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.
Last week, I gave a speaking test to my Newton1-M cohort. The topic I'd given them was the humorous "woodchucks should chuck wood" proposition that I'd had success with before.
Here they are, giving their own reasons why woodchucks should chuck wood.
Here are the texts of their speeches (since they are hard to hear). I made major corrections to the grammar of their draft speeches, but the ideas, reasons and examples are entirely their own. I had made the requirement that they each include the original tongue-twister in their speeches.
Hi, my name is Jerry. There is a question, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" The answer is, "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood." I think this is wrong. I have a reason, too, which is that the woodchuck's teeth are not strong enough to eat wood. A beaver has strong teeth, that's why it eats wood. A woodchuck has weak teeth. If a woodchuck ate wood, it would get hurt. Do you want a cute woodchuck to get hurt?
Hi everyone, my name is Angela. The question is, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" And we all know that the answer is, "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood." I think woodchucks should wood if they could. I have one main reason for this. Woodchucks like wood. Woodchucks like brown colored things. I saw a woodchuck. The woodchuck said, "I like wood!" So it's a good situation. I think woodchucks should chuck wood if they could. Thank you for listening.
Hi, my name is Mark. We're debating about woodchucks. "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood." Personally, I think a woodchuck shouldn't shuck wood even if they could, because wood is not delicious. According to a survey of many cute, furry woodchucks, 90% of the respondents said that wood is not delicious. Therefore for this reason I think a woodchuck should not eat wood, even if they could. Thank you for listening to my speech.
Hi, my name is Ysabell. My team is the PRO team on this debate, which has the question, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" The answer is, "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood." I think woodchucks should chuck wood if they could, because their name is WOODCHUCK! I have a friend whose nickname is "Carrot." She likes carrots. I disagree with my opponents, who say woodchucks shouldn't chuck wood. It's not true. How can the name 'woodchuck' not be true?
Hi, my name is Jenny. Some student asked the teacher, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" The teacher said, "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood." I think this is wrong. I think woodchucks shouldn't chuck wood. Today, when I went to school, I met a woodchuck. I asked, "Do you like wood?" The woodchuck said, "No, I don't eat wood." Look, everyone, the woodchuck said it, itself, and I heard it directly. Woodchucks shouldn't chuck wood. They don't want to.
Hello everyone, my name is Julie. We are debating about woodchucks. The question is "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" The answer is "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood." I am on the PRO team on this proposition, because if we try it, maybe wood actually tastes good. Some wood can be delicious. For example, sugar cane is a kind of wood. It is very sweet and delicious. So I think I agree with this idea. Thank you for listening.
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (KJV)
But the Christian/Western allusion is to prophecy, while the Chinese seems to mean one of two things, neither of which is quite the same. First, it might mean a pointless exercise of proclaiming when no one is paying attention. Alternately, it might mean the way that deserted place becomes more welcoming when a sound is heard. Regardless, I don't think it's directly relatable to the notion of prophecy... I guess it comes down to one's opinion regarding the efficacy of prophecy.
There is also the text by John Gower, a Latin-language poem written in the 14th century, bearing the title "Vox Clamantis."
Today is the big day - the annual Karma Academy Talent Show. I've been really busy in the preparations leading up to this day, with 2-3 hours extra work most days for the last 2 weeks. Now we get to see just how badly it goes.
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.