Archive for January, 2007

A new year begins

Um, yes, I’ve noticed it’s almost February, but that last few weeks have been so crazy busy that it still feels like the begining of January to me. So, here’s to a new year!

I’m not really a “resolutions” type person, but in the interest of self improvement, in 2007 I’d like to:

Leave behind:

  • A year of surprisingly sloth-like behavior and lack of serious exercise. Something about the heat just makes me feel like lazing around all day. This needs to change, my friends. Even I am tired of myself just sitting around!

Bring Forward:

  • Enthusiasm about learning more about my profession. I’m always taking professional development courses and doing tons of reading both on- and off-line. I’m anxious to keep learning!
  • Adventure, travel, experience. Every once in a while, I get an urge to move back home. It lasts for about 2 hours, and then I remember how much I enjoy living abroad and traveling. More traveling in 2007!
  • Making connections – not only with people I actually know, but also online and through other friends. The last six months I think I’ve “met” more people than I have in the last 2 years. It’s been so much fun to communicate with my readers, friends of friends, and all my old buddies from home and my last job. I like being part of the global village.
  • More non-fiction reading. This has been a banner year for me and non-fiction. I never, ever used to read anything but novels, but this year I got hooked starting with The World is Flat and I have hardly read a novel since (well, that’s not true, I read a lot of novels too, but I feel like I’m learning a lot more with all this non-fiction thrown in).


  • Making a concerted effort to be more professional, more adult at work. I need to learn how to speak more professionally, remember to promote myself professionally, and be more confident in what I say. I need to learn how to present myself as an experienced professional all the time. (Yuck! I don’t like growing up).
  • Try to make friends outside of work. Part of the reason I live abroad is to meet new people and experience different cultures. It’s important for me to remember that there’s a whole world outside of school (even though I may rarely get to visit it!)

What are your plans for 2007?


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Sick Day

What does it take to get your average teacher to stay home?

How about 2 simultaneous inner ear infections and a continually worsening case of strep throat (dispite the fact that you’ve been on antibiotics for 3 days now and you only have enough for 5 days)?

Yesterday I went to work. Planning lessons for a substitute is usually harder than just going in and teaching them yourself. Somehow during the day (between taking them out of my bag, putting them into my pocket, and walking down to the lunch room) I managed to lose my antibiotics. It has become apparent to me that I’m not quite cut out for work right now. Sadly, that does not seem to mean that I’m sleeping – just sweating, trying not to swallow, while amusing distracting myself by blogging.

Image from: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/Pictures/thermometer.gif

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What gender is your blog?

Apparantly I write like a man. Who knew?

Check yours here.

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Blood Diamond

I consider myself to be socially conscious. I have been an active member of Amnesty International for the last 10 years or so, I try to pay attention to what’s going on in the world, and I make an effort to put my money where my mouth is. But, even I succommed to the diamond industry. Alex and I dated for about 7 years before we decided to get engaged, during that time I swore that not only would I never get married (who needs that piece of paper?) but that I would never buy a diamond engagement ring.


The whole never getting married idea changed pretty quickly when we moved to Munich and I realized that we had no legal ties to each other and if something should ever happen, we basically have no rights. That said, as soon as we decided to get engaged I suddenly developed an all-encompasing lust for the perfect solitare engagement ring. I can’t quite explain how it happened. I knew all about conflict diamonds, but something inside of me decided I wanted a ring. A diamond ring. And thus, my beautiful Tiffany Lucida solitare was bought. At the price of about 2 months wages with a hefty extra month’s worth of tax plopped on top for the privelage of buying the ring in Germany. Now, I did go through an intensive interrogation with the somewhat sullen saleslady regarding the origin of my diamond, it’s certificate of authenticity, and serial number, just to make absolutely certian that I was not participating in the horrid exploitation of so many innocent people.

Sadly, I have now come to realize that there is absolutely no way to know if your diamond is a conflict diamond or not thanks to the fantastic movie, Blood Diamond. If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, go! I hate to admit that sometimes it takes a Hollywood version of a tradgedy to make it real, but it’s true. After leaving the theater I was embarrased to have my wedding ring on my finger. I know I tried my best to ensure that it was not part of this nightmare reality, but in the end, I don’t think that makes a speck of difference.

Amnesty International and Global Witness have started a joint campaign to fight against conflict diamonds based around the film:

“Global Witness and Amnesty International are supporting the film, Blood Diamond, as an important way to raise awareness about how diamonds can fuel conflict. We hope that as a result of the movie, people will ask more questions before buying a diamond, and that the industry will take action to make sure companies can provide consumers with adequate assurances that the diamonds they sell are conflict-free.”

I am so thankful that movies like this are becoming more and more common – and becoming widely recognized at awards events that traditionally honored, shall we say, less educational films. Last year The Constant Gardener, and now Blood Diamond. I think Hollywood is finally on the right track.

I participate in a book club here in KL and this week we discussed one of my favorite new reads: The World is Flat. During our conversation we talked about globalization (of course) and the need for “global corporations” to have some sort of moral watchdog or code of ethics. I think, I hope, that movies like this can educate the public to be more aware of what is happening in the world and how our consumer desires can literaly destroy entire countries. I’m certainly not perfect, and clearly I am also a sucker for media-hyped temptation, but what’s that G.I. Joe says? “Knowing is half the battle.”

