Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
None of the last four were bad losses, consequently, I was interested in seeing how they would respond in the Big East Tournament and while I was unable to "watch" the game, I did follow the gamecast throughout and it seemed as though the game embodied their season as a whole. Villanova started strong and had a 16 point lead at halftime. However, South Florida began to chip away at the lead and a lack of execution coupled with a few back choices, like Maalik Wayns turning the ball over with 22 seconds like when they were up by one, allowed South Florida to complete the epic comeback.
While 21-11 overall, and 9-9 in the Big East during an exceptionally strong year for the conference, most of those 11 losses, respectable as some of them may be, came at exactly the worst time. I'm interested to see what happens with Villanova come Selection Sunday, but can't say that I'll be surprised wherever they end up.
The game that I'm most looking forward to on tomorrow's docket is St. John's vs. Rutgers. My freshman year of high school I had a strange affinity for the Mike Jarvis era when St. John's was relatively competitive that culminated in me "wearing" a St. John's t-shirt in my self-portrait drawn in art class, and while my loyalty to the 'Cuse doesn't waiver, I am glad to see Steve Lavin has brought the Johnnies back. Additionally, a St. John's vs. Syracuse quarter-final match-up would be epic because New York City is Syracuse's "home away from home" and the Orange have been highly successful in the Garden, while MSG plays host to many of St. John's actual home games. That being said, now that everyone is excited for that potential match-up, Rutgers will pull the upset and spoil everyone's fun :)
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Consequently, to bring some of this excitement to Jakarta, I created a poster of the tournament bracket and have explained its significance to some of my students. While they might not be as excited or this afternoon's UConn/DePaul tip-off, they are at least feigning interest and know who to cheer for :)
ORANGE OUT :)
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Thanks to this routine, I recently finished 'The Brothers Karamazov.' It is amazing how a book that is over 700 pages can hold your attention throughout and how seemingly unrelated side events stuck in randomly throughout the novel are woven together at the end to create amazing depth. It would have been extremely interesting to read the book as it was initially published - chapter by chapter in a periodical. In that way, I think the novel more parallels a TV series in its function and execution. Furthermore, I was struck by how overtly Russian the novel was (obviously), but more specifically how ideas and themes from the book were common to what I learned in Russian class and observed when there for a few weeks. Next up is 'The Tempest'
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Governmental rationale for the law was protectionist in nature and, contrary to the Washington Concensus, I think protectionism is a good thing for the main economic sectors of a rapidly growing economy. For example, there was a law passed last summer putting a minimum term of investment on FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), which was strongly opposed by multi-national banks because it restricted the ever important flow of capital. Yet, this was an example of good protectionism because it was aimed at quelling speculation and over-investment. While I'm not arguing that the law was a cure-all, it is an example of enacting a law that may be 'bad for business,' but ultimately is in the best long-term interest of Indonesia.
In contrast, I have issues with the 'Hollywood ban' for two reasons. First of all, while the government is trying to foster the Indonesian film-making industry, this industry is far from being a central component to the overall economy and the domestic unrest at not being able to see Harry Potter #7 Part Two and other internationally anticipated movies in theaters doesn't seem to be worth the political capital. This is especially worrisome because the boot-leggers will still get ahold of the DVDs, thus rendered the ban essentially useless and further encouraging disrepect of intellectual property.
Secondly, I am concerned about the implications of restricting art and speech. The inherent message this law sends may be more dangerous than the law itself. I believe that the most important institutions to a functional democracy are free speech and free expression (and I'm not arguing that we are a shining example back home in America because we might want to question how free speech is that is owned by a small handful of enormous corporate entities)
Overall, I am interested in observing how this plays out, and the situation highlights just one of many issues every country must deal with in an increasingly inter-connected world where boundaries are blurred like never before.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Another reason for relative silence this past month has been the amount of time I have spent away from Jakarta. Every other weekend I have left town, and most recently I visited the islands of Lombok and Gili Meno. I'm continually blown away by the natural beauty of Indonesia and being on an island without any motorized form of internal travel (Gili Meno) was one of the more relaxing experiences I've ever had in my life. Also, taking a 'speed boat' to Gili Meno that required I jump out into the shallows when we came ashore was a fun experience :)
I found that the majority of the population on Gili Meno were able to communicate in English, but they loved when I tried to use my limited knowledge of Bhasa Indonesian. The more I use the language, the more I want to study it because my deficiencies are all the more apparent and it is a great joy to communicate with people in the native tongue.
Also while out in the Gili Islands, I met some interesting foreigners. The first group were three Frenchmen out on their vacation, but one of them lived in Boston but had quit his job as an investment banker to travel for 8 months. I was struck by the sense of balance he had and for the amount of courage that took to do at age 28. The four of us ended up spending a decent amount of time together that day and the other group that I talked with for a while was a Dutch couple and we ended up sharing dinner together. Both experiences made a lasting impression as to how travel brings people universally closer together, but to give myself a little breather, I'm only taking one more trip before my family comes out over spring break.
