The power of off-hand comments

July 2, 2015

Never read the comments section.  Never read the comments sect…..

Ah, no.  Not that kind of comment.

About twenty-five years ago, as captain of my university’s swim team, I added a few jokes to my talk to my teammates before our provincial championships.  In addition to sound advice like getting enough sleep and the proper food, I suggested they needed to be more on edge, more antsy, more alert and so for the next few days before the swim meet, no sex.

Two days later, a member of the women’s swim team complained about this, about being shut down with her boyfriend blaming me.

About ten years ago, I made an ESL game that worked pretty well for students at my university.  A coworker who used the game complimented me with, “You’re so creative.”  For the last ten years, I have been researching creativity and productivity.

Four years ago, I went to Chuck Sandy’s talks at the International KOTESOL Conference, mostly liked them but felt that the process of condensing years of work into a forty-five minute bundle made it “a lot of feathers and not much chicken“.  In a recent Twitter conversation, I learned that Sandy has that quote on his desk.

What will he say when he learns the quote is from Kim Mitchell?

Summer plans

July 1, 2015

This summer I appear to have a lot of free time.  I hope to work an ESL camp in August and have a few other commitments but essentially I have time to work on my own projects.  Most of these projects deal with writing.

Writing Plans and Goals:

  • 13 blogposts for 6,500 words.  Why 13?  I can’t recall why I chose this number.  Somewhat more than two a week, I guess.
  • 3 short stories: Working titles are 1) Ants, 2) Vampire on a boat and 3) Hyperbaric Chamber.  I’m figuring 2,000 words each
  • Push forward one or all three of the books I have started and let sit.  30,000 words is the goal and I don’t mind jumping from book to book as seems fit. Working titles are 1) Return of the Haloed Hunter, 2) the Distancing Engine and 3) Creationism’s worst arguments
  • 2 letters per week to friends.  Around ten letters and 2,000 words.
  • Perform research and planning for future “Crowded Sky” story. As much as 5,000 words.

To keep the writing interesting, I have made further goals.

  • I want to write over the course of a full day.  That is, at least once in the month write from 12:00 to 1:00 AM, once from 1:00 to 2:00AM …
  • I want to write in a variety of locations.  The local mountaintop has a good table. There are some nice libraries to write in.  I’ll talk about coffee shops in a moment.  Eulsookdo Eco Centre might be a nice place to work in for an afternoon.
  • Soundtrack: I may use Ommwriter which has its own soundtrack but otherwise it will be autoplayed classical music starting with some Janecek and letting Youtube suggest from there. Away from Internet connections, Doug and the Slugs and other 80’s music would work; the tunes are so familiar that they can be white noise or a fun background as needed.

Snacks: I bought snacks for my Nanowrimo writing and I will definitely eat in front of the computer but I need to show restraint here.  My weight is slowly dropping and I want to keep it going in that direction.  Controlling my weight is my greatest concern this summer.

Fitness:

  • 18 runs with an average of 7.0 km.  I hope to attempt a solo half-marathon this summer late one evening and have been working out the course and where to place energy drinks along the way.  I am currently at 96 runs over the past six months so only the weather could prevent reaching this goal.
  • Run faster than a subway train.  The local subway stations Seo-dae-shin and Dong-dae-shin are about 500 meters apart and the train takes 2:35 seconds from doors open at Seo- to doors closed at Dong-.  Further, this route is slightly downhill.  I can easily run this fast on a level surface but Seo-dae-shin is deep underground. I have no qualms or conscience problems about using the escalators but even with that assistance, there is a big climb at the start of the run.
  • Swim 2km at a time. Korean pools are crowded with conversationalists and it is hard to get an unbroken swim in.  I am likely to need to stop a the end of a lane a few times.  Today, I did 1250m, with breaks and could have gone farther.
  • Find 3 snorkeling places in and near Busan
  • For at least 6 days, eat three meals, plus one snack plus one sweet drink.  I snack a lot and plan to spend a lot of time in front of a computer so this will be a challenge.

Education:  I am enrolled in 3 MOOCS.

  • The Bilingual Brain
  • Modern Korean History
  • Archaeology of Portus

Family

  • Teach my son to swim.
  • Go on a weekend trip with the family. I would prefer a swimming site but that is negotiable.
  • Read two books with my son.  I don’t want this to be a purely teaching experience but one we both enjoy.  Tintin is a good contender here.
  • Work on the farm.

