Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Calling the Shots

How long has it been since you watched that movie, "The Fugitive," starring Harrison Ford? That was great wasn't it? The movie came out in '93 so it's 22 years old. Geez, age check! But there was a TV series that came out in 1963! 52 years ago for crying out loud! In the '93 movie a one-armed man, Fredrick Sykes, kills Dr. Richard Kimble's, (Harrison Ford's), wife and Kimble gets blamed for it but on his way to the chair the prison bus goes off the road and then gets hit by a train just as Kimble jumps off of it. We know the ensuing manhunt that results when Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard, (Tommy Lee Jones got the best supporting Oscar for the role), searches every warehouse, penthouse, greenhouse, whorehouse, doghouse, shithouse, etc, etc.

But the part of the movie that is most interesting and topical to today's blog post is the part about Kimble's colleague, Dr. Charles Nichols and the fiendish, murderous plot he devised to allow for the drug "Provasic" to be released by pharmaceutical corporation "Devlin-McGregor." Member that? Dr. Kimble had experimented with Provasic in the past and found conclusively that it lead to liver damage. But the drug stood to make Devlin McGregor, AND the diabolical Dr. Nichols a lot of money. So it turned out that the one-armed man was actually sent to kill Richard Kimble and he showed up late to his own murder leading to his wife's collateral damage death and two hours worth of running, hiding, helping people and not being recognized while getting to the bottom of the whole mess.

Yeah, it was a bit unrealistic, but not the part about the drug company and the evil that an expensive drug can lead to. Or a highly profitable sickness, as it were. I read this article about the world's most expensive drug, Soliris the other day. It's about a drug called Soliris, which is used to fight two very rare diseases, PNH and aHUS, which both cause anemia, organ failure and ultimately death. The drug is not a cure but has shown to be astoundingly effective! Some doctors call it "miraculous." It is suggested in the article that the real cost to make the drug, including research and development, is probably about 1% of the actual price of the drug. Given that it is now as high as 700,000 per person per year in Canada, and the drug then is estimated to have cost 7000 dollars, it is concluded that the price was set by pharmaceutical company Alexion, which makes it and holds a monopoly on its production until 2017, to be simply what the market would bear. And what would a person with anemia and organ failure pay for a miracle drug that fixes his/her condition? What would a parent pay to stop his/her kid from suffering organ failure and anemia? And what kind of scumbag would charge that much?

No doubt the people at Alexion, a corporation, would hide behind the old, familiar, "It is our feduciary responsibility to the shareholders to exact the maximum profit from our product." I read in Forbes online magazine about the Steven Squinto and Leonard Bell, who started Alexion and are regarded as heroes in the article. They and their shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank while Alexion shares are up 600% and the company is outperforming Apple. They are described as unassuming and self-depracating in the Forbes article, but are these guys Jonas Salk or Charles Nichols? Jonas Salk, as you SHOULD know, was the inventor of the Polio vaccine. He, unlike the two shrewd businessmen above, did NOT patent the polio vaccine and it is estimated that he lost a cool 7 billion bucks for being a good human being.

I don't guess I have to tell you that my expectations were more to the Charles Nichols, murderous, sickness profiteer possibility so I admit going into this investigation with a bias. Nonetheless, I think you'll find my results compelling. At least a good illustration as to why Big Pharma should take a little bit more of their fair share of responsibility when it comes to the mistrust people have of drugs, vaccines and doctors and the resulting comebacks of many diseases once eradicated. Including Polio believe it or not! I watched the documentary, "Vaccines: Calling the Shots," and there is a dude in there who, in America, got Polio! Not so long ago!

At any rate, back to Soliris. The drug was released in 2007 and found to be amazing in the treatment of PNH. It was released later as a treatment for aHUS like around 2010ish if I remember correctly. Of course different countries, different drug administrations, different release dates. But when I say, "released," I mean there were doctors ruling on its safety and trusting in its thorough testing and readiness for the safe use by the public. Well a not so funny thing happened in the use as a treatment for aHUS. It was found that Soliris caused the immune system to function less efficiently and lead to a high occurrence of meningococcal virus in its users. This is not a pleasant thing to have. It is a life-threatening virus. Here is a letter from a doctor in the Netherlands written in 2011 about the spectacular results of Soliris but the high incidence of meningococcal virus and to get more technical, the fact that the treatments to combat the meningococcal virus to that point in time were not very effective in combatting the meningococcal B strain. It is a suggestion for the creation of a meningococcal B antigen. A vaccine was required to use in conjunction with Soliris in order to continue getting such amazing results and to stop the incidence, or more accurately the drug CAUSING more meningococcal B in its users. Now this, as I said before, is not just a minor side effect. Read this. 5-10% die despite rapid treatment!!! Also brain and nerve damage, loss of limbs, not nice.

As late as 2014 Soliris was declared unsafe by many countries until, in October of 2014, what a coincidence, ha hah haha... the invention of the extraordinarily timely meningococcal B vaccine! And in November, a huge effort made by Soliris to maintain the massive profits the recommendation to the medical professionals, and they included it on the box, was to give patients the newly developed meningococcal B vaccine 2 weeks prior to the prescription of Soliris. Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines Trumenba, (made by Pfizer) and Bexsero, (made by Novartis), were on the scene saving the multi-billion dollar drug Soliris in the knick of time! And despite being approved only for ages 10 to 25 they are now being used in patients of all ages. In fact babies are being vaccinated with them.

Now, knowing all of this, would you be a tiny bit leary of these vaccinations? I mean the price fixing; the neglect of patients who couldn't afford the most expensive drug in the world; the obvious release of the drug too early to capitalize on the patent Alexion has until 2017; the unknown number of patients who contracted and maybe DIED from meningococcal B virus BECAUSE of Soliris; the INCREDIBLY fast development and distribution of a meningococcal B virus vaccine that previously didn't exist; the INCREDIBLY fast progress of this vaccine from 10-25 year olds into regular baby vax...

Call me a conspiracy theorist but I sure as fuck don't want it! But now the well established, however jeuvenile, ubiquitous defence against all of my research: "ANTI-VAXXER!" You see, society at large, and unbelievably, the scientific and medical communities both have espoused a kind of "If you hate one vaccination, you hate them all" way of pressuring people into getting vaccinated. They completely discount the ability people have to think for themselves, do research, use the internet or even, gasp, read books and assume we need to be bullied into getting vaccinated. I completely understand people who don't trust vaccinations. I will consent that many have been proven effective and should be trusted. Like Polio, Measles, the ones you ALWAYS see in Pro-vax documentaries and/or arguments. But I contend that the medical profession, doctors and drug companies have many many many secrets. How hard is it to get a list of ingredients on your vaccination? The fault is not with people who don't trust vaccinations. Dispicable behaviour by the medical community DEMANDS our mistrust. It also demands more transparency and honesty. Profits be damned, I want anything that goes directly into my blood stream to be well tested, safe and labeled. I believe I have that right. I don't just want some ignorant professional, who may have just come back from a holiday in Tahiti financed by Pfizer to just TELL me to spike up and quit being such a conspiracy theorist. In many cases the doctor or nurse giving you the shot knows just as little as you about what the hell is in it. This has got to change.