I hope everyone has been doing well! I miss you all very much!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Aside from that, of all the Super Bowl ads I perused on YouTube today (clearly I've been productive over here :)!), this was my favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBUcG7xZB-g&feature
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Zosima, an elder monk, plays a very prominent role in the first part of the novel and conversations with the monk help establish the philosophical and theological function of the novel. As I am making my way through the tome, there are two quotes from the elder that I found very profound and wanted to share.
"Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him..."
-This, coupled with some interesting research on Motivation and Achievement, highlights the importance of being true to ourselves and taking the plank out of our own eyes before being so critical of the specks in others.
"-'How can we be certain of the presence of God?'
-By the experience of active love. Try to love your neighbors actively and tirelessly. The more you succeed in loving, the more you'll be convinced of the existence of God and the immortality of your soul. "
Monday, January 31, 2011
We took an overnight train that was suppose to arrive in Yogya around 4:30 am and I initially thought that Yogya was the last stop. Unfortunately, when the train finally stopped at 5:45 and we were informed that we were in Solo, we realized that Yogya was not the last stop :). We were a little bleary-eyed, but we were able to catch a bus to Yogya that only took about an hour. It was a little less than an optimal way to start the day, but at least the train didn't continue further than Solo!
Once we found a place to stay for the night and were able to drop our bags off, we headed to the palace for the Saturday performance of gamelan with wayang kulit puppets. When we arrived, we were told that because there was some sort of festival/fair going on, that the gamelan would not be playing. I was initially tempted to leave so that we wouldn't miss too much out of the day, however, we had an amazing tour guide, Denis, who was extremely knowledgeable about the palace and gave us tons of information on what to do in and around the city, including an awesome place for batik paintings that is only open two mornings a week!
After the palace tour, we went to the batik shop recommended by Denis where we got to see the process of how the paintings are made and peruse through an extensive gallery of many different kinds of batiks. Apparently, many of the best batik painters are associated with this gallery, a number of whom are considered the best in the world. I truly appreciated seeing such a variety of batik styles, including an artist by the name of Arifin, an example of whose work is shown below.
After the batik gallery, we headed out Prambanan and then ate dinner at one of the best restaurants I've ever been to in my life. It is a vegetarian place that is dedicated to using local produce that is grown in sustainable ways. Furthermore, the restaurant advocates 'Slow Food,' or taking plenty of time to enjoy a meal together through conversations, games, or reading a book/magazine from their collection. On top of the mission and atmosphere of the place, the food was outstanding (best pumpkin soup I've ever had in my life).
When we set out to return to our hotel, we were passing by the fair/festival that caused the morning gamelan to be canceled. It was absolutely packed and so we dedicated to see what all the fuss was about. It was very similar to a County or State Fair back home, and had a very festive atmosphere. There were a bunch of carnival-type rides, and so we joined in on the fun by playing bumper cars :)
Overall, it was a great weekend and I can definitively say that Yogya lived up to the hype. I hope that I will be able to get back to the city again soon and do some more of the activities that I didn't have time for yet!
Furthermore, I have found Indonesians to be more forth-coming about their ages. Americans are often coy in regards to their numerical age, however, it was recently a co-worker's birthday, and she divulged her age to me without nearly as much concern. Granted, I was playing around in a similar fashion to my grandfather, and so it might be that Papa's strategy is exceeding effective in getting people to share their true age :)
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
My first trip was out to Bandung with my co-worker Mike, his girlfriend, and his sister. Bandung is the capital of the province of West Java and is a pretty considerable city itself. Mike spent a month out in Bandung last year during his training for the ETA program with Fulbright and so he had considerable knowledge of the area. We left shortly after work on Friday and got in town to find an affordable hotel and get to bed early for a big day on Saturday. Saturday we visited a dormant volcano, Gunung Tangkuban Perahu (also known as the Mountain of the Overturned Boat). The trip out there, including the hike through the woods afterward, was very similar to the area surrounding Mount St. Helens, yet in a tropical rain forest instead of a temperate one! As we made our way down the mountain, we came to some natural hot springs were we were able to boil eggs in one of the pools while we put our feet in another and got a mud massage. After the volcano, we headed to an Indonesia hot springs resort where we could relax a little bit more. Overall, the day was very busy and a lot of fun, yet at the same time very relaxing. The only downer was that I was unable to find my camera while packing on Friday and so pictures will be delayed until I can get copies from Mike's girlfriend.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Initially, I was a little concerned how it would go over, but the kids really started getting into it, and those who were most successful were not necessarily the best athletes. Furthermore, we mixed all of the students into four different teams to help integration between classes and grades, promoting the overall unity of the school. It was a lot of fun and was truly a loss that they didn't allow cameras.