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I love art! All kinds of art. I wish I could create my own art, but unfortunately, I do not have the talent….

Alex and I used to have so much fun exploring all the art museums in Europe – especially because they are almost always free. Very often we would spend a Sunday just hanging out at Munich’s Alte Pinakothek – the “Old Painting Museum” – which had mostly Renaissance art, our favorite (due to the fact that I learned pretty much everything (which is not much) I know about art during my study abroad in Florence, Italy in 1997).

I also lived in Washington, DC for a while and I absolutely loved visiting the Freer and Sackler Gallery which houses Asian and African art (the two museums are connected). It is probably my most favorite museum ever.

Half of the museum is actually underground (on the Mall, part of the Smithsonian) so almost no one ever goes there, but everything is just beautiful. There is Islamic art on one end, in the middle is East Asian art, and by the time you get to the other end you’re in Africa. It’s amazing.

Here in KL, we don’t have many painting museums (though we do have the Islamic Art Museum and I love Islamic art), but there is so much history here.

Places like Angkor in Cambodia (which I posted previosly on Photo Hunt: Time), or Myson in Vietnam, or temples in Bali, Laos and Vietnam are also “art” to me (which I also posted previously on Photo Hunt: Broken). It’s always amazing to imagine the civilizations that lived among these historic buildings.

In my house, I have lots of little pieces of art, all collected from my travels. Nothing fancy, but here are a few favorites:

My lovely carpets:
(Well, my two most recent purchases, I also have 10 others around the house):

My antique perfume bottles from Egypt and Morocco:

perfumebottles.jpg

moroccanbottle.jpg

My awesome, gigantic tribal mask from Malaysia:

malaysianmask.jpg

My super cool tribal hat from northern Thailand:

tribalhat.jpg

And, of course, my beautiful, handmade jewelry from last week:

Everyone’s idea of art is different (here’s mine). What’s yours?

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Well, folks, it’s finally happening. I’m turning into my mother.

All those habits and behaviors I said I would never replicate as an adult. Yep, they’re all here. And they seem to appear when I’m least expecting them – they just happen, naturally. This was not in the life plan of superkimbo, all grown up. Unfortunately, it seems the only thing I didn’t get from my mother is her perfect figure…

So, here they are, the good and the bad:

The frustrating:

  • My mom has the most annoying habit of approximating time. For example, at 6:38, she’ll say “hurry up Kim, it’s already 7:00!” Arg. I can not tell you how much that frustrates me to this day. But, guess who just started doing it this year? My friend Darby totally caught me out the other day when I said that 9:30 was already the end of our first block (which actually ends at 9:50). Yikes.
  • My mom has a bit of the “tough love” attitude and has seriously high expectations (which is exactly how her father was). I do think this helped me be self-motivated, but I sometimes find myself acting that way and I don’t like it.
  • My mom is a real homebody. She could spend days at home just puttering around the house. As you know, I am equally likely to sit at home for an entire weekend. But, in contrast to my mom, I do live overseas and she has never lived more than 45 minutes away from where she grew up…
  • My mom hoards foods and household supplies. Let’s just say that we still have stockpiles from our Y2K stash. And, guess who actually shipped non-perishable foods from Germany to Malaysia the last time she moved? I’m really really trying to get over this – I’m eating as fast as I can in preparation for our move to Bangkok.
  • My mom is a know-it-all, even when she doesn’t know. Enough said.

The inspiring:

  • My mom is always a professional. Although she only attended a two-year college, she has a patent (and she’s not even a researcher), she headed up major divisions at IBM, ran the Euro conversion project back in 2000, and she pioneered the maternity leave policy for all mothers at IBM when I was born in 1977. I was born without enough platlets in my blood, so my mom had to stay at the hospital with me for a few weeks, and then she wanted to stay home with me until I was ok. The company wanted to let her go, but she wrote an amazing letter to the CEO and ended up getting 6 months paid leave and totally changing the maternity practices for the whole company. Rock on Mom!
  • My mom is an advocate for what she believes in. In my home state of CT, hunting is legal in certain conditions. One day a neighbor was shooting deer in his yard (we all have 2 acres of property, I think that’s the legal limit or something) with a bow and arrow. The baby deer that he shot wandered into our yard and died in my mom’s arms. She spent the next sixth months petitioning to get hunting banned in our town and won.
  • My mom loves home remedies. Alex makes fun of both of us for that, but I like them too. Gargle with salt water when you have a sore throat, keep your neck warm when you’re sick, drink ginger ale when your stomach is upset, and so on. He claims that his mother never offered home remedies. We’ll see about that this summer.
  • My mom is honest. She tells everyone exactly what she thinks. Most of the time I like this about her and about myself, but sometimes it’s too much. We all know the phrase “brutal honesty” – that’s us, all the time…

In what ways are you like your mother?

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How green are you?

In Germany we had extensive recycling practices. The infrastructure was so well set up that we, the lazy Americans, actually managed to:

  • recycle our paper, regular trash and even compost(!) right in our apartment complex – they had bins for all three!
  • recycle our glass into white, clear, green, blue, brown right down the street
  • never buy cans (like soda) because they had an extra tax
  • use plastic, re-useable carrying containers to bring home our heavy duty 1L water bottles (yum! fizzy water!) which we could “rent” for 2 euros and then return. The heavy duty bottles were then rigorously washed by the company and re-used.
  • air-dry all of our clothes since we didn’t own a dryer
  • used our own collection of sturdy bags to pack our groceries. Grocery stores charge you for bags in Germany so everyone brings their own.

