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Archive for October, 2006

Off to Bali!

paddy.jpg
See you next week!

Image from: http://www.edwebproject.org/bali/gallery/pics/tirta.perfectpaddy.jpg

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Who are you, really?

Aside from my parents house in Connecticut, the longest I’ve lived in one place is the 5 years we lived in Munich, Germany. I’ve also lived in Florence, Italy; Washington DC and Storrs, CT, USA; and finally Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have no idea where I will be living in future years. I would like to live in Japan, Chile, Tanzania, New Zealand, Italy (again), Denmark, somewhere in the Caribbean, Egypt, and probably dozens more places that I just haven’t thought of yet…

I wonder, with all this moving, this changing of lifestyle every few years, am I really the same person everywhere I go? I can honestly say I feel generally happier here in KL than I did living in Munich. I assume that’s a reflection of the constant sunny (as opposed to gloomy) weather. But, maybe not. Maybe I’m somewhat of a different person here. A person with a more positive outlook. A person who is slightly more content to take things as they come, accept things for what they are, and not constantly worry about making things perfect. How did that happen?

Do I change a little bit every time I move? Is that part of “growing up”? Or am I just adapting to the local culture while I’m here and will revert back to the “old” superkimbo at some point?

And if I am a little different here than I was in the last place, what does that mean for all the people I meet along the way? Do they all know the same superkimbo? Who do they know, really? Who am I, really? Who are you? Today? Tomorrow? Next year? In 10 years? In 50? Are we always evolving?

If that’s the case, I wonder what people must think of me at these different points in time. Does it take the person who just met me only a second to define me, or does it take some time? How flexible are those definitions? We always hear “you only have one chance to make a first impression.” How does that work? Are those quick definitions we make about people more or less accurate than the ones we develop over time?

I consider myself a quick judge of character and I wonder what I would say about myself if I wasn’t me (if you know what I mean). If I had to guess, I would generally say that other people think I’m: friendly, loud, opinionated, pushy, talkative, strong-willed, bossy, organized, type-a personality. At this point in time, I like to say I’m: happy, funny, smart, knowledgeable, loud, opinionated, talkative, organized, focused, independent, confident, logical, amusing.

I think there are a lot of overlaps there, but perhaps it’s because I’m only guessing what others would say about me. Last year I found the Johari Window (more here) and I only asked a few close friends to fill in mine. Feel free to check it out and define me. I wonder how this works for people you meet online. Can they really define you if they haven’t met you in person? What does this mean for the “flattening” of the world, when business and education can be done without ever meeting the other person? Do you ever really know who you’re dealing with?

The interesting thing about the Johari Window is that it’s all positive terms, so if you really want the “true you” you might also want to incorporate the Nohari Window, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to make one of those for myself yet…

I’m curious, who are you?

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An astronaut you say?

I’m reading all about differentiation for my Ed Leadership class, and it makes me wonder about when I was in school… Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t have the “proper encouragement” as a young child to go into the technology and science field. You know how you always see stories about young women who are excelling in the science field and they always says how their parents and teachers enouraged them? Actually, I’m kind of referencing my favorite movie here… Well, I wonder if I was encouraged. Because growing up I always thought I was bad at math and science and strong in English and history. Now, I can barely spell and I have no concept of grammar, but I love all thing scientific and technological. The reason I say all this is because, when I go through my news aggregator in the morning, these are things I find so interesting:

  • Well, I think we all know why I find this item interesting.
  • But are you genuinely excited about this upcoming movie? ‘Cause I am.
  • And I think this is pretty cool too.
  • I love that UK drivers are so smart.
  • And, I’ll definitely be commenting on this article since we all know I love my Mac so much.
  • I was also very interested to see that the US population has reached 300 Million. But I think there are still more English speakers in China than there are in the US…
  • Did you know that scientists recently discovered a lost city? Of course the Wikipedia entry on the subject is thriving.
  • This one is quite old, but it still makes me laugh: Have you considered buying milk on Amazon?

I’m also loving the viral video world:

  • Check out the Aurora-borealis. I need to go to the Arctic. But I hate winter. What to do?
  • I watched this OK go video a while ago, but was recently reminded how funny it is. I love how bands can now become popular just based on YouTube! And, I’m sure you all know that Google just bought YouTube, right?
  • I’m not sure how Aleksey Vayner fits in, but I think it’s pretty funny. Even The New Yorker is interested. Now that’s a story!
  • I’ve already shared Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty with everyone at school. I am just blown away by the power of this short flash animation. Lucky for me, I’m teaching Flash this quarter…

Anyway, to bring it all back around. Sometimes I wonder if I had been “properly encouraged” in the science and technology field, might I be an astronaut today?

