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From the Publisher—
It's been five months since I sent out the last Pearlsong Letter. Five months and two computer hard drives. Well, three hard drives, if you count the one I'm composing this newsletter on right now.
Shortly after I sent out the March 2006 issue of the Letter, the Gateway laptop that serves as the Pearlsong office computer froze. After turning it off in order to reboot it, I was unable to boot it back up at all. I dropped the computer off at my local repair service (MouseCalls) the next morning.
"Bad hard drive," they said.
"But the computer is only 8 months old!" I protested.
"Doesn't matter," they said. Some hard drives go bad quickly, some keep chugging away without problems for years.
Since the computer was still under warranty, they ordered a replacement hard drive from Gateway. When it arrived and they installed it, it wouldn't work, either.
They ordered a replacement for the replacement. When it arrived (almost two weeks after the hard drive had failed on a Sunday evening), the replacement replacement wouldn't work, either.
"Must be the motherboard," they said. "You'll have to send it back to Gateway."
So I contacted Gateway and paid them $44 for a special insured box in which to ship the computer back. Meanwhile, after a week without an office computer, I had installed our various accounting and publishing programs on an older backup desk computer and hooked the external hard drive (onto which I'd backed up files, fortunately) to begin reconstructing files and data. The last backup had been three weeks earlier, but by emailing back and forth with Ellen and Mary, the authors of the two books I was in the midst of publishing (see righthand column), I was able to get back up to speed in a few weeks. (Of course, when the Gateway was shipped back to me with a new hard drive, I had to install all the programs again. Sigh.)
I'll admit that my nerves were frayed by this process. I'd had to buy the Gateway the previous summer, when I was working on Taking Up Space and Abigail's Revenge and the Toshiba Satellite that was then our office computer started shutting down inexplicably. A visit to MouseCalls had provided no enlightenment. They couldn't figure out what was wrong, much less how to fix it.
"Things happen to my computers that never happen to anyone else's," I sighed to MouseCalls' owner, Alan, who had seen me through several computers.
Alan paused, then laughed. "You know, Peggy, anyone else, I'd say that was ridiculous....but you're right."
So last summer I had purchased a blazingly powerful Gateway laptop to replace the Satellite...and right away had trouble getting the printer to reliably print from the Gateway, or my then-new thumb drive storage device to be recognized by the new computer at all. I called Gateway tech support. Within a few minutes of being connected to one of their support staff and explaining the problems, the guy I was talking to suddenly stopped.
"Wow, this is weird," he said. "All the power in the building just went off, and every computer in the place is down. It's going to take a while for them to get everything working again. You'll have to call back later."
Back to March of this year. In the first few days of waiting for computer repairs―before I wised up and realized I'd better start using the backup computer―I decided to use the "down" time to renew my driver's license. I'd utilized all the automatic renewals in previous years, so this time had to go to the drivers' license office in person to get a new photo taken, etc.
I walked in, filled out the requisite forms, and sat down to wait my turn. Shortly after that, a clerk announced to the waiting throng that the bureau's computer system had gone down across the entire state. It would be a couple of hours before it would be up again.
Fortunately, I'd brought a book to read. By
this time I was becoming sanguine about computer problems. Or perhaps a
Flash forward to Sunday, July 3. Beyond Measure has been submitted to the printer and we've sent out advance reading copies to various review and media sources. We've completed most of the corrections to The Singing of Swans galleys, and are finalizing the cover design. I sit down at my home office desk with a tall glass of iced tea, and am about to boot up the Gateway when I remember I wanted to return a phone call from my mother.
I punched her number into the cordless phone, started chatting, and walked outside to water some plants while we talked....leaving gray tiger-stripped tabby cat Zachary sleeping on the office desk.
When I came back into the office a few
minutes later, there was an empty glass on the carpet underneath the desk
and a puddle of iced tea underneath the Gateway laptop. I don't remember
what Zachary was doing, because my immediate focus was on the computer.
Did I mention that I still owed about $1,300 on this piece of technology now useful only as a doorstop? Thank goodness for insurance ...although the few hours until I realized our homeowners' insurance would cover the accident were pretty hairy.
So now I'm typing on a Sony VAIO. My homeowner's insurance company agreed to replace the Gateway with a comparable VAIO, which research indicated are among the most reliable laptops. I'll take responsibility for the accidental liquid spill (Zachary was just being a cat), but I held Gateway responsible for selling a defective product that had failed 8 months out of the box...and making me pay to ship it back to them. (I could have shipped it in my own box, but I was concerned that if I didn't buy their special package they might attribute any problems to shipping damage.) No interest in repeating that.
I'm sparing you details of the other computer-related problems we've been having at Pearlsong Press―our email accounts not working or sending out weirdly formatted email, our webhost suddenly instituting email limitations that prevent us from sending out announcements and newsletters through our usual email program.
Let's just say I have come to a tentative conclusion. Some people have trouble wearing wristwatches―their watches keep stopping even when the batteries are fresh or they wind them regularly. Apparently something about their bodies' electrical system interferes with the watches' functioning. I think I have the computer equivalent to this phenomenon.
I don't know what it is, but in MY world, in my biofields, weird things can happen with computers. Since computers are intrinsic to the work I'm doing with and for Pearlsong Press, that's been really stressful....until I came to another conclusion.
A large part of my stress was due to my expecting things to go well, and becoming frustrated and angry when they didn't. I finally realized that it was as unreasonable for me to expect everything to go smoothly computer-wise (especially with my computer voodoo) as it was to expect Zachary not to act like a cat.
Leave a brimming glass of iced tea next to a cat, and he or she is probably going to sample it. Work with computers, and sometimes equipment is going to fail and accidents happen. Just expect that, and plan for it―the most reliable equipment you can find, backup regularly to an external hard drive, etc.
In short, I needed to quit expecting everything to go smoothly and prepare for bumps in the road. (And take alternate routes when appropriate―do you think I leave uncovered drinking glasses unattended on my desk anymore? I also bought a pedestal to set the new laptop on, in case there's ever another spill.) When the inevitable bumps occur, I will find them less jarring and easier to recover from if I'm not shocked and angry that they occurred in the first place.
Hmmmm―one could even apply this approach to life.
Peggy Elam, Ph.D.
P.S. Do you love books, reading and/or
by Ellen Frankel
Mary Saracino is an award-winning writer and an independent scholar of the Sacred Feminine.
She teaches workshops on writing and the Sacred Feminine in the Denver metro area, and will present "Ancient Images / Modern Icons: The Divine Feminine and the Black Madonna", an interactive pictorial workshop, at the Global Education Center in Nashville, TN Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006.
Buy the PDF eBook edition for $9.50 — 50% off the price of the original trade paperback.
The eBook edition contains color versions of Anne's illustrations PLUS a bonus color scrapbook section of photos from Anne's journey.
The Write Book & Gift
Shop Honeoye Falls, NY
Tattered Cover Book Store
Pat Ballard, the Queen of Rubenesque Romances, will be regularly guesting on the Health At Every Size radio show with Dr. Peggy Elam on WRFN Radio Free Nashville ...usually on the fourth Monday of every month. In September, however, she will guest this Monday (Sept. 11).
The show airs over lpfm 98.9 from Pasquo, TN (a suburb of Nashville) on Monday mornings 10-11 a.m. Central Standard Time. The broadcast is streamed live over the internet at www.radiofreenashville.org.
You can also listen to the live show over any telephone through the Mobile Broadcasting Network―go to the Radio Free Nashville website or the Health At Every Size blog for simple instructions. (There's no charge for listening via your phone, other than any long distance or cell phone charges that might apply.)
Click on the links below to read excerpts from Pat Ballard's books featuring Big Beautiful Heroines:
Read excerpts from
other Pearlsong Press books
To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites.
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