In conclusion, don't be fooled by the ever inelegant arguments against questioning the medical profession. They, like all professions, need to be kept honest. Don't just trust your doctor, demand that he/she knows his/her stuff. And for the sake of yourself and your children, do some research on what you pump into your bodies. How can anybody be telling you that's wrong to do unless they're trying to sell you something? Something that may be 99% too expensive!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Job Update

The following will be another one of those posts that is written down for myself at a later date. Hopefully my gainfully employed, snickering self saying, "Oh man, those were tough times. I can't believe things ever got that bad. Certainly NOTHING like now..."

I have now been in Korea since April 18th. That's pretty much 10 weeks. I can remember John from Wall Street in Indonesia saying to me, "Just go over there for a couple weeks while we get your KITAS settled here and then we'll bring you back. Of course John said he had found me a month of full time work for the month of January. Well that fell through. Then he said I should pay my rent at the kost where I was staying until the end of February and by then he'd have me working part time at one of the Wall Street locations for a week or so while my KITAS was being processed. Well that didn't happen either. But while all of this was happening I was teaching some classes privately and I was losing students because I was telling them that I'd soon be working at Wall Street full time. I kept getting, "Just a couple more weeks," from John and I kept losing students. Then it got to the point I've described in this blog already when my visa had to be renewed for the fifth time. It was a one-year business visa and I had to go to Singapore to renew it every two months. Immigration had already expressed their suspicions that I was working in Indonesia when I had renewed it the fourth time. They were POSITIVE I was working illegally the fifth time. I had to lie my ass off because Wall Street had brought me over to teach under false pretenses. I was not told that I'd be brought over on an illegal visa. I still have the email sent the day before I got on the plane from John saying, "By the way, if Immigration asks, just tell them you are here going to meetings and doing training." That was the first clue I got of these shenanigans. Then I had to stop working at Wall Street cuz the government found out, I found another job in Indo where I was promised a KITAS and never got one, I quit that nightmare job and went freelance, Wall Street patched up its problems with the government and I signed contracts with them again in late December or early January. I signed contracts with Wall Street to do a REAL year with them with the PROPER visa, and I waited. And waited. About 2 months of waiting before I had to renew my business visa for the last time.

But John said, "Don't worry, your KITAS will be ready before your visa runs out." I was renewed for another 2 months. SURELY 4 months would be enough for a visa! So I lived with my friend Mr. Jang, worked a minimal number of private classes illegally because I had no choice, and believed John that Wall Street had things under control. "A couple more weeks." I don't know how many times I heard that from John but one time he said it was when I only had one week left in my visa. So then came the suggestion to go to Korea. I could have gone anywhere but Korea was a short, cheap trip, I had friends there who would let me stay with them, I could look for work there just in case Wall Street was just stringing me along, and I had a couple friends who said they'd lend me some money. Problem was I had to borrow money to GET to Korea. I didn't even have enough for the trip. I asked Wall Street to pony up since they HAD brought me over illegally without my knowledge and it was because of that that I was in this mess. Nothing. They would rather I ended up deported or in Indonesian jail. I had to borrow money from another Korean friend in Indonesia just to buy my ticket. I flew over to Korea and was there 5 days before I heard anything from Wall Street asking if I was, you know, like incarcerated or not.

To review Wall Street hired me knowingly on the wrong visa and kept that information from me until I had invested all my money into the move from Canada over to Indonesia to work for them. It wasn't cheap. They got busted and left me in a position where I had to take whatever job I could get in the one month I had to find one. They offered me a plane ticket back to Canada at THAT time but stiffed me when I had to vacate Indonesia in order to allow visa processing to work for them again. The two months I spent working for Wall Street were great. I didn't mind the work and I had no problem with traffic because I lived right next to Pondok Indah Mall where I worked. The other ten months were spent broke, lying to the government and illegally working with the specters of deprotation and/or jail hanging over my head every day.

Well guess what, my KITAS is ready! And it only took 6 months!!! John has been increasingly apologetic in his emails and, though it hasn't been HIM really lying, cheating and screwing me around, he has done so on behalf of Wall Street, rightfully so. In this latest email he says he's sorry for the ridiculous wait time I have been put through and he knows I've all but lost my faith in Wall Street, but come back and work for us ASAP! In fact he mentions ASAP three times and "quickly" once. Like I'm supposed to drop everything and jump back onto that sinking ship. He says, "I know you'd probably like to give me an earful, but I have been working my ass off trying to get you back over here." I have a feeling his ass is still on.

The offer in Indonesia will not even be the offer I signed up for. I wanted, after my experience with English Today driving all over Jakarta in the world's worst traffic, to not work in Jakarta at all. I was offered a position in Alam Sutera where my friend, Annemarie lives and where I have access to everything without the brutal traffic. I was also told that most teachers there live in an apartment right across the street from Wall Street. No taxi, no traffic. But that's not what I'll get. I will get posted at one of the OTHER Wall Streets and will get a place that won't likely be as close as the place I was in when I worked in Ponkok Indah. So I will have to suffer another year of Jakarta and its traffic. It will only be a couple times a day but still, not the premium offer I signed up for. And only 17 million RP which is about 1700 bucks a month. Before taxes. And Jakarta, as opposed to Alam Sutera, is expensive.

Now compare this to Korea, where I am now. I have had some hard luck here finding my way through the new and improved barriers Korea has thrown up to keep foreign workers unemployed and frustrated. Not to mention my usual impeccable timing, I have arrived at the height of the MERS hysteria here. So let's see I have had one camp cancelled because of MERS. That was 3 weeks with room and board paid and 3 million won. That's 3 thousand bucks. I have had one 18-day camp at Gwangju University and a 5 week teacher training gig given to me and then snatched away by the new and improved bureaucracy here. You see neither place knew of the C-4 visa and how complicated and expensive it is. Both jobs would have been SWEET and both say that I fit perfectly for the positions and that they really wanted to hire me, but here I am. So that's a total of 7,600,000 won. Over 7 thousand bucks down the shitter so far.

But I'm not finished! I was actually offered a job at Pagoda in Seoul as well. I worked for two years at Pagoda back at the beginning of my career. It was a lot of work but I worked with some awesome people so it was pretty good. This time around I got a distinct feeling that Pagoda wouldn't have been much better than Wall Street. They wanted to hire me part time though the hours I'd have been working were certainly not part time. I'd work 4 hours in the early morning and 4 hours at night. I'd be starting at 7AM and off at 9 PM. So that means, (and I did this before), up at 5 or even earlier if there's transit involved, and home at 10 or later depending on transit. That's if I live in I Tae Won, where I would want to live. But because I would have been part time I would not be given the accomodation that full timers get. Not even the key money. This was the deal breaker. The minimum key money would have been 5 thou. That's a kind of downpayment. And THEN I would have paid rent. It's now much more expensive than it used to be in I Tae Won so even though I'd be working long hours I'd be making less, paying more and without key money it wasn't even going to happen. So that was another big pile of money that I had and then it was taken away. I also would have had to get the C-4 visa for that position with my own money. I didn't know it yet but that involved a 3-day stay in Japan. That's not cheap.

