How I'm spending my time off

My cat knows how to vacation

I'm on stay-cation for two weeks. And, while I waver between keeping some sort of routine and stationing myself on the couch for binge-watching sessions of old TV series on Netflix, I am  fully enjoying this commitment-less span of 2013.

Sure, there is a long list of things that I could be using this time to accomplish. I could be organizing, preparing, hobbying, traveling, blah blah blahing and the like. But, there's something so cathartic about being a complete blob while curtains are closed and the warmth of your TV's LCD screen captivates your attention for fourteen hours. And then, when you turn in for bed (binge-watching is a different kind of tired) for the next 10 hours, you exhale knowing, quite contently, that if you wanted to do the same thing again the following day, there is nothing to stop you.

So many times I have looked at my cat and envied her life. And now? I'm living that dream. Go, me!

ah yes, that end of year retrospective


Ah yes, it's that end of the year retrospective that one might feel obligated to write when December comes around...

The highlights? Two trips to Korea, moving twice (once from Moorpark to Long Beach, the next to a different location in Long Beach), my first season ticket purchase (go Galaxy!), good things happening in my career, attending a national conference and a minor league baseball game in Charlotte, The Dodgers' season, attending a good friend's wedding (in Las Vegas), watching family and friends' families grow, making a lot of new friends, good health, happiness, etc, etc.

The lowlights? Very thankfully, there were no real lowlights this year. Some friends and family had very difficult parts of the year but, when all is said and done, we all seemed to come out of it all okay.

Those visits to Korea were my favorite highlights. I gained so much from being there: added knowledge and education of culture and history, forging many new friendships, and seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes I could imagine. I think that, most importantly, they helped point me in the direction towards inner peace.

There are no deep revelations, no brilliant flashes of, well... brilliance. There's just another year that has passed. And, as I look forward to 2014, I am only left with one feeling: gratitude.

The Weekly Duh: Organization and life-hacking

Other people's organizational and life-hack systems don't work for me because, duh! Those are their systems, not mine. Mine have to be made for me. Custom. And while they can be a collection of a variety of systems and life-hacks, they still require some customization for them to work for me.

10 books that influenced me


I saw this meme floating around on Facebook. And, while I hate memes, this one got me thinking: what ten books have had an influence on me? Here's what I came up with (in no particular order):

  1. Summer of the Swans, Betsy Byars
  2. Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  3. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (closely beat out The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings)
  4. Night, Elie Wiesel (closely beat out Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston)
  5. Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  6. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  7. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  8. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
  9. The Call of the Wild, Jack London
  10. Ansel Adams: An Autobiography, Ansel Adams

There are some authors, whose whole series of work, influenced me. Those include Jack London, John Steinbeck, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Oscar Wilde, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ray Bradbury.

Photo credit: Kara Allyson, on Flickr.

The most successful people in life recognize...

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.

For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson (reddit, 2012)

a conversation about soup

“What are you doing?” “Just eating lunch. I’m having some soup.” “Are you sick?” “Can’t I have a bowl of soup without being sick? I like soup.” “…” “But, yeah. I’m feeling a bit under the weather.”


No more brand wars, please

They’re tools. Objects to help you accomplish actions. Use the tool that works for you. Use what you need to accomplish what you want.

Wars between brands, operating systems, companies… They make no difference. They’re not status symbols.

I don’t care which smartphone you use. I don’t care which camera system you use. I don’t care what car you drive.

Do you communicate effectively? Are your pictures your creative outlet? Can you get from point A to point B?

If you’re judged on status of a brand, that’s not on you. That’s the shallowness of someone not knowing where true value lies.

Futurama quote floats through my mind

Farnsworth: ...You're in Los Angeles! Fry: But there was this gang of 10-year-olds with guns! Leela: Exactly, you're in L.A. Fry: But everyone is driving around in cars shooting at each other! Bender: That's L.A. for you. Fry: But the air is green and there's no sign of civilization whatsoever! Bender: He just won't stop with the social commentary. Fry: And the people are all phonies! No one reads. Everything has cilantro on it--

This Futurama scene popped into my head, recently, while driving through Los Angeles. Futurama has always been one of my favorite animated shows. There are always gems like this. Gonna miss this show.

