Dear Royal Bank: Fail

17 10 2011

So I had some financial woes of late, it’s a long story but essentially something happened to my bank account and I had to rush and put all my money on my credit card.  But then there was no money in my account to make their metered out payments, and it was around Chinese New Year so that means no real money coming in for a month or so to send money home.

Anyway it was a bit of a mess, and when I tried to talk to them about it, all they would do is spout parroted bullshit with out any thought.   That’s assuming they would talk to me at all and not be incredibly rude and condescending.   So I ended up just writing it off, I’d make a payment when I was able to send money home.  Normally that would be in a month, two tops… but because of Chinese New Year it ended up taking 3 months to get enough money together to be worth sending home.

My card got cut off, and no one called me or informed me of what was happening.  The only reason I even found out was because I couldn’t update apps on my ipod, and when I called the bank, everyone I talked to was unbelievable rude.  Like I was some sort of  degenerate who had be accumulating mountains of debt and paying nothing for years, as opposed to I missed two payment I live overseas and I contacted then and let them know in advance.  Assholes.

I got pissed off with the rudeness and  asked to be transferred to someone else with manners.  After much BS I finally got someone who didn’t have their head in their ass, got everything sorted out and then I specifically asked if I was going to be running into any other issues or problems in relation to this situation.  I was assured that I wouldn’t and happily went about my life.

Oh another unforeseen shit fest was, I applied for a loan online but wasn’t able to complete it, it would have paid off my credit card and been at a much lower interest rate.  I needed to be in Canada and walk into a bank to sign the papers, but then all this happened and temporarily screwed my credit rating so I couldn’t get the loan while I was home.. most annoying part?  My credit rating corrected within 2-3 months when I was no longer in the country… annoying.

Then, in August they jack my interest rate.. ASSHOLES.  I pay for a low interest rate card and then they bump my interest up…dicks.  I call, pitch a fit and am again treated like a complete piece of shit.  I progressively get more pissed off, and finally get someone polite who agrees that the bank actually screwed up, but she’s not high enough up to change or fix anything.  She promises to talk to people and call me back.  No call, they have completely failed at communicating with and getting back to me.  GRRR

So I call again, pitch a bit of a fit, and insist on speaking to manager, they have taken another installment of interest at this ridiculous rate and everyone is so rude.  There is no manager on, but this girl takes the whole story down and swears someone will call in 24-48 hours max.  Four days later no god damn call.

Now in this time, it occurs to me that I really should just tell them to stuff it.  I mean if I let the card default, let it go into collections, wait a while then contact collections  I can pay it back at 30-50 cents on the dollar.  So I get to keep my money now, don’t have to borrow money from my friend and i’m kinda debt free now.  BITCHES.  sure it messes up my credit rating, in a country I don’t live in and have no intentions of going back to anytime soon.  Shrug, what do I care?

And if I wasn’t such a god damn goodie two shoes…. that is exactly what I would do.  So lame, I wish I was badder…. but given how badly Visa was behaving  I was ready to be bad.

But.. sigh… this week I called and actually got someone intelligent and polite on the phone, who listened to me rant and actually tried to fix things.  Returned the last interest payment (the interest rate had already been fixed) so they returned all they money they took illegitimately plus some.  When I said wasn’t really enough, I got a genuine apology and he offered me a different card with some points that would give me some merch.

Honestly, it still isn’t enough but I’m damn well taking it, I will pay my visa off.  But I am definitely going to investigate other banks credit cards and what they can do for me.  I’m a good customer, and they don’t seem to get that.

I have paid the thing off, but I’m completely unimpressed.

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TEDx Magda.. tee hee

9 04 2011

For some odd reason they didn’t want to change the name of the event… odd…  Just kidding :D..

