Archive for April, 2007

In to gnash an all-day

Strangely – especially strangely, given that it’s a Monday, Wednesday or Friday – I have a few spare moments at work to do a bit of a write-up. Over the last week or so, the class I usually have has dwindled to just one student, then on Friday it was just none – likewise today. They have exams at the moment, so I suppose they’re all cramming for those.

Today was International Day at our hagwon. I stayed up all night finding pictures on the internet and putting them into Word documents along with bits of descriptive text. By the time I headed into work – later than usual – I’d created 47 pages, in addition to the eight I’d already completed. When I got there, the printing off process was pleasantly smooth and surprise-free – I’d uploaded them all to my main e-mail address’s Yahoo! Briefcase account (and was disturbed to find that it didn’t already exist (ie, I had to set it up first) because I was sure I had stuff on there already. Thinking about it though, that work is probably associated with another address). Then I had the annoyance of not being able to get into my designated classroom because of a class being held in there.

The process itself was pretty underwhelming, and in hindsight, I would have done less work. Actually, with the wonderful benefits of hindsight, instead of creating a kind browsable exhibit, I would have done more of a lecture. The kids mostly just sat there listing to me and my co-teacher, allowing themselves to be prompted into saying the occasional word. There were also too many students at one time and not enough time with them.

I also took 300 digestive biscuits and teabags and a brand new flask into school in order to make tea and biscuits. In practice there wasn’t really time – either to make the tea or to offer it to them. I went through the same routine – about the UK, the four home nations, where it is on a map of the world, the coins and notes, the colours of the flags – for every class, hesitantly at first, then less hesitantly. My colleague, Gina, helped out and offered ideas.

I’m falling asleep as I write this. I’m going to get some of that tea.

Categories: Employment

More books than you can shake a stick at

25 April 2007 2 comments

Well, three, anyway. As I mentioned on my post this morning, I was expecting a trio of novels – and they all arrived during the day. I’ve been reading The Steep Approach to Garbadale. 30-odd pages into it and it seems pretty decent. Unlike many of Banks’s ‘literary’ fiction novels, where most of the plot seems to be crowded into the last few chapters, this one appears to have plot going on from the start. It seems a long time since the last Banks book I read – which will have been The Algebraist – so I wanted to start on this one first. Hmm. Even though there are two other books I’m part-way through at the moment.

I’m also, right now, uploading my video files to my new MediaMax account. I say ‘new’ – I opened it a while ago, but never got round to doing much with it. Although it uses this thing called Streamload – meaning you can stream video and music from, or even have other people access it – I just want to use it for storage. You get 25GB with a free account and, if I remember rightly, 1GB downloading rights before you start getting charged.

My laptop could probably do with having extra stuff removed and put into storage. Why ‘extra stuff’? Well, I’ve also spent some time cleaning it out – and I’m currently pushing the 3GB mark for free space. Now I just have a gigabyte of photos and videos that have been languishing untouched on my camera to upload.

I’ve been thinking about buying a new laptop. There’s a technology market in Seoul – a large multistorey building – that’s packed with cameras, phones and PCs. It would seem the logical place to go, but of course there’s the ever-present language problem. I can see myself buying a new laptop from Home plus.

Bulletin, 25 April

Things in general are going OK. My health is reasonable, but still not perfect. The weekend before last I was down to two toilet trips a day, but since then I’m back up to maybe three, four, five times a day. This may be due to a reduction in my medication, or it may be because my diet is changing back to ‘normal’ (which is to say, I’m eating bread and bran cereal and drinking tea and coffee again). Or it may be due to stress reasserting itself; I had a pleasant, interesting day this last Saturday that was nevertheless quite stressful. I started writing a post about it and I should really get round to finishing it.

I ordered some books the week before last. From the Seoul English-language new and used shop, What the Book? I ordered the third book in R Scott Bakker’s The Prince of Nothing, The Thousandfold Thought and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Just had an e-mail to say the order’s shipped and should be delivered in 24-48 hours. (On Saturday I went ahead and bought Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix from Libro Books in Seoul.) I also ordered a copy of Iain Banks’s new book, The Steep Approach to Garbadale, from an e-Bay shop. Most of the sellers I’d previously contacted about this novel refused to post it to South Korea (mainly, I suspect, because they couldn’t be bothered finding out the shipping costs). Then I got a positive response from someone who was selling a trade paperback copy – so I ordered it from someone else – on the basis that I prefer to have a hardback. It ought to arrive this week, too – we’ll just have to see whether it actually gets here.

