Wednesday, November 19, 2008

classroom product placement

One assignment I gave my first year students was to make an advertisement (a commercial) in class. Today is the first day of presentations and the first one was of a bear and a man wrestling for salmon. Many of you might recognize the plot from this ad/video. I am disappointed that they copied the idea so completely - even the tin of salmon was marked "John West Salmon", but I like the effort they put into the preparation.

Below, is the bear and the bear threatening me.

So, I'm torn; the acting was pretty good, and the ad is undeniably funny, but should I give any grade to plagiarists? In watching the Youtube video, I see that my students used the exact script from the commercial.

remember: John West; they do their worst so you can have their best!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chungdae san

It's been a while since I climbed the mountain behind my apartment. Today, the Kwandongfamily went up. There were many changes since the last time I'd been up.

"This tree must not fall!"
Kwandongson with Sokcho's mountain-ocean mascot (funny that they didn't work sunrise in).
There are a lot of new benches along the trail. Here Kwandong-son and -wife point to the little guy's daycare.
If you climb 280 metres and think, "I wish I could go up five metres more", you are in luck.

My son's bookshelf: 우리아빠는 방귀왕

Special note: I bought a three-pack of Weihenstephaner (Germany's oldest brewery) beer -it came with a cool glass! I just finished the 'Kristall Weissbier' which was okay; I really like the dunkel, though. It's a 500 ml bottle so there be some (more than usual) non sequitors and such.

I continue to try to learn Korean, in fits and starts. I intend to make another start (I don't want to have a fit - what does 'fits and starts' mean, anyway?) and, along with other material, intend to read books from my son's bookshelf. To add structure to my reading, I will post commentary about one book a week here.

I already do read his books, of course. Around half of his book shelf consists of English books and sitting sideways, on top, is Dinosaurs, which will be a great book for him in five years. Until then, I will be reading it and showing him pictures on occasion. I read the rest with him; that was clear, wasn;t it?
Click to embiggin the photos, as you like.

Anyway, the bookshelf itself came with, I don't know, about forty Korean books for pre-schoolers. Some have no text, others include stickers with words (in hangeul, of course) to affix next to pictures.

I read for him Where the Wild Things Are, which frightened him after a mere four pages on his first glimpse, but also these Korean books. He has seen all of them, I think, but I am not sure I have. Normally, I check out a few pages and tell him an English story that approximates the Korean one. I do this for the same reason I need to learn Korean; my reading is slow, mechanical and my accent is terrible, but also because he gets a lot of Korean content in the day anyway. After eight+ hours at a Korean-only 어린이집 (Korean daycare), he has enough trouble communicating with his dad in English.

Let's start with a funny one:
First story: Our dad, the king of farting

My first note is I need to understand the Korean use of our (우리). One can find '우리나라' (our country), '우리말' (our language) and other terms, even when the sentences are given to foreigners. The book title, Our Dad... clearly is not about your dad and my dad both, what's with this 'our' business?

Okay, so father and son are going to a 'father and son day' at the kindergarten. They sing and do artwork together, making a paper flower.
색종이 - coloured paper
종이 - paper
간식 - snack

Then comes some tumbling.
구르다, 구르기를 - roll, tumble

Oh my gosh, dad farted - a lot!
아빠가 멋지게 구르기 시작했어요. 그때 뿌앙! 뿌앙! 뿡뿡뿡! 방귀가 터져 나왔어요.
Dad began to tumble. B-rap, B-rap, B-rrrrap! Dad farted a lot.

The boy is very embarrassed.
창피해! -embarrassed.

It turns out dad is sick. An ambulance takes him to the hospital.

I am not too clear on the next bit. A nurse tells the family something, finishing with, "He should fart after his next meal." "방귀가 나와야 밥을 먹을 수 있어요."

The boy prays, "Please let dad have a good fart."
마침 -luckily
마침내 - at last.
Finally, dad farted. Yahoo! Our dad's farting!

Next week: Robot wars! - It's more touching than it sounds.

Added the next morning: I think the dad's name must be Harold. That let's me make the sacrilegious comment, "Our father, who fart in heaven, Harold be thy name." There, I feel better.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Homemade satellites - the staple of YA science fiction

The Korea Times has an article about a "Homemade Satellite" that will be launched...uh, sometime - I lost interest after chuckling over the homemade part.
I must run to care for the little guy - maybe more later.

Ppeppero Day

I actually received a few boxes of the candy. Don't fret too much about the bad teacher - I used it to reward students who answered questions in class. It was the first class that more than one student tried to talk at once.

I wish I could say I have outgrown my dislike of 'candy day' on Remembrance Day, but I haven't outgrown much . Still, I do like candy and active students.

Monday, November 10, 2008

first snow - a half-assed post

This is the first year I've been unable to take a picture of the snow capped mountain in the morning before work. I may be able to in the next few days if we get more or if the current snow stays (unlikely). A Brian on the other side of the country has photos of Gangwon snow (hey, I don't poach on your territory!). Previous years.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dunkel Beer

This photo is from Pack the Elcamino's blog. He thinks this isn't the best beer at E-Mart, but agrees that its pretty good.

The name sounded familiar and I reopened a fantasy book which had beer practically as a main character. "The Herzwesten Brewery has a good reputation as the Weihenstephan in Barvaria." Drawing of the Dark, by Tim Powers.

Its not a big deal, its just that Sokcho is a bit of a backwater for foreign beer.

