Strange Voyages on the Internet Seas

Haeundae Beach
Of those few meager hits that I accumulate, I often wonder how people came to find me. Sure, there are people I personally harangued in the real world, and some who have gotten through this, the great series of tubes, via vigorous linking. But some people stumble here on the sandy shores of Stupid Ugly Foreigner purely by chance, by looking out into the great waters of the electronic world and forging forth in search of the weird, the sexy, the funny, the gruesome, and usually some gangrenous, misshapen mixture thereof. How exactly did they end up here? How happy were they that they arrived? Let us cast a look upon these wayward travelers and remark upon their glorious sojourns.

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Nuggets of Pedagogy: The Party

As the semester wore down, we discovered we had more grade 4 classes than we had grade 4 curriculum. We were scheduled for at three weeks beyond what could feasibly be stretched out from our textbooks, and thus we spent two weeks covering extra material. With an additional class left-over in the inexplicable final 3-day week of school, we had no idea what to do.

The last week of school, students can taste summer. The weather heralded it: the monsoon season broke, and suddenly every hour of the day was one of verdant splendour, of glistening sunshine and the smell of grass, and dirt, and ice cream, and freedom. Kids are generally useless the closer the summer gets, and when the weather becomes perfect, they come to see adults as the enemy. We are obstacles standing in the way of fun, robbing them of precious, non-raining time outside. Time away from school. Time in the park, or huddled over gameboys, or in PC bangs, or out ruining everything, like children desperately want to do.

Knowing this, the prospect of actually teaching them something on one of the last buffer days of the school year seemed preposterous. Their quivering, pneumatic child brains had already evacuated, and were waiting to meet their bodies out in the sunshine. Teaching them English would be throwing handfuls of sand into the ocean, granules of knowledge instantly swallowed and lost to the vast, unending knowledge that summer was upon them. Instead: a party.

One of the best parts of teaching in Korea is the low-level expectation in terms of entertainment value. Given the amount of time spent in hagwons, and the lecture style of a lot of their classes, it doesn’t take much to trick them into thinking they are just playing games. I use this to my advantage, and thus the daily agenda includes at least two “games” which are loosely concealed speaking or writing activities. But they get up, and they move, or there’s a ball involved, and suddenly they don’t think it’s learning anymore.

By the same token: a party isn’t that hard to assemble. Tell the students to bring a snack, move the chairs to face the projector screen, find Korean subtitles for How to Train Your Dragon. Done. Where at home I would have had to assemble my entire collection of board games, call in for seven classes worth of pizza and show up with face paint and water balloons, my kids are happy with air conditioning and no pressure. They tremble with excitement, and give to me and my co-teacher their supplication: handfuls of chocolate chip cookies, Doritos, Pringles, and whatever bizarre bagged offal they have compelled their parents to buy for them. They leave my classroom docile, placid, eager to come back in the fall and earn another movie and quietness day, and happy that we didn’t try to actually do any of that learning nonsense.

 

[Sidebar 1: Currently on the road again. Posting may be sparse for a week or two. I will be back with oodles of content and my peculiar brand of neurotic larfs in no time, trust me, no really.]

 

[Sidebar 2: you guys probably don’t care about this, but:

 

You like me! You really like me.

50,000 is ultimately a big, meaningless number without context, but it still makes me feel pretty proud in a vague, undefinable way. People on the internet clicked on something I put together! All of my dreams are coming true.]

Super Happy Fun Interesting 100th Post Extravaganza!

Lanterns

It’s a banner day here at SUF Headquarters (SUFHQ, by the way, is the dining chair in front of my laptop where I sit in my underwear, watch Mad Men, and type blog posts: titillating insider scoop!). According to my obsessive checking and WordPress’ slavish record-keeping, this is my 100th post at Stupid Ugly Foreigner. Fun has been had. Lessons learned. Tears shed. Weird, writhing things eaten. Alcohol consumed, and in turn, memories poorly reconstructed for the reading public. I graduated teacher’s college, road-tripped across Canada, moved to Korea, travelled around Asia some, did a 4-day dash back to Canada, and met exactly 8-bazillion and three people. Let us celebrate this momentous occasion in true SUF style: through neuroticism, humorous tidbits of life in Korea, and gimmicky photography from my travels! I can feel your excitement radiating through my computer like the warmth of the sun. Let’s go!

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Housecleaning in the Echo Chamber

Hello, gentle readers. I know that you are out there, funneling words from my fingertips directly into your own eyeballs, and I am flattered that people go on reading this blog on a regular basis. But sometimes, I run out of things to say. Despite living in another country and daily experiencing weird things beyond my previous imaginings, I find nothing is humorous or bizarre enough to preserve in splendorous internet amber. I wither and my fingers twitch over a sullen, silent keyboard as I try to figure out what the hell to talk to you guys about.

Now is not one of those times, mind you (I’ve got like six posts gestating on my flash drive), but it’s happened before. It will happen again. To insulate myself against the ensuing panic when I can’t think of what to write, I bring thee this: Ask Me Anything. A place where you, the viewer, can express your deepest, innermost queries about me and my life, as I know these issues consume your very spirit even as we speak. Ask me about life, Korea, and teaching, or just tell me how much you love and worship/loathe and despise me and everything I put to words. (Or, do it by email! stupiduglyforeigner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Onward, internet soldiers.

A Year (or Sixish Months) in Blogging

As someone who finds statistics and charts  inherently soothing, I was pleased that WordPress inundated me with regular updates on the hit counts of my blog in bar graph form, helpfully detailing from whence each hit came. During the long periods of desk-warming, periodic checks of blog functioning have been a staple in by boredom-combat diet. It was thus that I was exceptionally pleased to receive an email wrapping up my year (or sixish months, since I started Stupid Ugly Foreigner late in July of 2010) in glorious charts and summaries. It’s raw numbers are meaningless as I have no point comparison, and its conclusion that my blog health reads “Wow!” seems spurious and arbitrary at best, and yet, I still let out a childish squeal of excitement. That some website, upon which I rely to spread my useless yammering, thinks I’m doing a tip-top job is satisfying in a vague and incomprehensible way. After the jump, see what WordPress.com has to say about my stats.

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Guy and Sheep: Why WordPress Search Terms is Amazing

A real post is coming later today about teaching and pedagogy (aren’t you excited?), but in the interim, I have this. On the WordPress dashboard, you can see fairly comprehensive graphs of the statistics for your blog: number of visits, pages viewed, referrers, linkbacks, all the good stuff. My favourite is search terms: it displays what search terms brought views to your blog. The most amazing ones that brought people to Stupid Ugly Foreigner are below. (And also, by putting them in this post again, I only invite more strange internet wanderers stumbling upon my site in their nomadic quests for out-of-the-way erotica, but if you’re Googling some of the following things,  you’re probably asking to be thrown off course occasionally .)

 

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