Happy Late Blogoversary, and Statistics Galore!

I thought that WordPress would notify me when my blog turned a year old. I mean, it sent me an amusing email containing a bunch of statistics at the end of 2010, so I figured that could happen again. But it didn’t, and here we are, approximately a year and six days removed from the day I created this blog. I say approximately because although my first post (“Before We Get Started“) went up on June 23, 2010, I’m not entirely sure that I wrote that immediately after creating this thing.

The past year and possibly-plus-but-definitely-not-minus six days have been reasonably good to it. I like most of what I’ve written, although I don’t think any of it has the brilliant sparks of mastery that some people have and which first enticed me to write. I see an unfortunately definite decline in quality over the months, which is expected considering the disparity of effort between the first couple months and more recent days. I see one body of work that I can be particularly proud of, the decade-end countdown. Incidentally, those eleven posts still produce roughly 95% of the traffic here. (If you’re wondering why I don’t do that anymore, I’ve been writing regularly for hellokpop.com; my articles are available here. End of shameless plug.) I see a sleek, new WordPress interface, in fact for the first time. (Look, I haven’t had a chance to see this screen for two months.)

On to the more interesting stuff. Because WordPress won’t do it for me, this is a snapshot of Found In Translation today:

39 posts in twelve categories have been published, with a total of 498 tags appended to them. Like I said, the decade-in-review posts get the overwhelming majority of views, referrals, Google searches, comments, and just about every other quantifiable category. If you Google “Korean top 100” or something similar (in English), chances are I’ll be at the top. Consider one small niche of the Internet claimed here.

Two of the 39 published posts are poems with bad titles. I need to learn how to title things.

The most-viewed post is “Top 100 (Korean) Songs of the Decade: #20~11“, with 1,882 views. I’m not sure why this has more hits than the #10~1 post, but that one is close behind, at 1,806. Apart from the Home Page (#3), the nine next-highest posts are all part of this series. Humorous posts tended to be more popular than serious ones, with some of my favorite non-countdown posts like “QWERTY” and “Dorm Move-In 101” ending up high on the list.

There are nine unfinished posts sitting in the lonely “drafts” bin, some dating back to July 2010. Of those, four are good ideas. One of the four will be moved to Hellokpop; two will remain unfinished, because I have completely forgotten where I was going with them and left myself rather unhelpful hints. One draft ends with this:  “But the reason I bring this up is because I’m about to transition into that different topic right about now.” Thanks, younger self. The last of the good drafts might yet see the light of day. All the other drafts are completely wild ideas that would probably require the reader to be on powerful psychoactive drugs to find meaningful.

Akismet has been busy, allegedly protecting my blog from 855 spam comments. This is about eight times the number of actual comments I’ve received. Spammers are stepping it up.

This week, visitors have clicked into here from Google Malaysia, Google Thailand, Google Translate set to go from English to an Indonesian language (shoutout to K-pop fans in Southeast Asia), an unofficial Adriana Lima blog, and my friend’s blog’s comment section, among others.

Speaking of referrers, such lovely and sketchy sites as “howtomakelove.net”, “sex991.com”, and “teethwhiteninginfo.co.tv” have randomly linked here before. In a non-advertorial twist, the official website of the city of Alexandria, Virginia has also sent visitors. Twice. Wikipedia tells me that Alexandria is a smallish city of 140,000 located on the Potomac, with centuries of colonial history and a ton of government work. Not my kind of place, but hey, it sounds like you could get a stable job if nothing else.

My tag cloud is totally screwed up after the music posts, and you’ll likely get very little useful information out of it.

WordPress had pranked me a total of once. It was the only April Fools joke I fell for this year.

I’m seeing 2,205 hits logged for the month of June, a blog record. (Blogocord?)

And with that, thank you to everyone who took time out of your busy lives to read my stuff! Here’s to another year of sporadic posting, a disproportionately generous number of views, and actually remembering the blogoversary next year. Until next time, take care.


Veni, Vidi, Visa

I think political science classes all have one thing in common–they make you feel more learned than you actually are.

A lot of stuff about college does that, actually. But in all reality, although I’ve learned a lot in my time here, most (or even all) of it is so superficial–I haven’t even begun to crack the proverbial shell of knowledge yet (Is that a real proverb? I must have heard it somewhere…), taking my prereqs and electives and whatnot, and trying to pick out my minors way in advance.

I’m a month and a half from finishing my freshman year, and I’m sort of where I want to be. Not quite. A lot of what I’ve done outside of academics is also superficial.