Just over a week to go

"No matter how far you travel, you can never get away from yourself" ~Haruki Murakami

I'm collecting inspirational quotes in preparation for a series of presentations, workshops and meetings that I will be facilitating over the Summer. I'm charged with a lot of new responsibilities (at work), and really want to be sure that I take the right approach in "activating" my team to achieve the set goals and objectives we all face.

In my collecting, I'm findings words that are extremely relevant to my upcoming journey back to Korea. I still can't believe I'm going back. In fact, I leave just over a week from today!

Four movies

We've been so incredibly busy, lately, that we haven't been able to keep up with movies. Yesterday, being the rare reprieve from our schedules, we sequestered ourselves to the couch and carried out a mini movie marathon.

Jack Reacher: Once I stopped myself from trying to compare this to the book, it was an okay movie. Tom Cruise bothers me so, I didn't like him in the role (even if he was miscast as 6'5" 250lbs Jack Reacher). I did like Rosamund Pike a lot; she was a good choice for Helen. I recommend that you read the book, One Shot. It's not the best in the series but, it is pretty good.

Silver Linings Playbook: I'm adding Jennifer Lawrence to my list of actress crushes (joining Amy Adams). Her performance was definitely Oscar-worthy. Decent story and acting, though (perhaps because of the hype) I was expecting more. Good to see Julia Styles, too.

Les Misérables: Incredible cinematography, acting, singing and overall performances. I've read the book twice, the first time being my Freshman Year in high school. It's always been one of my favorite stories.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Meh. I didn't have high hopes but I did expect something more than what the movie was. Other than the novelty of seeing familiar characters, none were relatable. It was just a lot of walking montages with little action. Of course, the book is far better.

Love it or hate it, there's no in-between

Usually, 90 minutes to the office and 120 minutes on the way home. Average. On the worst day, it took us just over 3 hours to get home. That was incredibly aggravating. They're not kidding when they rank I-405 the worst freeway traffic in the country.

Thankfully, that commute is no longer a necessity. Now, it takes 12 minutes to get to the office, 15-20 to get home (depending on the traffic lights). Average.

This move, for that aspect alone, has been completely worth it. I'm experiencing less stress. We're eating better (with more time to cook and prepare meals). We're more active; more social with coworkers and friends. More peaceful in our lives and marriage.

But, there's still Long Beach. There's still the part of me that longs to be, well... elsewhere. Asking those who live here, you get two responses. Either they really love Long Beach, or they hate it. I've yet to get an answer like, "Well, it's okay".

My verdict is still TBD. We've walked through downtown, which is great. We've driven through some neighborhoods, both good and bad, that keep us wondering about our decision.

I think I just need more time to discover and get used to this city.

Welcome to Long Beach?

On Monday we made the move from Moorpark to Long Beach. Overall, the move was successful, only losing a couple lamps (to breakage) during the process. It's okay, I didn't really care for those lamps.

The next day, the drive to the office took just 10 minutes door to door. That's down to our average of 1.75 hours on a normal Tuesday morning. Yes, the move was worth it.

I got home, after a long day at work, on Wednesday to discover our two bicycles missing from the bike rack, located in the locked underground garage. It looks like thieves used a crowbar to break in one of the pedestrian gates, to the garage, and made off with a few other bikes as well.

Two days in and this was our welcome. It did shake us a little bit but, it could happen anywhere. Speaking to the police officer, while filing the report, I learned that while we're not in the best of neighborhoods, we're definitely not in the worst. Just comes with the territory. It's definitely not the clean suburb of Moorpark.

It'll take some getting used to but we've been there before. while dating, Michelle's apartment in Venice was in a mediocre neighborhood but it didn't bother us. I think we just got so spoiled living away from the city.

Sunday musing (on a Monday)

It's interesting how my priorities change over the years. I'm sure that a lot of that is due to my own personal and professional changes. As we mature, our wants and needs change. I always understood this concept but, never really paid any attention to it until recently.

We're moving for quality of life, basically. I want my 2+ hours, currently spent on Los Angeles freeways, back. Oh, the things that I could do with 2 more hours each day.

Over the past couple of years I've become more "outspoken", or at least more willing to speak my mind. Of course, I always attempt to do this in mature, professional ways. But, it's still difficult for me to control/hide my passion and impatience when it's related to something I really care about.

