Ever have one of those days?

Yesterday… no, wait… let’s rewind to two days ago when the trouble REALLY started.

Two days ago, I was finishing up at work and had just finished installing the new Windows update on my laptop and shut down. As it usually happens, as soon as I shut down, I remembered one more thing I needed to do, so when it was completely off, I pushed the power button again to boot back up so I could call up my files and run some prints before I left for the day.

When the computer came up, it froze on the boot… not something that happens often, but it happens occasionally. Generally, I shrug, hold down the power button, let the computer turn off, wait a few seconds and reboot.

After following those steps, I noticed that Windows was taking an extraordinary long time to boot up.

I decided the best course of action would be to try to use my laptop in the condition that it was in until the weekend, back-up my data and refresh the computer back to factory standards over the weekend so that it’d be fresh for Monday.

That’s where the problems started. Now let me set the stage:

1.) Thursdays are typically my telecommute days from work, so I work from home.

2.) Thursday mornings at 7:00am, I go to a business networking meeting with local business-owners to generate local freelance work.

3.) Matthew had requested to stay home from camp one day this week so he could hang out at the house with me. We had decided that Thursday would be that day and made arrangements, accordingly.

4.) Natalie was leaving for Chicago Wednesday night for a conference, not to return until Sunday.

5.) Thursday morning at 9:00, my car was scheduled to be taken in to the dealersihp so they could replace the handbrake handle because when I got the car, it didn’t have a button cover on it. It was a relatively easy job that would take 30 minutes. In addition, they have wireless Internet in their coffee bar/waiting room, which means that I can work from there.

The stage is set.

Wednesday night, I decided to skip my networking meeting and send someone in my place, which meant I had to meet with him that night to prep him for the next morning. Before I left, I started my laptop on some diagnostics and system repair routines to try to get it to run a little smoother to get me through the next couple of days. I went to bed around 3am.

Thursday morning, I slept through my alarm and woke up at 8:30. The computer had been running diagnostics from the night before and was still running the same routine when I woke up… it had now been trying to repair itself for 12 hours… not a good sign, but it was almost done. I got Matthew up, took a quick shower, grabbed some breakfast bars for us and scooted us out the door to get us to the 9:00 appointment for my car.

45 minutes after being in the lobby, burning time because I was without my computer, one of the people from the service department came up to me and said that they had hit a complication with trying to replace the handbrake and it was now going to take several hours to get it done because they had to rip out the entire center console to get to it. They said they’d shuttle Matthew and me wherever we wanted to go. All this, just to put a button on the lever because I’d asked for one when I bought the car.

I decided to have them shuttle me back home so I could at least try to get a little work done, since all my most recent work was on the laptop at home.

Halfway home, I decided I’d better start anticipating my strategy as to how to manage the rest of the day… part of that strategy included how we would get back into the house, since Natalie was out of town and I had just given my keys to the service department so they could work on my car.

40 minutes later, after they shuttled me back to the shop to get my keys and then back home, we finally got in and I noticed my laptop had managed to finish its diagnostics, tests and repairs and had successfully booted into Windows.

I was ready to work.

Turns out, all network capabilities, firewall and USB ports had been deactivated and could not be reactivated. This meant I could not go online to get support and I could not hook up an external drive to dump off my data. Without boring you to death with technical jargon and a multitude of symptoms, let’s just say that it was FUBAR.

I jumped online on our desktop computer and began a chat with Dell Support. After about an hour into our conversation, going through all the typical technical support idiot-hoops they make you jump through (verifying that indeed my computer is plugged in, the lid is open so I can see my keyboard, I have tried rebooting and washing the screen with a damp cloth, thereby removing all smudges that might look like error-messages), the support person revealed to me the great and mystical secret of refreshing my laptop back to factory standards. I wouldn’t have to ask for help from support, except that the new Dell machines don’t ship with disks anymore. They partition the hard drive with all that data right on the local drive so you can restore your machine to factory standards IF you know the secret key combination, when to press it and what color socks to wear while doing it. In order to receive this information, you must tell their support staff no less than six times that you understand and are willing to wipe all data from your hard drive in order to do this procedure and fully intend not to hold Dell liable for any data lost.

As I balanced my laptop on my lap precariously while chatting with Support, answering inane questions and describing in detail each memory address for each error message I was receiving, our cat, Lenny was in the window sill and began wheezing and coughing, thrashing around until he knocked over my computer speakers, pulling every wired device off the desk with it and scaring Lenny right out of his fur.

At the same time, Matthew, who had been playing video games for about 10 minutes, turned off the game and walked over to me to complain about how hungry, thirsty and bored he was.

As the words, “what ELSE could happen,” and a sigh of exasperation exited my mouth, the telephone rang, which, incidentally, is also set up to simultaneously ring to my mobile phone, which set on vibrate in my pocket.

My brain began to shut down from the overload of stimulus and stress before I finally snapped into “take care of all this crap” mode.

I had Matthew answer the phone, pulled off the collar that was wrapped around Lenny’s neck and lower jaw, popped my laptop into safe mode in attempts to make the USB ports work so I could dump the data to my external drive which was still at work, wrapped up my conversation with Dell and accepted a lunch invitation for Matthew and me over IM from from my buddy, Warren.

After lunch, we stopped at work to pick up the drive, went home, the dealership picked me up to get my car and then we all went to the beach to relax.

…unfortunately, the story doesn’t quite end there. While we were at the beach, Warren and I were throwing around a fairly expensive little frisby-like toy I had bought a few weeks ago. This was the first time I was actually playing with it. I threw it to Warren, the wind caught it and took it right into the water, about 200 feet out. It sunk to the bottom and I never found it.

As for today, I’ve been dumping the data back to my computer, reinstalling software, installing updates and restoring settings all day. I have my laptop back up and running pretty much at about 95%. It’s almost 5:00 and my work day is about to begin on a Friday night. I know my boss would probably tell me to call it a wash and just go enjoy my weekend, but I’ve completely lost the past two days and I want to have SOMETHING productive to show for it.

I dunno.

Maybe I should go drown my sorrows in chocolate chp cookies again.