Museums of Seoul

A quick Google search will show you that Seoul alone has dozens of beautiful, interesting museums. I’m willing to go on a month-long trip to Seoul just to explore the history that’s captured there. Unfortunately, we were only able to stop by one museum on this trip, but I list a few other museums I’d like to visit on my trip  back.

Note: Amazingly, museums in Korea don’t have an entrance fee (unless it’s a special exhibit). Most museums, palaces, and other historical sites are closed on Mondays. The museum we went to is open 7 days a week.

National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea has three floors of artifacts and stories, so wear your walking shoes. There are plenty of cafes scattered throughout where you can take a break, and the museum has free WiFi for when you want to enjoy afternoon tea and reconnect with the world.

In addition to the main museum, they have a special exhibit and children’s museum. If you want to see the current exhibit in particular, I recommend going there first, or you may find yourself too exhausted after making your way through everything else.

When you’re done exploring the exhibits, head outside to the nearby Yongsan Family Park and go for a walk.

Other Museums of Seoul

Seoul has so many amazing museums I doubt I could visit them all (comfortably) in less than 2 months. When I return, here are the top 3 on my list that I’d like to visit.

  1. The War Memorial of Korea – It’s fascinating to see how different countries’ museums depict wars. I love the soberness of it all.
  2. Dongdaemun History & Culture Park – I caught a quick glimpse of this on our last night, but sadly the museums had already closed.
  3. Cheonggyecheon Museum – We took a free walking tour along the stream, where we learned a little about its history, but we ran out of time for the museum. I recommend taking a walk along the stream after your visit.

Kiwi Birdlife Park: Educational Fun in Queenstown

If you’ve never seen a kiwi before, you’re missing out. Since New Zealand developed so far away from any other land mass for 80 million years, they didn’t have many natural predators aside from birds of prey. I believe they only had three native mammals, all of which are small bat species. That means birds took on more of a mammal role, and compared to humans are largely defenseless. The kiwi is a flightless bird with no arms or wings, and a nose at the end of its long beak. It’s adorable.

The Kiwi Birdlife Park is on the way from downtown Queenstown to the Skyline Gondola, and is marked by a distinct red tunnel surrounded by plenty of signs. This is one of my favorite stops in Queenstown (I went twice), even with the lure of jet boating and paragliding just a few minutes away.


The park is a great place to walk around, and there are informative signs at every bird enclosure. However, I recommend you borrow a headset and take the self-guided tour. I read all the informative signs, borrowed a headset, saw the conservation show, and saw the kiwi feeding, yet still learned something new each time.

My favorites were the giant Wood Pidgeon (Kereru), the beautiful Yellow-Crowned Parakeet (Kakariki), and of course, the adorable flightless kiwi. I wasn’t able to get a photo of the kiwi bird because they’re nocturnal, and any flash would frighten them. You’ll just have to go see them for yourself at the park.

There were so many other birds to see around the park, from a rare flightless duck that came back from extinction, to the cheeky kea bird.

Tip: If you see any rodents, let the staff know right away. They aren’t native to New Zealand, and since the park tries to keep it a safe habitat for the birds they need to keep the rats out. I happened to see a mouse scurrying around in the kea enclosure, so I let someone know to put a trap there.

As a special treat, I also met Nigel the goat. His mom left him on the side of the road, where one of the park attendants found him and is now taking care of him. He’s only around 10 days old, and fairly young, so he imprinted on her. He also tried to hop from the shelf onto me, but he’s cute so he can get away with it.


Want to learn more? Please visit them, because the park is a family-owned business and not government funded. That means their operations and conservation efforts are supported by your entry fees, gift shop purchases, and donations.

I sponsored a native plant to be replanted, and bought a children’s book for my niece from their gift shop. I would have also loved to get a coffee, but their cafe closed at 3:30 p.m. today.

Here are a few more facts I snapped around the park.

