Saturday, July 31, 2010
This weekend has gone by pretty quickly! On Friday, I got to hang out with other ex-pat staff members and it was really interesting to gain their perspective on living in Jakarta and teaching at Mentari. They've had really positive experiences and while I realize the sample wasn't representative, it was definitely encouraging that my positive interaction with the school thus far might not be an anomaly or "honeymoon period." Saturday, I was able to do a good amount of reading (I'm really enjoying the current book: "Nudge" by Thaler and Sunstein), went for a distance run, and had coffee and conversation with Ab prior to seeing Inception with him. Part of our conversation had to deal with September break, and we're looking to start to finalize plans to go to southern Vietnam and Angkor Wat. It's really surreal that this vacation may happen, I mean there's a National Geographic special on Angkor Wat and we may be able to go there! Today I've been able to run a number of errands and I'm about to go out to purchase some futsal boots so that I'll have more traction on the turf surface! Additionally, I started the "Forgiveness" sermon series with Church of the Resurrection online. My landlady has invited me to her church service, but I'm really enjoying the quality of the messages provided by Adam Hamilton, so it may be some time before I venture out with Ibu Thelma to try her service (which also has some components in Bhasa, so motivation to study up!)
Thursday, July 29, 2010
KU Football: KU made the best hire over the off-season in naming Turner Gill as their head coach. While he doesn't have the NFL pedigree of Lane Kiffen, he's also not crazy or conceited :). Seriously though, Turner Gill created expectations for success at Buffalo. Buffalo? The team that went 10 - 79 as a D-1 A team prior to Gill's arrival on campus, yet in his third year were at a bowl game?? Not only are his results on the field impressive, but also his mindset for how to go about coaching 17-22 yr old males. Throughout the Big 12 Media Day, Gill discussed the importance of educating the entirety of the college athlete and for teams to be successful they must be able to relate on a much deeper level than Xs and Os. The first days of KU football practice involved sharing responses to questionnaires that dealt with athletes personal lives. Gill is embracing his role as an educator, and all educators must teach relationship building and other ways to negotiate interpersonal interactions. What happens out of the classroom or off the football field matters, just ask UNC, USC, UConn and others, demanding proactive instruction. Kansas was blessed to get Turner Gill and I hope, for all the good guys out there, that his team succeeds on the field as well! (Judgement Day: week 2 against Georgia Tech. How will Kansas fair after Mangino and Reesing?)
Pitt Football: Pitt has the opportunity for a break-out season to showcase the program that Dave Wannstedt has built or have another pedestrian year in the Big East. The opportunity for national recognition arises from one of the most difficult non-conference schedule's in all of college football (at Utah, home against Miami, and at Notre Dame - who under Brian Kelly should be markedly better; Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati, the common denominator there is winning, and A LOT of winning) Additionally, their Big East schedule is about as difficult as they come since they have to play the Backyard brawl at West Virginia and they also have tough road games at UConn (and Rich Rod had better watch out, the campaign to fire him will begin week 1 when UConn goes to the Big House and surprises the nation - the team is returning 16 starters), South Florida (I'm interested to see how the Bulls do under Skip Holtz. I wouldn't sleep on South Florida because they are probably the most talented team thank to Florida recruiting and QB B.J. Daniels was able to get a lot of experience and leadership growth while Groethe was out), and Cincinnati (and when Pike was out, Collaros filled in really nicely). Pittsburgh has a lot of talent, a growing sense of swagger and a very capable coach. Tino Sunseri's ability to prove the on-the-field leadership is essential, but after years of not living up to expectations with Bill Stull, there is potential for an upgrade in the QB position. Additionally, now that Dion Lewis has the target on his back, how will he fair in his sophomore season? Either way, as a product of Big East country, I hope this is the year Pitt pulls it all together and provides the justification of Wannstedt going about things in the right way; returning to his alma mater and building a program on a reliance on hard work and discipline rather than flashy recruits. (Judgement Day: week 1 at Utah. If they get the ball rolling in the right direction, the sky's the limit!)
Overall, I'm really looking forward to the college football season and seeing how a lot of these stories play out!
Today was also pay day. Since I don't have my kitas yet (will come with my work visa), I cannot open an Indonesian bank account, and thus I was paid in cash. I felt like a drug dealer leaving school today with an envelope full of cash, so I splurged and took the $2.10 cab ride home (instead of spending $0.40 to take public buses) Also, when I got home, I really had to resist the urge to "make it rain" lol.