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On Vanity

I like to think of myself as not “typically” vain (i.e. not vain about my appearance). In all honestly, it’s mostly because I’m quite lazy:

hammock.jpg

I always choose clothes for comfort over style (in fact, I don’t own a single button-down shirt, because it’s too much trouble to actually button them, and I certainly never tuck anything in, or wear skirts); I don’t worry about bad haircuts (the most recent of which was last month, and I might officially say that it was the worst haircut I’ve ever had) because I know it will always grow out; I haven’t worn any make-up since high school (with one or two very specific exceptions: my own wedding, other people’s weddings and halloween);

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(so vain about my wedding that I can’t resist including a picture)

I have never in my life blow-dried my hair (although, when I was a cheerleader in high school (boy, I wish I had a picture of those days here in KL!), I occasionally curled it with a curling iron); I have never worn high-heels (well, one time, when I was an intern at the UNPO in Washington, DC, I wore these great high heels on the day we were campaigning on the Hill. I was able to walk over to the senate building, but by the time we were walking back to the office, which is right across the street, I had to actually remove my shoes and walk in my stockings (oh my! I guess that was the last time I wore stockings too!) because I could no longer stand the pain), I even wore flip-flops at my own wedding;

flipflops.jpg

and I’ve long since given up on contact lenses in favor of glasses (not that glasses can’t be cool or trendy, and I quite like mine).

But, I do think I’m vain about other things. Mostly about being smart and traveling/living abroad.

I’ll start with smarts: I feel very fortunate to be in a career which encourages constant development and continued education since these are the things I value most highly. I like to be the person that is always “taking another class” or “busy with reading.” I am truly enjoying my professional blogging and spending all my free time reading what other educators have to say about technology. I always say I want to write a book, or at least publish a few articles. I’m constantly sending out e-mails to my colleagues sharing what I have set up to help them integrate technology (most recently I’ve compiled a massive wiki with tons of links to resources I’ve found for each subject area). I like to be the one in my department that’s always coming up with new ideas and implementing them with like-minded teachers. I like to pass on interesting opportunities to students and colleagues, and definitely share new tools I find with my headmaster and principal. I love being a tech geek, and I love it even more when other people appreciate that about me.

In terms of traveling, I love living abroad. I love the fact that I can move to any country in the world every two years and still get to do the same job and earn around the same salary. I love the experiences I have every single day living in another country. I love the challenges and the struggles. For some reason, I feel like I need these struggles to keep life interesting. Maybe that’s because I’m not interesting enough on my own, or maybe it’s because I’m easily bored. But, it’s definitely something that I think makes me interesting (which also happens to make me vain). I like having something special about myself, that in reality, in day-to-day life, isn’t actually all that special. My life in KL is pretty similar to what my life would be like in the US, except for the fact that it’s pretty normal for me to be going to Bali next week, Vietnam at Christmas, and Thailand in April. I happen to think that’s pretty cool.

In what ways are you vain?

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News of the week

I have seen some interesting news articles this week, so many in fact, I was inspired to post them all here:

First, 16 Probable Planets Found in Milky Way: “NASA scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered what they believe are 16 new planets deep in the Milky Way, leading them to conclude there are probably billions of planets spread throughout the galaxy.” Wow! Slowly but surely, I’m getting ever closer to my secret dream of finding out if there is life on other planets.

And if there is life on other planets, maybe I can teleport there, like in StarTrek, thanks to these Danish scientists.

I was slightly horrified (and also slightly, well OK, very, curious) to read about the radioactive snails discovered at the site in Spain where 3 hydrogen bombs accidentally fell 40 years ago.

Another plane (albeit a much, much smaller one) crashes into a NY city office building.

A “walking skeleton” parades down the runway in Paris Oct 7th. Yikes. I do love America’s Next Top Model, but this is frighting…

And, astonishingly China has actually unblocked Wikipedia even though they wouldn’t let Google in without censorship.

Perhaps all of my interest in this global news is has been inspired by finishing this book:


The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

What an absolutely amazing book. I read almost the whole thing while we were on Redang and I just could not put it down. If you are at all interested in technology or education or the future of business and/or globalization, you absolutely have to read this book. Friedman is engaging, funny, thoughtful and inspiring. This book not only re-affirmed my own thoughts about education and technology, but opened my eyes to ways in which this will affect every single person on the planet. I would have to say that this is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. If you’re interested, see the Wikipedia entry.

But I also did like these books that I recently read:


Close to Shore: The true story of the “summer of fear” when a lone shark terrorized the East Coast of the US


The Devil in the White City: The story of a seriel killer during the Worlds Fair in Chicago

and just started:


Freakonomics

Phew! I guess I really like to read…

Has anyone else read these books (particularly The World is Flat)? What did you think?

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And this is why I love the Daily Show so much…

And, not only is the show entertaining, witty, and intellegent, but a recent report by Indiana Universtiy has found that the Daily Show is just as substantive as more traditional news programs.

