Monday, May 26, 2008

Fore... sight (or Lack Thereof)

There were things I neglected to factor into the decision between pay-as-you-go and monthly plan cell phones.


Wine, Chocolate, Hello Kitty...

So, I've basically run out of practical things to buy at 7-11 (unless they sell ketchup - must remember to look), beyond lunch and drinks everyday. I have 13 magnets left, plus the special 6 Korean cities and I'm not sure what's up with them, but somehow they are special.

A bottle of red wine and a 50 cent fudgesicle will get me 4 though...

I can see my evenings are going to be rather luxuriant for the next little while.

As Orin said, this has the same thrill as gambling. You never know what might be in each little packet... Plus there is tons of negotiation and trades at work, and a race to the finish (Jenn is beating me by 2 right now).

It's the most fun I've had at work since playing "Hot Sausage, Pass It On," and the "prize" for that was having to eat the dubious Korean snack sausage which would have been incredibly unfun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gas Is Expensive

So now there are perks!

Obama! How did you get involved in this???

My Father Is Going To Have A Heart Attack When He Hears This

But I just saved soooo much money!

First, I'm going to have to explain the family buying background. My father does not spend money. He's not especially miserly, but for my father, a treat is a treat. You know when you read Little House on the Prarie books and the kids are all "oooooh, ahhhhhh" over an orange for Christmas? Well my descriptions about the irregularity of sugary cereals in the house and the complete absence of McDonald's from my childhood diet inspires in many of my contemporaries that same feeling of discontect that I get when trying to think of a single orange as a treat. My mother is one of those shoppers who something at full price. She must get a bargain. To my father's endless despair, this includes bargains on things she neither wanted nor needed in the first place. My mom would be the one having the heart attack if she ever knew the kind of money I spend on my bras - after all, I buy the kind that don't go on sale... As for my spending style - I probably spend far too much for someone who still has student loans and in general, if I need it, I buy it. I don't wait for sales, but I don't usually buy stuff I don't want/use. It happens, naturally, but not so often.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, Hello Kitty. So, there is this promotion going on at 7-11. For every 4,000 won I spent, I get a magnet. There are 45 in total and each represents a country. I am batshit over these things - the best part of my day is absolutely finding 4,000 worth of stuff to buy and then that moment when I rip open the package... to see my newest country or be heartbroken to have a double. I now have two frickin' Yemens.

In each package there is also a coupon. Some are for some bizarre things, like grape-flavoured milk (so wrong) and most are for things I don't normally buy, though there are some for coffee and water and you can't go wrong there. So, tonight, the dude rang up my purchases at 10,650 and after the coupons, it was 8,500! I saved a bunch AND got two more magnets!!! Granted, I have some dodgy looking new Oreos and beer (I'm not a beer drinker) and some apple pop, but ya know... I got a bargain.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Name Is Amanda And I Have A Hello Kitty Addiction

I'm not kidding. I get these magnets with every 4,000 won I spend at 7-11 and it's becoming the height of my day to see if I can get one I don't have yet. With about 30 left to collect, this could become an expensive addiction.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Well That's a Relief

While googling the police station in Bolton, I found this link:

Bolton (Ontario) is a place in the world on the Map of the World

Also fascinating is the thought of Bolton as a major urban center of any kind.


Still dunno how to go about getting my police check done.

Friday, May 16, 2008


funny pictures
moar funny pictures

If you've seen the video...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Name Brands

Starbucks Coffee Tasting Advice:

1. Smell First
2. Slurping Makes Sense
3. Locate The Experience On Your Tongue
4. Make Your Own Description

7-11 Hello Kitty magnets - Canada represent!

From the Childrens

He sees the girl and want to kiss her. And, the girl kiss. And mary but She didn't have the shirt, pants. So he bought her 90 socks. He She said you're crazy. But I can't go school store with this closes clothes. Ok I will bough buy you cract things. She said thank you You youwelcome. And he bought cract things. for that girl

-Jone, S2

The man and a dog. Soe people say "it's good!" But some people say "it's a crazy people!" Ji Song Park is taking a picture. But Some people say "we can't belive!" They can't belive, so they die when it is almost finish. They have meet, noodle, soup, rice fruit, and dessert.

