Friday, November 22, 2019

Hindustan is calling...

It looks like we will be staying in Korea for one more year. Of course this could change. Right now we are looking at maybe another 14-15 months here. It is so strange that the last 4-5 years have been better than the first 14-15 years. It truly is frustrating when your visa limits you to just one field. If we had more options I would enjoy my life in Korea more. I know this how Yogita feels this way  as well.

India opens so many opportunities for our sons, as well as the United States. Here...we can not do much. Just trying to live your life you find that there are these things that normal people can do but you can not. Buying cars, or homes. Running a business. I remember back in the day you needed a Korean person's citizen number to help get cell phone service. That means that person is privy to all of the details of how you use your phone. I am so glad that has changed. Having a phone under MY name is so much better.

I feel that Korea is making it harder for certain foreigners to stay here. Especially English teachers. Not offering an option for a 1-3 year visa is one. There are plenty of schools here that fail because they can not hold on to talented teachers. Many teachers here feel the same stress of living year to year. I can not wait until I leave that behind.

Banking ugh. It has gotten better...MUCH better but it still needs improvement for expats.


Friday, November 15, 2019

HHD SSD and m.2 ssd

Wow a bunch of letters with a number thrown in. I'm going to talk about hard drives. Basically, if you are waiting 2-5 minutes or even longer for your pc to reboot and get you into windows, you are doing it wrong. If you buy a laptop that boots fast from a small 128gig ssd, while you store programs on your HDD 1 terabyte are doing it wrong. HDD or Hard disk drives at this time suck. Solid state drives have finally come down in price and are MUCH faster, more reliable and they last a lot longer. Also you really do not need massive storage drives anymore. Cloud computing can take a load off of your local storage. Of course you have to use it at your own risk. Many files have been hacked and shared around the internet.

If you have an office or work pc and you want use it longer. There are two things you should do. One make sure that it can run an SSD, max out its ram. If it is using older DDR2 ram throw it in the trash. DDR3 or DDR4. Basically DDR3 is very fast, while DDR4 is 10-20% faster. Today most pcs are sold with DDR4. However, the second hand market is flooded with DDR3 laptops and desktops.

So make sure you have minimum 8gigs of DDR3 ram, and 512 to 1 terabyte SSD drive. That alone will make your office pc last for a few more years. If you have an i5 or an i7 with 4 cores it might last even longer.

Some PC's have m.2 slots for the m.2 ssd drive. These transfer data MUCH faster than regular ssd drives. They are also much smaller and come in different sizes. Ask a trusted pc hard savvy friend to help identify what your machine uses. Desktops can use a PCI adapter to run one or even 2 m.2 ssd's.

Ok some pictures
Here you have the larger thicker HDD on the right Actually the SSD drive on the left is much smaller thinner and of course lighter. The HDD has spinning plates, with a mechanical arm that reads and writes data. Your speed is dependent on how fast the drive can spin. Also the more data you have on the drive can slow it down even more. The SSD has NO MOVING parts. It reads and writes at speeds that would make a HDD fail!

Here you can see that the m.2 drives are like a small memory ship. They are smaller, faster, and not heavy at all. They fit in the palm of your hand. The gaming pc I am using has 2 of the B type slots. So I will be buying 2 512 gig or terabyte drives. I can not wait to install them. 

Ok I have one more class. I had better run!


Friday, November 08, 2019


My last post was from a month ago. So this one is more up to date. My sister in India became seriously ill. I will not go into detail here. She is recovering well though. Sometimes distance can be very scary. A family emergency can really make you look at how you are set up and what you might need to do, to get back to your family.

I feel like I have been very blessed in my life. When I first met my wife I thought I would face all kinds of discrimination. Racism was the really ugly one I was preparing myself to face. Instead I got only love. I gained a new father, and mother. Sisters, and now that they are married brothers as well.

My boys are growing well. Smart full of life learning, excited about what lays ahead for them. I recently told my older son that as long has he can follow the basic rules we have (there are not many and they are pretty obvious) he is welcome to stay with us as long as he wants. When I was growing up I was basically told at a certain point you should make your own way. I want my sons to know that what ever they decided to do we will do our best to support them. I am sure they know this. Actually my oldest son reads this blog so there is that.

My boys are healthy this is another blessing that is easy to take for granted. When we see others that suffer due to health issues that their kids were born with. OK my last class is here I gotta go!



The entire family is looking forward to fall / winter. In Iksan the weather is so mild compared to Gunsan. The boys have made friends in the neighborhood now and those people have dogs. In the summer while they could meet up with their friends on a walk it was a very hasty affair due to the heat and humidity.

But enough of that more serious things are likely down the road from us, My father in India is very ill. His hemoglobin count is only 7 when it should be in the range of 14 to 17. He just had eye surgery. When I have chatted with him he sounded really depressed.

We called later this time he was able to talk to the boys and that really cheered him up. So we are planning to make time to chat with him and he can spent time talking to the boys.

Mom and Dad always say that taking care of our kids felt just like they were taking care of their very kids. They really miss that. I used to spend a couple of hours before I slept watching the neighborhood. Dad told me he felt safer knowing that I was up there. I miss those times. Life is so busy that is easy to forget the good times we had.

I remember I should have listened to Dad's advice about my choice of a job. I chased money, and to be honest I wanted to get back what is normal for us. Meaning that living separated from family doing our own thing. I regret that now. Even though things have turned out really good for us, I feel if I had listened we would have spent many years in India.

Wow this rant started about the changing of the season.


Thursday, September 05, 2019

Chusok is around the corner!

