Dear Reader, I needed to take a break from writing yesterday to tend to some other pressing matters last night. We will be leaving for China in just three short weeks and for the U.S. one week later. We will be away from Seoul for almost half of the month of April and half of May. While I welcome the opportunity to travel and see family and friends (and give you some new destinations for a change), my blogging frequency may suffer a bit. I don’t know what computer arrangements I will have and whether I will be too busy at nights to post entries. I will do my best to keep blogging while I am away and keep you updated on our journies.
Our noraebang (karaoke) outing a couple nights ago was a smashing success. Many more people attended than I ever expected. In fact, the next day a few acquaintances I ran into said they wish they had been invited. Oops, sorry about that–it was very difficult choosing attendees. I promised those who were left out that I would invite them to the next noraebang outing tentatively planned for next summer. 17 of us met for dinner and noraebang in Apgujeong, a neighborhood south of the Han River in Seoul. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I was fortunate to have had assistance from a local who found a noraebang that could affordably and comfortably fit so many people. "Affordably" is a key word–there are karaoke joints with spacious rooms inside many upscale hotels, but these typically cost upwards of $1,000 to rent. We weren’t about to spend that much money, even if we could split the cost between 17 people. We ate grilled samgyeopsal, or uncured slabs of ham, and drank soju, a Korean rice liquor. It was absolutely delicious–the tastiest samgyeopsal I’ve eaten. Eating samgyeopsal, drinking soju, and singing karaoke at a noraebang is my favorite pasttime in Korea.
Today we took a small step in a new financial direction–we invested in a startup company. It’s a small stake, but it’s a start. My plan is to invest in new, promising business ventures and build the foundation of an investment firm. I can’t talk about the startup and won’t divulge much about the investment firm yet, but I will as it takes form. Stay tuned. My 15-year plan is to develop a business plan and join forces with some equity partners interested in venture capital, angel investing, and private equity investing. To do this, we had to liquidate some bond funds, moving some of our assets from stable, liquid funds to a longer-term, less liquid investment. The startup offers far greater potential risk–and return. Fortunately, it is not a true "startup." The company has been around for 10 years with plans to dramatically expand this year in a promising new direction. I believe it will be successful and am in it for the long haul. This is yet another piece of our financial puzzle. I am leery of having too much money tied up in one investment type (e.g. housing), and this is a key way to diversify. Too many people have too much money tied up in one large investment, such as in a house or retirement account.
My wife and I will soon begin a study with two other families. "Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson and Focus on the Family is a study on raising boys. We all have young boys, so we thought that the book and video would be a great way to collaborate and learn more about raising rambunctious male children. I’ve read a couple of chapters and have enjoyed the insights on raising boys over two years of age. It’s uncharted territory for us. I’m just glad that my son isn’t as wild as the boys highlighted in the book. We tried to get together last Friday evening, but things did not work out as planning because of insufficient babysitting arrangements and illnesses. Getting together with other parents to talk about children without children around is a logistical challenge.
I signed up for another six months as chair of the community association. I didn’t plan to do it, but no one wanted to step up and take over. They apparently know how much work it is and how much effort I’ve put into it. Now that I’ve been chair so long, it’s not as much work as it was when I first started. The continuity is good for the association, but during the next six months I am determined not to let it play such a big role in my life. After I return from the United States in May, my focus must shift from Seoul activities to preparing for my next post, including arranging our relocation and studying Spanish. I enjoy the business aspect of the association, but I don’t like the headaches and frustration that crops up all too frequently.
Alas, not all is going well. I had to quit the community choir–for a couple of reasons. For one, the choir director scheduled our concert the same day I return to Korea. Because I will be gone virtually the entire month leading up to the concert, I don’t think it makes any sense to continue. Plus, I have just been too busy to continue such a big time commitment. It’s a shame–I was really enjoying it. The community choir has a new web site–have a look.