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What the Hell else could go wrong?...

Things were brightening up. After writing the last entry in a kind of existential funk (existential funk is best performed in a small, dark club), things were seriously getting better. On Friday, I came to work renewed and happy, and going into the weekend, it seemed like things would only improve.

On Friday night I went to a party thrown by some friends who do a very funny public access show called The Reel Deal. It was a lot of fun, but outdoors so I spent about three hours holding onto my little cup of Lone Star beer (the National Beer of Urinating Publicly in Texas) and stamping my feet from the cold. I hadn't been to an honest-to-goodness party in a while and I could tell the gracious hosts were a little overwhelmed by the number of viewers that showed up whom they'd never met. That's the sign of a good party.

Saturday, my sister Jessica arrived for a visit (she's not really my sister -- I call her my sister, but she's actually my best friend who I met in Germany and who now lives in San Antonio).

I was already annoyed because this site was down for most of Saturday. My ISP in Tulsa (Internet capital of the world) e-mailed me the next day and said it was down for routine maintenance, which might happen once a month. Once a month!?! That about drove me nuts and I sent frantic e-mails and tried calling, but because Galstar is basically a glorified one-person shop, I didn't even get an answering machine. I mean, I don't get a lot of hits, but I at least want the damn site to be working when people are nice enough to come here.

Just before she got to Austin, I was putzing around on my computer doing some Web surfing as I fought that frustration and all of a sudden Windows gave me a weird error. It said it couldn't write to the C: drive.

Oh great, I thought. I managed to fill up a 9 Gigabyte hard drive. But I hadn't really installed anything new, so... ? Windows started crashing on me, so I just jiggled the Reset button on my computer and rebooted.

That's where the fun started.

When it booted back up, it couldn't find my SCSI hard drive. It could find everything else, but not that. I opened up the computer and made sure everything was connected. I booted from an old floppy. I moved stuff around. I prayed. I considered calling the Alamo Christian Ministries. Nothing worked. I finally resigned myself to the idea that my hard drive may have died. My beloved C: drive that I've been using for about three years. That has all my writing. That has all my MP3 files. That had my Diablo II saved game where I was a hair's breath from finishing the game. That has every piece of e-mail from my inbox and all of my e-mail folders, bookmarks and addresses since 1997. That has all the short stories, Mighty Big TV recaps and other assorted writing I'd been working on.

Jessica arrived, and I'm sure I must have had that little manic, panicked look that I get when things like this happen. I decided nothing could be done until the next day, so she, Rebecca and I went to see The Grinch. It was pretty good. In fact, it gave me the idea of just fleeing from all this technology and finding a nice cave at the top of a mountain to live alone with a dog and my green fur.

The next morning, I called around and found a place that would look at my poor hard drive. They came up with a few conclusions:

  • The hard drive was fried.
  • The data was still there.
  • My Athlon processor had no cooling fan on it, which might have caused the hard drive to heat up and die.
  • They were very cool and geeky and not at all intimidating, but still with a weird techie vibe, like Brent Spiner in Independence Day.
  • People think it's kinda funny when you lose data like that.


So, next thing I did was go buy a new hard drive, so I could at least get my computer back up and running. I installed it with no real problems, and then started up on the monumental task of reinstalling Windows and then installing drivers and software for everything: the printer, the scanner, the video card, the sound card, the digital camera card reader, lots and lots of random applications (Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Netscape). Luckily, I keep most of these install disks handy, but some stuff like Microsoft Word I've lent out and didn't have around.

Here's the good news: I had a second hard drive in my computer that didn't crash, so all of my writing before about a year ago is safe and backed up. All of my Microsoft Money checkbook files with my accounts are still there. Some obscure applications and saved game files are still around. And it's kind of a fun, Armaggeddon-like thrill of starting completely from scratch, without all the assorted crap that Windows hangs onto like tenacious hemorrhoids.

The other really great news was that I get all the same e-mail at work, so I haven't really lost all those addresses. I also e-mail myself a lot of short stories to edit at work, so a lot of that is on my work hard drive, as well as old recap files, LCP skits and other assorted stuff. Plus a lot of what I've been working on in the last year (including this site) is all online, so I didn't lose any of that information.

The guy at the computer store told me that if you really want to recover your data, you typically have to send your hard drive to California where they take it into a clean room and manually transfer all the data to another source. I managed to find a company here in town that charges $100 to examine your drive and give you an estimate. Once they do that, it can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,200 to get that data. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how much that data is worth to me and how much I'm willing to spend to get it back. If it's too much, I may just forget about it and forge ahead, like those musicians who tear up all their old demo tapes in hopes of finding a new artistic direction.

Maybe it was a signal. Maybe I need to stop relying on old data and forge ahead with new writing, a new desktop and a new outlook.

By the way, Netscape 6.0 sucks. I can't get it to act the way my old verson of Netscape did and it's driving me crazy. My e-mail doesn't appear where it should. Bookmarks are a pain. And even with the "Classic" skin that's supposed to make it look like the old Netscape, it still feels different. I've always resisted using Internet Explorer, but now I may have no choice.

I'm about ready to say to hell with all this technology. You never have to worry about losing all that stuff when you use a notepad and an abacus all day long.

I wrote a poem for my hard drive. To commemorate the poor thing:


A hard drive it was, a large one so crammed,
It decided to die, just when Omar was slammed.

Nine gigs it did hold, this sizable drive,
Now that data is gone. Omar screamed, "Man, ALIVE!"

Short stories and recaps, this drive held a lot
Now it's data recovery that Omar has sought.

Expensive it is, finding data is hard,
Omar was so stressed, by Sunday he was Ti'red

A new hard drive arrived, he installed it with care
In hopes that it lived, lived a life long and fair.

Those nasty partitions, those sectors all lost,
The price of that data, how much will it cost?

If you ever lose something, a tool that's so dear,
You should worry no more, my friend have no fear.

Hard drives are replaceable, just go to Best Buy,
There's no need to wallow, no reason to cry.

If our brains worked like hard drives, we could simply back-up,
Every word we have written, every touch, each "Wassap!"

But our lives are finite, our hard drives so unstable,
So remember it all, write down all you are able.



Not to keep harping on ministries, but Saturday I was driving along and was behind a car that had a bumper sticker for "Agape Christian Ministries."

Now, turn away and look back that those words really fast. Doesn't that look just like "Agatha Christie Mysteries?"


Novel update: gave a lot of thought on Friday and Saturday to the idea and it's evolving, at least in my head. I did a little bit of writing on Saturday before the Great Hard Drive Crash of November 2000, and although the writing is coming along slowly, the story is percolating nicely. I'm actually getting pretty excited about it. Biggest coincidence of the weekend: on a whim, I printed out what I'd written so far about an hour before my hard drive died.

Quick question: is anybody interested in downloading Terribly Happy pages in Palm Pilot format? There's a program I found that will convert these pages into a format that you can read on a Palm Pilot text reader. I've seen it on other sites and always thought it was a cool idea ("Terribly Happy: The Portable Version"), but would anybody actually use it? E-mail me if you would, otherwise, I may just wait a while until this whole portable Web thing actually catches on.

This is a small example of what it would be like: Download a Terribly Happy page for your Palm Pilot's DOC reader.

Now if my Palm Pilot crashed... then we'd have some problems.



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