-Max, S2

Recently I stayed countryside at Kap Choeng in Thailand and now I have been in the hospital for bronchitis 6 days already. I acted rashly, when I have caught a cold. now I learned "I'm not immortals superman.


Happy Teacher's Day!

My apartment smells like... I don't even know what, between the scented soaps, the flowers, the perfume-scented paper flowers, and the perfume.

Teacher's Day. I'm feeling the love.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I wasn't the nicest teacher today. Our prep was taken up by bullshit that came up at the last minute - more about that later, I'm sure - and four of us came into the day of tests late and with no prep time all day. With 4.5 hours of tests, all of which leave little wiggle room in terms of time for the kids or teachers, and only 5 minute breaks to try and get organized, I was not in the mood. And we have yet another meeting tomorrow. Gotta love it. I mean, why prep? Such a silly way for teachers to spend their time! And that overlying sense of, "Aren't you foreigners sketch?" made the entire experience that much more fun.

There was some hilarity, granted. And the day was brightened by a text from Jamar, sushi bibimbap for Karley's last night, and the fact that I finally found the time/energy to clean up the clutter and get some packages ready to mail.

Friday can't come soon enough though.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Should Really Go To Bed

What is your favorite song of all time?
Blueberry Pie from the Sesame Street album

City or the suburbs?
I'm sorry? There's life outside of cities? I hadn't realised ;)

What is your dream job?
Astronaut. But I think it might be a bit late for that.

Riding horses or riding dolphins?
I'd kinda like to see a horse ride a dolphin.

How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
She sells sea shells by the seashore.

What attracts you most?
Penguins. I find them fascinating...

Do you hold hands when you walk in public?
Absolutely. And I can't figure out why all those strangers give me weird looks when I grab their hands... ;)

Close your eyes for a moment, who pops into your head?
One of the smurfs. Dunno why.

Aliens have landed and selected you to visit their home planet. Do you go with them?
Are these the famous anal probe aliens?

If you have friends coming for supper what would you cook?
lasagna. here in korea though, you'd be lucky to find beer and pickles in my fridge.

What is your favourite word?
pernicious. I like the way it sounds.

What makes you laugh?
My students. Most of my friends. Often myself.

If you were an animal in the wild, what would you be?
What was that animal that all those forwards said had 30 minute orgasms?

If you won the lottery, how would you spend your millions?
Travelling the world. And buying a lot of stuff. And still making my parents keep it all in their closets.

Who was your hero as a child?
Wonderwoman and SheRa

If you had only six months to live, what would you do first?
Have a gigantic party with all the people I love. And even some of the ones I don't.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
With a few more wrinkles and hopefully another continent visited.

What are you most proud of in your life?
Recently, hearing that my kindie students are actually learning what I've been trying to teach them.

Do you own any pets, and if so what do you have?
I seem to have some ants.

Who do you admire most?
People who do what they want to do regardless of what others think they should do

How do you feel?
Generally with my hands, though really the entire surface area of the skin works well.

Would you rather be hot or cold?
Hot, for sure. I hate being cold. And I'm a Canadian. Sigh.

Most Memorable Past?
As far as I'm aware, I don't have more than one past. But who knows, maybe I was once an Egyptian princess or something.

Favorite element?
Do people actually have a favorite element? Who are these people?

What was your last thought?

Which is worse? A bad laugh or a bad cough?
A laugh that turns into a cough. Welcome to my life!

Define yourself in 3 words...
i am me

Where do you want to travel next?
Where don't I want to travel to next?

What would you do if Michael Jackson asked you out
If I had been asked this back in the Thriller days, I would have jumped his bones. Apparently these days I'd pop a cap in his ass.

Favorite body part?
Angelina Jolie's lips

Flip flops or sandles?
flip flops. now if only I could teach English on a beach...

What do you do on fridays?
Far too much damn work

How tall are you?
1/4 inch taller than my mother and much taller than my kindie students

Do you like bananas?
Best dipped in chocolate.

I just got in from an evening of galbi and guns...

