Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why I Didn't Write Last Night

I was all set to write for a good two and a half hours last night. Drew was down without a sound. The latest round of bills and house paperwork had been completed the previous evening. A few simple cleaning things had also been completed the previous evening. I was in my comfy clothes and slippers and had a big jug of water ready for sipping. All I needed was to cue up my music, bring up the appropriate file, and I would be good to go. I went to open my laptop--and got nothing but a black screen. After a lot of pressing the power button and removing the battery to try a hard reboot, I realized that this wasn't a quick fix.

I spent a few moments appreciating the irony that I would have backed up my files the previous night had it not been for Drew waking up very pissed and refusing to be consoled and deciding that he wanted to be awake for the next hour and a half. By the time he went to sleep again, I had completely forgotten that I had been about to backup all of my files.

After I had paid sufficient respect to the irony of the moment, I started to catalog all that was lost if I couldn't recover anything. I had backed up my files about three weeks ago, and because of the holiday and the recent switch over from one completed project to another I hadn't worked on in some time, I only had a maximum of 5K words that would vanish into the ether. On the plus side, 2K of those words were new Velorin words, and I couldn't stand them anyway. On the downside, 3K of those words were the completion of Ghost Story, and I was fairly happy with those words. Further on the downside, I hadn't backed up some notes on how to improve said crappy Velorin words (and notes on how to improve the previous two chapters, as well). Actually, the largest chunk of missing files would be any music I had bought and ripped to my digital library since February (when I had last backed those up; they are annoying to backup when you're just using data CDs). The other big loss would be all the pictures on our camera since two weeks before the move, which includes Drew's 1st Birthday celebration and house-in-progress pics. I was most upset about the prospect of losing those pictures than anything else.

Still, I was nowhere close to panicking or even really getting upset because it could have been far, far worse if I hadn't been in the habit of backing up every three to four weeks. And Drew's grandparents had taken some photos of the birthday cake demolition. And I can always re-rip the music I had purchased since February. Not too bad an outcome for potentially losing my writing computer.

But nothing was lost yet. And the Geek Squad seemed fairly confident from my description of the problem that they should be able to transfer my hard drive to a new casing, and I'd be able to access everything that way even if the computer was absolute toast. So I packed up the deadweight and trucked it up to the nearest Best Buy (a distance that feels even further when you have to make the drive at night through some pretty severe desert winds). But it was fun to crank the stereo and have driving time completely to myself for a change.

It took a bit of time during which my computer and my brand-spaking new hard drive casing had disappeared into the Geek Squad's backroom, but when my helpful Geek returned, I had a fully recovered hard drive. That was the good news, and it was very good news. Nothing had been lost. The bad news was that my Geek was almost positive that the power circuitry on my motherboard was fried. To fix it would cost me about as much as a new laptop. But, ever the optimist, I spent $70 for him to do a full diagnostic to determine the problem, just in case it was a quick, cheap fix. Still waiting to hear the verdict there. In the meantime, I've got my hard drive hooked up to the DDJ computer just to reassure myself that everything is there. It is.

Since I was in the area, and there's only a soon-to-be closed Book Warehouse in my town, I decided to jet across the interstate to the Borders and treat myself to something using my Holiday Bonus Cash (or whatever they're calling it). I shied away from the books because my To Be Read pile only needs a couple more added to it before it can become self-aware and start terrorizing the neighborhood with cover blurbs and author quotes. Instead I focused on the CDs and DVDs. I found a Christmas present for Mark fairly quickly. Then I saw Loreena McKennitt's new album and my auto-grab reflex would have caused serious damage had anyone been standing directly in front of me.

Listening to that CD on the way home was exactly what I needed. At times soothing, at times intriguing, at times inspirational (for writing ideas), the music was at all times compelling and completely enthralled me.

I wasn't so enthralled that I didn't notice the strange tow-truck-like flashing yellow lights at about where the exit for the upcoming rest stop is. At first I thought the rest stop was closed for police activity (it's been a major crime scene before, due to clashing illegal immigrant smuggling rings), but as I got closer, I noticed that those flashing lights didn't look normal. For starters, they weren't just where the top of the truck would be but seemed to be outlining something even to the point of being almost on the ground. I saw police cars zooming down the interstate in the opposite direction, lights flashing, and my first conclusion took greater weight. Then I got close enough to see exactly what was going on.

It was a car-be-cue. SUV flambe.

Some poor soul was towing their SUV on a two-wheel dolly behind a Uhaul. Something must have been dragging and sparking until finally a fire started. The entire front half of the SUV was completely engulfed. Made me all warm and toasty as I drove by it. Now, had I been able to figure out that it was a burning car not a unique-lighted tow truck, I probably would've stopped a nice distance from the thing rather than pull into the left lane and drive past it. As it was, I was the last car to be able to pass the scene before the cop I had seen before finished doing his u-turn and stopped traffic. I was five miles down the road when I saw the headlights of cars that had been behind me start moving forward again.

I didn't see a flameball light the night sky behind me, so I'm guessing it didn't get any worse. The Uhaul seemed completely fire-free when I passed it, and I really hope it stayed that way. Having just moved a few weeks ago, I have some sense of what it might be like to watch all of your belongings flirt with disaster like that.

And that's why I didn't write last night. What, you were expecting something more along the lines of "the dog ate my homework?"

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