Archive for April, 2011

Why Rote Memorization Doesn’t Work

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

“HI TEACHER!”
“Hello!”
“I’m fine thank you and you?”
“oh, um, okay, uh, how are you?”
“I am Korean!”
“…”
“Goodbye teacher!”

Guess I didn’t follow the script ^^;;.

Liveaboard Diving Trip

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

For my birthday present from my parents, I asked if they would pay for me to go on a liveaboard diving trip over Easter weekend.  My trip ended up being for 2 days 1 night.  I did six dives, including a night dive, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Room number 16 on the liveaboard boat! The room I shared with another girl, Jane, who also happened to be from America. :)

Our cute beds!

The view next to my bed.

The sunrise at 6AM outside my window. :)

The front of the tshirt I purchased.

The back of the shirt. So adorable! :)

I enjoyed all of the dives.  They were throughout the two days, so different sea creatures were active at different times.  On my last dive, I swam next to a sea turtle and he kept looking at me suspiciously.  So cute!  The night dive was particularly exciting.  I had never done one before so it was an entirely new experience.  We all sat underwater near the front of the boat while the crew threw over some meat scraps to feed some white tip reef sharks.  It was awesome but scary at the same time because I could only see as much as my flashlight would let me!

The biggest problem is that I now have an outer ear infection. :(  Some water must have been leftover in my right ear after my dives.  It’s such a horrible pain, and right before my birthday, too!

I hope it goes away soon.

No I’m not talking about “Atlanta”

Monday, April 25th, 2011

It took the Sapgyo post office 15 minutes to figure out where “Georgia” the country was, but I sent off all 59 letters! Thanks to everyone who volunteered and who recruited volunteers for me, you should be getting letters in 1 – 3 weeks.

Also because it’s the day after Easter I keep getting hardboiled eggs as presents. What a delicious and nutritious teacher’s office snack! If only I was going straight home after school… I’m a little scared that these hardboiled eggs are going to explode in my bag.

To Thailand!

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

It’s currently 3:44am in Australia and of course I am still awake. This always happens to me on the eve of a big trip. I am excited in the days/weeks leading up to it and then the night before, when the reality of it finally sets it I get anxious. I get nervous about packing and traveling and my first impulse is to not want to go. I have fought through this so many times I have learned to laugh at it, but this parade of emotion still charges through my brain before every trip without fail. So here I am, packed, ready to go, unable to sleep and the cab is coming to take the group of six of us to the airport in 3 hours. At this point sleep would really be more like a nap, or for me a cat nap since naps are only naps in proportion to the number of hours you sleep, and when you sleep 12 hours on average a four hour nap is reasonable.

Anyway, in a few hours I will be headed to the airport to fly to Thailand,  a nation plentiful in mangoes, monkeys, and elephants but low on internet access. Therefore, I will not be returning to my blog until May 2nd, try not to miss me! I promise to return with tales of fantastic adventures and pictures of elephants with long winded explanations to accompany them. This year I will celebrate easter by trekking through a Thai jungle and riding an elephant up a mountain, so I promise to bring back stories of the most unconventional easter celebration ever. Jesus rode a donkey and I will ride an elephant.

My Easter chariot awaits

Thanks for reading, see you in 10 days!

Good Friday on the Rocks

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

As the weather has cooled down a bit the lower state of New South Wales has entered into a period of gloriously sunny and temperate weather. While this week me and my roommates had been very busy turning in assignments and trying to prepare for our upcoming spring (technically fall) break travels, today we all woke up to a beautiful day and nothing to do. Kaela and Jill proposed that we head down to this small park near Sydney Harbour, and invited me to come along, and of course I agreed.

After a slow meandering morning we caught a bus from Glebe Point Road around noon to head downtown. We arrived at Circular Quay-West, an area better known as The Rocks. This area was established shortly after the first colony in Australia was set up in 1788. The original buildings were made mostly of local sandstone, from which the area derives its name. Originally it was a rough and tumble area, the bad part of town. It was a slum type area that was frequented by sailors and prostitutes.