Image 1 from: http://z001.ig.com.br/ig/55/36/142820/blig/amodiamantes/imagens/lucida_shopping.jpg
Image 2 from: http://www.popmatters.com/images/news_art/b/blood-diamond-poster.jpg

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Photo Hunt: Silver

As a child of the 80’s I share a true and deep love for all things silvery and shiny. It is therefore with great pleasure that I present to you a selection of silver themed pictures from our recent trip to Hanoi, Vietnam (click on each picture for a larger version – except for the first one, sorry, it slipped through the cracks when I did my website update a few weeks ago).

My first, and best silver-related discovery was the religious offerings (I think) street of the Old Quarter, Hanoi:


Tinsel fluttering from every shop, shiny objects hanging out into the street, glinting and glittering in the sun. Ah, yes, shiny metal attracts raccoons, cats, and me. You know I just had to get up close and personal with the tinsel while we were there:

Of course, we also walked through tin-street – a silver wonderland:

And, Hardware Ave – a treasure trove of shiny new tools:

Lastly, we enjoyed the silvery light of the cloud covered sky on beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake:

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Just call me Dr.

caduceus.gifI have a lot of respect for doctors, I really do, but I’m getting pretty good at some serious self-diagnosing over here. I know you’re never, ever supposed to self-diagonose, but frankly, I’m the only one inside my body, right? So, therefore, I would know the absolute most about how I feel compared to other times when I’ve felt this way, right? And, then of course, there’s the little problem of when the good old doctors don’t really listen. Let me tell you a short story:

I have Beta Thalessemia Minor, which is bascially a Mediteranian form of anemia which actually protects you against Malaria. The long and the short of it is that I have an iron deficiency in my blood, but that I can’t take iron suppliments because it can ultimately end up building up in my body causing iron poisoning. It doesn’t affect my daily life at all and it’s not life-threatening. I can end up extra tired some days if my iron is really low, but that’s pretty much it.

Anyway, the reason I explain all this is that the year after I graduated from university I started going to a new doctor (due to my new job with my new health plan). After my first visit I had a standard blood test and the doctor informed me that I should be taking iron suppliments for my low iron level. I explained about the Beta Thalessemia and he shared that he had never heard of it and he would have to look it up in his medical journals. Fair enough.

A month later I went back to the doctor for an unrelated incident. Waiting for me at the counter was a prescription for iron suppliments with a note berating me for not taking them already. I explained again about the Beta Thalessemia and he promised to look it up.

And, again (you knew it was coming) I went back for my (final) visit on another unrelated issue about 2 or 3 months later. And, again he told me I should be taking iron suppliments. Thankfully, that was the last time I used that doctor.

I have quite a few other stories like this, mostly about me knowing I have strep throat and the doctor denying it, and then, a few days later, me going back (sadly) triumphant with a giant white pussball in the back of my throat and a raging case of strep to “confirm” that I did, indeed, have strep throat and could therefore qualify for some antibiotics. This happens a lot to me. I know when I’m getting strep throat. And, incidentally, I also know when I’m getting an ear infection, which happend this past weekend. Thankfully I waited long enough before going to the doctor this time that I actually had a full on ear infection when I went, so I got my ear drops (what, am I dog or something?) right away.

So, there you have it: I might as well be my own doctor.

Image 1: http://www.american.edu/cas/images/caduceus.gif
Image 2: http://science.uwe.ac.uk/research/uploads/CRIB_blood_cells.jpg
Image 3: http://www.ezmedicaloffice.com/images/screen_shots/Prescription.gif
Image 3: http://www.vvh.org/healthinfo/images_healthinfo/streplg.gif

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The lure of the chapstick

I like to pride myself on my many misadventures. As Alex often notes, I tend to do things without always thinking them through – especially when crossing the steet. I have a special way that I just saunter across the street, always walking in a diagonal path because it’s usually the shortest route to my destination (even if it’s not the safest). But aside from my lacadasical street crossing attitude (which, by the way worked especially well in the Old Quarter of Hanoi), I would have to say that I have one “stupid” incident that I’m most proud of – it involves my first car (pictured above) and my most prized possession: Chapstick.

When I was a senior in high school I was driving to school, late of course, and just at the corner of the teeny tiny road that my parents live off of, there is a Y-intersection. I wasn’t quite paying attention to the road because I was reaching for my chapstick, which had rolled off the dashboard onto the floor on the passenger side. Thankfully I was slowing down to a stop when I reached just a little too far to the right and tugged the steering wheel with my other hand – which swerved the entire car right into a large, sharp rock that jutted out from the right side of the street. I totally dented the passenger side door (did I mention that I was driving my parents car?) and had to turn back around to have my dad check out the damage before I could head back to school. All because I needed to reapply some chapstick. I must confess, I am still completely addicted to chapstick (mostly the medicated kind in the blue tube, but occassionally the original in the black tube) and I would probably make the same mistake again if that little tube was just out of reach…

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

Image from: http://www.beautydirect.co.nz/product_images/chapstick.jpg

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