Me and Kyunglim in Bundang, Near Dancheon (a river)
April 12, 2009: UPDATE 2
Well, about an hour ago, I returned from Bundang, where I met Kyunglim, a woman I'd known from a long time ago.

The last time I saw Kyunglim was in October, 2005, on the Metro in Northern Virginia. She actually talked to me first, because I was studying a Korean textbook. That was my very first day of Korean class, ever.

She had given me her e-mail address and we had kept in occasional touch via MSN for about 3.5 years.

Finally, we got around to meeting! It was fun. We went and had omeuraiseu (fusion omelette) and went to a coffee shop, as well as Dancheon (a relatively scenic river, at least by Seoul standards).

Kyunglim used to live in Northern Virginia, which is my hometown. She was there for language study, and hoped to work there as well, but just like me, ran into the visa issues in which she could get a working visa, but not for the kind of work she wanted to do (she's an artist). So she came back to Korea.

Anyways, she taught me an interesting word. The word for "gnat" in Korean is "harusari." The etymology is literally "one day life," because they only live for one day (haru means "one day" and sari means "life").

I'm glad we could meet again. She says my face has gotten much cleaner from when I was a teenager. She's looking pretty good herself!

Anyways, here are some more pictures of our outing, for my readers' enjoyment:

Scenery at Dancheon

Me at Dancheon


Sunny, Someone Else's "Cup Size" Dog

This is a picture of Pikachu that I painted yesterday with watercolors. I will not explain why I did this, only that it turned out pretty well. :-)

This is a photo of my first Level 7 class, complete with Teacher Jeon, taken the day before yesterday. She was walking around campus and gradually found several of our students from Level 7, and we had a spontaneous picnic and got some pictures.
April 12, 2009
Today I recorded two Japanese dialogues with my partner, Rebecca Chalk. The second one was hilarious, because we had just a normal Japanese dialogue up until the ending part, when I was like "let me ask Mr. Yoshimoto" and then I put on Hwangdae and he gave this lengthy spiel in his native Japanese. Which will be pretty funny for the teacher, I'd imagine, because she's totally not going to expect a Japanese native to actually appear in our dialogue until she hears it.

As for other news, I'm meeting Kyunglim in Seohyeon today. I have not seen Kyunglim in close to four years. On the first day of Korean Level 1 in Fairfax County, I received my textbook, and was doing my homework at the D.C. Metro. And Kyunglim came up to me and started asking me questions. She was fascinated with this American guy studying Korean in the middle of the D.C. area. We haven't met for almost four years, but the other day, we got in contact and decided to meet. So expect pictures of that.

25-Hour-a-Day News
We are opening a criminal investigation for Mr. 000, who secretly puts down dirty dishes and goes

PS. For the love of God, don't soak them.
If you fall under suspicion, "it wasn't that I didn't do them, I was soaking them for later," right?!
What kind of "just a second" is the next day?!?!

April 10, 2009
Ever heard of the site Well, I decided to make some submissions to that site. So keep an eye out on there. I translated my building attendant's passive-aggressive notes that she sticks all over the walls.

Access them here. Or, you can click on "Photo Essays" and it's near the top.

The Lincoln Memorial (taken by me)

At Heesun's request, we both went to the Korean War Memorial, which I don't think I've ever seen before. Here is one picture I took of it.

April 9, 2009
Well, I'm back in Korea. This is probably the last time I'll ever enter Korea to live, again. Sure, I might come back for vacation or a short-term mission like taking a standardized test or buying cheap goods, but my days of living here are numbered -- I wrote 65 days on my immigration card on the plane.

Unlike before when I've said "I'm gonna leave," I have actually secured a means of leaving, this time -- I have paid $500 for a course in Beijing to the American TESOL Institute.

The trip to the US was somewhat productive. I read two history textbooks. I passed two CLEP tests (I'll take the rest next year, because the scheduling didn't work out that well this year). I visited my cousin at his apartment on UVA and saw my sister as well, as well as having quality time with my parents and grandmother.

