Some of my students


Daniel, Lisa, Paul, Hyoseo


Apple, Eileen/Aileen, Andy, Jason


Minsoo, Brian, Lacey, Sua


Flora, Jinseo, Stephanie, Victoria


posted by Michael in Whatever on 4/12/2015 | No Comments

Week 5 homework

I already posted my Easter thing so this is just a bunch of questions from the reading for both Teaching Writing and Brain Class (Human Cognition and Learning).

Brain class. I kind of punted on the last three questions. I really should hold off on cracking open the celebratory beer until I’m actually done with homework. 

Terry (2006) Chapter 7, Human Memory: Conceptual Approaches
1. What is Dual-Store Theory and how does it explain memory?
The Dual-Store Theory states that memory is divided into short- and long-term memory, and each of these types of memory exhibit different traits. Short-term memory, as indicated by its name, is very brief and is limited in capacity. Once an item or series of items have been stored in STM, they may be displaced by additional items that follow, such as when attempting to remember a string of numbers or words. LTM does not suffer from these shortcomings and has no discernible limits on storage capacity or length of recall. For example, it would be difficult for another person to remember this string of numbers: 71839111402569103070. I, on the other hand, stored these numbers years ago in my long-term memory as the respective birthdates of my father, mother, sister, and brother. STM and LTM may be separate in the way they function, but STM does serve the purpose of encoding information into LTM (Terry, 2006, p. 196-197). Glanzer & Cunitz (1966, as cited on p. 197) also found that the primacy effect was enhanced when words were presented at a slower pace, allowing for more rehearsals in STM which led to better LTM encoding. Terry also noted that the recency effect of the serial position curve disappears over time but the primacy effect remains (p. 197). Most teachers are probably already aware that delivering lessons slowly is more conducive to learning than speeding through them, but Glanzer & Cunitz’s study serves as a reminder that pace can be an important factor in the classroom.

Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/10/2015 | No Comments

I don’t think she got the joke

In my Teaching Writing class I have to participate in this message board thing that the whole class does. One of the students complained that her refrigerator is making a high-pitched noise and asked for advice on how to stop it.

Her: Since I moved other town last week, I annoyed with noise of my refrigerator. It sounds high frequency and I cannot help hearing this sound. Is there anyone know about this sound? How can I do? For now, I stand this sound and try to ignore the sound. But it’s too hard to ignore the noise..!

Me: Your ears gradually lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds as you get older. This is why old men can’t hear their wives, but they can hear other men just fine. If you live in that apartment long enough, the high frequency sound will eventually go away! It might take 30 years, but it will happen. Just be patient.

Her: Really?? I didn’t konw that ever! THanks for your advice~~!

Me: Ummm… you’re welcome? haha 🙂

I know. I’m hilarious.

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/7/2015 | No Comments

Week 4 homework

We didn’t have writing class last week, so this thing I wrote about Easter is due this week. I just finished it, so I’ll post it now because, um, it’s Easter Sunday. The assignment was to use internet sources to put together an account of how Easter started. Now that I look back at the written description of the assignment I’m not sure if I was supposed to copy and paste from other websites or write it myself… oh well. Fuck it. I wrote it myself, and if the professor has a problem with that then tough shit! I’ve been kicking ass in that class (it’s pretty easy) so if I get dinged on this then so be it. I’m not doing this again.


The Surprisingly Pagan Origins of Easter

Easter Sunday is one of the most important religious holidays on the Christian calendar and, every spring, Bible School teachers around the world dutifully explain to their young pupils how Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and was resurrected three days later. Special emphasis is placed on Christ’s rebirth as being the true reason for celebrating the Easter holiday. What the Bible School teachers don’t explain, however, is how this holiday came to be known as “Easter” and how the holiday has evolved into a time-honored tradition of filling baskets with candy and brightly colored eggs that have ostensibly been delivered by a mythical egg-laying rabbit.

