Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lost skis

Nothing like being reminded of the positive sides of humanity. I had just bought a new pair of skis (demo skis from last year), and we attempted to ski on the 30th. Needless to say, the wind was insane, and they ended up shutting down all but one lift on the mountain. A lost day, we headed back for a long lazy lunch. Unfortunately slightly too long, since when I came out to pack the car, my skis were missing. Yep, those 5 runs just got a lot more expensive, someone had stolen my skis =( I made the report, and afterwards another skier mentioned that she saw two men that seemed sketchy by the skis who took an orange pair of skis. Sigh. Hopefully one of these days Sunday River can put in security cameras, especially given that the cost of a lift ticket is up to $77 a day!

I have been in the process of trying to get a new pair of skis, unfortunately the eBay bidding had it in for me – I got outbid at lunch time, with 1 minute to go on the bidding =( One of these days I will find the right ones!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Death Hill

After the lost day of skiing, we decided to walk down to "Death Hill" where the rest of the group was sledding. Needless to say, we did not anticipate well, given how cold it was, and requests for us to join (I was there to take pictures after all). We hopped on the toboggan twice, and the second time was a true near death experience! Michelle and I were launched out of the sled at breakneck speed – I ended up with a sprained ankle and Michelle with a tennis ball sized bruise, somehow my cousin Will and his girlfriend managed to stay on the sled. Needless to say, broken body parts and all, we had an exhilarating time!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snow storm versus rain versus ice…can't win!

The weather led to a large number of adventures, the first which I only saw the aftereffects of. There was a crazy ice storm in the middle of December that left my parents without power for 12 days! (I only encountered 2 days of that, and thankfully my father had brought up two generators, so we had "lights" wired by extension cords). The sheer number of poles down was unbelievable, trees in fragments, and utility workers from as far as Canada and South Carolina!

The next portion was the snow storm, which I was able to "enjoy" on my plane flight from Korea. It returned on the Sunday we were supposed to drive up to Boston for a family gathering. I say supposed to since we were stuck in Connecticut since the plows had done a less than competent job the previous night. We couldn't make it out of the driveway! We made the most of it by walking to Costco and watching movies. Frustrating, but at least we had power ;)

Finally mother nature confirmed to have it in for us by dumping plenty of days of rain on us, ensuring that the skiing would be solid ice. It was nice to still have a white Christmas though!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lots of family time, new baby!

It was fantastic to have 2 weeks back on the east coast, and have plenty of family time. It is tough to be so far away from friends and family for 2 years (at least business school I was near my sister and nephew and on the same continent!) So I enjoyed being at home, catching up with friends, having great food, and doing wedding planning with Michelle and my family. We did have several days when we were staying at a different place every night, but at least all places were home to one of the two of us!

And of course, the other great element was a new baby in the family! My cousin Nick has a new baby girl, she is adorable (and I saw her when she was less than a day old! (Before they had even chosen the name Eliza).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Plane crashes

I think that I chose the absolute worst day of the year to travel back from Korea. I felt very lucky to have an open seat next to me on the 12 hour flight. What wasn't so lucky was my choice of books. I was reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, "Outliers" which happened to have a chapter on Korean Airlines plane crashes about 10 years ago. NOT helpful to my peace of mind as I was flying Korean Airlines! The landing then didn't help, as the first time the pilot had to pull up at the last minute due to turbulence. The Incredible Hulk might as well have been shaking our plane like a rag doll – at one point at least half of the plane screamed. A kid the row up from me lost his lunch, and one of my friends told me afterwards that it was the first time she had ever lost her lunch on a flight. A random side note, the airsickness bags on the flight were not that easy to use (you have to tear off the top, isn't the point to have this as easily accessible as possible?!?). After getting my bag ready, I spent the time breathing deeply and praying. Finally on the 3rd attempt we managed to land, and I can say I never applauded so hard for anything. Easily the worst conditions I had EVER landed in, and it took me 20 minutes to feel moderately normal and back on solid ground!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday cheer

Seeing Christmas lights up everywhere, we had Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's place (the food was amazing, including a turkey, pumpkin pie – the works!) Then I went to "8 Reindeer Monologues" a hysterical play that discusses whether or not Santa has actually been a good person or not. A riot.

The weekend included poker with friends as well, always a tough one, I had several bad hands but ended up doing well in the end. I always feel a touch guilty about taking someone's money (ie ending the game early for one person). It was a lot of fun though, minus the surprise phone call from Germany at 9:30 pm about our marketing plan. (A European calling late on a Friday night?!?! Or at least I would have thought he realized what time it was for me based on my previous email, but details…)

Monday, December 8, 2008

More fun work decisions

So Samsung has been hit by the recession, at least to a degree. There are varying rumors about how many people will not have their contract renewed. (But apparently there is also a social contract with the government ensuring that Samsung will not fire a large number of people during a recession. The amusing element involves the various cost efficiencies they are imposing however. They now turn off the lights at lunch ("You must go to lunch now!"), at GSG they took away our coffee-maker, they took away the plastic cups in our coffee maker in Suwon (to put it in perspective, we have one of the cheapest coffee makers here, so I am not surprised that this one is still here.

