Why You Should Always Back Up Your Files Ten Times Over

While it’s a truism that you should back up everything, I cannot stress this importance having recently experienced something shocking, painful, and terrible.

Two weeks ago, I came back to the computer lab to find that some careless person bent my USB drive and that my computer would no longer read it. Or any computer, for that matter.

This was followed by several hours of pure panic and internal chaos. Could it be fixed? Could the files be retrieved? What would this cost me?

I happen to be very fortunate to have a very good tech school literally two streets north of my own college, and one of my dearest friends goes there. So before I started buying things (other than new flashdrives to save the things I still had open on my desktop) like a soldering iron, I texted her, send pictures, and asked if she knew anyone who might be able to fix it.

As it happens, she does. As it also happens, she has the attention span and memory of a puppy and was in mid-term season, then was in Mexico on spring break, so she’s not yet given it to him, so I still have NO IDEA if he can actually fix it for me. *taps fingers anxiously on desk* I’m trying to stay positive. Trying really, really hard.

If this finally happens and he can’t fix it, I’ve got to send it to the other side of the country to a place that will fix it for TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS WHYYYYY. That was literally the cheapest I could find that I trusted. Isn’t that terrible??? There is ONE connector that came unsoldered. Should this be a cheap fix??? Shouldn’t it???

This is why I despise technology.

So now I have three flash drives, one my brother-in-law sent me that is my main one and much harder to break – and I’m planning on making greater use of my Google Drive account. I’m going to back-up everything at least once a month, and if anyone has other online drive services like Google Drive that they recommend I do in addition, I’d love to hear about them.




The Academy Awards 2014: Wins and Losses

I, like many of you, was one of the avid viewers of The Oscars this year. I probably shouldn’t have because I had a paper due and it went much slower than I would like, but there you are.

In any case, it was a decent show. I appreciated the running pizza joke (and I was actually glad that they got food at the event because I’m sure they were starving) and I loved the group selfie that broke Twitter. I retweeted that, and it took quite a while to do because they crashed Twitter. It was cool, being a part of that, and I happen to really like that photo as well.

Actually, those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I went a bit Oscar crazy on Twitter, retweeting and tweeting my thoughts.

The Academy Awards always have winners, but I think there were some poignant losses this year as well. It’s made me think about what these awards mean and what we’re actually awarding.

Some things were obvious. Frozen winning Best Animated Picture and Best Song were pretty much a given. Everything that 12 Years a Slave won was pretty much a given.

Perhaps the best thing, the most meaningful award for me as a viewer, was Angela Lansbury’s honorary Oscar for her incredible seventy years of career in film. I can honestly think of no one else half as deserving of the award. She’s literally one of the most phenomenal actresses in history, and since she’s never managed to win an Oscar for any of her many nominations, this was well-earned.

I’ll confess, I was very upset that American Hustle was shut out entirely. It was a tough year in many respects, but I will consistently maintain that Amy Adams deserved Best Actress. I love Cate Blanchett, but I would have put both Amy Adams and Meryl Streep’s performances ahead of hers this year.

As far as Best Actor, I have no issue with Matthew McConaughey winning. In fact, I think his speech was my favorite all night, hands down. I confess, I did feel a bit sad for Leonardo DiCaprio, who was once again snubbed. I don’t think that Wolf of Wall Street is one of his best performances, and so I won’t go so far as to say that he deserved to win. However, the fact that he’s been going for a very long time with excellent films and still hasn’t won an Oscar is a bit…frustrating, and I’m not even a big fan of his. This wasn’t the year, but I can sympathize with his fans.

All in all, it was a decent year for the awards, but I think we should all remember to take it with a grain of salt. Particularly when Gravity beat out The Book Thief and Philomena for Best Score. Travesty.



Writing a Period Piece

One of my life ambitions, as some of you may know (Natalie Cannon definitely knows) is to write a Victorian novel. Not a novel that takes place in the Victorian period, but an actual, this-could-be-over-a-century-old, Victorian novel that models the time in style as well as substance.

Naturally, this is a massive and scary undertaking that involves meticulous research. Thankfully, I’ve actually spent most of my life researching for it, without realizing that this is what I was doing.

I wrote a story – which I am currently editing – called “Deep Into That Darkness Peering” which is set at the death of Edgar Allen Poe. It took me a few tries to find the right voice for the story, but I eventually approached it in first person through the voice of the doctor attending him.

In this voice, I had to be very in the head of someone from Victorian America, in his speech patterns, in the flow of his words and thoughts. Of all the things the class said I did well, they all agreed that this was something I nailed. So apparently I can speak Victorian. Which is good, since I have to be able to do that.

The key, I think, to writing believable, excellent period fiction, is inhabiting the world you’re writing. I’ve been attempting to inhabit the Victorian world ever since I was eight years old. It’s a manner of thinking, speaking, interacting that I’m excessively comfortable with. I can not tell if I’m comfortable with it because I’m naturally inclined to it somehow, or if I’m comfortable with it because it captured and held my imagination so early and for so long. At this point, I doubt it matters much which.

If you want to write fiction for any period – any period where you can find a lot of their fiction – read everything you can. Find the patterns of speech you love, find the ones you don’t love, and soak it all in. Watch film adaptions with good repute to get a feel for how it looks, scour the internet for music and pictures. The more you think in another age, the better you’ll be at recreating it in your own work. Because I think the key to good period fiction isn’t drawing a picture of another era, but experiencing another era, and inviting the reader to experience it with you.




What Good is a Good Man?

This probably seems like a very strange question to ask, but let me explain the context a bit.

At my college, we have a speaker every night, people in various fields discussing all sorts of topics. Earlier this week, we were visited by an alumnus, a screenwriter who wrote one of the greatest love films of all time, An Officer and a Gentleman. I had the privilege of sitting with him at dinner and picking his brain about Hollywood, about his process, about what the college was like when he was here. He was a fascinating human being.

There is now an uproar because of an impression that he’s sexist, egotistical, and basically a jerk (to put it nicely). No, he wasn’t the sort of human being that I would have modeled myself after, and his smile did sort of creep me out. He’s been married five times, and he made jokes referring to his wives by monikers instead of names (but let’s be real, it was a joke), but that doesn’t mean he’s sexist. Necessarily.

What really bugs me about what they’re saying, though, is that he’s “not a nice guy.”

I really can’t figure out what the value is supposed to be in having only “nice guys” come and speak at a college. What do we learn by only having people who are nice tell us their stories and ideas? I can certainly think of what we lose. The Hemingways, the Andy Warhols, the Robert Downey Juniors. There are a lot of people who are brilliant at what they do who aren’t especially nice or exemplary in their lifestyle choices, especially when it comes to artists (although I think businessmen and politicians fall into this trap as well). So we shouldn’t only listen to the not-nice guys, but I think we lose something if we ignore the jerks too.

The biggest thing that matters, I think, in a speaker is if they can speak confidently on what they’re saying, and since this guy basically told his life story, I think he nailed it.