Recent Bad Luck - What Kind of Voodo is This?

Yesterday was a day of torture and nauseating fear all caused by technology. My computer crashed. Not just a typical blue screen restart, but the kind where the end of your precious data is hovering dangerously over a precipice of digital doom. My fear inspired nausea. Memories of what was still awaiting backup plagued me. It was hard to stay focused and remain calm with hope when I was faced with losing so many memories.

I had been spending the last couple months doing routine maintenance and backup as usual in my slow winter months. I have way too many photos in need of editing and at least being backed up on my external. I was nearly done with backup, when the Window's update popped up. I went ahead and allowed the updates as I'd planned to defrag and run ckdsk anyway. These are two of the most common maintenance procedures often ignored unless pre-programmed. During the upload, there was an alert about a driver and USB error. I dealt with them according to the instructions. Once I was done with the updates, I restarted as I was directed to complete the installation. Suddenly, instead of loading Windows Vista, it crashed. There was no friendly sign-in screen to welcome me. Nothing. I couldn't even access safe mode. Once I knew that I would be forced to do a full diagnostic, with little hope of a resolution, I sent out a hasty and forlorn tweet and post to my Facebook business page:
"My computer is down. I am attempting repair, but Soul Gaze Photography is closed until further notice. I'm sorry for any inconvenience." 2:42 PM - 25 Jan 13"I am still attempting repair. BSOD before login screen. Sofar boot volume issue and possible boot virus." 5:29 PM - 25 Jan 13

I tweeted believing there was no recovery this time. The unfortunate truth at the time was that I'd never experienced this situation and had no idea what was the cause, solution or even if there was a resolution. My biggest fear was losing my unedited photos (thankfully, just months of personal photography and not client's) and my documents that I'd been in the process of backup without completion. It was a dreadful feeling to be faced with such a prospect of failure. To know that I'd have to put Soul Gaze Photography on hold too.

I had a good, long cry and then forced myself to get focused. I put on my Bose headphones to block out all distractions and sat down with the determination that I would have my computer back. I began by running the F2 diagnostics. The only recent error was a reminder of my imminent internal battery failure (601). I ran full diagnostics and the memory and hard disks all passed which gave me hope. My number one assumption was this was due to my recent updates. I ran Startup Repair and other utilities and nothing was able to repair the issue. I'd accessed the diagnostic and repair details log and found: 'corrupt volume' and 'unspecified changes to system configuration might have caused the problem'.

Since I'd had a BSOD flash for about a millisecond, rather than turn on the setting to display it longer, I went ahead and got a video screenshot using my iPhone 4S. The text was the typical 'windows shut down to protect data' BSOD which was good. The stop code was: stop: 0x0000007B (0xFFFFFA60005AF900, 0xFFFFFFFFC0000034, 0x0000000000. I'd looked online and 7B is related to 'boot volume issue' which was pretty much corresponding to the diagnostic error code.

After this, I attempted another restart and received the same restart 'loop' issue. Still no login past HP's log and the loading bar that says 'Microsoft'. After being given the option to either start Windows normally or run Startup Repair, I again ran Startup Repair. This time, I was able to restart and use F8 to access Safe Mode. Thankfully. Using Safe Mode, I ran chdsk via the command. It did it's job, but found no bugs or issues. So finally, I was pretty sure that the issue was related to the Windows update. I chose to risk a restore point. I choose the most recent restore point which was a couple hours before my install of the update. It ran. Once the computer restarted, it stayed with a black screen and white cursor for about 10mins. Finally it completed restarting and my data was back. Nothing has been lost and all is as it was before. I was so very thankful and relieved! Also proud of myself for figuring it out myself.

Unfortunately, after all this, my computer isn't safe from its imminent failure. The internal battery is failing, the external has failed long ago so I am tethered to my desk. If there is a power outage, it dies in seconds. Bad for data. The CPU fan is so noisy it drives me crazy. Despite registry cleaning, anti-virus, anti-malware and other routine maintenance, it runs so slow that editing small sessions takes days instead of hours. It drives me insane and affects my creativity. I skip capturing moments (personal, not client's) sometimes just attempting to avoid using my computer. It is a major buzz-kill. I've managed to learn alot of computer repair thanks to years of self-taught experience. As a Photographer, I need speed and power that I can rely on. It is time for me to go Mac and not look back. The problem is, this is an endeavor that I can not currently do on my own.

Last year, my Husband was laid off from work. We relied on our savings and help from friends and family. His unemployment was never provided a response other than being told to be patient. It was scary, hard times as we'd gotten used to the nice income and once our savings ran out, things were no longer cheerful. He now works 3rd shift full-time in a factory in Bowling Green (1hr from home) and part-time as a stocker for Nestle driving to Glasgow, Tompkinsville and sometimes Scottsville and Bowling Green. We're almost caught up from the lay-off, but with all these things breaking, I often worry if we ever will be.