I also went into Washington, D.C. on the last full day. This is significant for the following reasons:

  1. I got a bunch of great stock photos of Washington, D.C. (for teaching English, it would be nice if I had some Washington, D.C. visuals that I own free and clear).
  2. I met a Korean woman named Heesun and we went around and did sightseeing and it was reasonably fun.
  3. I got some other types of stock photos, like Chinatown (for my site on China that I'm making), some artsy cherry blossom pictures from near the Jefferson Memorial (good for my future Japan site), and some typical American pictures for teaching English, like one of an American waving flag, and some nice flower pics that show off the high resolution of my camera.
As for the flight home, well, it was all right. I finally saw "Benjamin Button," which was a good movie in my opinion. It had everything in it -- drama, an interesting concept, history, a little bit of comedy, and the story of a famous American author. It was a winner. I also saw "Revolutionary Road" (fairly poor movie, ends much worse than it started, and the whole point of the movie is to advocate legal abortion, it seems). I also saw "Yes Man," which was all right (funny at times), but kind of lite and predictable. We all know from the beginning that Jim Carey is going to fall in love with the moped girl and stop the YES program that forces him to say "yes" to everything.

Oh, and I played more In-Flight Golf, finally having one game where I got one below par (score: 58)! I also played another game in which I got a 59 (on par). I also finally got a score of only 6 above par in Mini Golf. So I played a lot of golf games. Someday I'd love to program a golf game.

April 2, 2009
Well, I'm just about to take the CLEP exams. I've written up literally 42 pages of summary of the textbook I read, in my own words. 42 PAGES. That's a lot of notes.

I'll just review those and then I'll read a short piece on computer ethics (for the computer test, because computer ethics was my weak area) and I should be good to go. I'll probably make a post later saying how I did.

Okay, it's a few hours later, and I took them. I got a 70/80 on Western Civ (a very respectable score, passed the threshold to get credit by a 20-point margin) and a 66/80 on Information Systems (pretty good considering the only studying I did was read one brief Wikipedia page about computer ethics). So I just added 6 credit hours to my transcript today. Awesome!

April 1, 2009
Well, I'm making good progress. These are two reasons I say this:

  1. I paid off one of my two credit cards, meaning no more of these past due fees and the high interest that card company was charging. As some of you may recall, one of my New Year's resolutions was to pay off all my credit cards in 2009, and I have now paid off one of the two. I'll probably wait on the second one until I have gotten my first paycheck in China.
  2. I will take two CLEP exams TOMORROW. If successful, I will grab 6 credit hours tomorrow, advancing my degree progress by 5% in just one day! I took a practice exam for the western history exam and did all right, and the other is basically a computer literacy test, so tomorrow should end up a great day.

This is some text that I "scanned" with my new HP digital camera. The quality is sufficiently high that you can read the text you've photographed. My previous camera could not do this.
March 30, 2009
Wow, March has really been a month of technological upgrades for me! I just bought a new HP digital camera for $79.64. Despite the low price tag, it takes very nice pictures in both light and dark conditions, and can even photograph a page of text for later reading. It's that high-definition.

This may actually save me money, because previously, to get higher-definition pictures, rather than using my old digital camera which was too fuzzy, I would buy a disposable camera and get it developed on CD. This would cost quite a bit of money when I did it over and over to cover various trips to Japan and so forth. Now I have a digital camera that beats my old one by a landslide, so there's no more need to do that, so maybe in the long run it'll save me money, and I plan to start posting more photos on this site from now on (the reason I wasn't posting them before was that my battery door had fallen off, rendering my camera only workable from my PC where it was powered from the USB port).

