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The story behind my stolen laptop

February 16th, 2006 · 40 Comments

I hope the Vancouver drug addict who has my laptop is enjoying the presentation I wrote on storytelling.

‘Cause I’ve got a story to tell!

After our great weekend at Moose Camp and Northern Voice, we decided to stop at the Vancouver Aquarium on the way home, a tradition we started last year after the first Northern Voice. The kids deserved a day of fun for them since they had put up with two days of rather-grown-up blogging conferences. Taking the time for family and photography would help us relax and savor the short vacation before heading back into reality.

Surprise in the Stanley Park parking lot

Three hours later, ready to hit the road, I looked in the van and saw the glove compartment open. With a strange sensation of both horror and numbness, we knew the laptops were gone before we looked for them. The thieves knew what they were doing, and knew what they were taking They were not starving: Coca-Cola and wine were left behind. No, they wanted our valuables, the unzipped suitcase proving their priorities.

At first I was calm. Worse things have happened to me. Worse things could have happened. I wanted to do damage control for the kids (since I’ve failed at that in the past) and pay attention to them while Ted focussed on the loss and made a list for the police. It was a larger loss for him since he lives more online than I do. I felt I could forgive the thieves.We were okay., Not great, but okay.

But in the past few days I’ve been surprised at the emotional reaction within me. First I wanted to tell someone. Anyone. However we had forgotten to charge our cell phones – and now the chargers were gone with the thieves. I had to wait until we came home hours later and I typed out a few emails to share the news.

Looking in the mirror and living what I learned about storytelling

Ironically, I spent weeks studying the power of storytelling as I prepared for my presentation at Northern Voice. Yet I don’t know why I have an urge to tell people our computers were stolen. I realized that not only did I want to tell people, but also I was seeking a certain response to my story to satisfy something within me. Perhaps I am putting the pieces together as I talk. Perhaps I am finding power in the powerlessness. Perhaps it is the way I am grieving this loss. Perhaps, in the break of trust we feel, I am searching for community, searching for a sense of empathy and understanding, searching for someone who will show me the world is okay again.

vowing to be no longer a lurker

Nancy White in her excellent presentation on Saturday (see video here) said that lurkers were the greatest potential powerful force – or something like that (of course, my notes are gone now). At the time I felt convicted, realizing that I need to take more time to comment on posts. I think aggregator reading dissuades me from commenting (too much work to click in and out from the feed, plus my aggregator didn’t allow me to comment on some systems) and I also am trying to do too much with the time I have, rushing when I read.

But I am suddenly seeing the power of response, the power of lurkers, so to speak. Is it that I want my experience validated? I crave conversation. I want to know I am not alone. This is the largest tangible loss I have experienced during my blogging days, the largest loss that I can describe explicitly in this public space and probably the most black and white. It is easy to see that we were wronged. Even if we were stupid to leave our laptops in our van, someone else still took our valuables out of our locked vehicle.


The loss of my laptop and the crime itself have isolated me and cut me off from communication and community. I was angry yesterday morning that I had to spend a day driving to the dealer (an hour from our house) to have the van evaluated and repaired. The kids and I had other plans we had to cancel, plans with our homeschooling group, some of our best friends. I was mad that I – and my three kids – had to pay the price for someone else’s actions with both time and money..and further isolate ourselves.

More than that, of course, without a computer, I can’t send email or blog. We have an old ThinkPad that Ted helped resuscitate since Sunday. I can’t watch videos, as I discovered last night when it crashed. But for the moment it works for email and blogging (note: the ThinkPad is being rebuilt as I finish this post). Although we bought software this fall so we could watch tv on our PowerBooks in time for Turin, we will be missing this Olympics, another loss for our figure-skating-fan-family. We are waiting to work out details with the insurance. And waiting for the next generation of Macs to become available. I may be limping online for a little while perhaps until April.

