Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday Tune, vol 95 - Beethoven's 9th


Here we are.

It's the end of September.  October is around the corner.  This means that one of my favorite marathons is also around the corner.  It's the St. George Marathon, and it happens on the first Saturday of October every year.

Saturday next will be the Rabid's 9th St. George Marathon.  NINE!  Wow.  Wish I could tell you something like, it doesn't seem like it'll be nine, or it feels like my first St George was just yesterday, or where did all that time go?  But truthfully, time sure does not fly when you're running marathons.  And strangely enough, the faster you go, the longer it feels.

It's too bad Mr. Einstein and I weren't buddies, because I could have shown him how running could help explain his theory of relativity.  Einstein's theory-o'-relativity explanation-of-choice was the hot plate – hot stripper corollary.

People would ask ol' Albert (trust me, I've read the book) to explain the theory of relativity in terms for lay people.  He said something about how time does not feel constant, and that one's perception of time is based completely on their circumstances.  For example, 30 seconds with your hand on a hot plate will not feel the same as a stripper on your lap for 30 seconds.  That's the theory of relativity explained via hot plate – hot stripper.  (At least the theory of relativity for dudes.  Anyone care to take a stab at the female equivalent of a hot stripper on the lap for 30 seconds?  And I s'pose that some strippers out there might make 30 seconds on the hot plate seem rather short in comparison, yes?)

This same theory of relativity applies to running.  The faster you run, the more it hurts, and the longer it seems.  So, although you might finish faster, it will hurt more, and seem longer.  Got that?  Faster is longer.  Slower is shorter.

Sometimes I'm so fascinated with my very own logic that it makes me dizzy.

In celebration of this, my 9th St. George and 20th total, I present to you, the Tuesday Tunes (on Wednesday 'cause I'm a slacker): Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

First Movement: Allegro ma non troppo
Second Movement: Molto vivace
Third Movement: Adagio molto e cantabile
Fourth Movement: "Ode to Joy"

Let's hear it for Joy!  And all the Odes that go with this Joy!  And for hot plates!  And for Strippers!  And for marathons!

p.s. My Sister will be a soloist for this 9th Symphonic Masterpiece of Beethoven's.  I just sent her a text to get the exact date and time and whatnot.  I'll keep you posted.

p.p.s.  My Sister and I both have the names of famous porn stars.  Aren't we lucky?  And you wonder why I don't use my for-reals name!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Outliers



Outliers
by Malcolm Gladwell


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In my eyes, there is one reason for reading: Entertainment.  My job requires the reading of various tax documentation.  Unless you've spent some time reading tax specs from various departments of revenue, you cannot imagine the amount of tedium that comes when reading this kind of stuff.  If, however, you would like to imagine large amounts of tedium, try this publication for starts.  It's a tedious gas.

When I read, it's gotta be entertaining.  This includes non-fiction and researchish publications.  Outliers, a book that could be categorized as non-fiction and researchish, was ridiculously entertaining.  What I found most enjoyable, were the stories.  Gladwell includes stories about various high-achievers, Korean pilots, geniuses (both successful and not-so,) and Jewish immigrants.  He researched Canadian Hockey, law firms, and the Beatles.  He also researched the founders of some computer hardware/software giants, as well as the subject of math, and how certain areas of the world are better at math than others.

Gladwell's conclusion of all this research, thrown together with my rabid interpretation?  Success is all about the rule of 10,000 hours. It takes roughly 10,000 to be successful at something.  And what separates the super-successful from the not-so-successfull is opportunity.  The super-successful have been given extreme opportunities and taken full of advantage of these extreme opportunities.  Gladwell says (page 267):
"Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.  For hockey and soccer players born in January, it's a better shot at making the all-star team.  For the Beatles, it was Hamburg.  For Bill Gates, the lucky break was being born at the right time and getting the gift of a computer terminal in junior high.  Joe Flom and the founders of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz got multiple breaks.  They were born at the right time with the right parents and the right ethnicity, which allowed them to practice takeover law for twenty years before the rest of the legal world caught on.  And what Korean Air did, when it finally turned its operations around, was give its pilots the opportunity to escape the constraints of their cultural legacy."
Is Gladwell saying that success only comes from opportunity?  I don't think so.  When acquiring a skill, those 10,000 hours do not come without hard work.  The opportunities to get these hours, however, is what sets the hard-working successful from the hard-working not-so successful.

