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.
Last night, we had a 회식 [hwehsik - Korean "business dinner"] at a samgyeopsal joint we frequent (Korean grilled pork, mostly "bacon" cuts but prepared differently). This was to wish a farewell to two departing coworkers, and a welcome to a new one.
I will particularly miss my coworker Kay. She has been probably the kindest "deskmate" I've had in my years teaching in Korea. She is good at conversation, and good at overcoming the inhibitions so many Koreans (even English teachers) have about communicating in English. She is happy to talk (or try to talk) about topics a lot of Koreans shy away from: politics, religion, the meaning of life.
She recently lost her sister, which I've blogged about, having gone to the funeral.
So she decided a life change was in order - which I am utterly sympathetic to. Therefore I am actually pleased she's going - for her.
But I will definitely miss her. And she is genuinely caring and interested in the kids - she has never been just a "time-keeping" teacher. She enjoys interacting with them.
She said something funny, the other day. But first, some background.
There's a kind of revolving door, at Karma. People leave. Move on. But then they end up back, working at Karma again. Curt (the owner) clearly inspires a certain loyalty.
I think, of my coworkers, every single one has left at some point, yet has come back to work again at Karma. Except Kay, of course. I would even count myself, in that - I worked for Curt back in the pre-Karma days, at LinguaForum. And I left, yet I returned.
So I joked to Kay about her coming back, later, at some point.
She got a very annoyed, but amused look on her face. "That can't happen. That really can't happen. It won't happen."
Sometimes my students reveal unexpected, surprising talents. The other day, because it had come up in some discussion of the word "ambidexterous," a middle school girl named Hyein announced that she could write equally well with both hands. I was somewhat skeptical, so she proceeded to write a demonstration on the whiteboard. She used her left hand. The writing was smooth and was comfortably quite fast, hardly slower than when she normally writes with her right hand. It exhibits her characteristic "messiness" that is also typical of her right hand, too - it reflects the same handwriting style, I guess you could say.
I was duly impressed. This is actually a pretty rare skill, and had always seemed to me to be indicative of quite a bit of both mental and physical acuity.
Hyein shared her story, though: she said that when she was 6 or 7, her mom had seen her writing with her left hand, and had told her she had to do it with her right hand. This is, of course, common in Asian cultures (and earlier-era Western cultures, too). So the girl is a "native" left hander, but in having been shifted to the right hand when younger, she retained her left-handed ability. Of course you hear about this happening all the time, but I had never run across it experientially, before.