Friday, February 20, 2009

On and On…

I wish that I could give another great little tidbit here about all the exciting things we have been doing, but to be quite honest, we have done little since we returned from out Valentine's weekend in downtown Seoul.


I have a couple options here, first I could answer questions given on my New Challenge post but seeing that only one person (thanks so much Michele!) has asked any questions, I will postpone that at least a little while longer. 


Perhaps I could talk about some of the funny things happening in the class...or maybe our search for a puppy (or kitten as Charity has a hard time making up her mind). 

Well, as I can't decide and chronology is my default, lets see what happens with a little shift to topical.


My students, and this seems somewhat typical of Korea, have a great ability to memorize and store amazing amounts of facts, formulas and passages.  However, they have a very hard time with analytics, general logic and powers of observation.  Now while most of math is based almost entirely on cumulative memorization, geometry breaks that mold a bit.  My students have a hard time applying what they know to what they see.


For instance, they can tell me how to measure a triangle’s area but they have a hard time seeing the relationship between the measurement of a rectangle and a triangle.  Ok, for those of you that haven’t taken geometry in a while, go find a 9th grader and have them explain it to you. 


The long and short of it is that I have been learning some new techniques for making them THINK!  First, those that read ahead haven’t been overly surprised at my new “pop” quiz (I say pop as I have been warning them to be ready for quite some time now. 


Also, I have been using word games such as the one that goes “When I drove the bus, at the first stop 9 people go on 2 people got off…” and at the end when they have been trying to keep up with the passengers on the bus, you ask something like “What color are the bus drivers eyes"?”.  I think the record for the most repetitions was something like 6 before they caught on.  Usually when they figure it out they get very loud and the groans can be heard on the floor below.  Not only are those types of stories very enjoyable, they also test their powers of observation. 


On another note, there is a Korean “old wives tale” that states, those that have been here can back me up on this one, “if you fall asleep with a fan on blowing in your face and all the windows are closed then you will die.”  I have been trying to find out the origin of this belief and to date am still lost.  While I found it very humorous, many intelligent Koreans still believe this saying to have some merit. 


I found out that my 9th graders believed it when I made reference to an American old wives tale.  When they asked me what that was, I told them it is something that is believed to be true but isn’t backed up with any real evidence like the Korean fan myth.  Stunned silence met my remarks and then “Oh, really?” and “Are you sure?” (which are very common expressions from them) rang out.  Whoops!  I think I burst a cultural bubble there…


And that is about all can think to say.  I will hopefully have some more interesting things to say after this weekend.  I think Charity, Lisa, Mylinda and I are going to go to Itaewon for some electronics shopping and probably go and look at some kittens for Mylinda…they taste just like tender chicken.


Just Kidding!!!


More later…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Few Updates...

Just to let everyone know (and that cares) I added some new features to the blog which change almost nothing...

First, there is now direct contact between the blog and my Facebook, MS Live, Google Talk and Skype accounts. They are on the left-hand side and allow you to contact us in a plethora of means and modes.

Second, I have also added some tracking code to the site. Before you wonder too heavily about the dangers of your privacy being invaded, relax. It is mostly statistical information about how many times a day my blog is viewed and how many unique people are coming to the site. I am a nerd and cursed with a huge amount of curiosity which is why I added the code. I cannot get any personal information from this but I thought all should know.

Third there is a counter at the bottom of the page to see hits on the page along with some adds (thanks to the search bar and counter) that you can basically ignore.

Fourth, if you are simply too lazy to enter w w w . c h a r i t y a n d d a n i e l 2 0 0 8 . b l o g s p o t . c o m OR add this blog to a bookmark in your browser, then you can also use a RSS feed program or other similar reader by clicking on the links below the "Labels" section that look like this:Also, you can simply add this like for Posts:

and this one for Comments:

As always, I would prefer that you come visit my site as I like to change it up from time to time, but everyone is busy so I understand...

I hope to update you on things from here shortly but who knows when we will have the time. Simply know that I have been thinking of all those there in the States and miss many of you all more than you can know.

