Saturday, November 29, 2008

Feeling the Farking Love

Man, what a day…. I go to the “Nearly a Bizness Skool” for my lab class and the door is locked and the lights are down. Which is weird, because I know I’ve seen a student duck around the corner leading to the door. As I wander back down the hallway the student yells at me to come in, and when I do the class is all gathered by the door and blowing off those champagne-popper fireworks screaming “happy birthday!” And they brought drinks and chocolate cake. Then they light aluminum-based sparklers and start singing “Happy Birthday” to me. The board has “happy birthday” written on it in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Kazakhstani. Plus, they give me gifts of a map of China, and a brief letter that says that I am their favorite instructor and the lab is their favorite class. As a bonus, the enormous clouds of smoke we generate do not trigger the smoke-alarms, although they do pull in another instructor who snaffles a piece of MY cake!



I will completely miss that class. It’s optional, with no grading and no attendance, but these 8 adorable little scholars come twice a week and we navigate the often freakish and incomprehensible waves of national culture(s). This is the class in which I can discuss the Vietnamese War with a Viet dude, Tianamenn Square with the Chinese students (and, trust me, you don’t just bring that shite up to the average Chinese student), and imperialism and the fall of the USSR with the Kazkhstani student. Great kids.

This all makes me late for the (stupid) mandatory meeting on our new computerized grading system. Which is a good thing, though it may not sound like it. I get there, grab the handout and, looking through it, note that it isn’t quite what is being shown on the screen. This observation is further strengthened when, at the end of the presentation, the Director says, “now, don’t expect this to look like what we’ve just showed you! We put this presentation together before we had the system implemented. But when you get into the system it will look like this….” At which point he waves the handout in the air.

And I wonder why we went through the whole stupid presentation. Still, I arrived late, so that’s good.

Get to my Japanese Studies class and they are docile and I have a lovely little quiz to spring on them.. keeps them quire busy for the last half hour of the class.

Then it’s off to the office and eventually my night class. While waiting for the night class I download the audiobook for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (for the greatest Auditory Skills class there will EVER be!) and grab the last two Rolling Stones albums I haven’t looted. So, really, time well spent.

As to the class? One guy shows up on time. We sit and shoot the shit. A second guy shows up 20 minutes late and says, “Sorry, I have an appointment tonight.” The first guy looks confused, then like a light is going off in his head, and then all shifty, “Oh, I also have an appointment.”

Off they go.

The third Musketeer arrives 10 minutes later and peers suspiciously into the empty room, as though trying to calculate the odds that I have killed and eaten his friends and that he might be next. I say, “everyone left, would you like to come in and learn something?”

He looks at me for three seconds, then, “No.”

Without another word, he spins on one heel, heads to the elevator and disappears.

Bingo! Worst-Class-Evar is cancelled!

Walking home burbling happily and as I pass the bar, Betty (our nickname for the proprietress) comes bubbling out of the door hollering some uninterpretable Korean (I think that might be redundant). All that is clear is that she wants me to come inside the bar. I do, and I see another foreign instructor sitting at the table eating. Turns out that it is Betty’s daughter’s birthday and mom is celebrating at the bar by feeding us free cider and 떡-based delicacies. 떡 is a ferociously glutinized rice concoction which is made, at least partly, by beating the living shit out of an enormous patty of rice-goo. I’m not normally a fan of Ttok (the semi-Anglicization), but this isn’t that bad and at least two of the things (one of which featured raisins) are completely delicious. I sit with my compatriot and talk bad Korean with Betty (who wants to know when the OAF will be around). After I eat my fill, assure Betty that I will return with the OAF, and I leave the bar fed and even jollier.

Later, I will return and, probably, break out of November just a bit early, with a delicious beer.

Well, ok, with a CASS.. but, still, technically a beer.

I believe that even Ice Cube would concur that it was a good day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It falls up faster..

Despite bouts of rain, the Korean workmen have stayed at it and now have the second floor framing in place...

The inside of the first floor is a rat's warren of support beams. Perhaps because of the rain, no concrete is currently being poured.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"I see Ed People!!"

