Retired Life

Finally, I have retired and returned to jobless life. In Korea, I have heard many people have worked so hard just for the companies only for whole life ever since they had been graduated from college and feel suddenly as if they have nothing to do, which makes them getting older faster.  However, I have had too many things to do after the retirement.

Now, since I will have plenty of time, I can play golf as many as I like, can restart my ham radio life, traveled a lot for business up to now but I can travel to places I like to go when I want to go,  can work with computer as much as I want and  can play with grandchildren as Charlie presented two grandchildren at a same time etc. etc..

The Castlewood Country Club, where I have joined few years earlier to prepare the retirement, has almost 100 Korean members out of total 800 members and almost all of my golf friends are members of the club. Therefore, I can play with any of my golf friends without concern about green fees, have played 3-4 times a week usually and played 4-5 straight days many times.

Before I joined Samsung, I was a member of the Palo Alto Hills Country Club and complained about old people (They seemed old people to me at that time but they were at my current ages mostly.) playing on weekend days making the course congested, while they could play on weekdays as they don¡¯t have jobs. However, what I have found now is I have to play on weekend days too because my partner players are mostly still working.

I got American ham radio license as soon as I moved to the united States and had ham radio station in our Cupertino house with the call sign of KB6IR until I joined Samsung and went to Korea, with which I talked to Korean and Japanese hams over the radio mostly quite often. Since I will have plenty of time, I erected high antenna tower in our Fremont house and was requested to remove it by Home Owners Association as it will lower the house price around the area. I found any house built in last 20 years or so have been built with hundreds of houses by developer and there are always Home Owners Associations.

I wanted to have a ham radio station any way. I tried mobile operation with ham radio equipment installed in my car but there was quite a limit as the antenna was too simple and small. I drove to highway 1 along the Pacific Coast but it was almost impossible to communicate with Korea or Japan .

I could easily communicate with local stations from the car but my English was good enough for the business at office but not good enough to joke with American local hams.

As there are not many HM call ham stations indicating Korea and my HM1AJ call sign in Korea has been very attractive to all DX (long distance) stations. However, there are so many W6 or K6 stations in California and not many people were interested to call KE6AJ, my California call sign. At least in ham world, I have realized that Korea is far more valuable than the United States , as it is classified as one of the most rare countries.

Now, I had to find out the way to install high antenna tower somewhere. I finally made a decision to buy a house where I could install high antenna tower. It might sound crazy to buy a house just for the hobby but there are many people who buy airplanes or boats for their hobbies, and 20% down payment of a small house is not any more expensive than these airplanes or luxury boats.

I looked around for a small old house without Home Owners Association for about a month and bought one nearby, only 1 mile away from my house. It was 30 years old small house and I installed my ham radio station KE6AJ.

I installed about 40 feet high antenna tower getting the license from the city to install it and installed high performance antenna on top of it. I transmitted maximum legally allowed power of 1KW and could communicate with not only Korea or Japan but also all over the world easily now, including Korean hams in Indonesia , Germany and many Korean hams in Los Angeles . I have made many scheduled contacts with them regularly.

I enjoyed the ham radio for about a year there. However, I was tired talking with same guys always as there were not many hams in Korea who have good enough ham gears to contact with California . I also found not many hams over the world are interested to talk with California hams as there are too many hams in California . Besides, 5 minutes driving back and forth to go there every day was not convenient either. Ham radio stations are supposed to be installed in the house living and turn on the radio any moment I find the time I want to communicate and the radio propagation condition is good, which is constantly changing.

In addition, the international telephone call was hard to call and very expensive, which made free ham radio communication a lot more attractive. Now, by the development of cellular phone, we can communicate with anyone in any part of the world easily and clearly at cheaper price. Not only cellular phone, internet communication these days also made international communication much easier in free. Therefore, the ham radio became now less and less attractive to many hams.

Therefore, I closed down the ham radio station in a year and practically scrapped all equipments I have invested and installed. Though I scrapped them, I still could make some money by ham radio as the house price went up so much in this area meantime. I believe this had been my first and only time I could make money because of ham radio.

