Friday, April 24, 2009

All Tied Up in Knots…

To start my next post, I should say I had very little to do with the preparation for the wonderfully performed SCS Spring Concert.  That duty and privilege went to two other teachers who worked (and continue to work) excessively hard to bring out the talents of those students. 


However, I did have the honor of preparing and coordinating very small parts of the program.  It is humorous in that I have a communications degree which would lead some to believe that I prefer the spotlight.  I however have little to no desire to be in the public eye.  I think it is because of my training that I prefer not to be in the public eye.  For me, working in the background is where I prefer.  No piety involved, it is really just my propensity towards the hermitical.


Two days before the Spring Concert, one of the lady teachers here asked me to take the boys in choir and band to demonstrate how to tie a…tie.  SCS purchased regular ties for these young men to wear at the Concert and I assumed, errantly, these young men knew how to tie a simple tie knot.  I also assumed, erroneously, that all I was showing them was how to tie a Full-Windsor knot, which is, of course, the sharpest way to tie your tie.


Was I surprised!  Only about three out of thirty knew how to tie a tie and only one of them knew the Full-Windsor.  The teaching lesson that ensued was as telling as it was comical.


Before I can get to this, I must explain my qualifications for my being able to teach this daily task to these young men. 


I learned how to tie the Full-Windsor from my father sometime between the ages of 8 and 10.  He must have been a good teacher because I have used it on and off for the last 15+ years.  Subsequently, I learned several other knots but have always returned to the Full-Windsor as it is the nicest and cleanest knot.  After years at church, formal events, performances, being a student at Bob Jones and later roles as employee has necessitated my tying the Full-Windsor upwards of 5,000 times.  In fact I have done it so often that I have created a permanent neuromuscular facilitation (muscle memory, consider your vocabulary expanded!) which allows me to create the knot with no thought at all.  I let my fingers fly through the knot as my mind ponders the coming day.  This statement will come into play a little later.


Flashback to the teaching session.  There I stood on a makeshift podium with collar up and tie draped over neck.  Across from me stood about 30 mirrors of me, sans podiums, waiting expectantly for the first cross of material.  For the next HOUR my hands and voice labored in vigorous attempt after attempt to teach the basic concepts, techniques and movements needed to attain a suitable Full-Windsor knot.


However, after about the fifth time, halfway through the sixth knot, I could not remember the next step.  My brain as well as my hands went into lockdown and I stood there dumbly.  Worse, I tried from the beginning—letting my hands do all the work—and I still couldn’t remember how to do it!  So there I stood floundering in something I have done automatically an average of five times a week for the last 15 years!  While eventually I did recover, I still felt silly trying to remember something so habitual.


I would like to say congratulations to the many young men and women that participated in the program as it was very well done and encouraging to me.


Also, to preview what might be coming in future posts:


Some of our favorite foods in “I Just Ate What?!?!?!?”

The progress of our current Korean lessons in “I Never Meant to Imply…”

A recent poll among students about our fairness in “Teeeeacherrrrr, You So Meeeeeean!”

Or Charity and Daniel’s many trials training a puppy in “Those Were My Favorite Shoes…”



-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Also, I would like to say that my thoughts and prayers are being sent to the family and friends of David Anders.  I worked with Mr. Anders for several months and we both travelled to Toronto on the same business trip.  The shock of his sudden passing has brought back the sobering reality that we all have very little time on earth and even less time to waste.  Rest in peace

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --


More to come…

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Part 2 At Lotte World…

Ok, as promised, I will fill you in on the activities of last Friday (4/10/2009).  I know that I am over a week late, but I totally underestimated the business of the first week back to school.  If you go to the Map that I created here.  You can see not only the many paths of our travels in and around Seoul, but I also updates as we go on our little excursions.  Take a look around and especially take a look at the satellite view of Lotte World, it is pretty cool.


If you would like to see a few pictures of Lotte World, then check those out here


So first impressions?  It was like walking into Disney World—without the super-long waits for rides and super-long walks from one ride to the other—right down to the cartoon characters and teenagers running a majority of the rides. 


It was a blast!  They officially have one of my top 5 favorite rides.  It is this giant swing with a rotating disk on the “seat” of the swing.  Here it is at the apex of the parabolic movement. 


Also, the vast majority of rides and places to get something to eat or drink are actually inside! 

The dome in the video is actually the indoor section of the amusement park.  It is quite the sight to see! 


I thought I might be uncomfortable in some of the rides due to my size, but found most of them to be quite nicely sized.  Lotte World is not a Six Flags, Worlds of Fun or Cedar Point, but its rides are slightly better then those I remember at Disney.


As for the other entertainment, I dropped about 8,000 won at the midway games to win about 3,000 won worth of prizes.  It was a bit of fun to shoot a gun that looked remarkably close to a an AK-47.  I am not in the West anymore! 


Also, there was show on the main stage of the interior part of the park.  I really couldn’t understand what was being sung and said, but Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Snow White, some bears, a few Dutch people and a couple of guys in shiny shorts and glossy pants were all singing and prancing around on stage.  I love Korea…  Koreans love English words and they did say and sing a little in English.  What little English came through seemed they were singing about believing in yourself, having confidence and being positive as those things will give you a wonderful life…or something.  Very strange and a little comical.


Otherwise, it was a very fun day. 


Ok, I can’t leave this post without stating a few contrasts…  To understand the first contrast, you would almost have to see the men here.  While there are many women here who take great time to make sure that they are well put together.  You can see these ladies, young and old alike, pull out their mirrors every couple of hours to make sure their face is still perfect, hair is all in place and that their clothes have not rumpled incorrectly.  The humorous part is that the men here are equally if not more concerned about their appearance.  After every ride, I would get off and slowly stroll to the exit as I became spectator to this odd phenomenon of everyone else taking 5 minutes to check how they look in the back of iPods, cell phone screens (called hand-phones here) or nearby windows.  As one, they participated in this little ritual before continuing their day.  All this really brings me to another point. 


I would call them “pretty boys” back in the States and would probably look upon them as less than a “true man.”  However, they are considered very attractive here.  Too my Western mind though, I find it difficult to not look at them like vain peacocks.


Second, Korean couples love to dress alike.  Here they have “couples outfits.”  Couple outfits usually have a saying on one shirt that is finished on the other, cartoon characters that are the same or picture that complete when they stand next to each other.  While this is somewhat silly on its own, it does speak to the simplicity of their love.  They appear to simply enjoy the other person completely.  This is only an external, public observation so I am hesitant even to say that.  However, they do seem to have a wonderful time in each other’s presence. 


Well, I should probably wrap this up.  I will say that I am about a week or so behind and will be making a valiant attempt to get caught back up in the coming weeks.  The one nice thing about being behind is what I will call the preview factor.


So what can you expect in the next couple of blog posts?  At school we had the Spring Concert and I have a few thoughts I would love to share on that.  Also, I Charity and I are looking at beginning our studies in educational Masters degrees and there are some interesting thoughts I have on education in general.


But as you can probably guess,


More to come…