Archive for January, 2010

Off to Thai TESOL

I leave tomorrow for Thailand, and I’m feeling pretty good.

My PowerPoint Presentation is finished, but I may polish a slide or two before the actual song-and-dance. My handouts are photocopied and packed. I still need to get my poster markers for the workshop part of my presentation, but I texted Anna and she said she would pick them up as she swings by E-Mart. I will find the poster paper I need in Thailand. I need at least one adventure before the conference to make it seem real. 

The paper itself is not complete, but I have basically done this workshop a hundred times with my teachers-in-training, so all I really don’t need a written paper to run the session. All I will need are some notes for the theoretical introduction and some more notes for the processing of the workshop. The workshop is where I apply the theory I explain in the introduction and the processing demonstrates how the theory was applied and implemented. I will then have the participants assess the effectiveness of the workshop and the goal that the workshop aimed to achieve themselves.

Here’s the invitation to the Thai TESOL reception (see below). Rumor has it that’s it’s going to be pretty swank, since they are celebrating the 30th year of the conference.

The conference is being held at the Twin Tower Hotel in Bangkok. Here is a link to an online site that has compiled reviews of the hotel and here is another link to an actual review. I will also be staying there. It looks to be an average place, so long as I  keep my expectation low I should be pretty happy. That shouldn’t be too hard, because I will be happy if it is equal to your typical Korean Love Motel. The hotel already has one thing going for it and thatis a pool; most Korean Love Motels don’t have an outdoor swimming pool (see below). So that is certainly a plus.

If my room has wifi, I will try to keep the blog updated. If the room lacks wifi, then you may have to wait intil February to hear me tell of my adventures in Bangkok.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

One Decisions I’m Glad I Didn’t Make

A couple of weeks ago Michael R. through facebook posted a link to the Chronicle of Higher Education called “Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go.”  After reading it was kind of thankful that I didn’t go.

Back in 2003 was I seriously considering returning to the US and getting my PhD. I had bought a GRE preparation book and I was religiously studying the math section for an hour to 90 minutes each day. I wasn’t worried about the verbal section. I had taken an online diagnostic test, I was perfect on the verbal section but so bad on the math that they had to create a new category for me called ignoramus. 

I was a bit surprised by that because I had taken the GRE back in 1992 in order to get into the University of Texas.  At that time I had held my own in the math section. Of course, if you don’t use it you lose it and I certainly hadn’t done any serious math since the math I had done to pass the GRE in 1992.

Of course, one thing about the whole GRE that still kind of irks me is that the 1993 test was no longer considered valid when I considered returning to graduate school in 2003. I’m not entirely sure why. One would think that over time one gets more knowledgeable, wiser and better able to handle the rigors of higher education; especially if one has already jumped through that particular hoop once. Obviously the powers-that-be don’t see it that way. The one thing I have learned from my years in Asia is that people who wield power love to make other people jump through their hoops.

Undaunted by the needless and irrational hoop jumping, I researched specific graduate school programs, and I even went so far as to contact Paul Matsuda directly at the University of New Hampshire to inquire about what my chances would be for getting funding. After an exchange of five or six emails, he said he thought my chances would be pretty good since I had experience in teaching in both ESL and EFL setting as well as experience within the specialization I was intending on concentrating on, that is, Second Language Writing for science and engineering.

Obviously being able to get my PhD at the University of New Hampshire would have been ideal in many ways. I grew up in the area so it was close to my family and very familiar to me. In addition I had spent a year and a half doing substitute teaching in many of the local school districts so I had knowledge of the local schools and probably contacts at many of them as well which would be helpful as the kids reached school age. I even looked into what it would take for me to update my teaching credentials as a possible fall back plan should the whole PhD thing founder for some unknown reason.

I was serious committed to the idea, but the major draw back and probably the main reasons why I decided not to do it was the cost of housing in the area. Although I was fairly confident that I would get some kind of funding to do my PhD, it would not be enough to support a family of four at that time in that place especially in a housing market which was on fire. Queue up Don Ho: “Ah those tiny bubbles…”  After racking up a significant amount of debt the first time I did graduate school, I could not justify doing it again.

