Operational System Not Found

It started with a doorbell. At 8:30 am. Sparky was gone and I wasn’t expecting my liebhaber until much later. Like after I put on a bra or used a toothbrush.

It was my neighbor/architect/guy who knows how to fix everything broken. He was accompanied by a Biologist Dan, come to check my timbers.

Aside to clarify: Right before I left for SF in Dec, we discovered water damage in our bathroom due to an unfortunate lack of experience in drain cleaning by our upstairs neighbor’s girlfriend or daughter resulting in our ceiling (his sub-flooring) becoming the receptacle for vast amounts of water.

After many weeks of drying out, I came back to find a big hole in my bathroom ceiling with a beautiful garden of mold growing happily in the warm recesses of 400 year old timber. After asking if the blooming black stuff was mold I was told no, that citric acid was sprayed to prevent mold. I was however looking directly at it, making eye contact if you will and was thus not convinced that this wasn’t mold. In vague German terms, the citric acid explanation means “I don’t really know, but I’m going to say no until I get a biologist here and I’m not going to tell you I’m doing this until I show up at you house at 8am unannounced.”

Up on the big ladder, Bio Dan sighed, Ja-ed and nodded in a resigned way that my rudimentary German could not differentiate typical run of the mill German melancholy from “It looks like poisonous mold and this is going to cost a lot and cause a lot of trouble and we should just ignore it for a few years or until they die of mycotoxin poisoning.

They were talking really fast and I just couldn’t keep up. Bio Dan took a couple of samples and sighed, shook his head and looked really grim. As an expat with the language skills of a three year old, I depend heavily on body language. Bio Dan’s bod was communicating a long mold battle and construction work. The actual English language communicated they’d get back to me. Then they left leaving me with my over active imagination and absolutely no access to the Internet.

Why no Internet? Because the night before I came home to find my laptop communicating with me from the dead. It said: “Operational System Not Found”

Beautiful words to be sure. Right up there with “Darling, I know we’ve been married for three years, but I’ve discovered I’m gay.”

After Bio Dan left, I went back to the carcass of my laptop to see if I could start it up. Because I am a complete moron, I had not backed ANYTHING up for like, I don’t know, years.

Letters, pictures, writings. Losing my hard drive would be like having a fire. I’d lose the last three years. Then there’s the crap that Sparky has on here. Taxes, work stuff, e-mail. Our calendar and address book and all the everyday stuff that you don’t know you need until you can’t access it. Oh and then there was that little folder cleverly named a clever little name that screamed “Open me!” that might have contained photo items that I would not particularly like to share with the computer repair guys or anyone on the face of the earth.

I can’t begin to describe the terror I felt, hoping that if the machine cooled down, I could get in and make some backup copies and clean up that which needed to be cleaned. Really, this was more than not wearing clean underwear and getting in a car accident. This was like wearing nothing but S&M gear and getting in a car accident and having your Sicilian father be the first person on the scene.

My cell phone chose to ring at that moment. I picked it up and my fingers, finding no purpose without their beloved keyboard, opened before I had it half way to my ear, thus dropping my beautiful spy phone directly into my half-empty cup of coffee.

Cell phones don’t like coffee as much as I do. Really. No matter how much they beg, do not give in. The spy phone works again, but it took a few days to dry out. I still have trouble with the hearing part. I don’t look nearly as cool and spy like saying things like “WHAT? I can’t hear you? Can you repeat that bit of about the top secret spy stuff?”

This phone problem became a bigger problem when I brought my laptop into the computer guys. With Sparky in whatever part of Germany he was in, namely not in Boweltown, I needed him to communicate to the man behind the counter, herby known as The Useless Guy, exactly how much of an emergency it was that this particular laptop was down and that we needed it back ASAP. ASAP does not mean 10 days. I mean, what would Jack Bauer do if if Chloe couldn’t get access for 10 days? And I am just as important to national security as Jack Bauer (Thank you, Hamish, for passing on the 24 addiction. It’s like crack, man.)

