Dec 11, 2006  •  In Art/Design, Marketing/Advertising

Olympic Mascots

Here are the mascots of the 2008 Olympics, which is being held in Beijing:

The “Five Friendlies” represent the largest number of mascots since the practice began in 1972. You can find out more about them at

The website includes a history of the Olympic mascot(s), and immediately my eyes were drawn to Hodori, the mascot of the 1988 Seoul Games:

I don’t think I’m being biased in believing that he’s the most charismatic, attractive, and well-designed of the 9 featured in the “Olympic Mascots of the past Olympiad” section. Which do you think is the best?

Looking at Hodori brought back fond memories. Hodori was everywhere right before I came to the US (my family immigrated in spring 1988). Thus, my fondest and most vivid memories of my former life in Korea include Hodori.

But where was Hosuni? Why is she not listed alongside Hodori on this Olympics page?

Hosuni is the female couterpart of Hodori. I remembered her as well, and became curious as to why she was not included. Another search told me that although Hodori and Hosuni were the official dual mascots of the ’88 Seoul Games, Hosuni was rarely seen due to marketing mistakes. Some authors even pointed fingers to Korea for being sexist.

I had trouble finding pictures of Hosuni online. Here’s one with both Hodori and Hosuni:

Yep, they definitely are the best Olympic mascots ever.

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Dec 5, 2006  •  In Career, Personal

Corporate Slavedom

Yesterday I read an article which was linked on Slashdot. It caught my attention because I’m still in the process of paving a career path. In the midst of researching and reading up on the myriad of options that are available for recent grads who are still trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives, I have come across several articles of this nature. This segment in particular struck me:

Years ago if you put in long hours and worked hard for a company, you were rewarded with gradual promotions, longer vacations, medical insurance, and a healthy retirement plan. Most people expected to work 20 years or more at one company. Today to get ahead and save for a reasonable retirement, workers often must hop from company to company to get a promotion. Hard work and dedication to a job well done are no longer seen as ways to protect a job. Everyone is expendable, thanks to many employers’ short-term, economic goals. And there’s no incentive to work long hours. It won’t likely pay off for the worker in the long run.

This reminded me of two movies. The first, In Good Company, where Dennis Quaid plays an experienced, loyal employee who is replaced by a younger, less experienced worker due to a company takeover. An article I read last week asked the question “Why does your boss seem so stupid?” One of the reasons it gave was that nowadays, managers and leaders are hired externally. So, in a sense, the employees in the lower positions end up having to train their own bosses.

The second movie I thought of is Office Space, particularly the scene where Ron Livingston’s character Peter goes through an assessment, or, as the movie put it, “being interviewed for their own jobs”:

Peter: You see Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.

Bob: Don’t… don’t care?

Peter: It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s another thing, I have eight different bosses right now.

Bob: Eight?

Peter: Eight, Bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

Reading this, you can see how the movie Office Space became such a hit among those who work the corporate life.

So what was the purpose of this entry? I’m not sure. Everything I’ve written above makes me a bit sad. But this is the way things are done these days, and I know I must accept it if I am to make it in today’s corporate world.

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Nov 20, 2006  •  In Geek, Personal, Video Games


The Sony PS3 has been out for 3 days now but I will not be getting one. Why? The available game titles do not look too exciting. It costs an inordinate amount of money. Plus, the Nintendo Wii was launched just 2 days later and I had been drooling over it ever since it was announced at E3 2005.

I can go on and on about the superiority of the Wii over the PS3. Suffice it to say, Nintendo never ceases to amaze me with their creativity (look how well the DS is doing!) and marketing efforts. Nintendo has built up a community of die-hard loyal fans of all ages who have been interacting in all sorts of ways through the DS, and now they can build another macro-community through the Wii.

Not to mention, Nintendo fans tend to be a lot nicer than your run-of-the-mill PS3 fan, as illustrated by this week’s xkcd:

Yesterday, J, our friend BJ, and I woke up at an insane hour so we could make it to the Target in Columbia for the launch of the Nintendo Wii. We had been scouting the local Best Buy’s, Target’s, Toys ‘r Us’s, Walmart’s, etc. for days to see which would be getting the most units in on launch day, and the Columbia Target it was.

I stopped by my local Dunkin Donuts to pick up coffee for the three of us and to buy a box of donuts to be shared among the crowd (there you go – the friendly Nintendo mentality). However, this might have been a waste of precious time, by the time we arrived, there was already a line…

Notice that the actual entrance to the store is around the corner. There were tents set up at the beginning of the line. Oh em gee.

At around 7am, the manager of the store came out to tell us that they had exactly 120 units in stock. BJ quickly ran around counting. God had decided to play a cruel joke on us that day: we were numbers 121, 122, and 123.

We made a mad dash to the Toys ‘r Us that was across the street. Fortunately, the line here was shorter because the store wasn’t scheduled to open until 10am as opposed to Target’s 8am. Here is a shot of the people in front of us, which was only about 30:

We kept ourselves busy by chatting up our neighbors in line. We had also brought our respective DS’s and proceeded to kill some time by playing some rounds against one another. Our line neighbors even joined in for a few games! And, of course, I kicked everyone’s ass in Meteos. 😉

Here’s a shot of us, looking like ass with so little sleep and waiting outside in the cold for hours:

They finally started handing out tickets at around 9:30 –

After that, they let us suffer for another hour while they SLOWLY let in groups of 2-5.

Unfortunately, being poor, I only got one game (Zelda) in addition to the console. I had been planning on getting at least one extra set of controllers but they’re sold out everywhere in MD!

It’s ok, because playing with it yesterday, it was definitely worth it.

