Friday, June 27, 2008
However, my problem is still disturbing enough, in its smaller-scale way.
My son runs around with his hand in the shape of a gun yelling, "Bang, bang".
A friend bought the little guy a toy machine gun a year or so ago. I was unhappy with the gift but it was already in my son's hands so I didn't take it away. We also have a pistol-shaped bubble maker but it doesn't make noises or seem threatening. For the most part, when my son played with the machine gun, he was more interested in the flashing lights and noises it made.
I watch CSI, Law and Order and the like and often my son is in the room but not necessarily paying attention. In fact, if I see him paying attention, I will change the channel or turn the TV off.
I had all sorts of toy guns, of greater and lesser realism, and am nowadays a pacifist so I guess I shouldn't worry too much.
Still, where do kids learn these things?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Still, the room was cramped, the staff seemed too busy all the time, no pool; I would rather vacation anywhere else.
The little guy had his surgery to correct an inguinal hernia today. Just about everything went well but I will nitpick a little.
First, we were going to have the procedure done at a clinic in Sokcho. Back-alley butcher would be a strong phrase but Asan is the real deal.
We arrived the day before the operation so the little guy would be ready for the 8:30 operation.
First nitpick: we arrived at 3:00pm and I asked what we needed to do. The nurse said dinner would be served between six and seven so we went outside to look around. The doctor seemed a little upset after she arrived at our room, couldn't find us and had to call my wife to relay a message. Would it be so hard for the nurse to tell us the full schedule?
Anyway, we played outside.
The next morning, early, they gave the little guy children's pyjamas three sizes too large.
A nurse came to take KwandongAlex to surgery and we walked together. Nitpick 2: After we entered a pre-op room and the little guy was out of reach, I was told I couldn't go any further.
I am sure the nurse ferries several patients a day and has for years. Hernia surgery is the most common surgery for children. It isn't a big deal for him.
Its a huge deal for me and I was furious to be unable to give the little guy a hug goodbye.
My wife was sent away before the anaesthetist got to work. The little guy cried and fought so hard he pulled out his IV. Nitpick 2.5: They should have kept one of us until he was under.
He is now fine and sleeping at home. He was discharged without medication and he seems comfortable.
I recommend the hospital for medical work but not for a relaxing stay.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In March, I commented about how a few Korean universities are going to post their Professor evaluations online for the public to view. In that post, I promised to post my evaluations. Dang it all! I'm actually not that proud of them - I have some work to do.
I’m trying to look at these results in stages. I’ve seen the numbers, and sadly, my average is a little below the university’s average for professors. I’m concerned about that. However, the criteria for the numbers is written in Korean. I have the translations but I haven’t analyzed the results yet.
I have also looked at the comments but, again, have not translated them. I can read a few easily, and those are the positive ones: “good class”, “interesting class” and the like.
Now, I'm looking at the translations.
Now, I'm looking at the translations.
Okay, the criteria:
First, these are beyond my control:
1) The number of students in the class was appropriate.
12) The 15-week lesson plan was kept exactly and it met the initial expectation.
7) The textbook and supportive materials were well selected and used effectively.
The semester averaged about 13 classes, with Tuesdays having the most classes and Mondays and Fridays the least. We foreign teachers don’t learn of the cancelled classes until the week of, quite frequently.
I do choose supporting materials but not the main text. I cannot comment here on the textbooks as a coworker wrote one of them.
These two criteria I need to heed the results:
9) The instructor draws students' participation voluntarily by using various methods.
10) Types of homework and evaluation helped us study.
Not many students volunteer and I usually randomly pick them from the attendance list.
I think I need to improve the homework I give. Due to the uncertain schedule, I know that some classes did not receive much homework (I had 5 assignments ready for 1st year, but had to cancel some so as not to conflict with the exams).
I like these three criteria and hope I scored well:
13) The students' participation in the class was quite high.
14) I am satisfied with the class overall.
15) I'd like to recommend the instructor to other students.
It seems that I cannot format a table without a lot of work -easier to do it in Word, print it and take a picture of it.
