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 have a professional website: 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 webstie 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).
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.
My student Jack did a poor job at homework, once again. I was berating him, mildly, in the typical way expected of teachers in Korea: "Why are you like that, Jack? These other students do well."
He shook his head, as if with world-weary sadness. "I am a mysterious man," he answered, and paused, looking up at me earnestly. Then he added, "... to myself." The joke was impressive for its timing, but more so when keeping in mind he is non-native-speaking 12 year old.
Unrelatedly, the fall is most definitely here. The trees are changing in the pedestrian plazas on the path to work.
I always played it kinda close to my chest Love for me's just been a walk in the park It doesn't really matter It never really mattered I never really had a broken heart Such a shock to me What looks to me like people going through the motions But when it's over... their hearts are broken
[Chorus:] I'm fine on the shelf She really loved him, I couldn't see it though He really loved her, but I... I don't believe it, oh no
I'm fine on the shelf She really loved him, I couldn't see it though He really loved her, but I... I don't believe it, oh no
Freedom from love Freedom from the heartache [x4]
I never really had a broken heart You don't believe me, just look in my chest The way some people like to run and hide I never really, really I never really
I never really had a broken heart I've never really ever been undone It's just playing house Two can do it, you can do it too
If you wish your children and your wife and your friends to live forever, you are foolish, for you wish things to be in your power which are not so, and what belongs to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your servant to be without fault, you are foolish, for you wish vice not to be vice but something else. But if you wish not to be disappointed in your desires, that is in your own power. Exercise, therefore, what is in your power. A man’s master is he who is able to confer or remove whatever that man seeks or shuns. Whoever then would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others; else he must necessarily be a slave. - Arrian of Nicomedia, ENCHIRIDION of Epictetus, XIV (2nd century)
My coworker taught me the term 중2병 [jung-i-byeong]. This might be most comfortably translated into colloquial American English as something like "8th-grader-itis" - meaning bad behavior in 8th graders due to their being eighth-graders. Literally, it's something like "2nd-year-middleschool-disease."
Given that this is something I was struggling with, recently, it seemed a useful term to know.
This seems like a kind of extreme case of a sort of confirmation bias:
"If no one comes from the future to stop you from doing it then how bad of a decision can it really be?" - This was circulating online, and as far as I can figure out it originated from Will Farrell (comedian).
My student Soyeon, a third-grader, was arguing about how I was allotting points in class. When a student gets a wrong answer, I go to the next, and if that next student gets the right answer, that student gets the point. The exception, however, is if the question is binary choice: true/false, or only two choices a/b. If the first student is wrong, then I just announce, no, it's the other one, and we move to the next question. Soyeon either didn't realize this was my procedure, or felt it was unfair in some way. She was arguing with me. It was one of those passionate kid-arguments over something seemingly trivial - she seemed on the verge of tears.
So I took the time to try to explain the procedure. I went back over the last few questions we'd done in the workbook, showing how for the true/false ones, we'd simply moved on. She seemed to be understanding, but she still was saying "It's not fair." Her English is remarkably good, actually.
Finally, I said, "I think you just like to argue."
She sat back. "No. I don't."
"Really, you like to argue."
"No! It's not true. I don't like to argue."
"You're arguing now."
"No I'm not."
She sat back, though, thinking this through. I knew that she knew and was comfortable with the word "argue" as she'd used it earlier, correctly, talking about the story we were reading.
There was no real resolution. We moved on. But at the end of class, she said very cheerfully, "Bye!" so I guess she got over it.
"Fun is an artificial construct," according to Steven Patrick Morrissey, former front-man for The Smiths. Apparently he has recently been struggling with cancer, which is something I can relate to, and this perhaps indirectly lead him to the above conclusion, which he stated to a Spanish journalist will on tour in Spain. This seems perfectly suited to the morose persona Morrissey has long cultivated, but I'm willing to concede the premise.