Ferry with nearly 500 passengers sank near Jindo

April 16, 2014

Terrible news today of a large ferry, around half-full, that apparently struck a reef and sank about two hours later.

Well, there is a lot of good news.  Thanks to massive efforts by Coast Guard and Navy vessels, most of the people on board were rescued.  Approximately 100 more are thought to remain in the sunken ship.

 

From images given by the papers, if those hundred are alive, there are in dire, Poseidon Adventure conditions.

English papers in Korea have good details (Chosun, Herald, Times) but the best work seems to be from the NY Daily.  The photos below are from the NY Daily:Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 4.13.00 PM

Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 4.14.36 PM

Haeundae Bicycle Service Center

April 16, 2014

At the Haps, I learned of the Haeundae Bicycle Service Center.  I love the idea and hope it does well.  Now to get my son and I out there to ride.

korea law and cycling

April 14, 2014

The Korea Law Blog has  a post on cycling in Korea.  There’s a lot of good stuff there but here is a piece:

2. Rules Applying Only to Bicycles

a) To stay on the far right side when riding a bicycle on the road.

b) To get off and drag one’s bicycle when crossing a crosswalk.

c) To refrain from riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

d) To refrain from operating a bicycle while being drunk, etc.

e) Overtaking through the “right side” is allowed.

3. Rules That Do Not Apply to Bicycles

a) Regular speed limits do not apply to bicycles.

b) Driving w/o a license do not apply to bicycles.

c) Drunk driving (forbidden, but no specific punishment for a cyclist is currently outlined).

d) The ban on the use of cell phones (while cycling) do not apply to bicycles.

 

Via James Turnbull.

tough day at the farm

March 23, 2014

Today’s work was on the orchard hill.  Or maybe it is a very low, stoneless mesa.  In the midst of hectares of flat rice, cabbage, potato and such fields, my father-in-law’s orchard is on a flat hill maybe three metres above the fields.

The main crop on the hill is persimmon fruit.I asked my brother-in-law about the strange bottoms of the tree and he suggested it was because of the way the tree grew from cuttings.    That was only his guess but it seems possible.  More on growing trees from cuttings.manure work (5) I have always loved the tree frogs at the farm.  After a year away, it was good to see a few again.  This guy could sit on the final joint of my thumb.  Please excuse the blurriness.  I really like my new phone but I seem to have trouble holding it still enough.manure work (4) Korea’s wonderful little tractor, the kyeongungi.  I can drive one when it is attached to a cart, but would leave a terrible plow line.manure work (3) manure work (2) I have a really annoying cold right now.  Despite the great weather, I was pretty miserable at the farm.  I think this pic captures my whininess during the day.  Oh, behind me are little piles of manure under each tree that I carted by wheelbarrow.  I guess I should be grateful my sense of smell was sub-par today.manure work (1)As is so often the case, I usually more proud of my farm work and adventures after a few days.  Perhaps in a week or so, when the smell is gone from my SUV, I will look back on the work as character building rather than horrible.

 

Help with ‘Trust rating’ pop-up, please

March 19, 2014

HELP!!

Here are four examples of this, uh, virus? that has shown up on more than half the pages that I visit.ad virus 1 ad virus 2 ad virus 3 ad virus 4

These ads never show up for Facebook or Feedly.

The only thing I can think of as the source for these ads is I recently added a Chrome extension to download videos.  It was Video Downloader Professional.

Updated mere minutes after original post:

The problem was likely Lucky Leap. which has since been removed.  From the limited surfing I have done, that seems to have fixed the problem.

Best Teachers and tests

March 16, 2014

I read a post by one Wangjangnim at KoreaBridge and raced off a quick comment. Briefly, Wangjangnim appears to be a hagwon owner and his post attacked teachers for two things – claiming to be skilled, to be the Best Teacher and for making and using tests that aren’t appropriate.

