Set a Long Distant Reminder
June 9, 2017 5:37 PM   Subscribe

What would the best method be to set a reminder for myself ten or twenty years in the future?

Pretty simple really. I could use Google Calendar but I don't feel that secure in the idea that I will be using it in a decade, much less two. Is there any good way to set very long time reminders that have a high chance of success? Doesn't have to be a technological solution, but I would prefer to be able to set it and forget it, so like gluing notes to my bathroom mirror wouldn't be ideal.
posted by Literaryhero to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Buy a long-term certificate of deposit with a small amount of money. Specify the term such that the renewal date is close to when you need to be reminded. When the bank sends you the renewal notice, that's your reminder.
posted by NormieP at 5:55 PM on June 9, 2017 [12 favorites]

You could also register a DNS domain for 10/20 years and sign up for expiration reminder emails, maybe as a backup to the bank idea.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:35 PM on June 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Buy a bottle of vintage port. Tape a note to it.
Or put in a calendar item and reset it forward every 2 years.
posted by theora55 at 7:25 PM on June 9, 2017

Give ten friends a sealed envelope with two letters inside. Write "do not open until #date". In the letter addressed to the friend say something nice/funny and ask them to deliver the other envelope to you by whatever means are convenient at #date.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 7:36 PM on June 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

I sent myself an email using in 2010. It's not foolproof of course, but what could be?
posted by Countess Elena at 7:57 PM on June 9, 2017

Set up an arrangement with a law firm? That's how they seem to do it in classic English mysteries…
posted by Lexica at 7:57 PM on June 9, 2017 [13 favorites]

Attach a note with a paperclip to your passport (you can remove it when traveling, but make sure to put it back when you're done). When you renew your passport, move it to the new one. Eventually there will come a day when you look at your passport and there will be a reasonable number of years remaining such that you can put it in your calendar or whatever we are using at that point in time.

Assuming you have a passport and use it every so often, I think that's a good solution that doesn't involve technology or involve other people, because a passport (and its replacement) is pretty much the only document you're guaranteed to use with some regularity from decade to decade.
posted by acidic at 8:22 PM on June 9, 2017 [11 favorites]

Depending on your age, you could make a far-future colonoscopy appointment. They aren't gonna let you forget that!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:24 PM on June 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Does it have to be a surprise when it comes? If not, I just recommend Bullet Journaling. The "future log" part lets you make short notes about things coming up in the 6 months-1 year horizon, and then I've established similiar pages for 5 year plans, life goals, etc. When you start a new journal, just transfer the content of these pages. The whole premise of the Bullet Journal is that you can't ever forget what you've planned pr wanted, because you keep encountering/migrating it.
posted by Miko at 8:39 PM on June 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Get a tattoo, with intervals of at least a decade then one leg should provide durable and accessible reminder storage for a lifetime (but no longer).
posted by JonB at 10:27 PM on June 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Back around 2004 I used one of those free email services to send myself a email 5 years in the future.

Was surprised that I got the email 5 years hence, and yes, shit went down the way I feared it would have.

But, seriously, seconding Lexica - this is something that one can set up with a law firm to do. You can inquire about failsafe contingencies if the law firm changes structure/goes under.

In Back to the Future 3 (?)... Doc Brown used Western Union to deliver a telegram 70 years from the date he sent it.
posted by porpoise at 1:14 AM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone. I like the ideas, particularly the more outside the box ones. The lawyer route is probably the way to go, but I'm not really into spending any money on this, so I will probably go with Google calendar, a free future email service and maybe writing notes to my friends. One of them is bound to work.