I will write later, but I thought I would post my ‘speech’ for those who were interested but unable to make it 🙂  The truth is I didn’t really follow my script and I can’t really tell you how far off of the ‘reservation’ I went until I see the video.  But here’s hoping it was good.  There was a lot of really good positive feed back, and I had a great time.  I’m heading out to see some people, but here is what I wrote.   http://tedxmonga.com/en/tedxmonga-ii

A few months back I lost my voice, not for a day or two, it lasted almost a full week.  And as anyone who knows me could tell you, this was a personal disaster.   It was also a potentially professional one as well.    As a teacher this was an especially difficult and challenging situation to face.  Imagine if you will, that your livelihood depended on your being able, to not only express ideas, but to also expand on them, to interact and communicate in a deep way with others.  Suddenly conventional methods are no longer available.  What do you do?

I could have done what most people suggested and just stayed home, but that didn’t seem quite right to me.  I genuinely believe in innovation and creativity in Education.

And that is why I am here today. In spite of how exciting a story of a mute teacher might be, I want to tell you about what we can accomplish with a little creativity, even in a seemingly rigid environment.

Asia has a very strict and busy education system. It’s extremely competitive over here, and to be successful many feel you must be the best.  To be the best you must work harder and longer than the other millions of people that you are competing with.  It’s a tall order and as a result students are loaded up with hour upon hour of assignments, homework, and extra classes.  It can start in kindergarten and the pressure, classes, and extra homework continues to increase over the years.

Kids here don’t often have much of a chance to be kids, at least in the minds of many who are observing and coming from a different background.  Speaking for myself, I never had to do 6 hours of homework after class, not even in senior high school when prepping for university.  I remember many a happy afternoon spent pouring over books, playing games and just generally relaxing and having fun.

So with all of this pressure and competition, is there any wiggle room for fun and new ideas?  In the past I have frequently been told by many an educator, and administrator there isn’t.   And I have always felt that that is pure and unadulterated garbage.  There is always another way.  So a few years ago I took matters into my own hands, I ignored the negative Nancy’s who told me that Taiwanese parents would never let their kids play games and just have fun;  That there must be tests and homework, writing assignments etc to prove the value and worth of any form of education. I started talking to kids and parents about something new, something different.  A way to study and learn that wasn’t about writing the same thing 1000 times, doing drills, or any other boring form of study.

So where did this all come from?  Honestly, I regularly play board games with my friends and on some level I wanted to find a way to bring my play to work. While playing, I learn and practice things about history, science, new vocabulary, math skills, and the psychology of others, critical thinking and problem solving.  And I do this all on my own time, for fun.   Sounds like work, doesn’t it?  Well it is, and it’s not.

Games have built in reward systems; there are points, achievements, constant progression and movement toward goals throughout the games.  They are riddled with puzzles and problems to solve both big and small, every success is marked and noted.   This all got me thinking, what if there was a way to use this great device to help bring a little fun and excitement into the educational lives of my students.  So I decided to just start using board games, as a learning tool.

You might not believe me here, but I swear to you it’s the truth.  It was fun.  I know, pure blasphemy, no fun should ever be had, in the sanctity of the learning sphere.

When using unconventional tools for learning, such as board games, we provide students with opportunities to communicate in a different way.   Different parts of the mind are engaged and activated, it encourages a more well rounded and active learning experience. Have you ever tried to learn a new subject, language or task simply by reading about it?  How about only being told?  Now think of a time where you were able to immerse yourself in the learning.  Where you actively took part in what you were trying to learn, you had to complete tasks, collaborate and communicate with others who were also involved.

Inhibitions are left behind in the excitement of the possibility of tromping your opponents.  You stop worrying so much about your personal short comings, and focus on the task at hand.  Sometimes it’s a cooperative effort, sometimes it’s competitive, and other times it’s a combination of the two.  Regardless it helps build relationships, not only with what you’re studying but also between the participants; there is a certain comrade-ry that arises.  Additionally, vocabulary and phrases are used over and over again, math skills are needed to calculate and manage your money or scores.  All of this results in becoming more interested and engaged in the topic allowing for a more rounded learning experience.

Studying, words, sentences and grammar from a book in a classroom is effective but it’s also very one dimensional.  Being actively involved in a game is an exciting and fun way to not only practice what you already know and understand, but to also to learn new things in a dynamic fashion.  Allowing you to not only remember more easily but understand on a deeper level.

