Being Ready for Anything

Yesterday I was in a meeting with a group of people who keep database products for the provincial government; we were talking about methods of maintenance and extraction of some of our data products. As I implied in my last article about Robocalls, I work with some quite large databases and have implemented the ministry’s public “Open Data” policy on our “Download” page. So I’m familiar with security and procedures for communication regarding some hefty data extracts.

At one point we were talking about backups: not just the data themselves, but the methods used. At one point someone actually said: “Now what if you were hit by a bus? Do you have a backup there?” And everyone laughed. But most didn’t realize the irony. Yesterday happened to be the twelve year anniversary of when I woke out of a six-week coma: although there was no bus involved, it was that kind of situation. From the professional perspective, suddenly I had disappeared from work after an accident and, since I was technical manager at the time, everything in my head about my job was staying there. Fortunately I had kept all my employees cross-trained and updated on my activities, or the knowledge of my work would have been lost.

In our culture we don’t like to talk about such things. We don’t like discussions about death, or sickness, or accidents. Often times the question from yesterday’s meeting is expressed as: “What if you won a million dollars and quit?” That’s not quite the same… and I think I’m showing my age when I phrase it that way. A million isn’t quite enough for complete disappearance. A hundred million. But it still isn’t quite parallel; a lottery winner might quit work, but they’re still accessible. You can still answer questions.

Every year we celebrate “Wakeup Day” on or around May 29th (this year June 1st on Facebook). The primary reason is to thank my friends and family for their support during those long weeks and months (and yes, years) of recovery after my accident. But another reason has been growing in importance in my mind over the last few years: maybe at 37 I still saw myself as “invincible”, while now I’m approaching 50. In those dozen years one of my cats has died, and we’ve adopted three more; we’ve moved from Arkansas to Ontario; some friendships have drawn to a close while others have started: and some have been completely refreshed. Even now I’m shifting my career and establishing new connections. So it’s a good opportunity every year to review the past and prepare for the future: to anticipate not only change, but endings. I find it a good practice: not only professionally, but socially, emotionally and spiritually. I encourage all my readers to do the same.

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