I think it's realization that I have a tremendous amount of power and ability to achieve what I want to achieve. I've been selling myself short for far too long. I've lost track of how many times I've had to prove to myself that I can achieve if I dedicate myself long enough to get to my goals. Unfortunately, it's a lesson I'm continually having to learn.

There are so many things I want to achieve. There are goals that I have at work, for Connect-A-Kid, for my wife and family, and some very personal goals. And, while I don't feel a sense of urgency to achieve them all, I don't want to wait any longer to start working on them.

"we have a sort of stigma that being in a difficult mental place is not acceptable"

I love this quote, from Landon Donovan, on the stigma of mental health. He said this while addressing his recent hiatus from soccer. And, while I've always respected Landon as a player, this has turned me into one more of his fans.

 “I speak to many people often that I love and care about and love and care about me often. Not just during this time, but I’m constantly speaking to people to try to be a better person and be a better player.  Unfortunately, in this society and many other societies, we have a sort of stigma that being in a difficult mental place is not acceptable. We should pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and fight through it and it’s a little peculiar to me that whole idea, if someone is physically hurt we’re okay with letting them take the time to come back, but if someone is in a difficult place mentally, we’re not okay with allowing them to take the time that they need to come back.

“Hopefully, there’s a few people out in the world who can relate to this and can somewhat be inspired. That doesn’t mean that everybody should be lazy and take as much time as they need and do whatever they want in life. Obviously, there’s points in life that are difficult, but if you’re really at a place where struggling mentally then we need to be more compassionate and understanding of people in all walks of life and understand that they might need time away too. That was certainly the case with me. I had the added physical element where my body was exhausted, but if I didn’t take this time off, I would have been useless to everybody this year in a professional setting and probably a personal setting as well. I absolutely needed it and I’m very glad that I did it.”


Sunday musing: speed of life?

It’s a little crazy how quickly life can move sometimes. This past week was a perfect example of that.

Sunday, we listed our home for rent and began our home search (in Long Beach), in order to shorten our commute to the office. Once listed, the amount of phone calls and people viewing the place was... well, we received a really good response. Thankfully, we had a few renters to chose from.

Throughout the week, we searched and searched for someplace that we both liked, and could afford. While Long Beach isn't our first choice of cities to live in, it made the most sense. And there are really nice parts of the city that we would love to be in.

Today, it all came together. We met our tenants (and signed final contracts) and, we heard back from our prospective landlord that we were selected for the place that both of us wanted most.


In addition to that, we started to pack. I also attended a few meetings, for Connect-A-Kid, as we're gaining some pretty good momentum with our program development. And, you know, there's that day job that keeps me busy too.


Recommended reading: Korea, The Impossible Country


Last Christmas, my parents gave me a copy of Daniel Tudor's Korea: The Impossible Country (Amazon link). This was before my first trip back to Korea (since being born there) so, I rushed to read through it before boarding my flight.

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I learned. And though it contains a lot of history, Tudor does a great job in connecting the history to show why it is relevant today. The book winds between culture, politics, and economics presenting a broad snapshot for the reader to view.

This was very helpful in my visit to the country. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Korea, whether traveling there or not.

Sunday musing

I'm addicted to LA Galaxy games. I have no idea why it's taken so long for me to actually get to one in person but, I'm glad I did. It's one of my favorite sporting events to go to (ranks up there with going to Dodgers games). I'm seriously considering buying 2014 season tickets and scheduling my weekends to make sure I get to them.

In the interest of health, I’m working harder to do a better job with meal planning. This includes a lot of prep work over the weekend in order to be sure that meals, during the week, are easy to put together. Another adjustment is shopping for food more often, and buying less on each trip. This way we get more fresh fruits and vegetables while making sure they don’t go to waste. The refrigerator is slowly beginning to look like a walk-in fridge at a restaurant, with bowls and containers of already prepped ingredients at the ready.Related: I love restaurant supply stores.

We’ve listed our home for rent. We simply have to move closer to the office. The 126 mile round trip commute really subtracts from our quality of life, even if it is only a few times a week. As soon as we find a renter, we’ll be packing up and moving to Long Beach. And though I’m not entirely enthusiastic about living there, I can think of a lot worse places to live. I’m sure I’ll warm up to it when I find myself with 3 more hours in my day (not having to drive).