As for other technological upgrade news, as everyone already knows, I bought a notebook computer this month, and I also discovered upon arriving back in America that almost every broadcast channel is now unavailable on an old TV with just antenna. Look forward to photo essays with lush photos from Panmunjeom, Jeju-do, and of the boshintang I plan to eat in my last two months in Korea. Oh, and I might go to Suncheon. These things are all essential to having had a complete Korea experience, and they will be photographed beautifully on my new HP digital camera.

March 27, 2009
I'm going to start blogging about my roughly yearly vacations to America that I take to visit my parents. I have avoided this subject in the past because I didn't want to mix my family life with the accomplishments I made on my own (and my own money), but it is a reality of my life that about once a year (sometimes more, sometimes less), I go back to the US for approximately two weeks (sometimes more, sometimes less).

The flight over here was okay. It was non-stop. There was a cool golf video game on the seat back computers.

I went out tonight to University Mall and George Mason University campus. Geez, it was WEIRD. I got stared at a ridiculous amount, probably more than I've ever been stared at in Korea, and the way people were staring at me wasn't the "wow, a real live foreigner" stare, but the "this guy could pull out a semi-automatic and start shooting any minute stare." I think the reason for this is that I generally wear a long wool coat that looks like a trench coat, camo ROK army pants I bought in Dongdaemun, and dress shoes that look like combat boots. In Korea, this is not an abnormal ensemble, and people don't automatically distrust me when I wear this ensemble, but MAN, today people were staring, looking over their shoulders at me, and acting like I might have a bomb strapped to me! I seriously felt like if I stayed out much longer, someone would call the cops. This country is so paranoid about shooters and terrorists, it's incredible. At times like this, I'm glad to live in Asia, not America. America has many good points, such as being a fairly benevolent country as superpowers go, but one of its bad points is that people are quick to judge you as "a weird creep." I'd rather be judged as a "peculiar but intriguing foreign man" than "some weirdo" any day of the week! Which is one reason why I don't move back to the US!

March 24, 2009

I just went out into the hallway, and who did I see? Jere.

Jere, for those of you that don't know, is this Finnish guy. When I wrote the "Eurotrash" stereotype in my "99.9% of Students at Yonsei University" article, he was the person I was thinking of.

Jere got kicked out of the goshiwon. Why? Because he simply had too much loud sex. I would often see him bring girls in, and then there'd be an "AH! AH! AH!" coming from either his room or the shower stall (one time when I was eating tofu and kimchi in the kitchen adjacent to a shower stall early in the morning). Eventually, people started to get annoyed at this guy constantly having loud, intrusive sex in the goshiwon, so Jinu from room #401 finally reported this guy to the ajumma. Which I actually completely understand.

As Jinu put it (translated roughly from Korean), "I don't care what he does in his room with girls, but he should be quieter when he does it." Amen to that.

So the ajumma kept warning him, and finally, the third time he brought a girl over and made steamy love to her, the ajumma told him to find another place to live. We thought that was the end of Jere. Apparently not.

Today I saw him sitting at the public computer, browsing various social networking sites and chatting, like he always used to do like 24 hours a day, to find potential hookups. What a goddamn eyesore! I can't believe they let him come back and live here!

I guess this is an open endorsement for me to go down the the park, meet drunk girls, and have wild monkey sex with them in my room, because Jere does it and gets a Get Out of Jail Free card.

All I can think is that the chong-mu, the annoying office girl who is always scolding us and acting like an ajumma and giving me the silent treatment because I patted her on the head as a joke a couple of times, let him come back, without realizing his past history (she started working here after he was asked to leave). However, that's no guarantee that he'll be kicked out when the ajumma who runs this place comes back. So it's back to the old days of going out in the hall, seeing Jere using the computer there constantly to find new booty calls, etc. Man, this place is deteriorating -- crappy chong-mu AND Jere, the Finnish guy who barely speaks English or Korean and bangs girls in his room! ARGH!

