Happy New Year to all!
As I look over my journal history, I see that it’s been the better part of a year since I last posted. Sorry, everyone, for contributing to the slow decline of LJ as a living platform, sigh. But, y’know, 〈reasonsreasonsreasons〉. I was a little preoccupied for much of 2015, and frankly neglecting a lot of things.
It’s more than a little surreal looking over my last post from back in May. It seems so long ago. (Of course it was, but... well anyway.) Waxing enthusiastic about a ten-day streak that was so awesome. Little did I realize that it was just the beginning of the crazy, crazy rollercoaster ride that would be the summer of 2015. A summer that was probably the best of my life (or at least way up there).
But every piper must, in time, be paid.
So eventually it all came crashing down, and I’m just now clambering out of the wreckage. Still on a daily basis snagging myself on one of the pointy bits, and wincing in pain. But eh... it gets better, right? So enough about that.
* * * * *
I also note with some self-recrimination that in the same post I promised a followup regarding the 2015 Alberta Election, in the immediate aftermath of which I wrote that. I recall a couple of thoughts I had on the matter, and also recall that in time I began to think better of them, believing myself to have been mistaken and deciding the point was moot. Then some time later I re-revised my opinion, thinking I was right the first time—a position bolstered by the subsequent federal election (and other factors).
Which is an awkwardly sidelong way of saying that I think those thoughts may yet be forthcoming. But they, again, constitute a post for another time. So enough about that as well.
Except to note that I remember them! (Ha.)
Things must be getting better on that front. May (and early June) are a bit hazy for me (I mean, compared to what they would have been for me once upon a time, with my previously-sharp memory) but I still remember most of the summer pretty well! Clearly my memory is improving from last year (and/or whenever), when I wrote about not being able to remember for much more than a month or two.
This is a massive, massive relief. I can be a person again!
* * * * *
On to the point, mrputter!
So I returned to work after Christmas, and to a meeting with my boss, in which she noted that I had accumulated, over time, on the order of a month of unused holiday time.
Fair enough – I wasn’t keeping close count. Mostly I was surprised, in the sense that I assumed it was a use-it-or-lose-it system, in which unused time was just gone.
But apparently not. AWA “owes me” time. Quite a bit of it. Which has suddenly become a bit of an issue as I am leaving in three months.
Well, no. Scratch that. I am now leaving in two months, and the unused time will just be tacked on to the end. Not what I was expecting, but I’m not complaining; see below.
In the meantime, I am leaving in—holyshit—two months!!
Which means that I am now existing in a state of no small amount of panic as I rush to try and get everything finished up and tied off. I have this big Excel to-do list that includes, well, pretty much everything I have to do before I leave. And I am slowly working my way through it. Speaking (as I was above) of surreal, this is pretty much that. If it’s not on the list, I...’m not going to do it?? That can’t be right, can it?
On my whiteboard at home, I also have a big to-do list of everything I have to finish off before I leave for Russia in (in this case) four months. It’s a bit daunting (in that some of those items are kinda “big”) and I’m suddenly very glad to have that unexpected month of time to mash through it:
Definitely playing the waiting game on this one. The application is in, haven’t heard anything back. I understand this part can take a while. (Of course, every person I talk to has a different story, but y’know...) If I don’t hear anything by, say, Feb. 1, it may be time to investigate who the right person would be to “incentivize”.
This is for the Russian visa, конечно. I will need one for Kazakhstan, too, which I just realized I need to get started on, stat.
The only other country for which I will need a visa is Belarus, where by all accounts I can get one on arrival.
Oh, fecking sigh. I accidentally got mine wet a couple of weeks ago. I am hoping against hope that it’s still ok to use. (Some of the ink has run a bit.) If I have to get a new one, and then restart the Russian visa process, I will be super super grumpy. Either way, I need to get to the passport office to ask them.
*cough* So I may have been a bit remiss in filing the last year or two. Have paid them though, obviously! And between my various charitable donations and my educational credits (I’m a student again thanks to Russian classes!) expect to get a fair bit of $$ back. So I’m not worried, but I should still get on it.
I need to arrange for someone to take care of them (I have a couple of options—thanks to those reading this who have indicated willingness—but still need to nail it down). Also need to get pet insurance, so whomever is looking after them doesn’t get hit by a surprise $1500 dental bill like I was a couple months ago.
What will I use for a computer when I’m on the road? I will be blogging of course, as I usually do. I also have a GoPro camera that fixes on to my bike, so may be taking video and/or video-blogging? We... shall see.
But what kind of computer? Am thinking of a tablet. But still thinking. Also want something cheap enough that it’s not a major hit if/when I get mugged.
Will also of course have my iPhone, or a (smart?) phone of some sort. The plan is just to unlock, and buy locally-usable SIM cards from the various cities as I go along. Research has independently confirmed this is the best way to do telecommunications in Russia.
I’m getting kinda tired of maintaining my own server for everything. It was fun in 1998. Less so now. Need to buy hosting somewhere (for web and mail especially, along with various “other”) and transfer my content over. While I’m at it, also need to make a bunch of updates to my blogging / bikejournal platform to cater to the trip.
Duh. Of course, can’t do this until I have the visa confirmed.
By which I mean, storage for all my personal belongings. At least: those not going into the trash, donated to friends/Goodwill/etc, or sold at a garage sale. Most of my stuff fits into those latter categories, but there’s still a lot I’ll want to keep. Need to research self-storage units and the like.
- Home Fixup
My lease ends (conveniently) on May 1, so that’s when I’m gone (if not earlier). Must clean the place – steam clean, etc. as per the lease conditions. Must also fix the various places where the cats have shredded the walls, etc.
- Bike: Tuneup and Parts
Another obvious one. I want to give my bike a tuneup the likes of which it’s never experienced before. I also will need parts, although waffling on whether I want to get them here, or on arrival in Владивосток. Leaning towards the latter.
Need to arrange my bank account details (side note: about to hit my hoped-for $50k target! Yay!). The plan is to have 2 accounts: A, which I cannot access (directly) from Russia, and B, which I can. Most of my money will be in A. So if I get mugged and my cards stolen, counterfeited, etc. they will only be able to get at the small amount in B. Then I can make periodic phone calls to the bank and transfer money from A to B as needed. But need to arrange all this.
- Shots / Immunizations
I... really need to get on this. *ahem*
- Travel Insurance
Yes. And definitely this. I rather lucked out in the UK when I had my accident. I doubt the Russian health system would be quite as facilitating. Especially if I get hit by a drunk driver on a lonely Siberian highway 500km from nowhere.
Terrell is my uncle, who visited my relatives in that part of the world somewhere on the order of 20 years ago? (I think?) I really need to have a chat with him and get the low-down, find out who to contact and how, etc. as I really would like to meet up with my Russian/Ukrainian families if possible.
Slightly complicated by the fact that Uncle Terrell lives in Japan. (I mean, there’s an Internet for that, but still.)
- MGIS Program at U of C
For after I get back. I have spoken to profs about this. I have not done much more than that. I rather need to, if I want to make it into the January 2017 intake.
So there we go! That’s, uh, the short list. The very very daunting short list.
In the meantime, I have to get back into the kitchen, and back to cooking. It’s Ukrainian Christmas on Thursday, and so I’m making a big Christmas dinner to take to class on Wednesday evening. Arranging for 13 dishes (some of which I’d like to be still warm) in a classroom 10km from home when it’s -15° out and I’m on a bike is going to be an... interesting challenge.