Category Archives: Passages

Log Off in Peace – Cyber Wills and the Virtual Beyond

Reid Dickie

What becomes of your cyber presence after you die? You know, what I mean – all your passwords, login details, codes, usernames, blogs, subscriptions, social media, internet accounts, basically your online life – what happens to that after you die? If you live virtually, you can now die virtually. All you need is a digital executor.

Along with other services related to dying in the 21st century, legacy companies have started offering cyber wills. Here’s how it works: think of someone to be your digital executor, someone who knows computers and can, once given proper access info, go through your personal online presence and tidy up details from sordid to embarrassing to barely legal. They have to be someone who can follow your specific instructions on the clean up your computer needs.

But how does your online executor access your personal information to do the clean up? They present your death certificate and their ID as your named executor to the company you’ve hired to hold in secret all your access codes, usernames, specific directions, etc. As per your cyber will instructions your online existence is then purged of the day-to-day dust like your email accounts as well as the nasty stuff (maybe that secret email folder), leaving you haloed and hallowed, a model cyber citizen!

Instead of the trusty filing cabinet or safety deposit box, some people have started storing important documents likes wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, passports and insurance policies online for safe keeping. That’s the kind of info your online executor needs to access in order to fulfill your wishes. Some governments are starting to guarantee the rights of executors to deal with digital legacies.

What about the social media aspect of your digital legacy? Facebook does not release a person’s password to next of kin and only closes the page after being shown the death certificate, which can take several months. Additionally, when a Facebook user dies and the company is informed, their page can be “memorialized” which hides features such as status updates and allows only confirmed friends to view and post comments on your profile. This system has not been standardized so problems have arisen with Facebook.

Twitter has a set procedure, again based on executor contact, to deactivate your account upon death. If you’d prefer to “stay alive” on Twitter you can state how you’d like your profile to be handled, the nature of future updates and who can tweet. By the way, if you have a massive collection of digital music and eBooks these cannot be bequeathed under their licensing terms. Technically you don’t actually own them.

Creative people often have their intellectual property stored online. As a writer and videographer I am currently pondering where my intellectual property rights will go and who can access and use them. This includes completed as well as works-in-progress.

How would you like to be remembered? I don’t mean your obituary. I mean, what would you like people who scan your personal QR code which has been imbedded in your tombstone to see? For a few hundred dollars, you can have your QR code visible on your stone so people with smart phones and the app can scan it and learn more about you. Do you want the website they’d arrive at show a few pictures and your obit? Or maybe you want a full life documentary from tongs to tomb? Or you could record yourself sharing your life’s wisdom with the left-behind? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

If you find the QR code idea to have too much of a creep-out factor (or not enough), how about this? Some legacy companies will store emails you have written that are sent out at intervals to various people after you die. These could be birthday or anniversary wishes, past-event reminders or any other significant occasions.

Elsewhere on this blog I have written about obituary euphemisms and easy ways to make out your will. As ever, I offer this information as a public service and encourage you to educate yourself fully in matters of your own death both on and offline.


Filed under Blog Life, Death and Dying, Life and Life Only, Passages

Happy Deathday Cole Porter

“My art belongs to Dada,” songwriter Cole Porter once said. His art leaves a legacy of whimsical, brilliant, sometimes cheeky songs whose interpreters have spanned decades and will continue to do so into the future. Cole never collaborated. He always wrote his own lyrics and music. When asked, “Who wrote ‘Some Enchanted Evening’?” he replied “Rodgers and Hammerstein, if you can imagine it taking two men to write one song.” Asked where he looked for inspiration, Porter quipped, “My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a director.” Cole Porter died this day in 1964 at age 73 leaving the world hundreds of marvelous songs. I picked three, all sung by Frank Sinatra who was a major interpreter of Porter’s material. First, hear a young Sinatra swing Night and Day. One of Cole Porter’s best rhymes, and there are hundreds of great ones, can be found in I Get A Kick Out of You: he rhymes spree with ennui. Hear Sinatra sing it. The pinnacle: Cole Porter’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin live by Sinatra with Count Basie’s Orchestra backing him up. The break is wild (Frank just sits down and lets the band go nuts), Frank’s inflection and phrasing is genius and the whole event SWINGS!! Watch this one!

UPDATE: all the links are now dead. Sorry.

What’s with deathday?