Even my camera is affected. The cable for downloading pictures was in my laptop bag. And the kids and I fillled up the memory card while we were in the Aquarium. I had imagined coming home and trying to make more videos. The kids wanted to post pictures. Now I’ll be happy if we can figure out a way to get the images off of the camera sometime. Photography too is a way to express myself, a way that has been cut off by the crime.

Counting our losses

The losses are tangible, large and sentimental. The poster Nancy White made with the girls during the Blogs in the Bedroom session was taken too. I wonder what the thief thought of that! At least I uploaded some photos to Flickr before we left the hotel. I lost photographs. I lost my entire “Starting with Fire” talk. I had a backup copy of my presentation, but it was in Ted’s bag. I still have a stack of printed papers I used when compiling my notes, a stack I had planned to toss when returning from the weekend, but now will keep. So the talk I gave on Saturday was exclusively for Northern Voice! Thanks to Nancy’s detailed notes and othersn(I’ll list more links later) I’m sure I could put it back together if I wanted to do so. I also lost my remote for presentations, two DVDs I brought to amuse the kids, a copy of The Cat in the Hat and a book of letters written by Jim Elliot (that should give me pause).

But I think I am more disturbed by the emotional impact. I miss the first computer that was truly mine. I liked that laptop! I’m missing my pictures and notes. I’m missing the Mac software I had figured out how to use, now that I’m back to an old Windows machine. I’m surprised by my sorrow.

Losing my religion of locks …and control

I’m overwhelmed by the work. I’m surprised at the amount of energy it has taken me to write this blogpost.I had a good cry on the drive home, after we crossed the border. At night I fall asleep early, too tired to do what I need to do to keep the household going, clutter accumulating on my desk and in the corners of the countertop. There’s a feeling of depression perhaps and certainly futility. My faith has been broken, not my faith in people as much as my faith in locks. Mitch Ratcliffe wrote a post on locks at the end of last year when he installed the first lock on his home titled How I got a key to my house after five years, and I drafted a post in response, describing how I had grown up believing in locks (yes, I also lost all my drafts of posts – another reason to publish rather than polish!). Locks were like religion to me. We believe in deadbolts. At every home Ted and I have had together, we’ve been meticulous about locks. The last thing I do at night is check the doors. I constantly lock the car. Even though I live on an island with a low crime rate, where many still leave doors and cars open. Yet not even a lock protects us from harm. Certainly I don’t like knowing strangers have rummaged through my underwear but I like less the reminder that I can’t control what happens to us.

I need normalcy to return. Yet I know things will never be what they were.

Failing at forgiveness

I’m realizing I am lousy at forgiveness. I’ve felt that I have learned to forgive others in my life. In particular I like to think I’ve been able to go forward from a painful childhood and build my own family in better ways. But I am seeing how hard it is to forgive someone when you have to live with the damage every day. I’m wondering whether I know how to forgive at all. Maybe I’m only able to forgive when the situation improves and I can forget about the loss. Wow. Losing my laptop affected my lifestyle, my community, my mental and emotional wellbeing. It was one thing to sit on the curb outside the Aquarium while waiting for the Mounties to arrive and think I could forgive the thieves. I’m finding it is another thing to return home and constantly change my routines because of someone else’s choices and crimes. Even as I write this post, I am always aware of what was stolen, as I try to hack in html instead of my WSIWYG ecto editor I enjoyed. Forgiveness is indeed divine, something beyond my own abilities and limits. I can only imagine how those with larger losses in life try to cope. I think I am finding more sensitivity and insight for others in painful situations, seeing into the stories around me.

Bad Things Happen

And Good Things Happen with Bad Things. I’ve been amazed by Ted’s response to the situation, his kindness and calm demeanor, despite the fact that a stolen computer might be near the top of his list of nightmares.He never once blamed me, although I blamed myself, since I was the one who locked the car (I am now quite certain, based on evidence, that I did lock it). Even now he is sharing his Linux box with me as the rehabilitated ThinkPad crashed this morning and needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up, more work for my thoughtful husband and technologist who wants me to maintain my online life somehow in the midst of this loss.As I wrote on his Valentines card yesterday I love him more.

