Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Exploring the streets of San Francisco
even the crooked one!
Trolley car rides, eating our tomato soup out of sourdough bread bowls,
sampling decadent chocolate and cruising the bay at night.
Ah and let us not forget AT&T Park and the Giants dugout store!
That was just the half of it and in only two days.

Kate and I had a wonderful time in San Francisco.  The weather couldn't have been any better!
The rest of Kate's trip was spent between visiting with my family, walking the wide streets of Willows, visiting more family, and my old college town of Chico.

It never really dawned on me how wide the streets of Willows are until Kate pointed it out.  But one thing I always knew, I have a big family.  During the Willows Christmas parade Kate was introduced to a merid of my relatives.  She was pleased to meet them and was lucky enough to spend time with some of them.

We made sweet rolls with my Grandma Louie and sister and built one of Kate's creations with my Grandpa John.  It was great to finally have her meet all the people I had talked about over the year in Korea.  And I was glad to have her here with me... but two weeks wasn't enough ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



It was a long trek across the country, starting at four in the morning in Oakland, hopping on connecting flights in L.A. and Detroit to finally arrive in Columbus just after 7 at night. I would've traveled infinite distances for the one who was waiting for me at the airport.
With bags in hand I walked out of the Columbus airport into the autumn night and there she was sitting in her car waving with enthusiasm. As I approached the car she met me with that infectious smile. She wore her black windbreaker jacket and black tights. Her hair was in a side braid and her olive colred skin shone with a radiance that suggested she'd been in the sun. There wasn't a place in creation I'd rather have been. I was back with my girl. I was back with Kate.
I throughly enjoyed Ohio. I met many of Kate's relatives and friends all of whom were very warm and welcoming. Kate's parents, Lori and Howard, made me feel comfortable and welcomed in their home. Lori makes an amazing pizza and rice krispy treats!
Kate's Aunt Karen and Uncle Jack were the consumate hosts. I had a great time driving through the countryside and checking out the Amish stores. Great pancakes Jack!
I now have pictures in my head of Ohio. now when Kate talks about the 'Short North' I can travel there in my mind's eye. The places of Columbus, German Village, Tiger Tree, and Buckeye Donuts; The hometown feel of Utica, Kenton, and Lima; Circleville's World Famous Pumpkin Festival had me wondering if Norman Rockwell ever had that town in mind when he painted; the colors of the leaves and the proceived eb and flow of the rolling hills, all have become real to me.
I enjoyed Kate's Ohio and I can't wait to share my California with her.

Friday, September 2, 2011

One Year

One Year
My year in Korea is nearing the end.  It’s only natural to look back and reflect on such an experience.  In more ways than one this has been a life changing experience.  I’m not using that phrase lightly, I have changed.  The core of who I knew I was is breathing new life on its own reality.  Like a dream that comes to existence, I’m no longer dreaming of who I want to become, I am.
I’ve become more confident and this confidence has also made me more humble.  It’s okay to not know all the answers.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  The same words of advice I tell my students are finally finding my own ears.  In my 32 years I am finally understanding lessons I was taught when I was younger.  I know I’m a work in progress and I hope it’s a life of progression.  I’ve found an extremely loving and patient woman that has come to mean so much to me.  Kate was and is that person I was able to be myself with.  We talked a lot about everything under the sun.  She has helped me become a better person.
Professionally I’m continually evolving.  I’m learning new methods of teaching and classroom management while putting those ideas and theories to the test.  I’m learning more about the way young students learn.  I’m no longer just reading about Piaget’s cognitive development or Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, I’m actively engaged in it firsthand.  It’s an amazing feeling to be a part in a child’s growth and development.  I can’t begin to fathom the joy a parent must feel when their child takes their first steps and speaks their first words.  I think to myself, even on the tough days, “I’m in the right profession.”

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Miso the Play

I went to see the Korean play 'Miso' today at the Chongdong Theater with Kate.  It's a Romeo and Juliet type play, but they don't die at the end.  It was really cool to watch and listen to traditional music and dance.  I'm a big fan of the drums... (Erik if you read this... you know what I'm talking about... "Drumline ya dig?")
It was almost entirely free of speech... The musical was full of choreographed dances and rhythmic beats.

We thought it was gonna be a perfect day to watch go to the matinee, since the weather report was all rain all day... But when we got out of the theater the sun was poking out a bit.  It was a bit muggy but once the sun went down it began to cool off a bit.  It was a good Saturday all around. 

