Rupert the bear’s giant uncle

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Back when I first got Missy and Molly from the shelter, I also added Rupert to the family and eventually deemed him Missy’s boyfriend because she loves to massage him so much. A few weeks ago, Panda and I were at Costco (check out their cute video) when we came across what can only be described as Rupert’s uncle. Or granddad.

 

giant teddy bear at costco

This guy is impressive. He is absolutely MASSIVE at 93″ tall and who knows how many pounds. I could barely lift up the top half that I’m holding here. There’s no way I could have dragged him out of the bin without assistance. You could potentially use him as a backup mattress if you ran out of guest beds. I mean, I had an easier time dragging my LoveSac around. Poor Rupert looks measly at just 53″ tall (feel free to send him condolences if you’d like). Check out how his cousin of identical size, Gogobear, compares to us human folk.

As you might suspect, the price tag on this giant teddy is hefty too, at just under $180. But gosh, think of the awesome things you could do with this guy, including some pretty awesome photo shoots. Costco has sold out of their first batch, but promised more to come this spring. In the mean time, get your fix on the Facebook page for this guy! You bet I’ve liked it. :) Since I have Rupert though, I won’t be getting one of these

Wellness Challenge

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At work, we are participating in a wellness challenge to try to get us to live healthier, more active lives. It’s made me painfully conscious of how inactive I am! I started tracking my steps and I’m averaging just 2000 steps a day, which is way below the 10k that so many people shoot for.

However, I have been eating better and avoiding unhealthy snacks, so that has certainly been helpful. I am also more aware of how balanced my meals are and how much I’m chewing. Did you know there are digestive enzymes in your mouth that aren’t found later in your digestive tract? Apparently chewing your food more helps you absorb more of the goodness. It probably also tricks me to thinking I ate more because I spent so much time chewing.

The two weeks went by so fast I could hardly remember what I’d done! I think it would have been less intimidating if there weren’t so many ways to earn points (which ones do I choose to focus on?!) and if it was relative to our habits prior to the challenge. Some people already work out a lot, walk a lot, or track their food consumption. Still, it’s been a good way to bring these habits to light and really make us think more about what we’re doing.

The coolest cards

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Back in the fall, when Panda and I went to Hong Kong, I came back with these awesome cards. Let me share them in more detail, because they’re just so cool.

collage of five 3d cards that pop open to ferris wheels, eiffel tower, ship with sails, and dragon designs

The cards are a heavy stock, with a nice ridged texture. Each cover has a nice image but into it, giving you a preview of what’s inside. As you start to open them, that’s when the magic happens. You might not have expected 3D cards, but then something pops out! These are designed at an angle so they will fold nicely and flatten out, but then stand up into a fantastic 3D design.

colorful 3d ferris wheel card open

I first noticed this one, which was too good to pass up.

colorful 3d ferris wheel card top

If only it turned too!

purple 3d ferris wheel card open

I couldn’t resist getting this one for myself. #ilovepurple

purple 3d ferris wheel card top

Check out the dangly little carts. Love this detail.

3d dragon card open

I also chose this one for myself to keep. It’s sitting on my desk at work.

3d dragon card top

This one needed extra support so they designed those waves.

3d eiffel tower card open

I picked this out for my coworker who is a Francophile like me!

3d eiffel tower card top

I like how it has the map of France too.

3d ship card open

And for the guy, I thought this was super cool. Reminds me of a pirate ship.

3d ship card top

Look at all the parallel lines it uses! I’m fascinated by how they designed these things.

Tandem weights

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Panda and I seem to be in sync when it comes to our weights. We’re mostly around 122-124, with some spikes after eating a lot. Of course, he is a few inches taller so he’s certainly more slim overall. It’s funny how our natural weights just seem to coincide though. Recently when we weighed ourselves, we had both gained some weight. It must be from all the lazing around in the winter, so now we’re nearly 130! I’m sure it’ll go back down as the weather warms up again and we resume a higher level of activity in general. I wonder how many couples out there can say they weigh the same…

pair of women's feet on scalepair of men's feet on scale

So what

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if I subscribe to newsletters but never read them.
if I eat dessert first.
if I field test clothes with tags on them even after I decide to keep them.
if I order two appetizers and an entree for lunch.
if I obsess over checking in on Yelp.
if I practice my signature for potential autographing needs as an author.
if I am super particular about how I add pictures to FB (it’s a 12-step process).
if I forget to share pics for months (mostly because of my complicated FB posting process).
if I test the limits of my memory space (and I forgot why I wrote this).
if I drop my phone three times a day.
if I keep way too many lists.
if I prance around barefoot when possible.
if I notice your little ticks (and it kind of bothers me).
if I don’t care for pop culture.
if I drink hot water even in the summer.
if I eat all I want and don’t gain weight.
if I am always the exception.
if I sometimes resent my cat for not snuggling with me.
if I check the mail always hoping for a package even when I’m not expecting something.
if I can’t seem to rid my life of clutter.