 

Brian is an active blogger

June 30, 2015

I gave a presentation at the Jeju KOTESOL Regional Conference on creativity and in the bio I wrote for their program, I described myself as an active blogger and gave this address.

I still think I am an active blogger but the most recent post before this one on this blog is from …2014, maybe?

I am active at creativitiproject.blogspot.com and my presentation slides can be found here.

I do want to re-awaken this blog and some posts in mind.  I just needed to start by allowing any visitors from the conference to find my slides.

See you in a few hours at this address…

Looking for news about English clubs or cafes at universities in Korea

December 16, 2014

I am the programs manager at the English Cafe on campus.  The programs have struggled and thrived and stumbled and are about to go through some big changes.  I’d like to know what people at other universities do to create extra-curricular content, fun content, voluntary content, at their universities.  I will post this link on the Facebook pages of KOTESOL and Gyeongsang branch – KOTESOL and a few other places.  I am desperate for some ideas and suggestions.

First, I should share what we did during the semester just finishing now.

The Cafe was independently run, so far as food, drink, and management were concerned.  Part of the Cafe manager’s contract was that we could run programs in there and she was wonderfully willing to help out.

1) There were daily games hours.  Each day, at an appointed time, students could play a board game with the teacher (or shut the teacher out and play among themselves).  We have English games like Scrabble and Boggle but also chess, Clue, Othello and others, ranging down in difficulty to Uno.  The winner of each day’s game a won 5,000won gift certificate for food and drinks at the Cafe.

2) In previous semesters, we had a daily Simpsons screening.  Students could watch, then answer questions with one student a week winning another 5,000won gift certificate for the Cafe.  Upper management found The Simpsons too low-brow and we were told to switch to documentaries this year and they didn’t go so well.  There were also some technical difficulties – the idea seemed a little boring but each doc should have generated some interest.

3) Once a semester, we ran a Scavenger Hunt.  There were four prizes: 20,000, 15,000, 10,000 and 5,000 won in Cultural gift certificates – these certificates are recognized at bookstores and, I think, movie theaters around the country.

4) Posters: Every two weeks, there was a new series of five posters, all on a theme and each with a question.  At the end of two weeks, the answers were judged and a student would win a 10,000 won Cultural gift certificate.

In previous semesters, teachers could count student attendance at Cafe events as part of their participation grade.  This year, that was no longer allowed and student participation dried up.  Really.  A few students did very well for themselves as there were few others to compete for the prizes.

Next year, the Cafe will run perhaps two events a semester and we may assist an English Club if one forms.  I want to know if your university has an English club, what the students do and what foreign staff are asked to do.  I will post further details at this blog and provide links to the Facebook pages mentioned above and summarize the responses I get.

Hope to hear your details!

 

three week goal setting.

October 25, 2014

I wrote this at Fitocracy and reference the site a few times. With that heads-up, I think the post makes sense.

From 2009 to around 2012, my weight was stable at around 92 kg. In 2012 and 2013, I saw 94 and even 95 kg. In 2013, I was home in Canada, eating the comfort food I had grown up with. Man, cheese and oven-cooked food are great.
Since around 2010, I thought about losing weight. Several times, I put some effort into a diet, cutting some of the worst food I eat and trying to eat better.
Exercise has never been a problem. Through high school and university, I was a competitive swimmer and even though those days are around twenty years past, I still exercise frequently.
Still, this year, I have had a nearly perfect storm of exercise and diet opportunities and hope to see continued progress. This being Fitocracy, I will discuss how I exercised but to be honest, getting a dog has probably made the most difference.
I typically sit in front of my computer for several hours a day. We got a puppy in April and I made sure to walk it three times a day, totaling more than an hour each day. The dog ambled and investigated and I wanted to walk faster but the thing is, I was standing and walking for an hour more and sitting for an hour less every day. When I sat in front of the computer and was consuming rather than creating (reading not typing), I normally have a snack nearby to munch on. One hour less snacking is a big deal.