In addition to the 10,000-hour rule, I found that gratitude was an underlying theme.  I believe that gratitude is the most attractive of all actions and traits.  We need to be grateful for all – even though it isn't so easy at times.  Outliers reinforced my belief of this.  All of our successes, all of what we have learned and enjoy, comes as a result of opportunity.  He says (page 285):
"It is impossible [for various Outliers] to look down from their lofty perch and say with truthfulness, 'I did this, all by myself.'  Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience.  But they don't.  They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy.  Their success is not exceptional or mysterious.  It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are.  The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all."
I think we are all successful at something.  We have some talent and some strengths.  If anything, this book has made me reflect on certain advantages, and maybe even certain periods of holy-crap-when-will-it-end? that have made me who I am.

For the good and the bad, I am grateful.  Here's to all of us as Outliers.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are you going?

Where are you going?  Where you headed?  Why you driving so fast?

These are questions that friendly neighborhood (fun-hating!) police officers ask when they catch you speeding, flip on the cherries, make a u-turn like MacGyver, then follow you 'til you pull over.  Not that this has happened recently.

Okay, you got me.  It happened this morning.

A friendly neighborhood (fun-hating!) police officer pulled me over, and before I could hand him the license, he said, "Where you headed?"  He was smiling.  And he had some nice teeth.  My first thought was to butter him up with a "wow them are some nice teeth" comment then bat the lashes all violent-like so as to produce some tears.    But then I realized from past experience that this has never worked.  I also realized that I have yet to be pulled over and let loose like in the fairy tales.  "You go on ma'am.  Today is just a warning.  You just slow down now, you hear?"

That's right, I said "fairy tales."  People aren't let loose with warnings.  Unless of course you're a cop relation, carrying donuts, or Richard Matheson.

"Where you headed," he said.  (Notice the missing question mark.)

"Well," I said.  "It all began yesterday when I decided we were having Fish Tacos for dinner.  I was out of my Signature Secret Sauce, and needed to make some.  Now this was a problem for dinner, because the Secret Sauce needs to sit and simmer so as the savory seasoningss can blend properly.  The fish was thawed and ready  – tillapia if you must know, halibut is just so pricey these days – but the sauce was nowhere near ready.  

"When Spouse arrived home," I continued, "he took one look at my lazy butt on the couch and hollered, 'Woman! Where's my Secret Sauce?' and I was all, 'Dude.  You know where your Secret Sauce is' (*wink, wink.*)  Now spouse was hungry, he didn't feel up to making some Secret Sauce, so he suggested we go for pizza.  The Yahoos were all over that – Yahoos, that's what I call my kids, they're boys, age 7 and 10, want to see a picture?

"While eating pizza last night, I remembered a conversation we friendly neighborhood (fun-loving!) moms had on the way to school – you'll like this part, it's about donuts.  I told them all that I had been craving this heavenly buttermilk biscuit from a donut joint in Portland.  That joint is called Voodoo Donuts.  Have you heard of it?  No?  Oh.  EM. Gee.  You need to go to Portland for one of those buttermilk biscuits.  Sorry, back to the story – one of the friendly neighborhood (fun-loving!) moms said something about a buttermilk bar at a bakery in Provo called Provo Bakery.  

"Anyways, in between a slice of barbecue chicken and a slice of three-cheese, I told Spouse about Provo Bakery's buttermilk biscuit.  He was all over getting his mouth on one of those, (as was I, but don't tell anyone.)  Just then I remembered that I was taking my mom Summy to her physical therapy the next morning.  I could totally drop her off and go to the bakery for donuts.  Spouse said, 'Yeah.  Do that.'

"That was the plan.  I rose early, got the Yahoos ready and sent them to school.  Then I drove to get on the freeway, only to discover that the danged freeway on-ramp was closed AGAIN, and what is up with the construction?  It's really gonna cause someone to snap one of these days, don't you think?  So, the overpass was closed, for heaven knows how long, and that's when I discovered I had to go around, which generally adds AT LEAST 10 minutes to my commute.  