After school, I finished "The Space Between Us," and even though this book focuses more on women's issues, I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it because it is really well written and properly impresses upon us to examine the paradoxes and dissonances in our lives. My only reservation is that, at times, the book can be rather graphic to the point it is hard to read and hard to believe.
Finally, two of my eighth grade classes started their "Scaling Sekolah" project today. They are to use only tools available to them on their person or in the math classroom to create an accurate, scaled drawing of part of the school grounds. Students have chosen a variety of places to create scaled drawings, but my favorite was the parking lot. More specifically, Hanif's group was frustrated by their lack of a large measuring stick or tool that could easily help them find the dimensions of the parking lot. However, Hanif was very concerned about obtaining accurate measurements and was unsure whether or not his shoes would consistently match up with one another, so he took his shoes off, measured his bare feet, and walked the dimensions of the parking lot in his bare feet. I pretty much lost it. :)
"If he were to mail a letter without postage, it would still get there. His personality is so magnetic, he can't carry credit cards. Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact. He is the most interesting man in the world."
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Team 1 was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. They were convinced that by creating a series of triangular prisms that built on top of one another, the structure would achieve both the necessary strength to support the Tim Tams and the height to win the competition. Even though their tower turned into more of a Leaning Tower of Pisa, last minute adjustments put them in the best position to win (until Calisha destroyed one of the Tim Tams by accident...lol)
Team 2:Team 2 went with the fatalist approach. They assumed all other teams would fail, and so built an extremely sturdy structure, but it was only 9 cm off the table...
Team 3, like Team 1, were looking at ways to incorporate triangles in their structure. Initially they were looking to have the spaghetti intertwine and have the Tim Tams rest on top, but ultimately they were unable to balance the structure and at the end of the 18 minutes their Tim Tams were...0 cm off the table...epic fail!
Team 4 demonstrated the best teamwork of the four. They went for the skyscraper approach, but with about 5 minutes left, when they first placed the Tim Tams on top, they too encountered the balancing issues. By quickly creating a system of braces and separating the Tim Tams on the top of their structure to even out the weight distribution, they created the most elegant structure of the 4 teams, and unlike Team 1, did not destroy any Tim Tams :)!
Team 1: 39.5 cm (but disqualified due to a destroyed Tim Tam)
Team 2: 9 cm
Team 3: 0 cm
Team 4: 25.5 cm
Perhaps the fatalist approach was not the best... :)
This was a pretty awesome team building exercise and I'm looking to do one of these each Tuesday. So far I have: Tim Tam Tower, Human Knot (oldie but a goodie), Human Scavenger Hunt (will need to consult with colleagues to make an Indonesian-style game board), Will It Float? (who can come up with the most out-landish things that actually can float), Perfect Squares Puzzles Pieces (each team member is given a envelope and inside are puzzles pieces that on the whole make a perfect square for each member, but the pieces are split up. catch: no talking allowed), and other spaghetti structures. Please feel free to share more!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
College Football Discussion: Today was the first day of the Big 12 media days, and I know expansion talk is old news, but I don't understand why Big 12 commissioner, Dan Beebe, has received so much praise. All he did was promise the major would-be defectors (notably Texas, but also Texas A&M and Oklahoma) a bigger piece of the pie (essentially Colorado and Nebraska's pieces) for helping the conference remain in tact. Yes, the conference did not die, but increasing disparity isn't something that should be praised. A better move would've been to commence courting TCU, Air Force, BYU, and/or Boise State (essentially the cream of the MWC - yes I'm included Boise State in that because even though they'll be joining the MWC in 2011, Utah defecting to the Pac-10, makes them relevant to change gears again, especially since rivalries won't have been established yet) to keep them at 12 teams because the conference championship game earns the community it's hosted in close to $20 million (according to a 2007 article when San Antonio was vying for the event). I included four schools there because there might be issues regarding religious affiliation, but in terms of academics, the Big 12 doesn't nearly have the standards of the Big Ten or the Pac Ten (let's be honest, Nebraska is most going to profit from the billions in research sharing that occurs within the Big Ten). I bring all of this up because Nebraska was one of the four teams "on the clock" today and Bo Pelini had to field many questions regarding their move to the Big Ten. Additionally, I find it interesting that Pelini is convinces his defense will be better this year even without Ndamukong Suh.
