Aug 302015
 

It’s only week 2 of the semester and everything is starting to speed up…. I am going to have to be careful not to overdo myself as I can definitely tell a major crash could occur….

Everything is good at the moment, thankfully! Although I wasn’t totally enthused to be back in the classroom, I find that I don’t mind it so far. The class of guys that I am teaching are generally good – though it is still definitely early days. Also, I was able to get an education class on literacy and English language learning. I taught my first one today and boy what a difference it is to teach content with students who are actually engaged! So, it might be a nice new challenge to return to my teaching roots…. 😉

Actually, I am still trying to ground myself without the pursuit of the PhD. I still do not regret stopping the studies, as I feel much more relaxed not having to worry about it. However, I am now finding myself considering an MBA or other possible courses I can/should take. I do want to keep to waiting until the new year before pursuing anything major, but it does tell me that I have an itch for something even if it is not the PhD itself – or maybe I should consider the EdD…. 😛 Anyway, something to think about.

In the meantime, I am keeping plenty busy with trying to find time to work on a re-launch of an old website, hanging out with M and friends, doing some side work here and there and staying relaxed and sane all at the same time!

So, everything will come along as it should with some moderation, deep breaths and smiles!

More to come,

~T 😀

 Posted by at 20:48
Aug 232015
 

One of the main reasons to head to the west coast of Norway is to see the fjords. It was beautiful just to wake up to the view of the lake and we got to watch a bit more of the parasailing competition before we hopped on the three-car local train from Voss to make our way to Myrdal, which is higher up in the mountain.

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23-Jun-2015 13:53, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 11.0, 10.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100
 

Then, we crossed the platform and got onto a small old-fashioned (tourist) gauge train to Flam. Along the way, we made a brief stop to see a pretty cool waterfall

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23-Jun-2015 12:27, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 2.65mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
 

and then ended in Flam, which happens to be a stop for cruise ships touring the fjords. Thus, there really is nothing to do there. We had a couple of hours to kill, so we stopped into a little supermarket for a drink and snacks to enjoy in the park.

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23-Jun-2015 13:47, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 2.65mm, ISO 32
 
From Flam, we took a ferry to Belastrand about 1.5 hours through the fjords. There were a number of picturesque moments along the way. We braved the wind the whole time to take as many photos from the back and then fought our way forward from time to time to get some different shots. Although it was beautiful overall and I definitely enjoyed it – I wasn’t overly impressed….I know, I’m spoiled!!! 😛
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23-Jun-2015 16:46, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 40
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23-Jun-2015 17:38, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 9.0, 10.0mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 200
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23-Jun-2015 16:06, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
 
The town of Belastrand isn’t that big and seems to be just a stopover for those touring the fjords.The main attraction in town seems to be Saint Olaf’s church.
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23-Jun-2015 19:46, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 10.0, 35.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
 
Since there weren’t  a lot of food and drink options in the town, we paid the hotel prices for a nice dinner with a view of the water, which was worth it!
So, that was a lovely visit of the fjords! Here are the pics:
More to come,
-T 😀
Aug 212015
 

All my best intentions to stay on a writing schedule have been waylaid by the realities of returning to work. I definitely need to reset my scheduling priorities – but will try to get through the first week of classes and see how the dust settles before cementing a flexible routine. 

The other day, I found this article by the Huffington Post on why to-do lists aren’t as effective as scheduling. I thought I was just extremely weird and anal by putting “get up” onto my calendar, but it turns out I’m on my way to being a millionaire!! 😛 Anyway, that gave me some motivation to look at my scheduling habits again. 

So, the first week back was a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed seeing my colleague friends again and catching up with people. However, unproductive meetings are a huge pet peeve of mine…. Plus, this weekend is requiring a huge attitude shift for me as I had really wanted to be doing what I was doing last year and not be in the classroom. I was actually mentally preparing myself for the reality that I would be teaching again, but was not prepared to be in the lowest of the lowest level with boys again and then also sharing with two other people rather than just one. Needless to say that put me in a bit of a mood yesterday! 😐

In the end, it will all be okay and maybe the odds will get better as the next week progresses. Either way, I gotta make the best of it and focus on the four-year “dream” board. It’s all just a means to an end and teaching will free me up to pursue my other interests. So, it’s all good – or it will be!!  Haha. 😀

Well, that’s my week in a nutshell. Somehow I will finish the summer updates and pics!!!

-T 😀

 Posted by at 09:18
Aug 172015
 

After our fairly short visit in Oslo, we took the train from Oslo to Voss. Voss seems to be the European destination for sports, camping and general ‘outback’ family holiday. It is a beautiful town located on a lake and my hotel room looked out on the mountain caps and lake.