Another contributing factor, but not the main factor, was the fact that America had really changed since I had left in 1997, and in many ways it had not changed for the better.  I just couldn’t see going back, raising children and working in such a negative atmosphere. Although living on the other side of the world sheltered me from the worst of it, I still couldn’t completely avoid it. We live in a globalized, information saturated and media obsessed world, so unless you crawl under a rock somewhere in Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard or dig your self a hole at 34.7°N 85.7°E on the Tibetan plateau (link / archive) the chances are pretty good that you cannot escape the influence of the rest of the world. 

Although I would like to blame 9-11 for this change, I know that it’s not the cause. It was merely an intensifier. I don’t think there was a single cause. In fact many American are probably unaware of the changes at all, because they have happened slowly over a long period of time. Even though there is no single cause, there are however lots of identifiable contributing factors. Some factors, like the establishment of the military industrial complex, go back as far as World War Two. Some other obvious contributing factors were Vietnam, Watergate, and disgrace of the Nixon administration. Thus, many of the factors that are influencing the economic, political, social and cultural aspects of American society today go back to the second half of the 20th Century.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

How do you know you’re cool? You wear body armor of course.

Some things are just plain silly. A good example is this fashion article from the NYT called “A Look That’s Bullet Proof.” 

I don’t usually read the fashion section of the NYT, but  I have personalized my google news aggregator and it provides me with a section called recommended reads. I have found that the recommendations are rather good. I am either informed, shocked or appalled.

At first I thought this article fell into the last category, appalling, because the article describes how people are now wearing bullet proof vests and other body armor as fashion accessories. The whole idea made me recall the incident with my son and the light saber he wanted for Christmas.  He didn’t get what he wanted, but he still believes that we could have gotten him a real light saber in America. He rationalizes the oversight by saying we didn’t get it for him because it’s too dangerous. So, to me, the whole idea that people are actually considering wearing bullet proof vests and other body armor as fashion accessories only seems to feed into this image that my son and other like him have about America. What kind of message are people trying to send? I know how my son would understand it.

After I was initially appalled, I began to wonder: “Why did google recommend this article for me?” And then I understood.  I realized that their was a possible upside  in this fashion trend for me.

In the summer of 2002 in the lead up to the war with Iraq I bought stock in a company that manufactures body armor, DHB Industries, Inc. Although I can’t justify buying stock in companies that manufacture offensive weapons, I though a body armor manufacturer would be a good play.

My reasoning: Bush is a madman. There will be war in Iraq. It will not be as quick and easy as he believes. There will be a lot of urban fighting. There will be partisans, and an insurgency. There might even be civil war. We will be there for a long time and our troops will need protection.

My initial investment looked promising. I bought 100 shares at around $4.50 a piece. By mid-2004 the shares had zoomed to $25 each and there was no end in sight to either Afghanistan or Iraq and then something completely unexpected happen. The company’s frontline product which it had developed with DARPA was recalled. See wiki article on the Interceptor Body Armor if you want to know more. 

The stock plummeted faster than I could dump it. It, of course, didn’t help that the company was saying one thing and the US military wasn’t saying anything because it was a matter of national security and troop protection. The price was dropping but I had no information regarding why it was dropping. Obviously some people were in the know and they dumped the stock by the boat load, but others like me were not. Due to the lack of information I decided to stand pat. By 2007 it was clear what the problem was and many of the uniformed large investors were angry, so they sued. My investment wasn’t large enough to qualify me as a participant in the class action suit against the company, you had to have $10,000 or more invested and so today I am stuck with stock that is valued at .38 cents a share. 

So, my question to you is: Are you cool? Do you have your own body armor? Do me a favor, and buy your own body armor today. Make sure it says: Point Blank Solutions. Here’s a link to their product catalog so that you ca get yours today.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Referring Links: Is that the Great Firewall of China?

I like checking my blog stats, because sometimes it provides me with some unanticipated entertainment such as when people use their whole name when searching for things that target my site.

I have two ways of monitoring my stats. One service is provided by wordpress the publishing software that I use to maintain my blog, the other is statcounter, which I use for my all my sites.

