Saturday, December 20, 2008

In John We Trust

Last weekend my computer had a bad case of brain freeze. I made an appointment to see a genius, the world's best job title, at the Apple store.

Two hours later, Marlon-the-Genius told me in effect that I should start planning my Mac's funeral as the hard drive could not be mounted. (Yes, I know. Animal husbandry comes to mind here.) He told me that I would have to buy a new hard drive for $350 which may or may not work, and gave me business cards for two companies that retrieve data.

The first company offered to attempt this death-defying feat for $500-$2500, depending on how much data there was. The second came in only slightly cheaper.

I've been working on two manuscripts, one for over ten years, the other for nearly two. Both went down with the ship because I hadn't backed them up.

I was devastated, but tried to be philosophical about my loss. Maybe God was punishing me for crimes A, B or C which I may have inadvertently committed. Or maybe the message was that I was not supposed to write those particular books. I believe in an orderly universe. Therefore, there must be a reason.

It can't be as simple as "shit happens." Not if you're me, anyway.

After brooding for several days (between visits to Flip's computer when the jonesing got too bad,) it occurred to me that I should get a second opinion.

I made an appointment at a different Apple store and today took my computer to John-the-Genius, who totally lived up to his title. He downloaded my manuscripts onto a disk which is sitting on my desk like a beating heart, and he solved my hard drive problem.

He said the malfunction was a fluke. It wasn't anything I did, nor could it have been prevented.

Shit happens.

It isn't lost on me that I spent a week agonizing over some lost writing when Flip is losing so much more to Alzheimer's.

The engaged couple ahead of me had met at the Genius Bar several months ago. John remembered them. I wondered if he was going to officiate at their wedding after fixing their laptops.

He made a few adjustments and gave me back my life.

Nerd that I am, my life is in my computer. I had a near-death experience and lived to tell about it.

I feel as if Christmas came early this year.

"Oh come let us adore him, John-the-Lord."


Jocelyn said...

So if things happen for a reason, the first diagnosis must have been that you'd go to John and, er, see that couple there and, um, end up officiating at their wedding?

I'm sooooooooooo glad your writing is safe with you now and not lost in the void. The prospect made my stomach sink in horror.

Jocelyn said...

To clarify: because writers (you) should always be the choice of officiant over computer repair guys.

Those would a pretty dry ceremony John would present--lots of stuff about promising to "back each other up" and all.

Warty Mammal said...

Boy, that must have been a stomach-clencher! I'm so glad the problem was resolved and the data recovered.

You were wise to get a "second opinion", as it were. I've run into similar situations, people telling me I needed to replace an entire logic board on a printer and my popping the thing open and finding a blown fuse. The good news is that now you hopefully have someone reliable to consult on those rare occasions when things go to hell.

the walking man said...

I was talking to my dog last night and she told me that she wanted to play the baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant. Now that I know she will grow up to be a genius I am of a mind to let her play the part and support her in her efforts. ya' think maybe I should back up my files? Naaaa that would be tempting shit to happen.

Anonymous said...

Thank god for nerds. A good reminder for us all about the backing up. Off to do so now...

Anonymous said...

Whew! That was a close one. I think the only "message" there is to periodiclaly back things up on an extrenal hard-drive (which I don't do nealy often enough myself.)

stephen t said...

Glad you got the hard drive working and your files are safe. Neither Jackie nor I had backed up our computers and lately I had been thinking this was not a wise situation. I found that external hard drives are extremely inexpensive these days and purchased a 500 gig unit for about $80. It's several times the capacity of all of our computers combined, so now all our precious data and music files are safely duplicated. The peace of mind is well worth the money spent.

Sienna said...

There is a lesson you have shared here...and I hear it loud and clear.

It would be wise for me to back everything up...

All the work and play stuff, all the photos...

Have a great xmas Hearts and Flip and family..

Love from Pam

Paul said...

A good story with a better outcome.

