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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Yeah, It's Raining!

I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but Korea is in the middle of a drought, having had the least amount of rainfall for this summer period in over 100 years.

But tonight it is raining, and more is expected this weekend.


Hopefully the water tables will begin to replenish and some of the summer crops will make it (and food prices will not continue to rise).

There is also the worry (constantly nagging) that things in the north (North Korea, that is) will get so bad that they will launch another attack against the south . . .

Sunday, 24 June 2012

You May Not Want to Read This, but . . .

One thing that I hate, that really disgusts me, is students who play with their wounds.

I understand that sometimes having a wound, and especially a bandage on it, is a symbol of childhood pride.  I felt that way when I was a kid.

I understand that I have a different perspective as an adult, and that--being consciously aware of these two vastly different perspectives, yet choosing to hold to one of them--I am perhaps a hypocrite. I believe in fairness, after all.

Yet when the boy in my class last week took his bandage off of his unhealed, scraped knee and began playing with it (the bandage), I couldn't help but be disturbed.

I told him to go put the bandage in the trash can.

He reluctantly did so.

The worst situation (refer back to this post's title) was when I taught in Japan.

I was teaching a class of 3rd graders at a satellite school, a rented room in a private house in a small city in the Hiroshima area.

It happened to be parent's day, a day when parents could observe the classes.

One of the students, a really cute and fun girl, had a scab on her knee.  As I moved through the day's vocabulary, she kept picking at the scab until it produced a few drops of blood.

I motioned to her to cut it out, and would have done more, but her mother was sitting in the corner watching me.

When she picked off a piece of the scab and put it in her mouth I almost threw up.

Maybe it's that summer is now in full swing and students are running around outside more often, but they do seem do have more cuts and bruises and bandages.

If they start to do anything gross with those wounds in my classes, however, I will not hold my tongue, even if a mom does happen to be present.

Desk Spillers

Once in a while I happen to get a student whom I will call a "desk spiller".  Not in every class, thankfully, and maybe not in every semester.

I'm worried that I have one now.

Let me explain.  A "desk spiller" is a student who, for no reason, happens to in the habit of accidentally yet consistently knocking things off of his/her desk.  I should include the words "poor timing" in the definition also.

Let me give you an example.

I have a new student, and he appears to be quite capable with English.  However, in Thursday's class I wanted to check his written work, so I moved over to his desk, yet, right when I got there, he knocked his pencil case off of his desk and bent down to retrieve it.  Since the process took a bit of time, I waited for him to surface with the pencil case.

When he did, I started to ask him--again--about his writing, yet just as I was doing so his elbow nudged his notebook off the side of the desk an onto the floor.

Thus interrupted, I waited again for him to retrieve the fallen object.

Once upright, with notebook in hand, I began a third time to query him.


This time his textbook fell to the floor.

With a soundly muffled curse--by this time several minutes had passed--I returned to focus my attention on the other students in the class.

Woe unto ye, desk spillers, bane of teachers!

Agatha Christie

My advanced student (12 years old) and I started reading "And Then There Were None", a mystery novel by Agatha Christie.  Compared to the last two books that we read--"Holes" and "When You Reach Me" (young adult novels, both of which are great and I would recommend to anyone), this one has much more challenging vocabulary, given partly that it was published in 1939 and thus includes some older English, and partly that it is quite descriptive about characters' personalities (so, more adjectives as opposed to nouns, "conscientiously determined" vs. "cot").

The Wiki article about "And Then There Were None" says that it has sold 100,000,000 copies, and the book bio states that Christie's many novels have sold 2 billion copies around the world.  She is the world's leading bookseller after the Bible.  Pretty amazing!


Two of my favorite Korean foods--not main dishes, but things unique to Korea--are sesame leaves and small dried anchovies in red pepper paste.

While I call them "sesame" leaves (and they are referred to as "wild sesame"), the real name is "perilla" and apparently the two plants are not closely related.  However, to my (perhaps uncultured) palate they taste the same.

The leaves are often included fresh in the basket of lettuce that you might have seen in my Korean grilled meat dinner pictures.  They are used, along with lettuce, to wrap up grilled meat and other assorted foods, aka a "Korean taco".

Here, the leaves are packaged in oil and a bit of red pepper.

The dried anchovies come in all sizes, but I like this small/medium size, along with the red pepper sauce (고추정, gochujeong).


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Pic Mix

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Food Shopping in Seoul

Yesterday I took the morning subway into Seoul to do some food shopping at the Foreign Food Store in Seoul: pesto, couscous, gum, hummus, and a few other things that I can't buy where I live.

A good trip, but it made for a long day, since I teach until 9:30 pm.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Special Tea

A student of mine gave me a special present for Teacher's Day, one that I have never had before (and did not even know about): lotus flower tea.

When you open the package there is one large, dried lotus flower, and when you place it in hot water it opens up and makes a rather subtle-tasting tea (herbal):

Sticker Presents

Every time my students do a written homework assignment I give them a sticker.  For M/W/F classes, when they get 30 stickers they get a present (Tu/Th = 20).

They can choose either a pencil or an eraser; most of them go for an eraser, in part because there is such a huge variety of novelty erasers here.  For example:

That is a pic of my current stock in my "sticker present" bag.  There are Angry Bird erasers, food erasers, and others.  For more detail:

The pencils are usually neglected:

Fruity Looty

Sigh.  I usually tend to think of Korea as being a cheap place to live, and in some ways it is: transportation, health care, etc.

But now that it's summer I have my normal desire for more fruit, and fruit is expensive here (in comparison to the U.S.; a friend told me it's cheaper than in England).  A general rule is that one average-sized piece--such as an apple, orange, or tomato--costs about a dollar.

This bunch of grapes that I just bought (thus the need to gripe) cost $8 (yikes!):

This small melon was on sale, so I grabbed it:

Some of the fruit is expensive because Korea has a small land area for growing such produce.  Other fruit is imported, and thus costs more.

I miss buying and eating fruit in the U.S.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Memorial Day Lunch

Today in Korea was Memorial Day, a public holiday . . . a friend and I had lunch at an Indian restaurant (I imagine the food looks the same elsewhere in the world) . . .