Monday, May 2, 2011


I haven’t been blogging for some time, sorry readers. I’ve been too caught up with life. This blog has not been abandoned, but was simply put on hold. More to come. (I’ve also had some computer problems.)

My life lately has been addressing my gaps. I’ve had issues, most of them personal, that I’ve been dealing with my entire life. It’s one of gaps, and specifically it deals with my memory.

I have a frightening problem that occurs from time to time where I can’t remember something. This may be quite normal for most people, but at times it has caused great worry to myself. It may be a conversation, a person’s name, a memory. At times I have gaps.

There are many techniques I’ve used to combat my gaps. I’m a very good note taker, especially at work. I have electronica which servers as a digital assistant, reminding me of things that need taking care of so I don’t miss them. I make lists. I have memory aids to help me keep track of people’s names (I rhyme them or think of someone else I know with the same name, like you’re a Shaggy too?) Over the years, I have devised and refined my tools and techniques to help me work around this issue.

I used to think I had a bad memory. I actually felt bad about it, like somehow I wasn’t making a person’s name, a detail, or a task important enough to warrant remembering. It’s something people would say to me and I’d take it to heart. One day I heard an expert on memory speak. He said people had different talents for different things. This gelled with me. I have an excellent memory for directions, numbers and other related items. I do not for names, lists, tasks (like watering the plants). I began to see myself as not having a disability, but rather having talents in other areas. It brought with it a new sense of relief.

This diversity of memory talents is similar to the point I was trying to get across in my earlier article What Kind Of Priest Am I Going To Be? It’s not that I have a good or bad memory, it’s that it has unique talents. We all have talents and skills unique to each of us. My wife is good at names, lists, facts (and infuriatingly past conversations). I on the other hand remember most back roads and shortcuts I’ve taken in cities all across the country. We compliment each other’s skills.

My Computer Trashed Itself

So with all of the list making and attention to detail, my computer trashed itself last month. I was having some Bluetooth issues and decided maybe the newly released driver is the cure to all my woes. So I attempted an upgrade – of the driver. It failed. No worries, I uninstalled the old one and intended to install the new one – after the necessary reboot. This all occurred on a Wednesday right before some time I was taking off lining up to give us a five day weekend. I had been working 60 hour weeks for about 6 in a row and need to reconnect with that wife who tends to not forget these things.

I uninstalled the driver, it wanted a reboot. I hit that beloved reboot now button and closed the lid. I walked away for five days.

On Tuesday, I opened it up to see the list of trouble. You know the one, Windows didn’t boot successfully, what do you want to do – safe mode, attempt to boot again, yadda yadda. So I said boot normally. It failed.

Windows told me to insert the Windows disc – could be bad. I inserted it. It said, it appears you were uninstalling a driver, would you like us to roll that back, don’t worry, all of your files are safe. I said, why not. That failed.

After another reboot, Windows said, well let’s revert back to a previous restore point, I said OK. Again it said all of your files will be OK, don’t worry.

That failed. This time Windows said it couldn’t do anything.

So I launched a manual recovery window, basically a command prompt from the Windows disc. I started listing through directories, all those files that were promised to be fine – twice – they were gone! My entire hard drive was nothing but an empty skeleton of directories, no files in them, and some of the directories themselves were gone.

The Storage Guy

So I should say at this point that my career is computer storage. I’m a storage architect. I sell disks, tapes, replication, mirrors, backups and all forms of virtualization, redundancy, backup systems, further lines of defense, etc. It’s my job to make sure this very kind of thing is not a catastrophe.

Back before the acquisition of our company by another, I religiously backed up my hard drive. Almost weekly, sometimes daily. After the acquisition, they broke the network for this purpose (for the technically minded, then enabled QoS siphoning off my backup traffic to a mere trickle of data). I could no longer back up. So, I didn’t. Our backup server’s on the ‘net, so we can backup from anywhere (except in the office due to said policy), so most of my coworkers do it from home. My satellite Internet connection makes this an unreality, so I would forgo backups.

This realization, and my confession to my colleagues, caused much laughter as to the irony of my occupation.

I did have one thing, however, a hard drive from 6 months back, the old one I copied from. So I recopied the contents back onto my super-fast SSD. After 3 days of updates, reinstalling new tools, downloading the latest presentation, flyers and other links I maintain, I was back in business.

I had lost the last six months of work.

I haven’t lost everything: I’m only missing 6 months of filed emails, work I did for customers and those previously mentioned notes I take.

My notes are precious. I whiteboard, I detail meetings, I paste photos of drawings into those notes. (I love OneNote.) In my job, a project will come up and will be worked on for 30-90 days, completed and I return 6-12 months later, pulling up those old notes to refresh my memory of what we have done, what we discussed, next projects, next phases, etc. All that talk in 6 months was gone. I had been very busy and very involved with work. (Those 60 hour weeks.)

My reflection

So now my computer has gaps, just like my own memory. I have this 6 month blind spot in my notes, my emails, my customer folders with files and data. It’s just gone – like past conversations in my own memory, my own head. It’s become a reflection of me.

It’s strangely surreal to have these gaps in my head, and on my computer. I have made peace at my altar, made offerings and apologies in case I have forgotten something there, neglected something, how can I remember?

The whole thing is a lesson in svaha (it is no longer mine). I let it go, this happens. That it’s my job is a lesson in neglecting certain practical matters in my life, as a priest, at my altar, doing backups. I need to pay more attention to these little details. I need to make sure I’m taking care of what I need to.

I also need to let it go.

Note: I didn’t lose any critical data in the end. Critical notes and client data were retrieved. I miss the downloaded iPhone photos, but I’ll make more.

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