I'm very compulsive when it comes to backing up. All I have to do is imagine what would happen if I'd lost everything on my computer. So much of what I have in ones and zeros touch on my livelihood.

Once, just after backing up my hard drive, I went through a clean-up binge. My fingers were going faster than my mind when I'd realized I'd deleted (and then emptied the trash) an entire folder of something I really needed. It was only luck that I'd made the backup first.

A technical writer I once knew had a rare mechanical failure with a hard drive. It cost her $2,000 to retrieve the data. She had no choice, as she had no backup.

It's good policy, and relatively inexpensive.

jameil1922 said...

i'm not gonna John the Lord but John the Genius is more than appropriate. Fantastic John!! Glad you got a 2nd opinion. One bad apple, eh?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thanks for the laugh! They will promise to back each other up and to always be gentle with their respective hard drives.


Yes, a stomach-clencher indeed. I felt kind of bereft all week. I'm glad I've been let out of Purgatory.


Next thing you know, she'll want to play stick with the wooden cross.

I'm just saying.


Exhibit A right here. You don't want to lose your stuff, trust me, so do the deed.


But you will now, won't you?

Glad I could help.


I agree completely. That sounds like the right solution for us, too.


Happy Christmas to you and yours, too, the two and four-leggeds all.



I think that most of life's serious problems can be averted with some preparation. As the Boy Scouts say, Be prepared. Back up like crazy and things will never get to this point.


I was definitely feeling worshipful when John raised me from the dead.

Rachel said...

After reading this I dug out my dusty thumb drive and backed up all my writings...I have hard copies of most of what I've got, but...the thought re-typing the whole lot of them gives me the horrors.

Ian Lidster said...

Good for John and good for you to be re-Mac-ed for the season. I still miss my Mac (which, when I finally gave it up nearly two years ago, was 427 years old in computer years.

Blessings of the season to you and Flip. You are awfully nice people who deserve good things.

LittlePea said...

Nothing sexier than a smart man-advice from my Grandmother. Pretty damn good advice I think.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm glad you're taking care of business. I will too from now on.


Thank you so much. All happy wishes to you and the lovely Wendy for the holidays and for 2009.

Sweet Pea,

As usual, your grandma is right. Stupidity is simply not exciting no matter how attractively packaged it is.

Anonymous said...

Oh what great, great news!!!!

I am soooooo happy for you. It feels like Christmas for us too, just knowing some of the best writing around has been saved. Whew.

Happy Johnmas.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you for sharing my joy and relief.

Happy Johnmas to you, too! (Keep the John in Johnmas.)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I hope you are saved now!


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Pam said...

Phew! John - the modern-day knight in shining armour I'd say.Who'd have thought that nerds would catapult up there as head of the hero list. They certainly shine in this day and age. So relieved for you. That is such good news.

franki said...

Oh I am just so pleased for you lady! I've got an external hard drive for all my pix and music.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes, I'm a believer. (In what, exactly, I'm not sure, but I believe like crazy now.)


John is my new Superhero for sure. He was a really sweet guy and made it all look so simple.


An external drive will be my new best friend.

I'm glad you're protecting all your artwork in case your computer ever goes bad.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Wow! I want that job. Do they provide training to be a genius?

Los Angelista said...

So many lessons in one experience. Thank goodness for the 2nd genius at the Apple store. I find that every time I go in there I develop a crush on whomever is helping me. I've lost beaucoup stuff, including my last photos with my now deceased great uncle, to laptop death so now I use the Dell Data Safe on-line backup. It does it automatically for me every week so I don't have to think about it. You can get 2GB for free for a year, but I back up all my photos, music, writing, everything.

Hope you and Flip have a lovely holiday! So excited to read those manuscripts one day! :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm sure they do. And maybe new, smarter parents as well.


I'll be so excited when you are able to read them, too.

This was quite a come to Jesus experience for me. I learned that the OS10.5 Apples have an automatic hourly backup system because of people like me.

