Archive for the ‘volunteering’ Category

First blood donation in Canada in thirteen years.

October 7, 2013

When I lived in Canada, I tried to donate often.  During my thirteen years in Korea, my rate dropped as it was too much effort to break the language barrier.  See here (for Busan) and here (Gangneung in Gangwondo) for those stories.


This will likely be my only donation this year, which is pretty weak.  My grandfather donated around 100 times and that was back when you could only donate two or three times a year.DSC09589 b DSC09588 bThe clinic was at the Best Western at King St and Highway 12.

 Here is where you can make a donation anywhere in Canada.


A lesson from Springwater Provincial Park for Arrowhead

March 20, 2013

Thank you very much, Emily Mckiernan for your corrections and advice regarding a year-long all-parks day pass for Ontario Provincial Parks.  Summer and year-long passes can be found here.  Thanks also to Lisa Fleming who linked to my previous article about Springwater Park on the Facebook Save Our Springwater  page.

I hope their work goes rewarded although, as I’ve previously noted, I have not been in the area long enough to be greatly invested in the park.

I need to correct a mistake I made in my previous post. I wrote that I had been to Springwater two times but I have since learned that my parents took me there many times when I was a young child.  I don’t remember this at all.

A new article in the Barrie Examiner suggests that the work to close the park is continuing.  The article describes plans for the animals currently in the park to be moved to new locations.  Ah, the article describes the animals as ‘wildlife’, and the animals mostly fit that definition but these are animals:

“… that have been injured in the wild, or are unable for a variety of reasons, unable to survive in the wild. This makes it [Springwater] unique among parks and an especially valuable treasure: one of a kind. It is a legacy for future generations,” Miller said.

They are not removing every squirrel or free wild animal.  That would be a little creepy.

Also in the article:

Springwater is the only provincial park with an animal sanctuary,…[and has] 29 animals, including Monty the bobcat, a black bear, a timber wolf, two foxes (one red and one silver), two raccoons (one of them albino), two wild turkeys, a turkey vulture, a great horned owl, a peregrine falcon, a rough-legged hawk, a trumpeter swan, two mute swans, three Canada geese, four white tailed deer, two lynx, two bald eagles and two skunks


Two groups are leading the charge to keep the park operational.

They include the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition at and the Friends of Springwater Provincial Park at


I think other Provincial parks need to take heed.  Algonquin, in my opinion, will always be here.  It is giant, famous and historic and just close enough to Toronto to be a daytrip.  Parks that I like and think are lesser known are Awenda and Arrowhead.  Arrowhead, get a Friends Of… group, get a real website, a Facebook page and more.  If you already have these things, I need to tell you that a Google search didn’t find them on the first page.  I did find this wordpress blog that looks like it is updated annually and dryly informative.  It does have a facebook page that looks well used.  Awenda could use one; this page needs work.


These are suggestions only.  I wonder how saturated people are with wilderness-based advertising.   Algonquin Outfitter’s Facebook page is updated nearly hourly. as is Pure Muskoka.  Well, even if the Facebook pages or other online content doesn’t attract many new visitors, it does a good job of maintaining the enthusiasm of longtime patrons.

What is RTO7 –Ontario Ministry of Tourism’s designation for the area (Regional Tourism Organization 7) doing to help Springwater – or Awenda?  And RTO12 for Arrowhead?


I am too newly returned to help Springwater in the way I would like, but I will do my best to post a Provincial Park image every day.

Donating blood in Busan

March 27, 2012

I am simultaneously proud of having donated blood and embarrassed at having donated so seldom.

There were hassles in donating blood in Korea but today I saw the nurses had translated questionnaires for English speakers.  The translation seemed to be of a previous form and the question numbers didn’t match but the important questions could be matched.

for donating my blood, the nurses offered me a variety of gifts: I chose a 5,000 won (about $5.00 Can) gift certificate to be used for ‘culture-related purchases’ – bookstores.

The donation exhausted me.  Well, laying there and letting my blood pour out was fine, but I was a tired and weak teacher for the rest of the day.  As a university student, twenty-five years ago, I would donate blood and then train for competitive swimming in the afternoon .  Now, I took it easy and had a nap in the teacher’s lounge.

This evening, I took off the bandage and exposed my tender inner-elbow.  The yellow is from iodine and I found the sterile precautions were well-done: disposable needles and such were used and discarded safely.

If you want to give blood and can’t find a blood-bus, you could go to the donation centre in Hadan.  Photo from Hadan Subway Station.

Previous posts on blood donation: One, Two.

Chuck Sandy at KOTESOL (part 3 of conference remarks)

October 19, 2011

Sandy gave two full-length talks and a pecha kucha talk at the conference and I will summarize my thoughts here.  His first talk was on Critical Thinking, the second on activism  and the pecha kucha was a  sort of memoir.  He was also interviewed by Koreabridge.

The two talks meshed together very well.  He started by discussing faults in various textbooks, moved on to how to make better questions and activities then on to making those activities have real world applications.

Many books contain poorly thought graphs and charts that exist only to answer the very simple questions given.  When looked at from a larger perspective, they become meaningless.  The example he gave was of a chart of shopping by university students.  Some students apparently hadn’t shopped in two months – how did they eat?  The chart was bad but students could still be encouraged to discuss the problems.  This fits with my long held belief that a book with many errors can be more valuable than a better edited one.