Day 2 of the ACC media days seems to go as planned: blasting agents (poor UNC), high expectations for Virginia Tech (Beamer ball has been consistently good, but they've still not produced a national championship), Georgia Tech needing a better passing game (but playing against the option is just never fun), and UVA not really having any expectations (no shocker there). I really respect how the ACC gave Day 1 to the players because this signals a conference that gets it. Ultimately, college athletics is just a part of a college experience and that the development of young men is so much more than winning or losing football games. My hats off to you ACC.
"He is the life of parties he has never attended. If he were to punch you in the face, you'd have to fight the urge to thank him. Sharks have a week dedicated to him. He is the most interesting man in the world."
Monday, July 26, 2010
The start of week two was good, but Mondays and Thursdays are going to be interesting days. I teach 6 periods on both of those days and have another 40 minutes or so of responsibilities. While I've enjoyed the teaching, my TFA mentality about things has been very new to the kids (they aren't accustomed to doing this much work during a class period :-p) and the teachers (who aren't sure why I come so early and leave relatively late) Either way, it's how I know how to do it, and it hasn't been burdensome at all. Additionally, my kids names have been awesome to use as substitutes for my NYC one's who are in my law school personal statements :) (good old Daffa and Arsyan - pronounced Ar-shan, very unlike Dusty and Buddy. Because Dusty was a Catholic...but Buddy was not. And Buddy was always trying to get Dusty to eat meat on Fridays...)
Sunday, July 25, 2010
During futsal today, I was asked if I was an American football fan, and responded that I'm a huge fan of college football. In fact, one of the reasons I stayed late at school on Friday was to read up on the SEC media days this past week, but a few days ago, ESPN reported Notre Dame and the University of Miami will renew their rivalry in the 2012 season (story here: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=5402857) I am really excited that "the U" is willing to schedule more difficult non-conference games and this is something that should become more pervasive throughout college football. Who wouldn't want to see Ohio State play Cincinnati each year? Or Penn State and Pittsburgh? Or Miami and Florida?? Or Nebraska and FSU (or any litany of other big programs they've consistently faced in bowl games)? The list goes on, but unfortunately, the current BCS system creates risk aversion for scheduling non-conference games against big opponents. Notre Dame is blessed because their contract with the BCS allows them to remain independent and have complete control over their schedule (and hence play USC and Michigan each year). We need to change the system to encourage more high profile, non-conference games (or move to a play-off system in which these games would occur, just at the end of the season) instead of beating up on cupcakes.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Last night, Mike and I (Ab did not go because it was "too late"...jeez it's Pirro syndrome all over again! Just kidding Joe, you know I love you and completely understood your 8:30 bedtime) went to go see Inception. Not only was the movie really good (Christopher Nolan was able to couple an amazing story with incredible action and special effects in such a fluid and entrancing manner), but it was also ridiculously affordable (15k rupiah, or about $1.50). It's the best $1.50 I've spent thus far, and since movies are this cheap, I might even reach a Pirro-level of viewing! (it seems this post has been all about you, Joe!) I hope everyone is doing well! I miss you all!
"Watch for children" That seems like a pretty fair trade. (My deference to Demetri)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I've been reading Dr. Green's blog (a friend of the family from back in the Bing! who worked as an admin for over 30 years and has created a blog to share his knowledge) and really liked his breakdown of the New York Times article discussing the Teachers' Union Last Stand: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/magazine/23Race-t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=Steven%20Brill&st=cse
I agree that Obama's most lasting legacy may be the paradigm shift from entrenched unions to a more dynamic, results-oriented educational community. As an alumnus of TFA, I can't help but smile because educational reform has transitioned from a leftist ideal to a reality in which Tennessee (clearly the most liberal state in the union) earned the highest marks for phase one of Race to the Top.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
My second day went well and, fortunately, the materials I prepared for the eighth graders took the perfect amount of time. Tomorrow will be my first day in the content with ninth grade, so I'll have to wait and see how that pacing goes. Moving to a higher level, private school had me concerned for the amount and speed at which the students would complete work, but today affirmed that no matter the level, constructivism takes time. On that note, I was also informed my first training in the IB curriculum will take place a month from now. It will be good to have an in depth look at the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and start to visualize the long-term plan of IB in a middle school context.
