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Getting there is all the fun

Volume 5: Being a Sea Cucumber 1994-1997

Volume 1: The early years 1948-1966

Volume 2: College, Army, first jobs 1966-1977

Volume 3: PC Revolutionary: Computerland, Beehive, Novell 1977-1989

Volume 4: Beginning The Great Panic: Divorce, bankruptcy, mid-life crisis 1990-1993

Volume 5: Being a Sea Cucumber 1994-1997

Volume 6: Searching for a new life, 1997-2002 (and discovering how deep the Panic Scars are)

Volume 7: Recovering from Panic Thinking 2003-2008

Volume 8: Remaking a home in the USA 2008-2010

Volume 9: Searching for positive feedback 2011-

Volume 5: Searching for a new life 1993-1997
or
being live bug pinned to the wall

From 1990 to 1997, I was living under the shadow of huge debts. The bankruptcy of 1990, cleared a lot, but far from all, of the damage Sue had done. Student loans, IRS and ORS judgments were obligations unaffected by the bankruptcy. And, my ORS back child support was ballooning hugely during the first part of this period.

I had to completely restructure how I was to live my life, and conduct my career. This is the story of that transition.

In 1997 I filed a second bankruptcy, and compromised with the IRS. That, finally, was the end of the "Sue Catastrophe", in the fiscal sense, but the scarring to my lifestyle and career turned out to be longer lived.

And now for something completely different... I become a "Pacific Rim Guy"

In this period of my life I bounced around seeking work on both sides of the Pacific. I worked in Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the US. I taught English in Korea and Netware in Australia and New Zealand. I became... a Pacific Rim guy.

 

This a picture of me with Tok Han Kim. He is the man I would be working with during my stays in Korea. This is taken on a golf course in Salt Lake City (in the early 2000's).
These were two of my students during my first stay in Korea (1994).

 

The Techvoice Crew

Techvoice was where I worked before I went to Korea for the first time. We were all freelance writers with extensive Netware background, and we set up a company around providing that service.
Left to right: Ed Liebing, Barbara Hume, Dave Doering, and me

Kids and Pizza

Kids and Pizza, what a combination! We are at The Pie pizzarea in Salt Lake City.
From top to bottom: Altair, Roger, Heather and Adrienne.
Good friends Phill and Buffy Baum. We've hung around together for a long time.

Kids and Dogs

What's the only thing better than kids and pizza? Kids and dogs!
...or maybe kids and trees. This is Altair and Roger in the Mirror Lake area.
 

My First Korean trip -- 1993,4

My first year teaching in Korea was very challenging, but very fascinating. I was well prepared for it mentally and emotionally, but in the end, I sure was happy to be on the jet plane headed back to the US of A.

This period was my first intensive use of e-mail. I would write home to my children about my adventures. This was half-therapy -- it was a way of keeping in touch with them, and a way for me to distance myself from the loneliness of being so far away from home.

Those letters home are chronicled here

My stay in Korea made me much wiser. I participated in Korean life. During the first few months, I looked at Korea much as a tourist would: what a strange place! And month four of my stay was the hardest month. By then the novelty was wearing thin, but I still had eight months to live through.

But, as I stayed longer, I started seeing through the strangeness. I started linking together the many strange things I had seen, and realized.... "Hey, there's some solid logic behind what I'm seeing!" Once that started happening, my interest stopped waning.

I was diligent about seeing the country. Every other week I went on a day trip. I got the Korean guide book out, and picked somewhere I could reach by bus in a day -- and there were lots of places. Wherever I went, I shot lots of pictures. Not only did I get a lot of good pictures, but unexpected things, usually pleasant things, always happened on these trips. I always had a good story to tell after one of these trips.

My travels became a conversation topic for my classes the following week. I'd show pictures, and ask the students about what I had seen. The students loved that -- I was talking about Korea, which was something they knew well, and this made it easier for them to use English to talk to me.

