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March 19, 2010

I’ve always loved watching TV shows: to the point that it would not be an exaggeration to say that I watch at least one hour of TV show per day. But watching TV is not an entirely bad thing (neither is it a useless and distracting rectangular box). Television actually piques my interest in foreign language, because I watch programs from diverse countries, including Korea, China, and Japan. I have already learned Korean, have started to learn Chinese, and need to study Japanese. I hope that one day, I can just turn on the TV and perfectly understand a Japanese or Chinese program without any help of subtitle.

I’ve heard of bilingual people and students who learn around seven languages at their school. I wonder how they can do it, thou. Learning a language and practicing it to the point that it instinctively comes out of my mouth when needed. According to the World Record, the most number of languages a person can learn is 20. There is a man who could speak ten languages at first and later learned up to twenty different languages as an adult. I ENVY HIM!

Learning a language and being able to speak it and/or use it like a native earns you much more than respect from others. As I learn Chinese piece by piece, I always get excited when I get an opportunity to use what I know and examine how much I can speak Chinese. The same applies for Japanese: when I understand a phrase in Japanese TV show, I become so happy and realize how worthwhile learning a language is.


What It Takes To Be

March 14, 2010

Just as it takes a few things for us to be interesting to others, there are few factors that popular blogs share in common such as appearance, topics, and uniqueness. Out of all, I think the topic is the most important thing to keep in mind when you are making a blog that will mesmerize everyone. Let’s take a look at few of my friends blogs that are pretty famous.

1. HeeJae Ci.

Now, she did a very good job of making sure that she has a lot of conversation with other bloggers by discussing variety of topics in diverse ways. For example, when she wrote a reflection on her first semester, she revealed her thoughts through an interview with herself. Not only it interviewing oneself a way to make a tedious reflection post interesting, but also unique. What’s more, she also writes blog post on topic that almost everyone would enjoy. Once, she wrote all the feelings that we get as we are swimming and I-as a competitive swimmer at my school-could not agree more! It was exciting to see someone else feel what I do all the time while I’m swimming.

2. Jae L.

Jae did a very good job at writing about “what you love,” while most of us merely list strict information on the things that interest us. For example, he wrote a blog post about music, from which I discovered a really good music piece. I think that’s what actually makes the readers feel attracted to your blog and subscribe. Think about it. If you are not really interested in what you write, then how would you expect others to pay attention to your blog post?

3. Andrew K.

Just WOW. I was surprised that a blog like that could be made by a student; not so much with the appearance of the blog, but the content. I bet almost all of you had spent few hours trying to find how to do something at least for once–because I did. In fact, I would spent thousands of hours while surfing on how to enhance my Macbook in the past.

War Memorial of Korea

March 8, 2010

Recently, all students from US History classes and AP US History classes went on a field trip to War Memorial of Korea after learning about the “Forgotten War.” Taking placed after the Cold War, Korean War resulted in the most significant change in Korean history: the creation of 38th line. As the tension between USSR and America was growing, Korean War began with the invasion from North Korea. Although America did not try to prevent China from turning into a Communist country, the United States-along with UN forces-fought against the Communist power because they were afraid of Communist power gaining more power. Most Korean civilians, including students, volunteered to fight. In addition, the National Police activated three Combat Headquarters and a Railroad Mobile Unit Headquarters to get rid of Communist Gerillas. Some people who lost their home and were in need of shelters built dugouts or board-framed houses, while depending on canned food and relief supplies because the price of goods were sky-rocketing daily. At the museum, there were so many new and interesting facts that even I, as a Korean citizen, were surprised to discover. Some of them includes:

  1. The degree of the ruins of war was extremely devastating. The photo of a village in Korea after the war was nothing but an empty street filled with dead bodies and debris of broken-down houses.
  2. Numerous foreign countries (besides China and America) were involved in Korean War as well.
  3. North Korea at first attempted to overthrow the government by ordering South Korea Labor Party to revolt.
  4. North Korea claimed hat the South aggressed the North initially.
  5. Around 1976 student voluteer corps died, with 100,000 students joining the battle.
  6. When students from JApan volunterred to fight, North Kroea used this misconception as propaganda.
  7. Some soldiers tapped-off their water from Yalu river as a symbol of unification (this was just merely INTERESTING fact because filling a canteen with water is not exactly a symbol of unification)
  8. Chinese Communist forces attacked the Republic of Korea and UN by their unique Human Wave Tactics (pretty smart, huh?)
  9. Battles to occupy the high grounds throughout the front line to grasp a better negotiating position was severe.
  10. Korean War was dubbed the “War of Railroad” due to the significance of an efficient railroad system (again, very scientific)

Overall, Korean War is a tragic, catastrophic event that should not have taken place. It was worth fighting for Americans who successfully contained Communism, which was their initial purpose, but the cost was too high, especially when we consider the result. The 38th line is still there, North Korea is suffering from poverty, and our re-unification seems so far away to the point where it is almost impossible.

