Vacation, life, hard drives, and basements

So two weeks ago I had scheduled to take a week of vacation from work. My parents’ 40th wedding anniversary was coming up, and my sister and I had planned an open house for almost everyone they knew to come and party that first weekend of the vacation. My parents were then going to take my kids with them up north to spend a week at their cottage on Secord Lake. Swimming, fishing, pontoon rides on the river, all that fun stuff. While we were kidless, my wife and I were going to work on cleaning out all the junk in our basement in preparation for another round at our seemingly never-ending quest to get it remodeled.

Well, the night of the party (but after the guests were long gone), my mom gets a phone call that her father had passed away. We’d kind of been expecting it, as he’d been in and out of the hospital a lot recently, and had been in the hospital and deteriorating for the previous week. So the kids came home with us instead of going up north, while my parents went down to Ohio to be with my grandmother the following day. I made arrangements with my boss to extend my vacation by a few days to buy more time for the original basement cleanup plan.

While at home, the computer in the family room is acting weird (won’t launch one of the games, hanging at weird times, etc). It just felt wrong to me, and stupid me, I rebooted the computer. I was then greeted with the little icon that indicates that it can’t find a disk to boot from. Oops. I managed to mount the disk over Firewire from another computer though, and started rsyncing the contents of the user home directories to the fileserver in the basement. It did not manage to grab everything though, and we lost a lot (the kids bookmarks, my wife’s email, 4 or 5 months’ worth of digital photos). I know, backups. I’d always intended to, and never got around to setting it up. Fortunately for the photos most of them got uploaded to Shutterfly, so that wasn’t a total loss. As of this writing, I now have an automated daily rsync of the /Users directory to the big fileserver downstairs.

But there wasn’t much time to deal with the computer, that would have to come later. Tuesday meant heading to Ohio ourselves for my grandfather’s funeral. The funeral and the family luncheon were quite nice. There were a lot of family there that I hadn’t seen in many years. After the funeral, my parents took the kids, finally off to their trip up north. My grandmother also went with them. Spending a week with the great grandkids on a river/lake system with lots of fun stuff to do… what a great stress relief for her after all that happened the previous several weeks.

As the kids headed up north, Lori and I headed back home, in theory to finally work on cleaning out the basement. But now we’re back to that eMac with the dead hard drive. I made a quick trip to the local Circuit City (I don’t like them either, but they had the best locally-available deal and I was in a hurry) and picked up a new hard drive, 4 times the size of the one it was replacing. Now came the fun part of actually replacing it. The eMac (like many modern Apple products) was not designed with hard drive replacement in mind. Just getting to the hard drive required an almost complete disassembly of the eMac, complete with discharging the CRT to make it safe to work with so I wouldn’t get a 10,000 volt shock touching the wrong part, since the hard drive is right underneath the bare CRT tube. The entire process of disassembly and reassembly took most of a day, between research to make sure I could do it without killing myself and quick trips to the store for required tools I was missing. I then formatted the new drive and spent the next day or two installing Mac OS X 10.4.6 (that’s the install DVD I had), upgrading it to 10.4.10, and reinstalling all the software we use.

Now we’re up through Monday of that vacation that now ends Wednesday. Suffice it to say that I did get a little bit of cleaning done in the basement. But it was nowhere near the goal, and nowhere near being able to allow contractors to touch the place, so I think I’ll be finding myself requesting additional vacation time from work in the near future as soon as I get caught up there again.

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