I also had another conversation topic: before I'd left for Korea, I'd traveled widely around Utah, and shot lots of pictures. I had traveled with Marty, and we came to rate trips by how many rolls of film we shot on the trip. A "one roller day" was a bust -- we had wasted our travel time. A "three roller day" was something exceptional, and well worth the travel time. But I was so poor, I couldn't afford to develop the film, so I had some fifty-odd rolls of film stored in my freezer by the time I left for Korea.

I took those with me, and thawed out one or two rolls a week, had them developed, and talked about those in class. The students loved those, too -- real photos from America!

My teaching philosophy was that I was there to help the Koreans learn how to move ideas while speaking English. The Koreans I taught had studied English for many years in school, but they had rarely "used" English. Also, many had been taught to speak English by Japanese teachers -- they were getting English second-hand, and, they found it more productive to "analyze" English rather than use it to move ideas.

My goal was to cut through the over-analyzing and second-hand nature of what they had been taught previously, and let them "strut their stuff" in a real-world, real-time fashion. So my class technique consisted mostly of asking questions. I would ask a question, let my students "process" what they heard, then let them formulate an answer, and tell it to me.

For some, this was very tough, but all agreed it was very worthwhile. And when I got answers, I learned a lot more about Korea, so I was enjoying it, too.

 
Marty and I on a Guns and Photos Tour (named after the briefly popular Guns and Roses rock band). We would travel around Utah on day trips shooting pictures, and while we were doing so, find some nice quiet spot to practice with our pistols, too. (late 1990's)
I would collect big plastic bottles -- 2 liter soft drink bottles and laundry detergent bottles -- fill them with water, and they were our targets.
A high-tech bowling alley on the top floor of a department store in Suwon, Korea. This particular building was ill-starred. It was built in 1994, or so, but the businesses in it rarely prospered, and it finally caught fire. But as of 2004, it was still standing.

Return to the US, 1994

When I left Korea that first time, I was renewed, much as I had been when I returned from Vietnam, and for the same reasons: it had been a hard, lonely stay. I had also earned some good money: I saved $12,000 in my year-long stay -- saved, as in took back to the US with me! Gosh! This felt good! I felt so empowered!

When I returned I lived in Phill and Buffy's basement to keep my expenses low. I started preparing an offer of compromise for the IRS, and I talked with Sue about restructuring the child support settlement. I also took courses and tests to become a Certified Netware Instructor -- I was using the money I had saved in Korea to pay for this retraining, in the hope that it would lead to a better paying technical job. I had heard that CNI's were making a couple thousand dollars for training sessions that lasted two or three days.

Also, while I had been in Korea, I had finally made enough money to make some child support payments, and I did. These payments from overseas were the first payments I'd made in a long time, so it was easier to renegotiate with Sue.

I renegotiated with Sue successfully, but I had no success with either the IRS, the student loan people, or the ORS -- I may have negotiated something with Sue, but in the eyes of ORS that had no affect the $15,000 judgment that the ORS caseworker had so blithely slapped on me a year earlier. So, even as I was training to be a CNI, it became clear I wouldn't be able to use that skill in the US. My time to work in the US would begin again 1997, when the statute of limitations on these obligations ran out. I started inquiries about using my CNI/CNE overseas. The most promising places looked to be Australia or New Zealand.

Getting the CNI proved tougher than I expected. Netware had evolved over the year I was away, and I finally had to come to serious grips with Directory Services -- I would be teaching that abomination now!

But, the most surprising difficulty was that I failed the test teaching session -- that was completely out of the blue since I knew my stuff, and I'd just spent a year teaching in Korea. But, for some reason, I rubbed the fur on my certifying instructor the wrong way... hard. In retrospect, this was the first sign that I was going to have a rocky relation with Novell Education.

