Tag Archives: rant

Throwing Ethan Under the (School) Bus

So this isn’t a complaint about my school specifically, it is more about the “education as a business” model in Korea in general. Most of the time I can make peace about the practice, even if I don’t always love how it is implemented. It is, after all, how I make my money. But sometimes things happen that just absolutely enrage me.

We are currently doing “Open House” at our school. This means that the parents come into the school and watch their little darlings have a “class”. Of course, it is a total farce. For one of my classes I was told show my Reading and Comprehension class (usually 35 minutes), my Language Arts class (usually 35 minutes) and do our Speech Contest song. All in 15 minutes. Yah. It’s nothing but a show, and it’s annoying, but I get it. Show ’em the good bits. No warts.

That’s not what pissed me off. What pissed me off is how I was told to handle one of my little guys during the Open House. This little bundle of awesome is named Ethan, and although he’s not the brightest crayon in the box, he sure tries hard and he has been improving.

The issue is that Ethan took just about a month off to vacation in Guam. Lucky little turd. But in light of that, I was told to make sure that Ethan didn’t do as well as the other kids, so that parents could see how much children improve in a month.

What? You want me to intentionally embarrass this kid by making him look stupid in front of his friends and everyone’s mommy and daddy to try and show how awesome the school is? ARE YOU MENTAL? HE IS FIVE FUCKING YEARS OLD.

The thing is, little Ethan already was never going to do as well as the others; he’s behind in his reading. He *isn’t* as good as the others, he wasn’t even before the vacation. But he tries so hard and he deserved to be given the chance to do his best for his mommy.

So I gave him that chance. Because being a good teacher is trying to always do right by your little guys. And that little dude may have fucked up his reading a wee bit (as per usual), but he was good at answering questions and he rocked the hell out of the song. I was super proud of him.

The administration at my school, however, can do one at the moment.

Get Yourself Alienated – Part 1

So a few weeks ago, after I got back the results of my medical testing, I was ready for step two in the process of getting my ARC (Alien Registration Card). Time to head to the Immigration Office in Suwon.

Going to the Suwon Immigration Office (수원출입국관리사무소) should not have been nearly as annoying of an adventure as it turned out to be. This part in the ARC adventure was made infinitely more difficult thanks to the vague incompetencies of my “supervisor”.

I thought the instructions for the medical testing were bad. This may have been worse. She handed me a hand-written note with the name and address of the office. In Korean. Then the telephone number (I don’t have a working phone). Then the “instructions” on how to get there:

Suwon Subway

DongBack station ——-> kihung station ———> youngtong

Basically, this translates to “Take the metro from Dongbaek Station to Giheung Station. Transfer from the green line to the yellow line. Then get off in Suwon at Yeongtong Station.”

Hey! I mean… it’s nearly there, right? Never mind that she managed to spell every bloody station incorrectly. But the awesomeness doesn’t end there.

She also (kindly?) had printed me a map of the area where the immigration office is. All in Korean, but hey! At least I know… nothing. I know NOTHING. Because she didn’t think to print me a map WITH THE DAMNED METRO STATION ON IT.

When I mentioned that, her response was “Oh, the station is near to there.” She didn’t seem to get that it doesn’t matter if it was literally two minutes away, if I walked in the wrong bloody direction, I wouldn’t find the damned office. I tried my best to get her to understand the issue, but I don’t think I got through to her as she said, “Maybe you look on the internet.”

Thanks for nothing, Supervisor. I did look it up on the internet, and it looked to be about a 10 minute walk. It took FOREVER to find online though, as Google hasn’t mapped the new metro stops out that way yet and Daum maps is all in Korean. But I thought I figured I knew what I was doing, so I relaxed a bit.

Then the next issue came up. Super (that’s my new nickname for her, deemed such right now) didn’t tell me how much the fees would be, or what documentation I should bring. So I figured I should check it out.

