Transitions-pay day

Posted on December 1, 2017 at 1:44 PM Comments comments ()
The first pay day of my new job is today. It includes a small monthly supplement to cover beverages and snacks. The situation is looking good, and I foresee regular work here, and work that may be more interesting than before.

I hoped for it but did not expect to see any progress in my career at my age and after returning to Canada, but it looks like it is happening. This program is different than others I've worked for, and it is an expanding business. That is a welcome change from teaching general English in shrinking programs with shrinking enrollments! A receptionist and an English foundations teacher were added to the staff last week. As the institute is expanding, and my work site is a newly opened office, there are new experiences in the offing. For example, I am already compiling material for a workbook, and a commercial was made. Right now I mostly teach reading and a little general speaking, but I foresee teaching other subjects, such as writing, perhaps.

My peer co-worker tends to grumble and she is saying she would rather do something other than teach English. As for me, however, this situation is satisfying in regards to the work, the terms, the atmosphere and the location. I sometimes hang out downtown and get some errands done. Last Wednesday, I went to a singing action then had dinner with activist friends, for instance. I have gone to a library or to a bar after work, too.

With the livelihood stabilizing, I can move other aspects of my life forward. I am doing some little activities for fund-raising on behalf of my local committee. I am trying to decide about an exercise plan. I am also planning two parties, my birthday dinner and an open house at my place on New Year's Eve's Eve. The latter will require a lot of food and I am looking forward to cooking. Fortunately, I get a Christmas holiday between Christmas and New Year's Day.

A recent horoscope disagrees, but my financial life is looking up. I am now able to pay off outstanding insurance bills and a small credit card debt. Happily, I got a couple of refunds worth nearly $600, which helps. I have even  small amounts in the regional lottery for two weeks in a row!

Transitions - optimism rising

Posted on November 16, 2017 at 11:54 PM Comments comments ()
Despite the gloom and rain of November in Vancouver, a time when Canada sees its highest number of deaths, I am once again feeling my optimism rise as my birthday (mid-December) approaches. It can feel sad in November when we remember the dead, and some of my relatives, friends and colleagues including my parents have passed during November. Nevertheless, my energy is on the rise.

As I said at the start of this blog, while I was introducing my blog project called "A Year of Living Positively" in December, 2013, the year's end is a natural time for reflection and planning. I am already getting excited about the prospects of my 62nd year in this world.

Good things continue to happen for me in my universe this year. After returning from a decade of teaching in January, I have carried through with my plan of resettlement. I have been transitioning well from life abroad to a resettled Canadian in British Columbia. Lately, I finally secured more regular work in teaching English.

My new work schedule entails 24 hours of work with 10 hours of class time. It is in a new English Academic Preparation program with prospective university students from China. It is just getting under way, so there is only one other teacher for the handful of students we have so far.

I still hang on to one shift at the children's after school academy. That gives me at least 27 hours of paid work a week. What do you know! It is a livable income (though barely). 

Actually, it seems the academy was surprised when I notified them I would only be available for the one shift. I was working only two shifts, though, so I don't know what they were thinking. They suddenly realised what an asset I am to their operation, so they offered me a guarantee of 4 shifts weekly and begged me not to reduce my time with them. Four shifts there would be between 12 and 16 hours a week, far below a livable income. In fact, I resent this offer after having endured the hardship of working only 2 shifts a week as my sole employment for the past two months, although it turns out they could have had me working more hours. They knew it was my only job for that period! I do not want to show my discontent, though, because this job would be a life-line should the new gig not work out.

We, my co-worker and I at the EAP program, were giving things a try before the offer came through. I got a mere text message confirming the offer after attending a meeting last Monday. The boss said there would be a contract with temporary conditions spelled out for a three-month period and he said he was consulting a lawyer about details, but I have not seen any contract. I am a little leary if nothing is in writing. I know they'll start paying us by around the end of November, but would prefer a probationary three-month deal. In his message, the boss stated the starting pay rate I agreed to, but said a review and salary adjustment would happen after a year. Hmmm I took a cut in the hourly rate I am used to because it is a new business, and because I thought I was being hired for a trial period.

