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.
Adriano Celentano, "Prisencolinensinainciusol." This song is nonsense. Literally. It's an Italian comedian's effort, in 1972, to sing in English without using English - he said he wanted to make a song about the failure to communicate. Which makes sense - more than the song does, right? Anyway, the melody and beat are quite earwormy, actually.
Prisencolinensinainciusol In de col men seivuan prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
Uis de seim cius nau op de seim Ol uait men in de colobos dai Trrr - ciak is e maind beghin de col Bebi stei ye push yo oh
Uis de seim cius nau op de seim Ol uoit men in de colobos dai Not s de seim laikiu de promisdin Iu nau in trabol lovgiai ciu gen
In do camo not cius no bai for lov so Op op giast cam lau ue cam lov ai Oping tu stei laik cius go mo men Iu bicos tue men cold dobrei goris Oh sandei
Ai ai smai sesler Eni els so co uil piso ai In de col men seivuan Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
Ai ai smai senflecs Eni go for doing peso ai Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
Uel ai sint no ai giv de sint Laik de cius nobodi oh gud taim lev feis go Uis de seim et seim cius go no ben Let de cius end kai for not de gai giast stei
Ai ai smai senflecs Eni go for doing peso ai In de col mein seivuan Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
Lu nei si not sicidor Ah es la bebi la dai big iour
Ai aismai senflecs Eni go for doing peso ai In de col mein seivuan Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
Lu nei si not sicodor Ah es la bebi la dai big iour
Last week my friend Peter blogged on his blog about the origin of the name of the community where I live - Ilsan. He included a fairly flattering digression about our meeting a few weeks back. I learned some things about the name of this place that I didn't know.
What I said back to him about it is as follows. They are really just speculations. For context, read what he wrote first.
I'm surprised you omit (or did Choi Jae-Yong omit?) mention of a very notable fact, which is that the hanja 韓 [han] is the same element in [hanguk = i.e. the modern name for Korea as used in South Korea], and [hangang = the Han River] (although the latter there seems to be some additional confounding factors of yet another hanja, 漢 [han], and there is another Han River (Han Jiang) in China, here, which seems to use both characters - check out 漢江 and 韓江 in Naver's hanja dictionary).
So, I have no idea how accepted this next thought is among Korean linguists / philologists... but personally I find compelling the idea that this particular (very important) Korean word came into Korean directly from a Mongol or Turkic proto language (Altaic), and is cognate with the well-known word Khan, which means "great leader" or "chieftain". Hence rather than saying that hansan means "big mountain" it would be more etymologically accurate to call it "chief mountain." Likewise, hanguk is simply "land of chieftains" or somesuch. Check out the "names of Korea" discussion at wikipedia - 韓 [han] seems to mean more than just "big", to the extent it became the representation for this non-Chinese-origin Korean word (although as mentioned above, the Chinese seem to use it more broadly, too, than just big, and may be tracking back to the same Altaic source).
Peter responded with some additional observations. Anyway, I think it's all very interesting. Finding etymological information of Korean place names is nearly impossible for non-Korean speakers, so I suppose that's a good reason to post this here.
Occasionally, I have the thought that I have arrived in the future. Most of the time, I don't feel this. Inevitably, the future arrives more slowly than I expected when I was younger, but it does sometimes nevertheless put in an appearance.
SpaceX corporation's test of their new Falcon Heavy rocket today is one such example. The real innovation is their recovery of the the booster stages for re-use. The recycling of these rocket parts, instead of just dropping them in the Atlantic, in old-school NASA style, will make space flight much, much cheaper over the long run. And the video of the simultaneous landing of two side booster rockets back at Kennedy is a pure science fiction moment, circa 1950s.
That said, Elon Musk, the visionary leader of SpaceX, is also a megalomaniacal plutocrat and basically a living incarnation of a classic James Bond movie villain. Perhaps this is the kind of person who advances humanity - I don't know. Is that just what it takes?
