On packing

I’ve been on an efficiency kick for the past six months, looking for persistent short cuts in life to ease the pain of day-to-day living. My current focus is on the perfect “pack” for a week’s worth of travel.

First, the backpack. I use an Eastern Mountain Sports backpack I picked up in 2001 when I was at McKinsey. Briefcases are nonstarters — I choke them in a few seconds — so a four compartment backpack with a padded sleeve from Eagle Creek for laptop protection is a major necessity for efficient travel. The biggest compartment gets all the power cords (laptop, cellphone, etc.) tucked on the bottom, then the laptop goes into the padded slip case. In the mesh zip pockets on the sleeve go — eye shade for plane sleeping, contact lense case, reading glasses, Restoril (sleeping pills), Advil (gel caps), Treo, iPod and eye drops. I also slip a book in with the laptop (on the non-screen side to protect the screen from cracking under too much pressure). The sleeve comes out as soon as I board and is tucked under the seat in front of me. I keep the laptop on standby. This is the best way to have everything I need for the flight in a container that insures no space-outs and losses
In the next pocket is a three-slot file folder — made of nylon — also by Eagle Creek. This has folders in it for expenses, itineraries, reading material, and any meeting prep material I need on the trip. On top of this goes assorted electronics and a second book.

The forward two compartments hold passport, tickets, spare index cards (I live on index cards: to do lists, call lists, lists of lists ), spare AA and AAA batteries, office keys, passcard, rolaids, earplugs and assorted detritus including spare change tossed in there before the metal detectors.

For clothing, I pack a single duffel bag (I loathe wheeled luggage). In there goes three dress shirts, folded and starched, three pairs of pants, underwear, one set of workout gear (shorts, t-shirt, white socks), four pairs of dress socks, and shaving kit. I wear a blue blazer (essentially a wearable “purse”). The whole secret is hotel laundry. If not … everything can be worn twice if I avoid eating with chopsticks.
Thus equipped I can safely walk on to any plane, stow everything, overhead compartments or not, and shave at least an hour off of every trip avoiding luggage check-in at the front end and the baggage carousel at the other.

Over the years I have observed:

  1. Books are killers but essential. I’d rather read than eat.
  2. Spare shoes are not essential unless you plan on some serious hiking. Then things get tight in the duffel bag.
  3. Thank god no one wears suits except for special occasions and court appearances.
  4. Mini-anything is a godsend in the shaving kit department.
  5. Ship stuff accumulated at the destination home via fed ex, etc.
  6. Pack two days before, not the day of to avoid packing freakouts.
  7. Question everything and ask yourself, “Did I use it?” If not. It doesn’t come next time.

Time to weed my blogroll

It’s running over. I can’t hope to read nearly everything and need to start categorizing between stuff I like to read and stuff which I need to read. Some of the gadget blogs fill up Blogline’s 200 post buffer in a day or two. Other categories get touched once a month at best. Complete information overload. I am becoming fonder and fonder of the “for:” tag in del.icio.us and encourage one and all to start tagging stuff of interest to me as “for:dchurbuck” — the good folks at Redmonk have turned me onto this and I see it as the best way in the world to get my attention.

All media is local …

On Monday I gave testimony before the town licensing authority to complain about a village bar that get a bit too rowdy around closing time. Roaring Harleys, burning rubber, sidewalk arguments … annoying stuff for a quiet little Cape Cod village to endure. That’s besides the point. What is interesting is the way the town has transformed citizen participation through a gradual shift to grassroots media. Letters of complaint — while I mailed one in through the snail system — can now be sent via email, and their receipt acknowledged by email. Neighbors can compare notes via email, exhort others to show up at the actual hearing via email, etc.

The town broadcasts its proceedings over the local cable system, but they also post the footage on their web site. Now, when people come up to me and ask how it went, I can point them at a link and they too can see what was said for and against the issue.

None of this is cutting edge for the average reader of this blog, but the effect it is having of transforming the old local political system from one based on tiny-type notices of hearings in the local papers, and the typical “little old ladies in tennis shoes” showing up in force, to one that expedites communications across all constituents, is, to my thinking, one of the better indications that online media has transcended early adoption and moved solidly to the mainstream.

My whereabouts – July 5 – 13

I’m on Cape Cod today, off to Berlin for the World Cup Finals tomorrow night, in Berlin through Monday then back directly to RTP through Thursday. I’ll be out of pocket over the weekend, but attempting to blog from Germany on the spectacle (thanks Yahoo for the invitation!).

The Cape has calmed down from a very busy long holiday weekend. I’ve never seen the village so busy in my life, but this morning things have quieted down to the usual summer pace. I tried to fish yesterday afternoon with my cousin Pete, but didn’t feel too into it. The head injury sort of limits my time in the sun (bright lights induces the migraines), but we hung out on the island and watched the first Cotuit Skiff race of the year. All my cycling buddies gathered on the front lawn yesterday to watch the parade and I got to tell the tale of my Memorial Day crash. Despite their urgings to get back on the bike, my wife was not amused.

The weekend’s events included:

  • Saturday night clambake
  • Sunday christening of my niece
  • Monday:
  • Town hearing over the liquor license of the local saloon (I spoke, further confirming my descent into the status of “Grumpy Old Mr. Churbuck.”)
  • Fireworks over the harbor
  • Fourth of July parade, fishing expedition, and skiff race
  • Today I’m packing for the trip, trying to get some work done (difficult to find out which colleagues are on vacation and which are not), pull some online advertising numbers together, and push some stalled projects along.

    The dawn of the online metric revolution

    The Internet Knows What You’ll Do Next – New York Times

    This morning’s (Wednesday 7.5) New York Times carries a David Carr Leonhardt column on Battelle’s meme of the “database of intentions.” In that column, Hal Varian, probably the smartest media and content economist in the country, predicts that online metrics are about to do to advertising what the spreadsheet did to corporate finance in the 80s. I wholeheartedly agree. The precision of the medium and its measurements will drive online advertising to the top of any marketer’s bag of tricks over the next two years. While this promise has been held since 1995, it’s coming into fruition now thanks to easily accessible tools such as Google Trends, and high end metric services such as Omniture, Coremetrics, and Hitbox.

    “Hal R. Varian, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who advises Google, predicts that online metrics like this one have put Madison Avenue on the verge of a quantitative revolution, similar to the one Wall Street went through in the 1970’s when it began parsing market data much more finely. “People have hunches, people have prejudices, people have ideas,” said Mr. Varian, who also writes for this newspaper about once a month. “Once you have data, you can test them out and make informed decisions going forward.”