Sunday, April 22, 2018

At Least I'm Not a Chinese Migrant Worker

Whelp,


Some new shit has come to light. Given the nature of this new shit, it's not just, uh, it might not be just a stupid new immigration rule that's blocking my foreign expert certificate. I'm privy to some new information. My thinking about this case has been all wrong.

Evidently, Diana, the only name I knew the owner of Huasheng by, has a friend named Ms. Zhang Wei who works at the Shanxi Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs. Yeah, the office where my expired foreign expert certificate remains illegally un-cancelled. They're good friends. Like good enough to break the law for one another I guess.

I have her email and have sent her a request to cancel said document but my guess is she won't be hopping to that any time soon. I also tried to send my story along with this person's contact information to a couple of the agencies in China where they are supposed to be looking out for the lowly worker. And when I say that I am embarrassed at how much lowlier than I the lowliest of the lowly migrant workers in China really are. But as an ESL teacher, I still count myself amongst them.

Here's a quote from this article:

"Few would contest the terrible conditions faced by many Chinese workers – especially the 150 million members of the “floating population,” who migrate to urban areas from their poor homes in the countryside. These men, women and children often work without written contracts in dangerous conditions for up to eighteen hours per day and under $100 per month."

And like mine, these salaries are often paid late or not at all. 150 MILLION! It seems the dozen or so workers at Huasheng who were hired and never paid are just a drop in the bucket! This is much more common practice in China that I had thought! I wonder if it's such common practice that these poor girls, (and the two male drivers), who I worked with at Huasheng may have been EXPECTING IT! I don't remember any of them being overly outraged or even having much or anything bad to say about the people who had just ripped them off a month's wages. Maybe they were told that if they complained, there are people in government offices who are friends that will make their prospects for work shrink considerably. The old, "You tell anyone about this and you'll never work in this town again," ploy. 

Anyway, I am from a country where we have labour standards and I wasn't about to let this go. So I did a search. In English. It is NOT easy to find anyone to contact about such things. Presumably because it's a new thing and, as the article describes, corporations, like American ones, who take advantage of this cheap labour, have threatened to "divest" themselves from China if they treat their lowly workers with any dignity. And as the corporations pressure China to keep labour standards abysmal and labour costs exploitatively cheap, they pretend to tisk tisk the human rights violations in China. Our world!

Another quote from the article is what I've been blathering about in the posts about this:

"However, the rights and standards which Beijing writes on paper do not help workers unless they are enforced throughout the country."

The ministry I managed to find whose job it is on paper to ensure transparency, enforce new and reasonable labour laws, and root out and punish corruption is the S.P.P. The Supreme People's Procuraturate! It even SOUNDS powerful but that last word will always be underlined in red squiggly. I don't think it's a word. But never mind, I found their website, which was, simply enough, www.spp.gov.cn. I went looking for an email where I could inform somebody of my story. It was all in Chinese but there was a letter icon that I thought could be an email link. I clicked on it and got a message that the site was insecure. Hmmmm... this isn't going to be easy. Why would it be? 

After a couple hours of surfing into brick walls, I found a few emails and sent them my story. One for the SPP; one for the office of the new and current Procurator General, Zhang Jun; one for the National People's Congress of China; one for Deng Guangming who is an assistant prosecutor for international cooperation; and the Canadian chamber of commerce in China. All but the last one came back with the message that the email address doesn't exist. 

I've seen a couple stories in my web surfing about the SPP going after politicians and high profile businessmen. I get the feeling that "the people" the REAL people are just small potatoes to these anti-corruption agencies. But you never know, maybe the Chinese chamber of commerce will help me. heh heh heh. Who am I kidding? A Canadian government agency? An international Canadian government agency? I'll get more help from Ms. Zhang Wei herself.  

And as we read the article, it is revealed that the impotence of Chinese labour unions, (whose paychecks are paid by the Chinese companies they represent), will have their leaders fired if they try to force companies to abide by any decent labour laws. The US companies in China do not share the same privilege. They MUST obey the laws of their adopted labour source, I mean slave source, I mean country, thus creating marked advantage within China for Chinese companies. THAT'S why the US corporations are pissed off! They'll have to pay their workers better wages and maybe observe minimal human rights if the new labour laws are introduced. What an outrage! "I mean," say corporations like G.E., Nike, Ford, Microsoft, Dell, "why should we have to raise our workers' wages from 'starvation' all the way up to 'possible survival'?"

Small business seems to think just as little of rule of law in China. The more I find out about China, the more I understand that I was much safer working on an illegal business visa over there. Work visas won't be the way to go until companies obey the laws and there are organizations of enforcement with power enough to gain respect. And who knows when THAT might be.

I hearken back to the first time I tried to quit Huasheng. After my contract was just completely changed for the worst in every way. They actually threatened to have me removed from the country before I could sleep through the night. The second time, when I actually DID quit, they threatened to publish stories about me that would ruin my reputation. The old, "Do what I command or you'll never work in this town again," ploy. I chuckled at the time at the grade school shading being offered by two grown-ass adults:


these two con artists. But now I wonder if in a country so thoroughly mired in corruption, they mightn't have been empty threats. Gives me a little bit of a spinal chill. They don't look like much. They AREN'T much. But with an impotent system of checks and balances, corporate oversight and regulation, the very backbones of a supposedly socialist society, these two dickshits are just soldiers of capitalism run amok. They don't have a care in the world about possible consequences of their despicable business practices toward their employees OR themselves. Oh my GOD Magnum it would be sweet to fine these shitstains or put them out of business or even in jail! But I have limited faith that any of my emails are going to work.

And it seems, according to this article, that I'm about the umpteen millionth in line. Instead of supporting the workers, the virtual slogan of the Chinese Communist Party, people protesting their companies not paying the wages they are owed are being treated like criminals. People who are being ripped off by their companies are going to jail while the company owners who committed the actual crimes are not. This isn't new and it's not new to me so I really shouldn't be all that surprised at what happened on my trip to China. But now I feel like I can share in the Chinese workers' fight. With major corporations, (who are very largely responsible for China's economic boom), threatening to leave if China starts giving a shit about its workers, I don't like their chances, but FIGHTING!

I hope they win. Meanwhile, I'm not so sure I want to go back there. I'll watch from the safer climes of Saudi Arabia or Russia or some other nation needing English instruction. It'd sure be nice to find something here in Korea!

At any rate, I often feel like a broken record blathering on and on about this travesty and boring my friends to tears. Like back when I broke up with my teenage girlfriend, Kelly. I saw my friends try to support me and get me to stop droning on about it, but I didn't. Then I began seeing people cross the street if they saw me coming and pretend not to see me so as to avoid a stop-and-chat that would undoubtedly include the latest pussyaching about Kelly. I had this really sick Kelly thing! I am sure the friends I'm staying with would rather hear about anything other than my getting Shanghaied in China! And today I got a message from a Chinese friend asking how I'm doing and I started in with this new information. The friend just didn't reply. The online equivalent of saying, "I'm just going to see what's happening over there... somewhere that isn't here."

