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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

category archive listing Category Archives: Dave

School trip to the Riau Islands

I got to accompany a group of 8th graders on a week-long trip to explore local communities in Indonesia. We flew up to a series of islands just south of Singapore and spent 5 days learning about the local ways of life, mostly centered around fishing. We hiked, swam, boated, and interacted with kids at a school. All in all, a pretty good way to spend a week in May!

Komodo dragons and such

In addition to all the cool diving that we did, we also had the chance to see some pretty extraordinary sights over spring break. This album is all from our “above water” camera, to complement the diving shots posted the other day…

Manta Rays in action

We took a few snippets of video of our dive to Manta Point. Here’s a 2 minute look at what we saw (with bonus narration!). Susan, Alea, and Breck are all in here (if only fleetingly).


Flores – Spring Break diving

We headed to the Indonesian island of Flores for a week in the sun. One of our “must do in Indonesia” items was to see Komodo dragons in the wild, so that was the impetus for this trip. The first pictures, however, will be from our diving adventures. We left from Labuan Bajo and went under the sea on 3 days (only 2 with a working camera!), and saw some wondrous stuff.

Volleyball Champs!

2 volleyball tournaments this weekend – 1 championship and 1 3rd place. Great job to all the JIS MS girls’ teams members!!

2014 JIS MS Girls Volleyball - Champs!

Just a typical day at school…

Cool class happening today: gave an assignment that kids had to present to their parents. One of them and his mom got on Skype to show it and get feedback from dad – who’s stationed in Afghanistan. Kind of a neat little thing…

Mathcounts in Singapore

Mathcounts in Singapore got off to a bit of a rough start, as one of our students was turned away at the airport due to visa issues, then we had a flight cancellation, and finally a broken bus, the team finally made it and was raring to go. Late night studying and quick trips to Subway were all the rage for our kids.

Here’s the team in all their glory after today’s competition. Mathcounts can get rough…

Mathletes at their finest

Vietnam trip first peek

We’re back from a superb 3 weeks in Vietnam, and wanted to get a few shots posted. We have a JIS photo contest for vacation shots, and I was looking through pictures for it; these are some of the ones that didn’t make the final cut, but are still pretty cool. There are specific categories for entries, and so there are no “family shots” in this bunch, but these give a flavor of our travels. Enjoy!


Forget about Christmas – just logged in from seaside Vietnam to find that I’m our fantasy football league champion, baby! #lifepriorities

'Cause everybody fears a Groovy Gecko

Holiday Greetings for 2013!

Happy New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Horse!

We hope this finds family and friends around the world enjoying peace, health, and joy as we embark on a new year.


The family in Ha Long bay, VietnamOur family continues to live, work, and thrive in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is our third year at Jakarta International School. Dave happily remains with MS math, Susan welcomed a move to Kindergarten, and Alea and Breck work hard in 11th and 9th grades respectively. Alea and Breck both play in the band and enjoy the rock-climbing club.

Alea squeezes Model United Nations and pilates into her busy IB/AP schedule. She also joined Tri-M music honors society and JIS orchestra, a service group helping local children explore instruments and music. Breck joined the magic club and has also become quite the stage lighting and ‘green screen’ expert. He has been asked to support the theater and tech departments at both the elementary and high school. He will work at upcoming shows of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Wizard of Oz.

Alea checks out the coral growth..

Our family loves living life overseas as global nomads. We travel every chance we get and appreciate the diversity SE Asia offers. We launched 2013 in Cambodia and Laos, dove the walls off Bunaken, Sulawesi in April, and returned to Amed, Bali for more diving in October. We left on Dec 21 for three weeks of travel through Vietnam. We agree that kayaking in Ha Long Bay, clamoring through mud caves in Phong Nha, rock-climbing on an island in Long Ha Bay, biking through rice paddies near Hoi An, and eating our way through Ha Noi street food were absolute highlights!

Breck and Alea, given a taste in their social studies classes, were especially intrigued with the (recent) history of this amazing country. We toured Vinh Moc tunnels near the 17th parallel and saw bomb craters (currently used as fish farms) all over Quang Nam province. We believe one of the benefits of living overseas is the multiple perspectives we gain and develop about any historical event or situation.