In the decades that followed through the 20th century plans were drawn up many times to have the area and its crumbling structures demolished. Large world events like the break out of the bubonic plauge, WWI and WWII stalled these plans every time they arose and doing anything about the area was put off until 1968 when the state government gave control of The Rocks to the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority with the intention of demolishing all the original buildings and re-developing them as high-density apartment buildings.

This plan was opposed by a group of local residents who didn’t want to see their rents raised and the history of the area destroyed. They requested a Green Ban from the Builders Labourers Federation to halt the demolition from happening, and in 1973 it was implemented. This ban remained in place until 1975 when instead of demolishing the area renovations began which transformed the area into the commercial and touristy precinct that it is today.

Self explanatory

Walking around it reminded me a lot of the inner harbor in Baltimore or downtown Alexandria, as it is a beautiful bustling downtown area with swanky stores and fancy restaurants. The three of us spent a good two or three hours just walking around, people watching, taking goofy touristy pictures of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and of the Opera House. It was such a wonderfully pleasant day we lingered outside with no real goal or destination in mind. We saw street performers and lots of tourists and families. Australia takes its holidays very seriously apparently, because most stores were either closed today, or closing early for Good Friday, and most restaurants had signs out front saying that they would not be serving alcohol that evening.

Me and Jill and the most photographed building in the southern hemisphere

The "Mary Cait and Ashley" pose as Jill calls it

I'm in Australia! Every so often this dawns on me, because sometimes I forget.

*pokes*

Apt 18 ladies!

Baw. Cute

Harbor skyline

Under the Opera House

Getting up close and personal with the opera house

Roomies!

After a few hours of wandering around we started to get hungry, and Kaela had been saying for the past week how she was really craving pancakes, in particular pancakes from a restaurant called “Pancakes on The Rocks.” Jill and Kaela had been before but I had not, and they both insisted I was in for a treat. The menu read more like an ice cream shop than a pancake house. I swear there was nothing on there that wasn’t sprinkled with powder sugar, stuffed with creme, dipped in chocolate, or drizzled with syrup. Among pancake variations with names like devil’s delight, strawberry jam, jaffa orange, hot n troppo, macadamia madness, strawberry patch, bavarian apple, and banannarama I landed on the simplest variation I could find- blueberry heaven. And it was that. It was two of the thickest buttermilk pancakes I have ever had with blueberries in sauce served with cream and vanilla ice cream. Ihop this was not. These pancakes blew Ihop into the next universe.

Blueberry heaven. mmmmm

After we had eaten our fill we wandered back towards the bus station to catch the bus that would take us back to Glebe. Then Kaela, Courtney who joined us later, and I all settled in for an evening of packing and preparing for our trip to Thailand!

Call for Pen Pals… pretty pretty please

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Remember the project I told you about? I’m sending off half of the letters today!* The letters are mostly done, and I’m giving the students 10 minutes at the beginning of class to complete them. Today we will finish the letters, draw pictures, address our envelopes, I will theoretically go to the post office, and then 30 lucky people will get letters from my students in approximately 1 – 3 weeks! I am doing this with two classes, so this means we are approximately half way through the project. I will post pictures of the students working to the link above later this day so check back.

Are you mad jealous that you won’t be receiving a really awesome letter? Fear not! I still need about 20 volunteers to email me their mailing address. Do you live in Korea? Do you have friends? Send -after getting express permission from them to send personal information to a stranger- their addresses my way!

Happy Wednesday!

Emily Teacher

*…if I can make it to the post office before it closes.

