Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Family Ties

     I thought all my hard work was gone, lost somewhere in a computer, but my brother-in-law said he could get it back. It would be an understatement to say I was skeptical. In 1989, we still used those big discs to save data, the hard ones or maybe the floppy ones, I can't remember exactly.
     All I know is I was convinced my honor's thesis was lost forever because I hadn't printed it out. I couldn't see the words on paper and hold it in my hand.
     I can't even remember if I blamed the disc, my own carelessness or both. Did I forget to save it? My thesis was gone, regardless, and I had no idea how to get it back. So, I asked my favorite "computer geek" to come to my rescue with his magical ways.
     The details are fuzzy, and part of my "facts" are confused because I'm picturing myself beginning to panic in my dorm room at Ehringhaus, which doesn't make sense. I still used an electric typewriter when I lived there, freshman and sophomore years.
     It was my case study of terrorism and the media, the one about Eddie Hatcher and his sidekick, Timothy. The class itself was worth three credit hours plus that "with honors" added to my diploma. To me, it meant I had tried my best.
     But there I was, staring at a blank screen, wondering if it was all for nothing. My words had vanished forever into the never-never land of what was then modern technology.
     "It's in there, somewhere," my brother-in-law said, with a mysterious air of authority. "It always is, you just hafta know where to look."
      I still didn't believe him.
      Too many times in the past, I had lost stories at the news office during power glitches. The rule was to print as quickly as possible once I finished editing. We used word processors when I started working there in 1984. They produced long, blue strips of paper with holes in them, which we fed into a machine that turned them into columns of newsprint.
      The idea of something vanishing in a machine but still being in there was totally foreign to me, so I had to see it to believe it.
      I'm not sure how long I waited and couldn't begin to guess how he did it, but once my thesis reappeared on the screen, all my doubt went away. I would graduate with honors after all, thanks to my magical brother-in-law.
      I still save things to my computer more than is necessary, like a lot of people my age, but I don't waste so much paper printing things out. That's because I know even lost things can be found again once they are typed into a computer.
     When the Internet came along a few years later, it became even easier to find lost things and store new info in all sorts of places. Again, it was my brother-in-law who first tried to explain it to me and how it would change things forever by connecting people all over the world.
     I couldn't make heads nor tails out of what he was saying at the time; it sounded like a complicated telephone, but you better believe I was no longer a skeptic.
     Somehow, he just knew.