The Ice Bucket Curse

Things about Korea


I’ve been in Korea just over two months.

Here are some things about Korea:

  • Alcohol is cheap
  • Groceries are expensive.
  • Fruit and vegetable vendors on the street reward loyalty.
  • Plungers have handles.
  • Brooms are very short.
  • There’s a melon here that looks like a small, striped pumpkin on the outside and a pale cucumber on the inside. It tastes like a melon.
  • Outdoor shoes/indoor sandals = great system.
  • My school has a tiny aquatic turtle and he is a beautiful genius.
  • Online banking has crazy security measures, and yet the browser of choice is Internet Explorer.
  • A “cash card” is an ATM card. It can only be used to withdraw or deposit at an ATM. A “check card” is a debit card which can be used in stores and such. Your bank book is actually important in Korea. It’s your main banking document and you can withdraw or deposit money at the bank’s ATM with it.
  • Korean barbecue is delicious and fantastic. It’s the only place I eat kimchi (because I can grill it).
  • Salty snacks are hard to come by. The movie theatre only has sweet popcorn. The chocolate flavour is sweet. The garlic flavour is sweet. The movie theatre has fresh cut potato chips. Deep-fried while you wait. I got some. They were sweet. Just covered in sugar. Buy garlic bread at the bakery. It’s sweet. The only pretzels I can find at my local grocery store are sweet. Things are sweet here is what I’m trying to say.
  • Asparagus is rare and expensive. It costs a little over a dollar per stalk.
  • Pork is the cheapest meat.
  • Oreo O’s cereal doesn’t even taste like Oreos. Although…
  • Oreos taste different over here.
  • The baseball teams are named after corporations instead of cities. During a Kia Tigers game, they had to replace the pitcher, so they drove the replacement pitcher to the mound in a new Kia automobile.
  • LG makes my fridge and my microwave and my toothpaste. The toothpaste cap just squeezes off instead of twisting off.
  • Volleyball hurts if you suck at it.
  • Summer is humid and hot.
  • Korean weddings are very short (about 20 minutes) and held in wedding halls, where a bunch of other weddings are also going on. At the wedding Laura and I went to, guests could get food at a huge buffet that was used by the guests of every wedding in the building.
  • The kids were initially fascinated by my height, large nose and large eyes. They remain fascinated by my arm hair and beard hair. They rub my arm whenever I get too close, and some of them will say, “Monkey!” which gets old quick.


  • This macaroon (on the cover of one of my students’ English notebooks), upon being unexpectedly gifted with sentience, is grappling with deep questions and finding God.

How Are You? How’s It Going?

At the start of every class, I tell the students how I am. “I’m happy because I’m reading a good book,” I’ll scrawl on the board. Or “I’m sad because Korea didn’t win against Russia.”

Then, I’ll ask the students how they are. About four students per class will tell me how they’re doing and I’ll write their sentence on the board. The students will often need help from my Korean co-teachers in translating their sentences.

Some examples of the usual:

"I’m happy because today is Friday."

"I’m happy because today we have P.E."

"I’m happy because I played computer games yesterday."

"I’m happy because today is sunny and cool."

Today, one grade six girl’s sentence was, “I’m angry because Monday is Hell’s gate.” She didn’t need much help translating that. She had “Monday” and “Hell’s gate” ready. She just needed to put an “is” in there.

Another grade six girl in the same class said, “I’m treacherous because I tormented some enemies on Wednesday.” She first went with “I’m evil,” but decided “I’m treacherous” was more suitable.

Here are some more of the sentences my students have come up with:

"I’m angry because using an umbrella is very hard with a broken arm."

"I’m not good because there’s a bad smell."

"I’m angry because yesterday my sister bit me."

"I’m good because Vince Teacher is very VERY handsome."

"I’m hurt because my sister kicked me in the mouth."

"I’m happy because I’m pretty and cute."

When I think “DMZ”, I think of great mineral water.

I sometimes make rather unusual videos for various clients and various purposes. This is a highlight reel.

Harry Potter Bookclub: update

I am part of a monthly Harry Potter book club that meets at my friend Mary’s place. It’s pretty awesome. Here’s Mary on the subject:


My friends and I have been rereading Harry Potter since September and meeting every month to discuss one of the books.