This incident has also been a good opportunity. for uis to talk to the kids. Abigail reacted “I didn’t think something like this would happen to us.” I remember being her age and feeling the same way – only when my parents divorced. Bad Things always happened to other people. There must be something that happens around age seven or eight when you begin to realize that the world is not safe, a loss of innocence perhaps, a gain in awareness of reality and the ugliness of life. Even Elisabeth, our three year old, felt compelled to tell her swimming teacher about the theft in her preschool babble. Living on Bainbridge Island and in our home, our kids probably inhabit a relatively safe world, one that was rocked by an opportunist on Sunday in Stanley Park.

Ted and I have taken this opportunity to let the kids know that Bad Things Happen. Conversations have included topics from Nancy Kerrigan’s knee (it fit well with Michelle Kwan’s swan song and the OLympics) to child abductors to stories of stealing from each of our own childhoods and one particularly animated tale from our early married life involving earrings and a chase scene. We read the Bible as a family, and even if one disregards any spiritual value to the tales in that book, from the beginning the stories reveal how people do Bad Things to each other. So on the one hand, crime should not be a surprise. Yet it’s another thing to tell your kids how awful humans can be to each other, and to have them get a glimpse of it with their wide trusting eyes.

the story behind the stealing

One highlight of the experience was meeting the Vancouver Police Mounted Squad. The horses cheered up the kids, and the police had stickers to distribute too. The officers said that the theft rate is due to the drug problem in the city. They suspected our computers were probably stolen by someone who needed cash to get a hit or get high.

More than once I’ve wondered about the person or people who took our laptops. “Stories make us merciful,” I said on Saturday from the stage. I imagine the story behind the stealing. I don’t know what it is. I’ll probably never know. We don’t expect to see those laptops again or find out who took them. But I want a story to make me merciful. I want a story to help me be compassionate. I want a story to help me forgive and forget…and go forward.

Yesterday after making a stack of sandwiches for lunch and wrestling with emotions of frustration and anger, we headed to the mechanic, prepared to spend the day sitting in the lounge. I was pleasantly surprised when the dealership fixed our car for less than expected. On the way home, I stopped at a park and let the girls get exercise. As the three became a blur of purple and pink against the green, bouncing across the grass in the sunshine, I think I felt their freedom. I think I felt forgiveness.

how to help

Here’s a way to help me: Please leave your blog url in the comments below to help me rebuild my list of aggregator feeds. .I also lost the list of blogs I read! If you don’t want to leave it publicly, please send it to harrowme AT yahoo.com. Thanks. And thanks to all of you who responded so kindly to my anniversary post (I’ll use that list of links too) and to Ted’s post.

Thank you for listening!

Tags: northernvoice

40 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Susan Kitchens // Feb 16, 2006 at 12:20 am

    Gak! Hugs! Here’s my blog URL, and if you want me to re-send the emails with some storytelling ideas that I sent you, I’ll be happy to do so.

  • 2 chris // Feb 16, 2006 at 1:02 am

    So sorry – herewith Busker URL. Also, come March my email will be busker@gmail.com til i work out what the London telecom folks offer.

  • 3 Katherine // Feb 16, 2006 at 4:33 am

    I love you, Julie.

  • 4 Jean // Feb 16, 2006 at 5:03 am

    So sorry! Big hugs to both of you! I appreciate the way you tell the story very much and was deeply touched by what you said about his calm and generous reaction making you look at Ted with a burst of love.