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Filed under 1960s, Deathday, Life and Life Only, Music, Passages

The Chemistry of Decomposition explained by Chemical Girl

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Filed under 1950s, Ancient Wisdom, Passages


Reid Dickie

Often, when Mom, Dad and me would go for drives to visit relatives, usually never more than an hour and half away, Mom would regale Dad and I with a spontaneous story. Her imagination was so quick and bright that she could spin a verbal yarn that lasted exactly the length of time it took to drive to Brandon or Dauphin or Hartney with the denouement happening just as we drove into the driveway. She even did various voices and accents if The Muse was being especially kind to her that day. Amazing!

         One of her recurring  stories followed the adventures of the Jones Girls, four sisters who lived on a horse ranch in Kentucky. Partially based on one of her lifelong friends, May Lee Scott, episodes of the Jones Girls never failed to compel, excite and stimulate us as we rode across the wide Canadian prairies in our little Chevy.

          I owe the vast majority of my creativity to Mom and her unabashed connection to The Muse which, along with car ride stories, spawned quirky short stories, poetry and even radio station contest jingles which she frequently won. I can think of a vacuum cleaner and a set of dishes we used for years that Mom won in a contest on CKDM Dauphin or CKX Brandon.

      This is a short poem about bachelors Mom wrote and sent in to a CKDM contest that won the set of dishes:

Why bachelors some men stay, that is the question of the day?

I humbly submit this little jingle, to tell you why I think men stay single.

They value most their independence, they shun the confines of a woman’s tendance

Some claim an unrequited love! Others a lack of God’s gifts from above!

But I still say they just want to be free. PS Thank goodness one changed his mind and married me!

         She was a teacher mom who’d graduated Normal School in 1932, taught during the Dirty Thirties and on into wartime while Dad was overseas during WWII. Though beset with frequent migraine headaches, Mom was well read, funny and worked part-time as a teacher’s sub, salesperson and postal clerk. She organized a book club in the little town which allowed me access to adult authors like Robert Ruark, Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey and Leon Uris. I remember struggling to understand their syntax and their meaning.

       Mom’s gift to me is the gift of the gab, as the adage says. In print, in person, on tape, on the air the gift translates through media and every time refers back to Mom’s original present to me. I am so grateful to her for this wonderful legacy. I only wish she could have had a computer to easily spell out her stories as I spell out mine. I can only imagine what tales might have arisen from her if she’d had a Dell instead of a sewing machine.

Mom died eighteen years ago today. She died exactly as she wanted to – in the little hospital in the town where she’d lived for 36 of her 80 years with her family around her, natural causes her final diagnosis. I thank her daily for the creative wonders she passed along to me. Today Mom, I offer you  special thanks for everything you gave me and everything you taught me. I am filled with gratitude. I love you. Reid

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Filed under Family, Love, Passages

David Marks 1946 – 2011

          Death was kind and gentle with dear friend David Marks last week, taking him while he slept in the family home where he grew up. David earned an easy one.

            Linda and I first met David in the late 1970s at access radio CJUM-FM in Winnipeg. He did an all-night show on Sundays that was an excellent mix of new wave, old wave and his own eclectic tastes, plus he was a huge Springsteen fan too. We became good friends, faithful friends, sharing many happy occasions. Though we saw less of David over the years, when we did get together for long funny dinners over beers and omelettes at the Garwood Grill, we all left elated and filled with good fellowship. That describes David well – he was a good fellow. Loyal and honest, never missed sending a card for our birthdays, a cat lover and appreciator of high-quality TV drama (Deadwood was his favourite show of all time, he told me recently), that was only part of David.

            As much as he liked his friends and cats and dramas, David’s one life-long passion was baseball. From childhood on, he was an avid, no, fervent, no, rabid baseball fan. He talked lovingly about collecting baseball cards as a kid and going to games with his dad. David was an accountant with a great head for numbers. Over dinner I remember him saying how he thought memorizing all those baseball statistics when he was a kid, from 7 years old on, was great training for his present work. In recent decades, he planned his weeks of vacation to catch the maximum number of Major League games in as many different cities as possible.

            David’s best baseball story would be taking a stab at becoming Commissioner of Baseball when Bowie Kuhn stepped down in 1984. He started a petition here in Winnipeg and on the West Coast among his friends and associates, made his intentions to become Commissioner known and the media showed up. Scott Oake of CBC-TV Sports interviewed David who was nervous, charming and reminded me of Dennis the Menace.  The Winnipeg Free Press ran a short article with a big picture under the heading: The Man Who Would Be Kuhn, as seen below. But David never got to be the Commish. His dream deflated. He’d just have to settle for being one of the most intense, ravenous baseball fans ever.

            So long David. Catch you on the rebound.

This is the Winnipeg Free Press article that appeared under the headline

 The Man Who Would Be Kuhn

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