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.
I guess this is about reputation and fame, though it's not clear to me if it has negative, neutral or positive valances. The Korean definitions are: "남의 이름을 높여 이르는 말" (a person's name spoken of far and wide) and "세상에 널리 드러난 이름" (a name revealed widely in the world). And important person? It's not clear to me how this is actually used.
Ariel was glad he had written his poems. They were of a remembered time Or of something seen that he liked.
Other makings of the sun Were waste and welter And the ripe shrub writhed.
His self and the sun were one And his poems, although makings of his self, Were no less makings of the sun.
It was not important that they survive. What mattered was that they should bear Some lineament or character,
Some affluence, if only half-perceived, In the poverty of their words, Of the planet of which they were part.
- Wallace Stevens (American poet, 1879-1955)
I admit that Stevens' poems make me feel discouraged about my own pathetic efforts at poetry. In my irrelevant opinion, he was the greatest American poet of the 20th century. Then again, I'd put Robinson Jeffers in the top 5 too - and most people haven't even heard of him.
I'm not exactly in the closet about my geofiction hobby - I've blogged about it once or twice before, and in fact I link to it in my blog's left sidebar, too - so alert blog-readers will have known it is something I do.
Nevertheless, I've always felt oddly reticent about broadcasting this hobby too actively. It's a "strange" hobby in many people's minds, and many aren't sure what to make of it. Many who hear of it percieve it to be perhaps a bit childish, or at the least unserious. It's not a "real" hobby, neither artistic, like writing or drawing, nor technical, like coding or building databases. Yet geofiction, as a hobby, involves some of all of those skills: writing, drawing, coding and database-building.
Shortly after my cancer surgery, I discovered the website called OpenGeofiction ("OGF"). It uses open source tools related to the OpenStreetmap project to allow users to pursue their geofiction hobby in a community of similar people, and "publish" their geofictions (both maps and encyclopedic compositions) online.
Early last year, I became one of the volunteer administrators for the website. In fact, much of what you see on the "wiki" side of the OGF website is my work (including the wiki's main page, where the current "featured article" is also mine), or at the least, my collaboration with other "power users" at the site. I guess I enjoy this work, even though my online people skills are not always great. Certainly, I have appreciated the way that some of my skills related to my last career, in database design and business systems analysis, have proven useful in the context of a hobby. It means that if I ever need to return to that former career, I now have additional skills in the areas of GIS (geographic information systems) and wiki deployment.
Given how much time I've been spending on this hobby, lately, I have been feeling like my silence about it on my blog was becoming inappropriate, if my blog is meant to reflect "who I am."
So here is a snapshot of what I've been working on. It's a small island city-state, at high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, with both "real-world" hispanic and fully fictional cultural elements. Its name is Tárrases, on the OGF world map here.
Here is a "zoomable and slidable" map window, linked to the area I've been creating, made using the leaflet tool.
I have made a topo layer, too. I am one of only 2-3 users on the OGF website to attempt this - But the result is quite pleasing.
I have always loved maps, and since childhood, I have sometimes spent time drawing maps of imaginary places. However, I never dreamed that I'd be producing professional-quality, internet-accessible maps of imaginary places. I believe it is a kind of artform.
So that's where my time off sometimes disappears to.
This has been a quite busy week at work. Basically, I have spent the week crafting a textbook for a special debate class that will start next week for middle-schoolers who are not participating in the full 내신 (test-prep) schedule, due to the always-changing vagaries of parental demand.
I have made my own debate textbooks before, but this one is being driven by Curt's desire to see me integrate better with the other teachers who will also be teaching the same cohorts.
Textbook-making is a lot of work. I long ago gave up on vague ambitions to make an actually-publishable debate textbook, although for my middle-school Karma debate classes I have been using variations of my own book, in print-out format, for many years now. And I still get "writing team" emails periodically from Darakwon, the Korean EFL textbook publisher with which I'd started a tentative relationship that never amounted to anything. This tends to keep the textbook-writing concept always floating around in the periphery of my consciousness.
So I'm tired. And I haven't even started the special classes yet. That's next week.
Yesterday, in the Newton2 elementary cohort, a boy who goes by Jhonny (the mispelling is deliberate and he's quite adamant about it) announced to the class that he had a girlfriend. He's always a bit of a clown, so this interruption wasn't completely inconceivable.
"That's nice," I said, blandly. "What's her name?"
"I don't know," he said, sheepishly.
"You might want to find out her name," I suggested. "Girls like it when you know their names."
"I can't," he protested.
He's not great with English, and it was clear he wanted to explain more. He explained, in Korean, to the boy, Jerry, next to him, who is better at English.
Jerry said, "A girl gave him a note. Secret note."
"Aha," I said. "That makes sense. So you don't know her name."
Jhonny nodded, vigorously. The girls at the front of the class tittered. "It's so horrible," Jhonny complained, burying his face in his palms dramatically.