Doctor Who

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

You might recall from my “big” graph of fandoms that one of those fandoms was Doctor Who. Based on the sites I frequent (EW.com, AV Club) this Saturday’s premiere of the 6th season* of DW is pretty well known. If not, this Saturday, 9pm, BBC America. Watch and be amazed (hopefully). But today the DW fandom got some pretty sad news. We’ve had a rash of deaths over the past couple of months of actors who played main characters during the classic series.** It’s been sad, but has left a pretty big hole in her passing, namely Sarah Jane Smith. She was a companion to the 3rd and 4th Doctor*** and came back in the new series for an episode before starting her own series “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” Sadly, the actress who played Sarah Jane, Elisabeth Sladen passed away today. The only happy thing to come out of this, and it’s really perversely happy, is that Sarah Jane and Elisabeth are a worldwide trend on Twitter. And here’s the proof:
(click for the full picture)
Anyway, I know I’ll be thinking about her this Saturday.

*If I were British I would have put series which is the same as season over here, but I didn’t want to confuse people. Also there was a “season” of specials when the last Doctor (David Tennant) was starting to bow out. However that doesn’t count as a real season, so this new season (and I keep wanting to say series) is the 6th one of the new run. More on that later.
**The original run of Doctor Who ran from 1963 until 1989 and is called the “classic” series. The new run of the show (which is referred to as “New Who”) started in 2005 with Christoper Eccelston playing the Doctor.
***The first Doctor was played by William Hartnell who was old. So when he was like “I’m out of here because I’m old” and the series was really popular the good producers over at BBC were like “We’ll just say that because the Doctor is an alien, he can ‘regenerate’ into a totally different person with a different face and a different personality and he can do that 13 times.” And so it was that we’ve had 11 Doctors, some who have stayed for a really long time (David Tennant, Tom Baker) and some who only stick around for one season (Christopher Eccelston.) Trust me when I say, you really don’t have to understand all of this to watch the series. But it can be helpful.****
****In case you were wondering, except for Tom Baker, I remembered all this information off the top of my head. Because I am a boss.

I Took A Photo of My Fandom(s)

Monday, April 18th, 2011

There was a time when I didn’t know what fandom was. This doesn’t mean I was a fan girl (I really was) I just didn’t know what fandom was or that I was a fan girl. I just knew I really, really liked the Beatles. I’ve since learned (in depth) what fandom is and that various fandoms have different names for their fans. For instance, when I really, really liked the Beatles I could have described myself as an Applescruff.* Not every fandom has a name for its fans and generally lady fans are called fangirls and gentlemen fans are called fanboys. Fanboys and fangirls got to cons and if you’re really obsessed you dress up as your favorite character. That’s called cosplay. Of course all this is a rather extreme version of fandom and there are a great many people (myself included) who take more of a back seat when it comes to fandom. I never got around to writing about this, but I am very much a lurker. This is because I’m naturally shy and have never really thought of taking advantage of the anonymity of the internet to break out of my shell. But I’m not alone in being a lurker. So those are kind of the two extremes of fandom at least from my perspective: Cosplayers and lurkers. As with everything there are loads of people who fall in between the two extremes and they probably make up the bulk of fandom.**
As you can tell by the chart I made (which doesn’t actually include everything) I consider myself a member of a whole ton of fandoms. That’s the thing about being a lurker: You can sample a lot of different things without giving up too much of yourself to anyone of them. I have friends who cosplay and go to cons and I can tell you they give a lot of themselves to a select few fandoms and pretty much invest completely in those fandoms. I on the other hand can be a part of 12 different fandoms and enjoy all of them to various degrees and not be invested completely.*** In my opinion fandom can be a good thing and a really awful thing and it depends entirely on how much of yourself you invest in the fandom. Fandom is great when it introduces you to like minded people and you make friends that can last a really long time. But fandom is really awful when you’ve become so invested in it that you start to blur the line between the reality and fiction. I’m not saying that investing in a fandom automatically means you’re going to go crazy. But there’s always the chance.
So how do I intervene in my fandom? I don’t. I’m a co-founder of the school’s sci-fi club (for what that’s worth) and I take a real interest in everything that goes in within my fandom. But I learned awhile ago that I’m not really meant to intervene, that I’m better off as a lurker. So, I took a photo of my fandom.

