Monday, June 28, 2010

Whatever. Just write.

About an hour ago, I started this blog post. I was distracted by everything - chats, emails and tweets. Oh, and a phone call. Then I had to make a call.

My browser crashed so I started typing on Notepad - just to keep the momentum going. When my browser started up again, I copied & pasted the above into a blog post. And here I am. Finally.

[Here's hoping I'll be able to hit "Publish Post" before my eyes want to close.]

For the past (however many) weeks, I have had a mental list of things I've needed and wanted to blog about. They're all sitting unwritten in my mind. As the semester winds down, work has been busy. For those who think that "teaching kids can't be that hard", I have no words for you! If I'm not in the classroom, I'm in the office sitting at my desk, with the aircon blasting ice cold air on the back of my neck, as I prepare lessons, research, write reports and whatnot.

Something else has been taking up my time during the evenings. Just a little something called the 2010 FIFA World Cup, hosted in South Africa. Truth be told, I don't usually follow football, so I just stick to cheering and giving a "whoop whoop" when a goal is scored by the team I'm supporting for that match. Even living seven time zones away in South Korea has not stopped me from rejoicing, cheering and expressing heartache with friends in South Africa - and other parts of the world. This includes matches at 03:30!

My sleep has been erratic, but I keep reminding myself that I can't let my blog gather cobwebs. I wish I could be one of those people that write about things as they happen - or even just an hour after. I don't want to say that "I wish there were more hours in a day" because that would make me feel like I suck at time management. But I do get tired. Tired of sitting at my desk. So tired that I just want to close my eyes. And sleep.

Tonight, I thought about why all the sentences are floating around in my mind. As witty and thoughtful as they are (in my mind) why can't I get myself to write [type] and just get it all out?

I've come to this conclusion:

I'm trying too hard to be "perfect" - in the sense of being grammatically correct and having zero spelling errors. Including the horrid little ones that spell check (or my eyes at 02:47) doesn't pick up (but my mother's eagle eye does - thanks, mummy!)

A few days ago, I thought about my blog.
  • What makes me think I'm so special that I should have a blog?
  • This blog celebrates its 5th birthday in September. That's a lot of blog posts. Do I really talk that much?!
  • Does anyone "listen" when I "talk"?

  • Why do I have a blog & bother maintaining it? Why?
Some people spend time collecting memorabilia, photographs, letters, movie stubs, concert tickets and such which they compile into a scrapbook. A few years ago, I was interested in taking scrapbooking up as a hobby, but I don't think I had the patience, time and energy to commit to it. And scrapbooking is a commitment!

People also keep journals where they write about their feelings, emotions, daily events ...things like that.

I think my blog is a combination of these two things. While many blogs have a particular theme or subject (teaching, movies, fashion, politics etc) my blog is just a mixture of anything and everything. Whatever I'm in the mood for on a particular day at a particular time.

While journals are typically private, my blog is public. Instead of sending mass e-mails to family and friends around the world about everything I get up to in South Korea, I maintain this blog for them to simply log on, read (if they want to), browse through my photographs and leave - at their leisure. If no one wants to do that, that's also fine. I mainly blog to archive my life. Because, yes - I do think that I do some pretty exciting things that I would like to remember in a few years time, like clicking on my Egypt travelogue and giggling at my proposal under the stars on a cruise deck!

I have visitors from New Jersey to New Delhi. Who are these people? Are they interested in my life? I don't exactly know why (or how) they arrived at my "humble cyber abode" or what the duration of their stay was, but I'm always honoured when someone takes the time to comment on something I've written.

I've said before that my life is an open book. I've written about a variety of topics - some that spring to mind: "Why I will stop giving gifts", "Saying 'I'll pay' is like a sickness", "Frustrations of being a foreign teacher in Korea" and others.

Men and women of different ages from various walks of life have e-mailed me about posts where I have been brutally honest, like my account of having a panic attack a few months ago during a staff dinner.

I think I'm rambling now, but to bring it all back and wrap it up with a big red bow, what I'm saying is that: I need to stop thinking that my blog posts need to have a beginning, middle and conclusion.

Many people can't fathom when I tell them that my English has deteriorated over the past couple of years of being in South Korea. I teach English at an elementary school, so my everyday language consists of "How's the weather today?" to "Are you hungry?" to "What time is it?"

Too simple.
There's really nothing Einstein about them.

