Hi-tech heart attack

Published 10:04 am Friday, June 6, 2014

by James D. Howell

My ex-daughter-in-law, Kristen, got married a couple of weeks ago. She is more like our daughter and is an active part of our life. She’s been planning the ceremony since accepting the proposal from her longtime boyfriend about six months ago. This would not be such an extraordinary event but for other particulars of the wedding. Her ex-husband (my son) and his present wife were an integral part of the planning, decorating and organizing of the event. His wife was the wedding coordinator. Our family is a blended entity; we’ve learned how to love and respect one another.

We create table and room decorations, set up, break down and clean up the aftermath. Everybody participates in our family’s happiness.

Kristen asks me to take pictures of the event. I recommend that she hire a professional; she would have none of it. I do have credentials in that department, having photographed many weddings before retirement some years ago. I present a few caveats, like digital imagery, written to a disc, presented to the bride and whoever else wanted one. I also acknowledge that this aging body would probably not make it to the wee hours of celebrating. Those things are acceptable; she has others doing specific things and a video person to cover the exit, etc.

The wedding hall is beautiful with special flower arrangements and table decorations; the ceremony itself goes off without a hitch, and the deed is done. Everyone seems pleased and happy.

The following day, I plop my tired body in front of my computer, insert my camera’s memory card into the proper slot, and have a first look at 205 images. They appear acceptable at first glance and I decide to delete a few test shots that were done in my studio for preparations. I select the frames, hit “delete,” tell the computer “yes” when it asks me if I really want to do this, and watch 205 image files disappear from my screen. Heart attack. Blood drains from my head into my shoes. I sit, stunned, in disbelief. Oh. My. God. How am I going to explain this to my wonderful daughter? Or to other family members? Or to myself, in the dark hours before dawn?

I sit, barely breathing, trying to develop a story line that would work, trying to figure out what happened and what to do about it. My technical knowledge tells me that the files aren’t really gone, but my computer screen tells me they are. I think it best to do nothing. Somewhere in my memory, a small shaky voice tells me to not overwrite and to not format the card. I follow those directions; I know that the images are probably recoverable. It’s Sunday. No technical help is going to be available today.

I use some time to do research about recovering files and learn that the small, shaky voice was probably right. I confess my sins to my wife and feel a little better about it all. I do not make plans to run away to Bimini. Still, there are hours of agony ahead until I can know if the files are safe. I set a goal for Monday to find a competent computer shop that knows how to retrieve deleted files.

From my research, I know software is available and I could probably do the job, but I am taking no chances with those precious pictures. I want an experienced, walk-on-water-type to do the job. I am not going to trust myself any more.

Somehow Sunday night passes without further injury to myself. I am anxious to get going on the project of the day but have to wait the torturous hours before businesses open. I have several cups of tea and try to bolster my feelings with a little more research. A few phone calls (and visits to the nearest shops first) later I arrive at a company with whom I’ve had some positive experiences. I describe my plight and they respond “You’d be surprised at how much of that (recovering files) we do. “Joy to my ears, a little less angst in my spirit.

I leave the memory card in their capable hands. I think they might really be able to walk on water also.

The same afternoon, they deliver 205 image files written to a DVD, plus a few others that were resident on the card, but deleted. I didn’t cry in their shop, but my spirit was flying.

I’ve since downloaded software and learned to recover deleted files. It gives me a greater sense of confidence, and is certainly an inexpensive hi-tech heart attack preventer.

JAMES D. “ARCHIE” HOWELL is a Southampton County native and 1955 graduate of Franklin High School. He can be reached at archiepix@kingwoodcable.com