By 1994 Novell Education was thoroughly taken over by "pod people" (this is a reference to the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- which was popular in the early-nineties). In this case, the pod people were professional educators. They knew the technical education industry well, and that mattered a lot. What they didn't know very well was Netware, but that was OK, because in the world of the Technical Education industry, the specific subject matter mattered little. In their eyes (and actions) it was much easier to have a good course designer learn technical subjects and then prepare a course, than it was to have a technician (who understood the problems of the technology) design a course. And as a corollary, a good presentation technique to be used by the teacher was essentially subject matter independent. By 1994 Novell Education was deep into developing a standard teaching technique based on the subject matter independence concept, and my teaching technique was so different, so based on my deep knowledge of Netware, that it looked "unprofessional" to the certifier, and he graded me accordingly.

Editorial

Novell Education may have been a successful part of Novell -- i.e.., made money for them -- but I was never, never happy with the courses they generated in the second half of the nineties. They somehow managed the impossible: they managed to cover the material, and be irrelevant at the same time. In some ways this is not so surprising: this is the logical result if you have someone who is good at writing courses write a course about something they don't have a clue about. I personally remember a course writer walking into and attending a "beta" class I was attending at Novell Education in Provo. During a break, we talked about his next project.

"I'm writing an advanced course on TCP/IP." he answered brightly, "and I'm attending this class today to see if I can find out something about sub-net addressing."

I cringed. Subnet addressing is "TCP/IP 101" -- a basic concept -- and our fine young man here was designing some advanced course?

Novell Education material always had nice graphics and a nice standard presentation format, but the content showed little-to-no insight into the subject matter. This left me, a knowledgeable teacher, with a hard dilemma: did I teach the book, or teach what I knew?

It was even worse when I started using the courses to teach subjects I wasn't thoroughly versed in -- then I could see the big "holes" in the content, but I had no answers!

Novell tests were no better -- and that was a big rub. I had a very hard time with Novell tests, in spite of how good I am at test taking in general.

But, in 1994, teaching Netware overseas looked as if it should work out even better than teaching English Conversation overseas.

 

A springtime celebration of the Suwon Walls. The ladies are dressed in traditional Korean clothing and carrying lanturns. That is a gate in the wall behind them. (late 1990's)
Two more of my students. (spring 1994)
In 1993 Deajun sponsored a World Exposition. After it closed it was reopened as a Science Fair park. The architecture was a lot of fun. (summer 1995)
More at the Deajun Science Fair.

 

CNI and Australia

The man who took me up as a "wet behind the ears" CNI, was Robert Jones, who was then working for FT Training in Sydney, Australia. I had never worked with Robert before, so I looked him up on the Compuserve forums dealing with Novell subjects. (The Compuserve forums were contemporaries with early Internet forums, and, at the time, more popular with Netware enthusiasts) The reports were checkered -- he was competent, but he'd backed out of deals with some people, and left them hanging for a lot of money. I went into this with my eyes open and radar up.

For three months I worked with Robert and the FT training people. Robert personable and had a lot of energy. The first thing we worked on was retesting my teaching presentation, and this time I passed -- I was now official. While I was at FT I taught, and trained some more on Netware, and updated my CNE. And I did what I did in Korea: I traveled, took lots of pictures, and talked with students about my travels and day-to-day life in Australia.

It was in Australia that I ran into a lot of Iraqis. This was just after the Gulf War, and many of those Iraqis who wanted to leave emigrated to Australia. There were lots of other nationalities here, too. And I developed a taste for Southeast Asian food.

 
Teaching a class at Future Technologies in Sydney, Australia.

I traveled all around the Sydney area, to Canberra to see the capital, to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef and to Ayre's Rock in Central Australia. All-in-all, I had a great time.

What I didn't do was land long-term employment, or save much money.

As my three months was ending, it turned out that FT Training was closing up shop, and I wasn't invited to stay on. What the whole story was, I don't know. But, given what happened to Robert Jones later, I suspect that Robert had promised the FT Training owners a lot, and delivered a lot less than he had promised.

Back to Korea: MD Kim and Robert Jones

As my Australian adventure ended, I needed money, so I contacted Mr. Kim in Suwon, and went back to Korea to teach again. This time I contracted for six months, and I advised him that in addition to teaching for him, I was also looking for a technically-related opportunity.