Holy Cow.. is it the BKF in 20 years? If he gets all depressed?

BTW, for your "edification" (heh! I kill me) - it's actually the son of an ex-Korean president fighting with his sister over mom's business. Very familial..

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random Reflections on the New Job

1) It’s a good thing because it will change things. Like every monkey (think Community College Trustees) I like shiny rocks. I also have the habit of banging them about and dragging them through various mucks. They don’t stay very shiny, very long. BPU2 will be, at least, a shiny new rock.

And I have my new look all picked out!

2) If the translation institute at BPU2 can use me, then I’m in hog-heaven, because this is, of course, the path I’d like to follow for the next few years. The novel I just finished editing featured a heroine who lived in a little cottage on the beach – man would that be a cool thing. The US economy just needs to tank, and I need to get into the editing thing here in the land of the sparkling dawn. Then it is conceivable that in a few years I could do it from the States, with the BKF as translator, and whatever else I could dig up.

3) Seoul – I’m actually ambivalent about this. One of the things I really like about South-Central is that it is not crowded. This has several advantages. It is quieter for one thing and, as my friends know, I am an epic noise-sissy. Long walks are quite possible – no bumping into people and very little looking out for homicidal scooterists. And, let’s face it, I’m a misogynist and Seoul is crammed, nearly overflowing, with nasty people. They’re everywhere! On the positive side, much more culture.. MUUUUUUUUCH more culture. Also, closer to KLTI and the other important players in translation. And this contract will allow me to get an apartment, which could be a very nice thing, if the right one is available (I should say that the lovely Millie – my Korean tutor – has already found two realtors she thinks will work well with waeguk, but won’t necessarily try to place me in Itaewon with all the other waegukdul. So there’s that.)

4) Visitors. HAH! RIGHT!In the highly imaginary event that anyone I know comes to visit me, Seoul is where I want to be to host them. It is not only the heart of Korea, but it is convenient, by train or plane, to everywhere. The tourist ‘thrills’ of South-Central can be achieved in about 1.5 days, and every one of them is solidly second-rate.

5) Sports – Seoul has several basketball teams, at least two (?) baseball teams, a soccer team, volleyball (so that’s a point against), and even something called the KNFL which, after watching for 15 minutes on cable, I would never EVER attend.

6) Money – with only 9 hours of scheduled courses, a bit of overtime and editing should mean that I make at least a bit more money. This is always good (Capitalism 101).

7) White Peoplesess…. – I’m gonna have fewer of them in my daily grind. BPU has White Peoples stuffed everywhere. You can’t open a cupboard or desk-drawer without at least three of them (from at least two different countries) tumbling out and beginning to tell you tales of that “time I was really, really wasted!” They get underfoot, clog toilets (they flush toilet paper, you see), smoke marijuana, and complain about how Koreans drive. This will not be true at BPU2 where, it is my understanding, I will be the only foreigner in the department. I suppose this is a good and bad thing.. I’ll miss my homies, but I should get closer friendships wit Koreans, which is a good thing in terms of language acquisition, cultural knowledge, and drinking soju.

All in all, I must echo the words of the great philosopher Walsh and summarize that “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”

BPU2 and Me..

Are now official.

So it's off to Seoul!

Below is a picture of the lovely quad. I will work somewhere off there to the left. In the background, on the ridge of the hill, you can see Seoul Tower.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Long Goodbye?

BPU2 has now put decision on my (potential) position off until Wednesday. I can't tell if this is just the traditional Korean way of saying no without actually having to come out and say it, or if it is just administrative dicking about.

Either way it's a pain in the ass, and the director at BPU (the original) needs to know if I am staying or going - a fact he reminds me of in email and every time we see each other in the halls. I suppose that means they want me to stay, but it is still a pain in the ass..

Oh well, if BPU2 puts it off past Friday, it becomes the Korean "no" in any case, as I'll need to commit to BPU or lose whatever pathetic advantages I've accrued in my one year "tenure" here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 4 and 5

Today there was no activity, as it was raining, but things are already reaching towards the sky. In the first picture it may look like there are walls up, but if you look closely at the left side of the photo (up near the top) you'll see that these are actually the metal molds into which the concrete will be poured. Look closely and you'll see about 12 inches of space between two "walls" of metal. Also, some structural bits are up.. rebar surrounded with the metal frames.

