the triple threat

it’s been a rough week. and i’ve paid little attention to it.
last weekend the former president of south korea committed suicide by jumping off a cliff near his home. from what i’m hearing, he had been under investigation for accepting money from some businesses during his presidency. a lot of his platform and apparent morality was against that kind of action. the current president- who is openly tied to businesses and corporations, and has accepted lots of money- is the one who is pushing for the investigation. i guess the whole thing is a smear campaign. . . but it seems a little bizarre, so i’m probably missing something in the translation.

the former president seemed to be very popular (unlike the current president) and many koreans have been in mourning this week. his funeral was yesterday and seoul was overrun with people attending. some of my coworkers have come in to work with puffed eyes after catching some of the news.

there was a nuclear test in north korea. . . or two i guess. it’s got a lot of countries bristled. my grandpa is perked up and wondering why his grand daughter isn’t flying home. around me the koreans wonder why all the foreigners are so interested in what their crazy northern cousins are up to. seriously. . . people here seem to pay little attention to the north koreans.

i guess the mindset is- for the north koreans to do anything serious is so incredibly asinine (being that the retaliation would wipe them off the planet)- that we should pay their muscle flexing no mind.

so, i’ve adopted that attitude for now.

then there’s good ol’ novel influenza A (H1N1). . . swine flu. there is a number of new foreign teachers who have been put into quarantine for a week to see if they will develop signs of the flu. someone is blogging from inside with a rather entertaining point of view.

one of our teachers just flew back to the US for his sister’s wedding. it has our kindy parents in an uproar. they want to know where he is going, and how close he will be to any reported cases. i had only heard of the case in texas, so i was asked how close he would be to texas. the wedding is in vegas. -hmmm, well, you can fly there, drive there. . . but i don’t think you can spit that far.

he’ll be in a tourist popular area, having flown around the world. is it possible that he will come in contact with someone who has been in contact with someone who has the flu? sure. anything is possible. however, it’s more likely that the next sickness to hit our school will be brought in by one of our lovely drooling, nose-picking, coughing germ infested students.

i don’t think our answers are what the parents want to hear.

we’re beginning to wonder if he’ll be pushed into quarantine because of the parents.

so yeah, that all happened.

our semester is ending. i will have new elementary classes, new books, maybe some new students. that seems to be my bigger concern.

maybe i should bust outta my bubble a bit. . . pay a little more attention to . .

ooooh, another csi marathon is on. . . gotta go.

(kidding. . . kinda)


a little summing up?

it’ll be hard to put everything into place from the last few weeks, but i’ll try to hit the major points.

the hard news, the bad news. . . the sad news is that my friend’s father passed away. i got to meet him my first weekend in south korea. he had been ill for a while, but it seemed he was getting better. recently he had gone back into the hospital with a lot of pain, and didn’t leave.

i was on my way into namdaemun with some friends when swon called to tell me. i went over to see her and her family at the wake/ funeral that afternoon. it was a buddhist ceremony that lasted about four days straight. swon met me and explained the ceremony and one of her friends that i had seen perform in a couple of shows said it would be ok for me to walk in with him. there are rooms in the hospital for these ceremonies. the entrance room is where i left a gift for the family and signed a registry. in the next room the family stood to greet all the visitors and we walked in to face a portrait of her father. we walked up and left a flower by his picture than stepped back for a small prayer and bow. after the prayer we gave a deep bow to the family and then retreated to a reception room where friends and family were eating and chatting.

i was a mess before i even got to the hospital, but i tried to hold a little composure during the short ceremony. swon’s mom broke form a little and came forward to hug and thank me. i recognized swon’s sister from portland, but didn’t get a chance to talk to her or the other sister whom i’ve never met.

swon stayed with me for a while in the reception room, but a lot of people were coming to pay their respects, so she had to be there to greet them. the reception is open twenty four hours a day, so some family members need to be there to receive visitors. before that swon, her sisters, and mother were all taking shifts staying with him in the hospital. everyone looked so tired and worn down. this type of ceremony seemed to be a lot easier on the visitors than the family.

i went out to see swon teach a class at a university last saturday (two weeks after the funeral). the topic of discussion was ‘midsummer night’s dream’ and they had to build quick mock-ups of the ass’s head which was a bit of fun. we had talked about what to do with the rest of our day . . . getting stuck in traffic for three hours afterward killed our chances of doing anything,

we went back to her mom’s place and swon had me retell some of my stories from my school. hearing me reenact how i yell at my students in korean seemed to make everyone laugh.

the next morning swon and i made some breakfast before they headed out. there is still some ceremonial bits that happen for several weeks after a death. they dropped me off at the subway on their way to the family temple on sunday.

her mom is planning to move back into seoul with swon and they’ll be looking for a new place in the next month. so there will be a lot of change in the near future for them.

hmm, after all that it makes everything else that has happened seem kinda small. . . .

-i made margaritas and had a day in with camille (a coworker) watching tv and not doing much

-later that week natalie (another coworker) came by to help me finish off the margaritas

-we had another birthday day at school

-we had another field trip at school - natural tie-dying. . . whoo hoo

-we had finals and report cards and evaluation cards (ie- i’ve been busy)

-i bought a small vanity/ desk thingy which gives me drawer space, and a place to sit at my computer (other than the floor)- the install was fun, camille was over skyping her friend who also wanted to see the process. two guys showed up with two large boxes. they opened everything, screwed together the mirror and desk, moved it into place, said hi to the girl from new zealand on my computer and left smiling.

-i bought a bike (i really only planned to window shop. . . then i made the mistake of taking one for a test ride. i forgot how much i liked the feel of riding.)

-i took the bike out for it’s first 15 miles this weekend. . . all over lake park- great area.

