John Grindrod: The computer equivalent of watching that basket

By John Grindrod - Contributing Columnist

Last week I did a column that connected the dots between New York Giant defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul and his fireworks foolishness and Mark Twain’s admonition that, contrary to the well-known proverb about the imprudence of placing all one’s eggs in one basket, it’s OK to do so as long as you keep close watch over that basket.

Ironically, on the very same day that the column ran, I had an experience that spoke to me loudly and clearly, in explosive staccato fashion, that perhaps I should be a bit more tuned in to that basket proverb myself, while also qualifying myself to register for yet another sage ubiquitous saying, as in “Practice what you preach.” And, of course, that self-chastisement comes with a story.

Toward the end of a typically busy day for a guy who has a great deal of trouble taking his foot off the accelerator, I finally got a chance to sit down and check emails. I was particularly interested in trying to navigate Facebook, a site I rarely have the time and patience to address.

It was my younger daughter, Katie, who texted me a few days prior to tell me that some of my former students were remembering her pop fondly as someone who was able to help them along the way many years ago, so of course, I wanted to acknowledge their gratitude. At any rate, while logging on to FB, suddenly there came three very loud firecracker-type pops from the back of the computer tower, ones loud enough to elevate me off the seat an inch or two, and then the monitor went dark.

Immediately sensing the possibility of an electrical fire, I reached back and began pulling every cord I could from the power strip. Cords that went to the router, the printer, and the computer, they all got pulled!

Of course, my next move was to call my pal Mike O’Connor, who comprises one-half of the upper echelon of WCOIL, with his better half, Barb, making that echelon a whole number.

After hearing my tale involving the pyrotechnical display that emanated from the tower, 30 minutes later, Mike was walking into my house and asking me for a Phillips screwdriver, which happens to be in my wheelhouse. First, it’s one of the few tools I actually could pick out of a Lowe’s Home Improvement Store lineup by name and, second, I actually had said tool.

After unscrewing the back panel and peering in, Mike said this could be a classic easy fix or it could be the dreaded fried motherboard. He knew better than to venture any further with his instant diagnosis until he let his techs with much more knowledge of what occupied the space behind that tower panel got their look-see the next morning.

With tower under arm, he departed after a question I asked that he couldn’t answer with complete certainly, which was, whether I would lose all the data I had stored in the files, files containing a plethora of important email contacts that I use with great frequency, manuscripts for the two books I’ve managed to get published and almost 15 years’ worth of columns and feature stories written for the newspaper and magazines.

Through pursed lips, Mike could only answer, “I think you’re going to be all right, but I won’t know for sure until my guys look into this.”

Really, if I lost everything, it would be no one’s fault but my own for not watching my own basket carefully enough to back up the files. Mike and I had talked about that in the past, but it certainly wasn’t incumbent on him to nag me about it. After all, my friend is not my mother.

Really, I’m ashamed to present myself as such a knucklehead that I never told Mike to incorporate backup for what I don’t want to lose and include the charge on my monthly bill, but I didn’t.

Despite the fact that it was only 8 p.m. when he left, a combination of that fall-back time darkness with which I struggle each winter, the potential for a computer problem of significance, and also a belief that there is veracity to yet another old saying that things always look better in the morning, I went to bed.

With the morning came a bit of a sense of renewed optimism in life that, somehow, this would be OK, that the Wizards of WCOIL could fix this. And, whew, just short of noon, I got a call from Mike that, indeed, the problem was relatively minor, a bad power supply, not that motherboard meltdown apocalyptic event, and that all my data had been saved and a tech was on his way out to hook me back up again.

I told Mike that I owed it both to WCOIL and to the computer gods to have him enact the backup system and rectify what should have been done years ago. So, while pretty much all my literary eggs remain in my home computer basket, thanks to a time when life gave me far more luck than I probably deserve, at least I’m keeping more careful watch over that basket.

By John Grindrod

Contributing Columnist

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at

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