I am still grateful because I am paid for a lot of non-teaching time, including the lunch break, for now. I also know the advantages of being the first hired--more potential for a leadership role down the road. The manager is interviewing a lot of prospective students, but we don't know how many will sign up. On the other hand, this easy schedule could change drastically soon, before we have established a bank of materials and lesson plans. We are creating materials and developing a process at this stage. That is another thing: it is an interesting time to enter a job. I enjoy working downtown in a more professional role, to boot. The favourable conditions outweigh the less favourable.

With employment stabilizing, I can get into more socializing. My life has been pretty constrained with a net income of about $600 a month for the past 8 weeks, a period in which I had to dip into my savings a little to cover the bills. I finally have a hair appointment and a couple of dinners scheduled. In truth, I went to a couple of bars recently to celebrate and let myself feel some relief at having a decent offer. I drank whisky! (only a few ounces)

Transition-Making my Next Move

Posted on June 10, 2017 at 10:02 PM Comments comments ()
Feeling strong. Lots of precious positive moments. Today, for example, a wonderful intimate chat with my lovely hairdresser about helping people, who to help and who to let go. As another example, my present house custodian expressed disappointment when I gave my notice at the start of June, but he has found a decent guy to take my place, while I have a few hot leads on good suites in great locations. Further to those example, I am enjoying a car-share service at a very affordable rate and have taken care of errands and gone on an outing with relatives in need already. On that drive, we marveled at the spectacular panoramic view of Fraser River, the city and the mountains while crossing a magnificent bridge. As well, I have me third interview for another tutoring job coming up this week, which will be a teaching demo. Having fun teaching the younger children. Been to a powerful action in defense of Palestine independence with long-time comrades.

I am excited about finally moving into my own place. I feel close to pinning down a new home, and am looking forward to setting up a household, even though it will be kind of small. Today I was looking at folding Thai "futons", which are very practical and covered in attractively designed cloth. I want to bring out some art and keepsakes. I hope to have a good space with proper light for writing and perhaps sketching and painting.

I am also looking forward to new work prospects, despite the fact that there has been almost no response to the promotion of my business. I do have some contract work and the new teaching prospect would be contract work, which fits into the domain of my self-employment in the name of Edwise. What's more, a friend wants to talk to me about some sort of scheme related to English teaching. Excited and dreaming about what that might be. 

Having access to cars again has opened up my life, too. It is wonderful to be able to obtain the use of good cars easily and very affordably to get errands done or just get a change of scenery. The service I'm using is the oldest such service in Vancouver and is a cooperative. The cars are left on streets and are exempt city street parking restrictions. I am an owner-sharer, having made a substantial deposit. I don't have monthly payments; I just pay as I use per hour. I used a car with a key-less ignition yesterday. Marvelous! Cars are getting less mechanical and I feel for that reason and for sharing, it is more responsible use of fossil fuel-burning vehicles in a time when humans must make big changes for the environment.

Transition - Positive Spin

Posted on May 20, 2017 at 6:27 PM Comments comments ()
From one angle, people might think I am not doing very well. Returning to my home province after a decade's absence, I have neither a full-time job nor steady self-employment after five months here, and I am still rooming in temporary, shared lodgings.

On the other hand, let's be positive and realistic by examining signs of my progress.

1.While I haven't been writing much, not even this blog, my website has had over 168,000 views, around 167,000 having accumulated since I started this blog around the start of 2014. Furthermore, I still get good feedback on the blog; just got another encouraging comment yesterday, as a matter of fact. This success is due to the work in developing my website as well as my ever-improving writing.