Up at the cabin...Of course, summers in the USA always reminds us how blessed we are to have family. We always enjoy our time in MT, but this summer was especially rewarding because we welcomed Alvin Fletcher to the Strachan-Stutz clan. While we are biased, we do believe he bears a remarkably handsome resemblance to Breck. As always, we thank and celebrate the Helena Stutzes who take incredible care of us when we show up. A highlight of this summer was time spent with Blanche and the nieces and nephews at Hauser and Clancy Recreational areas. Hard to believe, but the kids have never been to Yellowstone; we think this summer is the year…

Minnesota is always good to us, but we must admit that Door County, Wisconsin is pretty amazing. We spent a fabulous week there with the south-side Wagners fishing, cherry picking, and shopping. Best of all – we got all the smoked salmon we brought back through customs in Indonesia. Yum!!! Valleyfair with the Regan’s topped the kids’ ‘thriller’ hit-list and deck-time racing crawdads with the cousins at Grandpa and Grandma’s cabin on Lake Vermilion filled the ‘You’ll never guess what WE did’ quotient. Things as simple as shopping downtown, going to a garage sale, or attending a lake-side concert after berry picking take on a whole new meaning when enjoyed with family!


The Minnesota clanWe plan at least one more year in Indonesia. Alea will graduate next year from JIS; it is exciting to think about the future. We have spent time in the USA these past few summers looking at colleges and universities for the kids and retirement homes for the parents. Time will tell!


We wish everyone all the joy and love of this season. We are fortunate and we know it. We hope you feel the same!

White Elephant excellence

White Elephant party last night – I am now the proud owner of a set of bath salts and body lotions.

Recycle responsibly

Clean Up Jakarta

We headed downtown this morning for a session on Clean Up Jakarta day. A great bunch of teachers, administrators, parents, and kids took the time to positively impact our adopted home. We got good and sweaty doing some good for the city!

(And what a fantastic garbage truck driver we had - she was very helpful!)

Bali Break (part 1)

We headed off to a week in the sun on Bali’s east coast. Diving (scuba), driving (scooters), and dining (seafood) were the only things on our agenda. Our hotel was fabulous, and we went under the sea a few times as well. Here are a few shots from around our resort, as well as some of the undersea life we saw on our first day of diving. More to come!!

Jakarta Faces

A group of us went downtown this weekend to visit the old Batavia boat docks in Jakarta. Led by a group of guys who have been there a number of times, we had the opportunity to visit and take pictures of places that few Westerners get to visit. I took too many photos to post at once, so here’s an album of some of the faces we saw along the way. Most of them are dock workers, more than happy to take a break for the cameras…

the Salmon Slayer!

Here’s a little of what I did on my summer vacation: 20+ pound salmon caught on Lake Michigan! Now for 20+ hours of flight time back to Jakarta…

Them's good eating!


JIS Farewell Dragon

I think one of the most underrated benefits of being a teacher is the summer. Not because of the time off, although that certainly is fantastic. The truth of the matter is, however, that most teachers actually do work during summers. Maybe they aren’t in paid positions, but they take graduate courses, design curriculum, and plan lessons for the upcoming year.

(In my job as an international teacher, there is the added summer responsibility every 3 or 4 years of packing everything, shipping all belongings to another continent/country, arranging visas and work permits, finding a home, acclimating to a different culture, figuring out a new school climate, and getting ready for a set of kids who have no inclination of what I or my classes are like.)

No, the really redeeming feature of summer is the fact that it provides closure to a chapter. At the end of the school year, the school year is over.  Sounds intuitively obvious, but there you go.

That’s it.



When you start over again in the fall, you are truly starting over. You have a new group of kids, a whole year full of possibilities and opportunities, with nothing left over from the past. Your previous students are not yours any more; they have moved on and are someone else’s projects. Oh you’ll see them, and say “hi” to them, and hug them, but they are no longer “yours.” And yes, that’s kinda sad, but it also puts a clean break into our working lives, something that we are truly blessed to enjoy.

