Archive for February, 2010

Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey Team Wins Gold!

February 28, 2010

I’m really not a hockey guy and this was a hard game to find and watch but, Woo-Hoo!


We got rid of our TV during the move and have yet to buy a new one.  I got up around 5:40AM to hunt around online to find the game.  CTV didn’t seem to be streaming it outside of Canada and I finally found something at  From there, I found a link with audio, with a picture smaller than the palm of my hand.  Anyway, Woo-Hoo!


LATER: Oh, I also enjoyed Kim Yuna’s skating and the women’s hockey triumphs as well.  I can’t really say why the men’s final game drew me so strongly.  Perhaps because it is near the end of the Olympics.


Flat tire

February 28, 2010

The family piled into the Korando in the morning and we started off.  At first, I thought the engine hadn’t warmed up or the parking brake was on. After a hundred metres or so, I realized I had a flat.I’m pretty sure I could have changed it but not as fast as the guy from the insurance organization did – and that includes the time it took him to get there.

Apparently, I had driven over a scrap of twisted metal.  The repairman removed the tire, pulled the metal out, poured liquid over the area looking for other leaks and then patched it.  Great, friendly service.

planting potatoes

February 24, 2010

I spent the day with in-laws planting a field of potatoes.  The parents-in-law had started the work yesterday, so we finished adding the potatoes, spraying fertilizer and covering the furrows with plastic.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

I wrote earlier (edit: I wrote earlier, on a different computer, and haven’t posted here yet) about the factories moving onto the farmland.  Here is an example.

Hmm. I have no photos of actually planting the potatoes – too boring, I guess.  Here is the vat of fertilizer on the back of a kyeonoonggi.  Oh, a kyeonoonggi is a two-wheeled tractor and some models have a pump for this kind of work.

Above is a farmer on a neighboring plot spraying his fertilizer.

Below is  the finished product.  The plastic keeps pests out and heat in like a tiny green house.  The black areas prevent weeds from getting sunlight.  And in the fall,you just let the wind dispose of the old plastic for you.  Naturally, that last comment was sarcastic, but there is a lot of plastic wrap tangled in trees in the area.

Some of the old rice was burned away and I thought it looked interesting.

Naps and grinding stones

February 23, 2010

I heard a lateral thinking riddle a few years ago that has stuck with me.  Two lumberjacks are working in adjacent plots and both work for eight hours.  One of the lumberjacks stops every hour for ten minutes and the other does not (I don’t know if they ate) but the one who stopped chopping for ten minutes every hour chopped more trees.  How is that possible?
The listener is expected to ask various questions, perhaps about the size or strength of the two men, and the speaker answers “yes”, “no” or “not relevant” or other simple answers.

The correct reason for increased productivity in the  apparently lazy man is that the lumberjack who stopped for ten minutes wasn’t really resting, he was sharpening his axe (or chainsaw or saw…), allowing him to work with much better efficiency.

The story a great metaphor to explain a new study about the power of naps to help retain knowledge and make studying more efficient. From the article:

If you see a student dozing in the library or a co-worker catching 40 winks in her cubicle, don’t roll your eyes. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power. Indeed, the findings suggest that a biphasic sleep schedule not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter.

In the recent UC Berkeley sleep study, 39 healthy young adults were divided into two groups – nap and no-nap. At noon, all the participants were subjected to a rigorous learning task intended to tax the , a region of the brain that helps store fact-based memories. Both groups performed at comparable levels.

At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.

These findings reinforce the researchers’ hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain’s short-term storage and make room for new information,…

This blog needs some photos!

February 23, 2010
These first two pictures were taken at a dinosaur museum on highway 7, just north of Pohang.  I don’t know if it is worth going there just for the museum, but it made a nice break to a long trip.  The little guy was very well behaved in the car for the seven-odd hours from Sokcho to Busan and deserved the break.  Of course, if he had been bad, we would have needed the break to let us all stretch out and relax so I guess there was no way we wouldn’t have stopped.
There’s a dinosaur behind me!

IAG thinks this is realistic!

We stayed with relatives in Kimhae while we looked for an apartment.  My son’s Korean name is “Dae-seong”, so we just about had to visit Dae-seong dong Tombs Museum.

Near our home and my wife’s workplace is Moleundae.  It was an island you could wade to at the mouth of the Nakdong River, but river silt eventually formed a bridge.  It is a pleasant green spot in a very industrial part of Busan.  I want to see more of it.

an ‘island’ in Dadae Dong, at the mouth of the NakDong River

Mostly settled in.

February 23, 2010

I am typing this from our new apartment in Busan, so clearly the move was at least mostly successful.  I am still learning about the city and how to find stuff.  I took my son to Nampodong today and we had ice cream and visited a few bookstores and a Frisbee store.  The bookstores weren’t anything special and I haven’t found any with a good selection of English books.  One in Seomyeon has an okay selection but mostly they are based on screenplays or the movie were based on them.  What the Book, based in Seoul but delivering anywhere in Seoul should not feel threatened.

The Frisbee store does not sell frisbees.  It is an Apple store (did everyone else know that?) and I will be taking my mouse in to see if they can clean out the scroll wheel.  I looked at the new magic mouse with the touch sensitive surface and no moving part to get gummed up but 89,000 won is more than I can afford, at the moment anyway.

I need to check out local healthclubs and find out about pools and skating rinks in Busan.  Well, I would like to do those things.  I really need to find daycare for my son starting Friday.  I suppose I need more furniture for the apartment and other sundries to feel comfortable inside.

Learning how to teach…well

February 11, 2010

Thanks to the EFL Geek for linking to an article called What makes a great teacher?

It appears that the Geek posted the link on Facebook and not on his blog, yet.

Learning how to teach how to learn…and more

February 9, 2010

I’m away from my regular computer and mostly learning how to use WordPress.  I am using IE, so I don’t have spell check – up on the tightrope without a net!

The title is something I want to do as an ESL teacher – learn how to convince my students to learn.  Motivation is part of it, but also modern techniques in how people best learn things.  Some teachers I have worked with have their students write long lists of words – a page of maybe twenty words, each repeated for one line:

shop shop shop shop shop shop

bargain bargain bargain bargain

discount discount discount …

That’s not something I want to do (unless I learn that it works – I shouldn’t let my prejudices control me).

One thing this blog will clearly be about is my work to become a better teacher.  Also, as befitting the title of this blog, I will describe new things, surprises I come across.  I will soon live in Busan; I lived near Busan twelve years ago.  What is new and different about it?  Finally, I will dispense comments, complaints and hopefully compliments about life in Korea and, well, whatever else I choose.  There are issues I will cover frequently; but I will not be limited by them.