Dracula’s Guest

March 1, 2010

Have you guys ever read the short story called Dracula’s Guest (1914)? It is another part of Dracula that was released only two years after its writer’s death. How are the original story and the short story similar? How are they different? Let’s find it out!

Similarities–Well, they are both from Bram Stoker, that’s a fact. It is also interesting to note that they both have a bright and cheerful beginning: Dracula begins with Harker wondering upon the recipes for traditional food, Dracula’s Guest starts with the main character taking note of the bright summer weather. Then, they both create mysterious mood-the main factor of gothic novels-through introducing a day when evil spirits are free, such as St. George’s Day and “Walpurgis nacht”. Not only do they make use of time, they both emphasize the horses in fear to make the readers feel uneasy and frightened as well. For example, as the horses were traveling in Dracula’s Guest, th

ey “began to jump and kick about, then to scream with terror”. Last but not least, they builds a sort of feeling that the destination of the main characters is somewhere extremely far away and in an unfamiliar place through foreign language. At the start of the trip, each main character is startled and baffled by village people’s speaking words he does not understand.

Differences–One thing that stands out is that Dracula’s Guest exaggerated Johann’s fear. In Dracula, the coachman does not reveal his feelings as much as Johann. Except the fact that they both refused to explain mysterious in detail to the main characters, their behavior is not very similar. Furthermore, Dracula’s Guest has the main character interested in this road that, “looked but little used and which seemed to dip through a little winding valley” to deepen the mysteriousness. Then, unlike Jonathan who was getting afraid, the main character in Dracula’s Guest decides to visit the unholy village by himself without any fear. Yet, while Jonathan does not get hurt due to Dracula’s care, the main character in Dracula’s Guest ends up getting wounded. Finally, the weather is especially well described in Dracula’s Guest, hinting the readers of an impending threat.

Any gothic elements? Sure. As mentioned before, Dracula’s Guest does an excellent job in using pathetic fallacy, which often uses natural elements such as weather to reinforce the sense of imminent danger. Not only to “dark clouds [that] drifted rapidly across the sky” suggest this, but also the tornado that welcomes the main character at the tomb hints the readers that the story is not about fairy tales nor pink bunnies. Another tool that we can take note of is the setting, which is the most common factor that creates the atmosphere. If you were to read a bedtime story to your child, would you prefer a story that occurs in a tomb to a story that takes place in a grand castle? I thought so. The last element that is slightly noticeable in Dracula’s Guest is death, a major theme throughout the Gothic genre. On the road, the main character hears of committing suicide; at the tomb, he experiences near death.

Overall, the original introduction sounds much better. The original ones includes a wider variety of gothic elements and leads the readers into the core of the story in a more smooth and gradual manner. The introduction proposed in Dracula’s Guest is rather sudden due to events such as main character getting injured by a tornado. I mean, who would expect a tornado to occur at the beginning of a novel?

Well then, what do you think? Which one do you prefer? After reading Dracula’s Guest, press the comment button now that you’ve read my thoughts and tell me what you think!

Commenting on Classmate’s Work

February 27, 2010

Hi. So my English class began reading Dracula, one of the most well-known gothic novel. As we are assigned to read three to four chapters each class, we also write up a one-paragraph-long essay that answers a specific question. With less than two quotations, students are required to argue for or against a thesis statement about the content of Dracula. After reading chapters one to four, each student had to write up a one paragraph essay with a given thesis: “In Dracula, Bram Stoker uses gothic elements to effectively capture the reader’s attention.” Then, the students got into groups of two and commented on each other’s work after recording his or her partner’s work. I was assigned Brian‘s essay to record and comment, so I’ve listed what he can do to fix his essay. Although his essay is already well written, I hope this helps him improve on his writing. Thanks! Read more…

Counting Cards

February 24, 2010

True or false: counting card is illegal?

