Wrong punchline

By Mir
May 25, 2008

So I’ve been having nightmares for a week. I’m sure we could delve into the deep, dark, psychological reasons why—though I think I’ll save that for my new therapist, THE LUCKY WOMAN—but it’s a pretty complicated scenario to interpret. See, the kids left for the first of their summer trips with their dad, yesterday, and all week I’ve been dreaming about something awful happening to them. Huh. I WONDER WHAT THAT’S ABOUT.

My darling husband has been so eager to distract me from The Crazy that he asked me approximately 294 times yesterday if I was okay, and he also suggested we go out on a date last night to take my mind off of things.

He offered to take me out for sushi, which was when I realized that perhaps my moping was scaring him. (Otto doesn’t eat sushi.) So we headed out last night for our wild evening of freedom.

Dinner was excellent. Afterwards we went and saw the new Indiana Jones movie, which we also quite enjoyed. It was a rare evening of being adults; no children to placate, no babysitter to race home to. And although the kids called in the middle of dinner, that was nice, too, to hear their voices. They even demanded to talk to Otto, which warmed my shriveled little heart.

We arrived home quite late, and—as is my custom—I sat down to check my email.

My computer woke up, but then locked up almost immediately.

Huh. After trying a couple of things, I rebooted it. Well, I tried to, anyway.

After being a PC owner for years and years, I thought the worst feeling in the world had to be seeing that ubiquitous Blue Screen of Death. But last night I discovered there’s actually a WORSE feeling—when your Mac flashes a file icon with a question mark in the center.

That’s Apple for “Hey, your machine is completely fucked.”

While we were out having a nice dinner, my beloved MacBook took it upon itself to have a nice meal, too. BY COOKING ITSELF.

Hey, the good news is that the kids are still fine. The bad news is that if I’d spent some of the previous week backing up my computer instead of worrying about them, I might not be sitting on the couch wondering how it is that I bought a new computer, started keeping meticulous records, and yet managed to back up absolutely nothing and now six months of my work and records are completely gone.

Otto is on his way to the closest open Genius Bar right now (an hour away). I told him I needed to stay home to beat myself up some more. Update: Otto just called from the Genius Bar. My hard drive—and six months worth of writing, accounting, contracts, and all the rest—are gone. GONE. He’s coming home with a new drive and a Time Capsule.

Which doesn’t make up for the fact that I am a stupidest moron on the planet.


  1. The Other Leanne

    I can tell the kids are gone…you said the F word!

    But really, if you had spent some of the week worrying about your computer instead of the kids, well, that just would have been weird.

  2. Mamamiiia

    As an olympic medalist in the anxiety discipline, I totally relate to this last episode of your life. It feels so good to know I am not the only anxious mother on earth! I still don’t know how I will be able to let my son leave the nest for summer camp one day. I will need a lot of Chardonnay…

  3. suburbancorrespondent

    Ouch. I think I’ll go back some stuff up right now.

  4. Cele

    Wow, you haven’t even had this computer that long. I learned a few years ago, back up files every time I defrag. I really hate when I forget. so hmmm, I think I’ll go back up now. Thank you for the reminder, I hope the Geek Squad comes through for you.

  5. Chuck

    Wow, that sucks. And it reminds me I need to buy a portable hard drive for backups. It’s been several years since I had a catastrophic system failure…and in the early days it was no big deal, but now I have accumulated several years worth of crap I couldn’t easily replace. Hope Otto has good luck at the Genius Bar, I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  6. fairyhedgehog

    I understand a week of worry about the kids because I still worry about my kids and they’re 21 and 23. When they were younger it was even worse.

    And I always mean to back up my pc. Sometimes I even do it but if mine crashed now I’d lose so much. I’m sorry to hear that you lost six months worth. That really sucks.

  7. jennielynn

    That sucks donkey balls, my friend.

  8. a different kate

    The computer gods are not in your favor this year!