How do teachers measure their effectiveness, and here you will slowly realize why I am against how they do it.  Scores.  Teachers effectiveness are measured by the students scores, but there is a problem.  These tests are created by the teacher.  The lesson are prepped by same teacher.  The lessons are given by same teacher.  The test is given by same teacher.  The test is corrected by same teacher.  Anyone with half a brain immediately understands the problem.  Anyone with a smidgen of understanding of HR practices and ethics revolving around test taking knows that this is simply ineffective.

Tests cannot be objective under those circumstances.  OOOO you say, but that is why we have SAT tests and the like.  Generalized tests that are the same for all students and not dependent on the teacher.  Really?  Those tests are made by teachers.  At least, as far as I understand the Education Industry, tests are manufactured by those mostly occupied with the profession of teaching.  Nothing wrong with that.  Everything wrong with that.

My response there (very slightly edited to remove the silly typos):

There is a real problem with judging how effective a teacher is and I don’t think there is any good method to judge all teachers.  Well, there is no easy method.  If you want to judge a teacher, first test his/her students when they arrive, inform the teacher precisely what you want from him(skipping the ‘/her’ for the rest of my comment) and then test the student again after some time has passed.  Also, do this to more than one teacher so you can see if one is doing better than the other.  Then, make sure you understand, and use, statistics to properly decide if improvement has been made

You will soon find that making and administering a good test takes a whole lot of work.  As you appear to want communication skills instead of grammar and vocab, I suggest asking students oral questions or long answer written questions.  Then you will need to read every essay or listen to every single answer.

I don’t know any teacher that wants to teach TOEIC.  My students are required to take a TOEIC test and that affects their grade but we have never seen the test nor know when our students take it.  Administrators seem to like because it is the opposite of what I described above: it is easy to administer and easy to grade.  If you make a better test of English communication that is relatively easy to administer and grade, you will make a lot of teachers very happy.

I haven’t read your posts before, Wangjangnim, and I don’t know you or your place of business.  Your writing shows you have better English than most of the Hagwon owners I have known.  I am not attacking you personally, but your claim that:

“General Tests are scams.  Huge scams with children, an parents, as victims”

is probably true but, only in the same way, “Hagwon owners are scammers.  Huge scammers with children and parents as victims.” is.  Teachers teach to the test because parents and hagwon owners (and some university Deans) require them to.

I just feel you are attacking a group – teachers – that is not a free agent on the issue.  If you can make a better test, I really want to see it.

Now, there are parts to his post that I like and suggest I may have been too hasty in attacking it.  for example, how to do well in a job interview:

If you truly love your profession, a better strategy would be to show me your passion for teaching and to give indication to things you helped master in- and outside of the classroom.

And he includes some kernel of an idea of how to fix the problem:

We will only know who is truly a great teacher, once teachers stop evaluating themselves, and start being evaluated by the results they achieved with their students through proper assessment tools.  Until then, the ESL mess we are in will remain unchanged.

Teachers are indeed somewhat at fault with poorly learning outcomes in their students.  At the same time, many teachers are often given close instruction in how and what they are to teach.  I am mostly grateful for that as I could really get sidetracked into teaching zombie epidemic survival skills and anti-religious rants, neither of which have much value outside of Youtube comment threads.

On the other hand, I have been told to teach TOEIC skills from a TOIEC book and many teachers here are expected to do the same.  I have taught at a hagwon where the owner required me to be the parrot for movie lines.  We spent months watching Avatar, repeating each line “three to five times”.

I don’t know this Wangjangnim but I would sincerely love to hear if he has a test that can accurately test student’s abilities even when teachers do not ‘teach to the test’. One valid test I can think of would be to parachute students who have finished classes into central Canada and see how quickly they get out.   Ah, maybe a more urban area would be appropriate – we are testing English not wilderness survival skills.  I guess we could test for student’s motivations and their strengths to see how much immersion they can handle but then we run into the Hagwon problem – the owner has two clients: the child and the parent and the latter seems to want TOIEC.

 

I want to be fair to Wangjangnim and I really want to hear what a fairly articulate hagwon owner really thinks.  I hope that my attacks on his post are not fueled by the standard hagwon teacher/ hagwon owner tension and will be following his blog for a bit.

