Thursday, November 04, 2010

some shit gonna change

I'm very, very inspired by those recent scientific studies showing that the simple addition of a treadmill to one's office routine is enough to get one losing weight. Given the job I now do, a job that is the quintessence of sedentary existence, I've got to be doing more. Since I'm going to be moving soon, one of my initial investments, post-move, will be a decent treadmill. I'll most likely have to jury-rig a desk around the exercise equipment, but the setup doesn't need to be either complicated or pretty, so this doesn't trouble me. With treadmills running(!) anywhere from $500 to over $2000, I have no intention of buying anything like a TrekDesk. Way too expensive.

I know: treadmills represent drudgery, and the job I now do is itself a form of drudgery. Why compound one form of drudgery with another? Well, I guess I'm hoping that a negative times a negative will equal a positive. If I have to spend eight hours a day sitting on my ass, I guarantee my ass is going to get even bigger. But with the treadmill in place, those same eight hours will be spent on my feet, with ass-shrinkage as a major side effect. I say that's a good thing. A very good thing.

That's not the only big change coming. Once I'm in place and have earned a bit of cash, I'm hoping to concentrate on learning more about web design, then creating a page for my very own school (still no idea what to call it). One thing working for ETS has brought home to me is that I despise working for other people. In Korea, it wasn't such a big deal; I was enjoying myself, and like any academically-minded individual, I felt good being part of a respectable institution. I belonged, like a monk in a monastery. But now, with ETS, every single move I make on the computer is monitored by a supervisor who can see my online activity. Not that I'm against the concept of being seen to be on task throughout the work day, but I am against the idea of someone constantly looking over my shoulder. That's gonna change. Right now, the privatization of learning-- especially multimedia, videoconference-style learning-- is a growing trend in America, and for once I'd like to be in the avant-garde. So I'll work with ETS a few months while I build my website up, then unleash myself on the world.

It's going to mean hard work, but I'm thinking that the payoff may make the project worthwhile: I get to dictate my own schedule; I get to decide what I'm teaching and how; I call the shots. With Skype and one of those synched-up Ko-Am bank accounts, I could teach Korean students in the morning (it'd be evening in Korea) and American students in the afternoon and early evening.

What subjects? you ask. Quite a few, I'd say: basic English composition, ESL, SAT prep, TOEFL prep, Korean 1 (certainly not anything higher than that), math up to Algebra 2, all levels of French, basic drawing/painting, basic cooking, basic theater arts, and of course-- religious studies: philosophy of religion, an introduction to religious studies, religious diversity, world religions, comparative scripture, East Asian spirituality, religion and film, etc. I'd be treating religious studies a bit differently from the other courses: it wouldn't be private tutoring so much as a formal, academic class, as if students were auditing a real college course, with all that that implies: actual research papers, actual tests, actual intensive readings and discussions and independent research.

I'd like to live in a world where I determine my own vacation time, take classes of my own thanks to the money I've earned for myself, then turn around and pass those class-acquired skills along in my own classes. It may seem as if I'm crowning myself king, but that's what becoming one's own boss means: it's a self-blessing, like that river scene in Robert Duvall's amazing labor of love, "The Apostle." I don't look forward to all the paperwork and nitty-gritty details-- website maintenance, accounting, marketing, etc.-- but I'm old enough, now, to understand that details matter, and that it's better to try to take pleasure in them than to be eternally frustrated by them.

If I don't have a viable business up and running in two years... I'll go back to Korea, hat in hand, and pick up where I left off. That wasn't a bad life, and I'd be happy to return to it. In the meantime, this new project, this new vision of the future, excites me.



Charles said...

Best of luck. That's an ambitious plan, but no sense in aiming low, right?

Good luck with the website, by the way. My brother runs his own business, and I have been working with him on a new website. Holy crap is it complex. He handles the basic markup (HTML) and the design (both visual and structural), and I'm doing the coding (mostly Javascript, with some PHP thrown in for good measure).

Building a business website is no small task, I'll say that much.

(Todays word verification...

epicism (n.) - the idea that everything one does must be epic; no doing things half-hearted, half-baked, or half-assed.

It's like the word was coined just for this post...)

Anonymous said...

I'm laying a small personal bet with myself that while you'll find the web design complex and a major learning curve, coming up withe the necessary content for your business will be even more time-consuming. You can tell me later who wins, me or me :-)


Kevin Kim said...


Uh... thanks for the encouragement?


Gotta aim high. My buddy Dominique reminded me that I'm "encore jeune"-- still young. Lots of life yet to live.


Charles said...

'My buddy Dominique reminded me that I'm "encore jeune"-- still young. Lots of life yet to live.'

Hear, hear!

Sperwer said...

I recommend a rowing machine instead of a (d)read machine. Better all around exercise because of the upper body engagement.

Kevin Kim said...


I agree completely, but since I have to stare at a computer screen while I'm rating essays, I'm not sure a rowing machine will work (are there "rowing machine desks" out there?). The treadmill office concept involves walking at a rate of about 1 or 1.5mph for 8 hours. Imagine doing a reaaaallllllyyyy sssssllllooooowwww 12 miles.


Sperwer said...


I guess I failed the reading comprehension test. LOL.

IMHO, though, I think you'll do better by NOT trying to multitask the exercise and doing briefer, much more intense exercise sessions. That will also enable you to have your mind engaged in the exercise, which is not only more efficient relative to your goals, but much healthier in general because of the reconnection of the (conscious) mind-body nexus (to speak loosely and metaphorically), which not only produces a much better stress reduction and relaxation response but also promotes the sort of awareness that facilitates making the other lifestyle changes that enable one to sustain the positive results that the elimination of (mere) symptoms,e.g., overweight, through exercise effects.