I need a break…

Ever since I came back from Korea last year, I find myself more and more lacking the passion that got me into programming and computer science. Since I was 12 years old, all throughout high school and university I’d been designing and working on webpages and websites. After I graduated in 2011, I immediately found a job in San Francisco and was happy to live there and attend tech meetups and startups there until 2014 when I moved to Korea.
When I was in Korea I was also working though my enthusiasm was slightly diminished due to me focusing more on the goal of meeting someone there. When I failed that goal ultimately and was forced to come back to SF, I found myself even less eager to get back into programming and working a day job again. There’s nothing wrong with Spigit, the company that I work for, nor my coworkers who are pretty easy going, nor the salary or benefits (except I wish I had more PTO), nor the technology (I actually prefer Angular 2 to ReactJS) but its just the timing I guess.

I’m at a point in my life where I needed to find a partner, and being back in SF definitely does not help. It doesn’t help that SF has gotten a lot worse than before. There’s more homeless, more crazy people, prices have gone up, less women, less internationals, less Koreans and salary is the *exact same* as what I got from Walmart in 2014. So same salary, less PTO, and everything else in SF has become worse. I only have one friend left in SF now and he wants to leave here even more badly than I do! Coincidentally or not almost all my close male friends have chosen to be with Korean women.. and all of them have had more success than me, ironically, even though my Korean skill is probably the highest out of all of them. And not to mention that I have been focusing on Korea the longest, since 2012.

So yeah, I need a break from work, and I need a break from this city. SF while its still a tourist friendly city, has become a worse and worse place to live in. There’s less and less reason to stay here while the salaries are still stagnant.
These days I just hang out with my friend who constantly complains about life in SF and the lack of women here (doesn’t help my cause) and play video games all day. All my other friends are in Canada or Korea. What a life.

I really want to stay at my company at least one year though, since I’ve never worked for a company less than that and I want to make it seem that I’m somewhat loyal to the companies I go for. Plus I have a plan to sell my place next year and get out of the US, which means this could be potentially the last US job I work for. So why not make it last a little longer?
But yeah this is still next June, and surviving until that time is… difficult. Almost all of my friends from 2014, from before I left SF the first time, are no longer here. Making new friends is difficult; most of the internationals I’ve met this year have all been temporary couchsurfers who I only get to know for a few days before they take off again.

So yes that is my pitiful situation currently. I’m not enjoying my job, Its hard to make new friends here, my old friends have all gone, its impossible to make a girlfriend here due to lack of Koreans, and all this while all my friends and people I care about are next to North Korea, a country that Trump might decide to attack any day now. It is quite misery indeed. Even though 2013 and 2015 weren’t terrific years, in retrospect they were, and in addition to 2012, 2014 and 2016 (those which I always remember fondly), I even begin to miss my life in 2013 (in SF) and 2015 (in Seoul) too… compared to those times 2017 feels like being in a prison. I have to stay here to save money, but at the same time I feel no joy, depression comes fairly often, and I feel trapped in this place that I can’t escape until at least June 2018. I need a change in my life for sure.

Korea vs China what’s the difference?

A lot of differences. Some Chinese people say that Koreans “stole” Chinese culture but in some ways Korea is more Chinese than modern day China is.