At the hagwon I have some work to do. In addition to my teaching … Sorry, let me type that again: In addition to my ‘teaching’. We have an ‘International Day’ on Monday. The foreign teachers are to do up a classroom each with information about their home countries. So far I’ve been working on flags – hence my post on vexillology. The head teacher said the school could provide a decent flag – and she was a little confused when I asked for five, maybe six flags. I’ve settled for finding black and white outline versions that I’ll print out and colour in. Still a lot of work to do for the day, though.

It’s my birthday in less than two weeks. I’ll be going into Seoul on the Saturday (that day has cropped up an awful lot in this post) to meet my two gaming mates in the WFRP game to watch Spiderman 3 and go for a meal. The Hi Seoul Festival is just about to start, so maybe I’ll look into going to some event that may prove interesting.

Categories: Life, Miscellaneous

A quick note on blogging

So during my recent illness my blog actually celebrated its first anniversary. It had all its friends round for a party and expected me to clear up the mess the following day. Maybe. The first post I made was on 31 March 2006, and you can read it here. As an inveterate anal retentive, I must say it really pleased me to look back and find that I’d written at least one entry during March 2007 – so the archive ‘widget’ shows an unbroken list of months from the blog’s inception.

Total blog views are now up beyond 6,500, although my best day remains 101 hits from way back whenever it was. Daily hits vary from 27 to 4 in the past month. I’m getting a fair number of referrals from the Korean Blog List. And finally, yesterday someone arrived at my blog after searching for ‘vomiting bathroom floor laxatives’ – which is a neat summation of one of my recent experiences.

Categories: Computers & Internet

A letter from the Land

I recently posted a couple of questions to Stephen Donaldson’s Gradual Interview. The second hasn’t been answered yet, but he e-mailed me a reply to the first. Which was:

I realise this might come under the heading of RAFO, but my question is this: Will Thomas Covenant be a viewpoint character in Fatal Revenant?

My justification for wanting to know is that it’ll be frustrating hoping for and expecting something that might never happen, and the blurb-that-dare-not-speak-its-name that was released on certainly implies that the book will be wholly focused on Linden. Plus, we’re going to find out soon enough anyway. <grin>

Ancilliary question: Will Jeremiah be a viewpoint character?

By the way, I enjoyed reading the first half of chapter one and am looking forward to the rest. I’m probably more excited about FR than I was about RotE.

His reply was:

I’m sorry. As you suspected, all of this falls “under the heading of RAFO”. I’m working hard to set you up (in the best possible sense), and I don’t want to risk anything that might let you skip ahead of me unnecessarily.


Fair enough. The personal response explains why no other question on the subject has appeared on the GI. I suppose I’ll just have to wait until Fatal Revenant‘s release in October (by which time I should be back in the UK).

Categories: Literature


vex·il·lum /vɛkˈsɪləm/ [vek-sil-uhm]

–noun, plural vex·il·la /vɛkˈsɪlə/ [vek-sil-uh]

1. a military standard or flag carried by ancient Roman troops.
2. a group of men serving under such a standard.
3. video frequency.
4. Also, vex·il /ˈvɛksɪl/ [vek-sil] Botany. the large upper petal of a papilionaceous flower.
5. Ornithology Rare. the web or vane of a feather.

[Origin: 1720–30; < L: standard, flag, dim. from the base of vélum sail (see veil)]


Categories: Lexicon


Discovered this word as I was putting together stuff for my hagwon’s International Day.

vex·il·lol·o·gy /ˌvɛksəˈlɒlədʒi/ [vek-suhloluh-jee]

the study of flags.

[Origin: 1955–60; < L vexill(um) flag, vexillum + -o- + -logy]

—Related forms
vex·il·lo·log·i·cal, adjective
vex·il·lol·o·gist, noun


Categories: Lexicon