Musk's new rocket test needed a "dummy payload," so, in finest egotistical form, he launched his own sports car (a Tesla Roadster, manufactured by one of his other companies), with a mannequin in a space suit at the wheel. So now, humanity has launched a space-suited dummy at the wheel of a sports car, out into space, and eventually, past the orbit of Mars. Furthermore, he placed a towel and a copy of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide in the glove box. Can you imagine the aliens finding that?
Maybe Elon Musk will move to Mars. Somebody should move to Mars, right? Why not him?
My student Seunghyeon, a 9th grader who insists of going by the English nickname of "Mr X," made a rather elaborate doodle on this TEPS listening answer paper during our listening class the other day.
When I asked him what it was, he told me it was an "ecosystem." I could see that. There are fish, oil, crabs playing some kind of sport on a beach, an man fishing, a buried fossil...
I think it all started because there was a question on the listening practice test that included a fragment of a lecture on the topic of sharks and their position in the food chain. So he drew the shark. The rest followed.
The doodle reminds me very much of the kinds of doodles I tend(ed) to do during boring meetings or classes (back in the day). Notably, I used to draw large numbers of buried fossils and skeletons on the margins of things. In high school, such skeletons even appeared on work that I turned in for my drafting (drawing) classes.
The above is a fragment of a poem in the Sakha (Yakut) language, and is part of the Yakuts national traditional epic poetic oeuvre, Olonkho.
Obviously, I don't know the Sakha (Yakut) language. On a really good day I command a few hundred words of rusty college Russian, at best.
But I like unusual languages. And I like poetry. And, if you accept the controversial Altaic hypothesis, perhaps Sakha is a very distant relative of Ancient Korean. Anyway, they're sort of in the same cultural neighborhood, albeit a bit farther north, in east-central Siberia: today it is -41 C in Yakutsk, while here in sunny 고양시 we have a balmy -8 C.
I came across a translation of the poem on the blog of the philosopher and polymathic philologist Justin Erik Halldór Smith. Smith is currently a professor at the University of Paris 7 but he is a native of Northern California - like myself and, furthermore, he is of my generation, more or less - and thus he is someone whose occasional reflections on his youth in the green-hilled, hippie-infested comarcas of The City [San Francisco] have always had exceptional resonances for me. Anyway, his translation is strikingly good poetry, in itself, and, I presume, faithful to the original, given his scholarly abilities.
Under that primordial shining and lucid sky, where the two-legged, having a mortal body and hollow bones, knowing war and battle, acquainted with strife and discord, having a vulnerable brain and a trembling soul, must be fruitful — with the cool windy western sky, with the good generous eastern sky, with the insatiable thirsty southern sky, with the impetuous whirling northern sky, with the shivering breadth of the sea, with the heaving depth of the sea, with the swelling abyss of the sea, with the twirling axis of the sea, with the unbounded reach of the sea, with the revered aiy [nature spirits] who lie beyond, with the radiant aiy [nature spirits] who guard, with abundant yellow nectar, with generous white nectar, encircling us in the manifold of stars, in the herds of countless stars, in the traces of rare stars, with the full moon accompanying it, with the bright sun leading it, with purifying roars of thunder, with the smite of bolts of lightning, with moistening cloud-bursts of rain, with sultry hot breath, with the drying out and again the replenishing of waters, with the falling down and again the growing up of woods, with inexhaustible generous gifts, with origins from gently sloping mountains, with gardens from earthen mountains, with a hot and giving summer, with the turning axis of the center, with four converging sides, with such high firmament, what you tread on, will not give way,
what you rattle, will not lurch, with such an unfathomable breadth, what you press, will not bend, eight-chambered, eight-sided, with six circles, with disquiet and worry, in luxurious attire and ornament, serenely peaceful, always-existing Mother Earth, shining like a silver buckle on a horned hat with a feather.