So hopefully this'll stick a fork in this blog-wise and personally. My blog is my therapy. Putting this out there might help me to let it go. I feel a bit better having millions of Chinese brothers and sisters who have been screwed by their employers too. So in my almost exclusively "at least" world, at least I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The ESL Teaching Loophole

Ask a person, any person around you, who their favourite teacher is or was, and you'll probably get a well thought out response. You won't hear, "Hmmm... I don't know," or "I've never thought about that before," or a long pause for contemplation. This is because teachers are tremendously important people in our most formative times of our lives and we all have our favourites. It's something we have talked and thought about before. So go ahead and ask. I'll wait.

Now, ask them why and you'll hear words like "kind," "respectful," "intelligent," "attentive," "caring," "down-to-earth," "trusting," "trustworthy," "honest," "responsible," "organized," "cool," "nice," "friendly," "funny," "patient," a general sprinkling of love, unicorns and rainbows!

Now, find a crooked businessperson, any crooked businessperson, there should be one close at hand. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now ask that scumbag/person the kind of client he/she prefers to screw/do business with and you will hear a familiar list of words.

My point is that the qualities that make us teachers good teachers, the qualities that make people GOOD, are the very qualities that render us vulnerable to assholes in the business of education. And it is more and more a business, don't kid yourself. This is just one article I've read that shows this trend I have been noticing and complaining about for years.

In business, good = stupid. This is a loophole people who head up "schools," or more accurately the education shops of Asia, have been exploiting for years. Take a gander at the following job ad from Korea:


Now let's go beyond the normal discrimination that is allowable by law and common practice here like asking for a recent pic, birth date, actually stating that the person must be young, or old and healthy, (eye roll), religion, skin colour........ sigh. These are just some of the usual pitfalls that come with the job of ESL teacher. OTHER jobs can be worse! I've heard from some of my former flight attendant students that there are "swimsuit" interviews and pinch tests for fat. But a "drunken nation?" I wonder what THAT list looks like.

But let's just try to gauge the character of the business from the ad. Often, the "school" forgets that the teacher might actually have other job opportunities and they could be interviewing to judge the school. They get so cocky and comfortable in this heavily business favouring society, that they are holding all the cards in the interview that they don't even try to hide the assholery! I think the above might be a good example of this.

Now, it's gotta be said that sometimes the "teachers" that come over here are not going to be described with that list we made above. Sometimes teachers do bad things to employers like pulling runners in mid contract and leaving them in the lurch. Not paying their phone or cable bills and going back to their countries. Complaining a lot about cultural differences; not making the effort to learn the language or culture; partying too much; showing up late; taking days off; using sick days; even physical and sexual abuse of the kids. Sometimes the quality of the teacher is questionable. But in general, just like anywhere else, the low quality people end up in the low quality workplaces. At the end of the ad they say this job will likely be gone soon. Act now! This offer will end soon! This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds! ha ha ha.

This could very well be the truth, but what kind of self-respecting person would even apply? You'd have to be pretty much desperate. I mean, 40,000, (well, 32,000 when you remove the "administration fee" whatever THAT might be), is a pretty big carrot. That's about 35 bucks an hour. So there may be some interest, but anyone with the qualities of a good teacher will give this a miss.

The point I want to make here though is I've worked with these people before. Not THESE specifically, but I think many an ESL school/white conversation trafficker in Asia thinks exactly like this, they just aren't, (yet), quite so bold as to put it in their ads. So the trick is to figure out from a few easily fakeable emails and maybe a little phony kindness at an interview if the people you are signing away a full year of your life to aren't the kind of people who wrote the above ad. It ain't easy! I've been trying my whole career over here.

AND let me draw your attention to the visa portion of the ad. This you may not understand, but it's yet another example of a country tilting the playing field in the favour of businesses and businesses taking full advantage of it. This is the big problem I'm having now. You know of the stupid new rule in China that has led to all this unwanted downtime here in Korea. But even since that fiasco, I've had some problems. The problems HERE in Korea are new too.

I'm from the era when we didn't need to get criminal record checks or apostilled copies of our degrees. But I adapted to it. I did those dog tricks many times. And I'm willing to do so again for a good job in the country of Korea where I'm comfortable. But things have changed. As ever, entirely unnecessarily, in favour of the businesses and to the ever-enduring annoyance of the lowly ESL worker.

Lemme give you a ferinstance: I keep on seeing ads like the above for people with F visas. An F-4 visa is one that Korea gives to an ethnic Korean born in another country. These are gold to the hagwons and language schools here. They can give their money to a Korean, (which, let's face it, they would all prefer), but a Korean who grew up speaking English so has no accent and can speak fluently. If it weren't for the Korean preference for WHITE people teaching English, there would be nothing but F-4 "gyopos," (or bananas, (yellow outside and white inside, (I'm not kidding))), or Koreans born in other countries teaching ESL here. The thing is, plenty of people born in English speaking countries are not white. It even gets so silly that people from South Africa, (even the white ones), are not seen as authentic any longer. I have a couple of friends who are as white as I am and confused immigration officers with their South African passports. "How can you be white if you're African?" Yeah, that sort of stuff.

The F-6 is another good one. It's given to a foreigner who may be from an English speaking country, but who is married to a Korean. Oh how I wish I had one! I know some folks with these and it ALMOST makes it worth marrying a Korean. In times of desperation I've considered rushing into a marriage, I dunno, finding a homeless Korean gal who would have me, just so I could get the good jobs here. But then, I've seen ads specifying, "F-series visa preferred, but NOT F-6!"

An F-5 is for a permanent resident of Korea who is not Korean. An egg, (white on the outside and yellow on the inside, (I'm not kidding)), who has pretty much become Korean. The standards are high. You have to speak fluent Korean, listen to K-pop, follow K-dramas, go to singing rooms regularly, eat corn on your pizza, etc., etc.,... Like I said, the standards are high. But THESE guys are the perfect ESL teachers! It's what every Korean ESL school hopes for! And the "schools" are getting so spoiled here, it's what they all expect. So they wait until the very last minute and if they haven't found one, they'll settle for something else. I'll explain later how this screws the rest of us ESL job hunters in Korea.

The E-2 is the usual work visa for a foreigner like me who comes to Korea ready to teach ESL. You need to get a verified criminal record check and copy of your university degree stamped, (apostilled), at a Korean embassy in your country. This was something added in 2010. And if you read my blog from back then you'll learn how big a shit-show it caused here. But since then a couple of new additions to these documents have been added. Now the criminal record check is only good for 6 months. This is nothing but a money grab by somebody because, as explained on my blog before, if you haven't been in your country, you could not have committed a crime there. Korean ESL jobs are almost exclusively one-year contracts, but even though you are finishing a contract and getting a new job without returning to your country, and haven't set foot in it for the entire year, you still have to get one.

There are a few ways to get these documents. One could return to his/her country and do the paperwork there. One could ask someone else to do it for him/her. Or one could get the dox from one of many increasingly expensive document services who do such things. I found a service that was able to get my dox finished and mailed to me in two weeks. This is the fastest I've heard of. And this is where the F-5ers are killing us. You see, ESL "schools" are notorious for doing everything at the last second. They don't want to wait two weeks for a new employee, they want everybody to service them right away without the need for any foresight whatsoever. So now what you have are people asking for workers with F visas OR people who already have the E-2 visa.

