Monday, June 27, 2016

New Chapter

It's now June 28th. Tuesday. And I haven't worked since Friday the 17th.

The pills I got from the doctors are gone. I am feeling great! The vascular doctor has cleared up my nose so I have had a few double nostril sleeps lately! What a difference that makes! I was a bit of a bad boy and I went for some hikes. The same trail as usual. Tiger Rock. I absolutely FLEW around that circuit! Sweat was flowing, heart was pumping, I was passing people! It was like I had tried on a new body! Legs weren't complaining, head wasn't aching, I was breathing hard but not out of breath. It felt AWESOME! I am convinced that I've been all clogged up due to an allergy to this stupid black mould. That's what the vascular doc gave me the pills for and MAN are they succeeding! She said they were for an allergy. To what, she didn't say, but it stands to reason. I'm telling you, if not for this mould, I might be slim and trim by now! It saps my energy, and I'm not getting enough oxygen. That's what I reckon anyway, but what do I know? I'm not a doctor. I just live with this body of mine 24/7.

I went back to the doctor on Wednesday, the morning of my first camp interview. She said if the meds worked, then it was probably an allergy. So I asked what I am allergic to and she said it could be the mould. Well, logic would dictate we test for allergies. But there I go expecting logic in Korea again. I have never had any allergies to this point in my life. I get conned into living in a mould infested apartment and suddenly I have an allergy that is restricting my breathing, costing me sleep, sapping my energy and may be causing the worst headaches of my life. Maybe, um, test for a mould allergy? Or black mould exposure?

Maybe this in combination with the most restrictive teaching environment of my career, and in turn the worst behaviour from any students I've ever had, added to the longest teaching workweek and the most prep time at any teaching job I've ever worked, throw in the neighbourhood noise, lack of social life, and all of the requisite stressors life throws at us all and maybe, just maybe this equals headaches that are so bad I sweat all over and even throw up. This would be a pretty safe assumption.

But I go to these doctors, tell them all the details, and I see what I have so often seen in my classrooms: "I know 9 of the 10 words in this sentence. The speaker's body language clearly indicates his meaning. The one word I don't understand doesn't seem to have any importance in the sentence. All the words preceding and following this sentence seem to indicate that it means what I think it means. NAH, I probably don't understand it." "Teacher, don't understand!"

I think the doctors are scared to take a chance. But meanwhile, I was sent to a specialist. He didn't seem all that special to me. He told me that cerebral aneurysms have no symptoms. It is only the rupture and the resulting blood in the subarachnoid space, (between your skill and brain), that can lead to headaches. So basically he was saying, "We've found some minor problems indicated by the one thing we have 100% trust in: technology. We have a picture that was generated using a magnetic field and radio waves to give us a map of the veins in your head and we've found a minor inconsistency on it. Although it could be a blip on the radar, a wart, a brain zit, who the hell knows?, and many people with incidentally discovered, small aneurysms do nothing at all and live full lives as normal, we are going to book you for another more expensive test that will leave you with less money and no closer to the cause or treatment of your problem, which, we have established, is unrelated to these proposed tests."

He wanted to do the thing right away! A transfemoral artery angiogram, he assured me, is needed to assess and confirm the causes, evaluate the risk and decide the treatment. It's another example of doctors with their toys methinks. Sounds expensive and is. It also comes with a one or two day stay in the hospital. As far as I can tell from my online research NObody knows the causes of aneurysms, so this will not confirm the causes. Again, I'm no doctor, but I have read that the only indication of risk of rupture is if the aneurysm grows. This TFCA test won't establish that. And treatment may be as simple as not changing anything. So basically, I think this guy is wasting my time. I wonder if he gets a cut of every TFCA performed.

We have to be careful of things like this. Doctors are not immune to the money sickness and, as yet, they haven't found ITS cure. Like these docs that have been prescribing chemotherapy over the years. HUGELY ineffective, but expensive and doctor's share in huge profits from it.

I arranged to have to appointment booked for July 15th but I think I'm going to cancel it. Why? Because, that interview I mentioned has lead to two offers of employment. First from the Sang Myung University kids camp. Secondly from the Seoul Club "Rumble in the Jungle" kids summer camp. The latter is the one I think I'll be accepting. It's three weeks of swimming with some kids for a couple hours a day. No weekends. I get 100,000 won a day. That's about 50 bucks an hour. I told the interviewer that I had Bronze Cross lifeguard training and CPR and he was sold. I just need permission from my employer to do the work while still under contract with them. And they're in Spain now so can't get that letter. That'll be July 18th to August 5th. I still haven't confirmed but I have been told that they want to hire me.

I also had an interview for a camp at Konkuk University. I also applied for a full time teaching job there. I think they will keep a close eye on me while I work at the camp, (if selected), to see if they want to hire me full time. So if I get that gig, I might do that in stead of the Seoul Club camp even though it's more work for less pay.

Then I went for a visit with the Peet/Spiwak clan. I went to Itaewon after the interview at Konkuk. Nobody was home at the house on the hill so I had a late lunch at Sam Ryan's Sports Pub. I was the first one there at 3 PM. I got a Kozel beer, (with cinnamon around the edge of the glass), and some REALLY great mac and cheese. I watched some UFC and some Rugby League while having lunch. Just as I finished, two Korean ladies and a foreign gal sat at the bar close by. They ordered Kozels and mac and cheese. I gave them the cinnamon around the edge tip and I guess the non-Korean gal heard my accent. She asked where I'm from. Her name was Sabrina, Selena, Sophia or something like that and she was from Nova Scotia. So we started talking about Kraft Dinner and Canadian stuff. She told me she was just visiting Korea on holiday. She introduced me to the two Korean ladies, friends she had met the day before who were taking her rafting in the northeast. I said, "Hey, wait a minute, that's where I live!" So we started talking about Gangneung and Sokcho and mountains, hiking, food. THIS is the kind of stuff I don't get here in Gangneung. For half a year I have met nobody. Well, I guess you could say I know some people who were introduced to me by Anne, the former teacher where I work. But other than them I suppose the only person I've met was the drunken Korean lady who sort of crashed our outing to the "Talk Show" bar one night. Kelly, Dave and I went there for a beer or two and she came over and started speaking to us in slurred Korean. Her friends were apologetically trying to drag her back but she was determined to get her point across. She said the same things several times. Kelly recorded her and asked a Korean what she was saying. I forget what it was but it was pretty funny. We all got a kick out of her. My only OTHER acquaintance here in Gangneung.

So I'm hoping to find some work in or near Seoul so that I can do things like this more often. And so I can visit my friends in Seoul more often. I watched the Tigers game at Sam Ryans and met a Korean fella named Mr. Jo. He is a retired optometrist and he kept buying me beer. He was impressed at my Korean baseball knowledge. Being from Mokpo, he was also a Kia Tiger supporter. And one of the bartenders was too! So we all enjoyed watching Kia beat the 2nd place team that night. NC Dinos are dangerous this year and I wasn't expecting a win but we got one! By the end of the game, Heather and Mike had made their way to Kraft Hans. We stood outside at the usual table and had beer with the usual folks. Cigars were smoked and a good time was had by all. I'm told. heh heh.

THEN we went to Min's. Min is a great dude and he always plays our old time music requests. We were dancing and talking and meeting other people. I was wearing a shirt my brother Rob had given me a long time ago. It was from Monarch Roofing where he works. They were 20 years old at the time so on the back of the shirt it says, "Thanks for 20 years!" A young, attractive, Korean girl, in English, asked me what my shirt meant so I said to her, "Oh, they gave me this when I got out of prison." She said nothing and just disappeared into the crowd like Homer Simpson into the hedges. It was quite funny. Then I walked home a la John Cleese as the Minister of Silly Walks. It made Heather laugh a lot.

We spent the weekend together. Not doing anything really special, just hanging out. I miss that. It's time for me to get a social life. We DID watch the Big Lebowski for the umpteenth time, but this time Reilly and Roman watched with us. It was their initiation into Dudism. The next day was filled with fledgling Dudist quotes from the movie and smiles of pride from veteran Dudist parents.

Now I'm back home. I have paid the rent, I think, for July. I say, "I think," because I paid it to my boss by depositing it into his account. But we talked about this and I said I wanted to pay rent for July so as to give the landlords time to find a new tenant. And it would give me time to find a new job. So that's what I'm up to now. Throwing around resumes and hoping for the best. Like before, if I have to I'll take a job at a hagwon but I would just expect exactly what happened here. Hagwons are the same all over. It's not easy to find a good one. But that goes for university and college jobs too. Those are the ones I'm trying for and with my experience, I should be able to land one. Till then it'll be swimming with kids and going to interviews. I prefer that to fighting with employers and yelling at students.

As for the headaches, I haven't had one for weeks even though I've done all the things that triggered them. The biggest change has been not working so I'm pretty sure the headaches had something to do with the job. Everybody thought so. Even my employers.

So it's on to a new chapter. I'll give it a title when it happens.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

For everyone who has ever told me I'm sick in the head...

Today, Wednesday, June 15, was another very busy day as expected. I got very little sleep, also as expected. The headache persevered, though it was more just wondering what the smeg is wrong with me that caused me to wake up before 5 AM today. I tried to get back to sleep but that wasn't happening. So I got up and took the first of the vein constricting pills. Maybe they'd finally get rid of the headache. I had to take them with breakfast so I had some toast and jam with tea. It was raining so I bought a brand new umbrella on the way back to the Dong In Hospital. It's just about a 20-minute walk from my door. Very convenient.