First, I suppose I could make excuses for my score with the engineering class. Math Education, and all education classes, are usually very enthusiastic. Police Admin students also work hard. Engineering, less so. Still, that doesn’t mean its my privilege to phone it in. Also, Sports students are usually not that excited about English but I did a good enough job there. No, clearly I need to concentrate on weaker classes and maintain my own level of enthusiasm even when the students normally do not.
The first three factors I felt I had little control over but the scores are similar and acceptable.
I feared #9 and 10 were weak areas and I certainly see a lot of variation there.
Prepare meaningful homework, Kwandongbrian!
The final three categories seem to relate to my comments about enthusiasm. Maybe they rub my nose in the importance of enthusiasm.
Huh, a big difference regarding following the 15 week plan – and yet these three classes had an almost identical number of classes.
Prepare meaningful homework, Kwandongbrian!
# 14: overall satisfaction. I sometimes wonder if this is a sort of checksum, you know, to see if they really understood the questions. The sports class gave me a higher overall score but than tourism but were less satisfied overall. Huh.
The takeaway for me is to work on better homework: creation, grading and commentary. I have tried to mark the homework in class to avoid carrying it home: this isn’t quite as self-serving as it sounds – if students miss later classes, I end up with a lot of unclaimed homework at the end of the semester. I need to take my time marking and commenting on the homework to make it more useful overall.
Added later: I wrote this last night but waited until today to photograph the tables. I've had time to think. I still plan to, want to and maybe, need to improve the way I treat homework but I know that most students do it in class, in the ten minute break between classes. I frequently receive homework written on an end-paper from the textbook (because the same students that are late with homework don't bring notebooks to class). Copying is rampant although I punish all I am certain of.
The university has an E-paper site where I can publish homework for students to download (saving the school the cost of paper and making the student pay directly). I think I will post homework for a period of three days two days after the class. For a Monday class, students could download the homework Thursday, Friday or Saturday. They might not look at the printout until the day its due but they must think about it beforehand.
I may post my comments about the student comments but I will leave that for now.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I'm not sure how long I've had my phone - around six months I guess. Today, it separated into two halves, joined by a ribbon of wires.
I will be able to visit an AS shop on Monday and I hope it only needs some screws on the slide mechanism replaced or tightened.
I'll update this post then.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The doctor assured me that the problem wasn't serious but must be treated. The hospital will keep the little guy overnight and possibly for two nights to let him recover from the anaesthesia and watch for infection.
Happy Birthday, little guy (June 22)!
UPDATE: The little guy has some congestion in his lungs so they cannot operate. Don't worry: the hernia has been there for a month and the little guy has no adverse symptoms - the operation is to prevent future problems so waiting another weekend isn't a problem.
We will soon rent a car and visit some beaches and the Hwajinpo Aquarium!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Streets are more than utility spaces, good only for transportation and storage. They are community spaces where people should be comfortable interacting.
The subject area is too big to be covered here in detail so I will leave out how street design can affect crime rates and various international attempts to improve the sense of community in city streets and try to focus on engineering and how sidewalks specifically should be more than an afterthought when the ‘real work’ – streets and spaces for automobiles – is completed.
I am mostly going to be describing obstructions to foot traffic, so let me start with a counter-example: something that slows pedestrians but that I approve of. The point of the following picture is to show that my criteria are admittedly subjective and contradictory.
Street markets are a sign of life, of the sidewalk being actively used in positive ways. On occasion, I have had to struggle to push my stroller down the street but I do not begrudge the vegetable sellers their space.
In the city of
Here, we have a transformer and a light standard squeezing the street’s width. Can a stroller fit? Maybe.
Would drivers accept this on the road, not stopping their passage but slowing them down and forcing careful maneuvering? Almost definitely not.
So, why are pedestrians expected to? Not everyone is a driver, but everyone is a pedestrian. Everyone has to walk at least a little.
Here are some more light standards and communication poles:
These are two shots of the same site. Wow, three poles, all exactly in the middle of the sidewalk. People can get used to anything, but this just has to be considered annoying.
Or, perhaps it should be considered bad planning. What city planner okayed these obstructions? Next are a few photos of bad planning in Gangneung.