The park is so much fun, especially if you like animals. It’s a great place to bring your kids, because they teach about native New Zealand wildlife as well as the importance of conservation. I recommend a visit to anyone visiting Queenstown; it’s fun, educational, a nice walk, and there’s so much to see.

New Zealand Maritime Museum and Art Gallery

I didn’t have to leave for the airport until 3 p.m. so I made use of my last half day in Auckland by visiting the New Zealand Maritime Museum and Toi o Tamaki Art Gallery.

New Zealand Maritime Museum

This museum was amazing, packed full of stories and interactive exhibits.

If I could have visited only one place in Auckland, it would be this museum (although I haven’t seen the war memorial museum yet).

At the start of their section on the first settlers of New Zealand (“New Beginnings”), you pick a ticket at random. At the end of the room, you find out more about your character, as well as how he or she lived and died. One of the features was a teacher and activist who married at 66, and another ran a brothel and died at 23, so it’s quite the array of personalities.


My favorite room was Kiwis and the Coast, which has an awesome lighthouse section. You can learn all about the history of lighthouses in New Zealand, how they work, and how to send an SOS in Morse.

I liked the story of the lighthouse keeper (Taylor Peter) who ordered a carton of matches, meaning a dozen boxes, and got 20,736 boxes instead. He says that 14 years later they still have some.

Tip: if you get hungry, check out Mecca across from the museum. I had the servers recommendation of Moroccan eggs with a freshly squeezed apple, carrot, and orange juice. I also saw a group of lucky kids learn about ocean safety on a boat in the harbor.


Auckland Art Gallery

Entrance to the main gallery is free, with prices for their special exhibitions. I paid an extra $15 to see A Space to Dream, which centered around South American revolutionist art.


I like art, but it straddles the line for me. A common theme I saw in the “art” was destruction of public property, which I honestly think is inconsiderate.

Not an art person? Albert Park is right next door, and it’s a beautiful place to explore. Due to the weather and limited time I only caught a glimpse of it, but it’s gorgeous.

Photo Privacy: Organize and Secure Your Photos with Sherish

Sharenting: When parents share information about their children on social media Did you know that more than 1/2 of parents who share about their children on social media give information that could identify their child’s location? A sharenting study by the University of Michigan found some disturbing trends in the social media habits of parents regarding their children. Many parents over-share on social media, and could unknowingly disclose sensitive information about their families to unscrupulous viewers. Sherish Logo The solution to this dangerous lack of privacy lies in Sherish, a new app developed to provide users with a secure place to store and share their photos. Sherish is completely private; you share certain photos with specific people (vs. a list of friends so long you probably forgot who’s on it), and you can revoke access at any time. As the image owner, you remain in full control of who sees your family and personal pictures. Sherish Twitter header Sherish is super simple to use, ad-free, and offers unlimited storage space. That means you can save as many pictures as you want! You can attach voice notes to any image, so for example, if you have a picture of your child’s first birthday, you can attach a recording of the family singing happy birthday. Sherish also has tons of other features, including duplicate removal, automatic backups, easy importing, complete and total privacy assurance, convenient organization tools and more.

Download Sherish here

I’m also pleased to announce that I’m helping out Sherish with some social media and writing on a trial basis! I believe in the need for a service like this, especially because we have to think about the future. Do you know whether your children will appreciate that picture of them using the bathroom when they’re old enough to sign up for social media? No. Once an image is out on the Internet, it’s almost impossible to “get it back” and eliminate all copies. When something goes viral it actually is impossible–people can save images right off their desktop, take screenshots on their phones, etc. I also like the assurance of privacy, which is refreshing in a cyber world where social media sites have confusing privacy agreements. I know that some sites will slip in a clause that allows them to use any of the pictures you upload for ad purposes–imagine having your face on a sidebar ad for some sleezy product. Infuriating, right? Anyways, try it out. They have a special promotion right now where you get 6 months free, so get it before it’s gone!