So where does that leave me? I have given up on the short-term work here like camps and intensive courses because of the damn C-4 bullshit. So my options are either I take the job in Indonesia and go back to a country I like a lot less to work for a company that I don't trust as far as I can throw it. I am inclined to stay in Korea. But if I do I will need to do one of two things I don't like doing: I will either have to take a job at a private learning institute here ideally teaching adults but I may have to settle for kids, sign a one-year contract and then break that contract in late August when I get an offer from a much better university gig. OR I could find a few under-the-table contracts like I did in Indonesia and freelance illegally until the uni gigs come around. This I don't want to do because I could get booted out of Korea and I don't want to jeopardize my chance at a uni gig. I have some places interested in me and in the ensuing two months while universities are losing hope that doctorate holders who look like Brangolina will accept their positions, I will get more interviews.

GIFLE in Pyeongtaek, where I get a nice apartment on campus, 2.6 mil/mo. (2600 bucks) and it starts in either July or August is interested. I was supposed to hear from them this week but nothing yet. MERS???

Dongshin University in Naju, near Gwangju where I get an apartment, work a dozen hours a week, get over 4 months of paid vacation and make 2.1 mil a month, (2100 bucks), is interested. I can also watch Kia Tiger games! I will hear from them next week. Dongshin actually signed me to a contract in 2010 but I couldn't do it because I didn't have my criminal record check. It came 2 days after the deadline. I got an email from a guy who knows that and he knows me. There's no reason why I wouldn't be signed by them again. Here's the contract:

The Naju City School Board is interested in having me teach in public middle and high schools in Naju, where I am half an hour away from Champions Field and Kia Tiger home games. I don't know the details of the deal yet but it will be the standard free apartment and 2.3 or 2.4 mil a month for 20 hours a week probably.

There are other places that are possibilities as well and new ones popping up every day. Nothing is definite though. Indonesia IS definite. It's the one and ONLY thing Indonesia has going for it.

What do you think I should do? I'm in an apartment in Incheon now staying for free by myself for the next few weeks while Amber and DB are vacationing. I am not in as big a hurry as Wall Street is. I can wait and see what GIFLE and Dongshin say. That's just one more week. And in that week, who knows what OTHER offers may come? I think that's what I'm going to do although John wants me to book a flight to Singapore and meet him there on Canada Day, July 1st. Maybe by Canada Day I'll be legally employed here in Korea.

I think I just might reply to John's email and say that if I don't get free accomodation within walking distance and if I don't get to work in Alam Sutera, no deal. I'd say they owe me at LEAST that much. But what if they agree to that???

With any luck some GIFLE or Dongshin will offer me jobs and I won't have to worry about that. We shall see...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We Don't Need Another Zero

There are a few things bouncing around in my brain these days. One being the old Tina Turner tune, "We Don't Need Another Hero," many thanks to Amber for that! But have you ever listened closely to the lyrics of that song? I can sing about half of the lyrics to half of the songs of the 80's but some of them I have never consciously considered as the poetry they are. Have you ever done that? I'm showing my age here but I've known songs for decades before actually paying close attention to their lyrics and getting their message. Ever hear an old favourite and go, "Oh, yeah! 'Your friends don't dance and if they don't dance well they're no friends of mine.'" That's so deep!

Okay maybe Men Without Hats wasn't the greatest example. But how about this:


BOOM! I wonder when we are ever gonna change... We'll come back to this.

Another of the strands in old Duder's mind these days is something a great deal of people are thinking about: the Charleston church shooting and its perp whose name I don't need to type because of the resulting celebrity that comes with any such actions. We all know his name. Hell, we already know so much about this zero that we know he was treated to a meal by the police at Burger King. Hungry work, shooting people! I have yet to read the details of what he ordered for that meal but they are probably out there. Why do we want to know if this psychopathic kid who "wanted to kill black people" prefers Whoppers to chicken burgers? Here are all the details.

What we really SHOULD know is what Adreanna Prussia or Craig Nelson had for THEIR last meals. But we don't know who they are, do we? They are local business owners in the Charleston area that used their businesses, a bakery and a bar respectively, to drum up some dough for the families of the shooting victims. Now I know that these charitable actions can probably be used as tax write-offs and actually not cost the businesses anything. I know that Starbucks and other corporations donating to the cause are probably doing so for tax purposes. And because big business greases government and legislators to write tax laws so that things like this can happen, it's all part of the plan. So the REAL heroes are the people buying beer or cupcakes, but my point is, why don't we hear about this? Instead we get news of bad cops taking this multiple murderer out for burgers.

I understand the outrage of people when they hear that he complained of hunger and was given some BK to ease his suffering. He has brought a great deal of suffering onto so many people that maybe his punishment should have started with a few hunger pangs while the bodies of his victims were still warm. Call me crazy but I think perhaps this kid has lived a life without a lot of things that might have gone a long way to the avoidance of his crime, and three of them were hunger, suffering and punishment. I'm sure his upbringing, personality, home life, school life, the entire 21 year history of this young nothing will soon be a matter of public record, (if it already isn't), and although he is no better than the contents of a used tissue, people will ravenously devour every word of it. And I'm guessing that he has lived a life with little to no responsibility. He's a high school drop out with no job. Wanna bet he didn't do much around the house either? He was involved in drugs and tresspassing or breaking and entering I think it was. Could it be that idle hands, in his case, were the devil's playground and he was just so bored that he got into trouble?

I often wonder at the criminals who return to the scene of their crimes. The bombers who take responsibility for bombings. The kids who push the expensive knick-knack to the edge of the shelf and despite looking directly into the eyes of a parent warning, "Don't you dare do that," they dare to do that and push it off the edge knowing full well that there will be consequences. Then I hearken back to Psych 1100 where I learned that to some psyches the craving for attention becomes so strong that the differentiation between positive and negative attention is almost irrelevant. In fact I was recently watching the Dog Whisperer and he said something identical about dogs! In any case, human or canine, the absolute worst thing that can be done is to over-react and feed the craving for attention with hysteria. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think that Whopper, (even if it was a double), did half as much to feed this young zero's hunger than the news stories, internet fame, publishing of his manifesto, and pics of him burning the American flag and holding the confederate flag, and the many other examples of hysteria have done to feed this kids narcissistic desire for attention. And here I go feeding it again...

Maybe this kid is just a bad seed. Maybe his parents were very good at not over or under-reacting to him getting kicked out of school, buying firearms, getting into drugs and crime, burning flags, joining racist and violent groups etc., but I'm betting there could have been something done to nip this in the bud. And I'm betting that in a society more concerned with social issues than monetary ones, the parents would have had more time, education and ability to deal with their troubled child. And in such a society maybe the racial issues wouldn't be so bad or the firearms so readily available to coddled 21-year-old racially confused wannabe martyrs. I'm quite certain that in such a society his mixed up manifesto might not have been published on the internet where other young, confused, bored kids could read it and jump to woefully uninformed opinions. Or maybe it would have been. It just would have been seen by the well-adjusted, properly educated kids who read it as the pure sewer sludge it was.

