Sit before You Go: A Russian Travel Tradition

The first time my wife and I traveled on a long trip together, our bags were packed by the door, we were ready to go, and I reached for the door handle. She grabbed my arm and led me to the couch. “Let’s sit.”

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Returning to the U.S.? What to Do?

Davy Crockett once said, “First, be sure your right and go ahead.” It’s a motto I’ve tried to live by. Make a (good or right) decision and move toward it as quickly as possible. Don’t let anything stand in the way. It’s gotten me into some dangerous situations, but everything worked out – and I have some great stories to tell. However, barging ahead doesn’t work when you have other people to consider. Now the question I face is “Do we move to the U.S., or do we stay in Russia?”

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Coronavirus Delays Our Journey to the U.S.

In Sep. 2018, we applied for my wife’s green card to live in the U.S. We thought we would go about it the right way, so we sent in our money and waited. Then we waited some more. Then we waited some more. In between all the waiting, we spent time in the U.S. with her tourist visa. By Sep. 2019, we still hadn’t heard anything, and we decided to book a trip to New Zealand. It would be easier to get to than if we flew from the U.S.

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New Zealand: Christchurch Vs. Campbell, CA, a First Impression

With its single-family homes on small plots of land intermixed with office buildings, Christchurch reminds me of Campbell, CA, without the air pollution, cars, and litter. It’s a flat, walkable town with more green areas and bird song than Campbell. Christchurch Botanic Garden is huge and offers a unique dining experience among the birds of the garden. I highly recommend stopping for a bite to eat at the ilex café and sitting outside if the weather permits.

Christchurch earthquake damaged cathedral
Christchurch earthquake damaged cathedral

The town itself sprawls, as do all New Zealand cities. Devastated in the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch is still recovering. The city got rid of the organically built container mall that sprouted up after the quake in an effort on business’ parts to keep the economy rolling. While a tentative agreement has been reached to rebuild the Anglican Cathedral, it doesn’t look like much movement has been made in the construction.

Black billed gulls and chicks
Black billed gulls and chicks

Mother Nature has claimed some parts of the city as her own. One lot contains Black-billed gulls roosting in the ruins of a missing building. There are plenty of things to do in Christchurch, but perhaps the best is just walking through the city renewal projects and enjoying the gardens and what nature has to offer.

New Zealand: Is It Possible to Eat Cheaply in New Zealand?

If you change your definition , you might be able to eat cheaply in New Zealand. Unfortunately, it will require some sacrifice on your part and a change in expectations, most likely. While you may be able to eat cheaply, the other question you have to ask yourself is if you really want to.

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Did You Catch the Creativity Secrets in the Countdown?

As part of the countdown for our last Patreon offer for new members, I did a series of photos featuring our penguins and numbers. Each photo had Easter eggs related to creativity in them. Do you know what those Easter Eggs were?

Penguins with the number 10
Penguins with the number 10

Number 10: All of these penguins are sitting on a couch. They’re comfortable. Because they are comfortable, they are ready to create. Getting comfortable is especially important in industrial creativity because being creative is risky, and people who are worried about losing their jobs aren’t going to take risks.

Penguins out of the box cat inside
Penguins out of the box, cat inside

Number 9: Thinking outside the box is great when being creative, but sometimes, what’s left inside the box can be just as surprising. If you’re interested in the learning portion, a number with an exclamation point beside it is a factorial. That means you’re supposed to multiply the number by every number below, i.e. 9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1.

Our penguins welcome a new penguin
Our penguins welcome a new penguin

Number 8: Just like our penguins welcome a new penguin (Did you notice the new penguin? It still needs a name), you need to welcome new ideas. Don’t be afraid of what’s new, embrace it like a stuffed penguin would embrace you.

Penguins in a huddle with the number 7
Penguins in a huddle with the number 7

Number 7: Most creativity results form some sort of collaboration. The Muppets weren’t just Jim Henson; they were also Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney, and a host of other puppeteers. Grab a few collaborators and make beautiful music, art or whatever together.

Penguins with globe and cat
Where should we go next?

Number 6: Travel is a great way to jump start your creativity. You get exposed to new cultures, foods and ideas. Think about them enough, and they can result in new ideas.

Penguins brainstorming creativity
Penguins brainstorming creativity

Number 5: Brainstorming is one of the quickest ways to get a lot of ideas. Be sure to have someone record them. You can even do it by yourself.

Tea Party with the Penguins
Tea Party with the Penguins

Number 4: Being childlike is important to creativity and remaining young. Have a tea party with your stuffed pals and invite friends along. Find a way to play make believe. And if a tea party makes you think of Alice, she’s a great role model because she’s curious. Be curious. (Bonus Easter Egg: Check out the cups and find a surprise that is correlated with greater creativity. Don’t laugh when you see it, or do, actually, laughing might be better.)

Penguin taking a group photo
Penguin taking a group photo

Number 3: These penguins are recording their time together with a photo. You should record your ideas when they occur to you. Always have a pen and paper handy or make a note on your phone. Don’t let the idea get away, record it somehow.

penguins with books
penguins with books

Number 2: Books can be a great way to continue learning or to find inspiration. Books also allow you to exercise your imagination. Read a little every day and change up your genres to keep your creativity function at a higher level.

Penguins number 1
Penguins number 1

Number 1: You’ve got to set aside time for your creativity, and that time needs to be guarded against the intrusions of everything that would distract you. It’s hard to do, but giving yourself an hour to do something creative every day will improve your creativity.

Which Easter eggs did you spot that we missed? Leave a comment and let us know.