Friday, April 24, 2009

Abandoned Luggage

I've had a few impressionable ages in my life. Inflection points, if you will, where a small amount of pressure can drastically change the dynamics of the system.

One of those points, I happened to be reading Friday, by Robert A. Heinlein. There's a scene where the title character, Friday, is standing on the deck of a boat. The boats further up the river come under attack, and she jumps without hesitation. A slower-reacting friend is killed. Swimming away, Friday delivers one of Heinlein's favorite sayings:

'Sometimes, you have to be prepared to abandon your luggage.'

Originally, this post was going to be about how that scene, in that book, changed my life. I was going to wonder out loud whether reading that story, at that moment, had much to do with the restless, rootless, gypsy existence that has characterized so much of my adult life. I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure I was going to end on something about 'the power of fiction', or maybe a musing on whether I'm finally settled now or simply resting for the moment.

And then the boat upriver exploded.

Okay, not really so bad: but my laptop *did* suddenly give me a 'blue screen error' and, just....


My tech guy (Of course I've got a tech guy; *someone* has to maintain the frickin' laser beams on the frickin' sharks' foreheads.) says the hard drive should be replaceable under warranty, but the data on it is almost certainly a-goners.

That means: every new email address in the last year, every email I've received in the past year, all digital illustration work and tattoo designs in progress, every (EVERY) photo I've taken in the last year, the master copy of my (long-neglected) website and the first 15,000 words of a little project I was doodling around with.
Oh yeah, and my book.

Instead, I have the beat-up old laptop the new one replaced. Its USB ports don't work (read: no printing, no flash drives, no nothing), it only seems to work on dial-up, and even thn it has the charming habit of randomly SHUTTING ITSELF THE FUCK OFF in the middle of any important operation.


Three upsides:

1) I do have mulptiple backups of the new novel, though they are two drafts behind. Lucky me, I recently printed out a single clear copy of the latest draft for Her Tiny Majesty, the Great and Terrible Dynamo.

This draft, I get to re-type.

2) HTM, tGaTD likes me better now that I'm no longer 'on that bloody machine all the time'.

and 3)

"The phone appears not be working."

The Dynamo tapped a single foot: tiny, chilling.

"Any thoughts?"

"Ummm, I'm afraid I might've left the computer cable plugged in to the socket."

"Let me get this straight..." The rhythm speeded. "You took the car to work, left me with no transport and no telephone..."

I thought about her cellphone. I thought about her bike. I thought it might be better to live.

"Y'know," I said, "if our house was just fourteen bedrooms on a desolate moor and you were in a lacy nightgown--"
No need to say more. She was already laughing.

Now, if you'll all excuse me, I have some typing to do.


Charles Gramlich said...

14 bedrooms on a moor, lacy nightgown? Sounds like a tale well told.

Sorry to hear of all the hassles. That fried laptop seems to be going around lately.

Lana Gramlich said...

OMG...My sympathies! I'm so glad to hear you have SOME backups, anyway! Hang in there, hon!

Lana Gramlich said...

BTW, I really enjoyed "Friday" & have often considered a re-read.

cs harris said...

Well, the computer failure sucks beyond measure. And no matter how many times I read about these things, or suffer them myself, I still don't back up properly.

But as I mentioned before (last post?!) I DO print out every single scene of my WIP, as I type it. Thank goodness for the reading copy for the Tiny Dynamo. My heart bleeds for everything else.

Shauna Roberts said...

What a nightmare! I hope the new hard drive arrives soon and you can put your programs and things on it quickly.

Angie said...

Ack! I'm glad you had that one printed copy, but losing everything else sucks massively. :(

I back up my writing and my e-books onto a flash drive, but probably not often enough. :P I know better too; back in the eighties I backed up onto 5.25" floppies every Friday, at work and at home. That's pretty much what I did on Friday. Now I can do everything it'd kill me to lose in less than half an hour and I do it mainly when I'm getting ready to travel, so I can swap stuff between the desktop and laptop. Bad Angie. [wry smile]

Good luck with the replacement HD, though. At least you'll be off dial-up. {{}}


Steve Malley said...

Charles, funny you should say that-- The Tiny Dynamo dropped her teeny weeny EEE and cracked the LCD screen!

Lana, it's been a few years since my last reading of 'Friday'. I wonder how I'd like it now...

CS, it's only luggage! :)

Shauna, I do miss my good machine.

Angie, I finally got the wireless sorted on the old gizmo, so it's not all that bad. Now I just have to deal with the lack of USB ports and an unfortunate tendency to randomly restart! :-D

Steve Malley said...


The data guy says the HD is a total loss after all. Sux.

But hey, like I said, it's only luggage...

Barbara Martin said...

My own laptop has been heating up too much lately, so I've backed up everything on a flash: twice. It seems nothing is made to last anymore.

AvDB said...

Oh lord. Everyone's worst nightmare. Good thing you were smart enough to have backups. I feel for your aching fingers, though. It'll be like typing class all over again. Do you have one of those stand up clipboard thingys?

SQT said...

Holy crap. You're way calmer about the whole than I would be.

Glamourpuss said...

Ouch. That must have hurt. I do wonder at our reliance on technology. Maybe rather than abandoning our luggage, we should be prepared to abandon our hard drives these days.


Miss Pidgin said...

That suck...and yes you find me and what a relief that is and that I say from my heart. ;)


James Robert Smith said...

"Pooooooortable hard drive. Pooooortable Hard Drive," wailed the ghost.

Drizel said...

ahhhh sorry about the laptop.....not nice....:( HUGZ