Now they're saying that it's shameful how many people are using this terrible crime as a means to further their personal opinions and platforms, but I think this and all the other radically violent shootings around the U.S. need to be treated as an indictment of a broken society. And the sooner the better. It's no accident that most of these things happen in the U.S. and before these attrocities stop happening or even become less frequent, the general public and the media will probably become bored with them. What an incredible thing to say! There seems to be only one way to stop this downward spiral. The world doesn't need - AMERICA doesn't need another zero like this. What we all need IS a hero. We need people in positions in which they can affect positive changes that will make for more harmonious, less violent societies that aren't someone's private castle in the air or friggin Thunderdomes. We need more, scroll up, love and compassion and less greed and selfishness. But the people in positions of power in this world are bankers, CEO's and politicians. Either of the first two would be neglecting what is their feduciary responsibility to the customer or shareholder by exhibiting any kind of love, compassion or reason. And if you have read this blog more than once, you will probably know I have practically no hope for the third category either. In fact upon hearing the recent news of the bombing outside the parliament buildings in Kabul, Afghanistan and hearing that none of the MP's were injured my feeling was less of relief than disappointment. Terrible isn't it? But through many years of life and much research I have come to the conclusion that it's the same kind of people who rise to the top in all four of these areas. Banking, CEO's, politicians AND killers are far better off being anti-social psychopaths because that sort of personality fits the job description, or what the job description has become. It is perhaps the most depressing sign of the times that in all four categories anti-social, sociopathic, even murderous behaviour is treated by society as heroic!

I see but one ray of hope.

I'm going to give my eyes a great big roll and say something that millions of people have said to perpetuate all the problems that come from or are related to the corrupt corporations that most modern governments are: THIS guy seems different. He seems genuine. I believe he will do what he says. Ugh, I just threw up a little bit in the back of my mouth. But if I were American I reckon I just might buy one of these shirts and, yes, even WEAR it! Take a look at what he's saying and you won't find much difference applying the priciples to any country. We're not that different from country to country. We all want the same things and our governments, banks, and bazillionaires are making the laws, writing the rules and running our countries so that we don't get those things. I think we all want that to stop. At least those of us that are still in touch with reason. And I firmly believe that if we change just that about our countries, we will see a drastic drop in incidents like the Charleston church massacre and the kind of deranged mentality that lead to it. I believe Bernie Sanders' policies are good for the financial AND mental health of the U.S. and they will be modeled in other countries when they start showing results. Here is just a small taste of what I'm talking about:

Bernie Sanders writes on "family values":

When my Republican colleagues talk about “family values,” what they usually mean is opposition to a woman’s right to choose, opposition to contraception, opposition to gay rights, and support for abstinence-only education. Let me give a somewhat different perspective on family values.

When a mother has a baby and is unable to spend time with that child during the first weeks and months of his or her life, that is not a family value.

When a wife is diagnosed with cancer and a husband cannot get time off of work to take care of her, that is not a family value.

When a mother is forced to send her sick child to school because she cannot afford to stay home with her, that is not a family value.

When a husband, wife, and kids, during the course of an entire year, are unable to spend any time together on vacation, that is not a family value.

The Republican agenda for families is really an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for.

When it comes to basic workplace protections and family benefits, workers in every other major industrialized country in the world get a better deal than workers in the United States. That should be an embarrassment to anyone who wants to talk seriously about family values in this country.

I'm running for president because I will stand for real family values. Please join our campaign now to help make paid family leave, sick days, and vacation days a reality for every working person in America.

It is not enough, though, to simply oppose the Republican agenda. That's why I'm proud to tell you what I think is a true agenda for family values.

Every worker in America should be guaranteed at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. That is a family value.

It is insane that low wage workers in McDonald’s who get sick are forced to work because they cannot afford to miss work. Workers in this country must have paid sick time so they don't get coworkers or customers sick on the job. That is a family value.

Every person who works for a living must have at least 10 days of paid vacation. Making sure families can afford to take some time off, without having to worry about going broke -- that is a family value.

Let’s be clear: in terms of protecting the needs of our families, in many respects, the United States lags behind virtually every major country on earth.

Last place is no place for America. It is time to join the rest of the industrialized world by showing the people of this country that we are not just a nation that talks about family values -- but that we are a nation that is prepared to live up to these ideals by making sure that workers in this country have access to paid family leave, paid sick time and paid vacations.

This is scary to the few, the sociopathic, the well armed of the world and this is why I fear for Bernie's life if he starts looking like he'll be the next president, but if he does get elected, I admit, I will have a little bit of hope in politics and politicians again. And it will restore a lot of lost hope in mankind altogether.

FEEL THE BERN everybody!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Continuing Korean Chronicles

This post will be as much for me in the future as it will be for any other reader. If I ever need to remind myself that staying employed is better than the HELL it is trying to find work and that maybe there are problems at work but they pale in comparison to the Herculean tasks set upon the unemployed by those who want to use our skills, personalities, abilities and expertise to make themselves piles and piles of dough, well I'll just have to refer back to this post.

Now I'm not one to complain, but...

I'll let that stand on its own. Come on, Korea!!! Could it be possible for them to make it even more difficult and tediusly time consuming than it ever was to get a friggin' job here? Answer: apparently.

Where to begin! Let's start with applications. I've been applying to jobs since getting to Korea and the information I include in my resumes, self-intros and cover letters is more than enough to get a good idea of who I am. But some schools want more. They either want to know more about you and don't trust their own interview skills, or they just want to see the level of tedium, useless, personal, impossible and sometimes illegal questions and/or requirements they can expose a prospective employee to before that employee gets either brain-numbed or offended enough to pack 'er in. Not an un-clever technique, just unconscionably diabolical. The end result is only people with high tolerance for anally retentive busy work, impolite, rude, unnecessary questions and other such assholery will make it to the interview portion of the job hunt. And if that IS the intent, I'm pretty sure it's gotta be because the job requires just such pain thresholds. And frankly, even though I am desperate to stem the inexorable flow of money in my life into the spent column and not the earned or saved, I don't want such a job. I wish I could give you some examples in full.

Here's one: I was all set to apply to Dongguk University today because the job sounds like a decent one. Then I perused the application requirements. You have to download and complete an application. The first three questions of said application are name, date of birth and religion. Well, 66% of these questions aren't supposed to be included on the applications of, how shall I word this... reasonable companies because they would tend to indicate either age or religious descrimination in said companies. Here in Korea, well they're just not reasonable I guess. The application goes on to require names and dates of education and employment. A common application request. But then there's a little blurb at the bottom saying, in my own personal paraphrasing, "We don't believe anything you write on this application so we require proof that is costly, difficult and sometimes impossible to produce." You need your degrees, diplomas and criminal record checks to be stamped, sealed or apostilled by people who have absolutely no way of verifying their authenticity, for example notary publics or workers at Korean consulates or embassies. The reason does not SEEM to be, it IS nothing more than making things less convenient for foreign applicants for work in Korea. Period. The geniuses at Dongguk U also request something that is difficult or not possible to get: official records of employment from previous positions. I have never received one of these from any of the many places I have worked here in Korea. I have requested one long after having worked there and received word that it would be sent, but never received it. The people at the administration offices of these places just have a million other more important things to do. But, as Dongguk University application authors say, "If you do not submit those documents, you will be excluded from the screening." I just said, "Well screw you then, Dongguk, I don't want your stupid job!" And thus, they eliminated a candidate who was probably possessed with a bullshit threshold the level of which is insufficient to perform the job at Dongguk University adequately. That is to say, a perfectly NORMAL bullshit threshold.

