AKA: William George
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/
Fire Starter on Flickr.
One of the best partner teachers a guy could have setting sparklers alight one summer night. Pentax MX. I’m about to write about Korea in a less than adoring way. Cover your eyes if you have posters of Sistar all over your walls and the thought of kimchi makes you go weak at the knees. I really don’t like having the foreign teacher flying solo here. The preferred method is to have the foreign teacher standing up in front of a bunch of kids blabbering away in a language they simply don’t understand. Then the next day the Korean teacher is supposed to go over all of it again, this time bringing much needed translation.  The theory is that this is immersion learning. It’s not. True immersion requires the new language surround the student. The parents must speak the language. The teachers must speak the language. The signs must be in the language. The TV and radio as well. Korean kids are not in an immersion learning environment. They get English from a native speaker forty five minutes a day. Everything else they learn comes with Korean helping the learning process along. Having the lesson solely in English is a hindrance outside of classes with advanced students. It slows understanding down. The student may not get the answers they need to questions such as, “What they fuck is this asshole telling me to do?” for a day or even more. This is a bad way to go about it and it should not be done. My job in Japan had a Japanese teacher in the classroom teaching with me at the same time. We helped each other. We stood back and let each other display their expertise, and helped each other in our weaknesses. If the students didn’t understand something like, “Close your book” …even with my slow speech and brilliant miming… they could ask the Japanese teacher what that meant. Then they never had to ask again because those words now had meaning and weren’t just a collection of meaningless sounds to be tossed into their mental trashcan. They also didn’t have to suffer from the embarrassment of me invading their personal space and shutting their books for them like they were simpletons just to get the idea across. Then we were able to get on to the learning and the boss wasn’t wasting money having me stand there for an hour just to have the Japanese teacher do it all over again the next day. Now, I’m not an ESL-teaching noob. I know that foreign teachers here are essentially expensive, imported dancing poodles. We’re advertising. But if I became the king of Korea, one of the many changes I’d make is to have the Korean teach and the foreign teacher up there in front of the kids together, every day. Working as the team they’re supposed to be. The lady in the above image was a pro at it.

Fire Starter on Flickr.

One of the best partner teachers a guy could have setting sparklers alight one summer night. Pentax MX.

I’m about to write about Korea in a less than adoring way. Cover your eyes if you have posters of Sistar all over your walls and the thought of kimchi makes you go weak at the knees.

I really don’t like having the foreign teacher flying solo here. The preferred method is to have the foreign teacher standing up in front of a bunch of kids blabbering away in a language they simply don’t understand. Then the next day the Korean teacher is supposed to go over all of it again, this time bringing much needed translation.

The theory is that this is immersion learning. It’s not. True immersion requires the new language surround the student. The parents must speak the language. The teachers must speak the language. The signs must be in the language. The TV and radio as well. Korean kids are not in an immersion learning environment. They get English from a native speaker forty five minutes a day. Everything else they learn comes with Korean helping the learning process along. Having the lesson solely in English is a hindrance outside of classes with advanced students. It slows understanding down. The student may not get the answers they need to questions such as, “What they fuck is this asshole telling me to do?” for a day or even more. This is a bad way to go about it and it should not be done.

My job in Japan had a Japanese teacher in the classroom teaching with me at the same time. We helped each other. We stood back and let each other display their expertise, and helped each other in our weaknesses. If the students didn’t understand something like, “Close your book” …even with my slow speech and brilliant miming… they could ask the Japanese teacher what that meant. Then they never had to ask again because those words now had meaning and weren’t just a collection of meaningless sounds to be tossed into their mental trashcan. They also didn’t have to suffer from the embarrassment of me invading their personal space and shutting their books for them like they were simpletons just to get the idea across. Then we were able to get on to the learning and the boss wasn’t wasting money having me stand there for an hour just to have the Japanese teacher do it all over again the next day.

Now, I’m not an ESL-teaching noob. I know that foreign teachers here are essentially expensive, imported dancing poodles. We’re advertising. But if I became the king of Korea, one of the many changes I’d make is to have the Korean teach and the foreign teacher up there in front of the kids together, every day. Working as the team they’re supposed to be.

The lady in the above image was a pro at it.

Your opinions are needed.

Guys, I like using Tumblr, I really do. But I’ve been realizing that the audience here prefers short posts and longer than a paragraph doesn’t gain nearly as much attention as a, “Here’s a photo. Asian people are in it.” write up.

So I was thinking of leaving it as just a photo display site like Flickr and migrating my wordy bloviating to Wordpress or something similar.

