AKA: William George
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/
Oompah Tweedle Toot on Flickr.
High school band performing at a late summer festival outside of Miyakonojo Station, Japan. That summer saw an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in the farms of Miyazaki-ken. In order to combat it, traffic coming in and out of the district were forced to pass through a chemical tire wash, all places that saw many people come and go (such as malls) had their entrances had something similar across the entrances to their parking lots. As well, all summer festivals were cancelled. A huge disappointment, for sure. Since the summer festival is pretty much the highlight of the year in Japan. But their efforts saw the disease taken care of by September, so the city (or maybe the local merchants association?) quickly put together a much smaller event in front of the train station. Local bands, high school clubs, and a few other acts. Not a bad event for a last minute sort of thing, all said and done. And with it so late in the season not a drop of rain fell, unlike every other year when it was held at the tail end of the rainy season. I have been made aware that there are some events here and there through the calendar here in Gunsan. Nothing kind of cool and groovy like a Japanese summer festival as far as I know. Lots of big showy things like theatre festivals and a marathon. Once I get a new camera I’ll have to make the scene.

Oompah Tweedle Toot on Flickr.

High school band performing at a late summer festival outside of Miyakonojo Station, Japan.

That summer saw an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in the farms of Miyazaki-ken. In order to combat it, traffic coming in and out of the district were forced to pass through a chemical tire wash, all places that saw many people come and go (such as malls) had their entrances had something similar across the entrances to their parking lots. As well, all summer festivals were cancelled.

A huge disappointment, for sure. Since the summer festival is pretty much the highlight of the year in Japan. But their efforts saw the disease taken care of by September, so the city (or maybe the local merchants association?) quickly put together a much smaller event in front of the train station. Local bands, high school clubs, and a few other acts. Not a bad event for a last minute sort of thing, all said and done. And with it so late in the season not a drop of rain fell, unlike every other year when it was held at the tail end of the rainy season.

I have been made aware that there are some events here and there through the calendar here in Gunsan. Nothing kind of cool and groovy like a Japanese summer festival as far as I know. Lots of big showy things like theatre festivals and a marathon. Once I get a new camera I’ll have to make the scene.

may082011 on Flickr.
My theory: Old folks wake up early because, when they were young parents, “before the kids wake up” was the only time of the day they had to themselves. This photo was taken with the Olympus Pen EE2 during one of those periods at a friend’s home. Speaking of friends, my old pal Jayavant has made a habit of posting photos he took a decade ago in Korea. While he made the transition to back home (amazing what you can do when you have a desired skill set) and I’m still here slinging English, these images were from around the time we met. Korea hasn’t changed a bit since that time. All the cities still look the same. The housing too. The only real difference that I can tell is the massive influx of coffee houses on every corner now. I don’t have any photos from a decade ago. [Insert rant about how you must double back-up your image files here] The above is the best I can do and this is from 2011. For all intents and purposes it might as well be from a decade ago. Or two for that matter. As much as I’d love to get back in Japan, realistically I’m deep in that undesirable age bracket for work there and the odds are pretty damned long.  I really shouldn’t be here in Korea for that matter, saggy old fucker that I am. Score one for being willing to live in a small city while your betters fill up Seoul and Busan.

may082011 on Flickr.

My theory: Old folks wake up early because, when they were young parents, “before the kids wake up” was the only time of the day they had to themselves. This photo was taken with the Olympus Pen EE2 during one of those periods at a friend’s home.

Speaking of friends, my old pal Jayavant has made a habit of posting photos he took a decade ago in Korea. While he made the transition to back home (amazing what you can do when you have a desired skill set) and I’m still here slinging English, these images were from around the time we met. Korea hasn’t changed a bit since that time. All the cities still look the same. The housing too. The only real difference that I can tell is the massive influx of coffee houses on every corner now.

I don’t have any photos from a decade ago. [Insert rant about how you must double back-up your image files here] The above is the best I can do and this is from 2011. For all intents and purposes it might as well be from a decade ago. Or two for that matter. As much as I’d love to get back in Japan, realistically I’m deep in that undesirable age bracket for work there and the odds are pretty damned long.

I really shouldn’t be here in Korea for that matter, saggy old fucker that I am. Score one for being willing to live in a small city while your betters fill up Seoul and Busan.

Lost at Sea on Flickr.
This was on the Yoyogi Park side of Harajuku Station in Tokyo.  The last time I had experienced a crowd that thick was in Seoul’s Dongdaemun shopping area when they had closed off half the sidewalks, forcing the massive crowd into a bottleneck between the department stores and the subway station. No such excuse here. Everyone was simply making the scene that day and we got caught up in it. A fellow in a full cowboy outfit glared me. I can only assume that it was because my Australian cowboy hat looked a lot cooler than his American one.

Lost at Sea on Flickr.

This was on the Yoyogi Park side of Harajuku Station in Tokyo.

The last time I had experienced a crowd that thick was in Seoul’s Dongdaemun shopping area when they had closed off half the sidewalks, forcing the massive crowd into a bottleneck between the department stores and the subway station. No such excuse here. Everyone was simply making the scene that day and we got caught up in it.

A fellow in a full cowboy outfit glared me. I can only assume that it was because my Australian cowboy hat looked a lot cooler than his American one.

It’s been a year now…

It’s been a year now…

Yup. Japan is a year in my rear-view mirror today.

I had shut the door to no-longer-my apartment the week previous to that and headed to Tokyo to enjoy what I assumed was my last hurrah there. Turned out that the constant pain in my chest that forced me to head home for English language medical help was just a Hiatal Hernia. Could have been worse.

My bike path in Miyakonojo. Then the summer temperatures there lit me on fire and I stopped.

My bike path in Miyakonojo. Then the summer…

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shot44 on Flickr.
For the first four months of my time in Japan, I would pass through this parking lot on my way to the PC Cafe to get my weekly internetting done. I got internet at home at the same time I got a bicycle. I would still pass though this parking lot, just on my way to getting lost somewhere. Shot with an Instax Mini. Scan of a print.

shot44 on Flickr.

For the first four months of my time in Japan, I would pass through this parking lot on my way to the PC Cafe to get my weekly internetting done. I got internet at home at the same time I got a bicycle. I would still pass though this parking lot, just on my way to getting lost somewhere.

Shot with an Instax Mini. Scan of a print.

I’m also listening to Weezer a lot again. Korea reminds me of Weezer.

I’m also listening to Weezer a lot again. Korea reminds me of Weezer.

In the time between leaving and returning to Korea, I was living in this little place called “Nihon”. The kewl kids called “Nippon” but I don’t because it sounds a lot like “nipple” and I look far too much like a sitcom landlord to risk those sorts of wacky hijinks.

If you’re a lifer in Korea, you’re already preparing your rebuttals to anything I may say along to lines of, “It’s a lot better…

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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.

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.

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…