Day 752

1. Acquiring a pair of funky snow/schlep-around-town boots at a reasonable price.  They are a departure from my usual “conservative/casual” attire – and I like that.  :)

2. Enjoying the slight warm-up the city experienced today.  A few degrees really can feel like a notable difference.

3. Appreciating a well-timed reminder:

delights_wisdom

Stef

Day 751

1. Working from home.  Not only did I get hours of uninterrupted time (which I used to plow through a very detail-oriented task), but I also got to wear jammies all day long!  Uuber-productive + uuber-comfortable = uuber-awesome.  

2. Learning about a long list of toys that help develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills in kids.  Wonderful!  If you need to purchase a gift for a child, definitely consider getting them a STEM-related one.  The benefits (and fun!) will last a LONG time.

3. Reading a series of “life hacks” that made me laugh:

life hack1 life hack2

Stef

Day 750

1. Being “on my game” today.  It felt good.

2. Experiencing completely random moments of shared experiences with an older gentleman (whom I took a class from this evening – Community Education strikes again!).  :)  One example: The man mentioned how he had just come from visiting a friend in hospice – so we shared a few brief stories about our various hospice volunteer experiences.  When I asked about his kids, he explained that one of his sons was a Buddhist monastic for four years – and the man was very surprised to learn that I knew “quite a lot” about meditation.  When I asked where his son was a monastic, the man answered, “Japan – in Kyoto” – then asked me if I had ever been to Japan.  Well, interestingly…. I just got back from there!  We shared about six other unexpected situations; it was a crazy, kooky, awesome night.

3. Encountering public art in unexpected places.  More happy surprises!

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Stef

Day 749

1. Learning about the Internet of Things.  I have heard this term before (and have read about the concept without knowing that is what I was reading); and every time I come into contact with this notion, I am kind of blown away.  It’s amazing to me how technology continues to change the world. 

2. Seeing my large work group create dozens of blankets for children in need in less than 90 minutes.  When a bunch of driven business professionals get to work on a volunteer task, the results can be darn impressive.

3. Winter is often viewed as the ugly step sister of the seasons; but today I got to be reminded that the cold months can be charming in their own special way:

The view from my window at work.

The view from my window at work.

Stef

Day 748

1. Getting 100% caught up on work emails, even after being away from the office for over a week.  Pretty incredible.

2. Sharing brief Japan stories with colleagues who genuinely wanted to hear them.  To give someone your genuine attention is an amazing gift.

3. Learning a lot of cool facts about my city!
- 3 is smart
- 5 is a lifesaver in the winter
- 7 is near and dear to my MIL
- 10 & 11 are fantastic
- 13 is cool
- 16 & 20 are different, yet similar – and awesome
- 25 makes England jealous
- 27 makes Silicon Valley jealous
- 29 feels like an awesome item to add to the Beyond 101 list
- 31 is terrific
- 37 is a super-cool place and space
- 43 – wow!
- 45 – for my dad
- 46 – for my mom

Source: Flickr user Anthony Arrigo

Source: Flickr user Anthony Arrigo

Stef

Day 747

1. Sleeping in my comfy bed.  So warm and snuggly.

2. Being 100% finished with jet lag.  Not too shabby for being only the second day back home!  
(For anyone interested, my tricks to beating jet lag are at the bottom of this post.) 

3. Learning about an organization that provides holiday gifts to elderly individuals who are in need of a bit of care and compassion.  Many organizations exist to help make the holidays brighter for children, families, and the homeless – but often times the elderly are left out of the mix. I love that at least one group has this special population in mind.  

Stef

Post Script: My tricks to beating jet lag:

  • Drink a lot of water during the travel period.  [I used the restroom every 2 hours or so.]
  • Don’t drink alcohol, soda, or coffee during the travel period.
  • Eat small snacks during the travel period.  [They can be frequent, but each one should be small.]
  • Sleep no more than 2 hours on the plane.
  • Schedule your arrival at your final destination to occur between 5-8 pm local time.  That way you can get to sleep shortly after you check-in/get home, and will get on the local schedule more quickly and relatively painlessly.
  • Do not nap during the day.  Go for a walk, go shopping, go sightseeing – do whatever it takes to stay awake until at least 8 pm local time.

Day 746

1. Having a vet nurse pet sit our puppies while we were away in Japan, since one of them got rather ill while we were away.  We are all lucky that he was in very capable hands!

2. Spending lots of cuddle time with the pups.  Despite having to make an unplanned vet visit on our first day back in town, these two guys are a great welcome home.

3. Processing the final pics from Japan.  Here is a collection of randomness.  :)

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Stef

Day 745

1. Having a final tasty meal in Japan…

Udon noodles in a miso broth with kelp and scallions.  Not what I thought I was ordering, but tasty nonetheless.  (Whew!)  :)

Udon noodles in a miso broth with kelp and scallions. Not what I thought I was ordering, but tasty nonetheless. (Whew!) :)

2. …and enjoying a final bit of foreign language immersion (complete with animated visuals)…

If I got my dress caught in the escalator, I'd be upset, too.

If I got my dress caught in the escalator, I’d be upset, too.

3. …before heading on the final train back to the airport:

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Stef 

Day 744

1. All of the cute store merchants who speak a few words of English to me as they ring up my purchase.  I always speak the VERY limited Japanese I know (i.e., “kudasai” [please] and “arigato” [thank you]), and most people say “arigato” in return.  But a few young women have said “thank you” back to me (in quiet voices), and one even said, “Have a nice day” (in a more confident tone).  Aw, what a sweetheart.  Hearing even four words of English spoken directly to me is quite lovely.

2. Spending the day walking around Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

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3. …and spending the night taking in the bright lights of the big city.

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Stef

Day 743

1. Sitting next to my sweetie while he ate at a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant.  Conveyor-belt sushi in Tokyo – that’s pretty darn cool.

2. In Japan, “tipping” is simply not done.  Everyone is paid the stated price, and not one yen more.  In fact, merchants don’t ever verbally say the total price of a transaction; they simply point to the number on the cash register, show a number on a calculator (for local mom-and-pop shops), or point to a number on a hand-written bill (for restaurants and cafes).  I adore the transparency and integrity of this financial process. 

3. Having an amazing restaurant experience in Tokyo (though not for the reasons you might think).  :)

beer bistro tokyo

Stef