Your thoughts?

Fur Suit Riot on Flickr.
This is another one of those images where I feel that any cleaning will ruin it. Olympus Pen EE2. It’s been a year and one week since I finished my job in Japan. All that was left for me to do after that was enjoying my final April there before returning home to find out what went wrong with my insides. If things had worked out better for me in the end, I probably would have left earlier. But my boss, who had asked me to stay until May, suddenly told me my replacement would be there on April first. This threw everything into disarray. Not only had I been budgeting for May (leaving me short on money), may lease required me to give them a month’s notice for cancellation or they’d take the month’s rent out of my account whether I was there or not. So I decided to stay and try my best to memorize Miyakonojo as best I could before it became nothing but some old photos. I feel the statute of limitations on posting the images I took on the job there has passed now and I will be poking around in those archives for images to post up in the next few weeks. The above was a coworker who had been forced into the fur mascot costume to wave at children while I fended off teenaged boys who wanted to knock the head off for the lulz.

Fur Suit Riot on Flickr.

This is another one of those images where I feel that any cleaning will ruin it. Olympus Pen EE2.

It’s been a year and one week since I finished my job in Japan. All that was left for me to do after that was enjoying my final April there before returning home to find out what went wrong with my insides. If things had worked out better for me in the end, I probably would have left earlier. But my boss, who had asked me to stay until May, suddenly told me my replacement would be there on April first. This threw everything into disarray. Not only had I been budgeting for May (leaving me short on money), may lease required me to give them a month’s notice for cancellation or they’d take the month’s rent out of my account whether I was there or not. So I decided to stay and try my best to memorize Miyakonojo as best I could before it became nothing but some old photos.

I feel the statute of limitations on posting the images I took on the job there has passed now and I will be poking around in those archives for images to post up in the next few weeks. The above was a coworker who had been forced into the fur mascot costume to wave at children while I fended off teenaged boys who wanted to knock the head off for the lulz.

Laughs Out Loud on Flickr.
My process. Step by step. Step one: Put on headphones and crank up the music. Crank down the music when I remember that I’m old and prone to rocking-out-related injuries. Step two: Open FastStone image viewer. You may use whatever image-viewing program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation even though it reads pretty much every file format out there including the douchebaggy proprietary RAW formats camera manufacturers still make for some reason. Step three: Go through every single photo for the two hundredth time, looking for an image I have yet to feature. Give images I’ve skipped another look. The subject might suck, but the background might not. That’s why this image got to you today. She was missed because she was lost in the crowd shot that I took at Yanaka Ginza in Tokyo with my Olympus Pen E-p3. Now she is not.  Step four: Crack open GIMP and fiddle with some basic adjustments until I find it acceptable. You may use whatever image manipulation program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation though it does pretty much everything you could want and since it’s free you don’t need to pirate it unlike certain very expensive image manipulation programs that shall remain nameless. Step five: Open up the copy of Word that came bundled with the computer, and think about what I want to say about the image and whatever else is on my mind at the time. Correct all of the typos. Step six: Do all of the boring uploading/ linking/ tagging internet stuff. Steps seven through one hundred: Edit and re-edit the post every hour because spellcheck is not a replacement for an editor and can’t tell you when you’re writing correctly-spelled nonsense. Step one hundred and one: Refresh repeatedly for Likes until bedtime.

Laughs Out Loud on Flickr.

My process. Step by step.

Step one: Put on headphones and crank up the music. Crank down the music when I remember that I’m old and prone to rocking-out-related injuries.

Step two: Open FastStone image viewer. You may use whatever image-viewing program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation even though it reads pretty much every file format out there including the douchebaggy proprietary RAW formats camera manufacturers still make for some reason.

Step three: Go through every single photo for the two hundredth time, looking for an image I have yet to feature. Give images I’ve skipped another look. The subject might suck, but the background might not. That’s why this image got to you today. She was missed because she was lost in the crowd shot that I took at Yanaka Ginza in Tokyo with my Olympus Pen E-p3. Now she is not.

Step four: Crack open GIMP and fiddle with some basic adjustments until I find it acceptable. You may use whatever image manipulation program you enjoy and should not take this as a recommendation though it does pretty much everything you could want and since it’s free you don’t need to pirate it unlike certain very expensive image manipulation programs that shall remain nameless.

Step five: Open up the copy of Word that came bundled with the computer, and think about what I want to say about the image and whatever else is on my mind at the time. Correct all of the typos.