I was told this would be difficult if not impossible to do in Asia; that local children would never be allowed to waste precious time on such an unstructured activity.  That adults and parents wouldn’t be interested or buy into something so unregulated.  Yet, I have been running a very successful program at a school doing just this for a couple of years now.  I use these games as learning tools in my Adult classes, and am constantly being asked for more game time.

I have also been doing guest lectures for student teachers, and tutors from schools that are interested in this new way of engaging the students.  More and more people are looking for something new, something different and more importantly something interesting.  I have even done a seminar with Junior high and high school teachers from all over the country; telling them of the benefits, and helping them brain storm ideas and ways that they can adapt these kinds of games and activities into the current school system that they have to work within.

Being invited to speak to other teachers, and seeing them embrace these ideas and principals of learning, has been a really gratifying experience.  In recent years there have been more and more people interested in board gaming as a social tool, which can easily be seen by the massive growth of the BoardGameGeek site.  And I believe we can clearly see that utilizing these games as an educational tool not only has the potential to take off but has already gotten many excited about the idea.

There is so much we can learn from a little play.

Here is a little video to give you a small taste of what I’m talking about.





Christmas Reruns…

11 12 2010

So if you’ve been checking ye old blog recently you may have thought to your self… wow Magda has been writing again!  Promptly followed by a strong sense of deja vue.

Yes, they are older posts thatI moved to the front of the blog.  I did this because at the TEDXmonga thing, my name and web page were in the book.  Now I have absolutely no idea if anyone will even look at it, BUT they might.  And the only thing I had posted recently was a rant about the TSA.  Didn’t seem very TEDdy ;).

Plus, I have written some pretty good stuff in the past, I just haven’t had the writing bug lately.  I was also hoping posting and rereading all that stuff might motivate me to get off my duff and get back to writing, and life n stuff.

So there you go, the reruns explained ;P





The Art of Failure

10 12 2010

Being afraid of failure is STUPID . (<— I should write the book)

Success is 99% Failure - HondaI freely admit I am a moron.  I’m am terrified of failure, coupled with my shrieking fear of change I’m nigh on crippled half the time.  The other half I just rock and stare at the wall praying it will all go away now, it never does you know.

You wouldn’t think it, (or maybe you would) but I really am.  And that’s with my knowing why it’s stupid to be worried about failure.  But obviously I don’t KNOW it.  I know on some intellectual, theoretically level but it’s not part of who I am, yet!  I mean look at the whole, quit my morning job business.  Scary, but then what did I do with the whole thing?  And then I was deliberating over that whole online course I was taking, now I’m just sorta floating around trying to choose a direction to move in.

Why?  What’s the big hold up?  I’m smart, I know how to do things, I’m extremely good at most thing when I put my mind to it.  Hell I’m good at them when I don’t even put my mind to it.  What is it that’s holding me back from…. taking over the world ( 😀 per-say)?

Fear, mind boggling terror.  Of what?  Failure.  That’s right, I’m a moron.  I’m completely freaked that I’m going to try to do something, loose a bunch of money, make some horrible mistake and look like a fool.  Really what do I care?  No offense but I don’t really care what ‘people’ think, so what the hell is my problem?

Here I am, telling you, how stupid it is to be afraid to fail.  Hypocrite!!

Well, screw it! Hypocrite or not, I’m telling you all (and myself) to stop it.  Stop holding yourself back, reach as far as you can.  So what if you fall on your face, get back up and reach again. k8132 If all you ever do and try is what you’re confidant of, you will never even come close to reaching any kind of potential.  You will be like everyone else, mediocre, average, CRAP!!!

Well, what’s the art then?

Do you have to fail?

That’s pretty much it, isn’t it?  You need to stop being scared, and the only truly effective way I know to stop being Read the rest of this entry »





Seminar

13 11 2010

So this weekend (Ok sadly I wrote 90% of this the weekend after my birthday AT the seminar….) I’m in a seminar for Eye’s open hypnosis.  The opportunity came up just before my birthday and I though..  it’s something I’m interested in so I should step outside of my box and give it a go.  And I’m really glad I decided to to it.  So far we’re halfway through the first day, and it’s been really interesting, there have been many cool discussions and demonstrations.