If you have other ideas, though, keep them coming. I like this.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:01 AM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

(in my ten year note I will include an aside to ask the mods to update this thread, so you all can be a party to my future success)
posted by Literaryhero at 4:02 AM on June 10, 2017 [23 favorites]

In our household, we would put it in the basket of receipts, etc, being saved for tax purposes. It would get rolled over for another year at tax time.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:39 AM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would set myself a note in my calendar one year from now. Each year, set a new reminder one year from then. Eventually you hit your target year. While you may switch technology along the line, you should have a carry over year where you are using both the old and new.
posted by hydra77 at 9:10 AM on June 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Plant a deciduous tree.

Every year, when the leaves start to change colour, remind yourself how many years it's been since you planted it.
posted by flabdablet at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

In the 798 Art District of Beijing there's a artsy and functional shop called "Panda Slow Mail" 熊猫慢递, and they do exactly what you are looking for: You give them a letter or postcard and they deliver it at a future date that can be up to decades from now. All the results from the English internet only have news from 2011 at the latest, but it's still open for business in 2017. Here's the review pages I found at a Yelp-like website for shop.

Using Google Translate and to the best that I can determine, it seems that it's 59 RMB to keep up to one year, and 10 RMB for each additional year. In USD that's $8.68 for one year, and $1.47 for each additional year. I'm not sure if you're required to use their stationary to send a letter/postcard. All delivery is fulfilled by China Post (who are capable of handing it off to USPS or another postal service for international delivery). Also not certain how reliable they are, but 4.5 stars after 203 reviews seems pretty good. I couldn't find if they have a website to order a message to be mailed online OR cost differences for international postage. If someone else digs up a website or app, I'd be interested.

In summary, if you are in Beijing or will be in the future (or know someone there or maybe even a trustworthy Mefite volunteers), then Panda Slow Mail is one other option available.
posted by FJT at 1:04 PM on June 10, 2017 [10 favorites]

Do you use a paper wall calendar? Could you stick a note in the back of that, and move it to the new calendar each year, until you're a year away, and mark it on the calendar?
posted by needlegrrl at 4:41 PM on June 10, 2017

I was thinking that it would be easy to find a clock which did this, but a couple of hours of Googling proves me wrong. Bertrand Planes' Life Clock would work, if only it had an alarm hand. The Casio 10-year battery line of watches will just barely last long enough, but none of the ones I looked at had the ability to set an alarm for a specific day. Leaving a cell phone or a computer plugged in for a decade with an alarm/calendar reminder set appears to be the only easy in-house method for doing this which wouldn't require active maintenance or (like a 10 year journal) active checking.

As you've already figured out, redundancy is the key when dealing with unreliable systems. The power might go out for a week, or postal workers might go on strike, or your house might burn down, or Google might go bankrupt. The solution isn't to find a single fail-proof method, but to find multiple methods with different failure modes. It's like, man, they'll never build a 10,000 year clock that actually lasts 10,000 years, but everybody's calendar in every civilization on earth is the 10,000 year clock, even though each individual calendar is ephemeral.
posted by clawsoon at 11:58 PM on June 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The solution isn't to find a single fail-proof method, but to find multiple methods with different failure modes.

Therein lies the rub. It is almost impossible (for me) to find a digital solution that doesn't involve Google. I plan on moving at least once in the next ten years, all of my friends are unreliable and I am too. I might try the passport idea, but it requires a certain amount of maintenance and as I just said I am unreliable.

Maybe the tattoo is the way to go. It will be a slow burn version of Memento.
posted by Literaryhero at 1:25 AM on June 11, 2017

Thought of something else. Make yourself a time capsule, make it look very cool so you don't want to throw it away, display it somewhere in your house. It's pretty easy to get a stainless steel container engraved, for example.
posted by acidic at 9:57 AM on June 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not sure this gets exactly to what you are looking for, but this countdown timer might be an answer. You can set it all the way to the year 2099, and it will count down the days, hours, and minutes until your date. I've also seen these with customizable faceplates, so you can keep your end date in mind.

Again, doesn't sound like this is exactly what you're looking for, but might be a nice solution for others looking for similar tools.
posted by ToucanDoug at 1:55 PM on June 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

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