The Zen of Stupidity

This blog post popped up in my memories the other day. Even though it was written in 2009, as 2022 begins to wind down, it seems like an excellent time to not only keep blaming the Broncos, but also to purge and back-up your digital life.

Normally I’d waste this space with my self-described hilarious blog antics but I’ve decided to try something different this time. I’m going to waste this space with a hilarious story about my extreme stupidity.

Lest you worry about my self-esteem, rest assured I am intact. Gorged and oozing, in fact, with self-esteem. I shouldn’t be, but there it is. One of life’s many mysteries.

I did something recently that is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, as long as we agree to overlook the 10th grade perm and the red pleather coat I begged my mother to buy me. (That’s when I learned that despite its delightfully shiny redness, pleather coats consistently fail to keep the Wyoming chill from blowing right through a skinny girl. At least I was smart enough not to complain to my mother who was itching to launch a well-deserved told you so.)

The perm and the coat don’t rise to the top of my Stupidity Scale, though, because I didn’t know any better. But I do know that hard drives crash and one should obsessively back up all computer data.

Duh. I know that. Third graders know that. Heck, even the squirrel on my deck knows that. Why else would he be twitching his tail in that holier-than-thou manner?

Do you see where this is going?

Did I obsessively back up all my files? No. No, I did not. Most of them, but not all of them. I have—and use—an FTP site … I have a million little USB drives … I email things to myself.

I know better, but I’ve never, in the 20+ years I’ve been computing, had a computer problem. I became complacent.

Here’s a weird karmic twist to the tale, befitting a BeckyLand story. My husband recently bought me an external hard drive so I could start using Time Machine which automatically backs up stuff every eighteen seconds. If the Broncos would have played at 2:00 instead of 11:00 that fateful Sunday, then I might have dodged a bullet. We would have set it up in the morning instead of waiting until after the game.

Guess when it crashed.

The stages of grief whooshed through my psyche at warp speed, so I was fairly calm by Monday morning. Waiting to talk to the Geniuses at the Apple Store was nerve-racking, until they told me it was hopeless and sent me home with a new computer for free. (Note to self: Apple Care ROCKS!) They even gave me my old hard drive and the name of a local data recovery place, Datatech Labs.

I visited them on Monday to tell them my sad story, one I’m sure they’ve heard a million times. Clearly, these are people who’ve been extensively trained in grief counseling. They spoke softly. They made no sudden movements. They even offered butterscotch candy and hugs …. Wait. I might be thinking of my grandmother. But they were very soothing. Never once did they mock or jeer or snicker behind my back.

My new best friend, Stephan, took my broken and battered hard drive into his softly cupped palms and carried it lovingly to the clean room to check it out. When he came out, he was smiling. “Looks like we can recover all the data.”

But then the bad news. $300 to repair the hard drive enough that they can get the data, then another $1700 to recover it. But only if they recover it. No recovery charge if they can’t get it.

[Despite the cost—and my ultimate decision not to pay for the recovery—if you ever find yourself in a similar pickle, you’d do well to call Datatech. They come highly recommended and they won’t mock you. They’d probably even give you a hug if you looked like you needed one.]

I’m not really into self-flagellation, but I do think I need to be punished. If you simply throw money at a problem, then you won’t really learn anything, right? That might be how Wall Street works, but we’re better than that, kids.

Realistically, nobody died, the sun keeps coming up every day, and I didn’t lose anything irreplaceable. I am much more fortunate than others. Everything I lost I can recreate, should I accept that challenge. It will be time-consuming, but not impossible. Some of the stuff I’ll probably never need again. As I tried to list everything I knew I lost, I’m sure I didn’t remember half of it. It was there because I had the space for it. So it seems like a good time for a purge.

Less like a tragic house fire, and more like a healthy, ruthless cleaning of my closets.

But the lesson is important … back up obsessively in several different ways because thumb drives can fail, large external drives can fail, software can fail. And always—always—blame the Broncos.

How do you back up your work?

6 thoughts on “The Zen of Stupidity”

  1. Oh, Becky. I’m so sorry. No laughing at you going on here, either; when my laptop was stolen last year I was two weeks out from my last backup and it took a lot of work to re-write the chapters I’d created in the meantime.

    Um, thanks for the reminder? And yes, blame the Broncos. They’re big enough to take it. Stoopid Broncos!

    1. Oh, Mary … I remember when your computer was stolen! I had a physical reaction to the news. Ugh.

      I worry about photos, too, Claudia. Not mine so much, but I keep trying to convince my kids to put theirs on DVDs. You really can’t recreate them!

      I’m in the ‘spinning-my-wheels’ stage now. I know what needs to be done, but it seems quite overwhelming and much easier to do the laundry.

  2. ‘Land, you are not stupid. You are what they call “a Broncos fan.” There is a subtle difference, my dear.

    My computer was stolen from work by burglars, along with many others, about a decade ago, and I had not backed up in three weeks. Lazy, basically. I had the data printed out on paper, but it was a lot of re-entering. I use Time Machine now myself, but only every week or two. I don’t leave it next to the computer because if I do get burgled, they will likely take both the computer and the external drive, and I will have nothing. So I back up and then stash the backup. I also eat all the red Fruit Loops first.

  3. Ouch! We are so dependent on our computer filing cabinets to help out our brains – it is a great loss when the hard drive crashes.

    That said though, $1700 to ‘recover’ the data – would have sent me packing and searching through the many thousands of other regular folks who do this repair work everyday for a living, reasonably.

  4. When I started writing, I backed up everything on floppys. Then thumb drives. Still do. But I lost PICTURES when my computer crashed–including my daughter’s high school graduation. MY lesson learned? DO NOT erase the pictures from the camera just because they are in the computer. I now put them on a disc~

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