Archive for June, 2007

Mul issoyo

or: ‘There is some water’

or: ‘I have water’

or: ‘You have water’

or: ‘He/She/It/They/We has/have water’

Bloody Korean and its subjectless sentences.

After the staff at my academy told me to get a phone number off my washing machine, I tried to do so. Unfortunately, the washing machine failed to answer. The following day, they told me someone would come and look at it. Later on, after confirming what the problem was, they told me it had been sorted. And it had.

Around about the same time I had a conversation in the evening with Drew in London (or thereabouts) and Pete in Halifax (the Canadian one) (or thereabouts) (woohoo: sequential parentheses!). I mentioned that someone at work had said a couple of weeks beforehand that the rainy season was due to start the following week (the week following the statement about the monsoon season’s commencement. Not the week following my IM conversation with Pete and Drew. Nor the week following the time of writing this post. Just to make that clear), and that since then it had basically rained once.

It might have been that very night that the heavens opened and it rained heavily. The chaotic crackle of the rain on the building woke me up and kept me awake for a while. Thunder rolled. It’s also raining right now. If this is as bad as the rainy season gets, it’s not that impressive – particularly given the situation with flooding in Britain at the moment. Drew said Yorkshire had been washed into the North Sea. I’m pretty sure he was joking.

After my Korean class today I spent some time with my classmates. We didn’t necessarily do a huge amount (had a meal, investigated the possibility of seeing Transformers (there weren’t any seats available at convenient times (some of the times displayed were 25:05, 25:30 – evidently the cinema operates on a 26-hour clock (woohoo: nested parentheses!))), went to a large bookstore (I bought a book by Thomas Kuhn), then to a hof – actually, I suppose we did a fair bit) but it was pleasant.

Some time after I got back I experienced a bit of a memory lapse. I was reading an item about the car bombs discovered in London – the map included on the web page showed part of Hyde Park. It sparked a memory of travelling to the capital to find a place to live. I was sure that I’d stayed a couple of nights, but I had no recollection whatsoever of where I’d done so. I could visualise the area of Kensington where the lettings agency was (and presumably still is), but that was all. I did, however, know that wherever I’d stayed was within walking distance – in fact, I’d walked across Hyde Park a few times while going to and from the agency. I went to Multimap to look at a map of the area.

Kensington is on the southern side of the park, so I navigated towards the northern side. I noticed Bayswater Tube station – and that was definitely familiar. Scanning the nearby streets I saw Leinster Square … and it all came back to me. I’d spent a couple of nights in a hostel there. The French-sounding young guy on reception when I first got there wasn’t happy that I didn’t have my passport. On the first night I had a six-bed dorm to myself; I was going to sleep in an upper bunk, but when I got up there I realised how narrow they were and that there were no bars at the sides, so I changed my mind about that. On the second night I shared the room with another man – although only briefly. The floor or the ceiling (or both) was (or were) disturbingly warped on one side of the dorm.

And so my memory (of that particular detail) returned.

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Mul opsoyo

or: ‘There isn’t any water’

On … um … a day earlier than yesterday (Saturday, I think), the water pressure in my flat went down. There was still water coming out of the taps, but at about half the usual rate. Without thinking too much about it I went ahead and put some washing in the machine (maybe I did this before the water pressure went partially AWOL – I can’t remember exactly). This load – while it’s supposed to take about an hour – took at least a couple of hours maybe three.

While the taps had gone down to about half their usual pressure, the water coming into the top-loading machine was flowing at a bare dribble. So I started filling the machine up with tap water using a jug. Then realising that would take a long while, I switched to using my large saucepan. Eventually, I filled up the machine to the point where it continued with its programme. It still had a couple of wash and spin cycles to do, but I stopped it after its next (rather ineffective) spin and put the damp clothes on the laundry rack to dry.

I did some more washing last night. The water pressure didn’t seem to have changed, but it certainly hadn’t become any worse, but the water was still dripping into the drum. I considered stopping it, but then decided that the task of filling the machine manually wouldn’t be too onerous. I rediscovered the red washing bowl in the pan cupboard that I rarely open, so the filling process progressed a little quicker. One definite benefit of manual filling is that you can use hot water – looking at the plumbing behind the machine I found that the hot water isn’t connected (which wasn’t a surprise). Fiddling with the cold water connection did nothing but reduce the trickle to zero.

A few minutes ago I informed the desk staff at the hagwon of the problem. They told me to get the phone number from the side of the machine. Presumably, they’ll call and arrange for someone to come and look at it (‘it’ being the problem with the machine rather than the phone number affixed to the washer’s side).

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Money, money, money

Yesterday I sent £1,000 to my British bank account; it’s something I seem to have been doing less frequently than last year. I went to the Nonghyup Bank branch that’s located directly under my hagwon and withdrew 2,000,000 won (in three batches, because the maximum you can take out in one transaction is 700,000). Then I made the five minute walk to the KB Bank on the street of clothes shops.