Which one is the crosswalk? The lines on the left appear to be for a speed-bump, while those on the right look correct for a crosswalk. But the left side has an inclined curb. Who planned this? By the way, the other side of the street has no inclined curb, for either set of lines. You could roll your wheelchair off the sidewalk, cross the street, but then have to ask for help to mount the curb on the other side.
Inset crosswalks are another sign of pedestrian’s needs being second class. Below are two photos taken in Sokcho: we are looking across an intersection but where is the crosswalk? See the illegally parked white van on the left side of the picture? That’s where the crosswalk is.
Although the crosswalk is dangerously hidden from view by cars parked on both sides of the road on both sides of the crosswalk, I am more concerned about the value, or lack, given to speed and direct travel for pedestrians. To cross this street, pedestrians are expected to go far out of their way.
Let’s have a look at the five way intersection below Gangeung’s city hall.
First, note that there is no way to cross the major road, but pedestrians can only walk alongside it. There was a crosswalk on the right side but it has been removed – the inclined curb remains, although it is unnoticeable in this photo.
The crosswalk at the bottom left is a good example of how planning for foot traffic is an afterthought. The street at the bottom left is the exit from the highway and so is one-way. There is only a brief period when those cars can enter the intersection but a longer period for vehicles to leave City Hall, then vehicles to cross in one, then both directions in front of City Hall. Only for a small portion of that time can pedestrians legally cross the highway exit lanes, even though it is safe to do so for the entire time.
Koreans typically live in apartments and so are more densely packed. Personally, I would like more open space but I do like being able to walk to most of the stores and services I need.
Let me finish with a request or a charge to Kwandong’s civil engineering students. Please, care about the pedestrian. Again, everyone is a pedestrian at some point so they should be considered first, not second, in designing streets. Make us comfortable and happy walkers.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Anyway, I had left my sleeping wife and child at home and couldn't stay all day so I watch the prep and the swim leg of the race.
This isn't part of the triathlon although many triathletes are on the ferry.
I did not see the athlete with a disability ( adapted from the competitive swimming designation) in the swim leg but I did see him ride. You might say I wouldn't know the difference between a disabled swimmer and an able bodied one (and, as a later pic will show, you might be right) but the course was two laps of the swimming course with a 10 metre run on shore between laps so I think I would have noticed something.
I helped a little with the cleanup of the water bottles. When they were ready to go, a worker offered me a bottle in gratitude. Gee, thanks for the free water.
I kept an eye on the lifeguarding crew and was surprised to see scuba tanks. A wise precaution, I guess.
As soon as these guys hit the water, they were on the bouyline. As far as I could tell, they did the whole course arm-over-arm on the bouyline. I can understand hanging on after getting a foot in the face or some such thing but these people seemed to be in a triathlon and completely unable to swim.
I saw a little of the cycling and was impressed but the course was not so impressive. At several point athletes had to make 180 degree turns and even more 90 degree turns. There weren't many places to get into a long steady rhythm.
I remember a conversation I had with my mother and sister more than twenty years ago. Conversation doesn't describe the heat; argument is a better term. My sister, AlaskaMarci was attacking historic government actions removing native American children from their families, while my mother and I took, not an opposing view exactly, but a counter view.
I felt that the government had done the wrong thing but simply wanted my sister to accept that they were not deliberately being evil.
In hearing the recent apology, I have to change my view. Some (I hope it was only some) authorities wanted to completely end the Native American way of life, culture and religion, creating, I guess, a nation with some variation in color but none in language or supposedly common history (alright, there would be two languages).
Our mother, who grew up in a small northern Ontario town with a reservation (or several) nearby and had many native American classmates, felt the government was wrong to remove children but there might have been a few defendable reasons for doing so. She noted that few Native Americans in her town completed high school (in town) and that even at public school (on the reservations) students had frequent absences for various hunting and fishing seasons. They did not put as much time into class as the other students in the community.
She told me that even a few Parry Sound (Ontario) Native children were sent to residential schools. We were both surprised; she hadn’t heard about it when it was occurring.
When we had this argument, I was naive and less political than I am now. Now, I wonder how the 1950's government could imagine removing children from their parents could possibly have good long-term results.