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22-Jun-2015 20:01, Canon Canon EOS 70D, 9.0, 13.0mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 100
 

Poor J, got a view of the train tracks….:( 😀

One of the best parts of the journey to Voss was passing the snow!! We were chatting along and suddenly saw out the window a land of WHITE! It was quite amazing and beautiful. Neither of us had seen snow in ages, so it was quite a treat. Plus, the weather was so gorgeous compared to the desert heat we had left behind.

It also happened to be some parasailing/hangliding championship the weekend we were there, so we got to see quite a few competitors fly up high into the clouds and come down with spins and tricks. Quite cool!

We were also a bit giddy from the freedom and escape of the desert. So, everything seemed really wonderful to us. Furthermore, it was still light out even at midnight – we had dinner at 10:30 forgetting the time! It is definitely worth the visit out to Voss if one is going to be in Scandinavia. If I were to return to Norway, I think this would be a must-return-to-place!

Here are the pics:

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 152015
 

Our next stop on our Scandinavia adventure was Oslo. So, we took the train on a rather wet morning through the countryside and found ourselves in the small capital of Norway.

While people in the touristy areas were friendly enough, no one was overly friendly. We still did a lot of walking and found ourselves seeing a few interesting places within the downtown area. However, when we hit the tram to find our way to Frogenparken and Vigelandsparken, we were amazed by the sculptures and monument created there. It was very moving to walk around seeing the faces and sculptures of people from all walks of life designed as loving in unity.

We also took in the greenery as we do not see much of that in the desert! 😀

Here are the pics:

Overall, aside from the park, it wasn’t a very memorable city as far as sights are concerned. What is memorable is the extremely high cost of just about everything…! :(

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 132015
 

After the couple of days of “work” in London, I flew off to Copenhägen, Denmark to meet my friend, J, for our Scandinavia adventure. We had booked a 12-day ‘tour’ to see the region and I couldn’t wait!

We started with Copenhägen for two nights and fell in love with the sights, people (aka tall men!) and food. Everyone was very friendly to us – perfect strangers – and helped us with ideas for food or things to see. It’s just the right size city that is fairly walkable, but not too small that you’d get tired of it. We did a lot of walking and exploring of the entire city.

Some highlights included the caramelized pork burger smothered with potato salad on a bun and walking through the ‘cannibas’ quarters with its graffiti and liberalism. 😀

Here are the pics!

P.S. I will keep most of these posts fairly short, as I plan to do some travel writing on another site where I have published a few stories before. I’ll update these posts with the links once I get to them. :)

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 112015
 

Oh it seems ages ago that I was leaving for the UK to do some work training as the start of my summer holidays…. It will be nice to reminisce as I update here on my last eight weeks! 😛

I may or may not have written before that I am trained as an Apple Education Trainer (AET) formally known as an Apple Professional Developer (APD). While this does not mean that I work for Apple – I wish – it does mean that I can train others on how to use Apple/Mac programs and devices on their behalf, but NOT as an official employee. If that sounds convoluted – it is. Basically, I have the authorization to train on Apple’s behalf, but not the certification to make it official. Also, I am currently authorized through the university where I work, but not as an individual – meaning if I leave the university and join one that does not have authorization with Apple, I no longer have said authorization to do any training even though all the knowledge is still in my head…. Yep, clear as mud!

So, on occasion, Apple sponsors training on programs, updates or pedagogy for their education branch. There are times when an AET or AETs will be sponsored and invited to attend these special training sessions. One came up to attend one at Apple’s London headquarters looking at Challenge-based Learning with the affordances of the Mac ecosystem.

Since they were willing to subsidize one night stay at a hotel and it was just the beginning of my holidays, I got permission to go away early and attend.

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18-Jun-2015 09:52, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.03 sec, ISO 80
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18-Jun-2015 10:18, Apple iPhone 6, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 250
 

It was a very interesting day and it was nice to visit London again. I got a different feel for it this second time around and though it’s still not NYC, I think I liked it better.

With that last bit of business out of the way, it was time to begin my European tour!

More to come,

-T 😀

Aug 092015
 

So…is the suspense killing you???? 😛

The results at the beginning of June revealed that…HS is NOT my biological family!!! 😮

Yep…after all that assumption that if I were to search I would find them, it seems that I am actually even less able to find my biological parents than those who were given zero information.

To be honest, I have to say that I felt relief when I found out. It was weighing on me thinking about having a huge extended family to contend with. Now, I realized that I am totally free of any blood responsibilities. Although I am an ‘orphan’ without any clue as to who my birth parents might be, I am also very much a free agent. 😉

Still, curiosity remains…all those crime shows and investigative thoughts have started to come into my mind. WHO are my birth parents then that they went through a great deal of effort to hide their true identity from me? Or, is there more to the Om family than meets the eye? Was KB also adopted so that she would not have the same DNA as HS, whom I did the test with? After all, HS did say that KB was the only one of the sisters who did not look like the others…could it be because she was not originally part of the Om family?

