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Friday: Computer Hell & JFK 50th

So yesterday and this morning were filled with computer hell. My desktop machine hung repeatedly, leaving me in a position where it could easily take a half-hour to respond to a simple email message. Argh. It had been fine the night before.

My standard disk utility said the boot disk was damaged and needed repair. I reached for my install disks, which I always keep right there, so I could reboot the system from one of those and run the repair program. Only the disks aren't right there. The aren't in the other place they could possibly be, either. This is the burden of stuff, stuff you need Right Now and can't locate. Double Arrgh.

I haven't found them yet, but eventually thought to check if my SuperDuper backup disk was bootable, like it's supposed to be. Sure enough, it is. It took seemingly forever and a day...and flooded my desktop with every file that's ever been there...but my 1 TB internal hard drive was soon reporting healthy and problem-free once more.

Only my email wasn't. And if the email program was open, nothing else was, either. Triple Arrrgh. I had work to do, work that's much, much easier on the 27" desktop than on the 17" laptop. And I need reliable email to function, too.

And so the day went. I spent way too much time troubleshooting the email program, trying to get it to work in a timely fashion. I cleared the cache and other possible trouble spots. Tried different settings files. Removed a chunk of old email folders to lessen the overall load. All with no notable improvement or success.

I finally gave up, knit while watching the Tom Brokaw special on JFK, and then kept poking for a few more hours. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. No luck. Quadruple arrrrgh. Not only was the day gone and the work not done, the problem was only half-fixed. I shut down the computer (for the dozenth time that day, at least) and went to bed.

After taking trash and recycling to the transfer station this morning, I started up the computer for a fresh try. If email was still all but non-functional, I'd move it over to the laptop as a further test to see if it's the email program or the desktop computer. Sure enough, it worked for 3-4 minutes, then went walkabout, hanging everything in the process. When it decided to return, I shut down the program and started moving files to the portable hard drive I use to quickly move several gigs of data between machines. (Yes, I have a network; I still mostly use sneakernet equivalents.)

Bingo. The usage stats file couldn't be transferred to Little Red Drive. I gave it a couple tries, deleted the corrupt file, and email is once again running smoothly on the desktop, as are other programs, including when email is open. Win. Well, except for reallocating 18+ hours of productivity and thereby falling even further behind on the current overdue project.

During all the testing and trouble-shooting, I used the web as my comparison program. I wasn't going to risk messing up work files. I left comments on various LJ posts, mostly in response to posts about memories of the JFK assassination. The longest was on nkcmike's LJ. He encouraged me to repost it on my own journal so as to have easy access to it later.

And some of our memories are accurate....

I was in fourth grade. I found out after riding the bus home that afternoon; they didn't tell us at school. I remember feeling mad and mostly betrayed by that; adults I trusted had withheld the news. I also remember feeling like I understood why they did; that they thought it was important we hear it from our parents, when we were with our families.

The TV was on. I don't remember it not being on (while we were awake) until after the funeral. It was my first experience with being "glued to the set." My parents were, too, though we certainly had regular meals and maintained other aspects of our daily routine. I'm sure my father went to work as usual. I mostly remember my mother, and nothing specific about my older brother's or sister's reactions.

My memories are actually memory fragments. That Friday afternoon, before ecoming glued to the TV, I was out on the porch crying because I had fallen and scraped my knee. I don't remember then fall itself, just that it hurt. My mother comforted me on the porch, acknowledging that my knee hurt, and asked me to think about how minor my pain was compared to the pain everyone was feeling at the death of President Kennedy. She might have referred directly to the pain Caroline and John-John were experiencing.

I took her comments well, and still don't think she was dismissing or otherwise unsympathetic to the pain of my skinned knee. Her comfort and her words helped me put it into perspective and see just how minor it was compared to the enormity of the assassination.

I vaguely remember my WTF shock of Jack Ruby killing Lee Harvey Oswald. It further unsettled an already unsettled world. (Though I certainly didn't think of it in WTF terms in those days: I don't think I even heard the swear word before 8th or 9th grade.)

We watched every minute of the funeral. Images of John-John's salute -- even just the memory of it -- still moves me emotionally. At the time, I was in awe of him while also being oh, so profoundly sad for him and Caroline. Seeing Black Jack, the riderless horse, with the boots reversed, is my next most vivid memory from that day. The solemnity of the entire funeral cortege. Images of the caisson itself, those great big wheels. More vaguely, the lighting of the Eternal Flame. I don't know if school was cancelled that day, only that I wasn't there. I think it was probably cancelled; I don't recall any discussion at all of whether or not I'd go or stay home to watch the funeral. Again, no memories of my brother or sister. I think my father was there; I'm sure my mother was, but all my memories are of what I saw on the TV. And, yes, it was black and white. Neighbors had color TVs long before we did, but a quick search confirms just how rare color sets (and color broadcasts) were in November, 1963.

From the wikipedia page:
The first national color broadcast (the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade) occurred on January 1, 1954, but during the following ten years most network broadcasts, and nearly all local programming, continued to be in black-and-white. It was not until the mid-1960s that color sets started selling in large numbers, due in part to the color transition of 1965 in which it was announced that over half of all network prime-time programming would be broadcast in color that fall. The first all-color prime-time season came just one year later.

For decades, I misremembered one detail. My Uncle John also died in 1963. He was my great-uncle on one side of the family and became my step-grandfather on the other side of the family when he and my maternal grandmother married each other (2nd marriages for both). I remembered that Uncle John also died in November, but last year, I found two funeral cards in family papers and now know he died in mid-August. "Uncle John died the same year as President Kennedy" morphed into "died the same month" in my 9-year-old mind and remained there for nearly 50 years.

My family wasn't Catholic, nor were we ardent Democrats -- I'm pretty sure my parents always voted based on the candidates themselves, not the political party those candidates were running under. But we felt an additional connection to JFK. It was that "Fitzgerald" between "John" and "Kennedy." We didn't know of any direct familial connection, but I remember the whole family looking at a map of Ireland printed in the newspaper when JFK was elected. It showed where the JFK Fitzgeralds were from as well was other Fitzgerald strongholds throughout the country. We were supposedly from the same region...or maybe we just decided it must be that all Fitzgeralds were related somehow, regardless of how distant the relationship might be. The 1960 election was the first Presidential election I was aware of. I knew of elections before then; my mother worked as an election judge at least until she got a full-time job in the mid-1960s. But a Presidential election was BIG. And even though I was a mere 6 years old, I remember learning my first campaign chant from other kids in the neighborhood:

"Kennedy, Kennedy, he's our man!
Nixon, Nixon, in the garbage can!"

I was utterly shocked decades later when I first read that some schoolchildren in the South (not in Dallas) cheered when they heard the news of JFK's assassination. (There's apparently an oft-repeated story of Dallas schoolchildren cheering that appears to be total bunk. From what I can see online today, the reports than schoolchildren cheered in some other parts of the country, especially in the South, appear credible to me. I first read it online from someone who witnessed it themselves. On RASFF, most likely.)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 23rd, 2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
Glad the computer gremlins are finally gone, although I read this in some trepidation given that I have to spend part of today upgrading my laptop. Our authoring tool at work has just switched to work only with Java 7 and in order to get it to work on my MacBook Air while I'm traveling, I have to upgrade the OS on it. Already did it on my iMac without a hassle but it's still always traumatic, although I hope not as traumatic as your experience. And as with yours, I first have to figure out where I put the upgrade disk...

My memories of the JFK funeral are similar to yours: the horse and black caisson especially stick in my mind. However, our school did indeed tell us: my classroom had a bank of windows next to the flagpole and the first thing we knew was that the flag was being lowered to half-staff. Then, our tough, hard-as-nails PE teacher came into the room with tears running down her face and frankly, that scared us third-graders even more than the actual news she imparted!
Nov. 24th, 2013 04:13 pm (UTC)
For years I thought I had been sent home from detention on the day. Since I was only seven and was also a goody-two-shoes, this seems unlikely upon reflection. I think we were dismissed early without being told. I remember a neighbor stopping and picking up me (and maybe a friend with whom I was walking) on the way home from school. She didn't tell me (us) either but was visibly upset. I remember the television on constantly and that my parents were quite upset. We were 20 miles from the DC Capitol building and felt fairly vulnerable in those days of the Cold War at its most intense. I was almost relieved when I figured out a few years later that we would have no chance of survival in a full-out nuclear exchange.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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