I am late on commenting on this story but I am glad that the government has apologized:
…aboriginal people packed Parliament to hear the prime minister say it for all Canadians: "We are sorry."
Stephen Harper made the historic apology Wednesday in the House of Commons for generations of racist policy meant to "kill the Indian in the child."
The apology is part of a massive compensation and healing package expected to top $4 billion.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The Big Hominid has had some interesting run-ins with the police lately. One often hears of officers stopping, I don't know, vagrants or hobos, as they try to enter a town and directing them away or driving them through the town out the other side. I can see why they would do this as a convenience to themselves but people should have a right to walk where they want to go.
Isn't this how Rambo started out? When will people learn?
Both situations were handled very politely. The first appeared to be a sort of neighbourhood watch:
It turns out that the gent in the pickup was an off-duty policeman who called in the fact that a backpacker was strolling into town, which I suppose is why Officer Chuck checked me out.A commenter at the above post wrote about getting permission to walk on publicly-owned roads. That sounds a little hinky to me:
One of the things I learned from Steve Vaught's Fat Man Walking blog is that, at least in some states, you can get permission from the state highway department to walk along roads where pedestrians are ordinarily prohibited. Something we'll need to look into.
On the second occasion, an officer helped the Hominid across a dangerous section of bridge; it had no shoulder or sidewalk and he had to walk sideways with his luckily-much-smaller gut hanging in traffic before the officer helped him out. He got in an interesting discussion with the officer about the legalities of walking on the side of the road.
I'm not sure I understood (or even correctly recall) the answer. If I'm not mistaken, Officer Boisen's basic point was that, even though it was technically legal to walk 522, the road wasn't "intended for" (his words) pedestrian traffic. The legal implications of "intended for" are lost to me; I'm curious to look up the actual law relevant to what happened today-- not because I dispute Officer Boisen's interpretation of it, but because I want to be clear about it in future, so as not to cause any trouble.
I want the Hominid to be safe and take no unnecessary risks but, at this rate, he may start sympathizing with the Radical-Right, Compound-Living, gubment-hating, religious fanatics. Hey, what an interesting way to start a dialogue, an inter-religious dialogue based on common concerns -way-ta-go, hypothetical-future Hominid!
My own viewpoint is that pedestrians or any users of alternative transportation should not be looked at as second-class citizens.
I think Doctorow went to school in Canada but he is really a citizen of the world. I think he currently lives in England.
Years ago, I read CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, a book describing correspondence between a senior demon and his nephew. Uncle Screwtape gives some advice on how to turn a man from Christianity; he tells his nephew to get the man to accept local spirits and mysterious forces rather than the work of one God.
Lewis would have hated Star Wars and 'the Force' which seems the embodiment of his earlier argument.
As Star Wars is to religion, The Happening is to science.
The difference being, Star Wars was a fantastic movie. Thrilling and imaginative. I am still willing to watch it again (well, the original three of the series).
The Happening is bad or incomprehensible science and a weak plot but little character development.
Our survivors are mere pawns, required to do no more than stop, yammer, then simply push on, trying to vainly outrun a threat they barely comprehend. The cast tries heroically to infuse meaning into vague, unfocused lines, and there is a last act appearance by a psychotic recluse (played by Betty Buckley) that changes the entire tone into something akin to a backwoods exploitation effort. Link
I think Shymalan was trying to update On The Beach, but that was a thoughtful exploration of how people would cope with their mortality over the course of months, while this story takes place over about 26 hours and mostly involves a lot of running.
The people are running from rustling trees. I know that innocuous objects can be made terrifying (windchimes and empty, swaying swings from Nightmare on Elm Street still focus my attention), but wind and rustling trees are not all that scary.
Shymalan was interviewed on Science Friday. One interesting thing he said was that he was known for plot twists but he only made one movie like that. I would have counted two: Sixth Sense (of course) and The Village. True, in the Village, the twist is not at the end but it is close to the end.
Please, go see Incredible Hulk.
If you do watch the movie, help me out. Reviewers online describe Wahlberg as starting in Philadelphia, but I thought he started in New York and was fleeing to Phily. Am I so wrong? Did the reviewers see an early version of the movie that was changed for the commercial release?