    That same thing happened to my iBook. I got it for Christmas and by March the hard drive was dying. I thankfully had enough time to back it up onto an external drive. (This extra time was wrenched by literally putting ice packs under my laptop– I know it sounds crazy but for some reason the cold made the hard drive die a slower death. I’ve done this with a bad iPod drive too. It really does work!) Once you get the missing startup file icon though– things are pretty far gone.

    Sorry for your pain. Both of them.

  9. Stephanie

    You are not stupid! You have a Mac and Otto bought you Time Capsule. You will LOVE it and will not have to worry about *ever* having a repeat and won’t even have to *think* about backup again. :-)

    Doesn’t make losing all your hard work and info any easier, I know. So sorry. :-(

  10. Heather Cook

    I’m so depressed today that this made me cry FOR YOU. I’m sorry, this sucks.

  11. All Adither

    That is a cautionary tale for sure. Must go back up files now. Oddly, however, in all my years of Mac usership, this has never happened to me. Knocking my head against some wood.

  12. Katie

    Weird, I went out for sushi and to see the Indiana Jones movie last night too. Good luck with your computer!

  13. mommytherobot

    i’m not someone who works at the Genius Bar, but i have been a Mac user for 10 years and i know enough that nothing ever gets truly deleted from a Mac or a PC for that matter (its scary how NOTHING really gets erased but sleeps somewhere in your computer’s subconscious). Its happened to me before and usually a programmer has dug my files out. It won’t hurt you to try and take the Mac to Mac. Or if its truly too late, I’m sure you’re backing up your files w a 500 Gb My Book.

  14. becky

    ouch. i feel for you. i just recently backed up my laptop, but i should do it at minimum once a week. it may be time to upgrade to leopard, just so i’ll have time machine and be even more protected.

    in fact, i think i’ll do a backup before i leave for mom & dad’s next week. crap, i should do the same for my website, too. *sigh*

    ugh, so sorry you lost all that.

  15. parodie

    Oh my, I am so, so sorry about the hard drive meltdown. And the rest of the anxiety, too. Best wishes, and take care of yourself, Mir.

  16. Heidi

    Mercury doesn’t officially go retrograde until tomorrow; sounds like your Mac decided to beat the rush. Dang.

  17. Daisy

    Something else to fill your nightmares — you did not need this. You really didn’t deserve this, either. Hugs — wish I could send you more.

  18. Sue

    Oh, man. That SUCKS! I hope there was lots of swearing. And then some drinking. Sorry :-(

  19. ks grandma

    I am so sorry that the goddesses of lives well lived have taken a vacation just when you need their miracles the most. On the other hand, think of how many backups are being made this afternoon because of your willingness to share your very real pain. Mine is actually in my pocket because of the (again) tornado watch that is in effect.

  20. Sharkey

    Starting my backup routine at this very moment, thanks to you. So sorry it had to happen. Is any of that mint ready for harvesting? Perhaps a mojito would help?

  21. Cheryl

    Oh man. That truly bites – I’m so sorry.

  22. Denise

    I know someone else that this happened to, this past Monday. Macs scare me for this very reason. Seems like mac users live at the genius bar or they lose their hard drives within six months.

    Scary ’cause I never back anything up.

  23. Jenn

    Ugh, what rotten luck! It’s possible that a data retrieval pro (not the guy at the Genius Bar) could recover your data..for a price. Might be worth considering.

  24. M

    That sucks! I’ve had that happen too and I agree you should take it to a pro … not someone through the Mac store though. I had the same thing happen and I took it to Macforce (they’re in Portland, OR though) and they were able to find my files for a pretty penny. Worth a try! Not that you needed any more stress though …

  25. MaryP

    Oh.My.God. You have just lived my nightmare — you are living my nightmare. I hope all those people above are right and the data can be retrieved. I hope it can be done and I hope you can afford to have it done.

    I feel a bit sick, just considering it. I will email you some booze, forthwith. (If you don’t drink, this might be a good time to take it up. Just for a couple of days…)

  26. Bobbie

    That just happened to my MacBook last week (purchased six months ago)! Thankfully my husband had purchased the “Apple Care” extended warrantee. Apple sent me a box to pack the laptop into, DHL picked it up at 5:00 Friday night, and it was back in my hot little hands on Tuesday morning!

  27. Hecticmom

    Oh, I’m so sorry. You are right – that is the WORST feeling. I have had that happen on three occasions. One was after two all nighters before a major paper was due. I literally hit the print button (an hour before my 8am class) and the hard drive died. I kid you not. Totally gone.

    The second was when I had all of the reviews for my employees written (each takes an entire day to write and I had 15) and the hard drive died.

    And oddly the third was when a paper for my master degree was due. Something about deadlines and harddrives. I think I must give off some sort of EMF when I’m stressed and it kills hard drives.

    So – sorry your hard drive died. It sucks. It sucks hard.

  28. StephLove

    Oh man, I am so sorry.

  29. Jamie

    Wow, that is Not Cool. I would be livid and would promptly “request” (which is nice for “demand”) more than a just replacement hard drive. A new computer should not do that.

    I’m really sorry; I hope the time capsule is more successful than the Genius Store was helpful. :\

  30. mimbles

    Erk. That really does suck. I feel ill just thinking about having something like that happen. The one time we catastrophically lost a hard drive it was our back-up drive that went. Thankfully all our photos and other important stuff were still on all the various drives that had been backed up to the dead drive. We did have to re-rip a rather large number of CDs though.

    We did the new Indy movie yesterday too, but no sushi, instead we went to a teppanyaki restaurant and watched the chef throw food at the kids.

  31. SheilaC

    That’s horrible about your computer. I hope that those hard-disk recovery people can recover most of your data for you. I got most of mine back when my hard drive died last summer (PC). Including family photos and lots of documents.
    I’m also really sorry about having to let M and C go away to visit. Knowing it’s the right thing doesn’t make it any easier or less painful, I’m sure.
    You deserve some very good luck this week!

  32. Lori

    When it rains it pours doesn’t it! My computor crashed last August so I feel your pain.
    I understand the worry about the kids while they are away…so hard not to when they are so much a part of us. Doesn’t stop when they get older either-mine are young adults and two live in other states. Part of my heart leaves with them every time they come home for a visit and then leave again….it’s so damm hard to let go isn’t it?

    Very nice of your hubby to get you out…nice distraction. I hate night-mares…seems like stress brings them on…at least for me it does. Hope you can get relaxed enough to enjoy some time just for you while they are gone!

  33. becky

    i’ve heard more than one person say that sticking the hard drive in the freezer for a while and booting it one last time was enough to get the files off.

    is there any way you can do that and plug it in to something and pull the data? otto would probably know enough about that.

    and on second thought, i am totally getting one of those time capsules.

  34. Mike Golch

    I fell your pain.I lost all my dfata when my P.C. decided to thumb it’s nose at me.

  35. RubiaLala

    That sucks. Although I’m totally on board with you trying the freezer idea that becky suggested. Let me know how that goes.

  36. Brigitte

    Maybe Joshilyn’s husband can do some computer magic for you?

    The kids are going on visitS (plural)!? Gee whiz, summer break is only a couple months long, I know that I sure as heck wouldn’t want to shuttle back and forth more than once in that time span. Ack!

  37. Monica

    I was reading a little while ago about a man who did back up his data – and the tech who came to replace his motherboard was either confused or malicious and reconnected his external drive and formatted it. At least you’re only blaming yourself and not contemplating a life sentence for murder.

  38. Beth

    Ohhhhh, Mir! I feel so horrible for you. I had a similar thing happen with my work computer (PC) last summer right before Fall semester. Two hard drives just went fut — and of course I hadn’t backed up in ages. Knowing that you know better just makes it worse.

    And on top of your munchkins leaving? I’d be climbing a tower with a water pistol.


  39. Dani

    I am so, so sorry. (Does Hallmark have a sympathy card for loss of data? They should.) You are living my nightmare.

    Also… I hope you have many more date nights to keep your mind off the kids being with their dad. Make the best of it.

