A Watch that Walks the Walk

IMG_1412The Outdoor Retailer was full of flashy, over-lit booths showcasing trendy gear that mostly costs a fortune. Rather than get sucked into the glitz, I gravitated to the unassuming entities. One of them was the Bertucci Watch booth.

Mike Bertucci, the president of the Illinois-based company, stood behind the glass counter. I brought him my personal time piece beefs:

  • Companies claim their watches are luminous at night. They aren’t. Those “glow in the dark” hands and faces don’t glow enough for one to tell the time. So, what’s the point?
  • Nice, durable men’s watches don’t fit women’s wrists.
  • The crown (the small, round knob used to set the time and usually placed at three o’clock) often digs into the top of the wrist or gets caught on something, unsetting the time.
  • Really good watches cost too much and still can’t handle the inevitable tough treatment any outdoors-y person would give it.

A crude photo of the watch at 3 am, taken while camping

Bertucci, who founded his company a decade ago in , showed me his line of field watches. He likes to say they’re understated and they over-perform. Later, he sent me one of his Original Classic Analog watches to go up against my complaints.

I took it camping, hiking, and riding. And I guess I’ll just have to stop grumbling now.

  • Tossing hay to the horses after sunset and later, in a dark tent, I could read the time just fine. Who wants to rely on a cell phone for time, especially in the backcountry when power is iffy and you’re trying to get away from tech anyway? Hooray!
  • The crown is placed at four o’clock. It doesn’t dig into my wrist and doesn’t catch on anything, even a bracelet on the same wrist.
  • The watch is light (less than two ounces), not the least bit clunky, but seems ready for everything this watch abuser is ready to hand out.
  • Holes in the band accommodate the smallest wrists. No problem.

Thanks, Mike. Problems solved.

Bertucci watches retail from about $60 to $200, depending on features and style. The Original Classic I reviewed costs about $169.bertucci12070

UtahOutsider interviews TEDx Organizer, Part I

In this three-part series, we talk with Anna Decker, organizer of the TEDx program at the Leonardo (and additional simulcast sites) Saturday, September 20.

Decker, 31, is a University of Utah graduate student with experience in event planning. She wanted to use the TED platform “for a local conversation TEDx_logo_sydney_022309that was interdisciplinary and acceptable to the entire community… I plan on doing it annually and indefinitely.”

Part I:

UO: Your location at the Leonardo has been sold out for months. Why not have a bigger venue?

AD: Imagine the scope of managing a brand globally. You’ve got folks in Australia, Korea, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Salt Lake City, Utah, all using the same brand. We’ve all played the game Telephone at some time in our life. Things start to get diluted as you’re managing something on that scale.

What TED really wants to make sure that the brand is being maintained intact, that “Ideas worth spreading” stay “Ideas worth spreading.”

Anna Decker

Anna Decker

It’s really, really easy to fall into also saying “and this is my personal investment in it. I really want to sell you that.” It takes a really, really mature person and group of people to be able to curate and pull off that kind of event.

I have lots of experience, international experience, in planning events, in academia, health care, and government agencies. That was always on my radar. I have a really great team of people who have been able to stay pure to the Ideas Worth Spreading rather than self-promotion. But that’s hard to do.

From TED’s perspective of trying to maintain this brand integrity, this refreshing approach of ‘let’s just talk about ideas rather than trying to sell each other our businesses or our books or whatnot’ That’s been their approach.

UO: It’s a bit like the Rolling Stones saying they want to always do bar gigs and stay out of arenas?

AD: Absolutely.

UO: Can you tell me a bit about the selection process?

TEDx speakers will be at The Leonardo, Salt Lake City

TEDx speakers will be at The Leonardo, Salt Lake City

We had 80 to 90 applicants. We blinded them. I had one person remove any identifying information – the name of their organization, the name of the individual – from the big idea. We curated for ideas.

What is the big idea that’s being proposed here?

From there, again having that very diligent conversation of ‘it’s our job to put our biases aside here.’

We just judged on the quality of the idea:

Is it action-oriented?

How impactful is it?

How pertinent is it to our city?

From there we chose a first round of finalists. They all submitted a two-minute video, so we could see who they are as individuals and get some idea of the dynamics of their presentation style and their energy and those other things which are obviously important.

From there we chose our finalists. I think we’ll probably stick with that process for next year, too. It really brought us some gems that we didn’t even know about.

Read Part II

Read Part III

Klymit is Cool

klymitEver have one of those random public transit encounters in which everything turns out friendly and even fortuitous?

I had such an encounter, taking the train home from the Outdoor Retailer this summer. In my fog, I’d forgotten to take off my OR badge. An older gentleman noticed it and mentioned his son was staffing a booth there.

The Klymit booth was off the radar until that chance meeting. But I was quickly impressed by their offerings: ultralight sleeping pads, packs, and other gear. Since I have a bone to pick with most sleeping pad makers, I gravitated to the Static V Luxe pad.

It weighs just a pound and a half (26 ounces, actually) and the Klymit folks told me it’d feel like my mattress at home.

  • How could it be?
  • How could it even be better than my Therm-a-rest Luxury pad, which is more than twice as heavy and bulky?

I tried out the Static V Luxe for several nights with nothing but the bottom of a tent separating me from rocks, dirt and twigs.

It took about five minutes to inflate the Klymit pad, using one of two nifty push/pull valves located at the top corners. Theoretically, there are two valves IMG_2941for two sleepers, but in my mind this is a one-person deal. It would be tough to share and perhaps tough to have two of these 30-inch wide pads in my two-person tent. (But the dogs would sure appreciate it!)

I’m a tosser and turner; the width and design meant I could get restless and get settled without scuttling myself off the pad. The contoured sides act a bit like bumper rails without giving the sleeper a penned-in feeling. I sleep equally on my stomach, sides, and back. The Static V Luxe was excellent for any position and surprisingly kind to my chronically-pained back. It particularly topped other pads with side-sleeping. With any other pad, my bottom hip would dig into the tent floor. This Klymit pad supported it.

Best of all, when it came to pack up, there was no need to tie the pad onto the outside of the backpack. Without air, it’s smaller than a loaf of bread. Yay! The dogs can have my old pad.


UtahOutsider Interviews TEDx Organizer, Part II

Part II: New Features and Ways to Engage

Read Part I

Read Part III

TEDx_logo_sydney_022309In this three-part series, we talk with Anna Decker, organizer of the TEDx program at the Leonardo (and additional simulcast sites) September 20.

Decker, 31, is a University of Utah graduate student with experience in event planning. She wanted to use the TED platform “for a local conversation that was interdisciplinary and acceptable to the entire community… I plan on doing it annually and indefinitely.”

UO: Is this a full-time job for you?

AD: It’s not. Our staff is all volunteer. This is a one hundred percent volunteer gig. We do it on the side of our businesses and graduate school work. We do this because we’re passionate about our city and about making it a better place for people to live and work.

UO: It’s incredible that you’ve put together such a big event with just volunteers.

Anna Decker

Anna Decker

AD: It really is. It’s one of the most understated parts of the event that’s impressed me: the amount of volunteer hours and community businesses and organizations that have donated their services, skills, or products to pull this thing off.

It literally is a container from the community for the community. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t the team, it was the whole city pulling together and working together to make this thing happen.

We were able to see how much energy and passion there really is in this city. The people want to make a difference. They want to be engaged in something meaningful, something that’s greater than themselves.

It’s been really cool to see that happen and to see all of the hands opening up and saying, ‘ok, this is what we can do to help out. Let’s make this happen.’

UO: There’s the sold-out space at the Leonardo and three simulcast sites (at the Impact Hub, the University of Utah, and the City Library) How many attendees do you expect?

AD: This year, between the live site and simulcast sites, we’ll have somewhere between five to six hundred.

Simulcast sties

Simulcast sties

We also have a lot more people who will be tuning in around the world this year. We have people in New York, Hawaii, the Midwest and India and Guatemala, Egypt, and Sudan who will be tuning in to watch the speakers and participate in the event. It really has snowballed quite a bit from last year.

This year we have an interactive app that not only follows our Zero Waste Initiative but allows anyone around the world to post photos onto the feed, chat with other attendees, rate and review the speakers and ask them questions. It’s all in real time.

That makes it less of a passive engagement of just sitting and listening and more of a conversation that’s happening amidst 600 to who-knows-how-many people in real time. So that’s something we’re really, really excited about this year.

Editor’s Note: When a little fact-checking could have helped TEDx maintain its reputation. Read more about that here.


UtahOutsider Interviews TEDx Organizer, Part III

In this three-part series, we talk with Anna Decker, organizer of the TEDx program at the Leonardo (and additional simulcast sites) September 20.