How the hell might this work? one might ask. I certainly have been asking for a while! You see, in order to get an E-2 visa, a company needs to sponsor you. That is, a company needs to offer you a job and sign a contract with you. That's the way it's always been and that's the way it still is as far as I have been told. So I had thought it must be for people who are finishing their contracts and want to look for a new job. The paperwork is easier and it saves the company the cost of an oversees flight since the teacher is already here. But since the visas always expire a month or less after the contract expires, it's still a very tight window. Especially if you're applying for one of these jobs that needs a teacher right away. So I don't think that's the case very often.

I have been refused interviews because I didn't already have my E-2 visa. I actually talked to a recruiter here and said that I will get my E-2 after the interview and after I've received a contract. It's the way everybody has to do it, isn't it? The recruiter said, "No sir! No sir! No sir! The teachers should apply for the documents before being interviewed." I said, "Don't then need a sponsor?" "No sir! Not any more." So THEN I asked why one would do this even if one could since if you don't find a job within 6 months, the criminal record check will have expired. The answer was something like, "Well, it's how it's done now." So this got me curious. I searched all over for an organization who could give me some knowledgeable advice on this. It seemed at the very least like Korea was taking advantage of teachers and Canadian document services.

Well you KNOW I found nothing. But I was referred to a Facebook site that informed me that there still must be a sponsor. But I see ads for E-2 workers for two-month long summer camps. I have actually done these too. This IS possible if the sponsor gives permission. But full time, 8-hour-a-day jobs who won't interview you unless you already have the visa documents? This seemed strange. So I asked in that Facebook group if I could get an E-2 visa without a sponsor. The answer was no. And there are absolutely no short-term visas for if a person wanted to work less than a year, at a seasonal camp or something like that even though there are plenty of such short term jobs available. I still don't know the answer but I'm convinced there's something fishy going on here.

At any rate, I applied for a job at Dongseo University and spent over 100,000 won going to an interview in Busan. It went well and I was told by someone in the know that I actually GOT the frigging job... BUT... HR pulled the funding before I could be hired. What the hell is THIS now, Korea? Interviewing people JUST IN CASE?

And the recruiters! These guys didn't exist before. Now it's almost a must to deal with these superfluous entities when job hunting here. I applied for a really good job at Korea Electric Power Company, KEPCO, and had an interview set up and cancelled at the last minute... TWICE! Recruiters are not well known for doing a good job. They're lazy and undependable, but for a business who doesn't want to deal directly with the English teacher, i.e. speak English to them, these recruiters have become the way to go. And they're yet another burden for us ESL job hunters to bear.

SOOOO after many setbacks, at this time I am waiting for an online interview with a company in Saudi Arabia, or a job offer from ANOTHER electric company, Korea Hydro Nuclear Power, for a contract. I think I'll go with whichever of those two is faster. The three really good jobs waiting for me in September will have to be abandoned. I can't wait that long hoping to get some part-time work to tide me over here. It used to be really easy to get stuff like that under the table in Korea but even THAT has gone the way of tiny phones and Dance Dance Revolution here. It had its day, but is now gone.

I'm hoping to stay in Korea but I think the visa papers might cause some concern. As for Saudi, I think I will hate it going 5 1/2 months without bacon, beer or cool weather, but a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do. Especially a lowly ESL teacher guy.

So now, maybe that ad will make a bit more sense to you. We are just a step above slime here. Not a single person on OINK, (only in Korea), the website where I saw the above ad, seemed surprised in the least at the sentiments expressed in it. Only a few expressed mild surprise that someone would post it.

And yet I keep looking for a place where teachers, REAL teachers, whose career trajectories are reliant upon the virtues in the list compiled above, are treated with the respect befitting someone better than slime. But it's a loophole I doubt will ever be filled. We're nice, so we're taken advantage of. I wonder who will take advantage of me next...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Easter Movies

That title may be a little bit misleading. The movies I'll be mentioning will not be Easter movies in the traditional sense of those words. But then untraditional is the kind of fella I am. The movies mentioned are going to be movies I've either watched recently or been reminded of during this week when we celebrate the Lord rising from the dead. Rising from the dead will be a theme here. Watch for it.



Like the movie "Coco" I recently watched. Twice. It's a cool movie. The animation was out of this world! The story was predictably Disney but I liked the Mexican spin. I like Mariachi guitar music a lot. The day after I watched it for the first time everybody in my dreams had Spanish accents. Miguel sort of rose from the dead in that movie. Sort of. He visited the dead then came back to the living. The part of that movie that stuck with me was the part about the people fading away into, what?, second death? when they are forgotten. And I thought to myself, "Self, I haven't even died yet and I've been forgotten by a lot of people."

So what, I wondered, could I do to make myself more memorable? I am pretty darn good at blogging so I thought I'd make this my "Remember Me" blog. You'll get that if you watch "Coco." Really, watch it, it's great!

Movie number one: "A Few Good Men." I remember back in the 80's when I first watched that movie kinda feeling a little bit on Jack Nicholson's side. Colonel Jessup. We all know the famous speech. "You can't handle the truth!" But a couple of the things he says after that part are the things that I got thinking about recently. "I have a greater responsibility that you can possibly fathom!" and "All you did today is weaken a nation. That's all you did." I remember thinking the whole conversation between Dawson and Downey about why they were found innocent but still not allowed back into the military. "What did we do wrong? We didn't do anything wrong!" Dawson said. "Yeah we did. We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn't fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willy." Then with the whole salute to Dan Kaffee, (Tom Cruise), as he leaves the room, it almost overhollywooded it to the point of the red nose scene in Patch Adams or the Captain my Captain scene standing on the desks in Dead Poet's Society. But let's concentrate on the not so melodramatic parts of the movie.

I have a great deal of respect for training. And I can relate to how the military can find it useful to have soldiers act without thinking sometimes. I don't know much about the military from experience, but in sports I have learned to stickhandle a puck or ball without looking at it over many hours of hockey playing. In baseball, I can pull an inside pitch or go with an outside pitch even though the ball is coming far too fast to think about doing that. They call it muscle memory in sport. You can't think, you just have to repeat it so many times that it becomes instinctive.

I suppose for the military's purposes, a perfect soldier would be the one who doesn't think, just does. I love the scene in Forrest Gump when he puts the gun together really fast and the sergeant asks why he did it so well and Gump says, "Because you told me to, SERGEANT!" The sergeant is highly impressed and says that Gump might someday become a general if he keeps acting without thinking.

This was not exactly the most accurate statement. The generals are the ones who actually ARE supposed to be doing the thinking. Other officers like Jessup too. And if they give an order, since they are the ones who EARNED the right to do the thinking, the order is NEVER to be questioned. This is the way the military operates. Pretty much all militaries. Is it just me, just my life experience, or is there anyone else out there who thinks this might be giving a far too juicy bone to some dogs and expecting them not to eat it?