Needless to say, the first day of school with students was quite unlike other first days. I saw 4 of my 5 classes today (I see each class 3 days a week), and I am excited for a year when I'll be able to concentrate on delivery of material and other instructional related issues rather than managing. This is due to a lot of factors; private school kids, small class size, Asian culture (not in a disrespectful way, but just that education is given a higher priority), room set up, etc. Overall, the thing that struck me the most was how small of the kids were. I vividly remember my first day at 88, and Nick came up to my shoulder on the first day of school and by the last day of school was up to my nose. In contrast, many of my ninth graders are about the size, or smaller, than most of my sixth graders last year. I suspect that my ninth graders are younger than American ninth graders, but only by a year or so.
The only other really pressing matter is to go see Inception. Joe has told me it's a must-see and the previews have created a March of my curiosity (kind of like the November of my soul, but March goes in like a lion and out like a lamb, you know, nevermind, Melville never explained the other one...), so Mike, Ab and I are looking to go Thursday or Friday.
"Greatest thing since sliced bread." So this is it, huh? I mean...computers? cell phones? the human genome project? Please... you have bread, you have a knife, SLICE IT!
Monday, July 19, 2010
In other news, I finally completed "Catch-22." It took much longer than I anticipated due to its length coupled with the multitude of other things demanding my attention (something like starting a new job or whatever :)!) Overall, I was extremely impressed with how smart the writing was. In fact, I found myself continually reviewing what I read to make sure I had properly identified the dissonance that Heller so brilliantly crafted throughout the novel. Next up is "The Space Between Us" originally purchased to be a discussion novel with Jillian, but if that falls through I might be able to convince Ab to read it after he finishes "Let the Great World Spin" (the amazing book I finished during my 11 hour lay-over in Frankfurt). Either way, books are more enjoyable when they're shared, so if you've read any of these three and want to discuss, I'm all ears :)
Prior to returning to my placement school after each break, I would experience an encompassing sense of dread, but right now I feel completely at ease despite all of the unknowns that I'll be facing tomorrow. This has a lot to do with my ability to rely on past experiences and the fact that I've grown up a little more, but also speaks to the truth of the statement I heard all throughout TFA Institute; "Nothing will be as bad as your first year teaching at your placement school." Tomorrow will be the true test. And do as The Dawg says, respect my authoritah, keep the hallways clear, and Fly with Christ bra
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
In another completely unrelated topic, I think Jakarta has a lot of potential to be a very green, sustainable, urban area. While those who have been to Jakarta (or simply read my posts regarding its disparity and smog level) might find this hard to believe, the city's latitude coupled with it naturally containing many of the elements that will restrain American cities and suburbs from having as fluid of a transition into 21st century necessities. While tropical latitudes previously stunted economic growth due to less-productive, high-yield agriculture and the prevalence and destruction of diseases, thanks to advances in medicine and technology tropical locations should at least be on an equal playing field with higher latitudes and potentially come out ahead because of greater environmental stability (annually relative) and ability to reliably count on green sources of energy. Additionally, thanks to the ability to grow on the shoulders of world-wide technological development, the city has the potential to solve a lot of its problems by hurdling intermediate, developmental steps. For example, when much of Africa did not have access to telephones, governments and businesses were able to install cell phone towers rather than spending hundreds of millions on traditional telephone lines (the most famous example of hurdling technologies).
Regarding intangibles, Jakarta has a lot of "third spaces." A third space is somewhere other than a person's home or workplace where they're able to spend a considerable amount of time. Effective third spaces are imperative for community to be built while still respecting personal space, however, if they are not proximate or accessible, then too many resources will be expended thus not "greening" a city. This is the problem facing many urban and suburban areas in America, but "thanks" to the rapid expansion of Jakarta, more traditional suburbs have been absorbed within the greater metropolitan area. This has fostered dense construction, which allows buildings to "share" energy rather than losing it, but has not stripped away regional identities, thus enabling for the preservation and inception of meaningful third spaces. Consequently, if Jakarta is able to develop a Singapore-style mass transportation and infrastructure, it could become an international model for greening cities.
