Category Archives: Uncategorized

Get Out The Vote

If you live in the US, you are preparing to vote.  If you aren’t preparing to vote personally, you should be.  Every election is important for one reason or another, whether you are voting for national offices, statewide offices, local offices, or a range of ballot questions.  It is not only your right to vote as a citizen, it is your responsibility to vote- to participate in the civic life of your community.  I don’t know anyone who likes to serve jury duty, but I also don’t know anyone who would say it’s not important to do.  Voting is the same way, only much less dreadful.  It’s important to do, and it’s not unpleasant.  You get a sticker when you’re done, and if you are lucky there might be a bake sale near your polling place and you can buy yourself a treat!  (Sidebar:  I recognize that there are some problems with our electoral systems, and with our system of representation as a whole.  That does not give you the right to opt out of participating in them.  Work to make them better, sure, but participate.)

I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Texas’ politics or government, and the Voter ID law is just awful, but one thing they do get right is Early Voting.  In Texas, 17 days before the election you can vote anywhere in your county.  Anywhere!  Including weekends!  For almost two weeks!  You can just show up and vote.  I think this is fantastic.  We should be making voting easier for more people, not harder.  Every eligible voter should have the opportunity to vote, no matter what.  Not everyone has the opportunity to just “make time” in their day on Election Day.  With two weeks of opportunities, odds are good that everyone can find time somewhere.

We even voted from Malaysia.  I believe in the importance of voting so much so that I negotiated a Malaysian post office for the first time where I encountered a serious language barrier, stood in 3 different lines before finally finding the right line, and spent close to $50.00 USD to make sure our ballots get to Texas on time.  That is how important I think voting is.  Our voices will be heard!

One of my favorite things about voting is getting the “I Voted” sticker.  I really love it, I don’t know why.  Maybe because I think voting is so important I am proud to show off the fact that I stood up for what I believe in.  Since we voted by mail, we did not get stickers this year and I will admit to being sad about that.  So when Word Press designed a badge to post on my blog, you better believe I posted it proudly!  I am really proud that we voted, and now you can see it.  It’s right there in my sidebar, and I’m keeping it up at least through election day.

You can use this tool to find your local voting information and go vote!


Book Buyers

Image Credit: Book Buyers by Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Butterflies in the sky…

Today’s assignment for the Blogging 101 workshop is to respond to a writing prompt, which happens to be about books and reading:

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

I love reading, I always have.  I stay up late reading.  I read all day when I can get away with it.  My favorite weekend or vacation thing to do is stay in bed reading after I wake up.  In fact, life as an expat is ideal for fueling my reading addiction.  Already completed your work for the day?  Great!  Take your book to the pool or the park.  Want to relax for a few minutes before/after the day’s excursion?  Time to read!  Because I set my own schedule, I make a lot of time to read.

Another thing that has helped feed my reading addiction is my Kindle.  The advent of the Kindle is fantastic for people who like to read, who are secretly a little lazy, and who like to spend less money on books.  I download library books all the time.  I can get a library book any time of the day or night and there are no late fees when I inevitably forget to return it on time!  There are plenty of books online that you can get right now for less than you would buy the paperback version.  I can have a new book any time I want.  My Kindle has not 100% replaced actual books in my life, but it’s hard to argue with the easy access to any book you want any time you want.  (One big downside is that relying on your Kindle makes it difficult to support local bookstores.  Supporting local bookstores is really important, and I do that too whenever I can.)

The Blogging 101 daily assignments are posted around 8am my time.  I usually read them after breakfast with my second cup of coffee, ponder for a while, and then write (or do whatever the assignment asks) in the afternoon when I’m done with my day’s tasks.  As it so happens, this morning, before I even looked at the assignment and writing prompt, I downloaded four new books to my Kindle.  The stars could not have aligned better for me today.

Before I tell you about my new books, I’m going to tell you about a book I recently read: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  I first heard of Orphan Train on my library’s ebook page.  Just like Amazon, my old library had a “suggestions for you” section based on your history.  I thought it looked mildly interesting and put it on my wish list without reserving it.  When I was browsing books on Amazon when we first got to KL, it came up again.  I put it on my wish list again without buying it.  (This is what I do.  I find books that look interesting and put them on my wish list.  Eventually I get around to reading them.  It’s comforting to have a list of books ready for me when I’m ready for a new book.  It’s like a security blanket.)  Last week I decided I was ready to read it…it also may or may not have been on Amazon’s daily special.  I have a fondness for books at a discount:  “But it’s only $2!  Even if it’s terrible, I only spent a couple of bucks on it.  And maybe I’ll like it.”