The most likely source for solid information seemed to be hikorea.go.kr (even though they ended up having the fee wrong), and it was then I realised that I didn’t have a key piece of information: A copy of the school’s business registration.

Yarg! So not only did Super manage to give me shite directions, she failed to tell me what I should bring with me, what the shiznet would cost, or the documentation.

So I was delayed a day as I was supposed to go to Suwon in the morning, and had to wait for Super to get me the docs I needed instead. Once that was sorted, I was able to go to Suwon the next day.

The metro in Seoul is delightfully simple. It can be a headache of transfers, but the signage is super good and it is relatively easy to use. The issue came when I stepped out of Yeoungtong Station and had no fucking clue where I was.

As in, no clue. Zero. I turned in a slow circle just outside of Exit 1 and wondered in which direction I should go. Rather than just head down a street (one looked no more promising than another), I thought I would try another look at my map – both the paper shitter that Super gave me as well as the one I had saved on my iPad.

It was then, with me trying to juggle all this stuff, that a tiny Korean lady came up to me and started speaking to me in Korean. I told her I didn’t understand Korean (in Korean) but showed her the shitty map with the Suwon Immigration Office on it in Korean. And… bingo! She seemed to know where it was. Bless you, Korean lady. She pointed me in a direction, we bowed at each other, and she walked away.

I walked to the intersection and stopped to take notes. Mostly because I don’t want what’s been happening to me to happen to the next teacher that comes. It’s just not a fun experience. So I was trying to write down the name of that intersection for my notes when behind me I hear the world’s hugest, weariest sigh.

The little Korean lady is back. I smile at her but realise I have no real way of communicating “I’m okay, I’m just writing this down so Super can’t take torture another foreigner”. She clearly thinks I’m mentally disadvantaged in some way.

So, what does she do? She takes me by the arm and walks me to the next intersection, points me in a direction, and says something (I’m assuming “Can I trust you to find your way from here, simpleton?” or similar) in Korean.

HOW CUTE IS THAT? I loved that little impatient Korean lady.

If only Super was this helpful.

It was easy breezy lemon squeezy from there. (Turns out there was even a more straightforward route, but I don’t blame sigh-at-me lady). I was there in less than 10 minutes and ready to get through the bureaucracy of the Suwon Immigration Office.

Top 10 of Your Top 10 Top 10s

Great comic today over at The Joy of Tech about Top 10 lists. I find it particularly  funny because so many “How to Improve SEO” or “How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog” articles advise using top 10 lists (about nearly anything) to get people to read your blog. That nugget of wisdom is usually number 1 on their top 10 list of “Get Moar Blog Followers” posts.

I have a better idea. Write an interesting post. Leave the SEO wanging and other ‘tricks’ aside. I suppose if you are writing just to make some money (which is a wee bit sad) or for popularity (ditto) then you should be following those sorts of tips and tricks. Otherwise, just write some cool shit.

Wunderlist

People think I’m an OCD, type-A, highly organised person with bountiful energy for putting everything into it’s right place.

This isn’t entirely accurate.

I’m actually kinda lazy, which is why I’m so organised about my stuff. I can’t be arsed to look around for things: My keys, a t-shirt, lipgloss, my next highest priority task, whatever. So I put always put things exactly where I can find them.

At work, I always write down what I need to do and/or remember. I’ve just always found it easier to get those things out of your brain and somewhere else so you can use your brain for other things. Having the “Oh yes, I must remember to X” thought again and again (where X remains constant) is a waste of brain juice.  So I write it down and I don’t worry about it anymore. It’s the equivalent of putting my thoughts where I can find them again with less effort.

This habit means I am constantly searching for the best way to capture this list of things to do or remember.

I often go back to paper, but that’s not always the best way: It means your stuff is only in one place and losing the notebook or post-it means you’ve lost the list. Bad news.

So I’ve been trying multi-platform electronic capture systems.

At work, I’ve been using Evernote for awhile now. I use it on and off – it isn’t a perfect to-do list, but it is extremely flexible and has other uses.

I signed up for Orchestra, Asana and Strides recently – but I think that they will be better for project task capture – where multiple people are working on one larger goal. I haven’t played with Asana yet, but the quick play I had with Orchestra and Strides showed that Strides has the potential to be the better system.

I also use Epic Win – but until it goes multi-platform (I WANTS IT IN A BROWSER) and allows me to organise my tasks into lists, it isn’t going to be the best use for me. I refuse to let it go for my personal to-dos though, it is simply too fun to “level up” for getting chores and such done.

Today I decided I would try Wunderlist after hearing so many good things about it. Available across all platforms, free, beautifully designed and easy to use.

How I feel so far?

What a fucking ball-ache to get it working on my fucking iPhone.

They need to get this sorted.

I signed up using “Register with Facebook”. Now, I rarely do that, Zuckerberg already knows too much about me. But I’m starting to hate all these different logins so I thought “what the hell”. Two clicks later (had to authorise it, innit?) and I was in.

Had a play, loved the interface. Created a “get WL app” task and got right on doing that so I could check that off as done.

Not so fast, cowboy.

The app needed my username and password. Um, whut? I logged in with Facebook, you douche. I don’t know what the sweaty fuck my username and password is for Wunderlist.

So back to the website. Looked like my username was potentially my email address. So I tried that. But what about the password?

I had no idea, so I tapped “Forgot password” on my phone. The app immediately went into a never-ending “thinking about that” cycle. raR.

So I went on the interweb and googled “WTF, Wunderlist?” (or, more probably, something about the issue I was having). Turns out that if you retardedly register for the site with Facebook, you have to reset your password to get a password.

Sigh.

So I go to the website and do that. Which was simple, to be fair. The interface is rather intuitive. Got my new password via email, back to the site, changed it to something I could remember.

Back to the phone. Put in my email address and newly minted password.

Back into the abyss of a never-ending thinking cycle. Fuck you, app.

Turns out that there was a cross-over of “I forgot my passwords” (one from the phone, which I didn’t think worked because I had to kill the app to make it stop fucking around) and another from the website.

I finally got the password to work by repeating the steps above and then trying the app again.

Now that I’m in, it looks cool and we’ll see if I actually use it or not. But what a fucking ball-ache to use if you try logging in with Facebook.

The lesson in all this is: Facebook is evil.

I’ll let you know if I actually use the fucking site now that I’ve gone through 30 anger-filled minutes trying to get it to play nicely with my phone. Now to check off “Write blog post of how fucktarded FB registration on WL is” from my list.

UPDATE: And now the app is unavailable. THIS ISN’T HOW YOU WIN MY LOVE, WUNDERLIST.

My growing agoraphobia and other stories

I’ve never been all that fond of groups of humans. I love individuals. That’s why although herds of people give me the willies, I’m happy to observe them. Just as long as I’m not thrown in the throng of the quivering masses, all is well. But as soon as I have to subject myself to being surrounded by them… not so good.

Which is why there was so much donkey-ball-sucking about this weekend.

First, Friday. 

Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day. Where the British celebrate thwarting the Gunpowder Treason by blowing shit up. How appropriate.

Tyran had the grand idea that we go watch the best display of fireworks from what was supposed to be the best vantage point in the city – Battersea Park. Idiotically, I agreed, never thinking that a bajillion other people in the city were planning the same thing.

The first part of the trip being balls was partially my fault. I assumed we were meeting at Clapham Junction. So I hop a busy train at London Bridge and cruise to Waterloo East. Bust through to Waterloo and… what a clusterfuck. So many trains are delayed, the station’s packed, and everyone is looking at the departure boards instead of where they are walking.

Fortunately there was one (already severely delayed) train going to Clapham Junction waiting at a platform. I haul ass to get myself on it as there was no way of knowing when it would depart. Well, it sat there for another 10 minutes while more and more people shoved their way on.  Finally, when the train was busting at the seams, it left.

As soon as it started moving, a light bulb went off: There are a handful of stations that begin with “Clapham”. Was I sure, positively and 100% SURE, that I needed to go to Clapham Junction?

Turns out I’m retarded. We were meeting at Clapham Common, which isn’t the same thing as Clapham Junction at all. So I get off the sweaty, packed train at Vauxhall, and take the Victoria Line to Stockwell where I could catch the Northern Line going south just two sweaty stops to Clapham Common. Not as easy as getting on that same damned line directly at London Bridge, but doable.

Until I tried to get on the Northern Line.

The platform was so packed that people were backed up all the to the escalators. Instead of joining the queue I left the station and caught me a bus. So far, so good –  the right bus came right away and I even got a seat. It was fabulous and I was feeling pretty smug about my decision.  Until the bus started rolling.

Turns out I’m retarded. There was so much traffic – vehicles and people – that the bus crawled. Crrraaaaawwwwllled. It was painful. And because I wasn’t familiar with the burough I was in, I was reluctant to get out of the bus and walk. So I stuck with it.

To cut a long, whiny story short: By the time I got off the bus at Clapham Common I was beginning to daydream about an apocalyptic future where I was the only survivor. People were swarming about and getting in my way. There was no mobile signal as every twat in London was on their phone in a two square mile radius, so I couldn’t even contact my people to try and find them.

And while I was standing at the station, the fireworks started. I could see the odd little spark above the tree line, and that was about it. So with an audible “fuck this shit” I turned from the station and, upstream from the human turds all floating down towards the river to watch the fireworks, I headed as far from the crowds as I could get, angry and miserable.

But all is well that ends well, and Friday ended well. It ended in a quiet pub with lovely ales on tap and a great dinner with two of my friends. I swore I would never toss myself into a crowd like that again. Sadly, that was an oath I couldn’t keep.

On Saturday…

I went with Tyran to Camden. The busiest tube line and station (or at least, it felt that way) to walk along the busiest street and into the busiest market. And it is full of tourists, which is even worse. But despite the crowds, we had a lot of fun (and I got a lampshade with pirates! WIN.)

Because I apparently can’t get enough of people (yarg) or the TFL (fuuuuu….) we headed back home for a brief reprise and then back out to go to a house party. This meant hauling ass across the entire city from southwest to northeast. Most of it was okay… except the bus. I never, ever want to ride a bus in northeast bloody London again. I swear I overheard the bus driver call another bus driver a “cunt”. Loudly. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out that he was armed. Never again.

The party was fun though and got to have some nice chats. We may have missed our bus stop on the way home but the trip – relatively sans people – was quiet and nice even though we got home late.

I thought I would be safe on Sunday. 

Sure, I had a gig to go to… but gig-goers are more my kind of people. I mean: I am a gig-goer myself, and I’m (mostly) okay. So why wouldn’t they be?  Fuck me.

The bus was another shit-show in a weekend of TFL shit-shows. We sat perfectly still in traffic for a good 30 minutes. Fucking awesome, TFL. Do that. Do exactly that. Despite the best efforts of the traffic of Hammersmith trying to fuck us over, we made it to the gig nearly on time – we just missed part of the opening act.

The crowd was the worst I’ve had in a long, long time. So bad. In front of us were two guys: one with eye-wateringly foul body order and the other one with some lower-intestinal gastric issue. Look asshole; just because I can’t hear your farts doesn’t mean I can’t smell them. Idiot.

To my left was the douchiest douche that ever douched. Seriously. While waiting for Rodrigo y Gabriela to take the stage, he was busy sexting. It wasn’t the sexting that put me off so fucking badly. It was that he was sexting three girls simultaneously. Way to go, Romeo. But he wasn’t so bad. Douchey, but at least he wasn’t stinky like Team Offensive Odour in front of us. No, no. What was AWESOME was when a very loud, very obnoxious and very, very drunk girl tried to pick him up. She stood beside him and very loudly expressed her views about how much the music sucked. I feel punchy a lot (anger issues, eh?) but that was the closest I’ve come to actually punching someone in the face at a gig.

Behind me was a mouth breather. Who was breathing on my neck. Sick.

To my right (thank goodness!) was Eva. Who is normal. And smells nice. And is considerate enough to not scream about how shite the music is throughout the concert. And is actually quite lovely, as she is the one who took me to the concert.

Sadly, to HER right were more idiots. A hobbit, an ugly woman in cat-eye frames and their two unbelievably annoying friends pushed in beside Eva and then proceeded to push everyone else into us who tried to push their way past them. Bad karma, dudes.

Good thing the music was fucking awesome.

So that was my weekend of transport woes and hatred of my fellow mankind. By the end, I just wanted to punch everyone in the cock. And I thought commuting all week was bad….

>Rage and Hope

>Today I decided I wanted to go for a float and a massage, to work out some of the week and especially to work out the knots of the night before. I managed to book an appointment and left work a wee bit early to head over to Floatworks. The float was amazing – I actually slept in the tank of water and really relaxed. The massage was painful, but good painful. I feel like he really worked out some of the stress and tension that I was carrying around. Which I needed.

So I’m walking blissfully out of Floatworks towards London Bridge station, enjoying how relaxed I’m feeling and thinking about looking for my passport so I can get some cash out tomorrow (my bank card went AWOL and needs replacing). Not much else, really.  And then I heard a noise that was a little out of the ordinary, but not hugely. Like someone had hit the brakes, hard.

That is what that noise was. Someone had hit the brakes. Hard.

I’ve seen people get hit by cars before. This didn’t sound like that; when I turned to look – it didn’t look like that.

There was a cab – a licenced blackcab. Stopped. And, to be honest, what looked like a large garbage bag now resting mostly under the front bumper. The cab was not moving.  The bag wasn’t moving. People had turned to look, probably because of the sound of the brakes, but no one was moving towards the cab. It was like everything was perfectly frozen.

And then the dark shape under the front bumper of the cab moved.

As I said – it didn’t sound or look like a person had been hit initially when I turned to look. It sounded more like a near-miss. But obviously someone had. The cab was still not moving. No one (not the driver, not the passengers) was getting out of the vehicle. But the people on the pavement (and from the bus that was now stopped behind the cab) were finally starting to move.

I’m going to confess something at this point that I’m not entirely proud of. At that moment, even though at this point I knew that someone was down on the ground, possibly very hurt, and that I had witnessed (at least in part) what had happened; part of me just wanted to keep walking. To keep walking so that I could get home. To walk away and pretend I had saw nothing so that the rest of my evening would not be ruined. So I could get home early. So I could stay relaxed, go home and get the sleep I so desperately need right now.  And I’m not proud of that. I even rationalised walking away in such a way that it wasn’t until later when I could reflect that I even realised how much I had been rationalising. As I stood there, I was thinking: “There are lots of other people here, and they aren’t making emergency type movements… I’m sure it isn’t as bad as it looks.”   That was the kind of thinking I was doing without even realising what I was thinking. Self-preservation at it’s finest hour: “Get me out of here, and here are a few good reasons why I can go.” Thanks, brain.

But then I saw the most horrific thing. And stayed.

The cab driver (and his passengers) still hadn’t left the cab. But then, and I still can’t believe I saw this, that son of a bitch reversed the cab, drove around the body, and continued to the station doors.

He reversed, drove around the body, and kept going.

That’s when I decided to involve myself. Because that is not right. That’s just not right. Someone was hurt – whether badly or not was yet to be decided. But that driver had done wrong, and wasn’t owning up to it. He wasn’t taking responsibility. He wasn’t going to do anything about it. It was making my insides churn. It still is. What a horrible, horrible man.

I followed the cab, and took a couple of pictures of the licence plates. I wasn’t the only one. This may be the only time I’m honestly grateful for smartphones, for cameraphones. It allows people to record what is happening to ensure human beings don’t get away with being dreadful to other human beings.