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Watch

“My job is to try to connect Iraq with the War on Terror”
– President Bush

Everyday I am thankful that I do not have to watch President Bush on TV…

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OK, so truth be told, our weekend on Redang wasn’t all fun and games, relaxation and rest, as I may have lead you to believe in the previous post. In fact, we had some interesting adventures. Mostly revolving around jellyfish and sharks.

It seems that this past weekend was the jellyfish convention on Redang. There were literally jellyfish everywhere. Not just in the water, either. I guess jellyfish are too stupid to avoid being washed up to shore, so we saw quite a few “beached” jellies on the sand. I submit exhibit A:

jelly.JPG

Shortly into the trip we found out that the jellyfish were not dangerous. “No poison,” as one of the helpful hotel staff informed me, reaching in and grabbing a great big purple slimy mass of jellyfish. “Touch it!” And so I did. They are slimy, but not as slimy as you’d think. And they’re harder than they look. I thought the it would by kind of soft like a slimy pillow, but it was kind of firm. I regret to say that I didn’t actually hold one myself, but I was tempted. Anyway, it’s all fine and good to touch a jellyfish when the locals are holding one out to you like a tasty snack, but snorkeling and swimming among them? Well, that’s a different story. I mean, would you like to swim in this?

echeng-jellyfish-lake-palau.jpg

‘Cause that’s pretty much what it was like. Only most of the jellyfish were purple. And there were 3 different kinds.

The first day we strolled into the water, planning to go snorkeling. Once we get in up to about our mid-calves, we noticed little purple balls floating all around us in the sea. Hmmm… we wondered… What is this?

http://202.54.119.101/adminimages/jellyfish_pankajsekhsaria.jpg

Jellyfish? Maybe they float over at around 11 am and then float away or something. Or maybe it’s the haze. They’ll be gone tomorrow. Today we’ll just go paddle boating (or “peddle” boating if you’re Neil) and other non-immersian activities. It’ll all be fine by the time we go on our special, “free” (and by “free” I mean something we’ve already paid for as part of the package, but the hotel tries to pretend like it’s some sort of special present they’re giving us out of the kindness of their hearts) snorkeling trip, right?

No. No. No. We arrive at the marine park on Day 2 only to see some rather large jellyfish cavorting with the lovely, colorful reef-fish we’ve come to inspect. I made it about 30 seconds swimming with the jellies before the first (of many) panic attacks. I can’t help it! I was raised with a healthy fear of jellyfish. Poison or no poison. As my friend Maria commented today: I was born on land. I know there are certain types of jellyfish that can kill a person in 3 minutes. There are no hospitals on Redang. The flight to KL takes 1 hour and leaves once a day. Stung by deadly jellyfish, Kim? Might as well give up now cause there’s no chance you’ll make it through this one. So, as Alex snorkels happily away amongst the purple blobs, I run out of the sea, do a little self-motivating “you’re much bigger than them” type of talk, and eventually run back in. This happens about 15 times. Over the course of 3 hours.

But, despite all the running in and out, I managed to see lots of cool things.

1. The jellyfish. Yes, yes, I know. I’m SCARED of the jellyfish. But that doesn’t mean they’re not cool looking:

http://www.fantasea.com/db/gallery/jellyfish_small.jpg

2. A shark! I saw a little baby shark like this one a few times:

gray_reef_shark_2.jpg

3. Angel fish:

angelfish.jpg

4. These pretty blue fish:

http://www.myfishforum.com/images/fish002.jpg

And, if I had one of those nifty underwater camera housings, I would have my own pictures for all these colorful fish. Alas, I’ve spent ages trawling the web looking for the just right pictures and I have to give up now. You’ll have to use your imagination. Imagine us, snorkeling, with lots of fish, jellyfish and the occasional baby shark.

But, honestly, my favorite part of the snorkeling trip was when Alex and I finally found an area of coral without many jellyfish. Finally, some sweet relief from my constant terror of brushing up against a jellyfish with the top of my head. Ew. I get the shivers just thinking of it right now in my nice (dry) house. Anyway, together we saw lots of colorful fish swimming around and pecking at the coral and then the best thing happened: Alex freaked out. He claims he could hear the crunching sound of the big fish eating the coral and he was imagining the fish taking a big, crunchy bit out of his leg. And this was before he got scared of the little teeny yellow and black fish “chasing” him around the sea on Sunday. And after he spent 3 hours swimming around with hundreds of jellyfish. That Alex, he’ll always remain an enigma to me…

Jellyfish image from: http://echeng.com/journal/images/misc/echeng-jellyfish-lake-palau.jpg
Shark image from: http://www.reefseekers.com/PIXPAGES/Gray_reef_shark_2.jpg
Anglefish image from: http://www.theshroyers.com/bonaire/snorkeling/donkey_beach/angelfish.jpg
Blue fish image from: http://www.myfishforum.com/images/fish002.jpg

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