Finally, if it were a better movie, it would be cool that we got to see it more than a day before it opens in the US.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The title, in Korean, is Mexican Chicken. So, why is there a cow drinking beer?
Elsewhere, on the store front, is chicken (not particularly Mexican looking - it is wearing a chef's hat, not a sombrero) and, quite disturbingly, it is holding a drumstick, skewered on a fork, in a wing.
Ugh, animal mascots for food products make me feel queasy - well, maybe not cows on milk cartons, but most others. Oh, right, beer drinking cows advertising chicken are okay, I guess.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
It's a nice place but a little cramped. It is roomy enough but the unrelieved white does make it seem closer.
The weight room is fine for a visit but I wouldn't get a membership for it.
There are two restaurants and a snack concession. Here, you see tables for the western (fast food) restaurant. There are sleeping areas on this, the main floor, but many more above in a sort of crawl space.
KwandongAlex gives you a sense of proportion. Well not at all private, they do offer a feeling of personal space.
They still need to work on a few things (maybe it is the weight-loss sauna).
They are closing early before the Grand Opening, so I was able to take a picture of the baths. The pools pictured here were all of the same temperature but that might change later. There is a cold pool off to the right.
Again, Fantasia is next to the apartment so I expect the family will be visiting frequently.
On June 13th, Fantasia opens - it's a new jimjilbang, health club and such . The building is right outside my apartment window and I have watched construction and renovations. The exterior looks good. I wouldn't come to Sokcho for Fantasia, but if you are here on Friday, it might be interesting (more for locals) to check out. Oh, a jimjilbang is described as a sauna and I am sure Fantasia has some but normally they are cheap places to sleep for budget travellers. As everyone sleeps in one big room, it may be sanctioned by parents for young couples, I don't know.
On Saturday and Sunday is the 4th International Walking Festival. -Gee, now that I think about it, it may be best for locals and especially for locals with children, like myself. Anyway, KwadongAlex and I will do the 5km walk. The 10 and 20km would be too exhausting for me to carry the little guy and be tortuously boring for him. The courses are all in Seorak National Park, starting at Seorak Dong - the terminus for local bus number 7 or 7-1.
On Saturday should be the local monthly KOTESOL meeting although I haven't heard anything about it yet.
On Sunday morning is a triathlon. I think it is a 1.5km swim, 50km bike and 10km run. The advertising says something like 'enjoy mountainous Sokcho' but the course is pool-table flat, entirely within the confines of Expo Park. That may make it more interesting to spectators - its hard to make triathlons less interesting to spectators - but more than a little repetitive for competitors. I guess they don't look around that much anyway. links: 1, 2 (PDF map),
Also on Sunday, and for locals only, is cheap day at Waterpia. Waterpia is a fair to good water theme park with a variety of pools, water-slides and excellent hot-springs but it is overpriced to my mind at around 30,000won. On the third Sunday of the month, Sokcho and Goseong residents can swim for 6,000 won. The little guy and I haven't missed a day all winter. It'll be great to use the outside facilities in comfort.
Finally on Sunday is a "Sokcho Beach Nude" . Whatever it is, it costs 20,000won, starts at 9:00am and involves nude photos. If others can translate the sign better, please do so in the comments.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
The story starts with a (possibly simple-minded) girl who filled a basin at this well to drink. As the weather was clear, she saw a reflection of the sun in the water. This upset her so she dumped the basin and refilled it. After repeating this until she was tired, she decided to simply drink the water. Soon thereafter, she learned she was pregnant. I am not sure if the sun or the water was considered responsible. Certainly, I could convince none of the others on the tour to drink.Horrified by being pregnant and unmarried, she left the baby under the rocks in this photo. A stork (interesting convergence with western baby mythology) found and fed the baby until the woman came back and took him home.
The son became a famous Buddhist monk and even travelled to China for training.
I need to read some of the material the tour guides gave us but I think the monk worked (prayed?) at a mountain temple in daegwallyeong. His mother one day went to visit him and died. No one could lift her until an artist took her portrait. Then they could move her (somewhere). Her portrait now resides in a shrine in Gangneung - which we later visited.
