Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Turned my library levy ballot in here this morning. Phoenix City Hall now occupies the building which was the Phoenix Library a year ago. Our new library is being built on the lot where City Hall used to be. But will it ever open its doors?

Today is D-day for the library levy. Ballots must be turned in by 8PM which is less than three hours out now. To pass there needs to be better than a fifty percent turnout of registered voters plus better than fifty percent in favor. Word on the local news at five is that turnout is running at 48%. Close enough for hope but not close enough to relax. No word yet on how the votes are falling. Opinion on both sides has been strong and outspoken.

Nobody needs to guess where I stand.

I walked my ballot over to City Hall in Phoenix this morning, dropping it in the box just before nine. To do this, I had to stay up way past my usual bed time of late. I had hoped not to be leaving it to the last minute like that. The ballot arrived in the mail the same week the malware attack hit my laptop. Possibly the same day thought at the moment I can't quite remember whether the ballot arrived on Saturday the 28th or Monday the 30th. I will never forget the moment my laptop started blitzing the screen with browser windows and pop ups faster than I could close them. Just before 3AM that Saturday morning.

For over a week, I feared that I was about to loose access to the Internet and my files at the same time I was loosing access to the library. Panic is not a strong enough word to describe my state of mind. Over the next twelve days my laptop got at least as much attention as a newborn in intensive care. After a week of playing Whack-A-Mole with the malware, my husband was at his wits end and told me to start preparing for a probable reformatting of the hard drive. By which he meant for me to collect my personal files for back up. Since some of my files needing back up were still on the PC, I started working with them during the times the laptop was busy with scans or restarts.

One of the biggest backup projects on the PC was my email corrospondence trapped in the AOL software. I had discovered only after I had been using my laptop for three months that transferring AOL mail files from one computer to another would overwrite the files on the destination computer. I would have had to choose between the two years preceding my Dad's death while I was in Phoenix communicating with my parents and siblings three to five-hundred miles north of here, or the three months following his death while I was in Longview, Washington communicating with my husband here in Phoenix. Then there was the email related to web site admin on both. No way to choose. Thus the only way to salvage the PC email files was to copy and paste them into text files or save them as HTML pages.

I knew that project was going to be huge which was why I procrastinated on it so long and because it was hooked in my mind with the whole issue of backing up my files it tended make me avoid thinking about it. But this latest scare has really got my attention. I hope I never need another lesson in the importance of backing up your important files regularly. A lot of the stress of the last two weeks would have been avoided if a few keystrokes could have backed up my files.

I had been estimating that the PC email retrieval was going to take two or three night work sessions. Access to the PC for me is limited to between 9PM and 5AM. Or I can get back on it after my husband leaves for work on the days his mother also works--Tuesday through Friday. Which is what I did this morning because I had to stay up until I could walk the ballot over anyway. I had come very close to completing the project before five but had a couple dozen more emails to sift through and some double checking with my photo folders that I had already copied the pictures over to them. That took me a bit less than an hour after my husband left for work this morning. I estimate that I put in close to thirty hours on that project alone over the last ten days.

The email was the last of the files on the PC needing to be accounted for and organized for backing up. Now I can focus on the files on the laptop. And the good news is that the laptop is cooperating at the moment. The aberrant behavior has been nearly zip since Friday evening. There is hope we will not have to reformat the disk after all. But I refuse to loose the momentum or the motivation on the file back up project. I am still hoping to hit the target my husband set a week ago which was this coming Saturday. The day he was going to take the hard drive back to its out-of-the-box state.

But for the next several hours my focus is going to be on following the election returns on the local news. The fate of ballot measure 15-75 holds my fate in its hands. Life will go on without library access but wouldn't be a life I would recognize or feel at home in.

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