Orphan Train is fiction based on an actual event in American History:  orphans from New York were put on a train to the Midwest and an aid society tried to place them with families.  Sometimes it was a family who wanted to legitimately adopt a child, sometimes it was a family who wanted extra labor.  I’ll skip a long summary of the book; if you’re interested, you can find one here.  In the notes at the end, the author makes several recommendations for further reading which I bookmarked for the next time I needed a book.

Back to today.  I was ready for a non-fiction book, so I looked for one of those recommended books and chose Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story.  Then something made me remember a book I had seen on the Daily Show a while back, so I looked for it:  The Girls of Atomic City.  If I remember correctly, it’s about a town that was involved in building atomic bombs in WW2, but no one working there knew that’s what they were doing.  Then I browsed the Daily Deals and found that Don Quixote was available for $1.99 (USD) today, so I picked that one up.  Again, any time I can get a book for two bucks, I’ll do it.  Especially if it’s a great work like this.  I also picked up a book that I’ve heard a lot of good things about, Americanah.  To be honest, I have no idea what it’s about.  But people I know and respect have liked it, so I’m in.

To loop back to the original prompt, I think I am pretty balanced between fiction and non-fiction in general.  The books I chose today demonstrate that- two of each.  The fiction books I picked up were mostly “on a whim” decisions.  I don’t think I have a complex methodology for choosing fiction books in general.  I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately, but I really read anything.  If it looks good, I’ll give it a shot.  I really like non-fiction books, too, because I love learning things.  There are so many things to know about the world, and there are so many great books about those things.  It’s fun to learn about something you don’t know anything about.  Reading a great non-fiction book is a fantastic way to learn something or gain a new perspective!  If a book makes me consider the world in a new or different way, I’m really happy.  Non-fiction books I have recently enjoyed: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about a specific woman who made medical history and the ethical considerations around it, and The Warmth of Other Suns, about several people who left the Jim Crow South for better opportunities.  Both are really excellent books that tell great stories.

Audience participation time:  What books have you read and loved?  What should I put on my security blanket wish list?

Dream Reader Challenge

So I mentioned I enrolled in this Blogging 101 course; we get an assignment every day that is designed to help us learn how to do something.  Sometimes the assignment is to write a post, sometimes it’s to do something specific.  For example, yesterday our assignment was to find 5 new blogs and 5 new topics to follow.  Today’s assignment is “write a post for your Dream Reader and include a new-to-you element.”

I started this blog to share our expat adventures in Kuala Lumpur and beyond.  At the beginning, my only dream readers were our family and friends.  I know our parents read it and I know several of our close friends read it, so mission accomplished!  I thought about not participating in the challenge today, but I decided that the real goal of this course is not only to complete each assignment but also (mostly?) to learn how to use the tools available to me and to stretch myself as a blogger.  If I skip challenges that I think I already know how to do, then I am cheating myself out of learning something.  If I skipped today, I wouldn’t have a chance to try a new trick!

I decided I would address this post to the people in the “blogosphere” who have found my blog and are reading it and/or following it.  In a way, you all are my true dream readers.  Our family and friends are obligated to support us, or else they wouldn’t hear from us for a year.  But you all…you have made an active choice to read what we write!  I’m truly touched you think it’s worth reading.  I’m glad you stopped in, it’s nice to have you here!

Here’s what I hope you’ll find in this blog:

If you’re an expat yourself, I hope you find a shared experience.  No matter where you start and where you go, moving away from your home base can be difficult.  The daily rhythm to life is different and you have to adjust to it- like spending so much time in malls.  Tell me what it’s like where you are and what are some things you’re getting used to!

If you’re a traveler, I hope you learn a little about what it’s like to be a tourist in Kuala Lumpur (and where ever else we go).  Maybe you’ll decide that KL seems like the place for your next trip!  Or maybe you’ve already been here and you can reminisce about your experiences.  Tell me what you loved, or where you’ve been.  We want to travel around Southeast Asia more, do you have a recommendation for a great place you’ve been?

If you’re not a traveler, whether it’s because you are a homebody or it’s not in the cards for you for any reason, I hope you get to experience KL through our eyes.  Tell me what questions you have about what we’re doing/thinking/feeling.

Actually, I think that’s what I hope any reader finds here.  I hope you all get to experience KL through our eyes.  So, Dream Reader – family, friends, or internet readers – thanks for coming along with us on our amazing adventure!

And now, for my next trick!

I wasn’t sure what “new-to-you” trick I would try.  In looking at the list of instructions for how to use various new elements, I decided to try to embed a map.  I had been thinking about making a new page with a map, to show the places where we travel.  Since we’ve arrived, we haven’t traveled outside of KL.  But we have big plans!  Besides following our pictures and adventures, now you can also check out the map on the Road Trip Page.