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Dodgeball madness!!

The end of the middle school year is here, and what better way to top things off than through an all-school game of dodgeball! We are split up into “Volcano groups,” and we spent the afternoon of the last full day throwing things at each other. Our volcano – Salak – made it to the finals largely on the strength of Breck’s “savior shot” that freed the whole team from prison right as we were on the verge of being eliminated. We then went on to crush Krakatoa in the finals for the title and to hang on to our championship belt for the year!

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YouTube DirektDodgeball Madness @ JIS

Korean Kuisine

Alea and Breck seated at the cook-em-at-your-own-table Korean barbecue jointSusan and I worked in Korea long, long ago, and I fell in love with the food. I was really lucky to have 2 Korean kids travel with me to the Mathcounts competition, and we chowed when we stopped over in Seoul on the way back.

One of the families wanted to take us out for dinner, and set things up at a local Korean restaurant (according to all reports, the best in Jakarta). Unfortunately, Susan was still feeling the effects of her food poisoning from this weekend’s adventures, and so had to sit this one out. Alea and Breck, however, were true risk-takers and joined me for their first-ever taste of Korean food.

(As an aside, I have a sign Breck made for me when he was about 4 years old with a big red “X” drawn over a red and green squiggle with the caption “This is a no-kimchi zone.” So I’ve known for a while where their taste bud loyalties were!)

Once we showed up, and all the little side dishes were brought out, however, they really were good about trying things. Our particular meal was very light on the seafood, which I think made things easier, and by the time the barbecue was lit up at our table, Alea was in heaven.

We ate and ate and ate (with Breck experiencing some measure of a learning curve on the chopsticks), only to find that the “meat” portion of the meal was to be followed by the “dinner” part – and we were already stuffed! We enjoyed some noodles and rice, and then rolled ourselves on home. I was very pleased with the way the kids tried things they’d never had before, and I foresee some Korean food in our future (at least for Alea and me!).

Mathcounts tourney

Here are some images from the tournament and trip. I was really proud of the kids – well behaved, and they placed 33rd out of the 56 teams there. They were noted as the second-most improved team there – yay!!

Mathcounts National competition

Hints for State Department team coach:

  • Everything at the hotel is expensive! Bring all the supplies you can
  • An outgrowth of the previous hint: see if you can arrange a shopping trip to a local Target or Walmart to stock up on supplies for back home. Try to contact other overseas schools’ reps (DoDDs, Guam, etc)
  • Bring printed-out tests for practice, pencils, sharpeners, and blank (scratch) paper
  • The last breakfast of the tournament is just cereal and croissants – don’t get up if you don’t have to!
  • Bring lots of pins – try to get national flags, PTA support, etc

It’s a small world after all

So I’m off on the Disney World adventure this afternoon. Two of our Mathcounts students were among the 4-highest scoring of all international schools, and (since one was the overall highest scorer) I get to be the official State Department Overseas Schools team coach! The award includes an all-expenses paid trip to Orlando, so we are heading out tonight.

As I was getting all the last-minute paperwork in order, I started thinking about the huge distances involved in this travel. We fly from Jakarta to Seoul, then to Chicago, then to Orlando. At the end of the tournament, we return via JFK (New York) and Seoul. I added up the distances involved in all the different legs, and got a total of 21,954 miles. Since the circumference of the earth at the equator (according to Google) is 24,901 miles, we are traveling 88% of the way around the world.

That made me curious as to what would be on the exact opposite place on the planet, and my curiosity led me to this (unscientific) site. It turns out that we are pretty close to being exactly across the planet from Bogota, Columbia, and that not many other places match up with other land masses. Checking it out, we were almost directly across from the USA when we lived in Mumbai, but because we were in the same hemisphere it shortened things up a bit.

The other side of the world

In any case, it is time to hit the road for more than 36 hours of total travel time – one way! I leave the house at 5:30 pm on Tuesday and figure to get into the Disney World hotel around 7:30 pm Wednesday in Orlando – or 6:30 am Thursday back in Jakarta.

Jet lag city, here we come!!

Eggcellent!

So we had all the traditional Easter goings-on this morning: Easter bunny – check. Hidden goodies – check. Egg cracking contests – check. Invasion of swarming ants – check.

Wait, what? We figured out – a little too late, it seems – that hiding eggs and chocolate in a tropical environment is a great way to invite bugs in for the party. We relocated all the sweets back to the fridge, but still had a lot of post-party cleanup to do.

Oh well – guess we’ll just have to jump in the pool this afternoon. I guess life in the topics has its advantages!

And, as they say in Greece – Χριστός ἀνέστη!