Also, this serves as a general warning. Do you notice when you're leaving people, they often give you messages to give to someone else? Whitney tells you, "Give my love to Klaus." Do you mind that? What if you don't see Klaus, what are you supposed to do with Whitney's love? Can you give it to Songky? And what if you give Whitney's love to Songky...and then you see Klaus? You can't really give Klaus Whitney's love because you've already given it to Songky. But what if Klaus is gay and really wants Songky's love and not Whitney's? Are you to be the love arbiter? And what form does the love take? Are you to risk giving them a tongue kiss when you pass on their love? or just a hug? or are the words enough? Or will Klaus already have assumed you've given Whitney's love to Songky since you've developed a reputation for being so loose with people's love? Or what if you're not instructed to give their love to someone else, but rather their regards. What happens if you give their love? Say for instance Whitney instructs you to give her regards to Songky, but you only give him her best? Or could you upgrade it to her love? What if you're currently at odds with Songky? Could you completely disregard the message or would that be larceny of Whitney's regards? All of these factors have caused me to develop the over-arching rule that I will no longer be the courier of anyone's love, regards, wishes, best, hellos, remembrances, howdies, or hugs and kisses :). (My utmost to George.)
(Also there were no pictures in today's post because of the sloth-like interweb here at school.)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Notice the "College on the Clock," William and Mary will be next month but I thought I should support Indo first. Also, "If I" by Demetri Martin is both hilarious and deep, well played good sir. PAX
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
The only real interesting news from today is that we were told today that we'll be heading to Singapore on Friday to get our visas. Consequently, we'll actually be in the country legally and in a legit way soon, hooray! Weather permitting, tomorrow will include pics of the outside of Mentari and Wednesday is the first day with the rest of the staff!
Sampai besok! (Until tomorrow)
Sunday, July 11, 2010
In other news, I stumbled upon a TEDtalk by Chip Conley (CEO of Joie de Vivre - an independent hotel chain in Cali-for-ni-way) who discussed the importance of analyzing what we count. Essentially he argued in favor of ascending Maslow's hierarchy of needs in business as in life, and to give more consideration to Gross National Happiness (initially argued for by the king of Bhutan) rather than Gross Domestic Product. His talk goes to the heart of my discontent with economics, which first arose during the fall semester of senior year when I did an independent study in growth economics which revealed a negative correlation between GDP and GNH. Robert Kennedy was exactly right when he argued for a redefinition of GNP and said, "it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America, except why we are proud that we are Americans." (the whole 2 minute clip can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlxlWruZOV0) Finally, it is best that this TEDtalk came from a CEO because it empowers the notion that focusing on happiness and company profits is not a zero-sum game. American fascination with sport has ingrained that there must always be a winner and a loser, when in reality multiple things can simultaneously "win."
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Interesting TEDtalks fact, there are 1 billion malnourished people and 1 billion obese people in the world. Ellen Gustafson is exactly right that both kids in the South Bronx and kids in Botswana need apples, though Golam with his morning "breakfast" of a full bag of chips may disagree...1 billion and 1 billion... (and for those interested in more info and a link to Ellen's full talk: www.30project.org)
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In other news, Ab, Mike, and I walked home from school today to start to explore the neighborhood of Kemang. It is definitely a nicer neighborhood in Jakarta (and as a point of comparison, it has a Chelsea-type feel relative to the rest of the city, so yes, I'm turning into one of those, but don't you worry, there are no gays in Indonesia, so Kemang is not like Chelsea in that way :-p) The walk coupled with trying to be really observant while taking transportation has helped me start to get my barrings, but it is difficult because there are a lot of winding roads that often change names, often for no reason whatsoever (clearly urban planning is an Indonesian strong-suit) Also, the first two days of work, Ab and I have shared a bajaj (pictured below) to work which has added to the whole Jakarta experience. When y'all come, we'll definitely take one :)
And finally, I've yet to be told when my "non-stop" flight to Singapore is going to be so that I can pick up my work visa. Unfortunately, the administrative assistant at school didn't understand that I insisted that my flight stop, preferably at the Singapore airport. Once again, tossing it up to a language barrier... :)
...my favorite mode of transportation :)
Monday, July 5, 2010
P.S. If anyone has great rice cooker recipes, holla!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
The current state of Jalan Kemang, Timur V A4 room 2: