Sunday, January 15, 2012

Things I learned form having my car broken into: Dignity and Digital Security

Friday night I parked my car on the street in down town Cleveland at about 6 p.m. and went up stairs to a friend's apartment. On my passenger seat I had 4 bags lined up: school bag, speech bag, by lunch box, and a cloth bag that had my lap top in it. I didn't think twice about any of this at the time. Three hours later we came back down to go get dinner and my car no longer had a passenger window and I my seat was one bag short. Needless to say someone broke my window and took my laptop bag. 

First of all, I can never say enough that of all the people to have in your family an insurance agent is absolutely positively the best. I called my sister then my aunt (both of whom work at the State Farm office my uncle owns)  and found out my computer wasn't covered but my window was. Well, honesty I was planning on building a new computer when I get my tax returns anyway so it's inconvenient for a little while but honestly not that big of a deal. Actually, the things I'm most disappointed I lost are the tote bag I got in NYC a few years ago and a super long cell phone charger cord.

If you know me personally or you have been reading with me for a little while you will know that for years I was an anxiety-driven ball of barely-functional stress. I also saw a therapist for 5 months to work on this and have now started taking a meditation class to work on this (I will write about the meditation class soon, I haven't had time). This was one of those times that are built to test your personal progress. 

And I kept my cool. I was a little short with the person I was with, and I did call a friend and cry for about 30 seconds, but overall I felt fairly at peace. There was nothing I could do to change the situation and I needed to deal with it instead of letting it wreck me. 

I strongly believe in the Physics of the Quest and that everything happens for a reason. I had several ideas I have been thinking about emphasized by this situation and, according to the Physics, I have found some truth in this situation. 

1) Being lazy, whether it's letting my car be dirty or letting myself be overwhelmed by my dirty car, only creates shame. I can say that I don't care what other people think, but when people get in my car and comment that its dirty it does make me feel ashamed and that's not something I should let continue. Shame is something you allow to happen to you and I need to not allow that to happen anymore. Also, when you create a habit out of having a clean car there is no chance that something like this will happen again. 

*I'm not even going to comment on the fact that I shouldn't have left my computer viable in down town Cleveland because I already knew that. 

2) This is also a matter of personal dignity and, unless we are physically enslaved, we are the keepers of our own dignity. I've been thinking a lot about dignity recently because I've been listening to Unbroke

n by Laural Hillenbrand about Pacific POW's in WWII Japan. The issues of dignity as a life-sustaining force are all throughout this book and I realize that part of maintaining my own dignity is eliminating sources of shame I have control over.

3) There is no substitute for constant vigilance when it comes to taking care of yourself. Friday I was with one computer friend and made a phone call to another techie friend and they both asked me a million questions about what I had on my computer that someone could use to seal my identity, the pretend amount of money I have, or other personal information. And everything the could come up with wasn't a problem. I don't save passwords to my browser, I don't save account numbers or other personal information, and all my files are backed up. Actually, I have a series of passwords I rotate through for different things, periodically coming up with new ones. I do sometimes e-mail these to myself, BUT I only e-mail myself a tag word to let me know what the password is. 

For example (and this isn't a real example of course):
If my password was Odin102010 then I would just email myself the word "Odin". That's way too obvious of an example, and believe me my passwords are NOT that easy. But that is what I mean. Honestly, the hardest thing is to remember my freaking user names because all these work and professional organizations make you come up with a user name and, in the name of online anonymity, I have some that are for professional things and some that are for personal things but the real problem is the ones that are like 8 years old from before I figured out the importance of digital continuity. 

So, in summary, back up your stuff and don't let shame ruin your dignity. 

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