Thursday, December 02, 2010

gifts large and small

things are looking up
so far, i am a fan of this new month.

i am back in my contacts -- and my eyes feel just fine. OH how i missed them.

i got my lost document back!!

after thinking about it for a while, i realized that i must have saved and then deleted it. i tend to save things on my desktop (planning to sort later into the appropriate file/folder), and sometimes i get a little overzealous dumping photos and files from the desktop into the recycle bin aiming to clear up the space (my virtual desktop is cleaner than my real one!). and when i went to look through it, thanks to my blog/planner i could tell that i emptied my recycle bin just 3 days after finishing the document.

so i turned to god google and asked: "how do i recover a deleted document on mac?"

and then, lo and behold, this appeared:

cue the hallelujah chorus!

it turns out that even when you have (needlessly) emptied your recycle bin of a file, your computer still has it, somewhere. some of you are probably like, "duh." but this actually really surprised me! i was able to search my drive and found the file using the free demo version of the software. and i did not have to relive my baby rat stress experiments again.

the catch:

pager shown for size comparison

i had to buy a mac-formatted external hard-drive in order to use the program. therefore, i spent $150 to get my 2 page document back. perhaps a little excessive, but i was able to convince myself that having a 1 TB hard drive on hand to back up my data is actually a nice, practical thing. after all - what if my computer crashed and i lost more than just one two-pager?!

i am hereby vowing to back up my hard drive (macs have a program called time machine that makes this ridiculously easy) at least once a month, at the start of the month.

the case against buying christmas presents
i was struck by the zen habits post yesterday which provided quite a convincing argument against a traditional gift-laced holiday.

some of his most compelling (to me) arguments:
environmental impact. from the packaging to the volume of presents themselves to the transport required to get them from store (or online retailer) to home, seemingly harmless holiday detritus has quite the carbon footprint.

financial impact. many people actually go into debt to buy presents. this makes me dumbfounded, and it makes me sad.

supporting large corporations. i am guilty of this, as i love to order things from and the like. however, this money flowing out of the community does nothing for the local economy.

perspective. there are still many people in this world without access to enough food or clean water -- and yet we find the cash to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts . . . something doesn't add up.

stuff = clutter. in leo babauta's words, "What happens to all the gifts? They go on our shelves, in our closets, on the floor." this is decidedly true, and not really okay with me.

leo offers several alternatives to traditional gift-giving, including spending time doing other holiday activities (caroling, cookie-baking, etc), volunteering, donating to a charity, a gift swap, or purchasing used gifts at goodwill.

those are all excellent suggestions, but i am going to play devil's advocate just a tiny bit and counter that people are not going to want to just stop giving gifts altogether. at least, i don't. personally, i enjoy picking things out for family and friends, although i do not spend a ton of money or buy a lot of things each year.

instead of jumping ship altogether, talking with josh over dinner last night we came up with several categories that ideally gifts would fall into:

edible consumables. examples of great gifts include: baked goods (homemade or bought locally), a special wine or beer, regionally made jams or salsas, or (fancy!) a gift certificate to a dinner out.

practical consumables. i would place useful office supplies/stationery in this category, as well as bath products or other personal care products (perfume, cosmetics) as long as you know the receiver will actually use them.

virtual media. i haven't bought an actual CD in years, but i love my iTunes! if you want to give media and your recipient is like me, purchasing a download is a viable option that is environmentally friendly and anti-clutter.

experiences. leo mentions this one in the context of free jaunts to explore nature, but i would also add experiences that cost $$. a gift certificate for movie tickets, cooking class, or tickets to a show or exhibit would all fall into this category. for a biiiiiig present, you could buy someone a spa day, a yoga pass, a home-cleaning service, or even a weekend away; on a lower budget, you could present someone with a handmade gift certificate for a home-cooked meal together made by . . . you.

nice things that will truly be used. ie: a replacement for someone's ratty old wallet or briefcase. a special pair of earrings that you know the recipient WILL wear frequently. a piece of electronics that you know the recipient has been coveting (and would buy anyway if it wasn't received as a gift!).

all of these ideas are not to suggest that volunteering, donations, and non-monetary gifts are not important -- in fact, they are truly the ideal. but for those of us who can't quite let go of buying altogether, i think it's a start!

what is your favorite/most memorable gift you have ever received? mine is probably the pink, white, and aqua cassette deck boom box my parents bestowed on me at around age 9. thanks, mom & dad!



workout: 6 miles with 4 at tempo, on the TM.
- 1 mi warmup @ 9:13/mi
- 4 mi @ 8:19/mi
- 1 mi cooldown @ 9:13/mi

clean + local
we have been plowing through our CSA box this week! last night's dinner of portobello mushroom ragout (from the CE cookbook) involved local tomatoes as well as broccoli.

served on top of whole wheat pasta spirals with a side of local broccoli

healthy, easy, and good. [BAM!]

grant progress: vertebrate animal supplement --> done! research experience --> found! days left before submission --> 4.


  1. This post kind of reminded of something I saw on Erica's blog yesterday....about how we should remember how lucky we are.

