[Once again, another archive item. Upon rereading this one, I found that the anti-war rhetoric was seriously turned up, and made a big cut at the end, which I will explain once you get there. This time I found a paragraph had been cut in half. I was unable to find the original version, so I finished it the best I could. If any of you go to the trouble of hunting down the original email, you will probably find that I screwed it up there, too. Hopefully the idea I've completed here matches what I would have written three years ago.]
Dear Family, Friends and eavesdropping aliens:
We've moved. It wasn't fun, but it's done. And in the words of the theme song from TV's "The Jeffersons," we have moved "up to a deluxe apartment in the [north-]east side [of Busan]."
For the first time in either of our lives, Horyon and I are living in a brand new apartment! So new that it still smells like paint. So new that there was still plastic wrap on the doorknobs when we moved in and the windows have numbers painted on them so the construction guys wouldn't put them in the wrong apartment.
Let me tell you, this is a nice apartment. The doorbell has a video camera in it, so we can see what kind of idiots have come to visit us without opening the door to give them access to our home! The bedroom light has a remote control so you can turn out the lights without getting out of bed! There is a water filter under the sink so that we can drink the tap water without mutating into giant rat-creatures! There are phone jacks in every room, and internet jacks in all the bedrooms! (Of course there are no jacks in the kitchen, because I'm supposed to stay there barefoot and looking pregnant.) There is a new refrigerator! It doesn't have ice or water in the door, but it's new, so it doesn't smell like whatever food the previous owners kept until it went bad! It even has a dishwasher! The kind you put dirty dishes and soap in and press some buttons and wait an hour and your dishes come out clean!
This was, in many ways, the least painful move I've ever been involved with. We actually started to prepare last May. I was told by Kosin University that we would be moving in the fall, despite the fact that we had just moved that April. However, the move never materialized. Instead, many books, videos, clothes and some cooking supplies were put in boxes. Over the following months, many things came out of the boxes, but a lot of it just got moved as it was. In addition, thanks to the foresight of my lovely and intelligent wife, we did some packing up to two months before leaving. Our last 24 hours were still pretty intense, but we paid a little bit extra for the movers, and they packed a lot of stuff for us. Especially the kitchen. They put away all the dishes, and a lot of the foodstuffs. When we arrived at the new apartment, they pulled it all out of the boxes and put it in the cabinets. Of course, I wasn't happy with their choice of which cabinets to put which stuff in, but that is a minor problem.
The Sack household (Korean branch) has experienced a sort of twist with this recent move. Before the move, Horyon was always tired and frequently sick. Spending a total of more than two hours a day riding busses took a serious toll on her. I had to be Mr. Cheerful far more than comes naturally to me. However, I was in a good job, close enough to walk to work in 20 minutes, and only teaching four days a week.
Now things are different. Horyon has regained about eight hours a week a time that she can use to live. She wakes up later in the morning, doesn't get sick so much, and has moved nicely into the role of Mrs. Super-Cheerful. Which is good, because I need some cheering up. My teaching load went up from 14 to 20 hours a week. Gasp. It is divided into 10 classes of two hours each. My total number of students is 350, for an average of 35 students per class. One class has 50 students! And I'm supposed to teach conversation! My percentage of lecture/activity time has gone way up, I'm afraid. To make things even more interesting, around 90% of the students are freshmen. The 10% who are upperclassmen are a mix of students who really want to learn English and students who couldn't quite break the D+ line the first time around. Teaching the same lesson ten times is enough to fry my brain. It is in my nature to modify lectures as I repeat them, but I want to keep these classes as similar as possible, so that I can compare grades between different classes easily and write one test for all of them.
Now it takes me longer to get to work, too. I used to be able to do the front door to classroom run in under 15 minutes, now it is 25 minutes on a good day. On a bad day–rain, long wait for a taxi–it takes 40 minutes. Not bad for living in a big city, but pretty rough for someone who is not at his best in the morning. Like me. I have 9:00 classes four days a week, and at least once a week I have to skip breakfast to be on time for class.
In addition, I am required to have 10 office hours per week, double what I had at Kosin. So I have jumped from 19 hours required at work to 30.
Don't get me wrong. I know that I won't be able to find a job like this in America. At least not one that provides a spacious new apartment and a salary that lets me live well, save money, and continually expand my CD collection.
I would like to take this opportunity to reassure all of you that we are okay here in South Korea. South Korea, like many countries around the world, is going through some anti-American sentiment. However, as in those other countries, people here know the difference between Americans and the U.S. government. The U.S. military is a slightly different matter.
There is no doubt on the part of the older generation that the American military presence here is needed. People who can actually remember the Korean war, and the Japanese occupation before it, are still thankful to the countries that liberated Korea, especially the U.S.A. Younger people, however, see American military bases squatting on prime real estate. They see a few U.S. soldiers occasionally acting in a very disgraceful manner and not (in their opinion) being sufficiently punished for it. They see a predator. And our international politics do little to dissuade that notion.
With regards to the newly begun war with Iraq, I must say that I am deeply disturbed. I have a lot of respect for those in our society who serve in the military. I grieve for those lost and killed in action. But I do not respect our President's decision to go to war. To me, it seems that the U.S. is like a lynch mob hanging a child molester. No one argues that the child molester should be allowed to continue his activities, but in a civilized country he is tried in a court. Evidence is studied, a jury of peers is consulted, and rules that have been previously agreed on are followed. The U.N. is exactly that, and it has been completely ignored.
President Bush has not convinced me, or practically anyone else outside of the U.S., that Iraq was directly connected to the events of September 11th. Frankly, I foresee serious consequences to this war, regardless of whether we win quickly, slowly, or in a Vietnam-like manner.
It is unusual for me to enclose pieces written by other people, but I found this article to be some serious (and seriously disturbing) food for thought. A good friend of mine sent it to me, and I feel it to be my duty to share it with you. This is certainly not intended to suggest that you-know-who is exactly the same as the-guy-in-charge. (As one critic pointed out, the inference is that Bavaria=Texas! Good luck assessing the accuracy of *that*!) However, the parallels are interesting to note.
As always, I wish you all peace. I am more afraid for those of you living in the United States than I am for myself.
When Democracy Failed: The warnings of history
by Thom Hartmann (at http://www.thomhartmann.com/articles/2003/03/when-democracy-failed-warnings-history )
[I have decided now, June 2nd 2006, to not paste the entire article here. After all, this is Roblog, and while I may agree with many things said in the article, I did not write it. However, I encourage you to go to the website above and look at it. When I originally emailed this out, it started a couple of heated discussions. I have no wish to revive them, but I will still post any comments you care to make. Incidentally, I have just finished reading _Modern Times_, a history book covering most of the 20th century. I still think that the Hartmann article linked above has some valid points, but like any essay that can be read in one sitting, it has some simplifications. Nevertheless, the point about us having to choose democracy is still valid. Enough said.]
[Now it is 2016, and I have updated the link and decided to include the text here. It hadn't even occurred to me that the link could change over time, but now I know that not only do links change, but entire swaths of the internet can just disappear. Text takes up very little space, so I'm throwing it in. The following is not written by me.]