Archive for March, 2015

FBI CBC = pain in the ass

Getting a criminal background check is a pain in the ass, and without my dad helping me out with mailing it would be even more of a pain (thanks Dad!).

I’m posting this mainly so I can refer back to it later. The FBI phone number for checking the status of a criminal background check is (304) 625-2000 (I got it from this guy).

The first time I did this, it took a long time. This most recent one is taking even longer. The FBI got my fingerprints around December 3 and now, my dad tells me, he just got them back on March 27. In other words, it took them FOUR MONTHS to process and return the prints. Next step is the apostille. Luckily I didn’t need the background check when I thought I would, so I’ll have it for August when I’ll almost certainly be needing it.

Also for future reference…

Form FD-258 is the fingerprint card. I printed it here in Korea since they probably don’t want one that is written in Korean, and I just took it to a police station with a “CSI” department and they fingerprinted me for free! It was easy. The Naperville police department charged me something like $20 for fingerprinting.

Form I-783 is needed for requesting the background check.

Form DS-4194 is for the apostille

The links above will probably be dead at some point because the FBI seems to feel the need to constantly move shit around, so here are the forms I saved to Google Drive:

FD-258 (fingerprint card)
I-783 (CBC request)
DS-4194 (apostille request)

Update: Today is April 15 (April 14 in America) and my dad says he got the apostilled CBC back. That was surprisingly fast. So four months for the criminal background check and a little over two weeks for the apostille. Add in mailing time to and from Korea and altogether it comes to about six months to get the whole thing done.

posted by Michael in Whatever on 3/29/2015 | Comments (3)

Week 3 homework

My class on teaching writing is kind of silly. The homework is sort of challenging, but the classroom exercises seem designed to help the mostly-Korean students improve their own writing skills, so the professor is, in effect, teaching showing us how to teach. I guess the idea is sound, but for the three or four native English speakers in the class it’s laughably easy.

Teaching Writing: Writing Assignment 3 – Letter of Complaint. We were supposed to write a fictional letter of complaint to someone so I went with the Nigerian prince who failed to make me a millionaire. Also, I just now figured out that my $3.3 million share isn’t 20% of the fake money involved. Good thing I’m not a math teacher.

March 24, 2015

His Royal Highness Prince Abu Salami
Noble Defender and Great Steward of Nigeria
1600 Royal Nigerian Way
Lagos, Nigeria

Your Royal Highness,

I am writing to you in reference to a mutual agreement between your son, Mr. Tahmi Salami, and myself, a US citizen residing in Seoul, South Korea. On January 1, 2015, your son and Royal Finance Advisor, Mr. Salami, informed me via email that Your Royal Highness was seeking an overseas partner to assist in releasing US$31.5 million in royal tribute funds that were being held by the National Bank of Nigeria and that my assistance was desperately needed.

Because, as Mr. Salami explained, the release of the funds required the assistance of an overseas trustee as mandated by Nigerian banking laws, I would be entitled to 20% of said funds in return for my cooperation (US$3.3 million). He assured me that I would receive my portion of the funds within 10 business days of wiring the US$5,000 bank processing fee to your royal bank account. I wired those funds on January 2, 2015 yet, despite dozens of attempts to contact him, I have not heard from Mr. Salami since.

Your Royal Highness Prince Salami, Noble Defender and Great Steward of Nigeria, please forgive my insolence but I should have received my $3.3 million long ago. This transaction has dragged on for far too long and I hereby request that Your Royal Highness transfer my share of the funds immediately to my U.S. bank account. Please hurry. Your honor as a Nigerian prince is at stake.

Humbly Yours,


Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 3/29/2015 | No Comments

First homework for Teaching Writing

1. Read a book (200+ pages) and write an essay focusing on one or two chapters that were somehow interesting or something

2. Answer a couple of questions based on reading an 11 page chapter

Waaaayyy less work than my brain class. Except we also have to write in this online journal thing every day of the week (except weekends). That’s gonna be a chore, but at least we’re only expected to write a paragraph or so, and it’s very casual. No academic nonsense with all that citing of references and whatnot.

Here’s #1:

The Subtle Significance of Hedging

In my short and not-quite-yet illustrious career as an educator, I have taught precisely one class on academic writing. It was, to put it mildly, challenging. The textbook was designed in the most intimidating way imaginable with long, complex passages interspersed with word charts and sidebars and bullet lists and all manner of distractions that culminated in a universal sense of fear and loathing on the part of my students each time the class bell rang. Unlike most other classes at the English academy where I teach, this particular class was not tied to a rigid schedule where X number of pages were required to be completed on X date. Hence, I seized this opportunity to toss most of the book aside and attempt to teach academic writing in a way that I thought would be more effective and, indeed, more palatable to the seven young writers seated before me. Suffice it to say that, while I (and the entire class) was relieved at the removal of the book’s unforgiving structure, I quickly found out how difficult it is to teach others to write within the stiffly starched confines of EAP. I struggled to produce lessons that were clear and focused and I also found great difficulty with teaching my students how to use the proper tone that academic writing demands. Reid and her counterparts touch on the importance and subtlety of tone in several chapters of Writing Myths (2008), but Ken Hyland’s chapter on the myth of making academic writing “assertive and certain” (p. 70) struck a chord with me in particular. The notion of hedging rarely ever crosses the fringes of my mind as a writer and, now that I see its versatility of purpose and how directly it can affect the tone of a written passage, I feel that I have gained something useful that I can research further and pass on to future academic writing classes. Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 3/12/2015 | No Comments

My first homework assignments for Human Learning and Cognition

1. Read a 400+ page book and write an essay about it that answers the professor’s five questions (this was assigned before class began)

2. Answer five more questions based on reading two other chapters from other authors.

The good news is that my Teaching Writing class is a lot less work (so far… it’s only Week 2).

Here’s #1:

Winter Reading Project: A User’s Guide to the Brain

Despite medical and technological advances that have greatly advanced the study of the brain in recent decades, what we know about how it functions still pales in comparison to what is unknown. To attempt to understand an organ that has “more possible ways to connect…neurons than there are atoms in the universe” (Ratey, 2001, p. 26) is a tall order indeed, and attempting to explain brain function in lay terms, as Ratey has done in A User’s Guide to the Brain, could arguably be viewed as an equally herculean task.

As the human brain is “the most complex system known to science” (Ratey, 2001, p. 397), Ratey chooses to frame its function and development within two core metaphors, the first being that, “like a set of muscles, it responds to use and disuse by either growing and remaining vital or decaying” (p. 11). Ratey applies this metaphor to the brain in several ways; he begins by explaining that the very structure of our brains can be changed through experiences, thoughts, actions, and emotions, and that “by viewing the brain as a muscle that can be weakened or strengthened” we can take an active role in choosing who we become (p. 24). He goes on to support his “use it or lose it” (p. 56) view of brain development in the story of Martha Curtis, the musical virtuoso who maintained her mastery of the violin even after surrendering 20 percent of her right temporal lobe to surgeries aimed at putting a stop to her severe epileptic seizures. Ratey concludes this story of triumph by asserting that our memories, like Martha’s memory of her violin skills, can be strengthened with exercise, “just as weight-training strengthens our muscles” (p. 213).

Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 3/12/2015 | No Comments