Friday, August 06, 2010

Something I Should Do...

‎"Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23
From Grand Gulch Primitive Area Utah

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Grand Gulch Anasazi Ruins

In the Spring of 2003, myself, my father, and our good friends of the Hanson clan, David, Eric and their respective patriarch Craig, embarked on a journey of fantastic proportions.

Grand Gulch Primitive Area lies hidden among slot canyons high on Cedar Mesa in Southeastern Utah. Above are the photographs from that time. GGPA is managed by the Bureau of Land Management to preserve the archeological ruins of the ancient Anasazi peoples who once dwelled here. One can access these canyons only by decending and hiking through the rugged canyon terrain of Utah. Once there, you can literally see dozens of ruins hidden among the coves and overhangs. Most date to approximately 800-900 years ago, pre-historic on the American Continent.

Archaelogists are still piecing together the mystery of their disappearance.

During this trip though, we had a fantastic time exploring the ruins in Grand Gulch, nearby Bluff Utah on the Comb ridge, and other places on Cedar Mesa. While the weather wasn't always the best, the company was top notch and the treasure of ruins was priceless.

If you know the names of specific artifacts and ruins, by all means go ahead and leave a comment, so that I may correctly tag and identify all of them. After seven years, my memory of specific ruins is a bit fuzzy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Made My Day

This week I've been doing my semi-annual English Camp for Daebang Middle School. The day was dreary and rainy all morning, and having had some personal setbacks, I just didn't want to be there that day. My mind was elsewhere, on matters bothering me and the funk that has been settling in.

Feigning enthusiasm as best I could, I managed to get through the lessons for the day without infecting my students too badly with my dreariness. Then, with shoulders slumped, and feeling kind of lonely, I slowly plodded home as the rain started, shuffling and dragging my feet. Just one of those days where you feel the rain cloud is there to rain on YOUR parade specifically.

Starting across the crosswalk, I heard the high pitched, girly voice of one of my students, "Mr. Beal! Mr. Beal! How are you! Come here! Come here!"

She smiled, and jumped up and down, beckoning me to join her under her umbrella, and seemed genuinely excited to have time to talk to me personally. Her infectious smile and bursting enthusiasm at seeing me began to come over me. I could no longer resist and began smiling and joking with her, as she walked out of her way all the way back to my place (she doesn't live very far from me), making sure I didn't get wet.

It was obvious she wasn't just interested in practicing English, she genuinely liked me and I had obviously made an impression in one of my classes. She made me glad to be a teacher and content about where I was and what I was doing. All my frustrations seemed worth it for those moments with a doting pupil in the rain.

Amazing how such a small thing can lift your spirits for the day, and make your time in class meaningful again. Needless to say, I had less trouble finding the energy for classes the next day.^^

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ed Viesturs on Mistakes

A mistake is a mistake even if you get away with it. ~ Ed Viesturs

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hax with More Wisdom...

Not everything people do is a personal reflection on you. ~ Carolyn Hax

From Grand Gulch Primitive Area Utah

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Career Choices

One of the things I like best about teaching in Korea are the bright, motivated students. A student who wants to learn (even if they do so for all the wrong reasons) is far better than the alternative.

But despite the overwhelming precociousness of my kids, they are still human, and they are definitely still middle schoolers and products of their times.

This morning I taught a lesson in my extra-curricular ESL conversation class. The talking point of the day was:"When you grow up..." "Want to do.../want to..." and a few related sentences and questions were the target phrases.

I think most were getting it, so before I introduce the next activity for practice, I ask one kid the question, :Do you want to be a doctor or a teacher?"

"No, I don't. I want to be a fund manager."

I couldn't help but laugh.


‎"If honesty were actually the best policy, people would use it more often." ~ Amy Alkon

From Grand Gulch Primitive Area Utah

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Seeking Love

"Your task is not to seek for love, but to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it" ~ Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Rumi

From South Korea Highlights 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010


"Is this an outrage or a bummer? Think carefully before you settle into your choice." - Carolyn Hax

An outrage or a bummer indeed. Having mistaken one for the other, in the clumsy manner that only I could ever manage, I've taken the latter and managed to turn it into the former.

People who want details will know that there was a girl involved. There was a bummer. I got outraged. What might have been a great friendship (or more, perhaps?) slipped from my fingers. And I'm mostly to blame.

