September 12, 2007

Hump Day Hypothetical

I was reading my current book last night when something I read made me inadvertently think of an interesting hypothetical.

There's some sort of impending disaster - a meltdown at a nearby nuclear power plant, toxic train derailment, a slow-moving and very predictable hurricane, the release of Britney Spears' comeback album - and you're forced to leave your home. You've got fifteen minutes, and two duffel bags to fill, one reserved for clothes, the other reserved for anything else. You are armed with the knowledge and certainty that everyone (family, house guests, pets, etc) will be just fine so you needn't try and pack your kid in that second bag. Food and supplies will not be a problem. So, what do you pack?

Me? Well, I'd dart to the basement and pull all my hard drives to salvage all the music and pictures I could. I'd throw in our wedding album. And my camera. And the card Beth gave me once that shows too kids in raincoats holding hands and lunchboxes and, inside, says, "We'll always be fine as long as we're together and have snacks" because that, my friends, is the absolute, 100% unadulterated truth.

Posted by Chris at September 12, 2007 7:03 AM

1. All digital image and video archive DVDs not already off-site (we backup regularly, but getting them out of the house takes time occasionally).
2. My iPod (the post-disaster world is assumed to have electricity), which will serve not only as a main music source, but also a Curious George video source in the interim.


That's really all I can come up with. If my wife and kid are safe, that's all that I'd be worried about. I'd probably run around the house grabbing stuff like my PSP and what not, but really the only thing of value or sentiment I have is my family.

Posted by: SciFi Dad at September 12, 2007 7:44 AM

Interesting hypothetical. I'll bite:

- Fireproof safe box containing important documents
- 2 hardcopy photo albums & negatives from our wedding
- Digital camera, cell phones, mp3 player & associated chargers
- Prepackaged first-aid kit
- Pocket multi-tool
- Deck of cards
- Wife's dayplanner that contains a hardcopy of family/friends addresses and phone #s
- Small but entertaining toys for my daughter
- A spare towel (thanks Mr. Adams)

Luckily, my PC gets backed up via Carbonite (offsite data storage online), so no need to worry about grabbing anything computer related - if the hardware goes, so it goes.

Posted by: Ross at September 12, 2007 7:45 AM

Eek! Only 15 minutes? I'd grab the photo albums, my grandma's ring, and this is going to sound weird, but my binder full of fave recipes (some from the Internet, some handed down from Mom/Grandma). My mp3 player and cellphone are already in my purse. Other than that, everything else is replaceable.

Posted by: alison at September 12, 2007 8:09 AM

My iPod.
My camera.
My laptop.
And all my "girl stuff": make-up, blow dryer, hair straightener, hair spray, etc. Gots to be looking good during the crisis.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 12, 2007 8:09 AM

I'll play:

- If I can't carry my messenger bag separately, it would be the first item in. It has my wallet, passport, birth certificate, etc. (This is the bag I carry every day and yes I carry my passport with me every day.)
- Flashlight and multipurpose tool.
- Laptop and adapter.
- Camera equipment and adapter.
- iPhone.
- A few books.
- Negatives stored under my bed.
- Old family photographs if I had time.
- Marriage certificate from my nightstand. (This is the only important document I don't carry with me at all times.)
- soap, toothpaste and Aveeno cream.
- Towel (thanks, Ross).
- Bottle of water

Most of these items are in groups, so I could pack the bag in three stops or so. As long as my dogs are going to be okay, I would be happy.

Posted by: Maria at September 12, 2007 8:12 AM

I'd bring exactly the same things. I think I even gave my husband that same card.

Oh, I might add some jewelry that was handed down from precious relatives.

Posted by: MammaLoves at September 12, 2007 8:26 AM

My hard drives and laptop...mostly for the photos but also because my banking information is on there. My camera and lenses. Old family photo albums and scrapbooks (they wouldn't ALL fit...probably I'd just stuff in what I could). The boys' lovies (Nick's blankie and lion, Drew's hippo). My cell phone. One of my grandmother's paintings, and one of my mom's paintings.

And candy. We'll be needing some candy.