I looked diligently for technical opportunities. I contacted Novell in Korea, and Novell distributors in Korea. These turned up some interesting possibilities, but they didn't flower.

None of these produced any work. I was making money teaching English, but I couldn't convince anyone in Korea to take advantage of my technical skills.

My second stay felt very different from my first stay. I was now a "second timer" and the invitations from students to go visit places such as Korean Folk village declined sharply. That was a downside, on the upside I was treated with a bit more respect by the teaching community.

One person who treated me with a lot more interest was Kim Man-du, "MD Kim". MD was a middle-age Korean teaching English at JAFLI. At first he was just a personable character, but as we got to know each other better, he turned out to have a very interesting history.

He had once been a "wheel" at one of Korea's "cheabol", I think he said a president, and he had been a personal assistant of the "Park" that was the center of the "Park Influence-peddalling Scandal" of the late seventies or early eighties. This scandal peripherally involved Dole, who at this time was being talked about as the Republican candidate to go against Clinton. With interest in Dole running high, MD Kim wanted to know of I wanted to collaborate on a book about Park.

Cheabols are Korea's top 30 companies. Following the Korean War, when Korea began seriously industrializing and following the Japanese model of becoming wealthy and powerful by being a trading nation, the government decided that 30 private companies should be the "engines" that lead that development. These became "the cheabol", and their growth was promoted by favorable relations with the government. (There's a semantic difference between Korean use of cheabol and western use of the term. In Korean conversation cheabol refers to the rich owners of the conglomerates, and in western usage cheabol refers to the conglomerates themselves.)

The owner of the Cheabol he worked for had run for President of Korea, and lost, and the winners were so disturbed by this audacity that they cut his Cheabol off from further government support. As MD Kim's company demonstrated, a Cheabol without government support is an oxymoron -- the company soon folded. That left Kim well off, but cut off. Like me, he was trying to find himself after a catastrophe. He had tried a couple other things by the time we met; when we met he was teaching English in Suwon rather than Seoul, so he wouldn't accidentally run into any of his contemporaries who hung around in Seoul.

MD Kim (R), Martin Kim (C) and friend in the friend's rice field, about an hour south of Suwon.
Martin and his friend at the friend's farmhouse.
MD showing his grandson how to play Paduk.

We worked together on a couple of small projects -- translating a speech from Hangul to English for his son's speaking contest -- and I visited his home in South Seoul. Then we got on to something serious.

He had started a company called KP Union, and he wanted me to join him. It wasn't clear what we would do at the time; we would figure that out as we went. In the meantime, I helped him get a computer system set up in the office, and we connected it to the Internet. (Here is a partial resume of the KP Union people.)

KP Union was tantalizing. For many weeks I taught English for TH Kim, then commuted to Seoul to work on projects with MD Kim. I told MD about my English editing business idea. He pooh poohed it on the grounds that, "If a Korean company wants good English, they already have their own people. It's only the governments that produce this terrible stuff, and that's because they have no budget for better."

The most tangible thing that came out of this was a business plan to mix teaching computer technology and English to Korean students. The students would learn in the US, and when they returned to Korea they would be offered positions in a computer support company here in Korea.

That business plan brought us back in contact with.... Robert Jones! He was alive and well, and still in the Novell training business. He had set up his own business, and suggested that we come to Sydney to talk about this plan. He even offered a way for us to do this expense-free. He said, "The Australian government has a program to compensate local business for their expenses if they host foreigners who are coming to consider doing business in Australia." All we had to do was keep track of our expenses, and give them to Robert. He would take care of the paperwork, and get us our money back. Kim and I took him up.

The trip came near the end of my contract with TH Kim. MD Kim and I had a nice ten day stay in Sydney, and we spent a couple days in Hong Kong on one of the legs. I hadn't been in Hong Kong since I'd had a one week R&R there in 1969. It had changed a lot. In 1969 it wasn't wall-to-wall skyscrapers, and the Star Ferry --not the subway -- was the main transport between Hong Kong and Kowloon.

