Disaster Averted

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Success!

If you follow the blog, you know that I recently went through a terrible computer crash and lost some writing that was really important to me.

I tried everything I could to bring my computer back online and boot it, but nothing worked. I finally bought a hard drive enclosure, removed the hard drive from my Mac, plugged it into the enclosure and connected it to a working Mac.

The blue light came on!

As I plugged the hard drive into the USB port of the other Mac, it showed up as a disk drive. I was able to get almost everything I needed off of the laptop’s drive and onto an 8GB USB key.

I was shocked that I actually had that much to transfer over. I left behind some videos, some voiceover files and other files that if deleted, won’t mean the end of the world.

As soon as everything transferred, I made more back-ups of the files on the USB key by sending them to myself in Gmail.

Then, I finished rehearsal.

After rehearsal I took a run. I’ve been trying to get back into a more healthy routine and when I’ve been running lately it’s been more like run/walking/hobbling. But after getting all the data I needed, I ran for the full half-hour without stopping to walk. It felt good.

The moon was huge in the evening sky over Delaware. I tried to take a photo, but a camera lens doesn’t quite see the way our eyes do, so this photo doesn’t do it justice.

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What a day. I rehearsed a play, saved my data, went for a run, helped my oldest son with an issue he’s dealing with, and spoke with my wife and youngest son on Facetime. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to have my whole family here with me.

Now I can happily get back to work on my one person show about my dismal days on a big Broadway tour. It’s tough work because it brings up a lot of unpleasantness, but it’s important because I want to tell this story all at one time instead of in bits and pieces as I have over the past few years.

When it’s up and running in New York, I’ll let everyone know. I will probably workshop it a few times upstate before producing it fully in the city.

Thank you for all the kind words from everyone who reached out! Make sure you are backing up your stories! They truly are the wildest things.

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The Worst Thing That Could Possibly Happen

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Well, maybe not the worst thing. There are a LOT of terrible things happening in the world right now. The stock market is fluctuating like crazy, monster storms are flooding cities, people are shooting other people instead of talking to them. Those things are the actual worst things that could possibly happen.

But for a writer who’s been off his game for a while and then just starting to get right back on his game, the worst thing that could happen, happened. Right in the middle of some really important writing that I did not back up, my computer just gave up the ghost and went blank on me.

I had just gotten several great pages done on a new solo show I’m working on. This one is big. It’s life changing. I’ve avoided writing this one for years, that’s how close and important it is to me. It’s about my dismal days working on a big Broadway tour and how I almost didn’t survive those days.

I decided to finally sit down and really start working on it because I’m in a hotel room in Newark, Delaware, away from the family to do an acting gig. It’s the perfect set up to get some writing done. I had a few days off because my scenes are all in the second and third acts of the Feydeau farce we’re doing.

I could feel a good idea coming on. So, I paced around the room. I drank some water. I took some notes on a legal pad. LOTS of notes. Suddenly I knew where I would start and what I would call the piece. I opened up OMM Writer (a great writing app) and zen-ed out while I bled words. I got just about as far as I could before I had to go to rehearsal. I was elated and exhausted and excited, all at the same time. (That’s a lot of “e” words, but I guess emotions are somehow tied to the letter “e”.)

I saved my file and closed everything down and went to rehearsal. I thought about backing the file up, but then thought, “What could happen between now and later?”

When I came back to the hotel, I talked with my family for a while on Skype and then decided to watch “Fear the Walking Dead” on AMC.com. I thought of it as “research” because some of my years on the big Broadway tour were like being one of the walking dead.

Everything on the computer was running a bit slowly. The ads were loading strangely, the computer kept freezing up. I thought it was just the crappy internet that the hotel lets you use for free. Then, suddenly, like a zombie jumping out from behind a door, the computer froze up, the screen turned into a bunch of horizontal lines that wavered and shook and then the screen went black.

Uh-oh.

I tried rebooting the computer. It’s an old MacBook Pro. The Apple symbol came up. Good.

Then the screen went black for the video test.
Fine.

Then…the dreaded gray screen hang.

I did some searching on my phone about how I might be able to fix it. I tried rebooting it to safe mode. The computer belongs to a college, so there is a firmware password. I couldn’t boot it. I could just take it back to IT at the college, but it’s over three hours from where I am now. Plus, they might have to wipe everything. I wanted to try to save it first.

So, I tried buying a Thunderbolt cable and booting it as a target disk to another Mac. Nothing.

I tried removing the hard drive and getting an e-SATA cable and hard drive enclosure and plugging it into a PC. Well, the pretty blue drive light comes on, but at the hotel’s PC I have no access to it’s hard drive so I was still out of luck.

I left the hotel and carried the darn thing around campus for several hours looking for a computer. No luck. School is not back in session yet, so no Mac labs are open. I tried the PC lab. No luck there. The library was closed. The classrooms are all antiquated and only have plugs for PC laptops. The bookstore was closed.  I was hoping it was open so I could just walk up to their Mac sales display and plug this thing in. I really want those opening pages.

But it’s not just the pages for the solo show. I was also going to publish my second children’s book this week. Now I can’t. The formatted book is on the Mac.

I was making great progress on another play I’m writing. I can’t work on that either.

I was several pages into a short film we want to shoot this winter. That’s in there, too.

All in all, I’ve put in about 25 hours trying to get this information back. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use the e-SATA cable with a Mac tomorrow and I’ll report back that I was able to recover the information.

If not, I guess I’ll have to try to reproduce what I originally wrote. I know I can get close to it, maybe even make it better. But there’s something about that feeling you get when you just know something is working and it’s good. That kind of experience is hard to repeat.

I guess the moral of the story is ALWAYS back up your writing. Every time. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me, a poor lost soul wandering a huge university campus in search of a Mac computer, hoping that you can either retrieve those pages or remember them just as they were.