I'll give you launch codes and military strategies. You can have secrecy for those since the power to blow the world up about 100 times over really IS a huge responsibility. A self-created responsibility, but a great one nonetheless. So you can have your secrecy and your place above any questioning for those. But when people start abusing this untouchability and they start committing human rights violations like waterboarding, giving "code reds," or other torture; when they start committing moral offenses like tapping phone lines or tracking internet usage; when they start committing crimes like killing innocent people, and expecting them to be covered "under the very blanket" of secrecy that covers things that it makes sense to cover, then, NO, SIR, Colonel Jessup, it's not weakening a country to expose that behavior. It's strengthening it. Furthermore, yours is not a greater responsibility than we can all possibly fathom. We all, and I'm talking about every other human being, have a greater responsibility!

What about a contract? What if you want something you can only really get one place and sign a contract? Like we all did without reading it when we signed up for Facebook. Is it okay for them to say, "Well in the contract, it said you willingly surrender your first born child to Mark Zuckerberg." What if you sign a contract that has a non-disclosure clause in it? THEN is it right for you to tell somebody about things that are just wrong being done at your workplace? This is when WE, the regular people have a responsibility that supersedes or contracts or our jobs or even Colonel Jessup's orders. We have a responsibility to mankind. To the human race. This is one of those deteriorating values and ideals I've been blogging about. Why do you suppose it's deteriorating? Why does it sound corny to even say we all have a responsibility to each other? It shouldn't, but it does.

I believe no order should ever be given, no secrecy agreement should ever be signed, no contract should ever be legally binding without two words, and if these two words are not present, I believe, as the spirit of our law at one time also upheld, that these two words should be implicit. These words are, "within reason." THIS is the responsibility that human beings and only human beings have been trusted with. REASON. And it is a great power we have over all other species. As Spiderman knows, with great power comes great responsibility.

This is one of the best movie scenes ever. It's funny, but nowadays it's also very serious.


 It's from Billy Madison. The movie is a comedy, but sometimes comedians are the people who make us think the most. Doing something good like this has a way of multiplying. In fact, there are those who believe that every good deed has a butterfly effect that reaches everybody directly or indirectly. EVERYBODY! The same is believed for selfish deeds. It's not very hard to imagine. Let's say, for instance, that this guy doesn't kill Billy Madison. Billy doesn't have to go on to cure Cancer to affect the entire human race. He could do unbelievably simple things for other human beings that lead to others and others and others and soon just one act of kindness can blossom into a good deed for 7 billion people! Say they really DO meet for coffee. Then they become friends. Then this guy sees that people can change and doesn't kill the others on his list. Now every good thing those other people do for the rest of their lives to thousands of other people would not have happened if not for this one phone call. They didn't know it, but they were dead. Imagine now that they find out how close they came to death. They are now, (kinda), back from the dead. How GOOD would these people be knowing that every single new day is a gift? Raymond K. Hessel knows.



Remember this scene in Fight Club when Tyler Durdan holds a gun to Raymond K. Hessel's head? I sometimes wish somebody could hold a gun to everybody's head every day. THEN we'd be able to let that which truly does not matter slide. Then we'd all be better people too. And as shitty as the world is now? That's how awesome it would be!

Do you see how the butterfly effect works here? But it works the very same for bad deeds. THIS is a far greater responsibility than any other. And it's being forgotten about. More accurately, it's one of those super important things in all of our lives that we are being distracted from. Strategically distracted.

But who is distracting us from cultivating our collective powers and unleashing our whole person? This is what Leonardo da Vinci reckoned we should all be busying ourselves with. But we're not. WHY not? Because we're too busy and burdened with rules and "musts" that we retreat into our hibernative lives of antisociality. The height of absurdity is that the "social" network, the internet, has become the main substitute for human connection that has lead to this collective social stuntedness.

We all know that playing a game of Minecraft or Call of Duty with strangers, is not the same as going bowling on Wednesday nights. Online friends are ghosts. We are perfectly safe to just barely acknowledge their humanity, and treat them in ways that differ from our social interaction with REAL people. That's why it's called "virtual" reality, not real reality.

The problem I see arising is as people spend more and more time with ghost friends, our social habits, our online quasi-politeness, transfers into the real world. This indefatigably chips away at common sense, common courtesy and the common good. We used to worry about this happening with people who watch too much TV. Internet and phone mentoring are worse. I say that with the inference that media is a strong mentor. TV shaped the way people acted and thought. But the internet and phone interconnectivity are even more powerful in making us good or bad people.

How ironic is that? Real people are taking a back seat to ghost people in developing human beings socially. But this is why one of the most important issue of our lifetimes is happening right now to little or no fanfare. The deterioration of "net neutrality" will take away our chance of using this massive power for good and turn it into a massive power for bad. It has already begun and it's our responsibility to reverse the trends toward the internet being monopolized by the greedy and corrupt. But the greedy and corrupt don't want us to concentrate on that. So they strategically distract us with the meaningless.

In Barack Obama's recent interview on David Letterman's new show he says, "One of the biggest challenges to our democracy is that we don't share a common baseline of facts." He goes on to say that three different people could Google the word "Egypt" and come up with three completely different sets of facts according to the information that has been collected about them. The information we receive on the internet is increasingly being sold and not told to us. This creates divergent information about similar topics that will keep us arguing. The disparate findings on almost anything will have us fighting over politics, world events, the environment, science, religion, if toilet paper should go over or under and it divides instead of uniting. It blunts the possibility of a more united world.

This is the issue with the Zuckerberg hearings to my understanding. Yes, we all "agreed" to the contract so we could play Words With Friends with our friends, but does that give Zuckerberg the right to do whatever he wants? Shouldn't it say, even in the Zuckerberg contract, WITHIN REASON? I mean, what if some stupid moron Messengers launch codes to someone else. ACCURATE launch codes! Does Zuckerberg have the right to sell them to the highest bidder? Then we'd have people hacking into computers and launching American nukes. Does anybody think that's okay because, hey, somebody signed a contract. You can write a thousand dollar bonus into a contract like the one for Facebook and nobody will collect it. It's been proven. But because of this contract we all signed without reading, Google, Facebook and other sites will direct me to a whole different set of facts than somebody else. I want ALL the facts, not just the ones some algorithms have decided I should be fed. So how do we regulate all this? By using the common sense and reason that only we possess.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is being remade! 

The original Bill & Ted might have the best line in a movie ever. "Be excellent to each other!" I bet it's no coincidence that George Carlin was in it. I wonder if it was George, the central figure in my personal comedian Mt. Rushmore, that inspired that philosophical gem. This line is the bottom line, folks! And we're just not being excellent to each other. If we were more excellent to each other, there'd be no thought put into coming to the aid of those who can't help themselves. It would be our responsibility and it would be understood. We wouldn't need it to be forced into us at gunpoint like Raymond K. Hessel. If we were all excellent to each other on a daily basis, we'd be reminded on a daily basis of how important and self-perpetualizing it can be.

But I can hear people now saying, "Yeah and if we ever got to that point, SOMEBODY would take advantage of all the love and kindness, exploit people and get rich off it." Well, that is what has happened, isn't it? It's what we are reminded of on a daily basis and what is self-perpetualizing. It's what has driven us into our defensive, protective, untrusting, competitive, secretive, basically paranoid states of mind and what has got us into this mess we're in right now.