The “Family and Friends” section got a little squished because I tend to forget how many fandoms I was introduced to because of nagging from friends/family.**** Hopefully you can read my handwriting otherwise none of this is going to make sense and quite frankly my fandoms don’t make sense in list form. And if a fandom isn’t underlined it means that it hasn’t become inactive but I’m not currently “participating” in it either. So now I define active, inactive, and random outliers.

  • Active – This means that I either a) follow one of the members/entity on Facebook/Twitter, b) am actively watching/listening/reading works having to do with the fandom or c) awaiting the return of said entity be it through new shows, new albums or tour dates I can actually go to.
  • Inactive – This if fairly simple. I no longer give a rat’s ass about what this group/entity is doing. They once meant something but now I no longer care.
  • Random Outliers – This group has no direct connection to any of the circled entities and generally speaking were discovered by pure chance.***** They may or may not influence participation in other fandoms, but generally speaking they just kind of exist in their own little worlds of awesomeness.

So that’s it. Those are my fandoms.

*Another example: Chiefs and Chiefettes for the Kaiser Chiefs, Whovians for Doctor Who and of course the most famous Trekkies for Star Trek.
**The crazies (cosplayers) are just more well known because they are crazy. And I say this as a friend of at least 3 hardcore cosplayers. This does not make them less crazy.
***I have some not fun experience in investing way too much into a fandom :cough:Kaiser Chiefs:cough: that did not end well. I kind of couldn’t listen to them for a good three months. I’ve since recovered and decided that being a lurker is better for my mental health.
****They don’t always nag. But sometimes they do. And then they force to me to watch things when I don’t pay attention to their nagging.
*****This is particularly true for the Killers who I discovered by watching VH1 on a snow day. “Mr. Brightside” is unlike anything I had ever heard before and Brandon Flowers is hella cute. A lot of my fandoms are based on the attractiveness of the members. It’s shallow, but you gotta start somewhere.

The Small Furry Fury that Ate Australia

Monday, April 18th, 2011

For the past few weeks it has been difficult to walk into a grocery or convenience store and not be met with inescapable signs that another capitalist consumer holiday is upon us- Easter.  Just like at home the grocery stores here have stocked up on their chocolate bunnies, eggs, easter baskets, and fake tinsel grass for this spring holiday. Only, unlike at home, things are not as they appear. Firstly, Australia, along with the rest of the southern hemisphere is moving into Fall (Australians do not know the meaning of the term “Fall” it is only ever referred to as Autumn), not Spring, but does this mean that instead of tulips and daises on easter decorations there are colored leaves? Nope. America apparently has a chokehold on the rest of the world when it comes to consumer holiday traditions, so even though it is in no way Spring here, all the imagery for Easter is of a Northern American Spring complete with tulips and bunny rabbits. The other thing that is amiss is that many of the chocolate bunnies I have been seeing are not bunnies at all, they are chocolate Biblys.

This is because Australia has a long running beef with bunny rabbits. When Australia was settled by the English in the 1800s the Brits thought it would be jolly good fun to bring over some animals from their homeland so they could feel more at home. They brought over a few things like dogs and foxes, but nothing that has been as devastating as the bunny rabbit which was introduced in 1859. Since then Rabbits have had a devastating effect on the ecology of Australia and are suspected of being the most significant known factor in species loss in the country.

There has been a good amount of research into this problem and it is believed that it all stemmed from the release of 12 wild rabbits by Thomas Austin on his property, Barwon Park, in Victoria, Australia in October of 1859. Austin had come to Australia from England where he had been an avid hunter, and upon arriving he asked his nephew, William Austin, who was still in England to send him 12 grey rabbits, 5 hares, 72 partridges, and some sparrows so he could continue his hunting hobby in Australia . However, William was not able to procure enough grey rabbits to meet his uncles request so he sent some domestic rabbits to round out the shipment. It is believed that these domestic rabbits bred with the grey rabbits thus creating a more resilient breed that was able to survive the Australian outback. Enough of them managed to escape into the wild and then they got to breeding and multiplying which they did…well….like bunnies! At the time Austin had said “The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting.”