Have you ever spent $2 on a plastic gun from a gumball machine that shoots tiny plastic bullets? Did you then assemble it and run around the neighbourhood taking goofy photos?

No? Well, you've never lived in Korea.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Perfect Long Weekend

We finally, after about 3 months of non-stop second place, won at trivia.

And I think I found that more exciting and satisfying than getting my degree.

Plus, I had French Toast at the Flying Pan. Yum.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reading Binge - Since I've Already Told What I Haven't Read, Here's What I Actually Have

I've been reading a lot lately in the evenings, which is possibly because I've run out of Lost episodes to watch back-to-back and haven't really gotten addicted to anything new. Some of it has been fairly light reading - I confess that my addiction to the Shopaholic series was indulged last night when I stayed up to 5 a.m. to finish "Sopaholic & Baby."

"Rise and Shine" by Anna Quindlen was a rather light read too, but more interesting. My favourite quote of the book was this:
I'd often thought before that the distance from Saturday night to Monday morning is greater than thirty-six hours would suggest. From dinner date to desk, from house party to 9:00 A.M. class, from drunken sex with a stranger to numb on the subway. It's as though one has nothing to do with the other, as though the woman in the slip dress dancing in Chelsea with her hair unfurled behind her like a signal flag is a different person from the woman in the black pantsuit and dark glasses standing on the corner two blocks over flagging down a cab...
The narrator amused me a lot and I liked her: "I was the maiden aunt, that staple of fiction and movies and real life, the one who is attentive and adoring and just a little odd, who takes the kid places and has the conversations the parents can't or won't have." Like my opinion of myself, I guess, minus the attentive - hard to do attentive with a 24 hour flight between you and the nieces. I hated the end of this book - it seemed an odd let down to the story, but up until then I was rather enjoying it. I finished it off on the bus ride back from my trip down south 3 weeks ago - it was the perfect travelling read, actually. Light, largely plot-driven, but with enough character development to keep me interested. "I loved it," I said, which like most simple declarative sentences was an oversimplification merged with a lie and overlaid by the mists of blessed memory."

I loved Donna Tartt's last book. I don't think you can be a Classics student of any kind and not have read "The Secret History." In fact, when I bought "The Little Friend" from What the Book, I did wonder if I already owned it back in Canada. I have a hard time remembering what I might have owned, or just coveted, or maybe have even read already. Anyway, I really liked it, though it was nowhere near as cool as "The Secret History." It was one of those books that really drew me into its world and I have never so much as set foot in the American South. The two families are fascinating, as is the narrator. It reminded me in part of lazy childhood summers, stretching out endlessly, with that odd mixture of boredom and excitment. It's one of those books that I really loved, will even keep and take home with me, and yet I have almost nothing to say about it.

Next up was "Love Medicine" by Louise Erdrich. I didn't like it, which annoys me as it's one of the few books I've ever bought new here. Parts of it were fine and the interrelated stories of the families living on the reservation were generally very interesting, but the narrative voice changed every damn chapter. Some of them I just didn't like, but in general, I'm not a huge fan of huge style changes. I can find it hard enough to handle between books, much less many times within one. I'd read a chapter and love it but then hate the next one. I plan on hitting up the bookstore tomorrow, and this one is about to be traded. Identity is an interesting thing - the author is billed very much as a Native American author. Yet, in the ubiquitous reader's guide it beomes obvious that she sees herself as following the Catholic traditions as much as Ojibwe ones.

Another dud was "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith. I loved "White Teeth" so much and had high expectations for this one, but somehow a story of a series of affairs conducted in and around the ivory towers fell rather flat. I rather liked parts of Zora's character, especially that she feels that she is labelled as opinionated but feels in fact that she has no opinions, that she could have argued things either way. And there's a nice scene when the siblings bump into each other by accident one day and enjoy spending time together, for all that they don't really get involved in each other's lives generally. But, basically, quite a boring book that feels like it never really goes anywhere.

