My name is Jared Way. I was born in rural Far Northern California, and became an "adoptive" Minnesotan. I have lived in many other places: Mexico City, Philadelphia, Valdivia (Chile), Los Angeles. And for 11 years, I was an expatriate living in South Korea. In the summer of 2018, I made another huge change, and relocated to Southeast Alaska, which is my uncle's home.
For many years I was a database programmer, with a background in Linguistics and Spanish Literature. In Korea, worked as an EFL teacher.
In June, 2013, while I was in Ilsan in South Korea, I was diagnosed with cancer, and underwent successful treatment. That changed my life pretty radically.
Currently, you could say I'm "between jobs," somewhat caretaking my uncle (to the extent he tolerates that) and getting adapted to life in rural Alaska after so many years as an urban dweller.
I started this blog before I even had the idea of going 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 have come to play a central role in this blog's current incarnation.
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.
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 there is a website that has enabled this vice.
I worked as a volunteer administrator for the site OpenGeofiction on and off for a few years. I created (but no longer maintain) the site's main wiki page: OGF Wiki. I am not currently working as administrator but I remain active on the site.
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.
Starting in April, 2018, I decided somewhat capriciously to build my own "OGF stack" on my own server. This was not because I intended to abandon the OGF site, but rather because I wanted to better understand the whole architecture and all its parts. I built a wiki on the Mediawiki platform (the same as wikipedia). This wiki has no content. I built a map tileserver and geospatial database, which contains a very low resolution upload of an imaginary planet called Rahet. And I built a wordpress blog, which is a separate, low-frequency blog intended to focus on my geofictional pursuits rather than this more personalized, general purpose blog. All of these things can be found integrated together on my rent-a-server, here: geofictician.net
TEFL - my "profession," such as it is.
Online English Grammar reference Grammarist. Useful for settling disputes over grammar.
順伊(순이)가 떠난다는 아침에 말 못할 마음으로 함박눈이 나려, 슬픈 것처럼 窓(창) 밖에 아득히 깔린 地圖(지도) 위에 덮인다.
房방 안을 돌아다보아야 아무도 없다. 壁(벽)과 天井(천정)이 하얗다.
房(방) 안에까지 눈이 나리는 것일까. 정말 너는 잃어버린 歷史(역사)처럼 홀홀이 가는 것이냐, 떠나기 前(전)에 일러둘 말이 있던 것을 편지를 써서도 네가 가는 곳을 몰라 어느 거리, 어느 마을, 어느 지붕 밑, 너는 내 마음 속에만 남아 있는 것이냐.
네 쪼그만 발자욱을 눈이 자꾸 나려 덮여 따라갈 수도 없다.
눈이 녹으면 남은 발자욱 자리마다 꽃이 피리니 꽃 사이로 발자욱을 찾아 나서면 一年(일 년) 열두 달 하냥 내 마음에도 눈이 내리리라.
-윤동주 (한국의 시인, 1917~1945)
The Snowing Map
In the morning that Soon-ee left, With my heart unable to speak, Large snowflakes fell Sadly outside the window Covering the map Spread out in the distance.
I return to the room, looking, But there is nothing there at all. The wall and the ceiling, white.
Will it snow inside the room? Will you fly from me like history lost? Even though you wrote me a letter With your last words here, I don’t know where you’re going, Which street, which village, which house? Are you to remain only in my heart?
The falling snow covers Your small footsteps, again and again, That I can’t even follow.
If the snow melts, Flowers will bloom in each Of your footprints, but if I can find even just one between The blossoms, Snow will fall in my heart, For a year, twelve months,
I learned this aphorism from my book of aphorisms.
나무 잘 오르는 놈 떨어지고 헤엄 잘 치는 놈 빠져 죽는다 na.mu jal o.reu.neun nom tteol.eo.ji.go he.eom jal chi.neun nom ppa.jyeo juk.neun.da tree well climb-PRESPART guy fall-CONJ swimming well swim-PRESPART guy drown-INF die-PRES The good tree-climber falls and the good swimmer drowns and dies.
I think actually this has the same meaning as that quote I offered by Randall Munroe a few posts back; essentially, even experts can make mistakes.
Perhaps this offers some solace to those of us who make mistakes - we might nevertheless be experts.
Many people don't realize that the name of my birth state has a rather unusual etymology. California was named by Spanish explorers after a fictional place, which is named in a novel they were familiar with, Las sergas de Esplandián, by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. Montalvo, in turn, made up the name, probably under the influence of La Chanson de Roland, from a few centuries earlier, where we can read,
Morz est mis nies, ki tant me fist cunquere Encuntre mei revelerunt li Seisne, E Hungre e Bugre e tante gent averse, Romain, Puillain et tuit icil de Palerne E cil d'Affrike e cil de Califerne;
I suppose these medieval and renaissance authors were trying to evoke the "enemy" of Christiandom, i.e. the Caliphate. Thus California has the same "conceptual etymology" as ISIS, via a very different path.