True or false: counting card is extremely hard and are only used by math geniuses?

The answer is unexpectedly ‘false’ for both questions. Never could have guessed that, huh? Before we begin on learning how to count cards, there are two popular mistakes about card counting to be broken. Most importantly, counting card is not just for math geniuses, in spite of the misleading media portrayals as the movies Rain Man or “21” shows, but rather simple math of adding and subtracting. It is more important that your are good at multitasking rather than being a genius like in the movie ‘21.’ What’s more, card counting is NOT illegal. The reason why not many people can count cards in casino is because of one rule, which says that casinos have the right to refuse service to anyone. Since casinos are private properties just like your home, the owners have the right to prohibit certain people’s entrance if they do not like them.

Developed by mathematicians, there are many strategies of counting cards and most of them involve assigning certain integer values to each card. In the case of Hi-Lo system, the values assigned are -1 for cards 10, J,Q, K, A, +1 for cards 2 to 6, and 0 for cards 7 to 9. Each different card counting has its own system of assigning values to cards. The difficulties to follow with each system differ and some are much more complicated than others. The Hi-Lo system is considered to be one of the easiest ways of counting cards. In blackjack, or 21, if there are less cards of high values and aces, the player is at a disadvantage, while having less cards of low values means the player is at an advantage. Thus, you should bet low if there are more high cards out but bet high if there are more low cards out. If you apply this rule to the High-Lo system, you should bet more if the total value is positive, while bet less if the total value is negative.

Sometimes, some number of people get together and play as a team. While it can be advantageous enough to play individually, with group counting strategy, you can maximize the profit. If a group of people decides to play by group counting, there would be some players known as “counters” at each table and count the cards while keeping the bet continuously at minimum. If the count is high, or if the table is “hot,” the counters will secretly signal the “big player” to “wong in.” On the other hand, when the deck is shuffled, or the count gets low-or “cools off”-, the big player will “wong out.” Now, that’s a lot of new vocabularies. Being a big player means that you will be traveling from table to table and play insofar as the counters signal you to join, or wong in. Thus clearly, to wong out means to stand, or leave the table.

So, how did the brief lesson go for you? Was it too difficult? I’m not telling you how to count cards so that you guys can use this as an advantage at casinos. However, I DO want you to notice that mathematics can be fun once you get to know it better. And the most important thing is that there are billions more of fun applications of mathematics, including the magic squares.

One Man, Two Sides

February 11, 2010

Hi! So, I’ve finally finished reading the famous novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Hide and at the end, my class had a discussion about a controversial topic: is Dr. Jekyll responsible for what Mr. Hyde did? This can well enough be the main topic for the novella, which is duality. We didn’t have much time to discuss over this topic, but most students were active and coming up with a number of direct quotations from the novella, so the debate was very fruitful.

However, like I said, due to the time limitations, I was left with tons of other controversial questions after the debate and I wanted to discuss with you. But, I will leave you guys with one question for now.

Q1: Why did Dr. Jekyll turn into Mr. Hyde involuntarily at the end without drinking the potion?

Well, I would have to say that Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde involuntarily because not only was Mr. Hyde a part of him, but also because Dr. Jekyll slowly lost control over ‘Jekyll’ who was tired from hiding his sinful nature. This is emphasized the most when Dr. Jekyll says in his letter, “but I was still cursed with my duality of purpose; and as the first edge of my penitence wore off, the lower side of me, so long indulged, so recently chained down, began to growl for license” (Stevenson, 37). At the same time, it suggests that the dark nature in Jekyll constantly struggles to claim his place.

What’s more, although he was able to dissociate his nature, he was not able to completely separate them. In his letter, he writes, “the movement was thus wholly toward the worse” (Stevenson, 34), proving that one side of him was purely evil, but the other side of him still remained as the Jekyll who struggled between the dual nature of good and bad. And thus, he was more evil than good.

Finally, when he writes, “I am careless; this is my true hour of death, and what is to follow concerns another than myself” (Stevenson, 40), he shows that he has significantly gotten weaker and does not have the strength to subdue his sinister disposition anymore. He does not have any interest in  what will happen after he surrenders to the dishonorable side of him and let it take over his body.

So, what do you guys think? Do you agree? Disagree? Indifferent? If so, don’t forget to hit the comment button and share it with me! Till later then!