Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Adventures in Free Food!

Like many people I know, I grew up big and strong by eating Church Basement potluck dinners, (and I capitalized it, since I think someone should use it as a brand name for a line of microwave dinners~ wouldn't you buy something called Church Basement 3 Bean Salad, or Church Basement Baked Beans??). The point of all this ---well, to be honest, this is going to be the point-before-the-point, so if you're feeling overwhelmed already, you might want to bail out now--- The PRE-point is that I love free food. Think about it. I'd never make a Spinach Pie in my own kitchen, but if you serve it to me at your house, chances are I'll love it. Or, when I'm going through the supermarket, and there are free samples of stuff -stuff I KNOW I don't like and I'll never buy - I still take the free sample! And then I stand there with a thoughtful look on my face and murmur things like "Hmmm, it's not so bad. Maybe I'll add it to my list next time" but I know I won't. I just don't want to hurt the feelings of the nice lady who's handing out the Dixie cups full of free food. So that's my pre-point. I love free food. I think maybe judging by the size of the congregation on Church Basement pot-luck days, other people do too.

Now, onto my main point. Even better than getting free food, is giving free other people can have it for free. And there are no dishes for you to wash!! I've added a link on my sidebar for The Hunger Site. It's a website that allows you to click the box that says "Give Free Food". You can click every day, and each click donates 1.1 cups of staple food to folks who need it via The Mercy Corps and America's Second Harvest. (There is info about these organizations on the site). I've known about, and frequented this website for a long time now (Thanks to Melanie for pointing me in its direction). There is also an on-line gift shop associated with it. Every item purchased (and there are some really nice ones!! ) results in more free food for somebody! When you look at the stuff in the shop, along with the price and product description, it also tells you how many cups of food will be donated if you purchase that item. Christmas is getting closer, and if you tend to do some of your shopping online anyway, you might want to check out The Hunger Site. The only sad part is that while folks will get good healthy food, nobody's going to be lucky enough to get a "Church Basement Jell-O and Olive Salad".

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Adventures in Teaching

Over the holidays, I seem to have forgotten some important classroom tips. The other day I leaned against the board during my lecture. It wasn't until after I got home that I realized the words "I have the flu" could clearly be seen scrawled backwards across my back. Lovely.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Adventures in Chuseok

This weekend was what's known in Korea as Chuseok, and is often described as the Korean Thanksgiving. It's a time when everyone travels to their hometown, the women cook monsterous quantities of food and people tend to their ancestors tombs. It's also a time when English teachers at Daegu University gather for a fantastic BBQ - since we have 3 birthdays in September that need to be celebrated in style. We had tons of food, some guitar music, some singing, and of course, a pinata. It's so much fun to watch grown adults scrimmaging for a fun-size Snickers bar. Although, come to think of it, when the weather's nice like this, we have a BBQ almost every weekend, whether there are any birthdays or not!

So, since I've been finished work since 9am last Friday, I've had plenty of time to clean, shop, make some pottery thingies, BBQ, watch some movies and play cards with my friends. Now, it's 2:30 on a Monday afternoon and I'm thinking that after I wash up all the brunch dishes I'll just curl up with my cat, a good book and a cup of tea for a little while...or re-decorate my bedroom. We'll see how energetic I'm feeling after the dishes are done. Also, since it's only been 2 weeks since the semester started, and now we're enjoying a long weekend, it feels like summer again. I really hope I don't forget to get up and go to work tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Adventures in Writing.

Even though it may not be apparent from the hastily concocted literary belches on my Blog, I really can write. It's one of my skills. It's not one of those 'cool' skills like precision spitting or being able to burp the alphabet, but over the years it has served me well. I like writing. I like to read other peoples writing, and I figured I'd like to teach writing too. So, this semester I'm teaching a 3rd year Writing Composition class. My problem, as I discovered last class, is that although I'm confident in my own writing skills, I don't know WHY it's good writing. It just sounds right. After reviewing a few examples of a particular sentence structure in class, some students asked the dreaded question 'why?'. I blurted out an answer that made sense to me, but I wasn't really sure it was true. (I found out later that I hadn't led them astray ~ whew!) Keep in mind, these students are sharp. They've been studying English Grammar since middle school. I don't know if I ever studied grammar. I know that about 1/2 - 2/3 of my Freshman Linguistics class failed a 7th grade English Grammar test circa. 1950, and I know that many of our Korean students have a better grasp of grammatical principles than their native English speaking teachers. It's a little intimidating. Here's hoping I don't make a complete chowder-head of myself in this course!

In other news, my cat is currently trying to crawl inside my printer.

Monday, September 05, 2005

So here are a few pictures from Thailand. The one on the top is a great shot of my toes enjoying the view during our lunch break on 'snorkle day'. In fact, once again the heat had struck me down, and I spent most of the afternoon in that pose. The shot below is the view I had if I flopped my head to the right. (The view to my left was a tree trunk, so I didn't take a shot of that one). Gorgeous, eh? I'm going to look at these when winter rolls around and I'm shivering in wool socks and drinking hot chocolate.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Adventures in Thailand

What a way to spend the final 10 vacation days of summer! Shopping at the markets in Bangkok was the most relaxing market experience ever. I'm used to vendors loudly hawking their wares, or shoving pink ruffled hair clips under your nose while you're trying to examine the lizard-shaped belly rings. (How do they think those things go together?!). In Bangkok, it was completely different. Vendors greeted you with a friendly smile, then let you look around, and eventually engage in good natured bargaining "Good for Me...Good for you. You give me a price now". It was delightful.

On our 2nd day in Bangkok, 3 of us went on a river cruise up the river on a tour boat, then back down again on a converted rice barge. It was really stunning to see the wooden houses propped up on stilts all along the waters edge. Once in a while, a sprawling old home looking like a cross between a Souther Plantation and an old English Estate home with boarded up windows would loom along the waters edges, sagging at the gutters. As Anne of Green Gables would say, there was 'lots of scope for the imagination'.

Soon, we were off to Koh Samui with it's white powder beaches, sparkling clear aqua waves, swaying palms and coral reefs. The island was gorgeous. However, by this time, I discovered Thailand was like a sad, sad romance. As much as I loved Thailand, it wasn't lovin' me back. I spent a great deal of time taking tiny nibbles of delicious food I would have loved to devour, all the while hoping my churning inards and pounding headache would wash out to sea. As a result, I didn't enjoy the island as much as I should have.

Even so, I had a great time. The 4 of us travelled well together. We got along well and enjoyed similar interests, so we weren't at cross-purposes the whole time.

Now however, I'm home again and started back to work yesterday. It looks like it's going to be a good semester, and I'm looking forward to teaching a Writing Composition class in addition to my regular Freshman courses.