I know that my sentences have become a lot shorter. My brother brings this to my attention every time we chat. I think it makes me sound abrupt, which I swear I'm not. It's just that I feel I can get my point across in a few words rather than adding unnecessary blah blah blah's to make it more complex - kinda like what I'm doing to this sentence right now, if you have noticed!

OK so from now on, if I have something to say, I'm just going to go ahead and say it. Even if I find myself at a loss for words...who cares? I just need to get typing and the words will come, I'm sure!'s my blog, and I'll blab if I want to :-)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Michael Jackson - 1 Year Later

Last year on this day, I wrote a blog post: Michael Jackson is no more - a sad day for the world.

Michael Jackson passed away on June 25 2009.

I can't believe it's been a year. I remember waking up and doing my usual morning routine of checking emails and tweets. For the next hour, I was scanning news sites and was on the phone to my mother & brother in South Africa about the breaking news that The King of Pop was reportedly dead.

Remembering Michael Jackson, the legendary King of Pop on this day.

Vuvuzela Explained

Click to enlarge:

Via Mashable

2010 Worldcup: Moses Mabhida Stadium (Durban)

Thanks to Yogita for sending this
(Pic by Hugan)

Is the vuvuzela too noisy for the universe?

From K-Times:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

South Korea: Will World Cup players be exempt from military duty?

By Kang Shin-who
Staff reporter (K-Times)

Whenever Korean athletes make outstanding performances at international sports events, a sensitive issue surfaces: the exemption of players from completing mandatory military service.

Right after the South Korean football team secured their ticket to the round of 16 at the South African World Cup, the chief of the football organization said he plans to propose the government to revive the exemption of the players from military duty.

Cho Chung-yun, chief of the Korea Football Association, said, "What the players want is to be exempted from their military duties."

His remark is causing a fresh round of disputes on the Internet.

In Korea, all able-bodied men over 20 are required to serve in the military for about two years under the country's conscription system. Olympic medalists and gold medalists from the Asian Games have been exempted from the national service.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do-Re-Mi by Cute 3rd Grader boy

While my 3rd graders were doing a worksheet today, I passed by one boy who was singing something while colouring in. I couldn't make out the tune so I leaned down to listen properly. I asked him if he'd sing again for me, and he agreed. My heart just melted...doesn't yours?! :)

Replay your Day!

Every night before you fall asleep, replay in your mind the good moments of the day, and give heartfelt thanks for each one of them. Think about the next day also, and intend that it is going to be amazing, that it is going to be filled with love and joy, and that all good is coming to you. Intend that it is going to be the best day of your life. Then when you wake in the morning, BEFORE you get out of bed, declare your intentions again for the day and give deep thanks as though you have received them all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Africa Football Shoe

From Korea Times

Seinfeld on Blackberry / iPhone

Thanks to Jason for this :-)

Turn it Up by T.O.P

Presenting to you, T.O.P's (of Big Bang fame) latest single.

As I told my friend, Nicki (who sent me the link to this music video) T.O.P's sex appeal lies in his eyes. How else can one explain that even sitting in a chair, covered from head to toe and surrounded by sexy women, he is still sexy? Nicki says, "he has the whole attitude going for him, he has that vibe, it's more confidence" Watch the video and you decide :)

'Chocolate' Sharpener

My students have such cute & creative items of stationery. This is the latest one I've seen - a pencil sharpener that looks like a block of chocolate :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Importance of Punctuation!

Thanks to Sherry-Anne for this!

Happy Father's Day!

For all the dads of the world, especially mine, here's a poem by one of my all-time favourite poets, Helen Steiner Rice. It sums up my thoughts and feelings about my father.

Fathers are Wonderful People

Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should...

For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills... 

And Father struggles daily
To live up to "HIS IMAGE"
As protector and provider
And "hero or the scrimmage"...

And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,

But if you look inside Dad's heart,
Where no one else can see
You'll find he's sentimental
And as "soft" as he can be...

But he's so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife...

But Fathers are just WONDERFUL
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolade of praise,

For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness...

He's a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on

Happy Father's Day, Daddy! I miss you, love you & look forward to seeing you soon! Thank you for everything you do. It is always immensely appreciated.


Vuvuzela on Korean classroom timer?!

Even the animated Korean teacher on our classroom timer
looks like she's blowing a vuvuzela!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

WC 2010 - Hite behind 'em!

Korean beer, Hite celebrates the 2010 FIFA World Cup with these colourful labels.

