Right now

Right now
Someone is waking up
Someone is sleeping
Someone is having a baby
Someone passes away
Someone finds love
Right now
Ice floats in the ocean
Insects are a nuisance
Plants sustain life
Grass is turning green
Snow falls on the ground
Right now
Evil is transpiring
A good deed is done
An act of violent committed
A life is saved
A tear is shed
Right now
Money is transferred
A job has been lost
A shanty roof is patched
Dessert is eaten
Butter is churned
Right now
What you are doing
May be the same as some
Different than others
Exciting to you but not all
Transpiring yet still

A contrast of news and information

We’ve been absolutely spoiled with news and information in Korea.  There’s no shortage of Korean and English-language media sources providing a spectrum of news and information.  They run the gamut politically from progressive media such as OhMyNews and Hankyoreh Shinmun to conservative ones, including the Chosun Ilbo.  I personally prefer the more centrist media outlets (read balanced), particularly the JoongAng Ilbo and Korea Times.  Of the two, the JoongAng Ilbo tends to provide more comprehensive analyses, although the Korea Times is more fun to read.  It’s akin to reading the Washington Post versus USA Today.  There’s little wonder why the JoongAng Ilbo’s English edition is packaged with the International Herald Tribune, a subsidiary of the New York Times.  In Korea, you can generally tell the political bent of a news outlet based on its depictions the United States (favorable or unfavorable) and stance on hot-button issues, particularly North Korea and socio-economic issues (e.g. labor and education).  Korean media may have more in common with European media than their American cousins; whereas most U.S. media claim to be bias-free, European media are not apologetic over their political vent.
Paraguay is an entirely different story.  I surfed the web and could not find any solid online news sources in English dedicated to covering Paraguay.  Granted, Paraguay’s national language is Guarani, an indigenous language, and its lingua franca is Spanish.  It is also a small country with about 5.6 million inhabitants, the size of a large city.  Nevertheless, none of its major news outlets seem to offer Paraguayan news and information in English.  They all seem to use Spanish exclusively, except for a German-language news site called Aktuelle Rundschau catering to Paraguay’s sizable German community.  News sources available in English seem to offer more coverage of Paraguay’s larger neighbors, particularly Brazil, the 800 pound Latin American heavyweight.
I thought it odd that none of the Paraguayan meid offer news written in Guarani, the official language of Paraguay.  I had never heard of the language spoken by about 5 million people until I found out we will be heading there in 2007.  I was surprised to discover how different the language is from Spanish.  It is a language that pre-dates the arrival of Spanish in the 1500’s, although I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that Guarani had been heavily influenced by Spanish after comingling for about 500 years.  Here is a sample Guarani sentence from Omniglot:
Mayma yvypóra ou ko yvy ári iñapytl’yre ha eteîcha dignidad ha derecho jeguerekópe; ha ikatu rupi oikuaa añetéva ha añete’yva, iporâva ha ivaíva, tekotevê pehenguéicha oiko oñondivekuéra.
Here is the English translation:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.  (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Only the words "dignidad" (dignity) and "derecho" (rights) are obviously Spanish words.  The Korean language draws 65% of its vocabulary from Chinese and 5% from English, so I would be surprised if most Guarani vocabulary did not come from Spanish.  Guarani is fascinating, and I’ve heard that speaking it in Paraguay will win you friends for life.  However, I need to focus on learning Spanish!  Baby steps.

“Yoduk Story” too popular?

I finally assembled a group of colleague to join me for "Yoduk Story," the theatrical production about life in North Korea’s Yoduk Concentration Camp.  The drama is apparently now so popular that tickets are virtually sold out.  This is great news for the director, Jung Sung-san, who apparently no longer needs to sell a kidney in order to repay loan sharks who helped him finance the production.  Unfortunately, we may not be able to see it now that it is popular with the Korean public.  Many international media outlets picked up the story publicized by the Chosun Ilbo (newspaper), and members of the Grand National Party (GNP), the main opposition party, have seen the show and are calling on ruling Uri Party members to see the show.  One month has passed since I first wrote about "Yoduk Story" and attempts to shut it down.  It’s now the hottest ticket in town–both politically and theatrically.  The show is scheduled to end next week.  I hope that it is extended awhile longer to accommodate demand and to give our group a chance to see it.

Miscellaneous updates

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.

Planning an outing in a strange land

My wife and I are going out tonight for dinner and noraebang (karaoke) with a large group of people (about 15).  Korea seems to be built for groups of eight or fewer.  Do you know how hard it is to find a restaurant and a noraebang in Seoul big enough to hold 15 people?  It’s nearly impossible if you’re not Korean or aren’t intimately acquainted with the city and don’t speak good Korean.  Seoul’s hidden secrets (such as places for large groups) don’t divulge themselves easily.  I tried and failed.  I finally turned to a friend’s wife for help.  She is Korean and knew right away where to go.  It’s times like these that really make me feel like I am a stranger in a strange land.  I’m just glad someone could help me organize it!  Well, I’m off to sing with my supper.  Dear Reader, have a great weekend.

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!"

Of sunshine and son shy

Today was a good day at the office.  I hadn’t had a good day for awhile, and today was long overdue.  For one, I cruised to another productive day.  I set a personal goal to finish in the top three each day, and I did it for the third day in the row.  I will continue pouring it on mercilessly.  A group of instructors from out of town who came to teach a course left today, ending three days of support, including buying food for class, operating the classroom, and chauffeuring the instructors.  In addition, a project that had been percolating for about five months came to an exciting conclusion today.  Our community association contracted with a vendor to install some photo booths at work, and today the machines arrived.  We had a dickens of a time navigating the machines through the maze-like building and installing them–especially one on the third floor.  It took about six people and four hours to finish.  We signed the contract, and now customers have a quicker and more affordable photo option.  It’s the third new service introduced at work in three months–first, the opening of the cafeteria, then the reopening of the coffee shop and bakery, and now this.  I also found out today that our location in Manila, also a very large operation, really likes our performance management program and will adopt it in its own operations.  Word is starting to spread worldwide about the program, and the response is amazing.  Days like this don’t come along often, so I’ll savor this one for awhile.  Best of all, I now have a little less to do at the office, giving me more time to spend out of the office.
Tonight my son and I went over to a colleague’s home for a team dinner.  My son was very popular with my coworkers; unfortunately, he was very uncomfortable around my coworkers.  The only other kid at the dinner was an eight-year-old girl, and my son did not really know any of my coworkers.  The atmosphere was a bit too chaotic.  He was OK for about half an hour, and then he expressed a strong desire to leave.  He ate very little and tried to pacify himself with cookies.  We left after about 45 minutes, just long enough to eat dinner.  I wish we could have stayed longer.  I really like my teammate.  They are a really fun bunch.  As we left, two of my colleagues started dancing a silly dance.  My son couldn’t wait to leave.  I would have loved to have stayed longe, but parenthood trumps spending time with your coworkers, even in Korea.  Korean workers often get together after work as a team, department, or office.  But children are even more important and take precedence.
Blog Notes:  Wade3016, you wondered when I would post on your blog, so I thought I would write something I thought you would challenge.  LOL  I am so devious sometimes.  Does this mean you’re going to delay your trip to Korea?