Boo Hoo Me
July 29, 2013
I haven't had this problem in years. I mean, I have been computing long enough to remember having this problem in 1975(!) when I worked for UPI. All our files were kept on a single Sperry mainframe in New York City (as opposed to AP which has one DEC minicomputer in each regional bureau and one in New York for national and international). We had 9600 baud modem connections(!), but the terminals, and the lines, and the host all crapped out on a regular basis. Not to mention the fact that if you spilled coffee with sugar (not black coffee, mind you, but coffee with sugar) on the keyboard, the terminal would freeze. We kept a hair dryer in the newsroom to dry out the keyboards, but shouts and screams were a regular occurrence as minutes, if not hours, of work (sometimes notes that were irreplaceable) was lost. So, we got in the habit of saving after every paragraph. Which, of course, dragged the system down with excess traffic. Gradually, over the years, things have gotten better, through my Exidy Sorcerer, my CP/M computers and my Windows computers. I have still had to go chasing a deleted file now and then over the years, but it's now an annual rather than a monthly task.
So I was lulled into a sense of complacency that will take a while to shake, at least on the portable I am working on now. For example, I have saved this file, several times, under several different names, in the 10 minutes since I started working on it, and will check to make sure the copies are good before I attempt to quickly recreate the carefully wrought and crafted story of my train ride along the Oregon Coast.
Whenever this happens to me or someone I know, I remember the story of Garrison Keilloirs Great American Novel, left by accident in the bathroom at the Portland, Oregon Union Station and never recovered. I can tell from the way he writes about it that he is quite sure he can never recreate it.
I will admit, it does make me feel 23 again, to be starting from scratch to recreate a work I felt I had finished. So, as I said in the title, boo-hoo me. If the next item sounds like it was written by someone who was trying to dredge up the memory of the same thing, already written once, you now know why.