Whimsical

Abandoned

Abandoned Electronics

Abandoned Electronics 2

I don’t look like a thief.

How do I know? Because people incessantly abandon their pricey belongings while sitting near me in cafes. They don’t leave for only a few seconds, but for thirty or even sixty minutes. Some of this is cultural, but given that people from all walks of life do it…

The photos above were taken as proof. (I have more.)

Do people do this where you live?

*Pictures taken with iPhone 5 (Pic Jointer app) and quickly edited in Photoshop CC.

P.S. I also must look really friendly as I’m at a cafe now and some kids decided to join my long table and sit right beside me with their iPads and Macbooks. XD There are spots elsewhere.

Travel

An Afternoon in Insa-dong

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Not too long ago, I spent an afternoon in Insa-dong. Insa-dong’s one of Seoul’s most artistic and tourist friendly neighborhoods. I went there with my friend to have a delicious meal, eat some more, walk around, and take pictures.

The afternoon began with a detour by Gyeongbok Palace because I wanted to explore the streets around the palace and I also forgot where Insa-dong was. While wandering about the palace, we encountered a concert with a pre-historic theme and a flee market. In Seoul, there’s something interesting going on every day, everywhere.

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Our first stop was a restaurant with a traditional Korean atmosphere, Insa-dong Gu Jip (인사동 그집). I ordered bibimbap with gang doenjang, instead of gochujang, the red chilli paste it’s often served with now. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the food because I deleted them. Just know that my dish both looked and tasted delicious. My friend ordered cold noodles. They were okay.

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After the meal and before our next food stop, we decided to walk around to let what we’d just eaten digest. One of the more interesting things we saw was a take-out cocktail stand. On a Sunday, this is something you’d never see in parts of the States as alcohol can only be sold in certain stores and it’s illegal to sell on Sunday. But in Seoul, you can buy hard liquor on the street and walk around sipping it from something resembling an IV bag.

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My friend is a big fan of O’sulloc’s (오설록) green tea, so we went to the cafe they have in Insa-dong. There, you can get green tea flavored ice cream, cake, mochi, &c. They also have other tasty teas.

I ordered a green tea float because I wanted ice cream and a drink. It was good, nice and smooth, and nothing like the powdery green tea that’s offered at places like Starbucks.

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Our next stop was Ssamziegil (쌈지길), a winding building with more than 50 little stores in it. I bought a few beautiful postcards and envelopes from water drop sonata’s booth in the third picture. I can’t wait to mail them out.

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On the top floor of Ssamziegil, there’s a wall where couples leave charms. There’s also a poop themed cafe.

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On our way out, we stopped by the take-out cocktail stand. I was also randomly interviewed by students with a camera. They asked me several questions about various Korean political scandals, which was fine.

Intrigued by the uniquely shaped ice cream cones that many people had, my friend bought one. The verdict is that it looks cool, but tastes like ice sprinkled with sugar.

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As an artistic neighborhood, Insa-dong’s streets are filled with people who paint and do calligraphy. If you visit Seoul as a tourist, it’s a great place to go.

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On a final note, here’s a video of a flash mob in Ssamziegil that was made earlier this year.

Let me know if you want me to do more entries like this. This one wasn’t planned and came from me taking photos I didn’t want to put in a gallery. When I went to Insa-dong, I didn’t think much about composing my shots. Instead, I had fun and “shot from the hip.”

Ambitions

Piano After 21 Lessons

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People often ask if I intend to stop taking piano lessons this fall because on top of other projects, I hope to enter graduate school, while working—No, I don’t want to quit. Will I practice less? Perhaps, but quit? No.

Despite currently working full time, studying Korean, volunteering, &c. I’ve have approximately 21 lessons and kept up with piano for over five months. Regrettably, I’ve gone several days in a row without practicing, but never an entire week. I’d love to raise my length of study to six months, my lesson count to 22, 23, 24 and then … but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

I’m not willing to dwell on whether I sound good, bad, or whatever else for someone who’s had almost half a year of classes. As far as the piano goes, half a year is nothing. The instrument requires a diabolically insane amount of time. While learning quickly is nice and while others are often impressed by those who learn quickly, it doesn’t matter. It’s not a race and the piano can’t be learnt quickly, anyway. I’m ecstatic to be learning and just don’t want to quit.

