Thursday, July 14, 2011

Desk Warming Is Killing Me...Literally

For those unfamiliar with Guest English Teacher (GET) jargon here in South Korea, desk warming is the act of sitting at one's desk during the obligatory eight hours at school for reasons including cancelled classes, test days, etc. and not teaching. A GET literally sits in her/his desk chair and must find something to occupy her/his time and wait out the clock. Why subject us to this cruel and unusual charade? I have heard a myriad of reasons, from inspectors from the Office of Education (of whom no one I know has seen heads or tails) inspecting schools to ensure Korean tax money is not "wasted" to co-teachers getting jealous and inciting a mutiny. Whatever the reason may be, desk warming is, for me, the greatest hardship of living here. When I have to deal with one day of desk warming, I usually enjoy catching up on reading blogs, reading a book, playing guitar in the broadcasting room adjacent to the teachers' office, taking a nap (how is this not wasting tax money again?) and generally minding my own business. Desk warming is indeed a double-edged sword and when stretches of time, such as finals week arrives (and the week of review preceding it), I can anticipate at least a full two weeks of sitting at my desk, staring at the clock, thinking to myself, "if only I could be cleaning my bathroom".
I have always harbored a suspicion that desk warming will be the end of me (read Sean's Bane). I found this infograph which beautifully illustrates and substantiates my suspicion. Indeed, sitting for eight to nine hours a day can literally shortening our lifespan up to 40%! Credit for this infograph is listed at the bottom.

Credit and hyperlink for infograph removed due to content provider's request - 6/3/2013
And for those who have made it to the end of the infograph, here is a video of Hitler having to desk warm.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting for Something to Happen

It seems as though I spend a lot of my time in Korea waiting for something to happen. Part of it may have to do with a lot of the friends I have made here are getting ready to leave in August, having opted to stick through only one contract; it's difficult not to resonate with the excitement they share via SMS, phone calls, Facebook, etc. But I have chosen to stay. I know what to expect in August: I'll show up to school the day many of them depart and I'll most likely suffer the real though unreasonable feelings of being left behind, wondering if, in fact, this was the right decision.
If Peace Corps was a swing to the direction of living more or less tech-less, Korea has afforded me the revolution of the pendulum and my head is now awash with tech mill rumors, keeping up with the latest information technology trends, Web 2.0, living and thinking in the Cloud and buying gadgets galore. This month, in fact, major software updates are coming to my new Android phone (2.3) and my MacBook (OS 10.7). While there are no specific release dates, both Motorola and Apple have promised the updates will be released this month. I obsessively check the rumor blogs multiple times a day hoping that today (whichever day it is) might be the day. This is proving to be exhausting and the feeling that something could happen any day now has seeped into many aspects of my life.
I never thought of myself to be the kind of guy who lives for the weekends either. But this sort is what I have become. I spend five days a week waiting for two that go by way too quickly. This is problematic; it feels as though I am in jettison, in perpetual motion racing to something which will pass all too quickly and then looking for the next big thing. This is no way to live.
I used to believe that routine is the fastest way to a short life; but my experience this last month or so has revealed otherwise. I'm not exactly sure how to put it into words, but here goes; it is not routine, but anticipation which robs one of "the moment", keeping one's mind and attention one step ahead of one's feet, which accelerates the inevitable demise. No one can be sure what happens next after this dog and pony show which is life, but I, for one, am not in a rush to find out. Nor am I interested in answering the question, " why are we here on earth?" for that matter. I just know I want to accept and appreciate where I am before my 20's, my 30's and so on, becoming memories instead of the inevitable.
I haven't blogged in a long while and I'm not sure if I'll keep it up. But I needed to make a declaration and put this into words where, perchance, friends and family might know some of my more intimate thoughts. I'm done rushing and ready to sit on my balcony, enjoy a beer and the falling rain and going everywhere slowly.
I'm a quarter century old and am in no disposition to rush into the rest of what lies beyond. I'm in a good place, with good people. I may not see everyone as much as I like but damnit, they're important people in my life and for that fact I should sit contentedly and just watch the rain. Many of my friends are going to their respective home countries but many are also staying here.
Peace Corps made me somewhat of an optimist; the self-appointed purpose of my life is to accept warmly those who come into my life and leave an impression on on those who I may with something whole and heart-felt upon our divergence. Folks in their 20's live at a velocity that rarely runs parallel to one another but the vertices of our acquaintances leave the same lines of longitude and latitude which outline the maps of our lives.