While there is much debate over the origins of the word “Easter” it is interesting to note that the word is all but absent from the Bible. The King James version of the Bible, for instance, mentions Easter by name only once and many other versions omit the word entirely (Aust, n.d.). Most authorities on the subject, including Christians themselves, acknowledge that the naming of the Easter holiday originated from paganism. A widely accepted theory is that Easter’s etymology is derived from Eastre, the Teutonic Goddess of Spring, while there is also evidence to suggest that the name comes from a Babylonian Queen named Semiramis, also known as Queen Ishtar. The association is due to “Ishtar” being a homophone of “Easter” (, n.d.). Other sources claim that the Easter name is the product of an Anglo-Saxon “goddess of the dawn” named Eostre (D’Costa, 2013). Regardless of which version is most accurate, the fact that Easter predates Jesus Christ’s crucifixion (Aust, n.d.) is fairly convincing evidence that it originally had little to do with Christianity. Read more…

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/5/2015 | No Comments

It’s like grade school all over again

This is how my brain class professor grades our work.

posted by Michael in Back to School on 4/2/2015 | Comment (1)

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

Some of my kindergarten students

Dancing to Youtube videos at the end of class

posted by Michael in Whatever on 2/8/2015 | No Comments

Well this should be fun

Phase two of Plan Z is in effect. After getting rejected last year I applied again to the MA program and this time I’m in.

I’m not at all surprised that there’s homework due on the very first day of class, but it looks like that homework entails reading two books “in (their) entirety” and then writing an essay about each. Yaaayyy. Time to start skimming! I’m told that’s pretty much the only way to survive Sookmyung’s MA TESOL program.

posted by Michael in Back to School on 2/2/2015 | No Comments

The delicate tastebuds of Korean ladies

Came across this on Reddit. I also found a video of Americans eating Korean snacks but it’s not quite as entertaining.

posted by Michael in Whatever on 1/19/2015 | No Comments

Hmm it kind of looks like us…

This is what happens when I wander around Itaewon with Terry after a few too many beers.

I spotted this guy sitting in front of the Hamilton Hotel with his easel and decided it was worth $30 to see what he could do. Terry and I sat for probably 30-40 minutes before he was finished, and I’m pretty sure it would have taken a little longer if he hadn’t had to pee really bad. Actually, he and I both had to go, so I was glad he finished when he did.

And what’s up with the way Koreans write numbers? The date should be “10/5” but it somehow looks like 10/9 which, the way some Koreans write their nines, could be mistaken for 10/P.

Anyway, I think the guy did ok. He drew a younger, more chiseled me. I’ll take it. Not sure how Terry feels about his portrait, though. If Terry could talk, he’d probably complain that he doesn’t look vicious enough.

posted by Michael in Walking Terry on 10/13/2014 | Comment (1)

Korean girls don’t have asses…

…and I’m totally ok with that

posted by Michael in Music Videos on 7/17/2014 | No Comments

I am Try-Lingual… I try to speak Korean and get blank stares in return

So yeah, I’m studying Korean these days. It’s mostly because every day at work I eat lunch by myself. Believe it or not, this is by choice. My co-workers aren’t bad people, but I want nothing to do with most of them! We work together. We’re not lunch buddies. (If you look closely, you can almost watch me transform into a more and more antisocial jerk with each passing day.) Point being, lunchtime is a good time to whip out the iPad and run through some flash cards. Even studying for just 10-15 minutes makes a huge difference.

My recent studying kick is also tied to the fact that there’s a free two-hour Korean class every Saturday from 3-5 pm, and it takes me less than 10 minutes to walk there at a leisurely pace. And remember, I live right behind the campus of Sookmyung Women’s University. Wink wink. What I’m trying to say is, the teachers are all women. That’s what “wink wink” means. I’d honestly still go to class every Saturday if the teachers were all dudes (hey it’s free) but they’re not and I have no complaints.

So back to the point: I’m studying Korean. Up until very recently I was attending yet another free Korean class (at a nearby community center on Thursday nights) but I’m taking an indefinite break from it because it’s kind of below my already-low level.

My Sookmyung Korean class went on a little “Membership Training” thing about a month ago so I’ll post some pics from that when I feel motivated. Membership Training is just a “Konglish” word for a grown-up field trip that usually entails socializing, games, booze, and sleeping on the floor of a pension (a motel-ish place). It was mostly fun and certainly worth going on since I met some other students and got to know some of the teachers and other volunteers who run the free class program.

I’ll end this with a snapshot from my Level 3 Korean book from when I was doing the intensive program at Hongik back in 2003. I just dug this book out of my closet a few minutes ago and all I can say is NO WONDER I DROPPED OUT! Jesus. Yeah I made it through levels 1-2 just fine, but level 3 kicked me in the nuts pretty hard. No English translations in this book, which is a big part of why I couldn’t handle it. My book scribbles make it look like I survived most of the class but I distinctly recall throwing in the towel somewhere near the middle of the 35 chapters. Still, I’m glad I saved the books. There’s an outside chance I might still be able to get something out of them.


posted by Michael in Whatever on 7/15/2014 | No Comments