I’m reading and writing a lot more. They’re two of my favorite things to do which is why it boggles me that I stopped doing it for such a long time. I hope that, soon, I’ll be able to tell you that “I’m reading, writing, and photographing more”.

Coffee and tea: I love them both. I do notice that my body reacts better to tea so I drink that far more often than coffee. I think I only drink coffee for the taste.

I'm just saying, "go get this book!"


Aside from the gorgeous cover, Matthew SalessesI'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying is a work of art in itself. Though new to the flash fiction genre, I have come to love the art of expressing emotion, conveying a story, and letting (forcing, actually) the reader to fill in the detail.

I have yet to meet Matthew in person (I'll have a sharpie and a copy of one of his works ready for him to sign when I do). We're connected through a variety of social media sites, namely Twitter. Through interaction, and upon the many recommendations from others, he's become one of my favorite writers.

I admire the brutal honesty and emotion he conveys in his work. He's currently writing an online novel, This Is Not About Adoption, which I am making sure to keep up on. His "working things out through writing" is something that I've done my entire life though, admittedly, not as beautifully written has he does it.

Please get yourself a copy of I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying.

Sunday musing: do easier stuff?

I liked Stephen Colbert’s tweet (above). It made me actually laugh out loud when I read it

There are many "projects" that I'm working on. Many professional, many personal. The big difference between now and, let's say 5 years ago, is that I'm genuinely having fun with these current projects. I think a big part of it is that I am more "at peace" with myself, and where my life is right now.

I did have to admit that, in order to be successful with some of these things, I had to decide which other projects to let go. This is one of the reasons why I stepped down from my consulting work at Enstruct. As much as I loved helping them develop, it just wasn't my passion.

My professional focus is on Special Olympics Southern California. I've fully embraced it as my career, and am very happy with my role there. I've been given a lot of opportunities that I never thought I'd have. And, the level of trust and faith, from my colleagues and our senior leadership, in what I am doing? Well, that's something that I worked very hard to earn. I can't walk away from that.

My newest "passion project" is Connect-A-Kid. I first contacted them to find out more about becoming a mentor. The next thing I knew, Brian (the founder) and I were meeting over coffee and he was asking me to join his Board of Directors. About a week after that, Brian asked me to become his Chief Operations Officer. I enjoy it not only for the personal connection to the Connect-A-Kid mission but, I get to exercise my skills and creativity in helping to shape the organization structure and overall direction.

All great things.

Randomness on Social Media: I've (re)joined a few social media outlets to better keep in touch with friends around the world (still such a weird concept to me, that I have friends around the globe). I rejoined Instagram (user pgt77) because, apparently, it's still a very popular photo sharing site amongst friends. And I joined Kakao Talk (user ptail) to keep up with Korean and Korean adoptee friends.

Instagram doesn't really interest me. I don't like the filters and the square crop format. But, like I said, it's another way to keep up with everyone. It does, however, make me wonder why I stopped taking pictures of so many things I used to take pictures of.

On a similar note, I've begun to embrace Facebook. I've made it more "tolerable" in that I created more specific lists and groups, and only really participate in discussions with people that way. It's not a bad social media site when you can tune out all the rest of the garbage.

But, I have really embraced Google Plus. I do wish more people were on it but, I'm finding plenty of outlets and ways to interact and communicate through it. I love the interface and features. Hangouts have become especially useful for meetings and catching up with far away friends.

And, of course, I still love Twitter.

A story about finding out...

Writer, and fellow adoptee, Matthew Salesses is writing an online novel called This Is Not About #Adoption. It's "A book about finding out...".

I've been keeping up with it, and admire his brutal honesty while writing about emotions being an adoptee, spending time in Korea, and his family dynamics.

Much of it really resonates with me, such as this excerpt:

You can see how a constant issue is not knowing what is about adoption and what is not.

And this one

I am not sure whether this is about adoption.

I am not sure whether my adoption had anything to do with falling in love with my wise, strong-willed, fiercely Korean wife.

I am sure, however, that adoption is behind the enormous fear I have of parenting, of having any negative effect on my daughter’s life.