2.Despite the lack of creative writing and publishing on my part, I have nonetheless done some writing projects or  projects related to my Edwise business profile: they include being employed by an after-school academy to teach reading and writing, proofreading a company's welcome letter, submitting a news article for that same company's newsletter, preparing a free ad in a realtor's national newsletter, writing a community event programme, completing service application forms for a disabled couple, and getting entry-level work for a newspaper (delivery). To add, I am standing by to proofread a leaflet for a public event. Also, a friend contacted me to say they have me in mind for some teaching-related job, while last week another academy interviewed me to tutor English as of next month. As for my current employment, I got a wage increase for doing my main teaching job. Aside from actual employment, I have been receiving benefits/ favours in return for doing free work, benefits such as the promotion of my business without paying fees. I should also comment that I have been gradually extending the publicity of my business by means of some mail-outs and leafleting.

3.Problems have borne some beneficial results. For example, requests from a disabled couple, who are my relatives, for assistance in making travel plans have been fruitful in that it has given me several opportunities to talk with one of my brothers because of his role as the couple's financial authority. It has also helped us to understand the current status of our sibling and design some arrangements to assist he and his wife further in the future. As another example, an incident wherein I got impatient and irritable at my teaching job resulted in better wages and working conditions for me after co-workers adjusted and understood the source of the problem.

4. On the topic of finances, I have kept some money coming in and avoided chiseling much away at my precious nest egg. I sold gold pieces when the price was high and made a little money that way. I do need to show more income in order to be considered as a tenant elsewhere or a mortgagee candidate. I am constantly work on that issue while trying to control my expenses on various ways.

5. I am enjoying life despite brief moments of frustration and itchiness. I have reconnected with long time political associates and friends, and have some involvement now. I am singing. I continue to enjoy the comforts, food, scenery and companionship in this city, the pace of my birth. Friends are getting in touch with me. One has who lives outside the BC Lower Mainland invited me to visit this summer. Then there is the one who has me in mind for some kind of paid work.

Eye of the Optimist-2016 for me

Posted on December 30, 2016 at 10:26 PM Comments comments ()

This website:  It drew over 1,600 views yesterday, on December 30, 2016. The total number of views of the site reached about 145,000. Most of that viewership arose out of the publishing of my blog, which started near the start of 2014. Prior to the blog-writing, the site had only attracted around 1,500, to the best of my recollection. My blog may not be well known, but starting it certainly was helpful in earning attention to my website. Some of the viewership has been stimulated by my job searches, I am sure.

Technology:  webcam usage; building of my commercial service sales pages;  used Zip files

Health:  made it to 60 years of age; passed the age of my mother at the time of her death in November; continued general exercise; no flu; resolved ankle and shoulder inflammation; my general physical exam results were rated A

Work:  completed and e-published my fourth novel, a third book of poems, and a children's story and continued my positive thinking blog; joined the Canadian Writers' Association; applied for writing and education admin jobs; taught job search, debate and news classes in addition to the regular English classes; resigned teaching in Korea; formally studied editing, completing 4 courses

Social:  extended my collegial relationships with Korean staff (hard to do), including participation in the profs' hiking group; formed deeper connections with some of my students; caught up with Canadian friends over the summer; connected with Canadian activism and joined some World Social Forum activities in the summer; continued arranging socials/ outings for colleagues, especially those in my residence; sought help from Canadian friends with plans for resettling in Canada and got results; had some great birthday parties

Transition-making:  carrying through with my goals for the year and next 5 years, I made some steps to leave my job and move overseas; I have just found a new home for my pet birds, sent some things away by post, given away some office and apartment items and am continuing to pack up my life here; backep up and deleted computer files; applied for housing and work and got housing covered for the next 6 months; broadened the announcement of my resignation and departure from Korea to Canada


Generally, I felt good all year. I enjoyed my work, my small circle of friends and my frolicking finches at home. I relished a few hiking and sightseeing excursions. Though I felt I was growing less and getting a bit stifled, I did grow somewhat, especially through the writing and the contacts back in Canada.

The emotional side of making plans to leave my current life and plan a new one has gotten progressively more emotional. I have been flipping from glee to grief and back. Finalizing my activities in Korea one by one has brought up feelings of irritability and sadness again and again. 

When some messages of concerns about grades were forwarded to me at the last moment before the end of grade changing, which was a couple of days before Christmas, and it was the Director who passed them along, it was really upsetting and drastically affected my mood over Christmas. In a troubling coincidence, these messages were sent to me immediately after I handed in my grading paperwork and delivered my letter of resignation. The Director was reluctant to decide on the issues and continued to convey some lack of confidence even after I responded with explanations for a couple of cases where students got very low grades. I was angry and hurt; nice way to handle someone's leaving. I thought the matter might be a situation of retaliation on the part of the Director and, in fact, I asked her about the timing. The grades were available for students to correct before; they had all been so since December 15. It is normal for students to check the record from exam week on and raise concerns and questions well before the end of the grade change period, so this situation was very odd. Also, is normal for a mediating or authority figure in the department to stand up for a professor after hearing the grievances of the students and the responses of that professor. When I suggested that my director could defend me and my work, she was irrational in that she blamed me for "trying to blame" her and threatened me. She doesn't understand her role or the instances which I had described in detail. In sum, glad I am party company from this particular director. (They are appointed in cycles of 1 to 2 years in rotation.)

Getting detailed information about arrangements related to my resignation and preparing the paper work for the processing of my leaving, along with packing up with and giving away more of my stuff, and parting company with my lovely birdies, had filled me with anxiety and some bouts of grief. Still, it has been alleviating and uplifting to be keeping an eye on my goals and simultaneously make new plans for my new life that is just around the corner.

Eye of the Optimist-New 5 year plan

Posted on December 18, 2016 at 2:32 AM Comments comments ()
I set a 5-year plan three years ago. It's time to review and rebuild it to cover the next 5 years.

In accordance with the original plan drawn up three years ago, I am preparing to abide by one of two pledges, namely to stop teaching in Korea and move back to Canada. Just a few days ago, I began listing my personal belongings that I want to sell or give away, for which I took and uploaded photos of my stuff, and have already given away a few items. I have already transferred most of my savings from Korea to Canada. Having recently sent two small boxes of things I want to keep off to Canada, I just need to pack one more and take it to the post office some time in the next couple of weeks. I have announced an "open house" sale and invited local expats and colleagues to come and pick over stuff just before Christmas day.

I have addressed a  pledge to develop a profile as a professional writer by joining the Canadian Authors' Association, applying for professional writer status, creating an online writing and editing service, applying for jobs as a writer, and completing some courses. Actually, I'll have completed four editing courses this year once I submit my exam in a few days. I have applied for a variety of jobs posted for writers, such as in-house writing and editing of marketing materials, and positions related to journalism and publishing firms. Through two platforms, I have set up profiles as an expert offering writing services for fees, though I do not expect much from them yet until I do some promotion. I will address promotions of my business after I land in Canada in January. 

As I have more experience in the education field, work in education is a good back-up if I cannot secure a decent position in publishing or writing. I have been applying for non-teaching jobs, aiming for some kind of program management position, perhaps in international education, and shooting for a good salary. I just applied to be an international admissions officer or program adviser at a few institutions, and an education officer in the provincial government.

As for the exercise pledge. I have been teetering on the edge of the exercise wagon, though I have not completely fallen off. Since I could not stand to go to the campus gym any more, and did not have much time for workouts given my heavy teaching schedule last semester, I have just hiked mountains around town, or done an outdoor exercise routine with a jog in my neighbourhood once or twice a week since October. It's been a bit too cold in the mornings for that, though, so this type of routine is best done in the milder afternoon temperatures, but I cannot always devote time to it. I want to sort out a new routine in the new year.

I have mostly been eating well according to my own standards of healthy food, though I have been indulging a little in sweets since the cold weather started in November. Anyway, I always do in December when it is my birthday and Christmas.

With the above assessment of honouring the pledges of my original five-year plan over the past 12 months, I now want to outline a renewed short-term (1- and 5-year) plans.