Back to Fitocracy-relevant content. For as long as I can remember, I ate ice cream every day. Now, we don’t keep ice cream at home and I have to go out and buy it. This is the biggest, most obvious change that I’ve made. Nearly no junk food at home. Now, I typically eat ice cream twice a week (my wife thinks its closer to once a week) and chocolate two or three times a week.
My son was curious about the beer I drank and my wife is a teetotaler. Under their prodding, I now drink four beer a week (down from a hardly alcoholic seven or eight a week).
For the past twelve years, I have worked summer and winter at an ESL camp (Korean parents send their kids to academic camps during school breaks – something that I have both felt horrified by and profited by). The camp had been for four weeks and I lived on campus, near a running track. So, every year, I have worked toward 25 km a week on the track. This summer, the camp was shortened to three weeks.

And three weeks is a very manageable time period. I set a goal of 75 km, and made 77km. Upon returning home, I set a three week goal of 80 km and made 80.3km.


At this time, I had some setbacks. Mostly, I was trying to run too fast and had hurt my quads and Achilles tendons. With the advice of friends, I eased off on the speed and suddenly found longer runs comfortable. The third three week goal was 85km and I managed 97 km. I have just finished my fourth three week set; the goal was 100 km and I ran 102 km.


It may seem I just made it, but that is only true due to life events. I had 102 km three days early and if, well, life hand’t gotten in the way, I could have managed 110 km. This is my next goal, although I have an official run on Nov 9 so doing well at that is a possibly-competing goal.
In the just past three week, set I also added some pushups, situps and back arches. I may buy a chin up bar for a doorway in my apartment. I am not yet doing significant amounts of calisthenics but the numbers will improve, I’m sure.  And, my running speed is improving again.


85 kg, here I come – probably in February.

155 km in six weeks. I’m taking a break.

September 7, 2014

If you love the content here, you’ll find, well, different content, but also by me and more frequently, at Creativiti Project.

 

Through the spring, I hiked pretty consistently on the hill- locally called a mountain, but tiny – with my dog and pumped a little iron along the way.  I love the little ‘health clubs’ on the paths.  I got my chin up reps up to more than 20 in four sets.  Not great, but a great improvement.

In the summer, I went to Gangwondo and met some friends and taught some biology.  I also took advantage of the surprisingly cool temps and great running track to work on 75 km in three weeks.  When I returned home, I set a new goal – 80 km in three weeks – and have just completed it.

I like the time frame.  It is easy to see the end point and stay motivated.  I can also, and definitely will this time, take a break between three-week periods.  I need the break.  At halfway of the second set, I was ahead of schedule but as the second week finished, I experienced great cramps in my right leg.  As they eased, I had cramps in my left leg.  Throughout the six weeks, my right Achilles tendon has been aching.

There was a point in the fourth week that I felt great.  A stoplight would change and I was a distance away from the crosswalk and I would float effortlessly to the crosswalk and across.  It felt wonderful.

For the last ten days, though, the only feeling has been grim determination to finish in any way.  At the beginning, I watched my stats as my time decreased even as the distance increased.  Greater distances felt better and better. At the end, I have had to restrain myself.  Late last week, I went a little too fast -not fast at all, but too fast, and had to stop at 2.7 km of what should have been 5.4 or more kilometres.  This week, I have managed a steady 8-9 kph while in the second week (of six) I was faster than 10 kph.

This is Sunday of a long weekend.  Chuseok.  After Chuseok, I will set a new three week goal. The three days off should allow me to recover.  I hope.

90km?

ID these Bees and butterflies?

May 26, 2014

If anyone reads this post, can they ID these bees or this butterfly?  A quick google search didn’t help.bees and bugs (1) bees and bugs (3 b) bees and bugs (4 b) bees and bugs (15 b)

Wye Marsh and Waggle Dances

May 25, 2014

My previous workplace, the wonderful Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, has recently installed a glass-walled beehive that allows visitors to observe activity inside.  This reminds me of my second year at university as our Animal Behavior class included a few weeks of staring at bees in a similar manner.  I cannot remember what my group worked on but I do remember the empowering feeling of mastery when suddenly I could find waggle dances.

There might be a photo here.  I am attempting to embed a Facebook image.  If it doesn’t work, try this link.  Or, try this link anyway for more Wye Marsh stuff.

