What’s My Story?


I’m honored that the editorial staff at Microsoft again chose World Adventurers to feature on this week’s "What’s Your Story?"  I also want to send a shout out to fellow bloggers Ladybug’s Life, A Teacher’s Teacher, and Healthy Cooking, whose blogs were also featured this week by Windows Live Spaces.  As Jim Carrey said while portraying Stanley Ipkiss, a man bestowed with powers by the Norse God Loki in the movie, "The Mask"–You love me!  You really love me!  Someone on the Spaces.live.microsoft.formerlyknownasmsnspaces.canwemakethisdomainanylonger.com staff must like what I write (I’m only kidding MSN–you know I love you).  World Adventurers was initially featured on "The Best of MSN Spaces" in September 2005 and again in February 2006.  From time to time, Windows Live Spaces features the same blogs again.  Because this week is Chuseok, one of Korea’s most important holidays, I think it’s fitting that Spaces chose to highlight a blog about Korea this week.

Dear Reader, thank you for stopping by to peruse World Adventurers and posting your comments.  Stop by anytime.  I’ll try to respond to as many comments as I can.  Lately I haven’t had as much time to write as I would like, so any extra time I have will be devoted to posting entertaining content and responding to your comments.  If you have a blog on Spaces that hasn’t yet been featured, you might be wondering…hey, how come this guy’s blog gets featured so often when my blog has never been featured?  Well, never fear.  Here are some suggestions that might help you curry favor with the Spaces editorial staff: 

  1. Choose a theme for your blog, and write about related topics.  Pick a theme you think your blog audience will find interesting.  Some themes are more interesting than others.  Religion and politics always seem to attract attention, for better or for worse, while niche topics do not.  Travel and adventure are popular themes.  Sports, technology, fashion, and day-to-day insights are good.  Zany, quirky blogs do well, as do blogs chroncling quests to achieve challenging goals and objectives (e.g. if your purpose is to document your travels across the Sahara Desert or fight to overcome adversity, readers will be interested).
  2. Write frequently, and write well.  Frequent postings is definitely a plus.  Write in complete, grammatically-correct sentences.  Throw in a few witty remarks and some seldom-used words for good measure.  Don’t be too long-winded (I’m guilty of this) or too terse brief in your postings.  If your focus is on photography or art, then consider posting intriguing, high-quality photos or sketches like my fellow blogger mars_wolf.  If you’re an artist, try posting samples of your work.
  3. Add original content and document references.  It is better to document your own ideas than to recite from other sources.  Citing other sources is fine, but be sure to give credit when you refer to other people’s work.  I always use italics when I quote other sources.  If possible, avoid posting copyrighted material without permission.  Minimize the amount of recitation in a blog entry, unless it fits into the theme of your blog post.  For example, on Martin Luther King’s Day in 2005, I cited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s entire "I Have a Dream" speech because few have read the speech in its entirety. 
  4. Unless it is absolutely riveting, avoid focusing too much on your personal life.  Expand your blog entries beyond discussions of your personal life, whether it be personal photos, discussions of friends, or family matters.  If you write about personal matters, tie it into your blog’s theme (e.g. your quest to win a marathon, taking care of children, or getting a good job).  You can also feature friends, family, and acquaintances on your blog.  I have occasionally bantered on this blog with readers I know, and each month I feature the blog written by someone I know.  Maybe you have a crazy uncle or a quirky friend.  People love soap operas, so decide up front whether you want to play out your life on a blog.  You’ll get a lot of hits, but you may regret playing your life’s drama out on the blogosphere.
  5. Enhance your blog with photos, lists, music, and a variety of topics.  Blogs are entertaining.  It is good to post entertaining content appealing to all five senses.  If you post a blog entry, try adding photos.  Photos truly are worth more than 1,000 words.  Adding a song is also good, but don’t loop it so that it plays on and on and…on.  No one wants to listen to "I Will Survive" five times in a row while they finish reading your last 10 blog entries.  As soon as the Internet can transmit smells, I will post a dallop of kimchi for you to enjoy.  Start an e-mail writing campaign.  If you think you have a good blog, don’t be shy!  Let MSN Spaces know Also, you can encourage your avid readers to submit your blog to Windows Live Spaces for a "What’s Your Story?" feature.
  6. Harness the power of the blogosphere.  The Internet is about interconnectivity.  Feature links to your favorite bloggers, and ask them to link to your own blog.  This will encourage cross-traffic.  Korea’s top blogger, R.J. Koehler (aka "The Marmot’s Hole") and I are acquaintances, and we have links to each other’s blogs.  Linking to top bloggers or web sites typically do not increase traffic to your site because they don’t know you and probably won’t return the favor by linking to your blog.
  7. Be kind to the Spaces editorial staff.  I have referred to the Window Live Spaces staff off and on since I started this blog, because I know they read our blogs–or at least troll for good content.  Sometimes I pass along my preferences (I still prefer the old MSN Spaces format), and sometimes I’m complimentary (thanks for letting me blog for free).  One of these days, I will take the Spaces editorial staff to lunch to thank them for liking this blog so much. 