Yesterday after working in the morning, I took the subway into Seoul and met my friend Peter. We hung out for a few hours.
There were a lot of protests going on in downtown Seoul. Along Jong-no (the ancient, main east-west drag in downtown Seoul), we saw these protesters and a very disproportionate number of police.
I guess some are protesting about the president's impeachment. Others are protesting the endemic corruption that the president's impeachment seems to represent. There will be elections in about 6 weeks, so some people are protesting just because it seems like a good time to protest. It's part of Korean culture, to a certain extent.
The group above is "leftish" - the red banner with yellow letters, on the right, reads 노동자연대 [nodongjayeondae], which means "Workers' Solidarity."
"Certified skydiving instructors know way more about safely falling from planes than I do, and are way more likely to die that way." - Randall Munroe, author of the comic xkcd. This quote is the "hovertext" accompanying this cartoon.
I do fine when the kids are behaving well, but I have some issues with consistency when they behave badly. I vacillate between two approaches. One is a kind of laissez-faire approach where I try to show kindness and broad tolerance for minor infractions of classroom rules (e.g. speaking out of turn, having "off channel" conversations with friends, getting up and moving about). The other is to be fairly rigid about it, and "exile" students (ask them to leave the classroom and go sit at the front desk for a time out) who misbehave repeatedly.
My dreaded, worst situation, however, are those times when I ask students to leave the classroom, and they simply refuse. They sit like a stone and do nothing. That turns into a showdown, which always leaves me with an awkward situation. Do I forcibly remove the child, so as to be consistently applying my "exile" rule? Or do I back down and try to take a different approach, which makes me inconsistent and where I worry the kids take the lesson that I can be "out-waited"?
It's a horrible situation, that simply seems to have no good solution. And I'm not consistent in how I deal with it, either. So I just feel like a really crappy, inconsistent teacher when these situations arise.
And then after dealing with it, in whatever way I did, I feel guilty that I did the wrong thing, afterward.
Hey, hey Captain Jack Meet me down by the railroad track With that rifle in my hand I'm gonna be a shootin' man A shootin' man The best I can For Uncle Sam
Hey, hey Captain Jack Meet me down by the railroad track With that knife in my hand I'm gonna be a cuttin' man A cuttin' man A shootin' man The best I can For Uncle Sam
Hey, hey Captain Jack Meet me down by the railroad track With that grenade in my hand I'm gonna be a killin' man A killin' man A cuttin' man A shootin' man The best I can For Uncle Sam
Hey, hey Captain Jack Meet me down by the railroad track With that bottle in my hand I'm gonna be a drinkin' man A drinkin' man A killin' man A cuttin' man A shootin' man The best I can For Uncle Sam
Hey, hey Captain Jack Meet me down by the railroad track With that book in my hand I'm gonna be a studyin' man A studyin' man A drinkin' man A killin' man A cuttin' man A shootin' man The best I can For Uncle Sam
- a US Army Marching Cadence
The original "Captain Jack" was a Modoc Indian, Kintpuash, who is the only person to have killed a US Army General officer during battle - although the Army later executed him for "war crimes," I don't think it's so clear that he was employing tactics any dirtier than the US soldiers were.
So in the marching cadence, the soldiers' plan to meet Captain Jack down by the railroad tracks strikes me as an ambivalent situation. Like many US military cadences, there is an anti-military subtext hovering below the surface.
I remember decades ago, in some social group or another (I don't really recall exactly which, but I was young), "Captain Jack" was a kind of facetious answer to any "who" question, e.g.
Q: "Who did you see there?" A: "Captain Jack."
"Captain Jack" is also, apparently, an old slang term for heroin or other narcotics - which lends yet another angle of meaning to the popularity of this cadence especially during the Vietnam era.
A different version of the cadence is heard in this youtube.
Note not just the variation in specific types of "A __-in' man", but the addition of the lines "Re-up? You're crazy! / Re-up? You're outta your mind!"
The animals were gathered there discussing their sad fate. They knew they were illusions all and conjured up too late.
- a quatrain in ballad meter. The picture was a whimsical creation of a few boring moments at work. I had been interviewing new prospective students, earlier, and I often have the students draw an animal ("follow instructions in English" / "Describe a picture in English"). These animals are mine, but inspired by first-grade student-drawn animals.