  • 5 Sophie the Baboon // Feb 16, 2006 at 5:55 am

    Very nicely written story, and the good news is that this will eventually turn into a growing experience for you and your young family. Laptops can be replaced, and even better, when you get the new one it will be much better than the old one. Not like friends or family, there is no replacing them. Look for the silver linings, the unexpected benefits of the new space this opens up. Also, I don’t have a URL to subscribe to, I’m just a baboon! 🙂

  • 6 jeffy // Feb 16, 2006 at 7:21 am

    Of all the stuff in my life, I think I could part with almost any of it without too much pain. But the laptop would be like a physical blow. Thanks for the reminder that backups should be done early and often so at least the data loss can be minimized if disaster (or a desperate human) strikes.

    My condolences!

  • 7 Steve Kirks // Feb 16, 2006 at 8:00 am


    I’m thankful you took the time to write this story. It’s making me reevaluate my own laptop security and my own perceptions of my personal security, but in a positive way.

    I’m Steve Kirks and my weblog is http://houseofwarwick.com/rss.xml

  • 8 Amanda // Feb 16, 2006 at 8:38 am

    Oh, Julie, I’m sorry to hear this. Hugs to you.

  • 9 Nickie // Feb 16, 2006 at 9:04 am

    Oh, Julie! i’m sorry to hear about the loss of your laptop. When I part with my Braille note taker, I always feel this immense sense of loss. I can’t imagine how awful it is with the added sense of intrusion of having it stolen. Your honesty about the feelings and challenges of this encounter is much appreciated!

  • 10 enoch choi // Feb 16, 2006 at 9:18 am

    i’m so sorry this happened! God has a reason… your suffering gives you more empathy for His loss…

  • 11 Jim Turner // Feb 16, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    The blog gods will exact their revenge.

  • 12 Morrie // Feb 16, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Julie, sorry to hear about the drama, but you sound really like you;re all handling it admirably. http://moderick.typepad.com

  • 13 Maureen // Feb 16, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Julie,

    I’m so sorry this happened to your family!
    Not to diminish in any way how you are feeling – but I know how you feel! I believe I had forgotten, but when I read your post that very same stomach-sinking, feeling of unreal fog came into my mind.
    Part of the reason we left South Africa was the huge crime rate. I remember coming home on numerous occasions to find a house door open, a burglar guard twisted and the window broken – and sure knowledge that someone had walked in our house. Someone had looked, univited at our walls, our carpets, our beds. Someone had opened our cupboards, someone had stood on our couch to reach a cord to unplug the hi-fi. Someone had been very intentional to take things from us. Things that we worked for, that we saved for. Things that we shared as a family. All of them expensive items that eventually, after the 5th break-in in less than two years, the insurance company would not replace.
    It was hard to forgive. I did, but grudgingly at first.
    I hope you feel okay about it all soon. Your family seems to have a great attitude.

  • 14 Gene // Feb 16, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    Julie – thanks for your expression of positiveness towards Vancouver even if it was the scene of the crime. Your story points to how the drug culture affects us all and why we need to pay attention to it’s causes. We can’t hide from this incredible destructive element in our society. Glad to hear everyone is ok.

  • 15 Bob V // Feb 16, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    Dear Julie,
    I am understanding of your wanting to be able to forgive. However, please don’t feel bad about your feeling not able to. My belief is that forgiveness can only be meaningfully bestowed after contrition. Absent that, we have a duty to characterize such acts as unequivocably wrong.

    We cannot forgive actions–only people (and sometimes dogs). Maybe your difficulty with forgiveness stems from there being no one to forgive.

    My humble blog: http://bobvis.blogspot.com
    feed: http://bobvis.blogspot.com/atom.xml

  • 16 Nancy White // Feb 16, 2006 at 5:41 pm

    OH (universal flow of expletives)!!! I’m so sorry.

    A) Practical Stuff (and somehow, the other stuff may still turn up… you never know. Optimist that I am)
    I think someone recorded your talk, so that may be recoverable. And a number of flickr pictures so hopefully that will be enough “jigger” of the memory for reconstruction.

