headermask image

roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Blood Moon

Yes, we woke up for the Super Moon Eclipse at 4.47 this morning. And yes, we even got Breck out of bed for it. Kind of a cool way to start the week!

Rain, grapes, and fall colors

Susana and I took a rainy afternoon walk around our new neighborhood – the leaves are just starting to change colors as we enter into autumn here…

Rainy grape leaves!

Czersk Castle

Susan read that there was a castle only 20 minutes away from our home in Warsaw, so we took a trip out there. We liked it so much we returned this weekend to catch a Medieval Faire going on!

Welcome to Poland!

So we made it! We are now at the American School of Warsaw, and jumping in with both feet. Our incoming class of new teachers has had quite a bit of fun getting to know each other, and we’ve had full social calendars for the first few weeks. Lots of vodka has been involved.

First day of school 2015

First year of only one kid in the shot. After years of taking pictures with his sister, Breck shines on his own in Poland

Breck's first day of grade 11

Update! It was great of Alea to send us one from Montana too!

Alea's first day of college (Sept 24)

Off to Poland!

Breck takes advantage of airport wifi, while missing his big sister (symbolized by the empty seat next to him). This will be our first new home as a family of only 3, and it already feels weird.

Breck in the airport

Summer 2015

So there was soooo much going on – we traveled to Chicago (in the previous post), we drove out to Montana with Christy and the girls, she and Rob got married, we prepped Alea for college, and we finalized everything for our move to Poland. Couple with that the fact that our truck threw its transmission and we were without a vehicle for the last week, and you’ve got a pretty crazy period of time. Here are a few pictures from all those adventures…

Cookie Cop 2.0

The long-awaited sequel is finally out. See what a weekend at the grandparents’ lake cabin can produce?

Father’s Day visit to Chicago

Susan, Breck, and I ran over to Chicago this past weekend to see Robert and Christy and all the kids. We managed to squeeze in a day at Great America, a visit to the Field Museum, and a Cubs game, so I think we did pretty well!

End of year (and end of an era) party

Our time in Jakarta is drawing to a close, and what better way to celebrate than with a 70’s party?! The drinks flowed, the disco hustled, and – of course – the clothes got swapped.

Alea’s high school graduation!

Alea finishes up her years at JIS with a beautiful evening of pomp!

Last day of school pictures together

Well, today is the day.

After 12 years, Breck and Alea drove with me to school this morning for the last time. Alea graduates on Saturday, leaves on Monday for the US, and enrolls at Montana State University in the fall. Breck, Susan, and I are in Jakarta for another 2 weeks before summer vacation in Minnesota/Montana and then a move to Warsaw. Life as we’ve known it is being shaken up.

As is our tradition, the kids took a picture together before heading off. It is certainly a bittersweet moment, as it is the final one of them together at the end of a school year. In the next post down, I’ve compiled all the pictures from when they started together in Belgrade, oh so many years ago.

Alea and Breck on their last day together in school, Jakarta 2015

Schoolpix through the years

We’ve had a tradition of taking a “first day of school” and “last day of school” picture of the kids through the years, and it has been really fun to watch them grow up. Here are the shots, taken in Serbia, the US, India, and Indonesia over the past 12 years:


Linsea and the Lizard

Linsea caught a lizard in the yard today, so we put it in a bottle for her to “play” with but not injure. She had quite a lot of fun!

Looks like they're best buds!

BAHS reunion in Jakarta

A group of ’87 BAHS graduates got together in Jakarta yesterday to share memories, stories, and plans for the future. We’ve not seen each other in nearly 30 years (!!), and have been talking about doing this for quite some time, so it was wonderful to finally make this happen. It is a great reminder that, wherever we may be in the world, the Crusader spirit lives on!


Susan’s 50th birthday!

Had our Puncak cabin crew over to help break in the new Groovy Gecko bar, say goodbyes for the four of us leaving, and not-really-celebrate Susan’s birthday.

Thanks to Alea for all the help with organization and taking great pictures – we have such great friends and such super kids!


Fourplay party!

Great Fourplay party this afternoon, with super food and drink, slippery floors, and even the muff bag! Our group has had a few members move on over the years, but also gained a few babies, so all is good.


The new Groovy Gecko bar is here!

We’re inaugurating the new Groovy Gecko bar today – it came in time for all the end of year parties, and will travel with us to Poland this summer! We had it custom-built here in Jakarta as a memento of fun times around our outdoor bar: curved face, folding wings, glass top, and even engraved Indonesian geckos. A great gathering place, and Susan’s combination going-away and 50th birthday present!

Alea’s graduation pictures

Alea and I spent yesterday afternoon exploring the JIS campus and taking some pictures. We wanted something that could go in her graduation announcement, and had fun checking out some different places and poses.

Here are some of the pictures that will NOT be in her grad announcement – that one will be a surprise. There are just pictures that I like…

Sunset over Bali

For all you all traveling this May Day weekend, here’s a little light from our last Lombok visit to warm your hearts. This was our first sunset of the week, with mist, haze, and rays cuddling Bali’s Mount Agung as the waves crash on Gili Trawangan. Ahhh….

The mountain, the sun rays, the crashing waves - ahhhh

Jogjakarta school trip

Our school takes a week without walls-type trip every year, and so we headed out to Indonesia’s cultural center with 200 6th graders. We got to visit ancient temples, go white-water rafting, view traditional dances, and just do all sorts of fun stuff to wrap up the school year (and our time in Indonesia).

And here's the whole gang at Borobudur!

Pikes on Parade

Dug up this old photo for one of those Throw Back Thursday things on Facebook. Northwestern, homecoming, must’ve been 1990? I believe this was even printed in the Sun-Times..