The following address listed as one of the referring links which brought traffic to my site: http://firstbathrooms.co.uk/china/login.php

The address appears like this in the address bar of your browser:firstbathrooms-address

The address looks innocuous enough, but  the website looks like this:firstbathrooms-screen

The imagery obviously makes one want to ask: Is the Great Firewall of China checking up on me?

If recent news denotes a trend, then one can safely assert that China probably invests more manpower into cyber-security and cyber-mischief than any other nation. For example, a search of googles news aggregation service reveals that there are approximately 10,000 articles for the search terms: “China,” “cyber,”  and “attack” and approximately 3 million news articles for the search terms “China,” “cyber,”  and “security.”

Interestingly the two blog articles that this entity checked out were: “SLA meets the Faithful” and “A Morning Mish Mash.” Both of these particular blog posts mention two things that this entity might find interesting bathrooms and China. However, the entity did not check out all articles that mention bathrooms and I have mentioned bathrooms on several occasions on my blog:

nor did it check out all the articles about China that I have posted on my blog:.

Stranger still no search terms were entered to find these articles. In fact there have been no searches targeting my site since the 13th of January. The lack of search terms seems to suggests that one party monitors the internet for specific terms and another party inspects the sites that the first party finds. 

The question still remains: Why these two articles and not the others? The only reason I can think of for “SLA Meets the Faithful” is that I mentioned that my former student dreamed of going to China as missionary and teaching the Bible in English. If I were the Chinese government, I’d certainly be worried about this. Remember the guy used Universal Grammar to prove the existence of the Tower of Babel. In terms of “A Morning Mish Mash” it would have to be due to Tony’s email and blog posting which I quoted about how the Koreans and Saudis trashed the US, but the lone Chinese student provided the expected pat answers. Maybe the Chinese government is wondering if this student is a dissent in the making.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Music in the 21st Century

I read a thought provoking article this morning from CNET called: “Will Recorded Music Survive the 2010s?”  My guess is that the current trend which is described in the article will continue and that big studio produced albums will be “a thing of the past.”

Like he argued there will be less money in the music industry, because musician will produce and market their own music through social networking sites like facebook and myspace and they will upload self-made videos to youtube with links to places where you can buy and download their songs.

Because of these trends I see music becoming more local; more community oriented. Bands will work their local area and if they are lucky they will become regional, but only a few will become truly national or global. The reason for this is that social networking is a targeted form of marketing that uses a bottom-up distribution approach rather than the top-down distribution approach that major record companies currently have in place.

A good example of this can actually be found here in Korea. The EV Boyz  are a community based band that has self-produced and self marketed their own music. They primarily are entertaining the expat community here in South Korea and their facebook site reflects that.

But many other bands and not just one band here in Korea are using this approach. There are tens of thousand of bands to be found on facebook and other social networking sites. Youtube is also filled with the music of both amateur and struggling professional musicians.

But music marketing isn’t comprised to just those sites. An article posted to Mashable: the Social Media Guide called “Social Music: 5 Essential Tools for Marketing Your Band”  listed five web sites especially designed to help musicians market their music and their bands using a bottom-up, grassroots approach.

This will also make music conferences like SXSW even more important. In fact I would not be surprised to see even more of them in the future. SXSW has already inspired similar festivals elsewhere, including North by Northeast (NXNE) in Toronto and West by Southwest (WXSW) in Tucson, AZ.

The author of “Will recorded music survive the 2010s?” seemed to think that this loosening of music industry control was a bad thing. He made the following statements:

You can’t record the sound of a band in a great sounding room, unless you have a great sounding room. No wonder most new recordings sound so contrived. Just because you can make a record at home doesn’t mean you should.

He has a point. The sound quality may not be as good, but in some ways at least in terms of diversity and creativity I believe the music scene will be better. The music industry will certainly become less hierarchical. Music will be driven by the artists and their communities of followers which might create opportunities for more collaboration and experimentation. 

Personally, I feel that the record companies deserve what they have got. I remember when I was a college DJ in the late 1980s just as the transition from vinyl albums to CDs was being made. I read an article in the College Music Journal that said CDs were going to be great for consumers because compact discs were so relatively cheap to manufacture. The article describe how typical production and distribution cost of CDs ranged from .20 to .50 cent a unit compared to .50 to .75 cents per unit for vinyl and cassette tapes.