Teacher Jeon, Ma Ja-hae, and Me -- we were the only people who showed up for the last day of Level 7 on Thursday. Special thanks to Mrs. Jeon for the photo.
March 22, 2009
I wanted to hold off on this announcement until everyone had seen my MBC clip, but yesterday, my site turned three years old! Not too shabby! Additionally, today, for the first time ever, I had a conversation with a deaf Korean young woman on the subway -- I pretended to not know where Shinchon was and passed her a note asking how long it would take to get to Shinchon. We passed notes for about 15 minutes. It was enjoyable. It also occurred to me that since the vast majority of deaf women I've seen in Korea have been quite good-looking, a western guy who learned Korean Sign Language could probably have a *LOAD* of fun here. On the other hand, I said that before learning regular spoken Korean, and I'm not dating a racing model yet, so I'll probably leave it to some other western guy to try out.

This is me on MBC. The time slot for the show I was on was repeatedly postponed due to the baseball game between Korea and Japan, but finally, at after 2:00, my segment finally came out!
March 20, 2009
I got interviewed by MBC, a nationwide Korean broadcasting corporation. The interview was for "TV Sogeui TV" ("TV Inside a TV"), for the Saeng Saeng Interview segment. Many of my classmates were interviewed as well. The Saeng Saeng Interview segment's purpose was to show foreigners studying Korean, and their opinions on Korean television. I talked about the difference in "gobugwangye" (relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) on such shows between the US and Korea (in Korean, of course).

MBC airs all over the country. I know there's even a special Jinju, Gyeongsang-do edition of MBC that also airs "TV Sogeui TV." So I'd imagine quite a few people saw me. :-)

I hope you enjoy this video. Sorry about the low quality, I recorded it off of TV by aiming my low-quality digital camera at the TV, and got sound by placing the microphone on my headset right next to the TV's speaker. I was also kind of hunched over during some of the video, but I promise I was speaking off the top of my head and wasn't reading lines. I still think it's watchable, though.

  • Saeng Saeng Interview Video with Captions
  • Saeng Saeng Interview Video without Captions (only recommended for Korean speakers)
  • March 19, 2009
    Well, today was the last day of Level 7. Jeon Ji-in (our teacher) and I went to Oak, and no one else showed up until fairly late in the game (the Chinese woman, Ma Ja-hae). It would have been awkward except that Jeon Ji-in speaks fluent Japanese and lived in Japan for eight or nine years, and therefore I always have plenty of questions for her. Plus she's just a generally fun teacher, so it wasn't that awkward. We had lunch at a restaurant called Oak, which, come to think of it, I also had my graduation dinner at. So Oak is becoming kind of a sentimental place!

    Afterward, I went to the Korean Language Institute office to pick up my report card. I actually decided not to get one because the grading was not complete yet and the best I could've gotten would have been an incomplete, but one notable thing did happen in that office -- one of the office ladies asked me to read an English e-mail some disgruntled person had sent her and help her respond.

    The e-mail was really quite nasty. It was some fellow who had a semi-legitimate complaint about the program, but the way he phrased it was so provocative, it made me mad (even though I sometimes have complaints about the KLI, as well). He was complaining about how the Japanese students constantly talk to each other in Japanese, and this disrupts the learning environment. He suggested that classes be split up into English-based classes, Japanese-based classes, etc. This was not necessarily unreasonable, but he kept on swaggering around in his e-mail, explaining that he was some kind of highfalutin' professional who did business in Japan, and had "studied in three different countries," and called Yonsei's program "a kindergarten vacation" for Japanese people. Obviously he had a very high opinion of himself and thought he knew everything about language teaching -- however, I will refute his points by saying that I'm a Cambridge University CELTA certified English teacher who has graduated from the KLI, and I say that Japanese students using Japanese during class is a problem that cannot be helped in a profit-driven language school. If you take serious action against students because they speak their native language, the school will fail because no one will want to sign up due to the fascist atmosphere.