I was supposed to see the vascular doc at 9:30, but I was greeted by one of the friendly staff who recognized me from the day before. I am pretty easy to remember. She told me that there was a computer malfunction and showed me a lot of patients in the chock-o-block full waiting areas. She said that the wait would be over an hour. So I went to the coffee shop and grabbed an Americano for about $2.50. I had had a cup of black coffee from the machine near radiology the day before. About 50 cents and it tasted like about 5 cents. The Americano was good though. Thing was, I didn't have a chance to really enjoy it. I was collected and taken to the doctor I had seen the day before. Instead of an hour wait, I had only about a 10 minute wait. The doctor told me that some other doctors and he had met and decided that the "small dilatation on my cerebral vessel" WAS more serious than originally thought, and worth doing further tests. That's an aneurism to you and me. Yeah. All those words are the absolute worst news I could have possibly received... except for that one word: SMALL. It's just a small bulge in my blood vessel. It reminds me of when you fill up water balloons and sometimes there's a weakness in your balloon and you get a little bubble that gets stretched so thin it's almost transparent. Sometimes it gets big enough to pop too. That is, as I understand, exactly what's going on with my cerebral blood vessel. It could get bigger and burst and that's how aneurisms kill folks. But the key word, I am assured, is SMALL. Who says you can't be very happy with a small bulge?

So he said that we will do the scheduled vascular checks at Dong In hospital and then I had to make an appointment to see a Dr. Yang Goo Hyun at the neurosurgery department of Asan Hospital. This is a bigger hospital and it was about a 10,000 won taxi ride away. I'm assuming Dr. Yang is a specialist. Like the Kia Tigers, Yang is the ace of the staff. The taxi ride is 10 or 11 bucks Canadian, but if you're Canadian, it's not a 2 block taxi ride, (which is what you get there for 10 or 11 bucks), it is about a 15 minute drive down the highway. I had told the boss I might work today if the headache meds did their job and I was finished by 3:30. Now I wasn't sure if I would be. So anyway, I got busy covering the breathing, sinus, chest and allergy bases. The doctor was a really nice lady who, again, spoke English very well. She had trouble with a few words but a couple of them I knew the Korean word, miraculously enough! I had a chest x-ray done and also a sinus x-ray. I also told her about the mold. She told me to clean it with "Rox" as they call it. It's bleach. I remember because I had a really hard time finding bleach to clean the mold. Mostly because this country, being so appearance based, automatically gives the verb for bleach in every translator I could find. I'll never understand why these lunatics want to whiten their awesome, brown skin. But anyway, I told her "Lox, or Rox" is bleach and I had used that to clean the mould the first time. Then I caught a cold. Next, after reading up on the stuff, I cleaned again, this time with vinegar. And I caught a cold. I've looked at the symptoms of mould sickness and I've got a lot of them. Headaches ARE one of them. But I could look up almost anything online and get paranoid that I have it.

She wrote down the idea of mould sickness so it's on the record. But the findings on the day are not yet consistent with serious mould sickness. Which is good, I guess, but I was hoping that the headaches would be caused by mould, not something more serious. She says she thinks it's some sort of allergy and gave me some pills to try to clear the sinus congestion in a week. The chest congestion is not serious, she said. So I go back to visit her next Wednesday and give her an update. Whether it's contributing to the headaches or not, it'd be awesome to get rid of the chronic head congestion! I can't breath through both nostrils when I sleep. Which contributes to less restful sleep, which contributes to all the other stuff. I sneeze and blow my nose 20 times a day even when I DON'T have a cold. All symptoms of mould sickness by the by.

So it was 1:30 I think when I finally finished and got all my little packets of meds from the drugstore and went home. I just put all my stuff on my desk and then got in a cab and went to Asan Hospital. I went to reception and showed the stuff they helpful people of Dong In Hospital had given me. This very nice man took me to his office and even though his English was very limited, we managed to communicate in both languages and do what needed to be done. I have an appointment Friday at 9 AM with Dr. Yang. The coolest thing was Dong In had given me a CD with my x-rays, CT scan and MRA all on it. I was looking forward to posting the MRA on here. It's a 3D map of the blood vessels in my neck and head. Very cool and quite easy to read. I saw the aneurism before the doctor pointed it out to me. Unfortunately I was able to see everything on my computer EXCEPT the MRA. It's opened with a program I don't have. I'll ask Dr. Yang how to view it when I see him on Friday cuz it would be something deadly cool to post on here!

So I get a call from the boss right as I'm finalizing things with the man making my appointment. I call him back a few minutes later and explain the whole deal. It's after 2 and I tell him I don't know if I'll be able to make it for the first class or not. So he drives out and picks me up. I got back with plenty of time to get ready and teach. And by this time the blood vessel constriction meds must have been working because for the first time in 2 days, NO HEADACHE!

Work was pretty easy today and Mr. Shim, the boss, wrote a little something on the corner of my whiteboard for the students telling them to go easy on the noise cuz I'm sick or something like that. See what I mean? They are pretty good here sometimes. Even with the mandatory hagwon shenanigans, they're pretty good. And on top of everything else, after I finished my 4th class the middle school kids were arriving. Mr. Shim told me he was just going to allow them to study for their midterms so I could go home and rest. They don't have their exams for two weeks. So I'll be going home early for two weeks. Better yet, I won't be teaching a couple of my least favourite classes for two weeks! And best of all, 4 hours instead of 6 for the next two weeks! YEEHAW!!! THAT might be just the medicine my aching head needed!

So right now I'm taking about a dozen pills a day for various things. The head is feeling fine though I haven't done much exercise other than walking and haven't had much stress since the last headache sent me to Emerg. I remain positive about Friday. It's actually a lucky thing that this little lump in my head was found. Not sure but I imagine this gives me more options that are better for me. Like possibly treating it or cutting it out or something. I've known two very, VERY good men who died almost instantly from massive aneurisms and if that was what I was in for had this bubble not been found, I think I prefer things this way.

As yet I don't really know how serious it is. It could be nothing, it could require an operation. There's no use worrying but tell my bulging brain that! I'll just have to be patient until Friday. And even THEN I don't know if I'll really get all the answers I'm after. No doubt it'll put another red mark on the bank book though. Which pretty much forces me to stay right here where the stress and fatigue and mould and all the rest may just be major contributors to this little dilatation. There's probably no way of knowing. But at least it'll be easier than expected to finish out the month of June.

I'll keep you up to date on whether I will need a lobotomy or not. Boy would THAT spice things up on this blog, eh?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Headaches in life

So the teacher I took over for here, Anne, posted on Facebook, and I quote, "Did you know that Monday is my favorite day of the week?" And then added a "Happy Monday" to that almost as if she is purposely trying to bait the rest of the world into somehow breaking her Prozac bubble. I don't know her well, but I don't think that's Anne. I only met Anne after I had agreed to take the job and she was a short timer within days of finishing her tour of duty, so I don't know if she has always been so positive a person, but I get a feeling she is just like that. I've met a few people who I thought were just faking it but weren't, and a million who I thought were just faking it and were. Anne is probably the real deal. I know NOW that it would take some kind of relentlessly positive person to endure two years of this hagwon.

However, since I signed my contract, (her emancipation proclamation), she has been like a person released from prison on a technicality, posting pictures of the things she sees and appreciates every day almost as if they were unavailable to her for, oh I dunno, say about two years. And to be honest, I expect I will be the very same when and if I get out of this toxic environment. There's no way I will have been here for two years so there likely won't be any "Hooray for Mondays" posts on facebook forthcoming, but the air will smell sweeter and the grass will be greener to be sure!

So this one's going out to Anne: Here's how MY Monday was!

Saturday had been another entire day with a headache. Again suddenly brought on by exercising, raising the heartrate. It came on throbbing almost as bad as the push-up headache last Monday. The serious pain lasted about as long, 4 minutes or so, but it didn't go way down as fast. Stronger pain continued for a longer time. My whole body got weak, I got sick to my stomach and actually threw up a few times. I promised myself to go to the doctor the next day. But after a whole day of what felt like an extreme hangover, it got better. By Sunday I was still feeling a reminder of the pain in my head, but I got out and went shopping. I went to the pharmacy I was at on the Tuesday after the first headache and the congestion symptoms came on. On Tuesday I had been met there by a kind lady who spoke English well, but nonetheless I related my sinus and chest congestion to her in Korean. I also brought along a couple of other products to refill, foot spray and Gaviscon for heartburn/reflux. I totally forgot to get Aspirin! So the lady gave me some pills for the congestion saying, "Take one of these three times a day after meals." In English, bless her cotton socks! I don't know if the pills worked or not but I took them all at the rate she prescribed and I made it through my three-day week. I only had a relapse on Saturday after the pills were gone. So Sunday I went in for Aspirin and the guy there was a shining example of why I am so scared to go to the hospital.

I walk in and he's hobnobbing with about 6 other ajushis congregated around the counter. He puffs out his chest and in an exaggeratedly loud and authoritative voice says, "How can I help you? Or can you speak Korean? What would you like?" Since I think "Aspirin" is the same in both languages, I said in English, "Well, I need some Aspirin." He reaches onto the shelf behind him and says, "Aspirin, something like this?" and hands me a little box bearing none of the signs of Aspirin that I recognize. I opened it up and on the tin foil part of the pill packages I read, "Bayer." So I said, "Yup, this looks right." He then says, in the same even-if-I'm-wrong-you-have-to-believe-me voice, "Take one of these three times a day after meals." He knew absolutely nothing about why I wanted the Aspirin, but this was his firm assessment of my medical condition. Exactly like a lot of Korean doctors I have visited and heard stories of. Maybe he was trying to impress his buddies with his English skills.

Anyway, I took TWO of the Aspirin, not after a meal and they did the trick. For the first time in over a day, even the reminder headache was gone. I woke up Monday and still felt okay. Not perfect, but I had my Aspirin and I had my lessons planned for the week. So, off to the old salt mines I went. The first couple of classes were fine, but I started feeling a headache again. So I ate half a sandwich and took two Aspirin. Through the 3rd class the headache started getting worse and I started to feel some stomach issues. Just as the 4th class started I needed to go to the washroom. Suffice to say that THIS time the pounding headache was not set off by exertion, it came on while I was taking a leak! And this time the pounding lasted a bit longer than the 4 minutes. I'd say about 10. I was sweating profusely too. I went back to the classes, got Mr. Shim out of his classroom and told him I needed to go to the hospital. He was nice enough to drive me.

At the hospital I told the emergency doc much of the story, but, of course, not the entire thing. He did what I expected and immediately, which was unexpected. I gave them some blood and they gave me a CT scan. Then after the cat scan I was hooked up to an IV. The curse of having deep veins! It took two nurses 4 fumbling and kind of painful attempts to get an IV into a vein. They gave me a bag of what I assume was saline and a shot of something I think the doc said was to calm the nausea. After the boss had returned and I was in a bed in Emergency, while one of the nurses was messing around with the first attempt at finding a vein, I needed to throw up. I said to her in Korean and English that I needed to throw up. She couldn't do anything because the needle was in and blood would have shot out the catheter if she released pressure. But I insisted as nicely as I could then started dry, (luckily), heaving. Another nurse grabbed what she could find. I was on about my 6th dry heave and the pre-spits were coming up and I was swallowing them down, when I was given a pink, piggy shaped puke pot. What else can I say here but, OINK? I never did throw up. I think maybe the humour of the situation helped.

Anyway, the cat scan was negative, the blood test found everything absolutely normal except for high numbers in the fatty liver department, but not alarmingly high, just higher than ideal. I already knew about that. I mentioned the black mold and the doctor didn't seem to understand what I meant. He said fungus, but I think he thought I meant I had a fungus. I'm still not convinced the moldy apartment isn't at LEAST a contributing factor here. But he said he reckons these are exertion headaches and they are getting better and will eventually go away. I challenged his diagnosis by saying that the headaches were lasting longer and longer and being brought on by less exertion. A piss? That's not exertion! But he authoritatively stuck to his diagnosis. 80,000 won later I am at home with some drugs that he says will take the pain and nausea away if taken, you guessed it, three times a day after meals.

I took the first packet of pills after my dinner last night and had a night of fitful sleep. I was up several times, each time noticing that the headache had not yet disappeared. In fact it got worse every time I woke up. Now it's early in the morning, (up before 7 AM), and I still have a headache. So, yeah, happy Monday to me!

Now it's Tuesday. I, and two of my friends that know this whole sordid story, believe it's stress. I wish I could be more like Anne and forget about the little shits and concentrate on the good kids at work. I wish I could maybe force out of my mind the ridiculously bad luck of the past several years, getting screwed out of two jobs by unscrupulous business practices, the disappointments that amassed while in my own country that have made me a virtual refugee from it, yeah it'd be nice to just be able to take joy in all that suffering. But I'm not quite there in my journey to self-actualization and spiritual enlightenment yet.

So let's move on to some other things I find it hard to take joy in. I admit to being a bit of a Facebook junkie. I have a very limited social life here by choice. I don't want lots of friends because I want to use as much of my money as I can paying bills and debts at this time. So Facebook has to suffice. But something that I have found infuriating is the way heartless people will take a tragedy and LONG before the tears have stopped, use it to further their, (almost always), idiotic causes. Not long ago it was the fucking oil company flunkies just hours after the Fort Mac fire evacuations using Facebook to post their severely misguided memes about how the oil industry had cleaned up the city's excessive oil that needed to be harvested because it was harming the environment and how the oil industry had made heroes of the citizens of Fort McMurray. Now it's the anti-Muslim, anti-gun control, hateful shit twisters who are using the Orlando shooting to further their causes. "The gunman was a registered democrat, but just watch how republicans and gun lovers, (poor us), will be blamed." "He supported ISIS, but just watch how the media will blame things on automatic weapons." "Automatic weapons are not the problem. OBAMA is the problem!" "France banned fully automatic weapons and how's that workin' for them?" And now, for the most idiotic of all:

Because a 104-person shootout woulda been the way to go.

Probably the most interesting of the bunch, to me, is the way some people who hate Muslims are reacting. From my unprofessional research I've found a positive co-relation between Muslim and gay hatred, yet, I am seeing anti-Muslim activists, whose cause is on the decline I believe, clutching for this frilly, rainbow life preserver no matter how reluctantly. "A Muslim guy dislikes gay people so all Muslims want to exterminate gays. Let's get 'em!" It might be funny if it weren't so alarmingly ignorant.

Work, the internet, stupid people, ignorance, they're ALL huge headaches!

Addendum: It's now 1:30 Tuesday. The boss has asked me to teach at least 2 classes today. From 3:30 - 5:30. I told him that I had to go back to the hospital today. They wanted to keep me at the hospital for observation yesterday but I didn't want to pay for that. I told the doc I'd go back in today for follow-up. I said I'd get back to the boss after I found out what's on the schedule for me today. I have to get an MRA test at 3:00. That's to measure my veins and see if I might have an aneurism. I thought the CT scan could find them. Live and learn. As yet I still have a bit of a headache and I've now taken 3 of the pill packets the doc gave me yesterday. My new doctor, whose name I wrote down and somehow lost, explained that if it's not this, which it probably isn't, there are two other options. One is migraines, which are treatable and the other is something else. I didn't quite understand, but he said they are treatable too. I asked if it could be stress and he seemed much more supportive of that idea than the other doc was of the mold suggestion. At any rate, I'm guessing that after this, maybe tomorrow, we'll do tests for other stuff and hopefully get to the bottom of this. And the bottom of my bank account. This MRA is costing me about 200 bucks!

Addendum to the addendum: That MRA machine, Magnetic Resonance Angiography, was a trip! Not for the claustrophobic, lemme tell you! You go into a tube and all sorts of weird noises happen. It lasted longer than I expected. The results were pretty cool! A sort of computer map of the blood vessels in my neck and head. I expected they wouldn't find anything, but the doc showed me the picture, which rotated and moved in any way he wanted, and there was a lump on one of my blood vessels in the anterior area of my neck I think it was. A bulging blood vessel. Probably it's just that my blood vessels are as muscular as the rest of me. At any rate he said it was something, but it wasn't serious. So that was a relief. Then he said that the pain in my head was, indeed from swollen blood vessels. They get more blood to the brain, the brain expands, presses on the skull, throbbing pain. So he says to me, "You must avoid cardio vascular exercise." I had to get him to repeat that. Avoid exercise? Really? Next you're going to tell me to eat more pizza and drink more beer! It turns out that beer, in moderation, IS a good idea! It constricts the blood vessels and improves circulation. So my doctor has basically told me to stay home, watch the ball game and drink a couple of beers! See? I KNEW I was living right!

It's not so simple, unfortunately. I asked him if the expansion is because the brain isn't getting enough oxygen and he said yes. I told him, and actually SHOWED him my chest congestion that I have had since coming to Gangneung and mentioned that I am not as afraid of exercise as I may look. I have noticed that with this congestion, cardio is harder. The beginning of that hike is a killer and leaves me more out of breath than I think is healthy sometimes. I thought this might have to do with the chest congestion, but I thought that might just be because I was out of shape or getting old. He immediately set me up with an appointment tomorrow with a vascular specialist. I will probably be tested for allergies, sinus trouble and maybe even the mold by him or her. Who knows how much THAT's gonna cost? But I think we're zeroing in on an answer here. Probably I'll be paying 500 bucks to find out exactly what I have suspected all along. We will find out at 9:30 tomorrow morning. Until then I got some medicine that will constrict my swollen brain. But I can't take it until tomorrow! I STILL have a headache! Maybe I'll just self prescribe myself a couple of beers. Ahhh medicine!

Friday, June 10, 2016

I'm SO fired in Canada!

I made it through another week here! It's a bigger accomplishment each new week! Just settling down to a wind-down beer and some Hip.

It was a good news and bad news week here. I got Monday off so YEEHAW! That'll be the last holiday for quite a long stretch. I'll be working my full 30 hours of teaching every week until late summer. I really don't think I'll make it because not only am I ready to just walk away from this job, (I genuinely feel that way about once every shift), now the heat and mosquitos are cranking the stress up just a wee bit more. I hate summer in Korea with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. And things are made no easier when the air conditioner at work is on the blink, the dogs in the hood won't let you sleep, the kids are being their usual selves even after parents were called and informed of their unconscionable behaviour in my classes, and, wouldn't you know it, now that I've started FINALLY hitting that hill behind my place the way I had planned to since coming here, I am sick yet again! For a while I wondered about the cause and effect here. Was I getting sick due to lack of exercise, or was I not exercising because I'm always sick? I liked to think the latter, of course, but now I'm sure of it! I've started hiking at least three times a week. This has gone on now for a month. I have a route that I call the Tiger Loop. There's a place at the half way turn-around called Horangi Heondol, or Tiger Rock. I read the legend in Korean but didn't know what it meant. All I could put together was the name. No worries. It's about an hour long hike. The beginning is straight uphill and gets the lungs cleaned out, then it's up and down at a pace that I like. I will soon be jogging it I think. (But not the beginning.) Last time I did it, yesterday, my time was about 45 minutes. Nice sweat! I just said, "Screw the cold, or whatever the frig it is!" and went for it. I am sick, but I'm also sick of my body telling me what to do. No way, I, III am in charge here! And it's not a coughing cold so I didn't do too badly. It's a sinus and chest congestion cold and with the blood flowing and body temp up I blasted off some productive snot rockets! I'll do it again tomorrow.

I've shared pictures before on this blog. I thought the hill was called Dong San, or "Shit Mountain," but I don't think it is. Tiger Loop sounds much better. It has a lot of paths to it so I like that. I have explored several others and don't feel confident yet that I could find them all again if I tried. But it's getting my lazy arse out of the house in the morning. I love the smell more than anything! The pine is always there but there are various flowers blooming that add to the aroma. It's better than breathing in the moldy apartment air.

So, I went on Monday, the day off, despite feeling the onset of a cold. I had hiked the Saturday AND the Sunday of the weekend! The Sunday was about a 3 hour walk all over some places I wanted to see in Gangneung.

In order of appearance are the bridge to the aquarium and the futuristic eco-friendly park and facility where some meetings will be held during the Olympics in 2018. It looks like its funding has run out. Half finished projects, abandoned facilities and unkempt grounds. But it was a nice walk. Then right across the bridge from it was the home of not one, but TWO of the people who appear on Korean currency! Lee Yi is one. He's on the 5000 won note. A scholar, poet, philosopher and social reformer. His Mother, Shin Saimdang, is on the new Korean 50,000 won note. That's about a 50 and Lee Yi is on the equivalent to a fiver. She was a noted poet, artist, painter, embroiderer and calligraphist.

What I saw was exactly what I was hoping for! Nothing special. Except the gnarly old tree and the flowers. They didn't have a house that shouted, "HEY look at how awesome I am!" The Korean people could sure learn a LOT from a little visit to this place!

The other two pics were from one of the many offshoots on my path. Again, I think I posted a pic of this before here. But it wasn't quite finished back then. The pagoda is now finished. Here's a pic and the legend, in Korean and English for you. Nice, eh? Like I said, this place has some real beauty to it. And here's a pic of the fields I mentioned on the way to E-Mart with the mile of rose covered fence or so.

Today was fertilizer day so those fields, in the sweltering heat, didn't smell nearly as good as they did on the day I took this blurry pic! But I don't mind the smell of manure. There are far worse smells walking in any Korean city on a hot day, lemme tell you!

So anyway, on my hike Monday, I started off with the big hill and was still breathing heavily when I got to the first exercise stop. There are benches and exercise machines all along these trails for doing pull-ups, push-ups, bench press, sit-ups, and several exercises people just make up. lol. They even have walking machines. I can't tell you how often I've been hiking and seen walking machines on the hiking trails. What is up with that? Thing is, they're used! I just don't get that! But I just like to get the chest all warmed up and stretched out to begin the hike. As I've mentioned before, I have some chest congestion that started when I got here. I have had it before in Korea and really think it has to do with the black mold. But I'm not sure. I keep hoping that I'll get all sweaty and hot and just cough up a big clog and it'll be all cleared up. Hasn't happened yet. And on THIS day it was something far less positive. I stretched the pecs and got into my first set of 30 push-ups. I do the same at three other stations along the Tiger Loop. I don't remember how many I had reached but I had to stop because of a MASSIVE headache! When you have the worst headache of your life at my age, it's not a good thing. I stopped, sat on the bench, took off my hiking hat and grabbed my head for about 3 or 4 minutes until it stopped throbbing. For a while I thought I was going to pass out. I didn't envy the poor dudes who would have to heave my hulking corpse off the mountain either. I was seriously thinking that for a couple of minutes! Scary as shit!

But the pain almost totally went away as my heartrate levelled out. So I kept right on hiking counting this as just another symptom of long term lethargy. I DO still think it is. I've had this sinus junk floating around my head too. When I sleep it blocks the nostril of the side I'm sleeping on. Again, making it harder to sleep and adding to the whole out of shape, sick, tired or just lazy mystery. I think the last time I had really pushed the old mortal coil to work so hard was quite some time ago and the shock shook loose some of the sinus fluid. That's my unprofessional medical opinion. But on Monday I wasn't so sure. I made a point of taking it easy on the rest of the hike although I DID do some more push-ups and didn't have another headache. But on Tuesday in preparation for the work day, I started cleaning and cooking and doing lots of last minute lesson planning and suddenly, out of nowhere the headache came back. I also had some sniffles and fever that had worsened since the day before, and was totally exhausted, so I called in sick. First time I've done that, (legitimately), in ages! I have called in sick for hangovers a few times when I was just thoroughly disgusted with the people I worked for and had all but decided to quit, but I rarely miss a day of work for a cold. This was not a cold. I still haven't ruled out the mold thing. I was told by the boss on Wednesday when I went to work still unsure I should be there, that he knows a doctor, one of my students' parents, who could check me out and I told him I'd be interested if things don't get better. But things got better when I just put my foot down and went hiking Thursday morning. Today was fine, health-wise. A nightmare otherwise.

So I am probably not treating this incident with the balls out hysteria it may warrant. Medically, that is my way since having lived with my Grandmother and learned one of the most detested words in my vocabulary: hypochondriac. I will exercise vigorously this weekend and we shall see if this, "cold" disappears or not. I hope I'm right on the edge of just flushing this sinus and chest congestion out of my system. That'd be SOOOO nice! It would make exercising easier and in turn more beneficial and soon, as I expect, I'll be jogging this little hill and blasting the muscles at the exercise stops like a champ! If not, I've got a tumor or aneurism, or Zika virus, or mold poisoning. I STILL might get checked for THAT. But I get so overworked and soul-sucked during the week, I don't want to waste any time on my weekends going to hospitals.

Which brings up today. It was a three-day week. Should have been a piece of cake! But somehow every class had been rescheduled after the holiday the way I had expected EXCEPT for the worst class I have. I was supposed to have them one time this week on Thursday. The Dementors featuring the star of the show: Frank. So you can just imagine my utter horror when on Wednesday, I dragged my sick ass into work and was half way through the day, when completely unplanned for, the Dementors encroached upon my classroom. I didn't want to look like a dummy, so I checked things out before telling them they weren't supposed to be there. Sure enough, they were. And I not only hadn't spoken a blessing over myself beforehand, but I also had no lesson planned for this class! This class that can take a never-miss lesson and render it educationally and entertainingly futile with their utter disrespect for me and their disinclination to even play a GAME if it requires any instruction! So that was what I did! I taught a lesson that had never missed in the past. I had had a long, long weekend and was able to keep my patience longer than I would have normally by Wednesday, so we got through it, but these assholes took a lesson about movies, MOVIES, and made it tedious! Not just talking about movies, mind you! No! Actually creating some quizzes for the others on movies they've seen. I gave them all very easy to follow instructions on how to describe a movie and get the other kids to guess which one it was. Fun, no?

Well, we didn't find out that day. They wasted so much time fucking around that we didn't get to the quizzing. But I didn't give up. I told them next class to bring this stuff back knowing full well the girls would and the boys wouldn't. They'd tell me they had finished and then lost the sheets I had given them to write the quizzes down on. Three movie quizzes for the other students. This is an action movie, it has Arnold Schwarzenegger in it. It's about a cyborg who goes back in time to kill the savior of the world. In the end the cyborg loses, but he's not dead...

Yeah, I know, fun, right? These little assholes did their best to make it as UNfun as they could. That was today. It was all I could do not to just kick the whole class out of class. Some of the girls were making faces, the boys were their usual selves destroying the papers I gave them and throwing them around the classroom. Using the scissors I had given them to do almost anything but what I had provided them for. One boy was trimming his arm hair, one was dangerously using his like hedge clippers and inches from other students. People were being PURPOSELY as disrespectful as possible. But I am told by the owners that this can't possibly have ANYTHING to do with racism. It's just something else that a foreigner like me can't understand. They're not fucking assholes, I just can't understand them.

At any rate, I just managed to make it through that class on the thin hope that next week I will only get them on the Thursday, which is what should have happened THIS week. But the next class was not so lucky. There's this one kid who, like many in my debate classes, has chosen the format to do nothing because it's quite easy to do so. See, if you are on a team of 6 students, chances are one of them will be good and will do the work the teacher is asking all of you to do. So you do nothing and depend on that one student to do it all for you. This is what Koreans mistakenly refer to as communal thinking. It's the exact opposite! It's incredibly selfish and entitled thinking. Or, as I call it, asshole thinking. There's this one kid, a bully, to both males and females in the class, but not the standard bully. He's a bit more interesting. He is one of the most recent students in this class, and since he's new, I hadn't noticed the influence he had until one debate day when he completely threw the whole thing. See, one of the few good students who does the work for everybody is Jane. She's a plain Jane, unfortunately for her and in this appearance manic country, the kid I'm talking about, Eun Woo, is handsome and everybody likes him because of it. They laugh at unfunny things he says, they do stupid things he suggests, and they just grin and bear unbelievable treatment from him. One debate day, Eun Woo and Jane were on the same team. The rest of the team had done diddly because they were pretty sure plain Jane would pick up the slack for them and they could just use her work to make it look like they had actually given a shit about this debate. But Eun Woo was new. He didn't know she was so integral to their debate effort. He treated her the way he would normally treat someone so inferior to himself: he just brutally dissed her and when she tried to sit with the group, said things like, "Sorry, you're too ugly to be in this group. Fuck off."

Jane was in tears and I made her come back to class but didn't make her participate in the debate. This left the team of floaters completely without any relevant debate points, since Jane was the one with them all, and the other team, (which had a couple of workers/unpopular kids), DESTROYED them! I saw what happened and made the whole losing team do a huge homework assignment as punishment for losing so badly. I recall Eun Woo telling me he had done it on his hand dictionary, IN KOREAN!!!, not written it out like all the others had. I let him go but immediately regretted it. Since then he's been as useless as a screen door on a submarine in class. He's spent the majority of his time testing out MMA moves on other male students, speaking in Korean, probably dissing girls like Jane, and making jokes that everyone laughs at. His English level is actually VERY good. One of the highest in this class. But he's too concerned about his image to contribute to class. Today, as always, he was bullying the boys. I am a boy. And I have been roughed up by aggressive males and tried to play it off as horseplay when I secretly wanted this jerk to stop. I know what the boys in this class are going through with this kid. AND the girls. Today he was applying choke holds on a couple of the boys. Something I had seen him do before and cautioned him against for the umpteenth time. Today I saw him slap on a much better, (his skills are improving), choke hold to a student who is as in need of a popular friend as anyone ever, (if you know what I mean), and his not so beautiful face went red and I saw a little bit of panic there. I told Eun Woo to knock it off. He said, "Yeah yeah." Then slapped one onto another student who went red and was gasping for air. I AGAIN told him to knock it off and was given the thing I hate the worst. The newest FEMALE student, Su Ah, does the identical thing. These two recent releases from Korean National Reform School are the only two who have tried this with me. Eun Woo, being male, and catching me on a day when I'm underslept, underenthused and under the weather, will never do this again. I said, "Do you want to try your MMA on me?" I started walking over toward him. You know how things sort of get tunnelled out of your vision when rage takes over. I think I knocked aside a couple of chairs and desks to do so. Maybe with students in them. I dunno. I reached him and he was still trying to maintain his machismo. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," he said while raising an arm as if to brush me away. I grabbed that arm, lucky for him his left, and slapped on a wrist lock. I felt and heard some snap, crackle and pops. He wasn't going to just shake this one off. I said, "How's that feeling? HUH?" He said something in surrender. Don't remember what. I kept the lock on a bit longer to drive home my point. "You will not do this again will you? WILL YOU? PROMISE?" He promised. So I let go.

