Thursday, August 29, 2013

...and so ends the first week of work

When I got back to my place this evening, I was surprised to see that my door was slightly ajar. I immediately wondered whether I had left it that way this afternoon, or whether someone with the means had been snooping inside my studio.

In any event, nothing had been taken, although there was certainly plenty of value. At a guess, I had closed the door when I left, but the door hadn't locked itself properly. I'll have to be more careful from now on. That lock, which is keyless, has proved to be quite temperamental, often going into "lock" mode while the door is still open, thereby forcing me to manually retract the deadbolt so I can close the door. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that I had shut the door today, and that the door had simply never locked itself.

Aside from that bit of creepiness, my work week ended well. My Thursday 3PM class was one of my best—good-humored and responsive, and the students were the most aggressive of all my classes about actually using English. They almost got through the round-robin mixer exercise without any confusion, but in the end, as I did with the other classes, I led them by the nose through the activity's procedure.

After class, I went back upstairs and fiddled with my new computer, trying to print out a map of the walking route from Dongchon Station to the Daegu Immigration Office, which I'll be hitting very early tomorrow morning. I was unable to print straight from Naver, for some reason, so I used a nifty "print to PDF" command (Windows OS is finally catching up with Mac, which has had PDF-printing capability for years) to create a PDF document of the map. I downloaded Adobe Reader, opened the PDF file, and was able to print that. Afterwards, I hunted around the Korean-language Internet for the Alien Registration Application. Found it—or at least some version of it—and filled out most of the sheet on my computer before printing it out and hand-checking the boxes that couldn't be checked electronically. By that point it was late evening, and I still needed to find a place that would take passport photos of me. I wasn't looking forward to taking those pics: I knew I'd be a sweaty mess by the time I reached the photo shop.

I walked off campus in the gentle evening rain and headed for a nearby copy shop first, not knowing whether the shop would have cameras and photo-printing capabilities. The first place I hit, run by an unusually tall, middle-aged ajumma, was a bust. At first, the ajumma told me to try accessing a photo from one of my email file attachments (how she knew I'd have such an attachment, I'll never know). I opened a decent-looking photo, but told the ajumma that we'd have to edit it: the pic showed my bookcases in the background, but passport-photo backgrounds need to be blank. Ultimately, the ajumma suggested that I walk up the street to find a sajin-gwan, a proper photo shop. She cracked open a local phone book and showed me that there were several up the street. I thanked her and left.

Outside, the rain continued and the night was humid. I could feel myself sweating, and I began to wonder why I even bothered using an umbrella: one way or another, I was going to end up soaked. After a half-mile trudge, I found a photo shop and went in. The ajeossi running the place wasn't very talkative; he got right down to business, setting up a camera and a chair and a pull-down background for me. He gave me a wad of toilet paper with which to wipe away my sweat; it helped only a little, as I simply continued to sweat even after wiping down my forehead and scalp. I sat in the proffered chair; the ajeossi took a single picture, then told me I could get up. After a few minutes of clicking keys on a computer and making some large machines chug mysteriously, the ajeossi produced two sets of four photos. He cut them into individual rectangles with some long, evil-looking scissors, then he charged me W12,000 for the set of eight. I winced; I had only wanted a single photo, but I reasoned that if Walmart charges $7.50 for four photos, then W12,000 for eight photos was a reasonable price. Now, however, I've got seven more photos than I need. I'll have to find some way to use them.

I trudged home, found my door open, stripped off my sticky, sweaty vestments, read some AC Doyle (I'm almost done with The Complete Sherlock Holmes), and am now pounding out this blog entry. Tomorrow I wake at 7AM and head off to Immigration soon after; everyone at school told me to get there very early so as to avoid the horrible lines. There's also, apparently, a special line just for folks with an E-1 visa; the Korean staffers don't tell you about it unless you ask, which is mighty bureaucratic of them. Luckily, I've got my fellow expats to help me out with things like that. I ought to have my application for the ARC handed in well before 10AM, at which point I'll likely head back home, write up some lesson plans, do a bit of shopping, then enjoy a nice, long weekend.



John from Daejeon said...

Even if you change your door's electronic code, it can be opened via the manufacture's universal codes that aren't all that hard to get online. My apartment manager/owner was dead set against my installing one until I walked over to his locked door and entered the universal code to open the brand of electronic door lock he had installed on every door in the building. He was pretty upset at how easy it was for me to open it, especially as it is a major South Korean brand of lock that is quite pricey.

Here is a link to a bothersome problem on relying on the ease of electronic door locks. Innocent people going to jail and even losing their jobs, money, and lives should be enough for most people to seriously think about getting rid of them or at least augmenting them with additional security measures.

I'm a big believer in EZ Armor in conjuction with at least one (two is much better) double-keyed deadbolt lock. Anyhow, I sleep much sounder knowing that I alone have the physical keys to my apartment's deadbolts. And if I ever did lose them, drilling the locks out myself isn't all that hard and is much cheaper than hiring a locksmith.

John from Daejeon said...

It was only a matter of time before employers started questioning the validity (and quality) of the educations that universities provide.

From the article: "The problem of grade inflation is something schools and students have been grappling with for years. In an attempt to attract and retain students, some colleges, experts say, are involved in inflating students' grades.

"Universities have transformed from students being acolytes to students being customers of a product," he said. In his study, Rojstaczer said students see an A as a "reward for their purchase."

"In this culture, professors are not only compelled to grade easier, but also to water down course content," he wrote. "Both intellectual rigor and grading standards have weakened.""

I saw this first-hand when my old boss put me in charge of hiring paid interns. I can honestly say that high GPAs and prestigious university rankings are far from accurate in gauging a potential hire's work ethic and value.

Kevin Kim said...

My university, like many others, uses a grading curve. I griped to my team leader that I hate curves; to me, if all the students do "A" work, they should all get A's. If they all do "F" work, they should all get F's. My team leader was sympathetic. He didn't defend the curve, but he hypothesized that the curve was in place precisely to combat grade inflation. That sounds right, even if it doesn't sound just.