Hollywood in Jakarta

Who needs the Oscars, right? I mean, really – I just read that the winner of the best actor award spoke TWO WORDS in the whole movie. What a load of pretentious, holier-than-thou thespian garbage. (the opinions expressed here are solely those of Dave and have nothing to do with Susan, who will banish him to the couch if anyone even suggests that she feels the same way about the arts)

But whatever. We had a middle school social Friday night, and there was a photobooth set up with a Hollywood theme. Although I was in charge of a sumo wrestling event (you know, with those suits you can wear to get all rotund), I still had a chance to spy in on Breck from time to time. It looked like he was having a good time, and the pictures that were posted on the school’s electronic distribution board seem to bear this out!

You know you went to an international school when…

This is an old post that I found in my “drafts” folder. It dates from way back in 2009, when I first joined Facebook. I wrote it in India, but never posted it. It is cute and still timely, and I figured that it deserves to see the light of day! So here goes:

My students are all into Facebook, and so they convinced me to sign up for it. While I don’t really spend all that much time exploring it (there are plenty of other time-wasters on the internet, thank you very much), it has been kind of fun to run into old acquaintances in the virtual world.

One of the other things a person can do on Facebook is join any number of different groups, and one of the first that I saw was called “You know you went to an international school when…” There follows a list of more than 80 ‘indicators’ of someone with an international school background – some of which I agreed with, and some of which I didn’t.

In any case, here is my personal list of those criteria that best fit my experiences:

You know you went to an international school when:

  • It is hard to answer the question “Where are you from?”
  • Your life story uses the phrase “Then we went to…” five (or six, or seven) times…
  • Your school memories include those days that classes were canceled due to tear gas, riots, demonstrations, or bomb threats.
  • Police guarded your school…carrying machine guns
  • School trips meant going to a different country
  • You could walk into a bar and order a drink without being questioned
  • You got excited when someone sent a video tape of regular TV with commercials.. in ENGLISH!
  • You never had a job until you reached college
  • Class reunions are not at your school – not even on the same continent!
  • You run into someone you know at every airport
  • You don’t think its strange that you haven’t talked to a friend in a couple years, but you know you will always have a unique bond
  • You have a time zone map next to your telephone
  • You know the geography of the rest of the world better than that of your own country
  • You speak in many broken languages when you are drunk
  • You go home for vacation.

Early morning conversation

Waking up is tough, especially when the day starts as follows:

Me: “Why is my coffee cup in the bathroom?”

Susan: “I was using it to brush my teeth.”

I don’t even know where to go from there (and it is only Tuesday).

 

11/11/11 at 11:11:11

It goes to 11My homeroom class was so excited about today’s date that they requested to stay an extra minute after class ended to watch the clock count down to the time noted. We all started cheering and applauding when the time hit 11:11, and eleven seconds later the crowd really went wild. I guess you could say we turned it up to 11, right?

High fives all around, and lots of big smiles on the way out.

I love teaching middle school!

Indonesian Haute Cuisine

Packaged chicken skinGrocery shopping today, I passed the meat counter, and there was fried chicken for sale. I felt like a snack, and took the smallest packet available. When I opened it up, though, I was in for a surprise:

It was a packaged portion of fried skin! I always get mocked at the in-laws’ Thanksgiving dinners, when my brother-in-law and I fight over the turkey skin. Well, apparently we would not be laughed at in Jakarta, where it is available in the local supermarket.

Eat your heart out, Uncle Kevin!

Apple, Apple, Apple, Lemon

Remember that old knock knock joke about apples? While that one ends with “Orange” as the punchline fruit, I mention “Lemon” since I am making reference to the computer rather than the fruit. And really, the only reason I do is because I am on a steep learning curve.

Apple Computer LogoSee, we are just coming into a brand new one-to-one computing environment, but this time the computers are Apples (at least at the upper school). I haven’t used Macintosh machines since I was an undergraduate at Northwestern (this was back when you carried around all your info and documents on floppy disks – no external media or cloud computing for us, thank you very much), so I am feeling a bit behind the times on this campus.

Folder management, look, and organization is really funky on these machines, as is this whole “Finder” thing. And there is no way to automatically “full size” an application window – using those little red, yellow, and green dots don’t really do that – and even when you close an application by clicking on the red button, it is still open until you actually go up to the file menu and shut it down. And all my cool applications that I knew how to work on the PC – they’re not even made for the Mac. But the second-most annoying thing is the lack of a delete key. Oh sure, there is a button that says “delete,” but that button lies. It is really just a plain old “backspace” key.

And the number one frustrating thing? No right click. As any long-time PC user can attest, the lack of a right click function is a killer (and yes, I know you can push down with two fingers, spin around three times, spit on the shadow of a barn owl on the first full moon of any given month and achieve the same result on a Mac, but I choose not to start down that path to the dark side).

