Eye of the Optimist-Ode to Abelard

Posted on April 11, 2015 at 10:39 PM Comments comments (30)
Ode to Abelard

Oh, how I love thee!
-too many ways to count
It is not your beauty alone
And I don't want to say, "I own"
No, it is because you are there
But never in my hair

We have drawn our boundaries
And they we respect
We each have our space
And so live in grace
He does his thing,
And I do mine
Yet our hearts e'er do entwine
Precious moments we do share
We pay attention and care

He's a positive force, whatever the weather
What's more, we have our meals together
Though tastes may differ 
He does not mind if I'm the breadwinner,
And he is always there when I'm home for dinner
He greets me with his song
For which all day I long
I don't care if he is shorter
And has not built a career
Sure, I do most of the chores
But he never bores
His antics are quite entertaining
And his hygiene he's always maintaining
He's keen on fitness, though addicted to seed
Still, he gives me all that I need
He sings to me in the morning when I get up
And at end of day when all is set up
He sticks to his routine, and takes early rest
After satisfying meal
Tranquil evening 
He never wears me down with gripes
I never tire of his extraordinary pipes
To boot, he sure knows how to dress
Guests, he never fails to impress
Yes, he plays around a lot, but it's just pure fun
It's all platonic; I'm sure he won't hurt anyone

I love thee for all the above
You're here with me purely for love.

Eye of the Optimist-having a pet

Posted on April 4, 2015 at 5:16 AM Comments comments (0)
Though I am an animal lover, I have only kept a pet rice paddy fighting fish at home before. It had a very short life span, which a neighbour abruptly shortened while I was away one weekend and took her job of fish care so seriously that she used toxic detergents to clean out the fish bowl because algae had gathered (-a thing I specifically told her not to do. Yeah, that woman had "issues".) 

Sure, there were family pets over the childhood years: two cats and a dog. With or without children, however, I personally thought it was not good for the pets and very selfish and wasteful of the humans to indulge in pet keeping at home. Being single for a lot of my life, I must also say that keep pets seemed like an unnecessary and foolish expense. Anyway, most homes do not have adequate space for dogs, for instance, and most people do not give more social animals like dogs enough opportunity for social interaction with their own kind, not to mention exercise. They may be neglected, though people can drive pets to become highly neurotic with smothering and too much human attention. Furthermore, pets usually do not get enough exercise and are kept too confined. Then there are the freaks who indulged in buying "exotic pets" like wild cats and pigs, which they could not look after properly, of course, and often escaped or were released into human society once they became too big, too expensive and too troublesome to keep. If they were not injured by their animal, it may have been injured itself by abandoned, or it might have harmed humans and other animals out in society. Did you know that there are more feral endangered animals living in the US than all the endangered wild animals all tolled? Yeah, reports of panthers, crocodiles turning up in backyards, city streets and parks keep coming in. Apparently, there are deformities and mutations, as well as distemper among some of these strange beasts.

Despite all these misgivings, I have always dreamed of owning a bird. Now I have a tiny Gouldian Finch. He is utterly delightful and very pretty. He whistles, sings, and plays. I found as large a cage as I could get and fit into my one room, and it adjoins a smaller cage. Regardless of his cage size, he is let out into the room a few days a week. He is very well behaved and clean. With one favourite perch in an ideal location atop the inner door sill of a sliding inner door, what little mess he makes stays in one place. He is not like a little mammal, which would run amok getting into little dangerous dark places, tearing and chewing at things, climbing on furniture and getting into human food. No, he just flies a few times back and forth across the room, hanging out on the main perch, but landing very briefly at 2 or three high locations in the room. He does not seem motivated to squeeze into little places he shouldn't be in. He has not even gone into the bathroom, as far as I know, though the door has often been left open to extend his flying space. No, we know our roles and our places in this household. He sticks to his bird things and bird places, and I stick to my human things in my human space. 

