Posts Tagged With: Guitar

Waiting out Winter

I’m blogging because I am noticing that dozens of people are reading this blog on a daily and weekly basis, and I haven’t even added to it in a boat-load of time.

And sorry, but no photos this time. I’ve been trying to upload for an hour. Something’s a bit screwy in the interweb today, and my upload won’t go. So anyway, here’s the ramblings of the day…

Tell you what, sitting in my apartment for the winter-time is not what I imagined… Okay, I didn’t really think about what it was going to be like here in the winter… My other two years were in the SouthWest, and they were really kinda warm.
I think I should have just gotten a bike right off…. But it’s coming soon! January 23/4th approximately, I’ll be getting my next motorcycle which will open the roads up once again. I’m just not in the habit of using buses or even the train as much. When I know a point on the map, I want to be able to get there, not within 3 miles. It’s a different thing. So by this time next week, the roads are gonna be open again. This is certainly a happy thing. Cats here are scarce, and the more I can get mobile the happier I’ll be, for sure.

I think I’m blasted back a bit for the vacation I just took. In it was a party that reminded me of how it used to be. Man, that was something else! Two days of music, art, expensive booze, beautiful people around sharing themselves and their bliss in a most eclectic of styles. I guess I miss that a bit. The openness that can come from being surrounded by English speakers and active artists alike. That’s all right though. In the book that I’m reading about C.G. Jung, there is a discussion about a person in my place, one who has removed himself from where and what he knows on a mission for personal growth. I’ve really advanced in three particular ways since being here that I’m happy about, and I’m hopeful that they can be useful later. Even if just for pleasure. Such is. And in another realm, my writing for creative purposes has taken on a new angle. Not that I’m creating quality writing in the material, but I’m getting into writing absurd fiction. I find it’s a good exercise for expansive expression. I’m not even tying metaphor in yet. Just getting a few portions of crazy fictional tales sketched out so that I can look at them and laugh. I wonder what they’ll become. Time will tell I guess.

On the jobfront: It’s Winter-Camp time, which means no-book, just me. So I’ve been teaching the kiddies ways to talk about words. Phrasing like “How do you spell _______?” and “_________ begins/ends/rhymes with_________.” Things like that… Then there’s a board game that uses all the phrases and they can play against each other and learn at the same time (and if they land on the right squares, they can win candy which I brought back from the USA for them.)
So that’s nice. Way more relaxed than during the normal school year ~ and only half a day! That’s extra nice. So I get to go home after lunch. Works out pretty well.

I’m just glad I brought some intentional hobbies, and know how to exercise now and then. I see people around with none, and who don’t, and they’re at pains to explain the emptiness they feel.  Other cats, with hobbies, have fine times.  Welcome to Earth, right kids?

I keep just saying the thing about needing to be productive – I could only watch so many videos, sitting still, before my mind would turn into a vapid glutton for that.  Yikes!  I’ve taken a tip from an acquaintance I had the good luck to run across and perform with, Grammy Award winner Anand Bhatt, when he told me to learn how to play guitar by keeping it in hand while watching videos/tv shows etc. so that it becomes a second nature thing. I’ve used that tip to its fullest, as I often feel like I want to practice, but the redundancy blows my mind. Now, I’ll sit and play for hours while watching a film or a few shows. It’s not always the most focused of study sessions, but that’s not the point. The point is to get my fingers in the zone of having the muscle memory of going over the same things time and time again.  His and the comment from Simon Clark about the Circle of 5ths and playing till my fingers bleed are the two pushes I’ve taken the best this year as far as my guitar work goes.

I had been working with Illustrator a good bit, bit I haven’t lately. That seems to have its best working home while I’m in schools. Sometimes while in a school setting, I’ll have two or three hours in a row that are free, and I have my own area, and I can sit and practice. Well that’s great, that works. Somehow, I don’t find the same groove in my own apartment. So be it. I get writing done here, and that counts for a lot.

Something that I can’t applaud enough is the project of my friend Canton Becker, who has recently designed an online project for writers, or anyone who likes the idea of a literary time capsule, and I’ve signed on as a beta-tester for the deal. What it does is it pops a question into my email’s inbox every two days, and I answer it the best I can. It goes in a lot of directions, and often I write there things that I wouldn’t otherwise. As a result, I think I’ve been writing for it a lot more than here because of the immediacy of the thing itself. You can check it out at if you like.

What else is going on? Ahh! It’s the year of the Dragon this weekend! For sure, should be something. Not sure what exactly, of course, but it is the thing itself. So there’s that. Headed to Daegu to meet a friend of a friend for a drink and a smile tomorrow. It is a small world indeed.

Happy New Year Earthlings!

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Believe it!

( if you want to maximize any of the photos – just click on them.  Cheers.)

