Well now, THAT wasn't so bad, was it?

Last Saturday morning, at 9:35 am, we had a little electrical "blip". It was very short -- resulting in a power outage of, maybe, 20 seconds. People all over town reported that they experienced it as well, and there was no storm in the area, so I assume it was some sort of systemic problem.

When the microwave started flashing 12:00, and I heard my UPS screech out its warning beep, I wasn't too worried -- we had lost power for much longer, and the UPS/surge suppressor had preserved my computer just as it ought.

But then . . . .

When I went to start up my computer (which shouldn't have shut down, according to my UPS manual), I got this weird error message . . . . a message that I didn't recognize and which . . . didn't look good.

I fiddled about a bit with my usual emergency measures, but nothing . . . . nada . . . . zilch. So I called the motherboard manufacturer (as the error had to do with my mobo being able to find my hard-drive, and it wouldn't allow me to get into setup to reconfigure).

Several hours (and calls) later, I had removed and replaced RAM sticks, flashed the BIOS, etc., etc., etc. -- and the tech on the phone finally admitted to me that he was pretty sure the mobo was toast.

BIG bummer. I had built this puppy with my own two hands, exactly one year and 21 days earlier. Which meant that the one year warranty from the reseller had expired 21 days ago, and while I had a 3 year warranty from the manufacturer, their RMA process is 10 - 30 days (after they receive the faulty part).

I wept, both quietly and not-so-quietly, at several junctures during this process.

I had choices, but all of them stunk. Go out and buy a new mobo (if I could find one -- turns out the local computer store doesn't stock them, and this means a 45 minute drive to a computer store that might -- I said might -- have one), then send in the mobo for RMA and wait 10 - 30 days. I could always ebay the replacement mobo once I got my really expensive, really good mobo back, I guess. Being out of computer contact for 30 days was out of the question, as much of my work is done via computer. Not to mention that the withdrawal period for the blog-reading/commenting/writing addiction was unimaginable at that moment.

As an aside, one of the few disadvantages of living in a picturesque little tourist town which has passed ordinances to keep "Big Box" stores out of the area is that . . . . there are no "Big Box" stores in the area.

I did the last-ditch test recommended by the mobo manufacturer and went and bought an entirely new stick of RAM (which the local store did have) and tried the computer. Nothing.

It's Saturday morning.

I can't even begin the RMA process on the mobo until Monday.

All of my most critical information is stuck inside a computer that I can't start, because I'm so smart and all and put the information inside it, on the two reliable and expensive and humungous hard drives about which I thought -- "Oh ho ho, so smart am I! I will have them back each other up!" -- forgetting that none of the other "back-up" computers that I own can read those particular SATA drives.

I wept again.

Then I began limping along on a ten-year old laptop with a teensy-tiny screen to attempt to research whether I could somehow access the hard-drives with an adaptor, or throw them into an external case while I waited for my mobo (or my purchase of a new mobo).

I had forgotten just how slooooow this laptop was, and had forgotten that web-designers have long since stopped worrying about people with slow connections and tiny screens and don't give a flying fuck if you have to scroll a million miles to see an eighth of the screen with all the vital fucking information that you need in an emergency.

At that moment, I was IM'd by a person I know in town who is also a computer repair and tech trainer. I asked if they had such a magical device as the one I was researching, and it turned out they did. I drove to their house and picked it up.

When I returned and plugged the drives in to back them up to an external, one of the drives didn't work, and the techie, IMing me again to check in on how I was doing (just because she's as much of a curious computer geek as I am), mentioned that the error I had gotten might have been a bad drive, not a fried mobo -- and suggested that I put the drive that WAS working back in and see if I got the same error. And I didn't. And I began to breath a bit easier.

Turns out, after all that, it was one zapped drive -- not both -- just one. Phew. Breathe. Weep some more.

Problem was - the backup drive didn't contain the system -- but no prob -- I had a backup of the system. Yes, I would be installing some shit, but my data, for the most part, was still there. After harsh experience, I'm a bit of a back-up nut, but that doesn't mean that I'm always completely smart about it, or that bad things can't happen during a restore. So, I dutifully backed everything up again (slowly, via the limping laptop), and went to bed late Saturday night, ready to awaken on Sunday and make the 90 minute round-trip drive to buy myself a new drive (if they had them, which I would call first thing on Sun. morn to find out).