Until today, it was a job catching him to put him back in his cage in the evening sometimes. When he gets sleepy, he becomes passive, and it is easy to quickly grab him with a hand and transport him to the cage. However, there have been times when he still energetic, and pursuing him has made him playfully engaged in a game of bird and human. Today, however, things changed. He finally went back into the cage on his own volition and power. That is because I resisted the maternal temptation to leave food and water for him up on his door sill perch. Perhaps the bigger cage and the branches I laid atop it made the prospect much more attractive. Whatever his motivation, I returned home after having let him out of the cage around 9:30 in the mid-afternoon to find him feeding in side the cage

Another new life experience: having a pet. Having the little tyke around is a great source of joy. He sings to me each day, and in return I keep him well fed, warm and amused. It is not difficult looking after him. I am around for at least part of the day, most days, and he has things to do when I am not there.

I am thinking about whether to find him a bird companion, perhaps one of his kind, but the experts say this type of bird does not suffer alone. It can make its life more interesting to have company. I am concerned about compatibility, and how I could manage two of them.

Anyway, I can say that it has been an uplifting experience to have such a fine and beautiful little creature to be my companion. I am glad and grateful he's with me.

Eye of an Optimist-stepping into 2015

Posted on January 1, 2015 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (1)
2015 GOALS

Suspend charitable contributions
No more volunteering
No more academic involvements outside the requirements of my current job
Do not re-apply to Canada Council
Find a lover
Write a collection of short stories
Write the blog “Eye of an Optimist”
Travel to Canada for 3-4 weeks in the summer
Continue the regular fitness routines
My goals for the next ten years are to strengthen my financial base, acquire long term housing in Canada, resettle in Canada, receive pension benefits from Canada, be in a loving partnership, develop sideline income, become a full-time professional and properly published writer, know another language or two, travel (possibly through volunteering), paint, and maintain good health and fitness.

The five-year goals are getting a writer’s grant for the first time, having steady and challenging work with steady and extended income (including revenue from writing), passing a TOPIK (Korean test), visiting to two new countries, continuing my fitness regime, accumulating $70,000 more in savings, starting to learn a fifth language in three years’ time, finishing and at least three more completed books, concluding my career as a full-time English teacher, and moving out of Korea.

Without any substantial response to my job search in the fall of 2014, I see no need to continue to develop my resume/CV. Therefore, I am quitting all academic involvement outside the demands of my employment. I am also suspending all volunteer work and charitable donations indefinitely for the sake of my personal financial security. I have given enough all my life, despite my low and often erratic income, and my time at those endeavours is done. It is time to leave it to younger people. For the sake of my sanity, I plan to move to better lodgings. Since that may entail paying some amount for housing out of my own pocket, I want to reduce other expenses such as charity giving, volunteer and academic stuff, and travel at least for this year and probably for the next. Because I learned that my residence abroad and possibly some outstanding tax returns disqualified me from being considered as a grant recipient by the Canada Council of the Arts for my writing, there is no point to applying again for any grant to the Canada Council any time soon. However, I shall continue writing. Since I wrote a couple of short stories right after Christmas, I’ll continue making short stories and produce an entire collection. I have also started the “Eye of an Optimist” blog as a way to continue my work on positive thinking and self-improvement. Further to those writing projects, I want to work on my fourth novel, the unnamed, plotless thing that started out as an attempt at sci-fi writing.

How did day one of 2015 go? I have a lover. Yes! I asked a friend to join me at a NYE party, and he came, apparently with an agenda. I thought, "Why the heck not? It's New Year's Eve, he's nice, and I deserve it." He's quite a bit younger but really interesting. Since I had booked a motel room near the place of the party, the stage was set and onto it we stumbled, in the dark. I can cross one item off my list of goals for 2015 already!

Another turn of events was an encounter with a colleague last night at the party who knows someone who could be a candidate as my room mate. There is a large apartment in the offing, at special terms, but I need a room mate to fill the space and offset the costs to me personally. If I have a room mate, I have an apartment. Fingers are crossed.