Right now, I work part-time with SGP and spend the rest of my time with our two children while taking care of our house and helping him by doing chores like mowing and cutting up fallen trees after a storm. I'd chosen to spend as much time with our children as possible since they both have developmental delays and are being evaluated for Autism. Lorna's primary issue being food texture aversion preventing a varied diet and Tristan's being behavior and speech. Sadly, I've had to deal with judgements from people because of our struggle and me remaining at home with them. I've had people close to me not consider photography to be 'work' and I haven't been taken seriously as a result. It hurts. Badly. I'm not sure if it's more painful to not be taken seriously, or to know that in vintage days, a woman staying with her kids was expected and respected. Brandon had asked me to do it and I had agreed due to having more experience with delays than he did. My hope is that we will get caught up this year and I can finally get Soul Gaze Photography full-time and be taken seriously.

My goal for 2013, was to take SGP full-time since Tristan will be of age for after-school care in February. This will open my availability to 5pm as I'd currently been working with clients while my children were at school (8:30am-12:30pm) and other times by appointment. I've also been planning finding local employment to help us build up our savings and restore my business account to a more comfortable amount. Since I'd been doing freelance for Glasgow Daily Times and I have writing skills, I'm hoping to work in Journalism or similar fields. Since I have such a desire for nature and conservation, I'd love to work for Mammoth Cave National Park as a Park Ranger...a career I always wanted.

Unfortunately, I can not take the risk of going full-time with SGP with my computer potentially failing. I know too that I don't have the ability to provide the level of promptness in regards to editing sessions as will be required when my workload increases. Despite organizing and streamlining my workflow, I will still require replacing my computer first. This is a reality that couldn't come at a worse time.

Recently, we've had another stream of bad luck. Several things have broken at the same time. First our stove's bottom element died. We're not sure if it's just the element or something else. The only element we've found is about $40, but with no returns, so for now we've been using the top element and being patient.

Then one night, I'd put a load in the dryer and it ran too long. I checked it and it was blowing cold air. This too is most likely the heating element, but as it is 10+ years old, who knows if it's worth replacing.

A few days later, my hair brush handle broke in half. I have thin hair, so it was quite the unexpected shock. Didn't feel too good either!

I was cleaning the house and vacuum started to smell bad. Like plastic melting in the motor. The dust cup wasn't sealed and scattered dust across the floor upon the attempt to lift it off the vacuum for emptying. I'd already had a bad day, so that caused me to cry like an idiot. I felt better, so then I cleaned up the mess....again!

Then, my Nikon D40, had incorrectly read a SD card as empty so I reformatted, losing a session I hadn't yet backed up. My first time ever losing a session. The flash also had died with no warning.

Lastly, my Husband's Civic's transmission went out when he reached the driveway. I was asleep in bed when I heard him come home. Trust me, his tuner growls so I always know when it is him. Suddenly I hear him revving it up like he's playing. I was quite irritated because of how early it was and went to the window to see what was going on. I was about to text him and freak, when I saw the car wasn't moving. I realized instantly it was the transmission. I was thankful in that moment for all the experience I'd received from my mechanic Uncle, but then the realization came that with a bad transmission, we could again be facing employment issues. My adrenaline had kicked in and I was shivering despite the freezing cold. I hollered at him to turn it off before he made it worse.

After taking the transmission off, it was discovered the 5th gear was welded. No fix. So we searched for a week for a replacement. A transmission for a '95 Honda Civic proved to be a difficult find, even with help from my x-boyfriend's parents who have automotive skills and connections. We found one in Caneyville, KY and made the road trip on MLK day since the kids were out of school.  I'd just sold another print, so I used the money and took us all to Gatti's Pizza in Leitchfield since we don't get to go there often as the next closest one is in Bowling Green (nasty) or Elizabethtown.

We returned from the salvage yard and Brandon took a day with his friend Kody and installed the new one. They'd already spent $168 to install a new clutch. It drove fine from Scottsville (where Kody's garage is) to home and back to work in Bowling Green. Then he was almost to the Glasgow exit when 5th kicked out of gear strong enough to see the stick move. He pulled over and checked everything. Both 4th and 5th were out. He ended up driving home using 3rd gear. Since we'd used our budget to get that replacement clutch and transmission and didn't really have funds for a wrecker. Once home, we checked the fluid which was low and added more. The transmission still was not fixed, so we parked the car again until we can get more money to figure out what to do.

Last night's computer drama was the last straw on my stiff back. I broke in tears and wondered if there was any end to this mess. I realized that if my current computer finally fails, I will be forced to close Soul Gaze Photography until it is replaced. No more editing and sharing photography (except my Instagram) and my DSLR will be very lonely as I won't be able to backup and edit to clear the card. I'll be lonely for I've spent so much time building my skills to make a better contribution to my family. I love what I do and it pleases me to inspire and inspire others, but to lose the ability to learn and share my work it will be hard. I always have nature to explore, but to see such beauty and no longer be able to capture and share it will be heartbreaking. My only hope is to trust in God and remain calm, for in the end all things happen for a reason and things will work out. Right?

If you'd like to donate or help with my new computer fund, please support me by purchasing my work.Thank you!

JournalAmber FlowersComment