I’m still shopping around–for the things that I will define my experiences around for a little while yet. If you’ve done this before, you probably know how it’s not always fun. Definitely not the continually blissful, liberating experience that it’s shaped up to be. I think I’m nearly done, at least: ready to check out, pay, delve into what I chose.

I’m closing this year out well, but what I’m really excited for is the next.

I came, I saw, I went shopping.

(I didn’t come up with the phrase, by the way. And it’s a stretch right now. Sonofanut.)

College freshmen

…are less mature than high school seniors. At least it feels that way sometimes.

The environment does that–bottom of the chain all over again, all that stuff. Being faced with the reality that you’re still not grown, and therefore the implicit assumption that you don’t have to be responsible yet. Being in the continual presence of older people around you, who know their way around a lot better. Getting to mess around with your choices and decisions for a little while, as you get “settled in” and “explore”. Compare that to your average high school senior. The polar opposite, right?

I definitely feel less mature than I did a year ago, and I think I’ll enjoy it while I can.

A Ways To Go.

Some days, I grow more hopeful with our world. The recent national sensation surrounding a certain homeless man definitely made for some of those days. It’s a heartwarming tale, and I’ve been rooting for this guy and his family (especially the one he had to leave behind).

Ted Williams on Wikipedia

CBS’s wrapup of the story


But on still other days, I’m reminded that our world still has a ways to go. Like today.


a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/01/09/us/20110109_GIFFORDS.html

Prayers are with the victims’ families.

The First Noel

As in, the first Christmas this blog has ever seen.

Christmas is something that used to be wildly different for me each year. Maybe it was the wonder of childhood, but when I was little, every year would feel like I’d never experienced the day before. Like everyone else, as I grew older, Christmas started to not hold the same sense of wonder anymore, but I’m glad to have had those few years.

But there’s another thing that Christmas did for me. It would always be a day when I, for some reason, tried to look forward to the future and think about what the next Christmas would be like. Although I wouldn’t lie to you and tell you that this had nothing to do with the acquisition of more gifts, I think little me also had a point (unwittingly). Your future is waiting for you to come grab it, and what better day to realize this than on a jolly time like jour de Noel? “Your next Christmas” has a lot of implications. Where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing, who will be with you, how you will spend it, what will be on your mind–you think about all this when you think of that idea. And I do believe that you will live the next year like you want that to happen, and it will come to pass. The brain is powerful, remember?

You and I are given much this Christmas; hopefully you and I will give much as well. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, live and enjoy the day. If you’re Christian, celebrate the birth of our Lord. But if you can spare a moment amidst all this, take a moment to think about your next Christmas–you never know what might come true.

Here’s a Merry Christmas to you.

Learning English May Be Hazardous To Your Reputation

Learning English is serious business, in case you didn’t know. I got lucky since I got to learn the language immersively by living in the States, but that’s not to say that it didn’t take a few years of bumbling around and trying to figure stuff out. Unfortunately, that first part means that I embarrassed myself a lot while I learned. Actually, that second part too. Since they mean the same thing. But the point is, my early years here were filled with language-related incidents, most of which my memory back then must have decided to suppress. They were all part of a learning process, and I can have a laugh over the memories now. But you can imagine that it wasn’t so jolly for little me at the time.

I came to Washington during the summer of my third grade year, which means third grade had already finished across America. So I skipped half a year, totally without my knowledge, and started in the fourth grade in autumn. I remember feeling pretty cool for that. The first day of school was going well enough–my mom walked me all the way (we lived about five minutes’ walking distance away) and even sat in during class with a number of other parents. I liked my teacher, a kindly lady named Mrs. Ault, and thought the classmates were okay too. Then we had a little icebreaker (though I’m sure you never use that word with kids. What ice is there to break?), and during the instructions I heard the word “birthday”. I knew that word! It seemed that she would say all the months in order, and everyone who had a birthday in that month would raise their hand. (My birthday’s in August, so I had a little time to figure this out.) Then she would point to each person who raised his or her hand, and the kid would reply with some number. I was able to conclude that they were replying with the actual date of their birth. So I raised my hand when the teacher called “August”, and when it was my turn, I was able to triumphantly say “one” and feel good about my abilities of inductive reasoning.

My teacher didn’t seem so impressed, though; her expression turned rather curious, instead. If I had paid a little more attention to the numbers that everyone else was saying, I’d have noticed that they were all either nine or ten and thus realize that they were saying their age. I wasn’t embarrassed at having proclaimed that I was one year old to the class, though, because I didn’t figure it out until I thought about it at home later.