So the solution is very simple: we use our reason to find those people who will take advantage of other people's kindness for selfish reasons and eliminate them from society. Jails are everywhere but these people are not in them. These people are running industry, banks and politics. The selfishness that is ruining the world has become a virtue. That is what we need to change.

Leastaways, that's what I reckon.

Post script: I'm looking forward to reading "The Common Good" by Robert Reich because I think he might reckon so too.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

All I Need Is The Air That I Breathe

Here's a good article.

It's good news! China's air is getting better since it declared war on pollution four years ago. And any Chinese person over 4 years old right now is going, "Yep." Like Michael Jordan.


While I have seen Chinese efforts to clean up their air and I don't want to discount them, I lived in the coal capital of the world over there so I wonder how many years THAT cost me. But imagine Chinese people! In some places, a few years of responsible environmentalism has added 5.5 years to their lives! Ohhh, great! But.... um.... how many years did we LOSE in the time before that? Makes you wonder at the price paid by many for the advancement of the few. I read an article that calculated pollution in China to cost the citizens an aggregate 2.5 billion years of life. While that's just silly, when compared to the advancement of the economy, and more to the point, the average wealth of the average person, would they say it's worth it? 

Long life is something that may be treasured more in China than anywhere else. The Chinese sometimes wish a friend, "chang ming bai sui," which means, "may you live 100 years." Or, "shou bi nan san," which means, "may you live as long as Nan mountain." A huge amount of Chinese medicine, and Chinese fake medicine, is said to promote longevity. Where I lived, people seemed to eat noodles at almost every meal. Longevity noodles are actually believed to extend life. NEVER cut or break them. Long noodles=long life.

In 1862 in China, a Cholera plague broke out that, at its height, killed 3000 people a day. It didn't affect the south, and since the southern Chinese had a habit of drinking hot water, it was credited with their surviving the plague. Also, the purification effects of boiling water have lead to Chinese Communist Party slogans like, "Children should cultivate a habit of drinking boiled water 3 times a day." Today hot water is accessible to every Chinese citizen at all times. Almost everyone carries a thermos of it. Outside the hot water tap at TUST where I worked there were hundreds of thermoses and every restaurant, apartment or public place has a couple of them. Supermarkets have entire aisles of different sized and coloured thermoses.


They are so obsessed with life-extending hot water that it is sometimes hard to get a cold drink. They even drink Coke and beer warm!!!

The Chinese are religious early risers too. It is believed to promote long life. And what do they do with the extra time that gives? Why, they do some early morning breathing, moving or dancing in the park. Chinese believe in disciplined breathing and movement being a key to longevity as well. 



So with so many things being done with the intent to extend their lives, it makes you wonder what they could be even MORE obsessed with that would lead them to poison their air so badly in the first place. Well, as always, the answer is money. I can't speak for the average Chinese person, but I've lived in China and breathed the Chinese air and I can tell you I would have to be pretty frickin' wealthy for a lifetime of THAT air to be worth it! But it appears that most citizens believe that it has been.

Here's a picture of Korea today:



That's not something from a magazine or TV, it was taken by a friend of mine. This is what they call, "fine particulate matter," in the air today. This kind of weather or air is often thought by Koreans to be the fault of China. But the article clearly states that statements like 80% of the bad air in Korea is caused by other countries, mostly China, are now known to be highly exaggerated. But, as everyone who visits Korea for a lengthy period of time can attest, an issue doesn't have to be real and accurate to thoroughly piss Koreans off.

 

So here I sit, having been breathing Korean and Chinese air for the better part of 15 years, wondering how many of my days have been sacrificed for their cause. I've had some great experiences over here, but has it been worth the loss of life? And this is to say nothing of the constant corruption, deceit and graft that has eaten away at me mentally. Now, granted, the years I'll lose will come off the END of my life. At least, (here I go again with my "at leasting"), they didn't come off the part of my life when I was actually enjoying it. They'll come off the part of my life when I'll be falling and breaking my hip, losing my teeth, my mind and my constitution, and having no fun at all. So that's okay, I guess. But I reckon I don't prize long life as much as the Chinese. I wonder how THEY feel about this.

Well, here's a good article about that. Don't just read the first part, read the reply by the Chinese guy, Lu Fei. He says that the people of Beijing are not THAT in love with money. I would be inclined to agree with him. I don't think the average citizen of any country I've experienced is in love with money to the extent of the Chinese, but I STILL don't think they're so self-destructive about it. It's just the few people in charge. As it always is.  

I am still being blocked by a corrupt, greedy employer, and a corrupt, absurd visa rule from getting any work in China. I've been offered the best job ever, by far, for September too. But that 45 grand a year depends on the cancellation of an expired document. I won't be too depressed if I can't eventually cancel my Foreign Expert Certificate and get another job, (legally), in China. The fact that this situation actually exists just shows the incivility of the country. Actually changing laws to enable, nay, encourage illegal behavior by corrupt businesses, and offering no public recourse, are both actions of an uncivilized nation. Polluting the air to benefit the few at the expense of many would also qualify.

But, AT LEAST they might be getting better. In the area of pollution anyway...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Losing Ideals

I'm sitting around thinking, (cuz I have plenty of time to do that), about how things have gotten to this point in my life and in life all over. Are the bad guys winning? I think they are! And it does me no good to blame it on one person, like the owner of Huasheng, or the soulless skunk of a human being who seems to be running her business for her.


On the left is the choad who I have only ever known as Mr. Liu. Never told me his name. I suppose in HIS world I was too far beneath him to address him in anything but a formal manner. Diana, the owner, never told me HER name either. They both make a living cheating other people. At the meeting we had when I took this picture they were telling me how they were interested in having a long term business relationship with me. To that point I had paid for 4 visa runs and all of my rent. They were contractually obligated, (and had promised verbally), to reimburse me at least in part for both. This was just days before they agreed to give me exactly NO reimbursement for either. So of COURSE they wanted a long term business relationship with me! When you find somebody who will do most of the work while you collect most of the money, you wanna hang on to that person. Especially if you can cheat him out of even more of the meagre share of the profits he works for!

These two products of social destruction regularly hire young, innocent girls, most of whom haven't had much experience in the workforce of China, all of whom have studied hard and probably paid lots of money to get an education and improve their English so that it is good enough to deal with a foreign worker, like me, who doesn't speak Chinese. They work with me for about a month, helping me with problems I may have in China. None are work problems, mind you, just problems with government offices, legal documents, contracts, banking, renting, and anything else that, (probably BECAUSE it is all crooked), comes with mountains of ostensibly legitimizing paperwork. It is, in a word, a shit job. And they don't even get to do it in their own language! At the end of their month of work, the WELL EARNED paycheck they've been enduring all the crap for doesn't come. They ask these two con artists pictured above what the hell is going on and probably they keep them hanging on for a few more days stating computer or banking difficulties as the reason they haven't been paid. But soon, just like the hundred before them, every one of these workers realizes they aren't going to be paid. So a month or more of work, hard work, is wasted. And these girls aren't promised a great deal of money to begin with. To cheat them out of the little they expect, and continuously hire new girls, lie to them, then stiff them, this is something that only a morally bankrupt person can do. And they not only do it, they sleep well at nights. Probably brag to their friends about it.