We’re on Order of the Phoenix right now and I thought I’d give a bit of an update on starting book clubs with friends. We didn’t really gave a plan going into it. I had researched a lot of book club discussions and looked at a lot of hp resources but knew that it wouldn’t work for us. Considering we’re a bunch of 25+ adults who grew up with these books, we knew the average type of topics and questions wouldn’t be what we wanted to discuss.
So the approach has mostly been to just seen what comes up as we jump into it. Meetings tend to run 2-3 hours of solid conversation. It helps to have a few people who take notes as they read and someone who is decent at keeping conversations on track, knowing when to let things run off in another direction and when to pull it back.

Certain themes of interest emerged by the second meeting:
- frustrations with the text ie. plotting, unanswered questions, weak or confusing characterization. Basically seeing if we’re able to tear apart the book and whether is stands up to being read as an adult.
- beyond the text. Lots of thoughts about what isn’t written. The wizarding world and how it must work. You don’t care a lot about things like politics, industry, trade, infrastructure, education etc. as a kid. It seems we are very concerned and interested in these fairly mundane everyday things now and give a fair amount of time to discussing how the wizarding world must function as a society.
- closely following the story arcs of characters other than Harry throughout the series. I’ve been really interested in Hermione’s story and find it a very different experience to watch her grow up compared to growing up with her. And reading into what people like Snape and Dumbledore are doing in the earlier books, knowing how things go later on, has been interesting.
- memories of reading the series for the first time. We often compare our thoughts and feelings now to what they were when we were growing up and reading the books as they were released. Are we more or less compassionate towards certain characters now? I find I understand and empathize with the adult characters a lot more now.

Obviously these might be different depending on the group of people, but this is what I find comes up every meeting.

Starting a book club for a beloved series that you’ve read before, probably multiple times, is very different than starting a normal book club. You can’t have a generic guide or outline because it depends so much on what people are bringing to the table. This isn’t a first reading where we need help digging into the themes. We’ve been intimately involved with the series for 15 years and I would go as far to say that it’s a defining part of our generation. Starting this kind of book club is not so much figuring out what you’re going to talk about and more about steering conversations into interesting places.

Other things needed for bookclub: snacks. I didn’t know at first whether this would be a drinking book club or not. It is not, really. Although we did kick it off with homemade butterbeer. We mostly have snacks though. Homemade chocolate frogs.

It’s been a really fun way to get together on a regular basis with friends who share your interests.

We should be finished the series in March and I’ll update you again when we do.

I participated in Reddit Secret Santa this year, along with over 100,000 other people. My gift recipient (Secret Child?) was a woman in Ontario who liked Harry Potter (among other things) and wanted something to put on her walls. I sent her a Harry Potter poster book and a Golden Snitch sticker kit and some pens (to round out the price for free shipping).

My Secret Santa, from British Columbia, sent me the above pictured cat calendar (a joke re: my allergy), syrups, and a giraffe! I was pleasantly surprised by the thought that went into the gifts and I appreciated the experience of reading the letter’s hints, then opening the gifts in their numbered order!

It was a really fun experience and I’m looking forward to participating again next year.

Happy Merry Christmas!
My Christmas cards 2009 - 2013.

Happy Merry Christmas!

My Christmas cards 2009 - 2013.

Happy Merry Christmas!

My Christmas cards from 2009 - 2013.

The 2011 card was also a video:

Sons of Anarachy: A Series Review

Sons of Anarchy is incredibly predictable. Instead of the cliche of having the good guys always win, on Sons of Anarchy, everyone loses, including the viewer.

The show strives to make its viewers suffer as much as its characters. The writers probably think of their show as a Shakespearean tragedy. I think they’re going for a tone similar to the one Game of Thrones strikes. But they’re writing it so poorly, and I can see where this is going. This is going to sink to Dexter-esque depths of terrible writing, and I’m not following it into the abyss.

A show has to be pretty bad to make me stop watching. I’m still watching that unholy trainwreck, How I Met Your Mother, for Frigg’s sake.

Chrustmas card

Ghost and Bird Christmas card
Ghost and Bird # 3
Ghost and Bird # 2
Ghost and Bird # 1

Ghost and Bird Christmas card


Ghost and Bird # 3

Ghost and Bird # 2

Ghost and Bird # 1

Ghost and Bird # 3


Ghost and Bird # 2

Ghost and Bird # 1

Ghost and Bird #2.

Ghost and Bird #1.