An Optimist's Eye (project 2015): the seed is planted.

Posted on December 22, 2014 at 6:39 AM Comments comments (0)
I have started to continue blogging. I want to continue developing and sharing my positive attitude, so I have decided to create the "An Optimist's Eye" project for 2015. I start the New (Julian calendar) Year afresh with this project. I plan to write a few times a month and see what grows from the writing. 

Meanwhile, the completed fourth volume of "A Year of Living Positively" has been uploaded, though in crude form, to my Smashwords profile. I may review that work and come up with some further reflections in the form of a comprehensive book using some of the posts. I may just let it be as it is now. For now, it is brewing on a back burner.

I am a natural born optimist. The skeptics have, naturally on their part, been skeptical of this optimism, or puzzled at my constant state of happiness, despite all my life obstacles and traumas. It's been seen as a weakness. They have often supposed that I was not getting something.

The skeptics have accused me of idealism. Yes, that is a fair criticism. 

What is idealism? It is subscribing to a set of ideals, which are values and goals. The Google dictionary defines ideals this way: a standard of perfection; a principle to be aimed at ("tolerance and freedom, the liberal ideals"). An idealist, then, is broadly understood to be a perfectionist, and therefore regarded by many as a fool.

Let's pursue that logic and look at the implications of labeling an optimist a perfectionist. It is not logical that an optimist is necessarily a person seeking perfection. An optimist sees benefits, advantages and goodness in most situations. An optimist sees a problem as an opportunity to make things better. An optimism has hope and takes action to change the situation. That does not mean insisting that everything be perfect. That does not imply seeking perfect relationships and a perfect way of life. In fact, optimism means accepting imperfections, knowing that problems are part of life, but dealing with it and remaining positive about them, that is to say happy. It just means striving to be better and to change things for the better. Only someone with a negative outlook would accept problems and suffer or let suffering happen without considering other options or searching for solutions. The pessimist would let himself and others get or stay sick, live a lower quality life, accept oppression and injustice. The pessimist does not believe that one can accept problems and be content because a pessimist must feel dejected by every problem. Who is really the foolish one, I ask? 

The most remarkable thing is a pessimist who fights to oppose optimism and blocks positive change. Such a creature does exist, I am afraid to say, and not in small numbers. Indeed, cynicism and darkness abound, these days. Fear and aggression are thriving and multiplying in this climate as major issues for which there are solutions crying out to be heard and applied, are festering and  causing widespread degradation and tragedy, quite needlessly because the pessimists just do not want to believe and try.

Efforts must be made to sow and cultivate optimism. I hope to help with that task by continuing this new blog.

A Year of Living Positively-Day 357

Posted on December 13, 2014 at 6:11 AM Comments comments (0)
This is in reality the 363rd entry.

It is the day after my birthday. I have a little red eye.
Though small in numbers, the party was fine. We celebrated at a natural spring water brewery restaurant just a ways south of here in the city. I did not bathe in the spa, after all. I thought it would make me sleepy and in the wrong mood for a boisterous tavern with live music and dancing. Instead, I had gone for a regular workout at the campus gym in the afternoon. No-one available to have dinner prior to meeting at the tavern, I just had a snack at home and slowly prepared to go out for a rowdy evening.
My new friend from Changwon, the school teacher whom I met at S’ Hawaiin theme party in November showed up. He is a party animal in the best sense of the word. He loves dancing and can really move! He brought me a gift of chocolate and a cake, though I barely knew him before. He’s a thoughtful and considerate person. It is customary for the band to sing happy birthday and the staff to light the candles there, so he arranged for that to happen. I am sure he is single though he appears to be in his late 40s, and I suspect he is gay. Rats.
One of my colleagues, a married guy with a teen-aged daughter, came along so as to escape domestic routine and be with some weiguks for awhile. He said an extraordinary thing: his wife does not like to be with foreigners. Hm. It has me wondering about that marriage.
Besides those two, B plus a hiking buddy joined us. We really had a great time snacking, talking, listening to the band, and watching the crowds living it up at rows and rows of tables in the great open room. The band plays pop rock in mostly English and Korean, though they are largely from Bulgaria and sometimes break out in a Russian or Bulgarian song. The draw the crowds and get them dancing. We got up a few times to dance together. It is mostly group dancing rather than partner dancing. Everyone is friendly. The place as a great atmosphere and is unlike most bars and night clubs.
I had more birthday greetings than any other time in my life, I think, which demonstrates the cosmic power of the universe this particular month, I guess. Heh-heh. Over Facebook, I received many wishes. Of course, many were from the 20-some people I had invited to this party but some were from overseas.
I need to prepare to lead this afternoon’s local gathering of Korea TESOL. We have one guest speaker. In the second hour, we will host a little Christmas shindig. I have to lead a little sing-a-long.
I enjoyed the Christmas party but I have to say that it is a relief to be done with it. It went pretty much as planned. We drew a good sized gathering and there was a friendly and fun atmosphere as we went through the singing, snacking, trivia games and a gift exchange. Everyone responded well to the singing and requested an extra song. Few participants brought anything to exchange so it was good planning on our part to have foreseen that likelihood and made sure to have enough gifts on hand.
Personally, I ended up with a book and a package of tea candles. Actually, I “stole” it; the gift exchange system allowed for “thefts” of gifts from the original recipients. The guy I stole from ended up with better books, I believe. The book I got will be useful for my train ride tomorrow, and regular commutes to the classes where I’ll be subbing.
Our speaker went overtime and I had to signal him to wrap it up; he had way too much material. He is actually not so experienced a presenter, and has only worked for two years teaching on the topic of the day, writing. Very nice fellow, though too talkative. Like many guys, he dominated the dinner time conversation. We went to an American style diner after the party and were so pleased with it that we plan to return, even if burgers are not the healthiest fare.
The rapport with the other volunteers of the Chapter seems to have warmed back up and the two women with whom there was tension last month were being friendly. I guess cosmic powers are working on them. One of them even invited me to her Christmas eve party; I don’t know about going.
Though I am feeling ragged after last night’s festivities, I am ending this project on a positive note. My days are filled with celebration, good company and positive developments on many fronts.

I must take the train to go to the national meeting in Seoul tomorrow. One of the women from the local Chapter will be there, as well as the guy who presented today. by the way. Anyway, I will be too tied up with that duty, and the business of taking notes, networking and contributing to the discussion that I shall not be able to work on the blog tomorrow. That final entry will be delayed by at least a day. Our meeting will be an assessment of the 30 years of the organization’s history, which seems to be a fitting activity for this point in my present life.

A Year of Living Positively-Day 354

Posted on December 9, 2014 at 7:11 PM Comments comments (0)
Number 354 but actually the 360th post.
I saw an interesting movie yesterday and it pertains to our discussion here. It is a fictional drama intended for spiritual intervention and self-improvement, without being frankly Christian. The title is “The Ultimate Gift” (1999) based on the novel by Jim Stovall.
One reviewer summed up the messages in this story this way. Life is how you live it, not how you consume it. Beware materialism and its dangers. Think outside yourself. In seeking happiness, seek fulfillment. Stress the importance of relationships. Give and engage in philanthropy when you can.
The plot goes like this. An old man passes away. He happens to have gotten extremely wealthy from his business in the oil industry. When the will is about to be read, greedy family members and associates eagerly anticipate great fortunes to be turned over to them, but are disappointed with their inheritance. The will holds back most of the wealth. Instead, it requests that the estranged grandson carry out several mysterious tasks. The grandson has been spoiled and lived a luxurious life without having to work, so he expects a lot to be given for him. However, his father died young and he has had a bad relationship with his grandfather, so he only has scorn for his grandfather’s passing and does not expect to receive a nickel from him. Rather, he can live off his allowance his mother provides.
A lawyer who was a close friend o the deceased acts as the executor and calls upon the grandson to follow the instructions left on a video tape by the grandfather. The young man, 24 years old, is finally persuaded to watch the video, which makes a series of requests called “gifts” left by the old man. The grandson finds that his mother has been made to cooperate with the lawyer and obey her former father-in-law’s wishes. She takes away a luxurious apartment, fancy car and monthly income from her son so that he is forced to find a way to survive on his own. In short, he as to work and learn to appreciate the value of money. Also, he is forced to face the reality when he finds out that none of his friends are supportive; rather, they are only interested in his wealth and drop him when he needs help. He must find true friends to satisfy the requirements of the old man’s orders, and encounters a single mother and her chronically ill daughter. A true friendship develops and he tries to help the mother and daughter. On Christmas, he arranges a special day for the girl to enjoy. He has to learn a lot of things and accept the challenges of problems. On one task, he is sent away to the place in South America where his adventurous father passed away during some idealist project serving a remote community that cost him his life. The son learns about the project, his father’s role in the community, his broken relationship with the grandfather, the hardships he endured and the good works he did without any monetary return. He gets into a jam in South America after some paramilitary capture him and another man and torture them, threatening them with execution. The young guy manages to escape and rescue his companion, bringing him to safety. Once that obstacles is overcome, our main character is granted $100,000,000. Without being asked, he uses the money to develop a non-profit project to construct a treatment center and hospice for terminally ill children, fulfilling a dream, though he thinks it is the dream of others and not himself. He has fallen in love with the single mother and changed his attitude completely, so he does not expect any further rewards.
In all, there are twelve such “gifts.” They are aspects of life that the grandfather counsels people to be conscious of and cherish. I list them here.
The day
Of all the items named in this list, I appreciate four of them the most. It is remarkable that the list starts out with work, with money subordinated to it. Of course, this is consistent with the so-called Protestant work-ethic of capitalist, especially American capitalist, society. Still, it is quite significant, for starting the list with work means that we should earn rewards, and appreciate labor and its production. We should neither take the people who do labor for granted nor the things that they produce. I like that. Closely tied to work is learning and problem-solving, naturally. Our lives are richer when we deliberately engage in learning, and put the learning to good use solving important problems—especially the problems of society, and not just one’s personal or individual problems. Finally, I really like appreciation for the value of the day on this list. Be grateful and appreciate every day of life you get, and be aware of its riches and splendor that it gives us.
The weakness of this story is that it is put in the context of a family of extreme wealth. It is incredible that there is such a society where some people are so wealthy they have to be reminded to be nice. They have to be reminded of the context of reality. They have lost the kinds of traditions and morality that curtail excesses. Okay, the story needs drama and excitement to sell. It cannot be political, so it does not raise questions about how extreme wealth is acquired. I mean, there is much to be criticized about the oil industry alone, never mind the whole concept of “capital,” especially capital made from the financial sectors. In reality, very rich people can be philanthropic, love their wives and children, helpful to communities, and such, but they are supporting socially harmful policies and wars.

Anyway, I am satisfied with the principles and attitude toward life that is presented in the movie. I have not read the book, so I cannot properly comment on it.

A Year of Living Positively-Day 349

Posted on December 5, 2014 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)
 just returned from a class party to celebrate the end of the semester. It really went very well. As this group is composed of some older students who are near 30 years old, like some worldly guys who have been in the army and traveled abroad, I decided that it would be appropriate to enjoy the festivities in a local pub near the campus. Besides, it was my last class of the week, happening on Friday afternoon, and enough of them communicate well enough in English for me to party with them. Drinking with bar snacks on a Friday after work or class is a normal thing to do, a very Korean thing. They were therefore most enthusiastic about the prospect, so all ten of this group turned up. After some weeks with some tension among the competitive alpha males in this particular class, this party today established some lasting solidarity among them. It was good to see.
I have never invited a class to go to a tavern before. I usually take a class to a café and treat them to some cake and whatnot if we go off campus. With respect to the other classes, actually, I only played a classic comical film and fed them some popcorn in class. I had already treated many of these students to café treats once before, and many of them joined me to see film festival fare in October during this semester. These are generally happy occasions about which students generally feel excited and glad to be with me. I have gone out for a meal with some students, and bought food for them if the group has been small enough. Mostly, though, I have only dined with the civic employees classes, not the regular students. I have never gone out with students expressly to drink.
This outing turned out to work perfectly well. It was a lot of fun. I paid for two 3,000cc sized pitchers of local lager, plus two plates of French fries. The students continued to order pitchers of beer, and bought some dried fish and squid, a common bar food that I like. I think there were probably five or six pitchers of Cass brand beer consumed in all, and it came with some corn chips, popcorn and cheese crisps. They surprised me by bringing in a birthday cake for me from a bakery down the street. (I had wondered where two of them had disappeared to.) It was a light cake with fruit. They sang “happy birthday” to me after presenting it, and we all made several toasts throughout the affair.

We also played some drinking number and word games, where sequences of numbers or words are made, and anyone who makes a mistake has to drink at least half a glass worth of brew. I cannot do that, though. When I fumbled, I only took a few gulps. Once, I passed the task onto another person, in exchange for a favour. They asked me to sing. That was an easy thing. I have a few songs up my sleeve from the old days.

We stayed well beyond the normal class period and did not break it up until 5:45. They went on to carry on drinking, but I cannot keep up with that so I said “good night” and went home (across the street). They each wanted a hug from me. That was sweet—the icing on the cake!

By now, I can still feel a buzz. I had around five six-ounce glasses of beer. I am starting to feel sleepy already, but I am having a little red wine regardless.

A Year of Living Positively-Day 344

Posted on November 29, 2014 at 2:32 AM Comments comments (0)
I should be reflecting more on this final volume’s theme, social change. Well, that is the basic idea behind a positive thinking approach to living.
The point is to improve one’s self, and thereby one’s social conditions and social environment, including the relations with others and the quality of community. One could apply any one of many philosophies or religions to this general concept of positive thinking. There are many aspects of it: morality, health, communal peace, personal achievement, self-actualization, responsibility, personal empowerment, strategic career and personal planning, aesthetic satisfaction, efficiency, benevolence, financial wisdom and accomplishment, and so on and so on. It is a perspective that can allow one to feel better about life and people, reach higher stages of fulfillment and wisdom, be more satisfied and accepting, and live more richly.
While frustrations, disappointments and conflicts are bound to occur despite the work to self-improve and view life more positively, a positive thinking outlook can help one find tools and methods by which to respond to life’s ups and downs and encounters with a wide range of different people. You know better what the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and the situation are, as a positive thinker. It thereby can help one have more control over one’s own emotions and decisions because it raises one’s consciousness about the riches and dynamics of life and people and puts the mind in gear to seek solutions and positive outcomes rather than dwelling too much on the past and problems or sources of unhappiness. That is, it gears one up for making change. Positive changes in one person have a ripple effect upon others and one’s social environment, and can even lead to social changes. Indeed, a person with a positive mindset would probably feel more willing to devote time and energy into to trying to make a positive change in the community, and that person is more likely to get a positive reception because such a person is bound to make more people feel better, comfortable and inspired.
As I keep saying, positive thinking is not a strategy intended to secure people in their own isolated bubbles. Neither is it intended to smooth over or ignore problems and relationship with the community. Rather, it is about improvement, which is progress in a general sense, without invoking the liberal economist’s connotation of individual progress for increased production and wealth. No, it is not about that kind of “free market” liberation. Instead, it is about personal liberation through building awareness and learning how to pilot one’s life and understand the world better.
As this project, “A Year of Living Positively,” winds down, I am reviewing the usefulness and effectiveness of positive thinking in my case. It has equipped me to get more out of life. It has helped to make me wiser and stronger. I have learned to pick my company better, manage working and personal relationships better, even in rough times and with difficult personalities or situations. It has helped me to see myself within the context of the bigger picture more consistently. It has helped me to know myself better, and, moreover, to acknowledge my own successes, however small, when I may have overlooked them, and to see the positive aspects in the people and conditions around me more consistently and more clearly. The awareness of success and positive energies around me have given me satisfaction and joy more often, I think, than I would have felt like that had I not adopted a more thought-out positive approach to life.
There are rewarding outcomes to the project. For instance, the relationship with my students is generally quite beautiful, and I feel stronger, more capable, more satisfied and rewarded by my work all the time. I can better see where I am at in my career and at this stage of life, and I have discovered more options for my future. I have short and long term goals. I have become more creative and productive, as the writing and publishing shows. Whereas I was tending to feel like I was just waiting for the remaining years of my life to erode away prior to the start of this blog, I have come to see that life holds many more wonders and possibilities for me, even at this latish stage. I can see that there are more things I can accomplish and experience. Since taking up this project, I have felt more inspired, creative, capable, open, secure, confident, knowledgeable, rewarded, accomplished, energized, fit, liked and appreciated.
In addition, the writing process has turned out to be invaluable. Not only do reading and thinking about positive thinking help, but writing out thoughts and documenting the evolution of an attitude of positive thinking and its results serve ones’ rounded personal growth and enlightenment. You can track and measure the process. You can push your mind to learn and realize more.
Let me recap, again, my main achievements since I began writing this blog. I have
- written daily for over 340 days
- studied and learned positive thinking
- created an autobiography
- published the autobiography online
- received thousands of more views of my website as a result of this blog (>520 views one day around 10 days ago, as a matter of fact)
- created a concrete legacy by writing and publishing
- been selected to a poetry society to publish a poem online
- written at least five new poems
- been selected and had some of my published works bought by the Simon Fraser University Library
- found more readers for my short stories, “Impressing Heaven” at the conference in Italy
- been invited to write a paper on journal writing for the published conference proceedings
- traveled to Florence, Italy, at long last
- gotten many good reviews of my teaching by students and colleagues
- been asked to represent teachers locally in my professional development organization
- made contributions to organizing and building the local professional development group
- been offered a job interview to work at a university in Japan next year
- been offered jobs as a fall-winter substitute, twice
- represented the South Korea groups at an international committee meeting of the ILPS
- helped plan the ILPS Peace Solidarity Tour
- gone on the ILPS Peace Solidarity Tour in Japan in August
- helped to find and make more allies for the ILPS work
- built more financial savings and invested a large portion in physical assets
- been swimming or hiking throughout the year
- gotten and stayed more fit, especially by going to the gym regularly for six months
- gained some more friends
- enjoyed a little romantic interest
- gotten better at perceiving toxic relationships and gained distance from toxic relationships
- moved into a new apartment and a new office
- made advances in speaking Korean (finished three levels of a course)

As of next week, I’ll have finished teaching classes for another full academic year. The employer is currently talking to me about a two-year contract to start in March, 2015.