The article went on to predict that CDs would usher in a golden age for music consumers, that is, significantly cheaper music. But that actually never happened. CDs did usher in a golden age for the music industry as they gouged consumers with prices that were 20 to 30 percent higher for CDs than vinyl or cassettes.

The music industry exploited technology for its own purposes and now they are dying because of technology they cannot control. Perhaps if the music industry had looked beyond short-term profits in the late 1980s and early 1990s they would have avoided alienating their consumers. But that is a what if that simply never happened.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Thoughts on the End of a Dynasty

I have never considered myself a rabid sports fan, but I enjoy keeping up with my hometown teams, and since I live overseas following my hometown team doesn’t mean flipping through the sports section in the local newspaper. Instead I keep abreast of my hometown teams electonically. More specifically I have a newsfeed. This morning’s newsfeed brought me this article from the Providence Journal: “Pats Dynasty Died When Brady Hurt His Knee.” 

 
As the headline indicates, the article argues that the New England Patriot’s dynasty died not with the loss to the Ravens this year in the playoffs, but with Brady’s injury in 2008. I disagree. I believe the day the Patriot’s dynasty died was September 9th, 2007; the day that “Spygate” or “Videogate” was exposed.  Sure, the Pats went on to have an 18-1 season in 2007, but it was on that day that the mystique and majesty of the dynasty, the decade long dominance died. It died because what they had accomplished became sullied. It died because NFL fans and players alike looked differently at the Patriots. Where they once saw preparation, hard-work, and effectively implementation of tactical plans, they now saw cheaters and no one can respect or be in awe of cheaters.

Although this doesn’t change my feeling for the home team, I am still a Patriots fan. Furthermore, my feelings regarding “Spygate” or “Videogate” has also not altered my respect for Tom Brady. I believe Brady is great quarterback and his rise to prominence is a wonderful story of hard-work and determination; however, my feelings about Belichick are more ambiguous and complicated. Do I believe he is a great coach? Yes, but…and this is the key…his greatness is overshadowed by his ethical bankruptcy. He has a very Machiavellian approach to winning; that is to say he has a win at all costs mentality that allows him to justify the use of any means necessary, which, I believe runs counter to the idea of sportsmanship and fair play.

Monday, January 18th, 2010

A Morning Mish Mash

Tried to get up at 6:30, but it was too bloody cold. Finally dragged my sorry-ass out of bed by 7:00. First stop the bathroom. My pipes were working, but not the apartment’s. Our pipes were frozen again for the second straight day.

I can’t wait to hear what the kyungbashi ahjushi (maintenance/security man) has to say. He gave me quite a lecture yesterday about not leaving the faucet dripping. Of course, I couldn’t really understand what he was saying, but I’ve lived in Korea long enough so I’ve developed a bit of nunchi – the ability to sense the intention and needs of the the interlocutor –  combine that with the the man’s tone of voice and the gestures he was making in the direction of the lavatory, and then one can fairly accurately surmise what I was being berated about.

After the pit stop in the bathroom, I fired up the coffee pot, and then I fired up my computer.  First stop my email. The following is from my bother Chip. It’s a picture of me circa 1975 while the family was off visiting him at college. My facial expression suggests that this was a photo-op rather than a picture capturing my younger self in my natural habitat. I guess I wasn’t a big fan of either the Jolly Green Giant or Little Sprout.

mn1975 

Also in my email was a thread started yesterday by Tony:

Today’s topic in class was about living in the US. The textbook suggested beginning with a brainstorm on student impressions on the US. I thought this would be good as everyone in the world has some opinion on America.

The class in a low level class, a dynamic mixture of Koreans and Saudis with one lone Chinese with a perfect balance between the two groups. The lone Chinese boy, like the mayor or the vice-president, acts as a mediator between the two groups and, when needs be, steps to cast his vote to break any deadlock, otherwise he just sits back, eats potato chips and lets it all wash over him.

So, I set up the brainstorm and expected innocent responses like Hollywood, baseball, hamburger, etc.

