Computer Crashes, Followed By Nate

I walked down to the computer room Friday night to find the monitor glowing blue. The hard drive on the Dell that Karen and Nate use was kaput. I tried to restart in various modes, but it was clearly dead. Figuring Nate was the last one to use it, I asked him what happened.

“It froze and I pushed the button.” OK, that was a good, simple answer, but when it comes to computer issues, I really need to know in detail what led to the crash. Nate is incapable of that kind of response. He yelled, “I want my toilaroids! I need my documents! I blew up the computer!” None of it was helpful

That left me with a surprise Friday night activity: two hours with tech support. Indeed, the hard drive had been corrupted somehow and I ordered a new one. Thankfully, after our last computer was slowly turning itself into a forever sleep, I learned to back up everything, especially Nate’s work, on an external hard drive. It’s impossible to explain to him that sometimes there’s no good answer to his problem, that computer work can disappear, for good.

Last week I was backing up his photos, and he cancelled before the process was completed. I was mad at him: “Nate, you don’t know what you’re doing!” but I didn’t realize then that all recent pictures weren’t saved. I didn’t know and I didn’t think I was running out of time. So at least one month of toilaroids are gone, as well as a month or two of documents.

Nate was good and bad on crash night, and every day since. As I spoke to tech support, I could hear him clomping about, and feel his presence on the landing above the computer room. He would start talking over the instructions I was being given, which only added to the misery. I’d make gestures at him – a wave of my hand, a finger on my lips – and those only served to anger him.

A few times he’d sit next to me, whining, and when I’d tell him to be quiet, Nate lashed out, just like in the bad old days when we would have physical altercations. Again, the hitting, biting and pinching. That was from him. After enough of this I responded in my own way. It always feel terrible to battle with Nate.

Oddly, Nate may have felt something in the air, an impending sense of digital doom, because suddenly last week he started emailing to my computer some of his newer docs and pics. True, I had about 95% of his stuff saved, which we put on his laptop, but the realization that he had inadvertently delivered a second copy to me was a Godsend and went a long way in calming him down.

Nate has kept it pretty well together this weekend, occasionally moping about “the worst weekend ever,” but he’s eagerly anticipating the new hard drive Thursday and having his stuff back in the old computer, as if nothing happened. He and I have discussed how important it is for him to tell me when there are new items to be saved. Hopefully, we’ve both learned some lessons.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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