she just used the mix or she made the batter from scratch.  K-“Oh, I just used the mix, there wasn’t enough stuff to make batter from scratch.”  Me- (being as nice as possible at this point) “Ok, well since you used the Cake mix you have to set the oven according to the Cake mix box… and these aren’t “Muffins” then… they’re “Cup cakes,” and you didn’t have to add anything except some water and a few eggs to make the batter… that’s why it was too sweet.”  I then told her “You didn’t actually follow any of these muffin directions except the part where you add fruit… and how hot to set the oven.”    K- smiling and nodding again “Oh, ok” apparently still oblivious as to how dumb she had been.  I also took the time  to explain the difference in cooking temps and time… she still continued to smile and nod. That was the closest I came to actually physically shaking her and telling her to stop smiling and nodding if she didn’t actually understand.

I then left not only the room but the entire school and went outside and literally started yelling at no one in particular in order to vent my frustration. “M” saw me and knowing what was going on asked what the final verdict was. I explained what had just transpired and her only response was “retarded woman.”

Sadly, I still have to let K teach the cooking class…. she’s stayed away from baking things for the most part… except cookies just last week. I now keep a much closer eye on her cooking and what she is actually doing, and have prevented several other “mishaps.”


Ok… took a day trip with some coworkers to a nearby temple called Donghaksa. Here’s some pics.

While reviewing pictures, I realized I really shot a lot of ‘touristy’ pictures and was not very pleased with my quality of shooting. This happens all too easily when you can shoot 3000+ pics at one time and don’t have to make each shot count like you do when using film. I guess I was a bit spoiled with my “high tech gizmo.”


Ok.. I guess I should start making use of the ability to post some photography and try to start getting some stuff out there… I shoot not just for me to remember where I’ve been and what I did there, but to show what I see. We all see things differently and different things capture our eye. I’ve shot somethings in the past that I personally was not very thrilled with in the end, but others have like it enough to want a print.

I try not to shoot just the “pretty pictures.” Those you look at and just say, oh how pretty. For some reason I’ve always like shooting the pictures that make you think about something closer to yourself. An image that reminds you of a past time of your own, or one that just makes you wonder.

I got into photography when I was 14 years old and my mom took my brother to buy a camera. She bought him a Minolta X700 and had signed him up for an evening photography class at an independent owners shop. Well for some reason my brother decided he wasn’t going to take the class, or even care to use the camera, so instead I did. This class later led to me taking a job with a sports photography group through college, where I quickly became one of the lead photographers. And during my years in college I had a chance to live in Rome, Italy for a semester as a student, which went along perfectly with my Art Design Major and Art History Minor. Of course as an Art Major you must put on a final show, and mine of course was photography. I actually managed to sell a few things and realized I might actually be able to do something…. only I hate marketing with a passion… hence the designer side of me. So I’ve never done anything outside of that senior show…

I now currently shoot an Olympus E620 DSLR. It was not my first choice, simply because I mainly used Nikon’s while working with the sports photography group, but the smaller lighter size along with still shooting high quality photos sold me for my future possible backpacking adventures. Also, I learned on, for 10 years, and throughout my time in Europe I only ever shot that same Minolta X700 fully manual film camera, so yes I love the old school cameras. Especially shooting Black and White film and doing all my own darkroom work. Hopefully some day I’ll be a big shot and have my own dark room where I do everything myself!

I also on occasion shoot some quality pictures on a simple point and shoot Nikon Cool Pix 3000. It comes in handy for those times I can’t get the big camera ready quick enough or it was simply too big to try and get out for a quick shot.

While everything going digital has basically made everyone an photographer there is still something different to quality meaningful photography. And there is skill there that so many people take for granted. I can only hope that someday I’ll be able to sell some more stuff, but I’ll always be trying to learn different techniques, to shoot different subjects, and try different lighting. So leave your critiques positive and negative… or any suggestions.

P.S.  Yes the header picture is my own photo.