This is exactly what I was talking about last post. I was worried about this happening. And now it has. I would be fired tomorrow in Canada. No ifs ands or buts about it. But this ain't Canada. In fact, I had the best class ever with this particular class. I saw Eun Woo starting to do his usual physical domination games with other students, then stop. Partially because of the promise, perhaps, and partially because his left wrist was killing him, for sure! He was quiet and well behaved. For the first time ever. He even asked me later in the class if I was angry. I told him I am a teacher. I saw that he was interested in learning some B.J.J., (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), and now he knew some. I'm sure he'll never forget it. Unfortunately he'll probably use it on a classmate sooner or later. Hope not.

The best part about class today was that, although, as always, few were paying any attention, Jane was following closely and very attentively! Oh the others weren't goofing off as much as usual, which was very nice, but Jane paid extra special attention. I wonder why. And a few times in class Jane and Eun Woo has exchanges in Korean, but Jane seemed to mind less than usual. This was nice to see.

About half way through the class Eun Woo looked at me feeling his wrist and said nothing. I said, "Yeah that'll sting for a while. Just let me know if you'd like to learn any more moves." He was probably the only one who understood that. Except, deliciously, Jane. They are probably the best two in class. He declined my offer.

Okay, I admit to relishing this just a little bit even though I'm a giant dick for picking on a kid much smaller and weaker. But in NO way did he NOT deserve this, so I am totally justified. Thing is, my Canadian upbringing has me squirming. I would give a bit more of a crap if I had any plans to ever go back to Canada and teach, but I don't. And I think if I talked to Eun Woo's parents and explained what I had done, THEY would probably love me for it. This is Korea, and because it's still run by corrupt men, not emotional women, a guy can get away with a bit of well deserved violence like this.

Having tried to justify my actions as much as I have, I still have to get the hell out of this toxic situation! What if I do this again? I don't see classes behaving better. Just begging for rear naked chokes the whole works of them! I don't think I can have a stressless day of classes until I make every single student tap out for fuck's sake! That's just not what I signed up for!

But having said that, there are the good ones. And they're still in the majority. I'd get the hell out of this place if they weren't. Heart-warming kids who make me hold myself back from selfishly hugging them for a quick pick-me-up. Maybe I should. I think I don't because I don't want to get too emotionally invested here before I unceremoniously exit stage left. That's the plan and it has been from the beginning. I don't deny HOPING that this would be the hagwon with the heart of gold, (as rare as the whore with the heart of gold), but you just can't bank on that!

So, here's the good news, finally, I have been paid some interest by the ROK, (Republic of Korea), military. I got a response from a military academy! They are asking about me! Imagine that! Adults, which are my specialty, with discipline, which is what is lacking in my students now. If I am allowed classroom autonomy there, I'd never leave! And they'd never want me to! We're in the initial stages of things and I won't start, if accepted, until Sept. 1, but it's something! Something to give me hope. Bleak as this situation is, it's probably good experience that will help.

So I guess that's a positive note to end on. Though things are as negative, or more negative than ever. There's still a hope for positivity.

Is that a straw? Let me grasp for it...

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Gordon Downie Anti-Scalper Law

Well it's what equates to Memorial Day weekend here in Korea. And we get a 3-day weekend! Woohoo! Am I being ungrateful to wish this long weekend happened on one of the weeks when I have my worst class 3 times? We get the Monday off next week and that's one of the days I teach the Dementors on my bad weeks. M/W/F. I only get them once next week. On Thursday. Can we, um, remember the people who died for this country on Thursday? Please?

Yeah, I'm being a bit ungrateful. But I'm not much different from anyone else here. Or, let's face it, in our countries. Most of us don't give much of a thought to the people who lost their lives for us. We just like the extra day off. For drinking. Which is what I'm doing now. You will notice from my random segueing from topic to topic, I'm sure. So speaking of the price of eggs in London...

No, I'm not that drunk. But like we do on a long weekend, I'm having a few beers. And if I have a few more, there just might be more forgetting than remembering going on here for the Memorial Day weekend. But, and I know, I know, this is a bad sign, I'm drinking because I have had a week I'd really LOVE to forget! And you'd know that if you had read my previous, random segueing post. I treated a student much the way I was trained to deal with drunken vagrants in the emergency holding rooms of the various Calgary hospitals I guarded for. I have tackled, jumped, restrained, tied up, cuffed, and actually engaged in physical interaction with people in my capacity as a security guard. I have hurt people, put them in painful wrist and elbow locks and the like. I have never felt guilty about doing so, because it was required and always done in response to equal or greater escalation on the part of the person I was subduing.

I am drinking because I don't know if I can really say that about the kid I gave the bum's rush outta my classroom this past week. I don't think I hurt him, but I was in that adrenalin amped state of mind that might have lead to some pain if things had escalated. Luckily, he didn't push things. But I sit here wondering what would have transpired if he had.

Add to that the various other stressors I've had this week and I am in DIRE need of a good long weekend! So here it is! YAY!

I just got home, glad to be done with the week last night and didn't do much of anything but watch some TV. I ate my late dinner and, as always, paid for it. Had a hard night of reflux. Then the damn choir of tiny hounds in my neighbourhood started warming up at 7 AM. So I knew I was screwed for any catching up on sleep. I decided to go to E-Mart and stock up on groceries. I am out of almost everything. I half forgot about the damn bank amalgamation notice I had received! KB bank and Hanna bank here in Korea are amalgamating. For this they need to suspend all banking services for 4 days. I sort of half remembered this, but thought that it must be referring to only things like paying bills or the sort of things you do in person at the bank. SURELY the card would work at E-Mart. If not the bank machine? No? Well, I got up at 8, went to E-Mart and found out, yup, everything. I had taken a good hour shopping for all kinds of stuff I wanted and needed. Had a full cart. A fan, a new keyboard so I can write Korean characters, the first bottle of Chianti I've found here in Gangneung. A lotta stuff I was looking forward to getting back to my place. Then I just got stuffed at the check-out counter. Like Shaq rejecting some 6 foot guard! NO GROCERIES FOR YOU! I tried to go to the bank machine but that didn't work either. And because the whole place was BALI BALI, (in a big hurry), I just left the whole works of it and walked out. I went to the little Lotte Mart near my house and got the essentials. Instead of 160,000 spent at E-Mart, I spent 40,000 at Lotte Mart. Cuz I had the cash and didn't have to use my card.

But, let's not just be all negative here! I had to walk to the E-Mart this morning and I always go by way of the huge farming area in town here. Today it was the first time I'd been there for a while during the day. At night the frogsong from the flooded rice paddies is a nice accompaniment to a good, bracing walk, but I hadn't seen the progress of the crops for a while. It was amazing! Things are growing fast! Not just the rice. The corn, though there's just a little of it, was thick shafted and strongly erect for the ears to start growing. The smell of frogspawn and fertilized, flowering crops was wafting warmly in the air on my walk to E-Mart. The sloshing water splattering its way onto the carpet of hair-like rice plants created a foam that washed over the eggs of insects that I don't even know. Big, white birds were mating at a dangerous distance and for some reason I was singing Barry Manilow in my head. "Love is in the Air."

And, NOT just to prove the point of my previous post, a couple of old Ajushis sharing soju on the back of a Bongo truck, (who had probably been working since WAY before I was up), said, "Hello! Anyong Haseyo!" and I waved to them and greeted them in Korean. They didn't laugh their asses off! I was breathing in the combination of sunshine, crops and, the wonderful perimeter of the fields that the city of Gangneung had garishly festooned with thousands and thousands of fragrant roses. It was not as nice as the piney air of Dong Mountain where I hike, but it was a gorgeous change of pace. There are many things in this country that are just beautiful! And I guess I don't talk much about them. This might be because normally, while enjoying them, one of the BAD things jumps up and bites me in the face!

I was in my glory, washing away the memory of the previous, hellish week and shopping for food. The only kind of shopping I really enjoy. And going back a little bit to last night, I felt a little ache in the throat all day long. I thought if was probably a result of overusing it the night before after the previously described exchange, or possibly from sleeping in a craned neck position or snoring more aggressively than usual. I would guess the latter due to the dogs wailing. And, as an aside, I believe that the little, white, RAT can hear me snoring and actually barks when I do. That is when I get the really helpful sleep, and, since she is waking me up from it with her wailing, I've been getting hours of sleep but none of the really good REM stuff. That's my theory anyway. Anyway, I decided to use one of my Neo Citron packets last night. It's medicinal hot lemon tea for anyone who doesn't know. And it knocks me out normally! I mean I can sleep like a log! But I opened the box, which was in the shipment I got from Canada and I hadn't checked it yet, and inside I found a Vicks inhaler and a razor! BONUS! That was a nice pick-me-up! Two things I can't get here. Gillette razors here are crap compared to the ones in Canada. And there ARE no Vicks inhalers. Have to go to Thailand to get something similar but not quite the same. Inhaled a bit from it just now. But, the medicine must have worn off a bit in the Neo Citron. I was up WAY too early and I still have that nagging throat soreness. Not to the point of a cold, but way past the, "what the hell is wrong with me?" point.

So I was in a very good mood, mostly because I wasn't working, and also because it was a nice day and the air was fresh and being a bit of a Pantheist, fresh air can pretty much serve as good wine to me. AND, I had some good wine! Chianti! Can't find fava beans, or liver for that matter, but I had Chianti! It was shaping up to be a really good day of recovery. Then I got to the check-out counter. My card was refused at the counter and the bank machine. I had to just unpack my packsack and E-Mart bag, which were both chock-a-block full! People were looking at me like I was an asshole costing them valuable seconds in the check-out part of their shopping experience.

Now I'm in a bad mood and the walk back through the very same fields of wondrous nature became a fetid swamp full of bugs and pests. I got home and got online and found that the greatest boxer of my lifetime had died. These things on their own don't amount to much but when you add them together... I started thinking about the sad news about Gordon Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip this week announcing that the band name was apt because he's going to die soon of cancer. Tragic, but still hipper than most bands ever. And he's not going down without a fight! They're doing a cross Canada tour before he tragically checks out. Brain cancer! If that's not the most tragically hip thing about the Tragically Hip EVER, I don't know what is. The brain behind the poetry of this great Canadian band is being eaten away by cancer. Let that sink in.

Now, there's just another thing to make me go "Grrr grrr GRRRRRR Hulk Smash!!!" You see, now that this beloved Canadian band is doing one last tour, rather than do what should be done and allow the fans to see them one last time, Canada, in its present state, is saying, "Fuck you!" to its citizens yet again and allowing the scumbags of the country to buy up all the tickets and price the regular Canadians right out of the market for them. Oh sure, big fans will sell their houses or hockey card collections to see this last concert, but this is absolutely not what Gord would want, nor is it the Canadian thing to do. Justin Trudeau said he respects the hell out of Gordon Downie, so how bout doing something? How about making this the once and for all removal of these bottom feeders who just cash in on the artistic love of music in the least artistic way they can? Let's keep these capitalist tone deaf, money grubbing, fucks out of the music industry forever in Canada and give Gord the send off he would probably like the most! How about instead of wasting time in the House of Commons with tit bumps and fucking national anthem adjustments, let's do something for the majority for a change! Let's get rid of these ticket scalpers in music AND sport! There is no fucking way a person should spend a month's salary on a concert or a hockey game! Let's call it the Gord Downie law. How 'bout that? That would be a fantastic way to commemorate Memorial Day instead of drinking beer and forgetting your problems, like I'm doing right now.

This is just one of the many great songs we all love.

I really think the Hip is the hardest band to choose my favourite song from. The Eagles? AC DC? Pink Floyd? Nope I think I can choose from them. "I Can't Tell You Why," "It's a Long Way To the Top," "Comfortably Numb." But try as I might, I just can't choose my favourite Hip song. Too many.

I am honestly listening now and my eyes are sweating. I remember walking through the agora of my university, Lakehead, in Thunder Bay, hearing the Hip for the first time when they were absolutely unheard of. I'd like to say it was New Orleans is Sinking or Little Bones or Long Time Coming or Ahead By a Century or So Hard Done By or Boots or Hearts or Grace Too, or one of their many recognizable songs I heard them singing, but I saw them singing a song I can't for the life of me remember, stopped, watched them even though I was late for class already, thought the lead singer is a spaz but this band is going places, stayed for 1 1/2 songs and ran to class. And now I look at that as one of the worst mistakes of my life. Ahead by a Century? I have to say, at this time, it could change tomorrow, my favourite Hip song might just be Ahead By a Century. No. Probably not. Never mind.

Know what I mean? You have a band like that, don't you? They have so many awesome songs that have inspired you, soothed you, fired you up, made you think, maybe made you dance, did all the things music is supposed to do and all the while becoming more important to you than 100 other people who have more money and power than these far superior souls. And we know they don't even care about the money. That's why we like them.

Well it's time to give back to one of them. Do something for him in return for all the joy he has brought to us. At one time people sold tickets to people for concerts. NOW people sell tickets to scumbags who have created their jobs out of nowhere for fair prices. They make those prices Unfair in proportion to how much the people want the tickets they have hoarded. It's time to remove these middlemen from the rightful enjoyment of artistic pleasure and joy that we all deserve and that pretty much all these artists do their thing for.

Instead of wasting time with boob bumps and changing a word or two in our antiquated national anthem, how 'bout let's make Justin Trudea, who has expressed his respect for Gordon Downie, make the brand new Gordon Downie law against legal ticket scalpers in Canada. And let's make that include the ridiculous prices for NHL hockey tickets that allow only the rich to attend our national sport any more.

Just an idea.

And I just thought I'd add this for fun. The guy on the left is Colin James. Best live concert I have ever seen. Never heard of him, right? The guy on the right is Jeff Healey. Heard of him? If you have it's probably from Roadhouse. Blind, lap guitar player just might be enough for a Canadian to get some attention. Well he's no longer alive either. There are spectacular artists in Canada going unnoticed for the same reasons these scum sucking ticket scalpers should be done away with. Give the gift of music to the future generations and do something. While we still can.

Just one more.

And one more. Colin James should be a superstar!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Did I Quit? Not sure.....

I shouldn't be starting a post at this time. It's almost midnight and even though I don't work till 3:30 tomorrow, if you've been reading my posts, you'll know that I have to try my best to keep similar hours to the new dog in the hood. I've finally seen it. A little, white poodle. Big surprise! I've known a thousand poodles and two were actually dogs. They are a different species. I don't care what breeders say. These are not dogs. Except the two I knew who were. And they had some kind of rogue genetics. I haven't had a decent sleep since the weekend because of this little bleached bundle of cacophony! Every waking hour making undogly noises!

What else could combine for the perfect storm? Well, my water is absolutely disgusting here today. I don't know what happened but the street in front of my apartment flooded and all day and all night a crew was repairing it. My water is all squirty and brown now. You know the way it is when there's air in the pipes. For a guy whose two staples are pasta and bread, this is an emergency! It's after 12 and they're still squirting water and sweeping all the mud off my street outside as I type. Noisily.

And, of course, this is the week when I have my worst class 3 times so I knew it was going to be tough. I don't like to give anyone so much power in my life but I have one student nicknamed Frank who is the Bart to my Homer. I constantly want to wrap my hands around his little throat and make him say, "GAAAAAKKKK!" like Bart! But honestly I can't even say I dislike this kid. He's just a frigging asshole in class! And he encourages others to join him. But this post is not about Frank.

It was hot today and I stopped at my favourite coffee shop on the way to work, the way I almost always do. The lady there is just very nice. We haven't said more than a couple of words other than, "Americano jusseyo," and "Kamsamnida," but I get a super good vibe from her. I think she likes me too. Today I figured I'd just get the hot Americano, which is 500 won less than iced, because I could always just get a cold glass of water at work when I needed it. So I took my hot coffee to the bank machine.

Wanted to pay down some debt a little bit more today. Payday was supposed to be either the end of last month or the beginning of this one. But, as always, when I checked the bank machine, there was no salary in my account. The place I work for has been nice enough to offer me bi-monthly payment, which I really LIKE, but they are always late. So I couldn't make a payment on the debt I accrued because of the whole Indonesia fiasco. Yup, still paying off THAT massive mistake. Have to wait a little while.

But probably not just a day or two. No, that would not be the case for this perfect storm of a day. I was notified that my bank and another were merging and that my banking privileges will be suspended for four days. As you might expect, the four days are the Saturday, Sunday, Monday and the Tuesday of the long weekend. I will work the Tuesday, but still can't bank. On the bright side, it's a long weekend here! YAY! If I only had some dough so I could do something! Or a functioning bank so I could get at my dough so I can do something. I have to make sure I go to the bank machine tomorrow and take out enough money for the next 4 days. A long weekend. Still no plans. Cuz I just might be quitting my job...

Yeah. I know. It's building.

I get to work with my piping hot Americano and sit in my usually decent temperature classroom. I notice it's a bit more sweaty and my arse is sticking to the pleather seat a bit more than usual. Yup, you guessed it, the air conditioner, which never really WAS that great, is now blowing hotter air than there is outside the window. Dripping onto the floor too. And I haven't taught a class yet!

I have a massive three game series of spitball tic tac toe with my wonderful little kiddies, and they not only loved it but they outdid themselves coming up with answers to some pretty tough phonics questions not realizing it because they were so into the game. I don't have my two worst classes so I think this day is going to go great! At least it's starting off that way! But I notice a steady stream of sweat down the crack of my back and ass all through the tic tac toe. The undershirt soaks up the sweat so it doesn't show through the shirt I'm wearing but the underwear is not so absorbent and I fear the sweat and salt stains might appear on my pants later in the day. Not only that but the heat has loosened me up gastro-intestinally and I am only in the first class of the day.

My second and third classes are chock fulla students so even if the air con was working, the heat would be stifling. And we did some fairly physical activities as I am wont to do.

My fourth class was a small one and they had a test today so I spent a lot of the class in my pleather chair not sweating and drying out the wardrobe. But then, about 5 minutes before the end of class, it hit. Like some coagulated shit had melted in the heat and all rushed to my twitching sphincter hammering on it to set it free! "Okay, if you're all done, you can go a few minutes early. Bye!" I haven't done that before. But I grabbed 8 Kleenexes, changed my shoes, (because we can't wear our teaching shoes in the bathrooms), and ran down the impossibly long hall. I chose the middle stall, the only one with a sit down toilet, and struggled to sit down on it. You see there is enough room in the stall for, say, a jockey, but not for me. I actually have to leave the door open while I disrobe below the waist and can only JUST close the door as it presses against my knees as I sit on the toilet. But it's all worth it! What a feeling!

Now I hear outside the door some footsteps. A man, with, (I can smell it), a smoke, comes into the can. Bear in mind I have 10 minutes between classes. I can't wipe the usual way by twisting. There is not sufficient room in this Vietnamese torture hotbox of a stall for me to do that. I have to wait until the man outside finishes doing his duty before I can open the door to the stall and to the bend forward and wipe technique. No choice. So I wait. And wait. This must be a long cigarette. A 100 I'm guessing. I open the door and check if the coast is clear. He's gone. I wipe and rush back to class and find the place in an uproar because for the first time EVER I am a couple of minutes late. I don't know if anyone noticed the wet spot on the bottom of my right pantleg. Right around the shoe. It seems the previous, or previous PREVIOUS, or who knows how long before me, user of the stall was one of these notorious Korean spitters. The floor where the bottom of my pulled down pants had rested, was covered in gob from some dude who couldn't hork his lugies between his legs like any normal, courteous male of the species. Spit stained pant legs. I'm not making this up!

I ask the class if anyone has done their homework. You see, last class they were negligent in their studious duties and basically just talked with each other in Korean the whole class. Interestingly, the lesson was on this brand new TV commercial in China that has been labeled the most racist ad of 2016. Here it is.

As I have said, my students' behaviour has been increasingly disrespectful and I have pinpointed one, and only one, difference between myself and the other three teachers at the place I work: they are all Korean and I'm not. I have no less experience, skill, charisma, or ability as a teacher. I definitely have less authority, (I'm not as scary), because I don't speak Korean and I can't call their parents, but I have demonstrated numerous times that I will make the 3-second walk to another teacher and tell them if someone is being a little creep and THEY will take matters into their hands. They're good about that, all three of them! Tell them what's going on and the student ends up in bowing apology or tears. Yet in most of my classes, (not the kiddies), the middle school kids will not abandon their freedom to go full on substitute teacher with me until I invoke the Korean co-teacher warning. Even further, some of them will wait until I deliver. Or boot them outta class. Kicking them out of class is not enough though. As I have said, they just never go when told. And even when they do go, it does no damn good. I have to bump it up a notch by calling one of the three true authority figures into the situation. For some reason, after doing this several times, nobody thinks I will do this!

What else put me in a HULK SMASH mood today?

I had the worst meltdown of my English teaching career tonight. I'm not proud of it, but I have to say, (whispered: I shoulda tried this like 4 months ago!). Go a little ballistic, pop a few eyeball blood vessels, raise your personal violence against students bar a little bit, and it's astounding how any previously organized disobedience will be postponed!

I have built up my defense for this crime sufficiently, I feel, so here it is: I have now physically removed a student from my classroom as I would have done a violent patient in the psych ward of one of the Calgary hospitals I worked security for. I actually applied, by rote, the elbow hold escort technique used for just such a purpose. I am relieved, and my student is lucky, I didn't apply any pressure point or joint holds I also learned work pretty well. But I was actually in perfect positon to. Without ever a thought. That's the power of training! In two swift moves that seemed like one I could have maneuvered the elbow I was holding into an uncomfortable position, taken the hand and locked the wrist into Uncle calling authority. But I didn't. Thank God! This is a kid! I've never used this technique on a psyche ward patient because THEY are kids too. Drunk assholes in Emerge. That's it. But I was fully positioned and within a snake-strike quick transition to do so. And that's why I'm up till 2 AM drinking tonight. The road clean-up crew finally left at 1.

I'm not proud of this incident. In fact I had to walk the halls for a good amount of time before I went back to class. I was fired up. The adrenalin was unmistakeable. I had lifted this boy by his chair, a very heavy chair, with just my left hand. Right off the ground. He fell and I had picked him up on an easily accessible elbow lock, or wrist lock position. He had no idea.

This is not what I want to go down on the job here, needless to say! And this was not even one of the students who had rightfully earned this sort of treatment, like Frank. This was the wrong kid who had said the wrong thing at the wrong time. What was it? Well I'm glad I asked.

This boy is one who I have had no equal to. In fact in this hagwon there have been numerous unequaled phenomena! Almost as if this is a cosmic gathering point for the extraordinary! I have never seen anyone like this boy groping, feeling, fondling, stroking, sucking, (well okay not sucking but that would most certainly have followed), other boys! I don't care that he is obviously gay, though he won't realize it until later in life and maybe never be allowed to own it... what I am concerned about is the displays of affection. I would not allow them from a male to a female for vice versa either. Even female to female, what this kid was doing was over the top. And forget whether it was sexual, I was trying to teach an English class at the time for fuck's sake!

I don't think I need to defend myself. This kid was a multiple offender. And today he was up to his old shenanigans. Fondling another boy and I just said, for the umpteenth time, "Okay, Oliver, sit over here," and pointed to a chair at least one desk away from another male. He immediately replied, "Kae sekiya...." This is a Korean term which means "dog baby." Or in my case, pretty much son of a bitch. But I let it slide. Not for the first time! Other students had said this in my classes. I allow swear words sometimes because they're natural. But when they're directed at me... the stakes are raised.

I tell him again, move to the other seat! He says again, "Kae sekiya..." I don't remember what I said until I somehow worked my way around to, "Oliver maybe you can explain to me what Kae Sekiya means..." and grabbed his chair and him and lifted him up out of it. The next couple of seconds were a blur of martial arts but I disengaged and he almost went face first into the closed door. I opened the door and escorted him out. I told him to go home. Knowing he wouldn't. Then I thought about addressing the shocked class but didn't. The right call. I went out of the class to get a breath and de-adrenalize. But Oliver was right in my path. Shit! As I walked past him I said, (like a five-year-old), "Right now I want to punch you so hard in the face!" And I waved my fist in his face! I am still laughing about that. But I bet Oliver is not. Poor kid.

Yeah. This is a clear sign that it's time to get the fuck out of this place. Seriously NO work I have ever done has driven me to this state of disengagement! And to be Captain fucking Obvious, that is scary! What if someone does something worse? Like I see Frank punching a girl in the face. I know it sounds horrific but I have SEEN this over here in Korea. I was able to NOT snap the last student, Ben, in half like a twig for doing so, but if this happens here and Frank were to engage with, for instance, one of my little kiddies, I'd throw him out the fucking window. And as much as he might, (no, absolutely DOES), deserve it, I'd be an asshole to do that.

I talked to the bosses here and they have assured me that they will do everything they can to fix the situation. I am inclined to allow them their futile attempts, just to solidify two things: They are wrong, and they are wrong. But long after it is plainly obvious that they are wrong, I am hoping to escape this contract and move on up to a deee luxe apartment in the sky. SKY here in Korea means Seoul National, Korea, and Yonsei University. They are the three top ranked in the country. I wouldn't put out a contract from any one of them by pissing on it. That's the way things are here. The reputation allows you to coast. I'm trying, and have been trying for my whole career here, to find a job at a place where they are trying to improve their prestige by doing what is educationally solid. A low ranked university that is doing what no other place has ever tried: educating!

If not I'll take a position at a Korean military English school. Nobody can deny they are spectacular soldiers! And Christians! And cult followers! And snake oil buyers. And diet followers. And plastic surgery getters. And, to come round circle, foreigner despisers. Because they are spectacular obeyers. Despise foreigners and you are COOL! You are funny! You are patriotic! I know how retarded that sounds. And, I mean that in the sense of a mind that has been retarded, or slowed. But check out what Koreans think is funny. You think Jerry Lewis was infantile! Pretty much just make someone look stupid or inferior and be LOUD while doing it, that sums up 99% of Korean humour.

HEY! That sums up 99% of the bad behaviour in my classrooms too! There are some people trying to be funny! But it goes deeper. They are, as unbelievable as this sounds, scoring points with their dim-witted friends by "bravely" standing up to the foreign dogs and showing their patriotism. Now I know there will be dissenters out there but this is not such an old philosophy over here. In fact being completely racist to other cultures is not considered racist a large amount of the time. You can't blame the people. They don't know the difference between white and Asian sometimes, so racism is not as clearly cut as it is in the countries more sensitive to it such as Canada.

I have tried to prepare the very racist average Korean for foreigners that will be necessary for the survival of their people, which they all place paramount in their existence, but they have been largely unapologetic.

I used this survey of countries who would like to have a member of another race as their neighbour and who would not as a topic for discussion in two classes that took almost 3 hours to formulate 6 questions about this, that Chinese video and the question of racism. Hours and hours of very VERY easy conversation. They composed sentences, asked and received answers. No follow-up questions were asked. I could have a student admit to murder in class and their conversation partner would not pursue the topic! They'd move on to the next question because their goal is to finish, not to learn.

Anyway, I stayed late after work and talked with the owner of the hagwon where I work. She tried to suggest that possibly the teaching skills of her and the other two Korean teachers were what allowed the kids to be such assholes in my classes and not theirs, but every suggestion she made, I had tried and it had failed. I suggested putting a camera in my classroom but she doesn't like that idea. Because a camera would cost money. But her lame excuse was that it would make the students too nervous to speak English. Personal research, and cameras in hagwons nationwide show that NOT to be the case, but the boss is the boss.

As pointed out before, I doubt I would be in this situation at all if I was allowed the free reign in the classroom that I had been promised. The first few months when I had it, I had none of these problems at all. Even Frank wasn't bad. It's only been since she has tried to make me teach the way she teaches that these problems have arisen. I have students in these classes that don't have a high enough level of English to be in a class taught by a native English speaker. Several. But what the hell, throw them in there and make some more money, right? And back when I still thought the promise of classroom autonomy wouldn't be broken I decided to try an organized, low level textbook for these classes. I had good results from using Interchange Intro for a couple of lessons. The boss put the kibosh on that though. She referred to it as, "Giving up" on the students. Well now that there is organized mutiny in my classes, do you think it just might be time to "give up" on this ludicrous shit?

