My name is Jared Way. I was born in California, and became an "adoptive" Minnesotan. Now I'm contentedly expatriated in South Korea.
For many years I was a database programmer, with a background in Linguistics and Spanish Literature.
I quit my well-paying job and starting in September, 2007, I spent 2 years teaching EFL to elementary kids in Ilsan (suburban Seoul), South Korea. From April, 2010, until April, 2011, I worked a public school position in rural southwestern Korea (Yeonggwang County). I have since returned to Ilsan and continue to work there.
As of June, 2013, I remain in Ilsan in South Korea, but I was diagnosed with cancer, and have been undergoing treatment. As a consequence, the focus and tone of this blog has changed somewhat.
I started this blog before I even had the idea of coming to Korea (first entry: Caveat: And lo...). So this is not meant to be a blog about Korea, by any stretch of the imagination. But life in Korea, and Korean language and culture, inevitably play a central role in this blog's current incarnation. Let's just say... it's a blog about whatever I happen to be thinking, that currently takes place in Korea.
Basically, this blog is a newsletter for the voices in my head. It keeps everyone on the same page: it has become a sort of aide-mémoire.
If you're curious about me, there is a great deal of me here. I believe in what I call "opaque transparency" - you can learn almost everything about me if you want, but it's not immediately easy to find. I also maintain a work-related blog on the Korean portal Naver: jaredway.com.
I like to take photographs. I'm NOT a photographer. Recently, I've been trying to consolidate my "good" photos and have opted to try hosting them at a website called panoramio - partly because I mostly take pictures of landscape or scenery and panoramio is well-integrated with google earth. Here is a slideshow of some of my photos.
A distillation of my personal philosophy (at least on good days):
I have made the realization that happiness is not a mental state. It is not something that is given to you, or that you find, or that you can lose, or that can be taken from you. Happiness is something that you do. And like most things that you do, it is volitional. You can choose to do happiness, or not. You have complete freedom with respect to the matter.
"Ethical joy is the correlate of speculative affirmation." - Gilles Deleuze (writing about Spinoza).
Geofiction - this has evolved into a significant "hobby" for me. I like to draw imaginary maps, and these sites enable this vice.
I have, in fact, been working as a volunteer administrator for OpenGeofiction for about half a year
now. I enjoy it, and I've learned a lot. I created and maintain the site's main wiki page: OGF
The above work has required my becoming an expert in the Openstreetmap system. Openstreetmap is an attempt do for online maps what wikipedia has done for encyclopedias. I have considered becoming an openstreetmap contributor, but I feel that my current location in Korea hinders that, since I don't have a good grasp Korean cartographic naming conventions.
I originally discovered the above site when exploring this site Urban Geofiction.
Another geofiction site Norscand. They recently linked to OGF, too.
TEFL - my "profession," such as it is.
Online English Grammar reference Grammarist. Useful for settling disputes over grammar.
Think about it. We could have built a high speed rail network for the whole country for that price - if you assume $100 million per mile construction cost (very generous), you could get more than 10000 miles of high speed rail.
When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by, "Let us," said he, "pour on him all we can. Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie, Contract into a span."
So strength first made a way; Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure. When almost all was out, God made a stay, Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure, Rest in the bottom lay.
"For if I should," said he, "Bestow this jewel also on my creature, He would adore my gifts instead of me, And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature; So both should losers be.
"Yet let him keep the rest, But keep them with repining restlessness; Let him be rich and weary, that at least, If goodness lead him not, yet weariness May toss him to my breast." - George Herbert (Welsh-English poet, 1593-1633)
Although I like the poetry, and in some ways I can appreciate the concept, too, I find this portrait of God deeply unsympathetic. Of course, as CS Lewis has observed, we're not supposed to like God, are we? That's not really the point. In a similar vein, I have always found the gnostic portrait of the creator God (i.e. of the Pentateuch) as an enemy of humanity compelling - a view which perhaps was more integral (implicitly rather than explicitly) to pre-modern Christian views of God, as suggested by the above poem. Anyway my own view remains that I appreciate all these stories as strong metaphors, but I remain militantly anti-transcendentalist.
