This is more of a note to myself for future reference. Christine and I regularly head to Costco, so we typically have a decent pantry load. I learned some lessons from Hurricane Irene last year, so here are the items we made sure we had… and some I missed.
- Batteries – We always have these (Costco), but I bought more at Radio Shack as they were a two for one deal
- Flashlights – We only have two of these that take batteries we have
- Water – We already had bottled water
- Toilet Paper – Already had plenty from our last Costco trip
- Paper Cups – I bought some of these.. they’re a good thing to have when you don’t really want to be doing dishes by hand
- Radio – Last year I used a cell phone I bought in India that had a built in FM radio and an ipod dock to play the radio for us to get both news and entertainment. This year I bought a nifty Grundig shortwave radio (always wanted one)
- Propane – We have natural gas, but a full tank for grilling is a must
- Groceries – We have a bunch of canned goods, but having some fruit, cold cuts, bread, bacon, eggs, etc is good.
- Ice – When we lose power, we need something to put in the cooler to keep everything cold
Beyond supplies, there are actions we took to be better prepared:
- Laundry – Christine has cleaned everything, so we wont need to do laundry for a long while
- Dishes – I ran the dishwasher ahead of time to make sure nothing funky is brewing in there while we are without power
- Charging – Laptops, phones, ipod dock, Kindles, etc are all plugged in and ready
- Fridge Temperature – Turned that down so it stays cooler longer
Some things I wish I had done and should do next time:
- Make sure we have dog food.. we happen to have enough though
- More interesting food… I am not super keen to have cold cut sandwiches for days.. should have picked up some good meat for grilling
- Corded phone… we have a landline, might as well have a real way to use it without power
- UPS – Some backup power for the wifi/cable modem would be nice
During the last two weeks, I have been working from home a lot more to take care of our new puppy, Piper. Since I am housebreaking her, I am not working in my office upstairs but down in the living room at the coffee table. I am sitting on a terrible couch that has lot its firmness over the years. But butt hurts, so I am constantly squirming and changing positions. During phone conferences, I typically am standing (or pacing) which is better.
But it has me thinking about office space. I’ve visited a bunch of offices of start ups and seen some really progressive things. Yoga balls, exercise desks, really ergonomic setups. Some have had themes that make me think of Disney World.
Places like Accenture that have consultants that are often tasked out have floating desks. But typically the nesting urge takes over and folks work at the same desk daily.
Well, I am not looking for a fancy new age environment.. but one thing I would like is some variety. I suppose it wouldn’t work in reality when most folks what to nest in one comfortable spot. But that’s what I am craving right now.. the ability to spend a few hours at a normal desk, then maybe move to a stand up station, maybe the next day work in an outdoor space.
I have been in China for just over a week now. Kodak has a super talented office in Shanghai. More specifically in the expat-heavy Pudong area. This is good for me as it means I have access to western things (read: food). In the neighborhood I can walk to the super-store Carrefour (much like Walmart.. which also exists here but isn’t in my neighborhood). In there I can buy virtually anything (except pharmaceuticals as simple as Advil..).
Fortunately I have some good friends in China (just spent the weekend visiting one in Hangzhou), but it still can be lonely traveling by yourself to a country where you don’t speak the local language (note to self: learn Chinese). Even the western folks (read: white people) that I run into are not keen to engage in conversation (they tend not to be English speaking from what I overhear).
The Internet is filtered here (google it, I am not bothering with explaining the details). And TV is likewise limited. I brought some books, but there is only so much time you can spend reading. So I work.. not healthy, but it occupies my time.. and it is a business trip so I might as well give the company their money’s worth.
But I have come up with a list of things for any future trip I have the opportunity to go on (other business trips have never demanded such a list).
- Bring a USB drive loaded with movies and TV. An ipad would suffice.
- Alternatively, I would buy a cheap DVD player and leave it at the office for future stays (and coworkers). There are lots of DVDs available on the sidewalk.
- Bring medications. It’s a huge pain to get over the counter drugs, so just bring plenty. Coming to a time zone shift such as this (13 hours from New York), you should bring your favourite sleeping aid (normally I go with the pain killer PM version).
- Bring travelers cheques. I have never had to bring these before, but I’ve found the ATMs to be a total nightmare in China and my credit cards are not accepted always.
- Find a way to relieve stress. The culture and pace here is insane. The driving is really something (Hangzhou being worse than Shanghai). Everyone is in a rush. It’s go-go-go, me-me-me all the time. I tend to remain relaxed but after over a week it has gotten to me.
