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.

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…

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…

Late Night Tomfoolery on Flickr.
I don’t have a single karaoke photo that’s in focus. In-focus would mean that it wasn’t a very good time at karaoke so this is as it should be. Pentax MX? This is an old friend from Japan showing me that she’d be the best model a photographer could have. I never thought to ask her to do so for many reasons. Not having the gear and assistants needed to make it worth everyone’s time being one of the main ones. Even simple glamour shots need a fair bit of work which is why I’m a documenter instead of an image constructor.
Not that I would have a model leaning on a car in a short skirt or something. I’d probably just have them hanging out in front of something like a shop or fishing boat in order to get a human aspect to the subject. It may seem like a waste of a model to some, but everyone tries to copy fashion magazines. Boring. But pointing into a crowd and hoping you capture strangers doing something interesting is more miss than hit. At least for me. I like to think that having a willing model could help you get a nice balance between both approaches. Maybe one day.

Late Night Tomfoolery on Flickr.

I don’t have a single karaoke photo that’s in focus. In-focus would mean that it wasn’t a very good time at karaoke so this is as it should be. Pentax MX?

This is an old friend from Japan showing me that she’d be the best model a photographer could have. I never thought to ask her to do so for many reasons. Not having the gear and assistants needed to make it worth everyone’s time being one of the main ones. Even simple glamour shots need a fair bit of work which is why I’m a documenter instead of an image constructor.

Not that I would have a model leaning on a car in a short skirt or something. I’d probably just have them hanging out in front of something like a shop or fishing boat in order to get a human aspect to the subject. It may seem like a waste of a model to some, but everyone tries to copy fashion magazines. Boring. But pointing into a crowd and hoping you capture strangers doing something interesting is more miss than hit. At least for me.

I like to think that having a willing model could help you get a nice balance between both approaches. Maybe one day.

the lady and the bear on Flickr.
I think this was at an event featuring some Tarento in Kagoshima. Shot with a Pentax MX. You who care to click all the way through to the original image may notice that it’s slightly smaller than my usual 1400 pixel wide images. This is because I grabbed this photo from a folder called “Done Shots”. That’s where I dump images that have been uploaded to various blogs and sites like Flickr. It’s also where a lot of my images that were lost in The Great Crash of 2013 can be found. Just in reduced size. While this one is big enough that I could probably get a decent print out of it, most of the others aren’t. And while those are big enough for blogging purposes, the small size means it’s impossible for me to work on them anymore. They are at the end of their use as images. I cannot crop them down or do some ‘shopping with them without rendering them an illegible mess. That is tragic to me. Like a friend that’s no longer alive.
Say it with me now: "Make multiple backups!"

the lady and the bear on Flickr.

I think this was at an event featuring some Tarento in Kagoshima. Shot with a Pentax MX.

You who care to click all the way through to the original image may notice that it’s slightly smaller than my usual 1400 pixel wide images. This is because I grabbed this photo from a folder called “Done Shots”. That’s where I dump images that have been uploaded to various blogs and sites like Flickr. It’s also where a lot of my images that were lost in The Great Crash of 2013 can be found. Just in reduced size.

While this one is big enough that I could probably get a decent print out of it, most of the others aren’t. And while those are big enough for blogging purposes, the small size means it’s impossible for me to work on them anymore. They are at the end of their use as images. I cannot crop them down or do some ‘shopping with them without rendering them an illegible mess. That is tragic to me. Like a friend that’s no longer alive.

Say it with me now: "Make multiple backups!"

One Sunday in Osaka on Flickr.
Fellow tourists at Doutonbori in Osaka. Shot with an Olympus Pen E-P3. Yesterday I sent my first film of this jaunt to Korea off to be developed. The local shop in the LotteMart only does digital prints like I was expecting and they had to mail it off to Seoul. My guess is that they send it to Photopia since they seem to be the only place that does it now… Though there may be something I’m missing on that page that says “No film!” I did find a shop up the street with a big yellow Kodak sign on the wall. However there are no posted hours. Just a phone number which suggests to me a business that’s open when the owner feels like coming in. I’ll have to try and catch them some day to see if they can save me from being a fool with an antique.