Other job ads state that "Christians will be given preference" or in the ad title state that such and such school is looking for a Christian employee... I saw a kids' camp advertised for a school that I know to be Seventh Day Adventist. They pay well! But no smoking, swearing or alcohol consumption will be tolerated during the camp. Talk about increasing the challenge level! They have the right to limit certain behaviours in their employees I guess, but does smoking, drinking or swearing make a person bad? Or does it necessarily indicate an inability to teach effectively? And while we're on the subject, what is it with the Korean form of Christianity that makes them feel so comfortable asking, "Are you Christian?" Because they do this at the interview too!(And at introductions, at the workplace, on the street, just about everywhere!) And although I have no way of knowing how much weight this holds as a criterion, I'm inclined to give a positive answer to it whether or not it's true. I'm sure there are a lot of people like that. This should not be the case on the grounds of proper behaviour as well as, believe it or not, religious grounds. I was walking down the street in Seoul the other day and a big, African man came up to me and invited me to take a flyer from his church and encouraged me to go to it. He asked me if I believed in Jesus. I said I did. He asked if I had ever heard John 3:16. I said I had. He then quoted the verse where it says where two or three are gathered in God's name there He is in their midst. And he started, no he was way past starting by then, he CONTINUED hounding me down the street even though I was saying things like, "Me and Jesus are just fine," or "Dude, I'm not gonna go to your church," or "I prefer the verse about worshipping in secret and not for the benefit of others but for yourself."

How many people know the Lord's Prayer? How many Catholics say it at least once every time they go to church? Tons and tons! But how many of us know where it is in the Bible and the context of it? Not many, right? I think it's because if word got out that Jesus actually taught people how to pray and worship and it bears little to absolutely NO resemblance to what is expected of so many "Christians" in so many churches today, well those churches might have difficulty, how shall I word this... making money. Check it out folks:

Matthew Chapter 6:1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.9 “This, then, is how you should pray..."

And it goes on, as we all know, "Our Father, which art in Heaven..."

I was not impressed by this big, black dude trying to pressure me into his church. In fact I was annoyed with him. I feel exactly the same when people in Korea make religion part of job acquisition. You know who I was impressed with? Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The twins who play for the Vancouver Canucks. There was a story in the news not so long ago exposing one of their long time secrets to the public: for years they had been secretly giving money to the Vancouver Children's Hospital. And nobody knew because they did it anonymously! THAT is the kind of thing that impresses me! I'm not impressed by religious bullies. And answer me this, shmarty pants, if Jesus owned a language school, would he give preference to Christians?

Anyway, let's move on. On to the visas and immigration. The bain of my former existence in Korea and I'm sure it will be no less frustrating this time around. It has already cost me a camp position. I had an interview with a camp in Gwangju University a couple of days ago. I had to miss the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs to travel there! And because the dude in charge of the camp had no idea what he was doing, he didn't know that I needed a visa to do his camp. He actually hired me and gave me a contract before I mentioned the visa and he said, "Oh yeah. That's pretty important." So he left it up to me to get all the information about the visa, both MY responsibilities and the camp's, do everything and let him know. That's what Amber and I did yesterday. We walked to the immigration office in Incheon. A nice, sweaty couple of hours. Good way to burn off the beer we may have had the night before. We get to the immigration office and I go up to the agent at the desk with a whole list of questions. She was able to verify that my visitor's visa is indeed the 6 months that we Canadians get here automatically. I was confused cuz the airport immigration agent wrote something that looks like "03 M." So at least THAT was good to find out! Then I asked about the C-4 visa. Amber and I had both done some digging and discovered that this is the appropriate visa for me to get if I want to teach at camps. It's a temporary work visa. Good for 90 days. I can't work on my visitor visa at all. So I need to go out of the country, (almost always to Japan), and change to a C-4 visa. I wanted to know how much it would cost, how long it would take, could I have multiple employers, if I also get an Alien Registration Card with it, you know, the pertinent questions. The agent looked at me with a strange look and said, "C-4? No C-4 visa. You have visitor visa." So I explained to her that I want to work so I want to change my visa. She, (of course), then said I'd need an E-2 visa. This is what we normally get for the one-year contracts. So I explained that it was part time, short term work and, (like I had said 10 minutes ago), would need a C-4 visa to do it. So she went away from her desk, talked to some of her co-workers, looked at a book, maybe made a phone call or two and got back to the desk and said, "You can not change! Can not change your visa." It reminded me SOOOO much of the Indonesian, "Cannot!" I said wait a minute, what do you mean I can't change. I want to work. I can't work in Korea? Is that what you're saying? Then I thought of all the immigration workers I'd encountered in Korea and how profoundly unqualified they ALL were to be in the positions they were in and I said, "I want to leave the country, go to Japan, change my visa, then return to Korea and work." So she goes away from her desk again and comes back again, "You need to go Japan to get C-4 visa."

Well I was so relieved! It's like when I go to the doctor in Korea with my summer skin rash and tell him/her "It's a sweat rash and I need Sporonox. I take it for a week and it's gone." They poke and prod me for a while, ask a few unrelated questions and say, "You have a sweat rash. You need to take Sporonox for a week. That'll be 150,000 won." Or when you hire a lawyer to do something you tried to do but couldn't for the sole reason that you are not a lawyer. I am not an immigration officer but I've met exactly zero of them who know as much about their jobs, (at least pertaining to me), as I do. I have also met zero of them who will believe that even after I prove it to be the case. In fact that just pisses them off. So I sez to the agent, "Thank you very much. Here are a few questions I have about the C-4 visa..." She quickly says she can't answer them. Nobody at the immigration office can. She tells me there is an office nearby where I should go. Then she picks up the phone and calls them for me. That was very nice of her. Unfortunately all THEY did was pass the buck on to yet another person. They said I had to call the Korean embassy in Japan. Well during our research Amber had stumbled across this strategy and tried it. There were messages in Japanese and Korean but no English. Anyway, Amber and I went out for some genuine Thai food. It was really good! And after ordering Amber called again. This time she got through to someone who forwarded her to someone who passed her onto someone else who put her on hold and got someone who speaks English to help her. So I handed Amber the list and she asked all the questions. Easy peasy Japanesey!!!

The C-4 visa costs 4800 Yen, (about 50 bucks). It takes THREE days to get! THREE! I used to get a visa and go home the same day! I need passport, passport sized photo, signed contract, certificate of employment, (those things I've never yet seen even from a legitimate full time job), and a business licence number. As for multiple employers: maybe. If I want to transfer to another employer after the 18 days, (which I would have), another 3-day trip to Japan and I would need all the same dox and another 4800 Yen. It doesn't come with an Alien Registration Card so I STILL won't be able to get a bank account or rent an apartment legally. Which makes me wonder why they have camps like this one at Gwangju U. that DON'T offer accomodation. Again, the guy had no idea what he was doing. The guy on the phone wasn't even sure that the Fukuoka embassy could do it. He said he thought pretty much all the embassies could but knowing my luck...

So long story short, I would have made 720,000 won at this camp. I would have spent more than that to get the visa to do it. And that's not including food and lodging in Gwangju, which I would have to pay for, the lodging being illegal. Illegal work and illegal lodging are two things I don't really want to get into at this time because next week I will hear from a FULL time job I interviewed for in Pyeongtaek. It's at a place called GIFLE, which is the Gyeonggi-do Institute of Foreign Language Education. I'll be teaching teachers and writing curriculums that will be used all over the Gyeonggi-do province of Korea. It's a natural progression in my career that would come with an entirely new set of responsibilities and lots of new experiences. This means a helluva lot more work, but it also means a lot more variety and interest for me. I'm sure that will keep me well motivated to get the work done! Here's hoping...