Things improved a little after a year of experience under my belt. Fifth grade was still dotted with a number of incidents, though, the most memorable of which is probably the rice debacle. The class was divided up into groups for a project that I can’t remember anymore. But it must have been some kind of crafts thing, because each member was assigned materials to bring from home. My material happened to be rice, and I was instructed to bring enough for the whole group to use. Oh hey, good news right? Not like I didn’t have tons of that at home.

At this point, I should tell you a couple things. First, the Korean language differentiates between two words for rice: “쌀” (pronounced “ssal”) and “밥” (“bap” with a long ‘a’), where the former is the grain in raw state and the latter is in cooked state. Second, the English language does not. Third, while I was learning English, I had this thing where if it was possible for me to understand something the wrong way, I generally would.

I went home and told my mom that I needed to bring, like, half a ton of bap on the next day for class. She thought something here was more than a little weird, but I was adamant that that was what I was told, because it was true. (Even though I thought that it was a tad bit odd too.) So mom ended up cooking a significant amount of rice that day, and it had to be packed into a plastic picnic basket for transport.  I walked into class the next morning with that big thing and set it down next to my desk for the first couple hours, until it was time for group work. Some of my friends were curious and asked if that was for lunch or something; I didn’t feel like explaining that it was for a project, so I just told them no. In retrospect, that must have have been confusing.

Imagine my groupmates’ surprise when I show up with lots of cooked rice and none of the raw rice that we actually needed. I don’t really remember what happened afterwards, but I think it involved a lot of languid laughing and kids trying to make me feel better. Oh, and that rice took a good while for my family to finish.

By the time I graduated from elementary school, I was fairly well versed in conversational English and most everyday expressions. What took a little more time to master, though, were cultural nuances. That was the reason for what happened in sixth grade. It was a Lion’s Quest class period: correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I believe it was sort of a citizenship development thing. The class took turns giving short presentations about what kind of behavior they would like to see and not see throughout the year. One of my “don’t want to see” things were hurtful gestures: for example, giving the finger. (Which, being in the sixth grade, one did see a respectable number of.) At that time, my understanding of the middle finger was that it was certainly an undesirable expression, but not quite at the level of taboo. I did my presentation, and when it got to that part, I thought I would show them an example of what I meant by hurtful gestures. What I mean is that I basically flipped off the entire class while my teacher was standing right next to me. Silence fell over the room for a few seconds, and to her credit, my poor teacher ended it with a terse “Thank you. But don’t actually show that, even as an example.”

Seven years later, I’m certainly bumbling around a lot less. Though sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be totally caught up. I’m sure that there’s something, some aspect of Americana waiting for me to mess up somehow and learn it, but that’s okay. I’ll just tell myself that I’m Americanized enough, I’m okay, I’m good to go. And that I’m still Korean at the same time. What an idea. If it feels like this conclusion is rushed, it’s because I took a whole another post and crammed it into the last two sentences here without a sufficient transition. So don’t worry, it’s not just you. I’ll write about that someday.

Bouncing Back

I see a lot of people start blogs. I also see those blogs more or less abandoned within a few posts. (I can only guess–maybe it’s just a long hiatus.) And I don’t blame any of them, really. I think keeping one of these updated is pretty challenging. You’d think that things that happen in everyday life serve as good posting topics, if nothing else, but I’m finding that things become part of a routine faster than you can type sketch them in words.

Which still doesn’t really excuse a two-posts-a-month schedule when the author is pretending to keep a semblance of a living blog. All of my writing time’s been going into essays and that little project I mentioned a while back, but I miss writing doodly posts like the ones I had over summer. If you want it badly enough, you’ll get it. Or so they say. Or maybe I have the quote wrong. But my point is that I’m really wanting to write normal posts, so I’ll be somehow creating time to do that in the coming days.

If you’re curious about my exciting college life, it’s been a less-than-stellar week for me: filled with ugly weather, a brutal midterm, a ticket for a red light that I’m pretty positive that I didn’t run two weeks ago,  and a 41-0 blowout on the football game against Stanford. I live pretty positively, but I can’t defend this week from its failure to be awesome. I don’t mind too much, though, because cool things do happen during bad weeks. Which is why I got to meet some of my favorite people in the world yesterday, and this dropped today, among other things.

I promise the next post will be more substantial than this. I do believe that I’ve run the course of how long I can take this one without rambling more. On Halloween night, for goodness’ sake.