Blog Notes:  Dear Reader, you might be wondering, "OK, so, what’s your story, World Adventurer?"  I’m often intentionally vague about personal details, but in an upcoming blog entry I will tell you more about our life and what I do as a Foreign Service officer.  Check back again soon!

* This is an updated blog entry posted February 11, 2006.

The beauty of small groupthink


It’s been said that groupthink is bad, that the group influences individual opinions and leads to conformity and discourages the free flow of good ideas.  I was recently involved in two group meetings dealing with sticky issues, one last Monday and one tonight.  Group one included eight people trying to put together a schedule and arrange logistics for an important meeting.  Group two included three people tackling several critical issues.  The first group spent about five hours locked in a room, trying to build concensus from a spectrum of opinions.  I left, somewhat disillusioned, long before it ended.  The second group spent 50 minutes tackling equally weighty issues, and with razor-like precision, the three of us resolved all outstanding issues–and more. 
 
There’s a lot to be said about small groups working through tough issues.  Having large groups with many stakeholders who need to have their say and forging concensus is a bit overrated.

Intoxicated bliss


To inebriate is bliss, to wake up the next morning is remiss.
 
Any questions?

Being someone else


I’m sitting here typing at a colleague’s work station in Shanghai, someone I’ve never met.  We’re on a work exchange.  We swapped jobs for a couple of weeks.  Right now he is probably at my home in Seoul after a day at work sitting at my desk, working on work I would normally do.  I’m doing work he does here in Shanghai.  I will soon walk back to his home where I am staying for a couple of weeks.  It’s an radical sensation when you feel like you’re living someone else’s life.  For a brief moment in time, we will glimpse each others’ lives.  We don’t really know what it’s like to actually be someone else, but still we’re immersed in a different reality than our own. 
 
His life here in Shanghai isn’t too shabby–I’m doing my best not to clutter it up with junk.  I wonder what he thinks of mine, especially since he doesn’t have any children.  I can tell our personalities are different, so who knows what he’ll think after living my life for a couple of weeks.  He lives a DINKs lifestyle (double-income, no kids), whereas my life is built around child rearing.  Maybe it will be enlightening.  I doubt he will play with play dough or drink juice boxes.  If his wife becomes pregnant in the next couple of months, I will definitely wonder whether she became enamored by all the children’s toys laying around the house.  His life has certainly been enlightening to me.  I’d forgotten what it was like not to have any children.
 
If nothing else, it’s been fun.  Trying exchanging your life with someone else for a change.  It’s pretty cool!

One moment in time


I didn’t come up with this, but I thought it was intriguing enough to share with you:
Tomorrow at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 a.m., the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.  That won’t happen again.

Indeed. 

 

Where was I on 06:05:04 03/02/01?

