Monthly Archives: May 2007

Who Are These Freaking Kids?

 
I’m seriously beginning to think that my 5:30 class is some sort of joke that I’m not in on. As in, I’m being filmed for my reaction to these smart-assed kids and Jerry Bruckheimer is going to use the footage in the next big reality-TV thingy.
 
We read a story today about JK Rowling (the chick who wrote "Harry Potter"). The kids were happy that I knew the books and movies (oh yah, I’m considered pretty cool by 9-year-old Korean kids, I tells ya) and they were really into the conversation. Well, I have to say that some of their discussion question answers really surprised me.
 
One of the questions asked who their favourite singer or band was, and where they were from. All the kids said someone Korean, except Eddie. Eddie said his favourite band is The Beatles. "They are from England, Teacher," he added… just in case I didn’t know. 
 
The next question where Eddie suprised me again asked who their favourite actor or actress was. Again, most of the kids either said a Korean or answered with "no one". Not Eddie. Of course not Eddie. Now look… I know Pirates is popular right now, but I didn’t expect him to answer "Johnny Depp".  Eddie had just become the coolest kid I know. Until we got to the third question.
The third question wanted to know what other books or movies were popular with both children and adults. The children did very well with this, they answered (mostly) correctly and well. But my favorite answer was from Lydia (even though technically, I realize it is incorrect), who said, "24 teacher! Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6!!!"
 
I freaking LOVE that child now. And I swear that is what she said. I could not make this shite up.

Friday's Feast


Appetizer

Name a sound you like to hear.

A bottle of cold beer opening. The ocean at the beach at night when you can’t see the water. Eddie Vedder’s voice. Accoustic guitar. The sound my computer makes when I have new mail. Little kid’s laughter. Boys with British accents. Heavy rain when I’m inside where it is cozy. A campfire.

Soup
What is your favorite kind of cheese?

Most cheese is a good cheese. I would have trouble picking just one favoUrite.  You need different cheeses for different occasions.

Salad
Do you sleep late on Saturday mornings? Why or why not?

YES YES YES!!! I love sleeping in late, even if I wasn’t out late the night before. I really enjoy not having to be anywhere and just getting to relax and do nothing.  That is part of my life dream; to stay in bed late and have nothing that I have to do everyday, as though everyday is a Saturday.  A week of Saturdays sounds so lovely.

Main Course
When was the last time you forgot something?  What was it, and how long did it take to remember it?

I suspect I may be forgetting something now. I’ll let you know when I remember it.

Dessert
Fill in the blank:  I notice ____________ when _____________.

I notice sublime beauty in an otherwise mundane thing when the light touches it just right.

More Pictures from Commie Country

 
Stefanie and I tried to have an arrangement that we would try to take pictures of each other while we were in North Korea (as neither of us like to have our picture taken!).  Stef sent these to me and I just thought I would post them here for my moms to look at. Lookatme, moms!

Give a Stupid Answer…

 
In 5:30 class the kids had to write a timeline of their short little lives. The first one had the sentence started for them. "I was born in".  William just stuck the year (1999) in front of it, and forgot to answer the rest of the question.  So when it was his turn to read he said, "I was born in… oh. Um…" and happened to look up at Lydia. Lydia sneared back at him, "What are you looking at me for?"  I don’t know who is teaching them to be sarcastic little assholes, but I’m pretty sure it’s not me!

Friday's Feast

 

Appetizer
List 3 emotions you experienced this week.

Anxiety, jaw-dropping surprise, joy.

Soup
Name a car you’d love to have.

I don’t actually ever want to own another car. I would like a motorbike though (sorry moms).

Salad
Describe your typical morning routine.

Snooze. Snooze. Snooze.  Mad dash.  Coffee.

Main Course
Have you ever emailed someone famous?  If so, who, and what did you say to them?  Did they reply?

No, I haven’t. I’ve not even considered trying this.

Dessert
Do you listen to podcasts?  If so, which ones?

