Cry Me a River, Cowboy

Friday, August 19, 2016


My laptop died on Monday. It was on, I went and did other things, when I came back the screen was dark. It’s an old computer, every now and then it gets tired and turns off. Weird, but whatever. You push the button and it comes back on.

Except this time it didn’t.

And actually the exact same thing happened last year, it went dark and stayed dark. I took it to my IT friend Tom and he looked at it and declared it a lost cause but took out the hard drive and transplanted the hard drive into a different body (separate story there, I will spare you the details) and that was fine, it booted right up, no problems at all. I was back in business.

So in my mind, on Monday, this is the same thing. I know we won’t be able to transplant again, but that’s okay, it’s time for me to move on from this computer anyway, it was barely functional even before the screen went dark. The reason I hadn’t gotten a new one is because I’m still feeling a bit in between things at this point and I hadn’t figured out what I should get to replace it. And I had all of my systems set up for this computer, and adjusting to a new computer is so hard for me — the autistic person who lives inside my brain is completely change averse. Especially with computers. Man, I just hate getting a new computer, I put it off as long as possible, and even when I do it, I never quite adjust to the change, there are always things I miss about my old computer.  If it were up to me, I’d still be using DOS. (Oh, XyWrite how I miss you!)

And given the age of my computer, my extreme attachment to my data, and my general level of technical competence (seriously, I am technically competent, I am the person you call when you can’t figure out how to get your printer to work or just what is going on with your computer), you’d think I would have been really on top of the data backup thing. I’d have local backups and cloud backups and some kind of syncing thing so everything was totally covered. All of that. Right?

Um, yeah.

So I get a replacement laptop from my friends at Triangle Ecycling and I take my Mac to my IT friend Tom and he takes out the drive and plugs it into a different computer and … nothing. Doesn’t show up. Drive not readable.

I am not expecting this. At all. I’m like What? What do you mean it isn’t showing up?? My heart starts racing. My mind goes blank. I’m sure the color  drained from my face.

I am a crazy data tracker. The great value of my data is that I have a giant data set — most of my emails dating back to 1993, all of my spending since 1995, time logs from 2003 on.

I have a good memory, I remember much more than the average person, but I also have a huge amount of data that I can mine. If we are trying to figure something out and we can’t remember what happened, I say, “Okay let’s go to the tape.” I can look through emails to see what we said, review spending records to see what I actually spent money on, look at time logs to see what I was working on. It’s like a huge external brain where all of our collective past is stored.

So of course I have this all backed up. Right?


All I can say is F*k Me.

And I also have to say that I have been feeling conflicted about this element of my personality for a while now, my great love of random information from my past, and my ongoing devotion to data tracking. It sometimes feels like a burden, to have all this stuff that I have to worry about keeping track of, to carry around with me for the rest of my life. When does it end?

And apparently this conflict prevented me from properly managing this storehouse of data. I just didn’t back things up, even after I bought a new external drive and was totally going to be organized. The drive is still in its packaging, I never even opened it.

So apparently when this ends is right now, in 2016, two weeks after my 49th birthday and two weeks before my last CPA exam.


This is like someone ignoring their girlfriend — la la la, I don’t need you — until she leaves and then he is like no, wait, I totally didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean it! I’m sorry! Come back!

I remember telling a story to my friend Christine about a friend who dated a guy who she was really into but who was totally a jerk to her and they had broken up and she went on a trip with another guy and all of a sudden jerky boyfriend was like wait, I miss you! And he was all nice to her and telling her how sad he was and how much he wanted to be with her and how he couldn’t live without her.

So I’m telling Christine about my friend and she says, “Okay so he’s a jerk until she goes away with someone else and then he can’t live without her?”

And I say, “Yup, pretty much.”

And Christine says, “Oh, cry me a river, cowboy.”

So there you have it. Cry me a river, cowboy. My data is gone.

And it’s not like I don’t have any backups, I do, I have most of the older stuff, but I don’t have any of the most recent stuff and the thing about the recent stuff is I can’t even say what’s valuable. The data is only valuable in retrospect, when I can look back and see what happened, or remember stories that I told in emails that completely disappear with the passage of time (remind me sometime to tell you the Courtney the Clown story), or write things that later turn out to be worth reading. And also just because the sheer volume of it — the value is that I have everything.