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Nov 15, 2006  •  In Art/Design, Colors, Personal

My Skewed Perception

When I was little I believed that some people were better at drawing because they had better motor skills. In reality, it has more to do with perception and brain functions: the ability to differentiate space, light, and shadows. Steady hands are a plus, but they are not required.

An old art teacher once told me that I had a rare gift of seeing color. She said that I was better at differentiating and mixing color than some of her former colleagues, who were professional color mixers. (Yes, this profession existed before the advent of computers.)

Now although I may not use this gift in every day life (dressing, makeup, etc), I often find myself staring at an interesting color and mixing it in my head. And I’ve given up describing colors as “cool purple with a hint of prussian blue.” Instead, I’ll save myself the blank stares and just say “purple.”

I can also tell when colors look “cheap.” For example, you can look like you shop at designer stores by wearing “rich” colors. Basically, “rich” colors are often mixed with expensive pigments and are more difficult to reproduce, as so many different colors went into mixing them.

Space and depth perception, light and shadows, color. It makes me wonder, do I see things differently from other people? For example, if Rembrandt woke up in his neighbor’s body one day, would he have seen the world differently? More blurred? Less vibrant? Maybe even a little skewed?

I should borrow someone’s eyes and brain one day. Now that’s a morbid thought.

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Oct 11, 2006  •  In Music, Personal

Musical Instruments

I’ve played the piano since I was 5, and the violin since I was 8. There was one year in elementary school when I decided to try the flute but it didn’t come naturally easy to me as the piano and violin did, so I quit.

Since then, I’ve played many different pianos and violins. But I was always sensitive to each instrument. Maybe overly sensitive – meaning I could never play as well on instruments to which I could not connect.

With each new instrument, I would take at least a few minutes to get to “know” each other. I would test the responsiveness, the sound quality, the build quality. And the instruments would test my limits, challenging me to create and be creative. If I couldn’t connect with a particular instrument in those crucial first minutes, I knew nothing special would come out of the relationship.

I’ve always treasured my violin – crafted in the 1890’s by a lesser-known Italian violinmaker, it certainly wasn’t the best quality or the most expensive violin available for sale at the time. It has numerous nicks and scratches, and had been repaired many times over. But I love that it has this history. And I love that the back body was carved from a single piece of wood, when most violins have 2 pieces that comprise the back body. It has a deep, rich sound, and the dealer who sold it to me informed me that many people did not like it because it is louder than your average violin. However, this is perfect for me because I was never as confident in my violin playing as my piano playing and so I need an instrument to counteract my shyness.

The piano we have in my parents’ house, however, is not my favorite. My mother had chosen it for its looks: she liked the deep mahogany wood. It has pretty good sound and responsiveness, but since the piano wasn’t chosen for its performance, I just like it okay. And perhaps I always knew deep down that it wasn’t mine, since my sister regularly played it too.

My favorite piano while growing up was our friend Annie’s. Not only was it carved beautifully, it had a soft yet rich, melodious sound, with just the perfect amount of stickiness in the keys.

Later, when I attended violin camp as a teenager (yes, there is such a thing as violin camp, and yes I went to one), I came across a Bösendorfer piano. Each Bösendorfer is hand-made, where crafters work alongside walls covered in pictures of beautiful, and often nude, women. They look to these women for inspiration while carving and assembling each piano…how sexy is that?!?

Bösendorfers start at tens of thousands of dollars, reaching hundreds of thousands and sometimes even millions, so of course I’m not able to afford one. However, the one I did get to play while at violin camp was wonderful. It was the best piano I ever played.

Do you play a musical instrument? Are you sensitive to each instrument as well?

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Sep 27, 2006  •  In Korean, Personal

My Name

Growing up in Korea, I hated my given name, 효진 (Hyojin). I’m not sure exactly why, but it always felt a bit 촌스러워 (the closest definition I can think of is rustic, unrefined).

In addition, the name itself was unusual. I was named by my grandfather, who combined two Chinese characters, 효도할 효 (孝 – filial piety), and 배풀 진 (陳 – fulfill, exhibit), to form the name…a pretty ambitious name to say the least.

(Interesting tidbit: I didn’t find out until later that the second character is also a popular Chinese surname, Chen.)

I envied the girls with the pretty/cute and more common names like 유리 (Yuri) and 소원 (Sowon). Maybe it’s because they were the prettiest, most popular girls I knew? Perhaps my desire to fit in with the crowd manifested itself in my wanting a prettier, more common name.

My English name, Jenny, was actually given to me by a school secretary. When first registering for school after we moved to the states, the secretary had a hell of a time trying to pronounce my sister and my names. After butchering our verbal identities many times over, she said, “Well, I’ll call you Jenny and I’ll call you Suzy.”

I never really liked Jenny either – it’s way too common. But many people have told me that it suits me. Does this mean that I’m a common, ordinary girl?

Due to the prevalence of the name Jenny and my increasing age (thus the pressure to act like an adult and be more professional), I’ve started to use my Korean name more often in the past few years. Some have commented that it sounds pretty. I always shrugged them off, based on my preconceptions.

But one night battling insomnia, I said my name to myself and listened with a stranger’s ear. And it was pretty! At other points along the way, I found out that my name isn’t as uncommon as I had previously thought, with even two Korean celebrities sharing the name.

All was well until a friend told me that in Chinese, Hyojin is a boy’s name. I confronted my mother about this, and she replied, “Oh, didn’t you know? Everyone thought you were going to be a boy before you were born. And until you started growing hair, everyone thought you were a boy. Hyojin is a boy’s name.”


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