    I understand his argument that there should be segregated classrooms, I actually kind of agree to a point (I wish they'd take the Chinese and put them in their own classes, they constantly speak Chinese and have horrible pronunciation), but this guy obviously doesn't realize the logistical difficulty in making all students speak Korean even on breaks and to each other.

    In summary, I agree with the guy that the KLI has some problems, but he obviously knew nothing about language teaching, and he made an ass hat out of himself by saying the KLI was a "kindergarten vacation" for Japanese. I don't care what qualifications he claims to have, anyone who has ever taught a language before should know that you can't realistically force students to speak in the target language at all times. And I don't get these people who think all their speaking practice should come from class. There's a whole nation of about 50 million Koreans out there -- who cares if Japanese people sometimes speak Japanese to each other -- when you get out of your four hours of school, there are 12 remaining hours to speak Korean to Koreans as much as you want.

    March 18, 2009: UPDATE 2
    Well, the cute but extremely nervous former piano instructor woman who is 27 years old is moving out today. I saw her downstairs. I just said, in a friendly way "if you could return here sometime, that would be good" and immediately she was like "oh, can I give you my phone number?" and I was like "okay" and she actually did a little happy dance where she jumped up in the air several times and said "yay!" and I gave her my phone and she called her own phone using my phone.

    By the way, for those of you who are saying "but isn't Charles going out with a Siberian woman?" she's actually kind of out of the picture, because I asked her out for a sixth date, and she ended up being "busy" right before that date, and I figured that the chemistry was so bad, there was no point in asking her out on another date. That, and I was just tired of paying for her. I hate paying for the woman. One thing I've noticed is that none of my steady girlfriends have ever been women for whom I always paid on the dates. This tells me that paying for a woman on dates not only has no positive effect, it probably has a negative effect, so why do it? Am I so innately worthless that I need to pay a woman just to spend time with me? Of course not.

    Anyways, the 27-year-old nervous piano teacher woman is quite intriguing, but I probably won't pursue. I only have less than three months left in this country. I mean, not a whole lot of Korean women get drunk and start kissing my hand in the early hours of the morning, so she's definitely intriguing from that angle, it's just that I don't think <3 months is enough time, so there's no point in pursuing.

    Now, when I move to China, I'm a little bit scared that I'm going to get too many women. Ever since I turned 22, this magical age, I've done immensely better on the dating market, and I'm afraid that once I hit China and have a regular job, I'm going to be so popular, that when I move to Japan after, I will become depressed because the rich white guy factor will no longer be working for me. So when I move to China, I think I should stay out of the dating scene as much as possible, because if I get too involved in the dating scene, every subsequent country I live in will probably look like crap.

    March 18, 2009
    I just ate fish intestines, lots of them.

    I went out to dinner with Hwang-dae and Yu-gwon, and Yu-gwon ordered a stew with an abundance of fish intestines. You'd be surprised, fish intestines, although they may look strange, seem to be clean of anything the fish ate. I chopped them open several times to examine the contents before eating, and it was like the fish's system had been completely flushed -- it was just clean white meat. The stew also contained chunks of normal fish meat, as well as soybean sprouts (kongnamul).

    Hwang-dae's friend, Yu-gwon, is a doctor who speaks good Japanese. He volunteered in Africa for two months, apparently, and found that it was not nearly as dangerous as he'd expected. He apparently has very accurate Japanese spelling, because whenever I asked the hiragana for a Japanese word, Hwang-dae (who is a native Japanese speaker) would forward the question to Yu-gwon, which I found entertaining, since Yu-gwon only lived in Japan as an exchange student, whereas Hwang-dae has lived there basically his whole life. Anyways, after that, we got bindaeddeok (kind of like pajeon, except thicker) and had makgeolli as well. The restaurant was entertaining because paper chopstick wrappers LITTERED the floor, they were EVERYWHERE. So we just threw ours on the ground as well, I mean, there were already hundreds on the floor anyway, so why not?

    Things will be more fun now, because Hwang-dae is back from Japan. It was sure quiet over the past two or so weeks!