Posted by: Alissa at September 12, 2007 8:32 AM

Weird... I had the same hypothetical yesterday run through my mind. I'm guessing I'd pack:

-Wedding Album
-Hard copy photos in basement of college and our first years dating
-Jewelry box w/ special items from great grandparents
-my Nikon d-400
-the contents of my side table in the bedroom that contains letters & notes Forrest & I have written one another
-baby books for both kids

Posted by: Corinne at September 12, 2007 8:36 AM

-Hand sanitizer
-My meds. I'm gonna need them to ride out the impending disaster.
-Cell phones
-Any computer files and pictures I have saved to disc (disk?)
-The mister's and my memory box
-Our little lockbox that has our important papers - birth certificates, social security cards, etc.

Posted by: Fraulein N at September 12, 2007 8:55 AM

I agree with most pp. But, last spring in an actual emergency (our attic filled with smoke at 3am and we thought our house was about to burn down) mind just didn't think rationally and here is what I REALLY DID grab and put in a duffle bag: a pair of my husbands clean underware, a bra, my daughters favorite blanket, a pair of pants, my cabbage patch doll from childhood, one wedding picture, my wedding ring and a dirty sock. It's amazing what adrenaline can do (or not do) for your brain.
Since then, I have written out an emergency list of stuff to grab next time (if I had time and my family was safe).

Posted by: CJ at September 12, 2007 9:09 AM

It's easier since I got my external HD ;-) There's not much, really...which tells me I really ought to de-junk my place. My passport, my "box o' happy thoughts" (full of notes and cards people have given me over the years), meds (which I only remembered because someone mentioned it earlier...SMRT.) and my library books - because I don't want to pay to replace all of those suckers :P And if my guitar could fit, well, there ya go.

Posted by: Heather at September 12, 2007 9:38 AM

Three books:

The World of Pooh
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Bible (Hands down, the best combination of fiction and non-fiction ever written...and yes, I am a Christian)

Also, a certain relatively significant award from my military days and my diploma from VMI, because the 4-year mountain of shit that one has to endure to graduate from there makes you want to save the piece of paper as proof.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at September 12, 2007 10:04 AM

Well, I need some medications. Other than that, I can't think of a thing, other than ID and maybe our fire-proof box, with our wills and POAs and birth certificates and a $10k savings bond that I really ought to do something with before the taxes on it kill me.

It's just stuff. I would miss it, but 15 minutes wouldn't give me nearly enough time to triage the situation.

But maybe I say this because I'm currently 2,000 miles away from all my stuff.

Posted by: bhd at September 12, 2007 10:09 AM

Love your blog! Bring your wife flowers tonight and take one for the team and help out w/ the bedtime and middle of the night responsiblities.

Posted by: anonymous at September 12, 2007 10:21 AM

Fire-safe box with passports, etc.

my jewelry (I have some sentimental but not terribly expensive things)

Photo albums

And I'm stealing the idea of recipes from alison because it never dawned on me until I read her comment that I'd be devastated if I lost all the recipes I've been collecting.

Posted by: donna at September 12, 2007 10:38 AM

Actually we just did this in a way.

I grabbed my purse, camera, our folder of "vital statistics" and the old family albums. Everything else was just stuff and replacable, if necessary.

Posted by: ann adams at September 12, 2007 10:41 AM

I so want to play this game but I am spending QT with the inlaws so I cannot quite think straight.

Probably a lot of photos - Matthew's baby book, wedding albums, a treasured Dutch plate with my birth info that my Oma gave to me, my hard drive for the photos on that, the first love letters my husband wrote to me, some jewlery that my mom passed down to me, and some other small odds and end that I cannot think of because I am not sitting near them right now.

Posted by: Christina at September 12, 2007 10:43 AM

I so want to play this game but I am spending QT with the inlaws so I cannot quite think straight.

Probably a lot of photos - Matthew's baby book, wedding albums, a treasured Dutch plate with my birth info that my Oma gave to me, my hard drive for the photos on that, the first love letters my husband wrote to me, some jewlery that my mom passed down to me, and some other small odds and end that I cannot think of because I am not sitting near them right now.

Posted by: Christina at September 12, 2007 10:43 AM

I so want to play this game but I am spending QT with the inlaws so I cannot quite think straight.

Probably a lot of photos - Matthew's baby book, wedding albums, a treasured Dutch plate with my birth info that my Oma gave to me, my hard drive for the photos on that, the first love letters my husband wrote to me, some jewlery that my mom passed down to me, and some other small odds and end that I cannot think of because I am not sitting near them right now.