Then they screw me on the contract they signed, rob me of thousands of dollars, block me from getting tens of thousands more, and they have a nice dinner and probably brag to their friends about it. Is this what passes for "honour" nowadays in China? Is this savvy business? Is this why we shake business people's manicured hands and kiss their Armani covered asses? For perfecting the art of greed? For overcoming innate measures of ethics? For upsetting the social compact, exploiting their brother and sisters' efforts at good, for personal gain?

I must have just had some bad luck, right? It can't be that bad. Not everybody successful lies and cheats like this. Well let's look at another example. Where should we look? Hmmm... how about the richest country in the world? The one that has been setting business and social trends for decades now and probably has the premier example of what I'm talking about LEADING the entire country right now. Let's look at King Donny Trump. He's a caricature of a man who proves almost daily that a person doesn't need to be smart to fit into the trends of despicable business and anti-morality nowadays, in fact it probably helps to be stupid.

He grabs women by their pussies, congratulates a despot on winning another sham election, enjoys defaulting on huge bank loans, makes fun of the handicapped, cheats on his taxes and his wives, thinks trade wars are good, hates people from "shithole" countries and, let's face it, wants everyone to be a little more Norwegian, fires the good, hires the bad, and probably could shoot someone in the middle of 5th avenue and get away with it. THIS is the new Teflon Don, folks. Nothing sticks to him. And he is in bed with another example of the moral depravity that we have elevated to a virtue in this world of ours. Putin is probably the richest man in the world and he didn't get that way by being a nice guy. He clearly has no conscience about cheating in every Olympics since Vancouver and it is most likely worse when it comes to ruling over Russia. He's the only guy Trump can borrow from any more and we will find that out if Mueller ever finishes his investigation. But will he?

It won't be easy to get rid of Mueller, but many think Trump will try. As I've summed up before, he has to get the attorney general to do it and he, inexplicably, has recused himself from all of the Russian nonsense. Oh, is that how it works in our world now? The most powerful lawmaker in a country can CHOOSE to not participate in the parts of his job that he doesn't like, no matter how important? Anyway, the assistant attorney general, on a weekly basis, says that by law there must be a good reason for excusing Mueller and he can't find one. So Trump will have to either fire the assistant attorney general and then I think the solicitor general, and then on down the line till he gets someone who will fire Mueller, or just retract the legislation that requires a good reason to fire him. If you think this hasn't happened before, you'd be wrong. Nixon fired two people to get to a man who would fire the lead investigator into the Watergate affair. All it did was make him look even guiltier. But, this is our brave, new world! If Trump does something similar to Nixon, would he get away with that too? We just might see!

And if all of this happens, before you shake your head and say, "How the hell can this happen?" this is NOT something that just came out of left field. It's been developing for decades. Do yourself a favour and give this a listen.

Trump, and I dare say Mr. Liu and Diana, are not the causes of the craziness in our world today, they are the products of a steady decline in morality, ethics and ideals practically worldwide. I remember along with Robert Reich and many people, the days when it seemed like folks in your neighbourhood, your school, your workplace, your country, were all working together for a common good. Something we don't need to be told from a lectern or a pulpit is good, we just KNOW it's good. And it is good that transcends any social, sexual, racial, religious, or national boundaries. It is what has been termed, "common sense." In the Bible it is said that God has given everyone a measure of faith so that we don't think of ourselves more highly than we ought. The Koran says that God has endowed man with an up-right nature. Buddhists search for that which is found through observation and analysis to be conducive to the good of one and all.

There are statements of ethical reciprocity, (the golden rule), in dozens of religions, and without being dramatic at all, if you can't figure it out for yourself, you are a cancer plaguing the planet. This "cancer" has reached epidemic proportions. We are voluntarily infecting ourselves and other people with it like it's some sort of virtue. Since long before Gordon Gecko said that greed was good, people have been changing from co-operative, sharing citizens to selfish, competitive arseholes and if you think it's been natural, you're ignorant. A lot of the politics, laws and societal agencies that have been orchestrating this shift since the 50's or 60's are outlined by Reich and we all know many more. In a very Big Brother sort of way, the shift has been successfully achieved and in a very real, Orwellian way, "Ignorance is power."

Until recently, I didn't know Jim Carrey was an artist. But he may have painted exactly the ugliness I'm talking about.



Sarah Huckabee Sanders is making a career out of lying. She is not an empirically ugly woman but the lies that drip like boiling acid from her prevaricating gob make her hideousness shine through so that I see what Carrey sees. Worse in fact. Some republicans were whining about how this portrait may have gone a little too far. I think Jim Carrey let her off easy. Her eyes COULD have been dollar signs!


Try to make it through this gem without throwing up. You NEED to be ignorant to fall for it. Yet, people do.

We are constantly being distracted by divisive lies about tertiary issues so that the evil rich can maintain and increase their empires. On the backs of the ignorant and submissive. We need to stop being submissive and demand a change from our world, but I don't think we can really do that until we become the change we want. Reich says he's heartened by protesting kids. I don't really share that optimism. While it IS nice to see kids forcing adults to act like adults, charity begins at home. How many of those marching kids made their beds or did their chores? How many of them are in total control of their households and take advantage of their parents' love for them for their own gain? This is another breakdown in the social compact that has been sold to us over the same amount of time. Kids are brats! And they're learning the manipulation at home that will make them successful manipulators, (liars, cheaters and thieves), in the messed up world.

I'm glad to see the kids marching against gun violence and asking adults to change things to make it safer for them in schools, and I am not saying this should not be done. But how about investigating the very real issue of the kids running the schools as well? Teachers aren't paid enough to get involved with bullying issues in schools and when it comes down to it, prayer meetings and group hugs may not be the best approach to every bully. I know the argument that you shouldn't hit somebody and tell them not to hit, but it IS a very good object lesson for a kid to know what it feels like to catch a beating. It worked for me!

Maybe if this were brought back into the mix, the prayer meetings and group hugs might be more effective. Just a thought. Anyone who uses pepper spray and works for the RCMP has to be shot in the face with pepper spray. Why? Obviously, it is a good teaching aid for a cop or prison guard to know what it feels like before he/she is given the power to use it. That's why when I got whacked in the head by a wooden spoon for fighting with my brother and my Mother said, "Do you like that? Huh? Do you want another?" I didn't think of the irony of her hitting me because I hit my brother, I was thinking of how much it sucked and how desperately I wanted it to stop. Afterwards I was thinking how good it felt when she stopped whacking me with the wooden spoon. With a little psychology employed, like saying, "See, this is how you made your brother feel," she was able to get her point across very well. And my Mom was not Sigmund Freud.

How many kids in these school protests are being assholes to other kids in their schools? How many are actually bullying other kids. Certainly they don't deserve to be mowed down by machine gun fire, but safety in schools can be improved a great deal, I think, by recognizing bullying, both physical and psychological, and limiting it. I was bullied and I totally relate to some victims' feelings of isolation and exclusion. I never considered suicide or murder, but I was brought closer to it by my asshole classmates who called me stinky and quickly brushed off any part of their body I may have touched. These were mostly girls, mind you. But even though the boys liked me and I was a good addition to the sports, they were too scared to befriend me.

