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The Great Computer Crash of 2007

October 7, 2007

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Columbia, SC
Blue Ridge Parkway
Computer Crash!

2005 - 2006
Happy New Year
Hawk's Message
I'm Published!
Sharing Spring
Ways of Writing
Edmonds, WA
Degenerate Neck
Desert Depression
Post Quartzsite
Grandma Malia

2003 - 2004
Alaska Planning
Alaska 1
Alaska 2
Alaska 3
Alaska 4
Alaska 5
Alaska 6
Alaska 7
BC & Alberta
To Lower 48
2004 Recap
Giving Thanks

2001 - 2002
Inspiration's Off!
To Charleston
N. Carolina
To Orlando
Florida Tour
Back in Austin
Albuq. to WA


(or, how I lost my data and
my mind at the same time)

(or The Kindness of Strangers)

I was on my way to River Camp USA in Piney Creek, NC on a beautiful Sunday afternoon as I was just coming off my big Blue Ridge Parkway tour. It was a beautiful day and gorgeous drive with rolling hills and changing leaves on the trees.

Using my 2007 Microsoft Streets & Trips with GPS, at a point where a turn was coming up, the program froze and nothing could thaw it. I pulled over before I got hopelessly lost and had to manually turn off the computer. It came back up and I was able to get to the campground safely. However, the next day when I used the program again, same thing happened. When I turned it off that time, the computer refused to get turned on again. I guessed my charm and luck had run out.

To make a long, sad story short as possible, Jay (one of the owners) recommended a computer repair service in relatively nearby West Jefferson. That was when I first met the work campers, Ruthanne and Roger. They insisted on leading me there and trying to make me think positive, they said we could drop off the computer and get some shopping done at WalMart and go visit the cheese factory while we waited.

Unfortunately, the tech had no success in getting the hard drive to respond, so my only option then was to take it to the nearest Cirrcuit City because I had an extended warranty with them. Of course this had to happen when I wasn't exactly in a large metro area. "Nearest" turned out to be in Hickory, NC, over an hour and a half away. Even though it was obviously not going to be a fun trip and I was certainly in no mood to be reasonably good company, Ruthanne insisted that she go with me and sent Roger home. The whole time, she was great company and kept reminding me of all the positive things I would have tried to tell someone else in my position. She advised me to just take it one step at a time - even threw some of my own often-used quotes back at me: "the longest journey begins with a single step" - "this too shall pass," etc. But it was me in my position and I just couldn't listen to her or myself no matter how much I knew that a negative outlook could do absolutely no good. On the other hand, I really was thankful to have this "stranger" just be with me and be as helpful as she could be.

Even so, I was totally bummed because I knew I had not backed up for about 2 weeks, which meant I had lost all the pictures I had taken of the fall colors on the parkway on the way here. But I was congratulating myself that at least I had backed up everything, including my Outlook email, before I left Shenandoah.

Thankfully, the computer tech at Circuit City, Rick, was an angel who took pity on me and tried to restore the hard drive to working order right then, unfortunately with no success. Normally, I would have had to send it off to the warranty service to replace the hard drive, a process that would take much more time than I had. Go without a computer for 2 weeks??? Unthinkable! I didn't even know where I'd be in two weeks to tell them where to ship it back to. Besides, not only is my computer addiction an enjoyable pastime to keep up with my websites, keep in touch with my friends and family by email, and depository of my pictures, I am the virtual assistant to three lawyers who had been keeping me extremely busy. That income is my gas money and I didn't want to lose that or their confidence.

So l considered it a personal blessing from God that Rick just happened to have an extra hard drive from the warranty service company that he could install and would send in the old, useless one to them at no charge to me. But I was still scared enough by this crash that I was going to buy a new computer. However, Windows Vista is installed on all new computers and so much of my older, but expensive, software wouldn't work on it. So I bought one of their "open box" used computers with Windows XP.

Now, besides the lost time, money and anxiety at the thought of having to reinstall all my programs, at that point I discovered that the last backup I did had apparently failed and the loss was much greater than anticipated. I had really lost over a month's worth of data and documents, but worse than that, the backups I thought I had of all my Outlook data (email, address book contacts, calendar, etc.) had never been backed up correctly. Apparently I didn't have the settings correct, because only one personal folder - of course, the least important one - was there. The biggest blow was losing all the email to and from my attorney bosses. I almost fainted at the thought of what that meant. Especially with one attorney who had been sending me hundreds of emails with info to include on the website, blog and newsletter I was setting up for her. Not only did I dread having to tell her she'd have to resend all that, but I'll lose all the time to redo and organize it all, something for which, of course, I would not bill her. I'm especially grateful now to have these three great virtual bosses, because they were all just wonderful about it all - one even offered to front me some money for the new computer!

But in the throes of a full-blown panic attack, I cried like a baby and felt sick to my stomach - all night long I'd keep thinking of something else I'd lost that I hadn't thought of before. Kicking myself in the butt because I could have avoided it by taking the time to make sure everything was really backed up properly. Just one of many lessons learned from this cyberglitch: Listen to your instincts! It's so weird that I had just thought of backing everything up just a couple of days before. But I was boondocking and it was quiet time at the campground and I couldn't turn on the generator to access the external hard drive. The next morning, it slipped my mind and I hit the road - and hit the skids toward disaster.

The day after the crash, Ruthanne came by to find me a complete basket case trying just to get the first step done - update Windows with SP2 and all the latest updates. It wasn't cooperating and I was cursing Bill Gates for all the billions he is worth. Ruthanne listened to me rant and rave for a while, gave me a much needed big hug and insisted that I take a break and go kayaking with her. That had been something I was very much looking forward to during my stay at River Camp since it's located right on the New River (paradoxically named since it's one of the oldest rivers on the continent). The river was really low due to the drought, but it was a beautiful sunny fall day and the weather was about to change for the worse later in the week. Thankfully, my brain wasn't fried enough not to pay attention to her advice, and I went and had a blast!

Here I am on my very first ever kayak ride!

Here's the website page I did with details of that wonderful day.

The next night Ruthanne & Roger continued to care for me and invited me over for a fantastic dinner - after they taught me how to play rummy, they fed me pork loin, baked potatoes, squash, tasty tomato salad, topped off with an ala mode homemade apple crisp made with fresh local apples. Although I had gotten into such a state of despair that I had actually started thinking I was crazy for trying to travel and make a living and that I should just go settle down back in Austin, their kindness and wisdom reminded me that I could have these kind of problems anywhere. When I told her later that there just were no words adequate enough to thank her, she said, "We just happened to be in the right place at your wrong time to help out. Thanks for letting us be part of the solution." So with blessings like meeting people such as them and Joanne & Jay (the campground owners), I should just continue to keep pressing onward and count my blessings instead of these occasional curses.

I wish I could meet such life challenges with at least a semblance of calm resignation, but noooo - not me - I spent 4 days in absolute panic mode! And then felt like a fool for being such a whiney baby. So, while I don't have some of the pictures I'd taken, I still have the priceless memories - and barring Alzheimer's, they'll be with me until death do us part.

The fall colors are just starting their peep show here and I'm looking forward to them following me as I continue to head south next week. First, I'm going to head over to Mayberry Campground to check out Mt. Airy, NC - I'm an Andy Griffith fan from way back and I wanna go ride in Barney's squad car!

Copyright by Malia Lane - all rights reserved