One Sunday in Osaka on Flickr.

Fellow tourists at Doutonbori in Osaka. Shot with an Olympus Pen E-P3.

Yesterday I sent my first film of this jaunt to Korea off to be developed. The local shop in the LotteMart only does digital prints like I was expecting and they had to mail it off to Seoul. My guess is that they send it to Photopia since they seem to be the only place that does it now… Though there may be something I’m missing on that page that says “No film!” I did find a shop up the street with a big yellow Kodak sign on the wall. However there are no posted hours. Just a phone number which suggests to me a business that’s open when the owner feels like coming in.

I’ll have to try and catch them some day to see if they can save me from being a fool with an antique.

Showtime on Flickr.
Moves being busted in Miyazaki. Olympus Pen E-P3. I’ve yet to come across anything like this in Gunsan. I mean, sure, I’ve been in Korea again for a total of a week. I can’t expect to find much in such a short time. Poking around what little information is available online about the place suggests that I’m living well south of the heart of the city so once I’m more mobile (Say, after buying a bike) I’ll put in more effort to get up there and see what’s up. I hiked about six kilometers around the area today and so far I’ve discovered the following: To the south of me are farms. To the east are seas of skyscraper apartment complexes. To the west is a section of town that looks like it boomed in the 90s before falling into a slow decay. I ran across a couple of very aggressive beggars there who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. They did accept “Fuck off”, however. They didn’t push it past that which goes to show that being generally larger than the locals has its advantages. Regardless I have no plans to go back into that neighborhood. Just the remaining 95% of the place to go.

Showtime on Flickr.

Moves being busted in Miyazaki. Olympus Pen E-P3.

I’ve yet to come across anything like this in Gunsan. I mean, sure, I’ve been in Korea again for a total of a week. I can’t expect to find much in such a short time. Poking around what little information is available online about the place suggests that I’m living well south of the heart of the city so once I’m more mobile (Say, after buying a bike) I’ll put in more effort to get up there and see what’s up.

I hiked about six kilometers around the area today and so far I’ve discovered the following: To the south of me are farms. To the east are seas of skyscraper apartment complexes. To the west is a section of town that looks like it boomed in the 90s before falling into a slow decay. I ran across a couple of very aggressive beggars there who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. They did accept “Fuck off”, however. They didn’t push it past that which goes to show that being generally larger than the locals has its advantages. Regardless I have no plans to go back into that neighborhood.

Just the remaining 95% of the place to go.

mkjnights on Flickr.
Summer festival crowds in Miyakonojo. Shot with a Canon 550D or whatever it was marketed as in your area. I’m probably weeks away from being able to post up interesting photos of Gunsan so it’s more of my Japanese images for you for the next while. It might even be closer a month or two since I’m on a pretty tight budget and I haven’t been able to find a place that does developing aside from a kiosk in the local Lottemart. Teach me to fly with the film camera instead of the digital because I felt my big chrome brick would be too expensive to have shipped later on. I don’t look forward to having the “It’s a C-41 film, so it’s okay to feed into your machine even if you haven’t seen the brand before. Just develop it.”, conversation in Korean.

mkjnights on Flickr.

Summer festival crowds in Miyakonojo. Shot with a Canon 550D or whatever it was marketed as in your area.

I’m probably weeks away from being able to post up interesting photos of Gunsan so it’s more of my Japanese images for you for the next while. It might even be closer a month or two since I’m on a pretty tight budget and I haven’t been able to find a place that does developing aside from a kiosk in the local Lottemart. Teach me to fly with the film camera instead of the digital because I felt my big chrome brick would be too expensive to have shipped later on.

