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Starting Over

  1. May 6, 2016 #1


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    Because I live in Alberta, I've been following quite closely the tragedy from the fire in Fort McMurray. Well over 80,000 people have been evacuated from the city and the Premier of the province has stated that it's likely going to be a long time (not just days) for people to return, and many of those won't have much to return to when they do come back. Not only are homes burned down, but so are local business, and that means that people may not have jobs to go back to.

    In some ways this is not unlike the plight facing Syrian refugees - coming into a new country with very little but the clothes on your back.

    So I thought I might pose a question for discussion:
    If you lost everything today. How would you start your life over?
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  3. May 6, 2016 #2


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    In my opinion, it is extremely frustrating and difficult, even to think about that. Of course, life still goes on and it takes a real lot of courage and good self - control to start over from almost zero. Unfortunately everyone getting in this situation, has to walk the way that circumstances dictate, so I think that with a lot of patience too, a normal way of life can be achieved after a long time.
    Last edited: May 6, 2016
  4. May 6, 2016 #3
    We come into this world with nothing, we leave this world with nothing, and sometimes we end up with nothing in between. You'd think we'd be used to it. Remember, it is all just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. In the words of the immorttal Janis Joplin, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."
  5. May 6, 2016 #4
    It wouldn't bother me much at all, but I don't believe much in roots, either, I'm what you might call an extreme minimalist, not to be confused with a "survivalist."

    I have a few toys but I think people that get too attached to objects or icons or relics or "community" are really displacing their happiness in inanimate external objects or social institutions. The less I have, the better I feel. To a point, I like to have a lot of money on paper in the bank, but not a lot of flashy physical objects than I have to worry about somebody stealing or breaking.

    I like these sentiments of Einstein which kind of sums up my feelings here:


    “Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury - to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”


    "He developed indifference from material things calling each possession a stone tied around his neck."

    I think that's the gift that science nerds like us have. We can entertain ourselves all day long just inside our heads, while the rest of the dopes need shiny material objects to keep them entertained.
  6. May 6, 2016 #5


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    True that! Though I wouldn't call myself a nerd, I can keep myself well entertained inside my head (I often do that..). But I'm not sure if I can handle any disaster like this with a minimalistic attitude. It must have been really frustrating for the fire victims. May God give them the strength to rise and shine again!
  7. May 6, 2016 #6


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    You bring up the comparison to Syrian refugees, using that as a stepping point: what makes you think you'll have much choice in how you start over? Seems like a ridiculously privileged thing to think to me, that if you lost everything you'd be able to calmly choose where to go, how to live, what to do etc.

    Playing the game if I lost my income and my family and friends all died or were unable to help I would end up on the streets like thousands of others. I'd apply to the council to try and get housing benefit which would likely place me in some sort of hostel until a place could be found (which could take a long time). Until then my only thought would be how to get money, food and a job.
  8. May 6, 2016 #7
    I'd move somewhere warmer :D
  9. May 6, 2016 #8
    Assuming I had friends/family to stay with, my only option would be to find work as a shop hand or warehouse worker and start all over.

    The few people I know who lost everything in the 2014 floods said they were able to pick themselves up because of family support and generous donations, but most important was the fact that they had a job that would be waiting for them as soon as things settled. Many of those from Fort Mac may not have that luxury; the economy is bad enough and job market for skilled tradesmen is poor at the moment.
  10. May 6, 2016 #9


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    Very true that there will always be constraints. I think the point of asking the question was more to generate some thought about (i) what is really important, and (ii) how robust are you to changes in circumstances?
  11. May 6, 2016 #10
    I go into the construction business and make money rebuilding peoples stuff
  12. May 6, 2016 #11
    Or you could look at it as an opportunity to take risks, you have nothing to lose, right?
  13. May 6, 2016 #12

    jim mcnamara

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    That is most of the problem - temperatures there have been 30 degrees above April average maximums. Well below average -precip.
    The Cerro Grande fire in NM, which took out part of Los Alamos, was born under similar circumstances: Really warm, strong spring winds, no rainfall.

    The boreal forest in both locations was/is like a giant christmas tree sitting next to the blazing fireplace, two weeks after the holidays. A fire waiting to happen.


    Fort McMurray in better times. Note the proximity of tall evergreen trees to houses with shrubs and trees nestled closely to houses. This is exactly what took out the Los Alamos homes. It helps to exacerbate wind-driven fire danger. Except in Alberta, this would not be expected. It was a reasonable expectation Los Alamos, based on recent fire history of the region.

    What did the Los Alamos folks do? Try to get insurance companies to cover costs based on existing policy coverage. It helped, but did not solve rebuilding for a lot of families. Many of the burned out homes were bull-dozed, and not rebuilt. I have not been there for ~10 years, so it may no longer be the case.
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