Now, imagine if I saw these girls, or even the boys, protesting against gun violence while they perpetrate psychological and social violence on me every day. So here's what I'm saying. Do both. Walk out, but also walk UP to somebody and be their friend. And, parents, beat your kids like a Baltimore biatch from time to time. Whether they need it or not, they could use the object lesson.

Parents have gone from this:


To this:


I just bet "Mr. Liu" and "Diana" ran THEIR households and were bratty kids. They went from selfishly disobeying their parents to selfishly disobeying the proper conduct that parents ALL try to instill in their children. I hope their own children do the same to them.

At any rate, I wish it WERE more shocking to me to see the rise of evil accelerating, but it's not too hard to pinpoint the causes. It certainly isn't as hard as it will be to rectify them. If they ever get rectified at all. I rarely disagree with Robert Reich but we are divergent on whether there is hope to achieve this. I sure hope he's right and I'm wrong!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Contract Killer

It is now the start of what should have been my second week of work at the new school. I am not at the new school. I am still in Korea and I am still being blocked by the most insane law I've encountered since becoming an ESL teacher. My expired foreign expert certificate remains un-cancelled by my former employers, Huasheng. This is blocking my prospective employers from processing a NEW work visa for me.

The question, "Why would an expired certificate need to be cancelled?" is the first thing one would ask. The explanation of the foreign expert certificate, (FEC), and what it is might help. What it is is a glowing example of the unnecessary paperwork China seems to be in love with. It's a piece of paper that basically says you have a skill that is marketable in China and there aren't many Chinese people with that skill that you might be taking a job away from. I speak English fluently and have a degree to prove it. Chinese people in general don't speak English fluently. Why we require a paper that states this is anybody's guess. But this is not the most ludicrous thing about the situation. Not by far.

Acquiring the FEC is part of the process of getting a legal Z work visa in China. It is one of several certificates that are required. A residence permit, a work permit, an FEC, a medical check, a negative criminal record check verified by a Chinese embassy in your country, a copy of your degree verified by the embassy in your country, a couple pics and some other application forms that contain the same information on the other forms. When you have all of this ready, then you can submit a request to the government and they approve or deny your request to work in China. After that, you get a temporary Z visa with which your employer can get the actual documents listed above once you've arrived and started work in China.

So, again, why does it need to be cancelled? If I get all the other stuff, why can't the new employer cancel the old FEC while obtaining the new one? The new Z visa doesn't even require the old FEC to be cancelled technically.

What happened was my new school started processing the new work visa and were told that my old FEC was not cancelled. I told them that I had repeatedly asked the old employer to cancel it but they wouldn't do so because then they would have to pay me and they just didn't want to pay my final salary. In order to cancel the FEC, they need a sort of "end of contract" contract. They told me many many times to sign one of these and I refused. I refused because it contained the clause, "All dealings with (my former employer), are now completed and no more money is owed." Or something to that effect. I said that obviously I can't sign this until that was the case and it wasn't the case. They still owed me money. So I made it clear they would pay me first and then I would sign.

They just harassed me to try to get me to sign but refused to do what they should do and what the document says they have done. Even if I had signed, it wouldn't have guaranteed that Huasheng would have cancelled the FEC, however. All I would have gotten would have been their PROMISE to cancel. And their promise is worth less than nothing. That had become abundantly clear long before that point.

So we were at an impasse. I decided to just apply for a new job and let the certificate expire. My future employer, (Donna, the person who interviewed me), assured me that this would work. Well it hasn't worked. For some reason expiration is not enough. It needs to be cancelled. It gets stupider.

Victoria U., my prospective employer, has told me that it is ILLEGAL for Huasheng to refuse to cancel the FEC. They heard this from their visa department. So if it's illegal, how do we force them to cancel it? Well even though they say they are eager to get me working for them, they are not eager enough to look into this problem. I spent money going to the hospital to get a physical, going to Beijing to be fingerprinted, getting the criminal record check and stamped degree, and leaving the country so as to facilitate the Z-visa processing. The school told me this would all be reimbursed, but I was the one who paid for it all. It was over 1000 bucks not to mention the time and hassle.

Now Victoria U. is leaving it up to me to solve the FEC issue, FROM KOREA, and wishing me well. They have said nothing about sharing the expense that I endured after signing the contract, becoming their employee and being promised payment for the visa legwork. I don't think they'll pay me anything. And the expensive documents remain in their possession.

I have asked a couple people who I worked with at TUST to help me out by phoning around and finding out how to cancel the FEC. Another girl nicknamed Doris, who was the person working for Huasheng who was charged with convincing me to sign the end of contract contract, is also looking into things for me. She wasn't paid for working for Huasheng either and successfully went to a Labour office who forced Huasheng to pay her. She asked the office if they could get MY money back as well and they said they could. However, I was worried at the time about someone finding out about my working for Huasheng on a business visa before we got my Z visa.

I explained all of this to the representatives of Victoria U. back in December and January and said that it might be a good idea to get some of this stuff done in January just in case we have trouble with the new visa laws. Well I've been told that this problem we are having IS related to one of the new visa laws. They DID inform someone at the university where VU is located in Shenyang, Liaoning University, that my former employer was blocking me and that person called them. The result was who ever they reached, (probably the compulsive liar, Mr. Liu), telling them how I had wronged Huasheng and quit in the middle of my contract to work for another school. And I guess that same story is the one that was told to whatever office is not cancelling my expired FEC.

So, Huasheng, a company that has cheated me out of about 15-20 thousand bucks that I would have made working with them; a company who COMPLETELY changed my contract half way through causing me to quit, then threatened to have me booted out of China the next day and have my bad name and bad things published about me in the newspaper; a company who, through their shady dealings, lost the contract they had signed me on for, were unable to find me other work for the months of July and August, then in September illegally farmed me out to another school without signing the proper documents; THIS company is now able to block me from earning an entire year of wages by doing some more lying to the proper people. (Consult the "Ow My Ass" post for the details)

I have no idea if I'll be able to get this situation resolved even with the help of all the good people who are trying to get it straight. I'm losing hope to tell you the truth. And even if I hear that the FEC was cancelled this week, I don't know if there's enough time to still get hired on at VU.

So this looks to be another Lincoln International School situation. If you remember, that was the place I moved to and then found that their major investor, (who was Chinese), was busted for business fraud and they withdrew their offer of a year's work to me.

And before that was the Wall Street Indonesia fiasco where I was brought over on a business visa and told I would work there for a year, but shortly after starting work I had to be let go due to a government crackdown on Wall Street for bringing workers over on business visas instead of the proper work visas.

So this appears to be the third time in about 4 years that I've signed on for a year of work and had it taken away for some reason. And if you go back to 2010, there was the contract I signed with Dongshin University that I had to eat due to new visa laws in Korea.

