Surviving theft. Shoulda worn that fanny pack.

I had my bag stolen earlier this week in Copenhagen. It was a huge distraction for about 24 hrs, but the upside is that I learned the truth about a few of those things people always warn us about. Hopefully this is helpful to you, but I’m also writing this to remind my future self:

  • Keep your passport not in your bag — like on your “person” or in a safe place in your room. Fortunately I had the prescience to pull my passport and other non-essentials out of my bag before heading out that morning, otherwise I may still be in the land of the Vikings. Although less important and easier to replace, same would be true for keeping your phone charger separate if you’re in a faraway place where you can’t get a replacement charger.
  • Long live the cloud. I was travelling with a small and relatively inexpensive netbook laptop. Because I use it as a secondary computer for travel, it doesn’t contain anything special — it’s essentially a piece of plastic that let’s me access email, calendar, files, and the web, all of which are hosted remotely on google, dropbox, or evernote. I was up and running again within minutes of finding a replacement machine, or using a public terminal. No priceless photos or hard-won music collections lost.
  • You can’t backup your moleskin (or non-hipster equivalent). Pretty obvious, but given how we live in a world of auto-save and redundant backups, it did come as something of a shock to realize that my [analog] notes from the year were unrecoverable. Since I didn’t have any special photos on my camera (see below), this was the most significant loss even though it was the least valuable item in my bag as far as my insurance company is concerned.
  • Download/upload photos frequently when travelling. I didn’t lose more than a few dozen pics, none of which were that special, but it could have been much worse. The lesson for me here was that when travelling and snapping photos, it’s worth downloading from the camera and uploading to web/backup after every batch of photos that you couldn’t bear to lose.
  • Don’t leave your bag even slightly unattended. Ok, right, thanks. Obvious, but my bag was actually attended when it was stolen — on the floor no more than three feet from me/our group. But it was dark and even though it was within my reach, there were plenty of distractions taking my attention away from my bag. So +1 for me for not leaving my bag in the corner or under a pile of coats; -1 for letting the bag out of sight while being obviously American in a foreign city.
  • Identify your privacy threshold.Password protection on my laptop (and phone, which was not stolen) puts my mind at ease that no personal information will get stolen, especially since those dirty thieves are most likely looking to resell the equipment. But if you’re the type of person who takes scandalous pictures with your camera or a high profile individual recording your deepest secrets in a journal, it’s worth thinking about what you’d do if that camera or notebook were taken. I don’t think that means you need to limit your creative expression, but it does make me think twice about what I’ll comfortably keep in my bag when heading out vs securing in my apartment. It used to be that a high schooler’s stolen diary couldn’t make it much farther than a copy machine and the school hallways, but with the permanence of information posted to the internet, a few scans and uploads could be devastating depending on who someone is and what they write.
  • Keep records of major purchases. Once you get a spreadsheet or system going, it shouldn’t be that hard to update every time you get a new ipod or camera, but if you’re filing an insurance claim, it’ll save you a lot of time and hassle digging up model/serial numbers and receipts.

I also learned that the Danes are the nicest people on earth. Everyone in the bar was helpful and sympathetic when I asked them all to move so I could search, the staff were helpful that night and the next day, and filing a police report couldn’t have been a more pleasant experience. My thoughts go out to ocean explorer Roz Savage, an inspired woman who i recently met at the computer terminals at the Fresh Air Center because she too was without her laptop. Almost all of her worldly possessions were taken while in CPH. Check out her post [here] to see if you can help, or just to learn about all of her crazy adventures.

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A visit from Uncle Bobby during his annual Great Schlep from NY to FL

Every year for 30 years, my 88 year-old [great] uncle manages to drive from NY to FL (despite protests by his family, and his wife, my Aunt Libby, who now flies). For the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a stop along the way here in DC.

Bobby is without doubt a living legend — with a gift for story telling. (This publication’s more loyal readers will remember him from this Nutsy Fagan performance at Thanksgiving 07.) So for this year’s visit, I brought along my Flip cam to try and capture what I could. Below are three quick clips.

First, Bobby’s take on the election and FL voters as he heads into the battleground state. Most impressive: FL grandparents already know about The Great Schlep!

Next, Bobby as UNC Tar Heel basketball star and his Michael Jordan story. (He was traveling with some clippings from his forthcoming memoirs/book.)

Finally, the secrets to a well-lived life:

Frequently asked questions about my ride from NYC to DC (Climate Ride 08)

This is for climate change?
Well, against it, really.

Have you been training?
Define training?

Well, I mean, do you ride a lot or something?
I biked to Annapolis and back last weekend… This will be much more difficult, but I plan on surviving.

Will they shut down the highways or something?
Definitely not. Apparently there are other roads between New York and DC, at least one of which goes through Amish country, where we’ll be spending a night.

What happens to the money if you don’t finish?
Thanks for your confidence. The money will be re-routed from the beneficiary organizations to cover my medical expenses. Ok?

You’ll have overcome climate change when this is over?
Fer sure.

How much money did you raise at the fundraiser you guys hosted at the Black Squirrel last week?
Almost $1,000 — thank you to everyone who stopped by and contributed!