One-year plan:

1. Put in my resignation to the university by this Thursday.
2. Pack up my life in Korea. Finish distributing the personal things I do not intend to hang on to, and pack up what I do want. Cash in whatever else I can, close my accounts, get one last dental hygiene appointment, and make arrangements for the pension contributions refund over the next three weeks.
3. Take time to say good-bye to certain people before leaving, such as inviting friends to the open house, and setting up appointments.
3. Keep applying for work in writing/editing, publishing, and education and take something by early March, while taking some short-term employment int he meantime.
4. Find temporary rental housing by the first day of March.
5. By temporary health insurance by the end of January.
6. Relocate as per the demands of the best job I can get.
7. Make new friends, keep in touch with old ones.
8. Keep to a small budget and save what I can all year.
9. Keep writing and publishing my own stuff.
10.Find new pastimes like recreational activities, including a new exercise routine.
11. Re-establish Canadian residence status by June, 2017, then renew my driver's license and provincial medicare plan.
12. Decide whether to take more editing courses by May, 2017.

Five-year plan:

1. Land a decent job by March, 2017.
2. Save money, and make a decision about cashing out some assets and buying new property in the fall of 2018.
3. Buy a vehicle by summer 2018.
4. Keep fit and healthy.
5. Make a decision about retirement in November, 2021, just before my 65th birthday.
6. Start traveling again by 2019.
7. Keep making new friends.
8. Look for some appropriate involvement that includes political writing/ education as an activist by 2019.

Of course, one should also keep in mind the long term. Here is a sketch of a 10-year plan.

1. Start taking retirement benefits between the age of 65 and 67.
2. Keep healthy.
3. Own a home by 2020.
4. As of 2022, consider volunteer work that involves travel, perhaps as a shortish term (6 to 12 months) teaching gig.
5. Keep up political action and writing.

Eye of the Optimist-Birthday outcomes

Posted on December 12, 2016 at 6:40 PM Comments comments ()
Yesterday was my birthday and everything went well. It was a full and lively day. A brother called me in the morning and we had a good chat. The parties I had announced were successful. Invitees responded well and with love, even though many are not aware that the motives for holding the parties is also to express farewells. There were additional bonuses to the day; for one thing, I was informed of an opportunity to have a job interview, and I received three very positive comments to my blog.

The noon-hour office gathering brought 4 members of the profs' hiking group, a small super class, and the best of my friends and neighbours from among my colleagues. They ate most of the treats I had brought. The atmosphere was joyful.

As planned, I later met some people at a restaurant where I tried a new Korean dish, potato soup. It turns out that it is actually boiled pork ribs in leaves and potato slices. It was very well prepared and tasty. I thought it might be a meatless dish, but not so. Not a few of my acquaintances do not eat pork, so some invitees avoided the dinner but caught up with us later. One non-pork eater ventured into the restaurant, however, and we found satisfying a rice dish for her.

From the restaurant, we moved on to a very chic and spacious cafe. It was a very pleasant time with a Persian family and Russian speakers.

The colleagues from among my neighbours who live in the same building as I do have not met in quite some time. We used to socialize more often, but seemed to go separate ways after the novelty of our new surroundings and new employment wore off. It was great to renew the friendship and spend time together once more, especially as I will not be returning after the winter break.

Other good things happened yesterday. After I'd gotten back to my apartment and was settling in for the night, my phone started chiming. Weirdly, I received three blog comments in a row, apparently from separate viewers. All these comments were complimentary, saying how useful the blog is and how it stands out in terms of topic and style. Amazing!

Yesterday morning, I received a reply from a job application for online tutoring. Curious about current international job postings in the English teaching world, I was browsing when I found an ad for online tutoring. When I've seen such an ad in the past, it seemed sketchy. The one I responded to seemed more substantial, formalized, and properly laid out with duties and pay details, and a compelling hiring process.  I was thinking that it might be a good thing to do if I could continue it over in Canada, so I thought I"d try applying. It turns out that I might be able to do that, for they are operating with tutors in many locations and time zones. I was concerned about the compatibility with their tutoring programs for some of my hardware is on the fritz, but it turns out that what I am using now is good enough. I scheduled an interview for this afternoon. I'll soon have to prepare for the interview.