So it is a darn good thing that I like to hit the bars. See, the best thing about going out to happy hour with teachers is that you often pick up hugely important bytes (ha ha) of information. Out at a bar called “Satu Lagi” (literally “One More” in Bahasa Indonesian), one of my new colleagues showed me how to set my mouse pad to register a right click. Now I can open links in new tabs, save pictures, and do all (most) of the things that I could on the PC.

And I do have to admit – the battery life is pretty darn good on this thing. It makes it easy to rock out while typing on the side of the pool. With a beer in hand. Sorta like I’m doing now. Ahhh, maybe these Macs aren’t so bad after all…

Words of Wisdom

Cleaning up the classrooms, today’s the day to take down my “Words of Wisdom.” I often make little pithy comments to students during the course of the year, and some of them come out so often that I printed out and laminated them. Here is a look at them – obviously some are specific to the math classroom, but many are pretty darn universal (as far as I’m concerned)!

Only 2-and-a-half days to go now – the school year’s getting short!

Goodbye to and from our students

One of the tough things about teaching is saying “goodbye” at the end of each year. Even if we see the kids after summer, they will no longer be ‘ours’ and we (usually) don’t have another opportunity to interact with them in the classroom.

This process is doubly difficult in our international setting, because we are often also saying “goodbye” for the foreseeable future – not just the summer vacation – due to the transient nature of students and teachers. Our family is no exception to this series of routines, and this year it is our turn to bid farewell to everyone with whom we’ve worked, played, socialized, and interacted over the past 4 years.

Recognizing the need for a sense of closure, our school always has a goodbye assembly at the end of each term (since many families choose either the winter or summer break times to move). One of the cool things that takes place is a student says goodbye to each teacher with a little speech in front of the student body. I really appreciated the thought and effort that went into this talk, put on by my adopted niece (long story), and thought I’d share it here:

In my three years at ASB, Mr. Stutz has been my best friend’s dad, my teacher for a year, my volleyball coach for three years, and always a cause for my laughter. Mr. Stutz is amazing in the way that he’s incredibly funny – funky music, pranking students and all, as well as a great volleyball coach (who just so happens to demand 20 pushups for every missed serve). He’s contributed his time to show me and other students that he cares about us, is encouraging, and knows how to make a good joke to make us laugh…or even a bad joke…but either way the end result is laughter – whether it’s with him or at him it doesn’t really matter. Go Mr. Stutz!

3 Articles: India, Law, and Technology

I don’t usually get way into recommending online articles, but this week three very different pieces grabbed my attention. These have been hashed and discussed in various social media forums, but I found each of them powerful enough that I thought I’d re-point-them-out.

The first addressed something that we’ve definitely seen in our time here in India -the hugely growing power of the Indian middle class. At every single tourist destination that we’ve visited, there have been more Indian tourists than westerners. And while that really should not come as a surprise (after all, locals by rights should make up the majority of tourists everywhere in the world – they’ve got a shorter commute!), it certainly was not the case when we lived in Pakistan years and years ago. Then, anyone with money went to Europe for vacation, and anyone with no money didn’t travel at all.

The second article came to my attention via a Facebook “discussion” that a couple of people were having regarding the arrest of the IMF head on sexual assault charges. One noted that he was absolutely a real sleazeball (I’m paraphrasing here), and the other countered that anyone arrested should be considered innocent until proven guilty. It is interesting to look at how views on the treatment of the accused differs from continent to continent, and how what we might consider “normal” treatment might cause those from a different legal background to recoil in shock.

And the third hits square into the internet culture that seems to have taken over so many facets of our lives. It is a TED talk, an institution of which I was not aware until we started holding them last year at ASB, looking at electronic “gatekeepers,” the present-day effects, and the long-term implications. It is a ten-minute watch, but well worth it as a thought-provoker:

Royal Wedding Silliness

OK, I’ll make one post about this, and that is all!

Got this email from a colleague today. Taking a look at the expressions on everyone’s face, what do you think that stinker Phillip just did? Yeah, that’s what I thought too…

Little stinker...

Orange you glad you’ve seen India?

One of our teachers here organized a photography exhibit, and asked students and staff to submit photos. He forgot to mention that there was any sort of limit, so I daydreamed up a theme centered around the color orange, and played with a bunch of pictures over the weekend. I messed around with a ton, edited 13, and submitted a set of 9 which all went along with the question at the top.

As it turns out, he only wanted us to send in 4, so together we culled things down and substituted one color picture in place of its black and white cousin. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are the 5 that went in.

