Book Backlog

It’s a new year but I still have a lot of reading left to do from last year. I’m making it a point to finish the ones worth finishing and not just leave them until other books steal my interest.

That’s going to be hard because I already have five books requested from our library and several more that I intend to request this week. Then there are the ones I’ve returned without reading and need to get again.

But I’m going to give it a good try. I’ve already finished a couple of the ones pictured below (but not the C# book. I’m not sure why that even came home with me) but the rest are waiting. I guess I should stop typing now and go read a book.

I Lost All My Photos

Over the weekend I popped my SD card into my camera and went outside to take some macro shots while snow was piling up on objects. I had an interesting composition in view so I was annoyed when I tried taking a couple of sample shots and the shutter wouldn’t open.

I looked down at the camera’s screen and saw a message flashing that my memory card couldn’t be read and might be corrupted or damaged. I didn’t think much about it at first. Maybe the micro card that I use wasn’t set right in the adapter. Or maybe the switch on the adapter was in the lock position.

Neither of the above scenarios was true though. The card should have worked. But when I put it into my computer, it didn’t show up there either. I took it out and pulled the microSD card out of the adapter. I held it up to the light and that’s when I saw the problem. The card had a crack going from side to side right in back of the contact pins.

The card was ruined. I had been using that card to take nearly all of my photos from 2018. There were plenty of pictures that weren’t worth keeping but others were special to me and I’ll miss not having them.

But what about your backups?

Heh, heh, um, about those backups. I work in the GIS / IT world. We deal with massive amounts of data and have multiple backup processes in place to make sure that we never lose any of it. You would think that kind of mindset would follow me home and protect all of my private data too.

I do back things up at home – I promise. But I didn’t back up these photos. Some of them were downloaded over the course of the year but they were downloaded as JPEG files, not the original RAW files I took them in. And there were a lot of images on the card that I didn’t download in any form.

It’s really easy to just keep packing data onto little storage drives with huge capacities. It’s very easy to assume that your data is safe on them. And for the most part, your data is safe on them. Unfortunately, solid state storage isn’t perfect and it can become corrupted. Take my word for it, you have to back up everything.

In my case, the corruption took a physical form. I had left the card in my laptop. It sticks out of the built-in card reader almost half an inch. I moved the laptop and must have hit the card on something. On further inspection, I could see where the adapter had bent, breaking the micro card inside.

The two main takeaways here are:

  1. Don’t leave thumb drives, SD cards, external hard drives, phones or headphones attached to laptops that can be moved easily. Plug ’em in, use the data, and take them out.
  2. Always keep backups in at least two locations. Never rely on a single medium or device. This includes online storage locations and social sites. In the online world, nothing is forever.

Lesson learned.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

One year, when doing my taxes, I realized that my son’s birth on December 31st had given me a tax credit for the entire year. Those few hours of life on one day covered the past, present and future with regard to the amount I owed the government.

This year, I’m reminded of another birth that had past, present and future implications but much more important ones than taxes and money. The birth of Jesus Christ set in motion events that would forever affect our relationship with God.

In the book of Hebrews we find that “…since death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant [the laws of Moses], those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15-16). Later we see that “…now once, at the consumation of the ages He [Jesus Christ] has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).

As we come to the end of 2018 and look forward to a new year, we can continue to celebrate this perpetual gift of salvation that has covered the cost of man’s past, present and future sin.

Poetry Revision

Poetry, like any written work, needs revision. I suppose there might have been a handful of times when inspiration for a short poem hits and what comes out the first time is good enough. But most times there’s a good bit of thinking, speaking and writing that goes on after the initial words are put to paper.

When I say good enough I mean I’m happy with the way it sounds and I feel I’ve gotten my message across. In other words, good enough is an incredibly subjective measure of a poem’s completion.

Notice that I didn’t say a poem is good enough if half the people who proofread it say it’s OK. No, good enough comes before any eyes but mine have beheld the work. And that makes it incredibly dangerous. Because whether I think my message has been put across or not or whether it sounds good, no one else may see it that way.

That’s why the initial words of a poem’s first draft usually shouldn’t be published. It’s tempting (and I do it more than I should) to just put them out there quickly and see what happens. But that usually results in reading them later and cringing when you realize you let other humans read that slop.

Those initial words are not the poem; not really anyway. Instead, they’re the idea, the inkling of a theme or the exploration of a subject. Usually, when I think I’ve got something good, I’ll walk away from it for a week or more. I come back to it later with fresh eyes and see that it wasn’t very good in the first place. It’s then that the poem begins to be written.