Which, is a REAL bummer.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

From Grand Gulch Primitive Area Utah

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gold Dust

"Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes, it obstructs your vision."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Motorcycles R' Us

Robin and I return to the repair shop later one evening, only to find the place closed.

Our hearts sink as we pull up to the empty, locked garage bay door. I physically restrain robin from grabbing a crow bar and trying to break in. We drive back home, and Robin agrees to teach me to ride his 125cc motorcycle, his small, black, ghetto motorcycle.

The ignition doesn't work, so he teaches me to kick-start the bike. This takes some effort, but after a bruised calf muscle, I manage to get it going. I hop on back and Robin takes me to some deserted road in the foothills of Jinhae, his home and the town directly South of Changwon.

He gets off and explains the gears, which I am already somewhat familiar with.

"So how do I know if I've hit neutral if the light isn't working?"
"The light will work when the battery charges up again, but don't worry about neutral just yet."
"Now, when I go from first gear to second, how will I know if I'm in neutral or second."
"If you're not looking for neutral, you'll miss it. If you push up hard enough you'll go right past it." Don't worry about that for now."

So he explains where a few more of the controls are and off I go! I get it into first and go a whopping 30 feet without falling over. I then try to turn, but almost drop it, as motorcycles are shockingly heavy and unweildy when unpowered.

"Watch it there! Just try to go straight for now. Worry about turning later!"
"Ummmm..... OK."

I take it again in a straight line, this time with no trouble. So I start down the hill and shift into second. I'm really going now. I hear Robin yelling something but I tune him out and concentrate. There's some traffic! Oh no! Better turn around before I kill myself. I try to turn it, and attempt to control the motorcycle in a turn. Doesn't work very well and I'm going all over the place in first gear. I manage a 180 turn (barely) without falling. Only problem is, my turning radius is far too wide, and I careen into the curb on the opposite side of the street and drop it. Crash! :P

Robin comes running down the hill, his gangly 6 foot 4 inches bounding nearly as fast as second gear. "TYLER! TYLER! ARE YOU OK??!!"

His concern bemuses me slightly, as I crashed the thing at less than 10 kph, and suffer nothing but a slight bruise on a foot. He helps me pick it up and I manage to ride it back up the hill.

Once at the top, I do some loops in a circle at a very deserted intersection.

Suddenly, Robin gets hungry and declares that I have passed the first day's lessons. We head into town late that night, where he shows me his favorite restaurant.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Night Pool

오늘밤 마산에 갔어요. 제친구 최인심씨와최정은와같이 닭고기를 먹었습니다.

Despite my previous exaustion from the afternoon's crazy shenanigans, I went to Masan on Saturday night to meet some new friends. I ate spicy chicken with my new friends, Choi In-Sim and Choi Jeong-Eun. I met them both in Masan over the previous two weeks at my Wednesday night Masan Korean class. Both are excellent teachers, and generously indulged my desire to learn their native tongue, despite my poor renderings of Korean pronunciation and frequent grammatical mistakes.

We went to a billiards hall following dinner, where I won 1 out of three matches, with In-Sim winning the other 2 (She's quite talented, but I think I got very unlucky in 1 of the matches). Nevertheless, I'm obviously rusty and need to practice more! There will definitely be a rematch. :P

We concluded the evening with ice-cream cones!

Drive to Busan with Robin Gazdecki

My friend, Robin Douglas Gazdecki sold me his motorcycle on Saturday. Problem: the motorcycle is parked in the middle of Busan, which is a 2 hour drive away on weekends (45 minutes without traffic). Part of our agreement included me driving him down to Busan so that we could take it to a repair shop (where it apparently needs a new alternator).

Finally, we saw the bike, which Robin had randomly parked in front of a big casino a month earlier. Having told me that battery was dead, we were both shocked to watch the bike start up with very little trouble. So we hopped on and rode half the distance to the repair shop. Unfortunately, it started sputtering out just before we got there, and we wound up having to push it halfway to the place. Scariest part: we pushed it across this intersection between a highway offramp and a 6 lane avenue without median strips. Buses honking and dodging us. Finally we got it to the repair shop and were able to explain the problem to them.