I have left out something about this day: In the middle of the whole fiasco (post mobo-death pronouncement and pre techie-savior help), I had a full on Fit of Pique.

"Why had this happened!?!?! I had all the protection I was supposed to have! I did all the right things!! Why me!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"

I don't whine very often. However, I can state for the record that I did whine. Loudly. Longly.

I whined while my beloved gently uttered things like: "Well, if you ascribe to the theory that you create your reality, what do you think this might be telling you?"

At which I whinged even more pathetically, and vociferously denied that there could be any meaningful spiritual aspect to a completely bizarre and unwarranted power failure mixed with a failed Uninterruptable Power Supply. In the midst of this, I even managed to spew some completely disconnected bile about a human being that I was already mad at (which, strangely, seemed to help).

At any rate, next day, during the "church hour", I called the heathen-ridden, open-on-Sunday computer store which is 45 minutes away and inquired about hard drives. Which they said they had.

The beloved and I piled into the vehicle for an unaccustomed adventure (as you may know, I filled my gas tank last December or so -- we don't drive much these days). We had a good chat about my melt-down of the previous day, and creating our own realities and such, and I got my drive(s). Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

Where I discovered that the store-clerk had given me the wrong type of drives. So I called them and got a bit bitchy and asked them to check if they had the "right" drives, and if so, would the person on the phone personally go to their stock room and get two of them, and assure me, upon pain of death, that they had the right type of drives in their hot little hands, in which case I would drive over AGAIN and pick them up.

Which I did. This time, solo. Giving me further time to reflect.

The store-owner knocked some dough off the price for my trouble, and I actually got bigger and better drives than I might have. Home again, home again, jiggety jog.

Where I began restoring and installing and restoring and installing and remembering that there are a million little tweaks that you made to the system which you will never remember you made . . . . until they aren't tweaked anymore.

And I backed the whole fucking thing up, matched perfectly, to the second new drive, system included. The whole fucking thing this time, and an external back up, just to be certain sure.

So, here are the miracles and spiritual developments that I got out of a 20-second power blip and a failed hard drive:

1) The computer tech and I used to be close friends. We've had a civil but cautious relationship in the last couple of years after an unresolved conflict, and I would probably not have had contact with her if we had not just recently reconnected over the story of a mutual acquaintance who was undergoing some difficulties. She IM'd me the day before my computer crisis, and had she not, would probably have not IM'd me the day of the crisis itself. If she had not IM'd me, I would not have contacted her to ask her a business/computer question on a weekend. In the course of our communications about the computer, we ended up having a long conversation about the unresolved conflict that we had and the ongoing dynamics of our relationship as friends that I feel certain we would not have had otherwise. We both stated that we were glad that we were talking about it.

2) The bile I spewed about the person who I was "mad at" (but who was completely unconnected with the computer situation) might never have come to my attention -- or, at the very least, would have come up later -- and I got some very good insights about my own personal triggers and patterns by watching myself transfer my frustration about the computer onto this person.

3) I did actually come to my senses and listen to my beloved, and began looking at the "metaphoric" aspects of the computer situation: a) a seemingly random event which bypasses my usual forms of "protection" creates a situation in which I cannot access the information that I have stored, b) turns out that the access problem is NOT the fault of my "central processor", but is, in fact, a difficulty in the actual place I've stored the information -- it's not like it's "forgotten" -- I'm just not getting to it, and c) the situation makes it necessary for me to look elsewhere for solutions -- in places I might not normally have looked, and specifically, to access resources that I've had in the past (the laptop, the erstwhile friend, etc.), but that I haven't been using.

All of which is helping me to resolve this situation about the person I'm "mad at".

Well now, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Posted byPortlyDyke at 1:56 AM  


Bob (Phydeaux) said... March 19, 2008 at 11:31 AM  

Or, as Jen and I are constantly saying these days, everything happens for a reason. :)

I'm glad you're back full strength, PD!

NameChanged said... March 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM  

Good to see you back on the intertubes again. I did some whining the other day, and I have been on blog blackout for a while. I think you just inspired me to explore my breakdown. Thanks!

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