The camp techie, Jang Hui, just fixed my settings so that my computer is accessing the University LAN. Oh joy oh joy oh joy!
Here are some things I wrote during the wait for the Great Net Hookup.
Tonight, the LAN thinks I am connected but nothing is coming down the pipes, so Im writing a post to be actually posted later.
Camp looks like it will be fine, but there are a couple of barricades which seem to oppose things running smoothly. The first is that some teachers dont seem to be totally interested in getting with the program. Theyre doing things their own way? which seems to me to translate to not quite doing things full on. And yet, they have other strengths we can call upon when we need them. Ah well, inter-teacher tensions could have been much worse, so I wont complain about that.
A bigger problem is that one of the admin peopleloosely connected with the camp, but who thinks shes rather important, apparentlydidnt purchase all the supplies on the lists teachers submitted. Shes had the lists for a month, but just didnt do anything. Shes the same person who was supposed to procure the dormitory keys for teachers and teaching assistants; well, I did that this morning, because one of our TAs, when he called her, was told just to get them from the secutiry guy. Which was what we had to do last time, and which is always a hassle, which was why we asked that it be done ahead of time. The keys thing was easily sorted out, but the lack of paper, crayons, and other basic English camp necessities simply wasnt. It was a sudden surprise and a big shock to us, and teaching assistants were sent scrambling at the last minute to make sure we have enough materials for tomorrow. I swear I want to yell very nasty things at this stupid, stupid woman. But you see, shes got what they call guanxi in China; shes got connections. So she can keep her job and do nothing at all. For the record, those people absolutely suck.
Hanging out with some of the other teachers tonight was therefore a kind of surprising relief. After the communcal bitching and camp news (ie. gossip), it got around to more interesting things, like discussions of CELTA and DELTA courses, recent and fine films like The Quiet American and some Vietnamese film Im now curious about, and other similarly interesting and soothing conversation. It was like sitting in a nice, warm tub at the sauna, you know?
Well, now Im going to get some sleep. I swore to myself my bedtime during camp is 12:00 midnight, and Im going to keep to it, for my healths sake. So off I trundle to bed.
PS: Dinner tonight was… very meaty. They served several of their biggest hit plates: spaghetti (I didnt try it, I never eat spaghetti made by a Korean in Korea), pork cutlet (돈가스), and some kind of spicy stewed pork that was in fact quite edible. Too bad they were rationing the rice: the spaghetti was supposed to make up for it, but those refusing pasta were out of luck. Rationing rice. Damn. Right, off to bed, for real now.
What drives me up the wall is when some massive administrative f*ckup has happened and its very clear whose fault it is, or who shares in the fault, and yet some little boy who seems to think his suit makes him a man tries to tell me to my face that, Its nobodys fault, its all of our faults.?
No, you little piece of undigested cud that slipped from the back end of a dilapidated and wholly retarded she-cow, its not everyones fault, certainly not the fault of the teachers and camp coordinator who had three preparatory meetings and submitted concatenated, concise, clear materials listsin Korean, no less, with the specific activities theyre required for clearly marked on the sheets!!!a month ago!
The fact that whoever was supposed to buy the damned things instead sat on the lists for a month and then complained, after giving us bits and pieces of the supplied we requested, that shes too busy to go shopping everyday during campwhich, by god, is absolutely not what we want either, but shes too much of an idiot to send her teaching assistants out and get it all done in one day so its done for the whole camp, since it wasnt even done ahead of timeand that she doesnt know what its for… which is clearly marked on the damned sheet, which, have I mentioned, were submitted in Korean. I mean, how bloody stupid does one need to be to reach this woman on her level?
So, little man who says, Its all our faults,?I say f*ck off. Go off and show off your suit to someone else. Dont tell me its my goddamned fault. Youre an idiot, and a twerp, and everyone who heard what you said knew it was bullshit, even if we pretended, for politeness?sake, that it wasnt. We only didnt tell you that because were hoping you do resolve the problems that you claimed you would.