They said it should be finished by Monday night (so that's when I'm driving down with him again. Part of our deal also included me driving him to Daegu that afternoon as well. So that's what I did after we got it to the shop. Daegu proved to be quite a distance though, so by the time I arrived back in Changwon, I was exausted (and far too sick of driving to bother going the distance to Masan to meet friends for the evening).

So, I'm not buying it until its ready, but I'm getting excited. Here's the motorcycle:

From Korean Lint

Monday, April 19, 2010

Alan Watts on Plans

"No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now."
- Alan Watts on Plans

Sunday, April 18, 2010

250cc Cruiser? Well, why Not?

A friend of mine, Robin Douglas Gazdecki will leave Korea before the end of April, returning to his native Wisconsin. Consequently, he's interested in selling his motorcycles, and thought a series of increasingly desperate-looking Facebook status updates would sell his wares. He offered a choice of two different bikes to me (and anyone else who hasn't blocked him yet). And so, with less thought than I give to purchasing dish-soap, I chose the "cruiser" with the (slightly) bigger engine (which he said tops out at about 100 miles an hour).

But just so you all don't think that I've completely lost my mind, I will mention that Robin has offered to give me a few lessons on the bike before I take to the mean streets of Changwon. This will prove critical, as I haven't been on a 'real' motorcycle since I was 10 years old (and was riding with a friend of my father, Ted Duncan). I rented a 50cc scooter once in Thailand (which hardly counts), but that is about the extent of my experience. Here's my new ride.
Moreover, I think a motorcycle would prove advantageous in Korea in many ways. After driving Carlos' truck for 2-3 weeks, I find the most annoying aspect to driving in Korea to be the lack of parking. I won't really have this issue with the motorcycle. Moreover, during the frequent traffic jams that plague this city, I will be able to bypass everyone on the shoulders with all the scooters and other motorcyclists. The only disadvantages I see include rain and safety.

But I also just realized that I made a major lifestyle choice with very little thought. So I naturally felt I should perhaps learn a thing or two about motorcycles and spent a good portion of this evening reading up on the topic. On Youtube, I sifted through 20 or so videos of boneheads on crotch-rockets that didn't quite make the cut for Failblog. Then I found this very informative video and watched it about 10 times.

비음산 Hiking Bieumsan

일요일아침 우리는 비음산에 등산을 했어요. 제친구과같이 등산을했어요. 수연씨는 창원한글학당에서 만났습니다. 수연씨와같이 등산을많이 해봤습니다. 수연씨는 2명친과같이 왔습니다. '진니씨는 헬스 클럽에서 만났습니다. 재미있었어요!

Hiking again! The Korean national past-time. This particular mountain is not far from my house (and if you know where to look, one can see roughly where my house is in one of these pictures (but I won't bore you with a description).

This time, I'm hiking with Su-yeon, one of my Korean teachers, and 'Jeanny' an English interpreter/translator at GM Daewoo I met through my health club. Suyeon brought along a couple of her friends from Jinhae and we all joined in the 'Congo line' and marched up to the summit. I had mild concerns about the weather but eventually enjoyed the relative warmth (I couldn't tell if it was the dreaded Hwangsa dust from China, or just overcast weather threatening rain (the rain explained it all later on (and yes, I realize I'm using triple parentheses))).

As usual during a relatively warm weekend, the crowds were out en masse, an army of adjumas (middle aged women in trademark florescent gore-tex rain jackets and perm hairdo-friendly sun visors) were marching up before and after us. So we joined into the 'congo line' and went up with them. Unbelievable how many people.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

진해 벚꽃축제 Jinhae Cherry Blossoms & Friends

Once again across Asia, Cherry Blossoms pop out on trees and hearken the arrival of Spring. Which provides a perfect excuse for getting together with friends and enjoying laughter, merriment, and a day outdoors with no jacket on!I went to Masan, and picked up several friends, including Rachel, Jiyeon, Yoon-young, and Jihee. We proceeded to head to the other nearby city of Jinhae. Despite the overcast weather, I think these pictures speak for themselves. I had a great time, ate some Galbi-jjim (new favorite food) and enjoyed meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. A good time was had by all. Me, Jayeon from my Korean class, and Derek from my OTHER Korean class in Masan. Here's some other pictures of some new people. It was a pretty good day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Johnny Cash

Driving around in Carlos' truck, I hear a lot of Johnny Cash on his ipod. Johnny Cash is one of those artists I'd heard when I was young and immediately dismissed due to his age and association with older generations. I wanted NEW music, from the 90's or when I was alive.

