Happy New Year 2005

Happy New Year, dear reader!  2004 has been quite a year for us.  It started in the Seattle area, where I was working for a local accounting firm as an IT consultant.  It ended in the Washington, D.C. area working for the Foreign Service, studying the Korean language in anticipation of our departure to Korea.  Although the tsunamis put a huge damper on this year’s festivities worldwide, life is good in our home.  I am very thankful for the changes in our life and the unique opportunity we have to travel and work overseas.

Have you made a New Year’s resolution?  I usually make a few, but this year I haven’t thought about it much.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been too busy.  If I were to make some resolutions, they would have to be as follows:

  1. Finish Korean language class with an adequate testing score
  2. Arrive in Seoul safely
  3. Take a real vacation

Weight is always something to watch, but fortunately I don’t have to check off a lot of the typical New Year’s resolutions.  The three goals listed above are definitely achievable.  I feel a lot better about learning Korean now.  It will always be an uphill battle for me, though.  I’ll know soon whether we make it to Korea safely without event.  Hopefully the worst that will happen is dealing with a fussy child on a trans-Pacific flight.  The third may not happen anytime soon because I first need to adjust to working in Seoul, get through my job’s busy season, and prepare for the upcoming APEC Conference in late 2005.  If the APEC Conference in Seoul is anything like it was in Chile this year, it should be interesting.  I’m sure that President Bush won’t have to pull his security guard into meetings like he did in Santiago.  We may not be able to go on an extended vacation until next November or December.  I have plenty of vacation saved up already.

I hope you had a wonderful 2004.  Please pray for the safety and restoration of those affected by the tsunamis in Asia and Africa.  Let’s hope that 2005 is better than 2004 for everyone.

A New Chapter

My in-laws left yesterday and returned to their home in China.  They have lived with us for over two years.  Before they arrived in 2002, I mentioned to my wife that it was the start of a new chapter in our lives.  Now the page has turned and yet another new chapter has started for us.  They lived with us since our son was born–they have always been a part of his life.  Now as we prepare to head to Korea, we are again a family of three.  Life has been very hectic for us with our impending move, but I can already tell that life feels a bit more settled now that we’re together as a smaller family.  My in-laws were a big help to us.  They were always around to help take care of our son, and for that I am very grateful.  I know that my son already misses them very much because he’s old enough to be aware of their move, but he has been very well behaved the past couple of days.  I hope it continues until we finally arrive in Seoul.  Living together as an extended family has brought blessing, tension, happiness, and frustration–all the human emotions that rise up with family members living together.  I will look back at the last two years fondly and wax nostalgic, but at present I am happy that a new chapter has started.  For me this is the start of our transition to Korea.  We have been in limbo here in the Washington, D.C. area since we arrived in early 2004, and now within 2 months we will be in Korea, our new home for years.  Korea is yet another chapter to be experienced, and this is page one.

The death toll from the tsunamis in southeast Asia and eastern Africa has risen to 77,000+.  What a tragedy.  I am happy that the U.S. and other nations have pledged millions of dollars and logistical aid to combat the ensuing humanitarian crisis.  The tragedy seems so distant to many of us, but it has touched us nevertheless.  Out of this tragedy comes the opportunity for the world to come together to show support just as it did when the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001.  I’m planning to contact World Vision to see what I can do.

I downloaded and tried the new Mozilla Firefox browser.  It’s the new open source browser that is competing with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.  Over 12 million copies have been downloaded.  Most people download it because they either don’t like IE or are concerned about security issues with Microsoft’s browser.  Hackers and virus makers have designed nasties around the IE browser because over 90% of Internet users use IE to access the Web (mass audience).  I had to check it out for myself.  I have tested the Firefox browser, and so far I have not been very impressed.  If it will boost my PC’s security I will use it, but I may have to sacrifice some speed and functionality.  Pages appear to load more slowly in Firefox, and you have to manually load some add-ins such as Flash that boost the Web’s functionality.  Still, I will continue to test Firefox and use it for the time being.  I was happy to see that Google is Firefox’ default search engine.  Google appears on the Firefox home page and as a built-in browser toolbar.  If Firefox takes off in 2005, then the Firefox-Google alliance bodes well for Google.  Google impresses more every day.

Our Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas.  We were very busy, and the time passed by too quickly, as you  can probably tell from the delay in blog postings.  My cousin Wade came for a visit, so I didn’t have much time to spend on the computer.  He’s a saint for helping me rebuilding my computer.  I upgraded the hard drive, RAM, and the power supply, so it now performs as it should have all along.  It turns out that the culprit was the power supply.  When I last updated about 3 years ago I did not change the power supply.  I upgraded from a 550MB Duron microprocessor to a 2.4GHz P4 chip, but I didn’t change out the power supply.  It never did run right.  Now it does, thanks to cuz’.

While Wade was here we visited the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center located next to Dulles International Airport.  It’s an extension of the Air & Space Museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  We also went down to the National Mall and visited the Museum of American History, the National Archives, and the Air & Space Museum.  I had never visited the first two museums, so it was a treat for me to see them for the first time (I never tour the Mall anymore).  We also did a “Lord of the Rings” marathon, watching most of the extended versions of all three LOTR movies.  It’s absolutely mind numbing after about 8 hours.  If you sit and watch all three movies, it will take you about 12 hours to do it.  Definitely not for the faint of heart.  I thoroughly enjoyed it though because I consider the trilogy three of the finest movies ever produced.  They are masterpieces.

On Christmas Eve we searched frantically for dinner.  We arrived home too late to cook and decided to order take-out food.  I contacted at least 5 restaurants until I found a Thai restaurant open.  Lesson learned–don’t try to go out to eat after 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve!  The selection is grim.  We spent Christmas day with Wade’s Aunt Joann, whom I’ve also adopted as my aunt.  She prepared a delicious Christmas dinner and decorated her home for the holidays, putting us all in a festive mood.  Our son was the hit of the party though as we spent much of the time following him around, making sure that he didn’t break anything or fall down the stairs.  We usually spend Christmas with my parents, but because our short time in the Washington, D.C. area we weren’t able to make it home for the holidays.  We have no Christmas or decorations at home other than a single stocking that holds the Christmas cards we receive.  Not too festive, methinks.  Still, it’s nice to have a chance to take a break from the rigamarole of Korean class and briefly enjoy the holidays.