    As for other important news, today I went to the immigration office and got an extension on my D-4 visa, so I'm good until June 21 (though I plan to leave before that). I also have a re-entry permit, so I can visit the US and then come back to Korea, no problem.

    Oh, and one more thing -- I learned I can take the NYU Korean test from Korea. I think this is a better idea, because my Korean will be in much better shape than if I take it in the US. If I take it in the US, I won't be able to watch Korean TV 24/7 to get my ear in tune, speak with Koreans just by walking out into the hallway, etc. If I take it in Korea, my Korean will be extremely fresh. It also takes some pressure off, so I can enjoy my trip back to the US more. It's been over one year, two months since I was last in my home country!

    March 17, 2009
    Well, I just read this fascinating article on the Korean version of MSN (for a newspaper report that I prepared for my Korean class) that completely validates my preference for dating women who are older than me rather than younger!

    According to the article, which I will not link to since most people can't read Korean, babies conceived with the sperm of 20-something men were, on average, over 6 IQ points smarter than babies conceived from sperm from 50-something men! Haha, take that, traditional society with whom I am always at odds! Not only that, babies born to younger men also have lower rates of certain mental problems like autism. So it just basically goes to show that society is wrong, and Charles Henry Wetzel, who has dated numerous 30-something women in the past year, has a completely justified, scientific reason for doing what he does! Take that, society!

    As for other news, we didn't really have anything to do in class today, so I showed the class my website and dug out the pictures from Tsushima Island. Actually, Teacher Jeon was presenting my pictures as much as I was, because she's been to that island too, and lived in Japan for 8~9 years to top it off, so she knew what she was talking about more than me. One of the Chinese girls was puzzling over why there was a graveyard so close to people's houses -- literally a few feet away. Wouldn't that make people scared? Well, it's okay, because apparently the people there do not fear the ghosts, they are just considered a normal part of life. A pair of chopsticks moves themselves, no reason to freak out. It's just the harmless ghosts from the local cemetery! I guess, if you think about it, it's kind of comforting to think that way.

    I also got the mystery solved of why some of the Buddhas on the mountain in Hitakatsu had clothes on them. I had never seen this in Korea and thought it kind of strange and even comical. Apparently the reason for that is that the little statues are actually baby Buddhas. Therefore, people feel the need to have Baby Buddha wear clothes. Interesting.

    Anyways, Teacher Jeon went there with her family one time and spent three or four days there, but there was a typhoon. Being the Korean parent she is, she decided her kids must not miss school on Monday, at all costs! So she actually took her family to Fukuoka to catch a plane to Seoul so the kids could attend school. However, a plane was not available! So apparently although the island had a nice countryside environment, it was filled with rushing around and having to be preoccupied with other things, so she did not particularly enjoy it.

    She also told us about the PTA meeting she went to when she lived in Japan (and raised a kid there). Apparently, in Japan, they literally call it PTA -- straight from English. So Japan also uses the word PTA just like English, that's a new wrinkle to my brain.

    March 16, 2009
    Asian women LOVE Biosilk. Before you dismiss my claim as some wild generalization, let me explain how I arrived at this conclusion.

    I was in Korean class. I told everyone that I was going to be taking a trip back to the United States, and asked if anyone wanted me to bring anything back. Teacher Jeon asked me if I could bring back some Biosilk, a sort of essence/conditioner sort of thing for one's hair. She claims it costs about $10 a bottle in the US, but in Korea, it's $50 or $60 a bottle. So I said that I'd bring her back a bottle.

    Then, on break, I was talking to the three Chinese girls who, besides me, are all that remains of the formerly large Level 7 class. I asked if they wanted anything from the US. All three of them said they wanted Biosilk. Okay, so apparently this Biosilk stuff must be pretty good. All right, four bottles total.