All this is the background for the ceremony. Now, it all starts here:
Sacred liquor is made here a month before the Danoje Festival. I guess it is carried up to the mountain shrine.
Sadly, just to the left of the frame is a shaman singing and chanting. Sorry 'bout that.
This shrine is dedicated to the monk I described earlier but also to a general who was at least locally famous. This is the first martial looking San-shin (mountain god) but, as ever, he has his faithful tigers close at hand.
Our tour included a lecture by Bak Sungme of Hankuk University, professor of (something relevant). She described the area east of Daegwallyeong as historically being remote and difficult to reach. Local culture was able to diverge from national norms somewhat. Perhaps that explains the somewhat youthful and weapons-carrying mountain god.
There is a shrine on the mountain where a sacred tree grows. A branch of the tree or a seedling from the tree is carried down on this trail - which means this trail could be more than a thousand years old. I notice that the trail is in quite a depression - could it be a flood route or did a thousand years of foot traffic help create a depression about three meters deep? This was a great hike, by the way.
The tree is brought to this temple inside the city. This goddess is the mother of the local mountain god revered where the tree was collected. I have limited knowledge of mountain gods but the tiger is a symbol of the mountain god - I think a female with the tiger is unusual.
Finally, the tree is carried to the riverside site for various rites.
Forgive the blurry focus: I think it and the torches give a frantic "storm Frankenstein's castle" feel.
At Gangneung city hall is a statue, in a courtyard and easily seen from many windows, of a frightened looking topless woman and a another woman, naked in a chair. This is another terrible photo - perhaps soft-focus makes it be not-pornography. Whatever, this is a strange statue for city hall.
GangneungHayley gets free soju, dances with enabler.
Foreign women get hair washed, local press has a frenzy. (a local tradition, at this time people wash their hair with iris water. I hesitantly asked one of the women if I could smell her hair. It smelled great!)
A Gangwon Notes fan, GangneungMatthew - quote "I didn't say I was a fan, I said I read your blog"
Somewhat more than halfway up Daegwallyeong. Our tour bus stopped here for the view and a group of cyclists stopped here to gasp and wheeze -actually they looked sweaty but not as worn down as I had expected.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Students had to complete four sentences and knew how many words there would be. Today was our last class and note that I also scheduled crying for the end of class (my agendas are very detailed)! - Nobody cried.
Here, a group of students are listening to the recording. The first class tried to memorize the entire recording - and wasted a lot of time just standing there. They eventually got the hang of it. I told later classes to try to pick out three or so words and run in write them down.
A bit of an action shot.
All the students (in the frame) were into the game. Out of sight on the the upper left (but, again, you can't see him) was a student who just sat there. Well, it was the last class so I felt no pressure to push him. I had pushed him somewhat through the semester but his grades will reflect very well his effort - today was a good representative sample.
If you didn't read the Geek's post - and you should read all of them (well, you can make up your own mind about the computer programming and such. Check out the fantastic post about Korean Class 101!) -in the relay, students are in teams. One member of the team at a time goes into the hall and listens to the recording. That student cannot write anything down or use his/her phone while in the hall. The student returns and records what s/he heard. At some point students may argue over words and spelling so there is significant sharing involved.
I eventually gave a few hints - number of letters in the words and the first letter to a few words.
The sentences related to Connect With English, episodes 6-10. This is a PBS video class that all our second year students take. The story follows Rebecca as she decides to move from Boston to San Fransisco to enrol in music school.
If anyone cares, the sentences are:
I wonder what will happen to Rebecca in San Fransisco.
Will she and Alberto date?
Will he be arrested as a stalker?
I hope she does well in college.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
June 1st, today, my son was with me again but I let him dig sand castles for a minute or two while I went in. I did so twice so the photo isn't of me gritting my teeth and simply staging the shot.
The water was actually okay. I could have stayed in a few more minutes without being uncomfortable.
I asked some random tourist to take the photos for me and she took several but its an old camera and when there's a lot of motion in the shot, the camera dithers and hesitates before deciding to take the picture. There were several photos of my back but this is the closest to a face shot in the bunch. Really, it is me.