Looking at those support bits I can't imagine that the place will be actually be three stories, since the supports only go up one story.. can you offset support columns from floor to floor? Don't supports have to be stacked or columnar?

I have questions!

Anyway, this second photo is from the angle I'll take most shots.. just to show how it grows..

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lebensraum in my brain...

As of 5:15 local time (two minutes ago), the big editing job for BKF is off to the intarwebs and a few days of semi-frantic editing are done. Nothing big for the next week, with the exception of discovering if I am hired by BPU2 or staying one more year at the one, the only, the original BPU.

Maybe it's time to focus on the little things that matter, sunrises, good coffee, sodomy. Just take a break. ;-)

And take pictures of the building going up...


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 2+3

On day two our intrepid constructionists poured the slab on top of the "foundation" concrete (which could not possibly have set in that short, and cold, a time.).

They use the Korean construction technique of linked metal plates (that pile in the foreground) which are used to create forms within which the concrete is poured. As the concrete sets it pulls away, slightly, from the metal, and once set the metal can be pulled off of the concrete.

It's a wickedly quick way to build walls and, as I noted yesterday, largely silent.

It is Saturday (토요일) here in the land of the everchanging national slogan, but this did not stop the workers from coming out and doing some sort of work with two-by-fours. I couldn't quite suss out what it was. Unlike a lot of construction around here, the demolition guys were quite careful about the sidewalk, so you don't have to walk in the street to get around this site. That's a sort of bonus in these parts.

I hope, as the YAF optomistically suggested in comments to the last post, that this is going to be a three-story piggie abatoir.

And soju, I'll need some soju. ;-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Falling Up (From My Bestseller "Great Expectoration: Spit-Takes on Korea")

Korean construction is, well.. unusual by the standards I am used to. It happens incredibly quickly and sometimes looks like all the details haven't been thought out.

Right up the street from my place was a lovely 삼 겹 살 (Sam gyap sal - bbqued piggy) place which had an outdoor garden with graceful trees and a proprietor who played guitar. His wife and he cooked and served and it was one of the OAF and my favorite places.

Consequently, it was doomed.

One day we saw the owners taking things out, the next day the windows were busted out, and the following day the land was scraped to bare earth.

Yesterday the construction began and I am going to take a series of photos (one a day, I hope) to show the thing going up. I stopped and "talked" to one of the construction guys, and while my Korean didn't quite get me to what the building would be, it did get that it would be a three story building.

Yesterday, in temperatures below zero, they poured the "foundation." This is the first picture up there .. it is of two inches of concrete poured directly over bare dirt (that blown up part of the photo shows where the dirt actually pokes through). This morning, with the concrete set (uh, maybe?), they began placing a frame of rebar above the concrete. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the way of a connective foundation here .. certainly I don't see any footings, or anything that would tie the foundation to the ground. We'll see what happens as they continue along. This may just be a difference in construction technique because Korea is not on the Pacific Rim and thus not subject to much in the way of earthquake threats.

As is the case with all Korean construction, great pains are taken to protect the buildings next door - cloths are hung up on their walls! ;-) I'm not sure I would consider that sufficient.

Finally, because it is butt-cold, the workers keep a small fire going at the edge of the site, to which they occasionally repair to warm up.

As I watched and took photos, the workers began setting up the metal forms that will contain the concrete walls. Korean construction is often much more quiet than construction in the United States because the buildings are made out of concrete and not wood - no hideous hammering at 7:30 each morning.

Tomorrow, I hope to get some pictures of the concrete wall creation.

I'm gonna miss that restaurant.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The fourth distinky season

As it snowed last night, and this morning the river is iced over, I think it is the 4th distinct season here, at last. The snow just kind of swirled in front of headlights and didn't stick, but it was cool to watch.

I also discovered that I can now purchase Korean shirts off the rack (to be fair, I always could, they just wouldn't fit), so that will cut down on the shopping I have to do back in the states. I should also say that I am also now on the other side of two more or my weight goals, having passed several key markers of obesity: on the way down, thankfully!

Well, so far. ;-)

Job decisions still await, but right now so do 20 crazy Chinese kids...

Monday, November 17, 2008

I HATE DECISIONS (And JAE’s buddy didn’t make it any easier)

The interview with the Buddhist Potential University (BPU2) went very well. I seemed to sync well with the interviewer (less well with the Department Chair, I thought) and it was just interesting enough to make me have to decide what I want to do. Only 9 hours of required teaching, I’d get to make my own content, opportunity to work with their new translation center on editing translations, a beautiful campus, the promise of MUCH more collegiality between me and the Korean instructors and a much more professional education approach. Additionally, I’d have some say over when my hours were and there would (probably, Ms. Kim was very vague about this) be more vacation. Oh.. and no camps.. so that would be good.

Also, as the students are in the English Lit and English Translation programs, I would certainly have more dedicated students than at BPU1.

The downside is I’d have to come up with my classes in a hurry (though they have an auditory one that I could just roll out of the one I’m currently doing for the “Nearly a Bizznezz Skool””. And then the big one – housing is NOT provided and I’d have to find my own housing (with the likelihood of having to put down key money). The pay is 3million, so they have the money in the paycheck.. and if the OAF were to get the editing job in Seoul we could live together.

Still, that housing thing is a biatch….

And, for a sweaty waeguk, there is also the rather substantial walk up the hill to the college. I can just imagine what a sweaty mess it will make me, come summer. On the plus side, you make that walk and you’re a short walk from Namsan Park and up to Namsan Tower – which is pretty cool… I are being conflicted…..

BKF – ask your lovely bride (and the mother of the Great Reunifier) if she remembers a Kim, Soonyoung? About 2001, rented a room next to Jae’s in the house in Monterey….

One chorus of “It’s a Small World After All!”

As I said, the Dept Chair came in and seemed less interested in hiring me than the interviewer was. He hrummphed and gave me a little speech about how the position didn’t even exist yet, so he may be preparing me for the big letdown.

Oh well, that would answer the question then, wouldn’t it? ;-)
The conference was bizarre… lots of big names but almost no attendees. The rumor was that something went wrong at the airport, but I find I hard to believe that 1,000 souls were diverted at Incheon. The website had claimed that 1,200 people were scheduled to attned, but I would be boggled if 200 people were there, which means about 50% of the folks were presenters.

Even presenters were scarce. By the afternoon, when I presented, two rooms of threads were squashed down into one, because out of 9 or 10 presentations, only 4 presenters showed up. As the only chair (out of the 4 for the two threads) it was my job to get the schedule to work and even though we started quite late, it did work even though we had Korean marketing and Turkish tourist destinations in the same room.

I think this has partly to do with the fact that accepted papers went into a conference document with an ISBN number – so it counts as a publication on a CV. Also, I’m guessing, this conference is not known for its rigor in jurying its papers. As usual, I was the only person with an actual, footnoted, cited paper and some of the papers in the conference document were a bit skimpy on content. So, if you just want a publication credit, you send a paper in to these guys, then blow the conference off.

Everything was running spectacularly late, for some reason, and there was a classic moment when the organizers led us all to lunch – a lovely room with flowers, china settings, wine, etc…

And then told us that unless we had yellow meal tickets we had to go have lunch across the hallway. In the Cafeteria! With visions of the VIP luncheon dancing in our heads, we were treated to barley’d rice, Kimchi and, to be fair, a rather delicious beef hotpot. Still, it was like these guys had never put a conference on before - queuing us up before the promised land then herding us to the cattle call.

My presentation went well –the foreigners had lots of questions and the Koreans were largely silent because the numbers of my survey really couldn’t be argued. I was happy about this, because there was one irascible professor from Sejong University, who had given the Chinese guy who presented before me a rather large ration of shit for, apparently,not giving enough credit to Korean creativity when explaining the success of the Korean Wave in China.

Afterwards, I met some people who might be very interesting to know down the line. We hung around till they kicked us out of the college and then walked down to the Hoegi subway station. One of the guys was all about branding and supposedly has a website. He’s looking vor bloggers and I may try to jump in on this.

As usual, the English documents were rife with types. As you see, the lovely certificate I received for my presentation has an “alternative” spelling of “cultural.” Gotta love Konglish!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back from the Conference

Which was a spectacular combination of lame and wonderful (about which, more soon)... For now I'm in a cafe having a cup of coffee before going off to meet the OAF who is finally well enough to go outside..

At the moment though, Americano and cruising through the Conference Document. It’s a snappy little deal of some 923 pages. ISBN number978-89-922250-054 - you should pick it up when it comes to a bookstore near you; sometime right after Hell thaws, I think

Anyway, right after the riveting (at least as I read it I wanted some rivets pounded into my head) “Individualized Cookery on How to Improve Farmhouse Cuisine” (now what does that have to do with tourism), comes “Different Factors Affecting the Selection of Anaphoric Forms.” This is on page 301, if you happen to have this volume handy. It features the following abstract:

The selection of anaphoric forms is not random in context, but a complex multi-dimensional phenomenon affected by different factors. It is not only affected by the discourse structure but also affected by the context, relevant principle and conversational principle. This paper discusses several different factors affecting the selection of anaphoric forms, aiming at a further understanding of the contextual consistence and playing a significant role in anaphoric form selection.

Now isn’t THAT a pretty impressive, brimming, frothy cup of delicious WTF? Or, as a poet whose skills far surpass mine once put it, “What you talkin’ bout Willis?”

Thank god the actual article is in Chinese, because I think reading anything more along the lines of the abstract would have produced something syncopial in my head.

I've also finished the line editing for GREY DREAMS OF A TIN GOD, and that means I can move wholly to the BKF's work. Sweet.. there may be some more time for reading soon. ;-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I take a look at this conference on Saturday and not only am I presenting, but I'm one of the chairs of my session. AND I've been added to the round-table discussion at the end of the day.

I must be verrrrrry important!

at Ye Olde "Nearly a Bizness Skool"

That spooky thing over there is one of the corridors of power at the "Nearly a Bizness Skool" here at BPU.

Where I may work next year.

We had the meeting with admin and it sounds like we might get a chance to semi-change status and also create the English program here.

Right now we have students coming in from about 14 countries, and about .25 are not sufficiently Englished-up to go directly into business classes. So some of them need to take a year of English (100 and 300) and even some of those who are in the BBa and MBa programs need to take classes.

So this is 20 hours a week at the 100 level, 16 hours a week at the 300 level, and three hours of (now) optional lab at the higher levels.

But because the problem is larger than NBS expected, and they need instructors with Master's degrees, and because this program was thrown together ad hoc style (a bunch of shit flung at a wall to see what would stick), they know the need something done.

Add to this the fact that teaching at NBS is far more time-intensive than at BPU (where we essentially work out of workbooks, and the syllabi and content is provided us) and you had some stirrings around here.

So it looks like, maybe, if all goes right, we will be given "projects" instead of classes, during the intersession, and this project will be building an entire English program from the ground up - decide on the curriculum and standards, pick the materials, create the syllabi, etc. This has several important aspects, the first of which is the experience, since not many people get this kind of foundation-up exerience; the second of which is the resume filler; the third of which is that I will get about as much pay as anywhere else, and; finally, I will get to keep my killer apartment on the top floor.

With all that said, today I sent out job applications for places in Seoul, and I'll be interviewing at Buddhist College on Monday... ;-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Terrorist in Chief

See? SEE? SEE?
The kids are wearing turbans!!
Muslim Extremists!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What FTMFW Actually LOOKS like!

Buddhist College Redux

So, they've contacted me again, and apparently they are revisiting the job - that is, re-opening it. They'd like to interview me.


hard to say they seem very organized.... I guess I need to see if I can get slid to the Nearly a Bizness Skool over here. If not I should be gone...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

America's National Nightmare Extends to District 5 in Placer County.

Where tree-hugging moonbat, goth, satan-worshipper and possible vegan Jennifer Montgomery has somehow unseated Bruce Kranz. Montgomery's hippie-coven of unwashed worshippers celebrated the victory by sacrificing innocent Christian babies and drinking their blood under the watchful eyes of international Jewry who had stopped by after a busy day sabotaging the world economy and before their dinner of the spleens of martyrs.

Back to my nap.

We're all Terrorist Socialiss Now!

Whoohoo! Obama won.

I can get my old vinyl copy of "The Internationale" out of its sleeve, raise the red flag, and tax the sperm of heterosexual Republicans (a truly "progressive" tax, but one that will have to be high, due to the small number of folks who fit both categories) to fund the abortion of cheerleaders by homosexual doctors who will raise the boy-fetuses in tubes, to later use in their hideous forced-gay-marriage ceremonies. The hard-working CEO, whose brow-sweat and calloused hands eked a meager $50 million dollar golden parachute out of their failing mortgage company will be denied unemployment compensation will will be used to fund dastardly deeds including medical procedures for people who need them.

There will be no end to my villainy.

For now, though, it's nap time..

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rainology and Pourology


BKF has enlisted my help on a little (130 page) deal with Ewha and, POW!, on my desk lands the possibility of a 300+ page work of fiction that needs help. Alla this due before the birthday falls.

Thank God it's November, is all I have to say..

Monday, November 03, 2008

What to do..

Apparently the Civil Defense Office joins our intrepid old-lady from the previous post in recommending dildoes for just about any problem you might have.

And now I have a new hypochondria health worry . My blood pressure sometimes drops directly after I exercise.

Google thoughtfully reveals that this is a sign of early heart disease and that I am certain to die young (well, as young as I can at this advanced age).

As many of my schemes were premised on immortality, I feel that this is a bit of a blow to them.

I'll get back to you all with the rethink on my plans. Maybe tomorrow - if I live that long!

Korean Tubology

Cruising around the channels on Friday I came upon this classic clip, which I can't believe is being shown at about 10 at night. It's apparently some Canadian sex expert who has a rather strong penchant for turning things into discussions of anal stimulation and has an alarming way of fondling, shall we say, 'toys.' I need to slow this clip down and look at the subtitles to see how the translators dealt with such complicated phrases as "butt plugs" and "thunder thighs." (I'm guessing they are just translated phonetically, but who knows).

Anyway, as if dope smoking and child-molestation weren't enough, Canada now gives us the Octogenarian Sex Mama...

Sunday, November 02, 2008


I remember from some long ago health lecture that the symptoms of the flu are how the body fights it.. the fever is to kill the virus, the coughing and mucous is to expell it.

So, if you use something that reduces symptoms, are you slowing down the bodies' defensive efforts?

Ah well, back to my fever dreams..

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pain in the Bones...

Sick as a dog… had to teach til 7:20 pm and then staggered home. Got in and turned the heater to maximum. I had a fever, but my bones were aching like I was a 90 year-old black woman/prophetess in some bad Steven King movie. “Oooh lawdy, I noes I too ode to live through alla ‘dis heah, but I feels pow’ful evil approaching.” The heat treatments lasted about 2 hours and then I took a walk through the cold and foggy streets here. My bones were nice and liquid and the cold tightened my skin.

I’m back home with the window open and the cold pouring in; also harboring the delusion that this will break the fever. For now I’ll just enjoy the surrealism that a good fever brings. House seemed extra cynical and the K1 fighters look like demented insects. All I can tell is that some Korean guy is beating some guy from a country with a flag that looks like a direction sign at an airport: green, blue, red and white..all pointing right. Beochir Kaleekoda if I read the Hangul correctly.

Heh.. I should note that one thing I love about Korean TV is that it doesn’t play many commercials, and when it does, it chunks them together. I had noticed this in dramas, but the other day I watched Oprah and, since I didn’t watch it at home, I had no idea that it sometimes ran about 25 seconds of Oprah and then a commercial. Korean TV can’t hide the fade outs so you get Oprah for half-a-minute, fade in/out, Orprah followed by fade in/out and this repeated about five times in a row. It looks ludicrous but I find it highly entertaining.