A person is unlucky if this happens once to them. Twice is an absolute travesty! Four times and you are some kind of phenomenon! Four times in 8 years? Once every two fucking years?!?! There's no word for that. So 100 won for the person who can suggest the best name for what it is that I do better than most. Maybe better than anyone. Until I hear a better suggestion, I think I'll call myself a contract killer.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Bloggin' Beerin' and Batin' in Korea

I didn't want to do this before I got good news on my new work visa, but... there's no good news on my new work visa. I was supposed to have started work today at Victoria University on the campus of Liaoning University in Shenyang, China. I am still languishing, (not to say pulling my pud), in Korea while people try to unfuck what the asinine new visa laws have fucked for me. You see? This is why I didn't want to blog about this yet. But the time to stop ignoring the obvious: I have probably just spent lots of money and wasted months of time preparing for a job I won't be able to work... AGAIN!

I don't want to be negative. Don't get me wrong. I know how people would sometimes rather be "pozzed" than hear the negative facts. I think my unlikely future employers have been pozzin' me for a couple of months now. Back in late December and early January when I was offering to get the visa issues all taken care of early and warning that I'd already had problems with new rules and it might be wise to take precaution just in case a new rule slows things down, I was told that it isn't good to philosophize about problems we might have in the future. I was given that increasingly dreaded ESL pozzing phrase, "Don't worry."

But here we are in the future and all that positivity, all that not worrying, all that inaction hasn't helped anybody. Who'da thunk it? Since when can't all the problems in the world be solved by remaining positive?

So evidently there are four teachers who should be starting today and aren't. The school has had to call in teachers from the past and do some double shifting with a goal of getting us all at the school and hastily and haphazardly organized three weeks late. Which was exactly what I had hoped to avoid. But I was just being negative. Silly me!

Back when I was still in China I was getting all the paperwork done for the new Z visa so I could work at the new job. The Chinese have a national fetish for paperwork. No, let me amend that, it's a fetish for redundant or completely unnecessary paperwork. The fingerprinting, the criminal record check, the document shuffling, this has already cost me over a thousand bucks. A thousand bucks that could have been spent on the Olympics, or, right now, on surviving until the blasted visa permission letter is processed. I even offered to get housing, banking and moving squared away, but that was better left for the few days before the semester started. What was I thinking?

So instead I have my stuff packed up and stored in my apartment at Taiyuan University of Science and Tech.


And there it remains all vulnerable and useless. I was told I could leave it in my apartment for a month, which is all that was needed IF I had been able to get things done according to the expected schedule. The positive thinking schedule. People sometimes call me negative, but I've learned never to think positive when it comes to this sort of thing. Korea, Indonesia, China, it doesn't matter. 

Back when I left China for Korea in late January, my new school had all the documents they needed and they told me it would take them 2-3 weeks to process a visa permission letter that I need to get my Z visa here in Korea at the Chinese embassy. Well, since coming here, I've found that you don't get it at the Chinese embassy, you get it somewhere else. I've sent an email there and have been told there is a Chinese visa application service center just down the hill from where I'm staying. It's in Seoul Station. I walk there in 30-40 mins, give them that letter and BAM, (well not so much BAM, but in 4 days), I have my temporary Z visa that I will need to get my real one back in China.

Well it's already been almost 5 weeks and we're stuck. The first problem originated at the school. I guess they were having trouble with the new visa laws, (or just didn't want to do the processing since it was holiday time, (Chinese New Year)), so they decided that it might be possible to get us all over there in time by getting us F visas, for business, instead of the proper Z visas. Liaoning U. suggested that to Victoria U. and, since it's illegal, they rightfully said no. So we will all have to wait an extra 3 weeks, (and that's probably positively thinking), for our Z visa permission papers. 

But I just wouldn't be me if I had the same problems as other people. I INVENT problems when it comes to work visas, immigration, any kind of dealings with the bureaucracy of this racket. It seems that, (brace yourselves for my latest invention), my foreign professional certificate, which expires when my past work visa expires, Feb. 19, needs to be cancelled by my former employer. NO, not TUST, my PREVIOUS employer, where all my stuff is, the one before that, Huasheng, who illegally farmed me out to TUST, illegally changed my contract half way through it and has illegally withheld my last month's pay. THOSE assholes need to cancel my foreign expert certificate that is already expired OR I can't pursue work elsewhere in China. Apparently this is one of the new visa rules, presumably part of the government's anti-corruption campaign. I guess, "The power to screw employees out of pursuing work elsewhere will NEVER be taken advantage of by employers," was the thinking behind this new and improved rule. 

So at this moment, I have given contact information to Matthew, the new head teacher at VU or LU, and he has told me basically, "Don't worry." They have people at LU who can call my former employer and be persuasive, and they will get Huasheng to cancel my foreign expert certificate. I like his positivity, but I predict Huasheng will not only NOT cancel, for the reason they gave me and Doris, (their former employee who was also screwed by Huasheng and advocated for me a little bit), "then they would have to pay me the money they are illegally withholding." No, they will most likely demand a contract saying they not only don't have to pay me that, but my new employer, or I, will also have to pay them a whole pile more to get them to cancel the document. An ingenious bite taken out of corruption by the bureaucrats who pushed this new law through!

I have asked Doris to contact the employees who currently work at Huasheng, who are all being screwed by Huasheng and will quit en masse after spring festival, if they could cancel my foreign expert cert., or at least get me a copy of it. I also asked the faithful Faith, who was screwed worse than anyone by Huasheng, if she could do anything. She knows how to cancel these things online and remembers the password to get onto Huasheng's site, but if that password has changed, she won't be able to do anything. I also asked my previous employer, TUST, if they had a copy of my foreign expert cert and was told they never had one. Further proof that the whole time I worked for them was just a joke. An illegal handshake agreement between them and Huasheng. 

I have a blank of the document that is necessary and will gladly just fill in the blanks with the appropriate signatures or stamps if I have to. So now it's not just the employer encouraged to break laws by this new visa rule, it's the employee as well. I won't be the first or last.

At any rate, I'm spending instead of earning again, waiting for a job, wasting time and money bunking with my ever-enduring Peet/Spiwaks. They put me up, feed me and beer me on an annual basis when I'm enduring the tribulations caused by the inept, the stupid and the CURSEDLY HYPERPOSITIVE! And, God please bless them, they take very good care of me!

Ribs and potato salad. Prepped by me but provided by the hosts.

Dalk kalbi. Maybe my favourite Korean food. Since the Peet/Spiwaks are 6 in number, they usually think nothing of my mouth being a 7th to feed. They're in for a free holiday in China someday. Hopefully I can be a good host to them 4 years from now when the winter Olympics come to China.


And I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to my other host and hostess, DB and Amber. They keep me well taken care of, as you can see. (the beer in the middle is mine)

So I don't fear disaster, yet, but it sucks to be here when I could so easily be there! I heard of a Ted Talk, but haven't yet seen it, in which a girl who worked in Asia says that in the west, everything is "hurry up and wait," whereas in the east it's "wait, wait, wait THEN hurry up." I think I concur. Even if there is no way to get Huashyte to cancel my FEC and I have to find other employment, I am here in Korea where I can get an emergency job at a hagwon if I have to. And as for my stuff, I HAVE been told to move it as soon as I can, but if I don't, I doubt anyone will do anything with it. Nobody at TUST had the energy to hire me legally, they probably won't be fucked to move a box full of books.

We shall see how this, my newest dramatic adventure in ESL, plays out.

It's never dull over here.