Now I'm relaxing to some Otis Redding... good Saturday all around indeed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

America is a Salad Korea is a Soup

America is a Salad   Korea is a Soup
By, Josh Niehues

My title may not make since in the way it initially reads.  You may think, “Oh, this post is going to have something to do with the cultural differences between the U.S. and Korea.
That’s not what this post is really about.  It’s about smell.  Now before you start thinking about all of your favorite soups, Creamy Potato, Tomato with Ricotta cheese, and Chicken Noodle, let me define what I mean when I say, “America is a Salad” and then describe this soup that is Korea.
America is a salad.  America has a smell to it.  Not all its smells are lilacs and lavender.  There are areas for sure, that produce pungent odors, back alleys, dingy night clubs and gas station toilets to name a few.  Then there are the areas that are fresh like a salad.  There are the expansive fields of fresh cut alfalfa, the crisp ocean breeze of the Pacific North Coast and the fragrances of fall in the Mid-West.  These smells are the better side of America.
Korea is a soup.  Korea has a smell to it.  Some of the smells are comparable to those of America.  The coast has a sweet smell when the wind rushes across the ocean.  In fall, the fallen leaves give off an aromatic scent.  It also has its unpleasant smells as well and in these days of summer an undesirable smell beings to emanate from every building, street and crammed subway entrance.  The summer air becomes stagnate.  The humidity seems to trap in every smell and coat you in it; similar to dumping soup on your head.
Garbage is picked up on a regular basis, but there are no trash cans only pink and yellow plastic bags.  The pastel colored waste piles up next to the buildings.  Yesterday’s dinner becomes a furry creature’s treat that is scattered into the streets.  There are no street sweepers in Korea.  The garbage that is not collected is washed into shallow gutters.
The summer rains are hot and sticky.  It liquefies the contents of the soup.  Red peeper paste, kimchee, spicy noodle soup and a marred of other condiments and edibles mix into an odor frenzy crescendo.  Sprinkle in the occasional dash of urine and you have the pungent aromas of my part of Korea.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 75 or something like that

The Missy Elliot remix of the Tina Turner song "I Can't Stand the Rain" is playing over and over again in my head.  You know, that part;
Me I'm supa fly (uh-huh)
Supa dupa fly (uh-huh)
Supa dupa fly
{singing I can't stand the rain!

It must be the 75 days of straight rain!  Or something like that.  I hear it rained in California yesterday.  You can have some of Korea's if you want... and the muggy, greasy feeling the air produces. 

Note to self:  I couldn't live in a perpetual muggy place for an extended period of time.  Sweatbox central!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Grand Scale

He was staring at himself yet there was no mirror.  It wasn't an out of body experience. 
 He touched his own face for the reassurance. 
"Who are you?" he said to himself.
"I am you." replied the other.
Baffled, dumbfounded, struck utterly speechless.
"B... B... But how?"
"I am you the same way that you are me.  The same way that we are more than each other. 
 The same way that we are everything.  Everything is us, thus we are one.
We are inside a universe encapsulated inside an even larger universe inside an infinitly larger universe underneath the thumbnail of an unsuspecting woman.
You yourself have an infinite amount of universes hidden inside your being, each unaware of
the grand scale of things.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Internet Woes...

Where Are You Internet?
The Saga of the LCI Network
By, Josh Niehues
I’m wondering why the internet here doesn’t start to work until 9am?  It seems to be a reoccurring pattern.  Last Thursday and Friday I was on this very computer around 8:30am and there was no connectivity.  Then by some miraculous act of God the internet blockage was parted like the Red Sea.  Now I sit here and wait for that holy number like a Mesoamerican Shaman waiting for the summer rains to decree his peoples crops will grow.  Will my crops grow or are my fields to lay fallow? 

Oh internet how I beseech you to do what you were designed to do… Hmmm… maybe PS ( our computer technician and all around go-to guy) has a secret switch that he flips in the morning releasing all that is the internet.  Should I pay homage to the mighty PS, for he is the one with the all knowing all encompassing knowledge? I had a piece of toast this morning for breakfast… was that an image of PS?  8:45am… no internet………………….

How will the children ever receive their report cards?  How will their parents ever be able to find out how they’re doing in class?  These are only a handful of questions that may never be answered.  8:49am… no internet.

8:55am the time approaches!

9:00am where is the miracle?

9:10am I have lost my faith! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! 

Day four of a saga that has only been chronicled for two days, but those two days tells the story just the same.  No internet.  Previous assumptions about a secret button and PS holding the key to our internet woes seems to be unfounded.  More than likely it’s either the North Koreans or the Chinese.  Perhaps a collaboration of both to hinder the children of South Korea from learning English?  Well, they obviously don’t think very highly of the teachers here.  The internet can be a great tool in adding diversity in instruction but it is not the only tool or the best.  So block my internet and make my life a little less convenient you rapscallions!  But I shall teach these children English and tell them not to buy anything made in China! 
*Internet came on at 9am! The Prophecy was fulfilled! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I Miss...

  It doesn't get easier the longer I'm away but I wouldn't say it gets any worse either.  The longer I'm away from family and friends the more I think about the details of what makes me happy when I'm around them.