 

It was a Friday morning.  I was getting ready for work in the Seattle area, looking forward to the weekend.  The weather was probably cool and rainy.  The Great Earthquake hit just four days earlier, on 2/28/01, and 9/11/01 was still months away.  The Seattle area was still struggling with the aftermath of the devastating 6.8 earthquake. 

 

06:05:04 03/02/01.

 

How did I miss this significant milestone?  I tremble at the thought.

 

Dear Reader, where were you and what were you doing at 06:05:04 on 03/02/01?

Warped time


It occurred to me that the time difference between Korea and the U.S. seems to be working in my favor.  I usually post a blog entry daily around 8 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time, giving American readers something new to read virtually every day.  Most visitors read World Adventurers at some time other than when I post a blog entry.  When I post an entry at 10 p.m. in Korea, it appears at 8 a.m. on the East Coast and at 5 a.m. on the West Coast.  Readers usually visit this site hours later, long after I’ve retired for the night.  Blogging from Paraguay will be different.  Paraguay is just one hour ahead of the U.S. East Coast and shares its time zone with Eastern Canada.  While not so advantageous to blogging, this means I will have a longer window of time to make business and personal phone calls to the United States.  In Korea, calling back to home to America is a tricky proposition.  I have a time window of about six hours when I can call at a reasonable time, usually between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.  2 p.m. in Korea is midnight on the U.S. East Coast, and people get cranky when you call them after midnight.
 
I’ve noticed that Asian readers visit this site at all times of the day, although the majority visit in the evening while I’m writing a blog entry.  I usually post a draft blog entry, edit it, do some fact checking, edit it some more, and tinker with the theme.  Sometimes what I actually write turns out to be completely different than what I intended to compose.  The blogging process can be a time consuming venture, resulting in multiple updates at different times as the piece evolves.  Some readers read an unfinished, draft World Adventurers blog entry.  Case in point–tonight’s title evolved from "New Every Morning" to "Time Warp" to "Warped Time" as the entry evolved.  I like pithy and eclectic titles with an ironic and punny twist.
 
I often joke that I live in the future.  I really do while living in Korea.  After all, I live more than 12 hours ahead of most Americans.  When I talk to someone in America, I sometimes joke, "Hey, how’s the past?  The future isn’t so bad!"

Computer fatigue


Dear Reader, have you ever sat in front of a computer and asked yourself, "Why do I spend so much of my time with a computer?"
 
I think as I write these words with a computer.

Best of MSN Spaces, Part Deux


I’m honored that World Adventurers was featured a second time on "The Best of MSN Spaces."  As Jim Carrey said while portraying Stanley Ipkiss, a man bestowed with powers by the Norse God Loki in the movie, "The Mask"–You love me!  You really love me!  Someone on the MSN Spaces staff must like what I write.  Thanks, I’ll take the entire MSN Spaces editorial staff out for lunch at Pho Hoa near the Microsoft campus when I return to Seattle next May…contact me!  Seriously though, I was surprised to wake up (in Korea) and find that this blog had over 25,000 hits in the last day or so.  Dear Reader, thank you for stopping by to peruse World Adventurers and posting your comments.  Stop by anytime.  I’ll try to respond to as many comments as I can.
 