And this one

It is a particularly fraught position for me as an adoptee, to be constantly between sides, to defend America on the one hand and Korea on the other, simply because I can never feel allied with the person I am with, as a Korean or as an American.

Matthew also has a couple novels published, one just released a few weeks ago called I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying. I can already tell you that it's one of my favorite reads of 2013.

The importance of supporting authors and diversity……

This post could easily turn into a book in itself. There's so much that I have to say on this topic but, I'll reserve it all to simply highlight author Cindy Pon's two tweets (above).

My love of reading, and increasing support for writers of all ages and all backgrounds over the past few years, has greatly contributed to my ability to enjoy life on both global and micro scales.

The Three Sisters of Pyongyang, by Laura Shin

I highly recommend Laura Shin’s essay, The Three Sisters of Pyongyang.  She writes about her family roots and identifying with Korea as a Korean-American. In the beginning of the essay, she very accurately presents similar thoughts and scenarios that I faced growing up as one of very few Korean-Americans in a small town.

I am hopeful that she completes her book soon. I'm hooked, and would love to read more about her family history.

Sunday musings… a few days later

I dropped the ball on the blogging thing, as you can tell. No excuses. But, please humor me by reading on and pretending that you've been following this blog for years. And, like Time Warner Cable, let's just pretend that the disruption in service never actually happened. All good? Yep? Alrighty then…

I thought 2012 was a big year (professionally) until I started to lay out my goals and objectives for this year. Wow, it's going to be all kinds of busy as I work with my team to develop all kinds of awesomeness. I can't wait to get started… oh, it's March? Better get going then.

My wife and I have decided that we need to move. The one way commute form home to office is 63 miles. Too much. Especially with all of the things we're involved in. I know we've gone back and forth on moving, and even our bosses encouraged us we'd be okay if we stayed put (allowing us to work form home most of the week), it just doesn't make sense.

A big part of us not moving sooner is my "block" on moving. I really don't want to but, realistically, have to come to terms with it. It just makes too much sense.

I resigned from Enstruct. I loved contributing and helping them move forward but with the addition of my role at Connect-A-Kid, and increased responsibilities with the day job, something had to give.

Yes, I switched blogging platforms (again). While Squarespace was great, it was more than I needed. So I find myself coming full circle back to Wordpress.

My renewed love for soccer is evolving into an obsession. I'm turning into a LA Galaxy fanatic. We attended the home opener, last Sunday, and had a blast. So far, we have tickets to six more home games. I'm thinking season tickets for 2014.

Thank you, reader

I want to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to keep up with me on my trip. I had no idea that so many of you were reading (and only learned from the tremendous feedback I’ve been receiving).

Originally, I didn’t plan to blog for this trip. I was worried about whether I could post on a regular basis while still being able to enjoy the trip (I took breaks from social media and the internet in general, which was much needed).

I’m glad that I did post updates here.

Thanks again.

Travel Day, ICN - LAX

Incheon Airport
This morning, I woke up very torn. Not wanting to leave Korea yet really missing my wife, friends, family, and (yes) even my cat, I packed up all of my things and waited for my taxi to arrive.

The remainder of our group was shuttled to the airport in two waves. I was in the last wave with Edie and Jared. Though tempted to take another walk through the city, I refrained out of fear that I wouldn’t make it back to the hotel in time for the taxi pickup.

As the taxi drove us out of Seoul, to Incheon, I couldn’t help but notice the city’s beauty from afar. I began to wonder whether I was romanticizing it in my own mind, simply because it was Korea. But, as we passed by all of the bridges crossing the Han river, I knew that this was truly one of my favorite places to have visited.

Once at the airpot, I breezed through security (no taking off shoes, which I loved). With about 90 minutes before my flight, I spent the time reflecting on the past couple weeks. I really had an amazing time.

The flight was an uneventful 10+ hours. The ajumma on the aisle seat and I (in the window seat) high fived each other when the doors closed and we realized that the middle seat was unoccupied. I didn’t sleep, opting to watch movies in a daze while attempting to stifle my coughs and nurture my sore throat.

After a quick shuttle ride, I finally arrived home. Michelle was waiting for me with the front door, and her arms, open.

Then, the utter bliss of sitting on your own couch, and sleeping in your own bed, after a long hot shower in your own bathroom. No matter which country they are in.