Is it too late to make a contribution?
No! Quick — here’s my fundraising page. I’m almost at my goal… You can help me get there.

Wait, when do you leave?
Saturday AM at the crack of dawn. If you’re in NYC, stop by our kickoff event, 6-10p at BLVD (199 Bowery). Tickets.

What’s this team thing?
Asher, Dave, and I are all riding under the 1Sky banner — because we want to show our political leaders that America’s ready for bold federal climate solutions. Here’s our team page. And Phil is riding under the 350 banner for similar reasons.

And why are you doing this again?
It feels like exactly the right thing to do at exactly the right time, and we’re going to have a blast.

What’s the schedule? Where will you be and when?Here you go.

Best way to keep up with the ride while you’re on the road?
– Climate Ride 08’s blog and twitter feed
– This here blog and twitter feed

Cream, sugar, or social capital?

Reading the special report in last week’s Economist on mobility (Nomads at last) and dug this:

James Katz at Rutgers fears that cyber-nomads are “hollowing them out”. It is becoming commonplace for a café to be full of people with headphones on, speaking on their mobile phones or laptops and hacking away at their keyboards, more engaged with their e-mail inbox than with the people touching their elbows. These places are “physically inhabited but psychologically evacuated”, says Mr Katz, which leaves people feeling “more isolated than they would be if the café were merely empty”. That is because the “physical presence of other human beings is psychologically and neurologically arousing” but now produces no reward. Quite simply, he says, we have not evolved biologically to be happy in these situations.

You heard it hear first. Foggy monacles and vodka.

Alright, all you aspiring agents of buzz. Warm up your hot little taste-making palates.

HOTlist item #1: Vermont Vodka. Technically, Vermont Spirits. Think, the next Ben and Jerry’s. And don’t judge them on their website. The white vodka (from pure milk sugar) goes down best, but the gold (maple) is pretty damn good too. Ask for it at your local bar; it’s being distributed by Anheuser-Busch. Thanks to college friend Mary Skovsted for making the trip down from the Northeast Kingdom last weekend to introduce us to the fruits of her distilling labor.

HOTlist item #2: After a long night of vodka drinking, the possibility presents itself that a gentleman will be over-served and, in due course, engage in ungentlemanly behavior. Enter The Foggy Monocle, a PostSecret for the morning after. Brought to you by the NYC scenesters modestly featured in the blog’s header image, Dane and Jung, it’s guaranteed to be an entertaining ride. Check it out before Gawker does. And send them some content.

A gentleman may, in the course of a night’s cavorting, be relieved of his senses from time to time. In the aftermath of such situations, the gentleman may be forced to IM, email or text with his fellow gentleman to help recount the activities of the night prior, or simply to discuss how the day is going. TheFoggyMonocle believes that these conversations reveal the true nature of the modern gentleman, and by reprinting these tales of urban mischief, we celebrate the American gentleman in all his glory.

And yes, I’m slowly converting the Blogatron into a Jimmy fan-blog. Seems like the only sensible thing to do.

2007 [Personal] Year in Review

You’ve watched the Best Of Best Week Ever 2007. You’ve read the Top 100 Top 10 lists of the year. And you’ve heard the billboard countdowns. Now this correspondent takes his own dip in the hot-tub of reductionism and self-absorbtion by summarizing into a tidy list the most memorable events from his own previous 365 days. In a decidedly unordered list, this is 2007 in bullets:

  • Being selected for — and almost getting to serve on — jury duty
  • Meeting President Clinton! (photo); runner up — meeting Katie Couric
  • Extreme Skiing Colorado (viral video) w/ Jimmy and Dane (+ 6 hrs in the DIA airport bar)
  • An evening with Jack Bauer (story; photo)
  • Bears in Shenandoah (photos) w/ Savage and Steph
  • Superman ride and Six Flags w/ Ficke, Tom, and Emily (story; photos)
  • Co-authoring a book (my first and last) and seeing it on bookshelves
  • EchoDitto 3 Year Anniversary celebration dinner cruise (anniversary poster; official cake)
  • [More than one notable night out, starting with NYE 2006, smartly redacted by the Editors]
  • Italy and Austria, family trip of the decade and most exotic speaking gig to date (photos)
  • Winning an impromptu beirut tournament at a NYC bar with Keith the jeopardy kid and Sean
  • Backstage at LiveEarth NYC (photos); and meeting Ann Curry and Jane Goodall
  • Lake Garibaldi and Black Tusk in BC with Tim and Brant (photos)
  • Google HQ in Mountain View (photos confiscated)
  • Best purchase of the year: countertop dishwasher

Hard to believe that all fit into just one year. To judge by the ultimate criteria, if 2007 happened to be my last, I’d be hard pressed to come up any real regrets; it was an unexpectedly incredible year. And I have to say, the list above doesn’t include work highlights (as if that’s somehow separate…) This was easily EchoDitto’s best year so far. There’s a version of this floating around summarizing the remarkable and world-changing milestones and successes that we shared with our clients and partners this year, but that gushing post will have to wait…Happy New Year!