As I am retired, the luxury traveling is all over and I had to travel with my own pocket. However, I love to drive around and made quite a trips after the retirement. The major trips I have made since the retirement in 1998 were :

1/31 - 2/4, 2000              Hawaii Golf Trip

6/7 – 6/19, 2000              Western USA Driving Trip with nieces from Korea .

1/20 - 1/26, 2001           Hawaii Golf Trip with Seong-Koo and Shim couples.

2/23 – 3/2.2001               Accapulco, Mexico Golf Trip with Castlewood Country Club


4/13 – 5/1, 2001             Korea Trip

8/5 - 8/11, 2002              Banff , Canada (Sightseeing and Golf)

10/27 - 10/31, 2002       Southern California Golf Trip.

8/12 - 8/21, 2003             Alaska sightseeing and Whistler, Canada Golf Trip.

10/16 - 10/29, 2003       Florida Golf Trip.

1/26 - 2/2, 2004              Cancun , Mexico Golf Trip.

6/25 - 6/29, 2004            Victoria Island , Canada Golf Trip.

Meantime, I spent quite a time with computer. I scanned about 5,000 photos I had and stored in my computer hard disk classified by each year in different folders for each year so that I can easily find any picture I want to find. I had more than 10 hours of 8mm movie I took since I was married. I converted all this movies into videos and stored in hard disk with all video tapes I took after the video camcorder was available in the market. I made DVDs of these movies and videos and gave one set each to all 3 sons so that they will have all records of their own since they were born.

On the other hand, I opened this www.thechofamily.com web site in May 2000. At first, Johnny initiated this web site and updated it. However, as he has been too busy usually, I have taken over and updated every time something has happened to our family, KMI friends and ham friends with a lot of pictures. I also stored a lot of past stories of family, KMI and ham radio so that any one can look at them whenever they want. This web site is now very popular to all family members, KMI friends and ham friends all over the world including United States and Korea , enabling Korean family or friends can see what has happened in U.S. instantly in same day with a lot of pictures.

In addition, one of my nephew attended Engineering College, Seoul National University together, started a web site café ¡°Choand2¡± in 2004 and it has been a quite a pleasure chatting with Cho family members in Korea over the internet every day.

Rather than nothing to do after the retirement, I became busier after retirement this way. I feel like a day or a week, even a year passes very fast. I don¡¯t know why? But I feel like a month is a lot slower somehow.

Recalling my life for 70 years (practically 60 years as I can not remember anything for the first 10 years of life), I wrote a book of ¡°70 Years of My Life¡± in Korean. I believe I have lived my 70 years with the philosophy of ¡°ENJOY TODAY¡± faithfully which was established when I was a sophomore in college. If I can have a moment to think about myself right before I die and can conclude ¡°I have lived my life enjoying every day under the given circumstances without hurting any one¡±, that would be all I want to be and I would like to live exactly same life if I would reborn again.

As a conclusion of the story, I believe I was really a lucky guy. I think I was born in the best generation in human history first of all as my parent generation didn¡¯t have all these conveniences as we have today and there might br too much technological development and too much computerized and controlled life in our next generation.

I couldn¡¯t do much in Gold Star other than to standardize drawings but learned very valuable lesson of ¡°What not to do¡±in free (rather paid). However, I have been successful wherever I have worked thereafter. I would say it was a great luck to get in to Fairchild Semikor first of all, met Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Clevenger and could learn American management so well from them early enough in my life.

I was also so lucky to come to this Silicon Valley where the real estate has appreciated so fast. I have never tried hard to make lot of money, rather spent money better to ¡°enjoy today¡± every day but could accumulate this much retirement fund without any special effort just because of real estate appreciation.

Not only these, I am not specially careful for my health violating a lot of what to do for the health but I am still healthy enough to play golf for many days in the row without any major physical problem yet, which must be another luck of my body.

There were few unlucky events too, of course, to this very lucky guy. I built a nice hill top house and lost all my cash reserve just one time as the real estate mortgage interest sky rocketed unexpectedly and my golf ball went in to sand traps so many times some days. However, how could you complain this kind of just few unlucky events too?

Therefore, I live today too to


as much as I can.