To my surprise, I found the toilet working. I have not used it in about three weeks, opting to go to the public toilet downstairs in lieu of risking a nasty flood in my bathroom. I guess it was clogged from months of bird debris and such. Anyway, it is fine now. I suppose that my neighbour snuck in a used a plunger. He said he was trying to find me in to do it; I think he entered anyway to surprise me with a working toilet as a birthday bonus. He knows the door lock code because he is the one who usually stands in to feed the birds when I am absent.

I hadn't asked for gifts, but a received a few small ones plus cards--even a couple of sweet gifts from students into a few small things from colleagues. Actually, I opened birthday letters that received from family members a few weeks ago, which contained nice cards and notes.

All in all, it was a festive yet productive day that lifted me up.

Eye of the Optimist-Big birthday

Posted on December 10, 2016 at 8:21 PM Comments comments ()
It is the eve of my birthday, three years since I started this positive thinking blog project. I have come a long way and things are right on track. I am working on two of my five-year goals: moving back to Canada and establishing myself in the publishing field, particularly as a pro writer.

I have been experiencing periods of nervousness, anxiety, sadness, annoyance, peace and exuberance about this time of change. I have long since come to terms with aging through the middle years, and this method of positive thinking reflection and planning has certainly helped a lot. As I mentioned in a recent blog entry, it is not just a momentous time right now because of the birthday; I am organizing a big intercontinental move and last-ditch career change. The pending move is the more precise reason as to why it is an emotional time for me now.

I have called people together this weekend to celebrate. I had a wonderful conversation with a colleague over beers last night. I am due to join a family for dinner tonight. My brother has contacted me to arrange a phone call on the big day, tomorrow morning. Also, I have already prepared my office for the noon-hour drop-in, cake-sharing activity. Finally, several people have confirmed they will go out to dinner with me tomorrow.

Most of these friends and associates are not aware it is also a farewell occasion because I have not yet given formal notice to my employer. I am stalling to make sure the process of leaving goes in my favour, with full pay due. A colleague has put in a notice, but I am not sure how the arrangements for her leaving are going. On the other hand, I have learned that my employer has posted job ads for positions in our department, so I am assured that they already have a hiring process in place and my late notice should therefore not inconvenience or upset them.

The arrangements to move are proceeding, step by step. I just submitted yet another job application; this one is for online tutoring. It will be a good bridging job as I resettle in Canada and find something more solid and appropriate. I have mainly been putting out feelers for writing and editing positions based in Canada, though. I have also initiated online business in writing and editing but setting up service order pages on two websites. Finally, I have put up the pet birds for adoption and drawn out a list of my household and office possessions for sale.

The process is a little tiring because of the effort and the emotional effects of it.
I get through some tasks related to my move and future income-generating activities, and take a break to find I feel like taking a nap. There is not always the chance for it, because I have been marking student work, leading make-up classes,fielding communications about my offers to sell or give away stuff, and doing all the above-mentioned organizing tasks. I had planned to rest all day today and avoid socializing, but the family who cannot see me any other time requested the dinner engagement tonight, so I must go. Hopefully, I'll nap this afternoon, once I finish the birdcage-washing and housekeeping routine this morning, and then step out for a jog.

Eye of the Optimist-leave 'em wanting more

Posted on November 9, 2016 at 4:53 AM Comments comments ()
I say, leave them wanting more. It is best to make a departure on a high note.

When students want more when you end the class, it is the best all-round applause. You know you are an effective and well-loved teacher when they hang around instead of running out the door at the earliest opportunity. When they sit there staring with disappointment that you are bringing the class time to a close, it gives a teacher a great sense of fulfillment.

