One more work day before leaving...

Cleveland Travel Blog

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A few days ago I had to scrounge up gifts for the Chinese people I'll be meeting.  I was told that it should be something representative of Cleveland, cost no more than $20, and be suitable for either a man or woman regardless of age.  I started to feel the same anxiety I do every Christmas.  Plus, China is a hierarchical society so the same gift can't be given to a boss and a subordinate. 

So I bought CDs of the Cleveland Orchestra.  Have you ever tried to buy 25 CDs of the Cleveland Orchestra?  I'm sure not.  And judging from the Cleveland Orchestra section at Borders no one else has either.  I literally bought every one they had.  When I brought them up to the cashier she looked at the stack, looked at me, looked at the stack again, and then asked me if I was a teacher.  Logical guess.  I told her I was traveling to China and she asked if I was with the State Department.  I really could've had a lot of fun with that one but I told her the boring truth.  Somehow rubber parts just don't match the sizzle of Diplomatic Attache.  Even though I don't know much about classical music it was pretty easy to tell which CDs were popular and which were the dogs.  Dogs cost $6.99, popular, $19.99.  All in I spent over $400. 

Next I needed to pick out something for the subordinates.  I figured candy is usually appreciated but I was told that chocolate was definitely out.  I'm still not sure why.  So I bought maple sugar candy at a place out in Chardon that makes everything you could possibly think of out of maple syrup and sugar.  Little people, animals, houses, you name it.  So I bought 40 boxes each with 12 little maple leaf shaped candies.  This ran me about $150. 

Now I have to gift wrap all this stuff and find room in my suitcase for them.  Actually I think I'll bring two suitcases; one for clothes and one for these gifts on the way over and souvenirs on the way back.  It's amazing how many people ask you to bring back something for them.  I figure I'll need about 3 full size cargo containers just to fill requests.  A woman in our office asked if I could make a side trip to Japan because she wanted a something or other.  Sure.  No problem. 

I downloaded Skype the other day.  After I loaded $10 worth of minutes into my account, I put on my new headset and called Joan in the kitchen from the guest bedroom.  After a few misfires we were connected and it sounded pretty good.  I suppose there might be a slight difference though between the bedroom and the kitchen and Cleveland and Hong Kong, but still.  At a rate of about 2 cents a minute to anywhere in the world it's tough to beat. 


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