March 2019 EDC Update

Apparently, it’s all about the EDC (everyday carry) these days, and people are getting out of control. According to the internets, some folks are carrying bags of ready-mix concrete in case they have to build an emergency birdbath, and everybody (everybody!) carries multi-tools, knives (all kinds of knives!) and bottle openers (why?) — such as one might use to open a bottle of whatever beverage one might enjoy with a bacon and lettuce and tomato sandwich.

I carry stuff, too. And I carry too much.

That realization led to an amazing series of actions:

  • I got two chairs
  • I put my 900-pound backpack in one chair, and a small briefcase in the other
  • Out of the backpack, I pulled only those things which I actually use (no “just in case” stuff), and put them on a table
  • Then I attempted to fit those items into the small briefcase… and succeeded

Because this genius technique is so incredibly ingenious, I have decided not to patent it, but instead am “open sourcing” it to the world in the hope that we all can get along and lead better, more productive and — above all — happier lives.

You’re welcome.


Tom Bihn Cadet 13.5-liter briefcase, with optional neoprene laptop CacheAbsolute Shoulder Strap, three Halcyon Organizer Pouches (one small and two minis) and a Key Strap, which I think came with the Cadet. The briefcase ships with a standard shoulder strap, but you’ll want to upgrade to the “Absolute” model for an additional $20.

I don’t remember how I learned about Tom Bihn, but I’m a convert. In addition to the Cadet, I own two of their backpacks and the insanely great Aeronaut 45 carry-on bag. Tom Bihn products are thoughtfully designed, handmade in Seattle, tough as nails and guaranteed for life. I’ve owned Hartmann (when it was good), Tumi (when it was good) and Briggs & Riley — which still is good, but not always as thoughtfully designed as Tom Bihn.

Believe me now and thank me later.

Here’s what I have in my Cadet main compartment:

Second compartment:

Tiny “cellphone” compartment:

  • hand sanitizer
  • key to my office filing cabinet

Backpack items not included in the Cadet:

  • a two-inch thick Redweld folder of printouts of online articles about….
  • two empty file folders waiting to be filled up
  • a heavy-duty (and heavy), bomb-proof laptop case
  • a foam insert organizer sheet thing full of things that had to be organized
  • two different types of 3×5 index cards (100 count)
  • a marine whistle, in case I found myself adrift at sea
  • two velcro reflective tags to attach to the backpack for when walking home from the train station at night; I drive home from the train station
  • a Tom Bihn Snake Charmer organizer pouch in which I had my MacBook charger and Focal earphones, but also a miniature tripod and iPhone clamp for taking still photos or videos with the iPhone, and… a Lightning-port powered auxiliary speakerphone for those times when… jeezuz
  • several additional pens and mechanical pencils; I don’t use pencils
  • a small, climbing-grade carabiner for my keys and other “clip” items
  • a heavy-duty, steel luggage tag, attached (inside) with a steel cord
  • two round aluminum caribiners — one in each shoulder-strap thumb loop — to ease tightening the straps after heaving the backpack on
  • noise-canceling headphones in a hardshell case; no longer needed, as I’ve moved to a quieter work environment
  • the occasional “research” book; I read e-books

Hope this helps!

What’s On My Phone?

The Wall Street Journal is distracting us with this question, and I need to be distracted because every time I sneeze it comes out “Covfefe!”

So…what’s on yours?

Case: tech21 Evo Mesh for easy grip

tech 21 Evo Mesh silicone iPhone case

Home screen image: Rooms by the Sea by Edward Hopper; I do not keep icons on my home screen.

Number of contacts: Lots

Most-Used app: Phone (for conference calls), New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Twitter, Weather, Gmail, YouTube, Camera, banking & finance apps to manage my empire

Favorite podcast: None. I can read much faster than I can listen.

Siri use?: I’ve set the voice to male with a British accent. I also tried to change the name from “Siri” to “Reginald,” but couldn’t do that without jailbreaking the phone.

Games: None

Snapchat. Instagram. Texting.: Are. You. Serious?