Software Starter Kit: What to Install in a New Laptop

Have you ever heard of the dreaded “blue screen?” The blue error screen is one of the most feared and hated things you can see on your precious computer. I got one recently on my [almost] brand new Lenovo with Windows 8.1.

Blue error screen

I had to do a complete system restore, losing all my files, images, installed software and bookmarks.

ChromeShout-out to Google Chrome for having an awesome browser restoration plan. I just logged into my Gmail account and poof, all my bookmarks and passwords were imported. But aside from that, everything was gone.

Anyways, after realizing how hard it is to set up a laptop from scratch, I’ve created a list of useful, free software that you can download online.

What to Install in a New Computer


VLC can be used to play almost any type of audio or video files. It also has great functions, like choosing your subtitles (when the files are available). My favorite video player ever, completely worthy of #1 on the list.


Some great antivirus software that has a good track record. They offer both a free and paid version (the free version has worked well for me so far).

Open OfficeOpen Office

Microsoft Office is great, but it’s expensive! Open Office does many of the same things for free. It’s open development software, which means it was developed by users for users.


This is useful if you need to record sounds and play them back, etc. Mostly used it in my language classes, but it stuck with me since it’s so useful and easy to use.


This application is great for business and personal calls, to have meetings, video conferences, or just chat.

winRARWinRAR or Zipeg

For accessing all the compressed folders, such as zip or rar files. Usually I go with WinRar, but decided to try Zipeg this time since I read some good reviews of it.

Microsoft Picture ManagerMicrosoft Picture Manager

One of my favorite image editing applications. It doesn’t have as many functions as GIMP or Photoshop, but it’s user-friendly and effective. Here’s a guide on how to install Microsoft Picture Manager.

I hope this list helps some of you find programs you love working with, because it means something good will have come from my system reset and lost files/memories.

Please, please please back your files up every month! It’s a pain in the butt trying to remember all your bookmarks, passwords, installed applications, etc.

2014 was a contract, Make 2015 a better one

Every year should be better for you than the last one was, and one way to make sure that happens is to treat each year as a contract.

  • Consider everything you’ve done and are doing this year, and decide whether you want to take it with you into the next. Look at your current living situation, your roommates, your wardrobe, your personal brand. What do you want to take with you into 2015? What should you leave in the past?
  • Fire the clients that cost too much time for too few returns. These clients could be a relationship, a job, a habit, or anything else that has bad ROI. As a professional, signing contracts you need to “get by” will do that and only that. You’ll get by, learn for a little while as all new experiences go, and then you’ll stop growing, stop moving and maybe even stop dreaming.
  • Discuss renewal terms. Every time you renew a contract, you know a little more about the company than you did at the last contract signing. Maybe now you know the company is stingy with vacation leave, or they are not paying you a living wage. Now that you are equipped with the knowledge of experience, get better terms moving forward. You could agree to give yourself every Sunday to relax, or to save up more of your paycheck for retirement.
  • A contract exists to ensure the survival and encourage the growth of the company and signee. When a professional signs a contract, he or she is there to help the success of the company. A historic researcher wouldn’t sign a contract to teach math. Look at what parts of your contract didn’t result in the success of all parties. What parts of your life aren’t helping you grow and learn?

Happy New Year! Make it better than the last.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

A concept in economics that if one factor of production (number of workers, for example) is increased while other factors (machines and workspace, for example) are held constant, the output per unit of the variable factor will eventually diminish.

Although the marginal productivity of the workforce decreases as output increases, diminishing returns do not mean negative returns until (in this example) the number of workers exceeds the available machines or workspace. In everyday experience, this law is expressed as “the gain is not worth the pain.”

The Business Dictionary

The rule of diminishing returns states that if all the factors of an equation remains constant except one, the return decreases as that single factor increases.