Pikes on Parade

2006 Innova V for sale

We are selling our family’s vehicle as we prepare to move from Jakarta. It is an automatic transmission, gas (not diesel), seats 5 comfortably with 2 additional “fold down” type seats in the back area, full AC, power windows/locks, radio/CD/cassette(!) player, and is black. When we bought it, there were 77,000km on it; the mileage after our 4 years is now 92,000km, as we live fairly near school and haven’t used it for much more than going back and forth and shopping.

Asking price is $11,000 $10,000!! Pictures and info below:

Exterior and trunk views

Exterior and trunk views

Interior views, including opometer

Interior views, including opometer

Travesty of Justice

Ferdi and Neil in jailBitter result of our colleagues’ trial this week. Corrupt legal system at the absolute lowest form. No evidence, no plausibility: no matter. She who pays the most wins.

I’ve copied some excerpts from articles that have appeared in the last few days for friends and family around the world who haven’t seen them. A lot of reading, but an important set of reading.

Wall Street Journal Indonesia Realtime Twitter feed (from the day-long verdict reading)

  • 2:07 PM: Three hours so far of judges summing up, and most of it mirrors prosecution arguments.
  • 2:31 PM: judges now going through expert defense witnesses, mostly reject their testimony.
  • 3:12 PM: Chief judge in JIS case launches tirade against media, diplomats. Says letters from supporter of Canadian educator indicate guilt.

Twitter reports from the courtroom

  • While months long trial has been behind closed door and judge imposed gag order, names of victims and parents now being openly read out.
  • Lurid details of child rape testimony now being read publicly after judge previously closed trial to protect victims identity.

The Jakarta Post

The judges dismissed the entire defense statement submitted by the defendants and their legal team, including a medical report issued by a hospital in Singapore in May 2014 stating that there were no signs of sexual assault present in one victim who was examined. The report was certified by the High Court of Singapore in February 2015.

“We disclaim the medical report as well as the Singapore court document because we have no obligation to accept a court ruling issued by another country that is related to a case we examine,” Nuraslam said.


Officials from the country’s Indonesian Children’s Protection Commission had already accused the school’s administrators of fostering an environment that led to the rapes.

During a press conference last year, the head of the commission accused JIS of impropriety by tolerating kissing in public and employing gay teachers. Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh, the commission’s chairman, later added that “homosexuality in such environment could trigger sexual violence against children.”

Sydney Morning Herald (note: this whole article gives a very good overview)

A prosecution witness, “sexologist” Dr Naek L. Tobing gave evidence Bantleman only had sex with his wife once a week, when the “norm” was every day or two to three times a week. As he also did not masturbate he would be seeking sexual outlets, he claimed.

He also did not masturbate according to the well-known Indonesian sexologist.

“There is a question how could he release his sexual desire,” said Chief Judge Nur Aslam Bustaman. “These conditions could create abnormal sexual behaviour.”


The other evidence — the boys’ testimony — includes allegations from one that he was raped multiple times during the school day in an open, heavily populated administration block with glass walls which teachers call “the aquarium”.

Among his allegations are that there was a secret underground dungeon somewhere at the school, and that Mr Bantleman, who was known as “the boss” clicked his fingers during one attack and reached up to pluck a “magic stone” out of the sky to insert in the boy’s rectum to anaesthetise him before the rape.

Other allegations include a female principal videotaping the attack and supplying a light blue drink to drug the boy.

New York Times

They said that Mr. Bantleman and Mr. Tjiong, as well as the elementary school’s American principal, Elsa Donohue, had drugged and raped the children and other students in the school’s administrative offices, and that they had videotaped the assaults. Ms. Donohue has not been detained or charged with any offense, and no videotapes of the alleged assaults were ever found.

(Dave’s note – not one single US citizen, although there were at least 3 originally named as participants or witnesses, was ever arrested. Most here consider that the result of the US Embassy applying some pretty strong behind-the-scenes pressure, which is why many Canadians are outraged at the hands-off attitude their government has taken)

Reuters UK

“We are very concerned about the impact of this proceeding on the rule of law and legal certainty,” said Lin Neumann, managing director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta, before the verdict. “Foreign investors, Americans in particular, have been watching very carefully,” he said.

Indonesia’s judicial system is seen as among the least credible and most corrupt institutions in the country, according to Transparency International.

Global News

Excerpt from a statement by Tracey Bantleman (wife of the Canadian educator):

It is disturbing to think that people cannot look objectively and critically at the facts; our husbands have been sentenced to years in jail based on allegations and opinions that could not be proven with evidence, even after a lengthy trial. My husband and Ferdi are victims of a malicious make-believe story with a multi-million dollar price tag.

U.S. Ambassador’s Statement on the Verdict of the JIS Case

We have been closely following the case of the JIS teachers.  Any case involving allegations of child abuse is sensitive.  Serious questions have arisen in this case regarding the investigative process and lack of credible evidence against the teachers.

In light of this, we are deeply disappointed with this outcome.  We look forward to the next steps in the legal process in which we hope that all the available facts in the case will be considered. We hope that the legal process as guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution will be implemented in a fair and impartial manner.

The broad international community is following this case closely.  The outcome of the legal process and what it reveals about the rule of law in Indonesia will have a significant impact on Indonesia’s reputation abroad.

This link is to an overview of the whole series of events written by Chris Crutcher, an author who visited JIS 2 weeks ago (penned before the verdict, however).

Last Diving off Gili Trawangan

Our final spring break in Indonesia, and we went to one of our favorite places for a week of diving and relaxation.