Woman in Orange (Jodhpur) Temple candles (Dharamsala) Jain boy in temple (Jaisalmer) Chinese fishing nets (Kerala) Tea time! (Bikaner)

In case anyone is wondering, here are the others that were “culled” from the set:

Prowling tiger (Ranthambore) Woman and child (Bikaner) Evening at the Taj (Agra) Ganges morning (Varanasi)

 

Dhobi ghats (Mumbai) Ganesh (Mumbai) Spices (Kerala) Monk and Buddha (Ellora)

Festival of Nations

American FamilyWell, India pulled it off last night, and so Saturday is the big final match between them and Sri Lanka: in Mumbai – whoo hoo! For better or for worse, we will not be around, as our spring break starts Friday, and the Stutz family is off on our fourth (4th!!) trip to Rajasthan.

As is the norm, our last day before break is our school’s celebration of all the nationalities and cultures that make us a community – our Festival of Nations. And, as is the norm, we came decked out in our USA best. Here’s our picture of the day from our family, and we’ll be back blogging after the break. Adios!

 

Holi

Dave's Holi eyes!One of our favorite Indian holidays was today, and we again made the most of it. Check out pictures from all the day’s activities over on the webpage.

While the red has come out of my eyes, the color is still all over my face, so I’m not sure what it will be like teaching the kiddies tomorrow! It’ll probably be quite ok, however, as I’m guessing that many of them will be sporting leftover tint as well!

Quiz Night

The Fab Fours at Quiz NightSo Eddy put together another quiz night, and we threw another great party on the rooftop, and we ate way too much delicious barbecue, and drank way too many beverages, and stayed up way too late at night (or early in the morning), and took way too embarrassing pictures, and had basically way too good a time that we all spent Saturday recovering from.

Unfortunately, the Fab Fours – my team, who had been leading all the way through until the final 2 rounds – were not able to walk off with the winners’ t-shirts this year. We faltered badly in the “name the company whose logo you see” competition – guess we’re just not consumeristic enough.

There are some pictures up on Facebook – and many more which were judiciously left off! – but all in all it was another one for the record books. Maybe I’ll have to steal his supplies and get something going in Jakarta!

Ouch!

I am presently sitting with a 7th grade student who is trying to turn create an extra credit assignment. She wants to change the words of a song to something about math, and is having a tough time deciding on a song to use.

She says that she doesn’t want to use anything that is popular right now, and so turned to me for advice. Her question was, quote, “Do you know any really, really old songs – like from the 80’s or 90’s?”

Where is my Geritol.

Da Bears

Is Ditka driving the bus?

Let's go, Chicago Bears!! Here's a 1280x800 wallpaper...

Christmas morning!

Presents under the tree!Breck decided, based on a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon he read, to let us sleep in “until quarter to six this year.” Actually, he was very responsible, getting up quietly, looking around, and getting into his stocking (Santa neglected to put up a sheet this year; obviously the beer ‘n cookies bribe worked). The rest of us – with the girls both fighting colds – rolled out of bed around 7:30.

We got the tunes going and the lights on, and busted into the goodies. By the time all was said and done, there were some definite trends in the gifts received. Breck had an “all flying” year, with Star Wars legos, 2 model airplanes, a dart set, and a Wii fighter pilot game. Many of Alea’s gifts were construction-based, with jewelry making, rock tumbling, and dollhouse furniture putting together all making an appearance in her pile. Dave had a heavy metal Christmas, with a set of steel plates and bowls for the cabin, a Ganesh bell set, and a pair of silver candle holders. Susan was picturing the perfect year, with a shot of her and Dave at the PTA gala and an Omani trip.

What a great Christmas morning – now I’ve got to go play Wii with Breck!!

Susan and Alea reading the instructionsBreck making LegosSusan and Dave at the gala

2010 school photos

Well here they are – the official portraits of this school year. You can enjoy them all here and pop over to the webpage for a look back at all the kids’ (and parents’) school shots over the years.

Bollywood Bigshots

Bollywoood/Hollywood glam coupleYeah, that’s us, baby. We got all dressed up for the PTA “Hollywood/Bollywood” dinner and dance last night, and Alea took this nice shot of us.

I actually went shopping yesterday and bought a glitzy Indian outfit so that I could look like the movie stars here – but it was really the accessories that made everything work. Throwing on the sunglasses and topping up with the Rajasthani wedding turban really brought out the haughty glamor.

The party itself was a blast – teachers and parents mingling and enjoying the evening with very little shop talk taking place. There were several dance performances, ranging from traditional Indian folk songs to Bollywood movie hits and hip hop mashups. After the open bar had a bit of business, the dance floor was filled up by members of the school community shaking their groove thangs.

And to top off the evening, the powers-that-be decided that I had the best Bollywood outfit, so now Susan and I get a dinner at the ritzy hotel just down the road from the school! Kind of a fun bonus to top off a great night.