Another girl was doing the same as I was. She also tried to get pictures of the driver, which wasn’t making him happy at all. And I stood with her when she was explaining why she was doing it – mainly that we had seen him drag a body under his car, then reverse and drive around it – and that piece of shit denied that anything had happened.

He had reversed, drove around the body, and was now denying that anything had happened.

Here’s the rub: the poor soul that was now lying bleeding and broken in the street had been clearly living hard and recently drinking heavily. People who had actually seen what had happened said that the guy had either passed out in the road, tripped and fell, or lay down in front of that car.

So the driver probably saw him very, very late – explaining the hard braking. And it is entirely possible that the man lay down in front of the car, wanting to be hit. Wanting a warm place to sleep – be it eternally or just for the night in the A&E. It is possible. And I think had the cabbie reacted differently, the sympathies of the witnesses would not have been just with the victim, but for the driver as well. He did brake. He tried to stop and it is possible that he just couldn’t in time. Which would be horrifying – imagine if that was you driving and couldn’t stop in time. You’d have nightmares forever about that.

But you can’t sympathise with someone who is cold enough to reverse and drive around the person they just hit. There is no excuse for that. I’m still shaking my head about it. I cannot believe that driver. Or his fucking passengers. Had I been in that cab, I would have been out of the car to see what had happened in a heartbeat. Those people got their luggage out and caught their fucking train. Everyone in that cab just puts me into a blind rage about mankind.

But I do also have hope. I have hope in the half dozen people who acted. Who took pictures. Who confronted the cab driver. Who comforted the man in the street. Who called emergency services and grabbed the police. Who willingly stuck around and gave their names and their statements to the police.

And I have hope again in myself. Because although I hesitated initially, I was one of those people in the end.

>Rebunking the debunked myth of multitasking

>There’s been a trend lately where some people bloggers are saying that we are actually incapable of multitasking (at worst) or just absolute crap at multitasking (at best). They say the way to Doing Stuff nirvana is to focus on one task and only that one task.

Well, DUH. Of course you are going to be more effective and efficient if you focus on just one thing, instead of letting your attention scatter across 100 different tasks. That’s just common sense, yo.

Most of these blog posts speak of how to minimise distractions so that you are more effectively “unitasking” (Yarg! What a horrifying word!) What they don’t ever seem to touch upon is why we are freaking distracted in the first freaking place.

Frankly, I multitask because I’m bored, not because I think it is not cool to concentrate on one thing at a time. BORED.

There are times when multitasking makes infinitely more sense than (bleh) unitasking.

::SIDE NOTE::

I’m going to mental vomit a little every time I use that word, ‘mkay? 

::END SIDE NOTE::

At home, consider laundry. How useful would unitasking that shit be?  Would you just sit in front of the washing machine and wait for the load to finish?  Same with making dinner – you wouldn’t be able to start on making dessert until after the lasagne was finished baking. That’s not more efficient than multitasking, that’s retarded. There are just some things you do that cry out for you to multitask. No reason why I can’t read a book while doing laundry or drink a beer while my flatmate makes dinner.

No matter how much crapola I have on my to-do list, or how much the phone rings or how funny the Skype chat gets at work, if I am completely absorbed in a project/task/whatever I don’t even hear the siren call of gmail, Skype, lolcatz (whatever your poison might be) let alone answer the call. I become wholly absorbed in that one thing.

It is when the task at hand (like stamping invoices as paid) only takes up a portion of my brain that my brain goes for a wander. Or if I am putting off doing something because it isn’t as fun (analysing phone bills) as something else I would rather be doing (watching The Simpsons).

The secret to focusing has nothing to do with minimising distractions, willpower or ensuring that you are (bleh) unitasking. The secret is to find shit that is awesome that you want to think about, be involved in and absolutely love doing. Anything less doesn’t deserve 100% of your attention; fuck unitasking tasks that don’t make the cut.