Sandy has a different suggestion.  His idea is to think of useful activities then add language learning to them rather than try to make or simplify activities to fit preselected lesson plans.

“If critical thinking activities don’t have real world uses, they are just school work.”

“teaching =/= learning”

“Ask students ‘What did you learn today?””

“Add to the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy ‘Share’ so the top four positions would be

‘Analyze, Evaluate, Create, Share'”

His second talk continued the theme.  He wants to collaborate with other teachers and wants his students -and other students – to work together on various projects.

“Anything I can do, we can do better.”

He showed a video of an interview with him regarding one of his projects.  He describes looking for “the best and smartest teachers…”  Without showing any false modesty and only a little sarcasm, I wondered if I should start a group seeking “relatively smart and pretty good teachers”.

I should let his own many blogs and sites explain his ideas.

International Teacher Development Institute (and here).

Mash Collaboration (perhaps not connected to him, but one he mentioned several times).

Sandy on Facebook

design for change.

I was interested and I do feel inspired, but, looking back at the seminars, I begin to think there was a lot of feathers and not much chicken.

I had the same impression during his Pecha Kucha talk.  To be fair, I had that same feeling for all the Pecha Kucha talks.  The concept is interesting but I don’t know enough about it and haven’t seen enough to know if they are useful.  A Pecha Kucha talk consists of a 400 second talk with a new slide appearing every twenty seconds.  Within these haiku-like restrictions, people strive to offer useful information.

Sandy’s talk was funny and the slides were entirely of album cover images.  I enjoyed it but I didn’t learn anything from it.  I am not attacking him; the other talks were similarly amusing and content-free.  I hope that Pecha Kucha can offer good content but I haven’t seen it yet.

Busan KOTESOL mini-conference June 4

June 3, 2011

I post content here so seldom these days that using the blog to publicize an event hardly occurred to me.  The conference is TOMORROW!

Early English, Motivated Minds and Innovative Assessment” are the themes for the conference and each theme will have four speakers presenting for around 45 minutes.

More at the  KOTESOL website, including abstracts for the presentations.

Click to Embiggin the images below:

my new hero, Sohn Hong-shik

April 1, 2011

Mr Sohn has donated blood 600 times.

At first the math seemed hinky to me.  Further reading informed me:

In the early years, Sohn donated blood only once every two months, the shortest interval required between donations under law at the time in consideration of a donor’s health.

But advances in medical technology made it possible to draw only key elements of blood, such as platelet and plasma, from donors while putting much less stress on their bodies. Unlike whole blood donations, only two weeks is required between platelet or plasma donations.

I am surprised that he started donating when blood could be drawn every other month.  I started way back in the old days when you could donate only three or four times a year and I am nearly twenty years younger. Still, he has donated twenty-five times more than I have so I’m still impressed.

Foreigners can give blood in Korea but it takes a little work.

More on donating blood at Gangwon Notes: 1, 2, 3 and Buddhist monk donates blood and organs.

Busan Kotesol Mini-conference

June 26, 2010

The weather cooperated well with our plans for a conference – it was miserable and raining all day.  One might as well go to a conference as stare at the rain.

Here are some pics I took.  Click to embiggen.

Starting at the top left: two representatives manned the ATEK desk in the hallway.  I think Greg is being interviewed by EFM Busan English radio.  The Oxford representative and his books.  EFM (again, maybe) interviews two volunteers – from Japan and studying at Dongseo University. A representative from Cambridge publishing.

Second row: Costco kept everyone fed.  We placed them in a poor location but they gave us a great supply of food. David from Ten Magazine showing gift cups come with a subscription.  Peadar prepares his lecture on comics in the classroom.  Jeff LeBow interviews Greg from ATEK.

Bottom row: Busan-Gyeongnam KOTESOL President dramatically demands the jury issue a not-guilty verdict.  I guess ‘Foxy’ leaves the computer on sometimes.  Lyndon and a volunteer clean up.  After the conference, Lyndon went to his evening job and waited tables at Pasta Vanita.

I may post commentary about the conference later.  I was involved in registration, so I only saw one presentation.  I wasn’t thrilled with it, to be honest, but it was on a subject that I have worked on for several years myself, so I probably wasn’t the target audience.

Added Later: The presentation, on making student videos as a class project, was clear and well-thought out.  There were a few ideas that I will incorporate into my current student video diary program, a program I have run and refined over six or seven semesters.  However, the presenter’s class and facilities are quite different from my own.  It was a good presentation, but did not have a lot of meat in it for me.


We had hoped for sixty or more attendees and we had more than eighty so it was a clear success.  The next conference will be even better!

A few links



Ten Magazine

Blood Donor Day

June 14, 2010

Blood donation is one of the best things you can do for your fellows.  It’s easy, in Korea you get a little gift, and you save the life of someone anonymously.  I can think of few better things a person could do.

I have had challenges giving blood in Korea trying to translate the questions properly but people have always been willing to help.  I haven’t given blood this year yet because I haven’t seen a blood bus at my university.  maybe this is a good thing.  At my previous university, the city was relatively flat (well, relatively) while I now work atop a big, steep hill.  Even walking down this hill requires some balance and effort and you shouldn’t exert yourself after giving blood.

I hope the kids in this picture from the Chosun Ilbo are going to give blood, rather than have just given blood.