    I don't really think there is anything wrong with these gift giving holidays...material goods are often how we show each other we care about each other, whether it's for the good or the bad. I like giving (and getting) gifts that are "experiences" rather than just another a gift certificate for a cooking class or tickets to a sporting event/theater.

  2. dude you should really be using Time Machine. you can probably really easily set it up with your new external drive and be constantly backing up ALL the time with no effort (and with the expected mac style!)
    it saved me more than just once when i was working on my thesis.

  3. Believe it or not, we still have that boombox(Panasonic FW18), and it's still in good working condition! It's yours if you want it. L, da

  4. I like your suggestions for alternative gifts! Thinking about the mass scale of consumerism around this time of year makes my stomach turn a little. My husband and I don't "need" anything - so he asked for a donation in our name but I'm doubting anyone will take us up on that. For some reason, people just *have* to give something!

  5. My favorite gift ever is this small necklace Dave gave me. It's a tiny heart with the letters B.A.G. inscribed on it. It's not the world's most glamorous necklace but it means a lot to me :-).

  6. I got both an engagement ring and a wedding ring for Christmas (and my wedding was in May, ha!), and those are probably the most meaningful gifts to me. I do remember getting my first boom box in 5th grade, though. I think it lasted through high school and then died.

    Glad you found your document. I bet the baby rats appreciate the $150 you spent, too.

  7. I tried a few years ago to get everyone in the family to donate to charity in each others' names rather than purchase gifts. They didn't like it. I try to do consumables as much as possible. This year - fun liquors or mixers that people probably wouldn't buy for themselves.

    PS I just found a new site that reminded me of your cookbook challenges. These guys blog about recipes out of food magazines. I was looking for an oatmeal cookie recipe using apricots and this came up in the search.

  8. Great ideas! We all have so much stuff, but the need to give gifts is hard to overpower. I think it's really fun to give farm animals on behalf of my family members through Heifer International-- I like to say that I gave my brother a goat for Christmas :)

  9. Glad you got it back!!! Hey, you can always use a hard drive anyways ;)

  10. Anonymous10:59 AM

    My favorite gift was my snowboard I got a few years ago for Christmas. It's my favorite thing to do in the winter!

  11. Anonymous11:22 AM

    I am so, so with you on the presents thing. I really wish that we could do away with that part of the holidays and have it just be about getting together and eating and drinking. Haha. In which case it would be...Thanksgiving again. But that would be okay with me.

  12. As Aimee suggests, I'm a big fan of gifts from Heifer International! Bunnies are always a hit with the teen girls.

  13. Glad you got your document back! The mushroom ragout looks really yummy!

  14. Anonymous11:24 PM

    My husband and I do Charity Bags as gifts to friends and family instead of gifting each other. Many stores have a "charity" gift each year, usually around the front counter, that when purchased, gives part or all of the proceeds to a specific charity. Example: Mac has lip gloss sets that go to Children with AIDS. We buy a bunch of these items and make up 10 bags. Then we each pick 5 people/couples to gift them too. We really have everything we need or want and this allows us to enjoy the "giving" part each year as well.

  15. susan: erica-sara is so right :) thanks for sharing the link.

    haya: i did! i am not going to leave it plugged in all the time, but i have it in a visible spot and will plug it in regularly for time machine backup.

    runyogarepeat: ooh, snowboard. active gifts are a great option too (as long as you know the person will use it!)

    aimee & lucy: i really like that idea too!

    anon: what a fun idea. you get to enjoy material giving while doing something good, too.

  16. By far my favorite gift ever was the diamond studs Albert gave me for our 5 year anniversary. I had always wanted them and I wear them almost every day!

    BTW, I love your boots. Sorry - I have been WAY behind on my google reader so I didn't know which boots you were talking about when I saw you. It was great to see you guys (although it was way too brief)!

    Glad you got your file back! I know the feeling - I almost lost all of my archived emails at work - it would have been disasterous but I got them back.

  17. I agree with both traditional gift giving AND the Zen Habits comments, so I like your ideas for compromise.

    This year I'm donating all the December proceeds of my ebooks to the It Gets Better project. Hopefully that will turn out to be a decent amount of money... although so far there are actually LESS buyers than usual. :\

    My best gift? Honestly? Probably the Macbook my BF got me a couple years ago. I mean, it was a HUGE gift, probably the biggest either one of us has gotten for each other (I let him count it for 2 birthdays and 2 Xmases, hehe), AND I'd been dying to get one, AND I use it every day.

    Other than that, probably my parents letting me travel to Rome for a week in high school, and then helping me study in Spain for a summer in college. I love to travel!

  18. I love what you said about being truly sad that people go into debt to buy holiday gifts. This is such a vital point for having the right focus during the holiday season. I also loved your idea about giving baked goods. My Mom gives a really nice loaf of gourmet bread from Panera. The cost per person is under $5 and it helps her give a more personal baked good that is always appreciated. This is the perfect solution for her since she works full time and takes care of my dad who is in a wheelchair.