Monthly Archives: January 2010


Okay, so I (Kara) know that the RIOs are interesting, but I have to post pics of my girl because she is getting so big and growing so fast! Just yesterday I found three new molars that I didn’t even know had come in yet. Thank the Lord they are not as hard to cut as the front teeth! And goodness – now that she is walking, she is unstoppable! It’s hard for me to keep up with her :).


At our language school there is a “playgroup” which is more like a pre-school class for little ones that meets on Tuesday and Friday mornings for an hour. All the kids except Elizabeth are Indonesians from the surrounding community. When we first moved here I didn’t have the language skills to understand what was going on, but now I can actually talk to the other moms! Elizabeth goes to the class for 1-3 year-olds, and the moms are in there with them. The kids usually have a play time, then sing songs, learn about something simple like flowers or food with a craft or activity, wash their hands, have a snack time, and then have some time to play outside. There are still many cultural differences that I am adjusting to, but it’s a great learning experience for me too!

Here is some video of her walking around and playing with the other children and teachers.

Elizabeth at KPN Playgroup 22Jan2010 from Matt Menger on Vimeo.

I also want to encourage both English and Indonesian for Elizabeth, so it helps that she has separate and unique times to hear Indonesian from native speakers. She is starting to imitate everything that we say and make all sorts of animal sounds, so this is prime language-learning time for her. She understands both languages right now, but uses mostly English when she wants something. This is such an interesting process!

Here are a few more pictures. If you have trouble finding Elizabeth just look for the blond hair :).







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RIO #6

Ok, this might be more like RIO #5.5, because it is related to electricity.  The photos below are of power line poles here.  I have no idea how the electric company figures out what is going on, but everything works! 

Though it looks just like a big bird’s nest of wires, I am sympathetic to the electric company’s plight.  If you were to walk around our kampung (dense neighborhood) you would see that there are little streets and alleys going everywhere, and there’s absolutely no way of doing nice big poles down the side of the street with a neat little wire going to each house. 


We were walking around the other day when we saw these and realized that we had to share this.  Sometimes we get so used to things here we forget just how different they can be!


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RIO #5


RIO #5 is the light bulb.  Here, everyone uses CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Bulbs) for everything. As before, the reason is efficiency – a 23W CFL bulb puts out around the same amount of light as a 100W incandescent bulb.  When you think about it, when the amount of power your home has is measured in hundreds of watts, using CFLs starts making more sense!  The economics of using an efficient light bulb are the most important thing here. 

When I think about our house, if we used standard incandescent light bulbs, about 50% of our home’s power would run just the lights.  That leaves only half to power all the big stuff like the fridge and microwave!  By using CFLs, we use only 15% of our home’s power for lights. 

While they do look a little different than the warm, rich glow of the incandescent bulb, we’ve gotten used to them.  Though they do make a yellow, “natural” colored CFL, it’s not quite the same and doesn’t have the warmth of a good old power-hogging incandescent one!


On a random note, here’s some interesting things I found in a store here a few days ago. No idea how they got here!  Maybe manufactured somewhere around here? 

(sorry for the low quality -  taken from my phone)




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R.I.O. #4

Here’s the next Random Indonesian Object – the power strip.  Homes here have about 1/3 as many outlets as American homes, so that leads to some creative solutions to getting power around the house.  Just to give you an idea, we have 9 outlets in our house, and each outlet is only for 1 plug.  Of those outlets, exactly ZERO are in the living room.  So that means lots of extension cables running all over the place.  The is a normal situation here: the most common type of power strip you can buy is a circular type with four outlets and a 10-15 meter cord (pictured below). 


This particular power strip is from an outlet in Elizabeth’s bedroom, and the cord runs around the corner and into our living room so we can power our DSL modem and WiFi router, since that’s where the telephone cable is. 

Here’s a few pictures of the power strip on my desk:



And yes, if you are wondering, that half plugged-in plug is that way on purpose so that it gets a good connection. 

Electricity is very different here, and there’s not nearly as much of it.  For instance, our entire house runs on 2200 Watts, coming from ONE breaker.  This is the breaker box for our house:IMG_3070The average American home probably has at least 10-15 breakers in that big, grey breaker box.  I will freely admit that I am not an engineer like most of the other members of my family, but just to give you an idea, here’s a chart of some example appliances and their approximate wattages that I found online:

Appliance Watts
hair dryer 2000W
microwave 1300W
convection oven 2000W
central A/C (2.5 ton) 3000W
coffee maker 900W

Our fridge, computers, TV, lights, fans, microwave, etc. all run on just 2200 Watts.  We have to think about what we’re running at the same time, and it’s pretty routine to trip that breaker.  So, energy efficiency is a priority here, but for economic and practical reasons.

We have learned to check the wattage of every appliance before we buy it, especially since Kara wanted to get a nice iron and bought one without looking at the watts first. It was 2100 Watts and worked for 2 minutes with everything else in the house off before blowing the breaker. Needless to say, we are MUCH more aware of how much energy everything takes and sort of marvel at how much electricity a single house has in America! Most appliances here are made to be low-wattage since houses don’t have much electricity to work with, and most of them run very efficiently. This has definitely shown us how we can live on a lot less electricity if we need to!

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