aka National Lampoon’s The Doug’s Take Washington
Side note: Please Don’t Rob Me
n.b. Before I get started, allow me to counter the paranoid reaction of those who have bought into the media hype of sites like Please Rob Me.
- We computer geeks all recognized the potential for sharing sites like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and similar sites to reveal too much information and present opportunities for people to rob you long before Please Rob Me was ever created
- Using these sites is too much work for a professional thief. A friend’s brother is a professional thief and he says he never robs on weekends (that’s when people are home) and that he simply calls the house and if no one answer he busts the door down.
- Most people leave for work by 7:30 in the morning. Professional thieves don’t need to Twitter and Facebook to know this. Yards without toys are more likely to have no one home during the day plus they tend to have nicer things.
- A drive through a neighborhood on trash day reveals who has purchased an HDTV, game system, or computer with less work than social media sites. Remember, to get the information, the thief would have to sift through tons of data.
- The people in the news using Facebook to rob others are almost always related to the victim in someway or another. Even prior to social media, vacation theft is often done by teen friends of the children.
All that said, many people also don’t realize that a simple call to the non-emergency number of the sheriff can initiate a property watch while on vacation. The sheriff asks for the types of cars that will be at the house and if any cars not on the list are there during one of the drive-bys they get questioned. I had to list the cars, make and model, of the house sitters that are staying at our house and watching over our dogs. That’s another one of those things that Please Rob Me fails to mention; social media announcements that someone is out of town does not mean that someone is not at their house.
I’m also fortunate to have good neighbors watching over the house and very lucky to have a right-wing conspiracy theory, Drudge Report reading, Obama is ruining the nation, revolution is just around the corner, gun nut neighbor who has 24/7 video cameras all around his house which capture everything entering or leaving the street. Last time some teenagers took a neighbors car joy riding, he just showed the police the video.
We are heading to the Rally for Sanity! Thursday started at midnight with me still on the computer trying to meet client expectations. Coffee is brewed and I’m ready to program through the night and sleep on the plane. Instead, Comcast turns off the Internet and the television for "scheduled maintenance" for fiber maintenance. Funny, I never had an announcement or warning about that. I call reveals that it will go on through the night but should be up at 6am. 9 hours later, almost to the second, the Internet returns and I’m at wits end. My attention turns to packing for me while Cathy finishes packing for 4 people and cleaning and making notes for the house sitters and for the grandparents and generally we are both frantic.
Eventually, our crew is gathered and we head to the airport with Cathy twitching because we are half an hour behind schedule and still need to get gas. I try to check in electronically and am confused when Delta wants to charge us $23 a bag because I thought I read that 1 bag was included. I decide to check in at the airport and they clear up that 1 bag is not included and it is now $25 a bag. Lesson learned-ship your luggage with UPS. At the airport, I use the self-checkin kiosk to get checked in because it looks like self-checkin is now the only option. The printer prints our passes and we drop our luggage at the x-ray machine and head to the gate. As we approach security, I can only find boarding passes for Cathy and I. Maybe children are someone barcoded into ours but I have two and Cathy has one. A quick jaunt down to the Delta counter and a discussion with an employee reveals that I walked away from the kiosk without grabbing all the boarding passes. Apparently it paused in printing and I thought it was done.
This will be Amy and Evan’s first airplane flight and they are beyond themselves with glee. We explain security to the children then proceed through. Of the five of us, the only one who gets hassled is the 5 year old. They did run my Scottevest twice which contacted an Energizer portable battery, a monocular, power cord for an iPhone, the iPhone itself, SkullCandy earbuds coiled in a bag, car keys, a bluetooth headset, a wallet and a change purse with coins but I think it was less about the items and more of a double-take. The TSA agent had this look on his face like "how many pockets?!"
After a short wait at the gate, we board. The plane taxis and Amy and Evan watch out the windows with anticipation. As the plane accelerates, smiles widen and when it leaves the grown, the grins are ear to ear with eyes bugged out. The littlest are thrilled. The teen seemed anxious. And the mother was putting dents into the armrest with her fingers.
We had a brief layover in Cincinnati and another flight to DC. Once in DC, we hailed a cab and gave the directions that AAA had printed on the trip tik. As we approach the Lincoln Memorial, the driver accepts a call and has a conversation in Arabic. For some reason, this convinces Cathy that he is asking for directions but I am certain that he is taking us to the right place because it matches the directions on the trip tik. Turns out, AAA misprinted the address 3325 instead of 3525 and we get dropped off 3 blocks too early cementing in Cathy’s mind that my directions to the cabbie were bad which I suppose they were. Eventually our host was able to find us and later we walked from his house back to where the cabbie left us to accentuate how close we were.
Our drive from the airport to the house shows Washington DC in beauty and diversity. We pass Watergate, the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, Georgetown, Chinatown, and a place we are warned has racial conflict and lots of police. The architecture is varied from old to new but all of it beautiful. The shops look intriguing and I could spend months trying them all. I expect this will be a fantastic and sane trip!