Who Do You Call?

Matt Steinhoff FiremanWho do you call when your computer crashes and burns a couple of days before you are supposed to take off on a road trip? Kids Matt and Adam, of course.

After I had tried everything I knew how to do, I initiated Plan C, which was to haul the machine up to Kid Matt because, as Kid Adam, dodging the bullet, pointed out, Matt’s the guy who built it and is most familiar with all the pieces/parts.

Two flaky drives

Matt called this afternoon to say that my operating system RAID must have had TWO bad drives because he was seeing corruption on what I thought was the good drive. He replaced both of them and restored them from backup. (Hint: when the system reports that you have 17 seconds left to completion, go out to dinner. It lies.)

Hit some Kryptonite

Matt Steinhoff Halloween 1979About an hour later, he called to say that he had run into a big snag: Acronis, the backup program I use, won’t write a file to a partition bigger than two terabytes. My data RAID was made up of four two-terabyte drives. Acronis wouldn’t even see them.

I had never run into this problem because I had never tried to restore everything at once. The few times I needed to go to a backup, it was just one or two files.

Plan D was for him to copy just a couple of the critical directories, then I would restore about 90 percent of the remaining data from a portable external drive I keep around “just in case.”

Backblaze is Plan E

Buy From Amazon.com to Support Ken SteinhoffJust this week I got an email from Backblaze, my cloud backup provider, saying that they would now be able to write your backups to up to a 4 terabyte external drive and send it to you overnight. (What they DIDN’T say was that for large quantities of data, it might take up to five days for them to copy it all TO the drive. Still, downloading it, even with a fast internet connection, would have taken about three months.)

So, I sent them my credit card number for a 4-terabyte drive containing 599,771 files and 3.296,468 terabytes of data. It cost $189.

That’s the reason you need to click on that Amazon link at the top of the page (or here) to keep me from holding up a cardboard “Will Work For Hard Drives” sign at the intersection. Amazon purchases you make through that link give me about a 6% kickback without costing you anything extra.

Here are two earlier stories I did about Backblaze.

 Plan F

Adam GeekIf Plans A, B, C, D and E didn’t work, I was ready to call in Kid Adam. He LOOKS like he could solve a computer problem if the firefighter and Superman struck out.


Halloween Comes to Me

Halloween constumes 10-26-2013When you turn into your motel and see something like this in the parking space next to you, you have to wonder if maybe you made a bad turn somewhere.

The young folks (I hope they are folks, since they are in rooms around and above me) were headed to the 39th annual Halloween party sponsored by the city of Athens and Ohio University.

I had just come from covering my first OU football game since since 1970. It wasn’t the 57 degrees and sunny promised. It was in the 40s, cloudy and with a brisk wind. I warned the gal in the blue costume that her skin would match her clothes if she stayed out very long.

It’s a wild party

Halloween constumes 10-26-2013The Halloween (and many other block party events) have the reputation for degenerating into public displays of drunken debauchery, sometimes ending up with cars being overturned and fires being started.

I was looking forward to covering my first Athens riot since the university closed in 1970 two weeks after four students were gunned down by the National Guard at Kent State.

The only problem was that it was cold, I was tired and parking spaces were non-existent.

So, when one of the kids asked if I would take their photo with one of their cameras. I honored the request, then decided I’d rather have Halloween come to me instead of me chasing it.

I’m officially old.


Matt’s Seattle Trip

I was going to run this photo of Son Matt dressed up as Superman for Halloween in 1979 along with a link to a Halloween story I did last year. While looking for something else, though, I ran across some writing my kids did. Matt wrote a thank-you note to his Grandmother for a metal detector. Son Adam sent her a note thanking her for all things he and his buddy Buzzy did on a summer vacation in Cape and Kentucky Lake.

The coolest thing was a story Matt wrote about his trip to Seattle. He got bumped on a flight, which earned him a voucher good to fly anywhere in the continental U.S. He put off using it until the last minute, then decided he wanted to get as far from West Palm Beach as he could. Seattle, Washington, filled the bill. He REALLY wanted to drive to the top of Mt. St. Helen’s Mountain, but he had a problem: he was way under 21, so none of the big car rental companies would talk to him. I suggested trying to rent a U-Haul truck. Here’s his account of his driving adventures.

“If you hear a whirring sound…”

I was able to get a car so the U-Haul plans were for naught. In place of the truck, I was able to rent a car just a bit larger – a white 1983 Mercury Zephyr. The thing had over a hundred thousand miles.

The guy who rented it to me (he owned and operated “AAAAAA 19.95 Rent-A-Car” told me that the thing ran great. Of all the cars on the lot, it was his personal favorite and I shouldn’t have any problems, but “if you ever hear a whirring sound while on the highway, stop immediately – right away – and …Can you pop the hood there, son? Yeah, come around the front… can you see that thing down there? Yeah, just give it a few raps with the tire iron – don’t worry, you can’t ever hit it too hard – and the car will be fine. It doesn’t happen often, but I thought you should know. Just be sure and stop as soon as you hear it.”

I didn’t ask.

 Saw all the Seattle sights

With that hurdle cleared, I toured Seattle and the surrounding area. Beautiful is the only way I can describe it. Of course, I did all the tourist stuff — the space needle, the Seattle Zoo, Pike’s Market, Mt. Rainier, etc., but the best part was just driving around on the back roads, looking for cool stuff to see.

My longest trek was up Mt. Rainier. I had gotten up at the crack of dawn and the hill was a three-hour drive. I did it in just under 8-1/2. As Davy Crockett might have said, “I was never lost, but I was once bewildered for a few hours.”

Snow tires required

I was the last car up the road before the park rangers closed it down for the evening. It had just stopped lightly snowing. A quarter of the way up, I passed a sign that said, “Snow tires required beyond this point.” Not stopping to check, I crossed my fingers and hoped the car had snow tires on it. Halfway up the hill, the sign said, “Four-wheel drive vehicles strongly recommended for further travel.‘ Not stopping to check, I crossed my fingers and hoped the car had four-wheel drive.

Not much further up the road, I passed a sign that said “Chains required past this point.” The few locals with me were pulling over and installing chains. Not stopping to check, I crossed my fingers and hoped the car had chains on it.

Well, as someone who has never driven in snow or ice before, the rest of my quest was an uphill battle. I was sliding all over the place. Fortunately, by this time, I was just about the only person on the narrow, two-lane road that led up the mountain. I survived and made it to the top and am glad no one saw me slide into the two or three snow banks that jumped out in front of my 1983 Mercury Zephyr.

 The Rambo of rangers

At the top, I headed to the observation deck. I climbed three flights of stairs before I ran into the Rambo of rangers who said that the observation deck was closed.

“What?!? Sir, I’ve just driven all day, after flying in from West Palm Beach, Florida, to see this wonderful Washington mountain. I’m alone in a state over 4,000 miles from home. This is nature at its best and I’ve come too far to miss it,” I said with Tammy Faye-sized tears running down my face (and then freezing on my cheeks).

Nobody around for 25 miles

“If made an exception for you, I’d have to let everyone up.”

I took a careful look around, surveying what I could through the fogged-up window and the approaching sunset. “What do you mean everyone? There is, quite literally, not a single other living human within 25 miles.”

With an evil, this-man-has-probably-been-trained-in-the-use-of-chainsaws-look, he said, simply, “I know.”

I made it down the mountain in record time.

 Matt’s first report card

His teacher at Miss Lora’s Day School had him pegged early. Here are some comments on his first report card: “We have enjoyed talking with Matt. He always has something special to say…Storytime is a favorite. Matt has been a good listener. He has learned to put the most interesting endings on stories.”