A great example of this is productivity decreasing over time. People who regularly work 40 hours a week are more productive in the long run than those who work 60 hours a week. Long hours and leaving work late are nothing to be admired–it just demonstrates an incapability of getting work done effectively and on time.

“Long hours…are often more about proving something to ourselves than actually getting stuff done.” Jessica Stillman, Why Working More than 40 Hours a Week is Useless

According to the Sigmoid Curve, “Quit while you’re ahead” is great advice.

“When all is well and you are at the top of your game, then you know it is time to plan your exit.” – Michael, The Lesson of the Sigmoid Curve

Sigmoid formulaThe Sigmoid Curve is a concept that originated in mathematics (see formula to the right), but represents a phenomenon in businesses, life and relationships.

Essentially, all things run in a cycle. Every growth curve will plateau, and that’s when you should begin a new curve.

Sigmoid Curve

The Sigmoid Curve, from

For example, a new venture has a learning and adjustment period wherein lots of hard work may not produce any tangible results. You could network, invest in prototypes, and spend late nights trying to fix one coding error without seeing any progress.

Then, a period of growth occurs where your business or career grows; your connections pay off, a prototype works, or a website is taking shape. The upward curve continues.

It’s when you are almost at your peak (about 75 to 80 percent of the way) that you need to begin thinking of your next curve; jump off as you near the top and start again from there. Invest in a new venture, remake your blog, branch into another sector of your industry, offer a new product, change the way you advertise, switch up your marketing plan, etc.

You need to jump, because if you continue to do what you always do, eventually profits will decline. Your audience will get tired of seeing the same ad over and over again. Your customers will require change.

“Successful people are regularly reinventing themselves, their careers and their relationships, rising to new challenges and pushing through painful new phases of growth. The junction between the first and second is not easy or clean. There is always a period of confusion, where the first curve is being abandoned and the second one embraced. This is a time of overlap, or ambiguity and of confusion,” Michael says.

The dangerous part about sticking to your original curve for too long is that when it eventually falls, you will fall with it…and often the second curve relies on the profits of the first curve to begin.

“Preparing for the second curve too early is far better than waiting until it is too late and the decline has set in. If you reach phase three before jumping off, you won’t have the energy and the enthusiasm to make the change so easily and there is less chance of success. Riding the first curve while cultivating the second is always the best option. Clinging to the first and trying to prolong it is a pointless waste of energy.”

The solution is education and an unyielding sense of adventure. Learn new skills and explore new pursuits before your current ventures grow stale.

Learn more about the Sigmoid Curve (and the “strategic inflection point”) by watching this great video.

Time is the New Money

There’s a new currency emerging in employees’ benefits schemes; time. Ask the best employee you have to work 12-hour days, seven days a week and he or she will eventually (and unhappily) quit no matter how much you pay. But give your employees their time back, and you give them their freedom. Give them their freedom, and they can work without that nagging feeling of constraint or wishing they were somewhere else–because essentially, they have their freedom because they have their job.

Virgin employees have unlimited vacation days, which allow all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want (without having to keep track!). Netflix also allows unlimited vacation days, and no one–not employees themselves nor managers–keeps track of time off. It works!

Back in the old days – 2004 – Netflix treated holidays the old-fashioned way: it allotted everyone N days a year. You either used them up – or you duked it out with accounting to try to get paid for the time you didn’t consume.

But eventually some employees recognised that this arrangement was at odds with how they really did their jobs. After all, they were responding to emails on weekends, they were solving problems online at home at night. And every so often, they would take off an afternoon to ferry a child to the pediatrician or to check in on an aging parent.

Since Netflix wasn’t tracking how many hours people were logging each work day, these employees wondered, why should it track how many holidays people were taking each work year? (Pink, D. H., The Telegraph)

Why does it work? Think about it; if you have the greatest job in the world that lets you take all the time off you want, would you abuse it at the risk of losing a job? Or would you work twice as hard to ensure the company succeeds and doesn’t change their awesome holiday scheme?

