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!"