Heels Heels Everywhere!!!

Ok… I’ve lived in Italy, where fashion reigns in all aspects and they love their shoes, but even they realize that different time you wear different shoes. Not korean women though, they wear their heels everywhere… and I mean everywhere. Walking down the street, riding the bus, sitting in a car, sure no surprise there, but hiking a mountain, walking on the beach, or even rafting… yea they’re still wearing the heels!!

Now I have yet to see this occurrence but a good friend has, and I am sure I’ll see it once winter hits and the snow falls: a woman hiking a snow covered mountain in heels… not just during the summer, that I’ve seen… but add in the snow!

So far my favorite heel wearing site however, was the rafting. After our entire group was told not to wear simple flip flops or slippers because we would loose our shoes and even told to we had to buy water shoes if we didn’t have proper attire, what do I spot. Yep!! a boat group on their way down to the river, carrying their boat and sure enough there they were! A young woman sporting the heels! No one was saying anything to here though! I guess they just figured she’d loose them as soon as she hit the river… either way.. several of us voiced more concern for the boat than for the probability of her loosing a shoe.

I suppose I should start having the camera a bit more ready so I can capture some of these absurd heel wearing times.

Bad TV

So Korea really loves their bad TV… namely almost any Steven Segall film. During my first week here while living in the hotel with nothing to do all there was to pass the time was find channel search. There are a few english channels that mainly play old movies. As of recently we now have Discovery channel which I find myself watching quite a bit.

Nothing beats Steven Segall though! apparently you can’t have too much here! I swear there must have been some sort of marathon going on… almost every time you turned the TV on what did you get… one of the many bad Segall films. Not only the big name movies that everyone knows but also the second rate lesser known movies he made. Though they may have had their fill for a while since I have not recently come across any Segall movies, not that I’m complaining.

Then mix in the amazingly random crazy Korean commercials that include two cross dressing men in flower press dresses with the little matching hats and sun glasses dancing to a surprisingly catchy tune and what do you get?… a loan commercial apparently.

Among the bad korean soap operas my personal favorite find would have to be; and sadly I don’t know the name, an entire show made with mannequins. That’s right, mannequins. Fully dressed, voiced over, and apparently living their own soap opera! Someone apparently has the time and money to produce this show, and apparently there’s enough viewers to keep it on TV!

Aside from downloading shows on a regular basis there is always the Discovery channel, and a constant supply of NCIS, Fringe, Supernatural, and some other prime time tv from back home. Every show is at least a season behind however which makes catching unseen episodes really easy. And on occasion you do catch a semi decent older movie that you may not have seen for a while being played.

P.S. If I can find a link to the loan commercials on Youtube, I will post a link.

Something Good

Ok, well while most things are still pretty screwy with work and all, some good things did come from stuff. First because of the issues going on with people leaving, I was able to get myself better housing. I was originally supposed to move into what would’ve been a one room studio box apartment, where you literally walked into the kitchen upon opening the front door. However thanks to the disagreements already taking place, when I asked to move to another place instead they had no reason to argue with me, seeing as it was no big deal in comparison to people missing money. And along the way I met some cool people… and once I finally got a phone I was actually able to make plans with some of them.

The ARC Fiasco

ARC or Alien Registration Card… it’s basically our ID \SS# here. You can’t get them yourself, your visa sponsor has to do all the paper work. And in order to get things like a phone or bank account you need this card. Well you have a good 3 months to get stuff done, but most schools get everything done and you get your ARC within the first 3 weeks at most. But when your school forgets that your new and don’t have anything done stuff takes a bit longer.

It’s always reassuring when you walk up to the Vice Director,  (after working about 2 weeks), because the Director herself is AWOL, and start asking when you have to go for the medical check and the reaction you get is one of utter surprise that you hadn’t done so already. Then when trying to plan times you’re asked for your phone number so they can call and inform you of the appointment time. My response of course was “Phone? I can’t get a phone yet… I need my ARC… and I can’t get the ARC until this medical check is done.” …….. “OH YEA” was the reply I got. About a week later the medical check was finally done.