"I turned left all mad-like, just before the on-ramp and whipped around the corner.  While whipping around the corner, I thought 'What if I get all the way to the Provo Bakery and they are clean-out of buttermilk bars?  That can't happen!' so I dialed the number on my trusty Apple Telephone Device (complete with voice recognition,) and received a 'Hello, thank you for calling Provo Bakery.'  Bonus! They're still in business.  'Do you still make buttermilk bars?' I inquired, with fingers and toes and everything but legs crossed.  'We sure do!' she replied.  

"And that, Mr. Police Officer with nice teeth, is when I saw you flip on the cherries, make a MacGyver u-turn, and follow me 'til I pulled over.  So, you be real nice, and you let me off without a ticket, and I'll bring you back some of those buttermilk bars.  As many as you like."

That's where I said I was going.

Know where I get to go now?  Traffic school. (But no sooner than 5 days and no later than 14.)


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RUN DMC - Tuesday Tune, vol 94

On Saturday, last, The BYU and University of Utah were playing some football.  This game is a big deal around here.  BIG deal.  A Big Rivaling Deal.  Colors (BYU blue – U of U Red) are worn, children are costumed, and derogatory remarks are thrown back and forth over twitter, facebook, and various street corners.

This game is the game of the season; a big deal.  So big is this deal, that most stay in to watch it.  And if you're my dad Mikey, you go to your friendly neighborhood bar so as to enjoy it with a frothy pint of Amber Ale (or two.)  This Mikey, watching the local football rivalry at the local bar is quite a combo, because Mikey is true blue BYU – through and through.  I suppose you need to live around here to appreciate the rarity of a beer-drinking BYU fan.

Now, being as most are in watching the game – either in a home, or in the stadium, or in a bar  – the streets, and the stores, and the restaurants are empty.  I don't like crowds.  This BYU vs U of U game is a prime errand-running, shopping, and eating-out opportunity.  Which brings me to the point of this Tuesday Tune episode. (Finally!)

In the dead of the BYU vs U of U evening, Yahoo #1 and I were out buying some school clothes.  He was in a dressing room, dressing.  I, being one who has trouble waiting, was wandering around looking at stuff, when what do my wandering eyes see?  A RUN (freaking!) DMC t-shirt.

Holy rap.

I bought that shirt.  Without even thinking about it.  And I wore that shirt with pride on Monday, as can be seen in Exhibit A: RabidRUNner in RUN DMC t-shirt:

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Rad, right?  Rad.

Here's where the story gets interesting, however.  I was out with the Yahoos, and had ventured into an undisclosed location to purchase a new super-human-shock-absorbant phone protector.  While in this undisclosed location, a tall, um... very dark, handsome, and very gentlemanly employee says, "Someone's wearing a RUN DMC t-shirt."

So I get excited.  "Serious!  Isn't it rad? Total find of the decade."

(Picture this:  White, middle-aged mom sporting a classic rap tee.  Oh right.  You can picture it because there's a picture up there.)

"Alright then, name three RUN DMC songs," he says.

Obviously, this very dark 'n handsome employee didn't know who he was dealing with, did he.  He was dealing with a rabid listener-of-everything-hard-core-fan-of-none.  I listen to it all bro.  All.  Especially the rap of old; the happy rap of the 80s; the rap that transpired before rap turned into a bunch of eff'n, n-words this, and suck my thats.

In the which I proceeded to name my favorite RUN DMC tunes, which are:

You Talk Too Much
You Be Illin'
Walk This Way
Run's House
Mary, Mary
King of Rock
It's Tricky
Hard Times
Down With the King
Christmas in Hollis
Can You Rock it Like This



Monday, September 12, 2011

Aw Shucks


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It's corn season in our parts.  Corn season in our parts is something to be celebrated.  Local, homebred, homegrown, homefed corn is literally something to die for.  Or kill for.  That Children of the Corn flick totally makes sense to me.

Friday evening, we had some corn (Vera gave it to us, but that really isn't an important part of this story, it's only to say "THANKS VERA!" and to tell you where the corn came from.)  When Spouse arrived home from work, I handed him the sack o' corn and asked, "Will you shuck this?"  He said, "Sure," and walked out the door.