  Going for a ride with my dad... with no particular place to go.
  Talking with my mom... and disagreeing about politics.
  Punching my sister... not very hard.  Brotherly love.
  Stopping by Grandma's unexpectedly... just to visit.  And hoping she has some sweetbread.
  The Amaro's barn... no matter what kind of mood I was in I left with a smile and a helping of happiness.
  Throwing horseshoes with the boys... just wish they could beat me once in awhile.
  I miss the comradre of my friends.  I miss the ease of a summer night and the smell of fresh cut grass.  You're all never more than just a skype call away and it's always great to hear your voices.  I miss you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Drove My Chevy to the Levee

 A month just dissipated before my very eyes.  Like the exhale on a frost covered morning.  The month floated off, twisitng in the winter silence.
 February has brought a lot for me to contemplate.  I guess it's just like any other day or month.  Everyday brings new experiences, fresh views, and complex questions.  But unlike what Don McLean sang in his song 'American Pie', February didn't make me shiver.  It brought me closer to my center, closer to my contentment.  But I still have many mountains to climb.  
 To sum up my February in a few words... We all should be aware of the future and the inevitable change it will bring and the lessons of the past.  But living and life happen now.  I will prepare myself for tomorrow by embracing today. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Weather

     I phoned myself today and had a great conversation about tomorrow.

  Most Californians understand that they're spoiled in the winter months.  The mercury seldom drops below freezing.  There are periods of spring like conditions in the middle of January.  It can even trick the trees into an early bloom. 
  In most parts of California there is a reprieve from winter.  Not so much in Korea.  When the sun is out, the air still stings.  Gloves are a necessity, not just a comfort.  If you're caught outside for an extended period with uncovered ears... expect an ache.  Well insulated footwear is a must. (and something I should invest in.)
  These are no secrets to the multitudes of people who actually experience a true winter year after year.  Even myself, a native Californian, could grasp the idea of what a four month winter could feel like.  But now here I am in month number 3 and I'm ready for my reprieve.  And just think, this weather is mild compared to what friends of mine from Alaska, Colorado, and Ohio have to put up with.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Corner

  I stand at the corner.  The man flashes red.  The low dull rays of the winter sun do little to warm my face against the stinging winds.  I'm bombarded with crystalized water.  Every swirling seige impales my face.  Cars zoom by, their cargo protected from the chill for the time being.  Delivery boys on their scooters cut through the traffic, but the cold cuts through them.
  I stand at the corner.  The man still flashes red.  The mighty sun has lost this battle.  It can not excite the atoms.  The frigid grip of old man winter has slowed time itself.  Pain is emanated from the creeking and screeching of every turning vehicle.  Their brake pads sound brittle and controted.  Buses lumber along like aging old men.
  Red lights never use to be so cold when you were standing next to me.  Your body pressed against mine did what the sun tried in vain.  As much as I may have wanted time to stand still... as tight as winter squeezed... we couldn't stop the red man from flashing green.

Friday, January 14, 2011


  What is it about getting older?  I assume most people begin to reminisce about past achievements and failures and how they wish they could go back and change a thing here or there.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about that once in awhile.  But then it isn't very constructive second guessing your decisions and living in the past. Plus, I have a different bone to pick with getting older.
  Why can I not sleep in anymore?  Seriously!  What chemical in my brain decided to switch on within the last few months that has disabled my slumber mode?  Today for instance.  It's a Saturday morning, right around ten.  This would've been a perfect time to wake up after falling asleep around 1am. (Had to watch 6 episodes of the Inbetweeners!  Good show)
  But instead, I've been tossing and turning in my bed since 5:30am.  And the only reason I haven't gotten out of bed yet is because I have principles!  But now I'm just getting bored and I guess I need to get outside and make something of my weekend.  I can already hear my dad's voice, "Quit sleeping your life away!" 
  No chance in that happening.  I haven't been able to sleep my life away since I got here.  Maybe it's a gene from our prehistoric ancestors?  Something to do with survival?  At 32 I'd have been an elder statesman in my band of hairy, stone-tooled, hunch-backed relatives.  I would've needed the ability to wake up earlier then my younger counterparts in order to secure my food for the day.  That has to be it!
  "Quit sleeping your life away!"  That reminds me of another saying my dad had.  "Wake up and meet the sun half-way."  As a teenager, needing copious amounts of sleep, I would point-out to my dad, at 6am, that meeting the sun half way, could actually mean meeting the sun when it was halfway done with its day. Noon.  He didn't by it, but it made perfect sense to me.  I don't wanna sleep my life away or even meet the sun half way, but I would like the ability, again, to enjoy a few extra hours of sleep on a weekend. 
  I don't mind getting older.  If approached correctly, you'll actually mature and grow as a person and become less of an egocentric twat.  I just hope the change in personal and worldviews doesn't go hand in hand with hearing loss and bed wetting.