Love to all,

More to come...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day

To all men everywhere that attempt to conjure up the romantic on good old St. V day, you should try and do it in another country! With two weeks to spare I had a plan but had no way of implementing said plan. I wanted an extravagant location for this sweetly special holiday. So, with the help of Miss Yun and Mrs. Kim in the school office, I obtained a reservation for a room at Seoul Plaza Hotel. It was beautiful! More than I was expecting by far. With our room we had free club floor pass that allowed us an awesome view of the plaza as well as snacks/coffee/soft drinks and an amazing morning breakfast.

Now for the far less romantic parts...

Shortly after dropping our stuff at the hotel, we turned around, jumped on the subway and headed to the Dongdaemun Stadium stop. I have been told that the shopping center in Dongdaemun is something to behold, but I was totally unprepared for what we found.

First though, we had to fare on the local cuisine. Everywhere I looked, I saw people eating these...well it looked like a ball of french-fries stuck together on a stick. Upon closer inspection we found out it was a corn-dog with french-fries stuck to the outside. They hose it with ketchup before handing it to you and voila! Something that tastes like a complete country fair meal on a stick!

Now, back to Dongdaemun... The area itself is huge! Expansive in nature and yet it seems that merchants were scraping the bottom of the bucket for their special spot. Everywhere there were clothes, home furnishings, nick-knacks, odds and ends, the kitchen sink and other small appliances to go with it. Now it would be one thing if it were all contained in one area but we literally walked for 3-4 hours and saw store after store after store. You can see the stats on the wiki page, but I am trying to think of a way to relate it to those in America... I could talk about football fields, but I fear I would need too many of them. I could possibly describe it in blocks, but that seems a little ambiguous. So let me see if I can describe it universally. If you have 20/20 vision, then on a clear day you should be able to see things almost a mile away with some distinction and ability. I could neither see the end of the main road, nor do I think that we went to even a quarter of the possible shops. And if I were to guess at the total weight of the all the wares, I would have to say that even a dozen triple locomotive trains with a couple hundred cars could not contain it all!

All that being said, I think that Charity and I were a little overwhelmed at the sheer amount of things available. We spent most of the time simply walking from store to store and passively taking in all that we saw. The most amazing part though, these shops stay open as late as 2 and 3am. I have a feeling we will be back for some more expeditions in the future....

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Chungmuro, where many of the pet stores are, and looked at some of the shops for a little puppy. They were all extremely cute...until you hit the price. Cheapest dog we found was ₩250,000.00 (about $220.00 USD) and the ones we liked were about ₩600,000.00. Needless to say that neither of us are that liberal when it comes to a pet!

That night we enjoyed our wonderful hotel and relaxed to some French/Spanish/Italian/Chinese/Japanese/Korean/English TV (pretty good with only 30 do the math).

The next morning we let time slip away a little and checked out of the hotel around noon. Right across the street from the hotel is the grounds of Deoksugung Palace. A very interesting place. The grounds had several buildings that displayed the detail and fine craftsmanship of the Korean people. You can check out the pictures here. It is especially cool to note the detail taken on every single beam, rafter, joint and window of the buildings. The colors used throughout were fantastic! Also, they have a water clock and a Singijeon Launcher Carriage. Also, I did not know that they had a sun dial that is intricate in its design and precise in its use.

The last thing we did was take in the National Museum of Art. It was very interesting to see how different the art was from what I was so used to. The paintings were very impressionistic and tended to focus on the mood created by the blurred lines. However, there is a stark contrast to the shadowless paintings that seemed to be 1950's magazine drawings. Detail and precision are brought to the forefront. While the eras of paintings carried through in theme and general makeup from beginning to end, there were points that you could tell Western culture has influenced the Korean people. Highly interesting and well worth the ₩1,000.00 admission fee.

On the way home we caught "a show." Evidently they have subway performances and this young man played "You Raise Me Up" on the saxophone. Beautiful. But hey, don't take my word, see for yourself:

In my opinion, a great weekend...

Maybe the romantic can try again next year...

More later...