World Adventurers was initially featured on "The Best of MSN Spaces" in September 2005.  From time to time, MSN highlights the same blogs twice when they fit more than one category.  This blog was previously featured when MSN Spaces highlighted "Travel."  Now it gets the nod for "Adventure."  If you have a blog on MSN Spaces that hasn’t yet been featured, you might be wondering…hey, how come this guy’s blog gets featured twice when my blog has never been featured?  Well, I don’t really know why the editors at MSN Spaces decided to feature this blog twice.  However, I can give you some suggestions that could help your blog earn some laurels from MSN Spaces:
  1. Choose a theme for your blog, and write about related topics.  Pick a theme you think your blog audience will find interesting.  Some themes are more interesting than others.  Religion and politics always seem to attract attention, for better or for while, while niche topics do not.  Travel and adventure are popular themes.  Sports, fashion, and day-to-day insights are good.  Zany, quirky blogs do well, as do blogs with goals and objectives (e.g. if your quest is to climb Mount Everest and you’re documenting your training program, readers will be interested).
  2. Write frequently, and write well.  Frequent postings is definitely a plus.  Write in complete, grammatically-correct sentences.  Through in a few witty remarks and some seldom-used words.  Don’t be too long-winded (I’m guilty of this) or too terse brief in your postings.  If your focus is on photography or art, post intriguing, high-quality photos or sketches like my fellow blogger mars_wolf.  If you’re an artist, post samples of your work.
  3. Add original content, but document references.  It is better to document your own ideas than to recite from other sources.  Citing other sources is fine, but be sure to give credit when you refer to other people’s work.  If possible, avoid posting copyrighted material without permission.  Minimize the amount of recitation in a blog entry unless it fits into the theme of your blog post.  For example, on Martin Luther King’s Day in 2005, I cited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s entire "I Have a Dream" speech because few have read the speech in its entirety.  (My condolences to the King family, who lost Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., this week.  It has been a very tough year for the King family.)
  4. Avoid focusing too much on your personal life unless it is absolutely riveting.  Expand your blog entries beyond discussions of your personal life, whether it be personal photos, discussions of friends, or family matters.  If you write about personal matters, tie it into your blog’s theme (e.g. your quest to win a marathon or taking care of children or getting a good job).  You can also highlight people’s personalities.  I have occasionally bantered on this blog with readers I know.  Maybe you have a crazy uncle or a quirky friend.  People love soap operas, so decide up front whether you want to play out your life on a blog.  You’ll get a lot of hits, but you may regret playing your life’s drama out on the blogosphere.
  5. Enhance your blog with photos, lists, music, and a variety of topics.  Blogs serve an entertainment purpose, so it’s good to be entertaining using a variety of methods!  If you post a blog entry, try adding photos.  Photos truly are worth more than 1,000 words.
  6. Start an e-mail writing campaign.  If you think you have a good blog, don’t be shy!  Let MSN Spaces know.  Also, you can encourage your avid readers to submit your blog to MSN Spaces for consideration.
  7. Harness the power of the blogosphere.  The Internet is about interconnectivity.  Feature links to your favorite bloggers, and ask them to link to your blog.  This will create cross-traffic.  After I met Korea’s top blogger, R.J. Koehler, aka "The Marmot’s Hole," we featured each other’s blogs and generated significant cross-traffic between them.  We also listed each other’s blogs in our favorite bloggers’ list.

FS Journal feature


I read on another blog that World Adventurers was featured in the January 2006 edition of the Foreign Service Journal, the monthly publication of the American Foreign Service Association.  The FSJ is widely read in the American diplomatic community, and I am honored by the Journal’s unsolicited acknowledgement of my blog in its monthly "Cybernotes" column.  My blog was purportedly highlighted along with a few other blogs related to Foreign Service life.  A hearty welcome to anyone who surfs over to World Adventurers from the FSJ.  Stop by anytime.  Some members of the Foreign Service community already read this blog.  One member calls World Adventurers "interesting and eclectic."  Another commented that it navigates overseas life and tackles sticky intercultural issues without succumbing to controversy.  I hope so.  This blog is ultimately my way of documenting life overseas with a modicum of entertainment value.  I do my best to avoid controversy and strive to inform.
 
I tried to obtain a copy of the magazine article, but I haven’t yet received my copy in the hinterland of Korea.  In fact, I just received the December 2005 edition, so I probably won’t get this month’s edition until sometime in February.  I checked the AFSA web site to see if I could view it online, but I haven’t set up my online account yet.  Drats!  I’ll see if I can get ahold of a copy soon.
 