Again, my language skills must have hampered my communication because this guy could not stop smiling. You know that smile of incomprehension, the one that indicates way too long of a stay in the birth canal. And this was way before he had seen those pictures.

Using the spy phone to call Sparky yielded nothing. Coffee soaked chip or what I don’t know. My speed dial connected me over and over again to a man totally NOT Sparky.

All I have to say is that it is a really good thing it was a man the phone connected to because with the way my day was going, had it been a woman, I might not have been very understanding. I might have jumped to conclusions because jumping to conclusions is my favorite form of exercise, especially when everything seems to be going wrong. And I had already been to the gym, so I was warmed up and limber enough to jump far and wide.

The day just got worse from there. The destruction part ended around 8 pm with the dropping of a brand-new-never-been-used MAC eye shadow and having it shatter into a million powder pieces. Mim – It was Sable and I totally feel your pain. It must be a really soft color.

The week did not improve and ended with a bang. Not the fun kind. The flu kind. I was totally sick Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I thought I was better enough to go with Sparky to Munich on Monday. Truthfully, I wasn’t but I had a coffee date with Schokolade Mädchen and did not want to cancel.

She and I talked for hours, literally. She’s fabu and backed up my belief that I haven’t met a blogger I haven’t liked. But then again, I don’t usually meet up with bloggers I don’t think I’ll like. In my usual habit of not writing about my real life visits with cyber people, I’ll leave it at that.

I can only hope I didn’t pass my bug on to her because the rest of the week was a blur of fever and delusions. At one point with my fever was over 102°F, I thought I was going to die and Scrunchy was going to eat my face before Sparky got back from his business trips.

When Sparky did come home, it was to fall feverishly into bed beside me, both of us down for the count. And I mean down. I haven’t been that sick since I was hospitalized with a super cool meningitis/pneumonia combo in college.

This is where the mold comes into play. This super-bug combined all the worst bug symptoms from the stomach flu and bronchitis to strep throat and sinus infection and it did not follow the three-three-three pattern. Three days coming on, three days sick and three days getting better. Nope. It was Sudden Onset with a good seven days of sickness hell. So obviously it had to be toxic mold, right? I didn’t have more than my imagination to back up my conclusions because I still didn’t have my computer. And let me tell you, my imagination is a powerful, powerful thing. If only I could use it for good.

It wasn’t toxic mold. I got the call yesterday. Our mold is harmless.

I got my computer back, 10 days after I brought it in with the instructions that it will die again soon, but should get me through the next couple of weeks. I didn’t lose any data and have since backed up all my stuff. (All incriminating photos have been deleted, but I’m still not going back into that shop ever again.)

Sparky on the other hand, can’t stop reading What Would Tyler Durden Do long enough to back his stuff up. The only way I can even touch this machine when he’s home is to read Edna St. Vincent Millay poetry out loud until he can’t stand it anymore.

So that’s where I’ve been in a nutshell. A really big nutshell. I am spending my day returning e-mails etc… The girls’ weekend will proceed now that I know I won’t poison anyone with toxic mold.


5 thoughts on “Operational System Not Found

  1. Crickey and I thought I had been having problems! But you survived!

    I hate that heart-stopping half second that seems to last hour – the one that exists between when you drop the eyeshadow/powder/perfume bottle and when it hits, exploding upon impact. Painful.

    There’s a photo store I’m glad never to go back to after I dropped off a roll of film I had no memory of taking… with surprising contents. Just had to get doubles didn’t I?

    Welcome back to the world Jen.

  2. There’s no such thing as a dead computer… they can always, always be brought back from the brink with little to no permanent damage (something all those dorky tech guys don’t want you to know). I once saw Jim (hubby) resurrect a laptop that had been dropped after having an entire can of coke spilled on it. It was as good as new when he finished.

    Long story short, if you ever have problems again let me know… I can hook you up. I can’t, however, promise not to peek at the contents of a file marked “Open Me!”. heh

  3. 24 is like crack, so much so that I say stuff at work like “let me move to a secure location,” without thinking about it.

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