But, like brussels sprouts, spinach, or salad, I've now come to appreciate Johnny Cash, particularly his later stuff. Simple, unadulterated folk songs accompanied by a guitar. Like Cat Stevens (in his day) or Bob Dylan, the formula is profoundly simple, yet impossible to emulate.

Here is one of my new favorite songs: Hurt.

Johnny Cash - Hurt from kakofoni on Vimeo.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A new car :P

I have ineptly stumbled into car ownership (or stewardship, I should say more accurately). After my friend Carlos decided he didn't want to re-contract, he offered to let me borrow his Ssangyong Musso SUV. I've been contemplating getting a vehicle for awhile now, and now one has fallen into my lap.

The arrangement is great, and everybody wins. As Carlos plans on returning to Korea in a few months, he doesn't have to go through the headache of selling his car, and buying a new one (and all the annoying things that entails). With this, he can just add me as a driver on his insurance, and I get to use a car for a few months on my Intl. licence. (just long enough to go some places and do some things I've been meaning to do for awhile now.
Trouble is: Korea is not a great place to drive. On those few moments when traffic actually moves forward, people cut you off and invade your space to the point that your blood boils. (city buses, taxis, and motor scooter delivery-persons are the worst offenders). I've often beaten traffic on my bicycle in this city (but that isn't usually the norm).

Any small amount of time you do save over the bus or bicycle is negated by the time it takes to hunt for and pay for parking (which negates any savings as well). Its almost useless when I travel within a 6 kilometer radius of my home and I really only use it on weekends for day trips and stuff.

I'm not a huge fan of the Ssangyong Musso either. When I first arrived in Korea, I saw Ssangyong cars everywhere. Then someone told me they were going through the process of bankruptcy (apparently having only built SUVs and luxury town cars, the fuel crisis in the summer of 2008 pretty much destroyed them). I could never figure out why they didn't export them to the US. Carlos had raved about how great his truck was and how much he liked it. It was a diesel and sipped gas, and was super reliable. Why wouldn't they sell in the US?

Now I know why they don't sell them in the US. Ssangyong SUVs look alright, but they drive and handle like a 30 foot flatbed! I seriously feel like I'm driving an aircraft carrier on steroids down these obscenely narrow roads.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Korean Language Practice.

As I currently can't exercise my shoulder (doctor's orders), I've lately been doing a language exchange with a friend of mine, Ha Suyeon. We met at the Changwon Korean Class (,창원한글학당). As I'm incapacitated at the moment, I spend Friday evening's at her Piano Hagwon helping her perfect her English and cobbling together sentences in Korean under her tutelage while high school student pound away at Chopin and Beethoven.

Anyways, I'm supposed to practice these verb conjugations and some of the words. I hope they're right.

소설은읽줄알아요. 하지만 한국에는 소설 없어요. 그래서, 소설을 읽을수없어요.

다음주에 벚꽃을봐고십어요.하지만 그래서,아마도 다음주에 벚꽃을봐고없어요.

Are these right?

Quote for Chahārshanbe-Sūri چارشنبه‌سور

This Wednesday, millions in Iran will mark Chahārshanbe-Sūri, the Wednesday Feast. This ancient festival marking the last Wednesday of the year (on their calendar), dates to 1700 BCE, in ancient Persia's Zoroastrian Era. People build bonfires in the streets and dance over them. The fires are meant to struggle against the darkness and bring the sun's return in the early morning.

"کوروش کبیر گفت برای
جنگیدن با تاریکی آتش روشن میکنیم و با شادی و نور به سراغ دشمن میروی"

"To defeat the darkness we set the fire and face the enemy down with light and joy." -Cyrus the Great

My friend in Iran mentions this in the context of their struggles against their current government and their desired democratic reforms. Pray that those brave souls standing up to injustice can keep the fire burning until a new and better day arrives.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Better Teachers

An interesting article in the New York Times Magainze. Problems I suspect many educators and school administrators face.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Inspiration & Writers in Changwon

Having neglected this blog for nearly a year, I return again, this time with new found inspiration and motivation for elevating my prose. Encounters and exchanges with two recent friends over the preceding months bring me back here.