    On the other hand, maybe this is a crucible for your talk 2.0. The one thing that I missed in your talk was the dark side. I’m really trying to hold the light and dark side of things in wholeness these days. (I’m a pollyanna, so this IS an issue.) Stories can hurt and tear. They aren’t just the very beautiful and magical things you spoke about. They are human and thus flawed like us. So now you have a story about that to go with the larger story.

    I have some little prevention tricks on files and travel in the future if you are interested. But right now they sound like the wrong note to play …

    Hugs to all

  • 17 Walker Willingham // Feb 16, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    So sorry to hear this news. The violation is palpable. I’m glad Ted is handling it with such aplomb.

    And have you no regular TV for the Olympics? I love figure skating too – maybe we could arrange something, though we only have rabbit ear TV so are certainly limited to the American networks with variable reception.

    Now, I’d better do that back-up.

  • 18 Jack William Bell // Feb 16, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    That really is a bummer. If I was Ted I would be in a truly foul mood.

    So links…

    Me: http://jackwilliambell.livejournal.com/

    Anita Rowland: http://www.anitarowland.com/

  • 19 Koan Bremner // Feb 16, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    Oh Julie – I feel for your loss so much. I’ve experienced what it’s like to be burgled – and the “loss of my right arm” feeling when the laptop I was then using (a ThinkPad, coincidentally) was summarily destroyed by someone else. I really hope you can resolve your IT issues soon – and that the sense of personal intrusion and violation recedes.

  • 20 Betsy Devine // Feb 17, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Dear Julie–I’m so sorry! Losing two whole computers full of work and memories and your usual comfortable ways of doing things…I’m so glad you’re finding strength and charity inside yourself to share with your kids and with us. Please keep reading my blog and posting your own!


  • 21 lisa // Feb 17, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    I’m sorry for the loss of your laptop.

    You were probably not aware that Vancouver is a haven for car prowlers. They target cars with foreign license plates. I found it frustrating that the BC police are so jaded to the fact and do very little except provide an automated hotline to report your crime. I have had three breakins. It sounds like you may return to Vancouver so be aware that your car is vulnerable in garages. Never park your car overnight in a public garage even with supposed attendants.

    I know this advice is too little too late but I found this out when talking to a policeman that “oh yeah, Vancouver has a huge drug addict population and garaged parked car will get broken into…”

  • 22 Kirsten // Feb 17, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    Agh – so sorry for what you had to go through. I’ve had cars broken into a few times (twice in New York, once in Vancouver) and I find it’s anger more than anything that I feel – only there’s nowhere to direct it, because you’ll never know who it was. It’s immensely frustrating.

    And don’t worry, I’m sure you locked your car. It’s practically a rite of passage in Vancouver to have your car broken into. Our lock was punched out two years ago and we’ve never bothered to have it replaced – we figure the next time they’ll just smash the window, and that would be more of a nuisance. This way if someone’s going to rummage around, they can do so without damaging anything further, and we’re just careful not to leave anything valuable in the car.

    And Lisa’s right – locked garages just give the criminals a quiet and isolated place to work. Our building’s garage gets broken into about every three months or so, despite all the heavy-duty locks on multiple doors. They want to get in and they’re going to get in one way or another. It’s not good.

    Sorry it happened to you. 🙁

  • 23 Bre // Feb 17, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    That was so lame!

    I took some notes during your presentation at nv.

    Here they are, rough and unedited:

    Julie Leung is a blogger from Bainbridge island and she’s given a presentation on stories in blogging.

    Stories are powerful. People have been doing it for a long time, in fact, anthropologists say that our main function as human beings is to share stories. It is our nature. Our neurons connect as babies to create narratives. Daniel Segal says that as parents tell stories, they build stories. Stories help us remember. They knit our identity. They explain us to ourselves and explain ourselves to others.

    The condition disnarativa causes people to lose their ability to make stories and without that power, they lose their identity.