Okay?  "Whatever," was my only thought.  Perhaps he was doing it outside to save some mess or whatnot. 'Cept he came right back into the house without the corn.

My only next thought was, "You know?  I tend to micromanage everything around here.  I'm going to let him shuck the corn any way or how he chooses.  And I'm gonna shut up about it."

I finished the other dinner business, which included, but was not limited to, setting a giant pot of water to boil.  When the water reached the optimal boiling point, I said to Spouse, "Where's the corn?"

"I chucked it."

Evidently I need to work on the way I enunciate "sh."  I need to practice saying "sh."  I shall start with my favorite word that starts with "sh."  The Yahoos don't like it when I say that word, however, so maybe I'll chuck the "sh" and say "chit."  (Or should I shuck the "ch" and say "shit?")



Friday, September 09, 2011

Born Again


I have received the compliment of all compliments.  Until this week, I didn't know that there was a such a thing – the compliment of all compliments.  I always thought that compliments in excess are nothing more than a vat of hallow flattery.  This is not true, compliments in excess can be sincere.

For the last month, Jessica has been sending me random postcards.  One here, two there, three a few days later.  On the first postcard, Jessica gave strict instructions for holding onto these postcards because they are the pieces of a puzzle.   Therein lies compliment #1: She likes me enough to send a month's worth of post cards.  That alone is saying something.

Each of these hand written postcards had a little message.  Each contained some form of tribute to me and to friendship; each contained a distinctly heart-felt and sincere compliment.  Jessica also sent a few to Megan and The Winder to help.  Megan and The Winder said some distinctly sincere and heart-felt stuff too.  Therein lies compliment #2: She was able to come up with (or delegate) a month's worth of compliments.  

Because I always do as is instructed, I hung onto those postcards, anticipating its completion like another one of my goofy marathons.  After I had a bunch, I put them together:


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What could it say?!  What does it mean?!  As if each finely crafted message on each finely crafted postcard wasn't enough... there's a master plan!  A secret message!  A week or two later, I thought maybe we were done, so I gave another stab at the puzzle.


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So close!  Only two more!  What will that last word be?!

I'll tell you what last word is.  It's:

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Compliment #3 is: The compliment of all compliments, "I'm so glad you were born."  You want to make a person's day, or even life, tell them you're glad they were born.

Jessica sure knows how to make a life worth being born.  (Which I hope is a close second to the compliment of all compliments.)


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Criticism


Why on earth do we humans insist on criticizing?  I mean, really.  Do we (and by we, I also mean "I") need to criticize even a small percentage of what we criticize?

I was reading my good friend's blog just now, and she mentioned that she wasn't into potty training her kid, and that she was going to put it off; refuses to think about it.  After proclaiming her postpone-the-potty-training plans, she said, "Go ahead and criticize, I don't care."

This made me so sad.  I'm sad that my friend is not going to potty train her boy right now.  This boy deserves to be potty trained RIGHT NOW.  If he's not potty trained RIGHT NOW, he won't get into Harvard, or The BYU, or USC (wear go Trojans!)  His IQ will suffer, he'll have no self esteem, and he'll be called on a state-side mission (as opposed to somewhere exotic like Brazil.)

I'm totally kidding.  Do I need to say that I'm totally kidding?  Prolly not, but since irony is lost in the blogging world, and every thought must be spelled out in its entirety, I'll tell you I'm kidding, just to be safe.  (And since we're spelling stuff out, don't throw daggers at me over the state-side mission thing – that was supposed to be funny.  Also Spouse served a state-side mission and I married him anyway.  It was a small sacrifice but I am able to endure it.)*

I say waiting to potty train is a great idea.  Kids go dukey in the proper receptacle when they're good 'n ready – and not a day before.  You try – emphasis on try – to potty train too early and it will take you three times as long.  Trust me.  I know this to be true.  I've got a two-year scar.  That's 24 months.  Half of the poor kid's lifetime.