- In the winter months it’s REALLY cold. The temperature might say 10 degrees celsius (50F) but at least in Shanghai, it is damp.. you feel the cold.
- It’s really cold. Bring warm shoes in the cooler months.
- It’s really cold. Bring plenty of layers in the cooler months.
All in all, it has been a good experience albeit exhausting. I highly recommend visiting Hangzhou.. I’ll post pictures eventually. If you go, stay at the Rulai Free Soul inn. The location is great and it’s a nice calm retreat.
I didn’t take the time to research this ahead of time, I expected the experience to be pretty typical for applying for a travel visa. It’s something I have to go through pretty much every time I leave the country. Being South African I rarely can have automatic entry.
Kodak is sending me off to Shanghai to visit our office there… next week. So off I went to 12th Ave and 42nd St to the Chinese Consulate. I googled their web site and printed out the form (which has to be completed within Acrobat, not hand written). I also had a letter from the Kodak office in China stating the purpose of my visit clearly. The web site didn’t list a whole lot of other requirements (unlike India, but that is another story).
So I get up extra early today and hop on the train. The web site I did find advised against going after 10am because it gets busy then. Well, I think everyone sees that and goes early!
First step was to get a photo. I did see some comments online that they can be strict about passport photos – plus I was too lazy to go to CVS ahead of time. So I head over to the photo man in there, who declined to speak to me and instead used cardboard signs with printed english. I suppose that avoids a lot of repetitions. It was somewhat painless, though I don’t recommend anyone looks at the resulting photograph! I will not be posting mine online to share.
So I wait in a very slow moving line for a couple of hours before I make it to the window. Meanwhile I keep seeing folks leaving the windows to go use an old copy machine to photocopy things like their passport and returning to other lines. The lady behind the glass was pleasant enough to smile, but after looking at my form and speaking with another lady handed me a highlighted piece of paper stating that I filled out the wrong form and here is the web site to go and get the right form. I ended up there for two multiple-hour visits (with a break for lunch.. they close from 12:00-13:00h). Don’t be me.
So my advice is this:
- Be sure to have the right form froms here: http://www.nyconsulate.prchina.org/eng/lsyw/lszjx/sbqz/df/
- Bring a photocopy of everything – passport, green card, etc. Just in case.
- Have lots of patience.
TL/DR – Make sure you have the right forms – bring a photocopy of your passport and green card
My mind is racing with too many things right now.. so let me get to the point. I found a great online tutorial for creating a 3D model of a house in Google’s very awesome Sketchup tool (grab it here: http://sketchup.google.com/download/)
I started thinking about it because Christine and I are going through the process of buying our first home. We’re using the best realtor in the world, Jenny Buchanan – and the best mom in the world. It’s new construction, which gives us the rare opportunity of actually having architectural plans for the home. Being the model home, we didn’t pick and choose the changes to the plans, but the copy of the plans I have are close enough for me to work with.
Next step, I am going to scan the plans into my Mac. From there I will trace everything into Sketchup. I am so glad I stumbled onto this tutorial because I was going to just do it from scratch.. and tracing is so much more efficient!
I came across this quote in a newspaper or article a long time ago, and was recently talking to a colleague about work/life balance and quickly did a google search to find this quote again (I didn’t feel my summation did the quote justice).
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the Air.
You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.
But the other four Balls - Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.” – Brian Dyson (CEO of Coca Cola)
While I do agree with this quote, there is also a tendency to feel like the balls are dangerously attached to each-other. While your work ball might be made of rubber, the string (or sometimes a chain) can feel too tightly wound with the other balls. Drop the work ball, and it might pull down the other balls Unless you’re independently wealthy of course.
Fortunately, in my experience you can drop that rubber ball a few times before things turn nasty.
This time of year, stress levels are high for most of us. It’s a busy time with family and friends, it’s the time for the end of year push at work, and it’s also a time where money doesn’t stretch far enough. With all of that craziness, we all should be sure to keep an eye on what is really important.
So, my site went down several weeks ago.. I was very lazy about putting it back online. I don’t really make much time for the site. Unfortunately I did lose a bunch of attachments, hopefully I will be able to recover them at some point..
I am considering open sourcing a bunch of code that I wrote 5-10 years ago… should have released it sooner, but I am quite surprised at how relevant some of it is. More later..