Posted by: Christina at September 12, 2007 10:45 AM

That's an easy one for me. Pictures of me and my brother as kids. The book of pictures of my mom's family. The one small framed picture I have of my parents wedding. The small framed picture I have of my great grandma, the relative I was named for and resemble most. And last, the letters my grandpa wrote me when I was a kid. He's been gone for four years and that's all I have left. If I had room after that, I'd take my Ipod, Laptop and all the Harry Potter books. :) But those are not important.

Posted by: Phoenix at September 12, 2007 10:55 AM

Good one Chris:
The iBook storage device quickly updated with the photos that aren't there yet.
iPod + charger
The rest well, it's all replacable.

Posted by: Nat at September 12, 2007 11:01 AM

The hard drive from my desk top (maybe grab the RAM and the video card as I just upgraded them). The portable hard drive with music and backups. My laptop. My baby book. The important jewelry (heirloom type stuff). Passport and copies of birth, marriage and divorce certs. If I had time I'd grab the portable DVD player and some movies and my DS. I'll need distractions, I'm sure.

And meds and my Jerusalem bible illustrated by Dali. I'm glad I read some of the other posts.

It goes without saying that I'd grab my purse, as that's always with me, with my phone camera and MP3 player among other essentials.

Posted by: rai at September 12, 2007 11:13 AM

Did this with Hurricane Rita (sort of).

CDs with pics on them.
Wedding album.
Wedding ring and a few other jewelry heirlooms.
A few beauty/cleanliness essentials and clothes (natch).
Favorite stuffed animal for kiddos.
Kid-centric amusement items.
Paper copies of documents/addresses.
Analog phone. 'Cause cell ain't working in a hurricane!

Posted by: Pammer at September 12, 2007 11:16 AM

it's funny, the first thought i had was, "nothing.. it's just stuff. it's replaceable."
then i thought it over a little more:
camera bag
external HD (with all the photos on it)
Pookie Bear (son's favorite item in the world)
Yellow Dolly (daughter's favorite item in the world)
my husband's chain with his father's marine corps tags on it (it is unlikely that HE wouldn't have grabbed it, but assuming he doesn't, I would grab if I could)..
i think that's it.. the rest is just replaceable stuff. The last thing I can think of is I might grab a frame or two off the walls as I'm exiting :)

Good question :) Interesting to think it over.

Posted by: raine at September 12, 2007 11:17 AM


All this exercise did is make me realize how screwed I'd be if this actually happened. I am completely disorganized, have backed up nothing, and in 15 minutes I "might" be able to find the tampons. But that depends on how many of us are actually using them at the time.

Maybe I should invest in a few plastic boxes and start sorting, then come back in five or six years and answer this again.

Posted by: Candy at September 12, 2007 11:17 AM

my external hard drive, macbook, camera, camcorder (and all the necessary shit to go with it), photo albums, elmo video (because being holed up somewhere, I'll need a distraction), magazines, lotion, toiletries, as well as necessary paperwork. birth certificates, soc cards, id. And gum. and mobile phone. and credit cards.

Funny how many people pack their laptop and camera.

Posted by: statia at September 12, 2007 11:21 AM

Excellent post! I'm with Candy - I am so disorganized at the moment...I could very quickly lay my hands on the hard copy photos (including wedding album) as I did manage to consolidate those the last time we moved, passports, emergency/disaster bag and medications. I think I could grab our cards/notes and my family recipe book too...

whew - I have some work to do now!

Posted by: Sue at September 12, 2007 11:30 AM

How big are these duffel bags? Because I'm pretty sure Hoop would be pissed about leaving behind the flat screen TV. ;)

I would take:
* My computer hard drive (for the pictures)
* My two favorite, limited edition books.
* The drawing Hoop made for me after our 2nd date together.
* Our tin of movie ticket stubs.
* Both of my cameras
* All my journals from 3rd grade up.

Posted by: Tink at September 12, 2007 11:32 AM

Well, if you're sure that the home will be okay... I guess I'd grab my leather journal, extra ink for my fountain pen, throw in a few paperback novels I'd been meaning to read, my grandmother's earrings, and the keys to my parents' house. Since I already carry my laptop and camera with me everywhere, those are moot.

Great post!

Posted by: Mala at September 12, 2007 11:36 AM

Hard drives, camera, all my photos, and the two boxes of the hubby's letters over the last ten years (we so old school).

Posted by: Lisa at September 12, 2007 11:46 AM

Loving this post, btw. Making me slightly paranoid, but whatever. Hahaha. I really should keep them all within two meters of everything else, in case of emergencies.

Posted by: Lisa at September 12, 2007 11:49 AM

I'm assuming it's a rather large duffel bag. Let's see...