If anyone knows of interesting books on music theory or pianists or violinists ♥, let me know. Also, pieces—I’m curious about what you like.

The obligatory this-is-how-I-sound clip is below. It’s Sarah Mclachlan’s “I Will Remember You.”

For the curious, the books I’m currently using in my lessons:
A Dozen a Day Book 1, Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner Lesson Book 2, Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner Popular Repertoire Book 2, Piano Literature Book 1 Developing Artist Original Keyboard Classics, Teaching Little Fingers to Play More Classics, and China: Suite for Piano.

Normally, I do 1-2 from each book, except I’m doing a dozen from A Dozen a Day (they’re very short).

Ambitions

Elaborate Spreadsheet for Studying Korean Courtesy of Excel V2

On and off, for the last few years, I’ve been using Microsoft’s Excel to track how I study Korean.

My motto/tagline for studying the language: “one hasn’t a why or because or although.” People like to ask me why?! as in why do I study Korean? It’s a fair question and there is a story, but it’s a convoluted, extraordinarily long, and doesn’t-make-a-lot-of-sense kind of story. The simple truth of the matter is that I like it. I don’t have a reason. Some people feel as if they were born to write, read, paint or … Me? I study languages, play instruments, read, write, and volunteer because if I don’t do those things, all of them (which is a lot, trust me) life feels wrong. I’m not the person I want to be.

Why I Made the Charts &c. Below (My Justification for Using Excel to Track my Progress in Korean)

  • I majored in history → I love records. Korean has also been a lot of work and I want to record that. I want to be able to say that I learned Korean in a very simply way: I put hours into it. I don’t have any special talent for languages. Still, I haven’t done that much. I spend a lot of my “study” time watching TV and reading comic books. Doing those things at a leisurely pace hasn’t made me progress quickly, but they are enough for progress.
  • Math is my BFF → I like pretty charts and statistics, but more than that, I like analyzing statistics, seeing things as numbers, and seeing those numbers grow.
  • It’s motivational → I made the spreadsheet to record things. If I have nothing to record, the spreadsheet goes to waste and I’m annoyed.
  • It keeps me realistic → I’m ambitious. At times, I can be too much of a perfectionist. I get frustrated easily and there’s something magical and sobering about seeing numbers. If X requires approximately 100 hours of study, I can’t get mad at myself for not being there when I only put in 20—I’m not broken; I’m not stupid; I just didn’t put in the time. If I put in the time, I’ll get there.

How I Use Excel to Keep Track (2013 Version)

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The first two boxes, “Days Studied (Chain),” is of how many days I’ve studied in a row. The more the number grows, the more annoying I think it’ll be to see it suddenly drop to zero. Average time per day comes after that. If that drops too low, I think I’ll feel the same annoyance I’d feel at seeing the other number fall to zero.

I prefer keeping track of most things in minutes as opposed to hours. I can get something worthwhile finished in 1 minute. Minutes also grow 60 times quicker than hours.

Thanks to Excel, all the statistics in the chart above are automated and I don’t have to manually do a thing. The numbers on the Y-axis track time in minutes.

I divided my studying into five categories because it’s important for me to engage Korean in different ways.

  • Purple → novels (and perhaps non-fiction and probably other books; I haven’t decided yet)
  • Blue → textbooks, books made for people learning Korean (these are for native speakers and non-native speakers)
  • Teal → news (articles on the Internet written in Korean)
  • Olive Green → TV (TV shows, movies, dramas, &c.)
  • Orange → review (recently, I haven’t spent any time reviewing anything, but I still think reviewing is important, so I threw it up there to remind myself: reviewing is important, maybe)
  • Red → misc. (random stuff like classes, workshops, language exchanges, manga, &c.)

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This second chart is similar to the first. It’s just easier for me to see the categories this way.