청기와 장수 cheong.gi.wa jang.su blue-tile dealer "Blue tile merchant"
This is a reference to some old Korean tale, I guess, wherein some guy made excellent blue tiles but refused to share the secret of his technique, so when he died no one knew how to make such great blue tiles. It means someone who keeps a trade secret or has some secret talent. Anyway, blue tile roofs are a very traditional high-quality style in Korea, up to and including the famous blue tile roof on the Presidential Palace, which gives the palace its name, called 청와대 [cheongwadae] - in English "Blue House." At right is a picture of a temple in Suwon that I took in 2010, showing a blue tile roof.
I think this has more negative connotations than the English phrase, "A person of hidden talent." In Western culture, I think this phrase is generally meant in a kind of admiration, or anyway saying that the person merits more admiration than we are currently giving. In the Korean, the semantics of the phrase seem to be focused instead on the person's selfishness in the refusal to share knowledge or ability with the community.
A very clever Brexit that would leave everyone happy.
Recently Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland would re-vote on the matter of Scotland's independence, given the Brexit context that had not existed during prior vote, in 2014. The motivating factor is that the citizens of Scotland overwhelmingly wish to stay in the EU. I was reading in the comments section on a certain brilliant blog (slatestarcodex) that there is a problem here: the EU might not want to easily welcome a newly independent Scotland as a member - because certain countries, most notably Spain, don't want to encourage their own separatist regions (e.g. Catalonia). Thus a country like Spain might essentially block an independent Scotland's effort to join the EU.
So then this one commenter on that blog reports a very clever solution, which is attributed (without specificity) to Alex Salmond. If Westminster is amenable to a "friendly divorce", then there is a simple legal solution for a Scotland wishing to remain in the EU, and and "Rest-of-the-UK" wishing to exit. The solution not only solves Scotland's problem but also allows Westminster to avoid negotiating with the EU per Article 50.
This solution is, frankly, brilliant. England, Wales, and North Ireland can secede from the UK. The remaining "Rump UK" in this case is Scotland, which thus remains in the EU. England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are at that point de jure independent countries which Spain (among others) would, of course, not want to allow into the EU anyway (on principle, right?). So they're out, and they're out only on the terms of their secession from the UK - essentially an "internal matter" and EU terms don't need to be negotiated. Then they can reunite at their own convenience, the day after their secession from the UK. Then everyone can just "coincidentally" rename their countries, and the problem is solved.
Corporations do things like this all the time. I once worked at a corporation that underwent a "reverse merger," which seems conceptually similar in some ways. So why can't countries?
This satirical article at SpeculativeGrammarian explains why twitter is not a good idea for the fine residents of Nunavut. I actually have no idea if the Inuit phrases cited are authentic or instead just satirical inventions. The word/sentence "Aangajaarnaqtuliuqtuqaqattalilauqsimanngittiammarirulungniqpalliilainnaujaqataunasu&&annaaqtummarialuuvalilauqsima&&apikkaluarmijungalittauruuq" has 199 characters, and allegedly means, "At a younger age it is said that I had also been saying that I wished drugs were never made!" Which might very well be something some anti-drugs Nunavutian politician might want to send out on twitter. So, indeed, it seems a linguistic injustice on the part of the twitterverse.
Relatedly (perhaps), I recently learned that Greenland's 18th largest city, Ittoqqortoormiit, has 452 residents. South Korea's 18th largest city is Namyangju, in Gyeonggi province (not far from my own home in Goyang, which happens to be South Korea's 10th largest city, although, really, both cities are just politically autonomous suburbs of Seoul). According to the wiki thing, Namyangju has 629,061 residents.
Here is a picture of Ittoqqortoormiit.
Possible spurious correlation of the day (?): The smaller the town, the longer the words.
Been a while since I felt this way about Someone that really really like to know you More I know you, more All your eyes sing the song to me And I really really like to move to it Oh oh ? oh
And ? me oh Open my ? And now we I only for you
All your eyes spending on my head And all, all this ? of sorrow uh yeah for ? Yeah all your eyes spending on my head And I ? spend of sorrow uh yeah for.
And now I'm ? open my heart And I only oh only for you And now I'm just gone don't know what to do My head is such a cloud if you And I'm just gone now what to do My head is such a cloud if you so ? I'm tryin uh uh uh And now I'm just gone don't know what to do My head is such a cloud if you
All your eyes spending on my head And all, all this ? of sorrow uh yeah for ? Yeah all your eyes spending on my head And I ? spend of sorrow uh yeah for.
And now I'm ? open my heart And I only oh only for you