1. Important papers i.e. birth certificates, SS cards, immunization records, passports; Photo albums from our wedding, the birth of our babies, and from my grandparents.

2. iPod and docking station for some great tuneage

3. List of family/friends' addresses and phone numbers

4. Eyeliner pencil, deodorant, perfume, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste (don't need to be too glam but must remain presentable)

5. Deck of playing cards and Uno, as well as my electronic Yahtzee and Poker games

6. Hard drives

7. Cameras, digital and film plus extra film and memory sticks because you never know when THE perfect picture will present itself.

8. Dolls, books, crayons, blank paper for my girls

9. Several large, blank, spiral bound notebooks and several pens for journaling

10. My favorite towel, blanket, and pillow

11. And...I would grab several books off my shelf of books that I haven't read yet.

In the event that the emergency is the release of BritBrit's new album: EARPLUGS.

Posted by: zanie at September 12, 2007 12:09 PM

I wouldn't take a single thing unless it was in my path headed towards the door as I grabbed my kids and left. I know the hypothetical is that I have 15 minutes. But how can I be sure? I would take no chances.

I was just discussing something similar with my kids the other night. We were talking about if we had a fire what would we take. I told them just get out and do not go back for ANYTHING. Even if the fire seems small it could have already potentially weakened the inner structures or roof, before it was ever noticed.

I do like everyones ideas of planning in advance though. I suppose that is what I should do.

Posted by: Leilani at September 12, 2007 12:10 PM

1. My camera
2. Digital CD's of all photos
3. Firesafe with all important documents
4. Paper, pen, crayons, tape
5. Batteries
7. Chargers for cellphone, camera, etc
8. Air mattress - I swear, they always come in handy.
9. Medications and Full First Aid Kit
10. Pocket Knife, Rope, and Hammer

How big is this hypothetical Bag?

Posted by: Jen at September 12, 2007 12:30 PM

To Hell with the pictures and computer stuff, I'm grabbing Tolkien and Harry Potter and meds!!!! I have MY priorities straight.

Posted by: joss is boss at September 12, 2007 12:30 PM

that's a good question.

1. wedding album/photo albums
2. camera
3. laptop
4. teddy bear
5. shoebox of sentimental stuff (now I have to go home and sort the contents of multiple boxes so I have a priority one)
6. favorite books so I have something to read
7. medications/glucose monitor/strips/needles
8. cell phone and charger
9. veil from my wedding
10. emergency folder with info on all our accounts/insurance etc...

Wait, do I have to include John's stuff too, or does he get his own duffel bag?

Posted by: bad penguin at September 12, 2007 12:44 PM

I am with Candy, too! She made me laugh out loud. :) I have a special box of sentimental things but I am not even sure where that box is right now. Nothing is backed up, I don't have a wedding album, and pretty much all of my stuff is worthless and/or easily replaceable. Even my Jonathan Adler pots and vases and our art on the walls, which are the closest things to prized possessions I have wouldn't really matter. I like to travel light.

I'd have to take my meds so that I don't die, but other than that, just the clothes will be fine.

And some snacks!

Great post.

Posted by: Trix at September 12, 2007 12:46 PM

As long as the cat is safe, that's what is most important- I'd grab his bag of food because it's prescription

-If I can't carry my laptop bag separately, that goes in- it's got laptop, external hard drive, and digital camera, as well as all the cords and cables and chargers and whatnot.
-Purse has cell phone and ipods (yes, plural).
-Hatbox full of precious memories
-hand painted jewelry box (which happens to not contain jewelry, but my passport and birth certificate)
-inlaid wood music box
-as many framed photos as I could grab quickly

For the clothes bag however, I'd pack a couple of changes of underwear, because everything else is easily replaced and I can wear the same shirt/jeans for a couple days if I have to, and the rest of that bag would be SCA garb- mainly my two hand beaded Italian court gowns and my embroidered chemise.

Posted by: Judy at September 12, 2007 1:01 PM

Hard drives and photos. Everything else is replaceable.

Posted by: Brad at September 12, 2007 1:07 PM

- external hard drive (has copies of pictures scanned in)
- laptop
- accordian file from fire proof safe that has all our (and kids') birth certificates, wedding negatives, important farm papers, wills, etc.) in it
- purse (has medications, cell phone, etc)
- phone chargers

I'm counting on you to keep the critters and kids safe!