Ok medical check done… I’ve now been in Korea about a month and  it’s only supposed to take about a week from the time of the medical check to get the card. I got my first pay in straight cash which seemed cool to get a blank envelope stuffed with cash, but was kinda annoying at the same time. I’m getting around just fine on my own and the most annoying thing so far is that I don’t have a phone. Not that I need it for me, but everyone else keeps needing to get a hold of me somehow. About 2 weeks into the month I still don’t have my ARC… and I’m kind of starting to wonder. Again I have to go to the Vice Director because the director is AWOL, and start asking about the ARC. After she finally tracked down the Director we find out… she never filed the medical check with immigration! Soooo… things still are not actually underway.

Our next pay day is coming up quick and I don’t have a bank account yet, because I can’t get one with out the ARC. For a third time I finally get the Director herself and ask about the ARC, playing in the I’d like to get a bank account to make it easier on ‘you’ to pay me, to which she smiles and agrees it’d be easier if to just direct deposit money rather than get money from the bank.  About a week later pay day is here and no ARC for me! I’m rather annoyed when suddenly one of the young supervisor girls comes into the teachers room between classes and says “Hey, we have to go to open your bank account, before the bank closes!” Completely lost it took me a minute to figure out who she was talking to and what was going on. Good thing the bank is literally right below the school and all we have to do is run down stairs and fill out paper work as quickly as possible.

We managed to get everything filed and I got an account just before the bank closed but wouldn’t get paid for another day or two after the Director got stuff updated on her end. In our rush I didn’t get an actual bank card issued and had to go down the next day during lunch to get my card. Of all things I ended up with a “Hello Kitty” card.

As the School Runs…

Or well really doesn’t sometimes… when I took the job at my current school it was supposed to be one of the few pretty decent private schools, so I was rather excited. Apparently I have just the luck though… as soon as I got here I walked into a complete cluster fuck. The teachers currently on their ways out were finding out their pensions had not been paid into, while another long term teacher was learning last minute that his contract would not be renewed and that he may not be paid his severance.

Pensions and Severances make up a nice chunk of change for us when we leave. Say you only do 1 year at a school…. throughout the course of your time you get a pension account, a chunk comes out of your pay check each month and the director pays in an equal amount each month. At the end of 1 year if you leave Korea, it normally equals out to about another full months pay. Same thing with severances, at the end of a full year contract we’re supposed to get paid what’s equal to a full months pay. So in the end you’re essentially getting two months worth of pay just for completing your contract.

Basically my second day at the school, two of the teachers on their ways out were having it out with the director in her office after a visit to the pension office informed them there was a large chunk of money missing from their accounts. Apparently the director either was claiming their pay as a lower amount therefore having to pay less into the account, or just straight pocketing the money from their paychecks and never putting any in in the first place. Either way, both are illegal practices.

With things continuing through the week I had voiced my concern but was reassured things like this don’t normally happen. Little did I know this was just the start of things.

Back 2 School

School is not totally my thing nor is teaching. Of all the years between soccer, Tae Kwon Do(TKD), softball, swimming, and all the other things and all the opportunities I’ve had teaching is one thing I’ve always insisted wasn’t for me. Then what do I go and do… decided to go teach english in Korea. Well it does get me a work visa, housing, a job, and plane tickets paid for. But mainly for me travel opportunities.

Anyway, I took a job at a private kindergarten and ended up with the 5 year old class. But in reality all the kids in my class are 3/4 years old, since koreans add a year to their age. I met my co-teacher about a week before classes were to start, right away I figured she’d be a character, little did I know (no spoilers for those who don’t know, please). As you can imagine teaching is teaching, wether in Korea or the US, so for an idea on how things proceeded just look at any Pre-K level class.

From our first field trip.