Filling out the Application for Remittance form took a couple of minutes – I copied from one of my previous copies – during which time the tall, young security guard gave me a ticket from the machine. Which is good, because I don’t much like getting a ticket before I start in case I get called before I’m finished filling in the form and because I often forget which button to press for the appropriate ticket (it’s the right-hand button of the left hand machine. Probably).

After that I sat and waited for 10 or 15 minutes until my number was up, and I sat down and handed over my newly completed form, the copies of all the other forms I’ve done (the printing on which is easier to read than my block capitals), my passport, my latest payslip, my Alien Card and, of course, my money. Usually, it’s one of two women who take my money and do all the banky doings, but yesterday it was another woman. On the plus side, she didn’t raise any objections (I thought the fact that the money I wanted to send was greater than the net pay quoted on my payslip might be a problem); on the minus side, she sent exactly £1,000 (which came to 1,907,000 or so won, including charges) instead of increasing this to include all of the 2 million I’d given her.

I checked my (Lloyds TSB) bank account this morning to find that the money had arrived safely. £950 of this I transferred to my savings account (bringing the total to £3,950). The remainder can stay in my current account to pay for random stuff … like the indeterminate sum I half-promised Drew for his forum-providing expenses.

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Exchange rate watch

1 GBP = 1,854.8 KRW
1 GBP = 1.4864 EUR
1 GBP = 1.9981 USD

2,000,000 KRW = 1,078.2894 GBP

Bonus Random Exchange Rate

1 GBP = 125.12 Icelandic kronur (ISK)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

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Firstly, Drew’s got a new forum up and running for us. It looks a lot like the old one – perhaps too much like the old one; I imagine the forum software comes from the same place. Once my account has been authorised I’m pretty confident I’ll get some work done on the game. It needs it.

One other thing has been resolved – my flight back to Britain is set for 14 September. All I have to worry about now is how they’re going to pay me at the end of my contract. Well … I also have to worry (I don’t have to I suppose, but I will) the behaviour of some of my students – I have a couple of classes that are nearly unteachable because there are so many students just talking constantly.

The D20 Modern game that Simon’s been running has been a lot of fun. The modern setting doesn’t really appeal to me as much as a fantasy one, and I spend a lot of time wondering what my character can actually do; but there’s been a good deal of humour in our responses to game situations – and that’s one of the best things about roleplaying. When the campaign is finished in a couple of weeks, we’ll hopefully be starting a Wheel of Time game.

My Korean classes are going pretty well, too. Every week we get introduced to a new grammatical function or two (‘Students, I’d like you to meet Grammatical Function.’ ‘Pleased to meet you.’) and although I’ve been thinking that I’d prefer something more situation-based (learning how to order things, talk about yourself etc), this method seems to be effective. In our last class we did ‘from’ and ‘to’ (in terms of time periods) and ‘after’. Best of all, I spent an hour and a half talking to the Canadian girl in the nearby Starbucks after class.

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A near-death experience

On Friday I think it was, a message appeared at the head of the forum that hosts my roleplaying game, Empire of Destiny. Essentially, it said that the board would be deleted on Sunday, and it gave a link to the provider’s support board. On this latter there was a thread offering to move forums over to another provider – all you had to do was post with the address of your own forum. A day or two later they posted a new thread that too many people wanted their forums moving and that they were thinking of charging people for a continued service or charge them for downloads of their boards’ databases.

Around this time I e-mailed my players with the situation (having already saved all the pages from the board). One of them got in touch to say he would create a forum for us – he just had to buy the web-hosting and figure out how to do it. Then I read on the support forum that phpbbforfree (the forum provider) would consolidate all the active boards on to one server and continue with the free service.

All of which has been somewhat annoying – although not as annoying as it would have been had the game been active recently. I really ought to do some more work on it. I’ve been thinking about it all through this period of inactivity, and, with these recent developments, have been thinking about it all the more. I feel that I’m closer to getting it back on track, but now I don’t want to do much because of the current forum’s uncertain future.

Even if phpbbforfree resumes normal service, moving across to another forum – one that’s run by one of us – seems like the thing to do anyway. Drew says he’s bought the hosting service and seems like he’s ready to get to work on a forum – how long that takes is another question.

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I just got back from seeing the doctor. It turns out I have pseudopolyps in my bowels, rather than real polyps – which means they’re not going to develop into cancer. The blood test also showed that my biochemistry is getting close to normal. I got a prescription for a month’s worth of medicine (on top of the several day’s worth I still have left over), and will go back in July for another blood test. I should also have another colonoscopy in a year’s time.

It’s raining outside (it would be worrying if it was raining inside, I suppose) – apparently this is the start of the rainy season. I’m going to have my second shower of the day (… so it is going to rain inside after all).

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Scope this out

I had my second colonoscopy on Thursday. The previous day (Wednesday, in case you were wondering) I didn’t eat anything, then in the evening I took the first dose of laxative. I drank about a litre of water (having bought six two-litre bottles of the stuff, then realised it was way too much) – but shortly later I threw it all up again. Instead of sitting on the toilet for two and a half hours while the water passed through me, I only needed the bathroom a few times. It was a similar story the following morning and I was a little worried that the evil-tasting laxative hadn’t had enough chance to work. Eventually, though, my stools changed from brown sludge to something more like urine – which is was is required for the examination.