It is that time of year in Korea. Chusok one of the two major holidays in Korea. I think it is translated "harvest festival". Nowadays it is compared to thanksgiving. The holiday can range from 3 days (unlucky) to over 5 days (lucky!). This year it will be 4 days because the main holiday falls on a Friday. The main holiday has the preceding and following days as a holiday. So if the holiday is on Tuesday then Monday Tuesday (main holiday) and Wednesday are holidays. This is nice because it becomes a 5 day holiday.

I used to love this holiday. I would gather up the family and go to another city. I enjoyed the traffic jams. The highways are full of life. People at the rest stops eating resting, and some just waiting out the traffic. You see people of all strata of life on the highway.

Now, I loath traffic jams. Some of the jams...well many of them are caused by accidents. So a road that might have slow moving traffic just sits while an accident is cleared up 3 kilometers away. Even with roads that are wider the congestion is worse. So many people have cars in South Korea. Cars are pretty cheap to when looking at the second hand market. You can buy some well equipped cars, mini vans, or SUVs at a very reasonable price.

Nowadays, I just stay home. We have figure out which places are still open when trying to order food. I like taking long walks during the holiday. So even though it is next week, I am looking forward to it. Many foreigners complain about short vacations. Holidays like this more than make up for it. I am a bit spoiled. For the past 4 years we have had 2 weeks off for vacation. When you add it to the numerous holidays in Korea it is very nice. I want to see if I can enjoy hotpot with Yogita.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Unsustainable ESL evironment

Years ago when I started teaching English in Korea things were very odd. No one really knew what to do. Basically, go in to the class and some how "teach". There was no training 20 years ago. English academies where everywhere. Teachers from the so called native English speaking countries were a very common site.

Today some things have stayed the same while other things have changed dramatically. Way back in the day the way of teaching a class was so simple and straight forward. This caused many issues as teachers who did not really respect the job would end up boring students. This stayed like this for many years. Teachers could get a visa very easily and cheaply. So you have a industry where teachers rarely stayed longer than one or two years at one location. They could get work papers easily. The days of the visa run to Japan comes to mind.

Today when teaching we have to do many other things that...well take away from teaching. This is due to the growing influence of Korean mothers. They are not experts in linguistics yet they wield power. They typically control the money in a Korean household. So when groups of moms get together ideas pop up. Those ideas make their way into the classroom. Sometimes these new ideas come from educational channels on TV or popular trends in Seoul. These trends are often short lived. I remember the flash card trend. When people who are not well versed in a field wield power over said is unsustainable.

Lets go back to teachers. There are more qualified teachers in Korea than ever before. The total number of e-2 visa English teachers has decreased though. Rules have tightened, teachers and employers have to use 1 year visas. This means that once a year your life will pause, while you sort your papers out to stay one more year. The changes to teaching visas is a very good thing in many ways. People with criminal records would run to Asia and work. Thus escaping the stigma of a criminal charge on their record. Back in the day no background checks were run. I remember when that change was implemented. It caused a panic!

Visa fees have increased, durations have not changed despite many people staying longer at stable, very well run schools. People who really want to live in South Korea are having a hard time these days. To gain permanent residency status is based a point system, not how many years you have lived in the country paying taxes, not causing problems. This is not sustainable. I have seen so many long term teachers 5-15 years in Korea throw in the towel.

Academy owners are under a crazy amount of stress. People steal ideas (this actually happened to us in Gunsan) and curriculum from competitors. I have seen this happen in Gunsan SO many times. Owners have to deal with unreasonable demands from parents. I will not go into detail here lets just say it makes Korean teachers, and owners lives miserable. This leads to burn out. Which is not something that can survive long term. Mothers in Korea seem to think that piling homework on their children is the answer.

I could rant on for hours but I do not see ESL surviving in the form that it is today for maybe another 10 years. Heck perhaps 5 years from now there will some major change. People have a breaking point. I read the diary of one student. That student stated that they only enjoyed ONE day of the week. ONE DAY. When I was a child I enjoyed EVERYDAY, well except Monday's. Even today I live for everyday. I feel that a change is coming.


Friday, August 23, 2019

There comes a time in ones life..

I have met so many different types of people over the years. I have worked with many people over a decade (the same coworkers). I have now worked at a number of Hagwons in Korea. I have noticed something. There comes a time in ones life to take a look at what you are doing, and take it easy.

I will not use names only Yogi and I. When Yogi was first working she was so strict, that is caused her a lot of stress while not working. I told her time and time again this is not healthy. After some time she agreed with me and started to not take things so seriously. It resulted in reduced stress she was able to become even more innovative, and creative. She became a better listener. In turn a better learner. It was the same with me. I used to be so focused on my work not realizing that I was actually doing a disservice. For me that time in my life came 7 years ago. In 2012 my mother died. It brought many things into perspective.

Different Hoqwan owners have come to this point as well. When they would sit down with me and discuss their feelings about "work" or "business" I could see what was the trigger for them to take it a bit easier. People can not help but realize life is not all that long. When you are in the grind time FLIES. Years melt away like a stick of butter on glowing coals. Those years are actually your life speeding by with little or no substance. You take a break but it is so fleeting that those memories are buried by more mundane stress that piled on due to work.

One boss I worked with had a set up that required so much time and effort to get a certain task done, that I could see the stress on that persons face.  Eventually strict guidelines start getting loosened. Either by "forgetting" that certain things need to get done. Or procrastinating with certain mundane needlessly tedious, and time wasting tasks. English teachers in Korea who have been around long enough and treat their occupation like a real job will understand what these "tasks" and "procedures" are. It makes me shake my head when I see it. I however, just go with the flow.

However, it all comes to the same place at the end. People get to a certain point when there comes a time in their life that caused them to make changes and take it easy. Taking it a bit easier does not mean to become complacent, or lazy. It means to expend your energy where it matters most. The result when issues arise you become: a better listener, observer, multitasker, and leader. This is mainly for people in management and leadership roles. Teachers are including as well.