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.
I might as well do another test of this posting-via-email problem. This is the trashcan nearest my desk at work. I just recently happened to notice that it features profoundly fractured English. It is so truly horrible that it becomes a kind of poetry.
I've been having some annoying technical issues with the ability to post via email to my blog, which I use fairly often as a short-cut when I want to post pictures I've taken on my phone directly to the blog, as the process of copying the files from phone to computer is more laborious than just composing a blog entry on the phone and sending the whole package as an email.
So on Sunday I took a picture of my lego monkey and emailed it, and it didn't appear and it didn't appear and it didn't appear. So Monday morning I realized it was missing and posted it the hard way, copying the picture from my phone and uploading it. Then, lo and behold, the emailed version appeared today, at 7 AM. I have opened a help-ticket with my blog host, and I'm leaving the duplicate blog posts for now while they (maybe) troubleshoot the issue. I'll clean up that and the test-post later, I guess. Meanwhile, that's what's going on, and why my blog is looking a bit scattered.
I have a largish lego alligator at work. I have blogged about it before. Today I was at the Homeplus store and I saw a similarly-scaled lego monkey. Now, my regular plastic alligators have an ongoing relationship with my stuffed monkeys (this makes for engaging EFL conversation with 10 year olds, trust me). So, the idea of getting a companion legomonkey for my legogator was impossible to resist. I bought and assembled the lego monkey. He was furnished with a legotoucan and a legobanana. Go figure.
it's unlikely that a decent poem is in me tonight and I understand that this is strictly my problem and of no interest to you that I sit here listening to a man playing a piano on the radio and it's bad piano, both the playing and the composition and again, this is of no interest to you as one of my cats, a beautiful white with strange markings, sleeps in the bathroom.
I have no idea what would be of interest to you but I doubt that you would be of interest to me, so don't get superior. in fact, come to think of it, you can kiss my ass.
I continue to listen to the piano. this will not be a memorable night in my life or yours.
let us celebrate the stupidity of our endurance.
- Charles Bukowski (German-American poet, 1920-1994)
I have a largish lego alligator at work. I have blogged about it before. Today I was at the Homeplus store and I saw a similarly-scaled lego monkey. Now, my regular plastic alligators have an ongoing relationship with my stuffed monkeys (this makes for engaging EFL conversation with 10 year olds, trust me). So, the idea of getting a companion legomonkey for my legogator was impossible to resist. I bought and assembled the lego monkey. He was provisioned with a legotoucan companion and a cyborg-looking legobanana. Go figure.
It has been a long time since I played 눈치게임 with students in a class, but last night with my Honors kids (TOEFL-style elementary, our most advanced elementary kids) I was in a magnanimous mood and with 15 minutes left in class I told them we could play a game. After several proposals that I shot down as "boring" (they always suggest hangman, but that is just boring to me), I remembered overhearing some other student mention the 눈치game and so I suggested it.
I don't know why I don't play this more often as a reward for good classes - I have rarely seen kids have so much fun with such a ridiculously simple game. It's just a sort of psych-out exercise, but the kids really enjoy it (I wrote a detailed explanation of the game in 2012). When one student has gotten too far ahead, other kids will diliberately stand up simultaneously as the winning kid, to drag down that person's score. There are all kinds of implications regarding cooperation versus competition, I guess. I wonder how computers would do it? Would they do best being random, or is there some point where there is more advantage?
When I was walking home last night I had an unexpect occurance. I walked by someone walking the other direction along Jungangno, and we recognized each other. She was one of the nurses from my stay at the cancer hospital last year. She was one of the nurses who spoke to me exclusively in Korean, and she rattled off a number of questiosn and comments, but I really wasn't understanding very well. She said (in Korean, and I only got the gist of it, not the exact phrasing), "Well. Your Korean still hasn't improved, has it."
I just nodded meekly, and I said, "아직" [ajik = yes, still]. I've been getting a lot of negative feedback about my Korean lately - at least that's my perception. My spirits about learning the language are lower than their usual low level.
At work the other day, I was defending my deep-held belief that work should not be taken home. Rather than take work home, I always prefer to stay late or come early. When I take work home, I end up not getting it done anyway, but it sits there and makes me feel guilty.
I declared, boldly, that my apartment was a "temple of not doing anything." This struck me as somehow profound or useful as a sort of shorthand for some philosophy or way-of-life. So here I will memorialize the concept.
383 Fabricaremos un toldo, como lo hacen tantos otros, con unos cueros de potro, que sea sala y sea cocina. ¡Tal vez no falte una china que se apiade de nosotros!
384 Allá no hay que trabajar, vive uno como un señor; de cuando en cuando un malón, y si de él sale con vida, lo pasa echao panza arriba mirando dar güelta el sol
- Éstas son dos estrofas del poema muy largo "El Gaucho Martín Fierro" del poeta argentino José Hernández (1834-1886), que consta el poema que en cierto término ha definido a la nación y la cultura gauchescas. Es un castellano algo difícil de entender, porque incluye muchas representaciones fonéticas de la pronunciación rústico del gaucho platense. Hace mucho que me ocupo de la temática gauchesca, pero en algún momento fue algo que me atraía mucho, hasta que fue uno de varios posibles temas para mi tesis del doctorado, aunque no él que al fin seleccioné. Recientemente busqué y encontré los textos del poema gratis en línea, y he decidido descargarlo y leerlo de nuevo.