I was walking. There was a whirr of wings. A flash of black. A raven spun and landed in front of me.
Some years ago I was in Japan, and I saw many ravens. So ravens make me think about Japan in the Summer. But also, I think about death. Aren't there some traditional cultures that associate ravens with death?
I wonder about ravens. They are scavenger birds. Carrion-seekers. They must know about death, after all. That's why they tilt their heads like that. People seem to know about death, too. We are carrion-apes who know about death. It's a matter of ecological competence.
Is that where clever consciousness comes from?
The picture shows some ravens (crows?) I saw at Hallasan, on Jeju Island, in February, 2011.
It's a tradition. Go to hospital. Snap a pic. Post to blog. Wait. Wait. More later.
Update, a few hours later:
With respect to my diplostome, the doctor actually said, "very good." That is good news. It seems to finally be closing up as it is supposed to.
There was some less good news, too, though. After doing some x-rays to look around the rest of my jaw, the doctor identified another spot where there was likely some necrosis-exacerbated dental problems, around the root of an upper molar. The molar was a spot where I had a root canal long ago, and because of this, the doctor shook his head, depressingly. He explained there was little we could do. "Wait for it to start hurting, then take it out. Meanwhile, keep using it." It is another case where any effort to cure it would be worse than the problem, so the medical procedure boils down to "wait."
As I've mentioned before, just sitting and watching Korean television on some random channel can often lead to seeing unexpected or unusual things, not necessarily of high artistic merit.
Yesterday I got home from work and it was very hot. Summer has arrived. I turned on my A/C for the first sustained run this season, took a short nap, and then vegged in front of the TV.
I watched a very bizarre Russian comedy called Dzhungli ("The Jungle", 정글), subtitled in Korean. Obviously my level of comprehension was rather low, but between my rusty two years of college Russian and my low-vocabulary but high-frequency Korean, I picked up more than I might have expected. Mostly pronouns.
Fortunately the plot was so facile that it sustained my interest. It was full of the kinds of social and cultural stereotypes that became unpopular in the west about half a century ago. Some married couple with relationship problems gets stranded on a remote tropical island. At first they're sabotaging each other's efforts to survive on the island, like a never-ending lover's quarrel devolved into a lord-of-the-flies scenario, but then these highly caricatured "natives" show up, who, despite wearing blackface, rather humorously all speak German (bear in mind that the Slavic term for "German" [nemets] means, roughly, "can't talk" - so this may be a kind of complex joke). The natives attempt to kill the couple, but they fight them and eventually escape the island and return to Russia and marital bliss.
Actually it reminded a lot of some lost episode of Gilligan's Island, with better special effects and marginally less coherent dialogue, and where Ginger and Gilligan finally become an item and have their own private adventure in the jungle somewhere.
I don't recommend this movie. Unless you're really bored watching Korean broadcast TV on a Saturday afternoon.
I have a 5th grade student named Jenny. She is pretty smart, but has a bit of a melancholic personality. In fact, I've known Jenny for a long time - she was, long ago, in one of my Phonics cohorts, when she first studied English. As a result, I feel like I know her pretty well. Nevertheless she surprised me a little bit, yesterday, by expressing what seemed to me to be some pretty deep ideas, in English.
We were having more-or-less free conversation during class, talking about how to get motivated to prepare for our up coming talent show event. Several of the kids complained that they felt too shy and didn't want to do it, including Jenny. Then she said, "I wish I had a machine."
"What kind of machine?" I asked.
"A machine if you click it, it changes feeling." She made a gesture of operating a computer mouse.
"What do you mean?"
"If I am shy, I can click it, and I am happy. If am sad, I can click it, and I am OK."
"That would be a pretty good machine," I agreed. "I think everyone would like a machine like that."
I saw this four-character idiom in my building's elevator the other day. It was really hard to figure out a meaning for it - my online search and linguistic skills are either declining or this was an exceptionally difficult and rare one.