Gifting Yuzen boxes

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I’m lucky enough to get Yuzen boxes sent to me and I had some extra this year, so I decided to gift some to my friends at work. I was trying to decide between bringing in all the same box (the winter one) or three completely different ones. I was talking to Panda about this and he voted for equality across the board. He figured that way one person wouldn’t be less pleased because she wanted something that came in another box. I thought it could be fun to have them trade with each other if they wanted. What do you think?

three people's hands each on a different yuzen box lined up

Each gal claimed her mystery box!

I ultimately decided to ask the ladies and they all said it’d be more fun to have different things, so that’s exactly what I did. I brought in a winter box, summer box, and one of the gift boxes with a mix of items from previous boxes. With each packaged in the same outer box, I shuffled them up and as I pulled them out, they each lay claim to one. It was fun to watch them open them and see what they thought of what was in their box. It’s amusing how perfectly it turned out too – one person was super excited about the shower bombs and sleep essential oil in the winter box and another loved the lash serum from the summer box. Meanwhile, the third was drawn to the hand cream and foot cream in the gift box (I think the nail polish was rather fitting for her and her daughter too).

I found it interesting that we all thought variety would spice things up and make it more entertaining, whereas Panda would have gone the conservative route and offered the same thing to all. Is it a difference in personalities? Do I just tend to get along with people who like a little sprinkle of uniqueness? Who knows. All I know is that it couldn’t have worked out better. I’m happy, they’re happy, we’re all happy. :) And so goes the season of giving!

I think I got food poisoning

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It’s probably the old sushi I ate earlier. My intestines were killing me and I had to chug hot water. I could taste bile rising as I curled in agony. Now I’m a little hungry but afraid to eat. I guess the best solution is to sleep.

When the weather is dreary…

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We are so listless

We are so down

Lethargy is tangible in the air and conversations consist of how icky it is outside, how tired we are, how awful it all is…

All I want to do is drink cozy hot drinks like apple cider, hot chocolate, and tea. I want a fireplace to sit near, a soft comfy couch. I don’t want to have to think too hard. I don’t want to go outside.

My coworkers feel it too. We commiserate over the lack of light, lack of energy, and short days. Was it this bad last year? I suppose it was, but at least we had a room where we could close the door and turn up the music. This time around we barely see each other. I’m often off in a room or a corner, conducting a demo or webinar. When I’m at my desk, our faces are all buried in our computer screens. The day drags, yet the time still flies. The longest week manages to be the shortest and the weekends never last. Soon enough, we’re at it again. It gets darker earlier and earlier. Oftentimes it’s raining, cold. There’s no hope of getting home when it’s still light out. Oh how I miss the fairer seasons.

Yet, I get home and after dinner the night zooms past. Too soon, I need to rest but my body and mind aren’t ready to. If only there were more hours in the day, right? So then I succumb, finally. Rest is a wonderful thing. While it may be gloomy outside and totally zapping my motivation to move, at least it’s warm in here. If only I could sleep in a little more and just enjoy it.

The death of email

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I hate email. I think it’s one of the most inefficient things out there. I mean, just look at how hard it is to maintain your inbox and keep everything organized. Sure, you can leave messages for all sorts of people, from those you actually know to those you want to. But the way that technology has evolved, there should be a better way. If we could only throw off the shackles of our habits and start anew, our interactions on the internet would be nothing like email as we know it.

Here’s how I envision it: we have what you can still consider an inbox. People can send messages to it and you can reply, but there is no need for including their original message. Everything is threaded in a flow like instant messaging. You can scroll through the entire conversation and collapse it for easy navigation. When you want to create a different string of conversation, you just click new and choose who to message and what to say. When you want to attach a file, it’s loaded for easy previewing and downloading right in a sidebar. No need to search through which email actually contained the attachment. If you want to loop someone in, you just add them to the conversation. They can scroll back to see what had already happened in the conversation. If you don’t want them to see that part, start a new conversation by copying the current one and choosing what to exclude.