Jik Ji Sa

I’m writing again!

Long-neglected is this blog. Hopefully, this lil’ note’ll make it feel better a bit.
Where to start? Well, I”m still here in Gimcheon – doing my best to stay as isolated as possible for the sake of my guitar skills. I actually sound like a mediocre player these days – that’s exciting. It’s been 6 months, half of which doesn’t count. Listening to such a diversity of music that I don’t know where to start for picking one or six to focus on – so I have focused on the circle of fifths. Working on how the tones work together, rather than putting myself into someone else’s song just yet. So this is where my brain is. My fingertips have changed to where I can either barely feel with them, or they hurt. But just the tips.

It’s kind of a nice place to be doing this.

Teaching – I”m actually teaching. It’s nice – every day I have a different set of kids except for the set that repeats on Mondays and Fridays. I’m even on the verge of trying to remember three of the kid’s names. What a surge that is – huh? I like being a teacher that they both like and that makes them work. I can do that as a once-a-week’er more easily I think than I’m used to. Usually, students get a sense of regularity with a teacher where the balance is hard to find. But because I teach the same lesson to different groups, I can focus on it for one, then I can refine it as I pass through it. It’s cool like that.  Lots of teachers that aren’t my co-teachers are fun.  Some really go out and try to be friendly.  Here’s a science teacher who can speak about 24 words of English – but always kind.

I found a huge collection of educational games today that I’m going to start integrating. I’ve been keeping it to the lesson for the whole trip – but the 3rd graders (of the middle school) just took their finals, and they’re actually finished and will start high school in February, after a month off in January. I’ve no idea what we’re expected to teach them for December, so I’m getting ready for anything.
Recently we had an expo of the kid’s art and such.  That’s where I took that picture from above.  Here are a few more.

I’ll warn you that this site is not for your kids to peruse.  It is peppered with comically-engineered material that is as they say “not suitable for children” at times.  That being said – That link is here:

Grading is different here – in a big way. Kids don’t need to pass to pass. They just get promoted, no matter what they did on their exams. Wow. So if anything – the ones that are inspired to do well, are genuinely inspired – not just because of pressure to do well on tests. I’m sure that involved parents have a lot to do with it as well. I saw the final – it was 25 questions. 25. Some kids were done in five minutes. Seriously. Weird.

As far as it goes though – the classes are still on par with what I would expect in a country town in the states – I mean – seriously, my experience is very skewed. I teach at four schools that all have 60 kids or less. I have classes with five kids. It’s kind of ridiculous, in a nice way. My time here is more academic than anything else. I’m forced to focus more on myself than I ever remember being able to do, much less not having the option otherwise. There are a few Westerners here to hang out with, but I really only see them on the weekends, and so between Monday and Friday, it’s just me and the co-teachers for company. To be fair, two of them are genuinely interesting. That’s three of my days. So that’s cool. I can’t sit and talk stuff on the others, they’re lifers in the gig, and set in their ways – ways that I neither understand nor find reasonable for spending my time getting to know. But they aren’t trouble. They keep to themselves pretty directly, and that serves me fine. I hope I don’t come off like that.   Trying to focus on my guitar and all.

Meh – whatever.  I’m having a fine time, if not for the isolation that spins the brain a bit now and then.  Like right now – I just went for a walk to this cafe – took 20 minutes to get here, been sitting in the window for for nearly an hour in the busy, walking district of town, not one foreigner has passed by.  Some high school boys tried to talk to me – got as far as hello, and that was it.  They seemed pretty proud of themselves for getting there – got uncomfortable and left.  Heh.  I did kinda vibe privacy for the sake of this note, but still, one word in the last three hours, and that’s more than normal.   Thank god for headphones.

And I hike.  I’ve been able to get out and see some amazing places for sure.  Sculptors, check this out:

Then there’s

Which as situated somewhere near this…

… in this amazing scene…

,,, which leads to a 15oo year old temple called Jik Ji Sa.

Jik Ji is one of the oldest temples in Korea, and has some fun hiking around it too.  I’ve been through it a few times now, and it’s still a good time.  The following picture is of the main building – now, mind you – the compound is something like 40 buildings, but this is the center one, the main one – inside are three giant paintings that are about 600 years old – the structure is about 400 years old, and the stone pieces in front are at least 800 years old.  Dig:

Then there was this time that one of my schools took me up to a mountain to check it out and have dinner under it….

Tell me it ain’t a good-lookin’ spot.

Then there was this…

and these…

So it’s understandable why I stay I think.  I have time to practice at arts that I’m trying to master, and am surrounded by all this weird coolness – and I’m fed fairly well.  All that’s missing is you.  I’ll get back when I can…  And you know I can.  But it’ll be a minute.


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