Wangjangnim’s original post.

Unnecessary canals

March 2, 2014

I used an ocean of pixels in attacking Lee Myoung Bak’s plan for a canal from Incheon up the Han River to Gangwondo and across to the Nakdong River (which also starts in Gangwon Province) and south to Busan.  The whole canal idea was ridiculous; the ocean offers a open water route between Incheon or Seoul and Busan and there are never traffic jams or delays for locks to fill and empty.  See here and here if you are interested.

A new canal is in the news, and although not in Korea, it might be similarly redundant.  Nicaragua may soon get a canal to compete with Panama’s.

The environmental impacts could be considerable.

A final route for the canal has not yet been announced, but the proposed routes pass through Lake Nicaragua, which covers about six times the area of Los Angeles and is Central America’s largest lake.

The lake is a major source of drinking water and irrigation, and home to rare freshwater sharks and other fish of commercial and scientific value, Huete-Pérez and Meyer say. The forest around it is home to howler monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and countless tropical birds–not to mention several groups of indigenous people (some of whom have challenged the project in court, so far to no avail).

I’m a citizen of the world and benefit from international commerce.  I know nothing about the environmental impact of either Central American canal but I know I benefit from the one that currently exists.  It will be interesting to see what arguments are made against the proposed new canal and how the current one succeeds or fails on those aspects.

Ship leaking oil near DaDaePo

February 17, 2014

From Busan Haps:

BUSAN, South Korea –  An accident involving an oil supplier and an 80,000 ton cargo ship has caused a huge quantity of oil to leak into waters about 2.8 miles northwest of Busan Saeng-do, with  237 kiloliters of Bunker C oil has leaked into the sea.

The amount of the leaked oil is one-and-a-half times more than that of the recent Yeosu accident. The oil has spread 4.5 kilometers south from the scene of the accident.

 

There is more at Yonhap. And Daum media.

I have learned elsewhere that the Coast Guard has more than 60 ships onsite.  The Korean Navy, Busan Fire Dept, private environment cleanup groups and other groups also have ships and boats onsite. When the recent Yeosu oil spill first occurred, it was deemed to be easily manageable and only a small fleet was sent to work on it. Then, it was found to be larger than previously reported and more ships and personnel were sent but the oil had had time to spread. This time, the response was much greater. Coast Guard vessels from as far away as Sokcho responded to this spill.

Enjoying a short winter- perhaps only because it is short

January 7, 2014

On January 14, my son and I fly back to South Korea.  In Busan today, the temperature is +6C.

Here in Penetanguishene, schools, roads, well, everything is closed because of the blizzard.  The wind is howling and dumping snow and the temperature is below -15C even before wind chill is taken into account.

My son and had fun today anyway.

Winter started early with a lot of snow in early December.  I seem to remember lasting snow only falling around Christmas (and falling for the next ten days straight, but not until then)  This winter, it has been early and constant.

blizzard jan 7 (1 b)

We had to go out the garage door because the front door is snowed in.blizzard jan 7 (2 b)

Even the back door is blocked up.  The wind has actually pushed snow through the screen door so snow has piled up between the doors.blizzard jan 7 (4 b)

Once outside, we built a quinzee.  Outside, the wind was strong and the temp around -15C.  Inside the snow house, there was no wind and the temp was much closer to 0C.  The main problem was having our glasses fog up in the warmth.in quinzee (1 b)

If we were staying in Ontario for the whole winter, we might soon get sick of the weather.  A short but real winter (again, in Busan it is miserably cool but not cold enough for sledding or making snowmen) is fun and I’m glad to have had the chance to enjoy it.

I sure hope our flight isn’t delayed though.

Except on this blog.

January 2, 2014

Funny that I enjoy these tests now that they mean nothing.  Also funny, how they do not represent my actual use of grammar on this, or other, blogs.

I embedded the second image from the site.  If it does not have a working link, try this.

grammar guru


Click image to open interactive version (via Staples.ca).


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