LISTENING TO KATRINA - PREPAREDNESS
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LIFE GOES ON BAG - PUT IT TOGETHER
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We have been slowly drawing a circle around different elements in what we will call Data Wealth. Data Wealth includes the documentation we have previously covered, and includes elements of your Identity, Education, and Skill Set. There are other elements that we will also include, but here in the Preparedness Projects I want to jump ahead a little and encourage you now to get a good carry bag for your laptop and actually have the item that this section is all about - the Life Goes On (LGO) Bag. This the bag that you are going to grab first when you run out the door.
So far we have been collecting and documenting. The next step is to start creating. I am going to detail out everything that I have in my Life Goes On Bag. As I do so, remember that SURVIVAL IS NOT A KIT! While true, kits can be so handy sometimes...
Last night I pulled everything out of my bag. An unfortunate side effect of having a bag like this is that it tends to collect various junk over time. Clean out your bag from time to time and get rid of extraneous junk. Do not clutter your LGO Bag with unnecessary things. It can get heavy fast, and heavy will fight you if you need to move fast.
Look at the photo above. In the upper right is the portable file box I use for ancillary files. These are things like utility bills and other bills to be paid and then filed, tax receipts for the year, tax returns for the last three years, and other non-critical documents that I like to keep organized and portable. I also keep my extra checkbooks and other 'important' things in this box. In your escape plans, having such a box where everything is all together makes it easy to just toss it in the car and know that you have everything. You can keep these things in a small fire safe as an extra security. If you are strong enough, you can simply carry the fire safe out to the car or transfer the contents into the portable box if you need to leave. (That won't work for the 60 Second plan, but it would for any other.)
On the left is obviously the laptop bag, which is a Targus bag that is six or seven years old now, and the laptop itself. To the right of the laptop is an external mouse, and in front of the laptop is the power cord and adapter for the laptop. I do not have a car adapter, but we'll cover that in another project. Going back to top, at the right of the bag is a coiled blue wire. This is a CAT-5 cable, which is used to connect the laptop to networks. The laptop also has a built in wireless connection, which allows me to connect without wires when such service is available. In the middle of the blue coil is a blue 'cartridge' that contains a spooling phone cord. Any phone cord will do to connect the laptop to a phone line if no other internet access is available. An ISP (Internet Service Provider) is needed to make a phone line connection. Continuing to the right, there is a neatly wound and tied bundle of USB cables that are used to connect various devices (like my camera) to the laptop. The short wire just below that is for my MP3 player. Continuing right is the power adapter for the external hard drive, and then the hard drive itself. Below that is the coiled USB wire that connects the external drive to the laptop. To the left is a Princeton Tec Aurora headlamp. A headlamp is a very useful light because once on your head, both hands are free to do things that hands do.
I'm running out of visual space, so let's pick up the image again.
That's better. Below the file box is a yellow note book. This is a Write-In-The-Rain note book with weather resistant pages. Yes, you really can write in the rain, which is handy for taking notes in a rain storm, I suppose. On top of that is a pencil and two ink pens. Moving right, there are two bottles for medication. One is an empty prescription bottle (antibiotics) shown for dramatic effect. The other is a bottle of aspirin, which I keep handy because I sometimes develop sudden headaches. I did not get these headaches before I had children, and I frequently wonder about that... Below the drugs is a checkbook. To the right of the checkbook, at the top, is a Fenix flashlight in its belt holder. These small, very bright lights are handy and useful - and bright; as in burn-out-your-retinas-and-scream-like-a-girl bright. Below the light are three different USB Flash Drives. Below those is a Leatherman Charge tool. (Hi, Tim!) If you buy one, buy the Wave. Below the Leatherman is a cheapola screwdriver set that I use for working on computers. Below that, with the Mickey Mouse sticker is a Witz See-It Safe. I picked it up for less than 10 dollars in Disney World, and it is quite brilliant. Very handy for keeping spare identification, a little cash, and maybe a spare key in. It has a lanyard and hangs around your neck. I bought one for every member of the family while at Disney, and they worked very well. It was easy to visually check that everyone had their ID and tickets.
Below the very center of the table is a small digital camera. It's a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3. Below the camera is a spare battery, two extra SD cards, and the battery charger. To the right of all that is the camera case (shoulder strap not seen). Attached to the camera case, I have a little red clip-light. To the right of the camera is a set of ear phones, and then my Sandisk Sansa MP3 player. Keep going right, and there is my spare set of keys. The only other thing on the table is to the left of the camera charger, and that is an Ironmind "Captains of Crush" grip strength device. I like to fidget, and the gripper gives me something to play with. Not to mention that after several years I have a Grip of Doom. This allows me to eat walnuts, pecans, and Brazil nuts without the need for a nutcracker. No, I don't do parties.