TEDx_logo_sydney_022309Read Part I

Read Part II

Decker, 31, is a University of Utah graduate student with experience in event planning. She wanted to use the TED platform “for a local conversation that was interdisciplinary and acceptable to the entire community… I plan on doing it annually and indefinitely.”

Part III: Open-mindedness versus Liberalism

UO: I was talking with David Sturt (one of the TEDx speakers) about the idea of open-mindedness. Some equate open-mindedness with liberalism. Yet after talking with Dave, I realized there’re just as many closed-minded liberals as there are closed-minded conservatives.

Do you equate open mindedness with liberalism?


Anna Decker, photo by Really Photography

AD: I don’t. I think open-mindedness is independent from your political beliefs. We have the entire spectrum represented on our committee. We have staunch libertarians to staunch liberals and everything in between.

It’s really fascinating because amidst all that is this amazing coherence within the group. Despite our varying political beliefs, we are all open-minded.

Everyone on the team is willing to consider other perspectives and we’re willing to consider new approaches, new containers for interactions. I think you can be anywhere on the political spectrum and pause.

I think that’s what open-mindedness is: just being able to pause and say ‘what would it be like if I got up, went over and sat in that chair?’ That willingness comes from a level of personal maturity, integrity, and willingness to trust. That can be anyone from any political affiliation.

UO: Have you run into any resistance in Utah, which is heavily conservative and heavily Mormon? As we know, obedience is one of the tenants of the Mormon faith. Could that run counter to TED’s arena of open-mindedness?

AD: Great question. I think it’s a complex issue, especially in the state of Utah where we do have some significant influences that create a general body, a majority way of thinking. But I don’t think these things are static. I think they’re dynamic and ever-changing.

You can look at it from an evolutionary perspective or you can look at it from a developmental psychology perspective:

Parts of our brain are built to protect us, constantly scanning the environment to ask ‘Are there threats?’ ‘Am I in danger?’ ‘Am I safe?’ Those traits are very much still in tact, even from 10,000 years ago.

Researchers are showing that we’re starting to let go or let those parts of our brain not be so active all the time. We can engage a different part of our brain that allows us not only to connect with others, but to see the benefit of connecting with and collaborating with others who may seem different than us.

Graphic from TEDx Salt Lake City

Graphic from TEDx Salt Lake City

We see it not only in Salt Lake City, but in a number of books by researchers at Harvard and MIT, we’re seeing this phenomenon around the world: using the gift of technology to recognize other people who maybe have a different culture or have a different marriage construct. We see that we actually have a lot in common.

Our approach is that we really do not see religion or age or gender or ethnicity. Those just are not factors in our conversation. When we’re looking at speakers or looking at talks, we simply are just not looking left or right, white, black, or any of those things.

Because of that, we haven’t seen a lot of resistance. We haven’t seen a lot of things come up because we’re not speaking to the differences, to the “How is this different?” or “How is this better?”

But rather, we’re coming at it from a place of: This is something that’s important to all of us, something that can be useful to everyone:

  • Who doesn’t care about their health?
  • Who doesn’t care about education?
  • Or how they get from point A to point B in their day?

Those are parts of our world that we’re all engaged with. It’s been our job to approach these topics from a very neutral place.

UO: There are 10 men and just 2 women speaking this year.

AD: Yes, there’s been some scrutiny there. That’s valid…We’d love to see more women speakers on our stage. Less than 10 or 15 percent of the submissions were from women. So, we had a representative number from the entire population of applicants.

So, we will be asking the community:

Tell us what you think.

How can we get more women on our stage?

In a balanced, non-biased, mature way, how can we invite more women to have this opportunity?

We welcome those conversations because at the end of the day, it means that they’re thinking, they care, they want change, and we embrace that 100 percent.

UO: What would your strategy be to accomplish that?

AD: To reach out to those who are passionate about those things and say, ‘We’d like you to know that we’re hosting this event and anyone is welcome…”

Our focus is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading.’ Let’s cast our net wide. Let’s identify all these organizations interested in making sure more voices from this demographic or that demographic are heard. They can do that. We work with them.

But we don’t want to create any sort of artificial bias. For example, I’m a woman. I don’t want to get special treatment for being a woman and I don’t want to get subpar treatment for being a woman. Either way.

I want it to be who I am as an individual…My ideas are what I value most. I want people to look at me and hear my ideas and not have them skewed one way or another by any of those demographic things that I really didn’t have control over.


Not everyone thinks the growth of TEDx events has been a good thing. Read more about that here.



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