    We live stories, we make up stories, we trade stories, but most importantly we share stories.

    We are surrounded by stories, they are in the sky.

    Stories help make things make sense and connect us to the past. Spiritual stories can remind us of our higher causes.

    It’s been found that stories can heal us and that writing stories can help patients heal faster.

    The world is amazing and we make stories to explain nature.

    Stories build relationships and friendships and family.

    They can change culture. They allow us to explore worlds we cannot reach to new worlds and identities. When we learn stories we learn new ways to be.

    Julie’s Principles of telling stories on your blog.

    Beginning, middle, end, conflict, takes a turn, things change and find resolve.

    But you don’t need a recipe for telling stoires.

    Small stories and discoveries are valuable too.

    Let others inspire you.

    Sometimes stories require an inner journey.

    Include sensory details.

    Daniel Pink: “Empathy is the ultimate reality.”

    Sometimes you can make a blogpost out of single facet of the story.

    What’s going to happen? Don’t tell it all in the first post.

    We are each unique, we each have a voice and your voice will come naturally as you experiment.

    Linking and commenting allows for interactive tales.

    Blogging is transforming storytelling.

    Living through blogging.

    Start with fire, inner desire, truth. Tell the truth.
    The hearth: When we gather around the hearth, we gather together, we are we.

    Stories began a long time ago, but this is our time to tell stories.

  • 24 Todd Blanchard // Feb 17, 2006 at 5:01 pm

    You should start checking ebay for stuff like what you lost. More than a couple stolen items have been found that way.

    Otherwise, I know what you mean about the violation – that’s the worst part of being robbed.

    Wish I could say something more helpful than that.

  • 25 Liz Lawley // Feb 17, 2006 at 11:55 pm

    Oh, dear. So sorry about your losses, both tangible and intangible…

  • 26 Dave Winer // Feb 18, 2006 at 4:30 am

    Hi Julie!

    Look at all the friends you have!!

    I agree with Sophie the Baboon.


    Let’s go for a hike!

    Wish I were in Seattle.

    Say hi to the girls.

  • 27 patti digh // Feb 18, 2006 at 11:18 am

    I have experienced a similar loss; I know the hot rash that hits your face at the realization of being violated in that way, in my case a whole book was captured inside my laptop, just the final edits remained…

    Your story reminded me of hearing Elizabeth Kubler-Ross talk about having people burn down her house. The interviewer: “that must have been devastating–losing everything, all your writings, your belongings, a lifetime of living in that house.”

    “Well,” Kubler-Ross replied, “I realized that I could either see it as completely devastating or completely liberating, and I chose the latter.”

    Perhaps there is a wisdom in her words that will be helpful. I hope so.

  • 28 Kirstin Siemering // Feb 18, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    Julie, I’m so sorry to hear this bad news. Hoping you continue to feel the strength of your connection to the many different communities you belong to even as you rebuild your virtual lifeline. Love, Kirstin

  • 29 anniem // Feb 19, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Julie! I posted a good article this week (http://planetnomad.blogspot.com) on the way Americans handle bad things that happen–may help, may not. Our house has been broken into 3 times in recent years (and the car once) now and we’ve come to be very zen about it. It’s not personal, it didn’t hurt you or your family, it happens so have good insurance and back up everything to your idisk so your backup isn’t dependent on your computer, your bag, or (*gulp*) the disks you left on your desk. Through our insurance checks, we keep upgrading to better computers! In a way, petty theft is a major engine of the economy! In your case, you helped the economy of two countries!

    I don’t mean to be harsh. I’m very sorry for your pain. I’ve felt it first hand. But I’ve found dwelling on that part isn’t very helpful. Especially when you’re a mom. Good luck rebuilding-

  • 30 Brian Hayes // Feb 19, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    I was just web cruising.
    Saw this at http://www.nature-inspired.org/tiki-index.php?page=Julian+F.+V.+Vincent

    Thought of your story telling efforts.

