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Yesterday, a huge bolt of lightning came down from the 'heavens' and struck my apartment. And even though I have an 'uninterruptible power supply', the operation of my computer was certainly interrupted. The monitor stayed on, the computer itself didn't.

The power was gone for four hours.

When it came back, I found out why the computer had gone off. It's fried. It's done for. I've tried plenty of things, but it's just finished.

R.I.P. Aberdeen Inverness Celeron 500
April 2000 - July 2002

I'm pretty sure the motherboard has had it. It could be the CPU, or it could be both. Or, it could be both of those AND the video card, modem, sound card, RAM, and hard drive. I don't know.

I'm not real happy with my UPS. I trusted that thing, and even though I wasn't really aware of the severity of the rain (I was listening to newly-encoded MP3s on my headphones at the time and not paying attention to the weather situation), I probably would have left it on even if I had known it was storming. I'm also not real happy that I decided just the other day to throw away the motherboard I grabbed out of the computer I found.

Folks, when it starts raining, and thundering, UNPLUG YOUR COMPUTERS. I had what was ostensibly a good surge protector on there, and in most cases it would have protected the machine just fine, but direct strikes do happen.

So now I'm back in this dingy, crowded, stuffy, hot computer lab. Shades of last Summer. The only thing different between now and 365 days ago is I don't have a sunburn now and I'm in Summer school. I have the same bicycle, the same lack of motorized transportation, the same no money no job situation, and essentially the same lack of computer. Last year, I had just finished reading Otherland Book Four at this time and I had just bought my new bike (and gotten a blistering sunburn on it) and the new Jones Overnight program was just starting. The computer was working, but I had no dial-up and no DSL. Now, I'm a year older, I've got 35 more credits under me, and I'm secure in my school loans (my next two installments just came in the other day, whereas last year at this time I didn't know if I'd have enough money to eat, let alone continue in school). I'm a whole year closer to graduating and bringing home the Bachelor's degree.

And if you go back and look at THIS DIARY POST, which it looks like I wrote on May 29th, 2001, some thirteen and a half months ago, you can see that I've turned some things around. I changed my major, first to BCIS (from Political Science), and then to Business itself. I took a bunch of classes with a very definite direction and scored well in them. I acquired school loans which will continue to pay for me to live and attend school through my final class (and even beyond if I attend Grad School). I made it through a year without a car or motorcycle and without much of anything in the way of entertainment expenses or purchases.

But there's an inevitable 'but' coming. But a whole year of my life has gone by and in some ways I'm just where I was before it went by. Passed me by.

Argghh. It's not just the computer blinking out of existence in one second. It's feeling absolutely powerless to 'fix' things. The same feeling I would get when one of my four cars (if you include the shitty Ford Escort) would decide to call a timeout. Or when the wires were sticking out of the tires. No money. No wealth. No peace of mind. I'm drifting, like Paul Jonas was for much of Otherland, before he discovered what he needed to do to take control and be an active FORCE in his life. I'm still in Book One, blindsided and bewildered and about as strong and self-determining as a dead leaf.

There is reason to be optimistic about the future, to be sure, but for right now I'm stuck in the present, and it's not so good.

I won't know for a while whether I lost everything on my hard drive. There's no point in worrying about it now, so I'll work under the assumption that everything's intact on the hard drive and worry about the disappointment if it's not when I get to that point. Question is, when will I get to that point? Could be a long time without a computer.

No television, no internet, no video games, no transportation. I guess I will have to read more books and do more exercise. :)

Diary posts will probably be less frequent. My readership is very small at this point anyway, although I'm occassionally surprised to discover who's reading. Maybe I'll have more time to think--although that's kind of hard to believe, considering the amount of time I had to think before.

Hmm, I see I can order a 'barebones system' from Aberdeen: Athlon 1.33 GHz, 256 MB 133 MHz RAM, a black case with 300 watt power supply, and a good motherboard (although with onboard audio) for $200 and no shipping or tax. Hmmm... That would likely take care of all the broken bits and give me a huge speed increase (not enough to play Unreal Tournament 2k3, which, by the way, has been delayed till October, but a nice one anyway). I could plug in my hard drive, my audio, my Voodoo 5, my modem, my mouse and keyboard, and my monitor, all of which I'm sincerely hoping still work. RAM, CPU, and Mobo are the things...