Even though I'm kidding about the above mentioned criticism, I am not kidding about the being sad part.  I'm sad that we feel the need to criticize each other.  Seriously, why?  You've heard it, I've heard it.  She made that "go ahead criticize, I don't care" comment because people actually criticize.  People criticize everything...  walking, exercise (not enough, too much), clothing (too big, too small, too revealing, too tacky), yard work (or lack thereof),  cleanliness (too clean, too dirty), discipline and styles, weight (too fat, too thin, too soft, too hard – no one is ever just right,) money (spending habits, etc.), on and on and on and on...

Potty training, among various other "accomplishments," has somehow become a direct reflection of one's parenting prowess.  "My Johnny was potty trained at eighteen months." Is often trumped by, "Well that's nothing.  My Sally was born potty trained."  Bee.  Eff.  Dee.   No one cares how old Steve Jobs was when he was potty trained.

Bottom line? It's time for me** (us, you, Katy Couric) to discontinue oxygen waste via criticism.  ALL criticism is taken out of context.  And if you need to criticize in order to feel superior in some way, come on over!  We do everything wrong around here.  You'll be feeling like King Tut in no time.



* A few notes on my state-side mission joke:  My current religious persuasion asks young men to serve two-year missions spreading The Good Word.  Many do, but it is not a requirement.  Some are called to serve in the United States while others are called to other places around the world.  The culture I'm surrounded by has this ridiculous notion that being called in the United States, or as we say "state-side," is not as cool as being called elsewhere.  For the record, I feel all missions are equally cool.

** I have been known to criticize here.  However, most*** criticism is directly related to those who take money for a good or service.  If you're providing a service, and someone is paying money for said service, I expect the good or service to be as advertised.  If it does not, then I'll criticize.  (For example, Sexy Modest, or that one magazine that features, and is read only by, those who might make a point of criticizing others' potty training skills.)

***I just remembered a few times where I've criticized.  I'm going to do better.  And if you're criticizing to be funny, that's an entirely different matter altogether.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Suffering In Park City - Tuesday Tune, vol 93


When I think of the toughest endurance races, I think of that blistering 100+ degree Badwater ultramarathon, or the wallop of the Wasatch 100.  Both are foot races meant to push man and woman to their absolute limit.  Both are something I'll (most likely) never do.  Mostly because of boredom.  I cannot do (or watch) anything longer than four hours without losing complete interest (hence my distaste for football.)  The Badwater and the Wasatch will take much (much!) longer than four hours.  Therefore the Rabid, and her attention deficit, will decline entry to either.

That lofty Leadville mountain bike race is another such endurance event that I'll (most likely) never do.  I've said this before, and here it is again.  In addition to the boredom factor, there's also the skill factor.  When it comes to mountain biking, I have none.  (Okay, I have some, but this is a meager smidgin above none.)

This weekend, I added another I'll-never-do-that-race to my ever expanding list of endurance events that I'll (most likely) never do. This new addition is the Park City Point-2-Point; a 78ish mile mountain bike, single-tracked death roll with 14,000 feet of vertical.

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Look at all those zigs!  And all those zags!

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My great friend Hillene was enlisted in this Park City Point-2-Point.  Because I like Hillene, and I like to watch suffering, Spouse, Yahoos, and I decided to spectate.  Figured we could make the day of it with some of Park City's summer activities.

The Point-2-Point is brutal!  There is no other way to describe it.  One finisher, who I'll call Dave, rolled across the finish, and in tears, said he'd spent 30 miles praying desperately for a mechanical.  "Take a tire, a fork, my seat, the brakes, the whole dang bike... anything!  Just make it so I don't have to finish!"

See, therein lies the difference between serious endurance athletes and the rest of us.  They will not, can not, refuse to quit unless forced.  Iron will is what keeps these people going.  The only way to stop them is to take their equipment.

Case in Point-2-Point (har-har):  Hillene, Bry, and Rad.  Them three is crazy!  Even crazier than me (and I'm pretty crazy.)  First, let's tell Bry's story.  Bry rolled into the Park City aid station, climbed off his bike and nearly tipped over.  He stumbled about all dizzy-like, saying, "I'm done.  I ain't finishing.  I've been out of water for two hours.  Where's some Carborocket.  Somebody get me some Carborocket.  I need some Carborocket."  He collapsed into a random chair, jammed a sandwich into his mouth, and began a repeat, "Ahm done (chomp chomp) did suhmyone get me some (chomp chomp) Cahbohwocket?  I can't finish (chomp chomp.)"  

