16 December 2010

A boy sleeps in Brooklyn

It's been a week, and I'm back on a plane, returning home after a trip to NYC. Lovely, but also exhausting. Rather than a narrative description of what I did (which would take a long long time), here are some metrics:

Shows seen: 3 (In the Footprint, Fuerza Bruta, Three Pianos)

Friends seen: 36 (Matty, Darron, Cat, Futter, Hillary, Magic, Dan, Deborah, Will, Pam, Ko, Marc, Zan, Adam, Patrick, Mandy, Sean, Liz, David, Brian, Nastran, Jessi, Alex, Andrew, Sharath, James, Vicky, Ben, Bree, Veronika, Brad, Dr. Thunder, Sandra, Mike, Renee, Karen +)

New friends made: 4 (Jean, Lindsay, Chris, Rachel)

Semi-interviews conducted: 1

Manhattans consumed: 4

Martinis consumed: 0

Days the temperature creeped above freezing: 3

Minutes of field recording conducted: 75

Slices of NY pizza consumed: 1

09 December 2010

I skied this last year. Will do it again. Oh yes, will do it again.

Another cross-country flight

Classes are over.

Final projects are graded.

It should be time to settle into some holiday cheer with friends and family. I got the friends part down (holiday party at the U on Monday, dinner/drinks/show in LA on Tuesday, more drinks with folks on Wednesday), but the family part is still escaping me. S was supposed to return home from her movie on 18 December, but it now sounds like that return date is going to be a few days later. We are quite disappointed.

Right now, I'm in a flying tin can, throttling through the atmosphere from the city of angels to the big apple. I've got a loose agenda while I'm there, mostly social calls, some work meetings, some shows, and a good bit of field recording. My friend Connie is out of town for a show, and she's graciously allowed me to stay at her place while she's gone. I'm looking forward to some serious exploration!

The baby sitting behind me is all sorts of crying.

Last weekend, my capoeira academy had their first batizado. Batizado means 'baptism,' and it's a time where our academy hosts other academies for a few days of classes, training, and playing. At the end of the batizado, we had a cord ceremony, where academy students receive colored cords to signify their advancement in the training. This was my first cord ceremony, so I received a green cord (the color significance is different from karate- green is the lowest rank of cord- beginners wear no cord at all). After receiving my cord, the mestres and professors decided on a nickname for me: 'coruja,' which is portugese for 'owl.' I think its a comment on how wide I open my eyes when playing, but one of my professors thinks that it's uncanny that the other mestres gave the college professor the nickname of the wise owl.

I'm not bringing the SLR camera on this trip, but I am bringing the flip camera. Maybe I'll post some video!

07 December 2010

A Guide to Gift-Giving for Long-Distance Givers

I live far away from much of my family, as does my wife and many of our friends (here in LA, it seems that most of us are transplants from elsewhere in the country). Every January, as the holidays wind down, I hear lots of stories about gift-giving gone awry due to the great distance between gifter and giftee. Of course, the gifts are given with generosity of spirit and magnanimity of soul, but despite the best intentions, the process of giving and receiving can often cause stress and duress. This year, I’m hoping that I can mitigate some of that stress by compiling a small list of gift-giving guidelines for long-distance giving. If you follow these guidelines, the gift-giving-and-receiving process will be more focused on the spirit of the season and less on the stress of commerce and retail.

1. If the recipient will be flying, avoid giving large gifts. This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often someone gives their guests in from out of town a microwave, a case of wine, bulky sports equipment. If you want to give something that’s sizable, consider giving them a photograph to open in person and ship the gift to wherever they live.

2. Unless you see your gift recipients often, don’t assume that you know their taste in clothes or things. Do some research. Look at Facebook photos, talk to their spouses, significant others, friends. Ask the recipients for a wish list (amazon.com has a great wishlist feature). I have a friend who gets, every year, a few articles of clothing from his in-laws. He has never worn any of them; they’re not his style. He always returns them, or, if he can’t return them, he donates them, tags-on, to charity. Which brings me to:

3. Unless you are absolutely sure of the recipient’s taste and size, make sure you give gifts that the recipient can return in THEIR hometown, not yours. National chains (Macy’s, Target, etc.) allow you to buy at one store and return at another. Do you prefer to support the local economy and buy from smaller boutiques? That’s great – I applaud you. Perhaps there are local boutiques in your recipient’s hometown that you can shop at via the internet?

4. Even if the recipient is visiting you, restrain from buying from local boutiques. If the gift doesn’t work out, your recipient will need to spend time during their visit returning the gifts instead of spending time with you.

5. Are you shipping a gift? Confirm the shipping address with the recipient. Many people have different addresses for receiving letters and packages, and if you send packages to a mailbox, they can often end up disappearing.

6. Are you buying for children (grandkids, neices, nephews, etc.)? Avoid the desire to buy every cute outfit and stuffed animal you see, and instead, focus on gifts that are meaningful. Ask the child’s parents for great gift ideas. Says pal Lael Logan: “Many of us are trying to give our kids the joy and excitement of presents while also balancing it with teaching the "true" meaning of this time. Perhaps you could take the kids on a special holiday outing instead - to see Santa, or ride a train - creating traditions and memories is how we'd like to teach our kids about this season.”

7. Can’t think of a good gift for someone? Consider making a donation. It’s a terrific way to give something with meaning for more than just your recipient, and it’s very convenient for weary travelers. Says friend Katherine Resch: “We're doing that for the adults on my side of the family this year, and we're having a lot of fun choosing a charity that will be personal to each family unit.”

8. Don’t give crap. Are you sending your loved one a candy-cane filled with M&Ms? A bobblehead Santa? If so, consider just abandoning the gift altogether. Maybe just send a card, or a gift certificate, which brings me to my last guideline:

9. Gift cards, gift certificates, and cash are always welcome, though they’re admittedly impersonal. You can make them less impersonal by buying a gift card for a specific store that’s local to the recipient. Was there a boutique that you discovered the last time you visited your sister? Buy her a gift card for that place, and when she calls to thank you for the gift, you can have a nice time remembering your trip. See! Much nicer than a boring sweater from Macy’s.

These guidelines are assembled from my experiences as a long-distance giver and receiver, and those of my friends. If you’ve got any additional guidelines, feel free to post them to the bottom of this note, and next year, when I repost, I’ll try to include some of them!