The other amusing element involves the short-term focus of this place. A quote from a senior (very senior manager) to a friend of mine: "2 year plan is great, but what about my next 6 months?" Long-term plans?

Monday are Mondays, right? I nearly lost it today with a security guard (not a good idea). I found out the bus to Suwon was 30 minutes later than I expected. So I sat down to wait (next to a group waiting in line. A security guard came over to tell me that I need to get off the stone wall (or stand in front of it). I mean do people really have anything better to do? "Wait, this MIGHT reflect badly on Samsung, or annoy a senior exec, therefore..." again, wow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Touring my parents around

I had the weekend to show my parents around Seoul (this also ensured that I left the GSG holiday party after Round 1, instead of Round 2 or 3 (which would have been closer to 2 am I think). I showed them my favorite spots, from coffee shops, to furniture stores (they proceeded to buy up half of Seoul, including a set of doors weighing likely over 100 lbs, and will not go back to the US until I move back) We met up with friends for lunch and dinner on Sunday, took them to Dr Fish (my dad lasted 2 minutes, my mom put both arms and legs in to maximize her experience). On Sunday it was significantly colder, and I made as many stops into stores and also into coffee shops to keep us all warm. I don't mind the cold, but a significant oversight to not have brought my hat! Ah well, it is winter time, and Seoul is no San Francisco…It will definitely better prepare me for New Hampshire though (and my bedroom, the igloo ;) My parents were doing their best over here by opening the window each night though. Even with my heat almost off, they still wanted it colder…Amazing.

Tis the season for work events/dinners

4 days in a row of eating/drinking for work...memories of my Ogilvy days...Two with businesses we are working with (ie Americans, plus one British guy, we liked him as well). One night was our team's dinner, and I was told that apparently I need to smile more (or ensure that my team has more fun). Yes, I am too serious, and and this is even more true after a Monday morning. God, I could use warmer weather ;)

Friday was the GSG holiday party, which my parents joined (and drew the name out of a hat for one of the prizes. I was told that since they didn't pick me, they obviously didn't love me ;) We had auctions, which included significant overbidding – thankfully there was no extra vacation day to bankrupt me this year ;) The theme was the 70s, and I pulled out my Halloween costume (Anchorman) from 2 years ago. Great time, and some very impressive creativity – one person could have been in the Royal Tannenbaums (Owen Wilson's character). We came in second for trivia, not bad given that my parents acknowledged early on that they would be no help.

Saturday we had a Harvard dinner at a great Italian place. It included an adorable 2 year old (apparently the most difficult of the bunch, so he was sent to Korea with his dad), a Yankee swap, and great food. Apparently it was mainly couples on a Saturday (when the events are on a weeknights you have more singles, but fewer parents/couples). All told it was great to meet some new people and keep my parents entertained (it was impressive, they stayed up late and had a great time, even though I kept them out with friends until 10 pm on several nights! In the US I have learned to not call them after 9:30 pm unless I want to hear a groggy voice. Must have been jet lag ;)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The "old man"

I wanted to write a quick caveat. For all of the traveling that I actually do, on many weekends I am extremely lazy. Leaving the apartment only at 3 pm in the afternoon, watching bad movies on TV, etc. And funny enough, most of that does not involve getting details (ie wedding stuff, or my blog) done. It involves surfing ESPN, sitting on the couch, etc. But we need those days off, that re-charge time, or at least I seem to!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Weekend trip to China

This has become almost the norm, the third time I have done a weekend in China. I went to Beijing and Xian with my parents and Michelle. I had two main things I wanted to see, the Terra Cotta warriors in Xi'an and the Summer Palace in Beijing. Neither one disappointed, and we had a great time learning about the history of China and surviving the cold. The only let-down was the Forbidden City, we were all exhausted and had not had enough lunch (ie almost none, and what we had had was due to me being a royal pain to Michelle earlier and her buying baked yams…) My parents seemed fairly disgusted by the size of the Forbidden city (okay great, more big ostentatious buildings). After the summer palace, it was harder to appreciate the Forbidden City, which surprised me. That said, it is still amazing, and on a warmer day with more food in our bellies…

Xi'an was really cool, it is amazing the sheer size everything. And to think that it had been hidden for centuries! 54 square kilometers, how do you hide that?!?! Apparently by killing everyone who worked on it (but they didn't consider him a nice Emperor, actually probably most of the rulers of China are people I would never want to meet, but must have been amazing people in one way shape or form!) Speaking of, it was interesting to read about one dynasty that buried the previous emperor (Ming dynasty I think) out of respect of tradition. That is totally different from a country like Egypt which defaced the previous pharaohs. Anyway, the Terra Cotta warriors were amazing, and so colorful in their time! Hard to believe that they have uncovered 600 pits (and really only excavated about 3 of them). They are waiting until they have the technology to really preserve them. So much history in this land, I definitely need to spend at least a year traveling around China! (of course I wouldn't mind learning Mandarin first though!)