文過飾非 문과식비 mun.gwa.sik.bi
Breaking down the individual hanja:
文 문 = 글월 letter, writing, sentence 過 과 = 지날 fut-part pass, elapse, spend [time] 飾 식 = 꾸밀 fut-part ornament, fabricate, affect, make, embellish 非 비 = 아닐 fut-part not be
Maybe literally, then, something like "[despite time] spent writing, [there is] no embellished effect" (?).
I searched a lot for a translation, and found nothing. I was having too much difficulty translating the one Korean definition I found. I tried a trick that sometimes works for these four-character idioms: you can put the idiom into googletranslate as Chinese instead of Korean. In this case, the meaning seems clear: "to pay lip service to." I am not certain that the Korean usage of the idiom retains exactly the same meaning, but the Korean meaning given at naver's dictionary is:
허물도 꾸미고 잘못도 꾸민다는 뜻으로, 잘못이 있음에도 불구(不拘)하고 뉘우침도 없이 숨길 뿐 아니라 도리어 외면하고 도리어 잘난 체함
It was taking me too long to try to figure out an idiomatic translation for this definition, but the gist seems to be in vein of "it is a mistake to try to hide ideas through embellishment, etc." I'm not really confident, but it seems to semantically connect enough to the direct translation of the Chinese as to make me think that meaning applies to the Korean usage as well.
One of my new classes is a Tuesday special "activity" class for our lowest-level, youngest class, a combined "Basic" cohort. These kids are essentially "pre-Phonics" and I'm mostly focused on getting them comfortable with a classroom conducted in English and doing fun games and vocabulary review for the online materials we're using.
There is one girl, a 2nd-grader, who has a quite distinctive personality. Her English name is Hailey. She has a preternaturally deep voice for a child of any gender, and sometimes hearing her talk can be disorienting, as she can sound almost like an adult if you pay attention to the tone of voice and not the content of her words. This dissonance is augmented by her tiny stature.
Either because of this, or for whatever other reason, she is also fairly behaviorially mature for her age, and a little bit bossy with her peers, but strangely staid and polite with adults. She actually likes to sit and pay attention quietly in class. When we were playing a game, yesterday, she was copying down words from our last exercise, practicing her English Alphabet letters. She suddenly raised her hand and asked to go to the bathroom (in Korean). After making her repeat the request in English, I let her go.
After she came back, she resumed her writing, and I let her - I run a fairly loose classroom anyway, and far be it from me to force a child to participate in a game when she'd rather practice writing.
Then suddenly my coworker Helen popped her head in the classroom and said the class was too noisy. I assumed this was because there were some prospective customer-parents in the lobby, and having a loud, raucous classroom is not a great sales pitch - at least not in Korea. So we ended the game and went on to a more structured and quieter activity.
Later, Helen told me that in fact, Hailey had stopped by the front desk on her way to the bathroom, and had complained to her about how noisy the class was, and had requested Helen to come tell the class to quiet down.
I found this truly funny. I have never had a 2nd grader complain about a too-loud class, before. I didn't even think it was possible.
It was a really long day yesterday, with six classes back-to-back and essays to score. I'm feeling gloomy because I made a mistake with last-month's grades. Just a stupid mistake in the spreadsheeet, but the sort of mistake that unnecessarily and negatively impacts the impression parents have.
What I'm listening to right now.
Garbage, "You Look So Fine." This is from Garbage's Version 2.0 album, possibly one of my most favorite and most listened-to albums of all time - one of those albums where I like every song on it.
You look so fine
I want to break your heart And give you mine You're taking me over
It's so insane You've got me tethered and chained I hear your name And I'm falling over
I'm not like all the other girls I can't take it like the other girls I won't share it like the other girls That you used to know
You look so fine
Knocked down Cried out Been down just to find out I'm through Bleeding for you
I'm open wide I want to take you home We'll waste some time You're the only one for me
You look so fine I'm like the desert tonight Leave her behind If you want to show me
I'm not like all the other girls I won't take it like the other girls I won't fake it like the other girls That you used to know
You're taking me over Over and over I'm falling over Over and over
You're taking me over Drown in me one more time Hide inside me tonight Do what you want to do Just pretend happy end Let me know let it show