Coming way out to XiZhi (ShiJr) and tying up my whole weekend isn’t something I’ve been excited about, but it’s been a really positive experience so far.  Brian, who is giving  the seminar is really good at what he does and is very intelligent and personable.  So it’s not only interesting, it’s quite fun because he’s got a quirky sense of humor.

Plus he’s got a Siamese cat.. which we all know is my true love ;0)  He’s Siamese yowling right now.. aka someone pay attention to me damn it.

We’ve been talking about hypnosis and NLP and how to use it in therapy, and influence.  My favourite book, Influence: science and practice has been brought up several times which of course has pleased me to no end.

There are 6 of us here taking the seminar, one girl is interesting resistance to physical responses, but then he used her analyzing and resistance to physical cues to distract her and her critical factor  suddenly you could see her respond to things that she was clearly resistant to.  She described it very well, that you are at crossroads, to refuse or to go into the ‘fog’.  It’s like  lucid dreaming, when you  realize you’re dreaming you have a few seconds to make a choice; wake up or dive in.  Refuse it, or play along.

Anyway the weekend was very interesting, Brian actually did some therapy on me and it really helped.  He also showed us how to do some of the therapies on and with others.  Interestingly Brian is one of the best at what he does and is quite well known in the US but over here there isn’t much awareness.

Then a few weeks ago Brian had a show at the Comedy club and I was determined to enjoy the show and not be on the stage.  In order to make sure I got to watch I brought two of my friends who I had fairly good reason to be sure that they would be good subjects.

Wooo nelly I was right.   I had a fantastic time.  Unfortunately there weren’t many people at the show but we had a great time.  We all hung out having drink afterwards and ended up at a KTV of all places.  😀

Here are a couple of video clips from the show 😀





TEDxFormosa

2 10 2010

So I did something silly, I applied to be a speaker for the TEDx thingie in Taipei this December.  While it’s not particularity likely that the powers that be will choose me to be a presenter, you never know I’ve seen odder talks before.  Honestly, I applied because it certainly doesn’t hurt to try, and it would be SO cool if I was chosen to participate.

But what the hell could you possibly talk about?  Have you met me?  I could talk about anything but something that might be TED worthy?  Well the topic is things that work well in Asia, so any innovations, ideas or practices that work and are more Asia specific.  Well I have my board game project, which has gotten me invited to be a speaker to a few different things.  Actually I just finished a speaker seminar type thing today.  This time it was more on conversation classes, which I also have a little experience in, but not really the same passion for.

I think the whole board games as an educational tool is a really fun and interesting topic and I feel rather passionately about it.  Perhaps it is just because it allows me to have fun and interact while introducing people to games.  But mostly I think it’s an untapped resource to aid in learning and study.

Regardless, I think it’s pretty cool that there will be a TEDx conference in Taipei this year.  And it would be so very cool to be involved.

Eeep, I’m kinda sleepy and run down from my speech today and getting up early to go running, like a good girl.  That will be all, I’ll keep you posted.  J





Kohl’s Cares

27 08 2010

This company in the states that my friend (who just had a baby and her husband and also my friend went a little wild making a website for the baby, if you’re into baby pictures you can check it out here .  He’s actually quite a good photographer, so while I don’t give a hoot about baby pictures, his pics are really good.  Here are some more of his photos if you’re into that sort of thing on Flicr. Fuck ramble ramble.. sorry back to the point) MJ works at, Kohl’s .. which I always thought was spelled Coles, is giving away 10 million dollars to 20 schools which is a pretty nice thing to be doing.    Now of course their probably not doing it just out of the goodness of their hearts, but hey when you give away 10 million dollars I think you deserve a little attention and good press.

So the way they’ve decided to do it is to hold a contest online through facebook, handy as everyone is there most of the day anyway.   You go to their facebook ‘busines’s and then you can vote 20 times (max of 5 times per school).  I love things that let me be philanthropic with other people’ money.

So even cooler my friend Casey lives in Milwaukee and apparently Kohls is a Milwaukee based company.  There are three schools in the runn Read the rest of this entry »