It happens every weekend

I wake up before the little guy and check my email or something. When he gets up I feel a little cold so I put a warmer shirt on him. I still feel cold so I put some socks on him...eventually I put some heavy wool socks on my own feet, leave him alone and feel better.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chikopian in the news

From the Huffington and the Washington Times.
CHICAGO | The skinny kid with the funny name will forever be a part of history.

I don't think Patrick Kennedy is that funny a name, but I sure remember him as "the skinny kid". Dang cross country runners, always being so thin.

Anyway, Kennedy and I spent five summers working together at Camp Chikopi and I know him to be an intensely politically-aware person; in him, that's a compliment.

We've drifted apart but I am sure that he was involved -knocking on doors, manning phones or something - in the campaign and I am glad to read about him.

Nice work, Pat.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quantum of Solace - Not as good as it sounds

There's plenty of action in the New Bond film but the camera work was chaotic so the fights and chases were hard to follow. Really, I figured in the LOTR movies that the quick cuts and moving camera work in fight scenes was to avoid Asian Martial Arts style exchanges -which would have been weird in a quintessentially English movie - or to hide weak fighting skills on the part of the actors. Is that the case with QoS?

And if the action scenes don't thrill, there isn't much to a Bond film.

Perhaps the film had fractal significance; the plot was as confusing as the action. Bond travelled hither and thither wildly; I guess he had to to follow the bad guys but why did they take those trips? Stuff had to have been cut out: there is a female agent who I only remembered as 'Fields', but reviews give her name as Strawberry Fields - is that part of Bond lore that I should have or is her full name on the cutting room floor?

Hidden spoilers below.

I will type my spoilers - or more correctly, my confusion about the plot, which must contain spoilers below in white character. If you want to read further, highlight the area below this point to find the invisible message.

Bond is trying to stop an international cartel intent on controlling the water resources of Bolivia? Bad news for the Bolivians, but squeezing them doesn't wring out much money (is the water metaphor confusing in a discussion of water? Sorry.) and water isn't all that portable. Controlling the water feeds to New York City would be dastardly, but, and I apologize to any Bolivian readers, who cares?

Don't look at the comments if you are concerned about spoilers, but do comment otherwise, please.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bits and pieces

I don't have a single strong topic to write about but here's a bit of a grab bag.

O-bama! As a Canadian I followed the election closely didn't feel I needed to probe too deeply into the issues - I can't vote for either one. Now that it's over; well, I was torn between the candidates for the weak reason that I am anti-bush (and therefore pro democrat) but McCain had showed a fun side on the Daily Show, so I liked him. Anyway, Sarah Palin was one of the factors that made me pro-Obama. Not the only one, but the final one.

Anyway, congrats to Obama and wow, McCain had a great defeat speech.

Elections are going on at my university and that means costumes -of course! There were several cows, a few crocodiles and a tiger. I borrowed a cow costume for a quick photo -at bottom left, you can see this group is supporting team 3 (names covered) for pres and VP. I'm not sure why I didn't choose the croc suit. Last year there were superheros (and a brave, outnumbered teacher/ninja).

Here is a sleeper from a third year class.
Gangneung is hosting a UCC - User created content - contest. I think it is for tourism and will give more details soon.

Giant author (both tall and famous) Michael Crichton passed away Tuesday. I have reviewed a few of his books here but not of my favourite pair; Jurassic Park and its sequel. They were fantastic with a remarkable blend of real science and adventure. (Reviews of Next and State of Fear.) I read many but not all of his books and will try to get to Andromeda Strain soon.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

D&D players - lowest of the low

The Christian Children's Fund refused a donation of $17 000 as it came from D&D players- and therefore must be tainted with E~vil! (Via Pharyngula.)

This post is mostly a warning for an, um, acquaintance - surely I couldn't be friends with someone as anti-Christian as a D&D player. I mean, I don't believe in god; I am not Anti-god.

And to think that I had been so impressed with his petty vandalism!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Lost in lack of translation

Officials in Swansea (county?), England (correction: Tom, in the comments, tells me Swansea is a city in Wales. I had thought it was a border town or the like. Thanks Tom.), needed to have a sign translated to Welsh, as road signs must be bilingual there. They sent the message to a translator who was away and had an automated message returned to the sender. The message was only in Welsh and the officials thought their work was done.

The result? A sign saying, in English, that heavy vehicles couldn't use a road and in Welsh, that "I am not in the office at the moment". BBC via Boing boing.

What kind of translator, while using a work email address, uses a single language automated response? Charles, I'm looking at you!The man should learn some business etiquette, much less email etiquette. (I was going to write, "Or, as the Welsh say,..." with a string of gibberish, but I recall that friends doing the same with pseudo-Chinese seemed really inappropriate.)

As an aside, I question the efficiency of no-nonsense business letters that someone would accept two sentences without any pleasantries, introductions or salutations. Even an bit of advertising would make sense (Thank you for bringing your business here). Is the translator normally so 'efficient' that s/he sends bare, unadorned translations? Are the government employees really willing to accept a letter with no names or notes in it? finally, was the translator surprised to be paid for some work s/he didn't remember doing?

Anyway, as a Canadian I grew up in a French-tinged environment - it's not really bilingual but there's a lot of French around. I do not speak French but I recognize a lot of words. I'm pretty sure that I would understand enough to notice a problem with "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."

Is the same not true for Swansea? I can appreciate that Welsh seems more different than French to English, but if people grow up in the area, would they not notice the common words on street signs and not see any in the above sentences?

We laugh at interesting English signs (and I photographed an accidentally obscene one and posted it a few days ago) in Korea, but if places that should be multi-cultural have this much trouble I guess we should take it easy on Korean sign makers.