All of this stuff fits into one of the side compartments of the laptop bag, if packed neatly. Small objects go into the outer pockets, and large object all go together in the main compartment. The laptop itself goes into the middle compartment.
The bag you chose for this task should be as small as possible. There are many various kinds. Some that roll, some that are backpacks, and some that are like mine. Pick whatever you like, but try to get the smallest bag that will work. My brother-in-law (Hi Ed!), got a monster backpack that fits his monster widescreen laptop. He's managed to cram every cool gadget into the bag, and the damn thing weighs 50 pounds or more. Ouch. In my professional life, I carry this bag every day everywhere I go. If I didn't have to wear a suit to work and look presentable all the time, I'd have a backpack.
On the other side of the bag is a file pocket that I haven't shown you yet, so here we go:
I bought some report binders from Office Depot. I created a report binder for each member of the family, and one for 'other' records. I then inserted the documents into the clear plastic protectors. When I need to find a document, I can quickly flip through the binder.
I've opened the
file pocket and pulled out the report binders with our critical
documents. Gads, but that's a lousy picture, eh? Well,
you can see that I have four books. One for my wife, one for
myself, and one for both daughters. As the daughters get
older, they'll need their own books. I use a fourth as a
record book for other things. My wife's book is opened to the
first page, and you can see her birth certificate, safely stored in
a space-age plastic sheet. Each book is laid out the same, and
if I need any critical document, I can quickly find it by flipping
through the book.
You may not be comfortable with carrying around such crucial documents everywhere you go, and if you wish to otherwise secure them, then I don't have a problem with that. No matter where you leave them, however, there is always a chance that they can be lost or destroyed. Even a fire safe is no guarantee against loss. I keep mine with me because no matter where I am, I know that they are safe. My wife's objection to this is, "What if you are in a fiery auto crash and horribly killed!?", to which my response is, "Well, then I won't need any of this stuff..." The point is valid, however. Nothing is ever truly secure against loss or destruction. You will need to make your own decision on how you want to answer the catch-22 between safety and security.
The report covers stack neatly if you invert every
other one, and they fit neatly into the LGO Bag. Once
zipped up, it makes a compact package. My, but that's another
bad picture. Alas. Despite the bad images, the bag looks
and functions well, and all told weighs less than 20 pounds.
There is also a shoulder strap that makes for handy carry during an escape, but I didn't photograph it as it is just like any other shoulder strap that you have ever seen.
Other elements may be added to the bag as needed, but this is my basic setup. During the work week, I slip a bottle of water into the bag, maybe a snack and some lunch. I'll add other things depending on need.
The last thing that I want to say about this bag is this: DEFEND IT! If you assemble such a bag, you will realize that you have invested a tremendous amount of time, effort, energy, and wealth in its creation, and it contains a very major portion of your Identity. What do I mean when I say, 'Defend it!'? I mean that you should safeguard it as your prized possession. Do not leave it on the front seat of the car with the windows rolled down while you go grocery shopping. Wherever I go, this bag goes. At home, at work, wherever. OK, well no, I don't take it into the shower with me...
What I'm trying to communicate is that you should always attend to the safety and security of this bag and its contents. Do not be careless. Replacing it and its contents will cost you thousands of dollars and many hours of work.
This is not the only way to accomplish HYST with Data Wealth, but it is a way that I have found to be very successful. You may have other needs and other choices. If you have something that works well for you, I would like to hear about it. Please email me using the address at the bottom of this page.
Every night before you go to bed, you should put your laptop away in its bag, zip it all up, and put it in your bedroom. If you have to suddenly leave in the night, all of your critical documents and precious photographs are easily saved. If you have to carry small children out of the house and cannot be bothered to carry your laptop bag, then throw the laptop bag out of a window. Throw it through the window if you have to - although this method may not be advisable if you live above the first floor. I suppose you could lower it out of a window with a rope...but the clock is running...
You will not, of course, need to 'rescue' your printer or your scanner. All you need is the bag with the laptop. If, for some reason, you cannot take it, then take the backup hard drive and USB flash drive. If you can't take the hard drive, then just take the USB drive. I have the ability to copy my laptop store onto my computer at work, so that's an extra security against loss. Anywhere that you can keep an additional copy of your files will be an additional security. Just remember to keep your secondary copies up to date.