We met with Robert on a high floor in a Sydney skyscraper. It was roomy, but there was unfinished office remodeling going on, and no one was there. He explained that his new training business was going to be here, but he had lost his financing, and now he was out. He would be moving his operations back to the US.

During our stay we did some serious discussing and some serious number crunching using my pro-forma-business-plan-creating skills on a spreadsheet. (Lotus this time) In the end, I didn't like the numbers: to make a profit employees had to be working too hard, or some other parameter had to be stretched beyond reasonable. I said so, but Jones and Kim remained more enthusiastic than I.

When our visit ended, Kim and I headed back for Korea, and from there I headed back for the US. MD and I had tried, hard, but we hadn't come up with a profitable reason for me to stay in Korea.

Later, I found out that Kim and Jones tried to work out something around me, but nothing came of that either, except Kim paid Jones' way for a visit to Seoul. Afterwards Kim and I both found out that Jones was a swindler: we sent him expense reports, but he never sent us any money to cover our trip expenses. I was out about $4,000, and I don't know how much Kim was out.

 

Big disappointment

Remember: I'm still working on my Four Step Plan. I'm still in this to: get a job, save some serious money, get a wife, and start my second family. The fact that even with MD's enthusiastic help, extensive contacts and hefty business experience, I can't get anything to happen in Korea... that's very disappointing. What more help could I expect? And... it's a blow to my personal esteem because I've always prided myself on being flexible. Here, when flexibility should have been a great aid, nothing happened. I couldn't come up with a good idea; Kim couldn't come up with a good idea, and even if Robert Jones had a good idea, he was no longer to be trusted.

Return to US 1995: Intermountain Internet

When I came back to the US I found that Richard and Marty and a couple of their friends had been trying to exploit the just-starting Internet Boom. They had launched an Internet Service Provider company (ISP) called Intermountain Internet. But, by the time I arrived, Intermountain Internet was on it's last legs. Richard had been doing the leg-work and had learned a lot, but he was fighting with his partners, Chip in particular.

The fighting wasn't resolved, so the partners decided to sell out, and I helped out with the selling out process. I learned a little about web page design, took some pictures, and put up a web page that described what was being sold. This was my first foray into web page design.

I also visited Robert Jones for one last time. He was trying to establish in Summit County, Colorado -- a ski resort community southwest of Denver that was turning into an information worker haven. I visited him, found him about to set up an ISP in Summit on a shoestring, then I returned to Utah. I concluded from what I saw that it would be a long time before he had any money that we could pressure him to give MD and I. Since then I've heard absolutely nothing from him or about him. For years I kept looking for his name to surface on the Interent.

Editorial:

This transforming of resort communities into information worker communities is a demographic trend I noticed in the early 90's, but I've seen very little written about it. It first dawned on me when I drove by Vail, Colorado, and noticed it had five freeway exits, and high-rise office buildings. This place was no longer just a ski resort town. It was catering to those who could make lots of money with just a telephone, fax and personal computer. (and a couple years later, Internet access). The inner city "flight to the suburbs" is now a flight to resort communities.

My stay in the US this time wasn't a long one. I stayed long enough to confirm that the IRS, ORS and student loan people hadn't changed their stands, and to add Internet Training to my repertoire, then I started to look for work overseas again.

Trying to sink new roots, 1996: New Zealand

Here I am at "the end of the world": the south end of the South Island of New Zealand.

By now I was getting tired of being a "Pacific Rim Guy", and I wanted to settle down. The US was still out of the question, and Sydney was a bit busy and warm for my liking, so I followed a long-held dream and headed for New Zealand. This was my second or third serious try at employment in New Zealand. I don't remember details of the first two attempts, but when I came this time, I was prepared to start the job-hunting process real quickly.

Now I added some new tools to my job-hunting package: the rented car and the rented cell phone. I experimented with this first in San Jose, California. I flew in, found a place to stay and a Yellow Pages, and started calling. With my rented cell phone and rented car, I went interviewing.

