December 25, 2009

Bulk view

Getting ready for a long trip

My flight is at 1 PM tomorrow. I’ve checked and re-checked my luggage weight, reviewed my list of things to bring, ran through scenarios in my head. I’ve scanned and photocopied my passport, numerous visas, work permits, immigration paperwork, and proofs of funds. I have an encrypted copy of the scans on my server and another copy on our desktop at home.

I’ve fretted over the size of my cat carrier and possible litter-box options for my 8-hour Detroit layover. I’ve practised my Japanese in case I need to explain myself at the Nagoya airport on the way back. (Neko wa watashi to Firipin kara Kanada e ikimasu…)

My coworkers have step-by-step instructions for the different tasks I do. “Just in case I drown,” I said. They probably thought I was joking. I’ve set up my out-of-office message with a link to a mindmap that captures most of what I know.

I’m not too stressed out about travel, but I do like making sure that we have solid backup plans.

I have blog posts scheduled for the next two weeks or so. Enjoy!


Christmas gift-giving tends to be a little stressful for me. My defence used to be that holidays shouldn’t be about gifts unless Santa Claus is involved. Those adopt-a-family gift drives at work? It sounds like a good idea, but I feel uneasy about requests for Xbox games or branded clothes.

I’m working on that, though. I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I’m surprised by a gift, and I’m coming to realize that gift-giving is a neat little way to build relationships.

I’d still prefer it to be spread out over the year, though.

When I come across something I think someone will enjoy, I can’t wait to give it to them. For example, I could have stashed the micro-fleece sheets somewhere in the house, waiting until Christmas to give them. I decided more days of warmth were better than more days of anticipation. (Okay, so that was also a self-serving gift, but you get the point. ;) )

In addition to my impatience, I find it difficult to think of things to give people. I don’t shop recreationally (easier to avoid temptations and practice frugality!), so good deals or interesting items seldom cross my radar. My parents and sisters can buy whatever they want.

I don’t really need anything, and I like saving up for experiences and tools. What I really want for Christmas: Shared time. Shared fun. Donations to philanthropic organizations. More people sharing what they know.

My middle sister and her fiance, on the other hand, have a real flair for gift-giving. They think about all the staff at the office and all the people they meet on trips, and they come up with wonderfully individual gifts for each.

Me, I’m glad that my middle sister and my mom sent me their wishlists. I don’t mind learning about gift-giving using training wheels. I’d like to get better at noticing people’s interests. I suspect that my gift-giving will involve horrible puns. I’m giving my eldest sister and her husband a gift for adventurous people who’ve been there, done that. I’m giving my dad a gift related to passion and energy.

I’d rather make things for people than buy people things, though. I’d rather give people jams and jellies, cakes and cookies, biscuits and bars. I want to learn how to sew organizers, make scarves, duct-tape wallets.

So we’ll see how this gift-giving thing works out. Has anyone deliberately tried learning this? Any thoughts?