He aquí los pensamientos aleatorios de un epistemólogo andante.

I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

피할수 없는 고통이라면 차라리 즐겨라

As of June, 2013, I have assumed a new identity: I am a cancer survivor. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

"A blog, in the end, is really not so different from an inscription on a bone: I was here, it declares to no one in particular. Don't forget that." - Justin E. H. Smith

재미없으면 보상해드립니다!

"All things are enchained with one another, bound together by love." - Nietzsche (really!)

Leviticus 19:33-34

Donc, si Dieu existait, il n’y aurait pour lui qu’un seul moyen de servir la liberté humaine, ce serait de cesser d’exister. - Mikhail Bakunin

Solvitur ambulando.

"Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to soliloquize. Where was I?" - the villain Heinz Doofenshmirtz, in the cartoon Phineas and Ferb.

"Do unto others 20% better than you would expect them to do unto you, to correct for subjective error." - Linus Pauling

Blogging online since 1965

Who Is Jared?

  • 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.
  • These bloggings, then, have been my random jottings on the subject of my mostly pleasant life among the Quasi-Confucian Cyber-Industrial Paleolithic Peninsulites of Lower Far Siberia.
  • 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.
  • For a more detailed reflection on why I'm blogging, you can look at this old post: What this blog is, and isn't.
  • 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).

My Life Online

  • Like most people, I spend a lot of time online, although I try to limit it somewhat. Here is a somewhat-annotated list of the "places" where I spend time online.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  • Knowledge and News
  • "Social Media"
    • I don't really "do" social media. I have a membership at Facebookland but I never log in there. I don't like it.
    • I have a membership at The Youtubes but I mostly use it for work. I also listen to music on youtube, frequently - I prefer it to typical streaming services, for example.
  • Humor and Cat Videos
  • A Diversity of Blogs - I read these a lot.
  • Blogs of people I actually know
  • 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.

October 2018

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Long Time Blogging


« Caveat: Human Decency | Main | Caveat: Follow your heart »



[The facebook conversation with Dylan.]

Dylan: One vote against, and a slap for just considering, moving to a hagwon.

Dylan: Call Chris Devinson (FT Coordinator for Jeollanamdo) if you want a transfer to somewhere else in the province. He's on vacation for the next week and a half so wait a little bit before you do that. 010 xxxxxxxx

Jared Way: @Dylan - I appreciate your thoughts.

You have no idea what I've been through. The politics between Yeonggwang County office and Provincial Office is intense, and Chris Devinson has been actively UNABLE to make the transfer happen. I have exchanged a dozen emails with him over the last several months on this very issue. The fact is: Chris has been singularly unhelpful and unreliable, much like the rest of the provincial/county/local school administrators.

RE: you can't vote against both options - which is what you appear to be doing.

Ilsan (hagwon, my former employer) is a known quantity. But difficult. I've worked for the guy before. All three hagwon jobs have had BETTER and more KIND administration than my public school experience, but I know that I've been lucky in that respect. Still, hagwon work will be much more demanding - I have no doubt - even working for someone I know and trust at Ilsan. Zero vacation, much longer hours. That's par for the course.

Hongnong (here) is also a known quantity, and it has advantages (including some really awesome co-teachers) and disadvantages (including the stunningly incompetent if not downright hostile administration).

My main point in my blog entry: I must not let my anger and resentment over past perceived and/or received wrongs drive my decision. My decision must be objectively oriented to what is best for meeting my "personal life goals." And I'm only allowing myself two choices: Hongong or Ilsan.

Just from reading your blog, Jared, I would say that you definitely sounded happier in Ilsan. However, learning Korean is an important plus for Hongwong. Can you go to Ilsan and yet find opportunities to continue improving your Korean? I don't think I'm "in the know" enough to help you with a preference, so I'll just leave it as "thoughts." Blessings on your decision. :)

It is a puzzlement.

Life is messy. My only advice is to base your decision on what you desire to experience or attain rather than what you wish or hope to avoid.

I agree Samara, and I like what she's saying. Listen to yourself Jared.

Hi, Jared!
What do I know, I mean, really!!!! But since you asked, I'll just shoot back my gut reactions, which you should take with a HUGE grain of salt.... Sometimes a blunt response can help you crystallize your own thoughts, as you bristle at my comments. There's nothing like bad advice from someone who doesn't have a clue, that helps you discover what you really feel! Keep in mind also that I don't have the slightest idea what a hogwan is, or how it figures in your decision. I really just went on where your heart seemed it might be happier. So here's my 20 won's worth:

Why work hard if:
you don't love it,
it won't pay more,
it won't improve your career or your satisfaction in your career,
it won't inspire you, and if
you're giving your best self to people who have no clue how precious you are. Even if they do have a clue, these administrators in Hongnong don't treat you in a way that shows.

What a damn waste of your tremendous value, Jared.

If you stay in Hongnong for the beauty, you won't love the beauty (if you aren't happy there), and you won't have time to be renewed by its beauty.

If you live in Seoul/Ilsan and can save money, you can TRAVEL to beautiful places, on a relaxing vacation, one you can plan and look forward to, and thus relish. When you travel, you can leave town with a bright heart, feeling appreciated, missed while you're gone, and celebrated when you return. Compare that to your current situation.

Seoul/ Ilsan: Culture, bustling people, new blood, cafe-lingering, meeting people from all over the planet---- these are things that energize you, and that affirm all the amazing human exploration that characterizes your life.

Working with Curt: A known entity. More foundation on which to build your own beautiful life, because you won't be met with a continual sense of being undervalued.

That's all I got. Hope you have some chips to go with your salt...

Good luck. We're all pulling for you! Like a natural Mom, I just want you to be happy, honey.

Keep us posted!

Some "real life" conversations.

Curt (via telephone): "Oh, I see. You're afraid of hard work." He said this jokingly. We have a pretty close and easy friendship. But he knows what buttons to push, I suppose. I trust him implicitly - but that doesn't mean there aren't many uncertainties in going to work for him. The visa situation will have complications, guaranteed, since he's a small hagwon hiring a foreigner for the first time. And I will have to move... yes. I hate moving.

Ms Ryu (in person - paraphrased): Thank you for sharing your decision-making process. I understand that it is very difficult. I hope you choose to stay at Hongnong.

Mr Lee (in person - paraphrased, mostly in my terrible Korean): I was telling him, with some pantomime and a mixture of Korean and English, about the main pros and cons of my decision. He listened for a while, and then said, "Stop, no, quiet. The decision easy. Hongnong." He smiled. His is a vested interest, of course - he's the vice-vice principal - the one member of the administration here whom I truly like and trust.

Updates on the story, forthcoming.

[More of the facebook conversation.]

Dylan: The devil you know is my answer (I mean PS, not hagwon).

Jared Way: OK. Heh. I finally just successfully parsed the syntax of your original first comment. I see that that's what you meant originally, too. Sorry for not understanding.

I like your logic: "the devil you know." Unfortunately, I know BOTH d...evils. And they're both... devils. So which one has the nastier pitchfork? Or the more seductive package of temptations?See More

Dylan: If you havent worked a contract for your korean friend, you dont know him. Avoid.

Jared Way: He was my boss at hagwon #2. One of my best bosses anywhere (Including employment in 3 countries), despite sometimes trying circumstances. He's not an "easy" boss. But he's most honest Korean businessman I've ever met. Admittedly, there... are still unknowns: the scary business climate of hagwon-land could lead to problems beyond his control. And he's an "owner" now, not a "second-in-command" as he was before. That will change things... acknowledged. Your point about "worked a contract" is well-taken - I'm not naive about how contracts can utterly destroy friendships.

Just thinking out loud here. You're helping me flesh out my "yes-no" list some more. Thanks. What a fun way to spend deskwarming, eh?See More

Dylan: You wouldn't have time for reflections like these at a hagwon.......
[Donna Carter likes this.]

Elizabeth: Go to Islan. It is obviously in you heart. I came to Long Beach being analytical but I should be in San Francisco or Colorado. Now that is delayed. Life is too short and who knows what will happen tomorrow. Take good care and take care of Jared.

My gut feeling is that you're better off in the big city of Seoul rather than in Kentucky by the Yellow Sea. Sarah agrees. Can you arrange with Kurt to have some sort of annual vacation? Or less overtime? I think down time is important for your overall sanity. If you'll be doing nothing but work, then it doesn't matter that you'll be living in a more fun place. Still, you have a strong attachment to place, and it's important that you like the place you live, no matter what you do there.

[more facebook comments.]

Tamera: Can we vote Minnesota? : )

Gilbert: i think you need to come to downtown tonight Jared set you straight...it sounds to me like your letting your pride get in the way to stay, I haven't been in korea at all compared to you, but every miserable person here is sad because they l...et their pride get in their way, that is terrible living in a Korean culture...with that said you should probably stay, I think being here you could get fluent and that would be a better career move if you can fully communicate with your students and ex out the co-teacher...If the kids here are hopeless then it's ashame seeing you go because you at least care to do your job, and a lot of other foreigners might come in here and not care and really screw the kids over...plus I will be here for most of the year, and id hate to see someone who just wants to commit suicide replace you! Plus with your experience and you not wanting to really leave korea Islan could wait...who knows you could even get in a public school around there or something else...stay up dont let the bed bugs bite peace!

Tamera: Jared, Your friends sound like they have some very good / sound advice for you! Keep making / looking to our pros and cons list, and follow your gut! You know what is best for you deep down inside. You will make the right choice!

[more facebook]

Jared Way: I'm really pleased with how many comments people are posting and their thoughtfulness and insight. There are many comments appearing also on the blog post directly - not everyone in my sphere of friends and family is inside facebook, so I'...m keeping the record of the conversation there.

Current score: the slim majority of my friends who have declared, have declared for Ilsan. The consensus: "You seemed happier there." Also, my nifty "decision spreadsheet," with all its numbers and scores and "weighted importances" favors Ilsan. But I'm still hoping to hear more.

Andrew: If you renew at hongnong, you will give yourself much more shit for that decision in the long run, be it wrong or right. Incompetance and bureaucracy are inevitable, and your ability to deal with it depends largely on the amount of faith you have in yourself at the time- and I think you will get more of that by encouraging change. Doing something different is scary, but were good at it. Of course, I'd love to try something different about now, so it could be all my own feelings of stagnation. Brotherly 2cents. Out.

Jared Way Gilbert's comment about my "pride getting in the way" is highly pertinent. Actually, only by taking my pride OUT of the equation is Hongnong proving "competitive" at all. If I had left my pride in the equation, I wouldn't even bother aski...ng - I'd be sigining the Ilsan contract. But taking it out, and balancing other factors, Ilsan is still winning.

Andrew's thoughts about change make me reflect: is it "fear of change" that's my problem? Or more likely "annoyance with change." I'm really in a state of mind to "settle down." But is settling in Hongnong giving up too much? Ilsan is much more charmingly settledownable. The sacrifice is that finding a cushy public school job is not going to happen in Ilsan. I have to go the harder hagwon route.

Aside from the fact that I WANT you to come back to Ilsan, I also agree with your friends that this blog entry seems to reflect your desire to move to Ilsan more than to stay in Hongnong.
It's always easier to choose the easier route - the one with less change. It sounds like you're struggling between the desire to move on to a new, different experience, and the desire to stay where things may not be pleasant, but more familiar and predictable.
Actually, this is what I struggle with every time I need to make a decision and that's why I'd decided to stay at LBridge longer than I had planned. I don't regret staying longer, 'cause that's what I needed to do at the time... And I was still afraid when I quit, but I'm so glad that I did when I did. New opportunities sprouted out for me and I'm happier now even though I don't earn as much and I'm much busier.
Personally, I'd hate for you to be working in an environment with incompetent and hateful administrators. It's not always like that!!! They don't deserve to work with a great teacher like you, and you deserve so much better.
Good luck, Jared! Whatever choice you make, you'll be making a difference in many children's lives. :)

for what it's worth... nobody knows your situation better than you. you're obviously in teh best position to judge how livable it is. you've done a hogwon before. you know what you're getting into. personally, over the past several months, i've been re-thinking the hogwon deal simply for the sake of the prospect of doing some extra tutoring. I have a few years on you. I'm thinking more about cold cash these days, and from my perspective, the hogwon/tutoring combination deserves serious consideration. the issue still isn't definitively settled in my mind, but i've re-signed. the prospect of moving yet again is currently more daunting than any perceived benefit is rewarding.

think hard about the reasons for a change. can you name them easily?.. (you've probably been going through this process, but sometimes i need to hear obvious shit when i'm working through such situations myself).

Last night, we went to an end-of-school-year 회식 (hweh-sik = work-related meal, universal in Korea). I was reflecting, as I sat around, that one of the things that I haven't really taken into account in my "calculus" of my decision, is the sheer question of friendship and companionship. I have had so many issues with the administration here at Hongnong, that in my imagination it tends to overshadow all the wonderful relationships I've developed with the "rank and file" here at the school: my co-workers. They're mostly very good, very kind people. I like them. I enjoy their company. And I've learned an immense amount from them. So... that represents some points in Hongnong's favor.

But also, last night, after I got home, I got a phone call from Grace. Grace works at my friend Curt's hagwon, and she is the first coworker-friend I had when I arrived in Korea 3 1/2 years ago. She said that after she'd seen my email to Curt yesterday, she thought she should convey the following. She said that Curt said something roughly like this: "I didn't realize Jared was in such a dilemma. He should follow his heart. I don't want him to feel pressure to come work for me here at my hagwon. Tell him that."

I think it's an amazing thing for a Korean business owner to say such a thing, after our having made essentially a verbal commitment to one another last month. It reinforces my perception that he is an ethical person, and therefore "safe" to work for, despite the horrible reputation that hagwon owners have here in Korea. So anyway... that represents points in favor of Ilsan.

