An update from the home front

In case you’re wondering what’s been happening here in Korea, I wanted to let you know that I really haven’t had too much to report lately.  Life has been quiet but good for my family.  Last week we had a small get together for my wife’s birthday, and my wife secured a promising job lead with a local accounting firm.  I made it through a hectic week at work.  I put in a few hours of overtime working on an operations management project for my boss, and the end result was well received.  The ongoing project measures our operational performance.  Although some of my colleagues aren’t too happy having their performance measured in key areas, overall my colleagues view the project favorably.  I feel like one part mad scientist squirreled away in a lab, concocting a strange, mystical brew, and one part salesman trying to persuade my colleagues to drink this strange brew.  By the time I leave Seoul, I hope we will achieve full ISO 9001 certification, a international quality standard.  Fortunately, my boss thinks it’s a wonderful idea and is sold on the concept.  It’s much easier to persuade the masses when leadership is behind an idea.  That’s good, because I consider myself a much better innovator than sales man.  I prefer to build nifty things and hand them over to someone to market and sell.  Hopefully I’ll rise to the challenge.

Last weekend my colleagues, my wife, and I went to a barbeque for newcomers who recently arrived in Seoul.  It was a lot of fun, and I didn’t even have to grill.  The conversation was great, and the meal was delicious.  It was nice to finally have a chance to get together with many of my colleagues outside work in a group setting.  It seems as if lately, whenever I run into my colleagues, we spend our time hashing and rehashing work-related issues.  There isn’t much time at work for “water-cooler talk.”  After I returned home from the barbeque, I mowed the lawn in the sweltering heat.  Did you read the nostalgic blog entry I wrote a couple months ago about mowing the lawn for the first time in almost two years?  Well, times change.  It’s now hot and humid here in Seoul, and mowing the lawn is no fun at all.  It is definitely a chore.  I now have to time lawn mowing so that I mow at the end of the day when the temperature has cooled but its still daylight.  Being outside in Seoul nowadays is akin to being in a sauna, albeit much less comfortable.  On Sunday afternoon my family and I visited Lotte World, a shopping center and home to the world’s largest indoor theme park.  It’s one of the better places for families to go when they’re out and about in Seoul on hot and humid days.  Then, on Sunday evening we went over to our friend’s home for dinner.  The food and fellowship was fabulous.  We decided to meet again in a couple of weeks for a barbeque at our house. 

Tonight I went to a community association board meeting.  I was happy that the board agreed to my proposal to invest our extra funds into bond funds and a certificate of deposit.  Currently, the funds are in low-return money market funds, and I wrote up a proposal to invest our funds into higher-yield, low-risk bond funds.  Tomorrow I’ll get started implementing the proposal.  I was also happy to report that we now have a cafeteria vendor, and the cafeteria will reopen soon.  As soon as the cafeteria opens and the funds are invested, I plan to tackle a couple of other important projects for our community.  One is a capital plan for our facilities, which will undergo major changes over the next decade, and the other is redesigning the association’s web site.  I definitely don’t want to take on too much, too soon.

So that’s life here in a nutshell.  I wish we could get out and about more often around Seoul, doing things beyond shopping, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to lately.  Many of my colleagues are on vacation, so I can’t take much time off.  And venturing out and about in Korea now has its costs—it’s still monsoon season, and many Koreans are trying to enjoy the summer.  It’s a formula for a bunch of crowded, unhappy, sweaty people.  I read this morning that 80,000 Koreans descended on one beach in Busan.  That’s crazy!  There’s no way I would take my family to the beach and share it with 79,997 other people.

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