Happy holidays to you and your family, and much joy in the New Year.

Julia said...

That must be such a relief. Until reading this, I never really thought about what I'd do if I lost everything that's stored on my computer.

Time to go back everything up ASAP.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Glad I could help. You, especially, need to back up your fine writing.

Merry Christmas to you!

The CEO said...

Hi Susan, please include the videos you're taking of Flip recording and playing, and just talking to you. And since you live in San Francisco, please consider a second, off-site backup periodically in the event of an earthquake destroying your apartment. Your off-site might be at your daughter on the East Coast, wherever, far enough away that you can recover things that are precious in the event of a natural disaster. Happy New Year.

Molly said...

Thanks, Heart, for the sweet message you left! I hope you and Skip are doing well and had happy holidays!

thailandchani said...

I'm glad you got that second opinion. That makes a lot of difference with so many business people scrapping for every last penny!


heartinsanfrancisco said...


I appreciate your suggestions but with all respect, if an earthquake destroyed our apartment I think we might have more serious problems than saving my scribblings.


Thank you for coming by with such nice thoughts. Happy New Year to you and your family!


I don't think that Genius A was trying to sell anything but he was less competent than Genius B, so I'm very happy that I sought a second opinion.

I got a request from Apple to rate his help and chose not to because I didn't want to get him in trouble over a rare glitch that he was unlikely to have seen before. I was very lucky to get the one person who could fix it the second time.

The Fool said...

Glad there was a recovery. It's nerve-wracking to lose such. Best to you this holiday season, and may '09 be full of blessings and bring your projects to completion.

Peace out.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

No Fool,

Thank you for those good wishes! I've set 2009 as my goal on the older project - the other will be ongoing by necessity.

A very happy New Year to you and yours!

meggie said...

A Bad luck good luck story! The second I have read today. I must be a sign. haha.

I wish you Happy New Year.

Maria said... must have been SO excited to get your manuscripts back. I would have been simply ill....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Of the two, I definitely prefer the good luck stories to the bad.


I'm dealing with a spouse with Alzheimer's so I'm not sure I even have the right to be ill over this, but yes, it did feel like I was taking a big hit.

the walking man said...

I'm trusting that John has delivered to you and Flip a continued prospect for health and progress in the upcoming months.

Be well friend.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Happy New Year!

May you and yours be blessed with much happiness and many joys in 2009!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You be well, too, and have a most happy and healthy New Year.

St. Nick,

Thank you! I wish you and yours the same.

Brand new slates are wonderful!

velvet said...

It's so good that you got another opinion. All hail John! I'm so glad that you got your work back again. Whew!!

The Mister is a sort of belts-with-suspenders kind of person and got another external drive to back-up our back-up. I'd roll my eyes and ask when that kind of thing stops, but it is kind of comforting in a geeky sort of way.

Happy New Year to you and Flip!

Thanks for checking on me a few months ago, btw. The comment notification e-mail ended up in my spam file (thanks a lot, yahoo), so I had no idea that you had stopped by until recently when I checked it before emptying it. Oops! Hope you're well!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


My computer also thinks that a lot of my comments are spam and I never see them until I clear out that folder, occasionally. Blogger is kind of sporadic about notifying me that I have comments, too.

John was a true godsend.

Belts with suspenders sounds like a very good way to go, considering.

Happy New Year to you and the Mister!

Glamourpuss said...

I'm with you; the Universe is wise. Perhaps it just wanted you to consider the loss of your work. You are wise enough to see the implications of that - and to back it up now :-)


Cardozo said...

I had a feeling you had manuscripts lurking...

Any chance of you posting some excerpts?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Being naturally a bit self-punishing, I assumed that the universe didn't want me to write or publish my work, but apparently I've had a reprieve. :)


I published a few excerpts from a memoir some time ago, but don't remember when, or what I called them. It could happen again, perhaps. Thanks for asking.