Bry couldn't even stand up.  How was he going to ride another 22ish miles?

This is when being a popular guy helps.  Out of nowhere, four people ran to his assistance.  They told Bry that he was finishing, put him on his bike with two bottles of Carborocket, and pushed him on out.  Perhaps I should mention that Bry was riding a rigid single-speed, which means no gears and no cushy suspension.  Bry is either super tough or super dumb.  Haven't decided which.

Bry ended up finishing in just over ten hours.  And interestingly enough, he looked better after finishing than he did at the previous aid station.  I told him he looked great and gave him a series of congratulatory hoo-rahs.  "I'm telling you, Rabid," he said.  "I couldn't have done it without those two naps."

"What?! You took naps?"

"Yeah.  I stopped and curled up in the grass. But no one would leave me alone... everyone who went by kept asking if I was alright so I had hike a ways off so they'd leave me alone."

I suppose I'd take a nap too.  'Cept I would curl up and die. Which leads me to wonder if anyone has died on this Park City Point-2-Point.  Wouldn't surprise me.

Hillene rolled into the Park City aid station twenty minutes after Bry.  She looked great, but I had received word that she wasn't feeling great and was ready to quit at the previous aid station.  She rode by the official P2P aid tent while someone yelled "Coke...?"  She hollered "COKE!!!" jumped off her bike and began to guzzle.  While guzzling, the volunteer looked her square in the eyes, and just a few decibels above a whisper, said, "You're killing it."

"I am?  Serious?  Give me some more Coke."

Hillene's husband John loaded her with soup a la chicken 'n stars, and more goodies.  She climbed on the bike, we told her how awesome she is, and pushed her off.  Just as she left, a lady next to us said, "Is that your sister?"  I said, "I wish!"  Then John said, "If you two were sisters, you'd fight."  

Really?  Would we really?  Hmmm.

Hillene finished just shortly after Bry, in 10:19 (that's hours:minutes,) and placed second in female 36 and over.  When she finished, she looked at me and said, "There is no point to that.  I am never doing that again.  Ever.  It's all your fault!  I wouldn't have finished if you hadn't been here!"

Looks like I have officially become part of her equipment.

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Rad finished about an hour after Hillene.  I wasn't able to see him finish (due to some starving Yahoos) but I did receive the following text:  "That thing was AWFUL.  Tree roots, rocks, trees, holes, and my suspension fork was locked out for the first 60 miles.  And I had to notice it twice before I unlocked it.  My neck hurts.  Glad it's over, and somebody will have to do a lot of talking before I'll do that again."

Folks, there was some suffering at Park City Point -2-Point.  That's why today's Tuesday Tune is:

Suffering In Park City – Davie Bowie

And all these years you thought Bowie was saying Suffragette City.  Bah!


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John at the Park City aid station.

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Hanging with the talent at the finish.

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Hey look, it's Rebecca Rusch!


Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Great Backup Project


At this very minute, I'm watching the Finder copy 28,402 files.... ope, now it's 28,367.  You should try watching files copy, it's a gas. Much like watching paint dry is a gas.  These 28,500ish files are all photos and they should be done copying in "about 2 hours."  After I'm done watching the photos copy (all 28,500ish), I'm going to copy my itunes library.  That might take only 1.5 hours.

Where, pray tell, am I copying these files?  These bad boys are going on a hard drive, and that bad boy hard drive is going in a fire proof safe.  The plan is to take the hard drive out of the fire proof safe each month, give it an update, and put it back in the fire proof safe for all time and protective infinity (or at least the next month when I do the backup again.)  This is an additional backup to the backup that I keep in the house.

I'm giddy about this, really.  Super, duper excited.  Calling it a backupgasm.

Additionally, I'd like to take this file-copy-watching opportunity to remind you all to go backup your photos, files, and music.  Go do it, anyway and how, so as to annihilate any anguish that might accompany a hard-drive-related atrocity.

Hey, look at that!  Only 23,461 files to go!