-after a month and a half break (what with being sick for so long and buried under work) i finally got back out for trivia night. . . and ended up on the winning team. so now i need to come up with more questions for next week.

-i also got the chance to teach the bartender how to make a hot toddy, which worked out great with the rainy weather we had that day.

-i finally got a piece of computer equipment to work (took three weeks to figure out) now my computer will play on my tv, so i can watch dvd’s on my tv. . . whoo hoo. movie night will be happening very soon! (now all i need is a couch for people to sit comfortably.)

-i went out with camille to catch ‘angels and demons’ at a local movie theatre. note to self: movies that have foreign languages other than english are still only subtitled into korean. . .

-on the way to the movies we discovered a board game cafe. . . will have to make use of this new information soon.

-we found a wii-bong and had an afternoon testing out the four lame games they had. the best set was the wii sports.

-i got an oven. . . and nearly burned my first batch of brownies.(i need to work on that whole metric conversion thing) so now, not only will i have movie nights. . . but they will be accompanied with dinner and baked goods! (ps, actually acquiring and oven and brownie mix is quite the feat. it took several hours of shopping around itaewon and yongsin in some awful heat and humidity earlier today. i’m exhausted. . . but satisfied.)

i’m sure i’m forgetting details and possibly bigger things. . . but like i said. . . i’m exhausted. i’ll have to post some more pics soon.



headphones, originally uploaded by ekissam.

admit it, they look a little ridiculous.. . . and so pink!

silly looking

my headphones broke. or an area close to the headphone jack broke. i am without a radio shack and my butane soldering iron. . . so instead of a fix, i opted to buy new headphones.

i got a simple pair that didn’t cost too much. they work fine and they are unobtrusive. i can hear the music, and i can toss them into my bag easily. . .

the problem is i like music. . . .

no. . . i love music.

right after buying the cheapy pair, i came to the conclusion that headphones are much like shoes. it’s worth it (for me) to sink a little more money into a nice pair.

that, and i was inspired a little by my dad’s new bose system, even though i haven’t heard it yet. with the amount of time i listen to music and podcasts. . . i should have a good pair that makes my music more worthwhile.

i did some quick research into a few different styles and brands, but i figured i’d make the decision in the store.

there’s a pretty swank sound system store close to the school i work at. they had some pretty expensive and slick looking headphones. i figured i’m still looking at the middle of the line, but pricey for me.

in ear, over the ear. . . buds? choices, choices. . .

i’ve done enough experimenting with some styles that i know some of the options to look out for. i didn’t get the technical sound blocking ones or anything like that. i did get a pair that are a little larger than i’m used to. they are ‘muff-like’ as opposed to hidden. . . . oh, and they are pink.

i would’ve chosen black if they came in black. . . but it was white or pink.

i once heard someone say that you can tell you are in love when you are willing to look like an idiot, publicly, for another person. i feel this is pretty accurate. . . and well, i love my music, so why not look a little silly.

besides, they sound amazing!



09.ansan.festival.1, originally uploaded by ekissam.

in downtown ansan there was a street arts festival at lake park this weekend. throughout the park there were sites set up for performances and artwork to show. i walked through a couple times and caught bits of performances. i first caught this stomp-like group dancing and jack-hammering on the top of a trailer.


09.ansan.festival.2, originally uploaded by ekissam.

sort of the center of activity, even though it seems rather barren here.


09.ansan.festival.3, originally uploaded by ekissam.

the arts festival coincided with children's day. (which was why we had the extra time off work.) bubble machines were prevalent throughout the park.


09.ansan.festival.4, originally uploaded by ekissam.

not exactly the festival food i am used to. there was 'meat on a stick', ice cream and some other familiar foods. . . but squid, snails, and silk worm? that's a new one for me.


09.ansan.festival.5, originally uploaded by ekissam.

this is pretty clever. the steps/ seats had mirrored edges, so from the right angle it appeared that people were levitating as they sat.


09.ansan.festival.6, originally uploaded by ekissam.

big puppets are so cool. . . and creepy.


09.ansan.festival.7, originally uploaded by ekissam.

couldn't tell you what this was about. people wrote messages on the balloons and pinned them to her dress. two other dancer/ players emerged after, and some slow, overly dramatic story took place, but we got bored and moved on.


09.ansan.festival.8, originally uploaded by ekissam.

damn, another chance to fly a kite, and i am sans kite.


09.ansan.festival.9, originally uploaded by ekissam.

gotta love a good rastafarian drum group.


09.ansan.festival.10, originally uploaded by ekissam.

this dude was too cool for school all pimped out in this styling suit. too bad the angle of my shot doesn't give you the full effect of his pompadour.


single.sushi, originally uploaded by ekissam.

ever been wandering through the supermarket and think, damn, i could go for some sushi, but not a whole lot of sushi. . . maybe just some individually wrapped sushi. . . .

we have you covered.


nacho?, originally uploaded by ekissam.

possibly the worst nachos EVER! i ordered nachos, since it was closing in on cinqo de mayo- and i was missing new mexico a bit. this is what came. some stale corn chips, the orange stuff is a cheez whiz substance only completely cold (not luke warm, but refrigerated cold), the middle (which we thought might be trying to look like sour cream) is tarter sauce, and the green (which we thought was trying to pass for guacamole or avocados) is chopped kiwi.

it makes one think that someone took a picture of 'nachos' and brought it back to south korea, without actually writing down what everything was. . . and this was the translation from the picture.


blues.bros, originally uploaded by ekissam.

there was a set of these in virginia that my friends and i liked to pose with late at night, but they weren't wearing yellow there. i spotted these while checking out the market in namdaemun.