    The Selective Advantage of Art
    One of the basic concepts of evolution is that survival depends on your being just that bit better than the rest. That’s the “advantage”. And natural selection ensures that those better individuals have a better chance of survival. Anything that enhances survival gives “selective advantage”. The prevalence of arts – story-telling, music, dance, graphics, literature, poetry, etc. – suggests that art confers selective advantage. How does the selective advantage operate?

    Consider the premise that your survival is enhanced if you know what’s going to happen next. But you can guess what’s going to happen next only if (a) you know what’s happening now, and (b) you know the sort of thing that then tends to happen. In other words prediction, and hence survival, is based on pattern recognition. Now pattern is one of the basic characteristics of art of all sorts, so is art a safe way of rehearsing a variety of futures? In some instances this is fairly obvious: story-telling of various sorts (acting, literature; especially stories involving sex and survival such as RomCom and the hoodunnit) teaches people how to react under a variety of circumstances. In other instances it’s less obvious – music, for instance. Except, of course, that music is one of the most patterned of arts. And the complexity of that pattern covers a wide range, from chant-like pop music, through the melodies of Mozart and the complexities of Bach to the apparent lack of pattern in the more developed forms of improvised music, classical and jazz. Appreciation of music seems to be associated with the degree to which the listener can appreciate and predict the patterns. If the structure is too simple for the listener and prediction is trivially easy, then the music is boring; if too complex and unpredictable it is also boring because there is no chance of interacting with it (note in passing that harmonic, melodic and rhythmic pattern can all be quantified, so comparisons of expectation and subsequent reality are not only possible but probably easy – a chance for experimental testing). However, if the structure is such that the listener has a certain difficulty making the prediction, then success in that prediction produces a feeling of pleasure which is usually interpreted as “artistic appreciation”, but which can also be interpreted as the feedback mechanism which reinforces behaviour that tends to increase the likelihood of survival – i.e. seek ways to improve skills in pattern recognition and prediction.

    The thesis therefore is that music and the other arts comprise a system for rehearsing pattern recognition skills; the pleasure involved reinforces behaviour likely to improve survival. This suggests that all conversations which involve “artistic appreciation” are doomed never to reach a conclusion (an advantage for some!) since artistic appreciation is a meta-phenomenon with no intrinsic reality. It’s a chat-show gravy-train which will never hit the buffers because there are none! It also explains why artists are often inherently “sexy” (i.e. the opposite sex sees them as a route to enhanced survival of their genes), despite often producing nothing which materially and directly improves survival, such as shelter or more food.

  • 31 Julie // Feb 21, 2006 at 7:21 am

    Wow, thank you, everyone! I will try to respond to each of you as I can, and please know that each comment meant a lot to me! Thanks!

  • 32 Lisa Canter // Feb 22, 2006 at 1:00 am

    I was so sorry to hear of your troubles. May you get enough insurance to buy an even better machine – thus turning it all around!

  • 33 SP // Feb 23, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Congratulations to the thieves that have broken into our Bethnal Green (london) flat not once, but twice in a 6 month period. You hit the jackpot this time. Not only did you get my 15? G4 Powerbook, but you also got my flatmate?s brand new Dell ? which was a replacement for the when you broke in 5 months earlier (September 2005) earlier and robbed us.

    Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have my (old, pictured) Powerbook at work with me so it didn?t get stolen. I was not so lucky this time. The computer that I got for Christmas 2005 was stolen. Hey, we got a Chubb (double lock) and we took precautions. How were we supposed to know that you would use a CHAINSAW AND DRILL TO CUT THROUGH THE METAL BARS AND BREAK IN TROUGH THE WINDOW?

    And how considerate of you to put the chain on the door so we couldn?t get in!