I may have mentioned it before, but it is worth mentioning it again. I have been so fortunate as to have  had that experience. I have left eager students still engaged in study and wanting to engage with the teacher behind in the classroom at the end of the period. It happened today. So great was there disorientation and disappointment at me wrapping it up at the usual time, that I thought the clock was wrong or that I had missed something. Mouths opened, they sputtered, "But, but...Are you leaving now? Is it over?" Fantastic!

I should have had the wisdom and gumption to have timed my departures better in the past. That is a well learned lesson after having dragged my heels making a decision, failing to let the signs register in my brain, and hung around too long in various situations, like the stalling in deciding to move out and find a new life in the months before I came to Korea. I came here when I had to, instead of earlier when it would have made my life more comfortable, less embarrassing and desperate, not to mention less stressful and tumultuous. No more! I am going to leave Korea when things are at an all-time high for me, personally--as students and co-workers cry out for me to stay, as the offers to continue to teach here proliferate and become more insistent, as my teaching gets better and better. That's the wise way.

Eye of the Optimist-My Skills

Posted on September 23, 2016 at 9:09 PM Comments comments ()
I sense that today's science might be anti-intellectual. Certainly, an arts degree is not seen as very practical and useful. I, for instance, hold arts degrees, and family members and acquaintances sometimes indicate that they do not understand the skills this education has brought me, through study and related work experience. My education has brought me many new experiences, in which I have attained extensive knowledge and skills.

This attitude really rubs me the wrong way, so I want to set the record straight. I can do that on my own blog. Here I am going to set forth an inventory of my skills  with examples of how I have acquired or used them during the course of my life. The reader will see that I have a wide range of skills.

Before I present my list, may I recommend that you, too, give your skills and related experiences ample thought. It may serve you well to compose and review your own list. 

This is what I teach some of my senior students; in fact, I thought about this topic because I have been teaching a job preparation course to students of a secretarial studies program. We want to help seniors line up employment for the institution's, government's students' and teachers' benefit.


IT: PC and Mac operations; wide variety of experices from admin support to academic work
      word processing; admin support, education materials prep, correspondence
      spreadsheets; educ & other data management, work and meeting schedules and organizational planning 
      desktop publishers; editing, publicity production, news letters; e-pubs prep
      schedulers; meetings, consultations, work, interviewing, calling
      client registrations; air travel & conference check-in, courses
      data collection and coding; research projects, sales management
      editing; Adobe and MS programs, admin support work
      Smartphone apps
      social networking; Facebook, LinkedIN, Reddit, personal blog
      assessment tools; career programs, teaching
      syllabus and grades entry; university teaching
      website design; building my own site, contributions to Wikipedia and Imdb
      radio; recordings, live shows operations

Text:  academic writing; conference proceedings papers, journal articles, newsletters, study, teaching composition classes,
      creative writing; novels, short stories, creative non-fiction, poetry 
      business writing; reports, memos and letters for admin and education work
      editing; reviewing translations, study editing
      wie reading; for pleasure, work and research

Oral: presentations; teaching, conferences, workshop leadership, radio hosting, office reception
      linguistic; 4-skills competency in 3 foreign languages, knowledge of language acquisition and teaching

Interpersonal relations
     communication; teaching, office reception, organizing social events
     body language: presenting (calmness, suitability, openness, power)
     cultural awareness and sensitivity

     change; successful adaptation to changing jobs, locations, times, and roles
     cooperation; coworker, internal, and external relationships
     exposure to various cultures; living and studying abroad; teaching immigrants and foreign students, extensive travel

Social issues and relations; study and practice (research, discussion) in social sciences, education and social action, activism

Knowledge; research, reading, summarizing, analysis, classification and organization, communicating, advising
     multidisciplinary background; language, social science and activism, education,  writing and publishing
     multicultural approach; language study and teaching, travel, participation in international conferences

Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.

A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.

Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.

Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 

Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 

I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.

Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 

On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.

I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 

Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!

I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.

I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.

Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).

 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.

The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.

I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 

Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 

However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.

It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.

My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 

There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.

2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 

I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.

Ed Wise


15 January 2020