  40. Amy-Go

    And THAT’s why I despise computers. Evil liitle bastards out to take over the world!

    I may have seen ‘Terminator’ one too many times.

    So, so sorry…

  41. Pamela

    Oh, no! I’m so sorry to hear that. I did a similar thing (losing months of not-backed-up work) even though I insist loudly that everyone at my lab should back up on a regular schedule.

    Plus, my computer didn’t eat itself. I left it on a bus. Yay, me. (feel less stupid now? I too made my significant other deal with it, because I was feeling too stupid to be near other people.)

  42. At Home Redesigns

    Being disconnected (from kids and computers) … how disconcerting. Good luck!

  43. E

    Oh jeez — I’m so sorry! Kids, computer — Yikes!

  44. Ingrid

    My computer crashed a few months. I was able to recover the data from a company in Palo Alto, California, that literally has to have its employees wear protective white suites in a super closed environment for purposes of taking apart the hard drive, piece by piece. They recovered all of my data (years worth) in exchange for $2,000. Though I was not thrilled about the cost, it was sure great to get all of my son’s baby pictures back! Thus, I would bet you anything that your data is recoverable, too.

  45. Kathy from NJ

    Please ask Otto to see if there are any nerds in the computer science program. My PC crashed in January, the Geek Squad couldn’t do anything with it. My husband’s nephew is a computer engineer for some big company, within one day I had several DVD’s of my files.

  46. Flea

    Ouch ouch ouch. No, it doesn’t make you stupid. Just frazzled and distracted and – look! Something shiny!

  47. Mom101

    Oh my gooooooooood. I am so feeling for you right now.
    which reminds me, have to get on that time capsule thing, stat. Let me know if I can help in any way – not that I can. (I could sing to you over the phone maybe?)

  48. Steff

    I’m sorry.

  49. sunny

    Oh maybe my husband can fix it? http://techtreepc.synthasite.com/
    He can do amazing things with computers.
    I totally related to the poem? about love you wrote. Divorce sucks! Somehow we keep finding new ways to love, and yet never wrap our minds around how it is all going to work.Somehow it does.

  50. Big Momma Pimpalishisness

    Oh no, just a regular moron like the rest of us. I lost at least 6 months when my mac crashed last year, and if it was to crash today, I’d lose at least 3 months worth, because all that stress last year? Yeah, it still hasn’t made me any better at backing things up.

  51. Jennifer

    If you are willing to pay for it, there are services that can recover your data from the old hard drive. Try Drive Savers. They are the best. . .

  52. Shalee

    This cannot be good. Our new MacBook did the same thing in under 6 months, and we lost all our pictures. Every single one. This news after downloading them all to the MacBook – the computer that wasn’t supposed to do this kind of thing!

    They too said they couldn’t get anything back either, plus we had to pay to hear “No luck.” That sucked.

  53. pam

    Yi yi yi. That furious clicking sound you hear? Me backing up, backing up, backing up. Then the ringing? Me calling everyone I know and reminding them to do same.

  54. Vane

    OMG … feeling for you on the “When it rains it pours” kind of weekend :(

    Hope you can get your files back.

  55. Erin

    Sorry to hear about that!!! You could try a small company in Madison (no cost to you if they can’t fix it so not too risky): http://www.gillware.com

  56. Aimee

    *&*&%^%#$^%$#%&^%! computers.

    Sorry that happened to you. That truly sucks. I’m not good about that stuff either — fortunately my husband is.

  57. Astrogirl426

    Ohhhhh my God. I think I might cry for you a little bit now.

    Similar situation, except on a PC (which is why I FINALLY returned to my Mac roots and bought a Macbook a few months ago YES!!!!) and it was YEARS of email I lost. God, that’s the worst feeling in the world. Bunker Hubby had to restrain me from throwing myself out the window (which, this being a Bunker and only one level and all, would have been more embarrassing than painful. But still).

    The good part of this is, you have motivated me to get off my lazy duff and start backing up my own harddrive (and also find out if it’s a Seagate). Danke, hon!

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