In San Jose I turned up a very nice, very inspiring employment agent, but no more.

 
The South Island was a photographic delight. Each weekend I was there I day tripped, and each day trip produced many rolls of interesting photos. This was a sheep grazing field on the south coast east of Invercargill.
This is a glacier near the middle of the west coast of the South Island. It is near Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand.


That tunnel is tall enough to drive a city bus into, but you wouldn't want to: that ice on the right side was crashing down as I watched.

I hopped on a plane for Auckland, New Zealand, and started again there. By now I was a well practiced low-budget traveler. I stayed in a youth hostel in downtown Auckland on Fort Street. I called people using the pay phone in the hostel lobby. I called people for a week or ten days, then rented a car and drove to Wellington. I tried calling people in Wellington, then turned the car in there and took the ferry and train to Christchurch.

It was in Wellington that I had my first "panicable" physical problem. I'd been sitting cross-legged on my bed, and when I went to straighten out my legs, my right leg jammed about half extended. I could move it back, but not extend it fully -- a ligament was jamming on something. (Today I suspect it was a fold of bursa inflamed by my "walking bursitis", but at the time it was a complete mystery.)

I didn't know what to do! So... I did nothing for a while, sat on my bed with my leg half extended. About an hour later whatever caused the lock had moved back into proper position, and I could extend my leg again. I was so happy! And scared! For years after that I was very careful about sitting cross-legged. And, even so, I had that knee lock up a couple times again.

Finally, the last time it happened I was getting up from just sitting in a chair in class. As I hopped, with help, out to the car, there was a "snap", and whatever had been the problem ripped open, and the problem was gone... never to reappear to this day.

 

From Christchurch I drove south through Dunadin to Invercargill. By the time I hit Invercargill, I was having serious doubts that this audacious plan (cell phone-and-rented car job hunting) would produce any better results than my usual mass mailings of resumes had.

But in Invercargill I hit paydirt. I talked to the owners of the Clive Barker computer store, and I started working for them as a computer trainer.

That was the good news: the bad news was that we could never quite coordinate between us who was to do what. I taught only one class. I did some support work for them, and learned a lot more about Windows, but I never found a way to be really valuable to them. When my three month tourist visa expired, I left.

 
The west coast of the South Island was filled with oddities. This was another one.
Here I am mid-way between the South Pole and the Equator. I have also stopped midway between the North Pole and the Equator (in Idaho and Wyoming in the US).

I had a good time in New Zealand. Once again, it was a very different place, and once again working there let me see a lot more of the logic behind why it was different. The scenery was spectacular and my employers had provided me with a car, so I drove all over the South Island while I was there. (I finally learned to be somewhat comfortable with a stick-shift on the wrong side, driving on the wrong side of the road, and roundabouts. But, if I started talking to someone while I was driving... watch out!)

New Zealand is like Utah, it's a land of rich contrasts and scenery, particularly the South Island. (When I saw Lord of the Rings, which was filmed in New Zealand, I could pick out the rough locations for about half the scenes.) It is also like Utah in that it's first big European settlement wave came in the mid-1800's, (It was settled a century after the Australian settlements were started.) and in population -- about 3.5 million. In New Zealand the first settlers were English and Scottish. This is similar to Australia, but in Australia a lot of Irish came, too.

Back to Korea again: 1997

As much as I wanted it to, New Zealand hadn't worked out, so I was headed back to Korea again. As I said earlier, I was now tired of bouncing around, and I really wanted to settle down. I planned on staying in Korea for a while this time. I was planning on learning Korean, maybe getting a nice Korean wife...

But... The first day of class I asked my students what had been happening in Korea since I left the last time, and the first thing I heard about was a Cheabol going bankrupt. The second thing I heard about was another Cheabol in a severe financial crisis... Whoa!

