Fire!


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Greetings from the 24 hr Elgin St Diner, which is supposed to have wifi access, but it doesn’t seem to work for me. So instead i’m blogging on my Treo 680.

Why am I here at 10pm on a Monday night, when “Batman Begins” is on free tv? Well, the fire alarm went off in my apartment building. In the dead of winter, usually alarms are triggered by changes in temperature. This time however, I emerged into the hallway to smell the distinctive odour of burning rubber or plastic. So I got the frack out of there.

The 200 or so other shmucks in my building are milling about the fire engines, freezing their pyjama-clad asses off. Me, I headed straight to the diner with my laptop, fully loaded with “Justice League: The New Frontier“, which I am watching while sipping grapefruit juice and eating lemon meringue pie…. and watching my building potentially burn.

Now, I fled the building in a thoughtful, systematic manner. I put on my standard utility pants (actually, military issue chemical warfare pants, useful in every climate), a sweater, grabbed my keys, wallet and my very expensive leather jacket. I made sure to grab my cell phone/pda, which ensures that all my vital personal data will be saved. And I grabbed one of my laptops so I could entertain myself.

Sadly, I grabbed my cheap ass $300 used Thinkpad, and not the $1200 brand new (uninsured) Toshiba I bought only this past weekend! Arrrgh!

But the most frustrating bit is that I failed to rescue any of my data backups. See, I keep all my data in an external hard drive (which makes me immune to data loss from computer crashes). I back up this data weekly to yet another external hard drive. But both drives are sitting on my desk in a building that might be on fire! See the problem here?

I usually carry a password protected copy (via usb key) of all my teaching and consulting related data (eg, student marks, ongoing client projects, etc) for just such an occasion, to ensure that data that affect other people’s lives are always protected. But guess what? This is one time I neglected to put the usb key in my pocket!

I also have an online backup (called an x-drive) that is a pain to update, so it’s about 5 months out of date. And I have a dvd backup in Toronto, which is about 3 months out of date.

Clearly, I need a better emergency exit strategy. I think from now on I will add “grab the freakin’ external drive!” to my emergency exit to-do list.

Oh, and “The New Frontier” rocks seven ways till Tuesday. I’m going to watch it again!

UPDATE: All right, the building didn’t burn down. Now I have another opportunity to prepare a better emergency exit plan!