Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thoughts that fly out the window

The weather is getting warmer. The sun is out. And the window light was just too good to be wasted.

I've been thinking a lot (that's what happens when you live alone). Thoughts big and small. Like... "I wonder if I should do laundry today"... or ... "I can't teach like this forever, can I? What's next?"

I used to have plans. Now, it's year by year. Wherever the wind blows me. Is that bad? I can always go back to school... but I hate the idea of taking out loans. I've been thinking a lot about trying to get a scholarship here. To attend a Korean university to study Korean. And then I could get some kind of sweet photography/translator job. I'm still not done with Korea. It's got its hooks into me I think.

And at the same time... for the first time... I actually feel a bit homesick. Even though I don't technically have a home in the states to return to. Of course, I can always stay with my parents... but that means getting a local low level job and sinking into mediocrity. Into the mundane life. Don't get me wrong, the hometown life isn't a bad one... it's just not for me. I'm too... too... I don't know. Perhaps I've seen too much. Done too much. Learned too much. And so I can never go back to what I was before.

Am I losing or finding myself?

And just like the lyrics from one of Jack Johnson's songs... I often wonder... "Where have all the good people gone?" I would like to see someone do something selfless... something to help someone else. And I also want the opportunity to do something selfless myself... could I/would I, if the situation presented itself? I'd like to think so.

I think I'm suffering from Solomon's malady. Everything seems meaningless... a chasing after the wind. I meet people that just want to make money. They work for hours and hours. They seek power, recognition, and pleasure. But it's all been done before. And when we die, what will we have accomplished... what will I have accomplished? What am I doing that will leave a legacy? I think everyone must have these thoughts. I suppose the point is... so what? What now? Solomon's answer was to respect God, eat, drink, and be merry. Actually, Solomon's words are kind of a downer... he concludes with "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!"

I suppose the fact that he knew or felt that everything was meaningless means the opposite exists... there must be some meaning... somewhere. And that is what everyone is looking for. And if I get really philosophical, the search for meaning itself, could be the meaning (which is something I don't actually believe). I know these ideas are not new; they've been out there forever. But it's fun to throw them around sometimes.

I think, in the end, Solomon's point was that nothing is permanent except God. Wealth comes and goes. Power comes and goes. Beauty comes and goes. And even love can fade away. Only God seems to be constant. And for me, that means, if I want to find meaning, I need to know and understand God as best I can.

I've been told I think too much. Perhaps it's true. Perhaps I've been cursed with an ever questioning mind. Doomed to never know peace and child-like bliss.

Oh well, I guess I can just follow Solomon's advice and take joy in the time of my youth, while I still have it. But of course I'll remember... I must remember... any consequences good or bad will reach far into the future.

So here's to taking joy in life and thinking by windows...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Wedding at the Y

One of my Korean co-workers got married this weekend. It was in a wedding hall at the YMCA and it was the usual shotgun style... started at 12:30 and ended promptly at 1:00. We then made our way downstairs for the customary buffet lunch.

My Korean friends complained about my "strange" photos... and I simply replied... "These are style shots."

So here are a few style shots. It's always my goal to try and get the shots that tell stories or make a person think for a second. Candid shots are my favorite kind.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009


The DMZ was interesting. The weather was cold but clear. There were about 30 foreigners in the tour group. My co-worker and friend Nancy told me about the trip. We both enjoy photography, and actually we have identical cameras.

I don't really like big groups. I think I've mentioned it before. It takes a lot of energy out of me to socialize when there are so many people. And sometimes I feel the energy isn't worth it, because I'll most likely never see any of them again. It was nice to have a buddy along to talk with and site see with though. Because of this... you'll notice that a lot of my pictures have Nancy in them.

The trip involved a visit to Tunnel 2. The N. Koreans have dug multiple tunnels into S. Korea under the DMZ in preparation for some future invasion. 4 of these tunnels have been exposed by the south and then abandoned by the north. They have since become tourist attractions. We were able to walk part way down one of these invasion tunnels.

We visited museums and war memorials near the border and even had a chance to look into N. Korea. We then stayed the night in a small village about 6km from the DMZ. On Sunday morning we were able to ride tandem bikes around the village.

It was a strange feeling being there. So close to a place where thousands of lives had been lost. A place where families fought and killed each other. A place of sadness.

I took about 200 photos, but these are a few of my favorite... many of them were taken within the little village.

Nancy won the "mine hunt" game and she didn't even have a detector. It just wasn't fair.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The oh so Fleeting Weekend

Weekends come and go so quickly. My weekend hasn't even started and I already feel like it's gone.

So many people with so many plans. There are too many fun things to choose from and sadly, I can't do them all. This weekend I'll be going to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). I'm sure I'll have some pics up here as soon as I get back.

I'm enjoying the new class. I think it might even be more fun than my last class. Of course they aren't perfect. I still have the students that jump around, that don't want to sit, that don't want to participate, that cry in the morning... and it takes about 10 minutes just to get everyone to line up, but they're just so darn cute and funny.

I spend my day jumping around... animating everything I say... and singing children's songs. I also wipe dirty noses, change shoes, facilitate multiple potty breaks throughout the day, read stories, print out princess coloring sheets, and say "sit down" several hundred times.

Here's another student interview. This student is very quiet as you'll notice. She's also a bit of a princess and likes to do things her way or no way. She also calls me "Daddy". Although she's super cute and it's cute... I'm working to change it to.. "Teacher".

I've wondered a bit about the legality of posting these. As far as I know, there aren't any laws in Korea about it. In fact, my Korean co-teacher is in the classroom every day taking pictures and some schools in Korea have streaming videos that parents can check at any time. I'm not too worried. If there is a problem, I can simply delete them.

The ease of creating and posting videos is amazing. I think it will change how I record my continued stay in Korea. Originally, I uploaded to youtube, but I found the quality was poor. Now I'm uploading to facebook and embedding the videos here and it's much better.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interview 2

This is Ethan. He's amazing. And very funny. He is a little younger than everyone else, but he loves English.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I interviewed each of my students. Here's one...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tesla Globes and Starbucks

Sometimes it just hits me... I'm living a strange life. I never would have imagined it quite like this.

I recently spoke with a friend from those long ago days when I was in elementary school. She said she always thought I would be successful.

And after a moment of thought... I decided... yeah, I guess I have been "successful". I've continued my education (informally and formally), I've avoided the trap of drugs and alcohol, I've had adventures, I've made life-long friends, I've pursued my interests (and developed new ones), and I think my mom and dad are proud of what I've become. And someday I plan to put the icing on the cake with a wife and a couple of kids. :) I suppose you could say I've been successful.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Camera Info

You know how you always watch those police shows... and the guy says... "Can you zoom in on that image?"... and somehow magically they get a perfectly identifiable mugshot from a reflection in a car mirror viewed through a cheesy security camera. Well, some of that is possible.

It's amazing how much light information the camera actually collects. The first picture is with no editing. It's what I wanted the picture to look like. The second picture has had the light levels adjusted using picasa3 software. The power lines and stone path seem to appear out of nowhere.