I don’t look forward to having the “It’s a C-41 film, so it’s okay to feed into your machine even if you haven’t seen the brand before. Just develop it.”, conversation in Korean.

big blue world on Flickr.IIRC, this is looking towards Mt. Tara from across Omura Bay in Kyushu. Shot with a Canon 550D.
While I’m happily equipped with internet here in my new Korean apartment I’ve been too busy with the new job, as well as dealing with the jet lag, to post much up. There’s also the fact that I haven’t been in Gunsan long enough to get the lay of the land as far as interesting (to me) photography goes. There does seem to be the same problem I had in Miyakonojo: All cars and no feet. That is, everyone is driving and no one is walking about who isn’t a minor. The area I’m in is a new area and I’m a bit of a distance from the traditional gathering areas of the city so that may account for it. I’ll try and find out this weekend.
Assuming the job doesn’t wipe me out in the first week.

big blue world on Flickr.

IIRC, this is looking towards Mt. Tara from across Omura Bay in Kyushu. Shot with a Canon 550D.

While I’m happily equipped with internet here in my new Korean apartment I’ve been too busy with the new job, as well as dealing with the jet lag, to post much up. There’s also the fact that I haven’t been in Gunsan long enough to get the lay of the land as far as interesting (to me) photography goes. There does seem to be the same problem I had in Miyakonojo: All cars and no feet. That is, everyone is driving and no one is walking about who isn’t a minor. The area I’m in is a new area and I’m a bit of a distance from the traditional gathering areas of the city so that may account for it. I’ll try and find out this weekend.

Assuming the job doesn’t wipe me out in the first week.

lamp study two on Flickr.
Another study of my little light in Japan. Shot with a Pentax MX. I thought it appropriate to use this again since I’m now in Korea counting my pennies until my first pay day. There are benefits to the once a month payment method such as it being easier to make a budget and having it coincide with the bills coming in. But those first couple of months at a job can be tight and you inevitably have to get an advance on your next paycheck in order to make it through. This puts you at a disadvantage for another month. Thankfully, the apartment comes with free internet so I’m starting off on a good foot and not getting sick from the grubby keyboards at the PC Bang.

lamp study two on Flickr.

Another study of my little light in Japan. Shot with a Pentax MX.

I thought it appropriate to use this again since I’m now in Korea counting my pennies until my first pay day. There are benefits to the once a month payment method such as it being easier to make a budget and having it coincide with the bills coming in. But those first couple of months at a job can be tight and you inevitably have to get an advance on your next paycheck in order to make it through. This puts you at a disadvantage for another month.

Thankfully, the apartment comes with free internet so I’m starting off on a good foot and not getting sick from the grubby keyboards at the PC Bang.

Take your momma out on Flickr.Mamiya C220f. Two ladies exploring an international festival in Kagoshima’s Tenmonkandori area.
International festivals were always great ways to discover how isolated expats tend to be from each other unless they’re living in foreigner ghettos like Haebongchong in Seoul or Roppongi in Tokyo. You get there and, “Where did all these people come from? I mean aside from different countries.” crosses your mind. “Man, I really am out there in the boonies!” quickly scurries after it while giving your mind a sheepish grin.
Isolation is something that you will have to deal with as an expat unless you have particularly lax standards for the people you spend your time with. Even if you don’t you do have to make allowances for personalities and traits that may set your teeth on edge in normal circumstances. This is very true if you’re someone who is uncomfortable with their own company. I view “Comfortable with your own company” to be one of the most important traits to have when you embark on The Path Of The Expat simply due to the bad company you inevitably find yourself with when the idea of doing anything by yourself is frightening.

Take your momma out on Flickr.

Mamiya C220f. Two ladies exploring an international festival in Kagoshima’s Tenmonkandori area.

International festivals were always great ways to discover how isolated expats tend to be from each other unless they’re living in foreigner ghettos like Haebongchong in Seoul or Roppongi in Tokyo. You get there and, “Where did all these people come from? I mean aside from different countries.” crosses your mind. “Man, I really am out there in the boonies!” quickly scurries after it while giving your mind a sheepish grin.

Isolation is something that you will have to deal with as an expat unless you have particularly lax standards for the people you spend your time with. Even if you don’t you do have to make allowances for personalities and traits that may set your teeth on edge in normal circumstances. This is very true if you’re someone who is uncomfortable with their own company. I view “Comfortable with your own company” to be one of the most important traits to have when you embark on The Path Of The Expat simply due to the bad company you inevitably find yourself with when the idea of doing anything by yourself is frightening.