Uber: No. Shame on them for everything they do. I take yellow taxis, and you should, too.

Voice message: Don’t know. Don’t care. If I don’t recognize your number, I’m not answering anyway.

Weather forecast cities: New York, Beverly Hills, Monte Carlo

App somebody should invent: If I knew that, I’d be rich enough not to have a cell phone.

Subversive Cultural Influences

The list, beginning in about sixth grade (ongoing, and in no particular order):

I first heard this on the radio late one night during high school. Yes, it’s that old.


Subwoofers and Whatnot

I can’t take it anymore, so I’m writing about stereo equipment.

Yesterday, I had plenty to do (clean bathroom, clean kitchen, laundry, vacuum), but I didn’t want to do it, so I threw together a Special Ops Reconnaissance Mission (no credit cards) to Best Buy to check out subwoofers, after which I planned to walk over to Patel Brothers Market to pick up a couple of packages of those Turkish black olives like I like, and then visit my favorite Mexican place.

No clue.
No clue.

I’ve owned three subwoofers over the course of my audio fixation (whole life), and each has been unsatisfying in its own special way. The Sequerra Pyramid (remember them?) needed way too much power. The JBL was hard to adjust and wouldn’t turn itself on until things got too loud for polite listening. And the B&W (Bowers & Wilkins) was massive, expensive and slow.

Continue reading

01-20-17: On This Day In History

Morning: got up; took my vitamins; showered and dressed; went to work; dealt with some emails; worked on my projects; had a conference call; did more work on my projects.

A hearty breakfast
A hearty breakfast

Afternoon: had lunch at my desk; continued work on my projects; responded to email; chatted with co-workers; handled more email and whatnot; did more project work; went to the bathroom; got some Fritos out of the machine.

A picture of some lunch at somebody's desk
A picture of some lunch at somebody’s desk

Evening: finished up work for the day and shut down; went home; put out the trash; went to the market; fixed a little dinner; thought about watching TV, but decided to listen to music and read; straightened up a little bit; put my jammies on; hopped in the sack.

Bedtime (not me)
Bedtime (not me)

Also: The world as we know it came to an end.


Complaints and Irritations, Part Infinity + 1

On this day in history: three fails.

Times 3
Times 3

Fail No. 1: The “Rent” Thing
My apartment building has a new owner, and I signed up for automatic rent payments through the new “resident portal.” I’ve paid my rent this way for about six years. Yesterday, despite the fact that I live. in. the. building., I received a paper bill via U.S. Mail from some entity in Utah (even though the rental office is in. the. building.) for my rent. I’m happy to pay my rent once, but I have numerous objections to paying my rent twice. So, I called the toll-free number (even though the rental office is in. the. building.), and spoke to somebody who sounded like she was 12 (okay, maybe 13) and somewhat confused by the process of talking into — and then hearing a voice come out of — the telephone. I needed her to access my account in the payment system and initiate the draw. She told me she would have to make a note of the situation and have somebody who actually works there (or something) “investigate” and get back to me. This phone call took place early in the bid’ness day, but I never heard back. Do I have even one second to deal with this tomorrow? Nope.
01/05/17 UPDATE: Upon my third attempt, I was able to speak to the person in the rental office. She was just back from a “management training session” run by the new owners, and it showed. I stated my issue, and after about three paragraphs’ worth of admin speak, I was able to decipher that the new automatic debit system kicks in with February’s rent. At that point, I pulled out my phone and made a one-time rental payment via the building app. Lordy.

Fail No. 2: The “Canceled Coat Order” Thing
After the “Fake Canada Goose” fiasco, I ordered a parka in the Eastern Mountain Sports store here in town, but then canceled the order by phone when I found another parka at Outdoor Sports Center (oh, man, what a great store!) that I preferred, and that was on after-Christmas sale for not much more than the lesser-quality Eastern Mountain Sports parka. I have a “parka problem,” but I’m dealing with it. The first step is acknowledgement.