The first thing that came out was, “country of terrorists,” and this came from one of the Koreans, not the Saudis, but after that comment, it was free game and, yes, the fat dumb-ass nation was royally trashed by citizens of it’s erstwhile allies, the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The only official “enemy” in the room was from Communist China and he is the one who came up the bland answers like “Statue of Liberty” and “Hip Hop Music.” As the old proverb goes, “with friends like these…”

This is something completely new. I mean, there always was griping about the US of A, but it was fringe thing. When I was in Korea over a decade ago, you’d only here this type of talk from half-baked ultra-nationalists. In fact, the most anti-American group to be found in Korea a decade ago were the American expats.

Things have changed. Bush cooked every half-baked anti-Americanism into a great wedding cake of anti-Americanism and the Obama effect has done little to change it.

Philip provided the following video response to this email thread. It’s George Carlin in NYC and he’s talking about the Persian Gulf War. My verbal response was more along these lines:

Bush had nearly a decade to work his magic. Obama has had only a little more than a year, and he was left with quite a mess to clean up. Frat boys and their parties after all.
 
Will Obama actually be able to reverse the “Bush Effect?” I doubt it. As his Nobel Peace Prize Speech signified he is an American President who represents America’s interests and those interests are not necessarily the same as the interests of the the American people or the people of the world.

After email I decided to check out facebook. From facebook I followed this video link. Keith Olbermann’s Quick Comment about Haiti, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. My response: “Keith, nice job trashing Pat and Rush. I especially liked how you twisted the knife at the end.”

Update on the frozen pipes. The Kyungbashi Ahjushi has come and gone and we have water again. It was a different dude from yesterday; a younger dude so no lecture to his elders about leaving the faucet dripping. Further investigation of the incident revealed that the pipe froze with the tub in mid drip. Once the dude had thawed the pipe the drip returned to the tub.  I had wrongly assumed someone had truned off the dripping faucet.

Friday, January 15th, 2010

The Funny Thing About Search Queries and Blogs

The good thing is that I know my family and friends are reading my blog. I know they are reading my blog not by the comments they are leaving or the discussions we are having but by the search query strings which are being reported in my blog stats. The search query usually begins with the person’s name and then is followed by some other term usually but not exclusive to the word “sex” or one of it’s many variations or synonyms.

I also know that my family and friends are not only confining their queries to the search box at my site, they are also inputting similar queries into google such as: person’s name, some other term usually but not exclusive to the word “sex” or one of it’s many variations or synonyms, and then brawnblog or brawnblog.com. This is also being reported in my blog stats. If you were wondering, yes, I also know that some of you are using firefox when you enter my site. 

For many bloggers interpreting their statistics is crucial for the advertising revenue they hope to generate from their sites, but I don’t sell ad space at my site, so how should I interpret this data? What is my readership trying to tell me? Are these queries silent pleas for me to write about their sex lives? Are they looking for soft porn in which they themselves are cast in the leading role?

As a writer one should always consider his or her audience. Obviously I can not ignore these stats, but as of yet, I do not know how I should respond.

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Accidental Actress

Here’s a story aimed at Korean Young Adult ESL readers that I shopped around last year. Although it got me a writing job, the story itself and the other proposed stories in the series were never picked up by the publisher I worked for. Since it’s on my hard drive gathering eltecrostatic radiation, I figure I might as well self-publish it through my blog. The next story in the series is called “Through Ah-Reum’s Eyes.” If I ever have enough time to write everything I want, I will try to clean it up and post it here as well.

Accidental Actress
by James Brawn

I was having “one-of-those-days,” you know, the kind of day where everything was going wrong. My mother forgot to wake me up before she took my sister to day care, so I was late for school. I had spent all my allowance the day before on a new jacket, so I didn’t have money for a taxi. If I took the subway I’d never make it to school on time, but I simply didn’t have a choice.

On my way to the train station, as I was crossing the street, a man in a black sedan ran a red light and hit me with his car. He didn’t hit me hard, but he did knock me over. As I fell I ripped my new jacket. I also got a cut on my hand and it was bleeding pretty badly.