Step six: Do all of the boring uploading/ linking/ tagging internet stuff.

Steps seven through one hundred: Edit and re-edit the post every hour because spellcheck is not a replacement for an editor and can’t tell you when you’re writing correctly-spelled nonsense.

Step one hundred and one: Refresh repeatedly for Likes until bedtime.

abstfo on Flickr.
Eastern shore, Nova Scotia. Pentax KX.  This actually is properly exposed. The fog really does get that thick on Nova Scotia’s eastern shore. The crappy scanning by the developer just adds to the abstract look. I don’t think the image would be as nearly as interesting if the scan was laser sharp though I could be wrong. You know, I don’t know why people hate film grain. That’s like saying you hate having spaceships in Star Trek, or bad writing in Star Wars. I can understand it from people who have only ever used the over-saturated sharpness of the digital camera. Film grain looks a lot like sensor noise from the right angle. But that remaining handful of madmen who still use film? Might as well switch to digital because that’s what you really want.

abstfo on Flickr.

Eastern shore, Nova Scotia. Pentax KX.

This actually is properly exposed. The fog really does get that thick on Nova Scotia’s eastern shore. The crappy scanning by the developer just adds to the abstract look. I don’t think the image would be as nearly as interesting if the scan was laser sharp though I could be wrong.

You know, I don’t know why people hate film grain. That’s like saying you hate having spaceships in Star Trek, or bad writing in Star Wars. I can understand it from people who have only ever used the over-saturated sharpness of the digital camera. Film grain looks a lot like sensor noise from the right angle. But that remaining handful of madmen who still use film? Might as well switch to digital because that’s what you really want.

Big Booming Beats on Flickr.
Working the drums at Miyakonojo’s summer festival. Pentax MX. One thing I’ll miss due to no longer being in Japan is going to the summer festivals. They’re always good fun. I recently had an opportunity to submit some of my Korean photos to an art show. I declined for a few reasons. One was that my old Korean photos aren’t my best work and I think I’ve grown a lot since 2007. They just don’t represent me anymore. An other is that their image requirements skews towards people with high-end DSLRs/ film scanners, and people who can afford Photoshop… I know, “Who pays for Photoshop?”… While personally I do have plenty of images that fit the bill, none of my remaining Korean images do since most of them were scraped from an old Flickr account and cheap CDs that came with the prints. If they made allowances for diptychs or quadtychs I would have been golden.
That’s too bad for me, but whatever. What bothers me about it is that their requirements shut out anyone using a phone camera, small point and shoot camera, or don’t have the gear to scan at home and get it done at the mall. I don’t think they were intentionally being elitist with their requirements but elitism among photography types is like water to a fish: They don’t notice it because it’s omnipresent.  If the camera gets you the image you want then it’s a good camera. A Leica M9, iPhone 5, and a Diana F+ are equals and don’t let anyone shame you into thinking otherwise. Anyway, investigating all of this stuff made me realize that I’m a huge hypocrite: I hate HDR images in general. I’m fine with Instagram filters. Both are equally fake yet I’m picking and choosing. Wotta jerkass I am.

Big Booming Beats on Flickr.

Working the drums at Miyakonojo’s summer festival. Pentax MX. One thing I’ll miss due to no longer being in Japan is going to the summer festivals. They’re always good fun.

I recently had an opportunity to submit some of my Korean photos to an art show. I declined for a few reasons. One was that my old Korean photos aren’t my best work and I think I’ve grown a lot since 2007. They just don’t represent me anymore. An other is that their image requirements skews towards people with high-end DSLRs/ film scanners, and people who can afford Photoshop… I know, “Who pays for Photoshop?”… While personally I do have plenty of images that fit the bill, none of my remaining Korean images do since most of them were scraped from an old Flickr account and cheap CDs that came with the prints. If they made allowances for diptychs or quadtychs I would have been golden.

That’s too bad for me, but whatever. What bothers me about it is that their requirements shut out anyone using a phone camera, small point and shoot camera, or don’t have the gear to scan at home and get it done at the mall. I don’t think they were intentionally being elitist with their requirements but elitism among photography types is like water to a fish: They don’t notice it because it’s omnipresent.

If the camera gets you the image you want then it’s a good camera. A Leica M9, iPhone 5, and a Diana F+ are equals and don’t let anyone shame you into thinking otherwise.

Anyway, investigating all of this stuff made me realize that I’m a huge hypocrite: I hate HDR images in general. I’m fine with Instagram filters. Both are equally fake yet I’m picking and choosing. Wotta jerkass I am.