In other news… Ive been doing the word scrambles for other people who, despite the fact I told them the word scrambles were part of the homework sheets they were supposed to make, somewhere along the way came to thinking that the word scrambles are not part of the homework sheets. So what happened? I ended up doing the first three, and decided it was not my job. I spent enough time in the weeks before camp prepping all the worksheets, and I dont need also to do the very simple work Ive asked others to do. I hope it gets done, but it was made clear during the last meeting whose responsibility it would be for what, so at least nobody can blame me if it ends up messed up. And I wont end up spending another dinner hour preparing someone elses word puzzles.
Finally, I turn to the the kids in my class. Some of them are a little fussy, or like to reject all of my suggestions simply because theyre coming from me. I was shocked to find not one child in the class wanted to be class president, where, last time around, there were a few kids jockeying for the position. (I cant blame them on the latter point: Im half certain I avoided student politics as much as possible for similar reasons, really, only joining the muisic students?council because of some issue I wanted addressed that I knew nobody else would care to address.) There are some really bright kids in the group, as well as some very mischevious ones. I shall have to be a little more strict from time to time, and I asked my teaching assistant to do the same. That will hopefully ward off anything too big in the way of rebellion, and I can focus on the learning and fun in the class. Anyway, its only the second day, and only the first day of actual classes, so theres a lot I dont know about in terms of these kids, and they still have a ways to go before they really relax around one another. Hopefully tomorrows big activity will loosen them up somewhat more.
Still no functioning internet in the dormitory, though Ive been told itll begin working tonight. Dinner was passable, or would have been if Id arrived earlier: some spicy beef stuff, what seemed like deepfried seaweed, some rice, and a few kinds of kimchis.
Im a little concerned, as the left wisdom tooth is starting to act up a little. I think I shall try to sleep quite early tonight, if possible. I may have to go to the doctor tomorrow evening, which would be alright but its hardly a fun way to spend time off from work. Ill give the teeth and good brush, hope for the best, and wait and see tomorrow. It may just be the spices from dinner and the dry air and irritability causing my sensitivity, though the congestion in my sinuses and the weird pressurization changes in my ears suggest otherwise.
January 5th, after lunch break.
Lunch was, well, I suppose it was alright. To food is kind of a punishment-styled affair, edible things mixed in with semi-edible. I think I shall buy a few small packets of milk and some cereal… the packets of milk can defrost somewhat while I shower, and be ready for my cereal just in time for me to eat amnd rush to class in the mornings.
Coffee with Patrick is a lifesaver. He has nice, hot coffee every morning, which renders me more like a human. This is something I need in the mornings.
The kids are starting to get that Im in charge, and that I can and will say no to some of their demands. But theyre also starting to laugh and joke a lot more, too, which is fun for them and for me, as well.
Im thinking I need to raid my bag of fruit, which is in the fridge over at the teaching building. The diet so far has included vegetables, rice, and meats but not a lot of fruit. Almost none, to be honest, though Im told the kids?nightly snacks include fruit.
Internet should be working sometime today, which is going to change how it feels to live at the camp dorms. Maybe itll hurt my productivity, I dont know. Last night I was so tired I slept at 8:00pm or so, and then woke at around 10pm again, from the noise of the kids being back in the dormitory. I really wish the heat would be turned on around dinner time, since its turned off at 10am and doesnt come back on till sometime after the kids return at nightaround 10pm. Those three hours of sitting around in the dorm are damned cold and awful. I think next trip home Ill bring one of my woollen blankets from India, which are wonderfully warm and great for when youre stuck sitting around in a cold place.
But my main objective for downloading would be to get some TV shows and movies Im after, and to check my email and post little things to my blog. If I do any substantial writing, I want it to be on my manuscript, since Im so close to finishing that project now. I hit (I think it was) page 175 last night, during the noisy period before and just after lights out, and Im guessing the bookll be done on or around page 215 or 225.
Now I have about three minutes to kill before I need to leave for the teaching hall again. Its nearly time for the trading game to start, and I am meeting Jae Hoon, who is helping me run the thing… ah, busy busy busy.
January 5th, evening:
If you can avoid it, don’t go to the Emergency Ward in a Korean hospital. It’s much more expensive than normal treatment, and you wait a lot longer.
On the positive angle, I’m now on nice antibiotics and painkillers for an infection in my gum, and I got time to sit and quietly read about 40 pages of Graham Greene’s (so far) hilarious novel The Comedians.