    I was visiting my "friend" near Seoul University Entrance Station, and I asked his father and mother if there was anything they'd like from the US. I mentioned, jokingly, that I was already bringing back four bottles of Biosilk from the US. Then I went and "hung out" with my "friend" for a while, and when I came out into the main room, I saw that his mom was sitting on the floor, using an Internet shopping site on their computer to research Biosilk. She had figured out that in Korea, on a wholesale basis (six bottles), Biosilk is nearly 40,000 won a bottle, but probably more expensive if one just buys a single bottle. She told me to bring her back two.

    So long story short, I am bringing back six bottles of Biosilk back for a total five different women, both Chinese and Korean, of two different generations. Therefore, I stand behind my generalization that Asian women love Biosilk.

    March 10, 2009
    Well, I took the reading and listening tests today for Level 7. I wouldn't call them "easy," because I don't call anything easy unless I know I've gotten an A after taking it, but they were completely manageable and I passed both of them, according to our teacher. Apparently I also passed yesterday's writing test, somehow (that's what she said). So it looks like a pass for Level 7, as long as my attendance stays sufficient. Not that it really matters. I'll be taking Level 7 again next term even though it appears I passed, just to maintain my visa. I guess one positive outcome of passing is that I can stick on my resume that I took a post-graduation Korean class and passed that, too -- that shows something better about my Korean ability and my ability to stick with a project for the long-term (when I finish the next Level 7 term, that'll make a full two years of study at Yonsei, in addition to the year I've spent in Korea this time around doing "miscellaneous things."

    As for other news, since the Game Institute will let me take my exams from Korea (as I found out yesterday afternoon), this takes a HUGE load off my shoulders. So I should redistribute my effort strictly to CLEP tests and Korean (for passing the CLEP tests and the NYU Korean test, respectively).

    I think I will take more CLEP tests than originally planned. I think I might take as many as five. These are the ones I'm thinking of taking:

    1. History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877
    2. History of the United States II: 1865 to Present
    3. Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648
    4. Western Civilization II: 1648 to Present
    5. One of the English composition CLEPs (although I've already had English composition in college, this will allow me to grab more credit hours than ENG 111 was worth)

    I figure that I should join one of those CLEP prep sites and start reading a bunch of CLEP study material, and then I should be fine on those exams. I should be sure to hit the books (and the immersion) for Korean as well, I want to make sure my Korean is at its best when I take NYU's exam! Today's goal will be to join a CLEP prep site and map out a schedule of how I'm going to study enough material prior to the 25th of this month.

    March 9, 2009: UPDATE 2
    The new day has brought a mixture of slightly bad news and very good news.

    The slightly bad news is that I took the Level 7 final exam (the writing portion) and feel I did horribly. However, two other test takers (one of which I talked to, the other of which I heard of indirectly) also felt it was really difficult, especially the beginning Chinese-derived vocabulary section and the incorrect sentence finding section. So I did poorly, I'm sure, but other people did too, and besides, this test doesn't really matter for anything, since I've already graduated, and since I'll take Level 7 again.

    The very good news is this -- I got an e-mail from Susan Nguyen at the Game Institute, and now students can find a proctor and get their exams proctored wherever they are! Holy shit, this is awesome! Why is it awesome? Because it means I can get credit for my game development courses from overseas, where I'm actually living, instead of having to carefully time the tests to coincide with visits to the United States or Canada. Basically, if I wanted Yim Bang-wool to proctor my C++ Module I test in two weeks, there'd be no reason she couldn't!

    This really helps me add certainty to my degree program, because my entire degree hinges on one bottleneck class -- Discreet Math, which is Game Mathematics at the Game Institute. I was really worried about taking the class, going back to the States for one last visit before graduating, and failing it, and failing to get my degree. However, now, I can take Game Mathematics from Korea or China and take the test whenever I want here -- much less suspense! So my plan is to sign up for that course very soon and get it out of the way.

    This further helps me because it allows me to take a whole bunch of Game Institute courses first instead of the more expensive NOVA courses. This will help me financially as I get set up as an English teacher in China this summer.