Yesterday (Saturday) I spent the better part of the evening with my new friend, who goes by the pseudonym Thomas Tye. While currently teaching English at a Hagwon here in Korea, Thomas is a true "Renaissance" man in every sense of the word. Sporting a burly black mustache and long, curly hair, he also manages to pull off a thick soul patch beneath his lips. Writer, film-maker, martial artist, musician, teacher and traveler, Thomas, his Kiwi friend and I spent the evening exchanging tales of our travels and adventures.

Thomas told me a wild tale of gallivanting around Asia and Europe on credit cards to finance a film project, that ended abruptly and tragically with a crazy story about an unreliable colleague embroiled in gang violence in Spain.

What really inspires me though, is Thomas' industriousness. I first met him last summer, as he promoted his self-published science fiction novel at one of the local expat watering holes. And so this evening, I finally opened to the first page of Finding Jack and began reading. The book is interesting, (to say the least), and I've only just started it, but already the possibilities of what I could possibly accomplish are there.

Thomas is also currently working on film projects for a Film Based ESL website. We both had a great time hanging out.

My other friend, Jack Cobb, is also looking to publish a book soon - a comprehensive guide for Westerners moving to Asia (and Korea specifically) to teach English. I've only read and offered feedback on his introduction so far, but he promises it to be a comprehensive guide to culture, customs, food, work habits and all other aspects of living in an Asian society.

His other project he's discussing is a screenplay drama/sitcom pilot. The basic concept of the sitcom is a foreigner/expat bar in Korea. He succinctly described it as, "basically Cheers meets MASH." It sounds almost crazy to me, but then Hawkeye once said, "Insanity is just a state of mind." Hopefully I can find the time to hang with Jack before too long. As I'm now single again, perhaps that will be more manageable.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nieces & Nephews

Finally visited my sister in Tuscon Arizona. As you can see, we visited the Airplane "Boneyards" surrounding Tuscon. My sister mentioned this Aircraft Museum in the Desert, so she and I took my nephew around to see all the airplanes. He had a great time for awhile. But being 2 and half years old, he grew tired quickly. But I had a great time looking at the B-52's!

I had a great time visiting with Noelle, Seth, and bonding with my nephew and niece.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In Prescott. With Grandad and Evorine.

Here I am, on the plane again. This time to Phoenix, Arizona, where I will see nearly everyone!
I arrive first in Prescott, to visit my grandparents. My Grandad has moved his computer upstairs. It looks as though he's in better shape than I thought. So we all go out to dinner.

Bonus: there's nearly 2 feet of snow on the ground in Prescott. Spectacular.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Baaaack in the U.S.... A ?

Things move quickly for me again, as I neglect this blog a little longer!

I've just arrived a couple days ago, back in the United States after another marathon jump over Pacific ocean. What I've done so far:

1. Met my parents and took them out for dinner at Ted's Montana Grill. 24 oz. of medium Bison Ribeye Steak. Enough said.

2. Become engrossed in the new Krakauer opus I found at the airport. One of my all time favorite writers has tackled the story of Pat Tillman, the NFL safety with the Arizona Cardinals who quit his million dollar career to join the Army after 9/11. After his death (at the hands of his comrades) the Bush administration tried to cover up its details and use him to promote their foreign policy. But in his best biography to date, master biographer Krakauer paints a portrait of a fantastic, exceptional man who was far more complex and IMHO, more heroic, than most people realize.

Bonus Moral Lesson: DON'T work for the US Army.

3. Enjoyed Skiing at Copper mountain for a few days. Snow was somewhat lacking, but they got some on my last day. Still, snow or no snow, its hard to complain about a few days of skiing in Colorado. I bought a new pair of skis as well. I'm really liking them. Pics coming soon.

4. Meeting my Aunt Dee tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing her and spending time with family.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Links for a New Year

I am here presenting a new set of links that may be of interest to some people. This blog, by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, shows radical means to escape

"the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what's truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value." Same guy with slightly less radical advice for focusing yourself on what's important.

まなてぃ~/シドニーへ行く (The Manatee Goes to Sydney) This blog chronicles my friend and longtime Japanese teacher, Kyoko Nagashima as she spends a year teaching Japanese in Australia.

Ask A Korean Insightful blog about Korean culture, history, and society written by a Korean American. Very poignant and sharp perceptions about race, immigration, and culture.