And all I did for that job was provide them with a sample curriculum, a couple lessons, all my legal documents, resume, two cover letters, criminal record check and a personal interview in front of a panel of four. Piece of cake, really! I'm not kidding! They didn't request anything impossible to get; they didn't ask me to write any essays or paragraphs with vaguely worded topics like this one for Jungwon University. Amazing, isn't it? "Inducement to apply and teaching plan if you are appointed." "Introduction of your teaching career. (include performance, exhibits, etc.)" Isn't this all just repeating what you undoubtedly wrote in your cover letter? And what you will undoubtedly tell them in the interview? And I have it on good authority that nobody will EVER read your entire application from cover to cover. Anywhere. And this is all stuff you do for jobs you may not even get! May not even get a P.F.O. letter for if you're declined! I have taken several hours on several of my application packages only to hear absolutely NOTHING back from them.

So what I'm saying is most of what I've been doing for the past two months has been a complete waste of time! There will be a tiny miniscule amount of all the work I've done that will get me my job here. The rest, I coulda been watching TV or going to the ball game or drinking beer! But, once again, I've never been one to complain...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I Hope

As soon as I'm sure I'll be staying in Korea I'm going to give the old blog a new name and maybe a facelift. New colour scheme or whatever. What should the new name be? Korea Threea? It will be my third tour here if this happens. You never know. My luck I'll get everything arranged to start work and immigration will refuse my visa. "You broke Korean law in 2001 by overstaying your visa." It could very well happen.

And then I get an email like I got today. A job offer from Alberta to work camp security at fire fighting camps in Alberta. Every summer there are forest fires in Canada and a lot of people, (mostly students), put themselves in harm's way saving our forests, braving the intense heat and bugs and filthy, grunt work with long hours and short sleeps, keeping our country green and making enough money to pay for another semestre of university so they can get a degree and get a good job so they won't ever have to do this kind of torturous work again. At least that's the theory behind it. And every year there are guys who are making the same pay but just sort of hang around camp not doing much. I had a short gig in northern Ontario on the E.F.F. crew for fire #21 I think it was. E.F.F. is emergency fire fighters and fire number 21 was almost out. Emergency fire fighters are called in when a fire gets out of control. So my job was to hang out at camp, (making the best wage I ever made), playing cards and occasionally moving a barrel or hammering a nail here and there, while smudge crews were doing controlled burns around the perimeter of fire #21 and checking duff moisture levels to make sure a spark didn't jump to a dry, unburnt pile of muskeg and start fire #22. The most productive thing I did that summer was turning a coffee table into a giant Cribbage board with a drill and my trusty pocket knife. Man we played a lot of Crib! I imagine camp security is not much more than bear watch, making sure people aren't sneaking booze into camp, and playing a lot of Crib. I'm sure it pays ridiculously well too.

BUT where does the money come from? I found myself constantly asking that question while I was back in Canada looking for work. It seemed to me the best paying jobs available for me would have been those associated with oil and government. I didn't want any of that ill-gotten money infecting my clear conscience. Also I didn't get offered an oil or government job so it was easy to remain on my morally high horse. But what does a guy do? To be able to afford to live in Canada, you practically HAVE to sell your soul to evil corporations or government. Just to pay the rent you're gonna need a whole lot more than minimum wage. Check this out. THAT house is 1.39 mil? It's not much nicer than a double-wide trailer by the looks of it! Because of condo-flipping foreign investors and a government that shovels the snow off their paths and strews them with rose petals. What the article doesn't tell you is that when a person buys a condo before construction begins the advantages ALREADY start for the foreigners. Some condos aren't available to Canadians at all! And if they are, Canadians pay 10% minimum while foreigners only have to pay 5%. Also, and this is reverse discrimination to a degree that only Canada exhibits, Canadians who flip a condo have to pay a 70% capital gains tax. Foreigners don't. So let's say you "buy" a 200,000 buck condo. If you're Canadian you need 20 grand. Foreigner needs 10 grand. Then let's say many more units get sharked up and the projected value rises to 400,000. Foreigners get an ROE of 200,000 on their 10,000 dollar investment. A Canadian makes 60,000 on an investment of 20,000. Yes, it's a bit over-simplified, but, yes it's Harper winning the hearts of the people who are important to him, (mostly the Chinese), and screwing Canadians.

Why? Because he and his government are super keen to bring into Canada the superior people in foreign countries who manage to figure out all these very clever ways to get rich. Superior people like this bozo. I'd just tell her to act like she's not gay for a while and giver her 60 mil.

My point is, and this was blatantly obvious to me when I was back in Canada living in Victoria and Calgary, when our government is fawning over the rich assholes of the world changing laws in Canada to make everything favourable for them, and they COME to Canada, their influence is felt on more than just housing prices. And it's NOT the influence I, or the regular Joe Canuck, (who is still the majority although we are constantly socialized to believe he isn't), want to be exercised on our country.

When I was in Canada and quit my job for a long, LONG list of good reasons including my employer lying to me and completely breaching my contract, I joined the 58% of all unemployed Canadians who, although we pay for mandatory insurance against unemployment from every paycheck, we do not qualify for it under the Harper government's new omnibus bill C-38's criteria. What are the criteria? You have to be a useless tit to your employer because they have the money and that's who all the new laws of Canada are being made to benefit. So if you sleep on the job, are rude to the customers, are totally inept and get fired, you can collect E.I. But if your employer makes your job hell but you do it well and they want to keep you, you are screwed. You can quit, but you won't get E.I. That's what happened to me. This is something workers should know in Canada. Before long all the regular Canadians who are willing to put up with more and more demands made by their employers because they're too scared to quit will be the only ones who still have jobs. The other jobs will be taken by the workers the companies want: the cheaper ones. And we all know who they are.

I see that has happened in the ESL racket over here in Korea too. Most evidently in the better jobs like colleges and universities. The directors keep adding more and more students to classes, raising job responsibilities, reducing teachers' holidays, requiring more bullshit paperwork like criminal record checks, proof of employment, transcripts, AIDS tests, physicals etc., while showing increased preference to those with doctorate or master's degrees. And they can do this because the job market is flooded due to the crap that's going on in Canada. So people who have jobs here are clinging to them as they get worse and worse too.

I'm encouraged by people I see using the internet and protesting the corporate direction our country is taking. From the people in Vancouver trying to get something done about real estate prices to good old Neil Young taking on Starbucks and Monsanto in his new song. They are the voice of the majority. They ARE the mainstream. It's hilarious what happens when somebody genuine starts getting some attention for speaking out in the voice of the majority. "Authenticity comes across as lunacy." That's what we're trained to hear, folks. That's the Soma the establishment has been forcing down our throats for decades. But we're starting to hide it under our tongue till the establishment leaves the room, then spit it out. And I'm loving watching this revolution happen! I hope when I'm an old man and maybe actually able to retire in a Canada that is truly run by the people for the people, I'll be able to think back to this period of change and sit my great nephews or nieces on my lap and tell stories of our hardships. I hope so. But at least I hope...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Bittersweet Korean Summer

Korean summer. This is something I've gone on about at some length in every means of correspondence known to man. I've talked on the phone, sent e-mails, posted blog entries, texted, written letters, sent smoke signals, and tapped it out on drums how I am just not built for summer in this country. And... here I am! Let's do this one more time, shall we?