-Koreans follow strict Confucian principles more than modern day Chinese do. This was true even back in the old times when Qing China and Joseon Korea existed. Koreans more than any other race stick together. They have this sense of ‘togetherness’ that does not exist to the same extent in modern day China. For example, somebody fall down in the street in China. Does anyone care? If it happened in Korea many people will help them. Do Chinese people really care about how other people act behave or look like? Maybe, but not to the same degree Koreans care.
-Loyalty and politeness. Korea takes a lot of cultural cues from Japan. This is one of them.. Korean companies value loyalty and expect the workers to stay at their company their whole life, just like in Japan. Its considered disloyal to quit the company or change companies. This does not happen in China. Also social cues like ‘nun-chi’ 눈치 in Korea its kind of like mannerisms towards older status people doesn’t really exist in China. Koreans bow when greeting each other. Chinese shake hands much like Westerners.
-During new years or Thanksgiving Koreans (particularly the women) will dress in their traditional outfits the hanbok 한복 and traditionally prepare food for their ancestors. A lot of Korean couples also wear hanbok just for taking pictures. You will not see Chinese wear their traditional outfits for things like this. The only times I see Chinese wear qipao or traditional Chinese outfits are for stage plays, Chinese opera or for traditional type weddings, thats it.
-Language. Korean language although they used to use Chinese characters, is very different now. They use honorifics in their language just like Japanese. So talking to older or younger person is different. Not so in Mandarin chinese.
-Work culture as I mentioned is pretty different. And its more competitive. Koreans have to learn either Chinese or Japanese in high school, and because appearance is valued so much in Korea, lots of girls get plastic surgery just to have a higher chance of getting a job there. Most students study English late into the night. You’ll find that the average Korean’s English is better than the averaged Chinese’s English skill. In China its not quite as competitive due to the following fact:
-Chinese are more ambitious and bigger risk takers than Koreans are. Koreans are very socially conservative more so than Chinese. They are risk averse and would rather suicide because they couldn’t get into Samsung or a famous university than start their own company. Chinese will find another way to get a job or start their own companies. They don’t give up quite as easily.
-Koreans care about appearance a lot like I mentioned. So almost all Korean girls wear makeup, dress up, and don’t wear glasses. Their fashion styles are totally different. In China its not quite as important, BUT they focus a lot more of showing off their wealth which means buying brand name items and owning homes is more important over there.
-Koreans are a more ‘traditional’ society… the women usually stay at home to take care of children, and do cooking and cleaning, while in China these duties are shared between the husband and wife. Gender equality is slightly better in China due to communism..
-China is a very diverse country full of different races. Korea is 99% Korean. This means if you look different or act different, you are probably more likely to be noticed in Korea than in China. Korea is a very conformist society and people like to act and look the same. You will find less ‘crazy’ people in Korea than in other countries.
-Religion. 40% of Koreans are Christians and another 30% are Buddhist. Since Communism eliminated religion, very few Chinese are actually religious.
-Koreans like to export their culture to other countries like kpop or kdramas. They somewhat have to do this because their country is small and they have a limited market, so their global marketing skills are very developed. China has a big domestic market so not much need to export their music or fashion or entertainment, thats why you never about hear any Chinese pop conventions…
-Korean food is really just a subset of Chinese food. Chinese people eat almost anything. spicy things, fried things, insects, herbs, parts of frog or duck or dog or horse, etc almost ANYTHING. The cuisine really depends on part of China, but Korean food tends to be spicy, and their cuisine really is a subset of Chinese cuisine. I can say almost anything you eat in Korea can be found *somewhere* in China, but not the other way around. Very few Koreans eat actual Chinese food and instead eat “Koreanized’ Chinese food. Jajeongmyeon is actually Korean food but they think its Chinese.
-Both countries are relatively safe compared to gun crazy America, but Korea is more safe. In China there is always risk of food poisoning, people stealing stuff, getting scammed etc. In Korea you can leave your phone on a table for hours and no one will take it.

Thats just a few differences.. there are indeed MANY since I lived in both countries. Even tiny minor things, for example Koreans like to drink when they are together and Chinese play card games (Koreans dont play card games very often). Games like Mahjong are non-existent in Korea but everywhere in China.

the iPhone 10th anniversary & legacy..

On the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, people have been celebrating how revolutionary it was.. and yes, it does deserve all that praise. Steve Jobs was a brilliant marketing genius and visionary. Apple products haven’t been the same since he passed away. The Apple Watch (whats the use case?), the iPad Pro (stylus?), the new iPhones (no headphone jack?) and the new MacBook lineup (all USBC?) have all been criticized a lot since they came out and some design flaws like the camera bump in the new iPhones, no headphone jack, the elimination of magsafe and switch to all USBC etc have caused to people to wonder if Steve Jobs was alive if those things would have been approved.
Well, I’m not sure, but definitely I can say the presentations haven’t been as awe-inspiring with Tim Cook in charge. He’s more of a quiet delegator whereas Steve could light up the room and take charge with everything.