Little did he know of the furry havoc he had let out into the Australian outback.

Hatching an evil plan to eat another continent probably

The rabbits spread rapidly across the southern parts of the country. They were very well suited to the Australian climate, which unlike the European climate  had mild winters, meaning the rabbits could breed all year long. Furthermore, most of the vegetation in the Australian countryside is very low, ideal for becoming bunny food. Normally this would not be an issue because in North America and in England rabbits have plenty of natural predators, but this has not been the case in Australia. The kangaroos and koalas didn’t know what the heck to do with these strange cotton tailed creatures, so they left them alone, and how did the bunnies repay them? By eating everything in sight. The foreign rabbit population feasted on the native plants exposing the topsoil and leaving it vulnerable to wind and water erosion. The soil in Australia is very nutrient poor, and the plants the rabbits ate did not regenerate, and once the top soil was exposed it was then eroded or blown away, and top soil takes hundreds of years to regenerate. The middle of the continent of Australia used to resemble the middle of the United States, it was a prairie like area with lots of grasses and small shrubs. That is until the european rabbit showed up and saw an all you can eat salad bar, and Australia was left with the desert interior that is now most of the outback. Rabbits quite literally ate the middle of the country.

Within ten years of their initial introduction rabbits had become so prevalent that two million could be shot or trapped every year without having any noticeable effect on the population. It was the fastest spread ever recorded of any mammal anywhere in the world.

Rabbits are basically the softer cuter rats of Australia. So when American consumer culture crept across the pacific ocean and brought with it chocolate bunnies for Easter, Australians did not take too kindly to it. They were a little bitter, and rightfully so. I mean if koala bears had eaten the blue ridge mountains I bet we wouldn’t find them so cute. So there has been a backlash against easter bunnies  in Australia for some time, but in its place they have substituted the Bilby.

Bilby!

The Bilby is a nocturnal omnivorous marsupial that lives in the arid regions of Australia. They are an endangered species, due mostly to habitat loss, and competition for scarce food source from the cotton tailed incarnates of satan themselves, RABBITS. So beloved is this marsupial that they even have their own day, National Bilby Day is held on the second sunday in September to raise funds for conservation projects.

So no Easter bunnies for me this year, make mine an Easter Bilby! Where is Elmer Fudd when you need him? Because it is certainly rabbit season in Australia.

Study Break

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

This past week, I was on study break.

I decided to spend my time by travelling to Airlie Beach with my friend Jess.  Airlie is over 8 hours south from Cairns.  The drive was extremely long, but enjoyable.  We only had 4 CDs to listen to the whole time, but we made do with what we had. :)

As we drove further south, we started to really see the worst of the damage from cyclone Yasi.  In Cardwell, so many houses were just completely missing their roofs and had only tarp over top, or nothing at all!  Places where there should have been grass was just dirt and sand.  It was really depressing and I felt sorry for the people who had lost their homes and belongings.

Trees blown over near Cardwell.

Damaged beach in Cardwell.

One of the many damaged houses in Cardwell.

Airlie Beach was definitely a good time.  A lot of adventures and a lot of new friends!!

Bonfire at a friend's house on friday night.

Airlie Beach at sunset.

Airlie's harbor.

The water was so amazingly pretty!

I plan on going on a 2day livaboard dive trip this weekend. :)   It should be an amazing time, and I am really excited.  You can bet to hear some stories!!

Edit:  I forgot to mention that while in Airlie, I experienced a 5.4 earthquake!!!  It wasn’t too bad at all, but I was definitely a little confused as to what it was.  The Pacific ocean is freaking out!