Alternatively, if you work for a company that deducts pay every time you come in late, and doesn’t pay any extra for all the times you come in early or work late, would you stay? How frustrated would you be?

10 Companies Revisited

Writing has been pretty hard lately. I seem to be repeating everything I’ve already said whenever I try to create new content. As a writer, I don’t have the luxury of looking at my craft and going “I’ve gotten good enough.” The rule of 1% is to aim for a 1% improvement everyday. I’m a little behind.

A career isn’t as convenient as school, where you have semesters or trimesters that wrap up neatly in a box of notebooks and folders you put away when class is over. I don’t know how to work this way! I like being able to pack away a syllabus and start learning from scratch again. I always liked handing in a project and calling it done.

I’m taking a small step past that open-close mentality by listing 10 great companies that I’ve had a personal experience with, and a possible money-making idea for them. Without further ado, here’s a blast from my past (and present, for some of them).

Couture House, by Christine Go

Target Audience: Newly engaged couples, teenagers about to have debuts, and upper-middle class families who may need gowns and tuxedos made.

Idea: Place an ad targeted at high school students in the school papers of international schools in Manila. The ad should feature tuxedo and dress types and prices, with contact information.

McMinnville Economic Development Partnership

Target Audience: Small businesses in McMinnville who are looking for business management guidance, and potential business owners.

Idea: Implement a blog compilation of consultations with clients, questions and answers, and seminars. The blog should be categorized by department (marketing, human resources, business development, investment ideas), so it can be used as a resource for small businesses.

Travel Yamhill Valley

Target Audience: Businesses in the Yamhill Valley; wineries, restaurants, lodging and services.

Idea: Host influential bloggers and writers, and partner with members to offer a Yamhill Valley experience to write home about.

Profiles Asia Pacific

Target Audience: Human resource managers and executives involved in hiring and company development.

Idea: Offer in-house training seminars to current clients based on what they feel is their workforce’s biggest challenge. Ex. teamwork, leadership, creativity, efficiency, motivation.

Tajimaya Yakiniku Restaurant

Target Audience: The “foodies” of Manila.

Idea: Sponsor a charity event wherein food is served, and bring 5 to 10 percent off vouchers.

Yamhill Action Community Partnership

Target Audience: Potential donors, volunteers, and individuals who may need assistance living self-sufficiently.

Idea: Hold a drawing at the next YCAP auction or event with business cards as entry tickets to capture information.

237 Marketing + Web

Target Audience: Small business owners who take their company marketing into their own hands and may need a little help and guidance navigating the waters.

Idea: Hold free quarterly educational webinars for WebCare clients and former marketing/website clients. Participants can send in questions they’d like answered beforehand or at the end of the webinar.

Eyrie Vineyards

Target Audience: Upper-middle class wine lovers nationwide, and distributors.

Idea: Partner with a travel agency to offer a foodie tour of all the restaurants and establishments where Eyrie wine is served in the Pacific Northwest. OR host a book and wine pairing event. Partner with Third Street Books or Powell’s and hold an event wherein people try wine and read book excerpts. Entrance fee covers the cost of their favorite bottle and book.

Fast Company Magazine

*I haven’t worked with Fast Co. personally, but I enjoy their content and have followed their stories for a while now.

Target Audience: Highly educated media consumers and innovative creatives, who may work in a marketing or design company or freelance for the arts. Writers, young professionals, and social media influencers.

Idea: Publish a book of their features from past magazine issues. They have amazing content online.

Velvet Monkey Tea

*I haven’t worked with this company either, so I don’t understand their strategy from an insider’s perspective. But while I lived in McMinnville, I spent afternoons reading, working, and enjoying tea here.

Target Audience: Tea enthusiasts.

Idea: Host a mix-your-own-tea workshop wherein participants can experiment and create their own custom blends. Include a list of special health benefits beside all teas, so participants can also customize based on what ails them.