//

 

My excellent friend and onetime co-worker at the Marsh, Nick, loved the Fibonacci sequence and I suspect it was demonstrated here.  For around thirteen minutes, I saw nothing but squirming bees in a well-lit but claustrophobically tight box. I was about to give up. Then I saw my first waggle dance.  More squirming bees for another, let’s say, eight minutes followed by my sighting of another waggle dance.  Five minutes later, I saw another.  Three minutes later, two minutes later, one minute later and one minute later I saw them again. Then I was keyed to see any waggle dance.  Some time afterward, I was able to find the queen after a brief search.  It really felt like magic.

 

For most youth, now and probably in my day too (ah, Jumpman), the playing of computer games is what teaches similar concentration and patience.
I was going to make this post some kind of lesson or sermon, but heck, learn how to spot bee waggle dances – it takes a few minutes but it really wows friends!

Updated: …And use your knowledge of waggle dances to find the healthiest environments!

 The researchers chose an area of 94 square kilometers around the hives that included urban, agricultural and protected areas, and divided that area into 60 square blocks. Then, by videotaping and painstakingly decoding over 5,000 waggle dances over the course of two years, they could see where the bees preferred to go.

The scientists found that overall, bees were significantly more likely to give an approving waggle to land that had been targeted for more intensive restoration of grasslands or of margins around the edges of agricultural fields compared with areas having less stringent requirements. Oddly, they also found that bees seemed to specifically avoid some areas that had been targeted for low-level restoration. Couvillon says that this may be due to how these schemes are managed—frequent mowing, for instance, may reduce the number of flowers. But the bees were often on target. The scientists found that two blocks most frequently tagged with a waggle—after correcting for distance from the hives—each contained a protected nature reserve.

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What is the Korea Times for?

May 1, 2014

Updated:  This is how it should have been written!

 

——————————————

Terrible editing casts doubts on the paper’s raison d’etre (The online version has this error corrected).

coast guard 1

It would be nice if the jerk at the Korea Times did some research before writing his editorial.

In this attack piece the author either has an ax to grind or has no critical thinking ability.  Let’s dig in:

They did save people ― the captain and the crew. It is an ABC of maritime rescue that the crew should be the last to leave the ship not only for moral but for realistic reasons too: they should help the relief squad, mainly by informing them of the structure of the vessel. The Coast Guard should have told the crew to go back to the ship, as was the case of Italian rescuers years ago. Again, the officers said they could not tell passengers from the crew, but the latter would have been recognizable due to their clothing.

Here is the captain.  Would you recognize him as such?  Image from Channel Asia News.  He is wearing a sweater and boxers.  To be fair, they are navy boxers.

We are lost for words after hearing that an officer reported that the Sewol was sinking to the Mokpo Coast Guard by means of a “ax”[sic] instead of using a telephone. More surprisingly, when the Mokpo office received an SOS call from a student, it asked him to provide the “latitude and longitude” of the location.

I’m pretty sure the print edition had the word “fax”.  At 8:00PM Thursday night, the online edition still had “ax”.  Why by fax?  I can’t say for certain, but numbers and letters are more easily sent in print than aloud.  People read faster than they speak.  I could only wish the editorial-writer were lost for words.

Why would the Coast Guard ask for latitude and longitude?  It doesn’t take much thought offer ideas. 1) There were fake calls after the disaster.  It doesn’t seem unreasonable to imagine that there have been other false alarms.  2) The Sewol was way off course.  To be told the ship was near islands and might have hit one would reasonably be greeted with skepticism when there were no rocks on its intended route.

[A] Coast Guard executive stunned people by saying, “We did our best. Rescuing 80 people is no small feat.” The other 94 people were saved by fishermen on vessels smaller and older than those of the Coast Guard.

There was a lot of confusion during the initial stages of the rescue.  The Coast Guard is not blameless and there is always room for improvement.  Still, there were many fishing boats; it was not one vessel crewed by old sea-salts that somehow loaded 94 in their boat.

I approve of a free press and would not want to see it muzzled.  On the other hand, if the author really wants the Coast Guard to be the subject of” a vast and meticulous report on who did what (wrong) with respect to this tragic incident, not omitting even a single and minor mistake or misdeed”, perhaps the Times should suffer the same.  After all “What matters is not a lack of manuals or agencies but those of training and experts” and the Times appears to be lacking both.

 

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


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