Dried Anchovies - Delicious?

This is a popular snack in Korea, especially with alcohol.
(I've never had it)

WC 2010 - The Fresh Kick

2010 World Cup mint tins from Watsons

Mama Afrika's Pata Pata

Since the 2010 World Cup Kick Off Concert with Hugh Masekela & Lira's performance of Miriam Makeba's Pata Pata, I have been crazy about the song. Here's the lady herself performing the song (I'm not sure where)

My 4D Experience

How to Train Your Dragon ~ 4D

Picture this: You're watching a movie. The opening scene is of a sea. Would you you feel sea sick watching it? Probably not. What if your seat was rocking back and forth and swerving to the left and right according to the camera angles?

What if you actually felt the water spray on your face?!

Now imagine this: The scene is in a forest. The camera pans over green grass, tall trees and flowers. Would you think you're going crazy if suddenly you're able to smell the grass and flowers?!

This is the future of cinema.

This, my 4D!

On Tuesday, June 1 I watched How to Train Your Dragon in 4D at Times Square in Seoul. My friend, Sarah and I thought the most that would happen would be that our seats moved. Before the movie started, a CGV staff member announced that it was advisable not to eat or drink during the movie as the seats would rock.

As the as lights dimmed, Sarah said to me - "Please don't scream!" but as it turns out, she was shrieking more than me! It was an incredibly cinematic experience and definitely worth the money (double the price of a regular movie ticket).

We think the scents come from the back of the seats

Viva Bafana Bafana Viva!

Ok, granted I don't usually follow soccer, but the FIFA 2010 World Cup is extra special as the host country is South Africa.

For the past three years, I've lived in South Korea and my love and patriotism for my country has definitely increased over the years.

Since last week Thursday, June 10 when I (virtually) attended the Kick Off Concert, I have pulled all-nighters - gone to work, meetings and tried to maintain a somewhat balanced lifestyle as I straddled two timezones (South Africa and South Korea).

On Friday night when I watched the kick off match with hundreds...thousands of fans across the world (online), my heart skipped a beat when Bafana Bafana scored a goal in the first match of the 2010 World Cup - on African soil.

Cameras panned over the colourful crowds cheering, dancing, singing, hugging each other as they waved their flags high with pride. I remember tweeting LADUUUMA! (pronounced la-doo-mah... it's a popular South African cheer to celebrate goals at soccer matches) I also sent texts to my parents and brother in South Africa expressing my joy. The electric energy flowing from the bottom of the African continent was contagious, regardless of timezones.

The online community was buzzing, especially of tweets with labels #BafanaBafana. For my non-South African readers, Bafana Bafana means "the boys the boys".  People talked about the team as their own children. "Come on, can do it" It was quite endearing. When Siphiwe Tshabalala scored a goal in the first match against Mexico on Friday, June 11, South Africans were all praises for him. I felt super proud to be part of a nation coming together like that.

On Wednesday, June 16 (Youth Day in South Africa) I went to bed at 10pm - probably the earliest I've slept all week, just so that I could wake up in time to catch the South Africa vs Uruguay match.

At 03:30, the game started and I had butterflies in my stomach as I watched and half chatted to friends across the world - from South Africa to Germany to Switzerland.

When I heard the Korean commentators shout GOAL! My eyes darted to the TV...who? Who? WHO?

It was Uruguay.

Uruguay 1 South Africa 0.

My heart beat a little faster and I didn't know what to expect. Friends told me, "It's still early in the game, don't give up."

An hour and a half later, the final score was Uruguay 3 South Africa 0.

There were shots on TV of people leaving the stadium before the match was over. People were looking disgraced, sad and angry.

Why were they leaving the stadium?

To me, that was an embarrassment. All eyes are currently on South Africa. People are judging us in every aspect and being the host nation, what do you think they're thinking of people leaving when the game was not even over? It's a disgrace.

And then the online community started their rage. Some said they wanted to cry. I was one of them. I really felt sad. I was surprised at my own feelings, but this is the power of solidarity across the ocean and continents.

Other netizens hailed the day as "the day the vuvuzela fell silent"

Getting ready for work on Thursday morning, I got to thinking about all the comments I read online.

The only comment I know I said was that I felt like crying, but I never hammered the team or its players on their performance.