None of this made us special in Europe, actually, all of these things are totally common practice and definitely expected. In fact, there are fines for people who don’t comply. However, here in Malaysia, I am very sad to report that I haven’t yet figured out how to recycle anything. Anything. It is shockingly easy to start throwing away cans and newspapers in with the trash if that’s all you have. I haven’t used a re-usable grocery bag in 2 years, because they pack your groceries for you in plastic bags. I know I need to make more of an effort myself, but I think there is definitely something to be said for institutionalizing practices at a governmental level.

For example, I just found out today that plastic bags are now banned in San Francisco. Now, this is the kind of thing that needs to start happening all around the world! If we are forced to be environmentally friendly, it might be tough at the beginning, but it will become a routine, just like it was for us in Germany.

What do you do to help the environment? I need some inspiration!

Image from: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/images/landfill1.jpg

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Brushes with the law

To prepare for our move to Thailand, I need to apply for a Criminal Clearance Record. We were advised to do this as soon as possible, either in our current home or our country of origin. Given my lack of understanding of all things beaurocratic here in Malaysia (basically everything requires a chop (stamp), the costs of which vary by some unknown law), I’m opting to apply for mine from the State of Connecticut, which is officially a Letter of Good Conduct. Fancy. Now, obviously I expect all of this go quite smoothly, although I have had one very, very slight brush with the law.

The year after I graduated university, and was working as a Property Manager in Farmington, CT, I accidentally (and very gently, I might add) rear-ended the car in front of me at the stop sign just outside my old (and absolutely beautiful apartment) in Manchester. The guy in front of me had completely stopped, and then started to drive away, so I took my foot off the brake (I did not step on the gas). At the same time, he slammed on his brake and I bumped him. In the US if you rear-end someone it’s your fault, no matter how it happened so I freaked out a little bit.

The driver of the other car was Eastern European (I am not making any generalizations here, but he wasn’t a very good representative for his part of the world) and he did not want me to call the cops or my insurance company. Pretty soon after I started talking to him I figured out it was a scam and he was just looking for some (probably young, impressionable) American to pay him off. He kept claiming that my insurance would go way up if I called in the accident and that I was better off just giving him $500 or something crazy (there were no scratches or dents). So, being a complete goody goody (and now kind of scared of this strange man), I called the cops and the insurance company. The cops had a few questions and then told me not to pay him any money at all, to get 3 quotes for the non-existent scratches, and pay the repair shop directly.

The guy ended up calling my house every day for weeks trying to get me to give him money. Finally I called the cops myself in an attempt to get him to stop calling me. I never paid him a cent, he never sent me a bill, he just disappeared. It was totally bizarre. And the insurance company didn’t raise my bill at all. So there, Mr. Eastern European scam artist.

Then, of course I have a speeding ticket or two, but that’s about it. Let’s hope this all adds up to a clean criminal record.

Have you had any brushes with the law?

Image 1: http://www.joburg.org.za/images/stop-sign.jpg
Image 2: http://www.fotosearch.com/comp/IMZ/IMZ001/ski0082.jpg

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Alright, I think you know this already, but just in case: I love technology. I can’t get enough of it. I am forever on my Apple PowerBook, e-mailing, blogging, chatting, working on my website, uploading and editing pictures, listening to music, organizing my files, and surfing the Internet. Just about the only thing I don’t do on the computer is play games, and even occasionally I can get hooked into The Sims or Myst or Sim City.

Both my parents and my stepfather (my mom and dad are divorced and remarried) worked for IBM their entire careers so I grew up in a technology rich household. We always had 3 or 4 of those old monsters lying around the house – no Macs though. We went to IBM family days every summer, Christmas parties in December, and I often went to my mom’s office to hang out with her. Computers were a very natural part of our lives. And, ironically, because of that, I actually hated computers growing up. It wasn’t until I got my first job as an IT intern in a middle school that I realized that, in actuality, the technology vibes had been seeping in all those years ago. It turns out that technology was actually my “hidden” passion, so I ended up becoming a technology teacher.

It was at that job that I started using Macs again. We had a lab of brand new Window’s PCs and one iMac. I staunchly refused to touch the iMac for the whole first year – what would I want with that thing? They don’t even let you do anything on a Mac. But, all it took was one teacher who used to consult for Apple to show me iMovie for about 5 minutes and I was hooked. I bought my first Mac about a year after that and I will never go back to PC. In fact, I did most of my job hunt last time around based on which platform the school was running, and that’s certainly going to be a major factor the next time I go recruiting.

I am always spending all of my free time trying to check out new tools and develop creative ways for implementing them in the classroom. There’s always something new with technology – that’s probably what I love most about it.

What is your digital life like?

Image 1: http://www.cnet.com.au/cnet/i/r/2005/mobilecomp/
notebooks/22049640/apple_17inch_powerbook_g4_b.jpg
Image 2: http://www.supplychainer.com/50226711/images/ibm-logo.jpg
Image 3: http://www.sceneandheard.ca/images/ilife.jpg

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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).

Begin:

  • 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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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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