Ah, this explains why Brendan asked me this question. I was wondering how he even knew what the hell a "podcast" was considering he doesn’t own an iPod (yet).  But to answer this question: no, I don’t. I have Pando downloading a few video things for me (mostly tech stuff), but no podcasts.

Happy Teacher's Day to ME!

 
So far, this week has been pretty fun.  Tuesday was Teacher’s Day, so it has felt a little like Christmas (but without any time off or my moms’ delicious turkey).  However, tomorrow is my dreaded "Open Class" day (when the wee monkeys’ parental units come in to watch their little turds speak English) and I’m sure I will return to my previous state of embitteredness at that time. So I thought I would type out the notes I have received over the last few days.  Some of them are pretty golden. (Note: the ages are North American ages, not Korean ages)
 
To Jodi teacher
Hello Jodi teacher I’m Lina.
When you are tired to teach me drink cup of tea. This tea name is Rubysipper. I want to learn english hard and I wish I could be a traveller. Sam wants to be traveller too. Your my teacher and I’m your student. I like you very much. Have a good luck. See you again. Good-bye.
From Lina  – Lina, aged 7 (who gave me some tea as a gift)
 
To: Jodi.t
"Hello, my name is Alice! Thank you that you teach me for two months. I’ll give you a carnaition. It made with ribbons.  My mom made it for you. Keep it careful.  I love you very much. Next time, I’ll be good at presentation. Have good days!
From: Alice  – Alice, aged 7
 
Hi Jodi teacher!
I am cathy.  I write the letter because Monday is teacher’s day.  I will give you present too. I want you like it. Thanks for teaching m. I will be a more gorod than now.  I will study more hard. I love you~~~!!!!
everyday, I will do all of my homework.  I will do my best ~! I love you very much. 
From Cathy  – Cathy, aged 8
 
Thank you for your teaching me very hard.
I like you.
I love you.  – David, aged 6
 
I give you prast techers day Jodi teacher  – Jenny 2, aged 7
 
To: Jodi teacher
Hi! I am justin. your beautiful. I was fun to meet you, but youy little bit funny.  From: Justin   – Justin, aged 7
 
To Jody teacher
Thanks for teaching me and have a nice day tomorrow!
From Joshua   – Joshua, aged 7
 
Thank you Jodi teacher
Happy teacher’s day
Eileen    – Eileen, aged 6
 
To Jodi T.
Thank you for teaching me!  I love you! Have a nice teacher’s day!!! – From, Sally K.   – Sally K., aged 8
 
– to Jodi teacher.
Hello Jodi teacher
tomorrow is teachers day. thank you for teaching me. you are pretty. I love you Jodi-teacher
– cindy   – Cindy, aged 8
 
To Jodi Teacher
Thank you teacher.
from Eric   – Eric, aged 8
 
To: Jodi teacher
From: Sam
Are you like me.
I like you
but you’re mean
teacher but I like you
I like I like
then I can’t see at
2% and see are 8%
I want sleep good bye.   – Sam, aged 7
 
Jodi Teacher
I love you and thank you very much.
Emily   – Emily, aged 6
 
Dear Jodi teacher,
 
Hello, Jodi teacher? I’m Emily. You know today is teacher’s day. Thank you for teach me. My teacher is change from Jodi to Sharon but I will miss you. You are nice teacher to me. I love you very much.  Good-bye!
Your student,
Emily   – Emily, aged 10
 
I love you
Joody teacher.
Thank you for teaching me.
Happy Teacher Day.   – Victoria, aged 6 (note: Woody used to be her teacher… I think that is where the spelling of "Joody" comes from – a combination of "Woody" and "Jodi".  Wait a minute… EW!)
 
Dear, Jodi-teacher
thak you for teaching me
I never see a nice teacher
I love you
from! Anika   – Anika, aged 7
 
Dear Miss Jodi ~
Thank you for paying generous attention to Anika. I don’t know your taste so I picked out something and I hope you like it.
From Anika’s mom
 
Here is one of the best cards EVER…
 
Dear Jodi,
Hello. Thank you for teaching me a English. And you are a funny teacher that I ever seen. But are you a monster? Your face is like a monster. Sorry for writing that question. It is a secret. Anthony is quite in your, but crazy in Amelia teacher class. You have many humor and smart. You are a good teacher. Love Matthew   – Matthew, aged 8
 
And finally, my most favourite…
 
To: Jodi teacher
 
I have an important message for you.
You’ve been a great help.
Thank you so much.
You’ve been so kind and generous as well as lots of fun.
I would send some hugs and kisses your way for everything.
Our child is lucky to have a caring teacher like you.
I may not say it always. But I mean it whenever I say it. Thank you teacher for all the things you hae done for Eric!
From: Eric’s mom and dad  – Eric is in my kindergarten class
 
I know this sounds cliche, but in the end, the cards and notes really will mean more to me than the gifts from Channel. When I read some of the notes (like the one from Eric’s parents) I feel like a really-real teacher, which is both frightening and cool at the same time. I also realize that I may actually be a "mean teacher" (as Sam so kindly points out in his note)… check out how many kids promised to do more homework, better presenations, or just to generally be better students.  All those threats to toss one of them out the window might actually be getting through to them.

Best Headline Ever

 
 
Mike sent this one to me:
 
"Skywalkers in Korea cross Han solo"
 
HA HA HA! You can read the story at Yahoo! News.

Just for You, John Solo

 
Although better judgement suggests to me that I should NOT be embedding this video into my blog, I feel that I should. Remember when I went to the Star Wars exhibit with John?  Well, he put a lot of stinking effort into combining all our photos and videos into a single, nerdly video. I really like it… but I was there. However, John had high hopes that we would be "blog twins" and both have these vidoes.  Now, here it is.
 
PS: John! They played "our song" in the lobby lounge (which I dubbed the "NKN" or "North Korean Nautical" in hommage to the China trip) in the DPRK this weekend. I nearly gagged.

Hooray for Flickr!

 
I was contacted by Men’s Journal Magazine. They might want to use one of the pictures I took in China for their August issue. They even want to PAY me for it! HOORAY!

North Korea

 
My body hates me. First, I torture myself with a week of vegetables and fruit. And then this last weekend I tortured it with fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.
 
Last Friday I met Stefanie after work and we made our way to the Express Bus Terminal.  The bus for North Korea did not leave until midnight, which is sort of balls. I understand that the idea is that we would sleep on the way, but I never do that.  Apparently, neither does Stefanie. I was worried that we would try to out-grump each other over the weekend, but we were mostly ridiculous instead.
 
In the wee hours of the morning, we stopped at a rest stop about 10 minutes away from customs. We had to make sure that we were all on the right bus (either A or B). This was a fiasco that I won’t go into. They also had to take away people’s cell phones, MP3 players, and the like. We finally moved on to the South Korean customs. Once through, we had to all get on a different set of buses. Then we drove through the DMZ to the North Korean customs. Back off the bus.  Through customs. Back on the bus. Each time, with a long-ass (and boring) waiting period. Then through to the mountain.  That’s right. After travelling on a bus all night, without sleep, without breakfast, and crankier than imaginable, we had to go straight from the bus on the first hike. FUN! No. 
 
Our first hike was a three-hour shitter up the Kuryongyon Course.  This is what my brochure has to say about it:
 
Kuryongyon Course is the most beautiful one at Oekumgang (Outer Mt. Kumgang).  A safe path is provided for tourists, and the view is the best at Mt. Kumgang. It is so fantastic that tourists often exclaim at it as they walk around. Round trip 7 ~ 8 km.
 
It really was beautiful, even though I was pretty tired. The air was so unbelievably fresh and clean!  So was the water… we could even drink straight from one of the streams. It really was lovely and reminded me a lot of home.  It was quite an invigorating hike. And although my brochure doesn’t give this information, Stef said that she checked out the marker at the upper most point of the hike and it said we were at 3900 metres.
 
After the hike, we were taken to our hotel, the Hotel Oekumgang, which was very nice.  We were then given a choice. We could throw our bags into our rooms and haul ass back to the bus to hike the Samilpo – Haekumgang Course (around the sea and a lake) without putting our feet up or eating lunch; of resting and then going to an acrobat show (much like the one Stef and I already saw in China); or of resting and pissing around doing whatever we felt like. Stef and I opted for number three. We hunted around for something to eat… the restaurants there were mostly closed and the ones that were opened didn’t have the food we wanted. We found something that was mostly edible. Then back to the hotel for our spa gear. We spent the next hour or so resting in the spa baths and saunas, and then got a foot massage. While we were there, a torrential rain storm started. We went back to the hotel and vowed not to leave again. After a quick shower, we went for dinner at the "Sky Lounge" in the hotel (more frustration trying to find something on the menu that they had in stock) and then drank some beers and played cards.
Incidently, I’m the currently ranking "Spit Card Game Champion of the DPRK". Sweet!
 
We went to bed at 10:00 and were out cold by 10:30. Good thing, because we had to be up at 6:30 to eat the worst breakfast in history, check out, and get our tired and sore asses back up a mountain.
 
FOR THE LOVE. I am not meant to do this much activity in a 48 hour time period.
The bus ride up was fun. There were 77 switch-backs in the road. It was like being on a carnival ride.  And then we hiked the Manmulsang Course.  Here’s the brochure’s description:
 
The Manmulsang Area has hundreds of different rocky peaks, each of which has its own legend. There are also waterfalls and ponds between the strangely shaped rocks and stones, which give a magnificant view of the mountain. Round trip 5 ~6 km.
 
This was a hard hike! Not only were we wiped out from the day before, but it was very steep and really long. The trails there were really weird – they were rocky and semi-paved. It was like walking up a steep cobble-stone street after an earthquake. My ankles hate me. The top of the mountain was extremely windy.  Strangely, while we were at the top we distinctly heard three loud noises from the distance that initially sounded like thunder. But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Of course, this lead to tasteless comments like, "The irony… we go to North Korea to hike on the day they decide to bomb Seoul" and "There goes Japan".  Terrible, I know. But funny at the time.
 
After we survived that hike, we headed back into the main area.  Stef and I had a coffee, poked around the gift shops, and then settled in outside the Family Mart for some convenience store lunch and a beer. I got pretty sunburned. It was grand.
 
Then back on the bus to do everything in reverse.  Fortunately, we weren’t too late getting home… and I was dead asleep within 10 minutes of walking in the door. That was glorious.
 
I can’t tell you much about the real North Korea. It was pretty surreal having to go through back-to-back immigration and through the DMZ (which has armed sentries).  But the area we were in is like a resort, so you don’t really get a feel for what the people there must be going through. The only "Oh gosh… right. A big war." moment I had was when we were driving from the North Korean immigration/customs building to the resort area. The landscape is very unique in that area. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it was so strange until the tour guide said, "Some of you might be wondering why there are no trees in this area. It is because it was so heavily bombed during the war." There weren’t any trees for miles. Or homes. Or… anything.  Just grass and small bushes and a whole lot of rocks. It was a good reminder that the war was so recent that not even the forests have regrown yet.
 
I had a really great time on the trip. I am happy that Stefanie was with me – it was great to have someone along to be grumpy and silly (often simultaneously) with.  Also, she’s a better person than I am and she remember shite I should be grown-up enough to remember (although I’m not)… like bus snacks and toothpaste and sunscreen. But hey! I’m the one who remembered the deck of cards.
 
Finally, the trip is hard to put into words… I will post the pictures on Flickr ASAP. They will tell the stories better than I could with words.