Except now I don’t. How will I know I was even here?

I talked to my friend Ann after I found out. I said maybe it’s time to turn over a new leaf, to start fresh and not track data anymore. Just live in the moment.

She said, “Yeah. Let me know how that goes.”

Then we looked up the stages of grief to see where I was at (3=bargaining, (4=loneliness).

I miss you my data friends. I’m sorry I didn’t take care of you. So sorry.

So anyway, that was my day on Thursday.

And then I tried to study and focus on accounting for pensions and you can just imagine how that went.

But Friday is a new day.

Carpe diem.

13 Responses to “Cry Me a River, Cowboy”

  1. judilyn Says:

    Gah! I cannot imagine the pain. I back up my Mac on Disk 1 on odd days of the month, and on Disk 2 on even days of the month. Do you know about Super Duper? It does it for you while you sleep, and makes a bootable disk for the unthinkable!

    Virtual hugs,


  2. orinoco womble Says:

    Looks like you’re going to get a valuable lesson in learning to let go. Painful, but valuable. I’ve had to learn that a couple of times. As we get older (and I’ve got 5-6 years on you :) we learn just how much we actually can manage without, and–if we’re lucky–also that streamlining can be a positive thing.

    I promise, you’ll survive. And you’ll probably do it again. My friendly neighbourhood geek is always hokking me about just this issue. And I’m always saying Imonna learn to do it…soon.

  3. Bank44623 Says:

    Think of it as a do-over

  4. Muriel Says:

    My heart goes out to you Rebecca! And, wow, do I appreciate your honesty. That raw gut wrenching ain’t a damn thing you can do about it now slipped through your fingers sensation… Made me dizzy with recognition of the times I have thoroughly f***ed myself too. But I won’t write about them. You may have lost your data, but you still have your courage.

  5. tommfranklin Says:

    But now what are you going to do now that I’ve been able to get your HD to boot up on another Mac and have burned some of the data to DVD?

  6. lessisenough Says:


    I guess I should have waited to write the post! But it was therapy. Also it allowed me tell the “cry me a river cowboy” story, which is one of my faves.

    And now I will appreciate my data in a way that I didn’t before, and I will organize it, and I will BACK IT UP. Or print it and put it in notebooks or something. I will, I will!

    But not truly believing it til I see it.

  7. lessisenough Says:


    I know, I know. There are so many great options, I just didn’t do any of them. And honestly I was much better when I was doing more actual work on that computer, I always backed up my current projects, sent things to Dropbox, emailed active files to myself, saved things that had changed to flash drives. But then I got lazy because it was just my personal stuff. Which you don’t think so much about until it is gone. And then you are like wait I need that too.

    But now Tom tells me the data is back! And I have a new computer so I will join the modern era and set up some kind of automatic thing with that.

  8. judilyn Says:

    Don’t procrastinate on this! Buy two high volume disks, do leapfrog back ups with Super Duper and you will never need to go through all those other gyrations to have your info safe.

  9. lessisenough Says:

    Well the good news is I have a 1TB external drive ready to go. Tom told me I should put it in the cloud with Carbonite. I might do both.

  10. judilyn Says:

    Programmer Hubby does not allow our computers to be attached to the cloud because of financial information security vagaries. Probably overly cautious, but . . .

    We trust our home-grown redundant system(s). Also – readily available, if needed in a pinch.

  11. lessisenough Says:

    Yeah, it’s funny. I have a few friends who are all about the cloud. I have lingering concerns … not the least of which is level of internet access from home. I’d like to be ready for the apocalypse when the internet goes away.

  12. orinoco womble Says:

    Here in Europe some commercial clouds have found themselves locked by governments, due to fears of filesharing and pirating. Which leaves the honest people who paid for the service out in the cold. It disturbs me that one’s data can be at the mercy of an arbitrary decision by total strangers. For this reason we have 2, 1Tb external hard disks.

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