An amusing, quick read was "The Timewaster Letters" by Robin Cooper. It's funny how many people replied to his bullshit and took him seriously. I also found "A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian" by Marina Lewycka quite funny. A serious message wrapped up in humour - after an eleven hour teaching day, frankly that's the way I want any seriousness. I don't generally read for escapism (usually I read in a sort of self-help way - to gain insight into myself and the world through the characters), but this year I certainly have appreciated that sort of reading.

Ever thought it would be easier to buy a fake license from a terrorist than replace a genuine one in Italy? I loved maybe three-quarters of "How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays" by Umberto Eco. "The train, in America is not a choice. It is a punishment for, having neglected to read Weber on the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, making the mistake of remaining poor," he writes. Ha! That is a perfect description for what the train between Winnipeg and Churchill was like. Leave the commuter train area and the tourist train route and the train becomes a different beast altogether. In regards to the three main types of cell phone users who can use it at will, the handicapped, people needed in emergencies like doctors and firemen and adulterers, he says: "Indeed, for the first two we are willing to be disturbed even while dining in a restaurant, or during a funeral; and adulterers are very discreet, as a rule.

"How to Organize a Public Library" brought back fond memories. "1. The various catalgues must be housed as far apart as possible from one another. All care must be taken to separate the catalgue of books from that of periodicals, and these two from the catalogue by subject; similarly, the recent aquisitions must be kept well away from older collections." That is the University of Edinburgh library right there. To do an archaeology paper, I'd start at the Archaeology library, then move to the main library, where there were two different classification systems, used for older and newer books, which were also kept on completely different floors. Point 17, "If possible, no rest rooms. reminds me of Queen's and the controversy that started when the new library was built and people opposed putting tampon machines in the womens' washrooms. As someone pointed out, far less crass to have women bleed all over the books than lower the library to selling something of any kind!

The best of the essays for me was "How to Justify a Private Library."
[For] people who possess a fairly sizable library (large enough in my case that someone entering our house can't help but notice it; actually, it takes up the whole place.), visitors enter and say, "What a lot of books! Have you read them all?" At first I thought that the question characterized only people who had scant familiarity with books . . . but there is more to it than that. I believe that, confronted by a vast array of books, anyone will be seized by the anguish of learning and will inevitably lapse into asking the question that expresses his torment and his remorse.

In the past I adopted a tone of contemptuous sarcasm. "I haven't read any of them; otherwise, why would I keep them here?" But this is a dangerous answer, because it invites the obvious follow-up: "And where do you put them after you've read them?" The best answer is the one always used by Roberto Leydi: "And more, dear sir, many more," which freezes the adversary and plunges him into a state of awed admiration. But I find it merciless and angst-generating. Now I have fallen back on the riposte: "No, these are the ones I have to read by the end of the month. I keep the others in my office," a reply that on the one hand suggests a sublime ergonomic strategy and on the other leads the visitor to hasten the moment of his departure.

Geek Alert

I just read a magazine that I haven't in ages - not regularly since I lived in Scotland and worked at the bank and hence had a raging addiction to buying "smart" books and magazines to make up for the braindeadening way I spent well over 8 hours of my waking life.

New Scientist. I had forgotten how much fun it is to read short bits of information that I really only half understand but find ridiculously fascinating. I bought it to read an article called "English: Why the Language We Know is Vanishing Fast," but I found most of the other bits more interesting. Did you know that urban songbirds are adapting to noise polluntion by singing more loudly, at higher pitches, or at night? Come to think of it, I remember how living near Arthur's Seat when I was in residence in Edinburgh that there were always birds chirping around 3~4a.m. The dawn chorus has been moved up. There was also something about universe-destroying bubbles - went over my head entirely, as physics always did, but still. Fascinating.

Amusingly, in an article about internet addiction being a mental illness, South Korea got a shout out. Ha!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Unread Book Meme

From What If No One's Watching?

Below is a list of the top 106 books tagged "unread" on LibraryThing. The rules:
bold = what you've read,
italics = books you started but couldn't finish
crossed out = books you hated
* = you've read more than once
underline = books you own but haven't read yourself
??? = books you might own, unread, but can't recall (I've added this one in myself, obviously!)