The next problem was getting to the doctor’s surgery about a mile and a half away. I tried walking but got very tired very quickly, so I decided to catch a taxi (as they fell though the air). When I finally got round to putting my decision into effect, all the taxis I tried hailing were occupied, so I ended up walking the full distance, anyway. When I got into reception, it looked like the nurses were just in the process of calling me. (I’d also made a couple of toilet stops on route and been sick once.)

After a brief word with the doctor I was taken to the room with the colonoscope, asked to put on the pants with the flap at the back and manhandled into the correct foetal position by a quite attractive nurse.

When I came to, one of the nurses put a blanket over me and indicated I could sleep. (I have a vague memory of asking her if I’d been talking while I was out – to which she said no – but this could have been a dream.) When I went in to see the doctor again, he told me that much of the inflammation he’d previously seen had gone, but the was still some left in the rectum and sigmoid colon. He also said there had been some polyps or pseudopolyps and that a biopsy had been taken on these. If they turn out to be pseudopolyps, then they are just an effect of the colitis; on the other hand, if they are real polyps they could be pre-cancerous growths. The biopsy should determine whether they’re malignant or not; I’ll go back this Thursday to find out.

Then I had to hand over the 80-odd thousand won and realised that I didn’t have enough money on me. I tried exercising the future tense I’ve been doing in my Korean class, but I could only say ‘I will come’ (‘ogessumnida’, or ‘ogessoyo’ in less formal terms (although, as we haven’t studied informal verbs, this is only a guess)) and not ‘I will will come back’. Anyway, I left the building to look for a bank. When I came back I realised there was a branch of Shinhan Bank, not only in the same building, but on the same floor a few feet from the surgery. I wonder if the nurses wondered why I was taking so long.

Then I went across the street to Holly’s Coffee to get something to eat and drink.

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Sometimes being me really pisses me off. I’ve been meandering through various levels of depression, torturing myself with negative fantasies – largely along the lines of getting fired from my hagwon, or getting to the end of my contract and not receiving my bonus month’s pay. And meanwhile time creeps forward.

I’ve been trying to change my return flight to September, but when I called up last week KLM apparently didn’t have any seats on the 17th … or the 16th … or the 15th … and then she had problems with her computer. I’ve since e-mailed the agent who got me here asking him to help, but no response yet.

Just completely at random I’ll mention a couple of interesting incidents that happened on Saturday. I was sitting on a subway train when a very tall woman got on and sat down opposite me. She was a middle-aged Korean woman, so the fact that she was well over six feet tall was especially unusual. A couple of time when I glanced at her she seemed to be squinting at me with almost preternaturally dark eyes. She must have had to deal with idiots staring at her all her life. In fact, when most people got off at my stop, I noticed peripherally that she stood up well after everyone else.

Later on, on the way back to Handaeap, (between Daeyami and Banwol, I think), a guy sitting on the floor a few feet from started having a fit. The men who were standing nearby took hold of him as he shook; the woman next to me handed them some tissue to wipe his mouth. As the train pulled into Banwol someone alerted the driver/guard in the rear driver’s compartment (we were at the end of the last carriage). They carried him outside and laid him on the platform. We were stuck there for five or ten minutes. Finally, the man having the fit recovered and the train pulled away as he was being led down the platform.

On Thursday I have to go back to the doctor for another colonoscopy. This means that I can’t eat anything on Wednesday (ie, tomorrow) and I’ll have to take that vile laxative again as well as loads of water.

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I’d read (on Amazon.co.uk, I think) that Goblet of Fire is the best Harry Potter book, and, without having read the subsequent volumes, I’d agree (although by the time I’m posting this, I’ve also finished The Order of the Phoenix). The book is twice as long as any of the previous ones and it conveys the sense that the main story arc is really getting going.

One good thing about the opening is that Harry’s time with the Dursleys is quickly curtailed. I found this section rather tedious in the first three books and was glad it was brief in this one. The other advantage it had over the earlier volumes was that it felt much less episodic. Sirius’s involvement in this story links it strongly to the events of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and makes the series feel more like one continuous story rather than standalone adventures with the same characters.

The very beginning of this novel works very well and feels more, well, grown-up than previous books. Although the whole series is focalised through Harry’s point of view, we see the events in an old house where Voldemort is plotting his return to power. This section consists of two parts – a genuine third person narrative that tells the reader about the history of the house, and another third person section that turns out to be Harry’s clairvoyant dream.

As always when I read these books, I was waiting for the school stuff to be dealt with and then for the plot to reveal itself fully. In The Goblet of Fire, however, these two parts of the story are more fully integrated than the previous volumes (not that they were ever all that disparate). I still have a bit of a problem with J K Rowling’s reliance on the whodunnit-style denouement where everything that Harry wasn’t aware of is explained to him by Dumbledore. But that’s a minor point and overall this was definitely the most satisfying book of the series.

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