I hate making half of everything I write by volume a description of how different things are from when I was living in Singapore and happy, but sometimes it just comes up that way. This weekend, particularly, I figured I'd start in on Christmas shopping. I only mean to buy for my parents, siblings, and such in-laws are applicable, and maybe one or two loose ends in case one of my mother's college friends is over near enough Christmas to make giving a present rather than a card appropriate.
What this has taught me is that I've been completely spoiled by five Decembers in Singapore. Doing Christmas shopping overseas has its drawbacks, particularly in that I can't get anything too bulky because it has to fit in my luggage, and it can't be too heavy for about the same reason, and it's got to fit along with the surplus of things that I don't think I can live without for a whole week or two. And because of the distance involved it's not convenient to call up or meet with any of the people I mean to give gifts to and find out what they might possibly want.
But the counter to that is: it didn't matter what I got. As long as it had the word ``Singapore'' written on it somewhere, it was strange and novel and appealing. And I could always get a round of these odd Japanese kitsch solar-powered trinkets where a large-headed, very round figure would simply nod its head -- or turn it side to side -- or rock it back and forth -- or so on without limit. They're goofy but strangely hypnotic and always a hit. Add to that my ability to grab odd junk like curiously formed dolls that look vaguely like old Kellogg's cereal cartoon characters but can't be identified and you have incredibly easy Christmas shopping.
Now I'm forced to think of things that actually show some awareness of the personality of whoever I'm giving it to, and that's not easy since my mother just buys anything she particular wants when she wants it, my sister wants horse stuff that can't be explained to people who aren't horse people, one of my brothers mostly wants White Castle gift certificates, and my sister-in-law probably bought the Casper the Friendly Ghost collection now that I mentioned its existence to her; I had no idea she'd want such a thing, and I told her about it too far away from Christmas for it to be reasonably excluded from her own purchases.
Trivia: Blaise Pascal's father Étienne, aware of the talent of his son, forbade teaching him mathematics lest Blaise overstrain his head. Blaise Pascal finally insisted on learning geometry at age twelve. Source: Men of Mathematics, E T Bell.
Currently Reading: The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and The Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time, Jason Socrates Bardi.