Granted, only loyal soccer fans will understand how fair the games are or how well the players played, but this is what I maintain:

Parents support their children in sports (and other things) no matter what. Even if they know their little boy or girl is slower than others or not that good, they sit on the sidelines and cheer. When they don't make it, do you see mothers/fathers driving away angry that they children played badly? Do they simply not speak to them?

No! They continue to support their children and encourage them to better themselves next time.

Many South Africans have declared that they will still be die-hard Bafana Bafana supporters, but I was really disappointed to see that others have failed miserably to support their nations team.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is sex correlated with World Cup Football?

By Kim Tae-gyu, Park Si-soo from K-Times

For naysayers, here is an interesting statistic.

On the Saturday night of Korea's convincing victory over Greece in their opening match of the 2010 South Africa World Cup, convenience stores recorded a jump in condom sales.

It may be thanks largely to the raging hormones of hundreds of thousands of young people braving the rain in rooting for their team outdoors across the nation. Perhaps, it may need two more victories from Korea to see a firm correlation between the two.

GS25, a convenience store subsidiary of GS Group, said Monday that its outlets had sold about 5,000 condoms on Saturday, a five-fold increase from four years ago during the Germany World Cup.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Enjoy World Cup in good health

By Bae Ji-sook from K-Times

I'm going to have to adhere to many of these. I can already feel it taking a toll on me!

The Word Cup craze is soon to once again sweep the nation and even more people are eager to show their support for the South Korean football squad.

However, because of the time difference between Korea and South Africa, people will have to stay up late at night and might become agitated the next day especially after stuffing themselves with alcohol and snacks.

Doctors at Samsung Medical Center have shared tips on how to enjoy the World Cup matches and the accompanying sleepless nights without too much damage to the body.

Korean drums give vuvuzela a good run

I just came across this article from Daily Dispatch
Pic from The Herald
FORGET about the sound of the vuvuzela – the Korean drum has proven to be a force to be reckoned with.

The friendly city of Port Elizabeth came alive at the weekend when more than 31 000 fans converged on the Nelson Mandela Stadium to watch South Korea outwit former European champions Greece, winning an enthralling match 2-0.

This, after more than 20000 people went through the gates of the host city fan park at St Georges , to witness Bafana Bafana’s enthralling 1-1 draw with Mexico on Friday afternoon.

The stadium itself was a sight to behold with the drum-beating Korean supporters – nicknamed the Red Devils – proving they would be more than a match for South Africa’s vuvuzela-blowing faithful.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup 2010 Cartoon on N + S Korea

From Korea Times

World Cup 2010 Twitter additions

Twitter has introduced two great features for its users to join in the celebrations of the 2010 FIFA World Cup being held in South Africa.  It has created a Twitter World Cup site which tracks tweets relating to specific countries, matches and anything World-Cup related.

Secondly, to liven up and colour tweets, simply add a hash tag (#) before the first three letters of a country's name and its flag (hash flag) will display on tweets when updated.

The full list of hash flags are:

Algeria #alg - Argentina #arg - Australia #aus - Brazil #bra - Chile #chil - Cote d'lvoire: civ - Cameroon #cmr - Denmark #den - England #eng - Spain #esp - France #fra - Germany #ger - Ghana #gha - Greece #gre - Honduras #hon - Italy #ita - Japan #jpn - Korea Republic #kor - Mexico #mex - Netherlands #ned - Nigeria #nga - New Zealand #nzl - Paraguay #par - Portugal #por - Korea DPR (North Korea) #prk - South Africa #rsa - Serbia #srb - Switzerland: #sui - Slovakia #svk - Slovenia #svn - Uruguay #uru - United States of America #usa World Cup #worldcup will display a little soccer ball.

World Cup 2010 Opening Ceremony

After pulling an all-nighter from the previous night, I only got home from work around 9pm, just in time to catch the FIFA 2010 World Cup Opening Ceremony. Seeing South Africa on Korean TV, knowing that the entire world was watching my country.

President Jacob Zuma delivered a message of apology from former president, Nelson Mandela who couldn't attend the event because of the tragedy that hit his family the previous night. His great-granddaughter, Zenani Mandela died in a car accident on her way home from the Kick Off Concert the previous night.

The first match was South Africa vs Mexico (1-1)

World Cup 2010 Kick Off Concert

On Thursday, June 10 2010, South Africa was gearing up for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick Off Concert at 8pm that evening. I got home pretty late and at about 02:30 I was ready for bed. Many friends in South Africa were at Orlando Stadium in Soweto (Johannesburg). I wasn't really tired, but had to get to bed when a few friends sent me messages saying "Stay awake!" Others said "It's a once in a lifetime experience" and "It will be worth it". So I did! Watching the live stream on, the energy of the crowd was simply infectious.