    My laptop was ?hidden? underneath the covers of my bed. It was lying right next to my vibrator. At the very least THANK YOU FOR NOT STEALING MY VIBRATOR AS WELL! As I can honestly say, it?s brought me more enjoyment than my computer (if only my computer cost as much as the Rampant Rabbit Thruster)

    You also stole my iSight camera (Serial 6M5492EPSGK) and my Olypmus C-730 Camera purchased last week. And if I get home and my $100 Apple Gift Card is gone too I?m gonna throw a strop!

    We have also informed Apple UK & USA of the laptop serial number (W85422JKU34). And now, of course, this laptop is recorded as STOLEN on Apple’s international database meaning that it can not be repaired by an Apple Service Centre anywhere in the world. If the laptop is dropped at an Apple Service Centre then Apple will notify the local police and the laptop will be seized.

    The Powerbook is easily identifiable because there is something (I won?t say what) clearly visible on the underside of the machine.

    Ok, so this post may not get my laptop back. But maybe I have put a smile on someone?s face because I?ve had such a sh*t day.

    If anyone on ebay is bidding on a Powerbook, please take a moment to consider that it might be mine that was stolen. Ask for the serial number

    I am offering a ?1000 reward for the safe return of my machine. No questions asked.

    I can be reached at stolenpowerbook@gmail.com or call me at 020 7900 6526


  • 34 Elliot Lee // Feb 24, 2006 at 9:39 am

    I read your entire story. It inspired me. I don’t know if you still read my blog, but here it is. When I have time, I’ll listen to your keynote.

    Best wishes,

  • 35 Bill Harris // Feb 27, 2006 at 7:39 am

    Julie, that’s really bad and sad news, but I sense your ability to write about it authentically and to move on will serve you well.

    Still, I expect it still hurts. Take care, and hang in there.


  • 36 Lauri Sandquist // Feb 28, 2006 at 2:56 pm


    Oh man… I read your story today and like everyone else, know exactly where youre coming from. Those of us who ‘live online’ can very much appreciate your loss.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you and I hope youre able to resolve it for your own sanity down the road.


  • 37 Fred // Mar 20, 2006 at 10:05 am

    I, too had my laptop stolen from my car. I can fully relate to your feelings of anger and helplessness. I keep trying to put the incident behind me, but the anger I feel will not go away. Knowing that someone is using my computer right now infuriates me. Also having to pay for their breaking my car window makes me want to puke.

  • 38 Mary // Nov 24, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Wow, this blog spoke to me. My laptop was taken from my car yesterday in broad daylight. We think it must have been the truck next to me at the restaurant because whoever it was had a hammer at the ready. THey even took the sweater it was hiding under. Thanks for writing what I have been thinking. Every word!

  • 39 Melissa // Jan 18, 2007 at 8:41 am

    When I moved from the UK I left a lot of my precious belongings with a friend a huge book of CD and souveniers from aroung Europe. She said she would mail them….she kept them and won’t even answer me.

    When I was moving last August in CA. someone stole my laptop, my jewelry, my hard drive, makeup…even my glasses. I think that was someone I considered a friend too. Insurance covered none of the UK stuff and most of the US stuff (short of 400 dollars).

    I really don’t know how to move on from these events or how to trust people or myself. I came across your blog acidentally. What did you end up doing to move on?

    P.S. The serial number on my Dell Inspiron 5150 is FCW6851

  • 40 Heather // Mar 9, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I know how you feel. Last year at the York Hilton, while attending my friend�s Aunts wedding, I lost an expensive pearl necklace that had belonged to my grandmother. Everyone says the clasp broke, but I cannot believe no one found it. However, I do remember dancing with this dreamy bloke who suggested I wear my hair up. He reached up the back of my neck and lifted my hair as he spoke. I remember feeling a tingle down the back of my neck. Now, I thought I knew what caused the tingly feeling, but, it was soon after that dance when I noticed my necklace was missing. Nor was I able to track him down, though the reception was quite large. Actually, I heard that a real diamond necklace had also come up missing much later that same evening. Hmmmm.

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