 

These hands are at Korex, the Korean Exposition Center, in Seoul.
More fun with students. We were clowning around in a park near the school.
Another shot from that photo session: Asia meets Australia. The corks on the hat are there to ward off flies. In parts of Australia's Outback there grows a fly that just loves faces, hence the hat.
Looking sharp as I step out in the Utah State Capitol.

The "IMF Crisis" as it's called in Korea didn't officially begin until late in the year, but the recession signs were already strong in January when I arrived. I heard this and concluded... correctly... that English conversation is a discretionary expenditure. And if Korea is going into a severe recession -- and two out of 30 Cheabols being in death or near death sounds severe -- I may not want to be planning on "growing roots" there this year. So, instead, I was planning on leaving within two days of arriving, and I knew exactly how I would leave: TH Kim would not be able to keep up his side of the contract and keep me in enough classes.

In April I pointed this out to him, "You haven't kept up your side of the contract. I'm leaving." His jaw dropped. Teachers had left him before, lots of them, but they had always been angry, and they were always the non-performing member when it came to a cause for leaving. I was the first to ask to leave because of a performance lapse on his part. It took a while for the concept to sink in. We talked; I compromised with him and agreed to pay for my ticket home, and we parted amicably.

(Here are some e-mails I wrote during this period.)

My choice to leave was a good one. Teachers who remained did find their class loads reduced dramatically, and many, many "hogwans" (private teaching schools) went out of business in that recession -- a lot of hard feelings were engendered between teachers and hogwan owners that year. Kim and JAFLI survived, and JAFLI became "the oldest hogwan in Suwon".

Thoughts on the "Asian Flu" of 1997

Note: what you see next is a "Roger View" of the crisis. It's not an official view.

1997 was the year Hong Kong returned to China. Before the transition actually happened, no one knew how orderly or peaceful it would be. There was a lot of concern that it would be a violent and disruptive transition, and that China would try to "loot" Hong Kong once it was back in the fold. So, people throughout Asia "took precautions."

One of those precautions was preparing to become "the next Hong Kong" -- developers in many cities in East Asia went on building sprees to house and office those who might flee from Hong Kong, or those who would set up the companies that would take the place of the now-cut-off Hong Kong trading companies.

An unnoticed fallout of this precautionary thinking was that land prices became valued higher in "competing cities" than they would have been otherwise, so more money was available to collateralize the building boom, and the building boom became a "bubble".

When the Hong Kong transition came to pass very smoothly, and few people or businesses left Hong Kong, the competing cities now found themselves overbuilt, and the bust began. It started in Bangkok, but quickly spread throughout East Asia. It started as collapsing construction and real estate companies, but quickly spread to the banking industries that had collateralized them, and that seems to be the group that suffered the worst.

The crisis took about three years to resolve. Korea in 2001 was unsure if it was completely over the IMF Crisis, but it was, and the September 11th Crisis was to shortly eclipse it.

Losing it: The Ode of an Aging Man

by Roger Bourke White Jr., April 1997

They were mole hills in my youth, now they are mountains.

The unchanging hills

My gaze turned their heads in my youth, now they don't see it

The ever changing young women

They were prey in my youth, now they are rainbows

The lofty goals

Back to America in 1997

The plan to live a long time in Korea fell through. So, it was back to the US once more. But now almost seven years had passed since the Sue Catastrophe. It was time to see if my US problems could be finally resolved, and that is the subject of the next chapter.

 
Christmas card picture made in 1997.

Volume 1: The early years 1948-1966

Volume 2: College, Army, first jobs 1966-1977

Volume 3: PC Revolutionary: Computerland, Beehive, Novell 1977-1989

Volume 4: Beginning The Great Panic: Divorce, bankruptcy, mid-life crisis 1990-1993

Volume 5: Being a Sea Cucumber 1994-1997

Volume 6: Searching for a new life, 1997-2002 (and discovering how deep the Panic Scars are)

Volume 7: Recovering from Panic Thinking 2003-2008

Volume 8: Remaking a home in the USA 2008-2010

Volume 9: Searching for positive feedback 2011-