The iPhone brought *capacitative* touch computing to the massive. Previously, touch screens have been mostly resistive touch which made those devices very hard to use and required a stylus to use them. Back in the mid 2000s I did use some Palm devices, Pocket PCs and carried around a hefty Windows Convertible PC (yes they had those back then!) all which required styluses to use. It was a pain.
After the iPhone and iPad came out, every device got much easier to use, and just using the fingers was so simple and easy.

There are some things I miss about the pre-iphone phones though. I think people unfairly look at the old Blackberrys and Windows Mobile devices as crap compared to the iPhone but thats not exactly true. People forget that the original iPhone had no 3G, no copy+paste, you couldn’t attach images in emails, there was no selfie cam, there was no video capability or flash, no third party app store, etc. A lot of smartphones back then had all those features. No it wasn’t as easy to install a third party app onto a Pocket PC or Palm OS device as an iPhone’s App Store, but there definitely was a thriving marketplace for those old devices. It wasn’t as bad as people thought it was.

Moreover, I liked how every device looked so unique. You had flip phones, slider phones, swivel phones, dual slider phones, transforming phones, etc. These days everyone has the same phone.. iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy, etc the same black slabs everywhere. Back then there was very slim chances you and your friend had the exact same phone model. Here are some standouts (I own alot of these):

Nokia XpressMusic 5700
Nokia XpressMusic 5700
Blackberry Porsche P9981
Blackberry Porsche P9981
Samsung Alias 2
Samsung Alias 2
Pantech Matrix Pro
Pantech Matrix Pro
Nokia N95
Nokia N95
Nokia N93
Nokia N93
Nokia E90
Nokia E90
Nokia E70
Nokia E70
Motorola Aura
Motorola Aura
Motorola Flipout
Motorola Flipout

Yeah especially Nokia had a lot of really cool designs… we won’t be seeing these kind of designs anymore unfortunately.

And another thing is cellphone charms! remember those?

cellphone charm
cellphone charm

Young people might not even know that back then, phones had a hole where you could attach a charm to it.. that hole is not longer on modern smartphones so cellphone charms (the way people could customize their phones) have now been replaced by smartphone cases, which IMO isn’t quite as great. Yeah you can still customize your phone with a case, but its not the same as having a good old fashioned charm.

So yeah just pointing out some of the negative side effects of iPhone’s legacy..

In other news, I’m going to Korea next month and not a moment too soon.. been dying here of boredom having nothing to really do. my plan right now is to just save up money for next year. After the hassle of getting yet another work visa at the border, I don’t really plan on doing that again. I’m planning to leave in another year or so, and go back to either Korea or Canada. Yes, that means I’ll have to leave my current job, but unless I can work remotely it just won’t work out. I don’t get enough vacation time with my current job to get the freedom that I want.

Also, planning on selling my home too. There are a few reasons for this. Yes having a place in San Francisco is nice and all, but the housing market in SF is beginning to cool off, and for the price I could sell my apartment for, I could easily buy another place in the US (I’m thinking San Diego because of the weather and West coast location), AND have enough spare money to help me get another place in Vancouver Canada (with the help of a mortgage) as well. I’ll just rent out a storage locker while the unit is on sale and then just move things out when I get my new places. But yeah that’s my longer term plan. My best friend in San Francisco is in the same situation as me except he is 5 years older so its probably even more urgent for him, but he doesn’t want to stay here either. And besides him I have very few friends and very little reason to stay in SF. 90% of my friends are in Korea or Canada so it makes more sense to move to those places instead. I’m in the USA just for saving up money that’s it, but hopefully the US/CAD exchange rate remains the same next year else I’m losing a lot of money if I don’t exchange now…