My Korean spreadsheet is public. It’s a work in progress. I may change some categories. I may delete other parts of it. I may add things. I want to keep track of as much as I can without letting the task of tracking become a burden. If you have any suggestions, let me know. Thanks!

If not, you can still stalk my studies by viewing the sheet. It’ll change whenever I update it. For the curious, here’s my 2011 version.

Opine

How to Be Productive (Be Quiet)

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I have 387,234,132,138 or thereabouts goals, but I’ve decided not to talk about them before they’re complete. I’m more productive when I discuss things retrospectively.

Think of those who take an IQ test and score in the 99.999995th percentile. They’ve done a fine job on the test, but if that score is the only thing that vouches for their intelligence, maybe they shouldn’t feel so smart. A high IQ test score is sweet because it suggests a high level of intelligence and it’s something people can use to place themselves among the greats, but …

Imaginary Conversation:
Bob: My IQ is 180. Marie Curie’s IQ is 180! I’m like Marie Curie!
Bobette: Curie developed a technique to isolate radioactive isotopes. She won a Nobel Prize in Physics and a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. What did you do?
Bob: I recognized patterns on a test. :) The test says I’m just as smart as she is, so I can get those things too if I want. I’m smart. 😛

IQ tests are a little (tiny) bit dangerous. They allow test takers to feel accomplished without actually having them do much of anything. People often use them as indicators of potential (i.e. You did well on this test, so you probably learn quickly. You also probably possess the ability to think critically. You may accomplish great things. If you join my organization, you may do your great things there, so I want you). That’s fine, but getting an absurdly high score on an IQ test is not the same as having done something absurdly intelligent or even being absurdly intelligent. The tests are flawed.

In that way, an IQ test score resembles blabbering about goals/to do lists. The thought is there; the potential’s there, but has anything truly significant been accomplished? No. Yet, people love sharing their goals. The hope is that sharing increases productivity. People can get support; others will hold them accountable, etc.

Sharing doesn’t often work that way for me. Instead, I feel accomplished without actually doing anything, lose focus, and become less likely to do what I set out to do. Oops.

Years ago, I bought a ridiculously difficult Korean history tome, a virtual brick written for scholars. I told friends I was going to read it. They praised me for having the idea. I ended up reading one page of hundreds. Did anyone say, “Wtf? That’s lame. I thought you were going to read the whole thing.” No. Did anyone say anything at all to hold me accountable? No. Instead, I had already been rewarded for coming up with a stupid goal. People had said I was intelligent because I’d told them I intended to read a difficult book. In the end, it didn’t matter that I didn’t actually read it. When it comes to shared goals, intentions and accomplishments often get the same reaction. I haven’t found praise for doing nothing (or having stupid goals) particularly helpful.

Besides, when I ban myself from mentioning things, I want to accomplish them more as I love discussing what I adore. I didn’t post about reading Korean literature in Korean until I actually read something. I can’t say for sure whether that did anything, but it definitely feels as though it did. If I were to have posted about it before I’d finished a book, I would have felt a sense of accomplishment and while I don’t think that would have stopped me from reading—it probably would have slowed me down—taken the edge off my hunger to engage in Korean literature because talking about it somehow feels like engaging with it. Reading literature was something I really wanted to do and discuss, so the goal I actually made was focused and extraordinarily realistic. I didn’t go for the thickest, heaviest, most intimidating, and most impressive looking tome around. I went for what I thought I’d actually read.

Bottom Line: I don’t want credit for potential. I want credit for accomplishing things. Sharing goals I haven’t begun working on doesn’t increase my productivity; I’m going to abstain from sharing them. This isn’t to say that I will always abstain. I just want to be careful about it.

Is telling people about this going to help me accomplish it? If my answer isn’t a resounding, “Yes!” I should and will continue to keep my mouth shut and my fingers away from keyboards.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject. I’m interested in hearing them. Everyone isn’t motivated in the same way and it’s cool to see how different people think.

*Photo: My productivity tools in a cafe. iPhone 5; Wood Camera app.