A left-handed six string on Flickr.
This image isn’t reversed. It’s my left-handed brothers left-handed guitar. Mamiya c220f, expired film. While I will pick up an instrument and bang on it for a bit when I come across it, I’m long over my youthful desire to be a rock god. You just get to a point in your life when you just accept that being competent at music is something you will never achieve without more work than it’s worth. Then you move on to something more your speed like pointing a box with a hole in at things. No, music and other arts are nothing like photography. You have to work at those. Any chimp can become competent at photography. Photography is just applied math. That’s why your camera can take decent shots all by itself. The art comes in the stuff around the photo: Building sets. Setting up models. Turning the models into grotesque mockeries of human beings in Photoshop. Selling your art school horseshit to the gallery owners and potential buyers. Hiding your bad photos deep in the back of your closet. Hell, even making comics is more skill intensive and cartoonists are the laziest people on Earth. (Did I drive away any followers yet?)

A left-handed six string on Flickr.

This image isn’t reversed. It’s my left-handed brothers left-handed guitar. Mamiya c220f, expired film.

While I will pick up an instrument and bang on it for a bit when I come across it, I’m long over my youthful desire to be a rock god. You just get to a point in your life when you just accept that being competent at music is something you will never achieve without more work than it’s worth. Then you move on to something more your speed like pointing a box with a hole in at things.

No, music and other arts are nothing like photography. You have to work at those. Any chimp can become competent at photography. Photography is just applied math. That’s why your camera can take decent shots all by itself. The art comes in the stuff around the photo: Building sets. Setting up models. Turning the models into grotesque mockeries of human beings in Photoshop. Selling your art school horseshit to the gallery owners and potential buyers. Hiding your bad photos deep in the back of your closet.

Hell, even making comics is more skill intensive and cartoonists are the laziest people on Earth.

(Did I drive away any followers yet?)

At Rest on Flickr.
Fellow taking a rest at Wenxin Forest Park in Taichung. There was no forest there so I assume the name is in honour of the forest they cut down to put the park in. Mamiya C220f. I view Taiwan as a place of mental healing. I went there after my final job (until now) in Korea. See, the boss decided that the best way to deal with declining enrollment wasn’t better advertising, it was making the staff fearful and paranoid for their jobs. And when the Korean staff are fearful and paranoid for their jobs they start to take it out on the foreign staff in a lot of small, petty ways. The most common way is undermining their authority with the kids by basically never supporting them in disciplinary needs nor helping the kids and the foreign teachers reach an understanding of what they expect from each other. The other common way is to simply blame the foreign teacher for everything much in the same way we do with foreigners. Add on top of that a foreign staff of bare-balled children fresh from university who still think high school style cliques are something to strive for and you get a pretty toxic office atmosphere. And me? I’m not great at dealing with stressful people in the first place. I take what I see as a swing at my head as permission to go nuclear on their asses. Which I did. My romantic relationships were also a mess, as was my relationship with comics and the disingenuous people who make and read them. All this ugliness came out in the classroom. A thing I am not proud of. I like to think I’m a different man from then. But to be sure I strive to reduce my exposure to any and all things I know will take me to the ugly place. And that’s why I’m not making comics anymore nor am I hanging out with you and your gang on Saturday night.

At Rest on Flickr.

Fellow taking a rest at Wenxin Forest Park in Taichung. There was no forest there so I assume the name is in honour of the forest they cut down to put the park in. Mamiya C220f.

I view Taiwan as a place of mental healing. I went there after my final job (until now) in Korea. See, the boss decided that the best way to deal with declining enrollment wasn’t better advertising, it was making the staff fearful and paranoid for their jobs. And when the Korean staff are fearful and paranoid for their jobs they start to take it out on the foreign staff in a lot of small, petty ways. The most common way is undermining their authority with the kids by basically never supporting them in disciplinary needs nor helping the kids and the foreign teachers reach an understanding of what they expect from each other. The other common way is to simply blame the foreign teacher for everything much in the same way we do with foreigners.

Add on top of that a foreign staff of bare-balled children fresh from university who still think high school style cliques are something to strive for and you get a pretty toxic office atmosphere. And me? I’m not great at dealing with stressful people in the first place. I take what I see as a swing at my head as permission to go nuclear on their asses. Which I did. My romantic relationships were also a mess, as was my relationship with comics and the disingenuous people who make and read them. All this ugliness came out in the classroom. A thing I am not proud of.

I like to think I’m a different man from then. But to be sure I strive to reduce my exposure to any and all things I know will take me to the ugly place.