Blog Notes:  I was very sad to find out this week that my grandma has been hospitalized and had to have major surgery.  Fortunately, the surgery was successful, and she is recuperating now.  What I wrote a recent blog entry about Nai Nai, my wife’s grandmother, is ever more relevant.  I’m praying that my grandma will pull through this so that I can see her again when we go home this summer.  She is my only living grandparent, and we are very close even though I haven’t spent much time with her in recent years.  I often think about her and wonder sometimes if I will see her again.  As they say, when it rains, it pours.  *sigh*

Happy Birthday, World Adventurers!


One year ago, World Adventurers began as a way for me to keep track of our family’s adventures.  I posted my first entry on December 3.  However, since Korea is 14 hours of the U.S. East Coast, World Adventurers began on December 4, Korea time.  52,000 hits later, it’s been quite a ride.  It might not be as popular as Jason Mulgrew’s blog, but it holds its own (then again, I’m not an oddball, eligible bachelor posting my entire private life on the Internet, trying to refute claims that I’m actually gay–thanks Monique for pointing out his wacky blog).  In the past year, this blog has been featured in Slate Magazine (August 3) and on MSN Spaces’ "Best of MSN Spaces" (September 19).  My analysis of the red-hot Baidu.com IPO (July 30) also got some traction, and World Adventurers recently got a nice plug from "The Marmot’s Hole," the most popular Korea blog.
 
Thank you to everyone who’s surfed by World Adventurers over the past year.  Thanks too for all the great comments I’ve received from you (sans the one or two spammers and flamers).  I especially want to thank the following people for keeping in frequent touch:
  • Wade3016:  Cuz’, I haven’t seen you post any comments lately, but you are always good for a good antidote to my occasional claptrap.  Thanks for helping me see the error in my ways as I foolishly perpetuate the Google bandwagon.
  • Angeline:  Thanks for being so sweet and letting your light shine.  Thank you for your great comments and letting me know that someone is reading.
  • Insadong KR:  I have to give a shout out to the best Korean restaurant in Vancouver, B.C., Canada I’ve never visited!  It’s definitely on the itinerary the next time I’m in Vancouver.  Cool Mustang.  It’s good to see the Canucks do well.  You’ll have to teach me how to play bandy.
  • Monique:  It was great meeting you in Busan at the APEC Summit.  Love your blog!  Keep up the good work.  See you in Seattle.
  • The Marmot’s Hole:  You’re one of the nicest guys I’ve met in Korea.  You blog is a great way to get all the scoop on Korea.  Thanks for the shameless plug.  We’ll get together soon once the Christmas craziness has simmered down.  Have fun in China.
  • Courtney:  Thanks for stopping by and going out of your way to say hello.  I enjoyed meeting you in Seoul.  Thanks so much for the necktie!  I wore it with pride last Friday and did my best to keep it away from the counter.  LOL
  • Exiled_attorney:  You’re a good friend and a great blogger.  Play it cool.  We’ll get together for drinks soon.  Stop complaining about the Oilers leaving Houston–viva the 1-10 Houston Texans!  They need all the support they can get.
  • Mars_wolf:  You’ve been reading practically since the very beginning.  I’m glad to see you stop by and post comments from time to time.  Your photos are awesome.
  • Speedy Sea:  Thanks for stopping by!  You have a sweet spirit. 
  • Dezcel:  Thanks for stopping by this year and reminding me of good times in Seattle.  Glad to hear you had a good time in Korea.
  • KingRoseMouth:  My friend, you are a hidden gem.  You are one of the best writers I know and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. 
  • A Plus Proche de la Nature:  C’est un blog tres interessant et beau.  Merci beaucoup.
  • Ljiajianchengchul:  Thanks for stopping by from time to time and posting comments.  Your photos of China are wonderful.
  • timeless_traveler:  Hope all is well in South Africa.  I haven’t seen any posts from you for awhile.  Stop by sometime to say hello.
  • Allader:  I’ve seen you stop by from time to time.  Although you haven’t posted a comment, I’ve stopped by your blog as well.  How is North Korea?

And to everyone else who’s stopped by and I missed (unintentionally)…thank you!