500th post

I started this blog in November 2014. Five hundred posts in three and a half years is an average of one post every two and half days, which is what I subjectively estimated before I calculated it.

WordPress provides me with a range of statistics (and would give me more if I paid to upgrade my plan). Since I started, the number of views per month has gone up from one or two hundred to six or seven hundred. The best month was January this year, when for no apparent reason I got over a thousand views, but that was an exception. I have had readers from 145 jurisdictions, including one from each of the Northern Mariana Islands, Burundi, Papua New Guinea, Bosnia & Herzogivina, the Palestinian Territories, Botswana, Laos, Guyana, Libya, Guam, Timor-Leste, Tajikistan, Zimbabwe, Micronesia, Guernsey, the Maldives, Barbados, Estonia, Iceland, Sudan and Benin. G’day mates. (Goodness knows what brought them here.) Continue reading


499th post – first day as a magazine sub-editor

Today was my first day as a sub-editor for a small publishing company which produces business-related magazines. Compared to my English teaching job, it’s full-time, permanent, during the day, closer to where I live* and, possibly most importantly, quiet and self-focused, ideal work for an introvert. (Editors are not only allowed to be introverts, they are possibly expected to be.**) Because this blog is semi-anonymous, I’m not going to tell you the names of the magazines, publisher or location.

Before I became an English language teacher, I worked in two different editorial jobs for about eight years, mostly for one of Australia’s leading legal publishers. I also did some work for them after I returned from South Korea the first time, and an associated part of my English language teaching has been producing materials for my colleagues who teach interpreting and translating. I had applied for a number of jobs, not just in the field of editing but also anything else I thought would be vaguely suitable, and had had (I think) 12 interviews in the last 13 months. One problem was that I am very much a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none, and would lose out to someone who had actually been doing that job for the last up to eleven and a half years. Finally …

I hope to continue this blog, but I might not have so much to write about. But I’ve got a lot left over from English language teaching, my masters study and ideas I’ve collected along the way, so there’ll be more yet.

*In the morning, I left with plenty of time to get there. In the afternoon, I left work at 5.06 and was arrived home at 6.01.

**Most of my colleagues are quieter than I am!

498th post – Last day as English language teacher

Today is my last day as an English language teacher, after more than eleven and a half years at a language college, provincial government high school and university in South Korea and language colleges in Australia. I am making this move for a wide variety of reasons, related to the ESL sector in general (an Australian student visa requires attendance at classes for 20 hours per week, so most teachers are engaged for 20 hours per week, and there is very little opportunity to advance to a full-time position), the college and colleagues (some classes at some colleges are run as courses – the students start at the same time, do the course, and finish at the same time, but our English classes have been ‘start and finish when you need to’, and I’ve had to share a small office with up to four other people of various degrees of loudness in various languages, as student of various degrees of loudness in various languages come and go), the students (who have different levels of English, life experience and personal and study backgrounds, some of whom attend way less than 20 hours per week, and come and go, use their phone, chat in their own language or sleep when they are there), and myself (basically, dealing with all of the above, and commuting). 

Through English language teaching, I’ve lived in South Korea for two periods totalling three and a half years, met my wife, travelled to Hong Kong and Japan, met all kinds of other people in South Korea and Australia, gained my masters degree (and may yet go on to doctoral study), attempted to learn Korean (하지만 아직 잘 못 해요), developed a serious hobby of photography and started this blog. On the other hand, I’ve had to largely give up my other serious hobby of classical choral singing. (I can and will return to that, but it remains to be seen whether I will ever again perform at my peak.) So now it’s time for a change. From tomorrow …

Trains of thought, revisited

I have previously written (here, scroll down to the last paragraph) about a little mental game which I (and apparently some other people) play with the carriage numbers on Sydney’s trains – the point being to make the four digits of the number total 10 using any standard mathematical process.

A few days ago I travelled in carriage number 6472. I quickly figured out (6 x 4) – (7 x 2) and (6 – 4) x (7 – 2), which seemed neatly and satisfyingly symmetrical. Is there a general pattern here? No and yes. In the second case, 4250, 5361, 6472, 7583 and 8694 all equal 10, but in the first case, 4250 equals 8, 5361 equals 9, 6472 equals 10, 7583 equals 11 and 8694 equals 12 (which is another pattern of its own). So these two equations are equivalent only when the first number is 6. I’m sure there’s a way of proving this mathematically, but my skills are too rusty.


In the last week I have learned, via social media, of the deaths of three older men who I met earlier in my life through my involvement in music in two different cities as I moved around – a cathedral organist/choir director/university lecturer, a pipe organ builder and a stalwart of the local music theatre company. I knew them well enough to remember them and to want to express my condolences, but not well enough to keep in contact with them as I moved around (though I did bump into one on one visit to that city). I left messages on the Facebook pages of their closest family member (two of whom I knew as well or better, and one of whom I only saw around and never actually spoke to, so I explained who I was). One replied briefly and the other two “hearted” my comment

The English phrase Rest in peace is often used in this context. This conveniently shares initials with the Latin phrase Requiescat in pace, but there’s a difference. Requiescat is subjunctive, and is better (and sometimes, maybe often or even usually) translated May (s/he) rest in piece. Rest by itself is imperative, so Rest in peace is Requiesce in pace (singular) or Requiescite in pace (plural). The plural of Requiescat in pace is Requiescant in pace. All of these are derived from the noun requies, which is best known in its accusative form requiem (as in Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine, Grant them eternal rest, Lord. Requies, in turn, means re + quies, or quiet again.

So, Requiescite in pace David, Peter and Peter, though I’m not sure if “quiet” is an appropriate wish for an organist, organ builder and singer. I like to imagine them getting together somewhere and making a joyful noise.

In fact, rechecking those three Facebook pages, I have just learned of the death a few months ago of another musical acquaintance, so Requiesce in pace Mary as well. I may have to stop reading Facebook.

(Most of the Latin from Wikitionary.)


I just watched a video in another language, subtitled in English by someone who isn’t a native English speaker. S/he spelled beautiful as beautifle several times. The word is beauty  + full, so I could cope with beautyfull (with beautifull and beautyful as other possibilities). The subtitler obvious has access to technology and the correct spelling is only ever a few clicks away.

No English word ends –tifle and only three – rifle, stifle and trifle – end in -ifle, and all have the long sound. If we wanted the short i pronunciation, we’d have to write beautiffle.

Can I spell any better in that other language? No, but if I had to put something in that other language on the internet, I’d get someone who can, to check it.

PS As spelling mistakes go, it’s at the less serious end of the scale. It’s perfectly clear what it means, it doesn’t change the meaning and it’s not accidentally funny or rude.


Rocks the size of analogies

A newspaper website headline in Australia says that the volcano in Hawaii is spewing rocks the size of microwaves. How big (or small) is that? 1 metre to 1 millimetre. A one-millimetre rock is not a rock. The first paragraph of the story then says ‘boulders the size of small cars’, which are presumably the size of radio waves.

That said, I wouldn’t want to be landed on by a one-metre rock spewed from a volcano.

[update 27 May: I saw a headline from a US paper which referred to ‘fridge-sized boulders’, so maybe the Australian headline referred to microwave ovens, not microwave radiation. There’s a difference in size between a microwave oven, a fridge and a small car.]