Big steps, usually in the wrong direction

Seen recently on the subway stairs in Seoul are arrows to and from the subway train. The poster states “for safe and convenient travel, use the right side.” The poster is so far estranged from reality it’s pathetic. On closer examination, I see a Victorian gent, a businessman, a musketeer, even Albert Einstein on his way to the patent office. But no stereo-typical Asian characters. Maybe Koreans are afraid of seeing themselves on a poster.

Everyone moving in sync would be great, but given the culture it might be considered a sign of a fascist state or like in the novel, The Wave, which I read in High school. If the Koreans think it as that way (as being bad), then they’ll definitely reject it. Korea was more or less, under military rule for over twenty years since the end of the Korean war, getting democracy around 1980.

I’m not convinced that people read or care to take heed of the advice, for lots of reasons. But usually it’s the culture first (meaning me first and fuck the rest) mindset. It is supposed to be the same side as the road as when they drive. summarily almost anything that the Government says is ignored as being benign, or if it intrudes into their lifestyle too much, they protest with almost no sway in the opinion of the government.

I suppose that this sort of thing will make dashing for the train easier, providing that you have well-ordered lines that is. Whenever I see people running for the train, I make a note of steering clear. Smiling as I do. I’ve done it before too.

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Vote for me, how bizarre!

Electioneering in Korea is a rather odd combination of raising their respective profile while having absolutely no substance at all. Electees have party faithfull members to stand around on corners to bow at cars. Think of them as groupies from a rock band. The only fault with this analogy is that these groupies are middle aged women with nothing to do but to stand around and …bow at cars. And a message for the pundits? None at all, even foreigners are allowed to vote. Just this once, I’m glad I don’t understand Korean.

It’s grass, therefore I mow. It’s plastic, therefore I suck

This school has an artificial grass playing field, it doesn’t need mowing but it does need vaccuuming occassionally.

I had loads of freetime one day and it was sunny, so I decided to walk around on it. I touched the soccer goal box, which was metal, I received a wicked static shock. Who would have thought that walking on artifical grass was tant amount to rubbing two woollen sweaters together.

Clean hands, inconsequential to H1N1

Koreans, I’ve seen never, ever cover their nose or mouth when they sneeze. Until recently that is. All that hoop-la about cleaning your hands isn’t doing nuts for the Swine flu situation. Only just this week, I’ve had my timetable disrupted, with one extra class and a speech contest cancelled. Real consequences; students have probably had the week off.

I caught a cold due to other things. My hands are sparkling clean. The only downside to all this is that my temperature hasn’t hit the critical threshold of 37.6 degrees Celsius. No sick day off, only rivers of snot flowing out from within. Where’s my day off?

CLT preferred method for thinking inside the box

Korea education is, of course different to that found in Western countries, but, not that undifferent to that of China or Japan. You could say it’s an Asian thing. Whereas in NZ you are constantly challenged to think outside of the common solution. In Korea it very much is a good dose of verbatim regurgitation. It’s no wonder that degrees gained from Korean univeristies are not held in any regard at all.

But that’s not the point of this entry. The picture above is part of a screen shot from an interactive from a CD-ROM for Elementary schoolers, of about 11-12 years of age. This is them learning a language (English) by the verbatim regurgitation method, or more precisely, the Communicative language method.

Thinking creatively, how many different pieces of dialogue can you write for the picture above?

The day I went to High school, World War 3 kicked off

This was a major flyby, with the initial jets flying over in a nice Vic formation followed the last four aircraft in a compressed 4-finger formation. Just one thing to note, this was more like logistical movement from A to B as the aircraft were flying within sight of each other. If it were combat, they would be spread over a matter of kilometres, covering as much airspace as possible.

Being an avid plane watcher this was better than Christmas, you couldn’t buy what I’ve seen. Piecing it all together, the aircraft were a powder grey colour, in a clean aircraft configuration. Still, F-15s can fly pretty far without drop tanks. I stood there leaning out the window for at least 10 minutes. My high schoolers, who were waiting for the class to start, managed to leave the room despite of me being just outside the door. I was that enamoured with what was flying overhead.

I can only guess that the -15s were American, or heaven forbid, Japanese. It would be worse for the Koreans than North Korea invading. The Korean air force does own F-15’s but not that many of them. I’d say only two squadrons, but of the fighter-bomber type. That would make them a dark grey instead of a light, powder grey.

Other aircraft were flying (fluttering) around too. A twin rotor helicopter noisily flew by, while two helicopters hovered in the far distance. Yesterday, Blackhawk helicopters fluttered by while my teachers and I played volleyball outside. So many aircraft, you would think world war three had kicked off, or, maybe the Korean War had re-started, or even they’ve got war games on, which I think is the most likely choice.

Not the right setting, but it is an idea of what went on (above).

Dead dogs, praying mantis and the mirage in the sky

I thought the doggie was just having a kip, when my walking partner pointed out the flies buzzing around it’s head. Apparently fido had chewed his last bone and had gone to the big kennel in the sky. The destination of our walk was to be the quarry we saw on the side of the hill. This quarry could be seen from almost anywhere in Eumseong, but for us, it was unattainable. A mere mirage between the horizon and the sky.

Still who wants to climb a quarry when you could potentially walk through someones pumpkin patch, eat oranges and walk up and down hills through acres and acres of fruit orchards?

At one point we observed two dueling praying mantis, locked in a Mexican stand-off. They were spotted in time before one of us stood on one or both of them, leading to a squishy, crunching end to the duel. Normally, the loser in these sort of battles got their head bitten off. Life and dead in the void, my name for Eumseong.