Anywho, the local EMS store said I had to call national customer service to cancel the order, which I did. But since I haven’t received the credit on my AMEX, I called national customer service again this morning to investigate. They referred me back to the local store to pursue the matter. So, I called the local store (again) and this time got a very nice clerk who didn’t sound high at all. She investigated and called me back with the news that the system has been “slow” in refunding credit card charges, and that she expects to hear back from the relevant “order cancellation review” parties “in the next couple of days.” It has already been more than a week.
01/06/17 UPDATE: I called EMS corporate customer service again today and finally got somebody who acted like she has a job. She checked on my transaction and reported that the refund has been processed and should appear in a couple of days — only 12 days or so after I canceled my original order.

Fail No. 3: More of the “Fake Canada Goose” Thing
Finally this morning, I called my VISA Card issuer to follow up on my Counterfeit Canada Goose disputed charge fraud investigation, for which I have submitted both the .pdf of the screen capture of my “order” and documentation from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (they’re in Canada) that “LucyInTheSky” from Shanghai is a recognized fraudulent website. The guy on the phone noted that nobody had canceled my VISA and re-issued another one to prevent further fraudulent charges, so we did that. The old card is now dead, and there is a 10 business-day wait for the new one in the mail. Also, the guy on the phone is initiating the refund process for the fraudulent charge. So much for handling this through the internet, where I filed the initial report and submitted the documentation two weeks ago.
01/06/17 UPDATE: My VISA card holder has reversed the fraudulent “fake Canada Goose” charge and restored the funds to my account. On my way out tomorrow, I will put the trash bag with the noxious chemical smell coat down the chute. Then I will go to Burlington Coat Factory (which offers a new-purchase discount to customers who donate coats) to see if I can buy some children’s coats to put directly into donation. Because it’s cold out.

Some skunks
Some skunks

I have no idea how it might help, but I’m getting a dog and moving deep into the woods. Until this world becomes a safe space for the easily irritated, we may have no choice but to relocate to a clean and quiet place where we can complain about noisy birds, the skunks under the back porch, and those goddam squirrels.

FastCompany Productivity Questionnaire (as modified by RG)

Now you try it!

Time you wake up: 7 a.m.

First thing you do in the morning: Make my bed, because once it’s made, I can’t get back in.

What you do while commuting: Think about the sequence of the upcoming day. Talk to myself. Sing.

Email strategy: The first thing I do is select all of the messages that have nothing to do with me — or which do not require any action by me — and delete them. Then I respond to emails from my client and chain of command. I have assigned the color red to those individuals, so their emails are easy to spot in a crowded mailbox. Every 30 days, I sort my inbox by sender and dump all but the most recent messages.

Mantra: Save the drama for yo’ mama.

How you handle stress: I do what I can to avoid stressful and/or toxic individuals by limiting their ability to control my time. For repeat offenders, that means blocking them on instant messaging and phone. This forces them to gather their thoughts before reaching out to me via email, versus contacting me first and then burning my time while they figure out what they want. I also have learned (the hard way) only to take employment that interests me, and that I can get behind morally. Once you do that, you never hate going to work, and you’re constantly thinking of ways to improve because you’re excited about what you do.

Productivity tool: I use Google Calendar to schedule work tasks rather than adding them to a To-Do list. Unfortunately, I have been less successful at scheduling personal tasks.

Productivity philosophy: Think first (even if it presses you against your deadline), then act. I’m a writer, and I find that writing something all at once after lengthy periods of thought produces more coherent work. But you have to know how to put a sentence together.

Lunch routine: I usually work at my desk. When I work from home, I try to go outside for a little while.

Most productive space: I can work anywhere, as long as I’m in the zone.

Best habit: Trusting my judgment and saying “no” when necessary.

Worst habit: Wanting things to happen too quickly.

What you let slide: I try to identify things that aren’t worth doing, and then not do them.

Nightly routine: I listen to music late into the night. Lately, I’ve been working on my blog.

Time you go to bed: It varies. Sometime between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.