For organization purposes, as you view these, you can choose to file them into folders of your choosing, give them tags for keywords that weren’t explicitly mentioned in the conversation, or archive them (like in Gmail). Of course you can also create filters to put certain messages into the baskets you like. You can search for anything within a conversation, file name, or person’s name. If you’re on a group email (such as “support@yoursite.com”) and multiple recipients get the message but only one needs to reply, you can easily choose ownership of one to indicate to others that you’ve got it. No need to reply all just to let them know NOT to reply as well. Ownership can be changed at any time and your copy gets archived away. Replies can also be public, if someone else may need to reply to the thread to help out the person next time (much like those support tickets work).

I think if you combine the best of email, messaging, and support ticket management services, you could have an awesome tool. Each on its own is rather lacking in a variety of departments and it makes me not want to use any of them. Where’s the consolidated place I can manage all the digital correspondence in my life? Why do I need to mash together texts and emails and what have you to try to have a conversation? I was really hopeful back when Google Wave was launched. I thought it could be a much better replacement for email, but it just didn’t take off. I’m still searching for that awesome new thing that will upturn our interactions on the web. Until then, I’ll keep on racking up thousands of unread emails in my personal inbox, just because it’s so cumbersome to use emails. The world may be willing to work in such an inefficient manner, but I’m not going to waste my time with that.

Working remotely in Hawaii

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I spent a week out in Hawaii while doing everything to make it seem like I wasn’t even gone work-wise. It was a last-minute thing: when I realized Veteran’s Day was the following week, I had asked Panda what our plans were (anticipating taking Monday off to enjoy a 4-day weekend). Instead of the type of answer I was expecting, I discovered that would be the week he was slated to go to Hawaii for work. I was so disappointed because I was really wanted to enjoy the weekend with him, but work travel meant he’d be leaving me Sunday morning. In other words, what I thought would be a long weekend would actually only consist of Saturday. For the first time, I was actually serious about joining him on a work trip. I really didn’t want to lose out on making it a holiday weekend worth my time.

So, once it was confirmed that he was going, I decided to make a decision and book tickets too. I’ve never planned a trip like this on such short notice, but it was one of those things I knew I’d regret for ages if I didn’t go for it. I figured I could still get all my work done at the normal EST hours I work and then I’d have the afternoon to enjoy the surroundings in Hawaii. Just like that, we found tickets for times I felt were reasonable and least interfered with work. By Sunday, we were off on our journey to spend a week out at the North Shore.

turtle bay resort at north shore hotel room with king bed

My office for the week.

I woke up daily (except Veteran’s Day and the weekend) at 4:30 HST to start work. I joined meetings remotely, answered emails, and worked on projects. Before I knew it, the sun would be rising and people were going off to lunch. I’d usually have a late “lunch” break and go enjoy the breakfast buffet downstairs. I savored the meals and watched the waves coming in as the heat began to build outside. Then it was back to the room for more work, which flew by pretty quickly. I found myself to be more productive (or at least it felt so) working from the hotel. This was probably because I had very few distractions. I hardly even got up for a drink or restroom break whereas usually at work I’m up at least once or twice an hour.

view of sunrise from turtle bay resort hotel room

Being awake for the sunrise was pretty cool.

view of turtle bay beach and ocean from turtle bay resort hotel room

The daytime view was pretty awesome too.

breakfast spread from breakfast buffet at turtle bay resort

A typical breakfast halfway through the work day!

I tried to finish my day around 1, but it usually went past that, though for the most part I was able to stop working by 2. At that point I had the choice of beaches to play at. One day I went the less traveled route and happily caught dozens of hermit crabs, snails, and even fish. Another day I found other crabs lurking by the rocks and swam around in the bay following a variety of fish around coral reefs. Yet another day I caught more critters and had a staring contest with some ghost crabs. I kept meaning to go to the banyan tree everyone checks out, but there were so many distractions along the way that I never quite made it there. I did have fun filming storks taking off in slo-mo, getting super close-ups of the creatures I caught, and generally basking in the sun.

clear plastic cup with a fish, hermit crab, and sea snail

Just the beginning of my catchings.

As the sun went down, we’d search for dinner and my night would wind down. I’d shower off the sand from the day and spend some time online before calling it a night. I tried to sleep around 8, but oftentimes it was closer to 10 when I got to bed. And then the day would start anew just past 4 as my alarms began to ring. It was much easier to wake up at that time than I thought it might be. I was quickly alert and ready to go! On our days off, we’d sleep in until 9 or so and then grab breakfast before embarking out on some adventure. Panda didn’t get the weekend, but luckily was free on Veteran’s Day and had some opportunities to leave work for a few hours. We went to Waikiki twice, hiked Diamond Head, visited Pearl Harbor, and even swung by the Dole Plantation. Not bad for a working vacation!

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