I sent a finely crafted cover letter and application package to a kid's camp yesterday called Big Feat Camp in Yong In, (the city where I started my Korean teaching adventures), and almost instantly got a reply from the lady in charge of application receipt. Her name is Amelie. That's the title of one of my favourite movies. "Le Fableaux Destins d'Amelie Poulin" I think is the full title. I downloaded Terminator II one time back when it was a new release and Amelie is what I got. I watched it instead of deleting it because I had some spare time. What luck! I watched T II later and then deleted it, but I kept Amelie. At any rate, Amelie thanked me for my application and especially for my detailed cover letter. She said it gave her a good idea of who I am and then said that I am what they are looking for and would be a wonderful fit for the camp. Unfortunately Amelie doesn't have the final say. The camp accepts applications until the end of this week and then some other people decide. However, Amelie only gives them the ones she likes, from my understanding, so at least I've passed that part of the process. I'll know next week if I have the job.

It's from late July, (25th), to mid August, (14th), so it's a three-week camp. It's kids aged 10-14, who I have NO trouble with at all, and the offer includes 3 meals a day and an unshared apt. with ensuite. The pay is 3 million Korean won. That's roughly 3 thousand Canadian bucks. Around the end of August is when I have been told the Naju City School Board will have openings for me to work full time teaching elementary and middle school there for a year. So it'll work out perfectly!

Alternatively, I could return to Indonesia and work most of June, July and part of August before breaking my contract to return to Korea for the Naju job. (or something better if it comes up) In Indonesia I'd be making 17 million a month minus tax, room and board. And, of course, entertainment. If I'm extraordinarily well behaved I may manage to save 500 bucks a month. That's 1500 dollars for three months of work compared to 3000 dollars for three weeks. And there is still a good chance that I'll get some part time work here in Korea for the remainder of June and most of July.

My criminal record check is in Korea. I have been tracking it through the Canada Post website and it's here. I am staying in Incheon right now, where the airport is so I'm hoping it's actually in Incheon. It arrived on May 31 and Canada Post reckons it'll be delivered by June 5th. I can't see why it would take 6 daysto go from Incheon to Incheon but then I don't know much about the mail here in Korea. At any rate, once I get that thing I'm going to send it to all the places I've applied to already, who have passed over my application for the lack of it, and I'm going to send out a whole new barrage of application packages to recruiters, universities, colleges, schools and hagwons, who will now pass me through the first stage, (documentation complete), and onto the second, (look at the resume and cover letter). I don't think it's going to be hard for me to fill in the partial months of June and July. Maybe I'll get another camp. Maybe I'll get some part time stuff. Maybe I'll go to Gwangju and freelance a little bit there. My buddy, Guns has pulled some strings and found me a cheap, but nice, place to stay there. About 300 bucks a month.

So I'm on the verge of committing to another year and then some in Korea. And the facts that I will be delivered from a tougher go of it in Indonesia, that I'll be working with the age and level I like, that I will be in towns I like, that I will be able to dig myself out of the financial hole Indonesia has gotten me into, these facts just might make this the best summer ever in Korea. I don't know if that means it will be a GOOD summer...

I went out Sunday morning to get some fixins for bacon beer can burgers. Amber and I walked at an unnaturally fast pace to the nearest Home Plus to get buns and some other stuff. It was around 10 AM and it was already scorching hot. Unlike the height of summer in Korea when the Monsoons blow oceans worth of rain into the country, it wasn't overly humid, but still plenty hot enough, and bright enough, for me to start the day off with some sweaty, stinky dehydration and I think a mild shot of sun stroke.

Got back to Amber and DB's and made the burgers, some macaroni salad and some breakfast all in the space of an hour or so. DB wanted to leave for the stadium by 12:30 so we could get there early enough to play some catch before watching... SOCCER of all things! DB's nephew Shin Sae Gye
is a pro soccer player. He plays for Suwon Samsung FC in the Korean league. So Suwon was playing Incheon and we decided to go. I thought I'd make burgers and salad for the game. Which I did with the help of Amber. Then it was another walk in the sun, heavy laden like mules, to the subway and to the stadium. By the time we got there and busted out the ball gloves and started playing catch, I was stinky, sweaty and strokin' out some more. I don't know if it reached this temperature in Incheon but it was supposedly 31 celcius in Seoul that day. That's 88 Fahrenheit. Heather! I believe it's 304 Kelvin. That's what it felt like to me. 304!

By the time Amber and Crystle got to the game and bought us all tickets I was already feeling a bit burnt. We got a spot in the upper deck of this AMAZING stadium,
where it was shady, (thank God), and cracked out the beers. I was already so thirsty that I drank half a tall boy in one guzzle. Just before half time in the game I had a burger, (MMMM MMMM GOOD!) and some macaroni salad. DB didn't have a burger, Amber didn't finish her's and nobody but me had macaroni salad. It was nice that Crystle ate her burger though. It's not easy to find something both Amber and DB will eat. DB was satisfied with his squid jerky. Almost anything that's not Korean, he'll pass. Amber is sort of the opposite. Almost anything Korean, except sam gyup sal, she doesn't really care for. I asked if DB would eat burgers and she said he would. I guess he's had burgers before in Australia when Korean food was in short supply. I figured he might like macaroni salad too because it has tuna in it and he loves fish. Amber said she didn't know if he would like it or not. I guess I didn't ask Amber if SHE would like it but I now know that she doesn't.

Anyhoo, after eating my food I was thirsty but out of beer. The sun had moved and the section we were sitting in was no longer shady. It was hot. Even though there was a game going on I either went to sleep or passed out. Just shut her down. I woke up once, saw the soccer pitch WAAY down there, got vertigo and startled myself but still went back to sleep. Then something exciting happened in the game and DB yelled and startled me awake again only this time for good. I don't know if it was too much sun, lack of sleep, dehydration, or even the two beers but I don't remember ever feeling like an older man.

After the game we all went to Juan, where Amber and DB live, and we were going to watch the Kia Tigers baseball game and eat, you guessed it, sam gyup sal. I love sam gyup sal but wasn't too hungry after my substantial burger and pasta salad lunch. I just wanted to see the game and hydrate. Everyone else had used the fruits of my hard labour slaving in a hot, smoky kitchen, as appetiser food I guess.

Long story short, I couldn't stop drinking that night. Beer, water, I drank a LOT. Then just about the time DB and I got back to the apartment I started rubbing my right eye. It felt like there was sand or a hair or something in it. I rubbed and scratched and worked the eye for over an hour. It was running pretty freely before I finally went to bed. And if that weren't enough coupled with the warm night air to keep me from sleeping, there was a mosquito in Amber and DB's apartment. Korean mosquitoes are the worst! They are impossibly smart and shifty. They get camouflage. They don't show themselves in the light but as soon as you turn the lights out... zzzzzzzz. And I'm pretty sure Korean mosquitoes have a whisper mode too when they don't buzz. I've seen them on occasion without hearing them. They're nasty and I spent half the night trying to stop this one mosquito from ruining my sleep or giving me Dengue Fever, Malaria or ebola. No such luck. Next day I tried all day to find that little bloodsucker to no avail but as soon as I turned out the lights... zzzzzzzz. I so another long session of eye rubbing and mosquito chasing and I didn't get to sleep until probably 3 or 4 AM. Then up at 7 today soaked in sweat with about 20 bites on my arms and hands and a foggy right eye with yellow, sandy crusties almost spackling it shut. Yup, that's the Korean summer I remember.