A Year of Living Positively-Day 336

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 5:53 AM Comments comments (0)
I do not know what did it, but something woke me up at 4:30 in the morning. I never got back to sleep. I felt okay, considering. I did the usual stuff, and used the time to wash and style my hair better than most days, and the hair looked pretty good today. (I’ll have to use the same technique next time.) I just donned black jeans and a suit jacket and took off for work a bit early—two hours before my first class—in order to photocopy a quiz in time. I was lucky and found a chance to do the large quantity of copies between other staff with big stacks of papers to produce.
The only negative experience was the communications with the KOTESOL Chapter person who likes to fight me on nearly everything. Of course, she had sent me a long list of objections to work I had recently shared, and she had gotten her best friend, another officer, to echo her protests and nag me further. I had anticipated such stuff. This woman must be full of fear and anxiety. I know better to take it personally. Rather, I think she is the type to buck authority and badger persons of authority. She did not used to be so much like this with me; it has only been since I took on the title of Chapter President that her constant protesting to me started. It’s getting so I want to avoid her and her communications.
I consulted the national president and he agrees with me on that point. I sought his advice about how to handle this situation. He commented that it is typical behavior with presidents of chapters and national officers. Since the main issue of contention has been membership and the question on membership how wide to open our doors to nonmembers, I also sought his opinion. It turns out that there is no policy or common practice on this matter, or any matter for no national policies document or handbook exists at the national level. Also, he said that Chapters in various regions tend to stay isolated and they do not communicate much with the national body.
Anyway, our national Prez made a suggestion to resolve our particular problems. What we do depends on our financial situation, and our pleasure. He thought advertising membership more frequently and widely is best. As for our spring event, he thought we should allow them in but charge them more. That’s fine, and I passed on the suggestion to our group. I just don’t want individuals in our group telling people they don’t have to join all the time, as they have been doing over the past months. I’d like to hear more arguments for membership than against it.
I don’t want to bring it up at our meeting on Sunday, but I want to find a way to douse all the negativity from the one or two people in our group. I want to feel more comfortable with them. I want them to express their opinions in a softer and more constructive way instead of just reacting to me and other stuff.

Anyway, I have sloughed that stuff off for the time being. Even though I am mentioning it here, I am relaxed and looking forward to joining my friend at his Hawaii themed birthday party tomorrow. I’m all set.

A Year of Living Positively-Day 326

Posted on November 11, 2014 at 6:27 PM Comments comments (0)
It seems I was busy all day, a long day. In the morning, I was home but there were matters to take care of over email. One of the local Chapter active members is fretting and buzzing about. She did not attend the meeting on Sunday and now, seeing our notes about it, is anxious and reacting to some of our decisions. She got buzzing online and wrote some text, ad-hoc and out of hand, with something that should be addressed after the new council is established next week. She says she doesn’t “know what’s going on” so texts like guidelines have to be written down, but she habitually fights against formal organization. I called her after work tonight to talk with her about membership because she has been actively undermining membership for months and she communicated that she thought anybody regardless of membership could and should attend the annual business meeting. This attitude is damaging for our membership is in decline, as it turns out. Actually, nobody in our Chapter knows who our members are, or how many and it is because of this attitude. She has been actively discouraging membership and lead an inner circle of peers to take up that line. I think she has an anti-formality, anti-authority kind of outlook in addition to some misconceptions. She says she mistrusts the national leadership, without taking into account that it is mostly the Chapters that make it up. I think she distrusts me simply because of my current title as President. Also, she disregards business communications. For instance, I have sent out numerous notes of meetings whish she apparently has never read. Also, she has not read national documents that are available on the website. Actually, she undermines the whole organization by voicing opposition to the organization. Instead of sharing her views through organization communications, she carries on sideline chats and gossip with members and associates and initiates campaigns like deliberately not encouraging membership and rejecting the national council. This woman of whom I speak is the sole candidate for Vice-President, yet she is not very supportive of me or the organization. Part of the reason is inexperience and a weak grasp of common concepts of formal organizations. If she’d been active in a labour union, or student’s association, or charity, she would know, but she does not. Neither do her friends within the active body of our Chapter. They all want things spelled out in terms of tasks, but do not appreciate function and form very well. I hope that bringing new people on board, people with more experience and more respect for formal processes and membership, will help turn things around. The organization cannot survive if it is regarded as a social club or community service. The freeloaders have to be made to join or go away. The organization of the chapter has to be shored up.

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