But try to put that to her even in a kind way. I brought up these successful classes of mine and that the kids were too busy engaging in the exercises when they understood them to try to impress other students by pissing off the foreigner. She got enraged and launched into a tirade on whether or not I know what's going on in Korea. Do I watch the Korean news? I don't have a TV was what I said, not what I wanted to reply, that watching the Korean news was the best way NOT to find out what is going on in Korea. She then asked if I read newspapers and again, same story. I told her I get my info from the internet, which she scoffed at and asked me what some current stories were. What were the people of Korea concerned about? I mentioned the girl stabbed in the Kangnam subway station and violence against women issues and I mentioned economic issues, which are always a concern. I DIDN'T mention that there is a common belief that the inability of Koreans to work well with foreigners is at the heart of their recent economic downturn. The U.N. Secretary General, Korean, Ban Ki Moon said that himself. I mentioned a recent suicide, which is a huge problem in Korea, in which a college student jumped off a building and landed on another guy. She didn't know about that story. She brought up a couple other stories, which I had heard about. The point she was unsuccessfully trying to make, and she continued to unsuccessfully make it anyway, was that she has observed that I do not have a very good understanding of Korea. She was insulted that I insinuated that the only variable in the situation we are in at work is that I am not Korean. She is convinced that that has absolutely nothing to do with it, but is shocked at the behaviour, can't even imagine the angels of her classes doing such things, but has not a single possible explanation for it. So I brought up what I call the Korean fuck you hello. I didn't call it that to her but explained how when young Koreans are in a group, they often pass a foreigner and score points with their friends by saying hello, getting the foreigner to respond, then laughing their asses off as if they'd just mooed at a cow and it had mooed back. It's never when they are alone and it's usually, hey what a coincidence, kids around middle to high school age who play this game. Again the rage. She started to try again to defend her nation and I interrupted her saying this has happened to me a thousand times if it's happened once. Almost every time I left my dorm room my last year in Gwangju, it happened. "Can you let me talk? Will you let me talk?" she was saying. I said, "Sure. You're wrong but I'll let you talk." So she explains that the Korean people she loves and knows so much better than I are just trying to innocently practice their English.

I looked at her and said, "Do you think it's possible that maybe I, and the millions of other foreigners to whom this has happened a million times, are stupid enough to have never considered this?" She was trapped. To answer yes would be to call all the foreign victims of the fuck you hello stupid. Racist. To concede that we can tell the difference between a genuine friendly hello and the fuck you hello would be to concede racism on the part of her fellow countrymen. I don't know if that point sunk in or not but I continued by saying that I often say hello to people who genuinely greet me. I had done so to a little girl riding her bike down the street that very day and told the boss so. I said that the fuck you hello is being rude to foreigners to score points with your friends by exhibiting what passes for humour here in Korea, bravery and even in their mixed up little minds, patriotism. I then put forth the theory that being rude to me in my classroom could possibly be a way for some of my students to score points with others. But that just could not be the case. So I said, well whether it is or not, they need to be made aware of the fact that to a person from a country sensitive to racism, rudeness can be perceived as racism and in a couple of years this city where we live will be full of these sensitive foreigners, (for the 2018 Olympics), and these rude-to-foreigner-for-completely-non-racist-reasons Koreans. THIS is an issue that someone just might want to suggest to the TV news or the newspapers. I shouldn't have to be teaching it at a hagwon. On that we agreed.

Anyway, she promised to call some parents, (which she may or may not do), and told me that Frank may not even be in class on Friday. I still don't know if my notice was taken seriously or if they are just trying to placate me and string me along a little while longer here. I am genuinely worried that I will snap like that again and do something worse to one of the students. I would think the hagwon boss would be too. But, though she has no trust in my teaching abilities, no trust in my intellectual abilities, no trust in my knowledge of Korea or Koreans, she trusts that I won't assault one of her kids. Or could it just be the money? Hmmmmm....

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Canadian House of COME ONs!

Big inhale..... SIGH.

As if someone has dared them, the buffoons in the Canadian House of Commons who brought you a week or two of "Elbowgate," have moved on to something even less representative for the people they are supposed to be representing: the gender neutrality of our national anthem.

Okay, as I have said before, the only place I think that song has any business is at international events like the Olympics or pancake eating contests, or world wars. I think it's a little too hooray-for-us, brainwashy otherwise. I also hate all those ads about how we do things in Canada. Mostly for beer. You know the ones... Here's a tip: apology is an act of humility. Saying that we apologize more than other nations is bragging and therefore contradictory. BTW, did you notice how he comments on the beaver being our national animal. Hah!

When I was a little kid, I mean in kindergarten and grade 1, I used to sing the anthem at the start of my school day. Even then I thought two things: 1. "What do these words mean?" and 2. "Isn't this a little bit braggy?"

So what DO the words mean and why it posing as a parliamentary issue to change them? Here are the words to the anthem of my country:

So let's analyze this, shall we? I really shouldn't be singing it since it IS my native land, but no longer, (largely for reasons I'm on about today), my home. The second line was the confusing one to me. It's one of those backward sentences cuz I guess, "Command true patriot love in all our sons," didn't fit the tune. Still no less confusing. Commanding patriot love is sort of taking a little bit away from the glorious and free part, don't you think? North Korea commands patriot love from its citizens. That's why they truly believe Kim Jong Il got 5 holes-in-one his first time golfing.

And if it's TRUE patriot love, well it shouldn't need commanding, should it? I reckon they just needed another word to say on that note. "TRUE" is a good national anthem word! For the same reasons it's a good political word. Let's move on.

With glowing hearts, (that's all, we're just a country full of E.T.'s up here), we see thee rise, (what are we a land or a cake?), the true north strong and free. There's that word, TRUE again. With the word FREE. Other than "O" and "Thee," the words TRUE and FREE seem to be the focus of the song. Can you guess why?

"From far and wide," used to mean from the far and wide expanses of just Canada. USED TO. Now we have more people from all over the world than probably any other nation. At least per capita. And with the favouritism shown to them it's no wonder, but that's for another post.

"We stand on guard for thee." This was another confusing part. What does it mean to stand on guard for my country? Was I promising something here? Was this a verbal contract? Was I being recruited for some sort of guard duty without my knowledge? I suppose this might have been thrown in there just in case. You know, just in case of war. Then the recruiters or drafters would be able to say, "Well you can't very well sing that and then not fight for your country, can you?" A dirty trick.

"God keep our land glorious and free." Isn't it absolute proof of the pussification of Canada that the phrase, "all our sons," is being removed before the word, "God?" By the last census, as of July 1, 2015, Canada had 17,776,700 males and 18,075,100 females. Pretty close to 50-50, but actually a few more daughters than sons. "In all of us," makes more sense statistically than "in all our sons." But do I need to point out that when the song was written, "sons" meant "sons and daughters," just like "he" meant "he or she" and "man" meant "man and woman?" The writer of the anthem hadn't suffered through a university education during which any and all of these were immediately and without fail corrected by zealous, female students, or male students showing support for feminism to get laid. It's an old song! O is now spelled with an H and thee is only used before words starting with a vowel. Like thee apple or thee elephant. THEE is now YOU, folks. But since it's gender neutral, we won't bother to update THAT word.

Back to God. Surprising stats in Canada show that two thirds of people actually believe in God in Canada. I do and I suppose if you believe in God and the anthem means anything to you, you should be glad God is still in it. But again, those stats have been bolstered by the new Canadians from far a wide and methinks the God of the songwriter is not necessarily the God of all the believers in Canada. Again, times change. However, the same stats show that only 42% consider religion important. I'm guessing here but probably fewer consider it important in our anthem. But women, feminists, and men trying to get laid, they seem to consider this word, "sons" pretty important.

Here's a question for you: If there should be a war involving Canada... an alien invasion... who else would invade Canada?.. so now the people of Canada who have been pledging to stand on guard for our country before hockey games our entire lives are called to put our money where our mouths are, what do you think the percentages would be like THEN? Oh sure, some women would fight, but you KNOW they would be shown great favouritism in battle if they did. And far fewer women would fight the aliens than men. It's a fact. The percentage of women in the Canadian armed forces is about 16. A far cry from the percentage of women in our country. WHY? Well that's an idiotic question, isn't it? The military is a male thing. The defence of women and children naturally falls to men. And if there were a draft, it would only be for the males of Canada, not the females. "Women and children first!" This is in Russia, but notice the order. First kids, then wife, and finally the man jumps and I heard he fractured his spine. This is the way we still do things in Canada too. So do you suppose the controlling women of Canada, in exchange for inhaling more smoke, pulling out chairs, battling flames, opening doors, fighting wars, throwing the kids out the window and fracturing spines, do you suppose women might, in exchange for this responsibility, show some gratitude and allow men ANY last bastion of masculinity in Canada, such as the word "sons" in our national anthem? No, because as pointed out before, feminism is not about equality. Women of Canada will still gladly be the first hostages released by the bank robbers, but HELL NO, get that masculine word out of our meaningless anthem! "We'll take all the inequalities in favour of women, and along with them we demand equality in everything else. And we reserve the right to create inequality in favour of women in all of THOSE areas in future as well." THAT is feminism. At least in Canada.

This whole gender neutral national anthem is sort of the dying wish of Liberal MP, Mauril Belanger, a guy who has never sung the anthem in English anyway. And in case you wonder, here's the way the French Canadians sing our anthem:

O Canada! Land of our forefathers, your brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers because your arm can wield the sword,and it is ready to carry the cross. Your history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits, your valour steeped in faith. (We) will protect our homes and our rights. (We) will protect our homes and our rights.

I'm not sure changing "our sons" to "of us" in the anthem will qualify as one of the "brilliant exploits of valour that is the epic history of Canada," but, Mauril wants to make his mark before he dies. He's a man, by the way. When I heard this, I admit, my first thought was, "A man? Why would the women in control give half a shi - oh, a DYING man." Gotta love the ladies! Their weakness, no I mean their power, is their compassion.

The question I'm asking of this man is, what is his swansong really saying? It could just be he is very aware of the female over-representation in our country and trying to get ANYthing gender neutralized is like shooting fish in a barrel. Or is there something wiser going on here? In a recent episode of The Simpsons, Homer says to Marge, "In all my years of living with the female species I've learned one thing: when they want to do something totally insane, your only move is to support them 100% It's an old relationship move I call, 'turning into the skid.'" Could this dying MP be turning into the skid in an attempt NOT to forbid the changing of the national anthem, thereby ensuring that it won't be changed? What I mean is, maybe he is scheming that if support is given for this totally insane idea to waste even MORE valuable House of Commons floor time on such a stupid issue, the women will not emotionally do what they perceive they have been ordered not to do by controlling males, and recognize the insanity. Maybe if we all support this ludicrous waste of time, it won't even make it to the floor. Are Homer Simpson and Mauril Belanger actually geniuses? I guess that remains to be seen.

Until then, YEAH, get this horrible, sexist word, "sons," out of the anthem! Leastaways, that's what I reckon.