Artists who performed were: Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo, Amadou & Mariam, Black Eyed Peas, Blk Jks, Freshly Ground, Hugh Masekela, John Legend, Juanes, K'Naan, Mzansi Youth Choir, Shakira, Soweto Gospel Choir, The Parlotones, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Toure, Vusi Mahlasela.

(All pics are screen shots from the live stream on Vevo)

Jazz icon, Hugh Masekela - affectionately known as "Bra Hugh" on the Twittersphere performed "Grazing in the Grass" followed by the late Miriam Makeba's song, "Pata Pata" featuring the gorgeous multi-award winner, Lira.

FIFA President Sebb Blatter and South African President Jacob Zuma walked on stage hand in hand as the crowd cheered.

Sebb Blatter: Football is not only a game. Football connects people.

President Zuma thanked everyone for attending the concert as well as FIFA for giving South Africa the opportunity to hold this special event - for the first time on South African soil.

"I would like specially to thank South Africans for having received our visitors so warmly.
I want to thank you and also ask you to show this warmness for the whole duration of the tournament until they leave South Africa
," he said.

Africa is hosting this tournament.
South Africa is a stage
South Africa is rocking. It’s cool.

The Black Eyed Peas disappointed greatly. I still don't know why their opening song was "Where is the Love". Dressed in some kind of military-themed / space cadet costumes, they sounded tired, bored and uninspired as they belted through a medley of their hits, including "Pump It", "Meet me Halfway", "Boom Boom Pow" and "I gotta feeling" which (kind of) got the crowd in the mood for the music talent that set the stage on fire for the rest of the evening. There was a lot of criticism on their performances, especially for Fergie...some bluntly saying that "She can't sing."

Mali's Amadou and Mariam took the stage with "Welcome to Mali" and "Africa".

FIFA is supporting a cause: 1 Goal - Education for All

Angelique Kidjo (feat Soweto Gospel Choir) took my breath away with "Malaika/Africa" She was joined by John Legend who then sang some of his popular numbers.

Out of all the performances, I went crazy for Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was "adorable" personified!

He walked on to stage looking excited like a child on Christmas morning.

"Fantastic. Just fantastic. Can you feel it?" he said.
"You can touch it. Welkom to ons land, Suid Afrika. Ke Nako."

"The Arch" - as he was affectionately called on Twitter, sang the praises of former president Nelson Mandela.

"We have to pay a wonderful tribute to whom we owe all of this. He is in Johannesburg and if we make a loud enough noise, he will hear us and so we say - Halala Nelson Mandela. Viva Madiba."

The Arch was visibly bursting with energy. "I'm dreaming man. I'm dreaming. Wake me up. Oh what a lovely dream. Ya ya ya ya."

"We are the world. We welcome all...for Africa is the cradle of humanity. So we welcome you home. All of you. All of you. Germans, French, every single one of you. We are all Africans."

"...and we want to say to the world: Thank you for helping this ugly ugly ugly worm - caterpillar - which we were to become a beautiful beautiful butterfly. We are a beautiful beautiful butterfly."

Alicia Keys looked beautiful and lit the stage up with her presence as she sang a medley of her hits, including: "You don't know my name", "Sleeping with a broken heart" and "Falling" before she sang "Empire State of Mind (Part 2)"

"Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
Hear it for New York.
Tonight we're in Jo'burg
There's nothing you can't do when you're in Africa.
Hear it for World Cup, World Cup, World Cup."

She reminded the audience not to "forget to love each other" before she introduced BLK JKS on stage. The crowd went crazy when the group & Alicia broken into "Too late for mama" - a tribute to the late Brenda Fassie

K'Naan got the audience waving a sea of colourful flags as he sang "Wavin flags"

Big Nuz & Tira gave the global audience a taste of local music with "Umlilo"

The Parlotones also impressed with their performance

The show stopper was definitely Shakira. She opened with "She Wolf", followed by "Hips Don't Lie" before she erupted into the official World Cup song, "This Time for Africa" feat South African group, Freshly Ground - who joined her in the second half of the song. The energy was electrifying and I still get goosebumps watching the video.

The finale was "Everyday People" by all the artists