So I'm not sure if it's going to be good or bad this summer. Probably bittersweet. Time will tell.

I'm going back to bed. Cue the mosquito... zzzzzz.... grrrrrr.....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Patience is a virtue... that is losing its marketability.

?4u: Sup? H r u? ZZZZ?!?! WTH, bro? Ruok? Nv? Gg? Fine then fu Q! LOL! J.K. TTFN.

Should I feel ashamed to have had the ability, if not the laziness, to write that first line? I kind of think I should. Being a lover of the language, an English major, one who appreciates the descriptive, eloquent, and not necessarily economical prose of the classic authors I should consider this kind of communication the antithesis of creativity. It's reductivism at its worst in that nothing has been gained from what was lost except time and keystrokes. Time and effort. The world is in a hurry to reduce time and effort. They're rushing around desperately seeking methods and ideas to reduce the rushing and desperation of our daily lives. Drinking Red Bull, attention spans reverting to childhood levels, heartrates soaring, stress peaking, excitement maxxing out all so they can save a little extra time every day to complain instantaneously to all their friends on all their various electronic devices about how bored they are.

What ever happened to "stop and smell the roses?" "All good things come to those who wait." "The journey is half the fun." What happened to "patience is a virtue?" I have been in Korea over a month now without a phone. Yes, I have risen to legendary status in the country already. There are those who don't believe I exist. Some tell tales of sightings that are scoffed at by others. A few have even had encounters with me and taken out-of-focus smart phone shots of me. Like this:

Nobody can PROVE I am more than just a conspiracy theory, but I DO exist! I DO! It IS possible to live for long periods of time without a phone!

While typing this a friend messaged me on Facebook and asked me to call him. I messaged another friend on Facebook and asked if I could use her phone later tonight to call the friend. DANG! Talk about ruining a perfectly good self-righteous rant!

But why must we call? Why do we need to Skype. Videochat? What's wrong with email? Texting? I still write LETTERS! And MAIL them! And wait months for a reply! Sometimes don't get one because nobody knows where to mail a letter to me. But I'm okay with that. So long as when we finally DO hook up on the phone, in a chatroom, texting or even, GASP, in person, we have good, quality time together. But this is not as easy as it is to just write down, is it? Not with the "Right Fucking Now" generation it's not! Ever see a group of youngsters get together and have deep, meaningful conversations? I don't. They meet up, go, "Hey. Sup?" "Sup?" Then they hang for hours together playing online games or chatting with other friends, and talking together about them a bit while they do so, until their phone battery dies and they are left to their very own conversational devices. Then it's, "Stupid I-phone bat life too short." "Me too. Later." "Yeah. Later."

It won't be long now until I'm a conversation teacher again in the most wired country in the world. This is what I'll have to contend with. It wasn't bad enough having the language barrier. Now it's a kind of social barrier. Will I have to learn to play League of Legends or Sudden Attack in order to reach my students? Will I have to be a sort of modern day Edward J. Olmos in "Stand and Deliver" and surprise the Korean students with my coolness by saying something to start off class like, "Okay Keemosabes, if you don't study for this test I will kill you faster than a Protoss Carrier can kill a Zergling."? THEN they'd dig me for sure! I might have to stop saying old folk things like "Keemosabe" and "dig" though.

Had a chat with Alex today. He's the young son of my good friends Scott and Minju, who I met while teaching in Korea. Alex was born in the year we taught at Chonnam University together. That was 2003/2004 so I think he's like 11 years old. I've known him his whole life.
That's me, Scott and Alex when he was younger and they still lived in Korea.

Today during our chat he was trying very hard to convince me to download Skype. I don't like Skype. It has frozen my computer twice when I downloaded it and the third time when I downloaded it successfully it just stayed on all the time sucking valuable RAM up. It didn't work worth a shit when I used it and I used it once for a job interview then never used it again. So I nuked it and freed up some space. I didn't want to download it again just to chat with Alex. But he persisted. He practically begged me. He even suggested the gmail phone chat.

So I asked him why he wanted me to get an internet phone program so desperately. He said it was so that he could play a game while chatting. He says, "If we use facebook chat I'll have to pause my game and then I'll get killed 90 million times." No, it was more like, "If chat w u @ FB get killed 90M x! >:-(" Or something like that. I just said I would rather he put his entire concentration on the game then. So he says that he usually doesn't concentrate that hard on the game when he plays it. Not really getting my point. Then he asked a few more times for me to Skype up, and THEN commented on how boring the chat was and hit me with a deluge of Dispicable Me animated Minion emoticons one after another in rapid succession. A couple of other times he commented on how fast he could type hitting
. There was even a point or two when he just randomly slammed a bunch of keys and I got messages like "pao8igfh[awegh."

I told him that no matter how annoying he tried to make the facebook chat, I still preferred it to Skype. And it was still a pleasure to talk to him. I love that boy and was very happy that he wanted to talk to me! So anyway, we said goodbye and he said we should chat again later. I said it might be too late for him since he's in Canada and I'm in Korea. He says I shouldn't worry because he'll be up till 2 AM. And up for school the next day! What a little madman!

Does it seem to you like the younger generation are living lives in fast forward? I guess this is nothing new from generation to generation, but I think it's even moreso, no? I find myself falling into the impatience trap once in a while too. My computer doesn't instantaneously get to the website and I curse and sigh and say something a spoiled child might say like, "AAaaawww come ON! This is taking for EVER!" Remember not so long ago when even the best internet slowly built the webpages? We were impatient back then too but we waited. Sometimes I find myself impatiently waiting for my turn in the conversation to speak and realize I haven't paid any attention to what the person speaking to me was saying. And usually it was something important or something that my statement makes obvious that I wasn't listening. "OH YEAH," I say, "And the man in the big, yellow hat!" "Dave, she was just talking about her friend, George who's bi-curious. Weren't you listening?"

Impatience can be death in conversation though too, can't it? This is why it puzzles me how patience is just not something people have the patience for any more. It's go, go , go at most jobs. Even the ones that require communication with other people. I suppose it's more common than ever to communicate the fast way, by text or telephone or Skype so you may not need the same level of patience, but sooner or later people have to talk to people and that can take a lot of patience. I am a slow talker. I like to craft a sentence in my head so that it may not be the most common way to get my point across. That takes time and sometimes hesitation. I find more people nowadays who will just barge right in on me mid sentence pretending like they thought I had finished my sentence when in actuality they just think I'm a drivelling idiot who has run out of batteries and wasn't worth listening to anyway. Needless to say, that bothers me. Most people who do this are young and I've learned that in a lot of cases, I'd say more than half, the reality is they just weren't listening to me. They were impatiently waiting for airtime.

Tolstoy said the two strongest warriors are Time and Patience. By that definition I have gotta conclude that this younger generation is getting weaker. We've heard them called the "Internet Generation." And we've heard the internet called the "social network." But I have to say, as far as social skills go, us old codgers have a lot to teach the young gaffers. Codgers, teach the gaffers patience. Twas always thus and always thus shall be. At least that's what I reckon.