My paperwork clearly marks the Om name as my family name with their address. The father is the one who would know, but he passed away in 2001. So, now all I have is speculation. IF someone did use KB’s name for the paperwork, then why? Most South Korean families are poor or uneducated and giving up a child is not so complicated to take the time to hide an identity – just leave the poor baby at a police box or such if need be. So, who are these people that would make such an effort?

For most of my childhood I fantasized that I was a princess hidden away from the royal family’s enemies to protect me and someday I would be found to return to my rightful place. Yes, I have always had a vivid imagination – but now I may not be so far off!!! 😛 My mom says to go with a mafia story – my birth parents were wanted by the mafia crime syndicate and they gave me up to protect me from being killed. 😀

Or, a more plausible option is that my birth parents were North Korean or at least one of them was and were being helped by the Om family – thus being allowed to use KB’s name and her father’s on my paperwork. This would perhaps explain why I could not be put into the family registry – as noted on my paperwork.

Or, a new option could be that KB is not an Om…and the only way to find out the truth on that would be to get her DNA directly…but that is not really an option at this point.

Since updating HS with the DNA results, she has closed off connection – fair enough to her. I am sure that it was an upsetting ordeal to begin with and now that there is clear proof that we are not biologically connected, she does not owe me anything. Still, my curiosity is increasing….

Ultimately, though, I do not feel an emotional need to find the ‘truth’. I am totally okay with the freedom of no known blood ties anywhere. It goes with my personality and who I have become. Yet…I know that the story is not yet finished…..

-T 😀

Aug 072015
 

The end of May arrived and about once a week I would check the website for an update on the DNA results, though I knew they would also send an email.

Since both samples were under my account, I could switch back and forth on what was being revealed.

My mind was swinging back and forth on how I might feel about the results.

The idea of possibly having a biological family that was partially in Korea, partially in the States was enormous to me. I began to think about what would be expected of me should they really be my biological family. Would I build relationships with my potential birth mother’s sisters and her daughters – my half-sisters? Would I have to go to Korea to meet extended relatives there and deal with the shame or sympathy that would go along with that? What exactly would we become? Did I even want all of that?

People asked me what my gut was saying about the possible results. A part of me felt that this must be my biological family. Things seemed to fit together and I felt as if there must be a reason for why I would oddly wanted to live in Washington state when I was a teenager and the draw that I had/have for Hawai’i. One of my friends said that it was probably true and that they have a saying in Spanish that the blood draws the heart – meaning that there’s a chance my heart has always known. Still, without hard facts, there is no way to prove it and I’m a hard facts kind of person. Besides, how did I know if it was my mind and heart wanting the answer to be that it was indeed them?

On the other side, if this was not to be my biological family, then what did that mean for me? All of my life I had believed that I could find them easily with all of the information that I was given that other adoptees had not. If it wasn’t them, then where were my biological parents and who are they really? Maybe I am truly an orphan? Maybe my fairy tale story of being royalty and hidden away for my safety is actually true???? 😀

So, I really was torn between the two possibilities. I spoke with a coach about it, just to make sure that I really was not going to be unbalanced by one answer or another. It seemed I was going to be okay with whatever the results would be….

😀 -T

Aug 052015
 

To continue….

So, two years later, I received an email from HS inquiring as to how I was and apologizing for not writing sooner, but that she needed time to process. She asked me to connect with her on Kakao Talk, which is the Korean version of WhatsApp. So, I did.

We exchanged a few messages and pictures. She updated me on life and asked me to call her “Auntie” in Korean. Hm…this felt a bit too much for me! I still didn’t even know if she was my “family” or not. So, I tried and then approached the topic of DNA testing again.

She didn’t seem aware of how it works, but I explained that services like 23andme.com were simple and easy to do – just send in a spit sample. She agreed to do it.

Therefore, early in the year, I ordered two boxes to be shipped out – one for me and one for her. As they do not ship to the UAE, I planned to complete it while home visiting my parents over spring break at the end of March.

HS and I continued to exchange messages now and then, but what is there to say when you aren’t sure if there is a reason to build a relationship or not? I did get the sense that she was thinking that this might be a reason for why her sister, KB, had lost touch with reality. I also felt that it could explain some things. Still, the part of the story where no one seemed to know anything and the fact that her age didn’t match up was lingering in my mind. However, none of this would be all that strange in a country that doesn’t admit to ibyangs (adoptees) or the loss of face unless forced to. So, I was impressed that HS was willing anyway to give it a go.

We both sent off our samples, only to find that she needed to redo it. Thankfully, 23andme allows for a second sample for free if there is some error, so our results were delayed by another month or so. In the meantime, I tried to not think about it too much….

😀 -T