Losing Everything

Have you ever thought “what if I lose everything”?

In the past I thought of it briefly perhaps and then moved on to something else. Lately though I have considered it much more.

In the past couple of years, two people I work with lost much of their possessions in house fires, and more recently a good friend lost absolutely everything to “The Beast”, the fire in, around, and through, Fort McMurray.

We hear often stated something like “we are all fine, everything else can be replaced”, and that is true… well mostly. The blessing that “we are all fine”, or some version of, is the most wonderful thing of course, and is what we always hope for. It is the “everything else can be replaced” which becomes, at times and in many ways, the sticky wicket.

The “everything else” is of quite a diverse variety. I approach it as three basic categories.

There is the “physical” stuff: clothing, furniture, kitchenware, tools, electronics, recreational equipment, personal effects and so on. Of course the recommendation is that we have all of these things documented so as to assist with replacement negotiations with the insurance folks. Here I must say that the need for having insurance goes without saying in my opinion.

Next comes the “emotional” stuff. This consists of items which may, or may not, have a tangible value, however they do have high emotional value, usually classified as “memories”. In this area I feel that each of us must deal with these “memories” in our own fashion, as there is no easy, or defined, approach to take in this situation.

ft-mcmurray-friendFinally comes the “digital”the-fire stuff. This is what we have on our computers, tablets, smartphones and so on. The occasion which brings this sharply to mind for me was the experiences my Fort McMurray friend. After the fire, all that was left of their house was an essentially an empty basement. Even most of the metal pipes and such were melted and gone. I thank my friend for allowing me to use these photos of their house after the fire to demonstrate my thinking.
It was the third aspect, the “digital” stuff that really got me going. You see, I have everything on my computer, and I mean everything. Finances, work related information, contact lists, organization minutes, and on and on. My life activities are pretty much all there. Then I have “physical” stuff, details of things around the house, when purchased, value, even some photos. Valuable for dealing with insurance folks. And, I also have “emotional” stuff, scans of family documents, several hundred thousand photos going back many years, videos and much more.

So… what happens to all of this “digital” stuff? Pretty much since computers appeared on the scene the term “backup” appeared. It is basically a mantra repeated for years. Backup on floppy disks, backup on hard drives, backup on memory sticks, and now, backup in the cloud. Well, in a situation such as a devastating fire the recommendation has always been, have your backup offsite, put those floppy disks, hard drives or memory sticks in a safety deposit box, a friend’s house, somewhere offsite. I once knew a computer professional who kept backups in his car trunk, so they were always with him.

Now, we have the “cloud”. It is a backup, it is offsite. Should your computer equipment be destroyed, you can still access whatever you have placed in the cloud. Some refuse to consider this choice, feeling that it is insecure and that their identity will be stolen, while others totally embrace the concept. Most of us are somewhere in between.

In my case, I make extensive use of the “cloud”, however I don’t put all my eggs in one basket, but rather utilize five of the main cloud storage packages. I also maintain onsite backups for everything, just in case. My reasoning for utilizing the “cloud” was reinforced upon learning what my Fort McMurray friend had to go through to recover their paperwork lives, financial and other. Personally, I scan all our documents, which will make their replacement less stressful. There is also the side effect that all is laid out in an organized fashion when, at some point, it will be needed by our estate executor.

So, what should you do? That, my friends, is entirely up to you. My advice is to think about losing everything, consider how you would be affected, what do you have in place now, or what could you put in place to help mitigate the situation should it occur.

I am doing what I believe will work best for us. All I suggest is that you do the same.

Work Thoughts

Tonight I’m at work, for the first time in 2017. Some of you know where I work, others do not.

It is, or at least it can be, an interesting place where I work. You see, I’m in jail. Since the summer of 2012 I have worked as a casual guard in the cellblock of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment in Strathcona County (just east of Edmonton).

Casual means that I get called to fill in for the regular guards when needed, such as holidays, illness and so on. We work twelve hour shifts, 6 to 6, either days or nights.

So what do I do. Here is a brief overview. When an individual is arrested, they are brought to the cellblock to be dealt with. I do the booking process, then typically they are given the opportunity to make a phone call after which they are placed in a cell while the RCMP member looks after all the legal stuff, which may include interviews, charges, justice of the peace hearings, breathalyzer and such. Whatever the case, at some point (within twenty-four hours) they are released or transported to the Edmonton Remand Centre or Edmonton Young Offender Centre.


My primary task is to record all that happens while the prisoner is in the cellblock, which includes monitoring them while in their cell on a regular basis (intervals of fifteen minutes or less). This is done by a combination of physically looking in the cell and video.

The regular guards of course have more duties, as they are Peace Officers with Strathcona County Enforcement Services, whilst I, as casual, am not.

So what is it like to work here? Well, as noted above, the word “interesting” comes to mind, however there are times when “interesting” could not even begin to describe events. We deal with over 1200 prisoners per year, from public intoxication to domestic disputes to drugs to murder, and much more in between. They can be male or female, range in age from pre-teen to eighty something, and can include every personality one could imagine (and then some). It can be positively quiet, or it can be brutally noisy. It can be slow, boring even, or it can be frustratingly busy. Can’t honestly say it is ever peaceful, however it can be totally aggravating.

So why do I work here. Because it’s a job? Just for the money? There are times when I wonder that myself. One reason in my mind is the RCMP members here. I am proud to have worked with the men and women at this detachment over the past four and a half years. They are people just like the rest of us, however as police officers they frequently deal with aspects of society that most of us would prefer to avoid, or perhaps not even acknowledge. Are they perfect – no. Do they do their best – for the most part yes. Do I always agree with them – no. Do I respect them – yes.

So there you go, a few thoughts about where this retired guy works. How long will I work here. Who knows. The joy of being retired is I work when I want to work and will work until I no longer want to.

Thanks for reading. As always, feedback is welcome.

Talk About Sporatic

Wowzers! Holy Dingle! Gee Willikers!

These could be terms used to describe the proliferation of posts that I’ve had over the past two years.

Oh wait, that should actually be the dearth of posts I’ve had over the past two years.

Many years ago, I made a New Year’s Resolution – not to make New Year’s Resolutions – and I have kept it extremely well.

With that in mind, I will not make a resolution here, however I will seriously consider the aspect of writing blog posts a wee bit more often. (Notice how much leeway I give myself.)

Over the years I have done posts using several different platforms, like Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress. Now I have decided to stick with one, and have chosen WordPress and have moved everything here.

So, we will proceed, and try to talk about things that life decides to bring us.