I was planning on just staring at him, you know, giving him the evil eye which says, “I wish you were dead!” But before I could, he jumped out of his car and started freaking out. He was shouting on his cell-phone saying that he needed an ambulance; shouting that he had just hit a child on her way to school.

He acted like I was dead and I was standing right in front of him!

When he got off the phone he started talking really fast: “Everything’s going to be all right. The ambulance is on its way. I’ll ride with you to the hospital, and I’ll stay with you until your parents arrive. Don’t worry everything is going to be fine.”

All I wanted to say was: “Hey, I’m OK, but could give me a ride to school?” But the man never stopped talking; he didn’t say anything; he just kept repeating the same thing: “Everything’s going to be all right.” over and over again.

I really wished I was in a movie, you know, so I could have slapped him to make him calm down, but you can only slap people in movies.

When the ambulance arrived the Emergency Medical Technician asked me a bunch of questions: “Did I hit my head? Did I think anything was broken?” and I answered, “No,” to each of them. Finally the EMT asked me if I needed to go to the hospital, and I said, “No, but I do need a ride to school, and a note explaining why I am late.”

Of course, after I said that, the man who had hit me started freaking out again, and he said, “You can’t go to school like that! Your jacket is torn. You have blood all over your school uniform. I’ll need to get you new a new jacket and a new school uniform.”

The ambulance guy looked at me and then looked at the man who had hit me, and asked, “Do you think you’ll be all right? Do you want us to take you home?”

“Oh, I’m fine. I’ll be all right,” I said, and I let the ambulance leave. I couldn’t refuse the man’s offer to replace my torn jacket, and besides I was already late for school. If I was going to be late anyway I might as well get some new clothes, and the guy did owe me something for hitting me with his car.

The man was looking at me, and said, “You look like a person I can trust, so this is what we’re going to do. I’m running a little late for a meeting, so I’m going to give you my credit card and my business card. I’ll drop you off at the Gallaria Department Store, and when you’re finished getting a new jacket and a new school uniform come back to my office and I’ll see that you are taken back to school.”

galleria-seoul

I looked at him and I said, “You’re kidding me. You’re going to give me your credit card.”

“Yes. Like I said you look like someone I can trust.”

He dropped me off at the Gallaria Department Store, and I spent about an hour shopping. I was tempted to buy everything I wanted, but I decided the man had been really nice, so I just replaced my jacket and my bloody school blouse.

The whole time I was shopping, I never once thought to look at the man’s business card, but when I did, I got a really big shock. He was a famous producer for JB Entertainment.

When I arrived at JB Entertainment, I was treated like somebody famous. “Mr. Park, will send for you as soon as his meeting is finished,” said the receptionist. “Please wait here.”  They took me to a private waiting room, and got me something to eat and drink.

Mr. Park came and got me a short time later. “Before I take you back to school, I would like you to read something for me.”

“OK,” I said kind of shyly.

He took me to a room, and there were some TV cameras. I looked at him nervously, and he said, “It’s called a screen test, I want to see how you look and sound on camera. There will be several other actors and actresses here as well.”

There was a group of about six of us, and Mr. Park had us stand – sometimes alone sometimes together – in front of the camera. Sometimes he asked to do and say certain things. It was kind of fun. After a while I even forgot I was being filmed, and I started joking around with this other girl.   

After the screen test, Mr. Park had me come back to his office, and he said, “We’re casting characters for a new TV drama. Would you be interested in playing the main character’s younger sister? The girl you were joking around with during the screen test has already been cast as the main character. The two of you acted like sisters, so we think you’d be perfect for that part.”

I was speechless; I could only nod my head in agreement. I never did make it to school that day. My teachers were really angry, but that’s how I became an accidental actress.   
   
<1027>
Seoul-Paju, South Korea
March, 2009

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

25 Random Things about me

Originally written in February of 2009

The first decade of the 21st Century has come and gone and I am still trying to catch up. Some of you may well remember that last year around this time the big fad on facebook was to post 25 random things about yourself. Here’s a NYT article to help jog your memory if you have forgotten. In the article she said a google search brought back 35,700 results. A comparable google search today gives you 56, 900, 000 results, so obviously at one time or another this must have been a big thing, and since I have never pretended to be stylish, here is my belated list.   