How many other careers can point to having a constant, expected, planned “end to all projects?” I truly can’t think of any. Maybe something like a pilot, where you land a flight, and then it is over, but not really – because you have the very same thing to look forward to the next day, and the next, off until retirement. If you work in a factory, or an office, or retail, or a bank, then things just keep going, day in and day out, whether you show up for work or not. There is no “end,” just a continuation of everything, on and on and on.

No wonder cartoons, movies, and tv shows about office workers always emphasize how dreary their lives are. There is never an end point to shoot for, no goal to attain, no finish line to cross other than retirement. The high point seems to be deciding whether to hit Applebee’s or TGI Fridays for the cheddar-potato-skins-and-strawberry-margarita special next week.

As a teacher, though, you know that school starts in August and is over in June. You’ve got 10 months. And then, BLAM, the door shuts. Turn out the lights, this party’s over.

There’s a set deadline, after which everything is finished. Everything – all the classes, all the sports, all the clubs, all the socials – is wrapped up and put away for good. Fall comes, and things start again, but they are all new things. You might carry some lessons forward from “last time,” but now you’re working with a whole new group, and you once again begin the process of helping shape young learners. It is a brand new project.

I like the closure. I like being able to say, “Today is our last Friday.” I like knowing that all accounts will be closed next Wednesday, and the grand project of school year 2012-13 will be tucked away. I like knowing that after I back up my files, recycle the final papers, clean up the debris from the last days’ craziness, and lock the door, everything is done for good. And yes, I’ll say goodbye to colleagues and students who I will never see again. But that also is part of the cycle. I’ve known this day is coming, and they’ve known this day is coming, and we’re ready for it. We’ll make a clean break, move on, end this chapter in our professional lives on a high note, and close the book on the year.

And I’ll be totally ready to start anew in August…

Pi Day 2013

Pi Day t-shirts!

Pi Day teachers @ JIS (this is why St. Patrick’s always gets lost in the shuffle). Memorization contest at lunch – top finishers were 161, 252, and 468 digits of pi – by 6th and 7th graders!! Pretty crazy…


Not the real softball I’m coaching, but the fun softball we’re playing. Teachers face off against the girls’ varsity team on Tuesday nights, and it is a real hoot. Sometimes they win, sometimes we win, but it is always a lot of fun. Here’s a fun team picture at the end of one of our evenings!

Yes, we scored 11 runs in one inning...

Monsoon Planning

Phew – thank goodness Alea and I got our emergency supply shopping done this afternoon, in case we have another flood day tomorrow. Black olives, coffee, baguette, Pringles (regular and seaweed flavor), plenty of meat to grill, and 5 cases of Anker. Bring on the monsoon, baby!!!

Flood water preparation, baby!

Christmas 2012

Our holiday season was festive and bright! We got the tree up and lights lit in November – the latest we’ve waited in a long time! The White Elephant was a huge success, and we had loads of fun getting everyone set for the holiday. Presents were opened on the 16th, and we are off in the morning for a 3-week adventure through Cambodia and Laos. Happy holidays to all!!



Team ‘Murica!

UN Day is always a fun opportunity to dress up (or down, depending on your taste for patriotic clothing). The best part about things is the PTA-hosted food bazaar, which is a hugely delicious smorgasbord from all over the world, with all the moms trying to outdo one another.

Here is a group shot of our USA contingent – and when you notice it, I just want to say I am NOT the one responsible for the Photoshop Fail in this picture!!

Nothing like a little North American excess!

Diving on Gili T

We pulled out the trusty underwater camera and headed to the sun and surf paradise of Lombok for October break. This collection of photos are from our below-water adventures…

Fun pictures from long ago

I pulled out the old scrapbooks this summer, and brought some pictures to Jakarta to scan. It is highly entertaining to look through blasts from the past, especially since most of what we keep are “fun” images that remind us of good times.

I posted the first set of shots from my high school years – at Bonn American High School (BAHS) in Bonn, West Germany – to Facebook, and will also put them here. I know some people have asked about higher-resolution images than those on FB; you can get those here as well for selected pictures.


Scenes from a Japanese airport

with apologies to Billy Joel for the blatant title ripoff. Heading back to the US of A, and I have a longish layover in Japan. So in between naps and snacks, I snapped a few pictures of things around the airport that caught my eye: