Friday, March 30, 2012

Upgrading My Life: iPad and SSD

There have been a couple major upgrades to my tech life lately. As it is, I'm sitting in my favorite cafe typing this on the newest generation of iPad (essentially the iPad 3). I don't have much to say about the product as much as I can speak on the way the product has affected my life even in the past few days. I like to sit on my deck every morning drink coffee, drink coffee and read the news in aggregate on my iPhone. There are some spectacular apps for news aggregation that work so well with a larger screen, such as News 360, Flipboard and Zite. These apps exist on the iPhone but their layouts for the iPad's larger screen is commendable. I have also downloaded Photoshop Touch and have rendered some shots of the river in downtown Yecheon into a neato kinda dealy (attached above). I finally decided to get an iPad because it seems as though it is coming into its own as a device for production, which is opposed to consumption. I wanted an iPad to be productive and not just read and watch movies and tv shows. There is a way to manipulate the USB camera connector into letting me use my MIDI Akai MPK mini keyboard with music production software. I can also use the iPad as a touch-based MIDI control panel for Ableton. There are so many possibilities.
I have also purchased an Intel 320 series SSD for my two year old white unibody MacBook. I now get a 24 second boot time. I can probably get another 2 years out of this thing. It is so snappy; applications launch in just two bounces versus the three minutes it took to launch iPhoto or iTunes. I even found a way to enable TRIM support for it via
The beauty of having SSD's in everything now is twofold: the speed and durability. My old platter hard drive was starting to make some disconcerting sounds. Jostling HDD's too much is quite bad for them. One of the funny things to get used to is the fact that my laptop is completely quiet now aside from when the fans spins up every once in a while. It's like driving a hybrid car in this thing on?
Just had to kvell.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Food I Couldn't Eat

I finally have been confronted with a food I could not eat. Faithful readers, meet 빙어 (bingeo).

The small minnow-like fish are eaten live, dipped in chili sauce and wrapped in a leaf.

It all started one afternoon my co-teacher took me and my friend Zach on a drive through the country and had asked if we wanted to eat some, what Zach and I heard as, "raw fish". We thought this wouldn't be a problem as we had eaten sushi with him in the past.

Anyway, after a series of hilarious and awkward circumstances detailed in Zach's excellently written blog, neither Zach nor I could eat the food. I have eaten some weird things in the past but I have finally met a food I could not eat. I've had hard-boiled duck fetus, pig brains out-of-the-skull, raw cow intestine, horse pot roast and a myriad of other exotic foods, I simply couldn't eat these little bastards. While squeamishness had the better of Zach, I couldn't fathom taking something's life inside my own mouth. Congrats, 빙어, you got the better of me.

As Zach so elequently wrote in his blog,

Since then I've sometimes regretted not eating it when I had the chance. Granted I could go back there sometime and try again, but if I went specifically to order it I know that I'd have to keep going until the bowl was pretty much empty this time, so I really don't think I will. It was that one time situation that passed me by and I wonder what I missed. I can't say I've actually eaten every unusual new food that's been offered to me now, and for that I am regretful. I hit my culinary wall, and just hope I'll get my second wind someday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another Semester, Another Day, Another Americano

I am two weeks into the new semester and it has come with some unique challenges as well as some really fun opportunities. I am teaching four D level classes, the lowest level of learners. Some of the students have a loose grasp on Korean, let alone any kind of command of English. This makes my job a little difficult, teaching English as a foreign language to low level learners. However, after spending two weeks with them, they have quickly become some of my favorite classes to teach. Let me explain.

The first week was a challenge. I knew that conventional teaching methods and lesson planning would not work for this class (Mr. Bean to the rescue!) and I had to come up with a way to teach varying degrees of low levels in the same class without isolating some kids or boring others. The first week I was terrified, especially since I taught the first class completely alone! Despite the low level of English, the students have a natural curiosity about me and a genuine sweetness that makes teaching them a pleasure. They do not talk and they try their damndest, which I absolutely cannot say about many of my higher level classes.

I have come to realize that these students are not trying because they want or even need to speak English but because they want a chance to succeed. It would be presumptuous of me to assume that they seek my approval. Instead, it seems to me they are seeking the feeling of success, of being told that they did a good job, that they completed a language task, no matter how basic it may seem to a higher level learner, with confidence and pride.

My second week in the classroom, I wrote at the top of my daily calendar "today is a day I can actually make a difference by teaching English". I cannot tell you the confidence boost that gave me which was obviously reflected by the students. I now look forward to those classes; not only do the students want to be there, but I do too. That makes a huge difference.

I am also leading an English club of extremely bright students, nine all said and done. They are very enthusiastic about learning English and picking my brain for any snippet of culture they can. They're a blast. Today, I showed them a Korean subtitled version of Abbot and Costello's "Who's On First" routine, which they loved.

One of my students brushed off the clip before I had a chance to play it, saying, "it looks so old." I told him to wait and give it a chance. The clip was eliciting belly-laughs from otherwise jaded high school boys.

We meet every other Friday for about two hours in the afternoon.

Otherwise, my B and C classes are causing me a lot of stress. How Dae Chang got its reputation for being a respectable school in general is beyond me. I find new students this year to be aggrivating and disrespectful, far beyond even the worst headaches my students gave me last year. Every incoming year gets worse and worse. There is a lot of politics behind it and my blog is an inappropriate place to speculate on them.

In other news, I pre-ordered an iPad 3 which should be arriving at my Dad's work in less that 24 hour, according to FedEx. Pretty excited about that.