Where do I stand? I've been tweaking my decision spreadsheet, and as of now, Ilsan is winning the calculus. Not to mention that being the broad trend in everyone's comments: Follow your heart, place is important, work for someone who appreciates your efforts. All of those lead more to going to Ilsan than to staying in Hongnong.

[Late advice - but it confirms what I decided, so it's pleasing.]

I guess I am too late but: 1.) I know you like Ilsan, and its easy access to Seoul and Kyobo etc., 2.) You've remarked many times that Ilsan "feels like home", even though you haven't _lived_ there since, what, August 2009. 3.) You are not ...heading-in "blind" but to this guy with whom you are on great terms.

It sounds like a homerun case for going back north. So: "Yo apoyo a Ilsan" too.

[Late advice from my mom - but it supports what I decided, I think. - JW]

Didn't get your "call" for input until late yesterday evening and pondered on it all night, on and off. You laid it out pretty clearly so I don't know if my reaction and thoughts will be of any additional assistance.

As I see it, you want to return to Ilsan for good reasons...you are an urban creature, there is more variety in the daily life, you are less likely, with Curt, to run into the level of Korean admin hassles that you've had in your present position--although you obviously know that they will continue to exist since evidently they are built into the culture at its present stage. And, of course, being in charge of curriculum for English--if I've understood that correctly--is a step in professional development, if such actually has value to you or to your future (something I tend to question because of my own warped point of view concerning climbing ladders, but which probably has more validity for you). There is also the more rich cultural environment and cheaper living cost, as well as a stable "home" and internet access.

The disadvantage I see with return to Ilsan is that I remember, from the e-mails we exchanged (I wasn't doing your blog much at all at that time), that you were frequently exhausted by the sheer demand for "producing" in the hagwon environment and frustrated by the way things were being run in the classroom--which if you design the curriculum would be partly up to you to rectify. You seemed more frequently, in the exchanges we had (which weren't THAT frequent), to be "down" rather than up or at least coping optimistically. Again, I realise that much of your distress may have related to the more chaotic atmosphere of the hagwons in which you were teaching.

The major positive to renewing is, I think, that you really enjoy the diversity of students and challenge that diversity creates. My main impression from your blog and talking with you and seeing the videos you shared is that you really love the kids and this is a tremendous plus. However, I don't know if an administration which has moved you 4 times in a year, totally disregarding your needs, .... Quarterly upheaval in living arrangements is really bad for you in my estimation. And I agree that being across the street from THEM is not conducive to peace of mind. Learning the language is something that you will or will not proceed with regardless of environment despite it being somewhat easier in your present setting.

"getting back" and letting the admin "get away with" jerking you around is not a reason to go. I'm not sure what the uncertainties are with Curt's position. I would hope that your understanding with him would help avoid some of them. He has been reasonably successful, has he not? And is expanding, hence the job offer. Would you have enough clout to request at least some classes with the age group you so enjoy?

You were excited about returning to Ilsan when we talked, and I think this is important. Getting joy from the classes you teach may be somewhat more difficult, but a diminishing of pressure and snarls at the admin level would appear to be a positive as would having a stable home environment. My "feel" on the matter is that you would be happier in Ilsan, but not if you allow the job to run you instead of you running the job. The lovely environment of your present post and the interesting friendships you've made will only be four hours away and perhaps a visit once a month for walking and being in that scene would be one way to continue the contact.

Sorry I can't help you decide. All I really want is that you don't become entrenched in the downward spiral of too much work and getting yourself snarled into knots over producing--which is, I think, the bottom line of the hagwon raison d'être. I would hope that you could discipline yourself to continue your language studies--i.e. that internet site you mention in a recent blog entry. And asking Curt to help might be an option?? I know how hard it is to discipline oneself to do anything that is not immediately required, and understand how much easier it is to acquire vocabulary by being immersed in a non-English situation. I don't suppose you'd be able to enlist the hagwon students to assist in the process of teaching them English?

I suspect you've already decided by the time you get this. .... My main concern is that, regardless of what you choose, you don't get trapped in a situation that leaves you regretting the decision and endless grrrrs looping around in the mind to chastise yourself. Being angry about what appears to be unavoidable admin nonsense (by western standards) is a no-win situation. And if you fear that somehow your relationship with Curt will be compromised by being employed by him due to the Korean approach to hierarchy, then it may be better the beast you know than the unknown. But I've never known you to be intimidated by the unknown and there is always the positive slant...maybe it will be better or at least more cope-able because you'll be in an environment (Ilsan) in which you are comfortable.

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