Posted by: sue at September 12, 2007 1:21 PM

What I want to know is how the hell are the people, animals and supplies going to make it, but the computers, photo albums and fire safes are not. I really need to read whatever it is your reading so I get a better grasp of what's going down here. So, what is it you are reading?

Posted by: Amy at September 12, 2007 1:36 PM

External hard drive. My 23 year-old Snoopy. Baggy of grandmother's and mom's jewelry. Digital camera. Folders containing old letters and photos I just dug up from home and notes from fortune tellers my mom had collected over the years. Purse. And our firesafe with everything else in it.

Everything else one needs to survive a disaster is already packed in either Brandon's or my car. Heh.

Posted by: oakley at September 12, 2007 3:17 PM

Well since I wouldn't have to worry about my family I would take my laptop since it has all my pictures, my photo albums, and probably a couple books so I'd have something to read.

Posted by: Adi at September 12, 2007 4:26 PM

Well since I wouldn't have to worry about my family I would take my laptop since it has all my pictures, my photo albums, and probably a couple books so I'd have something to read.

Posted by: Adi at September 12, 2007 4:26 PM

Well since I wouldn't have to worry about my family I would take my laptop since it has all my pictures, my photo albums, and probably a couple books so I'd have something to read.

Posted by: Adi at September 12, 2007 4:26 PM

sorry, didn't mean to post the same comment three times

Posted by: Adi at September 12, 2007 4:27 PM

Great question, I had to think a little about this one and there really isn't a whole lot beyond what you threw out there. Hard drives ofcourse. camera. box containing important papers. That's it.

Posted by: Denise at September 12, 2007 6:35 PM family and pets are really okay? And there's food where we'll be?

That's all I need.

Posted by: Kara at September 12, 2007 6:41 PM

This is making me feel like i have to go make an emergency bin or something - I guess I would do the same, grab my wedding album & the boys baby books, formula & baby food for the baby, diapers, portable dvd player and kids movies, books for the kids, my Uggs. I really think I need to be more prepared for something like this! Good post :)

Posted by: Danielle at September 12, 2007 8:19 PM

Photos and laptop (because it has photos) and my boxes of letters and notes and my childhood journals. Would it fit in the duffel? Maybe, maybe not. But I would shove hard to get it all in there. Other than that, I'm good.

Posted by: Librarian Girl at September 12, 2007 9:54 PM

several years ago we had fires threatning were we lived and I was forced to pack a bag. What did I pack:

1) Photos
2) Bottle of Red Wine
3) Torch
4) Bottle opener
5) my journal

Sounded good to me then, still sounds quite good to me.

Posted by: Allycat at September 12, 2007 10:57 PM

WOW!! ...Well as long as my family and pets were ok. I really wouldn't need anything else. I would be sad to lose certain things but I rebuild later on, if we survived. Although...if there was time and it wouldn't cause anyone harm for me to grab a few things...I would have to say I'd like to bring at least...

1) My iPod
2) Hard drive from my main computer
3) My laptop
4) my digital CD's (They have backups of all our photos. (I am currently in a project of scanning in all of our older photo from pre-digital camera days.)
5) Our firesafe box. All our important stuff is in there, lol.
6) my husband's Sirius radio (So we could jam out to the natural disaster in style, lol)
7) My cameras (batteries too, lol) so I could photograph the natural disaster and our impending death, lol
8)My husband's PSP and his games.
9)I have a small-ish size box that I have my kids baby books in, as well as a few other things I have been saving. I might be temped to grab this If I remembered it. But I might not remember it in a crisis.
10) I have a "to go" bin for my kids for camping and car trips. It's about the size of 1 large shoe box...maybe one that contained a womens pair of boots... I would grab that. Inside that is the following. 2 decks of cards, Uno, Dice, Skipbo, Yatzee, paper, pens and pencils, Puzzle books, coloring books, crayons, toy cars, 3 gameboys and a small container (not even large enough for a sandwich) of gameboy games(about 16 games), the gameboy charger, and maybe a few other things I can't place at this moment.

How big is this bag anyway?! LOL

Posted by: Tammy at September 13, 2007 9:01 AM

I must be looking forward to the end of the world because I think about this often. I have a stack of DVDs that I have made from every month of Declan's life - YES, EVERY MONTH - which also have backups of the photos from that month of them. I would absolutely sweep those into the duffel bag.

Posted by: aimee/greeblemonkey at September 14, 2007 3:32 PM