A quick reminder of the rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about yourself. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.

Disclaimer: I actually wrote this at 35,000 feet while I was on the plane between Boston and Detroit. I never had time to type it up until now. Although my memory is suspect – I am over forty after all – I seem to recall being tagged by a staggering number of people, but since the facebook news feed isn’t a permanent record, I have no way to verify this, so instead I am just going to stick it here on my blog.

So let us start….

1. Best first date: Skinny-dipping in Walden Pond

2. Worst breakfast I ever had was homemade French toast. My roommate substituted Worcestershire Sauce for vanilla in the batter.

3. I was on a school bus going home when Bucky F. Dent hit his homerun against the Red Sox in 1978. The school bus driver, Walter P., stopped the bus, stepped out onto the side of the road, and shouted: “God damn f****** Yankees!” I was naïve in elementary school. It took me almost a year for me to learn what f****** meant.

4. Once upon-a-time I was a mall rat. My best arcade style video game was Tempest. My high score +200K circa 1982.

5. Queerest night: Getting drunk with the gay Baron in Prospect Park in Providence, RI. We spent the night discussing the definition of love.

6. I can eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I drink more coffee than any other beverage.

7. Raciest urban moment: I was chased by a Puerto Rican brother and his four friends after I had stopped to check out his sister and her friends playing in a fire hydrant. But seriously, she didn’t look like she was twelve-years old. The white T-shirt,for all intent and purposes, exposed her maturation.

8. Damelion was the name of my greatest Dungeon and Dragons character.

9. January 1st, 1981 my house burnt down. We were saved by our dog and everyone got out alive except for the cat. On January 1st, 1998 I found 200,000 won in an ATM machine in Seoul, South Korea, but 1998 doesn’t make up for 1981 in my karma accounting book.

10. Cats and dogs really do have inter-species problems.

11. In a rational world, war would never be a solution to a problem.

12. I don’t miss high school, but I do miss those Wednesday ski trips to Attitash and/or Wildcat.

13. My fist live 21+ show was X live (as opposed to dead) at the Paradise in Boston circa 1983.

14. My last live show, excluding the EV Boyz, was Elvis Costello in Providence, RI circa 2003.

15. I don’t get out much.

16. In high school, parental intervention can be defined as your girlfriend’s mother walking in on you while you are doing the wild thing.

17. Worst first date:  The blind date I agreed to go on in Korea. I spent the better part of the afternoon and some of the evening listening to the woman go on ad nauseum about how important money was to her. I suppose this shouldn’t have surprised me based on how materialistic South Korean have become especailly in terms of marriage and courtship. I  should have had the sense to never agree to this blind date, but I was curious. I was a writing teacher at the time and I had read numereous descriptions of blind dates. Sadly the banal descriptive assignements I read in my writing class were much better than the actual experience. Sometime living life vicariously is better.   

18. When I was student teaching in Austin, Texas, I once went through a whole lesson with my fly down. Tamika, what one might call a precocious student, informed me that she prefers men who wear boxers. I shrugged it off, until moments later I looked down a realized…I wear boxers and my fly is open!

19. Some say it pays to advertise, but in the wrong circumstance it could get you a year in jail or $25,000 fine.

20. Some of the most dysfunctional westerners I have every met live and work in Asia. Ask me about my trip to Vietnam some time is you want details.

21. I will never get a tattoo. I hate needles. Seriously, they make my heart palpitate and I begin to perspire at an alarming rate.

22. After the selection of George Bush in 2000, I purposely refused to file taxes. Instead I called the IRS to report that I would be participating in civil disobedience; however, with the election of Obama and his promise to close Gitmo and his strong stance against torture, I had the wonderful experience of doing eight years of back taxes. While I was toiling way to bring myself up-to-date, I wondered: “Was I really protesting or was I participating in Slacktivism?”

23. Biggest regret: Not going to New York University.

24. For the most part, I don’t miss living in the states, but I do miss frappes from “The Ice House.”

iceh3

25. Being a child is easier than raising a child.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010