And that’s why I’m not making comics anymore nor am I hanging out with you and your gang on Saturday night.

bandstand on Flickr.
Local waiting for the band that will never arrive at the Halifax Public Gardens. Olympus E-P1. I’ll be starting at a second school next week. This week has been filled up with trying to get the materials I need to do my job properly. It’s hard to prepare for a lesson when you don’t know what the lesson is. Hopefully that will get sorted sooner rather than later.

bandstand on Flickr.

Local waiting for the band that will never arrive at the Halifax Public Gardens. Olympus E-P1.

I’ll be starting at a second school next week. This week has been filled up with trying to get the materials I need to do my job properly. It’s hard to prepare for a lesson when you don’t know what the lesson is. Hopefully that will get sorted sooner rather than later.

Brelly on Flickr.
One of my new students showing off her stylish umbrella before heading out. Pentax KX. Scan of a print. I’m going to have to look in other parts of Gunsan, but film seems limited to Fujicolor C200 and the vastly over-priced Instax line. In limited amounts. Having to wait a week for my developing to be sent off to Seoul isn’t too bad given how much cheaper it is compared to Canada. Not compared to Japan though. Japan is half of what it costs in Korea. A third of Canada. It’s almost like they want me to buy a new DSLR or something. Which, when I do so, will probably be a Pentax to go with my collection of lenses.

Brelly on Flickr.

One of my new students showing off her stylish umbrella before heading out. Pentax KX. Scan of a print.

I’m going to have to look in other parts of Gunsan, but film seems limited to Fujicolor C200 and the vastly over-priced Instax line. In limited amounts. Having to wait a week for my developing to be sent off to Seoul isn’t too bad given how much cheaper it is compared to Canada.

Not compared to Japan though. Japan is half of what it costs in Korea. A third of Canada. It’s almost like they want me to buy a new DSLR or something. Which, when I do so, will probably be a Pentax to go with my collection of lenses.

selfie club on Flickr.
Here’s some color to break up my sea of grey. Some selfies being taken with Glico-Man in Osaka. Olympus Pen E-P3. Meanwhile, here in Gunsan, I keep getting these bright ideas to visit old haunts like Seoul or Cheonan just to see what has changed. Then I keep looking at my bank account and doing some math about how long I can make that last and in the end the idea gets pushed to the back burner.
The same thing happens when the tasty, tasty odor of grilled meat wafts through my windows from the BBQ restaurant district my apartment has been cruelly placed in the middle of. Tasty, tasty grilled meat on the back burner…

selfie club on Flickr.

Here’s some color to break up my sea of grey. Some selfies being taken with Glico-Man in Osaka. Olympus Pen E-P3.

Meanwhile, here in Gunsan, I keep getting these bright ideas to visit old haunts like Seoul or Cheonan just to see what has changed. Then I keep looking at my bank account and doing some math about how long I can make that last and in the end the idea gets pushed to the back burner.

The same thing happens when the tasty, tasty odor of grilled meat wafts through my windows from the BBQ restaurant district my apartment has been cruelly placed in the middle of.

Tasty, tasty grilled meat on the back burner…

Mr. Oblivious on Flickr.
Young fellow ignoring the sights at Shibuya in favor of his stupid smartphone. Canon 550D/t2i/Kiss X4. There is one fellow I follow on Flickr who is pretty good at capturing interesting images of people with their nose stuck in their phones but I’ve never been able to make it work to my satisfaction. Of course, he seems more willing to just stick his camera wherever he wants than I am (Curse my polite Canadian upbringing!) so that probably explains why he gets the shot more often than I do. Though it could be because I keep trying to tell a story instead of just grabbing a moment and letting it make its own story. Or maybe I just need to start swinging my camera from its strap or something. I really should head out tonight and try to get some practice in, but damn, that wind is cold…

Mr. Oblivious on Flickr.

Young fellow ignoring the sights at Shibuya in favor of his stupid smartphone. Canon 550D/t2i/Kiss X4.

There is one fellow I follow on Flickr who is pretty good at capturing interesting images of people with their nose stuck in their phones but I’ve never been able to make it work to my satisfaction. Of course, he seems more willing to just stick his camera wherever he wants than I am (Curse my polite Canadian upbringing!) so that probably explains why he gets the shot more often than I do. Though it could be because I keep trying to tell a story instead of just grabbing a moment and letting it make its own story. Or maybe I just need to start swinging my camera from its strap or something.

I really should head out tonight and try to get some practice in, but damn, that wind is cold…