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy ???
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller ???
7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien ???
8. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
9. The Odyssey by Homer - For the first time when I was in highschool, then I was assigned the pleasure of reading it in at least 4 classes, but I don't believe I've read the whole thing. I might have, but if so, not in order. I have translated significant portions too.
10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
11. Ulysses by James Joyce ???
12. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
13. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - Loved it and would have finished, but it was too big and heavy to take hiking on the West Highland Way.
14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
15. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens ???
16. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
17. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
18. The Iliad by Homer - Same as the Iliad.
19. Emma by Jane Austen ???
20. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
21. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
22. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
23. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
24. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Started it three times before I finished.
25. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
26. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens ???
27. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
28. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
29. Life of Pi by Yann Martel - I even own copies in both Canada and Korea!
30. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
31. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
32. Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
33. Dracula by Bram Stoker
34. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck ???
35. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
36. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
37. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
38. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
39. Middlemarch by George Eliot
40. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen ???
41. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
42. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
43. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
44. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley*
45. Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
46. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
47. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
48. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
49. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
50. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
51. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
52. Dune by Frank Herbert
53. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
54. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
55. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
56. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
57. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
58. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
59. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
60. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
61. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf ???
62. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess ???
63. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
64. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
65. Persuasion by Jane Austen
66. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
68. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
69. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
70. The Once and Future King by T.H. White ???
71. Atonement by Ian McEwan
72. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
73. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
74. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
75. Dubliners by James Joyce
76. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
77. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - I might have read this, I can't recall now if I have or if I just saw the movie.
78. Beloved by Toni Morrison
79. Collapse by Jared Diamond
80. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
81. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
82. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence * (sort of, in that I've read three slightly different versions of it.
83. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
84. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo ???
85. Watership Down by Richard Adams
86. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli *
87. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
88. Beowulf by Anonymous
89. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
90. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
91. The Aeneid by Virgil - Same as Iliad and Oddysey
92. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
93. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
94. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
95. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
96. Possession by A.S. Byatt
97. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
98. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ???
99. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
100. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
101. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
102. Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire
103. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
104. The Plague by Albert Camus *
105. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
106. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

And what can I conclude? I buy books at about 5 times the rate I can read them and the only books on this list I haven't heard of are both by Neal Stephenson. Also, I still feel bad/guilty about admitting to my dislike of Toni Morrison. Everyone bloody likes her, including many people whose literary tastes I normally feel are similar to my own. I have never wanted to have liked something so much in my life, but I just really didn't.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Nancy Drew: "My Urge In The Icebox" - Painting Other, 2007


It's funny the odd things that remind you of other places. Today the bright sun and wind reminded me of September/October weather in Toronto. All it needed was the changing leaves.

Naturally, it was beautiful all last week, then the three day weekend hit and it rained on Sunday. I did make it to the parade/Lantern Festival, but didn't do much in the way of culturalness. Orin and I made it in time to meet Brian, Stephen and their friend for a meal at Agio's, then we had tea in a really cool place with seats out of a train, and we saw maybe 20 minutes of the parade from behind a crowd of people when everyone decided that was enough. I was surprised - the newbies didn't seem much interested and the first two times I went to that festival it was my favourite touristy experience in Seoul. This year I wasn't overly in the mood and the weather sucked.

Otherwise, I celebrated children by not seeing any, woot! Went to Itaewon and Hongdae both Saturday and Sunday nights - ended up covered in paint by Alex in the bar, so there was some classic long weekend weird-barness involved, thus upholding tradition. I have been watching My So-Called Life - oh, the flannel! - and reading a lot. I have also gotten addicted to downloading randomness reviewed in Bust and Bitch. It has been a very content weekend. I'm sure I won't be seeing Brian for some time. Hahaha. Ex-next-door-neighbours might be around again soon though!

Happy Children's Day!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I Like

Glory Hope Mountain by The Acorn.

It's the story of Gloria Esperanza Montoya, the songwriter's mother, telling about her early life in Honduras – including her own mother's death during childbirth, a near drowning at the hands of a flash flood, and the escape from her abusive father – to her eventual immigration to Montreal in 1972.

Give it a listen.