    So a little bit of bad news, but the e-mail that arrived in my inbox from Susan Nguyen pretty much overrides that. Now I can take my Game Institute proctored exams from overseas and get credit for the courses, just like any other college course, rather than taking my tests only in the US or Canada. I swear, being able to take tests anywhere I want isn't going to last forever -- someday I'll tell my grandkids about how I did my whole degree while traveling the world, and they'll say "Whoa, Grandpappy, they wouldn't allow that now!"

    This is the first example ever of how I've figured out how to use resources in C++, a MAJOR breakthrough for me.
    March 9, 2009
    Look out world, here I come!

    I just figured out how to do resources in C++. I was using Visual C++ Express Edition which does not have a resource editor, but I found a way around this (which I will not elaborate on). Now I have successfully integrated an icon into my project and created an executable file with an attached icon, something you need knowledge of resources to do. Though this is just a baby step, it was a major stumbling block for me.

    Now that I can do resources, it's not just icons that I plan to use as resources -- I can incorporate bitmaps as well as other file types. I can now proceed in my C++-learning journey.

    By the way, the icon to the left, my first program-attached icon, is symbolic. It shows a TI-83 on the left side running Dungeon!, and has an arrow pointing to the future of my programming world, C++. It's very symbolic.

    March 8, 2009
    I just discovered some travel writing I did on Asia a long time ago -- 1998! I was a 12-year-old middle schooler living in Hong Kong back then. The pieces I am posting now are about our class field trip to Macau.

    I have also discovered some other things I wrote in middle school that are still on the web, as well, and may post those in the future. I believe I should preserve these writings on my own site, because they are an important part of my personal history -- my hobby of writing about Asia and publishing my essays on the Internet began over a decade ago.

    My Writings on Asia from 1998

    I just want to add that 6th grade (1998 - 1999) was a very sentimental year for me. I actually was not happy at all -- it was a very stressful year, but one that made me the man I am today. Here were some firsts from 6th grade:

  • I beat Zelda: Link's Awakening (my first RPG) and got Final Fantasy VII for the PC. FF7 changed my life. To this day, I am still a devoted Final Fantasy fan. It inspired me to want to become a programmer, something I still want to become.
  • I wrote my first program in C++. I think it was just some crap program that used cout << and not much else. It wouldn't be for another decade that I'd actually write something decent in C++.
  • I had my first serious crush on a girl -- Libby Jenke at HKIS, an attractive blonde girl who seemed multi-talented and had a great singing voice. However, she rejected me. So really 6th grade was the first time I'd ever really been rejected.
  • In sixth grade, I got my TI-83 calculator. For over ten years, I programmed the TI-83. I just released a TI-83 program this month, in fact!
  • I moved to Hong Kong with my family. This marked the first time in my life when I was not only living in Asia, but old enough to remember it vividly (though we had lived in Korea previously, my memories of that time are few and far between and extremely fuzzy).
  • The motions were put in order for me to get my first PC (a 486). Mr. Zahn at HKIS had some computers to get rid of, and I got one of them. Though I didn't actually receive it until after 6th grade, a personal, non-shared PC is a very important step in a young programmer's life.
  • I visited Japan for the first time (a Boy Scout campout to Okinawa). I also imported Final Fantasy VIII, which was in Japanese, marking the beginning of my interest in learning Japanese.
  • I did my first forays into web design. I actually kept an Angelfire page. I learned my first HTML code.
  • I started Chinese class. Chinese was the first Asian language I ever studied in school. I actually sucked at it, and everyone was always laughing at me.

    So if you think about it, 6th grade made me the man I am today. It was a rough year, especially socially and grade-wise and because of the international move, but it was a year of many, many firsts. I hope that in ten years, I can look back on 2009 and think "that was the start of a new era."

    Copyright (C) 2009 Charles Wetzel. All rights reserved.